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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This volume of the Calendar of Foreign State Papers must begin with a word of deep regret for the loss which history and literature have sustained by the death of Mr. A. J. Butler, who has edited the Calendar for the years 1577—1582. At the time of his death, he had passed for press the sheets which bring the Calendar down to June 30, 1583, and it has been thought best to close the volume at this date, only adding, as Addenda, such unnoticed documents, belonging to the period already covered, as have gradually accumulated, and also the papers relating to Germany (Empire), Poland and Switzerland, and the Newsletters and Treaty Papers (up to the end of June, 1583) which, by an oversight, have been omitted hitherto.
The Low Countries.
At the close of the year 1582, the situation in the Low Countries may be summed up as follows.
The Prince of Parma had recovered all Flanders south of the Lys and the Scheldt, with the exception of Alost and Dendermonde. Four great cities, Bruges, Ghent, Brussels, and Mechlin, stood, as it were, between him and Antwerp, the goal on which his eyes were fixed; and to gain these four cities all his efforts were directed.
Eyndhoven had been captured by the States, and would, they hoped, enable them to hold in check the depredations of the garrisons of Breda and Bois-le-Duc, but, with strong places of the enemy on every side, its tenure was very precarious. Certain companies of Scots, Lalaing's French regiment and the stout Captain Roger Williams, with three troops of English horse, were appointed to defend the town.
Parma's main forces had withdrawn for refreshment towards Tournay, and the States' party were encouraged by reports of their sufferings from sickness and famine, their mutinous disposition and their hurried retreat into towns and garrisons upon the approach of the French army. But the better informed inferred that this retreat was merely in order to their rest and security until the time came to take the field. The Malcontents, or Spanish party in the Netherlands, kept quiet for the time being, but they also, it was supposed, were preparing for action in the spring.
The French army, which had been lying round Dendermonde and in the Pays de Waes, was withdrawn in the early days of the new year to the neighbourhood of Antwerp, where Norreys and his English troops were also stationed.
The States still struggled to maintain their allegiance to the Duke of Anjou. They had turned to him in their hour of need and were determined to make the best of him, but he did not render their task easy. A month later, he had made it impossible. William of Orange had said, as he threw the ducal mantle of Brabant round his shoulders, that he must fasten it so firmly that none could tear it from him, little dreaming that within one short year, the headstrong prince would himself fling it away. But he hated the restraints placed upon him, grasped at unbridled authority, and brought about the ruin of his cause.
At the beginning of 1583, he was keeping his court at Bruges. It was “great, and pestered with a crowd of gentlemen,” but the French were very unpopular. They were also highly discontented. The soldiers had suffered much from cold and privation, had died in great numbers, and were said to have become “miserable slaves without heart or courage.” Many of the nobility, headed by the Duke of Montpensier, went back to France, with no intention of returning.
Rambouillet had been sent to enquire into the state of affairs, apparently in order to discover whether, in the event of the Duke failing, the country would submit to the King of France himself. It was an assurance which he was not very likely, at that time, to receive, but the King seems to have hoped for it, and some even went so far as to believe (very mistakenly) that he had plotted to draw matters to such a point that the people might be driven to it, as the only alternative to falling into the hands of Spain (p. 5).
Anjou attempted to strengthen himself by bringing mercenary Swiss troops into Brabant. Colonel Fremyn, who was an astute observer, approved the move, holding them to be excellent soldiers, well disciplined and valiant; but others who saw them on the march found fault with their equipment, and doubted whether they would fulfil expectations (p. 14).
At Dunkirk, the burghers and the French troops in the town were at open strife. Monsieur sent sundry French gentlemen to smooth matters over and to bring away their countrymen to the camp in Brabant. But the French troops refused to depart, and were so far masters of the town that the burghers did not dare to try to expel them. The matter, however, caused “a marvellous great disliking of the French soldier.”
On Jan. 7–17, the friction between French and Netherlanders came to a head. Early in the morning some French companies came into Bruges, requesting permission to pass through the town on their way to the camp. This being granted, they marched into the great market-place, took their station there, and declared that they had come to lie in garrison by Monsieur's command. On this signal, the French troops already in the town took possession of the “strong places” there and called upon all those of the Catholic religion to rally to their side. But there was no response. On the contrary, the burghers hastily armed themselves, the magistrates seized the leaders of the party, and the intruding companies, alarmed for their safety, left the town as suddenly as they had entered it. The magistrates commanded the garrison to follow their example, “and so in quiet order they were put out after the rest.”
The Colonel who had led the French, being examined, declared that he had orders from Monsieur to bring in the troops and to set up the Catholic religion, and that “this present day the like was being done in Antwerp and in all other towns where Frenchmen were.”
That same evening it was known that Dixmude and Dunkirk were in possession of the French, but that Ostend, Nieuport and Furnes were “sure in the States' hands.” Most important of all, Antwerp was safe. The “French fury” there has been many times described. A detailed official account will be found on p. 24. The good burghers declared with pride that the townspeople, after their victory, had hurt no man, but had raised up and spared the lives of many who lay among the dead. The Duke of Anjou made a feeble attempt to put the blame upon Antwerp itself, an accusation which the burghers deemed it unnecessary to refute, seeing that on the self-same day he had attempted the same thing in so many other cities (p. 30).
The Prince of Parma at once seized the opportunity which this outrage gave him. He sent letters to the towns of Brabant and Flanders, renewing his offers to put an end to their distractions and restore them to their ancient splendour and happiness, and expressing his confident hope that the exposure of Monsieur's designs would show them the difference between French promises and his own, and incline them to accept his benevolent overtures. These advances had no immediate effect. Brussels for answer sent a blank paper (p. 79). But the party of the Malcontents was steadily growing, especially in Ghent and Bruges, and the “French fury” did much to strengthen it.
The grand coup had failed, and not all Anjou's plausible explanations could hide the fact that so far from desiring, as he declared, to “purge the State of those who were growing fat on the blood of the people by an illicit and usurped authority” (p. 35), his intention was to obtain an illicit and usurped authority for himself. The French, as Stokes (Walsingham's correspondent at Bruges) informed his patron, had lost their credit for ever.
Anjou withdrew to Duffel Castle, where he found himself so short of provisions that he was forced to apply to Antwerp for them. The burghers sent not only supplies but commissioners. To this they were persuaded by the Prince of Orange, whose hopes for the future depended on the presence of the French prince and the assistance of the French forces. Without them, he saw no prospect of being able to keep the Spaniard at bay, and he could not bring himself to acknowledge that his scheme was a failure. On the very night of the attack upon Antwerp, he urged the Town Council to be reconciled to the Duke, maintaining that he had been misled by evil counsel, and warning them of the peril of falling again into the hands of Spain. But his appeal only angered the people, and on the return of their deputies from the Duke, with his demand for absolute mastership, some even went so far as to affirm that the Prince had been privy to the design for seizing the town.
This was absurd, but the burghers of Antwerp were angry and embittered, and the danger from Monsieur loomed for the moment much more largely than the far greater danger from Spain. They declared their resolve to treat no further with the Duke unless he restored to them all their towns, their preachers declaimed against the “enemies of God's church,” and the soldiers roundly asserted that they would never serve a murderer (p. 67).
Meanwhile, the States, indulging in no dreams of continuing the French régime, put Colonel Norreys in command of their forces, and gave him definite orders to repossess Dendermonde, and to stop the Duke's army from passing into the land of Waes (p. 36). To this end the dykes were cut and a good part of the country round Dendermonde was drowned. Far from resenting this injury to their property, the country people were so incensed against Anjou that when his forces attempted to pass into the country near Mechlin, they cut more dykes, and the water pouring down drowned eight hundred of the French (p. 53). Fremyn likened them to a horse escaped from the halter, “which runs till it breaks its neck.” They were, he said, so excited that they saw no further than the end of their own noses, and unless held in check by the wise and by the pity of God would assuredly be ruined.
In Antwerp, as might be expected, a distinct reaction towards Spain was manifesting itself. Parma's letters drew an affecting picture of their rightful sovereign stretching out his arms with offers of deliverance from all their woes, and fair promises of freedom for their privileges and their religion. The Spanish faction in the town worked to the same end, and, of the people in general, some desired reconciliation with Spain, some a popular republic, “fewest” an agreement with Anjou (p. 69).
In vain the magistrates remonstrated, and the Prince of Orange vowed that he would rather agree with the Turk than with King Philip. The people used “high words and threatening speeches” against all advocates of Monsieur's rule, and an emissary from the French King, whose son had been killed in the late “fury,” landing at Antwerp, was so roughly set upon, with mocking cries of Vive la messe! Ville gagnee! Tue, tue (the words used by the French at their attack) that he barely escaped with his life (p. 80).
Norreys' appointment to the command of the States' forces caused great indignation amongst the French. Marshal Biron swore that he would break his head, and Anjou himself declared that he had no greater enemy in the country. The English commander took this part of the matter very coolly. His only anxiety was whether the Queen would approve of his taking such a decided part against the French. Yet, when his Highness had tried to make himself absolute master of ten or twelve towns, and had taken so little thought for the English that he had not even warned them of his proposed attempt, with the result that many of them were slain, he could not think it would have been for her service to “second any such enterprises” (p. 88).
His misgivings were soon verified. Her Majesty was very angry—angry with the States, with the Prince of Orange (who certainly did not deserve it) and with Norreys. Probably, if the truth had been told, she was more angry with Anjou than with any of them, but this she did not choose to acknowledge. To Norreys she sent orders to return to England, or at any rate to give up his charge. Upon receiving them he took the rather daring resolution to postpone his resignation until he heard again from England, believing that the Queen had acted on imperfect information, and feeling that his retirement at this juncture might be very disastrous. He feared that his English troops would be dispersed and cut to pieces by the French, and that thus he, who “for near five years had led her Majesty's subjects to the wars with as much honour as any other troops,” would now bring them to a miserable butchery (p. 111). The Queen, apparently, did not resent his conduct. Audley Danett wrote strongly in his defence, further details reached England, and we hear nothing more of his recall. Meanwhile, negotiations still continued between Anjou and the States. Finding that they were resolved upon the restoration of their towns, he offered to give them up if he might “have his seat” at Brussels. To this, in the first instance, the States were inclined to agree, but the commons still objected to any compromise, declaring that they would rather endure a hundred blows from the King of Spain, their real master, than be tyrannized over by France (p. 97), and the people of Brussels positively refused to receive the Duke. The French King tried to mediate, excusing his brother on the score of youth and bad counsellors, and Elizabeth, whatever might be her private views, also endeavoured to defend him, “dealing with him” so kindly that he told the Queen Mother “he was more beholden to the Queen than to her, being his mother, for she blamed him and her Majesty had excused him ” (p. 189).
Possibly Elizabeth's attitude made Anjou more hopeful of getting his own way, for, as the discussion went on, he raised his terms. He would, he said, give up Dendermonde and Vilvorde, but would keep Dixmude and Dunkirk. At this very time, however, he disarmed the burghers of Dendermonde, which was thought to be “an ill presage of an agreement” (p. 115).
The States, pressed by the English Queen and the Prince of Orange, agreed to leave the question of Dixmude and Dunkirk to be settled afterwards, but the treaty still lagged, and the deputies returned from Monsieur on February 17 without concluding anything. By this time, the situation had somewhat changed. The States now hesitated to admit the Duke into Brussels, for he demanded so large a garrison of his Swiss mercenaries that, together with his French retinue, they would have been able to command the town (p. 136). On the other hand, the people of Brussels expressed their willingness to trust themselves to him. The reason for their change of front was natural enough. They were in great poverty, burdened with taxes, with no court to quicken their industries or pour money into their tills, and they hoped that the presence of the Duke and his followers would bring them more prosperous days.
On the whole, it seemed the best plan. The States called to mind that Brussels had hitherto been a bulwark protecting Antwerp, and that the French occupation was the most likely means of saving the town from the Spaniards. By allowing the Duke to have his seat there, they only ran the risk of losing a town which they esteemed as all but lost already, and thereby would recover those other towns which he now kept out of their hands (p. 148).
In one of his entertaining letters, Roger Williams gave his view of the situation. If Monsieur entered Brussels “at that composition” he was not very wise; if they took him not, they were the more foolish; but after all the discourtesies that had passed, there could never be a good true peace between them again, do what they would. Since France was France she had never received so great a disgrace, and Monsieur, being the second man in France, would certainly seek revenge, so that surely they would never agree one year. Williams did not believe that at the moment Monsieur was intriguing with the Spaniards, but feared that his mother's counsel might soon persuade him to it. In the interim, he would dally with the States and presently some great force would come to him, probably under the command of the Duke of Guise (p. 118). In this belief, Roger Williams was mistaken. The King of France had no intention of forcing his brother upon the Netherlands by arms, and though still negotiating on his behalf, had already given orders to his ambassador Bellièvre to advise him, in case of failure, to go towards the frontier (p. 121).
Meanwhile disturbances and dissensions increased in the chief towns, and the Malcontents, skilfully availing themselves of these divisions, strengthened day by day. Ghent and Bruges vehemently inveighed against the cruelties of the French. On February 17 Stokes reported that they had burnt a fair village near Dixmude and killed many poor peasants, and that such dealings set the commons more and more against them (p. 131). The States General sent to inform the magistrates at Bruges that the Duke might shortly pass their town, and to warn them that if they did not allow him to do so quietly, he would do it “with fire and bloody murder.” They angrily replied that if they could hinder it, he should not pass at all, and those of Ghent also resolved to bar his passage “to the last man” (p. 152).
The burghers of Antwerp, still irritated by the endeavours of the Prince of Orange to procure a reconciliation with Monsieur, were coquetting with the idea of a republic, the leaders of the republican party having impressed upon them the fact that when Rome shook off the yoke of her kings, she had not a quarter of the forces or resources of Antwerp; not considering, as Fremyn observed, that the people of Antwerp were divided amongst themselves, neighboured by powerful princes, and, last but not least, were not Romans (p. 149). Between the country on one hand and the Prince of Orange on the other, the States found themselves in a very difficult position.
At this moment they needed all the force they could get together to succour Eyndhoven, which, so lately regained, had been again besieged, this time by Count Charles Mansfeldt.
There was continual talk of sending to its relief, but delay followed delay, partly from the French difficulty, partly from the States' lack of money. Some of the leaders of the anti-French party in Antwerp went to the Prince of Orange and urged that Eyndhoven should be aided by the States' forces alone (p. 149). But William did not think this a safe course. One single defeat, he said, would not only cause them to lose that place but endanger their other towns also; in fact unless they came to terms with the French, he saw no chance of anything but confusion, and threatened to withdraw altogether from public life.
It was one thing, however, to say that the allied forces must unite, and another thing to make them do so. English, Scots, Walloons and Flemings with one accord declared, firstly that they would march nowhere without pay, and secondly that they would not march with the French at all, who, they were convinced, would be “for ever practising to cut their throats,” for stopping the passage into the land of Waes (p. 153).
At the beginning of March there were reports that Eyndhoven, being short of provisions and receiving no answer to appeals for help, was parleying with the enemy (p. 175). The rumour was premature, but a fortnight later, Parma reinforced Mansfeldt's besieging troops, and a burgher, escaping from the town, brought news that it had only twenty days' provisions remaining. Three weeks, however, were better than nothing, and by this time an arrangement had been come to that the combined forces should march to its aid. 6,000 French, 3,000 English foot and 38 cornets of horse; 1,500 men to be brought by Count Hohenlohe and another 1,500 taken out of the States garrisons—13,000 men in all; here was a brave army to go against the besiegers, who were said not to exceed 10,000. But there were rumours of other troops, stationed in outlying quarters, ready to come to the support of their comrades, so that it was feared that even if relieved, Eyndhoven would “cost many a broken head.”
This fear, at any rate, proved groundless. The brave army was too busy quarrelling, one part with another, and clamouring for pay, to march at all. As soon as an agreement had been come to with Monsieur, the question had been raised whether Biron or Norreys was to command the combined forces. The Duke insisted on Biron, and the States agreed, “making Mr. Norreys believe that their purpose was to make choice of him” and therefore (!) they had given him the place of second in command. Danett, who sent this news to Walsingham, remarked that however simple the States might appear to be, they “want no cunning to serve their turn on all sides” (p. 197).
Des Pruneaux, who had been sent by Anjou to the States General, did his best to gild the pill. With many fine words he assured Norreys of the Duke's good favour and of Biron's pleasure at being accompanied by so valiant and experienced a captain; begging that all friction in the past might be forgotten, and that henceforth “they might all proceed together friendly in the service of the country.” Danett (who was Norreys' secretary) thought he was really sincere in what he said, and hoped that things might yet go well (p. 205). Norreys seems to have accepted the situation with good-humour, and busied himself in trying to persuade his “restive” soldiers to come out of the land of Waes, which they were ill-inclined to do until they had received some pay (p. 209).
In the last week of March, Biron came to Antwerp to arrange matters. The States, too, were very busy about it, so busy that they had no time to give audience, even to an envoy from England, until the men were despatched (pp. 209, 224). The English had accepted one month's pay of the many months of arrears owing to them, and were ready to march. Biron being in command, it was believed that all the French would go, to protect their much valued general. But still they did not move, and still the fear grew that either Eyndhoven would surrender or that Parma would be there before them (pp. 237, 239).
On the 5th of April, another messenger arrived from the beleaguered town to announce that, being without food, they had begun to treat with the enemy, and that if not succoured before the 12th, must deliver up the place. Four days' march and a week's time. The thing might yet be done. Marshal Biron had the gout, yet valiantly resolved to go. But on the 11th the States' army was still “assembling at Antwerp,” and, as Fremyn wrote to Walsingham, it was a certain case of “death first and the doctor afterwards” (p. 253).
On Saturday, April 13, the garrison and inhabitants of Eyndhoven marched out with all the honours of war, and the Spaniards took possession of the town.
To return to the Duke of Anjou. A fresh deputation had been sent to him in the first week of March, and after much discussion and deliberation, it was finally decided that he should go to Dunkirk. Flanders protested against this, demanding entire possession of all their towns, but the States sent agents to the “Four Members,” urging them not to make any further difficulties, and'their remonstrances prevailed. At least, so Danett reported from Antwerp on the 10th of March; but on the same day Stokes, at Bruges, declared that although the Prince and Brabant had made some such settlement, the chief Members (having no deputies among the States) refused to agree to the treaty, and were greatly offended that such a thing should be done without their consent (pp. 181, 182). With or without this consent, however, the matter was arranged. It only remained for Monsieur to leave Dendermonde, take up his abode at Dunkirk and surrender his towns.
March 14 or 15 was fixed for his departure, but even now various causes of delay intervened. Ghent, jealous of his good faith, refused to pay their quota for the satisfying of his soldiers until he had actually delivered up Dendermonde, while his men declined to stir until they were paid. The Duke demanded that the money promised by the States should be sent to Dendermonde; the States refused the demand. After some discussion the Duke agreed to take only what was actually needed for his Swiss troops, and on the 17th sent back the signed treaty to the States (p. 196). Active preparations were now put in hand for his removal. Money was sent to Vilvorde for payment of the troops there (it was nearly intercepted by the Malcontents on the way), and on March 22 the garrison drew out and the town was delivered into the States' hands (p. 138 (fn. 1) ). Hostages were chosen to send to the Duke on his leaving Dendermonde, the French prisoners at Antwerp all paid their ransoms and were ready to depart, the Duke's furniture and papers were packed up and workmen were sent forward to build bridges over the rivers to ease his Highness's journey. On the evening of March 25 the articles of agreement were published to the sound of the trumpet at the Town House of Antwerp. By and by would come the treaty at Dunkirk. Of that, Fremyn wrote, “one must leave the issue to God.”
Monsieur's route was carefully planned, to keep him as much as possible out of danger from the Malcontents. The only walled town to be approached was Ghent, and there the magistrates had issued a proclamation that no person was even to “use evil speeches” towards him or his train. From Ghent he was to proceed to Eccloo, and thence (crossing “the rivers” between Damme and Sluys) to go to Blanckenburg and travel along the sea-coast to his destination. But the peasants of the parts between Sluys and Ostend, hearing that the hated French were to come through their country, broke down all their bridges and declared that Monsieur should not pass that way. The route was therefore altered and it was decided that he should go from Eccloo to Bruges and so by Oudenbourg and Nieuport to Dunkirk (pp. 210, 211). Even so, there were risks to be run. “God send him safe,” Stokes wrote to Walsingham, “for he will have a troublesome passing” (p. 211). At this point, the Duke fell ill. He was not shamming; on the contrary he wished to conceal the fact and to start, sending orders to two French surgeons to meet him at Dunkirk. Before he left Dendermonde, John Somers arrived there, sent by the Queen to assure Monsieur of her grief at the misery which he had suffered and to mediate (on her behalf) between his Highness and the States, if any difficulties yet remained. In reply, the Duke expressed his hearty thanks to her Majesty for her great favours shown to him in his affliction, “like a mother that had put new life into a dead body” (as he somewhat curiously expressed it), and proceeded to explain the situation from his own point of view, ending by asking Somers to “ deal ” with the English forces that he might have a free passage through the Pays de Waes. Somers offered good advice, urging him to avoid danger in the future by taking to heart the experience of the past, and especially to deal frankly with the Queen. He also defended the conduct of the English soldiers under Norreys, of whom he knew that his Highness had a very “hard conceit” (p. 221). After leaving the Duke he wrote to Norreys and Colonel Morgan at the camp with such good effect that they sent a captain with their humble services, made a bridge which the Duke had asked for, and removed the English three leagues from his route.
The next day, Somers again had audience, and a discussion on ways and means ensued. The Duke stated that what the States had promised him in men and money, together with his own means, would, he thought, be “sufficient to make a good war upon the enemy,” always supposing that they ratified and performed their engagements.
But he complained that hitherto they had by no means done so, and for lack of this, he had been iorced to spend his own and his friends' money, and was still in great debt to his men, many hundreds of whom had died of hunger. Somers thought well to hint to him her Majesty's suggestion that it might be better to relinquish the enterprise altogether. To this he answered that, seeing that the people had chosen him to be their master, he meant to learn clearly at the next treaty whether they wished for him or no; then he should do what was thought best for his honour and safety, would acquaint her Majesty with it and ask her advice. He begged Somers to urge the Prince of Orange and the States to make the articles of the fresh treaty as easy as possible, “having respect to his quality and remembering that he had been received and sworn as their master, and for such by their oaths they acknowledged him.” Moreover, he desired that they would not (as they had so often done before) send memorials only, but ample authority to their deputies to treat and conclude; otherwise the whole summer might pass away unprofitably (p. 220 et seq.).
One point which the Queen had wished to be put before him, Somers did not venture to mention. “For the removing of evil counsellors,” he reported, he had left that for another time, but hoped to give his Highness some taste of it when they met again at Dunkirk.
The next day, Thursday, March 28, the Duke began his journey, intending to travel straight through to Dunkirk, in time to keep his Easter there. But, as Stokes had feared, he had a “troublesome passing"; not, however, from the ill-will of the natives, but from the ill-conduct of his own men. As they marched past Bruges, on Good Friday afternoon, his followers took all the horses and kine that they met, and carried them away. It was believed to be done against the Duke's orders, but it caused great indignation amongst the people. Their anger waxed hotter when, a little later, the Frenchmen, still in search of spoil, slew some of the peasants, and the result was an attack upon the offenders in the night, when some twenty-five or thirty were killed. “So, in this great disorder the French soldiers passed, greatly to the discontent of the commons” (p. 228).
Vilvorde and Dendermonde had been restored to the States, but Dixmude and Bergues St. Wynock still remained in French hands. Nor had the Duke yet sent back the hostages for his safe arrival, indeed, nothing was heard of him at all, except a report that he disliked Dunkirk and that the air did not suit him (p. 248). As regards this latter point, he was ill, as has been seen, before he left Dendermonde. He took a course of physic and his French guards took a course of leisure, absolutely refusing to return to the army in Brabant until they were paid. And Monsieur had no money wherewith to pay them. So many of them quietly made their way back to France, and the commons of those parts liked this very well, desiring much more their absence than their presence.
On April 5 the French left Dixmude, to the great joy of its inhabitants. On their march to Dunkirk they spoiled and took all that came in their way, treating the peasants so cruelly that these could not “abide the name of a Frenchman.” Bergues now alone remained, and Monsieur sent the garrison orders to surrender it and depart. Their answer was, not until the States had payed what was owing to them (p. 266).
Meanwhile, Somers had travelled to Antwerp, to fulfil the second part of his mission. He gave the Prince her Majesty's messages, and Orange expressed his gratitude, but put before Somers plainly the great cause which the French had given for distrust, to himself as well as to the country. As to the treaty, they desired to do nothing without the Queen's advice, and begged her to send some one to assist in the negotiations at Dunkirk. Then he spoke, long and earnestly, of the great importance, to her and all other Protestant princes, of preventing the King of Spain from “having his will” in the Low Countries. Now that Portugal was at his feet, the danger was becoming great, whatever treaties might be made, or mediation employed, by the Princes of Christendom. This was evidently in answer to a proposal from Elizabeth to mediate with King Philip, for when Somers afterwards spoke to Bellièvre on the same subject, the latter replied that “mediation to the King of Spain” was a matter which required further consideration (p. 224).
As to the treaty at Dunkirk, a fortnight went by, and yet there was no preparation for the meeting of the States General, the necessary prelude to the negotiation. One reason was perhaps the non-delivery of Bergues; another and a more formidable one, the opposition of some of their own members. Ghent absolutely refused to treat with the Duke at all, and the majority of the burghers in Bruges and Ypres were of the same mind.
Another week passed by. There was still little talk of Monsieur in Antwerp, and less preparation to send deputies to him. The people were as bitter as ever; the magistrates without the least inclination to receive the French unless obliged by necessity. This point of necessity was so persistently urged by the Prince of Orange that his popularity declined more and more, even in his own province of Holland, and there was grave cause to fear that the commons would take the control of affairs into their own hands, having already gained so much power that the magistrates did almost what the people pleased (p. 286).
Probably, in spite of the Prince's appeals, the States themselves were not anxious to come to terms. In France, also, opinion was veering round to the belief that accord was impossible. A friend of Palavicino's, writing from Paris, told him that even if the Low Countries received Monsieur again, he saw small chance that he would ever “get on” with them, seeing that he would still employ the instruments who had once brought him to ruin and would do so again. Moreover, he could not maintain himself without aid from his brother, “who thinks so little about it that it amounts to nothing.” Monsieur's return to France appeared to him the only probable issue (p. 268).
Yet another impediment in the way of negotiation was the difficulty in deciding where the States General should meet. The Prince of Orange desired Middelburg, the “Four Members” of Flanders wished for Bruges. In the end they met at Antwerp, where they drafted articles and despatched deputies to each province to obtain their sanction before sending commissioners to the Duke (p. 299). This involved considerable further delay, especially as these deputies had also orders to arrange for the levying of money to pay the troops.
In order to “entertain” the Duke in the meantime, President Meetkerke was sent to Dunkirk with provisional offers and demands, furnished also no doubt with good store of the “memorials,” which had already irritated the Duke so greatly. But his own demand that the commissioners should have full powers gave the States a handle for delay. When Gilpin complained of their tardiness, on the Queen's behalf, they wrote to her Majesty that it was impossible his Highness should take it in ill part, as in order to obtain the full powers which he desired, it was absolutely necessary to have the consent of the nobles, towns and members of every province. The Prince of Orange spoke with Gilpin and wrote to the Queen to the same effect (pp. 327–329).
As at this time there was some danger from the plague at Dunkirk, Meetkerke was instructed to offer Monsieur liberty to remove his Court to another town if he so desired, but the offer was declined.
After the loss of Eyndhoven, Marshal Biron had consoled himself by taking a castle or two, and his troops remained in the villages round about Bergen-op-Zoom. To all appearance, he and Norreys were on very good terms, but the English commander received almost daily warnings of treachery intended against him by the French, and before April was out, he had left the army. His account of what had happened will be found on p. 299. He had repaired to Biron's camp, joining his forces with the Scots in those parts, so as to be strong enough to resist any attempt against them by the French. But Biron had frustrated this design by dividing the English themselves, placing some among the French, while the rest were lodged apart, two Dutch miles nearer the enemy than any other troops.
Two or three days after their arrival, Norreys found that Biron had sent complaints against him to the States, without even hinting to him any cause for annoyance, upon which he withdrew to Antwerp and requested leave to return home. Danett thought that his very life was in danger, and did not believe that the English and French troops could possibly remain together, “the hatred and jealousy being so great on both sides that of late they have sundry times stood in arms, one expecting what the other may attempt,” and there being no lack of instruments to blow the coal and set all on fire (p. 352).
The Prince of Orange either did not know the true reason for Norrey's departure or preferred to ignore it, for he wrote to Walsingham, expressing great regret that Mr. Norreys had such important business in England as to compel him to travel hither, and begging that he might be sent back again as soon as possible (p. 374).
Meanwhile, Biron proceeded to besiege the strong castle of Wauw or Wouw, near Bergen-op-Zoom, which surrendered at the end of one day's battering. After this, he lay about Bergen (or Barrowe, as Gilpin calls it), his forces “discontented and scant” for want of pay. He went to Antwerp to see what could be done, but returned “furnished with more words than money.” While he was in Antwerp, and at dinner with the Prince of Orange, there was an alarm in the town that the French had seized the castle, and “very hard and unseemly speeches” were used by the baser sort against both Biron and Orange, whereupon the French General departed in indignation. The burghers, Danett wrote, were fortifying their walls and strong places and keeping guard at their gates, yet scarcely saw that their ruin was “more likely to spring out of their own bowels within, for want of good order to bridle the people” (p. 351).
In Brussels, the Malcontents refused to keep watch and ward against the enemy, and demanded the establishment of the Religions-vrede, which so much alarmed the States that they sent five or six hundred burghers from Antwerp to be in garrison there and to strengthen their own party.
Parma's forces had been lying near Turnhout and Namur, keeping the States in continual anxiety by reports of intended attacks on this place or that. In the middle of May they gained Diest by composition, thus threatening more nearly both Mechlin and Brussels (p. 353). On June 9, news came to Gilpin at Middelburg that, whilst making a show towards Maestricht, they had suddenly turned about and fallen upon the States' camp; had overthrown it, slain most of the English, and driven the rest of the forces back towards Steenbergen and Bergen-op-Zoom. The report proved to have been exaggerated, but it was confirmed that many English had been killed (pp. 391, 403).
It was expected that Parma's next objective would be Cambrai, the headquarters of the French party in Artois, where, and in Hainault, the Malcontents were steadily gaining ground. The garrison of Cambrai had made forts on the “passages” all round about it, to ensure free access to their town. These forts were now seized by the Malcontents, so that nothing could pass in or out, but it was not yet short of supplies, as the Queen Mother had sent into it large quantities both of provisions and men (pp. 392, 403, 404).
By this time it was reported on all hands that the King of France had definitely refused to send help to his brother, and that the Duke was preparing for his return to France. The people of Flanders were, however, showing themselves more complaisant, and at a meeting of the “Four Members” at Ghent, it was agreed to receive him again upon certain conditions, one being that the King of Navarre should be appointed his lieutenant. This the meeting “liked very well.” Whether Navarre would be equally pleased with the proposal was another matter.
But the meeting of the States General was still delayed and on June 18–28, the Duke, who had remained quietly at Dunkirk, broke the silence by a letter to the magistrates of Bruges.
His long patience, he wrote, proved his desire for the welfare of the country. He had waited, in an inconvenient and infected place, closing his eyes to every danger, in expectation of the promised arrival of the deputies of the States General; regretting rather the lost time, which should have been employed in fighting the enemy, than any discomfort which he had himself sustained. But being now informed that nothing was more settled than it had been three months ago, he had resolved to repair to Cambrai and endeavour to prevent the enemy from mastering it. Moreover, in the same short journey, he should be able to see his mother and hoped, through her, to procure more help from the King than he had received in time past, being fully resolved to continue his enterprise for the restoration of their ancient liberties, and to return to Dunkirk as soon as the States should announce a date for the arrival of their deputies (p. 405).
The Duke left Dunkirk on the day he wrote this letter, but he did not go to Cambrai. He departed by sea, and the next day arrived at Calais. The burghers of Ghent continued to protest what they would and would not do for him, but their protestations were now of little consequence. The French Prince had left Flanders never to return.
Two days later the Malcontents sat down before Dunkirk (p. 412). It was but slenderly manned and victualled, the enemy at once shut up the haven by building forts on each side, and the place was in great danger of being lost, if the States did not send “present rescue.” At the same time, three great forts were built on the roads to Dixmude and Ypres, “to keep those towns from victuals and other needful things,” Cambrai was formally besieged, and Herentals threatened.
And at this critical time, when every resource of the country was needed to avert the growing danger, the people were murmuring against the necessary taxes and imposts, and every city was the scene of dissension and discord. Such was the state of affairs in the Low Countries at the end of June, 1583.
William of Orange.
Apart from the position which he took up in relation to the Duke of Anjou, there are not many notices in this volume of William the Silent. In February, a Spaniard coming to Antwerp and causing suspicion by his speech, confessed that he had been sent by the King of Spain, and that his design was to kill the Prince “with a shower of dagger-strokes.” He was sentenced to death, but respited, probably by command of the Prince himself, who always dealt very leniently with his would-be murderers (pp. 113–117).
The most important event to him of this period was his marriage with Louise de Teligny, daughter of Admiral Coligny and widow of the brave young officer who also fell at the St. Bartholomew. The people regarded the alliance with suspicion, fearing it to be a sign of the devotion of Orange to the French, but this feeling wore off, and in later days, after her husband's death, the Princess made herself, at any rate in his own provinces, deeply beloved.
It was at first intended that his marriage should be celebrated at Middelburg, probably from a doubt as to the attitude of the people of Antwerp; the latter, however, desired to have that honour, making large promises as regards reception and entertainment.
The future Princess of Orange was escorted to Flanders by Madame de la Noue, wife of the brave warrior who had been so long a prisoner in the hands of the Spaniards. The States had granted to her certain distinguished prisoners of the Spanish party, for the purpose of affecting an exchange; but Spain knew better than to give up the formidable opponent whom fate had thrown into their hands. The King of Navarre, amongst others, had promised to sell the fairest lordship he had, if that would help to ransom his friend; but the Spanish Council were not to be moved, though happily they did not carry out the plan which had so much terrified his wife a year or two before, of taking the noted Huguenot leader into Spain, into the jaws, as it were, of the Inquisition.
One of the prisoners given up to her was Count Egmont, who, with another, was sent to the Castle of Rammekens “to be kept for her husband.” This increased Madame de ha. Noue's hopes, for the other two wives were as anxious for their husbands' freedom as she was, and solicited “very hard,” though vainly, to procure the desired exchange (pp. 267, 304).
Madame de Teligny left Paris on March 20. Cobham visited her just before her departure, and describes her as “a right virtuous, comely lady, of singular behaviour and rare fame"; a picture which he could very well have drawn without seeing her! Gilpin is a little more definite, describing her as “young and fair, of mild speech and a modest behaviour” (pp. 204, 237). The banns were published at Antwerp, the officers of the Prince and his two sisters, with many ladies, were sent to Middelburg to meet her, and there were great preparations to give her a good reception. On Monday, April 1, she arrived at Antwerp, and was met by the Prince on the waterside, below the town, at a little place called Lilloo, where they dined together. The next day they were married in the Castle chapel by the Prince's chaplain, dressed in mourning and without any pomp or ceremony. In the evening, however, there was a banquet at the Castle, and the feasting and entertainments were kept up for two days afterwards (pp. 238, 245, 248).
Why they were married en deuil is not stated. Perhaps because the bride was a widow, or possibly out of respect to the memory of the Prince's late wife, who had died not twelve months before.
The only notice of the Princess after her marriage is the announcement, in May, that she was with child; the child afterwards so well known to history as Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange.
In March another step had been taken in the process by which the sovereign countship of Holland and Zeeland was to be secured to Orange. When Monsieur was accepted by the Netherlands, it had been expressly stipulated that he should never claim sovereignty over these northern provinces, and Orange had definitely accepted the Countship of Holland, which previously he had only agreed provisionally to hold.
Utrecht had followed Holland, Zeeland was on the point of doing so, and it was believed that Friesland and Guelderland would also “seek to have him” (p. 190).
The people of Flanders were always looking for ulterior motives to explain William's actions. They never appeared able to grasp the idea that love of his country might be the moving cause. And even the reasonable Gilpin seems to impute to him only a narrow patriotism when he writes that his Excellency was so “forward to agree with Monsieur thereby to further and continue these wars, and so bring enmity between the Spaniards and the French, and while the troubles are in Flanders &c., his government may sit in the more quiet estate and increase their wealth and doings” (p. 190).
Of Queen Elizabeth, we obtain only the merest glimpses. The farce of the Anjou marriage was all but played out, and in the first days of the new year, on learning that the French King was still demanding that she should pay the charges of the war in the Low Countries, she made known her pleasure that Marchaumont, the Duke's agent in England, should return to his master.
Mr. Butler assigns to this March an interesting holograph note (probably to the French ambassador) in which she quotes part of a letter written to Monsieur in her old affectionate style. She calls him her “dearest"; suggests that “if the worst came to the worst” and the marriage did not take place, some very close league and amity should be substituted for it, and ends by assuring him that in her heart she desires rather to be dedicated to him than to any other.
Perhaps sympathy with the Duke's troubles in the Low Countries may have rekindled the expiring flame (if it had ever been kindled at all); as we have seen, she took his part in the matter, though probably rather from dread of Spain's advance than from any lingering affection for Monsieur.
Her views in relation to Lennox and Bouillon will be mentioned presently; those in relation to Germany and Poland may be more fitly spoken of in connexion with the papers forming the “Addenda” of the present volume.
At this time the Queen was coquetting with the Portuguese pretender, Don Antonio, Prior of Crato, sending him friendly messages and good wishes, but, in reply to his appeal for troops, telling him plainly that she was not prepared to break with Spain, “in respect of the great trade” her subjects carried on with his dominions. She feared that on the smallest pretext her merchants and their goods would be seized, and she could make no reprisals (as the French King might do in such a case) because of the small traffic of the Spaniards into England (p. 93). This sounded very reasonable, but one wonders whether Don Antonio may not have reflected that, judging by the exploits of one at any rate of Elizabeth's bold captains, it might be unnecessary for them to wait until Spanish ships came into English waters in order to make reprisals.
In February, she sent a protest to the French King against the arrest of English subjects on account of their religion (p. 140), thinking (as she desired Cobham to say to him) it very strange that while he allowed “both religions” amongst his own people, hers should be molested for matters concerning their conscience only.
A few weeks later, Walsingham wrote of her surprise at the intended surrender of the towns held by the Huguenots, a matter which he mentioned again later.
In May, she took active measures in regard to the Low Countries, sending Somers (as has been seen) both to the Duke and to the States and forwarding to Gilpin a formal remonstrance, to be delivered by way of a speech to the States General, showing, as the Prince of Orange had already shown, the danger of a union between France and Spain, at a time when the States were so unfit to cope with a double enemy; the people being almost worn out and desperate, the soldiers malcontent for want of pay, the enemy strong in the field, their largest forces those of Monsieur, “debts infinite, credit little or none,” and the provinces “disunited and unprovided.” Her Majesty characteristically winds up her exhortation by a spirited demand, not free from threats, for the payment of money long owing to herself (p. 336 et seq.).
The last volume of the Calendar closed just at the time when the French King and his mother had resolved to send an embassy to Scotland. Their choice fell upon la Mothe-Fénelon, but with him there went a certain M. de Maineville, an adherent of the Guises, and probably deputed by them to look after their interests. The English Queen, already apprehensive that the embassy might revive troubles, had been further disturbed by hearing that a French gentleman had embarked in Holland for Scotland, with letters from the King, the Guises &c. He had indeed returned into France, but the incident had increased her suspicions. On January 1, however, Cobham assured Walsingham that Pinart, the French secretary, had distinctly stated that the King had written no letters at all except those given to La Mothe, and latterly to Maineville, (fn. 2) when it was feared that La Mothe's health would not enable him to continue the journey.
Secret intelligence had been brought to Walsingham that the real object of de la Mothe's journey was to arrange a marriage between the young King and the Duke of Lorraine's daughter. The Secretary declared that if only Elizabeth would have spent a little more money, she might have arranged James' marriage herself, Bowes (the English ambassador) having brought him into “good devotion to her Majesty.” (p. 4).
Perhaps the allusion is to the Queen's offer of 1,000l. to provide a bodyguard for the young King, which had been refused. Of this, Burton writes (Hist, of Scotland, v, 190): “How they would have decided . . . had the troops and the money been thousands instead of hundreds it would be useless to guess; it is only clear that the penurious assistance offered them was not worth taking at the price it might cost in popularity.” Bowes was also told to make gifts, but with the Queen's favourite proviso “as from yourself,” which indeed such offerings from her Majesty's agents often proved to be!
Rumours about the boy King's marriage cropped up frequently at this time. Apart from the Spanish and Imperial houses, Lorraine's eldest daughter, Guise's daughter and widowed sister, and the Princess of Navarre appear to have been the chief marriageable ladies of the day. The two first are often suggested, not only for James but for Anjou.
The young King was still in the hands of the Kirk and the English party, into which he had fallen at the time of the Ruthven Raid, but this did not prevent a good deal of secret negotiation with the other side, and Cobham tells a curious tale of James having promised Creighton the Jesuit to return to the Church of Rome and of an arrangement to which he was privy for sending over Scottish, Italian, French and English Jesuits (three of each nation) to Scotland, to carry on a proselytising campaign there (p. 11).
A servant of the Duke of Lennox declared more than once to Cobham that the Scottish King was a “deep dissembler,” and had begged to be taken over to France, his heart being wholly with his kindred there (pp. 200, 257).
The Duke of Lennox, whose plans had been frustrated by the Ruthven Raid, and who was in very bad odour with James' present counsellors, left Scotland at the beginning of the year; travelling through England by permission of Elizabeth, and being admitted to an interview with her Majesty by the way. When he reached Paris, Cobham had strict orders to keep him under his eye, and to this end cultivated the acquaintance of one Smallet, of his Grace's household, the servant already mentioned. Smallet held out strong hopes that Lennox (or d'Aubigny, as he was always called in France) might be brought over to the Queen's side, but this Elizabeth herself did not in the least believe. “She would have you let him [Smallet] know,” Walsingham wrote to Cobham, “that she sees no reason at all how that should take place, considering whose subject he is, the stay of living he hath in France, his match in marriage with those that are devoted altogether to the House of Guise, his proceeding in Scotland at the time of his being there, tending altogether to the alienation of the King's good will from her” (p. 141). As it happened, d'Aubigny's inclinations proved to be of no importance. He was ailing from the time he landed in France, and died there at the end of May. Up to the last he had professed to hold “the same religion as his King,” a rather ambiguous statement, considering the rumours then rife that James had joined the Church of Rome. A Roman priest ministered to him on his death-bed, but those of the Scottish Church who were with him bore witness that “he would not 'receive' after the Papist manner.”
The La Mothe-Fénelon mission soon came to an end, and not long afterwards it was proposed to send the Huguenot Due de Bouillon to Scotland. He declined to go without Elizabeth's consent, a line of conduct which she heartily approved, desiring Cobham to tell him so, and to say that if the parties who wished to employ him had been as sound, in regard to religion and England, as he was, she would have well liked him to go, but believing that his mission would be but a mask to cover their practices and blemish his reputation, she thankfully took his refusal, and exhorted him to beware lest he should be drawn to be an instrument of effecting worse purposes than “wittingly” he would (p. 94).
There are occasional allusions in the letters to schemes for the rescue of the Scottish Queen. Thus, in April, the servant of the Duke of Lennox, in Cobham's pay, informed the ambassador that the Duke of Guise had given “proud assurances” that great forces were coming from sundry princes to be used for her release, but how, he could not say. About the same time Madame de Mauvissière heard the said Duke declare that he hoped to be in Scotland sooner than they thought (pp. 257, 292).
Mauvissière found himself in a very difficult position, for the Queen of Scots and her friends in France looked to him to do great things, and yet, as he complained to Walsingham, the mere mention of that Queen's affairs seemed to cause so much suspicion to her Majesty that he felt as if “walking upon thorns, amid the difficulties which the ill-fortune of the time had brought” between these near kinswomen.
In February, the Scottish Queen wrote him a letter “full of her woes.” She felt herself abandoned on all sides, but even that did not afflict her so much as the fear of what was happening to her son. She declared that “Daniel and all who have done the greatest penance in this world have not come near hers,” and that all slaves at the end of seven years were set at liberty, whereas she was at the end of three times seven of her prison, and it was impossible, either bodily or mentally to bear it any longer. If Mauvissière had taken her cause in hand, she believed that her Majesty “would have provided her with some better remedy.” Truly, as he said, it was not easy to satisfy both of them (p. 165).
Turning to France, we find that at this time the discontent in relation to the imposition of new taxes was growing apace, and neither people nor Parliament were much convinced by the King's solemn assurances that the impositions caused him great grief and should be withdrawn as soon as possible. Meanwhile, the payments were strictly enforced, with threats of sending troops against such places as should refuse to obey. In Normandy, the people rose against the King's officers, and his Receiver was set upon and slain. There are many notices in this volume of the irritation caused by the King's proceedings in regard to these matters.
As regards the Church, it will be remembered that in the previous year Henry had proposed a bargain with the Pope, offering to introduce the decrees of the Council of Trent into France, if his Holiness would allow him to appropriate a tenth of the ecclesiastical revenues of the realm; which tenth he promptly proceeded to levy, without waiting for definite permission. The Pope was angry, but upon the King's humble submission, not only authorised the tax, but licensed the further alienation of large sums for the maintenance of the new order of the Saint Esprit, with other privileges. In return, he demanded the fulfilment of his share of the bargain, and the King began his endeavours to reduce his clergy to the discipline of the Council of Trent, while the Nuncio eagerly applied himself to make the rules very “strait,” more strait, the King's ministers thought, than the clergy would be willing to accept. And so it proved. The opposition was very strong, both amongst clergy and laymen, and it was decided that it should be pleaded in Parliament “as a matter of State,” a course not at all to the King's liking, as it was believed that both his prerogative and authority would be “touched and impaired” (pp. 105, 216). As time went on, however, the King himself wavered, not wishing the decrees to be authorised as a whole, but that some parts should be extracted for the better ordering of the clergy. To this the Nuncio would not agree, and threatened to leave the kingdom. Cobham believed that the Pope's real object was to extinguish covertly the ancient prerogatives of the Gallican Church, and that this having been plainly shown to the King was the reason of his drawing back (p. 184). A letter from Marshal Montmorency, and a “little tract” against the Council are said to have given the project its death blow (p. 230).
The King, whose life of pleasure alternated with periods of religious seclusion and exaltation, was, in the spring of 1583, engaged in instituting a new order or brotherhood of penitents, popularly called Les Battus, (fn. 3) on the lines of a like Order in the city of Lyons. He not only entered it himself, but insisted on many of his courtiers and officials following his example, so that the Court, according to Geoffrey le Brumen, was more given up to devotion than the Religious themselves (pp. 184, 218).
The new Order was not popular. What its ceremonies were, Cobham does not say. As the Nuncio assisted the King to frame them, we may suppose that the Pope approved, but they were probably not according to usual ecclesiastical rule, for the clergy protested in their pulpits, the “other Orders” inveighed against it, and all sorts of people were scandalized by it.
But the King was very much in earnest. He forbade the name of Battus, rebuked and silenced Poncet, the preacher at Notre Dame, and punished the Court pages and others who “in merriment counterfeited with their cloaks the muffling of the penitents.” He dressed in “a kind of friar's grey cloth,” and diligently attended the offices of the Brotherhood. On Holy Thursday, with the whole fraternity, he went in solemn procession to sundry churches, and especially to St. Paul's, where two of his “mignons” (Maugiron and Quélus, slain in a rencontre with some of the Guise party) were buried (p. 215). He soon afterwards went on a pilgrimage, during which he “footed it so much” that he returned to his young Queen in a state of utter exhaustion, and she was very angry with “his Italian Jesuit,” who had persuaded him to it. Cobham was told, he does not say by whom, that when starting on this pilgrimage, the King wrote in Épernon's prayer-book, “Je te prie, mon amy, de souvenyr de moy quand tu pryeres ysu, come de cellui qui n'ayme en ce mortel monde tant que toy” (p. 258).
There are many notices in this volume of the Dukes of Épernon and Joyeuse, the two last remaining and best beloved of the company of young courtiers who were known as the King's “mignons.”
On p. 104 is an account of a quarrel between them in the King's chamber, Joyeuse, in his capacity of Admiral of France, having trenched upon Épernon's prerogative as Colonel-General of the infantry, by giving orders for the levying of men for Terceira.
The King's gifts of places and honours to his two “brothers” (as he always termed them) are noticed on pp. 162, 163. It was believed he would, in time, “erect” Joyeuse to be Duke of Normandy, and some said that he had thoughts of raising Épernon even to the title of king, by the gift of certain provinces. He had propounded to the Parliament of Paris whether he might alienate domains belonging to the Crown, but it was found that he could only do so for the space of nine years.
The design seems to have been connected with a project for Épernon's marriage to a daughter of the Duke of Lorraine. Le Brumen wrote that the Duke would not give him his daughter, “which has put a stop to the scheme of a kingdom of Austrasia and county of Venaissin” (p. 252. See also p. 230). So great was Épernon's influence with the King, that a report was current at the Court that the Queen Mother herself had applied to him to procure permission for her to follow her son on one of his journeys (p. 365).
There were limits, however, even to Henry's infatuation for his mignons, and now and then he dared to assert himself, as when Joyeuse and his father the Marshal endeavoured to overthrow Montmorency, Governor of Languedoc. When Joyeuse presented letters of complaint, the King answered coolly that neither for his nor his father's ambition would he consent to bring any of his provinces into war, and that the Marshal must be told “to support himself modestly, without giving offence” (p. 359).
When the French King was too busy with his penitents or his mignons to attend to affairs of State, matters were left in the hands of the Queen Mother, and at all times the English ambassador seems to have been able to get more satisfaction from his interviews with her than with her son, and often tried to work upon him through her. In view of his own conscientious objection to become the consort of the Protestant English Queen, it is not to be wondered at that Henry showed small enthusiasm as regards his brother's courtship, whereas the Queen Mother, even at this late stage, appears to have nourished some lingering hopes that the marriage might yet be brought about.
On the 20th of January, Catherine sent Gondi to Cobham to offer her very hearty thanks for “the singular demonstration of favour” which the English Queen had of late shown to her son. Cobham, somewhat surprised by this sudden ebullition of gratitude, asked what particular favour was meant, to which Gondi replied that he knew nothing further, but supposed it was some kindness shown to Monsieur in relation to the matter of Antwerp. It proved to be due to the letters of the ever sanguine Mauvissière, who had sent over enthusiastic reports of the Queen's friendly feelings towards the Duke, and affection to France (pp. 57, 80).
The news of the troubles in Flanders consequent on the French fury was very “heavily taken” both by the King and his mother. The wildest reports were spread, as that the Prince of Orange had promised to be reconciled to the King of Spain and that the English had cut off the noses and ears of the French prisoners. These rumours soon died down, but the effects of Monsieur's ill-judged action remained, and very strong feeling was aroused amongst the Huguenots, that he should have treated thus “those poor afflicted souls who had fled to him for refuge” from the Spanish tyranny. To counteract this view, a pamphlet was issued “under the King's privilege,” inveighing against the Prince of Orange and the States for having betrayed Monsieur and the French. This, however, appears to have been considered unwise, for it was shortly prohibited by the King (pp. 65, 71, 104).
As regards the religious divisions in France, both parties were now, as it were, marking time, and endeavouring to lure the waverers to their own side. The Dukes of Montmorency and d'Uzès were those most eagerly wooed. At the beginning of the year, Condé was reported to have so far reconciled these two dukes to “those of the Religion” that it was confidently hoped that d'Uzès would “leave his mass” and return to the fold, while, as regards Montmorency, much good effect was looked for from a sudden attack by Joyeuse upon the town of Béziers, which he took, turning out the Duke's magistrates, and introducing a garrison of his own men. This indignity, it was hoped, might throw Montmorency into the arms of the Huguenot party. Another reason which it was thought might lead him to “stick to them of the Religion,” was that he had quarrelled with his brother, the Sieur de Méru, about their patrimony, and the said Méru was in great favour with the King, had become one of the Battus, and was currying favour with the House of Guise (pp. 107, 235).
On the other side, Monsieur sent his secretary to Montmorency, with offers of friendship and “secret intelligence,” and the King, as has been seen, put a stop to the machinations of Joyeuse and his father against him. Henry also sent assurances to the King of Navarre that he did not intend to publish the Council of Trent, being alarmed by hearing that Navarre was arranging a conference with the principal gentlemen of the Religion.
The Queen Mother at this time was courting the Guises, in hopes, through their “bolstering” to maintain her government and to overthrow the influence of the “mignons” with the King, in which she would have the sympathy of the whole Court, the mignons themselves only excepted. The Duke of Lorraine was invited to Paris and treated with great distinction, and it was believed that the Queen Mother intended Monsieur to marry his daughter. The King liked the idea of the Lorraine match, but was not inclined to do much to further it, as he was gradually coming to the conclusion that he was in danger of sacrificing too much for the advantage of his brother.
This was how affairs stood at Court at the end of February, but Cobham warned Walsingham that they might not long remain so, for those princes not only readily undertook new enterprises but as speedily abandoned them, and, moreover, he might easily be deceived as to their true purposes, “for they seem to pretend often what they least intend” (pp. 108, 109).
The Duke of Savoy was also reported to be courting the Princess of Lorraine, and many messengers had come from him to the French Court (where the young Princess usually lived with the Queen); but Savoy's watchful enemies, the people of Geneva, suspected that, under this pretext, the Duke was endeavouring to negotiate something with France against them (p. 184).
This was probably true enough, for a few days later, Cobham was informed that the French King had declared to Savoy's ambassador that he would not “consent or show his liking” that the Duke should make any enterprise against Geneva, “in respect of his oath,” but left him to do as he should find good; that is, he would remain neutral, but would not interfere with the Duke's actions (p. 194). In fact the two matters seem to have been part of the same negotiation, for the next report at Court was that the treaty of marriage had been broken off, because the King would not consent to the Duke's request about Geneva.
At the end of March, a report was sent to England that the Queen Mother was about to meet Monsieur at Calais, going so “full fraught” with promises from the King of Spain and the Pope, that dangerous practices against Scotland, and thereby against England, were apprehended.
Elizabeth was highly indignant at the bare thought of such things being intended against her, after her honourable dealing with Monsieur and the assistance given to him in the Low Countries, and Walsingham asked Cobham to write him a “bye letter” on the subject, which he might either show or not show to her Majesty as he thought best, a course which, as he reminded Cobham, they had often adopted before. His own idea was that the assembling of forces in France was easily explained by the King's fear of a “stir,” either by the people, on the leyving of the new taxes, or by the Huguenots, to whom a time of danger was now approaching, when in conformity with the” Edict of Pacification” they were to restore to the King the towns which they had held in pledge.
Walsingham ends his letter on a note of characteristic caution. He entirely concurs with Cobham's idea that it would be very expedient for all the Protestant princes to assist the Huguenots with counsel and other means, yet seeing “how hardly we (in England) are drawn into any matter of charge,” he can rather wish matters were otherwise than hope at present for any good to be done (pp. 219, 220).
But although reluctant to promise help, her Majesty was very willing to offer criticism, and informed Cobham that she thought it very strange that in so dangerous a time they of the Religion should, by resigning these towns, let out of their hands those means whereon, next to God, their safety chiefly depended. She therefore desired the ambassador to learn what course they meant to take, and even seemed to evince some disposition to do something for them, if necessity should so require (p. 238).
The Huguenot party at this time considered that they had a grievance against Elizabeth, complaining that secrets confided by them to her had been revealed not only to Monsieur but to Simier, Marchaumont and others, who, “seeing by her speeches the small account she made of them of the Religion, have made their profit by it” and thus encouraged their enemies to condemn them the more and respect them the less (p. 234).
Moreover, they were greatly disappointed that she did not come forward more heartily to their assistance. Without outside help it seemed certain that they would have to give up the towns, for, as du Plessis stated to Walsingham, they could only keep them by having means to put an army in the field, and such an army they could not levy without aid from other princes (p. 233). Yet they dreaded to surrender them, for “the cause why those places were delivered them was for their security,” which they had now more cause to doubt of than before. Navarre and Condé had gathered a certain amount of money, and the churches were willing to be at some charge, if the princes would help; otherwise they would be driven to try, by bribing those near the King, to gain a longer time, and, that failing, the towns would have to go. They were, in fact, upon the horns of a dilemma, for “the denial to yield them will be a new war, and the yielding of them, a yielding of their throats to the knife” (p. 321).
Henry of Navarre remained quietly amongst his trusty supporters in the south, conferring with his friends, and preparing for eventualities, yet he never forgot how near he was to the throne of France, and had no desire rashly to enter into war. But he strengthened his alliance with Montmorency, furnished his Court more than ever with gentlemen of the Religion, and was said to have reformed his house, where such honourable order was now observed that many persons of quality sent their children thither (p. 394).
During the spring of 1583, some slight attempt was made by the French King to put his finances into better order. As already said, he had appropriated the tenth of the ecclesiastical revenues, as permitted by the Pope, without fulfilling his part of the engagement. The clergy of the Gallican church had no wish to see the Tridentine decrees enforced, but their non-enforcement gave them a lever in seeking relief from the distress entailed upon them by loss of so much of their revenue. Espinac, the Archbishop of Lyons, had declared in the Assembly of 1579 that the clergy had paid more in the twenty preceding years than in twelve hundred years before. He now preached a sermon on the subject, by which the King was said to be greatly moved, and Waad told Walsingham that “the churchmen had so handled the King's conscience” that he had resolved to “pardon them their tenths.” But as this would necessarily increase the burden on the rest of the people, they besought the King to reform the State in order to pay his debts, and so releave the nation from those charges. Waad, bitter, even beyond the wont of his co-religionists, against the Roman Church, confidently asserts that they did so because they knew what hatred their exemption would draw upon them (p. 321), but there was no need for this uncharitable explanation, for, apart from the sympathy they may be supposed to have felt for their poor overburdened countrymen, at this time the two classes were becoming bound together by a common interest. The causes were a-work which were, before long, to unite Catholic France, nobles, clergy and Tiers État, in the Ligue of 1585.
Very shortly afterwards, Cobham reported that the King had actually made many reductions of superfluous officers, and had “retrenched” his gentlemen of the chamber from three to one hundred. He summoned some of his Council to consult with him how he might diminish the number of officers in the realm, “so that they might reduce it to the order which was held in the time of King Louis XII., surnamed Pater Patriœ, whereby he might not be compelled to oppress his people with impositions.” Several memorials were sent to him on the subject, which he declared his intention to consider on his journey to Mezières—whither he went in the month of June—so as to be ready to put matters in order before St. Michael's day (pp. 359, 360). The result of his considerations belongs to the next volume.
The present Calendar contains little about Spain, apart from the affairs of the Low Countries. On the death of the heir to the throne, at the end of 1582, King Philip sent throughout his realms to receive acknowledgments of fealty to his younger and only remaining son, and—the annexation of Portugal being now an accomplished fact—summoned the Cortes to meet at Lisbon to take their oaths to him. But the boy was sickly and not considered likely to live to manhood, and the King, now a widower for the fourth time, was looking about for a fresh wife. His choice had fallen upon la reine blanche, the charming and intellectual widow of Charles IX. of France, and the younger sister of his late wife, Anne of Austria. But this lady had no inclination to respond to his advances, and announced her intention of retiring into a nunnery. Upon this, Philip turned his attention to the Duke of Braganza's eldest daughter, but this, too, came to nothing, possibly because in June he again felt hopeful of securing the Austrian Princess, the Pope having given dispensation for his marriage with his wife's sister (p. 409).
The mother of la reine blanche, widow of the Emperor Maximilian II. and daughter of Charles V., was in Spain during this spring, busied with various marriage projects, for besides the negotiations concerning her daughter, others were on foot for the marriage of the two Spanish infantas, Clara Eugenia Isabella and Catherine (daughters of Philip by his third wife) to two of the Empress's sons, the Emperor and the Archduke Ernest. Neither of these marriages came to pass, but the elder Infanta afterwards married another son, the Cardinal-Archduke Albert.
Early in the year, a fresh enterprise to Terceira was put in hand, to be committed to the charge of the Marquis of Santa Cruz. The army and fleet gathered gradually at Lisbon, and were to have started at the end of April; they did not, however, leave the bay until the middle of June, and the history of their doings will belong to the next Calendar.
Amongst the miscellaneous matters to be found in this Calendar may be mentioned the efforts of Henry Unton to procure the liberation of his brother Edward from the prison of the Inquisition at Milan. These efforts were eventually successful, and the prisoner was set free, but “sickly in body and melancholy in mind” as a result of his treatment there. Henry Unton thought the release would have come long before if the English Government had imitated the Swiss, who always got their men out by threats of reprisals. Geoffrey le Brumen, a friend of the Unton family, was of the same opinion, “recalling a notable instance to this effect.” Some Swiss merchants had been put into the Inquisition on an unjust charge, and when the Bernese sent an embassy to the Governor of Milan, he informed them that he could do nothing; they must go to the Inquisitors. The envoys returned to their masters with this message, and straightway all the Italian and Spanish merchants going through Switzerland to Frankfort fair were arrested and many of them imprisoned. Complaints being received on their behalf from Italy, the magistrates answered as the governor had done—they must go to the Inquisitors—which they did, with such good effect that the Swiss prisoners were honourably sent back with all their goods.
Le Brumen proposed an application of the same principle in England. Let her Majesty put the Spanish ambassador and all his compatriots in her realm in prison, and he felt assured that Unton would speedily be liberated (p. 390).
Amongst other miscellaneous matters may be noted the Pronouncement of the ambassadors at the Diet of Baden (p. 292); a long letter from Dr. Henry von Holtz concerning the late Diet at Augsburg and the Assemblies at Cologne of the Circles of Westphalia and the Rhine (p. 304); the protest of the Electors of Saxony and Brandenburg against the Pope's interference in the affairs of the Empire, as shown by his action in regard to the Archbishopric of Cologne (p. 345); “Advertisements from Cologne in relation to the approaching election of a new archbishop (p. 367) and Instructions for Sir Jerome Bowes, at his departure on his embassy to Russia (p. 374).
The contents of the papers forming the Addenda must be very briefly noticed.
Amongst those of earliest date are an account of the Prince of Orange's fruitless expedition into Hainault in 1568 (p. 431) and a relation of the adventures of two travellers from Spain, who were arrested in Cornwall, sent up under a guard to London, and there released by means of the Earl of Leicester. This happened when Zweveghen was ambassador in England, Thomas Stukeley was in Spain and Menendez was Spanish Admiral. The only date which appears to fit these facts is 1571. The Earl of Leicester is called Lord Robert, but it was a common practice with foreigners to call both Leicester and Burghley by their old names for many years after they had been created peers (p. 438).
These miscellaneous papers are followed by a letter-book of Sir Thomas Smith, containing copies of letters written during his embassy to France in 1572, undertaken with the double object of arranging a commercial treaty and making a final attempt to conclude the marriage negotiations between Queen Elizabeth and Henry of Anjou, which had been brought to a sudden standstill by the Duke's demand for “the public exercise” of his religion.
As regards the first object of his embassy, Sir Thomas was successful, for after much discussion and some “fumes,” the treaty was signed on April 17. Most of the letters in relation to the negotiations are already before the world, either in the Calendar of S.P. Foreign for 1572 or in Sir Dudley Digges' Compleat Ambassador, but several of those to Burghley are not to be found elsewhere, the most important being a long despatch written on March the 8th.
In the matter of the marriage, he soon found that there was nothing to be done. On April 6, he and Killigrew had audiences both of the King (Charles IX) and the Queen Mother, of which he wrote with very full detail to Elizabeth. To the King, he expressed her Majesty's great astonishment that the marriage should be so suddenly broken off, for which, however, he believed “some other” (meaning no doubt de Foix, the ambassador in England) was to blame, who had not spoken candidly of Monsieur's “stiffness” in religion. The King replied with expressions of regret for his brother's obstinacy, but held out no hope of his yielding.
To the Queen Mother, Sir Thomas spoke much more at length of his mistress's surprise and indignation that when she had overcome her reluctance to marry and had accepted Monsieur's “loving and plain offers,” these new and hard conditions should be insisted on. The Queen Mother threw the blame upon the ambassadors, de Foix and la Mothe-Fénelon, who ought from the first to have made clear Monsieur's demands as regarded religion, and then turned to her recent proposal that her youngest son, the Duke d'Alençon, should take his brother's place, “who was a great deal more tractable in these matters.” This was the beginning of the marriage business with which Elizabeth coquetted for twelve long years. The boy prince was not yet eighteen, but as she had already reconciled herself to the difference between herself and Monsieur, the extra two or three years did not seem to matter very much. Sir Thomas described the young prince in as favourable terms as possible, and was altogether in favour of the new plan, indeed thought it “ten thousand times better than the other” (pp. 447, 453).
Many of Smith's letters are concerned with his son's expedition to Ireland. The Queen had granted the lands of the Ardes, in County Down, to the father and son, and the younger Thomas was preparing to go over, with a band of Englishmen, to take possession. Sir Thomas wrote a long letter to Burghley on the subject, asking for his support and combating the objections of those who had opposed the grant, with the specious arguments which appeared so convincing to the “undertakers” in Ireland. It had been protested that the proceedings were alarming McPhelim O'Neill, a “good subject.” Sir Thomas could see no reason in this. “Who demandeth anything of him?” he asked. “Shall not the Queen's Majesty dispose of her own? If it be not her Majesty's, my son nor none with him can demand anything of McPhelim. Let him keep it. If it be not his, why should he wrongfully possess that is the Queen's?” Probably few English men of that day would see any fallacy in the argument.
The Lord Deputy's doubts concerning the undertaking appeared to Sir Thomas even more incomprehensible. A fine band of Englishmen were going over who would cost the Queen nothing; the Deputy would be eased of the northern Irish and Scots, who had given him so much trouble; the country would be peopled with “right English” and obedient Irish, and if the enterprise miscarried the Queen would lose no money, the Deputy no men, and he believed that the settlers would not “sell their lives so good cheap” but that some rebels should go along with them (pp. 469, 476).
Another matter in which Sir Thomas Smith was much interested was a mining operation at Poole in Dorset, which he had undertaken in partnership with Sir Humphrey Gilbert, and in which a Mr. Medley was also concerned. During Sir Thomas' absence, things were much neglected—or worse—and, having no faith in Medley, he told Gilbert that he was being led by the nose “like a bufle” and urged him to go down to Poole and look into matters. “Are you so tied in London that you cannot be twelve days from it?” he inquired. “I wis it were twenty days well bestowed.” At the same time he wrote to Medley to have patience with Sir Humphrey and be good friends with him, whose nature was as good as any gentleman's in England as soon as he was “out of his storms” (p. 493).
The letters throw a pleasant light on Sir Thomas's own personality. He was devoted to his gardens, and sent many directions to his wife and the “parson of Mont” for the enriching of the ground, setting of fruit-trees and cultivation of flowers, especially roses. During his embassy to France, he was entertained, as he said, like a young prince, but did not find the French cookery at all to his mind, and longed for good English beef and mustard instead of the pheasants, partridges, peacocks and other fine meats which were put before him (p. 443).
In one point, however, he considered French practice very superior to English; viz., their plan of beginning the year on January I instead of on March 25. In giving the date, he repeatedly adds:—” As we Englishmen do foolishly account” or “by the foolish account of England,” and one of the letters ends—"by the wise account in England, that Christ should be born half a year before he were conceived. God send you such children if you like it.”
A characteristic rather of the age than the individual is illustrated by his strong belief in the significance of dreams. This was shared by the Vice Chamberlain, Heneage, and still more by Heneage's wife, to whom the narratives are more particularly addressed, with a request that she would assist him in reading the riddles. He discriminates between dreams that are “significative” and those that are not, and not unnaturally laments that all dreams, like prophecies, are uncertain until the events follow and explain them.
On p. 500 is an interesting paper containing informations given to the Spanish King's Council of the Indies against “an Englishman, a resident of Plymouth, named Francis Drake, pilot,” for having captured and pillaged many Spanish ships; thrown a pilot into the sea because he would not show him the ports, and committed many other robberies and murders. Amongst other things, he is said to have “lurked on the road from Panama to Nombre de Dios and captured the droves of cattle” as they passed. Captain John “Haquins” [Hawkins] and his brother, Sir William Winter, Drake's brothers and many others are accused of being participators in these crimes; also the Earl of Hertford, because he had a negro in his possession.
Belonging probably to the year 1576 or 1577 is a long paper, written or at any rate issued by the Prince of Orange, setting forth the reasons why all the soldiers of the Low Countries should join with the States against Spain. The chief argument is that “for all the Spaniard now shows such a good face, while he has need of them,” yet as soon as he has gained his end and got full possession of the country, they will be trodden under foot and destroyed.
The captains are reminded of the treatment meeted out to those distinguished men of the Low Countries who had thrown in their lot with Spain,—Egmont, Noircarmes, de la Roche, de Bossu and de Beauvoir—while the soldiers are bidden to remember what Mondragon replied to the Walloons when they prayed him to pardon them:—That they might seek pardon from the King, but as for himself, for his life he would not give it them (p. 504).
The most important papers included in the Addenda are those relating to the German Empire and Poland (not, as before said, previously calendared) and the Newsletters, which, originally enclosed in letters from our ambassadors and agents abroad, are now for the most part arranged in volumes by themselves. The Newsletters are valuable as supplying some new facts and many small details in regard to occurrences already known; and serve, moreover, as guides in fixing the dates of more important documents. An incident, mentioned in an undated paper, is often found also in a newsletter, with its date, and this at once enables us to put the former into its true place. If the editor has printed the Newsletters at too great a length, she must plead as her excuse that she has so often found their great value in this respect.
Those from France begin in February, 1579, and touch upon most of the occurrences in that kingdom—the doings of the King and Court, the high favour of the mignons, the discontent in the country, the troubles between Papists and Huguenots. They were sent by Cobham, who also collected and forwarded “advertisements” from Italy and Spain.
Those from the Low Country and Germany are much more important and numerous. Gilpin had a correspondent in Cologne who frequently sent “occurrents” which were forwarded to Walsingham; and Christopher Hoddesdon, Walsingham's “step-son-in-law” and governor of the Merchants Adventurers' Company, either procured or himself sent advertisements from Antwerp to Burghley. These are numerous from May, 1579, to June, 1581, but at that date they cease. Letters from him are found in the Holland and Flanders volumes up to the middle of 1582, but not any in 1583, although he was still employed as Elizabeth's financial agent in the Low Countries.
The Cologne letters, on the other hand, are the most numerous and interesting after the beginning of the struggle between the rival archbishops.
There are also some Newsletters forwarded by Sir Henry Ratcliffe concerning Spanish affairs, and a good many containing “occurrents” from divers parts, written in Italian, and apparently sent from Venice.
One other series has had (from want of space) to be relegated to a future volume of Addenda. It contains “occurrents” from divers places, dating from the end of 1578 to May, 1580, and the reference is Newsletters, Vol. LXXXI, Nos. 1–26.
Turning to the papers relating to the Empire, on p. 514 are the Emperor's instructions to Count Schwarzenberg, given in January, 1579, when Rudolf thought that a fitting time had come for him to mediate in the Low Countries. Schwarzenberg had already been there and persuaded the States to agree to a negotiation; but just at that time the Duke of Anjou had left the country, and Duke Casimir too, had retired with his forces. This had interrupted the negotiations, but promised better success for them in the future; and Schwarzenberg was directed to urge the young Archduke Mathias, then governor, to do all that he could to remove difficulties, and especially to procure the extension of the term of three months, at the end of which, unless a peace was “in a way of being established,” the States General had determined to begin a treaty with the Duke of Anjou. Meanwhile, the Emperor proposed to start negotiations as soon as possible at Cologne. The Congress there was opened in the following May, but came to no conclusion and led to no results.
The relations of Queen Elizabeth with the Emperor were chiefly concerned with the struggle between the League of the Hanses in Germany and the Company of the Merchants Adventurers in England. Each body was jealous of the other, and eager to secure as much as possible of the trade to themselves. Some of the towns, as Embden, were friendly to England; others, as Danzig, bitterly opposed to her. The case of the Hanse towns is given at considerable length by George Lysman, secretary of the Stillyard in London, in a memorial on p. 544. They contended that they had been robbed of their peculiar privileges of trade in England by Edward VI, restored to them by Queen Mary, and again deprived of them by Queen Elizabeth. In retaliation for what they considered their hard treatment, they determined to take such “counter-caution” as should, they hoped, force England to restore their old privileges:—that is, if they must pay higher tolls in England, the English merchants should do the same in the Hanse towns. Many were in favour of excluding the English altogether. How, they said, could their trade be increased by alluring strangers to them, who came but to enrich themselves, and, in times of need, fled with their goods. At Embden and Hamburg, these foreigners swept all the country, bought up everything from the peasants and carried it away under the noses of the Hanse merchants. They did not even provide work for the “poor labouring townsmen,” for they brought their own handy craftsmen along with them. How much better it would be, instead of inviting these strangers, to “continue the ancient concord of their dear native country and the good Dutches that now presently inhabit in it,” and to “traffic” themselves into strange countries, thus keeping both trade and navigation in their own hands.
The merchants of che Hanses were so successful in their appeals to the Emperor that he sent orders to Count Edzard of Embden, not only to stop the Englishmen's attempted monopoly of the trade, but utterly to banish them out of his dominions. Against this, the Queen protested. It was, she declared, a great strain upon her friendship, who had always been allied with the Imperial family, and she demanded that the matter should be fully and freely treated in public assembly, and that meanwhile, her merchants at Embden might enjoy their usual privileges (p. 555). Count Edzard had, upon receipt of the Emperor's letters, sent a very spirited reply, which is calendared under its date (Cal. S.P. Foreign, 1579–80, p. 364).
In the autumn of 1581, Dr. John Rogers was sent to Denmark and Poland, one object of his mission being to negotiate this matter of the Hanse Towns. His first letter from Elbing is a painful example of the way in which it was thought quite permissible in those days to ferret out information against Roman Catholics. Rogers unblushingly narrates how he obtained entry into the Jesuit College in Braunsberg, and gathered evidence against Father James Bosgrave—the quarry whom he he was hunting down—by professing to be his dear friend and fellow-student (p. 560). It was probably in consequence of Rogers' report that Bosgrave was arrested and imprisoned as soon as he reached England. The sequel to this is a letter from the King of Poland to the Queen, on behalf of Dr. Bosgrave, as a divine and professor in the University of Vilna and a man of great piety and learning, who was detained a prisoner in England for no other cause “than that having drunk in the Roman Catholic religion with his mother's milk, he still zealously professes it.” As the cause of learning was greatly injured by his long absence from his university, her Majesty was earnestly prayed to set him free and let him return (p. 661). This was in January, 1583. The Polish King no doubt thought it politic to put things very gently. The learned professor had not been merely “detained a prisoner in England.” He had been very harshly treated, condemned to death with Father Campion, Cotton &c., and only reprieved when upon the hurdle, on his way to the scaffold. The King's letter met with no response, for Bosgrave remained in close imprisonment until January, 1584–5, when he returned to Poland.
Dr. Rogers remained some months at Elbing, and at the beginning of April, 1581, sent reports of his proceedings to Walsingham, both as regards his negotiations with the merchants and his audiences with the Polish King. On the whole, he was satisfied with the results, but complained greatly of the carelessness of the Company at home in not sending out necessary documents. Before leaving England, he had worked, with “most melancholic and tedious travail,” at the Tower, the Exchequer and the Rolls, in search of what he needed, and had arranged for copies to be made and sent after him, the most important being a certain treaty lately made with the Hanse merchants at Hamburg.
For when the merchants of Danzig had driven the English away from their town to Elbing, the magistrates, receiving them very kindly, had asked them what privileges they desired. Answer was made, “such as of old time to the whole English nation and as of late time by the Hamburgers to the English nation were granted,” and this highly pleased the magistrates, for being accused to their King as “perjured persons against the Hanses,” they were able to say that they would grant nothing but what the Hanses and Hamburgers had done already. But, to this end, it was highly important that they should have a copy of the treaty to show.
In due time a trunk arrived, well guarded with locks and keys, containing the much wished for papers, but when it was opened “no treaty of Hamburg was there to be found.” The aged burgomaster was much distressed, crying out that he now perceived that what the Danskers said against the English might be true, but Rogers gave the old man his hand and assured him that her Majesty would not fail them and that the treaty should be procured. Whenever a post arrived, the burgomaster and his friends “incontinently clamoured” for the treaty, but owing to the carelessness of the home authorities in not giving proper orders, at the time of Rogers' writing, six months later, it had not yet arrived (p. 578 et seq).
Another cause of delay, moreover, occurred, for the King of Poland went off on a warlike expedition against Russia, and although he appointed commissioners to negotiate in his absence, it was impossible to conclude the treaty until his return. In October, 1581, however, the war was over and the King's victorious return daily expected, upon which it was hoped the negotiation would be happily ended.
Reiterated complaints being received from the Hanse Towns by the Emperor, he sent copies of their letters to the Queen, assuring her that he would decide nothing without her knowledge and until full enquiry had been made, but urging her to maintain the Hanses' privileges in her kingdom, and not sacrifice them to private persons or considerations (p. 587).
In the end, the business was postponed, to be discussed at the great Diet summoned by the Emperor to meet at Augsburg in 1582. George Gilpin, the agent for the Adventurers at Middelburg, was chosen to plead the cause of his Company against the Hanses, and although some objection was raised, on the ground that he was not a sufficiently dignified person and that a man of higher position would have succeeded better, he seems to have done as much as was possible under the circumstances. Besides his formal instructions, Walsingham gave Gilpin a letter of directions, laying especial emphasis on the point that although Queen Mary had certainly restored the privileges which her brother had, for “just cause,” resumed, yet she did so only during pleasure and revoked them within a year, owing to the “intolerable loss” they entailed upon her Exchequer. Also that Queen Elizabeth had “put them to the condition of her own subjects . . . giving them therein a greater prerogative than to all other strangers,” but that they, on the other hand, had used her subjects in their Hanse cities far more uncourteously than any other strangers (p. 593).
Mr. Butler states, in the Preface to his Calendar of 1582, that Gilpin's despatches from Augsburg are unfortunately missing; but he had, as before said, overlooked the volume containing papers relating to the Empire, in which—their proper place—these letters are duly to be found.
When the Diet opened, Gilpin had not yet reached Augsburg, but William Ashby was there, sent, it would seem, with a special view to the negotiations for the release of Daniel Rogers (captured on his way to the Emperor with letters in 1580). He wrote to Walsingham on June 18, announcing the arrival of many illustrious princes, and a fortnight later, describing the entrance of the Emperor and the opening of the Diet, and probably forwarded the detailed accounts of this ceremony which follow.
Gilpin was at Nuremberg on July 17, whence he despatched home what news of the Diet he was able to gather, and reached Augsburg apparently on the 29th. He at once requested audience of the Emperor, to present her Majesty's letters, but was told that the business of the Hanses would be one of the last points to be dealt in, and that his Majesty was so busy with matters of great weight that he could not yet attend to it (p. 621). Meanwhile, Gilpin “dealt” for Daniel Rogers with the Vice-Chancellor, who, having imparted the Queen's letters to the Emperor and Council, brought the reply that a letter was to be written to the Duke of Cleves, but that as for the Baron of Anholt in whose hands Rogers was) it was not even known what he was, or under whose jurisdiction. The Emperor wrote to the Queen to the same effect (pp. 622, 623). Her Majesty's letter touching the Hanses was sent to the Electors' place of meeting, and was to be copied and distributed to the other Estates. Gilpin found that the Emperor intended to appoint commissioners to hear both sides and report to the “general meeting,” which would then determine the matter.
As regards the business of Monsieur and the Low Countries, the Spanish King had put the matter so plausibly, that the Assembly would have agreed to his request to “countenance his action” against the French, had not a learned man argued with such force on the other side that he “fetched the matter about” and persuaded them to resolve upon a neutral policy, merely sending troops to defend the borders of the Empire against invasion by either party. Monsieur's own ambassadors had not yet arrived (some thought they had been purposely kept back by the Emperor), and if they delayed much longer, it was believed they would arrive too late, for the clergy, finding that they could not carry the King of Spain's point, were beginning to prepare for their departure (p. 624). The Emperor had used all possible means for that King's advantage, but without result. This question of the Low Countries was the 2nd “Article” to be put before the Diet. The first, viz., the subsidy demanded by the Emperor for defending the frontiers and supporting the war against the Turks, was granted by the nobles, but refused by the towns unless certain grievances were redressed. The Bishop of Mainz urged the Emperor to come to a quiet agreement with them, warning him that if any quarrel fell out about religion, those countries would be the scene of greater troubles and more “extreme wars” than any other had ever been. Some of the younger men there may have remembered his words, when nearly forty years later, they saw the beginning of the fulfilment of his prophecy. The other articles were referred to a Deputationstag to be held at Speier at the beginning of May following (pp. 628, 629).
In spite of Gilpin's efforts, the verdict as regards the Hanse towns was given against him. He complained that the Assembly never asked to hear what he could say, but proceeded to a resolution simply upon the complaint of the other party (p. 631). Upon Sept. 27 the Emperor gave his final answer, demanding the full restoration of all privileges and immunities formerly granted to the Hanse towns, in default of which he would act as befitted his Cæsarial office (p. 635). At the same time, he wrote a letter to the Queen, very courteously worded, but to the same purpose (p. 636). These were given to Gilpin on October 1, and on the same day the Emperor left Augsburg (p. 639).
As these documents were not sent across to England from Middelburg until Oct. 28, it is clear that no answer can have been received from the Queen, when, on Oct. 31, the Emperor wrote to Count Edzard of East Friesland, informing him that the Assembly at Augsburg had given judgment that, as the traffic of the English Adventurers tended to the overthrow of the Hanses' privileges, they were to be suffered no longer in the Empire, nor permitted to trade there by land or water. He was therefore to see to it that this intolerable and hurtful society was wholly displaced, with threat of the Imperial displeasure and punishment if he disobeyed (p. 640). On receipt of this letter, the Count sent for three of the English merchants at Embden, and complained to them of the great burden laid upon his back, and the “pains and charges” he had sustained in their defence. He marvelled that the Queen had not sent an envoy of consequence to Augsburg, as the King of Poland had done; for her messenger was said to be “but a notary or such like,” and, in consequence his message lightly esteemed. He read the Emperor's letter to them, desired to know what action her Majesty meant to take, and earnestly hoped that she would come to a speedy agreement with the Hanses, for otherwise he must proceed against the English, and their trade would be wholly “debarred,” both in Germany and the Low Countries. But he evidently asked for an extension of time from the Emperor, who, in reply, desired him to carry out his former orders, but wrote much less strongly than before, only saying that he should be forced to act in the matter if there were any further complaints from the Hanse towns (p. 663). This was in February, 1583. In March, the Emperor sent a remonstrance to the Queen, also couched in very mild language, reminding her that she had, as yet, neither restored the Hanses' privileges nor revoked her own subjects' monopolies, and praying her to do so without further delay (p. 672).
The establishment of a seat of English commerce at Elbing was not yet an accomplished fact, but seemed likely to be so shortly. On p. 667 is a letter from Walsingham to the Secretary of Poland, thanking him for the good will and zeal which he had shown in the matter and expressing the hope that there may not only be an alliance between their princes, but between themselves. “Let me,” he writes, “the Queen's secretary, make friends with you, the King's.” When, however, matters were thought to be almost settled, the Elbingers were disappointed to receive letters from the King saying that he could decide nothing until an envoy arrived from her Majesty, and he had heard “others interested” in the matter. By these others, the magistrates of Elbing feared he meant the men of Danzig, who, as they knew, were now using all means to have the intended “seat of affairs” transferred from Elbing to themselves. They therefore begged the Queen to send her envoy as quickly as possible, that everything might be completed before more mischief was done (p. 675). At the end of their letter they stated that the Papal legate in Poland had been circulating the letters of certain Jesuit priests, complaining of their cruel imprisonment and torture in England for their religion's sake. The magistrates of Elbing, believing these statements to be untrue, besought her Majesty to have her envoy instructed in the matter, that he might confute the accusations. It was perhaps these letters which led to the Polish King's appeal on behalf of Dr. Bosgrave, already alluded to.
In the spring of 1583, William Waad was sent on a mission to the Emperor. From Strasburg he reported to Walsingham that the nearer he came to the source of news, the greater uncertainty he found. The fresh election at Cologne was near at hand, but most of the canons “were of the Religion” and thus inclined to their old Archbishop. If, however, they “needs must,” to satisfy the Emperor, make new election, Waad thought that (from the Protestant point of view) they could not do better than choose the Bavarian Prince, because he was so hated at Liége that he was not likely to be a success at Cologne. A sad sight had met the eyes of the travellers as they passed through Lorraine, for the Duke had lately caught and hanged many of the French volunteers on their way to offer aid to the old Archbishop, so that the trees “were more laden with men than fruit.” A few days later, Waad wrote again from Ulm, where the general opinion was that the Cologne business would be “pacified” by Truchsess remaining, but taking the name of Administrator, a not unprecedented proceeding in Germany. A story, he said, was in circulation there that the Pope was much “struck” by the prophecies of certain “star men,” who declared that the present conjunction foretold the fall of Rome and end of the Papacy, and that Truchsess would be the instrument to beat down that great building. And these assertions, Waad characteristically asserted, were “better believed at Rome than the rock of that faith whereon they say their church standeth” (pp. 695, 696).
On June 7, the envoy had delivered the Queen's messages and letters to the Emperor, who wrote to her acknowledging their receipt, but deferred giving her an answer until the Estates of the Empire, to whom he had communicated both her Majesty's letters and the Hanses' complaints, had deliberated thereupon. On June 18 Waad was still at Vienna, but daily expected his despatch, having received kindly expressions of goodwill, but little assurance of satisfaction for the object of his mission (pp. 700, 702).
On p. 684 will be found a long discourse upon the state of the King of Navarre and his party. It was written in 1583 before Monsieur's return to France, probably in April, when Navarre made fresh overtures to the Queen for assistance.
At the end of the volume is a calendar of the “Treaty Papers” preserved at the Public Record Office, dating from 1579 (when the series begins) up to June, 1583. Want of space has prevented their being set out at any length, nor indeed was it necessary. They are, for the most part, drafts or notes for treaties which are to be found in print, and the brief catalogue sufficiently indicates their scope. But they afford matter of considerable interest to the students of these treaties, as showing the various stages by which Elizabeth's statesmen (by whom many of the papers were either written or corrected) brought their negotiations to a conclusion.
It is no light task to follow so accomplished a man of letters as Mr. A. J. Butler, and the present editor must plead for indulgence as regards the portion of the volume for which she is responsible (viz. the Addenda papers and the revision of the Index). The difficulty of her new task was increased by the large number of undated documents, which could not be so easily assigned to their true places as they might have been if she had calendared the papers of the period to which they belong, and she cannot hope that in all cases she has been successful.
The Index has been prepared by Miss R. Butler, now Mrs. Andrew Hunt.
From various causes, there has been great delay in the appearance of this volume, but the text of the succeeding one is already through the press, and it is hoped that it may be issued very shortly.
S. C. Lomas.