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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

When the French troops began to fortify Leith


It

was soon shown that the last was the only alternative. The regent collected so many French and Scotch troops that the lords did not venture to stop her return to Edinburgh. They came to an agreement instead, in which she promised to prosecute no member of the Congregation, and especially no preacher, and not to allow the clergy on the ground of their jurisdiction to undertake any annoying proceedings: in return for which the lords on their side pledged themselves not to disturb any of the clergy or destroy any more of the church buildings. It was a truce in which each party, sword in hand, reserved to itself the power of defending its partisans against the other. The two parties encountered in Edinburgh. The inhabitants had called Knox to be their preacher, and when he thought it unsafe to stay in the city after the Congregation withdrew, another champion of the Reformation, Willok, filled his place with hardly less zeal and success. But on the other side the bishop of Amiens appeared with some doctors of the Sorbonne at the Regent's court. Here and there the Protestant service was again discarded; the Paris theologians defended the old dogma among the Scotch scholars, and made even now some impression; the mass and the preaching contended with each other. As to the Regent's views there can be no doubt. She drew the attention of the French court to the frequent intercourse between the nobles of Protestant views in France and Scotland, and to the encouragement the Scots had from
the French; but she gave the assurance that she would soon finish with the Scots if she received support. Some French companies had just landed at Leith, they had brought with them munitions of war and money: the Regent demanded four companies more, to make up twenty, and perhaps 100 hommes d'armes; if only four French ships were stationed at Leith to keep off foreign assistance, she pledged herself to put down the movement everywhere.[201]

Then the Scots also decided that they must employ their utmost means of resistance. They had framed politico-religious theories, in virtue of which they believed in their right to do so. The substance of the whole is that they acknowledged indeed an obligation on the conscience which required obedience to the sovereign, but at the same time they held that the obligation came to an end as soon as the sovereign contravened the known will of God: an idolatrous sovereign, so said the preachers, could be deposed and punished:--should the supreme Head put off the reform which was required by God's law, the right and the duty of executing it falls on the subordinate authorities.

But the lords claimed also an authority based on the laws of the land. When the French troops began to fortify Leith, they held themselves justified in raising remonstrances against it: they demanded that the Regent should desist from the design. As she replied with a proclamation which sounded very offensive to themselves, they had no scruple in taking up arms. Each noble collected his men round him and appeared at their head in the field. Relying on the fine army which was thus brought together, they repeated their demand, with the remark, that in receiving foreign troops into the harbour-town there was involved a manifest attempt to enslave the land by force: if the Regent would not lend an ear to their remonstrances, they being the hereditary councillors of the crown, they would remember their oath which bound them to provide for the general welfare. The Regent expressed her astonishment to the lords through a herald that there should be any other authority in the realm than that of her daughter, the Queen. She already felt herself strong enough to order them and their troops to disperse, on pain of the punishment appointed for high treason. On this the great men met in the old council-house at Edinburgh, to consider the question whether it was obligatory to pay obedience to a princess, who was but regent, and who disregarded the opinion of the hereditary councillors of the crown. The consultation, at which some preachers supported the views of the lords with similar arguments, ended in the declaration that the Regent no longer possessed an authority which she was using to the damage of the realm. In the name of the King and Queen they announced to her that the commission she had received from them was at an end. 'And as your Grace,' so they continued, 'will not acknowledge us as your councillors, we also will no longer acknowledge you as our regent.'[202]


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