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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

We refrain from following the course of these negociations


throne of the British kingdoms

now united in Catholicism. Mary gladly acceded to this, as she had already long wished for a marriage with the Spanish house. It was probably to give this combination a firmer basis that she proposed, in case her son did not prove to be a Catholic, to transfer her claims on the throne of England to the King of Spain, or to any of his relatives whom he should name in conjunction with the Pope.[241] But whom could she mean by these last words but Don John himself, who then stood in close connexion with the Guises, whom she also recommended most pressingly to the King. But she had at the same time directed her aim towards Scotland. There her enemies Murray and Lennox had perished by assassination; under the following regents, Mar and Morton, Mary had still nevertheless so many partisans, that they never could have ventured, as they were requested to do from England, to allow Mary to come to Scotland and be put on her trial: their own power would have been endangered by it. Mary too believed herself to have prepared everything there so well for an enterprise by Don John that, as she says, an overthrow of the Scotch government would infallibly have ensued if Philip II had only put his hand to the work. And how closely were his interests bound up with it! Without a conquest of the island-kingdom, as his brother represented to him, the Netherlands could never be subdued. But even now he shunned an open rupture. Besides this his brother's restlessness and thirst for action, and his political
intrigues which were already reacting on Spain, were disagreeable to him; he could not make up his mind to take a decisive step.

He had again and again been vainly entreated to interest himself in the population of Ireland, in which national and religious antagonism contended against the supremacy of England. One of the confidential agents secretly sent thither assured him that he was implored by nine-tenths of the inhabitants to take them under his protection and save their souls, that is restore them the mass, which they could no longer celebrate publicly: they appealed to their primeval relationship with the Iberian people, to ancient prophecies which looked forward to this, and to the great political interests at stake. Philip was not disinclined to attempt the enterprise; but he required the co-operation of France, without doubt to break the opposition of this power in the affairs of the Netherlands; a condition which could not be made acceptable to the French by any interposition of Rome.

And so, if Pope Gregory XIII wished to undertake anything against Ireland, he had to do it himself. Men witnessed the singular spectacle of an expedition against Ireland being fitted out on the coasts of the States of the Church. A papal general from Bologna came to the assistance of the powerful Irish chief, Fitzmaurice. They commanded the Irish districts far and wide, and made inroads into the English: for a long time they were very troublesome, although not really dangerous.

King Philip was then busied in an undertaking which interested him still more closely than even that of the Netherlands: he made good his hereditary claim to Portugal, without being obstructed in it either by the opposition of a native claimant or by the counter-working of the European powers.

In the face of this success, by which the Spanish monarchy became master of the whole Pyrenean peninsula and its many colonies in East and West, it was all the more necessary for the other two powers to hold together. Many causes of quarrel indeed arose between them. How could the shocking event of the night of St. Bartholomew fail to awaken all the antipathies of the English, and indeed of Protestantism in general! Elizabeth did not let herself be prevented by her treaty from supporting the French Protestants in the manner she liked, that is without its being possible to prove it against her. Under Charles IX she contributed to prevent them from succumbing, under Henry III she helped them in recovering a certain political position: for this very object the Palsgrave Casimir led into France German troops paid with English money. Catharine Medici often reproached her with observing a policy like that of Louis XI. But the common interest of the two kingdoms was always more powerful than these differences; frequent and long negociations were carried on for even a closer union. The marriage of Queen Elizabeth with Catharine's youngest son was once held to be as good as certain: he actually appeared personally in England. We refrain from following the course of these negociations. The interest they awaken constantly ends in disappointment, for they are always moving towards their object without attaining it. But perhaps it will repay our trouble to consider the reasons which came into consideration for and against the proposed connexion.


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