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Accession To The Throne

Lady Jane Grey

Personal Character

The Invincible Armada

Elizabeth's Mother

The War In Scotland

The Conclusion

The Earl Of Essex

The Spanish Match

Elizabeth In The Tower



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The Childhood Of A Princess

Elizabeth's Lovers

Elizabeth In The Tower

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The Earl Of Essex

The Conclusion

The War In Scotland

Elizabeth's Mother

The Invincible Armada

Personal Character






The War In Scotland








1559-1560

Elizabeth and Mary Queen of Scots.--Their rivalry.--Character of
Mary.--Character of Elizabeth.--Elizabeth's celebrity while
living.--Interest in Mary when dead.--Real nature of the question
at issue between Mary and Elizabeth.--The two marriages.--One or
the other necessarily null.--Views of Mary's friends.--Views of
Elizabeth's friends.--Circumstances of Henry the Eighth's first
marriage.--The papal dispensation.--Doubts about it.--England
turns Protestant.--The marriage annulled.--Mary in France.--She
becomes Queen of France.--Mary's pretensions to the English
crown.--Elizabeth's fears.--Measures of Elizabeth.--Progress of
Protestantism in Scotland.--Difficulties in Scotland.--Elizabeth's
interference.--Fruitless negotiations.--The war goes on.--The
French shut up in Leith.--Situation of the town.--The English
victorious.--The Treaty of Edinburgh.--Stipulations of the
treaty.--Mary refuses to ratify it.--Death of Mary's husband.--She
returns to Scotland.


Queen Elizabeth and Mary Queen of Scots are strongly associated together
in the minds of all readers of English history. They were cotemporary
sovereigns, reigning at the same time over sister kingdoms. They were
cousins, and yet, precisely on account of the family relationship which
existed between them, they became implacable foes. The rivalry and
hostility, sometimes open and sometimes concealed, was always in action,
and, after a contest of more than twenty years, Elizabeth triumphed. She
made Mary her prisoner, kept her many years a captive, and at last
closed the contest by commanding, or at least allowing, her fallen rival
to be beheaded.

Thus Elizabeth had it all her own way while the scenes of her life and
of Mary's were transpiring, but since that time mankind have generally
sympathized most strongly with the conquered one, and condemned the
conqueror. There are several reasons for this, and among them is the
vast influence exerted by the difference in the personal character of
the parties. Mary was beautiful, feminine in spirit, and lovely.
Elizabeth was talented, masculine, and plain. Mary was artless,
unaffected, and gentle. Elizabeth was heartless, intriguing, and
insincere. With Mary, though her ruling principle was ambition, her
ruling passion was love. Her love led her to great transgressions and
into many sorrows, but mankind pardon the sins and pity the sufferings
which are caused by love more readily than those of any other origin.
With Elizabeth, ambition was the ruling principle, and the ruling
passion too. Love, with her, was only a pastime. Her transgressions were
the cool, deliberate, well-considered acts of selfishness and desire of
power. During her life-time her success secured her the applauses of the
world. The world is always ready to glorify the greatness which rises
visibly before it, and to forget sufferings which are meekly and
patiently borne in seclusion and solitude. Men praised and honored
Elizabeth, therefore, while she lived, and neglected Mary. But since the
halo and the fascination of the visible greatness and glory have passed
away, they have found a far greater charm in Mary's beauty and
misfortune than in her great rival's pride and power.

There is often thus a great difference in the comparative interest we
take in persons or scenes, when, on the one hand, they are realities
before our eyes, and when, on the other, they are only imaginings which
are brought to our minds by pictures or descriptions. The hardships
which it was very disagreeable or painful to bear, afford often great
amusement or pleasure in the recollection. The old broken gate which a
gentleman would not tolerate an hour upon his grounds, is a great beauty
in the picture which hangs in his parlor. We shun poverty and distress
while they are actually existing; nothing is more disagreeable to us;
and we gaze upon prosperity and wealth with never-ceasing pleasure. But
when they are gone, and we have only the tale to hear, it is the story
of sorrow and suffering which possesses the charm. Thus it happened that
when the two queens were living realities, Elizabeth was the center of
attraction and the object of universal homage; but when they came to be
themes of history, all eyes and hearts began soon to turn instinctively
to Mary. It was London, and Westminster, and Kenilworth that possessed
the interest while Elizabeth lived, but it is Holyrood and Loch Leven
now.

It results from these causes that Mary's story is read far more
frequently than Elizabeth's, and this operates still further to the
advantage of the former, for we are always prone to take sides with the
heroine of the tale we are reading. All these considerations, which have
had so much influence on the judgment men form, or, rather, on the
feeling to which they incline in this famous contest, have, it must be
confessed, very little to do with the true merits of the case. And if we
make a serious attempt to lay all such considerations aside, and to look
into the controversy with cool and rigid impartiality, we shall find it
very difficult to arrive at any satisfactory conclusion. There are two
questions to be decided. In advancing their conflicting claims to the
English crown, was it Elizabeth or Mary that was in the right? If
Elizabeth was right, were the measures which she resorted to to secure
her own rights, and to counteract Mary's pretensions, politically
justifiable? We do not propose to add our own to the hundred decisions
which various writers have given to this question, but only to narrate
the facts, and leave each reader to come to his own conclusions.

The foundation of the long and dreadful quarrel between these royal
cousins was, as has been already remarked, their consanguinity, which
made them both competitors for the same throne; and as that throne was,
in some respects, the highest and most powerful in the world, it is not
surprising that two such ambitious women should be eager and persevering
in their contest for it. By turning to the genealogical table on page
68, where a view is presented of the royal family of England in the time
of Elizabeth, the reader will see once more what was the precise
relationship which the two queens bore to each other and to the
succession. By this table it is very evident that Elizabeth was the true
inheritor of the crown, provided it were admitted that she was the
lawful daughter and heir of King Henry the Eighth, and this depended on
the question of the validity of her father's marriage with his first
wife, Catharine of Aragon; for, as has been before said, he was married
to Anne Boleyn before obtaining any thing like a divorce from Catharine;
consequently, the marriage with Elizabeth's mother could not be legally
valid, unless that with Catharine had been void from the beginning.
The friends of Mary Queen of Scots maintained that it was not thus
void, and that, consequently, the marriage with Anne Boleyn was null;
that Elizabeth, therefore, the descendant of the marriage, was not,
legally and technically, a daughter of Henry the Eighth, and,
consequently, not entitled to inherit his crown; and that the crown, of
right, ought to descend to the next heir, that is, to Mary Queen of
Scots herself.

Queen Elizabeth's friends and partisans maintained, on the other hand,
that the marriage of King Henry with Catharine was null and void from
the beginning, because Catharine had been before the wife of his
brother. The circumstances of this marriage were very curious and
peculiar. It was his father's work, and not his own. His father was King
Henry the Seventh. Henry the Seventh had several children, and among
them were his two oldest sons, Arthur and Henry. When Arthur was about
sixteen years old, his father, being very much in want of money,
conceived the plan of replenishing his coffers by marrying his son to a
rich wife. He accordingly contracted a marriage between him and
Catharine of Aragon, Catharine's father agreeing to pay him two hundred
thousand crowns as her dowry. The juvenile bridegroom enjoyed the honors
and pleasures of married life for a few months, and then died.

This event was a great domestic calamity to the king, not because he
mourned the loss of his son, but that he could not bear the idea of the
loss of the dowry. By the law and usage in such cases, he was bound not
only to forego the payment of the other half of the dowry, but he had
himself no right to retain the half that he had already received. While
his son lived, being a minor, the father might, not improperly, hold the
money in his son's name; but when he died this right ceased, and as
Arthur left no child, Henry perceived that he should be obliged to pay
back the money. To avoid this unpleasant necessity, the king conceived
the plan of marrying the youthful widow again to his second boy, Henry,
who was about a year younger than Arthur, and he made proposals to this
effect to the King of Aragon.

The King of Aragon made no objection to this proposal, except that it
was a thing unheard of among Christian nations, or heard of only to be
condemned, for a man or even a boy to marry his brother's widow. All
laws, human and divine, were clear and absolute against this. Still, if
the dispensation of the pope could be obtained, he would make no
objection. Catharine might espouse the second boy, and he would allow
the one hundred thousand crowns already paid to stand, and would also
pay the other hundred thousand. The dispensation was accordingly
obtained, and every thing made ready for the marriage.

Very soon after this, however, and before the new marriage was carried
into effect, King Henry the Seventh died, and this second boy, now the
oldest son, though only about seventeen years of age, ascended the
throne as King Henry the Eighth. There was great discussion and debate,
soon after his accession, whether the marriage which his father had
arranged should proceed. Some argued that no papal dispensation could
authorize or justify such a marriage. Others maintained that a papal
dispensation could legalize any thing; for it is a doctrine of the
Catholic Church that the pope has a certain discretionary power over all
laws, human and divine, under the authority given to his great
predecessor, the Apostle Peter, by the words of Christ: "Whatsoever thou
shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt
loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."[C] Henry seems not to have
puzzled his head at all with the legal question; he wanted to have the
young widow for his wife, and he settled the affair on that ground
alone. They were married.

[Footnote C: Matthew, xvi. 19]

Catharine was a faithful and dutiful spouse; but when, at last, Henry
fell in love with Anne Boleyn, he made these old difficulties a pretext
for discarding her. He endeavored, as has been already related, to
induce the papal authorities to annul their dispensation; because they
would not do it, he espoused the Protestant cause, and England, as a
nation, seceded from the Catholic communion. The ecclesiastical and
parliamentary authorities of his own realm then, being made Protestant,
annulled the marriage, and thus Anne Boleyn, to whom he had previously
been married by a private ceremony, became legally and technically his
wife. If this annulling of his first marriage were valid, then Elizabeth
was his heir--otherwise not; for if the pope's dispensation was to
stand, then Catharine was a wife. Anne Boleyn would in that case, of
course, have been only a companion, and Elizabeth, claiming through her,
a usurper.

The question, thus, was very complicated. It branched into extensive
ramifications, which opened a wide field of debate, and led to endless
controversies. It is not probable, however, that Mary Queen of Scots,
or her friends, gave themselves much trouble about the legal points at
issue. She and they were all Catholics, and it was sufficient for them
to know that the Holy Father at Rome had sanctioned the marriage of
Catharine, and that that marriage, if allowed to stand, made her the
Queen of England. She was at this time in France. She had been sent
there at a very early period of her life, to escape the troubles of her
native land, and also to be educated. She was a gentle and beautiful
child, and as she grew up amid the gay scenes and festivities of Paris,
she became a very great favorite, being universally beloved. She married
at length, though while she was still quite young, the son of the French
king. Her young husband became king himself soon afterward, on account
of his father's being killed, in a very remarkable manner, at a
tournament; and thus Mary, Queen of Scots before, became also Queen of
France now. All these events, passed over thus very summarily here, are
narrated in full detail in the History of Mary Queen of Scots pertaining
to this series.

While Mary was thus residing in France as the wife of the king, she was
surrounded by a very large and influential circle, who were Catholics
like herself, and who were also enemies of Elizabeth and of England, and
glad to find any pretext for disturbing her reign. These persons brought
forward Mary's claim. They persuaded Mary that she was fairly entitled
to the English crown. They awakened her youthful ambition, and excited
strong desires in her heart to attain to the high elevation of Queen of
England. Mary at length assumed the title in some of her official acts,
and combined the arms of England with those of Scotland in the
escutcheons with which her furniture and her plate were emblazoned.

When Queen Elizabeth learned that Mary was advancing such pretensions to
her crown, she was made very uneasy by it. There was, perhaps, no
immediate danger, but then there was a very large Catholic party in
England, and they would naturally espouse Mary's cause and they might,
at some future time, gather strength so as to make Elizabeth a great
deal of trouble. She accordingly sent an embassador over to France to
remonstrate against Mary's advancing these pretensions. But she could
get no satisfactory reply. Mary would not disavow her claim to
Elizabeth's crown, nor would she directly assert it. Elizabeth, then,
knowing that all her danger lay in the power and influence of her own
Catholic subjects, went to work, very cautiously and warily, but in a
very extended and efficient way, to establish the Reformation, and to
undermine and destroy all traces of Catholic power. She proceeded in
this work with great circumspection, so as not to excite opposition or
alarm.

In the mean time, the Protestant cause was making progress in Scotland
too, by its own inherent energies, and against the influence of the
government. Finally, the Scotch Protestants organized themselves, and
commenced an open rebellion against the regent whom Mary had left in
power while she was away. They sent to Elizabeth to come and aid them.
Mary and her friends in France sent French troops to assist the
government. Elizabeth hesitated very much whether to comply with the
request of the rebels. It is very dangerous for a sovereign to
countenance rebellion in any way. Then she shrunk, too, from the expense
which she foresaw that such an attempt would involve. To fit out a
fleet, and to levy and equip an army, and to continue the forces thus
raised in action during a long and uncertain campaign, would cost a
large sum of money, and Elizabeth was constitutionally economical and
frugal. But then, on the other hand, as she deliberated upon the affair
long and, anxiously, both alone and with her council, she thought that,
if she should so far succeed as to get the government of Scotland into
her power, she could compel Mary to renounce forever all claims to the
English crown, by threatening her, if she would not do it, with the loss
of her own.

Finally, she decided on making the attempt. Cecil, her wise and prudent
counselor, strongly advised it. He said it was far better to carry on
the contest with Mary and the French in one of their countries than in
her own. She began to make preparations. Mary and the French government,
on learning this, were alarmed in their turn. They sent word to
Elizabeth that for her to render countenance and aid to rebels in arms
against their sovereign, in a sister kingdom, was wholly unjustifiable,
and they remonstrated most earnestly against it. Besides making this
remonstrance, they offered, as an inducement of another kind, that if
she would refrain from taking any part in the contest in Scotland, they
would restore to her the great town and citadel of Calais, which her
sister had been so much grieved to lose. To this Elizabeth replied
that, so long as Mary adhered to her pretensions to the English crown,
she should be compelled to take energetic measures to protect herself
from them; and as to Calais, the possession of a fishing town on a
foreign coast was of no moment to her in comparison with the peace and
security of her own realm. This answer did not tend to close the breach.
Besides the bluntness of the refusal of their offer, the French were
irritated and vexed to hear their famous sea-port spoken of so
contemptuously.

Elizabeth accordingly fitted out a fleet and an army, and sent them
northward. A French fleet, with re-enforcements for Mary's adherents in
this contest, set sail from France at about the same time. It was a very
important question to be determined which of these two fleets should get
first upon the stage of action.


DISTANCE.]

In the mean time, the Protestant party in Scotland, or the rebels, as
Queen Mary and her government called them, had had very hard work to
maintain their ground. There was a large French force already there, and
their co-operation and aid made the government too strong for the
insurgents to resist. But, when Elizabeth's English army crossed the
frontier, the face of affairs was changed. The French forces retreated
in their turn. The English army advanced. The Scotch Protestants came
forth from the recesses of the Highlands to which they had retreated,
and, drawing closer and closer around the French and the government
forces, they hemmed them in more and more narrowly, and at last shut
them up in the ancient town of Leith, to which they retreated in search
of a temporary shelter, until the French fleet, with re-enforcements,
should arrive.

The town of Leith is on the shore of the Firth of Forth, not far from
Edinburgh. It is the port or landing-place of Edinburgh, in approaching
it from the sea. It is on the southern shore of the firth, and Edinburgh
stands on higher land, about two miles south of it. Leith was strongly
fortified in those days, and the French army felt very secure there,
though yet anxiously awaiting the arrival of the fleet which was to
release them. The English army advanced in the mean time, eager to get
possession of the city before the expected succors should arrive. The
English made an assault upon the walls. The French, with desperate
bravery, repelled it. The French made a sortie; that is, they rushed out
of a sudden and attacked the English lines. The English concentrated
their forces at the point attacked, and drove them back again. These
struggles continued, both sides very eager for victory, and both
watching all the time for the appearance of a fleet in the offing.

At length, one day, a cloud of white sails appeared rounding the point
of land which forms the southern boundary of the firth, and the French
were thrown at once into the highest state of exultation and excitement.
But this pleasure was soon turned into disappointment and chagrin by
finding that it was Elizabeth's fleet, and not theirs, which was coming
into view. This ended the contest. The French fleet never arrived. It
was dispersed and destroyed by a storm. The besieged army sent out a
flag of truce, proposing to suspend hostilities until the terms of a
treaty could be agreed upon. The truce was granted. Commissioners were
appointed on each side. These commissioners met at Edinburgh, and agreed
upon the terms of a permanent peace. The treaty, which is called in
history the Treaty of Edinburgh, was solemnly signed by the
commissioners appointed to make it, and then transmitted to England and
to France to be ratified by the respective queens. Queen Elizabeth's
forces and the French forces were then both, as the treaty provided,
immediately withdrawn. The dispute, too, between the Protestants and the
Catholics in Scotland was also settled, though it is not necessary for
our purpose in this narrative to explain particularly in what way.

There was one point, however, in the stipulations of this treaty which
is of essential importance in this narrative, and that is, that it was
agreed that Mary should relinquish all claims whatever to the English
crown so long as Elizabeth lived. This, in fact, was the essential point
in the whole transaction. Mary, it is true, was not present to agree to
it; but the commissioners agreed to it in her name, and it was
stipulated that Mary should solemnly ratify the treaty as soon as it
could be sent to her.

But Mary would not ratify it--at least so far as this last article was
concerned. She said that she had no intention of doing any thing to
molest Elizabeth in her possession of the throne, but that as to
herself, whatever rights might legally and justly belong to her, she
could not consent to sign them away. The other articles of the treaty
had, however, in the mean time, brought the war to a close, and both the
French and English armies were withdrawn. Neither party had any
inclination to renew the conflict; but yet, so far as the great question
between Mary and Elizabeth was concerned, the difficulty was as far from
being settled as ever. In fact, it was in a worse position than before;
for, in addition to her other grounds of complaint against Mary,
Elizabeth now charged her with dishonorably refusing to be bound by a
compact which had been solemnly made in her name, by agents whom she had
fully authorized to make it.

It was about this time that Mary's husband, the King of France, died,
and, after enduring various trials and troubles in France, Mary
concluded to return to her own realm. She sent to Elizabeth to get a
safe-conduct--a sort of permission allowing her to pass unmolested
through the English seas. Elizabeth refused to grant it unless Mary
would first ratify the treaty of Edinburgh. This Mary would not do, but
undertook, rather, to get home without the permission. Elizabeth sent
ships to intercept her; but Mary's little squadron, when they approached
the shore, were hidden by a fog, and so she got safe to land. After this
there was quiet between Mary and Elizabeth for many years, but no
peace.





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