Elizabeth: January 1585, 11-15

Pages 234-243

Calendar of State Papers Foreign: Elizabeth, Volume 19, August 1584-August 1585. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1916.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. All rights reserved.

Please subscribe to access the page scans

This volume has gold page scans.
Access these scans with a gold subscription.Key icon

January 1585, 11–15

Jan. 12/22. Copy of the Letters Patents by which Henry III erects the dignity of Colonel General of the Infantry into an office of the Crown of France in the person of the Due d'Espernon.—Paris, in Parlement, 22 January, 1585.
Prewritten, on the same sheet.
Copy of letters of the King, erecting Espernon into a Duchy and peerage of France.—Paris, in Parlement, 27 November, 1581.
Endd. Fr. 6 pp. [France XIII. 7.]
Jan. 12. [Burghley?] to Stafford.
Her Majesty has to-day conferred with me on your last letters to Mr. Secretary, and as he is absent through indisposition, has willed me to declare what she wishes you to do in the great cause now in hand; it being very likely that by this time the deputies have had audience.
Her Majesty—being advertised that these deputies have commission to require aid of the King against the cruelties of the King of Spain and his ministers, and for that purpose to offer him the sovereignty of those countries, so far as they remain united, in as ample sort as the Emperor Charles V held the same, with certain restrictions for maintenance of their liberties— “hath great cause to doubt the event of this offer,” finding the restrictions so prejudicial to his authority as a sovereign prince as to bring about either delay or refusal; and so the countries may be without succour and forced to yield to a composition with Spain. Or else that the King may accept it with the hard conditions in hope to alter them to his profit, or to enter into possession of the countries, and upon pretence of some breaches of the conditions, to make a bargain with the King of Spain to his own profit and betray the countries into his hands.
Therefore she would have the matter “well foreseen” before it is concluded, and as it is very hard to give any directions until she knows how the treaty proceeds, you are to renew to the King such messages as heretofore you had in charge to deliver to him concerning this matter, to which you had answer that he would declare his mind when he had heard what the deputies had to require and offer.
Now therefore, you shall require the King, according to this his promise, to let you know his mind “for your former messages,” as to the joining of his Majesty and the Queen in defence of those countries from the oppression of Spain, and to prevent the increase of that King's greatness; repeating to him his own former message, that it is a matter “both just before God and honourable in the sight of the world, and profitable for both the realms of France and England,”; praying him to acquaint her Majesty with the offers and requests before any end be made, and so procure a stay of proceeding until she is further advertised from you; promising in her name that there shall be no delay in her answer.
You shall do well so to deal with the King that, “as near as you may,” neither des Pruneaux nor the deputies may think that you “speak to withdraw the King's goodwill from the aid of those countries”; and if you find any such opinion conceived, you may affirm that her Majesty is so desirous to have them aided that she offers to join with the King, in proportion to her power. And if you find any offence conceived by the deputies against her, that she has not only forborne to succour them herself, but will not allow them to seek aid from this King; you may say that it is notorious that all this past summer her Majesty, both by you and the French ambassador here, has solicited the King “to be content that they both might jointly attempt all manner of ways to withstand the Spanish King's aspiring greatness in the Low Countries . . . and to restore the country and people to an assured peace.”
You shall also, if you discover any intent to abuse them of the Low Countries by retaining them in hope without firm intent to succour them or with intent to betray them, cause them to be admonished thereof, yet so as your doings therein be not discovered by others; for in very truth, “her Majesty wisheth them to be helped without any respect of profit to herself,” as may be proved by the aids they have had out of England both of men and money, for many years.
But before speaking to the King as directed, you shall seek to understand how he is minded, and if you perceive that he is not willing to aid the States, or that without their yielding more to him he will not accept their offers, you shall not say anything to stay him, but only that you had charge to “remember” him how necessary it is, by aiding of the States, to abate the dangerous greatness of the King of Spain, and that you know her Majesty will be glad to hear in what sort he will do it; for that she will be ready to join with him in any reasonable sort for these good purposes, and so use all the means you may to get him to favour their cause.” For although it may be greatly misliked to have the French King become an absolute lord of the country, yet rather than he should now reject them, and so give courage to the Spaniard, it were better that he should accept of the offers and enter into war with the King of Spain for the Low Countries, wherein he must have a long time before he can achieve such an enterprise as to be absolute lord of all the Low Countries, during which length of time many opportunities may fall out to stop his greatness that way; and nothing more shall retard him than the holding of the great towns in Holland and Zeeland out of his hands, as it is likely they shall be so kept.
And so you see what her Majesty desires and I doubt not but you will wisely and circumspectly direct all your actions to that purpose.
Copy. Endd., with date. 5½ pp. [France XIII. 8.]
Jan. 12/22. Two copies of a resolution of the States General concerning debts and arrears.—The Hague, 22 Jan., 1585.
Certified copies by C. Aerssens, made in 1586.
Flemish. 2 pp. each. [Holland I. 4, 5.]
Jan. 12/22. Declaration, in pursuance of the request of the States General to his Excellency that the share to be contributed by each Province might be fixed, according to their ability, that the said shares shall be as follows :—
Brabant 21,006l. 0s. 10d.
Guelderland 8,307l. 13s. 10d.
Flanders 23,076l. 18s. 6d.
Holland 33,541l. 18s. 6d.
Utrecht 3,388l. 1s. 8d.
Mechlin 677l. 12s. 2d.
Friesland 8,307l. 13s. 10d.
Over Yssel 1,694l. 0s. 8d.
Total 100,000l.
Collated with the original by M. de Hennin.
Flemish. 2 pp. [Holland I. 6.]
Jan. 13/23. Adrian De Sara Via to Davison.
“Grace and peace by our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Being now returned home, I have enquired concerning the little book said to have been scattered in this town and elsewhere. I send you the ordinance of Messieurs [the magistrates] published here and put up on the doors of all the churches and other public places. I have not been able to procure any of the booklets, but Mr. Lipsius has told me all the contents. It is not new, as was thought, for the first copies were brought here at least a year and a half ago. The author is one Jehan van den Berghe, who wrote to a friend at Antwerp his opinion on the state of these countries, saying many evil things of the late Prince of Orange. As to the Queen of England, he does not touch her honour except by saying that she has not the means to succour these countries; and having served formerly in the finances of the Emperor Charles and of King Philip in the time of Queen Mary, he writes upon the finances of England, concluding that it is folly to hope for any aid from that side. He does not mention the French King except casually; that seeing he is a Catholic King, it cannot be thought that he will take heretics into his protection and make war upon the King of Spain. His final conclusion is that peace should be made with Spain.
As to what I said to you of the Duke of Parma's confiscations of the goods of those in Flanders who have died under the displeasure of the King, it is thus :—Those who daily retire from Flanders affirm unanimously that he only shows grace to the children who succeed to their parents' property, but that all that is inherited by brothers, sisters or any other kinsmen is demanded by the fiscal.
I must leave the question of the diversity of sects here to another time, and only thank you very affectionately for the kindness you have shown me.—Leyden, 23 January, 1585, stilo novo.
Add. Endd. Fr. 1 p. [Ibid. I. 7.]
Jan. 14. Stafford to Walsingham.
The deputies are stayed by the King at St. Lis [Senlis], until he has ended his devotions at the Bois de Vincennes, for fear of harm happening to them by practice of the Spanish ambassador, and in the meantime he has sent to them one of his chief Maistre d'hostels to salute them from him and to make them the best cheer he could, with assurance that when he came out, they should be very welcome to him; as their coming and its cause were very grateful. I am assured by one who heard him, that he said “that now it should be seen what the Queen of England would do, when it came to the point, that had so often pressed him to this matter.”
Therefore some, well affectioned to the matter, urged me to seek audience and say something, as from her Majesty, to hearten him; but I made the same answer I have done before, “that my mouth was stopped by the King's own commandment to me, and also by the speeches that his ambassador in England had delivered by his commandment to her Majesty : that till the deputies were come he could say nothing,” therefore I could only wait for what it should please him to deliver me, when I would use as much affection in advertising her Majesty as if it were important for her own service, and knew they would find her “nothing colder than she was” in seeking to bridle the Bang of Spain's greatness.
I am certainly told that the King is “put in a mind” (as I think) by Mauvissière, that my lord of Derby will have something to say about those matters, and that the Parliament in England was assembled to no other purpose. To which I answered, that for anything I knew, my lord of Derby had no such commission, and that I thought they were deceived about the Parliament, those affairs being commonly resolved on in private council. I answered thus (besides that I know of no such charge) to give no occasion to the King “to linger the hearing of them, upon colour that he expecteth something from her Majesty,” as also that his hearing of and answer to them would give light what hope to conceive of his proceedings, and so help her Majesty and her Council in their course of dealing in the matter.
But in truth, I think he is glad of any colour to delay the hearing of them as long as he can, and so leave you to judge what hope there is of an honourable resolution in a matter that desires speed and no protracting of time, which we here seek and nothing else.
In trifles, the King takes pains enough, for the last day he went to the first president, the other presidents and the counsellors of the Parlement, “to desire them to make no difficulty to receive the Duke Epernon into the Parliament house to take his oath of Colonel of the Infantry, as an officer of the crown,” which it never before was, adding “that in this they pleasured him more than in any thing, for he loved Epernon as his brother; and when Epernon gave him open thanks for this, he told him afore all the company, it was nothing in respect of that he would do for him; that he loved him as his brother, and would, if he could, make him as good as himself; and commanded as many as loved him to accompany him to the parlement when he took his oath; whereupon he was accompanied with two hundred at the least of quality upon foot-cloths. His friends gave out that he was gone to be made Grand Senechal of France, which he hath been long shooting at, but still kept back by his fellow's means.”
It was strange to me when Pinard told me the King had sent to Mauvissière to tell her Majesty that my lord of Derby should be very welcome and received with all honour for her sake; seeing that from me they never heard any such thing, and that I was not advertised (but by bruit) of when he should depart, which I thought, when resolved upon, I should hear. Pinard said the ambassador of Ferrara had told it the King, and that he wished he might be here before Shrovetide, that the ceremony he meant to use for his reception might be ended before Lent.—Paris, 14 January, 1584.
Postscript in his own hand.—Even now I hear for a truth that the King last night said that the Duke Montpensier should be employed in this matter of the Low Countries and that he would hearken to it; but I scarcely believe it was spoken, and as little believe the mood will continue if it were, so little stability is there here in our resolutions. Also (I hear) that whatever the King says, he will not hear the deputies till my lord of Derby come, of whom he expects great matter from her Majesty.
Add. Endd.pp. [France XIII. 9.]
Jan. 14. [Burghley] to Davison.
Since the receipt of your letters, with copies of the Instructions to the deputies sent into France, there has been nothing to write of until now that we hear of their arrival and their access shortly looked for at the court, but we have yet no other advertisement thence but that about the beginning of this month des Pruneaux had been with the King and obtained audience for them. And as it is doubtful, as you yourself have wisely discoursed, what good may come of this aid from France if it be granted, and what danger if it be granted with dissimulation or after delays rejected :— “Her Majesty, considering how it doth import her to have these Low Countries preserved, either from conquest by the King of Spain or [so] (fn. 1) intruded into by the French King [as he should become the lord of the whole Low Countries] . . . hath heretofore at divers time offered to the French King to join with him in the succouring [and protection] of the States against the King of Spain, for recovering of their [full] liberties [and to have a sure peace], thereby to avoid the absolute possession of the French”; but that King always answered that he was expecting these deputies, and when he had heard what they required and offered, he would determine with her Majesty upon their cause. But if he like their offers, he will enterprise the matter only for himself, and seek to be absolute lord of those countries, “which if he should attain to (though it be very doubtful [how or in what time he shall so do]); yet if fortune should so favour him [by any mischance to the King of Spain], he might be more dangerous to this crown in time coming than could the King of Spain.
“And [also] if he like not of their offers, because of the restrictions of his power [in many parts],” then the countries are in worse case than ever by this delay and vain hope, and most likely to submit to Spain. Therefore there appears to her Majesty no better way than that the countries might be succoured [and protected] jointly by herself and the French King, “proportionally [for her part], according to the difference of their greatnss, and so . . . they might be able to win time [wherein many accidents may ensue]” and to recover such a peace as might bring surety with it : or else [in time] (which were the best) [of all the rest] to [recover] (over win erased) the States of the contrary side, being called the Malcontents, [that they might] relinguish the government of the Spaniards and strangers, and like good patriots to reunite themselves all together again. . . .
“And to this purpose, it is thought the time [now present] might serve well, both because the Prince of Orange is dead, whose singularity in government, or rather popularity, the Malcontents disliked, and also seeing the French King likely to enter into the government of all those countries, [a matter plausible almost to none of the country and] whereby the war must needs be continued longer, and the end more uncertain.” Wherefore, her Majesty has willed me to impart these purposes to you, that you may use persuasions with such as have credit there and are not corrupted by the French, to devise how the French may be stayed from acquiring absolute dominion of those countries [and to make some assay how the principal heads of the Malcontents might be recovered].
And if it be objected that unless they admit the French King to absolute dominion, he will not aid them, and then they must yield to the Spaniard, it may be answered that rather than they should be wholly subjected either to France or Spain, her Majesty would give them what aid she reasonably could and it might be hoped that the French King would in some sort join with her, and therefore she would have you procure that there be no remission of the restrictions, and if the French King accept their offers with those restrictions, the peril will be less, “as long as they can [hold their restraints and] withstand the breach thereof.”
It may also be shown to the States that the government of the French is likely to prove as cumbersome and perilous as that of the Spaniards; and that it may be doubted how they will keep covenants with them, when opportunity offers to break them; “so as in conclusion [her Majesty thinketh that] no good can be looked for . . . by yielding this large authority to the French; who, if they [shall] continue their title by this grant [to be absolute lords], there is no end [of long time] to be expected of the war; and [contrary wise] if they break off, there is no end of any good composition with the King of Spain.”
These things being imparted to you by her Majesty's command, “you are, by your own wisdom [to consider] with whom to deal for the stay of this French course;” and yet so that the French faction there may not advertise it into France, as has already appeared by some speeches between our ambassador and des Pruneaux “that you are had in some jealousy there as a hinderer of this French course, and a worker for her Majesty to have some entrance and partage in that country, but our ambassador by his answer hath satisfied him to the King the contrary.”
(The following paragraph is entirely in Burghley's hand.
“We hear that the King of Spain hath a treaty or practice with the towns of Hamborough and other stedes of those parts, to tempt them, upon some great rewards, to have their ports and shipping at his commandment,” which would enable him mightily to “offend” the maritime countries of Holland and Zeeland. Wherefore you will do well to enquire of the truth of it, and to deal with the politic men there to hinder it by all means possible, for if the King had the use of those ports and shipping, “he will not only stop the relief of those maritime countries from the east, but will also be able to enter into the ports of Holland and Zeeland and do that by sea that by land he should never do.”
Draft. Endd. “To Mr. Davison.” 4 pp. [Holland I. 8.]
Fair copy of the above.
Endd. “1584, Jan. 14. To Mr. Davison.” 4½ pp. [Ibid. I. 9.]
Jan. 14. Walsingham to Davison.
My lord Treasurer made me acquainted with his despatch before sealing it up. “Sorry I am to see the course that is taken in this weighty cause, for we will neither help these poor distressed countries ourselves nor yet suffer others to do it. I am not ignorant that in time to come the annexing of these countries to the crown of France may prove prejudicial to England, but if France refuse to deal with them . . . then shall they be forced to return into the hands of Spain, which is like to breed such a present peril towards her Majesty's self, as never a wise man as seeth it and loveth her [but] lamenteth it from the bottom of his heart.” I could wish the French King had that honourable mind for the defence of these countries that she has, “but France hath not been used to do things for God's sake; neither do they mean to use either our advice or assistance in the making of the bargain.” Besides, the King is not so forward in the matter but that the least crossing may draw him to abandon it; for they still believe that when Spain and they are together by the ears we shall seek to work .our own peace; and therefore I think her Majesty (with reverence be it spoken) is ill-advised to direct you in a course likely to work such peril.
I know you will do your best endeavour to keep things upright; yet it is hard, the disease being come to what physicians term the ' crisin ' [sic] to so carry yourself but that it will breed a dangerous alteration in the cause; for your doings are observed by the French faction, and you cannot proceed so closely but it will be espied. And seeing that direction grows from hence, we can only blame ourselves if the effect does not fall out to our liking.
We hear that as soon as the Spanish ambassador heard of the arrival of the commissioners, he dealt very passionately with the King and Queen Mother to deny them audience, “who being greatly offended with his presumptuous and malapert manner of proceeding,” the King with sharp speeches let him understand that he was an absolute King, accountable to no man, and might give access to any in his own realm who sought it. Queen Mother also answered him very roundly, and he departed much discontented. It was doubted whether their audience should be public or private; whether they should all have access or only some of them, wherein des Pruneaux was appointed to deal with them, but they answered that being joined in one commission, they desired to have joint audience.—London, 14 January, 1584.
Signed. Add. Endd.pp. [Holland I. 10.]
Draft of the first part of the above, corrected by Walsingham.
Endd.pp. [Ibid. I. 11.]
[Jan. 14/24] Col. Morgan to Walsingham.
Our estate here is very hard. Brussels holds out, but in great extremity, for nothing can get in but what is privily conveyed on horses by night. Yet I think it may “hold” some five or six months. Mechlin as yet is well. This town is as when I last wrote. The enemy lies strong upon the river, and this day, being January 24, they came with eight ships of war nearly to Antwerp. Also this day, news is come of the defeat of Count Hollock, “who minded to surprise 'Sertigon Busse' [i.e. s'Hertogenbosch] and were entered the town with some 1,300 foot and four cornets of horse, which, by great oversight were all put to the sword,” but we know no particularities as yet.
For ourselves, I have been hardly dealt with since my coming, but now the States promise me garrison and to use me well, and have mustered my regiment. Some of my captains “minded” on receipt of this pay to go to the enemy, having got the Prince of 'Parma's passport, which I send you enclosed, with their confessions and a copy of their oaths taken to me in England. It was my good hap to find out their pretence, which if they had gone through with, very few of us in the town would have escaped with life. They will very shortly have their deserts.
The rest of my news I refer to my cousin Powell, the bearer of this.—[Antwerp, January 24.]
Signed. Add. Endd. 1 p. [Ibid. I. 12.]
Jan. 14/24. Sieur De Ryhove to his daughter, Jehenne De La Kethulle.
Thanking her for her anxiety about his health, which no sooner began to improve than gout laid hold on him, by which he is much tormented. As soon as it is a little better, he will come to see her and to kiss the hands of the Princess.
He has as yet, no comfort from the States and is destitute of all means. He can sell the few rings he has, and when he has eaten those, will have nothing at all. When he is with Madame, he will pray her to speak a good word for him to Count Maurice and the States, and hopes God will have pity on him.—Delft, 24 January, 1585.
Add. to his daughter, Jehenne de Kethulle, at the Princess of Orange's lodgings at Leyden. Fr. ¾ p. [Holland I. 13.]
Jan. 15. Stafford to the Privy Council.
This bearer has been again very earnestly recommended by the King, and at his request, though I have already sent their complaints to Mr. Secretary, I could not but give him this letter to your lordships; signifying that the Council here had agreed to let them have letters of mark, as may appear by the resultats of the Council which I have sent to Mr. Secretary. I demanded audience for the stay of them, but the King sent M. Pinard to me with the declaration of what had been agreed upon, as a thing thought very reasonable; yet he had such affection to her Majesty that he would let no letter of mark pass to the dommage of her subjects without first sending to her “to demand reason,” which, as he had done by his ambassador, commanding him to move her Majesty for them, so he desired me to send letters to your honours; “which in respect of his request and the importance that letters of mark granted might bring between princes that be in good amity,” I have been bold to do.—Paris, 15 January, 1584.
Add. Endd. 1 p. [France XIII. 10.]


  • 1. The words within square brackets are inserted by Burghley.