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Elizabeth And Her Parliament
by [?]

Previous to the warm debates in the commons, of which the present despatch furnishes a lively picture, on Saturday, 12th October, 1566, at a meeting of the lords of the council, held in the queen’s apartment, the Duke of Norfolk, in the name of the whole nobility, addressed Elizabeth, urging her to settle the suspended points of the succession, and of her marriage, which had been promised in the last parliament. The queen was greatly angered on the occasion; she would not suffer their urgency on those points, and spoke with great animation. “Hitherto you have had no opportunity to complain of me; I have well governed the country in peace, and if a late war of little consequence has broken out, which might have occasioned my subjects to complain of me, with me it has not originated, but with yourselves, as truly I believe. Lay your hands on your hearts, and blame yourselves. In respect to the choice of the succession, not one of ye shall have it; that choice I reserve to myself alone. I will not be buried while I am living, as my sister was. Do I not well know, how during the life of my sister every one hastened to me at Hatfield; I am at present inclined to see no such travellers, nor desire on this your advice in any way.[2] In regard to my marriage, you may see enough, that I am not distant from it, and in what respects the welfare of the kingdom: go each of you, and do your own duty.”

27th October, 1566.


“By my last despatch of the 21st instant,[3] among other matters, I informed your majesty of what was said on Saturday the 19th as well in parliament, as in the chamber of the queen, respecting the circumstance of the succession to this crown; since which I have learned other particulars, which occurred a little before, and which I will not now omit to relate, before I mention what afterwards happened.

“On Wednesday, the 16th of the present month, the comptroller of the queen’s household[4] moved, in the lower house of parliament, where the deputies of towns and counties meet, to obtain a subsidy;[5] taking into consideration, among other things, that the queen had emptied the exchequer, as well in the late wars, as in the maintenance of her ships at sea, for the protection of her kingdom, and her subjects; and which expenditure has been so excessive, that it could no further be supported without the aid of her good subjects, whose duty it was to offer money to her majesty, even before she required it, in consideration that, hitherto, she had been to them a benignant and courteous mistress.

“The comptroller having finished, one of the deputies, a country gentleman, rose in reply. He said, that he saw no occasion, nor any pressing necessity, which ought to move her majesty to ask for money of her subjects. And, in regard to the wars, which it was said had exhausted her treasury, she had undertaken them for herself, as she had thought proper; not for the defence of her kingdom, nor for the advantage of her subjects; but there was one thing which seemed to him more urgent, and far more necessary to examine concerning this campaign; which was, how the money raised by the late subsidy had been spent; and that every one who had had the handling of it should produce their accounts, that it might be known if the monies had been well or ill spent.

“On this, rises one named Mr. Basche,[6] purveyor of the marine, and also a member of the said parliament; who shows that it was most necessary that the commons should vote the said subsidies to her majesty, who had not only been at vast charges, and was so daily, to maintain a great number of ships, but also in building new ones; repeating what the comptroller of the household had said, that they ought not to wait till the queen asked for supplies, but should make a voluntary offer of their services.