Elizabeth: April 1585, 6-10

Pages 404-412

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

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April 1585, 6–10

April 8/18. Clervant to Walsingham.
As Mr. Waad (M. de Vat) is well informed of all the news here and the state of affairs, I shall not make you a long discourse, but only pray you to maintain her Majesty in her affection and goodwill to our affairs, and in the good intelligence which she has with the King of Navarre our master, who desires nothing so much as to have part in her friendship and favour.—Paris, 18 April, 1585.
Add. Endd. Fr. ¾ p. [France XIII. 94.]
April 8/18. Capt. Van Asseliers to Walsingham.
Although I have been negligent in writing, my heart and service have ever been at your honour's commandment. I sent you a “card” [chart] touching the besieging of Antwerp, how and in what order the river is stopped by the enemy, since which, those of Holland and Zeeland have got four of the enemy's forts, expecially the Doel and Lyfkenshoeck, which stand us in great stead. The other two lie “a little within the land, also commodious.''
We have news that her Majesty will, for God's cause, be our defendrix, which not only the best request, but also the poor oppressed commons desire. The Earl of Hollock is here at Lyfkenshoeck, “by whom we wait every hour to be commanded to service.” The enemy has broken quarter and published not to take man, woman or child to ransom, but all to be put to the sword.—Garrison at Lillo, 18 April, stilo novo, 1585.
Postscript.—I gave Mr. Gilpin the card to send you. I have also sent you the copy of a letter from the burgomaster of Ghent to the burgomaster of Bruges, “touching the spoiling of their men about Calloo by a burning ship sent by them of Antwerp.”
Add. Endd. 1 p. [Flanders I. 14.]
April 8/18. Capt. William Marten to Walsingham.
Colonel Morgan's captains have for the most part not a little marvelled at the Colonel's long delay, considering the strait commandment he received to retire, and the means you allowed for our transporting. We did thereupon—after returning from the last service at the opening of the bridge, and upon letters from Mr. Gilpin “that no further means for money was” until Captain “Lucker's” return—desire to know his resolution, why he did not follow your honour's commandment. He said he would answer anything he did, and was not to make us privy to his intention. We offered, if he would depart, to bring our companies to Bergen-op-Zoom upon our own charges, in despite of the enemy, and to leave money for the relief of the sick men until further order might be taken for them; but he said “he knew not how to answer if they should be cut off by the enemy.” Then we desired to know, would he go or stay. “His flat answer was that he would stay, and desired us to give our resolution in writing under our hands.” Then Captains Morrys, Lyttelton and myself gave our resolutions that we would follow him no longer unless he would obey her Majesty's direction, as appears by the note herein enclosed; “wherewith he was highly offended, and 'stobled' with his dagger at Capt. Lyttelton and caused his sword to be taken from him, and said he would hang us all; and another of his friends . . . struck at old Capt. Morrys with his dagger, but as the Lord would, I stayed his arm and so defended the blow; and therewith we departed the chamber and all things kept secret.”
Then the soldiers which had lain on shipboard for eight days returned to the quarters again, and being behind for their allowance of victuals during these eight days, which he had promised to pay them on their return from that service, he sent them fourpence a man; but they, seeing he brake promise, would not receive it, nor stay any longer; “at the which he commanded us out among them, the which we did, using persuasions among them; and he, remaining in great rage within the town, spake in the presence of some of the soldiers, that if the burgers would be ruled by him, he would lead them out to cut all their throats; at which news, the soldiers used larger speeches than they did before, and so remained that night standing upon their guard.
“And I with the sergeant-major sent in his provost-marshal to persuade him to use better words to soldiers in their extremities, and to send them now some relief, who had got none in two days before; he sent them word that he would famish them all, and that he would proclaim all that would depart to be traitors both in England and here. So answer was made that those were traitors who did not follow her Majesty's direction, and not those who determined to follow it, and so this being the third day without victuals, at night the soldiers withdrew themselves to follow your honour's direction, regarding not which way they went, so they might have their bellies filled; but I persuaded them all saving one hundred of the best soldiers among them, who departed and took a house of strength without the quarter, and so the next morning, being the fourth day without victuals, they sent two gentlemen to persuade the Colonel to forgive them and to send them in victuals. But he answered that he would have them deliver him ten such men as he would name unto them to be executed, and the rest to ask mercy upon their knees and to be disarmed, offering them victuals and so to depart.” And I being sent by some of the captains to persuade them to stay, “found them ready to go to the, enemy, only for hunger's sake and for passage.” I persuaded them rather to march to Bergen in the night and I would lead them, where we arrived the next morning, and the Colonel had sent letters to Barrow for their stay, so I came to the States at Middelburg, who have ordered them into the service of the fleet by Lillo, there to remain out of pay, serving for victuals, until your honour's further pleasure be known.
I beseech you not to condemn captains and men who will follow your direction unto the death, but to write letters to command him to le[ave ?] his wrath towards those who have no otherwise offended than is here mentioned. I will not enlarge on twenty other wrongs used by the Colonel to his captains, which shall appear when occasion serves. He is most aggrieved with me of all, because I have been most earnest with him to follow her Majesty's directions.
As for the state of Antwerp, the enemy has fortified so strongly that their ships cannot possibly remove him; for he bends haft his force to defend the scance of Calloo, upon the Flanders' side of the bridge, and the other half on the Brabant side, which is full of scances, so that one hundred men can defend it from five hundred. In my opinion, the only way to clear the river is to have a camp of six or seven thousand men to march from Bergen-op-Zoom to the village of Staoobrcke, at the end of the 'Cowstean' dyke, to fortify themselves strongly and so take the enemy's succour and victuals from them. And the like camp to march from Sluys in Flanders through the land of Waes to the village of Calloo, and there fortify themselves, that the enemy might be so penned in that no succours or victuals could come to them. These camps might be victualled on both sides by water, “and although the bridge were clear, yet hardly could any ships pass, because there is two hundred pieces of artillery which will play upon them; and none can pass but in great storms, which is seldom in summer.”—The fleet by Lillo, 18 April, stylo novo.
In his own hand.—Having occasion to stay in Flushing “for ordinance touching the soldiers above mentioned, by a letter of stay I was made prisoner,” wherefore I pray your letter of redress to Count Maurice, the causes of my imprisonment being no other than I have here set down.
Add. Endd. 3 pp. [Flanders I. 15.]
The Resolution mentioned in the letter.
For that Col. Morgan is commanded by the Council of England, in her Majesty's name, to retire home with his troops, who have given means for our transport, we the captains of his former regiment whose names are underwritten, profess by our faith and allegiance to follow him so long as he follows her Majesty's commands and no longer, without more delays or attempts against any save her Majesty's enemies, or further command from the Council.
Copy, without signatures. ½ p. [Ibid. I. 15a.]
April 9/19. Gervase Elweys to Walsingham.
Has nothing to present to him save his duty, for which, because of Mr. Waad's being there, he the more willingly takes the occasion. Is willing either to stay where he is or to go where he may best do his honour service. “If these wars go forward, because there is no safety in travelling,” he has great desire to bestow his time “(rather than live idle) in seeing them” [sic], but in all things will follow his commands.—Paris, 19 April.
Add. Endd. ½ p. [France XIII. 95.]
April 9/19. Joos de Zoote [Seigneur de Villers] to Walsingham.
I have seen your letter ordering Capt. Wilson to go to you, and have obtained a passport for him from the Council of State, with a month and a half's pay, he having been, since he was cassed, entertained and paid by the Council; not doubting that he will do you good service, having during the wars here conducted himself here as well and faithfully as any other captain. And if there are any there bearing hate or jealousy towards him, because, since Col. Morgan's regiment was reduced to one company he has been kept in our service, it was not by his own demand, but at the request of Count Hohenloe and myself. I pray you to favour and advance him as so honest and valiant a captain deserves.—Utrecht, 19 April, 1585, stilo novo.
Add. Fr. 1 p. [Holland I. 97.]
April 10. Stafford to Walsingham.
The news of the death of the Pope is worth sending, “both because of God's handy work in it, that will still have a stroke in all the enterprises of this world, as also that her Majesty may know it, and how much she is beholding to God to let her see a short end of him that had practised the end of her so lately. I do think . . . that this will be a shrewd stay to these new enterprises here, for though popes be as the serpent, that his head being cut off, another riseth in the place,” and that the King of Spain has such a party at Rome that the new Pope will be at his devotion, yet time is a great matter, and I think this will be longer than usual, for that all princes that see the King of Spain's greatness will endeavour either to hinder or linger the election of any at his devotion. There is speech here of a prophecy that there shall be much ado in the choosing of this Pope, and that none will be elected this two years.
When the news came, the day before yesterday, the King commanded the Cardinals Joyeuse and Vendosme to get ready to depart, but they were not gone last night, and some have “persuaded” the King not to let Cardinal Vendosme go.
Last night there came a very long letter from the Queen Mother to the King. None know the “effects” of it, but the King presently sent for his counsellors, and declared to them “that the Queen Mother could do no good; that they did fly the tilt; and that the Duke of Lorraine was come to her but that the Dukes of Guise and Mayne were retired to Nancy and would not come at her; though she had at that instant presently again sent unto them, but hoped a cold answer. That they were only contented to relent from asking the depriving of the two mignons from the King's favour and meddling with the 'tailles' and taxes of the people. . . . Whereupon Chiverny and Villequier counselled the King with great instance to make a peace, whatsoever it cost him and with what conditions soever it were.
“The King answered with great choler in show, that they were best counsel him to put off his hose and his shirt, and being stript stark naked, give them with his own hand a rod to whip himself withal. That he would speak nothing till they were disarmed; that being done, he would consent to any reasonable petition they would make, but that he meant not to be a colour to defeat them under his authority that had not offended him, to leave them armed, after the defeat of them, to defeat him and use him as they listed; that that was but a way to defer his harm and perchance to make it worse, when they should have the opportunity and nobody to let them.” I think the King spake as he meant, but the world is so bad that small credit is given to any speeches. “One thing doth marvellously mislike me,” the Queen Mother writing so much to the King and he to her with their own hands, his communicating it to no one and sending it only by Miron his first physician, “the only trust of his life and soul.”
One who came to me yesterday confirmed the news about the Dukes, and said that besides four hundred men that Otteford has in Chalons, left there by the Duke of Guise to guard the town; and Grandprè left in Mezières with two hundred, and Forian left in Rheims with three hundred, they have not six hundred men in all of their side together; nor any great haste seen of any of quality to come to them; “but the King is so much betrayed within himself that every score is made to him a thousand, and jealousy put into his head of every town in France to be ready to take their part, which in truth is not so,” but indeed for lack of good order which the King should have given at the beginning, when the chief of the towns came to know his pleasure (and were sent away but with general terms to keep themselves well), I think it will fall out that most of the towns will hold themselves, without receiving garrison from either side, to see who will be strongest and then choose the part they shall think best.
I am certainly assured (and it is confirmed out of the Spanish ambassador's house) that the King of Spain has already advanced money for the levy, and also advanced a month's pay, which is 150,000 crowns, but will give no more till he have the towns promised him put into his hands, viz. Metz, Toul and Verdun, and promise to do their best for Cambray. This Epernon gave out yesterday, and also “that when they would come to a peace they shall not. All the good that is in that man is that he is very vehement against them and their action; though it be not with the good mind it should be, it may serve to a good effect.”
A friend of mine yesterday talked with a counsellor (fn. 1) of the King very privately, of the means and helps the King might have, and at last fell upon the Queen's offer, asking his opinion of the King's acceptation of it. The counsellor said that the King accepted very kindly of it, but durst not answer more particularly for the same cause that “letted” him to answer the offer of those of the Religion, viz., that all the Catholics would fall into a jealousy of his intentions; but if her Majesty would help them with what they chiefly wanted, money, it might be done secretly, and the King would be greatly beholding to her.
The other asked if they had demanded any such thing of me. He answered, no, as they feared being denied. I think the counsellor used this speech expressly that I might be told of it and that they might gather whether there were any hope of their obtaining it. Therefore, being assured of the honesty of the man, I dealt plainly with him, saying that I thought the Queen would be very ill-counselled if on such uncertainties she should put her money into their hands “whom she could not tell whether they might agree among themselves either to hurt her friends or perchance enterprise against herself, and so, being disfurnished of her own, furnish others” to hurt her, but I thought if the King would accept the aid of them of the Religion, whom she could trust, she would spare no reasonable thing to help him and them both. Telling him, however, to say to him that had spoken to him, that I could give no answer till I heard what they demanded, and then I would make her Majesty acquainted with it, who I was sure would show that she would spare nothing to do the King good.
Yesterday, in Council, almost every one agreed that the King must of necessity let this war fall upon them of the Religion. Bellièvre stood against them all, saying there were two causes why the King should not take that advice, “the one, the great blot of reputation it would be to him the breach of his edicts without any cause given; that if it were but extinguishing them of the Religion, he could give his consent unto it easily, but to give the King counsel so much to blot his reputation he would not,” besides which, he saw not how the King could hope more easily to do it now than hitherto. The other reason was that if it were to be done, the King must let none be the executioner of it but himself; that the other side must first disarm, and then, calling the States together, if by public consent it were agreed upon, the King to have the honour and glory of doing it, which now other men would carry away, and the King have no thanks when it was found he had done it by constraint of those in arms.
The King “marvellously allowed” of this answer, and seems bent to that course, but it is thought the other will not consent, believing, if once disarmed, they would never dare to come where the King is the strongest, who will always inwardly hate them.
Copy, sent to Burghley “by Mr. Philipps,” and endorsed by him. 4 pp. [France XIII. 96.]
April 10/20. The King Of Navarre to Walsingham.
Monsieur de Walsingham, Vous pourrez voir par celle que j'escrya la Reyne vostre maistresse, (fn. 2) le discours que je luy fay sur le calamiteux estat auquel nous sommes, ayans ceulx de la maison de Guyse au mesme instant que l'on vouloit traicter avec les depputez des Pays bas descouvert leurs ligues et leurs desseigns. Mais encor que l'entreprinse ayt reussy pour ce regard sy ne veullent ils pas demeurer en si beau chemin, ains pour employer les grands deniers qu'ilz out receu du roy d'Espaigne, taschent de servir tellement a sa grandeur et a l'authorite du Pape qu'ilz puissent exterminer nostre Religion et me dejecter tout ensemble du degré qui m'appartient. Ayans sy bien parfumé d'esperence la vieillesse de ce bon homme Monsieur le Cardinal mon oncle qu'ils le font appeller premier prince du sang et heritier presomptif de cette couronne; chose ridicule, estant le roy mon seigneur (qui n'a pas la moytie de son age) en si bonne santé, Dieu mercy, qu'il n'y a nulle apparance de penser a sa succession. Cependant, le mal est tel qu'estant fomenté par les moyens et l'argent que le roy d'Espaigne suggere, il est a craindre que cest estat tumbast en des symptomes qui pourroyent causer sa dissolucion, qui n'y apporteroit promptement les remeddes convenables, pour lesquels, puis que tout retumbe sur moy, je suis resolu de ne rien espargner au cas que le roy mondict seigneur n'y employe les moyens qu'il a en main. Apres lesquels n'ayant de rien tant besoing que de la faveur et assistance de la reyne vostre maistresse, laquelle je m'asseure ne voudroit voir perdre devant ses yeulx un prince qui luy a voué tant d'amityé et de service, je n'ay voulu faillir a recourir a sa bonté. Et sachant l'affection que portez non seulement a moy mais a tout ce qui deppend de la gloire de Dieu, estant ceste cause commune et conjoincte, j'ay bien voulu aussy, attendant une plus ample depesche, vous escrire cestecy pour vous prier, Monsieur a Walzingan, vouloir seconder ses bonnes volontez et moyenner qu'elles soyent suivyes des effectz dignes de sa grandeur et puissance. Ce que je recognoistray avec aultres infinys bons offices que j'ay receu de vous, en pryant Dieu vous avoir, Monsieur de Walzingan, en sa saincte et digne garde. de Bragerac, ce xx d'Avril, 1585.”
In his own hand.—“V~re byen afectyone amy, Henry.”
Seal of arms with crown. Add. Endd.pp. [France XIII. 97.]
April 10/20. Segur-pardeilhan to Walsingham.
I thought to find the state of France more peaceful, and not that the leaguers would be so near to setting off the fireworks which they had prepared for us, as they show themselves to be; not that I doubted of their ill-will, but I should never have thought they would have so hurried on its execution. They wish to begin by vomiting their rage upon us, though they bear no better feeling to the Queen your mistress and to the protestant princes; but by ruining us, they think they would get the rest more cheaply. But God will rather let fall back upon their heads the evil which they prepare for us, and to this end, it is needful that all good men unite together to oppose their cursed enterprise.
The King of Navarre is come hither to provide against their surprising any of our places, and will, I am sure, put such order here that they will gain nothing.
I pray you still to have a kindly feeling for that King; now is the time when honest men should show their good affection and I am convinced that you will always do your part in what concerns God's glory.—Bergerac, 20 April, 1585.
Postscript in his own hand.—Is sending very shortly to the Queen; this is only to pray for aid in their affairs.
Add. Endd. Fr. 1 p. [Ibid. XIII. 98.]
April 10. Stafford to Walsingham.
Clervant was he that came to me with those speeches that I writ to you in my other letter, and I answered as I did both to encourage the King of Navarre and that party with one part of my answer, and to give the King occasion to speak if he will. The counsellor was Bellièvre, who spoke so plainly; and withal he said Villeroy used speeches to the same effect, but not in so plain terms. The same man told him that “the French King was betrayed the deepliest within himself that ever man was.” It is certainly held that Queen Mother is of the party, and blinds the King's eyes, making him believe the Duke of Guise's forces are greater than they are; not that she would have them too great, but “would have three parties all to depend upon her; the King, the King of Navarre and the Duke of Guise; and none of them to be so strong but that with the other two she may ever overrule them.
“The two greatest traitors about the King are Chiverny, whose ambition and a hope of a match which he seeketh for one of his daughters in that house (knowing himself utterly hated of the King of Navarre) doth lead him to; and Villequier (Viliqier), who altogether is at the devotion of Queen Mother, besides that Monsieur d'O, who married his daughter and keepeth for them Cane Castle, is of their party, though openly he dare not declare himself, but every body seeth it well enough.”
One of the wisest parts that the King of Navarre hath played, I knew not of till yesterday. Talking with Clervant and asking him “how chance they made it known to the French King the King of Navarre's goodwill (seeing all the world knew it), that Marshal of Matignon having no money to give them, that by the King's commandment he gave commissions to levy men for the French King, who would not levy any without money, the King of Navarre found means to give them underhand to do it withal, and bid them to go to serve the French King: he answered me there was a reason in it, for the King of Navarre was assured from those captains that howsoever the world went, whether the French King were the weaker, if the Duke of Guise and he agreed not, but came to a war, or whether the Duke of Guise and the King agreed against the King of Navarre, he should be assured that what places of importance soever they were put into, the King of Navarre should be assured of them as if they were in his own hand; but this must be kept very secret.”
A great many Catholics have come and offered themselves to the King of Navarre and Condé, so that it is easily seen “that if the French King had the grace of himself or that he were not betrayed, that the Duke of Guise's party were soon at an end.”
[To Burghley.] My very good lord, by these copies of my letters to Mr. Secretary you will see all I can write. “Waad would need carry with him one of the books against my lord Leicester,” which makes me bold to send you one, packed in a box with some other tokens. Pray keep it to yourself, “for though I mean no harm, I know not how things coming from me that way will be taken.” Paris, 10 April, 1585.
Postscript.—As I close this letter I hear that the Spanish ambassador gives out “that there is a new Pope chosen already, a man of small quality of Sicily; but I rather think it a thing given out to make the King careless of sending them anything else, or else they have long before provided for the matter.”
Copy (in Stafford's own hand) sent to Burghley, the cipher (undeciphered) being altered from Walsingham's to his.
Endd. by Burghley. 2 pp. [France XIII. 99.]


  • 1. Clervant and Bellièvre. See p. 411 below.
  • 2. The letter to the Queen is printed in Lettres Missives de Henri iv., t. ii., p. 31.