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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

And soon afterwards he set out for Bohemia


Count Dohna, following the example of James's councillors, concluded from his expressions that he was not only not opposed to the acceptance of the crown, but that he would allow himself to be enlisted in its favour, and would support it. And there is no doubt that this view exercised a decisive influence upon the final resolution of the Elector Frederick. He certainly was already strongly inclined to accept the crown in opposition to his more clear-sighted and sagacious mother, but in agreement with his ardent wife: but he had not yet uttered the final words when Dohna's report came in.[404] When he learned from this that the King was not decidedly unfavourable, the Elector thought that he recognised a dispensation of God which he would not decline to carry out. In the presence of his councillors at the castle of Heidelberg he declared to the Bohemian ambassadors that he accepted the crown; and soon afterwards he set out for Bohemia. In October 1619 (Oct. 25/Nov. 4) he was crowned at Prague.

What unforeseen consequences however for himself and his friends, for Germany and for England, were destined to spring out of this undertaking!

[Sidenote: A.D. 1620.]

In London, where the popular party had already from the first fixed their eyes on the Princess, this step was welcomed with the most joyous approval. It was represented to the King that the most brilliant prospect was thus opened to his family; that on the next vacancy his son-in-law, who already himself held two votes in the electoral body, could not fail to be chosen Emperor; and that England would by this means acquire the greatest influence on the continent. It was expected that these feelings for his family, and the successful issue of events, would work together to detach him again from Spain.

James on one occasion, on receiving the news of the confinement of his daughter, drank a bowl of wine 'to the health of the King and Queen of Bohemia.' He went so far as this, and people thought it worth while to record the event; but he could not be brought to acknowledge Frederick openly. He was not satisfied with the proof of their right advanced by the Bohemians: in conversation he advocated the right of Austria.

Spain and the League, as was inevitable, joined forces with Austria. In the first instance the Palatinate itself was the object of their joint attack. How could men have helped thinking that King James would resolutely take the inheritance of his grandsons under his protection? The Union invited him to do so, reminding him of the obligation imposed on him by his connexion with them mentioned above: they said it was no favour, but justice which they demanded of him. But James replied that he had pledged himself only to repel open and unjustifiable attacks, but that in the present case the Palatinate was the attacking party, and that Austria stood on the defensive. The Union presently saw itself compelled to conclude a treaty with the League, which left that power free to act against Bohemia. The Palatinate however was not secured thereby against the Spaniards.[405] To effect this, it would have been deemed advisable to make an attack from Holland on the Spanish Netherlands; for if a single fortified place had been occupied there, the Palatinate would have had nothing more to fear from Spain. But to this measure also James refused his consent: he thought that this would be equivalent to beginning war, which he did not wish.

The general sympathy of the nation was strong enough at last to cause a large English regiment of 2500 men, under Horace Vere, to be sent on the continent, in order that the Palatinate, on which the Spaniards now advanced, might not become utterly a prey to them. The Earls of Essex and Oxford, who had contributed most to raise the regiment, themselves took part in the campaign. They were joined by many other young men of leading families, who wished to learn the art of war. But they had received from the King positive commands to commit no act of hostility. The troops of the Union, who showed themselves quite ready to fight the Spaniards, were withheld by the threat that in that case the King would recall these troops instead of sending two more regiments to join them, the hope of which he held out to them in the event of their obedience. It was enough for the King that the English troops occupied the most important places. Vere held Mannheim, Herbert Heidelberg, Burrows Frankenthal; while the greater part of the country fell into the hands of the Spaniards.


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