Изображения страниц

prevent these evils by appointing another successor, and urged him to leave the crown to his cousin, Lady Jane Grey. Edward would have appointed Elizabeth, but Northumberland said he could not exclude one of his sisters from the throne without shutting out both.

The next heir after Mary and Elizabeth was the young Queen of Scots, the granddaughter of Henry the Seventh's eldest daughter Margaret. But as the Queen of Scots was a Roman Catholic, Edward did not think of her for his successor. The Lady Jane Grey was the granddaughter of Henry the Seventh's youngest daughter Mary, who married Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk. She was the most learned, and at the same time the loveliest and most gentle lady at the English court, of the same age with the young king, and one of his favourite companions. But the reason why Northumberland wished her to be queen, was not because she was wise and good, but because he had married his youngest son, Guildford Dudley, to Lady Jane.

When Edward told his judges and councillors that he was going to leave the crown away from his sisters, they assured him that it would be contrary to law. But Northumberland replied that Henry the Eighth had caused one of his parliaments to pass an act which shut out both Mary and Elizabeth from the throne, though he changed his mind afterwards, and made another parliament pass an act which gave them back their right of succession: and he said a parliament should be called in order to give the crown to Lady Jane. But this was not done. Edward died on the 6th July, 1553; praying almost with his



last breath, "O Lord, save thy chosen people of England. Defend this realm from papistry, and maintain thy true religion."



(From 1553 to 1554.)

NORTHUMBERLAND concealed the death of Edward for two days that he might take measures for securing the crown to his daughter-in-law. He however deceived himself greatly in supposing that the nation would accept a sovereign at his bidding. Even if the Lady Jane had had any right to the throne, she was so young that the real ruler of England for years to come must have been Northumberland; and the people hated him. He pretended to be a friend to the Protestants, because he hoped by their assistance to settle himself firmly in power; but they did not trust him, and he owned afterwards that he was, all the while, a Romanist at heart. The Lady Jane knew nothing of his schemes for placing her on the throne, and did not wish to be a queen. When Northumberland and her own father, the Duke of Suffolk, came to tell her that King Edward was dead, and that she was to succeed him, she fainted and fell to the ground; and when she recovered her senses, and her parents knelt before her, urging and entreating her to assume the crown, she wept bitterly, and told them


she had no right to it while the sisters of Edward were living. They forced her at last to take the title of queen; but her reign lasted only for a few days.

Mary was not at all intimidated by Northumberland's proceedings; the Roman Catholics of England were on her side, and many of the Protestants also, because she was the lawful successor to King Edward; and they were the more ready to take up arms for her, because she promised that no one should be molested on account of his religion. At the end of ten days Northumberland saw that his cause was hopeless. He was obliged to proclaim Mary queen, and the Lady Jane, gladly laying aside the royal state she had been forced to assume, returned with her husband to her own quiet home.

They were not suffered to remain in peace; Mary's ministers threw them into prison on charge of treason, and they were condemned to die, though the sentence was not immediately executed. Northumberland was put to death at once. Suffolk was pardoned; but at the end of a few months he attempted a rebellion, and was then put to death. His innocent daughter shared in his punishment, though she had taken no part in his crime. Mary gave orders that Jane and her husband should be beheaded without further delay.

They died on the same day, but not together; Lord Guildford Dudley was executed on Tower Hill, Lady Jane within the walls of the Tower. Early in the morning Jane saw her husband led through the gates towards the scaffold, and about an hour afterwards, chancing to look through the window, she beheld his bleeding body brought back in a cart,



When she had seen that sad sight the bitterest part of her lot was over. She went forth to die with the same gentle pious firmness which had marked all her conduct. She was only seventeen at the time of her death.

Suffolk had been encouraged to make his fatal attempt at rebellion by the discontent with which men were already beginning to regard Queen Mary's government. She had quickly departed from her promise about religion; the Protestant bishops, and many of the best men in the Church, had already been thrown into prison. Bonner had been replaced in the bishopric of London, and, with other men like-minded, was "breathing out threatenings and slaughter" against the Reformers; and the chief post in the government had been given to Gardiner, a clever statesman, but a cruel, persecuting bishop.

Mary was hardly seated on the throne when she began to exchange letters and messages with the pope, and with Cardinal Pole, to whom she was much attached; asking them to assist her in bringing back England under the authority of the pope. This was done with great secrecy, but the Roman-catholic worship had been at once openly restored, the images which had been taken out of the churches replaced, and the English prayers forbidden to be used. The Protestants foresaw that a fiery persecution was coming, and many fled to foreign countries; others remained, thinking that it was their duty to seal their faith with their blood.

All the queen's subjects, of whatever religion they might be, murmured greatly when they heard that she meant to marry Philip of Spain, the son of the Emperor Charles. Philip was but a young man,

many years younger than Mary; but he was already notorious for a proud, stern, gloomy disposition, and both his father and himself were most cruel persecutors of their Protestant subjects. It was well known that Philip hated a free government; Englishmen feared that he would try to destroy their liberties, and dreaded him the more because he possessed fleets and armies with which to uphold his tyranny. The Spanish ambassador, who came to conclude the marriage, narrowly escaped being torn to pieces by the populace, and within a few weeks of his landing, a formidable insurrection broke out in Kent.

It was headed by a brave, rash young man, named Sir Thomas Wyatt, who declared that he took up arms to prevent the queen from marrying a Spaniard. Some of Mary's own troops joined him, and he nearly obtained possession of the city of London. The queen behaved very bravely; she went to the Guildhall, where the citizens were assembled, and promised them that she would think no more about marrying Philip, if the parliament did not heartily agree to it. This encouraged them to take up arms in her cause, and when Wyatt attempted to force his way into London, he was repulsed both at London Bridge and at Ludgate. (In those old times, these were fortified posts, defended by strong gates and bars of iron.)

Wyatt was obliged to surrender, and was put to death for his treason; but not until he had been detained in prison for a month, during which time Mary's ministers strove to make him accuse the princess Elizabeth of having shared in his plot.

Elizabeth was much more beloved by the people than Mary; and Gardiner and the queen's Spanish

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »