Nonfiction > Henry Craik, ed. > English Prose > Vol. II. Sixteenth Century to the Restoration
Henry Craik, ed.  English Prose.  1916.
Vol. II. Sixteenth Century to the Restoration
The Queen Mother
By Thomas May (1594/5–1650)
From The History of the Long Parliament

IT was her misfortune (how far her crime I cannot tell) that, during her abode here, the two kingdoms of England and Scotland were embroiled in great troubles, which the people were apt to impute in some measure to her counsels, knowing what power the queen her daughter had with the king.
  Others taxed her not at all, but looked upon other causes, the same counsels, which, long before her arrival, had distempered England; but the people made their judgment upon it from her actions or successes in other places.  2
  But, however it were, the queen was fearful of the people here, and had not long before desired to have a guard allowed her, pretending fear of her life, by reason of some attempts which she conceived to have been made against her; upon which a guard was set about her house.  3
  Her regency in France had not been happy, nor according to the interest of that kingdom; though that, perchance, may be accounted a fault not so particular to her as commonly incident to the regency of queen mothers in that land: inasmuch as Thuanus commends the saying of Charles the Ninth (a prince whom otherwise he doth not praise) upon his deathbed. That, since he must die at that age (being four and twenty), he thanked God he had no son, lest France should fall under a regency, of which he had found the sad effects. His mother was Katherine de Medicis, of the same family with this queen.  4
  After the time of her regency, her actions had been such, that the king her son would not harbour her in his own kingdom, nor was she welcome into the territories of her son-in-law the king of Spain. But the people there were no less desirous of her departure than afterward in England.  5
  Insomuch as she afterward became a strange example of the instability of human fortunes, that so great a queen, and mother to so many mighty princes, should want a quiet harbour for her age.  6
  Not long after her departure from England she died at Culleine, and might seem a parallel, in some things, to the famous Empress of Rome who founded that city, and there planted a Roman colony, Agrippina, the wife of Claudius Cæsar and the mother of Nero. They both had tasted of power, been active in it, but not pleasing to the people. They were both taught that the greatness of their sons was not so much advantage to their power as they had hoped, and had learned, that all power dependent upon another is of small validity and less stability; as Tacitus observes, speaking of the same Agrippina, Nihil rerum mortalium tam instabile et fluxum est, quam fama potentiæ non sua vi nixæ. 1  7
Note 1. Nihil rerum mortalium, etc. = amongst all human things none is so unstable and fluctuating, as the reputation of influence that does not rest upon its own power. [back]

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