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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

With the zealous Catholics throughout the world


Withal

the forms of the church-service in England had been so arranged that it might remain practicable for the Catholics also to take part in it. How many had done so hitherto, perhaps with a rosary or a Catholic book of prayers in their hands! The chief effort of the seminarist priests, on their return to the country, was to put an end to this: they dissuaded intercourse with the Protestants even on indifferent matters. The Queen's statesmen were astonished to find how much the number of recusants increased all at once; from secret presses proceeded writings of an aggressive, and exceedingly malignant, character; in many places Elizabeth was again designated as illegitimate, a usurper, no longer as Queen. On this the repressive system, which had been already set in motion in consequence of Pope Pius V's bull, was made more stringent; this is what has brought on the Queen's government the charge of cruelty. The Catholics too began to compose their martyrologies. One of the first priests whose execution they describe, Cuthbert Mayne, was condemned by the jury for bringing the Bull with him into other people's houses together with some _Agnus Dei_.[244] Young people were condemned for trying to make their way to the foreign seminaries. On the wish of the missionaries Pope Gregory XIII explained the bull so far, that the excommunication pronounced in it against all who should obey the Queen's commands was meant to be in suspense till it was possible to execute it against the Queen herself
on whom it continued to weigh.[245] This limitation however rather increased the danger. The Catholics could remain quiet till rebellion was possible, then it became a duty. The law-courts now sought above all to make the accused priests declare themselves as to the validity of the bull and its obligation. Men held themselves justified in extreme severity against those who 'slip into the country at the instigation of the great enemy, the Pope, and poison the hearts of the subjects with pernicious doctrines.'[246] On this ground Campion met his death; Parsons escaped. Assuredly there were not so many executed as the Catholic world wished to reckon, but yet probably more than the statesmen of England admitted. They persisted that it was not a persecution for religion: and in fact the controverted questions lay mainly in the region of the conflict between Papacy and Monarchy: those executed were not so much martyrs of Catholicism as of the idea of the Papal supremacy over monarchs. But how closely connected are these ideas with each other! The priests for their part believed that they were dying for God and the Church. But the effect which the English government had in view was, with all its severity, not produced. We are assured on Catholic authority that in 1585 there were yet several hundred priests actively engaged. From their reports it is clear that they were still always counting on a complete victory. They vigorously pressed for the attempt at an invasion, which they represented as almost sure of success; 'for two-thirds of the English are still Catholic; the Queen has neither strong places nor disciplined troops: with 16,000 men she might be overthrown.' This time also the house of the Spanish ambassador, Bernardino Mendoza, formed the meeting-point for these tendencies; he kept up a constant communication with the emigrants who had been declared rebels, and with the discontented at home, with Mary Stuart and her friends in Scotland, with the zealous Catholics throughout the world, especially with the Guises, with whom Philip II himself now had an understanding. The increasing power of his sovereign gained him also an ever-increasing consideration.

It was in these days that the Western and Southern Netherlands were again subdued by King Philip. After the death of his brother, his nephew Alexander Farnese of Parma had formed an army of unmixed Catholic composition, which had naturally from its inner unity gained the upper hand over the government of the States, which had called now a German and now a French prince to its head, and was composed of different religions and nationalities. First the seaports, then the towns of Flanders, and at last the wealthy Antwerp also, which by its mental activity and commercial resources had materially nourished the revolt, fell into the hands of the Spaniards. The Prince of Orange was assassinated by a fanatic. Alexander of Parma, who ascribed his victories to the Virgin Mary, pushed on his conquests gradually till they reached the Northern and Eastern Provinces.


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