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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

It rose in 1593 to three subsidies and six fifteenths


the Spanish forces were drawn into the complications existing in France. The great Catholic agitation, which had been long fermenting there, at last gained the upper hand, and was quite ready to prepare the way for Philip II's supremacy. But Queen Elizabeth thought that the day on which France fell into his hands would be the eve of her own ruin. She too therefore devoted her best resources to France, to uphold Philip II's opponent. When Henry IV, driven back to the verge of the coast of Normandy, was all but lost, he was by her help put in a position to maintain his cause. At the sieges of the great towns, in which he was still often threatened with failure, the English troops in several instances did excellent service. The Queen did not swerve from her policy even when Henry IV saw himself compelled, and found it compatible with his conscience, to go over to Catholicism. For he was clearly thus all the better enabled to re-establish a France that should be politically independent, in opposition to Spain and at war with it; and it was exactly on this opposition that the political freedom and independence of England herself rested. Yet as his change of religion had been disagreeable to the Queen, so was also the peace which he proceeded to make; she exerted her influence against its conclusion. But as by it the Spaniards gave up the places they occupied on the French coasts, which in their possession had menaced England as well, she could not in reality be fundamentally opposed
to it.

These great conflicts on land were seconded by repeated attacks of the English and Dutch naval power, by which it sometimes seemed as if the Spanish monarchy would be shaken to its foundations. Elizabeth made an attempt to restore Don Antonio to the throne from which Philip II had driven him. But the minds of the Portuguese themselves were very far from being as yet sufficiently prepared for a revolt: the enterprise failed, in an attack on the suburbs of Lisbon. The war interested the English most deeply. Parliament agreed to larger and larger grants: from two-fifteenths and a single subsidy (about L30,000), which was its usual vote, it rose in 1593 to three subsidies and six-fifteenths; the towns gladly armed ships at their own expense, and sailors enough were found to man them: the national energy turned towards the sea. And they obtained some successes. In the harbour of Corunna they destroyed the collected stores, which were probably to have served for renewing the expedition. Once they took the harbour of Cadiz and occupied the city itself: more than once they alarmed and endangered the West Indies. But with all this nothing decisive was effected; the Spanish monarchy maintained an undoubted ascendancy in Europe, and the exclusive possession of the other hemisphere: it was the Great Power of the age. But over against it England also now took up a strong and formidable position.

Events in France exercised a strong counter-action on the Netherlands; under their influence the reconquest of the United Provinces became impossible for Spain. Elizabeth also contributed largely to the victories by which Prince Maurice of Orange secured a strong frontier. But these could not prevent a powerful Catholic government arising on the other side in the Belgian provinces: and though they were at first kept apart from Spain, yet it did not escape the Queen that this would not last for ever: she seems to have had a foreboding that these countries would become the battleground of a later age. However this might be, the antagonism of principle between the Catholic Netherlands (which were still ruled by the Austro-Spanish House) and the Protestant Netherlands (in which the Republic maintained itself), and the continued war between them, ensured the security of England, for the sake of which the Queen had broken with Spain. Burleigh's objects were in the main attained.

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