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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

They were suggested to him by Ridolfi


In

this form the war of religion appeared in England. The Protestant exiles from the Netherlands and France sought and found a refuge here in large bodies; it has been calculated that they then composed one-twentieth of the inhabitants of London, and they were settled in many other places. But the fiery passions, which on the Continent led to the re-establishment of Catholicism, reacted on the old English families of the Catholic faith as well, and produced, under the influence of Spanish or Italian agitators, ever new attempts at overthrowing the government.

It was just then, there cannot be any doubt of it, that Thomas duke of Norfolk, who might be regarded as almost the chief noble of the realm, became concerned in such an attempt. Somewhat earlier the idea had been entertained that his marriage with Mary Stuart might contribute to restore general quiet in both kingdoms: but Queen Elizabeth had abandoned this plan, and he had pledged himself to her under his hand and seal not to enter into any negociation about it without her previous knowledge. Nevertheless he had allowed himself to be drawn by an Italian money-changer, Roberto Ridolfi, who had lived long in England, not merely into a new agreement with this object in view but into treasonable designs. Norfolk possessed an immense following among the nobility of both religious parties: and, as he would not declare himself a Catholic at once, he thought to have the Protestant lords also on his

side, if he married Mary Stuart, whom many of them regarded as the lawful heiress of the realm. He applied for the Pope's approval of his proceedings, and promised to come forward without reserve if a Spanish force landed in England: he affirmed that his views were not directed to his own advancement, but only to the purpose of uniting the island under one sovereign, and re-establishing the old laws and the Catholic religion. These thoughts hardly originated with the duke, they were suggested to him by Ridolfi, who himself drew up the instructions with which Norfolk and Mary despatched him to the Pope and the King of Spain.[236] Ridolfi had been sent to Mary with full powers from the Pope, and also well provided with money. When he now appeared again in Rome with his instructions, which really contained simply the acceptance of his proposals, he was, as may be imagined, received with joy: the Pope, who expected the salvation of the world from these enterprises, recommended them to King Philip. In Spain also they met with a good reception. We are astonished at the naivete with which the Council of State proceeded to deliberate on the proposal of a sudden stroke by which an Italian partisan undertook to seize the Queen and her councillors at one of her country-houses. The King at last left the decision to the Duke of Alva. Alva would have been in favour of the plan itself, but he took into consideration that an unsuccessful attempt would provoke a general attack from all sides on the Netherlands, which were only just subdued and still full of ferment. He thought the King should not declare himself until the conspirators had succeeded in getting the Queen into their hands, alive or dead. If Norfolk made his rising contingent on the landing of a Spanish force in England, Alva on the other hand required that he should already have got the Queen into his power before his own master made his participation in the scheme known.[237]


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