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John Knox And The Reformation by Andrew Lang


In the writer's opinion several of Knox's accusations of perfidy against the Regent, in 1559, are not proved, and the attempts to prove them are of a nature which need not be qualified. But it is necessary to state the following facts as tending to show that the Regent was capable of procuring a forgery against the Duke of Chatelherault. A letter attributed to him exists in the French Archives, {280a} dated Glasgow, January 25, 1560, in which the Duke curries favour with Francis II., and encloses his blank bond, un blanc scelle, offering to send his children to France. {280b} On January 28, the Regent writes from Scotland to de Noailles, then the French Ambassador to England, bidding him to mention this submission to Elizabeth, and even show the Duke's letter and blank bond, that Elizabeth may see how little he is to be trusted. Now how could the Regent, on January 28, have a letter sent by the Duke to France on January 25? She must have intercepted it in Scotland. {280c} Next, on March 15, 1560, the Duke, writing to Norfolk, denies the letter attributed to him by the French. {280d} He said that any one of a hundred Hamiltons would fight M. de Seurre (the French Ambassador who, in February, succeeded de Noailles) on this quarrel. {280e}

There exists a document, in the cipher of Throckmorton, English Ambassador in France, purporting to be a copy of a letter from the Regent to the Duc and Cardinal de Guise, dated Edinburgh, March 27, 1560. {280f} The Regent, at that date, was in Leith, not in Edinburgh Castle, where she went on April 1. In that letter she is made to say that de Seurre has |very evil misunderstood| the affair of the letter attributed to Chatelherault. She had procured |blanks| of his |by one of her servants here| (at Leith) |to the late Bishop of Ross|; the Duke's alleged letter and submission of January 25 had been |filled up| on a |blank,| the Duke knowing nothing of the matter.

This letter of the Regent, then, must also, if authentic, have been somehow intercepted or procured by Throckmorton, in France. It is certain that Throckmorton sometimes, by bribery, did obtain copies of secret French papers, but I have not found him reporting to Cecil or Queen Elizabeth this letter of the Regent's. The reader must estimate for himself the value of that document. I have stated the case as fairly as I can, and though the evidence against the Regent, as it stands, would scarcely satisfy a jury, I believe that, corrupted by the evil example of the Congregation, the Regent, in January 1560, did procure a forgery intended to bring suspicion on Chatelherault. But how could she be surprised that de Seurre did not understand the real state of the case? The Regent may have explained the true nature of the affair to de Noailles, but it may have been unknown to de Seurre, who succeeded that ambassador. Yet, how could she ask any ambassador to produce a confessed forgery as genuine?

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