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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

Who could face such an invasion


to openly recognise the claims

of the Dauphiness Mary Stuart to the English throne. She was hailed as Queen, when she appeared in public: the Dauphin's heralds bore the united arms of England, Ireland, and Scotland.[191] And this claim became still more important after the unexpected death of Henry II, when the Dauphin ascended the French throne as Francis II. The Guises, uncles of Mary the new Queen, who saw their own greatness in her success and were the very closest adherents of the church, got into their hands all the powers of government. The danger of their hostility lay above all in this, that the French already exercised a predominant influence over Scotch affairs, and hoped in a short time to become complete masters of that country in the Queen's right. She moreover had already by a formal document transferred to the French royal house an eventual right of inheritance to her crown. But if matters came to this, the old war of England and France would be transferred from the fields of Boulogne and Calais to the Scotch border. An invasion of the English territory from that side was the more dangerous, as the French would have brought thither, according to their custom, German and Swiss troops as well. England had neither fortresses, nor disciplined troops, nor even generals of name, who could face such an invasion. It was truly said, there was not a wall in England strong enough to stand a cannon shot.[192] How then if a defeat was sustained in the open field? The sympathies of the Catholics would have
been aroused for France, and general ruin would have ensued.

It was a fortunate thing for Elizabeth that the King of Spain, after she had taken up a line of conduct so completely counter to his wishes and ideas, did not make common cause with the French as they requested him. But she could not promise herself any help from him. Granvella told the English as emphatically as possible, that they must provide for themselves. Another Spanish statesman expressed his doubt to them whether they were able to do so: he really thought England would one day become an apple of discord between Spain and France, as Milan then was. It was almost a scoff, to compare the Island that had the power of the sea with an Italian duchy. But from this very moment she was to take a new upward flight. England was again to take her place as a third Power between the two great Powers; the opportunity presented itself to her to begin open war with one of them, without breaking with the other or even being exactly allied with it.

At first it was France that threatened and challenged her.

And to oppose the French, at the point where they might be dangerous, a ready means presented itself; England had but to form an alliance with those who opposed the French interests in Scotland. As these likewise were in opposition to their Queen, it was objected that one sovereign ought not to combine with the subjects of another. Elizabeth's leading statesman, William Cecil, who stood ever by her side with his counsel in the difficulties of her earlier years, and had guided her steps hitherto, made answer that 'the duty of self-preservation required it in this case, since Scotland would else be serviceable to France for war against England.'

Cecil took into his view alike the past and the future. It was France alone, he said, that had prevented the English crown from realising its suzerainty over Scotland: whereas the true interest of Scotland herself lay in her being united with England as one kingdom. This point of view was all the more important, since the religious interest coincided with the political. The Scots, with whom they wished to unite themselves, were Protestants of the most decided kind.


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