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requiring them to make a new return, but strictly charging them only to select such as were favourable to the ancient faith; it was even said that the imperial ambassador brought over 400,000 crowns to be employed in influencing the elections, while a still more effectual means was devised by Gardiner, who procured from the pope a bull confirming to the present possessors all the lands and property which had been alienated from the church during the last two reigns, so that the nobility had no longer the powerful incentive of self-interest to oppose the restoration of the pope's authority. It was on the 1st of November, 1554, that parliament, which was entirely devoted to Mary, met, and it immediately proceeded to reverse the attainder of cardinal Pole, and take other measures for the restoration of the catholic religion the bills against heresy which had been rejected in the previous parliament were passed, and it was made treason to compass or attempt the life of the queen's consort. But the commons would go no further; they refused to sanction the coronation of the king, and it was with difficulty that the queen obtained permission for Philip to be nominated guardian of her expected issue, "if it should happen to her otherwise than well in the time of her travail." So certain was Mary that her anxious desire for the birth of a son was about to be realized, that letters were prepared for the foreign courts, signed by the queen's hand, that they might be in readiness as soon as the joyful event occurred, and a general thanksgiving was ordered throughout the realm; but as the time advanced, the physicians discovered that the supposed pregnancy was but the symptoms of an incurable dropsy, which in a few years terminated her life.
The commencement of the year 1555 was marked by the lighting of the fires of religious persecution: Hooper, Rogers, Ridley, and Latimer, men eminent in the cause of the Reformation, were amongst the first who were brought to the stake; animated by their example, many of the laity nobly maintained the same cause, and instead of shunning the terrors of persecu tion, gladly surrendered themselves martyrs to their faith. In the short space of four years 290 persons* are said to have perished in the flames for the cause of religious liberty: but this estimate is probably far too low; lord Burghley, who was intimate at court and had every opportunity of forming a correct judgment, says that at least 400 perished by imprisonment, torture, famine, and fire, amongst whom were sixty women and forty children. It has been judiciously remarked that the cause of civil and religious liberty always gains more in times of adversity than in those of prosperity, and this was well exemplified in the
*Collins says 290, Speed 274, and Burnet 284.
reign of Mary: those who had remained proof against all the eloquence of the reformers succumbed to the generous feelings of humanity. They could not but admire a faith which enabled men to die thus cheerfully, and doubted of the truth of a system which required the aid of the stake and the fagot. Hence many who were catholics at the commencement of Mary's reign were protestants at its close, and hence her successor found so little difficulty in establishing the reformed faith."* It is an error into which many continental historians have unwittingly fallen, that the English submitted to so many changes in religion because they were indifferent to religious convictions; the very contrary is the true explanation of this singular phenomenon in history. It was in England owing to the essential freedom of her institutions and the amount of religious and civil liberty enjoyed, that the people were in a great measure indifferent to the state creed, and consequently offered but little opposition to the change of the national faith. The sects in England were so equally balanced that as the crown inclined to the one or the other it gained the ascendency; but it was the religion of the state and not of the people that was changed, and the minority still continued to enjoy the same amount of personal liberty that they did when in the majority: such was not the case in most countries where the dictum of the majority was supreme, whether under a monarchy or a republic; nor was it the case in England under Mary, who disregarded that vital principle of the English constitution, and followed the example of Spain, and from this time the English were determined that no catholic prince should again possess the throne. It must, however, be recollected, to the honour of Philip, that he was adverse to these violent proceedings, and after his departure to Flanders, whither he had been sent for by his father the emperor, who, wearied with worldly honours, was desirous of seeing his children settled in their possessions before his death, the government of England was much worse administered; the queen, urged on by her indiscriminating zeal, had restored to the church such of its lands as remained in possession of the crown, and with considerable difficulty procured a statute to be passed restoring the tenths and first-fruits which had been forfeited to the crown by Henry VIII., thus reducing the royal revenue by £60,000 a year, a loss which had to be supplied by forced loans and benevolences. Notwithstanding the statute of Richard III. making such exactions illegal, a slight difference was invented to evade the letter of the law, and privy seals were sent to all persons of credit, specifying the amount they were required to lend to the crown, and promising to repay
* Keightley, Hist. Eng. i. 457.
the same. In Norfolk and Suffolk, Mary gave orders for seizing all the corn for the victualling of the fleet, and levied an army by conscription of ten thousand men, designed for the assistance of Philip against the French; but as the council were extremely adverse to involving England in a war with France for the sake of Spanish interests, it was detained. Philip, now the most powerful monarch of Europe, being master of Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, and New World, visited England with the hopes of overcoming these scruples. In this he succeeded, aided by his English auxiliaries; he defeated the constable of France and took St. Quintin, but in the course of the war Calais, the last remaining fruits of the glorious victories of the Plantagenets, was lost to the English crown, after having been in its possession above two hundred years. In reality the loss of Calais was a real advantage to England, as it put a stop to those injudicious schemes of conquest and continental dominion which only expended the blood and treasure of England without any profitable return; but the nation at that time regarded it as a public disgrace, and Mary felt it most acutely. Amid the many blemishes of this queen's reign, her concern for the national honour shines out as a noble trait in her character. "If you open my breast," said she, when on her death-bed, "you will find Calais engraved upon my heart." She died of an epidemic fever on the 17th of November, 1558, one day before her friend and relation cardinal Pole, little regretted by her own party and greatly hated by the protestants. She had the elements of a noble mind, had it been unclogged by superstition and expanded under a more genial influence; she was, however, devout, charitable, and just, and capable of great mental energy; but all her virtues were nipped in the bud by the blighting influence of intolerant superstition; and, as a political act, the execution of the lady Jane must always meet with the severest censure.
State of parties on the accession of Elizabeth-Claim of Mary queen of Scots -Protestantism definitively established-Act of uniformity--The commons petition the queen to marry-Treaty of Château Cambresis-- Elizabeth supports the national party in Scotland--Calvinistic doctrines-Return of Mary to Scotland--Holy League--Question of the succession--Suitors to the British queens--Civil contests in Scotland--Murder of Darnley, and escape of Mary to England--Her arraignment before the lords commissioners Norfolk's conspiracy -- League of the catholic states against Elizabeth--Massacre of St. Bartholomew--Assistance sent to the protestants in France and the Netherlands--Stringent laws against catholicsStrength of religious parties in England-Persecution of the puritans-Increased influence of parliament-Babington's conspiracy-Trial of MaryHer condemnation and execution - The armada - Ascendency of the English at sea- -Irish rebellion-Execution of Essex-Debate on monopolies-Defeat of Tyrone, and subjugation of Ireland--Elizabeth's deathHigh prerogative of the crown-Star Chamber and high commissionInterference with parliaments and juries-Abuse of power by privy councillors-Prosperous government of Elizabeth--Advancement of commerce and manufactures--Maritime enterprise-Literature.
THE news of Mary's death was received with universal satisfaction throughout the country. Many of the leading men hastened to acknowledge Elizabeth as the rightful heir to the crown, her position was extremely doubtful. It was by no means sure that the country would submit without opposition to her authority; in the rural districts the Romish party were still very strong, and Mary queen of Scots had assumed the arms and title of queen of England and Ireland. The prelates too, perceiving the course affairs were likely to take, had withdrawn from Elizabeth their support, and not one out of the fifteen bishops who then occupied the bench (eleven of the sees being vacant) volunteered his services to perform the ceremony of coronation. Oglethorpe, bishop of Carlisle, was at length prevailed on; but archbishop Heath and many of the clergy absented themselves from the ceremony; for although acknowledged by the nation, it was evident to all that if the late queen was the legitimate daughter of Henry VIII., Elizabeth must be regarded as illegitimate, and the Roman catholic cabinets had actually pledged themselves to support the cause of Mary, queen of Scots and dauphiness of
France, who was considered the legitimate heir, by reason of her descent from Margaret, eldest sister of Henry VIII. The pope, whose authority had been re-acknowledged in England, declared in her favour. France and Scotland were already at war with England: it was therefore to protestantism that Elizabeth could alone look for the support of her title; and assisted by the advice of sir Nicholas Bacon and sir William Cecil, men of great capacity and application, she proceeded by slow and moderate steps to dissolve the courts for the trial of heretics, and to release those who had been imprisoned for their religion, and next to proclaim religious toleration here she paused, till the assembling of parliament should evidence more clearly the disposition of the nation. The cruelties of Mary's reign had disgusted all moderate men with the creed of Rome, and as soon as the queen's inclinations were known, almost the whole nation became protestant by choice. On the 25th of January, 1559, when parliament assembled, the sentiments expressed by a majority in both houses were full of devotion to the crown. Elizabeth accordingly proceeded to make other reforms; she proposed the establishment of religion as it existed in her father's days, notwithstanding the remonstrances of the bishops and the strenuous opposition of the clergy and universities. Tithes and first-fruits were restored to the crown, and the queen was declared supreme head of the church, with full powers to make and repeal canons, alter discipline and ceremonies, and suppress heresies, without even consulting parliament or convocation. It was made incumbent on all who received any office in the state to accept the oath of supremacy, and those rejecting it were declared to have incurred the penalties of forfeiture for the first offence, for the second those of præmunire,the third was treason. The patronage of the church was likewise invested in the crown, and bishops were prohibited alienating or leasing the revenues of their sees for more than twenty-one years; but as an exception was made in favour of the crown, the church derived but comparatively small advantage from this well-meant measure. A bill was brought into the commons for restoring the liturgy of Edward VI., but the queen wisely objected to any measures which might bear even the semblance of severity, and would not permit the Book of Common Prayer to be used in the churches until it had been reconsidered and such passages expunged as bore hardly on the catholics, or were the subject of animadversion amongst the protestant communities in Germany. She left to parliament and convocation the right of judging heretics, and only reserved to herself the power of punishing bishops who should refuse the oath of supremacy, by depriving them of their dignities. The matters in dispute be