Page:15 decisive battles of the world (New York).djvu/252

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246 DEFEAT OF


1587), by which the pope bound himself to contribute a million, of scudi to the expenses of the war; the money to be paid as soon as the king had actual possession of an English port. Philip, on his part, strained the resources of his vast empire to the utmost. The French Catholic chief eagerly co-operated with him. In the sea-ports of the Mediterranean, and along almost the whole coast from Gibraltar to Jutland, the preparations for the great armament were urged forward with all the earnestness of religious zeal as well as of angry ambition. "Thus," says the German historian of the popes,* thus did the united powers of Italy and Spain, from which such mighty influences had gone forth over the whole world, now rouse themselves for an attack upon England! The king had already compiled, from the archives of Simancas, a statement of the claims which he had to the throne of that country on the extinction of the Stuart line; the most brilliant prospects, especially that of a universal dominion of the seas, were associated in his mind with this enterprise. Every thing seemed to conspire to such an end; the predominancy of Catholicism in Germany, the renewed attack upon the Huguenots in France, the attempt upon Geneva, and the enterprise against England. At the same moment, a thoroughly Catholic prince, Sigismund III., ascended the throne of Poland, with the prospect also of future succession to the throne of Sweden. But whenever any principle or power, be it what it may, aims at unlimited supremacy in Europe, some vigorous resistance to it, having its origin in the deepest springs of human nature, invariably arises. Philip II. had to encounter newly, awakened powers, braced by the vigor of youth, and elevated by a sense of their future destiny. The intrepid corsairs, who had rendered every sea insecure, now clustered round the coasts of their native island. The Protestants in a body—even the Puritans, although they had been subjected to as severe oppressions as the Catholics—rallied round their queen, who now gave admirable proof of her masculine courage, and her princely talent of winning the affections, and leading the minds, and preserving the allegiance of men."

Ranke should have added that the English Catholics at this crisis proved themselves as loyal to their queen and true to their country as were the most vehement anti-Catholic zealots in the

  • Ranke, vol. ii., p. 172.