Calendar of State Papers Foreign: Elizabeth, Volume 12, 1577-78. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1901.
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THE present Calendar, like its predecessor, is mainly occupied with Low Country matters. The mass of correspondence is again enormous. William Davison, who succeeded Dr. Wilson as agent for the Low Countries (No. 72), soon after the Calendar opens, was, though a man of far less force than Wilson, a methodical and painstaking person, who wrote long dispatches, and many private letters, and kept the rough drafts. Owing, no doubt, to the misfortune which overtook him ten years later, when Elizabeth, with her wonted shrewd insight into character, pitched upon him as the member of her Council who would give least trouble in the office of scapegoat, many of these drafts have got among the State Papers and have been preserved accordingly. Besides these, he sent copies of all documents likely to be of interest to his Government. In all, the Flanders Papers (including Holland) (fn. 1) for the year July 1, 1577, to June 30, 1578, fill six volumes. A very large number of them have already been printed, with others in the British Museum and elsewhere, in 'Relations politiques des Pays Bas et de l'Angleterre,' edited for the Belgian Government by the late M. Kervyn de Lettenhove. For various reasons, however, it has been thought advisable to give them in the present series as fully or nearly so, as those not in his collection. They are indicated by the letters K. d. L. with volume and page.
Next in bulk to the Low Countries comes France. Sir Amyas Poulet, the Ambassador during the whole period covered by this Calendar, was also an industrious correspondent. Little, however, of his exists in the Record Office beyond his official dispatches ; though his Letter-books now in the Bodleian Library contain many private letters. One of these was edited many years ago for the Roxburghe Club by Mr. Octavius Ogle ; the other is still in MS. but some of the documents contained in it were printed by Father Morris in his work 'Sir Amyas Poulet, Keeper of Mary Queen of Scots.' There are several letters in it, even official letters, of which the copies actually sent have disappeared. (fn. 2) Still Poulet's letters which were available for the present Calendar give a pretty complete picture of French affairs during the period.
German affairs are dealt with in a fairly copious series of letters from Christopher Hoddesdon, Daniel Rogers, and Robert Beale. Germany and England came into contact mainly in matters concerning trade and religion. Hoddesdon deals with the first topic, incidentally imparting a good deal of the general news of Europe, which found its way along the great trade-routes leading then, as now, to Hamburg. Unfortunately, the bundle containing the Hanse Town correspondence did not turn up until half the present volume was in print, and his letters belonging to 1577 have consequently had to be inserted as supplementary at the end of that year. Rogers and Beale are more concerned with the religious question, and the danger to the Protestant cause arising from the differences between Lutheran and Calvinist ; but the former at least has business to transact of a more military nature.
Thanks to the fact that Antonio Guaras, who since the expulsion of Don Guerau d'Espes had been acting as a kind of informal Spanish agent, was in October caught corresponding with Don John, and promptly laid by the heels, mainly at the request of the Low Countries envoys then in England, (fn. 3) several interesting letters occur in the Spanish bundle, having no doubt been among the papers seized at his house at the time of his arrest. Portugal yields several letters ; Morocco one or two.
One quarter, hitherto it would seem almost unexplored, in which several interesting documents have been preserved, is an Entry-book containing copies of many Foreign Office papers (as we should now say) belonging to the years 1577-1579. These are mostly in the writing of Laurence Tomson, Walsingham's chief private secretary, or some other of his staff, and comprise letters received as well as letters dispatched, copies of instructions to envoys, notes of current events. An interesting example of the last class is the short memorandum (No. 625) of the arrival of a messenger with the first news of the defeat of the States' force by Don John at Gemblours, and the manner of its reception. Others will be noticed later.
At the moment when the present volume opens, affairs in the Netherlands seemed to be going more smoothly than heretofore. Don John was 'making fair weather,' both with the States and with the Queen of England. The Spanish troops had left the country. Amicable messages had been sent through Wilson, who had just been recalled ; Davison was about to take his place. He was at first to be accredited to Don John, with instructions of a pacificatory nature (Nos. 56, 59). But important events occurred in the month of July. Daniel Rogers, on his way to treat with Duke John Casimir, held much talk at Alkmaar with the Prince of Orange. Among other things, he was shown copies of certain letters written to Spain as long ago as April by the Governor and his secretary Escovedo, intercepted in Gascony by la Noue, forwarded by him to the Prince of Orange, and deciphered by the ingenuity of Marnix de Sainte-Aldegonde. (fn. 4) The tenor of these letters was not precisely of a reassuring character as regarded Don John's intention towards either his own province or England. Fire and blood are the only remedy, says the secretary, and the Governor adds that if the body is to be cured, the diseased part must be cut away. In another letter Escovedo drops metaphor. "It is no use capturing places on the mainland, it is the islands—Holland and Zealand—that we must aim at. It is a more difficult job than England ; but if the one falls into our hands the other will do so too." No wonder that Rogers writes (No. 38) :— "I think Don John will learn of the interception of these letters, which will be the occasion either that he will depart out of the country or that he will entrap the nobility of the Low Countries, or they will entrap him"—words, by the way, which have been absurdly interpreted as an allusion to some scheme for seizing Don John's person. Whoever the "party" to whose "intercepting" Rogers refers in his next letter may have been, the context shows clearly that it was not Don John ; while the two anonymous letters, of which copies are given, hardly carry more conviction to the modern reader than they did to Cardinal Granvelle. (fn. 5)
Don John did not exactly depart out of the country, but he took the opportunity of his stay at Namur, whither he had gone ostensibly to pay his respects to the Queen of Navarre—who was on her way to take the waters at Spa and incidentally do a little business for her brother of Anjou—to secure his exit from the country should need so require. On July 24 (No. 49) he threw himself, with a small body of followers, into the citadel of that town, under the pretext of fear for his personal safety. A week later his German troops were smartly turned out of Antwerp by M. de Bours, in temporary command of the garrison in the castle (No. 95).
On receipt of Rogers's news, Davison's instructions were cancelled, and a fresh set (No. 72) drafted. In these the changed position of affairs is recognised, and Davison's mission is regarded as being rather to the States than to the nominal ruler of the country. On the same day the Prince of Orange wrote to the States, making great play with the intercepted letters and the seizure of Namur. The immediate effect of Don John's action in consolidating the opposition to Spanish rule seems to have been considerable. The Viscount of Ghent, who had quite recently been in England on a mission from him, writes (No. 76) to the Queen that Don John has separated from the States, exults over the check given to him at Antwerp, and predicts war. The nobles, who in less than two years were to be competing for Spanish gold, were for the moment glowing with patriotism, and if they could have laid aside their mutual jealousies, and more especially their jealousy of the Prince of Orange, they might before Christmas have put such pressure on the King of Spain as would have compelled him to modify materially his interpretation of the formula "la religion Catholique Romaine, et l'obéissance deue au roi."
But the autumn was wasted in negotiations, of which No. 93 is a typical specimen. Each party knows what the other is driving at ; but neither will acknowledge it, or express his real views. While the negotiations were proceeding, Don John, who it might have been thought would by this time have learnt caution in his correspondence, wrote a letter to his half-sister, the Dowager Empress, in which he gave vent to his feelings in anything but diplomatic language (No. 104). This was, as usual, intercepted, and its perusal can hardly have tended to promote amicable feelings. Indeed from this time the dispatches on either side manifest an increasing acerbity of tone. In spite of this, however, some kind of agreement seems at one moment to have been almost arrived at. On September 11th, Don John sent articles, to which, with some modification, the States agreed on the 15th (No. 216). On the 21st (No. 244) the Governor appears to accept the amendments, yet nobody believes in any lasting peace. Davison writes (No. 214), "Don John would rather hazard and try his uttermost fortune, such is his cruel and revenging nature, than depart with that note of dishonour as to be expelled and chased out of his government by a sort [i.e. lot] of drunken Flemings" ; he groans over the irresolution of the States' representatives, and sees no reason to look for any peace. (fn. 6) An anonymous news-writer about the same time expresses similar anticipations in less colloquial terms (No. 226). The last writer hints, as do others, at an understanding between Don John and the Duke of Guise. A belief, probably unfounded, seems to have prevailed, that a meeting between them had taken place.
On September 18th, the Prince of Orange came to Antwerp. That night Davison had an interview with him, and the next day wrote his impression to Walsingham (No. 233). Perceiving that he was the one man in the country whose character could be relied on, he wishes to see her Majesty's "favour and countenance" continued to him. He sees that nothing but the fear of Don John keeps down the rivalries and jealousies which if peace were secured would pull the country to pieces once more. Of this the Prince himself was no less convinced, and his sudden arrival in Brabant was no doubt due in some part to anxiety, lest the States should commit themselves too easily to a policy of conciliation.
On the 19th the States sent an urgent request that the Prince would come to Brussels. Though at first he seems to have been doubtful about taking this step, at all events before consulting the representatives of Holland and Zealand, he soon made up his mind to comply. On the night of the 21st he started by boat from Antwerp, reaching Brussels on the following afternoon, after a progress which was nothing short of triumphal, as graphically described by Davison (No. 264). Burghers and nobles vied in welcoming him ut Pater Patriae. The effect of his coming was soon apparent. A fresh set of articles was sent to Don John (No. 261), embodying the terms already agreed upon by both parties, but with some material additions. The most important of these, added, as a note in Davison's hand tells us, at the instance of the Prince himself though approved by all, was a stipulation that the Queen of England should be a party to the treaty. What view was taken of this condition by the King of Spain, may be seen in his instructions to Mendoza (Span. Cal. No. 475). It was doubtless meant to break off negotiations, and did so. The Governor's answer was brief and to the point (No. 289). The offence committed in summoning the Prince of Orange and accepting his guidance rendered further negotiations out of the question. A second letter (No. 338), characterized by Davison as "very arrogant, agreeable to his nature," contains little save a repetition in somewhat fuller phrases of the reproaches and threats contained in the first, and like it was answered by what was practically a defiance (No. 371), the answer being only sent upon the receipt of an intimation that one was expected.
Leaving a garrison in Namur, Don John withdrew to Luxembourg on Oct. 3rd, to wait until the return of the lately dismissed Spanish and Italian troops should put him in a position to resume hostilities. Desultory skirmishing went on for the next few months, both in the field and in the press. The States published their 'justification,' better known as the 'Sommier Discours,' containing among other matters the intercepted letters of the previous April. This book in several languages was widely disseminated throughout Europe. (fn. 7) There is an interesting reference to it in Nos. 333 and 334.
Meanwhile the aristocratic party in the Estates, headed by the Duke of Aerschot, who, for all their friendly demonstrations, had no notion of giving more authority than they could help to the Prince of Orange, had a little scheme of their own for replacing the discarded Governor. As soon as a rupture with Don John began to appear imminent, they had, as Davison mentions in a letter on Sept. 19th (No. 233), "sent one to the Emperor to practise the coming down of his brother, the Archduke Matthias, whom, since he never was in Spain, they have some great opinion of." The 'practice' was so successful, that on Oct. 4th, the Emperor wrote to his 'Illustrious Uncle,' Don John, to say that on the previous night his brother had left Vienna (No. 301). From the fact that the writer evidently assumes the truant's destination, as to which he says nothing, to be known to his correspondent, we may infer that this was not the first letter which had passed between them on the subject, and that whatever the gossips of Vienna may have thought (see No. 412), Rudolph accepted the situation with more equanimity than the terms of his communication would imply. In truth, the plan of calling in an Archduke, and thus interesting the Emperor personally in the success of the Low Country patriots, was by no means devoid of shrewdness. The greater material power of the Spanish branch of the House of Austria would be to a large extent counterbalanced by the prestige, still, as we are more than once reminded in the course of these letters, not wholly extinct, of the Cæsarean dignity. If a stronger man than Rudolph II had, at the critical moment, been in occupation of the Imperial throne, it is possible that the opportunity might have offered for making the Empire once more a real force in Europe.
On October 10th and again on the 12th (Nos. 318, 330) Davison reported the impending arrival of Matthias. A little later, Rogers records an interesting anecdote (No. 412), which suggests that the young Archduke may not have been an entirely passive agent. The next letter from Rogers mentions that he has been entertained on the way by Count Gunther of Schwarzburg, the Prince of Orange's brother-in-law and constant ally (who must not, as often happens in these letters, be confused with the Austrian Otto of Schwarzenberg) ; which again suggests that the introduction of Matthias was no serious shock to William, though the first official information which he had of it was about Sept. 7th. Indeed, the Marquis of Havrech told Leicester that he believed it had his full approval.
In England, the new move was not at first received with very cordial approbation. The Marquis of Havrech and Adolf van Meetkerke were at the time engaged in negotiating an aid of men and money on behalf of the States. Their own feeling was one of satisfaction, as they wrote on the 17th. Next day, however, Walsingham sent for Meetkerke, and administered, it would appear, something of the nature of a reprimand (No. 352). They should not have taken so important a step without reference to the Queen. The Marquis, though he wrote home in a fairly cheerful tone (No. 354), was not quite at his ease. However, it was soon perceived that with judicious handling, the introduction of the Archduke might become a means of strengthening the position of the Prince. On Oct. 20th, Walsingham wrote, "Her Majesty means to do nothing till she hear what opinion the Prince has," and a list of interrogations framed with a view of eliciting his opinion was dispatched to Davison ; who returned it in a few days, duly answered, together with an expression of his own 'rude opinion,' in favour of a firm, though not too ostentatious, support of the Prince, and recognition of the Archduke, if only as a means of obviating any tendency to 'practise with France' (Nos. 385 386).
This was not the first warning of French intrigues that the careful agent had sent. On Sept. 15th, he writes (No. 214), 'the French Ambassador has been with the Prince of Orange to renew his old practice for Monsieur ;' and the state of the Queen of Navarre's health, which had necessitated her visit to Spa in July, was known to be not remotely connected with her brother's schemes in Flanders. Early in October, she was on her way back, and he was to meet her at la Fère in Picardy, the recent peace in France having left him at liberty to intrigue elsewhere. Poulet suspected something, but was not certain what (No. 306). By Oct. 17th Anjou was at la Fère, and there was talk of sending commissioners to him and the French king (Nos. 346, 356). On the 25th, he writes to mention their arrival, and in polite phrases hints his extreme dissatisfaction at the calling in of the Archduke.
Anjou was not the only person who disapproved. There is among the papers a most interesting record—never hitherto published, so far as can be ascertained—of a meeting held at Douay, it would appear towards the end of October. The cross currents by which political action in the Low Countries was at this time complicated are very clearly shown. The upper classes are anxious to accept Matthias simply as a means for getting rid of the Prince of Orange, "that pernicious person." They even wish payment of taxes to be withheld, clearly in the hope of embarrassing his party in the States. An attempt is made to browbeat the burgesses into an unquestioning acceptance of the decision arrived at by their betters ; which, to the amusement of the reader, totally fails. Indeed, the tables are turned on the official class by a clear demonstration of their neglect of duty in omitting to carry out certain plans recommended some time ago for the fortification of the town.
Meanwhile, the Prince of Orange was acting in his usual business-like way. He had sent out a long and important memorandum on the new move (No. 373). After setting out the pros and cons in a masterly fashion, he proceeds to draw up a list of points on which an understanding must be come to with the new Governor. They amount in fact to the draft of a new constitution, under which the country would be practically a republic, though no immediate repudiation of the King's allegiance is hinted at. The Prince's own position was greatly strengthened at this time (No. 379) by the consent of the States to his appointment as 'Ruward' of Brabant, an office which appears to have been reserved for emergencies, when some one was needed to see that the commonwealth took no hurt. (fn. 8) The appointment was made in response to a request from the citizens of Brussels, who, on Oct. 14th, presented what seems according to the standard of those times to have been regarded as a short address, though it occupies some twelve closely written pages (No. 341), and is in fact a vigorous statement of the whole case against the Spanish methods of government, more especially as expounded by Don John and his advisers. It is curious to note, as showing the slowness with which information filtered down to the mass of the people, that the intercepted letters are referred to as still only a matter of hearsay for the citizens generally.
Simultaneously with, and no doubt in some measure as a counterpoise to the nomination of the Prince to the chief post in Brabant, the government of Flanders was conferred on the Duke of Aerschot. It was not a fortunate selection. The Duke was a very recent recruit to the national cause, and his loyalty to it was not beyond suspicion. A letter, which may or may not have been genuine (No. 343), but which undoubtedly expressed the views of its alleged author, J. de Hessele, late a prominent member of 'Alva's Council of Troubles,' was in existence. It was addressed to one of Don John's leading partisans, and implicated the Duke and other gentlemen in a project of treason. The leaders of the insurrection at Ghent do not appear to have seen this till later ; but the Duke's record was of a kind to cause suspicion, which the recent proceedings at Douay would not tend to allay (No. 404) ; and the end of it all was that the Duke of Aerschot had barely reached Ghent, the capital of his province, when, 'to welcome him,' as Davison drily remarks 'to his new government,' he and several other gentlemen of high position, including the Bishops of Bruges and Ypres, were arrested by the city authorities and put in prison. The States-General and the Prince of Orange at once sent their commissioners, and obtained the release of the Duke, who still retained his governorship, though one is not surprised to learn that he had thoughts of resigning it. The other prisoners remained in custody. Davison, who knew the 'wont' of the turbulent citizens of Ghent, thought their position sufficiently perilous. However, nothing further happened to them at present ; though when the Bishops, presuming on the permission granted them to attend Divine Service, tried to escape, they were more closely confined. M. de Champagney, whose name Davison includes among those arrested, had in fact made his escape beforehand.
The doings at Ghent naturally caused some uneasiness in England. The Duke's brother was still there, engaged in a delicate negotiation, the success of which was desired by many about the Court, where the Marquis was also personally liked. The Prince wrote him a friendly letter, announcing his brother's release (No. 448) ; but the revelation of the passions which still smouldered in the Low Countries at a moment when there seemed a chance that men of both religions were uniting against the Spaniard, evidently disturbed the Queen and her ministers a good deal. It was plain that the fiercer spirits at Ghent were not satisfied with the loyalty of the States-General as a body ; and the latter had to clear themselves of a suspicion, among others, of intriguing with the Duke of Anjou (No. 459). A string of questions were drawn up and sent to Davison ; which, with his answers, appear in No. 455. They are obviously intended to elicit a clear summary of the situation ; and they do so. On the whole, it seems fairly favourable.
In the last week of November occurred the foolhardy and unauthorized attempt of Colonel Helling to seize Amsterdam, which had no result save the loss of his own and his men's lives. Davison gives an account of the incident, and refers to it again.
A letter from Leicester to Davison of Nov. 22nd (No. 453), throws a curious light on some undercurrents of English politics. One party, with whom the Queen was personally in sympathy, had clearly no love for the Prince of Orange or the cause represented by him. Davison had stated plainly that the States were not supporting him loyally. The Marquis of Havrech reported the statement to them, thereby drawing down on the Ambassador a sharp remonstrance from them (No. 407). Davison rejoined in a letter to Walsingham (No. 406), but the Marquis had the ear of the Queen, who was disposed to censure Davison, while even Leicester evidently thinks he had not acted with due diplomatic caution.
With a view of counteracting the influence of the States' envoys, Don John sent over M. de Gastel, a Burgundian attached to the King's Court, and now in his employ, who had already been at the English Court in the previous January. Gastel arrived, having not without some difficulty evaded the Flushing cruisers—bets about his capture were freely laid on 'Change—in London, on Nov. 23rd ; and was sent, the plague being rife in the capital, to air himself, as he wrote to Don John, a little way from Windsor.
On Dec. 1st he had audience. No copy of his instructions seems to be preserved, but there cannot be much doubt that they practically embodied Don John's dispatch to the States of Aug. 24th (No. 146). On Dec. 4th, the States' envoys replied (No. 470), probably according to instructions already issued with a view to such a contingency. Gastel rejoined on the next or following day (No. 476), and on the 7th the envoys, speaking more on their own account, rebut the various charges (No. 479). That same day, the States were issuing a "placard," in which Don John was declared a public enemy. On the 9th, Gastel was sent back, apparently without any official expression of the Queen's views or intentions.
During this little interlude, the negotiations with the States' envoys did not stand still. On Dec. 2nd they presented a memorandum (No. 462) embodying the views of the States, acting by the advice of the Prince of Orange. On the 8th, or perhaps a few days later, a reply was given in the form of "postills" to the requests, and articles were drawn up (Nos. 487, 487a) to serve as the basis of an alliance between England and the Low Countries. Both drafts and fair copy of these exist among the papers ; the former showing in the numerous corrections and alterations in Burghley's hand, and occasionally in Walsingham's, the consideration bestowed on them. One of Burghley's emendations, in particular, is significant. He had written that "no important matter . . . . shall be treated of without the consent of her Majesty or of the General of the English force." But this post was likely to be held by the Earl of Leicester, for whose judgement the Lord Treasurer felt no great respect, and the words are altered to "such her Majesty's ministers as she shall appoint there to reside."
About the same time the States settled the terms on which the Archduke Matthias was to be admitted as Governor. While perfectly courteous towards the King, they distinctly confer the real power on the Estates, and in fact embody the policy set forth in the Prince's memorandum already referred to. The articles were forwarded to the Archduke, and accepted by him on Dec. 17th, though some weeks were still to elapse before he reached Brussels, and took the oath of office.
Meantime he was provisionally declared governor.
Desultory skirmishing without much result went on throughout December. A paper (No. 502) gives a summary of the military operations from Nov. 25th to Dec. 12th. It is a melancholy tale of opportunities missed. Meanwhile Don John was gathering strength every day. Italians, Spaniards, and French were flocking to his standard (see No. 431). A letter to Davison from an anonymous officer in the States' camp (No. 517) indicates clearly the slackness prevailing there as compared with the activity among the enemy. Ten days later, on Christmas day, Davison writes (No. 541), 'The States' provision for war goes coldly forward, being handled with such confusion as is both strange and dangerous.' The Catholic noblemen, Lalaing, la Motte, Egmont, and others, who were in command, had, as subsequent events showed, no real heart for the national cause. They had doubtless no great affection for Spanish rule, and for a moment their jealousy of the Prince of Orange had been overlaid by a greater jealousy, not unmingled with fear, of Don John, but Don John was for the present, or so it seemed, powerless for mischief, while the growth of independence among the burghers of the towns, as manifested at Douay, and yet more vigorously at Ghent, where the citizens, led by nobles, renegades to their order, had ventured to lay hands on the first nobleman of the country, boded no good to the aristocratic party. It must be said, too, that though for some time past, in fact since the Pacification of Ghent, outrages upon Churchmen and Church property had practically ceased, there was no security that in the present temper of the Ghent and Brussels citizens they might not be revived on slight provocation. Indeed, the arrest of two bishops at Ghent must, to many good Catholics, have savoured of sacrilege and the breach of a law more imperative even than patriotism.
Some such idea was doubtless present to the wiser heads among the States-General, when on Dec. 10th they ratified the agreement known as 'the Closer Union' (No. 498), whereby either side bound itself to respect the freedom of conscience of the other. Allegiance to the king is taken for granted, and a provisional acceptance of Matthias 'until other order be taken by his Majesty and the States-General' winds up the document.
A final effort to bring about some kind of compromise was made from England ; promoted, it would seem, by that party in the Council which did not regard the cause of Protestantism abroad as sufficiently important to justify the country in incurring on its account all the dangers of open breach with Spain, which was inevitable if the predominant anti-Spanish sentiment, of which Leicester was just now the champion, had its way. A long and interesting memorandum by the Earl of Sussex (No. 495) contains suggestions for a dispatch in which emphasis is laid on the unsuitability of Don John as Governor and the Queen's own grounds of complaint against him—wherein the intercepted letters again play a prominent part. At the same time some colourable excuse had to be found for the aid about to be sent to those whom the king could not well help regarding as rebels. Money might perhaps pass undetected ; but a force of some thousand men, in arms against the king's own troops, would need explanation, even allowing for the extraordinarily elastic views of the sixteenth century as to what constituted a casus belli. The explanation was ingenious. There was reason to believe that designs upon the Low Countries were entertained in France. The Queen was sincerely desirous that no other potentate should 'invest' himself in the King of Spain's dominions. The subject is only covertly touched on in Sussex's memorandum ; but a fortnight later, when the envoy, Mr. Wilks, was ready to start, and instructions were drawn up for his guidance, the danger of French interference was one of the points on which he was directed strongly to insist. It is treated with a certain amount of mystery. 'We would be loth to discover to many, what by secret intelligence has come to our knowledge, yet we cannot but acquaint him with it. Touching which you shall communicate to him Monsieur's letter.' What letter is here intended is not very clear ; it may be that of Oct. 25th to the States, copies of which had reached England. At any rate, the king might be assured that if English troops, or troops paid with English gold, came into conflict with Spanish troops, it would be entirely in his own interest, and in defence of his territory.
Wilks was not unfavourably received. 'There never was fairer weather made to the English nation in Spain than there is at present,' was, according to Laurence Tomson (No. 622), the sum of his report. But the prudent secretary adds—'we had never more need to take heed, tum enim maxime fallunt, cum id agunt ut viri boni esse videantur.' If he had read a little note in the king's handwriting still extant (Spanish Calendar, 1578, No. 473), couched in that tone of superiority which made the Spaniard of those days hold much the same place in the affection of Europe as the Englishman for a similar reason holds now, and contemplating the possibility of having to burn Wilks, 'for some impertinence,' Tomson would have been confirmed in his view of the situation.
Simultaneously with Wilks's mission, Leighton was sent to the Low Countries. He was to deal with the States and with Don John in the sense of the instructions given in No. 535. Both sides were to be admonished concerning the inexpediency and wastefulness of war generally ; a strong hint was to be given to the States that too rigid stubbornness in resisting authority might lead to the withdrawal of the Queen's favour ; while Don John was to be reminded that certain expressions in the intercepted letters were inspired by a spirit not precisely of friendship towards England, and to be asked either to disavow them or apologize for them. This last demand, however, was not to be put forward in such a way as to endanger the chances of conciliation. A friendly message was sent to the Archduke, but no word was said of the Prince of Orange except in a final paragraph dealing with complaints of piracy, which would fall under his cognizance as governor of the maritime provinces. Otherwise he is practically ignored. For one reason and another he was not at this moment persona grata in England. The house of Croy, of which the Marquis of Havrech was a prominent member, though just now anti-Spanish, bore no affection to Calvinist democrats in general, nor to the Prince in particular. The Marquis himself might gratify the pious Earl of Leicester by going to church in London, and "showing great liking for the form of our Church service," while Leicester might take a cheerful view of his disposition towards the Prince, and cherish hopes of, nay, even be willing to lay the odds on his conversion to Protestantism (No. 530) ; but his influence at Court was hardly likely to be thrown on the Protestant side. The Queen, and those who thought with her that political subordination was a more important matter than religious freedom, had even gone so far as to counsel the States through their envoys 'to maintain the Roman religion in which they were born and bred.' A letter of Dec. 7th, from Walsingham to Davison, which has unfortunately disappeared, seems from Davison's reply (No. 508) to have contained some reference to this state of things. The reply gives a remarkable insight into the Prince's methods ; his desire to keep as much as possible in the background, humouring the little jealousies and suspicions of himself entertained by the States, and all the while using his influence in favour of the English alliance, though keeping the Duke of Anjou in reserve as a second string. (A little trait of contemporary manners may be noted, by the way, in the P.S. to Davison's letter.) He had no illusions, such as seem to have been still surviving in England, as to the possibility of maintaining peace with the king, and thought the missions of Wilks and Leighton no better than labour lost. Indeed, peace was the last thing he wanted. The one cause upon which all classes and parties in the Low Countries could unite was resistance to Spanish rule, in defence primarily of religious freedom (though political rights came in). Knowing this he had taken pains to make war inevitable ; and it was with no little dismay that he found the Queen giving advice, which, if accepted, would lead to certain disruption between North and South. "Nothing," he writes from Ghent, where he was endeavouring to compose the not yet subsided excitement to Davison (No. 580), "would be more injurious to the cause of religion ; for when those who demand its suppression see that those from whom we might look for some favour not only do not favour us but oppose us, I leave you to think if they will ever do anything for the religion on which the union of these countries is founded."
Leighton's instructions did not inculcate submission quite to this point. On the day when the Prince wrote, he delivered the States a brief summary of his message, or rather of that sent to the king. In their reply they demur, not without reason, to any proposal of an armistice until they know Don John's views on the subject. Towards him the envoy proceeded ; but no record has been preserved of his doings at Luxembourg, if he ever reached that place. He did not write to Davison, with whom he was not on very good terms. On Jan. 10th he was still at Brussels, whence he sent Burghley a report of Don John's forces from some unknown correspondent. On or about the 28th, he started homeward, reaching the Court on the morning of Feb. 4th.
Havrech and Meetkerke had returned about the middle of December, with promise of assistance in men and money. In the course of January, M. de Famars was dispatched by the States to act as their permanent agent, and especially to arrange for the conveyance of the promised succours. On Jan. 18th the Archduke made his entry into Brussels, and on the 20th took the oath of office ; the Prince being at the same time sworn in as his Lieutenant-general. Things looked fairly prosperous for the States, and the Prince wrote in a cheerful tone to Burghley and the Queen. Davison, however, was not quite at his ease, scenting the coming defection of the southern provinces. Count Lalaing, governor of Hainault, and just now commander-in-chief of the States' army in the field, had been 'practised' by the Queen of Navarre in her brother's interests ; he had, as has been said, no love for the Prince of Orange ; he was jealous of possible loss of position if English troops in any number came over, besides the hindrance their presence might offer to Anjou's plans. Now he was showing signs of discontent, and inciting the Estates of Hainault to suggest delay in the dispatch of Famars (No. 605). He was however summoned to Brussels in the last week in January, and made some kind of submission ; after which he was ordered back to his post at the front. Fortunately, perhaps, for him he never got there. On Jan. 31st, Don John, or rather the Prince of Parma, who had by this time joined him, caught the States' army on the march, encumbered with sick and munitions, and with most of its superior officers absent, on its way to concentrate at Gemblours, and routed it effectually (Nos. 620, 623). Edward Whitechurch, travelling rapidly from Brussels, brought the news to Hampton Court by 3 a.m. on Feb. 4th (No. 625), Leighton arriving later in the day.
The news caused some consternation in England. A Council was promptly called, and at the moment no better expedient could be devised than sending Leighton back again, this time accredited to the Prince of Orange, as well as to the States. His instructions, after expressions of condolence, and assurances of the Queen's continued interest in their cause, deal with the rather delicate question of the delay in furnishing the promised aid. As a matter of fact, the Queen's inclination had been veering for some time. On Jan. 8th, Burghley had confided to the Portugal ambassador his own and her annoyance at the continuance of the war. The musters had indeed gone out to the counties soon after the middle of January, but there matters rested. Laurence Tomson, writing on Feb. 2nd, considers the delay to be due to the evil counsel of 'such as incline more to the faction of Spain than to her Majesty's safety and the quiet estate of the realm.' Leighton is instructed to ascribe it rather to Count Lalaing's difference with the States, and dislike to English troops ; a reasonable cause enough. It was no use to risk a quarrel with Spain for the sake of people who could not agree among themselves, nor to send her soldiers to join an army where the commander-in-chief did not want them.
Leighton's second mission seems to have been conducted with some secrecy. He started on Feb. 7th, yet by the 12th Davison evidently knew nothing of his coming, as he minuted a letter to him on that day, plainly under the impression that he was still in England. No reference to his proceedings is to be found in any document extant in the Record Office ; but a letter from the States to the Queen given by M. Kervyn de Lettenhove from the archives of the Hague, shows that he had delivered his message by the 16th. On the 24th, he was back in England. Possibly he found his position a little awkward. On Feb. 14th, Famars had had an interview with Walsingham (K. d. L., No. 3,782), and had been told plainly that the Queen and Council did not intend to send the promised aid without being assured that Duke Casimir was coming with plenty of reiters. Some of the money might be used to start him. The envoy naturally observed that there was nothing about this in the treaty which the Marquis had brought back with such satisfaction a few weeks before, but was told that such was the decision. If 3,000 men were any good to them, they would be allowed to go over in small detachments, but not as an organized body under one commander-in-chief. His letter is dated Feb. 15th, but either it was delayed in arrival or the States did not publish it. Davison, meanwhile, was being kept in the dark. Walsingham had been unwell, and a good deal occupied with Scottish affairs, so that he wrote nothing from Jan. 11th to Feb. 25th. Indeed it is only from his diary that we know of a letter even at the latter date. All that survives is a line from Tomson (No. 695) ; which however is of interest as propounding a further excuse for the delay. 'For men there is more difficulty made'—Tomson does not seem to have been taken fully into his chief's confidence, unless we may suppose that Famars misunderstood Walsingham, and reported the refusal as more absolute than it yet was—'on account of sundry intelligences sent from divers places of an invasion intended by the enemy on Ireland.' This anticipation of an attempt on Ireland, more or less authorised, at any rate subsidised by the Catholic Powers, was very prevalent. James Fitzmorris was dodging about the coasts from Lisbon to le Croisic. Stukeley was in Italy, on some business connected with a great expedition which the King of Portugal was fitting out, for an attack on Morocco he said, but who could tell ? The Portugal ambassador was closely questioned on the subject ; his letters were intercepted, and sent over to the ingenious Marnix for decipherment. Probably the Kings of France and Portugal were sincere in repudiating any complicity in such a design ; and the King of Spain had his hands pretty full. The fear however was probably genuine, and the alarmist dispatches of Sir Amyas Poulet, whose conviction of French duplicity and astuteness has at times a curiously modern ring in its expression, would not tend to diminish it.
Whatever the reason for the Queen's hesitation, it caused much uneasiness at Antwerp, to which city the seat of government had since the defeat of Gemblours been transferred. Davison was besieged by enquiries as to what was going on in England, and whether the Queen meant business (No. 667). Finally it was thought well to send the Marquis over again, with orders to press for an early decision. The resolution of the States is dated Feb. 26th, and he is directed not to spend more than ten days in the negotiation. As a matter of fact he started on March 8th, had his first audience on the 21st, took leave on April 10th, but was still in London on April 20th, and was back in Antwerp 'very ill-satisfied' about the end of the month. A memorandum in Burghley's hand (No. 727) represents the statement of the case as prepared for his edification.
Having practically decided to assist the States by deputy only, the Queen found it necessary to employ a more persuasive tongue than Davison's in reconciling them to the new departure. Daniel Rogers had returned on Feb. 1st from the mission to Casimir, of which more will be said presently ; with him had come Casimir's confidential adviser, and on occasion companion in arms, Dr. Beutrich, part of whose business seems to have been to solicit orders for the troops at his master's disposal. On March 9th, Rogers and Beutrich started back, the former bearing letters from the Queen to the Archduke, the Prince, and the States, besides a friendly note to the Marquis. They are more ingeniously than ingenuously worded, as though the actual method of reinforcing the States having been left open, a bright idea had occurred to the Queen which was now to be communicated to them. In Rogers's instructions (No. 680), it is admitted that the plan now proposed 'may seem different from our former resolution.' This is however merely apparent ; 'if they consider, they shall not find it so.' Yet another reason is assigned for the change, namely, 'the French King's intention to employ a great part of the force of his realm upon the Low Countries in case he understands that any force goes from hence.' Whence this belief, if belief it was, arose, cannot be discovered from anything in the correspondence. Poulet's apprehensions, as we have seen, pointed in quite another direction, but as a matter of fact, the French King seems to have been sincerely desirous to keep on good terms with England. So far as appears, nothing was further from Henry III's intentions than open interference in the Low Countries.
A further point is, that the States wanted Casimir to bring troops anyhow ; but that the number they suggest (see Nos. 176, 664) is not sufficient for a person of his quality. At least 6,000 Swiss and 5,000 horse will be needed to give him the prestige he is entitled to ; and it will be better for the English aid to take the form of money only. £20,000 have already been promised as a loan ; a further sum of the same amount will now be advanced to start Casimir ; while the Queen is willing to let them pledge her credit for £100,000 more. A characteristic attempt is made to merge the second £20,000 in the £100,000, but this is withdrawn before the instructions are finally settled.
The whole story of the negotiations with Casimir is highly interesting. Rogers was at first sent in the summer of 1577 to deal with him on two main points, not unconnected. The centre of disturbance was at that time not in the Low Countries, but in France, where the sixth war of religion was running a somewhat perfunctory course. La Charité and Issoire had indeed been captured with circumstances of some ferocity ; but the siege of Rochelle was languidly pushed, and when Brouage surrendered it was on terms that do not suggest any wish to drive the enemy to extremities. Huguenot agents went to and fro between England, France, and Germany. As before, Casimir and his reiters were to get them out of the scrape, and the Queen was to find a large part of the money to pay them. Her own position was difficult. An open breach with France was even less desirable than one with Spain. A letter from Leicester to Walsingham (No. 100) gives a vivid picture of her dilemma. Intercepted letters had as usual revealed the whole scheme to the French Court (see also No. 135). The ambassador is to press for an assurance that Casimir shall not have help from England. This is just what the Queen wants to avoid giving. She 'stands much upon her word,' and if she promises, she will feel bound to abstain from helping the cause, which, if not she herself, the majority of her subjects and at least half her ministers believe to be the right one. The mere dread of the reiters, however, produced its effect, and on Sept. 14th peace was concluded at Bergerac (No. 252).
Besides the question of the reiters, Rogers had another matter to deal with. In the face of the league of Catholic Powers, it was all-important that those who, as Casimir wrote, 'by the grace of God have left the abominations of Popery,' should present an undivided front to the common enemy. It was proposed to form a Protestant league in which the Queen of England would take a leading place. Dr. John Rogers, Daniel's brother, who had just started to negotiate on mercantile matters with Denmark, was privately commissioned to deal in this cause also (No. 30). Unfortunately, there were difficulties caused by dissensions within the Protestant camp itself ; jealousies between Lutherans and Calvinists were rife. There was even reason to believe that the opposition between the two branches was fomented by Catholic subsidies, given to the 'Ubiquitarian' leaders (No. 314). Lutheran princes discussed at the dinner-table the chances of damage to the other party from the imagined Portuguese expedition against England (No. 323). Lutheran divines at Montbéliard supplied information to the Duke of Guise (Nos. 774, 890, 911). It was even proposed to hold an assembly at Magdeburg, with a view of condemning the doctrine of the Calvinists. This kind of thing would of course be disastrous to the 'common cause,' and means must be found to bring the right and left wings of Protestantism into harmony, and render practicable the league of Protestant princes, which was a design favoured in many quarters at this time.
Accordingly we find at the opening of this present volume, a letter from Duke Casimir to the Queen (No. 27), begging her to send a representative to the proposed meeting. Daniel Rogers had already started with instructions to confer with him on the subject of the league, and on receipt of this further appeal Robert Beale was accredited to the chief Protestant princes of Germany (Nos 130, 131). He was in the first place to try to dissuade them from holding an assembly ; and failing that, to announce the Queen's intention of sending commissioners to it. Beale's journey opened unpropitiously. The vessel that carried him was captured by 'Flushingers' on the way across, and he was robbed of all his portable property (No. 164). His friends at home, if we may judge by a letter from Leicester to Davison (No. 180), treated the incident with regrettable flippancy ; at least the suggestion that 'Monsr. Mova.' meaning, no doubt, the excellent ambassador of France, had a hand in the outrage, can hardly be meant seriously and the words following, though their precise significance is obscure, clearly contain a disrespectful play on the victim's name.
There is a further reference to the matter in No. 202, and a list of the crew who committed the piracy will be found among the papers of 1575, where by some mistake it got calendared (For. Cal. 1575, No. 551). It is to be feared that Mr. Beale got little or no redress.
Beale reached the scene of his operations on Sept. 17th, and took up his quarters at first at Frankfort. In his first letter from that place (No. 246) he gives an account of the action of the Lutheran party, and of the attitude taken upon the question by sundry of the German princes. The matter was becoming serious, and causing divisions not only between one state and another but even between members of the same houses. Another event which was causing a good deal of excitement in Europe at this moment is referred to in the same letter. The Elector of Cologne, Salentin von Isenburg, had recently, by permission, resigned his orders with a view to marrying. There were two candidates for the vacancy, Ernest of Bavaria, Bishop of Freising, and Gebhard Truchsess von Waldburg, Dean of Strasburg. The former was strongly backed by Gregory XIII, the King of Spain, Don John, and the Papist party generally ; his presence on the Rhine being expected to prove useful as a check on Casimir's movements. Truchsess, on the other hand, though equally a Catholic, enjoyed a doubtful reputation for orthodoxy, and was regarded with less apprehension by the Protestants (No. 469) ; a view which his subsequent career justified. The Bavarian prince made so certain of success, that he 'sent down his music, and made other solemn though impertinent provisions' (No. 503) ; but the chapter showed their independence by electing his rival. The Duke vainly appealed to the Pope to annul the election ; the chapter were respectful, but firm ; and the appointment of Truchsess was confirmed.
When Beale's letter was written, the Peace of Bergerac was already a week old, but the news did not reach the Palatinate till some days later. On Sept. 27th, the capture of Brouage formed the subject of conversation at the Elector's dinner-table. Even on October 1st, a messenger returning from the French King with a rejoinder to a letter sent from Neustadt on Aug. 30th, and having therefore started presumably after the conclusion of peace, 'made no mention of it' (No. 305). That the peace was largely owing to the fear of a new invasion of France by Casimir and his reiters can hardly be doubted. The complicity of the Queen of England in the enterprise seems to have been perfectly well known to the French king and his mother (No. 100), and Poulet was pressed hard on the subject (No. 135). Care had no doubt been taken to prevent the French messenger, Braillon, from becoming aware of the presence of English envoys at Casimir's Court ; but the precaution was nullified by a piece of awkwardness, as Rogers evidently considered it, on the part of Beale, who, on his way to Casimir, seems inadvertently to have run into Braillon's arms. Fortunately it was too late for harm to be done.
The peace in France came as a relief to Casimir. Though not liking to thwart the Queen of England, he had no confidence in Frenchmen, whatever their religious persuasion. He seems indeed to have given considerable offence by the free statement of his views in that respect (No. 691). To Rogers he confided that "he would not trust the King of Navarre because of machiavilliards which were about him"—one would like to know whether Casimir himself, or Rogers, is responsible for the term, which is interesting as showing how early the Florentine Secretary's name had become a by-word ; the reiters demanded exorbitant fees for another expedition into France, not having found the last remunerative ; the Emperor did not approve of it. The Duke was ready enough to do the Queen any service that he might in the Low Countries. The Queen herself, though she scolded the King of Navarre for making peace "without her privity," must also have been relieved by the turn events had taken. She wanted a quarrel with France even less than with Spain. Probably no two potentates in Europe understood each other as well as she and the Queen Mother of France ; and both knew that save for the matter of religion in which we cannot suppose the feelings of either to have been very deeply engaged, there was no conflict of interests between the two countries. So long as the war lasted, public opinion in England demanded that aid should be sent to the Huguenot party. A remarkable dispatch from the Queen herself to Poulet (No. 24) refers to this as a possible cause of complaint on the French side, and suggests various topics of counter-complaint. Elizabeth's perplexities, while the war was still going on, are amusingly depicted in the letter from Leicester to Walsingham already referred to (No. 100) ; while another, from Walsingham to the Prince of Orange (No. 153), seems to suggest that while unable to withstand the pressure put upon her to assist the Protestant cause, she was yet well aware that peace was then, as at most times, the first of English interests.
Of course this was not the view taken by the more fervent partisans. Poulet, who firmly believed in a "close understanding between France and Spain," to the detriment of England, (fn. 9) writes, on Jan. 24th, "as long as our neighbours are occupied abroad there is no doubt of our quietness at home ; but if they be quiet in France and Flanders, our trouble is no less assured unless our bargain be so well made, that who troubles us may be troubled at home by those of his own nation" (No. 607). So far as England and France were concerned, the only outstanding question which might have grown to a serious ground of difference was the seizure by young Lansac of an English fleet of at least alleged merchantmen, off Rochelle, on Sept. 17th, that is, after the declaration of peace. The King evidently felt that this was going rather far, and sent Secretary Pinart to Poulet to make out the best case he could for the turbulent young admiral (No. 253). It was apparently not the first time Lansac had preyed upon English shipping (No. 440). One vessel, the Richard of Arundel, seems to have actually been pressed into the service of the King of France ; and it is gratifying to find that when she was restored to her owners, her claim for pay on that account was recognised (No. 460). Ultimately l'Aubespine was sent over to negotiate on the subject. The Privy Council took a firm attitude in the matter, and by the middle of February, the difference was satisfactorily settled, and the ships released.
The result of the missions to Germany seems to have disappointed the Queen (Nos. 400, 403). John Sturmius, the aged Rector of Strasburg university, took, however, a more favourable view of the success of Rogers's negotiations, and considered that it might be worth while to persevere with the effort to found a Protestant league. Four letters from him, written early in December to Burghley, Walsingham, and the Queen (Nos. 467, 469, 472, 474), are charming in their mitis sapientia. An earlier one from him to Walsingham (No. 258) gives an iuteresting idea of the writer's position as unofficial counsellor to various princes and statesmen ; and incidentally shows the real terror which the Turk at that time caused in Germany.
Rogers, as had been said, returned to England at the beginning of February, a day or two before the receipt of the news of Gemblours, accompanied by Dr. Beutrich. It seems probable that their arrival, and the proposals they brought from Casimir, had a good deal to do with the abandonment of the original scheme of sending an English contingent, in favour of that actually adopted of subsidizing the Duke and his reiters, who were no longer needed in France. The undated memorandum (No. 555) may very well be assigned to this period. It is written in the same hand as most of the French documents belonging to the la Personne-Rogers-Casimir negotiations (e.g., Nos. 136, 137) ; and is probably the result of the conversations held at Neustadt, though it would appear to have been actually written in the Low Countries. It is a somewhat clever document ; obviously written with an eye quite as much to the profit of the Hugnenots as to that of the people on whose behalf it is ostensibly drawn up.
Not until the beginning of March was any definite decision arrived at. Davison, who seems to have been entirely in the dark as to the change of plan, was becoming seriously concerned at the delay, and wrote a long letter, not received till after Rogers had started, urging prompt action. The Marquis of Havrech, availing himself no doubt of his position as a favourite at the English Court, wrote more than once to the Queen in person. At length, on March 9th, (fn. 10) Rogers started again. Beutrich accompanying him, with the instructions already mentioned. For the States, he is to ascribe the new departure to the Queen's fear of French intervention. To Casimir himself, the case was to be stated somewhat differently. The Queen's reluctance to send her own forces was due to information received of "practices against her state." which made it undesirable to denude the country of troops. The decision to employ Casimir is stated to be due to Beutrich's representations. In any case the commission is definitely and directly given to him, though later on it was found convenient to repudiate it.
The change of plan did not give universal satisfaction. Leicester, who had hoped to command the expeditionary force, was "mallincolly," and wrote to Davison in a very despondent tone (No. 681). Walsingham, though more reticent, let his disapproval of the Queen's present line appear pretty plainly in his letter acknowledging Davison's of March 8th (No. 714). At Antwerp the feeling of disappointment was very strong. The States' first impulse was to sue to the King for peace. The Prince expressed apprehension of the effect on Count Lalaing, and the party inclined to look towards France. It seems clear that as yet he himself had no idea of encouraging the design of the Duke of Anjou. Nor had he any great belief in Casimir. Whether, as Villiers told Rogers, from fear of allowing him to become too important, or acting by the advice of his brother-in-law the Count of Schwarzburg, who did not want to see his own contingent reduced to insignificance by that of his neighbour, the Prince endeavoured to keep the force which Casimir was to bring within the lowest limits compatible with the Duke's dignity. In some sarcastic remarks of Rogers—"Beutrich has to do here with the Prince of Orange, not with the Prince of Condé, who gave him every month 1,000 crowns for his pay. The Prince of Orange, who knows how to levy reiters, means to give nothing for doctors' stipends"—we may see the beginning of a a breach which was to acquire serious proportions before the year was out. A curious feature in all these proceedings is the high opinion expressed not only by the Prince, but all the chief persons in the Low Counties, of the military capacity of the Earl of Leicester, and his value as commander of an auxiliary force.
A personage who was destined to play an important part in the relations between England and Spain appears on the scene at this point. In the first letter written by Rogers to Walsingham after his departure from London, he mentioned that at Gravesend he had fallen in with 'Mendoza' ; and writing from the other side, on his way to Bruges, he recurs to the subject (No. 695). Mendoza was of course Don Bernardino, the envoy already destined for England, whom the King of Spain had sent off in hot haste, on finding from Wilks's message that the Queen was prepared to take a strong line in Low Country matters. Possibly he had also some idea that the mood would not last very long. At any rate Mendoza's instructions were of a highly conciliatory character (see Spanish Calendar) for a Spanish communication, and he himself had a sufficiently amicable reception— except indeed from "Pappart, the Flemish merchants' post, who" (meeting him at Gravesend) "all to reviled him, and called him marano." Walsingham was not satisfied with the turn things were taking. "Such as are evil-affected and inclined to Spain take great hold thereof" he writes to Davison in a letter already referred to ; while to Burghley (No. 704) he expressed the opinion that the show of conciliation is merely "an offer of abuse to gain time." Wilson took a similar view. Mendoza had an audience at Greenwich on March 16th, at which neither Burghley nor Walsingham was present, and delivered the message given in No. 700. From his own report we learn that the impression made by the intercepted letters was still strong in the mind of the Queen, causing her to feel a considerable animosity against Don John. In other respects she was far from appearing to justify all the proceedings of the States ; she even seemed to admit the propriety in certain contingencies of punishing them.
On March 20th Mendoza had an interview with the Privy Council, and had to submit to a 'heckling,' conducted chiefly by the Earl of Sussex (No. 716). He took refuge in a general assertion of 'no directions' and ignorance of Don John's instructions. Sussex then handed him a declaration (No. 720) which seems to indicate that the interval since his first audience had been used by that party in the Council which most represented the national sentiment—Walsingham's indisposition having passed off—to bring the Queen back to her earlier views. The French 'practice' is still made the most of ; but the duty of England to "suffer neither Spain or France to tyrannize over those poor people and countries" is boldly asserted. It does not appear that Mendoza referred to this expression when reporting the interview to his sovereign.
Ultimately the States, though with regret, accepted the new arrangement (No. 721). The money transactions involved were of a somewhat complicated nature, and references to them will be found in many letters of this and the succeeding years. Long afterwards an attempt seems to have been made to obtain repayment from the King of Spain, on the ground that the original negotiations were carried on by his subject, the Marquis of Havrech. The sum of £20,000, originally sent as a subsidy to Casimir with a view to his invasion of France, the dispatch of which it was important to keep as secret as possible, had been taken by Christopher Hoddesdon in September. To avoid detection it went in the form of ingots, packed in barrels, with a layer of pewter on the top ; an artifice which, Hoddesdon notes, was so successful "that hitherto no searcher has been privy thereto" (No. 4s). The money now came in useful to promote the employment of the reiters in their new field of action.
Probably owing to lack of money, and the necessity of garrisoning each town as he captured it, but in any case most fortunately for the States, Don John had failed to follow up his victory with any vigour. Several towns fell into his hands, of which Louvain was the most important, and before long, his forces overran the country as far as the frontier of France and Hainault. As a setoff to these losses, Amsterdam came to terms with the Prince (No. 643). Meanwhile Don John had, after a fashion, reopened negotiations. M. de Selles, sent by the King of Spain with a reply (No. 528) to the States' mission of Aug. 24th and Sept. 8th (No. 198), arrived at Brussels on the last day of January. It was brief, and contained no real concession. Between its receipt and the States' answer intervened the disaster of Gemblours ; but the answer (No. 682) shows that their spirit was not yet broken, or perhaps that a master-spirit still controlled them. From the States M. de Selles bore a message to Don John. No copy of this is among the papers, but its tenour may be gathered from the reply (No. 406). There is no sign of concession in this ; indeed, looking to the relative positions of the parties at the moment, it could hardly be expected. In fact, it amounts to a severe scolding of Estates, Archduke, and the opposition generally. So harsh were its terms, that M. de Selles, who seems to have been a pacific person, hesitated a little before sending it. The Estates returned a defiant answer, and on the same day, Don John addressed a manifesto, not, as it would appear, to them, but appealing from them to their constituents, whom the writer affects to believe they have been keeping in the dark. The only rejoinder to this seems to have been a call by the States-General upon the Estates of the provinces for more money to be raised by further taxation, of which a scheme is given (No. 660). All direct negotiation between Don John and the States seems now to have come to an end. M. de Selles, however, wrote to the King on Feb. 20th, pleading for the recognition of the Archduke as governor. The answer, dated March 15th, merely refers on this point to a former letter, and repeats the statement contained therein, that until peace was made, there could be no question of recalling Don John (Nos. 655, 697). The deadlock was complete.
The later letter refers also with approval to a suggestion, due to the Prince of Parma, that Don John and the Prince of Orange should reciprocally put themselves as hostages into the hands of the other side. The wording is a little obscure—'le moyen mis en avant de notre neveu le Prince de Parme et de celui d'Oranges' seems to imply that Parma himself had at first been suggested ; but the reference to 'notre dit frère' just below is plain enough. It is needless to say that the proposal was not accepted ; nor was it probably intended to be.
Meanwhile there were signs that the 'patriots' were not, as a party, as homogeneous as could be wished. All through the winter, Davison had been expressing doubts as to the fidelity of Count Lalaing, whose sympathies both in his own country and in France were believed to be strongly French. With him were coupled, as doubtful patriots, Goignies and la Motte ; the former actually in command of the States' forces at Gemblours. Just before that defeat, Davison had written that so far as Lalaing went, all was 'made whole.' We do not hear much more of the Count till he is deputed with others—"rather because the Conference is in his government than for any sound opinion that is held of him" wrote Davison—in April, to negotiate with the Duke of Anjou's commissioners. The first open defection was that of la Motte, who was at the time governor of Gravelines. Six or seven thousand crowns were enough to detach him from the cause ; and Gourdan, the governor of Calais, was credited with having a hand in the business. The loss of this town in some measure threatened the States' command of the coast, and was regarded as serious both in England and in France. La Motte tried at first to represent the dismissal of his lieutenant and some of his troops, presumably those who remained loyal to the States, as a mere matter of discipline (No. 760) ; but we gather from a letter of Davison's (No. 805), that his excuses were not regarded as convincing. Gravelines was henceforth held for the King.
The Emperor now began to intervene in behalf of peace. In March, the States had sent Count Adolf of Neuenahr to ask for his mediation with the King, and favourable consideration, and about the same time he had written to them, proposing to send Count Schwarzenberg. On May 11th, he writes expressing again his intention of sending a special commissioner, and requesting Don John to take no further action at present.
The Queen of England was also sending to Don John. The information which Mendoza had brought made negotiation seem feasible ; but another motive which doubtless had a great deal to do with this renewed effort for peace was to be found in the progress made by the Duke of Anjou in his dealings with the States. Not that they were on the whole satisfied of the unselfishness of his intentions ; but there was every probability that, driven to seek aid where they could, they might give him, and through him France, a position in the country which would not be to the advantage of England. Thomas Wilks was therefore sent with instructions to make the most of Anjou's designs as a reason for ceasing hostilities. If an armistice could be granted, commissioners of more authority would be sent to mediate a peace.
Wilks returned at the end of the month, having had two audiences of Don John. His report of them, which does not appear to exist elsewhere, is preserved in the Entry Book (No. 830). He found Don John disinclined to attach much importance to the Duke of Anjou's proceedings, somewhat disposed, as before, to resent the Queen's interference, and distrustful of the States' genuine desire for peace. As usual, the Prince of Orange was the rock of offence. On the first point, Wilks, who had just found Rochepot and des Pruneaux at Antwerp, endeavoured to disabuse him. He explained the Queen's interest in the matter as legitimately affected by the injury which the unsettled conditions in the Low Countries were causing to English trade, and pointed out that after the severity with which the country had been treated, a little concession to their "first offence and infirmity" could do no harm. Don John's reply was on the whole conciliatory, especially as to the Queen's interposition. Just at this time he seems to have been trying the effect of leniency. Save for the butchery at Sichenen at the end of February, captured towns were well treated ; and as we learn from the very interesting report of Fenton (fn. 11) (No. 827) the country-people were protected from pillage, and enabled to go quietly about their work. Wilks himself gives similar testimony. After the lapse of a week Don John again sent for him. This time he dwelt more on his own grievances, the injuries and indignities he had received at the hands of the States, and professed his own desire to be relieved of his functions as soon as might be. He no longer raised any objection to the Queen's mediation ; but despaired of peace "so long as the Prince of Orange manages the affairs of the States." At the same time he declared that the only effect of threats would be to drive him into more severe measures. Wilks pressed him on the point of the armistice, and spoke of the Pacification o Ghent ; eliciting the frank admission that the King no longer intended to recognise that instrument.
A curious 'bye-product' of the Queen's temporary attraction towards the Spanish side was a severe reprimand administered to Davison, on the ground that he had failed to keep abreast with her Majesty's somewhat abrupt changes of policy. Unfriendly reports conveyed by Leighton were the immediate cause of her displeasure. Wilks seems to have warned him that a storm was brewing. Walsingham's and Wilson's letters (Nos. 835, 847) are somewhat amusing. Both secretaries must have been far more in sympathy with the opinions which had brought the Ambassador into trouble than with those which they were officially bound to recommend ; and they let this be pretty clearly seen, while inculcating the duty of subordination. Nos. 855 and 857 contain the agent's exculpation, which appears to have been more or less accepted. The dispatch of Walsingham himself and Lord Cobham as Ambassadors extraordinary (No. 901) presently threw him into the background.
A highly characteristic letter from Walsingham is No. 852. Here again it can hardly be doubted that the "intended alteration of the exercise of the Common Prayer in the English House" at Antwerp, under the auspices of Davison and Travers, would have taken a direction with which Walsingham in his private capacity would have been in full sympathy ; indeed, he admits as much. "But," he adds, in words that are not yet out of date, "I would have all reformations done by public authority. It were very dangerous if every man's zeal should carry a sufficient authority of reforming things amiss." No. 854 with its reference to the 'unicorn's horn' of which the Duchess of Bouillon wanted to dispose (Davison's letter on the subject has, alas, disappeared) and to the Queen's "not being so much affected to buying jewels as her father was," is pleasing. The advice to the Prince "not to forget the late accident on St. Bartholomew's Day" probably sounded less comic to the ears of that generation than it does to ours.
After the peace of Bergerac, Poulet's business mostly consisted in keeping an eye on possible invaders of Ireland, among whom the Marquis de la Roche and James Fitzmorris—an elusive personage, of whose movements these papers give a pretty full record—are the most prominent ; and in chronicling the humours of the French Court. The famous duel of the mignons is duly recorded (No. 837). It seems to have interested the Queen a good deal, for in a subsequent letter (No. 908) Poulet added some details respecting it for her special behoof.
Towards the end of May Edward Stafford was sent to Paris on a special mission to hinder, if possible, Anjou's action in the Low Countries. The report sent by him and Poulet of their interview with the King and Queen mother (No. 914) is noticeable from several points of view ; in nothing more than in the Englishmen's rooted distrust of French 'devices,' and belief that Anjou's operations had for their object "to banish religion out of those countries." About the same time Davison was discoursing to the Prince of Orange and proving "somewhat in detail the evident danger of this French traffic ;" holding up as an awful warning "the calamities that befel the estate of Ludovic Sfortia, Duke of Milan" (No. 917). The Prince "took God to witness that for his own part he was so ill a Frenchman, that there was no nation in the world he would less willingly deal with if there were other help."
A few words should be said as to the Spanish letters which seem to have come into possession of the authorities when Guaras was arrested. Nos. 240 and 250 are specially interesting, as showing how assiduously the West of England was being watched by Spanish agents. In the latter of the two letters is a reference to Drake, who had recently started on his famous voyage round the world after successfully mystifying curious enquirers about his destination. We learn from Nos. 70 and 250 that at least one English tradesman, Mr. Ilcombe or Elcombe of Plymouth, was furnishing artillery to the King of Spain. These letters are obviously to some extent couched in cryptic language ; but it seems clear from them that some Roman Catholics of those parts, including Sir John Arundell, were in communication with the Spanish agent. It will be remembered that the arrest of Cuthbert Mayne, a 'mass-priest,' had taken place only a few weeks previously in the house of another Cornish squire, Mr. Tregian, a kinsman of Arundell's. Indeed, when Delechundi's letter of September 22nd was written, Mayne and Tregian must have been undergoing their trial at Launceston, whence he writes. It seems just possible that the severity of the sentences passed on them may not have been so exclusively as has generally been supposed a manifestation of the persecuting spirit.
It has not been thought necessary in every case to specify 'holograph' letters. Leicester's are nearly always in his own hand. Wilson and Rogers rarely employ an amanuensis ; Walsingham less often than the reader could have wished, especially when such a beautiful hand as that of Laurence Tomson was at his disposal. In the same way it has not been thought necessary to notice every case in which the seal of a letter has been preserved.
The letters afford, as may be supposed, an excellent study of the vocabulary and syntax of the period, alike in English and in other languages. Daniel Rogers is fond of somewhat unusual words, such as 'eneger' (enaigrir) and 'platform' (equivalent to our modern 'programme'). He also writes 'forever.' Davison uses 'once' in the modern sense of 'as soon as'—'once I assure myself.' The use of 'well' at the beginning of a sentence, not uncommon with Leicester, is a little uncertain as regards its meaning. 'Well I think' may be 'Well, I think,' or 'I well think.' Walsingham, sad to relate, is very fond of beginning his sentences with the 'unattached' present participle. 'To furry' in the sense of 'to quarter troops' will be found. Curiously enough 'furrier' became almost equivalent to 'messenger' : the same personage, as it would seem, who in these letters is called John Furrier appears in Walsingham's Diary as John Currier. 'Neighbourid' is a curious form used by Davison. 'Success,' 'abuse,' 'offend,' 'jealous,' have all changed their meanings. The writers of these letters invariably use them to mean respectively 'event,' 'mislead,' 'molest' or 'thwart,' 'suspicious.' In Don John's letters we find some peculiar or uncommon uses of certain words. 'Empêché à recevoir' means 'occupied in receiving.' 'Alboroter' is, of course, taken direct from the Spanish. 'Bienveignir,' for 'to welcome,' is a curious form, not quite unknown to writers of that age, though hardly legitimate ; it occurs in a letter from the States (No. 238). 'Se réclamer de,' in the sense of 'to draw authority from,' occurs in a memorandum by the Prince of Orange. 'I knew his speech reached [referred] to Fitzmorris' is a phrase of Poulet's. The use of 'sort' for 'lot,' in the colloquial sense of the latter word (cf. 'ye shall be slain all the sort of you') is an instance of two words identical in their original signification going through the same change, and coming out identical in another and widely different meaning. It need hardly be said that 'these kind of,' an idiom objected to by modern purists, finds plenty of countenance in Elizabethan English.
In conclusion, I have to express my thanks to various officers of the Record Office, for help freely given to a beginner in the business, and to Mr. Story-Maskelyne for having taken off my hands the compilation of the Index. Thanks are also due to Mr. Armstrong, of Queen's College, Oxford, who has been kind enough to read and criticise this Preface.