A view from abroad
Continental powers and the succession
in Doubtful and dangerous
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Unfettered by official prohibition against any discussion of the succession, Catholic exiles examined and debated the credentials of various candidates. Factions formed around the two leading contenders: the Spanish princess Isabella and the Scottish king James. The former, a Catholic, received support from the English Jesuit Robert Persons. The Scottish Jesuit William Crichton, among others, advocated James who promised conversion. Spain and France, although at peace since 1598, eyed suspiciously any claimant that would bring advantage to the other. Attempts to identify a neutral candidate, e.g. Arbella Stuart or Anne Stanley, failed. Kings Philip III and Henry IV reluctantly and somewhat disingenuously conceded choice of the Catholic candidate to Pope Clement VIII. But the political dithering persisted, and Catholic Europe was left unprepared at Elizabeth’s death.

Doubtful and dangerous

The question of succession in late Elizabethan England

Editors: Susan Doran and Paulina Kewes

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