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Friedrich Schiller: Maria Stuart

Notes to the Historical Background


  William Cecil, 1571
If the Queen's Majesty [Elizabeth] shall put her [Mary] to liberty, whereby she must needs come to government, she shall then, by implication, discharge her of her heinous crime, whereof she was accused before her Majesty and to the which she never did make any plain answer for her acquittal. For after she be restored to government, the Queen's Majesty shall never have opportunity to denounce her former faults and crimes. [...]
If it were found necessary to deliver Mary, it may be that the protracting of some terms in the treaty, which may be allowable in a matter of so great moment, specially in treating upon the [matter] of assurances, may percase otherwise do good. For haste herein may hinder other things in hand. And if the Queen of Scots shall either not be willing, or shall pretend disability to satisfy the Queen's Majesty in her reasonable demands, her Majesty may then, both in honour and reason, answer the French King and all others that the default of delivery of the Queen of Scotts groweth not of lack of good will in her Majesty but for lack of assurance from the Queen of Scots.
(William Cecil, 1571,  zit. n. Court Theatre Chicago, 16.07.02))

Lord Burghley and Queen Elizabeth
At the time of Elizabeth's accession, Mary Stuart was the wife of the French Dauphin and was presently to become Queen of France. This fact strengthened Mary's position both in France and in Scotland. On the other hand it made Philip II of Spain (Elizabeth's brother-in-law) reluctant to take sides against Elizabeth. On the whole he preferred a heretic queen in England to a Roman Catholic one who might well unite France, Scotland and England under one banner and cut right across his line of communications with the Low Countries. Elizabeth's position was considerably strengthened when Mary's French husband died and she went to her Scottish kingdom. Her mother-in-law, Catherine de Medicis, who took over French affairs, was on the whole anti-Marian in her attitude. The consequence was that Mary could no longer count upon French support, though Mary's uncles, leaders of the House of Guise, remained important factors in French affairs and brought constant pressure upon the French Crown to espouse Mary's cause. [...]
. . in England there was considerable discontent, both on the left which wanted to go further in the direction of Protestantism and on the right which wanted to go back, with Cecil leaning towards the left and his mistress towards the right. There was factional discontent—the old nobility against the 'new men'—following more or less the lines of religious cleavage and accentuated by the personal rivalry between Cecil the administrator and Leicester the favorite, with the Queen pulled one way by her emotions and the other way by her reason, prompted always by her father example, to divide and rule. The end of the 1570s was marked by an effort on Leicester's part to get rid of Cecil, which failed, and an effort by the northern Earls to overthrow what they were pleased to regard as the Cecilian régime, which also failed. None of the problems with which Cecil had to wrestle were solved after ten years. But they were at least defined. The time of probation was ended. Elizabeth had not only established firmly her right to rule but had proved her competence to rule. Cecil, beyond peradventure, was recognized as her first minister. She and he in partnership were the constant factors in the English government for thirty years to come. Others came and went, but the Queen remained always the dominant figure, and always at her right hand her devoted servant.
(Conyers Read, Lord Burghley and Queen Elizabeth,  zit. n. Court Theatre Chicago, 16.07.02) )

Robert Dudley an Elizabeth as young adults
Robert Dudley and Elizabeth met as young adults under Catherine Parr's reunification of Henry's household. Dudley was the fifth son of an Earl, and therefore not destined to be the head of the family. But his other brothers all died young. Dudley was present when Elizabeth and Edward learned of Henry's death.
(in: Celise Kalke, zit. n. Court Theatre Chicago, 16.07.02)

The charactere of Robert Dudley (Lord Leicester)
It is true that, at 25, Dudley was a magnificent figure of a man. Tall, by the standard of the age (a little under six feet), and slender, he wore fashionable clothes with a casual grace, his cap invariably tilted at a jaunty angle. When astride a horse his athleticism and pride were seen to their full advantage, for few Englishmen rode better than he. The stylized early portraits of him which have survived reveal a thin face accentuated by a wispy beard. The nose is log; the set of the mouth haughty. The eyes beneath their arching brows are watchful but there is about them a suggestion of sardonic humour. It was the eyes that captivated Elizabeth and she soon gave him the playful nickname 'Two-eyes'. Often he would write to her, signing himself simply ôô. Others about the court, less enamoured of his dark good looks, called Dudley 'the Gypsy'. He was full of life and had an outrageous sense of fun. The many anecdotes and also the vivid language of his letters testify to this. This was one of the qualities that must have attracted Elizabeth. Surrounded as she was by solemn councilors pressing her for decision on matters of state, she needed someone constantly at hand to divert her and provide light relief. Lord Robert was a master both of organized and spontaneous entertainment. Over the years he would be responsible of arranging hundreds of tourneys, banquets, masques and plays. He could also delight Elizabeth with a piece of unrehearsed coquetry, such as solemnly suggesting to a Spanish bishop that he marry the Queen and her favorite on the royale barge in the middle of the Thames.
(in: Derek Wilson, Sweet Robin,  zit. n. Court Theatre Chicago, 16.07.02))

Relationship between Elizabeth and Robert Dudley (Leicester)
How had the relationship between Elizabeth and her ôô developed to the point where she could seriously contemplate his virtually permanent exile (by marrying Mary Queen of Scots)? Elizabeth was in love with Robert in 1559 and prepared to dream about marriage with him as long as Amy's existence made it impossible for her to commit herself. During the tense months following lady Dudley's sudden death the possibility of matrimony became distinctly more real. . . . Love pulled [Elizabeth] one way, duty another. She and Robert explored every stratagem that might enable them to wed with the support of at least some of her people. At this juncture Robert became importunate. In the early days of their relationship it was the Queen who made the running. Now Robert took the initiative. Having had such a glittering prize set before him he was reluctant to relinquish it without a struggle. Elizabeth, however, was descending from the summit of passion. Reason was asserting itself. She began to realize that England's well-being, her own safety, and probably Robert's, would be more secure if she remained unmarried. There were individuals and groups who would never accept a Dudley on the throne. Rebellion and assassination would become real possibilities if she set Robert beside her. She remained as devoted to him as ever. She gave ample proof of this by her lavish gifts and by widening the scope of his political activity. But Robert wanted more. He pressed the Queen for a decision on the marriage issue. She wanted to oblige him but knew that she could not. The 'solution' of offering Robert to the Scottish queen must have come as an inspiration. It would be hard for her to be parted from him but Robert would have a crown; he would remain faithful to Elizabeth and would use his position for her advantage.
(in:Derek Wilson, Sweet Robin,  zit. n. Court Theatre Chicago, 16.07.02))

Robert Dudley, Letter to a Lady
[Elizabeth's favour] . . .forceth me. . .to be [the] cause almost of the ruin of my own house. For there is no likelihood that any of our bodies of men kind [are] like to have heirs. My brother you see long married and not like[ly] to have children. It resteth so now in myself, and yet, . . .if I should marry I am sure never to have favour of them that I had rather yet never have wife than lose. . . yet is there nothing in the world next that favour that I would not give to be in hope of leaving some children behind me, being now the last of our house. But yet, the cause being as it is, I must content myself. . . ( zit. n. Court Theatre Chicago, 16.07.02)

Mary Stuart - the focus of all Catholic hopes
In England there were hundreds of seminary priests working by the mid-1570s. Trained in France and Rome, they were smuggled into England and established themselves in manor houses up and down the country saying masses, stiffening the resistance of the Catholic gentry and spreading their faith. In 1580 they were joined by the Jesuit mission, led by Edmund Campion and Robert Parsons. At the same time small bands of Catholic adventurers were making their way to Ireland to foment troubles with the blessing of Pope Gregory XIII. The focus of all Catholic hopes was, of course, still the Queen of Scots.
(Derek Wilson, Sweet Robin,  zit. n. Court Theatre Chicago, 16.07.02))

 

 
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