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Elizabeth page 9


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As for the unhappy queen, she was equally involved by clergy and aristocracy. She was soon called upon for extensive favours by her ambitious brother, the Lord James, prior of St. Andrews. She created him Earl of Mar, and she further contemplated conferring on him the ancient earldom of Murray, which had been forfeited to the crown in the reign of James II. A great part of the property, however, of this earldom had been taken possession of by the Earl of Huntley, the head of the most powerful family in the north. Huntley had offered, if Mary would land in the Highlands, to conduct her to Edinburgh at the head of 20,000 men, and enable her to put down the whole body of Reformers. Mary had declined this offer, as the certain cause of a civil war, if accepted. Huntley, therefore, stood aloof from the present Government, and was especially hostile to the Earl of Mar, who was the leading person in it. Mar determined to break the power of this haughty chief, and thus wrest from him the lands he claimed for his new earldom. It did not require much persuasion on the part of Mary, who was anxious to advance her brother, to sanction this design of Mar; and the son of Huntley, Sir John Gordon, having committed some feudal outrage, was seized and imprisoned for a short term. This punishment was regarded as an indignity by the house of Gordon, and the symptoms of disaffection towards the Government were increased. Mary, therefore, took the field with her brother, the Lord James, and marched into the Highlands at the head of her troops. The Earl of Huntley, dismayed at this spirit in the young queen, who appeared to enjoy the excitement and the inconveniences of a campaign, hastened to make overtures of accommodation; and the matter would probably have been soon amicably arranged, but, unfortunately, a party of Huntley's vassals refused Mary and her staff entrance into the castle of Inverness, and made a show of holding it against her. They were, however, soon compelled to surrender, and the governor executed as a traitor. At this time, Sir John Gordon, escaping from his prison, new to arms, roused the vassals of the clan Gordon far and wide; and his father, seeing no longer any chance of accommodation, led his forces into the field. He advanced towards Aberdeen, and met Mar, who had now exchanged that title for the title of Earl of Murray, encamped on the hill of Fare, near Corrichie. There Murray, as an excellent soldier, defeated Huntley, who was killed on the field, or died soon after. His son, Sir John Gordon, was seized, and executed at Aberdeen, three days after the battle. Murray was thus placed in full possession of his title and new estate, and Mary, with so able and powerful a relative as her chief minister, appeared in a position to command obedience from her refractory subjects. But now a new danger menaced her from the rival queen of England, who was still bent on seeing Mary so married as to give her no additional power. Before, however, entering on this subject, we must take a view of Elizabeth's own proceedings during the period through which we have followed the fortunes of Mary of Scotland.

In the summer of this year, Elizabeth made one of those progresses in which she so much delighted, through Essex and Suffolk. In the course of this progress she complained much of the negligent performance of divine service by the clergy, and of their not wearing their surplices. What still more incensed her was the number of married clergy, and the number of children and wives in the cathedrals and colleges, which, she said, was contrary to the intention of the founders, and very disturbing to the studies of the students and clergy. Nothing excited her indignation so much as a married bishop; and, on her first visit to Parker, the Archbishop of Canterbury, though she had put the primate and his wife to enormous expense and trouble, she addressed Mrs. Parker, at parting, in these words: - "And you I - madam I may not call you, mistress I am ashamed to call you - but, howsoever, I thank you." Hearing that Pilkington, the Bishop of Durham, had given his daughter 10,000 as a marriage portion - as much as her father, King Henry, left her - she immediately deducted 1,000 a year from the revenue of his see, which she appropriated to the maintenance of the garrison at Berwick.

But marriage in any shape threw her into paroxysms of rage. On this progress, whilst at Ipswich, she learned that Lady Catherine Grey, a sister of the unfortunate Lady Jane Grey, who was one of her bedchamber ladies, was likely to become a mother. This news excited her extreme fury; but still greater was her wrath when, on inquiring of the young lady herself, she found that she was clandestinely married to the Earl of Hertford. Lady Catherine Grey was the eldest surviving daughter of Frances Brandon, Duchess of Suffolk, whose posterity was named by the will of Henry VIII. as the next successors to the throne, and, by the party opposed to the Queen of Scots, held to be the heirs presumptive. "With Elizabeth's terror of all successors, this discovery produced in her the most violent emotions. The Earl of Hertford, dreading her anger, had taken the precaution to retire to France. The remembrance of her own flirtations with the lord-admiral, the uncle of this young Lord Hertford, and the disgraceful disclosures brought before the Privy Council of Edward VI., about ten years before, had no effect in neutralising her resentment. She committed Lady Catherine to the Tower; and Cecil, writing to the Earl of Sussex - Cecil, who owed his first court favour to the Lord Protector, the father of this Lord Hertford - used the grossest terms regarding Lady Catherine, and then added, "She is committed to the Tower; he is sent for. She saith that she was married to him secretly before Christmas last."

Lady Catherine Grey, in her turn, appealed to Lord Robert Dudley, so soon to be Earl of Essex, the great favourite of Elizabeth, and brother to Lord Guildford Dudley, to intercede with Elizabeth on her behalf; but the heartless courtier refused, and Lady Catherine was conveyed to the Tower, where she was delivered of a son. When Lord Hertford returned on the Royal summons, he was also committed to the Tower, but to a separate apartment. By the connivance of Warner, the Lieutenant of the Tower, the unhappy husband and wife were permitted to visit each other - another child was born and Elizabeth then giving way to her rage, she discharged Warner from his office, fined the Earl of Hertford 15,000, for seducing, as she called it, a lady of the blood royal, and for breaking his prison to renew his offence. The sister of Hertford, Lady Jane Seymour, being dead, who was the sole witness to the marriage, Elizabeth declared it null and void, and the children illegitimate. Lady Catherine was kept in confinement till death released her, in 1567; and Lord Hertford, who had recovered his liberty, was again incarcerated for endeavouring to prove the legitimacy of his children.

This lawless and tyrannic conduct of Elizabeth, true daughter of Henry VIII,, caused much discontent; for the house of Suffolk had many adherents in opposition to the Scottish claim to the throne, but few dare speak out loudly. Those who did were severely punished. Hales, clerk of the Hanaper, was committed to the Tower for defending Lady Catherine's marriage, and her claim to the succession. Lord Keeper Bacon was visited with the resentment of his Royal mistress, on suspicion of inciting Hales to this task; and even Cecil was brought into jeopardy on the same ground, notwithstanding his apparent readiness to prosecute and malign the unfortunate victim of Elizabeth's jealousy. Nor did this arbitrary conduct of Elizabeth end here, In 1564, Lady Mary Grey, the remaining sister of Lady Catherine, perpetrated the like crime of marrying, and Elizabeth immediately committed her and her husband to separate prisons.

In the spring of 1562 Elizabeth became engaged in the support of the Huguenots, or Protestants of France, against their government, as she had supported the Covenanters of Scotland. After the failure of the conspiracy to surprise the court at Amboise, and the accession of Catherine de Medici to the regency, the heads of the party again flew to arms; but Catherine making concessions, in order to engage Conde, Coligny, and their party to assist her In counteracting the influence of the house of Guise, a treaty was entered into by which the Protestants were to be allowed free exercise of their religion. But the Duke of Guise becoming possessed of the person of the king, soon persuaded Catherine, his mother and regent, to infringe the conditions of the treaty. The Huguenots again rose in defence of their lives and principles, and no less than fourteen armies were soon on foot in one part or another of France. The Duke of Guise headed the Catholics; the Prince of Conde, Admiral Coligny, Andelot, and others, commanded the Huguenots. The Parliament of Paris issued an edict, authorising the Papists to massacre the Protestants wherever they found them; the Protestants retaliated with augmented fury, and carnage and violence prevailed throughout the devoted country. The Duke of Guise found himself so hard driven by the Protestants, in whose ranks the very women and children fought fiercely, that he entreated Philip of Spain to come to his aid. Philip gladly engaged in a work so congenial, his own Protestant subjects having had bloody experience of his bigotry, and sent into France 6,000 men, besides money. On this the Prince of Conde appealed to Elizabeth for support against the common enemies of their religion. To induce her to act promptly in their favour, he offered to put Havre-de-Grace immediately into her hands. Nowadays, in such a case, the English Government would take the public means of endeavouring by negotiation to induce its ally to concede their rights to its subjects. But Elizabeth took her favourite mode of privately aiding the discontented subjects of a power with whom she was at peace, against their sovereign. She made no overtures to Catherine de Medici, as queen-regent. She made no declaration of war, but dispatched Sir Henry Sidney, the father of the afterwards celebrated Sir Philip Sidney, ostensibly to mediate betwixt the Roman Catholics and Protestants, but really to enter into a compact with Conde. She was to furnish him with 100,000 crowns, and to send over 6,000 men, under Sir Edward Poynings, to take possession of the forts of Havre and Dieppe.

On the 3rd of October a fleet carried over the stipulated force, took possession of the ports, and Ambrose Dudley, Earl of Warwick, the brother of the favourite, Lord Robert Dudley, was made commander-in-chief of the English army in France. The French ambassador, with the treaty of Gateau Cambresis in his hand, demanded the cause of the infringement of the thirteenth article of this treaty, and reminded the queen that, by proceeding to hostilities, she would at once forfeit all claim to Calais at the expiration of the prescribed period. Elizabeth replied that she was in arms, in fact, on behalf of the King of France, who was a prisoner in the hands of Guise; and when the ambassador required her, in the name of his sovereign, to withdraw her troops, she refused to believe that the demand came from the king, because he was not a free agent, and that it was the duty of Charles IX. to protect his oppressed subjects, and to thank a friendly power for endeavouring to assist him in that object.

But these sophisms deceived nobody. The nobility of France regarded Guise, who had driven the English out of France by the capture of Calais, as the real defender of the country; and Conde, who had brought them in again by the surrender of Havre and Dieppe, was considered a traitor. Numbers flocked to the standard of Guise and the queen-regent, who were joined by the King of Navarre. The Royal army, with Charles in person, besieged Rouen, to which Poynings, the English commander at Havre, sent a reinforcement. The governor of the city defended it obstinately against this formidable combination, and the Englishmen, mounting a breach which was made, fought till their last man fell. Two hundred of them thus perished, and the French, rushing in over their dead bodies, pillaged the place for eight days with every circumstance of atrocity.

The fall of Rouen and the massacre of a detachment of her troops was news that no one dared to communicate to Elizabeth. The ministers induced her favourite, Lord Robert Dudley, to undertake the unwelcome task; but even he dared only at first to hint to her that a rumour of defeat was afloat. When at length he disclosed the truth, Elizabeth blamed nobody but herself, confessing that it was her own reluctance to send sufficient force which had caused it all. She determined to send fresh reinforcements; commissioned Count Oldenburg to raise 12,000 men in Germany, and ordered public prayers for three days in succession for a blessing on her arms in favour of the Gospel.

Conde, who had been engaged near Orleans, on the arrival of 6,000 mercenaries from. Germany, advanced to wards Paris; and at Dreux, on the banks of the Dure, where the Duke of Guise achieved a victory over the Huguenots, Conde and Montmorency, a leader of each party, were taken prisoners; and Coligny, who now became the chief Huguenot general, fell back on Orleans, and sent pressing entreaties to Elizabeth for the supplies which she was bound by the treaty to furnish. The English queen, never fond of parting with her money, had at this crisis none in her exchequer. But money must be forthcoming, or the cause of Protestantism must fail through her bad faith. The German mercenaries were clamorous for their pay, none of which they had received, and the representations of Coligny were so urgent, that Elizabeth was compelled to summon a Parliament, and ask for supplies.

Parliament met on the 13th of February, 1563; but as Elizabeth had just had a dangerous attack of small-pox, in which her life had been despaired of, the Commons immediately presented to her an address, praying her to set the mind of the country at rest as to the succession, by choosing a husband, or by naming her heir. To get rid of this awkward dilemma, she saw herself required to name the Queen of Scots, or the Lady Catherine Grey, whom she had imprisoned, and whose children she had bastardised, as her successor. This t-he was resolved not to do; but, as she had now the Duke of Wurttemberg as a fresh admirer, she preferred thinking of a husband. Parliament not being able to get from her anything more decisive, consented to vote her a subsidy upon land, and two-tenths and fifteenths upon movables. She called for it, on the plea of defending her throne against the Papists of Prance, as she had before defended it from those of Scotland, who, if they could succeed in putting down the Protestants, contemplated designs dangerous to Protestant England.

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