Page:The house of Cecil.djvu/80

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THE years which followed the discovery of the Ridolfi plot, if less critical for the nation, were years of strenuous work and anxiety for Burghley. At home he had to contend with incessant intrigues on the part of Leicester and his party, and with the dangers arising from the continued activity of the Catholics, which culminated in the Jesuit mission of Campion and Parsons. Abroad the complications following the massacre of St. Bartholomew, and the progress of the conflict between Protestantism and Catholicism in France, Holland and Germany produced a situation which would have, required all Burghley's caution and far-seeing statesmanship to grapple with, even if it had not been rendered immeasurably more difficult and dangerous by the tortuous diplomacy of Elizabeth. For eleven years the Queen kept up negotiations for marriage with the Duke of Anjou, using him as a pawn in her game, and giving endless anxiety to her ministers, who, on the all- important matters of the Queen's marriage and the succession to the throne, were kept in a per- petual state of uncertainty.

This period was marked by the increasing

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