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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

The hereditary right to the crown of Bohemia


the English envoy, Digby, to

whom he opened a proposal for the marriage of Prince Charles with Mary, daughter of Philip III. The Spanish ambassador, Gondomar, had then taken the management of the affair in hand. We should do him wrong by supposing that he wished to deceive the King. Gondomar rather belonged to the party who looked for the welfare of the Spanish monarchy in the maintenance of peace, especially with England. The scheme of the marriage was part of the system of powerful alliances by which it was sought to prop the greatness of Spain. Even the uncertain rumour of this scheme, which was instantly propagated, sufficed to agitate the Protestant party in Europe and in England itself. The King declared that he moved only with leaden foot towards the proposal which had been made to him; and that, if it were seen that the alliance was dangerous to religion or to existing agreements, it should never take effect. But even the Secretary of State, Ralph Winwood, who repeated this declaration, disapproved of the scheme, as did also the whole school of Robert Cecil. They had wished to marry the Prince to the daughter of a German line, perhaps to a Brandenburg princess; and the States General offered their money and their services in order to win the consent of any such princess, and to convey her to England. Many would have preferred even a domestic alliance after the old fashion. Opposition was also offered on the part of the Church of England. Archbishop Abbot only delayed to urge it until the conditions
of the marriage should come under discussion. But the King likewise had the approval of influential voices on his side. It was considered possible to conclude the marriage, and yet to preserve the other alliances of the country. People thought that England would in that case be only the more courted by both parties, and that the peace of the world would rest on the shoulders of the King.

[Sidenote: A.D. 1619.]

But what a contradiction was involved in the ascendancy which these ideas obtained? The hereditary right to the crown of Bohemia, which the estates of that country would no longer acknowledge, belonged to the house of Spain. It was intended that the Elector Palatine should step into its place by election; and this prince was son-in-law to the King. After James had married his daughter to the head of the Protestants in Germany, he conceived the thought of marrying his son to the member of a family which had made the patronage and protection of Catholicism its special calling. It seemed as if he was purposely introducing into his own family the disunion which rent Europe in twain.

The negotiations in Germany after a time resulted in the victory of the house of Austria, which in spite of all opposition carried the day in the election of the Emperor. The Elector Palatine acknowledged Ferdinand II without hesitation. But almost at the same moment he received the news that he had himself been elected king by the Estates of Bohemia. It cannot be proved that he was privy to this beforehand: even the rumour that his wife urged him to accept the crown because she was a king's daughter meets with no confirmation. They were not so blind as not to perceive the enormous danger in which the acceptance of this offer would involve them. In reply to a question of the Elector, his wife answered that she regarded the election as a divine dispensation, that if he determined to accept it, which she left entirely to his consideration, she for her part was resolved to undergo everything that might follow from it. We must not regard as hypocrisy the prominence which the prince and the princess alike gave to religious considerations. Such was the fashion of the times generally, and especially of the party to which they belonged.


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