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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

Who were studying in the Universities of the Netherlands


The

main reason for it was that England must hinder an alliance between Spain and France, especially one in favour of the Queen of Scots. And certainly nothing had stood the English policy in Scotland in such stead as the good understanding with France. But much more seemed attainable if France and England were united for ever. They would then be able to compel the King of Spain to conclude a peace with the Netherlands which would secure them their liberties; and, if he did not observe it, they would have grounds for a common occupation of a part of the Provinces. If there should be any issue of the marriage, this would put an end to all attacks on Elizabeth's life, and greatly strengthen the attachment of her subjects.

But against it was the fact that this marriage would bring the Queen into disagreeable personal relations; and the country would be as unwilling to see a French king as it had once a Spanish one. And how would it be, if a son sprung from the marriage, to inherit both the French and the English throne? was England to be ruled by a viceroy? What an opposition the world would raise to the union of these mighty kingdoms, into what complications might it not lead! Scotland would again attach itself to the French: the Netherlands and the German princes would be alienated.

The members of the Privy Council, after they had weighed all these considerations, at last pronounced themselves on the whole against

it. They recommended the continuance of the present system,--the support of the Protestants, especially in France, a good understanding with the King of Scotland, and the maintenance of religion and justice in England: thus they would be a match for every threat of the King of Spain.[242]

But that sovereign had one ally against whom these precautions could not suffice, the Order of Jesuits and the seminaries of English priests under its guidance.

Young exiles from England, who were studying in the Universities of the Netherlands, to prevent the Catholic priesthood from perishing among the English at home, had been already in Alva's time brought together in a college at Douay, which was then removed to Rheims as the revolt spread in the Netherlands. Pope Gregory XIII was not content with supporting this institution by a monthly subsidy; he was ambitious of imitating Gregory the Great and exercising a direct influence on England: he founded in Rome itself a seminary for the reconversion of that country. He made over for this purpose the old English hospital which was also connected with the memory of Thomas Becket. The first students however fell out with each other, and there was seen in Rome the old antagonism of the 'Welsh' and the 'Saxons'; in the end the latter gained the upper hand, it was mainly their doing that the institution was given over to the Jesuits. Not long after its activity began. Each student on his reception was bound to devote his powers to spreading the Catholic doctrines in England; by April 1580 a company of thirteen priests was ready, after receiving the Pope's blessing, to set out with this object. The chief among them were Robert Parsons, who passed into England disguised as a soldier, and Edmund Campion as a merchant. The first went to Gloucester and Hereford, the other to Oxford and Northampton: they and the friends who followed them found everywhere a rich harvest.[243] It was arranged so that they arrived in the evening at the appointed houses of their friends: there they heard confessions and gave advice to the faithful. Early in the morning they preached, and then broke up again; it was customary to provide them an armed escort to guard them from any mischance.


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