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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

In return for which the matrimonial crown was promised him


the powerful secretary changed

to discord. Darnley, who wished not merely to be called King but to be King, demanded that the matrimonial crown should be conferred on him by the Parliament; this would have given him independent rights. The Queen on her side wished to keep the supreme power undiminished in her hands: and Riccio may well have confirmed her in this, as his own importance depended thereon: Darnley ascribed the opposition he met with from his wife not so much to her own decision as to the low-born foreigner against whom he now conceived a violent hatred. His father, Lennox, who cared little for the restoration of Catholicism in itself, entirely agreed with him as to this. They held it allowable to put out of the way the intruder who dared to hinder their house from mounting to the highest honours, and who by the confidential intimacy in which he stood with the Queen gave rise to all kinds of offensive rumours. With this object they--for the instigation came from them--joined in a union with the Protestant nobles. These regarded Riccio as their most thoroughgoing opponent: they too wished him to be got rid of; but his death alone could not content them. A Parliament was to meet at once, from which they expected nothing but a complete condemnation of their former friends, and absolutely ruinous resolutions against themselves. They made the overthrow of this system a condition of their taking a share in getting rid of Riccio. The King consented that Murray should be again placed at the head of the
government, in return for which the matrimonial crown was promised him.

On the 7th March the Queen went to the old council-house of Edinburgh to make the necessary arrangements for the Parliament. The insignia of the realm, sword crown and sceptre, were borne before her by the Catholic lords, Huntley, Athol, and Crawford, the heads of those houses which had once already, in France, offered her their alliance. The King had refused to take part in the ceremony. She named the Lords of Articles, who from of old exercised a decisive influence in the Scotch Parliaments, and restored the bishops to their place among them. As the Queen declares, her object was to promote the restoration of the old religion and to have the rebels sentenced by the assembled Estates. In Holyrood, besides Huntley and Athol, Bothwell, Fleming, Levingstoun, and James Balfour had also found favour, all men who had taken an active part for the restoration of Catholicism or for the re-establishment of the power of the crown: how much it must have surprised men to find that the Queen granted Huntley and Bothwell, who had been declared traitors, admittance into the Privy Council. If the Parliament adopted resolutions in accordance with these preliminaries, it was to be expected that the work of political and religious reaction would begin at once, with the active participation not only of the Pope from whom some money had already come, but also of other Catholic powers with whom Riccio kept the Queen in communication.

A serious danger assuredly for the lords and for Protestantism; there was not a moment to lose if they wished to avert it; but the attempt to do so assumed, through the wild habits of the time and the country, that character of violence which has made it the romance of centuries. The event had such far-reaching results that we too must devote a discussion to it.


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