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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

A plan which Sully had entertained all his life


Surprise

might be felt that France, which for several centuries had exercised a ruling influence on Scotland, and which in this union of the two crowns might have seen a disadvantage if not a danger for herself, allowed it to take place without obstruction. This conduct may be explained principally by the violent opposition which existed between Henry IV and Spain even after the peace of Vervins, and by the hostile influence incessantly exercised by that power upon the internal relations of his kingdom, in the pacification of which he was still engaged. It would have been dangerous for Henry himself to revive the hatred between England and Scotland, which could only have redounded to the advantage of his foes.

James I however did not intend, and could not be expected to occupy exactly the same position as his predecessor. If he had adopted her views, yet this was a compliance exacted from him by a regard to the succession: he had felt that it was wrung from him. It is intelligible, and he did not attempt to disguise the fact, that he felt the death of Elizabeth to be in some sense his emancipation. He avoided appearing at her obsequies; every word showed that he did not love to recall her memory. In London people thought to please him by getting rid of the likenesses of the glorious Queen, and replacing them by those of his mother. The first matter which was submitted to him whilst still in Scotland, and which engaged him on the journey and immediately

after his arrival, was the question whether he should proceed with the war which Elizabeth had planned; whether in fact he should continue her general policy. Henry IV sent without delay one of his most distinguished statesmen, who was moreover a Protestant, Maximilian de Bethune, Duke of Sully, as Ambassador Extraordinary; and Sully did not neglect to explain to the King the plan of an alliance between the States of Europe under the lead of France, that should be able to cope with the Austro-Spanish power, a plan which Sully had entertained all his life. James gave the ambassador, as he wished, a private audience in a retired chamber of his palace at Greenwich, asked many questions, and listened with attention, for he loved far-reaching schemes; but he was far from intending to embark on them. As he had reached the throne without arms, so he wished to maintain himself there by peaceful means.[316] It was natural that the Queen, who had been excommunicated by the Pope, and had carried on a war for life and death with the Spanish crown, should have intended to renew the struggle with all her might: such designs suited her personal position; but his own was different. Deeply penetrated by the idea of legitimacy, he even hesitated whether he should support the Netherlanders, who after all, in his judgment, were only rebels. To the remark that it would be a loss for England herself if the taking of Ostend, then besieged by the Spaniards, were not prevented, he replied by asking unconcernedly whether this place had not belonged in former times to the Spanish crown, and whether the English trade had not flourished there for all that. In these first moments of his reign however the difficulties of his government were already brought into view, together with the opposition between different tendencies latent in it. If he was unwilling to continue the policy of his predecessor, yet he could not absolutely renounce it: there were pledges which he could not break, interests which he could not neglect. In order to meet his objections the argument employed by Elizabeth was adduced, that she supported the Provinces only because the agreements, in virtue of which they had submitted themselves to the house of Burgundy, had been first broken by the other side.[317] The King's tone of mind was such that this argument may well have had an effect upon him. At last he consented to bestow further assistance, although only indirectly. He conceded that one half of the sum which Henry IV paid to the States General should be subtracted from the demands which England had against France, and should be employed by the Netherlanders in recruiting in the English dominions. By this expedient he intended to satisfy the terms of the old alliance between England and the Provinces, and yet not be prevented from coming to an agreement with Spain.


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