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History of the Catholic Church from the Renaissance to the French Revolution Volume 2 by Rev. James MacCaffrey

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Beaton (1547). He assembled a national synod at Edinburgh (1549) which
was attended by the bishops, abbots, and representatives of the
chapters, religious houses, and collegiate churches.[9] Though the
presence of men like Lord James Stuart, the illegitimate son of James
V., as commendatory prior of St. Andrew's was not calculated to
inspire confidence in the decrees of the assembly, a very wholesome
scheme of reform was carried through, which, had it been enforced,
might have gone far to save Catholicism in Scotland. Severe laws were
passed against concubinage of the clergy, their neglect of their
primary duties of preaching and instructing their flocks, and against
the alienation of ecclesiastical property. Measures were taken to
ensure that priests should explain the principal points of Catholic
doctrine and the Scriptures regularly in their principal churches.
Another synod held in 1552 continued the work of reform. Its
references to the question of marriage and to the non-attendance of
the people at their religious duties seem to indicate that religion
was not then in a flourishing condition. The synods ordered the
publication of a catechism, and enjoined all priests who had care of
souls to explain a portion of it every Sunday before the principal
Mass. In accordance with this decree an excellent catechism[10]
containing a very full exposition of Catholic doctrine was published.
Had it come earlier, or had the clergy even then been able and willing
to explain it to their people, Knox and his companions might have
found themselves confronted with a much more difficult task.

Mary of Guise had shown great abilities during the contest with Henry
VIII. and the Protector. Though the Earl of Arran was nominally regent
it was she who guided his counsels and inspired his policy. The French
government, distrustful of the regent who was also the next claimant
for the Scottish throne, induced him to resign his office, for which
he received in return the empty title of Duke of Châtelherault, and
Mary of Guise undertook the government of Scotland for her infant
daughter. About the ability of the new regent or her devotion to the
Catholic Church there could be no difference of opinion, but
unfortunately she was more anxious to strengthen the French hold upon
Scotland than to take the necessary measures for the peace of the
kingdom and the suppression of heresy. She filled her fortresses with
French subjects, showing thereby that in her opinion Scotchmen could
not be trusted. As a result she gave great offence to the native
lords, aroused Scottish patriotism against France as it had been
aroused against England by the aggressive policy of Henry VIII., and
prepared the way for the dissolution of the alliance between
patriotism and Catholicism, an alliance that had hitherto been the
main barrier against the success of the reforming English party.

The Scots began to fear that with their young queen united in marriage
to the King of France Scotland stood in danger of becoming a French
province, and though the Scottish Parliament took care to safeguard
the independence of the country in the marriage settlement drawn up in
1558, the leading men had grave suspicions that the agreement would
have little effect. Besides, Mary of Guise had no longer anything to
fear from English Protestantism, which was rendered powerless after
the accession of Queen Mary. England was now united to Spain, the
mortal enemy of France, and French political interests would best be
served by maintaining an attitude of friendly neutrality towards
English Protestants, who were likely to prove more dangerous to
Spanish designs than to France. Such a policy of neutrality might
result, too, it was thought, in securing the throne of England for the
young Scottish queen, whose claims as the nearest legitimate heir
could not be questioned. For these reasons the regent was not
unwilling to allow Protestant refugees to take up their residence in
Scotland, and to permit the followers of the new religion to continue
their campaign so long as they did not disturb the public peace. In
her correspondence with the Pope she paid little attention to the
religious danger that was threatening the kingdom, and seemed to be
more anxious to obtain permission to tax the clergy than to secure an
energetic reform of the abuses that she painted in such dark
colours.[11] The Scottish lords, many of whom were offended by the
preponderance of French soldiers and French officials, were only too
willing to assist the new preachers, and what was worse, to stir up
their clansmen against the old religion by holding up the bishops and
clergy as the friends of France and the enemies of Scottish
independence. National patriotism was now utilised to help forward the
cause of Protestantism, by the very men who a few years before had
agreed to betray their country for English gold, and had striven with
all their might to make Henry VIII. the protector of Scotland.

Some Protestant refugees from England were soon at work in different
centres of the country, and encouraged by the regent's policy of
neutrality, the man, who was destined to be the apostle of the
Reformation, returned to his native land (1555). John Knox,[12] who
had shown his devotion to the Gospel by applauding the murder of
Cardinal Beaton as a "godly act," and who had founded the first
reformed congregation among the murderers gathered in the castle of
St. Andrew's, having been released from the French galleys, became a
pensioner of Edward VI., and took up his residence in some of the
northern towns of England. In a short time he was appointed royal
chaplain, and might have had the Bishopric of Rochester had he not
expressed the view that such an office was incompatible with devotion
to the true evangelical religion. On the accession of Queen Mary he
fled from England to Geneva, from which he returned to Scotland in
1555. His violent and overbearing manner, his extravagant
denunciations of his opponents, his misrepresentations of their
actions and policy, and his readiness both as a speaker and as a
writer, qualified him perfectly for the leadership of a revolutionary
party, were it not that at certain critical moments his anxiety to
avoid personal danger was calculated to shake the confidence of his
followers. He was welcomed by many of the discontented nobles, amongst
others by Lord Erskine afterwards Earl of Mar, Lord Lorne and his
father the Earl of Argyll, Maitland Lord of Lethington, the Earl of
Glencairn, and Lord James Stuart prior of St. Andrew's, who as Earl of
Moray was soon to betray his sister, Mary Queen of Scots.

Encouraged by the protection of such powerful patrons he preached
freely and with great success in several districts of Scotland. The
clansmen were so united to their lords that they were prepared to
follow their example even in matters of religion. The bishops and the
regent, to whom these proceedings must have been known, were strangely
oblivious to their duties, and when at last they mustered up
sufficient courage to summon Knox to appear at Edinburgh (1556), they
were so alarmed by the strength of his following that they abandoned
the trial. Knox, encouraged by their cowardice, preached openly in the
capital, and even went so far as to address a letter to the regent
calling upon her to open her mind for the reception of the truth.[13]
By this public challenge, however, he overshot the mark, and not being
gifted with any particular desire to suffer martyrdom for the faith,
he left Scotland suddenly and retired to the Continent (1556). For
years he was the leading spirit in many of the fierce and unseemly
disputes between the English Protestant exiles in Geneva and
Frankfurt. Although summoned more than once by his followers to
return, he contented himself with sending them written exhortations to
stand firm in the faith, or by publishing violent pamphlets such as
/The First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstrous Regiment of
Women/, in which he undertook to prove that the rule of women is
repugnant to nature, contrary to God's ordinances, and subversive of
good order, equity, and justice. Though this document was aimed
principally against Catharine de' Medici, Queen Mary of England, and
Mary of Guise regent of Scotland, it rankled in the mind of Queen
Elizabeth after her accession, and did not serve to raise the apostle
of Scotland in her estimation.

The Protestant lords, undeterred by the absence of Knox, decided to go
forward with their programme. In December 1557 the Earl of Argyll, his
son Lord Lorne, Glencairn, Morton, Erskine of Dun, and others, met at
Edinburgh and signed a bond or covenant, by which they bound
themselves solemnly to establish the "Blessed Word of God," to
encourage preachers, to defend the new doctrines even with their
lives, and to maintain the Congregation of Christ in opposition to the
Congregation of Satan. They pledged themselves to introduce the Book
of Common Prayer, to insist on the reading of portions of the
Scriptures in the vulgar tongue on Sundays and holidays, and to
appoint preachers wherever the Catholic clergy were unable or
unwilling to undertake this work.[14] In many districts, where the
lords of the Congregation held sway, measures were taken at once to
enforce these resolutions. Confronted with this revolutionary step,
the regent and the bishops should have had recourse to strong action,
but the former was so interested in the approaching marriage of her
daughter to the Dauphin of France (1558) that she did not wish to
offend the lords, while the primate, as one of the Hamiltons, disliked
the regent because she had supplanted his brother, and contented
himself with gentle admonitions. The lords, confident in their
strength, met in November 1558, and presented a petition to the
regent, in which they demanded that the members of the Congregation
should be allowed to meet in the churches, and to follow their own
ritual in the vulgar tongue, that Communion should be administered
under both kinds, that private individuals should be at liberty to
explain difficult passages of the Sacred Scriptures, and that the
clergy should be reformed. The regent after consultation with the
primate consented to these requests, at least in regard to private
religious assemblies, but refused to yield to another petition
demanding the abolition of all laws against heresy.[15]

The religious controversies became more and more embittered during the
year 1559. The lords of the Congregation denounced the abuses of the
clergy, demanded permission to use the vulgar tongue in all public
religious services as well as in the administration of the sacraments,
and insisted on the admission of the lower nobles and of the people to
a voice in the appointment of bishops and of pastors. To put an end to
the abuses that were proving such a useful weapon in the hands of the
adversaries of the Church, and at the same time to give public and
formal expression to the faith of the Scottish nation, a national
synod[16] met at Edinburgh (April 1559). It denounced once again the
awful scandal of concubinage among the clergy, laid down useful
regulations regarding preaching and the appointment of bishops,
condemned plurality of benefices, nonresidence, and demands on the
part of the clergy for excessive fees. To raise the standard of
education among the clergy it ordained that those presented to
benefices should be examined, and that each monastery should maintain
some of its members at the universities. In its profession of faith
the synod emphasised the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist,
Transubstantiation, the propitiatory character of the sacrifice of the
Mass, the sufficiency of Communion in one kind, the existence of a
real priesthood, and purgatory, prayers for the dead, invocation of
the saints, fasting, and holidays. In response to the demands of the
Congregation the synod pointed out that it had not the power to change
the rites and ceremonies that had been handed down for centuries, that
as the Church was the definitely appointed guardian and interpreter of
the Scriptures private individuals were not permitted to expound them
at their will, and that in the appointment of bishops and pastors the
rules laid down in canon law were quite sufficient to prevent abuses
if only they were followed.

About the same time Quintin Kennedy, Benedictine Abbot of Crossraguel,
conferred an immense service on religion by his written apology[17]
for the Catholic Church. Starting with the Bible and its relation to
ecclesiastical authority, he undertook to show that from the very
nature of the case such a book required the presence of a divinely
appointed official interpreter, that the reading of the Scriptures was
not necessary for salvation though in many cases it might be useful,
and that the authority of the Church should not be overthrown even
though the existence of scandals among churchmen could not be denied.
Turning to his adversaries, he demanded what was the source of all the
abuses and scandals which they charged against the Church? Was it not,
he asked, the unwarrantable interference of the nobles in the
nominations to ecclesiastical benefices, an interference that was
responsible for having even children who were too young to hold an
apple in their hands appointed to the charge of populous parishes, in
order that the relatives of these children might grow rich on the
revenues, and was it not the very men who were guilty of such conduct
who were loudest in their denunciation of the Church? On the nobles he
laid the blame for oppressing the Church, for introducing unworthy
ecclesiastics into offices of trust, for depriving the poor of
instruction and education, and for promoting thereby heresy and

As the year (1559) advanced the state of affairs in Scotland became
daily more alarming. Preachers were everywhere at work under the
protection of the lords. The regent and the French authorities, who
had shown a fatal apathy in their dealings with Scottish heretics,
began to wake up to the political danger involved in such a movement.
A French agent, M. Béthencourt,[18] arrived in Scotland in April 1559,
and, whether it was due to his advice or not, the regent forbade the
preachers to continue their disturbances. On their refusal to submit
she summoned them to appear at Stirling for trial (10th May).
Encouraged by the return of Knox who had landed at Leith early in the
same month, and by the armed forces placed at their disposal by some
of their principal patrons, they refused to attend and were outlawed.
A number of the reforming lords immediately took possession of Perth,
and destroyed several Catholic churches in the city. When news of this
rising reached the regent she assembled her forces and marched against
Perth, but as neither side was anxious for civil war at the time, a
truce was agreed upon, and the forces of the regent were allowed to
occupy the town. From Perth the reforming lords retreated to St.
Andrew's, where they burned and destroyed the altars, pictures,
statues, and even the sacred vessels used for religious worship. The
abbey church of Scone, in which a long line of Scottish kings had been
crowned, was destroyed; Perth and Stirling were seized, and before the
end of June 1559 Edinburgh was in the hands of the lords of the
Congregation. The regent issued an appeal in the name of the king and
queen of Scotland calling upon all loyal subjects to defend the
government against the revolutionary Congregation, but her unfortunate
preference for French soldiers and officials gave the Protestant lords
the advantage of enabling them to pose as patriots engaged in the
defence of their country against foreigners. They were forced,
however, to capitulate and to surrender Edinburgh to the regent (26th

Early in this same month (1559) Henry II. of France died, and was
succeeded by Francis II., the husband of Mary Queen of Scots.
Elizabeth and her advisers were alarmed at the prospect that opened
before them. Mary Queen of Scots, as the nearest legitimate heir to
the English throne, was a dangerous neighbour, especially at a time
when England was thrown into confusion by a new religious revolution,
and when English Catholics might rally to her standard with the
blessing of the Pope and of the Kings of France and Spain. Even though
the Queen of Scotland did not resort to extremes, the very existence
of a Catholic kingdom in Scotland, united by bonds of friendship and
interest to France, constituted a grave danger for England; whereas if
Scotland could be induced to accept the Protestant religion and to
throw in its lot with its southern neighbour, the enemies of England
on the Continent might rage in vain. The rebellion of the lords of the
Congregation was, therefore, very welcome to Elizabeth and to Cecil.
It gave them an opportunity of interfering in Scottish affairs, not,
indeed, in the untactful manner in which Henry VIII. had interfered,
but as the apparent defenders of Scottish independence against a
French protectorate. On this occasion Scottish patriotism was to be
made subservient to English political aims and at the same time to
Protestant interests.

The lords of the Congregation, realising that without assistance they
could never hope to overcome the regent, turned to England for
support. Their petitions were welcomed by Cecil and the leading
counsellors of Elizabeth, but the queen herself distrusted Knox, and
disliked allying herself with open rebels. To give the movement an
appearance of constitutionalism the young Earl of Arran, who had been
brought to France and who had secretly embraced Calvinism, was induced
to make his escape into England. As a near claimant to the Scottish
throne he was welcomed at the English court, and was led to believe
that if he acted prudently he might become the husband of Elizabeth,
and the king of a united England and Scotland. He was dispatched into
Scotland, where he succeeded in detaching his father, the Duke of
Châtelherault, and several other nobles from the side of the regent.
Relying on the protection of England, from which a plentiful supply of
money was dispatched to the rebels, and on the new accessions to their
ranks, the lords of the Congregation announced the suspension of the
regent from her office (Oct. 1559) though they hesitated to take the
further step of proclaiming the Earl of Arran or Lord James Stuart
sovereign of Scotland. The regent replied to this act of rebellion by
marching on Edinburgh, forcing the rebels to retreat to Stirling
(Nov.), while the Earl of Bothwell seized large sums of money that
were being forwarded to the rebel camp from England. The English
advisers began to realise that money and secret assistance were not
enough to secure the triumph of the Congregation in Scotland, and that
the time had come when more decisive measures must be taken.

In December 1559 and January 1560, an armed force was dispatched to
the north, and Admiral Winter was commanded to blockade the Forth
against a French fleet. A little later a formal agreement was
concluded between the Duke of Norfolk representing Elizabeth, and Lord
James Stuart the commissioner for the Congregation. At first it was
proposed to act in common for "the maintenance of the Christian
religion," but as these words might have given rise to serious
complications on the Continent, it was decided that an alliance should
be concluded for the defence of the ancient rights and liberties of
Scotland. An English army of eight thousand men marched into Scotland,
and the English fleet blockaded the fortress of Leith which was the
key to the capital. Owing to the Huguenot risings in France the
assistance that had been promised could not be sent, but nevertheless
the invaders were thrown back in their first assault. In June 1560,
however, Mary of Guise, worn out by the anxieties and cares of her
difficult office, passed away, and three weeks later the garrison was
obliged to surrender. English and French plenipotentiaries met to
arrange the terms of peace. It was agreed that the French soldiers,
with the exception of about one hundred and twenty men, should be
drafted from Scotland, that no foreigners should be promoted to any
office in the kingdom, that until the arrival of the king and queen
the country should be governed by a council of twelve, seven of whom
were to be selected by Mary and Francis and five by the Parliament,
that the entire question of religion should be submitted to a Scottish
Parliament convoked to meet on the 1st August (1560), and that, in the
meantime, a kind of religious truce should be observed by both sides.
It was agreed, furthermore, that the spiritual peers should hold their
seats in Parliament as before, and that they should not be disturbed
in their ecclesiastical possessions.

The successful invasion of Scotland by the English troops had turned
the scales in favour of the lords of the Congregation. They were now
masters in Scotland, but, had the bishops and clergy been zealous men
worthy of their sacred office, the cause of the old Church in Scotland
would not have been even then hopeless. While Knox and his friends
were straining every nerve to consolidate their work by the
appointment of preachers and superintendents for the rising
congregation, many of the Catholic bishops and abbots, several of whom
were allied by blood and friendship with the lay lords, either
contented themselves with doing nothing, or went over to the enemies
of the Church for the sake of securing for themselves and their
descendants the ecclesiastical property that they administered. The
Archbishop of St. Andrew's and Primate of Scotland was the brother of
the Earl of Arran. Though a convinced Catholic himself, he was not the
man either to make a struggle or to inspire confidence at such a
crisis. Archbishop Beaton of Glasgow had fled already from the
kingdom; the Bishop of Argyll, another illegitimate scion of the house
of Hamilton, was a Protestant or was soon to become one; Adam
Bothwell,[19] whom the Pope had appointed the previous year to the See
of Orkney on the petition of the king and queen of Scotland, could not
be trusted, as his subsequent conduct showed; Alexander Gordon, who
claimed to be Bishop of Galloway, though he was never consecrated, had
gone over openly to the enemies of the Church, as had also the
provincial of the Dominicans, the sub-prior of the chapter of St.
Andrew's, and John Rowe a former agent of the Scottish bishops at the
Roman Court. With men such as these to guard the interests of
Catholicism in Scotland there could be little doubt about the result.

In August 1560 the Parliament met at Edinburgh. In addition to the lay
lords and representatives of the lesser nobles and of the cities,
there were present a number of bishops and abbots. Amongst these
latter it is interesting and instructive to note the presence of Lord
James Stuart, the bastard brother of the queen and one of the leaders
of the Congregation, as prior of St. Andrew's, of Lord James Hamilton
son of the Earl of Arran and a follower of Knox as abbot of Arbroath,
of John Stuart abbot of Coldingham, of the son of the Duke of Argyll
as bishop-elect of Brechin, together with a number of other laymen,
who, though holding high office in the Church, were determined to
promote the new movement for the sake of the property that they hoped
to obtain. The discussion opened under the presidency of Maitland,
Lord of Lethington, the Scottish Cecil, a double dealer who was even
more dangerous than an open enemy. A petition was presented
immediately on the part of Knox and his friends that doctrines such as
Transubstantiation, the sacrificial character of the Mass, Purgatory,
prayers for the dead, meritorious works, etc., which had been forced
upon the people by the clergy should be rejected. A confession of
faith was drafted and submitted to the assembly. The Primate and the
Catholic bishops present protested against the discussion of such a
document on the ground that according to the terms of the Treaty of
1560 the religious question should have been submitted previously to
the king and queen, and also because the treaty had never been
confirmed owing to the fact that the French commissioners had exceeded
their instructions. It was no doubt for this reason that a large
number of the ecclesiastical and lay lords who were strongly Catholic
had refused to attend the Parliament. Indeed the supporters of the old
religion, relying on the help of the queen, seemed to think that any
religious settlement made by Parliament was of no importance. Their
refusal to discuss the confession of faith was taken, however, as a
sign of their inability to refute it, and the confession was passed
with but few dissentients. Later on (24th August) three other acts
were formulated with the object of uprooting Catholicism in Scotland.
The jurisdiction of the Pope was abolished, and the bishops were
forbidden to act under his instructions; all previous Acts of
Parliament contrary to God's word or to the confession of faith as now
approved were declared null and void; and all persons were forbidden
to celebrate or to hear Mass under pain of confiscation of their goods
for the first offence, banishment for the second, and death for the

/The Book of Discipline/ which contained an exposition of the
ecclesiastical policy of the Scottish Reformers was compiled by Knox
and his companions. It dealt with the preaching of the Scriptures, the
two sacraments Baptism and the Eucharist, the suppression of religious
houses of all kinds, the election and appointment of ministers, elders
and deacons, and with the means to be provided for their support and
for the maintenance of education. Though the separate congregations
were left more or less free regarding the kind of religious service
that should be followed, the Book of Common Prayer formerly accepted
in Scotland was abolished to make way for the Calvinistic Book of
Common Order. In the general assemblies of the reformed Church
(December 1560-May 1561) decrees were issued for the destruction of
the religious houses and of all signs of idolatry, and individuals
were appointed to see that these decrees were put into immediate

Both parties in Scotland turned instinctively to their queen. Mary had
been married in 1558, and in 1559 her husband succeeded to the throne
of France under the title of Francis II. A minister was dispatched to
inform her of the proceedings in Parliament, but she refused to
confirm the terms of the treaty with England, or to sanction the
changes that had been decreed. The death of her husband Francis II.
(1560) threw her into great grief and forced her to consider the
question of returning at once to her kingdom. She believed that many
of those who opposed her previously, lest Scotland should become a
French province, might now abandon their league with Elizabeth, and
welcome home their own lawful sovereign. Nor was there anything at
this time to indicate that Mary had any intention of playing the part
of a champion of Catholicism,[22] or of running the risk of forfeiting
her throne in Scotland or her claims to the English crown by
undertaking a campaign against the new religion. Her years of
residence at the French court, where religious interests were only too
often sacrificed to political designs, could not fail to have produced
their natural effect. In February 1561 she sent commissioners to
assure the lords of her forgiveness for what they had done, and to
empower the Duke of Châtelherault and others to convoke a Parliament
in her name. At a meeting of the nobles held in January 1561 her
natural brother, Lord James Stuart, was deputed by the lords to offer
Mary their allegiance, while the Catholic party including the Earls of
Huntly, Atholl, Crawford, Sutherland, and some bishops, dispatched a
messenger to warn her against the Congregation, and to place at her
disposal a strong force in case she decided to land in the north. But
Mary, distrusting the motives of Huntly and his friends, treated their
offers of assistance with neglect, and welcomed as her saviour and
friend the man who even then was not unwilling to act as a spy on his
sister and his queen at the bidding of Elizabeth. Mary's selection of
him as her trusted adviser boded ill for the future of her reign.

At last with a heavy heart Mary determined to leave the country of her
adoption. As she was unwilling to confirm the treaty with England in
its entirety and to renounce her claims to the English throne,
Elizabeth refused to grant passports through England, but under the
shelter of a thick mist Mary succeeded in eluding all danger of
capture and landed safely at Leith (Aug. 1561). From the people
generally she received an enthusiastic welcome, but, when on the
following Sunday she insisted that Mass should be celebrated in the
private chapel of Holyrood, it required all the efforts of her brother
to prevent a riot. Knox and his brethren denounced such idolatrous
conduct as intolerable, and bewailed the misfortunes that God must
inevitably pour out upon the country in punishment for so grievous a
crime. A few days later Mary issued a proclamation announcing that no
change would be made in the religious settlement without the consent
of Parliament, but that in the meantime no attempt should be made to
interfere with her household. A new privy council was appointed, in
which the two principal members were Lord James Stuart and Maitland,
Lord of Lethington, both equally untrustworthy. None of the Catholic
bishops was offered a seat at the council board, and the Catholic
lords were represented only by the Earls of Huntly and Argyll. A
general assembly of the Reformers was held at Edinburgh (1561), which
succeeded in securing a share of the ecclesiastical endowments, and
another in 1562, which appointed John Craig as the assistant of Knox
in Edinburgh. For so far Mary could do little for her co-religionists
in Scotland, nor indeed does it appear that any serious effort was
made in that direction. Still her own example was not without its
effect. Several of the waverers especially in Edinburgh seem to have
returned to the Church. Pius IV., who was anxious to learn the true
state of affairs, commissioned the Jesuit Nicholas de Gouda (Goudanus)
to visit Scotland for the purpose of encouraging the queen and of
inviting the bishops to assist at the Council of Trent. He arrived in
Scotland (June 1561). After waiting six weeks in the house of a
Catholic nobleman he secured a secret interview with the queen at
Holyrood. With most of the bishops he was not even so successful.
Though he reported that they were for the greater part Catholics and
men of good intentions, some of them like Sinclair of Ross refused to
see him, from others he got no reply to his letters, and it was only
with the greatest difficulty he contrived to have a short conversation
with Bishop Crichton at Dunkeld.[23] There is no doubt that the
bishops were surrounded by powerful and watchful enemies, but it seems
strange that they should have effaced themselves so completely, at a
time when Knox and his opponents by means of general assemblies and
other such bodies were impressing the country with their strength and
activity. Even though the bishops were silent the old religion was not
without some able and energetic defenders in the person of Leslie,
soon to be the Bishop of Ross, Quintin Kennedy whose services have
been referred to already, and Ninian Winzet, who caused Knox
considerable embarrassment by his tracts, letters, and public

In his report Father de Gouda alluded to the imminent peril in which
the queen stood owing to her complete reliance on her unworthy
ministers. Her brother Lord James Stuart, and Maitland, both hostile
to the Catholic religion, were her principal advisers. Although the
Earl of Huntly had not played a very noble part in the disputes
between the regent and the Congregation, he was the recognised head of
the Catholic party. He had offered his services to the queen while she
was still in France, but at the instigation of her brother she had
refused to accept them. After her return to Scotland Huntly found that
he was treated with coldness, and the earldom of Moray that belonged
to his family was taken from him and conferred on his old rival, Lord
James Stuart. During the queen's journey to the north (August 1562)
she refused to visit Huntly. A dispute having broken out regarding the
execution of one of his followers, who was unwilling to open the gates
of a Gordon castle to the queen, Huntly took up arms. He was
overthrown and slain at Corrichie by the Earl of Moray (1562). In a
Parliament held in May 1563 the Earls of Huntly and Sutherland and
eleven nobles of the house of Gordon were attainted, and their goods
confiscated. The overthrow of this nobleman, on whom the bishops had
counted for support, helped to strengthen the Congregation in
Scotland, and to encourage it to persecute more rigorously the
followers of the old religion. During the spring of 1563 some of the
Catholic clergy seem to have adopted a more forward policy, but they
were accused of violation of the law. The primate and close on fifty
others were tried before the courts in Edinburgh for celebrating or
hearing Mass, and were committed to custody by the queen. To show that
she was still Catholic, however, Mary dispatched a letter to the
Council of Trent. It was read to the assembled Fathers in May 1563,
and it gave entire satisfaction if we may judge by the answer that was
prepared. The papal legates were not unwilling that the council should
declare sentence of excommunication against Queen Elizabeth, thereby
preparing the way for Mary's claims to the throne, but the opposition
of the Emperor and of Philip II. of Spain put an end to the

The question of Mary's marriage was of paramount importance,
particularly as it was probable that the issue of the marriage would
succeed to the thrones of Scotland and of England. The Pope and the
French favoured the Archduke Charles of Austria who was disliked by
the Scottish nobles as being too poor; Philip II., more for the
purpose of defeating a proposed marriage of the Queen of Scotland to
Charles IX. of France, suggested his own son Don Carlos as a probable
suitor, but he showed little real earnestness in pushing forward the
project, while Elizabeth was inclined to support her own former lover,
Dudley, who was created Earl of Leicester, as it is said, to prepare
the way for his marriage with the Scottish queen. But Mary, bewildered
and annoyed by the varying counsels of her friends, put an end to the
intrigues by marrying her cousin Lord Darnley, who as the son of the
Earl of Lennox and of Margaret Douglas, granddaughter of Henry VII.,
had very strong claims on the English and Scottish thrones. A papal
dispensation from the impediment of consanguinity was sought, but it
would appear that the marriage was solemnised (29th July 1565) before
the dispensation was granted.[25] Darnley was a young man of
prepossessing appearance, and as a Catholic he was the idol of his
co-religionists in England. His marriage with the Queen of Scotland
was agreeable to the Pope and to Philip II. of Spain, who hastened to
send Mary financial assistance as well as congratulations. Such a
union was, as might be expected, distasteful to the Protestant party
in England, and particularly distasteful to Elizabeth, who foresaw the
disastrous consequences that might ensue to England from the union of
two such formidable Catholic claimants to the English throne.

The Earl of Moray and the other reforming lords, realising that the
marriage was likely to destroy their influence, determined to take up
arms. Encouraged by Elizabeth, the Earls of Moray, Glencairn, the Duke
of Châtelherault and others rose in rebellion, nominally in defence of
Protestantism but in reality to maintain their own supremacy at court.
Mary, displaying more courage than she had displayed hitherto,
assembled her forces, overthrew the lords, and forced Moray and his
confederates to escape across the borders into England (Oct. 1565).
This victory gave new hopes to the Catholics in Scotland. Darnley
began to attend Mass openly, as did several of the nobles, while the
queen took steps to secure appointments to some of the vacant

But soon a new danger appeared from an unexpected quarter. Darnley was
a vain and foolish youth who treated his wife with but scanty respect.
He wished to be sovereign of Scotland, to secure the crown for the
family of Lennox to the exclusion of the Hamiltons, and to force the
queen to follow his counsels in all matters of state. As his wishes
were not granted he determined to revenge himself on Mary's secretary,
David Riccio, whom he pretended to regard as Mary's secret adviser.
For this purpose he turned for assistance to the reformed party whose
fears had been aroused by Mary's religious policy. A confederation was
formed consisting of Darnley, the Earl of Morton, Lord Ruthven, and
Lindsay for the murder of Riccio. The Earl of Lennox Darnley's father,
Moray, Argyll, and Maitland of Lethington, the English ambassador, and
apparently John Knox, were aware of the design and approved of it.[26]
When everything was ready for the opening of Parliament the murderers
forced their way into the presence of the queen, and slew her
secretary almost in her presence (9 March 1566). On the next day
Darnley issued a proclamation ordering those who had assembled for the
Parliament to leave Edinburgh, and on the same evening the Earl of
Moray arrived in the capital.

The conspirators had agreed to proclaim Darnley king of Scotland. For
this purpose the queen was to be held a prisoner or to be slain if she
attempted to make her escape, but she succeeded in eluding the
vigilance of her captors and in making her way to Dunbar, where she
was joined by Archbishop Hamilton, the Earls of Huntly, Atholl, and
Bothwell. She advanced on Edinburgh without meeting any resistance,
while the murderers of Riccio were obliged to make their escape into
England. Darnley deserted his fellow conspirators by communicating to
the queen the details of the plot. His desertion did not, however,
gain him the dictatorship he desired, as Mary pardoned Moray and
Argyll, and received them together with Huntly, Atholl, and Bothwell
into her councils. The birth of an heir to the throne would, it was
thought, lead to a better understanding between Mary and her husband,
but unfortunately it had no result. Though the baptism of the prince
was carried out in the chapel-royal of Stirling Castle with all the
pomp and splendour of Catholic ceremonial (December 1566) Darnley
refused to be present or to take any part in the festivities. A few
days later Morton and the other murderers of Riccio were pardoned, and
allowed to return to Scotland.

The Earls of Moray and Argyll and the other leading conspirators were
incensed against Darnley for having communicated to the queen their
share in the plot that led to Riccio's murder. Bothwell, who had done
so much to frustrate the conspiracy, detested Darnley almost as
fiercely as he himself was detested by both Darnley and the Earl of
Lennox. During the latter half of the year 1566 nearly all the great
lords of Scotland entered into a confederation or "band" against
Darnley. Whether they meant merely to assist the queen to procure a
legal separation from her husband with the support and approval of
Parliament, or whether they intended to bring about Darnley's death by
legal or illegal means is not sufficiently clear.[27]

Soon after the baptism of the prince, Darnley fell ill in Glasgow of
small-pox. The queen sent her physician to attend him, went herself to
visit him, and when he began to improve had him removed to a lonely
house outside Edinburgh, where she frequently spent hours in his
company. To all appearances a complete reconciliation had been
effected, and Darnley in his letters expressed his entire satisfaction
with the kindness and attention of his wife. Suddenly on the night of
the 11th February 1567 the house was blown up, and Darnley was killed.
Suspicion pointed to Bothwell as the author of the crime, and no doubt
the case against him was strong, though how far he was assisted and
encouraged by some of the other lords must for ever remain a mystery.
Mary's concurrence or implication in the design is not proved by any
reliable evidence, and were it not for her subsequent conduct it is
not likely that complicity in the murder of her husband would have
been laid to her charge. At the privy council on the day following the
murder an explanation was drawn up and forwarded to France, declaring
that a plot against the lives of the queen, king, and principal nobles
had been discovered, and that it was only by a happy accident that the
queen's life had been saved.

The Earl of Lennox, Darnley's father, charged Bothwell publicly with
the murder of the king and demanded that he should be brought to
justice. A day was fixed for the trial, but as Bothwell was powerful
in the councils of the queen and was both able and willing to resort
to force if force were necessary, it was very difficult to procure
evidence against him. Lennox pleaded unsuccessfully for a delay, and
as no one was prepared to come forward to prove the charges, Bothwell
was acquitted (12th April 1567). A few days later most of the lords
who had assembled in Edinburgh for the meeting of Parliament met at
Ainslie's tavern and signed an agreement (Ainslie's Band) pledging
themselves before God to defend Bothwell who had been declared
innocent of the murder, and, stranger still, to procure his marriage
with the queen. Various and contradictory lists of the signatories
have been published, but from an examination of these different lists
it is sufficiently clear that most of the great lords were attached to
the confederation.[28] As usually happened when a serious crisis was
approaching, Moray was absent from the country.

Bothwell, under pretence of punishing some of the robber bands,
mustered his forces, overcame the small guard that accompanied the
queen on her journey from Stirling to Edinburgh, and carried off
herself and Maitland as prisoners to Dunbar (19 April). That Bothwell
acted in collusion with Mary is not proved, but despite the advice of
her confessor, of the French representative, and of her best friends
Mary agreed to go through a form of marriage with Bothwell. Her new
husband was a Protestant, married already to the Earl of Huntly's
sister from whom he had obtained a separation. The marriage ceremony
was performed by the apostate Bishop of the Orkneys, who was soon to
prove as disloyal to his queen as he had proved dishonest towards the
Pope. Such a marriage celebrated under such circumstances created a
most painful impression amongst the Catholics at home as well as in
France and at Rome. It served to confirm their worst suspicions, and
made them fear that Mary was about to desert the religion of her
fathers. "With this act," wrote the papal ambassador who had been
deputed to come to Scotland but who remained at Paris, "so
dishonourable to herself, the propriety of sending any sort of envoy
ceases unless indeed her Majesty, in order to amend her error and
inspired by God, convert the Earl to the Catholic faith."[29]

Many of the lords, who had signed the bond to promote the marriage of
Bothwell and Mary, professed to be shocked when they learned that the
marriage had taken place. Relying upon the active intervention of
Elizabeth they took up arms to avenge the murder of their king. The
armies of the queen and of the lords met at Carbery Hill, where after
some discussion Mary surrendered herself to the lords, and Bothwell
was allowed to make his escape. The queen surrendered on the
understanding that she was to be treated as queen, but she soon
discovered that her captors intended to deprive her of her kingdom and
possibly of her life. As a first step in the proceedings she was
removed from Holyrood to Loch Leven (16th June). A document was drawn
up embodying her abdication of the Scottish throne in favour of her
infant son, and the appointment of her brother the Earl of Moray as
regent during the minority. Until Moray's return the government was to
be entrusted to a commission consisting of the Duke of Châtelherault,
Lennox, Argyll, Atholl, Morton, Glencairn and Moray. Lord Lindsay and
Sir Robert Melville were deputed to obtain the queen's signature,
which they succeeded in obtaining only by threats and violence (24th
July 1567). The young prince was crowned a few days later, John Knox
acting as preacher on the occasion, and the apostate Bishop of the
Orkneys as the chief minister. Steps were taken to ensure that Mary
should not make her escape from imprisonment, and Bothwell who had
fled to the Orkneys was forced to escape to Denmark, where he died in
1578. Moray hastened back from France, interviewed the queen at Loch
Leven, accepted the office to which he had been appointed, and was
proclaimed regent in Scotland. Severe measures were taken against the
Catholic clergy many of whom fled from the kingdom. The queen's chapel
at Holyrood was destroyed, and care was taken that the young king
should be reared in the Protestant religion.

The lords of Scotland had taken up arms to avenge the murder of
Darnley, but once they established themselves in power they took no
steps to bring the murderers to justice, for the obvious reason that
any judicial investigation must necessarily result in establishing
their own guilt. Sir James Balfour, who had been involved deeply in
the affair, was forgiven, on condition that he should surrender
Edinburgh Castle into the hands of the regent. Parliament met in
December 1567. It confirmed the abdication of the queen and the
appointment of Moray. The laws passed against the Catholic Church in
1560 were renewed. It was enacted furthermore that for the future the
kings and rulers of Scotland should swear to uphold the reformed
religion and to extirpate heresy. The queen had demanded that she
should be allowed to defend herself before Parliament against the
attacks of her enemies, but the regent and council refused to comply
with her request. Some of her friends, however, endeavoured to uphold
her good name, and when they were defeated in Parliament they appealed
to the people by publishing a defence of their sovereign.

Though every precaution was taken to ensure the safe-keeping of the
queen, she succeeded in escaping from Loch Leven (2 May 1568). She was
welcomed at Dunbar by the Primate of Scotland, the Hamiltons, Huntly,
Argyll, Seaton, Cassillis, and others, and soon found herself at the
head of an army of eight thousand men. She declared that her
abdication having been secured by violence was worthless, and that the
acts of the recent Parliament were null and void. She called upon all
her loyal subjects to flock to her standard. The regent, aware that
unless a sudden blow could be struck help would come to Mary from the
Catholics of the north as well as from France and Spain, determined to
take the field at once. The armies met at Langside, near Glasgow (13th
May), where the forces of the queen were overthrown. Mary accompanied
by a few faithful followers made her way south towards Galloway, and
at last against the advice of her best friends she determined to cross
the border to throw herself on the protection of the Queen of England.

The arrival of Mary in England created a great difficulty for
Elizabeth. If she were allowed to escape to France, both France and
Spain might join hands to enforce her claims to the English
succession, and if she were restored to the throne of Scotland, Moray
and his friends could expect no mercy. It was determined, therefore,
that Elizabeth should act as umpire between the queen and her
rebellious subjects, so that by inducing both sides to submit their
grievances to Elizabeth feeling between them might be embittered, and
that in the meantime a divided Scotland might be kept in bondage. In
her reply to the letter received from the Queen of Scotland Elizabeth
informed her that she could not be received at court nor could any
help be given to her unless she had cleared herself of the charges
brought against her. Both parties in Scotland were commanded to cease
hostilities, but at the same time Cecil took care to inform Moray
secretly that he should take steps to enforce his authority throughout

Mary, while repudiating Elizabeth's right to sit in judgment on her
conduct, consented that a conference should be held between her
commissioners and those appointed by Elizabeth and by the rebel lords.
The Dukes of Norfolk, Sussex, and Sir Ralph Sadler were the English
commissioners; Bishop Leslie, Lord Livingstone, and Lord Herries
represented Mary; while Moray, Morton, and Maitland of Lethington
appeared to present the case of the rebel lords. The conference opened
at York (October 1568). Several days were wasted in attempts made by
Maitland to effect a compromise so that the production of charges and
counter-charges might be unnecessary, and in considering inquiries put
forward by the Earl of Moray regarding Elizabeth's attitude in case
the charges against the Scottish queen were proved. Some of the
letters supposed to have been written by Mary to Bothwell were shown
secretly to the English commissioners, but they do not seem to have
produced any great effect on the Duke of Norfolk or even on the Duke
of Sussex who was certainly not prejudiced in Mary's favour. The
latter reported that Moray could produce no proofs except certain
letters the authorship of which the Queen of Scots would deny. In
fact, Sussex believed that were the affair to come to trial it would
go hard with the queen's accusers.[31] In a short time Elizabeth
ordered that the venue should be changed from York to London, and
Mary, believing that she would be allowed an opportunity to defend
herself before the peers and representatives of foreign governments,
accepted the change. She sent Bishop Leslie and Lord Herries to
represent her in London, but on their arrival they found that Mary
would not be allowed to appear in person, though her accusers were
received by the queen, nor would the foreign ambassadors be admitted
to hear the evidence.

The new commission opened at Westminster (4th Dec. 1568). The lords
brought forward their charges against the queen accusing her of
complicity in the murder of her husband. In proof of this they
produced a number of letters that were supposed to have been contained
in a casket left behind him by Bothwell in Edinburgh, when he fled
from that city in June 1567. This casket contained eight letters and
some sonnets, which, if really written by Mary, proved beyond doubt
that she was hand in glove with Bothwell in bringing about the murder
of Darnley. The Casket Letters considered in the light of her own
conduct furnished damaging evidence of Mary's guilt. Whether these
letters were genuine or forged is never likely to be established with
certainty,[32] but considering the character of Mary's opponents,
their well-known genius for duplicity, the contradictory statements
put forward by their witnesses and the indecent haste with which the
whole enquiry was brought to a close, it is difficult to believe that
the evidence of Mary's authorship was convincing. The commissioners
acting on Mary's behalf laboured under grave disadvantages from the
fact that their mistress was not at hand for consultation. As a
consequence they made many mistakes in their pleadings, but they were
on sure ground when they demanded that copies of the incriminating
letters should be forwarded to Mary for examination. This demand,
though supported by the French ambassador, was refused, and Mary was
never allowed an opportunity to reply to the main charge brought
against her. An offer was made that proceedings should be dropped if
Mary would consent to resign the throne of Scotland in favour of her
son, and when she refused this offer the conference was brought to a
sudden termination. Moray and his friends were informed that "nothing
had been produced against them as yet that might impair their honour
and allegiance; and on the other part there had been nothing
sufficiently produced or shown by them against the queen their
sovereign, whereby the Queen of England should conceive or take any
evil opinion of the queen her good sister for anything yet seen" (Jan.
1569).[33] The Earl of Moray and his companions were allowed to return
to Scotland, and nothing more was done either to establish the
innocence or the guilt of the Queen of Scotland. The object of
Elizabeth and her advisers had been attained. They had blackened the
character of Mary; they had driven a wedge between herself and her
nobles, and had allowed Moray to return to Scotland to rule as an
English dependent.

To prevent Queen Mary from falling into the hands of the Catholic
lords of the north she was removed from Tutbury to Coventry (26th
January 1569). Whatever might be said of Mary's conduct during her
early years in Scotland, or whatever doubt might have been entertained
about her orthodoxy by the Pope and by the Catholic powers of the
Continent, everything unfavourable to her was forgotten by them in
their sympathy for her sufferings, and in their admiration for her
fortitude and sincere attachment to her religion. Pius V. and Philip
II. were as deeply interested in her fate as were the Catholics of
Scotland and of England. A scheme was arranged to promote her marriage
to the Duke of Norfolk and to secure her succession to the English
throne, but Elizabeth anticipated the design by imprisoning the Duke,
suppressing the rebellion of the northern lords (1569), and by braving
the terrors of the papal excommunication levelled against her the
following year.

When later on a new plot was discovered with the same object in view
Norfolk was put to death (1572). While Mary was alive in England she
was a source of constant danger to Elizabeth's throne. English
Catholics driven to desperation by the penal laws were certain to turn
to her as their lawful sovereign, while the Catholic nations on the
Continent could fall back on the imprisoned queen whenever they chose
to stir up disorder, or possibly to attempt an invasion. Dangerous as
she was in prison, she might be still more dangerous if she were free
to effect her escape either to Scotland or to France. In her death lay
Elizabeth's best hope of peace, and as the rigour of her confinement
failed to kill her, an attempt was made to induce the Scots to
undertake a work that the English feared to undertake.[34] At last an
opportunity was given of bringing about her execution and of covering
the measure with an appearance of legality. A scheme for her release
was undertaken by Babington,[35] with every detail of which the spies
of Cecil were intimately acquainted, if they did not actually help to
arrange them. Babington's letters to Mary and her replies were
betrayed and copied. It is certain that Mary knew what was intended,
but there is no evidence to show that she approved of the murder of
Elizabeth. When the proper time came Babington and his accomplices
were arrested and put to death (October 1586), and Mary's fate was
submitted to the decision of Parliament. Both houses petitioned that
the Queen of Scotland should be executed, but Elizabeth, fearful of
the consequences and hoping that Mary's jailer Paulet, would relieve
her of the responsibility, hesitated to sign the death warrant. At
last, however, she overcame her scruples, and on the 8th February
1587, Mary Queen of Scots was beheaded at Fotheringay. Her attitude to
the last was worthy of praise. She died a martyr for her religion, and
by her death she expiated fully the imprudences and waverings of her
youth. Elizabeth pretended to be horrified by the action of her
ministers. Her secretary was imprisoned and fined to prove to
Scotland, France, and Spain that the Queen of England had no
responsibility for the tragedy of Fotheringay.

Meanwhile how fared it with Catholicism in Scotland? The Regent Moray
returned from England early in 1569. Acting on the repeated requests
of the General Assembly he undertook new measures against the Catholic
Church. Catholic officials and professors were removed from Aberdeen
University; several priests were arrested and punished though the
regent was unwilling to inflict the death penalty, and many
distinguished clerics and laymen, including the Primate and Bishop
Leslie, were outlawed and their goods confiscated. The regent was not
destined however to enjoy long the fruits of his treachery against his
sister. In 1570, at the very time when he was plotting with the
English government to get the Queen of Scotland into his power, he was
shot in Linlithgow by one of the Hamiltons, the hereditary enemies of
his house.

On his death there were two strong parties in Scotland. The majority
of the nobles, including the Duke of Châtelherault, Argyll, Huntly,
Atholl, and even Kirkcaldy and Maitland of Lethington, two former
supporters of Moray, ranged themselves on the side of their imprisoned
queen, and might have succeeded in re-establishing her authority had
not Elizabeth espoused the cause of Morton, Mar, Glencairn and
Ruthven, backed as these were by Knox and the preachers. Two English
armies were dispatched into Scotland, and with the help of the English
forces the Earl of Lennox, Darnley's father, was appointed regent
(July 1570). It was not the first time that he had sought to destroy
the independence of his country by invoking the assistance of the
English, and as he had gone over to Protestantism he was determined to
throw himself into the arms of the Reformers. The castle of Dunbarton
was still in the possession of the queen's supporters. He laid siege
to it, and captured it in April 1571. Here he seized the Primate of
Scotland, and had him put to death after a summary trial. The chapter
met and elected Robert Hay, but he was never consecrated, and for more
than three hundred years St. Andrew's was without a Catholic bishop.
In September 1571 Lennox was slain, and the Earl of Mar was elected
regent. During his short reign he was unable to enforce his authority
in the country. Negotiations were opened with him by Cecil's agents to
induce him to undertake the execution of the Queen of Scotland, who
was to be sent back from England for the purpose, but his sudden death
in 1572 put an end to the scheme.

He was succeeded by the Earl of Morton, another of Elizabeth's agents.
At first Morton was not unfavourable to the Catholics owing to the
disputes that arose between himself and the preachers about the
re-establishment of the episcopal form of government, but later on he
adopted a policy of violent opposition to the old religion. Some of
the priests were put to death; others were arrested or banished; a
list of Catholics including Beaton the Archbishop of Glasgow, Leslie
Bishop of Ross, and Chisholm Bishop of Dunblane was drawn up for
proscription, and steps were taken to suppress Catholic holidays and
to remove from the churches everything that called to mind Catholic

In 1578 the young king demanded Morton's resignation. A council of
twelve was appointed in his place, at the head of which stood the
Earls of Argyll and Atholl. Elizabeth was annoyed at the fall of her
minion, and took no pains to conceal her annoyance from the young
king. It looked as if friendly relations between the two courts might
be broken, and the Catholic party both at home and on the Continent
were filled with new hopes. In 1579 Esmé Stuart, Lord d'Aubigny, a
nephew of the former Earl of Lennox, arrived from France, where he had
been educated as a Catholic. He was welcomed at court by the king and
created Earl of Lennox. James fell completely under his sway, though
the preachers regarded d'Aubigny as a Catholic spy. Regardless of
Elizabeth's friendship, James was induced to open communications with
his mother, and when the Earl of Morton rose in rebellion against such
a policy he was arrested and put to death (1582). Though apparently
Lennox made profession of accepting the established religion in
Scotland, he was endeavouring secretly to bring about an understanding
between Mary and her son, to secure the release of the former from
captivity, and to assist the Catholic cause. The preachers took alarm
at the sudden and unexpected increase of Popery. "Before this French
court came to Scotland," said Walter Belcanqual in one of his sermons
in 1580 "there were either few or none that durst avow themselves
Papists, neither yet publicly in the country, neither in the reformed
cities, neither in the king's palace. But since that time, not only
begin the Papists within the realm to lift up their heads, but also
our Scottish Papists that were outside the realm swarm home from all
places like locusts, and have taken such hardihood unto them that not
only have they access to the French court, but also in the king's
palace, in the particular sessions of our kirks, and general
assemblies thereof, durst plainly avow their Papistry, and impugn the
truth, both against the laws of the realm and discipline of the
Church, contrary to all practice that we have had before."[36]

The members of the General Assembly, annoyed at the attempt of the
king to support the episcopal system of government, were determined to
remove Lennox, whom they regarded as an emissary of Rome. Elizabeth's
agents, too, were busy stirring up discontent. A plot formed by
Ruthven Earl of Gowrie, the Earl of Mar, and others, for the capture
of the king, was carried out successfully during a visit paid by James
to Ruthven's castle at Gowrie (The Gowrie Plot). He was seized and
lodged safely in Stirling. The Earl of Arran who attempted to rescue
his sovereign was made prisoner, and Lennox was obliged to flee to
France (1582).

For a time Melville and the preachers, who gloried in Gowrie's
successful machinations, held the king in bondage. The General
Assembly of 1582 expressed its approval of what had been done,[37] and
renewed its attacks upon the episcopal system. James, however,
succeeded in making his escape from confinement; the Earl of Arran was
recalled to court; Ruthven was declared a traitor and was beheaded,
and the other conspirators were obliged to make their escape to
England. James entered into close correspondence with some of the
Catholic powers abroad, and even went so far as to appeal to the Pope
for assistance against the enemies who surrounded him (1584). For a
time it seemed as if a great Catholic reaction was about to set in.
Priests who had escaped from England were labouring with success in
the Scottish mission-fields; a few Jesuits had arrived from the
Continent, and France, Spain, and the Pope were in correspondence
regarding the assistance that might be given to James and his mother.
But the spies of Elizabeth soon obtained knowledge of what was in
contemplation. France and Spain were too jealous of one another to
undertake an armed expedition, without which success was impossible.
Negotiations were opened up with a view of detaching James from the
Catholic party, and of inspiring him with distrust for his mother. As
he was always more anxious to secure his accession to the English
throne than to defend either his mother's life or her religion, he
succumbed completely to English influence.

Not even the execution of his mother in 1587 was sufficient to rouse
him to take serious action. Though he was urged by many of the
Scottish nobles to declare war he contented himself with angry
speeches and protests that passed unheeded. Even many of the
Presbyterian lords were ready to support him had he declared war, and
Catholic noblemen like the Earls of Huntly, Erroll, and Crawford, Lord
Maxwell, and Lord Hamilton, offered their assistance. It was well-
known, too, that Philip II. was preparing at the time for an invasion
of England. Had Scotland declared war the results might have been
disastrous for England, but James, instead of taking the offensive,
accepted a pension from Elizabeth and offered to assist in the defence
of the kingdom. He endeavoured at first to conciliate the Catholic
party by restoring John Leslie Bishop of Ross, who had been for years
a most zealous defender of Mary Queen of Scots, to his See and his
possessions, and by appointing the exiled Archbishop of Glasgow to be
his ambassador at the French court. The General Assemblies, however,
backed up by Elizabeth forced him to take strong measures against the
adherents of the old religion. In 1593 a proclamation was issued
ordering all Jesuits and seminary priests to leave Edinburgh within
two hours under pain of death, and a violent campaign was begun in
nearly every part of Scotland against the Catholic nobles and clergy.
The Catholic lords who were in close communication with Spain were
forced to take up arms. Their forces were mustered under the Earls of
Huntly and Erroll, and gained a complete victory at Glenlivet over the
Earl of Argyll who was dispatched against them. When the news of this
defeat reached the king at Dundee he displayed unwonted activity. He
assembled a large army to punish his rebellious subjects, and the
Catholic lords were at last forced to make their escape from the
country. With the flight of Huntly and Erroll (1595) and the dispersal
of their troops the triumph of Protestantism in Scotland was assured.

The great leader in the attack on the Catholic Church in Scotland was
John Knox who belonged to the Geneva school, and who worked hard for
the introduction of the Calvinist system of Church government. The
state of affairs in Scotland at the time was very favourable to his
designs. Obviously there could be no question of royal supremacy or of
a State Church being established after the English model, since the
Queen of Scotland was a staunch supporter of the Roman Church. Neither
could the principle of parliamentary control be accepted since the
Scottish Parliament was comparatively powerless. Had the revenues and
possessions of the Scottish bishoprics and ecclesiastical benefices
been left untouched the democratic form of government would have been
impossible, but as the hungry lords of Scotland had appropriated
already the wealth of the Church they had no special interest in the
ecclesiastical appointments. The result was that the General
Assemblies, composed of both preachers and laymen, became the
recognised governing body of the new religion, and they arrogated to
themselves full control of ecclesiastical affairs. The bishops who
were willing to conform were not, however, removed from office. They
were subjected to the control of the General Assembly, and were placed
on the same level as the recently named superintendents.

But the regents who governed Scotland during the minority of James VI.
were not inclined to receive with favour the idea of ecclesiastical
independence. In 1571 the Earl of Mar insisted on appointing an
archbishop to St. Andrew's without reference to the General Assembly,
and immediately the preachers were up in arms. They were handicapped
in their resistance by the fact that their great leader Knox was too
ill to afford them much assistance, and at last they were forced to
accept a compromise according to which the old system of
ecclesiastical government was left practically untouched. Archbishops,
bishops, deans and chapters were retained; the bishops were to be
elected by the chapters with the permission and approval of the king
and were to receive the temporalities by royal grant; and all persons
admitted to benefices were to promise obedience to their bishops. At
the same time it was agreed that the bishops should be subject to the
General Assemblies in spiritual matters, as they were subject to the
king in temporals. It was hoped that by means of this compromise peace
might be secured, but in a short time the attack on episcopal
government was renewed with still greater vigour. A new leader had
appeared in the person of Andrew Melville, the Principal of the
College of Glasgow, and the friend of the great Swiss Reformer, Beza.
Despite the fact that the regent espoused the cause of episcopacy the
General Assemblies were determined to continue the struggle for its
overthrow. The adoption in 1580 of the /Second Book of Discipline/,
involving as it did the overthrow of episcopal authority, the
rejection of state interference and the assertion that spiritual
authority was derived only from the people, was a severe blow to the
young king and his advisers; but they found some consolation in the
fact that the Scottish Parliament re-asserted the principle of royal
supremacy and recognised the authority of the bishops (1584).

A form of declaration was drawn up which all preachers were required
to sign under threat of dismissal. During the years 1585 and 1586
serious attempts were made by the government to reduce them to
subjection, but without any important result. In fact, at the
suggestion of Melville, the General Assembly pronounced sentence of
excommunication against Archbishop Adamson (1586), and the archbishop
was obliged to submit himself to the judgment of that body. From that
time things went from bad to worse till in 1592 Parliament gave its
formal sanction to Presbyterianism, though the /Second Book of
Discipline/ was not approved, nor were the bishops deprived of their
civil positions. Hardly had James been seated on the English throne
than he determined to make another effort to force episcopacy and
royal supremacy on the Scottish Church. He appointed several new
bishops to the vacant Sees (1603). As the preachers still offered a
strong opposition Melville was invited to a conference at Hampton
Court (1606) where a warm debate took place between the
representatives of the Presbyterians and their opponents. Melville and
his friends refused to yield, and when the former was summoned to
appear before the privy council to answer for certain verses he had
composed, he seized the Archbishop of Canterbury by the sleeves of his
rochet, denounced him as an enemy of the gospel truth, and assured him
that he would oppose his schemes to the last drop of blood. He was
arrested and thrown into prison. Parliament supported the king (1609);
a High Commission Court was established in 1610 to deal with the
preachers, and in the same year the nominees of James were consecrated
by English prelates. But despite the efforts of James and of his
successor Charles I., Presbyterianism still continued to flourish in

Though the flight of the Earls of Huntly and Erroll (1595) had assured
the triumph of Presbyterianism many of the people of Scotland,
particularly of those in the north, still remained devoted to the old
religion. The Jesuit Fathers had been untiring in their efforts, and
the labours of men like Fathers Creighton, Hay, Gordon, and Abercromby
were far from being unfruitful. Still the ecclesiastical organisation
had broken down; the supply of priests was likely to become exhausted,
and, unless some attempt was made to maintain unity and authority, as
well as provide means of education for clerical students, there was
grave danger that Catholicism might soon be extinguished. In 1598
George Blackwell received faculties as archpriest or superior of the
Scotch mission, and was provided with a number of consultors to assist
him in his difficult task. A Scotch college was established at Rome by
Clement VIII. to supply Scotland with priests (1600). Another college
of a similar kind was founded at Tournai in 1576 by Dr. James Cheyne.
Later on it was removed to Pont-à-Mousson and placed under the control
of the Jesuits, and finally it was brought to Douay. The old Irish
foundations at Würzburg and Regensburg were taken over by the Scotch,
and utilised for the education of priests. Scottish colleges were also
established at Paris and at Madrid (transferred to Valladolid).

The Catholics of Scotland expected some toleration from James I., but
they were doomed to disappointment. The king was unable and unwilling
to put an end to the violent persecution carried on by the kirk, which
aimed at wiping out every trace of Catholicity by directing its
attackings against the Catholic nobility of the north and against the
Jesuits, one of whom, Father Ogilvie was put to death (1516).
Similarly under Charles I. the persecution continued unabated, but,
notwithstanding all the penalties levelled against the clergy, many
priests were found willing and ready to help their co-religionists in
Scotland. Jesuits, Benedictines, Franciscans from Ireland, Capuchins,
and Vincentians[38] vied with each other in their efforts to confirm
the faith of those who remained true and to win back those who had
fallen away. During the Protectorate the Catholics could hope for no
mercy, nor did the accession of Charles II. make much change in their
sad condition. Under James II. they enjoyed a brief spell of liberty.
The chapel at Holyrood was opened once again, and some provision was
made from the private resources of the king for the support of the
missions, and of the foreign colleges.

But the favour of James II. led to still greater persecutions once he
had been overthrown to make way for William of Orange. During the
reigns of William and Mary, of Anne and of George I. the position of
the Scotch Catholics was even worse than that of their brethren in
England or Ireland. In his anxiety to encourage both the priests and
the laity Innocent XII. appointed Bishop Thomas Nicholson as vicar-
apostolic of Scotland in 1694, and, as it was impossible for him to
give sufficient attention to the districts in the north and west where
Catholics were still fairly numerous, Dr. Hugh MacDonald was appointed
vicar-apostolic of the Highlands in 1726. When the Pretender arrived
in Scotland the Catholics flocked to his standard, and when he was
defeated at Culloden (1746) they were obliged to pay a heavy penalty
for their loyalty to the old rulers. The Highland clans were either
cut up in battle or deported; the Catholic chapels were closed, and so
violent was the persecution that ensued that it seemed as if the
wishes of the kirk were about to be realised. But events soon showed
that those who imagined they had seen the extinction of Catholicism in
Scotland were doomed to disappointment.

[1] Theiner, /Vet. Mon. Scot./, 8.

[2] Id., 465-68.

[3] Robertson, /Concilia Scotiae (1225-1559)/, cclxx.-cclxxxv.

[4] Pollen, /Papal Negotiations/, etc., 525-30.

[5] Forneron, /Les ducs de Guise et lour époque/, 1877.

[6] Herkless, /Cardinal Beaton/, 263 sqq.

[7] Id., 289-301.

[8] /Cambridge Modern History/, ii., 556.

[9] Robertson, /Concilia Scotiae/.

[10] Law, /Archbishop Hamilton's Catechism/, 1884.

[11] Pollen, op. cit., xxv., xxiv.-vi.

[12] For a reliable account of Knox, cf. Lang, /John Knox and the
Reformation/, 1905.

[13] Grub, /Ecc. Hist. of Scotland/, ii., 45-6.

[14] Bellesheim, i., 389.

[15] Grub, op. cit., ii., 53-54.

[16] Wilkins, /Concilia/, iv., 204 sqq.

[17] Published in 1558. Dedicated to the writer's nephew, "Gilbert
Maister of Cassillis."

[18] Pollen, op. cit., xxxii. sqq.

[19] Pollen, op. cit., 56.

[20] Bellesheim, op. cit., i., 424-32.

[21] Grub, op. cit., ii., 89 sqq.

[22] Pollen, op. cit., xlix. sqq.

[23] On the mission of Gouda, cf. Pollen, op. cit., liv.

[24] Pollen, op. cit., 162-76.

[25] Pollen, op. cit., lxxxv.-xcviii.

[26] Lang, /The Mystery of Mary Stuart/, 54-9.

[27] Lang, /The Mystery of Mary Stuart/, 74 sqq.

[28] Lang, op. cit., 148 sqq.

[29] Pollen, op. cit., 293, cxxvi.-xxxiii.

[30] /Political History of England/, vi., 272.

[31] Rait, /Mary Queen of Scots/, 145.

[32] Cf. Hosack, /Mary Stuart and her Accusers/, 2 vols., 1870-4.
Henderson, /Casket Letters/, 2nd edition, 1890. Id., /Mary Queen
of Scots/, 2 vols., 1905. Fleming, /Mary Queen of Scots/, 2 vols.,
1897-8. Nau-Stephenson, /History of Mary Stuart/, 1883. Lang,
/Mystery of Mary Stuart/, 1904.

[33] Lang, /The Mystery of Mary Stuart/, 160-1.

[34] Bellesheim, ii., 129.

[35] Pollen, /Mary Stuart and the Babington Plot/ (/Month/, 1907).

[36] Grub, op. cit., ii., 210.

[37] Grub, op. cit., ii., 229.

[38] Bellesheim, op. cit., 283-98.



/Annals of the Four Masters/. /State Papers/, 11 vols., 1832-5.
/Papal Letters/, 9 vols. /De Annatis Hiberniae/, vol. i., Ulster,
1912; vol. ii., Leinster (app. ii. /Archivium Hibernicum/, vol.
ii.). Brady, /The Episcopal Succession in England, Scotland and
Ireland (1400-1873)/, 3 vols., 1876. Theiner, /Vetera Monumenta
Scotorum (1216-1547)/, 1864. Ware's /Works/, 2 vols., 1729.
Wilkins, /Concilia Magnae Britanniae et Hiberniae/, iii. vol.,
1737. /Reports of the Deputy Keeper of Public Records, Ireland/.
/Reports of the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts/. De
Burgo, /Hibernia Dominicana/, 1762. Gilbert, /The Viceroys of
Ireland/, 1865. Id., /Facsimiles of National Manuscripts of
Ireland/, 4 vols., 1875. Lawlor, /A Calendar of the Register of
Archbishop Sweetman/, 1911. Bellesheim, /Geschichte der
Katholischen Kirche in Ireland/, 3 Bde, 1890. Malone, /Church
History of Ireland from the Anglo-Norman Invasion to the
Reformation/, 2 vols., 3rd edition, 1880. Brenan, /An
Ecclesiastical History of Ireland/, 1864. Gogarty, /The Dawn of
the Reformation in Ireland (I. T. Q.)/, 1913, 1914. Green, /The
Making of Ireland and its Undoing (1200-1600)/, 1908. Bagwell,
/Ireland under the Tudors/, 1885. Wilson, /The Beginnings of
Modern Ireland/, 1912.

From the beginning of the fourteenth century English power in Ireland
was on the decline. The Irish princes, driven to desperation by the
exactions and cruelties of the officials, adopted generally a more
hostile attitude, while the great Norman nobles, who had obtained
grants of land in various parts of Ireland, began to intermarry with
the Irish, adopted their language, their laws, their dress, and their
customs, and for all practical purposes renounced their allegiance to
the sovereign of England.

Owing to the civil war that raged in England during the latter portion
of the fifteenth century the English colonists were left entirely
without support, and being divided among themselves, the Geraldines
favouring the House of York, and the Ormonds, the House of Lancaster,
they were almost powerless to resist the encroachments of the native
princes. Nor did the accession of Henry VII. lead to a combined effort
for the restoration of English authority. The welcome given by so many
of the Anglo-Irish, both laymen and clerics, to the two pretenders,
Simnel and Warbeck, and the efforts the king was obliged to make to
defend his throne against these claimants, made it impossible for him
to undertake the conquest of the country. As a result, the sphere of
English influence in Ireland, or the Pale, as it was called, became
gradually more restricted. The frantic efforts made by the Parliament
held at Drogheda (1494, Poynings' Parliament) to protect the English
territory from invasion by the erection "of a double ditch six feet
high" is the best evidence that the conquest of the country still
awaited completion.[1] In the early years of the reign of Henry VIII.
the Pale embraced only portions of the present counties of Dublin,
Louth, Meath and Kildare, or to be more accurate, it was bounded by a
line drawn from Dundalk through Ardee, Kells, Kilcock, Clane, Naas,
Kilcullen, Ballymore-Eustace, Rathcoole, Tallaght, and Dalkey. Within
this limited area the inhabitants were not safe from invasion and
spoliation unless they agreed to purchase their security by the
payment of an annual tribute to the neighbouring Irish princes; and
outside it, even in the cities held by Norman settlers and in the
territories owned by Norman barons, the king's writ did not run.[2]

Recourse was had to legislative measures to preserve the English
colonists from being merged completely into the native population.
According to the Statutes of Kilkenny (1367) the colonists were
forbidden to intermarry with the Irish, to adopt their language,
dress, or customs, or to hold any business relations with them, and
what was worse, the line of division was to be recognised even within
the sanctuary. No Irishman was to be admitted into cathedral or
collegiate chapters or into any benefice situated in English
territory, and religious houses were warned against admitting any
Irish novices, although they were quite free to accept English
subjects born in Ireland[3] (1367). This statute did not represent a
change of policy in regard to Irish ecclesiastics. From the very
beginning of the Norman attempt at colonisation the relations between
the two bodies of ecclesiastics had been very strained. Thus, in the
year 1217 Henry III. wrote to his Justiciary in Ireland calling his
attention to the fact that the election of Irishmen to episcopal Sees
had caused already considerable trouble, and that consequently, care
should be taken in future that none but Englishmen should be elected
or promoted to cathedral chapters. The Irish clerics objected strongly
to such a policy of exclusion, and carried their remonstrances to
Honorius III. who declared on two occasions (1220, 1224) that this
iniquitous decree was null and void.[4] As the papal condemnations did
not produce the desired effect, the archbishops, bishops, and chapters
seem to have taken steps to protect themselves against aggression by
ordaining that no Englishman should be admitted into the cathedral
chapters, but Innocent IV., following the example of Honorius III.,
condemned this measure.[5]

Notwithstanding its solemn condemnation by the Holy See this policy of
exclusion was carried out by both parties, and the line of division
became more marked according as the English power began to decline.
The petition addressed to John XXII. (1317) by the Irish chieftains
who supported the invasion of Bruce bears witness to the fact that the
Statutes of Kilkenny did not constitute an innovation, and more than
once during the fifteenth century the legislation against Irish
ecclesiastics was renewed. The permission given to the Archbishop of
Dublin to confer benefices situated in the Irish districts of his
diocese on Irish clerics (1485, 1493) serves only to emphasise the
general trend of policy.[6] Similarly the action of the Dominican
authorities in allowing two superiors in Ireland, one of the houses in
the English Pale, the other for the houses in the territories of the
Irish princes[7] (1484), the refusal of the Irish Cistercians to
acknowledge the jurisdiction of their English superiors, the boast of
Walter Wellesley, Bishop of Kildare and prior of the monastery of Old
Connal (1539) that no Irishman had been admitted into this institution
since the day of its foundation,[8] prove clearly enough that the
relations between the Irish and English ecclesiastics during the
fifteenth century were far from being harmonious.

In the beginning, as has been shown, the Holy See interfered to
express its disapproval of the policy of exclusion whether adopted by
the Normans or the Irish, but later on, when it was found that a
reconciliation was impossible, the Pope deemed it the lesser of two
evils to allow both parties to live apart. Hence the Norman community
of Galway was permitted to separate itself from the Irish population
immediately adjoining, and to be governed in spirituals by its own
warden (1484); and Leo X. approved of the demand made by the chapter
of St. Patrick's, Dublin, that no Irishman should be appointed a canon
of that church (1515).[9] But though the Holy See, following the
advice of those who were in a position to know what was best for the
interests of religion, consented to tolerate a policy of exclusion, it
is clear that it had no sympathy with such a course of procedure. In
Dublin, for example, where English influence might be supposed to make
itself felt most distinctly, out of forty-four appointments to
benefices made in Rome (1421-1520) more than half were given to
Irishmen; in the diocese of Kildare forty-six out of fifty-eight
appointments fell to Irishmen (1413-1521), and for the period 1431-
1535, fifty-three benefices out of eighty-one were awarded in Meath to
clerics bearing unmistakably Irish names.[10] Again in 1290 Nicholas
IV. insisted that none but an Irishman should be appointed by the
Archbishop of Dublin to the archdeaconry of Glendalough, and in 1482
Sixtus IV. upheld the cause of Nicholas O'Henisa whom the Anglo-Irish
of Waterford refused to receive as their bishop on the ground that he
could not speak English.[11]

But though attempts were made by legislation to keep the Irish and
English apart, and though as a rule feeling between both parties ran
high, there was one point on which both were in agreement, and that
was loyalty and submission to the Pope. That the Irish Church as such,
like the rest of the Christian world, accepted fully the supremacy of
the Pope at the period of the Norman invasion is evident from the
presence and activity of the papal legates, Gillebert of Limerick, St.
Malachy of Armagh, Christian, Bishop of Lismore, and St. Laurence
O'Toole, from the frequent pilgrimages of Irish laymen and
ecclesiastics to Rome, from the close relations with the Roman Court
maintained by St. Malachy during his campaign for reform, and from the
action of the Pope in sending Cardinal Paparo to the national synod at
Kells (1152) to bestow the palliums on the Archbishops of Armagh,
Dublin, Cashel, and Tuam. Had there been any room for doubt about the
principles and action of the Irish Church the question must
necessarily have been discussed at the Synod of Cashel convoked by
Henry II. to put an end to the supposed abuses existing in the Irish
Church (1172), and yet, though it was laid down that in its liturgy
and practices the Irish Church should conform to English customs, not
a word was said that could by any possibility imply that the Irish
people were less submissive to the Pope than any other nation at this

After the Normans had succeeded in securing a foothold in the country,
both Irish and Normans were at one in accepting the Roman supremacy.
The Pope appointed to all bishoprics whether situated within or
without the Pale; he deposed bishops, accepted their resignations,
transferred them from one See to another, cited them before his
tribunals, censured them at times, and granted them special faculties
for dispensing in matrimonial and other causes. He appointed to many
of the abbeys and priories in all parts of the country, named
ecclesiastics to rectories and vicarages in Raphoe, Derry, Tuam,
Kilmacduagh, and Kerry, with exactly the same freedom as he did in
case of Dublin, Kildare or Meath, and tried cases involving the rights
of laymen and ecclesiastics in Rome or appointed judges to take
cognisance of such cases in Ireland. He sent special legates into
Ireland, levied taxes on all benefices, appointed collectors to
enforce the payment of these taxes, and issued dispensations in
irregularities and impediments.

The fiction of two churches in Ireland, one the Anglo-Irish
acknowledging the authority of the Pope, the other the Irish fighting
sullenly against papal aggression, has been laid to rest by the
publication of Theiner's /Vetera Monumenta Hibernorum et Scotorum/,
the /Calendars of Papal Letters/, the /Calendars of Documents
(Ireland)/ and the /Annats/. If any writer, regardless of such
striking evidence, should be inclined to revive such a theory he
should find himself faced with the further disagreeable fact that,
when the English nation and a considerable body of the Anglo-Irish
nobles fell away from their obedience to Rome, the Irish people, who
were supposed to be hostile to the Pope, preferred to risk everything
rather than allow themselves to be separated from the centre of unity.
Such a complete and instantaneous change of front, if historical,
would be as inexplicable as it would be unparalleled.

Nor is there any evidence to show that Lollardy or any other heresy
found any support in Ireland during the fourteenth or fifteenth
centuries. During the episcopate of Bishop Ledrede in Ossory (1317-
60), it would appear both from the constitutions enacted in a diocesan
synod held in 1317 as well as from the measures he felt it necessary
to take, that in the city of Kilkenny a few individuals called in
question the Incarnation, and the Virginity of the Blessed Virgin, but
it is clear that such opinions were confined to a very limited circle
and did not affect the body of the people.[13] About the same time,
too, the dispute that was being waged between John XXII. and a section
of the Franciscans found an echo in the province of Cashel, though
there is no proof that the movement ever assumed any considerable
dimensions.[14] Similarly at a later period, when the Christian world
was disturbed by the presence of several claimants to the Papacy and
by the theories to which the Great Western Schism gave rise, news was
forwarded to Rome that some of the Irish prelates, amongst them being
the Archbishop of Dublin and the Bishop of Ferns, were inclined to set
at nought the instructions of Martin V. (1424), but the latter pontiff
took energetic measures to put an end to a phenomenon that was quite
intelligible considering the general disorder of the period. The
appeal of Philip Norris, Dean of Dublin, during his dispute with the
Mendicants, to a General Council against the decision of the Pope only
serves to emphasise the fact that throughout the controversy between
the Pope and the Council of Basle Ireland remained unshaken in its
attachment to the Holy See.[15] Although the first measure passed by
the Parliament at Kilkenny (1367) and by nearly every such assembly
held in Ireland in the fifteenth century was one for safeguarding the
rights and liberties of the Church, yet the root of the evils that
afflicted the Church at this period can be traced to the interference
of kings and princes in ecclesiastical affairs. The struggle waged by
Gregory VII. in defence of free canonical election to bishoprics,
abbacies, and priories seemed to have been completely successful, but
in reality it led only to a change of front on the part of the secular
authorities. Instead of claiming directly the right of nomination they
had recourse to other measures for securing the appointment of their
own favourites. In theory the election of bishops in Ireland rested
with the canons of the cathedral chapters, but they were not supposed
to proceed with the election until they had received the /congé
d'élite/ from the king or his deputy, who usually forwarded an
instruction as to the most suitable candidate. As a further safeguard
it was maintained that, even after the appointment of the bishop-elect
had been confirmed by the Pope, he must still seek the approval of the
king before being allowed to take possession of the temporalities of
his See. As a result even in the thirteenth century, when capitular
election was still the rule, the English sovereigns sought to exercise
a controlling influence on episcopal elections in Ireland, but they
met at times with a vigorous resistance from the chapters, the
bishops, the Irish princes, and from Rome.[16]

Towards the end of the fourteenth century, however, and in the
fifteenth century, though the right of election was still enjoyed
nominally by the chapters, in the majority of cases either their
opinions were not sought, or else the capitular vote was taken as
being only an expression of opinion about the merits of the different
candidates. Indirectly by means of the chancery rules regarding
reservations, or by the direct reservation of the appointment of a
particular bishopric on the occasion of a particular vacancy, the Pope
kept in his own hands the appointments. Owing to the encroachments of
the civil power and the pressure that was brought to bear upon the
chapters such a policy was defensible enough, and had it been possible
for the Roman advisers to have had a close acquaintance with the
merits of the clergy, and to have had a free hand in their
recommendations, direct appointment might have been attended with good
results. But the officials at Rome were oftentimes dependent on
untrustworthy sources for their information, and they were still
further handicapped by the fact that if they acted contrary to the
king's wishes the latter might create serious trouble by refusing to
restore the temporalities of the See. Instances, however, are not
wanting even in England itself to show that the Popes did not always
allow themselves to be dictated to by the civil authorities, nor did
they recognise in theory the claim of the king to dispose of the

It is difficult to determine how far the English kings succeeded in
influencing appointments to Irish bishoprics. About Dublin, Meath, and
Kildare there can be no doubt that their efforts were attended with
success. In Armagh, too, they secured the appointment of Englishmen as
a general rule, and in Cashel, Waterford, Limerick, and Cork their
recommendations, or rather the recommendations of the Anglo-Irish
nobles, were followed in many instances. Outside the sphere of English
influence it does not seem that their suggestions were adopted at
Rome. At any rate it is certain that if they sought for the exclusion
of Irishmen their petitions produced little effect. During the early
years of the reign of Henry VIII. more active measures seem to have
been taken by the king to assert his claims to a voice in episcopal
appointments. In the appointments at this period to Armagh, Dublin,
Meath, Leighlin, Kilmore, Clogher, and Ross it is stated expressly in
the papal Bulls that they were made /ad supplicationem regis/.[18]

Unfortunately several of the ecclesiastics on whom bishoprics were
conferred in Ireland during the fifteenth century had but slender
qualifications for such a high office. On the one hand it was
impossible for Rome in many cases to have a close acquaintance with
the various candidates, and on the other the influence of the English
kings, of the Irish princes, and of the Anglo-Irish nobles was used to
promote their own dependents without reference to the effects of such
appointments on the progress of religion. The Archbishops of Dublin
and Armagh, and the Bishops of Kildare and Meath were more interested
as a rule in political and religious affairs than in their duties as
spiritual rulers. They held on many occasions the highest offices in
the state, and had little time to devote their attention to the
government of their dioceses. Absenteeism was as remarkable a
characteristic of the Church in the fifteenth century as it was of the
Established Church in the eighteenth, and in this direction the
bishops were the worst offenders. Very often, too, Sees were left
vacant for years during which time the king's officials or the Irish
princes, as the case might be, wasted the property of the diocese
either with the connivance or against the wishes of the diocesan
chapters. Of the archbishops of Ireland about the time of the
Reformation, George Cromer, a royal chaplain, was appointed because he
was likely to favour English designs in Ireland, and for that purpose
was named Chancellor of Ireland; John Alen, another Englishman, was
recommended by Cardinal Wolsey to Dublin mainly for the purpose of
overthrowing the domination of the Earl of Kildare; Edmund Butler, the
illegitimate son of Sir Piers Butler, owed his elevation to the See of
Cashel to the influence of powerful patrons, and Thomas O'Mullaly of
Tuam, a Franciscan friar, passed to his reward a few days before the
meeting of the Parliament that was to acknowledge Royal Supremacy, to
be succeeded by Christopher Bodkin, who allowed himself to be
introduced into the See by the authority of Henry VIII. against the
wishes of the Pope.

But, even though the bishops as a body had been as zealous as
individuals amongst them undoubtedly were, they had no power to put
down abuses. The patronage of Church livings, including rectories,
vicarages, and chaplaincies enjoyed by laymen, as well as by chapters,
monasteries, convents, hospitals, etc., made it impossible for a
bishop to exercise control over the clergy of his diocese. Both Norman
and Irish nobles were generous in their gifts to the Church, but
whenever they granted endowments to a parish they insisted on getting
in return the full rights of patronage. Thus, for example, the Earl of
Kildare was recognised as the legal patron of close on forty rectories
and vicarages situated in the dioceses of Dublin, Kildare, Meath,
Limerick, and Cork, and he held, besides, the tithes of a vast number
of parishes scattered over a great part of Leinster.[19] The Earl of
Ormond enjoyed similar rights in Kilkenny and Tipperary, as did the
Desmond family in the South, and the De Burgos in Connaught. The
O'Neills,[20] O'Donnells, O'Connors, McCarthys, O'Byrnes, and a host
of minor chieftains, exercised ecclesiastical patronage in their
respective territories. Very often these noblemen in their desire to
benefit some religious or charitable institution transferred to it the
rights of patronage enjoyed by themselves. Thus the monastery of Old
or Great Connal in Kildare controlled twenty-one rectories in Kildare,
nineteen in Carlow, one in Meath and one in Tipperary,[21] while the
celebrated convent of Grace-Dieu had many ecclesiastical livings in
its gift.

Owing to these encroachments the bishop was obliged frequently to
approve of the appointment of pastors who were in no way qualified for
their position. The lay patrons nominated their own dependents and
favourites, while both ecclesiastical and lay patrons were more
anxious about securing the revenues than about the zeal and activity
of the pastors and vicars. Once the system of papal reservation of
minor benefices was established fully in the fifteenth century, the
authority of the bishop in making appointments in his diocese became
still more restricted. Ecclesiastics who sought preferment turned
their eyes towards Rome. If they could not go there themselves, they
employed a procurator to sue on their behalf, and armed with a papal
document, they presented themselves before a bishop merely to demand
canonical institution. Though, in theory, therefore, the bishop was
supposed to be the chief pastor of a diocese, in practice he had very
little voice in the nomination of his subordinates, and very little
effective control over their qualifications or their conduct.

Very often benefices were conferred on boys who had not reached the
canonical age for the reception of orders, sometimes to provide them
with the means of pursuing their studies, but sometimes also to enrich
their relatives from the revenues of the Church. In such cases the
entire work was committed to the charge of an underpaid vicar who
adopted various devices to supplement his miserable income. Frequently
men living in England were appointed to parishes or canonries within
the Pale, and, as they could not take personal charge themselves, they
secured the services of a substitute. In defiance of the various
canons levelled against plurality of benefices, dispensations were
given freely at Rome, permitting individuals to hold two, three, four,
or more benefices, to nearly all of which the care of souls was
attached. In proof of this one might refer to the case of Thomas
Russel, a special favourite of the Roman Court, who held a canonry in
the diocese of Lincoln, the prebends of Clonmethan and Swords in
Dublin, the archdeaconry of Kells, the church of Nobber, the perpetual
vicarship of St. Peter's, Drogheda, and the church of St. Patrick in

This extravagant application of patronage and reservations to
ecclesiastical appointments produced results in Ireland similar to
those it produced in other countries. It tended to kill learning and
zeal amongst the clergy, to make them careless about their personal
conduct, the proper observance of the canons, and the due discharge of
their duties as pastors and teachers. Some of them were openly
immoral, and many of them had not sufficient learning to enable them
to preach or to instruct their flocks. It ought to be remembered also
that in these days there were no special seminaries for the education
of the clergy. Candidates for the priesthood received whatever
training they got from some member of the cathedral chapter, or in the
schools of the Mendicant Friars, or possibly from some of those
learned ecclesiastics, whose deaths are recorded specially in our
Annals. Before ordination they were subjected to an examination, but
the severity of the test depended on many extrinsic considerations.
Some of the more distinguished youths were helped by generous patrons,
or from the revenues of ecclesiastical benefices to pursue a higher
course of studies in theology and canon law. As the various attempts
made to found a university in Ireland during the fourteen and
fifteenth centuries[23] proved a failure, students who wished to
obtain a degree were obliged to go to Oxford, from which various
attempts were made to exclude "the mere Irish" by legislation,[24] to
Cambridge, Paris, or some of the other great schools on the Continent.
If one may judge from the large number of clerics who are mentioned in
the papal documents as having obtained a degree, a fair proportion of
clerics during the fifteenth century both from within and without the
Pale must have received their education abroad. Still, the want of a
proper training during which unworthy candidates might be weeded out,
coupled with the unfortunate system of patronage then prevalent in
Ireland, helped to lower the whole tone of clerical life, and to
produce the sad conditions of which sufficient evidence is at hand in
the dispensations from irregularities mentioned in the /Papal

As might be expected in such circumstances, the cathedrals and
churches in some districts showed signs of great neglect both on the
part of the ecclesiastics and of the lay patrons. Reports to Rome on
the condition of the cathedrals of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise[25]
indicate a sad condition of affairs, but they were probably overdrawn
in the hope of securing a reduction in the fees paid usually on
episcopal appointments, just as the account given by the Jesuit Father
Wolf about the cathedral of Tuam[26] was certainly overdrawn by
Archbishop Bodkin with the object of obtaining papal recognition for
his appointment to that diocese. The Earl of Kildare represented the
churches of Tipperary and Kilkenny as in ruins owing to the exactions
of his rival, the Earl of Ormond, while the latter, having determined
for political reasons to accept royal supremacy, endeavoured to throw
the whole blame on the Pope. Both statements may be regarded as
exaggerated. But the occupation of the diocesan property during the
vacancy of the Sees by the king or the nobles, the frequent wars
during which the churches were used as store-houses and as places of
refuge and defence, the neglect of the lay patrons to contribute their
share to the upkeep of the ecclesiastical buildings, and the
carelessness of the men appointed to major and minor benefices, so
many of whom were removed during the fifteenth century for alienation
and dilapidation of ecclesiastical property, must have been productive
of disastrous effects on the cathedrals and parish churches in many
districts. Yet it would be a mistake to suppose that such neglect was
general throughout the country. The latter half of the fourteenth
century and particularly the fifteenth century witnessed a great
architectural revival in Ireland, during which the pure Gothic of an
earlier period was transformed into the vernacular or national
composite style. Many beautiful churches, especially monastic
churches, were built, others were completely remodelled, and "on the
whole it would not be too much to say that it is the exception to find
a monastery or a parish church in Ireland which does not show some
work executed at this period."[27]

The disappearance of canonical election, the interference of lay
patrons, the too frequent use of papal reservations, and the
appointment of commendatory abbots and priors, led to a general
downfall of discipline in the older religious orders, though there is
no evidence to prove that the abuses were as general or as serious as
they have been painted. Even at the time when the agents of Henry
VIII. were at work preparing the ground for the suppression of the
monasteries, and when any individual who would bring forward charges
against them could count upon the king's favour, it was only against a
few members in less than half a dozen houses that grave accusations
were alleged. Even if these accusations were justified, and the
circumstances in which they were made are sufficient to arouse
suspicions about their historical value, it would not be fair to hold
the entire body of religious in Ireland responsible for abuses that
are alleged only against the superiors or members of a small number of
houses situated in Waterford or Tipperary. Long before the question of
separation from his lawful wife had induced Henry VIII. to begin a
campaign in Ireland against Rome, the Mendicant Friars had undertaken
a definite programme of reform. In 1460 the Bishop of Killala in
conjunction with the Franciscan Friar, Nehemias O'Donohoe, determined
to introduce the Strict Observance into the Franciscan Houses,[28] and
from that time forward in spite of obstacles from many quarters the
Observants succeeded in getting possession of many of the old
Conventual Houses, and in establishing several new monasteries in all
parts of Ireland, but particularly in the purely Irish districts. The
Dominicans, too, took steps to see that the original rules and
constitutions of the order should be observed. In 1484 Ireland was
recognised as a separate province, though the houses within the Pale
were allowed to continue under the authority of a vicar of the English
provincial, while at the same time a great reform of the order was
initiated. Several houses submitted immediately both within and
without the Pale, amongst the earliest of them being Coleraine,
Drogheda, Cork, and Youghal. The various religious orders of men did
excellent work in preaching, instructing the people, in establishing
schools both for the education of clerics and laymen, and in tending
to the wants of the poor and the infirm. In the report on the state of
Ireland presented to Henry VIII. it is admitted that, though the
bishops and rectors and vicars neglected their duty, the "poor friars
beggers" preached the word of God.[29] That the people and nobles,
both Irish and Anglo-Irish, appreciated fully the labours and services
of the Friars is evident from the number of new houses which they
established for their reception during the fifteenth century. The
convents of Longford, Portumna, Tulsk, Burishool, Thomastown, and Gola
were established for the Dominicans; Kilconnell, Askeaton,
Enniscorthy, Moyne, Adare, Monaghan, Donegal, and Dungannon for the
Franciscans; Dunmore, Naas, Murrisk and Callan for the Augustinians,
and Rathmullen, Frankfort, Castle-Lyons and Galway for the Carmelites.

The abuses that existed in the Irish Church at this period arose
mainly from the enslavement of the Church, and they could have been
remedied from within even had there been no unconstitutional
revolution. As a matter of fact those who styled themselves Reformers
succeeded only in transferring to their own sect the main sources of
all previous abuses, namely, royal interference in ecclesiastical
affairs and lay patronage, and by doing so they made it possible for
the Catholic Church in Ireland to pursue its mission unhampered by
outside control. It ought to be borne in mind that the faults of
certain individuals or institutions do not prove that the whole
organisation was corrupt, and that if there were careless and unworthy
bishops, there were also worthy men like the Blessed Thaddeus
MacCarthy of Cloyne, who though driven from his diocese by the
aggression of the nobles, was venerated as a saint both in Ireland and
abroad. The great number of provincial and diocesan synods held in
Ireland during the period between 1450 and 1530 makes it clear that
the bishops were more attentive to their duties than is generally
supposed, while the collections of sermons in manuscript, the use of
commentaries on the Sacred Scriptures and of concordances, the
attention paid to the Scriptures in the great Irish collections that
have come down to us, and the homilies in Irish on the main truths of
religion, on the primary duties of Christians, and on the Lives of the
Irish Saints, afford some evidence that the clergy were not entirely
negligent of the obligations of their office. Had the clergy been so
ignorant and immoral, as a few of those foisted into Irish benefices
undoubtedly were, the people would have risen up against them. And
yet, though here and there some ill-feeling was aroused regarding the
temporalities, probates, fees, rents, rights of fishing, wills, etc.,
there is no evidence of any widespread hostility against the clergy,
secular or regular, or against Rome. The generous grants made to
religious establishments, the endowment of hospitals for the poor and
the infirm, the frequent pilgrimages to celebrated shrines in Ireland
and on the Continent, the charitable and religious character of the
city guilds, and above all the adherence of the great body of the
people to the religion of their fathers in spite of the serious
attempts that were made to seduce them, prove conclusively enough that
the alleged demoralisation of the Irish Church is devoid of historical

Nor could it be said that the Irish people at this period were
entirely rude and uncultured. Though most of their great schools had
gone down, and though the attempts at founding a university had
failed, learning had certainly not disappeared from the country.
Clerics and laymen could still obtain facilities for education at the
religious houses, the cathedral and collegiate churches, at the
schools of Irish law and poetry, and from some of the learned teachers
whose names are recorded in our Annals during this period. Many of the
clerics, at least, frequented the English universities or the
universities on the Continent. During the fifteenth and sixteenth
centuries one can point to several distinguished Irish scholars such
as O'Fihely, the Archbishop of Tuam, who was recognised as one of the
leading theological writers of his day, Cathal Maguire the author of
the Annals of Ulster, Bishop Colby of Waterford, the author of several
commentaries on Sacred Scripture, the well-known Carmelite preacher
and writer Thomas Scrope, Patrick Cullen Bishop of Clogher, and his
arch-deacon Roderick O'Cassidy, and Philip Norris, the determined
opponent of the Mendicants, and the Dominicans John Barley, Joannes
Hibernicus, and Richard Winchelsey.[30] The catalogue of the books
contained in the library of the Franciscan convent at Youghal about
the end of the fifteenth century affords some indication of the
attitude of the monastic bodies generally towards education and
learning. In addition to the missals, psalteries, antiphonies, and
martyrologies, the convent at Youghal had several copies of the Bible
together with some of the principal commentaries thereon, collections
of sermons by well-known authors, several of the works of the early
Fathers and of the principal theologians of the Middle Ages, the
Decrees of Gratian, the Decretals and various works on Canon Law,
spiritual reading-books, including the life of Christ, and works on
ascetic theology, the works of Boetius and various treatises on
philosophy, grammar, and music, and some histories of the Irish
province of the Franciscans.[31]

Similarly the library of the Earl of Kildare about 1534 contained over
twenty books in Irish, thirty-four works in Latin, twenty-two in
English and thirty-six in French,[32] while the fact that Manus
O'Donnell, Prince of Tyrconnell, could find time to compose a Life of
St. Columba in 1532, and that at a still later period Shane O'Neill
could carry on his correspondence with foreigners in elegant Latin
bears testimony to the fact that at this period learning was not
confined to the Pale. Again it should be remembered that it was
between the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries that the great Irish
collections such as the Book of Lecan, the Book of Ballymote, the
Leabhar Breac, the Book of Lismore, etc., were compiled, and that it
was about the same time many of the more important Irish Annals were
compiled or completed, as were also translations of well-known Latin,
French, and English works.[33]

[1] Hardiman, /A Statute of the 40th Year of Edw. III./, p. 4.

[2] /State Papers, Henry VIII./, vol. ii., pp. 1-31 (/State of Ireland
and plan for its Reformation/).

[3] Hardiman, op. cit., pp. 46-54.

[4] Theiner, /Vetera Monumenta Hibernorum/, etc., pp. 16, 23.

[5] /Calendar Pap. Documents/, an. 1254.

[6] Hardiman, op. cit., pp. 47-9.

[7] De Burgo, /Hibernia Dominicana/, p. 75.

[8] /State Papers Henry VIII./, xiv., no. 1021.

[9] Mason, /The History and Antiquities of ... St. Patrick's, Dublin/,
1820, p. xviii.

[10] /De Annatis Hiberniae/, vol. i., 1912; vol. ii. (app. ii.
/Archive Hib./ vol. ii.).

[11] Theiner, op. cit., 487-8.

[12] Wilkins, /Concilia/, ii., an. 1172.

[13] Carrigan, /History of Ossory/, i., 45-57.

[14] Theiner, op. cit., 261.

[15] Theiner, op. cit., 371. De Burgo, /Hib. Dom./ 68.

[16] /Irish Theol. Quarterly/, ii., 203-19.

[17] Capes, /History of the English Church in the Fourteenth and
Fifteenth Centuries/, 1909, p. 222.

[18] Brady, /Episcopal Succession/ (see various dioceses mentioned).

[19] /Ninth Report of Commission on Hist. MSS./, pt. ii., 278.

[20] /Archiv. Hibernicum/, vol. i., 39-45.

[21] Id., app. ii., 40.

[22] /Archiv. Hibernicum/, app. ii., 6.

[23] By John de Lech, Archbishop of Dublin (1312); by his successor,
Alexander Bicknor; by the Earl of Desmond in the Parliament at
Drogheda (1465); by the Dominicans, 1475; and by Walter
Fitzsimons, Archbishop of Dublin (1485-1511).

[24] Green, /The Making of Ireland/, etc., p. 271.

[25] /De Annatis Hiberniae/, i., 155-6.

[26] /Hib. Ignatiana/, 13.

[27] Champneys, /Irish Eccl. Architecture/, 1910, p. 172.

[28] Theiner, op. cit., pp. 425, 436. /Annals F. M./, 1460.

[29] /State Papers Henry VIII./, ii., 15.

[30] /Hib. Dom./, p. 540.

[31] Malone, op. cit., ii., 206 sqq.

[32] O'Grady, /Catalogue of Irish MSS. in British Museum/, p. 154.

[33] Green, op. cit., pp. 261 sqq.



See bibliography, chap. vii. /Annals of the F. M./ (ed.
O'Donovan), 7 vols., 1851. /Annals of Loch Cé/ (ed. Hennessy), 2
vols., 1871. Theiner, /Monumenta Scotorum/, etc. (/ut supra/).
Moran, /Spicilegium Ossoriense/, 3 vols., 1874-85. Publications of
Catholic Record Society of Ireland, /Archivium Hibernicum/, 3
vols., 1912-14. /De Annatis Hiberniae/, vol. i. (Ulster), 1912.
/State Papers/, 11 vols., 1832-51 (vols. ii., iii.,
/Correspondence between the Governments of England and Ireland/,
1515-46). Brewer and Gairdner, /Calendar of Letters and Papers ...
of Reign of Henry VIII./, 13 vols., 1862-92. /Calendar of State
Papers, Ireland/, vol. i. (1509-1573). /Calendar of State Papers/
(Carew), 1 vol., 1515-1574. Morrin, /Calendar of Patent Rolls/
(Ireland), 1 vol., 1861 (Hen. VIII., Ed. VI., Mary, Elizabeth).
Shirley, /Original Letters and Papers in Illustration of the
History of the Church of Ireland during the Reigns of Ed. VI.,
Mary and Elizabeth/, 1851. /Holinshead's Chronicles of England,
Scotland, and Ireland/, 6 vols., 1807 (/Chronicle of Ireland/, by
Holinshead; Stanyhurst, 1509-47; John Hooker, 1547-86). D'Alton,
/History of Ireland/, vol. i., 1903. Bagwell, /Ireland under the
Tudors/, 3 vols., 1885-90. Bonn, /Die Englische Kolonisation in
Irland/, 2 Bd., 1896. Bellesheim, op. cit. Brenan, /An
Ecclesiastical History of Ireland/, 1864. Mant, /History of the
Church of Ireland/, 2 vols., 1840. Killen, /The Ecclesiastical
History of Ireland/, 2 vols., 1875. Cox, /Hibernia Anglicana/,
etc., 1689. /Hibernia Pacata/ (ed. O'Grady, 2 vols., 1896). Ware's
/Works/ (ed. Harris, 1764). /Harleian Miscellany/, 10 vols., 1808-
13. Moran, /History of the Catholic Archbishops of Dublin since
the Reformation/, 1 vol., 1864. Renehan-McCarthy, /Collections on
Irish Church History/, vol. i. (Archbishops), 1861. Brady,
/Episcopal Success in England, Scotland, Ireland/, 3 vols., 1876.

When Henry VIII. ascended the English throne, though he styled himself
the Lord of Ireland, he could claim little authority in the country.
The neglect of his predecessors, the quarrels between the English
colonists, especially between the Geraldines and the Butlers, and the
anxiety of both parties to ally themselves with the Irish princes, had
prevented the permanent conquest of the country. Outside the very
limited area of the Pale English sheriffs or judges dare not appear to
administer English law; no taxes were paid to the crown; no levies of
troops could be raised, and the colonists could only hope for
comparative peace by paying an annual tribute to the most powerful of
their Irish neighbours. The barony of Lecale in Down paid £40 a year
to O'Neill of Clandeboy, Louth paid a similar sum to O'Neill of
Tyrone, Meath paid £300 a year to O'Connor of Offaly, Kildare £20 to
O'Connor, Wexford £40 to the McMurroughs, Kilkenny and Tipperary £40
to O'Carroll of Ely, Limerick city and county £80 to the O'Briens,
Cork £40 to the McCarthys, and so low had the government fallen that
it consented to pay eighty marks yearly from the royal treasury to

During the early years of his reign Henry VIII. was so deeply
interested in his schemes for subduing France and in continental
affairs generally that he could give little attention to his dominions
in Ireland. Sometimes the Earl of Kildare was superseded by the
appointment of the Earl of Surrey (1520), and of Sir Piers Butler, the
claimant to the Earldom of Ormond (1521), and of Sir William
Skeffington (1529), but as a general rule Kildare, whether as Deputy
or as a private citizen, succeeded in dictating the policy of the
government. By his matrimonial alliances with the Irish chieftains,
the O'Neills, the MacCarthys, O'Carroll of Ely, and O'Connor of
Offaly, his bargains with many of the other Irish and Anglo-Irish
nobles, and by his well-known prowess in the field, he had succeeded
in making himself much more powerful in Ireland than the English
sovereign. But his very success had raised up against him a host of
enemies, led by his old rival the Earl of Ormond, and supported by a
large body of ecclesiastics, including Allen, the Archbishop of
Dublin, and of lay nobles. Various charges against him were forwarded
to England, and in 1534 he was summoned to London to answer for his
conduct. Before setting out on his last journey to London he appointed
his son, Lord Thomas Fitzgerald (Silken Thomas), then a youth of
twenty-one, to take charge of the government. The latter had neither
the wisdom nor the experience of his father. Rumours of his father's
execution, spread by the enemies of the Geraldines, having reached his
ears, despite the earnest entreaties of Archbishop Cromer of Armagh,
he resigned the sword of state, and called upon his retainers to
avenge the death of the Earl of Kildare (1534).

The rebellion of Silken Thomas forced Henry VIII. to undertake a
determined campaign for the conquest of Ireland. His hopes of winning
glory and territory in France had long since disappeared. He was about
to break completely with Rome, and there was some reason to fear that
Charles V. might make a descent upon the English coasts with or
without the aid of the King of France. Were an invasion from the
Continent undertaken before the conquest of Ireland had been finished
it might result in the complete separation of that kingdom from
England, and its transference to some foreign power. It was well known
that some of the Irish princes were in close correspondence with
France and Scotland, that Silken Thomas was hoping for the assistance
of the Emperor, and that once England had separated herself definitely
from the Holy See, many of the Irish and Anglo-Irish nobles might be

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