Cecil Papers: March 1598, 16-25

Pages 84-102

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

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


March 1598, 16–25

J. de Duvenvorrd, Noel de Caron, Johan van Holtinga, and Jan van Warch, Deputies from the States-General of the United Provinces.
1597/8, March 16. We delivered our credentials, and expressed the regret with which the States had heard from the Sieur de Buzanval, the French Ambassador to them, of the King of France being in treaty with the ministers of the Cardinal of Austria for a peace, although consoled to some extent on learning that his Majesty was rather inclined to continue the war, provided he could count on his allies.
We also expressed the joy of the States at the wise and prudent resolution of her Serene Majesty which had been communicated to them in writing by the Sieur Gilpin, her Councillor at the Council of the Estates.
We mentioned that the Estates had resolved to send an envoy to the French king, to get the negociations broken off, and, if necessary, to make offer of assistance. The success of this mission must depend on her good resolution, and the Estates had therefore resolved to send to her Majesty to advertise her of the project, and to ask her to despatch to France a solemn embassy to the same end and with the same offers.
But her Majesty having already sent the Sieur Cecil, her Councillor and Secretary of State, as Ambassador to France, we hope that sufficient may already have been done.
The fullest powers, we said, had been given to the envoys of the United Provinces sent into France; namely, the Sieurs Justin de Nassau, admiral of Zeeland, and Oldenbarnevelt, advocate of Holland; and we were confident his Majesty would, in the interests of his realm, of his allies and of the Protestant world, prefer a war of righteousness to a peace of peril.
Who could doubt the righteousness of war against a King who had sought to oust him from his realm of France and to seize it for himself. Not to speak of the kingdom of Navarre usurped by the Spaniard's predecessors.
The surrender of a few small towns could not weigh against so many great provinces and towns of France ravaged and ruined by means of the King of Spain.
The pretended peace would lead to civil war; there being plenty of great people in France to force the French King into a war with those of the reformed religion at the instigation of the Pope and of the King of Spain.
The Pope would never yield to, or maintain, anything contrary to the Romish religion, the foundation of his estate. Even should the present Pope do so, his act would be annulled by his successor.
The French King would thus only exchange a foreign for a domestic war. For France in her present condition peace is impossible.
The King of Spain, on the contrary, would enjoy his Indies, draw thence into Spain great store of silver and gold, and raise great armadas of many galleons in security and in secrecy, till it should please him to begin fighting again.
The might and malevolence of Spain should be motive enow to all princes to band together against him.
The authority and power of governor was given by Almighty God to kings and princes to provide for all dangers, even by means of arms. So is He called the God of battles, who giveth the victory to whom He will.
In addition to these reasons the French King is bound unto her Majesty by an alliance in which the States General are also included.
We besought her Majesty to support us, pointing out that still less than with France would treaties be observed with her, a schismatic, with whom by Papists' law no faith should be kept. Let her Majesty recall what happened on her accession to the crown. The King of Spain and the Pope bear a perpetual hatred to her, and the chief aim of the first is to break up our league, divide its forces, and crush the members in detail.
The Estates recognized her Majesty's great expenses, as well in the entertainment of forces in France and in the United Provinces as in sending out the last great army at sea, which, although it had fallen short of her hopes, yet, by detaining the Spanish King's army, had cost him much, and prevented his attending to the Netherlands, so that the French King had found means to reconquer the important town of Amiens, while the armies of the Estates, under the valorous leading of Prince Maurice had carried several towns, and freed a whole quarter of the land.
And, although the Estates were already overburdened by ordinary charges for their armies, assistance continued to the King of France, and for the ships which joined her Majesty's army, as well as by the extraordinary charge of putting into the field the necessary material, nevertheless they would oblige themselves, even beyond their proper ability, till the King and her Majesty were contented.
So we besought her humbly to make any necessary additions to the instructions of the said Sieur Cecil her Ambassador, especially as touching the means and conduct of the war.
That Sieur Cecil be instructed not only to hinder the treaty but to effect the rupture of all negociations.
French. Signed. Undated. Endorsed:—“16 de Mars, 1598.”
pp. (60. 46.)
A Copy of the above.
pp. (60. 45.)
Balar de Moucheron to the Earl of Essex.
1597/8, March 16/26. Celles qu'il a pleu a V. Excem' escrire par le Capn. Davis et par ung gentil homme de votre maison me son parvennues, et par icelles entendu le conge que V. Exce les at donne pour faire le voyage des Indes Orientales. A la verite je me sens entirement vostre oblige pour ce bien faict et ne puis me contenir d'en remercier V. Exce tres humblement. J'espere qu'a ladvenir tous ceulx qui a present font le voyage serviront pour quelque bon effect et pour estoupper l'une des veynues qui pourveoynt a ce Roy nostre ennemy des moyens a nous faire la guerre et troubler toute la Crestiente, et que lopinion que jusques a present a este entre nous et doultres de nostre calibre de ny avoir moyen de denischer ceste Nation farouche dentre ce peuple de peu de courage cessera. Or, Dieu loue, nos navires sont parties le 24 de ce mois en deliberation de bien faire, et le gentil homme de vostre maison les rencontra a la sortir de ceste riviere. De sorte que pareillement il c'est embarque, estant bien aise, que puis que Exce men faisoit la requeste qu'il este arrive a sy bon poinct car je seray en toutes occurences bien aise qu'il se presente occasion par lesquelles selon mon petit pouvoir je puisse me revenger par tres humbles services du bien et honneur qu'il a pleu a V. Exce nous faire.—De vostre maison a Middelbourg, 26 Mars, 1598.
Endorsed :—“M. de Moucheron touching Mr. Tomkins' entertainment with him in the journey for the East Indies.”
1 p. (204. 109.)
Lord Sheffield to Sir Robert Cecil.
1597/8, March 17. I have received your letter and request which I am sorry should be no greater, considering how much I desire to shew my gratefulness for your many favours in a much higher degree. The thing you desire shall be performed without your further trouble if I may but be advertised from you directly what kind of deer and of what age you would have, and where they should be delivered. Likewise let me know against what time you would have them, because of the kinds being with calf, if you mean to have any of the females.—17 March.
Holograph. Seal, broken.
2/3 p. (49. 76.)
Sir Robert Ker to Sir Robert Carey, Warden of the Middle Marches of England.
1597/8, March 18. I have looked ever since your going from these parts for some resolute answer in the matters debated betwixt your Lordship and me before your away going. Now is the time to accomplish if there be any possibility in these turns; if not, I would be plainly dealt with. The reasons wherefore it is meet that safe and quiet order be taken with these pledges, and all other unsettled grudges on the Borders are known to yourself as to me, so unnecessary to be repeated. The state of the country is as you left it, and so will you find it again. You may well hear reasons there where ye are used, that the restraint of the pledges is more meet nor their ease. I trust I need not to inform you on that, for I am assured you will not be deceived with suppositions; the certainties “seine” unto you before you went from these parts. Who knows not the true estate of things must be excused, but your Lordship, I trust, will both inform, persuade, and resolve that tempering of extremities shall be the most assured band of quietness, and the pledges' relief on both sides shall draw more benefit to the subjects than their present estate can do. I protest I lay apart affections that may be supposed I carry to the persons of the men, and speak in this matter as may be best for the general estate of the countries, if it may stand with their Majesties' and advised council's good liking. I durst engage my best moyence and what I were worth, if it pleaseth their Highnesses, to try that relief on reasonable conditions should draw more ease, gain, and contentment to the subjects, and so certainly to the peace, and in the end more honour to the princes, than ever shall prove if that turn be otherwise prosecuted; for I think you will say with me, as things are, no man is helped. They spend that should have spared to the help of the damnified, and yet “riks” not to the fourth part of their own entertainment. They wreck themselves and their friends, and yet he who entertains them makes no use of his winning. If punishment should gar them ken their faults, poverty compels them again to wickedness. If it be thought those in authority should restrain them, it may be answered, many desperate that have no means how to live, as there is on both sides, will be hard to be ruled, having the loss of their friends joined to their own wreck by these extraordinary charges. I will not insist more, but leave this to yourself to consider and to be dealt in as you think most expedient. Always for our own discharge it is best that the perils be seen, and let those who have the power help them as they think meetest, as I wish you. I shall do myself where I am to my uttermost to draw things in that temper.—Cesfurd, the 18th of March.
Holograph. Endorsed :—“1597, March 18. Read.'
1 p. (49. 63.)
The Privy Council to Lord Burghley, as Lieutenant of the County of Hertford.
1597/8, March 19. It is doubted that there has been some intermission of ordinary musters, the reformation whereof at this time is most necessary to be pursued, when it is understood that the common enemy continueth his preparation of forces with intent to offend this realm. You are therefore directed to cause the forces within the county of Hertford that have been within these late years mustered to be renewed, and those found wanting by death or otherwise replaced. You are to assemble the deputy lieutenants, sheriffs, and others, and direct them accordingly. Sir Thomas Gerard, Kt., is appointed general surveyor of the forces of the county, and Captain Dacres to have charge of the training. If the lieutenants or commissioners for musters of the counties of Essex and Suffolk shall, upon likelihood of any attempt that the enemy shall purpose to make on either of the said counties, desire to be assisted with forces from Hertford, you are to send 1,000 men into Essex and 500 into Suffolk, if they require the same, or so many as they shall require, with provisions, &c.—Court at Whitehall, 19 March, 1597.
Signed :—Jo. Cant, Tho. Egerton, G. Hunsdon, W. Burghley, R. North, J. Fortescue, Essex, T. Buckhurst, W. Waad.
pp. (204. 66.)
John Uvedale to the Earl of Essex.
1597/8, March 20. I arrived here with G. the 15th of this month and since have conferred fully with E., whom I find constant and assured in the purpose.
The matter hath had this progress. They have treated with one Duglas of .h. named the Laird of Spot, a wise, learned and religious man; for so confidently they propound him unto me. He is an instrument to plot the matter with the lord of Macklayne, lord of the Islands over and beyond .Ca. nearly fronting upon .p. and daily trafficking with them of .p. He is found and intelligenced from .a. as a special adventure both with men, munitions and victual; who is the man they rely upon to undertake the exploit; so far as they assuredly offer me interview and speech both with the one and the other, and further to be brother unto your lordship.
All which I have refused until I may be further warranted and directed from your lordship upon this excursion. This Laird of Spot I find to be nearly interested and allied unto Bothwell and a man exceeding practical. For so they deliver him to be. Notwithstanding they assure me he is constant in religion even to his life.
They strongly enforce unto me much matter of great consequence to depend upon this Spot, which, howsoever it be, shall neither spoil nor spot me, notwithstanding they exceedingly urge his constancy, wisdom, fidelity and honesty. They assure me there is not that practised in all .h. either foreign or at home, that he hath not means to find the scope and bottom of, especially that of Bothwell his reconciliation, which is now in question, whether it have any alliance with the Spanish faction.
This much, may be conjectured, it hath, as that there hath been in .h. this three quarters of a year one Foster, a near servant unto Bothwell.
One Hucgarson, a wise and practical man, exceeding forward with Bothwell in the Low Countries and said to be near the Cardinal. Bothwell hath likewise the platform of Berwick. But above all the Laird of Ochiltree, a Stewart, Bothwell's right hand since Martinmas last, is made Lieutenant of all the three South marches of .h. under .f. and is supposed to have near intelligence or league in our frontiers. Besides that .f. doth more usually frequent in person than heretofore those marches, who is now presently looked for at Dumfries. There is great speeches of Dacres being now in .p. and his coming hither exceedingly applauded in these frontiers. Indeed, too much, leading to “motynges,” as that the people in open market begin to cry, “a Dacre, a Dacre!”, as hoping to have their Lord Dacre, a thing dangerous amongst men aptly stirred with every air and puff of sedition and hubbub. In truth there be that give out he cometh not in upon courtesy but with fire and sword, for the now Earl heard it. Now for a more ample relation and satisfaction of your lordship, I have addressed this bearer of purpose himself unto your lordship, as by him to know your lordship's further direction how far I shall proceed or desist, desiring your lordship to make him allowances for the packet to and fro.
And withal, if your lordship continue me further here, I must entreat your lordship for supply, for considering the charges of the posts, together with my journal expenses, amounteth to twenty shillings a day, nor can these things be managed with sparing or scarcity, and so in all reverent humbleness I take my leave.—This 20th of March. Bramton.
2 pp. (175. 7.)
Musters in Hampshire.
1597/8, after March 20. “The survey of all the forces appertaining unto one of the divisions of Hampshire called Porchdoun, as they were mustered Monday last, being the 20 of March.” Consisting of five companies as follows:—
Mr. Cotton's company of 260 men, viz.: 75 shot, 15 pikes, 145 bills and halberds, and 25 bows.
Mr. White's company of 270 men, viz.: 80 shot, 40 pikes, 130 bills and halberds, and 20 bows.
Mr. Udall's company of 260 men, viz.: 70 shot, 45 pikes, 125 bills and halberds, and 20 bows.
Mr. Grantham's company of 290 men, viz.: 80 shot, 45 pikes, 140 bills and halberds, and 25 bows.
Mr. Kingsmill's company of 100 men, viz: 50 shot, 40 pikes, and 10 bills and halberds.
Total: 1,180 men, viz:—355 shot, 185 pikes, 550 bills and halberds, and 90 bows.
Endorsed by Essex's Secretary :—“20 March, '97.”
1 p. (49. 64.)
Sir Robert Cecil and J. Herbert to the Lords of the Privy Council.
1597/8, March 23. Being arrived at Angers on Friday night last, we think it fit to give your Lordships present knowledge, having heretofore been driven to write such rhapsodies as we took up par la rue, wherein we think you better liked our diligence than if we should have wholly used silence. From our landing at Dieppe to our recovery of this place there passed thirty days, wherein we only spent in travel ten days, it being more than 300 English miles from Dieppe hither. The rest passed in attending the issue of Sir Thomas Wilkes' unfortunate accident, and in expecting answer from the King, whom we were not a little vexed to follow into Brittany, if we could have as well avoided the notorious inconvenience to the Queen's service, as we were willing to save ourselves an ill journey, the youngest of us both being not humorous now of novelties, and neither of us to be spared where the Queen's honour and service is in question. To have hoped for the King's return had been very strange and hopeless to us, who knew that his presence in Brittany only made his fortune. To have treated with his subjects had been of all the most absurd. To have returned with doing nothing was more than we durst do without commission. And therefore, after we came on to Paris (upon our joint resolution when Sir Thomas Wilkes was living) we thought fit also to stay by the way and at Paris, as we did make it from our landing 19 days, hoping to hear from England. But when no wind brought us any direction, and knew the French King would not hazard Brittany to save us an ill journey, he being then to strike le coup de Partie in that province, where her Majesty might be glad to be rid of ill neighbourhood, we resolved to neglect all our own incommodities, and so came on thus far, where we arrived the 17th of this month, whither as many reasons led us as there was reason to send us over.
Tuesday we had access to the King who was accompanied with the Dukes de Mercœur, d'Espernon, d'Albeuf, and Monbason; the Marshals Laverdyn, De Retz and Boisdolphyn; the Chancellor, the Admiral, the Secretaries, and others of great quality. We were brought to him by the Duke de Bouillon, Mons. de Maisse and others. I, the Secretary, delivered him the Queen's letters and kind salutations, and assured him of her great contentment at his good fortune, and said that I was charged particularly to enquire of his good health, whereof I was right glad to be able to send so good news. I told him further that forasmuch as princes, whose institution and dignity hindered them from personal conference of their affairs, were constrained to serve themselves of some confident ministers, by whose mouth they might discover their inward meanings, it has pleased my Sovereign (out of this consideration, that those ought ever to be faithful that were tied in straightest bands) to make election of me, though otherwise of little merit, to communicate to him her secret and princely thoughts, when it should please him to discover his own disposition and judgment of this project of a general treaty, whereunto she has been so invited by M. de Maisse's propositions. This, I told him, was the general subject of our legation, wherein we were commanded precisely to address ourselves to his own person, before any further conference with any of his subjects, to the intent that we might govern ourselves in all things with all others according to his advice, for howsoever the Queen has yielded for his satisfaction to engage herself thus far as to depute us hither, and whatsoever assurance Monsieur de Maisse had given her of the inclination of the common enemy, yet she was so far from belief of any good meaning in the contrary party, as she has thought it fit to defer all resolutions until she had fetched her true light from himself, who would best tell how great a stranger she was to this cause; and forasmuch as in a matter of this weight it was very necessary that their advice and judgment should be used whom long experience had well instructed in affairs of state, it pleased her to honour me at this time with the company of two of her faithful servants (whom I then described) to associate and assist me in this service, whereof Almighty God had taken one, to my extreme grief, but left me this other, whom therewithal I took by the hand, and did present according to the substance of my letters of credit, which the King read very curiously. He received us both with very respective form, and, in the hearing of all, thanked the Queen for this great favour; which, though it could not make his affection greater, being such already, he said, as speech could not deliver, yet did this manner of dealing with him, both in form and substance, multiply his obligation. He had been long her servant; he held himself and his estate, next under God, conserved by her; he would acknowledge it in whatsoever quality fortune should bestow him. For the care of his health he humbly thanked her, and thought himself unhappy in nothing more than that he had not seen those same perfections which meaner men (whose fortunes he did envy) had to their contentment beheld with admiration. He then desired me to tell him truly in what disposition of body I had left her: whom I answered, she was, when I came out of England, according to her custom, comme ceste princesse qui n'a jamais senti que c'est de maladie.
This much being passed, and our resolution being for the first to pass no more than a complimental audience, where all those princes should approach so near him, whom we wished should be the witnesses of nothing else but his sensible and public acknowledgment of his obligation and respect towards her Majesty: I, the Secretary, then requested that the King would yield me some other access, where with more freedom he might understand what we had in commission, beseeching him for this time only to permit me to present to him the Count of Southampton, who was come with deliberation to serve him. He then said that I should, with all his heart, have access to him the next morning, and then very favourably embraced and welcomed the Earl and the rest whom I presented to him. And so suddenly took me by the hand, contrary to my expectation, saying he would walk with me down into his garden en qualité d'ami, where he entertained me an hour and half with many pleasant and familiar discourses of his opinion of divers of his subjects, and other particulars not fit for paper, nor of necessity now, though fit to be related at other times; wherein when he had pleased himself he brake forth very abruptly in these words: “Et bien, I have been sorry to find that it has been so confidently believed among you that the King of Spain despised to compound with me as being a poor prince, my subjects half masters, and therefore contemptible; and that it hath not pleased her Majesty to hold more common counsel and correspondency with me in her designs upon the King of Spain.” Wherein he doubted not but to have done her service; for he must deal plainly with me that, notwithstanding they were nobly begun and ended, yet unless her Majesty did make the war of another fashion and follow it with a more constant resolution, the greater purse in time must overspend the less. For himself, though naturally affected to arms, and had made it his profession, yet he was by God's ordinance a King of people, and made it a conscience needlessly to waste them; neither was he of so mean a judgment as not to discern how great a scandal it were for him to bear the imputation of such an ambition, or irreligion, as when that was offered him by peace which could not be bought without blood, that he should disdain to hear of it, for his own good and his allies; assuring me that howsoever the power of other princes was absolute over their subjects, yet durst not he adventure their suspicion of being careless what became of his kingdom, either in respect he wanted children, or took a glory in the fortune of arms, in the which he confessed on his soul to take more delight than in all the professions of the world. However, said he, I am censured amongst you to be sold over to idleness and delight; wherein I will confess, God has made me a man, and as I know my frailty is a scar in my forehead, so the circumstances of my misfortune considered, if I be not guilty of other villanies I doubt not but I may be numbered, if not amongst the better sort, yet not amongst the vilest rank of princes. I told him that for the first report it might easily be answered with truth itself, which needed no other help, for I could assure him it was so far contrary to my hearing and knowledge, as I durst avow that the relator to him was the first and only author; and for any conceit that he should be despisable for his poverty, I must use the liberty of plainness, that it was a paradox to others that a King of France could be in such necessity, having now no one subject unreduced: assuring him that the common discoursers of the time feared that some who governed his affairs did represent his lacks the greater, to the intent to draw him to some other courses more agreeable to their liking. At which he smiled and told me he knew whom I meant. I told him, so did not I. But this I further proceeded with him; that all that look with single eyes upon the King of Spain's handling this matter, in seeking him alone, do fully think that as he would be glad, by single contract with him, to have less to do a while, so should it be with no other final purpose than to work his ruin by the mean of such a separation. And for her Majesty, if she had not held him dear when he was weakest, she would not have sought so much to restore him, neither need she have now been unreconciled to Spain, if either her friendship or judgment had been so weak as to have forsaken others' quarrel. For the second point, of her not communicating with him her designs in particular, I must be bold to remember him that the Queen did ever acquaint him in general with her purpose of making war on the common enemy; although I must be bold to say that he was never pleased to allow of any thing to be done upon the King of Spain but in France only, where, although I could not deny but Her Majesty, by joining great numbers with him, might have furthered some of his particular desires, yet had she thereby left herself wholly exposed to the fleet of Spain, from which no action of his France could have secured her. And as it pleased God in the first action to prosper her at Cales, where her forces brought away of his greatest ships and utterly consumed all the rest, with his infinite magazines of sea preparations, so it could not be denied but by that very action of diversion he was mightily assisted in his own enterprises, while the Cardinal was kept here in weakness, by reason he was forced to keep all at home to defend himself: desiring him to remember this last year's action also, whereby he had so good success at Amiens, and whereof also the States of the Low Countries made their advantage, by encountering an enemy who was the more infested of lacks and miseries by her Majesty's diversion and occupation of his treasure and forces; so as the Queen had given him thus sufficient proof of her care and labour to assist him, though she had never lent him a man to serve him, which she still did notwithstanding, to her great charge, in the time when her affairs at home in both her kingdoms were in terms of greater difficulty than they had been since '88. At this he a little changed his manner, and said abruptly, “Monsieur Cecyll, je le confesse tout, vous avez rayson, je m'en acquiteray envers ma seur en facon d'home de bien.” And so having heard before that we desired to see Madame, he said, “You shall now go to my sister,” and so departed. We went thither, and I the Secretary delivered the Queen's letter with all compliments and assurance of her good will, and assuring her of the Queen's readiness to employ herself in anything wherein she might stead her, with other French ceremonial phrases which are now so usual as they will make me forget my pater noster. All was accepted with very great affection. She was well painted, ill dressed and strangely jewelled, but well accompanied with a number of great ladies, the Duchess de Mercœur, Madame de Longueville, Madame de Rohan, Madame Monbason, Madame Montauban, Madame Belisle, and divers others. The next morning, being Wednesday, the King sent to excuse himself till after dinner, being somewhat indisposed; and about four o'clock M. le Premier, who waited instead of M. le Grand, took us to the King in his Cabinet with all the dukes with him. He much entreated me to go to see his mistress and his son. She is great with child and truly a fair and delicate woman. I stayed little to speak with her, and yet she is very well spoken and very courteous, and spake of her Majesty with very great respect, and wished she would once command her. Then he took me into the garden, and told me he would crave pardon for speech of any matter of state that night, but only matter of sport, because it was late, but next day I should have a cabinet audience, and now only talk and be merry. He told me all the particulars of Mercœur's proceedings, how the Spaniards and he brake about Nantes, which they would have had, and he refused, and so all fell apieces. He told me also that he had put off Mercœur's entry hither till our coming, whose presence he was sure did vex him. I answered that he need not be offended with us, for we were glad he did so well. True it is that all the people when he came in cried out upon him, “Voycy la queue de la ligue, le petit roy de Bretaigne,” Afterwards he passed the time in familiarity, both in discourse of the Queen and her court, showing to divers the picture I wear.
Having heard that the King called those which spake set tales les Haranguers Follastres, and finding in our discourse with him what form was fit to be used towards him, and being above all other things desirous to make him open himself by first speaking, we resolved to begin our audience only with a short preface, and to confine myself to these articles.
I. That it was not our purpose to trouble him now with a long discourse or formalities, so as we might think in that to do wrong to the judgment of a prince which could judge so well, and was charged with so many affairs, so was it little needful, seeing we came from a prince that had given proof of her amity by effects, and not by words nor protestations.
II. That the Queen had not sent us to dissuade him from making peace without his allies, because she should therein do herself wrong as well as him insomuch as once to doubt him, for besides that she knew his own wisdom could foresee the ill of it, she was sufficiently reposed on assurance that he was a prince of honour, faith, and gratefulness; neither was it other than injustice for one prince to suspect that in another which they would be loath should be doubted in themselves.
III. That she sent us not hither with persuasion that any offers of so fraudulent enemies carried any truth, but only to satisfy the strait amity between them, and to prove how much she would repose herself upon that which should pass the file of his judgment, having not a little ventured her honour to send us thus far, whereby the world might conceive she solicited him to mediate a peace for her, being also not assured whether there were such sufficient power or no, as she should like to treat with the King of Spain, if he would incline to it.
IV. That she had not a mind alienated from general peace, for any particular interest, having justly satisfied herself with sufficient revenge on her enemies, and not extending herself to any further desires than to conserve her own right and honour, and to preserve her friends.
V. That she desired now to know what the offers were, and what he believed of them, and how he deliberated to embrace the peace.
Finally, above all things to know how he thought the States might be proceeded with, in case they refuse to be comprised in the treaty, seeing they deserved especially to be cared for, both for the honour and obligation of faith given them, as also for the interest which both realms have in their conservation.
He heard me all this with great attention, and answered me, first, that he was glad I was not a Venetian, that he loved to negotiate with the Earl of Essex, for he did leave circumstances so as he saw we served a wise prince. Rhetoric was for pedants. He would freely and truly answer me, and not as he used ordinary ambassadors, seeing the Queen had sent her Tablets. First he thanked the Queen that she would not mistrust him, for what any creature could possibly do he would do by her counsel, and if he were to lose nothing but life, he would quit it for her. As for her fear to be scandalised by sending especially so far to him, her Majesty in that ran no danger, for she sent not to her enemy but to her friend, to a King and her brother, to one that made it known to all the world that he honoured her and that he desired it. If he had drawn us after him for pleasure, it had been another matter; but he had tarried for us five weeks to the peril of all Brittany, so as the world saw his necessity for it: neither had he or would he be negligent to show in us the respect he bare his sister before all other princes living. For the power from Spain, he doubted not but by Sunday it would be certified, for the courier was newly returned to Flanders. For her Majesty's suspicion of the enemy's offers, he had long so thought of himself, for he knew nothing but necessity drave him to seek him, and that malice would never cease, but now he told me upon his honour and as he desired absolution of sins, he would purely tell me all. The enemy offered him all but Calais, and that only now of late he stuck to deliver until some trial, but presently to contract for it, which he said was not a matter one way or other that ought to make or mar the matter. And for his meaning towards the Queen he made this judgment, neither did the contrary side conceal it. His losses were infinite, for, saith he, her interruptions by sea do mightily charge him and consume him—“a matter,” saith he, “for which the Queen is to be commended, for I confess she has hurt him and not I, but he me, and therefore if he can with good conditions win to end, he were mad not to be contented; and if I make him show a power to treat with the Queen (she having given none to treat with him), do I not a great work? Believe, saith he, I pray you, that though his affairs by private factions and disorder do not prosper, yet if there be no remedy, his counsel and his purse will eat out the Queen and us all. Now is the time to consider. I have dealt faithfully with my sister, and the more because I see she doth in this sending respect me, for if I would believe what has been beaten into my ears, I am told that your drift is only to amuse me, to leave me in the war ever, and to account that your safety. But I am not of that faith, and you see that though I may have good offers, yet I have forborne till I might bring in others.”
I replied that for those calumniations, they were ever used by malicious spirits, but never credited by princes against those whose actions were so contrary. For the offers he had, the Queen believed it, as I told him before, but for any forwardness for others, first I saw it failed in the original beginning for his friends, because neither the power was seen nor the conditions yet sounded. He answered that was true, but I should hear now forthwith: and for conditions between England and Spain they were easily agreed: the difficulty was for the States, for whom, said he, must we be still miserable in perpetuity? I told him that was the knotty question, and till that was decided, there could be no sure resolution, in which I left wise men to speak for themselves. He asked me then, “But what think you?” I made difficulty till he pressed me, and then answered that I heard many wise men hold it for infallible that it were a strange apprehension to all his neighbours to behold a King of Spain, by conquest or contract, owner absolutely of the 17 provinces. He rose up to me and said I was an honest man; he loved me for my opinion, but, said he, “use no such speech to my council that I say so.” I then asked him what his judgment was how things should be carried. He then told me that the States would be with him on Saturday, that he and I should meet as only to pass the time, and that he would tell me what they said, and what Barneveldt would do, who is mine (saith he) entirely. For there are, saith he, but two ways; either I shall be driven to all necessity and fury of my people, who are ready to rebel for peace, or my friends must help me, which I see you mean not, by maintaining war yourself. I pray you, therefore, seeing you will have war, speak with my Council, hear their reasons; I will assign you Villeroy and Maisse, show them what the Queen will do for the war. I answered that I feared I had already passed our commission, to speak so openly, but his favourable usage and commandment made me bold and forgetful. To meet with his Council, I and my fellow were ready at his pleasure, but to deliver the Queen's mind for a war was not the ground of our commission; we being sent to see the bottom of the likelihood or safety of a treaty, and yet I desired him to consider that the Queen was in a war, and so reckoned her charges and expenses at large, which I think had never patience before to hear himself, neither should I have held him now but that he was abed. He denied many of these particulars, in which I answered him; and then he said I was a son to a Treasurer. I told him also that my Sovereign's case was worst of all three, for his fortune by her help increased, the States grew rich, and she had new fires kindled still, and yet new opportunities, so as her trouble was in infinitum. “Well,” said he, “it is a strange message, when a man is in need and lacks help, to hear of others' lacks and former helps. If the Queen will propound her mind what war she would have to be made,” saith he, “I will urge nothing but upon consent, and because you told me yesterday that I never liked anything but my own way, I say this, if my plots be not allowed good, let the Queen (if she be alienated from a peace) set down the way for a safe war, in which the Spaniards may be beaten indeed, and then will I be found reasonable; but to lose myself and my kingdom, and to be mutinied against by my people, it is hard for me to be put to it.” I told him that our commission was to deal in that which was propounded by Mons. de Maisse, which the Queen was borne in hand should not now have been unready. For the war making in another fashion, we had no power to deal in it here. “Well,” saith he, “I see you come to win time. I would time could be won without loss of my kingdom; but if I stand on the defensive now I lose my reputation. If I let go my hold and my offers, my people will rebel against me; for though I have honour for to bind me, yet they feel misery. Colours I have none to break it; for I can have anything; and if I have mine own, what harm will it be to me if it break after.” I told him the point of single peace was it which must not be disputed of; for then all leagues were ridiculous, and with pardon I must speak it, that things should so be carried, as when one friend had helped another to equal his enemy, he should then compound with the third enemy for his own advantage, without his confederates, it must make princes take heed of assuming others' quarrel, and make us that were her servants wish that if any such strange accident should follow, of which we never dreamed, that the Queen had but her money in her hands which she hath spent on France and the Low Countries, we doubted not, but with assistance of God, in her just quarrel, Spain should get as little at her Majesty's hands as hitherto it hath done. He told me that he liked well my plainness, and that her Majesty might trust me to dispute for her; but seeing then, saith he, that you will not have me make peace alone, nor you may not make peace without the States, what is the third way you would wish. “I pray you,” saith he, “propound it.” I told him again we came not to propound, but to hear and argue of that which was propounded and promised by Maisse, and to consider of that with his Council and the States' Deputies. “No,” saith he, “then you will (I perceive) push me to the wall still to speak. How would you like it, to have us two that are monarchs to make a peace with Spain, and let the States make a truce?” I told him it were good to hear the States, but if he would have my poor opinion, I had ever found them as jealous of a truce as of a peace; and so I told him the reasons. “What,” saith he, “if we could make a temporal peace, and let them be in a war?” I told him so they might not perish by it, it was least harmful. “Well,” saith he, “what, will nothing content the Queen?” I desired him to pardon me, when it came to conference of all sides, it should be debated. He would needs have me speak. I told him I saw no cause why he that hath little to defend but one frontier, and might be assisted by the States for the present, should not wear the King of Spain out of Picardy by little and little, who was old; and time would discover what the Cardinal's marriage would prove to in the Low Countries. And if the Queen might once but have quietness in Ireland, and have recovered in some of her own means; if he were once over-pressed, she would be the same that ever she was to him; otherwise, if a general peace with honour and safety might be wrought, her Majesty was not alienated. “Well,” saith he, “I see the device is that I must be tossed still, my country must be miserable, and no end must be had. But, Sir,” saith he, “you see I deal with you, not like an Italian upon punctos, nor with devices. The Queen shall see I will trust you and negociate freely with you, for her sake. I will speak with you again within two days. I shall then know more, and I will strive to bethink me with you what course the Queen shall not mislike, unless I must only smart for all. But, I pray you, tell my Council that you come not to dissuade me from peace, but to see on what terms of honour and safety the Queen shall enter, and to see how the States may be included, and that the Queen will not abandon them, but if they may be safely brought in, that you do know the Queen will not be unreasonable, and the rather, because you find me so truly to discover my impossibilities to maintain a war, and my passionate resolution to comfort my people with a peace, and so hear what will be said to you, and keep you on these grounds still in which I direct you with mine, for the Queen, your mistress, will like it that you shall be ruled by me, and so hath she written to me;” whereat I could hardly forbear smiling, when he would tell me what my Sovereign had written. Much more passed, but it is impossible to write all. We are sorry to be thus tedious.
The affairs of the Religion are settled, wherein the King hath much complained to me of them. They have sent me thanks for her Majesty, confessing that they were despatched more speedily after our arrival in ten days than in forty before. The King merely told me, that when he heard so great a Huguenot was landed, he was sure I would be a spokesman. I told him his Majesty knew Huguenots were honest men, and I did hope that they should need no spokesman to him, seeing faith and merit did plead for them. “Aye,” said he, “I would they had more discretion and patience.”
The Duke of Bouillon is here, not well contented in some private suits he hath. Espernon is very round with the King, and counted one of the most able men of France. He useth to us great respect, and protests to owe the Queen obligation for her wishing the King to deal well with him in his late prosecution in Provence. St. Aldegonde hath broken the matter to the King for Count Morrice to marry Madame. The States, we can assure you, come to offer the King continuation of the former 4000 men paid, and to increase the charge further. Of this I, the Secretary, have particular knowledge. They will be here to-morrow, with whom we will hold all good correspondency; yet Barnevelt is wholly French. Those of the Religion much honour the Queen, but all their counsel is this, she must roundly help the King.
Thus have we now delivered the substance of our accesses. We refer the censure to her Majesty's wisdom, hoping at our return to deliver some such account as may justify our duty and diligence: and if under her Majesty's gracious pardon we shall be commanded to speak what our weak understandings shall have gathered, we shall do it more confidently when we are where we may strengthen our arguments by verbal replications, better than by letters, for we are not unacquainted how easily letters may be intercepted under other colours, and what toys cyphers are for the most part. Seeing the States are at hand we shall have uniformity in our negociation: we doubt not therefore but within ten days to have finished our conference, and to be at the seaside within six days after. If your Lordships will say that we were instructed to advertise before we conclude, we will be bold to let you know that we neither have nor mean to take any liberty of conclusion; for as you know, we come but to enquire, to confer, and to advertise whether we that are here by common conference find that a treaty may be thought expedient for all parties. We think therefore that we shall do our duties sufficiently to advertise personally all such resolutions, either one way or other. For seeing we are now at Angiers instead of Roan, and that we have never heard one word from England of fresher date than the 24th of February, we hope you will conceive that we have small hope of perfecting anything by answers to any dispatches. We therefore intend to inform ourself of the power which the King of Spain doth send for general treaty, to hear the States' reasons, and see what they will do, to find by conference of all three parties whether the King will leave them or not. To the States also we mean to use no language but of all correspondency, and yet to let them know, howsoever either their reasons or their wills shall divert peacemaking, that if for their cause the war be continued, they must think to bear a greater burden, and not to increase or continue the Queen's insupportable charge for them. Lastly, for the better justification of our return, we conclude that if treaty with the enemy shall go forward, it must be in some place nearer England; the continuation whereof my (sic) speech shall be carried on still between the French King and them, whilst we in the meantime have informed her Majesty's judgment, and she thereupon resolve, which is the farthest of our commission. If we find that the Queen shall be forced to charges of a war, then must the war be advised and resolved on by her Majesty: of which two main points, God forbid we should either presume to advise, or your Lordships, if you will attribute anything to the small knowledge which we have gathered in this negotiation, fall to any resolution upon our letters, which are but maimed and barren informations in such intricate questions, in comparison of personal relations. Our suit is therefore that, seeing time cannot prejudice the Queen to like of this course, to lend us shipping for Caen, whereby we shall save almost 200 miles' riding, the coast being as fit as Dieppe in all respects, and that they may be there by the 12th of April next.—Angiers, 23rd March. Thursday.
Contemporary Copy. 16 pp. (175. 18.)
Printed in extenso in Birch's “Historical View of the Negotiations between England, France, and Brussels.” pp. 105–125.
Captain Edward Prynne to the Earl of Essex.
1597/8, March 24/April 3. I have written unto you about 8 days ago by Captain God; by that letter and by this I do beseech you to pardon me that I have not long before this written, showing the duty wherein I am so many ways bound unto you.
The news I have to write unto you since my last letter is that the tower of Soissons which my lord the Marshal of Brisac hath besieged was, after three hundred cannon shot, delivered by composition to my lord. This was the last place of all those that were for the Duke Mercure in this province of Brittany, in such sort that all the whole province is for the King, only Bluet and Prymela. The Duke is with the French King at Anges, the King goeth to Nantes to keep the States. Mons. de Mercure goeth out of the province, in the which remains for governor Sezar [Cèsar] Monsieur, the King's bastard, my lord the Marshal his lieutenant. The Duke's daughter shall be betrothed to Cèsar Monsieur. The King gives the Duke one hundred and fifty thousand French crowns in recompense of the government that the Duke has left. The Spaniards' ambassador is gone with passport out of Nantes to Bluet. There is some speech that there are arrived some seven hundred Spaniards to Bluet; the truth is not as yet known. The army that was at the siege of this tower marches towards Prymela, a castle that stands by the seaside by Morles upon a rock, wherein there is some hundred and twenty Spaniards. My lord means to besiege it; he hath sent the cannon by water; himself goeth with some hundred horse to Nantes to meet with the King where the States are holden. From thence he will go to Prymela, where he shall meet with his army and lay the siege to the place, the which being taken, from thence his pretence is to go for Bluet. There are no more than these two places in Brittany that keeps against the King, for all the rest were put into the King's his hands and taken. The Spaniard may make much of Bluet (the which is a very good place) for that in Brittany he hath no more that they may make account of: as for Prymela, within this month [it] will be gotten by force from their hands. From thence, or from any other place wheresoever I be, I will write unto you of all the news that I can learn worth the writing. I mean by the grace of God after that Bluet is taken to come over for England, where I hope by your means to find her Majesty graciously bent towards me. I am, with the Marshal, very well, as this poor boy, bearer hereof, can show you, notwithstanding my desire is to England. There would I rather be with brown bread than here with all that I have in my lord's house, as one he commands all.—At the camp before the tower of Soissons, 3 April, 1598.
Holograph. Seal broken.
22/3 pp. (176. 136.)
Capt. Laplye and Francis Hobbye to the Earl of Essex.
1598, March 24/April 4. We have sent you by this first the whole effectual news of the wars in France and concerning the conclusion of peace between the League and the King. First, as soon as the truce was ended certain companies went to take in a leaguer town called “Fugures,” being a very strong place; but we were fain to forsake the besieging of it by reason we were very few at that place and the enemy was strong. Not long after word came to Marshal Brisac that the town of Dynham [Dinan] was taken by the burghers of St. Malo and the burghers of Dinan, but the castle held out, for when the army came down to Dinan it was fortnight after before the castle rendered, neither would they render until the cannon played. Then they yielded by composition with bag and baggage to be gone; so the governor of that place now is Baron de Mollac, and Mons. St. Lawrence was for the League. There was in the castle one hundred and odd [soldiers]. From thence we went to a place called “Plisabittree,” where was a strong place very strongly fortified as any place in all Brittany; but when the cannon played they yielded forthwith without bag or baggage, and it is beaten down clean to the ground. From thence we marched to a place called “Gilde” to block it, but the enemy showed themselves very valiant at that place; for they fought with us at the first, and oftentimes after they sallied out to fight with us, but when the cannon came and played they rendered themselves to the Marshal as prisoners. From thence we marched towards the tower of Sessum [Soissons], a very strong place as could be, standing on a hill, being high commanding the sea. But when a breach was made they rendered with bag and baggage, a place very rich; so that Mons. de Pierian is governor of that. Forthwith peace was concluded between Mercury and the King; and the King hath sent throughout all Brittany for his nobles to come to Nantes, his chief command[ers] and capt[ains], with all justices and officers. So that Mercurie did once demand two hundred thousand crowns of the King, with certain other covenants, and so peace to be concluded for ever between them. We are marching up to Bluet to the Spaniard, which place is strong fortified with main number of Spaniards: so the King mindeth to drive them out of Brittany with all the rest. Fountenell is gone to the Spaniard with all his army, who was for the Spaniard and Soissons tower also. The King's wife maketh great wars against him in Navarra in his own country.—From St. Briens the 4th of April, 1598.
Portion of seal.
pp. (176. 138.)
Thomas Flemyng, Solicitor General, to Lord Burghley.
1598, March 25. According to your Lordship's letter I have considered of the petition exhibited to her Majesty by the mayor and burgesses of Weymouth and Melcombe Regis, and am of opinion that those rents, courts, and petty customs which Weymouth; before it was united and made one corporation with Melcombe Regis, held at will, as it seemeth, without either being incorporate or having any charter thereof, and answered to her Majesty and her progenitors 16l. 8s. 3d. as a fee farm yearly for the same, may well be granted by her Majesty to the new corporation, according to the petitioners' humble suit, rendering such yearly rent to her Majesty as at any time hath been yielded for the same. And I think thereby her Majesty shall be better secured for her rent, and it will be also a good means of final quietness to be had amongst them, without which the good meaning of the makers of the statute of union will hardly be observed; being induced so to think by a former certificate heretofore in that behalf made by Sir John Jeffreys and Sir Roger Manwood when they were Justices of Assize in those parts.
Endorsed:—“Mr. Solicitor's report to the suit made by the mayor and burgesses of Weymouth and Melcombe Regis, 25 Martii, 1598.”
½ p. (49. 73.)
Roger Houghton to Sir Robert Cecil.
1598, March 25. My Lord your father hath many sudden fits and qualms since his last extremity of sickness, and at this instant he is sore vexed with the gout, and taketh small rest. I could wish your speedy return for fear of the worst. Mr. William and Mr. Francis are well.
This day Mr. Persyvall paid to my Lord Admiral £280, which we borrowed upon our bond for two months of Mr. William Pitt, one of the Tellers of the Receipt. There is also £340 to be paid to Sir John Pagenton the first of April.—From your Ho. house in Strand this 25 of March, 1598.
Holograph. Seal.
½ p. (60. 66.)