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- England Under the Tudors - 80/90 -

But outside England there was the cunning King of Scots, on the one hand intriguing with Essex, on the other appealing to the Pope, as a Catholic at heart who was only waiting for adequate support to drop the mask--bidding in fact for the countenance of both camps. There was Tyrone in Ireland, similarly posing to Spain as the champion of Catholicism, while intriguing with Essex and James indubitably for something like sovereignty for himself as the price of supporting the Scots King. And there was the young Philip III. of Spain, idle and vain, who, with a bankrupt treasury and a rotten administration had his head full of the most inflated ideas of his own power, and still fancied himself quite capable of conquering England at a blow; a delusion from which the fanatical religionists who trusted not in the arm of flesh, were also suffering. To him therefore the idea of James ascending the English throne even as a Catholic was quite repugnant; as was also the succession of his sister, unless she restored the Netherlands to him. Whereas the union with the Netherlands was precisely the one condition which made her candidature possible in England.

While Essex was still in Ireland this imagination of Philip's had borne curious fruit. He ordered the preparation of another Armada: the greatest of all. The Spanish vapourings on the subject actually created some alarm in England; Raleigh and Lord Thomas Howard very promptly had efficient fleets on the narrow seas; the Lord Admiral (now Earl of Nottingham) was appointed Lord General and there was a great mustering of troops and raising of companies by noblemen and gentlemen. But it is more than probable that, as far as the land forces were concerned, these measures were intended quite as much to be a hint to Essex that he would find any attempt at coercion an exceedingly dangerous game, as for protection against any effort which Philip was capable of putting forth. In fact this Armada ended in the feeblest of all these feeble fiascoes: for while it was making ready, a Dutch fleet was raiding the Canaries and the trade routes; when it put to sea its energies were absorbed in a futile attempt to catch these audacious enemies; and before it reached the Azores, a fourth part of it had foundered and the balance had been practically crippled by foul weather.

Such then was the position when in the autumn of 1599 Essex suddenly found himself a prisoner. Cecil however did not think it politic to go to extremities. The Earl was not haled before the Star-Chamber as was proposed in some quarters; it was not till the following June that he was brought before a commission of the Privy Council for enquiry and censure; and some two months later he was released. But from October 1599 to August 1600 he remained in custody.

[Sidenote: 1600 Ireland]

In the meantime, Tyrone was appealing to Spain and to the Archduke Albert. The latter, with ulterior objects, was negotiating for peace with Cecil-- who was following a path of his own--and had no mind to complicate the intrigue by an Irish embroilment. Philip immediately gave orders that everything was to be provided to conquer Ireland out of hand; but as the means for carrying out those orders were entirely lacking, there were no results. Moreover, Elizabeth had at last realised that the systematic reduction of Ireland was now an absolute necessity which could only be accomplished by adequate forces under a competent commander. Montjoy, a connexion of Essex, was sent over; his dealings with Tyrone met with increasing success. Essex had at first counted on Montjoy acting in effect as his own deputy; but in this he was disappointed. Placed in a position of responsibility, the Deputy immediately rejected the overtures he made. The army in Ireland was not to be the instrument of Essex's ambition.

[Sidenote: Succession intrigues]

Where so many of the actors were simultaneously engaged in alternative intrigues, some of them with entire insincerity, and solely for the purpose of keeping inconvenient persons or groups in play until they were harmless, it is not possible to be sure in most cases of the real policy intended. Cecil's party were in some sort of communication even with Parsons, who persuaded himself that if only Philip would definitely commit himself to a nominee, and would strike in before the Scots King could secure himself, the chiefs of that party would support him. It is not credible that this was really the case, but it is at least probable that the group were deliberately seeking to produce that impression at the Spanish head- quarters. For them the essential thing was to wreck Essex on the one side and out-wit the extreme Catholics on the other. Others might be deceived, but Cecil and Raleigh at least must have been fully alive to the worthlessness of any programme which assumed political intelligence on the part of Philip, or effective activity in Spain. James was playing for the support of every section, by inducing each to believe that his overtures to the other sections were mere blinds: and during this year he was working for the support of Henry IV., as being at heart a tolerant Catholic. Whether Essex, who must have been aware of the intrigue, accepted the policy or regarded it as merely a useful diplomatic deception remains uncertain; at any rate it did not alienate him. But the appearance of a Franco-Scottish rapprochement was an immediate incentive to and excuse for counter negotiations with Philip and the Archduke on the part of the English government.

[Sidenote: The end of Essex 1600-1]

At the end of August, Essex was released, though still excluded from favour. The Cecil party had complete control of the situation, and to all appearance meant to come to terms with the Archduke: which would wreck the Earl's ambitions irretrievably. Now, when his one chance lay in playing the repentant and tearful adorer of a mistress cruel and fair if somewhat mature--a very familiar role for him--his cry was all for the restoration of lost pecuniary privileges; and his mistress would naturally have none of a lover so self-centred. Despairing of the Queen's favour, he was rash enough to pose as a popular champion, declaiming against the intriguers who were selling England to the Infanta, and drawing round him the young hot-heads and scape-graces of the nobility, in the insane belief that their swords and the cheers of the London mob would enable him to effect the overthrow of Cecil by a _coup de main_. When the time was ripe, early in February, Cecil struck. Essex was summoned to appear before the Council. He evaded the summons, and next day with his friends made a frantic attempt to raise the City for the removal of the Queen's false Counsellors. That evening he was a prisoner in the Tower. A few days later, he was brought to trial for treason before a Court of Peers, and was condemned and executed. Pardon was impossible, though Elizabeth's grief at signing his death warrant was poignant and permanent.

[Sidenote: Robert Cecil]

The triumph of Cecil was complete. The utter overthrow of Essex had been his first objective; now he was free to work his own underground policy. Publicly and ostensibly as before he remained the chief of the "moderate" party, seeking reconciliation with Spain and a _modus vivendi_ between Catholics and Anglicans; privately he took Essex's vacated place as the friend of the Scots King. Thenceforth, from the Moderate camp, directing the Moderate programme, he was in intimate correspondence [Footnote: Now published in its entirety by the Camden Society.] with James; working for the ultimate destruction of his rivals and associates, when the Stewart should become King of England, owing his crown to Cecil's dexterity. James, realising his position, promptly fell in with Cecil's plans, dropped coquetting with Catholics abroad, and was quite content to wait for a dead woman's shoes, and to give up irritating demands for an immediate recognition, of which, with Cecil on his side, he felt ultimately assured.

[Sidenote: Ireland 1600-1]

During 1600, Montjoy had already been doing good service in Ireland. The 14,000 troops at his disposal--though thrice as many as had been allowed to Norreys--were insufficient for dealing a rapid and crushing blow at the heart of the rebellion in Ulster. In Munster, however, the Deputy had a vigorous lieutenant in Carew, and the chiefs were of a divided mind-- largely because many of them held their positions precariously, in virtue of the English tenure which had been officially substituted for the Irish method of succession--so that the forces of resistance were to a great extent broken up. But in Ulster, Montjoy accomplished a fine strategic stroke by making a feint of invading the province from the south, while he sent a large force of 4000 men by sea, under command of Docwra, to Loch Foyle, where they established themselves at Londonderry. He was thus in a position to strike at Tyrone or O'Donnell whenever those chiefs should attempt to move southward in force: as was exemplified next year, when Donegal was seized, and the Blackwater fort was recaptured by a move from the South, because Tyrone could not withdraw his attention from Derry.

[Sidenote: 1601 The Irish rebellion broken]

About the time of Essex's crash, there were again rumours of a Spanish invasion. Carew could deal with the Irish rebels alone, but hardly with a strong invading force as well. When in September 1601 a real Spanish force did arrive at Kinsale, Montjoy had to concentrate in Munster. But though this expedition showed the limits of Philip's capacities, it was as usual so ill found that many of the ships had been obliged to put back to Corunna, and others, failing to make Kinsale, put in at Baltimore. Montjoy was in strength near Cork, Carew at Limerick ready to intercept the approach of the rebels from the North. In a very short time, Kinsale was beleagured, and when a portion of a Spanish reinforcement managed to reach the coast in December, it found an English flotilla before it, and its troops were isolated in a third station at Castlehaven. O'Donnell however succeeded in evading Carew, who then joined forces with Montjoy and the fleet before Kinsale. When Tyrone arrived, an attempt was made to relieve Kinsale; but Montjoy was unusually well served by his intelligence, his dispositions were skilful, and the rebels were totally routed beyond possibility of present recovery. Aguilar, the Spanish commander, was admitted to terms; Baltimore and Castlehaven were surrendered. Thus abortively collapsed the last effort of Philip III. The Irish rebellion was broken. Many of the chiefs after vain and desperate resistance escaped to Spain; others surrendered to the Queen's mercy. O'Donnell was of the former; he died soon after reaching Spain. But Tyrone the diplomatic succeeded in making terms. It seemed that once more the English Government was supreme.

[Sidenote: 1602 The Succession]

Once again, as the death of the great Queen becomes imminent, we must remind ourselves that to the last she refused to recognise any heir, and that there were various claimants, [Footnote: Genealogical Tables; _Front._ and _App. A_, iii.] each one with a colourable claim. In point of priority by heredity King James of Scotland unquestionably stood first of the descendants of Henry VII. and Elizabeth of York; yet the fact that he was not only an alien but King of Scotland made him in himself an unwelcome candidate. Next to him, since like him she descended from Margaret Tudor, stood his cousin Arabella--a Stewart too, but of the Lennox Stewarts, not the Royal House: an English subject; but with the drawback that she was a woman and unmarried. Third, but first under the will of Henry VIII. was Lord Beauchamp, son of Katharine Grey and the Earl of Hertford; about the validity of his parents' marriage however there was a doubt. The Stanleys of Derby, who through Margaret Clifford could claim descent from the younger daughter of Henry VII., would have nothing to do with inheriting the crown; no more would the Earl of Huntingdon who descended from Edward IV.'s brother, George of Clarence. But Philip of Spain claimed the crown for himself as a descendant of John of Gaunt; though, the union of the crowns of England and Spain being admittedly impracticable, he was under promise to transfer his claim to a hitherto unnamed nominee, presumably his sister. Virtually therefore Isabella ranked as a possible though not very enthusiastic candidate.

[Sidenote: The last intrigues]

England Under the Tudors - 80/90

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