Elizabeth: May 1585, 21-25

Pages 487-497

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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May 1585, 21–25

May 21. Arthur “Champernowne” to Walsingham.
My long stay for wind and weather at Dartmouth would have grieved me more if I had not considered that even Kings must wait for their “commodity.” I was sometimes determined to pass into Brittany, but could not get a happy wind, nor could I go safely, being advertised that M. Chasteauneuf and the Duc de Mercœur in Brittany and the Comte de Brissac in Anjou and “Meane” kept all the passages. We have now had a prosperous voyage, arriving here on the 20th, where I learn of M. Segur's shipping for England, and that the Prince of Condé and M. de Rohan last Monday left St. Jean d'Angeli to meet the King of Navarre, who the Saturday before had spoken with M. de Matignon at Chastillon, but I could not learn about what matter. Bourdeaux and Toulouse as yet hold for the French King, and do not seem “to affect more the Guise than the King of Navarre; but M. St. Luc has a thousand soldiers lying about Brouage, very ill-furnished, with six ships and four pataches . . . and threatens to take the island of Rh` (Rees) from those of Rochelle. M. de St. Gomme and M. de Landreau are of his consort, and gather up men in Poitou for the same exploit,” as does likewise M. de Lansac.
Rochelle has sent 500 men into the island and taken some powder from our English ships. A gentleman of the Prince of Condé told me that the Queen of Navarre was at Agens, with 2,000 men, and had declared for the League, having “made” 40,000 crowns of a certain portion of lands, wherewith she paid her soldiers. M. de Lude, governor of Poitou, died five or six days ago, and the Duc de Mercœur and Count Brissac are besieging Saumur in Anjou. Those of the League pay their men with pistoles, thought to come out of Spain. I hope to find the King of Navarre at Bergerac, and to-day take my way to St. Jean d'Angeli. —Rochelle, 21 May, English account, 1585.
Add. Endd. 2 pp. [France XIII. 128.]
May 21/31. The States of Zeeland to Jacob Valcke.
“The effect of the particular commissions given to the deputies of the Estates.”
The States General having resolved to beseech her Majesty to take the United Provinces under her protection, or else give them all possible help, we hereby authorize Jacob Valcke, licentiate in the law, to go “with the deputies of the other United Provinces in the common procuration” of the States General into England, present her Majesty with our resolution and pray her to take the protection of the said provinces or to give them sufficient help during the war, upon the conditions which the deputies bring to that end. Whereupon the said deputy may deal according as the other provinces do, we giving full power, and promising to “hold for good” all that he shall agree unto.— Middelburg, last of May, 1585.
With note that the rest of the commissions are to the same effect.
Translation into English. Add. Endd. by Burghley, “Ult. Julii (sic), 1585.” 1 p. [Holland II. 17.]
May 21/31. ——to M. Ortell.
Extract of a letter from Middelburg.
Our commissioners are ready to depart. God grant them a fruitful resolution and speedy return.
“The enterprise of the Cowensteyn dyke went forward at night the 25th of May, and though it was hard and dangerous, nevertheless to show that neither good nor blood is spared for the succour of Antwerp, the Earl of Hohenloe gave the first attempt in the morning at two until twelve the clock about mid-day. But in the end, seeing the dangers, his lordship, at the instant request of M. St. Aldegonde and others of Antwerp, did transport himself thitherward, insomuch that our men—seeing the enemy's ordnance play so sore—and the ships of Antwerp, without great danger did retire themselves, without loss of ships on our side or men, in respect of the number of the enemies.
Eight ships of Antwerp are sunk by the enemy's artillery, but not without hope of recovery, and three others supposed to be taken. Most of the men are returned to Antwerp, and such as came to Barrow-op-Zoom are sent safely back again, “insomuch that the enemies are not to rejoice of their victory.”
We still hope very well if we might be speedily assisted with two or three thousand good men from your side, which would cause the ruin of the enemy and great benefit to these countries, if her Majesty would embrace our cause; for, by want of men, many good matters are retarded, and the good town of Antwerp in danger, on which very much depends.
We desire you therefore to spare no travail therein, for though our commissioners will presently depart, a present and provisional succour is most needful.
Translation. Endd. “From M. Ortel.” 1½ pp. [Holland II. 18.]
[May, about 21st?] Extract from a Letter [from Buys to Ortell ?].
The enemy endures great privation on the dykes. It is not doubted that ere long the town will be succoured; but as the issues of war are uncertain, you will do well to make every effort that the provisional aid which the States have asked for from her Majesty should be given, which will facilitate a complete victory, and put her in possession of the countries. I can assure you that for the seven years that I have been one of the Estates, or at least in the College, I have never seen such promptitude in any negotiation as in this, in which they have done more work in six days, than in the former one they did in six months. [Margin, He means with France.]
Those of Overyssel, who have not appeared at the States [General] for eight or nine months, have arrived to-day to join in this negotiation. In few words, the generality is entirely determined, and nothing will hinder their resolution save difficulties of roads and contrariety of winds, which may cause some little delay.
I pray you to offer my humble respects to the Earl of Leicester, “Lord Hauwert” and Mr. Walsingham.
French. 1 p. [Ibid. II. 19.]
May 22. Gilpin to Walsingham.
The States having conferred on my speeches to them wrote to the Count and his Council at Lillo to know their pleasures, who sent answer by one of the councillors. And these States being assembled, and hearing his report (which “tended to a liking to implore present aid “), upon some difficulty, did not think it convenient to take that course, “but with knowledge of the other united provinces to resolve jointly,” and so are to-morrow sending commissioners to Holland, with absolute determination from hence on all points. And M. Vaulke is deputed to go from hence with the rest for England. “I perceive they here mean to stand to the sovereignty or protection only, but for assurance, remain by their former opinions.”
We have yet no certain particulars of the late repulse, but not so many men lost as first was bruited. Haultain's body cannot yet be found. The enemy is fortifying again upon the ditch. This side “intends to be doing again upon the bridge, they of Antwerp having a very artificial firework devised in a ship to blow up amongst them, and is hoped will do greater wonders than the last.
“Count Hollock being escaped on the Antwerp side, went thither with Aldegonde, and on the sudden, with a few horse, escaped through to Barrow, although the enemy had sent five or six cornets of horse to intercept all passengers.”
Dr. Junius is arrived from France and reports that there is hope all will be quieted by means of the Queen Mother, and some here conceive that they may have some help thence, “of those who would have served the King of Navarre.”—Middelburg, 22 May, 1585.
Add. Endd.pp. [Holland II. 20.]
May 22. Ortell to Walsingham.
You may conceive how much annoyed I am by the delay in the arrival of our deputies, and yet I firmly believe that they are or have been at sea, and that they will omit nothing to forward their journey, both for the sake of their own preservation and to give satisfaction to her Majesty.
I pray you to excuse them to her, and the rather that she will see by the annexed letter to me [probably that on p. 489, above], the preparations they are making on their side. M. Buys writes that he hopes to be of their number.
As to the business of Antwerp, accounts are so various that nothing can be known certainly. A sailor who arrived yesterday says the fight was very fierce on both sides; and that ours are preparing to attack the enemy afresh. Also that some ships laden with victuals passed without hindrance through the Cauwen-steyn dyke up to the town, with whom Count Hohenloe is said to have gone, being wounded in the hand. I pray God shortly to send us better news.—London, 22 May, 1585.
You will see what they write to me touching the provisional help desired by the States General. I doubt whether it will be well to speak further of this, considering the Lord Treasurer's reply to me the other day, in presence of the Earl of Leicester, in her Majesty's name. I pray you to give me your advice in the matter, which I shall follow implicitly.
Postscript.—There is come to me one Mr. Mourritz, ” engeneur d'eaulx” and has shown me some models of artificial fire, for the service of the river of Antwerp. He would be willing to go thither himself, with the consent of her Majesty and her Council. As they are things worth looking at and proving, I wished you to have the first sight of them. If you could spare half an hour on Monday for the purpose, I would bring him and them to you at Barnelms.
Add. Endd. Fr.pp. [Holland II. 21.]
May 22./June 1. News from Divers Parts.
Prague, May 14, 1585.—Six knights of the Teutonic Order have arrived and invested the Archduke Maximilian, to whom the Grand Master will resign his dignity (he being very aged) in order to avoid the tumult of an election after his death. There is to be a congregation at Rotenburg, at which all the knights of these parts will attend; most of the Order have already given their consent, and it is believed the Catholic ambassador will be there to vote on behalf of the knights who are in Spain.
Great preparations a-making here for the ceremony of the Golden Fleece. Amongst other things, there is to be a tilting in the open field. Last week the Count of Nogarola arrived from Hungary, who is said to be elected general of that kingdom in place of Ruber, lately dead.
Antwerp, May 8.—Last night the fleet of Holland and Zeeland arrived near the fortress of Couenstein, and shot off the artillery in such sort that the sound was heard here.
Disembarking the soldiers, they seized the fort, but only held it two hours, for the Malcontents, seeing that the ships with fireworks from this city did not come to aid the fleet, recovered the place with great loss to the Hollanders, caused by the ships which are being prepared here not being ready, although the signal was given upon the tower of Notre Dame and from the dykes outside the city; upon which signals the Hollanders, believing that help was coming, gave the assault.
The colonels of this city are each going to have a bakery, in order to distribute daily a pound and three quarters of bread to the needy. Yesterday there arrived here 120 wethers from Holland, sed quid hec inter tantos.
Cologne, May 16.—Letters from the Prince of Parma say that 500 Hollanders lie dead upon the dykes, and many others were drowned in their flight to escape by their ships, of which two were sunk by the Malcontents and another taken with all its men; on seeing which Count Hollock escaped on a galley. The Prince seeing that the Holland fleet below Lillo was very strong and that those of Antwerp were making great preparations to break the palisade, hurriedly ordered 4,000 soldiers on to the dykes and very strongly fortified the bridge, against which it is believed those of Antwerp will effect nothing at all.
The taking of Neuss by “Counts Nieuenort and Meurs” [sic] is confirmed, which happened by means of a canon of Utrecht called Martin Schenk, (fn. 1) a spy of the said Count, who had intelligence with some Calvinists. They went thither with 700 foot and 300 reiters, put ladders to the walls and without much opposition mastered the town, killing all who defended it, amongst whom were two burgomasters (consoli), and afterwards sacked it. In addition to other insolencies, the Count has destroyed the monastery of the monks of S. Quirino, throwing away their relics, which were worth more than 40,000 thalers and carrying the Eucharist into the street, where in contempt of God they broke it into pieces. Thus those citizens, except the Calvinists, have suffered very great loss.
On May 13, 150 reiters of Neuss ambushed themselves half a league from that city, and 31 reiters of the Count of Schwart-zenburg going to escort fifteen carts of wine, the carts were taken and fourteen men killed; which has been some comfort here. The same day, the Count of Meurs sent a trumpet hither, who had audience outside the gate and demanded a list of all the burghers of Cologne who were in Neuss, intending not only that their lives should be spared, but their goods restored and they escorted to this city.
Just now we hear that Kempen (Chempen), a place beyond Neuss, has surrendered to the Count of Mœurs, and also the castle of Erbrot. It is thought other places in the archbishopric will do the like, and that Truchsess is on his way to Neuss, the riches there being estimated at above two millions of gold.
Rome, May 25.—On Saturday, Monsignor Aldobrandini took possession of the Dataria and the Pope distributed the abbeys left vacant by the death of Cardinal Vercelli, whose nephew has that of Cagnano in Lucca. [Names of the others and the Cardinals to whom given.] Some churches have been despatched and the cross given to the Cardinal legates.
The galleys of Malta have taken eight Turkish ships, liberated three hundred Christian slaves who were in chains and got 50,000 crowns of booty.
Envoys from princes and cities continually arrive to make the due compliments to his Holiness. On Tuesday there came Cardinal Valdemonti, brother-in-law of the French King; was met by Cardinals d'Este, Sans, Rambouillet (Rampognelto) and Joyeuse and the French ambassador, and at once escorted to kiss the Pope's feet.
The old Treasurer desires a cardinal superintendent of the clerks of the Chamber and begged for Cardinal Aldobrandini, but perhaps Rusticucci may be given him, who has been deprived of the Collateria of the Chancery, granted to him for fife by Pope Gregory. The legates will have audience on Thursday and then depart for their legations. For vice-legates, Monsignor Rivaruola will go with Cardinal Spinola; Gambara with Salviati; Stella with Colonna, Michel Angelo Sorbolongo with Canano and Gloriero with Gesualdo.
News is come of the death of the priest Guarcino, killed at Maienza by one of his fellows, with two of his companions. His head has been put on the bridge, with a paper crown and a thousand crowns given to his partner as a reward. It is said that Luca di Sora has been killed by one of that faction for killing the said priest in order to gain that reward; and that at Sorano, by order of the Grand Duke, seven bandits have been taken, including Marinaccio and his nephews, and are to be sent up to the Pope.
The tumults at Naples were thought to be appeased, but the city is still all in confusion, although the viceroy, to quiet the people, has had much corn brought in; having also taken the flour and corn from the forts to relieve the great dearth.
It is said that next week the Pope will proclaim a plenary Jubilee to pray for the peace of France, and that he himself, with the whole sacred college, will go on foot in procession from the church of Ara Cœli to Sta. Maria Maggiore. The Indian [or Japanese] ambassadors are making ready to depart towards home, to each of which the Pope has given a collar of 300 crowns, besides 3,000 crowns in ready money for the charges of the journey, and sent a letter of recommendation for them to the Catholic King, desiring him to supply their needs. He is sending to the Indian Kings the consecrated rose, sword and hat of last year, with a reliquary, many consecrated crowns, and plenary indulgences, with very beautiful altar furnishings.
He has sent Scipione Gonzaga to the Duke of Nevers at Lucca to invite him to Rome, desiring to confer with him about the affairs of France.
Venice, June 1.—Letters from Lyons and Paris say that that King had laid aside his wanton ways and applied himself to riding about, reviewing the city guards in Paris and urging on the preparations in such sort that he had gained the hearts of the people and of many gentlemen, seeing him stirred up to all honourable things. He had faito partiti di sali for two millions of gold, in order to have money; and having already brought towards Lyons 4,000 Swiss and 2,000 reiters for his service, had given the King of Navarre and Prince of Condé to understand that it was not needful for them to take up arms in his aid, there being good hope that things would be settled—to the great reputation of his Majesty—with the Duke of Guise. This last had 8,000 harquebusiers and 2,000 horse, and the Duke of Maine (Umena) his brother about as many more; the plots of Metz and Marseilles and other places not having succeeded as he hoped. The Duke of Epernon, given up by the doctors, looked upon himself as a dead man, from the scrofula which has inflamed his head. The Duke d'Aumale (d'Umala) having had many put to death in Languedoc under pretext that they were Huguenots, the King was very angry with such disorderly acts, against his commission.
[Taking or chasing of Turkish vessels by the Maltese and Venetians.]
Cardinal Bolognetto has died at Villacco [qy. Villach in Austria], returning from Poland. [Local news.] We hear from Spain that the Duke of Savoy is delaying his return to Italy and that the Duchess, who is with child, will remain in Spain until her delivery.
Letters from Constantinople say that Osman Bassa having valiantly informed the son of the Persian General that he meant to seek him in Tauris, the latter replied that he would meet him outside the city—in order to do more honour to the arrival of so renowned a personage—with 50,000 chosen Persian horse.
Italian. 9½ pp. [Newsletters XCV. 17.]
May 23. Walsingham to Duke Casimir.
Your Excellency will see by her Majesty's letters how important it is to the Princes professing the Gospel to have their eyes open to the designs of their enemies and to use all means possible to hinder them; as to which I would that all princes whom it concerns were as zealous as your Excellency, who will, I doubt not, move the others to join her Majesty in this holy and necessary work. For if she finds that they make no account of her present overtures, she will not only treat no more with them, but other princes will become distasted with it.
The King of Scotland has lately made an honourable offer to her Majesty to enter into a league with her against the Catholics, and even to employ himself in person (if she think fit) against those of the house of Guise, his near relatives.
Upon the King of France's refusal to embrace the cause of the Low Countries, now in danger of ruin, unless taken into the protection of some sovereign prince, her Majesty much inclines to defend them, provided that, by way of “caution,” they put into her hands some of the chief towns of the country, both as a pledge of their obedience and for the re-imbursement of the money which she will provide; for which purpose deputies are daily expected from the Estates.
Her Majesty has announced to the King of Navarre, to keep him in good hope, that in case the King of France is forced by the Guises to make war against him, she will not fail to aid him; but she finds that the said King of France is acting very sincerely and that there is no negotiation between him and the house of Guise, although the contrary be thought by those who cannot forget S. Bartholomew's day.
I thank you very much for the wines which you have been good enough to send me.—Barn Elms, 23 May, 1585.
Fr.pp. [S.P.For. Entry Book162, p. 120.]
May 23. Walsingham to Dr. Beutterich.
I feel assured that his Excellency will communicate to you what we write of our affairs, but this is to pray you to procure the speedy despatch of the bearer, that we may learn how soon it will be possible to levy forces to assist the King of Navarre in case of need. I am anxious to have your opinion concerning the assembly of the Protestant princes of Germany proposed by her Majesty, and how the said princes are disposed thereto, for which purpose I send you a cipher. You will do well to draw out those of the free cities, and to inform their commissaries at the allotted time and also the evangelical cantons of Switzerland. The rest I leave to your good judgment, to do what is best for the cause.— Barn Elms, 23 May, 1585.
Fr. 1 p. [S.P. For. Entry Book 162, p. 123.]
May 23./June 2. Report of a Netherlander come from the Prince of Parma's Camp before Antwerp.
There are there between five and six thousand men of all nations. In the late conflict fifteen or sixteen hundred were slain on their side, and eight or nine hundred of the States' men; with the loss of 28 or 30 of their small boats.
The fight lasted four hours, wherein the States men were likely to have the victory,—having defeated six ensigns of Spaniards who had the first charge and the Almains demanding their pay—until the Walloons, encouraged by the Prince with a promise of three months' pay, gave a fresh charge and turned the States' men to flight.
The soldiers have had no pay these three months, and are so poor and bare that they have to sell their weapons and most necessary apparel to supply other wants, divers of them forsaking the camp in respect of the great scarcity of victuals and money there.
The Walloons finding the promise of three months' pay not kept are ready to mutiny and protest they will serve no longer, “standing upon the stouter terms with the Prince for that they are now the chief strength of his camp.”
An English halfpenny loaf is sold for three halfpence, a quart of beer for fourpence, a shoulder of mutton for half a crown and a pound of butter for ninepence.
Their chief provisions come from Artois and Liége, Hainault being wasted by the garrison of Cambray, and the other provinces either poor of themselves or made bare by the wars; “except some little territories about the towns of chiefest strength and importance.”
The Prince has very few garrisons in the towns, saving only some few in Brabant and Flanders. They have good store of ordnance and munition, the supplies of which and of money come chiefly from Artois, Liége, Douay and Orchies. Their contributions cannot long continue, those countries being daily charged and the rest very bare and poor.
The countries are disposed enough to shake off the yoke, but cannot, for want of heads and hopes of foreign assistance. All seem very desirous that her Majesty should take the protection upon her, the Protestants for religion's sake and the Papists for the ease of their purses, “commending greatly the happy estate of her Majesty's subjects, that live free of those heavy taxes and impositions daily laid upon them.”
“The prince himself is reasonably well beloved of the people for his mildness and courteous behaviour, but the Spaniards generally hated.”
Endd. “2 June.” 1¼ pp. [Newsletters I. 68.]
[About the same date as above.] Patrick Leighton's Report on the Same.
The whole army does not exceed 7,000 men, whereof there are 1,800 horsemen under M. de Montigny, but he has not yet “so whole charge as the Marquis of Risburg.” Of the foot there cannot be above 4,000 able, fighting men, who are dispersed into the country twenty miles about Antwerp.
There are about 2,000 Spaniards and 800 Italians; the rest Walloons, Burgundians and some Almains.
The Spaniards are in four regiments, the Italians in two, consisting of many companies but slenderly furnished. The most complete have not above 45 men; the ordinary ones about 30 or 25.
They have great plenty of victuals. A pot of Rhenish wine (almost a pottle of our measure) is sold for 12 d. sterling, a pot of French wine 9 d. A pound of beef 4d., of butter 8d.; a loaf of bread, somewhat bigger than a halfpenny one here, at 1½ d.; a quarter of mutton 3s. 8d.; a pot of good ordinary beer 3d.; a pound of cheese 4d.
The Spaniards and Italians are well paid; the Walloons very poor and without either money or victuals. Their stipend is 30 stivers a week and every day a loaf of very coarse brown bread, as big as a 2d. brown loaf here, to be divided between two. “They are often in mutiny against the Spaniards and can hardly brook them.”
Great means are made by the “Marquis de Gast” [del Guasto] to have general charge of the horsemen as “Risburg” had, but Montigny protests “that while he is in place there shall neither Spaniard nor Italian have it from him.”
They are in great security in the camp, fearing neither those of Antwerp or the States, and are wonderfully heartened by the late exploit at Utrecht.
It is given out that the Queen will take “that country” into her hands, but they give no credit to it; also that as soon as Antwerp is recovered, great store of ships will be sent from Italy and Spain hither, and then they “intend shortly to visit England.”
Most of the munition, artillery and garrisons are taken out of Gaunt, Lisle and Tournay, to furnish the camp. The Prince has sent some men towards Mechlin, to safeguard the artillery coming from Brussels as they say, “but the truth is to take view of Mechlin, and that he meaneth shortly to attempt somewhat against Sluys.”
He has caused all the corn, the mills and other helps they of Antwerp had near the town to be cut and broken down, and means shortly to draw nearer to it.
Endd. “Patrick Leighton's report of the Prince of Parma's Camp.” 1½ pp. [Newsletters I. 69.]
May 24. Memorial from the French Ambassador to Burghley.
Desires passport for himself and his wife to send part of their goods and furniture by water to Rouen, including some pewter and other things for their houses; two sets of harness to run in the “isse” which he has had made at Greenwich by permission of her Majesty, with some crossbows, bows and arrows for sport. There are also two dozen armours and arms for gendarmes and archers, with their sallets, anambras and gauntlets, which were sent him from Antwerp by the late M. de Mauvissière, his eldest brother, grand steward to the late Duke [of Anjou], to be sent to Rouen to the house belonging to himself and his two sons, who were captains in the service of the said Duke.—Undated and unsigned.
Endd. “May 24 (apparently English style).” Fr. 1 p. [France XIII. 129.]
May 24./June 3. Count Maurice of Nassau and the Council of State to Walsingham.
Knowing his honour's great affection for their affairs they send this line by Mr. Gilpin to pray him to continue the same, and to do his part in persuading her Majesty to send them two thousand soldiers, who would be very acceptable in the present urgent state of their affairs. Gilpin will make the proposal, while waiting the arrival of their deputies, who will shortly come over; but as apparently their negotiation will not be the work of a day only, his honour is once more prayed to do his best at once in the matter.—Middelburg, 3 June, 1585.
Signed, Maurice de Nassau. Countersigned, J. de Langen. Add. Endd. Fr. 1 p. [Holland II. 22.]


  • 1. Qy. whether the canon's name was Martin? There was some confusion between him and the Colonel. See p. 474, above.