CHAPTER XXVI. ELIZABETH (xi), 1598-1603-THE QUEEN'S LAST YEARS
The triumph of Cecil was complete. The utter overthrow of Essex had been his first objective; now he was free to work his own underground policy. Publicly and ostensibly as before he remained the chief of the "moderate" party, seeking reconciliation with Spain and a modus vivendi between Catholics and Anglicans; privately he took Essex's vacated place as the friend of the Scots King. Thenceforth, from the Moderate camp, directing the Moderate programme, he was in intimate correspondence [Footnote: Now published in its entirety by the Camden Society.] with James; working for the ultimate destruction of his rivals and associates, when the Stewart should become King of England, owing his crown to Cecil's dexterity. James, realising his position, promptly fell in with Cecil's plans, dropped coquetting with Catholics abroad, and was quite content to wait for a dead woman's shoes, and to give up irritating demands for an immediate recognition, of which, with Cecil on his side, he felt ultimately assured.
During 1600, Montjoy had already been doing good service in Ireland. The 14,000 troops at his disposal - though thrice as many as had been allowed to Norreys - were insufficient for dealing a rapid and crushing blow at the heart of the rebellion in Ulster. In Munster, however, the Deputy had a vigorous lieutenant in Carew, and the chiefs were of a divided mind - largely because many of them held their positions precariously, in virtue of the English tenure which had been officially substituted for the Irish method of succession - so that the forces of resistance were to a great extent broken up. But in Ulster, Montjoy accomplished a fine strategic stroke by making a feint of invading the province from the south, while he sent a large force of 4000 men by sea, under command of Docwra, to Loch Foyle, where they established themselves at Londonderry. He was thus in a position to strike at Tyrone or O'Donnell whenever those chiefs should attempt to move southward in force: as was exemplified next year, when Donegal was seized, and the Blackwater fort was recaptured by a move from the South, because Tyrone could not withdraw his attention from Derry.
[1601 The Irish rebellion broken]
About the time of Essex's crash, there were again rumours of a Spanish invasion. Carew could deal with the Irish rebels alone, but hardly with a strong invading force as well. When in September 1601 a real Spanish force did arrive at Kinsale, Montjoy had to concentrate in Munster. But though this expedition showed the limits of Philip's capacities, it was as usual so ill found that many of the ships had been obliged to put back to Corunna, and others, failing to make Kinsale, put in at Baltimore. Montjoy was in strength near Cork, Carew at Limerick ready to intercept the approach of the rebels from the North. In a very short time, Kinsale was beleagured, and when a portion of a Spanish reinforcement managed to reach the coast in December, it found an English flotilla before it, and its troops were isolated in a third station at Castlehaven. O'Donnell however succeeded in evading Carew, who then joined forces with Montjoy and the fleet before Kinsale. When Tyrone arrived, an attempt was made to relieve Kinsale; but Montjoy was unusually well served by his intelligence, his dispositions were skilful, and the rebels were totally routed beyond possibility of present recovery. Aguilar, the Spanish commander, was admitted to terms; Baltimore and Castlehaven were surrendered. Thus abortively collapsed the last effort of Philip III. The Irish rebellion was broken. Many of the chiefs after vain and desperate resistance escaped to Spain; others surrendered to the Queen's mercy. O'Donnell was of the former; he died soon after reaching Spain. But Tyrone the diplomatic succeeded in making terms. It seemed that once more the English Government was supreme.
[1602 The Succession]
Once again, as the death of the great Queen becomes imminent, we must remind ourselves that to the last she refused to recognise any heir, and that there were various claimants, [Footnote: Genealogical Tables; Front. and App. A, iii.] each one with a colourable claim. In point of priority by heredity King James of Scotland unquestionably stood first of the descendants of Henry VII. and Elizabeth of York; yet the fact that he was not only an alien but King of Scotland made him in himself an unwelcome candidate. Next to him, since like him she descended from Margaret Tudor, stood his cousin Arabella - a Stewart too, but of the Lennox Stewarts, not the Royal House: an English subject; but with the drawback that she was a woman and unmarried. Third, but first under the will of Henry VIII. was Lord Beauchamp, son of Katharine Grey and the Earl of Hertford; about the validity of his parents' marriage however there was a doubt. The Stanleys of Derby, who through Margaret Clifford could claim descent from the younger daughter of Henry VII., would have nothing to do with inheriting the crown; no more would the Earl of Huntingdon who descended from Edward IV.'s brother, George of Clarence. But Philip of Spain claimed the crown for himself as a descendant of John of Gaunt; though, the union of the crowns of England and Spain being admittedly impracticable, he was under promise to transfer his claim to a hitherto unnamed nominee, presumably his sister. Virtually therefore Isabella ranked as a possible though not very enthusiastic candidate.
[The last intrigues]