CHAPTER X. THE DEFEAT OF THE SPANISH ARMADA, A.D. 1588.
"Lie at the proud foot of her enemy."
For some time the destination of the enormous armament of Philip was not publicly announced. Only Philip himself, the Pope Sixtus, the Duke of Guise, and Philip's favourite minister, Mendoza, at first knew its real object. Rumours were sedulously spread that it was designed to proceed to the Indies to realize vast projects of distant conquest. Sometimes hints were dropped by Philip's ambassadors in foreign courts, that his master had resolved on a decisive effort to crush his rebels in the Low Countries. But Elizabeth and her statesmen could not view the gathering of such a storm without feeling the probability of its bursting on their own shores. As early as the spring of 1587, Elizabeth sent Sir Francis Drake to cruise off the Tagus. Drake sailed into the Bay of Cadiz and the Lisbon Roads, and burnt much shipping and military stores, causing thereby an important delay in the progress of the Spanish preparations. Drake called this "Singeing the King of of Spain's beard." Elizabeth also increased her succours of troops to the Netherlanders, to prevent the Prince of Parma from overwhelming them, and from thence being at full leisure to employ his army against her dominions.
Each party at this time thought it politic to try to amuse its adversary by pretending to treat for peace, and negotiations were opened at Ostend in the beginning of 1588, which were prolonged during the first six months of that year. Nothing real was effected, and probably nothing real had been intended to be effected by them. But, in the meantime, each party had been engaged in important communications with the chief powers in France, in which Elizabeth seemed at first to have secured a great advantage, but in which Philip ultimately prevailed. "Henry III. of France was alarmed at the negotiations that were going on at Ostend; and he especially dreaded any accommodation between Spain and England, in consequence of which Philip II. might be enabled to subdue the United Provinces, and make himself master of France. In order, therefore, to dissuade Elizabeth from any arrangement, he offered to support her, in case she were attacked by the Spaniards, with twice the number of troops, which he was bound by the treaty of 1574 to send to her assistance. He had a long conference with her ambassador, Stafford, upon this subject, and told him that the Pope and the Catholic King had entered into a league against the queen, his mistress, and had invited himself and the Venetians to join them, but they had refused to do so. 'If the Queen of England,' he added, 'concludes a peace with the Catholic king, that peace will not last three months, because the Catholic king will aid the League with all his forces to overthrow her, and you may imagine what fate is reserved for your mistress after that.' On the other hand, in order most effectually to frustrate this negotiation, he proposed to Philip II. to form a still closer union between the two crowns of France and Spain: and, at the same time, he secretly despatched a confidential envoy to Constantinople to warn the Sultan, that if he did not again declare war against the Catholic King, that monarch, who already possessed the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, the Indies, and nearly all Italy, would soon make himself master of England, and would then turn the forces of all Europe against the Turks." [Mignet's History of Mary Queen of Scots. vol. ii.]
But Philip had an ally in France, who was far more powerful than the French king. This was the Duke of Guise, the chief of the League, and the idol of the fanatic partisans of the Romish faith. Philip prevailed on Guise openly to take up arms against Henry III. (who was reviled by the Leaguers as a traitor to the true Church, and a secret friend to the Huguenots); and thus prevent the French king from interfering in favour of Queen Elizabeth. "With this object, the commander, Juan Iniguez Moreo, was despatched by him in the early part of April to the Duke of Guise at Soissons. He met with complete success. He offered the Duke of Guise, as soon as he took the field against Henry III., three hundred thousand crowns, six thousand infantry, and twelve hundred pikemen, on behalf of the king his master, who would, in addition, withdraw his ambassador from the court of France, and accredit an envoy to the Catholic party. A treaty was concluded on these conditions, and the Duke of Guise entered Paris, where he was expected by the Leaguers, and whence he expelled Henry III. on the 12th of May, by the insurrection of the barricades. A fortnight after this insurrection, which reduced Henry III. to impotence, and, to use the language of the Prince of Parma, did not even 'permit him to assist the Queen of England with his tears, as he needed them all to weep over his own misfortunes,' the Spanish fleet left the Tagus and sailed towards the British isles." [Mignet.]