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time, when, upon the importunate entreaties of the States, she assisted them with 20,000l., it was upon condition that they should neither change their religion nor their prince, nor receive the French into the Netherlands, nor refuse a peace, if don John would condescend to reasonable conditions; and that, if such a peace were obtained, this money should go toward the payment of the Spanish soldiers, who were then in a state of mutiny because of their arrears." But it was with no amicable intentions toward the queen of England, that don John took upon himself the command in the Netherlands. He had been bred up in ignorance that Charles V. was his father, but in a manner which qualified him for any rank to which he might be advanced; and Philip, after acknowledging him as his brother, though illegitimate, had placed him in circumstances the most favourable to an ambitious mind, by appointing him to the command of that fleet with which he achieved at Lepanto a naval victory more important and more famous than any preceding one in modern history. Having taken possession of Tunis, he conceived the hope of becoming the founder of a Christian kingdom, which might one day vie in power and prosperity with ancient Carthaget: and when Philip refused his consent to a project the difficulties of which were well understood by Spanish statesmen, don John, with the approbation of the pope, fixed upon England as the seat of the kingdom to which he imagined himself born. A marriage with the queen of Scots was to provide him with a claim to it, and possession was to be taken by force of arms. The English emigrants encouraged him in this design; and he represented to Philip that England might be conquered more easily than Zeeland, and urged him to grant him some port in the north of Spain from whence he might invade it with a fleet. Meantime he had privately communicated with the Guises; and this part of his negotiation was discovered and made known to Elizabeth by the prince of Orange, as * Camden, 208. 210. 215
† Memorial de Ant. Perez. 298.
LEAGUE WITH THE STATES.
also that the intention was to occupy the Isle of Man, and that the aid of Mary's partisans in the south of Scotland was counted on, and assistance from Ireland, and an insurrection of the papists in the northern counties and in North Wales. When the truth of this information had been ascertained, Elizabeth entered A. D. into a league with the states.*
That league she notified by an ambassador to the king of Spain, praying him and the governors of the Netherlands, to call to mind how often and how earnestly, and in how friendly an intent, she had long forewarned them of the evils impending over those countries; how carefully she had endeavoured to keep them within their duty to the king; how she had refused to take possession of the rich provinces which had been offered to her, and refused also to protect them; and how she had supplied them largely with money, when all things were in a most desperate and deplorable state, that they might not, for want thereof, be necessitated to call in another power, and break the design of peace which had lately been set on foot; whether these things were unbeseeming a Christian queen, who affected peace, and was most desirous to deserve well of her confederate the Spaniard, let the Spaniard himself and all Christian princes judge! And now that the wars might cease, and the Netherlanders again be at his devotion, she advised him to receive his afflicted people into former grace and favour, to restore their privileges, to observe the conditions of the last agreement, and to appoint them another governor of his own family for no peace could be concluded or observed unless don John of Austria were removed, whom the states distrusted and hated, and whom she certainly knew, by his secret practices with the queen of Scots, to be her most mortal enemy, insomuch that she could expect nothing from the Netherlands but assured danger, so long as he was governor there. It was because she knew what great forces don John had raised, and how * Camden, 220.
many auxiliary companies of French were ready to join him, that she, to preserve the Netherlands and Spain, and avert the danger from England, had now engaged to assist the states, they having promised on their part that they would continue in the king's obedience, and alter nothing in religion. If, however, the king would not listen to these representations, but was resolved to abrogate their rights and privileges, and reduce those miserable provinces into slavery, as if he had obtained possession of them by right of war, she in that case would not neglect to defend her neighbours, and provide for her own security.*
This was no palatable language to Philip; but that deep dissembler, feeling its force, and conscious of its truth, brooked it, and with simulated good-will besought her to continue her endeavours for bringing about a peace, and not hastily to credit false reports, nor believe that he attempted any thing unbecoming a prince in amity with her. How far he favoured the designs of don John, as conformable to his own catholic views, or discouraged them as tending more to the advantage of France than Spain, is uncertain. † But after the death
+ Strada says that when the pope proposed a marriage between don John and the queen of Scots, 66 cum dotali Angliæ regno, ad cujus aggressionem honestior inde titulus armis Austriacis adderetur;" Philip did not refuse his consent: 66 neque rex abnuebat, immò licet expeditionem magis quam ducem probaret," are his cautious words. 1. viii. p. 445.
There is a mystery about the fate of don John. "Nam super natalium sortem Tunetense quondam regnum, tunc et Angliam sperasse manifestus, et cum Lotharingis in Gallicâ aulâ præpotentibus, clam Philippum, sociasse consilia, facile et res Belgicas in se versurus timebatur. Unde nec veneni suspicio abfuit, incertum tamen unde dati, quippe inventis sacerdotibus Romanæ professionis, qui suam in hoc operam patriæ imputarent. Anglos alii suspectabant, non ita dudum supplicio affectis, qui inde immissi in ipsum percussores dicebantur."-Grotius, p. 61.
The Englishmen here spoken of were Egremont Ratcliffe, and one Grey, the former son to the earl of Sussex by a second wife, a man of a turbulent spirit, and one of the chiefs of the northern rebellion. The English emigrants accused him of intending to assassinate don John, in whose army he was serving, and he and Grey were executed upon this. "The Spaniards," says Camden, "give out that Ratcliffe at his death voluntarily confessed he had been released from the Tower purposely to commit this murder, and encouraged to it by Walsingham with great promises. The English that were there present deny that he made any such confession, though the emigrants did what they could to extort it from him." p. 227. They were put to the torture after don John's death, by the prince of Parma, and executed upon the confession thus extorted. Strada, 557. If don John were poisoned, the cause of their execution is evident enough.
299 of that ambitious chief, whose story is more like a fiction of romance or tragedy than a tale of real life, the plots against Elizabeth were renewed. Pope Gregory XIII. and Philip, by whom the scheme was now concerted, had each their separate views: the latter saw that he could not reduce the Netherlands to subjection unless he were master of the sea, and that he could not be master of the sea till he should have subdued England. The pope, in the plenitude of his authority, was willing to confer upon him an apostolical title to that kingdom, giving Ireland at the same time to his own bastard son, whom he had made marchese de Vineola. The notorious adventurer Stukely undertook to conquer Ireland for this king-aspirant, and to burn the ships in the Thames. For this service he asked only 3000 men, while a larger force of Spaniards and Portugueze were to land in England. To show on what grounds he proceeded, this arch-traitor presented an instrument to Philip, "subscribed with the names of most of the Irish nobility, and of divers in England of good quality, ready to be at his devotion." In order to diminish the queen's means of naval defence, foreign merchants were employed to hire for distant
This was an absurd charge, and could be believed only by that party spirit which will believe any thing. Common as the employment of assassins was in that age for party motives, the English government stands free from all reproach on that score; and if it had been less scrupulous, don John was no object of its jealousy or of its fear. There is a strange tale of his intriguing for a marriage with Elizabeth; this is said to have been seriously affirmed by letters from the Low Countries, and it has also been affirmed that Escovedo passed two months in England, endeavouring to bring about a negotiation for this end; but nothing that in the slightest degree supports this, appears in all that has come to light concerning Escovedo's fate, nor in any English documents. It is only not impossible, because don John seems to have loved danger and dissimulation for their own sakes. Instead of taking a safe course to the Netherlands, when he went to assume the government, he chose to pass through France in the disguise of a negro servant, "infuscato ore, vibrato capillo ac barbâ." Strada, dec. iv. 1. 9. p. 460. The man who could choose such a disguise, would think no plot too extravagant in which he was to perform a conspicuous part.
Strada suspects that the story was devised by the prince of Orange, for the purpose of exasperating Philip against his brother. (p. 556.) But the prince of Orange was a good man, engaged in a good cause,.. too good a man ever to have served it by wicked means. When he charged Philip, in his declaration, with the death of don Carlos, I am as confident that he believed the charge as I am convinced that the charge itself was an atrocious ca
voyages the greater part of those merchant ships which were built and furnished for sea-service.*
It is said that Sebastian of Portugal was intended 1578. for the command of this expedition. Such an undertaking would have well accorded with his temper, and with the principles wherewith his pernicious education had thoroughly imbued him. The massacre of St. Bartholomew's had been concerted with his knowledge: an armament, which he had prepared ostensibly against the Turks, was to have sailed in aid of the French government, if that massacre had failed; and when the news of its perpetration arrived, Lisbon was illuminated, and processions made, and a thanksgiving sermon preached by the most eloquent of the Spanish preachers, Frey Luiz de Granada; and an ambassador, was sent to congratulate Charles IX. † upon a crime - for which, as it regards himself, it may be hoped that the horror and remorse which speedily brought him to an untimely death may have atoned. But though Sebastian had proffered to the pope his utmost services against Mahometans and heretics, early impressions and national feeling led him to tread in the steps of his heroic ancestors, and endeavour to recover that dominion in Africa which they had unwisely abandoned for the sake of more distant and less tenable conquests. Though the pope offered him a consecrated banner as for a holy war, he was not to be diverted from his purpose; and Stukely, who arrived in the Tagus with 800 men, raised for the invasion of Ireland, was induced to postpone that purpose, and accompany Sebastian to Barbary. Stukely met his death there, . . in better company than he deserved to die in; for braver or nobler-minded men never fell in battle than some of those Portugueze who perished on that disastrous day. Whether Sebastian perished with them, is one of those secrets over which the grave has closed. But as his wilfulness had been the means of averting the intended
*Camden, 230. Turner, 574.
+ Bayam, Portugal Cuidadoso y Lastimoso, 271, 272.