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Title: The Courtships of Queen Elizabeth - A history of the various negotiations for her marriage
Author: Hume, Martin A. S. (Martin Andrew Sharp)
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcriber’s Note: Table of Contents added by Transcriber and placed
in the Public Domain.



CONTENTS


    PREFACE                           v
    Chapter I                         1
    Chapter II                       24
    Chapter III                      53
    Chapter IV                       88
    Chapter V                       114
    Chapter VI                      152
    Chapter VII                     172
    Chapter VIII                    182
    Chapter IX                      199
    Chapter X                       220
    Chapter XI                      237
    Chapter XII                     255
    Chapter XIII                    283
    Chapter XIV                     302
    Chapter XV                      316
    INDEX                           335



_THE COURTSHIPS OF QUEEN ELIZABETH_

[Illustration]

[Illustration:

    W.L. Colls. Ph. Sc.

    QUEEN ELIZABETH,
    FROM THE ORIGINAL PORTRAIT BY ZUCCHERO,
    IN HAMPTON COURT PALACE.
]



    THE COURTSHIPS OF
    QUEEN ELIZABETH

    A HISTORY OF THE VARIOUS
    NEGOTIATIONS FOR HER MARRIAGE
    BY MARTIN A. S. HUME, F. R. HIST. S.
    EDITOR OF THE CALENDAR OF SPANISH STATE
    PAPERS OF ELIZABETH (PUBLIC RECORD OFFICE)

[Illustration]

    “AND THE IMPERIAL VOTARESS PASSED ON
    IN MAIDEN MEDITATION FANCY FREE”

                _Midsummer Night’s Dream_

    NEW YORK: MACMILLAN & Co.
    LONDON: T. FISHER UNWIN
    MDCCCXCVI



[Illustration]

PREFACE.


It has been my pleasant duty to consider carefully in chronological
order a great mass of diplomatic documents of the time of Elizabeth, in
which are reflected, almost from day to day, the continually shifting
aspects of political affairs, and the varying attitudes of the Queen
and her ministers in dealing therewith. I have been struck with the
failure of most historians of the time, who have painted their pictures
with a large brush, to explain or adequately account for what is so
often looked upon as the perverse fickleness of perhaps the greatest
sovereign that ever occupied the English throne; and I have come to the
conclusion that the best way in which a just appreciation can be formed
of the fixity of purpose and consummate statecraft which underlay her
apparent levity, is to follow in close detail the varying circumstances
and combinations which prompted the bewildering mutability of her
policy.

To do this through the whole of the events of a long and important
reign would be beyond the powers of an ordinary student, and the
attempt would probably end in confusion. I have therefore considered
it best to limit myself in this book to one set of negotiations,
those which relate to the Queen’s proposed marriage, running through
many years of her reign: and I trust that, however imperfectly my
task may have been effected, the facts set forth may enable the
reader to perceive more clearly than hitherto, that capricious, even
frivolous, as the Queen’s methods appear to be, her main object was
rarely neglected or lost sight of during the long continuance of these
negotiations.

That a strong modern England was rendered possible mainly by the
boldness, astuteness, and activity of Elizabeth at the critical
turning-point of European history is generally admitted; but how
masterly her policy was, and how entirely personal to herself, is
even yet perhaps not fully understood. I have therefore endeavoured
in this book to follow closely from end to end one strand only of the
complicated texture, in the hope that I may succeed by this means in
exhibiting the general process by which England, under the guidance of
the great Tudor Queen, was able to emerge regenerated and triumphant
from the struggle which was to settle the fate of the world for
centuries to come.

            MARTIN A. S. HUME.

LONDON, _February, 1896_.

[Illustration]



[Illustration]

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.


    QUEEN ELIZABETH                         _Frontispiece_
                                             _Facing page_
    THOMAS, LORD SEYMOUR OF SUDELEY                     10

    ROBERT DUDLEY, EARL OF LEICESTER                    64

    HENRY DE VALOIS, DUKE OF ANJOU (HENRY III.)        128

    FRANÇOIS DE VALOIS DUKE OF ALENÇON                 272

[Illustration]



[Illustration]

CHAPTER I.

  Character of Elizabeth and her contemporaries--Main object of
      her policy--Youth of Elizabeth--The Duke of Angoulême--
      Philip of Spain--Seymour and Catharine Parr--Mrs. Ashley’s
      and Parry’s confessions--Execution of Seymour--Proposed
      marriage of Elizabeth with a son of the Duke of Ferrara--
      With a son of Hans Frederick of Saxony--Courtney--Emmanuel
      Philibert, Duke of Savoy--Prince Eric of Sweden--Death of
      Queen Mary--The Earl of Arundel.


The greatest diplomatic game ever played on the world’s chessboard
was that consummate succession of intrigues which for nearly half a
century was carried on by Queen Elizabeth and her ministers with the
object of playing off one great Continental power against another for
the benefit of England and Protestantism, with which the interests of
the Queen herself were indissolubly bound up. Those who were in the
midst of the strife were for the most part working for immediate aims,
and probably understood or cared but little about the ultimate result
of their efforts; but we, looking back as over a plain that has been
traversed, can see that, from the tangle of duplicity which obscured
the issue to the actors, there emerged a new era of civilisation and
a host of young, new, vigorous thoughts of which we still feel the
impetus. We perceive now that modern ideas of liberty and enlightenment
are the natural outcome of the victory of England in that devious
and tortuous struggle, which engaged for so long some of the keenest
intellects, masculine and feminine, which have ever existed in Europe.
It seems impossible that the result could have been attained excepting
under the very peculiar combination of circumstances and persons then
existing in England. Elizabeth triumphed as much by her weakness as by
her strength; her bad qualities were as valuable to her as her good
ones. Strong and steadfast Cecil would never have held the helm so
long if he had not constantly been contrasted with the shifty, greedy,
treacherous crew of councillors who were for ever ravening after
foreign bribes as payment for their honour and their loyalty. Without
Leicester as a permanent matrimonial possibility to fall back upon,
the endless negotiations for marriage with foreign princes would soon
have become pointless and ineffectual, and the balance would have been
lost. But for the follies of Mary Stuart, which led to her downfall
and lifelong imprisonment, the Catholic party in England could never
have been subjected so easily as it was. Elizabeth, with little fixed
religious conviction, would, with her characteristic instability,
almost certainly at one difficult juncture or another have been drawn
into a recognition of the papal power, and so would have destroyed the
nice counterpoise, but for the unexampled fact that such recognition
would have upset her own legitimacy and right to reign. The combination
of circumstances on the Continent also seems to have been exactly that
necessary to aid the result most favourable to English interests; and
the special personal qualities both of Philip II. and Catharine de
Medici were as if expressly moulded to contribute to the same end.
But propitious, almost providential, as the circumstances were, the
making of England and the establishment of Protestantism as a permanent
power in Europe could never have been effected without the supreme and
sustained statecraft of the Queen and her great minister. The nimble
shifting from side to side, the encouragement or discouragement of the
French and Flemish Protestants as the policy of the moment dictated,
the alternate flouting and flattering of the rival powers, and the
agile utilisation of the Queen’s sex and feminine love of admiration
to provoke competing offers for her hand, all exhibit statesmanship
as keen as it was unscrupulous. The political methods adopted were
perhaps those which met with general acceptance at the time, but the
dexterous juggling through a long course of years with regard to
Elizabeth’s marriage is unexampled in the history of government. Not
a point was missed. Full advantage was taken of the Queen’s maiden
state, of her feminine fickleness, of her solitary sovereignty, of her
assumed religious uncertainty, of her accepted beauty, and of the keen
competition for her hand. In very many cases neither the wooer nor the
wooed was in earnest, and the courtship was merely a polite fiction to
cover other objects; but at least on two occasions, if not three, the
Queen was very nearly forced by circumstances or her own feelings into
a position which would have made her marriage inevitable. Her caution,
however, on each occasion caused her to withdraw in time without mortal
offence to the family of her suitor; and to the end of her days she was
able, painted old harridan though she was, to act coquettishly the
part of the peerless beauty whose fair hand might possibly reward the
devoted admiration paid to her, with their tongues in their cheeks,
by the bright young gallants who sought her smiles. The story of the
various negotiations for the Queen’s marriage has been told in more or
less detail in the histories of the times, but no comprehensive view
has yet been given of the marriage negotiations alone: nor has their
successive relation to other events been set forth as a connected
narrative. Within the last few years much new material for such a
narrative has become available both in England and on the Continent,
and it is now possible to see with a certain amount of clearness the
hands of the other players besides that of the English Queen. The
approaches made to Elizabeth by the brothers de Valois, or rather
by their intriguing mother, Catharine de Medici, have been related
somewhat fully, mainly from the documents in the National Library in
Paris, by the Count de la Ferrière,[1] and the recent publication of
the Spanish State Papers at Simancas of the reign of Elizabeth by
the Record Office,[2] puts us into possession of a vast quantity of
hitherto unused material of the highest interest, especially with
regard to the matrimonial overtures made by Philip II. and the princes
of the house of Austria; whilst the full text of the extraordinary
private letters to and from the Queen in relation to the Alençon match,
1579-82, printed by the Historical MSS. Commission from the Hatfield
Papers, affords an opportunity of the greatest value for criticising
the by-play in this curious comedy. From these sources, from the
Walsingham Papers from the French diplomatic correspondence, from the
Foreign, Domestic, and Venetian Calendars of State Papers, and from the
various contemporary and later chroniclers of the times, it is proposed
to construct a consecutive narrative of most of the important attempts
made to persuade the “Virgin Queen” to abandon her much-boasted
celibacy.

In October, 1532, exactly eleven months before the birth of Elizabeth,
Henry VIII. paid his pompous visit to the French king, accompanied
by his privately married wife, Anne Boleyn, Marchioness of Pembroke.
He had deeply offended the Spanish Emperor by his treatment of Queen
Catharine, and felt the need of drawing closer the bonds of union with
Francis I., which twelve years before had been tied on the Field of the
Cloth of Gold; and almost as soon as the little Princess Elizabeth was
born, negotiations were opened for her marriage with the child-prince,
Duke of Angoulême, third son of Francis I. Henry asked for too much,
as was his wont. He required the French king and his nobles to make a
declaration of approval of the Act of Succession which had been passed
in England defying the Pope and settling the crown on the issue of Anne
Boleyn. Francis was to press the Pope to revoke the anathemas that the
Church had hurled upon the schismatic king, and the little prince was
to be brought up in England, holding his dukedom as an independent fief
of the French crown. The last two demands might have been complied
with, as they could subsequently have been revoked, but the eldest son
of the Church could never accept the first article, which would have
brought him into definite defiance of the papacy; and the negotiation
fell through.

Elizabeth was only three years old when her mother’s fall removed her
from the line of the succession, and with the strange vicissitudes of
her early girlhood we have nothing here to do. When, however, in 1542,
the death of James V. of Scotland and the almost simultaneous birth of
his daughter Mary seemed to bring nearer to its consummation Henry’s
idea of a union of the two crowns, he proposed to marry the baby Queen
of Scots to his own infant son and at the same time offered the hand of
Elizabeth, who was then nine years old, to the Earl of Arran, head of
the house of Hamilton, the next heir to the Scottish crown. The man was
nearly an idiot and failed to see the advantages of such a connection,
the consequence being that French intrigue and French money, backed up
by the influence of the Queen Dowager of Scotland, Mary of Lorraine,
were victorious; and Henry was thwarted of his desire. The fact that he
had been checkmated by the French king in this matter rankled in his
breast and caused that foolish and profitless war, in alliance with the
Emperor, against France, which is principally remembered for the siege
and capture and subsequent loss of Boulogne. Charles V. tried very hard
to get his cousin, Mary Tudor, Henry’s elder daughter, acknowledged as
legitimate, but although this was not done in so many words, both she
and her sister Elizabeth were restored to their respective places in
the line of succession; and whilst the treaty of alliance between the
two sovereigns was under discussion a suggestion was made that Charles’
son, Philip of Spain, then a lad of seventeen, should be betrothed
to Elizabeth, who was eleven. It was probably never meant to be
anything but a compliment, and certainly would not have been seriously
entertained by the Emperor, but in any case the suggestion was quietly
dropped and Spanish and English interests rapidly drifted apart again.
In January, 1547, Henry VIII. died, leaving the succession to his two
daughters in tail after his child-son Edward VI. and his heirs. The
Queen Dowager, Catharine Parr, immediately married Sir Thomas Seymour,
brother of the Protector Somerset, and uncle of the little King. To
their care was confided Princess Elizabeth, then a girl of fourteen,
who resided principally in the Queen’s dower houses at Chelsea and
Hanworth, and it was at this critical period of her life that her
personal interest in her love affairs may be said to have commenced.

When, subsequent to the death of the Queen Dowager, a short year
afterwards, her husband’s ambitious schemes had aroused the jealousy of
his all-powerful brother, one of the charges made against him was that
he had planned to marry the Princess Elizabeth and use her as one of
his instruments for obtaining supreme power. The original confessions
and declarations of those who were supposed to be concerned with him in
the plot, which are still amongst Lord Salisbury’s papers at Hatfield,
were published in full many years ago by Haynes, and have more recently
been calendared by the Historical MSS. Commission. They have been used
by all historians of the times, and there is no intention of repeating
here fully the oft-told story divulged by these curious declarations.
It is needless to say that they disclose scandalous treatment of a
young and sensitive girl both by Seymour and Catharine Parr, even
after allowing for the free manners then prevalent. It is difficult
to understand, indeed, what can have been Seymour’s real intention
towards the Princess, unless it was the guilty satisfaction of his own
passions. His wife was young and healthy, and in the natural course
of events might have been expected to live long, so that he could
hardly have looked forward to his marriage with Elizabeth; and yet Mrs.
Ashley,[3] her governess, confessed in the Tower in February, 1549,
that Seymour was in the habit of visiting the girl’s bedroom before
she was dressed, sometimes by himself and sometimes with his wife, and
there indulged in much indelicate and suggestive romping, in which
Catharine Parr herself occasionally took part. Thomas Parry,[4] the
cofferer, repeats in his confession a story told him by Mrs. Ashley
which carries the matter somewhat further. “She said the Lord Admiral
loved the Lady Elizabeth but too well, and had done so for a good
while, and this was the cause that the Queen was jealous of him and
Lady Elizabeth. On one occasion the Queen coming suddenly upon them
had found him holding the Lady Elizabeth in his arms; upon which she
fell out with them both, and this was the cause why the Queen and Lady
Elizabeth parted.”

Whatever may have been Seymour’s intentions towards Elizabeth during
his wife’s life, he left them in no doubt as soon as she died. For a
conspirator, indeed, he was the most open-mouthed person imaginable.
By the confessions, early in 1549, of Wightman, Sharington, Dorset,
Harrington, and Parry, it would appear that he had openly expressed
his discontent with his brother’s supremacy and made no secret of his
pretensions to the guardianship of the young King and the hand of
Elizabeth. His accomplice, Sharington, master of the Bristol mint, was
coining testoons out of the national treasure, and hoarding vast sums
of coin for his use; noblemen were advised by him to retire to their
estates and raise forces to support him; and the seizure of himself
and his friends was a mere movement of self-defence on the part of the
Protector. With regard to the match with Elizabeth, Parry appears to
have been the first person approached directly. He was closely attached
to the person of the Princess, and had been sent to Seymour ostensibly
to ask for the use of Durham Place as a temporary town residence for
her. Seymour said this could not be, as the house was to be made into
a mint, but she could have his own house to stay in until she could
see the King. Parry confesses that Seymour asked him many questions
about Elizabeth’s pecuniary means; and when he got back to Hatfield
the cofferer asked the young Princess whether she would be willing to
accept Seymour for a husband if the Council were agreeable. She asked
Parry sharply who told him to put such a question to her, to which
he answered that “nobody had done so, but he thought he perceived by
Seymour’s inquiries that he was given that way.” “She said that she
could not tell her mind therein.”[5]

When the Master of the Household and Denny suddenly arrived at Hatfield
to interrogate the household as to their communications with Seymour
Parry quite lost his head, “went to his own chamber and said to his
wife, 'I would I had never been born, for I am undone,’ and wrung
his hands, cast away his chain from his neck and his rings from his
fingers.”

Elizabeth’s profound diplomacy and quick intelligence were shown even
thus early at this critical juncture. Sir Robert Tyrwhitt and his wife
were sent by the Protector to worm out of her all she knew of the plot.
Threats, cajolery, forged letters and invented confessions, were all
tried upon her in vain. She would tell nothing of importance. “She
hath,” says Tyrwhitt, “a very good wit and nothing is gotten of her
but by great policy.” She bitterly resented the imprisonment of her
governess, Mrs. Ashley, and the substitution of Lady Tyrwhitt; and said
that she had not so behaved that they need put more mistresses upon
her; wept all night and sulked all day, but withal was too much for
Tyrwhitt, who avowed that “if he had to say his fantasy he thinks it
more meet she should have two governesses than one.”

[Illustration: _Thomas, Lord Seymour of Sudeley._]

The confessions of Parry and Ashley with regard to Elizabeth’s conduct,
and their own, are bad enough; but they probably kept back far more
than they told, for on Elizabeth’s succession, and for the rest of
their lives, they were treated with marked favour: Parry was
knighted and made Treasurer of the Household, and on Mrs. Ashley’s
death in July, 1565, the Queen visited her in person and mourned her
with great grief. It is probable that the inexperienced girl was really
in love with the handsome, showy Seymour; but how far their relations
went will most likely never now be known. She indignantly wrote to the
Protector complaining of the slanders that were current about her, to
the effect that she was with child by the Lord Admiral and demanded to
be allowed to come to Court and “show herself as she was”; but virtuous
indignation, real and assumed, was always one of her favourite weapons.
Tyrwhitt said he believed a secret compact had been entered into
between her and Ashley and Parry never to confess during their lives.
“They all sing one song and she hath set the note for them.”

After this dangerous escapade and the execution of Seymour, Elizabeth
became almost ostentatiously saintly and straitlaced, until the
accession of her sister made her the heiress presumptive to the crown
and the hope of the Protestant party, now that Northumberland’s
nominees had been disposed of. Even before this event, the reforming
party in England were anxious to further strengthen themselves by
allying her to a foreign prince of Protestant leanings, not powerful
enough to force her claims to the crown upon them, but of sufficient
weight to give them moral support, whilst removing her from the way
in England. As early as August, 1551, Northumberland (or, as he was
then, the Earl of Warwick) had put his agents upon the alert on the
Continent to find a suitable match for her, and one of them, Sir
Anthony Guidotti,[6] says that the Duke of Guise had suggested the
Duke of Ferrara’s son, “who was one of the goodliest young men of
all Italy.” The youth was a son of that Renée of France, Duchess
of Ferrara, who vied with her kinswoman, Jeanne d’Albret, in her
attachment to the reformed faith, but Northumberland would hardly
accept the recommendation of the Guises as disinterested; and the
matter went no further. The same agent suggests that the son of the
Duke of Florence (Medici) who was then only eleven years old might do,
and “if this party were liked it were an easy matter to be concluded
without any excessive dote.” This was less likely to please even
than the previous proposal, and nothing was done; but the Ferrara
family were apparently anxious for the connection, and early in 1553
Sir Richard Morysine,[7] the English envoy in Antwerp, wrote to the
Council reporting that Francesco d’Este, the brother of the Duke
of Ferrara, had approached him on the matter and had asked for a
description of the Princess. Morysine replied that “If God had made
her Grace a poor man’s daughter he did not know of a prince that might
not think himself happy to be the husband of such a lady,” and added
that d’Este was of the same opinion “at present.” A much more likely
match had been privately suggested to Cecil by Morysine shortly before
this.[8] “Hans Frederick’s (of Saxony) second son, who is the goodlier
gentleman, would, if he durst, bear a great affection towards the Lady
Elizabeth’s grace. The land in Germany is divided, and as much comes
to the second son as to the eldest, which eldest is thought to be
of no long life. Were Dukes Maurice and Frederick to die their lands
go to Hans Frederick’s sons.” But the collapse of Northumberland and
the accession of Mary entirely changed Elizabeth’s prospects, so that
her marriage had to be considered in conjunction with Mary’s own, and
the capture of the Queen by the Spanish interest made it desirable
to secure her sister if possible for the same side. In the autumn of
1553, Simon Renard had suggested to Mary a marriage between herself
and Prince Philip. She herself was in grave doubt at that time and
afterwards as to its wisdom or practicability. Young Courtney had been
designated by the public voice as the most fitting consort for her; and
although the romantic theories of many historians as to her supposed
attachment to him are unsupported by a single shred of evidence, it
is certain that for a time she seriously contemplated the wisdom of
conciliating English feeling by marrying the man who was one of her
first competitors for the possession of the throne. Gradually, however,
Renard, with his logical persuasiveness, convinced her that she would
acquire more strength by an alliance with the only son of the Emperor
than by a marriage “with one of her own vassals, without credit, power,
or assistance, who has seen and knows nothing of the world, having been
reared in servitude and never left England.”[9]

Renard presented the Emperor’s formal offer of his son’s hand to the
Queen on the 6th of October, and after some hesitation she asked him
to put upon paper his arguments in favour of the match. He did so
in a long paper dated the 11th, which will be found in the Renard
Correspondence transcripts in the Record Office. In it he tells her
that she is surrounded by dangers against which only a powerful
marriage can protect her. She has, he says, four sets of enemies:
namely, the heretics and schismatics, the rebels and friends of
Northumberland, the powers of France and Scotland, and Madam Elizabeth,
who would never cease to trouble and threaten her. Mary replied that
she knew all about the French intrigues, and was certain to be kept
well informed of approaches made by the French ambassador Noailles to
Elizabeth and Courtney. In conversation with Renard afterwards she told
him, and he faithfully transmitted the conversation to his master,[10]
that she had had a long talk with Courtney three days before at the
instance of his mother, and he had told her in all simplicity that an
English lord had suggested to him that he should marry Elizabeth, since
he could not now hope to obtain the Queen. If he took the Princess
either he or his heirs might hope to succeed to the throne as the Queen
was getting old. The idea seems to have originated with Lord Paget,
who was doubtless the lord referred to by Courtney, and who thought
to stand well with all parties in future by the device. As he was the
principal supporter in the Privy Council of the Spanish match, Renard
could not at first openly veto the suggestion. Mary consulted Renard
upon the subject, and told him that Courtney had said that his own
thought was only to “_marry a simple lady rather than Elizabeth who
was too proud a heretic and of a doubtful race on her mother’s side_.”
The imperial ambassador replied that such a marriage would have to
be very deeply weighed and discussed,[11] and so politely shelved
the question. On the other hand, the idea was zealously promoted by
Noailles, who, Courtney asserted some months afterwards, pressed him
warmly to marry Elizabeth,[12] and it was considered even by the
strongest Spanish partisans in the Council to be a happy combination
which would conjure away all dangers. How far Elizabeth herself was a
consenting party it is difficult to say, but Noailles, who was in the
heart of the intrigue, writes to his king on the 14th of December that
it depends entirely on Courtney whether she married him and joined
him in Devonshire to raise the flag of revolt. “But the trouble,” he
says, “is that Courtney is so alarmed and timid that he dares nothing.”
So Courtney disappears promptly from the scene where soon such rough
work was to be undertaken. Even before the arrival of Egmont in the
winter of 1553 to offer formally Philip’s hand to Mary, the Council
was mainly opposed to the match. Paget was first bought over with a
large sum of money, then Gardiner, Courtney’s greatest friend, was
reluctantly won with the promise of a cardinal’s hat, and others by
similar means; but the self-seeking Earl of Arundel immediately saw how
his own interests might be benefited by the Spanish match. De Noailles
says that he knew that at the Queen’s age, and with her health, every
month’s delay decreased the probability of her having issue; and he,
therefore, warmly supported the marriage with Philip, which could not
be rapidly effected, in order to marry his young son to Elizabeth,
and so, practically, get the reversion to the crown. The matter never
seems to have got beyond a suggestion; and the youth soon after dying,
Arundel, as will be told, subsequently became a suitor himself. But
whilst these nebulous speculations with regard to Elizabeth’s hand
were going on, Renard had been arranging a clever scheme by which the
Spanish party should ensure to themselves the control of England not
only during the Queen’s life but after her death. When Egmont and his
splendid embassy arrived all England was in a whirlwind of panic and
indignation at the idea of a Spanish match. Elizabeth had retired to
Woodstock, ostensibly on friendly terms with the Queen, but deeply
wounded at her contemptuous treatment, and at the equivocal position
she occupied, now that the divorce pronounced by Cranmer of Henry VIII.
and Catharine of Aragon had been quashed, and Elizabeth consequently
bastardised. Egmont was instructed to point out to the Queen that all
might be pleasantly settled by marrying her sister to the gallant young
Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy, the son of the Emperor’s sister,
and consequently first cousin to Philip. His patrimonial states, all
but a mere shred of them in the valley of Aosta, had been occupied by
the French in the course of the war, and the prince was fighting like
a hero in the Emperor’s army. But his blood was the bluest of any in
Europe, and before he could marry Elizabeth she must be legitimised
and placed in the order of the succession, without which the throne
would probably pass on Mary’s death to the French candidate, Mary of
Scotland. This was gall and wormwood to Mary Tudor. They could not
both be legitimate. If the grounds for the divorce of Queen Catharine
were good she was never Henry’s lawful wife, and her daughter had no
right to the crown. If they were bad, then Elizabeth was necessarily
the bastard that the law of England inferentially had just declared
her to be. The King of France, foiled in his attempts to prevent the
Queen’s Spanish marriage, instructed de Noailles[13] to use every
possible means to hinder a match between Elizabeth and Savoy, “poor
and dispossessed as he is”; and, alert as the ambassador was, no
great effort on his part was needed. The Queen, bitterly jealous of
her sister, who she knew was more or less openly working with the
Carews, the Courtneys, the Wyatts and others to undermine her throne,
peremptorily refused to rehabilitate Elizabeth’s birth. Then came the
Wyatt rebellion and Elizabeth’s imprisonment. In after years both
Philip and Elizabeth often referred to the fact that at one juncture
he had saved her life, and it is highly probable that the Princess was
released from the Tower in May, 1554 on the recommendation of Renard,
made in the name of the coming bridegroom of the Queen. De Noailles
writes that she was to go to Richmond from the Tower, and was there to
receive two gentlemen from the Emperor who were to sound her as to a
marriage with Emmanuel of Savoy. If she refused the match she was to
be taken to Woodstock under guard, again a prisoner. De Noailles knew
that the best way of preventing such a match was to arouse the Queen’s
suspicion that Elizabeth was plotting with the French. So with devilish
ingenuity he sent a man with a present of apples to the Princess to
meet her on her arrival at Richmond. The man was seized and searched to
the skin, and no letters were found, but to de Noailles’ undisguised
glee the Princess was hurried off at once to Woodstock without seeing
the Emperor’s envoys. Again by Philip’s intercession Elizabeth was
released, and invited to be present at the Queen’s entry into London
after her marriage. Philip had been anxious that his favourite cousin
of Savoy should have come to England for the ceremony, but Emmanuel
was in the midst of war in an important command, his own oppressed
people, the prey of a ruthless invader, were imploring him, their
prince, to come and rescue them; he was desperately short of money,
and his visit to England had to be deferred. Soon after the wedding
he sent a confidential envoy named Langosco to pave the way for his
coming, and subsequently (December, 1554) the Prince himself arrived.
Elizabeth’s town house, Somerset House, was placed at his disposal, and
he was made as welcome as his cousin could make him. Philip tried his
hardest to get him into the good graces of the Queen. She was kindly
and sympathetic; gave him the Garter, and went so far to please Philip
as once more to liberate Elizabeth at his urgent request, but she
would not let the Princess and her suitor meet. Emmanuel’s thoughts,
moreover, were elsewhere. An unsuccessful attempt was being made to
patch up a peace between Spain and France, and the young Prince’s
one idea was to get his patrimonial Piedmont restored to him in the
scramble. So he had to hurry back again to Flanders with nothing done
about the marriage. The idea was not dropped, however. Renard gave
wise advice to Philip in his constant letters. He told him, amongst
other things, that now that the Queen’s hopes of progeny had proved
illusive the only way to prevent England from slipping through their
fingers was to get command of Elizabeth. “You cannot,” he said, “change
the succession as laid down in King Henry’s will without causing a
rebellion. Marry Elizabeth to the Duke of Savoy, it will please the
English and be popular, provided that her right to the succession be
not interfered with; and it might be a means towards expelling the
French from Piedmont.” Philip’s agents found plenty of opportunities
for trying to ingratiate themselves with the Princess, but she was
cool and cautious; professed that she had no desire to marry, and so
forth. She was quite aware of the reason for the Spanish desire that
she should marry Savoy, and even thus early began her great policy
of keeping people friendly by deferring their hopes. As the clouds
gathered ever darker over the miserable Mary in the last sad months of
her life, and Elizabeth’s star rose, suitors became more plentiful. At
the beginning of 1558 Philip had sent haughty Feria as his ambassador
to his wife to drive her into providing men and money to help him
in his war against France. Calais and Guisnes had just been lost to
England, and Mary, all her hopes and illusions fled, was fretting her
heart out in despair. In April an ambassador arrived from the King
of Sweden, Gustavus, with letters to the Queen proposing a treaty of
commerce between the two countries, and the marriage of his eldest
son, Eric, with Princess Elizabeth. The ambassador was in no hurry to
seek audience of the Queen--her day was already on the wane--but
posted down to Hatfield to see the Princess, to whom he delivered a
letter from Prince Eric himself. The Queen was overcome with rage at
this and with fear that Philip would blame her for refusing his request
to restore Elizabeth in blood and marry her to Emmanuel of Savoy, and
thus giving rise to this embarrassing Swedish offer. Hearing that Feria
was about to send a courier to Flanders, she summoned him, and in a
violent passion of tears reproached him with wishing to be beforehand
with her in telling the story to her husband. Feria says, “Her Majesty
has been in great anguish about it, but since hearing that Madam
Elizabeth gave answer that she had no desire to marry she has become
calmer, but is still terribly passionate in the matter. One of the
reasons why she is so grieved about the miscarriage is the fear that
your Majesty should press her about Savoy and Madam Elizabeth. Figueroa
and I think that the opportunity of the coming of this ambassador, and
the illusion about the pregnancy should be taken advantage of to do so;
but it must not be done at the same time as we press her about raising
troops here. In short, I do not think now that she will stand in the
way of her sister’s succession if providence do not bless your Majesty
with children.”[14]

The Swedish ambassador was to have been openly reproved by the Queen
before the whole Court, but the Queen thought better of it, and
received him in the presence of Gardiner and the Marquis of Winchester
only. She dismissed him curtly--almost rudely--and told him that
after committing such a breach of etiquette as to deliver a letter to
her sister before presenting his credentials, he had better go home
and never come back to England with such a message as that again.
Before Feria left England to see his master in July, 1558, he visited
Elizabeth at Hatfield, and did his best to persuade her that she had
all Philip’s sympathy, and that her safe course would be to adhere to
the Spanish connection. He was no match for her in diplomacy even then,
and got nothing but smiles and genial generalities. In November Mary
was dying, and Dassonleville, the Flemish agent, wrote to the King
begging him to send Feria back again to forward Spanish interests, “as
the common people are so full of projects for marrying Madam Elizabeth
to the Earl of Arundel or some one else.” On the 8th of November a
committee of the Council went to Hatfield to see Elizabeth and deliver
to her the dying Queen’s message, begging her “when she should be Queen
to maintain the Catholic Church and pay her (Mary’s) debts.” Elizabeth
would pledge herself to nothing. She knew now that she must succeed,
with or without Mary’s good-will, and she meant to have a free hand.
Before the Queen died even, Feria, who had arrived when she was already
almost unconscious, hastened to Hatfield to see the coming Queen. So
long as he confined himself to courteous commonplace she answered
him in the same spirit, but as soon as he began to patronise her and
hint that she owed her coming crown to the intervention and support
of Philip, she stopped him at once, and said that she would owe it
only to her people. She was equally firm and queenly when Feria thus
early hinted at her marriage with her Spanish brother-in-law before
the breath was out of Mary’s body, and showed a firm determination to
hold her own and resist all attempts to place her under the tutelage
of Philip. A week afterwards the Queen died, and then began the keen
contest of wits around the matrimonial possibilities of Elizabeth,
which ended in the making of modern England.

The first letter that Feria wrote to Philip after the new Queen’s
accession indicated how powerless had been all his blandishments to
pledge Elizabeth. “The new Queen and her people,” he says, “hold
themselves free from your Majesty, and will listen to any ambassadors
who may come to treat of marriage. Your Majesty understands better than
I how important it is that this affair should go through your hands,
which ... will be difficult except with great negotiation and money.
I wish, therefore, your Majesty to keep in view all the steps to be
taken on your behalf; one of them being that the Emperor should not
send any ambassador here to treat of this, for it would be inconvenient
enough for Ferdinand to marry here even if he took the titbit from your
Majesty’s hand, but very much worse if it were arranged in any other
way. For the present, I know for certain they will not hear the name
of the Duke of Savoy mentioned, as they fear he will want to recover
his estates with English forces, and will keep them constantly at war.
I am very pleased to see that the nobles are beginning to open their
eyes to the fact that it will not do to marry this woman in the country
itself.... The more I think over this business the more certain I am
that everything depends upon the husband this woman may take. If he be
a suitable one, religious matters will go on well, and the kingdom will
remain friendly with your Majesty, but if not it will all be spoilt. If
she decide to marry out of the country she will at once fix her eyes
on your Majesty, although some of them here are sure to pitch upon the
Archduke Ferdinand.”[15] Feria was wrong in his estimate of Elizabeth’s
character. From the first she had determined to be a popular sovereign,
and all observers remarked her almost undignified anxiety to catch the
cheers of the crowd. She knew that the most unpopular step she could
take would be one that bound her interests to Spain, and particularly
a marriage with Philip. A French marriage was impossible, for the heir
to the crown of France was married to Mary Stuart, whose legal right
to the English throne was undoubtedly stronger than that of Elizabeth
herself.

So the Englishmen began to pluck up heart and to think that the great
prize might fall to one of them. Early in December the Earl of Arundel
came over from Flanders, and Feria remarks in one of his letters that
he had seen him at the palace, “looking very smart and clean, and they
say he carries his thoughts very high.” He was a widower of mature
age, foppish and foolish, but, with the exception of his son-in-law,
the Duke of Norfolk, the only English noble whose position and descent
were such as to enable him without impropriety to aspire to mate with
royalty, and for a short time after his arrival he was certainly looked
upon by the populace as the most likely husband for the young Queen.



[Illustration]

CHAPTER II.

  The Spanish policy with regard to the Austrian match--English
      suitors for the Queen’s hand--Arundel and Pickering--Philip
      II.--The Archduke Ferdinand--Lord Robert Dudley--The Prince
      of Sweden--Philip’s attitude towards the Austrian match--
      The Archduke Charles--Pickering and Dudley--The Earl of
      Arran--Dudley’s intrigues against the Archduke Charles’ suit
      --Death of Lady Robert Dudley--Prince Eric again.


In the same ship that brought Arundel from Flanders came that cunning
old Bishop of Aquila, who was afterwards Philip’s ambassador in
England. He conveyed to Feria the King’s real wishes with regard to
Elizabeth’s marriage, which were somewhat at variance with those which
appeared on the surface. Philip had now definitely taken upon himself
the championship of the Catholic supremacy, and his interests were
hourly drifting further away from those of his Austrian kinsmen, who
were largely dependent upon the reforming German princes. This was the
principal reason why Sussex and other moderate Protestants in England
were promoting an Austrian marriage which, it was assumed, would
conciliate Philip without binding England to the ultra-Catholic party.
The Bishop’s instructions were to throw cold water on the scheme whilst
outwardly appearing to favour it, but if he saw that such a marriage
was inevitable, then he was to get the whole credit of it for his
master, who was to subsidise his impecunious cousin, the Archduke, and
make him the instrument of Spain. Feria confessed himself puzzled. If
he was not to forward the Archduke Ferdinand, he did not know, he said,
whom he could suggest. Everybody kept him at arm’s length and he could
only repeat current gossip. Some people thought the Earl of Arundel
would be the man, others the Earl of Westmoreland; then Lord Howard’s
son, and then Sir William Pickering; “every day there is a new cry
raised about a husband.” “At present,” he said, “I see no disposition
to enter into the discussion of any proposal on your Majesty’s own
behalf, either on her part or that of the Council, and when it has to
be approached it should be mentioned first to her alone.” The first
step, he thought, should be to arouse the jealousy of each individual
councillor of the Queen’s marriage with any Englishman; and at the
same time to work upon the Queen’s pride by hinting that she would
hardly stoop to a marriage inferior to that of her sister. He thought,
however, that a marriage with Philip would scarcely be acceptable, as
he could not live in England, and Feria was still in hope that if they
took any foreigner the Archduke Ferdinand would be the man. Feria’s
plan of campaign was an ingenious one. After he had aroused Elizabeth’s
jealousy of her dead sister and deprecated the idea of the degradation
to the Queen of a marriage with a subject, “we can take those whom
she might marry here and pick them to pieces one by one, which will
not require much rhetoric, for there is not a man amongst them worth
anything, counting the married ones and all. If, after this, she
inclines to your Majesty, it will be necessary for you to send me
orders whether I am to carry it any further or throw cold water on it
and set up the Archduke Ferdinand, for I see no other person we can
propose to whom she would agree.”[16]

Philip had sent to the Queen a present of jewels by the Bishop of
Aquila, with which she was delighted, and assured Feria that those who
said her sympathies were French told an untruth. She was indeed quite
coquettish with him sometimes, but he felt that he was outwitted. He
could get no information as he did in the last reign. The councillors
fought shy of him, anxious as ever for bribes and pensions, but willing
to give no return for them, for the very good reason that they had
nothing to give, they being as hopelessly in the dark as every one else
as to the Queen’s intentions. “Indeed I am afraid that one fine day
we shall find this woman married, and I shall be the last man in the
place to know anything about it,” said Feria. In the meanwhile Arundel
was ruining himself with ostentatious expenditure; borrowing vast sums
of money from Italian bankers and scattering gifts of jewels of great
value amongst the ladies who surrounded the Queen. He was a man far
into middle age at the time, with two married daughters, the Duchess
of Norfolk and Lady Lumley, and was in antiquity of descent the first
of English nobles; but one can imagine how the keen young woman on
the throne must have smiled inwardly at the idea of the empty-headed,
flighty old fop, aspiring to be her partner. “There is a great deal
of talk also,” writes Feria, “lately about the Queen marrying the
Duke Adolphus, brother of the King of Denmark. One of the principal
recommendations they find in him is that he is a heretic, but I am
persuading them that he is a very good Catholic and not so comely as
they make him out to be, as I do not think he would suit us.” At last,
after the usual tedious deliberation, the prayers and invocations for
Divine guidance, Philip made up his mind that he, like another Metius
Curtius, would save his cause by sacrificing himself. He approached
the subject in a true spirit of martyrdom. Feria had been repeating
constantly--almost offensively--how unpopular he was in England,
ever since Mary died. He had, he was told, not a man in his favour,
he was distrusted and disliked, and so on, but yet he so completely
deceived himself with regard to the support to be obtained by Elizabeth
from her people through her national policy and personal popularity,
as to write to Feria announcing his gracious intention of sacrificing
himself for the good of the Catholic Church and marrying the Queen of
England on condition of her becoming a Catholic and obtaining secret
absolution from the Pope. “In this way it will be evident and manifest
that I am serving the Lord in marrying her and that she has been
converted by my act.... You will, however, not propose any conditions
until you see how the Queen is disposed towards the matter itself,
and mark well that you must commence to broach the subject with the
Queen alone, as she has already opened a way to such an approach.”
It must have been evident to Feria at this time (January, 1559) that
the Queen could not marry his master without losing her crown. The
Protestant party were now paramount, the reformers had flocked back
from Switzerland and Germany, and Elizabeth had cast in her lot with
them. To acknowledge the Pope’s power of absolution would have been to
confess herself a bastard and an usurper. There was only one possible
Catholic sovereign of England and that was Mary Queen of Scots, and
it is difficult to see what could have been Philip’s drift in making
such an offer, which, if it had been accepted, would have vitiated his
wife’s claim to the crown of England and have strengthened that of the
French candidate.

In any case Elizabeth perceived it quickly enough, and when Feria
approached her and delivered a letter from Philip to her, she began
coyly to fence with the question. She knew she could not marry Philip;
but she was vain and greedy of admiration, and it would be something
to refuse such an offer if she could get it put into a form which
would enable her to refuse it. So she began to profess her maiden
disinclination to change her state; “but,” says Feria, “as I saw
whither she was tending, I cut short the reply, and by the conversation
which followed ... as well as the hurry she was in to give me the
answer, I soon understood what the answer would be ... to shelve the
business with fair words.” The end of it was that he refused to take
any answer at all, unless it were a favourable one, and so deprived
Elizabeth of the satisfaction of saying she had actually rejected
his master’s offer--which was a grievance with her for many years
afterwards.

Of all this the multitude knew nothing. They were busy with speculation
elsewhere. “Il Schafanoya,” the Italian gossip-monger, gives an
interesting account of the coronation ceremony and the self-sufficient
pomposity of Arundel, who was Lord Steward, “with a silver wand a yard
long, commanding everybody, from the Duke (of Norfolk) downwards.”[17]
Lord Robert Dudley as Master of the Horse “led a fair white hackney
covered with cloth of gold after the Queen’s litter,” but no one as yet
seemed to regard him as her possible consort. That came afterwards.
Schafanoya, writing to the Mantuan ambassador in Brussels (January,
1559), says: “Some persons declare that she will take the Earl of
Arundel, he being the chief peer of this realm, notwithstanding his
being old in comparison with the Queen. This report is founded on
the constant daily favours he receives in public and private from
her Majesty. Others assert that she will take a very handsome youth,
eighteen or twenty years of age and robust, judging from passion, and
because at dances and other public places she prefers him to any one
else. A third opinion is that she will marry an individual who until
now has been in France on account of his religion, though he has not
yet made his appearance, it being well known how much she loved him. He
is a very handsome gallant gentleman whose name I forget. But all are
agreed that she will take an Englishman, although the ambassadors of
the King of Sweden seek the contrary.”

The “very handsome youth” was perhaps the Earl of Oxford; the “handsome
gentleman” was certainly Sir William Pickering, who for a time was the
favourite candidate. It is known that there had been love passages
long before between Elizabeth and him, but to what extent was never
discovered. He can hardly have been a very stable character, for he had
fled to France under Mary, but had very soon entered into treacherous
correspondence with the Spanish party to spy upon the actions of the
Carews and the rest of the Protestant exiles. Shortly before Mary’s
death he had been commissioned to go to Germany and bring thence to
England a regiment of mercenaries which had been raised for Mary. They
were, however, used by Philip for his own purposes, and when Elizabeth
ascended the throne, Pickering thought proper to have a long diplomatic
illness at Dunkirk, to learn how he would be received in England after
his more than doubtful dealings. As soon as he was satisfied that
bygones would be bygones, he came to England in fine feather. Tiepolo
writes to the Doge, February 23rd: “Concerning her marriage it still
continues to be said that she will take that Master Pickering, who from
information received by me, is about thirty-six years of age, of tall
stature, handsome, and very successful with women, for he is said to
have enjoyed the intimacy of many and great ones.”[18] Parliament had
sent a deputation to the Queen to urge her to marry, and to represent
the disadvantages of a foreign match, to which the Queen had given a
sympathetic but cautious answer. This had raised the hopes of Pickering
to a great height, and in the early spring he made his appearance. He
had lingered too long, however. Lord Robert Dudley had already come
to the front. Feria wrote to Philip on the 18th of April: “During
the last few days Lord Robert has come so much into favour that he
does whatsoever he pleases with affairs, and it is even said that her
Majesty visits him in his chamber day and night. People talk of this so
freely that they go so far as to say that his wife has a malady in one
of her breasts and the Queen is only waiting for her to die to marry
Lord Robert. I can assure your Majesty that matters have reached such
a pass that I have been brought to consider whether it would not be
well to approach Lord Robert on your Majesty’s behalf, promising him
your help and favour and coming to terms with him.” At the same time
the Swedish ambassador was again pressing the suit of Prince Eric; but
he must have been extremely maladroit, for he offended Elizabeth at
the outset by saying that his master’s son was still of the same mind,
and asked for a reply to the letter he had sent her. “What letter?”
said the Queen. “The letter I brought your Majesty.” Elizabeth replied
that she was now Queen of England, and if he required an answer he
must address her as such. She added that she did not know whether his
master would leave his kingdom to marry her, but she could assure him
that she would not leave hers to be the monarch of the world, and
in the meanwhile she would say neither yes nor no. A messenger was
sent off with this cold comfort, and came back with fine presents of
furs and tapestries, and for a time Swedish money was lavished on the
courtiers very freely--and it is curious that the King of Sweden is
always spoken of as being one of the richest of monarchs--but the
ambassador became a standing joke and a laughing-stock of the Court
ladies as soon as his presents ran out. A more dignified embassy from
Eric shortly afterwards arrived with a formal offer of his hand, but
they were, as the Bishop of Aquila says, treated in a similar manner,
and ridiculed to their own faces in Court masques represented before
them.

A much more serious negotiation was running its course at the same
time. When the Emperor had been informed that Philip had desisted from
the pursuit of the match for himself, he begged him to support the suit
of the Archduke Ferdinand. It was considered unadvisable to mention at
first which of the Archdukes was the suitor, but Philip himself made
no secret of his preference to Ferdinand, who was a narrow bigot of
his own school; so the Spanish ambassador in England was instructed
to forward the matter to the best of his ability, in conjunction with
an imperial ambassador who was to be sent for the purpose. When the
instructions arrived, matters had gone so far that a secretary had
already come to London from the Emperor with letters for the Queen
and a portrait of Ferdinand. This had been arranged by Sir Thomas
Challoner, who had recently been in Vienna; but much doubt existed
as to the sincerity of Philip’s professions of good-will towards the
affair. Indeed, those who were most in favour of it appear to have
thought, not unreasonably, that the marriage would become impossible
if it were hampered with conditions dictated by Spain. The Austrian
match certainly had influential support at Court. Cecil, Sussex, and
all of Dudley’s many enemies thought at the time that it offered the
best way of checking his growing favour, and forwarded it accordingly.
In April Feria wrote: “They talk a great deal about the marriage with
the Archduke Ferdinand and seem to like it, but for my part I believe
she will never make up her mind to anything that is good for her.
Sometimes she appears to want to marry him, and speaks like a woman who
will only accept a great prince; and then they say she is in love with
Lord Robert and never lets him leave her. If my spies do not lie, which
I believe they do not, for a certain reason which they have recently
given me, I understand she will not bear children; but if the Archduke
is a man, even if she should die without any, he will be able to keep
the kingdom with the support of your Majesty.”

When Pickering finally arrived, therefore, he found the field pretty
well occupied, but his advent caused considerable stir. He was at once
surrounded by those who for various reasons were equally against Dudley
and a Catholic prince. Two days after his arrival Dudley was sent off
hunting to Windsor, and Sir William was secretly introduced into the
Queen’s presence; and a few days afterwards went publicly to the palace
and stayed several hours by the Queen’s side. “They are,” wrote Feria,
“betting four to one in London that he will be king.... If these things
were not of such great importance and so lamentable, they would be very
ridiculous.”[19]

Pickering’s arrival at Court is thus spoken of by Schafanoya, writing
on the 10th of May, 1559: “The day before yesterday there came Sir
William Pickering, who is regarded by all people as the future
husband of the Queen. He remains at home, courted by many lords of
the Council and others, but has not yet appeared at Court. It is
said they wished in Parliament to settle what title they should give
him and what dignity, but nothing was done. Many deem this to be a
sign that she will marry the Archduke Ferdinand, but as yet there
is no foundation for this, although the news comes from Flanders.
Meanwhile my Lord Robert Dudley is in very great favour and very
intimate with her Majesty. On this subject I ought not to report the
opinion of many persons. I doubt whether my letter may not miscarry
or be read, wherefore it is better to keep silence than to speak
ill.”[20] When Challoner had returned from Vienna he had brought with
him full descriptions of the Emperor’s sons. Ferdinand was a bigot
and a milksop, and Charles, the younger Archduke, was said to have
narrow shoulders and a great head. So when Baron Ravenstein arrived
in London on his matrimonial embassy the Queen was quite ready for
him. Ravenstein himself was as devout a Catholic as his master, and
was received very coolly at first. The Queen told him she would marry
no man whom she had not seen, and would not trust portrait painters;
and much more to the same effect. To his second audience Ravenstein
was accompanied by the Bishop of Aquila, as it was desirable that, if
anything came of the negotiation, Spain should get the benefit of it.
It soon became clear to the wily churchman that Ferdinand would never
do. He says: “We were received on Sunday at one, and found the Queen,
very fine, in the presence-chamber looking on at the dancing. She kept
us there a long while, and then entered her room with us.” The Bishop
pressed her, in his bland way, to favourably consider the offers of
the Emperor’s ambassador; “but I did not name the Archduke, because
I suspected she would reply excluding them both. She at once began,
as I feared, to talk about not wishing to marry, and wanted to reply
in that sense; but I cut short the colloquy by saying that I did not
seek an answer, and only begged her to hear the ambassador.” He then
stood aside and chatted with Cecil, who gave him to understand that
they would not accept Ferdinand, “as they have quite made up their
minds that he would upset their heresy,”[21] and went on to speak
of the various approaches that had already been made to the Queen;
politely regretting that affinity and religious questions had made the
marriage with Philip impossible. In the meanwhile poor Ravenstein was
making but slow progress with the Queen, who soon reduced him to dazed
despair, and the Bishop again took up the running, artfully begging
her to be plain and frank in this business, “as she knew how honestly
and kindly the worthy Germans negotiated.” And then, cleverly taking
advantage of what he had just heard from Cecil, he said that he had
been told that the Archduke had been represented to her as a young
monster, very different from what he was; “for, although both brothers
are comely, this one who was offered to her now was the younger and
more likely to please her than the one who had been spoken of before.
I thought best to speak in this way, as I understood in my talk with
Cecil that it was Ferdinand they dreaded.” The Queen at this pricked
up her ears, and asked the Bishop of whom he was speaking. He told her
the Archduke Charles, who was a very fit match for her as Ferdinand
was not available. “When she was quite satisfied of this,” says the
Bishop, “she went back again to her nonsense, saying that she would
rather be a nun than marry a man she did not know, on the faith of
portrait painters.” She then hinted that she wished Charles to visit
her in person, even if he came in disguise. Her thirst for admiration
and homage was insatiable, and, popular parvenue as she was, the idea
of princes of spotless lineage humbling themselves before her very
nearly led her into a quagmire more than once. She probably had not
the slightest intention of marrying Charles at the time, but it would
have been a great feather in her cap if she could have brought a prince
of the house of Austria as a suitor to her feet. But the Bishop was a
match for her on this occasion. “I do not know whether she is jesting
... but I really believe she would like to arrange for this visit in
disguise. So I turned it to a joke, and said we had better discuss
the substance of the business.... I would undertake that the Archduke
would not displease her.” The Bishop having soothed the Queen with
_persiflage_ of this sort, disconsolate Ravenstein was called back
rather more graciously, and told that, on the Bishop’s request, the
Queen would appoint a committee of the Council to hear his proposals.

In the meanwhile Dudley and Pickering were manœuvring for the position
of first English candidate. Sir William had now a fine suite of rooms
in the palace, and was ruffling bravely, giving grand entertainments,
and dining in solitary state by himself, with minstrels playing in
the gallery, rather than feast, like the other courtiers of his rank,
at one of the tables of the household. He pooh-poohed Ravenstein and
his mission and said that the Queen would laugh at him and all the
rest of them, as he knew she meant to die a maid. Pickering appears to
have rather lost his head with his new grandeur, and soon drops out
of the scene, upon which only the keenest wits could hope to survive.
His insolence had aroused the indignation of the greater nobles,
but somehow it was only the least pugnacious of them with whom he
quarrelled. The Earl of Bedford, who from all accounts seems to have
been a misshapen monstrosity with an enormous head, said something
offensive about Pickering at a banquet, and a challenge from the irate
knight was the immediate result; Dudley, of all men, being the bearer
thereof, always at this time ready to wound the extreme Protestant
party, to which Bedford belonged. But Pickering was as distasteful to
Catholics as to Protestants. On one occasion he was about to enter
the private chapel inside the Queen’s apartments at Whitehall, when
he was met at the door by the Earl of Arundel, who told him he ought
to know that that was no place for him, but was reserved for the
lords of the Council. Pickering answered that he knew that very well,
and he also knew that Arundel was an impudent knave. The Earl was no
hero, and Pickering went swaggering about the Court for days telling
the story. With such a swashbuckler as this for a rival, it is not
surprising that the handsome and youthful Dudley rapidly passed him in
the race for his mistress’s favour. Dudley played his game cleverly.
His idea was first to put all English aspirants out of the running by
ostensibly favouring the match with the Archduke, whilst he himself
was strengthening his influence over the Queen, in the certainty that,
when matters of religion came to be discussed, difficulties might be
raised at any moment which would break off the Austrian negotiations.
In the meanwhile the Queen coquetted with dull-witted Ravenstein, and
persuaded him that if the Archduke would come over and she liked him,
she would marry him, although she warned the ambassador not to give
his master the trouble of coming so far to see so ugly a lady as she
was. Instead of paying her the compliment for which she was angling,
he maladroitly asked her whether she wished him to write that to the
Archduke. “Certainly not,” she replied, “on my account, for I have no
intention of marrying.” She jeered at Ferdinand and his devotions,
but displayed a discreet maidenly interest in Charles, and, it is
easy to see, promptly extracted from Ravenstein all the knowledge he
possessed, much to Bishop Quadra’s anxiety. Feria had gone back to
Philip, with the assurance that she never meant to marry, and that it
was “all pastime,” but Quadra thought that she would be driven into
matrimony by circumstances. “The whole business of these people is
to avoid any engagement that will upset their wickedness. I believe
that when once they are satisfied about this they will not be averse
to Charles. I am not sure about her, for I do not understand her.
Amongst other qualities which she says her husband must possess is
that he should not sit at home all day among the cinders, but should
in time of peace keep himself employed in warlike exercises.” For many
reasons it suited Elizabeth to show an inclination to the match; for
she could thus keep the English Catholics in hand, notwithstanding
the religious innovations and her severity, whilst satisfying others
“who want to see her married and are scandalised at her doings.” But
the Bishop disbelieved in the marriage unless she were driven to it.
Whilst Ravenstein was being caressed and befooled, the French were
doing their best to hinder an understanding with him. There were sundry
French noblemen in London as hostages--and very troublesome guests
they were--who industriously spread the idea that it was ungrateful
of the Queen to disdain to marry one of her own subjects who had raised
her to the throne. When Ravenstein discussed this view with her, “she
was very vexed, and repeated to him that she would die a thousand
deaths rather than marry one of her subjects; but for all this,” says
the Bishop, “he does not seem to have got any further than usual with
his master’s affair.” And Bishop Quadra and his master were determined
he should not do so, except with Spanish intervention and on Spanish
terms, which would make the marriage impossible in England. Things were
thus going prosperously for Dudley. The Swedish embassy had come and
gone, “much aggrieved and offended ... as they were being made fun of
in the palace, and by the Queen more than anybody. I do not think it
matters much whether they depart pleased or displeased.”[22] It was
clear that Elizabeth would have nothing to do with “Eric the Bad,” and
the Archduke was now the only serious competitor; which exactly suited
Dudley, as he knew the insuperable religious obstacles that could be
raised to him.

But Dudley was not by any means the only artful or self-seeking man
in Elizabeth’s Court, and was not allowed to have all his own way.
The real difficulties of the marriage with the Archduke, hampered as
he would be by unacceptable Spanish conditions, were soon obvious to
the Protestant party, who tried a bold stroke, which, if their weapon
had been a strong instead of a lamentably weak one, might have altered
the whole course of English history. To a French Catholic princess,
as Queen of Scotland and heiress to the crown of England, the natural
counterpoise was a close alliance between England and Spain; but the
Protestants saw that, from a religious point of view, one position
was as bad as the other, and conceived the idea of encouraging the
claims of a son of the house of Hamilton, who, after Mary, was next
heir to the crown of Scotland. The Earl of Arran, son of the Duke
of Chatelherault was in France; and Cecil’s henchmen, Randolph and
Killigrew, were sent backwards and forwards to him and to Throgmorton,
in Paris, to urge him to action. If he could raise a revolution in
Scotland against papists and foreigners, and seize the crown, he might,
thought Cecil, marry Elizabeth, unite the two countries, and defy
their enemies. Trouble in Scotland was easily aroused; but the King
of France, just before his own death, which raised Mary Stuart to
the throne of France as well, learnt of the plan and ordered Arran’s
capture alive or dead. Killigrew managed to smuggle him out of France
disguised as a merchant, and took him to Geneva and Zurich, where
he sat at the feet of Peter Martyr and other reformers, and then
as secretly was hurried over to England in July, 1559. The Spanish
party and the Emperor’s ambassador soon got wind of it, and were in
dismay. The Earl was hidden first in Cecil’s house, and was afterwards
conveyed secretly to the Queen’s chambers at Greenwich. The news
soon spread, and the marriage was looked upon, all through August
and part of September, as a settled thing;[23] and, although Bedford
and Cecil went out of their way to buoy up the hopes of a marriage
with the Archduke, it was clear to the Spanish party that Arran was
the favoured man, the more especially that Mary Stuart’s husband
had now become King of France. But this did not suit Dudley. Early
in September Lady Mary Sidney, Dudley’s sister, came to the Spanish
ambassador with a wonderful story that a plot had been discovered to
poison the Queen and Dudley at a dinner given by the Earl of Arundel.
This, she said, had so alarmed the Queen, who had now a war with France
on her hands, that she had determined to marry at once, and awaited
the ambassador at Hampton Court with the offer of the Archduke, whom
she would accept. Lady Sidney professed to be acting with the Queen’s
consent, and emphatically insisted that, if the matter were now pushed
and the Archduke brought over at once, it could be concluded without
delay. The cunning Bishop himself was for once taken in. Before going
to Hampton Court he saw Dudley, who placed himself entirely at the
disposal of the King of Spain, “to whom he owed his life.” He said
the Queen had summoned him and his sister the night before, and had
directed them how to proceed. The marriage, he assured the Bishop, was
now necessary and could be effected.

The Bishop wrote to Cardinal de Granvelle directly after the interview:
“Lord Robert and his sister are certainly acting splendidly, and the
King will have to reward them well--better than he does me--and
your Lordship must remind him of it in due time. The question of
religion is of the most vital importance, as is also the manner of the
Archduke’s marriage and its conditions and ceremonies. In view of these
difficulties it would be better for the wedding to be a clandestine
one. I do not know how he will get over the oath that he will have
to take to conform with the laws of the land, which are some of them
schismatic.”[24]

The Bishop’s interview with the Queen, however, fairly mystified him.
She blew hot and cold as usual. “She hoped to God that no harm would
come to the Archduke on his incognito visit; she would be glad to see
him; but mind,” she said, “I am not bound to marry him if he come,”
which the Bishop assured the Emperor “was only dissimulation, and
she really meant to marry him.” She was very careful to repeat that
she had not invited the Archduke, and was not bound to marry him,
and went so far as to say she could not trust Quadra to state this
clearly, and would write to the Emperor herself. But whilst she said
it in words she took equal care to contradict it in looks and gestures
that could never be called up in witness against her. The Bishop was
at last completely won over, and strongly urged the Emperor to send
his son and seize the prize. This new turn of events hardly pleased
Cecil, but it was necessary for him to dissemble, for Elizabeth was
now at war with France and Scotland, and she could not afford to
give the cold shoulder to Spain as well. When the Bishop saw him on
leaving the Queen, he says: “I listened to him (Cecil) for some time,
and seeing that he was beating about the bush, I begged that we might
speak plainly to each other, as I was neither blind nor deaf, and could
easily perceive that the Queen was not taking this step, to refuse
her consent after all. He swore that he did not know, and could not
assure me,” and with this, and vague protestations of Cecil’s personal
wish for the Archduke’s success, the Bishop had to be contented. He
faithfully conveyed the Queen’s words to the Emperor, but her looks
and gestures could not be put upon paper, so that it is not surprising
that his Majesty could see no further assurance than before that he was
not to be fooled after all. Feria was more deeply versed in the ways
of women than was the Bishop, and on receiving the news, answered: “It
seems that the Emperor up to the present refuses leave for his son to
go, and, to tell the truth, I cannot persuade myself that he is wrong,
nor do I believe that she will either marry him, or refuse to marry
him whilst the matter at issue is only his visit.... As to what Lord
Robert and his sister say, I do not believe more than the first day
that the only thing the Queen is stickling for is the coming of the
lad.” There was one point touched upon by the Queen in her interview
with the Spanish ambassador, which, as he tells his own master, he
dared not refer to in his letter to the Emperor. After much fencing
and fishing for compliments respecting her personal attractions, and
expressed doubts on the Queen’s part as to whether the Archduke would
be satisfied when he saw her, she said that even if he were, he might
be displeased with what he heard about her, as there were people in the
country who took pleasure in maligning her. The Bishop wrote that she
displayed some signs of shame when she said this, whilst he parried the
point diplomatically, and hastened to change the subject. “I saw she
was pleased, as she no doubt thought that if the Archduke heard any of
the idle tales they tell about her (and they tell many) he might take
advantage of them to the detriment of her honour if the match were
broken off, although, from this point of view, I was not sorry, as the
fear may not be without advantage to us.” But to the Queen he expressed
himself shocked that she should think of such a thing as he had done
previously when Lady Sidney had hinted at a similar doubt. For the next
two months an elaborate attempt was made to keep up the appearance of
cordiality towards the Archduke’s match, and the Spanish party was
still further beguiled by the sudden tendency of the Queen to smile on
Catholicism. Candles and crucifixes were placed on the altar in the
Chapel Royal, and the Queen entertained the Bishop with long religious
discussions, for the purpose of inducing him to believe that she was a
Catholic in her heart. But they could not deceive the Bishop for very
long; nothing definite could be got from the Queen, from whose side
Dudley never moved, and by the middle of November (1559) the Bishop
satisfied himself that he was being played with. A new Swedish embassy
had arrived, and was being entertained with hopes for the first time,
particularly by Dudley, who thought that the Austrian suit, having now
served his turn and eclipsed Arran, was becoming too hot to be safe for
him. The Bishop writes: “I noticed Lord Robert was slackening in our
business, and favouring the Swedish match, and he had words with his
sister because she was carrying our affair further than he desired.
I have heard from a certain person who is in the habit of giving me
veracious news that Lord Robert had sent to poison his wife. Certainly
all the Queen has done with us and with the Swede, and will do with all
the rest in the matter of her marriage, is only to keep Lord Robert’s
enemies and the country engaged with words, until this wicked deed of
killing his wife is consummated. I am told some extraordinary things
about this intimacy which I would never have believed, only that now
I find Lord Robert’s enemies in the Council making no secret of their
evil opinion of it.” The Queen tried to face the Bishop with her usual
blandishments, but his eyes were opened, and when he pressed the point
closely, she became coolly dignified, surprised that she had been
misunderstood, and threw over Lady Sidney and Dudley, who reciprocally
cast the blame upon each other. The Bishop and the Emperor’s ambassador
were furious; and, as the best way to checkmate Dudley, approached
the Duke of Norfolk, who had been declaiming for some time against the
insolence of the rising favourite, saying that if he did not abandon
his plans he should not die in his bed, and so forth. The Duke, who was
the most popular as well as the most exalted of the English nobles,
listened eagerly to anything that should injure Dudley, and promised
all his influence and personal prestige in favour of the Archduke. He
recommended that the latter should at once come openly in state to
England, and he, the Duke, wagered his right arm if he did “that all
the biggest and best in the land should be on his side.” Whatever may
have been passing in Norfolk’s mind, there is no doubt as to what the
Bishop’s own plan was, to avenge himself for the trick played upon
him. He says: “I am of opinion that if the Archduke comes and makes
the acquaintance, and obtains the goodwill of these people, even if
this marriage--of which I have now no hope except by force--should
fall through, and any disaster were to befall the Queen, such as may be
feared from her bad government, the Archduke might be summoned to marry
Lady Catharine (Grey) to whom the kingdom comes if this woman dies. If
the Archduke sees Catharine he should so bear himself that she should
understand this design, which, in my opinion, will be beneficial and
even necessary.” The “design” evidently was the murder of the Queen and
Dudley, and the securing of Catharine Grey to the Spanish interest. A
daring plan, but requiring bold instruments and swift action. Weak,
unstable Norfolk was no leader for such an enterprise, as he proved
years afterwards. Whilst Quadra was plotting and sulking at Durham
House, Dudley’s opponents strove to checkmate him by keeping the
Archduke’s match afoot. Count Helfenstein had come from the Emperor
before the fiasco, and it was now proposed to send special English
envoys to Austria and to the King of Spain, the purpose of course being
to frighten the French into the idea that the matter was settled. One
day at Court Dudley and Norfolk came to high words about it. He was
neither a good Englishman nor a loyal subject who advised the Queen
to marry a foreigner, said Dudley; and on another occasion, Clinton
and Arundel actually fell to fisticuffs on the subject. The Swedes had
stood less on their dignity than the Austrians, and Eric’s brother,
the young Duke of Finland, had come over to press his brother’s suit.
When he arrived with vast sums of money for gifts, as before, he
preferred rather to become a suitor himself, but with little success.
When he begged for a serious audience he was kept so long outside
in an antechamber alone that he went away in a huff. The Venetian
Tiepolo writes on December 15th, giving an account of Arran’s defeat in
Scotland by the French, which, with his growing dementia, spoilt him
as a suitor; and Tiepolo goes on to say: “The Queen is still undecided
about her marriage, though amongst all the competitors she showed most
inclination for the Archduke Charles. The Duke of Finland, second son
of the King of Sweden, is with her. He came to favour the suit of his
elder brother, and then proposed himself, but the man’s manners did
not please the Queen. The second son also of the late John Frederick
of Saxony, who heretofore was proposed to the Queen by the French, but
was afterwards deserted by them because they wished her to marry an
Englishman ... has not relinquished his pretensions, and has sent Count
Mansfeldt to propose to the Queen. The King of Denmark, in like manner,
has not failed to exert himself, although the general opinion is that
if the affairs of the Earl of Arran prosper he will prevail over all
competitors.”[25]

All through the winter of 1559-60 matters thus lingered on. The Bishop
plotting and planning for the invasion of England from Flanders,
and completely undeceived with regard to the Queen’s matrimonial
intentions, whilst the English still desired to keep up an appearance
of cordial friendship with the Spanish party, as a counterpoise to the
King of France, with whom they were at war in Scotland. The Bishop
gives an account of an interview which he and Helfenstein, the new
imperial ambassador had with the Queen in February, and it is clear
that at this time she was again very anxious to beguile the Emperor
into sending his son on chance. But Helfenstein was a very different
sort of ambassador from Ravenstein, and she could not do much with
him; his idea being to hold her at arm’s length until she was forced
to write to the Emperor herself, as she promised to do, in which case
it would not, he thought, be difficult to construe something she might
say into a pledge which she could be forced to fulfil. “I do not,”
says the Bishop, “treat this matter with her as I formerly did, as I
want her to understand that I am not deceived by her.” Nor was he for
a time deceived by Dudley. “The fellow is ruining the country with his
vanity.” “If he lived for another year he” (Dudley) said “he would
be in a very different position,” and so forth. During the summer an
envoy named Florent (Ajacet) was sent by Catharine de Medici and her
son to propose as a husband for Elizabeth a son of the Duke de Nevers.
As may be supposed, such a match--or indeed any match recommended
by the consort of her enemy Mary Stuart, with whom her war was hardly
ended--did not meet with her approval, and the envoy then went to
Bishop Quadra and told him he knew of a certain way of bringing about
the marriage with the Archduke. His plan was that the Emperor should
prevail upon the King of France to give up Calais to England. This
was merely a feeler and absurd, as Francis II. had nothing to gain
by the Austrian match, but the Bishop maliciously told the Queen the
joke, as he called it, whereupon she was very angry that her claim for
Calais should be treated so lightly. She then told him that she saw
now she must marry without delay, “although with the worst will in the
world,” and tried again to lead him to believe that she was anxious
to marry the Archduke, “but I fear,” said he, “that it is with the
hope of gaining your Majesty’s favour in her cause, as she calls it,
with the French.... Religious matters make me believe that in case
she determines to marry, she will rather lay hands on any of these
heretics than on the Archduke. I understand now that the Earl of Arran
is excluded as being poor and of small advantage, and also because he
is not considered personally agreeable. They all favour the Prince
of Sweden as he is both heretical and rich, and especially Secretary
Cecil, who would expect to remain at the head of affairs as at
present.” Shortly afterwards, in September, 1560, Cecil took the Bishop
aside and complained bitterly of Dudley, who he said was trying to turn
him out of his place; and then, after exacting many pledges of secrecy,
said that the Queen was conducting herself in such a way that he,
Cecil, thought of retiring, as he clearly foresaw the ruin of the realm
through the Queen’s intimacy with Dudley, whom she meant to marry. He
begged the Bishop to remonstrate with the Queen, and ended by saying
that Dudley was thinking of killing his wife, “who was said to be ill
although she was quite well.”[26] “The next day,” writes the Bishop,
“as she was returning from hunting, the Queen told me that Robert’s
wife was dead, or nearly so, and asked me not to say anything about it.
Certainly this business is most shameful and scandalous; and, withal, I
am not sure whether she will marry the man at once or even at all, as I
do not think she has her mind sufficiently fixed. Cecil says she wishes
to do as her father did.” In a postscript of the same letter the writer
gives the news of poor Amy Robsart’s death. “She broke her neck--
she must have fallen down a staircase, said the Queen.” Thenceforward
Dudley was free, and the marriage negotiations had another factor to be
taken into account.

About a month afterwards Cecil came to the Bishop and said that as
the Queen had personally assured him she would not marry Dudley, he
urged him once more to bring the Archduke forward; but Quadra was
wary now, for he saw the design was only to arouse the fears of the
French, and he would take no hasty step. It is difficult to see how he
could have done so, for, after sending three ambassadors, the Emperor
had now quite made up his mind that the Queen should not again play
with him. Every weapon in the feminine battery had been employed--
maiden coyness, queenly reserve, womanly weakness, and the rest of
them, had been tried in vain. A good portrait of the Archduke had
been sent, and her own agents had seen him. If, said the Emperor,
this were not enough, the young man should come himself; but only on
a distinct pledge that she would marry him if he did. Beyond this the
Emperor would not go, and the Queen always stopped short at a binding
promise. Nor, indeed, would the match have pleased the extreme reform
party in England led by Cecil, Bedford, and Clinton, which was now the
paramount one. It was useful to Cecil, in order to play it as a trump
card whenever the negotiations with the French rendered it necessary,
but, at the time, undoubtedly the Swedish match was most in favour
with the Protestant party. Prince Eric was very persevering. When his
brother returned to Sweden he proposed to come to England himself,
but was induced to delay his visit; according to Throgmorton,[27] in
order that his father might abdicate, and he might get better terms.
“Both father and son, however, have sent to propose very advantageous
conditions to the Queen, should she consent to the marriage. They
will bind themselves to send to England annually 200,000 crowns to be
expended for the benefit of English subjects, and in time of war to
keep fifty armed ships at their own cost, with other private conditions
very profitable for England, which the King defers making known until
his coming to her.” It is evident that Eric was too much in earnest to
suit Elizabeth, and she had to behave rudely enough to him on several
occasions to prevent his ardour from causing inconvenience. It is more
than probable that she deceived Cecil and the rest of her advisers as
to her matrimonial intentions as completely as she did the suitors
themselves, and that she never meant to marry--except perhaps on two
occasions, which will be specified, when circumstances or her feelings
nearly drove her to the irrevocable step. Her own motives were less
complicated than those of her advisers, and the lifelong playing off
of France against Spain, of which her matrimonial negotiations were
a part, was obviously only possible whilst she kept single; whereas
party, religious, and personal affinities all operated on the minds of
her courtiers and ministers, and, to a certain extent, separated their
interests from hers.

[Illustration]



[Illustration]

CHAPTER III.

  Dudley and the Council of Trent--The Bishop of Aquila tricked
      --Eric makes another attempt--Dudley again approaches the
      Bishop--The suitors for Mary of Scotland--Darnley--The
      Archduke Charles--Dudley--Melvil’s mission to Elizabeth--
      Hans Casimir--French approaches.


When it was clear that the Archduke Charles was shelved and that Cecil
and the Protestants were urging the suit of the Prince of Sweden, who
evidently meant business, it behoved Dudley to make a countermove.
Bishop Quadra had over and over again said he had found him out, and
would not be deceived by him again; but in January, 1561, only four
months after Lady Robert Dudley’s death, Sir Henry Sidney came to see
the Bishop. Sir Henry was Lord Robert’s brother-in-law, and had always
belonged to the Spanish or Catholic party, and consequently was a
_persona grata_ with Quadra, especially as he was a near relative of
the Duchess of Feria (Jane Dormer) whose husband was the Bishop’s great
patron. He came (of course from Dudley), and after much beating about
the bush said that as the Queen’s attachment to Lord Robert, and her
desire to marry him were now public, he, Sidney, was much surprised
that some approach was not made to Dudley on behalf of the King of
Spain; as in the event of a helping hand being extended to him now,
“he would hereafter serve and obey your Majesty like one of your own
vassals.” The Bishop intimated that there was no particular reason
why his master should put himself out of the way about it, as he had
nothing to gain in the matter, although if the Queen expressed a desire
for his good offices he would be always ready to extend courtesy to
her. But really such strange tales were afloat, said the Bishop, that
he had not dared to write to the King about them. Sidney took the bull
by the horns and said that if the Bishop were satisfied about Lady
Robert’s death he saw no other reason for hesitation, “as after all,
though it was a love affair, the object of it was marriage, and there
was nothing illicit about it.” He had, he said, inquired carefully
into Lady Robert’s death, and was satisfied that it was an accident,
although he knew that public opinion held to the contrary. The Bishop
was very dubious upon the point, and said drily that it would be
difficult for Lord Robert to make things appear as he represented
them. Sidney admitted that no one believed it was an accident, and
that even preachers in the pulpits impugned the honour of the Queen in
the matter. This led him to the real object of his visit, which was to
propose that in return for the King of Spain’s help towards Dudley’s
marriage he would undertake to “restore religion.” The Bishop still
held off, reminding him of how he had been tricked by Robert and the
Queen before through Sidney’s wife, and refused to move unless the
Queen herself spoke about it and told him what to write to his master.
This, said Sidney, was impossible, unless he broached the subject
first, but promised that Dudley himself should come and state his own
case. The Bishop deprecated the making of any bargain about religion.
If Robert wished to relieve his conscience he would be glad to hear
him, but he could enter into no agreement to reward him for doing what
was the duty of every good Christian: all of which meant that the
Bishop was determined not to be caught again and made to act by vague
professions. In his letter to the King, however, he emphatically urges
him to take advantage of the Queen’s passion for Dudley to bring her
to her knees, “as she will not dare to publish the match if she do not
obtain your Majesty’s consent,” popular feeling being dead against it.
“There is not a person,” he says, “without some scandalous tale to
tell about the matter, and one of the Queen’s gentlemen of the chamber
is in prison for blabbing.” It was even asserted that the Queen had
had children by Dudley, but this the Bishop said he did not believe.
Shortly after this interview Sidney brought his brother-in-law and the
Bishop together, and Dudley, wisely avoiding any direct reference to
the religious bargain, merely asked the ambassador to recommend the
Queen to marry him. The Bishop said he could not do that, but would
make an opportunity for praising him to the Queen whilst speaking
of the advisability of her marriage. This was even more than Dudley
expected, and he urged that no time should be lost. Two days afterwards
the Queen received the Bishop, who more than fulfilled his promise
to praise Dudley; although he was careful to say that the King knew
nothing of the matter, but he succeeded in persuading the Queen that
his help would be readily forthcoming if it were requested.

“After much circumlocution she said she wished to confess to me....
She was no angel, and did not deny that she had some affection for
Lord Robert ... but she certainly had not decided to marry him or any
one else, although she daily saw more clearly the necessity of her
marriage, and to satisfy the English humour it was desirable that she
should marry an Englishman.... What would your Majesty think, she
asked, if she married one of her servants?” The Bishop replied that
he did not know, but would write and ask the King, if she desired
him to do so, although he believed his master would be glad to hear
of her marriage in any case, and would no doubt be happy to learn of
the advancement and elevation of Lord Robert, for whom he felt much
affection. The Queen had perforce to be content with this, which she at
once repeated to Dudley, who came to the Bishop to thank him. Dudley
was so elated at the almost unexpected help he was getting that, in
the fulness of his heart he repeated Sidney’s pledge that in return
the whole control of the Government should be handed over to the King
of Spain, and the Catholic religion restored. The Bishop stopped him
at once. He had done, he said, and would do, all he could to forward
his marriage, but he would make no bargain about religion. That was
an affair of their own conscience. “I am thus cautious with these
people, because if they are playing false, which is quite possible, I
do not wish to give them the opportunity of saying that we offered them
your Majesty’s favour in return for their changing their religion,
as they say similar things to make your Majesty disliked by the
heretics here and in Germany. If they are acting straightforwardly,
a word from your Majesty in due time will do more than I can do with
many.”[28] At the same time the Bishop made no secret to the King
of his opinion that unless the “heretics” were to finally prevail
Dudley’s marriage must be forwarded or a revolution and the removal
of the Queen carried out. Philip was even more cautious than his
ambassador. He was anxious to help Dudley on the lines suggested, but
there must be something in writing from the Queen and her lover, and
some prior earnest must be given of their chastened hearts in the
matter of religion, either by the despatch of plenipotentaries to the
Council of Trent or otherwise. Dudley was all eagerness to get the
matter settled, and for the next few weeks kept urging the Queen to
request the King of Spain’s good offices towards the marriage. But
the recognition of the Pope’s Council of Trent was a serious matter
and could not be done without the co-operation of Cecil. He had been
bought over temporarily to Dudley’s side in appearance by the gift of
some vacant sinecure offices, but he saw--as did the Queen in her
calmer moments--that the participation of Elizabeth in the Catholic
Council would ruin England by destroying the balance upon which its
safety depended. So whilst ostensibly countenancing it he artfully
frustrated Dudley’s plan. Francis II., Mary Stuart’s husband, was now
dead, and France was ruled by the Queen-mother Catharine de Medici,
whose tenure of power largely depended upon Huguenot support. So to
her was sent the Puritan Earl of Bedford to suggest joint action with
England in relation to the Council and religious affairs generally as
a countercheck to Dudley, and Cecil himself began to intervene in the
negotiations with the Bishop. He urged the latter to get his master
to write a letter to the Queen recommending the marriage, in terms
that he knew were impossible, and when the Bishop asked him point
blank whether this was the Queen’s message or his own, he begged that
a modest maiden like her Majesty might not be driven into a corner
and made to appear anxious for her own marriage. He further said the
intention was to summon Parliament, and lay the King’s letter before
it as an inducement for them to adopt the marriage with Dudley--a
course which he knew well would have an entirely opposite effect. The
Bishop soon saw the drift. “The sum of it all is that Cecil and these
heretics wish to keep the Queen bound and subject to their heresies,
and although she sees that they treat her badly, and especially the
preachers, she dares not go against Cecil’s advice, as she fears both
sides would then rise up against her. Robert is very much displeased at
all this, and has used great efforts to cause the Queen to make a stand
and free herself from the tyranny of these people and throw herself
entirely on your Majesty’s favour. I do not think, however, that he has
been able to prevail, as he is faint-hearted and his favour is founded
on vanity.” Sidney, Pembroke, and others, urged Dudley to action, but,
infatuated as the Queen was with him, she knew what a weak reed he was
in Council, and always checked herself in her passion to take the wise
advice of Cecil. For some weeks, however, the Bishop was deceived.
A great show of cordiality was made towards him; the Catholic nobles
and bishops, persuaded that Dudley’s suit was being pushed by Spain,
began to gather round the favourite, and ostensible preparations were
made for receiving the Pope’s Nuncio in England with the invitation
to the Council of Trent. The Bishop wrote to the King that, at last
Dudley “appeared to have made up his mind to be a worthy man and gain
respect.” Dudley was now more emphatic than before of his intention
to restore the Catholic religion in England, and the Protestant party
took fright. Greatly to Quadra’s indignation public opinion was excited
against himself as the promoter of a plot to restore Catholicism; the
Nuncio was informed that he would not be allowed to land in England,
the Queen refused to send envoys to the Council of Trent, Sidney was
hurried off to his Government in Wales, and, by the end of April,
Cecil’s underhand diplomacy had triumphed and Dudley’s plan to force
the Queen into a marriage by the aid of the Catholics was frustrated.
It is undoubted that the Queen was perilously near taking the step on
this occasion, and, but for Cecil, might have been betrayed into doing
so; although Dudley’s vain and giddy boasting, when he thought he had
triumphed on this and other occasions aided the disillusionment. Her
own imperiousness could not brook his assumption of superior airs in
her presence, and she quickly resented it. She would let them know,
she said, that in England there was only one mistress and no master.
Shortly before she had told Morette, who came at the instance of the
Duke of Savoy, to propose the Duke de Nemours for a husband, that
in England there was a woman who acted as a man, and did not need a
Granvelle or a Montmorenci to guide her. Elizabeth was now in the very
prime of her beauty and powers. Her complexion was of that peculiar
transparence which is only seen in golden blondes, her figure was
fine and graceful, and her wit and accomplishments were such as would
have made a woman of any rank or time remarkable. She was a splendid
horsewoman too, with a keen eye for popular effect in her actions, and
for ever on the look-out, as her ill-fated mother had been, for the
cheers of the populace. One of the German agents sent by the Emperor
about the Archduke Charles’s match, gave a glowing account of her.[29]
“She lives, he says, a life of such magnificence and feasting as can
hardly be imagined, and occupies a great portion of her time with
balls, banquets, hunting, and similar amusements, with the utmost
possible display, but nevertheless she insists upon far greater respect
being shown her than was exacted by Queen Mary. She summons Parliament,
but lets them know that her orders must be obeyed in any case.” Her
vanity was perfectly insatiable, and only those who would consent
to pander to it could hope for a continuance of her favour, always
excepting Cecil, but yet the great mind, the far-seeing caution, the
strong will, the keen self-interest, kept even the vanity and frivolity
in check when they otherwise would have led her into danger. As Dudley
was necessary to her weak side, so was Cecil needful to her strong one:
the one to amuse and gratify her, the other to counsel and sustain her
and to protect her against herself.

[Illustration: Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester.]

The Bishop attributed the approaches made to him by Dudley to a
deep-laid scheme to propitiate Spain until the widowed Mary Stuart
should be married, but he seems to leave out of account Dudley’s real
desire for his marriage with the Queen on any terms, and his wrath at
the fiasco. The Bishop thought the hand of Cecil had been forced by the
coming of the Pope’s Nuncio, and that otherwise the farce would have
been kept up for some time longer. In any case the Catholic hopes in
England and Ireland, which had revived at the news of the negotiation
with Spain, were speedily crushed by fresh persecutions, and the
Protestants in England, France, and Germany were for the first time
drawn together in a common understanding. That the Bishop was deeply
chagrined at the way he had been treated is clear by his behaviour
towards the Queen and Dudley during the entertainment given by Dudley
on St. John’s Day, 1561. It was only a month after the Nuncio had
been turned back, and the Catholic prosecutions were being carried
on vigorously. The Queen, Dudley, and the Bishop were alone in the
gallery of the State-barge off Greenwich witnessing the fireworks and
other entertainments, “when she and Robert began joking, which she
likes to do much better than talking about business. They went so far
in their jokes that Lord Robert told her that if she wished I could be
the clergyman to marry them, and she, nothing loath to hear it, said
she was not sure whether I knew enough English. I let them jest for a
time, but at last spoke to them in earnest, and told them that if they
listened to me they could extricate themselves from the tyranny of the
councillors who had taken possession of the Queen and her affairs, and
could restore peace and unity to the country by reinstating religion.
If they did this they could effect the marriage they spoke of, and I
should be glad to perform it, and they might severely punish those who
did not like it, as they could do anything with your Majesty (Philip)
on their side. As things were now I did not think the Queen would be
able to marry except when and whom Cecil and his friends might please.
I enlarged on this point somewhat, because I see that unless Robert and
the Queen are estranged from this gang of heretics they will continue
as heretofore, but if God ordain that they should fall out with them I
should consider it an easy thing to do everything else we desire.” No
action more likely to attain the end in view than that adopted by the
Bishop can be conceived, and had it depended upon Dudley alone, not
many days would have passed before England was handed over to Spain
and the Catholics for the satisfaction of the worthless favourite’s
ambition. Happily the Queen and Cecil had to be taken into account as
well, and England was saved. In August news came to England that the
new king, Eric XIV., encouraged by certain Puritan messages sent to
him when Dudley’s marriage was pending, was on his way to England. His
servants and household stuff arrived in Dover, with smart new liveries
and a showy stud of horses, and it was announced that the King would
follow at once to ask for Elizabeth’s hand. This was inconvenient,
for Mary of Scotland was still a widow, and the wedding of Elizabeth
to Eric would have been at once followed by the marriage of Mary to a
nominee of Philip, to the almost certain destruction of the Protestant
party. Elizabeth assured the Swedes that she had no intention of
marrying, refusing a passport for the King on the ground that it was
not becoming for a modest maiden to be always giving passports to a
young unmarried prince--besides, she had given him two already--
one of which he did not use and the other was lost. In face of this
coolness Eric affected to put to sea, but a providential tempest caused
him to return, and the affair was again shelved, the Queen in the
meanwhile dallying with Lord Robert, which she could do without much
danger to the State now that Cecil had upset his Catholic plan. But
Dudley’s personal enemies were always on the alert. Arundel considered
he had been insulted by him, and in revenge had a minute inquiry made
as to the circumstances of Lady Robert’s death, which disclosed very
suspicious facts. This humbled Dudley somewhat and made him more
cautious, but as he found the Catholics incensed against him, he tried
to balance matters by approaching their opponents. He sent an envoy
to Henry of Navarre with similar proposals to the Huguenots to those
he had previously made to the Spaniards and Catholics. If they would
uphold him in his pretensions to the Queen’s hand he would practically
hand over England to their control. They politely agreed, but knew
full well that the control of England was in stronger hands than his,
and did nothing to help him. It was little indeed they could have
done just then, for their own great struggle was yet before them, and
Dudley soon found that he had made a mistake. His sending Mowbray to
negotiate with Navarre had offended the regular English ambassador,
Throgmorton, and the noise of the intrigue had reached England, more
than ever irritating the Catholics against Dudley. The latter had no
scruples and no shame, and turned completely round again. In January,
1562, he once more went servilely to Bishop Quadra, professing his
attachment to Spanish interests and begging that Philip should write to
the Queen urging her to marry him. He was in a great hurry, and wanted
the letter before Easter; but the Bishop was not to be rushed into
another compromising position, and said that he had so often assured
the Queen of Philip’s affection for Dudley that a fresh letter from
the King was unnecessary, but he would again speak to her Majesty in
his favour. This did not satisfy Lord Robert, but it was all he could
get, and a few days afterwards the Bishop asked Elizabeth what was the
meaning of Dudley’s request, as Philip’s approval of the match had
already been expressed. “She replied that she was as free from any
engagement to marry as on the day she was born, no matter what the
world might think or say, but she had quite made up her mind to marry
nobody whom she had not seen or known, and consequently she might
be obliged to marry in England, in which case she thought she could
find no person more fitting than Lord Robert. She did not wish people
to say that she had married of her own desire, but that her friends
and neighbouring princes should persuade her to do so.” “This,” said
she, “is what Robert wants; as for me, I ask for nothing.” Seeing
that the Bishop still held off and refused to budge, she said it
was of no consequence at all. It was only for appearance’ sake. She
could as well marry without Philip’s approval as with it, but if she
did, Robert would have but small reason to serve the interests of
Spain. “I answered her in a joking way,” said the Bishop, “and told
her not to dilly-dally any longer, but to satisfy Lord Robert at once
... and so I passed over the question of the letter.” He, no doubt
correctly, surmised that the letter was wanted merely for the purpose
of mollifying the Catholics towards Dudley, and plainly told Philip
that if he were not prepared to force Catholicism upon England by an
invasion, there was no reason why the letter should not be sent, as
it would at all events please somebody, whilst his present attitude
of reserve pleased no one, and the English Catholics would never move
without active help. The letter, however, was never written, and three
months afterwards the Bishop himself had altered his opinion about
it. In April, 1562, he writes to Granvelle that the time had now gone
by for Philip to help Robert, as the Catholics were against him, and
instead of their being propitiated they would be alienated thereby.
“The Queen,” he says, “desires not to act in accord with his Majesty,
as will have been seen by her behaviour in this case and all others.
I have already pointed out that the letter they requested was only to
smooth over all difficulties here and carry out their own intentions.”
Quadra was now completely undeceived, and declined to be snared again
with matrimonial negotiations. Indeed, for the present, the point upon
which European policy pivoted was not the marriage of Elizabeth, which
had now grown stale, but that of the widowed Mary Stuart in Scotland.
The persevering Eric XIV., after yet one more repulse from the Queen
Elizabeth, had sent to propose to Mary--which, however, did not
prevent his ambassador in London from politely suggesting a match with
one of the daughters of the Emperor--Darnley, the Earl of Arran,
Don Carlos, and even the Archduke Charles, were already being dangled
before Mary’s eyes. Her uncles, the Guises, were in an atmosphere of
intrigue on the subject, and there was hardly a Court in Europe that
had not its own candidate for the Scottish Queen’s hand. Elizabeth’s
great efforts, seconded by those of James Stuart (afterwards the Regent
Murray), were directed towards preventing Mary from marrying a powerful
foreign prince, particularly a Catholic, and as a means to this end
the Huguenots in France were encouraged to break down the power of
the Guises. Catharine de Medici, the regent, was glad of the chance,
for she hated them; and now that their niece was no longer Queen of
France there was no excuse for their predominance. The best way for the
English to please the Huguenots was to flout Spain and the Catholics,
and the Bishop soon found that frowns instead of smiles greeted him.
Elizabeth had been informed that an intrigue was afoot to marry Mary to
Don Carlos, the vicious young lunatic who was Philip’s only son. This
would have meant the ruin of Protestant England and the strengthening
of the Guises in France, to the detriment of Catharine de Medici.
The plan of the latter, supported by James Stuart, was to hasten on
a marriage between Mary and Darnley. Elizabeth did not relish the
idea of the union of the two next legal heirs to her own crown, but
pretended to approve of it,[30] and Dudley promised Lethington to
support it strongly, in the hope that such a precedent might bring his
own marriage nearer. The Spanish ambassador was openly slighted, his
couriers stopped, his letters read, his secretary suborned, and he
himself placed under semi-arrest, charged with plotting against the
Queen. Among other things he was accused of writing to Philip, in a
letter that had been intercepted, that the Queen had been privately
married to Lord Robert in the Earl of Pembroke’s house. To this he
answered that he had merely written what all London was saying, namely,
that the wedding had taken place. “When he had said as much to the
Queen herself she was not annoyed thereat, for she had replied that
it was not only people outside who thought so, as on her return that
afternoon from the Earl’s house her own ladies-in-waiting, when she
entered the chamber with Lord Robert, had asked her whether they were
to kiss his hand as well as her own, to which she had replied no, and
that they were not to believe what people said.” The Bishop inserted a
sting at the end of his justification by saying that, considering the
way people were talking, he did not think he would injure the Queen
by saying she was married. Elizabeth’s next step was to send powerful
aid to the Huguenots in France, who were already in arms, to draw
closer the connection with the Protestants in Germany and Holland, and
for the first time openly to disregard Spain and the Catholic party
in Europe. With a divided France and a discontented Netherlands this
was possible as it never had been before. In the midst of the warlike
preparations in England to occupy Havre for the Huguenots, Elizabeth
fell ill of small-pox at Hampton Court, and was thought to be on her
death-bed. The consternation in the palace was great, as the crisis was
unexpected; but whilst the acrimonious discussions as to the succession
were still in progress the Queen rallied, and was pronounced out of
danger. The first thing she did on recovering speech and consciousness
was to beg the Council to make Dudley protector, with a peerage and an
income of £20,000. Everything she asked was promised, though, as Quadra
says, without any intention of fulfilling it. But Dudley and the Duke
of Norfolk were admitted members of the Council, which was a great
point gained for the former. When the Queen feared she might die she
protested solemnly before God that, although she loved Robert dearly,
nothing improper had ever passed between them.[31]

Parliament assembled early in 1563, and deputations from both Houses
addressed the Queen on the subject of fixing the succession. She was
extremely angry, and said that what they saw on her face were pock
marks and not wrinkles, and she was not so old yet as to have lost
hope of children. Subsequent attempts to approach her on the subject,
or that of the marriage, met with a similar or more violent repulse.
In March, during the sitting of Parliament, Maitland of Lethington,
Mary of Scotland’s famous Secretary of State, arrived in London for
the purpose of forwarding his mistress’s claim to the succession. He
soon saw that the Queen would have her way, and that no successor would
be appointed, the evident intention of both Elizabeth and Catharine
de Medici being, as Mary herself said, to force an unworthy or a
Protestant marriage upon her, in order to injure her prestige with the
English Catholics. Cardinal Lorraine and others were anxious that Mary
should wed the Archduke Charles, but Mary said she must have a prince
strong enough to enforce her claim to the English throne, which Charles
was not, and refused him, her own Catholic noblemen being also strongly
against him for similar reasons. The opponents of the Guises in France,
and the Protestants in England, were of course against the marriage
of Mary with a member of the house of Austria, so that, although his
name was kept to the front for some time, Charles was never a probable
husband for the Queen of Scots. In a long conversation Elizabeth had
with Maitland she told him that if his mistress would take her advice,
and wished to marry with safety and happiness, she would give her a
husband who would ensure both: and this was Lord Robert, in whom nature
had implanted so many graces that if she (Elizabeth) wished to marry
she would prefer him to all the princes in the world. Maitland said
this was indeed a proof of the love she bore to his mistress, to give
up to her what she cherished so much herself, but he hardly thought his
mistress, even if she loved Lord Robert as dearly as Elizabeth did,
would consent to deprive her of all the joy and solace she received
from his company. Elizabeth, after some more talk of this sort, said
she wished to God that his brother, the Earl of Warwick, had the grace
and good looks of Robert, in which case each Queen could have one of
the brothers. Maitland was much embarrassed by this unexpected sally,
and adroitly turned the subject to one that he knew would silence the
Queen. He said that as his mistress was much the younger, it would be
well that Elizabeth should marry Robert first and have children, and
then when she died she might leave both her kingdom and her husband to
Mary.

The Scots nobles at this time saw that, with Elizabeth and Catharine
united against their Queen, things were likely to go badly with her;
and even Protestants such as Maitland and Murray were desirous of
counteracting the opposing combination by enlisting the help of Spain.
Maitland, therefore, after much circumlocution and mystery, proposed
to Quadra that Mary should be offered to Don Carlos. The Bishop was
delighted with the idea, and sent the offer to Philip, who also
approved of it. If such a marriage had been possible, and had been
carried out swiftly and suddenly, it might have been the turning-point
to make England Catholic--but it was not to be. Events marched too
rapidly for Philip’s leaden method, and the opportunity was lost whilst
information, pledges, and securities were being sought from the Scotch
and English nobles, upon whom Philip depended for deposing Elizabeth
and placing Mary and her consort on the throne of Great Britain.
In vain through a course of years Philip was told with tiresome
reiteration that things could not be done in that way. The Catholics
would not rise without a certainty of aid, and the pledges could not
be all on one side. So, tired of waiting, at last the Scots nobles were
driven to consent to Mary’s marriage with Darnley, and she, for a time
at least, ceased to be the centre figure in the marriage manœuvres.

Sir James Melvil, one of those cosmopolitan Scotsmen who were in so
much request at European Courts in the sixteenth century, had been
sent by the Emperor and the Elector Palatine, to whom he was then
attached, to propose a marriage between the boy-king, Charles IX.,
and one of the granddaughters of the Emperor Ferdinand, and whilst he
was still in Paris, early in 1564, his own Queen, Mary of Scotland,
recalled him. He had lived abroad for many years--since he was a
child--and Catharine de Medici made him tempting offers to remain
with her, but he decided to obey Mary’s summons and return home. He
had, of course, first to go to Heidelberg and take leave of his master,
the Palatine. Some time before this the Palatine’s second son, the
famous Duke Hans Casimir, had requested Melvil to carry an offer of
marriage from him to Elizabeth. Melvil refused, as he says he had
reason to believe from what he had heard that Elizabeth knew herself
incapable of child-bearing, and “would never subject herself to any
man.” When Melvil was taking leave of the Palatine, Hans Casimir forgot
his resentment sufficiently to request the Scotch courtier to take
his portrait and present it to the Queen on his way through London,
and after considerable demur Melvil consented to do so on condition
that he carried with him portraits of all the rest of the Elector
Palatine’s family, so that Hans Casimir’s picture might be introduced
as if accidentally. Melvil took with him also an important message
from the Protestant princes of Germany to Elizabeth; and, with his
polish and wit, very soon got into the Queen’s good graces. He deftly
introduced the subject of the portraits, and she at once asked him
pointedly whether he had that of Hans Casimir, as she wished to see
it. He told her he had left the portraits in London, he being then at
Hampton Court, whereupon she said he should not go until she had seen
the pictures. Melvil delivered them to her next day, and even suggested
that she should keep them. But she only asked Dudley’s opinion about
them, “and would have none of them. I had also sure information that
first and last she despised Duke Casimir.” Which, indeed, seems highly
probable. In one of the Queen’s familiar chats with Melvil she told
him she had determined to propose two persons as fit husbands for his
Queen, and promised to make the Scotsman her agent in the matter,
which, he says, at the persuasion of Dudley, she failed to do. He
was soon sent back again to London as Mary’s envoy, to, if possible,
mollify Elizabeth’s anger at the Scotch queen’s cool reception of her
matrimonial advice, and at Mary’s intimacy with Lennox, the father of
Darnley.

He arrived in London early in October, 1564, and soon became on
friendly terms with Elizabeth again. In his first interview in an
“alley” in the gardens at Whitehall he told the Queen that his mistress
had not considered the proposal for her to marry Dudley until a joint
commission of Scotch and English statesmen should have met; and Melvil
suggested that the English commissioners should be the Earl of Bedford
and Lord Robert. Elizabeth took offence at the order in which the
names were mentioned. “She said,” writes Melvil, “that I appeared to
make small account of my Lord Robert, seeing that I named the Earl of
Bedford before him, but she said that ere long she would make him a far
greater earl, and that I should see it done before I returned home.
For she esteemed him as her brother and best friend, whom she would
herself have married had she ever minded to have taken a husband. But
being determined to end her life in virginity, she wished the Queen her
sister might marry him, as meetest of all other with whom she could
find in her heart to declare her second person.”[32] Elizabeth’s reason
for her recommendation was a curious one. She said she trusted Dudley
so implicitly that she knew that if he married Mary he would not allow
any attempt to usurp the throne of England whilst she, Elizabeth,
lived. The Queen was as good as her word, and before Melvil left he
saw Dudley made Earl of Leicester and Baron Denbeigh. The ceremony of
investure was a splendid one, and the Queen herself helped to decorate
the new earl with the insignia of his rank, “he sitting on his knees
before her with great gravity. But she could not refrain from putting
her hand in his neck, smilingly tickling him, the French ambassador
and I standing by. Then she turned, asking at me, 'How I liked him.’
Melvil gave a courtly answer. 'Yet,’ says she, 'you like better of
yonder long lad,’ pointing towards my lord Darnley, who, as nearest
prince of the blood, did bear the sword of honour that day before her.
My answer was that no woman of spirit would make choice of such a man,
who more resembled a woman than a man. For he was handsome, beardless,
and lady-faced.” But for all that one of Melvil’s principal purposes
in England was diplomatically to obtain permission for Darnley to go
to Scotland. On another occasion Elizabeth told Melvil that she would
never marry unless forced thereto by his mistress’s “harsh behaviour.”
“I know the truth of that, Madam,” said he, “you need not tell me. You
think that if you were married you would be but Queen of England, and
now you are both King and Queen. I know your spirit cannot endure a
commander.” She then took him to her bedchamber and opened a little
cabinet “wherein were divers little pictures, and their names written
with her own hand on the papers. Upon the first that she took up was
written 'My lord’s picture.’ I held up the candle and pressed to see
the picture so named, but she appeared loath to let me see it, yet
my importunity prevailed, and found it to be the Earl of Leicester’s
picture.” Melvil tried to get the picture to carry to Scotland, as the
Queen had, as he says, the original; but Elizabeth would not part with
the counterfeit, although she pretended to be willing to give Dudley
himself to “her dear sister.” Melvil gives a very amusing account of
the manner in which the Queen pressed him to give his opinion as to
the respective perfections of his mistress and herself. She dressed
herself in every possible style for his delectation, showed off her
dancing, her music (with a fair amount of coyness), her knowledge of
languages. “Her hair,” he says, “was more reddish than yellow, curled,
in appearance, naturally. She desired to know whether my Queen’s hair
or hers was the best.” He rather fenced so delicate a question, but
the Queen insisted upon an answer, and she was told that “she was the
fairest Queen in England, and mine the fairest Queen in Scotland.” But
still she was not satisfied, and after much pressure Melvil was fain
to answer that “she was the whiter of the two, but that Mary was very
lovely.”

Shortly before Melvil’s visit a new Spanish ambassador, Guzman de
Silva, had arrived in London, and Dudley lost not a day in trying upon
him the tactics that had failed with Quadra. A Catholic friend of his
was sent to Guzman to assure him that, if he would exert his influence
to ruin Cecil with the Queen, Dudley would place himself under the
orders of Philip, and at a second interview with the ambassador the
same person told him “that Robert still looks to marry the Queen, and
thinks that religious questions will be settled thereby. Robert, he
says, has an understanding with the Pope on the matter, and a person
in Rome to represent him. This he told me in strict secrecy, and
greatly praises Robert’s good intentions with regard to religion and
the marriage, but with equivocal assurances as to what measures would
be adopted.” Needless to say that the former ambassador’s experience
was not lost upon his successor, and Dudley was henceforward looked
at askance by the Spanish party. The Queen herself next tried her
blandishments on the new envoy. He was invited to a grand masque
represented in the palace, and sat next to her Majesty, who interpreted
the play to him. Of course it was all about love, which gave an
opportunity for the Queen to ask the Spaniard whether Don Carlos had
grown manly. She was told that he had, and then, sighing sentimentally,
she said: “Ah me! every one disdains me! I hear he is to be married to
the Queen of Scots.” The ambassador assured her that it was not true
--Carlos had been too ill of late for any thought of his marriage,
but still people would gossip about great people. “That is very true,”
said the Queen. “Why, they even said in London the other day that the
King was sending an ambassador to treat of the marriage of the prince
(Don Carlos) with _me_!” The feasting and entertainment lasted till
two in the morning, but it is probable that this hint was the origin
and end of it all. This was in July, 1564, when the Queen felt the
need of again drawing closer to the house of Austria. She had been
somewhat badly treated by Condé and his Huguenots. Peace had been made
in France on terms which again gave the Catholics a predominance,
and Cardinal Lorraine had already practically arranged the interview
between Catharine de Medici and her daughter, the Queen of Spain, which
took place at Bayonne in the following spring. It was known in England
and Germany that the real object of this meeting between mother and
daughter was to give an opportunity for the Catholic statesmen to form
a league for the utter extermination of Protestantism the world over;
and, since the Protestant princes in France had been gained over, it
became necessary for Elizabeth now to trim to the side of Spain. She
soon began dropping hints to Guzman about her marrying a German, and
assured him that she was a Catholic at heart, “although she had to
conceal her real feelings to prevail with her subjects in matters
of religion.”[33] When, with the desire of turning her against the
Protestants, he told her that preachers were slandering her because
she had placed a crucifix on the altar of her chapel, she said that
she would order crosses to be placed in all the churches, and then
continued: “They also charge me with showing more favour to Robert
than is fitting, speaking of me as if I were an immodest woman. I am
not surprised that occasion for it should have been given by a young
woman and a young man of good qualities, to whose merits and goodness
I show favour, although not so much as he deserves; but God knows how
great a slander it is, and a time will come when the world will know
it. My life is open ... and I cannot understand how so bad a judgment
can have been formed of me.” She then referred to the negotiations,
which were still lingering on, for the marriage of Mary of Scotland
with Don Carlos, of which she was evidently in great fear, and on the
ambassador laughingly saying that Mary was more likely to marry the
King of France, who was then only fifteen years of age, Elizabeth at
once said that was impossible, as approaches had been made to marry
him to her, “which, she was assured, was a more suitable marriage than
that which your Majesty (Philip) had contracted with her sister.” She
had, however, she said, laughed at it as a thing not to be spoken of
considering their ages.” This was quite true, for Condé had suggested
the matter to Sir Thomas Smith, the English ambassador in Paris, a
year before, whilst the bickering was going on between them as to the
terms of the peace and the repayment to the English of the cost of the
aid given to the Huguenots.[34] Smith had passed it over at the time
as impossible, and the matter had gone no further; but only a month
after the interview described above between Guzman and the Queen, the
marriage of the latter with the boy Charles IX., who was barely half
her age, was brought forward in a more authoritative form. When the
Catholics were again dominant in Paris, and the objects of the Spanish
and French _rapprochement_ beyond doubt, Elizabeth had sent to the new
Emperor Maximilian, ostensibly to condole with him on his father’s
death, but really to reopen the negotiations for the marriage with the
Archduke Charles. This action had to be met and parried by Catharine
de Medici, who at this time--November, 1564--found herself getting
rather more completely pledged than she liked to the Catholic and
Spanish party, the complete success of which she knew would be her
own downfall; and it was a characteristic stroke of policy of hers to
propose so farcical a match as that of Charles IX. with Elizabeth, with
the objects, first of hindering the negotiations with the Archduke
Charles, secondly of keeping her own Huguenots in hand and preventing
England from helping them, and thirdly to checkmate the attempts to
marry Mary of Scotland to a Spanish prince. In one of her familiar
chats with Smith, who followed her in her voyage through Southern
France, she told him she would like to see her son married to the
Queen of England. Smith was not sympathetic, but gave a full account
of the conversation to Cecil, who clearly looked upon the proposal
with equal dislike and incredulity. Very soon afterwards a more direct
approach was made to Elizabeth herself, through one of those intriguing
ladies of the Valois Court whom Brantome is so fond of describing. This
was Madame de Crussol, who is stated to have worked for Catharine in
sending Chastelard to Scotland for the express purpose of compromising
and injuring Mary of Scotland.[35] This woman wrote a long letter to
Elizabeth hinting at the marriage, and shortly afterwards instructions
were sent to Paul de Foix, the French ambassador in England, to make a
formal offer to Elizabeth. The instructions arrived early in February,
1565, and de Foix was received by the Queen of England a few days
afterwards. The interview took place at first in the presence-chamber,
but on the ambassador saying that he had something secret to
communicate, the Queen led him into her private apartment, where, after
much high-flown compliment, he read to her Catharine’s despatch, saying
that she would be the happiest of mothers if her dearly beloved sister
would marry her son and become a daughter to her. She hastened to add
that “she (Elizabeth) would find both in the body and mind of the King
that which would please her.”[36] Elizabeth blushed with satisfied
vanity as much as confusion at this, expressed a deep sense of the
honour done her, and deplored that she was not ten years younger. She
was afraid she would be abandoned as her sister was, and foresaw the
grave obstacles to such a match; but de Foix sought to reassure her by
saying that the Queen-mother knew her age, and expected she would yet
bear many children to her son. Elizabeth replied that she would rather
die than be neglected; but still, though her people would prefer that
she should marry an Englishman, there was none she could marry but the
Earl of Arundel, “and he was as far off as the poles are asunder.”
As for the Earl of Leicester, she had always esteemed his merit, but
her sense of dignity would not allow her to endure him as a husband.
It was agreed between the Queen and de Foix that the matter should be
kept secret, and she promised him a reply shortly. The next day Cecil
drew up one of his lucid Latin papers, setting forth in detail the
many dangers and objections which would ensue from such a marriage,
and the Queen at once repeated all of Cecil’s arguments to the French
ambassador as her own, assuring him that she had not mentioned the
matter to any one. The ambassador still pressed the King’s suit; she
would have a husband in the flower of his youth, she would be certain
to bear children, Parliament might certainly be induced to give its
consent, and all the objections might be overcome by a wisely drafted
treaty. But, said the Queen, who would bring the King to book if he
violated it? Upon this de Foix lost patience, and said that as a
consequence of the good reports he had sent to the Queen-mother with
regard to Elizabeth’s disposition towards her son, she had thought of
this match; but as he saw that her affections were placed elsewhere he
would withdraw. This did not suit the Queen. She assured him she had
not given a refusal, made him sit close by her, and thanked him warmly
for the good report he had sent of her to his King, dismissing him at
last with a promise to send Cecil to him in a couple of days. Cecil was
certainly not in favour of the match, although Leicester affected to
be so, thanks partly to the bribes sent to him from France, and partly
because he considered the marriage an impracticable one. Cecil, indeed,
was now almost ostentatiously leaning to the Catholic side, forcing the
vestments on to the clergy, relaxing the persecution of the Catholics,
and gaining praise even from the Spanish ambassador. If the new Emperor
was going to fulfil the promises he had made to the Protestant princes
who had elected him, and turn reformer, no husband would have been so
favourable to England as the Archduke Charles, who would have disarmed
Philip and the Catholics whilst satisfying the Protestants and avoiding
the dangers to English independence which would arise from the marriage
of the Queen with a prince of the reigning houses of France or Spain.
When Cecil saw de Foix, therefore, he diplomatically combated the views
advanced by the ambassador. When the latter remarked that the aid of
France would for ever preserve England from danger, Cecil replied
proudly that England had nothing to fear. At the end of the interview
Cecil promised to put his objections to the match in writing; but when
he was asked for the paper, some days afterwards, he refused it, and
said that the Queen would go no further until she had a reply from
Catharine to her remarks made to de Foix. Secretaries and couriers
therefore went backwards and forwards actively for the next few months.
This unwonted movement of messengers soon attracted the attention of
the Spanish ambassador, who wrote, on the 15th of March: “The question
of marriage is a difficult one, because if she weds Robert great
dissatisfaction will be caused in the country, both amongst the higher
classes and the common people. The Queen has told me several times
that she wishes to marry, but not with Robert; and Robert himself has
told me the same. Apart from this all eyes are fixed on the Archduke
Charles, and I am informed that negotiations are actually going on
about him through Robert.... Of Robert’s leaning towards the matter
there is no doubt, in appearance, although it is impossible to say with
what object. On the other hand, it is said that negotiations are afoot
about the King of France, which the Queen herself told me, and it may
be true now, because the French, having got wind of the Archduke’s
affair, may wish to divert it. It may be also that, however great
the disparity of years, they may be willing to overlook it in order
to join this country to theirs. By the same rule this Queen may be
listening to the Archduke for the purpose of stopping his negotiations
with Scotland, and the French may be trying to beat her at her own
game.”[37] It will be seen by this how tangled was the diplomatic skein
even to those contemporaries whose especial business it was to unravel
it.

A week after the date of the letter just quoted, Guzman saw the
Queen, when, as usual, she turned the conversation to the subject of
marriages, and the ambassador slily hinted that there was some talk
of her marrying the French king. She held down her head and giggled
at this, and Guzman continued that the French ambassador had asked
his opinion about the match, seeing that the King was so little and
she so tall. “O!” said the Queen, “they tell me he is not very short;
but as it is Lent, and you are my friend, I will make a confession
to you. A proposal for marriage was formerly made to me by the King,
my brother-in-law (Philip). The King of France has now made me an
offer, as well as the Kings of Denmark and Sweden, and, I am told, the
Archduke Charles also. The only person who has not been suggested is
your prince (Don Carlos).” Guzman replied that the reason no doubt was
that, as she had refused the King himself, it was concluded that she
had no desire to marry, since no higher match could be proposed to her.
She retorted that she did not consider such an inference clear: it is
true that she had no desire to marry, and would not do so if she could
appoint a satisfactory successor; but her people were pressing her, and
she was now forced either to marry or nominate an heir, which would be
difficult. “The world thinks that a woman cannot live unmarried, and,
if she refrains from marriage, that she does so for some bad reason; as
they said of me that I avoided doing so because I was fond of the Earl
of Leicester, whom I could not marry, as he had a wife living. His wife
is now dead, but yet I do not marry him, although I have been pressed
to do so even by your King.”[38] Elizabeth was getting very uneasy
about the Franco-Spanish meeting at Bayonne and the rumoured voyage of
Philip to the Netherlands with a strong force to crush Protestantism
for good and for all; the idea of her marriage with Charles IX. was
one eminently calculated to breed distrust of the French in the mind
of Philip, and, as such, was being actively forwarded by the Huguenot
party. When therefore de Foix, the French ambassador, saw her a few
days afterwards she told him that she had refused to let Cecil put
into writing his objections to the match, as promised, because the
objections were really all reducible to one--namely, the question of
disparity of age. She said that Smith had written lately, saying that
the King had grown wonderfully, and that, when he had seen him after
an interval of a few weeks, he hardly recognised him, as he had grown
so tall, and he would no doubt be as tall as his father had been. De
Foix afterwards sat next to the Queen at supper, when she was in very
high spirits, and drank the King’s health, and during the entertainment
which followed talked of nothing but the attractions of the French
Court.[39]

Catharine de Medici on her side was just as eager in appearance for
the match as Elizabeth--and probably equally insincere, since she
too had her own game to play. She had a long talk about it with Smith
in Bordeaux in April, in which she said that the ages seemed the
principal objection, but if Elizabeth would put up with the youth of
the King, she (Catharine) would put up with the age of the Queen;
upon which the youthful suitor himself burst in with the remark that
he hoped his mistress would be as satisfied of his age as he was of
hers. Catharine went on to discuss the other two difficulties raised;
namely, the objection to the Queen residing out of England, and the
fear of the unpopularity of the match; but Smith declined to give any
opinion upon the matter. It was clear, indeed, all through that the
English ambassador would not commit himself in a negotiation which he
felt to be a hollow one. He said his instructions were limited. If the
King were a few years older, if he had seen the Queen and really liked
her, he (Smith) would feel less astonishment at the present advances,
but now----“But really,” interrupted the King, “I do love her.” “Your
Majesty does not know yet what love is,” said Smith, “but you will
soon go through it. It is the most foolish, impotent and disrespectful
thing possible.” The boy blushed at this, and his mother answered for
him saying that his was not a foolish love. Perhaps not, said the
ambassador, but it is just because it must rest upon very grave reasons
and great and worthy considerations that it ought only to be undertaken
after mature deliberation.[40] Catharine pressed for a reply before the
Bayonne meetings, which were fixed for the following month of May, but
this Smith thought impossible. On the following day she again tackled
Smith on the subject; and said that, as Cecil himself had had a son
at fifteen or sixteen, the King’s age could not be made an objection.
Secret as the negotiations were kept, Guzman in London was irritated
and alarmed to see the coming and going of Huguenot secretaries,
without being able to fathom the reasons, although it was evident that
something was afoot. Both de Foix and he were ecclesiastics, and many
were the feline passages of words that passed between them on the
subject. There was really nothing at all going on, said de Foix, only
mercantile affairs were being negotiated. Guzman did not believe him
--as he was a Huguenot although an Archbishop--but still did not
guess that the Queen’s marriage with Charles IX. was seriously being
discussed. For some time he thought that the matter in hand was the
marriage of the Queen and Leicester under French patronage, but at last
in the middle of April the Queen could keep the secret from him no
longer. He was sneering at the long delay at the arrival of a present
of a coach and some camels that were being sent from Catharine to the
Queen, when the latter told him he was jealous, and asked him what he
would think if he found her one day Queen of France. He declined to
consider such a hypothetical case, and the Queen, having said so much,
tried to make light of the matter, saying that she knew nothing of all
this coming and going of couriers that he talked about. He could get
no further, and concludes his account of the interview thus: “She is
very artful, wished to appear reserved and give the idea that there
was no matter of importance afoot.”[41] On the 20th of April de Foix
pressed the Queen urgently for a reply. The interviews of Bayonne were
fixed for the 20th of May, and if the King’s offer were rejected, his
betrothal to a princess of the house of Austria would be arranged.
Elizabeth put the ambassador off with vague professions of friendship
which a week later changed into complaints that Catharine was unduly
hurrying her.[42] In fact, the insincere negotiations for the Queen’s
marriage with Charles IX. could now be dropped, as they had served
Elizabeth’s immediate purpose, and had brought a prince of the House of
Austria once more into the meshes of her net.

[Illustration]



[Illustration]

CHAPTER IV.

  Spain and the Archduke Charles--Swetkowitz’s mission--
      Leicester’s continued intrigues--The French suit dropped--
      Eric IV. again--Heneage--Renewed negotiations with the
      Emperor--The French patronise Leicester’s suit--Dissensions
      in the English Court respecting the Austrian match--Mission
      of Sussex to Vienna--End of the Austrian negotiations--
      Marriage of Charles IX.


In the meanwhile Guzman was more at fault than ever, and was quite
persuaded that the matter being discussed was the marriage of Mary
of Scotland with Leicester, with the connivance of the Guises; but
gradually the coil began to unwind before his eyes. First he received
news from Vienna that secret negotiations had been going on ever since
the Emperor Ferdinand’s death for the marriage of the Queen with the
Archduke Charles; and that Adam Swetkowitz, Baron Mitterburg, was on
his way to England, ostensibly to return Ferdinand’s insignia of the
Garter, but really with a mission about the marriage; then came the
news of the marriage, or immediately impending marriage, of Mary with
Darnley, which, however much Elizabeth may have pretended otherwise,
must have relieved her from much anxiety and cleared the situation.
News came to him also of the proposals for betrothing Charles IX. to
a daughter of the Emperor, and Leicester’s many enemies were again
strongly urging the Queen’s marriage with the Archduke. Guzman by this
time had become highly sceptical of the Queen’s intention to marry at
all, and was not apparently anxious to help forward the Archduke’s suit
until the new Emperor’s attitude in religion was well established. He
therefore tried to face both ways. He received Swetkowitz cordially
and promised him support, but before doing anything sounded Leicester
again. The Earl, whilst hunting with the Queen, had met with an
accident, and was confined to his bed. This gave Guzman an opportunity
of calling upon him. Maitland, Cecil, and Throgmorton were already
there when he entered, but stood aside whilst he conversed with the
Earl. He whispered to him that his affection prompted him to say how
sorry he was that he (Leicester) was losing so much time in bringing
about his marriage with the Queen, and that he had better act promptly
now or he would regret it. Guzman reminded him that he had always done
his best for him with the Queen and assured him of Philip’s attachment
to him. Leicester protested his abject gratitude, but said sorrowfully
that the Queen would never marry him, as she was bent on wedding a
great prince; but there was none she could marry but Don Carlos or
the Archduke. Guzman passed this over by saying he understood that
there had formerly been some talk about the Archduke, and then again
reverted to Leicester’s own suit. Leicester’s spirits rose at this, as
it seemed to betoken a coolness towards the Archduke’s advances, and
said that if Guzman would speak to the Queen now about marrying him he
thought she would be more favourable than formerly as her reasons for
rejecting him before was the fear that Mary of Scotland would marry a
powerful prince; “whereas now that this marriage with Darnley had taken
place my business will be more easily arranged. I have not cared to
press the point upon her hitherto, although the Council has done so. I
think, therefore, that this is a good juncture for my business.” The
Spanish ambassador told him to leave the matter to him, and adds in
his letter to Philip: “I thought well to approach the matter and have
the road thus prepared before the Emperor’s envoy arrived, so that
if he does not tell me what he is arranging I can still find out and
proceed in the business.”[43] It appeared that for once Leicester and
Throgmorton had been co-operating with Cecil and others to bring the
Archduke forward again, the Earl having taken up this new position no
doubt as soon as he thought the French match was looking serious; but,
withal, Guzman did not believe in the sincerity of the new Austrian
negotiations, which he looked upon as a “mere diversion,” and, after
his conversation with Leicester, wrote: “Lord Robert is more confident
now and said ... he could not contemplate the Queen’s marriage with any
one but himself without great repugnance.” It is probable that at this
time the Queen seriously leant again towards a marriage with Leicester.
The proposals for a match with the French king were never anything
but a feint, with the objects which have been mentioned, and the new
negotiations with the Archduke were undertaken, not only to disarm
Spain at the Bayonne meetings, but also to clear the ground and deceive
Cecil, Sussex, and Norfolk, by an apparently sincere attempt to
bring about the marriage, which could subsequently be wrecked on some
religious scruple. The general desire for the Queen’s marriage might
then be pleaded, even to Leicester’s enemies, as a reason why the Queen
should marry him, the only remaining possible suitor. For the first
time in her reign the Queen now might do it, as she had nothing to
fear from “her dear sister” Mary of Scotland. There is ample reason to
believe that this was the key to the present attitude of the Queen and
Leicester; and Guzman makes no secret of his opinion that it was so. In
the meanwhile Cecil was proceeding in good faith with Swetkowitz; and
de Foix was still pressing the Queen daily for some decision respecting
Charles IX., to whom she grew colder and colder. Swetkowitz was being
beguiled, as others had been, with dinners and masques at Greenwich,
and was made much of by the Queen; but when, after many fruitless
attempts, de Foix got to close quarters with her, she assured him that
she had held out no hopes to the Archduke, and then turned the tables
upon him and complained that Charles IX. was seeking a bride elsewhere
before he had received her answer. But at last the comedy could be
carried on no longer, and the Queen referred de Foix to her Council for
his reply. The interview took place on June 12, 1565, and although the
principal difficulty raised was again the King’s youth, yet de Foix
saw now plainly that the affair was at an end. He and the other honest
instruments had been deceived from the first. It suited Catharine and
Elizabeth equally to play the game for their own ends, and when the
need for it had disappeared it was dropped.

Swetkowitz was a Lutheran, and on Whit Sunday attended Protestant
service with the Queen, who after dinner had an interesting
conversation with him, in which he promised that the new Emperor would
not stand so much upon his dignity as his father had done, and would
let the Archduke come and see her as he (the Archduke) greatly wished
to do. She blushed with pleasure at this, and said that if they liked
one another the matter could soon be settled. What was uppermost in
her mind, however, was seen in her next remark: “I pray you tell me,
have you heard from any one that the Earl of Leicester is not dealing
favourably with this affair or is opposing it in any way?” He replied
that on the contrary Leicester had been most favourable, and had even
himself written to the Emperor urging the match. He pointed out to
her that it was not surprising that the public considered the match
probable, as if she married out of England there was no other prince
of suitable age whom she could marry. “But,” she said, “I have never
said yet that I would not marry the Earl of Leicester.” This rather
damped Swetkowitz, and Guzman was further confirmed in his opinion that
the whole negotiation was dishonest and for the benefit of Leicester,
who was now leaning more towards French interests at Court. Guzman
distrusted and disliked him, but thought necessary to feign approval of
his suit, in order to have a claim upon his gratitude; and Swetkowitz,
who was duly informed of this, consequently had great doubts of the
sincerity of Spanish support in the Archduke’s pretensions. This
caused a coolness between the two ambassadors, and somewhat paralysed
the action of Swetkowitz, who said that as soon as he was satisfied
that the King of Spain really favoured the match he, Swetkowitz, had
means for bringing it about. At an interview Guzman had with the Queen
she expressed her doubts about the _bona fides_ of Philip’s approval
and tried to draw the Spanish ambassador into some clear expression of
it. He told her that if she decided to marry one of her own subjects
he, Guzman, could not forget the interests of his friend (_i.e._,
Leicester), but if she chose a foreign prince he begged her not to
overlook the house of Austria, as he had said before. “That is true,”
she replied, “but you said the house of Spain.” He told her she was
mistaken. He had no reason for saying Spain, as his master was head
of the house of Austria, and he did not particularise or exclude any
member of his house. This was sufficiently indefinite, and conveyed
to the Queen the impression which was intended; namely, that either
match could only be effected by her coming to an arrangement with
Spain. She replied that she thanked the ambassador for his kind remark
about his friend, and left Philip to thank him for the rest. “This
makes it evident to me,” he wrote to the King, “that Lord Robert’s
affair is not off, and I have many reasons for being doubtful about
the Archduke.” Leicester’s enemies, particularly Sussex, were busy
trying to animate Swetkowitz, and persuade Guzman to take a more active
share in the negotiations. But the new Emperor’s religious attitude
was still undefined, and Guzman at this time believed that the Queen
and Leicester were already married.[44] He looked, moreover, upon
the promotion of the Archduke’s suit by Sussex as a Court intrigue.
“Throgmorton,” he says, “is for ever coming here to ask questions of
the Emperor’s envoy, who tells them that the Archduke is coming; and
they (Leicester’s friends) have devised some other scheme to stop
the business.” What the scheme was soon appeared. A day or two after
Guzman’s interview with the Queen, in June, 1565, the French ambassador
saw the Council ostensibly to again press the marriage of the Queen
with Charles IX. He was once more told that the King’s youth made such
a match impossible, and replied that as she refused his master it
was evident that she did not intend to marry a foreigner, and warned
the Council that the chosen consort must be a person who was well
affected towards French interests, or trouble would ensue. He was asked
what person would best please his master, and he replied the Earl of
Leicester. With the more or less overt support of the ambassadors of
the two great powers, Leicester’s chance was now sufficiently good to
alarm Cecil and Sussex, who saw the necessity of doing something to
better the Archduke’s position. Cecil therefore approached Leicester
through his friend Throgmorton, and suggested that if the Queen married
the Archduke, Leicester might be provided with a wife and his position
secured by his wedding some relative of the Emperor, such as the young
Princess of Cleves, who was then fifteen. Throgmorton was quite in love
with the idea, and approached the Emperor’s envoy with suggestions
of Leicester’s marriage with a sister of the Emperor or some other
princess of the house of Austria. The proposal was of course received
very coldly. Guzman thought the object of it was perhaps only to
couple Leicester’s name with those of great marriageable princesses,
in order that the people might gradually be brought to consider him
a fit husband for the Queen, who had always told the ambassador that
she would marry him (Leicester) if he were a king’s son, but the
real purpose was to buy off Leicester’s opposition to the Archduke.
The sham proposals for the marriage of the Queen with Charles IX.
having served their purpose were now quite at an end, and the Queen
of Scots’ determination to take Darnley had further simplified the
situation, so that Leicester’s chance was better than ever it had
been, supported as he was, for interested reasons, both by France and
Spain, the promotion of the Archduke’s suit being mainly pushed in the
English Court by those who were Leicester’s declared enemies, whilst
the Spanish ambassador was only giving it half-hearted countenance.
Norfolk and Sussex, however, continued to talk to the Queen about the
Archduke, and in a conversation with Sussex on the subject she told
him that “Robert pressed her so that he does not leave her a moment’s
peace.” When Leicester urged his suit she was just as ready to say
that she was never free from the importunities of Sussex on behalf
of the Archduke. Matters were in this position in July, 1565, when,
doubtless at the instance of the English Protestant party, inimical to
Leicester, King Eric made another attempt. First came an envoy with a
present of magnificent sables for the Queen, and news that the King’s
sister Princess Cecilia, who had married the Margrave of Baden, was
awaiting a ship at Embden to sail for England, and Elizabeth lost no
time in sending two of her own vessels to convey her royal visitor
to her capital. Early in September the Margravine arrived at Dover
with her husband and a large suite, and a few days afterwards came by
boat from Gravesend to Durham House, where she was to be the guest
of the Queen. She was dressed, we are told, in a black velvet robe
and a mantle of cloth of silver, her fair hair being surmounted by a
golden crown. The Queen could not do too much, apparently, to honour
the first royal visitor she had received since her accession. Lord and
Lady Cobham had awaited her at Dover, the Queen’s cousin. Hunsdon,
with six of the Queen’s gentlemen, attended her from Gravesend, and
at the water gate of Durham House she was welcomed by the Countess
of Sussex, with Lady Bacon, and Lady Cecil, who were leading members
of the Puritan party. The Queen herself visited the Margravine a few
days afterwards, and was prodigal of her marks of affection to her.
Shortly afterwards the Princess gave birth to a son and heir, to whom
Elizabeth stood sponsor, and for a time Durham House and Whitehall vied
with each other in the splendour of their reciprocal entertainments,
although Eric’s vicarious wooing prospered no better than before,
notwithstanding the efforts in its favour made by the Bacons, the
Cecils, and their friends. They had, indeed, been checkmated even
before the Swedish princess’s arrival. The Spanish ambassador, with
the connivance of Sussex, Norfolk, and Arundel, at once became much
warmer in his apparent support of the Archduke’s pretensions,
whilst at the same time privately assuring Leicester of his master’s
good-will towards him. He pressed the Queen to look favourably upon the
Emperor’s brother, gave hopes that the Archduke might be allowed to
have his way and visit her, and congratulated her upon having avoided
so unequal a match as that projected with the King of France, who,
the Queen herself said, might be her grandson. The Emperor’s answer
about his brother’s coming was hardly as cordial as was wished, but
as it contained full particulars of the conditions demanded, both as
to religion, finances, and position of the consort, the match was now
brought seriously and officially under consideration. The terms were so
hard, and the tone of the Emperor’s communication so dry, that it was
decided not to show the letter to the Queen, and to conceal the text of
the conditions from her, by saying merely that the Emperor was willing
for his brother to come, but desired first that commissioners should
meet and decide upon some bases for negotiation, in case she should
be favourably impressed by him. It was seen at once by the friends of
the match that the Emperor’s terms were impossible. The Archduke was
to have the title of king and to govern jointly with his wife; in case
of her death without heirs he was to remain in the government of the
country, and was to exercise the Catholic religion without hindrance.
Cecil, Sussex, and others privately met Swetkowitz, and agreed that,
if the matter were to go on, the conditions must be softened to the
Queen, and by some means the Archduke be brought to England, in the
hope that his coming would so far pledge her that she could not well
recede. But withal, the answer given by the Queen and Council was not
very encouraging. The main question, that of religion, was slurred
over and left for future discussion, but a decided negative was
given to the claim that the consort should be called king, or that a
permanent income should be settled upon him. As soon as the Emperor’s
hard terms were received a decided change took place in the attitude
of Leicester and his friends towards the match. It was evident to him
that it could always be prevented by raising difficulties with regard
to religion, and Leicester had therefore no hesitation in pretending
to favour and forward it in order to choke off the Swedish suit. He
even entered into a regular treaty with the Spanish ambassador by
which he agreed to help the Archduke’s affair on condition that he
was to receive Spanish support in case the Austrian marriage came to
nothing, as he meant it to do. Still further to beguile people into the
belief that he himself was entirely out of the running, and that the
Archduke’s suit was now really in a fair way, an elaborate comedy was
concocted, by which the Queen was to flirt with Heneage--a married
man--whilst the Earl was to make love to Viscountess Hereford,
afterwards Countess of Essex, whom he subsequently married. This he
probably did too realistically, and a quarrel, real or pretended,
ending in tears on all sides, consequently took place between him,
Heneage, and the Queen, whereupon the favourite went to his rooms and
sulked for a few days, until he was recalled, and Heneage, who had
been sent away, was also allowed to return. In the meanwhile Sussex
was straining every nerve to pledge the Queen to the Archduke; and
Guzman was really doing his best to forward the match, although he
never was for a moment deceived by Leicester, whom he now saw through.
“I keep Leicester in hand,” he said, “in the best way I can, as I am
still firm in my opinion that if any marriage at all is to result from
all this it will be his.” Swetkowitz hurried back to Vienna with the
English reply, and to explain to his master the only method by which
success was possible. Lutheran as he was, he would have given way upon
the vital point of religion, although he confessed his fear that the
Emperor would not do so; “but,” said he, “you must put up with a good
deal to gain such a kingdom as this.” To have given up on the point
of religion, however, would have made the match useless to Philip,
and there was never any chance of the marriage being effected on such
terms. Leicester, of course, did not know how pliable the Emperor might
prove, but Swetkowitz’s hopefulness and conciliatory attitude seems
in August to have alarmed both him and the French ambassador into the
belief that perhaps, after all, the marriage would be effected. At all
events, Leicester and the French again began to push his suit warmly,
as soon as Swetkowitz left, and the Queen, with just an occasional
smile to Heneage, was kinder to him than ever. Philip II., who knew
Elizabeth as well as any one, thus writes in October to his ambassador:
“The Archduke’s suit is now quite at an end, as I am informed by the
Emperor that he is undeceived, and withdraws altogether from the
business. You will, therefore, say no more about it unless he writes
to the contrary, which I do not think he will.... Let me know the
result of the Swedish negotiations, although no doubt they will end
like the rest; and, after all, she will either not marry or else marry
Robert, to whom she has always been so much attached. You did well in
writing to me fully about the quarrel with Heneage, because the whole
affair and its sequel clearly show that the Queen is in love with
Robert, and for this reason, and in case at last that she may take him
for her husband, it will be very expedient to keep him in hand.”[45]
Maximilian, however, was not playing quite fairly with Philip when
he told him he had abandoned the idea of marrying his brother to the
Queen of England. The interference of the Spanish king in the affair
was, in fact, a great hindrance to its success, as, dependent as the
Emperor partly was upon the German Protestant princes, he could not
bind himself hard and fast to the extreme Catholic militant party; and
to saddle an Austrian match with impracticable Spanish conditions,
was to make it impossible. Early in 1566, therefore, the Emperor
sent back a temporising reply to England, saying that the wording of
the clause about religion appeared somewhat harsh, and begging that
it might be modified. The Emperor’s tone was so conciliatory, as a
result of Swetkowitz’s representations, that the hopes of Suffolk and
Norfolk again rose high for a time. But as the Emperor advanced the
Queen receded. She complained to the Spanish ambassador of the delay
in the sending of the reply, and was petulant about the Emperor’s
objections. “How could she marry,” she asked, “a man whom she had
to feed, and let the world say she had taken a husband who could not
afford to keep himself! The Emperor must think they (the English) lived
like Turks, whereas they had the Holy Sacrament the same as he had;”
and then she began to talk about Leicester in a way which convinced
the ambassador that his chance was better than ever. She said that
she had promised the Earl no answer--in fact, he had never had the
presumption to ask her to marry him, but the Council had done so, and
it was for them to ask for a reply, and not Leicester; “but the Earl
had good parts and great merits, and if she had to marry a subject she
had a great liking for him.” Referring to Mary of Scotland’s recent
marriage with Darnley, she said that if she married Leicester two
neighbouring queens would be wedded in the same way. “She is so nimble
in her dealing and threads in and out of this business in such a way
that her most intimate favourites fail to understand her, and her
intentions are, therefore, variously interpreted.” In the meanwhile
both the Archduke’s and Leicester’s friends were confident that their
respective suits were prospering, although Leicester either was, or
feigned to be, bitterly jealous of the Queen’s new flame, his erstwhile
bosom friend Heneage, with whom he had another noisy quarrel, nearly
ending in bloodshed, in February, 1566.[46] Cecil, Sussex, and Bacon,
in the meanwhile, were constantly praying Guzman to exert his influence
with the Queen in favour of the Archduke; and the Duke of Norfolk
was induced to speak to her on the subject. He told the Queen that
the former recommendation of the Council to her to marry Leicester
was only adopted because they thought her own desires lay that way,
and not because they approved of it. The Duke himself strongly urged
her to marry the Archduke and rescue the country from the evils of a
disputed succession. After leaving the Queen Norfolk saw Leicester
and taxed him with breaking faith with them, as he had promised not
to press his own suit, the Queen having distinctly announced that she
would not marry him. On the strength of this negotiations were being
conducted with the Emperor, and yet, said Norfolk, no sooner was the
imperial ambassador gone than Leicester pushed his own courtship more
strongly than ever. He was told plainly that if he did not desist evil
would befall him, as all the nobility were against him; whereupon
Leicester went off in a huff and sulked for a fortnight, until the
Queen recalled him and petted him more than ever, upon which Norfolk
in turn took umbrage and went home, leaving the Archduke’s interests
in the hands of Sussex. For months this game of cross purposes went
on. One afternoon in February, 1566, Guzman saw the Queen walking with
Leicester in the lower gallery overlooking the gardens of Whitehall. In
conversation with the ambassador she praised her favourite to his face,
and said that he was just trying to persuade her to marry, for the
sake of herself, the country, and even on his (Leicester’s) account,
as every one believed that he was the cause of her remaining single,
and his life was in danger if he remained at Court. She again said that
“if he were a prince she would marry him to-morrow.”[47] With the
Emperor’s cool dilatoriness and Leicester’s constant efforts, the cause
of the latter was distinctly in the ascendant during the spring of
1566. Norfolk and Sussex were too evidently biased by personal enmity
towards the favourite to be good negotiators for his rival, whilst
Cecil and Bacon on the one hand, and Guzman on the other, did not care
to be hasty in concluding the Archduke’s marriage until the religious
conditions were clearly understood. It was finally determined that
an envoy should be sent to the Emperor with the Queen’s reply to the
objections he had raised, and at first Francis Bertie, the Duchess of
Suffolk’s husband, was chosen. He was, however, a strong Protestant,
and a friend of Leicester’s, and the Spanish ambassador privately
urged Cecil to have the appointment cancelled. This was done, and the
Queen’s kinsman, Sir Thomas Sackville, was then selected. When this
appointment was made Leicester was, in one of his periodical sulking
fits, driven away by the remonstrances of Cecil and Sussex and by
the Queen’s flirting with the Earl of Ormond. The French ambassador,
de Foix, says that Elizabeth had positively promised to marry the
favourite during the winter, and at Christmas had begged him to wait
till Candlemas, in order that Catharine de Medici’s approval might be
sent. Leicester found that his best weapon was to deprive the Queen of
his presence, as she generally came round in a few days so far as to
promise him anything to bring him back. Between her promises and their
fulfilment, however, there was usually a great gap, and Leicester felt
that he was powerless to get beyond a certain point. His influence
was always strong enough to prevent the success of another suitor,
but not powerful enough to ensure his own. His sulking bouts, indeed,
were often feigned, in concert with the Queen, to appease Cecil, or
to prevent the entire cessation of the Archduke’s negotiations. This
probably was the case when the appointment of Bertie as ambassador to
the Emperor had aroused suspicion, as, after an apparent tiff with the
Queen, Leicester went to Pembroke House, where the Queen, disguised,
joined him in a friendly dinner before he left the Court.[48] On the
representations of Cecil she consented to appoint Sackville instead
of Bertie; but she had quietly agreed with Leicester beforehand that
her complaisance should not go beyond appearance, and before the
favourite returned to Court Sackville’s departure had been indefinitely
postponed. During Leicester’s absence from Court Cecil and Sussex
were more hopeful about the Archduke, although as we now see with
very little reason. The Austrians were lethargic, the Spaniards
coldly cautious, whilst the French were determined and unceasing in
their efforts to thwart the Archduke’s suit. De Foix spent large
sums in Leicester’s interest, and Catharine de Medici showered gifts
and favours upon him constantly. The moment that he was in disgrace,
however, or when the Archduke’s match seemed really progressing, they
played their trump card in bringing forward Charles IX. again. When
Rambouillet, the French envoy to Scotland, saw Elizabeth in February
he had enlarged, by the Queen-mother’s orders, upon the vigour and
comeliness of the young King. The Queen was always ready to listen to
talk like this, and sighed that she would like to meet him, “but,” she
said, “do you think it would be a good match for the King to marry an
old woman like me?” De Foix, before his departure in May, 1566, again
and again referred to the matter lightly, with the evident intention
of keeping it alive, to the detriment of the Archduke’s match and for
the benefit of Leicester. The manœuvre was easily seen through, of
course, and Guzman, in an interview with Cecil on the 18th of May,
said to him, “These Frenchmen are in a fine taking when they see the
Archduke’s match progressing, and at once bring forward their own king
to embarrass the Queen. When they see that this trick has hindered the
negotiations they take up with Leicester again, and think we do not
see through them.” Cecil was of the same opinion, and said the French
thought they could do as they liked when they had Robert on their side.
Instead of Sackville, a Kentish gentleman named Danett was sent to
the Emperor, merely as an accredited messenger, with a reply to his
letter and the offer of the Garter. The letters from Danett arrived
in London in June, 1566, and were of so encouraging a nature that the
advocates of the Austrian match again became confident that their
man would win the prize. This gave rise as usual to fresh activity
on the part of the French. Catharine de Medici, in her instructions
to the new ambassador, Bôchetel de la Forest, directed him to help
forward Leicester’s pretensions with all his might, and thwart those
of the Archduke, and Elizabeth had an interesting conversation with
the ambassador’s nephew Vulcob on the subject during her progress
in the autumn of 1566. The Queen was staying at Stamford, and Vulcob
was charged with his uncle’s excuses for not attending her. He met
Leicester at the door of the chamber, to whom he conveyed the regard
and sympathy of the King and Queen-mother of France. The Earl replied
that the Queen was more undecided about marrying him than ever, and
he did not know what to think. He had known the Queen, he said, since
they were children together, and she had always announced her intention
to remain single, but if by any chance she did marry, he was sure she
would marry no one but him. Vulcob was then summoned by the Queen, who
at once began to dwell upon the physical qualities of Charles IX., and
the Frenchman, nothing loath, launched into high-flown panegyrics of
her own perfections and his master’s manliness. A day or two afterwards
he got into talk with the Queen’s physician, who suggested that the
best way to cement the alliance between England and France would be
to bring about a marriage between the King and Queen. Vulcob objected
that their ages were so different, and the unlikelihood of issue; to
which the physician replied: “Your King is seventeen, and the Queen
only thirty-two. Take no notice of what she says in that respect, it is
only her passing fancies. If the King marries her, I will answer for
her having ten children, and no one in the world knows her temperament
better than I do. If you like, you and I will secretly manage this
business. Your King is young and vigorous and accustomed to travel;
let him come to Boulogne to see this fair lady.”[49] The hint was
faithfully conveyed to Catharine de Medici, but she was not deceived by
it. Both she and her ambassador clearly saw the drift, and talked of
the affair only when necessary to thwart the Austrian match, or when
Leicester himself was not strong enough to stand alone against his
enemies.

This position continued during the summer and autumn of 1566: Elizabeth
bitterly jealous of the birth of Mary of Scotland’s child, apprehensive
of the secret aid in money being sent by Alba to Mary for the promotion
of her cause, and yet afraid to offend the house of Austria, which
might arm her own Catholic subjects against her; Leicester alternately
hopeful and despairing; the Archduke’s friends minimising points of
difference and smoothing over difficulties in the hope of getting their
man to England at any cost; and the French party sleepless in their
efforts to prevent Elizabeth’s marriage with any nominee of Spain.
More than once the quarrel between Leicester and his enemies nearly
flamed out into open hostility. The Queen peremptorily insisted upon
his making friends with Sussex, and even forced him to an appearance
of reconciliation with his rival Ormond. Both the Spanish and French
ambassadors give numberless instances of the rancour existing at Court,
and profess themselves shocked at the Queen’s lightness and giddiness
of conduct in connection with the marriage question. The nation itself,
so far as public opinion could be said to exist at the time, was also
disturbed, and when Parliament met in October, all Cecil’s efforts were
unavailing to prevent the discussion of the Queen’s marriage and the
succession. A joint committee of both Houses was appointed to draw up
an address to the Queen on the subject, and the resentment of Elizabeth
against the majority for dealing with the matter of the succession
particularly, against her wish, was cunningly fanned by Guzman, who
pointed out that they were nearly all extreme Protestants. “I do not
know what the devils want,” said the Queen. “O! your Majesty,” replied
the ambassador, “what they want is simply liberty; and if monarchs
do not look out for themselves and combine, it is easy to see how
it will end.”[50] So the irate Queen sent for the leaders of both
Houses to have it out with them. First came the Duke of Norfolk, her
kinsman and most distinguished subject, himself almost a sovereign in
his own county, and received the full torrent of her vituperation.
He was a traitor, a conspirator, and much else, and the poor man,
overwhelmed, stammered out that he never thought to ask her pardon for
having offended her thus. Next came the turn of Leicester, Pembroke,
Northampton, and Howard, who remonstrated with her upon her treatment
of Norfolk. She told Pembroke he talked like a swaggering soldier;
said that Northampton was a nice fellow to prate about marriage--
he had better look after his own matrimonial difficulties than mince
words with her. Then softening somewhat she turned to Leicester and
said that, even if all the world had abandoned her, she did not think
he would have done so. He said something about his willingness to die
at her feet, to which she replied that that was not the purpose. When
the interview was at an end, the lords met in conclave and sent Sussex
to beg Guzman again to exert his influence in favour of the Archduke.
The next day the ambassador saw the Queen for the purpose, when she
again broke out in denunciation of her councillors for putting this
pressure upon her, and was particularly bitter about Leicester. “What
did Guzman think,” she asked, “of such ingratitude after she had shown
him so much kindness and favour that even her honour had suffered for
his sake. She was glad, however, of so good an opportunity of sending
him away, and the Archduke might now be quite free from suspicion.” Her
anger of course was mostly directed against the attempt to force her
hand in the matter of the succession; and, by the advice of Guzman, she
saw the leaders separately in a calmer mood and put them off with vague
assurances that she would marry shortly, and would summon a Parliament
if anything prevented her from doing so. Once only she lost her temper
again in her long speech to the joint committee, and that was when
she addressed the Bishops of London and Durham, whom she turned upon
and rent for their inconsistency. By dint of alternate bullying and
cajolery she reduced both Houses of Parliament to a condition of
pliability, and having got her supplies voted, dissolved Parliament
early in January, 1567, and was again free to do as she liked without
interference. Her indignation against Leicester was short-lived. Only a
month after she had rejoiced in sending him away, she told Guzman that
she thought he had acted for the best and was deceived by the others.
“She was quite certain,” she said, “that he would lay down his life
for hers, and that if one of them had to die he would willingly be the
one.”

To satisfy the powerful combination which was determined to press the
Archduke’s cause, it was decided that the Earl of Sussex should be
sent with the Garter to the Emperor, with powers to discuss the terms
of marriage; but Leicester and the French managed, by casting doubts
and raising difficulties, to delay his departure. Norfolk was brought
up to London to exert his influence, and for several months again the
Court was a hot-bed of intrigue, in which Norfolk, Sussex, and the
Conservative party, aided by Guzman, and cautiously supported by Cecil
and Bacon, were pitted against Leicester and the French ambassador.
From day to day the fickle Queen changed. First Sussex was to be
hurried off at once, then he was to go after Shrovetide; then when he
had prepared for his journey Elizabeth told him he would not leave so
quickly as he thought. With Leicester, too, she was equally changeable,
one day turning her back upon him, and the next begging the Spanish
ambassador to be friendly with him. On one occasion in February, 1567,
when the Council had progressed very far in the settlement of Sussex’s
instructions, Leicester’s Puritan friends again brought up the matter
of the succession in order to embroil matters and embarrass the Queen;
but she put her foot down firmly then, and they dropped the subject
in a fright. This having failed, they renewed their agitation for an
inquiry into the conduct of Sussex as Viceroy of Ireland; but out of
this honest Ratcliff emerged triumphant, to the sorrow of his enemies.
At last Sussex got tired of the constant quarrelling, and begged for
leave to go home, which was refused, and some sort of reconciliation
was patched up between him and Leicester. In view of almost hourly
changes in the Queen’s matrimonial attitude, and the certainty that the
Leicester party would after all try to wreck the Archduke’s suit on the
religious conditions, Sussex firmly refused to undertake the embassy
to the Emperor, unless he had precise orders signed by the Queen as to
the terms he might accept, “as he was determined not to deceive the
Emperor.” At last, after infinite trouble, Sussex was despatched at the
end of June, 1567, bearing full instructions to negotiate the marriage.
He was to raise no great difficulty except on two points: first the
question of the Archduke’s income, and secondly that of religion. He
was to say that “the Queen will take care that he wants for nothing,
but she does not wish her people to think she had married a man too
poor to keep himself.” The Archduke might privately hear Mass in his
own chamber, but must conform outwardly to the law of England and
accompany the Queen to Protestant service publicly.

It was felt by all those who favoured the match that the Spanish
ambassadors in London and Vienna might have been more cordial in their
support of it than they were; and both the Queen and Sussex were for
ever trying to get at Philip’s real desires in the matter. With the
papers now before us, we see that if the Emperor was to be induced
to give way on the question of religion, and England was to remain
Protestant, the marriage would injure rather than benefit Philip’s
plans; whilst a thoroughly Catholic match, by which Elizabeth would
have submitted to the Pope, would have cut the ground from under her
feet and made her the humble servant of Spain. This she knew better
than any one, and however much Philip may have again deceived himself
in the matter, there was never a shadow of a chance of such a match
being made by her or consented to by her wisest councillors. Upon this
rock the matrimonial hopes of the Archduke again split. Sussex remained
with the Emperor until February, 1568, probably the only prominent
English statesman who was sincere or honest in the negotiations, but
was at last himself undeceived, and begged for his recall in deep
disappointment and resentment against Leicester and his party, upon
whom he laid the blame of the failure of his mission. A decent pretence
was assumed on both sides that the project was still pending; and the
Emperor was invested with the Garter with great pomp; but the matter
was practically at an end on the departure of Sussex from Vienna: not
altogether to Philip’s displeasure, as he had lost all belief in the
Queen’s matrimonial professions, and was daily becoming more convinced
of the impossibility of her humbling herself to the extent of accepting
the Catholic conditions by which alone a marriage with his kinsman
would be advantageous to him. Elizabeth, too, was in a better position
now than she had been to drop the hollow negotiations, since the
civil war in France, and Philip’s own difficulties in the Netherlands
and the South of Europe, secured her from present danger from either
power, whilst the standing menace of Scotland had disappeared for the
first time for years, as Mary was a prisoner with a cloud of doubt and
disgrace hanging over her head.

Under these circumstances Elizabeth could rest somewhat from the long
comedy of mystification about her matrimonial affairs, continuing,
however, to keep her hand in by dallying with Leicester and
occasionally smiling upon Heneage. An attempt was made nearly three
years later, in December, 1570, to revive the negotiations for the
Archduke’s match by sending young Henry Cobham to the Emperor; but the
device had at last grown too stale to deceive, and a cold refusal to
entertain the matter was given, much to the indignation of Elizabeth,
who now found that both her royal suitors had deserted her, Charles IX.
having recently married a daughter of the Emperor.

[Illustration]



[Illustration]

CHAPTER V.

  Marriage with the Duke of Anjou suggested--Guido Cavalcanti and
      La Mothe’s negotiations--Walsingham’s description of Anjou--
      Anjou’s religious scruples--His objections overcome--Lord
      Buckhurst’s mission to Paris--Anjou’s conditions--Religious
      difficulties--The Ridolfi plot--Anjou obstinate again--
      Smith’s mission to France--Marriage with the Duke of Alençon
      suggested--Great disparity of age.


The treaty of St. Germain between Charles IX. and the Huguenots, signed
in August, 1570, brought to an end the long civil war in France. It had
for some time been a favourite project of the Guises and the Catholic
party in France to rescue Mary of Scotland by force, with the help of
the Pope, marry her to the Duke of Anjou, and place her on the throne
of England. Charles IX. was bitterly jealous of his brother Anjou, the
hope of the Catholic league, and was desirous of providing for him
somewhere out of France. Such a proposal, therefore, as that made for
his union with Mary Stuart, met with some countenance from the King and
his mother. Elizabeth and her ministers were not aware to what extent
support would be given by Spain to such a project, which, whilst on the
one hand strengthening the league, would on the other have given the
French a footing in Great Britain; but with France at peace Elizabeth
was always apprehensive, and a counter-move had to be made. The two
great Huguenot nobles who had resided in England during the war, the
Vidame de Chartres and Cardinal Chatillon--Coligny’s brother--
were permitted to re-enter France by the peace of St. Germain; and
to them and their party it appeared a desirable thing to disarm the
weak, fanatical Catholic figurehead Anjou by yoking him, under their
auspices, to strong-minded Protestant Elizabeth, and so remove him from
active interference in French politics. Such a proposal, moreover, was
a welcome one to Elizabeth and her friends, because it effectually
checkmated the intrigues of the Guises and the league in favour of Mary
Stuart, which for the moment were founded on the suggested marriage
of the latter with Anjou. In the autumn of 1570, therefore, both
Chatillon and Chartres, before they left England, separately broached
the idea. Before doing so, however, Chartres wrote asking the opinion
of Marshal Montmorenci, and Chatillon sought guidance direct from
the Queen-mother. The replies apparently being favourable Chartres
mentioned the matter to Cecil, who discussed it privately with the
Queen, whilst at the end of November Chatillon opened his approach by
asking the new French ambassador, La Mothe Fénélon, how Anjou’s suit
with the Princess of Portugal was prospering, as he had reason to
believe that if the Duke became a suitor for the Queen of England’s
hand he would be welcomed. La Mothe, who doubtless had already received
his instructions from France, replied that he had always understood
that the Queen had no intention of marrying, but if she would accept
the Duke for her consort greater peace and tranquillity to France and
the world would result than from anything else. He promised to write
to the Queen-mother on the subject, which he did at once.[51] But
Catharine always preferred to negotiate through one of the many crafty
Florentines who were personally devoted to her, rather than through the
leaders of either French political party, so an excuse was invented
for sending her trusty Guido Cavalcanti to England. La Mothe was ill
when Guido arrived in London, and the latter called to ask after
his convalescence. In conversation with the ambassador he mentioned
Elizabeth’s great indignation at the rebuff she had received through
young Cobham from the Archduke Charles, who, to make matters worse,
had since married a Bavarian princess. He then asked the ambassador
whether he thought this would not be a good opportunity to bring Anjou
forward. La Mothe’s reply being favourable, Cavalcanti next approached
Leicester, who was equally encouraging, and promised to revert to
the subject when he returned from Hampton Court, whither he was then
going to see the Queen. When La Mothe was told this by Cavalcanti, he
thought it time to assert himself as the accredited ambassador, and
at once went to Hampton Court personally. Before seeing the Queen he
visited Leicester, and hinted that approaches had been made to him for
a marriage between the Queen and Anjou, but as Leicester was regarded
by the French as their best friend, he, the ambassador, had decided to
carry the matter no further without his co-operation, so that he might
have the credit of the negotiation. Leicester replied that he was
always against an Austrian alliance, and as the Queen was determined
not to marry a subject, he would sacrifice his own chance in favour of
Anjou’s suit. The matter, he said, could be discussed fully when the
Court returned to London, but in the meanwhile it would be well for
La Mothe to say a word or two to the Queen about it. When Leicester
introduced him into the presence, Elizabeth was awaiting him in her
smartest clothes. After the usual coy fencing she said she was growing
old, and but for the idea of leaving heirs, would be ashamed to speak
about marriage, as she was one of those women whom men seek for their
possessions and not for their persons. The princes of the house of
France, she said, had the reputation of being good husbands, and to
pay all honour to their wives, but not to love them. This was enough
for the present, and La Mothe sent off post-haste to Catharine a full
account of the interview, with no great confidence, as he said, of a
successful termination of the affair; but the chance was so great a one
that it should not be missed, and the Duke of Anjou should be carefully
prepared. Catharine replied in the same strain. She had considered,
she said, that this might be one of Elizabeth’s intrigues with the
intention of prolonging the negotiations and making use of the French
in the meanwhile, and if the Queen of England had a daughter or heiress
she would be a more fitting match for Anjou than the Queen herself. But
still he (La Mothe) was to keep the matter alive on every opportunity,
and push it forward as if of his own action. Catharine urged La Mothe
that the greatest secrecy should be observed, but Elizabeth could
not refrain from gossiping about it, and it soon became common talk,
much to the annoyance of La Mothe, who blamed the indiscretion of
Chartres and Chatillon, who blamed each other. In conversation with the
ambassador Elizabeth appeared entirely favourable to the match, but
objected that although Anjou had reached manhood--he was just twenty
--he was still much younger than she. “So much the better for your
Majesty,” replied he, laughingly. On another occasion he extolled the
happiness of his young King Charles IX. with his bride, and advised
all princesses in search of happy matrimony to mate with princes of
the house of France. The Queen thereupon cited some rather conspicuous
instances to the contrary, and said that it would not satisfy her to
be honoured as a Queen, she must be loved for herself; and La Mothe
duly gave the expected gallant reply. Chatillon was then announced and
the ambassador retired. The Cardinal put the question point blank--
would she accept the Duke if he proposed? To which she replied that on
certain conditions she would. To his request that she would at once
submit the proposal to the Council she at first demured, but the next
day she did so.[52] “One of the members only said that the Duke would
be rather young, and that it would be well to consider deeply before
they broke entirely with the house of Burgundy. The other members were
silent, surprised to see her so set upon this marriage, which they
have hitherto thought was merely a fiction. The Earl of Leicester is
greatly dismayed at having been the instigator of it, but the Cardinal
promises him grand estate and honours, and says he shall go to France
to conclude it. The fickleness of the Queen makes it impossible to
say whether the marriage will go forward or not. She has assured the
Cardinal that she is free from any pledge elsewhere, and that she is
determined to marry a prince and not a subject, whilst she has a good
opinion of the character of Anjou.”[53] This was in the third week of
January, 1571; and on the 31st of the month La Mothe was entertained
at a grand banquet, where he was seated next to the Queen. She was as
usual sentimental, and afraid that she would not be loved for herself
alone, but the ambassador assured her that the Prince would both love
and honour her, and would in due time make her the mother of a fine
boy. This being an aspect of the case upon which she liked to dwell,
the Queen became more talkative but pledged herself no further. She was
indeed so full of the subject that she could speak of nothing else.
She consulted Lady Clinton and Lady Cobham, she discussed it with her
other ladies, and the Court was filled with feminine tittle-tattle
about Anjou’s personal charms and supposed gallantries. With regard
to the latter we may reserve our opinion; but of the former we are in
good position to judge from contemporary portraits and descriptions of
him. When the match had begun to look serious Walsingham was sent as
ambassador to France, and before he went he had a long conversation
with Leicester in his closet at Hampton Court, when the Earl asked him
to send a description of the Prince to him as soon as possible after
his arrival. On the 16th of January Leicester wrote to ask him for
this description, and was evidently even then not very enthusiastic for
the match. “I confesse our estate requireth a match, but God send us a
good one and meet for all parties.”

Walsingham, replying on the 28th, says he has had a good opportunity of
seeing the prince, and describes him as being three inches taller than
himself (Walsingham), somewhat sallow, “his body verie good shape, his
legs long and thin but reasonably well proportioned. What helps he had
to supply any defects of nature I know not. Touching the health of his
person I find the opinion diverse and I know not what to credit, but
for my part I forbeare to be over curious in the search thereof, for
divers respects. If all be as well as outwardly it showeth he is of
bodie sound enough. And yet at this present I do not find him so well
coloured as when I was last here.”[54] He goes on to describe him as
being haughty at first approach, but really more affable than either
of his brothers. It will be seen that Walsingham, Puritan and ally of
Leicester, was not very favourable to the match, and he was indeed
regarded as opposed to it in the French Court.

Jean Correro, the Venetian ambassador, describes Anjou as being
stronger built, of better colour, and more agreeable appearance than
his brother, Charles IX., and says he was very fond of playing with
the ladies of the palace; but Michaeli, another Venetian envoy, paints
him in colours more familiar to us. “He is completely dominated,” he
says, “by voluptuousness; covered with perfumes and essences. He wears
a double row of rings, and pendants at his ears, and spends vast sums
on shirts and clothes. He charms and beguiles women by lavishing
upon them the most costly jewels and toys.”[55] Walsingham says that
a portrait could not be sent to England, as it was forbidden to paint
pictures of the King or his brothers, but a great French Catholic
courtier[56] wrote to Walsingham, in the hope that he would transmit it
to Elizabeth, the following glowing but insidious account of the young
prince: “It is his misfortune that his portraits do not do him justice.
Janet himself has not succeeded in depicting that certain something
which nature has given him. His eyes, that gracious turn of the mouth
when he speaks, that sweetness which wins over all who approach him,
cannot be reproduced by pen or pencil. His hand is so beautiful that if
it were turned it could not be more perfectly modelled. Do not ask me
whether he has inspired the passion of love! He has conquered wherever
he has cast his eyes, and yet is ignorant of one-hundredth part of his
conquests. You have been persuaded that he has a leaning to the new
religion, and might be brought to adopt it. Undeceive yourself. He was
born a Catholic, he has lived the declared champion of Catholicism,
and, believe me, he will live and die in the faith. I have, it is true,
seen in his hands the psalms of Marot and other books of that sort, but
he only had them to please a great Huguenot lady with whom he was in
love. If the Queen, your mistress, be not satisfied with so worthy a
person she will never marry. Henceforward the only thing for her to do
is to vow perpetual celibacy.”

Things went smoothly for the first few weeks, although the French,
warned by past experience, were determined not to be drawn too far
unless Elizabeth showed signs of sincerity. But soon the Guises and
the nobles of the league took fright, and the Pope’s Nuncio personally
exhorted Anjou not to be driven into such a match with a heretic woman
who was too old to hope for issue by him. He told him that “England,
which he was well assured was the mark he chiefly shot at, might
be achieved, and that right easily too, by the sword, to his great
honour, and less inconvenience than by making so unfit a match.”[57]
Walsingham, on the other hand, was not very active in pushing the suit.
He evidently disbelieved in the Queen’s sincerity, and he was probably
right in doing so, notwithstanding her professions to him of her desire
for the match. Whatever may have been in the Queen’s own mind, the
Walsingham Correspondence proves beyond question that the marriage was
looked upon by Cecil as necessary at the time, and it would seem as
if even Leicester and Walsingham were reluctantly drawn to the same
opinion. Matters were indeed in a critical condition for England. The
Ridolfi plot was brewing, the English Catholic nobles in a ferment, and
the Pope, Philip, the league, and the Guises, ready to turn their whole
power to the destruction of Elizabeth. Scotland was in revolt against
the English faction, Alba was reported to be preparing for the invasion
of England, and Thomas Stukeley was planning with Philip and the Pope
his descent upon Ireland. It was a desperate, forlorn hope to think
that the painted puppet in the hands of the Catholic party in France
would change his religion for the sake of marrying Elizabeth, but for
the moment there seemed no other chance of salvation for Protestant
England. The Duke himself spoke slightingly of the Queen and the match.
The Guises and the Spanish ambassador, says Walsingham, “do not stick
to use dishonourable arguments to dissuade him from the same. They
urge rather the conquest of England.” Cecil, on the 3rd of March, told
Walsingham from the Queen that if he were approached on the subject he
was to say that the Queen was convinced of the necessity of marriage
for the welfare of her realm, and would only marry a prince. And then
in a private note Cecil adds: “If God should order this marriage or
any other to take place no time shall be wasted otherwise than honour
should require. I am not able to discern what is best, but surely I see
no continuance of her quietness without a marriage.” Leicester, even,
seems to have believed in the match taking place. He says he was so
anxious for a personal description of the Duke because he finds that
matter is likely to come into question, “and I do perceive her Majesty
more bent upon marrying than heretofore she has been. God make her
fortunate therein.” Walsingham, in a letter to Leicester (March 9th)
in reply, says the opinion is that “unless Anjou marries the Queen it
will be most dangerous, as he will then turn to the Queen of Scots,
since he must be provided for somewhere out of France.” This, indeed,
was almost the only hopeful element in the situation, the absolute
need for the young King and his mother to deprive the French Catholic
nobles of their royal figurehead. Charles IX. and his mother tried
their hardest to persuade Anjou to the marriage, but for a time without
success. The Duke grew more and more scornful of the match under the
influence of the monks by whom he was surrounded. The Huguenots, to
whom it was a matter of life or death to get rid of the King’s brother
as chief of their enemies, sent Téligny to Charles IX. to complain of
the Duke’s attitude. The King replied that he was sufficient master
of his brother to overcome every obstacle to the match unless it were
that of religion. He said he would send his brother away from the
Court so as to destroy the influence of the monks over him. Catharine
at last despaired, and wrote to La Mothe deploring that Anjou spoke
disparagingly of Elizabeth’s honour, and refused absolutely to marry
her, notwithstanding all her prayers. “So, M. de La Mothe,” she
adds, “you are on the point of losing such a kingdom as that for my
children.” But a few days afterwards, by the aid of Cavalcanti, she
apparently overcame her son’s scruples, and on the 18th of February she
wrote more cheerfully to La Mothe, saying that Anjou had consented to
marry the Queen if he were asked.

Two days after this Lord Buckhurst, with a brilliant suite, arrived
in Paris, ostensibly to congratulate Charles IX. on his marriage, but
with secret instructions from the Queen to negotiate with Catharine
again about the Anjou match. Fêtes and banquets, masques and coursing,
kept Buckhurst brilliantly busy until the eve of his departure, when
Cavalcanti came and asked him whether he would not like to see the new
gardens of the Tuilleries, of which Catharine was extremely proud.
Buckhurst went, and of course found there the Queen-mother, who
expressed pleasurable astonishment at the unexpected meeting. She was
glad, she said, to have the opportunity before he left of expressing
to him the friendship of the King and herself towards his mistress,
and their desire to strengthen it when opportunity offered. Time
was short, and Buckhurst did not beat about the bush. “Your Majesty
doubtless refers to the marriage of the Queen and the Duke of Anjou,”
he said. Catharine replied that if she and the King could feel sure
that Elizabeth was not playing with them as she had done with others,
they would be pleased with the match, always on condition that their
honour did not suffer thereby. Buckhurst assured her that the Queen
had instructed him to say that she was determined to marry a foreign
prince, but as it was not becoming for a maiden to seek a husband, she
could only say that when she was sought she would prove to them that
no mockery need be feared. Buckhurst tried very hard to draw Catharine
into a direct offer of her son’s hand, but she would only say that if
the Queen really wished to marry they were quite ready to enter into
negotiations. Before Buckhurst left the next day, however, she sent him
a written offer of her son’s hand to the Queen, on certain conditions
to be arranged. Elizabeth’s attitude when she received this offer by
Buckhurst convinces us that, however earnest some of her councillors
may have been to bring about the marriage, she herself was playing her
usual trick. On the 24th of March she wrote to Walsingham, telling him
of the offer made to her through Buckhurst. It was her wish, she said,
that only Walsingham and de Foix should deal with the matter. It was
her intention to marry some person of royal blood, and Walsingham was
to tell the Queen-mother that his mistress knew full well that it had
been reported that she did not intend to marry, but only to hear offers
and “bruits of marriage from persons of great estate and then reject
them.” She was grieved to be so misunderstood. It is true that at the
beginning of her reign she desired to live single, but the Queen-mother
must recollect _whom_ it was she rejected and how inconvenient such a
marriage would have been. This, of course, referred to Philip II.’s
offer, and was a very adroit turn, considering Catharine’s own feelings
towards her erstwhile son-in-law. Walsingham was, indeed, instructed
to take credit for his mistress’s abnegation and nobleness in refusing
such a match. She was now resolved to marry, he was to say; but through
all the instructions she cleverly avoided giving any specific pledge
or encouragement to Anjou personally. Her language, indeed, is almost
the same as that which she had employed eleven years before with the
Austrian suitors. Amongst the characteristic passages in her letter is
one in which she says that the Queen-mother’s experience in marriage
affairs would enable her to do all that was fitting in the case without
pressing Elizabeth to take too direct a part: “Pray the Queen-mother
not to be over curious as desiring so precise an answer until the
matter may be further treated of and explained, and not to think it any
touch to the honour of her son to be named as a suitor to us, as others
of as great degree have been, though the motions took no effect, rather
for other impediments than for any mislike of their persons.”[58]
He was not to say more than needful about the conditions; but if he
were pressed he was to suggest those adopted on Mary Tudor’s marriage
with Philip II. There was no desire, said Elizabeth, to urge Anjou to
any change of conscience, but he could not be allowed to exercise in
England a religion prohibited by the law, and must attend the Anglican
Church for form’s sake. Above all, the Queen-mother was to be assured
that, whatever might be said to the contrary, Leicester was “ready to
allow of any marriage that we shall like.”

When Walsingham received this ambiguous letter things in Paris were
looking less favourable. Unstable Anjou had again veered round to
the Catholic side, and Spanish intrigues were active all over Europe
to prevent the marriage. Anjou had just told de Foix that he knew it
was “all dalliance,” and reproached him for drawing him so far in
the match. “I will take no step forward,” said the prince, “unless
a decisive reply is sent from England.” When Walsingham learnt this
from de Foix he saw that it would be unwise to repeat his mistress’s
words about religion, and simply told the Queen-mother that Elizabeth
was disposed to accept the hand of the Duke of Anjou. But this was
too dry an answer for Catharine, who well knew that affairs could not
be arranged so easily, and told Walsingham as much. He replied that
as Elizabeth did not wish La Mothe in London to deal with the affair,
all points at issue might be settled by sending de Foix thither, which
Catharine promised should be done shortly, but at present she preferred
to send a “neutre,” as she called Cavalcanti, upon whose penetration
and faithfulness to her she knew she could depend. It is clear that
she still distrusted Elizabeth’s sincerity, and she was undoubtedly
correct in doing so. Leicester’s letters to Walsingham[59] at the
same time show that his mind ran in the same groove as that of the
Queen. The Queen, he said, was determined to marry, but “wished to
deal privately, for less reproach to both parties if nothing came of
it.” “The person of Monsieur is well liked of, but his conversation
is harder to know.” There was no difficulty about Anjou’s person or
estate, he said, but the Queen was firm about religion; whereat he,
Leicester, rejoiced, and hoped that God would always keep her firm
therein. He well knew that upon that rock he could always split the
marriage barque when it looked too much like entering port.

[Illustration: Henry de Valois, Duke of Anjou (Henry III.).]

Cavalcanti, who had only just returned from London and who could better
than any man fathom the inner feelings of the English Court, doubtless
made his mistress acquainted with the true state of affairs; and was
again sent back to England with a draft of the conditions proposed on
behalf of Anjou, which shows clearly the determination of Catharine
that there should be no ambiguity in her son’s position. Cavalcanti
arrived in London on the 11th of April, 1571, but did not present his
conditions until La Mothe had made a formal offer, in the name of the
King of France, of his brother’s hand. The Duke, he said, had long felt
great admiration and affection for her, to which the Queen replied
that the matter had already been mentioned to her by others. She then
elaborately excused herself for the delay that had attended her
other marriage negotiations, promised that no cause for complaint in
this respect should exist in the present instance, and hoped that the
French would not be too exacting on the point of religion. The next day
they came to business. Cecil and Leicester were deputed to examine the
draft contract; and Cecil’s copy thereof is still at Hatfield and is
printed by the Historical MSS. Commission in the Hatfield Papers, part
2.

The proposals, which are evidently such as Elizabeth could never have
accepted, may be summarised as follows: (1) No ceremonies were to be
used at the marriage but those in accordance with the religion of
Monseigneur. (2) That he and his household should be allowed the free
exercise of their religion. (3) That immediately after the marriage
he should receive the title of king and govern and administer the
country jointly with the Queen. (4) That he should be crowned after
the consummation of the marriage. (5) That he should receive from
the English revenues a life pension of £60,000 sterling a year. (6)
That the issue of the marriage should succeed to the paternal and
maternal properties in conformity with the laws of the countries where
such property may be situate. (7) That in the event of the Queen’s
predeceasing her husband and leaving issue he was to govern the country
as king on their behalf. (8) In case there were no issue Anjou was to
still be paid his pension of £60,000 for life.

On the 14th Cecil submitted to the Queen the draft answer to be sent to
these proposals, and after some alterations were made in it, Cavalcanti
started for France with the English terms on the 17th of April. This
able State paper will also be found entire in part 2 of the Hatfield
Papers (Hist. MSS. Com.), and appears to be a sincere attempt on
the part of Cecil to compromise matters, although there are two or
three points upon which the Queen probably depended to raise further
difficulties if necessary to prevent the match. The marriage was to
be celebrated according to the English rites, but Anjou’s ministers
might attend as witnesses, so far as might be necessary to legalise the
marriage from his point of view. The Duke, however, was not required
to act against his conscience if any of the ceremonies were openly
offensive to the Catholic religion. Neither he nor his household were
to be compelled against their conscience to attend Anglican worship,
but the Queen’s consort was expected to accompany her to church at
suitable and accustomed times. He was forbidden to attempt to change
any of the ecclesiastical laws or customs of England, or to favour
those who violated them. He was not to allow, so far as he could help,
the ceremonies of the English Church to be despised. He was to have the
title of king and his status was to be fixed by the precedent of Philip
and Mary, but he was not to be crowned. The Queen would undertake to
supply him with such sums from the Treasury as she might consider
necessary for the proper maintenance of his position. The French
demands with regard to the issue of the marriage were practically
conceded, but the demand for a life pension to continue even after the
death of the Queen was refused.

Matters, however, were not brought even to this point without a great
deal of finesse and wrangling between La Mothe and the Queen and many
long interviews with Cecil and Leicester. When Cavalcanti was about to
depart La Mothe begged the Queen to write a letter to Anjou in answer
to one he had sent to her. She, of course, was shocked; she had never
done such a thing, the pen would fall from her hand, she would not
know what to say, and so on. But the letter was written nevertheless,
and a very curious production it is, full of worldly wisdom about the
marriage proposals, but with plenty of fulsome flattery of Anjou’s
beauty, of his lovely hand, and his gifts of mind and body. She
apparently thought herself entitled to a little flattery from La
Mothe in return, and sighed that whilst in seven or eight years the
Duke would be better looking than ever, she would have grown old. She
then asked whether any one had spoken to the Duke about her foot, her
arm, “and other things she did not mention,” and said she thought the
Duke very _desirable_, to which La Mothe replied, nothing loath, that
they were both “very desirable,” and it was a pity they were so long
debarred from enjoying each other’s perfections.[60]

All this was looked upon with dismay by the Spaniards and the league.
Gerau de Spes, the Spanish ambassador in England, writes to his
master[61] an assurance that the marriage will take place, and that
the English are treating him more arrogantly than ever in consequence.
“The real remedy,” he says, “is that with which Ridolfi is charged.”
Nor were the ultra-Catholics in Paris less desperate. In vain Charles
IX. assured Téligny that he would have his brother “away from the
superstitious friars, and would in a few days work him, as he will
yield to anything that he, the King, might require.” The King said that
his brother was every day growing less superstitious, but his Catholic
courtiers left no stone unturned to make the match impossible. Soon
after Cavalcanti had left London La Mothe went to see the Queen, and
instead of smiles was received with frowns. She had just heard that
a great gentleman in the French Court had openly stated that she had
an incurable malady in one of her legs--this was a sore point with
Elizabeth, who really suffered from an issue in the leg--and had
said that this would be a good reason for Anjou to give her a “French
potion” after he married her, and then marry the Queen of Scots. She
was in a great rage, and threatened to make friends with the Spaniards
again, but would not mention the name of the peccant courtier, which,
indeed, she did not know. She afterwards told La Mothe she was sorry
he had not seen her dance at the Marquis of Northampton’s ball, so
that he might be able to assure the Duke that he ran no risk of
marrying a cripple. Cavalcanti arrived in Paris on the 24th of April,
but Walsingham was unable to see the Queen-mother until the 27th,
when an interview took place at St. Cloud. Catharine professed to be
discontented with the religious conditions proposed by the English, and
said that if her son submitted to them the Queen might blame herself
for accepting as a husband a man so ready to change his religion as
to prove himself without piety or conscience. Walsingham replied that
the Queen did not wish him to change his religion suddenly, or that
he or his people should be forced to conform to the Anglican Church,
but it would be a violation of the laws of her realm to allow him the
exercise of his own faith. Troubles such as had recently afflicted
France indeed might result therefrom. This did not please Catharine.
Her son, she said, could never accept such a condition, which in effect
was tantamount to a change of religion. If any troubles arose in
England such as those feared, the support of France would be the best
safeguard. When she saw that Puritan Walsingham was not to be gained
in this way, she hinted that her son might more easily be brought to
change his views by the influence of the Queen after his marriage,
so that probably the objections they feared would not last long. The
Catholics, she said, were afraid of the marriage, which they thought
might cause a change of religion throughout Europe. Instructions at the
same time were sent to La Mothe, who told Cecil that if the religious
conditions were insisted upon the negotiation might be regarded as at
an end. But this by no means suited the English Court. Cecil had been
assured by the Huguenot partisans of the match that the French would
give way on the crucial point of religion if Elizabeth stood firm;
but when this appeared doubtful, Cecil himself moderated his tone,
and a pretence of great cordiality and agreement between the French
and English was carefully assumed in order to deceive the Spaniards.
In this they were successful, and Spes writes to his king constantly
that the match is practically settled and that Anjou was to turn
Protestant. How necessary it was for Elizabeth to foster this belief
at the time (May, 1571) is clear when we recollect that Bailly, the
Bishop of Ross’ servant, had just confessed under the rack the heads
of the Ridolfi plot. Step by step the clue was being followed up, and
the vast conspiracy of Norfolk and the Catholic English nobles, with
Mary of Scotland, Spain, the Pope, and the league, was being gradually
divulged in all its ramifications. There was no room for doubt any
longer. Spain and the Catholics were determined to crush Elizabeth,
and henceforward it must be war to the knife between them. In such a
struggle England, unaided, would have been at the mercy of the Catholic
powers, and it was vital both for Elizabeth and Catharine de Medici
that they should hold together for mutual support. It was necessary,
therefore, that the negotiations should not be ostensibly dropped, and
the Queen-mother requested that Elizabeth should submit her amended
propositions. La Mothe had assured her that Elizabeth would yield
on the point of religion if she only stood firm, and she, knowing
the English Queen’s extremity, was evidently determined to extort
conditions equally favourable with those formerly granted by Elizabeth
in the case of the Archduke Charles. As a somewhat disingenuous device
Leicester suggested that the article of religion should be omitted
altogether from the draft treaty, and to this Catharine consented. But
as a point of honour she insisted that Elizabeth should at once send
her counter-propositions as promised, and Walsingham plaintively begs
over and over again that she should avoid “jealousy” by sending them
without delay.

On the 20th of May Walsingham saw the Queen-mother at Gaillon and laid
before her the strong arguments which Elizabeth had for insisting upon
the law of England being respected in the matter of the celebration of
the Catholic religion. Catharine was forced to admit their weight, and
said that she must consult the King and Anjou about them. Walsingham
then went to see the Duke himself. He exerted on the young prince
all his powers of persuasion; palliating and minimising points of
difference, and suggesting compromise, but all to no purpose. “The
Queen,” said Anjou, “is, I am told, the rarest creature that was in
Europe these 500 years.” But this was a matter that touched his soul
and conscience, and he could not forsake his faith even for such a
prize.[62]

The next day Walsingham saw the King and his mother to beg them to
exert pressure on Anjou. Let the Queen of England send her amended
demands as promised, said they, and all reasonable concessions shall be
made. De Foix and Montmorenci should be sent to England to conclude the
treaty when the heads were agreed upon, and in the meanwhile efforts
should be made to win over Anjou somewhat. De Foix himself was hardly
so hopeful. He had done, he said, all that mortal man could do to
persuade the Duke; but the constant influence of the Guises and their
friends rendered the matter more and more difficult: “Monsieur being by
them persuaded that it would be his hap to march with the forsaken.”
If, said de Foix, the Queen persisted in forbidding her husband the
exercise of his faith the matter was at an end. But withal Walsingham
thought this was simply bluff, and was assured by some great Huguenot
noble whom he does not name, but who was probably Coligny, that if the
Queen stood firm she would have her way.

Some days afterwards Walsingham was still further encouraged by
learning that Anjou was seeking advice and guidance about English
affairs, and how to become popular with the people. At the beginning
of June Anjou was ill in bed, and Cavalcanti went to visit him. He
found the Duke in appearance almost eager for the match; but always
on condition that his honour should be regarded in religion; and the
King and Queen-mother were most enthusiastic and hopeful. This change
of feeling was brought about by the receipt, after long delay, of the
propositions from Elizabeth dated June 4, 1571, which will be found
printed entire in the Hatfield State Papers, part 2. MSS. Com. The
articles are mainly identical with the marriage treaty of Philip and
Mary, and not a word is mentioned about religion at all. Cavalcanti
was sent off post-haste to England almost as soon as the paper was
received, to express the King’s thanks to Elizabeth for her moderation.
He would never forget her friendship, he said, and would also send at
once M. L’Archant, the captain of Anjou’s guard to England to formally
announce the coming of de Foix and Montmorenci as plenipotentiaries
to complete the contract. Still Catharine knew Elizabeth of old, and
sent word privately to Cecil beseeching him not to let de Foix and
Montmorenci come unless the Queen really meant business.[63] What
Cavalcanti, or rather his mistress, thought is reflected in a remark
he made to the Venetian ambassador in Paris a day or two before he
left for England. The match, he said, would create a weight to balance
the great power of the King of Spain, by uniting England and France in
one interest, and he had now great hopes that it would take place.[64]
Whilst Cavalcanti and L’Archant were awaiting the finishing of some
portraits of Anjou they were to take with them, Catharine again saw
Walsingham. She begged him as a private gentleman to tell her the
best way to bring about the match. He said there were two things he
wished--first, that they (the French) would not stand out stiffly
about religion, and next “that there should be a more honourable sort
of wooing.” Her reply with regard to religion discloses a curious
and artful intrigue by which Cardinal Lorraine, through Throgmorton,
sought to catch Elizabeth. A form of English prayer, she said, had been
handed to de Foix, which the Pope offered to authorise if the Queen
would acknowledge to have received it from him, and this would obviate
all difficulty. With regard to a “more honourable wooing,” she must
think, she said, of her son’s dignity if the match were broken off.
This distrust, Walsingham thought, arose from La Mothe’s report of the
Queen’s indignant outburst about her rumoured lameness. De Foix sought
to reassure Walsingham by telling him that Anjou would within a year
be as forward in religion as any man in England, and related a story
of the Duke’s visit to Madame Carnavalet. Turning to her husband he
said, “Carnavalet, thou and I were once Huguenots, and are now again
become good Catholics.” “Aye,” says she, “and if you proceed in the
matter you wot of you will be so again.” Anjou put his finger on his
lips and replied, “Not a word of that, good Carnavalet.”[65] The lady
herself told Walsingham that Anjou was not really against the reformed
religion, but Sir Francis seems to have had as poor an opinion of his
consistency, as of his mother’s sincerity. He tells Cecil, June 20,
1571, that Anjou’s religion depends entirely on his mother. It was she,
he says, that made him so superstitious last Lent, so as not to lose
her hold on the Catholics if this falls through. “What _her_ religion
is your lordship can partly guess.”

In the meanwhile the Guises were moving heaven and earth to stop, or
at least delay, the match, and that between Henry of Navarre and the
King’s sister Margaret. Better marriages both for brother and sister
were promised. Hopes of the crown of Poland were held out to Anjou,
detraction of Elizabeth was spread broadcast, plots in favour of Mary
Stuart and plans to marry her went on unceasingly. Poor weak Anjou was
wafted from side to side like a straw upon the wind. When Cavalcanti
took the Duke’s portrait to England he carried with him also that of
the Princess of Cleves, to whom it was suggested Leicester might be
married as a consolation. Marshal Tavannes thereupon told Anjou that
since he was going to marry Leicester’s mistress he had better return
the compliment by marrying Leicester to his, Anjou’s, mistress, Mdlle.
Chateauneuf.[66]

L’Archant and Cavalcanti arrived in London towards the end of June,
but Elizabeth had one of her diplomatic illnesses and they could not
see her for a week. Their mission was only to thank her for the
moderation of her proposals, and to request passports for the special
ambassadors. The Queen evidently thought that matters were looking
too much like business to please her. The sincerity of Cecil, and
even of Walsingham, now, in their desire to bring about the match is
undoubted; but it is equally certain that Elizabeth, as usual, wished
to play off France against Spain, Protestant against Catholic, without
burdening herself with a husband. So she once more harked back to the
religious difficulty, and said it would be useless for the formal
embassy to come until that point was settled. She was very amiable and
gracious, coyly charmed at Anjou’s portrait, full of protestations
of friendship and affection, but on the vital point of allowing her
consort the exercise of his faith, even privately, she would not
budge an inch. With her own hands she wrote letters by L’Archant to
the King, his mother, and Anjou. She had given, as was her wont, she
said, a very straightforward answer. She was most anxious to banish
all suspicion, and hoped they would take her answer in good part. To
Anjou she wrote one of her usual ambiguous love-letters, saying that,
although her rank caused her to doubt whether her kingdom is not sought
after more than herself, yet she understands that he has found other
graces in her. She is sorry she cannot come up to the opinion which
L’Archant tells her the Duke has formed of her; but whatever she may
lack she will never fail in her fraternal amity towards him.[67] With
this cold comfort L’Archant had to go back. The Spanish ambassador in
England, detected in his complicity in the Ridolfi plots, was fuming
impotently, almost a prisoner in his own house, and in daily fear of
expulsion, but he managed to send a courier who passed L’Archant on
the road, and arrived in Paris two days before him. The false news
he spread, to the delight of the Guises, was that L’Archant had been
treated off-handedly, and the match might now be considered at an end.
Some one told this to young Charles IX., who burst out that if any
one dared to oppose the match in his presence he should forthwith be
hanged. L’Archant and Cavalcanti were back in Paris on the 16th of
July, and by some mischance saw the Duke first, when the latter was
offended at the Queen’s persistence in the matter of religion, and
coldly sent the envoys to his mother. It did not suit Catharine to
have the negotiations broken off, for she was now really alarmed at
Philip’s open support of the Guises and the league in France, and she
was determined at all risks to cripple the Catholic power for harm
against her. With her full connivance Navarre and Huguenots were arming
privateers by the score at Rochelle and elsewhere, to aid the revolted
Netherlands and prey on Spanish commerce, and she could not afford to
fall away from the English friendship. So, discontented though she was
with Elizabeth’s persistence, both she and the King made the best of
it, and affected to believe that all was going well. But they reckoned
without Anjou. Neither his mother’s tears nor his brother’s threats
could move him, for Cardinal Lorraine now had him in the hollow of his
hand. The Guises, the Nuncio, and the Spaniards were untiring. They had
surrounded Anjou with their friends, who could lead him as they liked,
and Catharine said she suspected that “Villequier, Lignerolles, and
Sarret were the authors of all these fancies. It we were only certain,
I can assure you they should repent it.” One of them, Lignerolles, at
all events, was soon after put out of the world by murder. The King
came to high words more than once with Anjou himself. He had insulted
the Queen of England, he told him, by his foolishness. Conscience,
he was sure, had nothing to do with it, and Anjou was only moved by
greed through a pension given to him by the Catholic clergy to be
their champion. “I will let you know,” cried the young King, “that I
will have no champions here but myself.” Anjou shut himself up in his
rooms all day bathed in tears, but he would not yield. The Queen-mother
herself sometimes pretended to take Anjou’s part, and made a show of
standing out about religion, but on this occasion no one was deceived
by her, and Walsingham writes to Cecil, July 30, 1571, that she and the
King are most anxious to be friendly with Elizabeth, and are sending
de Foix to London with all sorts of offers and protestations to secure
an alliance, even if the match fall through. They are growing, he
says, daily more suspicious of Spain; and the King will not have Anjou
here. Even Walsingham pitied poor abject Anjou, torn, as he says, from
one side to the other. De Foix left for London on August 1st, but
although a pretence of marriage negotiation was still kept up, it was
acknowledged by all those who were interested that the affair was at an
end, and that de Foix’s real mission was to sound Elizabeth as to a new
offensive and defensive alliance against Spain.

The envoy, who was a _persona grata_ in England, where he had long
resided as ambassador, was received with marked distinction, and had
eight audiences of the Queen. All the old arguments and hair-splittings
about the observance of religion were gone over again. Sometimes the
Queen appeared to give way, but the next day she would be obdurate
again. Cecil himself was puzzled at her nimble gyrations, and wrote
to Walsingham that “the conferences have had as many variations as
there have been days.” The Queen was withal gracious and full of
protestations of friendship, and at the last audience the real hint was
given which justified de Foix’s mission. After finally satisfying him
that if Anjou came he must conform to the Anglican Church, Cecil asked
whether his instructions extended beyond the marriage negotiations.
De Foix said they did not, but this was enough, and he posted back to
Paris with the hint, leaving Cavalcanti behind him. Before leaving,
on September 6th, he suggested to Cecil that it might be well to send
Sir Thomas Smith, who was well known in France, or some one else, to
discuss the marriage, or a treaty, with the Queen-mother.

In the meanwhile, a somewhat curious change had taken place in Paris.
Charles IX. had been informed, probably at the instance of the Catholic
party, that the Huguenots, seeing Anjou so bigoted, were now opposing
Elizabeth’s marriage with him, and were proposing to her a match with
Henry of Navarre, who was engaged to the King’s sister Margaret.
There was little or no foundation for this, but it served its purpose
and frightened the King into distrust of the Huguenots; and when de
Foix arrived in Paris he found Charles IX. coolly acquiescent in the
Queen’s refusal, and on the watch for signs of treachery from the
Protestant party. Walsingham, in Paris, soon felt the effect; and on
the 26th of September he wrote to Cecil that the Anjou marriage was
absolutely at an end, and he was in great alarm to see that France
and Spain were growing friendly. The smallest demonstration of this
was sufficient to bring Elizabeth to her knees, and she at once sent
Walsingham instructions to revive the marriage negotiations on any
terms. He was even to give way on the crucial point of religion.[68]
The very day upon which he received this letter, namely the 8th of
October, his great confidant (probably Coligny) had told him how
anxious the Queen-mother was for her son, the King, not to break
with Elizabeth, and had asked him how she could bring about a match
between the English Queen and her youngest son, the Duke of Alençon.
Her interlocutor had scouted the idea, he said, but the seed was sown,
which was probably all that Catharine wanted. Anjou had now openly
stated that under no circumstances would he marry Elizabeth, even if
she gave way on all points, so that he was no longer of any use as
a piece in the game. Walsingham accordingly wrote back to Elizabeth
saying that he would do his best to revive the negotiations, but he was
not hopeful, and would keep his mistress’s tardy surrender to himself
until he “saw a better disposition here.”

There is no doubt that Walsingham and Cecil were now thoroughly
alarmed. The Queen-mother and the King were almost ostentatiously
tending to the side of Spain. The Churchmen were busy promoting a
marriage between Anjou and Mary Stuart, whilst the Queen-mother, for
her part, was plotting with Cosmo de Medici for the wedding of her
favourite son--“_her idol_,” as her daughter called Anjou--to a
Polish princess. The full discovery of Norfolk’s plot in England,
with its extensive ramifications abroad, the troubles in Scotland
and Ireland, and the final rupture of diplomatic relations between
England and Spain, were so many more black clouds gathering from all
quarters over Elizabeth; and Cecil’s letters to Walsingham at the
time were almost despairing. The marriage, he said, was the only
chance for the Queen’s safety, and he thought now she was resolved
to accept the King of France’s conditions. But the French were now
cold. Walsingham did his best to renew the talk of the marriage, but
with little success, and earnestly urged upon the Queen to hold firm
to the French friendship. But though Coligny was restored to high
favour, and the murderers of the Guisan Lignerolles were immediately
pardoned and favoured, the murmurs of the coming St. Bartholomew were
already in the air, and Cecil was warned long beforehand of Coligny’s
danger. In October Walsingham fell ill, and went to England to recruit
and discuss the perilous situation, Henry Killigrew being appointed
temporarily to replace him. In the middle of December Sir Thomas
Smith was despatched on a special mission to revive, at all costs,
the talk of the Anjou match, or to negotiate the bases of a treaty.
He was well fitted for the task; one of the first scholars in England
who had been maintained by Henry VIII. at foreign Courts in order
that his experience might afterwards be useful. He had on more than
one occasion been instrumental in settling treaties of peace between
England and France, his witty, jocose method evidently suiting the
temper of the Queen-mother and her advisers. His letters, some printed
in the Hatfield Papers and the Foreign Calendar, and some in the
“Compleat ambassador,” are extremely graphic and amusing, in contrast
with those of Walsingham, in which penetration and perspicuity are the
salient characteristics.

Sir Thomas Smith and Killigrew arrived at Amboise, where the Court was,
on January 1, 1572. His first interview was with de Foix, who assured
him that Anjou was still firm on the question of religion. Smith said
he did not think the last word had been said on that matter, but
refrained from appearing anxious for an audience of the Queen-mother
or the King until Coligny and Montmorenci had been sounded as to the
best mode of procedure. De Foix went so far as to say that Anjou was
religious mad, whereupon Smith replied that if he thought the Duke was
really obstinate about it he “would soon turn tail,” and thus save
his mistress’s honour. It is very evident that Smith had no belief in
Anjou’s devotion, for he tells Cecil that his “religion was really
fixed on Mdlle. Chateauneuf, and now in another place.”

Smith had his first audience with the Queen-mother on the 6th of
January. The King and the rest of them, he says, were busy dancing,
when the Queen-mother took him apart into her chamber and opened the
colloquy by saying that the only obstacle to the match was still the
question of religion, as Anjou was so bigoted as to think that he
would be damned if he yielded the point. Smith then asked whether, in
the event of Elizabeth giving way on this, the match would be carried
through. “Well,” replied Catharine, “that is the principal point, but
still there are other questions which will have to be settled touching
the honour and dignity of the Prince. Yet she assured the English
envoy there was nothing they ever desired so much in their lives as
the marriage, and they had not the slightest desire to break off. To
this Smith replied that if they _did_ want to break off the religious
question would be the most honourable point of difference. Catharine
assured him again of their sincerity, but deplored that Anjou was so
“assotted.” What more can he desire, asked Smith, than that which the
Queen was now willing to concede; namely, that he should have free
exercise of his religion, “only excepting such parts of the mass as
were against God’s words”? If he did not have full mass he thought he
would inevitably be damned, said Catharine. The English envoy only
gave way step by step. Suppose, he asked, the Duke were allowed to
hear private mass in his own little chapel, would that do for him?
No, replied the Queen-mother, he must have full, open, public mass;
he was so devout that he heard three or four masses a day, and fasted
so rigidly at Lent that “he began to look lean and evil-coloured,”
whereupon, she said, she was angry with him, and told him she would
rather he were a Huguenot than thus hurt his health. No, she continued,
he will not have mass in a corner, but “with all the ceremonies of the
Romish Church, with priests and singers and the rest.” “Why, Madame,”
quoth Smith, “then he may require also the four orders of friars,
monks, canons, pilgrimages, pardons, oil, cream, relics, and all such
trumperies--that in nowise could be agreed to.” He told Catharine
of the cruel persecutions in England in the time of Mary, and the
present disaffection of the English Catholics, “all of whom had their
hands in the pasty of the late treason,” and pointed out the danger of
allowing them again to raise head in England. This touched the Queen
of England’s extremity, and Catharine diplomatically added fuel to the
fire by saying that Alba had hired two Italian assassins to murder
Elizabeth. Killigrew interposed here, thinking perhaps that Smith had
made a _faux pas_, and said that the same party had not scrupled to use
their arts against Catharine’s own blood, and hinted that the flower of
her flock, the beautiful Elizabeth of Valois, Philip’s third wife, had
been sacrificed by them. But Killigrew’s French was weak, and instead
of saying “Votre fille perdue,” he said “Votre fille perdrie,” which
made the Queen-mother laugh whilst her eyes filled with tears at the
thought of her gentle daughter lying dead in the convent of barefooted
Carmelites in far-away Madrid. At this point de Foix was summoned to
the conference, and Smith called him to witness that whereas the Queen
of England had always refused to concede the exercise of the mass at
all, the Queen-mother now demanded “high mass, with all the public
ceremonies of the Church, with priest, deacon, sub-deacon, chalice,
altar, bells, candlesticks, paten, singing-men, the four mendicant
orders, and all the thousand devils.”[69] They laughed at Smith’s
vehemence, but they understood as well as he the dire straits in
which his mistress was, and stood firm. The next day de Foix and the
Bishop of Limoges had another conversation with the English envoys,
whom they told that Anjou “would nothing relent,” and that the King
was very angry with him for his obstinacy. Smith said he would rather
die than lead his Queen to consent; whereupon de Foix appears to have
hinted again at Alençon, of an alliance without a marriage, but of this
Smith would say nothing, and closed the interview. As a matter of fact
Elizabeth was deeply mortified at the cool dilatoriness with which her
advances were being received. It was almost a new experience for her.
Hitherto, with one exception, she had only had to soften somewhat to
bring her suitor to her feet again, but now Anjou was openly scorning
her and his mother and brother receding as the English Queen advanced.
It was mainly a game of brag on the part of Catharine, who was really
as anxious as Elizabeth at the time to maintain a close connection
between England and France. Alençon and his brother Anjou were, says
Smith, like Guelph and Ghibelline, the former surrounded only by those
of “the religion,” whilst the latter’s suite and courtiers were all
“Papists.” Catharine had not apparently yet been won over to the view
that her own interests would be served by allowing the Catholic party
complete domination, and their opponents to be massacred; and when
she was so persuaded, and the St. Bartholomew had been perpetrated,
she soon found out her mistake and took up her old policy again. The
day following the interview just mentioned, Cavalcanti came to Smith
with a formal copy of Anjou’s demand; namely, that he should have
full religious liberty in England. Smith writes to Cecil on the 9th
of January, giving an account of his reception of the document. He
affected to be perfectly shocked at the terms, and said he dared not
send them to his mistress, which really meant that before being quite
off with the old love he wished to have some advance from the new. He
asked Cavalcanti to suggest to the Queen-mother whether she could not
think of some salve to accompany this bitter pill. Cavalcanti knew
what he meant, and said something about Alençon, but Smith says he
pretended to be too much perturbed to hear, “for I will have it from
the Queen-mother’s own mouth.” Catharine sent word that she was grieved
that the paper had disturbed Smith so much, and would be glad to see
him. The next day she sent a coach for him and Killigrew, and they were
accompanied to the Court by Castelnau de la Mauvissière and Cavalcanti.
She hoped, she said, that his mistress would not break amity with them
on this matter, as she and the King were very earnest, and trusted the
Queen of England would have pity upon them. She had another son who,
if the Queen would consent to “phantasy him,” would make no scruple
about religion. She also hinted at a national alliance, and asked Smith
whether he had powers to negotiate. He told her he must await further
instructions, but as to the Duke of Alençon, if the Queen were as much
astonished at Anjou’s demand as he was, she would not lend ear to any
other proposition from them of the sort. He could not, he said, write
to the Queen about it, but would sound Cecil; and himself would meet
any French statesman the Queen-mother might appoint to “rough hew” a
treaty. Smith’s firmness had its reward, and the Queen-mother softened
considerably. She had the envoys assured that in order to pacify
Elizabeth Alençon should be sent to England unconditionally. Their
evident anxiety inspired Smith with high hopes. “Never,” he said, “was
there a better time than now for a marriage or a league,” and he begs
Cecil to urge the Queen to lose no time nor to procrastinate, “as is
commonly her wont.” Killigrew, for his part, was just as hopeful, and
wrote to the Queen that “Papists and Huguenots alike all wish Alençon
to go to England, and he is very willing, although Anjou is against it.
Alençon,” he says, “is not so tall or fair as his brother, but that is
as is fantasied. Then he is not so obstinate, papistical, and restive
like a mule, as his brother is. As for getting children, I cannot tell
why, but they assure me he is more apt than the other.”[70]

In the meanwhile the “rough hewing” of the treaty of alliance went
on, but to all attempts to draw him about the Alençon proposals Smith
was dumb until he could receive instructions from England, which did
not come; so the indispensable Cavalcanti was sent over to broach the
matter there. La Mothe Fénélon, the French ambassador in England,
had some months before looked coldly upon the suggestion of a match
between Alençon and the Queen, and had told Catharine that he feared
such a proposal would cause offence; but, urged by the Queen-mother
and her emissary, Cavalcanti, he broached the matter to Cecil one day
at the end of January as he was coming from a long interview with the
Queen. Have you spoken to the Queen about it? said Cecil. La Mothe
said he had not, and Cecil told him to keep it secret until they two
had put themselves in accord on the subject. Smith’s repeated letters
in favour of the idea, and La Mothe’s advances, at last decided him to
open the suggestion to the Queen. She naturally at once objected to
the great disparity of ages--she was nearly thirty-nine and Alençon
was not seventeen--and then she asked Cecil what was Alençon’s exact
height. He is about as tall as I am, replied the lord treasurer. “You
mean as tall as your grandson,” snapped the Queen, and closed the
conversation.[71] Elizabeth’s vanity had been wounded by the way in
which the French had played fast and loose with her about Anjou, and
she was somewhat restive; but Cecil and most of the English ministers
were better pleased with Alençon than with his brother, first because
he had been always attached to the Huguenots by his diplomatic mother,
and would make no difficulty about religion; and secondly, as he was
not the next heir to the French crown, the danger which might arise in
the event of his succession was more remote.

On Sunday, the 9th of February, a grand masque and tourney were given
by Catharine de Medici, apparently for the purpose of showing off
her youngest son to the English envoys. He and his brother the King,
splendidly dressed and mounted, with six followers aside, tilted at
the ring, the Queen-mother the meanwhile pointing out the perfections
of the younger, who, she told Killigrew, was rather richer than his
brother Anjou.



[Illustration]

CHAPTER VI.

  Interview of Walsingham and Smith with Catharine de Medici
      respecting Alençon--Treaty between England and France--
      Cavalcanti’s negotiations--Montmorenci’s mission to London
      --Walsingham’s description of Alençon--La Mole’s visit to
      the Queen--The Alençon match prospers--The St. Bartholomew
      --Resumption of negotiations--Alençon’s first letter to the
      Queen--Maisonfleur’s mission--Special embassy of Castelnau
      de la Mauvissière--Civil war in France--Anjou elected King
      of Poland--Disappears as a suitor for Elizabeth’s hand.


On the 21st of March Walsingham, who had now returned to his post,
was walking with Smith in the park at Blois, when by accident or
design they met the Queen-mother. A quaint account of the interview
with her is given in a letter from Smith to Cecil dated the following
day. They were speaking of the Duke of Norfolk’s conspiracy, when the
Queen-mother seized the opportunity of once more trying to urge the
suit of her youngest son. “I would,” she said, “that the Queen were
quiet from all these broils; doe you (Smith) know nothing how she can
fancie the marriage with my son the Duke of Alençon?” “Madam,” said
Smith, “you know me of old; I can affirm nothing except I have some
good ground. Why, if she be disposed to marrie, I do not see where she
shall marrie so well; and yet, saith she, I may as a mother be justly
accounted partial, but as for those which I have heard named, as the
Emperor’s son or Don John, they be both lesser than my son is, and of
less stature by a good deal, and if she should marrie it were pity
any more time were lost. Madam, quoth I, if it pleased God that she
were married and had a child, all these braggs and all these treasons
would soon be appalled, and on condition that she had a child by M.
d’Alençon, for my part I care not if ye had the Queen of Scotland here,
for you would then take as good care of her as we do.” Catharine de
Medici confirmed this view, and said that there was no reason why they
should not have several children. “And if the Queen,” she said, “could
have fancied my son Anjou, why not this one, of the same house, father
and mother, and as vigorous and lusty as he, and rather more? And now
he beginneth to have a beard come forth, for that I told him the last
day that I was angry with it, for I was now afraid he would not be so
high as his brethren. Yea, Madam, I said, a man doth commonly grow in
height to his years, the beard maketh nothing. Nay, said she, he is not
so little; he is as high as you, or very near. For that, Madam, quoth
I, I for my part make small account, if the Queen’s Majesty can fancie
him, for Pepin the short did not reach his wife’s girdle and yet had
Charlemagne. It is true, said she, that it is heart and courage and
activity that is to be looked for in a man. But have you no word of
your Queen’s affection that way? Can you give me no comfort?” But Smith
was not to be drawn out of his reserve without special instructions
from England, and these did not come; so that although the conversation
continued in the same strain for a long time, Catherine could get
nothing definite in the way of encouragement to Alençon.

In the meanwhile the “rough hewing” of the treaty had been steadily
going on, and on the 19th of April the draft protocol was signed at
Blois. Aid was to be given unofficially by both nations to the revolted
Hollanders; the fleets of Protestant privateers in the Channel were
to be sheltered and encouraged, and, above all, the Huguenot Henry of
Navarre was to marry Margaret of Valois, the King’s sister. Catharine
wrote a letter to Elizabeth on the 22nd of April, through Smith,
expressing her joy at the prospect of peace and harmony in France,
which the treaty and her daughter’s marriage held out, and Marshal de
Montmorenci and de Foix were sent as a special embassy to England for
the ratification of the formal alliance, whilst Lord Admiral Clinton,
the Earl of Lincoln, was to proceed to France for a similar purpose.
The Protestant party in France were thus for the moment victorious
all along the line, and the connection between England and France
closer than it had been for many years. Catharine, naturally desirous
of securing a double hold upon England whilst these relations lasted,
by settling her youngest son as Elizabeth’s consort, instructed
Montmorenci to make a formal offer of his hand to the Queen. As usual,
Cavalcanti was sent over as a harbinger, and took with him a flattering
portrait of the Prince, which was given to the Queen through Leicester.
Alençon was deeply pitted with the small-pox from which he had recently
suffered, and otherwise was far inferior in appearance to his brother
Anjou, so that to a person of Elizabeth’s temperament he was less
likely to be acceptable. She had, moreover, obtained by the treaty
of Blois the close alliance with France and the predominance of the
Huguenots which she desired, and could therefore afford to hold off
somewhat in the marriage negotiations in which she personally had never
been sincere. She accordingly instructed Lord Lincoln[72] that if any
mention were made to him of the marriage, he might say that he believed
she considered she had not been well treated in the Anjou business;
and moreover the disparity of years between herself and Alençon was so
great as in her opinion to be a complete “stay” to the match.

Montmorenci and de Foix arrived in London on the 13th of June and were
lodged at Somerset House, their entertainment being the most lavish
and splendid that had been seen in England for many years. After the
swearing of the alliance on the 15th at Westminster, the ambassadors
had audience of the Queen and presented her with Catharine’s letter
offering the hand of her son. She again objected to her suitor’s
youth, and sustained the discussion with Montmorenci until supper was
announced. Subsequently, at Windsor, he returned to the charge, when
Elizabeth once more raised the religious question. The ambassador said
they would be contented with the concessions which Smith had offered
at Blois when Anjou was under discussion. But matters were changed
now, and the Queen said she did not recollect to have made any such
concessions; besides which the difference of age was so great as to be
an obstacle. De Foix replied that the disproportion was not so very
great after all. Alençon was strong and vigorous, capable of begetting
children, whilst she who was used to command would be better pleased
with a young and docile husband than with an older one. There was much
beating about the bush on the religious question, but the ambassadors
made it evident that Alençon was not a bigot like his brother, and
that no great stand would be made on that point. On their departure,
therefore, at the end of the month the matter was still left in
suspense.

As soon as they had gone Burleigh sent some account of their visit
to Walsingham in France. “They were,” he says, “entertained as never
before in man’s memory. The honour done them also by the Queen was
such as she could do no more. All the higher nobility attended them,
the only difference from the Lord Admiral’s entertainment in France
being that no lord but my Lord Leicester entertained them, saving
I at Midsummer eve did feast them and all their gentlemen with a
collation of all things I could procure, not being flesh to observe
their manner.” He deplores that the presents of plate given to the
ambassadors were not so great as he would have wished, although they
both got “cupboards of plate and Montmorenci also a great gold cup of
111 ounces.” With regard to Alençon, “they got neither yea nor nay,
only a month’s delay.”

But at the end of the letter it is clear that Elizabeth, who was not
now in such a hurry, was determined if she did marry to drive as hard a
bargain as possible. Walsingham is instructed to get full information
of the Prince’s age, stature, condition, devotion, &c., with all
speed, for the Queen; and Burleigh assures his correspondent that he
sees no lack of will in the Queen but on account of Alençon’s age.
“If we could counter-balance that defect with some advantage such as
Calais for their issue, he being governor for life.”[73] Otherwise, he
says, he doubts the result, as the Queen mislikes Alençon’s youth and
appearance.

In the meanwhile Lincoln came back from Paris loaded with 2,800 ounces
of gilt plate, worth, says Walsingham, 10s. per ounce, and full of the
magnificence and gaiety of his entertainment in France. His stay had
been one succession of splendid feasts, and Alençon especially had
treated him with marked distinction. Coligny and the great Huguenot
chiefs had emphatically praised the young Prince to him, and Lincoln
came back to his mistress greatly impressed with all he had heard and
seen, and assured her that Alençon, far from being inferior, was better
than his brother, both in bearing and credit. She characteristically
objected that he was not nearly so good-looking, and that the small-pox
had not improved him. Lincoln’s favourable opinion was to a great
extent confirmed by Walsingham’s report to Cecil. The Duke, he said,
was born on the 25th of April, 1555, and his stature is about the same
as that of Lord Lincoln. He was reputed to be prudent and brave, but
also somewhat feather-headed, which, says Walsingham, is a common fault
with his countrymen. Coligny was in great hope of him in religion,
and thought he might soon be brought to a knowledge of the truth; and
Walsingham concludes his good character of the Prince by hinting that
he was really in love with the Queen. But it will be noticed that he
says not a word as to his physical charms, which indeed could not
compare with his brother Anjou’s somewhat effeminate beauty. He is
thus described at the time by the Venetian ambassador in Paris. “His
complexion is swarthy and his face pitted with small-pox, his stature
small but well set, his hair black and curling naturally. He wears it
brushed up from the forehead, which lengthens the oval of his face. He
affects popular manners, but his prodigal promises of reforms are only
a cloak for his unbridled desire for trouble and dissension.”[74]

On the 20th of July the Queen sent instructions to Walsingham saying
that “although the forbearing of her Majesty’s consent to the motion
of Marshal Montmorenci for a marriage with the Duke of Alençon was
grounded on their ages, yet a greater cause of misliking proceeds
from the report made by all of his great blemish in his face by means
of small-pox, which is such that none dare affirm to her Majesty the
good liking of him in that respect,”[75] and Walsingham is directed
to let this view be known to the Queen-mother, as if coming from
himself without instructions. The Queen herself wrote a letter to
Walsingham at the same time, going over the whole ground. She says she
was moved by the importunity of Montmorenci to consider the match,
notwithstanding her treatment in the matter of Anjou and the youth of
Alençon, but “has now spoken to Lord Lincoln and others from France,
and finds the conditions and qualities of the said Duke nothing
inferior to the Duke of Anjou, but rather better liked. But as to
visage and favour everybody declares the same to be far inferior, and
especially for the blemishes of small-pox; so, the youngness of his
years being considered, she cannot bring herself to like this offer,
especially finding that no other great commodity is offered with him,
whereby the absurdity that the general opinion of the world might
grow, might in some measure be recompensed.” Walsingham is to decline
with thanks. She has no lack of desire for their friendship but,
really, the ages of her suitor and herself were too disproportionate,
particularly “as she cannot hear of anything which may countervail the
inconvenience.”[76] She again repeats that although the _official_
objection is Alençon’s youth, yet his pock-marked visage has had a
large share in personally influencing her to refuse the offer, unless
indeed some great countervailing advantage--such as the restoration
of Calais--could make her forget it. In another letter, a few days
later, she enlarges upon these points, but says that the only way to
overcome the difficulty will be for them to meet and see whether they
could fancy each other. But she knew that this trick to feed her vanity
was getting stale, and foresaw the answer. If, she says, the King and
Queen-mother reply that it is not usual for princes of the house of
France thus to go on approval, and that she only makes the suggestion
for the purpose of increasing her own reputation and not to marry
him, Walsingham is to point out that the prize he aims at is a great
one and worth some small sacrifice. If they hold out on the point,
Walsingham is to propose that the question of religion should be left
open, so that it may be used as an excuse for breaking off, if she and
Alençon do not fancy each other when they meet, and thus the Prince’s
_amour propre_ may be saved. The reason why Elizabeth was again
presenting the bait of marriage is not far to seek. A few days before
this letter was written an answer came from Charles IX. to the Queen’s
letter taken by Montmorenci. The French king was already beginning to
cry off of his bargain about aiding the revolted Netherlands against
Philip. Pressure was being brought to bear upon him from the Pope and
the Emperor, whispers of Huguenot plots and treasons against him were
instilled into his ear from morn till night by his Catholic nobles;
and the Queen-mother herself had taken fright at the arrogance of the
now dominant Protestant party, who were riding roughshod over their
enemies. Paris was in a ferment at the supersession of its beloved
Guises; and Charles IX. and his mother felt that in avoiding the Scylla
of Catholic subjection they had fallen into the Charybdis of complete
Huguenot thraldom. Their connection with the “Englishwoman” had gone
too far for the patience of Paris, and the King’s throne was in danger.
As usual, the cooler he grew towards the English alliance the more
openly was the bait of marriage held out by the Queen. There was an
additional reason, too, for his holding back. The Huguenot force under
Genlis, which had entered Flanders, had been completely crushed and
routed by Don Fadrique de Toledo, and it was clear to Charles IX. that
unless he could disconnect himself from the unsuccessful attempt, he
might be dragged down by the overthrow of the Huguenot party. On the
day, therefore, that the news of Genlis’s defeat reached Paris the
King was closeted for hours with Montmorenci, and the result of this
conference was the dispatch the same night of a young noble named La
Mole to England. He was a mere lad, a great friend of Alençon’s, and
the reason for choosing him was that he might fittingly seem to be
pressing Alençon’s suit, and so keep Elizabeth from quite breaking
away, whilst really his object was to dissociate the King from any
act of hostility against Spain in Flanders, and thus practically to
withdraw from the treaty of alliance of which the ink was hardly yet
dry.

La Mole travelled post night and day, and arrived in London only on the
fourth day after he had left Paris: he brought flattering letters of
introduction from Walsingham, Montmorenci, and Coligny, whose main hope
it is clear to see by his letter, now rested upon Alençon’s marriage
with the Queen. La Mole arrived in London on the 27th of July, and
on the following night at eleven o’clock Burleigh had a long private
interview with him and La Mothe Fénélon at the house of the latter. The
Queen was on her progress towards the splendid visit to Kenilworth, and
it was some days before her decision with regard to receiving La Mole
could arrive. He started from London with La Mothe Fénélon on the 1st
of August, and reached the Queen on the night of the 3rd, Sunday. He
was at once secretly introduced into the Queen’s chamber, Leicester,
Smith, and La Mothe Fénélon alone being present. The Queen, we are
told, was full of graciousness and caresses,[77] for the envoy was
young and gallant, but she could hardly have been pleased with his
mission. “His King,” he said, “could not openly declare himself in the
matter of Flanders, as she desired ... as otherwise it would provoke
a league of the Pope, the King of Spain, the Venetians, and others
against which he could not defend himself. He was against any rash
action. The King of Portugal had a large force of 12,000 or 15,000
men, and he was assured the Duke of Savoy was fully armed--all this
must be considered before any bold step was taken.”[78] The next day
La Mole went openly to the palace ostensibly only as an emissary from
Alençon, “with all the tricks and ceremonies of the French and these
people. He is still at Court, being feasted and made much of.”[79]
The Queen, indeed, was so pleased with him that she carried him to
Kenilworth where a grand supper was given specially in his honour, at
which Elizabeth herself presided and drank the young envoy’s health.
The next day he and La Mothe were entertained at dinner by Cecil, and
Elizabeth was again present. After dinner she fully explained her new
position towards the Alençon match with her usual nimble _volte face_,
to suit the changed circumstances. La Mothe Fénélon gives an account of
the conversation as if the Queen’s expressions were quite spontaneous;
but it is instructive to note that everything she said was carefully
drawn up by Cecil, and the interesting paper is still at Hatfield.[80]
They (the French), she said, had quite misunderstood Walsingham. It
would have been absurd for her to have said that her marriage with
Alençon was impossible and immediately afterwards to have suggested a
meeting between them. She only raised certain difficulties as to their
ages, religion, and the like, but these might doubtless be overcome.
And so she again holds out her hand, smooths away obstacles, suggests
a meeting between the Duke and herself, proposes the adoption of the
Anjou articles, with the exception of religion, which she and Alençon
will settle between them, and generally opens wide once more the door
for negotiation. At this and subsequent interviews at Kenilworth she
exerted all her powers of fascination upon La Mole and La Mothe, who
were both ready enough to flatter her to the top of her bent. She
played her spinet to them, sighed that she was determined to marry
and must see the Duke at once, and persistently set her cap at young
La Mole as proxy for his master. Solid Cecil and jocose Smith appear
to have been almost as much carried away as La Mole. They both wrote
to Walsingham the belief that at last the affair would prosper in
good earnest, if only the lover would take the trouble to run over
to England and see the object of his affection. There are plenty of
ways, said Smith, of coming over; and he would do more in an hour than
we could do in two years--“Cupido ille qui vincit omnia in oculis
insidet,” and so on. Everything seemed to be prospering in the wooing,
though the Queen herself was no more in earnest than before; and
doubtless she and Leicester laughed in their sleeves at the way they
were hoodwinking some of the keenest eyes of both nations. One person
they certainly did not deceive, and that was Catharine de Medici;
for at the very moment when all this billing and cooing was going on
the massacre of St. Bartholomew was being planned, and the person who
was being kept in hand and cajoled into a false sense of security,
notwithstanding the refusal of Charles IX. to help the Hollanders, was
Elizabeth herself. But deceived though she was, she had prudence enough
to mistrust the curious new attitude adopted by the French, whose one
object was to draw her into a position of overt enmity to Spain in the
Netherlands, whilst Charles IX. deprecated taking up such a position
for himself. La Mole’s blandishments were not powerful enough for this;
and after twenty days’ stay he and La Mothe left the Queen with great
professions of love and affection and a gold chain worth 500 ducats
for the young envoy, and came to London, where they arrived on the
27th of August. On the same day there arrived at Rye two couriers from
Paris, one with letters from Walsingham to the Queen, and the other
with despatches for La Mothe Fénélon, the French ambassador. Acting
by order the English courier immediately on his arrival caused the
authorities of the port to seize the papers of the other courier and
send them together with Walsingham’s letters in all haste to the Queen
at Kenilworth. The Queen was out hunting when they arrived, and read in
them first as she rode the news of St. Bartholomew--overwhelmed with
the great tragedy which seemed to be as much directed against herself
as against the French Huguenots. All rejoicings were stopped, mourning
garb was adopted, and long, anxious conferences took the place of gay
diversion. Before the Queen herself received the news the dire calamity
had become known in London. Terrified Huguenots by the hundred, flying,
as they thought, from a general massacre, were scudding across the
Channel to the English ports in any craft they could get. From mouth
to mouth spread the dreadful story, growing as it spread, and for a
time London and the Court were given up to panic at what was assumed
to be a world-wide murderous conspiracy against Protestantism. The
treachery of the French was especially condemned, and La Mole lost
no time in getting away from a country where he could be of no more
use. La Mothe was ordered by Elizabeth to keep in his house until the
safety of her ambassadors in France could be ascertained, and for
several days La Mothe himself was but imperfectly informed as to what
had happened on Navarre’s terrible wedding-day. It was not until the
7th of September that the Queen received him at Woodstock on her way
to Windsor. She and her Court were in deep mourning, and La Mothe was
received in silence and with no greeting from the Queen except a cold
inquiry whether the news she had heard was true. He made the best of
the sad story; repeated the assertion that there was a plot of Coligny
and the Huguenots to seize the Louvre; urged that the massacre was
unpremeditated, and that the King was obliged to sacrifice Coligny to
save himself. In the midst of his reading the King’s letter Elizabeth
interrupted the ambassador and said that her knowledge of events
would suffice to prevent her from being deceived, or giving entire
credit to the King’s assertions; but even if they were all true, she
did not understand why harmless women and children should have been
murdered.[81] La Mothe urged the continuance of the French friendship,
but Elizabeth knew that such friendship would be a false one so long as
the Guises ruled in the Councils of the King, and dismissed La Mothe
with a plain indication of her opinion.

Philip and the Catholics were of course overjoyed, and the Guises
soon made their heavy hands felt. And then, not many days after the
massacre, Catharine de Medici saw the mistake she had made, and tried
so far as she could to retrace her steps, by again raising hopes of
the Huguenots and redressing the balance of parties. She accordingly
sent Castelnau de la Mauvissière, a moderate man known in England, to
Walsingham for the purpose of once again bringing the Alençon match
forward. Walsingham, sick with the horrors he had lately witnessed,
bluntly told him he had no belief in their sincerity, and in a
subsequent interview with Catharine he repeated the same to her, much
to her indignation. But Walsingham carefully reported that Alençon
himself was entirely free from complicity in the massacre, which he
openly and loudly condemned, taking the side of the Huguenots and
swearing with Henry of Navarre to avenge the murdered admiral. He was
closely watched at Court, and was for long meditating an escape and
flight to England. On the 21st of September he had a private interview
with Walsingham, whom he satisfied of his good faith personally, and
on the following day he signed a letter to Elizabeth which was the
beginning of the extraordinary correspondence which continued for
years, most of which still may be found at Hatfield.[82] The body of
the letter is written by a secretary, and is full of the most fulsome
flattery of Elizabeth, of “her rare virtues and infinite perfections.”
“His affection and fidelity for her are such that there is nothing in
the world, however great or difficult it may be, that he would not
willingly do in order to render her more certain thereof;” and with
this he begs her to listen to what will be said on his behalf by the
bearer of the letter, a certain L’huillier, seigneur de Maisonfleur.
At the bottom Alençon has scrawled a postscript himself in his
ridiculously illiterate boyish French, saying, “Madame je vous supli
mescuser si sete letre nest toute escripte de ma min, et croies que
nay peu faire autrement.” Maisonfleur was a strangely chosen emissary
for such a mission. He had been a follower of the Guises and a
sergeant-carver to Catharine, and was now a Protestant and an equerry
of Alençon. It was arranged that after seeing Elizabeth, he should
return to Dover and receive Alençon, who had planned to escape and sail
for England. When Maisonfleur arrived at Court he found the Huguenot
nobles who were with the Queen had told her something of his history
and she refused to give him audience. Either for this reason or from
the Duke’s misgivings Alençon’s flight to England on this occasion
fell through, and Maisonfleur returned to London from Dover without
having seen his master. After his return he managed to obtain access
of the Queen, and gradually broke down her distrust. In a letter of
great length, dated December 1st, he wrote to his master under the
name of Lucidor, giving him an encouraging account of Elizabeth’s
attitude, and urging him to fulfil his former intention of escaping
to England. He says: “She would not use the short word you desire,
but her heart seemed to speak to me through her eyes--'Tell him to
come and to despair of nothing; if I marry any prince in the world it
will be he.’”[83] He urges Alençon that it will be useless to attempt
to bring about the match by ordinary diplomacy, and above all by the
intervention of Madame la Serpente, as he calls Catharine de Medici,
the deepest distrust prevailing of the ruling powers in France since
St. Bartholomew. The only way, he says, will be for Don Lucidor to
strike out a line independent of his relatives, to break with the
Catholics, draw to his side the Huguenots, and the German and Swiss
Protestants, come over and marry Madame L’isle (Elizabeth) and become
a great sovereign. Maisonfleur, in a postscript which he showed to
Burleigh, laid down full instructions for Alençon’s escape and urged
him to bring Navarre and Condé with him, but only a few attendants,
amongst whom should be La Mole, to whom he also wrote begging him to
urge his master to escape.

A few days before this letter was written Castelnau de la Mauvissière
arrived in London with great ostentation, as a special ambassador from
the King of France. He was a _persona grata_ with Elizabeth, and his
task on this occasion was to smooth down the distrust and asperity
caused by the St. Bartholomew and thus to induce her to refrain from
actively helping the Huguenots in France. Stern Rochelle, Protestant
to the backbone, was still held firmly against the Catholics, Guienne,
Languedoc and Gascony, where the reformers were strongest, had now
recovered the panic of St. Bartholomew and were arming for the fray;
Portsmouth, Plymouth, and the eastern ports of England were swarming
with shipping, being fitted out for Rochelle and the Netherlands;
privateers in the interest of Orange held command of the North Sea,
and emissaries were going backwards and forwards between England and
Germany to plan concerted action for the defence of Protestantism the
world over. Henry of Navarre, Condé, and Alençon were looked upon by
the Catholics in France with daily growing suspicion, whilst Montgomeri
and the Vidame de Chartres, at the Court of Elizabeth, were unceasing
in their vigilance to pledge the young princes ever deeper to the cause
of England and the Protestants. Castelnau’s task was therefore not
an easy one, and was only partially successful. Elizabeth consented
to stand sponsor to Charles IX.’s infant daughter, and the personal
relations between the sovereigns became somewhat less strained, but
not for a moment did Elizabeth’s ministers slacken in their aid to
beleaguered Rochelle and the stubborn Dutchmen in the North. Anjou
was at the head of the Catholic army before Rochelle and his brother
Alençon, much against his will, was forced to accompany him. Over and
over again he planned to escape to Montgomeri’s fleet outside, and
prayed his mother to place him in command of the King’s ships. But
the Catholics well knew they dared not trust him, and he was never
allowed out of sight. Month after month Anjou cast his men fruitlessly
against the impregnable walls of Rochelle; well supplied with stores
from England by Montgomeri’s fleet, the townspeople bade defiance
to the Catholics, and the reformers through the rest of France were
rendered the more confident thereby. It was clear to Catharine and
her son that Protestantism had not been extinguished in the blood of
St. Bartholomew, and they began to think it time to make terms with
an enemy they saw they could not crush. On the 7th of March, 1573,
therefore, La Mothe Fénélon saw Elizabeth and assured her that “his
King would most faithfully continue in the league and confederation
which he had sworn to her, and would strictly uphold it without
departing therefrom for any reason in the world.” He begged her to
lay aside her distrust of him, and then again broached the subject of
her marriage with Alençon. The King and Queen-mother, he said, would
never trouble her with the matter again if she would only let them
know her pleasure now. They reminded her that she had said that she
would be obliged to marry for the sake of her subjects, and that the
only question at issue was that of religion. Although Alençon was a
purely Catholic prince, and she would be the first person to reject
him as unworthy if he changed his religion out of the mere ambition to
marry her, yet he would be content to perform his religious exercises
behind closed doors, guarded by one of her own ushers.[84] The Queen
thought these approaches afforded her a good opportunity for striking
a bargain in favour of Protestantism, and said she would proceed no
further in the matter of the marriage unless fair terms were given to
the Huguenots and peace made at Rochelle. There was nothing Catharine
desired more. Anjou was heartily sick of his unsuccessful siege.
The heroic Rochellais ostentatiously feasted out of their meagre
store, and danced round the maypole on May-day, under his very eyes.
Montogomeri’s swift smacks threaded their way safely through the
King’s blockading fleet outside, and it was seen that the starving,
plague-stricken, and disheartened besiegers were in far worse case
than the heroic besieged. The elective crown of Poland, moreover, was
already within Anjou’s grasp, and both he and his mother were only
too glad to end a bad business by granting to the Protestants some of
the terms they demanded. The draft treaty was signed by Anjou on the
25th of June and ratified a fortnight later by the King. A general
amnesty was granted, full religious liberty was accorded in the towns
of Rochelle, Montauban, and Nismes, and private household worship
elsewhere in France. Anjou was then elected to the throne of Poland,
which he changed for that of France a year later (May 24, 1574) and
thenceforward disappears as one of the possible suitors for Elizabeth’s
hand.



[Illustration]

CHAPTER VII

  Revival of the Alençon match--Dr. Dale’s interview with Catharine
      de Medici--Alençon’s letters to Elizabeth--Illness and
      death of Charles IX.--Imprisonment of Alençon--Huguenot plots
      and execution of La Mole and Coconas--Alençon kept in durance
      and the marriage negotiations discontinued.


Dr. Valentine Dale had replaced Walsingham as English ambassador in
France, and soon after the signing of the peace of Rochelle, he and
his temporary colleague, Edmund Horsey, were summoned by Catharine
and asked whether their mistress was willing to carry through the
Alençon match, now that her condition with regard to peace had been
fulfilled. Dale replied that if it were announced that peace had been
effected through Alençon’s intervention their Queen would be willing
to proceed in the matter. This was accepted, and it was arranged
that, as the Queen of England intended to stay a week at Dover in the
ensuing month of August, an opportunity for a meeting between her and
the Prince might be found. The Queen-mother told Dale that Alençon had
grown greatly during his absence at Rochelle, “and that his beard had
grown, which helps much his imperfections.”[85] He had good hopes, too,
that the young Prince would openly become a Protestant. When August
came, however, Catharine began to cry off, and Dale thought she would
not let her son come unless “some further word of comfort be given,”
thinking of the “_honte_” if the affair fell through after all. As for
the Prince, he was not only ready but eager to make the journey, and
managed to convey as much to Dale, who thus describes him on August
2nd: “His pock-holes are thick but not great, as are seen in some men
whose faces are little disfigured with them, if the visage and colour
are otherwise liked. He was bashful and blushing at parting. His speech
is not so fast as his brother’s, and he seems more advised. He is of
'statura mediocre.’”[86]

A few days after this Catharine sent Cavalcanti to see Dale and sound
him about Elizabeth’s present sincerity. He talked about the “_honte_”
to them all if the Duke went to England and nothing came of it, and
hinted that he, Cavalcanti, or a greater personage might first be
sent to the English Court to “learn the Queen’s mind.” Dale prudently
counselled Cavalcanti not to deal alone in the matter, but to have
some other pair of shoulders to bear part of the responsibility if
the affair fell through. This was not very encouraging, and two days
afterwards Alençon providentially fell ill of fever. This was at once
seized upon as the excuse for his not meeting the Queen; and Gondi,
Count de Retz, was sent to England in the last week of August to see
Elizabeth at Dover and explain the reason for Alençon’s absence. He
took letters from the King, Catharine, and Alençon, and was to obtain,
if possible, some assurance from the Queen. He accompanied her as
far on her journey to London as Canterbury, and there took his leave
with many loving but vague messages. By him Elizabeth wrote to Alençon
(September 15th) thanking him for the visit he intends making her, and
saying she considers herself fortunate that the sea cannot restrain
his desire to see her. Besides the formal letter he had sent by Retz,
Alençon had written another in much warmer terms. “He had been,”
he says, “twice near his last sigh, but is now, thank God, better,
although still with continual fever. He is told that there are some in
France who, _par finese, cotele, ou ruze_, wish to bring about that
she shall love him no longer. He begs her not to believe them, for
if such should be the case he should die,” and he sends her a ring
as a love token. This was a fair beginning of a romance between a
“feather-headed” prince of eighteen and the clever Queen of forty, and
for a time all looked prosperous again. Retz’s report was favourable,
and Catharine was more inclined to let her son go. Dale saw the Prince,
and wrote to Burleigh in October that he had “shot up” much since his
sickness, and that his “colour was amended of the ruddiness it had”;
but, he adds, “as for the rest, the liking or misliking is in the hands
of God.”

Elizabeth had vigilant agents who kept her informed of the progress
of events in France, and it was soon seen that great changes were
impending there, for which it behoved her to move with caution. Charles
IX., although only twenty-four, was in declining health. The Huguenots
were clamorously discontented with the terms granted at Rochelle, and
were demanding further concessions; and above all the “politicians,”
or moderates, under the Montmorencis, were joining the Huguenots, and
the combined parties were much stronger than the Guises and Catholics.
Elizabeth therefore began to talk about the unfortunate pock-marks in
Alençon’s face again. It appears that Retz had raised some difficulty
about Alençon’s visit, and Elizabeth affected to believe that the real
reason was a fear that the pock-marks were too deep, and she would
dislike him if he came. She therefore sent Thomas Randolph, late in
October, to see and report closely on his appearance, and to compare it
with a portrait of the Prince that had been sent to her. If he found
the marks very bad, he was confidentially to tell Retz that there were
several obstacles to the match, which was unpopular in England, and
so put off the matter. He was also to study how the impending changes
and Anjou’s absence in Poland would affect Alençon. Anjou had delayed
his departure until the sick king grew suspicious and insisted upon
his going. Catharine went with him to the French frontier, and as she
dared not lose sight of Navarre and Alençon, she took them with her.
Whilst the party were in Picardy, a few miles only from the English
coast, the Huguenot agents were busy planning the escape of the two
younger princes to England, from whence they might rally the Protestant
forces and work their will in France. As soon as Alençon took leave
of his brother, the new King of Poland, he sent one of his _valets de
chambre_ to Elizabeth with a loving letter dated early in November, to
communicate with her the details of his proposed flight. Maisonfleur
also, who had now quite gained the Queen’s good graces, wrote, urging
his master most emphatically not to fail this time. If, he says, you
do not hasten to come this time, the Queen will have some reason to
believe that all your past delays, and all the fine words you have
written to her have only been so many deceptions practised upon her by
the advice of Madame la Serpente, in order to draw out matters and keep
them in hand for some design which nobody understands. “What will you
say to that, Lucidor? You are summoned, you are entreated to hasten
your coming. O! Lucidor, the most fortunate prince in the world, if
only he know how to take advantage of his fortune.”[87] Once more the
plan of escape fell through, divulged this time by the faithless Valois
wife of Henry of Navarre, and Catharine took good care thenceforward
that neither her son nor her son-in-law should give her the slip.

The position was a somewhat curious one. The King and his mother were
quite as anxious to bring about the marriage as were Alençon and the
Huguenots, yet each party tried to frustrate the other’s efforts to
that end. In fact, unless the marriage were effected on such terms as
would enable the King to get rid of his turbulent brother and protect
him in future from Huguenot aggression in France, it would have been
worse than useless to him; whilst, on the other hand, it would have
been equally useless to the Protestant party if it were effected on
such conditions. When, therefore, La Mothe Fénélon, on Randolph’s
return from Picardy with a fairly favourable report, submitted the
final terms for the match on the King’s behalf, Elizabeth fenced and
prevaricated again. The Duke should come to England incognito and
not publicly. She refused to fix a date for the visit. She alleged
that the Protestants at La Rochelle were being treated treacherously;
and, in her usual fashion, thus again involved the matter in clouds of
uncertainty. Her reason for this was not far to seek. She knew, as we
know now, that a vast Protestant conspiracy enveloped France from one
end to the other, strong enough to overwhelm the Guises and seize the
Government. The absence of the figurehead Alençon in England at such
a time would have been unfavourable to the Huguenot cause, unless he
had gone thither under Huguenot auspices, and was ready to sail from
there at any moment to lead the great revolt. Catharine had taken him
and Navarre to St. Germain with her, and it had been arranged that
the general movement was to be preceded by the forcible rescue of the
princes by a body of chosen horsemen under an officer named Guitry.
But the intention was betrayed in time to frustrate it, panic seized
the courtiers, La Mole, Alençon’s chosen friend, lost his head, and
told the whole story to Navarre’s wife Margaret, who divulged it to her
mother. Flight to Catholic Paris was the only course for Catharine and
the sick King, and thither they fled during the night, the Queen-mother
taking with her in her own carriage both Alençon and Navarre.[88] Both
the princes were kept prisoners for the next month or so, but the
faithful La Mole and the Count de Coconas were busy the while planning
their escape. Elizabeth had given a safe conduct, all was ready and
the horses waiting on the 18th of April, but Catharine was on the
alert and once more stopped the princes. La Mole and Coconas were
seized with an Italian magician, and charged, amongst other things,
with causing the illness of the King by witchcraft. Young La Mole was
subjected to the most inhuman torture, his legs crushed by the boot,
his flesh seared with fire, but the poor lad could only cry out in pity
for himself, and declare that he had plotted nothing but his master’s
flight. Coconas and others, who were probably deeper in the secret
intentions of the Huguenots, made more incriminating admissions,[89]
and Catharine grasped the nettle firmly. Marshals Montmorenci and De
Cossé, the leaders of the “politicians,” were imprisoned, and armies
were sent to crush the various Huguenot risings in the South--an
easy task now that all the leaders were under lock and key. Elizabeth
did not forget young La Mole in his trouble, and Dr. Dale besought
his life as a favour to his Queen. But Catharine refused coldly,
and referred to the Duke of Norfolk’s execution as a similar case.
Elizabeth afterwards made a grievance of it against Catharine, who, she
said, had promised Dale to spare La Mole’s life. The King certainly
had promised Alençon to do so. The Duke was beside himself with sorrow
and rage. He alternately stormed and implored, cast himself at his
mother’s feet in an agony of tears; and at last the King promised him
the life of his friend. But suddenly, and without notice, La Mole and
Coconas were beheaded on the 30th of April. Then Alençon fell seriously
ill of excitement and fear for his own life. Elizabeth evidently was
also apprehensive, both as to the fate of her youthful suitor and the
immediate future of the Protestant cause. She therefore sent, early in
May, Thomas Leighton, Governor of Guernsey, to France, ostensibly to
reassure the King with regard to an anticipated Huguenot descent upon
Normandy from that island, but really to advise Catharine “to avoid
violent counsels, and especially in the division of the two brothers,”
and to beg Charles IX., in Elizabeth’s name, not to be hard upon
Alençon.

The King was dying by this time, and could not receive Leighton for
several days. On the 15th of May, although too ill to stand, he saw
the envoy, and in reply to his message affected to be surprised at the
rumours that he and his brother were bad friends. They were on the best
of terms, he said; and when Leighton asked whether he might see the
Duke, he replied: “Oui Jesus!” as one would say, why of course you can.
But Alençon well knew the falseness behind it all, and was afraid to
say anything; so Leighton got no confirmation from him. He afterwards
saw the Queen-mother, who was somewhat indignant at Elizabeth’s
meddling in her family quarrels, and retorted, sarcastically, that as
“she was so careful of Alençon, it was an undoubted argument and good
augury of some good effect to follow of the former matters that had
been moved.”[90] The result of Leighton’s remonstrances, however, was
that Alençon and Navarre were “allowed to go abroad for supper for
countenance sake.”

When Leighton took leave of the King at the end of May Charles was
sinking, and Alençon was in daily fear of poison and the Bastille from
the Guises and their friends. Charles IX. finally expired on the 30th
of May, and almost before the breath was out of his body his mother,
without any authority other than an alleged dying order of the King,
seized the regency, placed Navarre and Alençon under strict guard in
rooms with grated windows, “where none dared speak with them.” To all
of Dale’s remonstrances she gave smooth answers, and “took Alençon
about with her as a show, “but she never relaxed her hold upon him
and Navarre for one moment. When her son himself asked why she was
keeping him prisoner, she told him she must hold him fast until his
brother Henry came from Poland. She was no doubt right in doing so,
for the Huguenots were suspiciously busy, and Catharine almost came to
words with Leighton about the plots of some of his suite. During the
interview she had with him she pointed out how she had always desired
to be friendly with his mistress, and had offered her the hand of each
one of her sons in turn. Alençon entered the room at the moment, and
his mother turned to Leighton and said, “Here is another one whom I
would willingly give to her.” The Duke, who had been taught his lesson,
protested his fidelity to the new King, his brother, and when he took
leave Leighton whispered some words in the Duke’s ear which Catharine
was curious to learn, and asked her son what Leighton had said. “He
told me,” replied Alençon, “that Queen Elizabeth had nothing that was
not at my service.”[91]

Lord North was sent by Elizabeth to congratulate the new King, and was
present at a grand ball in his honour at Lyons. He sat next to the
Queen-mother, and watched Alençon and his frail and beautiful sister
Margaret dancing together. North’s eyes were all for the lovely Queen
of Navarre, but Catharine directed his attention to her brother. “'He
is not so ugly nor so ill-favoured as they say, do you think so?’ she
asked. North of course agreed with her, when she replied, 'It is from
no fault on our part that the marriage with your mistress has not
taken place.’”[92] When Lord North took leave of Alençon in November
the prince was careful not to mention love matters, but only spoke of
“service” and “duty,” but, says Dale, he wrung him by the arm, the old
token between them, as one that would say “_et cupio et timeo_.”[93]
North, however, went home with the fixed idea that Catharine was making
fun of his mistress. He thought her praises of Elizabeth’s beauty
were suspiciously overdone, and told his Queen so. She of course was
furious; and when La Mothe Fénélon, instructed by the Queen-mother,
once more advanced the marriage negotiations, he found the Queen on
her dignity, and advised Catharine to discontinue the matter for the
present.

[Illustration]



[Illustration]

CHAPTER VIII.

  Henry III. King of France--Escape of Alençon--Rising of the
      Huguenots--Revival of the marriage negotiations--Suggested
      marriage of Queen Elizabeth and Don John of Austria--Efforts
      of Henry III. and Catharine to provide for Alençon abroad--
      Alençon’s negotiations with the Flemings--Flight of Alençon
      from Paris--Elizabeth’s distrust of French interference in
      Flanders--Her negotiations with Alençon on the subject--De
      Bacqueville and De Quincy’s mission to England--L’Aubespine
      and Rambouillet sent by the King--Spanish fears of the
      Alençon match--Alençon enters Flanders and clamours for
      English aid.


For the first year after the new King’s arrival in France, he and his
brother seemed to hold rival Courts. The King’s, perhaps, was the
more horribly and shamelessly licentious, but both were filled with
quarrelsome, dissolute, and utterly unscrupulous young men, who gloried
in their vices. Those who surrounded the King were mostly Catholics,
whilst Alençon’s courtiers were oftener Huguenots and moderates.
Between the two Courts quarrels, duels, and secret murders were
incessant, and a fresh civil war was the inevitable outcome of such a
rivalry.

At last matters came to a crisis, and Alençon, on the evening of
September 15, 1575, walked out of the Louvre with his face covered, and
accompanied only by a single attendant. Outside, in a quiet spot near
the Porte Ste. Honoré, his faithful courtier, Jehan Simier, of whom
more anon, was waiting with a fair lady’s carriage into which Alençon
mounted, and was carried as fast as the horses could gallop to where a
body of three hundred horsemen were ready to serve as his escort. They
got two hours’ start before the King learnt of his brother’s flight,
and orders were given in rage and panic to bring him back at any cost.
But Alençon was the heir to the crown, and the courtiers did not care
to risk his future displeasure by too much zeal, and he reached Dreux
unharmed. There he issued his proclamation, demanding reform of abuses
but taking care not to identify himself too closely with the Huguenot
cause.

From town to town through Central France the Queen-mother followed her
flying son, but he always escaped her. At last she had the boldness
to appeal for aid to the _moderates_, and released their chief,
Montmorenci, from the Bastille for the purpose of influencing Alençon.
By this time the Huguenots were in arms everywhere. Wilkes, the clerk
of Elizabeth’s Council, was sent to Condé and Montmorenci’s son, Meru,
at Strasburg, with a large sum of money, and thence across the Rhine
to raise, through Duke Casimir, “one of the finest armies that for
twenty years has issued from Germany” to enable Alençon to hold his
own against Henry III. and the Guises. But before reinforcements could
reach him Marshal Montmorenci had induced him to patch up a six months’
truce with his brother at the end of November, and for the moment the
danger of civil war was averted. But Henry III. found, as his brother
Charles had found before him, that France was not large enough to
hold both him and Alençon. The latter must be got rid of somehow. The
Duke himself said that an attempt was made to poison him, but in any
case his mother suggested to him that now that Elizabeth had been so
ready to help him with money would be a good opportunity for reviving
the marriage negotiations. Alençon, nothing loath, sent one of his
friends, named La Porte, with two letters of thanks to Elizabeth dated
at Montreuil on November 28, 1575.[94] They contain no word about
marriage, but La Porte was instructed to co-operate with Castelnau de
la Mauvissière, who was now the ambassador in England, in bringing it
forward. Elizabeth insisted, however, as a preliminary, that a complete
reconciliation should take place between the brothers and peace made
with the Huguenots before she would again entertain the matter. The
best way, said Catharine to Dale, to bring that about is for your
mistress to desist from helping the rebels; and again the negotiations
were shelved. Elizabeth’s new coolness is easily explained. Convinced,
probably, of the inutility of an alliance with France in its present
divided and unstable condition, she was for the moment actively
engaged in making friends with Spain. Granvelle’s brother Champigny,
who had come from Flanders as an envoy from Philip’s governor of the
Netherlands to treat for a resumption of friendly relations, had been
received with effusive civility. Philip’s fleet, under Pedro de Valdes,
had been hospitably entertained at Plymouth, and Corbet had been sent
to Flanders to arrange a commercial treaty between England and the
Spanish States. Elizabeth had, moreover hastily recalled the English
levies serving with Orange, although but few obeyed the call; and
finally she had despatched young Henry Cobham as an envoy to Philip
himself, in order to smooth matters over between them. In Philip’s
notes of his interview with Cobham,[95] he says that the latter told
him that Elizabeth had seen a letter from the King of France to the
Prince of Orange, “making him many fine promises”; and then he said
something about a marriage which I did not very well understand.” We
shall probably not be far out if we guess that Cobham’s vague hint
about marriage, which was so lost upon Philip, was not altogether
unconnected with certain approaches which at the same time were made on
Elizabeth’s behalf to Don John of Austria, Philip’s natural brother,
the heroic young victor of Lepanto, who at that very time was dreaming
of a marriage with the captive Queen of Scots. Don John, writing to his
brother, says: “She (Elizabeth) has sent an agent to me, who has hinted
at a marriage. I am, in my replies, putting the matter aside, but I beg
your Majesty to tell me if I am to follow it up. Although I may be led
thus to restore a Queen and her realm to the true faith, I would not
for all the world make a dishonourable choice. I blush whilst I write
this to think of accepting advances from a woman whose life and example
furnish so much food for gossip.”[96] Philip told his brother that such
an approach should not be neglected; but events marched quickly, and
before anything could come of it another turn of the kaleidoscope made
it impossible.

Alençon’s six months’ truce had not stopped Duke Casimir’s mercenaries
with Condé from crossing the frontier. Navarre, too, had escaped from
the Court, and had assumed the leadership of the Huguenots; and then
Henry III., sorely against his will, was forced to let his mother
make the best terms she could with the insurgents and their allies.
Alençon was bought over with 100,000 livres and the rich duchies of
Berri Touraine and Anjou; Casimir got 300,000 crowns, a pension of
40,000 livres a year and rich estates in France; Condé was promised
the governorship of Picardy; the Chatillons, Montgomeri, and even
poor dead La Mole and Coconas were rehabilitated, the crown jewels
were pawned to pay the German troops, and so at last peace was made.
But still the necessity for getting Alençon out of the way existed;
and, in despair of Elizabeth, active negotiations were opened for him
to marry elsewhere. Catharine of Navarre, a princess of Cleves, and
a daughter of the Palatine were all mentioned, but the most tempting
and diplomatic project was to marry him to Philip’s eldest daughter
and give him the government of the Spanish Netherlands. This would
have drawn his claws indeed. The Walloons and Catholic Flemings also
approached him with similar suggestions, and Alençon deserted the
Protestant cause entirely, and became suddenly a devout Catholic. He
even accepted the command of a force against the Huguenots, upon whom
he was implacable in his severity.[97]

This change of front frightened Elizabeth, who feared that if the
Protestants in the Netherlands were conquered her turn would come
next, and she once more held out the bait of marriage. She expressed
sorrow to Castelnau that the Duke had ceased to write to her and had
forgotten her. But this time the fish failed to rise, and for the
next three years Alençon remained ostentatiously Catholic, sometimes
in arms against Huguenot resistance, sometimes at Court with his
brother, with whom he was nominally on good terms. But the personal
hatred and jealousy between them continued still, and the duels and
murders between their respective courtiers went on as before. The
Duke’s turbulent and discontented friends openly scoffed at the painted
mignons who surrounded the King, and if they resented the insult, Bussy
d’Amboise, the first swordsman in France, was ready to fight any number
of them.

At length, at the beginning of 1578, Bussy d’Amboise was waylaid in
Paris and nearly murdered by some of the King’s courtiers, and had
to seek safety in absence from the Court. Then several other of the
Duke’s friends were bought over by favours to the King’s side, and the
mignons, emboldened by his isolation, went to the length of sneering at
Alençon himself. This was at a ball at the palace of the Montmorencis
to which Catharine had forced her son to go against his will; and
fearing that this demonstration of the mignons portended the Bastille
or poison for himself, the Duke lost patience, and demanded permission
to withdraw himself from Court for a time. The only answer vouchsafed
was the rigid searching of his apartments by the Scots guard at
midnight, in the presence of the King himself, with every circumstance
of contumely. The Duke was arrested, all his papers were seized, and
the principal friends who remained with him were cast into the Bastille.

It must be confessed that, given Alençon’s turbulent character, there
were circumstances which fully justified the suspicions of Henry III.
against his brother. The “Spanish fury” in Antwerp in 1576 had turned
even the Walloons and Catholic Flemings against Philip’s rule, and
they had made common cause with Orange’s Protestants in the North. It
was seen then that all the arms of Spain would be powerless to subdue
them; and, hardly pressed as Philip was, he was forced to send his
brother Don John on a mission of pacification at all costs. But Don
John was a soldier, and it cut him to the heart, as he said, to bend
the knee and make terms “with these drunken wineskins of Flemings”; so
after swearing the perpetual edict of pacification, he resented the
continued exigencies of the States, treacherously seized the citadel of
Namur, summoned troops from Italy and elsewhere, and bade the “rebels”
do their worst. In order to sow dissension between the two branches
of the house of Austria, the Walloon nobles had brought to Flanders
as their governor the young Archduke Mathias as an avowed rival of
the Protestant Orange. He was a poor creature, but the great Taciturn
patriotically persuaded his followers to recognise him as their
chief, he, Orange, being his lieutenant. This, after some turmoil and
bloodshed, they did, and it was in his name that the hastily gathered
levies of the States went out to attack Don John who had betrayed them.
The victor of Lepanto with his few veterans met them on the last day
of January, 1578, and completely defeated them, and the insurgent
Flemings once more were at the mercy of the cruel Spanish soldiery,
who were speeding back again from Italy eager to shed the blood again
of the brave burghers who only a few months before had insisted upon
their withdrawal. Mathias was a broken reed--he had no money, no
followers, no influence, and no prestige, so the Flemings were fain to
look elsewhere for help. Elizabeth had aided the Protestant Hollanders
bravely, but the Catholic Flemings did not wish to be merged in and
governed by the Dutch States, and had to seek help from a Catholic
prince. Conciliation they had tried, and they had been betrayed. A
prince of the house of Austria had been chosen, and had turned out
useless. Where, then, could they look but to a prince of France,
unfettered by Spanish sympathies? So Alençon was approached, and
expressed his willingness to raise his friends, the moderate Catholics
and the Huguenots to aid the Flemings in their resistance. This, of
course, was known to Catharine and Henry III., and as such an action
on the part of Alençon might have involved France in a war with Spain,
there was no doubt good ground for the Duke’s belief that his brother
intended to put him out of harm’s way by quietly shutting him up in
the Bastille to keep company with his faithful friends who were there
already.

Bussy d’Amboise had not been idle outside in the meanwhile. He had
sent the fiery cross through the provinces, and men-at-arms and nobles
were flocking to the Flemish frontier to join the standard of Alençon
when it should be raised. The gates of Paris, it is true, were closely
guarded, and Alençon himself, with his sister Margaret (who herself
tells the story so racily), were not allowed out of the sight of the
Scottish archers. But the Court was full of nobles who were disgusted
with the King’s mode of life, and plans were rife to rescue the
captive. Bussy crept back into Paris to plan an escape with Simier,
but both were captured and laid by the heels. Then Catharine managed
somehow to patch up a reconciliation. Bussy was made to kiss his
principal antagonist Quélus in the presence of the whole Court, which
he did in so exaggerated a fashion as to make every one laugh, and left
Quélus more enraged than ever. The prison doors were opened, the guards
removed, and the partisans of both brothers swore eternal friendship.
But the mignons saw the wound was rankling, and told the King so the
same night. The guards were again ordered to watch Alençon’s door, and
after three days of semi-imprisonment, on the 14th of February, his
sister contrived his escape with Simier, from her chamber on the second
floor of the Louvre, by a rope into the moat. Bussy was awaiting him
in the abbey of St. Généviève, where, by connivance of the abbot, a
hole had been knocked in the city wall, through which they escaped, and
swift horses carried them to Angers, where they were safe.[98]

All France was in a turmoil. Huguenots and “malcontents” raised their
heads once more, and all the South was up in arms. Catharine, who
was never to rest, sped after her fugitive son, and with tears and
entreaties besought him to return, but without avail. Henry III.
pretended to put a good face upon it, and told the Spanish ambassador
Mendoza, on his way to England a few days afterwards, that his brother
was still obedient and would do nothing against Flanders. But all
the world knew better, and an entirely new complicating element had
entered into European politics, of which it was difficult for the
moment to guess the ultimate effect. How disturbing an element it was
to Elizabeth may be seen by a minute in Burleigh’s handwriting,[99]
putting the case from every point of view. Envoys were sent from
England both to the States and to Don John to urge them to come to
a peaceful arrangement without French interference. The States were
to be reminded how much England had done for them, and the danger
incurred by allowing the French to enter, as, being poor, they (the
French) would seek to reimburse themselves by making themselves
masters of the country, or otherwise would end in turning to the side
of Don John and the Spaniards. In either of these cases the English
would have to oppose them, and the only terms upon which Elizabeth
would allow the French to be employed were that an equal number of
Englishmen should enter with them. Don John, on the other hand, was to
be alarmed by the idea that Alençon’s entrance would only be a cloak
for a French national invasion of Flanders, and that Elizabeth would be
forced to aid the States to repel it. In fact, if Alençon’s adventure
was secretly under his brother’s patronage, it would have been as
disastrous for England as for Spain, whilst, if affairs could so be
guided that Alençon might depend upon English patronage and money for
his expedition, Elizabeth’s ends would be well served. For the next
few years, therefore, the aim of English diplomacy was to capture
Alençon for English interests and embroil him with his brother, whilst
at the same time avoiding an open rupture with Spain. Alençon knew,
as Elizabeth did not, that he would get no aid, secret or overt, from
his brother, so he lost no time in protesting to the English Queen
his “undying affection for her” in a letter written from the town of
Alençon in May, 1578, and to this an encouraging reply was sent. In
vain his brother and mother threatened and cajoled. Dukedoms, money,
marriage-alliances were offered him in vain. On the 7th of July he
crossed the frontier at the request of the States and threw himself
into Mons for the purpose, as he declared, of “helping this oppressed
people, and humiliating the pride of Spain.” Two days before this
he had despatched one of his wisest friends--his chamberlain, de
Bacqueville--to Elizabeth, to assure her again of his entire devotion
to her, to explain his entry into Flanders, to beg for her guidance and
counsel, and renew his offer of marriage. But Elizabeth distrusted the
French, and half thought Alençon’s move was only a cloak for a Catholic
invasion of England from France and Spain combined; so she could run
no risks, and at once subsidised a mercenary German army of 20,000
men, under the Duke Hans Casimir, to be ready to cross the Flemish
frontier when necessary in her interest, whilst she still actively
continued her efforts to bring about a fresh agreement on the basis
of the pacification of Ghent between Don John and the States. Under
no circumstances, she repeated again and again to all parties, would
she allow the French to become paramount in Flanders, and she swore
violently to Mendoza, “three times by God that if Don John did not
re-enact the perpetual edict of peace, she would help the States whilst
she had a man left in England.”[100]

English auxiliaries were allowed to slip over to the States by the
thousand with arms and money; and the Duke of Arschot’s brother, the
Marquis d’Havrey, who came from the Walloons to beg for aid, was made
clearly to understand that for every Frenchman in Flanders there must
be an Englishman. The States desired nothing better; it meant double
help for them, and they were ready to promise anything for men and
money. When de Bacqueville first arrived in England Elizabeth was
still uncertain as to whether Henry III. was helping his brother,
and she kept the envoy at arm’s length for awhile, Sussex being the
intermediary between them; but when Walsingham and Cobham returned from
an unsuccessful mission of peace in Flanders, and her own agents in
France had assured her that Alençon was really acting in despite of his
brother, her attitude towards her young suitor completely changed. De
Bacqueville had succeeded in impressing honest Sussex with his master’s
sincerity, and the desirability of the match. Alençon, he said, was
determined to marry “either the Queen or the Netherlands”; and if she
would not listen to his suit, he would join hands with Don John and the
Spaniards. Late in July Alençon sent another agent, named de Quincy, to
England, to again assure the Queen that “he would be directed by her in
all his actions in the Low Countries”; and Sussex, who was again the
intermediary, laid before the Queen strong arguments in favour of her
marriage.[101]

At length Elizabeth felt assured. Hans Casimir had entered Flanders
with a strong force of mercenary Germans; Don John was chafing in
Namur, frantic with despair and disappointment, his heartbroken cries
for help all unheeded by cold-blooded Philip and false Perez; Alençon
depended entirely upon England; the Flemings, Catholics and Protestants
alike, having found the Archduke Mathias a broken reed, could only look
to Elizabeth and Alençon for rescue from their troubles. So, the game
being now entirely in her own hands, the Queen could once more enter
with full zest into the long-neglected marriage negotiations. She was
on a progress through the eastern counties, and received de Bacqueville
and de Quincy at Long Melford. Extraordinary efforts were made to show
them special honour, and Mendoza in one of his letters[102] gives a
curious instance of this, and of Elizabeth’s treatment of even her most
distinguished ministers. At a banquet given by her to Alençon’s envoys,
she took it into her head that there ought to have been more plate on
the sideboard to impress the Frenchmen. Angrily calling Sussex, as Lord
Steward, she asked him why there was so little silver. He replied that
he had accompanied the sovereigns of England on their progresses for
many years past, and he had never seen so much plate carried before as
she was carrying; whereupon she flew into a rage, told him to hold his
tongue, called him a great rogue, and said that the more she did for
people like him the worse they became. This was bad enough before the
envoys and the Frenchmen; but it was not all, for Elizabeth turned to
Lord North, a friend of Leicester’s of course, and asked his opinion.
He, courtier-like, agreed that there was very little silver, and threw
the blame on Sussex. The latter waited for him outside and called him a
knave and threatened to thrash him; Leicester intervened, and the whole
Court was set by the ears, whereupon the Spanish ambassador chuckles to
think how easy “they may all be brought to discord.” In fact, no sooner
did the marriage negotiations assume a serious aspect than Leicester
and his friends secretly thwarted them. The young Earl of Oxford,
for instance, was a very graceful dancer, and was twice sent for by
the Queen to show off his agility before Alençon’s envoys, but he
absolutely refused, of course at Leicester’s prompting, to contribute
to the pleasure or amusement of Frenchmen. After all the feasting and
cajolery of de Bacqueville and de Quincy they got but little solid
satisfaction from the Queen. She told them that it was entirely their
master’s fault that the negotiations had been dropped for two years.
She herself could give no other answer than that which she had given so
often before. She could not marry any prince without seeing him, and if
Alençon was going to take offence in case, after seeing him, she did
not accept him, he had better not come; if, on the other hand, he was
in earnest, and would remain friendly in any case, he could come on
a simple visit with but few followers. Cecil, at all events, did not
believe in the Queen’s sincerity at this time, for he said that if he
were in de Bacqueville’s place he would not bring his master over on
such a message. With the message, such as it was, de Quincy went back
to his master at Antwerp at the end of August, but the loan of 300,000
crowns for which de Bacqueville had entreated was not forthcoming, at
all events without good security. Bussy d’Amboise soon after came to
England with a similar errand, but with no better result. The Queen’s
first condition of the marriage was the retirement of Alençon from
the Netherlands. Nor was pressure wanting from other quarters to the
same effect. The Pope, through his Nuncio, offered the young prince a
great pension if he would retire, his brother alternately threatened
and cajoled, Catharine de Medici held out the bait of a marriage with
one of the infantas, and Alençon himself was already disappointed at
the failure of the States to fulfil their promises to him and place
some strong places in his hands. In fact, the French prince was looked
upon by the northern Dutchmen as coldly as Mathias had been, and if
he could bring neither the national support of England or France he
would be as useless as the Austrian had been. And so everything hung
on the caprice of Elizabeth. It was still desirable for the King of
France, if possible, to marry his brother in England, and especially
if, at the same time, he could secure an alliance between the two
countries. The principal point he had to avoid was being driven into
an attitude of antagonism to Spain whilst England remained unpledged
and Alençon unwed; and these were the very objects towards which
Elizabeth’s personal policy tended. Whilst de Bacqueville was in
England in the autumn of 1578, two of the French king’s principal
advisers were sent to forward the marriage negotiations. These were
Rambouillet and L’Aubespine, who were received by the Queen at Norwich,
and satisfied her that Henry III. would give her and his brother a
free hand in Flanders and every help in his power if a marriage and
alliance could be brought about, but not otherwise; and another attempt
was made to disarm the secret opposition of Leicester to the match by
suggesting to him a marriage between himself and a French princess.
These negotiations went on with varying success during the months
of September and October, 1578, and it was publicly announced that
Alençon himself would come in November. Philip never believed in the
sincerity of the Queen and constantly told his ambassador that it was
“all pastime and would end in smoke”; but Mendoza, less experienced
than his master in Elizabeth’s policy, was much perturbed at the
prospect. He had an interview with the Queen early in October about the
pacification of Flanders, and turned the conversation to the subject of
her marriage with Alençon. Mendoza asked her when it was to take place;
to which she replied that she did not know, but asked him whether he
thought she ought to marry Alençon. His answer was that, although she
as usual would act with wisdom, he knew the object of the French was
to prevent the aggrandisement of her crown and the quietude of her
country. Elizabeth at this time was herself again conceiving suspicions
of the French. Catharine de Medici and her dissolute daughter between
them, aided by their “flying squadron” of beauties, had managed to sap
the vigour and Protestant ardour of Henry of Navarre and his Court,
and Paulet sent from France shortly afterwards alarmist news that the
King of France had entered into the Papal league against England, and
had sent to engage mercenaries in Germany to enable Alençon to keep a
footing in Flanders in spite of her opposition. The news was probably
untrue, but in any case it was clear to Alençon that unless aid came
to him promptly and liberally from somewhere he must ignominiously
turn tail again and re-enter France. The country people looked upon
the Frenchmen as enemies and intruders; all stragglers were murdered
without mercy, and Alençon himself was without means even to feed
his followers. He must therefore gain Elizabeth’s support or confess
himself beaten and return to the tender mercy of his affectionate
brother, and he had to choose an envoy more persuasive than those he
had sent before. The man he selected was one who for the next three
years played a prominent and astounding part in this strange drama.

[Illustration]



[Illustration]

CHAPTER IX.

  An account of Simier--His mission to the Queen--Her strange
      relations with him--Leicester’s jealousy--Simier’s
      negotiations on behalf of Alençon--Rochetaillé’s mission--
      Leicester’s attempts to have Simier murdered--Alençon’s first
      visit to England--Elizabeth’s infatuation for him--His
      departure and letters to the Queen--Exhaustive discussion of
      the marriage negotiations by the English Council--The Queen
      announces her determination to marry Alençon--Philip Sidney’s
      remonstrance.


Jean de Simier, Alençon’s Master of the Wardrobe, and one of his
firmest friends, was a consummate courtier steeped in the dissolute
gallantry of the French Court, and, above all, a _persona grata_ of
Catharine de Medici. He arrived in London on January 5, 1579, having
gone through Paris on his way to England, and presumably can hardly
have been at the moment in a very happy frame of mind. During his
absence with Alençon his wife had been guilty of infidelity with his
young brother, and on Simier’s arrival home the intrigue was divulged
to him. He sent his men ahead to kill his brother at the gate of the
château before his arrival, and his wife died, probably of poison,
perhaps of grief, soon afterwards, and the avenged husband then
went his way and came on his mission to England. He was lodged and
entertained at the Queen’s cost, and brought with him twelve thousand
crowns’ worth of jewels to win over the courtiers to his master’s
cause. At his first interview with the Queen on the 11th of January
she was not very cordial, and said that Alençon could not have been
very eager, as Simier had tarried three months on his way since his
coming was first announced, but she soon melted under the influence
of the envoy’s dulcet words and the casket of jewels he handed her
from his master. After the interview Leicester entertained him at
supper, and the same night a grand ball was given by the Queen in his
honour, at which we are told there was an entertainment in imitation
of a tournament between six ladies and a like number of gentlemen who
surrendered to them. Young La Mole had charmed Elizabeth with his
language of French gallantry, but Simier was a much more experienced
hand at the game, and artfully made violent love to the Queen under
shelter of his master’s name. The sober ambassador, Castelnau de la
Mauvissière, even could not avoid seeing the effect upon Elizabeth, and
wrote to the Queen-mother: “This discourse rejuvenates the Queen; she
has become more beautiful and bonny than she was fifteen years ago. Not
a woman or a physician who knows her who does not hold that there is no
lady in the realm more fit for bearing children than she is.”[103]

On the 16th of January, only a few days after her first interview with
Simier, the Queen wrote a letter to Alençon, in which her delight at
his envoy is clearly indicated. She says that she is so pleased with
him that no other advocate is necessary to make his peace with her.
Alençon’s own words, she tells him, are worthy not of being written
on parchment, but graven on marble. She bids him consult his wisest
friends about coming over, but if he thinks his honour will suffer the
least thereby she would not have him come for untold gold. She assures
him of her eternal friendship. She has never, she says, broken her
word in her life, so that as constancy is rare amongst princes she is
offering no common thing. She ends by hoping that he will reach the
years of Nestor, and that all his foes may be confounded.[104]

This was a pretty good beginning, but the correspondence thereafter
daily becomes more affectionate. On the 8th of February the Queen
writes a long letter to her lover, in which she says: “Je voy clair la
constance rare résider en vostre cœur qui ne se diminue par quelque
ombre d’ingratitude, qu’est asses de preuve pour m’assurer de vostre
affection sincère.” She then goes on to point out to her _tres cher_
that her people are strongly opposed to the match, and it will be best
for Alençon and herself to settle the conditions before commissioners
are sent. The meaning of this was that Simier, to whom even thus
early she had given the punning pet name of her monkey (singe), was
trying to get better terms for his master, especially in the matter
of religion. In vain the young Prince flatters her by saying that he
should sink under his troubles but for “l’imagination de vos beautés,
et lesperance que j’ai de vos bonnes grases”; in vain he says he
will leave every other point to her sole discretion, but cannot give
up his religion, and so offend God; but Elizabeth and her advisers
were firm, and things dragged on month after month. In the meanwhile
Alençon was obliged to cross the border and re-enter France, and in
March made a voyage of semi-reconciliation to see his brother in
Paris. Simier at the same time was pressing him warmly to come over
to England at once, strike the iron whilst it was hot, and marry the
Queen offhand; but the Queen’s own letters persistently threw cold
water on this proposal, as did Castelnau, the French ambassador, who
was bitterly jealous of Simier; and Alençon, for the present contented
himself with staying at his town of Dreux awaiting her favourable
decision as to the conditions “for which hope alone he lives.” But he
was more loving than ever in his letters, and writes on the 22nd of
March: “Je garde vostre belle pinture, qui ne se separara james de
moi que par la fin de mes os. C’est ou je fes mes auresons et pase la
pluspart du tans en ladoration des divintés qui y sont. Je supplie tres
humblement vostre majesté pardonner a mes pations (_i.e._, passions)
si trop presontuheuzement je dis se qui est dans mon ame.” It is
evident that the Queen was playing with him again, but she must have
deceived many of her ministers as well, for in the Hatfield Papers
there exists a whole series of documents, mostly in Burleigh’s hand,
discussing the advantages and disadvantages of the match from every
conceivable point of view at prodigious length, at which grave State
papers doubtless her Majesty and Leicester laughed heartily in their
sleeves. The Queen told the Spanish ambassador that it “was a fine
idea for an old woman like her to talk about marriage,” and more than
hinted to him that the negotiations had only been undertaken for the
purpose of getting the French out of the Netherlands, as she did not
want them there. She assured him that nothing would be arranged about
the marriage unless Alençon came. All through March the negotiations
for Alençon’s visit continued, whilst the Puritan pulpits rang with
denunciations of the proposed popish match, and London was in a fever
of apprehension of the coming of a French King consort. At last it was
settled that the Prince should come over in April; and it was then
considered necessary to secure Leicester’s neutrality at least. He
and Hatton had very soon got jealous of the bewitching “monkey,” who
rarely left the Queen’s side now, so Castelnau, the ambassador, had to
be the intermediary. Some letters signed by the King of France, but
really concocted by Castelnau in London, were delivered to the Queen
and Leicester, saying that Alençon would come in May, and assuring
Leicester on the King’s word that the marriage should in no way injure
his honour or position. Leicester urged that Alençon should come whilst
Parliament was sitting, even though the conditions were not agreed upon
beforehand, and said he would move the House to demand the marriage.
As the match was extremely unpopular in London, this was about the
very worst advice that could be given, and was meant to be so. Whilst
the proposed conditions were being discussed with Alençon’s special
envoy, Rochetaillé, in April, and the marriage was looked upon in
London as inevitable, some persons told the Queen that papers had
been found in the late Chancellor Sir Nicholas Bacon’s office, proving
that when the affair was under discussion before, the object of the
French was only to ruin the country, kill the Queen, and place Mary
of Scotland on the throne. If Elizabeth had been in earnest she would
have taken fright at this; but she only smiled and passed it over.
Both she and Leicester, however, were now ostentatiously in favour of
the match, as also were Leicester’s enemies, with a very different
end in view. Great preparations were made at Court for the Prince’s
coming; new clothes as fine as money could buy them were brought
from far and near. Leicester himself wrote to his “cousin,” Davison,
in Flanders, to send him 4,000 crowns’ worth of crimson, black, and
coloured velvet, satin, and silk, and £400 worth of gold and silver
tissue “or such-like pretty stuffs”[105]; but Philip II. was still
incredulous, and continued to assure his ambassador that it was “a
mere invention.” During the billing and cooing personally with Simier,
and in writing with his master, an occasional cloud of distrust passed
over. Once, late in April, 1579, news came of a possible French naval
expedition to Scotland in the interest of Mary, and the dispatch of a
papal expedition from Spain to the Catholic insurgents in Ireland; and
the Queen was in a panic for a day or two and even turned her back on
Simier. On such occasions as these bribes found their way from Mendoza
to the Queen’s ministers to large amounts, to induce them to impede
the marriage; Burleigh, Sussex, Crofts, Leicester, and Hatton, all got
their share, but seem to have given very little value for it, for they
were just as heavily bribed by the French on the other side.

The new conditions demanded by Simier and Rochetaillé in the interest
of Alençon were, first his coronation immediately after marriage,
secondly the association of him with the Queen in the government, and
thirdly the granting to him of a life pension of £60,000 per annum.
These new demands had been strenuously resisted by Cecil and Sussex
and the other councillors, but at length Simier began to get restive
and threatened to leave unless a decided reply were given within two
days. Representations were being made to the Queen from all quarters,
and especially from the Spanish ambassador and his creatures as to the
danger she would incur if the match were effected, but, says Mendoza,
“she expresses to Simier such a strong desire to marry that not a
councillor, whatever his real opinion may be, dares to say a word
against it.” At length she could procrastinate no longer, and started
for a short stay at Leicester’s house at Wanstead, in the last days of
April, taking Simier and Castelnau with her for the purpose of giving
them an answer. As usual she desired to free herself from personal
blame, and ordered each member of her Council to give her his opinion
on the match in writing. This they all refused to do, and confined
themselves to stating the arguments on both sides, leaving her to draw
the conclusion. During the stay at Wanstead, almost day and night,
Sussex, Leicester, Burleigh, and Walsingham remained in conference, but
could come to no conclusion; and the Court had to return with the Queen
to London still without an answer being given. At Whitehall on the 3rd
of May, a full meeting of the Council was held to finally discuss the
conditions, and Simier was invited to be present. The second demand
of the association of Alençon with the Queen in the government and
distribution of offices was at once declared to be impossible, and was
abandoned by Simier after some demur; but the other two conditions were
insisted upon by him. Simier then retired to an adjoining room whilst
the Council discussed these points. The first councillor to speak was
the new Lord Chancellor Bromley, who set forth the danger of the match,
in admitting Frenchmen, their traditional enemies, into the country,
its unpopularity and the improbability of there being any issue, and
ended by declaring uncompromisingly against the marriage. In the end
the whole of the Council except Sussex agreed with him, and word was
privately sent to the Queen that the Council was well-nigh unanimously
unfavourable. Then Simier was called in and told that his new
demands were such as had never been made before, and were absolutely
inadmissible. The Frenchman’s suavity suddenly left him, and he flew
into a great rage, flinging out of the room before Sussex could reach
him, banged the door after him in a fury, and went straight to the
Queen, who was in the garden.[106] She professed great sorrow at her
Council’s decision, swore to Simier that she would marry in spite of
them all, assumed an appearance of settled melancholy in his presence,
and sent a loving letter to the Prince by his secretary, de Vray, who
was despatched the same night to his master with the Council’s reply.

But Alençon was not lightly put off. Rochetaillé was already on his
way back to England with handsome presents for Leicester and the rest
of them, and de Vray returned at the end of May with his master’s
answer. He would, he said, marry her on her own terms, and only timidly
stipulated that he should be allowed the private exercise of the mass
in his own apartments, concluding by announcing his approaching visit
to the Queen to press his suit in person. This was by no means welcome
news to Elizabeth, who at the time certainly had no intention of
marrying him, and who feared the visit might either force her hand or
throw upon her personally the responsibility of breaking off the match.
The Council, however, decided unanimously that the Duke should not be
affronted by a refusal to receive him, and that the Queen could not
decently draw back now without at all events seeing her suitor. So it
was settled with Simier that his master should come to England in the
middle of August, and the Queen’s ships and safe-conduct should await
him at Calais. When this was decided the Queen desired to be left alone
with Simier, and Leicester was obliged, however unwillingly, to take
Castelnau out hunting. When they returned three hours afterwards Simier
and the Queen were still together, and whilst Castelnau supped with
Leicester Simier took his evening repast at the Queen’s table.

Castelnau, writing an account of affairs to the Queen-mother,[107] says
that all was now going as smoothly as ever: “Not a day passes that she
fails to send for him (Simier). On one occasion she came in her barge
to my lodging to fetch him before he had read his despatches, and when
he was not dressed. He was obliged to come out to see her with only his
doublet on, and she took him with her. Those who are against it are
cursing him, and declare that Simier will cheat her, and has bewitched
her.” Castelnau now quite believed in the marriage. The Queen told him
she really was convinced that the Duke was seeking her for herself
alone, and not for her crown, but she feared that, however much he
might esteem her, he would only love her for a year or two. She would,
however, promise before God that if he was a good husband to her she
would be the best wife in the world.

It is probable that by this time the Queen’s feelings were really
getting the better of her judgment, and that the satisfied vanity of
having a young prince at her feet was carrying all before it. The
whole country was ringing with the strange news of her close intimacy
with Simier, who had, it was said, bewitched her with a love philtre;
and afterwards Mary Stuart, in her prison, imprudently made herself
the echo of the scandal by writing to the Queen the outrageous letter
published by Labanoff, accusing her of immorality with both Simier and
Alençon. The murmurs were industriously fostered (and paid for) by the
Spanish ambassador, who did his best to stir up trouble and make the
match unpopular. He writes to his King at the end of June: “Although
there is no binding undertaking about the marriage, the Queen gives
every sign of being most anxious for it, and affirms that she will
never marry a man whom she has not previously seen. She is burning
with impatience for his (Alençon’s) coming, although her councillors
have laid before her the difficulties which may arise, the other
side having her support, has carried the day. She herself is largely
influenced by the idea that it should be known that her talents and
beauty are so great that they have sufficed to cause him to come and
visit her without any assurance that he will be her husband.”[108]

Leicester, who knew her better than any one, was quick to see whither
she was drifting, and became violently jealous. When the time came for
signing the passport for Alençon, at the end of June, he made a fervent
appeal to the Queen not to sign it; but Simier was too strong for him,
and the passport was sent, whereupon Leicester went and sulked at
Wanstead, feigning illness, and refused to be comforted, although the
Queen herself went there secretly and stayed two days to console him.
Shortly afterwards a desperate attempt was made by one of the Queen’s
guard to assassinate Simier, and it was at once concluded, doubtless
correctly, that it had been done at the instance of Leicester and
Hatton. The Queen was in a red-hot rage, and so was Simier himself,
who determined to strike a blow at his rival, which no other had yet
dared to do. Leicester had been secretly married some time before to
the widowed Countess of Essex, the daughter of Elizabeth’s cousin, and
Vice-Chamberlain Sir Francis Knollys: it was a _secret de polichinelle_
to every one but the Queen, but no one had ventured to tell her until
Simier, choosing the propitious moment, did so. Her fury passed
all bounds of decency and decorum; she raged and swore against the
“she-wolf,” as she called her cousin, who had thus been instrumental
in wounding her vanity; but Simier was victorious, for she became more
inseparable from him than ever, and for a time kept Leicester under
lock and key in a fort in Greenwich Park. Soon afterwards another
attempt was made upon Simier’s life, this time by a shot whilst he was
on the river with the Queen. He had previously lived with Castelnau at
the French embassy, but now, in order to avoid the risk of his going
backwards and forwards daily by water, the Queen brought him to her
palace at Greenwich, and there lodged him, to the dismay and disgust of
the English courtiers.

The way seemed now clear. The King of France and his mother had been
convinced by Simier and Castelnau that Alençon had only to appear
before the Queen for her to marry him, and they were willing to run
the risk of his going secretly on the chance, in order, if possible,
to get rid of so troublesome an element as Alençon was in France.
In England the match was looked upon as settled; but still gloomy,
patient Philip, in his cell, was incredulous. “Whatever may be said,”
he wrote to Mendoza, early in August, “I do not believe the marriage
will take place, as there can be on either side no great desire for
it, but a large amount of pretence.” The only thing he left out of the
calculation was Elizabeth’s passion and vanity, which for a time were
overmastering her judgment.

Alençon started from Paris on the 2nd of August, sending a confidential
messenger ahead of him to announce his coming to the Queen and Simier.
The latter had previously lodged in apartments adjoining those of
the Queen, to which he had a key giving him private access, but now,
for the sake of appearances, he was transferred to a pavilion in the
garden at Greenwich, where rooms were also prepared for the Prince.
Various attempts at mystification were made to prevent the knowledge
of his arrival becoming public and to throw people off the scent, but
as he was delayed by bad weather at Boulogne for some days, the news
spread and his arrival was after all an open secret. The Queen coyly
told the Spanish ambassador that her lover had not come, but her hints
and her simpers clearly implied that he had. The courtiers, to keep
up an appearance of innocence, stayed away as much as possible, and
they were prudent in doing so, for the Countess of Derby and the Earl
of Bedford’s daughter, who were caught gossiping about the Prince’s
arrival, were incontinently placed under arrest until after he had gone.

From a letter from Simier to the Queen[109] it would appear that the
Prince’s approach was first made known to her early in the morning, and
that she instantly sent word to Simier, who was in bed. Simier says
that as her messenger left his room the Prince himself entered it so
effectively disguised that he hardly knew him. He had, he said, been
met in the street by many persons, but had not been recognised. He
was, says Simier, tired to death, but notwithstanding that, entreated
Simier to go at once to the Queen and beg her to let him go and salute
her, all travel-stained and weary as he was. “But I showed him how
impossible this was, as he would have to pass through a dozen chambers
before he got to yours, and that you were still asleep. At last I
persuaded him to take some rest, and soon got him between the sheets,
and I wish to God you were with him there, as he could then with
greater facility convey his thoughts to you, for I well know that 'mal
si riposa chi non la contentezza.’”

Leicester in the meanwhile was furious, and the Spanish ambassador
was missing no opportunity of fanning the flame of discontent against
the marriage. The Queen dined alone with Alençon in Simier’s room on
the 17th of August, the day after his arrival, and although the young
Prince was no beauty, with his swart, pocked-marked face, Elizabeth at
once fell in love with him. He became from the first day her “frog”
(grenouille), and the little endearments of the two young lovers went
on ceaselessly all day, and often far into the night. “The Queen,”
writes Mendoza on the 25th of August, “is delighted with Alençon, and
he with her, as she has let out to some of her courtiers, saying that
she was pleased to have known him, was much taken with his good parts,
and admired him more than any man. She says that for her part she will
not stand in the way of his being her husband.”[110] Castelnau, the
French ambassador, writing at the same time, says to the Queen-mother:
“These loving conferences have lasted eight days. The lady has with
difficulty been able to entertain the Duke, being captivated, overcome
with love: she told me she had never found a man whose nature and
actions suited her better. She begs me to write to your Majesty asking
you not to punish him too much for the great folly of risking so much
in coming to see a woman so unworthy as she is.” The young Prince had
been brought up in a Court where love-making was the great business
of life, and flattered and languished as successfully as La Mole and
Simier had done, and Elizabeth’s overweening vanity had probably never
been so satisfied before. She gave a ball on Sunday, the 23rd of
August, 1579, at Greenwich, Alençon, being only half hidden behind the
arras. The Queen danced and posed even more than usual, and ever and
anon made signals to her guest, of whose presence all the courtiers
pretended to be ignorant. On the same night news came to the Duke
that his staunch friend, Bussy d’Amboise, had at last been killed in
a duel, and on the 27th Alençon started by coach to Dover to take the
ship which was awaiting to carry him to Calais. Castelnau said after he
went that he wrote letters “ardent enough to set fire to water,” and
to judge from the curious letters sent by him and Simier from Dover
before he embarked, the ambassador was not very wide of the mark. These
letters are in the Hatfield collection, and are worth transcribing as a
specimen of the love-letters of the time, although that of the Prince
seems to our eyes a perfect burlesque, considering that it was written
by a lover of twenty-four to a mature beauty of nearly double his age.
He is, he says, envious of his letter which will reach her hand. He
dare not commit himself to a long discourse, knowing well that he is
not himself, as he is continually occupied in stanching the tears which
flow from his eyes without intermission. He swears that his affection
for her will last for ever, and that he is and will remain the most
faithful and affectionate slave who can exist on earth. “As such,” he
says, “on the brink of this troublesome sea I kiss your feet.”

This was accompanied by a letter from Simier in the quaint French of
the time, which the reader may well be spared. It runs as follows:
“Madame: I must tell you how little rest your frog had last night, he
having done nothing but sigh and weep. At eight o’clock he made me get
up to discourse to him of your divine beauty and of his great grief
at leaving your Majesty, the jailor of his heart, the mistress of
his liberty. Only his hope that he will soon see you again gives him
some consolation. He has sworn to me a thousand times, but for that
he would not wish to live another quarter of an hour. Do not then be
cruel to him as he desires only to preserve his life so long as you
are kind. Before he was out of bed he seized the pen and has ordered
me to send off Captain Bourg with this, pending my own return to you,
which will be as soon as I see him (Alençon) at sea with his sails
spread. The weather is beautiful and the sea calm and I expect he will
have a fair passage unless he swell the waves with the abundance of
his tears. The monkey takes the liberty of humbly kissing your lovely
hands.”[111] These letters were sent on the 28th of August, and on
the two following days similar extravagant missives were sent by the
Prince, by Castelnau, and Simier; and then, on his arrival at Boulogne,
more lovelorn epistles followed, by the hands of Admiral Howard and
Edward Stafford, who had escorted the Prince so far. The Queen could
only talk of her ardent young lover, who, by the way, had scattered
liberally amongst the courtiers the rich jewels his mother had provided
for the occasion, the Queen herself receiving a splendid diamond ring
worth 10,000 crowns; and in conversation with the Spanish ambassador
she could find no words of praise strong enough for Catharine de
Medici, “whom she had formerly abominated.” The circumstances indeed
again rendered a close alliance between England and France desirable
either by marriage or otherwise. Catharine had managed to disarm Henry
of Navarre, and the signing of the treaty of Nerac in February, 1579,
had for a time brought harmony to France, and when France was united
it was always necessary for Elizabeth to be in cordial agreement with
that country or Spain. Her undisguised help to the revolted Flemings
and her depredations on Spanish shipping had alienated her more and
more from Philip, and now another circumstance had arisen which must
drive both her and Catharine de Medici into more pronounced antagonism
to Spain. The King of Portugal was old, ailing, and childless, and
intrigues were ripe as to the succession of the crown. The strongest
claimant was Philip himself, and it was felt that a further addition to
his power and the acquisition of so fine a seaboard as that of Portugal
would gravely prejudice the interest of France and England. Catharine
had a shadowy claim to the crown herself for form’s sake, but she and
Elizabeth were quite agreed that, whoever got the prize, they would
do their best to prevent Philip from gaining it, by stirring up war
elsewhere and aiding the other pretenders.

Matters were therefore again ripe for an attempt to bring about a
binding offensive and defensive alliance between the two countries: and
as soon as the lovelorn swain had gone home, serious and exhaustive
discussions of the pros and cons of the projected match was undertaken
by the Council at Greenwich. They appear to have sat continuously from
the 2nd to the 8th of October, and the minutes of their proceedings in
great detail, written by Burleigh, exist in the Hatfield Papers.[112]
No phase or eventuality seems to have been lost sight of, and a
sort of debit and credit account of advantages and disadvantages is
carefully drawn up. The main result of the well-nigh interminable
discussions was that the possible dangers of the match outbalanced
the benefits, and an address to the Queen was drawn up and signed by
the whole Council, dated the 8th of October, 1579, which, however,
carefully avoided the expression of a decided opinion, and cast the
onus of the final resolution on to the Queen. They say that they “have
not proceeded to a full resolution as is usual in such consultations,
feeling that inasmuch as her Majesty’s own wishes and dispositions are
principally to be regarded, it was their duty first to offer to her
Majesty all their services and counsel to do what best shall please
her.” They beg her to show them the inclination of her mind, and if
she pleases each councillor will state his opinion to her and bear the
responsibility she might lay upon them.” This message was taken to her
by Burleigh, Leicester, Sussex, and Lincoln in the forenoon, and, as
may be supposed, did not please their mistress. She wept and railed at
them in no measured terms that their tedious disputations should seem
to imply a doubt as to the wisdom of her marrying and “having a child
of her own body to inherit and continue the line of Henry VIII.; and
condemned herself of simplicity in committing this matter to be argued
by them, for that she thought to have rather had a universal request
made to her to proceed in this marriage than to have made a doubt of
it, and being much troubled thereby she requested them to forbear her
till the afternoon.” When they went to her again they found her even
more indignant, “and shewed her mislike of such as she thought would
not proffer her marriage before any device of surety.” She complained
very bitterly that they should think so “slenderly” of her as to assume
that she would not be as careful to safeguard religion as they were,
and that they should begrudge her marriage and child-bearing for that
reason. We are told (in Burleigh’s own hand) that “her answers were
very sharp in reprehending all such as she thought would make argument
against her marriage, and though she thought it not meet to declare to
them whether she would marry or not, yet she looked from their hands
that they should with one accord have made special suit to her for the
same.”[113] This meant, of course, that the responsibility should rest
on other shoulders than her own whilst she had her way. Stubbs’s famous
book, “The discovery of a gaping gulf wherein England is like to be
swallowed by another French marriage,” had recently been published, and
a fierce proclamation had just been issued by the Queen denouncing such
publications as “lewde and seditious.” Stubbs himself had his right
hand chopped off and was exposed to public contumely, but with his left
hand he raised his bonnet the moment after the blow was struck, and
cried, “God save the Queen!” Nearly all London shared his opposition
to the match and his personal loyalty to the Queen; and Elizabeth, who
clung to her popularity above all things, was desirous of avoiding the
blame for the marriage and yet to bring it about. In the meanwhile
almost daily couriers sped backwards and forwards with exchanges of
presents and loving missives between the Queen and Alençon, who had had
another quarrel with his brother, and had retired to his own town of
Alençon. He cannot imagine, he says, how her people can ever gainsay
“une si bell royne qui les a tousjours tant bien gouvernés qu’il ne
se peut mieus en monarchie du monde“: and her Majesty was determined
they should not gainsay her if she could help it. Once Walsingham, in
conversation with her, expressed an unfavourable opinion, whereupon
she turned upon him in a fury, and told him to be gone for a shielder
of heretics; and when Sir Francis Knollys, presuming upon his
relationship, asked her how she could think of marrying a Catholic,
she threatened that he should suffer for his zeal. His was a fine way,
she said, of showing attachment to his sovereign. Why should not she
marry and have children like any other woman? Even her faithful “sheep”
Hatton had a squabble with her about it, and was rusticated for a
week.[114]

Philip Sidney’s bold and nobly-worded letter of remonstrance with
the Queen against the match was accepted in a better spirit. The
virtues and talents of the writer, coupled with the disinterested
patriotism which evidently inspired his protest, secured him against
the vituperation which Elizabeth lavished on Walsingham and other
Protestant champions who timidly ventured to offer not a tithe
of Sidney’s outspoken opinions. “These” (the Protestants), said
Sidney--“how will their hearts be galled, if not alienated, when they
shall see you take a husband, a Frenchman and a papist, in whom,
howsoever fine wits may find further dealings or painted excuses, the
very common people well know this: that he is the son of a Jezebel of
our age; that his brother made oblation of his sister’s marriage, the
easier to make massacres of our brethren in belief. That he himself,
contrary to his promise and all gratefulness, having his liberty and
principal estate by the Huguenot’s means did sack La Charité and
utterly spoil them with fire and sword! This I say, even at first sight
gives occasion to all truly religious to abhor such a master, and
consequently to diminish much of the hopeful love they long held to
you.” The Queen wept over this, as well she might, but to her credit it
may be said that she did not visit the writer with her displeasure as
she would have done in the case of a less high-minded adviser.



[Illustration]

CHAPTER X.

  Simier’s departure with the draft agreement--The Queen suddenly
      cools towards the match--Her perplexity--Her efforts
      to temporise--Suggestions for an alliance with France--
      Simier’s letters pleading Alençon’s cause--Alençon’s plans in
      Flanders--Signature of the Peace of Fleix--Queen Margaret’s
      intrigues against the Alençon match--Simier’s disgrace--
      Catholic intrigues to gain Alençon--Alençon’s new envoys to
      England--Clausse de Marchaumont’s negotiations--His favour
      with the Queen--“La belle jarretière.”


On the 9th of November, 1579, Simier came to the Queen and told her he
could delay no longer going back to his master; and if a final decision
was not at once adopted, he must return without it. He was closeted
with her for several hours, and the next day she summoned the principal
councillors to her chamber, and told them that she had made up her mind
to marry, and they need say no more about it; their duty now was simply
to devise the necessary means for carrying out her wishes. She then
sent post-haste to bring back Stafford, who was on his way to Alençon,
and for a day her councillors thought the matter was settled. But the
next day a cool gust of prudence passed over her passion, and she again
sent to the councillors ordering them to give her individually their
opinions in writing. This did not suit Simier, and he rushed off to
the Queen and told her it was now unwise and unnecessary, as she had
made up her mind. She haughtily asked who told him that, to which he
replied that it was Cecil; whereupon she flew into one of her violent
rages against councillors who could not keep their mouths shut, and
flung out of the room, leaving Simier to meditate upon the inconstancy
of woman. She then ordered the councillors to send a joint letter
begging Alençon to expedite his coming, but they refused to do so, and
urged that before the Prince himself came a person of higher rank and
more serious standing than Simier should come to settle the conditions.
When Simier heard this he booted and spurred without more ado, and went
in a huff to take leave of the Queen. She mollified him, however, with
blandishments, and during the next few days the terms of settlement
were hastily agreed upon and signed in draft, giving Alençon and his
household the right to attend the Catholic service in his own chapel.
But when the protocol was handed to Simier for conveyance to France
the Queen characteristically insisted upon his giving an undertaking
which always left her a loophole of escape. The original document in
Simier’s handwriting is at Hatfield, and agrees that the articles shall
remain in suspense for two months, “during which time her Majesty hopes
to have brought her people to consent to the marriage.” If before that
time she did not write to the King and Alençon consenting to receive
ambassadors to sign the contract, the whole present conditions were to
be absolutely null and void.

Simier left London on the 24th of November, loaded with presents, and
from Gravesend wrote a long letter to the Queen, warning her against
those who, for their own ends, were trying to persuade her to forego
the match, and who had been publicly boasting in London that as soon
as his back was turned they would easily change her mind. He finishes
his letter by what comes perilously near a bit of love-making on his
own account, and during his two days’ stay at Dover, and from Calais,
letter followed letter from him to the Queen, in all of which the
hope is fervently expressed that “le singe restera tousjours vostre,
et que la distance des lyeus, ni la longeur du tanps, ni les fausses
invantions des mes contrères, ne me pouront aporter aucun préjudisse en
vos bonnes grasses ni enpecher le souleil de mes yeulx, qui ne peuvent
être contans que voyent vostre grenouille aupres de vostre Majesté et
moy coume singe me voyr hordinere à vos piés,” and so on, page after
page. Stafford accompanied him across, and brought back a letter with a
great emerald embedded in the seal, from Alençon to the Queen, telling
her of the efforts which were being made to bring him and Navarre
again into good agreement with the King, to which the Queen replied,
leaving for once the philandering strain, and writing a serious and
statesmanlike warning against his being too pliant. There is no doubt
that for a time after Simier left, the influence of Leicester, Hatton,
and Walsingham somewhat cooled her towards the marriage. Stafford went
first with Simier to Paris to lay the draft conditions before the
King, and took the opportunity of demanding some further limitation
with regard to the exercise of the Catholic religion. Henry III. would
have nothing to say to this, but left it to his brother’s conscience,
but he wrote to his ambassador in England pointing out that this was
another of their tricks to break off the affair.

Stafford found Alençon no more yielding than his brother, and for a
time matters looked unpromising, the “monkey” continuing to write
gushing letters to the Queen, begging her not to be influenced by the
“mile faulx bruis” of Walsingham and others, who are trying to render
the affair abortive. At this juncture, doubtless, the Queen wrote the
long letter without date to the Duke,[115] pointing out to him the
unpopularity of the match and the many difficulties of carrying it
through, unless the terms taken by Simier, particularly with regard
to religion and the pension, were relaxed. If this is impossible, she
says, and the affair falls through, let us not worry any more about
it, but remain faithful friends for ever. This did not at all please
the Prince, who plainly told her (January 28, 1580, Hatfield Papers)
that some people believed that she was only making use of the religious
question as an excuse to break off the match, and that he is not at all
astonished that she has requested that the departure of commissioners
for the ratification should be stayed. He was probably right in his
conjecture, for only a few days before (January 17, 1580, Hatfield
Papers) the Queen tried to pick a quarrel about the rank of the
ambassadors to be sent. She had roundly told the King, she said, that
she did not think France was so short of princes that he must needs
send her a child or a low-born person. A person of the very highest
lineage must come or none at all: she would never have the chronicles
record that any slight was offered to her honour on so great an
occasion. The poor “monkey” might write his inflated letters to the
Queen, deploring, and denouncing the enemies who were impeding the
match, and pleading in heartbroken accents the cause of his lovelorn
“frog”; but there can be no doubt that at the end of January, 1580, in
London, the affair was looked upon as at an end. A long and instructive
State paper exists at Hatfield in the writing of Sir Thomas Cecil,
dated the 28th of January, addressed to the Queen, and setting forth
that the Alençon marriage, having fallen through, the Prince would
probably seek revenge for his disappointment, and ally himself to the
King of Spain, with the object of aiding a general Catholic assault
on England and Ireland. Sir Thomas then lays down a certain course of
action necessary to meet this danger. Alençon is to be encouraged to
push his ambitious projects in Flanders in order to keep him at issue
with Spain; the Queen’s forces by sea and land are to be put on a war
footing, and German mercenaries are to be hired; English trade, as
far as possible, is to be carried in foreign bottoms; the Irish are
to be conciliated by large concessions to their national traditions;
the Queen of Scots is to be more strictly held and her son subsidised;
and the Netherlanders and the Huguenots are to be vigorously helped.
This was a bold programme indeed, but was fully warranted by the
circumstances as we now know them. The Guises were moving heaven and
earth to prevent an understanding between Alençon and the Huguenots;
the Queen of Scots was in active negotiation with Philip, through
Beaton and Guise, for a Spanish invasion of England in her interest;
and the Spanish troops, under the Papal banner, were backing up the
insurgent Irish.[116]

The reason for Alençon’s tardy resistance to further surrender about
his religion must be sought in the fact that the Catholic Flemings were
still in active negotiations with him for his assuming the sovereignty
of the States, and any wavering on his part in religion would at once
have made him an impossible candidate for them. The fact of the Prince
of Orange and the Huguenots being in his favour was already rather
against his chances with the Walloons, and it was necessary for him
to assume a devotion to Catholicism, the sincerity of which may well
be doubted. It will thus be seen that the position was full of danger
and uncertainty to Elizabeth, as she could never allow a Frenchman
to be dominant in the Netherlands unless he was her humble servant.
This, of course, was obvious to Alençon as it was to her, and it was
necessary for him to know upon which side he would have to depend for
the promotion of his ambition, either the Queen of England and the
Huguenots, or the Catholic Flemings and his brother. On the very day,
therefore, that the two months stipulated with Simier expired, namely,
the 24th of February, 1580, Castelnau, the French ambassador, went to
the Queen and asked for a definite answer as to whether she would marry
the Prince on the terms arranged or not. She replied that it was not a
matter which could be settled in such a hurry, and she must consult her
Council and her people. After a good deal of bickering the ambassador
unmasked his batteries, and told her that if she did not carry out her
agreement to marry him, the Prince, in his own justification and to
show people that he had not come to England out of mere flightiness,
would be obliged to publish all her letters. She replied, in her usual
vein, that she was surprised that Alençon should think of treating
any lady in this way, much less a Queen, and with this she closed the
colloquy in great anger and indignation.

Mendoza tells the story,[117] and adds that after the ambassador had
left, “she being alone in her chamber with Cecil and the Archbishop
of York, whom she considers a very clever man, she said, My lord,
here am I between Scylla and Charybdis. Alençon has agreed to all the
terms I sent him, and he is asking me to tell him when I wish him to
come and marry me. If I do not marry him I know not whether he will
remain friendly with me; and if I do I shall not be able to govern my
country with the freedom and security I have hitherto enjoyed. What
shall I do?” The answer of the Archbishop was that every one would
be glad with whatever she decided upon. She then turned to Cecil and
asked him what he thought, as he had been absent from the Council for
three days past. He said that if she wished to marry she should do
so, as no harm could come to the country now that Alençon had agreed
to their terms; but, he added, if she did not mean to marry him she
ought to undeceive him at once. She sharply told him that the rest of
the councillors were not of his opinion, but that the Duke should be
kept in hand by correspondence. How could she tell, she asked, the
feeling of the King of Spain towards her, and whether it would be
safe for her to let go her hold on France? Cecil, not relishing the
snub, replied that those who tried to trick princes were themselves
generally tricked in the end. The Spanish ambassador thought, and he
was no doubt right, that Alençon’s pressure and covert threats were
for the purpose of forcing the Queen to help him in his designs in
Flanders as some solatium for the slight she had put upon him and his
family by throwing him over in the marriage negotiations; and colour is
given to this view by the fact that envoys arrived simultaneously from
La Noue, the Huguenot chief, who was now in the service of the States,
from Orange, and the Prince of Condé, to beg the Queen to send help
to establish Alençon in the Netherlands. This appeared to the Queen a
good way out of her difficulty, and she seems to have seized it with
avidity, though always with a pretence that the marriage negotiations
were still pending, in order to save appearances and disarm the French
Government. On the receipt, therefore, of a letter from Alençon by
Captain Bourg, on the 7th of March, announcing that he only awaited
her permission to send Marshal de Cossé, to settle the conditions,
the Queen took what was for her a very unusual step, namely, to pay
a ceremonious visit by water to the French ambassador, to promise
him shortly to fix a date for the coming of the commissioners. How
hollow the pretence was, however, is seen by a letter written at the
same time by Simier to the Queen, headed by a true lovers’ knot, in
which “her faithful monkey” deplores that she has broken off the match
which he ascribes to the machinations of his enemies, and says that
he would rather have given his right arm and ten years of his life
than it should have happened, or if she had decided to break it off
that she had not done so ten months before. Elizabeth continued her
great show of cordiality to the French ambassador, and when the Prince
of Condé himself came in June to complain to her of the treatment
suffered by the Protestants in France, and to beg her aid, she went
to the length of refusing to receive him excepting in the presence of
Castelnau, and by every means in her power sought to bring about an
understanding with the French Government before she pledged herself
single-handed too deeply in the troubled affairs of Flanders. But this
did not at all suit Alençon, who had his own game to play and knew
full well that if a cordial alliance were arranged between his brother
and the Queen of England there would be no need for the latter to
marry him, or for either party to risk an open rupture with Spain for
the sake of his personal aggrandisement; particularly at the present
moment, when Elizabeth was in great alarm at a powerful Spanish fleet
which had just put to sea. So the faithful “frog” and his attendant
monkey began to get ardent again. De Vray was sent to smooth down
misunderstandings and to mollify Leicester, who, after grumbling that
the French were not giving him enough presents, had gone whining to the
Spanish ambassador to offer his services to impede the understanding
with the French--for a consideration. Simier writes on the 18th of
April:[118] “As for your frog, his flame is immortal, and his love
towards you can never end either in this world or the next. By God,
Madame, lose no more time! Take counsel with yourself and those whose
faithful attachment is known to you for your own sake rather than
their advancement ... let Monseigneur soon approach your charms. This
is the daily prayer of your monkey who, with all humility, kisses the
shadow of your footsteps.” Alençon’s letters, although somewhat less
hyperbolical, are yet very loving, and press the Queen urgently to
allow commissioners to come to finally settle the marriage conditions,
and in this request he was seconded by his mother and brother. To all
these letters answers were sent after much delay, “containing many
sweet words but no decision;” and the Spanish ambassador writing an
account of matters to his master on the 21st of May,[119] says that
the French were threatening the Queen with Alençon’s resentment if she
did not marry him now the matter was so far advanced. “In this way
both parties are weaving a Penelope’s web simply to cover the designs
which I have already explained to your Majesty.” These designs were, on
Alençon’s part, to force Elizabeth into a marriage, or into supporting
him in Flanders as the price of throwing him over; on Elizabeth’s
part that if he went into Flanders at all he should do so only as her
tool and that of the Huguenots; or otherwise to bring about a close
alliance between England and France, or a rupture between the latter
and Spain: and on the part of Henry III. and his mother, to get rid
of their “enfant terrible,” by marrying him in England, and to drive
Elizabeth single-handed into a contest with Spain. The States envoys
from Ghent meanwhile were pressing upon Alençon the sovereignty of the
Netherlands, and the matter could not brook long delay for Alexander
Farnese, who was no sluggard, had just routed La Noue, and was pressing
them hard. Alençon therefore thought that affairs must be precipitated
or he would slip to the ground between his brother and the Queen of
England, between Protestant and Catholic support; and the pressure put
upon Elizabeth was now so strong, and the danger that Alençon would
enter Flanders independent of her so great, that a Council was held on
the 5th of June, and unanimously decided that a request should be sent
to France for commissioners to be despatched to England. Sir Edward
Stafford at the same time was despatched to Alençon, to negotiate with
him and obtain his co-operation with the embassy. But Stafford found
the Duke in the sulks. He knew full well that the sending of a formal
embassy by his brother to England would be more likely to lead to an
alliance than a marriage, or that if a marriage was brought about by
these means it would be on such terms as would hamper rather than help
his ambition; so he stood out, and at last only gave his concurrence
with the embassy on condition that it should solely be empowered
to negotiate a marriage and not a national alliance.[120] Shortly
after this, on the 12th of August, a formal deputation of the States
offered Alençon the sovereignty of the Netherlands, which he nominally
accepted. He was, however, powerless to move or assume his sovereignty
until peace was made between his brother and Henry of Navarre and his
Huguenots, who were now at open warfare. No French troops of either
party were available for Alençon until he had persuaded the Bearnais
to come to terms, and had raised the siege of La Fère. The Duke’s
first care, therefore, was to patch up some sort of settlement between
the two factions in France, not a very easy matter, particularly when
the King, learning of the vast Spanish plunder brought by Drake from
America, and concluded that Elizabeth’s fear of reprisals would render
her powerless to back up the Huguenots. At last, however, the peace
of Fleix was signed in November, 1580, and the horizon for Alençon
began to brighten somewhat. Amongst those in the French Court who
most strongly opposed his marriage was his sister Margaret, Queen of
Navarre, for reasons which the scandalmongers of the time had much to
say; and in the correct belief that Simier was largely instrumental in
bringing about the match, she prompted her great friend Fervaques and
his ally Balagny to pick a quarrel with the “monkey,” and if possible
kill him. Thereupon ensued a bitter feud in Alençon’s household, which
ended in the flight of Simier to his abbey of Bourgueil, whence he
wrote a series of interesting letters to Elizabeth in his usual strain,
giving her a full account of all that had happened. She, for her
part, kept up the correspondence actively, and zealously endeavoured
to induce his master to restore him to favour. Alençon seems to have
treated his servitor very badly. Simier tells the Queen that only a
few days before his disgrace he lent the Duke 90,000 crowns, and that
suddenly he had been deprived of all he possessed, “and turned out in
his shirt.” He ascribes his trouble mostly to Margaret, and his letters
--particularly that of the 18th of October[121]--are so full of
scandal that one can well understand his fervent prayers that the Queen
will burn his letters and not let a soul but herself read them. It is
almost impossible to read these letters and believe in the innocence
of the Queen’s relations with Simier, as witness the final words in
the aforesaid long letter of the 18th of October: “I pray you, madame,
that no living soul shall know of my letters. I place my life in your
hands, and only wish to preserve it to do you service. For I am your
ape, and you are my creator, my defender, my stay, and my saviour. You
are my god, my all, my life, my hope, my faith, and my consolation. I
supplicate you then, and pray you with all my power to deign in your
grace to bring my affairs to a happy issue. You will thus still further
pledge the ape who in all humility will render you complete obedience
to death, as willingly as he now humbly kisses and rekisses a hundred
million times your beautiful and loving hands.” All this is mighty
fine, but he gives the Queen in a postscript a piece of news which must
have interested her still more, and certainly influenced her attitude
towards Alençon. “Saturn” (_i.e._, the King of Spain), he says, “has
informed the King and Queen-mother that if they can dissuade Monsieur
from his plans in the Netherlands, he (the King of Spain) will grant
him the territory of Cambresis, and will put him into possession of
all the rest (_i.e._, of Catholic Flanders). The Pope and the Dukes of
Savoy, Florence, Urbino, and Ferrara will guarantee this grant; and the
Queen-mother has undertaken to make these overtures to Monsieur, who
knows nothing of the matter yet. For God’s sake burn this letter and
let no soul see it.”

The effect of this was that loving letters were at once sent to
Alençon, all difficulties were smoothed over, the commissioners should
be cordially welcomed as soon as they liked to come, and what was of
far more importance still, the Queen promised the French ambassador
that when they arrived she would give Alençon 200,000 crowns of Drake’s
plunder to help him in the Netherlands enterprise and subsidise
Duke Casimir’s mercenary army of Germans to cross the frontier and
co-operate with him.

But it was not a very easy task to settle with the King of France
the preliminaries of the embassy, the extent of its powers, and the
choice of its members. Cobham, in Paris, tried to pledge Henry III.
to break first with Spain on account of his mother’s claim to the
Portuguese crown, which Philip had usurped, but the King said he would
make no move until Elizabeth did so. Whilst these discussions were
going on in Paris, Alençon sent an embassy of his own to London (in
February, 1581) to pave the way, in his interest, for the coming of the
commissioners. The principal envoy was Clausse de Marchaumont, Count
de Beaumont, who was accompanied by Jean Bodin, the famous writer,
and others; and his principal task for many months to come was to
beg for money aid for his master’s enterprise. He was received with
apparent cordiality by the Queen, who was closeted with him for hours
every day, and especially recommended him to the French ambassador as
a great favourite of Alençon; but withal she must have watched him
closely at first, for in one of his most secret letters her “faithful
monkey” assures her that Marchaumont was entirely dependent upon the
Guises, and recommends her to have a little secretary of his named
Obterre “untrussed,” when she will find some news about Scotland. The
Duke of Guise, it seems, had dropped a hint about it in the hearing of
one of Simier’s friends. Whatever was the result of the Queen’s secret
conferences with Marchaumont, not even her own councillors knew it, and
she wrote a private letter, which no one saw, for one of the envoys, a
cousin of Marchaumont’s, M. de Mery, to take to the Duke, and with it
she sent a wedding-ring as a token. Mendoza says that “she also said
publicly that she was now so anxious for the commissioners to come that
every hour’s delay seemed like a thousand years to her, with other
tender speeches of the same sort, which make most people who hear them
believe that the marriage will take place. The three ministers (_i.e._,
Sussex, Cecil, and Crofts) for whom Marchaumont brought letters only
replied to him that they could say nothing further, but that the Queen
seemed very desirous that the wedding should be effected.” The tone
of this last remark is sufficient to prove that the Queen, at this
time, was not in earnest, and that her real design, as I have already
pointed out, was to compass her ends without burdening herself with
a husband. At a subsequent stage, as we shall see, her passion once
more, and for the last time, nearly swept away her judgment, and drove
her into a position from which it was difficult to extricate herself
without matrimony or loss of prestige. Marchaumont brought with him a
secretary of Alençon’s named de Bex, who kept up an extremely active
correspondence during the whole of his stay in England, with a large
circle of friends in France (Hatfield Papers), letters which are full
of curious sidelights on the manners of the times, but which do not
give us much fresh information on the marriage negotiations. Another
confidential agent of Alençon was also constantly about the Queen’s
person, and his letters at Hatfield prove that for many months the
most secret instructions of the French ambassador and the special
envoys were immediately conveyed to Elizabeth by this man, who is only
known to us under the pseudonym of “Le Moyne,” with which he signed
his letters to the Queen and to Alençon, with both of whom he seems to
have been equally familiar. “Le Moyne” has, I believe, never hitherto
been identified, but a careful comparison of his letters with certain
known facts of Marchaumont’s life convinces me that the mysterious
“monk” who was so deep in the confidence of the Queen was Marchaumont
himself. How highly she favoured him is proved by her behaviour to him
on the occasion of her famous visit to Drake’s ship, the _Pelican_,
at Deptford early in April, 1581. When the great sailor approached
his sovereign after the banquet to receive the honour of knighthood,
she jokingly told him she had a gilded sword wherewith to strike off
his head, but turning to Marchaumont she handed the sword to him
and authorised him to give Drake the accolade, which he did.[122]
When she was crossing the gangway to go on board the _Pelican_, one
of her purple and gold garters slipped down and trailed behind her,
whereupon Marchaumont, who followed, seized it as a lawful prize to
send to his master. The Queen besought him to return it to her, as
she had nothing else to prevent her stocking from slipping down; but
the gallant Frenchman refused to surrender it until she promised to
restore it to him as soon as she returned to Westminster. She made no
ado about putting the garter on before him, and the next day M. de
Mery was started off hastily to the lovelorn “frog,” again bearing
with him a letter of high-flown affection from the Queen and the
precious garter from Marchaumont.[123] For a long time afterwards
Alençon, in his letters to the Queen, refers to her “belle jartière”
as a talisman which is the cause of all his good fortune. Garters and
loving words were very well in their way, but Alençon was anxious
to come to business. The embassy was waiting to go over to England,
and affairs both in Flanders and France were reaching a point where
it was necessary for the Duke to know upon whom he could depend. His
answer, therefore, was most pressing. “He could have,” he said, “no
rest until the Queen gave him a certain and definite answer as to the
fulfilment of the marriage so long treated of. He earnestly beseeches
her, in recompense for his faithful affection, to put aside all doubts,
ambiguities, and irresolutions, and give expression to her final wishes
on the matter. If she shall approve of the setting out of the embassy
to conclude the marriage, as soon as her reply to the present despatch
shall have been received, they shall be sent with instructions to obey
and satisfy her rather by deeds than by words.”[124]



[Illustration]

CHAPTER XI.

  Great French embassy to England to settle the Alençon match--
      Elizabeth’s efforts to gain her objects without marriage--
      Alençon’s determination to relieve Cambrai--Henry III.
      strenuously opposes his brother’s plans in Flanders--Alleged
      flying visit of Alençon to England--Catharine’s efforts to
      divert Alençon from his plans in Flanders--Elizabeth attempts
      to draw France into war with Spain without her marriage with
      Alençon.


At length, after endless bickering about the rank of the proposed
ambassadors and the Queen’s assent had been received by Alençon, the
envoys were ordered to rendezvous at Calais. There they were delayed
for some weeks, first for the young Prince Dauphin, of Montpensier,
whom the King had added to the list of ambassadors to please the Queen
at Alençon’s request, and then by the illness of other members of
the embassy. Early in April, 1581, however, all was ready for their
crossing, and then the English Council began to get alarmed at the
number of their following and the sumptuous nature of the embassy,
which most of the councillors knew was destined to return with the
marriage still undecided. At last, however, a general passport was
granted at the instance of the Queen, who said she could not afford
to offend Alençon at this juncture. Workmen were set on in furious
haste to build a grand-stand in the palace at Westminster, wherein
to entertain the visitors. Ten thousand pounds’ worth of plate was
ordered for presents, and jousts, banquets, and balls were hastily
organised. “The Queen went to the length of issuing an order in Council
that shopkeepers were to sell their cloth of gold, velvets, silks, and
other such stuffs at a reduction of one quarter from the price per
yard, as she says she wishes them to do her this service in order that
the ladies and gentlemen may be the better able to bedizen themselves.
“This seems an evident sign that her only object is to satisfy her
own vanity and keep Alençon in hand.”[125] The writer goes on to say
that the Queen is paying no heed to the weighty questions which will
have to be settled by the embassy, but is entirely absorbed by the
consideration of new devices for jousts, where a ball is to be held,
what beautiful women are to be at Court, and such-like trifles. On the
14th of April the glittering embassy embarked at Calais. It consisted
of nearly five hundred persons in all, and included Francis de Bourbon,
Dauphin of Auvergne, the son of the Duke of Montpensier; Charles de
Bourbon, Count of Soissons, the youngest of the Condé family; Marshal
de Cossé; the Counts of Sancerre and Carrouges; Lansac, Barnabé
Brisson, the famous president of the parliament of Paris; La Mothe
Fénélon; Pinart, Catharine’s Secretary of State; de Vray; Jean Bodin,
and others of high rank. Lord Cobham, Warden of the Cinque ports, the
Earl of Pembroke, and others, received them at Dover with a great train
of the Queen’s carriages, in which they were conveyed to Gravesend,
where a great number of the nobility met them with the Queen’s barges
to carry them to Somerset House. London itself was crowded with the
nobility and Parliament-men, who had been specially ordered to remain
in town with their families. “They are also collecting,” says Mendoza,
“all their servants and trains, both for the sake of ostentation
and because, being a suspicious folk, they fear some disturbance,
particularly Leicester, who is making greater efforts than any one
to collect a large company of kinsmen and servants.” London itself
was gloomy and discontented at the coming of the embassy, but withal
was kept from open disturbance by the underlying belief, now pretty
general, that State alliance rather than marriage would be the ultimate
result of it all. A salute of two hundred guns greeted the envoys
as they passed under London Bridge in their barges on the 21st of
April. Saturday, the 24th, was St. George’s Day, and the ambassadors
were taken in great state by water to visit the Queen at Whitehall.
A vast banqueting-hall, says Hollingshead, had been erected on the
south side of the palace covered with painted canvas and decorated
in a style of most fantastic splendour. Pendants of fruits, and even
vegetables, were hung from festoons of ivy, bay, rosemary, and flowers,
the whole lavishly sprinkled with spangles. The ceiling was painted
like a sky, with stars and sunbeams intermixed with escutcheons of the
royal arms, and a profusion of glass lustres illuminated the whole.
The envoys themselves, giving an account of their reception,[126]
say that the walls of the chamber were hung entirely with cloth of
gold and silver; the throne, raised on a dais, being surmounted by
a silken canopy covered with roses embroidered in pearls. The Queen
herself was dressed in cloth of gold spangled with diamonds and rubies,
and smilingly inclined her head as the less important members of the
embassy passed before her. When the young Dauphin, a prince of the
blood and the representative of the King, approached, however, she
stepped down from the dais and in English fashion kissed him on the
lips, and said a few gracious words to Marshal de Cossé, Brisson,
Carrouges, and La Mothe Fénélon, who followed him. Again and again
she besought the young Prince to don his plumed bonnet, and the crowd
being dense and the heat great, instead of again mounting her dais
she retired to an open window overlooking the Thames. Lansac seized
the opportunity of presenting to her a French painter who had been
commissioned by Catharine de Medici to paint her portrait, whereupon
the Queen, ever avid for compliments, said he must represent her
with a veil over her face, so that they might not think her too old.
That day and the next passed in almost interminable entertainments,
which, as they are described in the pages of Hollingshead, and by the
ambassadors themselves, appear to us incredibly far-fetched, childish,
and absurd; but which doubtless at the time were considered models of
poetry and delicate compliment to the Queen and her guests. At length,
on taking leave of the Queen after the third day of feasting, the
Prince Dauphin asked her when they should get to business, and which
councillors she would appoint to negotiate with the embassy. She was
of course well prepared for the request, and had planned her course
before the envoys had set foot in England. Leicester and Walsingham
had done their best to prevent the passport for them from being sent,
but had been overborne by Cecil, Sussex, and the Queen herself; and
when Leicester, on the day before their crossing, came again to his
mistress and pointed out the danger she ran in, carrying the matter
so far, she tranquillised him by saying that if the embassy became
too pressing she would confuse the negotiations by bringing Alençon
himself over to England for a few days, whilst the envoys were here.
She could, she said, square matters without a marriage and without
offence by giving him a money aid to his Netherlands projects. To
Sussex, and, above all, to Marchaumont, she artfully told an entirely
opposite tale, and led them to believe that if the Duke came suddenly
and secretly she would certainly marry him, and, needless to say, “the
monk” at once wrote pressing his master to make ready to come over if
necessary. But Marchaumont at the same time told the ambassadors that
he was of opinion that unless they could get a distinct pledge that
the marriage should take place they ought to veto the Duke’s visit.
The control of events was thus cunningly centred in the Queen’s hand.
As the Spanish ambassador points out to Philip, she had silenced the
opposition of Leicester and his friends, had convinced those favourable
to the marriage of her sincerity, whilst providing herself with a
loophole of escape in any case. If Alençon did come she could deal with
him over the heads of the embassy, and so confuse matters, whilst if
he did not come she could allege that as a reason for not marrying
him, and infer that the negotiations had fallen through by no fault of
her own.[127] When the Prince Dauphin therefore asked her to appoint
a committee of the Council she was ready for him, and named Cecil,
Bedford, Leicester, Sussex, Hatton, and Walsingham--that is to say,
three men who were determined to prevent the marriage if possible, one
--Sussex--honestly in favour of it, and the other two--Cecil and
Bedford--only concerned in rendering the match innocuous to English
interests, if the Queen determined to carry it through, which neither
of them believed she would. Business began with a grand banquet at
the Lord Treasurer’s new house in the Strand, hard by the lodgings of
the embassy. After a verification of powers Cecil made a long speech
to the effect that, although he had formerly opposed the marriage, he
now considered that it would be conducive to the interests of England,
and Brisson replied in a similar strain. Walsingham then launched
his thunderbolt. He alleged that since, and as a consequence of, de
Bacqueville’s mission eighteen months before, the Pope had flooded
England with Jesuit emissaries, and had sent armed forces to Ireland.
The projected marriage, he said, had raised the hopes of the Catholics
in England, who were already discounting its effects. He dwelt upon the
dangers which might attend an accouchement of the Queen at her age,
and complained bitterly that Alençon, even since the negotiations had
been in progress, had entered into dealings with the States-General of
Flanders. The marriage might therefore drag England into war, and the
Queen had consequently written a letter to the Duke, to which she was
now awaiting the reply.[128] The envoys replied in astonishment that
they had looked upon the principle of the marriage as settled before
they came, and could not enter into discussions of that sort, but
pointed out that as England had now offended Spain past forgiveness,
it was needful for the Queen to gain the friendship of France by means
of the marriage. They were told that if the Queen married it would
be from no such consideration as this, but out of pure affection,
and suggested that if the marriage did not take place an offensive
and defensive alliance against Spain might be concluded. But this,
although the main object of the Englishmen, did not at all suit the
French. They were only authorised, they said, to conclude the marriage,
for which purpose they had come, and not to arrange an alliance. Let
the Queen marry Monsieur first, and then she might be sure the King
of France would help her in the Netherlands and elsewhere. “In the
meanwhile,” says Mendoza, “no formal commission has been given to
the English ministers, by which it is clear that the Queen is simply
procrastinating about the marriage in order to draw the French into an
offensive alliance without burdening herself with a husband, whilst the
French wish first to make sure of the marriage.[129] That the Spanish
ambassador was quite right in his reading of events we may now see by
the note in Cecil’s hand summarising the arguments pro and con for the
Queen’s guidance, and also by the draft of the discourse pronounced
by Walsingham to the ambassadors which very plainly show that the
Queen at this time, notwithstanding her honeyed words to “the monk”
and loving letters to Alençon, was not in earnest. Banquet succeeded
banquet, but the Frenchmen could get no further. In vain they protested
that they had simply come to conclude the draft contract negotiated
by Simier, that their mission was limited, and that they had no more
time to waste in merrymaking. Let us get to business first, they said,
and feast afterwards. On the 7th of May they were invited to a ball at
Whitehall, after which the Queen again pressed upon them the necessity
for an alliance between England and France, but said she could not
go any further with the marriage until she heard again from Alençon.
In vain her plaintive “monkey,” from his abbey of Bourgueil, wrote
praying her to make her lovelorn “frog” happy without further delay,
in vain Marchaumont pressed in his master’s name that she would not
shame him by throwing him over after all that had passed between them.
Smiles, sweet words, and vague protestations were all they could get;
and Secretary Pinart wrote on the 21st of May to Catharine: “The Queen
makes all sorts of demonstrations to us, but we can get no further.
At a supper given by Sussex the Queen expressed her satisfaction to
La Mothe Fénélon at the approaches the French had made to Leicester,
who, she said, had done his best to forward their views and to maintain
a friendly understanding between the two countries. La Mothe drily
replied that such an understanding would be easy when the marriage
was concluded. Oh! said the Queen, as for the marriage, that is in
the hands of God, and she could say nothing more about that until she
received a reply from Alençon. La Mothe thereupon declined to discuss
any other question and the Queen closed the colloquy in a huff. Two
days after this, when the envoys had become quite disheartened and
perplexed at Marchaumont’s secret dealings with the Queen and Sussex
over their heads, Elizabeth suddenly sent de Vray to Alençon with a
private autograph letter,[130] in the sealing-wax of which she embedded
a diamond; and at the same time Marchaumont wrote urging his master
to come over and gain the prize by a _coup-de-main_, on the strength
of a document which he had obtained from the committee of the Council
containing some favourable expressions towards the match. At the same
time Marchaumont was brought to a lodging in the gardens of Whitehall
and an elaborate pretence of keeping some important personage concealed
there was made, partly to prepare the public mind for the coming of the
Duke and partly to still further mystify the envoys. In this the Queen
and Marchaumont were entirely successful, and the Queen was looking
almost hourly for the arrival of her suitor, with whom she could make
her own terms and force France into an alliance. Alençon himself was
all eagerness to come, but he had pledged himself solemnly to the
States to relieve Cambrai which was beleaguered by Parma, and he dared
not abandon his task. Simier, moreover, was away from him, and his
sister Margaret’s friend, Fervaques, was ever at his ear urging him
to wrath against poor “monkey” and the Queen of England. Fervaques,
writing to Marchaumont, says that if Elizabeth succeeds in getting
Simier reinstated, “the very day he comes back I will quit the service;
car s’il me donnait tout son bien par la teste de Dieu je ne serverais
pas une heure. Send us some money or we shall starve. Our master will
make peace (_i.e._, in France) for he rules the King of Navarre, and
they say that after that we are going to England. Je donne aux mille
diables le voyage et le premier qui mit les james en avant. Tell my
secretary if he comes not back soon by God I will cut his throat.”[131]

Alençon accordingly wrote to Marchaumont on the 20th of May saying that
he could not come until he had arranged for the relief of Cambrai at
any cost. He was, he said, like a bird on a branch and might be able to
fly off at any moment, and in the meanwhile sent the clothes he would
need on his arrival. But events forced his hands. On the 17th of May
the King issued a decree in Paris ordering the dispersion by force of
arms of all the levies of Frenchmen being raised for the service of his
brother in Flanders. Great pressure, bribes, persuasions and threats,
were brought to bear upon Alençon by his mother, to prevent him from
again entering Flanders to relieve Cambrai, and so, perhaps, embroil
France with Spain; but he plainly saw now that his ambition would
never be served by the Catholic party and that he must frankly depend
upon the Protestants and Elizabeth, so he hurriedly made preparations
for a flying visit to England. When the Queen was satisfied that he
was coming and that the King of France was quite determined not to
offend Spain as a preliminary of the marriage, her tone towards the
ambassadors immediately changed, and the clause in the draft treaty
giving the bridegroom the right of exercising his religion in England
was struck out. The envoys were naturally indignant, refused to
accept the alteration, and said that as, under the circumstances, the
marriage was an impossibility, they would depart at once. To preserve
appearances it was decided that some sort of draft agreement, based
on the marriage contract of Philip and Mary, should be agreed to, and
after long bickering as to which party should sign first, the Queen
insisted that the draft should be accompanied by a letter from her
to the effect that the conditions did not bind her to marry at all,
but should be adopted if at any future time she decided to do so.
This appeared absurd to the envoys, and, whilst the subject was being
discussed, the Queen learnt that Alençon was on his way and would
submit to her will in all things. She then turned round and said there
was no need for any capitulations at all. She and Alençon were the
persons to be married and they understood each other perfectly well,
so that his brother’s intervention was unnecessary. This change of
front completely puzzled the ambassadors, but they were not long in
the dark as to the reason of it, for three days afterwards Leicester
told them that an English merchant had just arrived in London who had
seen Alençon embark from Dieppe for England two days before, namely
on the 28th of May. The envoys and the ambassador Castelnau were
chagrined beyond measure at this new escapade of the King’s brother,
and obstinately shut themselves up to avoid seeing him. Such rigorous
silence did they maintain as to this visit in their correspondence
that even the most recent and best-informed French historian of the
events does not credit its having taken place. The correspondence of
Mendoza, the Spanish ambassador in London, which has passed through my
hands, leaves me, however, little doubt upon the subject[132]; although
Philip, writing to his ambassador, says that the news he receives from
France is incompatible with Alençon’s visit to England on this occasion.

On the 1st of June, 1581, Marchaumont visited Castelnau, the
ambassador, who showed him a letter from a certain Cigogne, one of
Alençon’s gentlemen, giving him intelligence of his master’s movements.
The Duke had embarked at Dieppe at six o’clock on the morning of the
28th of May, and after knocking about in the Channel for five hours
very seasick, had to return to land. He had then ridden with all his
suite to Evereux whence he had sent Cigogne to inform his brother of
his going to England, and had then himself started on horseback with
a very small company towards Boulogne. The faithful “monk” at once
hastened to the Queen with the news, which she had already heard
elsewhere. She appeared overjoyed at the coming of her suitor, and she
was for sending Stafford at once to greet him. But de Bex was sent to
Dover instead, bearing a written message from the Queen, couched in the
most loving terms,[133] and rooms were ordered secretly to be prepared
for the Prince in Marchaumont’s chambers. On the afternoon of the 2nd
of June the visitor came up the Thames with the tide, evading the spies
whom the King’s envoys had posted everywhere, and was safely lodged
in the apartments destined for him in the Queen’s garden. Immediately
afterwards one of his gentlemen entered the presence-chamber as if he
had just come from France (as indeed he had) bringing letters from his
master to the Queen, and Marchaumont sent to Leicester the agreed token
of his coming, namely, a jet ring. This strange prank of the young
Prince upset all calculations. He had come without his brother’s prior
knowledge or permission and without consultation with the ambassadors,
the whole affair having been managed by Marchaumont over their heads.
Says Mendoza, writing to Philip a day or two after his arrival: “No
man, great or small, can believe that he has come to be married, nor
can they imagine that she will marry him because he has come. It may
be suspected that her having persuaded him to come with hopes that
they two together would settle matters better than could be done by
the intervention of his brother’s ministers, had been the motive which
brought him.”

The fact is that Henry III. had shown his hand. Alençon’s levies had
been attacked by the King’s troops, and it was evident that unless he
consented to forego his ambition and again become the laughing-stock
of the mignons he must cleave to the Queen of England, marriage or
no marriage. This she knew better than any one, and it was this for
which she had been playing. If the French under Alençon went to the
Netherlands to weaken Spain, they would go in her interest and at her
behest, and not in those of France. No words accordingly could be too
sweet for her to greet her lover, no promises too brilliant which
could pledge him to go in person to relieve Cambrai, notwithstanding
the pressure to the contrary from his mother and brother. Leicester,
Hatton, and Walsingham, who feared their mistress’s impressionable
nature, were frightened when Alençon appeared, and began as usual to
stir up discontent of the match. “If he came to marry the Queen,” said
the people, “he ought to have come as the brother of a king should do
and with proper means, whereas if he did not come to marry, they needed
no poor Frenchmen in this country.” Money and support for Cambrai were
liberally promised by the Queen if Alençon would only go back again
as quickly as he came and undertake the relief in person. So after
only two nights’ stay in London he dropped down the river, unseen by
any of his countrymen except Marchaumont and de Bex, and went back to
France. No sooner was he gone than the envoys came out of their hiding
again and boldly averred, with the aid of Leicester and his friends,
that he had not been in England at all; and the hollow negotiations
to cover their retreat were once more resumed. The capitulations
with the nullifying letter were signed, sealed, and delivered,[134]
and the pompous embassy took its departure on the 12th of June, much
less hopeful of the result of the mission than when it started. They
were loaded with gifts, cloyed with fine words, and some of them even
cajoled into the idea that Elizabeth was a Catholic at heart; but
whatever the young figureheads may have thought, statesmen like Pinart,
Brisson, and La Mothe, knew full well by this time that the marriage
was all moonshine. Sussex of course threw all the blame on Leicester,
and tried to arouse the indignation of the French against him, whilst
Leicester boldly said the Queen had never intended to marry, and those
who said she did only wished to bring about a quarrel between England
and France. The Spanish ambassador, too, ever busy at mischief, was
trying his best by means of willing tools to embitter French feeling
at the way in which a great nation had been flouted, as he said, to
magnify the Queen’s importance and feed her insatiable vanity.

When Catharine had gone to see her younger son at his town of Alençon
late in May, she had spent five days in fruitless entreaty to him not
to imperil the future of his country by entering Flanders. But she
found him obdurate, and returned in despair to Chenonceaux, whilst he
took his flying visit to England. But the violent measures adopted by
Henry III. against his brother frightened the poor lady, who once more
had to journey to St. Germain to endeavour to patch up some sort of
peace between the brothers. The King was irreconcilable for a time,
but when his mother threatened to abandon him for good and set out for
Chenonceaux he soon followed her, and the result of their long private
conferences was that Catharine again hurried north to meet Alençon and
exacted from him a promise that he would go and see his brother at St.
Germain before taking any active steps to relieve Cambrai. But Alençon
distrusted his brother and preferred to stay safely at Chateau-Thierry,
awaiting the aid promised to him by the English Queen. Elizabeth,
however, was determined if possible to obtain the co-operation of the
King of France, or at all events a promise of neutrality before she
flew in the face of Spain to the extent of aiding Alençon to enter
Flanders, and she sent Somers, late in June, to sound Henry III. as to
his intentions. He and Cobham, the English ambassador, found the French
king and his mother diplomatic and evasive, but they made it clear
that the marriage must precede all other negotiations, and that the
King would take no steps against Spanish interests unless conjointly
with England after the marriage. When Alençon learnt this at Mantes
he instructed Marchaumont to assure the Queen that he had resolutely
refused to delay the relief of Cambrai, and to beg her to urge his
brother to help him, at least by sending Marshal de Cossé to guide
him in his military actions. He was more ardent for the conclusion of
the marriage than ever, and the moment he could get away he would fly
to the Queen’s side. But this did not suit Elizabeth at all. It was
clear that it might mean ruin to her if she were driven into open war
with Spain whilst France, under the guidance of the Guises, was free
to join or make terms with the other side. So she wrote an extremely
interesting letter on the 21st of July[135] to Alençon in which once
more her tone is completely changed. The time has come, she says, when
she can speak plainly to him. Nothing in the world can bring her so
much sorrow as to be unable to pass the few years of life remaining
to her in the company of him she loves most in the world, who has
sought her in so many honourable ways. She is sure that grief alone
will be her future portion in the world, not only by reason of her
being deprived of the society of him she most highly esteems, but
also because she will be accused of ingratitude, of which she has the
greatest horror. It appears, however, by the King’s answers to Somers,
that the marriage can only take place in conjunction with a joint war
of England and France against Spain in the Netherlands. She has striven
all her life, and successfully, to secure peace for her people, and
to make her marriage a war-cry would alienate them from her and it,
and she cannot do it. But still in order that he may see she has not
forsaken him, and to prevent the Spaniards from entirely having their
wicked way in the Netherlands, she is sending Walsingham to France to
persuade the King how necessary it is for him to help his brother in
his noble task. This must have appeared plain enough to the suitor as
meaning that France must pull the chestnuts out of the fire for her,
and Elizabeth probably thought it was rather too blunt, for she has
added in her own hand these words: “Ne pences pas que chose du monde me
changera de vous demourer telle que prendra toujours part de vostre
fortune, voyr la plus mauvaise; et que si le corps me soit, l’ame vous
est toute dédié, comme ces tabliers vous tesmoignent.”

When at a subsequent stage the Queen found fault with some of
Walsingham’s proceedings, he wrote to her, recapitulating her private
instructions to him on his mission, and we are therefore in possession
of her real intentions at the time.[136] He says: “The principal cause
why I was sent over was to procure a straiter degree of amity between
the King and you without marriage, and yet to carry myself in the
procuring thereof, as might not altogether break off the marriage.”

[Illustration]



[Illustration]

CHAPTER XII.

  Walsingham’s mission to France--His alarm of the consequences of
      the Queen’s fickleness--Alençon enters Flanders--Relief of
      Cambrai--Alençon entreats Elizabeth’s aid--Walsingham’s
      remonstrance to the Queen for her penuriousness--Alençon
      again visits England--Elizabeth’s severity to the Catholics
      during his stay--Leicester’s continued intrigues--The
      Queen’s solemn pledge to marry Alençon--Dismay of Leicester
      and his friends--The Queen’s recantation--Arrival of
      Secretary Pinart--Elizabeth’s plan to evade the marriage--
      Her correspondence with Simier--He arrives in England again
      --Elizabeth’s efforts to get rid of Alençon--He refuses to
      leave unless she marries him--Simier’s advice to the Queen.


When Walsingham landed at Boulogne he found a message from Alençon
at Chateau-Thierry asking him to meet him and his mother at La Fère
before going to see the King. This he did, where he was met by the
Duke with complaints and reproaches at the indefinite postponement of
the marriage by the Queen until a national alliance had been effected.
He told Walsingham that he could never get the King to consent to an
alliance unless the marriage took place first, as the King feared
that when they had pledged him too far for him to draw back the Queen
would slip out of it and leave France alone face to face with Spain.
The efforts of Catharine and her adviser, Turenne, were directed to
obtaining at least a money subsidy to Alençon first, which would have
pledged Elizabeth to some extent; but Walsingham was too discreet to
be drawn, and tried to get an arrangement which should embark France
in the business before England was compromised. Catharine said she was
well aware of the need for concerted action, but she was afraid, as
Elizabeth had apparently thrown over the marriage for fear of offending
her subjects, she might afterwards throw over the alliance for the same
reason.

It is easy to see that both sides were finessing with the same object,
namely, to throw upon the other the burden and onus of curbing the
power of Spain, which they both feared; and when Catharine saw she
could make nothing of Walsingham or his mistress, she played her trump
card, with which she had come to La Fère fully prepared. She promised
Alençon that if he would abandon his attempt, the Prince of Parma would
retire from Cambrai, Alençon should marry the infanta, gain the support
and friendship of Spain, obtain a larger dotation from his brother, and
receive the investure of the sovereign states of Saluzzo and Provence.
But Alençon could not trust Spain and the Guises, and refused the
tempting bait. Cecil and Elizabeth mistrusted the presence of Catharine
near her son, and fearing that he might at last cede to her influence,
had sent a considerable sum of money by Walsingham, according to
Mendoza, to help Alençon to make masked war upon Spain, without
pledging England or drawing the Queen into war through the marriage.
Alençon was angry at this suggestion, and said that he would take no
such answer, which was quite at variance with the Queen’s own words.
He threatened and stormed until Walsingham almost lost his temper, and
Sir James Crofts told Mendoza that when the Queen received the news of
this “she wept like a child, saying that she did not know what to do,
or into what trouble Leicester had drawn her.” Walsingham also reported
that the King of France was extremely offended that after so grand an
embassy had been sent to England only Walsingham should be sent in
return, “and that if he could manage to have him put out of the way he
would attempt it.” Lord Henry Howard was at once sent off with a loving
message to Alençon to mollify him, and urgent new instructions were
despatched to Walsingham in Paris to bring the marriage forward again
on any terms. But no sooner were Walsingham, Cobham, and the French
ministers in conference to settle the terms of an alliance which was
to accompany a marriage, than Alençon sent, by de Vray, peremptorily
refusing to have anything to do with an alliance. It must, he said, be
a marriage pure and simple first, and after that they could make what
leagues they pleased, but he was sure that if the endless negotiations
for an alliance had to be settled first he should never be married
at all. All things were therefore again brought to a standstill, and
Walsingham and Cobham wrote a most serious, almost vehement, memorandum
to the Queen warning her of the danger of her fickle course.[137] They
entreated her to make up her mind one way or the other. The French will
think they are being played with and will be greatly exasperated.
France, Spain, and Scotland will all be against us, and then God alone
can help us. Surely they say the only question is one of expense, and
it is “very hard that treasure should be preferred before safety. I
beseech your Majesty that without offence I may tell you that your
loathness to spend even when it concerns your safety is publicly
delivered out here.... For the love of God, madame, look into your own
estate, and think that there can grow no peril so great unto you as to
have a war break out in your own realm, considering what a number of
evil subjects you have; and you cannot redeem this peril at too high
a price.” In another letter to Cecil, Walsingham complains bitterly
of the task that is set for him. I would rather, he says, be shut up
in the Tower than be an English ambassador abroad. These constant
variations discredit us and shock the King.

Suddenly, towards the middle of August, 1581, Alençon crossed the
frontier into Spanish Flanders with a fine army of 12,000 infantry
and 5,000 Cavalry, in which were enrolled half the young nobility of
France as volunteers, notwithstanding the King’s anathemas. Parma at
once raised the siege of Cambrai and stood on the defensive, and the
whole position was changed in a moment. The King of France felt, or
at least expressed, the utmost alarm at his brother’s action, lest he
should be drawn into the quarrel. Elizabeth, on the other hand, was no
less apprehensive that the King, the Guises, and the Catholics might
be after all behind the movement. She, however, was soon tranquillised
on this score, and wrote a loving letter of congratulation.[138] No
sooner was Alençon in Cambrai than he found himself without money. If
the States will not aid me, he wrote to the Prince of Orange, I can go
no further. But the attempt had been made without the open patronage of
the Queen of England, and the Protestant States would do nothing. De
Bex was sent off post-haste by Alençon to take her the news, and to beg
for 300,000 crowns, “as he had spent all his own money in the relief,
and neither the States nor his brother would give him a penny. If she
did not provide him with money he should be obliged to return with his
army to France without going any further.”[139]

Marchaumont continued to urge his master’s need for money, and besides
the £22,000 which had been taken by Walsingham a further sum of
£20,000 in gold was secretly sent from Drake’s plunder to Alençon. But
Elizabeth herself was somewhat short of money, and still not without
suspicion, besides which she had no intention whatever of defraying
the whole expense of Alençon’s army, and would send him no more money.
Things went from bad to worse. The French troops deserted in bodies
and fell to pillage; the young noblemen slipped back over the frontier
by hundreds. By the first week in September Alençon had retired to
Chatelet, leaving a garrison in Cambrai; only 3,000 of his men remained
with him, and he sent again de Bex to the Queen to beg for more help
before they were all gone. His victory at Cambrai he attributes all to
the “belle jartière,” which he says he will never surrender whilst he
lives, nor the desire to see again “vostre belle Majesté a la quelle
pour la hate de ce porteur je me contenteré de bayzer les belles mins
et les belles greves qui ont porté la belle jartière.” But the Queen
was not to be wheedled out of her money by talk about the beautiful
garter, and Marchaumont began to hint that his master’s only course
would be to once more cross the Channel and press his own suit.

In the meanwhile Walsingham was making no progress in Paris, and the
Queen as usual was reproaching in no measured terms. Walsingham, who
knew his mistress well, gave her on this occasion at least as good as
she sent.[140] He told her bluntly that if she was sincere about the
marriage she was losing time she could ill spare; whilst, if otherwise,
it “is the worst remedy you can use.” “Sometimes when your Majesty doth
behold in what doubtful terms you stand with foreign princes, then
you do wish with great affection that opportunities offered had not
been overslipped; but when they are offered to you, accompanied with
charges, they are altogether neglected. The respect of charges hath
lost Scotland, and I would to God I had no cause to think it might
put your Highness in peril of the loss of England.” He reproaches her
almost rudely for her niggardliness, which he compares with the wise
liberality of her predecessors where expenditure was needful for the
safety of the realm. “If this sparing and provident course be held
on still, the mischiefs approaching being so apparent as they are,
there is no one that serveth in place of councillor ... who would not
wish himself rather in the farthest part of Ethiopia than enjoy the
fairest palace in England.” On his way back to England Walsingham
saw Alençon at Abbeville, in Picardy, and rather encouraged the Duke
in his desire to come to England again. It is evident that, much as
Walsingham was attached to Leicester, he was in grave alarm that the
Protestant religion, to which he was devoted, might be overborne by the
threatened union against England of the Catholic powers, and at this
time would have gladly welcomed the marriage of the Queen and Alençon,
which would have prevented France from joining the coalition and have
banished the danger. When Walsingham arrived in London at the end of
September, however, he found the Queen very strongly opposed to her
suitor’s proposed visit, not wishing to have her hands forced in this
way. She told Marchaumont that his master must not come on any account,
or a rising of the people might be feared, so angry were they at the
idea of the match. On the other hand, both Marchaumont and Castelnau,
the ambassador, took care to spread broadcast the intelligence that
the Duke would soon be here; and when no open discontent ensued they
pointed out that the Queen’s fears were groundless. Leicester, as
usual, tried to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds, to retain
French bribes and yet to stand in the way of French objects. Mendoza
says that he took good care to turn the Queen against Alençon’s coming,
but as soon as he was sure that his efforts were effectual he went out
of town and hypocritically professed to the French that Hatton and
Walsingham alone were to blame for the opposition.

But by the end of October the Queen’s apprehensions seem to have been
dissipated. Walsingham must have made it clear to her that unless
the marriage were again taken up with some show of sincerity she had
no chance of getting the close understanding with France which was
necessary to her plans. She had, moreover, spent large sums of money
in Flanders, which she could never get back unless the States could
be enabled to hold their own, and she accordingly decided to make the
best of Alençon’s coming in the assurance that, if the worst came
to the worst, she could avoid a marriage by supplying funds for his
maintenance in Flanders.

Shortly before the Duke’s arrival the “monk” (Marchaumont) wrote to de
Bex saying that every one, from the Queen downwards, was expecting his
Highness’s arrival with pleasure, but he hints that he had better make
haste as the Spanish ambassador was making certain proposals to the
Queen; which we now know to be true.[141] He says that even Leicester
had now been won over, his only fear being that if the marriage took
place his bitter enemy, Simier, might come, who, he was sure, would
plot his ruin. This state of things had not been brought about without
a good deal of friction. Several sums of money had been sent by the
Queen with the hope of staving off the visit, but with no effect. The
Queen had a great row with Walsingham in consequence of mischief-making
of Sussex, who had shown Marchaumont a letter written by Walsingham
from France, containing some slighting expressions towards Alençon
which had been repeated to the Queen; “although,” says Mendoza, “some
people think that it is all put on, and that she herself ordered
Walsingham to write this so as to hinder the marriage, as she is a
woman very fond of adopting such tricks. At all events Walsingham
takes very little notice of her anger, and Alençon turns a deaf ear
to everything, and only asks for money, whilst Marchaumont keeps
the negotiation alive by pressing for a decision with regard to the
marriage.”

The Queen had lent Marchaumont a small house attached to her own palace
at Richmond, to which entrance could be gained through it by means of
a connecting gallery. Two chambers were refurnished and warmed in this
house for the Prince’s use, the Earl of Arundel (son of the attainted
and executed Duke of Norfolk) and his uncle, Lord Harry Howard, were
charged by the Queen to make all arrangements for his comfort; and her
Majesty herself superintended the installation in one of the rooms of
a crimson bed, which she told Marchaumont archly that his master would
recognise. A day or so before the Duke was expected Marchaumont wrote
to de Bex, who was with his master on his journey hither, that he
learnt by a message the Queen had sent him “that every hour seemed a
month to her so anxious was she to see her lover, for whose reception
great preparations had been made, although the Queen will pretend that
nothing special had been done.”[142]

When Walsingham had seen the Prince in France the latter had expressed
a desire to rest a day and a night in Walsingham’s house in London
before going to see the Queen at Richmond, but when the time
approached for the visit Walsingham managed to avoid the trouble of
entertaining the guest by saying that the plague was raging round the
house, and it was settled that he should be lodged for the night in
the house of Sir Edward Stafford, the son of Elizabeth’s friend and
Mistress of the Robes. “But I need not tell you,” says Marchaumont to
de Bex, “to keep strict secrecy as to the Prince’s movements, for if
Lady Stafford knows anything it will be easier to stem a torrent than
to stop the woman’s tongue.”

Alençon embarked from Calais at the end of October, 1581, having met
the Portuguese pretender, Don Antonio, before going on board, and
promised him to plead his cause with the English Queen. The heavy
weather necessitated his anchoring in the Downs instead of entering
Dover, and it was only at the cost of some risk and trouble that he
landed. Leaving the Prince Dauphin and most of his suite of gentlemen
to follow him, he pressed on in disguise with de Bex to London, where
he arrived and slept at Stafford’s house on the night of the 1st of
November. The next morning he started off to see the Queen privately
at Richmond, the first public reception being fixed for the 3rd of
November, when the Prince Dauphin and the rest of the suite were
fetched from London in the Queen’s state coaches. It was, in truth,
high time the Prince came, for the Queen was very much out of temper
with him and every one else. She complained to Castelnau that the
Prince had acted in Flanders without her permission, that the King
of France was intriguing with Spain for her ruin, that the States
were a lot of drunkards, who only thought of borrowing money and not
paying it back. She was too old, she said, to be played with, and
would let them all see it. But when her young lover came she was full
of smiles and blandishments. Fortunately he had plenty of money with
him--money, however, brought to him by St. Aldegonde, at Calais,
collected by the sorely pressed Flemings for the support of his army,
and not to be squandered in England; but he bribed the ladies and
the councillors liberally with it. At first all went as merrily as
a marriage-bell. The Queen again took to calling Alençon her little
Moor, her little Italian, her little frog, and so on; whilst she,
as before, was to him all the orbs of the firmament. Leicester was
radiant, however, which was a bad sign, and Sussex was in the sulks,
which was equally so; but the French, and Alençon himself, grew more
and more confident of success. The Queen was playing her usual game,
and Leicester understood it perfectly, but she could not help having
her fling at Walsingham when he tried clumsily to humour her. He was
praising the good parts and understanding of Alençon one day to the
Queen, and said that the only thing against him was his ugly face.
“Why, you knave,” she replied, “you were for ever speaking ill of him
before: you veer round like a weathercock.”[143] At the same time all
sorts of scandalous tittle-tattle began to arise. Every morning little
love-letters signed “your prince frog,” were sent from Alençon to the
Queen, and Lippomano, the Venetian ambassador, assures the Doge and
Senate that the Queen entered his chamber every morning before he
was out of bed, and brought him a cup of broth. He was with her, says
Mendoza, all day and every day, no one being present but Sussex and
Stafford, and even they were not allowed to hear their conversation.
In order to allay the fears of her Protestant subjects, some of whom
were grumbling because Alençon heard mass daily, unwonted severity
was used towards the Catholics during Alençon’s visit, and the Jesuit
priests Campion, Sherwin, and Briant, were executed at Tyburn under
circumstances of the most heartrending cruelty. The Spanish ambassador
at last got somewhat anxious, and by Philip’s orders began to approach
Cecil with suggestions of the falsity of Frenchmen and the advisability
of a close union between England and Spain, all injuries on each
side being forgiven and forgotten. He went to the length, indeed, of
hinting that the French were intriguing with Mary of Scotland under
cover of the marriage negotiations, although he himself at the time
was plotting with and for her. But Cecil was a match for him, and let
him understand that the friendship proposed was more necessary for
Spain than it was for England. The position at the time of Alençon’s
visit is well summarised by Mendoza in a letter to King Philip[144]
as follows: “As soon as the Queen learnt that Alençon had arrived,
she said to certain of the councillors separately that they must
consider what would have to be done with him; to which they replied
that they could hardly do that unless she made her own intentions upon
the subject clear. To this she answered that she was quite satisfied
with the person of Alençon. When he arrived here he told those who
he knew were in his favour that he would not go out in public nor
undertake any other affairs until he had settled with the Queen the
subject about which he came. If this be so, present indications prove
that he has got an affirmative answer, as he now shows himself almost
publicly, and appears to be in high spirits, all the principal people
at Court being allowed to see him at dinner and supper. Leicester
leaves nothing undone, and in the absence of the Prince Dauphin, always
hands Alençon the napkin, publicly declaring that there seems to be no
other way for the Queen to secure the tranquillity of England but for
her to marry Alençon; and Walsingham says the same. The Frenchmen who
came with him, and the ambassadors who were here before, look upon the
marriage as an accomplished fact, but the English in general scoff at
it, saying that he is only after money, and that he has already begged
the Queen to give him £100,000 and 4,000 men to aid your Majesty’s
rebels. The principal Englishmen indeed are saying that if he wanted a
regular pension they would grant him £20,000 a year, so there are more
indications of money being given him than anything else. It is certain
that the Queen will do her best to avoid offending him, and to pledge
him in the affairs of the Netherlands, in order to drive his brother
into a rupture with your Majesty, which is her great object, whilst
she keeps her hands free, and can stand by looking on at the war.” Few
men were better informed than Mendoza; part of the Privy Council was
in his pay, and the most secret information was conveyed to him at
once by his spies, who were everywhere. He was, moreover, one of the
most keen-sighted statesmen of his time, and we may accept his opinion
therefore, confirmed as it is by much other evidence, that up to this
time (November 11th) Elizabeth was once more playing her old trick, and
befooling Alençon and the French.

When Leicester thought that matters were going a little too far he
persuaded the Queen to urge her lover to start at once for Flanders,
for which purpose she would give him three ships and £30,000, in order
to receive the oath of allegiance which the States were offering him,
and then to return and marry her; but Sussex saw through the device,
and privately warned Alençon that whatever pledges might be made to
him now, he might be convinced that if once he went away without being
married the marriage would never take place. He entreated him on no
account to be driven out of England, and as Alençon well knew that
Sussex at least was honest in his desire to see the Queen married and
freed from the baleful influence of Leicester, he put his back to the
wall and plainly told the Queen that not only would he refuse to leave
England, but he would not ever vacate the rooms in her palace until she
had given him a definite answer as to whether she would marry him or
not. Crofts, the privy councillor in Philip’s pay, told Mendoza that
“when the Queen and Alençon were alone together she pledges herself to
him to his heart’s content, and as much as any woman could to a man,
but she will not have anything said publicly.”

Things were thus getting to a deadlock again. The King of France wrote
to the Queen saying that under no circumstances, whether his brother
married or not, would he help him against Spain in the Netherlands, and
the Queen-mother began pressing her son with all sorts of promises,
to return and abandon his hopeless quest before he became the
laughing-stock of the world. This of course made the Queen warmer in
her protestations, and by the third week in November she had contrived
to convince Alençon again of her sincerity. He at once wrote off to
his brother, requesting that commissioners might be sent to settle the
conditions of the treaty which had been discussed with Walsingham when
he was in France. The Queen encouraged him to do this, knowing full
well that Henry III. would refuse to take his brother’s unsupported
word as to her _bona fides_, and send another embassy, whilst his
refusal to do so would furnish her if necessary with an excuse for
proceeding no further in the matter.

On November 21, 1581, the Queen and Court moved to Whitehall, where
Alençon was lodged in the garden-house, and on the following morning
--coronation day--he and the Queen were walking in the gallery,
Walsingham and Leicester being present, when Castelnau, the French
ambassador, entered, and said that he had been commanded by his master
to learn from her own lips what her intentions were with regard to
her marrying the King’s brother. Either because she was driven into
a corner from which there was no other escape, or because once more
her passions overcame her, she unhesitatingly replied to Castelnau,
“You may write this to the King: that the Duke of Alençon shall be my
husband, and at the same moment she turned to Alençon and kissed him
on the mouth, drawing a ring from her own hand and giving it to him
as a pledge. Alençon gave her a ring of his in return, and shortly
afterwards the Queen summoned the ladies and gentlemen from the
presence-chamber to the gallery, repeating to them in a loud voice in
Alençon’s presence what she had previously said.”[145]

The French were naturally elated at this, and Alençon at once sent
off the great news to his brother, but the feeling amongst the
courtiers was very different. Leicester and Hatton were in dismay;
they had felt certain hitherto that the Queen was only play-acting,
but surely matters were getting serious, and tears, lamentations, and
reproaches, were the order of the day. But the Queen was playing her
own game, and sage old Cecil was perhaps the only one of her advisers
who really understood her move. He was ill in bed with the gout at
the time, and was chatting with a couple of gossips when the message
reached him. Instead of dismay he expressed great satisfaction, and
placed the matter at once in its true light. “Thank God,” he said,
“the Queen, for her part, has done all that she can; it is for the
country now to take the matter in hand.” This meant that the Queen,
ever evasive of responsibility, had shifted the onus upon Parliament,
which had been summoned for the 6th of December. There was not the
slightest need for Parliament to be consulted at all, but Elizabeth had
been driven into a corner by Alençon’s presence and persistence and
the immovable determination of his brother to stand aloof until the
marriage had taken place. By taking the course she did, she artfully
attained three objects which could have been compassed by no other
way short of marriage: she secured further delay without offence to
the King, she personally bound Alençon to her, come what might, and,
most important of all, she sowed the germ of discord between him and
his brother, who now appeared the principal obstacle to the marriage,
as he refused the terms demanded by the English (which Parliament
would be asked to insist upon) before the marriage could take place.
Having the most secret correspondence before our eyes now, we are able
to see clearly that this was the clever plan of the Queen herself;
but her most intimate contemporaries were puzzled and disturbed at
her apparent instability. The balance of opinion was that the Queen
had been caught at last, and had pledged herself too deeply to draw
back, although Leicester, after his first dismay was over, went about
industriously spreading a contrary view. He and Hatton, however, were
not so reassured as they would have had it appear. Hatton went to
the Queen, and with many tears and sighs boldly told her that even
if she wanted herself to marry, she ought to consider the grief she
was bringing upon the country by doing so, not to mention what might
happen to her personally if she married against the will of her people,
upon whose affection the security of her throne depended. This almost
seditious speech at another time would have aroused Elizabeth to
fury, and consigned her “sheep” Hatton, to the Tower, but the Queen
was quite confident in her game and only smiled and petted her future
Lord Chancellor. Leicester, by right of his greater intimacy with his
mistress, was blunter in his reproaches. He asked her point blank
whether she was a maid or a married woman, to which she replied that
she was a maid, as the conditions upon which she gave the marriage
pledge would never be fulfilled. He told her that she had acted very
unwisely in carrying the matter so far and so ostentatiously, and they
put their heads together there and then to devise some scheme by which
the Queen’s words might be minimised, probably solely at Leicester’s
instance, and contrary to her own better judgment, as her plans were
well laid. A message was therefore sent to Alençon, saying that the
Queen had been pondering about the ring she had given him, and she
felt sure that if she married him she would not have long to live.
He might, she said, see that for himself, as he was a witness of the
dissatisfaction of the English people at her attachment to him, which
attachment she hoped he did not wish to be fatal to her. She prayed
him therefore to let the matter rest for the present, and there was
nothing in her country she would refuse him. She would be more attached
to him as a friend, even than if he were her husband. Walsingham took
this message, and whilst he was with the Prince the latter remained
calm. All he had said and done, he protested, was solely to please
the Queen, whose death, very far from desiring, he would imperil his
own life to avert and to give her pleasure, as, indeed, he was doing
now to save her from annoyance by refraining from pressing his suit
with less ardour at her request.[146] But as soon as Walsingham was
gone the young Prince lost all control over himself. He saw now how
he had been tricked; it was too late to prevent the coming of the
commissioners whom his brother had despatched to England to finally
settle the conditions, and in his rage he cursed the inconstancy of
woman, tore the ring from his finger and cast it upon the ground.[147]
He told Elizabeth he would leave at once, hinted at revenge for his
and his country’s slighted honour, and again brought matters to a
crisis. Then Elizabeth saw that her complaisancy to Leicester had led
her into a false position, and once more resumed her original plan.
She mollified and lulled the Duke into a fool’s paradise again with:
“nouvelles démonstrations accompagnées de baisers, privautés, caresses,
et mignardises ordinaries aux amants.” She received the King’s envoy,
Secretary Pinart, with new protestations of her desire to marry,
and appointed a committee of the Council, consisting of the Lord
Chancellor, Cecil, Sussex, and Leicester to discuss the _pourparlers_
with him. She asked them first to report their opinion to her, as,
desirous as she was of the marriage, she would not entertain it if
she was not satisfied that it was for the benefit of her country; but
they knew she was playing her own game, of which most of them did not
see the drift, and were determined to avoid giving any opinion which
might offend and hamper her. In the meanwhile Leicester, through his
agents, was stirring up the Protestants to distrust and hatred of the
match, whilst the host of Catholic sympathisers in the interests of
Spain were equally working against it on the ground that Alençon had
not raised a finger to save the lives of his co-religionists who had
been martyred whilst he had been in England. Matters therefore did
not look particularly promising when the Council met Pinart early in
December, although Alençon himself had been petted into hopefulness.
The English began by advancing claims for all sorts of impossible
conditions and assurances, and after succeeding in making the marriage
appear impracticable they proposed that in lieu of marriage they should
give Alençon a regular subsidy for his Netherlands projects if the
King of France would also support his brother. This had been proposed
and refused in different forms time after time, and Pinart, who was
an old diplomatist, at once retorted that he had come to settle the
marriage and nothing else; if the marriage was not to take place all
negotiations must cease, and he must go back. Catharine was equally
disillusioned, and told Priuli, the Venetian ambassador in France,
that although Alençon had given the Queen’s ring back again, she
attached no importance to it, as the gift of a ring did not constitute
a binding engagement. “Queen Elizabeth, she said, is very artful, and
my son is very young. He has allowed himself to be drawn by her into
this adventure, in spite of all our arguments and advice; he is being
overwhelmed with entertainments, and he has just written to me that he
still has hope.”[148]

[Illustration: François de Valois, Duke of Alençon.]

The next day there was a meeting of the Council, where it was proposed
to settle matters by granting to Alençon a pension of 10,000 marks
a year, the King of France a subsidy of £100,000, and the States
£80,000 on condition of a similar amount being contributed by the
King for the purpose of making war upon Spain in the Netherlands
under the leadership of Alençon. If the King of France refused this
it was proposed to make an immediate grant of £200,000 to Alençon,
in consideration of the relief of Cambrai, and that the marriage
negotiations be dropped. This was Leicester’s plan, who undertook to
answer for Alençon’s acquiescence and the raising of the money by
privy-seal loans and exchequer bills, but when they sent the proposal
to the Queen as the result of their deliberation she was furious.
Her plans were working as she intended them to work, and she could
throw the whole blame for the failure of her marriage upon the King
of France, whilst raising enmity between him and his brother, and
pledging Alençon to her hard and fast without marriage. And yet these
dense councillors of hers, and jealous, shallow Leicester, would keep
thwarting her with their officious interference. Cecil was the only
one who refused to do so, and always had a diplomatic attack of gout
at critical times. Crofts gave an account to Mendoza of the way in
which the Queen received the proposal of her Council. “She made, he
says, a great show of anger and annoyance, saying that her councillors
only thought of their own profit, wasting the substance of the country
without reflection, and buying, under cover of her authority, that
which suited them best. As Alençon thought fit to forget her in
exchange for her money, she would neither marry him nor give him any
money, and he might do the best he could.” Then she sent for Alençon
and angrily told him the same, and a quarrel between them ensued.
When she had thus upset the results of her Council’s officiousness,
she began her own game again. Pinart had made clear to her that her
demands for the restitution of Calais, a rupture with Spain, and
the cessation of the old alliance between France and Scotland were
unreasonable, and that if the marriage were broken off in consequence
of such preposterous conditions the responsibility would be cast upon
her and not upon his master. So she harked back to somewhat more
moderate-sounding claims, which she knew would be also refused. She
said that she had given the ring and pledge to Alençon on condition
that he should make war on Spain in the Netherlands at the expense of
the King of France, whilst she sent assistance from England in form of
men. She said she had distinctly understood that this was to be the
condition of the marriage; but of course if the French King could not
fulfil it, there was the end of the matter. She was extremely sorry,
but it was not her fault if there was a misunderstanding, or the French
failed to carry out the condition, and she urged that Marchaumont, her
devoted “monk,” whose letters are only a degree less loving than those
of Simier, should be sent to Paris to urge this view upon the King and
his mother.

Marchaumont had long been tiring of his task in England, and had
not ceased to entreat his master to give him active employment, and
especially to bestow a stray abbey or two upon him instead of giving
everything to Fervaques and de Quincy. He assures Elizabeth that he has
received nothing in consequence of his attachment to her, which had
aroused the jealousy of his fellows, and he left England breathing vows
and protestations of his eternal devotion to her.[149]

Ever since Simier left England he had maintained a copious cipher
correspondence with Elizabeth, which is now at Hatfield, containing the
most minute details of Alençon’s movements and intentions, interspersed
with curious marks which presumably stand for kisses, twin hearts,
transfixed with Cupid’s darts and other lover-like devices. But amongst
his frantic, not to say impious, professions of adoration for the Queen
he continued to complain of the machinations of Fervaques, the Queen
of Navarre, and his other enemies who had brought about his disgrace
and ruin. Elizabeth, for her part, was for ever urging Alençon through
Marchaumont, and by her own letters to reinstate Simier in his good
graces. Sometimes more or less vague promises of acquiescence were
sent, sometimes the Prince told her that if she knew all she would not
be so warm in Simier’s defence, and sometimes the revenues and favours
now enjoyed by her favourite were detailed to prove that he had quite
as much as he could expect, but the net result was that Simier remained
in disgrace and Fervaques ruffled it more bravely than ever. At last
Simier appears to have got tired of obscurity and entreaty, and finding
he could get no more by serving Alençon, bethought him that he might
employ his great influence with the Queen in the service of Henry III.
The offers of such an instrument to mould events to the liking of the
King were eagerly accepted, and at first an attempt was made by Henry
and Catharine to induce Alençon to discard Fervaques and de Quincy
and take Simier back again. But, as Simier writes to the Queen, this
only made Alençon love them the more, for Queen Margaret’s influence
on her brother was too strong to be overcome. So when Fervaques,
Champvallon, Queen Margaret’s lover, and the rest of the crew, came
over with their master to England, Simier, with the King’s connivance,
followed them in order ostensibly to challenge his foe, but really to
watch Alençon’s negotiations from his point of vantage near the Queen,
and, if necessary, frustrate them in the King’s interest. With him he
took a second, another fire-eater named Baron de Viteau, and when the
challenge was sent to Fervaques, the latter, true to Gascon character,
would only accept a pitched battle with six on each side. This was
obviously impossible, as Simier had not six partisans in England, but
it gave Fervaques time to arrange with Leicester, who hated Simier
more bitterly than any one, to have the poor “ape” assassinated
in cold blood. Simier was attacked on the London 'Change by hired
cut-throats, but fortunately once more escaped. He again complained to
his protectress, whose rage knew no bounds. Calling Leicester to her,
she called him a murderous poltroon who was only fit for the gallows
and warned him and Alençon’s courtiers that if anything happened to
her “ape” in England they should suffer for it. Fervaques, rightly or
wrongly, thought that Simier had been warned of the plot by a certain
Lafin, with whom he consequently picked a quarrel in the palace itself.
Lafin fled, pursued by Fervaques with a drawn dagger, into the presence
of the Queen, who broke out into one of her uncontrollable rages at
such disrespect for her, and cried out that if Fervaques were one
of her subjects, she would soon have his head off. There were ample
materials, therefore for dissensions, and by the middle of December
Alençon had lost heart again. He earnestly pressed the Queen for an
answer, and a pledge that she would marry him if the King acceded
to her last demands. But she then advanced another claim which had
hitherto not been mentioned, namely, the suppression of the English
Jesuit seminary at Rheims. Alençon, anxious to make an end, asked her
whether if he obtained this concession she would bind herself to marry
him; but she still held back. Even in such case, she said, she would
have to consider very deeply whether it would be advisable for her to
change her state. This was mere trifling, and Alençon in despair begged
her to send an envoy to discuss these conditions with his brother, but
she replied that the King of France had better send one to her. Pinart
was still in England, although waiting and ready to depart, and he was
consequently delayed to discuss these new pretensions. In the meanwhile
news arrived of the fall of Tournai, and the States, at the end of
their wits and resources, sent a deputation to Alençon offering to
invest him at once, if he would come over, with the dukedom of Brabant,
which he had coveted from the first. This suited the Queen excellently,
as nothing was more likely to bring about a rupture between France
and Spain, but it would never do to let the future sovereign of the
Netherlands leave her in dudgeon, or the control might slip through her
fingers after all. So she at once changed her tone. Ships were made
ready with furious haste, money, munitions, and men were promised in
his aid, and every inducement was offered for him to accept the States’
invitation; whilst at the same time the Queen, with sighs and feigned
tears, entreated her lover not to leave her, but if he must go to
promise her faithfully soon to come back again. Alençon replied that he
would not return unless she now gave an unconditional promise to marry
him. But this was no part of the Queen’s programme, and she evaded the
question with her usual dexterity.

On the 20th of December all was ready for the Duke’s departure. The
vessels were awaiting him, and some of his baggage and household
had started; a grand farewell supper was laid for him and the Queen
at Cobham House, near Gravesend, where he was to take leave of her,
and he was about to embark in the barges which were to convey him
from Greenwich, when a strong north-east gale sprang up and blew
continuously for many days, and prevented his departure.

Mendoza says that although she displayed publicly great grief at his
going, in the privacy of her own chamber she danced for very joy at
getting rid of him. One day during his detention he reproached her for
letting him go so easily. He saw now, he said, that she did not love
him much, and that she was tired of him, as she was sending him away
openly discarded. She protested with an abundance of sounding oaths
that she had only been induced to let him go for his own gratification
and not for hers, and that she was sorry he was going so soon. She did
not mean it, of course, but it was enough for Alençon, who seized the
opportunity at once. “No! no! Madame,” said he, “you are mine, as I
can prove by letters and words you have written to me, confirmed by
the gift of the ring, of which I sent intelligence to my brother, my
mother, and the princes of France, and all those who were present at
our interviews are ready to bear testimony. If I cannot get you for my
wife by fair means and affection I must do so by force, for I will not
leave this country without you.” The Queen was much perturbed at this,
and exclaimed that she had never written anything which she could not
justify. She did not care, she said, what interpretation people chose
to put upon her letters, as she knew her own intentions better than any
one else could; and as for the ring, it was only a pledge of perpetual
friendship and of a conditional contract, dependent upon his brother
the King acceding to her conditions, which she was quite sure he never
would do. She repeated her repugnance to entering the married state,
but softened the blow by saying that there was nothing she desired more
than that he should stay in England as her brother, friend, and good
companion, but not as her husband.[150] Alençon was deeply grieved at
all this, but it ended in a promise that after the new year’s holidays
she would see what help she could give him in his enterprise, and with
this he was perforce to appear content. But withal, Alençon’s fresh
talk of remaining in England disturbed her, especially as Cobham in
Paris sent her news that the King was anxious to prolong negotiations
in order to keep him there and prevent his going to Flanders. So she
instructed Cecil to inflame his ambition for the great career there
open to him, and at the same time sent for Simier to contrive with
him how she best might get him gone. Simier had told her that if she
really wished to avoid the marriage she need only stand fast to the
conditions she had demanded from the King of France as a preliminary.
She repeated to him her last demands, and said she was sure the King
would not consent to break with Spain and bear the whole cost of the
war without any contribution from her, and this would furnish her with
the excuse she sought after, while she might make a show of approaching
Spain, and this would ensure Alençon’s recall and the cessation of
the marriage negotiations. Simier, after all, said he was not so sure
of this. Alençon was such an evil weed that his brother might consent
to anything to get rid of him from France. “Well,” replied the Queen,
“I do not believe the King will grant such terms, but even if he do
I shall find a way out of it.” And then she and Simier began to make
merry at the fine gallant who would so readily give up his lady-love
in consideration of a money payment. I offered him, she said, so much
a month, and it has brightened him up to such an extent that you would
not know him. But as soon as he is once across the sea I will tell him
my Council will not agree to the arrangement, on the ground that my
country cannot without unduly weakening itself provide so large a sum,
and that the people would not allow it.[151] Both Elizabeth and Cecil
were strongly of opinion that whilst she held large sums of money she
would remain mistress of the situation, and whatever promises were held
out to Alençon to induce him to embark in the enterprise, the intention
always was to dole out the subsidies to him as sparingly as possible.



[Illustration]

CHAPTER XIII.

  Simier and his former master--Alençon’s altercation with the
      Queen--The Queen appeals to Sussex--Unpopularity of the
      match in England--Catharine de Medici plays Elizabeth
      with her own game--Cecil suggests a loophole of escape--
      Elizabeth demands French strongholds as security--Alençon
      undeceived--Vows vengeance against Elizabeth and his brother
      for the failure of his suit--Collapse of his resolution--
      Pinart threatens Elizabeth--Alençon’s departure for Flushing
      --Extraordinary demonstration on the part of Elizabeth--
      Alençon still doubtful.


As may be imagined, it was not very long before matters came to a
crisis between Simier and his former master. The Prince urged Elizabeth
again and again, as she loved him, to expel Simier from England; but
she was shocked at such an idea. He had only come to justify himself,
and she could testify that he had conducted the marriage negotiations
better than any one else before or since, and she could not be so
unjust as to expel him even to gratify her “chère grenouille.” Then
Alençon began to hector and threaten Simier, and ordered him to return.
Simier replied that he was no longer in his service, and would not
budge until it suited him; and against this Alençon could only chafe
fruitlessly and continue his complaints to the Queen. All that she, and
indeed the whole country, wanted was to see her too persistent suitor
himself across the sea Cecil pointed out to him that if he stayed
over New Year’s Day it would cost him a very large sum in presents,
which he might save if he left before; but still he would not go, and
Elizabeth began to get angry. She told Cecil on Christmas night that
she would not marry Alençon to be empress of the world, and the next
day the Lord Treasurer made another strenuous attempt to get him away,
but he found him more obstinate than ever. He said he had been drawn
into this Flemish adventure by the English on the bait of a marriage
with the Queen, and until she had married him he would stir no further,
whatever might happen. If the Queen contemned and threw him over he
would arouse Catholic Christendom to avenge him. This alarmed her, and
she again sought to bend him to her will by tears, cajoleries, and
blandishments. It was not her fault, she said; would he not accept her
as a dear friend and sister instead of as a wife? No, he replied; he
had suffered, risked, and lost too much to give up the quest now. He
would rather die than leave here unmarried to her. Did he, the Queen
asked, mean to threaten a poor old woman in her own country? Was this
the only result of all his boasted love for her? If she did not think
that his violence was inspired by the strength of his affection for her
she would surely think him crazy, and she warned him not to sacrifice
his best friends by such words. He melted at this, poor, overwrought,
sorely-beset lad as he was, burst into tears, and swore he would rather
be torn into a thousand bits than lose the hope of marrying her, and
thus become the laughing-stock of the whole world. In this mood the
Queen could deal with him; she mingled her tears with his, wiped his
wet cheeks with her own handkerchief, and “consoled him with words
more tender even than the occasion demanded.”[152] As soon as Alençon
had left her she sent for Sussex, and told him what had passed. She
would rather, she said, succeed in getting Alençon gone without offence
than possess another kingdom. She was much disturbed, especially that
Alençon had sent an account to France, as he said he had, of the giving
of the pledge and ring. For his own dignity’s sake she thought he ought
not to have done so, as her pledge was purely conditional, and the King
had not seen fit to accede to her conditions. Besides, she could not
bring herself to the idea of marriage, which had always been repugnant
to her; “and she hated it more every day, for reasons which she would
not divulge to a twin soul if she had one, much less to any living
creature.” She entered into a very complete defence of her action in
the matter to Sussex, and wound up with, “And now, by God! what living
man in future will ever dare to throw the blame on me, seeing that they
want to pin me down to a contract that was only conditional?” Poor,
honest, consumptive Sussex was certainly not the man to disagree with
her, and promised to do his best to get Alençon away in a good humour.
There was an excellent reason why the Queen should prime Sussex with
arguments in her justification, because he was the only councillor
who was a hard-and-fast advocate of the match, and she knew that all
she said to him would be repeated both to Castelnau and to Alençon’s
friends. But Sussex could no more get rid of him than could Cecil.
The Queen, seeing the possibility of her terms being accepted by Henry
III., tried on one occasion to raise the religious difficulty again.
Look how difficult it would be, she said to Alençon, for them to live
together if one were a Protestant and the other a Catholic; but he soon
met this objection by swearing that he would be a Protestant for her
sake, and she dropped the subject.

On New Year’s Day a grand tournament was given in his honour, where he
made a determined attempt to revive the idea of a romantic affection
for the Queen. When he had to appear in the jousts he entered mounted
on a chariot fashioned in the form of a rock, to which he was bound
by heavy fetters. He was drawn by figures representing Love and Fate
to the Queen’s feet; and Fate addressed to her Majesty some couplets
beseeching her to restore the prisoner to his cherished liberty, and
then to forget her vow of chastity and let Hymen bind their hearts
together. The Duke acquitted himself well in the tourney, and the
Queen, before all the company, embraced him again and again for his
gallantry. At night she accompanied him to the door of his apartment,
and came to visit him before he was out of bed the next morning.[153]
This was all very fine and quite raised poor Alençon’s spirits for the
time; but our present knowledge enables us to see quite clearly that
all these cajoleries were only with the object of getting him away with
a good grace.

But if Alençon failed to understand this his astute mother had no doubt
about it, and wrote sharply, reproaching him for his sacrifice of
dignity and his interests in submitting to be played with in this way.
A marriage with an infanta of Spain was once more held out to him, but
he knew that his return to France without an alliance and without money
would have reduced him to impotence and to the scorn and derision of
his brother’s Catholic subjects; and he obstinately held on and refused
to go. At last matters began to look serious in England. The murmurs at
Alençon’s continued stay became deeper and deeper. Leicester and Hatton
secretly fanned the flame of discontent at the dreaded match until it
was ready to burst out at any time; and Cecil went to the Queen and
told her that since promises were ineffectual she had better give her
suitor a large sum of ready money to induce him to go to the aid of the
States, which were now in desperate straits. They had sent a deputation
to urge Alençon to give them a definite answer as to whether he would
accept their offer of sovereignty and come over at once or not. He
replied that they must do the best they could with the small aid he
had already sent them, as he was determined not to go until the Queen
had married him, convinced as he was that he would not be supported
in the war by her and his brother unless he was married. But when it
came to giving ready money frugal Elizabeth was on her guard, and told
Cecil that the King of France had not yet sent her an answer to her
last conditions, and she was informed that Lansac was on the way with
it. She must wait until he arrived. It was clear that if the reply was
negative the responsibility for breaking off the marriage would not be
hers, and she was not bound to give more money than she felt inclined.

But Simier knew what he was talking about when he warned her that
the King would accept any terms in the end for the sake of getting
quit of his troublesome brother, and although Lansac did not come with
the reply, the son of Secretary Pinart arrived in London on the 11th
of January bringing with him a complete acceptance by the King, the
Queen-mother, and the leading Huguenots, of all Elizabeth’s conditions.
This was a facer indeed. Catharine de Medici had beaten her at her
own game. But the answer did not find her unprepared: Simier had
some days before informed her of its purport, and she had privately
summoned Cecil to a conference to devise a way out of the difficulty.
He pointed out that as no one could bring the King of France to book
if he failed to fulfil the conditions after the marriage had been
effected, and Elizabeth was running all the risk in marrying, whilst
the King of France incurred none at all, it was only reasonable that he
should place the town of Calais into her hands as a security for the
due execution of the treaty. This was a device after Elizabeth’s own
heart and she adopted it with effusion, pledging Cecil to secrecy and
at the same time beguiling Sussex with the hope that the marriage would
now really take place, all difficulties being overcome. This latter
view was, as was intended, immediately conveyed to Alençon, and when
young Pinart came with his message, the Prince burst into tears at his
brother’s love and goodness to him, and bitterly denounced those who
had so long estranged them by lies and intrigues. As soon as the Queen
was alone he flew to her, bursting with the great news, and said that
all her conditions being complied with she had only to say yes and the
marriage would be concluded. She was kindly, but cool and collected,
and told him she would settle the matter with him in a couple of days.

The next morning Alençon sent Marchaumont to implore the good offices
of Cecil, but the old minister said that the matter was entirely in
the Queen’s hands, and he was powerless to do anything but express his
opinion if the Council was consulted. Sussex was then appealed to,
but it happened that he was sulking just then because Marchaumont had
persuaded Alençon to make much of Leicester; and he replied that they
had better get the support of their new friend as they appeared to have
forgotten their old one, who had done so much for them. This rather
damped the young Prince’s hopes, and when he saw the Queen in the
evening he pressed her very warmly for an answer. She coolly answered
that the King’s communication would be duly considered in Council and
a reply given in ordinary course--until then she could say no more.
Alençon lost his temper at this, and they wrangled until they parted.

Elizabeth had to thank her “faithful ape” for the fix in which she
found herself. She had opened her inmost heart to him, and he had
understood that she would really never marry, but proposed unacceptable
conditions in order that the King’s rejection of them might relieve her
of the responsibility of the failure whilst binding Alençon personally
to her and raising discord between him and his brother. Simier, as I
have said, was now in the King’s pay and faithfully transmitted his
knowledge to France. It was perfectly safe, therefore, for Henry III.
to promise on paper to accept any conditions, and thus at one stroke
to earn the gratitude of his brother and cast all responsibility
upon the Queen of England. Elizabeth must have had some suspicion
of her “ape’s” falsity, because a day or so after young Pinart
arrived, Alençon, who looked upon Simier as the author of all his
disappointment, entered the Queen’s chamber and implored her to send
him away. She was apparently hesitating when the Prince whipped out
his dagger and pressed it against his own breast, swearing by God that
he would drive it home and die at her feet if she would not promise
him on the spot to dismiss Simier. She replied that he had no need to
go to such extremes as that, and that although it was hardly fair to
send him away until he had obtained justification, she would do so to
please Alençon. Simier was therefore sent off with letters to the Duke
of Montpensier, who, within a given time, was to exonerate him from
the charges against him in Alençon’s name. Before he left, however,
he asked the Queen what she was going to do for Alençon to recompense
him for his expenditure in England; to which she replied that she had
already done three things for him. She had sent £30,000 in cash to help
him in the Cambrai affair, she had maintained him in England for a long
time, whereby he saved his usual outlay and could employ the money in
Flanders, and she had been no party to his going there at all. She said
she was very sorry she had carried the marriage negotiations so far,
but it was all Simier’s fault, “because the first time Alençon came he,
Simier, insisted upon his having another interview with her before he
left.”[154]

In the meanwhile the sudden complaisance of the King of France aroused
all sorts of suspicion in the Queen’s mind. It might be a plan for
her ruin, she thought, to induce her to entrust large English forces
to Alençon who might at once turn round and make terms with the
Spaniards to her detriment, and she was more loath than ever to be
over-liberal with him or to allow him to obtain uncontrolled power in
the Netherlands. Orange kept writing to Alençon, showing him how badly
he was acting in breaking his promise to the States and lingering in
England, but Elizabeth and St. Aldegonde in England were at the same
time putting their heads together and planning that if he did go,
Orange and his Protestants should always be the stronger power.

In order to ascertain whether anything was being arranged between the
French and the Spaniards the Queen took the opportunity, on the night
of the 21st of January, as she was walking in the gallery at Whitehall
with Alençon, to say that she had decided to come to terms with Philip.
Poor Alençon was thunderstruck at this specious piece of news, and told
Marchaumont afterwards that he could only suppose the Queen meant to
leave him floundering in the morass into which she had led him. But
this was not her only shot at the same interview. She had already fully
primed Simier, who was still lingering here, with similar intelligence,
and had arranged that he should enter the gallery by a private door,
of which he had the key, as soon as she had fired her shot. Directly
he entered she discreetly said it would not become her to stand
between master and servant, and retired, leaving Alençon and the “ape”
together. The Prince turned upon his former favourite, and sneeringly
asked why he was still staying in England. Was he afraid that he,
Alençon, would have him killed if he went to France? “No,” said Simier,
“I do not think you would have me killed, but I do fear that I should
be murdered by some of my enemies.” Then Alençon opened the floodgates
of his anger and piled reproach upon reproach on the devoted head of
poor Simier. He had sold and betrayed his master, he told him; it was
through him alone that the marriage had fallen through, and he had been
the means of frustrating his hopes of intervening in the Netherlands.
As soon as he could get in a word, Simier asked the Prince to tell him
what he had done to cause all this. “You have discredited and defamed
the best friend I have in England, the Earl of Leicester,” replied the
irate Prince, “and he has consequently been unable to influence the
Queen in my favour as he would otherwise have done.”

Simier was not long in conveying this to the Queen, and took care to
have another fling at his enemy, Leicester, at the same time. He was
surprised, he said, as all the world was, that she should still favour
a man who had deceived her as Leicester had done by telling her he was
not married when he was. But Elizabeth’s object was not to quarrel
with Leicester, but to learn by the hasty words of Alençon whether he
was intriguing with the King of Spain, and she turned the subject by
saying that Leicester was too powerful to be disgraced all at once.
The consideration of the King of France’s reply was undertaken the
next day by the Council, but no decision was arrived at, as the Queen
and Cecil alone really knew what her plans were. Cecil said something
to the Queen before the Council about three masses being celebrated
every morning in London now, _i.e._, those of Alençon, the Dauphin,
and Marchaumont, whereas by the marriage treaty one only could take
place even after the marriage. She told him to have a little patience
and leave it to her. They and their masses would soon be across the
sea. The same night at her customary walk in the gallery with Alençon
she opened her batteries. She pointed out to him that it would be much
better to abandon the Netherlands enterprise; nothing but danger and
trouble could come to him from it. If she did not marry him she was
sure the King of France would not help him, and she alone was unable
to sustain the whole cost, particularly now that the States themselves
were exhausted and wavering; whereas, on the other hand, if she did
marry him, it was equally certain that her ministers and people would
not consent to be brought into conflict with so powerful a state as
Spain. She was more inclined at present to come to terms and bring
about peace. He might see by this, she said, that he was not likely
to benefit whether he married her or not. Alençon quite broke down
at this, and as soon as he could get away flew to his false friend
Leicester to ask him what was the meaning of it. It was all, said
Leicester, the fault of Sussex, who had continued to advise the Queen
to make friends with the King of Spain. So the next morning after
dinner the young Prince made a formal complaint against Sussex, who he
said had accepted Spanish bribes to frustrate the marriage--which
was not true--and not only that, but he had undertaken to serve
Philip even against his own mistress, as he was informed by the French
ambassador in Madrid. Elizabeth stoutly defended honest Sussex against
this calumny, but she took care to repeat it all to him as soon as
Alençon was gone, and told him that she would never trust the Prince
again after he had so defamed in this way those who were his oldest and
best friends. Sussex, for his part, could only swear with tears in his
eyes to be avenged upon the authors of such a falsehood. Everything
that Alençon did and said, therefore, was turned to his disadvantage.
At last, after all this preparation, the Queen gave him her final
reply. Calais and Havre must both be garrisoned with Englishmen as a
security for her that the King of France would fulfil all his promises.
Alençon could hardly believe his ears. Was she in earnest, he asked,
and was this the final reply? Certainly, replied the Queen, and she
could give no other: and Alençon, thunderstruck, flung out of the room
in a rage, now thoroughly undeceived. He at once called a council of
his friends, and told them how he had been betrayed. His honour must
be avenged at all costs, but for the present he must dissemble with
the Queen, as her help was necessary to enable him first to wreak his
vengeance upon the prime author of his downfall, his false brother
the King, who had sent Simier hither, knowing he could do as he liked
with the Queen, in order to frustrate the marriage. The sinister
tyrant his brother, and his evil-minded mother had plotted against his
welfare, and he would be even with them. His mother’s only object was
to keep him under her thumb in France in order to hold his brother the
better in her thraldom. There were two courses open to him, he said:
first, to carry on the war in Flanders; and secondly, to raise civil
war in France. The first he could not do without the English Queen’s
help, which he probably could not get, as she was in treaty with the
Spaniards, and he was certain his brother would not aid him; but the
Queen would willingly support him in a Huguenot war in France, as she
had promised the King of Navarre to do so. After much of this heated
talk and denunciation of the proud Guises, in which Marchaumont and
de Quincy added fuel to the fire, the Prince Dauphin, old beyond his
years, who had hitherto remained silent, being urged by Alençon to
give his opinion, turned a cold stream of good sense on the inflated
balderdash of Alençon and his friends. He would have nothing to do
with treason, he said, and warned them to take care they did not lose
their heads for such talk. This fairly frightened them all, and Alençon
took him apart in a window recess and prayed him earnestly not to
desert him. But the Dauphin was obdurate; he would leave for France
at once, and consort no more with the enemies of his King. He and the
spies behind the arras soon told everything to cautious old Pinart,
who had brought the King’s reply, and he flew to the Queen to urge
her not to help Alençon against his brother. She had not heard a word
about such a project, she truly said, but Pinart did not quite know
whether to believe her, and warned her in almost threatening words of
her danger if she listened to talk which would bring all Christendom
down upon her. Then he went and rated Alençon soundly, who began to
whimper, protesting that he did not mean anything wrong, and collapsed
completely.

Elizabeth had now quite satisfied herself that there was no arrangement
between Alençon, his brother, and Spain; and at the same time had
brought the poor creature to a sufficiently chastened and humble frame
of mind, so she could without misgiving send him off to the Netherlands
on her own terms. Seeing him in his barge on the river, she ordered her
own and joined him, and persuaded him that it was at all events his
duty to keep his word and accede to the invitation of the States to go
to Flanders, and when he had been there he might retire or stay as he
thought best. She would give him £30,000 in cash for his expenses and a
regular subsidy for the war, with some ships to take him to Flushing.
Alençon was glum and tearful, but had no alternative. The ships were
waiting for him, the money ready in the exchequer, and the deputation
from the States with St. Aldegonde pressing for his departure. Events
and Elizabeth were too strong for him, and he consented to sail next
day for Protestant Zeeland, instead of first to Catholic Flanders,
where he and his Frenchmen might have caused trouble to the Queen of
England. All was settled for the Prince to sail on the next morning,
the 25th of January. Sussex was sent to say that the Queen desired
that all future correspondence between them should be carried on
through Simier, but this Alençon refused point blank, said he would
have no more to do with him, and complained to Sussex bitterly of the
Queen’s demand for Calais and Havre, and of his brother for refusing
them. But before the morning came another change occurred. A courier
came post-haste to Pinart from France urging him, as he loved his
King and country to keep Alençon in England at any cost rather than
allow him to drag his brother into trouble with Spain by going to the
Netherlands. Alençon thereupon feigned illness, and Pinart went to the
Queen and threatened that if she were too exacting France might join
with Spain and put Mary Stuart on the throne. Although the King could
not give her Calais and Havre as security, he would send such hostages
as should satisfy her. This thoroughly alarmed the Queen, who kept
Lady Stafford awake all night with her lamentations, and was in a high
fever in the morning. She was still in bed after dinner, when she sent
for Sussex in great trouble, and told him she must marry Alençon after
all. Pinart threatened her with all sorts of dangers, and besides that
she must have a companion in the government to enable her to curb her
insolent favourites, which she, a lone woman, could not do. She knew
this was the way to appeal to Sussex, who hated Leicester with all his
heart, but these changes from hour to hour had completely obfuscated
him, and he could only beseech her to do as she thought best, and not
to ask his opinion until he knew hers. She begged him at least to say
what he thought about the proposal to give hostages, and he gave it as
his opinion that she ought to insist upon her demand for the ports.
Immediately afterwards a Council was called, when, the marriage now
appearing again possible, Leicester and Hatton, who had been loaded
with French bribes, showed in their true colours. They both opposed
the match strenuously. It was a danger, they said, to England and to
religion, and no words were strong enough to condemn it. Sussex, of
course, was in favour of it, and he and Leicester were about to come
to fisticuffs when Cecil stepped between them, and told them that the
question of marriage or no marriage was in the hands of the Queen--
all they had to consider was what security should be exacted if the
marriage took place. They broke up in confusion, without coming to any
decision, and Cecil alone remained afterwards in conclave with the
Queen, the result of their conference being that the ships were again
ordered to make ready to sail with Alençon.

When Pinart found that his threats to Elizabeth had produced no
permanent result, he fell back upon his alternative instructions, to
threaten Alençon that if he went to the Netherlands under English
auspices he and his followers should be treated as rebels and the
enemies of France. This again alarmed the Queen, who next tried her
cajoleries on Pinart. What were his final instructions, she asked,
with all her battery of fascinations; but he said he would not tell
her until he received her decided reply about the marriage, and only
warned her to desist from helping Alençon in the Netherlands, or evil
would come of it both to him and to her. She said she had not urged him
to it, and had only helped him after he began, whilst she now thought
it was better for him to retire and have done with the business. All
this fickleness left poor Alençon in a chaotic condition of mind from
day to day. First the Queen would give him £30,000, then a mere trifle
of 20,000 crowns, then nothing, then £70,000, and so on, Cecil being
strongly of opinion that no large sum should be furnished to him; but
withal every effort was made to get him gone in a good humour. He was
tardy and unwilling, afraid of Pinart’s threats, and full of sulky
vows of vengeance against the Queen for sending him away unmarried. He
was only dissembling, he told his friends; they should all see what
he would do before he went. Poor creature! he could do nothing but
impotently grumble and vapour, mere twig as he was on the torrent of
events, borne hither and thither by stronger minds than his own.

The Queen on one occasion told him that he would only be away three
weeks, and should then come back and marry her; the castle of Dover was
already, she said, being prepared for his reception when he returned;
and although he smiled at this, and feigned pleasure, he was no sooner
alone with Marchaumont than he burst into an agony of tears, swore
that he would only live to be revenged on her, if he had to make
friends with his brother for the sake of doing it. But still from that
day he hung back on one pretext or another. Marchaumont and most of
his friends had been bribed by the Queen to persuade him to go, and
they used every artifice with that object. How would he like, they
asked him, to go back to France, and dance attendance on La Valette
and d’Arques, his brother’s mignons? Better surely, they said, suffer
any hardship in Flanders than put up with such an indignity as that!
As soon as they had persuaded him, Pinart would come and threaten
all manner of terrible things if he trusted to rebels and heretics.
At last, on the 1st of February, on the arrival of a new deputation
from the States, the Queen prevailed upon him to start for Dover with
her by his side. Leicester, Hunsdon, and Howard were to accompany
him, and the Queen told the Prince that if he did not like to stay
he could come back with the Earl in three weeks, and she would then
have decided about the marriage. Sussex took the opportunity of urging
Alençon secretly to keep Leicester in Flanders when he arrived, but he
was powerless to do anything, for the money, except 20,000 crowns for
his expenses, was handed to Hunsdon and Leicester to be laid out for
the benefit of the States; and it was well understood that the French
prince was to be a mere figurehead to beguile the Catholic Flemings.
Every demonstration the Queen could make was made. She went with him as
far as Canterbury, weeping copiously all the way. On taking leave of
him she cast herself about his neck and asked him not to go until they
learnt whether there was any danger from the Spaniards at Antwerp as
was reported. The Flushing deputation had urged him somewhat roughly to
set out; and she flared up at their disrespect, called them heretical
cobblers and tinkers to dare to talk like that to a prince. It was all
make-believe of course, though she swore to her own ministers that she
would not live an hour but for the hope of her lover’s prompt return,
for she was determined to marry him in spite of everything.[155]

She gave him a personal present of £25,000 when she left him, and told
him that a wound on his little finger would pierce her heart. Amongst
all these blandishments the real object appears when we learn that she
urged him above all things to obtain help from his brother. If she
could only bring France and Spain to loggerheads she would be safe.
Leicester, by means of Hatton, tried at the last moment to shirk the
voyage, but the Queen threatened them both with all sorts of penalties
if such disrespect were “shown to the person she loved best in the
world,” but the real reason why she was so anxious for Leicester to
go was that he bore secret instructions to Orange to detain Alençon
in Holland at any cost, and never let him come back to England,
notwithstanding that the Queen had given him her word at parting
that if he would only return to her in six weeks she would marry him
on the conditions that Pinart had propounded. The scales, however,
were gradually falling from the Prince’s eyes, for before he went
Marchaumont, who stayed in England, was instructed to make approaches
for his marriage with the wealthy daughter of the Duke of Florence.

[Illustration]



[Illustration]

CHAPTER XIV.

  Arrival of Alençon in the Netherlands--His investure as
      Duke of Brabant--Leicester’s suspicion and intrigues--
      Alençon’s ceaseless demands for money--Henry III. refuses
      aid to his brother--The Queen’s attempts to revive the
      marriage negotiations--Universal distrust of her--
      Attempted assassination of William of Orange--Danger
      of Alençon---Elizabeth’s fear of a French and Spanish
      understanding--To prevent it she again declares she will
      marry Alençon--Her renewed efforts to pledge the King of
      France before the marriage--She threatens France that she
      will make friends with Spain unless her terms are granted.


On February 10, 1582, Alençon’s fleet of fifteen ships anchored before
Flushing, where the Princes of Orange and Epinay, with the members of
the States, were already assembled to welcome the new sovereign of
Brabant. He entered the town in great pomp with William the Silent on
one side of him and Leicester on the other, and followed by Hunsdon,
Willoughby, Philip Sidney, Sir John Norris who was in command of the
English auxiliaries, and many other Englishmen. The bells rang, the
guns thundered their welcome, and the crowds acclaimed their new ruler;
but as Orange in his speech to the States clearly indicated, it was not
the feeble Prince, a Frenchman, and a Catholic, they were greeting so
much as the strong Protestant Queen of England, under whose auspices
and protection he came. Wherever Frenchmen alone appeared they were
looked at askance: at Middleburg the townspeople stoutly refused to
admit even their new Duke’s French bodyguard until Leicester himself
besought them to do so on his guarantee. All the citadels were open to
Englishmen, but not a Frenchman, except Alençon, was allowed to enter
them. Alençon wrote to Marchaumont almost as soon as he arrived that
Orange and Leicester were arranging everything over his head, and he
saw clearly that after all he was to play second fiddle. After some
delay and misgiving, and a dispute for precedence between Brussels and
Antwerp, the already disillusioned Prince made his state entry into the
latter city, and received the oath of allegiance as Duke of Brabant.
Everything that pomp could do was done to invest the ceremony with
solemnity. When Orange clasped around the new Duke his ermine-bordered
mantle he whispered to him, “I will fasten it firmly, Monseigneur, so
that no one shall deprive you of it.” Garbed in his ducal panoply he
passed through the city on horseback to the palace of St. Michael, sums
of money in coins stamped with his effigy were flung to the crowd, and
in appearance at least his longing for sovereignty was satisfied. But
in appearance alone, for the States and Orange were urged by Leicester
never to let the power out of their hands--and they never did.

In the meanwhile Elizabeth in England was still playing her part of the
comedy. When she had parted from her lover at Canterbury she prayed
him to address her in his letters as his wife, and daily epistles full
of lovesick nonsense continued to pass between them. She openly said
that she would willingly give a million for her dear “frog” to be
disporting himself in the clear waters of the Thames rather than in the
sluggish ponds of the Netherlands, and again asserted her intention
of marrying her suitor if his brother would fulfil his promises.
All this made Leicester in Flanders and Hatton in London somewhat
distrustful. The former thought that perhaps after all he might be
duped, and that Alençon might detain him against his will. The Queen,
moreover, in Hatton’s hearing had made some remark about men never
knowing how fortunate they were until fortune had left them, which
he applied to Leicester, and sent a special messenger to urge him to
return at once. Leicester needed no second bidding. The very day after
the investure of Alençon he suddenly left Antwerp at dinner-time and
hastened to England. He arrived in London on the 26th of February in
high glee, boasting of the good service he had done in leaving the
Queen’s troublesome suitor stuck fast in the bogs, like a wrecked hulk,
deserted by wind and tide. The oath of allegiance, he said, was only a
farce, and Alençon a laughing-stock. Pasquins and insulting placards
had been fixed to his chamber-door on the very first day of his stay
in Antwerp; the Queen of England, and she alone, was now arbitratress
of the peace of Europe. This was pleasant talk for Elizabeth, but was
soon conveyed to Marchaumont, who made a formal complaint to the Queen
of Leicester’s words. For this reason or from fear of Spain, she had
a great wrangle with Leicester the next night. She had never meant to
sanction the formal investure, she said, and had not been informed of
it. Leicester, for his own ostentation, had implied by his presence
at the ceremony her authority for it, and had drawn her into an act
of open hostility to the King of Spain. He was a knave and a traitor,
she said, and much else of the same sort. It was all a planned thing
between him and that tyrannical Orange, so that the latter might have
his own way in all things. She then turned on Walsingham, and called
him a scamp for persuading Alençon to go to the Netherlands at all.
Probably all this extraordinary talk, and the Queen and Cecil’s sudden
attempt to gain the goodwill and friendship of Spain, were caused by
the intelligence sent by her ambassador, Cobham, in France, that the
King had stoutly refused to countenance his brother’s attempt, and
had declared traitors all those who helped him. Henry’s hand then was
not to be forced, and after all she might find herself alone face to
face with all the Catholic powers united. The fear of this always
brought her to her knees, and she insisted upon Cecil’s leaving a
sick bed to come and advise her what to do. He urged her emphatically
either to marry Alençon at once or make terms with the King of Spain,
as things had now come to a crisis which could not be prolonged. She
was peevish and quarrelsome with all about her, and perplexed to the
last degree. Cecil urged her one way, Walsingham another, and Sussex
a third. Alençon was clamouring through Marchaumount for money, more
money, for not a penny could he get elsewhere. His new subjects were
bitterly distrustful of him, and hated his Frenchmen almost as much
as they did their Spanish oppressors; and the poor Queen had nearly
come to the end of her clever serpentine devices. First she decided to
write, pressing Alençon to come over at once and marry her--anything
to relieve herself of the sole and open responsibility of the war--
she solemnly swore to Castelnau that this time she was in earnest, and
would really marry the Prince if he came. But Castelnau was incredulous
and irresponsive, Walsingham and Leicester were inimical, and it is
very doubtful whether the letter to Alençon was really sent. Certain
it is that the Queen wrote a letter with her own hand, and handed it
the same day (March 5th) to Marchaumont to send to Alençon, urging him
not to trust the Flemish mob overmuch, or to venture further in the
business than the support he was sure of would warrant. As his brother
would not help him he must not expect her to quarrel with the King
of Spain alone. She thus coolly left him in the lurch. The very day
after this letter left, one of Pinart’s secretaries brought important
letters from the King of France, his mother, and from Cobham to the
Queen, which once more entirely changed the aspect of affairs. The
King assured her that under no circumstances would he help his brother
or break with Spain, whilst Cobham detailed a long conversation he
had had with the King, in which the latter had expressed the greatest
anger and indignation at the way in which a vain and fickle woman had
befooled a prince of the blood royal of France for her own ends. Thank
God! he said, he was not such a fool as his brother, and if the latter
had only listened to him he would have safely and surely raised him to
a better place than the Queen of England could do. In vain Cobham had
sought to mollify the King. The Queen might try her cleverness upon
others, said Henry, but if she was not straightforward with him she
should suffer for it. He had already conceded too much to her, and
would go no further. In future all responsibility must rest on the
Queen of England. Elizabeth did not wait even to consult the Council,
but at once sent a special courier to Cobham, ordering him to assure
the King that there was nothing she desired more than to marry if he
would fulfil the conditions. Then she summoned Sussex, and told him to
arrange with Marchaumont to renew the arrangements for the marriage.
But Sussex was sick of the whole business; he felt he was a mere
catspaw, and yet he was being blamed by all parties; so he declined
to interfere, on the ground that the Queen had so often expressed
her natural repugnance to marriage that he was sure she would never
bring herself to it, and she had better try to excuse the slights she
had offered to the French royal house than commence a new series of
them. Besides, he said, however fit Alençon might be personally, his
present position in the Netherlands made it most dangerous for her to
marry him now, as it might bring her country face to face with Spain.
He should not be doing his duty, said Sussex, did he not advise her,
if she decided to marry the Duke, only to do so in case he left the
Netherlands and surrendered the title of Duke of Brabant. She assured
Sussex in reply that if she did marry she would make the Duke abandon
the Netherlands enterprise. She then went to visit Cecil, who was ill
with gout, and told him she had overcome her last scruple, and had
decided to marry; but he was just as cool as Sussex, and would have
nothing to do with it, and warned her to take care what she was about,
or ill would come of it. Marchaumont was next taken in hand, and told
by the Queen that at last she had decided to marry in real earnest.
She urged him to persuade his master on this assurance, to retire from
the Netherlands until she had arranged with his brother to break with
Spain jointly with her. Marchaumont had long been begging for money,
and seized the opportunity of suggesting that he should himself go to
Flanders and bring Alençon round to her views, taking with him the
gold she had promised him from Drake’s plunder. The Council would not
consent to Marchaumont’s going, but they sent the £15,000 with the
letter the next night. This was early in March, 1582, and on the 18th
of the same month Alençon was giving an entertainment to celebrate
his birthday at the palace of St. Michael, in Antwerp, when a young
Biscayner discharged a pistol in the face of the Prince of Orange and
wounded him in a way that kept him hovering between life and death
for weeks to come. At the first news of the treacherous shot at the
national hero, the hatred of the stout Dutchmen for the French flared
out. It ran like wildfire from town to town that this was another
plot of the false brood of Valois and Medici, and for a day Alençon’s
own life was in danger. But for the courage and presence of mind of
Orange himself in his own apparently mortal strait every Frenchman
in Flanders would probably have been massacred, and Alençon amongst
them. The moment the Queen of England heard the news all the ports
were closed, and one of her Gentlemen of the Chamber was instructed to
hasten to Antwerp and tell Alençon to leave the States instantly. When
Walsingham learnt this he solemnly warned his mistress to take care
what she did. If Alençon came again she must marry him or bring all
Catholic Christendom against her. She therefore, but very unwillingly,
took another course--namely, to send for Castelnau, the French
ambassador, and assure him on her word of honour as a Queen that she
would marry Alençon. This and other things she desired that he would
convey to the King officially; but really the trick was getting too
stale. Castelnau replied that she had at various times made him write
so many things which she had no intention of fulfilling that he must
decline to do so any more. After much persuasion, however, he consented
to write, although he made no secret of his derision of the whole
affair.

If Mendoza is to be believed, the Queen was playing a doubly false game
on the present occasion. She was trying to prevent the King of France
from joining a coalition against her by again professing willingness
to become his sister-in-law, she was beguiling Alençon with renewed
ideas of marriage and help, to prevent him in his despair from making
terms with Parma, she was sending messages urging him to retire from
the Netherlands for his safety’s sake in order to relieve herself of
the responsibility of helping him, whilst, by the very same messenger,
she was instructing Orange and the Protestants on no account to let
him go, so that she might not be plagued again by his appearance
in England as a pressing suitor. All through March and April news
continued to arrive of the Prince of Orange’s desperate condition.
For days he was only kept alive by the repression of the severed
artery by the fingers of relays of attendants night and day. Several
times apparently well-founded intelligence came of his death, and
Elizabeth and her councillors had to consider the new aspect of affairs
which such an event would produce. Leicester, Hatton, and Walsingham
were in favour of the Queen herself taking the protectorate of the
Netherlands, as she could then, if necessary, make better terms with
Spain; whilst if Alençon and the French once got their grip on the
country it would be ruinous to England. Sussex and Cecil, on the other
hand, were for making an arrangement with Spain at once. When they
submitted their diverse opinions to the Queen she angrily complained
that the death of a single person made all her councillors tremble and
deprived her subjects of their courage. But she took her own tortuous
course whatever her councillors’ opinions might be. First she publicly
declared on every occasion her fixed intention of marrying Alençon;
then she sent for Sussex and begged him to write to the Duke that when
he had made terms with Spain or had otherwise arranged to relieve her
of the need for contributing to the war, she would marry him at once;
and to this she would pledge her word as a Queen and her oath as a
Christian. But Sussex refused this time to be the instrument for still
further injuring her reputation, as he said. He had innocently done so
before, but he knew that marriage was repugnant to her, and he would
have no more to do with it.[156] Finding that Sussex was obdurate, the
Queen, not to be baulked, sent her message by a gentleman of Alençon’s
named Pruneaux, who was then in London.

The reason for this was that in case the amicable settlement she feared
was arrived at by Alençon and his brother after Orange’s death, she
should not be left out of the arrangement, which she certainly would
not be if Alençon still hoped to be accepted as her husband. She was
indeed in greater fear of the French now than ever; Henry III. had
become more and more complaisant with his brother as the danger of
Orange increased, and notwithstanding all her diplomacy she could not
extract even the smallest conditional promise to break with Spain,
even, as she put it, as a matter of form. The coast of Flanders and
Holland in the hands of the French would mean ruin to England, and, as
usual, she railed at Walsingham for his innocent share in promoting
Alençon’s going thither. “You knave!” she greeted him with one day,
“you ought to have your head off your shoulders for persuading the
Duke to go to Antwerp. He is trying now to get hold of the ports, but
they will see whether I will put up with that coolly;” whereupon the
secretary answered not a word. She wrote again to Alençon, telling
him she would marry him if he came, and would not stand in the way
of his Netherlands plans if she were not expected to contribute to
the cost; but if he continued the war without marrying her she would
be his mortal foe and would expend her last man and her last shot
in preventing him from obtaining uncontrolled possession of the
Netherlands. The £15,000 she had sent him, she said, was a mark of
affection rather than a subsidy for the war, and indeed at this time--
the end of April, 1582--it is clear that her most pressing fear was
lest the death of Orange should allow the French to obtain the control
of the country over her head, to make their own terms with Philip,
and leave her and the Protestants in the lurch. She left no effort
untried to persuade the French that she really would marry Alençon,
but Castelnau, as well as his master and the Queen-mother, were not
very credulous by this time, and were inclined rather to make a joke of
her newly-revived ardour. On one occasion when she was setting forth
in detail to Castelnau the various reasons which she said made her
marriage with Alençon now necessary, he told her that she had forgotten
the most important reason of all, namely, that people were saying
that she had already given him the privileges of a husband. This was
expressed in words that would in our day be considered unpardonably
coarse and insulting if applied to the humblest woman, but the Queen
only answered that she would soon stop the rumour. The ambassador
told her that she might perhaps do so in her own realm, but it would
be impossible in other countries where it was public talk. Excited
and angry at this the Queen exclaimed that her conscience was clear
and innocent, and she therefore feared nothing; she would stifle such
calumnies everywhere by her marriage.[157]

Very anxiously she awaited the replies from the King and Alençon to
her new approaches. After some delay the former very coolly sent word
that he could go no further than the terms which had been conveyed
by Pinart; but day after day passed without the arrival of an answer
from Alençon, and the Queen, in the interim, hardly sought to hide
her trepidation from her councillors, especially from Sussex. In
the meanwhile Leicester and his friends were busy again stirring up
Protestant fears against the match, and Cecil and Sussex were urging
an arrangement with Spain. At last, on the 2nd of May, Bacqueville
arrived with a letter from Alençon to the Queen full of extravagant
professions of love and rejoicing. He had, he said, ceased to mention
the marriage for the last two months as he had despaired of it, she
having told him herself that the mountains would move ere she would
willingly wed. Now, however, that she had changed her mind, he would
not trust to letters, but would himself take flight like a swallow and
nest in England. This was his final resolution, and he entreated her to
send him word immediately when he might come and consummate his joy.
This letter plunged the Queen once more in the midst of the intrigue,
and she confidently resumed her masterly handling of the tangled skein.
She openly expressed her pleasure at her approaching union, she scolded
poor Walsingham as if he were a pickpocket, because, she said, he had
caused dissension between her and her lover, and then she sent for
Castelnau and Marchaumont. She conveyed to them Alençon’s determination
to come, and swore solemnly that since she had given him the ring she
had never wavered for a moment in her intention of becoming Alençon’s
wife, if the King of France would fulfil the conditions. Having thus
demonstrated her sincerity with regard to the marriage itself, her
next move was to dissociate herself from Alençon’s projects in the
Netherlands. She turned upon Marchaumont like a fury, told him he
was a sordid, venal fellow who had never ceased to importune her for
money since his master left, as if they both of them only cared for
her to administer to his ambition, and his only object was to torment
the old woman until they had drained her purse.[158] She then formally
requested the ambassador to inform the King--first, that Alençon
was coming to marry her as soon as word was sent to him; second, that
she herself was of the same mind; and third, that the final word now
rested with the King. She had demanded that he should defray half of
the expenses of the war in the Netherlands, not because she desired
war with Spain--quite the contrary. She desired universal peace
and good-will, but as Alençon, for his own ends, had entered into
the affair she did not want her subjects to say that she had broken
their long peace and prosperity and wasted their treasure for the sake
of marriage; and she therefore wished the King to promise to defray
half the cost of the war _before_ the marriage. It was of the utmost
importance, she repeated, that the King should hand the money over
_before the ceremony_, and she did not see how she could marry unless
he did so. She urged the ambassador to impress upon the King how very
straightforwardly she had acted in the matter, and to request him to
send a person of sufficiently high rank fully empowered to settle;
and she would then summon Alençon and marry him without further ado.
Castelnau demurred at this. She had deceived him, he said, so often,
that his master had reproved him for his credulity. How could he
believe her word, he asked. “These are not words alone,” replied the
Queen, “these are the solemn oaths of a Queen and a Christian woman,”
and she called God’s vengeance down upon herself if she broke them.
Then she began to hector. If the King did not accede to so reasonable
a demand, she said, she would know that he had been tricking her all
along, and she would be his and his brother’s mortal foe for life. Her
last man and her last penny should be sacrificed, she swore, before
she would permit the French to gain a footing in the Netherlands. She
had plenty of powerful friends, the King of Spain was seeking her, and
if the King of France did not make haste and consent to her terms, she
should consider his action as a negative, and immediately throw him
over and join the King of Spain.[159]

[Illustration]



[Illustration]

CHAPTER XV.

  Elizabeth temporises with Alençon pending the King’s reply--
      Alençon’s joy at the false news of his brother’s yielding--
      Elizabeth throws upon Henry III. the blame for the failure
      of the match--Fall of Oudenarde--Alençon’s ultimatum
      to Elizabeth--Salcedo’s plot--Henry III. more pliable
      --Alençon again hopeful--New exigencies of Elizabeth--
      She again declares she will marry Alençon--Is generally
      disbelieved--La Mothe’s interview with her--Alençon’s
      treacherous attempt to seize the garrisons--Elizabeth’s
      jealousy of the French in the Netherlands--Alençon’s flight
      to Vilvorde and Dunkirk--His flight to Calais---His interview
      with his mother--Reconciliation with Henry III.--Preparations
      for a new expedition--Elizabeth offers her co-operation too
      late--Death of Alençon--Disappearance of the last serious
      suitor for Elizabeth’s hand and end of the negotiations for her
      marriage.


The Queen’s bold game of brag succeeded. Castelnau wrote to his King
urging him to give way and not to drive Elizabeth into the arms of
Spain on the one hand or of the Huguenots on the other.

On the same day, May 4, 1582, the Queen wrote, from Greenwich to
Alençon a reply full of vague professions of affection, and with not
a word about his coming to marry her. God knows it is not her fault!
She is ready, as she always was, to carry out the contract “according
to my last promise on the conditions, which you alone know--very
difficult ones I confess.”[160] It is entirely the King’s fault. She is
thoroughly ashamed of writing to him so often about it. He (Henry) only
repeats that he can go no further than the conditions sent by Pinart.
“Jugez sur ce, mon tres cher, que puis je plus faire? Considerez
mon tres cher ... si tout l’univers ne s’ebahist comment la reine
d’Angleterre ayt tant oublié l’Angleterre pour amener nouveaux voisins
sur le continent prez de son pais ... et puis voyez si de ma part je
n’ay rien hazardé pour vous; m’estant l’amour de ma nation plus cher
que la vie,”[161] and so on, but not a word to cause him to come to
England. Almost at the same time as he received this letter false news
came to Alençon from his sister Margaret that the King had consented
to the whole of Elizabeth’s demands. He was almost beside himself for
joy; a letter, which is now at Hatfield,[162] was instantly sent off to
the Queen, containing the most exuberant expressions of pleasure and
relief. There never was happiness equal to his, which he can conceal
no longer. He has no further care now than to order the clothes and
everything necessary for the nuptials. But she must more than ever
fulfil her promise to him, for now that he is to be her husband she
would not like to see him perish for want of assistance so solemnly
promised by her. “I have been sorry hitherto,” he says, “to importune
you so much, being uncertain of the King’s intentions; but now that I
am sure of sleeping in the great bed and being your husband, I claim,
as the fulfilment of the treaty between us, the payment of the whole
sum of money you were good enough to promise me at your own instance.”
He begs her to send her proxy over for the marriage contract, and he
will authorise Castelnau to enter into the engagement in his name;
and concludes, “Adieu ma femme par immagination que jespere sera
bientost par effet. Celuy qui brulle de dessir Françoys.” But a few
days afterwards he was informed that his sister’s news was untrue, and
wrote in heartbroken strain to the Queen: “Quand je pense les affayres
du mariage en bon aytre je suys gai, et quand je connois le contrere la
mort nest plus hideuze que moy.” From the happy assurance that he would
soon be her husband he has now become “froit et transi de tristesse”
because of the doubt she casts on the King’s surety. “Mon Dieu,
Madame,” he writes, “en quoi esse que je vous ay esté si desagreeable
pour ne pouvoir tirer nulle resolution de vostre Majesté?”[163] Before
this letter was received by the Queen she had anticipated its contents,
and wrote a very long communication to her suitor, casting great doubt
upon Queen Margaret’s news. The delay, she said, was entirely owing to
the King of France. She, Heaven knows! had done enough, even to the
verge of impropriety. “Et pense que le Roy pour telle me reputera, que
je suis la récherchante, qui sera tousjour une belle reputation pour
une femme.” But she still kept tight hold of the money and did not send
him the aid he so confidently requested. She was, she said, a poor hand
at financial affairs and had but little love for playing the economist.
She was fain, therefore, to leave money matters in the hands of those
who understood them better than she did, and the answer would be given
to Marchaumont. This meant that she would send him no money until
the position of his brother was made clear, but she reminds him that
she has risked much already for him, and that England has nothing to
gain by the marriage and very much to lose if the French should become
masters of Flanders.[164] This letter was cool enough, and contrasts
greatly with a short note written by Alençon the next day--May 25th
--brought by one of the English courtiers who was returning. He winds
up this note by bidding her farewell: “avecque autant dafection que je
me souhet vostre mari couché entre deus dras dedans vos beaus bras.”

The fear that the French might after all dominate the Netherlands or
make terms with Spain, was not only tightening her purse-strings but
had led her to consider an entirely new combination of the European
powers, by which the North was brought in to redress the balance of
the South. Eric of Sweden had a fair daughter of fourteen, whom it was
proposed to marry to Alençon: a confederacy between England, Scotland,
Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Russia, and Poland being formed; the reversion
of the elective crown of Poland being secured to Eric, and a northern
fleet being placed at Alençon’s disposal to oppose any naval attack
upon him by Spain. Alençon and his mother, it was understood, were
not indisposed to listen to this arrangement, but the countries were
distant, their interests not identical, and whilst the negotiations
were slowly dragging, events outstripped them and rendered them
nugatory.

Oudenarde fell early in July, and Alençon immediately afterwards sent
an ultimatum to Elizabeth. He was at the end of his resources. If she
did not at once send him the money she had promised he must abandon
his task, and Spain would crush Flanders for good and for all under
the heel of Alexander Farnese. The time had gone by for high-strained
compliments and billing and cooing, and Alençon, in his letter to the
Queen, says his mind is too full of war to talk about marriage, and
he must leave Antwerp and await her answer elsewhere. Leicester and
his friends feared he might go to Flushing, and thence run over to
England, and were consequently anxious to send him £20,000 at once.
Cecil was strongly opposed to this, as at the end of July there was
in the Exchequer less than £80,000, which, with the £400,000 in gold
in the Tower, formed the whole of the national treasury. Whilst this
was being discussed there came news of the discovery of the Salcedo
plot, said to have been prompted by Spain, the Pope, and the Guises,
to assassinate Alençon and the Prince of Orange. The avowals made by
Salcedo on the rack satisfied even Henry III. that a vast Catholic
conspiracy was in progress, from which he was excluded, and this once
more drew him nearer to Elizabeth, and he instructed his ambassador to
assure her that he would accede to the conditions she demanded as soon
as she had decided upon the marriage. Her answer was that since the
King consented to defray the cost of the war she must have it under
his own hand, with an undertaking that England under no circumstances
should be called upon to contribute anything in case of a war with
Spain. The King’s readiness to accede to every demand of Elizabeth was
of itself a source of suspicion to her, and was by many attributed to
a deep Papist plot to throw the whole responsibility for breaking off
the marriage upon her, and so turn Alençon against her. To a certain
extent it had this effect, for although Alençon’s letters to the Queen
herself were a mixture of erotics and reproaches, his communications to
Sussex were in a different tone. The Queen, he said, was the cause of
his ruin, and if she will not at once come to his aid or marry him he
must join her enemies, and she will have no cause to complain. Lierre
had just been captured by the Spaniards, and all Alençon’s prayers for
money were ineffectual. A new turn of the screw was applied to the King
of France by Elizabeth nearly every day. The last demand was that he
was to defend her not against Spain alone, but against all her enemies
whatsoever, and that an undertaking to this effect, stamped with the
great seal of France, was to be sent her--anything indeed, to drag
France into open enmity with Spain before she showed her hand. Events
seemed to be working for her. Henry III. was already jealous of the
Guises, his mother’s fleet to aid the Portuguese pretender at Terceira
against Philip had been destroyed, and Catharine was vowing vengeance,
so that Henry was pliable.

Alençon, writing to the Queen early in August, “thanks God that his
brother has at last sent the despatch she asked for, and assures
himself now that, having, as all well-bred ladies must, caused herself
to be sought, she will really fulfil her promise and receive him as her
husband; me fezant jouir du fruit et contantement du mariage a quoy
je me prepare, fezant peu decquesersise (d’exercise) me nourisant si
bien que je masure que en reserveres plus de contantement que d’autre
qui soit sur la terre.” But withal he entreats her again and again for
money. He is not, he says, a mercenary soldier, but his honour is at
stake, and he cannot obtain a penny elsewhere. The answer to this was
a remittance of £20,000 and a fresh body of English auxiliaries, but
no fresh word about marriage, the main line of policy now inaugurated
being that which was subsequently followed, namely, to nullify the
presence of Frenchmen in Flanders by the sending of larger numbers of
English volunteers. Catharine de Medici also began to move in order to
have her revenge on Spain for her Terceira defeat, and both men and
money began to flow over the French frontier to Alençon. At the same
time the formal document, signed and sealed by the King, was read by
Castelnau to Elizabeth. In it Henry bound himself to relieve the Queen
of all expense of the war if she married Alençon, but would not bind
himself to break openly with Spain. Castelnau had instructions in case
the Queen were not satisfied with this to drop the fruitless marriage
negotiations, and frankly propose an offensive and defensive alliance
between the two countries. The Guises were openly discontented, and
Paris swarmed with their men-at-arms. It was clear to Henry and his
mother that they must cling to England and the Protestants, or the
house of Valois was doomed, and France must become subservient to
Spain and the bigots. So, marriage or no marriage, Elizabeth must be
conciliated.

The task was not an easy one, for she knew the position as well as
anybody, and was hard to please. She was dissatisfied with the formal
undertaking, which was read to her, and demanded that the King should
add a personally binding confirmation in his own handwriting; but this
he refused to do. When the Queen again talked about marrying Alençon
immediately, if certain new conditions were granted, Castelnau besought
her to speak frankly and state her final terms, so that, in any case,
a firm national alliance might be arranged. She affected to fly into
a passion at this, and said she was not such a simpleton as to trust
Frenchmen if she did not marry Alençon. She then broke into strong
language, as was her wont, and called curses down upon her own head
if she did not instantly marry the Prince after the King granted her
demands. Calling Cecil as witness to her words, she renewed her vows,
swearing like a trooper, until, as Castelnau says, it made his blood
run cold, and Cecil himself whispered to Lady Stafford as he left the
chamber that if the Queen did not fulfil her word this time God would
surely send her to hell for such blasphemy.[165]

The French, however, strongly backed up by Leicester, were now all for
a national alliance, having lost belief in a marriage; the Queen for
her part stoutly maintaining that one thing was impossible without
the other; and when Cobham, early in December, approached the King
with regard to the new conditions demanded, he was made clearly to
understand that there was no belief whatever in the Queen’s sincerity,
and that her object was what we now know it to have been, namely, to
pledge France to a war with Spain, whilst her own hands were free.
The “monk” Marchaumont, too, was equally undeceived and sick of the
whole affair; blamed by Alençon for his ill-success, and ceaselessly
begging for his recall. Indeed, by this time there was not a soul who
believed any more in the marriage negotiations, and Elizabeth began
to grow angry that the trusty weapon which had served her well for so
many years had lost its point. So when La Mothe Fénélon, on his way to
Scotland, spoke to her about the relations between France and England,
she gave him a piece of her mind. She told him that, notwithstanding
all his professions, the King of France was the worst enemy she had.
The Dauphin and Marshal de Biron, she said, although on the frontier
of Flanders with troops, had tarried long there, and had refused to go
to the aid of the States; besides which France, Spain, and the Pope,
were all intriguing against her in Scotland and elsewhere; and the
King was making friends with the Guises again. Having thus tried to
alarm La Mothe, a desperate attempt was made once more to drag up the
marriage. Walsingham assured him that the Queen really was in earnest,
and a suggestion was made that if the King of France would break with
Spain and help Alençon, the Queen would declare the latter heir to the
English crown. As all this was obviously only to delay La Mothe, and
after some days the Queen was peremptorily told that if she did not
allow him to proceed at once to Scotland, he would return to France,
and another ambassador would be sent by sea. She was very angry, and
came to high words with La Mothe, threatening Mary Stuart, in whose
behalf she said she knew all these plots were being carried on. But as
La Mothe was leaving she gave him a last message for the King about
the marriage, saying that if she were exonerated from expense in the
Flemish war, and a regular donation was given to Alençon, she would
marry him. La Mothe replied that they had no longer the slightest
belief in her sincerity, either about the marriage or the Netherlands,
and the King was not much concerned on those points; but if she sent a
single man into Scotland, or interfered there in any way, he would send
four times as many, and take the matter up strongly. He softened this
somewhat by saying that, although the King would not openly make war
upon Spain, the Queen-mother would do so; but all this fencing ended
in talk alone, and La Mothe proceeded on his way to Scotland, leaving
matters in their former condition.

In the meanwhile Alençon’s position was getting more and more
unpleasant. He had succeeded in alienating his Protestant subjects, the
backbone of resistance to Spain; Orange was disgusted with and tired
of him, and was praying Elizabeth and her councillors to have him back
in England, or anything to rid him, Orange, of a profitless burden.
The Dutchmen hated the French more than ever, and Alençon himself was
chafing in impotent fury at his lack of means, his failure, and the
undignified figure he cut before the world. By the aid of his mother,
a number of Frenchmen flocked over the frontier during the winter of
1582-3, and at length Marshal de Biron himself joined the Prince, and
the plot that had long been hatching was attempted. This was nothing
less than by a _coup-de-main_ to seize and garrison all the strong
places in Flanders with Frenchmen. If this succeeded, Alençon might
demand his own terms, either from Philip or Elizabeth, and the combined
attempt was made on the 16th of January, 1583. Alençon himself took
charge of the affair at Antwerp, wherein one thousand additional
Frenchmen had secretly entered. This being noticed by the burghers
aroused suspicion, and certain despatches from Alençon to Marchaumont
in England having been intercepted and read by Orange, the latter gave
timely warning to the Antwerpers. A large body of Frenchmen arrived
suddenly before the town, and an excuse was made that Alençon was to
review them outside the Burgerhout gate. As he sallied from the gate of
the town with his Swiss and French Guard of four hundred men, he was
joined by three hundred French horsemen, and turning towards the gate
he cried to his countrymen, “Courage, comrades, Antwerp is yours!” This
was the signal, and the Flemings at the gate were massacred. The slight
resistance overcome, the main force of the French, with banners flying,
entered the town with cries of “The Duke and the mass.” The burghers,
unaware at first what the tumult meant, were taken by surprise, and
sought refuge in their houses. But soon pillage and murder began to
remind them of the “Spanish fury” of six years before. Alençon and
Biron, however, were very different men from Sancho de Avila and Julian
Romero; and the stout Antwerpers turned upon their false friends,
blocked the streets, mustered their companies, and fought like the
heroes they were in defence of their homes. Fire-eating Fervaques was
taken prisoner, as were du Fargis, le Rieux, and Bodin. Biron’s son,
the nephew of Cardinal Rambouillet, the Duke of St. Aignan, and his
son, and two hundred and fifty other gentlemen were killed; the French
loss altogether reaching two thousand men, one-half of their entire
force, whilst the burghers lost only about one hundred. Alençon, from
afar, outside the town, watched with sinking heart the failure of his
treachery, and when he saw that all was lost, fled with difficulty, by
the swollen rivers hotly pursued until he arrived at Vilvorde, where
the French had succeeded in gaining the upper hand, as they also had
at Ostend, Dixmunde, Alost, and Dunkirk, whilst they had failed at
Antwerp, Ghent and Bruges.

The news came to England confusedly and in fragments at first, and the
Queen was inclined to bring her suitor over to England for safety; but
when full accounts came from the Prince of Orange, and the treason
was thoroughly understood, all England growled at the falseness of
Frenchmen in general and Alençon in particular. Orange sought to fasten
some of the responsibility upon Elizabeth, because, in answer to all
remonstrances as to his action and the increased number of Frenchmen
with him, Alençon had invariably said that he was there as the Queen
of England’s lieutenant, and was acting with her full connivance.
She was, moreover, he said, already his wife before God and man, and
on this plea had obtained large sums of money from her adherents for
his own purposes. Orange was strongly of opinion that Alençon was
acting in concert with the Spaniards, with the ultimate object of
avenging himself upon the English Queen; and entreated her to help
the States in the trouble that had befallen them mainly through their
attachment to her, which had led them to trust Alençon. On the other
hand, Marchaumont tried his best to stem the torrent that was setting
in against his master, and to persuade the Queen that he was forced
to take the step he did; and Elizabeth, who could not yet entirely
turn against him, sent Captain the Honourable John Russell to inquire
into the real facts of the case, and, if necessary, to offer Alençon a
refuge in England. But the Prince’s power, such as it was, had fled,
and with it his spirit and his health. Biron kept command of the French
garrisons in the conquered towns, whilst Alençon wandered from Vilvorde
to Dendremond and thence to Dunkirk, disavowed by his brother, and
cursed even by his mother for his perversity.

Whilst Alençon was at Dendremond, in March, the Queen made an attempt
through Darcy, whom she sent, to patch up a reconciliation between
him and the States. She made an elaborate pretence of disavowing and
threatening Sir John Norris and the Englishmen who had abandoned him
when he attempted to assail the Flemings; but when he asked her to
withdraw them all and leave him to deal with the States alone, she
thought better of it, and the attempts at reconciliation fell through.
But all this time not a word of the marriage. Letter after letter came
from the Prince reproaching the Queen for leaving him unsuccoured in
his misery, and complaining of Norris, who disregarded his authority;
but even he apparently was undeceived now.

By the time he arrived at Dunkirk he was humble indeed. The very sight
of the coast ruled by his “belle Majesté” revives him, and he beseeches
her favour: “a mins jointes avecques les petits dois.” He feels a sweet
and gracious air from her proximity, which he has not experienced since
his sad parting from her; and finally, on the 30th of May, when the
dreaded Farnese was already approaching his refuge, he ventures to
remind her of her “promise and contract with him, and throws himself on
her favour.”[166] But all to no purpose; he had served her turn, and
was now useless to her. A month later he was forced to fly to Calais,
and from thence went to Chaulnes, where his mother saw him for the
first time since his adventure. She had gone with anger on her lips,
but found her son with death in his heart, and had nothing but loving
words for him and consolation for his disappointment. Once more for a
short time an attempt was made by Catharine to maintain an appearance
of keeping up the idea of marriage with Elizabeth, to prevent a closer
approach between England and Spain; but it was only momentary and
meant nothing. A cold, almost severe letter was written by the Queen
to Alençon on the 10th of September, 1583, which really sounds the
death-knell of the marriage.[167] She has not, she says, been favoured
with his letters for a very long time, but now M. de Reaux had visited
her from him. She is much surprised at his message asking what help she
will give him to hold the Netherlands. “My God, Monsieur!” she says,
“is this the way to keep our friends--to be always draining them?
Is the King your brother so weak that he cannot defend his own blood
without the help of his neighbours?” ... It is not her fault, she says,
that things have turned out as they have, and she will not bear the
blame; and she ends the cruel letter with: “God save you from painted
counsels, and enable you to follow those who respect you more than you
respect yourself.”

In January, 1584, Catharine sought her son at Chateau-Thierry, and at
last persuaded him to a reconciliation with his brother, and took him
to Paris with her. There, with tears and repentance on both sides, the
brothers embraced each other, and the King promised his help towards
another expedition to Flanders. Alençon returned to Chateau-Thierry
to make his preparations, and there fell gravely ill. Guise, the
Spaniards, and the Archbishop of Glasgow in Paris, were busy at the
time planning the invasion of England and the liberation of Mary
Stuart; and Catharine, in April, hastened to Alençon with a new project
--that he should share in the plot and marry his sister-in-law, the
Scottish Queen. But his health was broken. For the next two months he
was battling with approaching death, though still actively preparing
for his new expedition. But Elizabeth could not afford to allow the
French to go alone to Flanders, and when she saw that Henry III. was
helping his brother, she suddenly proposed to Castelnau to join her aid
with that of the King. By the time the offer reached Paris Alençon was
dying, and shortly afterwards, on the 11th of June, 1584, he breathed
his last. Catharine cursed the Spaniards, and swore to be revenged
upon them for her dead son, though how they were to blame for his
death is not very clear; but the messages, both from the King and
his mother to Elizabeth, kept up to the last the fiction of the love
and marriage negotiations between her and the dead Prince. Catharine,
indeed, sent to the English Queen the mourning which she wore for her
so-called affianced husband; and the letter in which Elizabeth sent
her condolence to Catharine is carefully conceived in the same strain.
“Your sorrow,” she says, “cannot exceed mine, although you were his
mother. You have another son, but I can find no other consolation than
death, which I hope will soon enable me to rejoin him. If you could see
a picture of my heart, you would see a body without a soul; but I will
not trouble you with my grief, as you have enough of your own.”[168]

In very truth the farce of marriage by this time had been played out
to the bitter end. Elizabeth was now fifty years of age and there were
no princes left in Europe marriage with whom would have given her any
advantage. From the far-off Ivan the Terrible, who had been dismissed
with a gibe, to the youngest of the Valois, with whom she had played
for years, every marriageable prince in Christendom had, in his turn,
been suggested as a suitor for Elizabeth’s hand. The long juggle she
had carried on had resulted in so much advantage to her country that
she was in any case strong enough now to discard the pretence. Her old
enemy, Philip, was a sad and broken recluse, sorely pressed even to
hold his own, unable to avenge his ruined commerce, swept from the seas
by the ubiquitous Drake, whilst his destined successor was too young
to be feared, and he had no man of his house to second him. One more
despairing effort was he to make in which he was to risk his all and
lose it on the hazard of regaining the paramount position from which he
had allowed himself to be ousted by the bold chicanery of the English
Queen. But the armada was beaten by anticipation years before it was
launched amid so much pompous mummery; for the English seamen knew full
well that fast, well-handled ships that would sail close to the wind
could harass the cumbrous galleons of Philip as they pleased, and the
victory for England was a foregone conclusion. The King of France was a
childless cipher, incapable of great designs or important action; his
mother, whose busy brain had for so long been the dominant factor in
France, was rapidly sinking to her rest. Protestantism was now firmly
rooted in England, and had nothing to fear from within during the life
of the great Queen, whose popularity was unbounded amongst all sections
of her subjects, whilst in the rest of Europe it was evidently a waxing
rather than a waning power. The Huguenot Henry of Navarre was next heir
to the French crown, and could be trusted to give a good account of
the Pope, the Guises, and the league; the strong Protestant princes of
Germany rendered the Emperor harmless as a Catholic force, whilst the
stubborn determination of the brave Dutchmen to hold to their faith at
all costs, gave to their sympathetic English neighbours the certainty
of a guiding voice in their affairs.

Elizabeth had, in fact, begun her long marriage juggle in 1559 in
hourly danger of being overwhelmed and crushed by her own Catholic
subjects, in union with one or the other of her great Continental
neighbours; she ended it in 1583, triumphant all along the line, with
both her rivals crippled and distracted, whilst she really held the
balance of peace and war in Europe in her hands.

So at length the elaborate pretence of marriage negotiations, which for
many years had been her great card, always ready to be played in the
interests of England, could safely be abandoned. But it was too much to
expect an elderly woman of Elizabeth’s temperament, who for the whole
of her adult lifetime had fed her colossal vanity with the tradition
of her irresistible beauty, who had gained great ends and derived the
keenest enjoyment from the comedy of love-making, to give up entirely
what for so long had brought her pleasure, profit, and power.

It was no longer a question of marriage, of course, but many gallant
gentlemen, Raleigh, Essex, Blount, Harrington, and the rest of them,
were yet to keep her hand in at the courtly old game, and bow their
handsome heads before the perennial beauty which had now become an
article of the national faith. With these one-sided courtships, the
vain amusements of the Queen in her declining age, we have nought to
do in these pages. The death of François de Valois, Duke of Anjou, and
Alençon, removed from the scene the last serious suitor for the Queen’s
hand in marriage; and his passing bell rang down the curtain upon the
longest and most eventful comedy in the history of England.


THE END.



[Illustration]

INDEX.


  A.

  Adolphus, Duke of Holstein, a suitor for the Queen’s hand, 26-7.

  Alençon François de Valois, Duke of, suggested match with Elizabeth,
        143, 148-51;
    formal offer of his hand, 154;
    description of his person, 155-9;
    free from blame for St. Bartholomew, 166;
    his first letter to Elizabeth, 166-7;
    his plan to visit England, 167;
    at Rochelle, 169-71;
    revival of his suit, 172;
    Dale’s description of him, 173;
    projected escape and visit to England, 175-6;
    the plan divulged by Margaret, 177-8;
    ill and indurance, 178-81;
    his escape and flight, 182-3;
    in revolt against Henry III., 183-4;
    is induced to make peace, 186;
    made Duke of Anjou, 186;
    suggested marriage with the Infanta, &c., 186;
    becomes ostentatiously Catholic, 187;
    quarrels with his brother’s Court, 187;
    his arrest, 187-8;
    escape, 178-90;
    is approached by the Flemish Catholics, 189;
    enters Flanders to relieve Mons, 192;
    sends envoys to Elizabeth, 193;
    his position in Flanders, 196-8;
    sends Simier to London, 199;
    his love-letters to Elizabeth, 201-2;
    unpopularity of the match in England, 203;
    discussion of his conditions, 204-7;
    his visit to England, 210-11;
    he captivates Elizabeth, 212-13;
    departs, 214;
    presses his suit, 218;
    raises scruples about religion, 225;
    his plans in Flanders, 225-30;
    against an alliance of England and France, 230;
    accepts the sovereignty of Flanders, 230-1;
    Catholic efforts to dissuade him, 233;
    sends Marchaumont, 236;
    _La belle jarretière_, 236;
    his alleged sudden visit to England, 245-50;
    determined to relieve Cambrai, 252-3;
    his mother’s attempts to dissuade him, 256;
    his anger with Elizabeth, 257;
    he enters Flanders, 258;
    prays Elizabeth for money, 259-60;
    his visit to England, 262-9;
    he refuses to leave England, 268;
    Elizabeth’s pledge to him, 269-70;
    his rage at her inconstancy, 273, 279;
    the States offer him the sovereignty, 279;
    his unwillingness to leave England, 280-1;
    threats of vengeance against Elizabeth, 284;
    his romantic appeal to Elizabeth, 286;
    English discontent at his stay, 287;
    the States press him, 287;
    his joy at his brother’s acceptance of Elizabeth’s conditions, 288;
    Elizabeth again cool, 289;
    he insists upon Simier’s leaving England, 290;
    he swears to raise civil war in France;
    Pinart and the Dauphin reproach him, 295;
    at last sails for Holland, 299-300;
    arrives at Flushing, 302;
    crowned Duke of Brabant, 302-3;
    Elizabeth’s feigned anger thereat, 303-5;
    begs for money, 305-8;
    Elizabeth’s fickleness with him, 309-11;
    new hopes of the marriage, 313, 317, 318;
    in despair begs for more money, 320, 322;
    again hopeful, 322-3;
    desperate position in Flanders, 325;
    his seizure of the fortresses, 325-7;
    his flight, 327;
    his humble appeals to Elizabeth, 329;
    her cold reply, 329-30;
    illness, 330;
    Catharine’s proposal to marry him to Mary Stuart, 330;
    his proposed new expedition to Flanders, 330;
    his death, 331.

  Angoulême, Duke of, offered in infancy as a suitor for Elizabeth, 5.

  Anjou, Duke of (see also Henry III.), proposal to marry him to
        Elizabeth, 114-43;
    personal descriptions of him, 120-1;
    is persuaded by the Catholics against the match, 122;
    formal offer of his hand, 128;
    proposed conditions, 129-30;
    his reported Huguenot leanings, 133, 137-8;
    the religious question to be omitted from the conditions, 134, 136;
    stands firm about religion, 140-1;
    refuses to marry Elizabeth, 143;
    renewed negotiations for his marriage, 145-9;
    besieges Rochelle, 169;
    elected King of Poland, 171, 175;
    succeeds to the crown of France, 182.

  Antonio, Don, the Portuguese pretender, 264.

  Antwerp, Alençon’s treacherous attempt to seize, 325-7.

  Aquila, Bishop of, _see_ Quadra.

  Arques, D’, 299.

  Arran, Earl of (Duke of Chatelherault), Elizabeth’s hand offered to him, 6;
    his proposed marriage with Elizabeth, 40-1, 47, 49;
    proposed marriage with Mary Stuart, 66.

  Arundel, Earl of (Fitzalan), his son offered to Elizabeth, 15-16;
    becomes a suitor himself, 16, 21, 23-6, 29, 37, 41;
    falls to fisticuffs with Clinton, 47;
    inquires into Lady Robert Dudley’s death, 63;
    favours the Archduke Charles’ suit, 96.

  Arundel, Earl of (Philip Howard), 263.

  Ashley, Mrs., governess to Princess Elizabeth, 8-11.

  Avila, Sancho de, 326.


  B.

  Bacon, Lady, 96.

  Bacon, Sir Nicholas, 101, 103, 110;
    his posthumous papers against the Alençon match, 204.

  Bacqueville, M. de, sent by Alençon to England, 192, 193;
    received by Elizabeth, 194-6, 313.

  Baden, Margravine of (Cecilia of Sweden), her visit to England, 95-6.

  Balagny, 231.

  Bayonne, the Catholic interviews at, 76, 84-6.

  Bedford, Earl of, 37, 41, 51;
    sent to Catharine de Medici to propose joint action on Council of
        Trent, 58, 72;
    action respecting the Alençon match, 242.

  Bertie, Richard, proposed envoy to the Emperor, 103.

  Bex de, Alençon’s secretary, 234, 249-50, 263-4.

  Biron, Marshal de, 324-6, 328.

  Bôchetel de la Forest, French ambassador, 105.

  Bodin, Jean, sent to England by Alençon, 233, 327.

  Boleyn, Anne, 5-6.

  Boulogne, siege of, 6.

  Bourg, Captain, an envoy from Alençon, 214, 227.

  Briant, execution of, 266.

  Brisson Barnabé, 238, 240, 242, 251.

  Bromley, Sir Thomas, Lord Chancellor, against the Alençon
        match, 206, 273.

  Bussy d’Amboise, 187, 189-90;
    sent to England, 196;
    killed in a duel, 213.


  C.

  Calais, suggested recession to England, 49;
    demanded as a pledge by Elizabeth, 288, 294, 297.

  Cambrai, the relief of, 246, 250, 252, 256, 258-60, 275.

  Campion, execution of, 266.

  Carew, 17.

  Carlos Don, proposed marriage with Mary Stuart, 66, 70;
    Elizabeth hints at him as a suitor, 76, 83, 89.

  Carnavalet, Madame, 137.

  Carrouge, Count de, 238, 240.

  Castelnau de la Mauvissière, French ambassador, 149;
    sent to England, 166, 168, 184, 187, 200, 202, 207-8, 210-11, 214;
    threatens Elizabeth with the publication of her letters to
        Alençon, 225-6;
    his interviews with Elizabeth, 264, 269, 306;
    declines to believe Elizabeth’s professed desire to marry
        Alençon, 309;
    his scandalous words to Elizabeth, 312;
    shocked at Elizabeth’s profanity, 323.

  Catharine de Medici, Queen-mother of France, 3-4, 57, 66, 69, 71, 76;
    offers Charles IX. to Elizabeth, 79-80, 82-7, 103;
    favours Leicester’s suit, 104-5;
    proposals to marry Anjou to Mary Stuart, 114;
    her negotiations for Anjou’s marriage with Elizabeth, 115-17, 123-5;
    her interview with Buckhurst, 124-5;
    her interviews with Walsingham, 127, 135, 137;
    anxiety for the Anjou match, 140-1;
    plans to marry Anjou elsewhere, 144;
    her renewed negotiations for the Anjou match, 145-9;
    proposes Alençon to Elizabeth, 149 _passim_;
    her action after St. Bartholomew, 166, 168-71;
    again offers Alençon, 172-3;
    keeps Alençon and Navarre in durance, 175-81;
    pursues Alençon in his flight, 183;
    again pursues Alençon, 190;
    her plans against the Huguenots, 197-8;
    Elizabeth praises her, 215;
    she opposes Alençon’s entrance into Flanders, 246, 251;
    her interview with Walsingham, 256;
    attempts to bribe Alençon, 256;
    makes light of Elizabeth’s pledge to Alençon, 275;
    her anger with Alençon for trusting Elizabeth, 286;
    helps Alençon in the Netherlands, 322;
    meets Alençon on his flight from Flanders, 329;
    proposes to marry him to Mary Stuart, 330;
    swears to be revenged upon the Spaniards for Alençon’s death, 330;
    Elizabeth’s letter to her on Alençon’s death, 331.

  Catharine of Aragon, 5, 16-17.

  Catharine of Navarre, her suggested marriage with Alençon, 186.

  Catholics, persecution of, during Alençon’s stay in England, 266.

  Cavalcanti, Guido, Catharine de Medici’s envoy to Elizabeth, about the
         Anjou match, 116, 128-9, 131, 136-7, 138, 140, 142;
    his negotiations for the Alençon match, 148-50, 154, 173.

  Cecil, Lady, 96.

  Cecil, Sir Thomas, 224.

  Cecil, William, Lord Burleigh, 2, 12, 32, 35, 40, 41, 43;
    favours the Swedish match, 49;
    complains of Dudley, 50-2;
    frustrates Dudley’s Catholic intrigues, 57-63;
    opposed to the match with Charles IX., 79-80, 81, 89;
    in favour of the Archduke, 101, 103-4, 110;
    his attitude towards the Anjou match, 129-30, 139, 142, 144;
    his attitude towards the Alençon match, 161-3, 195-6, 202, 204, 216,
        226-7, 234, 241-2, 256, 258, 266, 270, 273, 281, 287-8, 298,
        305, 307, 310, 313, 323.

  Challoner, Sir Thomas, 32, 34.

  Champigny (Perennot), Flemish envoy to England, 184.

  Champvallon accompanies Alençon to England, 278.

  Charles, Archduke, a suitor for the Queen’s hand, 34-6, 41-8;
    proposed marriage with Mary Stuart, 66-9;
    renewed proposals to Elizabeth, 78, 81-2, 88-95, 97-105;
    the negotiations finally abandoned, 111-13, 116.

  Charles V. 5-6, 17.

  Charles IX. of France, 71;
    proposals for his marriage with Elizabeth, 77-8, 83-7;
    his marriage with a daughter of the Emperor, 113;
    urges the Anjou match with Elizabeth, 123-4, 128, 131-2, 135, 140-1;
    his new alienation from England and the Protestants, 160-1, 164;
    his explanation of St. Bartholomew, 165;
    renewed approaches to England, 168-71;
    illness of, 174;
    his death, 179-81.

  Chartres, Vidame de, proposes the Anjou match, 115, 118, 169.

  Chastelard, 79.

  Chateauneuf, Mdlle., Anjou’s mistress, 138, 145.

  Chatillon, Cardinal, proposes the Anjou match, 115, 118.

  Chelsea, 7.

  Cigogne reports Alençon’s departure for England, 248.

  Cleves, Princess of, suggested marriage with Alençon, 186.

  Clinton, Earl of Lincoln, 51;
    sent to France to ratify the alliance, 154-5, 156-8;
    his attitude towards the Alençon match, 216.

  Clinton, Lady, 119.

  Cobham, Henry, sent to the Emperor, 113, 116;
    sent to Spain, 185;
    English ambassador in France, 233, 252, 257, 281;
    his accounts of the attitude of Henry III. towards Alençon and
        Elizabeth, 305-7, 323.

  Cobham, Lady, 96, 119.

  Cobham, Lord, 96, 238.

  Coconas, Count, his plan for Alençon’s escape discovered, 177;
    his execution, 178, 186.

  Coligny, 143, 144, 145, 157, 161, 165.

  Coloredo, his description of Elizabeth, 60.

  Condé, Prince of, 76, 168-9, 183, 227;
    visits Elizabeth, 228.

  Corbet, English envoy to Flanders, 184.

  Correro, Venetian ambassador, his description of Anjou, 120.

  Cossé, Marshal de, 178, 227, 238, 240, 252.

  Courtney, proposed marriage with Mary, 13;
    proposed marriage with Elizabeth, 14-15.

  Cranmer, 16.

  Crofts, Sir James, 204, 234, 257, 269, 275.

  Crusol, Madame de, 79.


  D.

  Dale, Dr. Valentine, English Ambassador in France, his negotiations
        with Catharine concerning the Alençon match, 172-3, 174;
    intercedes for La Mole, 178;
    intercedes for Alençon, 180-1.

  Danett, Thomas, sent to the Emperor, 105.

  Darcy sent by Elizabeth to reconcile Alençon with the States, 328.

  Darnley, Lord, 66-7;
    married to Mary Stuart, 71, 74, 88, 90, 95, 100.

  Dassonleville, Philip’s Flemish agent, 21.

  Dauphin, Prince (of Auvergne), special ambassador to England,
        237-40, 242;
    accompanies Alençon to England, 264, 267;
    rebukes Alençon for his treasonable talk, 295;
    on the Flemish frontier, 324.

  Denny, 10.

  Dorset, Earl of, concerned in Seymour’s plot, 9.

  Drake, Sir Francis, 231, 233;
    knighted by Marchaumont, 235.

  Dudley, Lady Robert, her husband’s alleged plot to murder, 31, 45;
    her death, 50, 54, 63, 83.

  Dudley, Robert, Earl of Leicester, 2, 29-31, 33-4, 36, 38-40;
    intrigues to prevent the Austrian match, 41-6, 48-9, 50;
    presses his own suit, 53-65;
    solicits Spanish aid, 53-9;
    solicits Huguenot aid, 63-4;
    favours Darnley’s marriage with Mary Stuart, 67;
    proposed marriage with Mary Stuart, 69-70;
    made Earl of Leicester, 73;
    his fresh Catholic intrigues, 75;
    ostensibly favours the Archduke Charles, 82-3;
    Spanish approaches to, 89-90;
    French approaches to, 94;
    suggested marriage with an Austrian princess, 95;
    again feigns approval of the Austrian match, 97-8;
    quarrel with Heneage, 98;
    reproached by Norfolk, 102;
    his suit again in the ascendant, 103;
    favoured by the French, 104-5, 106;
    quarrels with Sussex and Ormond, 107;
    reproached by the Queen, 108-9;
    feigns support to the Anjou match, 116-17;
    proposed marriage with the Princess of Cleves, 138;
    his attitude towards Alençon’s suit, 163, 197, 200, 202-3, 204, 207;
    his jealousy of Simier, whom he attempts to murder, 209;
    his second marriage, 210;
    is against the Alençon match, 216, 222, 228, 239, 241-2, 244, 248-9,
        250-1, 261, 265, 267, 268, 270-1, 273, 275, 278, 292, 297, 298;
    accompanies Alençon to Holland, 299-301-3;
    his return to England, 304-6;
    anger of the Queen with him, 305;
    in favour of an English protectorate of the Netherlands, 310;
    fears of Alençon’s again visiting England, 320;
    opposes the marriage, 323.

  Durham Place, 9, 46, 96.


  E.

  Edward VI., 6-7.

  Egmont, Count, 15.

  Elector Palatine, 71-2.

  Elizabeth, Queen, objects of her diplomacy, 1-4;
    proposed betrothal to Philip II., 7;
    her connection with Seymour, 8-11;
    various proposals for her marriage, 12-13;
    Courtney, 14-17;
    Duke of Savoy, 16-20, 22;
    her imprisonment, 17;
    released at the request of Philip, 17-18;
    Eric of Sweden offers his hand, 19-21;
    her accession, 21-3;
    her English suitors, 25-6;
    Philip’s offer to her, 27-8;
    Pickering, 29-30, 33-4;
    Dudley, 33-4;
    the Archdukes, 34-9;
    rumoured plot to kill her and Dudley, 41-2;
    the Archduke Charles, 42-8, 49-52;
    her relations with Dudley, 53-70;
    description of her, 60;
    alleged marriage with Dudley, 67-8;
    falls ill of small-pox, 68;
    offers Dudley to Mary Stuart, 69, 72-4;
    fresh approaches to the house of Austria, 76-7;
    proposals to marry Charles IX., 77-81, 83-87, 88-95;
    the Archduke Charles, 89-94;
    the Swedish suit, 95-6;
    the Austrian conditions, 97-9;
    Heneage, 98-100;
    she confesses her attachment to Leicester, 102-3, 104;
    renewed hints to Charles IX., 106;
    her rage with her councillors and Parliament, 108-9;
    end of the Austrian negotiations, 111-13;
    proposed marriage with the Duke of Anjou, 114-128;
    draft conditions for the marriage, 129-30;
    obstinacy of Anjou about religion, 133-43, 144-51;
    Alençon proposed, 148;
    draft treaty with France and the Huguenots, 154;
    her reception of Montmorenci and de Foix, 155-6;
    she objects to Alençon’s appearance, 158-9;
    desires to see him, 159-60;
    reception of La Mole, 161-4;
    first letter from Alençon, 166-7;
    consents to stand sponsor to Charles IX.’s daughter, 169;
    renewed negotiations with Alençon, 172-5;
    she cools towards the match, 176-81;
    marriage negotiations with Alençon again renewed, 184;
    she again approaches the Spaniards, 184-5;
    her fresh approach to Alençon rejected, 187;
    she opposes French interference in Flanders, 191-2;
    she urges Don John to make peace, 192-3;
    Alençon’s suit again revived, 193 _passim_;
    her reception of Simier, 200;
    her letters to Alençon, 201-2;
    her preparations for Alençon’s visit, 204;
    is offended at the Council’s opposition to the match, 206;
    her attachment for Simier, 207-8, 209-10;
    her rage at Leicester’s marriage, 210;
    Alençon’s arrival, 211;
    she falls in love with him, 212-13;
    her anger with the Council, 216-17;
    her farewell to Simier, 221-2;
    she cools towards the match, 225;
    her perplexity, 226-7;
    decides to aid Alençon in Flanders, 227-30, 233;
    her favour to Marchaumont, 234-5;
    the incident of the garter, 236;
    reception of the special French embassy, 237-244;
    plans with Marchaumont Alençon’s secret visit, 245-6;
    her reception of Alençon, 247-9;
    her change of tone; letter to Alençon, 253;
    her attempts to draw Henry III. into war with Spain, 255-6;
    her alarm, 257;
    the marriage negotiations again resumed, 257-8;
    her hesitancy, 258;
    opposes Alençon’s coming, 261;
    gives way, 262;
    her reception of him, 264-6;
    solemnly pledges herself to Alençon, 269-70;
    she minimises the pledge at the instance of Leicester, 272;
    Alençon’s anger, 273;
    her negotiations with Pinart, 273-4;
    offers Alençon a subsidy, 274-5;
    her demands, 276;
    her rage with Leicester and Fervaques about Simier, 278;
    her anxiety to get rid of Alençon, 279;
    her intrigues with this end, 281-6;
    Henry III. accepts all her conditions, 288;
    she demands Calais as security, 288;
    her alarm at Henry III.’s complaisance, 291;
    she dashes Alençon’s hopes, 294;
    alarmed at Pinart’s threats, 297;
    prevails upon Alençon to go, 299;
    her anger at Leicester, 305;
    her fear of the consequences of Alençon’s action in Flanders, 305-6;
    her intrigues to induce him to retire, 306-8;
    again beguiles him with hopes of marriage, 309-12;
    her attempts to cajole Henry III., 309-11;
    her fear of French influence in Flanders, 311, 314-15;
    her letter to Alençon, 316-17, 318-19;
    her plan for a confederation of Northern powers, 319;
    Henry III. again approaches her, 320-1;
    she swears to marry Alençon, 323;
    promises to make him her heir, 324;
    her sincerity now generally distrusted, 323-5;
    her coldness to Alençon after his flight, 329-30;
    but offers to aid his new expedition, 330;
    her mourning for Alençon, 331;
    the marriage plans at an end, 331;
    success of Elizabeth’s policy, 332-3.

  Elizabeth de Valois, Queen of Spain, 76.

  Eric XIV. of Sweden, his approaches to Elizabeth, 19-21, 31-2, 40, 45,
        47, 49-52, 62;
    proposes to Mary Stuart, 66;
    renews his suit to Elizabeth, 83, 95-6.

  Essex, Countess of (Lettice Knollys), 98;
    her marriage to Leicester, 209-10.

  Este, Francesco d’, 12.


  F.

  Fargis, M. de, 327.

  Ferdinand, Archduke, a suitor for Elizabeth, 22-3, 24-5, 32-6, 38.

  Ferdinand, Emperor, 35, 43-4, 48, 71;
    death of, 78, 88.

  Fere, La, interview between Walsingham and Alençon at, 256.

  Feria, Count de, Spanish ambassador, 19-20, 21-3, 24-5, 26-7,
        31, 33, 43.

  Ferrara, Duke of, his son suggested as a suitor for Elizabeth, 12.

  Fervaques, 231, 246, 276-8, 327.

  Figueroa, Spanish ambassador, 20.

  Finland, Duke of, offers his hand, 47.

  Foix, Paul de, French ambassador, 79-80, 81-2, 83-7, 89-94, 103-5;
    his negotiations for the Anjou match, 125, 127, 135, 136-7,
        141-2, 145-9;
    his visit to England about the Alençon match, 148, 155;
    reception by Elizabeth, 155-6.

  Fleix, the peace of, 231.

  Florent (Ajacet), 49.

  Francis I., 5.

  Francis II. of France, 41, 49;
    his death, 57.

  French special embassy to England about the Alençon match, 237-44;
    dismay at Alençon’s sudden visit, 248;
    departure of the embassy, 251.

  Frog, the Queen’s pet name for Alençon.


  G.

  Gardiner, Bishop, won over to the Spanish match, 15, 20.

  Genlis, his rout in Flanders, by Don Fadrique de Toledo, 160-1.

  Gerau de Spes, Spanish ambassador, 131, 133, 139.

  Gondi, Count de Retz, sent to England about Alençon’s match, 173-4.

  Granvelle, Cardinal, 42, 60, 65.

  Greenwich, 41;
    scene with Dudley at, 61-2;
    meeting of the Council at, 216.

  Grey, Lady Catharine, Spanish plan to marry her to Archduke
        Charles, 46.

  Guidotti, Sir Anthony, 12.

  Guises, the, 66, 69, 114, 122-3, 138, 140, 160, 166-7, 177, 224, 234,
        256, 320, 322, 330.

  Guzman de Silva, Spanish ambassador, 75, 81-3, 86;
    his attitude towards the Austrian match, 89-93, 96;
    his belief in Leicester’s success, 99, 102-3, 105;
    his interview with the Queen concerning Parliament, 108.


  H.

  Hampton Court, 41;
    Queen falls ill of small-pox at, 69;
    receives Melvil at, 72;
    receives La Mothe at, 117.

  Hans Casimir, Duke, proposes to Elizabeth, 71-2;
    raises mercenaries for the Huguenots, &c., 183, 186, 192, 233.

  Hans Frederick of Saxony, his son suggested as a suitor for
        Elizabeth, 12, 47.

  Hanworth, 7.

  Harrington, concerned in Seymour’s plot, 9.

  Hatfield, 10, 20-21.

  Hatton, Sir Christopher, 203, 204, 218, 222, 242, 250, 261, 270-1,
        297, 300, 304, 310.

  Havre, English occupation of, 68.

  Havrey, Marquis d’, 193.

  Helfenstein, Imperial ambassador, 47-48.

  Heneage, Sir Thomas, 98-100, 101, 113.

  Henry VIII., 5-6, 16.

  Henry III., King of France, 182, 186;
    arrests Alençon, 187-91;
    his attitude towards the Alençon match, 222-3, 229, 231, 233;
    opposes Alençon’s plans in Flanders, 246-7, 250-1, 252-3, 255-6,
        268-9, 281, 287;
    he accepts all of Elizabeth’s conditions, 288;
    refuses to countenance Alençon in Flanders, 305;
    his anger with Elizabeth, 306;
    Elizabeth’s distrust of him, 311-15;
    fears of the Guises again draw him to Elizabeth, 320-2;
    favours an alliance but disbelieves in the marriage, 323;
    reconciled to Alençon, 330;
    now powerless to harm England, 332.

  Horsey, Edmund, English envoy in France, 172.

  Howard, Admiral Lord, 214.

  Howard, Lord, his son suggested as a suitor, 25.

  Howard, Lord Harry, 263.

  Hunsdon, Lord, accompanies Alençon to Holland, 300, 302.


  I.

  Isabel, Clara Eugenia Infanta, suggested marriage with Alençon, 186.


  J.

  James V. of Scotland, 6.

  James VI. of Scotland, birth of, 107.

  Jauregui, his attempt to assassinate Orange, 308.

  John Don, of Austria, Elizabeth suggests marriage with him, he seizes
        Namur, 188, 191;
    Elizabeth urges him to make peace, 192.


  K.

  Kenilworth, Elizabeth takes La Mole thither, 162-3;
    Elizabeth receives news of St. Bartholomew at, 164.

  Killigrew, 40-1.

  Killigrew, Henry, English envoy in France, 144;
    interview with the Queen-mother, 145-7, 149-51.

  Knollys, Sir Francis, remonstrates with the Queen about the Alençon
         match, 218.


  L.

  Lafin, pursued by Fervaques into Elizabeth’s presence, 278.

  Lansac, 238, 240, 287.

  L’Archant, Captain of Anjou’s guard, sent to England, 136-9, 140.

  L’Aubespine, Secretary, special envoy to Elizabeth, 197.

  Leicester, Earl of, _see_ Dudley.

  Leighton, Thomas, special envoy to France, 179-80.

  Lennox, Earl of, 72.

  Lethington, William Maitland, laird of, 67, 68-9, 70, 89.

  Lignerolles, his murder, 141, 144.

  Limoges, Bishop of, 147.

  Lincoln, Earl of, _see_ Clinton.

  Lippomano, his story respecting the Queen and Alençon, 265.

  L’isle, Madame, cipher name for Elizabeth, 168.

  Long Melford, Suffolk, De Bacqueville received by the Queen at, 194.

  Lorraine, Cardinal, 69, 76, 137, 140.

  Lucidor, Don, cipher name for Alençon, 168, 176.

  Lumley, Lady, 25.


  M.

  Maisonfleur, his mission to Elizabeth, 167-8, 175-6.

  Mansfeldt, Count, 48.

  Marchaumont, Alençon’s agent in England, 233;
    knights Drake, 235;
    sends Elizabeth’s garter to Alençon, 236;
    urges Alençon to visit England, 241, 244-5, 248-9, 250, 252;
    again urges Alençon to visit England, 260, 262;
    his reception of Alençon, 262-3, 276;
    complains to Elizabeth of Leicester’s talk about Alençon, 304;
    continually begs for money for Alençon, 305, 307-8, 313-14, 324.

  Margaret de Valois, Queen of Navarre, divulges the plot for Alençon’s
        escape, 177, 181, 189-90;
    opposes the Alençon match, 231, 277-8, 317-18.

  Martyr, Peter, 41.

  Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, 2, 6, 28, 40;
    the question of her re-marriage, 61-3, 65-6, 68-75, 77-8,
        88, 101, 107;
    Catholic proposal to marry her to Anjou, 114, 123, 134, 138, 143;
    her imprudent letter to Elizabeth about Simier, 208;
    plots in her favour, 224, 330;
    proposal to marry her to Alençon, 330.

  Mary Tudor, Queen of England, 6;
    her accession, 13;
    projected marriage with Courtney, 13;
    captured by the Spanish interest, 13;
    married to Philip, 13-18;
    her treatment of Elizabeth, 14-20;
    her death, 21, 27.

  Mary of Lorraine, Queen Dowager of Scotland, 6.

  Mathias, Archduke, 188.

  Maximilian, Emperor, 78, 88-9, 97-9, 102-3, 105.

  Medici, Duke of Florence, his son suggested as a suitor for
        Elizabeth, 12;
    a daughter of, suggested as a match for Alençon, 301.

  Melvil, Sir James, his visits to Elizabeth, 71-74;
    his description of her, 74-5.

  Mendoza, Bernardino de, Spanish ambassador, 190, 194, 197, 202, 204-5,
        208, 212, 214, 226-7, 228, 241, 243, 248, 256-7, 261-3, 266,
        275, 309.

  Mery, M. de, 234;
    carries the Queen’s garter to Alençon, 236.

  Michaeli, Venetian ambassador, his description of Anjou, 120.

  Moine, _see_ Marchaumont.

  Mole, La, his mission to England, 161;
    reception by Elizabeth, 162-4;
    to accompany Alençon to England, 168;
    plans Alençon’s escape, 177;
    his execution, 178, 186.

  Monkey, the Queen’s pet name for Simier.

  Montgomeri, Count de, 169;
    at the siege of Rochelle, 170-1.

  Montmorenci, Marshal, 60, 135, 136, 145;
    reception by Elizabeth, 154-6;
    splendid entertainment of him, 156;
    consulted by Charles IX., 161;
    his party joins the Huguenots, 175, 178;
    released from prison, 183.

  Morette, envoy of the Duke of Savoy, 59.

  Morysine, Sir Richard, 12.

  Mothe Fénélon, La, his negotiations in favour of the Anjou match,
        116-18, 119-24, 127-8, 131-4, 137;
    suggests Alençon as a suitor, 150;
    his negotiations respecting Alençon, &c., 161-4;
    visits the Queen after St. Bartholomew’s, 165-6, 170;
    renewed negotiations for Alençon, 176;
    sent to England, 238, 240, 244-5, 251;
    his interviews with Elizabeth on his way to Scotland, 324-5.

  Mowbray sent by Dudley to Henry of Navarre, 64.


  N.

  Navarre, King Henry of, approached by Dudley, 63;
    marriage with Margaret de Valois, 138, 140, 142, 154, 166;
    to accompany Alençon to England, 168-9;
    kept tightly by Catharine, 175-6, 177;
    he escapes and heads the Huguenots, 186, 197, 230;
    next heir to the crown of France, 332.

  Navarre, Queen of, _see_ Margaret.

  Nemours, Duke of, proposed as a suitor, 59.

  Nerac, the treaty of, 215.

  Nevers, Duke de, his son proposed as a suitor, 49.

  Noailles, French ambassador, his intrigues against the Spanish
        marriages, 14-18.

  Norfolk, Duchess of, 26.

  Norfolk, Duke of, 23, 29;
    in favour of the match with Archduke Charles, 45-6, 47;
    admitted to the Privy Council, 68;
    pressing the Archduke’s suit, 95-6, 100-3;
    reproached by the Queen, 108, 110;
    his conspiracy, 134, 144, 152, 178.

  Norris, Sir John, with Alençon in Holland, 302, 328.

  North, Lord, special envoy to France, 180;
    conversation with Catharine, 181;
    quarrels with Sussex, 195.

  Northampton, Marquis of, the Queen’s anger with him, 108.

  Northumberland, Duke of, his plans for Elizabeth’s marriage,
        11-12, 13.

  Noue, La, 227, 230.

  Nuncio, proposed dispatch of, to England, 59.


  O.

  Obterre, Marchaumont’s secretary, 234.

  Orange, Prince of, 185, 188, 225, 227, 291, 301-3, 305;
    attempted assassination of, 308-9, 311-12;
    Salcedo’s plot to murder, 320;
    tired of Alençon, 325, 326-7.

  Ormond, Earl of, 103, 107.

  Oudenarde, fall of, 319.

  Oxford, Earl of, 29.


  P.

  Paget, Lord, 14-15.

  Parr, Catharine, marries Thomas Seymour, 7;
    her treatment of Elizabeth, 7-8.

  Parry, Sir Thomas, Cofferer to Princess Elizabeth, 8-11.

  Paulet, Sir Amyas, English minister in France, 198.

  _Pelican_, the, Drake’s ship, 235.

  Pembroke, Earl of, 58, 67;
    the Queen’s anger with him, 108;
    receives the special French embassy, 238.

  Philip II., 3-4;
    his suggested marriage with Elizabeth, 7;
    marries Mary, 13-20;
    his approaches to Elizabeth, 21-3;
    his attitude towards an Austrian match, 24-5;
    offers his hand to Elizabeth, 27-8;
    inclined to aid Dudley, 57, 62, 83, 100;
    rejoices at St. Bartholomew, 166;
    his fleet well received by Elizabeth, 184;
    Henry Cobham sent to him, 185;
    disbelieves in the Alençon match, 197;
    his pretensions to the crown of Portugal, 215;
    plots with Mary Stuart for the invasion of England, 224;
    crippled by Elizabeth’s policy, 331.

  Pickering, Sir William, a suitor for Elizabeth’s hand, 25, 29-30;
    arrives in England, 33-4, 36-7;
    quarrels with Bedford and Arundel, 37.

  Pinart, Secretary, 238, 244, 251, 273-4, 276, 279, 288;
    reproaches Alençon for his treasonable talk, 295;
    threatens Elizabeth, 297-8.

  Porte, La, sent to England by Alençon, 184.

  Pruneaux, M. de, 311.


  Q.

  Quadra, Alvaro de, Bishop of Aquila, Spanish ambassador, 24, 26, 32,
        34-6, 38-9, 41-4, 45-50, 53-62, 64-5;
    accused of slandering Elizabeth, 67.

  Quélus, M. de, 190.

  Quincy, M. de, an envoy from Alençon, 193-4, 195-6, 276, 277.


  R.

  Rambouillet, Marquis de, special French envoy to Elizabeth, 197.

  Randolph, Sir Thomas, 40;
    sent to report on Alençon’s appearance, 175-6.

  Ravenstein, Baron, Imperial ambassador, 34-6, 37, 38, 39, 48.

  Renard, Simon, proposes Mary’s marriage with Philip, 13-14;
    proposes Elizabeth’s marriage with Emmanuel Philibert of
        Savoy, 16-20.

  Reaux, M. de, visits Elizabeth from Alençon, 329.

  Richmond, 17-18;
    Alençon lodged at, 263-4.

  Ridolfi plot, 122, 131, 139.

  Rochelle, siege of, 168-71, 172, 177.

  Rochetaillé, an envoy from Alençon, 203, 207.

  Romero, Julian, 326.

  Russell, Honble. John, sent to Alençon, 328.


  S.

  Sackville, Sir Thomas, proposed envoy to the Emperor, 103, 104-5.

  Saint Aignan, Duke de, 327.

  Saint Aldegonde, 265, 291, 296.

  St. Bartholomew, 144, 148;
    reception of the news in England, 164-5.

  Salcedo’s plot to murder Alençon and Orange, 320.

  Sancerre, Count de, 238.

  Savoy, Duke of, a suitor for Elizabeth’s hand, 16-20, 22.

  Schafanoya, 28-9, 33.

  Serpente, Madame la, cipher name for Catharine de Medici, 168, 176.

  Seymour, Thomas, Lord Seymour of Sudeley, his treatment of
        Elizabeth, 7-8;
    his plot, 9-11.

  Sharington concerned in Seymour’s plot, 9.

  Sherwin, execution of, 266.

  Sidney, Lady Mary, 41, 55.

  Sidney, Sir Henry, bespeaks Spanish aid for Dudley’s suit, 53-4, 58-9.

  Sidney, Sir Philip; he remonstrates with the Queen about the Alençon
        match, 218-19;
    with Alençon in the Netherlands, 302.

  Simier, Jehan de, aids Alençon to escape, 185, 190;
    his mission to London, 199-200;
    urges Alençon to come to England, 202;
    his conditions for the match, 204-6;
    Elizabeth’s intimacy with him, 207-8, 209;
    divulges Leicester’s secret marriage, 209-10;
    his letters to Elizabeth, 214;
    his departure with the draft conditions, 220-1;
    his letters to Elizabeth, 222, 227-8;
    in disgrace with Alençon, 231;
    his extraordinary letter to Elizabeth, 232, 244;
    Elizabeth intercedes for him, 246;
    sent to England by Henry III., 277-8;
    another attempt to murder him, 278;
    Elizabeth’s rage thereat, 278;
    his action against Alençon’s suit, 282;
    quarrel with Alençon, 283;
    his betrayal of Elizabeth, 289-90;
    interview between him and Alençon, 291-2;
    he departs from England, 290.

  Smith, Sir Thomas, English envoy to France, 77-8;
    his interviews with Catharine de Medici and Charles IX., 84-5;
    sent to France about the Anjou match, 142, 144;
    audience with the Queen-mother, 145-7;
    Alençon is suggested to him for the Queen, 148-151;
    interview with the Queen-mother, 152-3;
    present at La Mole’s interview with Elizabeth, 162.

  Soissons, Count de, 238.

  Somers sent to France, 252-3.

  Somerset, Duke of, Protector, 7, 9-10, 11.

  Stafford, Edward, 214;
    sent to France with Simier, 222-3;
    sent to Alençon, 230;
    Alençon lodges in his house, 264.

  Stafford, Lady, Mistress of the Robes, 264, 297, 323.

  Stamford, 106.

  Stuart, James, Earl of Murray, 66, 70.

  Stubbs, his book against the Alençon match, 217-18.

  Stukeley, Thomas, his descent upon Ireland, 122.

  Succession to the Crown, question of, urged upon the Queen by
        Parliament, 107-9.

  Sussex, Earl of, Thomas Ratcliff, in favour of an Austrian match, 24,
        32, 93-5, 98-9, 100, 101, 103-4, 107-8, 110;
    sent to the Emperor, 110-11;
    failure of his mission, 112-13;
    his attitude towards the Alençon match, 193;
    the Queen’s treatment of him in the presence of Alençon’s
        envoys, 194-5;
    bribed by Spain, 204-5;
    in favour of the Alençon match, 206, 216, 234, 241-2, 244-5, 251,
        265, 268, 273, 285, 289, 296-7, 298, 305, 307, 310, 313.

  Sussex, Lady, 96.

  Sweden, King of (Gustavus), 19, 31, 51-2.

  Sweden, King of (Eric), _see_ Eric XIV.

  Swedish ambassador offends Queen Mary, 20, 31-2.

  Swetkowitz, Adam, sent by the Emperor on behalf of Archduke Charles,
        83-94, 97-9.


  T.

  Tavannes, Marshal, 138.

  Téligny, 124, 131.

  Throgmorton, English ambassador in France, 40, 89-90, 94.

  Trent, Council of, Dudley’s intrigues with regard to, 53-60.

  Turenne, 255.

  Tyrwhitt, Lady, 10.

  Tyrwhitt, Sir Robert, 10-11.


  V.

  Valdez, Don Pedro de, Spanish admiral, 184.

  Valette, La, 299.

  Viteau, Baron de, 278.

  Vray, De, Alençon’s secretary, 206-7, 228, 238, 245, 249, 257.

  Vulcob, his interview with the Queen, 105-6.


  W.

  Walsingham, Sir Francis, sent to France about the Anjou match, 119;
    his description of Anjou, 120-1;
    considers the Queen’s marriage necessary, 123;
    his negotiations, 124-8;
    interviews with Catharine, 127, 132, 134-5, 137;
    his opinion of Anjou’s religion, 138;
    desires to bring about the match, 139, 141-2, 143, 144;
    his negotiations for the Alençon match, 152-63;
    sends news of St. Bartholomew, 164;
    remonstrates with the Queen about the Alençon match, 218-19, 222,
        241-2, 244, 250, 253-4;
    his mission to France, 255;
    his interview with Alençon at La Fère, 256-7;
    he warns Elizabeth of her fickleness, 257-8, 259-61;
    returns to London, 261-2, 263, 265, 267, 272;
    Elizabeth’s anger with him, 305, 306, 311.

  Wanstead, Elizabeth’s visits to Leicester there, 205, 209.

  Warwick, Earl of, 70.

  Westmoreland, Earl of, 25.

  Wightman concerned in Seymour’s plot, 9.

  Wilkes, Clerk of the Privy Council, 183.

  Willoughby, Lord, with Alençon in Holland, 302.

  Winchester, Marquis of, 21.

  Woodstock, 16-17, 18;
    Elizabeth receives La Mothe at, after St. Bartholomew, 165.

  Wyatt, Sir Thomas, 17.


  Y.

  York, Archbishop of (Sandys), 226.


[Illustration]



FOOTNOTES


[1] “Projets de Mariage de la Reine Elizabeth.” Ferrière, Paris.

[2] Calendar of Spanish State Papers (Elizabeth), Rolls Series. Edited
by Martin A. S. Hume.

[3] Confessions of Mrs. Ashley and Thomas Parry. Hatfield Papers.
Historical MSS. Commission.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Tyrwhitt to the Protector, January 23, 1549. Hatfield Papers.
Historical MSS. Commission.

[6] Calendar of State Papers (Foreign).

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Renard Correspondence, Transcripts, MSS. Record Office.

[10] Renard to Charles V., October 12, 1553. Renard transcripts. Record
Office.

[11] Renard to Charles V., October 31, 1553. Record Office.

[12] “Papiers d’Etat de Granvelle,” vol. iv. p. 256.

[13] Correspondence de Noailles.

[14] Feria to Philip II., May 1, 1558. MSS. Simancas.

[15] Calendar of Spanish State Papers (Elizabeth), vol. i.

[16] Spanish Calendar (Elizabeth), vol. i.

[17] Calendar of Venetian State Papers.

[18] Calendar of Venetian State Papers.

[19] Spanish Calendar (Elizabeth), vol. i.

[20] Venetian Calendar.

[21] Spanish Calendar (Elizabeth), vol. i.

[22] Spanish Calendar (Elizabeth), vol. i.

[23] Quadra’s letters, Spanish Calendar, and Michieli’s letters,
Venetian Calendar.

[24] Spanish Calendar (Elizabeth), vol. i.

[25] Venetian Calendar.

[26] Spanish Calendar (Elizabeth).

[27] Michieli to the Doge, August 16, 1560. Venetian Calendar.

[28] Spanish Calendar (Elizabeth), vol. i.

[29] Coloredos account. Tiepolo to the Senate, December 10, 1559.
Venetian Calendar.

[30] Castelnau de la Mauvissière, “Mémoires,” and “Melvil Memoirs.”

[31] Spanish Calendar (Elizabeth), vol. i.

[32] “Melvil Memoirs.”

[33] Spanish Calendar (Elizabeth), vol. i.

[34] Foreign Calendar, 1563.

[35] Spanish Calendar (Elizabeth), vol. i.

[36] “Dépèches de De Foix,” Bibliothèque Nationale. Ferrière.

[37] Spanish Calendar (Elizabeth), vol. i.

[38] Spanish Calendar (Elizabeth), vol. i.

[39] De Foix despatches, Bib. Nat., Paris.

[40] Foreign Calendar.

[41] Spanish Calendar (Elizabeth), vol. i.

[42] La Ferrière, “Projets de Mariage.”

[43] Spanish Calendar (Elizabeth).

[44] Spanish Calendar (Elizabeth), vol. i. p. 436.

[45] Spanish Calendar (Elizabeth), vol. i.

[46] Michaeli Surnian in Venetian Calendar.

[47] Spanish Calendar (Elizabeth), vol. i.

[48] Spanish Calendar (Elizabeth), vol. i.

[49] Bib. Nat. Paris. De la Ferrière.

[50] Spanish Calendar (Elizabeth).

[51] La Mothe Fénélon Correspondence.

[52] Correspondence de La Mothe Fénélon. La Ferrière.

[53] Spanish Calendar (Elizabeth), vol. ii. Spes to Philip II.

[54] Walsingham Correspondence.

[55] Baschet La Diplomatie venitienne. La Ferrière.

[56] Mémoires de Nevers.

[57] Walsingham to Cecil, February 8, 1571. “Compleat ambassador.”

[58] Walsingham Correspondence.

[59] Walsingham Correspondence.

[60] Correspondence de La Mothe Fénélon.

[61] Spes to Philip, 10th and 15th of April, 1571. Spanish Calendar
(Elizabeth), vol. ii.

[62] Foreign Calendar, Walsingham to Cecil, May 25, 1571.

[63] Foreign Calendar.

[64] Venetian Calendar.

[65] Foreign Calendar.

[66] Mémoires de Tavannes. La Ferrière.

[67] Foreign Calendar.

[68] Foreign Calendar.

[69] Foreign Calendar.

[70] Foreign Calendar.

[71] La Mothe Fénélon Correspondence. La Ferrière.

[72] Foreign Calendar, May 25, 1572.

[73] “Compleat ambassador.”

[74] Tomaseo, “Ambassadeurs venetiens.” Ferrière.

[75] Foreign Calendar.

[76] Foreign Calendar.

[77] Spanish Calendar (Elizabeth).

[78] Ibid.

[79] Ibid.

[80] Hatfield Papers, Hist. MSS. Com., part 2.

[81] Spanish Calendar (Elizabeth), and La Mothe Correspondence.

[82] Hatfield Papers, Hist. MSS. Com., parts 2 and 3.

[83] Hatfield Papers, Hist. MSS. Com., part 2.

[84] Hatfield Papers, Hist. MSS. Com., part 2.

[85] Foreign Calendar.

[86] Foreign Calendar.

[87] Record Office State Papers (France).

[88] La Ferrière, and “Mémoires de la Reine Marguerite” (The Hague,
1715), p. 78.

[89] Le Labourer’s continuation of Castelnau’s “Mémoires.”

[90] Foreign Calendar.

[91] La Ferrière, “Projets de Mariage.”

[92] La Mothe Fénélon Correspondence.

[93] Foreign Calendar.

[94] Hatfield Papers, part 2.

[95] Spanish Calendar (Elizabeth).

[96] Gachard, Correspondence de Philippe II.

[97] La Ferrière, “Projets de Mariage.”

[98] “Mémoires de la Reine Marguerite.”

[99] Hatfield Papers, Hist. MSS. Com., part 2, p. 179.

[100] Spanish Calendar (Elizabeth).

[101] Hatfield Papers, Hist. MSS. Com., part 2.

[102] Spanish Calendar (Elizabeth), August 14, 1578.

[103] Castelnau Correspondence. La Ferrière, “Projets de Mariage.”

[104] Hatfield Papers, Hist. MSS. Com. part 2.

[105] Domestic Calendar, April 25, 1579.

[106] Spanish Calendar (Elizabeth).

[107] Castelnau Correspondence. La Ferrière, “Projets de Mariage.”

[108] Spanish Calendar (Elizabeth).

[109] Hatfield Papers, part 2, p. 468.

[110] Spanish Calendar (Elizabeth).

[111] Hatfield Papers, Hist. MSS. Com., part 2.

[112] Hatfield Papers, Hist. MSS. Com., part 2.

[113] Hatfield Papers, Hist. MSS. Com., part 2, and Spanish Calendar
(Elizabeth).

[114] Spanish Calendar (Elizabeth).

[115] Hatfield Papers, Hist. MSS. Com., part 2, p. 298.

[116] Spanish Calendar (Elizabeth), vol. iii.

[117] Spanish Calendar (Elizabeth), vol. iii.

[118] Hatfield Papers, Hist. MSS. Com., part 2.

[119] Spanish Calendar (Elizabeth), vol. iii.

[120] Alençon and Simier to the Queen, July 21st and August 4th, 1580.
Hatfield Papers, part 2.

[121] Hatfield Papers, Hist. MSS. Com., part 2.

[122] Spanish Calendar (Elizabeth).

[123] Spanish Calendar (Elizabeth).

[124] Hatfield Papers, part 2.

[125] Mendoza to Philip, April 6, 1581. Spanish Calendar, vol. iii.

[126] Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris. Fonds francais, 3308. La Ferrière.

[127] Spanish Calendar (Elizabeth).

[128] Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris. Fonds francais, 3308. La Ferrière.

[129] Mendoza to Philip, May 4, 1581. Spanish Calendar (Elizabeth).

[130] Probably the important letter misdated 1580 in the Hatfield
Papers (MSS. Com., part 2, p. 358) wherein the Queen urges Alençon to
obtain a distinct pledge of aid from his brother against the Spanish
power in the Netherlands. The main object of her policy was, of course,
to bring about a complete rupture between France and Spain, which would
have ruined the Guises, raised the Huguenots, weakened Spain, and have
rendered England secure on all sides.

[131] Hatfield Papers, part 2.

[132] Spanish Calendar. Mendoza to the King, 2nd and 5th of June, 1581.

[133] Hatfield Papers, part 2, pp. 360, 362, 483.

[134] The original draft of the treaty is in the British Museum, MSS.
Add. 33963.

[135] Hatfield Papers, part 2, p. 400.

[136] Walsingham to the Queen. Hatfield Papers, part 2, p. 415.

[137] Memorandum to the Queen, August 13, 1581. Hatfield Papers, part 2.

[138] Hatfield Papers, part 2, p. 458.

[139] Spanish Calendar (Elizabeth).

[140] Walsingham to the Queen, September 12th. Hatfield Papers, part 2.

[141] Spanish Calendar (Elizabeth), vol. iii. p. 182.

[142] Hatfield Papers, part 2.

[143] Spanish Calendar (Elizabeth).

[144] Spanish Calendar (Elizabeth), vol. iii., November 11, 1581.

[145] Spanish Calendar (Elizabeth), vol. iii. p. 226.

[146] Spanish Calendar (Elizabeth), vol. iii. p. 229.

[147] “Mémoires du Duc de Nevers.”

[148] Bibliothèque Nationale, Ambassadeurs venetiens. La Ferrière.

[149] Hatfield Papers, part 2, p. 468.

[150] Spanish Calendar (Elizabeth), vol. iii. p. 243.

[151] Spanish Calendar (Elizabeth), vol. iii. p. 244.

[152] Spanish Calendar (Elizabeth), vol. iii. p. 351.

[153] “Mémoires du Duc de Nevers.”

[154] Spanish Calendar (Elizabeth), vol. iii.

[155] Spanish Calendar (Elizabeth), vol. iii.

[156] Spanish Calendar (Elizabeth), vol. iii.

[157] Spanish Calendar (Elizabeth), vol. iii.

[158] Spanish Calendar (Elizabeth), vol. iii.

[159] Spanish Calendar (Elizabeth), vol. iii.

[160] Hatfield Papers, part 3.

[161] Ibid.

[162] Ibid.

[163] Hatfield Papers, part 3.

[164] Hatfield Papers, part 3.

[165] Spanish Calendar, vol. iii., Mendoza to the King, November 15,
1582.

[166] Hatfield Papers, part 3.

[167] Ibid.

[168] British Museum, MSS. Cotton Galba vi.



Transcriber’s Notes


Punctuation, hyphenation, and spelling were made consistent when a
predominant preference was found in this book; otherwise they were not
changed.

Simple typographical errors were corrected; occasional unbalanced
quotation marks retained.

Ambiguous hyphens at the ends of lines were retained.

Uncaptioned illustrations are decorative.

Index not checked for proper alphabetization or correct page references.

Occasional references to “Castlenau” have been changed to the
predominantly-used “Castelnau”.

Page 52: “and the rest of her advisers” was missing “her”; changed here.

Page 57: “plenipotentaries” was printed that way.

Page 77: “considering their ages.” ends with a closing quotation mark
for which there is no matching opening mark.

Page 144: “negotiate the bases of a treaty” was printed that way.

Page 146: There is no closing quotation mark for the phrase beginning
“that is the principal point”.

Page 148: “of an alliance without a marriage” was printed as “or an
alliance without a marriage”; changed here.

Page 185: There is an extra or a missing quotation mark in “making him
many fine promises”; and then he said something about a marriage which
I did not very well understand.”

Page 216: “projected match was undertaken” was printed that way.

Page 216: “she might lay upon them.” ends with a closing quotation mark
for which there is no matching opening mark.

Page 238: There is no closing quotation mark for the sentence beginning
“The Queen went to the length”.





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