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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

To keep off the attacks of the Spaniards


Thus

secured on this side the Queen proceeded to carry out an idea which had immense consequences. It is not a mere suspicion, partially derived from the result, to suppose that she thought King Philip's combining with her rebels gave her a right to combine with the King's revolted subjects: she herself said so once to the French ambassador: while talking with him, she one day dropped her voice, and said that as Philip kept her state disturbed, she did not hold herself any longer bound to treat him with the regard she had hitherto shewn him in the quarrels of the Netherlands.

It is not quite true that she supported with her own power the Gueux ('Beggars'), who had fled to the sea from Alva's persecutions, in the decisive attacks they now made on Brielle and Vliessingen (Brill and Flushing): but this was hardly needed, it was quite enough that her feeling was known, she merely let things take their way, she did not prevent the attack of the rebels against Philip II (powerful at sea as they were) being supported by the fugitive Walloons residing in England, and by Englishmen also. It was estimated that there were then in Vliessingen 400 Walloons and 400 English: 1500 English lay before the town, to keep off the attacks of the Spaniards. French troops gave aid in corresponding numbers. They were all recalled at a later time; but meanwhile the insurrection had gained a consistency which made it impossible for the Spaniards to subdue the Netherlands.

style="text-align: justify;">As formerly Elizabeth had joined the Scotch lords against the Regent and the Queen of Scotland, so now she helped the insurgents of the Netherlands against the King of Spain. In the first case she had Philip II himself on her side, in the second case France.

By this policy she found the means of securing herself at home, from the Spanish attacks. It was more than ever necessary for Philip to concentrate on the war in the Netherlands all the forces of which he could dispose. The Queen did not yet take direct part in it, and Philip had to avoid everything that could induce her to do so. It was not her object to bring about the independence of the Provinces: but she insisted on the departure of the Spanish troops, the observance of the provincial constitutions, and above all assured liberty for the Protestant faith. In 1575 she offered the King her mediation, not however without including one special English matter, namely the mitigation of the severe religious laws in reference to English merchants in the Spanish countries: the King took the opinion of the Grand Inquisitor on it. As if he could ever have been in its favour himself! The Pacification of Ghent in 1576 was quite in accordance with the Queen's views, since it established the supremacy of the Estates, and freedom of religion for the chief Northern provinces. To maintain this, she had no hesitation in concluding an alliance with the States, and in consequence despatching a body of English troops to the Netherlands. She informed the King himself of this, and requested him to recall the Stadtholder Don John, his half-brother (who was trying to break the peace), and to receive the Estates into his favour: she did not by this think to come to a breach with him.

The idea of entrusting Don John of Austria, the victor of Lepanto, with the restoration of Catholicism in West Europe had been at that time adopted in Rome. His was a fiery nature pervaded by Catholic principles, and seized with the most vivid ambition to be something in the world and to effect something. The Irish wished him to be their king; he was to free Mary Stuart from prison, vindicate her rights alike in Scotland and in England, and at her side ascend the


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