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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

Was executed in 1585 Parry also


Occupied

with measures of defence on all sides, the English government had already long been considering how to meet this danger. This was the very reason why Elizabeth's marriage was so often spoken of with popular approbation: if she had children, Mary's claims would lose their importance. Gradually however every man had to confess to himself that this was not to be expected, and on other grounds hardly to be wished. Then men thought how to solve the difficulty in another way.

The chief danger was this: if an attempt on Elizabeth's life succeeded, the supreme authority would devolve on Mary, who was on the spot, who cherished entirely opposite views, and would have at once realised them:--the thought occurred as early as 1579 of declaring by formal act of parliament that all persons by whom the reigning Queen should be in any way endangered or injured should forfeit any claim they might have to the crown;[254] terms which though general were in reality directed only against the Queen of Scots; at that time the proposal was not carried into effect.

The negociations are not yet completely cleared up which were carried on with Mary in 1582-3 for her restoration in Scotland. The English once more repeated their old demand, that Mary should even now ratify the treaty of Edinburgh, and annul all that had been done in violation of it by her first husband or by herself. She was further not merely to renounce every design against

the security and peace of England, but to pledge herself to oppose it: and in general, as long as Elizabeth was alive, to put forward no claim to the English throne: whether she had such a right after Elizabeth's death the parliament of England was to decide.[255] Here too the old view came into the foreground: Parliament was to be made the judge of hereditary right. The negociation failed owing to the Scotch intrigues of these years, in which the intention rather was to assert the claim of inheritance with the strong hand.

And from day to day new attempts on Elizabeth's life came to light. In 1584 Francis Throckmorton, who took part in these very schemes, was executed: in 1585 Parry also, who confessed having been in connexion with Mary's plenipotentiary in France, and who had come over to assassinate Queen Elizabeth. Writings were spread abroad in which those about her were called on to imitate, against this female Holofernes, the example set in the book of Judith.

Protestant England in the danger of its sovereign saw its own. In all churches prayers were offered for her safety. The most remarkable proof of this temper is contained in an association of individuals for defending the Queen, which was at that time subscribed to far and wide through the country. It begins with a statement that, to promote certain claims on the crown, the Queen's life was threatened in a highly treasonable manner, and enters into a union in God's name, in which each man pledges himself to the others, to combat with word and deed, and even to pursue with arms, all who should make any attempt on the Queen's person; and not to rest till these wretches were completely destroyed. If the attempt was so far successful as to raise a claim to the crown, they pledged themselves never to recognise such a claim: whoever broke this oath and separated himself from the association should be treated by the other members as a perjurer.[256]

The main object of this association was to cut off all prospect of the succession from any attempt in favour of the Queen of Scots: a great part of the nation pledged itself to reject a claim made good in this manner as exceptionable in every respect. The Parliament of 1585, many of whose members belonged to the association, not merely confirmed it formally: it now also expressly enacted, that persons in whose favour a rebellion should be attempted, and an attack on the Queen undertaken, should lose their right to the crown: if they themselves took part in any such plots, they were to forfeit their life. The Queen was empowered to appoint a commission of at least twenty-four members to judge of this offence.


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