Mirrors for Rebels: A Study of Polemical Literature Relating to the Northern Rebellion, 1569

By James K. Lowers | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
THE NORTHERN REBELLION OF 1569

IN THE EVENTS leading up to Northern Rebellion of 1569 Mary, Queen of Scots, was a key figure.1 The great-granddaughter of Henry VII, she had made claims to the English crown from the very beginning of Elizabeth's reign. She was married to the young Dauphin of France, and following the Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis, which officially ended Mary Tudor's disastrous war with France, had boldly quartered her coat of arms with the arms of England. Elizabeth's position was indeed a dangerous one. Succeeding her Catholic half-sister, she came to the throne illegitimate not only by Catholic canon law, which held her father's marriage to Catherine of Aragon to be valid, but also by English ecclesiastical law and statute of Parliament, both of which annulled the union of Henry and Anne Boleyn. In the person of Mary Stuart, the Pope had a claimant to the throne and might well find the opportunity to deprive Elizabeth and call upon France or Spain to execute the sentence. The danger increased when Henry II of France died and Mary's husband became Francis II. While her mother, Mary of Guise, ruled Scotland as Regent, her uncles, the Duke of Guise and the Cardinal of Lorraine, guided the destiny of France.

Two events removed the immediate threat: the successful revolt of the Scottish Protestants, aided by Elizabeth, in 1560; and the death of Mary's husband, the young French king, in the next year. The house of Guise no longer ruled France, nor did they control Scotland. Mary Stuart returned as queen of a country which, from her point of view, was actually governed by heretics who looked to England for protection. As for Elizabeth, by sending money, arms, and ships to help the rebels she had committed herself as a champion of Protestantism.

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