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England-Religious Persecution


land never reached the appalling extent that it did on the continent. The fiendish Philip II. of Spain whitened the lowlands of Holland with the bones of thousands of Protestants, who had died the most cruel of deaths.

Broken in health, neglected by her husband, and hated by her countrymen, Mary died November 17, 1558, after a reign of only five years.

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HE woman who now came to the throne, and whose greatness the whole world has admitted, stood for years seemingly much nearer the scaffold than the crown. She was the Princess Elizabeth, daughter of Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry VIII., whereas Mary, who had just died, was daughter of his first wife, Katharine of Aragon, so that the two queens were half-sisters. The legitimacy of Elizabeth depended on the validity of her father's divorce from Katharine, and Catholics had always denied that he was legally divorced. So Elizabeth's very existence was an insult to her sister Mary. And Elizabeth was a Protestant! Mary kept her in prison, in constant expectation of death. Sometimes that death was. very near.

It is claimed that Philip II. of Spain turned the scale, which was so delicately balanced that a hair would have moved it. Mary Stuart of Scotland was the next heir to the throne. She had married the Dauphin of France, who was Philip's greatest enemy and rival. Mary Stuart's accession would elevate France, to the dwarfing of Spain, and, though both Philip and Mary were Catholics, he preferred that England should become Protestant rather than destroy his own political dominance, and give to France the balance of power in Europe.

So Elizabeth became Queen of England in 1558, when she was twenty-five years old. She was a most extraordinary woman. Surrounded and advised as

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