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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

Which under Mary was again zealously Catholic


Elizabeth was not merely the head of the popular opposition to her sister's policy: from the first moment onwards she was in collision with another female foe, whose pretensions would determine the relations of her life. If Henry VIII formerly in settling the succession passed over in silence the rights of his married sister in Scotland, which had now come to her granddaughter Mary Stuart, the memory of them was now all the more vividly revived by the Catholic party in the country. For with the religious reverence which men devoted to the Papacy it was not at all possible to reconcile the recognition of Elizabeth, whose very existence was as it were at variance with it. Nor was a political motive for preferring Mary Stuart wanting. That for which Henry VIII and Somerset had striven so zealously, the union of England and Scotland, would be thus attained at once. They were not afraid that Scotland might thus become predominant; Henry VII at the conclusion of the marriage, having his attention drawn to this possible risk, replied with the maxim, that the larger and more powerful part always draws the smaller after it. The indispensable condition for the development of the English power lay in the union of the whole island: this would have ensued in a Catholic, not in a Protestant, sense. Was not this union of political advantage and religious concord likely to influence the Privy Council of England, which under Mary was again zealously Catholic, and also to influence Queen Mary Tudor

Great political questions however do not usually present themselves to men in such perfect clearness, but are seen under the modifying circumstances of the moment. It was at that time all important that Mary Stuart had married the Dauphin: she would have united England not merely with Scotland, but at the same time with France, thus bringing it for ever under the influence of that country. How revolting must such a prospect have been to all English feeling! England would have become a transmarine province of France, it would in time have been absorbed like Brittany. Above all, French policy would have completely gained the upper hand in Europe. This apprehension induced the Spanish statesmen--Elizabeth's eager enemies as long as they expected their King to have issue of Mary Tudor--when this hope failed, to give the princess sympathy and attention. Philip II, when her troubles revived (for both Gardiner and Pole were her enemies), informed her through secret messengers, that he was her good friend and would not abandon her. Now that Mary was failing before all men's eyes, and every one was looking forward to her death, it was his evident interest to further Elizabeth's accession. In this sense spoke his ambassador Feria, whom he sent at this moment to England, before the assembled Privy Council;[181] even Mary was urged to declare herself to the same effect. From an advice written for Elizabeth during the first moments of her reign we see that all still looked very dangerous: she was urged in it to possess herself of the Tower and there to receive the allegiance of the high officers of State, to allow no departure from the English ports, and so on. Men expected turbulent movements at home, and were not without apprehension of an attempt at invasion from France. The decision however followed without any commotion and on the spot. Though most of its members were Catholic, the Privy Council did not hesitate. A few hours after Mary's decease the Commons were summoned to the Upper House, to receive a communication there: it was, that Mary was dead, and that God had given them another Queen, My lady Elizabeth. The Parliament dissolved; the new Queen was proclaimed in Westminster and in London. Some days afterwards she made her entry into the capital amidst the indescribable rejoicings of the people, who greeted her accession as their deliverance and their salvation.

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