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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

As had been stipulated with Spain


People still perceived in the King his old indecision. He consented, it is true, that Mansfeld, whom he had formerly helped the Spaniards to expel from his strong position on the Upper Rhine, should now be supported by English as well as French money in a new campaign to recover the Palatinate. But nevertheless he wished at the same time to enjoin him as a condition to abstain from attacking any country which rightfully belonged to the Archduchess Isabella, or to the crown of Spain.[442] So far was he still from undertaking open war against Spain, as his subjects hoped and expected.

And though he acceded to the negotiations with France, yet in this transaction the very circumstance which displeased the majority of his subjects--namely that he was hereby making an alliance with a Catholic power--was acceptable to him. For even then he would not have consented at any price to have interfered in the general religious quarrel merely on religious grounds. He felt no hesitation in promising the French, as he had the Spaniards, not only freedom of religion in behalf of the future queen, but even relief for his Catholic subjects in regard to the penal laws imposed by Parliament. Yet he could have wished that they had contented themselves with his simple promise. One of his envoys, Lord Nithisdale, was himself of this opinion. On the other side it was remarked that perhaps the Catholics, of whom he also was one, might be contented with a promise from their sovereign, on whom their whole welfare depended, but that the French government could not, as it must have a dispensation from the Pope, which could not be obtained without a written assurance. James I at first declared himself ready to give such a declaration in a letter to the king of France, and La Vieuville, who was minister at the time, expressed himself content with that. But after his fall and Richelieu's accession to power this arrangement was rejected. It was in vain that the King's ambassadors held out a prospect that the letter should be signed by the Prince and by the chief Secretary of State; the French insisted that the King should ratify not only the treaty, but also a special engagement which they themselves wished to frame and to lay before Urban VIII. The English plenipotentiaries at the French court, Holland and Carlisle, were still refusing to agree to this, when King James had already given way to the French ambassador in England.

The agreement, in the form in which it was at last concluded, was in some points more advantageous for England than that with Spain had been. While the latter stipulated that the laws which had been passed, or might hereafter be passed, in England against the Catholics were not to be applied to the royal children, but that these on the contrary were still to be secured in their right to the succession, an agreement which, as was mentioned, opened a prospect of an alteration in the religion of the reigning family; this supposition was avoided in the contract with France. But it was agreed on the other hand that the future queen was to conduct the education of her children, not merely till their tenth year, as had been stipulated with Spain, but till their thirteenth. She herself and her household were also to enjoy a higher degree of ecclesiastical independence; the superintendence of a bishop was even allowed them. It was the ambition of the Pope to demand not much less from the French than his predecessor had demanded from the Spaniards as the price of bestowing a dispensation for the marriage of a Catholic princess with a Protestant prince; and it was the ambition of the French court to offer him, or at least to appear to offer him, no less. In the special assurance above mentioned James gave a promise that his Catholic subjects should look forward to the enjoyment of still greater freedom than that which would have been conferred on them by the agreement with Spain. They were not to be molested for the sake of religion, either in their persons or in their possessions, supposing that in other respects they conducted themselves as good and loyal subjects.[443]


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