Calendar of State Papers Foreign, Elizabeth, Volume 13, 1578-1579. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1903.
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The present volume is again mainly occupied with the affairs of the Low Countries. The situation at the beginning of June, 1578, was somewhat as follows. Elizabeth's efforts through her agents at Paris and Antwerp to hinder the projected interference of the Duke of Anjou had failed. He himself had not indeed yet left France, but some of his troops had already entered Hainault, the government of Count Lalaing, with that nobleman's connivance. It was not absolutely clear either whether he was prompted bona fide by personal ambition, or whether, as some thought, and as Davison hinted to the Prince of Orange, though Poulet was convinced of the contrary, the expedition was to lead up to co-operation with Don John. By the middle of May the Queen had made up her mind to send a special embassy into the Low Countries, Walsingham himself being included in it. Leicester would have liked a place, but ultimately William Brooke, Lord Cobham, the Warden of the Cinque Ports, was selected.
The ambassadors' instructions are dated June 12 (No. 17). They are to try the effect of personal persuasion on the chief people concerned, including Don John ; to whom they are to represent the Queen as in no way a party to the French schemes, nor in sympathy with any plan for detaching the countries from Spain. At the same time the present state of things cannot be allowed to go on indefinitely. Failing any result with Don John, they are to ascertain the precise position of affairs among the people of the countries ; the capacity for further resistance, and above all the extent to which unity is in danger from religious and other differences. Lastly the States are to be cautioned against allowing the Duke of Anjou to bring too large a force into the country. If his troops, together with those which Casimir is to furnish, are deemed insufficient, they shall be reinforced from England ; but in that case the Queen will expect security for their cost in the shape of one or two towns. Sluys and Flushing are suggested as suitable.
The intervention of 'Monsieur' is here accepted without demur. It was not so, however, in the first instance. In an earlier draft of the instructions (No. 16) the ambassadors were "to dissuade altogether the receiving of Monsieur, the French king's brother," and to promise English aid against him, if, as was anticipated, being rebuffed by the States, he should ally himself with Don John. In order if possible to ascertain whether any understanding already existed between the two, it was suggested that information of the treaty between Monsieur and the States might be sent to Don John, whose demeanour on receipt of it might indicate how far the prospect of an alliance was a cause of genuine apprehension to him. If it were not, collusion between him and Anjou might be assumed. That there was such collusion, was, as has been said, a belief held in various quarters. Poulet (No. 21) quotes a report to that effect ; but, true to his opinion of French duplicity, seems to think that it may be merely an artifice "to make Monsieur odious to those of the Religion."
Something had evidently happened, between the original drafting of the instructions and their final approval, to alter the minds of the Queen and her adviser, in regard to Anjou's design. Stafford's instructions (see No. 870 in the last volume) have unfortunately come down in a mutilated state, so we do not know precisely what they may have contained. In the audience which he and Poulet had on May 25 the question of the expedition to the Low Countries formed the sole topic. Nor does any record seem to exist of the visit, which on the following day he talked of paying to Monsieur, if it ever took place. But on his return to London (June 13) he bore a letter from the Queen Mother, from which it seems pretty clear that part of his errand was to sound her as to a revival of the twice-suspended negotiations for a marriage between her younger son and the Queen of England. Catherine writes with much geniality on the subject"la chose de ce monde que j'ai autant dsire et dsire tant que je ne pensais pouvoir tant vivre que je en voy l'effect et la consommation." (No. 8.) She even goes so far, mindful perhaps of a letter in which, some years before, Elizabeth had styled her 'mother,' as to reciprocate the relation, by a doubtless calculated inadvertence, and addresses her as 'madame ma bonne fille.' As early as June 7, that is, some days before this letter came to hand, Walsingham had instructed Poulet to let the Duke know "that in some sort her Majesty would be content that he should deal in the Low Countries," and to induce the Huguenot leaders to give him support. Similar assurances were given to du Vray, who about the middle of June paid a flying visit to England on Anjou's behalf.
Du Vray does not seem to have been commissioned to deal in the matter of the marriage. This business was intrusted to Bacqueville and de Quissy, who came over about the end of July. It is curious that their arrival should have been the first revelation to Burghley that the plan had been revived ; but from his own statement in No. 123 so it appears to have been. A little later, in a letter to Walsingham (No. 149) Leicester refers in a somewhat mysterious manner to the scheme, as though the marriage were being held out to the duke as the reward for good behaviour in the Low Countries, and as a kind of indemnification for any claims that he might abstain from asserting there. He also cautions Walsingham against showing any dislike to the marriage, and states his own belief that the Queen herself "has little enough devotion to it." Later (No. 201) he looks at it in a somewhat different light ; as if, failing the close alliance with the States, the marriage would be a source of strength to the country.
On Sep. 7 Bacqueville was admitted to a farewell audience, in the presence of Burghley, Leicester, and Hatton. The message then given to him by the Queen for transmission to his master was highly characteristic. While not wholly approving the lapse that had been allowed to occur in the negotiations, she agreed to say no more about it. She "would never marry any person whom she should not first herself see." At the same time she warned Anjou that he might come, might be seen, yet not approved ; and she advised him not to come unless he were prepared to accept an unfavourable decision without rancour. The envoys returned to Mons with this message, and were sent on to Paris. Poulet had an interview with Bacqueville, and learnt from him that Simier, Anjou's most confidential follower, was to be sent over, evidently with a view to a vigorous prosecution of the suit. On Nov. 3 Simier announced his coming to Mauvissire, Walsingham, and Stafford. For some reason which does not very clearly appear, Anjou or his advisers shrank at this time from the personal meeting required by the Queen ; and Simier urges his correspondents to persuade her not to insist upon it. A few days later the Queen Mother and her daughter found time in their southern tour to plead the duke's cause (Nos. 259, 698) and the French king added a few lines of fraternal affection. On Nov. 20 Walsingham replied in a letter evidently drafted with great caution. No hope is held out that the interview will be dispensed with, the offence given by the interruption of the former negotiations is again alluded to, and the general impression left on the reader's mind is that, while Elizabeth did not mean business, she intended to conceal the fact as long as possible.
The exact attitude of Anjou's mother and brother towards his schemes in the Netherlands is less easy to divine. On June 2 the king had sent M. de Revers (or Revest) to the Prince of Orange, with instructions (No. 27) (which fell into the hands of la Motte, and were by him forwarded to the States, a copy also reaching the English envoys) to urge upon him the desirability of coming to terms with the King of Spain. In these there is no allusion to Anjou's plan, unless it be in the warning, "not lightly to trust the fine promises which may be made to him from divers quarters." Poulet, writing on June 23, is of opinion (No. 37) "that Monsieur has meant to give help to the States, yet not for their benefit but his own greatness ; that he is not affected to the Spaniard . . . . . that the king wishes him gone already, not that he desires his good speed, but is rather persuaded that he and the Estates alike will sink under this burden, and that Queen Mother will never like this enterprise, as tending to the diminution of her own credit at home and abroad." Anjou's envoy, Dampmartin, was at the same time at Antwerp, charged with the duty of quickening the progress of the negotiations. On June 25, he laid before the Estates a dispatch containing professions of disinterestedness, persuasions enforced by instances from Greek history, and something like a threat of what might happen if his troops did not soon find employment. At that moment Anjou's mother and sister were visiting him at Alenon, where the former, at any rate, appears to have really made some attempt to dissuade him from his purpose. Considering the part which the Queen of Navarre had played in the initial stage of the scheme, we can hardly suppose that any influence of hers was cast on the same side. The king meanwhile was on a short tour in Normandy ; it would seem with the view of exercising some personal pressure to hinder the supply of forces to his brother from that province. Poulet, writing on July 7 (No. 71), is still unable to divest himself of suspicions that "there is strait intelligence" between the brothers, and that the real object of the preparations is not Flanders, but the Huguenots, or even England.
On the night of the day that Poulet wrote, Anjou, with a staff which included la Noue and Bussy, was riding from Verneuil in Normandy towards the Flemish frontier. A message brought by Villeroy from the king to the effect that military measures would be used to prevent his forces from leaving France, had no effect. On the 13th he was at Mons.
Meanwhile Walsingham and Cobham, who had landed at Dunkirk, on June 20, and reached Antwerp on the 28th, were in communication with the States. At a conference held on July 2, with some representatives of that body, including the Prince of Orange and the Duke of Aerschot, they had imparted the substance of their instructions ; so far as concerned the dealings with Anjou, speaking indeed rather in the spirit of their first than of their final form (No. 57). The Prince justified the negotiations, so far as they had gone, on the ground that it was important to run no risk of detaching Hainault from the common cause. On the question of treating with Don John, or rather with the king, opinions seem to have been divided ; some thinking that it might have an injurious effect on the collection of taxes, and induce some of doubtful loyalty to make terms themselves ; while others, among whom the Prince seems to have been, thought that, looking to the insecurity of the present union, they had better treat while they were relatively stronger. A list of definite questions as to their prospects and resources was also put to the States (No. 64), and answered by them very fully on July 8. They recite the usual grievances ; make the usual professions of loyalty to the king and complaints of Don John, ask for the confirmation of the Archduke as governor, and assert their determination to carry on the war to the end and "shake off the yoke of the intolerable servitude to Spain." They speak on the whole with confidence as to their resources, but press the Queen to declare her intentions, and to give some more solid assistance than the guarantee for 100,000 on which they have so far been unable to raise anything.
The real difficulty, as the Prince had hinted at the conference, was the question of religion, with which, as Cobham noted (No. 65), social differences were involved. The position was unlike that in France, where Protestantism was if anything stronger proportionally among the gentry than among the lower classes. Here "though the common people much embrace it, there are few of the nobles affected to it." An effort was, however, made to grapple with the difficulty. A few days later a measure to secure toleration, by granting permission to hold public worship of either confession wherever as many as 100 persons desired it, was approved by the States and sent to the provinces for approval (No. 87). This so-called 'Peace of Religion' (Religie Vrede) took very little effect, except in Antwerp itself. Three months later, Davison, ever sanguine, wrote (No. 259) that it was "now general consented to by the States" but as he adds "to the singular contentment of the Protestants," one may assume that at best its working was one-sided.
As soon as the ambassadors reached the Low Countries, in pursuance of their instructions they dispatched ertain members of their staff to gain some knowledge of the state of affairs in Artois, Flanders, and Hainault, by personal inspection and enquiry. One party, of which Henry Killegrew and Guildford Walsingham, a kinsman of the Secretary, were the principal members, visited Ypres, Lille, Tournay and Ghent. Their report shows very clearly the state of parties. There were the protestants on one wing, the passionate papists called Johannists, who rather than forgo their religion would have Don John to rule them, on the other. Between the two, holding a position like that of the politiques in France, were the bons patriotes, good Catholics enough, but no friends to Spanish domination. At present these for the most part held with the protestants, though in the matter of foreign aid they were inclined to look rather to France, that is, the Duke of Anjou, than to Germany and England. A record of the travelling expenses of this party is preserved. It is of an amount to make the modern tourist's mouth water ; 7 seems to have covered four persons' hotel bills and conveyance for five or six days.
Another party, Captains Cary and Malby and Mr. Asby, made a wider circuit, through what is now French Flanders ; taking, among other places, St. Omer, Hesdin, Arras, Douai, Cambrai and Mons. They found the Catholics in a strong majority, but no affection for Spain. Capres, who was governing at Arras as locum tenens for the Viscount of Ghent, was suspected of French sympathies, as was Count Lalaing at Mons. No one so far foresaw that in little more than a year all these noblemen would be in the pay of Spain. The report of George Cary and William Pelham, who visited Ostend, Sluys, and Ghent, is missing from the Record Office papers, but will be found in the British Museum.
The Ambassadors themselves paid a visit on July 15, in the company of the Archduke, to the States' camp near Lierre, and were well satisfied with the appearance of the force. Their next business was to open communications with Monsieur, of whose arrival at Mons news had now reached Antwerp ; 'perplexing and confounding opinions,' as Davison wrote in an agitated letter (No. 87). Montdoucet, who had come to Antwerp on the 13th, called on them two days later with the information. (It is curious that though in his dispatch (No. 89) Walsingham mentions Montdoucet only, he reports their conversation as though another French representative had been present. If so, it was probably Dampmartin.) The tone of the English ambassadors was somewhat severe and admonitory, while the French were reassuring as to their master's intentions of negotiating before resorting to the sword, though not hopeful as to the result. In the evening Dampmartin came again, with a report of the speech delivered by them to the States ; which report Walsingham notes they found on enquiry not to tally precisely with the speech as delivered.
The ambassadors next sought the Prince, who expressed some distrust of the Duke's motives, and some perplexity as to the best manner of dealing with him. He emphasized the importance of keeping the Queen interested in their cause, in order to keep a check on Monsieur, pointing out that it was owing to her slackness in openly supporting them that they had been forced to allow his interference in their affairs.
Lastly, the Emperor's ambassador was approached, and requested to take an opportunity of pointing out to Don John how the appearance of the French prince on the scene had changed the situation, and advising him to accept the terms offered by the States ; the Emperor and the Queen being ready to guarantee the integrity of the King of Spain's sovereign rights.
A copy of this dispatch was sent by Walsingham to Burghley, then absent from Court. In the covering letter (No. 87 bis) he allows his own sentiments to appear rather more plainly. The letter is here given from the original in his own hand. A copy of it exists in the British Museum, doubtless prepared for the Queen's eye, in which Mr. Secretary's vigorous phrases are significantly toned down. It is this version that is transcribed in Relations Politiques. Her Majesty was indeed in no mood just then to accept 'faithful dealing' on the part of her advisers. They had already sent Sommers with a comparatively mild remonstrance in regard to the ill effects of her want of liberality in money matters. Burghley's letter of July 18 (No. 93) gives a vivid picture of the dangers incurred by those who advised her for her good. "Mr. Sommers can tell you how sharp her Majesty has been with some of us here, whereof you, Mr. Secretary, was not free of some portion of her words, nor yet good Sommers himself, for coming in message to require more money." The P.S. of this letter may refer to the anxiety about Ireland ; which was no doubt as strong a reason for the Queen's apparent parsimony as any natural dislike to spend money. On the same day an official dispatch went from the Council which was hardly calculated to afford much encouragement either to the States or to the ambassadors. Pressure is to be used, by the retention in Davison's hands of the bonds for 100,000, to obtain the delivery of a town or towns as security. Having succeeded in raising some 28,750 on the guarantee of those bonds, they are to be reminded that the first moneys raised on the Queen's guarantee were to be devoted to the repayment of the loans already granted to start Casimir, amounting to 40,000 in all, besides a trifle of 5,000 sent by the Marquis. Their suggestions as to the terms to be proposed to Don John are treated as preposterous, and the ambassadors are bidden to waste no more time over them, but come home at once ; unless indeed it may be desirable to continue negotiations with the Duke of Anjou, or, as it is hinted, keep an eye on his proceedings.
These proceedings were viewed with anxiety in various quarters. L'Aubespine had been sent early in June to the Pope, to allay any suspicion of the king's complicity in his brother's adventure. The Pope sent the Bishop of Nazareth, who tried, but failed, to get speech of Monsieur on his journey to the Low Countries, while Giovanni Michiel, sent by the Venetian Senate, followed him to Mons. An anonymous letter from Venice (No. 95), though curiously enough (if it be correctly dated) the writer does not seem to be aware that Michiel had been gone a fortnight or more, testifies to the general uneasiness. Sundry allusions to a 'marriage' seem to suggest a fear that the events of 1572 might be on the eve of being repeated. The same letter contains some interesting information on Eastern affairs.
Duke Casimir, though having no higher opinion of Anjou than of Frenchmen in general, was willing to submit to the ambassadors' judgment on the question of acting in concert with him ; he would indeed, if the Queen so desired, take orders from him in the interests of the common cause (No. 96). Casimir, who had had instructions not to hurry until he knew the upshot of the negotiations with Anjou (No. 129 bis), was now at Zutphen, whither a French force under Argentlieu was sent to co-operate with him. For some details as to the general behaviour of this force we are indebted to M. Fremyn, a cultivated soldier, whose letters to Davison give some very graphic pictures of warfare in the sixteenth century.
The Queen's frame of mind in July was one of dissatisfaction with the States, and consequently with the ambassadors, whom she regarded as too much inclined to act as their advocates. She was on a great progress through the Eastern counties, and probably somewhat impatient of business ; she did not care to part with money without a certain return ; she had no great sympathy with rebels. To Hatton she spoke her mind more freely than in the official dispatch. As reported to Walsingham by Edmund Tremayne, who was at this time in the Vice-Chamberlain's service (No. 102), she was annoyed with the ambassadors under both the latter heads. They had allowed the States to assume that they might disregard her claim to a first charge on all moneys raised by virtue of the bond, and at the same time had not used their influence to modify the 'imperious' terms offered by them to the representative of their sovereign. Leicester argued with her on the money question, and pointed out the danger of alienating the States by driving too hard a bargain with them at this critical time, but found her very 'paremterry' on the point. Again Walsingham wrote, urging Burghley to impress on the Queen the necessity of letting the States apply the 26,000 to their own uses. Cobham thought that want of money alone had hindered them from driving out Don John and dispensing with Anjou. Finally the secretary's serenity seems for the moment to have given way in face of what he must have regarded as the Queen's failure to see her own interests and want of gratitude to those who were doing their best for her under great difficulties. "It is given out both here and there," he writes to Randolph on July 29, "that we shall be hanged at our return, so ill have we behaved ourselves here." He hopes that they will at least be allowed a regular trial ; and concludes with what appears to be a serious expression of his intention to withdraw from public life.
Yet it was impossible, however impracticable the Queen might be, for the ambassadors to return until Monsieur's position was made plain. On July 21 Wilson replied to their dispatch of the 18th. In this matter the Queen was better pleased with their proceedings ; but wished them to have an interview with Monsieur himself. She had also heard a report that the Prince of Orange had more to do with his entrance into the Low Countries than had been allowed to appear ; indeed that the whole scheme was arranged between them, and was to be cemented by the marriage of the French prince to William's daughter. (The dates, it will be seen, do not suit M. Kervyn de Lettenhove's romantic picture of Elizabeth's sudden fury at Rookwood Hall, a month later, on receiving the news of Anjou's alleged infidelity to her.) Both parties to the transaction were to be separately interrogated.
If the Ambassadors made any special inquiry into the relations between Anjou and the Prince, no record of it seems to exist. Nor did they in person visit the former, but contented themselves with sending the useful Sommers to Mons. Apart from something very like a reprimand to the duke for the lack of respect shown in his treatment of the ambassadors, Sommers's message consisted mainly of a repeated recommendation to take no hostile steps before communicating with Don John ; advice which came too late, for already Bussy had captured Maubeuge from the Spaniards, and was besieging Beaumont. In a few days Sommers brought back a reply, full of excuses alike for any apparent disregard of the Queen and her ambassadors and for any over-eagerness on the part of his people to begin the fighting. As to treating with Don John, he raised the specious objection that any communications between them might give rise to suspicion. The envoy assured him that the States would be only too glad to have peace, if they could have safety with it.
On his way to Mons Sommers had stopped at Brussels to have an interview with Champagney, who had expressed a wish to communicate with them. Though Walsingham, in common with most of the Protestant party, appears to have held an unfavourable opinion (for which his own admission long afterwards, that he was doing his best to hinder the progress of the 'heretics' and get rid of the Prince of Orange, shows there was ample justification) of Champagney's loyalty, he seems on this occasion to have taken his advice. Champagney, who though a staunch Catholic and bitterly jealous of the Prince's influence, loved neither Spaniards nor French, suggested that recourse should again be had to the Emperor's ambassador ; who was already intending to use his influence with Don John in favour of peace. That official, with whom Cobham and Walsingham discussed matters on July 27, was fully alive to the dilemma in which Don John now found himself. "If it comes to a day of fight, if he win the people will without peradventure throw themselves into the French protection," while if the States were victorious, they would "erect some newshapen commonwealth." The English envoys had proposed a joint guarantee by the Queen and the Emperor "that the Estates shall continue their obedience to the king of Spain"to which Count Schwarzenberg made no direct reply, though his tone was friendly. In their report to the Privy Council of the proceedings of this week (No. 120) the ambassadors mention the presence at Mons not only of envoys from all the principal Italian States but also of M. de Bellivre, sent by the French king ; not so much, they think, to dissuade his brother as to judge of his chances of ultimate success. On July 29 Anjou's envoys Bussy, Montdoucet, Neufville and Dampmartin reached Antwerp ; and on or about the same day the Emperor's ambassador went to look for Don John at Louvain. On Aug. 4 Bellivre delivered an harangue to the States.
On the whole, by the end of July the cause of the States wore a more promising aspect than it had hitherto done. M. d'Assche of Ghent had contrived to surprise Ypres, which brought the whole of Flanders into line with its chief city ; and some successes had been obtained in the East. The army of the States under Count Bossu began to advance, and formed a camp at Rymenam on the north bank of the Demer, between Mechlin and Aerschot, but nearer to the former. The position was well-chosen and strongly intrenched. Don John, however, resolved against the advice of the Prince of Parma and the veteran Gabriel Serbelloni, who had just joined him with reinforcements from Italy, to attack before Casimir, who was still delaying in Guelderland, should add his forces to those already at the States' disposal. Marching from Thienen (Tillemont) on July 30, he crossed the Demer at Aerschot, and in the morning of Aug. 1 found himself in the presence of the enemy. The brunt of the fighting seems to have been borne by the English regiment under John Norris and Bingham, who came up just in time, and the Scots under Robert Stuart. The latter are said in some accounts of the battle to have gone into action stripped to their shirts, or further ; but there is no confirmation of this tale in the papers. By 5 p.m. the Spaniards were fairly beaten off, "having been of none," wrote Davison, "better welcomed than of our countrymen."
Little notice is taken of this success in any of the letters written from England immediately after the receipt of the news, which reached the Court on August 6. Neither the Queen nor Burghley, writing on August 8 and 9, makes any reference to it. It had produced its effect, however. Knollys, writing to Walsingham on August 10, says : "I do perceive, however it grows, that her Majesty is suddenly minded without scruple to offer aid afresh to the States both of men and money" ; and he plainly says that Norris's victory, having made it "somewhat apparent that the Spaniards are no such devils," is the cause of this new-born alacrity. As a further result, the relaxation of the danger from one quarter seems to have made her more alive to that which threatened from another. A long dispatch written to Walsingham on August 7 (No. 151) shows her again in a suspicious mood in regard to both Anjou's designs and to the extent to which he was supported by the States. If the Spaniards could be beaten by English troops, why not by French? and as Bacqueville was always assuring her that Monsieur was willing either to go on or to retire at her discretion, why should she not test the sincerity of his declarations? Burghley did not wholly approve, as appears from his letter, which went, it would seem, by the same messenger, and which incidentally gives an idea of her Majesty's impetuous way of doing things. He, Leicester, and Wilson obviously thoughtthough he does not say so in so many wordsthat if aid in men was to be offered to the States, England might just as well have the providing of it. There seems to have been a notion that some plan was on foot for the partition of the Low Countries ; the Prince to have Holland and Zealand, the Archduke (that is the house of Austria) being recompensed with Brabant or Guelders, while Flanders, Hainault and Artois would, it is implied, fall to the share of Monsieur unless some equally deserving ally could be found. To this Rossel appears to allude in his letter of November 9 (No. 362) ; and if his information is trustworthy, the scheme dated from the time of Anjou's original advances to the States in the previous March. Burghley and the rest seem to have spent the evening of August 8 in impressing their views on the Queen ; for on the following day she writes again to say that she is 'more and more moved to doubt of his (Monsieur's) doings being very dangerous,' and that if in the ambassadors' opinion by sending over 10,000 or 12,000 men, or by letting the Estates have her bond for 100,000, she could persuade them to dispense with his services, she would be ready to do so. Characteristically, however, she desires that the information may be elicited 'by some indirect means' and not ostensibly for her guidance. Wilson is 'glad to see the readiness of our Sovereign now at length to consider of prevention against danger to be feared.'
Unfortunately she had waited too long. On August 13 a treaty was concluded, between the States on the one part and Bussy on the other, by which in consideration of aid to be given by Anjou the States accord to him the title of 'Defender of the liberties of the Low Countries against the tyranny of the Spaniards and their adherents,' together with certain more substantial advantages. They ask him to join them in seeking the alliance of the Queen of England ; but any princes or commonwealths that shall desire to be joined with them are on the same footing. They bind themselves, if ever they need another prince, to elect him. They again give him leave to take any town he can outside of the Low Countriesdoubtless a valuable permission and offer him three towns of their own, if the inhabitants will let him have them, for that is what it amounts to. Nothing is said this time about a marriage with a daughter of Spain. The negotiations of the States with Don John may go on till the end of August, after which neither party is to treat for peace without the consent of the other.
Owing to the depredations of Sir Robert Cotton, the papers in the Record Office give but meagre information as to the events of this week. We know however (by the aid of Relations Politiques, the editor of which work, being a foreigner, was able to utilise the English documents without regard to their place of custody) that between the 8th and the 16th Walsingham went to Monsieur at Mons, and that at his return the ambassadors had an interview with the Prince of Orange ; when they did their best to stimulate his suspicions of Anjou, and brought him to repeat his former opinion that "the only way to bridle him was by your Majesty's authority." Money to keep the garrisons of Hainault and Artois contented, and 5,000 troops as a set-off to the French were, he thought, what would please the States. As to towns, he suggested Dunkirk and Nieuport. Sluys was too important ; and a demise of the Crown in England might alter the situation. The ambassadors ask the Queen to bring the matter before Parliament.
On the return of the ambassadors from Mons, they were requested by the States to convey to Don John what under the form of terms to be negotiated was practically a summons to submit. The small progress which the Governor had made towards reconquering the country during the last few months had raised their spirits, and they were disposed to take a strong line. Possibly their view of the case might have been justified had political or military considerations stood alone. Unfortunately the 'religious difficulty' could not be kept out. On the first hint of general toleration a number of Catholic nobles (including de Hze and de Glymes, who two years before had been the principal actors in the violent arrest of the members of Requesens' Council) petitioned the Estates of Brabant not to 'suffer any innovation of religion' (No. 166). Some disturbance seems to have arisen. Glymes and another were apprehended for the moment, but the only serious arrest made was that of Champagney, whose zeal for the liberation of his country had long been cooling, and who was supposed to have instigated the step. His house was sacked by the people, and after a few days he was sent to Ghent to share the captivity of those who had been arrested in the previous October. Six years were to pass before he was again at liberty.
Walsingham's report to the Queen of his interview with Monsieur, received by her at Norwich on August 21, and no doubt forming part of the dispatch of August 16, has disappeared. Her reply, dated August 29, on the position of affairs generally (No. 197) satisfied none of her councillors very thoroughly, and seems to have represented her own unaided decision. She considers-and here Walsingham at least seems to have agreed with her-that the States were presuming too much upon the straits in which Don John then found himself, and after the manner of their race were inclined to give too little and ask too much. She sees that religious difference is the great obstacle to cohesion among the nation, and strongly advises against any premature recognition of the Reformed Religion outside of Holland and Zealand. Burghley, Leicester, Wilson, write each in his own way to express their regret at the line she is taking ; the first (No. 200) reservedly, the second (No. 201) volubly, the third (No. 203) with a touch of grim irony. Heneage (if, as No. 221 seems to suggest, he was 'your friend to whom you committed me'), as reported by Tremayne (No. 202), was unfriendly to the States, but had not said anything to 'hinder the cause.' Tremayne further mentions on the same authority that the Queen was now well-satisfied with her ambassadors, and inclined to throw the blame for any failure on the people they had to deal with. Sussex, to whom the Queen had shown the dispatch privately, had advised her to be fairly liberal with money ; as a result of which she waives an immediate claim for some 17,000 and offers on conditions to grant bonds for a further 11,000. Sussex is also in favour of the marriage ; he sees no hope of inducing the Queen to 'make herself the head of the war' (which would of course have involved an open breach with Spain) ; nor is he much in favour of an alliance on equal terms with Monsieur. Least of all does he believe that any obstacle to Anjou's designs on the Low Countries will come from the French Court (No. 205).
Before the dispatch of August 29 had been drafted interesting events had happened in the Low Countries. On August 18, the ambassadors left Antwerp for Mechlin, whence they wrote to Don John asking for a safe conduct. The Governor at once wrote bidding them welcome, and on the 21st they went to Louvain. On the 22nd they slept at Judoigne, 'which we found all infected by the plague,' and the day following (Saturday) at Perwez. Here they seem to have been met by Gastel, who took back to Don John, then encamped near Jauche, a message, of which the substance is given in No. 185 (which, by the way, ought to precede No. 183). This sets out the situation in plain, almost colloquial, language, and was evidently intended to give the recipient 'something to think about' before the more formal interview. In this document, which does not appear to have been before printed, Don John's attention is called with almost brutal frankness to the new element which has been introduced by the French intervention, and the probable consequences of it to himself and the King of Spain are pointed out.
Next day, Sunday, Aug. 24 (St. Bartholomew's day, as it fell out), 'under a great oak,' about a mile and a half from his camp, Don John met the English ambassadors. Their report of the interview is given in No. 194, from the original draft. While admitting that the conditions demanded by the States were hard, they point out again that his own position is such as to make it prudent for him to accept almost any terms consistent with the retention of the king's sovereignty. The victor of Lepanto could only urge his honour and the justice of his cause ; 'respects,' as the practical Walsingham wrote two days later to Gastel, 'to which in due time and place it is good and reasonable to have regard' but which 'can have no place now without danger of alienating the country.' The discussion was conducted on both sides in a temperate tone, Don John almost appealing to the envoys for sympathy in his difficult position. On Walsingham personally he seems to have made a strong impression. 'Surely I never saw a gentleman for personage, spirit, wit, and entertainment comparable to him,' wrote the Secretary with his own hand to Burghley, in words that few historians who have described the scene have been able to refrain from quoting. It is the half-regretful tribute of the new diplomacy to the expiring age of chivalry. The next words, 'most villainous reports have been given out to him against me, both by our rebels and fugitives here, and by letters from England,' evidently refer to the preposterous charge that Egremont Ratcliff, the ne'er-do-weel brother of the Earl of Sussex, who was at that moment in Don John's camp, had been suborned by Walsingham to murder him. The suggestion seems to have emanated from the fertile brain of Don Bernardino de Mendoza, and to have made little impression on Don John, though for precaution he had Ratcliff arrested. The sequel will be found in Nos. 473, 510, and 519. Probably the late M. Kervyn de Lettenhove was the last believer in the story.
A curious relic of the ambassadors' visit to Don John is a scrap of paper containing the confectioner's bill for dessert provided on the actual day of the interview (No. 179). It will interest alike the student of contemporary manners, the etymologist, and the investigator of prices. The object of the bay and rosemary is obscure. May they have been regarded as antiseptics, suitable to a plague-infested district?
On the day after the conference Don John wrote to the Queen in much the same tone as he had adopted with the ambassadors, again treating them as more likely than the States to sympathise with him. Possibly he knew, or divined, her sentiments with regard to rebellious subjects and religious innovators. Walsingham had little hope of peace ; a view which was shared by the shrewd diplomatist Bellivre (No. 217). Count Schwarzenberg was more sanguine ; but the end of August came and found the position unchanged. Anjou was now free to act, and Walsingham evidently felt that whatever Spain might lose her loss would now be the gain not of England but of France. He seems to have spent Sep. 2 in writing to his friends at home to that effect. To Hatton (No. 220) : 'If the mischief likely to ensue by his not yielding to a peace lighted only on himself, the harm would be less ; but it seems most clearly that her Majesty and the Crown of England will be partakers of it, through the strange course she takes in these causes.' To Burghley ; 'The Prince and States here, who were altogether at her Majesty's devotion, seeing themselves abandoned, cannot but withdraw their goodwill, and of assured friends grow most dangerous enemies' ; and again : 'Nothing perplexes me so much as to leave this people so ill-satisfied as I perceive we shall ; of which the French are to make their profit, whatever they protest to the contrary.' At times the Secretary grows almost querulous, and drops hints of influences at home counterworking his efforts and countermining him in the good opinion of the Queen. He appears on his return to have found confirmation of his suspicions (No. 299). A week later both ambassadors return to the charge ; Cobham mentioning that Casimir was now beginning to grumble. Other details are given, from which it looks as if the only question was whose force would first resolve itself, or what remained of it, into its component units. From the Queen's letter in reply (No. 253) it seems as if this result might not have been unwelcome to her. She suggests a general reduction of forces and an 'interim' on the religious question ; and writes as though she expected some result from the Emperor's intervention. Her views were duly imparted to the States (No. 270). The Earl of Sussex, writing from Bath (No. 249), expresses a similar hope. Poulet also approved the Queen's action ; but with his usual eye for unpleasant possibilities, and chronic distrust of foreigners, while recognising that 'Monsieur had no intelligence with the Spaniard,' foresees that the conclusion of peace may leave the King of Spain free to form new combinations elsewhere (No. 232).
The ambassadors did not stay much longer. The chief question still remaining to be settled was that of the loan to the States. The Queen was still inclined to drive a hard bargain, and began to press for some tangible security. She stuck to her demand that the first money raised on the bond for 100,000 should be applied to the discharge of the former debt, all of which Wilson, much against his own convictions, had to impart to the ambassadors (No. 255). Before this dispatch could have reached Antwerp, Walsingham had written to Burghley, still in a somewhat desponding tone, as though of opinion that by hesitating to cast in her lot frankly with the Protestant party the Queen had lost a great opportunity. Nor does he expect anything to come of the marriage negotiations : 'though no man has more cause to desire her Majesty's marriage than myself.' He did not go to see Anjou again, perhaps in consequence of a letter (No. 266), desiring him rather to use his good offices in England. Their last dispatch of September 24, in reply to Wilson's of the 15th, deals wholly with the money question. Somewhat naively the ambassadors point out that any money lent to the States is safe enough ; a trifling act of piracy at their expense being always enough to secure repayment. The duty of giving the current gossip was left to Cobham, who wrote rather more cheerfully.
The situation as they left it was exceedingly complicated. Don John was no doubt for the moment in great difficulties. As early as July 28, the Venetian ambassador in Paris had been told by a gentleman newly arrived from Flanders that unless the King of Spain made up his mind to grant a general pardon to the people there and give them their entire liberty, there was no hope of arriving at any successful conclusion (Ven. Cal. No. 728). Since then the action at Rymenam had been fought, his army was dwindling daily from disease, and the arrival of Casimir on the one hand and Anjou on the other had brought to the States reinforcements which with any decent organization would have given them a force much superior to any at his disposal. What was perhaps more important, the result of the battle of Alcazar, on August 4 (a curious account of which, by an eyewitness, will be found at No. 210) had left only the life of an elderly and infirm ecclesiastic between Philip II and the moment when it would be necessary for him to assert his claim to the throne of Portugal. It was necessary for him to prepare for an emergency nearer home ; his brother in the Netherlands must make the best of such resources as he had.
On the other hand it might be said that if the States' forces were superior on paper, they had no cohesion and little discipline ; nor did disease spare them any more than their opponents. In one month, wrote Fremyn to Davison (No. 272), they had lost either from this cause or through the vengeance of the plundered peasants, 4,000 men. He gives generally a bad account of the discipline in the army. So far from any loyal co-operation existing between the different contingents, Anjou was from the first intriguing (Nos. 155, 165) with Pardieu de la Motte, who himself, being governor of Gravelines for the States, had been bought by the King of Spain for 30,000 crowns as far back as the previous March. Cobham heard also that he was tampering with Casimir to induce him to leave the country, and that his overtures had been listened to. The former statement is not improbable, the latter, looking to Casimir's often-expressed opinion of Frenchmen, one may venture to doubt. In any case, had all been well with Don John himself, the French operations, even though directed by the military capacity of la Noue and the adventurous dash of Bussy, need not have given him much anxiety.
All was, however, not well with him. Harassed and worried, his letters intercepted, left without orders or aid from the king, he sickened of the pestilence, and of it, aggravated perhaps by chronic disorders (les brognes, mentioned by Davison in No. 302, seems to be a disease akin possibly to shingles) he died on Oct. 1various dates are given by the correspondents and his heroic and somewhat pathetic figure disappears from the story. The news of his death was received with rejoicing alike in England and the Low Countries, though, as a matter of fact, few things could have happened more disastrous to the cause. Don John was a gallant soldier, but no statesman ; where he could not succeed by force of arms, he was not likely to do any better by political arts. His nephew and successor, the Prince of Parma, on the contrary, with far more military science, was a master of the most finished Italian state-craft. Differences, religious or other, among the national party would probably have been regarded by Don John as beneath his notice. What were the squabbles of 'a sort of drunken Flemings' to him? Catholic and Protestant, they were alike in rebellion against their sovereign. If they chose to come and make their submission, he would accept it ; if not, a gallows was always ready for them, when he might catch them. Parma had a far more effective method.
The affair of August 15 was only one of several indications that the hostility between Catholics and Protestants, running as it did parallel with the mutual jealousies of nobles and commons, was not to be laid to rest by any enactments of 'religion's peace.' Early in September Davison writes (No. 236) that the Ghent people have "utterly suppressed popery in their towns and villiages." At Bois-le-duc there was some 'alteration,' the Protestants being in the first instance driven out ; Sluys expelled its Catholics ; the Walloon regiment of Hze and Montigny, 'plundering and ransacking the bonhomme' in Flanders, by way of indemnifying themselves for pay in arrear, were attacked by the people of Ghent ; a proceeding which seems, judging from the petition they addressed on the subject to the States (No. 262), to have wounded them deeply. Count Lalaing, making an impudent attempt, with the connivance, as he alleged, of the magistrates, to possess himself of Valenciennes, was with them put under lock and key by the burgesses, and kept there for a few days, till he 'acknowledged his error, and promised hereafter to be a good patriot' (Nos. 259, 271). (fn. 1) Meantime Casimir's reiters were becoming mutinous for want of pay ; the French were growing more unpopular 'we are nothing but captains of marauders and thieves' writes Fremyn (No. 278) ; 'it is enough to break the heart of an honourable man.' The best to be hoped of them was that they should desert, as in fact many did, and go back to France. The Prince of Orange did his best to restore something like order and commonsense. Putting his finger with a sure instinct on the weakest spot in the national harness, he wrote on October 4 an appeal to the authorities of Ghent (No. 292), in which he reprimands them for levying private war and fostering party spirit ; points out that the road they are on is not the Gospel of which they profess to be the champions ; and generally urges upon them the duty of union and toleration. The next day Marnix addressed a somewhat similar appeal to Duke Casimir, who was still at Brussels ; but, being piqued at the greater honour shown to the Duke of Anjou, was disposed to associate himself with the fanatics of Ghent. On the same day that the Prince wrote, Hessele and Visch, who were among the prisoners arrested in the disturbances of the previous year, and had been in custody ever since, were brought out and hanged. They no doubt deserved their fate ; but it was inflicted with circumstances of lawlessness and brutality which tended to increase the odium that the men of Ghent were bringing on themselves and the Protestant cause. Yet not much notice seems to have been taken of the act at the time. Walsingham, on leaving the Low Countries, had arranged with one Jacques Rossel, a Burgundian adventurer (an unfrocked monk, says M. Kervyn de Lettenhove, but gives no authority for his statement), then in the service of the States as commissary and muster-master, already an occasional correspondent of Burghley's (see No. 729 in the last volume), to keep him supplied with news, independently of Davison, of whose astuteness in obtaining information the Secretary perhaps had not a very high opinion. In his first letter, dated October 5 (No. 295), Rossel makes no reference to the incident, though news of it had reached Antwerp ; as appears from a short letter of the same date from Davison, who mentions it and no more.
Passions in Flanders, however, were not to be appeased by correspondence. A day or two after the execution of Hessele and Visch, the authorities of Ghent proposed to behead all the nobles they had in custody, as accomplices of the Walloon Malcontents now becoming formidable ; beginning with Champagney. The Prince seems to have come in for some hard words when this intention was reported at Antwerp. Rather unfairly he was told in the Assembly of the Estates "that he was the cause of all the troubles at Ghent" ; at any rate that all his support came from people who would behave in the same way ; a rating which, so far as appears, William took meekly enough. M. de Bours was dispatched to Ghent in time to save the lives of Champagney and his companions.
Meantime Rossel's letters describe a miserable state of things in the country, where the French liberators were not earning the goodwill of the people they had come to deliver. Binche was taken by Bussy, no very arduous task ; the Spanish garrisonin which, by the way, there seem to have been no Spaniardswas massacred, and the town plundered and burnt, under the eye of the Defender of the liberties of the Netherlands. Casimir went with a small force to Ghent on Oct. 9, and it was expected that what remained of Monsieur's force after the numerous desertions would next proceed to attack that town ; whether in the interest of the Walloons or of the States does not clearly appear. In any case the confusion of parties and the mutual jealousies among groups and individuals formed as bad a qualification for resistance to a crafty foe as could well be imagined. The situation, as it appeared to moderate men, is well enough summed up in a letter of Nov. 13 from Grobbendonk to Walsingham (No. 373).
The city of Arras affords an interesting example of the way in which the process of disintegration worked. In the previous March evidence had been discovered of an intention to put the place into the hands of Don John, and various notable people, including the bishop, had been expelled. The governor, M. de Capres, an old soldier of Charles V, was still on the national side as against the Spaniards, but a firm Catholic. When the English commissioners visited the place in June, he was as we have seen suspected (though it would appear groundlessly) of French sympathies. They further report 'the inhabitants most affected to papistry.' For six months the city was governed by a body called the fifteen, apparently a sort of committee of defence, the regular magistrates however still retaining their posts. A few days after Don John's death Montigny put himself at the head of the Walloons, and seized Mnin, thus blocking the communications between Arras and Ghent. Thereupon the magistrates sent a secret deputation to the Estates of Artois, then in session at Bethune, asking for their aid to get rid of the fifteen, and the troops under Ambroise le Duc, who were there on behalf of the States-General. The fifteen hearing of this move, and suspecting it to be in the French interest, arrested the magistrates, and sent word to the States. Their messenger was delayed at Mnin, and by the time he had reached Antwerp, and commissioners had been appointed 'to put things right,' Capres and his troops had released the magistrates. These took a savage revenge, three of the fifteen being hanged the same night. One of them, the president as it would seem, a lawyer named Nicholas de Gosson, was seventy years old. So far as is known he had never sentenced anyone to death for opinions or on any other grounds : which may be the reason why less has been said about his execution than about that of Hessele.
Arras was thus in a highly favourable condition for treatment by the new method. A curious view of the process is given in a correspondence, preserved to us by the fact that it was intercepted by Poulet's scouts and forwarded to Davison, to be laid before the Prince of Orange, who duly expressed his gratitude for it (No. 446). Franois de Monceaux, a gentleman of Arras, was residing in Paris (where, by the way, he had been on terms of intimacy with Egremont Ratcliffe) as a Spanish agent. On Nov. 2, a correspondent, whose name does not appear, writes to him, perhaps from Lille, calling attention to the favourable opportunity (No. 339). Almost simultaneously Monceaux himself had forwarded an appeal to his fellow-townsmen (No. 343), urging them to reconciliation with the king, and offering himself to act if desired as their envoy. A letter from the Prince of Parma was enclosed. From the reply (No. 363) made by a relative it appears that similar communications were addressed to other towns in Artois ; also that M. de Capres, the governor, was privy to the correspondence, and even willing to be included in it, and that M. de Blangerval, who had just come with dispatches from the king, was concerned in distributing it. As a matter of fact he was already in communication with Parma, who was trying his own powers of persuasion on the nobles, leaving the towns to be dealt with by subordinate agents. The allusion to the Pacification of Ghent is curious. One of the chief grievances of the Malcontents was that the conduct of the Gantois was a violation of the provisions of that instrument. At the same time Capres knew well that if Philip once regained his authority over the revolted States, there was no probability of his adhering to it. Accordingly he advises that it be left out of the programme. Another kinsman writes on the following day, with further details, by which it appears that Anjou had not given up hopes of an understanding with the Malcontent party ; that the Walloons were eager for reprisals on the Flemings ; and that Hainault had also detached itself from the common cause. Finally we have two letters of Nov. 13 and 16 (Nos. 374 and 379), from Monceaux to M. de Vaux, lately Don John's agent in Paris, reporting such news as has reached him regarding the progress of affairs. Meanwhile, the general opinion at Antwerp seems to have been that Arras was, at the instigation of Capres, preparing to join the French. Undoubtedly Anjou sent his congratulations on the suppression of the national party.
Had the Emperor been a strong man, the complication of interests and principles in the Netherlands might have afforded him an opening for recovering some of the powers which the Empire should in theory have had. Even Rudolf II, on the matter being referred to him, had sufficient consciousness of who and what he was to venture on some faint exercise of authority. Don John had been dead about a fortnight when a messenger arrived from Vienna with an order to him to evacuate the country. Naturally Parma, to whom the missive actually came, did not follow these instructions. The Ghent people were playing his game far too well for him to throw up his hand at this moment of all others. In England the situation was fully appreciated. "The civil division in Flanders will be the cause of their own ruin," wrote Wilson on Oct. 19 (No. 316). He adds : "The heat used for reformation is excessive and out of season, and not agreeable to Christian modesty." A fortnight later he returns to the subject in a somewhat remarkable letter (No. 345), blending in language that might have come from a Whig of two hundred years later desire for toleration of opinion with aversion to democratic rule. "Unhappy is the country where the meanest sort has the greatest sway."
Casimir had left Brussels for Ghent on Oct. 9, in his own words, as reported subsequently by one of Davidson's correspondents, "to have some fun." His henchman, Beutterich, had obviously (No. 357) instigated this move, which Marnix on behalf of the Prince had done his utmost to prevent (No. 296). News of it was sent on the 12th by both Davison and Rossel to England, where it was received with no great satisfaction. It was no doubt a matter of pretty general knowledge that Casimir was in the Low Countries with the Queen's support ; but she was by no means prepared to avow him openly, especially since he had cast in his lot with the extreme sectaries. She and her ministers (see Wilson's letter of Oct. 16) were consequently exceedingly angry with him, and still more with his adviser. As a letter of Walsingham's (No. 369) shows, they were aware of the supreme importance of maintaining the cohesion of the Protestant cause throughout Europe, and had reason to think that Beutterich, moved by German distrust of the King of Navarre, was encouraging jealousies in France. The Secretary suggests that if the Gantois could be got to lay him by the heels, no great harm would be done. Junius seems to have gone to London to smooth matters, and to have succeeded to some extent so far as concerned Casimir, though Beutterich, as has been seen, remained in disfavour.
As early as Oct. 21 Walsingham wrote to Davison instructing him to go in person to Ghent and speak plainly to all parties. It was not till Nov. 7 however that he actually arrived there. Other would-be peace-makers, deputed from the States-General, and also from the rest of Flanders, were also there. On the 10th he addressed the general assembly of the city, and subsequently spoke with Casimir individually ; dealing faithfully with the disturbers of the common harmony. Casimir was much annoyed, and wrote indignantly to Walsingham, Leicester, and the Queen. His irritation was not diminished by the fact that the envoy, somewhat characteristically, had shown his instructions to a Frenchman, the Vidame of Chartres, before imparting them to those for whom they were intended. Beutterich did not confine himself to remonstrances. In a letter to Rogers, of November 11 (No. 365) he threatens to publish all that he knows of the negotiations by which Casimir was brought to take a hand in the business. Davison's admonitions, however, were not without some effect. On the 22nd he writes from Bruges, whither he had gone on business connected with the loans (and also it may be conjectured with an eye to his own safety and that of his correspondence), that 'the town is divided into the contrary factions of Hembize the chief Burgomaster, and Ryhove the colonel-general.' The latter, who was the more patriotic, if the less able, of the two, was willing to follow the lead of the Prince of Orange, and act with the rest of the States.
Unfortunately Hembize had the stronger influence with the mob. The Vidame of Chartres, who can have had no love for him or his party, thought that he had the best of it, and that Ryhove's action was ill-judged.
On the 18th Ryhove summoned Hembize to his house, and after some remarks left him there under arrest. He then called the armed citizens together and tried to get the Prince acclaimed as governor of Flanders. Though not averse to the proposal, they were bewildered by its abruptness, and Hembize's party had time to make a diversion in his favour. Ryhove made his way to Dendermonde. All strangers were expelled from Ghent, including the Vidame of Chartres and Bonivet, the Duke of Anjou's agent ; the latter having a narrow escape from Casimir's reiters, who actually succeeded in killing a gentleman of his escort. Other murders were committed with Hembize's connivance if not by his order ; but when Davison returned to Ghent on Nov. 26, he was in a more reasonable frame, and ready to promise a measure of toleration for Catholics and good treatment for the prisoners.
The Prince, at the request of the Ghent people, forwarded on the 18th, during Ryhove's moment of popularity, had started for that city on the 22nd, but halted at Dendermonde to watch the development of affairs, sending Famars with an invitation to Casimir to visit him there. Davison on his return to Ghent used his own persuasions to the same effect. But Casimir, whom he had left a few days before disposed to meet the Prince, was now reluctant to go ; pleading, whether sincerely or not, alarm at the strong force by which he was escorted. Davison attributed this reluctance, doubtless correctly, to Beutterich's influence. No. 413, written upon his return to Antwerp, contains a full report of all proceedings and negotiations up till the end of November.
Some curious projects, if we may credit Rossel (No. 407) were launched during the Prince's stay at Dendermonde. Count Bossu, the commander-in-chief of the States' army, was a Catholic noble whom it was all-important to retain. So far as can be made out from the writer's very unconventional grammar, spelling and punctuation, he and the Duke of Aerschot were supposed to have been tampered with. To bind them to himself, the Prince offered one of his daughters in marriage to Aerschot's son, the Prince of Chimay, another to Bossu. (fn. 2)
After a fortnight's silence (so far as the extant records show), Walsingham wrote on Nov. 27 (No. 403) a letter conveying somewhat important information. Poulet had forwarded the intercepted Monceaux correspondence on Nov. 22, and it was at once sent on to the country which it chiefly concerned. Hitherto the common belief at Antwerpsee Rossel's of Nov. 16 (No. 380)with regard to the proceedings at Arras had been that Capres was acting in the French interest, with the object of bringing Artois into the hands of Anjou. Of the far more formidable danger that the province was slipping back to reunion with Spain, most people had no idea. The Prince had some inkling (No. 446) of the real nature of the intrigue that was going on, which the letters converted into certainty, and enabled him to take action upon. The mischief done by the sectarian feuds at Ghent being now past retrieving, the English counsels were in favour rather of a closer union among Protestants than of farther efforts to conciliate Catholics. "It will be expedient for the Prince to take some new way of counsel, and desist from threatening the Gantois ; with whom he should concur in the advancement of religion, without which it is apparent there can be no sound union among them." The Queen was in no way displeased with the tone Davison had adopted towards Casimir ; "yet upon this discovery of the reconciliation of the two provinces (Hainault and Artois) with Spain, it will be expedient for her to mediate his reconciliation with the Prince." In two later letters (Nos. 411, 419) Walsingham recurs to the subject, and mentions that Rogers is coming, at the instance of Leicester, "to mediate a reconciliation between the Duke and the Prince of Orange, as a matter necessary to the maintenance of religion and the defence of the liberties of the country, both which are likely to be hindered, and themselves ruinated." From this letter we also learn that Rogers and Davison had not been on very good terms.
On Dec. 2 the Prince left Dendermonde for Ghent. Casimir, who about this time addressed to the Estates a long justification of his own conduct, received him amicably, and did not even resent the vigorous terms in which he spoke of Beutterich (Nos. 421, 430). After a day spent in 'haunting the sermons' (the tone of which, says Davison, was a good deal moderated by his presence) he met the Town Council in open assembly, and harangued them on the situation. In addition to the terms made with Davison and the States' commissioners, he further proposed an amnesty, a definite union with the other provinces, and some security for the general maintenance of the agreement. A committee was appointed ; and while certain matters were properly excepted from the amnesty, a desire was manifested to refer disputed points to the Prince's decision. (fn. 3) By the middle of December they had come to an agreement, and, as Davison wrote, had accorded the demands of the States touching toleration, restitutions of the incomes of the clergy, and the transfer of the prisoners into neutral hands. For the moment things seemed to be going better in Flanders.
Nor were Artois and Hainault allowed to go without an effort to retain them. The latter province, indeed, still professed to adhere to the national cause, and sent the Marquis of Havrech to Arras in order if possible to restrain the Estates of Artois from breaking away. An even less trustworthy envoy, the Viscount of Ghent, whose speedy defection no one as yet foresaw, was sent by the States-General for the same purpose, and at first, as it would seem, worked honestly and with some success in the cause. Even Montigny was hesitating before taking the final plunge.
A conference, referred to in Nos. 498, 506 and 516 was held at Commines, where he and other Walloon nobles met representatives of the States-General and the four 'Members' of Flanders and drew up a treaty of reconciliation between Walloons and Flemings on the basis of the religie-vrede. Unfortunately this was just what a large party at Arras objected to quite as much as the fanatics of Ghent. Rossel however thought that Montigny might be won back. Parma meanwhile, through his staunch supporter la Motte, was steadily pursuing his object, writing to the chief towns and personages of Hainault, and to the heads of the House of Croy, "exhorting each of them to do his duty to God and to his Sovereign," and backing his exhortation with more solid inducements. In the case of the Viscount of Ghent his success was conspicuous. By the middle of January that nobleman wrote to the Estates, declaring himself on the Spanish side. On Feb. 3 he and Capres signed a promise to serve the King of Spain "against all men" ; stipulating in the common form for the departure of the Spaniardsa condition which we are told earned them hard words in the Spanish camp (No. 695), though its non-fulfilment, it need hardly be said, in no way affected their new-found loyalty. Their treatment, however, seems to have raised false hopes as to the chances of winning them back. Before the end of March he had been confirmed by Philip in the government of Artois and Hesdin and created Marquis of Risbourg. Except that his price was unusually high, the same process was adopted with most of the other nobles. His brother, the Seneschal of Hainault, whose loyalty was at one time suspected (No. 523), remained, on the contrary, faithful to the cause, and as Prince of Epinoy appears not unfrequently in the military transactions of the next few years. Montigny after coquetting for a while (Nos. 563, 580) fell to the temptation of 200,000 guilders (No. 653), and on April 6 signed at Mont Saint-Eloy an agreement to bring himself and his forces to the Spanish side. His brother Lalaing, whose sympathies were rather French than Spanish, held out a little longer. He ceased, however, to act with the States, though in July we find him, with Egmont and Hze, in conference with some of the Archduke's council. The Marquis of Havrech after a prolonged stay, more or less compulsory, at Arras, and a second mission to the seceding provinces, retired for a time to Burgundy. Count Bossu remained in chief command of the States' forces until his death, which, to the regret of the Prince and the serious loss of the patriotic party, took place a few days before Christmas. His county of Hennin was presently given to Capres. After the middle of 1579 hardly any nobles besides the Prince of Epinoy and M. d'Inchy will be found on the side of the States.
During these transactions very little is heard of Anjou. His forces never effected a junction with those of the States. After the capture of Binche, just when this was expected to take place, events at Ghent made it plain that no operations against the Spaniards would be undertaken for some time to come. His army broke up rapidly. Some of his men joined the Walloons, but the bulk of them returned to France, where many were put to the sword by their own countrymen. He himself went about the middle of October to Mons, where he was visited by some of the Malcontent leaders. On Nov. 8, des Pruneaux and Rochepot addressed the States, demanding delivery of the promised towns, under the threat (so Rossel heard) that otherwise he would join the Walloons. (fn. 4) Bonivet was sent to Ghent about the same time with offers of mediation between the citizens and the Walloons. The Record Office papers contain no mention of his errand, but in a dispatch from Davison of Nov. 17, existing among the Cotton documents, it is stated that a similar threat formed part of his instructions also. Rossel and others record the disastrous termination of his visit, already referred to. Des Pruneaux was somewhat more successful. He did not indeed make much advance so far as concerned the handing over of any towns, but he got a promiseconditional, it would appear, on the early conclusion of peace with Spainof a gold crown, to be presented annually, with compliments. Meantime Anjou was in correspondence with Villiers, the French minister, who formed one of the Prince's most intimate circle, by whose influence, Rossel thought (see his letter addressed directly to the Queen, No. 397), the Prince himself was inclined to make terms with the Malcontents, themselves in intelligence with the French. All Rossel's surmises about the Prince and those in his closest confidence have however to be taken with a good deal of caution. Besides being an inveterate scandal-monger, he seldom fails in his references to that group and its chief to adopt a rather spiteful tone.
Anjou remained at Mons till Christmas, making occasional overtures in a somewhat querulous style to the States. On Dec. 23 he wrote to them (No. 462) to announce his immediate return to France. On the 26th, after a characteristically treacherous attempt, recorded in No. 476 (to which, whether or not it were prompted as Rossel avers (No. 504) by the Prince of Orange, Count Lalaing at any rate appears to have been at least accessory) to seize the town, he departed to Cond, leaving des Pruneaux to represent him with the States. Froidmont and Martini were sent after him, and communications were carried on throughout January. The town of Ath was offered to him, and on the 26th the Marquis of Havrech, the Abbot of St. Bernard, and Meetkerke went to press him to accept it. It was even believed at Antwerp for a moment that he had gone there. But as usual the citizens made difficulties, and when the Marquis and his companions reached Mons, they found that the duke had already crossed the frontier, leaving word that they should follow him to la Fre. As a matter of fact, however, being refused admission into that town by the governor, he proceeded without delay to Alenon, where he remained till about the middle of March. Then he went almost secretly to Paris on a flying visit, and a reconciliation between the brothers was effected. He also had an interview (No. 618) with Poulet, who encouraged him one cannot but wonder how sincerelyto persevere in his suit, and received all manner of protestations as to the genuineness of his intentions.
Poulet recurred to the subject a few days later in the course of an interview with the king, mainly directed to other matters. His report of this (No. 650) is interesting in several respects. It shows at once the utter lack of business-like administration in France, and Henry's consciousness of the fact and desire to remedy it. It also exhibits him personally in the light of a courteous and kindly gentleman. I have found it impossible to identify 'Crybyle, the king's fool,' who interfered with the grave Sir Amyas's thorough comprehension of the king's remarks. One would like to think that the name of Chicot lurked under the curious form in the MS.
In proportion as Anjou's prospects of success in the Low Countries grew fainter the marriage negotiations had been more vigorously pushed forward. Simier's commission was dated at Mons, on Nov. 28, and two days later he told Poulet (much to the ambassador's relief) that he meant to start at once. He remained, however, another week in Paris, after which he disappears for nearly a month. On Jan. 4 he wrote a few words to Mauvissire from 'Stinbourg' (fn. 5)presumably Stambridge in Essexexpressing a wish for a speedy meeting, from which one may infer that he had just landed. Mendoza says (Span. Cal.) that he arrived in London on the 5th, but these papers throw very little light on his doings in England, though we learn that his expenses for a week at Sion House amounted to 174 14s. 5d., and that his 'supper at Richmond' cost just 35. About Feb. 19 there seems to have been some idea of bringing his stay to an end, if the reference to him in the draft of a letter from the Queen to his master (No. 566) may be taken to imply that he was to have been the bearer of it. Nothing is said in this letter respecting the main object of Simier's mission ; nor did he open formal negotiations until April 5. The result seems to have satisfied him, if we may judge from a highly characteristic letter to des Pruneaux (No. 643). Yet from the Queen's dispatch of May 9 to Poulet (No. 674) it is clear that she was far from accepting the terms proposed by him, while she still insisted on the interview. Another less official agent of Anjou was in England off and on during these months. This was M. de Roquetaillade, a gentleman of the Queen Mother's. He appears to have been the bearer of the friendly letters of Nov. 9 from her and her daughter, after which he stayed for some time in England. Early in April he carried Simier's report of progress to Anjou, returning with him to Paris on the 26th. Next day he had a long interview with Poulet (No. 667 bis), to whom he mentioned that he was going back to England shortly. His exact function is not very clear ; possibly he was sent to 'watch the case' on behalf of the Queen Mother. At any rate he appears to have been much trusted by Anjou. It is curious that his name never appears in the copious correspondence preserved at Hatfield. Mendoza has a good deal to say about him, and perhaps assigned to him more importance than was his due.
As early as Nov. 2 Rossel had written (No. 338) "the secession of Hainault and Artois is held to be certain" ; but the process of disruption made a very definite advance soon after the beginning of the new year. On January 6 deputies from Hainault, Lille, Douay and Orchies joined the Estates of Artois at Arras, and drew up a statement of the terms upon which they were willing to seek reconciliation with the King of Spain. Froidmont and Martini, writing from Cond on the 9th, express what no doubt was the general belief, that the States concerned meant to act independently of the rest. In the first instance no doubt thay took the trouble of communicating their decision to the States-General ; but it was in a somewhat peremptory fashion. "If within a month," they wrote, "we do not see the effectual accomplishment of what we have written to you, we shall be forced to consider of a remedy." It was indeed pretty clear, as the latest historian of the Netherlands says, that if the Union of Arras was not in form a reconciliation with the King, it was bound to lead to that. Curiously enough, the significance of the step taken at Arras was not at first recognised. Rogers, writing from Ghent a week later (No. 516), seems to take rather a hopeful view of the attitude of Hainault and Artois. He was also of opinion that the alliance between those provinces and the Walloon malcontents was not yet very secure. A curious detail appears from his letter, namely the existence of a feeling of jealousy on the part of the families of Lalaing and Hornes towards the far more capable la Motte, whom they choose to regard as 'scant a gentleman' ; a feeling of which Parma was not slow to make his profit.
It is clear indeed that Montigny did not as yet wish to commit himself entirely to hostility towards the States. On Jan. 25 Davison mentions the detection and suppression by him of a scheme concocted between la Motte and some Walloon captains ; and on Feb. 13 we find him in conjunction with Hze, d'Alennes and others putting pressure on the Viscount of Ghent and Capres to use their influence to detach la Motte from his unconditional support of the King's cause.
On the other hand, Fremyn, writing a day or two later from Antwerp (No. 523) sees that the refusal of the Artesian group to accept the Religious Peace is certain to end in reunion with the Spaniards. 'The war which is about to begin will be a war for religion,' nominally ; actually, the result of the 'deadly illwill' of the nobles towards the Prince of Orange.
The Union of Arras was promptly met by a similar league among the northern States. As early as the previous October deputies from Holland, Zealand, Utrecht, Guelders, Friesland, Overyssel, and parts of Flanders, had been meeting first at Nymeghen, then at Utrecht. At first their leading motive for combination seems to have been disapproval of the Duke of Anjou ; but the action of the southern provinces, and the renewed activity of the Spanish forces, showed the necessity for taking some definite step. The Union of Utrecht was signed by Count John of Nassau, as stadtholder of Guelderland, and by the deputies of the other States, on Jan. 23. Important as the event was in its after-consequences, it does not seem to have aroused very much interest in Antwerp at the moment. It is not till Feb. 12 (No. 555) that Davison reports "the conclusion of the long-solicited league offensive and defensive treated at Utrecht between the provinces of Guelder, Phryze, Zutphen, Groningen, Overyssel, Holland, Zealand, Utrecht, Ghent, etc." As a matter of fact, not all these States were among the original signatories. The 'religious peace' was adopted in a general way, though Holland and Zealand were left free to make their own arrangements as to public worship. All idea of separation from the other States was expressly disclaimed ; the Pacification of Ghent was to be maintained in its integrity. "Thus arose two separate Unions in the Netherlands, the germs of two separate political units. One, appealing to the Pacification, put the opposition to Spain in the fore-front, and said plainly that its aim was the common defence ; the other, in its own intention equally based on the Pacification, put the maintenance of Catholicism in the first place, and showed an unmistakable leaning towards reconciliation with the King." (fn. 6)
All this while negotiations, or the preliminaries to them, with a view to peace, were going on, in a rather desultory fashion. After Don John's death, the Emperor's last letter to the deceased governor was duly forwarded by Count Schwarzenberg to the new one ; but nothing came of it for some weeks, and men began to doubt the Emperor's sincerity in the cause of peace. However, early in December the Ambassador went in person to Namur, to meet there Truchsess, the semi-Protestant Elector of Cologne, and other Commissioners, and arrange for an armistice. Parma, however, had gone to Limburg, to prepare for the attack he was planning on Maestricht ; and the ambassador retired to Louvain. Davison, while not doubting his goodwill, was not sanguine as to the result of his efforts ; Rossel thought him 'un peu trop tardif.' Nevertheless he presently started again in quest of Parma, first to his camp near Maestricht, and then to Ruremonde, whence he wrote hopefully of the prospects of peace. About the same time the Duke of Terra Nova arrived at Cologne from the King of Spain. Things remained at a standstill during the Christmas festivities ; but rumours of a six weeks' truce reached Ghent, and the Ambassador wrote that there were but two points 'on which he and the Spaniards stick.' As one of these was the Religievrede, it was not surprising that 'the wiser sort,' as Rogers reported, did not see how peace was to be made. He returned to Antwerp on Jan. 8, still hopeful of being able to secure at least the status quo in religious matters, and asserting that he had persuaded the Prince of Parma to accept the Emperor as referee, if the States would do the same. Parma, however, seems to have disclaimed the possession of powers to treat, and to have referred the whole matter to the Duke of Terra Nova.
A rather enigmatic letter from Rossel about this time (No. 522) suggests that the group more immediately surrounding the Prince of Orange, and perhaps the Prince himself, were not anxious to see peace made in a hurry. The phrase about 'le gros messagier' seems to be quoted from the letter ascribed to, but repudiated by, Marnix. However this may have been, Rossel evidently thinks that it expresses his sentiments. If Fremyn is correct in reporting (No. 523) that the retirement of the Prince from the general direction of affairs was urged by the ambassador as a condition preliminary to negotiation, his attitude is intelligible. The ambassador's report was thought 'thin.'
On Jan. 16 the Emperor himself wrote encouragingly, though perhaps, as Davison thought, somewhat conventionally. Apparently he had not the latest information, for he seems to think that Anjou was still in the country. He appoints Cologne as the place of conference and invites the States to name deputies. Those selected included the Duke of Aerschot, the Abbots of St. Gertrude and Maroilles, Meetkerke, and Van der Mylen.
About the end of January Count Schwarzenberg had gone on a second errand to Parma. This time he was less successful. The campaigning season was nearer by a month or more, and the Prince had less inclination to waste time in negotiating terms which he was not in the least likely to be empowered to grant. At any rate by March 1 nothing had been done. The ambassador was at or near Aix-la-Chapelle, Parma kept putting off an audience, and the envoy was not unsuspected of collusion. For a moment it was believed that the whole thing had 'gone off in smoke' and that the Count's further services had been dispensed with. Presently however came news that the audience was to take place after all. Preparations for the meeting at Cologne went forward. The States of Artois resolved to send their deputies thither, protesting that they had no intention of leaving the union. The States-General apologised to the Duke of Anjou for their own action in the matter. On April 13 Davison writes that the conference is open on the 21st, and that 'Cardinal' Castagno (as he somewhat prematurely styles the ex-Archbishop of Rossano and future Urban VII) was coming as Papal legate ; a circumstance from which he draws a favourable augury. The States' commissioners were delayed by the citizens of Antwerp, who desired to see the inclusion of their city in the Utrecht Union completed before their departure, and while the nobles and clergy were in a conciliatory frame of mind. Ultimately they got off, about April 24 ; the Duke of Aerschot making his arrangements for a prolonged absence from his country.
The conference had not long opened its sittings before it became apparent that little was to be hoped from it. The terms which the Duke of Terranova was empowered to offer embodied no concessions, and 'the arbitrators,' wrote Somere, 'being all papists, will not care to grant the religions-vrede.' Rossel on May 31 writes to the same effect. The last we hear of the conference in the present volume is a statement of Rossel's, under date of June 25, that 'an express messenger has been dispatched to the deputies at Cologne to finish the conference in a fortnight at furthest ; and that then, if no decision is arrived at, they declare the King of Spain deposed.'
Towards the end of May Davison was recalled, a step on which the Queen had for some time determined, partly from motives of economy, partly to mark her displeasure with the States (No. 350) ; and his post was not filled up. Henceforward the volume of the documents is much reduced ; but Rossel's racy letters continue, and are supplemented by those of occasional correspondents, such as Villiers, J. de Somere, Fremyn, and Antoine Gosson, son of the unfortunate victim of reaction at Arras.
Parma, while quite willing to converse politely on the subject of peace with the Emperor's ambassador, had no idea of slackening his preparations for war. With the very first days of spring his army was on the move. He had already begun to block the road by which reinforcements might come from Germany, by the capture of Kerpen between Aachen and Cologne and one or two other places in the eastern provinces ; it was reported that he had designs upon Cologne itself. This however was not the direction in which he was looking. For some time he had been planning an attack on Maestricht, the capture of which would deprive the States of their footing in the south-eastern part of the territory, and cut off entirely their communications with the upper Rhine. To mask his operations in that quarter he threatened Herentals, held by la Noue with some French and English troops, and led in person a force almost to the gates of Antwerp, causing some bewilderment as to his intentions. On March 2 a sharp skirmish took place in the suburb of Borgerhout, in full view of the town, the Prince of Orange being able to direct the manuvres from the walls. The attack was not pushed within the range of the town guns, and Parma retired, capturing on his way the castle of Grobbendonk, belonging to Treasurer Schetz. Norris and la Noue, who had gone just at that moment to inspect the capacities of the place for defence, had a narrow escape of falling into his hands likewise. By March 9 his intentions in regard to Maestricht were known at Antwerp, and on the 10th the town was fully invested. About a fortnight later Parma tried the effect of bombardment, then of sap and mine ; but no sooner was a breach made than it was repaired. Vigorous sorties on the part of the besieged inflicted heavy losses on him, while his assaults were repulsed with slaughter. After about a month the Duke of Terranova sent orders, which Parma did not obey, to raise the siege. Had the States been able to furnish any relief, the town might have been saved ; but at first la Noue, their only general, and all their available forces were needed to deal with la Motte and the Walloons, and by the time these were driven back to Gravelines, Montigny had declared himself openly hostile, and was prepared (or so it was believed) to receive direct aid from the Spanish forces (No. 684). By the end of May Rossel is beginning to write despondently. For a moment (No. 694) hopes seem to have been entertained at Antwerp that Egmont, Hze, and even Montigny might be induced to forget their private discontents and join in an effort to relieve the place ; hopes which the shrewd Rossel did not share. On June 29, four days after he wrote, Maestricht, having lost nearly all its defenders, soldiers and civilians, was taken by mine and storm. Even then the remnant rallied with such vigour that they were able to capitulate on condition that their lives should be spared ; a condition which the victors, once secure, construed as justifying a general massacre. The news had not, however, reached Antwerp by the date at which the present volume closes.
Two incidents which by no means made for reconciliation between the opposing factions are duly recorded. On Ascension Day, May 28, the Catholics of Antwerp, with the Archduke at their head, resolved in spite of warnings to hold a solemn procession. In the riot which ensued the Archduke, the Marquis of Havrech, and 'all the nobles, Italians, and priests in the town' were driven to take refuge in the great church. At some personal risk the Prince of Orange succeeded in restoring order and releasing them. Some hundreds of priests were expelled from the town, but many were allowed to return ; and before the end of June the Mass was being said in the principal churches (No. 694). A week after the Antwerp tumult Count Egmont made an impudent attempt to seize Brussels. Walsingham's stepson, Christopher Carleill, describes the first stage of this affair (No. 687) ; Jacques de Somere and Gosson the termination of it (Nos. 688, 691). Henceforward Egmont sided avowedly with the Spaniards. It is noteworthy that Somere sees in this attempt as well as in the expulsion of the Protestants from Mechlin, soon followed by the surrender of that town, which occurred about the same time, direct results of the Antwerp disturbance.
French affairs are not very prominent in the present volume. Poulet was becoming weary of his task, and was at one time occupied with domestic troubles, which may to some extent account for the reduction in the number and volume of his dispatches. But in fact there was not much of any great moment to report, except in connexion with the Duke of Anjou's affairs. The Protestants were not easy, however. The Guises were away from the Court just then, and their friend Montmorency was in favour ; but no one could tell what plans might be maturing in Lorraine and Burgundy, while no one had much reliance on the easytempered Marshal, who, it was thought, had been summoned merely in order that his presence might guarantee the 'minions' by whose advice the King was mainly guided ; among whom Lavalette, afterwards Duke of Epernon, and Anne de Joyeuse begin to be conspicuous. When a couple of months later he left the Court 'not well satisfied,' Poulet wrote : "his peace is so easily made that his discontent is little regarded," and later : "he has sailed so long between two streams that he is feared on one side as a most dangerous instrument, and perhaps little trusted on the other." He died six weeks after this was written, though no mention of the event appears in these papers. Thenceforth the 'minions' had a free hand, as a newsletter forwarded through Davison towards the end of this year (which unfortunately came to light too late to be included in the present series), regretfully observes. An attempt by the Catholics on Prigueux, one of the towns assigned by the last treaty to the Protestants, though unsuccessful, no doubt served to increase the feeling of insecurity. In the South Chtillon and Damville were showing their teeth at each other ; and the King of Navarre, though keeping quiet himself, was not satisfied. Raids were constantly being made by the partisans of either side upon places belonging to the other. "Greater preparations than at present have not been seen in France for a long time. . . All gentlemen and others able to bear arms are required to be in readiness," wrote Poulet on July 7. As to their destination, rumours differed diametrically. Some thought that the forces were to be employed against the Huguenots, or perhaps against England ; others, that nothing of the kind was intended. A third view, and the one that commended itself to Poulet, was that while no actual hostilities were contemplated, there might be no objection to keeping the Queen in a little suspense. The Queen Mother's letters about this time also indicate that in Catholic circles apprehensions were felt as to Casimir's designs. An allusion to this will be found in Davison's letter of June 11 (No. 13).
Finally, at the beginning of August, Catherine set out on one of her perambulations of France. The Queen of Navarre, who it was thought expedient should rejoin her husband, accompanied her. During their journey they were met by frequent letters from Henry, pointing out the need for pacification ; to which the Queen Mother replied by banter (No. 187). On Oct. 2 (not 4, as Poulet wrote) a meeting took place at la Role in Guienne, "where nothing was omitted that might serve to make demonstration of sincere amity between those princes." (fn. 7) In spite of the gossip current in the Netherlands, and reported by Rossel (No. 318) as to an intrigue with Spain, or Poulet's sombre conviction (No. 393) that she was resolved "to do her best to raise new troubles for matter of religion" in order to stifle the cry for domestic reform that was beginning to be heard from the provinces (No. 392, and see also Nos. 423, 579), Catherine's sole object in this journey seems to have been the restoration of tranquillity in the South.
An even more serious danger to the Crown was the almost independent government exercised in Languedoc by Marshal Damville, soon to succeed his brother as head of the house of Montmorency. From la Role the two Queens proceeded to Toulouse, where they were sumptuously received by the Marshal. Catherine's diplomatic arts were exercised on him with an effect that seems to have disgusted Poulet a good deal. They returned into Guienne, passing the winter between Nrac and Port-Sainte-Marie in frequent intercourse with the King of Navarre, who, Poulet thought (No. 579), was showing himself a match for his mother-in-law in diplomacy. An incident, of which an echo seems to have reached the Low Countries, was the seizure by him of the town of Fleurance, in reprisal for the surrender to the Catholics of la Role, one of the towns secured by treaty to the Huguenots (No. 494). Otherwise the notices of this remarkable tour and of the Treaty (if so it may be called) of Nrac, are sadly meagre ; Poulet being content to retail such scraps of information as he could pick up in Paris, coloured by his own inveterate distrust of everything French. A somewhat amusing instance of this propensity is the suggestion in No. 619 that Toulouse was a stage on the road from Nrac to Bayonne, a town of evil memory for Protestants. A belief that she had actually been in Spain appears in a letter of Rossel's (No. 695).
Throughout February conferences were held between Catherine and the leading Huguenots, with the result that on the 28th articles of pacification were signed. After this she resumed her progress through Languedoc and Provence. At Castelnaudary she parted with the Queen of Navarre, who returned to her husband ; at the end of June she was at Aix. In the course of the spring she seems to have found time to send an agent into Portugal to watch over her interests as a claimant to that Crown.
Poulet's letters offer an occasional glimpse into the working of the secret service which Walsingham made so efficient. A grey friar named Thomas Bowser brings information to the ambassador from Spain. Before long, "one John Bowser of Gloucestershire," a kinsman, as one must suspect, of the friar, turns up with important news from Italy. A trifling matter of robbery, "in the company of Anthony Poynes" (one wonders where Nym, Peto, and Bardolph were), suggests the consideration which will place him at the Secretary's service. Peter Douglas, a Scotchman, makes acquaintance with and borrows 40 sous from Poulet's 'servant' and (probably) brother George Poulet. This gives an opening for an interview with the ambassador, at which Peter, professing himself "touched in conscience and stricken from heaven, as was St. Paul," while refusing to betray his employers, gave some interesting facts (if facts they were) as to the errand which had brought him to France. The frankness with which he professed his readiness to abandon his original purpose and serve the English government did not inspire Sir Amyas with confidence (No. 686) in his sincerity. Nor does he anticipate much from the offer of another decoy-Papist, William Blundell (No. 393).
Among miscellaneous matters of interest recorded in this volume may be noted the institution at the end of 1578 of the Order of Saint-Esprit, originally founded, it was thought, as the nucleus of a crusade against Protestants (No. 407). There is also a reference in a letter of Poulet's, dated Feb. 6, to the murder in the previous July, by order of the Duke of Guise, of the king's minion Saint-Maigrin Poulet says he reported it at the time ; if so the letter is lost.
The movements of James Fitzmorris were a constant object of interest to the English Government, to judge by the number of references to him. On June 4, 1578, Poulet reports he came to Paris. A letter dated three days later, from a personage whose name suggests that he too was an Irishman abroad, contains what looks very like a proposal to assassinate him. Presently Poulet sends into Britanny in order to see what he is doing, and soon after reports that he has been found at Dinan, with a houseful of friends ; whence it inferred that he has nothing in hand just now. Probably his hospitality outran his means, for we presently (No. 110) find a notice of his pawning his plate. In September he "is shipped for Spain with his wife and family." In January and February we find him, under the style of 'captain-general to his Holiness,' buying a ship at Portogalete through an agent, who seems also to have been concerned in raising soldiers. Lastly we shall probably be right in connecting with him a letter (No. 685) in which the aid of the Papal nuncio in Portugal is asked to expedite the delivery of certain arms which are being detained.
In the course of the winter Poulet lost his eldest son, a promising youth of 20, and it would appear from No. 650 another child, who must have been his daughter Elizabeth. A touching letter to Walsingham (No. 529) refers to these losses. No. 618 is of special interest from the fact that its bearer was 'Mr Francis Bacon,' who had been for some time an inmate of the ambassador's house and was returning to England on the death of his father, the Lord Keeper. Poulet commends him to the Queen.
The original deposition made at Panama by the master of the famous plate ship commonly known (though it would seem to be merely a nickname) as the Cacafuego, ransacked by Drake in the South Sea, is interesting. It is here given for the first time in full, though the late Mr Froude has quoted part of it in his history of the time.
The difficulties in connexion with the order of Divine Service at the English House in Antwerp, of which we had a glimpse in the last volume, appear to have revived after the departure of Walsingham ; who it may be suspected when on the spot allowed his personal preferences to overpower the more politic view of the case stated in his letter of a few months before. At any rate, Nicholas Loddington, the Governor of the Merchants, seems to have found it necessary to inhibit Mr Walter Travers the chaplain, and to have appealed in support of his action to "the words of conformity" in Walsingham's letter. Davison naturally took the part of Travers, and this time the Secretary appears more willing to allow of laxity in adherence to the prescribed form. The Governor and Davison seem to have replied by the same post. The latter (No. 308) writes as though his opponent had given way ; but from Walsingham's rejoinder (No. 327) to the Governor's letterthe letter itself is unfortunately lost it looks as if he had gained his main point, the use of the Prayer-book. He was however on the point of resigning, and had indeed gone before Walsingham's letter came. The disputants parted on good terms, and Davison writes : "Mr Travers goes peaceably on in his good work." Yet from a letter written a few days later (No. 370) from Travers himself to Davison, then at Ghent, it would seem as if some differences still existed. Not long afterwards Travers went back to England, and though his post at Antwerp remained open, he did not return.
There are few letters in the present instalment throwing much light on private or domestic life. The most interesting is that from an Antwerp man in Lisbon to his friends at home (No. 429), a phrase in which incidentally gives a clue to the origin of a word which has long puzzled philologistsnamely 'truck' (= trade). A letter (No. 543) from the Count of Neuenahr to Davison contains a curious assertion of the right of the Reformed Religion to the title of Catholic ; seeming to shew that at any rate some pious people of that time had not recognised the breadth of the gulf which separated the new from the old.
Students of language will find some interesting words and phrases. When the Queen bids the Ambassadors (No. 151) not to "take conceit of grief" she appears to mean not to fancy that they have a grievance. "The widow of Grobbendonk's cause" is a construction like "the daughter of Pharaoh's son" in a well-known catch. "To make portesale of" is an Elizabethan term now extinct. The same may be said of "rather" in "having no rather their safe-conduct," "countenance" in the sense of "muff," "forslow" for "postpone," "acknowen" for "recognised" (No. 526), "whereabout" for "about what." "Gratuity" for "gratitude" is used by Walsingham some forty years before the earliest instance given in the New English Dictionary. "Sting" seems to have the sense of "jeer at" in No. 208. "Steynchide" in No. 247, allowing for Lord Cobham's eccentric spelling, is probably "stenched," from "stench" transitive. "Value," or as the same nobleman spells it "wallew," frequently means "valour." "Has" for "he has," and "dangerost" are contracted forms "Without" for "unless," now disapproved by purists occurs more than once ; and Rogers is not above "and which." "Silver vessell" in the sense of French vaisselle may be noted. Proverbial phrases, of which there is a good selection, will be found in the index. On one, "to play blind Bayard," it may be remarked that it has never yet been explained, (fn. 8) and that Poulet's use of it in No. 84 does not offer much aid to its explanation. Davison's "of whom they have infinitely to suspect" looks like a Gallicism, and a curiously modern one. For actual French phrases, Rossel is perhaps our best source. "Dplor" in the sense of "desperate," "repatrier," "on est aprs" (just as we say "are after"), "feu" for "late," not necessarily "dead," are archaisms recognised by the dictionaries ; but "malconteur" as the substantive of "malcontent" must be a bold formation of the Commissary's own. When the Count of Neuenahr writes to Davison of 'Mademoiselle votre compagne,' no imputation on Mrs Davison's character is implied. Only ladies whose husbands were of knightly rank were strictly 'Madame.'
It would be interesting to know if Monceaux's correspondent when he wrote (No. 339) of "sick people who roll from side to side and cannot find the rest they seek" had a well-known passage of Dante in his mind.
It has been impossible to note every case in which a document appearing in this Calendar has been previously printed. Probably most of those in the Holland and Flanders bundles will be found elsewhere ; some in Messrs. Muller and Diegerick's Le Duc d'Anjou et les Pays-Bas, others in Relations Politiques. The continuation of this work, edited by M. Gilliodts-van Severen, did not come to my notice till this volume and some of the next were passed for the press. The interesting Moncheaux correspondence, however, appears to be published now for the first time.