Cecil Papers: May 1584

Pages 28-35

Calendar of the Cecil Papers in Hatfield House: Volume 3, 1583-1589. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1889.

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May 1584

79. Sir Edward Stafford to Sir Francis Walsingham.
1584, May 2. His dealing with the King and Queen-Mother to impeach the King of Spain's greatness, and their bare answers. Sunday's news of the troubles in Scotland troubled them greatly, but more the fear that the King [of Scots] may be brought by necessity to have intelligence with the Queen [of England]. Nothing better to cut their combs here than a sure intelligence between the Queen and the King of Scots.
Lord Seton and the Bishop of Glasgow concur outwardly, but privately do not well agree. Lord Seton is holden out for a mean wise man, and yet very wilful. His great pomp turned to penury, most of his silver vessels being already at gage, besides a foul disgrace. The serjeants came into his house to wrest all they could find for a debt of 600 crowns, and no haste made of punishing them. The ship that brought him is still at Newhaven, the master weeping, and Seton fain (to feed his men) to lay every fortnight one of his pieces of ordnance to gage. The Duke D'Espernon's voyage into Gascony. Plessis thinks the diverting of the King of Navarre and his sister from their religion is one of the causes of it. Though both are steadfast, yet others are not ignorant that flesh is frail, nor what ambitious desire of such fair things as may be proposed to him may make him think upon, nor what effect women's desires to be queens may work in her, especially when they remember how far she went towards accepting any reasonable composition when there was a speech for Monsieur, who was but the King's brother.
Plessis would fain have the Queen send somebody to the King of Navarre to encourage him to think Her Majesty makes some account of him. None properer than Mr. Bacon, who is already in those parts. Mr. Umpton gone to Rome.—Paris, 2 May 1584.
Copy. 4 pp. [Murdin, pp. 394–397. In extenso. The original is in State Papers (France), Vol. LXXIX.]
80. Sir Edward Stafford to Sir Francis Walsingham.
1584, May 7. Espernon's departure to-morrow. Don Antonio hath sent for me. I will gather out of him what I can of the preparations by sea in his name, whether there be any likelihood of another colour in them than is given out. I cannot find anything to be pretended for Scotland. Will send the more particular names of the Governors of Provinces and their lieutenants, councillors, &c.
I marvel much her Majesty has taken in so evil part what I did in discharge of my duty. I sent her no more of Monsieur than was, and as much as was. I had gone underneath my duty far, if I had not advertised her of it, considering the innovations likely to have grown upon his death here, the ignorance of which might have brought her Majesty great harm. Not that I am hasty or willing to either hear or send news of his death, which I can in no way desire should happen, as well for the trouble it would bring to the State generally, as particularly to her Majesty for the love she beareth him.—Paris, 7 May 1584.
Copy by Sir Edward Stafford. 1¾ pp. [Murdin, p. 397. In extenso. The original is in State Papers (France), Vol. LXXIX.]
81. Sir Edward Stafford to Lord Burghley.
1584, May 12. Plessis came again to take his leave. I find by him that, now Espernon is gone with so ample a commission, they are sorry they followed not my advice. For when they told me they had letters from the King of Navarre to the King to request a commission, or else he would not take the journey of Languedoc in hand, I wished them either to suppress the letters altogether, or at least to stay the delivering of them till they had sent back again in post day and night to the King of Navarre to advise him better, and that by no means should he refuse to go; that commissions were for mean men, and not for persons of such quality as the King of Navarre; that the King's letter was commission enough for him; that if they asked it, and the King refused it, (as I was sure he would do), it would be a great disgrace to the King of Navarre; and that having the King's letter for a ward, what good or bad meaning soever he had, the King of Navarre might serve his turn of it as he saw cause. For being by public authority warranted to have conference with Montmorency, if he saw the King proceeded roundly, he might then rule himself thereafter. If he saw him halt, then they might the better between themselves agree what were best to be done hereafter to prevent any mischief, which they might do with more liberty, being authorised to have communication together, than being driven to it by necessity then to have conference without the King's consent, which the King might make his profit of to their hindrance, giving out that they had met to practise against him and his estate, as he knew it was a common use of this party to slander them abroad all they can.
They find that if they had followed my advice they had taken a better course, and that great commodity would have arisen of it, though it had been in nothing else than in abating so much of Espernon's large commission. They lay all the fault on Dupin, who is so scrupulous in his counsels that he marreth all. Having received the letters, &c. from the King of Navarre, they say they durst not but deliver them. But I know they have authority from him by discretion to do greater matters than that; but now they see the harm that fault has brought on them, they must needs excuse it with somewhat.
A very private man in the Court would persuade me that this journey will break Espernon's neck, and that it has been a policy of the Queen-Mother, by indirect means, to counsel the King to it, that in his absence laying before the King his insufficiency in executing it, and the extremity of the charge he putteth the King daily to for his vain glory, they may make the King feel it thoroughly, and so quite overthrow him. But I do not yet see in the King an humour likely to be persuaded to that.—Paris, this 12th May 1584.
Copy by Sir Edward Stafford. 1¾ pp. [Murdin, p. 398. In extenso. The original is in State Papers (France), Vol. LXXIX.]
82. Sir Edward Stafford to Sir Francis Walsingham.
1584, May 23. Have done what I could to find whether under this pretence for Don Antonio anything be intended for Scotland, but I do not find any likelihood in it. What privy conveyance or charge some private body in it may have, when they have hoist their sails and are in the sea, I cannot find any way to discover. I durst answer for Don Autonio that if he could spy any likelihood of such a thing, he would make me partaker of it. He desireth greatly to have some knowledge of her Majesty's pleasure about his abode in England, and some relief, considering his necessity and evil will to tarry here.
For the French King's here being acquainted with any enterprise of the Duke of Guise, I can find no cause to give me light that there is any such kindness between them. . . . . The Queen-Mother will be here in a day or two, and then I will press the King for an answer about my Lord Paget and the others.
For the extract, he made show to be glad he had it, and either he dissembled greatly his countenance, or else he was glad to have somewhat in his hand to choke them withal. How long that humour will last I cannot tell. This is very sure, that the more the Duke of Guise hath pressed audience for the Scottish Ambassador, the oftener he hath put them off, and hath given it out with his own mouth that it hath been to spite them of Guise withal.
Have had somewhat to do this feste Dieu, for the keeping of my house unhanged, but at the length I had the victory, and would not permit them to hang an inch of anything that belonged to me. In the end they used all things very well, when they saw there was no remedy, &c.—From Paris, this 23rd of May 1584.
Copy by Sir Edward Stafford. 2 pp. [Murdin, p. 401. In extenso. The original is in State Papers (France), Vol. LXXIX.]
83. Sir Edward Stafford to Sir Francis Walsingham.
1584, May 23. Reports his interview with the King. “I began to him first with the Queen's kind offer of sending him the Garter, which I dilated with as many words of kindness as I could, the which he accepted with as great thankfulness as by his answer and countenance it was easy to judge. . . . . Next I declared to him Mauvissière's going into Scotland, the which he greatly liked of, assuring to give him commandment to fulfil her Majesty's will with as much sincerity and truth, for the pacifying of all things in that realm, that he, that her Majesty should accompany him withal, should have just cause to report it to her at his return to her contentment. Though your direction did not stretch so far, I was bold to add of myself, to bring in the other point of the extract you sent me, that her Majesty nothing doubted of the sincere meaning of the King, and that it was a thing she feared the least, the amity of Scotland with France, but that I rather was afraid, by the secret dealing of some of his subjects, Scotland was become rather Spanish than either French or English, as might appear by certain extracts which her Majesty had sent him to see, and which I desired him from her Majesty to read. He took them and desired me to leave them with him to take advice with the Queen-Mother thereupon. I desired that it would please him to read them, and to deliver them me again, because I had no other copy, and withal her Majesty's request to him was that he would keep them secret till he saw further effects of the. said preparations, by the which he should easily descry the good (!) meaning of his subjects towards her Majesty, and which, as heretofore, she had never found him to be a consenter unto, so she hoped hereafter he would be a letter of by all means.
He desired me that I would let him have the extract (though he read it afore my face) for a while, that Villeroy with his own hand should copy it out and send it me presently again, that he would warrant me it should be kept very secret, and that I should assure her Majesty that whosoever in his realm did attempt anything against her should find that be was a King, and would chasten his subjects that enterprised anything against any of his friends, &c. I could not refuse the leaving the extract, he being so earnest of it. He sent it me again presently according to his promise.
At the last I moved him about such of her Majesty's evil-disposed subjects as were here under pretence of religion for matters against her state, assuring him that of them that were here for their conscience her Majesty made no instance, being content to leave them here to learn to pray for the King and his estate, seeing their consciences could not serve them to pray for her; but her Majesty doubted, and I could assure him, there were here of them that prayed more in a quarter of an hour for the King of Spain than that did in a year for him. If there were cause to make proof of any difference between the King of Spain and him, he would easily find how much more their hearts were bent to Spain than to France. They had daily conference with Spain and served for better spies than any else Spain had here. He desired the names in writing of them of quality that I did know. At his mother's coining he would take advice and send again to me, and he would in all things seek to content her Majesty; whose names I did deliver him according to your direction and took my leave.”
Great councils here kept for preserving Cambray, which they fear will be besieged; great store of powder, shot, pickaxes, surgeons, salt, &c., ready. Aldegonde was said to be come to Monsieur, but there is nobody but one Caran of Bruges, who assures Monsieur that Bruges has not compounded, nor will not now that they shall have certainty of his life.
Espernon holdeth on his voyage with great magnificence, as at Orleans and other places all the chief cities meet him far off out of their cities, and he keepeth open house. Palace news saith still that the chief cause of his going is about a proposition of marriage with the Princess of Navarre, the King being weary of his wife. Some believe it, because evidently it is seen he careth nothing for his wife. Others because they think (the general opinion) he groweth in extreme hatred with the House of Guise.
“The King seemeth so honourably to accept the Queen's Order that I am sure her Majesty will send a man of great calling with it, whom I would wish despatched with as much speed as you can, for fear the King be either away far, and so he must be fain to follow far, or else at Lyons privately, and so he be constrained to remain his return, either of which will be so chargeable considering the dear time now, &c.”— [From Paris, 23rd May 1584.]
Copy by Sir Edward Stafford. 4 pp. [Murdin, pp. 399–401. In extenso. The original is in State Papers (France), Vol. LXXIX.]
84. Sir Edward Stafford to Sir Francis Walsingham.
1584, May 29. I cannot find that Lord Seton's audience was for anything other than that he pursueth greatly the strict covenants of the ancient league of Scotland and France, and among the rest the putting in of a Scottish captain over the Scottish guards instead of the French captain now in that place. Pie meaneth to have his son, and followeth those things so earnestly here that there is a mislike had of him in this court, and they grow weary of him, the Bishop refusing to go with him. He came to rue an earnest suitor for his passport, which he saith he desireth for nothing but in passing that way to clear himself to her Majesty of all evil reports. The chief cause of his coming was to feel and draw out of me the certainty of the arrival of the Lords into England, and of the case how it hath gone in Scotland. He had certain advertisement of the Lords' flying, their arriving at Berwick, their going out of Stirling and of the taking of Gowry. He added that he [Gowry] lost his head, and that the King pursued them to Berwick bounds, and took a great many by the way, and hung them, &c. Seton burst out against the Lords, calling them rebels, and marvelled the Queen received such into her realm. I replied her Majesty was no receiver of rebels; if they had been as great as he made them, and had retired into England, the Queen in receiving them had but followed the example set when the archrebels, the Earls of Northumberland, Westmoreland, Dacres, &c., were received by them. Such foolish stuff he replied that, if I troubled you with it, I should be counted a verier fool than he.
In the end I wished for the good of the young King, that he and such as governed him would beat into his head a love between his subjects and him, and not set quarrels between him and his nobility. But I find the man disposed rather to continue the King in a worse disposition. Yet he confessed to me that the chiefest of them, as Mar and Angus, were the farthest of cousin-germans removed from him and that of the Hamiltons, one was his son-in-law, the other near allied to him. I asked whether it were the manner in Scotland that so near kindred and alliance used to bring forth no better love than he shewed to bear to the said Lords. He answered that the respect of his King and master took all respects away from him. I replied that that cloak of the name of a King covered nowadays all factions, as witness the troubles here in France, which, if they were wise, might make them wise, and by agreeing among themselves might keep their King and his realm in good estate and better surety of his person.
I find him scarce well content with Mauvissière's voyage into Scotland; he would be barely welcome, &c. The next day he went to the Court, and the Bishop of Glasgow assisted him, where they declared anew this accident of Scotland, and withal that it was her Majesty that had set it on, and that now she saw it took no better effect she comforted the rebels, and sought to make their peace both by her own means and by the King. The King heard them, and answered not to anything they said of the Queen, but that he would send and use all the means he could for the King's good and for the greatness of his estate.
Next day Seton went again to the court, first to Pinard's chamber. At length the King heard him in his cabinet, whereupon there was a new resolution taken, that Pinard's son should go into England, and so with Mauvissière into Scotland, who, if there be any bad thing meant, carrieth the instructions in his head, for his father is more at the House of Guise's commandment than any of the other secretaries. I like not his going. I will lay all the ways I can to hearken somewhat of his cause of going.
The King's determination to go to Fontainebleau and so to Lyons is very suddenly stayed, and turned to a journey to Gallion, and so to going privately to Newhaven, Caen, and Dieppe. It is thought it is purposely under colour of the King's coming thither to enter the strongest into Newhaven and Caen, of which Sarlebours is governor of the one, and would not let Duke Joyeuse enter the strongest, till he had paid 34,000 crowns that he had agreed with him for his government, and into Caen Castle, Mons. Do would not let him enter at all. It is meant they shall both be put out.
There was no remedy this day, but the King would needs have my house to be hanged. I have been as earnest not to have it done as ever I was for anything since I came into France, debating it as a privilege broken. He says that others have had it done afore me to avoid the mutiny of the people, which he could not hinder. I stood with him that my two predecessors had it, and Chevalier Du Guet came that affirmed it. The King made him set it down under his hand and seal, which I have sent you herein enclosed, which I know of mine own knowledge once in Sir Amias Paulet's time was false. I pray your honour that I may know her Majesty's pleasure in it, how she will have it taken; for my part I take it for a breach of the privilege of her Ambassador's house, and so I have protested it to them. They answer that within, the house is free; without, the house is the King's. If they say true, I think their Ambassador shall speak with the Queen's Majesty of it. If her Majesty deal roundly with him, I think it will do good against the next time. If her Majesty think it good, Sir Henry Cobham may underneath the Chevalier's signature sign the truth, and that I may have it back again to show the King. If her Majesty do think it good to let it slip and go so hereafter, it is a thing her will must be obeyed in. But for my part it is against my will; and, because they shall not have their wills, I have given the day before my house over to the owner, and have taken a little lodging in a garden till such time as I have Pyqueny House, and will never come into the other again, that they may not say they have hung the English Ambassador's house while I am in it, which is all I can do till I know her Majesty's pleasure.—Paris this 29th of May 1584.
Copy by Sir Edward Stafford. 4 pp. [Murdin, pp. 402–405. In extenso. The original is in State Papers (France), Vol. LXXIX., under date May 28, 1584.]
85. Sir Edward Stafford to the Queen.
[? 1584, May. (fn. 1) ] Having written at large to Mr. Secretary of such things as are fit to relate to him, I leave troubling your Majesty with anything but that which belongeth to Monsieur, which this bearer can tell you the particularity of as much as he knoweth, coming but newly from thence. I am sure he will tell you, and nothing . . truth, how affectionate Monsieur declareth himself to your Majesty, and how all those about him hold the same language. I promise your Majesty, knowing that which I know, I do marvel at it, for he never meant less good to you, and therefore he handleth the matter with the more cunning, which is but only to draw from you, and that in his very private company he braggeth of not yielding you a good word, which he did now to his mother at her being with him, with so evil words of you that his mother (have jest, have earnest) told him he was evil tongued, and could not speak well of you because you refused him. But while he thinketh it may be blown abroad,—and that by that means and by all his house generally well speaking of you, it may be thought that he is the cause of it, for the love he beareth you—he spareth no good speeches I am sorry that in discharge of my duty to your Majesty I must write [thus], but I am the more sorry that, without being a knave to your Majesty, I must and can do no otherwise. For the Queen Mother being with him, she made show to the King to go for divers reasons, for to persuade him to come to the Court, to persuade him from attempting any further in the enterprises of the Low Countries, for the getting of him to deliver Cambray into the King's hands, for the marriage with the daughter of Lorraine, though at this time they be in talk for her with the Duke of Savoy. But what show soever is made by her, I think she talked of these things with him for discharge of her word, and she maketh great show to be discontented with him now at her return for not granting those things. But in truth her meaning is nothing less than to bring them well together, for this dissension maketh her to have credit with the world, and with them authority in going up and down between them; whereof if the occasion were taken away the credit which she hath with the King, which is but very small, would be less; and that which she hath with Monsieur, which is almost none, would come to be nothing at all, and so she would be deprived of all authority and credit, which by the discussion and mistrust that she nourisheth between the two brothers she maintaineth in as great show as she can.
Besides that by good means I know this to be true, the proof of her voyages showeth it enough, for she never returned from Monsieur yet, but he was higher on the instep at her return than before; whereat the King is in a marvellous great murmuring, and sometimes he is in great fear, and then promiseth Monsieur fair. Within a short time again, Monsieur's own actions giveth him cause to fear him less, and then the King keepeth a hard hand upon [him]. So that our state here is changeable like the humours of the men, for when the King beginneth to speak of anything that is like to breed a discontent to the people, then Monsieur's credit riseth, and they begin to offer themselves to him that are discontented with the King, whom Monsieur doth not only embrace, when they come, but as soon as ever he heareth of any such matter he sendeth men to offer himself to them. And the King hearing of it, and leaving off those causes that should discontent them, they come home again, and then Monsieur's credit falleth.
I stayed this bearer here till the Queen Mother came back from Chateau Thierry, because by him I . . . send you all under one what effect I found of her journey; for Monsieur, that had written to me that he would keep him till the Queen Mother were gone, to send you the truth of that which had passed between them, despatched him presently away, as soon as he heard that the Deputies of the Low Countries were landed, which made me, when he came hither, to stay him till her return, because with the less charge you might have all together. Monsieur writ to me by him to send you these letters with expedition, and desired that he might have very speedy answer again from your Majesty.
I know not what he and Marchomont have written to you, but Marchomont hath written to me very largely, and therefore I think it hath not been without touching of it to your Majesty, what a loss you should make if you lose Monsieur. Monsieur was researched of all places and all . . . enemies; as of the Duke of Guise, who offered him all service, of the King of Spain, who offered him his daughter, of the Pope, who offered him liberally, and yet the only affection he bare to you made him refuse all these, which, if he might have any help of your Majesty, he would do still. If not, necessity would constrain him to be desperate, and to accept in the end their offers against his will. Truly, Madam, for Marchomont, I dare think him to be the henestest man about Monsieur, and he sheweth gracefulness in effect towards any of your Majesty's subjects more than ever I knew any Frenchman do. But in this matter I hope your Majesty will read what he writeth, and believe what is reason, and think of Marchomont that he is his master's servant, and such a servant as his master serveth his turn of, to make him do what he will have him, and to make him to know the truth but of what pleases him. I do not think that if Marchomont knew anything hurtful to your Majesty, but he would find means you should know it, and that I am thoroughly persuaded of, but think that Marchomont fulfils a little ambitious humour that he hath to win credit with his master, and that his master hath not too much cunning to deceive him withal, and by that means makes him write anything to you to serve his turn withal. I were a very simple man (as well as I think of him), either if he could make me believe it, or if I had so much credit with you to go about to persuade it you.
For first, for the Duke of Guise's offering himself to him, your Majesty knoweth what I have written to you in my other letters of that which is as true as the Gospel; and that the Duke of Guise, what shew soever he maketh appear, of all men in the world hath the least confidence in Monsieur, is most certain.
For the King of Spain's offering of his daughter, first I learn not here of those that should know such things, that there is any such matter spoken of, and in my opinion the King of Spain will keep his daughters while he liveth, to make only hope of them, as Charles, Duke of Burgundy did; or if he do marry them, it shall be in his own house, and, of any man in the world, not to Monsieur, and so do they think that know Monsieur and him better. As for the Pope, I dare not doubt of his good favour to your Majesty, but he . . . .
[Fragment in Sir Edward Stafford's hand, unsigned and undated.] 4 pp.


  • 1. This should be January.