Project Gutenberg's History of the English People, by John Richard Green This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org Title: History of the English People Volume 4 (of 8) Author: John Richard Green Release Date: November 4, 2007 [EBook #23317] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PEOPLE *** Produced by Paul Murray, Lisa Reigel, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net
Transcriber's Note: Click on the page number to see an image of the page.
THE REFORMATION. 1540-1603
|The Protestant Revolution. 1540-1553||7|
|The Catholic Reaction. 1553-1558||72|
|The England of Elizabeth. 1558-1561||146|
|England and Mary Stuart. 1561-1567||195|
|England and the Papacy. 1567-1582.||247|
|England And Spain. 1582-1593||323|
For the close of Henry the Eighth's reign as for the reigns of Edward and Mary we possess copious materials. Strype covers this period in his "Memorials" and in his lives of Cranmer, Cheke, and Smith; Hayward's "Life of Edward the Sixth" may be supplemented by the young king's own Journal; "Machyn's Diary" gives us the aspect of affairs as they presented themselves to a common Englishman; while Holinshed is near enough to serve as a contemporary authority. The troubled period of the Protectorate is illustrated by Mr. Tytler in the correspondence which he has published in his "England under Edward the Sixth and Mary," while much light is thrown on its close by Mr. Nicholls in the "Chronicle of Queen Jane," published by the Camden Society. In spite of countless errors, of Puritan prejudices, and some deliberate suppressions of the truth, its mass of facts and wonderful charm of style will always give importance to the "Acts and Monuments" or "Book of Martyrs" of John Foxe, as a record of the Marian persecution. Among outer observers, the Venetian Soranzo throws some light on the Protectorate; and the despatches of Giovanni Michiel, published by Mr. Friedmann, give us a new insight into the events of Mary's reign.
For the succeeding reign we have a valuable contemporary account in Camden's "Life of Elizabeth." The "Annals" 4-004]of Sir John Hayward refer to the first four years of the Queen's rule. Its political and diplomatic side is only now being fully unveiled in the Calendar of State Papers for this period, which are being issued by the Master of the Rolls, and fresh light has yet to be looked for from the Cecil Papers and the documents at Simancas, some of which are embodied in the history of this reign by Mr. Froude. Among the published materials for this time we have the Burleigh Papers, the Sidney Papers, the Sadler State Papers, much correspondence in the Hardwicke State Papers, the letters published by Mr. Wright in his "Elizabeth and her Times," the collections of Murdin, the Egerton Papers, the "Letters of Elizabeth and James the Sixth" published by Mr. Bruce. Harrington's "Nugæ Antiquæ" contain some details of value. Among foreign materials as yet published the "Papiers d'Etat" of Cardinal Granvelle and the series of French despatches published by M. Teulet are among the more important. Mr. Motley in his "Rise of the Dutch Republic" and "History of the United Netherlands" has used the State Papers of the countries concerned in this struggle to pour a flood of new light on the diplomacy and outer policy of Burleigh and his mistress. His wide and independent research among the same class of documents gives almost an original value to Ranke's treatment of this period in his English History. The earlier religious changes in Scotland have been painted with wonderful energy, and on the whole with truthfulness, by Knox himself in his "History of the Reformation." Among the contemporary materials for the history of Mary Stuart we have the well-known works of Buchanan and Leslie, Labanoff's "Lettres et Mémoires de Marie Stuart," the correspondence appended to Mignet's biography, Stevenson's "Illustrations of the Life of Queen Mary," Melville's Memoirs, and the collections of Keith and Anderson.
For the religious history of Elizabeth's reign Strype, as usual, gives us copious details in his "Annals," his lives of Parker, Grindal, and Whitgift. Some light is thrown on the Queen's earlier steps by the Zürich Letters published by the Parker Society. The strife with the later Puritans 4-005]can only be fairly judged after reading the Martin Marprelate Tracts, which have been reprinted by Mr. Maskell, who has given a short abstract of the more important in his "History of the Martin Marprelate Controversy." Her policy towards the Catholics is set out in Burleigh's tract "The Execution of Justice in England, not for Religion, but for Treason," which was answered by Allen in his "Defense of the English Catholics." On the actual working of the penal laws much new information has been given us in the series of contemporary narratives published by Father Morris under the title of "The Troubles of our Catholic Forefathers"; the general history of the Catholics may be found in the work of Dodd; and the sufferings of the Jesuits in More's "Historia Provinciæ Anglicanæ Societatis Jesu." To these may be added Mr. Simpson's biography of Campion. For our constitutional history during Elizabeth's reign we have D'Ewes's Journals and Townshend's "Journal of Parliamentary Proceedings from 1580 to 1601," the first detailed account we possess of the proceedings of the House of Commons. Macpherson in his Annals of Commerce gives details of the wonderful expansion of English trade during this period, and Hakluyt's collection of Voyages tells of its wonderful activity. Amidst a crowd of biographers, whose number marks the new importance of individual life and action at the time, we may note as embodying information elsewhere inaccessible the lives of Hatton and Davison by Sir Harris Nicolas, the three accounts of Raleigh by Oldys, Tytler, and Mr. Edwards, the Lives of the two Devereux, Earls of Essex, Mr. Spedding's "Life of Bacon," and Barrow's "Life of Sir Francis Drake."
Cromwell and the Monarchy.
At the death of Cromwell the success of his policy was complete. The Monarchy had reached the height of its power. The old liberties of England lay prostrate at the feet of the king. The Lords were cowed and spiritless; the House of Commons was filled with the creatures of the Court and degraded into an engine of tyranny. Royal proclamations were taking the place of parliamentary legislation; royal benevolences were encroaching more and more on the right of parliamentary taxation. Justice was prostituted in the ordinary courts to the royal will, while the boundless and arbitrary powers of the royal Council were gradually superseding the slower processes of the Common Law. The religious changes had thrown an almost sacred character over the "majesty" of the king. Henry was the Head of the Church. From the primate to the meanest deacon every 4-008]minister of it derived from him his sole right to exercise spiritual powers. The voice of its preachers was the echo of his will. He alone could define orthodoxy or declare heresy. The forms of its worship and belief were changed and rechanged at the royal caprice. Half of its wealth went to swell the royal treasury, and the other half lay at the king's mercy. It was this unprecedented concentration of all power in the hands of a single man that overawed the imagination of Henry's subjects. He was regarded as something high above the laws which govern common men. The voices of statesmen and priests extolled his wisdom and authority as more than human. The Parliament itself rose and bowed to the vacant throne when his name was mentioned. An absolute devotion to his person replaced the old loyalty to the law. When the Primate of the English Church described the chief merit of Cromwell, it was by asserting that he loved the king "no less than he loved God."
Cromwell and the Parliament.
It was indeed Cromwell who more than any man had reared this fabric of king-worship. But he had hardly reared it when it began to give way. The very success of his measures indeed brought about the ruin of his policy. One of the most striking features of Cromwell's system had been his developement of parliamentary action. The great assembly which the Monarchy had dreaded and silenced from the days of Edward 4-009]the Fourth to the days of Wolsey had been called to the front again at the Cardinal's fall. Proud of his popularity, and conscious of his people's sympathy with him in his protest against a foreign jurisdiction, Henry set aside the policy of the Crown to deal a heavier blow at the Papacy. Both the parties represented in the ministry that followed Wolsey welcomed the change, for the nobles represented by Norfolk and the men of the New Learning represented by More regarded Parliament with the same favour. More indeed in significant though almost exaggerated phrases set its omnipotence face to face with the growing despotism of the Crown. The policy of Cromwell fell in with this revival of the two Houses. The daring of his temper led him not to dread and suppress national institutions, but to seize them and master them, and to turn them into means of enhancing the royal power. As he saw in the Church a means of raising the king into the spiritual ruler of the faith and consciences of his people, so he saw in the Parliament a means of shrouding the boldest aggressions of the monarchy under the veil of popular assent, and of giving to the most ruthless acts of despotism the stamp and semblance of law. He saw nothing to fear in a House of Lords whose nobles cowered helpless before the might of the Crown, and whose spiritual members his policy was degrading into mere tools of the royal will. Nor could he find anything to 4-010]dread in a House of Commons which was crowded with members directly or indirectly nominated by the royal Council. With a Parliament such as this Cromwell might well trust to make the nation itself through its very representatives an accomplice in the work of absolutism.
Growth of Parliamentary power.
His trust seemed more than justified by the conduct of the Houses. It was by parliamentary statutes that the Church was prostrated at the feet of the Monarchy. It was by bills of attainder that great nobles were brought to the block. It was under constitutional forms that freedom was gagged with new treasons and oaths and questionings. One of the first bills of Cromwell's Parliaments freed Henry from the need of paying his debts, one of the last gave his proclamations the force of laws. In the action of the two Houses the Crown seemed to have discovered a means of carrying its power into regions from which a bare despotism has often had to shrink. Henry might have dared single-handed to break with Rome or to send Sir Thomas More to the block. But without Parliament to back him he could hardly have ventured on such an enormous confiscation of property as was involved in the suppression of the monasteries or on such changes in the national religion as were brought about by the Ten Articles and the Six. It was this discovery of the use to which the Houses could be turned that accounts for the immense developement of their 4-011]powers, the immense widening of their range of action, which they owe to Cromwell. Now that the great engine was at his own command, he used it as it had never been used before. Instead of rare and short assemblies of Parliament, England saw it gathered year after year. All the jealousy with which the Crown had watched its older encroachments on the prerogative was set aside. Matters which had even in the days of their greatest influence been scrupulously withheld from the cognizance of the Houses were now absolutely forced on their attention. It was by Parliament that England was torn from the great body of Western Christendom. It was by parliamentary enactment that the English Church was reft of its older liberties and made absolutely subservient to the Crown. It was a parliamentary statute that defined the very faith and religion of the land. The vastest confiscation of landed property which England had ever witnessed was wrought by Parliament. It regulated the succession to the throne. It decided on the validity of the king's marriages and the legitimacy of the king's children. Former sovereigns had struggled against the claim of the Houses to meddle with the royal ministers or with members of the royal household. Now Parliament was called on by the king himself to attaint his ministers and his Queens.
The New Nobles.
The fearlessness and completeness of such a policy as this brings home to us more than any other of his plans the genius of Cromwell. But its success depended wholly on the absolute servility of Parliament to the will of the Crown, and Cromwell's own action made the continuance of such a servility impossible. The part which the Houses were to play in after years shows the importance of clinging to the forms of constitutional freedom, even when their life is all but lost. In the inevitable reaction against tyranny they furnish centres for the reviving energies of the people, while the returning tide of liberty is enabled through their preservation to flow quietly and naturally along its traditional channels. And even before Cromwell passed to his doom the tide of liberty was returning. On one occasion during his rule a "great debate" on the suppression of the lesser monasteries showed that elements of resistance still survived; and these elements developed rapidly as the power of the Crown declined under the minority of Edward and the unpopularity of Mary. To this revival of a spirit of independence the spoliation of the Church largely contributed. Partly from necessity, partly from a desire to build up a faction interested in the maintenance of their ecclesiastical policy, Cromwell and the king squandered the vast mass of wealth which flowed into the Treasury from the dissolution of the monasteries with 4-013]reckless prodigality. Three hundred and seventy-six smaller houses had been suppressed in 1536; six hundred and forty-five greater houses were surrendered or seized in 1539. Some of the spoil was devoted to the erection of six new bishopricks; a larger part went to the fortification of the coast. But the bulk of these possessions was granted lavishly away to the nobles and courtiers about the king, and to a host of adventurers who "had become gospellers for the abbey lands." Something like a fifth of the actual land in the kingdom was in this way transferred from the holding of the Church to that of nobles and gentry. Not only were the older houses enriched, but a new aristocracy was erected from among the dependants of the Court. The Russells and the Cavendishes are familiar instances of families which rose from obscurity through the enormous grants of Church-land made to Henry's courtiers. The old baronage was thus hardly crushed before a new aristocracy took its place. "Those families within or without the bounds of the peerage," observes Mr. Hallam, "who are now deemed the most considerable, will be found, with no great number of exceptions, to have first become conspicuous under the Tudor line of kings and, if we could trace the title of their estates, to have acquired no small portion of them mediately or immediately from monastic or other ecclesiastical foundations." The leading part which these 4-014]freshly-created peers took in the events which followed Henry's death gave strength and vigour to the whole order. But the smaller gentry shared in the general enrichment of the landed proprietors, and the new energy of the Lords was soon followed by a display of political independence among the Commons themselves.
Results of the Religious Changes.
While the prodigality of Cromwell's system thus brought into being a new check upon the Crown by enriching the nobles and the lesser gentry, the religious changes it brought about gave fire and vigour to the elements of opposition which were slowly gathering. What did most to ruin the king-worship that Cromwell set up was Cromwell's ecclesiastical policy. In reducing the Church to mere slavery beneath the royal power he believed himself to be trampling down the last constitutional force which could hold the Monarchy in check. What he really did was to give life and energy to new forces which were bound from their very nature to battle with the Monarchy for even more than the old English freedom. When Cromwell seized on the Church he held himself to be seizing for the Crown the mastery which the Church had wielded till now over the consciences and reverence of men. But the very humiliation of the great religious body broke the spell beneath which Englishmen had bowed. In form nothing had been changed. The outer constitution of the Church remained 4-015]utterly unaltered. The English bishop, freed from the papal control, freed from the check of monastic independence, seemed greater and more imposing than ever. The priest still clung to rectory and church. If images were taken out of churches, if here and there a rood-loft was pulled down or a saint's shrine demolished, no change was made in form of ritual or mode of worship. The mass was untouched. Every hymn, every prayer, was still in Latin; confession, penance, fastings and feastings, extreme unction, went on as before. There was little to show that any change had taken place; and yet every ploughman felt that all was changed. The bishop, gorgeous as he might be in mitre and cope, was a mere tool of the king. The priest was trembling before heretics he used to burn. Farmer or shopkeeper might enter their church any Sunday morning to find mass or service utterly transformed. The spell of tradition, of unbroken continuance, was over; and with it the power which the Church had wielded over the souls of men was in great part done away.
It was not that the new Protestantism was as yet formidable, for, violent and daring as they were, the adherents of Luther were few in number, and drawn mostly from the poorer classes among whom Wyclifite heresy had lingered or from the class of scholars whose theological studies drew their sympathy to the movement 4-016]over sea. It was that the lump was now ready to be leavened by this petty leaven, that men's hold on the firm ground of custom was broken and their minds set drifting and questioning, that little as was the actual religious change, the thought of religious change had become familiar to the people as a whole. And with religious change was certain to come religious revolt. The human conscience was hardly likely to move everywhere in strict time to the slow advance of Henry's reforms. Men who had been roused from implicit obedience to the Papacy as a revelation of the Divine will by hearing the Pope denounced in royal proclamations as a usurper and an impostor were hardly inclined to take up submissively the new official doctrine which substituted implicit belief in the King for implicit belief in the "Bishop of Rome." But bound as Church and King now were together, it was impossible to deny a tenet of the one without entering on a course of opposition to the other. Cromwell had raised against the Monarchy the most fatal of all enemies, the force of the individual conscience, the enthusiasm of religious belief, the fire of religious fanaticism. Slowly as the area of the new Protestantism extended, every man that it gained was a possible opponent of the Crown. And should the time come, as the time was soon to come, when the Crown moved to the side of Protestantism, then in turn every soul that 4-017]the older faith retained was pledged to a lifelong combat with the Monarchy.
The Imperial Alliance.
How irresistible was the national drift was seen on Cromwell's fall. Its first result indeed promised to be a reversal of all that Cromwell had done. Norfolk returned to power, and his influence over Henry seemed secured by the king's repudiation of Anne of Cleves and his marriage in the summer of 1540 to a niece of the Duke, Catharine Howard. But Norfolk's temper had now become wholly hostile to the movement about him. "I never read the Scripture nor never will!" the Duke replied hotly to a Protestant arguer. "It was merry in England afore the new learning came up; yea, I would all things were as hath been in times past." In his preference of an Imperial alliance to an alliance with Francis and the Lutherans Henry went warmly with his minister. Parted as he had been from Charles by the question of the divorce, the King's sympathies had remained true to the Emperor; and at this moment he was embittered against France by the difficulties it threw in the way of his projects for gaining a hold upon Scotland. Above all the king still clung to the hope of a purification of the Church by a Council, as well as of a reconciliation of England with the general body of this purified Christendom, and it was only by the Emperor that such a Council could be convened or such a reconciliation brought 4-018]about. An alliance with him was far from indicating any retreat from Henry's position of independence or any submission to the Papacy. To the men of his own day Charles seemed no Catholic bigot. On the contrary the stricter representatives of Catholicism such as Paul the Fourth denounced him as a patron of heretics, and attributed the upgrowth of Lutheranism to his steady protection and encouragement. Nor was the charge without seeming justification. The old jealousy between Pope and Emperor, the more recent hostility between them as rival Italian powers, had from the beginning proved Luther's security. At the first appearance of the reformer Maximilian had recommended the Elector of Saxony to suffer no harm to be done to him; "there might come a time," said the old Emperor, "when he would be needed." Charles had looked on the matter mainly in the same political way. In his earliest years he bought Leo's aid in his recovery of Milan from the French king by issuing the ban of the Empire against Luther in the Diet of Worms; but every Italian held that in suffering the reformer to withdraw unharmed Charles had shown not so much regard to his own safe-conduct as a purpose still "to keep the Pope in check with that rein." And as Charles dealt with Luther so he dealt with Lutheranism. The new faith profited by the Emperor's struggle with Clement the Seventh 4-019]for the lordship over Italy. It was in the midst of this struggle that his brother and representative, Ferdinand, signed in the Diet of Spires an Imperial decree by which the German States were left free to arrange their religious affairs "as each should best answer to God and the Emperor." The decree gave a legal existence to the Protestant body in the Empire which it never afterwards lost.
Charles and the Council.
Such a step might well encourage the belief that Charles was himself inclining to Lutheranism; and the belief gathered strength as he sent Lutheran armies over the Alps to sack Rome and to hold the Pope a prisoner. The belief was a false one, for Charles remained utterly untouched by the religious movement about him; but even when his strife with the Papacy was to a great extent lulled by Clement's submission, he still turned a deaf ear to the Papal appeals for dealing with Lutheranism by fire and sword. His political interests and the conception which he held of his duty as Emperor alike swayed him to milder counsels. He purposed indeed to restore religious unity. His political aim was to bring Germany to his feet as he had brought Italy; and he saw that the religious schism was the great obstacle in the way of his realizing this design. As the temporal head of the Catholic world he was still more strongly bent to heal the breaches of Catholicism. But he had no wish to insist on an 4-020]unconditional submission to the Papacy. He believed that there were evils to be cured on the one side as on the other; and Charles saw the high position which awaited him if as Emperor he could bring about a reformation of the Church and a reunion of Christendom. Violent as Luther's words had been, the Lutheran princes and the bulk of Lutheran theologians had not yet come to look on Catholicism as an irreconcileable foe. Even on the papal side there was a learned and active party, a party headed by Contarini and Pole, whose theological sympathies went in many points with the Lutherans, and who looked to the winning back of the Lutherans as the needful prelude to any reform in the doctrine and practice of the Church; while Melancthon was as hopeful as Contarini that such a reform might be wrought and the Church again become universal. In his proposal of a Council to carry on the double work of purification and reunion therefore Charles stood out as the representative of the larger part both of the Catholic and the Protestant world. Against such a proposal however Rome struggled hard. All her tradition was against Councils, where the assembled bishops had in earlier days asserted their superiority to the Pope, and where the Emperor who convened the assembly and carried out its decrees rose into dangerous rivalry with the Papacy. Crushed as he was, Clement the Seventh throughout his lifetime held the proposal of a Council stubbornly at 4-021]bay. But under his successor, Paul the Third, the influence of Contarini and the moderate Catholics secured a more favourable reception of plans of reconciliation. In April, 1541, conferences for this purpose were in fact opened at Augsburg in which Contarini, as Papal legate, accepted a definition of the moot question of justifications by faith which satisfied Bucer and Melancthon. On the other side, the Landgrave of Hesse and the Elector of Brandenburg publicly declared that they believed it possible to come to terms on the yet more vexed questions of the Mass and the Papal supremacy.
Charles and Henry.
Never had the reunion of the world seemed so near; and the hopes that were stirring found an echo in England as well as in Germany. We can hardly doubt indeed that it was the revival of these hopes which had brought about the fall of Cromwell and the recall of Norfolk to power. Norfolk, like his master, looked to a purification of the Church by a Council as the prelude to a reconciliation of England with the general body of Catholicism; and both saw that it was by the influence of the Emperor alone that such a Council could be brought about. Charles on the other hand was ready to welcome Henry's advances. The quarrel over Catharine had ended with her death; and the wrong done her had been in part atoned for by the fall of Anne Boleyn. The aid of Henry too was needed to hold in check the 4-022]opposition of France. The chief means which France still possessed of holding the Emperor at bay lay in the disunion of the Empire, and it was resolute to preserve this weapon against him at whatever cost to Christendom. While Francis remonstrated at Rome against the concessions made to the Lutherans by the Legates, he urged the Lutheran princes to make no terms with the Papacy. To the Protestants he held out hopes of his own conversion, while he promised Pope Paul that he would defend him with his life against Emperor and heretics. His intrigues were aided by the suspicions of both the religious parties. Luther refused to believe in the sincerity of the concessions made by the Legates; Paul the Third held aloof from them in sullen silence. Meanwhile Francis was preparing to raise more material obstacles to the Emperor's designs. Charles had bought his last reconciliation with the king by a promise of restoring the Milanese, but he had no serious purpose of ever fulfilling his pledge, and his retention of the Duchy gave the French king a fair pretext for threatening a renewal of the war.
James the Fifth.
England, as Francis hoped, he could hold in check through his alliance with the Scots. After the final expulsion of Albany in 1524 Scottish history became little more than a strife between Margaret Tudor and her husband, the Earl of Angus, for power; but the growth of James the 4-023]Fifth to manhood at last secured rest for the land. James had all the varied ability of his race, and he carried out with vigour its traditional policy. The Highland chieftains, the great lords of the Lowlands, were brought more under the royal sway; the Church was strengthened to serve as a check on the feudal baronage; the alliance with France was strictly preserved, as the one security against English aggression. Nephew as he was indeed of the English king, James from the outset of his reign took up an attitude hostile to England. He was jealous of the influence which the two Henries had established in his realm by the marriage of Margaret and by the building up of an English party under the Douglases; the great Churchmen who formed his most trusted advisers dreaded the influence of the religious changes across the border; while the people clung to their old hatred of England and their old dependence on France. It was only by two inroads of the border lords that Henry checked the hostile intrigues of James in 1532; his efforts to influence his nephew by an interview and alliance were met by the king's marriage with two French wives in succession, Magdalen of Valois, a daughter of Francis, and Mary, a daughter of the Duke of Guise. In 1539 when the projected coalition between France and the Empire threatened England, it had been needful to send Norfolk with an army to the Scotch frontier, and now that France 4-024]was again hostile Norfolk had to move anew to the border in the autumn of 1541.
Defeat at the Solway.
While the Duke was fruitlessly endeavouring to bring James to fresh friendship a sudden blow at home weakened his power. At the close of the year Catharine Howard was arrested on a charge of adultery; a Parliament which assembled in January 1542 passed a Bill of Attainder; and in February the Queen was sent to the block. She was replaced by the widow of Lord Latimer, Catharine Parr; and the influence of Norfolk in the king's counsels gradually gave way to that of Bishop Gardiner of Winchester. But Henry clung to the policy which the Duke favoured. At the end of 1541 two great calamities, the loss of Hungary after a victory of the Turks and a crushing defeat at Algiers, so weakened Charles that in the summer of the following year Francis ventured to attack him. The attack served only to draw closer the negotiations between England and the Emperor; and Francis was forced, as he had threatened, to give Henry work to occupy him at home. The busiest counsellor of the Scotch king, Cardinal Beaton, crossed the seas to negotiate a joint attack, and the attitude of Scotland became so menacing that in the autumn of 1542 Norfolk was again sent to the border with twenty thousand men. But terrible as were his ravages, he could not bring the Scotch army to an engagement, and want of supplies soon forced him to fall back over 4-025]the border. It was in vain that James urged his nobles to follow him in a counter-invasion. They were ready to defend their country; but the memory of Flodden was still fresh, and success in England would only give dangerous strength to a king in whom they saw an enemy. But James was as stubborn in his purpose as the lords. Anxious only to free himself from their presence, he waited till the two armies had alike withdrawn, and then suddenly summoned his subjects to meet him in arms on the western border. A disorderly host gathered at Lochmaben and passed into Cumberland; but the English borderers followed on them fast, and were preparing to attack when at nightfall on the twenty-fifth of November a panic seized the whole Scotch force. Lost in the darkness and cut off from retreat by the Solway Firth, thousands of men with all the baggage and guns fell into the hands of the pursuers. The news of this rout fell on the young king like a sentence of death. For a while he wandered desperately from palace to palace till at the opening of December the tidings met him at Falkland that his queen, Mary of Guise, had given birth to a child. His two boys had both died in youth, and he was longing passionately for an heir to the crown which was slipping from his grasp. But the child was a daughter, the Mary Stuart of later history. "The deil go with it," muttered the dying king, as his mind fell back to the close of the line of Bruce 4-026]and the marriage with Robert's daughter which brought the Stuarts to the Scottish throne, "The deil go with it! It will end as it began. It came with a lass, and it will go with a lass." A few days later he died.
The Marriage Treaty.
The death of James did more than remove a formidable foe. It opened up for the first time a prospect of that union of the two kingdoms which was at last to close their long hostility. Scotland, torn by factions and with a babe for queen, seemed to lie at Henry's feet: and the king seized the opportunity of completing his father's work by a union of the realms. At the opening of 1543 he proposed to the Scotch regent, the Earl of Arran, the marriage of the infant Mary Stuart with his son Edward. To ensure this bridal he demanded that Mary should at once be sent to England, the four great fortresses of Scotland be placed in English hands, and a voice given to Henry himself in the administration of the Scotch Council of Regency. Arran and the Queen-mother, rivals as they were, vied with each other in apparent goodwill to the marriage; but there was a steady refusal to break the league with France, and the "English lords," as the Douglas faction were called, owned themselves helpless in the face of the national jealousy of English ambition. The temper of the nation itself was seen in the answer made by the Scotch Parliament which gathered in the spring. If they consented to the young Queen's 4-027]betrothal, they not only rejected the demands which accompanied the proposal, but insisted that in case of such a union Scotland should have a perpetual regent of its own, and that this office should be hereditary in the House of Arran. Warned by his very partizans that the delivery of Mary was impossible, that if such a demand were pressed "there was not so little a boy but he would hurl stones against it, the wives would handle their distaffs, and the commons would universally die in it," Henry's proposals dropped in July to a treaty of alliance, offensive and defensive, he suffered France to be included among the allies of Scotland named in it, he consented that the young Queen should remain with her mother till the age of ten, and offered guarantees for the maintenance of Scotch independence.
Scotland and France.
But modify it as he might, Henry knew that such a project of union could only be carried out by a war with Francis. His negotiations for a treaty with Charles had long been delayed through Henry's wish to drag the Emperor into an open breach with the Papacy, but at the moment of the King's first proposals for the marriage of Mary Stuart with his son the need of finding a check upon France forced on a formal alliance with the Emperor in February 1543. The two allies agreed that the war should be continued till the Duchy of Burgundy had been restored to the Emperor and till England had recovered Normandy and 4-028]Guienne; while the joint fleets of Henry and Charles held the Channel and sheltered England from any danger of French attack. The main end of this treaty was doubtless to give Francis work at home which might prevent the despatch of a French force into Scotland and the overthrow of Henry's hopes of a Scotch marriage. These hopes were strengthened as the summer went on by the acceptance of his later proposals in a Parliament which was packed by the Regent, and by the actual conclusion of a marriage-treaty. But if Francis could spare neither horse nor man for action in Scotland his influence in the northern kingdom was strong enough to foil Henry's plans. The Churchmen were as bitterly opposed to such a marriage as the partizans of France; and their head, Cardinal Beaton, who had held aloof from the Regent's Parliament, suddenly seized the Queen-mother and her babe, crowned the infant Mary, called a Parliament in December which annulled the marriage-treaty, and set Henry at defiance.
War with France.
The king's wrath at this overthrow of his hopes showed itself in a brutal and impolitic act of vengeance. He was a skilful shipbuilder; and among the many enterprises which the restless genius of Cromwell undertook there was probably none in which Henry took so keen an interest as in his creation of an English fleet. Hitherto merchant ships had been impressed when a fleet was needed; but the progress of naval warfare 4-029]had made the maintenance of an armed force at sea a condition of maritime power, and the resources furnished by the dissolution of the abbeys had been devoted in part to the building of ships of war, the largest of which, the Mary Rose, carried a crew of seven hundred men. The new strength which England was to wield in its navy was first seen in 1544. An army was gathered under Lord Hertford; and while Scotland was looking for the usual advance over the border the Earl's forces were quietly put on board and the English fleet appeared on the third of May in the Firth of Forth. The surprise made resistance impossible. Leith was seized and sacked, Edinburgh, then a town of wooden houses, was given to the flames, and burned for three days and three nights. The country for seven miles round was harried into a desert. The blow was a hard one, but it was little likely to bring Scotchmen round to Henry's projects of union. A brutal raid of the English borderers on Melrose and the destruction of his ancestors' tombs estranged the Earl of Angus, and was quickly avenged by his overthrow of the marauders at Ancrum Moor. Henry had yet to learn the uselessness of mere force to compass his ends. "I shall be glad to serve the king of England, with my honour," said the Lord of Buccleugh to an English envoy, "but I will not be constrained thereto if all Teviotdale be burned to the bottom of hell."
Hertford's force returned in good time to join the army which Henry in person was gathering at Calais to co-operate with the forces assembled by Charles on the north-eastern frontier of France. Each sovereign found himself at the head of forty thousand men, and the Emperor's military ability was seen in his proposal for an advance of both armies upon Paris. But though Henry found no French force in his front, his cautious temper shrank from the risk of leaving fortresses in his rear; and while their allies pushed boldly past Châlons on the capital, the English troops were detained till September in the capture of Boulogne, and only left Boulogne to form the siege of Montreuil. The French were thus enabled to throw their whole force on the Emperor, and Charles found himself in a position from which negotiation alone could extricate him.
Growth of Lutheranism.
His ends were in fact gained by the humiliation of France, and he had as little desire to give England a strong foothold in the neighbourhood of his own Netherlands as in Wolsey's days. The widening of English territory there could hardly fail to encourage that upgrowth of heresy which the Emperor justly looked upon as the greatest danger to the hold of Spain upon the Low Countries, while it would bring Henry a step nearer to the chain of Protestant states which began on the Lower Rhine. The plans which Charles had formed for uniting the Catholics and 4-031]Lutherans in the conferences of Augsburg had broken down before the opposition both of Luther and the Pope. On both sides indeed the religious contest was gathering new violence. A revival had begun in the Church itself, but it was the revival of a militant and uncompromising orthodoxy. In 1542 the fanaticism of Cardinal Caraffa forced on the establishment of a supreme Tribunal of the Inquisition at Rome. The next year saw the establishment of the Jesuits. Meanwhile Lutheranism took a new energy. The whole north of Germany became Protestant. In 1539 the younger branches of the house of Saxony joined the elder in a common adherence to Lutheranism; and their conversion had been followed by that of the Elector of Brandenburg. Southern Germany seemed bent on following the example of the north. The hereditary possessions of Charles himself fell away from Catholicism. The Austrian duchies were overrun with heresy. Bohemia promised soon to become Hussite again. Persecution failed to check the triumph of the new opinions in the Low Countries. The Empire itself threatened to become Protestant. In 1540 the accession of the Elector Palatine robbed Catholicism of Central Germany and the Upper Rhine; and three years later, at the opening of the war with France, that of the Archbishop of Koln gave the Protestants not only the Central Rhineland but a majority in the College of 4-032]Electors. It seemed impossible for Charles to prevent the Empire from repudiating Catholicism in his lifetime, or to hinder the Imperial Crown from falling to a Protestant at his death.
England and France.
The great fabric of power which had been built up by the policy of Ferdinand of Aragon was thus threatened with utter ruin, and Charles saw himself forced into the struggle he had so long avoided, if not for the interests of religion, at any rate for the interests of the House of Austria. He still hoped for a reunion from the Council which was assembling at Trent, and from which a purified Catholicism was to come. But he no longer hoped that the Lutherans would yield to the mere voice of the Council. They would yield only to force, and the first step in such a process of compulsion must be the breaking up of their League of Schmalkald. Only France could save them; and it was to isolate them from France that Charles availed himself of the terror his march on Paris had caused, and concluded a treaty with that power in September 1544. The progress of Protestantism had startled even France itself; and her old policy seemed to be abandoned in her promises of co-operation in the task of repressing heresy in the Empire. But a stronger security against French intervention lay in the unscrupulous dexterity with which, while withdrawing from the struggle, Charles left Henry and Francis still at strife. Henry would not cede 4-033]Boulogne, and Francis saw no means of forcing him to a peace save by a threat of invasion. While an army closed round Boulogne, and a squadron carried troops to Scotland, a hundred and fifty French ships were gathered in the Channel and crossed in the summer of 1545 to the Isle of Wight. But their attacks were feebly conducted and the fleet at last returned to its harbours without striking any serious blow, while the siege of Boulogne dragged idly on through the year. Both kings however drew to peace. In spite of the treaty of Crépy it was impossible for France to abandon the Lutherans, and Francis was eager to free his hands for action across the Rhine. Henry on the other hand, deserted by his ally and with a treasury ruined by the cost of the war, was ready at last to surrender his gains in it. In June 1546 a peace was concluded by which England engaged to surrender Boulogne on payment of a heavy ransom, and France to restore the annual subsidy which had been promised in 1525.
What aided in the close of the war was a new aspect of affairs in Scotland. Since the death of James the Fifth the great foe of England in the north had been the Archbishop of St. Andrews, Cardinal Beaton. In despair of shaking his power his rivals had proposed schemes for his assassination to Henry, and these schemes had been expressly approved. But plot after plot broke 4-034]down; and it was not till May 1546 that a group of Scotch nobles who favoured the Reformation surprised his castle at St. Andrews. Shrieking miserably, "I am a priest! I am a priest! Fie! Fie! All is gone!" the Cardinal was brutally murdered, and his body hung over the castle-walls. His death made it easy to include Scotland in the peace with France which was concluded in the summer. But in England itself peace was a necessity. The Crown was penniless. In spite of the confiscation of the abbey lands in 1539 the treasury was found empty at the very opening of the war: the large subsidies granted by the Parliament were expended; and conscious that a fresh grant could hardly be expected even from the servile Houses the government in 1545 fell back on its old resource of benevolences. Of two London merchants who resisted this demand as illegal one was sent to the Fleet, the second ordered to join the army on the Scotch border; but it was significant that resistance had been offered, and the failure of the war-taxes which were voted at the close of the year to supply the royal needs drove the Council to fresh acts of confiscation. A vast mass of Church property still remained for the spoiler, and by a bill of 1545 more than two thousand chauntries and chapels, with a hundred and ten hospitals, were suppressed to the profit of the Crown. Enormous as this booty was, it could only be slowly realized; 4-035]and the immediate pressure forced the Council to take refuge in the last and worst measure any government can adopt, a debasement of the currency. The evils of such a course were felt till the reign of Elizabeth. But it was a course that could not be repeated; and financial exhaustion played its part in bringing the war to an end.
Charles and the League of Schmalkald.
A still greater part was played by the aspect of affairs in the Empire. Once freed from the check of the war Charles had moved fast to his aim. In 1545 he had adjusted all minor differences with Paul the Third, and Pope and Emperor had resolved on the immediate convocation of the Council, and on the enforcement of its decisions by weight of arms. Should the Emperor be driven to war with the Lutheran princes, the Pope engaged to support him with all his power. "Were it needful" Paul promised "he would sell his very crown in his service." In December the Council was actually opened at Trent, and its proceedings soon showed that no concessions to the Lutherans could be looked for. The Emperor's demand that the reform of the Church should first be taken in hand was evaded; and on the two great questions of the authority of the Bible as a ground of faith, and of justification, the sentence of the Council directly condemned the Protestant opinions. The Lutherans showed their resolve to make no submission by refusing to send 4-036]representatives to Trent; and Charles carried out his pledges to the Papacy by taking the field in the spring of 1546 to break up the League of Schmalkald. But the army gathered under the Elector of Saxony and the Landgrave of Hesse so far outnumbered the Imperial forces that the Emperor could not venture on a battle. Henry watched the course of Charles with a growing anxiety. The hopes of a purified and united Christendom which had drawn him a few years back to the Emperor's side faded before the stern realities of the Council. The highest pretensions of the Papacy had been sanctioned by the bishops gathered at Trent; and to the pretensions of the Papacy Henry was resolved not to bow. He was driven, whether he would or no, on the policy of Cromwell; and in the last months of his life he offered aid to the League of Schmalkald. His offers were rejected; for the Lutheran princes had no faith in his sincerity, and believed themselves strong enough to deal with the Emperor without foreign help.
Effect on English Religion.
But his attitude without told on his policy at home. To the hotter Catholics as to the hotter Protestants the years since Cromwell's fall had seemed years of a gradual return to Catholicism. There had been a slight sharpening of persecution for the Protestants, and restrictions had been put on the reading of the English Bible. The alliance with Charles and the hope of reconciling England 4-037]anew with a pacified Christendom gave fresh cause for suppressing heresy. Neither Norfolk nor his master indeed desired any rigorous measure of reaction, for Henry remained proud of the work he had done. His bitterness against the Papacy only grew as the years went by; and at the very moment that heretics were suffering for a denial of the mass, others were suffering by their side for a denial of the supremacy. But strange and anomalous as its system seemed, the drift of Henry's religious government had as yet been in one direction, that of a return to and reconciliation with the body of the Catholic Church. With the decision of the Council and the new attitude of the Emperor this drift was suddenly arrested. It was not that Henry realized the revolution that was opening before him or the vast importance of the steps which his policy now led him to take. His tendency, like that of his people, was religious rather than theological, practical rather than speculative. Of the immense problems which were opening in the world neither he nor England saw anything. The religious strife which was to break Europe asunder was to the king as to the bulk of Englishmen a quarrel of words and hot temper; the truth which Christendom was to rend itself to pieces in striving to discover was a thing that could easily be found with the aid of God. There is something humorous as there is something pathetic in the warnings which Henry addressed to the 4-038]Parliament at the close of 1545. The shadow of death as it fell over him gave the king's words a new gentleness and tenderness. "The special foundation of our religion being charity between man and man, it is so refrigerate as there never was more dissension and lack of love between man and man, the occasions whereof are opinions only and names devised for the continuance of the same. Some are called Papists, some Lutherans, and some Anabaptists; names devised of the devil, and yet not fully without ground, for the severing of one man's heart by conceit of opinion from the other." But the remedy was a simple one. Every man was "to travail first for his own amendment." Then the bishops and clergy were to agree in their teaching, "which, seeing there is but one truth and verity, they may easily do, calling therein for the grace of God." Then the nobles and laity were to be pious and humble, to read their new Bibles "reverently and humbly . . . and in any doubt to resort to the learned or at best the higher powers." "I am very sorry to know and hear how unreverendly that precious jewel, the Word of God, is disputed, rimed, sung, and jangled in every alehouse and tavern. This kind of man is depraved and that kind of man, this ceremony and that ceremony." All this controversy might be done away by simple charity. "Therefore be in charity one with another like brother and brother. Have respect to the pleasing of God; and then I doubt 4-039]not that love I spoke of shall never be dissolved between us."
The Religious Truce.
There is something wonderful in the English coolness and narrowness, in the speculative blindness and practical good sense which could look out over such a world at such a moment, and could see nothing in it save a quarrel of "opinions, and of names devised for the continuance of the same." But Henry only expressed the general feeling of his people. England indeed was being slowly leavened with a new spirit. The humiliation of the clergy, the Lutheran tendencies of half the bishops, the crash of the abbeys, the destruction of chauntries and mass-chapels, a measure which told closely on the actual worship of the day, the new articles of faith, the diffusion of Bibles, the "jangling" and discussion which followed on every step in the king's course, were all telling on the thoughts of men. But the temper of the nation as a whole remained religiously conservative. It drifted rather to the moderate reforms of the New Learning than to any radical reconstruction of the Church. There was a general disinclination indeed to push matters to either extreme, a general shrinking from the persecution which the Catholic called for as from the destruction which the Protestant was desiring. It was significant that a new heresy bill which passed through the Lords in 1545 quietly disappeared when it reached the Commons. But this shrinking rested rather on national than on 4-040]theological grounds, on a craving for national union which Henry expressed in his cry for "brotherly love," and on an imperfect appreciation of the real nature or consequence of the points at issue which made men shrink from burning their neighbours for "opinions and names devised for the continuance of the same." What Henry and what the bulk of Englishmen wanted was, not indeed wholly to rest in what had been done, but to do little more save the remedying of obvious abuses or the carrying on of obvious improvements. One such improvement was the supplying men with the means of private devotion in their own tongue, a measure from which none but the fanatics of either side dissented. This process went slowly on in the issuing of two primers in 1535 and 1539, the rendering into English of the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and the Ten Commandments, the publication of an English Litany for outdoor processions in 1544, and the adding to this of a collection of English prayers in 1545.
The Court Factions.
But the very tone of Henry shows his consciousness that this religious truce rested on his will alone. Around him as he lay dying stood men who were girding themselves to a fierce struggle for power, a struggle that could not fail to wake the elements of religious discord which he had striven to lull asleep. Adherents of the Papacy, advocates of a new submission to a foreign spiritual jurisdiction there were few or none; for the most 4-041]conservative of English Churchmen or nobles had as yet no wish to restore the older Roman supremacy. But Norfolk and Gardiner were content with this assertion of national and ecclesiastical independence; in all matters of faith they were earnest to conserve, to keep things as they were, and in front of them stood a group of nobles who were bent on radical change. The marriages, the reforms, the profusion of Henry had aided him in his policy of weakening the nobles by building up a new nobility which sprang from the Court and was wholly dependent on the Crown. Such were the Russells, the Cavendishes, the Wriothesleys, the Fitzwilliams. Such was John Dudley, a son of the Dudley who had been put to death for his financial oppression in Henry the Seventh's days, but who had been restored in blood, attached to the court, raised to the peerage as Lord Lisle, and who, whether as adviser or general, had been actively employed in high stations at the close of this reign. Such above all were the two brothers of Jane Seymour. The elder of the two, Edward Seymour, had been raised to the earldom of Hertford, and entrusted with the command of the English army in its operations against Scotland. As uncle of Henry's boy Edward, he could not fail to play a leading part in the coming reign; and the nobles of the "new blood," as their opponents called them in disdain, drew round him as their head. Without any historical hold on the country, raised by the royal caprice, and 4-042]enriched by the spoil of the monasteries, these nobles were pledged to the changes from which they had sprung and to the party of change. Over the mass of the nation their influence was small; and in the strife for power with the older nobles which they were anticipating they were forced to look to the small but resolute body of men who, whether from religious enthusiasm or from greed of wealth or power, were bent on bringing the English Church nearer to conformity with the reformed Churches of the Continent. As Henry drew to his grave the two factions faced each other with gathering dread and gathering hate. Hot words betrayed their hopes. "If God should call the king to his mercy," said Norfolk's son, Lord Surrey, "who were so meet to govern the Prince as my lord my father?" "Rather than it should come to pass," retorted a partizan of Hertford's, "that the Prince should be under the governance of your father or you, I would abide the adventure to thrust a dagger in you!"
In the history of English poetry the name of Lord Surrey takes an illustrious place. An Elizabethan writer tells us how at this time "sprang up a new company of courtly makers, of whom Sir Thomas Wyatt the elder and Henry, Earl of Surrey, were the two chieftains; who having travelled to Italy, and there tasted the sweet and stately measures and style of the Italian poesy, as novices newly crept out of the schools of Dante, 4-043]Ariosto, and Petrarch, they greatly polished our rude and homely manner of vulgar poesy from what it had been before, and for that cause may justly be said to be the first reformers of our English metre and style." The dull moralizings of the rimers who followed Chaucer, the rough but vivacious doggrel of Skelton, made way in the hands of Wyatt and Surrey for delicate imitations of the songs, sonnets, and rondels of Italy and France. With the Italian conceits came an Italian refinement whether of words or of thought; and the force and versatility of Surrey's youth showed itself in whimsical satires, in classical translations, in love-sonnets, and in paraphrases of the Psalms. In his version of two books of the Æneid he was the first to introduce into England the Italian blank verse which was to play so great a part in our literature. But with the poetic taste of the Renascence Surrey inherited its wild and reckless energy. Once he was sent to the Fleet for challenging a gentleman to fight. Release enabled him to join his father in an expedition against Scotland, but he was no sooner back than the Londoners complained how at Candlemas the young lord and his comrades "went out with stone bows at midnight," and how next day "there was great clamour of the breaking of many glass windows both of houses and churches, and shooting at men that might be in the streets." In spite of his humorous excuse that the jest only purposed 4-044]to bring home to men that "from justice' rod no fault is free, but that all such as work unright in most quiet are next unrest," Surrey paid for this outbreak with a fresh arrest which drove him to find solace in paraphrases of Ecclesiastes and the Psalms. Soon he was over sea with the English troops in Flanders, and in 1544 serving as marshal of the camp to conduct the retreat after the siege of Montreuil. Sent to relieve Boulogne, he remained in charge of the town till the spring of 1546, when he returned to England to rime sonnets to a fair Geraldine, the daughter of the Earl of Kildare, and to plunge into the strife of factions around the dying king.
Fall of the Howards.
All moral bounds had been loosened by the spirit of the Renascence, and, if we accept the charge of his rivals, Surrey now aimed at gaining a hold on Henry by offering him his sister as a mistress. It is as possible that the young Earl was aiming simply at the displacement of Catharine Parr, and at the renewal by his sister's elevation to the throne of that matrimonial hold upon Henry which the Howards had already succeeded in gaining through the unions with Anne Boleyn and Catharine Howard. But a temper such as Surrey's was ill matched against the subtle and unscrupulous schemers who saw their enemy in a pride that scorned the "new men" about him and vowed that when once the king was dead "they should smart for it." The turn of foreign affairs gave a 4-045]fresh strength to the party which sympathized with the Protestants and denounced that alliance with the Emperor which had been throughout the policy of the Howards. Henry's offer of aid to the Lutheran princes marked the triumph of this party in the royal councils; and the new steps which Cranmer was suffered to make towards an English Liturgy showed that the religious truce of Henry's later years was at last abandoned. Hertford, the head of the "new men," came more to the front as the waning health of the king brought Jane Seymour's boy, Edward, nearer to the throne. In the new reign Hertford, as the boy's uncle, was sure to play a great part; and he used his new influence to remove the only effective obstacle to his future greatness. Surrey's talk of his royal blood, the Duke's quartering of the royal arms to mark his Plantagenet descent, and some secret interviews with the French ambassador, were adroitly used to wake Henry's jealousy of the dangers which might beset the throne of his child. Norfolk and his son were alike committed to the Tower at the close of 1546. A month later Surrey was condemned and sent to the block, and his father was only saved by the sudden death of Henry the Eighth in January, 1547.
Hertford made Protector.
By an Act passed in the Parliament of 1544 it had been provided that the crown should pass to Henry's son Edward, and on Edward's death without issue to his sister Mary. Should Mary prove 4-046]childless it was to go to Elizabeth, the child of Anne Boleyn. Beyond this point the Houses would make no provision, but power was given to the king to make further dispositions by will. At his death it was found that Henry had passed over the line of his sister Margaret of Scotland, and named as next in the succession to Elizabeth the daughters of his younger sister Mary by her marriage with Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk. As Edward was but nine years old Henry had appointed a carefully-balanced Council of Regency; but the will fell into Hertford's keeping, and when the list of regents was at last disclosed Gardiner, who had till now been the leading minister, was declared to have been excluded from the number of executors. Whether the exclusion was Henry's act or the act of the men who used his name, the absence of the bishop with the imprisonment of Norfolk threw the balance of power on the side of the "new men" who were represented by Hertford and Lisle. Their chief opponent, the Chancellor Wriothesley, struggled in vain against their next step towards supremacy, the modification of Henry's will by the nomination of Hertford as Protector of the realm and governor of Edward's person. Alleged directions from the dying king served as pretexts for the elevation of the whole party to higher rank in the state. It was to repair "the decay of the old English nobility" that Hertford raised himself to the dukedom of Somerset 4-047]and his brother to the barony of Seymour, the queen's brother Lord Parr to the marquisate of Northampton, Lisle to the earldom of Warwick, Russell to that of Bedford, Wriothesley to that of Southampton. Ten of their partizans became barons, and as the number of peers in spite of recent creations still stood at about fifty such a group constituted a power in the Upper House. Alleged directions of the king were conveniently remembered to endow the new peers with public money, though the treasury was beggared and the debt pressing. The expulsion of Wriothesley from the Chancellorship and Council soon left the "new men" without a check; but they were hardly masters of the royal power when a bold stroke of Somerset laid all at his feet. A new patent of Protectorate, drawn out in the boy-king's name, empowered his uncle to act with or without the consent of his fellow-executors, and left him supreme in the realm.
Somerset and the Protestants.
Boldly and adroitly as the whole revolution had been managed, it was none the less a revolution. To crush their opponents the Council had first used, and then set aside, Henry's will. Hertford in turn by the use of his nephew's name set aside both the will and the Council. A country gentleman, who had risen by the accident of his sister's queenship to high rank at the Court, had thus by sheer intrigue and self-assertion made himself ruler of the realm. But daring and self-confident 4-048]as he was, Somerset was forced by his very elevation to seek support for the power he had won by this surprise in measures which marked the retreat of the Monarchy from that position of pure absolutism which it had reached at the close of Henry's reign. The Statute that had given to royal proclamations the force of law was repealed, and several of the new felonies and treasons which Cromwell had created and used with so terrible an effect were erased from the Statute Book. The popularity however which such measures won was too vague a force to serve in the strife of the moment. Against the pressure of the conservative party who had so suddenly found themselves jockeyed out of power Somerset and the "new men" could look for no help but from the Protestants. The hope of their support united with the new Protector's personal predilections in his patronage of the innovations against which Henry had battled to the last. Cranmer had now drifted into a purely Protestant position; and his open break with the older system followed quickly on Seymour's rise to power. "This year," says a contemporary, "the Archbishop of Canterbury did eat meat openly in Lent in the Hall of Lambeth, the like of which was never seen since England was a Christian country." This notable act was followed by a rapid succession of sweeping changes. The legal prohibitions of Lollardry were rescinded; the Six Articles were repealed; a royal injunction removed all pictures 4-049]and images from the churches. A formal Statute gave priests the right to marry. A resolution of Convocation which was confirmed by Parliament brought about the significant change which first definitely marked the severance of the English Church in doctrine from the Roman, by ordering that the sacrament of the altar should be administered in both kinds.
The Common Prayer.
A yet more significant change followed. The old tongue of the Church was now to be disused in public worship. The universal use of Latin had marked the Catholic and European character of the older religion: the use of English marked the strictly national and local character of the new system. In the spring of 1548 a common Communion Service in English was added to the solitary Mass of the priest; an English book of Common Prayer, the Liturgy which with slight alterations is still used in the Church of England, soon replaced the Missal and Breviary from which its contents are mainly drawn. The name "Common Prayer," which was given to the new Liturgy, marked its real import. The theory of worship which prevailed through Mediæval Christendom, the belief that the worshipper assisted only at rites wrought for him by priestly hands, at a sacrifice wrought through priestly intervention, at the offering of prayer and praise by priestly lips, was now set at naught. "The laity," it has been picturesquely said, "were called up into the Chancel." The act of devotion 4-050]became a "common prayer" of the whole body of worshippers. The Mass became a "communion" of the whole Christian fellowship. The priest was no longer the offerer of a mysterious sacrifice, the mediator between God and the worshipper; he was set on a level with the rest of the Church, and brought down to be the simple mouthpiece of the congregation.
The Triumph of the Emperor.
What gave a wider importance to these measures was their bearing on the general politics of Christendom. The adhesion of England to the Protestant cause came at a moment when Protestantism seemed on the verge of ruin. The confidence of the Lutheran princes in their ability to resist the Emperor had been seen in their refusal of succour from Henry the Eighth. But in the winter of Henry's death the secession of Duke Maurice of Saxony with many of his colleagues from the League of Schmalkald so weakened the Protestant body that Charles was able to put its leaders to the ban of the Empire. Hertford was hardly Protector when the German princes called loudly for aid; but the fifty thousand crowns which were secretly sent by the English Council could scarcely have reached them when in April 1547 Charles surprised their camp at Muhlberg and routed their whole army. The Elector of Saxony was taken prisoner; the Landgrave of Hesse surrendered in despair. His victory left Charles master of the Empire. The 4-051]jealousy of the Pope indeed at once revived with the Emperor's success, and his recall of the bishops from Trent forced Charles to defer his wider plans for enforcing religious unity; while in Germany itself he was forced to reckon with Duke Maurice and the Protestant princes who had deserted the League of Schmalkald, but whose one object in joining the Emperor had been to provide a check on his after movements. For the moment therefore he was driven to prolong the religious truce by an arrangement called the "Interim." But the Emperor's purpose was now clear. Wherever his power was actually felt the religious reaction began; and the Imperial towns which held firmly to the Lutheran creed were reduced by force of arms. It was of the highest moment that in this hour of despair the Protestants saw their rule suddenly established in a new quarter, and the Lutheranism which was being trampled under foot in its own home triumphant in England. England became the common refuge of the panic-struck Protestants. Bucer and Fagius were sent to lecture at Cambridge, Peter Martyr advocated the anti-sacramentarian views of Calvin at Oxford. Cranmer welcomed refugees from every country, Germans, Italians, French, Poles, and Swiss, to his palace at Lambeth. When persecution broke out in the Low Countries the fugitive Walloons were received at London and Canterbury, and allowed to set up in both places their own churches.
But Somerset dreamed of a wider triumph for "the religion." On his death-bed Henry was said to have enforced on the Council the need of carrying out his policy of a union of Scotland with England through the marriage of its Queen with his boy. A wise statesmanship would have suffered the Protestant movement which had been growing stronger in the northern kingdom since Beaton's death to run quietly its course; and his colleagues warned Somerset to leave Scotch affairs untouched till Edward was old enough to undertake them in person. But these counsels were set aside; and a renewal of the border warfare enforced the Protector's demands for a closer union of the kingdoms. The jealousy of France was roused at once, and a French fleet appeared off the Scottish coast to reduce the castle of St. Andrews, which had been held since Beaton's death by the English partizans who murdered him. The challenge called Somerset himself to the field; and crossing the Tweed with a fine army of eighteen thousand men in the summer of 1547 the Protector pushed along the coast till he found the Scots encamped behind the Esk on the slopes of Musselburgh, six miles eastward of Edinburgh. The English invasion had drawn all the factions of the kingdom together against the stranger, and a body of "Gospellers" under Lord Angus formed the advance-guard of the Scotch army as it moved by its right on the tenth of September to turn the English position 4-053]and drive Somerset into the sea. The English horse charged the Scottish front only to be flung off by its pikemen; but their triumph threw the Lowlanders into disorder, and as they pushed forward in pursuit their advance was roughly checked by the fire of a body of Italian musketeers whom Somerset had brought with him. The check was turned into a defeat by a general charge of the English line, a fatal panic broke the Scottish host, and ten thousand men fell in its headlong flight beneath the English lances.
Victor as he was at Pinkie Cleugh, Somerset was soon forced by famine to fall back from the wasted country. His victory indeed had been more fatal to the interests of England than a defeat. The Scots in despair turned as of old to France, and bought its protection by consenting to the child-queen's marriage with the son of Henry the Second, who had followed Francis on the throne. In the summer of 1548 Mary Stuart sailed under the escort of a French fleet and landed safely at Brest. Not only was the Tudor policy of union foiled, as it seemed, for ever, but Scotland was henceforth to be a part of the French realm. To north as to south England would feel the pressure of the French king. Nor was Somerset's policy more successful at home. The religious changes he was forcing on the land were carried through with the despotism, if not with the vigour, of Cromwell. In his acceptance of the personal supremacy 4-054]of the sovereign, Gardiner was ready to bow to every change which Henry had ordered, or which his son, when of age to be fully king, might order in the days to come. But he denounced all ecclesiastical changes made during the king's minority as illegal and invalid. Untenable as it was, this protest probably represented the general mind of Englishmen; but the bishop was committed by the Council to prison in the Fleet, and though soon released was sent by the Protector to the Tower. The power of preaching was restricted by the issue of licences only to the friends of the Primate. While all counter-arguments were rigidly suppressed, a crowd of Protestant pamphleteers flooded the country with vehement invectives against the Mass and its superstitious accompaniments. The suppression of chauntries and religious gilds which was now being carried out enabled Somerset to buy the assent of noble and landowner to his measures by glutting their greed with the last spoils of the Church.
But it was impossible to buy off the general aversion of the people to the Protector's measures; and German and Italian mercenaries had to be introduced to stamp out the popular discontent which broke out in the east, in the west, and in the midland counties. Everywhere men protested against the new changes and called for the maintenance of the system of Henry the Eighth. The Cornishmen refused to receive the new service 4-055]"because it is like a Christmas game." In 1549 Devonshire demanded by open revolt the restoration of the Mass and the Six Articles as well as a partial re-establishment of the suppressed abbeys. The agrarian discontent woke again in the general disorder. Enclosures and evictions were going steadily on, and the bitterness of the change was being heightened by the results of the dissolution of the abbeys. Church lands had always been underlet, the monks were easy landlords, and on no estates had the peasantry been as yet so much exempt from the general revolution in culture. But the new lay masters to whom the abbey lands fell were quick to reap their full value by a rise of rents and by the same processes of eviction and enclosure as went on elsewhere. The distress was deepened by the change in the value of money which was now beginning to be felt from the mass of gold and silver which the New World was yielding to the Old, and still more by a general rise of prices that followed on the debasement of the coinage which had begun with Henry and went on yet more unscrupulously under Somerset. The trouble came at last to a head in the manufacturing districts of the eastern counties. Twenty thousand men gathered round an "oak of Reformation" near Norwich, and repulsing the royal troops in a desperate engagement renewed the old cries for a removal of evil counsellors, a prohibition of enclosures, and redress for the grievances of the poor.
The revolt of the Norfolk men was stamped out in blood by the energy of Lord Warwick, as the revolt in the west had been put down by Lord Russell, but the risings had given a fatal blow to Somerset's power. It had already been weakened by strife within his own family. His brother Thomas had been created Lord Seymour and raised to the post of Lord High Admiral; but, glutted as he was with lands and honours, his envy at Somerset's fortunes broke out in a secret marriage with the Queen-dowager, Catharine Parr, in an attempt on her death to marry Elizabeth, and in intrigues to win the confidence of the young king and detach him from his brother. Seymour's discontent was mounting into open revolt when in the January of 1549 he was arrested, refused a trial, attainted, and sent to the block. The stain of a brother's blood, however justly shed, rested from that hour on Somerset, while the nobles were estranged from him by his resolve to enforce the laws against enclosures and evictions, as well as by the weakness he had shown in the presence of the revolt. Able indeed as Somerset was, his temper was not that of a ruler of men; and his miserable administration had all but brought government to a standstill. While he was dreaming of a fresh invasion of Scotland the treasury was empty, not a servant of the state was paid, and the soldiers he had engaged on the Continent refused to cross the Channel in despair of receiving their hire. It was 4-057]only by loans raised at ruinous interest that the Protector escaped sheer bankruptcy when the revolts in east and west came to swell the royal expenses. His weakness in tampering with the popular demands completed his ruin. The nobles dreaded a communistic outbreak like that of the Suabian peasantry, and their dread was justified by prophecies that monarchy and nobility were alike to be destroyed and a new rule set up under governors elected by the people. They dreaded yet more the being forced to disgorge their spoil to appease the discontent. At the close of 1549 therefore the Council withdrew openly from Somerset, and forced the Protector to resign.
His office passed to the Earl of Warwick, to whose ruthless severity the suppression of the revolt was mainly due. The change of governors however brought about no change of system. Peace indeed was won from France by the immediate surrender of Boulogne; but the misgovernment remained as great as ever, the currency was yet further debased, and a wild attempt made to remedy the effects of this measure by a royal fixing of prices. It was in vain that Latimer denounced the prevailing greed, and bade the Protestant lords choose "either restitution or else damnation." Their sole aim seemed to be that of building up their own fortunes at the cost of the State. All pretence of winning popular sympathy was gone, and the rule of the upstart nobles who formed the 4-058]Council of Regency became simply a rule of terror. "The greater part of the people," one of their creatures, Cecil, avowed, "is not in favour of defending this cause, but of aiding its adversaries; on that side are the greater part of the nobles, who absent themselves from Court, all the bishops save three or four, almost all the judges and lawyers, almost all the justices of the peace, the priests who can move their flocks any way, for the whole of the commonalty is in such a state of irritation that it will easily follow any stir towards change." But united as it was in its opposition the nation was helpless. The system of despotism which Cromwell built up had been seized by a knot of adventurers, and with German and Italian mercenaries at their disposal they rode roughshod over the land.
At such a moment it seemed madness to provoke foes abroad as well as at home, but the fanaticism of the young king was resolved to force on his sister Mary a compliance with the new changes, and her resistance was soon backed by the remonstrances of her cousin, the Emperor. Charles was now at the height of his power, master of Germany, preparing to make the Empire hereditary in the person of his son, Philip, and preluding a wider effort to suppress heresy throughout the world by the establishment of the Inquisition in the Netherlands and a fiery persecution which drove thousands of Walloon heretics to find a refuge 4-059]in England. But heedless of dangers from without or of dangers from within Cranmer and his colleagues advanced more boldly than ever in the career of innovation. Four prelates who adhered to the older system were deprived of their sees and committed on frivolous pretexts to the Tower. A new Catechism embodied the doctrines of the reformers, and a book of Homilies which enforced the chief Protestant tenets was ordered to be read in churches. A crowning defiance was given to the doctrine of the Mass by an order to demolish the stone altars and replace them by wooden tables, which were stationed for the most part in the middle of the church. In 1552 a revised Prayer Book was issued, and every change made in it leaned directly towards the extreme Protestantism which was at this time finding a home at Geneva. On the cardinal point of difference, the question of the sacrament, the new formularies broke away not only from the doctrine of Rome but from that of Luther, and embodied the anti-sacramentarian tenets of Zwingli and Calvin. Forty-two Articles of Religion were introduced; and though since reduced by omissions to thirty-nine these have remained to this day the formal standard of doctrine in the English Church. Like the Prayer Book, they were mainly the work of Cranmer; and belonging as they did to the class of Confessions which were now being framed in Germany to be presented to the Council of Christendom 4-060]which Charles was still resolute to reassemble, they marked the adhesion of England to the Protestant movement on the Continent. Even the episcopal mode of government which still connected the English Church with the old Catholic Communion was reduced to a form; in Cranmer's mind the spiritual powers of the bishops were drawn simply from the king's commission as their temporal jurisdiction was exercised in the king's name. They were reduced therefore to the position of royal officers, and called to hold their offices simply at the royal pleasure. The sufferings of the Protestants had failed to teach them the worth of religious liberty; and a new code of ecclesiastical laws, which was ordered to be drawn up by a board of Commissioners as a substitute for the Canon Law of the Catholic Church, although it shrank from the penalty of death, attached that of perpetual imprisonment or exile to the crimes of heresy, blasphemy, and adultery, and declared excommunication to involve a severance of the offender from the mercy of God and his deliverance into the tyranny of the devil. Delays in the completion of this Code prevented its legal establishment during Edward's reign; but the use of the new Liturgy and attendance at the new service were enforced by imprisonment, and subscription to the Articles of Faith was demanded by royal authority from all clergymen, churchwardens, and schoolmasters.
The Religious Disorder.
The distaste for changes so hurried and so rigorously enforced was increased by the daring speculations of the more extreme Protestants. The real value of the religious revolution of the sixteenth century to mankind lay, not in its substitution of one creed for another, but in the new spirit of enquiry, the new freedom of thought and of discussion, which was awakened during the process of change. But however familiar such a truth may be to us, it was absolutely hidden from the England of the time. Men heard with horror that the foundations of faith and morality were questioned, polygamy advocated, oaths denounced as unlawful, community of goods raised into a sacred obligation, the very Godhead of the Founder of Christianity denied. The repeal of the Statute of Heresy left indeed the powers of the Common Law intact, and Cranmer availed himself of these to send heretics of the last class without mercy to the stake. But within the Church itself the Primate's desire for uniformity was roughly resisted by the more ardent members of his own party. Hooper, who had been named Bishop of Gloucester, refused to wear the episcopal habits, and denounced them as the livery of the "harlot of Babylon," a name for the Papacy which was supposed to have been discovered in the Apocalypse. Ecclesiastical order came almost to an end. Priests flung aside the surplice as superstitious. Patrons of livings presented their huntsmen or gamekeepers to the 4-062]benefices in their gift, and kept the stipend. All teaching of divinity ceased at the Universities: the students indeed had fallen off in numbers, the libraries were in part scattered or burned, the intellectual impulse of the New Learning died away. One noble measure indeed, the foundation of eighteen Grammar Schools, was destined to throw a lustre over the name of Edward, but it had no time to bear fruit in his reign.
Ireland and the Reformation
While the reckless energy of the reformers brought England to the verge of chaos, it brought Ireland to the brink of rebellion. The fall of Cromwell had been followed by a long respite in the religious changes which he was forcing on the conquered dependency; but with the accession of Edward the Sixth the system of change was renewed with all the energy of Protestant zeal. In 1551 the bishops were summoned before the deputy, Sir Anthony St. Leger, to receive the new English Liturgy which, though written in a tongue as strange to the native Irish as Latin itself, was now to supersede the Latin service-book in every diocese. The order was the signal for an open strife. "Now shall every illiterate fellow read mass," burst forth Dowdall, the Archbishop of Armagh, as he flung out of the chamber with all but one of his suffragans at his heels. Archbishop Browne of Dublin on the other hand was followed in his profession of obedience 4-063]by the Bishops of Meath, Limerick, and Kildare. The government however was far from quailing before the division of the episcopate. Dowdall was driven from the country; and the vacant sees were filled with Protestants, like Bale, of the most advanced type. But no change could be wrought by measures such as these in the opinions of the people themselves. The new episcopal reformers spoke no Irish, and of their English sermons not a word was understood by the rude kernes around the pulpit. The native priests remained silent. "As for preaching we have none," reports a zealous Protestant, "without which the ignorant can have no knowledge." The prelates who used the new Prayer Book were simply regarded as heretics. The Bishop of Meath was assured by one of his flock that, "if the country wist how, they would eat you." Protestantism had failed to wrest a single Irishman from his older convictions, but it succeeded in uniting all Ireland against the Crown. The old political distinctions which had been produced by the conquest of Strongbow faded before the new struggle for a common faith. The population within the Pale and without it became one, "not as the Irish nation," it has been acutely said, "but as Catholics." A new sense of national identity was found in the identity of religion. "Both English and Irish begin to oppose your Lordship's orders," Browne had written to Cromwell 4-064]at the very outset of these changes, "and to lay aside their national old quarrels."
The Peace of Passau.
Oversea indeed the perils of the new government passed suddenly away. Charles had backed Mary's resistance with threats, and as he moved forward to that mastery of the world to which he confidently looked his threats might any day become serious dangers. But the peace with England had set the French government free to act in Germany, and it found allies in the great middle party of princes whose secession from the League of Schmalkald had seemed to bring ruin to the Protestant cause. The aim of Duke Maurice in bringing them to desert the League had been to tie the Emperor's hands by the very fact of their joining him, and for a while this policy had been successful. But the death of Paul the Third, whose jealousy had till now foiled the Emperor's plans, and the accession of an Imperial nominee to the Papal throne, enabled Charles to move more boldly to his ends, and at the close of 1551 a fresh assembly of the Council at Trent, and an Imperial summons of the Lutheran powers to send divines to its sessions and to submit to its decisions, brought matters to an issue. Maurice was forced to accept the aid of the stranger and to conclude a secret treaty with France. He was engaged as a general of Charles in the siege of Magdeburg; but in the spring of 1552 the army he had then at command 4-065]was suddenly marched to the south, and through the passes of the Tyrol the Duke moved straight on the Imperial camp at Innspruck. Charles was forced to flee for very life while the Council at Trent broke hastily up, and in a few months the whole Imperial design was in ruin. Henry the Second was already moving on the Rhine; to meet the French king Charles was forced to come to terms with the Lutheran princes; and his signature in the summer of a Treaty at Passau secured to their states the free exercise of the reformed religion and gave the Protestant princes their due weight in the tribunals of the empire.
The Protestant Misrule.
The humiliation of the Emperor, the fierce warfare which now engaged both his forces and those of France, removed from England the danger of outer interference. But within the misrule went recklessly on. All that men saw was a religious and political chaos, in which ecclesiastical order had perished and in which politics were dying down into the squabbles of a knot of nobles over the spoils of the Church and the Crown. Not content with Somerset's degradation, the Council charged him in 1551 with treason, and sent him to the block. Honours and lands were lavished as ever on themselves and their adherents. Warwick became Duke of Northumberland, Lord Dorset was made Duke of Suffolk, Paulet rose to the Marquisate of Winchester, Sir William Herbert was created Earl of 4-066]Pembroke. The plunder of the chauntries and the gilds failed to glut the appetite of this crew of spoilers. Half the lands of every see were flung to them in vain; an attempt was made to satisfy their greed by a suppression of the wealthy see of Durham; and the whole endowments of the Church were threatened with confiscation. But while the courtiers gorged themselves with manors, the Treasury grew poorer. The coinage was again debased. Crown lands to the value of five millions of our modern money had been granted away to the friends of Somerset and Warwick. The royal expenditure mounted in seventeen years to more than four times its previous total. In spite of the brutality and bloodshed with which revolt had been suppressed, and of the foreign soldiery on whom the Council relied, there were signs of resistance which would have made less reckless statesmen pause. The temper of the Parliament had drifted far from the slavish subservience which it showed at the close of Henry's reign. The House of Commons met Northumberland's project for the pillage of the bishoprick of Durham with opposition, and rejected a new treason bill. In 1552 the Duke was compelled to force nominees of his own on the constituencies by writs from the Council before he could count on a House to his mind. Such writs had been often issued since the days of Henry the Seventh; but the ministers of Edward 4-067]were driven to an expedient which shows how rapidly the temper of independence was growing. The summons of new members from places hitherto unrepresented was among the prerogatives of the Crown, and the Protectorate used this power to issue writs to small villages in the west which could be trusted to return members to its mind.
Edward the Sixth.
This "packing of Parliament" was to be largely extended in the following reigns; but it passed as yet with little comment. What really kept England quiet was a trust that the young king, who would be of age in two or three years, would then set all things right again. "When he comes of age," said a Hampshire squire, "he will see another rule, and hang up a hundred heretic knaves." Edward's temper was as lordly as that of his father, and had he once really reigned he would probably have dealt as roughly with the plunderers who had used his name as England hoped. But he was a fanatical Protestant, and his rule would almost certainly have forced on a religious strife as bitter and disastrous as the strife which broke the strength of Germany and France. From this calamity the country was saved by his waning health. Edward was now fifteen, but in the opening of 1553 the signs of coming death became too clear for Northumberland and his fellows to mistake them. By the Statute of the Succession the death of the young 4-068]king would bring Mary to the throne; and as Mary was known to have refused acceptance of all changes in her father's system, and was looked on as anxious only to restore it, her accession became a subject of national hope. But to Northumberland and his fellows her succession was fatal. They had personally outraged Mary by their attempts to force her into compliance with their system. Her first act would be to free Norfolk and the bishops whom they held prisoners in the Tower, and to set these bitter enemies in power. With ruin before them the Protestant lords were ready for a fresh revolution; and the bigotry of the young king fell in with their plans.
In his zeal for "the religion," and in his absolute faith in his royal autocracy, Edward was ready to override will and statute and to set Mary's rights aside. In such a case the crown fell legally to Elizabeth, the daughter of Anne Boleyn, who had been placed by the Act next in succession to Mary, and whose training under Catharine Parr and the Seymours gave good hopes of her Protestant sympathies. The cause of Elizabeth would have united the whole of the "new men" in its defence, and might have proved a formidable difficulty in Mary's way. But for the maintenance of his personal power Northumberland could as little count on Elizabeth as on Mary; and in Edward's death the Duke saw a 4-069]chance of raising, if not himself, at any rate his own blood to the throne. He persuaded the young king that he possessed as great a right as his father to settle the succession of the Crown by will. Henry had passed by the children of his sister Margaret of Scotland, and had placed next to Elizabeth in the succession the children of his younger sister Mary, the wife of Charles Brandon, the Duke of Suffolk. Frances, Mary's child by this marriage, was still living, the mother of three daughters by her marriage with Grey, Lord Dorset, a hot partizan of the religious changes, who had been raised under the Protectorate to the Dukedom of Suffolk. Frances was a woman of thirty-seven; but her accession to the Crown squared as little with Northumberland's plans as that of Mary or Elizabeth. In the will therefore which the young king drew up Edward was brought to pass over Frances, and to name as his successor her eldest daughter, the Lady Jane Grey. The marriage of Jane Grey with Guildford Dudley, the fourth son of Northumberland, was all that was needed to complete the unscrupulous plot. It was the celebration of this marriage in May which first woke a public suspicion of the existence of such designs, and the general murmur which followed on the suspicion might have warned the Duke of his danger. But the secret was closely kept, and it was only in June that Edward's "plan" was laid in the same 4-070]strict secrecy before Northumberland's colleagues. A project which raised the Duke into a virtual sovereignty over the realm could hardly fail to stir resistance in the Council. The king however was resolute, and his will was used to set aside all scruples. The judges who represented that letters patent could not override a positive statute were forced into signing their assent by Edward's express command. To their signatures were added those of the whole Council with Cranmer at its head. The primate indeed remonstrated, but his remonstrances proved as fruitless as those of his fellow-councillors.
Fall of Northumberland.
The deed was hardly done when on the sixth of July the young king passed away. Northumberland felt little anxiety about the success of his design. He had won over Lord Hastings to his support by giving him his daughter in marriage, and had secured the help of Lord Pembroke by wedding Jane's sister, Catharine, to his son. The army, the fortresses, the foreign soldiers, were at his command; the hotter Protestants were with him; France, in dread of Mary's kinship with the Emperor, offered support to his plans. Jane therefore was at once proclaimed Queen on Edward's death, and accepted as their sovereign by the Lords of the Council. But the temper of the whole people rebelled against so lawless a usurpation. The eastern counties rose as one man to support Mary; and when Northumberland marched 4-071]from London with ten thousand at his back to crush the rising, the Londoners, Protestant as they were, showed their ill-will by a stubborn silence. "The people crowd to look upon us," the Duke noted gloomily, "but not one calls 'God speed ye.'" While he halted for reinforcements his own colleagues struck him down. Eager to throw from their necks the yoke of a rival who had made himself a master, the Council no sooner saw the popular reaction than they proclaimed Mary Queen; and this step was at once followed by a declaration of the fleet in her favour, and by the announcement of the levies in every shire that they would only fight in her cause. As the tidings reached him the Duke's courage suddenly gave way. His retreat to Cambridge was the signal for a general defection. Northumberland himself threw his cap into the air and shouted with his men for Queen Mary. But his submission failed to avert his doom; and the death of the Duke drew with it the imprisonment in the Tower of the hapless girl whom he had made the tool of his ambition.
Mary and the Monarchy.
The triumph of Mary was a fatal blow at the system of despotism which Henry the Eighth had established. It was a system that rested not so much on the actual strength possessed by the Crown as on the absence of any effective forces of resistance. At Henry's death the one force of opposition which had developed itself was that of the Protestants, but whether in numbers or political weight the Protestants were as yet of small consequence, and their resistance did little to break the general drift of both nation and king. For great as were the changes which Henry had wrought in the severance of England from the Papacy and the establishment of the ecclesiastical supremacy of the Crown, they were wrought with fair assent from the people at large; and when once the discontent roused by Cromwell's violence had been appeased by his fall England as a whole 4-073]acquiesced in the conservative system of the king. This national union however was broken by the Protectorate. At the moment when it had reached its height the royal authority was seized by a knot of nobles and recklessly used to further the revolutionary projects of a small minority of the people. From the hour of this revolution a new impulse was given to resistance. The older nobility, the bulk of the gentry, the wealthier merchants, the great mass of the people, found themselves thrown by the very instinct of conservatism into opposition to the Crown. It was only by foreign hirelings that revolt was suppressed; it was only by a reckless abuse of the system of packing the Houses that Parliament could be held in check. At last the Government ventured on an open defiance of law; and a statute of the realm was set aside at the imperious bidding of a boy of fifteen. Master of the royal forces, wielding at his will the royal authority, Northumberland used the voice of the dying Edward to set aside rights of succession as sacred as his own. But the attempt proved an utter failure. The very forces on which the Duke relied turned against him. The whole nation fronted him in arms. The sovereign whom the voice of the young king named as his successor passed from the throne to the Tower, and a sovereign whose title rested on parliamentary statute took her place.
The religious reaction.
At the opening of August Mary entered London in triumph. Short and thin in figure, with a face drawn and colourless that told of constant ill-health, there was little in the outer seeming of the new queen to recall her father; but her hard, bright eyes, her manlike voice, her fearlessness and self-will, told of her Tudor blood, as her skill in music, her knowledge of languages, her love of learning, spoke of the culture and refinement of Henry's Court. Though Mary was thirty-seven years old, the strict retirement in which she had lived had left her as ignorant of the actual temper of England as England was ignorant of her own. She had founded her resistance to the changes of the Protectorate on a resolve to adhere to her father's system till her brother came of age to rule, and England believed her to be longing like itself simply for a restoration of what Henry had left. The belief was confirmed by her earlier actions. The changes of the Protectorate were treated as null and void. Gardiner, Henry's minister, was drawn from the Tower to take the lead as Chancellor at the Queen's Council-board. Bonner and the deposed bishops were restored to their sees. Ridley with the others who had displaced them was again expelled. Latimer, as a representative of the extreme Protestants, was sent to the Tower; and the foreign refugees, as anti-sacramentarians, were ordered to leave England. On an indignant 4-075]protest from Cranmer against reports that he was ready to abandon the new reforms the Archbishop was sent for his seditious demeanour to the Tower, and soon put on his trial for treason with Lady Jane Grey, her husband, and two of his brothers. Each pleaded guilty; but no attempt was made to carry out the sentence of death. In all this England went with the Queen. The popular enthusiasm hardly waited in fact for the orders of the Government. The whole system which had been pursued during Edward's reign fell with a sudden crash. London indeed retained much of its Protestant sympathy, but over the rest of the country the tide of reaction swept without a check. The married priests were driven from their churches, the images were replaced. In many parishes the new Prayer Book was set aside and the mass restored. The Parliament which met in October annulled the laws made respecting religion during the past reign, and re-established the form of service as used in the last year of Henry the Eighth.
Up to this point the temper of England went fairly with that of the Queen. But there were from the first signs of a radical difference between the aim of Mary and that of her people. With the restoration of her father's system the nation as a whole was satisfied. Mary on the other hand looked on such a restoration simply as a step towards a complete revival of the system which 4-076]Henry had done away. Through long years of suffering and peril her fanaticism had been patiently brooding over the hope of restoring to England its older religion. She believed, as she said at a later time to the Parliament, that "she had been predestined and preserved by God to the succession of the Crown for no other end save that He might make use of her above all else in the bringing back of the realm to the Catholic faith." Her zeal however was checked by the fact that she stood almost alone in her aim, as well as by cautious advice from her cousin, the Emperor; and she assured the Londoners that "albeit her own conscience was stayed in matters of religion, yet she meant not to compel or strain men's consciences otherwise than God should, as she trusted, put in their hearts a persuasion of the truth that she was in, through the opening of his word unto them by godly, and virtuous, and learned preachers." She had in fact not ventured as yet to refuse the title of "Head of the Church next under God" or to disclaim the powers which the Act of Supremacy gave her; on the contrary she used these powers in the regulation of preaching as her father had used them. The strenuous resistance with which her proposal to set aside the new Prayer Book was met in Parliament warned her of the difficulties that awaited any projects of radical change. The proposal was carried, but only after a hot conflict which lasted over six 4-077]days and which left a third of the Lower House still opposed to it. Their opposition by no means implied approval of the whole series of religious changes of which the Prayer Book formed a part, for the more moderate Catholics were pleading at this time for prayers in the vulgar tongue, and on this question followers of More and Colet might have voted with the followers of Cranmer. But it showed how far men's minds were from any spirit of blind reaction or blind compliance with the royal will.
The Spanish Marriage.
The temper of the Parliament indeed was very different from that of the Houses which had knelt before Henry the Eighth. If it consented to repeal the enactment which rendered her mother's marriage invalid and to declare Mary "born in lawful matrimony," it secured the abolition of all the new treasons and felonies created in the two last reigns. The demand for their abolition showed that jealousy of the growth of civil tyranny had now spread from the minds of philosophers like More to the minds of common Englishmen. Still keener was the jealousy of any marked revolution in the religious system which Henry had established. The wish to return to the obedience of Rome lingered indeed among some of the clergy and in the northern shires. But elsewhere the system of a national Church was popular, and it was backed by the existence of a large and influential class who had been enriched by the abbey 4-078]lands. Forty thousand families had profited by the spoil, and watched anxiously any approach of danger to their new possessions, such as submission to the Papacy was likely to bring about. On such a submission however Mary was resolved: and it was to gain strength for such a step that she determined to seek a husband from her mother's house. The policy of Ferdinand of Aragon, so long held at bay by adverse fortune, was now to find its complete fulfilment. To one line of the house of Austria, that of Charles the Fifth, had fallen not only the Imperial Crown but the great heritage of Burgundy, Aragon, Naples, Castille, and the Castillian dependencies in the New World. To a second, that of the Emperor's brother Ferdinand, had fallen the Austrian duchies, Bohemia and Hungary. The marriage of Catharine was now, as it seemed, to bear its fruits by the union of Mary with a son of Charles, and the placing a third Austrian line upon the throne of England. The gigantic scheme of bringing all western Europe together under the rule of a single family seemed at last to draw to its realization.
Its political grounds.
It was no doubt from political as well as religious motives that Mary set her heart on this union. Her rejection of Gardiner's proposal that she should marry the young Courtenay, Earl of Devon, a son of the Marquis of Exeter whom Henry had beheaded, the resolve which she expressed to wed "no subject, no Englishman," was 4-079]founded in part on the danger to her throne from the pretensions of Mary Stuart, whose adherents cared little for the exclusion of the Scotch line from the succession by Henry's will and already alleged the illegitimate births of both Mary Tudor and Elizabeth through the annulling of their mothers' marriages as a ground for denying their right to the throne. Such claims became doubly formidable through the marriage of Mary Stuart with the heir of the French Crown, and the virtual union of both Scotland and France in this claimant's hands. It was only to Charles that the Queen could look for aid against such a pressure as this, and Charles was forced to give her aid. His old dreams of a mastery of the world had faded away before the stern realities of the Peace of Passau and his repulse from the walls of Metz. His hold over the Empire was broken. France was more formidable than ever. To crown his difficulties the growth of heresy and of the spirit of independence in the Netherlands threatened to rob him of the finest part of the Burgundian heritage. With Mary Stuart once on the English throne, and the great island of the west knit to the French monarchy, the balance of power would be utterly overthrown, the Low Countries lost, and the Imperial Crown, as it could hardly be doubted, reft from the house of Austria. He was quick therefore to welcome the Queen's advances, and to offer his son Philip, who though not yet 4-080]twenty-six was already a widower, as a candidate for her hand.
Opposition of Parliament.
The offer came weighted with a heavy bribe. The keen foresight of the Emperor already saw the difficulty of holding the Netherlands in union with the Spanish monarchy; and while Spain, Naples, and Franche Comté descended to Philip's eldest son, Charles promised the heritage of the Low Countries with England to the issue of Philip and Mary. He accepted too the demand of Gardiner and the Council that in the event of such a union England should preserve complete independence both of policy and action. In any case the marriage would save England from the grasp of France, and restore it, as the Emperor hinted, to the obedience of the Church. But the project was hardly declared when it was met by an outburst of popular indignation. Gardiner himself was against a union that would annul the national independence which had till now been the aim of Tudor policy, and that would drag England helplessly in the wake of the House of Austria. The mass of conservative Englishmen shrank from the religious aspects of the marriage. For the Emperor had now ceased to be an object of hope or confidence as a mediator who would at once purify the Church from abuses, and restore the unity of Christendom; he had ranged himself definitely on the side of the Papacy and of the Council of Trent; and the cruelties of the Inquisition which he had introduced into 4-081]Flanders gave a terrible indication of the bigotry which he was to bequeath to his House. The marriage with Philip meant, it could hardly be doubted, a submission to the Papacy, and an undoing not only of the religious changes of Edward but of the whole system of Henry. Loyal and conservative as was the temper of the Parliament, it was at one in its opposition to a Spanish marriage and in the request which it made through a deputation of its members to the Queen that she would marry an Englishman. The request was a new step forward on the part of the Houses to the recovery of their older rights. Already called by Cromwell's policy to more than their old power in ecclesiastical matters, their dread of revolutionary change pushed them to an intervention in matters of state. Mary noted the advance with all a Tudor's jealousy. She interrupted the speaker; she rebuked the Parliament for taking too much on itself; she declared she would take counsel on such a matter "with God and with none other." But the remonstrance had been made, the interference was to serve as a precedent in the reign to come, and a fresh proof had been given that Parliament was no longer the slavish tool of the Crown.
But while the nation grumbled and the Parliament remonstrated, one party in the realm was filled with absolute panic by the news of the Spanish match. The Protestants saw in the 4-082]marriage not only the final overthrow of their religious hopes, but a close of the religious truce, and an opening of persecution. The general opposition to the match, with the dread of the holders of Church lands that their possessions were in danger, encouraged the more violent to plan a rising; and France, naturally jealous of an increase of power by its great opponent, promised to support them by an incursion from Scotland and an attack on Calais. The real aim of the rebellion was, no doubt, the displacement of Mary, and the setting either of Jane Grey, or, as the bulk of the Protestants desired, of Elizabeth, on the throne. But these hopes were cautiously hidden; and the conspirators declared their aim to be that of freeing the Queen from evil counsellors, and of preventing her union with the Prince of Spain. The plan combined three simultaneous outbreaks of revolt. Sir Peter Carew engaged to raise the west, the Duke of Suffolk to call the midland counties to arms, while Sir Thomas Wyatt led the Kentishmen on London. The rising was planned for the spring of 1554. But the vigilance of the Government drove it to a premature explosion in January, and baffled it in the centre and the west. Carew fled to France; Suffolk, who appeared in arms at Leicester, found small response from the people, and was soon sent prisoner to the Tower. The Kentish rising however proved a more formidable danger. A cry that the Spaniards were coming 4-083]"to conquer the realm" drew thousands to Wyatt's standard. The ships in the Thames submitted to be seized by the insurgents. A party of the train-bands of London, who marched with the royal guard under the old Duke of Norfolk against them, deserted to the rebels in a mass with shouts of "A Wyatt! a Wyatt! we are all Englishmen!"
Had the Kentishmen moved quickly on the capital, its gates would have been flung open and success would have been assured. But at the critical moment Mary was saved by her queenly courage. Riding boldly to the Guildhall she appealed with "a man's voice" to the loyalty of the citizens, and denounced the declaration of Wyatt's followers as "a Spanish cloak to cover their purpose against our religion." She pledged herself, "on the word of a Queen, that if it shall not probably appear to all the nobility and commons in the high court of Parliament that this marriage shall be for the high benefit and commodity of all the whole realm, then will I abstain from marriage while I live." The pledge was a momentous one, for it owned the very claim of the two Houses which the Queen had till now haughtily rejected; and with the remonstrance of the Parliament still fresh in their ears the Londoners may well have believed that the marriage-project would come quietly to an end. The dread too of any change in religion by the return of the violent Protestantism of Edward's day could hardly fail to win Mary 4-084]support among the citizens. The mayor answered for their loyalty, and when Wyatt appeared on the Southwark bank the bridge was secured against him. But the rebel leader knew that the issue of the revolt hung on the question which side London would take, and that a large part of the Londoners favoured his cause. Marching therefore up the Thames he seized a bridge at Kingston, threw his force across the river, and turned rapidly back on the capital. But a night march along miry roads wearied and disorganized his men; the bulk of them were cut off from their leader by a royal force which had gathered in the fields at what is now Hyde Park Corner, and only Wyatt himself with a handful of followers pushed desperately on past the palace of St. James, whence the Queen refused to fly even while the rebels were marching beneath its walls, along the Strand to Ludgate. "I have kept touch," he cried as he sank exhausted at the gate. But it was closed: his adherents within were powerless to effect their promised diversion in his favour; and as he fell back the daring leader was surrounded at Temple Bar and sent to the Tower.
The failure of the revolt was fatal to the girl whom part at least of the rebels would have placed on the throne. Lady Jane Grey, who had till now been spared and treated with great leniency, was sent to the block; and her father, her husband, and her uncle, atoned for the ambition of the 4-085]House of Suffolk by the death of traitors. Wyatt and his chief adherents followed them to execution, while the bodies of the poorer insurgents were dangling on gibbets round London. Elizabeth, who had with some reason been suspected of complicity in the insurrection, was sent to the Tower; and only saved from death by the interposition of the Council. The leading Protestants fled in terror over sea. But the failure of the revolt did more than crush the Protestant party; it enabled the Queen to lay aside the mask of moderation which had been forced on her by the earlier difficulties of her reign. An order for the expulsion of all married clergy from their cures, with the deprivation of nine bishops who had been appointed during the Protectorate and who represented its religious tendencies, proved the Queen's resolve to enter boldly on a course of reaction. Her victory secured the Spanish marriage. It was to prevent Philip's union with Mary that Wyatt had risen, and with his overthrow the Queen's policy stood triumphant. The whole strength of the conservative opposition was lost when opposition could be branded as disloyalty. Mary too was true to the pledge she had given that the match should only be brought about with the assent of Parliament. But pressure was unscrupulously used to secure compliant members in the new elections, and a reluctant assent to the marriage was wrung from the Houses when they assembled in the spring. 4-086]Philip was created king of Naples by his father to give dignity to his union; and in the following July Mary met him at Winchester and became his wife.
As he entered London with the Queen, men noted curiously the look of the young king whose fortunes were to be so closely linked with those of England for fifty years to come. Far younger than his bride, for he was but twenty-six, there was little of youth in the small and fragile frame, the sickly face, the sedentary habits, the Spanish silence and reserve, which estranged Englishmen from Philip as they had already estranged his subjects in Italy and his future subjects in the Netherlands. Here however he sought by an unusual pleasantness of demeanour as well as by profuse distributions of gifts to win the national goodwill, for it was only by winning it that he could accomplish the work he came to do. His first aim was to reconcile England with the Church. The new Spanish marriage was to repair the harm which the earlier Spanish marriage had brought about by securing that submission to Rome on which Mary was resolved. Even before Philip's landing in England the great obstacle to reunion had been removed by the consent of Julius the Third under pressure from the Emperor to waive the restoration of the Church lands in the event of England's return to obedience. Other and almost as great obstacles indeed seemed to remain. The 4-087]temper of the nation had gone with Henry in his rejection of the Papal jurisdiction. Mary's counsellors had been foremost among the men who advocated the change. Her minister, Bishop Gardiner, seemed pledged to oppose any submission to Rome. As secretary of state after Wolsey's fall he had taken a prominent part in the measures which brought about a severance between England and the Papacy; as Bishop of Winchester he had written a famous tract "On True Obedience" in which the Papal supremacy had been expressly repudiated; and to the end of Henry's days he had been looked upon as the leading advocate of the system of a national and independent Church. Nor had his attitude changed in Edward's reign. In the process for his deprivation he avowed himself ready as ever to maintain as well "the supremacy and supreme authority of the king's majesty that now is as the abolishing of the usurped power of the Bishop of Rome."
The submission to Rome.
But with the later changes of the Protectorate Gardiner had seen his dream of a national yet orthodox Church vanish away. He had seen how inevitably severance from Rome drew with it a connexion with the Protestant Churches and a repudiation of Catholic belief. In the hours of imprisonment his mind fell back on the old ecclesiastical order with which the old spiritual order seemed inextricably entwined, and he was ready now to submit to the Papacy as the one means of 4-088]preserving the faith to which he clung. His attitude was of the highest significance, for Gardiner more than any one was a representative of the dominant English opinion of his day. As the moderate party which had supported the policy of Henry the Eighth saw its hopes disappear, it ranged itself, like the Bishop, on the side of a unity which could now only be brought about by reconciliation with Rome. The effort of the Protestants in Wyatt's insurrection to regain their power and revive the system of the Protectorate served only to give a fresh impulse to this drift of conservative opinion. Mary therefore found little opposition to her plans. The peers were won over by Philip through the pensions he lavished among them, while pressure was unscrupulously used by the Council to secure a compliant House of Commons. When the Parliament met in November these measures were found to have been successful. The attainder of Reginald Pole, who had been appointed by the Pope to receive the submission of the realm, was reversed; and the Legate entered London by the river with his cross gleaming from the prow of his barge. He was solemnly welcomed in full Parliament. The two Houses decided by a formal vote to return to the obedience of the Papal See; on the assurance of Pole in the Pope's name that holders of Church lands should not be disturbed in their possession the statutes abolishing Papal jurisdiction in England 4-089]were repealed; and Lords and Commons received on their knees an absolution which freed the realm from the guilt incurred by its schism and heresy.
But, even in the hour of her triumph, the temper both of Parliament and the nation warned the Queen of the failure of her hope to bind England to a purely Catholic policy. The growing independence of the two Houses was seen in the impossibility of procuring from them any change in the order of succession. The victory of Rome was incomplete so long as its right of dispensation was implicitly denied by a recognition of Elizabeth's legitimacy, and Mary longed to avenge her mother by humbling the child of Anne Boleyn. But in spite of Pole's efforts and the Queen's support a proposal to oust her sister from the line of succession could not even be submitted to the Houses, nor could their assent be won to the postponing the succession of Elizabeth to that of Philip. The temper of the nation at large was equally decided. In the first Parliament of Mary a proposal to renew the laws against heresy had been thrown out by the Lords, even after the failure of Wyatt's insurrection. Philip's influence secured the re-enactment of the statute of Henry the Fourth in the Parliament which followed his arrival; but the sullen discontent of London compelled its Bishop, Bonner, to withdraw a series of articles of enquiry, by which he hoped to purge his diocese of heresy, and even the Council was 4-090]divided on the question of persecution. In the very interests of Catholicism the Emperor himself counselled prudence and delay. Philip gave the same counsel. From the moment of his arrival the young king exercised a powerful influence over the Government, and he was gradually drawing into his hands the whole direction of affairs. But, bigot as he was in matters of faith, Philip's temper was that of a statesman, not of a fanatic. If he came to England resolute to win the country to union with the Church, his conciliatory policy was already seen in the concessions he wrested from the Papacy in the matter of the Church lands, and his aim was rather to hold England together and to give time for a reaction of opinion than to revive the old discord by any measures of severity. It was indeed only from a united and contented England that he could hope for effective aid in the struggle of his house with France, and in spite of his pledges Philip's one aim in marrying Mary was to secure that aid.
But whether from without or from within warning was wasted on the fierce bigotry of the Queen. It was, as Gardiner asserted, not at the counsel of her ministers but by her own personal will that the laws against heresy had been laid before Parliament; and now that they were enacted Mary pressed for their execution. Her resolve was probably quickened by the action of the Protestant zealots. The failure of Wyatt's revolt 4-091]was far from taming the enthusiasm of the wilder reformers. The restoration of the old worship was followed by outbreaks of bold defiance. A tailor of St. Giles in the Fields shaved a dog with the priestly tonsure. A cat was found hanging in the Cheap "with her head shorn, and the likeness of a vestment cast over her, with her forefeet tied together and a round piece of paper like a singing cake between them." Yet more galling were the ballads which were circulated in mockery of the mass, the pamphlets which came from the exiles over sea, the seditious broadsides dropped in the streets, the interludes in which the most sacred acts of the old religion were flouted with ribald mockery. All this defiance only served to quicken afresh the purpose of the Queen. But it was not till the opening of 1555, when she had already been a year and a half on the throne, that the opposition of her councillors was at last mastered and the persecution began. In February the deprived bishop of Gloucester, Hooper, was burned in his cathedral city, a London vicar, Lawrence Saunders, at Coventry, and Rogers, a prebendary of St. Paul's, at London. Ferrar, the deprived bishop of St. David's, who was burned at Caermarthen, was one of eight victims who suffered in March. Four followed in April and May, six in June, eleven in July, eighteen in August, eleven in September. In October Ridley, the deprived bishop of London, was drawn with 4-092]Latimer from their prison at Oxford. "Play the man, Master Ridley!" cried the old preacher of the Reformation as the flames shot up around him; "we shall this day light up such a candle by God's grace in England as I trust shall never be put out."
If the Protestants had not known how to govern, indeed, they knew how to die; and the cause which prosperity had ruined revived in the dark hour of persecution. The memory of their violence and greed faded away as they passed unwavering to their doom. Such a story as that of Rowland Taylor, the Vicar of Hadleigh, tells us more of the work which was now begun, and of the effect it was likely to produce, than pages of historic dissertation. Taylor, who as a man of mark had been one of the first victims chosen for execution, was arrested in London, and condemned to suffer in his own parish. His wife, "suspecting that her husband should that night be carried away," had waited through the darkness with her children in the porch of St. Botolph's beside Aldgate. "Now when the sheriff his company came against St. Botolph's Church Elizabeth cried, saying, 'O my dear father! Mother! mother! here is my father led away!' Then cried his wife, 'Rowland, Rowland, where art thou?'—for it was a very dark morning, that the one could not see the other. Dr. Taylor answered, 'I am here, dear wife,' and stayed. The sheriff's men would have led him 4-093]forth, but the sheriff said, 'Stay a little, masters, I pray you, and let him speak to his wife.' Then came she to him, and he took his daughter Mary in his arms, and he and his wife and Elizabeth knelt down and said the Lord's prayer. At which sight the sheriff wept apace, and so did divers others of the company. After they had prayed he rose up and kissed his wife and shook her by the hand, and said, 'Farewell, my dear wife, be of good comfort, for I am quiet in my conscience! God shall still be a father to my children.'. . . Then said his wife, 'God be with thee, dear Rowland! I will, with God's grace, meet thee at Hadleigh.'
"All the way Dr. Taylor was merry and cheerful as one that accounted himself going to a most pleasant banquet or bridal. . . . Coming within two miles of Hadleigh he desired to light off his horse, which done he leaped and set a frisk or twain as men commonly do for dancing. 'Why, master Doctor,' quoth the Sheriff, 'how do you now?' He answered, 'Well, God be praised, Master Sheriff, never better; for now I know I am almost at home. I lack not past two stiles to go over, and I am even at my Father's house!'. . . The streets of Hadleigh were beset on both sides with men and women of the town and country who waited to see him; whom when they beheld so led to death, with weeping eyes and lamentable voices, they cried, 'Ah, good Lord! 4-094]there goeth our good shepherd from us!'" The journey was at last over. "'What place is this,' he asked, 'and what meaneth it that so much people are gathered together?' It was answered, 'It is Oldham Common, the place where you must suffer, and the people are come to look upon you.' Then said he, 'Thanked be God, I am even at home!'. . . But when the people saw his reverend and ancient face, with a long white beard, they burst out with weeping tears and cried, saying, 'God save thee, good Dr. Taylor; God strengthen thee and help thee; the Holy Ghost comfort thee!' He wished, but was not suffered, to speak. When he had prayed, he went to the stake and kissed it, and set himself into a pitch-barrel which they had set for him to stand on, and so stood with his back upright against the stake, with his hands folded together and his eyes towards heaven, and so let himself be burned." One of the executioners "cruelly cast a fagot at him, which hit upon his head and brake his face that the blood ran down his visage. Then said Dr. Taylor, 'O friend, I have harm enough—what needed that?'" One more act of brutality brought his sufferings to an end. "So stood he still without either crying or moving, with his hands folded together, till Soyce with a halberd struck him on the head that the brains fell out, and the dead corpse fell down into the fire."
The area of the Martyrdoms.
The terror of death was powerless against men 4-095]like these. Bonner, the Bishop of London, to whom, as bishop of the diocese in which the Council sate, its victims were generally delivered for execution, but who, in spite of the nickname and hatred which his official prominence in the work of death earned him, seems to have been naturally a good-humoured and merciful man, asked a youth who was brought before him whether he thought he could bear the fire. The boy at once held his hand without flinching in the flame of a candle that stood by. Rogers, a fellow-worker with Tyndale in the translation of the Bible, and one of the foremost among the Protestant preachers, died bathing his hands in the flame "as if it had been in cold water." Even the commonest lives gleamed for a moment into poetry at the stake. "Pray for me," a boy, William Brown, who had been brought home to Brentwood to suffer, asked of the bystanders. "I will pray no more for thee," one of them replied, "than I will pray for a dog." "'Then,' said William, 'Son of God, shine upon me'; and immediately the sun in the elements shone out of a dark cloud so full in his face that he was constrained to look another way; whereat the people mused because it was so dark a little time before." Brentwood lay within a district on which the hand of the Queen fell heavier than elsewhere. The persecution was mainly confined to the more active and populous parts of the 4-096]country, to London, Kent, Sussex, and the Eastern Counties. Of the two hundred and eighty whom we know to have suffered during the last three years and a half of Mary's reign more than forty were burned in London, seventeen in the neighbouring village of Stratford-le-Bow, four in Islington, two in Southwark, and one each at Barnet, St. Albans, and Ware. Kent, at that time a home of mining and manufacturing industry, suffered as heavily as London. Of its sixty martyrs more than forty were furnished by Canterbury, which was then but a city of some few thousand inhabitants, and seven by Maidstone. The remaining eight suffered at Rochester, Ashford, and Dartford. Of the twenty-five who died in Sussex the little town of Lewes sent seventeen to the fire. Seventy were contributed by the Eastern Counties, the seat of the woollen manufacture. Beyond these districts executions were rare. Westward of Sussex we find the record of but a dozen martyrdoms, six of which were at Bristol, and four at Salisbury. Chester and Wales contributed but four sufferers to the list. In the Midland Counties between Thames and the Humber only twenty-four suffered martyrdom. North of the Humber we find the names of but two Yorkshiremen burned at Bedale.
Failure of the persecution.
But heavily as the martyrdoms fell on the district within which they were practically confined, and where as we may conclude 4-097]Protestantism was more dominant than elsewhere, the work of terror failed in the very ends for which it was wrought. The old spirit of insolent defiance, of outrageous violence, rose into fresh life at the challenge of persecution. A Protestant hung a string of puddings round a priest's neck in derision of his beads. The restored images were grossly insulted. The old scurrilous ballads against the mass and relics were heard in the streets. Men were goaded to sheer madness by the bloodshed and violence about them. One miserable wretch, driven to frenzy, stabbed the priest of St. Margaret's as he stood with the chalice in his hand. It was a more formidable sign of the times that acts of violence such as these no longer stirred the people at large to their former resentment. The horror of the persecution swept away all other feelings. Every death at the stake won hundreds to the cause for which the victims died. "You have lost the hearts of twenty thousands that were rank Papists within these twelve months," a Protestant wrote triumphantly to Bonner. Bonner indeed, who had never been a very zealous persecutor, was sick of his work; and the energy of the bishops soon relaxed. But Mary had no thought of hesitation in the course she had entered on, and though the Imperial ambassador noted the rapid growth of public discontent "rattling letters" from the council pressed the lagging prelates to fresh activity. 4-098]Yet the persecution had hardly begun before difficulties were thickening round the Queen. In her passionate longing for an heir who would carry on her religious work Mary had believed herself to be with child; but in the summer of 1555 all hopes of any childbirth passed away, and the overthrow of his projects for the permanent acquisition of England to the House of Austria at once disenchanted Philip with his stay in the realm. But even had all gone well it was impossible for the king to remain longer in England. He was needed in the Netherlands to play his part in the memorable act which was to close the Emperor's political life. Already King of Naples and Lord of Milan, Philip received by his father's solemn resignation on the twenty-fifth of October the Burgundian heritage; and a month later Charles ceded to him the crowns of Castille and Aragon with their dependencies in the New World and in the Old. The Empire indeed passed to his uncle Ferdinand of Austria; but with this exception the whole of his father's vast dominions lay now in the grasp of Philip. Of the realms which he ruled, England was but one and far from the greatest one, and even had he wished to return his continued stay there became impossible.
The Catholic revival.
He was forced to leave the direction of affairs to Cardinal Pole, who on the death of Gardiner in November 1555 took the chief place in Council. 4-099]At once Papal Legate and chief minister of the Crown, Pole carried on that union of the civil and ecclesiastical authority which had been first seen in Wolsey and had formed the groundwork of the system of Cromwell. But he found himself hampered by difficulties which even the ability of Cromwell or Wolsey could hardly have met. The embassy which carried to Rome the submission of the realm found a fresh Pope, Paul the Fourth, on the throne. His accession marked the opening of a new era in the history of the Papacy. Till now the fortunes of Catholicism had been steadily sinking to a lower ebb. With the Peace of Passau the Empire seemed lost to it. The new Protestant faith stood triumphant in the north of Germany, and it was already advancing to the conquest of the south. The nobles of Austria were forsaking the older religion. A Venetian ambassador estimated the German Catholics at little more than a tenth of the whole population of Germany. Eastward the nobles of Hungary and Poland became Protestants in a mass. In the west France was yielding more and more to heresy, and England had hardly been rescued from it by Mary's accession. Only where the dead hand of Spain lay heavy, in Castille, in Aragon, or in Italy, was the Reformation thoroughly crushed out; and even the dead hand of Spain failed to crush heresy in the Low Countries. But at the moment when ruin seemed certain the 4-100]older faith rallied to a new resistance. While Protestantism was degraded and weakened by the prostitution of the Reformation to political ends, by the greed and worthlessness of the German princes who espoused its cause, by the factious lawlessness of the nobles in Poland and the Huguenots in France, while it wasted its strength in theological controversies and persecutions, in the bitter and venomous discussions between the Churches which followed Luther and the Churches which followed Zwingli or Calvin, the great communion which it assailed felt at last the uses of adversity. The Catholic world rallied round the Council of Trent. In the very face of heresy the Catholic faith was anew settled and defined. The Papacy was owned afresh as the centre of Catholic union. The enthusiasm of the Protestants was met by a counter-enthusiasm among their opponents. New religious orders rose to meet the wants of the day; the Capuchins became the preachers of Catholicism, the Jesuits became not only its preachers but its directors, its schoolmasters, its missionaries, its diplomatists. Their organization, their blind obedience, their real ability, their fanatical zeal, galvanized the pulpit, the school, the confessional, into a new life.
Paul the Fourth.
It was this movement, this rally of Catholicism, which now placed its representative on the Papal throne. At the moment when Luther was first opening his attack on the Papacy Giovanni Caraffa 4-101]had laid down his sees of Chieti and Brindisi to found the order of Theatines in a little house on the Pincian Hill. His aim was the reformation of the clergy, but the impulse which he gave told on the growing fervour of the Catholic world, and its issue was seen in the institution of the Capuchins and the Jesuits. Created Cardinal by Paul the Third, he found himself face to face with the more liberal theologians who were longing for a reconciliation between Lutheranism and the Papacy, such as Contarini and Pole, but his violent orthodoxy foiled their efforts in the conference at Ratisbon, and prevailed on the Pope to trust to the sterner methods of the Inquisition. As Caraffa wielded its powers, the Inquisition spread terror throughout Italy. At due intervals groups of heretics were burned before the Dominican Church at Rome; scholars like Peter Martyr were driven over sea; and the publication of an index of prohibited books gave a death-blow to Italian literature. On the verge of eighty the stern Inquisitor became Pope as Paul the Fourth. His conception of the Papal power was as high as that of Hildebrand or Innocent the Third, and he flung contemptuously aside the system of compromise which his predecessor had been brought to adopt by the caution of the Emperor. "Charles," he said, was a "favourer of heretics," and he laid to his charge the prosperity of Lutheranism in the Empire. That England should make terms for 4-102]its return to obedience galled his pride, while his fanaticism would hear of no surrender of the property of the Church. Philip, who had wrested the concession from Julius the Third, had no influence over a Pope who hoped to drive the Spaniards from Italy, and Pole was suspected by Paul of a leaning to heresy.
England and the Papacy.
The English ambassadors found therefore a rough greeting when the terms of the submission were laid before the Pope. Paul utterly repudiated the agreement which had been entered into between the Legate and the Parliament; he demanded the restoration of every acre of Church property; and he annulled all alienation of it by a general bull. His attitude undid all that Mary had done. In spite of the pompous reconciliation in which the Houses had knelt at the feet of Pole, England was still unreconciled to the Papacy, for the country and the Pope were at issue on a matter where concession was now impossible on either side. The Queen's own heart went with the Pope's demand. But the first step on which she ventured towards a compliance with it showed the difficulties she would have to meet. The grant of the first-fruits to Henry the Eighth had undoubtedly rested on his claim of supremacy over the Church; and now that this was at an end Mary had grounds for proposing their restoration to church purposes. But the proposal was looked on as a step towards the resumption of the 4-103]monastic lands, and after a hot and prolonged debate at the close of 1555 the Commons only assented to it by a small majority. It was plain that no hearing would be given to the Pope's demand for a restoration of all Church property; great lords were heard to threaten that they would keep their lands so long as they had a sword by their side; and England was thus left at hopeless variance with the Papacy.
But, difficult as Mary's task became, she clung as tenaciously as ever to her work of blood. The martyrdoms went steadily on, and at the opening of 1556 the sanction of Rome enabled the Queen to deal with a victim whose death woke all England to the reality of the persecution. Far as he stood in character beneath many who had gone before him to the stake, Cranmer stood high above all in his ecclesiastical position. To burn the Primate of the English Church for heresy was to shut out meaner victims from all hope of escape. And on the position of Cranmer none cast a doubt. The other prelates who had suffered had been placed in their sees after the separation from Rome, and were hardly regarded as bishops by their opponents. But, whatever had been his part in the schism, Cranmer had received his Pallium from the Pope. He was, in the eyes of all, Archbishop of Canterbury, the successor of St. Augustine and of St. Thomas in the second see of Western Christendom. Revenge however 4-104]and religious zeal alike urged the Queen to bring Cranmer to the stake. First among the many decisions in which the Archbishop had prostituted justice to Henry's will stood that by which he had annulled the king's marriage with Catharine and declared Mary a bastard. The last of his political acts had been to join, whether reluctantly or no, in the shameless plot to exclude Mary from the throne. His great position too made Cranmer more than any man a representative of the religious revolution which had passed over the land. His figure stood with those of Henry and of Cromwell on the frontispiece of the English Bible. The decisive change which had been given to the character of the Reformation under Edward was due wholly to Cranmer. It was his voice that men heard and still hear in the accents of the English Liturgy.
As an Archbishop, Cranmer's judgment rested with no meaner tribunal than that of Rome, and his execution had been necessarily delayed till its sentence could be given. It was not till the opening of 1556 that the Papal see convicted him of heresy. As a heretic he was now condemned to suffer at the stake. But the courage which Cranmer had shown since the accession of Mary gave way the moment his final doom was announced. The moral cowardice which had displayed itself in his miserable compliance with the lust and despotism of Henry displayed itself again in six 4-105]successive recantations by which he hoped to purchase pardon. But pardon was impossible; and Cranmer's strangely mingled nature found a power in its very weakness when he was brought into the church of St. Mary at Oxford on the twenty-first of March to repeat his recantation on the way to the stake. "Now," ended his address to the hushed congregation before him, "now I come to the great thing that troubleth my conscience more than any other thing that ever I said or did in my life, and that is the setting abroad of writings contrary to the truth; which here I now renounce and refuse as things written by my hand contrary to the truth which I thought in my heart, and written for fear of death to save my life, if it might be. And, forasmuch as my hand offended in writing contrary to my heart, my hand therefore shall be the first punished; for if I come to the fire, it shall be the first burned." "This was the hand that wrote it," he again exclaimed at the stake, "therefore it shall suffer first punishment"; and holding it steadily in the flame "he never stirred nor cried" till life was gone.
War with France.
It was with the unerring instinct of a popular movement that, among a crowd of far more heroic sufferers, the Protestants fixed, in spite of his recantations, on the martyrdom of Cranmer as the death-blow to Catholicism in England. For one man who felt within him the joy of Rowland Taylor at the prospect of the stake, there were 4-106]thousands who felt the shuddering dread of Cranmer. The triumphant cry of Latimer could reach only hearts as bold as his own, while the sad pathos of the Primate's humiliation and repentance struck chords of sympathy and pity in the hearts of all. It is from that moment that we may trace the bitter remembrance of the blood shed in the cause of Rome; which, however partial and unjust it must seem to an historic observer, still lies graven deep in the temper of the English people. But the Queen struggled desperately on. She did what was possible to satisfy the unyielding Pope. In the face of the Parliament's significant reluctance even to restore the first-fruits to the Church, she refounded all she could of the abbeys which had been suppressed. One of the greatest of these, the Abbey of Westminster, was re-established before the close of 1556, and John Feckenham installed as its abbot. Such a step could hardly fail to wake the old jealousy of any attempt to reclaim the Church lands, and thus to alienate the nobles and gentry from the Queen. They were soon to be alienated yet more by her breach of the solemn covenant on which her marriage was based. Even the most reckless of her counsellors felt the unwisdom of aiding Philip in his strife with France. The accession of England to the vast dominion which the Emperor had ceded to his son in 1555 all but realized the plans of Ferdinand the Catholic for making the house of Austria master of Western 4-107]Christendom. France was its one effective foe; and the overthrow of France in the war which was going on between the two powers would leave Philip without a check. How keenly this was felt at the English council-board was seen in the resistance which was made to Philip's effort to drag his new realm into the war. Such an effort was in itself a crowning breach of faith, for the king's marriage had been accompanied by a solemn pledge that England should not be drawn into the strifes of Spain. But Philip knew little of good faith when his interest was at stake. The English fleet would give him the mastery of the seas, English soldiers would turn the scale in Flanders, and at the opening of 1557 the king again crossed the Channel and spent three months in pressing his cause on Mary and her advisers.
Loss of Calais.
"He did more," says a Spanish writer of the time, "than any one would have believed possible with that proud and indomitable nation." What he was most aided by was provocation from France. A body of refugees who had found shelter there landed in Yorkshire in the spring; and their leader, Thomas Stafford, a grandson of the late Duke of Buckingham, called the people to rise against the tyranny of foreigners and "the satanic designs of an unlawful Queen." The French king hoped that a rising would give the Queen work at home; but the revolt was easily crushed, and the insult enabled Mary to override her counsellors' 4-108]reluctance and to declare war against France. The war opened with triumphs both on land and at sea. The junction of the English fleet made Philip master of the Channel. Eight thousand men, "all clad in their green," were sent to Flanders under Lord Pembroke, and joined Philip's forces in August in time to take part in the great victory of St. Quentin. In October the little army returned home in triumph, but the gleam of success vanished suddenly away. In the autumn of 1557 the English ships were defeated in an attack on the Orkneys. In January 1558 the Duke of Guise flung himself with characteristic secrecy and energy upon Calais and compelled it to surrender before succour could arrive. "The chief jewel of the realm," as Mary herself called it, was suddenly reft away; and the surrender of Guisnes, which soon followed, left England without a foot of land on the Continent.
Mary and Ireland.
Bitterly as the blow was felt, the Council, though passionately pressed by the Queen, could find neither money nor men for any attempt to recover the town. The war indeed went steadily for Spain and her allies; and Philip owed his victory at Gravelines in the summer of 1558 mainly to the opportune arrival of ten English ships of war which opened fire on the flank of the French army that lay open to the sea. But England could not be brought to take further part in the contest. The levies which were being raised mutinied and 4-109]dispersed. The forced loan to which Mary was driven to resort came in slowly. The treasury was drained not only by the opening of the war with France but by the opening of a fresh strife in Ireland. To the struggle of religion which had begun there under the Protectorate the accession of Mary had put an end. The shadowy form of the earlier Irish Protestantism melted quietly away. There were in fact no Protestants in Ireland save the new bishops; and when Bale had fled over sea from his diocese of Ossory and his fellow-prelates had been deprived the Irish Church resumed its old appearance. No attempt indeed was made to restore the monasteries; and Mary exercised her supremacy, deposed or appointed bishops, and repudiated Papal interference with her ecclesiastical acts as vigorously as her father. But the Mass was restored, the old modes of religious worship were again held in honour, and religious dissension between the Government and its Irish subjects came for the time to an end. With the close however of one danger came the rise of another. England was growing tired of the policy of conciliation which had been steadily pursued by Henry the Eighth and his successor. As yet it had been rewarded with precisely the sort of success which Wolsey and Cromwell anticipated. The chiefs had come quietly in to the plan, and their septs had followed them in submission to the new order. "The winning of the Earl of Desmond 4-110]was the winning of the rest of Munster with small charges. The making O'Brien an Earl made all that country obedient." The Macwilliam became Lord Clanrickard, and the Fitzpatricks Barons of Upper Ossory. A visit of the great northern chief who had accepted the title of Earl of Tyrone to the English Court was regarded as a marked step in the process of civilization.
The Irish War.
In the south, where the system of English law was slowly spreading, the chieftains sate on the bench side by side with the English justices of the peace; and something had been done to check the feuds and disorder of the wild tribes between Limerick and Tipperary. "Men may pass quietly throughout these countries without danger of robbery or other displeasure." In the Clanrickard county, once wasted with war, "ploughing increaseth daily." In Tyrone and the north however the old disorder reigned without a check; and everywhere the process of improvement tried the temper of the English Deputies by the slowness of its advance. The only hope of any real progress lay in patience; and there were signs that the Government at Dublin found it hard to wait. The "rough handling" of the chiefs by Sir Edward Bellingham, a Lord Deputy under the Protector Somerset, roused a spirit of revolt that only subsided when the poverty of the Exchequer forced him to withdraw the garrisons he had planted in the heart of the country. His successor in Mary's 4-111]reign, Lord Sussex, made raid after raid to no purpose on the obstinate tribes of the north, burning in one the Cathedral of Armagh and three other churches. A far more serious breach in the system of conciliation was made when the project of English colonization which Henry had steadily rejected was adopted by the same Lord Deputy, and when the country of the O'Connors was assigned to English settlers and made shire-land under the names of King's and Queen's Counties in honour of Philip and Mary. A savage warfare began at once between the planters and the dispossessed septs, a warfare which only ended in the following reign in the extermination of the Irishmen, and commissioners were appointed to survey waste lands with the aim of carrying the work of colonization into other districts. The pressure of the war against France put an end to these wider projects, but the strife in Meath went savagely on and proved a sore drain to the Exchequer.
Scotland and Protestantism.
Nor was Mary without difficulties in the North. Religiously as well as politically her reign told in a marked way on the fortunes of Scotland. If the Queen's policy failed to crush Protestantism in England, it gave a new impulse to it in the northern realm. In Scotland the wealth and worldliness of the great churchmen had long ago spread a taste for heresy among the people; and Lollardry survived as a power north of the border long after it had almost died out to the south of it. The impulse 4-112]of the Lutheran movement was seen in the diffusion of the new opinions by a few scholars, such as Wishart and Hamilton; but though Henry the Eighth pressed his nephew James the Fifth to follow him in the work he was doing in England, it was plain that the Scotch reformers could look for little favour from the Crown. The policy of the Scottish kings regarded the Church as their ally against the turbulent nobles, and James steadily held its enemies at bay. The Regent, Mary of Guise, clung to the same policy. But stoutly as the whole nation withstood the English efforts to acquire a political supremacy, the religious revolution in England told more and more on the Scotch nobles. No nobility was so poor as that of Scotland, and nowhere in Europe was the contrast between their poverty and the riches of the Church so great. Each step of the vast spoliation that went on south of the border, the confiscation of the lesser abbeys, the suppression of the greater, the secularization of chauntries and hospitals, woke a fresh greed in the baronage of the north. The new opinions soon found disciples among them. It was a group of Protestant nobles who surprised the Castle of St. Andrews and murdered Cardinal Beaton. The "Gospellers" from the Lowlands already formed a marked body in the army that fought at Pinkie Cleugh. As yet however the growth of the new opinions had been slow, and there had been till now little 4-113]public show of resistance to the religion of the State.
With the accession of Mary however all was changed. Under Henry and Edward the Catholicism of Scotland had profited by the national opposition to a Protestant England; but now that Catholicism was again triumphant in England Protestantism became far less odious to the Scotch statesmen. A still greater change was wrought by the marriage with Philip. Such a match, securing as it did to England the aid of Spain in any future aggression upon Scotland, became a danger to the northern realm which not only drew her closer to France but forced her to give shelter and support to the sectaries who promised to prove a check upon Mary. Many of the exiles therefore who left England for the sake of religion found a refuge in Scotland. Amongst these was John Knox. Knox had been one of the followers of Wishart; he had acted as pastor to the Protestants who after Beaton's murder held the Castle of St. Andrews, and had been captured with them by a French force in the summer of 1547. The Frenchmen sent the heretics to the galleys; and it was as a galley slave in one of their vessels that Knox next saw his native shores. As the vessel lay tossing in the bay of St. Andrews, a comrade bade him look to the land, and asked him if he knew it. "I know it well" was the answer; "for I see the steeple of that place where God first in public 4-114]opened my mouth to His glory; and I am fully persuaded, how weak that ever I now appear, I shall not depart this life till my tongue glorify His holy name in the same place!" It was long however before he could return. Released at the opening of 1549, Knox found shelter in England, where he became one of the most stirring among the preachers of the day, and was offered a bishoprick by Northumberland. Mary's accession drove him again to France. But the new policy of the Regent now opened Scotland to the English refugees, and it was as one of these that Knox returned in 1555 to his own country. Although he soon withdrew to take charge of the English congregation at Frankfort and Geneva his energy had already given a decisive impulse to the new movement. In a gathering at the house of Lord Erskine he persuaded the assembly to "refuse all society with idolatry, and bind themselves to the uttermost of their power to maintain the true preaching of the Evangile, as God should offer to their preachers an opportunity." The confederacy woke anew the jealousy of the government, and persecution revived. But some of the greatest nobles now joined the reforming cause. The Earl of Morton, the head of the house of Douglas, the Earl of Argyle, the greatest chieftain of the west, and above all a bastard son of the late king, Lord James Stuart, who bore as yet the title of prior of St. Andrews, but who was to be better known afterwards as the Earl 4-115]of Murray, placed themselves at the head of the movement. The remonstrances of Knox from his exile at Geneva stirred them to interfere in behalf of the persecuted Protestants; and at the close of 1557 these nobles united with the rest of the Protestant leaders in an engagement which became memorable as the first among those Covenants which were to give shape and colour to Scotch religion.
The First Covenant.
"We," ran this solemn bond, "perceiving how Satan in his members, the Antichrists of our time, cruelly doth rage, seeking to overthrow and to destroy the Evangel of Christ, and His Congregation, ought according to our bounden duty to strive in our Master's cause even unto the death, being certain of our victory in Him. The which our duty being well considered, we do promise before the Majesty of God and His Congregation that we, by His grace, shall with all diligence continually apply our whole power, substance, and our very lives to maintain, set forward, and establish the most blessed Word of God and His Congregation, and shall labour at our possibility to have faithful ministers, purely and truly to minister Christ's Evangel and sacraments to His people. We shall maintain them, nourish them, and defend them, the whole Congregation of Christ and every member thereof, at our whole power and wearing of our lives, against Satan and all wicked power that does intend tyranny or trouble against the 4-116]foresaid Congregation. Unto the which Holy Word and Congregation we do join us, and also do forsake and renounce the congregation of Satan with all the superstitious abomination and idolatry thereof: and moreover shall declare ourselves manifestly enemies thereto by this our faithful promise before God, testified to His Congregation by our subscription at these presents."
Scotland and Protestantism.
The Covenant of the Scotch nobles marked a new epoch in the strife of religions. Till now the reformers had opposed the doctrine of nationality to the doctrine of Catholicism. In the teeth of the pretensions which the Church advanced to a uniformity of religion in every land, whatever might be its differences of race or government, the first Protestants had advanced the principle that each prince or people had alone the right to determine its form of faith and worship. "Cujus regio" ran the famous phrase which embodied their theory, "ejus religio." It was the acknowledgement of this principle that the Lutheran princes obtained at the Diet of Spires; it was on this principle that Henry based his Act of Supremacy. Its strength lay in the correspondence of such a doctrine with the political circumstances of the time. It was the growing feeling of nationality which combined with the growing developement of monarchical power to establish the theory that the political and religious life of each nation should be one, and that the religion of the 4-117]people should follow the faith of the prince. Had Protestantism, as seemed at one time possible, secured the adhesion of all the European princes, such a theory might well have led everywhere as it led in England to the establishment of the worst of tyrannies, a tyranny that claims to lord alike over both body and soul. The world was saved from this danger by the tenacity with which the old religion still held its power. In half the countries of Europe the disciples of the new opinions had soon to choose between submission to their conscience and submission to their prince; and a movement which began in contending for the religious supremacy of kings ended in those wars of religion which arrayed nation after nation against their sovereigns. In this religious revolution Scotland led the way. Her Protestantism was the first to draw the sword against earthly rulers. The solemn "Covenant" which bound together her "Congregation" in the face of the regency, which pledged its members to withdraw from all submission to the religion of the State and to maintain in the face of the State their liberty of conscience, opened that vast series of struggles which ended in Germany with the Peace of Westphalia and in England with the Toleration Act of William the Third.
The "Covenant" of the lords sounded a bold defiance to the Catholic reaction across the border. While Mary replaced the Prayer-Book by the 4-118]Mass, the Scotch lords resolved that wherever their power extended the Common Prayer should be read in all churches. While hundreds were going to the stake in England the Scotch nobles boldly met the burning of their preachers by a threat of war. "They trouble our preachers," ran their bold remonstrance against the bishops in the Queen-mother's presence; "they would murder them and us! shall we suffer this any longer? No, madam, it shall not be!" and therewith every man put on his steel bonnet. The Regent was helpless for the moment and could find refuge only in fair words, words so fair that for a while the sternest of the reformers believed her to be drifting to their faith. She was in truth fettered by the need of avoiding civil strife at a time when the war of England against France made a Scotch war against England inevitable. The nobles refused indeed to cross the border, but the threat of a Scotch invasion was one of the dangers against which Mary Tudor now found herself forced to provide. Nor was the uprise of Protestantism in Scotland the only result of her policy in giving fire and strength to the new religion. Each step in the persecution had been marked by a fresh flight of preachers, merchants, and gentry across the seas. "Some fled into France, some into Flanders, and some into the high countries of the Empire." As early as 1554 we find groups of such refugees at Frankfort, Emden, Zürich, and 4-119]Strassburg. Calvin welcomed some of them at Geneva; the "lords of Berne" suffered a group to settle at Aarau; a hundred gathered round the Duchess of Suffolk at Wesel. Amongst the exiles we find many who were to be bishops and statesmen in the coming reign. Sir Francis Knollys was at Frankfort, Sir Francis Walsingham travelled in France; among the divines were the later archbishops Grindal and Sandys, and the later bishops Horne, Parkhurst, Aylmer, Jewel, and Cox. Mingled with these were men who had already played their part in Edward's reign, such as Poinet, the deprived Bishop of Winchester, Bale, the deprived Bishop of Ossory, and the preachers Lever and Knox.
The Extreme Protestants.
Gardiner had threatened that the fugitives should gnaw their fingers from hunger, but ample supplies reached them from London merchants and other partizans in England, and they seem to have lived in fair comfort while their brethren at home were "going to the fire." Their chief troubles sprang from strife among themselves. The hotter spirits among the English Protestants had seen with discontent the retention of much that they looked on as superstitious and Popish in even the last liturgy of Edward's reign. That ministers should still wear white surplices, that litanies should be sung, that the congregation should respond to the priest, that babes should be signed in baptism with the sign of the cross, that 4-120]rings should be given in marriage, filled them with horror. Hooper, the leader of this party, refused when made bishop to don his rochet; and had only been driven by imprisonment to vest himself in "the rags of Popery." Trivial indeed as such questions seemed in themselves, an issue lay behind them which was enough to make men face worse evils than a prison. The royal supremacy, the headship of the Church, which Henry the Eighth claimed for himself and his successors, was, as we have seen, simply an application of the principle which the states of North Germany had found so effective in meeting the pretensions of the Emperor or the Pope. The same sentiment of national life took a new form in the preservation of whatever the change of religious thought left it possible to preserve in the national tradition of faith and worship. In the Lutheran churches, though the Mass was gone, reredos and crucifix remained untouched. In England the whole ecclesiastical machinery was jealously preserved. Its Church was still governed by bishops who traced their succession to the Apostles. The words of its new Prayer-Book adhered as closely as they might to the words of Missal and Breviary. What made such an arrangement possible was the weakness of the purely religious impulse in the earlier stages of the Reformation. In Germany indeed or in England, the pressure for theological change was small; the religious impulse told on but a small 4-121]part, and that not an influential part, of the population; it did in fact little more than quicken and bring into action the older and widely-felt passion for ecclesiastical independence.
Protestantism and the Supremacy.
But the establishment of this independence at once gave fresh force to the religious movement. From denouncing the Pope as a usurper of national rights men passed easily to denounce the Papal system as in itself Antichristian. In setting aside the voice of the Papacy as a ground of faith the new churches had been forced to find a ground of faith in the Bible. But the reading and discussion of the Bible opened up a thousand questions of belief and ritual, and the hatred of Rome drew men more and more to find answers to such questions which were antagonistic to the creed and usages of a past that was identified in their eyes with the Papacy. Such questions could hardly fail to find an echo in the people at large. To the bulk of men ecclesiastical institutions are things dim and remote; and the establishment of ecclesiastical independence, though it gratified the national pride, could have raised little personal enthusiasm. But the direct and personal interest of every man seemed to lie in the right holding of religious truth, and thus the theological aspect of the Reformation tended more and more to supersede its political one. All that is generous and chivalrous in human feeling told in the same direction. To statesmen like Gardiner or Paget 4-122]the acceptance of one form of faith or worship after another as one sovereign after another occupied the throne seemed, no doubt, a logical and inevitable result of their acceptance of the royal supremacy. But to the people at large there must have been something false and ignoble in the sight of a statesman or a priest who had cast off the Mass under Edward to embrace it again under Mary, and who was ready again to cast it off at the will of Mary's successor. If worship and belief were indeed spiritual things, if they had any semblance of connexion with divine realities, men must have felt that it was impossible to put them on and off at a king's caprice. It was this, even more than the natural pity which they raised, that gave their weight to the Protestant martyrdoms under Mary. They stood out in emphatic protest against the doctrine of local religion, of a belief dictated by the will of kings. From the Primate of the Church to the "blind girl" who perished at Colchester, three hundred were found in England who chose rather to go to the fire than to take up again at the Queen's will what their individual conscience had renounced as a lie against God.
But from the actual assertion of such a right of the individual conscience to find and hold what was true, even those who witnessed for it by their death would have shrunk. Driven by sheer force of fact from the theory of a national and royal 4-123]faith, men still shuddered to stand alone. The old doctrine of a Catholic Christianity flung over them its spell. Rome indeed they looked on as Antichrist, but the doctrine which Rome had held so long and so firmly, the doctrine that truth should be coextensive with the world and not limited by national boundaries, that the Church was one in all countries and among all peoples, that there was a Christendom which embraced all kingdoms and a Christian law that ruled peoples and kings, became more and more the doctrine of Rome's bitterest opponents. It was this doctrine which found its embodiment in John Calvin, a young French scholar, driven in early manhood from his own country by the persecution of Francis the First. Calvin established himself at Basle, and produced there in 1535 at the age of twenty-six a book which was to form the theology of the Huguenot churches, his "Institutes of the Christian Religion." What was really original in this work was Calvin's doctrine of the organization of the Church and of its relation to the State. The base of the Christian republic was with him the Christian man, elected and called of God, preserved by His grace from the power of sin, predestinate to eternal life. Every such Christian man is in himself a priest, and every group of such men is a Church, self-governing, independent of all save God, supreme in its authority over all matters ecclesiastical and spiritual. The constitution 4-124]of such a church, where each member as a Christian was equal before God, necessarily took a democratic form. In Calvin's theory of Church government it is the Church which itself elects its lay elders and lay deacons for purposes of administration; it is with the approval and consent of the Church that elders and deacons with the existing body of pastors elect new ministers. It is through these officers that the Church exercises its power of the keys, the power of diffusing the truth and the power of correcting error. To the minister belong the preaching of the word and the direction of all religious instruction; to the body of ministers belong the interpretation of scripture and the decision of doctrine. On the other hand the administration of discipline, the supervision of the moral conduct of each professing Christian, the admonition of the erring, the excommunication and exclusion from the body of the Church of the unbelieving and the utterly unworthy, belong to the Consistory, the joint assembly of ministers and elders. To this discipline princes as well as common men are alike subject; princes as well as common men must take their doctrine from the ministers of the Church.
The claims of the older faith to spiritual and ecclesiastical supremacy over the powers of earth reappeared in this theory. Calvin like the Papacy ignored all national independence, all pretensions 4-125]of peoples as such to create their own system of church doctrine or church government. Doctrine and government he held to be already laid down in the words of the Bible, and all questions that rose out of those words came under the decision of the ecclesiastical body of ministers. Wherever a reformed religion appeared, there was provided for it a simple but orderly organization which in its range and effectiveness rivalled that of the older Catholicism. On the other hand this organization rested on a wholly new basis; spiritual and ecclesiastical power came from below not from above; the true sovereign in this Christian state was not Pope or Bishop but the Christian man. Despotic as the authority of pastor and elders seemed, pastor and elders were alike the creation of the whole congregation, and their judgement could in the last resort be adopted or set aside by it. Such a system stood out in bold defiance against the tendencies of the day. On its religious side it came into conflict with that principle of nationality, of ecclesiastical as well as civil subjection to the prince, on which the reformed Churches and above all the Church of England had till now been built up. As a vast and consecrated democracy it stood in contrast with the whole social and political framework of the European nations. Grave as we may count the faults of Calvinism, alien as its temper may in many ways be from the temper of the modern 4-126]world, it is in Calvinism that the modern world strikes its roots, for it was Calvinism that first revealed the worth and dignity of Man. Called of God, and heir of heaven, the trader at his counter and the digger in his field suddenly rose into equality with the noble and the king.
Calvin and the Exiles.
It was this system that Calvin by a singular fortune was able to put into actual working in the little city of Geneva, where the party of the Reformation had become master and called him in 1536 to be their spiritual head. Driven out but again recalled, his influence made Geneva from 1541 the centre of the Protestant world. The refugees who crowded to the little town from persecution in France, in the Netherlands, in England, found there an exact and formal doctrine, a rigid discipline of manners and faith, a system of church government, a form of church worship, stripped, as they held, of the last remnant of the superstitions of the past. Calvin himself with his austere and frugal life, his enormous industry, his power of government, his quick decision, his undoubting self-confidence, his unswerving will, remained for three-and-twenty years till his death in 1564 supreme over Protestant opinion. His influence told heavily on England. From the hour of Cromwell's fall the sympathies of the English reformers had drawn them, not to the Lutheran Churches of North Germany, but to the more progressive Churches of the Rhineland and 4-127]the Netherlands: and on the critical question of the Lord's Supper which mainly divided the two great branches of the Reformation Cranmer and his partizans became more definitely anti-sacramentarian as the years went by. At Edward's death the exiles showed their tendencies by seeking refuge not with the Lutheran Churches of North Germany but with the Calvinistic Churches of Switzerland or the Rhine; and contact with such leaders as Bullinger at Zürich or Calvin at Geneva could hardly fail to give fresh vigour to the party which longed for a closer union with the foreign churches and a more open breach with the past.
The troubles at Frankfort.
The results of this contact first showed themselves at Frankfort. At the instigation of Whittingham, who in Elizabeth's days became Dean of Durham, a body of English exiles that had found shelter there resolved to reform both worship and discipline. The obnoxious usages were expunged from the Prayer-Book, omissions were made in the communion service, a minister and deacons chosen, and rules drawn up for church government after the Genevan model. Free at last "from all dregs of superstitious ceremonies" the Frankfort refugees thanked God "that had given them such a church in a strange land wherein they might hear God's holy word preached, the sacraments rightly ministered, and discipline used, which in their own country could never be obtained." But their invitation to the other English exiles to join them 4-128]in the enjoyment of these blessings met with a steady repulse. Lever and the exiles at Zürich refused to come unless they might "altogether serve and praise God as freely and uprightly as the order last taken in the Church of England permitteth and presenteth, for we are fully determined to admit and use no other." The main body of the exiles who were then gathered at Strassburg echoed the refusal. Knox however, who had been chosen minister by the Frankfort congregation, moved rapidly forward, rejecting the communion service altogether as superstitious, and drawing up a new "order" of worship after the Genevan model. But in the spring of 1555 these efforts were foiled by the arrival of fresh exiles from England of a more conservative turn: the reformers were outvoted; Knox was driven from the town by the magistrates "in fear of the Emperor" whom he had outraged in an "Admonition" to the English people which he had lately issued; and the English service was restored. Whittingham and his adherents, still resolute, as Bale wrote, "to erect a Church of the Purity" (we may perhaps trace in the sneer the origin of their later name of Puritans), found a fresh refuge at Basle and Geneva, where the leaders of the party occupied themselves in a metrical translation of the Psalms which left its traces on English psalmody and in the production of what was afterwards known as the Geneva Bible.
The seditious books.
Petty as this strife at Frankfort may seem, it marks the first open appearance of English Puritanism, and the beginning of a struggle which widened through the reign of Elizabeth till under the Stuarts it broke England in pieces. But busy as they were in strife among themselves, the exiles were still more busy in fanning the discontent at home. Books, pamphlets, broadsides, were written and sent for distribution to England. The violence of their language was incredible. No sooner had Bonner issued his injunctions than Bale denounced him in a fierce reply as "a beastly belly-god and damnable dung-hill." With a spirit worthy of the "bloody bitesheeps" whom he attacked, the ex-Bishop of Ossory regretted that when Henry plucked down Becket's shrine he had not burned the idolatrous priests upon it. It probably mattered little to Bale that at the moment when he wrote not a single Protestant had as yet been sent to the stake; but language such as this was hardly likely to stir Mary to a spirit of moderation. The Spanish marriage gave the refugees a fairer opportunity of attack, and the Government was forced to make enquiries of the wardens of city gilds "whether they had seen or heard of any of these books which had come from beyond seas." The violence of the exiles was doubled by the suppression of Wyatt's revolt. Poinet, the late Bishop of Winchester, who had taken part in it, fled over sea to write a "Sharp Tractate of 4-130]political power" in which he discussed the question "whether it be lawful to depose an evil governor and kill a tyrant."
Knox and Goodman.
But with the actual outbreak of persecution and the death of Cranmer all restraint was thrown aside. In his "First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstrous Regiment of Women" Knox denounced Mary as a Jezebel, a traitress, and a bastard. He declared the rule of women to be against the law of Nature and of God. The duty, whether of the estates or people of the realm, was "first to remove from honour and authority that monster in nature; secondarily, if any presume to defend that impiety, they ought not to fear first to pronounce, then after to execute against them the sentence of death." To keep the oath of allegiance was "nothing but plain rebellion against God." "The day of vengeance," burst out the writer, "which shall apprehend that horrible monster, Jezebel of England, and such as maintain her monstrous cruelty is already appointed in the counsel of the Eternal; and I verily believe that it is so nigh that she shall not reign so long in tyranny as hitherto she hath done, when God shall declare himself her enemy." Another exile, Goodman, enquired "how superior powers ought to be obeyed of their subjects; and wherein they may lawfully by God's word be disobeyed and resisted." His book was a direct summons to rebellion. "By giving authority to an idolatrous 4-131]woman" Goodman wrote to his English fellow-subjects, "ye have banished Christ and his Gospel. Then in taking the same authority from her you shall restore Christ and his word, and shall do well. In obeying her you have disobeyed God; then in disobeying her you shall please God." "Though it should appear at the first sight," he urged, "a great disorder that the people should take unto them the punishment of transgressions, yet when the magistrates and other officers cease to do their duties they are as it were without officers, yea, worse than if they had none at all, and then God giveth the sword into the people's hand." And what the people were to do with the sword Poinet had already put very clearly. It was the "ungodly serpent Mary" who was "the chief instrument of all this present misery in England." "Now both by God's laws and man's," concluded the bishop, "she ought to be punished with death, as an open idolatress in the sight of God, and a cruel murderer of His saints before men, and merciless traitress to her own native country."
Behind the wild rhetoric of words like these lay the new sense of a prophetic power, the sense of a divine commission given to the preachers of the Word to rebuke nobles and kings. At the moment when the policy of Cromwell crushed the Church as a political power and freed the growing Monarchy from the constitutional check which its independence furnished, 4-132]a new check offered itself in the very enthusiasm which sprang out of the wreck of the great religious body. Men stirred with a new sense of righteousness and of a divine government of the world, men too whose natural boldness was quickened and fired by daily contact with the older seers who rebuked David or Jezebel, could not hold their peace in the presence of wrong. While nobles and statesmen were cowering in silence before the dreaded power of the kingship the preachers spoke bluntly out. Not only Latimer, but Knox, Grindal, and Lever had uttered fiery remonstrances against the plunderers of Edward's reign. Bradford had threatened them with the divine judgement which at last overtook them. "'The judgement of the Lord! The judgement of the Lord!' cried he, with a lamentable voice and weeping tears." Wise or unwise, the pamphlets of the exiles only carried on this theory to its full developement. The great conception of the mediæval Church, that of the responsibility of kings to a spiritual power, was revived at an hour when kingship was trampling all responsibility to God or man beneath its feet. Such a revival was to have large and beneficial issues in our later history. Gathering strength under Elizabeth, it created at the close of her reign that moral force of public opinion which under the name of Puritanism brought the acts and policy of our kings to the tests of reason and 4-133]the Gospel. However ill directed that force might be, however erroneously such tests were often applied, it is to this new force that we owe the restoration of liberty and the establishment of religious freedom. As the voice of the first Christian preachers had broken the despotism of the Roman Empire, so the voice of the preachers of Puritanism broke the despotism of the English Monarchy.
But great as their issues were to be, for the moment these protests only quickened the persecution at home. We can hardly wonder that the arrival of Goodman's book in England in the summer of 1558 was followed by stern measures to prevent the circulation of such incentives to revolt. "Whereas divers books" ran a royal proclamation, "filled with heresy, sedition, and treason, have of late and be daily brought into the realm out of foreign countries and places beyond seas, and some also covertly printed within this realm and cast abroad in sundry parts thereof, whereby not only God is dishonoured but also encouragement is given to disobey lawful princes and governors," any person possessing such books "shall be reported and taken for a rebel, and shall without delay be executed for that offence according to the order of martial law." But what really robbed these pamphlets of all force for harm was the prudence and foresight of the people itself. Never indeed did the nation show its patient good 4-134]sense more clearly than in the later years of Mary's reign. While fires blazed in Smithfield and news of defeat came from over sea, while the hot voices of Protestant zealots hounded men on to assassination and revolt, the bulk of Englishmen looked quietly from the dying Queen to the girl who in a little while must wear her crown. What nerved men to endure the shame and bloodshed about them was the certainty of the speedy succession of the daughter of Anne Boleyn. Elizabeth was now in her twenty-fifth year. Personally she had much of her mother's charm with more than her mother's beauty. Her figure was commanding, her face long but queenly and intelligent, her eyes quick and fine. She had grown up amidst the liberal culture of Henry's court a bold horsewoman, a good shot, a graceful dancer, a skilled musician, and an accomplished scholar. Even among the highly-trained women who caught the impulse of the New Learning she stood in the extent of her acquirements without a peer. Ascham, who succeeded Grindal and Cheke in the direction of her studies, tells us how keen and resolute was Elizabeth's love of learning, even in her girlhood. At sixteen she already showed "a man's power of application" to her books. She had read almost the whole of Cicero and a great part of Livy. She began the day with the study of the New Testament in Greek, and followed this up by reading selected orations 4-135]of Isocrates and the tragedies of Sophocles. She could speak Latin with fluency and Greek moderately well. Her love of classical culture lasted through her life. Amidst the press and cares of her later reign we find Ascham recording how "after dinner I went up to read with the Queen's majesty that noble oration of Demosthenes against Æschines." At a later time her Latin served her to rebuke the insolence of a Polish ambassador, and she could "rub up her rusty Greek" at need to bandy pedantry with a Vice-Chancellor. But Elizabeth was far as yet from being a mere pedant. She could already speak French and Italian as fluently as her mother-tongue. In later days we find her familiar with Ariosto and Tasso. The purity of her literary taste, the love for a chaste and simple style, which Ascham noted with praise in her girlhood, had not yet perished under the influence of euphuism. But even amidst the affectation and love of anagrams and puerilities which sullied her later years Elizabeth remained a lover of letters and of all that was greatest and purest in letters. She listened with delight to the "Faery Queen," and found a smile for "Master Spenser" when he appeared in her presence.
Elizabeth and Mary.
From the bodily and mental energy of her girlhood, the close of Edward's reign drew Elizabeth at nineteen to face the sterner problems of religion and politics. In the daring attempt of 4-136]Northumberland to place Jane Grey on the throne Elizabeth's rights were equally set aside with those of Mary; and the first public act of the girl was to call the gentry to her standard and to join her sister with five hundred followers in her train. But the momentary union was soon dissolved. The daughter of Catharine could look with little but hate on the daughter of Anne Boleyn. Elizabeth's tendency to the "new religion" jarred with the Queen's bigotry; and the warnings of the imperial ambassador were hardly needful to spur Mary to watch jealously a possible pretender to her throne. The girl bent to the Queen's will in hearing mass, but her manner showed that the compromise was merely a matter of obedience, and fed the hopes of the Protestant zealots who saw in the Spanish marriage a chance of driving Mary from the throne. The resolve which the Queen showed to cancel her sister's right of succession only quickened the project for setting Elizabeth in her place; and it was to make Elizabeth their sovereign that Suffolk rose in Leicestershire and Wyatt and his Kentishmen marched against London Bridge. The failure of the rising seemed to ensure her doom. The Emperor pressed for her death as a security for Philip on his arrival; and the detection of a correspondence with the French king served as a pretext for her committal to the Tower. The fierce Tudor temper broke through Elizabeth's 4-137]self-control as she landed at Traitor's Gate. "Are all these harnessed men there for me?" she cried as she saw the guard; "it needed not for me, being but a weak woman!" and passionately calling on the soldiers to "bear witness that I come as no traitor!" she flung herself down on a stone in the rain and refused to enter her prison. "Better sitting here than in a worse place," she cried; "I know not whither you will bring me." But Elizabeth's danger was less than it seemed. Wyatt denied to the last her complicity in the revolt, and in spite of Gardiner's will to "go roundly to work" with her the Lords of the Council forced Mary to set her free. The Queen's terrors however revived with her hopes of a child in the summer of 1555. To Mary her sister seemed the one danger which threatened the succession of her coming babe and the vast issues which hung on it, and Elizabeth was summoned to her sister's side and kept a close prisoner at Hampton Court. Philip joined in this precaution, for "holding her in his power he could depart safely and without peril" in the event of the Queen's death in childbirth; and other plans were perhaps already stirring his breast. Should Mary die, a fresh match might renew his hold on England; "he might hope," writes the Venetian ambassador, "with the help of many of the nobility, won over by his presents and favours, to marry her (Elizabeth) again, and thus succeed anew to the crown."
Elizabeth and Philip.
But whatever may have been Philip's designs, the time had not as yet come for their realization; the final disappointment of the Queen's hopes of childbirth set Elizabeth free, and in July she returned to her house at Ashridge. From this moment her position was utterly changed. With the disappearance of all chance of offspring from the Queen and the certainty of Mary's coming death her sister's danger passed away. Elizabeth alone stood between England and the succession of Mary Stuart; and, whatever might be the wishes of the Queen, the policy of the House of Austria forced it to support even the daughter of Anne Boleyn against a claimant who would bind England to the French monarchy. From this moment therefore Philip watched jealously over Elizabeth's safety. On his departure for the Continent he gave written instructions to the Queen to show favour to her sister, and the charge was repeated to those of his followers whom he left behind him. What guarded her even more effectually was the love of the people. When Philip at a later time claimed Elizabeth's gratitude for his protection she told him bluntly that her gratitude was really due neither to him nor her nobles, though she owned her obligations to both, but to the English people. It was they who had saved her from death and hindered all projects for barring her right to the throne. "It is the people," she said, "who have placed me where I 4-139]am now." It was indeed their faith in Elizabeth's speedy succession that enabled Englishmen to bear the bloodshed and shame of Mary's later years, and to wait patiently for the end.
Nor were these years of waiting without value for Elizabeth herself. The steady purpose, the clear perception of a just policy which ran through her wonderful reign, were formed as the girl looked coolly on at the chaos of bigotry and misrule which spread before her. More and more she realized what was to be the aim of her after life, the aim of reuniting the England which Edward and Mary alike had rent into two warring nations, of restoring again that English independence which Mary was trailing at the feet of Spain. With such an aim she could draw to her the men who, indifferent like herself to purely spiritual considerations, and estranged from Mary's system rather by its political than its religious consequences, were anxious for the restoration of English independence and English order. It was among these "Politicals," as they were soon to be called, that Elizabeth found at this moment a counsellor who was to stand by her side through the long years of her after reign. William Cecil sprang from the smaller gentry whom the changes of the time were bringing to the front. He was the son of a Yeoman of the Wardrobe at Henry's court; but his abilities had already raised him at the age of twenty-seven to the post of secretary to 4-140]the Duke of Somerset, and through Somerset's Protectorate he remained high in his confidence. He was seized by the Lords on the Duke's arrest, and even sent to the Tower; but he was set at liberty with his master, and his ability was now so well known that a few months later saw him Secretary of State under Northumberland. The post and the knighthood which accompanied it hardly compensated for the yoke which Northumberland's pride laid upon all who served him, or for the risks in which his ambition involved them. Cecil saw with a fatal clearness the silent opposition of the whole realm to the system of the Protectorate, and the knowledge of this convinced him that the Duke's schemes for a change in the succession were destined to failure. On the disclosure of the plot to set Mary aside he withdrew for some days from the court, and even meditated flight from the country, till fear of the young king's wrath drew him back to share in the submission of his fellow-counsellors and to pledge himself with them to carry the new settlement into effect. But Northumberland had no sooner quitted London than Cecil became the soul of the intrigues by which the royal Council declared themselves in Mary's favour. His desertion of the Duke secured him pardon from the Queen, and though he was known to be in heart "a heretic" he continued at court, conformed like Elizabeth to the established religion, confessed and attended mass. Cecil was 4-141]employed in bringing Pole to England and in attending him in embassies abroad. But his caution held him aloof from any close connexion with public affairs. He busied himself in building at Burghley and in the culture of the Church lands he had won from Edward the Sixth, while he drew closer to the girl who alone could rescue England from the misgovernment of Mary's rule. Even before the Queen's death it was known that Cecil would be the chief counsellor of the coming reign. "I am told for certain," the Spanish ambassador wrote to Philip after a visit to Elizabeth during the last hours of Mary's life, "that Cecil who was secretary to King Edward will be her secretary also. He has the character of a prudent and virtuous man, although a heretic." But it was only from a belief that Cecil retained at heart the convictions of his earlier days that men could call him a heretic. In all outer matters of faith or worship he conformed to the religion of the state.
It is idle to charge Cecil, or the mass of Englishmen who conformed with him in turn to the religion of Henry, of Edward, of Mary, and of Elizabeth, with baseness or hypocrisy. They followed the accepted doctrine of the time—that every realm, through its rulers, had the sole right of determining what should be the form of religion within its bounds. What the Marian persecution was gradually pressing on such men was a 4-142]conviction, not of the falsehood of such a doctrine, but of the need of limiting it. Under Henry, under Edward, under Mary, no distinction had been drawn between inner belief and outer conformity. Every English subject was called upon to adjust his conscience as well as his conduct to the varying policy of the state. But the fires of Smithfield had proved that obedience such as this could not be exacted save by a persecution which filled all England with horror. Such a persecution indeed failed in the very end for which it was wrought. Instead of strengthening religious unity, it gave a new force to religious separation; it enlisted the conscience of the zealot in the cause of resistance; it secured the sympathy of the great mass of waverers to those who withstood the civil power. To Cecil, as to the purely political statesmen of whom he was the type, such a persecution seemed as needless as it was mischievous. Conformity indeed was necessary, for men could as yet conceive of no state without a religion or of civil obedience apart from compliance with the religious order of the state. But only outer conformity was needed. That no man should set up a worship other than that of the nation at large, that every subject should duly attend at the national worship, Cecil believed to be essential to public order. But he saw no need for prying into the actual beliefs of those who conformed to the religious laws of the realm, nor 4-143]did he think that such beliefs could be changed by the fear of punishment. While refusing freedom of worship therefore, Cecil, like Elizabeth, was ready to concede freedom of conscience. And in this concession we can hardly doubt that the bulk of Englishmen went with him. Catholics shared with Protestants the horror of Mary's persecution. To Protestantism indeed the horror of the persecution had done much to give a force such as it had never had before. The number of Protestants grew with every murder done in the cause of Catholicism. But they still remained a small part of the realm. What the bulk of Englishmen had been driven to by the martyrdoms was not a change of creed, but a longing for religious peace and for such a system of government as, without destroying the spiritual oneness of the nation, would render a religious peace possible. And such a system of government Cecil and Elizabeth were prepared to give.
We may ascribe to Cecil's counsels somewhat of the wise patience with which Elizabeth waited for the coming crown. Her succession was assured, and the throng of visitors to her presence showed a general sense that the Queen's end was near. Mary stood lonely and desolate in her realm. "I will not be buried while I am living, as my sister was," Elizabeth said in later years. "Do I not know how during her life every one hastened to me at Hatfield?" The bloodshed 4-144]indeed went on more busily than ever. It had spread now from bishops and priests to the people itself, and the sufferers were sent in batches to the flames. In a single day thirteen victims, two of them women, were burned at Stratford-le-Bow. Seventy-three Protestants of Colchester were dragged through the streets of London tied to a single rope. A new commission for the suppression of heresy was exempted by royal authority from all restrictions of law which fettered its activity. But the work of terror broke down before the silent revolt of the whole nation. The persecution failed even to put an end to heretical worship. Not only do we find ministers moving about in London and Kent to hold "secret meetings of the Gospellers," but up to the middle of 1555 four parishes in Essex still persisted in using the English-Prayer Book. Open marks of sympathy at last began to be offered to the victims at the stake. "There were seven men burned in Smithfield the twenty-eighth day of July," a Londoner writes in 1558, "a fearful and a cruel proclamation being made that under pain of present death no man should either approach nigh unto them, touch them, neither speak to them nor comfort them. Yet were they so comfortably taken by the hand and so goodly comforted, notwithstanding that fearful proclamation and the present threatenings of the sheriffs and serjeants, that the adversaries themselves 4-145]were astonished." The crowd round the fire shouted "Amen" to the martyrs' prayers, and prayed with them that God would strengthen them. What galled Mary yet more was the ill will of the Pope. Paul the Fourth still adhered to his demand for full restoration of the Church lands, and held England as only partly reconciled to the Holy See. He was hostile to Philip; he was yet more hostile to Pole. At this moment he dealt a last blow at the Queen by depriving Pole of his legatine power, and was believed to be on the point of calling him to answer a charge of heresy. Even when she was freed from part of her troubles in the autumn of 1558 by the opening of conferences for peace at Cambray a fresh danger disclosed itself. The demands of the queen's envoys for the restoration of Calais met with so stubborn a refusal from France that it seemed as if England would be left alone to bear the brunt of a future struggle, for Mary's fierce pride, had she lived, could hardly have bowed to the surrender of the town. But the Queen was dying. Her health had long been weak, and the miseries and failure of her reign hastened the progress of disease. Already enfeebled, she was attacked as winter drew near by a fever which was at this time ravaging the country, and on the seventeenth of November, 1558, she breathed her last.
Tradition still points out the tree in Hatfield Park beneath which Elizabeth was sitting when she received the news of her peaceful accession to the throne. She fell on her knees, and drawing a long breath, exclaimed at last, "It is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes." To the last these words remained stamped on the golden coinage of the Queen. The sense never left her that her preservation and her reign were the issues of a direct interposition of God. Daring and self-confident indeed as was her temper, it was awed into seriousness by the weight of responsibility which fell on her with her sister's death. Never had the fortunes of England sunk to a lower ebb. Dragged at the heels of Philip into a useless and ruinous war, the country was left without an ally save Spain. The loss of Calais gave France the mastery of the Channel, and 4-147]seemed to English eyes "to introduce the French King within the threshold of our house." "If God start not forth to the helm," wrote the Council in an appeal to the country, "we be at the point of greatest misery that can happen to any people, which is to become thrall to a foreign nation." The French king in fact "bestrode the realm, having one foot in Calais and the other in Scotland." Ireland too was torn with civil war, while Scotland, always a danger in the north, had become formidable through the French marriage of its queen. In presence of enemies such as these, the country lay helpless, without army or fleet, or the means of manning one, for the treasury, already drained by the waste of Edward's reign, had been utterly exhausted by the restoration of the Church lands in possession of the Crown and by the cost of the war with France. But formidable as was the danger from without, it was little to the danger from within. The country was humiliated by defeat and brought to the verge of rebellion by the bloodshed and misgovernment of Mary's reign. The social discontent which had been trampled down for a while by the horsemen of Somerset remained a menace to further order. Above all, the religious strife had passed beyond hope of reconciliation now that the reformers were parted from their opponents by the fires of Smithfield and the party of the New Learning all but dissolved. The more earnest 4-148]Catholics were bound helplessly to Rome. The temper of the Protestants, burned at home or driven into exile abroad, had become a fiercer thing, and the Calvinistic refugees were pouring back from Geneva with dreams of revolutionary changes in Church and State.
Her religious policy.
It was with the religious difficulty that Elizabeth was called first to deal; and the way in which she dealt with it showed at once the peculiar bent of her mind. The young Queen was not without a sense of religion; at moments of peril or deliverance throughout her reign her acknowledgements of a divine protection took a strange depth and earnestness. But she was almost wholly destitute of spiritual emotion, or of any consciousness of the vast questions with which theology strove to deal. While the world around her was being swayed more and more by theological beliefs and controversies, Elizabeth was absolutely untouched by them. She was a child of the Italian Renascence rather than of the New Learning of Colet or Erasmus, and her attitude towards the enthusiasm of her time was that of Lorenzo de' Medici towards Savonarola. Her mind was untroubled by the spiritual problems which were vexing the minds around her; to Elizabeth indeed they were not only unintelligible, they were a little ridiculous. She had been brought up under Henry amidst the ritual of the older Church; under Edward she had submitted 4-149]to the English Prayer-Book, and drunk in much of the Protestant theology; under Mary she was ready after a slight resistance to conform again to the mass. Her temper remained unchanged through the whole course of her reign. She showed the same intellectual contempt for the superstition of the Romanist as for the bigotry of the Protestant. While she ordered Catholic images to be flung into the fire, she quizzed the Puritans as "brethren in Christ." But she had no sort of religious aversion from either Puritan or Papist. The Protestants grumbled at the Catholic nobles whom she admitted to the presence. The Catholics grumbled at the Protestant statesmen whom she called to her council-board. To Elizabeth on the other hand the arrangement was the most natural thing in the world. She looked at theological differences in a purely political light. She agreed with Henry the Fourth that a kingdom was well worth a mass. It seemed an obvious thing to her to hold out hopes of conversion as a means of deceiving Philip, or to gain a point in negotiation by restoring the crucifix to her chapel. The first interest in her own mind was the interest of public order, and she never could understand how it could fail to be the first in every one's mind.
One memorable change marked the nobler side of the policy she brought with her to the throne. Elizabeth's accession was at once followed by a 4-150]close of the religious persecution. Whatever might be the changes that awaited the country, conformity was no longer to be enforced by the penalty of death. At a moment when Philip was presiding at autos-de-fé and Henry of France plotting a massacre of his Huguenot subjects, such a resolve was a gain for humanity as well as a step towards religious toleration. And from this resolve Elizabeth never wavered. Through all her long reign, save a few Anabaptists whom the whole nation loathed as blasphemers of God and dreaded as enemies of social order, no heretic was "sent to the fire." It was a far greater gain for humanity when the Queen declared her will to meddle in no way with the consciences of her subjects. She would hear of no inquisition into a man's private thoughts on religious matters or into his personal religion. Cecil could boldly assert in her name at a later time the right of every Englishman to perfect liberty of religious opinion. Such a liberty of opinion by no means implied liberty of public worship. On the incompatibility of freedom of worship with public order Catholic and Protestant were as yet at one. The most advanced reformers did not dream of contending for a right to stand apart from the national religion. What they sought was to make the national religion their own. The tendency of the reformation had been to press for the religious as well as the political unity of every state. Even Calvin looked forward 4-151]to the winning of the nations to a purer faith without a suspicion that the religious movement which he headed would end in establishing the right even of the children of "antichrist" to worship as they would in a Protestant commonwealth. If the Protestant lords in Scotland had been driven to assert a right of nonconformity, if the Huguenots of France were following their example, it was with no thought of asserting the right of every man to worship God as he would. From the claim of such a right Knox or Coligni would have shrunk with even greater horror than Elizabeth. What they aimed at was simply the establishment of a truce till by force or persuasion they could win the realms that tolerated them for their own. In this matter therefore Elizabeth was at one with every statesman of her day. While granting freedom of conscience to her subjects, she was resolute to exact an outward conformity to the established religion.
But men watched curiously to see what religion the Queen would establish. Even before her accession the keen eye of the Spanish ambassador had noted her "great admiration for the king her father's mode of carrying on matters," as a matter of ill omen for the interests of Catholicism. He had marked that the ladies about her and the counsellors on whom she seemed about to rely were, like Cecil, "held to be heretics." "I fear much," he wrote, "that in religion she will not go 4-152]right." As keen an instinct warned the Protestants that the tide had turned. The cessation of the burnings, and the release of all persons imprisoned for religion, seemed to receive their interpretation when Elizabeth on her entry into London kissed an English Bible which the citizens presented to her and promised "diligently to read therein." The exiles at Strassburg or Geneva flocked home with wild dreams of a religious revolution and of vengeance upon their foes. But hopes and fears alike met a startling check. For months there was little change in either government or religion. If Elizabeth introduced Cecil and his kinsman, Sir Nicholas Bacon, to her council-board, she retained as yet most of her sister's advisers. The Mass went on as before, and the Queen was regular in her attendance at it. As soon as the revival of Protestantism showed itself in controversial sermons and insults to the priesthood it was bridled by a proclamation which forbade unlicensed preaching and enforced silence on the religious controversy. Elizabeth showed indeed a distaste for the elevation of the Host, and allowed the Lord's Prayer, Creed, and Ten Commandments to be used in English. But months passed after her accession before she would go further than this. A royal proclamation which ordered the existing form of worship to be observed "till consultation might be had in Parliament by the Queen and the Three Estates" startled the prelates; and only one 4-153]bishop could be found to assist at the coronation of Elizabeth. But no change was made in the ceremonies of the coronation; the Queen took the customary oath to observe the liberties of the Church, and conformed to the Catholic ritual. There was little in fact to excite any reasonable alarm among the adherents of the older faith, or any reasonable hope among the adherents of the new. "I will do," the Queen said, "as my father did." Instead of the reforms of Edward and the Protectorate, the Protestants saw themselves thrown back on the reforms of Henry the Eighth. Even Henry's system indeed seemed too extreme for Elizabeth. Her father had at any rate broken boldly from the Papacy. But the first work of the Queen was to open negotiations for her recognition with the Papal Court.
Elizabeth and Philip.
What shaped Elizabeth's course in fact was hard necessity. She found herself at war with France and Scotland, and her throne threatened by the claim of the girl who linked the two countries, the claim of Mary Stuart, at once Queen of Scotland and wife of the Dauphin Francis. On Elizabeth's accession Mary and Francis assumed by the French king's order the arms and style of English sovereigns: and if war continued it was clear that their pretensions would be backed by Henry's forces as well as by the efforts of the Scots. Against such a danger Philip of Spain was Elizabeth's only ally. Philip's policy was at this 4-154]time a purely conservative one. The vast schemes of ambition which had so often knit both Pope and Protestants, Germany and France, against his father were set aside by the young king. His position indeed was very different from that of Charles the Fifth. He was not Emperor. He had little weight in Germany. Even in Italy his influence was less than his father's. He had lost with Mary's death the crown of England. His most valuable possessions outside Spain, the provinces of the Netherlands, were disaffected to a foreign rule. All the king therefore aimed at was to keep his own. But the Netherlands were hard to keep: and with France mistress of England as of Scotland, and so mistress of the Channel, to keep them would be impossible. Sheer necessity forbade Philip to suffer the union of the three crowns of the west on the head of a French king; and the French marriage of Mary Stuart pledged him to oppose her pretensions and support Elizabeth's throne. For a moment he even dreamed of meeting the union of France with Scotland by that union of England with Spain which had been seen under Mary. He offered Elizabeth his hand. The match was a more natural one than Philip's union with her sister, for the young king's age was not far from her own. The offer however was courteously put aside, for Elizabeth had no purpose of lending England to the ambition of Spain, nor was it possible for her to repeat her sister's 4-155]unpopular experiment. But Philip remained firm in his support of her throne. He secured for her the allegiance of the Catholics within her realm, who looked to him as their friend while they distrusted France as an ally of heretics. His envoys supported her cause in the negotiations at Cateau-Cambrésis; he suffered her to borrow money and provide herself with arms in his provinces of the Netherlands. At such a crisis Elizabeth could not afford to alienate Philip by changes which would roughly dispel his hopes of retaining her within the bounds of Catholicism.
Elizabeth and the Papacy.
Nor is there any sign that Elizabeth had resolved on a defiance of the Papacy. She was firm indeed to assert her father's claim of supremacy over the clergy and her own title to the throne. But the difficulties in the way of an accommodation on these points were such as could be settled by negotiation; and, acting on Cecil's counsel, Elizabeth announced her accession to the Pope. The announcement showed her purpose of making no violent break in the relations of England with the Papal See. But between Elizabeth and the Papacy lay the fatal question of the Divorce. To acknowledge the young Queen was not only to own her mother's marriage, but to cancel the solemn judgement of the Holy See in Catharine's favour and its solemn assertion of her own bastardy. The temper of Paul the Fourth took fire at the news. He reproached Elizabeth with her 4-156]presumption in ascending the throne, recalled the Papal judgement which pronounced her illegitimate, and summoned her to submit her claims to his tribunal. Much of this indignation was no doubt merely diplomatic. If the Pope listened to the claims of Mary Stuart, which were urged on him by the French Court, it was probably only with the purpose of using them to bring pressure to bear on Elizabeth and on the stubborn country which still refused to restore its lands to the Church and to make the complete submission which Paul demanded. But Cecil and the Queen knew that, even had they been willing to pay such a price for the crown, it was beyond their power to bring England to pay it. The form too in which Paul had couched his answer admitted of no compromise. The summons to submit the Queen's claim of succession to the judgement of Rome produced its old effect. Elizabeth was driven, as Henry had been driven, to assert the right of the nation to decide on questions which affected its very life. A Parliament which met in January, 1559, acknowledged the legitimacy of Elizabeth and her title to the crown.
The Supremacy re-established.
Such an acknowledgement in the teeth of the Papal repudiation of Anne Boleyn's marriage carried with it a repudiation of the supremacy of the Papacy. It was in vain that the clergy in convocation unanimously adopted five articles which affirmed their faith in transubstantiation, 4-157]their acceptance of the supreme authority of the Popes as "Christ's vicars and supreme rulers of the Church," and their resolve "that the authority in all matters of faith and discipline belongs and ought to belong only to the pastors of the Church, and not to laymen." It was in vain that the bishops unanimously opposed the Bill for restoring the royal supremacy when it was brought before the Lords. The "ancient jurisdiction of the Crown over the Estate ecclesiastical and spiritual" was restored; the Acts which under Mary re-established the independent jurisdiction and legislation of the Church were repealed; and the clergy were called on to swear to the supremacy of the Crown and to abjure all foreign authority and jurisdiction. Further Elizabeth had no personal wish to go. A third of the Council and at least two-thirds of the people were as opposed to any radical changes in religion as the Queen. Among the gentry the older and wealthier were on the conservative side, and only the younger and meaner on the other. In the Parliament itself Sir Thomas White protested that "it was unjust that a religion begun in such a miraculous way and established by such grave men should be abolished by a set of beardless boys." Yet even this "beardless" Parliament had shown a strong conservatism. The Bill which re-established the royal supremacy met with violent opposition in the Commons, and only passed through Cecil's adroit manœuvring.
But the steps which Elizabeth had taken made it necessary to go further. If the Protestants were the less numerous, they were the abler and the more vigorous party, and the break with Rome threw Elizabeth, whether she would or no, on their support. It was a support that could only be bought by theological concessions, and above all by the surrender of the Mass; for to every Protestant the Mass was identified with the fires of Smithfield, while the Prayer-Book which it had displaced was hallowed by the memories of the Martyrs. The pressure of the reforming party indeed would have been fruitless had the Queen still been hampered by danger from France. Fortunately for their cause the treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis at this juncture freed Elizabeth's hands. By this treaty, which was practically concluded in March 1559, Calais was left in French holding on the illusory pledge of its restoration to England eight years later; but peace was secured and the danger of a war of succession, in which Mary Stuart would be backed by the arms of France, for a while averted. Secure from without, Elizabeth could venture to buy the support of the Protestants within her realm by the restoration of the English Prayer-Book. Such a measure was far indeed from being meant as an open break with Catholicism. The use of the vulgar tongue in public worship was still popular with a large part of the Catholic world; and the Queen did her best by the 4-159]alterations she made in Edward's Prayer-Book to strip it of its more Protestant tone. To the bulk of the people the book must have seemed merely a rendering of the old service in their own tongue. As the English Catholics afterwards represented at Rome when excusing their own use of it, the Prayer-Book "contained neither impiety nor false doctrine; its prayers were those of the Catholic Church, altered only so far as to omit the merits and intercession of the saints." On such a concession as this the Queen felt it safe to venture in spite of the stubborn opposition of the spiritual estate. She ordered a disputation to be held in Westminster Abbey before the Houses on the question, and when the disputation ended in the refusal of the bishops to proceed, an Act of Uniformity, which was passed in spite of their strenuous opposition, restored at the close of April the last Prayer-Book of Edward, and enforced its use on the clergy on pain of deprivation.
Pius the Fourth.
At Rome the news of these changes stirred a fiercer wrath in Paul the Fourth, and his threats of excommunication were only held in check by the protests of Philip. The policy of the Spanish king still bound him to Elizabeth's cause, for the claims of Mary Stuart had been reserved in the treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis and the refusal of France to abandon them held Spain to its alliance with the Queen. Vexed as he was at the news of the Acts which re-established the supremacy, Philip 4-160]ordered his ambassador to assure Elizabeth he was as sure a friend as ever, and to soothe the resentment of the English Catholics if it threatened to break out into revolt. He showed the same temper in his protest against action at Rome. Paul had however resolved to carry out his threats when his death and the interregnum which followed gave Elizabeth a fresh respite. His successor, Pius the Fourth, was of milder temper and leaned rather to a policy of conciliation. Decisive indeed as the Queen's action may seem in modern eyes, it was far from being held as decisive at the time. The Act of Supremacy might be regarded as having been forced upon Elizabeth by Paul's repudiation of her title to the crown. The alterations which were made by the Queen's authority in the Prayer-Book showed a wish to conciliate those who clung to the older faith. It was clear that Elizabeth had no mind merely to restore the system of the Protectorate. She set up again the royal supremacy, but she dropped the words "Head of the Church" from the royal title. The forty-two Articles of Protestant doctrine which Cranmer had drawn up were left in abeyance. If the Queen had had her will, she would have retained the celibacy of the clergy and restored the use of crucifixes in the churches.
The Clergy and the oath.
The caution and hesitation with which she enforced on the clergy the oath required by the Act of Supremacy showed Elizabeth's wish to 4-161]avoid the opening of a religious strife. The higher dignitaries indeed were unsparingly dealt with. The bishops, who with a single exception refused to take the oath, were imprisoned and deprived. The same measure was dealt out to most of the archdeacons and deans. But with the mass of the parish priests a very different course was taken. The Commissioners appointed in May 1559 were found to be too zealous in October, and several of the clerical members were replaced by cooler laymen. The great bulk of the clergy seem neither to have refused nor to have consented to the oath, but to have left the Commissioners' summons unheeded and to have stayed quietly at home. Of the nine thousand four hundred beneficed clergy only a tenth presented themselves before the Commissioners. Of those who attended and refused the oath a hundred and eighty-nine were deprived, but many of the most prominent went unharmed. At Winchester, though the dean and canons of the cathedral, the warden and fellows of the college, and the master of St. Cross, refused the oath, only four of these appear in the list of deprivations. Even the few who suffered proved too many for the purpose of the Queen. In the more remote parts of the kingdom the proceedings of the visitors threatened to wake the religious strife which she was endeavouring to lull to sleep. On the northern border, where the 4-162]great nobles, Lord Dacres and the Earls of Cumberland and Westmoreland, were zealous Catholics, and refused to let the bishop "meddle with them," the clergy held stubbornly aloof. At Durham a parson was able to protest without danger that the Pope alone had power in spiritual matters. In Hereford the town turned out to receive in triumph a party of priests from the west who had refused the oath. The University of Oxford took refuge in sullen opposition. In spite of pressure from the Protestant prelates, who occupied the sees vacated by the deprived bishops, Elizabeth was firm in her policy of patience, and in December she ordered the Commissioners in both provinces to suspend their proceedings.
The Religious Chaos.
In part indeed of her effort she was foiled by the bitterness of the reformers. The London mob tore down the crosses in the streets. Her attempt to retain the crucifix, or to enforce the celibacy of the priesthood, fell dead before the opposition of the Protestant clergy. But to the mass of the nation the compromise of Elizabeth seems to have been fairly acceptable. They saw but little change. Their old vicar or rector in almost every case remained in his parsonage and ministered in his church. The new Prayer-Book was for the most part an English rendering of the old service. Even the more zealous adherents of Catholicism held as yet that in complying with the order for 4-163]attendance at public worship "there could be nothing positively unlawful." Where party feeling ran high indeed the matter was sometimes settled by a compromise. A priest would celebrate mass at his parsonage for the more rigid Catholics, and administer the new communion in church to the more rigid Protestants. Sometimes both parties knelt together at the same altar-rails, the one to receive hosts consecrated by the priest at home after the old usage, the other wafers consecrated in church after the new. In many parishes of the north no change of service was made at all. Even where priest and people conformed it was often with a secret belief that better times were soon to bring back the older observances. As late as 1569 some of the chief parishes in Sussex were still merely bending to the storm of heresy. "In the church of Arundel certain altars do stand yet, to the offence of the godly, which murmur and speak much against the same. In the town of Battle when a preacher doth come and speak anything against the Pope's doctrine they will not abide but get them out of the church. They have yet in the diocese in many places thereof images hidden and other popish ornaments ready to set up the mass again within twenty-four hours warning. In many places they keep yet their chalices, looking to have mass again." Nor was there much new teaching as yet to stir up strife in those who 4-164]clung to the older faith. Elizabeth had no mind for controversies which would set her people by the ears. "In many churches they have no sermons, not one in seven years, and some not one in twelve." The older priests of Mary's days held their peace. The Protestant preachers were few and hampered by the exaction of licences. In many cases churches had "neither parson, vicar, nor curate, but a sorry reader." Even where the new clergy were of higher intellectual stamp they were often unpopular. Many of those who were set in the place of the displaced clergy roused disgust by their violence and greed. Chapters plundered their own estates by leases and fines and by felling timber. The marriages of the clergy became a scandal, which was increased when the gorgeous vestments of the old worship were cut up into gowns and bodices for the priests' wives. The new services sometimes turned into scenes of utter disorder where the ministers wore what dress they pleased and the communicant stood or sat as he liked; while the old altars were broken down and the communion-table was often a bare board upon trestles. Only in the few places where the more zealous of the reformers had settled was there any religious instruction. "In many places," it was reported after ten years of the Queen's rule, "the people cannot yet say their commandments, and in some not the articles of their belief." Naturally enough, 4-165]the bulk of Englishmen were found to be "utterly devoid of religion," and came to church "as to a May game."
To modern eyes the Church under Elizabeth would seem little better than a religious chaos. But England was fairly used to religious confusion, for the whole machinery of English religion had been thrown out of gear by the rapid and radical changes of the last two reigns. And to the Queen's mind a religious chaos was a far less difficulty than the parting of the nation into two warring Churches which would have been brought about by a more rigorous policy. She trusted to time to bring about greater order; and she found in Matthew Parker, whom Pole's death at the moment of her accession enabled her to raise to the See of Canterbury, an agent in the reorganization of the Church whose patience and moderation were akin to her own. To the difficulties which Parker found indeed in the temper of the reformers and their opponents new difficulties were sometimes added by the freaks of the Queen herself. If she had no convictions, she had tastes; and her taste revolted from the bareness of Protestant ritual and above all from the marriage of priests. "Leave that alone," she shouted to Dean Nowell from the royal closet as he denounced the use of images—"stick to your text, Master Dean, leave that alone!" When Parker was firm in resisting the introduction of the crucifix or of celibacy, 4-166]Elizabeth showed her resentment by an insult to his wife. Married ladies were addressed at this time as "Madam," unmarried ladies as "Mistress"; but the marriage of the clergy was still unsanctioned by law, for Elizabeth had refused to revive the statute of Edward by which it was allowed, and the position of a priest's wife was legally a very doubtful one. When Mrs. Parker therefore advanced at the close of a sumptuous entertainment at Lambeth to take leave of the Queen, Elizabeth feigned a momentary hesitation. "Madam," she said at last, "I may not call you, and Mistress I am loath to call you; however, I thank you for your good cheer." But freaks of this sort had little real weight beside the steady support which the Queen gave to the Primate in his work of order. The vacant sees were filled with men from among the exiles, for the most part learned and able, though far more Protestant than the bulk of their flocks; the plunder of the Church by the nobles was checked; and at the close of 1559 England seemed to settle quietly down in a religious peace.
But cautious as had been Elizabeth's movements and skilfully as she had hidden the real drift of her measures from the bulk of the people, the religion of England was changed. The old service was gone. The old bishops were gone. The royal supremacy was again restored. All connexion with Rome was again broken. The 4-167]repudiation of the Papacy and the restoration of the Prayer-Book in the teeth of the unanimous opposition of the priesthood had established the great principle of the Reformation, that the form of a nation's faith should be determined not by the clergy but by the nation itself. Different therefore as was the temper of the government, the religious attitude of England was once more what it had been under the Protectorate. At the most critical moment of the strife between the new religion and the old England had ranged itself on the side of Protestantism. It was only the later history of Elizabeth's reign which was to reveal of what mighty import this Protestantism of England was to prove. Had England remained Catholic the freedom of the Dutch Republic would have been impossible. No Henry the Fourth would have reigned in France to save French Protestantism by the Edict of Nantes. No struggle over far-off seas would have broken the power of Spain and baffled the hopes which the House of Austria cherished of winning a mastery over the western world. Nor could Calvinism have found a home across the northern border. The first result of the religious change in England was to give a new impulse to the religious revolution in Scotland.
In the midst of anxieties at home Elizabeth had been keenly watching the fortunes of the north. We have seen how the policy of Mary of Guise 4-168]had given life and force to the Scottish Reformation. Not only had the Regent given shelter to the exiled Protestants and looked on at the diffusion of the new doctrines, but her "fair words" had raised hopes that the government itself would join the ranks of the reformers. Mary of Guise had regarded the religious movement in a purely political light. It was as enemies of Mary Tudor that she gave shelter to the exiles, and it was to avoid a national strife which would have left Scotland open to English attack in the war which closed Mary's reign that the Regent gave "fair words" to the preachers. But with the first Covenant, with the appearance of the Lords of the Congregation in an avowed league in the heart of the land, with their rejection of the state worship and their resolve to enforce a change of religion, her attitude suddenly altered. To the Regent the new religion was henceforth but a garb under which the old quarrel of the nobles was breaking out anew against the Crown. Smooth as were her words, men knew that Mary of Guise was resolute to withstand religious change. But Elizabeth's elevation to the throne gave a new fire to the reformers. Conservative as her earlier policy seemed, the instinct of the Protestants told them that the new Queen's accession was a triumph for Protestantism. The Lords at once demanded that all bishops should be chosen by the nobles and gentry, each priest by 4-169]his parish, and that divine service should be henceforth in the vulgar tongue. These demands were rejected by the bishops, while the royal court in May 1559 summoned the preachers to its bar and on their refusal to appear condemned them to banishment as rebels. The sentence was a signal for open strife. The Protestants, whose strength as yet lay mainly in Fife, had gathered in great numbers at Perth, and the news stirred them to an outbreak of fury. The images were torn down from the churches, the monasteries of the town were sacked and demolished. The riot at Perth was followed by a general rising. The work of destruction went on along the east coast and through the Lowlands, while the "Congregation" sprang up everywhere in its train. The Mass came to an end. The Prayer-Book of Edward was heard in the churches. The Lords occupied the capital and found its burghers as zealous in the cause of reformation as themselves. Throughout all these movements the Lords had been in communication with England, for the old jealousy of English annexation was now lost in a jealousy of French conquest. Their jealousy had solid grounds. The marriage of Mary Stuart with the Dauphin of France had been celebrated in April 1558 and three days before the wedding the girl-queen had been brought to convey her kingdom away by deed to the House of Valois. The deed was kept secret; but Mary's demand 4-170]of the crown matrimonial for her husband roused suspicions. It was known that the government of Scotland was discussed at the French council-board, and whispers came of a suggestion that the kingdom should be turned into an appanage for a younger son of the French king. Meanwhile French money was sent to the Regent, a body of French troops served as her bodyguard, and on the advance of the Lords in arms the French Court promised her the support of a larger army.
Scotland and Elizabeth.
Against these schemes of the French Court the Scotch Lords saw no aid save in Elizabeth. Their aim was to drive the Frenchmen out of Scotland; and this could only be done by help both in money and men from England. Nor was the English Council slow to promise help. To Elizabeth indeed the need of supporting rebels against their sovereign was a bitter one. The need of establishing a Calvinistic Church on her frontier was yet bitterer. It was not a material force which upheld the fabric of the monarchy, as it had been built up by the Houses of York and of Tudor, but a moral force. England held that safety against anarchy within and against attacks on the national independence from without was to be found in the Crown alone, and that obedience to the Crown was the first element of national order and national greatness. In their religious reforms the Tudor sovereigns had aimed at giving 4-171]a religious sanction to the power which sprang from this general conviction, and at hallowing their secular supremacy by blending with it their supremacy over the Church. Against such a theory, either of Church or State, Calvinism was an emphatic protest, and in aiding Calvinism to establish itself in Scotland the Queen felt that she was dealing a heavy blow to her political and religious system at home. But, struggle as she might against the necessity, she had no choice but to submit. The assumption by Francis and Mary of the style of king and queen of England, the express reservation of this claim, even in the treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis, made a French occupation of Scotland a matter of life and death to the kingdom over the border. The English Council believed "that the French mean, after their forces are brought into Scotland, first to conquer it,—which will be neither hard nor long—and next that they and the Scots will invade this realm." They were soon pressed to decide on their course. The Regent used her money to good purpose, and at the approach of her forces the Lords withdrew from Edinburgh to the west. At the end of August two thousand French soldiers landed at Leith, as the advance guard of the promised forces, and entrenched themselves strongly. It was in vain that the Lords again appeared in the field, demanded the withdrawal of the foreigners, and threatened Mary of Guise 4-172]that as she would no longer hold them for her counsellors "we also will no longer acknowledge you as our Regent." They were ordered to disperse as traitors, beaten off from the fortifications of Leith, and attacked by the French troops in Fife itself.
The Lords called loudly for aid from the English Queen. To give such assistance would have seemed impossible but twelve months back. But the appeal of the Scots found a different England from that which had met Elizabeth on her accession. The Queen's diplomacy had gained her a year, and her matchless activity had used the year to good purpose. Order was restored throughout England, the Church was reorganized, the debts of the Crown were in part paid off, the treasury was recruited, a navy created, and a force made ready for action in the north. Neither religiously nor politically indeed had Elizabeth any sympathy with the Scotch Lords. Knox was to her simply a firebrand of rebellion; her political instinct shrank from the Scotch Calvinism with its protest against the whole English system of government, whether in Church or State; and as a Queen she hated revolt. But the danger forced her hand. Elizabeth was ready to act, and to act even in the defiance of France. As yet she stood almost alone in her self-reliance. Spain believed her ruin to be certain. Her challenge would bring war with France, and in a war with France the Spanish 4-173]statesmen held that only their master's intervention could save her. "For our own sake," said one of Philip's ministers, "we must take as much care of England as of the Low Countries." But that such a care would be needed Granvelle never doubted; and Philip's councillors solemnly debated whether it might not be well to avoid the risk of a European struggle by landing the six thousand men whom Philip was now withdrawing from the Netherlands on the English shore, and coercing Elizabeth into quietness. France meanwhile despised her chances. Her very Council was in despair. The one minister in whom she dared to confide throughout these Scotch negotiations was Cecil, the youngest and boldest of her advisers, and even Cecil trembled for her success. The Duke of Norfolk refused at first to take command of the force destined as he held for a desperate enterprise. Arundel, the leading peer among the Catholics, denounced the supporters of a Scottish war as traitors. But lies and hesitation were no sooner put aside than the Queen's vigour and tenacity came fairly into play. In January 1560, at a moment when D'Oysel, the French commander, was on the point of crushing the Lords of the Congregation, an English fleet appeared suddenly in the Forth and forced the Regent's army to fall back upon Leith.
The Huguenot rising.
Here however it again made an easy stand against the Protestant attacks, and at the close of February the Queen was driven to make a formal 4-174]treaty with the Lords by which she promised to assist them in the expulsion of the strangers. The treaty was a bold defiance of the power from whom Elizabeth had been glad to buy peace only a year before, even by the sacrifice of Calais. But the Queen had little fear of a counter-blow from France. The Reformation was fighting for her on the one side of the sea as on the other. From the outset of her reign the rapid growth of the Huguenots in France had been threatening a strife between the old religion and the new. It was to gird himself for such a struggle that Henry the Second concluded the treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis; and though Henry's projects were foiled by his death, the Duke of Guise, who ruled his successor, Francis the Second, pressed on yet more bitterly the work of persecution. It was believed that he had sworn to exterminate "those of the religion." But the Huguenots were in no mood to bear extermination. Their Protestantism, like that of the Scots, was the Protestantism of Calvin. As they grew in numbers, their churches formed themselves on the model of Geneva, and furnished in their synods and assemblies a political as well as a religious organization; while the doctrine of resistance even to kings, if kings showed themselves enemies to God, found ready hearers, whether among the turbulent French noblesse, or among the traders of the towns who were stirred to new dreams of constitutional freedom. Theories 4-175]of liberty or of resistance to the crown were as abhorrent to Elizabeth as to the Guises, but again necessity swept her into the current of Calvinism. She was forced to seize on the religious disaffection of France as a check on the dreams of aggression which Francis and Mary had shown in assuming the style of English Sovereigns. The English ambassador, Throckmorton, fed the alarms of the Huguenots and pressed them to take up arms. It is probable that the Huguenot plot which broke out in the March of 1560 in an attempt to surprise the French Court at Amboise was known beforehand by Cecil; and, though the conspiracy was ruthlessly suppressed, the Queen drew fresh courage from a sense that the Guises had henceforth work for their troops at home.
Treaty of Edinburgh.
At the end of March therefore Lord Grey pushed over the border with 8000 men to join the Lords of the Congregation in the siege of Leith. The Scots gave little aid; and an assault on the town signally failed. Philip too in a sudden jealousy of Elizabeth's growing strength demanded the abandonment of the enterprise, and offered to warrant England against any attack from the north if its forces were withdrawn. But eager as Elizabeth was to preserve Philip's alliance, she preferred to be her own security. She knew that the Spanish king could not abandon her while Mary Stuart was queen of France, and that at the moment of his remonstrances Philip was menacing the Guises 4-176]with war if they carried out their project of bringing about a Catholic rising by a descent on the English coast. Nor were the threats of the French Court more formidable. The bloody repression of the conspiracy of Amboise had only fired the temper of the Huguenots; southern and western France were on the verge of revolt; the House of Bourbon had adopted the reformed faith, and put itself at the head of the Protestant movement. In the face of dangers such as these the Guises could send to Leith neither money nor men. Elizabeth therefore remained immoveable while famine did its work on the town. At the crisis of the siege the death of Mary of Guise threw the direct rule over Scotland into the hands of Francis and Mary Stuart; and the exhaustion of the garrison forced the two sovereigns to purchase its liberation by two treaties which their envoys concluded at Edinburgh in June 1560. That with the Scotch pledged them to withdraw for ever the French from the realm, and left the government of Scotland to a Council of the Lords. The treaty with England was a more difficult matter. Francis and Mary had forbidden their envoys to sign any engagement with Elizabeth as to the Scottish realm, or to consent to any abandonment of their claims on the royal style of England. It was only after long debate that Cecil wrested from them the acknowledgement that the realms of England and Ireland of right appertained to Elizabeth, and 4-177]a vague clause by which the French sovereigns promised the English Queen that they would fulfil their pledges to the Scots.
Stubborn however as was the resistance of the French envoys the signature of the treaty proclaimed Elizabeth's success. The issue of the Scotch war revealed suddenly to Europe the vigour of the Queen and the strength of her throne. What her ability really was no one, save Cecil, had as yet suspected. There was little indeed in her outward demeanour to give any indication of her greatness. To the world about her the temper of Elizabeth recalled in its strange contrasts the mixed blood within her veins. She was at once a daughter of Henry and of Anne Boleyn. From her father she inherited her frank and hearty address, her love of popularity and of free intercourse with the people, her dauntless courage and her amazing self-confidence. Her harsh, manlike voice, her impetuous will, her pride, her furious outbursts of anger came to her with her Tudor blood. She rated great nobles as if they were schoolboys; she met the insolence of Lord Essex with a box on the ear; she broke now and then into the gravest deliberations to swear at her ministers like a fishwife. Strangely in contrast with these violent outlines of her father's temper stood the sensuous, self-indulgent nature she drew from Anne Boleyn. Splendour and pleasure were with Elizabeth the very air she breathed. Her 4-178]delight was to move in perpetual progresses from castle to castle through a series of gorgeous pageants, fanciful and extravagant as a caliph's dream. She loved gaiety and laughter and wit. A happy retort or a finished compliment never failed to win her favour. She hoarded jewels. Her dresses were innumerable. Her vanity remained, even to old age, the vanity of a coquette in her teens. No adulation was too fulsome for her, no flattery of her beauty too gross. She would play with her rings that her courtiers might note the delicacy of her hands; or dance a coranto that an ambassador, hidden dexterously behind a curtain, might report her sprightliness to his master. Her levity, her frivolous laughter, her unwomanly jests gave colour to a thousand scandals. Her character in fact, like her portraits, was utterly without shade. Of womanly reserve or self-restraint she knew nothing. No instinct of delicacy veiled the voluptuous temper which broke out in the romps of her girlhood and showed itself almost ostentatiously through her later life. Personal beauty in a man was a sure passport to her liking. She patted handsome young squires on the neck when they knelt to kiss her hand, and fondled her "sweet Robin," Lord Leicester, in the face of the Court.
It was no wonder that the statesmen whom she outwitted held Elizabeth to be little more than a frivolous woman, or that Philip of Spain wondered 4-179]how "a wanton" could hold in check the policy of the Escurial. But the Elizabeth whom they saw was far from being all of Elizabeth. Wilfulness and triviality played over the surface of a nature hard as steel, a temper purely intellectual, the very type of reason untouched by imagination or passion. Luxurious and pleasure-loving as she seemed, the young Queen lived simply and frugally, and she worked hard. Her vanity and caprice had no weight whatever with her in state affairs. The coquette of the presence-chamber became the coolest and hardest of politicians at the council-board. Fresh from the flattery of her courtiers, she would tolerate no flattery in the closet; she was herself plain and downright of speech with her counsellors, and she looked for a corresponding plainness of speech in return. The very choice of her advisers indeed showed Elizabeth's ability. She had a quick eye for merit of any sort, and a wonderful power of enlisting its whole energy in her service. The sagacity which chose Cecil and Walsingham was just as unerring in its choice of the meanest of her agents. Her success indeed in securing from the beginning of her reign to its end, with the single exception of Leicester, precisely the right men for the work she set them to do sprang in great measure from the noblest characteristic of her intellect. If in loftiness of aim the Queen's temper fell below many of the tempers of her time, in the breadth of its range, in the 4-180]universality of its sympathy it stood far above them all. Elizabeth could talk poetry with Spenser and philosophy with Bruno; she could discuss Euphuism with Lilly, and enjoy the chivalry of Essex; she could turn from talk of the last fashions to pore with Cecil over despatches and treasury books; she could pass from tracking traitors with Walsingham to settle points of doctrine with Parker, or to calculate with Frobisher the chances of a north-west passage to the Indies. The versatility and many-sidedness of her mind enabled her to understand every phase of the intellectual movement about her, and to fix by a sort of instinct on its higher representatives.
It was only on its intellectual side indeed that Elizabeth touched the England of her day. All its moral aspects were simply dead to her. It was a time when men were being lifted into nobleness by the new moral energy which seemed suddenly to pulse through the whole people, when honour and enthusiasm took colours of poetic beauty, and religion became a chivalry. But the finer sentiments of the men about her touched Elizabeth simply as the fair tints of a picture would have touched her. She made her market with equal indifference out of the heroism of William of Orange or the bigotry of Philip. The noblest aims and lives were only counters on her board. She was the one soul in her realm whom the news of St. Bartholomew stirred to no 4-181]thirst for vengeance; and while England was thrilling with the triumph over the Armada, its Queen was coolly grumbling over the cost, and making her profit out of the spoiled provisions she had ordered for the fleet that saved her. No womanly sympathy bound her even to those who stood closest to her life. She loved Leicester indeed; she was grateful to Cecil. But for the most part she was deaf to the voices either of love or gratitude. She accepted such services as were never rendered to any other English sovereign without a thought of return. Walsingham spent his fortune in saving her life and her throne, and she left him to die a beggar. But, as if by a strange irony, it was to this very lack of womanly sympathy that she owed some of the grandest features of her character. If she was without love she was without hate. She cherished no petty resentments; she never stooped to envy or suspicion of the men who served her. She was indifferent to abuse. Her good humour was never ruffled by the charges of wantonness and cruelty with which the Jesuits filled every Court in Europe. She was insensible to fear. Her life became at last a mark for assassin after assassin, but the thought of peril was the thought hardest to bring home to her. Even when Catholic plots broke out in her very household she would listen to no proposals for the removal of Catholics from her court.
If any trace of her sex lingered in the Queen's actual statesmanship, it was seen in the simplicity and tenacity of purpose that often underlies a woman's fluctuations of feeling. It was the directness and steadiness of her aims which gave her her marked superiority over the statesmen of her time. No nobler group of ministers ever gathered round a council-board than those who gathered round the council-board of Elizabeth. But she was the instrument of none. She listened, she weighed, she used or put by the counsels of each in turn, but her policy as a whole was her own. It was a policy, not of genius, but of good sense. Her aims were simple and obvious: to preserve her throne, to keep England out of war, to restore civil and religious order. Something of womanly caution and timidity perhaps backed the passionless indifference with which she set aside the larger schemes of ambition which were ever opening before her eyes. In later days she was resolute in her refusal of the Low Countries. She rejected with a laugh the offers of the Protestants to make her "head of the religion" and "mistress of the seas." But her amazing success in the end sprang mainly from this wise limitation of her aims. She had a finer sense than any of her counsellors of her real resources; she knew instinctively how far she could go and what she could do. Her cold, critical intellect was never swayed by enthusiasm or by panic either to 4-183]exaggerate or to underestimate her risks or her power. Of political wisdom indeed in its larger and more generous sense Elizabeth had little or none; but her political tact was unerring. She seldom saw her course at a glance, but she played with a hundred courses, fitfully and discursively, as a musician runs his fingers over the keyboard, till she hit suddenly upon the right one. Her nature was essentially practical and of the present. She distrusted a plan in fact just in proportion to its speculative range or its outlook into the future. Her notion of statesmanship lay in watching how things turned out around her, and in seizing the moment for making the best of them.
Such a policy as this, limited, practical, tentative as it always was, had little of grandeur and originality about it; it was apt indeed to degenerate into mere trickery and finesse. But it was a policy suited to the England of her day, to its small resources and the transitional character of its religious and political belief, and it was eminently suited to Elizabeth's peculiar powers. It was a policy of detail, and in details her wonderful readiness and ingenuity found scope for their exercise. "No War, my Lords," the Queen used to cry imperiously at the council-board, "No War!" but her hatred of war sprang not so much from aversion to blood or to expense, real as was her aversion to both, as from the fact that peace left the field open to the diplomatic manœuvres 4-184]and intrigues in which she excelled. Her delight in the consciousness of her ingenuity broke out in a thousand puckish freaks, freaks in which one can hardly see any purpose beyond the purpose of sheer mystification. She revelled in "bye-ways" and "crooked ways." She played with grave cabinets as a cat plays with a mouse, and with much of the same feline delight in the mere embarrassment of her victims. When she was weary of mystifying foreign statesmen she turned to find fresh sport in mystifying her own ministers. Had Elizabeth written the story of her reign she would have prided herself, not on the triumph of England or the ruin of Spain, but on the skill with which she had hoodwinked and outwitted every statesman in Europe during fifty years. Nothing is more revolting, but nothing is more characteristic of the Queen, than her shameless mendacity. It was an age of political lying, but in the profusion and recklessness of her lies Elizabeth stood without a peer in Christendom. A falsehood was to her simply an intellectual means of meeting a difficulty; and the ease with which she asserted or denied whatever suited her purpose was only equalled by the cynical indifference with which she met the exposure of her lies as soon as their purpose was answered. Her trickery in fact had its political value. Ignoble and wearisome as the Queen's diplomacy seems to us now, tracking it as we do through a thousand despatches, it 4-185]succeeded in its main end, for it gained time, and every year that was gained doubled Elizabeth's strength. She made as dexterous a use of the foibles of her temper. Her levity carried her gaily over moments of detection and embarrassment where better women would have died of shame. She screened her tentative and hesitating statesmanship under the natural timidity and vacillation of her sex. She turned her very luxury and sports to good account. There were moments of grave danger in her reign when the country remained indifferent to its perils, as it saw the Queen give her days to hawking and hunting, and her nights to dancing and plays. Her vanity and affectation, her womanly fickleness and caprice, all had their part in the diplomatic comedies she played with the successive candidates for her hand. If political necessities made her life a lonely one, she had at any rate the satisfaction of averting war and conspiracies by love sonnets and romantic interviews, or of gaining a year of tranquillity by the dexterous spinning out of a flirtation.
As we track Elizabeth through her tortuous mazes of lying and intrigue, the sense of her greatness is almost lost in a sense of contempt. But, wrapped as they were in a cloud of mystery, the aims of her policy were throughout temperate and simple, and they were pursued with a rare tenacity. The sudden acts of energy which from 4-186]time to time broke her habitual hesitation proved that it was no hesitation of weakness. Elizabeth could wait and finesse; but when the hour was come she could strike, and strike hard. Her natural temper indeed tended to a rash self-confidence rather than to self-distrust. "I have the heart of a King," she cried at a moment of utter peril, and it was with a kingly unconsciousness of the dangers about her that she fronted them for fifty years. She had, as strong natures always have, an unbounded confidence in her luck. "Her Majesty counts much on Fortune," Walsingham wrote bitterly; "I wish she would trust more in Almighty God." The diplomatists who censured at one moment her irresolution, her delay, her changes of front, censure at the next her "obstinacy," her iron will, her defiance of what seemed to them inevitable ruin. "This woman," Philip's envoy wrote after a wasted remonstrance, "this woman is possessed by a hundred thousand devils." To her own subjects, who knew nothing of her manœuvres and flirtations, of her "bye-ways" and "crooked ways," she seemed the embodiment of dauntless resolution. Brave as they were, the men who swept the Spanish Main or glided between the icebergs of Baffin's Bay never doubted that the palm of bravery lay with their Queen.
Catharine of Medicis.
It was this dauntless courage which backed Elizabeth's good luck in the Scottish war. The 4-187]issue of the war wholly changed her position at home and abroad. Not only had she liberated herself from the control of Philip and successfully defied the threats of the Guises, but at a single blow she had freed England from what had been its sorest danger for two hundred years. She had broken the dependence of Scotland upon France. That perpetual peace between England and the Scots which the policy of the Tudors had steadily aimed at was at last sworn in the Treaty of Edinburgh. If the Queen had not bound to her all Scotland, she had bound to her the strongest and most vigorous party among the nobles of the north. The Lords of the Congregation promised to be obedient to Elizabeth in all such matters as might not lead to the overthrow of their country's rights or of Scottish liberties. They were bound to her not only by the war but by the events that followed the war. A Parliament at Edinburgh accepted the Calvinistic confession of Geneva as the religion of Scotland, abolished the temporal jurisdiction of the bishops, and prohibited the celebration of the Mass. The Act and the Treaty were alike presented for confirmation to Francis and Mary. They were roughly put aside, for the French king would give no sanction to a successful revolt, and Mary had no mind to waive her claim to the English throne. But from action the two sovereigns were held back by the troubles in France. It was in 4-188]vain that the Guises strove to restore political and religious unity by an assembly of the French notables: the notables met only to receive a demand for freedom of worship from the Huguenots of the west, and to force the Government to promise a national council for the settlement of the religious disputes as well as a gathering of the States-General. The counsellors of Francis resolved to anticipate this meeting by a sudden stroke at the heretics; and as a preliminary step the chiefs of the House of Bourbon were seized at the court and the Prince of Condé threatened with death. The success of this measure roused anew the wrath of the young king at the demands of the Scots, and at the close of 1560 Francis was again nursing plans of vengeance on the Lords of the Congregation. But Elizabeth's good fortune still proved true to her. The projects of the Guises were suddenly foiled by the young king's death. The power of Mary Stuart and her kindred came to an end, for the childhood of Charles the Ninth gave the regency over France to the queen-mother, Catharine of Medicis, and the policy of Catharine secured England and Scotland alike from danger of attack. Her temper, like that of Elizabeth, was a purely political temper; her aim was to balance Catholics against Protestants to the profit of the throne. She needed peace abroad to preserve this political and religious balance at home, and though she made 4-189]some fruitless efforts to renew the old friendship with Scotland, she had no mind to intrigue like the Guises with the English Catholics nor to back Mary Stuart's pretensions to the English throne.
With Scotland as an ally and with France at peace Elizabeth's throne at last seemed secure. The outbreak of the strife between the Old Faith and the New indeed, if it gave the Queen safety abroad, somewhat weakened her at home. The sense of a religious change which her caution had done so much to disguise broke slowly on England as it saw the Queen allying herself with Scotch Calvinists and French Huguenots; and the compromise she had hoped to establish in matters of worship became hourly less possible as the more earnest Catholics discerned the Protestant drift of Elizabeth's policy. But Philip still held them back from any open resistance. There was much indeed to move him from his old support of the Queen. The widowhood of Mary Stuart freed him from his dread of a permanent annexation of Scotland by France as well as of a French annexation of England, while the need of holding England as a check on French hostility to the House of Austria grew weaker as the outbreak of civil war between the Guises and their opponents rendered French hostility less possible. Elizabeth's support of the Huguenots drove the Spanish king to a burst of passion. A Protestant France 4-190]not only outraged his religious bigotry, but, as he justly feared, it would give an impulse to heresy throughout his possessions in the Netherlands which would make it hard to keep his hold upon them. Philip noted that the success of the Scotch Calvinists had been followed by the revolt of the Calvinists in France. He could hardly doubt that the success of the French Huguenots would be followed by a rising of the Calvinists in the Low Countries. "Religion" he told Elizabeth angrily "was being made a cloak for anarchy and revolution." But, vexed as Philip was with her course both abroad and at home, he was still far from withdrawing his support from Elizabeth. Even now he could not look upon the Queen as lost to Catholicism. He knew how her course both at home and abroad had been forced on her not by religious enthusiasm but by political necessity, and he still "trusted that ere long God would give us either a general council or a good Pope who would correct abuses and then all would go well. That God would allow so noble and Christian a realm as England to break away from Christendom and run the risk of perdition he could not believe."
Pius the Fourth.
What was needed, Philip thought, was a change of policy in the Papacy. The bigotry of Paul the Fourth had driven England from the obedience of the Roman See. The gentler policy of Pius the Fourth might yet restore her to it. Pius was as 4-191]averse from any break with Elizabeth as Philip was. He censured bitterly the harshness of his predecessor. The loss of Scotland and the threatened loss of France he laid to the charge of the wars which Paul had stirred up against Philip and which had opened a way for the spread of Calvinism in both kingdoms. England, he held, could have been easily preserved for Catholicism but for Paul's rejection of the conciliatory efforts of Pole. When he ascended the Papal throne at the end of 1559 indeed the accession of England to the Reformation seemed complete. The royal supremacy was re-established: the Mass abolished: the English Liturgy restored. A new episcopate, drawn from the Calvinistic refugees, was being gathered round Matthew Parker. But Pius would not despair. He saw no reason why England should not again be Catholic. He knew that the bulk of its people clung to the older religion, if they clung also to independence of the Papal jurisdiction and to the secularization of the Abbey-lands. The Queen, as he believed, had been ready for a compromise at her accession, and he was ready to make terms with her now. In the spring of 1560 therefore he despatched Parpaglia, a follower of Pole, to open negotiations with Elizabeth. The moment which the Pope had chosen was a critical one for the Queen. She was in the midst of the Scotch war, and her forces had just been repulsed in an attempt to storm the 4-192]walls of Leith. Such a repulse woke fears of conspiracy among the Catholic nobles of the northern border, and a refusal to receive the legate would have driven them to an open rising. On the other hand the reception of Parpaglia would have alienated the Protestants, shaken the trust of the Lords of the Congregation in the Queen's support, and driven them to make terms with Francis and Mary. In either case Scotland fell again under the rule of France, and the throne of Elizabeth was placed in greater peril than ever. So great was the Queen's embarrassment that she availed herself of Cecil's absence in the north to hold out hopes of the legate's admission to the realm and her own reconciliation with the Papacy. But she was freed from these difficulties by the resolute intervention of Philip. If he disapproved of her policy in Scotland he had no mind that Scotland should become wholly French or Elizabeth be really shaken on her throne. He ordered the legate therefore to be detained in Flanders till his threats had obtained from the Pope an order for his recall.
The Council of Trent.
But Pius was far from abandoning his hopes. After ten years suspension he had again summoned the Council of Trent. The cry for Church reform, the threat of national synods in Spain and in France, forced this measure on the Pope; and Pius availed himself of the assembly of the Council to make a fresh attempt to turn the tide 4-193]of the Reformation and to win back the Protestant Churches to Catholicism. He called therefore on the Lutheran princes of Germany to send doctors to the Council, and in May 1561, eight months after Parpaglia's failure, despatched a fresh nuncio, Martinengo, to invite Elizabeth to send ambassadors to Trent. Philip pressed for the nuncio's admission to the realm. His hopes of the Queen's return to the faith were now being fed by a new marriage-negotiation; for on the withdrawal of the Archduke of Austria in sheer weariness of Elizabeth's treachery, she had encouraged her old playfellow, Lord Robert Dudley, to hope for her hand and to amuse Philip by pledges of bringing back "the religion," should the help of the Spanish king enable him to win it. Philip gave his help, but Dudley remained a suitor, and the hopes of a Catholic revolution became fainter than ever. The Queen would suffer no landing of a legate in her realm. The invitation to the Council fared no better. The Lutheran states of North Germany had already refused to attend. The Council, they held, was no longer a council of reunion. In its earlier session it had formally condemned the very doctrine on which Protestantism was based; and to join it now would simply be to undo all that Luther had done. Elizabeth showed as little hesitation. The hour of her triumph, when a Calvinistic Scotland and a Calvinistic France proved the mainstays of her 4-194]policy, was no hour of submission to the Papacy. In spite of Philip's entreaties she refused to send envoys to what was not "a free Christian Council." The refusal was decisive in marking Elizabeth's position. The long period of hesitation, of drift, was over. All chance of submission to the Papacy was at an end. In joining the Lutheran states in their rejection of this Council, England had definitely ranged itself on the side of the Reformation.
The English Catholics.
What had hitherto kept the bulk of Elizabeth's subjects from opposition to her religious system was a disbelief in its permanence. Englishmen had seen English religion changed too often to believe that it would change no more. When the Commissioners forced a Protestant ritual on St. John's College at Oxford, its founder, Sir Thomas White, simply took away its vestments and crucifixes, and hid them in his house for the better times that every zealous Catholic trusted would have their turn. They believed that a Catholic marriage would at once bring such a turn about; and if Elizabeth dismissed the offer of Philip's hand she played long and assiduously with that of a son of the Emperor, an archduke of the same Austrian house. But the alliance with the Scotch heretics proved a rough blow to this trust: and after the repulse at Leith there were whispers 4-196]that the two great Catholic nobles of the border, the Earls of Northumberland and Westmoreland, were only waiting for the failure of the Scotch enterprise to rise on behalf of the older faith. Whatever their projects were, they were crushed by the Queen's success. With the Lords of the Congregation masters across the border the northern Earls lay helpless between the two Protestant realms. In the mass of men loyalty was still too strong for any dream of revolt; but there was a growing uneasiness lest they should find themselves heretics after all, which the failure of the Austrian match and the help given to the Huguenots was fanning into active discontent. It was this which gave such weight to the Queen's rejection of the summons to Trent. Whatever colour she might strive to put upon it, the bulk of her subjects accepted the refusal as a final break with Catholicism, as a final close to all hope of their reunion with the Catholic Church.
The Catholic disaffection which the Queen was henceforth to regard as her greatest danger was thus growing into life when in August 1561, but a few months after the Queen's refusal to acknowledge the Council, Mary Stuart landed at Leith. Girl as she was, and she was only nineteen, Mary was hardly inferior in intellectual power to Elizabeth herself, while in fire and grace and brilliancy of temper she stood high above her. She brought with her the voluptuous refinement of the French 4-197]Renascence; she would lounge for days in bed, and rise only at night for dances and music. But her frame was of iron, and incapable of fatigue; she galloped ninety miles after her last defeat without a pause save to change horses. She loved risk and adventure and the ring of arms; as she rode in a foray to the north the swordsmen beside her heard her wish she was a man "to know what life it was to lie all night in the fields, or to walk on the cawsey with a jack and knapschalle, a Glasgow buckler and a broadsword." But in the closet she was as cool and astute a politician as Elizabeth herself; with plans as subtle, and of a far wider and bolder range than the Queen's. "Whatever policy is in all the chief and best practised heads of France," wrote an English envoy, "whatever craft, falsehood, and deceit is in all the subtle brains of Scotland, is either fresh in this woman's memory, or she can fetch it out with a wet finger." Her beauty, her exquisite grace of manner, her generosity of temper and warmth of affection, her frankness of speech, her sensibility, her gaiety, her womanly tears, her manlike courage, the play and freedom of her nature, the flashes of poetry that broke from her at every intense moment of her life, flung a spell over friend or foe which has only deepened with the lapse of years. Even to Knollys, the sternest Puritan of his day, she seemed in her later captivity to be "a notable woman." "She seemeth to regard no ceremonious 4-198]honour besides the acknowledgement of her estate royal. She showeth a disposition to speak much, to be bold, to be pleasant, to be very familiar. She showeth a great desire to be avenged on her enemies. She showeth a readiness to expose herself to all perils in hope of victory. She desireth much to hear of hardiness and valiancy, commending by name all approved hardy men of her country though they be her enemies, and she concealeth no cowardice even in her friends."
Of the stern bigotry, the intensity of passion, which lay beneath the winning surface of Mary's womanhood, men as yet knew nothing. But they at once recognized her political ability. Till now she had proved in her own despite a powerful friend to the Reformation. It was her claim of the English crown which had seated Elizabeth on the throne, had thrown her on the support of the Protestants, and had secured to the Queen in the midst of her religious changes the protection of Philip of Spain. It was the dread of Mary's ambition which had forced Elizabeth to back the Lords of the Congregation, and the dread of her husband's ambition which had driven Scotland to throw aside its jealousy of England and ally itself with the Queen. But with the death of Francis Mary's position had wholly changed. She had no longer the means of carrying out her husband's threats of crushing the Lords of the Congregation by force of arms. The forces of France were in 4-199]the hands of Catharine of Medicis; and Catharine was parted from her both by her dread of the Guises and by a personal hate. Yet the attitude of the Lords became every day more threatening. They were pressing Elizabeth to marry the Earl of Arran, a chief of the house of Hamilton and near heir to the throne, a marriage which pointed to the complete exclusion of Mary from her realm. Even when this project failed, they rejected with stern defiance the young Queen's proposal of restoring the old religion as a condition of her return. If they invited her to Scotland, it was in the name of the Parliament which had set up Calvinism as the law of the land. Bitter as such terms must have been Mary had no choice but to submit to them. To accept the offer of the Catholic Lords of Northern Scotland with the Earl of Huntly at their head, who proposed to welcome her in arms as a champion of Catholicism, was to risk a desperate civil war, a war which would in any case defeat a project far dearer to her than her plans for winning Scotland, the project she was nursing of winning the English realm. In the first months of her widowhood therefore her whole attitude was reversed. She received the leader of the Protestant Lords, her half-brother, Lord James Stuart, at her court. She showed her favour to him by creating him Earl of Murray. She adopted his policy of accepting the religious changes in Scotland and of bringing Elizabeth by friendly pressure to acknowledge 4-200]her right, not of reigning in her stead, but of following her on the throne. But while thus in form adopting Murray's policy, Mary at heart was resolute to carry out her own policy too. If she must win the Scots by submitting to a Protestant system in Scotland, she would rally round her the English Catholics by remaining a Catholic herself. If she ceased to call herself Queen of England and only pressed for her acknowledgement as rightful successor to Elizabeth, she would not formally abandon her claim to reign as rightful Queen in Elizabeth's stead. Above all she would give her compliance with Murray's counsels no legal air. No pressure either from her brother or from Elizabeth could bring the young Queen to give her royal confirmation to the Parliamentary Acts which established the new religion in Scotland, or her signature to the Treaty of Edinburgh. In spite of her habitual caution the bold words which broke from Mary Stuart on Elizabeth's refusal of a safe conduct betrayed her hopes. "I came to France in spite of her brother's opposition," she said, "and I will return in spite of her own. She has combined with rebel subjects of mine: but there are rebel subjects in England too who would gladly listen to a call from me. I am a queen as well as she, and not altogether friendless. And perhaps I have as great a soul too!"
She saw indeed the new strength which was given her by her husband's death. Her cause was 4-201]no longer hampered, either in Scotland or in England, by a national jealousy of French interference. It was with a resolve to break the league between Elizabeth and the Scotch Protestants, to unite her own realm around her, and thus to give a firm base for her intrigues among the English Catholics, that Mary Stuart landed at Leith. The effect of her presence was marvellous. Her personal fascination revived the national loyalty, and swept all Scotland to her feet. Knox, the greatest and sternest of the Calvinistic preachers, alone withstood her spell. The rough Scotch nobles owned that there was in Mary "some enchantment whereby men are bewitched." It was clear indeed from the first that, loyal as Scotland might be, its loyalty would be of little service to the Queen if she attacked the new religion. At her entry into Edinburgh the children of the pageant presented her with a Bible and "made some speech concerning the putting away of the Mass, and thereafter sang a psalm." It was only with difficulty that Murray won for her the right of celebrating Mass at her court. But for the religious difficulty Mary was prepared. While steadily abstaining from any legal confirmation of the new faith, and claiming for her French followers freedom of Catholic worship, she denounced any attempt to meddle with the form of religion she found existing in the realm. Such a toleration was little likely to satisfy the more fanatical among the ministers; but even 4-202]Knox was content with her promise "to hear the preaching," and brought his brethren to a conclusion, as "she might be won," "to suffer her for a time." If the preachers indeed maintained that the Queen's liberty of worship "should be their thraldom," the bulk of the nation was content with Mary's acceptance of the religious state of the realm. Nor was it distasteful to the secular leaders of the reforming party. The Protestant Lords preferred their imperfect work to the more complete reformation which Knox and his fellows called for. They had no mind to adopt the whole Calvinistic system. They had adopted the Genevan Confession of Faith; but they rejected a book of discipline which would have organized the Church on the Huguenot model. All demands for restitution of the church property which they were pillaging they set aside as a "fond imagination." The new ministers remained poor and dependent, while noble after noble was hanging an abbot to seize his estates in forfeiture, or roasting a commendator to wring from him a grant of abbey-lands in fee.
Mary and Elizabeth.
The attitude of the Lords favoured the Queen's designs. She was in effect bartering her toleration of their religion in exchange for her reception in Scotland and for their support of her claim to be named Elizabeth's successor. With Mary's landing at Leith the position of the English Queen had suddenly changed. Her work seemed utterly undone. The national unity for which she was struggling 4-203]was broken. The presence of Mary woke the party of the old faith to fresh hopes and a fresh activity, while it roused a fresh fear and fanaticism in the party of the new. Scotland, where Elizabeth's influence had seemed supreme, was struck from her hands. Not only was it no longer a support; it was again a danger; for loyalty, national pride, a just and statesmanlike longing for union with England, united her northern subjects round the Scottish Queen in her claim to be recognized as Elizabeth's successor, and even Murray counted on Elizabeth's consent to this claim to bring Mary into full harmony with his policy, and to preserve the alliance between England and Scotland. But the question of the succession, like the question of her marriage, was with Elizabeth a question of life and death. Her wedding with a Catholic or a Protestant suitor would have been equally the end of her system of balance and national union, a signal for the revolt of the party which she disappointed and for the triumphant dictation of the party which she satisfied. "If a Catholic prince come here," wrote a Spanish ambassador while pressing her marriage with an Austrian archduke, "the first Mass he attends will be the signal for a revolt." It was so with the question of the succession. To name a Protestant successor from the House of Suffolk would have driven every Catholic to insurrection. To name Mary was to stir Protestantism to a rising of despair, and to leave 4-204]Elizabeth at the mercy of every fanatical assassin who wished to clear the way for a Catholic ruler. Yet to leave both unrecognized was to secure the hostility of both, as well as the discontent of the people at large, who looked on the settlement of the succession as the primary need of their national life. From the moment of Mary's landing therefore Elizabeth found herself thrown again on an attitude of self-defence. Every course of direct action was closed to her. She could satisfy neither Protestant nor Catholic, neither Scotland nor England. Her work could only be a work of patience; the one possible policy was to wait, to meet dangers as they rose, to watch for possible errors in her rival's course, above all by diplomacy, by finesse, by equivocation, by delay, to gain time till the dark sky cleared.
Nothing better proves Elizabeth's political ability than the patience, the tenacity, with which for the six years that followed she played this waiting game. She played it utterly alone. Even Cecil at moments of peril called for a policy of action. But his counsels never moved the Queen. Her restless ingenuity vibrated ceaselessly, like the needle of a compass, from one point to another, now stirring hopes in Catholic, now in Protestant, now quivering towards Mary's friendship, then as suddenly trembling off to incur her hate. But tremble and vibrate as it might, Elizabeth's purpose returned ever to the same unchanging point. 4-205]It was in vain that Mary made a show of friendship, and negotiated for a meeting at York, where the question of the succession might be settled. It was in vain that to prove her lack of Catholic fanaticism she even backed Murray in crushing the Earl of Huntly, the foremost of her Catholic nobles, or that she held out hopes to the English envoy of her conformity to the faith of the Church of England. It was to no purpose that, to meet the Queen's dread of her marriage with a Catholic prince when her succession was once acknowledged, a marriage which would in such a case have shaken Elizabeth on her throne, Mary listened even to a proposal for a match with Lord Leicester, and that Murray supported such a step, if Elizabeth would recognize Mary as her heir. Elizabeth promised that she would do nothing to impair Mary's rights; but she would do nothing to own them. "I am not so foolish," she replied with bitter irony to Mary's entreaties, "I am not so foolish as to hang a winding-sheet before my eyes." That such a refusal was wise time was to show. But even then it is probable that Mary's intrigues were not wholly hidden from the English Queen. Elizabeth's lying paled indeed before the cool duplicity of this girl of nineteen. While she was befriending Protestantism in her realm, and holding out hopes of her mounting the English throne as a Protestant queen, Mary Stuart was pledging herself to the Pope to restore Catholicism on either side the border, and 4-206]pressing Philip to aid her in this holy work by giving her the hand of his son Don Carlos. It was with this design that she was fooling the Scotch Lords and deceiving Murray: it was with this end that she strove in vain to fool Elizabeth and Knox.
France and the Reformation.
But pierce through the web of lying as she might, the pressure on the English Queen became greater every day. What had given Elizabeth security was the adhesion of the Scotch Protestants and the growing strength of the Huguenots in France. But the firm government of Murray and her own steady abstinence from any meddling with the national religion was giving Mary a hold upon Scotland which drew Protestant after Protestant to her side; while the tide of French Calvinism was suddenly rolled back by the rise of a Catholic party under the leadership of the Guises. Under Catharine of Medicis France had seemed to be slowly drifting to the side of Protestantism. While the queen-mother strove to preserve a religious truce the attitude of the Huguenots was that of men sure of success. Their head, the king of Navarre, boasted that before the year was out he would have the Gospel preached throughout the realm, and his confidence seemed justified by the rapid advance of the new opinions. They were popular among the merchant class. The noblesse was fast becoming Huguenot. At the court itself the nobles feasted ostentatiously 4-207]on the fast days of the Church and flocked to the Protestant preachings. The clergy themselves seemed shaken. Bishops openly abjured the older faith. Coligni's brother, the Cardinal of Châtillon, celebrated the communion instead of mass in his own episcopal church at Beauvais, and married a wife. So irresistible was the movement that Catharine saw no way of preserving France to Catholicism but by the largest concessions; and in the summer of 1561 she called on the Pope to allow the removal of images, the administration of the sacrament in both kinds, and the abolition of private masses. Her demands were outstripped by those of an assembly of deputies from the states which met at Pontoise. These called for the confiscation of Church property, for freedom of conscience and of worship, and above all for a national Council in which every question should be decided by "the Word of God." France seemed on the verge of becoming Protestant; and at a moment when Protestantism had won England and Scotland, and appeared to be fast winning southern as well as northern Germany, the accession of France would have determined the triumph of the Reformation. The importance of its attitude was seen in its effect on the Papacy. It was the call of France for a national Council that drove Rome once more to summon the Council of Trent. It was seen too in the policy 4-208]of Mary Stuart. With France tending to Calvinism it was no time for meddling with the Calvinism of Scotland; and Mary rivalled Catharine herself in her pledges of toleration. It was seen above all in the anxiety of Philip of Spain. To preserve the Netherlands was still the main aim of Philip's policy, and with France as well as England Protestant, a revolt of the Netherlands against the cruelties of the Inquisition became inevitable. By appeals therefore to religious passion, by direct pledges of aid, the Spanish king strove to rally the party of the Guises against the system of Catharine.
The Civil War.
But Philip's intrigues were hardly needed to rouse the French Catholics to arms. If the Guises had withdrawn from court it was only to organize resistance to the Huguenots. They were aided by the violence of their opponents. The Huguenot lords believed themselves irresistible; they boasted that the churches numbered more than three hundred thousand men fit to bear arms. But the mass of the nation was hardly touched by the new Gospel; and the Guises stirred busily the fanaticism of the poor. The failure of a conference between the advocates of either faith was the signal for a civil war in the south. Catharine strove in vain to allay the strife at the opening of 1562 by an edict of pacification; Guise struck his counter-blow by massacring a Protestant congregation at Vassy, 4-209]by entering Paris with two thousand men, and by seizing the Regent and the King. Condé and Coligni at once took up arms; and the fanaticism of the Huguenots broke out in a terrible work of destruction which rivalled that of the Scots. All Western France, half Southern France, the provinces along the Loire and the Rhone, rose for the Gospel. Only Paris and the north of France held firmly to Catholicism. But the plans of the Guises had been ably laid. The Huguenots found themselves girt in by a ring of foes. Philip sent a body of Spaniards into Gascony, Italians and Piedmontese in the pay of the Pope and the Duke of Savoy marched upon the Rhone. Seven thousand German mercenaries appeared in the camp of the Guises. Panic ran through the Huguenot forces; they broke up as rapidly as they had gathered; and resistance was soon only to be found in Normandy and in the mountains of the Cévennes.
Elizabeth and the Huguenots.
Condé appealed for aid to the German princes and to England: and grudge as she might the danger and cost of such a struggle, Elizabeth saw that her aid must be given. She knew that the battle with her opponent had to be fought abroad rather than at home. The Guises were Mary's uncles; and their triumph meant trouble in Scotland and worse trouble in England. In September therefore she concluded a treaty with the Huguenots at Hampton Court, and promised 4-210]to supply them with six thousand men and a hundred thousand crowns. The bargain she drove was a hard one. She knew that the French had no purpose of fulfilling their pledge to restore Calais, and she exacted the surrender of Havre into her hands as a security for its restoration. Her aid came almost too late. The Guises saw the need of securing Normandy if English intervention was to be hindered, and a vigorous attack brought about the submission of the province. But the Huguenots were now reinforced by troops from the German princes; and at the close of 1562 the two armies met on the field of Dreux. The strife had already widened into a general war of religion. It was the fight, not of French factions, but of Protestantism and Catholicism, that was to be fought out on the fields of France. The two warring elements of Protestantism were represented in the Huguenot camp where German Lutherans stood side by side with the French Calvinists. On the other hand the French Catholics were backed by soldiers from the Catholic cantons of Switzerland, from the Catholic states of Germany, from Catholic Italy, and from Catholic Spain. The encounter was a desperate one, but it ended in a virtual triumph for the Guises. While the German troops of Coligni clung to the Norman coast in the hope of subsidies from Elizabeth, the Duke of Guise was able to march at the 4-211]opening of 1563 on the Loire, and form the siege of Orleans.
Mary and Protestantism.
In Scotland Mary Stuart was watching her uncle's progress with ever-growing hope. The policy of Murray had failed in the end to which she mainly looked. Her acceptance of the new religion, her submission to the Lords of the Congregation, had secured her a welcome in Scotland and gathered the Scotch people round her standard. But it had done nothing for her on the other side of the border. Two years had gone by, and any recognition of her right of succession to the English crown seemed as far off as ever. But Murray's policy was far from being Mary's only resource. She had never surrendered herself in more than outer show to her brother's schemes. In heart she had never ceased to be a bigoted Catholic, resolute for the suppression of Protestantism as soon as her toleration of it had given her strength enough for the work. It was this that made the strife between the two Queens of such terrible moment for English freedom. Elizabeth was fighting for more than personal ends. She was fighting for more than her own occupation of the English throne. Consciously or unconsciously she was struggling to avert from England the rule of a Queen who would have undone the whole religious work of the past half-century, who would have swept England back into the tide of Catholicism, and who in 4-212]doing this would have blighted and crippled its national energies at the very moment of their mightiest developement. It was the presence of such a danger that sharpened the eyes of Protestants on both sides the border. However she might tolerate the reformed religion or hold out hopes of her compliance with a reformed worship, no earnest Protestant either in England or in Scotland could bring himself to see other than an enemy in the Scottish Queen. Within a few months of her arrival the cool eye of Knox had pierced through the veil of Mary's dissimulation. "The Queen," he wrote to Cecil, "neither is nor shall be of our opinion." Her steady refusal to ratify the Treaty of Edinburgh or to confirm the statutes on which the Protestantism of Scotland rested was of far greater significance than her support of Murray or her honeyed messages to Elizabeth. While the young Queen looked coolly on at the ruin of the Catholic house of Huntly, at the persecution of Catholic recusants, at so strict an enforcement of the new worship that "none within the realm durst more avow the hearing or saying of Mass than the thieves of Liddesdale durst avow their stealth in presence of an upright judge," she was in secret correspondence with the Guises and the Pope. Her eye was fixed upon France. While Catharine of Medicis was all-powerful, while her edict secured toleration for the Huguenots on one side 4-213]of the sea, Mary knew that it was impossible to refuse toleration on the other. But with the first movement of the Duke of Guise fiercer hopes revived. Knox was "assured that the Queen danced till after midnight because that she had received letters that persecution was begun in France, and that her uncles were beginning to stir their tail, and to trouble the whole realm of France." Whether she gave such open proof of her joy or no, Mary woke to a new energy at the news of Guise's success. She wrote to Pope Pius to express her regret that the heresy of her realm prevented her sending envoys to the Council of Trent. She assured the Cardinal of Lorraine that she would restore Catholicism in her dominions, even at the peril of her life. She pressed on Philip of Spain a proposal for her marriage with his son, Don Carlos, as a match which would make her strong enough to restore Scotland to the Church.
The Papal Brief.
The echo of the French conflict was felt in England as in the north. The English Protestants saw in it the approach of a struggle for life and death at home. The English Queen saw in it a danger to her throne. So great was Elizabeth's terror at the victory of Dreux that she resolved to open her purse-strings and to hire fresh troops for the Huguenots in Germany. But her dangers grew at home as abroad. The victory of Guise dealt the first heavy blow at her system of 4-214]religious conformity. Rome had abandoned its dreams of conciliation on her refusal to own the Council of Trent, and though Philip's entreaties brought Pius to suspend the issue of a Bull of Deposition, the Papacy opened the struggle by issuing in August 1562 a brief which pronounced joining in the Common Prayer schismatic and forbade the attendance of Catholics at church. On no point was Elizabeth so sensitive, for on no point had her policy seemed so successful. Till now, whatever might be their fidelity to the older faith, few Englishmen had carried their opposition to the Queen's changes so far as to withdraw from religious communion with those who submitted to them. But with the issue of the brief this unbroken conformity came to an end. A few of the hotter Catholics withdrew from church. Heavy fines were laid on them as recusants; fines which, as their numbers increased, became a valuable source of supply for the royal exchequer. But no fines could compensate for the moral blow which their withdrawal dealt. It was the beginning of a struggle which Elizabeth had averted through three memorable years. Protestant fanaticism met Catholic fanaticism, and as news of the massacre at Vassy spread through England the Protestant preachers called for the death of "Papists." The tidings of Dreux spread panic through the realm. The Parliament which met again in January 1563 showed its terror by 4-215]measures of a new severity. There had been enough of words, cried one of the Queen's ministers, Sir Francis Knollys, "it was time to draw the sword."
The Test Act.
The sword was drawn in the first of a series of penal statutes which weighed upon English Catholics for two hundred years. By this statute an oath of allegiance to the Queen and of abjuration of the temporal authority of the Pope was exacted from all holders of office, lay or spiritual, within the realm, with the exception of peers. Its effect was to place the whole power of the realm in the hands either of Protestants or of Catholics who accepted Elizabeth's legitimacy and her ecclesiastical jurisdiction in the teeth of the Papacy. The oath of supremacy was already exacted from every clergyman and every member of the universities. But the obligation of taking it was now widely extended. Every member of the House of Commons, every officer in the army or the fleet, every schoolmaster and private tutor, every justice of the peace, every municipal magistrate, to whom the oath was tendered, was pledged from this moment to resist the blows which Rome was threatening to deal. Extreme caution indeed was used in applying this test to the laity, but pressure was more roughly put on the clergy. A great part of the parish priests, though they had submitted to the use of the Prayer-Book, had absented themselves when called 4-216]on to take the oath prescribed by the Act of Uniformity, and were known to be Catholics in heart. As yet Elizabeth had cautiously refused to allow any strict enquiry into their opinions. But a commission was now opened by her order at Lambeth, to enforce the Act of Uniformity in public worship; while thirty-nine of the Articles of Faith drawn up under Edward the Sixth, which had till now been left in suspense by her Government, were adopted in Convocation as a standard of faith, and acceptance of them demanded from all the clergy.
Mary and Knox.
With the Test Act and the establishment of the High Commission the system which the Queen had till now pursued in great measure ceased. Elizabeth had "drawn the sword." It is possible she might still have clung to her older policy had she foreseen how suddenly the danger which appalled her was to pass away. At this crisis, as ever, she was able to "count on Fortune." The Test Act was hardly passed when in February 1563 the Duke of Guise was assassinated by a Protestant zealot, and with his murder the whole face of affairs was changed. The Catholic army was paralyzed by its leader's loss, while Coligni, who was now strengthened with money and forces from England, became master of Normandy. The war however came quietly to an end; for Catharine of Medicis regained her power on the Duke's death, and her aim was still an aim of peace. A treaty 4-217]with the Huguenots was concluded in March, and a new edict of Amboise restored the truce of religion. Elizabeth's luck indeed was chequered by a merited humiliation. Now that peace was restored Huguenot and Catholic united to demand the surrender of Havre; and an outbreak of plague among its garrison compelled the town to capitulate. The new strife in which England thus found itself involved with the whole realm of France moved fresh hopes in Mary Stuart. Mary had anxiously watched her uncle's progress, for his success would have given her the aid of a Catholic France in her projects on either side of the border. But even his defeat failed utterly to dishearten her. The war between the two Queens which followed it might well force Catharine of Medicis to seek Scottish aid against England, and the Scottish Queen would thus have secured that alliance with a great power which the English Catholics demanded before they would rise at her call. At home troubles were gathering fast around her. Veil her hopes as she might, the anxiety with which she had followed the struggle of her kindred had not been lost on the Protestant leaders, and it is probable that Knox at any rate had learned something of her secret correspondence with the Pope and the Guises. The Scotch Calvinists were stirred by the peril of their brethren in France, and the zeal of the preachers was roused by a revival of the old worship in 4-218]Clydesdale and by the neglect of the Government to suppress it. In the opening of 1563 they resolved "to put to their own hands," and without further plaint to Queen or Council to carry out "the punishment that God had appointed to idolaters in his law." In Mary's eyes such a resolve was rebellion. But her remonstrances only drew a more formal doctrine of resistance from Knox. "The sword of justice, madam, is God's," said the stern preacher, "and is given to princes and rulers for an end; which, if they transgress, they that in the fear of God execute judgements when God has commanded offend not God. Neither yet sin they that bridle kings who strike innocent men in their rage." The Queen was forced to look on while nearly fifty Catholics, some of them high ecclesiastics, were indicted and sent to prison for celebrating mass in Paisley and Ayrshire.
Peace with France.
The zeal of the preachers was only heightened by the coolness of the Lords. A Scotch Parliament which assembled in the summer of 1563 contented itself with securing the spoilers in their possession of the Church lands, but left the Acts passed in 1560 for the establishment of Protestantism unconfirmed as before. Such a silence Knox regarded as treason to the faith. He ceased to have any further intercourse with Murray, and addressed a burning appeal to the Lords, "Will ye betray God's cause when ye have it in your hands to 4-219]establish it as ye please? The Queen, ye say, will not agree with you. Ask ye of her that which by God's word ye may justly require, and if she will not agree with ye in God, ye are not bound to agree with her in the devil!" The inaction of the nobles proved the strength which Mary drew from the attitude of France. So long as France and England were at war, so long as a French force might at any moment be despatched to Mary's aid, it was impossible for them to put pressure on the Queen; and bold as was the action of the preachers the Queen only waited her opportunity for dealing them a fatal blow. But whatever hopes Mary may have founded on the strife, they were soon brought to an end. Catharine used her triumph only to carry out her system of balance, and to resist the joint remonstrance of the Pope, the Emperor, and the King of Spain against her edict of toleration. The policy of Elizabeth, on the other hand, was too much identified with Catharine's success to leave room for further hostilities; and a treaty of peace between the two countries was concluded in the spring of 1564.
The peace with France marked a crisis in the struggle between the rival Queens. It left Elizabeth secure against a Catholic rising and free to meet the pressure from the north. But it dashed the last hopes of Mary Stuart to the ground. The policy which she had pursued from her landing in 4-220]Scotland had proved a failure in the end at which it aimed. Her religious toleration, her patience, her fair speeches, had failed to win from Elizabeth a promise of the succession. And meanwhile the Calvinism she hated was growing bolder and bolder about her. The strife of religion in France had woke a fiercer bigotry in the Scotch preachers. Knox had discovered her plans of reaction, had publicly denounced her designs of a Catholic marriage, and had met her angry tears, her threats of vengeance, with a cool defiance. All that Murray's policy seemed to have really done was to estrange from her the English Catholics. Already alienated from Mary by her connexion with France, which they still regarded as a half-heretic power, and by the hostility of Philip, in whom they trusted as a pure Catholic, the adherents of the older faith could hardly believe in the Queen's fidelity to their religion when they saw her abandoning Scotland to heresy and holding out hopes of her acceptance of the Anglican creed. Her presence had roused them to a new energy, and they were drifting more and more as the strife waxed warmer abroad to dreams of forcing on Elizabeth a Catholic successor. But as yet their hopes turned not so much to Mary Stuart as to the youth who stood next to the Scottish Queen in the line of blood. Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, was a son of the Countess of Lennox, Margaret Douglas, a daughter of Margaret Tudor 4-221]by her second marriage with the Earl of Angus. Lady Lennox was the successor whom Mary Tudor would willingly have chosen in her sister's stead, had Philip and the Parliament suffered her; and from the moment of Elizabeth's accession the Countess had schemed to drive her from the throne. She offered Philip to fly with her boy to the Low Countries and to serve as a pretender in his hands. She intrigued with the partizans of the old religion. Though the house of Lennox conformed to the new system of English worship, its sympathies were known to be Catholic, and the hopes of the Catholics wrapped themselves round its heir. "Should any disaster befall the Queen," wrote a Spanish ambassador in 1560, "the Catholics would choose Lord Darnley for King." "Not only," he adds in a later letter, "would all sides agree to choose him were the Queen to die, but the Catholic Lords, if opportunity offer, may declare for him at once."
Mary and Darnley.
His strongest rival was Mary Stuart, and before Mary landed in Scotland Lady Lennox planned the union of both their claims by the marriage of her son with the Scottish Queen. A few days after her landing Mary received a formal offer of his hand. Hopes of yet greater matches, of a marriage with Philip's son, Don Carlos, or with the young French king, Charles the Ninth, had long held the scheme at bay; but as these and her policy of conciliation proved alike fruitless 4-222]Mary turned to the Lennoxes. The marriage was probably planned by David Rizzio, a young Piedmontese who had won the Scotch Queen's favour, and through whom she conducted the intrigues, both in England and abroad, by which she purposed to free herself from Murray's power and to threaten Elizabeth. Her diplomacy was winning Philip to her cause. The Spanish king had as yet looked upon Mary's system of toleration and on her hopes from France with equal suspicion. But he now drew slowly to her side. Pressed hard in the Mediterranean by the Turks, he was harassed more than ever by the growing discontent of the Netherlands, where the triumph of Protestantism in England and Scotland and the power of the Huguenots in France gave fresh vigour to the growth of Calvinism, and where the nobles were stirred to new outbreaks against the foreign rule of Spain by the success of the Scottish Lords in their rising and by the terms of semi-independence which the French nobles wrested from the Queen. It was to hold the Netherlands in check that Philip longed for Mary's success. Her triumph over Murray and his confederates would vindicate the cause of monarchy; her triumph over Calvinism would vindicate that of Catholicism both in her own realm and in the realm which she hoped to win. He sent her therefore assurances of his support, and assurances as strong reached her from the Vatican. The 4-223]dispensation which was secretly obtained for her marriage with Darnley was granted on the pledge of both to do their utmost for the restoration of the old religion.
The Darnley Marriage.
Secret as was the pledge, the mere whisper of the match revealed their danger to the Scotch Protestants. The Lords of the Congregation woke with a start from their confidence in the Queen. Murray saw that the policy to which he had held his sister since her arrival in the realm was now to be abandoned. Mary was no longer to be the Catholic ruler of a Protestant country, seeking peaceful acknowledgement of her right of succession to Elizabeth's throne; she had placed herself at the head of the English Catholics, and such a position at once threatened the safety of Protestantism in Scotland itself. If once Elizabeth were overthrown by a Catholic rising, and a Catholic policy established in England, Scotch Protestantism was at an end. At the first rumour of the match therefore Murray drew Argyle and the Hamiltons round him in a band of self-defence, and refused his signature to a paper recommending Darnley as husband to the Queen. But Mary's diplomacy detached from him lord after lord, till his only hope lay in the opposition of Elizabeth. The marriage with Darnley was undoubtedly a danger even more formidable to England than to Scotland. It put an end to the dissensions which had till now broken the strength of the English 4-224]Catholics. It rallied them round Mary and Darnley as successors to the throne. It gathered to their cause the far greater mass of cautious conservatives who had been detached from Mary by her foreign blood and by dread of her kinship with the Guises. Darnley was reckoned an Englishman, and with an English husband to sway her policy Mary herself seemed to become an Englishwoman. But it was in vain that the Council pronounced the marriage a danger to the realm, that Elizabeth threatened Mary with war, or that she plotted with Murray for the seizure of Mary and the driving Darnley back over the border. Threat and plot were too late to avert the union, and at the close of July 1565, Darnley was married to Mary Stuart and proclaimed king of Scotland. Murray at once called the Lords of the Congregation to arms. But the most powerful and active stood aloof. As heir of the line of Angus, Darnley was by blood the head of the house of Douglas, and, Protestants as they were, the Douglases rallied to their kinsman. Their actual chieftain, the Earl of Morton, stood next to Murray himself in his power over the Congregation; he was chancellor of the realm; and his strength as a great noble was backed by a dark and unscrupulous ability. By waiving their claim to the earldom of Angus and the lands which he held, the Lennoxes won Morton to his kinsman's cause, and the Earl was followed in his course by 4-225]two of the sternest and most active among the Protestant Lords, Darnley's uncle, Lord Ruthven, and Lord Lindesay, who had married a Douglas. Their desertion broke Murray's strength; and his rising was hardly declared when Mary marched on his little force with pistols in her belt, and drove its leaders over the border.
Mary and Catholicism.
The work which Elizabeth had done in Scotland had been undone in an hour. Murray was a fugitive. The Lords of the Congregation were broken or dispersed. The English party was ruined. And while Scotland was lost it seemed as if the triumph of Mary was a signal for the general revival of Catholicism. The influence of the Guises had again become strong in France, and though Catharine of Medicis held firmly to her policy of toleration, an interview which she held with Alva at Bayonne led every Protestant to believe in the conclusion of a league between France and Spain for a common war on Protestantism. To this league the English statesmen held that Mary Stuart had become a party, and her pressure upon Elizabeth was backed by the suspicion that the two great monarchies had pledged her their support. No such league existed, nor had such a pledge been given, but the dread served Mary's purpose as well as the reality could have done. Girt in, as she believed, with foes, Elizabeth took refuge in the meanest dissimulation, while Mary Stuart imperiously 4-226]demanded a recognition of her succession as the price of peace. But her aims went far beyond this demand. She found herself greeted at Rome as the champion of the Faith. Pius the Fifth, who mounted the Papal throne at the moment of her success, seized on the young Queen to strike the first blow in the crusade against Protestantism on which he was set. He promised her troops and money. He would support her, he said, so long as he had a single chalice to sell. "With the help of God and your Holiness," Mary wrote back, "I will leap over the wall." In England itself the marriage and her new attitude rallied every Catholic to Mary's standard; and the announcement of her pregnancy which followed gave her a strength that swept aside Philip's counsels of caution and delay. The daring advice of Rizzio fell in with her natural temper. She resolved to restore Catholicism in Scotland. Yield as she might to Murray's pressure, she had dexterously refrained from giving legal confirmation to the resolutions of the Parliament by which Calvinism had been set up in Scotland; and in the Parliament which she summoned for the coming spring she trusted to do "some good anent restoring the old religion." The appearance of the Catholic lords, the Earls of Huntly, Athol, and Bothwell, at Mary's court showed her purpose to attempt this religious revolution. Nor were her political schemes less resolute. She was determined to wring from the 4-227]coming Parliament a confirmation of the banishment of the lords who had fled with Murray which would free her for ever from the pressure of the Protestant nobles. Mistress of her kingdom, politically as well as religiously, Mary could put a pressure on Elizabeth which might win for her more than an acknowledgement of her right to the succession. She still clung to her hopes of the crown; and she knew that the Catholics of Northumberland and Yorkshire were ready to revolt as soon as she was ready to aid them.
The murder of Rizzio.
No such danger had ever threatened Elizabeth as this. But again she could "trust to fortune." Mary had staked all on her union with Darnley, and yet only a few months had passed since her wedding-day when men saw that she "hated the King." The boy turned out a dissolute, insolent husband; and Mary's scornful refusal of his claim of the "crown matrimonial," which would have given him an equal share of the royal power with herself, widened the breach between them. Darnley attributed this refusal to Rizzio's counsels; and his father, Lord Lennox, joined with him in plotting vengeance against the secretary. They sought aid from the very party whom Darnley's marriage had been planned to crush. Though the strength of the Protestant nobles had been broken by the flight of Murray, the Douglases remained at the court. Morton had no purpose of lending himself to the ruin of the religion he professed, 4-228]and Ruthven and Lindesay were roused to action when they saw themselves threatened with a restoration of Catholicism, and with a legal banishment of Murray and his companions in the coming Parliament, which could only serve as a prelude to their own ruin. Rizzio was the author of this policy; and when Darnley called on his kinsmen to aid him in attacking Rizzio, the Douglases grasped at his proposal. Their aid and their promise of the crown matrimonial were bought by Darnley's consent to the recall of the fugitive lords and of Murray. The plot of the Douglases was so jealously hidden that no whisper of it reached the Queen. Her plans were on the brink of success. The Catholic nobles were ready for action at her court. Huntly and Bothwell were called into the Privy Council. At the opening of March 1566 the Parliament which was to carry out her projects was to assemble; and the Queen prepared for her decisive stroke by naming men whom she could trust as Lords of the Articles—a body with whom lay the proposal of measures to the Houses—and by restoring the bishops to their old places among the peers. But at the moment when Mary revealed the extent of her schemes by her dismissal of the English ambassador, the young king, followed by Lord Ruthven, burst into her chamber, dragged Rizzio from her presence, and stabbed him in an outer chamber, while Morton and Lord Lindesay with their followers seized the 4-229]palace gate. Mary found herself a prisoner in the hands of her husband and his confederates. Her plans were wrecked in an hour. A proclamation of the king dissolved the Parliament which she had called for the ruin of her foes; and Murray, who was on his way back from England when the deed was done, was received at Court and restored to his old post at the Council-board.
Terrible as the blow had been, it roused the more terrible energies which lay hid beneath the graceful bearing of the Queen. The darker features of her character were now to develope themselves. With an inflexible will she turned to build up again the policy which seemed shattered in Rizzio's murder. Her passionate resentment bent to the demands of her ambition. "No more tears," she said when they brought her news of Rizzio's murder; "I will think upon revenge." But even revenge was not suffered to interfere with her political schemes. Keen as was Mary's thirst for vengeance on him, Darnley was needful to the triumph of her aims, and her first effort was to win him back. He was already grudging at the supremacy of the nobles and his virtual exclusion from power, when Mary masking her hatred beneath a show of affection succeeded in severing the wretched boy from his fellow-conspirators, and in gaining his help in an escape to Dunbar. Once free, a force of eight thousand men under the Earl of Bothwell quickly gathered round her, and with 4-230]these troops she marched in triumph on Edinburgh. An offer of pardon to all save those concerned in Rizzio's murder broke up the force of the Lords; Glencairn and Argyle joined the Queen, while Morton, Ruthven, and Lindesay fled in terror over the border. But Mary had learned by a terrible lesson the need of dissimulation. She made no show of renewing her Catholic policy. On the contrary, she affected to resume the system which she had pursued from the opening of her reign, and suffered Murray to remain at the court. Rizzio's death, had in fact strengthened her position. With him passed away the dread of a Catholic reaction. Mary's toleration, her pledges of extending an equal indulgence to Protestantism in England, should she mount its throne, her marriage to one who was looked upon as an English noble, above all the hope of realizing through her succession the dream of a union of the realms, again told on the wavering body of more Conservative statesmen, like Norfolk, and even drew to her side some of the steadier Protestants who despaired of a Protestant succession. Even Elizabeth at last seemed wavering towards a recognition of her as her successor. But Mary aimed at more than the succession. Her intrigues with the English Catholics were never interrupted. Her seeming reconciliation with the young king preserved that union of the whole Catholic body which her marriage had brought about and which the strife 4-231]over Rizzio threatened with ruin. Her court was full of refugees from the northern counties. "Your actions," Elizabeth wrote in a sudden break of fierce candour, "are as full of venom as your words are of honey." Fierce words however did nothing to break the clouds that gathered thicker and thicker round England: and in June the birth of a boy, the future James the Sixth of Scotland and First of England, doubled Mary's strength. Elizabeth felt bitterly the blow. "The Queen of Scots," she cried, "has a fair son, and I am but a barren stock." The birth of James in fact seemed to settle the long struggle in Mary's favour. The moderate Conservatives joined the ranks of her adherents. The Catholics were wild with hope. "Your friends are so increased," her ambassador, Melville, wrote to her from England, "that many whole shires are ready to rebel, and their captains named by election of the nobility." On the other hand, the Protestants were filled with despair. It seemed as if no effort could avert the rule of England by a Catholic Queen.
The developement of England.
It was at this moment of peril that the English Parliament was again called together. Its action showed more than the natural anxiety of the time; it showed the growth of those national forces which far more than the schemes of Mary or the counter-schemes of Elizabeth were to determine the future of England. While the two Queens were heaping intrigue on intrigue, while abroad 4-232]and at home every statesman held firmly that national welfare or national misery hung on the fortune of the one or the success of the other, the English people itself was steadily moving forward to a new spiritual enlightenment and a new political liberty. The intellectual and religious impulses of the age were already combining with the influence of its growing wealth to revive a spirit of independence in the nation at large. It was impossible for Elizabeth to understand this spirit, but her wonderful tact enabled her from the first to feel the strength of it. Long before any open conflict arose between the people and the Crown we see her instinctive perception of the changes which were going on around her in the modifications, conscious or unconscious, which she introduced into the system of the monarchy. Of its usurpations upon English liberty she abandoned none. But she curtailed and softened down almost all. She tampered, as her predecessors had tampered, with personal freedom; there was the same straining of statutes and coercion of juries in political trials as before, and an arbitrary power of imprisonment was still exercised by the Council. The duties she imposed on cloth and sweet wines were an assertion of her right of arbitrary taxation. Proclamations in Council constantly assumed the force of law. But, boldly as it was asserted, the royal power was practically wielded with a caution and moderation that 4-233]showed the sense of a growing difficulty in the full exercise of it. The ordinary course of justice was left undisturbed. The jurisdiction of the Council was asserted almost exclusively over the Catholics; and defended in their case as a precaution against pressing dangers. The proclamations issued were temporary in character and of small importance. The two duties imposed were so slight as to pass almost unnoticed in the general satisfaction at Elizabeth's abstinence from internal taxation. She abandoned the benevolences and forced loans which had brought home the sense of tyranny to the subjects of her predecessors. She treated the Privy Seals, which on emergencies she issued for advances to her Exchequer, simply as anticipations of her revenue (like our own Exchequer Bills), and punctually repaid them. The monopolies with which she fettered trade proved a more serious grievance; but during her earlier reign they were looked on as a part of the system of Merchant Associations, which were at that time regarded as necessary for the regulation and protection of the growing commerce.
The advance of the Parliament.
The political developement of the nation is seen still more in the advance of the Parliament during Elizabeth's reign. The Queen's thrift enabled her in ordinary times of peace to defray the current expenses of the Crown from its ordinary revenues. But her thrift was dictated not so much by economy as by a desire to avoid summoning fresh 4-234]Parliaments. We have seen how boldly the genius of Thomas Cromwell set aside on this point the tradition of the New Monarchy. His confidence in the power of the Crown revived the Parliament as an easy and manageable instrument of tyranny. The old forms of constitutional freedom were turned to the profit of the royal despotism, and a revolution which for the moment left England absolutely at Henry's feet was wrought out by a series of parliamentary statutes. Throughout Henry's reign Cromwell's confidence was justified by the spirit of slavish submission which pervaded the Houses. But the effect of the religious change for which his measures made room began to be felt during the minority of Edward the Sixth; and the debates and divisions on the religious reaction which Mary pressed on the Parliament were many and violent. A great step forward was marked by the effort of the Crown to neutralize by "management" an opposition which it could no longer overawe. Not only was the Parliament packed with nominees of the Crown but new constituencies were created whose members would follow implicitly its will. For this purpose twenty-two new boroughs were created under Edward, fourteen under Mary; some, indeed, places entitled to representation by their wealth and population, but the bulk of them small towns or hamlets which lay wholly at the disposal of the Royal Council.
Elizabeth and the Houses.
Elizabeth adopted the system of her two predecessors both in the creation of boroughs and the recommendation of candidates; but her keen political instinct soon perceived the inutility of both expedients. She saw that the "management" of the Houses, so easy under Cromwell, was becoming harder every day. The very number of the members she called up into the Commons from nomination boroughs, sixty-two in all, showed the increasing difficulty which the government found in securing a working majority. The rise of a new nobility enriched by the spoils of the Church and trained to political life by the stress of events around them was giving fresh vigour to the House of Lords. The increased wealth of the country gentry as well as the growing desire to obtain a seat among the Commons brought about the cessation at this time of the old payment of members by their constituencies. A change too in the borough representation, which had long been in progress but was now for the first time legally recognized, tended greatly to increase the vigour and independence of the Lower House. By the terms of the older writs borough members were required to be chosen from the body of the burgesses; and an act of Henry the Fifth gave this custom the force of law. But the passing of such an act shows that the custom was already widely infringed, and by Elizabeth's day act and custom 4-236]alike had ceased to have force. Most seats were now filled by representatives who were strange to the borough itself, and who were often nominees of the great landowners round. But they were commonly men of wealth and blood whose aim in entering Parliament was a purely political one, and whose attitude towards the Crown was far bolder and more independent than that of the quiet tradesmen who preceded them. Elizabeth saw that "management" was of little avail with a house of members such as these; and she fell back as far as she could on Wolsey's policy of practical abolition. She summoned Parliaments at longer and longer intervals. By rigid economy, by a policy of balance and peace, she strove, and for a long time successfully strove, to avoid the necessity of assembling them at all. But Mary of Scotland and Philip of Spain proved friends to English liberty in its sorest need. The struggle with Catholicism forced Elizabeth to have more frequent recourse to her Parliaments, and as she was driven to appeal for increasing supplies the tone of the Houses rose higher and higher.
The struggle with the Parliament.
What made this revival of Parliamentary independence more important was the range which Cromwell's policy had given to Parliamentary action. In theory the Tudor statesman regarded three cardinal subjects, matters of trade, matters of religion, and matters of State, as lying exclusively within the competence of the Crown. But in 4-237]actual fact such subjects had been treated by Parliament after Parliament. The whole religious fabric of the realm rested on Parliamentary enactments. The very title of Elizabeth rested in a Parliamentary statute. When the Houses petitioned at the outset of her reign for the declaration of a successor and for the Queen's marriage it was impossible for her to deny their right to intermeddle with these "matters of State," though she rebuked the demand and evaded an answer. But the question of the succession was a question too vital for English freedom and English religion to remain prisoned within Elizabeth's council-chamber. It came again to the front in the Parliament which the pressure from Mary Stuart forced Elizabeth to assemble after six prorogations and an interval of four years in September 1566. The Lower House at once resolved that the business of supply should go hand in hand with that of the succession. Such a step put a stress on the monarchy which it had never known since the War of the Roses. The Commons no longer confined themselves to limiting or resisting the policy of the Crown; they dared to dictate it. Elizabeth's wrath showed her sense of the importance of their action. "They had acted like rebels!" she said, "they had dealt with her as they dared not have dealt with her father." "I cannot tell," she broke out angrily to the Spanish ambassador, "what these devils want!" "They want liberty, 4-238]madam," replied the Spaniard, "and if princes do not look to themselves and work together to put such people down they will find before long what all this is coming to!" But Elizabeth had to front more than her Puritan Commons. The Lords joined with the Lower House in demanding the Queen's marriage and a settlement of the succession, and after a furious burst of anger Elizabeth gave a promise of marriage, which she was no doubt resolved to evade as she had evaded it before. But the subject of the succession was one which could not be evaded. Yet any decision on it meant civil war. It was notorious that if the Commons were resolute to name the Lady Catharine Grey, the heiress of the House of Suffolk, successor to the throne, the Lords were as resolute to assert the right of Mary Stuart. To settle such a matter was at once to draw the sword. The Queen therefore peremptorily forbade the subject to be approached. But the royal message was no sooner delivered than Wentworth, a member of the House of Commons, rose to ask whether such a prohibition was not "against the liberties of Parliament." The question was followed by a hot debate, and a fresh message from the Queen commanding "that there should be no further argument" was met by a request for freedom of deliberation while the subsidy bill lay significantly unnoticed on the table. A new strife broke out when another member of the Commons, Mr. Dalton, 4-239]denounced the claims put forward by the Scottish Queen. Elizabeth at once ordered him into arrest. But the Commons prayed for leave "to confer upon their liberties," and the Queen's prudence taught her that it was necessary to give way. She released Dalton; she protested to the Commons that "she did not mean to prejudice any part of the liberties heretofore granted them"; she softened the order of silence into a request. Won by the graceful concession, the Lower House granted the subsidy and assented loyally to her wish. But the victory was none the less a real one. No such struggle had taken place between the Crown and the Commons since the beginning of the New Monarchy; and the struggle had ended in the virtual defeat of the Crown.
The strife with the Parliament hit Elizabeth hard. It was "secret foes at home," she told the House as the quarrel passed away in a warm reconciliation, "who thought to work me that mischief which never foreign enemies could bring to pass, which is the hatred of my Commons. Do you think that either I am so unmindful of your surety by succession, wherein is all my care, or that I went about to break your liberties? No! it never was my meaning; but to stay you before you fell into the ditch." But it was impossible for her to explain the real reasons for her course, and the dissolution of the Parliament in January 1567 left her face to face with a national 4-240]discontent added to the ever-deepening peril from without. To the danger from the north and from the east was added a danger from the west. The north of Ireland was in full revolt. From the moment of her accession Elizabeth had realized the risks of the policy of confiscation and colonization which had been pursued in the island by her predecessor: and the prudence of Cecil fell back on the safer though more tedious policy of Henry the Eighth. But the alarm at English aggression had already spread among the natives; and its result was seen in a revolt of the north, and in the rise of a leader more vigorous and able than any with whom the Government had had as yet to contend. An acceptance of the Earldom of Tyrone by the chief of the O'Neills brought about the inevitable conflict between the system of succession recognized by English and that recognized by Irish law. On the death of the Earl of Tyrone England acknowledged his eldest son as the heir of his Earldom; while the sept of which he was the head maintained their older right of choosing a chief from among the members of the family, and preferred Shane O'Neill, a younger son of less doubtful legitimacy. The Lord Deputy, the Earl of Sussex, marched northward to settle the question by force of arms; but ere he could reach Ulster the activity of Shane had quelled the disaffection of his rivals, the O'Donnells of Donegal, and won over the Scots of Antrim. "Never before," wrote 4-241]Sussex, "durst Scot or Irishman look Englishman in the face in plain or wood since I came here"; but Shane fired his men with a new courage, and charging the Deputy's army with a force hardly half its number drove it back in rout on Armagh. A promise of pardon induced the Irish chieftain to visit London, and make an illusory submission, but he was no sooner safe home again than its terms were set aside; and after a wearisome struggle, in which Shane foiled the efforts of the Lord Deputy to entrap or to poison him, he remained virtually master of the north. His success stirred larger dreams of ambition. He invaded Connaught, and pressed Clanrickard hard; while he replied to the remonstrances of the Council at Dublin with a bold defiance. "By the sword I have won these lands," he answered, "and by the sword will I keep them." But defiance broke idly against the skill and vigour of Sir Henry Sidney, who succeeded Sussex as Lord Deputy. The rival septs of the north were drawn into a rising against O'Neill, while the English army advanced from the Pale; and in 1567 Shane, defeated by the O'Donnells, took refuge in Antrim, and was hewn to pieces in a drunken squabble by his Scottish entertainers.
The victory of Sidney marked the turn of the tide which had run so long against Elizabeth. The danger which England dreaded from Mary Stuart, the terror of a Catholic sovereign and a 4-242]Catholic reaction, reached its height only to pass irretrievably away. At the moment when the Irish revolt was being trampled under foot a terrible event suddenly struck light through the gathering clouds in the north. Mary had used Darnley as a tool to bring about the ruin of his confederates and to further her policy; but from the moment that she discovered his actual complicity in the plot for Rizzio's murder she had loathed and avoided him. Ominous words dropped from her lips. "Unless she were free of him some way," Mary was heard to mutter, "she had no pleasure to live." The lords whom he had drawn into his plot only to desert and betray them hated him with as terrible a hatred, and in their longing for vengeance a new adventurer saw the road to power. Of all the border nobles James Hepburn, the Earl of Bothwell, was the boldest and the most unscrupulous. But, Protestant as he was, he had never swerved from the side of the Crown; he had supported the Regent, and crossed the seas to pledge as firm a support to Mary; and his loyalty and daring alike appealed to the young Queen's heart. Little as he was touched by Mary's passion, it stirred in the Earl dreams of a union with the Queen; and great as were the obstacles to such a union which presented themselves in Mary's marriage and his own, Bothwell was of too desperate a temper to recoil before obstacles such as these. Divorce would free him from his own 4-243]wife. To free himself from Darnley he seized on the hatred which the lords whom Darnley had deserted and betrayed bore to the king. Bothwell joined Murray and the English ambassador in praying for the recall of Morton and the exiles. The pardon was granted; the nobles returned to court, and the bulk of them joined readily in a conspiracy to strike down one whom they still looked on as their bitterest foe.
Morton alone stood aloof. He demanded an assurance of the Queen's sanction to the deed; and no such assurance was given him. On the contrary Mary's mood seemed suddenly to change. Her hatred to Darnley passed all at once into demonstration of the old affection. He had fallen sick with vice and misery, and she visited him on his sick-bed, and persuaded him to follow her to Edinburgh. She visited him again in a ruinous and lonely house near the palace in which he was lodged by her order, on the ground that its purer air would further his recovery, kissed him as she bade him farewell, and rode gaily back to a wedding-dance at Holyrood. If Mary's passion had drawn her to share Bothwell's guilt, these acts were but awful preludes to her husband's doom. If on the other hand her reconciliation was a real one, it only drove Bothwell to hurry on his deed of blood without waiting for the aid of the nobles who had sworn the king's death. The terrible secret is still hid in a cloud of doubt 4-244]and mystery which will probably never be wholly dispelled. But Mary had hardly returned to her palace when, two hours after midnight on the ninth of February 1567, an awful explosion shook the city. The burghers rushed out from the gates to find the house of Kirk o' Field destroyed and Darnley's body dead beside the ruins.
The murder was undoubtedly the deed of Bothwell. It was soon known that his servant had stored the powder beneath the king's bedchamber and that the Earl had watched without the walls till the deed was done. But, in spite of gathering suspicion and of a charge of murder made formally against Bothwell by Lord Lennox, no serious steps were taken to investigate the crime; and a rumour that Mary purposed to marry the murderer drove her friends to despair. Her agent in England wrote to her that "if she married that man she would lose the favour of God, her own reputation, and the hearts of all England, Ireland, and Scotland." But whatever may have been the ties of passion or guilt which united them, Mary was now powerless in Bothwell's hands. While Murray withdrew to France on pretext of travel, the young Earl used the plot against Darnley into which he had drawn the lords to force from them a declaration that he was guiltless of the murder and their consent to his marriage with the Queen. He boasted that he would marry Mary, whether she would or no. 4-245]Every stronghold in the kingdom was placed in his hands, and this step was the prelude to a trial and acquittal which the overwhelming force of his followers in Edinburgh turned into a bitter mockery. The Protestants were bribed by the assembling of a Parliament in which Mary for the first time gave her sanction to the laws which established the reformation in Scotland. A shameless suit for his divorce removed the last obstacle to Bothwell's ambition; and a seizure of the Queen as she rode to Linlithgow, whether real or fictitious, was followed three weeks later by their union on the fifteenth of May. Mary may have yielded to force; she may have yielded to passion; it is possible that in Bothwell's vigour she saw the means of at last mastering the kingdom and wreaking her vengeance on the Lords. But whatever were her hopes or fears, in a month more all was over. The horror at the Queen's marriage with a man fresh from her husband's blood drove the whole nation to revolt. The Catholic party held aloof from a Queen who seemed to have forsaken them by a Protestant marriage and by her acknowledgement of the Protestant Church. The Protestant Lords seized on the general horror to free themselves from a master whose subtlety and bloodshed had placed them at his feet. Morton and Argyle rallied the forces of the Congregation at Stirling, and were soon joined by the bulk of the Scottish nobles of 4-246]either religion. Their entrance into Edinburgh roused the capital into insurrection. On the fifteenth of June Mary and her husband advanced with a fair force to Seton to encounter the Lords; but their men refused to fight, and Bothwell galloped off into lifelong exile, while the Queen was brought back to Edinburgh in a frenzy of despair, tossing back wild words of defiance to the curses of the crowd.
England and religious change.
The fall of Mary freed Elizabeth from the most terrible of her outer dangers. But it left her still struggling with ever-growing dangers at home. The religious peace for which she had fought so hard was drawing to an end. Sturdily as she might aver to her subjects that no change had really been made in English religion, that the old faith had only been purified, that the realm had only been freed from Papal usurpation, jealously as she might preserve the old episcopate, the old service, the old vestments and usages of public worship, her action abroad told too plainly its tale. The world was slowly drifting to a gigantic conflict between the tradition of the past and a faith that rejected the tradition of the past; and in this conflict men saw that England was ranging itself not on the side of the old belief but of the new. The real meaning of Elizabeth's 4-248]attitude was revealed in her refusal to own the Council of Trent. From that moment the hold which she had retained on all who still clung strongly to Catholic doctrine was roughly shaken. Her system of conformity received a heavy blow from the decision of the Papacy that attendance at the common prayer was unlawful. Her religious compromise was almost destroyed by the victory of the Guises. In the moment of peril she was driven on Protestant support, and Protestant support had to be bought by a Test Act which excluded every zealous Catholic from all share in the government or administration of the realm, while the re-enactment of Edward's Articles by the Convocation of the clergy was an avowal of Protestantism which none could mistake. Whatever in fact might be Elizabeth's own predilections, even the most cautious of Englishmen could hardly doubt of the drift of her policy. The hopes which the party of moderation had founded on a marriage with Philip, or a marriage with the Austrian Archduke, or a marriage with Dudley, had all passed away. The conciliatory efforts of Pope Pius had been equally fruitless. The last hope of a quiet undoing of the religious changes lay in the succession of Mary Stuart. But with the fall of Mary a peaceful return to the older faith became impossible; and the consciousness of this could hardly fail to wake new dangers for Elizabeth, whether at home or abroad.
Progress of the Reformation.
It was in fact at this moment of seeming triumph that the great struggle of her reign began. In 1565 a pontiff was chosen to fill the Papal chair whose policy was that of open war between England and Rome. At no moment in its history had the fortunes of the Roman See sunk so low as at the accession of Pius the Fifth. The Catholic revival had as yet done nothing to arrest the march of the Reformation. In less than half a century the new doctrines had spread from Iceland to the Pyrenees and from Finland to the Alps. When Pius mounted the throne Lutheranism was firmly established in Scandinavia and in Northern Germany. Along the Eastern border of the Empire it had conquered Livonia and Old Prussia; its adherents formed a majority of the nobles of Poland; Hungary seemed drifting towards heresy; and in Transylvania the Diet had already confiscated all Church lands. In Central Germany the great prelates whose princedoms covered so large a part of Franconia opposed in vain the spread of Lutheran doctrine. It seemed as triumphant in Southern Germany, for the Duchy of Austria was for the most part Lutheran, and many of the Bavarian towns with a large part of the Bavarian nobles had espoused the cause of the Reformation. In Western Europe the fiercer doctrines of Calvinism took the place of the faith of Luther. At the death of Henry the Second Calvin's missionaries poured from Geneva over 4-250]France, and in a few years every province of the realm was dotted with Calvinistic churches. The Huguenots rose into a great political and religious party which struggled openly for the mastery of the realm and wrested from the Crown a legal recognition of its existence and of freedom of worship. The influence of France told quickly on the regions about it. The Rhineland was fast losing its hold on Catholicism. In the Netherlands, where the persecutions of Charles the Fifth had failed to check the upgrowth of heresy, his successor saw Calvinism win state after state, and gird itself to a desperate struggle at once for religious and for civil independence. Still farther west a sudden revolution had won Scotland for the faith of Geneva; and a revolution hardly less sudden, though marked with consummate subtlety, had in effect added England to the Churches of the Reformation. Christendom in fact was almost lost to the Papacy; for only two European countries owned its sway without dispute. "There remain firm to the Pope," wrote a Venetian ambassador to his State, "only Spain and Italy with some few islands, and those countries possessed by your Serenity in Dalmatia and Greece."
Pius the Fifth.
It was at this moment of defeat that Pius the Fifth mounted the Papal throne. His earlier life had been that of an Inquisitor; and he combined the ruthlessness of a persecutor with the ascetic devotion of a saint. Pius had but one end, that 4-251]of reconquering Christendom, of restoring the rebel nations to the fold of the Church, and of stamping out heresy by fire and sword. To his fiery faith every means of warfare seemed hallowed by the sanctity of his cause. The despotism of the prince, the passion of the populace, the sword of the mercenary, the very dagger of the assassin, were all seized without scruple as weapons in the warfare of God. The ruthlessness of the Inquisitor was turned into the world-wide policy of the Papacy. When Philip doubted how to deal with the troubles in the Netherlands, Pius bade him deal with them by force of arms. When the Pope sent soldiers of his own to join the Catholics in France he bade their leader "slay instantly whatever heretic fell into his hands." The massacres of Alva were rewarded by a gift of the consecrated hat and sword, as the massacre of St. Bartholomew was hailed by the successor of Pius with a solemn thanksgiving. The force of the Pope's effort lay in its concentration of every energy on a single aim. Rome drew in fact a new power from the ruin of her schemes of secular aggrandizement. The narrower hopes and dreads which had sprung from their position as Italian princes told no longer on the Popes. All hope of the building up of a wider princedom passed away. The hope of driving the stranger from Italy came equally to an end. But on the other hand Rome was screened from the general conflicts 4-252]of the secular powers. It was enabled to be the friend of every Catholic State, and that at a moment when every Catholic State saw in the rise of Calvinism a new cause for seeking its friendship. Calvinism drew with it a thirst for political liberty, and religious revolution became the prelude to political revolution. From this moment therefore the cause of the Papacy became the cause of kings, and a craving for self-preservation rallied the Catholic princes round the Papal throne. The same dread of utter ruin rallied round it the Catholic Church. All strife, all controversy was hushed in the presence of the foe. With the close of the Council of Trent came a unity of feeling and of action such as had never been seen before. Faith was defined. The Papal authority stood higher than ever. The bishops owned themselves to be delegates of the Roman See. The clergy were drawn together into a disciplined body by the institution of seminaries. The new religious orders carried everywhere the watchword of implicit obedience. As the heresy of Calvin pressed on to one victory after another, the Catholic world drew closer and closer round the standard of Rome.
England and Rome.
What raised the warfare of Pius into grandeur was the scale upon which he warred. His hand was everywhere throughout Christendom. Under him Rome became the political as well as the religious centre of Western Europe. The history 4-253]of the Papacy widened again, as in the Middle Ages, into the history of the world. Every scheme of the Catholic resistance was devised or emboldened at Rome. While her Jesuit emissaries won a new hold in Bavaria and Southern Germany, rolled back the tide of Protestantism in the Rhineland, and by school and pulpit laboured to re-Catholicize the Empire, Rome spurred Mary Stuart to the Darnley marriage, urged Philip to march Alva on the Netherlands, broke up the religious truce which Catharine had won for France, and celebrated with solemn pomp the massacre of the Huguenots. England above all was the object of Papal attack. The realm of Elizabeth was too important for the general Papal scheme of reconquering Christendom to be lightly let go. England alone could furnish a centre to the reformed communions of Western Europe. The Lutheran states of North Germany were too small. The Scandinavian kingdoms were too remote. Scotland hardly ranked as yet as a European power. Even if France joined the new movement her influence would long be neutralized by the strife of the religious parties within her pale. But England was to outer seeming a united realm. Her government held the country firmly in hand. Whether as an island or from her neighbourhood to the chief centres of the religious strife, she was so placed as to give an effective support to the new opinions. Protestant refugees 4-254]found a safe shelter within her bounds. Her trading ships diffused heresy in every port they touched at. She could at little risk feed the Calvinistic revolution in France or the Netherlands. In the great battle of the old faith and the new England was thus the key of the reformed position. With England Protestant the fight against Protestantism could only be a slow and doubtful one. On the other hand a Catholic England would render religious revolution in the west all but hopeless. Hand in hand with Philip religiously, as she already was politically, the great island might turn the tide of the mighty conflict which had so long gone against the Papacy.
Philip and the Netherlands.
It was from this sense of the importance of England in the world-wide struggle which it was preparing that Rome had watched with such a feverish interest the effort of Mary Stuart. Her victory would have given to Catholicism the two westernmost realms of the Reformation, England and Scotland; it would have aided it in the reconquest of the Netherlands and of France. No formal bond indeed, such as the Calvinists believed to exist, bound Mary and Pius and Philip and Catharine of Medicis together in a vast league for the restoration of the Faith; their difference of political aim held France and Spain obstinately apart both from each other and from Mary Stuart, and it was only at the Vatican that the great movement was conceived as a whole. But practically 4-255]the policy of Mary and Philip worked forward to the same end. While the Scottish Queen prepared her counter-reformation in England and Scotland, Philip was gathering a formidable host which was to suppress Calvinism as well as liberty in the Netherlands. Of the seventeen provinces which Philip had inherited from his father, Charles, in this part of his dominions, each had its own constitution, its own charter and privileges, its own right of taxation. All clung to their local independence; and resistance to any projects of centralization was common to the great nobles and the burghers of the towns. Philip on the other hand was resolute to bring them by gradual steps to the same level of absolute subjection and incorporation in the body of the monarchy as the provinces of Castille. The Netherlands were the wealthiest part of his dominions. Flanders alone contributed more to his exchequer than all his kingdoms in Spain. With a treasury drained by a thousand schemes Philip longed to have this wealth at his unfettered disposal, while his absolutism recoiled from the independence of the States, and his bigotry drove him to tread their heresy under foot. Policy backed the impulses of greed and fanaticism. In the strangely-mingled mass of the Spanish monarchy, the one bond which held together its various parts, divided as they were by blood, by tradition, by tongue, was their common faith. Philip was in more than 4-256]name the "Catholic King." Catholicism alone united the burgher of the Netherlands to the nobles of Castille, or Milanese and Neapolitan to the Aztec of Mexico and Peru. With such an empire heresy meant to Philip political chaos, and the heresy of Calvin, with its ready organization and its doctrine of resistance, promised not only chaos but active revolt. In spite therefore of the growing discontent in the Netherlands, in spite of the alienation of the nobles and the resistance of the Estates, he clung to a system of government which ignored the liberties of every province, and to a persecution which drove thousands of skilled workmen to the shores of England.
At last the general discontent took shape in open resistance. The success of the French Huguenots in wresting the free exercise of their faith from the monarchy told on the Calvinists of the Low Countries. The nobles gathered in leagues. Riots broke out in the towns. The churches were sacked, and heretic preachers preached in the open fields to multitudes who carried weapons to protect them. If Philip's system was to continue it must be by force of arms, and the king seized the disturbances as a pretext for dealing a blow he had long meditated at the growing heresy of this portion of his dominions. Pius the Fifth pressed him to deal with heresy by the sword, and in 1567 an army of ten thousand men gathered in Italy under the 4-257]Duke of Alva for a march on the Low Countries. Had Alva reached the Netherlands while Mary was still in the flush of her success, it is hard to see how England could have been saved. But again Fortune proved Elizabeth's friend. The passion of Mary shattered the hopes of Catholicism, and at the moment when Alva led his troops over the Alps Mary passed a prisoner within the walls of Lochleven. Alone however the Duke was a mighty danger: nor could any event have been more embarrassing to Elizabeth than his arrival in the Netherlands in the autumn of 1567. The terror he inspired hushed all thought of resistance. The towns were occupied. The heretics were burned. The greatest nobles were sent to the block or driven, like William of Orange, from the country. The Netherlands lay at Philip's feet; and Alva's army lowered like a thundercloud over the Protestant West.
The triumph of Catholicism and the presence of a Catholic army in a country so closely connected with England at once revived the dreams of a Catholic rising against Elizabeth's throne, while the news of Alva's massacres stirred in every one of her Protestant subjects a thirst for revenge which it was hard to hold in check. Yet to strike a blow at Alva was impossible. Antwerp was the great mart of English trade, and a stoppage of the trade with Flanders, such as war must bring about, would have broken half the merchants in London. 4-258]Elizabeth could only look on while the Duke trod resistance and heresy under foot, and prepared in the Low Countries a securer starting-point for his attack on Protestantism in the West. With Elizabeth, indeed, or her cautious and moderate Lutheranism Philip had as yet little will to meddle, however hotly Rome might urge him to attack her. He knew that the Calvinism of the Netherlands looked for support to the Calvinism of France; and as soon as Alva's work was done in the Low Countries the Duke had orders to aid the Guises in assailing the Huguenots. But the terror of the Huguenots precipitated the strife, and while Alva was still busy with attacks from the patriots under the princes of the house of Orange a fresh rising in France woke the civil war at the close of 1567. Catharine lulled this strife for the moment by a new edict of toleration; but the presence of Alva was stirring hopes and fears in other lands than France. Between Mary Stuart and the lords who had imprisoned her in Lochleven reconciliation was impossible. Elizabeth, once lightened of her dread from Mary, would have been content with a restoration of Murray's actual supremacy. Already alarmed by Calvinistic revolt against monarchy in France, she was still more alarmed by the success of Calvinistic revolt against monarchy in Scotland; and the presence of Alva in the Netherlands made her anxious above all to settle the troubles in the north and to devise some terms of reconciliation 4-259]between Mary and her subjects. But it was in vain that she demanded the release of the Queen. The Scotch Protestants, with Knox at their head, called loudly for Mary's death, as a murderess. If the lords shrank from such extremities, they had no mind to set her free and to risk their heads for Elizabeth's pleasure. As the price of her life they forced Mary to resign her crown in favour of her child, and to name Murray, who was now returning from France, as regent during his minority. In July 1567 the babe was solemnly crowned as James the Sixth.
But Mary had only consented to abdicate because she felt sure of escape. With an infant king the regency of Murray promised to be a virtual sovereignty; and the old factions of Scotland woke again into life. The house of Hamilton, which stood next in succession to the throne, became the centre of a secret league which gathered to it the nobles and prelates who longed for the re-establishment of Catholicism, and who saw in Alva's triumph a pledge of their own. The regent's difficulties were doubled by the policy of Elizabeth. Her wrath at the revolt of subjects against their Queen, her anxiety that "by this example none of her own be encouraged," only grew with the disregard of her protests and threats. In spite of Cecil she refused to recognize Murray's government, renewed her demands for the Queen's release, and encouraged the Hamiltons in their 4-260]designs of freeing her. She was in fact stirred by more fears than her dread of Calvinism and of Calvinistic liberty. Philip's triumph in the Netherlands and the presence of his army across the sea was filling the Catholics of the northern counties with new hopes, and scaring Elizabeth from any joint action with the Scotch Calvinists which might call the Spanish forces over sea. She even stooped to guard against any possible projects of Philip by fresh negotiations for a marriage with one of the Austrian archdukes. But the negotiations proved as fruitless as before, while Scotland moved boldly forward in its new career. A Parliament which assembled at the opening of 1568 confirmed the deposition of the Queen, and made Catholic worship punishable with the pain of death. The triumph of Calvinistic bigotry only hastened the outbreak which had long been preparing, and at the beginning of May an escape of Mary from her prison was a signal for civil war. Five days later six thousand men gathered round her at Hamilton, and Argyle joined the Catholic lords who rallied to her banner. The news found different welcomes at the English court. Elizabeth at once offered to arbitrate between Mary and her subjects. Cecil, on the other hand, pressed Murray to strike quick and hard. But the regent needed little pressing. Surprised as he was, Murray was quickly in arms; and cutting off Mary's force as it moved on Dumbarton, he 4-261]brought it to battle at Langside on the Clyde on the thirteenth of May, and broke it in a panic-stricken rout. Mary herself, after a fruitless effort to reach Dumbarton, fled southwards to find a refuge in Galloway. A ride of ninety miles brought her to the Solway, but she found her friends wavering in her support and ready to purchase pardon from Murray by surrendering her into the regent's hands. From that moment she abandoned all hope from Scotland. She believed that Elizabeth would in the interests of monarchy restore her to the throne; and changing her designs with the rapidity of genius, she pushed in a light boat across the Solway, and was safe before the evening fell in the castle of Carlisle.
Mary in England.
The presence of Alva in Flanders was a far less peril than the presence of Mary in Carlisle. To restore her, as she demanded, by force of arms was impossible. If Elizabeth was zealous for the cause of monarchy, she had no mind to crush the nobles who had given her security against her rival simply to seat that rival triumphantly on the throne. On the other hand to retain her in England was to furnish a centre for revolt. Mary herself indeed threatened that "if they kept her prisoner they should have enough to do with her." If the Queen would not aid in her restoration to the throne, she demanded a free passage to France. But compliance with such a request would have given the Guises a terrible weapon against 4-262]Elizabeth and have ensured French intervention in Scotland. For a while Elizabeth hoped to bring Murray to receive Mary back peaceably as Queen. But the regent refused to sacrifice himself and the realm to Elizabeth's policy. When the Duke of Norfolk with other commissioners appeared at York to hold a formal enquiry into Mary's conduct with a view to her restoration, Murray openly charged the Queen with a share in the murder of her husband, and he produced letters from her to Bothwell, which if genuine substantiated the charge. Till Mary was cleared of guilt, Murray would hear nothing of her return, and Mary refused to submit to such a trial as would clear her. So eager however was Elizabeth to get rid of the pressing peril of her presence in England that Mary's refusal to submit to any trial only drove her to fresh devices for her restoration. She urged upon Murray the suppression of the graver charges, and upon Mary the leaving Murray in actual possession of the royal power as the price of her return. Neither however would listen to terms which sacrificed both to Elizabeth's self-interest. The Regent persisted in charging the Queen with murder and adultery. Mary refused either to answer or to abdicate in favour of her infant son.
The triumph indeed of her bold policy was best advanced, as the Queen of Scots had no doubt foreseen, by simple inaction. Her misfortunes, 4-263]her resolute denials, were gradually wiping away the stain of her guilt and winning back the Catholics of England to her cause. Already there were plans for her marriage with Norfolk, the head of the English nobles, as for her marriage with the heir of the Hamiltons. The first match might give her the English crown, the second could hardly fail to restore her to the crown of Scotland. In any case her presence, rousing as it did fresh hopes of a Catholic reaction, put pressure on her sister Queen. Elizabeth "had the wolf by the ears," while the fierce contest which Alva's presence roused in France and in the Netherlands was firing the temper of the two great parties in England. In the Court, as in the country, the forces of progress and of resistance stood at last in sharp and declared opposition to each other. Cecil at the head of the Protestants demanded a general alliance with the Protestant churches throughout Europe, a war in the Low Countries against Alva, and the unconditional surrender of Mary to her Scotch subjects for the punishment she deserved. The Catholics on the other hand, backed by the mass of the Conservative party with the Duke of Norfolk at its head, and supported by the wealthier merchants who dreaded the ruin of the Flemish trade, were as earnest in demanding the dismissal of Cecil and the Protestants from the council-board, a steady peace with Spain, and, though less openly, a recognition of Mary's 4-264]succession. Elizabeth was driven to temporize as before. She refused Cecil's counsels; but she sent money and arms to Condé, and hampered Alva by seizing treasure on its way to him, and by pushing the quarrel even to a temporary embargo on shipping either side the sea. She refused the counsels of Norfolk; but she would hear nothing of a declaration of war, or give any judgement on the charges against the Scottish Queen, or recognize the accession of James in her stead.
But to the pressure of Alva and Mary was now added the pressure of Rome. With the triumph of Philip in the Netherlands and of the Guises in France Pius the Fifth held that the time had come for a decisive attack on Elizabeth. If Philip held back from playing the champion of Catholicism, if even the insults to Alva failed to stir him to active hostility, Rome could still turn to its adherents within the realm. Pius had already sent two envoys in 1567 with powers to absolve the English Catholics who had attended church from their schism, but to withdraw all hope of future absolution for those who continued to conform. The result of their mission however had been so small that it was necessary to go further. The triumph of Alva in the Netherlands, the failure of the Prince of Orange in an attempt to rescue them from the Spanish army, the terror-struck rising of the French Huguenots, the growing embarrassments of Elizabeth both at home and abroad, 4-265]seemed to offer Rome its opportunity of delivering a final blow. In February 1569 the Queen was declared a heretic by a Bull which asserted in their strongest form the Papal claims to a temporal supremacy over princes. As a heretic and excommunicate, she was "deprived of her pretended right to the said kingdom," her subjects were absolved from allegiance to her, commanded "not to dare to obey her," and anathematized if they did obey. The Bull was not as yet promulgated, but Dr. Morton was sent into England to denounce the Queen as fallen from her usurped authority, and to promise the speedy issue of the sentence of deposition. The religious pressure was backed by political intrigue. Ridolfi, an Italian merchant settled in London, who had received full powers and money from Rome, knit the threads of a Catholic revolt in the north, and drew the Duke of Norfolk into correspondence with Mary Stuart. The Duke was the son of Lord Surrey and grandson of the Norfolk who had headed the Conservative party through the reign of Henry the Eighth. Like the rest of the English peers, he had acquiesced in the religious compromise of the Queen. It was as a Protestant that the more Conservative among his fellow-nobles now supported a project for his union with the Scottish Queen. With an English and Protestant husband it was thought that Murray and the lords might safely take back Mary to the Scottish throne, and England again accept her as 4-266]the successor to her crown. But Norfolk was not contented with a single game. From the Pope and Philip he sought aid in his marriage-plot as a Catholic at heart, whose success would bring about a restoration of Catholicism throughout the realm. With the Catholic lords he plotted the overthrow of Cecil and the renewal of friendship with Spain. To carry out schemes such as these however required a temper of subtler and bolder stamp than the Duke's: Cecil found it easy by playing on his greed to part him from his fellow-nobles; his marriage with Mary as a Protestant was set aside by Murray's refusal to accept her as Queen; and Norfolk promised to enter into no correspondence with Mary Stuart but with Elizabeth's sanction.
The Catholic Earls.
The hope of a crown, whether in Scotland or at home, proved too great however for his good faith, and Norfolk was soon wrapped anew in the net of papal intrigue. But it was not so much on Norfolk that Rome counted as on the nobles of the North. The three great houses of the northern border—the Cliffords of Cumberland, the Nevilles of Westmoreland, the Percies of Northumberland—had remained Catholics at heart; and from the moment of Mary's entrance into England they had been only waiting for a signal of revolt. They looked for foreign aid, and foreign aid now seemed assured. In spite of Elizabeth's help the civil war in France went steadily against the Huguenots. In March 4-267]1569 their army was routed at Jarnac, and their leader, Condé, left dead on the field. The joy with which the victory was greeted by the English Catholics sprang from a consciousness that the victors looked on it as a prelude to their attack on Protestantism across the sea. No sooner indeed was this triumph won than Mary's uncle, the Cardinal of Lorraine, as the head of the house of Guise, proposed to Philip to complete the victory of Catholicism by uniting the forces of France and Spain against Elizabeth. The moment was one of peril such as England had never known. Norfolk was still pressing forward to a marriage with Mary; he was backed by the second great Conservative peer, Lord Arundel, and supported by a large part of the nobles. The Northern Earls with Lords Montague and Lumley and the head of the great house of Dacres were ready to take up arms, and sure—as they believed—of the aid of the Earls of Derby and Shrewsbury. Both parties of plotters sought Philip's sanction and placed themselves at his disposal. A descent of French and Spanish troops would have called both to the field. But much as Philip longed for a triumph of religion he had no mind for a triumph of France. France now meant the Guises, and to set their niece Mary Stuart on the English throne was to ensure the close union of England and the France they ruled. Though he suffered Alva therefore to plan the despatch of a force from the Netherlands should a 4-268]Catholic revolt prove successful, he refused to join in a French attack.
The revolt of the Earls.
But the Papal exhortations and the victories of the Guises did their work without Philip's aid. The conspirators of the north only waited for Norfolk's word to rise in arms. But the Duke dissembled and delayed, while Elizabeth, roused at last to her danger, struck quick and hard. Mary Stuart was given in charge to the Puritan Lord Huntingdon. The Earls of Arundel and Pembroke, with Lord Lumley, were secured. Norfolk himself, summoned peremptorily to court, dared not disobey; and found himself at the opening of October a prisoner in the Tower. The more dangerous plot was foiled, for whatever were Norfolk's own designs, most of his Conservative partizans were good Protestants, and their aim of securing the succession by a Protestant marriage for Mary was one with which the bulk of the nation would have sympathized. But the Catholic plot remained; and in October the hopes of its leaders were stirred afresh by a new defeat of the Huguenots at Montcontour; while a Papal envoy, Dr. Morton, goaded them to action by news that a Bull of Deposition was ready at Rome. At last a summons to court tested the loyalty of the Earls, and on the tenth of November 1569 Northumberland gave the signal for a rising. He was at once joined by the Earl of Westmoreland, and in a few days the Earls entered Durham and called the 4-269]North to arms. They shrank from an open revolt against the Queen, and demanded only the dismissal of her ministers and the recognition of Mary's right of succession. But with these demands went a pledge to re-establish the Catholic religion. The Bible and Prayer-Book were torn to pieces, and Mass said once more at the altar of Durham Cathedral, before the Earls pushed on to Doncaster with an army which soon swelled to thousands of men. Their cry was "to reduce all causes of religion to the old custom and usage"; and the Earl of Sussex, her general in the North, wrote frankly to Elizabeth that "there were not ten gentlemen in Yorkshire that did allow [approve] her proceedings in the cause of religion." But he was as loyal as he was frank, and held York stoutly while the Queen ordered Mary's hasty removal to a new prison at Coventry. The storm however broke as rapidly as it had gathered. Leonard Dacres held aloof. Lord Derby proved loyal. The Catholic lords of the south refused to stir without help from Spain. The mass of the Catholics throughout the country made no sign; and the Earls no sooner halted irresolute in presence of this unexpected inaction than their army caught the panic and dispersed. Northumberland and Westmoreland fled in the middle of December, and were followed in their flight by Leonard Dacres of Naworth, while their miserable adherents paid for their disloyalty in bloodshed and ruin.
The Bull of Deposition.
The ruthless measures of repression which followed this revolt were the first breach in the clemency of Elizabeth's rule. But they were signs of terror which were not lost on her opponents. It was the general inaction of the Catholics which had foiled the hopes of the northern Earls; and Pope Pius resolved to stir them to activity by publishing in March 1570 the Bull of Excommunication and Deposition which had been secretly issued in the preceding year. In his Bull Pius declared that Elizabeth had forfeited all right to the throne, released her subjects from their oath of allegiance to her, and forbade her nobles and people to obey her on pain of excommunication. In spite of the efforts of the Government to prevent the entry of any copies of this sentence into the realm the Bull was found nailed in a spirit of ironical defiance on the Bishop of London's door. Its effect was far from being what Rome desired. With the exception of one or two zealots the English Catholics treated the Bull as a dead letter. The duty of obeying the Queen seemed a certain thing to them, while that of obeying the Pope in temporal matters was denied by most and doubted by all. Its spiritual effect indeed was greater. The Bull dealt a severe blow to the religious truce which Elizabeth had secured. In the North the Catholics withdrew stubbornly from the national worship, and everywhere throughout the realm an increase in the number of recusants showed the 4-271]obedience of a large body of Englishmen to the Papal command. To the minds of English statesmen such an obedience to the Papal bidding in matters of religion only heralded an obedience to the Papal bidding in matters of state. In issuing the Bull of Deposition Pius had declared war upon the Queen. He had threatened her throne. He had called on her subjects to revolt. If his secret pressure had stirred the rising of the Northern Earls, his open declaration of war might well rouse a general insurrection of Catholics throughout the realm, while the plots of his agents threatened the Queen's life.
The Ridolfi plot.
How real was the last danger was shown at this moment by the murder of Murray. In January 1570 a Catholic partizan, James Hamilton, shot the Regent in the streets of Linlithgow; and Scotland plunged at once into war between the adherents of Mary and those of her son. The blow broke Elizabeth's hold on Scotland at a moment when conspiracy threatened her hold on England itself. The defeat of the Earls had done little to check the hopes of the Roman court. Its intrigues were busier than ever. At the close of the rising Norfolk was released from the Tower, but he was no sooner free than he renewed his correspondence with the Scottish Queen. Mary consented to wed him, and the Duke, who still professed himself a Protestant, trusted to carry the bulk of the English nobles with him in pressing a marriage which seemed to take Mary out of the 4-272]hands of French and Catholic intriguers, to make her an Englishwoman, and to settle the vexed question of the succession to the throne. But it was only to secure this general adhesion that Norfolk delayed to declare himself a Catholic. He sought the Pope's approval of his plans, and appealed to Philip for the intervention of a Spanish army. At the head of this appeal stood the name of Mary; while Norfolk's name was followed by those of many lords of "the old blood," as the prouder peers styled themselves. The significance of the request was heightened by gatherings of Catholic refugees at Antwerp in the heart of Philip's dominions in the Low Countries round the fugitive leaders of the Northern Revolt. The intervention of the Pope was brought to quicken Philip's slow designs. Ridolfi, as the agent of the conspirators, appeared at Rome and laid before Pius their plans for the marriage of Norfolk and Mary, the union of both realms under the Duke and the Scottish Queen, and the seizure of Elizabeth and her counsellors at one of the royal country houses. Pius backed the project with his warm approval, and Ridolfi hurried to secure the needful aid from Philip of Spain.
Enough of these conspiracies was discovered to rouse a fresh ardour in the menaced Protestants. While Ridolfi was negotiating at Rome and Madrid, the Parliament met to pass an act of attainder against the Northern Earls, and to declare the introduction of Papal Bulls into the country an 4-273]act of high treason. It was made treason to call the Queen heretic or schismatic, or to deny her right to the throne. The rising indignation against Mary, as "the daughter of Debate, who discord fell doth sow," was shown in a statute, which declared any person who laid claim to the Crown during the Queen's lifetime incapable of ever succeeding to it. The disaffection of the Catholics was met by imposing on all magistrates and public officers the obligation of subscribing to the Articles of Faith, a measure which in fact transferred the administration of justice and public order to their Protestant opponents, by forbidding conversions to Catholicism or the bringing into England of Papal absolutions or objects consecrated by the Pope. Meanwhile Ridolfi was struggling in vain against Philip's caution. The king made no objection to the seizure or assassination of Elizabeth. The scheme secured his fullest sympathy; no such opportunity, he held, would ever offer again; and he longed to finish the affair quickly before France should take part in it. But he could not be brought to send troops to England before Elizabeth was secured. If troops were once sent, the failure of the plot would mean war with England; and with fresh troubles threatening Alva's hold on the Netherlands Philip had no mind to risk an English war. Norfolk on the other hand had no mind to risk a rising before Spanish troops were landed, and Ridolfi's efforts failed to bring either Duke or 4-274]king to action. But the clue to these negotiations had long been in Cecil's hands; and at the opening of 1571 Norfolk's schemes of ambition were foiled by his arrest. He was convicted of treason, and after a few months' delay executed at the Tower.
Elizabeth and England.
With the death of Norfolk and that of Northumberland, who followed him to the scaffold, the dread of revolt within the realm which had so long hung over England passed quietly away. The failure of the two attempts not only showed the weakness and disunion of the party of discontent and reaction, but it revealed the weakness of all party feeling before the rise of a national temper which was springing naturally out of the peace of Elizabeth's reign, and which a growing sense of danger to the order and prosperity around it was fast turning into a passionate loyalty to the Queen. It was not merely against Cecil's watchfulness or Elizabeth's cunning that Mary and Philip and the Percies dashed themselves in vain; it was against a new England. And this England owed its existence to the Queen. "I have desired," Elizabeth said proudly to her Parliament, "to have the obedience of my subjects by love, and not by compulsion." Through the fourteen years which had passed since she mounted the throne, her subjects' love had been fairly won by justice and good government. The current of political events had drawn men's eyes chiefly to the outer dangers of 4-275]the country, to the policy of Philip and of Rome, to the revolutions of France, to the pressure from Mary Stuart. No one had watched these outer dangers so closely as the Queen. But buried as she seemed in foreign negotiations and intrigues, Elizabeth was above all an English sovereign. She devoted herself ably and energetically to the task of civil administration. At the first moment of relief from the pressure of outer troubles, after the treaty of Edinburgh, she faced the two main causes of internal disorder. The debasement of the coinage was brought to an end in 1560. In 1561 a commission was issued to enquire into the best means of facing the problem of social pauperism.
The Poor Laws.
Time, and the natural developement of new branches of industry, were working quietly for the relief of the glutted labour market; but a vast mass of disorder still existed in England, which found a constant ground of resentment in the enclosures and evictions which accompanied the progress of agricultural change. It was on this host of "broken men" that every rebellion could count for support; their mere existence was an encouragement to civil war; while in peace their presence was felt in the insecurity of life and property, in bands of marauders which held whole counties in terror, and in "sturdy beggars" who stripped travellers on the road. Under Elizabeth as under her predecessors the terrible measures of repression, whose uselessness 4-276]More had in vain pointed out, went pitilessly on. We find the magistrates of Somersetshire capturing a gang of a hundred at a stroke, hanging fifty at once on the gallows, and complaining bitterly to the Council of the necessity for waiting till the Assizes before they could enjoy the spectacle of the fifty others hanging beside them. But the Government were dealing with the difficulty in a wiser and more effectual way. The old powers to enforce labour on the idle and settlement on the vagrant class which had been given by statutes of Henry the Eighth were continued; and each town and parish was held responsible for the relief of its indigent and disabled poor, as well as for the employment of able-bodied mendicants. But a more efficient machinery was gradually devised for carrying out the relief and employment of the poor. Funds for this purpose had been provided by the collection of alms in church; but by an Act of 1562 the mayor of each town and the churchwardens of each country parish were directed to draw up lists of all inhabitants able to contribute to such a fund, and on a persistent refusal the justices in sessions were empowered to assess the offender at a fitting sum and to enforce its payment by imprisonment.
The principles embodied in these measures, that of local responsibility for local distress, and that of a distinction between the pauper and the vagabond, were more clearly defined in a statute of 1572. 4-277]By this Act the justices in the country districts, and mayors and other officers in towns, were directed to register the impotent poor, to settle them in fitting habitations and to assess all inhabitants for their support. Overseers were appointed to enforce and superintend their labour, for which wool, hemp, flax, or other stuff was to be provided at the expense of the inhabitants; and houses of correction were established in every county for obstinate vagabonds or for paupers refusing to work at the overseer's bidding. A subsequent Act transferred to these overseers the collection of the poor rate, and powers were given to bind poor children as apprentices, to erect buildings for the improvident poor, and to force the parents and children of such paupers to maintain them. The well-known Act which matured and finally established this system, the 43rd of Elizabeth, remained the base of our system of pauper-administration until a time within the recollection of living men. Whatever flaws a later experience has found in these measures, their wise and humane character formed a striking contrast to the legislation which had degraded our statute-book from the date of the Statute of Labourers; and their efficacy at the time was proved by the cessation of the social danger against which they were intended to provide.
Growth of wealth.
Its cessation however was owing, not merely to law, but to the natural growth of wealth and 4-278]industry throughout the country. A middle class of wealthier landowners and merchants was fast rising into importance. "The wealth of the meaner sort," wrote one to Cecil, "is the very fount of rebellion, the occasion of their indolence, of the contempt of the nobility, and of the hatred they have conceived against them." But Cecil and his mistress could watch the upgrowth of national wealth with cooler eyes. In the country its effect was to undo much of the evil which the diminution of small holdings had done. Whatever social embarrassment it might bring about, the revolution in agriculture which Latimer deplored undoubtedly favoured production. Not only was a larger capital brought to bear upon the land, but the mere change in the system of cultivation introduced a taste for new and better modes of farming; the breed of horses and of cattle was improved, and a far greater use made of manure and dressings. One acre under the new system produced, it was said, as much as two under the old. As a more careful and constant cultivation was introduced, a greater number of hands came to be required on every farm; and much of the surplus labour which had been flung off the land in the commencement of the new system was thus recalled to it.
Growth of manufactures.
A yet more efficient agency in absorbing the unemployed was found in the developement of manufactures. The linen trade was as yet of small value, and that of silk-weaving was only just 4-279]introduced. But the woollen manufacture was fast becoming an important element in the national wealth. England no longer sent her fleeces to be woven in Flanders and to be dyed at Florence. The spinning of yarn, the weaving, fulling and dyeing of cloth, were spreading rapidly from the towns over the country-side. The worsted trade, of which Norwich was the centre, extended over the whole of the Eastern counties. Farmers' wives began everywhere to spin their wool from their own sheep's backs into a coarse "home-spun." The South and the West however still remained the great seats of industry and of wealth, for they were the homes of mining and manufacturing activity. The iron manufactures were limited to Kent and Sussex, though their prosperity in this quarter was already threatened by the growing scarcity of the wood which fed their furnaces, and by the exhaustion of the forests of the Weald. Cornwall was then, as now, the sole exporter of tin; and the exportation of its copper was just beginning. The broadcloths of the West claimed the palm among the woollen stuffs of England. The Cinque Ports held almost a monopoly of the commerce of the Channel. Every little harbour from the Foreland to the Land's End sent out its fleets of fishing boats, manned with bold seamen who were to furnish crews for Drake and the Buccaneers. Northern England still lagged far behind the rest of the 4-280]realm in its industrial activity. But in the reign of Elizabeth the poverty and inaction to which it had been doomed for so many centuries began at last to be broken. We see the first sign of the revolution which has transferred English manufactures and English wealth to the north of the Mersey and of the Humber in the mention which now meets us of the friezes of Manchester, the coverlets of York, the cutlery of Sheffield, and the cloth-trade of Halifax.
Growth of commerce.
The growth however of English commerce far outstripped as yet that of its manufactures. We must not judge of it by any modern standard; for the whole population of the country can hardly have exceeded five or six millions, and the burthen of all the vessels engaged in ordinary commerce was estimated at little more than fifty thousand tons. The size of the vessels employed in it would nowadays seem insignificant; a modern collier brig is probably as large as the biggest merchant vessel which then sailed from the port of London. But it was under Elizabeth that English commerce began the rapid career of developement which has made us the carriers of the world. The foundation of the Royal Exchange at London by Sir Thomas Gresham in 1566 was a mark of the commercial progress of the time. By far the most important branch of our trade was the commerce with Flanders. Antwerp and Bruges were in fact the general marts of the 4-281]world in the early part of the sixteenth century, and the annual export of English wool and drapery to their markets was estimated at a sum of more than two millions in value. But the religious troubles of the Netherlands were already scaring capital and industry from their older seats. As early as 1560 Philip's envoy reported to his master that "ten thousand of your Majesty's servants in the Low Countries are already in England with their preachers and ministers." Alva's severities soon raised the number of refugees to fifty thousand; and the outbreak of war which followed drove trade as well as traders from the Low Countries. It was with the ruin of Antwerp at the time of its siege and capture by the Duke of Parma that the commercial supremacy of our own capital was first established. A third of the merchants and manufacturers of the ruined city are said to have found a refuge on the banks of the Thames. The export trade to Flanders died away as London developed into the general mart of Europe, where the gold and sugar of the New World were found side by side with the cotton of India, the silks of the East, and the woollen stuffs of England itself.
New trade routes.
Not only was much of the world's older trade transferred by this change to English shores, but the burst of national vigour which characterized the time found new outlets for its activity. The fisheries grew more and more valuable. Those of 4-282]the Channel and the German Ocean gave occupation to the ports which lined the coast from Yarmouth to Plymouth Haven; while Bristol and Chester were rivals in the fisheries of Ulster. The merchant-navy of England was fast widening its sphere of commerce. The Venetian carrying fleet still touched at Southampton; but as far back as the reign of Henry the Seventh a commercial treaty had been concluded with Florence, and the trade with the Mediterranean which began under Richard the Third constantly took a wider developement. The trade between England and the Baltic ports had hitherto been conducted by the Hanseatic merchants; but the extinction at this time of their London depot, the Steel Yard, was a sign that this trade too had now passed into English hands. The growth of Boston and Hull marked an increase of commercial intercourse with the Scandinavian states. The prosperity of Bristol, which depended in great measure on the trade with Ireland, was stimulated by the conquest and colonization of that island at the close of the Queen's reign and the beginning of her successor's. The dream of a northern passage to India opened up a trade with a land as yet unknown. Of three ships which sailed in the reign of Mary under Hugh Willoughby to discover this passage, two were found frozen with their crews and their hapless commander on the coast of Lapland; but the third, under Richard 4-283]Chancellor, made its way safely to the White Sea and by the discovery of Archangel created the trade with Russia. A more lucrative traffic had already begun with the coast of Guinea, to whose gold dust and ivory the merchants of Southampton owed their wealth. The guilt of the Slave Trade which sprang out of it rests with John Hawkins. In 1562 he returned from the African coast with a cargo of negroes; and the arms, whose grant rewarded this achievement (a demi-moor, proper, bound with a cord), commemorated his priority in the transport of slaves to the labour-fields of the New World. But the New World was already furnishing more honest sources of wealth. The voyage of Sebastian Cabot from Bristol to the mainland of North America had called English vessels to the stormy ocean of the North. From the time of Henry the Eighth the number of English boats engaged on the cod-banks of Newfoundland steadily increased, and at the close of Elizabeth's reign the seamen of Biscay found English rivals in the whale-fishery of the Polar seas.
Elizabeth lent a ready patronage to the new commerce, she shared in its speculations, she considered its extension and protection as a part of public policy, and she sanctioned the formation of the great Merchant Companies which could alone secure the trader against wrong or injustice in distant countries. The Merchant-Adventurers 4-284]of London, a body which had existed long before, and had received a charter of incorporation under Henry the Seventh, furnished a model for the Russia Company and the Company which absorbed the new commerce to the Indies. But it was not wholly with satisfaction that either the Queen or her ministers watched the social change which wealth was producing around them. They feared the increased expenditure and comfort which necessarily followed it, as likely to impoverish the land and to eat out the hardihood of the people. "England spendeth more on wines in one year," complained Cecil, "than it did in ancient times in four years." In the upper classes the lavishness of a new wealth combined with a lavishness of life, a love of beauty, of colour, of display, to revolutionize English dress. Men "wore a manor on their backs." The Queen's three thousand robes were rivalled in their bravery by the slashed velvets, the ruffs, the jewelled purpoints of the courtiers around her. But signs of the growing wealth were as evident in the lower class as in the higher. The disuse of salt-fish and the greater consumption of meat marked the improvement which had taken place among the country folk. Their rough and wattled farm-houses were being superseded by dwellings of brick and stone. Pewter was replacing the wooden trenchers of the early yeomanry, and there were yeomen who could boast of a fair show of silver plate. It is 4-285]from this period indeed that we can first date the rise of a conception which seems to us now a peculiarly English one, the conception of domestic comfort. The chimney-corner, so closely associated with family life, came into existence with the general introduction of chimneys, a feature rare in ordinary houses at the beginning of this reign. Pillows, which had before been despised by the farmer and the trader as fit only "for women in childbed," were now in general use. Carpets superseded the filthy flooring of rushes. The loftier houses of the wealthier merchants, their parapeted fronts and costly wainscoting, their cumbrous but elaborate beds, their carved staircases, their quaintly-figured gables, not only contrasted with the squalor which had till then characterized English towns, but marked the rise of a new middle class which was to play its part in later history.
A transformation of an even more striking kind marked the extinction of the feudal character of the noblesse. Gloomy walls and serried battlements disappeared from the dwellings of the gentry. The strength of the mediæval fortress gave way to the pomp and grace of the Elizabethan Hall. Knole, Longleat, Burleigh and Hatfield, Hardwick and Audley End, are familiar instances of a social as well as an architectural change which covered England with buildings where the thought of defence was abandoned for that of domestic 4-286]comfort and refinement. We still gaze with pleasure on their picturesque line of gables, their fretted fronts, their gilded turrets and fanciful vanes, their castellated gateways, the jutting oriels from which the great noble looked down on his new Italian garden, on its stately terraces and broad flights of steps, its vases and fountains, its quaint mazes, its formal walks, its lines of yews cut into grotesque shapes in hopeless rivalry of the cypress avenues of the South. Nor was the change less within than without. The life of the Middle Ages concentrated itself in the vast castle hall, where the baron looked from his upper dais on the retainers who gathered at his board. But the great households were fast breaking up; and the whole feudal economy disappeared when the lord of the household withdrew with his family into his "parlour" or "withdrawing-room" and left the hall to his dependants. The Italian refinement of life which told on pleasance and garden told on the remodelling of the house within, raised the principal apartments to an upper floor—a change to which we owe the grand staircases of the time—surrounded the quiet courts by long "galleries of the presence," crowned the rude hearth with huge chimney-pieces adorned with fauns and cupids, with quaintly-interlaced monograms and fantastic arabesques, hung tapestries on the walls, and crowded each chamber with quaintly-carved chairs and costly cabinets. The 4-287]prodigal use of glass became a marked feature in the domestic architecture of the time, and one whose influence on the general health of the people can hardly be overrated. Long lines of windows stretched over the fronts of the new manor halls. Every merchant's house had its oriel. "You shall have sometimes," Lord Bacon grumbled, "your houses so full of glass, that we cannot tell where to come to be out of the sun or the cold."
Elizabeth and English order.
What Elizabeth contributed to this upgrowth of national prosperity was the peace and social order from which it sprang. While autos-de-fé were blazing at Rome and Madrid, while the Inquisition was driving the sober traders of the Netherlands to madness, while Scotland was tossing with religious strife, while the policy of Catharine secured for France but a brief respite from the horrors of civil war, England remained untroubled and at peace. Religious order was little disturbed. Recusants were few. There was little cry as yet for freedom of worship. Freedom of conscience was the right of every man. Persecution had ceased. It was only as the tale of a darker past that men recalled how ten years back heretics had been sent to the fire. Civil order was even more profound than religious order. The failure of the northern revolt proved the political tranquillity of the country. The social troubles from vagrancy and evictions were slowly passing away. Taxation 4-288]was light. The country was firmly and steadily governed. The popular favour which had met Elizabeth at her accession was growing into a passionate devotion. Of her faults indeed England beyond the circle of her court knew little or nothing. The shiftings of her diplomacy were never seen outside the royal closet. The nation at large could only judge her foreign policy by its main outlines, by its temperance and good sense, and above all by its success. But every Englishman was able to judge Elizabeth in her rule at home, in her love of peace, her instinct of order, the firmness and moderation of her government, the judicious spirit of conciliation and compromise among warring factions which gave the country an unexampled tranquillity at a time when almost every other country in Europe was torn with civil war. Every sign of the growing prosperity, the sight of London as it became the mart of the world, of stately mansions as they rose on every manor, told, and justly told, in the Queen's favour. Her statue in the centre of the London Exchange was a tribute on the part of the merchant class to the interest with which she watched and shared personally in its enterprises. Her thrift won a general gratitude. The memories of the Terror and of the Martyrs threw into bright relief the aversion from bloodshed which was conspicuous in her earlier reign, and never wholly wanting through its fiercer close. Above all there 4-289]was a general confidence in her instinctive knowledge of the national temper. Her finger was always on the public pulse. She knew exactly when she could resist the feeling of her people, and when she must give way before the new sentiment of freedom which her policy unconsciously fostered. But when she retreated, her defeat had all the grace of victory; and the frankness and unreserve of her surrender won back at once the love that her resistance lost. Her attitude at home in fact was that of a woman whose pride in the well-being of her subjects and whose longing for their favour was the one warm touch in the coldness of her natural temper. If Elizabeth could be said to love anything, she loved England. "Nothing," she said to her first Parliament in words of unwonted fire, "nothing, no worldly thing under the sun, is so dear to me as the love and goodwill of my subjects." And the love and goodwill which were so dear to her she fully won.
The religious truce.
It was this personal devotion that enabled Elizabeth to face the religious difficulties of her reign. Formidable as these had been from its outset, they were now growing into actual dangers. The attack of the Papacy from without had deepened the tide of religious fanaticism within. For the nation at large Elizabeth's system was no doubt a wise and healthy one. Single-handed, unsupported by any of the statesmen or divines about her, the Queen had forced on the warring 4-290]religions a sort of armed truce. While the main principles of the Reformation were accepted the zeal of the ultra-reformers was held at bay. Outer conformity, attendance at the common prayer, was exacted from all, but changes in ritual which would have drawn attention to the change in religion were steadily resisted. The Bible was left open. Public discussion was unrestrained. On the other hand the warfare of pulpit against pulpit was silenced by the licensing of preachers. In 1576 Elizabeth gave the Protestant zealots a rough proof that she would not suffer them to draw the Catholics into controversy and rouse the opposition to her system which controversy could not fail to bring with it. Parker's successor, Archbishop Grindal, who had been one of the Marian exiles and returned with much of the Calvinistic fanaticism, showed favour to a "liberty of prophesying" or preaching which would have flooded the realm with Protestant disputants. Elizabeth at once interposed. The "liberty of prophesying" was brought to an end; even the number of licensed preachers was curtailed; and the Primate himself was suspended from the exercise of his functions.
The religious change.
No stronger proof could have been given of the Queen's resolve to watch jealously over the religious peace of her realm. In her earlier years such a resolve went fairly with the general temper of the people at large. The mass of Englishmen 4-291]remained true in sentiment to the older creed. But they conformed to the new worship. They shrank from any open defiance of the government. They shrank from reawakening the fierce strife of religions, of calling back the horsemen of Somerset or the fires of Mary. They saw little doctrinal difference between the new prayer and the old. Above all they trusted to patience. They had seen too many religious revolutions to believe that any revolution would be lasting. They believed that the changes would be undone again as they had been undone before. They held that Elizabeth was only acting under pressure, and that her real inclination was towards the old religion. They trusted in Philip's influence, in an Austrian marriage, in the Queen's dread of a breach with the Papacy, in the pressure of Mary Stuart. And meanwhile the years went by, and as the memories of the past became dimmer, and custom laid a heavier and heavier hand on the mass of men, and a new generation grew up that had never known the spell of Catholicism, the nation drifted from its older tradition and became Protestant in its own despite.
The Puritan pressure.
It was no doubt a sense that the religious truce was doing their work, as well as a dread of alienating the Queen and throwing her into the hands of their opponents by a more violent pressure, which brought the more zealous reformers to acquiesce through Elizabeth's earlier years in this system of 4-292]compromise. But it was no sooner denounced by the Papacy than it was attacked by the Puritans. The rebellion of the Northern Earls, the withdrawal from the public worship, the Bull of Deposition, roused a fanatical zeal among the Calvinistic party which predominated in the Parliament of 1571. The movement in favour of a more pronounced Protestantism, of a more utter break with the Catholic past, which had slowly spread from the knot of exiles who returned to Geneva, now gathered a new strength; and a bill was brought in for the reform of the book of Common Prayer by the omission of the practices which displeased the Genevan party among the clergy. A yet closer approach to the theocratic system of Calvin was seen when the Lower House refused its assent to a statute that would have bound the clergy to subscribe to those articles which recognised the royal supremacy, the power of the Church to ordain rites and ceremonies, and the actual form of Church government. At such a crisis even the weightiest statesmen at Elizabeth's council-board believed that in the contest with Rome the Crown would have to rely on Protestant zeal, and the influence of Cecil and Walsingham backed the pressure of the Parliament. But the Queen was only stirred to a burst of anger; she ordered Strickland, who had introduced the bill for liturgical reform, to appear no more in Parliament, and though she withdrew the order as 4-293]soon as she perceived the House was bent on his restoration, she would hear nothing of the changes on which the Commons were set.
Her resistance showed the sagacity with which the Queen caught the general temper of her people. The Catholic pressure had made it needful to exclude Catholics from the Commons and from the council-board, but a Protestant Council and a Protestant Parliament were by no means fair representatives of the general drift of English opinion. Her religious indifference left Elizabeth a better judge of the timid and hesitating advance of religious sentiment, of the stubborn clinging to the past, of the fear of change, of the dread of revolution, which made the winning of the people as a whole to the Reformation a slow and tedious process. The Protestants were increasing in number, but they were still a minority of the nation. The zealous Catholics, who withdrew from church at the Pope's bidding, were a still smaller minority. The bulk of Englishmen were striving to cling to their religious prejudice and to loyalty as well, to obey their conscience and their Queen at once, and in such a temper of men's minds any sudden and decisive change would have fallen like a thunderbolt. Elizabeth had no will to follow in the track of Rome, and to help the Pope to drive every waverer into action. Weakened and broken as it was, she clung obstinately to her system of compromise; and the 4-294]general opinion gave her a strength which enabled her to resist the pressure of her council and her Parliament. So difficult however was her position that a change might have been forced on her had she not been aided at this moment by a group of clerical bigots who gathered under the banner of Presbyterianism.
Of these Thomas Cartwright was the chief. He had studied at Geneva; he returned with a fanatical faith in Calvinism, and in the system of Church government which Calvin had devised; and as Margaret Professor of Divinity at Cambridge he used to the full the opportunities which his chair gave him of propagating his opinions. No leader of a religious party ever deserved less of after sympathy. Cartwright was unquestionably learned and devout, but his bigotry was that of a mediæval inquisitor. The relics of the old ritual, the cross in baptism, the surplice, the giving of a ring in marriage, were to him not merely distasteful, as they were to the Puritans at large, they were idolatrous and the mark of the beast. His declamation against ceremonies and superstition however had little weight with Elizabeth or her Primates; what scared them was his reckless advocacy of a scheme of ecclesiastical government which placed the State beneath the feet of the Church. The absolute rule of bishops indeed Cartwright denounced as begotten of the devil; but the absolute rule of Presbyters he held to be 4-295]established by the word of God. For the Church modelled after the fashion of Geneva he claimed an authority which surpassed the wildest dreams of the masters of the Vatican. All spiritual authority and jurisdiction, the decreeing of doctrine, the ordering of ceremonies, lay wholly in the hands of the ministers of the Church. To them belonged the supervision of public morals. In an ordered arrangement of classes and synods, these Presbyters were to govern their flocks, to regulate their own order, to decide in matters of faith, to administer "discipline." Their weapon was excommunication, and they were responsible for its use to none but Christ. The province of the civil ruler in such a system of religion as this was simply to carry out the decisions of the Presbyters, "to see their decrees executed and to punish the contemners of them." Nor was this work of the civil power likely to be a light work. The spirit of Calvinistic Presbyterianism excluded all toleration of practice or belief. Not only was the rule of ministers to be established as the one legal form of Church government, but all other forms, Episcopalian and Separatist, were to be ruthlessly put down. For heresy there was the punishment of death. Never had the doctrine of persecution been urged with such a blind and reckless ferocity. "I deny," wrote Cartwright, "that upon repentance there ought to follow any pardon of death. . . . Heretics ought to be put 4-296]to death now. If this be bloody and extreme, I am content to be so counted with the Holy Ghost." The violence of language such as this was as unlikely as the dogmatism of his theological teaching to commend Cartwright's opinions to the mass of Englishmen. Popular as the Presbyterian system became in Scotland, it never took any popular hold on England. It remained to the last a clerical rather than a national creed, and even in the moment of its seeming triumph under the Commonwealth it was rejected by every part of England save London and Lancashire. But the bold challenge which Cartwright's party delivered to the Government in 1572 in an "admonition to the Parliament," which denounced the government of bishops as contrary to the word of God and demanded the establishment in its place of government by Presbyters, raised a panic among English statesmen and prelates which cut off all hopes of a quiet treatment of the merely ceremonial questions which really troubled the consciences of the more advanced Protestants. The natural progress of opinion abruptly ceased, and the moderate thinkers who had pressed for a change in ritual which would have satisfied the zeal of the reformers withdrew from union with a party which revived the worst pretensions of the Papacy.
Revolt of the Netherlands.
But the eyes of Elizabeth as of her subjects were drawn from difficulties at home to the conflict which took fresh fire oversea. In Europe, as 4-297]in England, the tide of religious passion which had so long been held in check was now breaking over the banks which restrained it; and with this outbreak of forces before which the diplomacy and intrigues of its statesmen fell powerless the political face of Europe was changed. In 1572 the power of the king of Spain had reached its height. The Netherlands were at his feet. In the East his trouble from the pressure of the Turks seemed brought to an end by a brilliant victory at Lepanto in which his fleet with those of Venice and the Pope annihilated the fleet of the Sultan. He could throw his whole weight upon the Calvinism of the West, and above all upon France, where the Guises were fast sinking into mere partizans of Spain. The common danger drew France and England together; and Catharine of Medicis strove to bind the two countries in one political action by offering to Elizabeth the hand of her son Henry, the Duke of Anjou. But at this moment of danger the whole situation was changed by the rising of the Netherlands. Driven to despair by the greed and persecution of Alva, the Low Countries rose in a revolt which after strange alternations of fortune gave to the world the Republic of the United Provinces. Of the Protestants driven out by the Duke's cruelties, many had taken to the seas and cruised as pirates in the Channel, making war on Spanish vessels under the flag of the Prince of Orange. Like the Huguenot privateers who had 4-298]sailed under Condé's flag, these freebooters found shelter in the English ports. But in the spring of 1572 Alva demanded their expulsion; and Elizabeth, unable to resist, sent them orders to put to sea. The Duke's success proved fatal to his master's cause. The "water-beggars," a little band of some two hundred and fifty men, were driven by stress of weather into the Meuse. There they seized the city of Brill, and repulsed a Spanish force which strove to recapture it. The repulse was the signal for a general rising. All the great cities of Holland and Zealand drove out their garrisons. The northern Provinces of Gelderland, Overyssel, and Friesland, followed their example, and by the summer half of the Low Countries were in revolt.
The massacre of St. Bartholomew.
A yet greater danger threatened Alva in the south, where Mons had been surprised by Lewis of Nassau, and where the Calvinists were crying for support from the Huguenots of France. The opening which their rising afforded was seized by the Huguenot leaders as a political engine to break the power which Catharine of Medicis exercised over Charles the Ninth, and to set aside her policy of religious balance by placing France at the head of Protestantism in the West. Weak and passionate in temper, jealous of the warlike fame which his brother, the Duke of Anjou, had won at Montcontour, dreading above all the power of Spain and eager to grasp the opportunity of breaking it 4-299]by a seizure of the Netherlands, Charles listened to the counsels of Coligni, who pressed for war upon Philip and promised the support of the Huguenots in an invasion of the Low Countries. Never had a fairer prospect opened to French ambition. But Catharine had no mind to be set aside. To her cool political temper the supremacy of the Huguenots seemed as fatal to the Crown as the supremacy of the Catholics. A triumph of Calvinism in the Netherlands, wrought out by the swords of the French Calvinists, would decide not only the religious but the political destinies of France; and Catharine saw ruin for the monarchy in a France at once Protestant and free. She suddenly united with the Guises and suffered them to rouse the fanatical mob of Paris, while she won back the king by picturing the royal power as about to pass into the hands of Coligni. On the twenty-fourth of August, St. Bartholomew's day, the plot broke out in an awful massacre. At Paris the populace murdered Coligni and almost all the Huguenot leaders. A hundred thousand Protestants fell as the fury spread from town to town. In that awful hour Philip and Catholicism were saved. The Spanish king laughed for joy. The new Pope, Gregory the Thirteenth, ordered a Te Deum to be sung. Instead of conquering the Netherlands France plunged madly back into a chaos of civil war, and the Low Countries were left to cope single-handed with the armies of Spain.
Elizabeth and the Netherlands.
They could look for no help from Elizabeth. Whatever enthusiasm the heroic struggle of the Prince of Orange for their liberties excited among her subjects, it failed to move Elizabeth even for an instant from the path of cold self-interest. To her the revolt of the Netherlands was simply "a bridle of Spain, which kept war out of our own gate." At the darkest moment of the contest, when Alva had won back all but Holland and Zealand and even William of Orange despaired, the Queen bent her energies to prevent him from finding succour in France. That the Low Countries could in the end withstand Philip, neither she nor any English statesmen believed. They held that the struggle must close either in their subjection to him, or in their selling themselves for aid to France; and the accession of power which either result must give to one of her two Catholic foes the Queen was eager to avert. Her plan for averting it was by forcing the Provinces to accept the terms which were now offered by Alva's successor, Requesens, a restoration of their constitutional privileges on condition of their submission to the Church. Peace on such a footing would not only restore English commerce, which suffered from the war; it would leave the Netherlands still formidable as a weapon against Philip. The freedom of the Provinces would be saved; and the religious question involved in a fresh submission to the yoke of Catholicism was one which Elizabeth 4-301]was incapable of appreciating. To her the steady refusal of William the Silent to sacrifice his faith was as unintelligible as the steady bigotry of Philip in demanding such a sacrifice. It was of more immediate consequence that Philip's anxiety to avoid provoking an intervention on the part of England left Elizabeth tranquil at home. The policy of Requesens after Alva's departure at the close of 1573 was a policy of pacification; and with the steady resistance of the Netherlands still foiling his efforts Philip saw that his one hope of success rested on the avoidance of intervention from without. The civil war which followed the massacre of St. Bartholomew removed all danger of such an intervention on the side of France. A weariness of religious strife enabled Catharine again to return to her policy of toleration in the summer of 1573; but though the death of Charles the Ninth and accession of his brother Henry the Third in the following year left the queen-mother's power unbroken, the balance she preserved was too delicate to leave room for any schemes without the realm.
England becomes Protestant.
English intervention it was yet more needful to avoid; and the hopes of an attack upon England which Rome had drawn from Philip's fanaticism were thus utterly blasted. To the fiery exhortations of Gregory the Thirteenth the king only answered by counsels of delay. But Rome could not delay her efforts. All her hopes 4-302]of recovering England lay in the Catholic sympathies of the mass of Englishmen, and every year that went by weakened her chance of victory. The firm refusal of Elizabeth to suffer the Puritans to break in with any violent changes on her ecclesiastical policy was justified by its slow but steady success. Silently, almost unconsciously, England became Protestant as the traditionary Catholicism which formed the religion of three-fourths of the people at the Queen's accession died quietly away. At the close of her reign the only parts of England where the old faith retained anything of its former vigour were the north and the extreme west, at that time the poorest and least populated parts of the kingdom. One main cause of the change lay in the gradual dying out or removal of the Catholic priesthood and the growth of a new Protestant clergy who supplied their place. The older parish priests, though they had almost to a man acquiesced in the changes of ritual and doctrine which the various phases of the Reformation imposed upon them, remained in heart utterly hostile to its spirit. As Mary had undone the changes of Edward, they hoped for a Catholic successor to undo the changes of Elizabeth; and in the meantime they were content to wear the surplice instead of the chasuble, and to use the Communion office instead of the Mass-book. But if they were forced to read the Homilies from the pulpit the spirit of 4-303]their teaching remained unchanged; and it was easy for them to cast contempt on the new services, till they seemed to old-fashioned worshippers a mere "Christmas game." But the lapse of years did its work in emptying parsonage after parsonage. In 1579 the Queen felt strong enough to enforce for the first time a general compliance with the Act of Uniformity; and the jealous supervision of Parker and the bishops ensured an inner as well as an outer conformity to the established faith in the clergy who took the place of the dying priesthood. The new parsons were for the most part not merely Protestant in belief and teaching, but ultra-Protestant. The old restrictions on the use of the pulpit were silently removed as the need for them passed away, and the zeal of the young ministers showed itself in an assiduous preaching which moulded in their own fashion the religious ideas of the new generation. But their character had even a greater influence than their preaching. Under Henry the priests had in large part been ignorant and sensual men; and the character of the clergy appointed by the greedy Protestants under Edward or at the opening of Elizabeth's reign was even worse than that of their Catholic rivals. But the energy of the successive Primates, seconded as it was by the general increase of zeal and morality at the time, did its work; and by the close of the Queen's reign the moral temper as well as the 4-304]social character of the clergy had greatly changed. Scholars like Hooker could now be found in the ranks of the priesthood, and the grosser scandals which disgraced the clergy as a body for the most part disappeared. It was impossible for a Puritan libeller to bring against the ministers of Elizabeth's reign the charges of drunkenness and immorality which Protestant libellers had been able to bring against the priesthood of Henry's.
Patriotism and Protestantism.
But the influence of the new clergy was backed by a general revolution in English thought. The grammar schools were diffusing a new knowledge and mental energy through the middle classes and among the country gentry. The tone of the Universities, no unfair test of the tone of the nation at large, changed wholly as the Queen's reign went on. At its opening Oxford was "a nest of Papists" and sent its best scholars to feed the Catholic seminaries. At its close the University was a hot-bed of Puritanism, where the fiercest tenets of Calvin reigned supreme. The movement was no doubt hastened by the political circumstances of the time. Under the rule of Elizabeth loyalty became more and more a passion among Englishmen; and the Bull of Deposition placed Rome in the forefront of Elizabeth's foes. The conspiracies which festered around Mary were laid to the Pope's charge; he was known to be pressing on France and on Spain the invasion and 4-305]conquest of the heretic kingdom; he was soon to bless the Armada. Every day made it harder for a Catholic to reconcile Catholicism with loyalty to his Queen or devotion to his country; and the mass of men, who are moved by sentiment rather than by reason, swung slowly round to the side which, whatever its religious significance might be, was the side of patriotism, of liberty against tyranny, of England against Spain. A new impulse was given to this silent drift of religious opinion by the atrocities which marked the Catholic triumph on the other side of the Channel. The horror of Alva's butcheries or of the massacre in Paris on St. Bartholomew's day revived the memories of the bloodshed under Mary. The tale of Protestant sufferings was told with a wonderful pathos and picturesqueness by John Foxe, an exile during the persecution; and his "Book of Martyrs," which was set up by royal order in the churches for public reading, passed from the churches to the shelves of every English household. The trading classes of the towns had been the first to embrace the doctrines of the Reformation, but their Protestantism became a passion as the refugees of the Continent brought to shop and market their tale of outrage and blood. Thousands of Flemish exiles found a refuge in the Cinque Ports, a third of the Antwerp merchants were seen pacing the new London Exchange, and a Church of French 4-306]Huguenots found a home which it still retains in the crypt of Canterbury Cathedral.
The Seminary Priests.
But the decay of Catholicism appealed strongly to the new spirit of Catholic zeal which, in its despair of aid from Catholic princes, was girding itself for its own bitter struggle with heresy. Pius the Fifth had now passed away, but the policy of the Papal court remained unchanged. His successor, Gregory the Thirteenth, showed the same restless zeal, the same world-wide energy in the work of winning back the nations to the Catholic Church. Rome was still the centre of the Catholic crusade. It wielded material as well as spiritual arms. If the Papacy had ceased to be a military power, it remained a financial power. Taxes were multiplied, expenses reduced, estates confiscated, free towns reduced to servitude, with the one aim of enabling Gregory and his successors to build up a vast system of loans which poured the wealth of Europe into the treasury of Catholicism. It was the treasure of the Vatican which financed the Catholic movement. Subsidies from the Papacy fitted out the fleet that faced the Turk at Lepanto, and gathered round the Guises their lance-knights from the Rhine. Papal supplies equipped expeditions against Ireland, and helped Philip to bear the cost of the Armada. It was the Papal exchequer which supported the world-wide diplomacy that was carrying on negotiations in Sweden and intrigues in Poland, 4-307]goading the lukewarm Emperor to action or quickening the sluggish movements of Spain, plotting the ruin of Geneva or the assassination of Orange, stirring up revolt in England and civil war in France. It was the Papacy that bore the cost of the religious propaganda that was fighting its stubborn battle with Calvinist and Lutheran on the Rhine and the Elbe, or sending its missionaries to win back the lost isle of the west. As early as 1568 Dr. Allen, a scholar who had been driven from Oxford by the test prescribed in the Act of Uniformity, had foreseen the results of the dying out of the Marian priests, and had set up a seminary at Douay to supply their place. The new college was liberally supported by the Catholic peers, and supplied with pupils by a stream of refugees from Oxford and the English grammar schools. Three years after its opening the college numbered a hundred and fifty members. It was in these "seminary priests" that Gregory the Thirteenth saw the means of reviving Catholic zeal in England, and at the Pope's bidding they began in 1576 to pass over to English shores.
The English Panic.
Few as the new-comers were at first, their presence was at once felt in the check which it gave to the gradual reconciliation of the Catholic gentry to the English Church. No check could have been more galling to Elizabeth, and her resentment was quickened by the sense of danger. 4-308]Rome had set itself in the forefront of her foes. She had accepted the issue of the Bull of Deposition as a declaration of war on the part of the Papacy, and she viewed the Douay priests with some justice as its political emissaries. The comparative security of the Catholics from active persecution during the early part of her reign had arisen, partly from the sympathy and connivance of the gentry who acted as justices of the peace, and still more from her own religious indifference. But the Test Act placed the magistracy in Protestant hands; and as Elizabeth passed from indifference to suspicion and from suspicion to terror she put less restraint on the bigotry around her. In quitting Euston Hall which she had visited in one of her pilgrimages the Queen gave its master, young Rookwood, thanks for his entertainment and her hand to kiss. "But my Lord Chamberlain nobly and gravely understanding that Rookwood was excommunicate" for non-attendance at church "called him before him, demanded of him how he durst presume to attempt her royal presence, he unfit to accompany any Christian person, forthwith said that he was fitter for a pair of stocks, commanded him out of Court, and yet to attend the Council's pleasure." The Council's pleasure was seen in his committal to the town prison at Norwich, while "seven more gentlemen of worship" were fortunate enough to escape with a simple sentence of arrest 4-309]at their own homes. The Queen's terror became a panic in the nation at large. The few priests who landed from Douay were multiplied into an army of Papal emissaries despatched to sow treason and revolt throughout the land. Parliament, which the working of the Test Act had made a wholly Protestant body, save for the presence of a few Catholics among the peers, was summoned to meet the new danger, and declared by formal statute the landing of these priests and the harbouring of them to be treason. The Act proved no idle menace; and the execution of Cuthbert Mayne, a young priest who was arrested in Cornwall with the Papal Bull of Deposition hidden about him, gave a terrible indication of the character of the struggle upon which Elizabeth was about to enter.
Don John of Austria.
The execution of Cuthbert Mayne was far from being purposed as the opening of a religious persecution. To modern eyes there is something even more revolting than open persecution in a policy which branded every Catholic priest as a traitor and all Catholic worship as disloyalty; but the first step towards toleration was won when the Queen rested her system of repression on purely political grounds. If Elizabeth was a persecutor, she was the first English ruler who felt the charge of religious persecution to be a stigma on her rule. Nor can it be denied that there was a real political danger in the new 4-310]missionaries. Allen was a restless conspirator, and the work of his seminary priests was meant to aid a new plan of the Papacy for the conquest of England. In 1576, on the death of Requesens, the Spanish governor of the Low Countries, a successor was found for him in Don John of Austria, a natural brother of Philip, the victor of Lepanto, and the most famous general of his day. The temper of Don John was daring and ambitious; his aim was a crown; and he sought in the Netherlands the means of winning one. His ambition lent itself easily to the schemes of Mary Stuart and of Rome; and he resolved to bring about by quick concessions a settlement in the Low Countries, to cross with the Spanish forces employed there to England, to raise the Catholics in revolt, to free and marry Mary Stuart, and reign in her right as an English king. The plan was an able one; but it was foiled ere he reached his post. The Spanish troops had mutinied on the death of Requesens; and their sack of Antwerp drew the States of the Netherlands together in a "Pacification of Ghent." All differences of religion were set aside in a common purpose to drive out the stranger. Baffled as he was, the subtlety of Don John turned even this league to account. Their demand for the withdrawal of the Spanish troops, though fatal to Philip's interests in the Low Countries, could be made to serve the interests of Don John across 4-311]the seas. In February 1577, therefore, he ratified the Pacification of Ghent, consented to the maintenance of the liberties of the States, and engaged to withdraw the army. He stipulated only for its withdrawal by sea, and for a delay of three months, which was needful for the arrangement of his descent on the English coast. Both demands however were refused; he was forced to withdraw his troops at once and by land, and the scheme of the Papacy found itself utterly foiled.
The Prince of Parma.
Secret as were the plans of Don John, Elizabeth had seen how near danger had drawn to her. Fortune once more proved her friend, for the efforts of Don John to bring about a reconciliation of the Netherlands proved fruitless, and negotiations soon passed again into the clash of arms. But the Queen was warned at last. On the new outbreak of war in 1577 she allied herself with the States and sent them money and men. Such a step, though not in form an act of hostility against Philip, for the Provinces with which she leagued herself still owned themselves as Philip's subjects, was a measure which proved the Queen's sense of her need of the Netherlands. Though she had little sympathy with their effort for freedom, she saw in them "the one bridle to Spain to keep war out of our own gate." But she was to see the war drift nearer and nearer to her shores. Now that the Netherlands were all but lost Philip's slow stubborn temper strung itself to 4-312]meet the greatness of the peril. The Spanish army was reinforced; and in January 1578 it routed the army of the States on the field of Gemblours. The sickness and death of Don John arrested its progress for a few months; but his successor, Philip's nephew, Alexander Farnese, the Prince of Parma, soon proved his greatness whether as a statesman or a general. He seized on the difference of faith between the Catholic and Protestant States as a means of division. The Pacification of Ghent was broken at the opening of 1579 by the secession of the Walloon provinces of the southern border. It was only by a new league of the seven northern provinces, where Protestantism was dominant, in the Union of Utrecht that William of Orange could meet Parma's stroke. But the general union of the Low Countries was fatally broken, and from this moment the ten Catholic states passed one by one into the hands of Spain.
The Papal attack.
The new vigour of Philip in the West marked a change in the whole policy of Spain. Till now, in spite of endless provocations, Philip had clung to the English alliance. Fear of Elizabeth's union with France, dread of her help to the Netherlands, had steeled him to bear patiently her defiance of his counsels, her neglect of his threats, her seizure of his treasure, her persecution of the Catholic party which looked to him as its head. But patience had only been met by fresh attacks. 4-313]The attempt of Don John had spurred Elizabeth to ally herself to France. She was expected every hour to marry the Duke of Anjou. She had given friendship and aid to the revolted provinces. Above all her freebooters were carrying war into the far Pacific, and challenging the right of Spain to the New World of the West. Philip drifted whether he would or no into a position of hostility. He had not forbidden the projects of Don John; he at last promised aid to the projects of Rome. In 1579 the Papacy planned the greatest and most comprehensive of its attacks upon Elizabeth. If the Catholic powers still hesitated and delayed, Rome was resolute to try its own strength in the West. The spiritual reconciliation of England was not enough. However successful the efforts of the seminary priests might prove they would leave Elizabeth on the throne, and the reign of Elizabeth was a defeat to the Papacy. In issuing its Bull of Deposition Rome had staked all on the ruin of the Queen, and even if England became Catholic Gregory could not suffer his spiritual subjects to obey a ruler whom his sentence had declared an unlawful possessor of the throne. And now that the temper of Spain promised more vigorous action Rome could pave the way for a landing of Philip's troops by stirring up a threefold danger for Elizabeth. While fresh and more vigorous missionaries egged on the English Catholics to 4-314]revolt, the Pope hastened to bring about a Catholic revolution in Scotland and a Catholic insurrection in Ireland.
In Ireland Sidney's victory had been followed by ten years of peace. Had the land been left to itself there would have been nothing more than the common feuds and disturbances of the time. The policy of driving its people to despair by seizing their lands for English settlements had been abandoned since Mary's day. The religious question had hardly any practical existence. On the Queen's accession indeed the ecclesiastical policy of the Protestants had been revived in name; Rome was again renounced; the Act of Uniformity forced on the island the use of the English Prayer-Book and compelled attendances at the services where it was used. There was as before a general air of compliance with the law. Even in the districts without the Pale the bishops generally conformed; and the only exceptions of which we have any information were to be found in the extreme south and in the north, where resistance was distant enough to be safe. But the real cause of this apparent submission to the Act of Uniformity lay in the fact that it remained, and necessarily remained, a dead letter. It was impossible to find any considerable number of English ministers, or of Irish priests acquainted with English. Meath was one of the most civilized dioceses of the island, and out of a 4-315]hundred curates in it hardly ten knew any tongue save their own. The promise that the service-book should be translated into Irish was never carried out, and the final clause of the Act itself authorized the use of a Latin rendering of it till further order could be taken. But this, like its other provisions, was ignored; and throughout Elizabeth's reign the gentry of the Pale went unquestioned to Mass. There was in fact no religious persecution, and in the many complaints of Shane O'Neill we find no mention of a religious grievance.
Ireland and the Papacy.
But this was far from being the view of Rome or of Spain, of the Catholic missionaries, or of the Irish exiles abroad. They represented and perhaps believed the Irish people to be writhing under a religious oppression which it was burning to shake off. They saw in the Irish loyalty to Catholicism a lever for overthrowing the heretic Queen. Stukely, an Irish refugee, had pressed on the Pope and Spain as early as 1571 the policy of a descent on Ireland; and though a force gathered in 1578 by the Pope for this purpose was diverted to a mad crusade against the Moors, his plans were carried out in 1579 by the landing of a few soldiers under the brother of the Earl of Desmond, James Fitzmaurice, on the coast of Kerry. The Irish however held aloof, and Fitzmaurice fell in a skirmish; but the revolt of the Earl of Desmond gave fresh hope of success, 4-316]and the rising was backed by the arrival in 1580 of two thousand Papal soldiers "in five great ships." These mercenaries were headed by an Italian captain, San Giuseppe, and accompanied by a Papal Legate, the Jesuit Sanders, who brought plenary indulgence for all who joined the sacred enterprise and threats of damnation for all who resisted it. "What will you answer to the Pope's treatment," ran his letter to the Irish, "when he, bringing us the Pope's and other Catholic princes' aid, shall charge you with the crime and pain of heretics for maintaining an heretical pretensed Queen against the public sentence of Christ's vicar? Can she with her feigned supremacy absolve and acquit you from the Pope's excommunication and curse?" The news of the landing of this force stirred in England a Protestant frenzy that foiled the scheme for a Catholic marriage with the Duke of Anjou; while Elizabeth, panic-stricken, urged the French king to save her from Philip by an invasion of the Netherlands. But the danger passed quickly away. The Papal attempt ended in a miserable failure. The fort of Smerwick, in which the invaders entrenched themselves, was forced to surrender, and its garrison put ruthlessly to the sword. The Earl of Desmond, who after long indecision rose to support them, was defeated and hunted over his own country, which the panic-born cruelty of his pursuers harried into a wilderness.
The Jesuit landing.
Pitiless as it was, the work done in Munster spread a terror over Ireland which served England in good stead when the struggle of Catholicism culminated in the fight with the Armada; and not a chieftain stirred during that memorable year save to massacre the miserable men who were shipwrecked along the coast of Bantry or Sligo. But the Irish revolt did much to give fresh strength to the panic which the efforts of the seminary priests had roused in England. This was raised to frenzy by news that to the efforts of the seminary priests were now added those of Jesuit missionaries. Pope Gregory had resolved to support his military effort in Ireland by a fresh missionary effort in England itself. Philip would only promise to invade England if the co-operation of its Catholics was secured; and the aim of the new mission was to prepare them for revolt. While the force of San Giuseppe was being equipped for Kerry a young convert, William Gilbert, was despatched to form a Catholic association in England; among whose members the chief were afterwards found engaged in conspiracies for the death of Elizabeth or sharing in the Gunpowder Plot. As soon as this was organized, as many as fifty priests, if we may trust Allen's statement, were sent to land secretly on the coast. They were headed by two men of remarkable talents and energy. A large number of the Oxford refugees at Douay had joined the Order of 4-318]Jesus, whose members were already famous for their blind devotion to the will and judgements of Rome; and the two ablest and most eloquent of these exiles, Campian, once a fellow of St. John's, and Parsons, once a fellow of Balliol, were despatched in the spring of 1580 as the heads of a Jesuit mission in England. Their special aim was to win the nobility and gentry to the Church, and for the moment their success seemed overwhelming. "It is supposed," wrote Allen triumphantly, "that there are twenty thousand more Catholics this year than last." The eagerness shown to hear Campian was so great that in spite of the rewards offered for his arrest by the Government he was able to preach with hardly a show of concealment to a large audience at Smithfield. From London the Jesuits wandered in the disguise of captains or serving-men, sometimes even in the cassocks of the English clergy, through many of the counties; and wherever they went the zeal of the Catholic gentry revived. The list of nobles won back to the older faith by these wandering apostles was headed by the name of Lord Oxford, Cecil's own son-in-law, and the proudest among English peers.
The Protestant terror.
Their success in undoing the Queen's work of compromise was shown in a more public way by the growing withdrawal of the Catholics from attendance at the worship of the English Church. It was plain that a fierce religious struggle was at 4-319]hand, and men felt that behind this lay a yet fiercer political struggle. Philip's hosts were looming over sea, and the horrors of foreign invasion seemed about to be added to the horrors of civil war. The panic of the Protestants and of the Parliament outran even the real greatness of the danger. The little group of missionaries was magnified by popular fancy into a host of disguised Jesuits; and the invasion of this imaginary host was met by the seizure and torture of as many priests as the government could lay hands on, the imprisonment of recusants, the securing of the prominent Catholics throughout the country, and by the assembling of Parliament at the opening of 1581. An Act "to retain the Queen's Majesty's subjects in due obedience" prohibited the saying of Mass even in private houses, increased the fine on recusants to twenty pounds a month, and enacted that "all persons pretending to any power of absolving subjects from their allegiance, or practising to withdraw them to the Romish religion, with all persons after the present session willingly so absolved or reconciled to the See of Rome, shall be guilty of High Treason." The way in which the vast powers conferred on the Crown by this statute were used by Elizabeth was not only characteristic in itself, but important as at once defining the policy to which, in theory at least, her successors adhered for more than a hundred years. No layman was brought to the 4-320]bar or to the block under its provisions. The oppression of the Catholic gentry was limited to an exaction, more or less rigorous at different times, of the fines for recusancy or non-attendance at public worship. The work of bloodshed was reserved wholly for priests, and under Elizabeth this work was done with a ruthless energy which for the moment crushed the Catholic reaction. The Jesuits were tracked by pursuivants and spies, dragged from their hiding-places, and sent in batches to the Tower. So hot was the pursuit that Parsons was forced to fly across the Channel; while Campian was arrested in July 1581, brought a prisoner through the streets of London amidst the howling of the mob, and placed at the bar on the charge of treason. "Our religion only is our crime," was a plea which galled his judges; but the political danger of the Jesuit preaching was disclosed in his evasion of any direct reply when questioned as to his belief in the validity of the excommunication or deposition of the Queen by the Papal See, and after much hesitation he was executed as a traitor.
The Catholic resistance.
Rome was now at open war with England. Even the more conservative Englishmen looked on the Papacy as the first among England's foes. In striving to enforce the claims of its temporal supremacy, Rome had roused against it that national pride which had battled with it even in the middle ages. From that hour therefore the 4-321]cause of Catholicism was lost. England became Protestant in heart and soul when Protestantism became identified with patriotism. But it was not to Protestantism only that this attitude of Rome and the policy it forced on the Government gave a new impulse. The death of Campian was the prelude to a steady, pitiless effort at the extermination of his class. If we adopt the Catholic estimate of the time, the twenty years which followed saw the execution of two hundred priests, while a yet greater number perished in the filthy and fever-stricken gaols into which they were plunged. The work of reconciliation to Rome was arrested by this ruthless energy; but, on the other hand, the work which the priests had effected could not be undone. The system of quiet compulsion and conciliation to which Elizabeth had trusted for the religious reunion of her subjects was foiled; and the English Catholics, fined, imprisoned at every crisis of national danger, and deprived of their teachers by the prison and the gibbet, were severed more hopelessly than ever from the national Church. A fresh impulse was thus given to the growing current of opinion which was to bring England at last to recognize the right of every man to freedom both of conscience and of worship. "In Henry's days, the father of this Elizabeth," wrote a Catholic priest at this time, "the whole kingdom with all its bishops and learned men abjured their faith at one word of the tyrant. But now in his 4-322]daughter's days boys and women boldly profess the faith before the judge, and refuse to make the slightest concession even at the threat of death." What Protestantism had first done under Mary, Catholicism was doing under Elizabeth. It was deepening the sense of personal religion. It was revealing in men who had till now cowered before the might of kingship a power greater than the might of kings. It was breaking the spell which the monarchy had laid on the imagination of the people. The Crown ceased to seem irresistible when "boys and women" dared to resist it: it lost its mysterious sacredness when half the nation looked on their sovereign as a heretic. The "divinity that doth hedge a king" was rudely broken in upon when Jesuit libellers were able to brand the wearer of the crown not only as a usurper but as a profligate and abandoned woman. The mighty impulse of patriotism, of national pride, which rallied the whole people round Elizabeth as the Armada threatened England or Drake threatened Spain, shielded indeed Elizabeth from much of the natural results of this drift of opinion. But with her death the new sentiment started suddenly to the front. The divine right of kings, the divine right of bishops, found themselves face to face with a passion for religious and political liberty which had gained vigour from the dungeon of the Catholic priest as from that of the Protestant zealot.
The popular passion.
The work of the Jesuits, the withdrawal of the Catholics from the churches, the panic of the Protestants, were signs that the control of events was passing from the hands of statesmen and diplomatists, and that the long period of suspense which Elizabeth's policy had won was ending in the clash of national and political passions. The rising fanaticism of the Catholic world was breaking down the caution and hesitation of Philip; while England was setting aside the balanced neutrality of her Queen and pushing boldly forward to a contest which it felt to be inevitable. The public opinion, to which Elizabeth was so sensitive, took every day a bolder and more decided tone. Her cold indifference to the heroic struggle in Flanders was more than compensated by the enthusiasm it roused among the nation at large. The earlier Flemish refugees found a home in the Cinque 4-324]Ports. The exiled merchants of Antwerp were welcomed by the merchants of London. While Elizabeth dribbled out her secret aid to the Prince of Orange, the London traders sent him half-a-million from their own purses, a sum equal to a year's revenue of the Crown. Volunteers stole across the Channel in increasing numbers to the aid of the Dutch, till the five hundred Englishmen who fought in the beginning of the struggle rose to a brigade of five thousand, whose bravery turned one of the most critical battles of the war. Dutch privateers found shelter in English ports, and English vessels hoisted the flag of the States for a dash at the Spanish traders. Protestant fervour rose steadily among Englishmen as "the best captains and soldiers" returned from the campaigns in the Low Countries to tell of Alva's atrocities, or as privateers brought back tales of English seamen who had been seized in Spain and the New World, to linger amidst the tortures of the Inquisition, or to die in its fires. In the presence of this steady drift of popular passion the diplomacy of Elizabeth became of little moment. If the Queen was resolute for peace, England was resolute for war. A new daring had arisen since the beginning of her reign, when Cecil and Elizabeth stood alone in their belief in England's strength, and when the diplomatists of Europe regarded her obstinate defiance of Philip's counsels as "madness." The whole English people had 4-325]caught the self-confidence and daring of their Queen.
It was the instinct of liberty as well as of Protestantism that drove England forward to a conflict with Philip of Spain. Spain was at this moment the mightiest of European powers. The discoveries of Columbus had given it the New World of the West; the conquests of Cortes and Pizarro poured into its treasury the plunder of Mexico and Peru; its galleons brought the rich produce of the Indies, their gold, their jewels, their ingots of silver, to the harbour of Cadiz. To the New World the Spanish king added the fairest and wealthiest portions of the Old; he was master of Naples and Milan, the richest and most fertile districts of Italy; in spite of revolt he was still lord of the busy provinces of the Low Countries, of Flanders, the great manufacturing district of the time, and of Antwerp, which had become the central mart for the commerce of the world. His native kingdom, poor as it was, supplied him with the steadiest and the most daring soldiers that Europe had seen since the fall of the Roman Empire. The renown of the Spanish infantry had been growing from the day when it flung off the onset of the French chivalry on the field of Ravenna; and the Spanish generals stood without rivals in their military skill, as they stood without rivals in their ruthless cruelty.
The whole too of this enormous power was 4-326]massed in the hands of a single man. Served as he was by able statesmen and subtle diplomatists, Philip of Spain was his own sole minister; labouring day after day, like a clerk, through the long years of his reign, amidst the papers which crowded his closet; but resolute to let nothing pass without his supervision, and to suffer nothing to be done save by his express command. His scheme of rule differed widely from that of his father. Charles had held the vast mass of his dominions by a purely personal bond. He chose no capital, but moved ceaselessly from land to land; he was a German in the Empire, a Spaniard in Castille, a Netherlander in the Netherlands. But in the hands of Philip his father's heritage became a Spanish realm. His capital was fixed at Madrid. The rest of his dominions sank into provinces of Spain, to be governed by Spanish viceroys, and subordinated to the policy and interests of a Spanish minister. All local liberties, all varieties of administration, all national differences were set aside for a monotonous despotism which was wielded by Philip himself. It was his boast that everywhere in the vast compass of his dominions he was "an absolute king." It was to realize this idea of unshackled power that he crushed the liberties of Aragon, as his father had crushed the liberties of Castille, and sent Alva to tread under foot the constitutional freedom of the Low Countries. His bigotry went hand in hand with his thirst for rule. 4-327]Catholicism was the one common bond that knit his realms together, and policy as well as religious faith made Philip the champion of Catholicism. Italy and Spain lay hushed beneath the terror of the Inquisition, while Flanders was being purged of heresy by the stake and the sword.
Philip and Elizabeth.
The shadow of this gigantic power fell like a deadly blight over Europe. The new Protestantism, like the new spirit of political liberty, saw its real foe in Philip. It was Spain, rather than the Guises, against which Coligni and the Huguenots struggled in vain; it was Spain with which William of Orange was wrestling for religious and civil freedom; it was Spain which was soon to plunge Germany into the chaos of the Thirty Years War, and to which the Catholic world had for twenty years been looking, and looking in vain, for a victory over heresy in England. Vast in fact as Philip's resources were, they were drained by the yet vaster schemes of ambition into which his religion and his greed of power, as well as the wide distribution of his dominions, perpetually drew him. To coerce the weaker States of Italy, to command the Mediterranean, to keep a hold on the African coast, to preserve his influence in Germany, to support Catholicism in France, to crush heresy in Flanders, to despatch one Armada against the Turk and another against England, were aims mighty enough to exhaust even the power of the Spanish monarchy. But it was rather on the 4-328]character of Philip than on the exhaustion of his treasury that Elizabeth counted for success in the struggle which had so long been going on between them. The king's temper was slow, cautious even to timidity, losing itself continually in delays, in hesitations, in anticipating remote perils, in waiting for distant chances; and on the slowness and hesitation of his temper his rival had been playing ever since she mounted the throne. The agility, the sudden changes of Elizabeth, her lies, her mystifications, though they failed to deceive Philip, puzzled and impeded his mind. The diplomatic contest between the two was like the fight which England was soon to see between the ponderous Spanish galleon and the light pinnace of the buccaneers.
But amidst all the cloud of intrigue which disguised their policy, the actual course of their relations had been clear and simple. In the earlier years of Elizabeth Philip had been driven to her alliance by his fear of France and his dread of the establishment of a French supremacy over England and Scotland through the accession of Mary Stuart. As time went on, the discontent and rising of the Netherlands made it of hardly less import to avoid a strife with the Queen. Had revolt in England prospered, or Mary Stuart succeeded in her countless plots, or Elizabeth fallen beneath an assassin's knife, Philip was ready to have struck in and reaped the fruits of other men's labours. 4-329]But his stake was too vast to risk an attack while the Queen sat firmly on her throne; and the cry of the English Catholics, or the pressure of the Pope, failed to drive the Spanish king into strife with Elizabeth. But as the tide of religious passion which had so long been held in check broke over its banks the political face of Europe changed. Philip had less to dread from France or from an English alliance with France. The abstinence of Elizabeth from intervention in the Netherlands was neutralized by the intervention of the English people. Above all, the English hostility threatened Philip in a quarter where he was more sensitive than elsewhere, his dominion in the West.
Spain and the New World.
Foiled as the ambition of Charles the Fifth had been in the Old World, his empire had widened with every year in the New. At his accession to the throne the Spanish rule had hardly spread beyond the Island of St. Domingo, which Columbus had discovered twenty years before. But greed and enterprise drew Cortes to the mainland, and in 1521 his conquest of Mexico added a realm of gold to the dominions of the Emperor. Ten years later the great empire of Peru yielded to the arms of Pizarro. With the conquest of Chili the whole western coast of South America passed into the hands of Spain; and successive expeditions planted the Spanish flag at point upon point along the coast of the 4-330]Atlantic from Florida to the river Plate. A Papal grant had conveyed the whole of America to the Spanish crown, and fortune seemed for long years to ratify the judgement of the Vatican. No European nation save Portugal disputed the possession of the New World, and Portugal was too busy with its discoveries in Africa and India to claim more than the territory of Brazil. Though Francis the First sent seamen to explore the American coast, his ambition found other work at home; and a Huguenot colony which settled in Florida was cut to pieces by the Spaniards. Only in the far north did a few French settlers find rest beside the waters of the St. Lawrence. England had reached the mainland even earlier than Spain, for before Columbus touched its shores Sebastian Cabot, a seaman of Genoese blood but born and bred in England, sailed with an English crew from Bristol in 1497, and pushed along the coast of America to the south as far as Florida, and northward as high as Hudson's Bay. But no Englishman followed on the track of this bold adventurer; and while Spain built up her empire in the New World, the English seamen reaped a humbler harvest in the fisheries of Newfoundland.
There was little therefore in the circumstances which attended the first discovery of the western continent that promised well for freedom. Its one result as yet was to give an enormous impulse to the most bigoted and tyrannical among the powers 4-331]of Europe, and to pour the gold of Mexico and Peru into the treasury of Spain. But as the reign of Elizabeth went on the thoughts of Englishmen turned again to the New World. A happy instinct drew them from the first not to the southern shores that Spain was conquering, but to the ruder and more barren districts of the north. In 1576 the dream of finding a passage to Asia by a voyage round the northern coast of the American continent drew a west-country seaman, Martin Frobisher, to the coast of Labrador; and, foiled as he was in his quest, the news he brought back of the existence of gold mines there set adventurers cruising among the icebergs of Baffin's Bay. Elizabeth herself joined in the venture; but the settlement proved a failure, the ore which the ships brought back turned out to be worthless, and England was saved from that greed of gold which was to be fatal to the energies of Spain. But, failure as it was, Frobisher's venture had shown the readiness of Englishmen to defy the claims of Spain to the exclusive possession of America or the American seas. They were already defying these claims in a yet more galling way. The seamen of the southern and south-western coasts had long been carrying on a half-piratical war on their own account. Four years after Elizabeth's accession the Channel swarmed with "sea-dogs," as they were called, who sailed under letters of marque from Condé and the Huguenot 4-332]leaders, and took heed neither of the complaints of the French Court nor of their own Queen's efforts at repression. Her efforts broke against the connivance of every man along the coast, of the very port officers of the Crown, who made profit out of the spoil which the plunderers brought home, and of the gentry of the west, whose love of venture made them go hand in hand with the sea-dogs. They broke above all against the national craving for open fight with Spain, and the Protestant craving for open fight with Catholicism. If the Queen held back from any formal part in the great war of religions across the Channel, her subjects were keen to take their part in it. Young Englishmen crossed the sea to serve under Condé or Henry of Navarre. The war in the Netherlands drew hundreds of Protestants to the field. Their passionate longing for a religious war found a wider sphere on the sea. When the suspension of the French contest forced the sea-dogs to haul down the Huguenot flag, they joined in the cruises of the Dutch "sea-beggars." From plundering the vessels of Havre and Rochelle they turned to plunder the galleons of Spain.
Their outrages tried Philip's patience; but his slow resentment only quickened into angry alarm when the sea-dogs sailed westward to seek a richer spoil. The Papal decree which gave the New World to Spain, the threats of the Spanish king 4-333]against any Protestant who should visit its seas, fell idly on the ears of English seamen. Philip's care to save his new dominions from the touch of heresy was only equalled by his resolve to suffer no trade between them and other lands than Spain. But the sea-dogs were as ready to traffic as to fight. It was in vain that their vessels were seized, and the sailors flung into the dungeons of the Inquisition, "laden with irons, without sight of sun or moon." The profits of the trade were large enough to counteract its perils; and the bigotry of Philip was met by a bigotry as merciless as his own. The Puritanism of the sea-dogs went hand in hand with their love of adventure. To break through the Catholic monopoly of the New World, to kill Spaniards, to sell negroes, to sack gold-ships, were in these men's minds a seemly work for "the elect of God." The name of Francis Drake became the terror of the Spanish Indies. In Drake a Protestant fanaticism went hand in hand with a splendid daring. He conceived the design of penetrating into the Pacific, whose waters had till then never seen an English flag; and backed by a little company of adventurers, he set sail in 1577 for the southern seas in a vessel hardly as big as a Channel schooner, with a few yet smaller companions who fell away before the storms and perils of the voyage. But Drake with his one ship and eighty men held boldly on; and passing the Straits of Magellan, untraversed 4-334]as yet by any Englishman, swept the unguarded coast of Chili and Peru, loaded his bark with the gold dust and silver ingots of Potosi, as well as with the pearls, emeralds, and diamonds which formed the cargo of the great galleon that sailed once a year from Lima to Cadiz. With spoils of above half-a-million in value the daring adventurer steered undauntedly for the Moluccas, rounded the Cape of Good Hope, and in 1580, after completing the circuit of the globe, dropped anchor again in Plymouth harbour.
Conquest of Portugal.
The romantic daring of Drake's voyage as well as the vastness of his spoil roused a general enthusiasm throughout England. But the welcome which he received from Elizabeth on his return was accepted by Philip as an outrage which could only be expiated by war. Sluggish as it was, the blood of the Spanish king was fired at last by the defiance with which the Queen listened to all demands for redress. She met a request for Drake's surrender by knighting the freebooter and by wearing in her crown the jewels he offered her as a present. When the Spanish ambassador threatened that "matters would come to the cannon," she replied "quietly, in her most natural voice, as if she were telling a common story," wrote Mendoza, "that if I used threats of that kind she would fling me into a dungeon." Outraged indeed as Philip was, she believed that with the Netherlands still in revolt and France longing 4-335]for her alliance to enable it to seize them, the king could not afford to quarrel with her. But the victories and diplomacy of Parma were already reassuring Philip in the Netherlands; while the alliance of Elizabeth with the revolted Provinces convinced him at last that their reduction could best be brought about by an invasion of England and the establishment of Mary Stuart on its throne. With this conviction he lent himself to the plans of Rome, and waited only for the rising in Ireland and the revolt of the English Catholics which Pope Gregory promised him to despatch forces from both Flanders and Spain. But the Irish rising was over before Philip could act; and before the Jesuits could rouse England to rebellion the Spanish king himself was drawn to a new scheme of ambition by the death of King Sebastian of Portugal in 1580. Philip claimed the Portuguese crown; and in less than two months Alva laid the kingdom at his feet. The conquest of Portugal was fatal to the Papal projects against England, for while the armies of Spain marched on Lisbon Elizabeth was able to throw the leaders of the expected revolt into prison and to send Campian to the scaffold. On the other hand it raised Philip into a far more formidable foe. The conquest almost doubled his power. His gain was far more than that of Portugal itself. While Spain had been winning the New World her sister-kingdom had been winning a wide though scattered 4-336]dominion on the African coast, the coast of India, and the islands of the Pacific. Less in extent, the Portuguese settlements were at the moment of even greater value to the mother country than the colonies of Spain. The gold of Guinea, the silks of Goa, the spices of the Philippines made Lisbon one of the marts of Europe. The sword of Alva had given Philip a hold on the richest trade of the world. It had given him the one navy that as yet rivalled his own. His flag claimed mastery in the Indian and the Pacific seas, as it claimed mastery in the Atlantic and Mediterranean.
The marriage with Anjou.
The conquest of Portugal therefore wholly changed Philip's position. It not only doubled his power and resources, but it did this at a time when fortune seemed everywhere wavering to his side. The provinces of the Netherlands, which still maintained a struggle for their liberties, drew courage from despair; and met Philip's fresh hopes of their subjection by a solemn repudiation of his sovereignty in the summer of 1581. But they did not dream that they could stand alone, and they sought the aid of France by choosing as their new sovereign the Duke of Alençon, who on his brother Henry's accession to the throne had become Duke of Anjou. The choice was only part of a political scheme which was to bind the whole of Western Europe together against Spain. The conquest of Portugal had at once drawn France and England 4-337]into close relations, and Catharine of Medicis strove to league the two countries by a marriage of Elizabeth with the Duke of Anjou. Such a match would have been a purely political one, for Elizabeth was now forty-eight, and Francis of Anjou had no qualities either of mind or body to recommend him to the Queen. But the English ministers pressed for it, Elizabeth amidst all her coquetries seemed at last ready to marry, and the States seized the moment to lend themselves to the alliance of the two powers by choosing the Duke as their lord. Anjou accepted their offer, and crossing to the Netherlands, drove Parma from Cambray; then sailing again to England, he spent the winter in a fresh wooing.
But the Duke's wooing still proved fruitless. The schemes of diplomacy found themselves shattered against the religious enthusiasm of the time. While Orange and Catharine and Elizabeth saw only the political weight of the marriage as a check upon Philip, the sterner Protestants in England saw in it a victory for Catholicism at home. Of the difference between the bigoted Catholicism of Spain and the more tolerant Catholicism of the court of France such men recked nothing. The memory of St. Bartholomew's day hung around Catharine of Medicis; and the success of the Jesuits at this moment roused the dread of a general conspiracy against Protestantism. A Puritan lawyer named Stubbs only expressed 4-338]the alarm of his fellows in his "Discovery of a Gaping Gulf" in which England was to plunge through the match with Anjou. When the hand of the pamphleteer was cut off as a penalty for his daring, Stubbs waved his hat with the hand that was left, and cried "God save Queen Elizabeth." But the Queen knew how stern a fanaticism went with this unflinching loyalty, and her dread of a religious conflict within her realm must have quickened the fears which the worthless temper of her wooer cannot but have inspired. She gave however no formal refusal of her hand. So long as coquetry sufficed to hold France and England together, she was ready to play the coquette; and it was as the future husband of the Queen that Anjou again appeared in 1582 in the Netherlands and received the formal submission of the revolted States, save Holland and Zealand. But the subtle schemes which centred in him broke down before the selfish perfidy of the Duke. Resolved to be ruler in more than name, he planned the seizure of the greater cities of the Netherlands, and at the opening of 1583 made a fruitless effort to take Antwerp by surprise. It was in vain that Orange strove by patient negotiation to break the blow. The Duke fled homewards, the match and sovereignty were at an end, the alliance of the three powers vanished like a dream. The last Catholic provinces passed over to Parma's side; the weakened Netherlands found themselves parted from 4-339]France; and at the close of 1583 Elizabeth saw herself left face to face with Philip of Spain.
The Puritans and the Crown.
Nor was this all. At home as well as abroad troubles were thickening around the Queen. The fanaticism of the Catholic world without was stirring a Protestant fanaticism within the realm. As Rome became more and more the centre of hostility to England, patriotism itself stirred men to a hatred of Rome; and their hatred of Rome passed easily into a love for the fiercer and sterner Calvinism which looked on all compromise with Rome, or all acceptance of religious traditions or usages which had been associated with Rome, as treason against God. Puritanism, as this religious temper was called, was becoming the creed of every earnest Protestant throughout the realm; and the demand for a further advance towards the Calvinistic system and a more open breach with Catholicism which was embodied in the suppression of the "superstitious usages" became stronger than ever. But Elizabeth was firm as of old to make no advance. Greatly as the Protestants had grown, she knew they were still a minority in the realm. If the hotter Catholics were fast decreasing, they remained a large and important body. But the mass of the nation was neither Catholic nor Protestant. It had lost faith in the Papacy. It was slowly drifting to a new faith in the Bible. But it still clung obstinately to the past; it still recoiled from violent change; its temper was religious 4-340]rather than theological, and it shrank from the fanaticism of Geneva as it shrank from the fanaticism of Rome. It was a proof of Elizabeth's genius that alone among her counsellors she understood this drift of opinion, and withstood measures which would have startled the mass of Englishmen into a new resistance.
The High Commission.
But her policy was wider than her acts. The growing Puritanism of the clergy stirred her wrath above measure, and she met the growth of "nonconforming" ministers by conferring new powers in 1583 on the Ecclesiastical Commission. From being a temporary board which represented the Royal Supremacy in matters ecclesiastical, the Commission was now turned into a permanent body wielding the almost unlimited powers of the Crown. All opinions or acts contrary to the Statutes of Supremacy and Uniformity fell within its cognizance. A right of deprivation placed the clergy at its mercy. It had power to alter or amend the statutes of colleges or schools. Not only heresy and schism and nonconformity, but incest or aggravated adultery were held to fall within its scope; its means of enquiry were left without limit, and it might fine or imprison at its will. By the mere establishment of such a court half the work of the Reformation was undone. The large number of civilians on the board indeed seemed to furnish some security against the excess of ecclesiastical tyranny. Of its forty-four 4-341]commissioners, however, few actually took any part in its proceedings; and the powers of the Commission were practically left in the hands of the successive Primates. No Archbishop of Canterbury since the days of Augustine had wielded an authority so vast, so utterly despotic, as that of Whitgift and Bancroft and Abbot and Laud. The most terrible feature of their spiritual tyranny was its wholly personal character. The old symbols of doctrine were gone, and the lawyers had not yet stepped in to protect the clergy by defining the exact limits of the new. The result was that at the commission-board at Lambeth the Primates created their own tests of doctrine with an utter indifference to those created by law. In one instance Parker deprived a vicar of his benefice for a denial of the verbal inspiration of the Bible. Nor did the successive Archbishops care greatly if the test was a varying or a conflicting one. Whitgift strove to force on the Church the Calvinistic supralapsarianism of his Lambeth Articles. Bancroft, who followed him, was as earnest in enforcing his anti-Calvinistic dogma of the divine right of the episcopate. Abbot had no mercy for Erastians. Laud had none for anti-Erastians. It is no wonder that the Ecclesiastical Commission, which these men represented, soon stank in the nostrils of the English clergy. Its establishment however marked the adoption of a more resolute policy on the part of the Crown, and its efforts were backed by stern 4-342]measures of repression. All preaching or reading in private houses was forbidden; and in spite of the refusal of Parliament to enforce the requirement of them by law, subscription to the Three Articles was exacted from every member of the clergy. For the moment these measures were crowned with success. The movement which Cartwright still headed was checked; Cartwright himself was driven from his Professorship; and an outer uniformity of worship was more and more brought about by the steady pressure of the Commission. The old liberty which had been allowed in London and the other Protestant parts of the kingdom was no longer permitted to exist. The leading Puritan clergy, whose nonconformity had hitherto been winked at, were called upon to submit to the surplice, and to make the sign of the cross in baptism. The remonstrances of the country gentry availed as little as the protest of Lord Burleigh himself to protect two hundred of the best ministers from being driven from their parsonages on a refusal to subscribe to the Three Articles.
But the political danger of the course on which the Crown had entered was seen in the rise of a spirit of vigorous opposition, such as had not made its appearance since the accession of the Tudors. The growing power of public opinion received a striking recognition in the struggle which bears the name of the "Martin Marprelate controversy." The Puritans had from the first appealed by their 4-343]pamphlets from the Crown to the people, and Archbishop Whitgift bore witness to their influence on opinion by his efforts to gag the Press. The regulations made by the Star-Chamber in 1585 for this purpose are memorable as the first step in the long struggle of government after government to check the liberty of printing. The irregular censorship which had long existed was now finally organized. Printing was restricted to London and the two Universities, the number of printers was reduced, and all applicants for license to print were placed under the supervision of the Company of Stationers. Every publication too, great or small, had to receive the approbation of the Primate or the Bishop of London. The first result of this system of repression was the appearance, in the very year of the Armada, of a series of anonymous pamphlets bearing the significant name of "Martin Marprelate," and issued from a secret press which found refuge from the Royal pursuivants in the country-houses of the gentry. The press was at last seized; and the suspected authors of these scurrilous libels, Penry, a young Welshman, and a minister named Udall, died, the one in prison, the other on the scaffold. But the virulence and boldness of their language produced a powerful effect, for it was impossible under the system of Elizabeth to "mar" the bishops without attacking the Crown; and a new age of political liberty was felt to be at hand when Martin Marprelate forced the 4-344]political and ecclesiastical measures of the Government into the arena of public discussion.
The gathering of the Armada.
The strife between Puritanism and the Crown was to grow into a fatal conflict, but at the moment the Queen's policy was in the main a wise one. It was no time for scaring and disuniting the mass of the people when the united energies of England might soon hardly suffice to withstand the onset of Spain. On the other hand, strike as she might at the Puritan party, it was bound to support Elizabeth in the coming struggle with Philip. For the sense of personal wrong and the outcry of the Catholic world against his selfish reluctance to avenge the blood of its martyrs had at last told on the Spanish king, and in 1584 the first vessels of an armada which was destined for the conquest of England began to gather in the Tagus. Resentment and fanaticism indeed were backed by a cool policy. The gain of the Portuguese dominions made it only the more needful for Philip to assert his mastery of the seas. He had now to shut Englishman and heretic not only out of the New World of the West but out of the lucrative traffic with the East. And every day showed a firmer resolve in Englishmen to claim the New World for their own. The plunder of Drake's memorable voyage had lured fresh freebooters to the "Spanish Main." The failure of Frobisher's quest for gold only drew the nobler spirits engaged in it to plans of colonisation. North America, vexed by long 4-345]winters and thinly peopled by warlike tribes of Indians, gave a rough welcome to the earlier colonists; and after a fruitless attempt to form a settlement on its shores Sir Humphry Gilbert, one of the noblest spirits of his time, turned homewards again to find his fate in the stormy seas. "We are as near to heaven by sea as by land," were the famous words he was heard to utter ere the light of his little bark was lost for ever in the darkness of the night. But an expedition sent by his brother-in-law, Sir Walter Raleigh, explored Pamlico Sound; and the country they discovered, a country where in their poetic fancy "men lived after the manner of the Golden Age," received from Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen, the name of Virginia.
Scotland and Philip.
It was in England only that Philip could maintain his exclusive right to the New World of the West; it was through England only that he could strike a last and fatal blow at the revolt of the Netherlands. And foiled as his plans had been as yet by the overthrow of the Papal schemes, even their ruin had left ground for hope in England itself. The tortures and hangings of the Catholic priests, the fining and imprisonment of the Catholic gentry, had roused a resentment which it was easy to mistake for disloyalty. The Jesuits with Parsons at their head pictured the English Catholics as only waiting to rise in rebellion at the call of Spain, and reported long lists of nobles and squires who would muster 4-346]their tenants to join Parma's legions on their landing. A Spanish victory would be backed by insurrection in Ireland and attack from Scotland. For in Scotland the last act of the Papal conspiracy against Elizabeth was still being played. Though as yet under age, the young king, James the Sixth, had taken on himself the government of the realm, and had submitted to the guidance of a cousin, Esme Stuart, who had been brought up in France and returned to Scotland a Catholic and a fellow-plotter with the Guises. He succeeded in bringing Morton to the block; and the death of the great Protestant leader left him free to enlist Scotland in the league which Rome was forming for the ruin of Elizabeth. The revolt in Ireland had failed. The work of the Jesuits in England had just ended in the death of Campian and the arrest of his followers. But with the help of the Guises Scotland might yet be brought to rise in arms for the liberation of Mary Stuart, and James might reign as co-regent with his mother, if he were converted to the Catholic Church. The young king, anxious to free his crown from the dictation of the nobles, lent himself to his cousin's schemes. For the moment they were foiled. James was seized by the Protestant Lords, and the Duke of Lennox, as Esme Stuart was now called, driven from the realm. But James was soon free again, and again in correspondence with the Guises and with 4-347]Philip. The young king was lured by promises of the hand of an archduchess and the hope of the crowns of both England and Scotland. The real aim of the intriguers who guided him was to set him aside as soon as the victory was won and to restore his mother to the throne. But whether Mary were restored or no it seemed certain that in any attack on Elizabeth Spain would find helpers from among the Scots.
Nor was the opportunity favourable in Scotland alone. In the Netherlands and in France all seemed to go well for Philip's schemes. From the moment of his arrival in the Low Countries the Prince of Parma had been steadily winning back what Alva had lost. The Union of Ghent had been broken. The ten Catholic provinces were being slowly brought anew under Spanish rule. Town after town was regained. From Brabant Parma had penetrated into Flanders; Ypres, Bruges, and Ghent had fallen into his hands. Philip dealt a more fatal blow at his rebellious subjects in the murder of the man who was the centre of their resistance. For years past William of Orange had been a mark for assassin after assassin in Philip's pay, and in 1584 the deadly persistence of the Spanish king was rewarded by his fall. Reft indeed as they were of their leader, the Netherlanders still held their ground. The union of Utrecht stood intact; and Philip's work of reconquest might be checked 4-348]at any moment by the intervention of England or of France. But at this moment all chance of French intervention passed away. Henry the Third was childless, and the death of his one remaining brother, Francis of Anjou, in 1584 left the young chief of the house of Bourbon, King Henry of Navarre, heir to the crown of France. Henry was the leader of the Huguenot party, and in January 1585 the French Catholics bound themselves in a holy league to prevent such a triumph of heresy in the realm as the reign of a Protestant would bring about by securing the succession of Henry's uncle, the cardinal of Bourbon. The Leaguers looked to Philip for support; they owned his cause for their own; and pledged themselves not only to root out Protestantism in France, but to help the Spanish king in rooting it out throughout the Netherlands. The League at once overshadowed the Crown; and Henry the Third could only meet the blow by affecting to put himself at its head, and by revoking the edicts of toleration in favour of the Huguenots. But the Catholics disbelieved in his sincerity; they looked only to Philip; and as long as Philip could supply the Leaguers with men and money, he felt secure on the side of France.
Elizabeth attacks Philip.
The vanishing of all hope of French aid was the more momentous to the Netherlands that at this moment Parma won his crowning 4-349]triumph in the capture of Antwerp. Besieged in the winter of 1584, the city surrendered after a brave resistance in the August of 1585. But heavy as was the blow, it brought gain as well as loss to the Netherlanders. It forced Elizabeth into action. She refused indeed the title of Protector of the Netherlands which the States offered her, and compelled them to place Brill and Flushing in her hands as pledges for the repayment of her expenses. But she sent aid. Lord Leicester was hurried to the Flemish coast with eight thousand men. In a yet bolder spirit of defiance Francis Drake was suffered to set sail with a fleet of twenty-five vessels for the Spanish Main. The two expeditions had very different fortunes. Drake's voyage was a series of triumphs. The wrongs inflicted on English seamen by the Inquisition were requited by the burning of the cities of St. Domingo and Carthagena. The coasts of Cuba and Florida were plundered, and though the gold fleet escaped him, Drake returned in the summer of 1586 with a heavy booty. Leicester on the other hand was paralyzed by his own intriguing temper, by strife with the Queen, and by his military incapacity. Only one disastrous skirmish at Zutphen broke the inaction of his forces, while Elizabeth strove vainly to use the presence of his army to force Parma and the States alike to a peace which would restore Philip's sovereignty over the Netherlands, but 4-350]leave them free enough to serve as a check on Philip's designs against herself.
The Catholic Plots.
Foiled as she was in securing a check on Philip in the Low Countries, the Queen was more successful in robbing him of the aid of the Scots. The action of King James had been guided by his greed of the English Crown, and a secret promise of the succession sufficed to lure him from the cause of Spain. In July 1586 he formed an alliance, defensive and offensive, with Elizabeth, and pledged himself not only to give no aid to revolt in Ireland, but to suppress any Catholic rising in the northern counties. The pledge was the more important that the Catholic resentment seemed passing into fanaticism. Maddened by confiscation and persecution, by the hopelessness of rebellion within or of deliverance from without, the fiercer Catholics listened to schemes of assassination to which the murder of William of Orange lent a terrible significance. The detection of Somerville, a fanatic who had received the Host before setting out for London "to shoot the Queen with his dagg," was followed by measures of natural severity, by the flight and arrest of Catholic gentry and peers, by a vigorous purification of the Inns of Court where a few Catholics lingered, and by the despatch of fresh batches of priests to the block. The trial and death of Parry, a member of the House of Commons who had served in the royal household, on a similar 4-351]charge fed the general panic. The leading Protestants formed an association whose members pledged themselves to pursue to the death all who sought the Queen's life, and all on whose behalf it was sought. The association soon became national, and the Parliament met together in a transport of horror and loyalty to give it legal sanction. All Jesuits and seminary priests were banished from the realm on pain of death, and a bill for the security of the Queen disqualified any claimant of the succession who instigated subjects to rebellion or hurt to the Queen's person from ever succeeding to the Crown.
Death of Mary Stuart.
The threat was aimed at Mary Stuart. Weary of her long restraint, of her failure to rouse Philip or Scotland to her aid, of the baffled revolt of the English Catholics and the baffled intrigues of the Jesuits, Mary had bent for a moment to submission. "Let me go," she wrote to Elizabeth; "let me retire from this island to some solitude where I may prepare my soul to die. Grant this and I will sign away every right which either I or mine can claim." But the cry was useless, and in 1586 her despair found a new and more terrible hope in the plots against Elizabeth's life. She knew and approved the vow of Anthony Babington and a band of young Catholics, for the most part connected with the royal household, to kill the Queen and seat Mary on the throne; but plot and approval alike passed through Walsingham's hands, and the 4-352]seizure of Mary's correspondence revealed her connivance in the scheme. Babington with his fellow-conspirators was at once sent to the block, and the provisions of the act passed in the last Parliament were put in force against Mary. In spite of her protests a Commission of Peers sate as her judges at Fotheringay Castle; and their verdict of "guilty" annihilated under the provisions of the statute her claim to the Crown. The streets of London blazed with bonfires, and peals rang out from steeple to steeple at the news of Mary's condemnation; but in spite of the prayer of Parliament for her execution and the pressure of the Council Elizabeth shrank from her death. The force of public opinion however was now carrying all before it, and after three months of hesitation the unanimous demand of her people wrested a sullen consent from the Queen. She flung the warrant signed upon the floor, and the Council took on themselves the responsibility of executing it. On the 8th of February 1587 Mary died on a scaffold which was erected in the castle-hall at Fotheringay as dauntlessly as she had lived. "Do not weep," she said to her ladies, "I have given my word for you." "Tell my friends," she charged Melville, "that I die a good Catholic."
Philip and England.
The blow was hardly struck before Elizabeth turned with fury on the ministers who had forced her hand. Cecil, who had now become Lord Burghley, was for a while disgraced, and Davison, 4-353]who carried the warrant to the Council, was sent to the Tower to atone for an act which shattered the policy of the Queen. The death of Mary Stuart in fact seemed to have removed the last obstacle out of Philip's way. It had put an end to the divisions of the English Catholics. To the Spanish king, as to the nearest heir in blood who was of the Catholic Faith, Mary bequeathed her rights to the Crown, and the hopes of her more passionate adherents were from that moment bound up in the success of Spain. The blow too kindled afresh the fervour of the Papacy, and Sixtus the Fifth offered to aid Philip with money in his invasion of the heretic realm. But Philip no longer needed pressure to induce him to act. Drake's triumph had taught him that the conquest of England was needful for the security of his dominion in the New World, and for the mastery of the seas. The presence of an English army in Flanders convinced him that the road to the conquest of the States lay through England itself. Nor did the attempt seem a very perilous one. Allen and his Jesuit emissaries assured Philip that the bulk of the nation was ready to rise as soon as a strong Spanish force was landed on English shores. They numbered off the great lords who would head the revolt, the Earls of Arundel and Northumberland, who were both Catholics, the Earls of Worcester, Cumberland, Oxford, and Southampton, Viscount Montacute, the Lords 4-354]Dacres, Morley, Vaux, Wharton, Windsor, Lumley, and Stourton. "All these," wrote Allen, "will follow our party when they see themselves supported by a sufficient foreign force." Against these were only "the new nobles, who are hated in the country," and the towns. "But the strength of England is not in its towns." All the more warlike counties were Catholic in their sympathies; and the persecution of the recusants had destroyed the last traces of their loyalty to the Queen. Three hundred priests had been sent across the sea to organize the insurrection, and they were circulating a book which Allen had lately published "to prove that it is not only lawful but our bounden duty to take up arms at the Pope's bidding and to fight for the Catholic faith against the Queen and other heretics." A landing in the Pope's name would be best, but a landing in Philip's name would be almost as secure of success. Trained as they were now by Allen and his three hundred priests, English Catholics "would let in Catholic auxiliaries of any nation, for they have learned to hate their domestic heretic more than any foreign power."
Philip and France.
What truth there was in the Jesuit view of England time was to prove. But there can be no doubt that Philip believed it, and that the promise of a Catholic rising was his chief inducement to attempt an invasion. The operations of Parma therefore were suspended with a view to the greater enterprise and vessels and supplies for the fleet 4-355]which had for three years been gathering in the Tagus were collected from every port of the Spanish coast. Only France held Philip back. He dared not attack England till all dread of a counter-attack from France was removed; and though the rise of the League had seemed to secure this, its success had now become more doubtful. The king, who had striven to embarrass it by placing himself at its head, gathered round him the politicians and the moderate Catholics who saw in the triumph of the new Duke of Guise the ruin of the monarchy; while Henry of Navarre took the field at the head of the Huguenots, and won in 1587 the victory of Coutras. Guise restored the balance by driving the German allies of Henry from the realm; but the Huguenots were still unconquered, and the king, standing apart, fed a struggle which lightened for him the pressure of the League. Philip was forced to watch the wavering fortunes of the struggle, but while he watched, another blow fell on him from the sea. The news of the coming Armada called Drake again to action. In April 1587 he set sail with thirty small barks, burned the storeships and galleys in the harbour of Cadiz, stormed the ports of the Faro, and was only foiled in his aim of attacking the Armada itself by orders from home. A descent upon Corunna however completed what Drake called his "singeing of the Spanish king's beard." Elizabeth used the daring blow to back some 4-356]negotiations for peace which she was still conducting in the Netherlands. But on Philip's side at least these negotiations were simply delusive. The Spanish pride had been touched to the quick. Amidst the exchange of protocols Parma gathered seventeen thousand men for the coming invasion, collected a fleet of flat-bottomed transports at Dunkirk, and waited impatiently for the Armada to protect his crossing. The attack of Drake however, the death of its first admiral, and the winter storms delayed the fleet from sailing. What held it back even more effectually was the balance of parties in France. But in the spring of 1588 Philip's patience was rewarded. The League had been baffled till now not so much by the resistance of the Huguenots as by the attitude of the king. So long as Henry the Third held aloof from both parties and gave a rallying point to the party of moderation the victory of the Leaguers was impossible. The difficulty was solved by the daring of Henry of Guise. The fanatical populace of Paris rose at his call; the royal troops were beaten off from the barricades; and on the 12th of May the king found himself a prisoner in the hands of the Duke. Guise was made lieutenant-general of the kingdom, and Philip was assured on the side of France.
The Armada sails.
The revolution was hardly over when at the end of May the Armada started from Lisbon. But it had scarcely put to sea when a gale in the Bay 4-357]of Biscay drove its scattered vessels into Ferrol, and it was only on the nineteenth of July 1588 that the sails of the Armada were seen from the Lizard, and the English beacons flared out their alarm along the coast. The news found England ready. An army was mustering under Leicester at Tilbury, the militia of the midland counties were gathering to London, while those of the south and east were held in readiness to meet a descent on either shore. The force which Parma hoped to lead consisted of forty thousand men, for the Armada brought nearly twenty-two thousand soldiers to be added to the seventeen thousand who were waiting to cross from the Netherlands. Formidable as this force was, it was far too weak by itself to do the work which Philip meant it to do. Had Parma landed on the earliest day he purposed, he would have found his way to London barred by a force stronger than his own, a force too of men in whose ranks were many who had already crossed pikes on equal terms with his best infantry in Flanders. "When I shall have landed," he warned his master, "I must fight battle after battle, I shall lose men by wounds and disease, I must leave detachments behind me to keep open my communications; and in a short time the body of my army will become so weak that not only I may be unable to advance in the face of the enemy, and time may be given to the heretics and your Majesty's other enemies to interfere, but there 4-358]may fall out some notable inconveniences, with the loss of everything, and I be unable to remedy it." What Philip really counted on was the aid which his army would find within England itself. Parma's chance of victory, if he succeeded in landing, lay in a Catholic rising. But at this crisis patriotism proved stronger than religious fanaticism in the hearts of the English Catholics. The news of invasion ran like fire along the English coasts. The whole nation answered the Queen's appeal. Instinct told England that its work was to be done at sea, and the royal fleet was soon lost among the vessels of the volunteers. London, when Elizabeth asked for fifteen ships and five thousand men, offered thirty ships and ten thousand seamen, while ten thousand of its train-bands drilled in the Artillery ground. Every seaport showed the same temper. Coasters put out from every little harbour. Squires and merchants pushed off in their own little barks for a brush with the Spaniards. In the presence of the stranger all religious strife was forgotten. The work of the Jesuits was undone in an hour. Of the nobles and squires whose tenants were to muster under the flag of the invader not one proved a traitor. The greatest lords on Allen's list of Philip's helpers, Cumberland, Oxford, and Northumberland, brought their vessels up alongside of Drake and Lord Howard as soon as Philip's fleet appeared in the Channel. The Catholic gentry who had been painted as longing for the 4-359]coming of the stranger, led their tenantry, when the stranger came, to the muster at Tilbury.
The two fleets.
The loyalty of the Catholics decided the fate of Philip's scheme. Even if Parma's army succeeded in landing, its task was now an impossible one. Forty thousand Spaniards were no match for four millions of Englishmen, banded together by a common resolve to hold England against the foreigner. But to secure a landing at all, the Spaniards had to be masters of the Channel. Parma might gather his army on the Flemish coast, but every estuary and inlet was blocked by the Dutch cruisers. The Netherlands knew well that the conquest of England was planned only as a prelude to their own reduction; and the enthusiasm with which England rushed to the conflict was hardly greater than that which stirred the Hollanders. A fleet of ninety vessels, with the best Dutch seamen at their head, held the Scheldt and the shallows of Dunkirk, and it was only by driving this fleet from the water that Parma's army could be set free to join in the great enterprise. The great need of the Armada therefore was to reach the coast of Flanders. It was ordered to make for Calais, and wait there for the junction of Parma. But even if Parma joined it, the passage of his force was impossible without a command of the Channel; and in the Channel lay an English fleet resolved to struggle hard for the mastery. As the Armada sailed on in a broad 4-360]crescent past Plymouth, the vessels which had gathered under Lord Howard of Effingham slipped out of the bay and hung with the wind upon their rear. In numbers the two forces were strangely unequal, for the English fleet counted only eighty vessels against the hundred and forty-nine which composed the Armada. In size of ships the disproportion was even greater. Fifty of the English vessels, including the squadron of the Lord Admiral and the craft of the volunteers, were little bigger than yachts of the present day. Even of the thirty Queen's ships which formed its main body, there were but four which equalled in tonnage the smallest of the Spanish galleons. Sixty-five of these galleons formed the most formidable half of the Spanish fleet; and four galleys, four galleasses armed with fifty guns apiece, fifty-six armed merchantmen, and twenty pinnaces made up the rest. The Armada was provided with 2500 cannons, and a vast store of provisions; it had on board 8000 seamen and more than 20,000 soldiers; and if a court-favourite, the Duke of Medina Sidonia, had been placed at its head, he was supported by the ablest staff of naval officers which Spain possessed.
The fight with the Armada.
Small however as the English ships were, they were in perfect trim; they sailed two feet for the Spaniards' one; they were manned with 9000 hardy seamen, and their Admiral was backed by a crowd of captains who had won fame in the Spanish seas. 4-361]With him were Hawkins, who had been the first to break into the charmed circle of the Indies; Frobisher, the hero of the North-West passage; and above all Drake, who held command of the privateers. They had won too the advantage of the wind; and, closing in or drawing off as they would, the lightly-handled English vessels, which fired four shots to the Spaniards' one, hung boldly on the rear of the great fleet as it moved along the Channel. "The feathers of the Spaniard," in the phrase of the English seamen, were "plucked one by one." Galleon after galleon was sunk, boarded, driven on shore; and yet Medina Sidonia failed in bringing his pursuers to a close engagement. Now halting, now moving slowly on, the running fight between the two fleets lasted throughout the week, till on Sunday, the twenty-eighth of July, the Armada dropped anchor in Calais roads. The time had come for sharper work if the junction of the Armada with Parma was to be prevented; for, demoralized as the Spaniards had been by the merciless chase, their loss in ships had not been great, and their appearance off Dunkirk might drive off the ships of the Hollanders who hindered the sailing of the Duke. On the other hand, though the numbers of English ships had grown, their supplies of food and ammunition were fast running out. Howard therefore resolved to force an engagement; and, lighting eight fire-ships at midnight, sent them down with the tide upon 4-362]the Spanish line. The galleons at once cut their cables, and stood out in panic to sea, drifting with the wind in a long line off Gravelines. Drake resolved at all costs to prevent their return. At dawn on the twenty-ninth the English ships closed fairly in, and almost their last cartridge was spent ere the sun went down.
Flight of the Armada.
Hard as the fight had been, it seemed far from a decisive one. Three great galleons indeed had sunk in the engagement, three had drifted helplessly on to the Flemish coast, but the bulk of the Spanish vessels remained, and even to Drake the fleet seemed "wonderful great and strong." Within the Armada itself however all hope was gone. Huddled together by the wind and the deadly English fire, their sails torn, their masts shot away, the crowded galleons had become mere slaughter-houses. Four thousand men had fallen, and bravely as the seamen fought, they were cowed by the terrible butchery. Medina himself was in despair. "We are lost, Señor Oquenda," he cried to his bravest captain; "what are we to do?" "Let others talk of being lost," replied Oquenda, "your Excellency has only to order up fresh cartridge." But Oquenda stood alone, and a council of war resolved on retreat to Spain by the one course open, that of a circuit round the Orkneys. "Never anything pleased me better," wrote Drake, "than seeing the enemy fly with a southerly wind to the northwards. Have a good 4-363]eye to the Prince of Parma, for, with the grace of God, I doubt not ere it be long so to handle the matter with the Duke of Sidonia, as he shall wish himself at St. Mary Port among his orange trees." But the work of destruction was reserved for a mightier foe than Drake. The English vessels were soon forced to give up the chase by the running out of their supplies. But the Spanish ships had no sooner reached the Orkneys than the storms of the northern seas broke on them with a fury before which all concert and union disappeared. In October fifty reached Corunna, bearing ten thousand men stricken with pestilence and death. Of the rest some were sunk, some dashed to pieces against the Irish cliffs. The wreckers of the Orkneys and the Faroes, the clansmen of the Scottish Isles, the kernes of Donegal and Galway, all had their part in the work of murder and robbery. Eight thousand Spaniards perished between the Giant's Causeway and the Blaskets. On a strand near Sligo an English captain numbered eleven hundred corpses which had been cast up by the sea. The flower of the Spanish nobility, who had been sent on the new crusade under Alonzo da Leyva, after twice suffering shipwreck, put a third time to sea to founder on a reef near Dunluce.
Its effect on England.
"I sent my ships against men," said Philip when the news reached him, "not against the seas." It was in nobler tone that England 4-364]owned her debt to the storm that drove the Armada to its doom. On the medal that commemorated its triumph were graven the words, "The Lord sent his wind, and scattered them." The pride of the conquerors was hushed before their sense of a mighty deliverance. It was not till England saw the broken host "fly with a southerly wind to the north" that she knew what a weight of fear she had borne for thirty years. The victory over the Armada, the deliverance from Spain, the rolling away of the Catholic terror which had hung like a cloud over the hopes of the new people, was like a passing from death unto life. Within as without, the dark sky suddenly cleared. The national unity proved stronger than the religious strife. When the Catholic lords flocked to the camp at Tilbury, or put off to join the fleet in the Channel, Elizabeth could pride herself on a victory as great as the victory over the Armada. She had won it by her patience and moderation, by her refusal to lend herself to the fanaticism of the Puritan or the reaction of the Papist, by her sympathy with the mass of the people, by her steady and unflinching preference of national union to any passing considerations of safety or advantage. For thirty years, amidst the shock of religious passions at home and abroad, she had reigned not as a Catholic or as a Protestant Queen, but as a Queen of England, and it was to England, Catholic 4-365]and Protestant alike, that she could appeal in her hour of need. "Let tyrants fear," she exclaimed in words that still ring like the sound of a trumpet, as she appeared among her soldiers. "Let tyrants fear! I have always so behaved myself that under God I have placed my chiefest strength and safeguard in the loyal hearts and goodwill of my subjects! And therefore I am come among you, as you see, resolved in the midst and heat of the battle to live and die amongst you all." The work of Edward and of Mary was undone, and the strife of religions fell powerless before the sense of a common country.
Its European results.
Nor were the results of the victory less momentous to Europe at large. What Wolsey and Henry had struggled for, Elizabeth had done. At her accession England was scarcely reckoned among European powers. The wisest statesmen looked on her as doomed to fall into the hands of France, or to escape that fate by remaining a dependency of Spain. But the national independence had grown with the national life. France was no longer a danger, Scotland was no longer a foe. Instead of hanging on the will of Spain, England had fronted Spain and conquered her. She now stood on a footing of equality with the greatest powers of the world. Her military weight indeed was drawn from the discord which rent the peoples about her, and would pass away with its close. But a new and 4-366]lasting greatness opened on the sea. She had sprung at a bound into a sea-power. Her fleets were spreading terror through the New World as through the Old. When Philip by his conquest of Portugal had gathered the two greatest navies of the world into his single hand, England had faced him and driven his fleet from the seas. But the rise of England was even less memorable than the fall of Spain. That Spain had fallen few of the world's statesmen saw then. Philip thanked God that he could easily, if he chose, "place another fleet upon the seas," and the despatch of a second armada soon afterwards showed that his boast was a true one. But what had vanished was his mastery of the seas. The defeat of the Armada was the first of a series of defeats at the hands of the English and the Dutch. The naval supremacy of Spain was lost, and with it all was lost; for an empire so widely scattered over the world, and whose dominions were parted by intervening nations, could only be held together by its command of the seas. One century saw Spain stripped of the bulk of the Netherlands, another of her possessions in Italy, a third of her dominions in the New World. But slowly as her empire broke, the cause of ruin was throughout the same. It was the loss of her maritime supremacy that robbed her of all, and her maritime supremacy was lost in the wreck of the Armada.
The counter-attack on Spain.
If Philip met the shock with a calm patience, it at once ruined his plans in the West. France broke again from his grasp. Since the day of the Barricades Henry the Third had been virtually a prisoner in the hands of the Duke of Guise; but the defeat of the Armada woke him to a new effort for the recovery of power, and at the close of 1588 Guise was summoned to his presence and stabbed as he entered by the royal bodyguard. The blow broke the strength of the League. The Duke of Mayenne, a brother of the victim, called indeed the Leaguers to arms; and made war upon the king. But Henry found help in his cousin, Henry of Navarre, who brought a Huguenot force to his aid; and the moderate Catholics rallied as of old round the Crown. The Leaguers called on Philip for aid, but Philip was forced to guard against attack at home. Elizabeth had resolved to give blow for blow. The Portuguese were writhing under Spanish conquest; and a claimant of the crown, Don Antonio, who had found refuge in England, promised that on his landing the country would rise in arms. In the spring of 1589 therefore an expedition of fifty vessels and 15,000 men was sent under Drake and Sir John Norris against Lisbon. Its chances of success hung on a quick arrival in Portugal, but the fleet touched at Corunna, and after burning the ships in its harbour the army was tempted to besiege the 4-368]town. A Spanish army which advanced to its relief was repulsed by an English force of half its numbers. Corunna however held stubbornly out, and in the middle of May Norris was forced to break the siege and to sail to Lisbon. But the delay had been fatal to his enterprise. The country did not rise; the English troops were thinned with sickness; want of cannon hindered a siege; and after a fruitless march up the Tagus Norris fell back on the fleet. The coast was pillaged, and the expedition returned baffled to England. Luckless as the campaign had proved, the bold defiance of Spain and the defeat of a Spanish army on Spanish ground kindled a new daring in Englishmen while they gave new heart to Philip's enemies. In the summer of 1589 Henry the Third laid siege to Paris. The fears of the League were removed by the knife of a priest, Jacques Clément, who assassinated the king in August; but Henry of Navarre, or, as he now became, Henry the Fourth, stood next to him in line of blood, and Philip saw with dismay a Protestant mount the throne of France.
Henry the Fourth.
From this moment the thought of attack on England, even his own warfare in the Netherlands, was subordinated in the mind of the Spanish king to the need of crushing Henry the Fourth. It was not merely that Henry's Protestantism threatened to spread heresy over the West. Catholic or Protestant, the union of France under an active 4-369]and enterprising ruler would be equally fatal to Philip's designs. Once gathered round its king, France was a nearer obstacle to the reconquest of the Netherlands than ever England could be. On the other hand, the religious strife, to which Henry's accession gave a fresh life and vigour, opened wide prospects to Philip's ambition. Far from proving a check upon Spain, it seemed as if France might be turned into a Spanish dependency. While the Leaguers proclaimed the Cardinal of Bourbon king, under the name of Charles the Tenth, they recognized Philip as Protector of France. Their hope indeed lay in his aid, and their army was virtually his own. On the other hand Henry the Fourth was environed with difficulties. It was only by declaring his willingness to be "further instructed" in matters of faith, in other words by holding out hopes of his conversion, that he succeeded in retaining the moderate Catholics under his standard. His desperate bravery alone won a victory at Ivry over the forces of the League, which enabled him to again form the siege of Paris in 1590. All recognized Paris as the turning-point in the struggle, and the League called loudly for Philip's aid. To give it was to break the work which Parma was doing in the Netherlands, and to allow the United Provinces a breathing space in their sorest need. But even the Netherlands were of less moment than the loss of France; and Philip's orders forced 4-370]Parma to march to the relief of Paris. The work was done with a skill which proved the Duke to be a master in the art of war. The siege of Paris was raised; the efforts of Henry to bring the Spaniards to an engagement were foiled; and it was only when the king's army broke up from sheer weariness that Parma withdrew unharmed to the north.
England and Henry.
England was watching the struggle of Henry the Fourth with a keen interest. The failure of the expedition against Lisbon had put an end for the time to any direct attacks upon Spain, and the exhaustion of the treasury forced Elizabeth to content herself with issuing commissions to volunteers. But the war was a national one, and the nation waged it for itself. Merchants, gentlemen, nobles fitted out privateers. The sea-dogs in ever-growing numbers scoured the Spanish Main. Their quest had its ill chances as it had its good, and sometimes the prizes made were far from paying for the cost of the venture. "Paul might plant, and Apollos might water," John Hawkins explained after an unsuccessful voyage, "but it is God only that giveth the increase!" But more often the profit was enormous. Spanish galleons, Spanish merchant-ships, were brought month after month to English harbours. The daring of the English seamen faced any odds. Ten English trading vessels beat off twelve Spanish war-galleys in the Straits of Gibraltar. Sir Richard Grenville 4-371]in a single bark, the Revenge, found himself girt in by fifty men-of-war, each twice as large as his own. He held out from afternoon to the following daybreak, beating off attempt after attempt to board him; and it was not till his powder was spent, more than half his crew killed, and the rest wounded, that the ship struck its flag. Grenville had refused to surrender, and was carried mortally wounded to die in a Spanish ship. "Here die I, Richard Grenville," were his last words, "with a joyful and a quiet mind, for that I have ended my life as a good soldier ought to do, who has fought for his country and his queen, for honour and religion." But the drift of the French war soon forced Elizabeth back again into the strife. In each of the French provinces the civil war went on: and in Britanny, where the contest raged fiercest, Philip sent the Leaguers a supply of Spanish troops. Normandy was already in Catholic hands, and the aim of the Spanish king was to secure the western coast for future operations against England. Elizabeth pressed Henry the Fourth to foil these projects, and in the winter of 1591 she sent money and men to aid him in the siege of Rouen.
To save Rouen Philip was again forced to interrupt his work of conquest in the Netherlands. Parma marched anew into the heart of France, and with the same consummate generalship as of old relieved the town without giving Henry a chance of battle. But the day was fast going against the 4-372]Leaguers. The death of their puppet-king, Charles the Tenth, left them without a sovereign to oppose to Henry of Navarre; and their scheme of conferring the crown on Isabella, Philip's daughter by Elizabeth of France, with a husband whom Philip should choose, awoke jealousies in the house of Guise itself, while it gave strength to the national party who shrank from laying France at the feet of Spain. Even the Parliament of Paris, till now the centre of Catholic fanaticism, protested against setting the crown of France on the brow of a stranger. The politicians drew closer to Henry of Navarre, and the moderate Catholics pressed for his reconciliation to the Church as a means of restoring unity to the realm. The step had become so inevitable that even the Protestants were satisfied with Henry's promise of toleration; and in the summer of 1593 he declared himself a Catholic. With his conversion the civil war came practically to an end. It was in vain that Philip strove to maintain the zeal of the Leaguers, or that the Guises stubbornly kept the field. All France drew steadily to the king. Paris opened her gates in the spring of 1594, and the chief of the Leaguers, the Duke of Mayenne, submitted at the close of the year. Even Rome abandoned the contest, and at the end of 1595 Henry received solemn absolution from Clement the Eighth. From that moment France rose again into her old power, and the old national policy of opposition to the 4-373]House of Austria threw her weight into the wavering balance of Philip's fortunes. The death of Parma had already lightened the peril of the United Provinces, but though their struggle in the Low Countries was to last for years, from the moment of Henry the Fourth's conversion their independence was secure. Nor was the restoration of the French monarchy to its old greatness of less moment to England. Philip was yet to send an armada against her coasts; he was again to stir up a fierce revolt in northern Ireland. But all danger from Spain was over with the revival of France. Even were England to shrink from a strife in which she had held Philip so gloriously at bay, French policy would never suffer the island to fall unaided under the power of Spain. The fear of foreign conquest passed away. The long struggle for sheer existence was over. What remained was the Protestantism, the national union, the lofty patriotism, the pride in England and the might of Englishmen, which had drawn life more vivid and intense than they had ever known before from the long battle with the Papacy and with Spain.
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