Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 1, 1558-1567. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1892.
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No period of equal length has ever been more important for the future of England than the first nine years of the reign of Elizabeth covered by the correspondence published in the present volume. The country was weak, divided and defenceless, ready apparently to fall a prey to one of the two great continental rivals who sought to dominate it. Catholics apprehensive and resentful, Protestants bitter and aggressive, were ready to fly at each other's throats, and Englishmen as a whole had no standard or rallying point where a common ground of patriotism might be found. Nothing but the consummate statesmanship of the great Queen, unless indeed we add her marvellous good fortune, would have been able successfully to play off one against the other the two European powers which alone England had to fear. Their jealousy of each other and the peculiar idiosyncracies of their respective rulers were taken advantage of to the full by Elizabeth from the very first day of her reign, and whilst the well understood characteristics of her antagonists led to their policies being more or less continuous and consistent and so capable of being combated with comparative ease, her own fickleness and vacillation which under other circumstances would have been ruinous, were really so many points in her favour. Grim and subtle statesmen like Alba, de Granvelle and Philip himself playing their great game with far reaching insight and on certain fixed principles of conduct, were utterly thrown out of their calculations, outwitted over and over again by a young woman's apparently purposeless vagaries. When according to all accepted canons she should have taken a certain course, their deep calculations were apt to be thrown out of gear by her flying off at a tangent on a totally different tack and violating all the rules of the game. Elizabeth's own ministers were often as much at a loss to follow or understand the meaning of her varying moods as were her rivals. Strong and steadfast Cecil, even heartsick of her changeful frivolity, was many times on the point of laying down his heavy burden in despair. The letters in the present volume abound with references which prove that the keen diplomatists who served the wily Philip were far more puzzled by the Queen's weakness than by her strength, and that the signal success that attended her policy, the splendid achievement of welding England into a united nation capable of withstanding the world in arms was not effected by Elizabeth's statecraft alone, great as that was, but also by the aid of the very qualities which her contemporaries looked upon as her principal reproach. The foreign series of State Papers of the period in the Public Record Office, calendars of which have been published under the editorship of Mr. Stevenson, enable us to see the hand of one of the parties to the game, so far as the Queen's constant changes allow it to be reflected in official documents, and glimpses have been afforded at the hands of the other players by the publication of the Granvelle papers, Gachard's correspondence of Philip II. relative to the Netherlands, the researches of MM. Teulct and Mignet, and the various extracts from the correspondence contained in the present volume, which have through various channels reached English readers. The first attempt to lay before the public this important portion of the vast mass of historical documents housed in the Castilian village of Simancas was made 60 years ago by the publication of the seventh volume of the "Memorias de la Real Academia de la Historia—Madrid 1832," in which Don Tomas Gonzales, Canon of Plasencia, gave a kind of slight summary of some of the principal letters ranging from 1558 to 1576. (fn. 1) There was no attempt at completeness and neither the letters chosen nor the portions summarised were those which in all cases are of the greatest service in the elucidation of the facts interesting to English readers, but such as it was Señor Gonzales' book proved of important service for some years to the historians of the time who found in it a previously unused source of information, and largely availed themselves of it. Mr. Froudc made the next step in advance by having a large number of copies and extracts made from the original correspondence at Simancas for the purpose of his history, and the letters of bishop Quadra particularly have been used by him very largely as a basis of his narrative of events. The numerous extracts from the correspondence scattered in notes through the pages of Mr. Froude's history, divorced as they necessarily were from their context, only accentuated the need for historical students to have the text itself before them, in order that they might form their own judgment as to its contents. An opportunity was afforded for this by the publication in Madrid in 1886 and subsequently under subsidy from the Spanish Government of volumes 87, 89, 90, 91 and 92 of the "Documentos ineditos para la historia de España" containing the correspondence of Philip II. with his Ambassadors at the court of England from 1558 to 1584. I was honoured with the commission from the Master of the Rolls to prepare and edit a condensed version of these important State papers for the use of English students, but it soon became evident to me that so little care and knowledge had been exercised by the Spanish editors in the preparation of the volumes that much collation and correction would have to be done before any trustworthy result could be attained. In many cases the names could only be ascertained by an elaborate process of deduction ; several important letters are ascribed to incorrect dates, and even to wrong years, and it has not apparently been considered necessary that a letter should convey any connected sense or meaning, so that the transcribers and compositors between them seem to have had a free hand, with such a result as might be expected. Although I have done my best under the circumstances to render the present edition as trustworthy as possible, I cannot hope that it will be entirely free from blemishes. I have carefully compared the Spanish text where doubtful with Mr. Froude's extracts and copies and with transcripts of many of the letters in the British Museum, and in numerous cases I have filled gaps in the continuity of the Spanish correspondence by letters from Philip's Flemish agents who were sent over from time to time to assist his Spanish Ambassadors in the settlement of questions concerning Flanders. Where this has been done reference is given in the margin indicating where the transcripts I have used may be found, but it will be seen that the additional correspondence thus introduced has been confined entirely to the letters of the special Flemish envoys already mentioned and to certain Spanish letters which for some reason or other have been omitted by the Spanish editors, but of which transcripts from Simancas were obtainable. The letters contained in the present volume extend from the accession of Elizabeth in November 1558 to the end of the year 1567, and comprise the correspondence of the Count de Feria, of Alvaro de la Quadra bishop of Aquila and a portion of that of Diego Guzman de Silva. In this correspondence the innermost working of the tortuous Spanish policy of the period is for the first time laid bare. It must be confessed that a careful perusal of it does not tend to raise our opinion of Philip's statesmanship. Over and over again in the course of the correspondence there are junctures arrived at when only a little boldness was wanting on his part to place England and all Europe in his hands. The blow was never struck. His faithful emissaries one after the other wore their hearts out in beseeching him to accept the offers of the English Catholics, to strike a deadly blow at the reformed religion by making common cause with the Guises, or by boldly marrying his son Carlos to the widowed Mary Stuart and favouring her claim to the English crown, to take up one of the other numerous claimants, to force the Archduke's marriage with Elizabeth, to help the Irish rebels, in fact to do anything which would have won him the game. The majority of the English nobles were in his pay and interest, the common people out of London and the southern counties would have welcomed any ruler who would ensure them the peaceful enjoyment of the Catholic religion and freedom from molestation in their daily lives. But whilst with the English Catholics their religion was their principal object and motive, Philip, for all his professed devotion, looked upon it mainly as a means to other ends. So he delayed and procrastinated, doubted and temporised, whilst one opportunity after another was lost and the consolidation of England went on until after thirty years of sluggish hesitancy he took the plunge and found to his dismay that he had to face a united nation under a mature and popular sovereign instead of a broken and divided people under a new and doubtfully legitimate Queen. The Ambassador in whose letters the feeling of impatience and disgust at the King's inaction are most plainly expressed is the Count de Feria. His high rank and his kinship with Philip allowed him to speak of and to him with a freedom which his succcessors dared not emulate. Of all the train of gallant nobles, the flower of Castile and Aragon, who accompanied Philip to England in July 1554 to espouse his elderly bride, one of the most splendid and fastuous was Don Gomez Suarez de Figueroa, Count de Feria, an especial favourite of his royal relative, and who was appointed by Philip to be a member of his Council on his accession to the throne. High were the hopes of the Spaniards of all ranks who came over with the new King. England they had been told was in future to belong to Spain, and they bore themselves before and during the journey more like a victorious host going to take possession of their conquest than a marriage party. But they promptly found out their mistake ; as soon as they arrived in Southampton water English distrust and dislike made itself felt. Philip thought it prudent to allow no one to land from the fleet but his nobles and a few of their servants, so the soldiers and sailors remained cooped up in their ships till they got mutinous and then were packed off to Portsmouth and thence to Flanders. On shore things were still worse ; scowls and black looks greeted the Spaniards everywhere. In London none would give them houseroom but the City guilds who were obliged to do so, Spanish nobles of high rank were insulted and robbed in broad daylight in the streets, and most of them made haste to shake the dust of the ungrateful country from their feet and went to fight the French in Flanders. But those who went and those who stayed were bitterly chagrined. They wrote indignant letters to Spain inveighing against the barbarians who were so impious as to regard monarchs as mere puppets to be governed by the Council, and who openly dared to say that all they wanted Philip for was to engender a son and then he might go about his business, and good riddance, for he should never rule in England. The hatred and scorn of the proud Spaniards at the insults to which they were subjected and their disappointment to find that they were no more masters of England than before the King made the great sacrifice of marrying the Queen were all the more intense because they were forced to keep a smiling face and suffer in silence. But they nursed their wrath to keep it warm, and Feria, haughtiest and most overbearing of them all, hated England and Englishmen with a fierce intensity which constantly blazes out in his letters. He had married Jane Dormer, one of Queen Mary's maids of honour, a daughter of Sir William Dormer of Ethrope and a niece of Sir Henry Sidney, and after accompanying Philip to Flanders had been again sent over to London in January 1558 to advise Mary as to the course she should take respecting the loss of Calais and to congratulate her on her supposed pregnancy. He had apportioned to him as a residence Durham Place in the Strand, one of the principal royal houses, and also had apartments in the palace as if he had been an English privy councillor, and even thus early, although he appeared to be almost paramount in the Queen's counsels and practically did as he liked, he breaks out constantly in his letters in impatient and scornful denunciations of English institutions, the Councillors and even of the Queen herself, which prove notwithstanding all that has been said to the contrary how far he was from understanding England or Englishmen. From all his letters at this period there stands forth with infinite pathos the figure of Mary herself, weak of body, sick at heart and infirm of purpose, swayed this way and that, now by Cardinal Pole, now by her Councillors and now by Feria of whom she was afraid. Calais lost, Guines surrendered, the treasury empty, the Scotch frontier defenceless, the southern coast open to the enemy and her people sullen almost to mutiny at having to support an unpopular and unfortunate war, the poor Queen's one hope in the world seems to be the coming of her consort. The principal object of Feria's mission early in 1558 was to urge upon Mary and her Council the need for promptly raising a fleet to defend the coasts and for the muster of an army to guard the Scotch marches. Ratcliff, earl of Sussex had an idea that the English gentry might be ordered to bring a force of horse for the Queen's service, but Mary knew better and told Feria that all the gentry together would not furnish 100 horsemen and as many foot, whereupon Feria was confirmed in his previously expressed opinion that Sussex was a liar and a knave, and says he wonders what he (Philip) saw in the fellow to fall in love with him as he did. Feria worked upon the fears of Mary and the Council by stories of a league of the Hanse towns and Denmark against them and an attack projected upon the Isle of Wight from Dieppe, which he knew to be false, and at last frightened them into ordering 500 horse and 3,000 foot to be raised in Germany and an English fleet to be collected in all haste. But, after large sums of money had been spent on them both, the infantry and the fleet were used for Philip's service, although Feria admits that if four French ships were to land men on the coast the whole nation would be overturned. Nothing can exceed the Ambassador's scorn at the cumbrous way of obtaining supplies from Parliament. He was for ever worrying the Queen to find some quicker and more abundant way of supplying the wants of the nation, or what is more probable the needs of his master. In vain they told him that the sum voted was the largest amount ever granted to an English sovereign by Parliament, and the Queen praised the willingness and loyalty with which it had been voted. Feria could not understand so much circumlocution in obtaining funds from subjects, and made no attempt to disguise his scorn for such methods and for the ineptitude of Councillors who knew no better. Paget came to him one day to say that if he were allowed a larger share in the management of the Queen's affairs he would soon set matters right. He knew of a way, he said, to raise 800,000 crowns at once. But it all ended in smoke. Paget's device as might be expected was one of those fashionable under his old master Henry VIII.—a benevolence—but impossible now, and he was laughed at by the Councillors. Then they tell Feria that. Gresham is to go to Antwerp, as they have arranged to borrow 100,000l. there and 60,000l. in London. When Gresham arrives in Flanders he can only get 10,000l., and Feria writes in hot scorn and indignation and advises Philip to punish Gresham for not going to Brussels to see him before doing the business and for misleading them as to the amount.
On the 10th March 1558, Feria writes : "I have not written before for I am at my wit's end, God knows, what to do with these people. From morning to night and from night to morning they are changing their minds in everything and it is impossible to make them understand the position they are in, the worst surely in which a people ever were. If it were only for them, I should like to see them fall into the hands of those who would treat them as they deserve, but I am "afraid they would drag us down with them. The Queen says she does all she can, and really her will is good and her heart stout, but everything else is wrong."
Even thus early, months before Mary's fatal illness, the star of Elizabeth is clearly in the ascendant.
When the maladroit Swedish Ambassador came in May with an offer from Prince Eric for Elizabeth's hand and delivered to the Princess a letter from his master before mentioning the matter to the Queen, Mary's great distress and trouble for fear Philip should blame her for failing to compel her sister to marry the duke of Savoy as Philip wished in the previous year, touch even Feria. She is somewhat tranquillised by Elizabeth's answer that she does not wish to marry, and Feria expresses an opinion that this distress was one of the causes of her miscarriage, concluding by these words : "In short, Sire, I believe that her Majesty will not do anything to prevent her (Elizabeth) from being Queen if God do not send your Majesty children." A fortnight later Feria again returns to the subject, and writing on the 18th May 1558 says : "I wrote to your Majesty that I did not go to see Madam Elizabeth when I arrived because my only means then of successfully carrying through the business about which I came was to obtain the goodwill of the Queen, and I did not think well to disturb her, particularly as I had no special instructions from your Majesty. I have since sent however to excuse myself to Madam Elizabeth by the Admiral's wife who was brought up with her and is her close friend, saying that after she left, a courier had arrived from your Majesty with orders for me to visit her on your behalf. I had already told Paget to make my excuses to her but I do not believe he did so as the Admiral's wife told me that on his asking Madam Elizabeth whether I had been to see her and being told "that I had not he simply expressed surprise and nothing else. Both Figueroa and I think that the matter should not be left in this way, but that I ought to go and visit her before I leave. She is twenty miles from London. Your Majesty knows the whole of the circumstances, and if you think I should go it will be necessary for you to write to the Queen."
The proposed visit to Elizabeth at Hatfield was paid at the end of June, but Feria did not trust the details to paper. The object of his coming to England had been effected. He had frightened the Council into raising a fleet which had been placed at Philip's disposal ; he had worried the Queen and her advisers into borrowing every penny that could be obtained both in Antwerp and London ; Mary's hope of progeny had disappeared and her illness and melancholy daily increased, so Feria started for Brussels in July, at the urgent request of his master, who was very anxious, as he says, to hear by word of mouth all that had passed.
Dassonleville, one of Philip's Flemish Council, remained in London, and on the 10th October reported that the Queen was then better than she had been since the commencement of her malady, but on the 7th November he wrote an important letter saying that Parliament had just met to discuss the then pending negotiations for peace and the succession to the throne in case of the Queen's death, which was then understood to be approaching. He says how beneficial it would be for Philip himself to be present in order to bend the Parliament to his will, but that if the King cannot come he urges the despatch of the Count de Feria to England as "it is clear that this country cannot stand without an alliance with Flanders against its natural enemies the French and Scotch, although the common people do not understand it yet. "so full are they of projects for marrying Madam Elizabeth to the carl of Arundel or someone else." He says that ill as the Queen is vulgar rumour makes her out to be even worse, which he fears will make the French more obstinate about the restoration of Calais. Disturbances may occur in the country at any moment. The important part of Dassonleville's letter however is a hurriedly written postcript as follows : "Continuant l'indisposition de la Royne ceulx du conseil d'ici le jour d'hier out remonstré a S. M. plusieurs choses pour l'enchyre de faire quelques declarations favourables pour Madame Elizabeth touchant la succession du Royaulmc. De manière que sa diet Majesté si est accordée et s'envoyent de la part de S. M. et du conseil les controleurs et maitre des rolles demain matin vers la dicte dame luy declairer que la Royne est tres bien contente qu'elle luy succede s'il advient qu'elle décede, la requerant entre aultres de deux choses l'une qu'elle voculle maintenir l'ancienne religion comme S. M. lá restituée, la seconde payer les debites qu'elle deleisera. Et les attendon incontinent de retour donct nai volu leiser a ceste heure par ce courier partant incontinent advertir V. M. ensamble que jurnellement de plus en plus l'on craint la fin de ceste malladie."
On the day this postscript was written, Feria was already hurrying post haste from Brussels to London, where he arrived two days afterwards, on the 9th November 1558. The Queen was partially unconscious and unable to read the letter he brought from her absent husband, but as Feria says, "always in the fear of God and love of Christianity." The Ambassador did not lose much time however over his dying mistress, but called the Council together and approved in Philip's name the choice of Elizabeth as the Queen's successor, and then at once took horse the same day and again visited the coming Queen at Hatfield. Here the long duel in which Elizabeth was eventually to come off victorious began. So long as Feria confined himself to courteous commonplace, she answered him in the same spirit, but as soon as he began to patronise her and hint that she owed her coming crown to the intervention and support of Philip she stopped him at once and said that she would owe it only to her people. She was equally firm and queenly when Feria hinted at her marriage with her Spanish brother-in-law, and all through the interview showed a determination to hold her own and to resist all attempts to place her in the tutelage of Philip.
At this point the letters in the present volume commence and the confusion which reigned during the first few days of the great transition are vividly described by Feria. "Things are in such a hurly-burly and confusion that fathers do not know their own children" "If she decides to marry out of the country, she will at once fix her eyes on your Majesty, although some of them are sure to pitch upon the Archduke Ferdinand. I am not sure of all this but only conjecture. I hope your Majesty will pardon the disorder and confusion of my letters, for things here are going on in such a way that it is quite impossible to get enlightened on anything, and if I wrote everything she and they say I should never end. Really this country is more fit to be dealt with sword in hand than by cajolery, for there are neither funds nor soldiers nor heads nor forces, and yet it is overflowing with every other necessary of life."
Feria's hatred of Englishmen blazes out even in this first letter after the Queen's death, and whilst railing about the falseness of the dead Cardinal Pole, the ingratitude of "that scurvy Lord Chamberlain Hastings" and the rest of the Council "who are all as ungrateful to your Majesty "as if they have never received anything from your hands," he yet suggests that the Queen must be married to a husband of Philip's choosing, and that wholesale bribery must be resorted to in order to bring this about. It very soon became clear to the Ambassador that he had to deal with a very different set of people from those who surrounded Mary. Instead of being allowed to bully the Queen and Counsellors, as he had done in the previous reign, he found himself an object of suspicion. "I am trying to get a chamber in the palace when she goes to Whitehall, although I am very much afraid they will not give me one, but I have little chance of getting to talk to these people from the outside, and they are so suspicious of me that not a man amongst them dares to speak to me." "They are all very glad to be free of your Majesty, as if you had done harm instead of very much good, and although in all my letters to your Majesty I have said how small a party you have here, I I am never satisfied that I have said enough to describe things as they really are. As I am so isolated from them, I am much embarrassed and confused to devise means of finding out what is going on, for truly they run away from me as if I were the devil. The best thing will be to get my foot into the palace so as to speak oftener to the Queen, as she is a woman who is very fond of argument." But Elizabeth was quite shocked at the idea of giving an apartment in her palace to a man who might represent a possible suitor for her hand, and Feria had to content himself by taking every opportunity of playing upon the Queen's vanity and jealousy of her dead sister to prevent her from marrying a subject or indeed making a match less brilliant than Mary had done. For all his suave exterior and soft words, he soon recognised that his pride and arrogance made him too impatient fittingly to deal with the new Queen and her Councillors, indeed Elizabeth herself said that he was too proud and knew too much to stay there, and he confessed to the King that it was useless for him to try and cajole them without money, and even then he must have someone by his side more facile than himself "as I am a bad hand at negotiating without a tender." So he asked the King to send him the bishop of Aquila to help him. Of all possible instruments probably the Bishop was the very best that could have been chosen. Supple, patient, insinuating and unscrupulous, "a clever and crafty old fox," as Bishop Jewel calls him, (fn. 2) he was the type of the ecclesiastical diplomatist that especially suited Philip's cautious, stealthy methods, at a time when religion and politics were almost interchangeable words. Thenceforward for nearly five years Alvaro de la Quadra, bishop of Aquila, was a foremost factor in English politics, until heartbroken and worn out by Philip's procrastination and neglect of opportunities he was left to die in debt and poverty in a foreign land by the master he had tried to serve so well.
The tone of Feria's letters in the present volume would seem to prove that Philip can hardly have been such a terror to his intimates as history has usually represented him. We know it is true that he could strike swiftly and relentlessly whilst he smiled at his victim, as most of his favourites one after the other found to their cost when it was too late. But Feria makes no attempt to soften the unpalatable truths he has to tell, and blurts out the tale of Philip's unpopularity and all the London gossip about him with the thinnest veneer of ceremony. He gives his advice to his sovereign too in a blunt and peremptory way, and uses familiar and jocose expressions in his letters to the King in a manner which indicates that the relations between them were as much those of friends as of sovereign and subject. The most curious part of this is, however, the startling frankness and hardly veiled contempt of which he speaks of Philip in his letters to third persons, particularly after his return to Flanders. It is quite a revelation to see when the veil is lifted, as it is in Feria's friendly letters to the Bishop, that the King was not by any means a sphinx-like hero to his friends, but that his indolence, his timidity and his procrastination were roundly condemned by them. A good specimen of Philip's halting and tentative policy is his letter (No. 8.) instructing Feria to propose his marriage to the Queen (10th January 1559). As will have been seen, the matter had been hinted at even before Mary's death and at intervals ever since had been approached indirectly by Feria in his interviews with the Queen. From the spirited way in which she met these advances, it should have been clear that she would accept no man as a husband, however high his position, unless he came as a suitor, and that she herself would not bate one jot of her kingship for the greatest match in Christendom. And yet Philip seems to have thought that he only had graciously to consent and to dictate his own terms for England once more to saddle herself with him ; a belief which it is difficult to understand in the face of Feria's outspoken letters to him. Philip intimates his willingness to make the sacrifice in the following words : "As regards myself, if they should broach the subject to you, you should treat it in such a way as neither to accept nor reject the business altogether. It is a matter of such grave importance that it was necessary for me to take counsel and maturely consider it in all its bearings before I sent you my decision. Many great difficulties present themselves, and it is difficult for me to reconcile my conscience to it, as I am obliged to reside in my other dominions and consequently could not be much in England, which is apparently what they fear, and also because the Queen has not been sound on religion, and it would not look well for me to marry her unless she were a Catholic. Besides this, such a marriage would appear like entering upon a perpetual war with France, seeing the claims that the queen of Scots has to the English crown. The urgent need for my presence in Spain ... and the heavy expense I should be put to in England by reason of the costly entertainment necessary to the people there, together with the fact that my treasury is so utterly exhausted as to be unable to meet the necessary ordinary expenditure ... bearing in mind these and many other difficulties no less grave ... I nevertheless cannot lose sight of the enormous importance of such a match to Christianity and the preservation of religion which has been restored in England by the help of God. Seeing also the importance that the country should not fall back into its former errors which would cause to our neighbouring dominions serious dangers and difficulties, I have decided to place on one side all other considerations which might be urged against it and am resolved to render this service to God and offer to marry the Queen of England and will use every possible effort to carry this through if it can be done on the conditions that will be explained to you. The first and most important is that you should satisfy yourself that the Queen will profess the same religion as I do, which is the same "that I shall ever hold, and that she will persevere in the same and uphold it in the country, and with this end will do all that may appear necessary to me. She will have to obtain secret absolution from the Pope and the necessary dispensation, so that when I marry her she will be a Catholic, which she has not hitherto been. In this way it will be evident and manifest that I am serving the Lord in marrying her and that she has been converted by my act." (No. 8.)
In the meanwhile the religious innovations that were being made, although far from satisfying the reforming party, were deeply disturbing the Catholics and alarming Philip, who after submitting the case to Alba, Ruy Gomez and de Granvelle took the extreme course of instructing Feria to forcibly press upon the Queen the need of preventing changes in religious affairs for her own sake if for no other. He is to arouse her suspicion of the heretics, as they are known to cling to the French, and is told even to threaten her that if any religious changes are allowed she must abandon all hope of marriage with Philip. Feria saw how little his King realised the true state of affairs in England and did not venture to breathe a word about religion to the Queen whilst the marriage question was pending. He does not indeed seem to have pressed the marriage question very eagerly, as it must have been evident to him on the spot that a match saddled with such conditions as those imposed by Philip would be impossible. When he found the Queen harping on her usual string of disinclination to marry, he refused to take an answer at all unless it were a favourable one, and practically dropped the negotiation, for which want of persistence Elizabeth taunted Feria and his successors for years after whenever the matter was mentioned. It must of course have been evident to her, as it was to Feria, that such a match was impossible for her, but it certainly would have suited her to keep the matter afoot for a time, as a means of obtaining better terms from the French in the peace negotiations. Philip himself, completely exhausted by the war, had settled by means of his commissioners at Chateau Cambresis the terms of a peace, but Mary's death and the consequent expiry of the commissions given to her representatives at the congress had caused delay with regard to England's part of the arrangement. It was impossible for England to carry on the war alone, and although Philip for diplomatic reasons forbore to make a separate peace he instructed Feria over and over again to assure the Queen and Council that if peace could not be concluded without abandoning the demands for the restitution of Calais, then Calais must go. It was a bitter pill for Elizabeth to swallow thus early, and it must be confessed that if diplomacy and finesse could have preserved the town for England it would have been kept. Whilst Philip, who had settled his own affairs with the French months before, was holding out for his English allies and certainly doing his best to minimise the French demands, the English Queen was secretly negotiating with France for a separate peace which should leave the Spaniards in the lurch. Guido Cavalcanti went secretly backwards and forwards treating of peace and of marriage, bearing draft treaties and love tokens, but secret as he was, hidden in Elizabeth's palace itself, Philip and Feria knew all that was going on, and the latter in one of his letters (No. 13) suggests to his master that Cavalcanti might be quietly got rid of. No matter how or by whom the negotiations were carried on, it soon became evident that the French would keep Calais, and after frequent bursts of rage and empty threats about it, Elizabeth at last agreed to an arrangement by which the fortress was to be returned to the English after six years and peace was concluded between all the powers. Even thus early Feria had recognised that he was no match in diplomatic cunning for Elizabeth and Cecil, and he now saw that with the conclusion of peace the growing popularity of the Queen amongst the common people, and the close community between the Huguenot party in France and the English Protestants, some bold course must be taken if Spain was to remain dominant in England. Whilst the question of Philip's marriage with the Queen was yet undecided and the terms of peace unsettled, the Ambassador sent the bishop of Aquila to the King to give him a verbal account of affairs in England and to urge him to action. In the letter from Feria to Philip announcing this (No. 15) he says, "If they cannot agree on terms with the French nor are disposed to prepare suitably for carrying on the war (which they cannot do and even if they did I would not accept it unless I had your Majesty's orders) I think it will be best to pick a quarrel on that question and on religion and the marriage so that we can press them again in that way or open the door for your Majesty, if nothing else can be done, to act in your own interests. When this is decided the Bishop will go to give your Majesty an account of the state of the country and the dissensions which are feared, and all other points which may be necessary for your Majesty's guidance as to your relations with these people, and in the event of their ruin to provide beforehand for what must be foreseen and provided for." The Bishop took to Flanders with him some rough notes of the points to be urged upon the King (No. 17), which give a vivid reflection of Feria's view of the situation and an indication of the lines upon which the Bishop was instructed to approach Philip. After dwelling upon the confused state of things, the defencelessness of the country and the evil it would be to Spain that England should fall under French influence, the notes conclude, "That his Majesty's obligations in these matters should be considered and in sight of them and the state of things here a fit remedy should be applied. To consider the perils and troubles which may be feared if no such remedy is provided first spiritual and then temporal." The meaning of the final words no doubt was that the Pope should be allowed to declare Elizabeth illegitimate, and that Philip should immediately thereafter openly espouse the cause of one of the pretenders to the crown other than the queen of Scots, probably Catherine Grey, with whom Feria was friendly and who is perhaps the person referred to in the beginning of the notes under the name of Maria Isabella. Philip is to be left in no doubt about his own unpopularity, and is to be informed that only by working upon the religious prejudices of the Catholics and a lavish expenditure of money in bribes can anything effectual be done. Soon after the Bishop departed, Feria wrote to the King hinting again strongly that aid should be given to the Catholics to revolt. "If I had money and authority," he says, "I would willingly rather give it to them (i.e.the Catholic Bishops) than pay the pensions of these renegades who have sold their God and the honour of their country. I am sure that religion will not fall, because the Catholic party is two thirds larger than the other, but I could wish that the work were done by your Majesty's hands and that God should not be delivered over to the enemy." Philip's jealousy of the French, his love of being on the strong side, and his attachment to Catholicism, were all appealed to in order to spur him on to action which should nip the rising hopes of Elizabeth and the reformers, but in addition to Philip's caution and hesitancy there were other difficulties in the way of which Feria failed to gauge the importance. Philip was hoping to disarm France by his marriage with Elizabeth of Valois, the King's daughter, and he knew that his open assistance to the English Catholics to depose the Queen and stifle Protestantism would exacerbate the enmity of the Protestant princes of Germany and perhaps let loose the storm of which the mutterings were already audible in Flanders. So in answer to Feria's advice and the Bishop's arguments he directs a policy of soft words, of pacification, of palliation, and tells his Ambassador again and again, "You must keep principally in view by all ways and means to avoid a rupture as already mentioned the importance of which is so great that I cannot be satisfied without repeating it so many times." And yet, as showing his constitutional indecision, he sends at the time 60,000 crowns to be spent "in gaining friends," and says, "I have also ordered in case of necessity that money should be raised to fit out a fleet in a short time, so that it may be ready to carry men over to England if required. I have not had it done at once so as not to arouse the jealousy of the English and in order that people may not think it is for my voyage to Spain." This policy did not commend itself to fiery Feria. He keenly felt the decrease of his influence since the death of Mary, and was still of opinion that the only way to "deal with these people was sword in hand." His interviews with the Queen were wordy combats in which Elizabeth's nimbleness and womanly wit usually outmatched his hot-headed arrogance. Whilst Philip was counselling soft words and the marriage of the Queen with his bigoted Austrian cousin Ferdinand, Feria was only thinking of armed force with which he might satiate his revenge against the heretical English whom he hated.
On the 11th April 1559 (No. 24), he writes to the King in this strain : "Now that God has deigned to send this great boon of peace to Christendom, and your Majesty is more at leisure to attend to other obligations, I think it is time to consider how things are going to end here. This business is divided into two heads ; first that of religion, and whether your Majesty is bound in this respect I do not enquire, although the Catholics claim that notwithstanding the country having been at the disposal of your Majesty to be treated as you wished it has come to its present pass. The other head is the question of the State and the necessity of preventing the king of France from dominating the kingdom, for which object he has two circumstances so favourable to him, namely the just claims of the queen of Scots and the great ease with which he could take possession owing to the miserable state in which the country is, as I have informed your Majesty several times since I came hither, and I think it has been growing worse every hour. I have done my best to carry out your Majesty's commands to try and tranquillise the country and please the Queen, and to hold my hand in religious affairs ... But it behoves me to consider whether with things as they are your Majesty can be assured of that which is desirable, because, as I understand, leaving aside God's affairs and religious matters unredressed, now that these people are better able to do as they like than at any time since this woman became Queen, all the time which may be allowed them to carry out their heresies will be pernicious to the tranquillity of the country and may give rise to tumult. And besides this whenever the king of "France finds means in Rome to get this woman declared a heretic together with her bastardy and advances his own claim your Majesty will be more perplexed .. than at present, because I do not see how your Majesty could in such case go against God and justice and against the Catholics who will doubtless join him (the king of France) if he comes with the voice of the Church behind him. To let him take the country, which he will do with so much ease that I dread to think of it, would be to my mind the total ruin of your Majesty and all your States, and seeing things in this light as I do and to fail to inform your Majesty would in my opinion be a crime worthy of punishment both towards God and your Majesty."
But it was all useless ; Philip the prudent was not to be hurried. His one idea was to get back to his beloved Spain, amongst a people as grave and leisurely as himself, and Feria begged to be relieved from his uncongenial and unsuccessful mission. His English Countess had, he thought, been treated off-handedly by the Queen, and he himself was looked upon with suspicion by all the Court, so an excuse was invented that he was to be one of the hostages of peace sent by Philip to the French, which was untrue, so that he might lay down his embassy without an open confession of his unfitness for it.
Before he left, the question of the Queen's marriage had assumed a new phase. The earl of Arundel had receded into the background and Guido Cavalcanti's vicarious wooing for a French prince had come to an end. Philip's own suit had only been tentatively put forward and according to Elizabeth's own avowal to the French Ambassador had been rejected by her on her conscientious scruples against marrying her brother-in-law, but really, as we have seen, for far more weighty reasons. Feria was instructed by Philip to present with accustomed caution the claims of his first cousin the Archduke Ferdinand ; but, if we are to believe his letter (No. 27), the matter had already been broached by the Court gossips to Count Helfensteyn, the Imperial Ambassador, and Feria at once took steps to ensure that the match if it were made at all should be made by his master and in his interests. But another star was already in the ascendant. Feria writes (No. 27) :—"During the last few days Lord Robert has come so much into favour that he does whatever he likes with affairs, and it is even said that her Majesty visits him in his chamber day and night. People talk of this so freely that they go so far as to say that his wife has a malady in one of her breasts and the Queen is only waiting for her to die to marry Lord Robert. I can assure your Majesty that things have reached such a pass that I have been brought to consider whether it would not be well to approach Lord Robert on your Majesty's behalf, promising him your help and favour and coming to terms with him."
A few days afterwards he writes (No. 29) :— "They talk a great deal about the marriage with Archduke Ferdinand and seem to like it, but for my part I believe she will never make up her mind to anything that is good for her. Sometimes she appears to want to marry him and speaks like a woman who will only accept a great prince, and then they say she is in love with Lord Robert and never lets him leave her. If my spies do not lie, which I believe they do not ... I understand she will not bear children, but if the Archduke is a man, even if she die without any, he will be able to keep the Kingdom with the support of your Majesty. I am of this opinion, and the reasons I have shall be placed before your Majesty when I arrive. I beg your "Majesty to order this business of the Archduke's marriage to be well considered and discussed as the tranquillity of christendom and stability of your Majesty's dominions depend upon it." Feria had been trying for some time by threats and dismal forebodings to work upon the Queen's fears if she allowed religious alterations to be made, and he saw that Elizabeth was not to be frightened or indeed permanently influenced from without, and the only chance for Spanish diplomacy was to get an instrument of its own planted in the inner circle by the Queen's side whether it was an Archduke depending upon Philip for support or Dudley bought by Philip's gold mattered but little.
Feria left London at the end of May, and, at his earnest recommendation, the bishop of Aquila was appointed to succeed him, taking up his residence at Durham Place, which, however, as it had been granted to the Count de Feria personally still remained for a time in the occupation of his English Countess. A letter from the Bishop to the duke of Alba early in May (No. 32) shows in an almost startling manner, as do many subsequent letters, how religious persecution was entirely a matter of political procedure, and that the inner ideas of those upon whom we look as cruel and narrow bigots were much the same as those held today. Nothing is more curious indeed in the letters comprising the present volume than to see that religion, even for such men as Philip and his agents, was the merest stalking-horse behind which the movement towards civil and political freedom might be attacked. The Bishop says, "The heretics of our own times have never been such spoilt children of the devil as these are, and the persecutors of the early church were surely not impious enough to dare to pass such unjust Acts as these (the Act of Uniformity). To force a man to do a thing whether he likes it or not has at all events some form however unjust, but to force him to see a thing in the same light as the King sees it is absurd and has no form either just or unjust, and yet such is the ignorance here that they pass such a thing as this. Religion here now is simply a question of policy, and in a hundred thousand ways they let us see that they neither fear nor love us." The difference between Feria's rough methods and the gentle softness of the Bishop is soon apparent in a better understanding between the Queen and the Ambassador. A good specimen of his adroitness is seen in the letter (No. 35) where he relates how, on finding that the Queen had received reports from Germany unfavourable to the Archduke Ferdinand and was bent upon rejecting him, he pretends that the Archduke Charles was always the suitor they meant to present and never his brother ; and the wily Bishop not only makes her believe it, but in a very short time establishes cordial relations with her and with many of her Council, even with Cecil, of whom he speaks with high praise. His task nevertheless was a difficult one. The King was still apparently unable or unwilling to realise the actual state of affairs in England and continued to direct his Ambassador, to lecture and alarm the Queen about her religious shortcomings, a course which both Feria and the Bishop had found worse than useless. The new Ambassador, soft as was his speech to the English, was, if anything, more emphatic than Feria had been in urging upon his master the need for bold and decided action, and the accidental death of Henry II. of France gave him (No. 45) a good opportunity of re-stating the case to Philip. In diplomatic language hardly veiled he hails the death of the French King as a providential opportunity not to be lost to re-establish the Catholic party by the active intervention of Spain. But it was all in vain. Philip was not to be hurried into any course of action whilst delay and hesitancy were possible. A real or pretended plot to poison the Queen and Leicester, together with the new state of affairs created in Scotland by the accession to the French throne of Mary of Scotland's consort, seemed for a time likely to drive Elizabeth into the arms of Spain whether she wished it or not. Dudley and his sister Lady Sidney were the intermediaries and they, well bribed apparently, confidentially approached the Bishop as from the Queen to urge the Archduke Charles to come over at once. Here was an opportunity where a little boldness and venturesomeness might well have won the prize, and the Bishop at once wrote to Cardinal de Granvelle, to the duchess of Parma, and to the Emperor, urging that the Archduke should be sent and the affair carried through with a rush, clandestinely if necessary. But doubt and hesitancy again conquered ; the advice was disregarded, the danger to the Queen blew over, and she, seeing the quibbling there was about sending her Austrian suitor to woo her, again began on her part to temporise, and the opportunity was lost. Meanwhile Philip was preparing to start on his much wished voyage to his dear Spain, and the letters that passed between Feria in Brussels and the bishop in London are instructive. The Bishop was spending large sums in gaining friends and his own means were dwindling. Feria took up his cause in this as in other things and complained again and again in no measured terms of the King's procrastination. "It is only with great trouble that he can be got to decide anything. I believe a more wretched life is before the Queen than she wots of. I am only sorry that it is not we who are to give her the purge, but those scoundrels shall pay for it (No. 42).
Whatever we may do or say, we can get no further than the instructions given to Don Juan de Ayala (i.e. to remonstrate with the Queen), which will have as little effect as what has been done before. About your Lordships affairs we have had the King in labour for a month, but have not managed to deliver him yet. He promised yesterday that he would despatch the matter at once. I do not fail to put before him all the urgency and necessity for decision, but I find no more movement in other things than in this (No. 44).
Do not be astonished or angry at anything you may see until we have tired the King out, as he expects to be tired out before he does anything great or small. It is no good saying anything more about the voyage to Spain, for if the world itself were to crumble, there would be no change in that" (No. 51). After the King's departure for Spain, the Count writes still more frankly : "I have not written before because in truth every time I recollect how the King has gone, to Spain without making proper provision for your Lordship I am so annoyed that I cannot help expressing it. I do not wish to recount the way his Majesty treated matters during the last few weeks he was here. He cared little whether we paid out of our own pockets, instead of he and the commonwealth. I hope he will open his eyes now that he has gone to cure his homesickness in Spain. Things are going badly there and they are coming to such a pass that we soon shall not know which are the heretics and which the Christians. I will not believe evil of the Archbishop (of Toledo) or his companion or of the Archbishop of Granada, who has also been summoned by the inquisitors. What drives me crazy is to see the lives led by the criminals and those led by the judges and to compare their respective intelligence."
This is bold speaking about the all powerful inquisition which had laid hands even upon the primate of Spain for heresy and the Bishop is hardly less frank in reply (No. 70). In the meanwhile the interminable intrigues about the marriage with the Archduke or Leicester go on with varying fortunes ; the openly declared claims of the new Queen of France to the English throne are arousing resentment and a desire in the breast of Elizabeth to strike the first blow and the false sleek Bishop is going about gaining friends by money, promises and blandishments, whilst his spies are everywhere discovering the weak places on the coast towards Flanders, learning the names of the disaffected gentry, and whispering encouragement in the ears of the sullen Catholics who bide their time impatiently, awaiting the aid which never comes.
Of all things the most to be dreaded for Philip's policy— the one idea of which was the maintenance of Catholicism in Europe as part of a political principle—was a war in Scotland between France and the English Queen. It soon became clear that it would mean the drawing together in close unity of the majority of the Scotch nation who were reformers, the Huguenots in France who were bitterly resentful of the Guise domination, and the powerful reforming party in England who would, thus reinforced, be able to pledge the Queen more deeply than ever to an anti-Catholic policy. But above all it was evident that the Flemings themselves would be emboldened in their idea of political and religious freedom when they saw so powerful a combination as this on one side of them, whilst on the other were the protestant princes of Germany, ready if needful to aid their cause when they saw it strong enough to make an effectual stand. Quadra and his correspondents saw this plainly enough, and one of Philip's most trusted Flemish councillors, Philippe de Stavèles, Seigneur de Glajon, was sent to urge Elizabeth either by cajolery or threats to keep the peace. But this measure, as Quadra and Feria knew full well, was useless or worse. If talk of any sort, threatening or persuasive, could have effected any good purpose it would already have been done either by the Count or the Bishop. The latter does not hide his opinion from his master, but speaks quite openly to the Count de Feria in Brussels. Writing on 7th March 1560 he says : "The coming of the personages to be sent by his Majesty hither and to France will do more harm than good if they are only coming to talk, as the Catholics expect much more than that, but in any case they will be too late, as the good or ill will be done before they arrive, the army having to leave here within a fortnight to attack the French. The Queen will have to take the matter up more warmly than she thought, as Randolph tells me the rebel forces are very few and the Scotch people are making no move as she expected. She is in danger and much alarmed, and this is the time to do what ought to be done, but if we are to be always on the defensive and to palliate such things I can only say patience! although I well know we shall never have such an opportunity again. All are with us and the very heretics are sick of it. I do not presume to speak openly of the matter in this spirit as I am not a turbulent or boasting person and do not want to appear so." He said as much as he dared in the same sense in his letters to the King, always with profound professions of humility for his presumption, but Philip for months together hardly answered his letters except with bare acknowledgment of their receipt and thanks for the information conveyed in them. In the meanwhile the Catholic party in England were getting restive as one opportunity after the other was allowed to slip by leadenfooted Philip, and Quadra could only keep touch with them by means of continuous half promises and hints and a lavish expenditure of money from his own resources, for to his plaintive and humble prayers even for his bare wages Philip hardly deigned to reply, and only on rare occasions was an inadequate grant-in-aid sent from Flanders. As help from Spain and the marriage of the Queen with an Austrian Prince seemed to recede further in the distance and the union of reformers in England France and Scotland became stronger, the hopes of the Catholics were centred more and more upon a revolt in the north of England for purpose of raising young Darnley to the throne, and such countenance as Quadra could extend to them underhand, and without compromising his master was certainly given. The story of the war with Scotland and the desperate attempts of Philip's agents to pacify matters are well told in the letters of Quadra and the Flemish envoy De Glajon to the duchess of Parma, and the outcome of the struggle although favourable ostensibly to England and the reformers in Scotland brought home to Elizabeth a very unpleasant truth. As we have seen she had from the first day of her reign depended mainly upon the jealousy of France and Spain against each other, but Philip's threat, although it was, as the correspondence shows, never more than a threat, to help the French if she continued the war, showed that for the time at least the marriage of Philip with a French Princess and the domination of the Catholic Guises over the young King and Queen had drawn the French and Spanish courts into close community and that the understanding between the Protestant peoples in Europe and Great Britain had been followed by a similar movement in the Catholic interest, and Cecil saw plainly that the best way to counteract it was a marriage of the Queen with the Archduke by which the interest of France and Spain in England might be rendered divergent. Persuaded by him the Queen affected again to be willing to consent to the match, but she had played fast and loose too often with Quadra for him to be deceived very seriously this time, and although he kept up the pretence of treating the matter gravely, he does not hide his real opinions from his master. Quadra was not the only person who was disgusted with Elizabeth's instability and levity on a subject of so great an importance as this—the only means as it seemed of dividing the two great powers in whose division alone lay England's safety—Cecil himself, patient and steadfast as he was, lost heart when he saw that the worthless Dudley, who of himself was contemptible, was yet able by his presence to paralyse the far-seeing policy of wiser heads than his own. A letter written by the Bishop to the Duchess of Parma 11th September 1560 (No. 119),is of the highest importance, as showing the extremely critical condition of Elizabeth's position when Cecil was ready to turn against her. "I had an opportunity," he says, "of talking to Cecil, who I understood was in disgrace, and Robert was trying to turn him out of his place. After exacting many pledges of strict secrecy, he said the Queen was conducting herself in such a way that he thought of retiring. He said it was a bad sailor who did not enter port if he could when he saw a storm coming on, and he clearly foresaw the ruin of the realm through Robert's intimacy with the Queen, who surrendered all affairs to him and meant to marry him. He said he did not know how the country put up with it, and he should ask leave to "go home although he thought they would cast him into the Tower first. He ended by begging me in God's name to point out to the Queen the effect of her misconduct and persuade her not to abandon business entirely but to look to her realm ; and then he repeated twice over to me that Lord Robert would be better in Paradise than here."
But Quadra was far too wise to meddle in the matter and was secretly delighted at a rupture from which the Catholics had everything to hope, his only misgiving being that Cecil might declare for the Earl of Huntingdon as King with the support of the French reformers, and he again begs the Duchess to urge Philip to strike the blow and not to "wait until the Queen mends matters." In the same letter additional presumptive proof is given of Dudley's guilt in the murder of his wife. "He (Cecil) ended by saying that Robert was thinking of killing his wife who was publicly announced to be ill although she was quite well and would take very good care they did not poison her. He said surely God would never allow such a wicked thing to be done. I ended the conversation by again expressing my sorrow without saying anything to compromise me, although I am sure he speaks the truth and is not acting crookedly ... The next day the Queen told me as she returned from hunting that Robert's wife was dead or nearly so, and asked me not to say anything about it. Certainly this business is most shameful and scandalous, and withal I am not sure whether she will marry the man at once or even at all, as I do not think she has her mind sufficiently fixed. Cecil says she wishes to do as her father did ... Since writing the above, I hear the Queen has published the death of Robert's wife and said in Italian, 'She broke her neck ; she must have 'fallen down a staircase'."
The effect of Dudley's freedom was soon seen in the fawning approaches made by him to the Bishop with bids for the support of the Spanish King, in consideration of a settlement of religious questions in England and the representation of Elizabeth in the Council of Trent. They managed for a time at all events to hoodwink so clever a diplomatist as Quadra, who believed in their professed wish to take part in the Council and make concessions to the Catholics, and a papal Nuncio was sent post haste to Flanders to cross over to England the moment formal permission was given him. But Quadra was cautious enough to repudiate all idea of a bargain by which Philip's countenance to Elizabeth's marriage with Dudley was to be given in payment for the Queen's acceptance of catholicism. He professed in a vague way his master's warm attachment to Dudley and the Queen, and welcomed their entrance into a better frame of mind as regarded religion, but he was very careful to keep the two things separate, and when they found he was not to be caught they promptly cast off the mask and he saw that he had been befooled with regard to their religious professions—a fact which he treasured up and bitterly resented to the day of his death, and from that time forward, soft and smiling as he continued, the breach between him and the English court grew wider and wider and his influence decreased. Its decrease however was not brought about by this circumstance alone. On the 4th December 1560, an event happened which shifted all the pieces on the European chessboard and the game had to be re-set. The boy king of France, Francis II., died after a reign of a year and a half, and Mary of Scotland ceased to be queen of France. Philip's reluctance to follow the advice of his agents and aid the Catholic party in England to rebellion for the sake of religion had not been without very good reasons from a political point of view. He knew full well that the only logical and natural result of a successful Catholic rising in England would have been to place Mary of Scotland on the throne, or in other words to have handed over England to France and the Guises. Whatever religious bigotry Philip may have felt in his moody and sickly old age, his burning zeal for Catholicism at this time was, as I have pointed out, much more a matter of policy than of faith. Protestantism meant for him a revolt against authority, the spread of a virus that was already affecting his Flemish dominions. His system of government was summed up in the uncontrolled rule of sovereigns and the unquestioning obedience of subjects. Those who began to doubt the wisdom of their superiors in religious matters might to-morrow demand a discretion in civil government. The civil power at the time comparatively weak, of itself was insufficient to enforce blind obedience and was obliged to avail itself of the two other concrete forces at the disposal of despotic rulers, namely the power of arms and—the strongest and most compact of all—the ecclesiastical power. However attentive Philip may have been to the outward forms of his faith, abundant evidence exists in the correspondence in the present volume to show that neither he nor his agents, lay or clerical, were deeply imbued with its spirit. All through the letters there runs a vein of cynicism which hardly cares to veil by a few flimsy stereotyped phrases the patent fact that however much religion might be talked about its professed interests had always to be subordinated to political advantage. And so when the restoration of the Catholic faith in England, which might have been effected by Philip many times during the early months of Elizabeth's reign, meant the strengthening of the hands of France, the Catholic King temporised, and religion as he understood it was allowed to go to the wall. As we have seen, Elizabeth's strength lay in her knowledge of this fact. For a time, it is true, Philip's marriage with the French Princess seemed to bode ill for England ; but the apparent friendship between France and Spain thus brought about was not a real one. Philip was as jcalous as ever of the Guise influence in Scotland and England. France itself was reft in twain by religious faction, and Catharine de Medici, the Queen-Mother, hating and distrusting the Guises who had superseded her, leant for protection on Vendome and the Protestants, and it needed all the efforts of the gentle Elizabeth of Valois in her new Spanish home to keep up any pretence of friendship between her ambitious mother and her intolerant husband. French Protestants and others were persecuted with greater barbarity than ever by the Inquisition in Spain, the French expeditions to Spanish America aroused Philip's ire against his wife's country to the utmost point of arrogance, and it was soon understood in England as elsewhere that if the matrimonial sacrifice of Elizabeth of Valois had been made to cement a union between France and Spain that sacrifice had been made in vain. But the death of Francis II. changed the whole problem. The new King was a child and the Queen-Mother, Catharine de Medici, was again the mistress of France. She might employ the Guises or she might dismiss them, as she did more than once, but the Guises were not now necessarily dominant and the rule of their niece, Mary of Scotland, over England would not mean the handing over of the country to the French as it would have done whilst she was queen of France too. To add to this, Catharine de Medici hated her Scottish daughter-in-law for many feminine reasons besides those which prompted her dislike to her uncles, and the more Mary of Scotland and her family drifted away from France the less had Philip to fear from her elevation to the English throne.
Quadra expresses an opinion (No. 132) that the profession of a desire by the Queen and Dudley to amend religion in a Catholic sense and take part in the Council of Trent were only prompted by a fear that under the changed aspect of affairs Philip might marry a member of his own family to the widowed Scotch Queen and assert her claim to the Crown. But he says that although they hoped to befool him by a prolonged negotiation, during which they could move the Protestant Scots nobles to marry their Queen to their liking, their hands had been forced by the prompt coming of the Nuncio whom they dared not receive. It is probable that if Philip had acted at this juncture with boldness and promptitude and forced a marriage between Mary and one of the Austrian Archdukes, as Cardinal Lorraine desired, Elizabeth's policy would have been crippled, but once more caution and timidity won the day ; the Scotch reformers were strengthened and prompted by Cecil to resist a foreign husband for their Queen, and the opportunity was again lost for the time (No. 139). In the meanwhile Quadra soon found by the treatment extended to him by the Queen and her Council that the whole position had changed. Elizabeth had nothing to fear now from France or from Scotland unless Philip was allowed to get the latter country into his grasp, which was daily becoming more improbable, and she could afford to throw herself more boldly than ever on the support of the English Protestant party. Her only dread now was a rising of English Catholics with the support of Spanish power. The farcical negotiations for marriage with the Archduke had again receded into the background, and although the Queen was for ever avidly angling for fresh offers to refuse, Quadra saw that the only serious suitor for the moment was Dudley. But he was not deceived ; although in obedience to his halting and rare instructions he kept up a semi-jocose pretence of maintaining Elizabeth and Dudley in a good humour, and professing a desire to see them made happy, in case anything came of the wooing, yet he never ceased to tell his master as plainly as he dared, that if his desire was the restoration of Catholicism in England or the maintenance of Spanish influence he could never do it through them, and that a rebellion in England supported by Spain was now the only hope.
In January 1562, Dudley had applied for a letter from Philip to the Queen recommending her to marry him (Dudley), and as an inducement for Quadra to ask his master for such a letter, said that the French had held out great offers to him, but that he wished to receive the boon from Philip's hand. Quadra saw through the trick, which was only to get a favourable letter from Philip which they might publish and thus crush the last hope of the Catholics of getting help from Spain, but he writes to the King that unless he is really going to help the Catholics there is no harm in giving the letter and throwing over the Catholic party. In fact the Bishop was beginning to despair. He could get neither money nor instructions, not even answers to his letters, from the tardy Philip. He had put off the Catholics with half words and temporising generalities until he was at the end of his resources. The Catholic party was rapidly coming to understand that Philip's professed zeal for the faith was only a means of forwarding his national interest in which they apart from religion had no sympathy, and losing belief as they were in the reality of his promises in their favour, they were daily depending more upon their own resources and prospects and welding themselves into a party, Catholic it is true, but as patriotically English as any other section of their countrymen, a fact which Philip found out to his chagrin when in 1588, thirty years too late for his object, he tried the subjugation of England. The King could not plead ignorance for his delay. Hardly a letter of Quadra's fails to tell him that boldness still remains the only policy which offers a chance of success.
On the 31st January 1562, when writing on the subject of the letter requested by the Queen and Dudley, the Bishop speaks thus plainly to his master (No. 150). Your Majesty will decide for the best, but I cannot refrain from saying that if your Majesty does not think of employing other than ordinary means to remedy religion and the affairs of this pernicious Government there is no reason to avoid giving the letter. Although it may not serve to attach her to us or cause her to amend things to any extent it may yet keep up this pretended friendship and take from her the cause of complaint for which she is seeking. If your Majesty should have the idea that by our temporising and avoiding any declaration in favour of the Queen the Catholics may be encouraged with other adversaries to make a movement which might give an opportunity for your Majesty to get your hand in here to help them, I can assure your Majesty that this is not to be hoped for. I am quite certain, and they have plainly told me, that they will never move without being sure of the help and succour of your Majesty, because in the first place they would not know what plan or object they should follow, and in the second place because they have not strength enough to do anything of the sort without the certainty of ruin, and especially when the Queen is secured with her alliances with France and Scotland. This suspension or neutrality in affairs here not only harms your Majesty's interests by keeping the Queen suspicious and discontented and injures religion, but if I am to tell the truth, which is my obligation to your Majesty, these Catholics have lost all hope, and complain bitterly that through their placing all their confidence in your Majesty and trusting you entirely they have failed to avail themselves of the friendship of the French which in the life of King Francis was offered to them, every moment, and with which they could have remedied religious grievances although with some danger to the temporal state. They are so aggrieved at this that no generalties are sufficient to console them."
In default of aid from Philip, the hopes of the English Catholics were now based upon a marriage being effected between Mary Stuart and Darnley, and the first whisper of the hopes which such a match inspired put Elizabeth and her advisers on the alert, although she herself had been the first to propose it. Castelnau de la Mauvissière in his "Memoires" says, "She exerted all her art and spared no pains to promote the marriage," and asserts that her indignation at it was only simulated. It is highly probable that Elizabeth's anger at the match was for the great part feigned, but still when she found that it met with the warm approval of Philip and the Catholic party, it cannot have failed to arouse some misgivings in her mind, and she was no doubt willing enough to avail herself of the excuse to find a cause of resentment and complaint against Mary Stuart which could only end in the further humiliation of the Scotch Queen unless overt aid was lent to her cause by Philip, which Elizabeth had by this time ceased in a great measure to fear, as she knew that his hands were more than full with his wars with the Turks, his crushing disaster at Los Gelves and his troubles in the Netherlands. As the time went on, Quadra's position got more and more desperate. Deeply in debt, without money even for his daily needs, old and broken, an object of suspicion to the whole court, who knew that he was besought by every disaffected man and party in the country, yet knew not, as these letters show, how powerless he was to give the slightest encouragement to any of them ; his own behaviour to the Queen and her Council reflected theirs towards him and his sleek suavity changed to petulant complaint. His couriers were stopped and his letters read ; spies surrounded him even in his own household ; and at last his most confidential secretary was bought over by Cecil to lay bare the story of plots more or less real that had been hatched or helped by the Spanish Ambassador. Then the storm burst and the Bishop declared that he would bear it no longer. Entreating and indignant letters were sent by him to the King, the Duchess of Parma and the Duke of Alba praying to be relieved from his unhappy post ; but he was told that he must smooth matters over, temporise, and make the best of things for the King's service. The poor Bishop accepted his cross with tranquil resignation but with a heavy heart, and continued in his embassy, but thenceforward, although he dared not disobey his master's commands, he secretly gave all the countenance and support he could to the discontented and disaffected, with the hope no doubt of keeping them in the Spanish interest in case Philip should ever decide to move. Arthur Pole appealed to him for help on his madcap enterprise without success as would appear from the letters, but still one cannot help reading between the lines and seeing that he probably was more benevolent towards him than he dared to tell the King. The same thing may be noticed in his dealings with the Irish rebels who were constantly approaching him. The Ambassador it is true did not venture to compromise Philip's interests or openly act in violation of his orders, but he had his private wrongs and slights to avenge against Elizabeth and her Protestant ministers, and there is no doubt that Durham Place became a trysting place for treason.
But a more pressing danger threatened England than the futile plotting of a vindictive priest. So long as the reforming party in France were dominant in the Councils of the Queen-Mother, and the Guises were kept in check, Elizabeth had nothing to fear either from France or Scotland, but the destruction of Protestantism in the former country and the rise of the Guises would mean that the whole of the French power might be used to place Mary of Scotland on the throne of England. So when Guise's hot-headed followers set the whole edifice in a blaze by murdering the Protestant congregation at Vassy, in March 1562, and Guise entered Catholic Paris in triumph, Elizabeth was prompt in giving armed aid to Condé and his Protestants and sending an army to Havre. She was not at war with France, she repeatedly assured Quadra, but only with the Guises, who were coercing their sovereigns and violating the law. Both the Spaniards and the French tried to frighten Elizabeth by telling her of armed forces being sent by Philip to aid the Catholic cause in France, but she well knew by her agents in the Netherlands that religious feeling was in such a condition there as to make such a thing improbable, even if Philip's jealousy of France and the Guises had not prevented him from helping them to pull the chesnuts out of the fire, and she was never deceived for a moment. So little did the Queen and her advisers fear Philip's threats now that they chose this very juncture to adopt fresh measures of severity against his subjects and others in England for attending Catholic service in the Ambassador's house. A raid was made on the embassy whilst Mass was being said, and all the congregation marched off to the Marshalsea. Spies were put at the doors of Durham Place to watch those who went in and out, and, on a flimsy pretext that the Bishop had sheltered an assassin in the house, new locks were put on the doors and the keys handed to the English porter. All this was done with unwarranted roughness, and the Ambassador, broken down with repeated insults, threatened by Cecil with the violence of the mob, yet obliged to put up with everything for his ungrateful master's sake, could only beg humbly that another dwelling might be given to him instead of the house from which he was to be expelled.
In the meanwhile with the death duel between Protestantism and Catholicism in France yet undecided, the centre of Europeans intrigue was changed. The question of first importance now was not who should marry Elizabeth, because it was clear that she was pledged to the Protestant cause in any case, but who should marry Mary Queen of Scots and displace or succeed the queen of England.
Elizabeth's main desire was that Mary should not marry a foreigner. She had suggested Arran without success and held out tempting promises if Mary would take Darnley or Leicester. But the queen of Scotland said she would never marry a Protestant and she would never take a husband of Elizabeth's choosing. Cardinal Lorraine had been intriguing for a long time to bring about a match with the Archduke Charles, but he was too poor and powerless to enable Mary to assert her claim to the English throne or to face her rival on equal terms, and Philip did not want his cousin to marry at a Guise's bidding, so she and the Scots would have none of him. Maitland of Lethington knew as well as did Elizabeth that Philip's threats to help the French Catholics against Condé and the English were vain words and that the stronger the Catholic cause grew in that country the more likely would he be to prevent the Guises from marrying Mary to a man of their own choice. This appeared to be a good opportunity for the queen of Scots to make a really great match, so she sent Lethington to London in March 1563, ostensibly to discuss the succession with Elizabeth and to offer the mediation of Mary between her uncle the Duke of Guise and the English Queen. When Lethington arrived, it was known that the Duke had been murdered and that part of his mission, if it was ever seriously meant, fell through, but the probable real object of his journey was soon broached in long and secret interviews with the Spanish Ambassador, of which Quadra gives very minute accounts in Nos. 215 and 216. Lethington said that he was on his way to France to propose a marriage between his mistress and the French King, a child of twelve at the time, and as Lethington confessed an utterly unsuitable husband in all respects for his sister-in-law Mary Stuart. This was probably a mere pretence which deceived nobody and certainly would not deceive so experienced a man as Philip. Catharine de Medici knew Mary too well ever to let her get the upper hand in France again and thus give a preponderance to the Guises and the Catholics which would take away the source of her (Catharine's) power ; namely the playing off of the two great factions against each other. But it was apparently considered necessary to go through the diplomatic formula of pretending to hold one winning card before playing the other. Lethington freely confessed to Quadra that such a match was in the highest degree unfitting, and pointed out how much better a marriage would be that of Mary and Don Carlos. Quadra was charmed with the idea and sent off a beseeching appeal to Philip to make a bold stroke at last. The idea of the marriage was popular in England and the country might be raised easily he said, and this seemed to him, as it probably was, the last chance of the re-establishment of Spanish influence in the island. Quadra had to wait more than three months before an answer came from his tardy King. He highly approved of the suggestion, but instead of closing with it he halted and temporised in his usual way. The Ambassador was to discover from the Scots all the undertakings and understandings they had in England. "You will inform me step by step of all that happens in the matter, but without settling anything except to find out the particulars referred to above until I send you word what I desire to be done."
Philip admitted that the marriage of Mary with the French King would be disastrous to him and saw the importance of the proposed match with Carlos, yet, great as was the stake, he wanted to risk nothing. "With regard to the adherents the Scots will have in England and the increase of their number if necessary you will not interfere in any way further than you have done hitherto, but let them do it themselves and gain what friends and sympathy they can for their opinions amongst the Catholics and those upon whom they depend. I say this, because if anything should be discovered they should be the persons to be blamed and no one in connection with us."
But this style of negotiating did not suit Lethington. He was in London again in June pressing Quadra for a decided answer and for bold action. Elizabeth had told him that if his mistress married Carlos or the Archduke she would be her enemy, and it was evident that he could not afford to offend her and at the same time fail to gain the support of Philip. So he plainly told Quadra that unless a decided answer could be given to his proposals his mistress would have to marry at Elizabeth's bidding, with an agreement that she should succeed failing issue to the latter. Seeing the hopelessness of getting Philip to move, Quadra in his zeal took a very bold course. He wrote to the Emperor urging him to take the matter in hand and marry Mary to the Archduke Charles, and said that he had sent an English gentleman representing the Catholic party to the queen of Scotland to offer their aid "in case she will marry the Archduke and to the satisfaction of the King my master." "This," he says, "will be no deception, for the affection to my King in this country is very great. . . . Your Majesty's fear that my advocacy of this business may be unfavourable is unfounded, as nothing is more likely to forward it. "The only thing they will insist upon in Scotland is that the Archduke shall have enough money to keep himself without looking to them, and also that he is strong enough to establish his right to this crown."
But Philip in his leisurely way had not abandoned the idea of a match between Carlos and Mary and again instructed Quadra to keep the matter pending. When the orders came Lethington had left in dudgeon and the poor Bishop writes to the Duke of Alba in the Netherlands pointing out how the affair is falling through for want of decision. The letter (No. 239) is dated 17th July 1563, and after recapitulating the steps that have been taken goes on to say : "In view of this grave state of things I think the instructions his Majesty has given me are inadequate and not sufficiently decided, not because the greatness of the crisis does not call for all due deliberation, but because I think the remedy a weak one for so dangerous a malady. When they see that instead of giving them a firm reply we come to them only with halting proposals, I do not know what they will think of it.
It is useless to ask them to give me information as to the support the queen of Scots can count upon in this country in order that I may convey it to his Majesty with my opinion on it. Lethington knows very well that all this has been done long ago, as he told me what he was doing, and of course I could not hide my communications from him. We have been spoken to by the same people about the marriage, and those who have begged me to propose it to his Majesty have pressed Lethington to recommend it to his Queen and have given him lists of Catholics and others who could raise troops for her service."
Quadra said almost as much to the King himself. He saw that Lethington had gone back disgusted at the delay and more than half disposed to come to terms with Elizabeth ; he felt that the business had been spoiled by want of promptness in Philip's replies, and in his answer to the King (No. 238) he was evidently not sanguine of re-opening the negotiations effectually or safely. "On the other hand I have considered that this delay might prejudice the business, and that if the queen of Scotland were to hear of your Majesty's intentions it might have the effect of putting a stop to any other arrangement these people may have proposed to her, so between the two extreme courses I have decided to take a middle one, which is to secretly send a person in whom I have entire confidence to Scotland and inform the Queen through him that I have something of importance to communicate to her respecting her marriage, but that as I cannot go thither and she has no Ambassador here, I think it will be well for her to send to me a trustworthy person who is well informed of the state of affairs in Scotland and of the negotiations that are being carried on in England, and to this person I will say what I have to convey to her." The person so sent disguised as a merchant was Luis de Paz, and when he returned he found the Bishop already dying. I found," he says, the Bishop so ill that he only lived six hours after, and although he understood and answered me sensibly he was in great grief that he should drop from his work just when he hoped to succeed. He expired with the words 'I can do no more.'"
For a year and a half the Bishop's body remained unburied, held by the servants clamorous for their wages. Letter after letter was written by his faithful secretary Luis Roman, pointing out the distress of the household and the creditors. A small sum was sent from Flanders to pay and dismiss some of the servants, and the new Ambassador wrote in vain to the King to enable him to put an end to the scandal of the faithful servant's remains being treated with such indignity. It was not until March 1565 that Philip sent enough money to stave off the demands of the most pressing creditors. The rest of them were probably never paid and the body had to be smuggled out by stratagem and stealth to avoid seizure for the remaining debts.
The new Ambassador, Don Diego Guzman de Silva, a canon of Toledo Cathedral, received his appointment from Philip in January 1564, five months after Quadra's death (No. 244), although he did not arrive in England until six months later. But his mission was a widely different one from that of his predecessors. Both Feria by his arrogance and Quadra by his cunning had sought once more to make Spain paramount in the counsels of England and both had failed. Boldness and good fortune had enabled Elizabeth to avail herself to the full of her neighbours' jealousy of each other and to unite herself definitely with the growing Protestant party whilst Philip's hesitancy had disheartened the Catholics. In the meanwhile things were going from bad to worse for Philip in the Netherlands, where the struggle was rapidly assuming the form of a duel to the death between the old traditions of Flemish self-government and the newer absolutism which Philip's father in his youth had succeeded in imposing upon Spain by the defeat of the comuneros. The reformed religion was to Philip the embodiment of a rebellious spirit against absolute authority and as such had to be crushed, or the system which alone Philip understood would be discredited. Almost openly the English Protestants were sympathising with their Flemish brethren and flocks of refugee Protestants were daily arriving from the Low countries in England to establish their industries here. It was not in Philip's nature to refrain from retaliation when he had it in his power, and the English in Spain were cruelly persecuted for their faith on the barest suspicion of heresy, and this again was resented in England by a recrudescence of the pillage of Spanish and Flemish ships at sea. Then began a retaliatory war of tariffs between England and the Spaniards in Flanders. An attempt was at first made by Elizabeth to foster the new Flemish industries in England by restricting the entrance of certain manufactured goods from Flanders, and at length at the time of the new Ambassador's appointment a general prohibition had been issued by both countries practically forbidding commercial intercourse at all. Envoys from both sides had been going backwards and forwards for months without succeeding in settling matters. Flanders was suffering much more from the prohibition than was England, which had secured a good inlet to the continent through Embden, and had given permission for free export to all other countries but Flanders, so that Elizabeth could afford to stand firm as she did against all the efforts made to force her into an inferior position in the negotiations, and it became necessary if Flemish commerce was not to be destroyed altogether that an Ambassador of rank should again reside in London and endeavour by diplomacy and soft words to compass what threats and retaliation had failed to bring about. It will thus be seen that Guzman de Silva's position was quite distinct from that of Quadra. The new Ambassador came to ask for a redress of grievances, not to impose a policy. Philip had his hands too full of his own troubles to attempt to rule other countries than his own and his instructions to Don Diego Guzman (Nos. 244 and 248) are mainly concerned in obtaining for Flemish commerce immunity from attack and for the Catholics resident in England toleration for their religion. He is, however, directed to spy out all the coming and goings of heretics between Flanders and England and to keep a close record of all Spanish Protestants of whom he hears for the information of Philip and the inquisition. But although he said nothing to his new Ambassador, it is clear that Philip was not reconciled to his powerlessness in England and was only waiting for his opportunity, as he thought, when once Protestantism should be crushed in his own Netherlands. Guzman de Silva is told to win over Dudley and the other Councillors and stealthily to encourage the Catholics "with such secrecy, dissimulation and dexterity as to give no cause for suspicion to the Queen or her advisers, as it is evident that much evil might follow if the contrary were the case."
The new Ambassador was received with all graciousness, and the object of his mission facilitated. He had no need to seek Dudley for the purpose of gaining him over, for from the day of his arrival the favourite and his friends besieged him with offers of service. Cecil, they said, was the obstacle in the way, and if he could be got rid of by Guzman de Silva's help, Dudley would marry the Queen and restore the Catholic religion as Philip's faithful servant. Dudley's friend (No. 255) assured the Ambassador that he had already an understanding with the Pope, and that his intentions with regard to religion were good. Their very eagerness to throw themselves at the head of Guzman defeated their object. He was a well-meaning gentleman not without ability or subtlety ; his time had mainly been passed in cathedral cloisters and he lacked Quadra's astuteness and knowledge of men, but the hurry to identify him with Dudley's intrigue against Cecil aroused his suspicions and he received the advances with amiable banalities and forbore to pledge himself or his master. Things for the time certainly were looking ominous for Cecil. His cognisance of, if not his aid in, the preparation of John Hale's book in favour of the claim to the succession of Catharine Grey had deeply offended the Queen, and Dudley was only too ready to seize the opportunity of widening the breach between his mistress and the great minister who was the main obstacle to his ambition. The Catholics were clamorous for his removal, and came to the new Ambassador with the same violent counsels with which they had plied Quadra. They were strongly against the settlement of the commercial questions with Flanders except by a war which should stop English trade altogether and give an excuse for Spanish armed intervention in their favour. But Guzman knew full well that his master would not and dared not at the time go to war with England for the sake of re-establishing the Catholic religion here whilst his own dominions were a seething cauldron of disaffection, so he got out of the difficulty as cleverly as Quadra himself might have done. "I have had to tell them that the steps to be taken against the Chancellor and Cecil and the other leaders of heresy in the matter of the book about the succession have not been pushed forward because the Queen dare not turn them out or take strong measures unless she has peace and an understanding with your Majesty, and with the Catholics through you. I say it is necessary to encourage the Queen in the idea that she is free to turn these people out, which she would not venture to do if she thought she had anything to fear from your Majesty, but would cling fast to them and the Protestants. All people think that the only remedy for the religious trouble is to get these people turned out of power, as they are the mainstay of the heretics, Lord Robert having the Catholics all on his side, and I tell them they must take these things into consideration when they were seeking a remedy, and that plenty of opportunities will offer themselves if needed to raise war or stop trade later on. The Catholics are much disturbed, and as they have no other idea than this they will not abandon it until they see some clear way of gaining their point. Certainly from what I hear they are very numerous if they dared to show or had a leader."
Infatuated as the Queen might be with Dudley, she could not dispense with Cecil's great services, and the plot against him failed and Dudley's hopes again decreased, notwithstanding the sympathy of Philip's Ambassador, who was instructed by his master to offer his aid only on a distinct promise from Dudley to fully restore the Catholic religion in the event of his marriage. However much Dudley might convey by inucndo, he dared not pledge himself to this, and Cecil remained unmolested. In the meanwhile the half serious suggestions of marriage now of Elizabeth, now of Mary, were made by one or the other representative of the conflicting interests into which the continent was divided. As soon as the negotiations for a match between Elizabeth and the Archduke assumed too hopeful an aspect, overtures were made for her marriage with the boy king of France. This was retaliated by a talk of marrying Mary to Don Carlos or to his uncle Don John of Austria. The next time perhaps the order and persons were reversed, but Elizabeth with consummate tact played with each suitor in his turn, always keeping Leicester in reserve. Guzman himself, who reports the ever changing phases of the marriage question, was apparently never greatly deceived by them, and it is more than probable that the French negotiations were equally lacking in earnestness. The combination of secrecy, swiftness, and boldness necessary for either party to be successful was impossible under the circumstances, and the various feints and checkmates were obviously only to keep the matter open until a more favourable juncture should arrive for one or the other party. The reconciliation between Philip and the Pope, the promulgation of the decrees of the Council of Trent and the fears of a league of Catholics all over Europe which were again and again revived drove Elizabeth periodically into the need for temporising, and when the news came that Philip himself was to march with a great army through Savoy to punish his revolting Flemings, it is easy to see by the letters that something like dismay existed amongst the English governing party. The Queen went out of her way to reiterate to Guzman her condemnation of the action of the Protestants in Flanders, although she only partially succeeded in convincing him. In every conversation with the Ambassador at the time, she thought to minimise the difference between her own creed and that of the Catholics, and hinted continually that for reasons of policy she was obliged to hide her real religious leanings. Her famous rebuke of the dean of St. Paul's, Dr. Nowell, on Ash Wednesday, 1565, for preaching against images, related here (No. 286), is only one of many instances in the present letters of the fear inspired by the dreaded league of Catholics against the Reformers. The interview of Philip's French wife with her mother Catharine de Medici at Bayonne, notwithstanding Guzman's earnest protestations that it was only a meeting of family affection, gave further confirmation to Cecil and his mistress that mischief was brewing for them. They were justified in their fears, for the instructions given by Philip to Alba prove that the underlying object of the interview was undoubtedly the crushing out of Protestantism all over Europe. The French version of Alba's instructions (Paris-Archives C.K. 1393, B. 192) contain the following statement of the objects of the meeting :—
"Premièrement. De faire promesse mutuelle d'avancer autant qu'il sera en leur puissance l'honneur de Dieu, sontenir la religion sainte et catholique et pour la defense d'icelle employer leurs biens, forces et moyens, et ceux de leurs sujets.
"Ne permettre jamais ès pays de leur obéissance aucuns ministres ni exercises de la religion nouvellc soit en public ou en particulier et faire faire commandement a tous lets dits ministres sortir hors des provinces et terres des dits deux princes dedans cinq mois sous peine de la vie sans qu'il soit loisible ni permis a aucun de les rec´ler, cacher et supporter, sur les memes peines, rasement de leurs maisons et confiscation de leurs biens.
"Faire publier en chacun de leurs dits pays garder et entretenir le Concile gen´ral dernierement fait et celebré à Trente et tenir la main que les decrets et cessions d'icelluy soient reçus et suivis sans aucun contredit.
"Faire protestation et promesse de ne jamais par ci-après pourvenir aucun personnage aux états royaux soit de judicatures on autres quelconques sans que le pourvu ait préablement avoir fait profession de sa foi et qu'il ait premièrement été connu étre de la susdite bonne religion, et sera mis clause par toutes les lettres des dites provisions que les pourvus demeureront et continueront en lu susdite religion sur peine d'etre destitués. De purger et netoyer leurs maisons et justices de toutes héresies et religion nouvelle et de ne souffrir en icelle ceux qui en seront détachés Casser tous gouvernements et autres grands seigneurs des conseils privés des dits Majestés et tous autres ayant charge, authorité et commandement ès dits royaumes qui se trouveront être de la dite nouvelle religion ensemble tous capitaines et autres qui sont a leur solde et font neanmoins profession de la religion contraire.
"De priver de l'Etat et honneur de leurs ordres et chevalleries et ny recevoir desormais personnages qui ne soient de . . . la religion requise."
Well might Catharine de Medici hesitate, holding her own power as she did only by nicely balancing the two religious factions, to endorse such a thorough going policy as this, and it needed all the persuasion of her daughter and promises of Spanish aid in case Catharine found the Protestants too strong for her to induce her to listen to it.
That such a league was actually negotiated is certain. A letter from Catharine to her Minister in Spain, M. de Fourquevaull, after her return from Bayonne (Bibliothèque National Paris Suppl. 225/1 fol. 64 Lettres d'Etat) tries to make her acceptance of the league conditional on a marriage of the Duke of Orleans (afterwards Henri III.) with a Princess of the house of Austria, and contains the following sentence : "Je lui dis que en faisant ces marriages et donnant quelque Etat à mon fils d'Orleans qu'il nous falloit tous joindre ensemble. C'est a savoir le Pape, l'empereur et ces deux rois, les Allemands et autres que l'on avisera. Et que le roi mon fils n'etait pas sans moyens pour aider de sa part a ce qui seroit avisé quand les dits marriages seroient faits et la dite ligue conclüe."
The power of the Protestant nobles in France and the eternal jealousy between France and Spain, together with Philip's persecution of French residents in his country and the massacre of the French expedition to Florida in the following year, made the real co-operation of the two countries in such a league impossible, but Elizabeth and her friends were not free from apprehension on the subject for long after. The attempts to propitiate Philip on the part of the English are very marked in all the later letters of his Ambassador in the present volume, and the Queen on one occasion goes so far (No. 290) as to suggest herself that negotiations should be opened for her marriage with Don Carlos. Whilst Philip was hesitating, the Catholic party in England had at length taken a step on their own account which once more altered the political problem. The Earl of Lennox and his son Darnley had gone to Scotland early in 1565, not without some suspicion on the part of Elizabeth that something sinister was afoot, and in April of the same year Lethington came to the Spanish Ambassador's house and told him (No. 296) in strict secrecy that his Queen had awaited for two years an answer to the overtures made by him previously to Bishop Quadra for her marriage with Don Carlos and as so long a delay had taken place she had arranged to marry Darnley. The French machinations of course were blamed by both diplomatists for the failure of the match, and of that of Mary with the Archduke, and the outcome of the conference was that Philip was to be asked to help the united claims of Darnley and Mary to the English crown supported as they were by the strong Catholic party in England. Now that it was too late Elizabeth saw that the consequences of the marriage which united the two principal Catholic claimants to her throne might be to force her hand with regard to the declaration of her successor, and her masterly dealing with the temporarily untoward circumstances arising from the match, in the face of great pressure from her own Council and Parliament, is perhaps more vividly set forth in Guzman's letters in the present volume than in any other published documents of the time.
Active negotiations were once more opened for Elizabeth's marriage with the Archduke, as lacking in seriousness as those which had preceded them ; the French retorted once more by pushing forward their young King as a suitor for her hand, and stronger efforts than ever were made by Elizabeth and her Council to keep the friendship of the Spaniards by attempting to stifle piracy and professing sympathy for Philip in his struggle with the Turk and his troubles in Flanders. Once more it seemed as if after years of hesitancy Philip's chance had arrived and a really bold policy of aiding revolt in England at this time in favour of Mary and Darnley would probably have succeeded. All the north of England was favourable to her claims ; the nobles were for the most part inclined to espouse her cause, and, with the exception of London and the south-coast counties, little resistance was to be feared. A blow struck at Protestantism in England at the time would have been felt keenly in Philip's own revolting Netherlands, and would perhaps have decided his doubting mother-in-law in France to take in hand firmly the extirpation of heresy there. But even when Philip decided at last to act, his excess of caution and avoidance of necessary risk frustrated his object. Mary had asked for armed forces to repel the pressure of her Protestant subjects and assist her claims. In reply (No. 327) Philip begs her to be careful and not to arouse the ire of the queen of England or to raise her (Mary's) claim to the succession. If Elizabeth attacks her for religion's sake, or if the Scotch Protestants take up arms for the same reason, then he will help her under the shelter of the Pope's name, but he ( Philip) must never appear. He is full of sympathy and love, but still more full of cautious counsels and exhortations against precipitancy, limiting his real aid for the moment to a remittance of 20,000 crowns which were sent by the hand of Mary's agent Yaxley. Elizabeth and her advisers knew of the aid as soon as it was sent. It was sufficient to arouse her resentment, as it did, and it drove her to help the Scotch lords with far more efficient aid. But, such as it was, Philip's remittance never arrived. The ship that bore Yaxley was wrecked and the envoy's dead body was found on the shore of Northumberland with much of the money on it, the earl of Northumberland, Catholic and adherent of Philip though he was, forebore not to press his claim to the treasure trove, and by the time Philip could again make up his mind dissensions had broken out between Mary and her husband and the opportunity to make use of them had gone by.
Guzman in his letters makes no disguise of his belief in the complicity of Mary in her husband's murder, and intelligence of the crime which was to be attempted reached him some weeks before its perpetration. From the arrival of the news, Guzman himself, whatever the English Catholics might say, never disguises from his master that Mary, with whose proceedings he seems really scandalised, will be useless to them as an instrument to their ends in future, his only anxiety in the first days of her widowhood being to checkmate the French in any attempt to marry her to their satisfaction.
The familiar story of Mary's capture and her marriage with Bothwell and her subsequent seizure and imprisonment at Lochleven by the nobles, is told in Guzman's letters to his master with evident anxiety with regard to the effects of these events upon the interest of Catholicism in England. His own efforts were mainly confined to representing to the Scotch agents who went backwards and forwards the enormity of coercing a crowned monarch, but it is clear from the first that he considered Mary's behaviour a serious blow to Spanish hopes in Great Britain. On Murray's hurried return to Scotland after Bothwell's flight, he had an extremely interesting and important interview with Guzman de Silva. Whilst professing an intention to endeavour to liberate the Queen, he did not succeed in disguising from the Ambassador his intention of making himself master of Scotland and plainly expressed his belief in his sister's complicity in the murder of her husband. This remarkable interview took place at the end of July 1567, and Murray even thus early appears to have been fully cognisant of the existence and purport of the much discussed "casket letters" which have always been considered the principal documentary evidence of Mary's guilt. The earliest mention of the letters which I have met with is in the present correspondence (No. 431) under date of 12th July, and the many arguments against their genuineness, founded upon the long delay in their production, thus disappear. De Croc, the French Ambassador in Scotland, was passing through London and hurrying home, no doubt with the copies of the letters in his possession, as the French Ambassador in London told Guzman on the date already mentioned that he himself had copies of the letters proving the complicity of Mary in the murder of her husband. The principal, or "first" letter, as it is usually called, is briefly but not quite correctly summarised by Guzman in the account he sends to his master, and Murray told him that it was a letter of more than three sheets of paper "all in her own handwriting and signed with her name." Those who have disputed the authority of the letters have mainly based their arguments upon the first public mention of the documents being in an Act of Murray's Council dated so late as 4th December 1567, in which it is said that the rising of the Lords in arms against their Queen, taking her prisoner and detaining her person in Lochleven, "was in the said. Queen's "awin default in as far be diverse her previe letters written and subscrivit with her awin hand and sent by her to James Erle of Bothwell, chief executor of the horrible murder (of the King) as well before the committing as after and be hir ungodly proceeding in a private marriage with him suddenly thereafter, it is most certain she was previe, art and part of the murder of the King." (fn. 3)
A few days afterwards, when Murray's first Parliament met, an Act was passed concerning the Queen's detention, which is again ascribed to "her awin default in as far as be divers letters written halelie with her awin hand."
George Dalgleish, Bothwell's servant, in whose possession the casket is said to have been found, was captured on the 20th June 1567, and was examined before Lords Morton, Athol and Grange, a week afterwards, (fn. 4) A copy of his examination and deposition attested by Sir John Ballendane, justice clerk, is still extant, and in it no mention whatever is made of the casket ; indeed, so far as I can learn, Guzman's reference to the letters in the present volume is the first that is recorded. If the documents were genuine, there was of course ample time for Morton, in whose possession the casket must have been, to have written full particulars to Murray in Lyons or Paris between the 20th June when Dalgleish was taken and the end of July when Murray saw the Ambassador in London, whereas it is impossible to believe that Murray thus early whilst hurrying back from France and before seeing his associates would venture to concoct such an elaborate forgery as this would have been, particularly since we now learn from Guzman that the French Ambassador in London knew the purport of the letters early in July at a time when it was impossible for Murray to have been informed of their existence.
Great as was the blow to the Catholics struck by Mary's conduct, it was apparently counterbalanced for the time by the fall of Valenciennes and the submission of the Netherlands. Philip after two years of hesitation had decided not to make the journey thither himself, but to send Alba on his fell march to drown in blood what was left of Flemish stubbornness. But it soon became evident that, in despite of Alba in the Netherlands, triumphant Catholicism was not to have all its own way or to go unchallenged elsewhere. Over the borders into France, across the narrow sea to England, flocked the affrighted Protestants flying from the dread avenger, and soon France once more was aflame with civil religious warfare. English reformers could not fail to be deeply moved at the fate of their co-religionists in the Netherlands, and again, as in the time of Quadra, the prosecutions against those who attended Mass at the Spanish embassy were commenced. But Guzman was less sensitive than the Bishop on the subject, and the times were altered. Indeed not only was Guzman obliged to temporise upon this matter, but he had to exert all his influence to keep up the apparent friendship between his master and the Queen and to persuade her not to help the Huguenots who once more were fighting for faith and freedom in France. This was briefly the position at the end of 1567, to which date the letters in the present volume extend.
Martin A. S. Hume.