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- England Under the Tudors - 60/90 -
French were officially left alone to settle the domestic hostilities which afforded them a quite sufficient occupation.
[Sidenote: Scotland: End of the Marians]
By this time, too, the last serious struggle of the Marian party in Scotland was entering on its final stage. There, after Murray's death, the Hamiltons, joined by Lethington and Kirkcaldy of Grange, refused to acknowledge the young King, or the authority of the Regency---an office in which Murray was succeeded first by the incompetent Lennox, and afterwards by Mar, Lennox being killed in the course of a fight. Finally Lethington and Grange were shut up in Edinburgh Castle, where they continued to bid defiance to the Government. When however overtures were made by England for the delivery of Mary to Mar for execution, the negotiation broke down on the question of Responsibility. Mar would not carry out the extreme measure, unless supported by English troops and by the presence of high English officials. Elizabeth as usual insisted, in effect, that she must be able to repudiate complicity. As the fear of a combined Catholic attack melted away, the English Queen lost her anxiety to be rid of her rival. Mar died; Morton was nominated to the regency. Then also died John Knox, the last of the men who had seen the Reformation through from its commencement; grim to the end.
[Sidenote: The Netherlands, France, and Spain]
When the new year, 1573, came in, Elizabeth, fearing that the Scots lords might, unless they received something besides vague promises, turn to France after all, at length acknowledged the Regent and the King. A compromise was accepted by the Marian lords with the exception of Lethington and Grange in the Castle. But while these held out, the conflagration might be renewed at any time. Elizabeth then reluctantly yielded to the pressure on her from every side. Money, troops, siege- guns, and Drury in command, were sent in April to the help of Morton. After a stubborn resistance, the siege artillery proved too much for the garrison; their outworks were carried, their water-supply cut off, and they were forced to surrender in the last days of May. Lethington survived only a few days; rumour had it that he died by his own act. The craftiest brain in Scotland was stilled but a few months after her sincerest and fiercest tongue was silenced. With Maitland's death, all prospect of reconstructing an organised Queen's-party vanished. It was not many months after these events that Alva, in accordance with his own wishes, was recalled. Conquest did not mean pacification. Haarlem after a prolonged and desperate resistance, fell in July, and the garrison was put to the sword; but there was no hint of yielding on the part of the Hollanders. When the Spaniards advanced on Alkmaar, they were threatened with the opening of the dykes.
Hardly less significant of the determination of Orange and his following never to submit, at whatever cost, is the fact that they were prepared in the last resort to receive Anjou as their Protector---Anjou, who was regarded as a ring-leader in the Paris massacre. The same fact is convincing evidence of the overwhelming antagonism of French and Spanish political interests. Had the French been capable of arranging their religious quarrels on the basis of a fairly inclusive compromise, like that in England, so that the moderates could have worked together, such a league as Walsingham had hoped for before St. Bartholomew would have been entirely in the interest both of France and of England. The advantage of it to France was so obvious that, even after the massacre, it was possible for the perpetrators to contemplate friendly relations with foreign Protestants, and for foreign Protestants to regard such relations as possible. Still it was only in the last resort that the Anjou scheme could have been embraced, and perhaps it was now propounded more by way of forcing Elizabeth's hand than for any other purpose. At any rate the project did not deter Anjou from accepting the crown of Poland---only to drop it and hurry back to assume the sceptre of France as Henry III. when King Charles IX. sank to the grave in 1574.
[Sidenote: 1573-74 The Netherlands, Spain, and England]
Requescens, Alva's successor, adopted a comparatively conciliatory policy. The restoration of the constitutional Government of the States of the Netherlands was offered, on condition of acceptance of Catholicism. In the eyes of Elizabeth, who regarded religious observances as falling entirely to the supreme government to settle, while she could not understand a conscientious objection to outward conformity, the refusal of those terms by Orange seemed quite unreasonable; even Burghley was detached from Walsingham and from those who, thinking with him, still counted the maintenance of Protestantism, and as a necessary corollary hostility to Spain, as the first object which ought to be pursued. This attitude of England, coupled with the irreconcilable character of French religious animosities, which made the prospects of effective French interference a mere will-o'-the-wisp, reduced Orange and his party to a condition verging on desperation.
[Sidenote: 1574 Spain amicable]
Requescens, however, made no haste to crush the stubborn remnant. It was his policy rather to achieve a _modus vivendi_ in which the bulk of the Netherlands would concur, and to conciliate England. Alva before him had realised the true danger of the island-nation's hostility. As we shall presently see in more detail, the growth of the English marine had rendered it extremely formidable. Not only had English rovers for years past been giving unspeakable trouble on the Spanish Main and the Ocean highways, but the English fleets also practically controlled the narrow seas: and could make it impossible for any ordinary convoys, whether of transports, or merchantmen, or treasure-ships, to pass up-channel. In other words, England could block the lines of communication between Spain and the Netherlands. Until Spain should bestir all her might, rise up, and annihilate the English shipping, Elizabeth must be kept neutral; whereas, if Orange were pressed too hard, she might be forced even against her will to support him vigorously, if only to prevent France from doing so single-handed, and perhaps thereby capturing the Netherlands for herself.
[Sidenote: Reciprocal Concessions; 1575]
So the Spaniard was polite to Elizabeth, Elizabeth was polite to the Spaniard, and in France the factions fought furiously round Rochelle or rested in temporary truce. The politeness was carried to very considerable lengths. Allen's seminary at Douay, where young English Catholics had been trained to go forth as missionaries and seek martyrdom in their native land, was ordered to remove itself. The refugees who had found shelter at Louvain and elsewhere were required to depart across Philip's borders. Claims on either side for the seizure of merchandise or treasure were balanced against each other. In the spring of 1575, Elizabeth fell upon certain anabaptists with ostentatious severity, by way of demonstrating how narrow after all was the division between Anglican and Catholic in their fundamental ideas. Yet there remained one serious difficulty to adjust; one point, or perhaps we should say two points, on which neither side could or would give way.
[Sidenote: A Deadlock]
On the soil of Spain the dominating force was the Inquisition. Within his own dominions, Philip was absolutely committed to the rigid enforcement of orthodoxy, as understood by the Holy Office. The Holy Office claimed, and the claim was endorsed by Philip, that its jurisdiction extended over vessels in Spanish waters, and it was in the habit of haling English sailors from their ships into its dungeons, as heretics. In this Elizabeth declined to acquiesce; and Sir Henry Cobham was sent to Madrid to demand recognition of the English view, and to propose that resident Ambassadors should again be established, the Englishman to be privileged--as the Spaniard should be in England--to enjoy the Services of his own Church. Further, inasmuch as fortune had so far smiled upon Orange of late that Leyden had triumphantly resisted a determined siege, Elizabeth offered friendly mediation; emphasising the suggestion by a hint that unless Spain could see her way to a pacification, Orange could now appeal with a prospect of success to France; and England could not afford to decline the preferable alternative of an appeal to herself.
On Spanish soil, however, Catholic zealotry was too strong. Alva would fain have made diplomatic concessions, which could be revoked when convenient; Philip was dominated by the extremists, who were scandalised by the presence of a heretic envoy, who in his turn was furious at being called a heretic. The proffered mediation was declined; Philip flatly refused to concede religious privileges to an Ambassador, suggesting only that the difficulty could be got over by sending a Catholic; as to the action of the Inquisition, he was pledged not to interfere.
[Sidenote: 1576 Attitude of the Nation]
With this message Cobham returned, to find that the revolted States were on their part offering the sovereignty of the Provinces to Elizabeth. Walsingham and his allies were supporting the proposal, and under present conditions Burghley too inclined to it. Elizabeth, confident that Spain would not declare war, was ready to carry what we can only call bluff to the extreme limit, though she scolded her Council with energy. The Spaniards took the opportunity to render the Council most effective support, by seizing the crew of another English ship. Elizabeth sent warnings or threats to Requescens; and in February (1576), Parliament was summoned to vote supplies; which it did without hesitation. If the action of Parliament was any sort of index to popular sentiment, the idea that there was any widespread or deep- rooted feeling in the country against a war of religion is certainly fallacious; while there can be no question that the entire sea-going population--which had attracted into its ranks all that was most adventurous, most daring, most energetic, and most capable in the country--was heart and soul hostile to Spain. How much of that feeling was due to enthusiastic Protestantism, and how much to the fact that men hankered after the Spanish El Dorado may be matter of debate; but that the feeling was there is patent. That the attitude of Parliament was not due to any subserviency is emphasised by the open attack in this session on the granting of Monopolies to the Queen's favourites, which sent Wentworth who made it to the Star-Chamber--and found for him early and popular pardon instead of severe punishment.
[Sidenote: The Queen evades war]
Evidently, the force which did really operate against war was the Queen herself. From beginning to end of her reign, she never entered upon any war at all, so long as any possible means could be found for evading it without surrendering some right or claim vital in her eyes either to the nation's interests or her own. On such points she was never prepared to yield: in the last resort she would fight, but at the same time make the most of her reluctance, and relieve her feelings by roundly rating her ministers. Yet repeatedly she went as far as it was possible to go without actually declaring war, relying securely on the certainty that the irrevocable step would not be taken by the other party, and that she could find some plausible though perhaps undignified excuse for not taking it herself.
So it was now. So long as France could be deterred from espousing the cause of Orange, she saw no necessity for her own intervention. If the Inquisition maltreated some of her sailors, others might be relied on to effect reprisals and to collect compensation, on their own responsibility, without her actually applying the grievance as a
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