Cecil Papers: April 1598, 1-15

Pages 117-135

Calendar of the Cecil Papers in Hatfield House: Volume 8, 1598. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1899.

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April 1598, 1–15

The Queen to the Burgomaster and Magistrates of Brill, in Holland.
1598, April 2. In place of their late Governor, now deceased, she has chosen Lord Sheffield, K.G., whom she prays them to welcome and assist, as well for the safety of their own town as for the common cause. She has given him particular charge to maintain good friendship and correspondence on the part of her subjects towards the inhabitants of the town and neighbourhood, and hopes that they will do the same with equal vigilance as regards their own people.—Westminster Palace, 2 April, 1598.
French. Sign Manual.
1 p. (133. 177.)
Captain Edward Prynne to the Earl of Essex.
1598, April 2/12. I have written unto you by one Captain God from Soissons, since that by an English boy. These few lines are to let you understand that the 8th day of April my lord the Marshal of Brisac arrived to this town of Morlaix with all his army, ready to lay the siege to Prymela, a place wherein there were some one hundred Spaniards, the which went out of the place upon agreement. They had four thousand crowns to surrender the place and shipping to carry them to Bluet. In this sort they are gone, leaving the place, which was of some strength, by the seaside. It is thought that they were sent for from Bluet by the Spanish Ambassador that was at Nantes, for the strengthening of Bluet, looking to be besieged, as the very truth it is the King's meaning. My lord's army goeth to be lodged some ten leagues from Bluet, there to stay till my lord do return from the Court, where he goeth to speak with the King, the which is at Nantes. I will write unto you from Nantes, and do hope to bring you the news of the taking of Bluet, as the last place in this province that is against the French King.
There is news very certainly reported that the Spaniard makes himself ready with all speed at Ferroll to come to the relief of Bluet, some one hundred sail, the report is, and that they will be ready by the 20th of May next. This is the news we have here, at this time there is nothing else worth the writing.—At Morlaix the 12th of April, 1598.
Holograph. Endorsed : “Edw. Pryme.” Seal.
1 p. (176. 142.)
Sir Robert Cecil and J. Herbert to the Queen.
1598, April 5. Most Gracious Sovereign. After we had received your Majesty's letters, so full of princely and prudent direction, by Mr. Mole, we found nothing left for us but to apply them to our present negotiation with our best diligence and discretion, according to the circumstance of the time. How we had proceeded formerly till the hour of his arrival we have delivered your Majesty an exact account by long and particular discourses sent to My Lords, being driven to husband our time, and value our instructions as much as we could until we might see whether the Spanish commission were come or no; whereby at least your honour might be thus saved, that if you had pleased you might have treated. On Monday the King rode forth very early, and came in very late. That night I, the Secretary, sent to have audience the next day. He sent me word that he must take physic, but in the afternoon I should be welcome. About three of the clock on Tuesday we both went to him, and found him in bed, where I the Secretary did desire him (because the matter was weighty), that he would be pleased for my discharge to hear us both together. He yielded to it very willingly, and so we sat down by his bedside, where we warmed him so well as, whether it were his physic, or our message, Monsieur Le Grand was fain to fetch drink for him. Before our coming to him, we had considered how much we should disadvantage so plain a matter if we should speak to him in other style than with assurance that his deputies had done as much as was discovered by the letters, though with such reservation to himself as became us, although we must plainly tell your Majesty that inwardly our hearts so boiled as we held ourselves accursed to tread upon this soil. We considered further that we should no sooner touch upon any part of the quick, but that he who knew all what he had done, would straight conceive we knew more than we spake; and therefore thought it unfit by temporising to give him any leisure to study or advise with others for his answer. We have therefore thought it good to set down here precisely the same language which I, the Secretary, used—for we that know your Majesty to be in all languages one of the mieulx disans of Europe must justly think that your Majesty had cause to be very jealous whether your meaning had been delivered in the French to the same sense which our English repetition should now express. And therefore I, the Secretary, beseech your Majesty to pardon my errors especially, who have come so short of that significance and propriety which in your pure style did always flourish. “Sire, depuis que j'ay eu l'honneur de voir votre Mate, j'ay receu une depeche de la Royne ma Soveraine, et suis infiniment marry de ce que par son commandement (sur l'exigence des affaires) je suis contraint vous faire ses plaintes tres instantees, pour le grand regret et mescontentement quelle a d'avoir occasion de se mesfier de la syncerite de votre affection en son endroict, quelle a tousjours tenue pour fidelle et inviolable, aiant eu notable indice, que les procedures de vos ministres, en ce present traicte de la paix avec l'Espaignol, portent desseing et promesse que votre Mate se laisseroit en fin aller a rompre la foy publique que vous luy avez juree. Elle ne peult, Sire, croire chose si indigne de vous, mais les lettres mesmes qui sont tombez entre ses mains des Deputez d'Espaigne, et d'aultres, portent clairement telles asseurances. Elle ne peult aussy que le supporter avec beaucoup d'impatience, jusques a ce quelle soit au vray esclaircie par vous mesmes de la verite, et que vous luy ayez faict paroistre, combien il vous desplaist que vos Ministres aient tenu telles procedures en son endroict. Ces lettres des Deputez d'Espaigne, escrites au Cardinal, contienent quils sont acertenez, et par le Legat et par vos Ministres, que votre Mate est resolue de leur donner pouvoir de conclurre son traite particulier si il a empeschement en l'accord de vos Confederez, et que votre Mate consent que vos Deputez signent de part et d'aultre les Articles convenus pour votre accord particulier, lequel seroit baille pour quelque temps entre les mains du Legat, et que vous ne vous attaches maintenant a la formalite de leur consideration, que seulement pour l'acquit d'honneur. Dont s'il plaist a votre Mate avoir plus particuliere cognoissance, je luy remonstreray l'extrait de quelques unes desdictes lettres. Pour aussy asseurer votre Mate, qu'il ny a aulcun artifice ou simulation de la part de la Royne ma Souveraigne en ce que je viens de vous representer, je vous proteste sur mon honneur, et devant le Dieu vivant, comme Monsr. Herbert icy le poura tesmoigner, que l'extrait que je vous exhibe, est le fidelle abrege des lettres qui ont este prises escrites en cyphre par le Cardinal au Roy d'Espaigne, dont les Originaulx sont entre les mains de sa Mate. Et la Royne ma Souveraigne prend merveilleusement a cueur le scandale que ces declarations apportent au prejudice de l'estroicte amitie qui est entre vous. Pour lever lequel soupcon elle ma commande de vous semondre, et conjurer (s'il vous plaist) de luy ouvrir en cecy fidellement vostre cueur, quelles sont vos intentions, et si vous avez faict signer cels Articles ou comande vos deputes d'en faire promesse, et l'en esclaircir, vivement par l'asseurance expresse de vos lettres, mayant commande de ne le communiquer qu'a vous, et ne voulant croire que votre Mate seule, sur la Conscience et Integrite de laquelle elle se repose, qu'elle fera equitable jugement de ses merites que ne pouront ou ne voudront faire ceulx de son Conseil. Et pour ce que sa Mate ait envoye un gentilhomme tout expres pour luy rapporter notre responce, nous supplions bien humblement votre Mate qu'elle se vueille esclaircir sur ce subject, afin que nous pourrions juger, comment nous aurions a nous gouverner pour notre descharge.”
After he had heard this first speech without other interruption saving in this kind, “Ah, cela est fait in Angleterre. La royne ne me trouvera pour tel,” with diverse other broken speeches, sometime smiling in scorn of the invention and sometimes rapping out an oath, all tending to absolute denial, he made this quiet answer : first, that on his honour, and by his part in Paradise, he never gave any such commandment, and that he was sure that his ministers durst not for their heads commit any such act, but still inferring that it was either an artifice of some in England, or of the States. To this we replied, first, that as assuredly as we knew the light from darkness, so truly did we both know that this was no device of England, of Holland, nor of any creature living, but the work of the Cardinal himself, whereof myself in particular, the Secretary, had so perfect knowledge as if he would believe me as a Christian, I did protest upon my religion and faith, that it was nothing but the true letter and the cipher of the Cardinal, wherewith I had reason to be well acquainted, having had divers of them fall into my hands. And therefore it grieved me to see him passionate in distrust, though I joyed to see him passionate in denial of it : assuring him that I did wish my arms and legs broken for coming hither until I had heard him. This we both spake to him with feeling. “Well,” saith he, “I am satisfied, but I did always quit your mistress, and now go on, I pray you,” saith he, “what be these further particular presumptions?” Thereupon I, John Harbert, read unto him this extract inclosed, wherein we used the cautions which I, the Secretary, received also from my Lord my father in his private letter to me. For first we left out any of those articles which showed the King of Spain's readiness to yield him all his desires, because that would have made him proud, and to raise himself towards us : for though we think he knows too well what he shall have of Spain, yet we would not have him think that we know it out of the Spaniard's mouth. Secondly, we left out anything to him that might show to him that the Spaniards meant to offer any injurious conditions to England, for then he would also have thought your Majesty's state the more irreconcilable, and therefore only acquainted him with the reports of Villeroie's speeches, of the Legate's speeches, of Belliurs his speeches, and other things, which we have further set down in the inclosed. When he had heard this he did make this answer, very sensible and orderly, without study, and without advice, for he little dreamed of such an overture we can assure your Majesty, it being not the least works to procure audience so private and settled as we have had no small number. He said that in this matter he observed three things. First, the instructions from the Cardinal to the Spanish Deputies. Secondly, the speeches of the Legate. And thirdly, discourses, speeches and promises of his ministers. For the first he had nothing to do to answer them. The Cardinal might prescribe what he listed, and it was no other like but he would bid his Commissioners propound the hardest. For the Legate's speeches of him, true it was that he had ever showed himself to the Legate to be desirous of a peace, and so had he reason, for his honour was engaged in it, and the Pope had travailed in it, and he must not lose his reputation with them howsoever others contemned peace, wishing us to think whether it be not a pretty time, that he hath kept le bon home the Legate at a beggarly town of Vervyn five months day by day, and only of purpose to see what the Queen of England would do. For the rest, true it was that his Commissioners wrote to him when he went into Brittany that the Spaniards said he meant but to abuse them and make his profit, and that they offered to be gone, and that the Cardinal himself protested that he knew the King of Spain would tax him for that facility which he had shewed already. “Whereupon,” saith he, “I directed them to use all art to keep them together whilst my affairs were accommodated in Brittany, at which very time when he had greatest need, the Queen drew away her succours and left my frontiers naked. This,” saith he, “may have been the cause that my ministers in private discourses have used large speeches of my resolution : but that all is true that the Spanish deputies report to the Cardinal, and that the Cardinal writes to his King, God and I know they have not done it, nor dare not. No, the Queen must think that the Low Countries affects the peace, the Cardinal also for his private, and yet he is accountable to a master that wonders why nothing is done. And therefore the Cardinal (seeing that Brittany is reduced) that I will have the Queen and States included, with whose finesse he is well acquainted (being yet desirous to bring all well to pass if it might be), hath written thus to the King that he may see his careful instructions to his deputies, and what cause the deputies give him still to continue the treaty. Thus it must needs be and nothing else,” saith he, “and so certify the Queen I pray you; for she shall never find me trompeur ni pipeur, and when I have a mind to do such an act I will never deny it, for I had as willingly it were known to-day as to-morrow.” We told him we were glad to hear his Majesty's word so absolute; we hoped he could not find but her Majesty had cause to do what she did, and in this doing she dealt like to her own frank, pure, and royal spirit. He confessed it were true. “But now,” saith he, “that you are satisfied, what doth the Queen say, tell me, to satisfy me? Will she join with me to make peace or no with Spain, now power is come; or will she assist me in such sort as may be for our safety and common profits? You speak nothing directly to me. If she would make me a good offer she should see whether I were so tied as I would not break the treaty.” We then answered him that for your Majesty's drawing away of your troops at the instant, your Majesty had kept him there 15 months, and shipping had been sent for them 3 months before, besides they were sent for Ireland upon extremity, and yet if de Maissy had importuned for them as much as he solicited the peace, your Majesty, we knew, would not have denied them. For the power which he said was come now, that the Estates might know so much we would do our best to persuade them; and as we found them he should hear more. “Well,” saith he, “then must you to Nantes, for I must needs be gone to-morrow.” We told him we had commandment, as we would bear the peril of it, not to proceed further in any matter till we had such satisfaction in ourselves by his answer as might warrant our judgment in not suspending the negotiation, being men better brought up than to doubt such a religious and princely vow of such a prince; yet we could not discharge ourselves entirely, without it would please him to satisfy her Majesty by a letter to herself what he had done, and what he will do. “Well,” saith he, “though she writ not to me, and that I am sure she will not distrust you two, yet will I write that which is fit for a letter as things stand now. “And therefore,” saith he, “you shall have my letter, and besides I will send Villeroy to you to satisfy you particularly what he hath said or done. For this is true, I repeat it again, no such thing is done nor ever was commanded to be done. And where they say that mine did move to send for a new Commission, and that I did say I would write to the Queen to be content : the Queen knows herself that I never writ so unto her, nor never did it proceed but from their motion to send for a new when my servants misliked the former. Build upon it,” saith he. We then departed, and by that time we had been at our lodging some hour, the Duke of Bouyllon came to me, the Secretary, to see me; I having been the day before with the Princess of Orange and the Duchess of Bouyllon. As we were talking, Villeroy and Maissie, who had been with the Estates, came to my lodging and found the Duke with me, who, offering to go away, he stayed him and said he might remain. He then in short began to tell us what the King had said, and following ever the same course which the King did in making show that it was only the Cardinal's device for his own justification, did, in the hearing of the Duke and us, vow (by monstrous oaths) that there was neither any such thing done (as signing) nor any authority given to sign anything. We then did desire him to hasten the King's letter, that we might fall to some resolution, for we wasted time here, and saw others' affairs went on apace. He told us we should, and so we ended. Being desirous now that we were thus driven to the wall to advise with the Estates and with 49 what to do, we must assure your Majesty that we found the Estates resolute not to hearken to treaty. We find all them of the religion absolutely of opinion the King will make peace, and can have no other counsel of them, but that your Majesty must offer him some great help; such is the necessities of Spain, such is the greediness of France, and such is the unremovable resolution of the Estates not to treat any way. We have now delivered your Majesty a true and plain narration, though divers other arguments have passed which we cannot set down, being ashamed to have thus long detained your royal eyes. You know our power that we cannot promise treaty without the States, neither may we discover ourselves to have come over for nothing but inquisition, for then shall we confirm that we were sent only to gain time; so as being driven to use the best of our poor slender judgments, we have resolved of this course, and not without advice in part both of “49” and “95.”
First, to the intent to keep him in expectation we will tell the King that we are sure, when your Majesty is informed of all those particulars, you will quickly resolve to help him or concur with him in the Treaty, to which belongs choice of other commissioners, place and other forms. For the help in particular, we cannot speak it, but therein would be glad to know what he would desire, and for what purpose, that the common utility of it may be discerned by yourself and your Council; for such it may be, as he were as good tell us in plain terms, he doth mean to conclude without your Majesty. Secondly, we will privately tell him, that although we have so sufficient understanding of your Majesty's mind as that we know most of your Majesty's conditions on which you will stand with the Spaniard for the peace, and that we might give the King presently liberty to assure the Spaniard under hand, that he doth find by us no other likelihood now but that your Majesty will send commission to treat, according to the power which is come from them; yet finding now, that the States were so obstinate (which your Majesty believed not when we came from you) we were constrained to desire the King, in respect of that circumstance, that he will give us leave to repair to your Majesty, and that we might carry the States with us, who do contest with us, that they know, howsoever France would use them, yet that your Majesty would hear them also, howsoever afterward your Majesty might resolve to proceed. To this request of theirs, we mean to tell the King that we dare not but condescend, it being past all our rules, that his Majesty can think it safe or honourable, that they should be left out, and therefore we must have new instructions. If we should say we would write home, he would think we would but waste time, and your Majesty shall lack such light as we can give by way of information, though we are far from presumption of thinking to give counsel. Besides, your Majesty may well think that at our parting he will speak in his last and clearest voice to us, whom if he find still content to tarry, he will still hope to draw us on by little and little. The good that your Majesty shall have by this, is this, if he do not follow the greedy and corrupt counsel of this nation, who commonly answer (even the best of them, when there is speech, either of faith or honour's breaking) that necessity hath no law, that every man ought to provide first for himself. Your Majesty shall then win time here, you shall have these two, which are of the best ministers the States have, humble petitioners to you in England, on whom your Majesty will work more in an hour than all your instruments can do in a month. We have also had opportunity to try them now, and can guess somewhat by Barneveldt what may be looked for, for they are past their rules now, and do plainly confess that they see what trust to give France, and have observed what your Majesty's direct proceedings are. By this course your Majesty shall find it fit, by taking some good resolution, to disorder the present facility of the French King's peace, which being once disjointed will not so easily be set together. Your Majesty will see that they will do as much in it to ease you as can be found reasonable, rather than your Majesty should leave them. If on the other side your divine judgment resolve that it is better to suffer France to make peace alone than further to help him, then is your Majesty by this means eased of sending to the States, with whom, howsoever things go, we think your Majesty will newly consult, for things stand (to our poor understanding) now but rawly, come peace or war. And therefore we will so use it as Barnevelt shall voluntarily come creeping to you, who, we assure your Majesty, is wise, and with whom we have had so many and particular conferences almost once a day since we met; as in many things Your Majesty shall make very good use in omnem eventum of their coming to seek you, and not the worse when you have heard our poor informations : for we must plainly lay before your Majesty that although the King hath said in both our hearings as much as we have written, and that if he be not a monster, he hath said true of that which is past : yet both of us (and I, the Secretary, especially, who have had access many times, and have heard him in many humours, sometime upon sudden in liberal speech, and sometime serious, discover himself to me with his ends and his natural disposition), dare not say other to your Majesty than that I fear France will be France and leave his best friends, though to his own future ruin, to which I think God hath ordained it.
The States have been with the King since our audience, and have made him direct offer to continue the former four thousand, and more to any good purpose, and have plainly laid before him that neither the law of God nor man will suffer him to leave them. They have returned to us, and have passionately reported his answers to be this, that his friends had helped him long, and that he hopes after two years' peace to order all things, and to be able to help them if they need. So as they are in despair, and now only attend to see what he will say to us, to whom he never yet used any such language. If your Majesty conceive that it may be he doth this to merchant upon us and them, we submit ourselves to your opinion; but your Majesty sees too well by the intercepted letters how near he is to his own conditions. And therefore, if your Majesty should think we do this to have further instructions from you to make him some particular offers, we do protest against it, for we should but abuse your Majesty to desire it; but we will come provided by way of discourse (without engaging you) to inform you what it is they would have, and how they would offer it should be used for any good to your Majesty : which when we have told you, then is it for you and your Council there to advise of either way, whether your Majesty shall do anything for him in the war, or leave him to his peace, and stand upon yourself with the States. Of both which ways be it far from us to judge, not doubting if you shall be driven to the last way of proceeding, that God and your cause will defend you, though your Majesty cannot but consider that the state of Ireland and Scotland both are greatly changed since '88, when France was not in war with Spain.
This do we humbly represent to your Majesty as an argument that we are near our furthest inquisition, having found more than we wish, and therefore mean now to labour only to this end that when we have enquired, and informed, and used all the strength of our instructions, we may leave things unconcluded, so as you may have the liberty of election. This if we can do, we hope we shall do no ill service. If his answer shall be either directly partial to himself, or such as we find he is content that we should so construe, then in that case, as the Estates have already spoken plainly to him (according to our agreement with them) and mean to pursue it when they are upon despatch from Nantes, so I, the Secretary, will let him know that your Majesty, before he was King, and since, when all the world had abandoned him, did royally assist him, and thereby brought him to be capable of these conditions, which now have made him change his language; and notwithstanding all contracts before, or treaties since, your Majesty never received performance of anything : and whereas he doth still insist upon the necessity that presseth him, your Majesty must needs take that but as a fair evasion, out of that to which both public faith and infinite benefits by greater necessity doth bind him. And because he seemeth to say that your Majesty draws things to length, and that we are come over to gain time, I will likewise invert it upon him, that his drawing us hither (from whence we can have no returns of our despatches) hath been the only cause of any protraction. And if he will say that we ought to have had provisional commission (which is common in their mouths) we will tell them that provisional instructions are always by princes left to the judgment of their ministers to declare them upon accidents of circumstances, and that in this case, judgment doth teach us to be in some things reserved until we see how your Majesty can satisfy the Estates to treat without them, if he shall once have given them but such a final answer : your Majesty having never before received into your thoughts any conceit that he could think it lawful or expedient; and therefore that your Majesty must hear them as well as he hath done before you would like that we should give him the dernier mot. Besides, we will tell him plainly that without a sight of a copy of the Commission, your Majesty cannot send anybody to the treaty; for if the King of Spain speak of the Pope in this Commission, which hath relation to your Majesty, or use any other punctillio which may carry any inequal sense, your Majesty will disdain to send any commissioners thither. So as I will let him see plainly that if either his demands for the war be so exorbitant, as your Majesty shall find they be but motives to be denied, or if he or any of his ministers can think your Majesty will be carried post into a treaty, where so many new circumstances are to be considered, they will be deceived, and his Majesty will never be able to justify his separation before God or man, when he doth either well consider his sacred vows, of which the Earl of Shrewsbury is witness, or remember how many men's lives, and what sums of treasure, your Majesty hath spent for his conservation; wherein we will be bold, as we shall see cause, to know of him also, what course your Majesty shall expect for the present payments of all those debts which he doth owe your Majesty, seeing now his now amity will free him from all his necessities. We do send your Majesty herewith his letter which we required to warrant our report, wherein when we noted the style to be too bare, and did insist to have it mended, we were plainly answered that many ways letters are intercepted, that he had spoken to us at large already whom he thought your Majesty would trust. He was a prince sovereign, and desired to be believed as other princes would be, and that if the Spaniards should intercept his letters, it would put no small jealousy into their heads, and then your Majesty might haply care less for him. But to tell your Majesty truly, I, the Secretary, know it affirmatively by good means that he was persuaded that such a letter it might have been as I would have caused to have been conveyed to the enemy's knowledge by some means or other. Now hath your Majesty all which we have done, can do, or think fit to be done; wherein if your Majesty think it shall be used without discretion, we have then enjoyed (and I, the Secretary, especially) too much of your Majesty's former trust. I humbly beseech your Majesty therefore to be in no pain through any such apprehension, for I thank God nature hath not made me so lavish nor violent, though I protest to your Majesty if his ingratitude shall now appear when it shall come to trial, I shall in my heart abhor him, for he hath both wit, courage, and means to do otherwise, although as a carnal natural man it may be said that it is primâi facie the longest way about to seek that by war which he may get by peace. And thus beseeching the ever-living God to bless your Majesty with perfect health and eternal happiness, we most humbly take our leaves.
Postscript.—Your Majesty shall find by the letter from the King how he doth “bawke” the denial of his ministers speaking to sign the articles, though he writeth plainly that they have not signed, nor never had commandment to sign. I desired to see the copy of the letter, and did plainly expostulate, why he did not as well in the letter disavow that point as the other, having so fully forsworn both. I am termed too curious, and that the King had said enough if reason would serve, and so much as any Christian would believe : but for the king under his hand to disavow his ministers' doing (to whom he gave leave to use large words in extremity, to keep them from breaking off at that time), he would not do it, by my leave, for so might this use be made of it, that the Spaniard finding that they would say that for which they had no warrant in one thing, might well think they would say so in others. To tell your Majesty my replies were to be more tedious, but in short I must either take this, or nothing; for it hath made me stay my despatch five days, for I could not forbear but to let them see that it was necessity, and not simplicity, that made it be accepted, and in my conscience the King's ministers did speak of it : but which of the parties he meant to disguise withal, I dare not judge, because he is one of the Lord's anointed.
Endorsed :—“5th of April, 1598. Copy of our letter to her Majesty, for my Lord Cobham and Sir John Stanhope, from Nantes.”
Printed in extenso in Birch's “Historical View of the Negotiations between England, France, and Brussels,” pp. 141–157.
(63. 100.)
Mons. Monet to the Earl of Essex.
1598, April 6/16. Has opened to the bearer all his heart touching the present state of Boulogne, which is in great danger, believing that Essex's greatness and humanity will receive and comfort him as is fitting in all things tending to the good of the two kingdoms. The gentleman would have come in search of him sooner had he not been hindered by affairs of importance, as well for the service of Essex as for the public. Begs to be honoured with one word of reply.—From Boulogne, 16 April, 1598.
French. Signed.
1 p. (176. 143.)
Captain Edward Prynne to the Earl of Essex.
1598, April 7/17. I have written unto you since my coming to Morlaix of the going away of the Spaniards out of Prymela, and how that here we had news by the way of Brest and other ways, that the Spanish Army at Ferroll made themselves ready with all haste, supposed to be for this country to supply Bluet, where my lord the Marshal of Brisac goeth to lay the siege, having the whole commandment of the army. Since, here are news come by a bark of St. Gills in Holone that comes out of “Lyxsborne,” how that the Adelantado should be arrived to “Lyxsborne” with forty galleys, four galliases, and that the report was there he should join with the ships that are at Ferroll, in number some threescore, as we hear. Unless the French King have some strong army by sea before Bluet his siege will be of small effect, for that the enemy is very strong within, and having the sea to friend it will be a long and a dangerous siege. There is within the town and castle of Bluet some thousand Spaniards, four hundred Portugals, three hundred Italians, and since those that were at Prymela are gone to the number of one hundred very brave men and well armed; of the which there were some forty musketeers. Her Majesty's ambassadors have been at Anges with the French King the 15th of this month, they should go to Nantes with the King. The Marshal of Brisac means to be afore Bluet the 25th of this month new style; the King will be there some six days after.—At Morlaix, the 17th of April, 1598.
Holograph. Seal.
pp. (176. 144.)
Sir Edward Wotton to Sir Robert Cecil.
1598, April 7. My Lord Ambassador, only three words : I love, I honour you unfeignedly.—From my house in Kent the 7 of April, 1598.
Holograph. Seal.
¼ p. (60. 80.)
William Tooke to Sir Robert Cecil.
1598, April 8. My lord your father hath continued in ill-health ever since your going into France. He hath been from the Court this se'nnight and more, and doth yet remain at his own house in the Strand. Mr. William and Mistress Frances are in very good health.—From the Court at Whitehall this 8 of April, 1598.
Signed. Seal.
½ p. (60. 81.)
Edward, Lord Zouche to Sir Robert Cecil.
1598, April 8. Excuse my writing, instead of coming in person, to congratulate you on your safe return.—Hackney, this 8 of April (sic).
Holograph. Endorsed :—“8 May, 1598.” Seal.
¾ p. (60. 82.)
The Deputies of the States General to the Earl of Essex, the Earl of Nottingham and Lord Buckhurst.
1598, April 10. We are compelled by express charge of the States General to represent to your Excellencies, the complaints made by the Estates of Zealand against the Sieur Sydney (“Sidne”), H.M. Governor of Flushing, of having detained ships laden with foreign corn bound for Spain and Portugal. He pleads her Majesty's command, but we must ask that for the future all such arrests may be forbidden. They are in direct contradiction to the treaty between her Majesty and the United Provinces, in which it is stipulated that the governors of the Cautionary towns are only to have authority for the safe keeping and defence of the said towns, and are actually not to intermeddle with matters of municipal police, much less to make arrests to the prejudice of entire Provinces. Under correction, we submit that what is unlawful should not be commanded. We are aware of her Majesty's objection to the transport of corn; but even if a prohibition had been promulgated the governors would have no right to intermeddle with its execution, still less to make arrests before any prohibition has been agreed to. The Estates of Zealand complain, with reason, that these hindrances directed against their trade in particular are diverting traffic from their country. May it, therefore, please your Excellencies to be a mean unto her Majesty for order to be taken for the governors to cease from making these arrests, and that all navigation may be treated alike. With reference to the proposals regarding the said transport made on several occasions to the States General by the Sieur Councillor Gilpin on her Majesty's behalf, we are charged to deliver, herewith, the reasons which compel the Estates to refrain from giving an immediate assent; having thought it unfit to mingle those reasons with the subject of our principal charge. We humbly beseech that a suitable and profitable answer may be vouchsafed us, so that we may speedily return to our superiors, the States General, as we are commanded.
Signatures of Jehan de Duvenvoird, Johan van Hottinga, Jan van Warck, and Noel de Caron.
French. 2½ pp. (60. 85.)
John Udale to the Earl of Essex.
1598, April 10. Grymes arrived with me the 3rd of this month, who presently sent into Scotland for the party, but as yet I hear nothing thence. I pray God the repair of B[othwell] make not some alteration, but hourly I expect answer and access. The King and Queen are looked for at Dumfries the 20th of this month, the college there prepared for her lodging, where it is said the Court will remain divers months. The Duke of Holster maketh a high and solemn feast the 13th of this month, where B[othwell] his peace shall be consummated. The Jesuit father Creighton, as they call him, negotiateth for Spain, and hath great and exceeding good applause with the King and the Duke.
At the King's coming into these frontiers it is said he reconcileth three principal men of note, Buccleugh, Sesford and Joynston [Johnstone], together with the Maxwell, which is thought will be hard to do, so long have they been at deadly feud.
Dakers, the lord Dakers, for so they call him here, came to Dumfries, accompanied with the same Carr I writ of, and now one Lydyngton associateth them all of the Spanish faction for the life. They have had divers conventions at the lord Harrysses, a Maxwell, at his house they call Tregells within two mile of Dumfries. They daily have frequented these borders as far as Grating within one English mile of the river of Esk.
Now the rumour passeth here for current that he is there with your lordship's good applause, and that your lordship mediateth his peace, which, if it be not, may lead to dangerous practices enough, especially amongst a people but over inclined unto him already; and so under that may he make his own way the better. For over and besides his letter conveyed unto your lordship under cover of the packet, he hath intelligence here, especially with one Leiz Grahme, sometime his man, who hath been with him at Dumfries about the 5th of this month, and is now idly up and down here, depending upon John Dakers of Leanard Cost.
Buccleugh hath written two letters, with a superscribed lion as to his lawful friends, to John Dakers and Richard Lowther : what may pass under this I leave to your lordship. Dakers since is removed from Dumfries to a place called Comclougen, the laird of Cocpoull . . . . , abutting just upon the sea in the foot of Annandale, somewhat beyond the Solway Sands, where a ship of great burden may ride at anchor; accompanied still with Carr and Ledyngton, together with an Italian and a Frenchman.
The Jesuit whom I wrote of lieth and abideth for the most part at the lord of Sanquhair's house, who is certainly said to be in the Low Countries negotiating with the Cardinal. What prospect your lordship thinketh all this may have I leave to your judgment, aiming no further than I shall be limited by you.—Bramton, this 10th of April. [P.S.]—My brother will deliver you some idle papers wherein you shall see time idly bestowed.
The words in italics above are in cipher.
2 pp. (176. 140.)
Sir Edward Norreys to the Earl of Essex.
1598, April 11. By the examination which herewith I do send your lordship you will perceive the Cardinal's desire to have this place by all means possible. He hath now mustered all his forces, as well garrisons as others, and given them two months' pay to be ready to be drawn into the field. He hath shipped cannon at Antwerp, Ghent, “Macklynes,” and other places, summoned waggons and pioneers, pretending to besiege Berk in Geldersand; but the richters serve well to bring all those provisions to this place, so that considering the base practices which he hath in hand I do assuredly look for him here, where I will attend him with good devotion, and hope by the grace of God to see the ruin of his army, not doubting but how small account soever her Majesty hath made to me of the places of any service that I can do in it, yet she will be pleased to be compelled not to lose it; which makes me also hope to see you here, where I will provide you lodging, and here and ever wish you all honour and happiness.—Ostend, this 11 April, 1598.
2 pp. (176. 141.)
The Earl of Essex to Francis Dacre.
1598, April 13. I have received your letter and imparted it to her Majesty, by whom I am commanded to return this answer. That though you have very much discredited your own professions of repentance of your former courses, by your sudden and suspicious going into Scotland, when her Majesty had granted you a pension of £200 a year, and that gracious resolution of her Majesty was signified to you; yet now, if at last her Majesty may see that you will cut off causes of jealousy to be had of you, and to be directed to live in some place that shall not make you mistrusted, then, I say, her Majesty will continue her purpose of giving you this pension presently for your maintenance, and will dispose herself to enlarge it when your dutiful carriage shall have induced her thereunto. If you mean to claim favour by this signification of her Majesty's gracious favour, you must return present answer to Mr. H. Lee, and do nothing directly or indirectly which will cross the pretence you make.—From the Court this 13 of April.
Her Majesty doth also require that your son dispose himself as he shall be directed, which is meant to be with yourself, who shall be answerable for him.
Endorsed :—“Copy of my L. letter to Fra. Dacre. 13 April, 1598.”
¾ p. (60. 86.)
M. Noel de Caron to Lord Burghley.
1598, April 14. I hope to have no further cause to trouble you concerning ordnance, for I have written to the States General to say that I will make no more in the matter. I have also written to Lord Buckhurst, who helped me before the departure of your son the Secretary, and obtained the licence for the twenty pieces comprised in her Majesty's letter to you. Lord Sackville, Lord Buckhurst's son, has delivered the last pieces granted by her Majesty to the States. He has also sent over a cannonier to prove the pieces. There are two pieces in the last delivery, and three before that, which he has to make good to me. I shall, therefore, want leave to transport those five pieces, and I beseech you, therefore, that the letters of Warrant to the customers of Lewes and Chichester may be for twenty-five pieces in all. To show that I do not mean to be always pleading burst guns, I have had the last mentioned pieces accepted unconditionally. If they will burst, burst they may.—Clapham, 14 April, 1598.
French. Holograph. Seal.
1 p. (60. 89.)
Plot to Assassinate Sir Ed. Norreys.
1598, April 14. Confession librement faict et depose sans aulcun tourment ni tourture par Jehan Storm, natif de Weenen en Oostrice, Cirugin du fort de Nieuwendamme, c'estant venu rendre en ceste garnison d'Oostende le 14e d'Avril et confesse se que s'ensuit en presence des Capitaines du Conseil de guerre de ceste ditte ville, 1598.
Venant de Weenan, est entre Coloigne et Aix en certain lieu nomme Inder villen, prins et despouillé, estante despuis relaxé s'et retiré a Bruxelles avec intention de faire son mestier et stile sans se meller d'aulcuenes sinistres affaires.
Estant arrive a Bruxelles at trouvé un homme de sa coignoisance, ancien serviteur aultresfois de l'Archiduc Mathias, lequel il prioit le vouloir soubvenir de quelques acoustremens. Et entrant plus oultre en coignoissance avec le dit serviteur l'incitoit a boire en la rue nommé La Berckstrate. Et en bevant entrirent en diverses propos, entre lesquelles le serviteur vient a dire “si vous estez maintenant pouvre je vous feray devenir en peu de temps riche.” Surquoy il respondoit, “si je pourroi gaigner quelque chose avec honneur et que se ne fust avec le diable je seroys tres content.” Le serviteur le demandoit derechef s'il vouloit venir parler a son maistre, car il at le moyen (disoit il) de vous enricher : lequel estoit le Secretaire du Cardinael nommé Wastenacher.
Trois jours apres vint parler audit Secretaire le resmontrant pareillement sa necessite, le requirant d'aide et assistence pour se remettre en ordre; surquoy le dit Secretaire le demandoit d'ou et de que pays il estoit, et apres l'avoir bien enterrogue le commandoit d'aller disner avec ses serviteurs. Estant retourné a l'heure assigne ledit Secretaire luy disoit qu'il feroit bien de se mettre en quelque compaigne, surquoy il respondoit le soubhaiter extremement affin de se remettre en ordre. Le Secretaire repliquoit—“Si vous voulez je vous feray venir en peu de temps homme de grandes moyens; et puis que nous sommes tous deulx d'un pays je vous vouldroy bien fier quelque mien secret.”
Surquoy le dit prisonnier respondoit, “j'ay aulcunesfois guerri secretes maladies de femmes, pourquoy ne me fieroit votre Seigneurie!” Respondoit le Secretaire, “Se ne sont pas de telles affaires mais d'aultres de plus grande importance desquelles avons de traitter. Et je vous ammeneray devant son Alteze et si vous le donnez a coignoistre a personne l'occasion pourquoy je vous feray mettre en quatre pieces.” A quoy il respondoit bien vouloir scavoir l'occasion d'estre ainsi mis en quatre pieces; “car je ne veus rien faire que seroit an prejudice de mon salut.” Le Secretaire respondoit vous gaigneres le ciel avec.
Le lendemain le Secretaire le fist donner un manteau noir affin de le conduire devant son Alteze : mais pour celle fois n'avoit la commodité de parler a cause que le Prince d'Orainge, Conte d'Arenberg et plusieurs aultres Seigneurs de qualité estoient avec le Cardinael.
Le jour apres estant le Cardinael en la messe, fust conduict par le dit Secretaire en la secrete chambre du mesme Cardinael. Entrant en la chambre le Cardinael defendoit de ne laisser personne entrer. Et venant devant le Cardinael le fist la deue reverence, tirant son Secretaire appart le demandoit si questo era la persona; respondoit que ouy. Le Cardinael le demandoit s'il vouldroit faire une chose par laquel il gaigneroit le ciel? Respondoit le prisonnier, “Tres illustre Seigneur, si je pouvois gaigner le ciel avec choses honestes je seroy prest pour l'accomplir.”
Respondoit le Cardinael, il n'y auray point de dangier mais si en cas que perdes la vie votre ame sera sauve. Repliquoit le dit prisonnier, je ne vouldroy rien attenter par où mes parens pourroient recepvoir blasme. Le Cardinael respondoit, voz parens ne recepveront aulcun blasme, et en cas que vous retournies je vous feray devenir un puissant homme et riche. Surquoy il dict qu'en estoit content s'il pouvoit venir au but.
Le Cardinael respondoit qu'il en avoit une petite ville et qu'il ordonneroit quelque lieu la alentour pour se tenir en quelque compagnie, et que la vilette se nommoit Oostende ou il devroit faire le service, disant que aultresfois il avoit este devant pour le gaigner, mais n'avoit sceu rien exploicter : Et qu'il estoit necessaire de se laisser prendre des gens de la dite vilette et apres se mettre en service comme barbier affin de parvenir an bout de son desseing, que estoit de tirer le Gouverneur par quelque moyen ou aultre. Et que a celle fin il metteroit un couteau en sa manche, et quand le Gouverneur luy feroit venir pour parler en sa presence que au mesme instant il le mist en son ventre.
Et estant en ceste propos survint le Prince d'Orainge, sur quoy le Secretaire le menoit en une aultre chambre ou il estoit plus d'un heure, mais a la fin fust ramene par un aultre serviteur au logis du dit Secretaire ou il fust bien traité. Le lendemain estant au logis du dit Secretaire fust remande par le Cardinael, et en cheminant luy persuada le Secretaire qu'il eust a obeir en tout ce que son Alteze le commanderoit, et qu'il se pourroit asseurer d'estre faict un homme riche.
Estant en la presence du Cardinael luy demandoit s'il avoit bien retenu tout ce que a hier l'avoit dit; surquoy il respondoit que ouy, le faisant repeter toutes les propos qui avoient estez tenues et s'il failloit en quelqu'un estoit ayde par le Cardinael.
Dernierement luy disoit qu'il failloit tuer un Gouverneur par quelque moyen que se fust et s'il ne pouvoit avec un petit cousteau qu'il auroit couvert en sa manche tuer, lequel seroit empoisonne avec eaues pestiferez (luy monstrant mesme la façon de faire), il feroit un massapain d'une excelente beauté comme en estant maistre, et un peu brunette affin que le poison ne fust descouvert; car y en auray des aultres, disoit le Cardinael, qui en mangeront, mais il n'emporte rien car s'et (sic) tout une canaille; luy monstrant par son Secretaire leffige du Gouverneur si naiffvement contrefaict qu'il estoit esmerveille quand il venoit en la presence du dit Gouverneur de le veoir si au viff, et cela estoit affin de ne faillir a son entreprinse et prendre un aultre en lieu du Gouverneur. Respondoit qu'il feroit tout ce que luy seroit possible.
Sur quoy le Cardinael luy dict, “Soit a la bonne heure mais faites diligence et avisez bien a vos affaires, et si par ceste moyen ne pouvez rien accomplir demain je vous diray des aultres moyens.” Et sur ce revint au logis du dit Secretaire ou il estoit environ 7 ou 8 jours sans estre remandé. Dit aussy qu'il en at plusieurs aultres expedie pour le mesme effect mais qu'il ne les coignoist; toutesfois que le Gouverneur se garde de parler avecques estrangiers.
Estant despuis remande par le Cardinael y fust conduict sur un soir en estant le Prince d'Orange, lequel a sa venue incontinent se retiroit. Le Cardinael le disoit si en cas que avec le cousteau envenimé ni le massapain empoisonne contre le Gouverneur ordonné ne poures rien faire, il prepareroit certain eau avec une blanche pouldre avec laquelle il empoisonneroit toutes les eaulx de la ville principalement d'ou on tire l'eau pour le service du Gouverneur d' Oostende.
Estant les eaues empoisonnées metteroit le feu avec une meche et pouldre en trois ou quatre endroits de la ville, le Cardinael mesme le monstrant combien de meche sur un heure peult brusler. Et que cecy ne seroit pas execute que avant bien estre asseure que quelque bateau devroit partir par Zeelande affin de se retirer avec icelle et s'estant sauve s'arresteroit a la premiere ville, changeroit ses accoustremens et mettre unes blanches qu'il avoit desoubs les aultres : et changant pareillement son nom affin de n'estre recognu. Et que puis apres il ne diroit plus qu'il estoit barbier mais se donner pour faiseur du sucere, et aviser toutes moyens pour se mettre au service de celluy qui faict les confittures de son excellence le Conte Mauritio, seulement pour simple serviteur pour faire toutes les choses de la maison; et que avec le temps donneroit a cognoistre qu'il estoit expert au mesme mestier, et que quand il seroit asseure que quelque massapains se feroient pour son Excellence qu'il feroit une eaue nomme en alleman Hidrich, lequel il mesleroit en la paste du dit massepain affin de le faire mourir. Et au de partir d'avec le Cardinael le donnoit la benediction avec la main, le recommandant a la bonne heure avec l'absolution de toutes ses peches. Se retiroit puis apres au logis du dit secretaire mais fust le lendemain conduict par un serviteur au logis du Prince d'Orainge lequel luy dict qu'il acheveroit tout ce que le Cardinael l'avoit commande.
Deulx ou trois jours apres, partit avec le serviteur du dit Secretaire vers Anvers ayant premierement receu dilx florins et l'accoustrement duquoy il estoit accoustre, disant qu'on luy eust bien volu donner quelque habillement de velours mais que cela ne convirendroit pour accomplir son entreprinse, le donnant pour moindre suspicion un livre de prieres composes par Martin Luther.
Estant arrive en Anvers le serviteur du dit Secretaire le donna une lettre au capitaine Otto Welsel pour le faire convoyer vers Nieuwendamme, ayant pareillement un pacquet de lettres secretes addressantes au Gouverneur de Nieupoort. Arrive que fust a Bruges set achemine vers Nieuwendam avec la lettre du dit capitaine Otto Welsel pour le recepvoir en la compagnie.
Deulx jours apres s'et retire avec conge du dit capitaine vers Nieupoort avec excuses d'achapter aulcunes medicamments necessaires mais c'estoit pour adresser les dites lettres. Estant a Nieupoort s'et addresse envers le logis du dit Gouverneur mais a cause qu'il estoit a table fust contrainct d'attendre jusque apres disner. L'heure venue at delivre les dites lettres es meyns du dit Gouverneur lequel le fist attendre plus de deulx heures devant que parler a luy. Finablement le Gouverneur le defendoit avec mille menasses de personne communiquer les dites affaires. Trois jours apres est parti le dit Gouverneur de Nieuport vers Bruxelles le commandant de rétourner a Nieuwendam et en attendre jusques a son retour mais sur tout d'estre secret.
Estant le dit Gouvernour de retour le demandoit s'il avoit este secret en ses affaires : respondoit que ouy, le disant que n'estoit encores heure pour faire quelque chose a cause que le Gouverneur d'Oostende estoit encores en Angleterre. Quelque jours apres fust remande par le dit Gouverneur de Nieupoort, le disant comme le Governeur d'Oostende estoit retourne, et que le temps se presentoit pour advancer son entreprinse, et qu'il avoit tres bonne commodite pour tuer le dit Gouverneur a cause que tous ceulx qui se venont rendre il l'examine en secret, et que alors avec un petit cousteau que la dit Gouverneur luy presentoit empoisonne il le pourroit facillement mettre dedans la ventre, commandant apres a son barbier luy furnir toutes sortes d'impoisements necessaires, princepalement une rasine bouille en eaues pestiferes et venimeuses, ce que tout fust trouve sur luy. Et ayant receu un escu de France avec la benediction de nostre damme du dit Gouverneur, s'et retourne Nieuwendamme estant un Vendredi qu'il partit de Nieupoort. Et le dimanche apres venoit de nuict vers Oostende, et voyant la sentinelle perdue demanda se rendre, et estant faict entrer demanda incontinent parler au Gouverneur, disant qu'il n'estoit pas venue poir demeurer.
Le lendemain estant examine il ne volut rien confesser, seulement insista vouloir parler au Governeur mesme. Estant en sa presence et mene apart il se jetta a genoulx, priant au Gouverneur luy vouloir sauver la vie qu'il luy declareroyt la plus grande trahison du monde : et ainsi luy descouvryt tout ce que dessus.
Endorsed by Essex's secretary :—“Confession of John Storm, 14 April, 1598, suborned by the Cardinal to murther Sir Ed. Norrys.”
pp. (176. 145.)