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Elizabeth page 6

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France, on the one side, and England on the other, were now in active rivalry for the ascendancy in Scotland. The Sieur de Bettancourt arrived from the French court in the beginning of August with assurances of the speedy transmission of an army under the Marquis d'Elboeuf, and with letters to the Lord James, calling on him, by the benefits which he had received from France, to prove himself a faithful subject to his sister and queen. Towards the end of August, 1,000 men, under an Italian officer named Octavian, landed at Leith, and with these the queen-regent put that port into a tolerable state of defence; but at the same time she sent urgent despatches to France for four ships of war to cruise in the Frith, for an additional 1,000 men, and 100 barbed horse. She did not obtain all she wanted, but La Brosse arrived on the 22nd of September, with three ships, 200 men, and eighty horse. With these came the Bishop of Amiens and two learned doctors of the Sorbonne, to endeavour to reconcile the people to the ancient faith.

This was the most hopeless of missions. The people of Scotland had long grown weary of the French, and suspicious of their designs on the independence of the country. The reformed preachers had perambulated the country, exposing the corruptions of the Papal Church, and exciting indignation against the queen-regent for her bigoted attempts to put down the Reformation, for her decided leaning to French interests, and her perfidious and repeated breaches of her contracts with the Lords of the Congregation. This arrival of fresh forces confirmed all their charges, and inspired the population with augmented jealousy of France.

No sooner was the arrival of Arran known, than it produced the highest enthusiasm in the Protestant party. He was regarded as the destined husband of the English queen; and the expectation of the influence which this circumstance would give his party with England, together with the encouragement of the £2,000 just received, raised the spirits of the Congregation to the highest pitch. They accused the queen-regent of two breaches of the capitulation of Edinburgh, by celebrating mass in Holyrood House, and receiving fresh troops from France, and they sent her a message requiring her to desist from the fortification of Leith. The queen-regent bluntly refused, declaring that she was as determined as she was able to maintain the power and interests of her daughter, their sovereign.

Hereupon the Congregation prepared for direct hostilities. The Duke of Chatelherault came over to them; and a commission was issued to Glencairn and Erskine of Dun, to proceed with the purgation of the religious houses. The abbeys of Paisley, Kilwinning, and Dunfermline were accordingly suppressed by them. Sir Thomas Randall, or Randolph, who had become acquainted with Arran at Geneva, was secretly dispatched by Cecil to Hamilton, to co-operate with the Scottish I Reformers, affording them a direct means of counsel and i communion through him with the English court. Thus was Elizabeth in full and active connection with the I insurgent subjects of the queen whose kingdom she was bound by solemn treaty not to interfere with or prejudice in any way; but perhaps she was not destitute of excuse, in the fact that the French court was equally labouring, through the sides of Scotland, to penetrate her realm. The chain of intelligence betwixt the English court and all that was going on in the Scottish one, was rendered complete by Maitland of Lethington, the secretary to the queen-regent, becoming the secret ally of the Congregation, and betraying all the councils and the most private designs of the Scottish Government to the Reformers.

On the loth of October the Congregation assembled its forces, 12,000 in number, and marched on Edinburgh, which they occupied without resistance, the queen-regent retiring before them to Leith. They established a council for civic affairs, consisting of Chatelherault, Arran, Argyll, Glencairn, the Lord James, Balnaves, Kirkaldy, and others, and another for religious affairs, under Knox, Goodman, and the Bishop of Galloway. They sent a message to the queen-regent, requiring her to order all foreigners and men-at-arms to quit the town, and leave it to the subjects of the realm. Mary of Guiso replied that the French were naturalised subjects, and Scotland united to France by marriage; and she, in her turn, commanded the Duke of Chatelherault and his associates to quit the capital, on pain of treason.

The council returned answer that, as an oppressor and an idolatress, they suspended her authority as a council of born subjects for the queen, on the ground that she was acting contrary to the will and interest of the sovereign.

On the 28th the Covenanters prepared for an assault on Leith, by constructing scaling-ladders in the High Church of St. Giles, to the great scandal of the preachers, who prognosticated that proceedings begun in sacrilege* would end in defeat. This very soon appeared likely to be the result, for the money sent from England being exhausted, the soldiers clamoured for pay, and the army of 12,000 was on the verge of melting away very rapidly. In great alarm, the leaders vehemently entreated Elizabeth for more money, and making a struggle with her natural parsimony, she sent £4,000 to Cockburn of Ormiston, who undertook the perilous office of conveying it to head-quarters. But a man who afterwards became notorious for the audacity of his crimes, the Earl of Bothwell, who now professed to be a zealous supporter of the Congregation, and had by this means obtained the knowledge of the transmission of the treasure, waylaid Cockburn, and carried off the money. This was a severe blow to the Congregation, and was speedily followed by another. Haliburton, provost of Dundee, had led a party of Reformers to attack Leith. He had planted his heavy artillery on an eminence near Holyrood; but whilst the majority of the leaders were attending a sermon, the French attacked the battery, and drove the Reformers back into the city with great slaughter. The queen-regent, sitting on the ramparts of Leith, hailed the victorious soldiers returning from the massacre of her subjects, and thus gave mortal offence.

On the 5th of November the French sailed from Leith to intercept a convoy of provisions for the relief of Edinburgh. They were attacked by the Lord James and Arran, who, getting into difficult ground, were defeated in the morasses of Restalrig with great slaughter. Haliburton of Dundee was killed; Arran and the Lord James escaped into the city, where Knox summoned them to hear the "promises of God;" but though the royalists had returned to Leith, the eloquence of Knox failed to inspire confidence, a sudden panic spread through the city, and the Reformers, abandoning Knox in his pulpit, fled. The road to Linlithgow was crowded before midnight with fugitives, and the darkness adding to their terror, in the belief that the French were pursuing them, they never stopped till they reached Stirling, thirty miles off.

When the Scottish fugitives arrived at Stirling, and the emptiness of their terrors became fully known, they were, both leaders and people, covered with confusion. Knox, however, undertook to restore them to their usual confidence by finishing there the sermon which they had broken off so suddenly at Edinburgh. He asked why had the army of God fled before the uncircumcised Philistines; and he answered his own question by asserting that they had been suffered to fall through the avarice of one leader, the lewdness of another, and the vain-glory and presumption of a third. He bade them repent and return sincerely to the Lord, and the tribes of Israel should yet triumph over the recreant sons of Benjamin. Thus he raised the spirits of the Protestants by his fiery eloquence, in the very act of soundly castigating them.

Meantime, the queen-regent entered Edinburgh in triumph; fortunately, however, the failure of the Reformers did not cool the zeal of their English friends. The struggle was considered not so much with the Scotch Government as with France; and Sadler urged on Cecil to supply the insurgents with more money, for so long, he observed, as they kept the French engaged there, they would have less leisure to turn their designs on England. The Lords of the Congregation, thus reanimated by the sermons of Knox and the promises of Cecil, mustered fresh forces at Stirling; but again they were defeated, and Stirling taken by a detachment from the queen-regent's army at Leith. The royalist forces then invaded Fifeshire, burning and laying waste the lands of the Covenanters. Kinghorn, Kirkaldy, and Dysart were sacked, and the troops of Arran and the Lord James were compelled to retire before the superior forces of the enemy. "With the in tensest anxiety did they expect the promised succours from England: the royalists were now in full march for St. Andrews, over which inevitable destruction seemed to hover, when, on rounding the promontory of Kingcraig, the little army of Arran following at a distance, watching their motions, a fleet was descried in the offing. Each army gazed in terror and expectation, the royalists hoping it might be the French fleet bringing the troops of D'Elboeuf, the Reformers that it might be the English succours. It proved to be the latter. Three small vessels of the queen-regent were soon captured, and the fleet directed its guns against her army. It was obliged to make instant retreat.

This was a direct and open infraction of the peace betwixt England, Scotland, and France. Noailles made a formal complaint at the English court of this violation of the treaty; but it was. pretended that Winter, the English admiral, had only acted in self-defence; that he had been sent to convoy a fleet of victuallers to Berwick, but had been driven by stress of weather into the Frith of Forth; that there the batteries of Leith, Bruntisland, and Inchkeith had fired upon him, and obliged him to return the fire in self-defence. The story, though solemnly supported in the form of a despatch from the Duke of Norfolk, who was residing on the borders as the queen's lieutenant, was too flimsy and barefaced to bear a moment's scrutiny; and, to appease the clamour of the French ambassador, an inquiry into Winter's conduct was set on foot, which, like many such inquiries, was never meant to go very deep; but it answered its purpose by keeping up an appearance of investigation, till the Duke of Norfolk had completed a treaty at Berwick with the Lords of the Congregation, by which Elizabeth bound herself to aid them with an army to expel the French from Scotland.

Elizabeth's excuse for entering into a formal treaty with the subjects of another monarch with whom she was at peace, was, that she knew the French were directing their power in Scotland to an ulterior attack on her own kingdom; and on this plea Cecil is accused of not only inciting conspiracy in Scotland, but also in France, by arming the princes of the blood and the Reformers against their sovereign, Francis II. For this purpose, Throckmorton was sent over to the King of Navarre, a favourer of the Protestant cause. Throckmorton bore secret offers of alliance and support against his enemies, and the enemies of the true religion, from the Queen of England. The fact was that Elizabeth was aware that Antoine, the King of Navarre, and Louis, Prince of Conde, were jealous of the preference given by Francis to the Duke of Guise and the cardinal of Lorraine, the uncles of his queen, brothers of the queen-regent of Scotland. They were placed at the head of affairs, and, as the determined champions of Popery, were doubly odious to Navarre and his adherents. Accordingly, haying the secret countenance of the Queen of England and other Protestant princes, Navarre, Conde, Coligny, admiral of Prance, D'Andelot, colonel of the French infantry, and the cardinal of Chatillon, nephews of the constable Montmorency, united in a plot to seize the king and queen, the cardinal, and the Duke of Guise, and place the government in the hands of the princes of the blood.

At this moment the Duke of Norfolk received his orders to conclude the treaty with the Scottish lords at Berwick. The French ambassadors, rather than proceed to extremities, offered to withdraw the bulk of their troops from Scotland, and submit the points in dispute to the decision of Elizabeth herself. It is said that they even offered to restore Calais, and that Elizabeth replied that she could never place a fishing village in competition with the security of her dominions at large. This, however, is by no means probable, for we soon find Elizabeth herself demanding Calais as a condition of peace, and it is not to be supposed that she would not have at least deferred her plans against Scotland for the much-desired repossession of that town.

Whilst these negotiations were proceeding, the conspiracy of the French princes was defeated at Amboise through the sagacity of the Duke of Guise, and Elizabeth rather hesitated in completing her treaty with the Scots; but her Council urged her to advance, alleging that France was still on the eve of a civil war, and that she would, by backing out, lose a golden opportunity of driving the French from Scotland.

On the 27th of February, 1560, the treaty was concluded at Berwick, and in the month of March the English fleet appeared in the Forth in greater strength. D'Oyselles, the French general, managed to effect his retreat from Fife, and threw himself into Leith, where he resolved to defend himself. The queen-regent, who was lying there worn out by her continual struggles for the maintenance of her daughter's throne and religion, removed, by the permission, of Lord Erskine, the governor, to the castle of Edinburgh, as unable to endure the hardships and anxieties of a besieged town. On the other hand, the Duke of Norfolk had collected an army of 6,000 men in the northern counties of England, and sent it, under the command of Lord Gray de Wilton, into Scotland by land. Lord Gray marched from Berwick to Preston, where he joined the forces of the Lords of the Congregation; and whilst Winter's fleet blockaded Leith by sea, the united army invested it on the land side. It was soon known, that the fleet of the Marquis d’Elboeuf had been dispersed by a tempest, and partly wrecked on the coast of Holland, so that the English and their allies had little to fear from the arrival of fresh enemies.

The siege was carried on against Leith in a manner little creditable to the ancient fame of the English; as for the Scots, Sadler said, "they could climb no walls;" that is, they were not famous for conducting sieges and taking towns by assault. The English, who had acquired great fame in that kind of warfare, now seemed to have forgotten their skill, though they had lost none of their courage. Their lines of circumvallation were ill-drawn; their guns were ill-directed, their trenches were opened in ground unfit for the purpose, and they were repeatedly thrown into disorder by sorties of the enemy. To make matters worse, the supplies of the Scots became exhausted, and they began to make their usual cries to the English for more money. But from the English court came, instead of the all-needful money, signs of discouragement. Elizabeth still maintained her equivocal conduct, and the Lords of the Congregation were greatly alarmed to find her actually negotiating with the sick queen-regent for an accommodation. At the very time that the Scotch and the English were engaged in a smart action at Hawkhill, near Lochend, during the siege, Sir James Croft and Sir George Howard were with the dying Mary of Guise in the castle of Edinburgh. Elizabeth still declared that she was not fighting against Francis and Mary, the king and queen of France and Scotland, but against their ministers in the latter country, and simply for the defence of her own realm against their attempts. She desired Sir Ralph Sadler to express her willingness to treat, and to make it clear that she was no party to any design to injure or depose the rightful queen. What she aimed at was the expulsion of the French from Scotland as dangerous to her own dominions, and he was instructed, if the old plea was raised, that the French only remained there to maintain the throne of their mistress against disaffected subjects, to state that his sovereign would not admit this plea, as it was only a pretence, and would not lay down her arms till the Queen of Scots was also secured in her just power and claims.

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