Reference > Cambridge History > The Drama to 1642, Part One > Some Political and Social Aspects of the Later Elizabethan and Earlier Stewart Period > Struggle for the English Throne
  Her attitude towards the Religious Problem Elizabeth’s Ministers before and after the crisis  

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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume V. The Drama to 1642, Part One.

XIV. Some Political and Social Aspects of the Later Elizabethan and Earlier Stewart Period.

§ 8. Struggle for the English Throne.


But, to go back for a moment to the days when Elizabeth’s personal fate hung in the balance, together with the political independence of the nation which she ruled and the form of faith for which she stood. Both the queen and her counsellors long shrank from hastening the decision, and, for herself, it was part of her statecraft that she could never be induced to choose her side till she was quite certain of the support of the nation. When, in 1568—the year in which Alva set foot in the Low Countries in order to reduce their population to submission—Mary queen of Scots had taken refuge on English soil, the struggle for the English throne really became inevitable; but it was not till nineteen years later, when the head of the prisoner was laid on the block, and Philip of Spain had become the inheritor of her claims, that Elizabeth finally took up the challenge. That interval of time had witnessed the launching of the papal bull excommunicating Elizabeth; the massacre which, whether or not she would acknowledge it, had cut through her alliance with France; the invasion of Ireland; the participation by English volunteers in the rising of the Netherlands, 15  of which, at a later date, the queen formally assumed the protection; the Jesuit missions for the conversion of England, and the executions of priests and seminarists; the legalisation of the Association for the protection of the queen’s person; Parry’s plot; 16  the expedition of Drake, this time with the queen’s permission, into the Spanish main; and the maturing of the Babyngton conspiracy, nursed by Walsingham with remorseless craft into the proportions which it bore in the final proceedings against Mary. Her execution was the signal for the formal declaration of a rupture which had long yawned wide. In 1588, the Armada sailed, and was dissipated. 17    11

Note 15. Whether one of these, George Gascoigne, who, in more ways than one, is prominent in the early history of the English drama, was the author of the prose tract The Spoyle of Antwerp, on which was founded the play, A Larum for London or The Siedge of Antwerpe, printed in 1602, is more than doubtful. R. Simpson thought Shakespeare’s hand visible in the play. [ back ]
Note 16. Commemorated on the stage by John Dekker and Thomas Heywood. [ back ]
Note 17. It is certainly curious that, as Creizenach notes, the name of Drake should not occur in any contemporary play, and that (with the exception of an allusion in Lyly’s Midas, and the treatment of the subject, such as it is, in Heywood’s If you know not me) the references to the Armada in the Elizabethan drama should be few and slight. [ back ]

CONTENTS · VOLUME CONTENTS · INDEX OF ALL CHAPTERS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
  Her attitude towards the Religious Problem Elizabeth’s Ministers before and after the crisis  
 
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