The Doubt of Future Foes

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"The Doubt of Future Foes" is a poem written by Elizabeth I of England sometime between 1568 and 1571. It concerns her relationship with her cousin and enemy, Mary, Queen of Scots.

Elizabeth I rose to the throne of England in 1558 after the relatively rapid succession of three previous monarchs. There were many plots for her death or removal from the English throne, as is apt to occur in any monarchy. This poem was written in direct response to a certain conspirator, however. Mary Queen of Scots was living in England under custody of Elizabeth I since her forced abdication of the Scottish throne in 1567. After a Catholic uprising in Scotland with the aim to place Mary on the English throne, a papal bull, Regnans in Excelsis, was published in 1570 releasing all Catholics from allegiance to Elizabeth and threatening excommunication to any that continued in allegiance to Elizabeth. This gave way to a wave of anti-Elizabethan feelings among the Catholics. Mary became the focal point for many plots, even if she was unaware of them. She was complicit, however, in at least one, known as the Babington Plot. Several Catholic persons, including Sir Anthony Babington of Derbyshire, were plotting to place Mary on the throne, and a series of letters between Mary and the conspirators showed that she knew of the plot.[1] The plot was discovered, and Mary, among others, was imprisoned. In 1587, she was executed for her part in the Babington Plot.

The poem[edit]

"The Doubt of Future Foes"

The doubt of future foes exiles my present joy,
And wit me warns to shun such snares as threaten mine annoy;
For falsehood now doth flow, and subjects' faith doth ebb,
Which should not be if reason ruled or wisdom weaved the web.
But clouds of joys untried do cloak aspiring minds,
Which turn to rain of late repent by changèd course of winds.
The top of hope supposed, the root of rue shall be,
And fruitless all their grafted guile, as shortly ye shall see.
The dazzled eyes with pride, which great ambition blinds,
Shall be unsealed by worthy wights whose foresight falsehood finds.
The daughter of debate that discord aye doth sow
Shall reap no gain where former rule still peace hath taught to know.
No foreign banished wight shall anchor in this port;
Our realm brooks not seditious sects, let them elsewhere resort.
My rusty sword through rest shall first his edge employ
To poll their tops that seek such change or gape for future joy.


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