Cecil Papers: Introduction

Pages v-xviii

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

This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. All rights reserved.



The present volume of the Calendar of Cecil Papers is the last for the reign of Elizabeth. It covers the years 1596 to 1603, and contains also a very large number of papers that could not be dated beyond the apparent fact that they belonged to the reign of Elizabeth. In the process of calendaring the previous volumes a great number of papers had to be carried forward which could not be assigned to any particular date, in the hope that later documents might in many cases supply sufficient evidence to give them an approximate date, by internal evidence or reference to contemporary events later brought to light. In very many cases, however, this hope has not been realised, and the end of the reign of Elizabeth seemed an appropriate period at which to collect and publish all such undated papers. With the next reign a new and entirely different era begins; and the change in the social and political atmosphere is so great as to leave no doubt in deciding that many papers must belong to the reign of the last of the Tudors, and not the first of the Stuarts.

In some cases it will be noted that many letters and documents in this volume have become detached from correspondence in previous volumes on the same subjects, which have afforded a clue to some of the undated papers and added considerably to our information on those subjects.

Towards the end of the volume will be found many newsletters from Scotland, and various European countries; these latter are interesting, but the news they contain must be checked by reference to official papers from other sources before being accepted as correct.

Elizabeth. As usual the history of Elizabeth herself is bound up with that of England; none of our English sovereigns ever identified themselves more completely with the country they ruled; and if her sister died with the word "Calais" engraved on her heart, no less likely was it that on Elizabeth's heart would have been found the name of England. In her prayers she and her people are one; the divine goodness to her people, her soldiers and sailors, is the cause of her thanksgiving as much as that to herself (pp. 296, 326). In many respects these papers give proof of the confidence her people had in her justice and her interest in their welfare. One William Denys who had quarrelled with his wife, which led to suits in the Star Chamber, finding no justice to be had in spite of sentence in his favour, appeals again to the Queen to intervene, in the hope of getting a reconciliation (p.109). Her justice is accentuated by Sir Robert Cecil, who speaks of the Queen to Chief Justice Popham as "always slow to condemn without good proofs "any man whosoever" (p. 178). Other well-known qualities of the Queen also appear, her love of fine clothes (p. 47), and her parsimony. As to the latter, it is said by Sir William Cecil "it is contrary to her mind to give when she is offended" with a suitor (p. 176), and the same authority remarks in 1602, "her mind is not so apt to give as before her wars" (p. 232). This and the following sentences point to the Queen's well known aversion to levying subsidies or taxing her people in any form; and so "when the Lord Treasurer had given his advice upon her gifts" in former times, the "gift was half won, but now all gifts pass censure."

A little known side of the Queen's character—the artistic and religious—is indicated by the portion of a long poem in French (p. 323), partly religious and partly metaphysical, and by the prayers above referred to.

In spite of the constant efforts of the Catholics to compass the Queen's death (pp. 258, 290) no serious effort against her life is noted in these papers; she was too firmly ensconced in the affections of her people. It is noteworthy that so little reference is made to her approaching death, and that the end of her reign was not attended by any serious disturbance. The attitude of Elizabeth towards James is clearly defined by Cecil when writing to the Master of Gray, then in disgrace with James—

"though she take no pleasure in his rising, yet she would be sorry of his perishing" (p. 248); and again—"She hath heard many lies of the King, and yet found commonly that his subjects' traffics have been out of their own assumption; and therefore as she will little care to dissolve all amity, so if he do nothing but lœtari et benefacere, she will never raise her quiet by his troubles." (p. 249).

Moreover Cecil asserts, in January, 1603,

"If the King practise not to disturb her [the Queen's] present (state) she is like to continue to him the safest neighbour that ever Scotland had" (p. 248).

The sucession to the crown that in past years had been the cause of so much anxiety to her people had quite ceased to trouble the Queen herself; and we may conclude that among her ministers and the chief men round her throne the accession of James was expected and accepted without demur. There is but one paper in which the succession is discussed (p. 244), apparently belonging to the last year of her reign; and in that it is urged that the matter should be left to the Queen's discretion. Already before the death of Burghley Elizabeth had offered to aid James against the rebellious lords (p. 65); and in 1601 she once again increased his pension by the sum of 2,000l. (p. 176).

Scotland. The condition of men and affairs in Scotland is naturally one of the most prominent subjects dealt with in these papers. Among English statesmen Cecil at all events was not favourably impressed with the political atmosphere there; and writing to the Master of Gray, his frequent correspondent, he avows his determination to keep clear of such uncertainty.

"I thank God I have in a constant course resolved to move upon no such variable poles, as all the spheres of Scotland are" (p. 184).

Newsletters from Scotland indicate what hopes the Catholics there entertained from the Spanish landing in Ireland, which hopes were frustrated by the ill success of the expedition, and the King's resolution to send 2,000 Scots to Ireland was broken off "because the Spaniard is dispersed" (pp. 203, 211). As if conscious that the English might be afraid of his favouring the Catholics should he succeed to that crown, he instructs his agent, Mr. Hamilton, to tell

"All the honest subjects of England that sincerely profess the only true religion by law established in both these countries . . . . that they may assure themselves that how soon it shall please God lawfully to possess me with the crown of that kingdom wherein they are subjects, I shall not only maintain and continue the profession of the gospel there, but withal not suffer or permit any other religion to be professed and avowed within the bounds of that kingdom" (p. 264).

This assertion he subsequently made good by persecuting Catholics and Puritans alike with much impartiality. The anxiety of James to propitiate his future subjects is also illustrated by his letters to the Laird of Johnston and Robert Scott of Heyning, informing them he has sent the Earl of Mar as ambassador toward England to renew the long standing peace between the two realms and remove some jealousies that might interfere with it; and commanding them as wardens of the Scottish border

"to abstain from attempting any incursions or violence within the realm of England" (p. 172).

James' disposition to religious controversy, so fully developed at a later date, is indicated by the mention that "the emulation between the King and the [Presbyterian] ministers continues" (p. 211, p. 23); while on the other hand, he is reprimanded by the Master of Gray for having made use of the Jesuits in some matter at Rome:

"To conclude, neither Jesuits nor drunkards be good for secrecy, and in this you did serve with both of them. I pray God send you good instruments, and His grace for to employ them well" (p. 141).

That the fears entertained in England of his good disposition towards Catholics were not without foundation is shown by the remonstrance presented to James urging him to show favour to the Catholics, on the ground that his just pretensions would be much advanced thereby (p. 335). Yet in Scotland, things were not so quiet as the King could have wished. Early in 1601 he is advertised from three different quarters that his life is in danger (p. 171); while a year later he has no agent representing him in England (p. 211). What must have been a source of greater concern to James, if the statement was true, was that though for half a year past an intercourse had been entertained between himself and Cecil,

"yet His Majesty privately speaks and thinks as hardly of him as heretofore" (p. 211).

He was also maintaining about the same time an intimate correspondence with the Earl of Northumberland, who but a short time afterwards fell under suspicion in connection with the Gunpowder Plot (pp. 262–265). Whatever James' opinion might be of Cecil, the latter's known sagacity and foresight would never allow of his falling out with the King, whatever treatment he might receive at his hands. Indeed when writing to Nicholson at the end of 1602, he expressly refers to his former wrongs and says

"the King now hath somewhat to work on, whereby he may judge my former wrongs, which I persuade myself the justice of his heart will apprehend; of whom I would be glad not to be held a reprobate, though I desire not to be an elect" (p. 237).

It was not long after he came to the crown of England before James found occasion to speak of Cecil in terms of the highest praise and commendation, as will be seen in the next volume of this calendar.

Ireland. Of all the matters that occupied the attention of government in the years covered by these papers none was more pressing or received more constant attention than the condition of Ireland. This was due not onlv to the state of the country itself, but also to the fact that Ireland was a constant point of vantage from which to attack England, and was so regarded especially by Spain, the great adversary of England during the latter half of the sixteenth century. Spanish munitions and preparations for the invasion of Ireland, whether real or imagined, were of frequent occurrence, and a Spanish expedition actually landed at Kinsalc (pp. 126, 219, 221, 229); but the Lord Deputy and Sir George Carew speedily attacked and overthrew them (pp. 187, 207, 211, 229). In spite of this overthrow the internal condition of the country was so bad that an expedition under Essex was prepared at the end of 1598: his mismanagement of which led to his disgrace, and ultimately to his traitorous proceedings. Yet he was forewarned as to the necessity of exercising great caution; two letters, from Fernando Gorges (p. 82) and Sir Christopher Blount (p. 84) on the subject should have led him to exercise great circumspection. The account given by Gorges of the character of Essex's forces and those that would oppose him shews a terrible picture of the evils caused by the starvation of the Irish government, in consequence of the Queen's parsimony:

"your old soldiers that you shall find there are discouraged and made cowards by overthrows received, and for the most part discomforted for want of necessary means and due respect in case of their extremity. The stores are disfurnished, the country wholly possessed by the enemy, the state divided, your new levies unpractised in the use of their arms, unacquainted with the wars, and unable long to continue their health in respect of the change of the country and their diet; your captains not experienced in the nature of those services." The advice of Blount was of a more personal nature—and perhaps more needed: "I pray only that in your own undertakings you will be to yourself in private advice as you are to others, careful in your counsels."

Contributions for the expedition were to be levied (p. 98), and applications to serve under Essex were numerous (pp. 91, 103, 104, 114); but all led to no good result.

Even in those days, however, other means of reducing Ireland to order and obedience were not overlooked, and measures were suggested which had they been carried out in a sympathetic spirit would at least have mended matters. Such schemes will be found at pp. 6, 314; while the suggestions of Lord Mountjoy (pp. 239–242) were most excellent, and it is only to be regretted that he was not enabled to put them into practice. He defines the necessary measures under four heads, and the means to attain obedience and peace. It will be noticed that religion is one of the difficulties to be dealt with, and the forcing of conscience is specially put aside; better instruction and the softening influence of time being recommended to produce a better result. It is noticeable, however, that Mountjoy is under no delusion as to where the real difficulty lies.

"till they (the Irish) be more like reasonable men than they now are, their society were rather scandalous to the true religion than otherwise, as pearls cast before swine; for till they be closed from their blood incontinency and those acts which are now not the lapses of particular persons but the very law of the nation, they are incompatible with religion reformed."

In Ulster a policy is recommended by another writer (p. 242) which was soon to be adopted by James I., with results which have happily continued to the present time. The Mayor and citizens of Dublin also asked for measures that would tend to promote trade with England, specially in the matter of woollen yarn. These are but a few of the many interesting facts relating to Ireland which may be gathered from the papers in this volume.

The last few years of Elizabeth's reign saw the passing away of some of the statesmen and others on whose advice and support the Queen had chiefly relied, or by whose efforts her throne was established and the power of England extended; their places being taken by others who were to usher in a new and different age, differing not only in the spirit and method of government, but in religion, social and political aims and ideas from the age then drawing to a close. Of the former the chief were with Elizabeth herself, Burghley, and Essex: of the latter Cecil, Buckhurst, better known as the Earl of Dorset, and Bacon were the most conspicuous and outstanding examples. The two great protagonists for so many years, Philip II. of Spain and Lord Burghley, both died in 1598; and Essex brought himself to an untimely end in 1601; and thus the struggles of the seventeenth century had to be conducted by new men, largely untried. A few words may be devoted to the principal persons who had done their part and passed away before the changes appeared that were to mark the coming reign.

Elizabeth. The security of the Queen's position can be gathered from the witness of her enemies, the Catholics. Her death was frequently planned (pp. 258, 290) and as often the plot failed, till at last a Catholic could only write (p. 258)

"I perceive there is neither peace, liberty, nor freedom of conscience to be obtained with the enemies of God, especially with that usurping and excommunicate Queen . . . although heretofore her death hath oftentimes been pretended, yea and almost effected, yet through the cowardice and timorousness of those which should have performed the same, our hopes have been made frustrate."

Thus at the end of her reign her position was acknowledged to be impregnable, though every means had been tried to displace her; including a forged letter to the Pope, in which the Queen was supposed to pray for the removal of the Papal ban against her, and to promise to the Catholics in her realm security for the public exercise of their religion (p. 217).

Several of the Queen's well known characteristics are confirmed by these papers, such as her parsimony, her love of finery (p. 47) and her justice (pp. 106, 178). Perhaps less known is her strong religious feeling, as indicated by her prayers above referred to: and the literary and artistic strain exemplified by the poem in French a portion of which is printed at p. 324.

Lord Burghley. By Burghley's death in 1598 the hand was removed that had had the chief control of the nation's destinies from the very beginning of Elizabeth's reign. Resembling his great adversary, Philip of Spain, in the slow deliberation of his counsels and decisions, he owed the success of his policy to the vigour of the nation behind him rather than to any merit of his own. How much credit is due to Burghley and how much to the Queen for the success attending their joint efforts will probably always remain an open question; but to his contemporaries England without the great Lord Treasurer must have presented a very different, and at first doubtful, aspect. It was perhaps only to be expected that the opinion of him held in Scotland was hardly flattering;

"the opinion of the Treasurer abroad is that he is more fortunate than considerate, more witty than wise, and more wise than honest: that he shews [serves ?] himself of all men and means, both puritans, atheists, Turks, Jews and infidels without all regard of honour or honesty to effectuate his purposes" (p. 22).

These papers show that he withdrew largely from the administration of current affairs after the appointment of Sir Robert Cecil as Secretary in 1596. The times demanded a younger and more adaptable man to deal with the changing conditions; but the training in the administration he received under his father's guidance must have been of great use to Cecil.

Evidence occurs in these papers of two of Burghley's tastes, for pedigrees (pp. 73–76) and for domestic architecture (pp. 48, 76–78).

Earl of Essex. The most striking and prominent personality of the latter half of Elizabeth's reign was Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex. He stepped into the position in the Queen's favour occupied till his death by Leicester; whom he seems to have resembled in possessing an attractive appearance and the gift of courtier-like flattery. Possessed of abundant energy and of all the advantages conferred by rank and wealth, he took an ever increasing share in the conduct of affairs (pp. 145, 168, &c.); these papers show his correspondence to have been very various and to have included the chief men in many foreign lands—France, Scotland, the United Provinces, &c. In France he had taken part in an expedition to Brittany in aid of the French King, and the Duc de Bouillon is one of his constant correspondents (pp. 57, 59, 60, &c.) From Scotland George Leslie reports in 1597—

"the haill nobilitie heir speik honorablie and seem weill effectit to the Erle of Essex" (p. 22).

But more interesting perhaps is the light thrown by incidental references on his private life and character. Thus we learn that he was a good tennis player (p. 164); Lady Sandys speaks of

"that wild Earl's craft, who hath been unlucky to many but never good to any. I would he had never been born." (p. 193).

A very different estimate from that of other friends, in whom the Earl seems to have kindled a very strong affection. A most favourable impression is created by his letter to the Countess of Northumberland, his sister, in which he endeavours to persuade her to be reconciled to the Earl her husband, and even drafts a letter for her to write to the latter with that object (p. 127). This seems to illustrate and confirm Sir Christopher Blount's counsel to Essex on the eve of his going to take command of the expedition to Ireland, that

"you will be to yourself in private advice as you are to others, careful in your counsels" (p. 84).

Pity that one esteemed a wise counseller by others could not wisely counsel himself.

Of the Earl's doings in Ireland, his disgrace and subsequent rebellion, little is said in these papers. His relations with the Queen are indicated by a letter written to Elizabeth on the eve of his departure for Ireland (p. 106) before he had fallen into disgrace; by another to the Earl of Southampton (p. 107); and by a letter to the Council about May, 1600, written when he was awaiting sentence (p. 129). It concerns some land which the Earl asserted belonged to him, but which had come into the Queen's hands as a 'concealment'; and the Earl protests—

"I do most humbly and willingly prostrate my land, my goods, and my life at her Majesty's feet; I stand not upon any title, I cannot suffer myself to be made a party against her Majesty. I appeal from the course of justice to her gracious favour."

Apparently Essex had little hope of restoration to the Queen's favour;

"he wishes strongly and hopes for weakly, the possibility of restitution to her Majesty's favour,"

he writes in answer to Anthony Bacon, who had urged him not to despair of ultimate restoration to favour, and given reasons for his belief (p. 137). His despondency was justified; he had by his headstrong wilful action sealed his own fate; and the last information these papers give us of the Earl of Essex, once Elizabeth's favourite and courted of all men, is a list of the names of those whom he dragged down in his fall (p. 170).

The attitude of Essex towards Cecil seems to have been one of hostility, if we may judge by the words spoken by John Mylles, one of his servants, "in derogation of Sir Robert Cecil, secretary to the Queen's most Excellent Majesty" (p. 162). Mylles

"envied the said knight for that he had entered on an office which the Queen had granted to the Earl of Essex"; and said further, "that Sir Robert Cecil and others were enemies to his lord the Earl."

That Cecil had been aware of this hostility to him on the part of Essex, appears from a letter of his to Mr. Nicholson, the Queen's minister at Edinburgh, dated Nov., 1602, in which he speaks of the Spanish desire for

"that peace, the former proceeding whereof was one of the first shadows which the Earl of Essex borrowed for a colour to accuse me to be Spanish; wherein I hope the world hath since seen sufficient trial."

Moreover, an agent of Cecil's in Scotland informs him early in 1601, that

"Mr. Hamilton's report clears you of the imputations of the Earl against you in London and at his arraignment" (p. 171).

In May, 1601, Cecil writes to the Master of Gray of the Scotch nobility

"For myself, they believed too well of my adversary [i.e. Essex], whom God forgive, to do me any kind offices, I am sure" (p. 177).

It was a dangerous thing to quarrel with Cecil, on account of his power and the esteem in which he was held by the Queen; though from his character as depicted in these papers he was not disposed to fall foul of any man, be he high or low, on his own account, but only for matter prejudicial to the Queen's service. (pp. 209, 238).

Sir Robert Cecil. Of all the statesmen who were gathered round Elizabeth in her last years none was so prominent or so necessary to the Queen as Sir Robert Cecil. He was a younger son of Lord Burghley, and is perhaps better known as the first Earl of Salisbury, having been so created by James I. in 1605. These papers contain many notices of him and of his private character, which it may be worth while to glance at, more especially as many of the descriptions are from his own pen.

His personal appearance indicated a man not of a strong constitution; he is described by an unfriendly critic as "a man which hath a wry neck, a crooked back and a splay foot" (p. 162), which sufficiently accounts for the nickname usually bestowed on him by James I. In character he was above favouritism; a correspondent says

"he knows Cecil too well to think to stir him with 'words of accomplishments'; and that the favour" he asks for "must come from Cecil's own inclination to requite his honest love" (p. 88.)

Writing to the Master of Gray, Cecil says

"I am sorry that there should be a conceit that any man should perish by addressing himself to me, whereby others may impute that to my weakness which merely proceedeth from their own original sin" (p. 186).

To the same correspondent he observes

"It is in vain for me to please myself with any opinion (as long as I enjoy the place I do) to be free from those hard exceptions which I hear the King (of Scots) doth take against me . . . but that I am still condemned for hearing and using such as he misliketh; from which neither I nor any man that holds the place that I do can escape, whose ears must be open to all men" (p. 209).

To the same correspondent, to whom Cecil seems to have written very freely, he says—

"I see you would have used the credit you should have gotten both to the service of the Queen, and to temper the unjust conceits of any malicious or practising humour in me, whereof the number of jealousies is great that are rooted against me" (p. 233).

A final quotation may be given as containing Cecil's estimate of his own character (the truth of which a study of these papers will confirm); when writing to the Queen's agent in Scotland he says

"though the place I hold gives cause to me to hear and entertain many subjects of his [the King of Scotland] that have their several discontentments . . . yet his Majesty shall never find, nor never a councillor he hath, if they should rack any instrument of mine till his bones break, that I have ever engaged myself in anything that shall not become a gentleman and a Christian" (p. 238).

Concerning which one may say that this witness is true.

It is often thought, and may possibly be true, that as was certainly the case in the next reign, the chief men at Elizabeth's court were pensioners of Spain. In giving an account of the landing of the Spaniards at Kinsale and their defeat by the Lord Deputy, Cecil is very sarcastic in dealing with this idea:

"In the meantime you see we are not asleep, nor all the conditions agreed on for the peace between the King of Spain and the Queen, nor we that are pensioners to the Infanta (according to the excellent Scottish intelligence) so faithful to him yet but that we keep him from Ostend, and mean to pull him by the ears out of Ireland" (p. 187).

But Cecil was well aware that he could not escape the slanders of malicious tongues, and therefore as far as possible he treated them with silent contempt. To the Master of Gray he writes in January, 1603,—

"Wonder not at my silence, for I have many enemies at home out of envy, and many there (in Scotland) out of corrupted opinion, which I will rather endure, and repose my confidence in God's providence, than seek to remedy by such demonstrations as may peril the present constitution of my fortune" (p. 247).

To Sir Henry Poole also he speaks of

"Those bitter imputations which are often thrown upon those who by their place and service are every day subject to the calumniations of all sorts of men . . . I know, and so do many of us, that deal most in her Majesty's services, that there is a great aptness in this time of believing all accusations that concern men that live in this place, even in things of as great absurdity as this" (p. 252).

Not possessed of genius or imagination, like Raleigh or Essex, he was yet conspicuous for his patience, courtesy and common sense, and so eminently fitted to deal with the difficult time that his country was soon to pass through. His correspondence with Lord Sheffield, on the appointment of the latter to some office which he was unwilling or doubted his ability to perform, may be referred to as an example of his tactful dealing in such cases, and indeed with all his equals (pp. 53, 91).

Other well known statesmen whose names occur are Francis Bacon, Thomas lord Buckhurst, and Sir Walter Ralegh.

Francis Bacon. Bacon was only now beginning to rise, having attained the position of a Queen's counsel; but when appointed one of the commissioners to investigate an Admiralty cause in Guernsey, the merchants concerned objected to him as not being acquainted with the privileges of the Island. It is probable that the connection of his brother Anthony with the Earl of Essex retarded rather than promoted his advancement.

Buckhurst. Thomas Sackville lord Buckhurst, was a man of great integrity, and one of those upon whom the Queen could place reliance amid the trouble and confusion of her last years. On the death of Burghley in 1598 he became Lord Treasurer, and held that most important office till his own death ten years later, when he was succeeded by Burghley's son, then Earl of Salisbury. Of Buckhurst one of the most recent and best of English historians writes in terms of unqualified praise:—"Of all the statesmen of the day, not one has left a more blameless character than the Earl of Dorset." (fn. 1)

Sir Walter Ralegh. During the period under consideration Ralegh was at the zenith of his fame, and no sign of the coming troubles had yet appeared. The flood of misfortunes that overwhelmed him and has clouded his reputation did not descend till the next reign. The era of such triumphs and successes as his passed away with the great Queen; and his fall was helped on by his enemies (p. 90) and his own participation in the plots hatched in the beginning of the reign of her successor, who was sure to take a gloomy view of the worth and loyalty of those involved in such supposed conspiracies. James was incapable of understanding the imagination that could conceive, and the energy that could carry out the great exploits that appealed to Ralegh; the temperaments of the two men were simply incompatible.

Spain. Though the age-long conflict between England and Spain was not definitely ended till the following reign, it is evident that Elizabeth had been somewhat anxiously seeking to make peace for some years. A despatch from Burghley to an unknown correspondent indicates her belief in the possibility of

"a general peace for all Christendom, whereof her Majesty is as desirous as to have a particular peace for herself,"—it only depended upon whether "the King of Spain was disposed to a peace with her Majesty" (p. 46.)

The negotiations in 1601 that proved abortive are referred to at p. 18, and perhaps also at p. 41, and from President Richardot's account of them it is quite evident that both parties, the Queen and the King of Spain, were equally desirous of a final peace, even arranging that if the Dutch (on whose behalf in the first place a treaty was desired) "would come to no terms, the negotiations for peace with the Queen should go on without them in the place agreed upon" (p. 256). A curious argument is brought forward in favour of it as tending to the pacification of Ireland, that

"nothing can be more fit for the same purpose than a treaty or shadow of a treaty of peace with Spain" (p. 240).

This would result in "the cutting off of the opinion and expectation of foreign succours" (p. 239). for which the Irish were in the habit of looking to Spain (pp. 207, 208). On this occasion of the Spaniards landing in Ireland Cecil proposed not only to send troops to strengthen the army in Ireland, but to attack the enemy at home by sea, setting forth ships to lie upon the coast of Spain (p. 230). From the letters on pp. 12, 183, 245, it is evident there were often a considerable number of Spanish prisoners in England.

France. This volume contains less information about the relations between England and France, the intercourse between the countries having become less intimate. In January, 1597, the French ambassadors laid before the Queen a long memorial setting forth the plight of the French King in moving terms, and pleading for help for recovery of Calais from the Spaniards specially, proposing a conference to consider and resolve on the subject (pp. 3–6). The request seems to have been met by withdrawing some troops from the Netherlands' service to send to France (p. 2): but Henry IV. being now firmly seated on the throne and the country on the whole more peaceful, military assistance was not required so urgently as in previous years. At p. 39 the question of English assistance to the French King is discussed; it is asserted that the Queen has fulfilled all the conditions of the last treaty, to which France has made default, the King being unable to pay the united troops as he had promised. Occasionally moreover the country was in a state of civil war either actual or anticipated (pp. 25, 226); and a pitiful description is given of the state of the frontiers of France towards the Archduke's territory as being "depeopled, the country ruined, and the finances exhausted" (p. 55). In these circumstances the French King was treating with the Cardinal of Austria, and invited the Queen and the States General to join in the proposed peace (p. 54.)

Difficulties over commerce at sea continued to arise and cause trouble between the two countries (p. 191).

The United Provinces. The affairs of the Low Countries are less prominent in these papers than heretofore; the States General had survived their worst trials, and were learning to depend more or less on their own resources as help from abroad began to fail them. The Queen was more desirous of recovering their debt to her than of advancing fresh sums; while France was unable to help them, being occupied with internal troubles, and the constant fear of Spanish aggression from the direction of the obedient Provinces. To remove this latter trouble, in March, 1598, the French King entered into negotiations with the Cardinal Archduke for a peace, which was to include the Queen, and the States General if they were willing to come in. But Elizabeth was careful to explain to the latter that she was not treating with "the common enemy," Spain, but had been invited to the negotiation with the Archduke by her brother of France; and her commissioners had no power to go a step further in the direction of treating with the common enemy until all three parties, France, England and the Low Countries had agreed as to conditions (p. 55). Reasons for and against the present negotiations, especially as such peace would affect France and the Low Countries, were set forth by the Queen with much frankness; and she asserted her resolution not to conclude anything but what was just, and honourable for her confederates as well as herself. The United Provinces were still making use of English troops, and the latter were still garrisoning the cautionary towns, Flushing, Brill, &c. It was not likely Elizabeth would be willing to restore these until the States General repaid the sums owing to her. A statement was made, apparently in connection with the proposed treaty between France and the Archduke referred to above, that the chief difficulty would be with regard to Flushing,

"which the Queen wished to restore to the United Provinces"; to which reply was made, "it may be so, but the Cardinal was not likely to agree to that, because Flushing was the key of Antwerp" (p. 41).

Eventually the towns remained in the hands of the English till well on into the reign of James I., when they were given up on payment of a round sum.

The limits of this Introduction necessarily have only allowed of attention being drawn to a very small number of the subjects treated of in these papers; but in these days when so many are interested in the study of economics, social conditions, military and naval affairs, personal and local history, and national institutions, it may be well to mention some of the matters on which these papers furnish information. Foremost must be placed the subject of religion, to treat of which at all adequately in this place is an impossibility: the student must be referred to the accompanying index under such headings as the Catholics, Recusants and recusancy, uniformity in the church, religious toleration, &c. Much information on musters, naval affairs and mercantile marines; piracy; printing; poor relief; shipmoney; the Star Chamber, &c. may be traced under these or similar headings in the index. Some items are of an extraordinary nature, such as the assertion that the Judges of the Court of Common Pleas are only judges during term (p. 192). Mentions occur also of people to whom interest always attaches, such as Arabella Stuart, the Earl of Southampton, whose friendship with Essex involved him in trouble, and Sir Richard Hawkins, who was still languishing in a Spanish prison.

Students of philology may be interested in the curious words and phrases that occur, specially in the papers from Scotland, and in the proverbs quoted, some of which have survived to the present day.

It only remains to refer to the help of the late Mr. R. T. Gunton, the Marquis of Salisbury's secretary, who gave valuable assistance in dealing with these papers. His death has been a great loss, for he had a wonderful knowledge of the whole series of Cecil Papers, and was most ready in helping to solve any difficulties that arose in the preparation of the Calendar.

E. Salisbury.


  • 1. Gardiner, i, 93.