Calendar of State Papers Foreign, Elizabeth, Volume 10, 1572-1574. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1876.
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The position of affairs in England at the commencement of 1572 was extremely critical, Ridolphi's conspiracy having just come to light, which had for its object the restoration of the old religion in England by the deposition of Elizabeth and the substitution of the Queen of Scots in her place. A great number of the nobility of England were implicated in this plot, in which they were encouraged by the promises of support held out by the Spanish Ambassador. The Duke of Norfolk, who had been arrested in the preceding autumn, was brought to trial in January and convicted on clear evidence of complicity in this treason and of aspiring to the hand of Mary. The discovery of this conspiracy disclosed a great amount of disaffection amongst all classes, and especially the nobility, which rendered the foreign policy of Burghley a most difficult game to play as long as Mary Queen of Scots survived as a nucleus for conspiracy, and there are traces throughout the whole of this volume of continuous schemes for getting rid of her.
Though she had now been a prisoner in England for four years her party still held out in the north of Scotland, and as long as Kirkcaldy of Grange, who kept possession of the Castle of Edinburgh, refused to acknowledge obedience to the young King and the Regent, there was no hope of peace, but an almost daily expectation of the intervention of a foreign armed force either from France or Spain, which greatly added to the perplexities of Burghley and the English Council.
As a considerable portion of the Border papers relate chiefly to the affairs of Scotland they have been incorporated with the other foreign papers in this volume. They consist of letters from the Wardens of the Marches, Lord Hunsdon, the Governor of Berwick, and Sir William Drury, often enclosing dispatches from Scotland or giving accounts of negotiations with Lethington and Grange for the purpose of inducing them to submit to the authority of the young King of Scots and his Regent. There are, besides, matters relating more particularly to the important garrison of Berwick, such as calculations of the payment of the officers and soldiers, and estimates of the expenses for constructing and repairing the fortifications. The recent suppression of the great northern rebellion, together with the troubled state of affairs in Scotland, had much increased the number of disordered persons on the borders, so that there are frequent accounts of raids and of the proceedings of the different outlaws, (fn. 1) who are frequently mentioned by curious nicknames. (fn. 2) Lord Scrope, writing to Burghley in April 1572, informs him that one of his servants had challenged a noted outlaw called the "Lairds Jock" (fn. 3) to break a spear with him in single combat, who, however, did not keep to his appointment, though ten days afterwards he appears more profitably engaged as the leader of a party of moss troopers of Liddlesdale in a raid, in which considerable damage was done to one of the Dacre family. In another letter from Lord Hunsdon to Burghley allusion is made to Mather and Barnes conspiracy, and Hunsdon recommends the adoption of severe measures, and strongly urges the execution of Norfolk as a matter of expediency. Hunsdon's letters contain a full account of the purchase of the unfortunate Earl of Northumberland (fn. 4) from the Regent of Scotland and the Laird of Lochleven. Though they bargained hard they were unable to obtain him for less than 2,000l., as that amount had been offered for his release by his Countess. His Scotch jailors, although they thought it would serve their interests better to deliver him up to Elizabeth, absolutely refused to give him over to Hunsdon until the money had been counted out and handed over to them. (fn. 5) Hunsdon describes the Earl as "readier to talk of hawks and hounds than anything else; very much abashed and sorrowful, being in great fear of his life," and in a later letter expresses his satisfaction at the Queen's intention to spare him; the Earl's death had, however, been already determined on, and he was accordingly taken up to York by Sir John Forster and there executed, about three months after his surrender by the Scots. As the rest of the Border papers relate almost exclusively to Scotland it will be better to notice their contents together with the documents contained in the collection called by the name of that country.
The Scottish papers are very voluminous and interesting, and in the early part of the volume consist of letters from Sir William Drury, Thomas Randolph, and Killegrew to Lord Burghley, giving accounts of their negotiations with Lethington and Grange, and of the events transpiring in Scotland. (fn. 6) They describe that country as being in great calamity and misery, owing to the dissensions of the nobles, who were divided into two factions, the one upholding the authority of the Queen of Scots, which was supported by France and Spain, and the other that of the young King and Regent Marr, which was under the protection of Elizabeth. All the proceedings which led up to the armed intervention of the English and the siege of Edinburgh Castle are fully given, together with the various negotiations between Killegrew and the Regents of Scotland for the surrender of Mary into the hands of her rebellious subjects, in order that she might be put to death. There is a curious account of one of Mary's devoted followers, Lord Seton, who coming from the Duke of Alva in Flanders landed at Harwich, and, notwithstanding the watch set for him, passed through England. (fn. 7) He appears to have managed his disguise so skilfully that Sir Ralph Sadler, who met him by the way, actually gave him two shillings. Seton's negotiations with the Duke had been for the object of introducing Spanish forces into Scotland, and Alva appears to have seriously entertained the proposal, and to have instructed Seton to furnish him with the names of those noblemen who would join his forces on their landing, and to make preparation for their provisioning and reception in Scotland. He further required certain ports to fortify and hold until the completion of a further purpose which he professed to have, which was, doubtless, the invasion of England. All Alva's designs for assisting the Queen of Scots were, however, speedily put to an end by the unexpected seizure of the town of Brielle by the Gueux under Count de la Mark. (fn. 8)Seton's capture was considered of so much importance that a plot was entered into between the notorious Archibald Douglas and Sir William Drury, Marshal of Berwick, to kidnap him. Drury gives the details in a letter to Lord Burghley, in which he asks his opinion as to its expediency. The plan was simply for half a dozen of Drury's picked men to lie in wait at Restalrig Deanery, near Leith, and seize on Seton as he was on his way to take boat, and carry him quietly off to Berwick. Drury significantly remarks, "a hood and cloak I had provided for." There is another mention of Archibald Douglas, who was probably the actual murderer of Darnley, as receiving a reward of 100l. from England, (fn. 9) which Hunsdon declares to have been very badly bestowed. The letters of Drury are full of accounts of bloody but undecisive skirmishes and executions of prisoners by both sides, and unsuccessful efforts on his part to compound their differences. (fn. 10) His interference was met with suspicion and dislike, which went so far that there were frequent and open attempts made to murder him, and though the perpetrators were well known they seem to have escaped with perfect impunity.
Drury was succeeded in his negotiations by Lord Burghley's nephew, Henry Killegrew, who had, besides, the delicate charge of treating with the Regent and Morton for the delivery of Mary into the hands of her revolted subjects, in order that she might be put to death. Killegrew informs his uncle, on 29th September, that things were not as ripe as was desirable, and though the Regent and Morton were willing to adopt (fn. 11) "the only salve for the cure of the great sores of the Commonwealth," it was necessary that they should sound others minds therein. About a month later he forwarded a copy of a note which had been delivered to him by the Abbot of Dunfermline, containing the terms on which the Regent and Morton would consent. (fn. 12) They required the assistance of a large English force to be present at the Queen's execution, and further, that the Castle of Edinburgh should be delivered into their hands, together with a large sum of money for the payment of their soldiers. This was frustrated by the sudden death of the Regent, and Morton did not care to incur alone the odium of his sovereign's murder, though Killegrew does not appear to have entirely given up all hope till the end of 1574. (fn. 13) In January 1573, (fn. 14) James Kirkcaldy, the brother of Grange, arrived at the Blackness from France, with a considerable sum of money, and the promise of further assistance; but on the other hand, in the course of the following month, (fn. 15) Huntley and the Hamiltons made a formal submission at Perth to the commissioners of the young King, and their example was followed by several other noblemen of the Queen's party. A desultory siege of Edinburgh Castle had been begun by Morton, but as nearly all the Scottish ordnance was contained within the fortress, there was small hope of its reduction without the aid of the Queen of England's forces, except by the slow process of blockade. Elizabeth at last reluctantly yielded to the representations of Burghley and the entreaties of Morton, who declared that if she refused, he would be compelled to look elsewhere for aid, and gave her consent to the entry of a certain proportion of soldiers and artillery into Scotland, under the command of Sir William Drury. The English were received with friendship by the Scotch, and the Castle, which had in the meanwhile been strictly watched, was summoned to surrender on the 25th April. On the refusal of the defenders, the siege works were pressed forward with expedition, and, notwithstanding the rocky nature of the ground, on the 21st May the English batteries opened fire with thirty pieces with such vigour that the artillery of the garrison was completely silenced, and the castle surrendered to the English General on the 28th, (fn. 16) chiefly, however, on account of the failure of the supply of water. The gallant Kirkcaldy of Grange was handed over by Drury, in accordance with his instructions to the Earl of Morton, and, notwithstanding the large offers made for his life, was executed a little more than two months after the surrender. (fn. 17) After the capture of Edinburgh Castle, the papers contained in the Scottish collection fall off both in numbers and interest, being confined chiefly to complaints of the abstraction of certain crown jewels at the time of the surrender, Grange, Drury, and even Elizabeth herself being blamed for their removal. Killegrew was again sent into Scotland in May 1574, for the purpose of observing how matters were going on, and of endeavouring to strengthen the alliance between England and that country. (fn. 18) He had also secret instructions from Burghley and Leicester to treat with the Regent concerning the "great matter," which was the delivery of the Queen of Scots into the hands of the faction headed by Morton. (fn. 19) In this negotiation Killegrew was unsuccessful, and wrote to Walsingham that they would not agree to "the sure way of remedy" which could not be performed without many councils, which would mislike his delicate ears. Shortly afterwards he desired to be recalled, as his further continuance in Scotland was of no service; he also spoke of the increase of the French faction, and warned the Government to look after the safety of Berwick. (fn. 20) During Killegrew's mission, he had an interview with the young King of Scots, who had just completed his eighth year, whom he describes as being well grown in body and spirit, and accomplished for his age, able to translate French with ease, and dancing with a very good grace. This last statement of Killegrew is rather curious, as it does not bear out the popular notion that James was infirm in his feet from his birth.
Among the miscellaneous matters in this collection will be found a character of the Regent Murray, drawn in most unflattering colours by Lethington in a letter to Lord Burghley. (fn. 21) Lethington defends himself from the charge of having deserted his party by declaring that he never left the Regent until he found that he had lost all honesty, and saying that no one who knew all that had passed between them would impute the fault to him, and if Burghley had not been acquainted with all the proceedings he would have made a more ample discourse. (fn. 22) The avarice of the Scotch nobility is frequently touched on; Lord Hunsdon says that the only mark both parties, and especially that of the King, shot at was money. He mentions this also as the chief obstacle to peace, as though the Regent Mar, (fn. 23) the Earl of Argyle, Lords Boyd and Ruthven, and some others, who had not private quarrels, and had not tasted of their adversaries' spoils, would be glad to grant any reasonable articles of accord; the Earl of Morton, Lord Lindsay, Dunfermline, James Macgill, and others, their followers, who had had the benefit of the forfeitures and were not able to make restitution of what they had spent, would never agree to accord but with such conditions as the contrary party would never grant. (fn. 24) (fn. 25) Hunsdon's letters abound in accounts of the cruel manner in which the conflict was carried on by both sides in Scotland. In one, dated April 1572, (fn. 26) in which he forwards his proxy to Lord Burghley for the ensuing Parliament, he earnestly prays that Elizabeth may rid herself of so mortal an enemy as the Queen of Scots, and so pluck herself out of the quicksands and overthrow the devilish practises of her enemies at home and abroad. (fn. 27) In July 1574 the Earl of Argyle made a progress through the country of Lorne, during which he executed about 160 people for murder, theft, and common sorcery. He also apprehended and put in prison many who were suspected of sorcery, and established ministers in every parish church.
In France, at the time when this volume opens, matters seemed more tranquil than they had been for several years, and the growing jealousy of the power of Spain had induced the court to adopt more conciliatory measures towards the Huguenot party. The project of employing them against the Spaniards in the Low Countries was seriously entertained, and gave great uneasiness to Philip. Killegrew and Smith were sent over to aid the resident ambassador, Walsingham, in bringing to a conclusion the marriage negotiations between the Queen of England and Anjou, with the alternative of forming a strict league, offensive and defensive, between England and France. Smith very soon discovered that there was not the smallest hope of bringing about the marriage, as the Pope and the Catholic party had been most prodigal in promises to Anjou, who was besides naturally indisposed to the match, having, as Smith observes, "his religion fixed in Mlle. de Chateauneuf at first, and now removed hence into another place, or both." (fn. 28)The King and Queen Mother were sincere in their desire for its accomplishment, and endeavoured unavailingly both by menaces and tears to change Anjou's determination; they then proposed the Duke of Alençon as a substitute, offering to send him over to England, and, notwithstanding the disparity in years between him and the Queen, this negotiation was seriously entertained. In addition, Smith had in charge to do all in his power to discredit the Queen of Scots by blackening her private character, which he did by distributing some copies of Buchanan's Detectio, with which he had been purposely supplied, about the French Court, and (fn. 29) declaring her guilty of all the odious crimes laid to her charge, and what was perhaps, worse in the eyes of Catherine de Medicis, showing an intercepted letter in cipher, by which it appeared that she had entirely gone over to the Spanish faction. On the Queen Mother's pressing that Mary might be set at liberty and allowed to come over to France, Smith grimly asked whether they would have her head or her body; he had already said to the French Council that rather than she should trouble the treaty his mistress would follow the advice of her council and take her head from her shoulders, as justly she might do. Walsingham, in a letter to Burghley, dated 31st January 1572, congratulating him on the discovery of Ridolphi's conspiracy, goes on to say that "so long as that devilish woman lives neither Her Majesty must make account to continue in quiet possession of her crown nor her faithful servants assure themselves of safety of their lives." (fn. 30) Killegrew, in the following week, wrote to the Queen a letter, couched in the plainest language, urging her to put Mary to death, assuring her that she need not think that whatsoever she might do for her own preservation would be evil taken by the French, as he found by experience the more she sought to assure herself the better her business sped in that Court, and if she took the "right way" they would honour her ten times more, but until she did so they must of policy use "compiamentos nisi forte in tempore futuro, &c." It speaks well for Elizabeth's clemency, and also for her personal courage, that, notwithstanding the manifest danger in which she stood whilst Mary lived, she did not allow herself to be led away by these persuasions.
(fn. 31) In March Walsingham had an interview with the Queen of Navarre, in which they discoursed on the approaching marriage of her son with the Princess Marguerite, to which she protested she would never consent unless certain concessions in the matter of religion were granted. Walsingham, nevertheless, expressed his opinion to Burghley that hardly anything would break off the match, as upon its success depended the enterprise of Flanders, about which Charles IX. was very earnest, and had held great conference with Count Louis of Nassau. On 19th April a league, defensive and offensive, was concluded at Blois between Elizabeth and Charles, by which increased facilities for commerce between their two countries were provided, and steps arranged for the pacification of Scotland. The Earl of Lincoln, Lord Admiral of England, was sent over in June to be present at the ceremony of the confirmation of the treaty by the French King. (fn. 32) He had also in charge to inform the King that the Queen of Scots no longer depended on him, but had given herself, her son and her realm, entirely over to the King of Spain, and had done her uttermost to induce him to send forces into Scotland in order to surprise her son and carry him into Spain. In confirmation of these allegations the Earl was furnished with an intercepted letter in cipher from Mary to the Duke of Alva, whereby Charles might see what just cause the Queen of England had to pursue the course which she had taken. The Earl was received with great cordiality, and there seeemed every prospect of a thorough understanding between the English and French governments which was sought to be farther strengthened by reopening the negotiations for the marriage of the Queen with Alençon. Volunteers from both countries were encouraged to proceed to the aid of the disaffected in the Low Countries, and promises of further assistance were given.
M. de Genlis, at the head of a large body of Huguenots, crossed the frontier but was met near Mons by Don Frederic de Toledo and completely routed, with great slaughter. (fn. 33) It is significant to note that though Genlis' enterprise had the secret encouragement of the Court, the news of his overthrow was received with great manifestations of joy by the populace of Paris. On August 10th Walsingham writes an account of a conference with the Queen Mother and Charles IX., at which they both strongly urged the marriage of Elizabeth and Alençon as most necessary to the interests of both countries.
(fn. 34) News having come that Elizabeth intended to revoke the English who were in the Low Countries, the King was dissuaded from dealing further in that matter, wherein before he was very resolute, not feeling strong enough without her assistance to bear the brunt of so puissant an adversary as the King of Spain. Walsingham was, however, assured that he would be content that somewhat should be done underhand, as he saw the peril that would befall him should the Prince of Orange be overthrown. (fn. 35)The next document in the French collection mentions the attempted assassination of the Admiral Coliguy, which was the preliminary step to the massacre of St. Bartholomew. (fn. 36)There is another letter from a person named William Faunt who saw the Admiral in bed after his wound had been dressed giving details of the attempt, and stating that the King took the outrage much to heart.
It is much to be regretted that there are only two papers giving anything like a direct account of the massacre, and both of these anonymous. (fn. 37) According to these documents the Admiral, after he was wounded, desired the King that he might have some armour in his house for his defence, who sent orders to Marcels, the provost of the merchants, to allow a cart-load to pass. Marcels informed the Queen Mother and the Duke of Anjou of this, by whose means the cart was taken in the way. The Queen Mother then went late at night to the King, and told him that the Admiral caused armour to be taken to his lodgings, and on King's answering that he had given passport for the same, persuaded him that there was a deep conspiracy on the part of the Huguenots for the destruction of the whole of the Royal family. The Duke of Guise was then sent for to take the execution in hand. The Queen Mother, Anjou, the Duke of Nevers, and Marshal Tavannes are charged with being the authors of the massacre, and MM. de Grammont and Bouchevannes with having revealed the pretended conspiracy of the Huguenots, which was made the pretext for their destruction. The slaughter lasted in Paris above eight days, during which time above 3,000 persons besides 400 gentlemen of rank perished, though the slaughter continued throughout the provinces for a much longer period. In Rouen the massacre was conducted in a similar manner to those of September 1793, during the great French Revolution, the mob proceeding to the prison and calling over the names of the prisoners and murdering them as they came out. At Orleans, on the 26th August, they slew above 1,200 persons, besides women, and the same atrocities were committed at Lyons and Meaulx. As for Charles, although he gave his consent with reluctance at the commencement of the tragedy, yet, as the time went on he became more and more bloodthirsty and savage, and the writer mentions the anecdote of his going to Montfaucon to see the Admiral's body hanging on the gibbet. Many of the papists lamented that such a cruel murder had ever been committed. The Duke of Guise, though he openly rejoiced at the death of his enemy the Admiral, declared that the King had put to death many who might have done him good service, and even himself saved several Huguenots. After the Admiral's death his papers were seized, but no evidence could be found amongst them of the pretended conspiracy which was made the pretext of his death; and, indeed, the fact of his requiring a passport for arms from the King would alone throw great doubts on its reality. (fn. 38) The Admiral was, however, found guilty of treason, and his memory declared infamous by a decree of the Parliament of Paris, and, as late as October 27th, MM. Cavagnies and Bricquemault were executed for alleged complicity in this conspiracy. (fn. 39) A few days afterwards the townsmen of Rochelle having refused to receive M. de Biron as their governor, or to admit a garrison of the King's troops, preparations were made for the reduction of that town.
The open siege operations were not, however, commenced until the following March, when a considerable army sat down before Rochelle, under the command of the Duke of Anjou, who was accompanied by his brother Alençon. (fn. 40) (fn. 41) The attack and defence were prosecuted with vigour, and great numbers were slain on both sides, the most considerable personage killed being the Duke of Aumale, the uncle of Mary Queen of Scots, who lost his life by a cannon shot at the commencement of the siege. The inhabitants were much encouraged in their resistance by the arrival of forces out of England, under the command of Montgomery, who captured the neighbouring island of Belle Isle, but was compelled to retire, without throwing any material assistance into the town, on the 2nd May 1573. The Rochellois were, however, cheered by the occasional arrival of ships which managed to evade the blockade, and, in order that they might more effectually defend themselves, resorted to the expedient of expelling the women from the town. Four hundred of these unfortunate creatures were accordingly thrust forth of the gates, when the besiegers, unmoved by their helpless condition, opened fire on them with their artillery, and killed about twenty-five, whilst of the remainder, some became a prey to the soldiers, whilst others were readmitted into the town. The defenders had by this time been reduced to 1,000 men, but maintained their resistance with the greatest obstinacy, and, notwithstanding that a great breach was made in the fortifications by a mine, successfully repelled a furious assault led by the veteran Strozzi, inflicting a loss of 500 or 600 men on the assailants. The soldiers were so impressed by the valour of the townsmen that they refused to come any more to the attack, and, on the 11th July, an edict of pacification was proclaimed whereby liberty of worship was granted to the inhabitants of Rochelle, and a few other places, but at the same time the Catholic religion was ordered to be observed throughout the rest of France. Although the Rochellois were satisfied with these conditions, they were not accepted by the rest of the Huguenots, especially in Languedoc and Dauphiny, where their forces grew daily stronger, and where the war was accordingly renewed and carried on with the usual atrocities on both sides. Towards the end of the year they were strong enough to propose to the King their own terms of pacification, whereby they demanded religious equality, and the punishment of the murderers of the late Admiral; and Charles deemed it prudent to entertain their proposals, and to give orders for an armistice. These negotiations took no effect, and the war raged all over France with various success. In the north, Montgomery landed at Coutances and captured the town of Carentan, and various castles and forts in the neighbourhood without much resistance, and the King's forces were reduced to such weakness that he had to arm his household, and call out those belonging to the Ban and Arriere ban, without exception, to assist against those of the new religion who were in arms.
(fn. 42)In the midst of all these troubles, the Duke of Alençon, the King of Navarre, and M. de Montmorency were suddenly arrested, upon suspicion of an intention of putting themselves at the head of those in arms, and though they were allowed to show themselves abroad, yet they were narrowly watched and guarded, and were in considerable peril of their lives. (fn. 43) La Mole and Coconnas, two confidential favourites of Alençon, were charged with conspiring against the King by enchantment, and though the Duke begged for their lives on his knees, were, by Charles' express command, hurriedly executed. Charles was at this time in a most deplorable condition, reduced to skin and bone, and so weak that he was unable to hold himself up; he was, however, far from showing any remorse for the torrents of blood shed during his reign, and appears to have become more ferocious the nearer his end approached. (fn. 44) He expressed great satisfaction at the execution of La Mole and Coconnas, and said that he hoped to live to see the end of all his conspirators, so that it is probable that if he he had lived a short time longer, the conclusion of his reign would have been signalised by the execution of his own brother.
His death, which occurred 30th May 1574, was found to have been occasioned by an imposthume on the lungs. The Queen Mother immediately assumed the regency, which she held during the absence of the Duke of Anjou, now Henry III., in Poland, to the throne of which country he had been elected in the previous year. In the meanwhile, Alençon and the King of Navarre were kept in straiter confinement than ever. The celebrated Count Montgomery, the same who had accidentally slain Henry II., fifteen years previously, was at this time captured at Domfront, where he surrendered as prisoner of war to M. de Matignon, (fn. 45) but was, nevertheless, put to the torture and afterwards executed. Henry, on receipt of the news of his brother's death, determined to return at once to France, but had some difficulty in eluding the vigilance of his Polish subjects; but at length managed to escape by stealth, and, passing by the way of Venice, arrived at Lyons on the 6th September, where he was received by his mother and most of the principal nobility of the Court. The course of policy which he intended to pursue was soon apparent by his declaration that he was determined to reduce those of the Protestants who continued in arms in Dauphiny and his old enemies of Rochelle to his obedience, before he proceeded to the important ceremony of his "sacre" at Rheims. (fn. 46) The garrison of the town of Fontenay, which had surrended on condition of being allowed to depart in safety, were all either put to the sword or retained close prisoners, to the great discontent of many of the gentlemen of the Court, and news came from Dauphiny that the war there had assumed such formidable dimensions which induced the King to forgo his intention of going into that country and to proceed at once to Rheims. Lord North, who was sent over by Elizabeth to congratulate Henry on his accession, was instructed to urge on him the necessity of religious toleration, and to inform himself how far the influence of Spain extended in the French Court and to do all he could to nourish a mistrust of the intentions of that power and of the house of Guise. He was also to try to induce the French Court to apply for a continuance of the treaty of Blois. (fn. 47) Catherine de Medicis seems to have had the same influence over Henry as she had over his brother, and his actions were chiefly guided by her "pestiferous" counsel. His travel had little augmented his knowledge, and though he was of better presence than his brother, he was of inferior mental capacity.
Lord North's communications were but coldly received, and there appeared no inclination on the King's part of renewing the treaty of Blois, or of furthering his brother's marriage with Elizabeth; and Thomas Wilkes, (fn. 48) Dr. Dale's secretary, who happened to be in the King's chamber just before Lord North had his second audience, overheard the King openly expressing contempt for the power of the Queen of England. (fn. 49) At the close of the year 1574 the Huguenots were as strong as ever in Provence and Dauphiny, under the leadership of Marshal Danville, whilst the King's forces were so weak that he was compelled to put his household under arms. The reiters and Swiss in his service, owing to arrears of pay, had taken to open plundering, attacking the houses of the gentry as well as those of the humbler class, and as many of these mercenaries were themselves of the reformed religion the King was not able to place much trust in them.
(fn. 50)In the month of December the Cardinal of Lorraine, whose policy had such a powerful influence over the destinies of France, disappeared from the scene, his death being caused by a cold and fever brought on by exposure whilst attending a procession of the "battus" or flagellants in the King's company. There are several curious letters relating to the proposed marriage between the Queen and Alençon from a personage who signs himself Maisonfleur, and who appears to have been sent over by the Duke. His appearance was viewed with much suspicion by the French refugees in England, who endeavoured to discredit him by spreading a report that he had come over for the purpose of assassinating the Count of Montgomery. Maisonfleur defended himself from this charge in a long and rather fantastic letter to the Queen, in which he gives a curious account of his antecedents, and, whilst admitting that formerly he had not lived quite as properly as he ought, still at the present time he was quite converted and incapable of the crime with which he was charged. He concludes by begging the Queen to inquire into these calumnies, promising, on the occasion of the first victory which she gains, to write for her the finest triumphal hymn that ever was composed. (fn. 51)The name of Montaigne is casually mentioned in a letter from Killegrew to Burghley as the recipient of one of George Buchanan's books against the Queen of Scots.
An instance of the eccentricity of Charles IX. is given on page 419, on the occasion of the triumphal entry into Paris of his brother the Duke of Anjou, who had lately been elected King of Poland. Charles, who was very jealous of the popularity of his brother, withdrew himself from the ceremony, and, disguised in some old clothes, went to a "little house on the bridge," where he assembled a crowd of people by throwing out money for them to scramble for, and when he had collected a sufficient number, amused himself by drenching them with buckets of water.
(fn. 52)There is a curious passage in one of Walsingham's letters to Lord Burghley, in which he informs him that he has lately granted a passport for a messenger to carry over a box of linen to the Queen of Scots, and as he suspects that there is some correspondence contained in it, he recommends that Queen Elizabeth, under the pretext of seeing the fashion of the ruffs, should cause it to opened and have the linen held before the fire, so that if there was any secret writing it might be brought out by the heat.
The Flemish correspondence opens at a critical period of the history of the Low Countries. Alva had for the time suppressed the revolt by sheer force, and although his extortionate system of taxation created a wide-spread feeling of deep disaffection, the country was outwardly tranquil for the present. The war was confined to the sea, where the "water gueux" under William de la Mark, Count of Lanoy, continued to make formidable ravages on the commerce between Spain and the Low Countries, under colour of a commission from the Prince of Orange. They had been secretly encouraged by the government of Elizabeth, and their wants of victual and munition supplied by her officers on the coast, and most of the English ports were open for the condemnation and sale of their prizes. Although the Queen had been for some time negotiating with the French Court an alliance against Spain, and had ordered the Spanish Ambassador to quit her realm, she was unwilling as yet to come to an open rupture, and so far listened to the remonstrances of Alva as to order De la Mark and his privateers to leave the port of Dover, which they had chosen as a convenient basis for their operations. This step had most important results. De la Mark, driven to desperation, with his crews half starved, made a sudden descent upon the town of Brille-in-Voorn, which he captured without resistance. (fn. 53) Simultaneously with this exploit the insurrection broke out anew throughout Holland and Zealand, and town after town threw off the Spanish yoke. Orange, who was on the frontier of Brabant with a large army of mercenaries, which he had assembled in Germany, issued a proclamation urging them to use all the means of resistance against the Spaniards, and promising to do all in his power to procure them the enjoyment of their ancient liberties and privileges under the King. (fn. 54) Volunteers from France and England flocked in numbers into the Low Countries; 600 English, under the command of Sir Humfrey Gilbert, arrived before Flushing, but, notwithstanding Sir Humfrey's declaration that their coming was merely to relieve the inhabitants and to make them "owners of themselves," and his protestations of zeal for the cause of religion, the magistrates made great difficulty in admitting them into the town. (fn. 55) So great was this mutual mistrust that both the French and the English remained under arms all night. When the latter were allowed to enter the town on the following morning they were not provided with lodgings or victuals till the next day, when some show of cordiality was made, by Gilbert and his officers banqueting with the Governor. (fn. 56) Notwithstanding his protestations, Gilbert, within a month of his admission into the town, wrote to Burghley offering to excite a mutiny between the townspeople and French, when he and his people would take part against these latter and murder them all, together with the Governor, and so seize on the place for the Queen; and soon after he wrote again, saying that if a few more English were sent over this design might be accomplished without bloodshed, as all the French were at that time in the field. (fn. 57) Gilbert further said that as he knew that the Queen and her Council were often forced to "pretend that which they nothing desire," if he received any letters of recall from the Council he should treat them merely as formal, and should only obey those orders which he received from Burghley himself. The English auxiliaries do not appear to have been of much use to the side which they professed to assist, nor were they much trusted by the Prince of Orange, (fn. 58) who, in the month of October 1573, formally dismissed most of them from his service. There are several news letters giving slight accounts of the various military events passing in the Low Countries, such as the sieges of Mons, Middleburgh, Haarlem, and Leyden, and, under the date of February 10th, 1573, will be found horrible details of the execution of an unfortunate man for striking the Host out of the hands of the priest during the celebration of the mass at Antwerp. There are also notices of Sir Francis Englefield, the Countess of Northumberland, and other Catholic refugees, who were settled at Louvain in the enjoyment of small pensions from the King of Spain.
There is an interesting and instructive account of a conversation between William Hearle, one of Burghley's confidential agents, and the Prince of Orange, on page 360, which gives a clear view of the political situation in the summer of 1573, and shows how manifestly it was to the interest of England to maintain the Prince against the power of Spain. The account is also curious as showing the real weakness of Spain upon the seas, as she was almost entirely dependent on the Low Coun- tries for all sorts of maritime equipments. The Prince protested that he had not entered on these wars for gain or personal ambition, as he had ample in Germany and elsewhere to content himself with, but that it was for the religion and lives of his countrymen, in whose defence he was willing to spend the last drop of his blood. He further declared in case the Queen of England refused to assist them, they would not only die with their country, but before they died would entangle the same with such a devil as should root out the name of the Spaniards for ever for them, and in that case the French King would aid them with men and money, and become master of the whole.
(fn. 59)In October a large convoy of gunpowder, going through Germany to the Duke of Alva, was destroyed near Spires by certain reiters, and the prospects of the Prince of Orange were further improved by the arrival of numbers of Scots by the raising of the siege of Alkmaer and the total overthrow of the Duke of Alva's fleet under Count Bossu. (fn. 60)On the other hand, however, the Hague and several other important posts were lost through the rank cowardice of the native Dutch troops, who as yet had not acquired sufficient habits of discipline to enable them to contend successfully with the veteran soldiers of Spain. In reviewing the military aspect of the struggle in the Low Countries it should be borne in mind that the troops which Orange led into the field were almost entirely composed of mercenaries, who were constantly in a state of mutiny on account of the unpunctuality with which they were paid, and were thus neither in spirit or discipline a match for the well-drilled troops of Alva. (fn. 61) The desperate defence of Haarlem and other towns in Holland during the earlier period of the contest was in a great measure due to the fact that their garrisons consisted mainly of foreign adventurers who fought with halters round their necks, to whom surrender meant certain death. The atrocious conduct of the victorious Spanish soldiery towards the non-combatant inhabitants of the towns which they captured had soon, however, the inevitable result of bringing out the latent courage of the Dutch. The massacre of St. Bartholomew indirectly supplied numerous recruits for the war, as great numbers of the French refugees in England were enrolled and equipped in that country and shipped off to the Low Countries, under competent officers. Considerable assistance was also received from Scotland, where the cessation of the civil war had thrown many men accustomed to the use of arms out of employment.
Towards the end of the volume there are letters from Dr. Wilson, who had been sent over to Antwerp about commercial matters, giving details of the proceedings of the English refugees. (fn. 62) He says that though he found the Spaniards greatly hated, he could not perceive that any men of authority, wealth, or fame took their authority to heart, or sought to set head against them. Wilson enclosed a letter from Egremont Ratcliffe to Lord Burghley, desiring him to obtain the Queen's forgiveness for the part which he had taken in the Northern rebellion. (fn. 63)Egremont Ratcliffe's name is also mentioned in March 1573, when he is stated to have sworn to the death of Lord Burghley. There (fn. 64) is another undated letter, written by Francis Norton, in which he states that Dr. Morton, a Papal emissary, was the chief mover of that insurrection, and that they had strong promises of assistance from the Spanish Ambassador. Norton says that the Earl of Northumberland was very reluctant to take up arms, but was over persuaded by the majority.
There are very few Spanish papers in this present volume, which may be accounted for by the cessation of diplomatic intercourse between Spain and England. The Spanish Ambassador had been ordered to leave the kingdom in December 1571, on account of his participation in the Ridolphi conspiracy, but lingered long on the road to the great disgust of Henry Knollys, who had been ordered to escort him as far as Dover. The cause of this delay was ostensibly that he might receive a reply to a letter written to the Duke of Alva, but there is little doubt that he was really waiting for the execution of a plot devised against the life of Burghley, to which he and his secretary Borghesi were privy. (fn. 65) On its discovery Borghesi was placed under close arrest and sent back to London by Knollys, to whom the Ambassador came greatly appalled, complaining of this detention of his servant; he was, however, soon silenced by Knollys' declaration that the complicity of himself and his secretary in the design was discovered, and shortly took his final departure from the country. Although envoys were occasionally sent over from the Low Countries on special missions, direct diplomatic relations were not resumed between the Courts of England and Spain until the arrival of Don Bernardino de Mendoza in the year 1578. The commercial intercourse between England and the Low Countries, which had been suspended since 1569, to the great injury of the inhabitants of both countries, was renewed in the commencement of 1573, at the solicitation of Antonio Guerras, who acted as agent for the Duke of Alva in England.
On page 580 will be found a long letter from Philip Sidney to Lord Burghley written from Vienna, containing the gossip about events passing in different parts of the world which was current in that capital.
In conclusion, it may be as well to observe that the few preceding remarks have been confined as closely as possible to the description of the documents calendared in this volume, without noticing those that are contained in any other collections.
I have to return my sincere thanks to Mr. Hamilton
E. Lawrance, one of my colleagues in the Public Record
Office, for his assistance in the compilation of the present
A. J. Crosby.
10th November 1876.