CHAPTER IV. THE PROGRESS OF NATIONALISM
Cecil's drastic methods of dealing with the opposition lords left the door of government open to men like Walsingham, who were determined to give full play to the new forces in English politics. Discontented reactionaries were reduced to impotent silence, or driven abroad to side openly with the enemy. Pius V's bull excommunicating and deposing Elizabeth (1570) shattered in a similar way the old Catholic party. The majority acquiesced in the national religion; the extremists fled to become conspirators at foreign courts or Jesuit and missionary priests. The antagonism between England and Spain in the New World did more, perhaps, than Spanish Catholicism to make Philip the natural patron of these exiles and of their plots against the English government; and as Spain and England drew apart, England and France drew together. In 1572 a defensive alliance was formed between them, and there seemed a prospect of their co-operation to drive the Spaniards out of the Netherlands. But Catholic France resented this Huguenot policy, and the massacre of St. Bartholomew put a violent end to the scheme, while Elizabeth and Philip patched up a truce for some years. There could, however, be no permanent compromise, on the one hand, between Spanish exclusiveness and the determination of Englishmen to force open the door of the New World and, on the other, between English nationalism and the papal resolve to reconquer England for the Catholic church. Philip made common cause with the papacy and with its British champion, Mary Queen of Scots, while Englishmen made common cause with Philip's revolted subjects in the Netherlands. The acquisition of Portugal, its fleet, and its colonial empire by Philip in 1580, the assassination of William of Orange in 1584, and the victories of Alexander of Parma in the Netherlands forced Elizabeth into decisive action. The Dutch were taken under her wing, a national expedition led by Drake paralyzed Spanish dominion in the West Indies in 1585 and then destroyed Philip's fleet at Cadiz in 1587, and the Queen of Scots was executed.
At last Philip attempted a tardy retaliation with the Spanish Armada. Its naval inefficiency was matched by political miscalculations. Philip never imagined that a united England could be conquered; but he laboured under the delusion, spread by English Catholic exiles, that the majority of the English people only awaited a signal to rise against their queen. When this delusion was exploded and the naval incompetence of Spain exposed, his dreams of conquest vanished, and he continued the war merely in the hope of securing guarantees against English interference in the New World, in the Netherlands, and in France, where he was helping the Catholic League to keep Henry of Navarre off the French throne. Ireland, however, was his most promising sphere of operations. There religious and racial hostility to the English was fusing discordant Irish septs into an Irish nation, and the appearance of a Spanish expedition was the signal for something like a national revolt. England had not been rich enough in men or money to give Ireland a really efficient government, but the extent of the danger in 1598-1602 stimulated an effort which resulted in the first real conquest of Ireland; and Englishmen set themselves to do the same work, with about the same amount of benevolence, for the Irish that the Normans had done for the Anglo-Saxons.
So far Tudor monarchy had proved an adequate exponent of English nationalism, because nationalism had been concerned mainly with the external problems of defence against foreign powers and jurisdictions. But with the defeat of the Spanish Armada, the urgency of those problems passed away; and during the last fifteen years of Elizabeth's reign national feelings found increasing expression in parliament and in popular literature. In all forms of literature, but especially in the Shakespearean drama, the keynote of the age was the evolution of a national spirit and technique, and their emancipation from the influence of classical and foreign models. In domestic politics a rift appeared between the monarchy and the nation. For one thing the alliance, forged by Henry VIII between the crown and parliament, against the church, was being changed into an alliance between the crown and church against the parliament, because parliament was beginning to give expression to democratic ideas of government in state and church which threatened the principle of personal rule common to monarchy and to episcopacy. "No Bishop, no King," was a shrewd aphorism of James I, which was in the making before he reached the throne. In other respects - such as monopolies, the power of the crown to levy indirect taxation without consent of parliament, to imprison subjects without cause shown, and to tamper with the privileges of the House of Commons - the royal prerogative was called in question. Popular acquiescence in strong personal monarchy was beginning to waver now that the need for it was disappearing with the growing security of national independence. People could afford the luxuries of liberty and party strife when their national existence was placed beyond the reach of danger; and a national demand for a greater share of self-government, which was to wreck the House of Stuart, was making itself heard before, on March 24, 1603, the last sovereign of the line which had made England a really national state passed away.