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The Reign of Queen Mary page 13

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The burning of Latimer, Ridley, and Cranmer has justly been pronounced a gross political blunder. The noble firmness and dignity with which these eminent men died, made a profound and lasting impression on the public mind. Their faith was, as it were, burnt into the general heart with their death. The enemies of Cranmer had particularly calculated on dishonouring the Reformation in him; at the last moment he rose, and threw new lustre on it. Men might have despised a faith which its adherents were weak enough to renounce; but its opponents drove their triumph too far, and it became the triumph of their victims, whose end, ennobled by their religion, made men reflect on that, and gave new impulse, and widely different influence to it.

The day after the death of Cranmer, Cardinal Pole, who had now taken priest's orders, was consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury; and showed his anxiety to check this fierce and impolitic persecution, but, as we shall find, with no great result.

Whilst these terrible transactions had been taking place King Philip had quitted the kingdom. With all his endeavours to become popular with the English, Philip never could win their regard. He conformed to many national customs, and affected to enjoy the national amusements; threw off much of his hauteur, especially in his intercourse with the nobles, and conferred pensions on them on the plea that they had stood by the queen during the insurrection. But nothing could inspire the English with confidence in him. They had always an idea that the object of the Spaniards was to introduce the Spanish rule and dominance here. They had always the persuasion that it was no longer their own queen but the future King of Spain and the Netherlands who ruled. It was clearly seen that Philip never had any real affection for Mary; it was the public opinion that he had now less than ever, whilst the poor invalid Mary doated on him, and was ready to yield up everything but the actual sovereignty to him. And now came a very sufficient cause for the departure of Philip from England. His father, Charles V., wearied of governing his vast empire, was anxious to abdicate in favour of his son. Philip embarked at Dover on the 4th of September, 1555. Mary accompanied him from Hampton to Greenwich, riding through London in a litter, in order, as the French ambassador states, "that her people might see that she was not dead." The queen was anxious to proceed as far as Dover, and see him embark, but her health did not permit this; and after parting with him with passionate grief, she endeavoured to console herself by having daily prayers offered for his safety and speedy return.

Before quitting the kingdom, Philip took care to leave with Cardinal Pole directions for the guidance of the Council, and these directions, which remain in the cardinal's handwriting, are as absolute, and as void of reference to any option of the queen's, as if there were no such person. This is plain proof that the English were quite right when they ascribed to Philip the real and sole government of the country, the queen having an idea that it was her duty as a wife to submit in all things to her husband. This important fact is fully substantiated by an oration of Sir Thomas Smith, in which he traced all the cruelty of Mary's reign to her marriage; by Fuller, the Church historian, who, whilst recording all the horrors of her reign, admits that "she had been a worthy princess if as little cruelty had been done under her as by her;" and by Fox, in his "Book of Martyrs," who declares that "she was a woman every way excellent while she followed her own inclination." Nor did the queen resume more power in his absence, for we are assured by Noailles, that he maintained a constant correspondence with his ministers, and no appointment or measure was carried into effect without his previous knowledge and consent.

Scarcely was Philip gone when Mary alarmed the nobility by agitating the question of the resumption of the Church lands, declaring that they had been taken from the proper owners in the time of schism. She offered to resign those held by the Crown on the same principle; but Parliament would listen to neither of these propositions for some time, and finally only permitted the Government to restore the first-fruits, tenths, and impropriations, fearing that it might only be a prelude to a demand of the Church lands held by themselves. On the 12th of November, 1558, before the closing of the Parliament, Gardiner died, and Heath, the Archbishop of York, a man of much inferior talent, was made chancellor.

During Philip's absence in 1556, he sent continual demands for money. It was impossible to supply this, and it was contrary to the marriage treaty. Mary, in resigning the tenths and first-fruits, gave up an income of 60,000 a year; and when she applied to Parliament, the Commons asked whether it was reasonable that the subjects should be taxed to relieve the necessities of the sovereign when she refused to avail herself of the resources lawfully in her own hands. There were public complaints that Philip was draining the country for his own Continental purposes. Disappointed in Parliament, she next endeavoured to raise a loan. She named 1,000 persons, and demanded a contribution of 60 from each, to make up a sum of 60.000, Next 60,000 marks were levied on 7,000 yeomen, who had not contributed to the loan, and from the merchants 36,000. These sums not sufficing, still more extraordinary means were resorted to. Embargoes and prohibitions of exportation of goods were laid on to benefit merchants who had already goods in foreign markets, and who paid largely for this monopoly. Being refused a loan by the English Company in Antwerp, three ships laden with goods for the Antwerp fair were seized in the English ports, and detained till they agreed to the loan of 60,000 and to a charge of twenty shillings on each piece of goods.

Whilst Mary at home was thus incurring great odium by these arbitrary measures, her heartless husband, for whom the money was extorted, was living a dissolute life, and even ridiculing the person and manners of his wife amongst his courtiers. But though he could be jocose on this subject, so disgraceful in a husband, his influence on the country of his wife was disastrous and oppressive. All who were inclined to maintain their fidelity to the reformed opinions, were safe only in the deepest retirement. The Earls of Oxford, Westmorland, and Bedford, and the Lord Willoughby got into trouble on account of their religion, and Bedford was imprisoned for a short time. Even Sir Ralph Sadler, who had shown so little conscience in his Scotch diplomacy, retired to his rural mansion at Hackney, and avoided exciting attention till the accession of Elizabeth. Sir William Cecil, the soul of caution itself, having in vain tried to get into the service of Queen Mary, studied to avoid the observation of her ministers, and is said to have laid down a plan for the conduct of the Princess Elizabeth during this hazardous period, which she afterwards repaid by high honours and deep confidence. But the treatment of one illustrious man at this period excited great indignation amongst the liberal party. Sir John Cheke, one of the finest scholars of the age, whose name Milton apostrophises in his sonnets, as he

"Who first taught Cambridge and King Edward Greek,"

had taken part in the attempt to place Lady Jane Grey on the throne. He was thrown into the Tower, but was, after a while, liberated, and allowed to retire to the Continent. There he stayed some time, at Basle, in Switzerland, enjoying the Protestant worship. Thence he visited Rome, and returned safe to Flanders on his way homewards. Philip, hearing of his visit to his old friends, Lord Paget and Sir John Mason, Mary's ambassadors to the Netherlands, and now converts to Romanism, had him seized on the road betwixt Antwerp and Brussels, bound hand and foot, thrown into a cart, and carried off to a vessel bound for England. He was conveyed, gagged and muffled, to the Tower, where he was, through fear of death, compelled to sign his recantation, and have it published in the most humiliating manner. He is even said to have been compelled to sit on the bench by Bonner, and take part in persecuting those of his own faith. These shameful oppressions so affected him as to terminate his life at the age of forty-seven.

The hateful Star Chamber was now in full operation. It was, in fact, an English inquisition. Commissioners were empowered to inquire into heresies, and sale or possession of heretical books, to seize all persons offending in such particulars, and bring them to trial. They were authorised to break open houses, to search premises, compel attendance of witnesses, and to apply torture where they met with any stubbornness. Informers and secret spies abounded; they were to give secret information to the justices, and these were to examine the prisoners secretly and without permitting them to see their accusers. Nothing but the name of the Inquisition was wanting, for there were in active operation all its main elements - spies, secret seizure and imprisonment, tortures and the stake. Crimes grew and multiplied with the reign of terror; fifty-two malefactors were executed at Oxford at one assizes; yet this did not clear the highways of thieves, and some of these were of aristocratic rank. A son of Lord Sandys was hanged in London for a robbery on Whit-Sunday of property valued at 4,000. A son of Sir Edmund Peckham and one John Daniel were hanged soon afterwards and beheaded, on Tower Hill, for an attempt to rob the Treasury. There were deep discontents and plots, and in Norfolk, one Clever, who had been a schoolmaster, and three brothers of the name of Lincoln, were hanged, drawn, and quartered for an attempt at insurrection. To complete the dismal catalogue of the miseries of this gloomy time, fires and fatal maladies raged in the cities.

The Emperor Charles V., at the age of only fifty-five, had now resigned his immense empire to his son; and Spain, the Netherlands, Naples, Sicily, Milan, and the new and beautiful lands of South America, owned Philip as their lord. On the 25th of October, 1555, Charles, in an assembly of the States of the Netherlands, formally resigned the government of these countries to Philip, and in a few months later he also put him in possession of all his other governments. He then retired to the monastery of St. Just, near Placentia, on the borders of Spain and Portugal, where this great king, who had so long exercised so strong an influence on the destinies of Europe, shrunk into the condition of a private gentleman, retaining only a few servants and a single horse for his own use, and employing his now abundant leisure in religious exercises, in gardening, and clock-making.

During Philip's absence, a series of insurrections took place which disturbed the quiet of the queen, and in which the King of France seems to have borne no inconsiderable part. His assiduous minister, Noailles, disseminated reports that Mary, hopeless of issue, had resolved to settle the crown on her husband. This having produced its effect, a conspiracy was set on foot to put Elizabeth on the throne, and depose Mary. Henry Dudley, a relative of the late Duke of Northumberland, was to head it, and the French king, to secure his interest, had settled a handsome pension upon him. The worthless Courtenay, who was at this moment on his way to Italy, whence he never returned, was still to play the part of husband to Elizabeth, though the management of the plot was to be consigned to Dudley. Elizabeth had again, it is said, fully consented to this plot, though the health of Mary was such as must have promised her the throne at no distant day. Dudley was already on the coast of Normandy with some of his fellow conspirators, making preparations, when the King of France unexpectedly concluded a truce for five years with Philip. He therefore advised Dudley and his accomplices to lie quiet for a more favourable opportunity. This was a paralysing blow to the scheme of insurrection, and the coadjutors in England had gone so far that they did not think it safe to stop. Kingston, Udal, Throckmorton, Staunton, and others of the league determined to seize the treasure in the Tower, and once in possession of that, to raise forces and drive the queen from the throne. But one of them revealed the design, several of them were seized and executed, and others escaped to France. Mary applied by her ambassador, Lord Clinton, to Henry II. to have them delivered up, and received a polite promise of endeavour to secure them, which there was in reality no intention to fulfil. Amongst the conspirators arrested were two officers of the household of Elizabeth, Peckham and Werne, who made very awkward confessions; but again the princess escaped, it is said at the intercession of Philip, who was apprehensive, if Elizabeth was removed from the succession, of the claims of the French king on behalf of his daughter-in-law, the Queen of Scots. Elizabeth at all events escaped, protesting her innocence as stoutly as ever, but receiving from the Council in place of those two officers executed, two other trusty ones, Sir Thomas Pope and Robert Cage.

Very awkwardly, however, for Elizabeth, another eruption took place. The refugees in France pitched upon a young man of the name of Cleobury, who resembled the Earl of Devon, and persuaded him to personate him. He was landed on the coast of Sussex, and gave out that he was Courtenay, come to marry Elizabeth with her consent, and had himself and the princess proclaimed king and queen. The people, however, were the well acquainted with the worthlessness of Courtenay; they seized Cleobury, and he was executed at Bury.

Elizabeth, justly alarmed at this pretence of her cognisance of this miserable attempt immediately on the heels of the other, wrote to Mary declaring her detestation of all such treasons, and wishing that "there were good surgeons for making anatomies of hearts," that the queen might see the clearness of hers from all such hateful designs. The queen and Council expressed their perfect assurance of Elizabeth's non-concern with these transactions, but Elizabeth was still so apprehensive of danger that she applied privately to the French ambassador to find means to convey her safely to France. The intriguing Noailles was now, however, gone, and his successor, the Bishop of Acqs, gave her honest advice, telling her to remain where she was, and on no account to quit the kingdom; for if her sister, the present queen, had, on the insurrection of Lady Jane Grey, gone over to Flanders, as some of her Mends advised her, she might have been there still.

But if Elizabeth was uneasy, Mary was still more so. The disquiets which surrounded her, and the wretched state of her health, made her very anxious for the return of her husband. She had lost her able minister, Gardiner, and his successor, Heath, Archbishop of York, by no means supplied his place. Mary, therefore, wrote long and repeated letters to urge the return of Philip, and, finding them unavailing, she dispatched Lord Paget to represent the urgent need of his presence in the kingdom. But Philip, besides his indifference, or rather repugnance, to his valetudinarian wife, was now occupied with causes of deep apprehension on the side of Italy. Cardinal Caraffa, a Neapolitan, was, from the rigour of the Spanish Government in his native country, a decided enemy of Spain. He was now elevated to the Popedom as Paul IV., and determined to exert all the influence of his position to liberate Naples from the yoke of Philip. For this purpose he fomented a spirit of disaffection in that country against the Spaniards, and prepared to assist the movement by an alliance with France, which should menace all Italy with a French invasion. But he had a subtle and daring enemy to contend with in the Duke of Alva, who soon after made himself so dreadfully famous by his relentless massacres of the Protestants in the Netherlands. About midsummer of 1556, the Pope discovered a private correspondence betwixt Garcilasso de la Vega, the ambassador of Philip at Rome, and the Duke of Alva, Viceroy of Naples, in which Garcilasso represented to Alva the defenceless state of the Roman territories, and how easily they might be seized by a Spanish army. Paul arrested Garcilasso; imprisoned and put to the torture de Tassis, the Postmaster General of Rome, for transmitting these letters; and ordered his officers to proceed against Philip for this breach of the feudal tenure by which he held Naples. But Alva was not a man to wait to be attacked, ho marched across the Papal frontiers, and carried terror and confusion through the ecclesiastical states. He advanced as far as Tivoli before the Pope would listen to any terms of accommodation. Paul then solicited an armistice, and the Spaniards would' soon have dictated a peace on their own terms, but the French, under the Duke of Guise, hastened over the Alps to his assistance, with 12,000 infantry, 400 men-at-arms, 700 light horse, and a great number of knights.

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Pictures for The Reign of Queen Mary page 13

Queen Mary I
Queen Mary I >>>>
The Crown of England offered to Lady Jane Grey.
The Crown of England offered to Lady Jane Grey. >>>>
Lady Jane Grey and Roger Ascham
Lady Jane Grey and Roger Ascham >>>>
Execution of the Duke of Northumberland on Tower Hill.
Execution of the Duke of Northumberland on Tower Hill. >>>>
Philip of Spain
Philip of Spain >>>>
Allington Castle
Allington Castle >>>>
Great Seal of Queen Mary
Great Seal of Queen Mary >>>>
Autograph of Queen Mary
Autograph of Queen Mary >>>>
Queen Mary in her Private Oratory
Queen Mary in her Private Oratory >>>>
Wyatt >>>>
Lady Jane Grey
Lady Jane Grey >>>>
Carving ascribed to John Dudley
Carving ascribed to John Dudley >>>>
Inscription cut by the Husband of Lady Jane Grey on the wall of his prison
Inscription cut by the Husband of Lady Jane Grey on the wall of his prison >>>>
The Princess Elizabeth
The Princess Elizabeth >>>>
Reception of the First Russian Embassy in England
Reception of the First Russian Embassy in England >>>>
Lord Guildford Dudleys room
Lord Guildford Dudleys room >>>>
The Burning of Archbishop Cranmer
The Burning of Archbishop Cranmer >>>>
The Recantation of Archbishop Cranmer
The Recantation of Archbishop Cranmer >>>>
Place of Execution, Smithfield
Place of Execution, Smithfield >>>>
Martyrs Stone at Hadleigh
Martyrs Stone at Hadleigh >>>>
Siege of Calais
Siege of Calais >>>>
Queen Elizabeth
Queen Elizabeth >>>>
Queen Elizabeth acknowledged by the Bishops
Queen Elizabeth acknowledged by the Bishops >>>>

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