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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

If there were still Yorkist partisans in England


the object of the Spaniards was to sever Scotland from her old alliance with France, and that too by means of a family alliance, it was an essential point in their mediation that Henry VII, as he betrothed his son Arthur to a Spanish Infanta, should similarly betroth his daughter Margaret to James IV. The understanding with Spain and that with Scotland went hand in hand.

And on another side too the alliance with Spain was very useful to the King of England. Ferdinand had married his elder daughter Juana to Maximilian's son the Archduke Philip: Philip could not possibly uphold the Yorkist interests so zealously as his father or his grandmother. It was an event of importance that at Whitsuntide 1500 a meeting took place between the English and the Austro-Burgundian Court in the neighbourhood of Calais. Henry applied himself to win over those whom he knew to be his enemies: but at the same time he wished it to be remarked that the Archduke showed him the honour which belongs to a lawful King. If there were still Yorkist partisans in England, who placed their hopes in the house of Burgundy, they would find that they had nothing more to hope from that quarter.

So the Spanish alliance served the prudent and circumspect politician, to secure him from any hostile action on the side of Scotland and the Netherlands. When Catharine in 1501 came to England for her marriage, she was received with additional joy because it

was felt that her near connexion with the Burgundian house promised good relations with the Netherlands.[78]

But never was a more eventful marriage concluded.

We do not know whether the Prince of Wales had really consummated it when he died before he was yet sixteen. But the two fathers were so well satisfied with an alliance which increased the security of the one and gained the other great consideration in the world, that they could not bring themselves to give up the family connexion, by which it was so much strengthened. The thought occurred to Ferdinand--a very unusual one in the rest of the European world, though not indeed in Spain--of marrying the Infanta to Henry, brother of the deceased prince, who was now recognised as Prince of Wales. With his condolence for the loss he united a proposal for the new marriage. In England from the beginning men did not hide from themselves that as regarded the future succession, which ought not to be contested from any side, the matter had its delicate points. The solution which Henry found shows clearly enough the natural tactics of the old politician. He obtained from the Roman Court a dispensation for the new marriage, which expressly included the case of the first marriage having been consummated. But it almost appears as though he did not fully trust this authorisation. High as the prestige of the supreme Pontiff still stood in the world, there were yet cases in which canonists and theologians doubted as to his dispensing power; men could not possibly have forgotten that, when Richard III wished to marry his niece Elizabeth, a number of doctors disapproved of such a marriage, even if the Pope should sanction it. At any rate Henry VII instigated, or at least did not oppose, his son's solemnly entering a protest, after the marriage ceremony between him and Catharine was performed, against its validity (on the ground of his being too young), the evening before he entered his fifteenth year, in the presence of the Bishop of Winchester, his father's chief Secretary of State. Hence all remained undecided. Catharine lived on in England: her dowry did not need to be given up; the general influence of the political union was saved; it could however be dissolved at any moment, and there was therefore no quarrel on this account with France, whence from time to time proposals proceeded for a marriage in the opposite interest. The prince kept himself quite free, to make use of the dispensation or not.

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