Elizabeth: January 1583, 16-20

Pages 43-63

Calendar of State Papers Foreign: Elizabeth, Volume 17, January-June 1583 and Addenda. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1913.

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January 1583, 16–15

Jan. 16. 38. Audley Danett to Walsingham.
The fear I have lest this practice for the surprising of Antwerp extend its branches into Scotland, England, and other places of the Reformed Religion, causes me not to stay the sending of the enclosed paper to you. It is an extract from a letter directed to England, and lately intercepted here, as is reported, by a gentleman of this country, whom I do not know, who refuses to deliver the copy of the whole letter as yet, or the name of the writer, because it contains matter concerning this state; wherewith 'having made' the magistrates here acquainted, I hope there will be no difficulty to see the rest.
I hear that the Queen of Scots has intelligence with la Mauvissière, and letters pass between them by the means of an ordinary carrier of Sheffield, who comes every week or every fortnight laden with packets, which are dispersed into every corner by this means.
The duke is said to be at Vilvorde, and as it is thought, will shortly to Dermond, to assay the passage into the land of Waes; for the stopping of which, the States have caused a ditch to be cut, and so have drowned a good part of the country near Dermonde. All which notwithstanding, some have opinion the duke may pass without any danger of drowning; and then Mr. Norris has charge to make such resistance as he may with the forces already assembled in Flanders, which are not great, besides the boors, who are many in number, and like enough in this extremity to annoy the French, knowing the advantage of the place, which by the advice of Mr. Yorke they have well fortified and purpose to keep.
The deputies sent from the States to the duke are not yet returned, 'and therefore uncertain' what appointment will follow. Some think all things will be appeased and the duke 'to' keep his Court in Brussels; whereof they make their conjecture, both because the Prince openly inclines that way, and speaks very modestly and reverently of the duke (so much that some of the hastier sort 'shirk not to say he was of the faction') and because of late good store of victuals has been sent to his army from this town and Brussels. Some others, knowing how hardly this people is affected to him by reason of his enterprise, assure themselves he will never put himself into their hands by coming into any of their towns; and understanding that the deputies sent to him are to treat upon the same points which were handled at Bordeaux at their first seeking to him, assure themselves likewise there is no purpose in the States to retain him any longer. Yet without him their case is hard, and having him an enemy it seems desperate. They will allow no open place for any man, otherwise than in his own chamber for himself and his domestics; nor guard of French and Swiss, but of 'their country men,' and no officers of his Council, but of this country, nor of his household, according to the ancient manner of the House of Burgundy; no Council of the Cabinet nor secretary, French, but of the country, besides their garrisons, to be wholly of these countries. Now the duke misliking that his authority hitherto has been so little, and this treaty seeking greatly to abridge that, it is not thought any union will easily ensue. Yet many of good judgement think otherwise, and therefore I dare not set down any certainty either on one side or on the other. One thing I have observed at the French sermons, which of a certainty the Dutch Churches have likewise followed. Since the day of the enterprise, the duke has not been prayed for, as before was accustomed, but the prayer made for the Prince and the States, etc. And withal generally they taught that it was a practice against God's Church and the professors of His Word; and to the end thanks might be duly rendered to Almighty God for the delivering of His Church, this day, being Wednesday, is appointed a solemn and general fast throughout the town. Such as are employed in the present service take their oath to the States, which divers Frenchmen have done, being of the Religion, and so do all the English and the Scots. Some voluntarily of themselves have vowed never more to serve in the field under the duke's command, although the States should accept his government; so that I see almost no man here in his heart wishes a reconciliation, but rather, that he should declare himself an enemy, which I think will be done 'or' long.
Eyndhoven, lately won from the enemy, two days past was said to be besieged, but it falls out that certain companies of Count Charles and M. de Haultepenne only shewed themselves before the town; and thereby conjectured [sic] that upon this accident it will be attempted, being of good importance, and so great a trouble to 'Bolduc' Capt. Williams, by command of the States, is come thence, having left about 50 or 60 of our English horse within the town. He is gone with the rest to Mr. Norris in the land of Waes, and so is Col. Morgan; those of Mechlin, whither he was first appointed to take his regiment, being of themselves strong enough to guard the town. M. Bonnivet commands in Eyndhoven, and although he sends the States word that he will live and die in their service, yet finding many wants in him for a commander, they desire he were from thence, and that his charge there were supplied by M. de 'L'alainge' (qy. Allain), a Frenchman who has served the States faithfully these 10 years at least, known to be very discreet and valiant, and thoroughly affected to Religion.
I beseech you to take in good part these my hasty 'skriblings,' and that the desire I have to do you service in these parts may excuse my fault if I chance to offend.—Antwerp, 16 January, 1582.
Add. Endd. and several passages underlined. 3 pp. [Holl. and Fl. XVIII. 22.]
Jan. 16. 39. Roger Williams to Walsingham.
If you knew the virtue of this bearer, Mr. Were, I am sure he would be very 'well welcome' to you. I am sure all his countrymen that served here will give him no less praise than I. I assure you I never saw a braver young gentleman 'a fore' his enemy. You have favoured me and a number of others for less valour and virtue than is in him. I do not doubt, after you have spoken with others that kept him company in these parts you will both favour and love him.
I would trouble you with a large discourse, but that I am sure you will find more contentment in his speech than in my writing. He knows my mind. If you will help me, I humbly desire you.—Antwerp, 16 January.
Add. Endd. 1 p. [Holl. and Fl. XVIII. 23.]
Jan. 16/26. 40. [Des Prueneaux?] to [ ?].
M. and D. iv. p. 341. The fact that it is the way of the world to relate events differently, even those which are of less importance than what has happened at Antwerp, will be my reason for enlightening you upon the facts in all that has come to my knowledge. I may tell you then that it is the custom in this town of Antwerp for the inhabitants to bring to the burgomasters every evening a report of all strangers and their quality, and of all those who have arrived in the town that day, and every three months every house is searched by the quarteniers during one whole night (tant comme une nuict peult durer). Now last Sunday, about 9 o'clock, the burgomasters were informed that there were fully 3,000 French in the town, most of them soldiers; for which reason they ordered the inhabitants to keep lights all night in the windows throughout the streets. At 10 o'clock a rumour was current everywhere that a surprise of the town was intended; however, the night passed without anything happening, but they were in great suspicion, inasmuch as they remembered that on the Saturday night there had been an attempt to open the gate to take victuals to the soldiers in the suburbs, which the inhabitants refused, as being at an improper hour.
In the morning his Highness, hearing of this rumour, went to call on the Prince of Orange, who was still in bed, it being his custom to do business in bed in the morning, and asked him if he could not come to see his army in the place where it was in order that afterwards he might move the troops to a distance from the town, to remove by that means a certain suspicion which he was told the people had conceived(?). The Prince begs his Highness to excuse him, because he did not feel well; and at once his Highness returned to his lodgings, whither our burgomaster came in search of him. With him he talked for a good half hour; after which he dines diligently [sic] in his own chamber and then goes out into the Court with his suite [troupe] and says aloud, 'This people is getting distrustful for no reason.' He gets on his horse just at noon, an hour when the inhabitants are usually at table, passes along the High Street and through the market-place with a laughing face, speaking now to one, now to another, having Fervacques always close to him, and goes out of the town. Being on the bridge, his gentlemen and the French guard moved back into the town, and as they entered, killed in the gate three of those who guarded it, and went following on at full speed (à vau-de-route), slaying and crying, 'Ville gaignée! vive la messe! alarme!' Those outside, who were in great numbers, both foot and horse, entered and did likewise. The inhabitants came out with all sorts of arms and offered a valiant resistance. Meanwhile some of the Frenchmen pillaged some houses, others set fire to some, to 'answer' the people; who remembering that the Spaniards had formerly used this dodge (traict) to trick them, would not be taken in. Some other French tried to get on to the ramparts; they were driven back. Others wanted to come along another street, where they found a strong corps-de-garde and the chains up, and were very badly handled. The hardest of the fighting was in the High Street, where some English were; who rallied to the inhabitants and encouraged them so that they fought valorously. Finally the French, having held out but a very short time, were compelled to make for the gate, which they found so blocked by some wanting to get in and others to get ou, that there was a great slaughter there of men and horses, all piled in a heap one on the other. When the Prince of Orange arrived, it was 4 o'clock. He at once made the artillery cease firing, and in his goodness and pity saved some remnants from the defeat. The 'fury' lasted an hour and a half; and besides those who died from blows or harquebuss shots, many wishing to escape over the walls were drowned. The fishermen fished up a good many of them and are fishing still, because one was got up on whom the fisherman found 1,600 crowns. As for Fervacques, when he saw the Prince of Orange come he was so alarmed that he dismounted, left his horse, and retired into a house, where he promised them 10,000 crowns to save his life, throwing all the blame on Marshal Biron, and saying a thousand other vanities to clear himself at another's expense. The French thought that on their crying 'Vive la messe' [the Catholics] would come out on their side, but they found them than the others. There were found more than 200 of his Highness's household servants who, owing to the protection of the Prince of Orange were in no way molested; and I myself was so well treated that I have grounds for rendering praise for it, having been visited and assisted and assured of my life by the very officers of justice in the town. There were full 1,600 slain, who were handed over to the people to be stripped and buried; among them more than 200 clad in velvet. One of them, my neighbour, shammed dead and let himself be stripped quite naked, and then took an old shirt, all bloody and torn, from one of the dead, and remained till morning, when a captain took pity on him and brought him to his lodging, where he still is, and got him medical attendance for charity.
Before the day was over the Prince assembled the Town Council, and after deploring the evil counsel which had been given to his Highness, urged the inhabitants to be reconciled with him (saying that he held him for a prince naturally of a good disposition), alike for the sake of the fidelity which they had sworn to him, and of the harm that might come to them if they fell back into the hands of the Spaniards, insomuch that after some debate they resolved to send to see him, and to show their constancy and loyalty offered him entrance into the town. His Highness replied that Fervacques and la Rochepot had been the cause of all the mischief, but that he would never enter the town unless he was absolutely master. On seeing this answer, the Prince of Orange wrote that he was informed he had an understanding with the King of Spain, and that the facility of his passage by Gravelines had given rise to suspicion, and that during the truce there had been negotiation for marriage between him and the daughter of Spain, all contrary to his promise; and that having taken the town of Dermonde, where his Highness is at this moment, he had wanted to do the like at Bruges, Nieuport, 'Halet' [Alost], Dunkirk; and that all this was an evident sign of the conspiracy conceived and afterwards discovered. He had not duly recognised their fidelity, which nevertheless they wished to maintain inviolably toward him, notwithstanding what had happened to the contrary.
The reply to this last letter written by the Prince to his Highness has not yet arrived. Meanwhile the old French troops and the English have left his Highness, saying that they will never adhere or consent to so disloyal and detestable an enterprise; of which I will never confess, still less believe, that my prince was the author; but that he was pushed on to do it by the evil counsel of those who wishing to make him marry his niece, would for their own private passion have made him an enemy to those of the Religion. And for having told him my opinion, and having pointed out what would happen to him, being [sic] things all contrary to divine and human laws, I have had to bear ill-will, and been threatened by Fervarquer, who will never be so faithful a servant to him as I, who for recompense of my services see myself left prisoner. At all events, I hope that God will help me.—Antwerp, 16 January, 1583.
Copy, (qy. by same hand as Somers's letter of Mar. 30), differing considerably, it would seem, from other versions. (See Le Duc d' Anjou et les Pays-Bas, Vol. IV. No. 715.) A good deal obliterated by water, but mostly legible. No signature. Endd. by (?) L. Tomson: Copy of a letter sent from Antwerp. Fr.pp. [Holl. and Fl. XVIII. 24.]
Jan. 17. 41. Walsingham to Cobham.
The only occasion of this dispatch is to acquaint you with such certainties as we have received of the late 'accident' happened in the Low Countries, the particulars of which you will receive enclosed. It will, therefore, now behove you to have your eyes open, and to carry a very watchful regard to their doings there. And though it cannot manifestly appear through the reports made hitherto of this action, that there has been any sound intelligence between the Spaniard and the French, who perhaps, if the success had been answerable to their attempts, could have been content absolutely to have 'impatronised themselves' of those countries, yet seeing they have this way missed of their purpose, it is greatly to be feared they will now join both together, and give greater cause to suspect the sundry advertisements we have heretofore received of their secret practices for the utter subversion of that State, and generally against the true religion. I am the rather induced to think this, for that of late I have been secretly given to understand that there has been a treaty in hand of a match to be concluded between Monsieur and the King of Spain's daughter, wherein if any further dealing shall be discovered, we are to look for no other effect than it has always been doubted such practices would in the end bring forth. I can but think that those of the Religion there will now be thoroughly awakened, and provide accordingly for the preventing of any danger threatened by so hot an alarm.
I am the shorter in writing that I desire you may with all convenient speed understand the truth of what has passed, and thereupon have a special care to understand what further matter it may breed in those parts, and of what consequence it is; whereof we look here to be often and diligently advertised.
Draft. Endd. with date. 1¾ pp. [France IX. 12.]
Jan. 17/27. 42. The Prince of Orange to the Duke of Anjou.
I make no doubt that you and all of your suite have clearly recognised the sincere affection which I have had to your service. I can testify upon oath that I have nothing more at heart than to see you reach the fulfilment of your desires, to which I have worked with all my power, judging that your greatness was wholly joined with the prosperity of these countries. This is why I am the more sorry that things have come to such a pass that all which seemed to tend to the furtherance of your greatness has been in an instant changed; by such ways and manners of acting that the people, hitherto wholly affected to you, in such fashion indeed that they would have been ready to die at your feet, are now so irritated that they say openly they would sooner die by the hand of the enemy than run the risk every day of awaiting the sorry ending of so scoundrelly an exploit as that devised against them by those to whom they had vowed their lives. For the redressing of all this. I had hoped that closely considering what has happened in sundry towns all on the same day and almost at the same hour, you would have given our deputies another and more suitable answer on the road to a good settlement, than that you have given. For I can assure you tbat the articles given in writing were so strange and so remote from all equity that no one has ventured to utter any persuasion or inducement in their favour, since it seems that you wish thereby rather to increase the distrust by travelling altogether outside the limits of the treaty of Bordeaux, than to remove and uproot them. This I beg of you, for the affection I have always had to your service; for it is not the way to increase the fame of your clemency and virtue as it began heretofore. Therefore I cannot but entreat you, with your prudence and magnanimity, to devise means more suitable to the expectation which not only this country but all Christendom has always had of you, and to the promises which you have so often been pleased to make to us.—Antwerp, 27 January, 1583.
Copy. Endd. by Walsingham: The Duke's answer to the States' proposition. Date (in another hand), 28 Jan. Also (later): Matters touching the treaty with Monsr. upon the enterprise of Antwerp, 1582. Fr. ¾ pp. [Holl. and Fl. XVIII. 25.]
Jan. 17/27. 43. Another copy of the above.
Endd. by Walsingham (correctly). Fr.pp. [Ibid. XVIII. 26.]
Jan. 10/29. 44. Pietro Bizarri to Walsingham.
After the design of his Highness had by the just judgement of God turned out unfortunately for him, he withdrew with his people to Berchem, and soon after by the Abbey of St. Bernard, two leagues distant from Antwerp. And whereas he found himself in great straits for all manner of victuals, the authorities here did not fail to succour him daily, and also sent him their commissioners, who being arrived at the Abbey found that he had already started for Vilvorde, and so came back. While his Highness was crossing a bridge near Vilvorde it fell, through weakness, and many soldiers were drowned. The Duke of Montpensier fell into the river, and was very nearly drowned too, and they say that he is now much indisposed in consequence, besides being very greatly displeased at what happened at Antwerp; as is also M. de Laval and many others, far removed from such cruelty.
Meanwhile Monsieur withdrew with his people to 'Dhermont,' and the States with the chief magistrates of Antwerp sent six commissioners to him, among whom Dr. Longolius, Chancellor of Brabant and M. Meetkerke, president of Flanders, were the chief; and having declared their mission, they found his Highness very hard in condescending to the just demands of the States. Among them were, they say, that he should restore the places taken by the French, and should turn his arms against the Malcontents, electing to hold his Court, as limited by them, at Ghent or Brussels or Mechlin. They say that among other things he said that his kind and gracious nature could not longer endure the indignities he had suffered from the City of Antwerp, although never has any prince been more beloved and honoured than he. But I have no wish at present to take up the apology of this poor city, leaving that task to others more concerned with it than I.
There is come here in Monsieur's name 'Mavesser' his maitre-d'-hôtel, but I cannot get at the substance of his commission. Meanwhile the States have sent back Dr. Longolius and some other deputies, and an answer is expected, which will soon be known. It seems that there is very little hope of reconciliation, these people being much alienated from their new prince, so that there will always be a reciprocal distrust, and rather fear and alarm than affection and loyalty. I must not forget to tell you how the evening before the tragic adventure of the French, Monsieur asked for the keys of the gate towards 'Chil' (Kiel) wishing to go out at night. The colonels being in various minds on the matter, one of them (who the next day was killed by Count Rochepot at the outset of the tumult) said openly that he could on no account agree to their being given to him; and so prevailed upon the others, and Monsieur remained defrauded of his hope. He designed to commit in the night what he attempted unsuccessfully in the day, about 1 in the afternoon.
That same evening a French gentleman, who was paying great court to one of his Excellency's daughters, having gone to take leave of her, as of his mistress (Mestres), after other words of ceremony said, 'Adieu, Madame'; who graciously answered, saying, 'Adieu, Monsieur'; and thus having gone as far as the door of the chamber, he turned to her again, and prayed her to tell the Prince her father that on no account should he go out of the city to see the muster. This I recount from another man's relation. But however it be, God has shown, as other times without end, that He has a special care of him; and there is no doubt that through his means, Monsieur would have made himself master of Holland and Zealand and the Isles at the very least; besides that he would have been for all his life most miserable and unfortunate. He was straitly begged again and again by Monsieur to accompany him.
It is said that the Prince of Parma has sent carte blanche to the people of Ghent, and sought in every possible way to restore them to the obedience of Spain. But in vain. He also lately sent a trumpeter here, who, however, was no otherwise admitted, but at once let go, with his letters.
Three or four nights ago, the Malcontents of Lierre made a raid as far as Borgerhout, and took away some 60 reiters' horses, finding no opposition, and having learnt from a spy that the bridge at Doom was not up as usual, and was unguarded; much to the blame of whoever had that duty. Besides the horses, two German gentlemen and about ten serving-men were left dead.
I am extremely sorry to have no matter for writing to you except tragical and pitiful things, and yet know it is my duty not to pass them over.
Here on the 17th inst. were slain about 1,500 Frenchmen, among whom were many noblemen, including Count Saint-Aignan and two sons of Marshal Biron. Would that their father, with Count Rochepot, had been left in the same way; both infernal monsters. Many, too, were wounded; and of the burghers whose valour is worthy to be celebrated eternally, were slain about 250. More than 200 French noblemen are prisoners here, among whom is M. de Fervacques.—Antwerp, 29 January, '83.
Add. Endd. Ital. 3 pp. [Holl. and Fl. XVIII. 27.]
Jan. 19/29. 45. Fremyn to Walsingham.
I wrote to you last a week ago by one of your servants about what has happened in these quarters. It is indeed a very troublesome state of things. The Prince of Parma lets pass nothing which can be of service to his master. To say the truth, the disorder that has happened here has gained a great battle for the Spaniard, and the people are thoroughly disgusted (mutine) with the French on account of what passed in this place. No doubt there will be plenty of difficulties about reconciling (rapatrier) them with his Highness; although some terms are being arranged, there will always be distrust. The deputies came back two days ago, and are gone this evening in search of his Highness who is at Termonde. He asks in short that the town of Bruges may be given him to hold his Court there, with such garrison as he may wish to put there, also the towns of Nieuport and Ostend; also that his gentlemen and servants who are prisoners in Antwerp may be sent to him. He will surrender the towns of Termonde and Vilvorde, and will for his part employ himself, his servants, and his resources, to the good and profit of the country, as a good prince should do; and that the States on their side should carry out what they had promised him, all bygones being placed under foot as a thing which had not happened. So at present they are on the to and fro about their negotiations. It seems to me that his Excellency and a good part of the Estates desire much to come to terms (se rapatrier) with this promise, and to content him reasonably, if it is possible notwithstanding what has happened, which, as regards many people, is hard to pass over. To say the truth, violence is ugly in a prince, and especially in the case of those who are called in; who always come to a bad end if they are not wisely and prudently advised, and God is not called to bless the work.
You will have been told about Bruges; how the maitre-de-camp Depiez has had the rack, and la Fougère; who has confessed that when the enterprise was decided on, to be executed the 17th, there was no one in the cabinet with his Highness but Marshal de Biron, Fervacques, Count Rochepot, Count Saint-Aignan, Secretary Quinsay, and Aurilly, master of the wardrobe. In short, it was a damnable Council for the honour of his Highness and France, for they will always distrust him. His army is in great dearth. He has lost over 800 soldiers dead, of misery, since he went from before this town. He will try to get into the land of Waes, where Mr. Norris is in command to keep it. His Highness has sent for him to town to see him, as also for the Scotch, and 'that' they had all taken the oath to him. They have made no answer, nor even have they decided to go there. Hatred has already sprung up between the French and them. They have cut the dykes and made entrenchments in the country of Waes for fear his Highness's army should enter it; which they will have some trouble to hinder. Meanwhile the peasants are busily removing all they can to Ghent and other strong places.
During all this, the garrisons of Lierre and Breda came, two cornets of cavalry and some infantry, and attacked our German reiters at Borgerhout, who had left his Highness, wishing to go back to Germany. These were keeping a bad guard, and they took away 130 horses and some baggage-animals, and slew six or seven. This happened on the 27th at 4 in the morning, and caused a great and very hot alarm in the town. They fired a few cannon-shots from the ramparts; and the reiters have also got permission for their return to Germany. Count Mansfelt was in the town, with the rittmeisters; all are going off to Germany. They will not serve any longer in these parts.
Count Charles and Haultepenne have surprised a company of French, and one of Scots who were in a nunnery near Eyndhoven, and cut them all to pieces; and have now besieged Eyndhoven, which is as good as lost. The villages which supplied that town will be the cause of the loss of it, inasmuch as the lack of money has hindered them from putting provisions from the villages into the place, and they have remained for the convenience of the enemy, which is a trick of war. M. de Bonivet commands there. He has got them to give him 50 florins a day for his share (? plalt; qy. plat), and also has left in the cold [? lessé jellant] the captains and soldiers, which is injudicious.
La Motte has written to his Excellency; the letter arrived this evening. I do not see in short what to send. One is also come this evening from the Prince of Parma, dated from Namur. Count de la Marche, brother to the Duke of Bouillon is with his Excellency; in a day's time he will take the order to leave these countries. M. de Laval is with his Highness; he got away once, to come to Antwerp, but was retaken, as it is said.
In short, everything is in a great mess in these parts, and were it not for his Excellency who holds the helm, all would go to confusion. He sees further than the others, and if anyone were to believe them all would go to confusion; inasmuch as the people may be compared to a horse which has escaped from the halter and runs till it breaks its neck if not restrained by some means. But the people just now finding itself somewhat free of its will, if it is not dexterously held in by the wise, will incontinently lose itself. The people in these parts are so agitated that they see no further than the length of their noses, and if God does not have pity on them, they are in danger of being submerged.
I send you a copy of the letter which his Highness has written to those of Brussels, by which you will see how ill-content he is. Meanwhile his officials, maitres-d'-hôtel, controllers are still prisoners here. Some part of them have paid ransom; some of the nobles are expecting money to redeem themselves.
There is nothing else to say, save that I am your servant, and beg your recommendation to her Majesty for what I have before asked you.—Antwerp, 29 January, 1583.
P.S.—His Highness will have difficulties in getting a free passage to send into England to justify himself for what has happened here, as well as to the other neighbouring princes. His suite, who are in the Abbey of St. Michael, are on short commons (? font petite portion), if they are not assisted shortly, inasmuch as the principal officials are prisoners, as also many gentlemen are in necessity. Everything is withdrawn, awaiting negotiation. Various things remain at the pen's end.
Add. Endd. Fr. 2 pp. [Holl. and Fl. XVIII. 28.]
Jan. 19/29. 46. Thomas Doyley to Walsingham.
Last Saturday the 23rd inst. there was another very hot alarm in Antwerp. As the first was in bloody earnest, so the second was a simple jest, beginning of two mariners fighting in Our Lady Church at sermon-time.
Also the garrisons of Lierre, Louvain, and Aerschot, on Wednesday night came to Borgerhout to cut in pieces Count Mansfelt's reiters. They burnt almost 40 houses, and took away almost 100 of their horses with much of their baggage; their loss is esteemed at 7,000 gulders. This gave the third alarm to Antwerp. Lanterns were hanged out, and all the burghers in arms.
The same day returned the four deputies from the duke, without any other resolution than that he would exchange 'Dendermont' and 'Vilford' for Ostend and Nieuport; (iniquum postulat ut concedatur œquius), he stands upon too high terms, to have agreement. He himself has been at Dendermonde these three days.
On Wednesday aforesaid, his army passing the river of 'Deel' at Rymenam beyond Mechlin, the peasants by cutting the ditches caused the river so suddenly to overflow and the waters to come so violently upon them that there were by estimation 800 men drowned. A great number climbing up trees to save themselves from the water, fell again from them, starved for want of victuals or through extreme cold.
His army at most, counting also the Swiss, is not above 3,600. He lost at Antwerp 1,000 and 800 drowned, besides a great number that daily die miserably of famine. His chief force are the Swiss.
Our general keeps the land of Waes, and has drowned the Zeel, which is the country on this side Dendermonde, to hinder their coming thither by the bridge. This frost, if it continues, may put the land of Waes in danger, except the boors continually break the ice.
Today the Estates 'sat hard' in Council to send the deputies again, but I hear of nothing resolved.
The people are extremely bent against the French, especially Holland, Zealand and Ghent, protesting rather to accord with the Spaniard.
I have sent you copies of the duke's letters, and I will do my best to 'recover' the articles of their reciprocal demands, and agreement, if it so fall out.—Antwerp, 29 January, 'according to our computation here,' 1583.
P.S.—I forgot in my former, and had almost in this, the cruel massacre at Dixmuede, which also the French surprised, killing a number of burghers and divers women.
The duke sent M. de Pruneaux twice to the Prince to persuade him to go see the French troops at Borgerhout, and went over himself.
Count Charles Mansfelt is besieging Eyndhoven. It wants victuals, but neither men nor munitions. Our cavalry is within, who chiefly want forage. In the town is Bonivet the governor, M. de Fonquereau, and M. d'Allain, a very good captain.
Add. Endd. 1 p. [Holl and Fl. XVIII. 29.]
Jan. 20. 47. Audley Danett to Walsingham.
In my last, of the 16th, I sent you a 'parcel' of a letter, whereby it may appear our neighbours have an eye 'into' Scotland; and somewhat, no doubt, has been practised there by those who would seem to carry good minds towards her Majesty and her estate. By often conference with some here, I found they had weekly advertisements from England, and many times they received many untruths, as quarrels, a great disliking among our nobility; that Lord Grey was called home, being suspected of intelligence with her Majesty's enemies in Ireland; and sundry such reports. I forbore to write then from time to time to you, knowing them to have no appearance of any truth. Still there was enquiring of the Duke of Lennox, and often assurance that the French were so soundly affected towards her Majesty that no aid for him might be looked for from thence. He that was the instrument to give me so great assurance, was the very author of the letter of which I sent you a small 'parcel.' The whole letter cannot yet be obtained, but is promised to be seen hereafter. The man is 'Jhon' Bodin. Upon this late 'accident' he is here left behind, in some trouble for his liberty, but in no danger of life. He has lately sent for me, talks with me at large of many things, and desires any means to help he may be permitted to go to England. Wherein I will further his purpose what I can. He expects from the Queen of Scots some great matter for his own advancement, which I think is to be her Chancellor in France.
The general fast was kept here very solemnly on Wednesday the 16th, the preachers generally inveighing greatly against Monsieur and the race of Valois, persuading earnestly with the people that there was no hope of any good to come to these countries from him, and therefore not to 'treat any appointments' with him, or to admit his return with any condition whatsoever. The rest of their exhortation was to very good purpose, not to depend upon any comfort of man, or to attribute those late benefits, of their return out of exile, or of their preservation from the late bloody enterprise, to the wise counsel of the Prince, or to their own force in resistance, but to the great mercy of Almighty God, and His care from time to time to preserve His Church.
The people generally cry out against the French, and in open speech call them traitors and murderers, and say they will none of the duke. The Prince notwithstanding labours to have him return; so much that the people and those of good calling are grown to 'mislike much of him,' and spare not to say openly that he seeks to continue these wars, to make his posterity great, and for his own private respects hinders all means of peace, to the great trouble and charge of the poor people. They exclaim greatly against him, and saving that he is wise, and knows how to behave himself among them, being sufficiently acquainted with their humours, I should think they would soon be as weary of him as of the duke. God knows what will be the end, if he persist in that French humour.
The deputies who, as I wrote in my last, were sent to the duke, found him at Vilvorde, and returned hither on Wednesday the 16th. It is said he demands to have Nieuport and Ostend delivered into his hands, and then will forsake Vilvorde and Dermond, and afterwards hearken to the rest of their commission. The commissioners should have returned to him with new instructions on the Friday or Saturday following; but they are stayed, and, as I hear, upon this occasion, that the Provinces of Holland, Zealand, Guelders, and Flanders have called home their several deputies which remained here in the Council of State, and have discharged them from all power and authority to deal in anything with the duke. Further, on Saturday morning letters were sent hither from la Motte at Gravelines and others of the Malcontents in Artois and Hainault, to those of Flanders, to hearken to a peace with the Spaniard, and clean abandon the French; which generally, as I judge, these whole countries incline to, and if the Spaniard will yield the exercise of religion, which they presume will not be denied them, I think peace will be easily concluded.
The same day the deputies returned from Vilvorde, the duke went to Dermond, where he still abides, his army remaining in the countries hereabout, slenderly provided of victual, or forage for their horse. He has in Dermond victuals not for above one month. The country of Waes, by the cutting of a ditch, is drowned, so that the passage will be hard from Dermond unless the frost be some help. Mr. Norris lies there to withstand the French if they shall offer to enter; whereat, the deputies late come from the duke say, he is much offended, and gives out some hard speeches of the English.
Those of Lierre on Friday night surprised certain reiters, who being come from the duke's service remained at 'Burgerhault,' and keeping no watch were slain to the number of 9 or 10, and some taken prisoners, with the loss of 50 or 60 of their 'horse.' The fire at Borgerhout gave an alarm to this town, but else no hurt ensued.
The French die apace about Dermond, and many of them were drowned in passing the river about Duffelt; so that the duke's army, with the slaughter made in this town is said to be diminished to the number of 2,000, at the 'least.'
To-day such of the poorer sort of the French as were stayed here are sent by water to the duke at Dermond, but the great ones remain still in guard.
This morning I received letters from the general, he being at Waesmunster in the land of Waes, to deal with the States and Prince for money for his troops, and to send him more forces. He beseeches you to excuse him for not writing, and 'wills' me to let him understand that it seems the duke will take such a course that neither these countries nor England shall have any cause to laugh at him; and therefore longs greatly to have some direction from you.—Antwerp, 20 January, 1582.
Add. Endd. 3 pp. [Holl. and Fl. XVIII. 30.]
Jan. 20. 48. Audley Danett to Walsingham.
Since writing this morning I have learned that about 12 o'clock yesternight the deputies went hence by water to Dermond to treat with the duke. To this they of Flanders would by no means agree, and therefore have revoked the deputy for their province and prepare to put themselves in arms for their defence. The States-General, and the magistrates of this town, being given to understand that the duke meant to send certain of his forces to make an attempt upon Mr. Norris, have this morning advertised him of it by express messengers, and advised him to stand upon his guard. The whole people continue their speeches against the duke, and some spare not to murmur against the Prince for being so greatly affected to the French. Upon the return of the deputies from Dermond, I will advertise you of their success.—Antwerp, 20 January at night, 1582.
Add. Endd. by Walsingham. ½ p. [Ibid. XVIII. 31.]
Jan. 20/30.
M. and D. iv. p. 369.
49. The French King to the States.
We have decided to send M. de Mirambeau, a gentleman of our chamber, the present bearer to you, on the occasion of certain new 'accidents,' which we are told have occurred at Antwerp and other places in Flanders, and beg you to credit him as ourselves.—Paris, 30 January, 1583.
Copy. Endd. by L. Tomson. Fr. 13ll. [Holl. and Fl. XVIII. 32.]
Jan. 20. 50. Cobham to the Queen.
The Queen Mother sent M. Gondi to me to-day, to will me to advertise you how she rendered me her humble thanks (with more words of efficacy than, M. Gondi said, he could express) for the singular demonstration of favour and integrity of friendship it pleased you of late to show her son; through which she finds herself so beholden to you that during her life she will never forget it, but remain ready with affection to requite your gracious manner of demonstration, shown in this time upon this extremity. I assured M. Gondi that I would obey the Queen Mother in this, and by the first opportunity signify thus much to your Majesty; showing him how I thought you would be glad the Queen Mother 'had feeling' of your friendship testified by so many means to Monsieur. But demanding of him upon what especial cause these thanks proceeded at this instant, he answered that the queen had said no further to him; notwithstanding, he supposed that it happened upon the knowledge of some singular office of amity performed by you to Monsieur, having been distressed in 'annuity' [qy. a mutiny] in Antwerp of late, as he had heard, whereof sundry advertisements are come to their Majesties, to their great discontentment.
I am exceeding loath to present to your princely eyes in these lines my griefs, being matter so impertinent to your affairs. But having no other refuge than to my sovereign (my God in the earth) whom only I have served with devotion in this mortal world, I have addressed these lines to you; being more than forced, upon the just regard of my feeble state, and constrained through anguish of mind, perceiving you are not pleased to resolve to bestow on me in any sort recompense or relief in respect of those portions of my 'livings' which I have necessarily sold for the defraying of the charges belonging to this place, because I had not competent yearly 'living' of my own as other your ministers enjoyed. 'Nayther' do I possess any benefit by lease from you, or ward or lease of College, 'nyther' from the clergy or the office in the Chancery which you made me a lease of before my departure. As for the things you have given me, they are sold. I beseech you to conceive the truth in my causes, and license me to return.—Paris, 20 January, 1582.
Holograph (in Cobham's best hand). Add. Endd. 2 pp. [France. IX. 13.]
Jan. 20/30. 51. La Motte to the Corporation of Middelburg.
Desiring always to continue as I have begun, and to let you understand what seems to me profitable for your preservation and security, as you may have seen by the letter which I have sent to the Lord Admiral, and which as I understand, he has communicated to you, I could not so 'leave,' but write to advertise you that by an express messenger who has been sent to me in haste from Paris to this town, well and truly informed [sic] of the instruction and commission which M. de Bellièvre has to deal with you from the most Christian king, doth tend [sic] to no other effect than to entertain you with fair words covered with some honest proffers, for and by such means [sic] to bring your liberties and privileges to doubtfulness and so to nothing; seeking to bring you, your wives and children into perpetual slavery and bondage. For the better 'compossing' of which the Frenchman thinks with himself that there is no better means than to hold you long in suspense or doubt, and with all his subtle politic, and crafty practices seek to 'let' the reconciliation and unity which you, as wise and foreseeing people, seek to make with your king and natural lord; kindling the fire of his mischief with a continual mistrustfulness, seeking to bring you all into poverty and perpetual misery, holding himself assured, and 'standing to' good reason, that if 'a' can but win so much of you as to bring you to give credit to his wicked counsel, by which he shall have means to seek an unmerciful and unspeakable revenge as worse cannot be conjectured; yea, such a revenge as Turks have never thought to do upon their slaves, such tyranny will he exercise upon you. Such is their saying through all France; so likewise says the Duke d'Alençon publicly to the hearing of all the world, that he will revenge the French blood which has been shed in Antwerp for the preservation of the poor innocent people, the murder and sack of whom would have been greatly lamented by all the world, if their wicked 'pretence' had taken place; which they are yet in hope to bring to pass as soon as the duke is able to levy new forces, for which he nas already given orders.
I pray you therefore all together to be careful and well-advised upon these weighty matters, without fearing the threats and subtle policies of the French, 'encouraging you by all means upon this my good warning,' as coming from him who, God knows, seeks nothing more than your only profit and welfare, as well in particular as in general; praying you to call to remembrance how insolent the Frenchmen were in Italy, and the vile acts which they committed; and how likewise, under colour of defending the Germans from the Emperor, they have made themselves masters of the towns of Metz, Toul, and Verdun, which they have brought under their yoke and slavery. Consider well the fair promises and assurances, public and secret oaths, and 'bonnes' [qy. paroles] which the Frenchman has made to you, for the maintaining of you in your privileges. Yet notwithstanding, under colour of this, he has thought to bring you suddenly under his most vile and fearful slavery, to be served of you as of slaves, and by those means to dispose of your goods, estates, and offices according to his discretion; purposing likewise to bring your wives and daughters to fulfil their filthy lusts, with such a shedding of the poor innocent blood as the like has not been heard nor spoken of before. Do but call to mind the murders, rapes and insolences which they have committed of late in Dunkirk, Dixmude and other places where they had received all honour and courtesy; which example may serve you for an assurance that they will do the like and a thousand times more in every place where they may get the upper hand. Follow the instructions of the Prince of Orange's letters, who says that 'and if' the Duke of Alencon 'will be' lord absolute over all these countries, it is requisite and necessary for him to drive away all the 'natural' and born within the country, out of it, chiefly such as have lands and great livings, and to build up again all the citadels and castles. If you should bring + yourselves in this danger, which I hope well you will not, considering the bondage you would come to, to the utter undoing of yourselves and country, at least have pity upon your children and such as may succeed of them, as also upon your nobles, and think upon the fair reputation which you have hitherto got through your wisdom, discretion, and might, and the praise which is written of you throughout the world of the worthy revenge you have executed upon the Frenchmen who sought to have murdered you. And in any case look well to yourselves, that through simplicity, carelessness, or fair promises you do not lose the honour of so fair and brave a victory gotten by you against your subtle and sworn enemy, who study by all means to be revenged of their shameful loss. Which revenge if they should once come to it, as I hope they will not, assure yourselves that they will deal so cruelly with you as the like I think was never committed by any tyrants, being moved thereto by the loss and shame which they have received; which I hope you well consider with yourselves.
I assure you that in this writing to you, I do but show as duty and country binds me, purely and simply to advise you of what may happen; praying you to take it in good part, as coming from a gentleman who desires nothing more in this world, 'yea, and with all my heart,' than to see you in peace, tranquillity and quietness, under the government of your natural prince, to whom we are bound by the laws of God and man, for whom I would employ myself and all I have in all true and upright dealing. (Signed) Valentine de Pardieu, Sieur de la Motte. 'To the wise and discreet lords and burgomasters of the town of Middelborowe in Zealand.'
Contemporary translation. In the hand of (?) Edward Burnham. Endd. 3 pp. [Holl. and Fl. XVIII. 33.]
Jan. 20. 52. Antonio da Veigua to Walsingham.
I reached London from Paris yesterday evening, from the king my master, with letters for her Majesty, which I must needs present to her. I should have done it at once, but the fact that I was indisposed and ill at ease at my arrival was the cause of my not coming at once. Pray let me know when you think I may go (? vajha) to do my duty and present myself to her, as well as speak with you on the part of my king, from whom I have a letter for you. No more, except that I should like an answer by this my servant.—London, 20 January [qy. O.S.], 1583.
Hol. Add. Endd. ½ p. [Portugal II. 2.]
Jan. 20. 53. Cobham to Walsingham.
Since the king and the young queen's return to this town last week, the Duke of Lorraine has likewise arrived, the 16th inst. having been met and accompanied to this city by those of the House of Guise and their adherents, and entertained by the king and the queens in such familiar and gracious manner as accustomed. There are many conjectures made upon his coming to the Court: for some have supposed that the matter of the marriage between the Scottish king and the Princess of Lorraine is to be dealt with, and others think that the king would have the duke to marry Madame de Montpensier the Duke of Guise's sister. The Queen Mother gives out that she would have the Marquis de Ponts, the Duke of Lorraine's eldest son, to marry the Princess of Navarre, and the Duke of Savoy to match with the Princess of Lorraine. The courtiers here said that the king will persuade the Duke of Lorraine to consent that the Duke of Épernon may marry his second daughter. There are who have the opinion that the Duke of Lorraine is induced to negotiate with their Majesties on behalf of the King of Spain and the Prince of Parma, to compass some accord as well for the Low Countries as for other matters in controversy. They say the duke has been intreated to this by the Pope, the Emperor and the Spanish king. But none of these are signified to me by any assured knowledge.
The Duke of Guise's grandmother is deceased, wherefore he 'pretends' to repair to Janville.
Don Antonio remains in the Abate di Guadagni's lodgings near the Queen Mother's house, in a retired secret manner; but his abode is publicly known, 'having' seen and spoken with the king in the Louvre and in other places without the town, conferring often with the Queen Mother and the Duke of Joyeuse. The ladies wish among themselves that the Queen Mother will procure a marriage between Don Antonio and Madame de 'Chastellero,' the bastard of France.
There are some levyings of soldiers 'pretended,' and preparations spoken of for the seas, but no great overture made. 1 hear certain Portuguese are come to Don Antonio, to the number of forty or more, fled from Lisbon and other ports of Portugal; among whom there are gentlemen. They report that King Philip was somewhat 'indisposed of his health,' but recovered and in better state.
The king, as they inform me, 'pretends' one of these days to go to the Palais to cause the Court of Parlement to establish the Edict that all procurers shall pay for every new-commenced process five francs, which is ten shillings sterling. The profit of this he intends should be employed for the accomplishment of the payment of all the wages due from the Crown of France to the Swiss and the reiters.
The Spanish king has sent throughout his realms to all the princes, dukes, and other estates, to have them acknowledge his youngest and only son now left alive to be their prince, unto whom they 'are for' to assure their loyalty with oaths. Likewise the opinion continued in Spain that if King Philip might not marry the 'Reine Blanche,' Dowager of France, he 'pretended' to match with the daughter of the Duke of Braganza.
The general bruit was that the two daughters of the Spanish king would be sent by way of Genoa next spring to Germany, there to be married, the one to the Emperor and the other to the Duke Ernestus.
They advertise moreover how there were in preparing many vessels which 'are said should be employed' in the enterprise of the Terceras, and some to be sent to 'the Madera' and the Castle of Mina, in which navy were appointed go be embarked 2,500 Italians already arrived from Naples and Sicily, and 'more' 2,000 Spaniards and Portuguese; the whole charge by sea is committed to the Marquis Santa Cruz. They look to receive 1,000 more soldiers from Naples, and great number of mariners from Italy.
They write from Madrid that Duke Ernestus after his marriage is to be sent into Flanders, with hope that since he is one of the House of Austria, and married to the daughter of the Spanish king, he would be the better accepted of the Flemings and so induce them to leave Monsieur and the French.
I enclose an ordinance of the Pope's to be observed by the Italians resident in those countries where the Religion is publicly or privately exercised.—Paris, 20 January, 1582.
Add. Endd.pp. [France. IX. 14.]
Jan. 20. 54. Cobham to Walsingham.
Before I had received your last packet by Windebank, the advertisements of the 'alteration' in Flanders had come to this Court, and as it may be conjectured, the king had some knowledge of it; for before his return from Saint Germain, now eight days ago, in private conference with his most confident servants, he wished that his brother had never entered into their 'actions' of Flanders. Moreover, a personage of quality about him added then in speech, that if Monsieur should go into England, as the opinion then was in the Court, all his enterprises would 'quail.' So it may be conjectured there was some 'platform' a design before thought on.
Sundry couriers are come to this Court from the governors of the frontier towns in Picardy, bringing advertisements of the reports brought to them touching the accident happened in Flanders, some in one sort, some in another. And this day M. Balagny has written to their Majesties that the Prince of Parma addresses all his force to charge Monsieur's camp; whereon the Duke of Épernon has requested their Majesties that he may, with the infantry that is under his government and seven or eight companies of horse, repair towards the frontiers to 'engage' Monsieur out of the enemies' hands. This matter remains yet in deliberation till further intelligence come from Monsieur or Marshal Biron.
In the mean time they are encouraged in this Court with the news that her Majesty has sent a dozen of her ships with armed men, to repair to the coast of Flanders in favour of his Highness. Their Majesties have also caused the Spanish agent to be dealt with underhand, and he has dispatched couriers to the Prince of Parma.
The Pope's legate and the Spanish agent hold themselves well apart 'with' these alterations.
The Duke of Guise some four or five days past 'delivered forth,' at the first 'overture' of the knowledge of these late alterations in Flanders, how he had offered their Majesties to mount on horseback with his friends, adherents and servants for the service of Monsieur.
The Flemings in this city are much abashed because the courtiers, and the rudest sort show themselves greatly animated against that nation; and also because they hear that the governors of the post-towns on the sea-coast have arrested the Flemish merchants' goods and ships.
The French of the Religion are troubled here with doubting the malice of this action will stretch to some worse purpose, which God defend.
The courtiers have left off their dancing on the accustomed days, and their trimming of themselves in their apparel, because they see the king and Queen Mother are in grief, having care for the preservation of Monsieur and his army.
Their Majesties had appointed sundry marriages to have been celebrated this Shrovetide, as, the Count of Brienne with Épernon's youngest sister, 'la' Mouy's daughter with Duke Joyeuse's fourth brother, the Count of Tournon with Madame la Rochefoucault. But now it is thought these alterations happened to Monsieur will give cause to defer these pleasanter matters till Easter.
The Chevalier de Chastre has charge to command those ships, and eight companies of soldiers, which are to be transported to the Terceras, as they give out.
I send herewith a copy of the advertisements of what Antonio Possevino the Jesuit negotiated with the King of Poland and the Muscovites. Being copied in haste, I have not leisure to 'overread' it myself, as I would have done.
There go likewise herewith enclosed the articles at large of the king's renewed league with the Swiss.—Paris, 20 January, 1582.
Add. Endd. 2 pp. [France. IX. 15.]