Page images
PDF
EPUB

1622

untenable.

BRISTOL'S POLICY.

385

how untenable his position was becoming. His original policy of an alliance between Spain and England, grounded His position becoming upon mutual respect, and used for the benefit of European peace, had broken down completely when the Parliament of 1621 was dissolved. He had then warned James how thoroughly the conditions of his mediation had changed. England could no longer meet Spain upon equal terms. She must supplicate for peace now that she was no longer in a position to demand it. That in Spain there was a great dread of war, and above all, of war with England, he had every reason to know, and he believed that, partly by appealing to that feeling, partly by holding out hopes that the marriage treaty would be accompanied by benefits to the English. Catholics, he could still induce Spain to throw her weight into the scale of peace.

That this policy was a rational one under the circumstances few candid persons will deny. Its weak point was that it depended for success altogether upon the behaviour of Frederick and his allies. Unless James could so restrain the words and actions of his son-in-law as to make it evident to the world that the restoration of the Palatinate would not be the signal for a fresh war, leaving the Imperial forces to do all their work over again, it was ridiculous to expect that either Spain or the Emperor would consent to the terms proposed. Above all, it was most absurd that James, who had shown himself utterly unable to control his son-in-law's proceedings, should now be urging the Spanish Government to sacrifice all its principles and interests, by taking up arms against its own allies in such a cause.

Between the hallucination of James, that the Spaniards would fight for the re-establishment of his son-in-law, and the hallucination of the Spaniards that the Protestants of Europe would look on unmoved whilst the heir of the Palatinate was being educated in the Roman Catholic faith, Bristol's negotiation was in evil plight. Yet the mere fact that the Spaniards had promised at all to employ force for the preservation of the towns in the Palatinate from the Imperialist armies, is sufficient proof that if his master had been able to control events

[blocks in formation]

upon the Protestant side, it was not at Madrid that any serious opposition would have been encountered.

A few days after Bristol's demands were presented, news arrived that Mannheim had fallen into the hands of Tilly.

October 28. Fall of

With a garrison of fourteen hundred men, Vere had found it impossible to defend the extensive fortifications of the place; and, after setting fire to the town, he had retired into the castle. Even there his troops were all too few Mannheim. for the work before them. Mansfeld had long before swept away the stores which had been laid up for the siege; and the blockade had been too strict to permit of the introduction of fresh supplies in sufficient quantity. Provisions and fuel were running short, and there was only powder enough to last for six or seven days. Hope of succour there was none, the German soldiers were beginning to talk of surrender, and Vere had every reason to suppose that they would refuse to stand to their guns. Under these circumstances, there was nothing to be done but to come to terms with the enemy, and a capitulation was accordingly signed which allowed the garrison to march out with the honours of war.1

Immediately after receiving the keys of the citadel, Tilly marched upon Frankenthal, the only place still occupied in Frederick's name. Advanced as the season was, he

Siege of Frankenthal.

at once commenced the siege, in the hope of reducing the place before winter came. To a letter from Brussels, acquainting him that it was the King of Spain's wish that he should leave the place untouched, he had replied with a blunt refusal to accept orders from anyone but the Emperor.

November. The In

If the Infanta had now been prepared to carry out the orders which she had received from Madrid, she would at once have given directions to the Spanish troops to break up the siege by force. But there were limits even to the power of a King of Spain. The Infanta informed her nephew that he had given orders which it was impossible to execute. The few Spanish troops left in the Palatinate were not sufficiently numerous to relieve the garrison of

fanta's refusal to relieve the garrison.

1 Vere to Calvert, Oct. 30, S. P. Germany. Carleton to Calvert, Dec. 27, S. P. Holland.

1622

AN APPROACHING CRISIS.

387

Frankenthal; and even if this had not been the case, it was preposterous to imagine that Spain could ever be found fighting against the Catholic League. She hoped that his Majesty would use all good offices in favour of peace; but assuredly he could do nothing more.1

In truth, no one but James could ever have dreamed of anything else. It was his business to make peace desirable. At the head of the neutral Protestants of Germany his word would have been worth listening to; but it was mere fatuity to expect the Spaniards to extricate him from the difficulty into which his own indolence had brought him.

Difficulties

of the Spanish

The Infanta's letter, reaching Madrid at a time when Bristol was pressing for an answer to the demand which he had been instructed to make, was not calculated to diminish the hesitations of the Spanish ministers. Nor was Ministers. their course rendered less difficult by the arrival of a despatch from Oñate, announcing that the Emperor was not to be moved from his design of conferring the Electorate upon Maximilian. 2 Evidently the problem of keeping on good terms with James and Ferdinand at the same time was becoming more insoluble every day.

The Infanta
Maria.

It was not only from the side of foreign politics that danger was to be apprehended to the good understanding which Olivares wished to establish between the Courts of London and Madrid. The Infanta Maria, whose hand was to be the pledge of its continuance, had now entered upon her seventeenth year. Her features were not beautiful, but the sweetness of her disposition found expression in her face, and her fair complexion and delicate white hands drew forth rapturous admiration from the contrast which they presented to the olive tints of the ladies by whom she was surrounded.3 The mingled dignity and gentleness of her bearing

1 The Infanta Isabella to King Philip IV., Nov.

3 6

Memoir for

13 16

A. de Lossada, Brussels MSS.

2 Ciriza to Philip IV., Nov. Simancas MSS. 2507, fol. 21.

3 Bristol to the Prince of Wales, Dec. 25, 1622; Feb. 22, 1623,

S. P. Spain.

made her an especial favourite with her brother. Her life was moulded after the best type of the devotional piety of her Church. Two hours of every day she spent in prayer. Twice every week she confessed, and partook of the Holy Communion. Her chief delight was in meditating upon the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin, and preparing lint for the use of the hospitals. The money which her brother allowed her to be spent at play, she carefully set aside for the relief of the poor.

Her character was as remarkable for its self-possession as for its gentleness. Excepting when she was in private amongst her ladies, her words were few; and though those who knew her well were aware that she felt unkindness deeply, she never betrayed her emotions by speaking harshly of those by whom she had been wronged. Anyone who hoped to afford her amusement by repeating the scandal and gossip of the Court, was soon taught, by visible tokens of her disapprobation, to avoid such subjects for the future. When she had once made up her mind where the path of duty lay, no temptation could induce her to swerve from it by a hair's breadth. Nor was her physical courage less conspicuous than her moral firmness. At a Court entertainment given at Aranjuez, a fire broke out amongst the scaffolding which supported the benches upon which the spectators were seated. In an instant the whole place was in confusion. Amongst the screaming throng the Infanta alone retained her presence of mind. Calling Olivares to her help, that he might keep off the pressure of the crowd, she made her escape without quickening her usual pace.1

to the marriage.

Protestant nation.

There were many positions in which such a woman could hardly have failed to pass a happy and a useful life; but it is October.' certain that no one could be less fitted to become Her aversion the wife of a Protestant King, and the Queen of a On the throne of England her life would be one continual martyrdom. Her own dislike of the marriage was undisguised, and her instinctive aversion was confirmed by the reiterated warnings of her confessor. heretic, he told her, was worse than a devil. "What a com

A

1 Description of the Infanta, by Toby Matthew, June 28, 1623, S. P.

1622

THE INFANTA'S RESISTANCE.

389

fortable bedfellow you will have,” he said. "He who lies by your side, and who will be the father of your children, is certain to go to hell." 1

She remon

her brother.

It was only lately, however, that she had taken any open step in the matter. Till recently, indeed, the marriage had hardly been regarded at Court in a serious light. strates with The case was now altered. A junta had been appointed to settle the articles of marriage with the English Ambassador, and although the Pope's opinion had been given, it seemed likely that the junta, under Gondomar's influence, would urge him to reconsider his determination. Under these circumstances the Infanta proceeded to plead her own cause with her brother. She found a powerful support in the Infanta Margaret, the youngest daughter of the Emperor Maximilian II., who had retired from the world to a Carmelite nunnery at Madrid. This lady now put forth all her influence to induce the King to return to the scheme which had received his father's approval,3 to marry his sister to the Emperor's son, the Archduke Ferdinand, and to satisfy the Prince of Wales with the hand of an archduchess.4

1 Bristol to the King, Aug. 18, 1623, S. P. Spain.

2 So termed at Madrid, though strictly speaking she should be called the Archduchess Margaret. Her mother was a Spanish Infanta.

3 Vol. i. p. 351.

4 66 Ho anco inteso per sicurissima via che scrive il Nontio di Spagna trattarsi in quella Corte nell apparenza molto alle secrette questo matrimonio con Inghilterra, et ch'era molto portato dal Conte di Codmar," i.e. Gondomar, "dicendosi d'alcuni che seguira certo, et da altri che tutta era una fintione per addormentar Inghilterra, et che lui ne ha parlato secrettissamente con detto Conte, et con li ministri, accio che non si faccia senza la saputa del Pontefice, et così ne havea riportato parola et promessa ;-che questa voce era arrivata sino all' Infante, et che si dovesse presto preparar per quel Regno; la qual ne mostrava dispiacere, ma che era stata consolata dalla Contessa di Lemos, et dal Infante Cardinale, et da tutte le dame del Palazzo, essortandola ad andar allegramente ;—che all' Ambasciatore Inglese era stato promesso il vederla e visitarla, et che all' officio lei mai rispose, tenendo sempre gli occhi in terra ;-che l'Infante Discalza," i.e. the Infanta Margaret, "insieme col Rè pur le hanno parlato di queste nozze, dicendole essa Discalza che le pensasse bene, poiche si trattava di lei sola; et che lei habbi detto al Rè che in

« PreviousContinue »