Cecil Papers: February 1598

Pages 50-54

Calendar of the Cecil Papers in Hatfield House: Volume 14, Addenda. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1923.

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February 1598

Marriage of the Infanta of Spain. (fn. 1)
[1597–8, Feb. 27.] Two Letters:—
1. The Council of State of Hainault to the Archduke Albert. The Estates of Hainault having heard the proposition made to them by the Duke of Arschot, Governor, Captain-General and Grand Bailly of the said country, on 15 December last in virtue of letters from his Majesty, the Prince his son and your Serene Highness, were at first much astonished at the substance of it. But considering the prudence such long experience must have gained his Majesty, they were compelled in the end to believe that the whole thing proceeded only from his Majesty's great affection and goodness and that he, having tried every means to bring the country back to its ancient state and splendour, has finally decided to make use of his own daughter in order to set the matter at rest, giving her to your highness with the Low Countries and Burgundy in dower.
If the Estates of the said country have been marvellously rejoiced and contented by this benign and gracious resolution, your highness may consider that they are so much the more so because nothing can be more desirable or profitable to a state than to have its master and natural prince at hand, as he by being able to cast the light of his presence over every canton of his dominions, cannot fail to illuminate them and drive away all the darkness of wars and dissensions.
There can be no doubt then that the Estates believe firmly that your highness can have nothing more at heart than to re-establish these countries in peace. The inconveniences brought by the wars and how they have rent these miserable provinces and the evil that still can come from them are clear enough, as also on the other hand is the good that can spring from their pacification.
Your highness's reliance on having the aid and advice of these Estates is clear proof that you intend to take the right road in the conduct of affairs, in keeping to which your predecessors have never been deceived, for advice is never more assured than when it comes from those who would be most concerned by the public calamity. Those who have nothing play cheaply with the property of others.
Moreover to find this peace which is so much desired and is even more necessary to your highness because it is the principal, nay the sole, foundation for the happiness of your future marriage, you should, under humble correction, try every means to fathom the intentions of the King of France, the Queen of England and the Dutch, so as once and for all to put an end to this long unhappy war. To this end nothing is more necessary than that your highness should use all pressure with his Majesty to get a notable provision of money, so as to astonish the enemy and preserve order among your people. Peace moreover is never made with more honour and advantage than when a people is well armed, and for so great a good it would be a small matter for his Majesty to spend in four months the provision of a year, seeing that he has spared nothing to carry on the war so many years.
There is moreover for the better assurance of your highness the fact that in the time of the late Archduke Ernest there was a grand convocation of great personages, to wit the archbishops, bishops, chancellors of the Order, the members of the Council of State, governors of provinces, principal lords and others, who discussed all the points which can serve as remedies in the present case. To these remedies your highness will be able to have recourse so as to put them into prompt execution, for things cannot suffer longer delay.
It will also be very opportune in order to restore confidence on both sides to cause the States General of the obedient provinces to be convoked in like manner as soon as possible. They will certainly do their best to get out once and for all of this perplexing labyrinth. So have the natural princes of this country done heretofore and always found good in it.
Further as it may happen that the Dutch, too much engrossed with their good fortune and prosperity, will become restive (se rendroyent retifz) and more than reasonably difficult, your highness will do well to renew the ancient alliances with the Electors, both neighbouring and others, and principally with the Catholic ones, so as to check the Dutch with common hand, should they presume to attempt to do harm to the Catholic, Apostolic and Roman religion.
Your Estates therefore avail themselves of all that is said in congratulation for these blessings which God is preparing for your highness in the firm hope that you will deal with them so that they shall have occasion to forget the miseries of the past. They have to beg you very humbly to take their present advice in good part with the regard which their fidelity requires, so that soon everything may be put into execution and the said Princess arrive in this country with better assurance and content. For in her presence we shall not think to have changed our prince, so much as we shall count on having two who will always be as one, united by friendship and will, according as our hopes centre in the brother and the sister and your highness, whose very humble and obedient servants we ever are.
(2.) The Council of State of Lille, Douay and Orchiers to the Archduke Albert.
The said Estates having seen the letters of his Majesty and of his son the Prince of 10 September last and your highness's of credence to the Baron de Billi, who has informed them of the resolution of his Majesty to marry the Infanta, his eldest daughter, to your highness and to give her in dower the Low Countries and the county of Burgundy without disturbing things as they are, being assured that the said Estates will rejoice at this resolution as it will tend to their own good and be the way to arrive at a good and solid peace and once and for all to end this miserable war;
Are advised to thank his Majesty in all humility for this benign resolution, of the importance of which they have great admiration.
They find themselves further obliged to his Majesty, who not content with the continual care and labour he has been at for forty years and with the excessive expenditure he has made to keep them in the service of God and himself, has been so wisely advised to provide them with resident princes, not foreigners but children of his Majesty endowed with rare heroism and many signal virtues and prudence.
The said Estates must congratulate your highness on this holy and happy alliance with the first lady in the whole world, being assured that this deed proceeds from the hand of God, who has chosen you to re-establish and bring peace to this poor country, which, when it has once recovered its ancient state, will suffice to maintain its prince in the splendour of his illustrious predecessors of Burgundy and Austria.
The said Estates regret one thing only, namely that their future princes will not find the country in such condition as his Majesty left it in on his departure. They will find it more in the power of the rebels, of France and England, open enemies. The country of his Majesty's obedience is reduced to the greatest poverty, not only on account of these long and grievous wars but also from the pillaging committed for many years past by soldiers, and the continual passage and repassage of the gendarmerie. Your highness will pardon them if in the midst of great dangers they say freely that they fear the increase of this misery and poverty and the apparent fall of the country into total ruin and dissolution, unless good and speedy remedy be provided, which in their opinion will be a good peace and the most fitting, nay necessary, means to re-establish the said poor country. If they can obtain this by the favour of God and of your highness they will be the better able to serve their future princes, to whom they will not be wanting in all the obedience which can be desired of good and loyal vassals and subjects, being assured that they will be maintained in the rights, privileges and agreements granted and promised to them by his Majesty.
Undated. French. Contemporary copies both on one sheet.
Endorsed:—Advices 27 February from Mr. Gilpin.
3 pp. (186. 53.)
Lord Sheffield to Sir Robert Cecil.
[1597–8?,] Feb. I am sorry so woeful an accident as this which of late is happened, should call me up, but give God great thanks for his mighty deliverance of the Queen, the State and yourself. I grieve that my absence did bereave me of an occasion to have showed my loyalty to the Queen and my love to yourself, whom I am sure, the traitor mostly levelled at. I am willing as my duty bids me to fulfil the commandment laid upon me by her Majesty's appointment, (fn. 2) but am in fear of my ability, for the very day before I received your letters I was so bruised with the fall of a horse that I lay a long time for dead. I beseech you, therefore, if I come not at the time appointed, excuse me to the Queen.
Holograph. Seal. 1 p.
Endorsed:—"February"; and in pencil, "1598."
(60. 11.)
R. Champernown to the Lords of the Privy Council.
[1598?, Feb.] State of the forces of Devon. Particulars of the former companies of horse under Mr. Thomas Predeaux of Nutwell, Mr. Lewes Pollarde, and Mr. Arthur Tremayne. Unless their Lordships order that the tinners be trained with the others as heretofore, it will greatly diminish the numbers and cause great repining among the rest, seeing that the tinners are in two of the three divisions in Devon for two parts the most and best able men. Disobedience of the tinners to his warrants for their appearance, and also to the Lord Lieutenant's orders. Prays either to be discharged of the place; or to have warrant to bind up the obstinate and contemptuous before their Lord ships: or that their Lordships would limit their punishments, to be inflicted by him. Has advanced the service already some 70 petternells in the South Division, and 30 light horse. Some of those heretofore offending and presented are: Mr. Christopher Hillarsdon of Membland, esq., Mr. Christopher Saverye of Totness, esq., Mr. William Strode of Holberton, esq., Mr. Bubb of Totness, William Shepperd of Kingston, Richard Roope of East Allington, and Hugh Reech of Modburye. He has raised among the clergy 60 horse more than before, whereof Mr. Dean Sutlyf of Exon is made captain.—Undated.
Endorsed:—(apparently by Essex). The estate of the county of Devon for horses to be employed in her Majesty's service.
Signed. 1½ pp. (204. 134.)
[See Acts of the Privy Council, N.S., Vol. XXVIII., p. 329.]


  • 1. See the two letters on pp. 501–503 of Part VII.
  • 2. Probably referring to his appointment to be Governor of the Brill in Holland.