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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

Which did not enter on the session until January 1606


The

necessary and inevitable result of the conspiracy was that Parliament, which did not enter on the session until January 1606, still further increased the existing severity of its laws. The great body of Catholics had not in any way participated in the plot; but yet, as it had originated among them, and was intended for the redress of their common grievances, they were all affected by the reaction which it produced. The Catholic recusants were to be subjected to the former penalties: they were sentenced to exclusion from the palace and from the capital; they were forbidden to hold any appointment in the public service either in the administration of justice, or as government officials, or even as physicians; they were obliged to open their houses at any moment for examination; the solemnisation of their marriages and the baptism of their children were henceforth to be legal only if performed by Protestant clergymen. It is evident that the Papal See would have preferred to restrain the agitation of the Catholics at this juncture; but as the latter appealed to the principle which had been impressed on them by their missionaries, that men had no duties to a king who was a heretic, the Parliament thought it necessary to impose on them an oath which concerned the authority of their Church as well as that of the State. Not only were they to be compelled to acknowledge the King as their legitimate prince, to defend him against every conspiracy and every attack, even when made under the
pretext of religion, and to promise to reveal any such to him; they must also renounce the doctrine that the authority of the Church gave the Pope the right of deposing a king, and absolving his subjects from their oath of allegiance; and they must condemn as impious and heretical the doctrine that princes excommunicated by the Pope could be dethroned or put to death by their subjects.[340] Attention was directed to the English regiment in the service of the Archduke; and it was thought dangerous that so many malcontents should be assembled there, and should practise the use of arms, in order perhaps to turn them some day against their country. It was enacted that the Oath of Supremacy should be imposed on every one who took service abroad before his departure, with a pledge that he would not be reconciled to the Papacy: even securities for the observance of the oath were to be exacted.

In the spring of the year 1605 the whole state of England still showed a tendency to clemency and conciliation. In the early part of 1606 the opposite tendency had completely obtained the upper hand.

But this state of affairs necessarily reacted on Catholic countries and governments. In Spain, where it was easiest to rouse the susceptibilities of Catholicism, the severe measures of the Parliament of themselves created a feeling of bitterness: but besides this, Irish refugees resorted thither who gave an agitating account of the way in which these measures were carried out in Ireland:[341] so that the nation felt itself affronted in the persons of its co-religionists. Both governments, that of Spain and that of the Netherlands, refused to hand over to the English government men like Baldwin and Owen, who were taxed with participating in the plot, or to banish others whom the English government considered dangerous. The pious were reminded of the will of Queen Mary, in which she had transferred her hereditary right over England, France, Ireland and Scotland, to the House of Spain in case her son should not be converted to the Church.


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