Fra Paolo Sarpi, in his lively History of the Council of Trent, (fn. 1) relates with much circumstantial detail, how Queen Elizabeth of England, immediately upon her accession to the throne, made overtures to Pope Paul IV for reconciliation with the Holy See, and how they were summarily rejected by the haughty Pontiff on the ground of the Queen's illegitimacy. Later writers, including Pallavicino and Muratori, repeated Sarpi's story, which in consequence, though discredited by Lingard and recently by F. W. Maitland and Dr. Pastor, still in all probability maintains its hold on popular belief.
The story may, however, now be pronounced to be not only without solid foundation, but in diametrical opposition to the historic fact. Not only is there no evidence that Elizabeth sent to Sir Edward Carne—Mary's ambassador at the Holy See, who, though not immediately recalled, was not re-accredited—instructions to sound the Pope in the sense alleged, but there is good reason to suppose that, had she done so, she would not have encountered a rebuff.
From the second excerpt from the Papal Diary, printed on p. 1 infra, it appears that the French party urged the Pope to pronounce Elizabeth illegitimate; and though his answer is not recorded, it is manifest from a letter of Sir Edward Carne to the Queen, printed long ago in the Burghley State Papers (Haynes), p. 245, (fn. 2) that he had no intention whatever of doing so.
Recapitulating what he had written in previous letters, Carne reports on 16 February, 1559: “That the French here can obtain nothing at his Holiness' hands against your Majesty, and that his Holiness hath such respect to your Majesty and to your realms, that he will attempt nothing against you or your realms, unless the occasion be given first therehence, as I am credibly informed. One of the Cardinals that is greatest with his Holiness showed me that he and other that be chief with his Holiness do mind to move his Holiness to send his nuncio to your Majesty thither, but that they stay till your Majesty doth send hither first to his Holiness, whereof I thought good to advertise your Majesty of.”
This letter would seem to have been at least semi-inspired, for it is scarcely credible that Carne would have so written at such a time unless he had good reason to believe that the Pope was disposed to be conciliatory. Elizabeth, however, was committed to an intransigent attitude, and the mandate recalling Carne was already despatched (4 February). Upon its presentation to the Pope (21 March), he was much mortified. He would not hear of Carne's departure; he arrested him as a hostage and appointed him Warden of the English Hospital, in which position he contentedly spent the rest of his days (Cal. State Papers, Foreign, 1558–59, Nos. 474, 492).
That Pope Paul regarded Elizabeth as illegitimate is not to be doubted; and had he deemed it expedient, he was certainly not the man to shrink from giving effect to his view. But he had to reckon with the Catholic King, who was a suitor for the Queen's hand, and he was by no means disposed to offend the Catholic King. He had tried a spirited policy in alliance with France, and it had proved disastrous to him. The success of the Spanish arms had been so signal, alike in the Papal States and on the borders of Flanders, that French influence now counted for nothing, or perhaps for worse than nothing in the councils of the Vatican. Nor had Philip in the hour of his triumph forgotten what was due from the Catholic King to the Vicar of Christ; and the Pope had duly appreciated his magnanimity. It was, therefore, in vain that Henry II, jealous of the further aggrandizement which the English match would bring to Spain, pressed for the declaration of illegitimacy; and it may reasonably be supposed that, had Philip's proposal been accepted by Elizabeth, the resources of the Canonists would, despite Clement VII's embarrassing pronouncement, have proved adequate to the occasion. Indeed, that the Catholic world at large was far from regarding Elizabeth's alleged illegitimacy as a serious obstacle to matrimony is evident from the subsequent Austrian and French affairs.
The responsibility for the continuance of the schism rests, therefore, not with the Papacy, but with the Queen of England and her advisers. A Spanish match was too exorbitant a price to pay for reconciliation with the Holy See; and so serenely, if not light-heartedly, the spirited Queen flung down her gauntlet to Pope and Catholic King at once (March 1559).
Notwithstanding his dismissal, Philip cherished hopes of friendship with Elizabeth, and manifested no little solicitude that the Pope should refrain from the declaration of illegitimacy. In her refusal of the title of Supreme Head of the Church he saw, or affected to see, a further reason against making the fatal pronouncement, and took care to let his anxiety be known to the Pope and the Count of Feria. This action may have been partly prompted by jealousy of France (p. 9, infra (fn. 3) ). But, however this may be, the King's apprehensions show that Sarpi's story, though false in fact, had in it an element of ideal truth; was, in short, a myth representing as done what the hasty Pontiff probably would have done but for the restraining influence of the politic King. The waiver of the title of Supreme Head of the Church was, of course, immaterial, the supremacy, though not assumed in form, being secured in substance as a constitutional supremacy by the statute, 1 Elizabeth, c. 1. The waiver was, however, very politic, as the Catholic potentates were slow to realise that all that was of importance was retained.
The match (April, 1558) between the Dauphin Francis and Mary, daughter of James V of Scotland by Mary of Guise, had opened a vista of eventual French ascendency not only in Scotland but in England, which certainly could by no means be agreeable to Philip of Spain. The first step towards such ascendency was, indeed, taken by the formulation of a scheme concerted between Henry II of France and the King and Queen Dauphiness for the reduction of Scotland to the unity of the Church, to which Pope Paul IV was solicited to give effect by granting to Nicholas de Pellevé, Bishop of Amiens, the faculties specified in the documents printed on pp. 11–14 infra. Pope Paul, however, was in no hurry to move in the matter, and at his death, 18 August, 1559, the desired bull of faculties had not been granted. There can be little doubt that his inaction was due to the same cause which had withheld him from pronouncing Queen Elizabeth illegitimate, i.e., dread of offending the Catholic King. Not, indeed, that Philip was averse to the recovery of Scotland by the Church, but that he would hardly have been well pleased that its recovery should have been effected by French influence, to the inevitable strengthening of the political power of France in Scotland, and, in the not improbable event of the succession of the Queen Dauphiness to the throne of England, in that country likewise.
Pope Paul's successor, Pius IV, was more independent and less prudent. Soon after his consecration he issued the bull (fn. 4) with all the amplitude that could be desired. Pellevé, however, found his mission frustrated by the energetic action taken by Queen Elizabeth in Leith Roads in the spring of 1560, and the strict neutrality observed by King Philip (pp. 17, 18, infra). The Bishop, therefore, returned to France.
The death of the Queen Mother, Mary of Guise, which occurred during the operations, was a severe blow to the Catholic cause; and the Capitulation of Leith, which should rather be called the Peace of Edinburgh, prohibited the use of the royal style and arms of England by the sovereigns of Scotland, severely restricted the selection by the Queen of her ministers, and provided for a general amnesty, and immediate redress of grievances of the deprived clergy (Burghley State Papers, (Haynes) p. 354; Rymer, Fœdera, vol. xv. p. 593). In July 1561, Queen Mary, then in France, was pressed by Throckmorton to ratify the Peace, but stoutly refused, and returned to Scotland, a widow, to lead almost unaided the forlorn hope of the Catholic Church in that country. Such was the sequel of Pope Pius IV's more sanguine than judicious endeavour to reduce Scotland to the Catholic faith and the unity of the Church.
To return to King Philip: it was also in all likelihood antagonism to France rather than regard for Queen Elizabeth that prompted the remonstrances by which he induced Pope Pius IV to annul the appointment which he had incautiously made of Abbot Parpaglia (fn. 5) as nuncio to sound the Queen's mind as to reconciliation with the Holy See, the abbot being under French influence, and therefore conceivably the bearer of some other commission, which might not be altogether to Philip's advantage (pp. 24, 27 infra. Cf. Cal. State Papers, Foreign, 1560–1, Nos. 224, 507, 815, and Kervyn de Lettenhove, Relations Politiques (Acad. Roy. de Belgique), vol. ii. pp. 440–1).
Nevertheless policy, and Philip was nothing if not politic, rendered it eminently desirable that the ruler of the Netherlands—he had, as the saying went, his shoulders far from secure—should be so long as reasonably possible on good terms with the Queen of England, who, practically invulnerable herself, possessed the means (by merely fomenting disaffection and encouraging privateering) of wounding him as much as she pleased without declaring war. The apparent cordiality of the long-suffering King's relations with her caused him for many years to be credited at the Vatican with wielding more influence with her than any other potentate. If so, it may reasonably be doubted whether any other potentate possessed any influence whatever with the self-willed Queen.
As to the question of the reunion of Christendom, the consideration of which, after the lapse of nearly a decade, it was now proposed to resume at Trent, Elizabeth's policy was determined by the same broad views which more or less swayed the counsels of France and of the Empire. Pope Pius IV's bull intimating the Council was couched in terms of apparently studied ambiguity, so as to leave undetermined the important question whether the Council was to be a new Council or a mere continuation of the former Council of Trent, which had been suspended since April, 1552. (fn. 6) That Council had dealt with the authority of Holy Scripture and tradition, and the doctrines of original sin, justification and the sacraments; and had of course liberally censured the tenets of the Protestants. The decrees of such a Council nations like England, which had not been parties to it, could not reasonably be expected to endorse without review. If therefore the Council which was now to assemble at Trent was to be a mere continuation of its predecessor, and as such bound by all that it had decided, it was manifestly impossible for England to recognise it. Pope Pius IV's bull wore indeed the appearance of a somewhat clumsy trap to catch unwary Protestants; and Elizabeth accordingly refused the Papal nuncio, Martinengo, admission to the kingdom on the grounds, reported by Commendone, that she had not been consulted as to the summoning of the Council, as other Princes had been, and that the Council was not free (p. 37 infra); by which she evidently meant to intimate that she required an express assurance that the Council would not be restricted to the task of completing the work of the prior Council, but would be at liberty to discuss all questions de novo … and that in default of such an assurance she could not send prelates to the Council, or recognise it in any way whatever. Her example was followed by Denmark, and in effect, though not in form, by Sweden and the Protestant States generally (pp. 40, 42, 43, 48, 52, infra). A first refusal on the Queen's part had evidently been anticipated by the Pope; nor was he disposed to acquiesce in it; for in the summer of 1561 he gave the Cardinal of Ferrara, his legate to France, plenary authority to negotiate with the Queen of England the reconciliation of herself and her realm with the Holy See. (fn. 7)
Nor in all probability could the Pope have chosen a better instrument. Undismayed by the almost superhuman difficulty of the enterprise, the Cardinal, despite every discouragement, persisted in his Herculean labour, though several months elapsed before he was able so much as to report that the negotiation was initiated (p. 73, infra). The main thing, of course, was to persuade the Queen to send prelates to Trent, and in regard to this matter the legate early in 1562 was able to hold out some slight hope that she would be guided by the Queen Mother of France (p. 75, infra). Thereupon the Pope accredited him both to Elizabeth and the Queen of Scots, but being naturally very suspicious of Elizabeth and apprehensive of another and more decided rebuff, intimated that no use was to be made of the credentials to her until success should be virtually assured (p. 77, infra). (fn. 8)
Elizabeth, however, was still in no hurry to commit herself. She was slow to answer the Cardinal's letters (p. 79, infra), and eventually suggested through her ambassador at Paris a prorogation of the Council, which was taken to imply that she was not disposed to send prelates to Trent unless the other Protestant Princes did so likewise. Both the Queen Mother and the Cardinal of Lorraine deemed the suggestion reasonable, considering that a trifling delay, a month perhaps at the most, would be more than compensated by the obvious and signal advantage which the Papacy would reap by leaving the Queen of England without excuse if she neglected to avail herself of it; and in this view the legate was disposed to concur (pp. 79–80, infra. Cf. Cal. State Papers, Foreign, 1561–2, p. 604).
The case for the prorogation was argued at Trent by the French envoys de Lansac and du Ferrier on the broad and obvious ground that “it was necessary to allow time for the nations to assemble, so that the Council might be universal”; and that if the Queen of England sent her prelates, the Kings of Denmark and Sweden, the Elector of Saxony and the Duke of Württemberg would doubtless follow suit. De Lansac therefore urged that the legates should write to Elizabeth in the name of the Council, taking note of her expressed intention of sending prelates and ambassadors to the Council, praying her to give effect to it without delay, and assuring her that she would “find the Council free and with no other thought or object than a good reformation of united Christendom” (pp. 83–84, infra). This proposal was made on 21 May, 1562, and was forthwith communicated by the legates to Cardinal Borromeo. But the Pope's mind was by this time completely made up in a sense adverse to the idea. Borromeo therefore replied (27 May), “that his Holiness is of opinion that on no account whatever should these delays be allowed, and that, to get quit once and for all of ambiguity and dispute, the continuation be expressly made in this first Session of the 4th of June, and that you enter seriously upon the business that remains in the manner already prescribed by his Holiness” (p. 87, infra).
Nevertheless, the proposal to declare the continuation, and thereby exclude all matters in which Protestants were especially interested, was defeated by a coalition between the French and Imperial ambassadors, in face of which the Legates hesitated to act without further instructions from Rome, whereat the Pope was so alarmed that in hot haste he waived the express declaration while adhering to the policy which it represented, and which in effect prevailed (pp. 89–90, infra).
Thus the idea, if ever seriously entertained at Rome, of endeavouring by means of the Council to promote the reunion of Christendom was, as soon as the opportunity of realising it presented itself, definitively abandoned; to the abundant justification of the suspicion with which Elizabeth had from the first regarded the Council. Had the larger policy prevailed, there would at any rate have been a chance of moderating, if not stemming, the disruptive trend which has made schism the most characteristic feature of the Christianity of the West; the Roman Curia might not have been committed to an absolutely intransigent policy, less butchery might have been done in the Netherlands, Germany might have been spared the Thirty Years' War, and the Latin nations the violent convulsions through which they have tardily won their way to freedom.
Of the fatal policy which thus triumphed, Philip of Spain was, if not the inspirer, at any rate the most uncompromising champion. He appeals to have disapproved the ambiguity of the bull by which the Council had been convened, deeming that its scope should have been expressly limited to the continuation of the work of its predecessor. (fn. 9) An honest bigot, and unversed in speculative questions, he naturally regarded heresy as a heinous offence against God, meriting the severest punishment; the autocrat of a heterogeneous empire, he could not but view with apprehension the spirit of independence which the free discussion of religious questions evinces and fosters; while as ruler of the Netherlands he naturally regarded the suppression of the various heresies of the age as a work of paramount and immediate importance, and the Council as mainly valuable as subserving that end. The Emperor, on the other hand, was in favour of a reasonable extension of the scope of the Council, but did not press the point with much energy. France, thus isolated, gave up the contest, and loyally co-operated in the work of practical reformation; which in consequence proceeded with such regularity and despatch that by the close of 1563 little remained to be done but to solicit the Papal confirmation of the Decrees. This was accorded on 26 January, 1564; and the prelates then dispersed.
England was represented at Trent by Thomas Goldwell, Bishop of St. Asaph, Ireland by the Bishops of Achonry and Ross and Raphoe, all three in a state of total destitution. The Queen of Scots found it impossible to send either bishop or ambassador to the Council (pp. 38, 51, 81, 114–18, 124, 128, infra).
The restoration of Protestantism in England was effected with the relentless rigour which the gravity of the crisis demanded; and the Catholics, gentle and simple, learned and unschooled, laity and clergy, without distinction of rank, social or hierarchical, showed exemplary constancy, stedfastly refusing the oath of supremacy and suffering and dying with a fidelity and fortitude worthy of their religion and their race (pp. 23, 59–70, infra).
Among the prelates there did indeed seem to be one recreant, Antony Kitchin, Bishop of Llandaff, but the validity of his orders was already questioned by Catholics on the ground that he had not sought their confirmation by the Holy See on the accession of Queen Mary. The Catholic exiles therefore readily accepted the report that Kitchin had not only “yielded to schism,” but had consecrated “pseudo-bishops outside the Church.” Indeed, he was even believed to have consecrated “all those schismatic and heretical bishops whom the Queen appointed of her own authority” (pp. 64, 70, infra).
The refugees included the aged sister of Fisher, the martyred Bishop of Rochester, a nun who with eight companions found asylum in a monastery in Zealand, where she seems to have been visited by the Nuncio Parpaglia shortly before he started on his return journey to Italy. He describes the community as very poor and the situation of the house as insalubrious. The women had but a yearly allowance of 20 crowns each from the Catholic King, which the nuncio supplemented from a largesse of 500 crowns bestowed by Cardinal Moroni. The Catholic King's dole, it seems, was irregularly paid owing to scarcity of money. This office of charity appears to have been the sole result of Parpaglia's sojourn in the Netherlands (pp. 27, 66, infra). Other refugees were the Countess of Feria, who, after some sojourn at Louvain, joined her husband in Spain, Sir Francis Englefield, and Sir Richard Shelley, Tricoplier of the English Knights of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. Englefield established a community of English Catholics, the germ of the future seminary, at Louvain, where he apparently resided, though we come across him at Madrid in 1568 (pp. 60, 68, 70, 277, 378, 409).
Shelley was the meteor among the Catholic exiles. We trace him now in Spain, Taster to the King, now on his way to Malta, craving at Rome the Pope's patronage for the English Catholics settled there and at Louvain (1561), at Rome again (1566) exhorting the Pope to address himself in earnest to the conversion of England, and, finally, on his way to Rome, doubtless from Lepanto, in October, 1571 (pp. 36, 60, 185, 190, 468, infra). He would seem to have been a person of more zeal and valour than discretion.
As tidings of the strong measures adopted in England against Catholic recusants reached Rome and Trent, the question began to be mooted, both at the Vatican and in the Council, whether the time were not come to launch against the Queen the weightiest missile in the Papal armoury, the bull of excommunication and deprivation. On abstract grounds the case was clear enough. By the Act of Supremacy, recently reinforced by the Act of Assurance (5 Elizabeth, c. 1), Elizabeth had in effect usurped an authority which all good Catholics could not but hold to belong of right to the Pope alone, and of the authority thus usurped she was making ruthless and relentless use. In these circumstances, could the Pope consistently with his position and prerogative acquiesce in such an usurpation? So regarded, the question appeared to admit of but one answer. The time was come to excommunicate the Queen, and release her subjects from their oath of allegiance.
But in practical, and especially in political, affairs abstract considerations have little or no validity. The substantial question at issue was whether the excommunication was expedient or no, a question as to which secular potentates were exceptionally well able to form a sound judgment, and therefore entitled to a hearing, and to careful consideration of their advice; and it so happened that from them no approval of the proposed excommunication was to be had. The Emperor condemned it not only with decision, but, it would seem, with vehemence on the ground that forms of words counted for nothing, that all Protestant Princes had in substance, though not in form, erred in like manner as Elizabeth, and that the sole effect of her excommunication would be to cement their union and exasperate them yet further against their Catholic subjects. The Catholic King was not, it would seem, consulted, as his views on the subject were too well known at the Vatican to make it desirable to elicit their expression; and the Cardinal of Granvelle, as soon as he heard that the matter was being mooted, wrote strongly deprecating action without Philip's express sanction, and gave it as his own opinion that in any event the sole effect of the excommunication would be to worsen the condition of the English Catholics (pp. 132, 135, 137–39, infra.)
Philip and Ferdinand were doubtless actuated in some degree by fellow feeling, instinctive reluctance to authorize so extreme a measure against one of their own order; for great houses have long memories, and Canossa cannot have been forgotten either at Vienna or at Madrid. But the Pope had the good sense to give heed to their advice; and the thunderbolt was laid aside for a less prudent Pontiff to launch on the sly.
Elizabeth's decisive refusal of the very moderate measure of toleration subsequently solicited by the Emperor for her Catholic subjects, “the use of at least one church in every city in which without molestation or hindrance to celebrate the Divine offices and sacraments,” may seem but a sorry requital of his good office in her behalf (pp. 149, 154, infra); but in that age religion and politics were more intimately associated than is the case to-day; and it is probable that the Roman Church was still far too strong in the country to enable the concession to be safely made. In such circumstances to accord the Emperor's request would have been in effect treason to the State. (fn. 10)
Of more interest than the Emperor's letter is the singular overture for reconciliation to the Holy See made by Pope Pius IV to Queen Elizabeth in 1564. In his letter of 1 June, 1562, he had, while closing the Council to her, added that “if the Queen of England shall be minded to return to Holy Mother Church, she has yet time; if not, God will appoint her a time in His good pleasure” (p. 91, infra). He now thought that the appointed time might be at hand, because, forsooth, he had learned, apparently from a young Englishman of good family, Thomas Sackville, who, being on his travels, happened to be staying in Rome, that the causes of the schism were two, viz., “the judgment or declaration delivered by Pope Clement VII as to the second marriage of the Queen's father, Henry VIII, and the alienation of Church property made by the said King, of which restitution could not be made without great jeopardy and distraction of the Commonwealth.” Through Sackville the Pope, therefore, saw fit to notify the Queen “that he was by no means disposed that such regard and care should be had for temporal and worldly things as should stand in the way of the salvation of souls. And so, if at any time the Queen shall be minded to return to the unity of the Church and the obedience of the Holy See, he promises her that he will receive her with fatherly affection and all the love that could be desired, and he will apply to the solution of the difficulties aforesaid such remedies as shall be approved by the Queen, the Parliament, and the general consent of the realm as best adapted to strengthen the Crown and establish the peace and quietness of the people at large; and he will in all matters whatever confirm all lawful and pious decrees” (p. 163, infra.)
The perfect sincerity of the Pope in making this extremely handsome offer is unquestionable; but it is amazing that a statesman of his ripe experience of affairs should have allowed himself to adopt at the suggestion of a dilettante young man so peculiarly superficial a view of the obstacles to reunion. Evidently he had yet to learn that men and nations at a certain stage of their development grow justly impatient of tutelage in matters of faith, resolve at all hazards and all costs to decide such questions to the best of their abilities for themselves, braving the risk of error, and all other risks, because, as self-determining beings they recognise that no assent that is not free, intelligent and explicit is a true assent; and having once won this right and assumed this responsibility are apt to cherish both as franchises of priceless value to be jealously preserved and transmitted intact to their posterity. This utter failure on the part of a Pontiff of the capacity and experience of Pius IV to penetrate the psychology of heresy invests this document with peculiar and pathetic historical importance. It brings out with signal clearness the utter hopelessness of mediation between the Church and the schismatics, no matter what concessions in regard of temporalities the Pope might have been prepared to make. Between them and the implicit believers in Roman dogma there yawned a gulf comparable to that which separates a man from a marionette. It need hardly be added that no response from England was made to this well-meant but impracticable overture, which thus serves but to attest how much and how little as late as 1564 Rome was willing to concede to her most refractory child.
The treaty of Cateau Cambrésis, which established a durable peace between France and Spain, touched English interests only in the matter of Calais, the one permanent acquisition made by the French during the war. King Philip, for commercial reasons, desired its retrocession, and, notwithstanding the death of Queen Mary, stoutly supported the English claim, but could obtain no better terms than a stipulation for its restitution after eight years, the French forthwith to give security in money and hostages for punctual discharge of the obligation, provided there were no breach of the peace by England in the meantime. The arrangement was not altogether satisfactory, for it was hardly to be expected that the French, after the lapse of eight years, would be unable to devise some pretext for resisting the claim to restitution of a place of such capital importance, and in the retention of which the pride of their country was so deeply engaged; nor were Elizabeth and her advisers by any means blind to the fact that the acquisition of a French seaport or two would be a better security for the fulfilment of the stipulation than wax, parchment and hostages. Moreover, Elizabeth's intervention against the French in Scotland might conceivably be construed by them as an act of aggression, relieving them of the obligation to restore Calais; and as no further help was to be expected from Philip (pp. 7, 17–18, infra), the opportunity afforded by the outbreak of civil strife in France in the summer of 1562 proved too tempting to be missed.
Rouen and Havre de Grace, with some of the neighbouring towns, adhered to the Huguenot cause, and pursuant to an understanding between Elizabeth and the Prince of Condé, the Queen received from the Governor of Havre de Grace, Jean de Ferrières, Vidame of Chartres, better known by his seigneurial title of Maligny, an offer to place the port in her hands, provided she would undertake its defence against the King's forces during the now inevitable war. In August Elizabeth closed with the offer, stipulating that Maligny should remain in England until the articles were fulfilled. The understanding was that the Queen should furnish 3,000 men for the defence of Havre and the same number for the defence of Dieppe and Rouen, and lend Condé 140,000 crowns, repayable on the re-establishment of peace, when the Prince was to procure the exchange of Calais for Havre.
It was not, however, until October that Havre and Dieppe were effectively occupied by English troops; and the Earl of Warwick, on assuming the chief command towards the end of the month, found Havre none too strong, and asked for reinforcements, which were but tardily afforded him (pp. 82–83, 97–107 infra, and Cal. State Papers, Foreign, 1562, pp. 154, 197, et seq., 306 et seq., 341–59, 409–16, 447, 573; Venetian, 1558–80, p. 345).
The course of the little war that ensued was not such as to enhance English prestige. The forces in Havre were inadequate to enable the siege of Rouen, already begun by the royalists, to be raised; and the contingent which was despatched for this purpose was captured by Montmorency, who at the same time blocked the waterway between Rouen and Havre so effectually that no more relief could be attempted (p. 112, infra). Nevertheless, under the command of Gabriel de Lorges, Count of Montgomery, a guardsman of the King's Scottish corps, who, having had the misfortune to kill King Henry II in a tourney, had fled from Court and placed his sword at the disposal of the Huguenots, Rouen made a stout resistance; and when the city was at last taken by assault, Montgomery and most of the surviving defenders had already evacuated the place (p. 113, infra). Montgomery got safe into Havre, and with the very small force which was all that Warwick could spare him, made good for some time the defence of Dieppe (cal. State Papers, Foreign, 1562, pp. 587, 595, 602, 607; 1563, pp. 5–6, 34).
The capture of Rouen was a serious blow to the Huguenot cause; but the losses of the besiegers must have been heavy, and they included the King of Navarre, who, though not actually killed on the spot, was mortally wounded. The strength of the Huguenots in Orléans, and the probability that the Prince of Condé, reinforced by contingents from Germany, would soon take the field, rendered an immediate attack upon Havre impolitic. And when at last Condé did take the field, his dearly-bought defeat by the Duke of Guise at Dreux, 19 December, 1562, did so little to raise the spirits of the Catholics that it was resolved to exhaust the resources of diplomacy before attempting the reduction by siege of a place of such strength, both natural and artificial, as that which Warwick, secure from attack by sea, commanded (pp. 116–17, 120, infra).
As, however, Elizabeth insisted upon the retrocession of Calais as a sine qua non of the proposed “Treaty of Accommodation,” the King's troops in the summer of 1563 marched upon Havre in great strength, entrenched themselves, and maintained a brisk cannonade upon the place, under cover of which they at length drew close to a part of the fortifications where they were completely screened from the fire of the defenders. By that time the garrison had been greatly reinforced, but, unfortunately, plague had broken out, and the deaths from that cause alone were estimated at a hundred at least a day. In these circumstances Elizabeth, while allowing a squadron under Lord Clinton to proceed to the relief of the place, commissioned Throckmorton to arrange a capitulation. Pending the negotiations, however, Warwick, recognising in the plague an enemy with which it was impossible to cope, surrendered (28 July) rather than continue to sacrifice the lives of his men (pp. 130, 134–45, infra; Cf. Cal. Hatfield MSS., Hist. MSS. Comm., pt. i. p. 274; Cal. State Papers, Foreign, 1563, pp. 463, 469, et seq.).
The two English ambassadors, Throckmorton and Smith, were placed under arrest by the Queen Mother as hostages for the peace, which after much haggling was arranged at Troyes on 12 April, 1564, the question of Calais being pro forma postponed until the date fixed for the retrocession by the Treaty of Cateau Cambrésis. The hostages were to be released, and England was to receive from France 120,000 crowns in return for the surrender of prizes and artillery taken from the French. Such was the appropriate termination of this inglorious little war.
It would seem that pending the negotiations the King of Spain was assiduous in endeavouring to frustrate them, lest the ultimate result should be an alliance or entente cordiale between the two Powers; which machinations being discovered tended rather to facilitate the pacification (pp. 155–6, 158–62, infra; Cal. State Papers, Foreign, 1563, pp. 495–589 et seq.; 1564–5, pp. 100–2).
Queen Elizabeth reasserted her claim to Calais in April, 1567, by the presentation of a formal demand for the retrocession of the place. Its summary rejection seemed for a while to portend war; and the good offices of King Philip, as so largely concerned in the negotiation of the Treaty of Cateau Cambrésis, were sought on both sides (July). The King, as usual, was slow to commit himself, but promised to deal with the question when he should be in Flanders, which, as he was notoriously loath to travel, seemed like an adjournment to the Greek Calends; and, meanwhile, France was in dread of a rising of the Huguenots, who were predominant in Boulogne-sur-Mer, and were thought, and probably not without good ground, quite capable of accepting an English garrison (pp. 241–51, infra). The autumn came, and Philip was still in Spain, while the situation in France grew more grave, so that it began to be doubted whether the Government would be able to cope with the Huguenots.
In these circumstances the Nuncio Castagna importuned Philip to lend France at least moral, and promise her material support, and at the same time to notify England in no ambiguous terms that in case of war she must count on his active intervention (pp. 257–8, infra). In Brussels in November hostilities were thought to be imminent. England was reported to have between 20 and 30 ships of war ready for action, and the Duke of Alva was busy strengthening the fortifications of Antwerp. But about this time Philip nerved himself to make strong remonstrances to the English ambassador, and liberal proffers of aid to the King of France, which had the effect of assuring peace (pp. 259–61, infra).
It is now time to return to Mary Queen of Scots, who henceforth makes a great figure in the Calendar. Her bold assumption of the style and arms of Queen of England, her steadfast refusal to ratify the Peace of Edinburgh, and her early widowhood had evoked the enthusiasm and the sympathy of fervent Catholics in all parts of Europe. In Scotland, now all but lost to the Church, her staunchness in the faith alone seemed to give promise of better things. The Chastelard episode, in which the faithful saw but a dastardly attempt on the part of a fanatical Huguenot to defame the chaste and peerless Queen, adorned her in their eyes with the aureole of a martyr. Her romantic love-match with her handsome cousin, Darnley, of which Rome received by the Flanders post circumstantial intelligence from London, riveted the attention of Europe upon her.
The affair with Darnley was not, however, quite such a simple tale of true love as it appeared in the Flanders despatch (pp. 172–74, infra). Disappointed of Don Carlos by Philip's veto (p. 160, infra (fn. 11) ), Mary was very disconsolate, and had given ear to Elizabeth's rather singular suggestion that she might do worse than wed her favourite, Leicester. Mary, however, made it clear that her consent to that arrangement would be conditional upon her designation by Elizabeth as her successor on the throne of England. To this Elizabeth, mortally offended as she was by Mary's assumption of the style and arms of England, demurred, saying that she had not herself renounced all idea of matrimony. But, nevertheless, the affair with Leicester was not as yet altogether terminated when Mary made Darnley's acquaintance (17 February, 1565), and made it with the cognizance and tacit consent of Elizabeth, who, had she chosen, might have kept Darnley in England. It is therefore evident that Elizabeth had not anticipated the result which, as soon as it was announced, she so vehemently disapproved. That Darnley's somewhat feminine features and slender wit, though joined with a tall and well-proportioned frame, should make more than a passing impression upon the high-spirited and brilliant Queen of Scots was indeed, prima facie, improbable. But Elizabeth, who was but trifling with Mary, connived at his aspirations in the hope that he might serve to divert her mind from Leicester, whom it began to be feared she might after all accept, though the declaration of succession were denied her; and of course there could be nothing more distasteful to Elizabeth than that her favourite should marry.
Elizabeth's action in this matter was, however, by no means dictated by mere caprice or spite. As long as the Peace of Edinburgh remained unratified—and Mary showed no disposition to ratify it—England claimed the protectorate of Scotland; and a match between Mary and Darnley was, by reason of the twofold title to the succession to the throne of England founded on their common descent from Margaret Tudor, deemed, in the interests of the Protestant religion, inadmissible both by the Queen and by her Council; nor was any time lost in apprising Mary of the fact. It was mainly for the purpose of removing all doubt as to this matter that Throckmorton was sent to Scotland; and his repetition of the offer of Leicester's hand was probably a mere formality. Elizabeth had, however, over-reached herself. Mary knew that she had been trifled with, and incensed by Elizabeth's dictatorial attitude, became the more bent on wedding her handsome cousin. The marriage, however, was deferred for a considerable time, not, it would seem, because a dispensation was necessary, but rather to afford Elizabeth leisure in some degree to abate her wrath. But Elizabeth remained implacable. She could not forgive Mary for having defeated her malicious design of keeping her halting between Darnley and Leicester, to the indefinite postponement of her marriage. She was conscious that she had made an error of judgment; and Mary's unalterable determination to act for herself was in her eyes an unpardonable offence. She let Mary know that she regarded it as tantamount to a declaration of war, and thenceforth there was indeed to be war to the knife between the two Queens (Cal. State Papers, Scotland, ed. Bain, vol. ii. pp. 136, 145, 150; Foreign, 1564–65, pp. 299, 344, 369–71, 384).
It is significant of the widespread interest felt in this affair that on the Continent the solemnization of Queen Mary's marriage was liberally antedated by rumour. Indeed, as early as 23 June the able and usually well-informed Nuncio Santacroce, writing to Cardinal Borromeo from Estaing, refers to the marriage as already an accomplished fact, as Borromeo “must by this time have learned” (p. 172, infra); from which it is evident that the betrothal, which preceded Throckmorton's arrival in Scotland, had been magnified by gossip into an actual wedding. The marriage was in fact solemnized at Holyrood on 29 July, and even then was irregular, as no dispensation had been obtained. (Robertson, History of Scotland, App., No. xi; Wright's Elizabeth, vol. i. p. 202.)
Apparently the officiating priest, John Sinclair, Dean of Restalrig, afterwards Bishop of Brechin, being but human, yielded to the importunity of the ardent and illustrious couple, or was in some way led to believe that the dispensation was already granted and on its way to Scotland. It was not, however, until 1 September that the Pope at the instance of Mary's envoy, William Chisholm, Bishop of Dunblane, somewhat reluctantly announced his intention of granting the dispensation (pp. 175–76, infra); and even then he procrastinated until the 25th of the month, when the dispensation and brief calendared on pp. 171 and 177 respectively were despatched by the hand of the Bishop. It is singular that the duplicate of the dispensation preserved at the Vatican is dated not 25 September, but 25 May, and, nevertheless, at St. Mark's, though the Pope was not in residence at St. Mark's on 25 May, and that the title Earl of Ross, by which Darnley is designated in the document had on 25 May been so recently (15 May) conferred upon him, that he could not possibly be known at Rome by that title at that date.
It is therefore evident that, unless the clerk who copied the dispensation made a gross error when he came to the date of the document, the Pope, being anxious to do what he might to validate the marriage ab initio, caused the dispensation to be antedated, but in other respects inadvertently left it just as it stood. (fn. 12)
The marriage and Mary's evident intention to champion the Catholic cause evoked no little disaffection, which, fomented by Elizabeth, culminated in a rebellion that furnished the Pope and King Philip with matter for much anxious reflection. The result had been anticipated by Mary, who on applying for the dispensation had also craved of the Pope a liberal aid, apparently 300,000 ducats, which the Papal Treasury, severely taxed by the necessity of contributing to the defence of Malta against the Turks, was unable to afford her. But after announcing in Consistory on 12 October, 1565, that the siege of Malta was at last raised, the Pope adverted to the distracted condition of Scotland, and imposed an aid of 400,000 ducats, promising not to levy it until it should be urgently required. This aid was doubtless intended to provide a reserve on which in case of need the Pope could draw for the service of the Queen of Scots. Indeed, so grave a view did he take of the situation in Scotland that he wrote forthwith to the Cardinal of Lorraine, urging him to exert all his influence with the Queen for the better protection of the interests of the Church in the event of peace being made at the next meeting of Parliament (pp. 179–80, infra).
Some considerable time before he provided himself with the sinews of war, the Pope had directed Cardinal Pacecco to communicate with King Philip, to whom accordingly the Cardinal had written (2 September) to the effect that the Pope had received a letter from the Queen of Scotland and her consort, written while they were besieged in a castle by the Huguenots, and craving an aid sufficient to raise and pay 12,000 infantry for six months, as they were bent on making a great effort for the settlement of matters of religion, and in fear of the Queen of England, who was desperately incensed that they should have married against her will; that the Pope, excessive though his straits were, and though he was aiding the Emperor, lacked not the will to afford the Queen of Scotland this aid, were it not that to stir up the “humours” just then might have very untoward consequences; that he had spoken the Queen of Scotland's envoy fair, deeming that during the winter nothing could be done, and that meanwhile he could learn the mind of the Catholic King, whose concurrence he must have before addressing himself in any wise to so great an undertaking. The Cardinal, therefore, desired the King to let him know how he should answer the Pope. (fn. 13)
Meanwhile, the irregular warfare in Scotland continued, with no signal success on either side; and on 10 September the Queen wrote from Glasgow to Philip, accrediting to him Francis Yaxley, who had been in the service of the late Queen of England, and was thus not unknown to the King. Yaxley's instructions were to make an urgent appeal to Philip for instant and substantial aid for the Catholic cause in Scotland. The matter brooked no delay; and Yaxley took the first good ship that sailed for Spain from Dumbarton, and travelling with “great diligence” arrived on 20 October at the Palace in the Wood of Segovia, where Philip was then residing. “He came so secretly that none knew of his coming till ten days after his departure,” which was but five days after his arrival. The result of his four days' conference with the King was that he was bidden to return with all speed to Scotland by way of Antwerp with the assurance that from one of his secret agents, Alonso del Canto, of that city, he would receive the sum of 20,000 crowns for the service of the Queen of Scotland, for whom he was entrusted with a letter of advice from the King. Yaxley was in Antwerp before the end of November, and being promptly furnished with the money in specie by Alonso del Canto, lost no time in taking ship for Scotland. The ship, however, was wrecked off the coast of Northumberland, and messenger, money and missive went to the bottom together. Yaxley's corpse being washed ashore, the money came into the hands of the Earl of Northumberland and by virtue of the prerogative of wreck did not reach those of the Queen.
Pacecco's letter was in Philip's hands some days before Yaxley arrived, but had no effect in determining the King's action. Indeed, the 20,000 crowns which Yaxley was to receive from Alonso del Canto had already been placed to the credit of the Spanish ambassador in England, Don Guzman de Silva, for the service of Queen Mary. The Queen was thus doubly unfortunate; her letter to the Pope had failed of its object, and Yaxley's mission had but had the effect of transferring to the Earl of Northumberland a subsidy which, if it had been left to de Silva to remit, would probably have reached her hands. (Labanoff, Lettres de Marie Stuart, vol. i. pp. 281–83; Cal. State Papers, Foreign, 1564–65, pp. 484, 505, 519; 1566, pp. 6, 40; Spanish, 1558–67, pp. 483–97, 507, 509, 516, 523. Cf. p. 195, infra.)
To the Cardinal the King replied with all his characteristic circumspection. 1. The Queen's rebellious subjects he deemed so insignificant that, so long as she had them alone to cope with, he thought pecuniary aid would suffice; and to secure secrecy it should be remitted through de Silva. 2. But if the Scottish insurgents should receive English support, the aid required by the Queen, whether it took the form of money or of mercenaries, must needs be so considerable that it could hardly be kept secret; and while he was still prepared to contribute, he stipulated that the succour should be made to appear as of the Pope's sole providing. 3. Before taking the offensive to assert her title to the throne of England, the Queen should pave the way by strengthening her faction in that country. And therefore his Holiness should follow his, Philip's example, i.e. should communicate with the Queen, inculcating upon her the need of pursuing a very cautious policy. Her claim to recognition as Elizabeth's successor on the throne of England should be maintained, but should not be pressed until the time should be ripe for action, when the King would take counsel with the Pope how best to promote the cause of God in Mary's person, seeing that it was through her alone that religion could now gain access to England (pp. 181–2, infra). On the whole, then, Philip's policy in regard to England was to advise, subsidise and temporise until there should be reasonable probability that overt action would be crowned with success.
It is to be observed that Philip assumed that the Pope was already provided with a secret channel of communication with the Queen; which serves to give colour to the suspicion already prevalent in Scotland that the favourite David Riccio was in the secret service of the Holy See.
Riccio had come to Scotland in the train of the Duke of Savoy's ambassador, the Count of Moretta, had attracted the Queen's notice by his skill in music, had succeeded Raulet as her private secretary (December, 1564), and, though swarthy and, it would seem, ungainly, was speedily taken into her favour and confidence (Cal. State Papers, Foreign, 1564–5, pp. 262, 308, 380). His obscurity might well commend him to the Pope as the very man for his purpose; and if, as would seem probable in the circumstances, he was permitted by Mary to discuss with her the advice which the Pope communicated through him, the consequential airs which he assumed and the Queen allowed would be readily explicable without recourse to the intrinsically improbable supposition of an immoral relation between the Queen and her low-born confidant, while to foster belief in such a relation would be the obvious policy of the leaders of the Protestant faction, compelled as they were to rely upon the support of a Queen who had treated the Darnley match as a declaration of war. In 1565 Riccio was generally regarded in Scotland as the Queen's most trusted counsellor. It seemed as if there were no civil office under the Crown to which he might not aspire. (Ibid. pp. 464, 469, 480.) There is therefore nothing essentially improbable in the supposition that Riccio, whose incompetence for affairs of State cannot be inferred either from his obscure origin or from his accomplishment in music, and is by no means alleged by his contemporaries, was in fact the confidential agent through whose hands the Pope's correspondence with the Queen passed, while, save Riccio, we know of no one that could have acted as intermediary.
The discomfiture of the Scottish insurgents in the brief campaign, which the energy of the Earl of Both well, and the refusal of Elizabeth to lend effective support to the faction which she had secretly fostered, enabled Mary to bring to a triumphant close in October, 1565, relieved Pope Pius IV from all obligation to subsidise the Queen during the brief residue of his life. His successor, Pius V, wrote (10 January, 1566) to her and her consort complimenting them on the “bright example” which they had set to Christendom by “re-establishing the true religion throughout Scotland”; but the King had played a somewhat insignificant part in the late operations, and already there were differences between him and the Queen. He was offended that the Crown matrimonial was not yet conferred upon him, and imputed the delay to Riccio's influence (p. 202, infra); and if Riccio was indeed the Queen's secret adviser, it would naturally be part of his policy to prevent the King from gaining power or influence, and indeed to estrange him from the Queen, in order that the policy of the Crown might be the more effectually swayed by the Pope.
Riccio's influence seems also to be traceable in Mary's harsh and impolitic refusal to pardon the Earl of Moray, and the other rebels that had crossed the Border, until Elizabeth should recognise her right of succession to the throne of England. (fn. 14) This was tantamount to a decree of perpetual banishment, and was the more impolitic that, owing to the loss of Philip's subsidy, Mary was in grave pecuniary straits (Cal. State Papers, Foreign, 1566–8, pp. 4–28; Robertson, History of Scotland, App., No. xiv). Such implacability was indeed calculated to render her odious to her people; nor was the Queen naturally ruthless.
In these circumstances Mary wrote (31 January, 1566) to the Bishop of Dunblane, who was then at Paris, bidding him go to Rome to present her obedience to the new Pope (p. 185, infra), to whom at the same time she addressed by a separate letter an urgent, though discreetly veiled, appeal for pecuniary assistance.
It was thus that the Queen wrote to the Pope:—
“Your immediate predecessor in the governance of the Apostolic See, Pope Pius of happy and eternal memory, animated by that fervent zeal with which as a good and vigilant pastor he burned for all the flock committed to his charge, as also by an especial regard for those sheep whom he mourned to see scattered and a prey to wolves in our realm of Scotland, did, to the end that he might at length reclaim them to the one fold and one Shepherd, deign more than once to send Us his letters and his nuncios. And although We doubt not that he ever discerned in Us a spirit and bent that accorded with his hopes and left Us no occasion for penitence, yet the sorry course of the affairs of our realm, which, as all men know, have hitherto been subject to every sort of vicissitude, and the foes of our religion, who, alas! are very numerous and confident of their power, and therefore formidable to Us, have hitherto so clogged our efforts that We have come short of fulfilling his most pious and holy behests.
“Since Pope Pius' translation to Heaven and your Holiness' election by the providence of God as his successor in the governance of the Apostolic See and zealous care of souls, We amid our sore troubles see that there is still left Us sure hope that what he happily began your Holiness will also happily, ay and speedily, accomplish. Wherefore, by God's grace, We have sent to your Holiness our beloved and trusty liege and well approved Christian, the Reverend Father in Christ, William, Bishop of Dunblane, as our legate, ambassador and proctor, with instructions not only to congratulate your Holiness in our name on your election and exaltation to the Supreme Pontificate, but also, after most humbly kissing your most holy feet, to present to you our due homage and ready obedience, and most earnestly to entreat you by your holy sacrifices, prayers, counsels and aids, as well spiritual as temporal, to succour our unhappy realm in its woeful plight; for matters have not yet got to such a pass but that with your counsel and aid We may and should hope for the best. For it was from your predecessor Pope Pius IV that We derived this hope, and We are persuaded that your Holiness will augment and fulfil it, seeing that already our enemies are either in exile or in our hands, albeit their rage and their great straits will constrain them to adopt extreme measures. But if God and your Holiness, whose cause We are maintaining, are with Us, with such help We shall get over the wall.“The rest you will learn from our deservedly beloved and trusty ambassador. Should you receive him kindly, giving to his words the same credence as if they were uttered by Ourself in person, and benignly grant his, nay rather our requests, We shall have reason thenceforth to profess Ourself more bounden to the Apostolic See, albeit We have ever heretofore been most bounden thereto. God preserve your Holiness safe and sound to utmost length of days for Us and all the Christian Commonwealth.
“Given at Edinburgh in our Palace of Holyrood on the last day of January, a.d. 1565[–6].
Your Holiness' most devoted daughter,
Barb. Lat. 3,635 (xliii. 181). f. 3. Printed in Labanoff, Lettres de Marie Stuart, vol. vii. p. 8, and Ann. Eccles. (Laderchi), vol. xxii. p. 223.
Upon receipt of his commission, the Bishop of Dunblane hastened to confer with the Cardinal of Lorraine at Varennes, where he probably arrived in the third week of March, for he found the Cardinal gravely disquieted by reports, confused indeed, but not likely to be unfounded, which had reached him from the English Court, of lawless proceedings in Scotland by which the Queen had been placed in grave jeopardy. It was therefore decided that on arriving at Lyon the Bishop should await further intelligence. The tidings which early in April he there received appear from the impassioned speech which he made at his audience of the Pope upon his arrival at Rome towards the end of the same month. (fn. 15)
“I spent some days at Lyon,” he said, “and there received intelligence of a sort that whether it were meeter for grief or for rejoicing I myself scarce knew. Joyful it was to learn that the life of the most innocent Queen had been delivered from most ruthless ruffians as from the jaws of death, sorrowful that the rebels should be so inhuman, and that in the realm of Scotland we should have waded so far in woe that the good folk that there live should have witnessed with tearful eyes the perpetration of such iniquities. List, Holy Father, what they were.
“At a time when at the Queen's command thronged assemblies were being held in the royal city of Edinburgh, that sentence might be passed upon the rebels and the ancient Roman Catholic piety and faith, now all but banished from the realm, be restored, men most implacably hostile to the Christian faith, and traitors to the Queen, procured from the new King, seduced by lust of power, that pardon which they could not get from his most sagacious wife; to wit, by the unprecedented offer of a royal diadem they obtained liberty to attend the assemblies, and that without the Queen's knowledge. (fn. 16) And having thus got leave to return home, they come to Edinburgh on the day before that on which the last assembly was to be held, and that very day (fn. 17) they enter the royal palace at supper time, but a little while after the Queen and King had supped together, and in the presence of our chief men, between 7 and 8 o'clock, they most ruthlessly slaughter the Queen's secretary, David Riccio, a man most eminent and virtuous. At sight whereof the brave Queen retires to her bed-chamber, a place of repose no longer, but transformed into a prison. For eighty guards, armed with catapults, quartered there by those villains, kept the delicate Queen so close that none even of her women, not to speak of her male retainers, might go in to visit her; and if aught of food was brought in thither, it was not set before her untasted.
“There were then in the palace three of the chief earls, (fn. 18) pious men, and most loyal to the unfortunate Queen, who, being unable to aid her, and forbidden to quit the palace, escaped by the windows in quest of the means of saving her. Which the heretics no sooner learned than they threatened the earls with the Queen's death if they should raise an army to set her free. Meanwhile the rebels continued the work which they had begun with the King, whom they so beguiled with their words that he announced that, unless he received the royal diadem, he would absent himself from the assemblies. Their purpose was to prevent him from joining with the rest in their condemnation. But, being apprised thereof, the members of the assemblies dispersed hither and thither, having no mind to be ruled by him, or consent to aught so unwonted. The King, perceiving that he had not the respect even of those whom he had recalled from exile, goes to the Queen, confesses that he has sinned against her, humbly craves her forgiveness, and promises to apply a salve to all the mischief. He told her that the rebels thirsted for her death—but this had not escaped her great sagacity—and he himself discovered to her those whom they had marked out for slaughter, and purposed to execute before the gates of the palace. Meantime, he assured her, if her safety were not forthwith looked to, her life was lost.
“What, amid such anxieties, was a woman to do, ay, and a delicate woman, and six months gone in pregnancy, and withal most strictly guarded? But incredible, Holy Father, is her stoutness of heart. She resolved to take flight, and that in a manner for women, and especially for pregnant women, unwonted; for her purpose was to make her descent by ropes from a most lofty tower, and then to betake her to a castle, a place of very great strength, that so she might preserve her life.
“While thus detained, one might almost say in bonds, certainly in prison, this most guiltless Queen bore with signal patience two most grievous trials. For in her husband's presence she was subjected to the utmost indignity of menace and foul abuse, which she endured, mindful, I suppose, of His strength, who for her sake suffered not only contumely but also torments; and again, during the two days and three nights that she spent in these straits she heard that a proclamation was made in the King's name, bidding the Papists—for so they term the Catholics—to depart the city with all that belonged to them, and convening new assemblies to deprive her of the governance of the realm. How grievous to her was this, especially to learn that she was to be thrust into some castle, and that the realm was to be ruled by the rebels! This only will I add, not without sore distress, nor know I if your Holiness' ears can bear it: they resolved that if the castle in which she was to be confined should be besieged by her faithful lieges, they would dismember her and cast the fragments down from the walls, that her faithful friends and subjects might have their fill of lamentation.
“This ruthless temper being more than the King could endure, he goes, in fear and trembling, to the Queen, counsels her to save her life, vows that he will stand by her. Our Catholic nobles were pondering that plan of escape which I have mentioned, but God had provided a better one. For, as the rebels had resolved that she should not be removed from the palace, in which she was confined, to the castle that was to be her prison, until she had subscribed their impious decrees, the King, at the Queen's suggestion, advised that she should be liberated, that she might not thereafter be able to retract, and meanwhile he would make sure that she did as they desired, and he would be her keeper. They put faith in him; they liberate the Queen; they allow the Captain of the Queen's Guard (fn. 19) to join him. And so in the dead of night the King and Queen, with the Captain of the Guard and a servant, made their escape, and by hard riding reached about daybreak a castle, (fn. 20) a place of very great strength. Thus were they delivered out of the snare of the hunters and from the hands of those that sought their lives. Blessed be the name of the Lord! O Blessed Father, if anywhere pity survives, and of a surety it is in you in all its plenitude, have compassion on her affliction, whose life so many conspired to take. Who can fail to deplore her most unmerited and bitter lot? Who, pondering her flights by night, her fears by day, can fail to pity her from the bottom of his soul? Who, in fine, seeing the billows of conspiracy that surge against this most innocent Queen, would not to the best of his power make of himself the mole that should break their force? If misery excites compassion, she is of all women the most miserable; if indignity provokes indignation, what indignity is greater than this? If innocence may touch the heart, where is it to be found more perfect than in this most holy woman? If, lastly, causes stir men's blood, what cause can be better than this of one woman, weak in regard of her sex, suffering so sorely for the Catholic religion?
“In fine, Holy Father, hereby you may in some measure discern the great straits and perils in which are involved not our Queen alone, but all the Scottish Church, which by this time would have been quite extinct but for the eminent, unique and almost incredible virtue and integrity of the said Queen, who, though I were silent, herself, of herself, affords ample evidence of the Divine aid. How great indeed is her devotion to the Catholic Church and the Apostolic See may be gathered from this also, that she has sent me hither to your Holiness, to present in their names, for I include the King, to your Holiness, as the lawful pastor of the Church Universal and the true successor of Blessed Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, their congratulations that to you has fallen so goodly a guerdon and burden. This, indeed, holds the first place in my legatine commission. They congratulate your Holiness, and they give God their most devout thanks, that, at a time when such affliction and such stress of storm and tempest have fallen upon the Christian Commonwealth, He should with such general consent have set over His ship such a pilot that none can doubt that it was indeed the Holy Spirit that gave your Holiness the helm. Nothing, indeed, more delectable could have befallen the Christian world; for amid thick darkness there seems to be a ray of light. Long may God prosper and preserve you to guide His Church.
“In the second place, the obedience which to your Holiness as Christ's Vicar on earth is owing by kings, and all that desire to be called and to be Christian, I, after most humbly kissing your holy feet, am in the name of the Queen and her Consort to present and vow to you. This, indeed, the most serene lady my Queen was minded should be done publicly, solemnly, and in a manner most honorific, with all the ceremonial that is wonted, necessary and requisite. But, by reason of the straits and tumults, or rather tragedies, aforesaid, this ceremonial must needs be deferred to a more convenient season. For, as in other matters, so likewise in this, the Queen and King are minded not to deviate from the path of their ancestors, from whom they received the tradition of venerating, loving, respecting and obeying the Apostolic See, and those that for the time being are set therein. And with what constancy the Queen has persevered in this obedience and unfaltering faith is abundantly manifest to all by what, during these last six years, since she quitted the realm of France, she has suffered for the restoration of the Holy Roman Catholic faith and religion in the realm of Scotland.
“It remains for me but to open in a few words that which in the third and last place I was charged to say. Children of your Holiness and the Church, as those by whom I am sent acknowledge themselves to be, this as from their father they most earnestly beseech, that the same generosity which they have experienced at the hands of your predecessors they may to-day experience at your hands, and they crave your blessing, they implore your help, your counsel, your aid, and that most of all, which, they have learned upon your authority, resides in the prayers of the pious, that thereon relying, thereby fortified, they may be able in their kingdom to promote the cause of God, and to defend and preserve the Catholic faith. This is their due, and that on many accounts, both because they are your children, and because from a remote antiquity their ancestors, the Kings of the Scots, have ever been most lovingly devoted to this Holy See, to whom no whit inferior, perchance even superior, are they that to-day have the governance of that realm. Indeed, but that I know your Holiness to be a most tender parent and a vigilant pastor, I should do that which anyone holding the office of legate or nuncio in such a case would deem meet, and be profuse of words in craving your counsel. But all men know how great is your Holiness' love of the ailing sheep of the flock of Christ, of whom, alas! there are but too many among us; and also how sedulous you are to promote whatever may serve to confirm Christian piety. And not to weary you by further prolixity, I will add but this: Be it your care, be it, as you are a tender father, your care, that that faith which was the gift to the realm of Scotland of Victor, of blessed memory, fifteenth in succession from Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, be by your Holiness not only preserved but also fully restored. Power to do this God will give you, and He will requite the performance, and the realm will never cease to thank your Holiness.” Barb. Lat. 2,097 (xxx. 170). f. 33.
It is to be observed that the Bishop's eloquent harangue betrays no knowledge of Queen Mary's movements since her escape to Dunbar. He had evidently not received the Queen's letter, dated at Edinburgh Castle, 1 April, 1566, of which an Italian translation appears among the Avvisi of Ferrara under date 9 April of that year (p. 186 infra). Indeed, neither the original letter nor the translation could have been in the Bishop's hands when he addressed the Pope. The ordinary post took two months to transmit a letter from Edinburgh to Rome, and five weeks was express time, so that the letter could hardly reach the Bishop before the middle of May. Nor is it possible materially to antedate the letter; for it was not until 18 March that Mary returned to Edinburgh, and it was about the 27th of that month that she withdrew into the castle. (fn. 21) Nevertheless there is no reason to doubt the authenticity of the letter. Its contents attest its genuineness.
Immediately upon her return to Edinburgh the Queen, perceiving that, if government was to be carried on at all, she must make her option between two sets of rebels, (fn. 22) pardoned the old set, Moray and his adherents, while she remained inexorable towards those that were implicated in the assassination of Riccio, who accordingly hastened to place the Border between them and her wrath. These were the rebels whose return with an English army she dreaded. Darnley she succeeded in detaching from the new rebels, but his offence was uncondonable. The King was thus completely isolated, exposed as a base deserter to the implacable hostility of the new rebels, and at best but coldly regarded by the old rebels. The Queen's position was also precarious. For the time she relied mainly on Bothwell, to whom more than any other she owed her deliverance from captivity. The Scottish Catholics unaided were too weak to sustain her tottering power, and all her hope thus centred in the Pope and the King of Spain.
The letter was probably enclosed with that of 2 April which the Queen sent to her ambassador at Paris. See Labanoff's Recueil, vol. i. p. 342. The translation, which was probably intended to enlist the interest of the Duke and Cardinal of Ferrara, and through them of the Dukes of Nemours and Savoy, must have been made en route, possibly at Paris immediately upon the receipt of the packet, which, given a good ship, a press of sail and a favourable breeze from Leith to Dieppe, might have reached the ambassador's hands on 9 April. (fn. 23) In any case the date must be that, actual or conjectural, of the translation.
Moved by Dunblane's eloquence and convinced by subsequent advices that the Queen had indeed been in imminent peril of death, the Pope lost no time in bestirring himself on behalf of his protégée. Hastily adopting the view that Queen Elizabeth must be responsible for the second rebellion, he appealed to King Philip, urging him to write to both Queens, to Elizabeth, notifying her that Mary's enemies were also his enemies, and to Mary, assuring her of his support. As it would have been impolitic to allow the King to suppose that he himself meant to afford the Queen financial assistance, he added that he would do so but for the Turkish menace to Malta and the indebtedness of the Holy See. He wrote in a similar strain to Charles IX, and to Mary, 12 May, promising to send her not only money but (what he doubtless thought more important) a nuncio to fortify her by his counsel; and as such on 3 June, 1566, he accredited to her Vincent Lauri, Bishop of Mondovi (pp. 188–9, 195, infra).
Philip replied to the Pope through the Nuncio Castagna that he had not hitherto been remiss in the service of the Queen of Scotland, and instanced the 20,000 crowns sent by Yaxley and lost by shipwreck. This aid he had given privily by understanding with the Queen and at her request, as it was not expedient that he should appear openly as her ally lest France should grow lukewarm and England yet more hostile to her. He admitted that upon this “second emergency,” the rebellion preluded by Riccio's assassination, he had done nothing; but he added that he had not been asked to do anything; and he promised to write to both Queens in accordance with the Papal brief. At the same time he acquitted Elizabeth of complicity in the second “revolution.”
The zealous nuncio, having expressed doubts of Darnley's soundness in the faith, in regard to which also the King might do much, both by confirming the Queen and by “giving her husband to understand either in a friendly way or in terms of menace, as the occasion might demand, that he must either be a Catholic or count upon the enmity of the Catholic King,” was fain to be content with a general assurance that his Majesty would “afford all opportune assistance” (pp. 195–6, infra). The subsequent papers are silent as to intervention of any kind on Philip's part in Scottish affairs until the Queen was a captive in England, and the rallying of the Catholics of the Northern counties to her aid brought with it hope, though no clear prospect, of seating her on the throne of England.
The Pope, on the other hand, made a great display of zeal in Mary's interest. He accompanied Lauri's credentials with a touching letter (16 June) to the Queen, telling her how fervently he had prayed for her in her afflictions, how, deeming himself perhaps unworthy to be heard, he had enlisted on her behalf the prayers of the religious, how gladly he would shed his blood and lay down his life to succour her, and how earnestly he had besought the aid of the Catholic potentates in her cause. Besides the letter, the nuncio took with him many an Agnus Dei and indulgence, and had also a credit of 20,000 crowns for the Queen's service. For his own expenses he had a viaticum of 1,000 crowns and a monthly allowance, probably 300 (fn. 24) crowns (pp. 197, 209, 241–4, infra).
The appointment of the nuncio was suggested by the Cardinal of Lorraine, who thought thereby to flatter the Pope and thus induce him to be more liberal in the matter of the subsidy, and was the more anxious to help his niece out of her difficulties that he felt himself to be in part responsible for the relentless policy towards the old rebels which had provoked the new insurrection (p. 202, infra).
A substantial subsidy, if promptly paid, would doubtless have afforded the Queen relief from her most pressing anxieties. But the Pope tempered his zeal with prudence: he kept a very tight hold on the purse strings. The money was to be doled out in five monthly instalments, and “only provided the Queen should be in such need that the said succour would be a manifest relief to her” (p. 201, infra). To Mary, who had answered the brief of 12 May with the very pretty and dutiful letter printed on p. 198 infra, this decision must have come as a most grievous disappointment. With the nuncio she could readily have dispensed, for she had not spent five years in Scotland without learning the temper of her people, but with the money she could not dispense. She could not but feel that the Cardinal and the Pope had contrived to rob the gift of all its grace and most of its utility. As the summer of 1566 wore on her difficulties increased. Reconciliation with Darnley had by this time proved impossible; she was in chronic dread of fresh rebellion fomented by Elizabeth, and in her anxiety she learned to place ever more and more reliance upon Bothwell, the strong man who had succoured her so doughtily in her hour of direst need (p. 202, infra).
The Vatican was slow to realise the rapidity with which events succeeded one another in Scotland. June was far advanced before Lauri quitted Rome; nor could he cross the Alps before he had visited his See, to which he had been but recently appointed; and at Mondovi he was detained ten days longer than he had anticipated, (fn. 25) so that it was not until 29 July that he arrived at Lyon. There he learned that the Cardinal of Lorraine, who had been spending some time at Nice with the Duke of Nemours, was on his way through Burgundy to Reims; and as his commission made a conference with the Cardinal a necessary preliminary to his audience of their Majesties of France, he followed in the Cardinal's track, and by hard posting came up with him at a village three leagues from Chalonsur-Saône. The Cardinal was equally delighted and amazed to hear of the Pope's magnificent liberality to his niece, and readily authorised the nuncio to communicate the glad tidings to King Charles and the Queen Mother; and so they parted, the Cardinal for Reims, the nuncio for Paris, where he arrived on 9 August.
At Paris Lauri was occupied for some time with business connected with the observance of the Tridentine Decrees; and before it was despatched letters arrived from Queen Mary deprecating his appearance in Scotland until after the baptism of her son, as it was still uncertain whether the Roman rite would be tolerated, and in default of its toleration his reception would be attended with “great difficulty,” owing to the strength, both numerical and moral, of the heretics. At the same time the Queen pressed for the remittance in whole or in part of the Papal subsidy, and both her ambassador, Archbishop Beaton, and the Bishop of Dunblane were instant that an instalment at least should forthwith be granted her (pp. 197, 199–201, infra).
The Queen's position, Lauri learned from the Scottish Catholics at Paris, was indeed one of extreme anxiety. She dreaded lest the birth of the Prince, the lawful heir to the crown of England, should cement Elizabeth's alliance with the Protestant party. Of more serious consequence were the strained relations with her husband, which had compelled her in self-defence to treat the Protestant statesmen with forbearance, and even to show them some countenance. Hence, she had pardoned Moray and Argyll, and was now resourceless against them, as also against the King's friends, Morton, Lethington, Bellenden and MacGyll. (fn. 26) Nevertheless it was supposed that she could easily wheedle the King into consenting not only that all six statesmen should be executed, but that he himself should be the executioner. The only fear was that the Cardinal of Lorraine and the Queen would prove too clement to consent to this just execution, though it could be managed without occasioning any stir, and by thoroughly purging Scotland of leaders of faction would enable the Catholic religion to be speedily re-established throughout the country (pp. 202–3, infra).
While pondering this heroic method of reclaiming Scotland to the obedience of the Holy See, Lauri received the Cardinal of Lorraine's authorisation of the disbursement of a month's instalment of the subsidy. The sum of 4,000 crowns was accordingly entrusted to Archbishop Beaton, and by the hand of his brother John was transmitted with all possible expedition to Scotland, and delivered to the Queen (pp. 204, 209, 216, infra). This dole proved to be all of the Papal bounty that Mary was ever to finger.
As the Pope's intention in granting the subsidy was not so much to lighten the burden of Mary's financial embarrassment and increase the weight of her political influence as to promote the cause of the Catholic religion in Scotland, so, while approving the remittance of the first instalment, he forbade payment of any further sum until Lauri's arrival in the country and reception as nuncio by the Queen; and if he should then find that the money already expended had “been barren of result in regard to religious affairs,” and that there was “no reason to expect any such result in the future,” no further disbursement was to be made (p. 206, infra). Queen Mary, on the other hand, wanted the money, as she afterwards frankly avowed, for the support of her state and authority, (fn. 27) and regarded the advent of the nuncio as such with the gravest apprehension. As to religion, she probably thought that, if she could secure the baptism of the Prince according to the Roman rite, and with the éclat which the representatives of England and France would impart, she would accomplish as much for religion as was for the time safely to be attempted; and she was far better able to gauge the situation in Scotland than either the Pope or the Cardinal of Lorraine could be. But if the Nuncio's mission could be kept secret, she was prepared to discuss with him what more might be feasible. She knew quite well that the time was not ripe for overt action on the part of the Holy See. It was therefore only with extreme reluctance that she yielded to the advice of her Council and consented to receive Lauri, as the balance of the subsidy was to be had on no other terms. The Cardinal of Lorraine at first shared the Queen's hesitancy; and Lauri found it no easy matter to induce him to change his mind. He thought or professed to think, that the Pope's life was precarious; and he “had rather not attempt anything so important, and then be left in the lurch.” However, being reassured by the nuncio as to the Pope's health, he resolved to send a confidential agent to persuade the Queen to bestir herself in the cause of religion in Scotland in the manner proposed by the Scottish Catholic junto at Paris (pp. 212–14, 216–18, infra). Before deciding on intervention in Scotland, the Pope had, of course, sought the guidance of the Holy Ghost; but the summary and sanguinary procedure which it was now resolved to submit to the Queen as the quid pro quo of the Papal subsidy was worthy of the Vehmgericht in its palmy days; and it is startling to find it approved by such eminent ecclesiastics as the Archbishop of Glasgow, the Bishop of Dunblane, Father Edmund Hay, Rector of the Jesuit College at Paris, and, though evidently with many a qualm of conscience, by the Cardinal of Lorraine.
Apprehending that the Queen would be averse to the policy, and that her uncle's advocacy of it would be but half-hearted, the Vehmgericht resolved that two of their number, Dunblane and Hay, should follow the Cardinal's messenger to Scotland to expound the policy to the Queen and combat her scruples. They quitted Paris before the middle of November, but were detained by contrary winds at Dieppe, and did not reach Edinburgh until 13 December, so that it was long before Lauri heard from them.
Meanwhile, his anxiety was intensified by the receipt of three letters from the Queen, dated 9 October, 16 October, and 1 November, respectively, and a letter from the Cardinal of Lorraine, of which the net result was that her subjects would not tolerate his appearance in Scotland as nuncio, but that, if he might come under some other “colour,” he might be received; and that she did not approve of the plan proposed by her uncle and his friends in Paris for settling religious affairs in Scotland (pp. 220–1, 227, infra).
From her expressed desire to confer with him, Lauri contrived to derive no little consolation. She had at once excited his curiosity and flattered his vanity. She disapproved or misunderstood the policy as expounded by the envoys; she had a policy of her own to propound, and it was to him, Lauri, that she desired to communicate it; and so, though he was not to be received as nuncio, and was at a loss to conjecture under what other “colour” he was to be received, he burned to go to Scotland and become the confidant of its peerless Queen. It was, therefore, with the utmost impatience that he awaited the return of Father Edmund Hay with the fuller information which he hoped to derive from him, and meanwhile he made with all alacrity his arrangements for the journey. That the Queen might only be playing with him, in the hope of eliciting another instalment of the Papal subsidy, apparently never crossed his mind, though such was the most natural explanation of her conduct. Disillusion, however, though he was slow to recognise it, was in store for him. On 24 January, 1567, he heard from Dunblane and Hay that they had arrived at Edinburgh on 13 December, to find the Queen altogether preoccupied with a matter which was to her of more interest and importance than any merely political question, the long-delayed baptism of her son, at last to be solemnized with due éclat in the royal chapel at Stirling. In these circumstances she had, of course, nothing to say as to Lauri's mission. As to the baptism Lauri wrote forthwith to Cardinal Alessandrino, retailing the report of the Count of Brienne, the Most Christian King's representative at the ceremony. In a subsequent letter (13 February) he returned to the subject, describing Darnley's behaviour on the occasion (pp. 227–8 infra). In a much earlier letter (4 November, 1566) he had noted the growing estrangement between the Queen and King, who, resentful of his exclusion by her from all participation in affairs of State, had at last withdrawn from Court altogether, and, sulking at Glasgow, had not even condescended to visit her during her illness [at Jedburgh (fn. 28) ] (pp. 214–5, infra). To this he now added, 13 February, 1567, that though at Stirling at the time of the baptism, Darnley had not shown himself at any public ceremony; but that the Queen had recently visited him at Glasgow, where he lay sick. In his estrangement from the Queen, fomented as it was by a few powerful and seditious men, he discerned a serious but not insurmountable obstacle to the policy of the Vehmgericht (p. 228, infra). Of the ominous pardon granted, 24 December, 1566, by Mary to Morton and his associates in the assasination of Riccio he does not seem to have by that time heard; and perhaps he would have written in a more cheerful tone if he had learned that the Queen had induced Darnley to return with her from Glasgow to Edinburgh, where they had arrived, apparently reconciled, about the end of January. As to the probable or possible date of his own departure for Scotland, the nuncio was still silent; and his subsequent letters from Paris contain little but intelligence, at first confused but by degrees gaining in exactitude, of the tragedy of Kirk o' Field.
The first tidings, which hardly amounted to more than that the Queen had brought Darnley to Edinburgh, where he had been provided with quarters not, as usual, in the Palace, but in a neighbouring house, and that on the morning of the last Sunday of Carnival (9 February) his corpse had been found outside the house in the street, were brought by du Croc, the French ambassador at Edinburgh, who had quitted the city on 22 January, and perhaps had reason to surmise that mischief was brewing. He received them at Dover from an express courier despatched by the French ambassador at London. Du Croc arrived at Paris on 19 February, and the terrible news that he brought was confirmed and amplified by a letter of the 10th inst. from the Queen to Archbishop Beaton, by an express messenger (Clerneau (fn. 29) ) despatched on the 11th inst. by the Queen, by the Queen's autograph letter of the 15th inst., and finally by a letter of the Bishop of Dunblane of the 17th inst. (pp. 229–33, infra). This first-hand documentary evidence underlies Lauri's letters; and there is therefore no reason to doubt the substantial accuracy of the detailed information contained in them. But while they enable us to realise with remarkable vividness the scene and circumstances of the appalling event, they are silent as the grave as to the quarter in which the ultimate responsibility for the crime was to be laid. The cautious nuncio deemed that question too serious to be handled in an ordinary despatch, and recorded all that he could gather about it in a separate document which he sent in duplicate to Cardinal Alessandrino by different hands (22–23 February, pp. 231, 237 infra).
It is vexatious that both sheets are missing; for their contents would probably have been of considerable importance. But, whatever they were, they by no means in Lauri's judgment demanded the abandonment of his mission. On the contrary he deemed that the policy of Vehmgericht had now a better chance of success, as the Queen, “being quit of misgiving in regard of her husband, would have no great difficulty in putting it in execution.” He evidently did not suspect the Queen of complicity in the murder, but regarded it as the result of the malice prepense of the heretics, which only the adoption by the Queen of the policy of the Paris Vehmgericht could have averted. He was flattered to receive the Queen's autograph letter of 15 February, and by a verbal assurance of her favour which she sent by the messenger that brought the letter. He was encouraged to learn that Dunblane and Hay would soon be in Paris (p. 233, infra). His hopes of going to Scotland were, however, dashed by exaggerated reports of disturbances attending the inquest upon the King's death, and finally dispelled by du Croc, who told him frankly that the Queen was hardly a free agent, and convinced him that the turn which events had taken absolutely precluded his reception by her as nuncio (pp. 234, 235, infra).
To Lauri, who does not seem to have been an adept at reading between the lines, the acumen displayed by the Pope in discerning so early that Mary felt that she could well dispense with a nuncio seemed on mature reflection to betoken veritable inspiration (p. 252, infra). But by that time much had happened to open his eyes. The ever-increasing favour which the Queen showed to Bothwell, the trust which she reposed in him, in particular the command of Edinburgh Castle, notwithstanding the grave suspicion in which he stood of responsibility for the King's death, her acquiescence in his abduction of her, and the probability that her marriage with him, if not already solemnized, was at any rate a foregone conclusion, had at last compelled the Pope to notify Lauri that in default of some sign on her part of “improvement in life and religion” his Holiness could have nothing further to do with her (p. 250, infra). By that time, however, the Queen was already secluded in Lochleven Castle, where in all probability the Pope's unkind message did not reach her.
When Queen Mary's chequered fortune had brought her to England, it was not long before a reaction in her favour began to make itself felt on the Continent. At Madrid she was supposed to be sincerely penitent and to have “turned altogether spiritual and Catholic”; at Paris it was clearly perceived that her permanent detention in England would be a fatal blow to the Catholic cause in Scotland (pp. 276–7, infra).
King Philip was still credited with wielding more influence with Queen Elizabeth than any other potentate; and accordingly the Nuncio Castagna, at the instance of his confrère at Paris, della Torre, laid before the King (24 June, 1568) a memorial suggesting that it would be well to procure, if possible, from Queen Elizabeth permission for Queen Mary to make her home in France. Circumstances, however, were singularly unpropitious, for by Philip's cavalier treatment of the English ambassador, Dr. Man, the relations between Spain and England were just then severely strained. Moreover, the Pope, on hearing of the scheme, informed Castagna through Cardinal Alessandrino (17 August, 1568) that he had no commission to give him in the matter, as he was not quite sure which of the two Queens, Elizabeth or Mary, was the better (pp. 278–81, 285, infra).
The Pope's faith in Mary's loyalty to the Church had, of course, been rudely shaken by her marriage with Bothwell; but as to her prior relations with the doughty earl, and particularly as to her rumoured complicity in the assassination of Darnley, he had no evidence, not even Casket Letters to go upon, for Buchanan's Detectio was not yet published, and he would probably be forewarned by the Duke of Norfolk to attach no importance to the letters. The accusation, moreover, ill accorded with the Queen's reputation for exceptional clemency (pp. 203, 235, 236, infra). It was not lightly to be supposed that after rejecting the counsels of a Catholic Vehmgericht, endorsed by her uncle, the Cardinal of Lorraine, and the nuncio, she would lend ear to those of a heretic Vehmgericht, and be party or privy to the murder of her husband. It was more likely that she was the victim of such a Vehmgericht; that in short the perpetrators of Riccio's murder, incensed by Darnley's desertion of them, had through their friends at Court made mischief between him and the Queen, and upon their return from exile had, in concert with a junto of fanatics bent on establishing a regency in order to eradicate of the last remains of Catholic faith and practice from the land, so contrived the murder of the King as that they could at once screen themselves and cast suspicion on the innocent Queen. (fn. 30)
In any case, whatever might have been the Queen's errors, the Pope as a practical statesman could not but recognise that she was necessary to the Church as the sole means of restoring the Catholic religion in Scotland. Great indeed, therefore, must have been his distress to learn from Spain that she was tottering in her faith, and proportionate his relief to receive her unequivocal denial of the imputation printed on p. 289, infra. This frank and affectionate epistle made a most favourable impression on the Pontiff, who, after exhorting Archbishop Beaton to confirm the Queen in the faith, began to lend ear to those zealots who saw in her presence in England an opportunity, perhaps providential, of rallying the English Catholics, and with the aid of Spain dethroning Elizabeth and setting Mary in her place (pp. 290, 302, et seq., infra).
To this end it was essential that she should be set free to marry the Duke of Norfolk, and accordingly in accrediting in March, 1571, Robert Ridolfi, of whom more hereafter, as her envoy to the Pope, Mary instructed him to sue for a divorce from Bothwell on the ground that he had seized her person and kept her captive until he had procured a pretended divorce from his wife, and had then constrained her to go through the ceremony of marriage with him (p. 405, infra).
The Pope, after considering the information with which he was furnished, both as to the divorce and as to the marriage (p. 373, infra), recognised that the case demanded investigation. There appeared to be no doubt that Bothwell had surprised the Queen on her return from Stirling (24 April, 1567), and carried her off to Dunbar (p. 243, infra); and it was certain that his divorce from Lady Bothwell had been obtained by concealment of the dispensation by which the marriage had been authorised. (Cf. Robertson, History of Scotland, App., No. xx; and Hist. MSS. Comm., 2nd Rep., App. p. 177.)
In these circumstances the Pope saw fit to direct (15 July, 1571) a review of the whole case by the Archbishop of St. Andrews, the Bishop of Aberdeen, the Dean of Glasgow, and the Chancellor and Treasurer of Aberdeen, with ample powers to deal with the matter in a manner at once simple, summary, secret and informal (p. 442, infra).
The passage of history to which this document relates shows pretty plainly that in regard to Bothwell Mary was actuated by policy rather than by passion. She had been luckless in her marriages. Francis had died before he had time to win his spurs. Darnley had good looks, but little mind or character. Bothwell was at any rate no carpet knight; and the Queen was surrounded by enemies. She could not afford to add Bothwell to their number. But she was not blind to the possibility that for all his strength Bothwell might fail permanently to protect her against the fury of those who deemed her implicated in the murder of her husband. Her marriage with him must therefore be contrived in such a way as that, if it did not answer its purpose, she could repudiate him. She acquiesced in her capture by him on the way from Stirling to Edinburgh, and she parted from him on Carberry Hill for the same apparent reason: the desire to avoid bloodshed. In both cases she seems to have been guided by considerations of expediency. She had shown no such horror of bloodshed in 1565; and had Bothwell at Carberry Hill been confident of gaining the day, we may be sure she would not have deprecated the combat, but would have been eager to ride with him into the battle. She had surrendered to him in the hope that she might still find, as she had hitherto found him, good at need; and as soon as she discovered that he could not rally a force adequate to her defence, she, who had been reported to have professed herself ready to go to the end of the world with him, recognised that she and he must part. It is therefore evident that her passion for him has been grossly exaggerated by the gossip of the Court and the Conventicle. Her behaviour, indeed, rather resembles that of a cool and calculating adventuress conscious that she had now little to rely upon but her charms and her wits, and quite ready to discard the rude soldier whom she had fascinated as soon as she doubted his serviceableness (pp. 243, 249, infra; Teulet, Papiers d'État (Bann. Club), vol ii. pp. 177–8; Diurnal of Occurrents (Bann. Club), p. 114; Melville's Memoirs (1683), pp. 82–3).
The brief was apparently despatched on 30 July, 1571 (p. 451, infra), and may therefore have reached Scotland by the end of August. By that time, however, it was, as Papal procedures in regard to Scottish affairs were apt to be, too late; for Ridolfi's plot was already discovered.
Towards the close of 1568 the relations between England and Spain suddenly became seriously strained. A Spanish flotilla, consisting of a ship and a few cutters, laden with money and bound for the Netherlands, sought and obtained, on entering the Channel, English convoy for protection against the corsairs. The cutters lagged behind and put in, some at Fowey, others at Plymouth. The ship reached Southampton Water towards the middle of December, and was there boarded by Edward Horsey, Governor of the Isle of Wight, who relieved her of 59 chests of Spanish money consigned to a Genoese financial house at Antwerp. The ultimate consignee was probably the Duke of Alva, but he was not mentioned as such in the letters that accompanied the money. These letters were shown by Benedict Spinola, the representative at London of the Antwerp firm, to Cecil and by him to the Queen, who held that, having protected the money from the corsairs, she was entitled to retain it for a while for her own use, paying the consignees interest thereon. The Spanish ambassador, Don Guerau de Spes, wrote on 21 December to Alva reporting the seizure. The Duke lost no time in sending him a few lines asserting his title to the money; but it was in vain that Don Guerau explained the transaction to the Queen, and produced Alva's letter. She was affronted by Alva's curtness; and his claiming the money and claiming it in such a manner served but to confirm her in her resolution to retain it till her claim was satisfied. She therefore kept a tight grip not only on the money, but on the vessel, and caused the cutters at Fowey and Plymouth to be treated in the same way. The funds thus seized, which were estimated at upwards of 150,000 crowns, were eventually placed in the Tower (pp. 293–4, infra; Cal. State Papers, Foreign, 1569–71, p. 8; Spanish, 1568–79, pp. 90–104, 128–32).
Upon the assumption that Alva was entitled to the money, this breach of international comity would admit neither of defence nor of palliation unless the Queen had reason to believe that hostilities with Spain were imminent. Nor was such a supposition altogether unreasonable. There was resident at London a Florentine merchant, apparently a banker, Robert Ridolfi by name, who was in correspondence with the Pope, and from his letter of 18 April, 1569, printed on pp. 302–5, infra, it appears that a plot in favour of Queen Mary was not only hatched, but beginning to assume more or less definite shape as early as the summer of 1568. That before the close of the year Cecil should have got wind of the plot would accord well with the singular efficiency of his secret service department, in which case he would certainly be none too scrupulous in his choice of expedients to defeat it, among which the crippling of Alva's power to aid the insurgents would be not the least important.
However this may be, the immediate result was a war of embargos. Anticipating the Queen's decision, Alva, on the very day (29 December) on which his letter reached her hands, took retaliatory measures fully adequate to the occasion. Arrest was made of English shipping in the territorial waters, and of English merchants and their goods in all parts of the Netherlands. Don Guerau, who in London was generally supposed to have prompted this action, though he in his turn was probably inspired by Ridolfi, became in consequence so odious to the people that in confining him to his house Elizabeth did but enjoin what prudence dictated. She was at the time unrepresented at Madrid, for, resentful of Philip's treatment of Dr. Man, she had not deigned to nominate his successor. She therefore wrote to Philip complaining of the course taken by Alva, and trusting that he would not suffer what he might learn from Don Guerau and his ambassador in France to impair his confidence in her desire to keep the peace (18 January, 1569). At the same time, however, she ordered the arrest of all Spanish ships and subjects within her dominions or entering her ports, while she refused Alva's envoy, Councillor d'Assonleville an audience on the ground that he did not represent his sovereign. Cecil and other members of the Council, however, met d'Assonleville, and explained the Queen's position to him, which done, he received his passport and returned to the Netherlands (5 March). Philip, meanwhile, was following his proconsul's lead, and had laid an embargo on all ships bound for England in Spanish ports. In notifying Alva of this step (18 Feb.) he adverted to a suggestion which he had received from Don Guerau that the time was ripe for an invasion of England and the transference of the sceptre from Elizabeth to Mary, and authorized the Duke to take such action to that end as he might see fit (pp. 297–301, infra; Cal. State Papers, Foreign, 1569–71, pp. 9–15, 23–8; Spanish, 1568–79, pp. 99–111, 122–36).
On 6 April there was published at Antwerp a royal proclamation, based apparently on a draft by Ridolfi transmitted to Alva by Don Guerau, by which all commerce was prohibited between inhabitants of the Netherlands, whether natives or foreigners, and Englishmen, either directly or indirectly, on pain of confiscation of the goods and means of transport, the equipment of vessels for combat with corsairs was authorised, and policies of marine insurance were invalidated until further order. This step seemed to portend immediate hostilities; but until Mary's adherents were known to be on the point of rising, the time was hardly ripe for action on Alva's part; and meanwhile he resolved to make another effort to recover the money taken from the convoy. For this purpose he deemed it likely that a handsome bribe to Cecil and Leicester would suffice, and at Benedict Spinola's suggestion he commissioned Thomas Fiesco, a Genoese merchant resident in the Netherlands, to go to London and by this dexterous method recover the money. So to London in July Fiesco went, to find his mission impracticable, and enlighten the Duke as to the character of English statesmen (pp. 302, 310, infra; Cal. State Papers, Spanish, 1568–79, pp. 145, 171–2, 196, 206, 209, 220).
Thus at last Philip was reduced to despatch a pleni-potentiary to England. But his choice fell on the eminent strategist, Chiappino Vitelli, Marquis of Cetona, a man whose versatility may have been as singular as his corpulence, which made him one of the prodigies of the period, but whose powers seemed be wasted upon a pitiful question of detinue of ships and moneys. Moreover, it was with this matter alone that the Marquis was authorised to deal. He could discuss no question of counter-claim or set-off of any kind; and his appearance in England in October, 1569, was calculated to raise a suspicion that he was intended to serve a double turn, and in certain events might be called upon to act in a manner more in accordance with his antecedents. His reception by Elizabeth was therefore cold and discouraging. The discovery of the design to wed her greatest noble to the Queen of Scots, and the possibility or rather probability of widespread disaffection which it suggested, interested her more nearly than this question of the accord with Spain. She complained that Vitelli's powers were too limited; she would not treat with him unless account were to be taken of her subjects' grievances against Spain; and Vitelli therefore gave up the attempt to negotiate, and returned to the Netherlands (pp. 312–15, 319, infra; Cal. State Papers, Foreign, 1569–71, p. 152).
About that very time the Pope, doubtless at Ridolfi's suggestion, was writing to the Duke of Alva on behalf of the English malcontents (p. 314, infra).
The course was unusual, and Alva sent the brief to Philip, who showed offence that the Pope should have addressed the Duke on such a matter without first consulting his sovereign; but on second thoughts he condoned the indiscretion, and granted the insurgents a secret subsidy of 200,000 ducats (January, 1570, pp. 320, 323, infra). The Pope thereupon wrote to Alva, exhorting him to aid the insurgents to the best of his power, and to the Earls of Northumberland and Westmorland, notifying them that he had placed to their credit with Ridolfi such a sum of money as he could then afford, and hoped by and by to be more liberal (pp. 324–6, infra). But the Papal aid came too late. The Northern rebellion, precipitated by the arrest of Norfolk, had been suppressed, and its leaders had crossed the Scottish border.
Soon afterwards, without consulting Philip, the Pope launched his bull of excommunication against Queen Elizabeth (p. 328, infra). This step, which gave great offence alike to the King of Spain and to the Emperor, was designed to subserve the Ridolfian policy of suspension of commercial intercourse with England on the part of the Catholic countries.
Notwithstanding the failure of the Northern rebellion Queen Mary and her faithful adherents by no means lost hope. Their cause had still considerable strength in Scotland, particularly in the west. They had now the Pope heart and soul on their side; and the assassination of Moray (21 January, 1570) must have seemed to them a veritable judgment of the Almighty. Through her ambassador in England, John Leslie, Bishop of Ross, (fn. 31) the Queen was able to maintain relations with her friends at Paris and Rome, who were led to believe that France would at last espouse her cause in earnest, and land an army in Scotland. Dumbarton was provisionally selected as the objective of the expedition, and an emissary, Gartley by name, was provided with a passport through England to Scotland to discover if a descent might safely be made on the side of that fortress. The plot was, however, detected by Elizabeth's ambassador in Scotland, Thomas Randolph, and the Queen accordingly not only denied the Bishop of Ross further audience, but treated him, it would seem, as a hostage. At the same time she reinforced her army on the Scottish border, while an arrangement which she was making with the Genoese merchants, and negotiations which she had opened at Brussels for an accord with Spain (March, 1570), promised to take the wind out of Ridolfi's sails (pp. 325, 328–32, 337, infra).
The bull of excommunication had been published at London, 15 May, 1570, by nailing it to the door of the Bishop of London's palace, and had evoked great resentment, but otherwise had produced little or no effect. It was of far more consequence that it should be published abroad, particularly in France, Flanders, Spain and Portugal, so as, if possible, to bring about a general suspension of commerce with England. Ridolfi therefore wrote to the Pope (1 July) earnestly entreating him to do his utmost to procure its publication in those countries. Evidently, in the merchant's mind, faith was the handmaid of finance. The seizure of the Genoese merchants' moneys, for which there was still no redress, was but a a salient instance of England's offending. Far more serious was the deliberate policy, by which the corsairs of the Prince of Orange and the Queen of Navarre were not only allowed free play in English waters, but were actually harboured in English ports, where they disposed of their goods to such advantage that they were able to “make war in France and everywhere.” The spoils of the last two years alone were estimated at 4,000,000 of gold. No redress was to be had by diplomacy; and the sole remedy was to be found in the concerted suspension of commerce which should follow the publication of the bull in the Catholic countries; whereby England would for very lack of the means of subsistence speedily be compelled to make submission to the Holy See (p. 338, infra.)
But by this time the Catholic King was rather weary of this interminable English business. He complained that he had not been consulted before the standard of rebellion was, as he conceived, prematurely raised. He by no means relished being treated as a cipher in affairs of such moment; but to satisfy the Pope he was willing that henceforth their management should rest solely with him and the Duke of Alva (pp. 340–1, infra). He was also offended that he had received no copy of the bull from Rome, but had first heard of its existence from England; and as for suspension of commerce he deemed concerted action on the part of the Catholic Powers hardly to be hoped for, while without such concert he could not act (pp. 339–40, 350–51. Cf. 364, infra).
Alva received an early copy of the bull (p. 332, infra); but the Netherlands had already had only too much painful experience of the effects of suspension of commerce with England, and hopes were entertained of the accord, which the Duke was by no means disposed to disconcert. The bull was therefore the last thing likely to be published in the Netherlands.
Copies of this ill-fated document seem to have been despatched for publication in Poland (p. 335, infra); but if they reached their destination, it is hardly likely that in that land of liberum veto they would be published, or, if published, have any effect. From the Emperor the Pope received an unmistakable reprimand. See his admirable letter and the Pope's impenitent reply printed on pp. 354–5 and 375–6, infra.
Meanwhile the political situation in Europe was undergoing an apparent transformation. The removal in swift succession of two such champions of Protestantism as the Prince of Condé and the Earl of Moray led on the part of England to a politic appearance of cordiality towards France. The restoration of Queen Mary to the throne of Scotland was at any rate ostensibly contemplated, and the good offices of France in the negotiation were allowed if not invited (pp. 342, 343, infra). Ridolfi prophesied that the negotiations would prove “to be all words and vain hopes” (p. 349, infra); and the result amply vindicated his sagacity, for the terms of the draft treaty printed on pp. 355–9 infra were so humbling to the national pride of the Scots that its rejection by them was a foregone conclusion (pp. 363–4, infra).
The peace which France, breathing more freely since Condé's death, and loath to drive to desperation a still formidable faction, made with the Huguenots, 8 August, 1570, gave no little umbrage to Spain (p. 351, infra) but Philip's disgust did not retard, and may perhaps even have accelerated the progress of liberal ideas in France; for it was not long before devout Catholics were horrified to learn that a match between the Duke of Anjou and Queen Elizabeth was in negotiation, a match between the Lady Margaret and the Prince of Navarre in contemplation, and that the King had even made some Huguenots knights of the Order (pp. 428, 430, 441, 452, infra). There is still no reason to suppose that the match with the Duke of Anjou, which Lauri learned as early as September, 1570—the flirtation with the Archduke Charles was then nearing its end—to be already projected, and strongly advocated by the quondam Cardinal Châtillon, was seriously contemplated by Elizabeth. (fn. 32) The negotiation, however, served her turn by causing France to neglect the interests of the Queen of Scots, and forfeit the confidence of Spain and the Holy See. It was thus a valuable asset pending the Ridolfi plot, and its eventual abandonment left the relations between England and France still cordial (pp. 352, 403, 421, 428, 439–41, 445–59, infra).
France, moreover, was credited with having an understanding not only with the heretics at large but even with the Turks (p. 447, infra); and it is noticeable that, when the League of the Catholic Powers against those miscreants was mooted, France does not seem to have been invited, while the Emperor, who had just given a daughter to France, refused to join it (pp. 343, 362, 365, 369, infra).
Ridolfi, meanwhile, was as zealous as ever in the cause of the Queen of Scots. On 1 September, 1570, he wrote to the Pope, acquainting him that Mary's party in England, in despair of obtaining her release by negotiation were minded to take the field; and to that end were craving of the Duke of Alva aid in arms, munitions and money, upon receipt of which they undertook to liberate her and re-establish the Catholic religion in England. The scheme was approved by Don Guerau, who thought that if France co-operated in Scotland, there could be no reasonable doubt of success, especially as they counted on pecuniary aid from his Holiness. In the meantime he, Ridolfi, would himself finance the enterprise from his own pocket. With Alva's aid, the postponement of the accord with England, the publication of the bull on the Continent, the project could hardly miscarry. It was true, indeed, that effective co-operation between Mary's adherents was not easy, as they consisted of three contingents in the North, West and South respectively, separated from one another by Elizabeth's forces, while the discovery of the recent plot in Norfolk rendered it impossible to count on help from East Anglia. Nevertheless the sanguine Florentine deemed that there was every reason to believe that the enterprise would be crowned with success. He therefore took the nuncio at Paris into his confidence, and desired him to do his best with the Queen Mother to procure the immediate despatch to Scotland of a force of one thousand French soldiers.
Nothing was done either by France or Spain, but so critical was the situation felt to be that the dimensions of the fleets assembled by Alva to convoy and by Elizabeth to compliment the Queen of Spain on her passage through the narrow seas occasioned in Flanders no little anxious comment (pp. 341–9, 359, infra).
At this time in the mind of an English soldier of fortune, reputed to be a natural son of Henry VIII, but known as Thomas Stucley, who, by way of interlude in a life spent mostly in the Spanish service in the Netherlands or in roving the high seas, had interested himself in the plantation of Ireland, and obtained royal grants of lands and jurisdictions in Carlow and Wexford, on the strength of which he gave himself out as Duke of Leinster, (fn. 33) there was ripening a grand scheme for the Spanish conquest of that country.
The condition of the island was deplorable. It was ten years since Pope Pius IV had sent the Jesuit David Wolf thither to do what might be done to repair the devastation wrought by Tudor misgovernment (p. 25, infra); and Wolf's reports to Rome, evincing as they do that the country was in danger of losing with its religion all respect for law, positive or moral, are such as abundantly to justify the Pope's action (pp. 48–50, infra; cf. pp. 467–8, 481, infra).
The English government, however, saw or affected to see in Wolf but a sedition-monger (p. 37, infra); and in the spring of 1568 the Nuncio at Madrid received intelligence that both he and the Archbishop of Armagh were in prison. The sole offence of the Primate appears to have been the reception of the pallium at Rome; and warned by his fate the Archbishop of Cashel, who was in pari delicto, but was not yet resident in Ireland, resolved to postpone his return until he had done his best through the King of Spain to procure the release of the Primate and the Jesuit and his own immunity from similar treatment. The nuncio, notwithstanding that he discerned in the prelate “no inordinate desire to expose himself to the risk of martyrdom,” succeeded in so interesting the King in the matter that he wrote to his ambassador in London bidding him take it up warmly. Pending the result, the Archbishop of Cashel was relegated to one of the ports nearest to Ireland with a largesse of 500 crowns and a promise of more at his departure (pp. 269–73, infra).
De Silva, however, with more frankness than discretion, warned Philip that his intercession would be more prejudicial than otherwise to the cause of the sufferers, and intimated that the Pope had been ill-advised in openly sending prelates to a country in which no good could be done except by cryptic procedures. He was therefore recalled, and his successor, Don Guerau de Spes, received express instructions to exert himself to the utmost of his power on behalf of the Primate and the Jesuit (pp. 274, 278, 280, 282, 285, infra). Don Guerau quitted Madrid towards the end of July, and on his arrival in England in the autumn doubtless did his office on behalf of the sufferers with zeal and spirit, but apparently to no effect; and during the subsequent war of embargos their cause, if remembered, would almost certainly be deferred to a more convenient season.
Among the Spanish ports nearest to Ireland was Vivero in Galicia, and there early, it would seem, in April, 1570, arrived Thomas Stucley (fn. 34) in a good ship, and there in all probability he found the Archbishop of Cashel, and apprised him of his project, as also of a circumstance that stood sadly in his way, to wit, that he was excommunicated for having in Ireland outwardly conformed to the Protestant religion. At any rate, Stucley and the Archbishop were together at Madrid in September, 1570, when the one laid before the nuncio, and the other attested, a memorial setting forth his manner of life in Ireland, professing penitence and craving absolution. The cautious nuncio sent the memorial to Rome for the Pope's decision, which was to the effect that absolution should not be granted. Stucley had upon his arrival in Spain submitted his project to the King, who with his habitual caution had kept him in play while he made inquiries as to his antecedents. Thus six months elapsed before Stucley was accorded his first audience. Philip, however, then treated him with great distinction, and listened attentively to his alternative projects, the conquest of Ireland, or the destruction of the English fleet in territorial waters. Neither scheme, however, commended itself to the King's sober judgment. Ireland, if acquired, would have been a mere encumbrance to him, for its defence would have been a matter of extreme difficulty and cost. His policy was still peace with England at almost any price, and the long deferred accord was now, it seemed, at last to be concluded. He could not sacrifice it to sink or burn ships in the Thames or Plymouth Sound. Should it after all come to nought, there might perhaps be employment for Stucley. Meanwhile he offered him an honourable post in the Duchy of Milan, or Flanders, or a pension, and when all three offers were declined, dubbed him knight, defrayed his expenses during his sojourn in Spain, and adopted his son (pp. 353–4, 366, 374, 376–86, infra).
Ridolfi's plans promised better than Stucley's, and received more serious attention. He quitted England late in March, 1571, with credentials from Mary and Norfolk to the Pope, and a scheme which, though it must first receive the Papal benison, depended, of course, for its successful execution entirely upon its adoption by Philip. The requirements of the conspirators were moderate. Six thousand arquebusiers landed by stealth at Harwich or Portsmouth with 4,000 arquebuses, 2,000 corslets, 25 pieces of field artillery, and all necessary munitions of war, to be speedily followed by 3,000 horse, were deemed sufficient under a competent general appointed by Philip to effect, with the help of the insurgent Catholics, the conquest of England; and at the cost of other 4,000 men, it was thought, Ireland and Scotland could also be subdued (pp. 396–7, infra). But though the outlay was trifling compared with the end to be attained, Ridolfi knew enough of Philip's character to be none too confident that the project, though blessed by the Pope, would be readily adopted by him, and at Brussels he tarried awhile and took the Duke of Alva into his counsels. That politic statesman affected some slight interest in the affair, asked whether the port where the descent was to be made was suitable for the purpose, and bade Ridolfi God-speed, promising that, if the project was sanctioned by the King, he would do his best. On parting from Alva, Ridolfi fell in with Charles Bailly, a servant of the Bishop of Ross, by whose hand he transmitted a letter to the Bishop, and to whom he also communicated the result of his interview with Alva. He had better have kept his own counsel, for he had attracted the attention of one of Burghley's spies, so that Bailly had no sooner landed at Dover than he was arrested, and forthwith taken to London and put to the torture, which drew from him part of what Ridolfi had told of what had passed between him and Alva. But such was the fortitude of the servant that, when the ordeal was over, Burghley told him that he had not confessed so much as he already knew about the matter. His succinct record of the examination, with a few words added to show that he had not readily yielded, of which a translation from a Spanish version will be found on pp. 408–10, infra, is a human document of no small interest.
Meanwhile, Ridolfi sped on his way to Rome, where on 5 May he was accredited by the Pope to King Philip (p. 407 infra). He arrived at Madrid on 28 June, and at once wrote in a sanguine strain to Queen Mary and the Duke of Norfolk, and with more reserve to the Bishop of Ross (pp. 431–3 infra). But before Ridolfi's arrival the King had heard of the discovery of the plot, and by and by tidings came in of Bailly's arrest with four of Ridolfi's cipher letters upon his person, of their decipherment, of the ignominious confirmation of their substance by the Bishop of Ross under menace of torture, of Queen Mary's composed denial of knowledge of any such plot or any such person as Ridolfi, of the subjection of the Duke of Norfolk and the Earl of Arundel to strict surveillance, and finally of the discovery in genere of the conspirators' design and plan of action (pp. 435–6, 439–40, 448, 453–4, infra).
The plot was thus to all intents and purposes defunct, killed by the signal efficiency of Burghley's intelligence department. That Philip knew that the game was now up admits of no reasonable doubt; but as Catholic King he had a character to maintain. The Pope had espoused the plot with fanaticism, not to say with frenzy; and its futility must therefore be allowed to dawn gradually upon him. The King's principal anxiety was to prevent the conspirators from making any rash move, and to that effect he wrote to Don Guerau as early as 17 July (p. 445, infra). As he had previously written to Alva, he reserved his decision until he had learned the Duke's mind, though he must have known that, if the scheme was to wait on Alva's approval, it would be adjourned sine die. Meanwhile he entrusted pro forma the command of the expedition to Chiappino Vitelli. The Marquis departed for Flanders in August, not it would seem with much belief in the scheme, but glad to have an opportunity of solacing his Holiness (p. 454, infra), and was followed in September by Ridolfi, who by dint of “painful exertion” reached Brussels about the end of that month (pp. 458, 463, infra). He found Alva, though apparently but imperfectly apprised of the discovery of the plot, extremely loath to move until he was reassured, loath indeed, it seemed, to take action at all in the matter. Apparently Don Guerau, in the interest of the plot, had obstructed the negotiation of the accord which Alva was bent on arranging as speedily as possible; for there had been grave differences between the Duke and the ambassador, and neither directly nor indirectly would he discuss the plot either with Don Guerau or the Bishop of Ross, or indeed with any one (pp. 450–1, 464–5, infra).
In these circumstances Ridolfi fairly despaired of the business for the time being, and suggested the supersession of Alva by the Duke of Medina Celi, and his own immediate recall (pp. 465–6, infra). On 19 November, it was reported at Rome that he had arrived at Florence (p. 472, infra).
Medina Celi was already designated for office in the Netherlands, but Philip preferred to leave the English business in Alva's hands; and it was not until after the plot was known to have been completely divulged (pp. 467, 469, 471, 473, infra) that the new governor was allowed to enter upon his duties (June, 1572).
Among the heroes of Lepanto who repaired to Rome when the great fight was done was Sir Thomas Stucley, intent on obtaining the Pope's sanction and aid for his still meditated crusade in Ireland, and also Papal confirmation of his titles to his “States” in that country. He appears to have made a favourable impression on the Pontiff, who, however, was prevented from embracing the scheme by lack of adequate funds, and from confirming the titles by doubt whether, in the event of the conquest of the island, the King of Spain might not have pretensions incompatible with Stucley's claim. The unfortunate adventurer was therefore once more disappointed (pp. 474–5, infra).
Pending the negotiation for the match between Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Anjou, Cardinal Alessandrino was sent to Spain and Portugal on a legation which, having proved a failure in Portugal, was extended to France in order that he might, if possible, provide the Duke of Anjou with a daughter of Spain and save the Lady Margaret from the proposed alliance with a heretic (pp. 428, 435, 446, 477–81, infra (fn. 35) ; Eubel, Hierarch. Cath. Med. Æv., vol. iii. p. 47).
Nor was Alessandrino's mission limited to matters matrimonial. The Catholic League had done Christendom signal service at Lepanto; and it seemed a pity that its sword should rust while the Church had foes of her own household to contend with. In regard to this matter his Holiness and the Catholic King were agreed (p. 471, infra); but beyond that there was nothing certain; and thus the year closed inauspiciously amid rumours of a coalition between England, France and the Protestant States of Germany for common defence against the Catholic League (pp. 475, 480, infra).