'Printed at London anonymous': was there ever an attempt to publish the first edition of the Defence of Mary Queen of Scots in England?
(Vladimir Nabokov, The Defence)
There seems to be confusion about where John Leslie, the Bishop of Ross and English ambassador for Mary Stuart, tried to publish his treatise, A defence of the honour of the right highe, mightye and noble princesse Marie Quote of Scotlande. 'Notwithstanding the spurious imprints on the title and colophon',(1) John Scott writes in his bibliography, the tract's 'place of printing is uncertain . . . it would appear that, unlike the second edition, it was actually printed in London. Anderson supports this opinion unreservedly . . .'(2) Indeed, the eighteenth-century bibliographer James Anderson does advance this opinion. In his editorial preface to his reprint of the Defence he writes the following:
It was . . . printed at London Anonymous, but care was taken to suppress it, having given great Offence, and particularly that it was said in The Defence of Q. Mary's Honour, That Q. Elizabeth's Commissioners and Counsellors, who were at the Conferences, thought Queen Mary innocent of the Crimes laid to her charge?
I believe that the publication of the first edition was never attempted, let alone censored,(4) in England. The book was printed abroad by Cardinal Allen's printer, John Fogny of Reimes, towards the end of 1569:(5) comparison with other works of Fogny puts this beyond doubt.(6) But the confusion as to whether Leslie also tried to print this tract locally seems to come from a letter from Lord Burghley to Sir Henry Norris written in the spring of 1570:
Of late the Bishop of Ross caused one of his Servants secretly to procure the printing of a Book in English, whereof before eight Leaves could be finished, Intellegence was had, which Book tendeth to set forth to the World, that the Queen of Scots was not guilty of her Husband's Death, A Parable in many Men's Opinion: Next that she is lawful Heir to the Crown, and with such reasons inserted as make unsound conclusions for the Queen's Majesties present State. Besides this, a notable Lie is there uttered, that all the Noblemen that heard her Cause, did judge her innocent, and therefore made suite to her Majestie that she might marry with my Lord of Norfolke.(7)
Anderson's Collections Relating to the History of Mary Queen of Scotland has been closely followed in its details by bibliographers of these books since its publication in 1727. In his first volume, he writes a preface to the reprint of Leslie's second edition, A treatise concerning the defence of the honour etc. (1571), providing a detailed history of the work's origin. Anderson apparently believed the half-humorous colophon of the first edition, and concluded that it was published in London. He therefore assumes that Burghley's letter refers to the detection of an attempt to publish the first edition.(8) Our account of events concerning the two editions needs correction. It was, rather, the second edition of the Defence, the Treatise, that John Leslie tried to publish in England. The evidence for this is in Leslie's own accounts as well as in Anderson's preface, although Anderson's assumptions prevented him from seeing the evidence rightly.
Elizabeth herself appears to have countenanced the first Defence, provided she received and approved a copy of the work before its publication.(9) Her reasons for this were twofold. First, the third part of the treatise, which states 'that the Regiment of Women is conformable to the lawe of God and Nature', answers John Knox's shrill objections to female rule in his First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstrous Regiment of Women, which was a matter that touched both the Queen of Scots and herself.(10) Second (and more importantly), Elizabeth had foiled her own schemes at the conference at Westminster by allowing the Earl of Moray to introduce hard evidence of Mary Stuart's guilt, in the form of the Casket Letters.(11)
With the flight of the Queen of Scots into England, Elizabeth inherited an enormous problem: as long as Mary Stuart was in the country, Elizabeth was threatened by the presence of the Catholic heir presumptive to the throne. England was already the focus of Catholic plots to regain Europe; while the Queen of Scots remained in England, she would breed insurrection. Yet she could not replace the Queen of Scots upon her throne, even as a titular sovereign, until her blemished reputation had been restored. The evidence against her had to be probed and tested. To this end, conferences were convened at York and Westminster.
If reinstatement of Scotland's queen was difficult while the truth was uncertain, it would he impossible if the examination went against her, and her guilt was exposed. Elizabeth's desire from the beginning of the conferences was that the Queen of Scots should not be found guilty, or should not be charged at all. She wanted no stain upon the queen's reputation that would make her reconciliation with the Scottish people impossible.(12) If she could not quickly replace Mary Smart upon her former throne, Elizabeth had few options. She could no longer detain the Scottish queen in England without publishing her infamy and disgracing her to the world. This course would directly defeat her purpose, but to keep her without charges would be dangerous.
The Catholic lords of England, however, had an alternative in mind. They resolved that the Queen of Scots should marry the Duke of Norfolk. Norfolk was a Protestant lord, but his Protestantism sat lightly upon him. He had Catholic inclinations, and was often aligned with the Catholic lords in matters of politics. The Catholic noblemen saw Mary Stuart as Elizabeth's successor, and the person in whom their interests could be maintained. Marriage to the Duke of Norfolk would secure recognition of the Queen of Scots as the second person in the realm, and silence the scandals that swirled around her.(13) For Elizabeth, Norfolk, the first peer in England, whose religion was flexible and who could easily be tempted to papistry, was the last person with whom Mary Stuart could safely be trusted.
Elizabeth's attitude towards the Queen of Scots hardened when rumours of the Norfolk match reached her. She determined that at the second conference at Westminster, the Queen of Scots could not come off in the pristine fashion that had marked the former inquiry at York. She had previously urged Moray to keep back the most serious of the charges against the Queen of Scots; in return, England would recognize the current government of Scotland, and himself as Regent. She now told him that if the queen's guilt could be established, she would not restore her to her throne, nor permit her to be restored, unless with assurances for her future behaviour that would satisfy him.(14) Thus encouraged, Moray was free to press his accusations.
After the Casket Letters were revealed, the English commissioners suspended the conference for three days and consulted with Elizabeth. She closed the inquiry. Even at this point, it was apparently not her intention that Mary Stuart be declared guilty before the world. Elizabeth's purpose was to disgrace the Queen of Scots in front of the English nobility, thereby quashing any hope of a Norfolk match.(15) Once this was achieved, she still hoped to find some compromise that would return Mary to Scotland; then her guilt could be glossed over, and she could be spared any formal condemnation for her crimes.
She did not, however, fully reckon how quickly news of the conference would spread from mouth to mouth. Anderson writes that: 'After the conferences held at York [and] Westminster, when Regent Murray and his Party accused Q: Mary of many atrocious crimes, Her Story was on every Body's Mouth at home and abroad, and upon the Surmise of her being married to the Duke of Norfolk, several Pamphlets were privately handed about, whereof some were afterwards printed reflecting upon her honour, and to defeat her Title of Succession to the Crown of England'.(16) Elizabeth now had to prevent complete infection of the Queen of Scots' reputation, or reconciliation with Scotland would be impossible. The Bishop of Ross, Mary Stuart's prime champion, provided her with what she thought were the means to remedy the situation she had created.
Given this political context, it is hard to believe that the original Defence would have been regarded as deeply offensive to the Crown. It is therefore unlikely that it is the subject of Burghley's letter to Norris. Although Leslie's Discourse cannot be regarded as a credible source, he at least seemed to have received no initial indication from the queen or her council that the work offended.(17) Further, in spite of his credibility problems, there is no reason to dismiss Leslie's claim that Elizabeth received a copy of the tract before its publication. Certainly, many 'notable lie[s]' were 'uttered' in the work; Leslie employs a soft truth in his treatise. But the care that had been taken of Mary Stuart's reputation, first by the Scottish lords, then by Elizabeth herself, allowed him to publish so enormous a lie. The 'parable[s]' of the first section of the work were crucial to Elizabeth's designs,(18) and nothing in the second or third parts could possibly have caused any insult. His first Defence treats Elizabeth with considerable respect: in the second section of the text, concerned with the question of Mary Stuart's succession, her rights to the throne are made distinctly secondary to the claims of the English queen.(19) Exactly why the first edition was not published in London (when it was deferential to Elizabeth) is unclear, but a reasonable conclusion to draw is that, as John Fogny was Cardinal Allen's printer, the costs of printing were assumed by the cardinal.
The second edition (the Treatise concerning the defence), is essentially the same as the former work in its first and third parts;(20) however, in the second section, Leslie 'reverses [his] position, and treats Queen Mary as the only true heir to the throne of England'.(21) Understandably, this edition was more offensive to the English court than its original. This, I posit, is the edition that Burghley describes. I anchor this conclusion on two particular pieces of evidence: Burghley's description of the second section of the work, and the date. By Burghley's account, the argument of succession put forward in the text in question 'make[s] unsound conclusions for the Queen's Majesties present State'. Given the degree of deference that marks the tone of the original Defence, I find it unlikely that he could have gleaned such an impression from it. Elizabeth's claim is constantly affirmed, and the Queen of Scots' claim to succession was a public fact which could not be disputed.
Even more compelling proof is when these events occurred. Burghley's letter to Norris is dated 4 May 1570. Apparently Burghley made his discovery around mid-April of that year, and took into custody a servant of the bishop's, Alexander Harvey, who was examined on 18 April. Harvey claimed to have recently brought a manuscript from the bishop to a Mr Wilkinson for printing.(22) The first edition of the Defence, as has been mentioned, was published in 1569. The second edition, as indicated on its title-page, was completed in 1570, but not published until 1571 (it was published in Louvain by John Fowler).(23) The aborted attempt to publish in England would account for the year's discrepancy. It seems less reasonable, then, to think that Leslie would have attempted to reprint his former edition than that, upon completing his revisions, he tried to publish his new work locally.
A lot was happening as the bishop was revising his copy. The northern Catholic lords, whose power had been gradually being displaced since the time of Henry VIII, and who finally felt their influence dwindling in earnest, attached their hopes to the succession of the Queen of Scots. An allied party of Protestants and Catholics formed of those nobles who regarded Mary Stuart's claim of succession as the primary one (and who were opposed to the Burghley regime), and a plan was devised among them that would both secure Mary's succession and rid them of Burghley. The nobles would lobby to advance the marriage of the Duke of Norfolk and the Queen of Scots. Once this marriage was contracted, Norfolk could use his enlarged influence to settle on the queen's successor (which, under the circumstances, would have to be Mary), and to offer himself as a replacement to Burghley as the queen's chief minister. The plan, however, required secrecy to succeed, and Elizabeth received word of it before it was ripe. She vetoed the proposal. The court campaign fell apart. Norfolk was arrested, and the north rose.
The Northern Rising was ignited when the earls of Northumberland and Westmoreland, the Percys and the Nevilles, were abandoned by their southern allies and left to fend for themselves. The northern alliance itself fractured when Norfolk sent word from the Tower that they must not rise or his head would be forfeit. The two earls then received summons from Elizabeth themselves and, fearing to comply, rose on 14 November 1569 in the name of the Queen of Scots. Their plan was to ride on to Tutbury and to carry off the Queen of Scots. Elizabeth, however, received word of the rebellion, and, on 23 November, had sent word that the queen was to be removed to a more secure residence in Coventry. Once Mary Stuart was beyond their reach, the lords had missed their chance and had lost the game in missing it. They had no heir presumptive to advance their cause, no southern noblemen to reinforce them, and they soon turned back on their own tracks. But the ideological confrontation that would chequer England's history for the next seventeen years had begun. The next move of the game was the proclamation by Pius V of the excommunication of Elizabeth (25 February 1570) in the bull Regnans in excelsis.(24) The papal bull declared Elizabeth to be cut off from the communion of the faithful. It released her subjects from their allegiance, and forbade them (on pain of incurring the same sentence) to recognize her as their sovereign.
By April 1570 Elizabeth was ready for reconciliation, and negotiations were taking place for the release of Lord Norfolk. She had also begun to relax her posture towards the Queen of Scots, and the bishop again began discussing conditions on which her restoration to the throne of Scotland might be effected. It was at this time that the publication of Leslie's treatise was detected. The publication of the work was part of a larger scheme; the timing of its discovery was unfortunate. The Catholic plots surrounding the Scottish queen had swelled in ambition; they were no longer satisfied to have her recognized as Elizabeth's successor. A plan had developed between the bishop and a group of Catholic nobles to install Mary Stuart on England's throne. Leslie was to be very agreeable in his negotiations with Elizabeth, to concede to all terms. Mary Stuart would no doubt be detained for some time after the negotiations were complete, but eventually she would be released. In the mean time, Norfolk was to adopt the same strategy. He was to promise anything: promise to put away any aspirations to the Queen of Scots, promise to do nothing to disturb the peace or the established religion of England.(25) Once released, he could do as he pleased. The pamphlet was then to have appeared, and with it, or immediately after, the papal bull of excommunication (a copy of the bull had been smuggled over to England by Ridolfi, and the Bishop of Ross was waiting for the right moment to launch it).(26)
The political events of early 1570 prompted Leslie to try to publish his second treatise in England. The pamphlet was meant to reassure any remaining doubts held about the Queen of Scots, and to establish her claim to the throne as the legitimate one. Then the Catholics of England, without a lawful ruler under the pope's proclamation, and provided one in the Queen of Scots, would be provoked into rebellion against Elizabeth. The second treatise is the only pamphlet that would have served the intended purpose; a tract such as the original Defence that refers to Elizabeth as 'our moste dreade Souereigne' and 'our Souereigne ladie the Quenes majestie' (and which asserts Mary Stuart's claim only if Elizabeth should die without an heir) would be ill suited to the objective of starting a rebellion against her. He attempted to publish in London because he had to have copies on hand for Norfolk's homecoming; had he published abroad, it would have taken far too much time to smuggle the copies into England, and he would have missed his opportunity to act.(27)
The ambition of Rome to reclaim its former position as the one Church of Europe focused upon recapturing England. Mary Smart, as England's Catholic heir presumptive was the only reasonable replacement for Elizabeth. While Leslie's prominence in the papal game would grow over time (until he was the primary motivator of plots to install Mary Smart on the throne), his principal function was to protect the prestige of his queen; as her infamy made her installation upon any throne problematic, the bishop's spurious accounts of history were crucial to the Catholic gambit.
Linacre College Oxford
1 Colophon on t[2.sup.v]: 'Imprinted at London in Flete strete at the signe of Iustice Royal, againste the Blacke bell, by Eusebius Dicaeophile, anno D.1569. and are to be solde in Paules churche yearde, at the signes of Tyme & Truthe, by the Brasen Serpet, in the shoppes of Ptolome and Nicephore Lycothenes brethren Germanes.'
2 J. Scott, A Bibliography of Works Relating to Mary Queen of Scotts, 1544-1700 (Edinburgh, 1896), ii. 21.
3 J. Anderson, Collections Relating to the History of Mary Queen of Scotland (Edinburgh, 1727), vol. i, preface to A treatise concerning the defence, p. iv.
4 The scarcity of copies indicates some suppression, but this is uncertain; and, I submit that, even if this occurred, it could have taken place after the second edition of the work gave greater offence to the court. Leslie attributes the suppression to 'some factious persons, enemies to said title [of the Queen of Scots]' (Anderson, Collections, vol. i, preface to A treatise concerning the defence, p. vii); Leslie, however, tends not only to rewrite history, but also to collapse it; consequently, it is often impossible to be sure which edition he is referring to. He does seem to focus, however, upon events that occurred after his second edition was seized at Dover from Charles Bailey.
5 Supported by A. F. Allison and D. M. Rogers, The Contemporary Printed Literature of the English Counter-Reformation between 1558 and 1640, ii: Works in English (London, 1994), 98; A. C. Southern, Elizabethan Recusant Prose 1559-1582 (London, 1950), 311; and the STC.
6 Southern, Elizabethan Recusant Prose, 1559-1582, 440. Besides the particulars of Fogny's printing techniques, the spelling of certain words and the accent on final vowels (as in difficulte), suggest a French origin.
7 Anderson, Collections, vol. i, preface to A treatise concerning the defence, p. v.
8 He also assumed that the tract offended the court (as he mistook Burghley's letter), which is not certain.
9 Anderson writes the following in his preface: 'The Bishop . . . complained of . . . Allegations against his Mistress's rifle in the Crown of England, asking leave of Q. Elizabeth to have answers made thereto, which Queen Elizabeth was content with, providing the same should not be published in print until the first Copy should be presented unto her' (Collections, vol. i, preface to A treatise concerning the defence, p. iii). Anderson's support for this is from John Leslie's A Discourse, conteyning A perfect Accompt given to the most vertuous and excellent Princesse, Marie Queene of Scots, And her Nobility, by John Lesley Bishop of Rosse, Ambassador for Her Highnes toward the Queen of England: Of his whole Charge and Proceedings during the Time of his Ambassage, from his Entres in England in September 1568 to the 26th of March 1572, repr. in Anderson, Collections, iii. 66.
10 The Discourse touching the pretended Match betweene the Duke of Norfolk and the Quene of Scottis, attributed to 'Sampson', a preacher, is reprinted in Anderson, Collections, vol. i. In it, 'Sampson' argues vehemently against the governance of women (cf. n. 16).
11 There is a dispute as to whether the Earl of Moray wanted to produce the letters early in the proceedings and was restrained by Elizabeth, or whether he himself was loath to produce them and was persuaded to do so. It was only at the end of the Westminster conference, in mid-December, that he actually showed the letters, even though he had accused the Queen of Scots of murder as early as the second day, 26 November. It is clear that confederate lords of Scotland had no desire to proclaim their queen's disgrace to the world, and thus referred to the letters in documents, but did not publish them. Moray's interests, however, were different from those of the lords, and his position as Regent of Scotland became more secure with his queen's utter disgrace. He may therefore have been more eager for their disclosure. As Elizabeth was anxious that the Queen of Scots be found innocent, at least of the worst charges against her (so that she might be restored to her throne), it seems more likely that she (at first) encouraged Moray to hold back his evidence. The conflicting arguments are summarized nicely in J. A. Froude, History of England: From the Fall of Wolsey to the Defeat of the Spanish Armada (London, 1893), viii. 390-1 and 447-53, and J. Wormald, Mary Queen of Scots: A Study in Failure (London, 1991), 174-8.
12 Froude, History of England, viii. 390-1.
13 The Duke of Norfolk was related to the Queen of England on the mother's side. Of the proposed marriage, Leslie writes that 'certein' factions in England 'whoe pretended title to the succession of the Crowne of England' were greatly stirred by the prospect, 'and to defraud the Q. my Mistris therof, againste the order of nature, shee beinge come of the eldest sister [of Henry VIII], and againste all lawes, civill, municiple, and the commoun lawes of England; for they thought (as it truely appereth) that by this marryage the Q: my Mistris partie should be stronger in England and most able to attaine the succession of the Crowne . . . ' (Leslie, Discourse, in Anderson, Collections, iii. 64).
14 Froude, History of England, viii. 449-50.
15 In addition to the three previous commissioners (Norfolk, Sussex, and Sadler), Bacon, Arundel, Leicester, Clinton, and Cecil were appointed to the inquiry at Westminster. Many other English noblemen received summons to appear after the conference had got under way. Unlike the conference at York, Westminster was a very public forum, and perfect for Elizabeth's designs.
16 Anderson, Collections, vol. i, preface to A treatise concerning the defence, p. ii. The bishop complained to Queen Elizabeth about three works in particular: 'one in 1560, by John Hales Clerk of the Hanaper or Hamper, commonly called Club-foot, assisted as it was said by Chancellor Bacon, and imprisoned for publishing of it. But whether ever in print till lately in 1713, in the Appendix to the Book intitled, The Hereditary Right of the Crown of England asserted, I can't be positive... also a small Book very scarce, printed in 1565, immediately after her marriage with Darnley: entitled Allegations against the surmised Title of Mary Queen of Scotts, and Favourers of the same. Wherein are also exceptions against the Title of Darnley's Mother... and particularly of an Invective by one Samson a Preacher, the supposed Author of the Discourse touching the pretended Match betweene the Duke of Norfolke and the Quene of Scottis' (Anderson, Collections, vol. i, preface to A treatise concerning the defence, p. iii).
17 Leslie writes the following in his Discourse: 'This treaty was afterward printed and came to the Q. and Councells hands; although I had presented a perfect copie therof longe before to the Q: at which time the Councell said unto me it was very learnedly collected and sett forth . . . ' (printed in Anderson, Collections, iii. 68).
18 The notable exception is the mention of the Norfolk marriage. However, one possibility is that Leslie added the passage later. Another possibility is that, having forced the English peers to face the truth about the Queen of Scots (with the revelation of the Casket Letters), Elizabeth might have assumed that they would be forced to withdraw their countenance from her. The purpose of the Defence was to remedy Mary Stuart's injured public image. Leslie's assertion that the commissioners thought Mary so innocent that they prevailed upon her to accept 'the most noblest man of all Englande' (Norfolk is not mentioned by name) might have been allowed because her innocence had to be publicly established.
19 In the first edition of the Defence Mary Stuart's claim to the throne is advanced only in the ease that Queen Elizabeth should die without issue. The deferential tone that marks the first edition is exemplified in the following passage: 'our moste dreade Souereigne Elizabeth dothe . . . sitt in the royall seate with suche peace, quietnes, and tranquilitie amonge all her subjects hitherto, that we haue greate cawse to render to God almighty our moste hartie thancks for the same: And to craue of him like continuance, wherof the singuler fruite & benefitt, as longe as it shall please God to preserue her to us: Whiche we moste humble suppliantes desier of him for manie yeares, with some happie issewe from her grace (yfit be his blessed will) we hope most fortunatelie to enjoye' (A defence of the honour of the right highe, mightye and noble princesse Marie Quene of Scotlande (London, STC 15506), G4v).
20 These are very nearly word-for-word reproductions; the spelling of the second edition has been Anglicized.
21 Scott, Bibliography, ii. 23-4.
22 Harvey also claimed under examination that: 'He received the Book from his Master the Bishop about Easter then last, and that it was made about twelve Months before by the Lord Hereys and Lord Boyd, and the Bishop of Ross, as his Master the Bishop told him, and had lain ever since by the Bishop to be amended as Occasion should require' (Anderson, Collections, vol. i, preface to A treatise concerning the defence, p. iv). We know from this that the bishop had been revising his original Defence since March/April 1569.
23 Anderson writes the following in his preface: 'In 1571. This Book [A defence of the honour] was reprinted at Liege under the Name of Morgan Phillipes Batchelor of Divinity, as a new Work compiled in 1570, tho' the first Edition bears to have been printed in 1569, with a Preface much more full as to the Defence of her Honour and Tide, and some Differences in the Body of the Book, of which afterward, and in that part of it which relates to her Succession to England, he is said to have been assisted with the Advice of Sir Anthony Brown, one of the Justices of the Common Pleas, Anno 1567' (Anderson, Collections, vol. i, preface to A treatise concerning the defence, p. vi).
24 Both the earls of Northumberland and Westmoreland had written to Pius V to speak out in their favour. So long as Elizabeth was their sovereign, the two earls were traitors - a brand that any English nobleman of the time would find hard to bear.
25 The Spanish ambassador, Don Guerau, wrote the following to the Duke of Alva in May 1570, confirming Norfolk's intention to promise to Cecil and the Council whatever they wanted when they visited him in the Tower: 'Los deste consejo blandian mas con el Duque de Norfolk, y me hah avisado que manana ban de venir Cecil y otro del Consejo a hablarles en la Torre, y ver que seguridad podra dar a la Reyna de su fidelidad de no casarse con la Reyna de Escocia, y de no ayudar a rimover esta religion que aca tienen. El esta avertido de ofrecerles mucho . . . ' (quoted in Froude, History of England, ix. 279).
27 From this point the bishop would be at the centre of many such intrigues. On 10 April 1571 Charles Bailey was intercepted at Dover. Bailey had been retained by the bishop as a courier between the refugees in France (English nobles connected to the botched Northern Rising) and their friends. He had with him letters from Sir Francis Englefield, Lady Northumberland, and the Earl of Westmoreland, and a number of copies of the bishop's A treatise concerning the defence. He also carried letters from Roberto Ridolfi to the bishop, the Duke of Norfolk, and Lord Lumley. The detention of Bailey was the first detection of the Ridolfi conspiracy, which unravelled thread by thread over the next six months.
Bailey was committed to the Marshalsea and racked; he revealed little, but it was sufficient information for Burghley to know that a game was afoot, and that he needed to investigate. John Leslie was subsequently committed to the Tower on 24 October 1571 for his involvement in the Ridolfi conspiracy.
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|Title Annotation:||English Ambassador John Leslie's treatise 'A defence of the honour of the right highe, mightye and noble princesse Marie Quene of Scotlande'|
|Publication:||The Review of English Studies|
|Date:||Aug 1, 1998|
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