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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The present volume of the Calendar begins in August, 1584, when the States of the United Provinces were debating where they should seek the aid which, as the Prince of Orange had consistently affirmed, was a necessity to them if they were to ward off the danger from Spain. Just before the Prince's death, they had dispatched two deputies, La Mouillerie and d'Asseliers, to the French King, to offer him the government on much the same terms as had been agreed upon with his brother. And again, as before, the independence of Holland and Zeeland was jealously guarded. Their reception was not encouraging, but after a while the King seemed more inclined to listen to them, and when the prime negotiator on their behalf, the ever sanguine des Pruneaux, came back to the Low Countries at the beginning of August, he confidently declared that the French King would embrace their cause.
Opinion in the countries themselves was greatly divided, and veered about from one point to another. When Ortell, their agent in England, during a visit to Holland, assured the States General of her Majesty's care for them, and of the aid they might hope for from her, they were said to rejoice greatly; yet he was obliged to acknowledge that when des Pruneaux made a speech to the deputies of Holland and Zeeland in favour of the treaty with France, many of them lent a willing ear. It was important, Ortell wrote, that the Queen should have what help she meant to give quite ready, in case deputies should be sent to make terms with her. But those who accompanied him back to England were certainly not empowered to do anything of the sort, the letter sent with them from the States General only saying that they were charged to lay before her all things relating to the treaty begun by her advice with the King of France. There is little
doubt that Gilpin was right when he wrote that they had no real faith in aid from England, believing all proposals from thence to have in view only the benefit of the English themselves. Also, they were extremely reluctant to give up any of their ports as cautionary towns, and it was pretty well known that unless Elizabeth might have such towns in Holland and Zeeland, she would decline to treat; whereas it was hoped that the French King might be content without them, as Monsieur had been. In relation to this point, however, we learn from one of Stafford's letters that des Pruneaux was believed to have a private commission to sound the States as to their willingness to allow the King to put garrisons into certain towns, and, amongst the rest, into Flushing. If this were true, Stafford wrote, it would prove the truth of what he had always thought: that France would come in rather for profit than for honour, and would do nothing for God's sake (p. 20); a curious argument for the English ambassador to use, seeing that Elizabeth was much more determined to have Flushing than Henry was.
A certain number of influential men in the Northern provinces held fast to the idea of the protection of England—according to Roger Williams, they were those who feared they had no chance of a pardon from the Spanish King—and, on their behalf, Ortell made proposals to the Queen, but they lacked official sanction (p. 40). Williams believed that the French King was only playing with the States; that the States (with the above exceptions) had no hope of aid from England, and that if the people came to the same opinion, nothing would keep them from making their peace with Spain. But he suggested a plan by which, without overtly interfering in their behalf, the Queen might send over some more troops; the people be persuaded to put Sluys and Ostend into their hands “for assurance,” and, eventually, the English “by good government in these towns and valour in the field” induce the people of Holland and Zeeland to open their ports to her Majesty. As to the danger of this provoking the King of Spain to make war upon her, his ability to harm her was very doubtful, unless he were backed up by the shipping of the Low Countries.
Other notices of the situation at this time will be found in letters from Etienne Le Sieur, Edmund Yorke, Gilpin and Thomas Lovell (pp. 52, 55, 61, 82, 88).
One Captain Ricards reports a visit paid to Admiral Treslong, then acting Governor at Ostend, who, entertaining the English soldiers “very honourably told them that, as he heard, the province of Zeeland was to be delivered to the Queen Mother; but when the captain asked what towns would be given for her garrisons, promptly replied, no towns at all, but only the dykes to lie upon. After dinner Treslong showed his guests the fortifications, which he had strengthened considerably to prevent attack from the sandhills towards Nieuport and Bruges. The Admiral does not appear, however, to have cared so well for the defenders as he did for the defences of the town; for it was said that the soldiers were “growing thin” for want of pay, while he and another commander quarrelled over the government (pp. 55, 62).
Meanwhile, as Gilpin wrote, the enemy “proceeded with his matters.” In August and September, Dender-monde, Vilvoorde and Ghent successively opened their gates to the Prince of Parma, while Ostend and Sluys were constantly threatened. In spite of lack of support from Spain, which kept him perpetually short of men and money; in spite of lack of provisions, the country being wasted and eaten up by the war, and supplies by sea becoming more and more difficult to procure; in spite of sickness amongst his men, brought on by hardships and want of food, Parma went forward quietly and steadily, and gradually drew his toils more closely round the city which he had so long dreamt of winning.
The central figure in the picture for the next twelve Antwerp. months is Antwerp, standing at bay behind her walls, supported by forts held by native and English troops; surrounded by country which she could flood at her pleasure, and looking to the broad waters of the Scheldt to secure provision and succour from without. The States, apparently, considered it incredible that those waters could ever be so firmly closed that neither man, tide or tempest would break down the barrier. Gilpin was under no such delusion, and even so early as August, 1584, was seriously alarmed by the preparations (p. 14). Antwerp, however, lacked neither men, means or victuals, and Ste. Aldegonde, its governor, energetically pressed forward measures for the securing and payment of a large body of troops, German, English and Scots, to strengthen his own forces. But it would seem that these strangers had a hard time of it and were not of much use, for Gilpin reported on October 4th that they were “employed to nothing and most often without money and victuals” (p. 89).
The history of the siege is so well known that it is needless to say much about it. We read of the gradual drawing in of Parma's net round the city from Borcht, on the south, and down both banks of the river, where forts, built or seized by him, dominated the passage; of the culpable blindness of the States to the meaning of what was going on (fn. 1); of the ever increasing danger to traffic, so that as time went on, communication with the city almost ceased, for “skippers would not risk it without great pay”; of the building by the enemy of the palisade or stockade which eventually closed the river, and of the attacks upon this palisade by fireships furnished with infernal machines, invented by the Italian engineer Gianibelli. Only one of these, however, achieved success, destroying the bridge at Callo, killing two of Parma's chief commanders, Richebourg and Robles, and very nearly slaying the Prince himself. There are several notices of the first attack (April 26—May 6) upon the Couwenstein dyke, the great bulwark which stretched across the low land between Fort Lillo and Stabroeck to hold back the waters, and which, if William of Orange had had his way, would have been pierced long since and Antwerp saved. Of the second and greater attack, accounts will be found on pp. 476 et seq., in letters from Count Maurice, Captain James, Gilpin, Davison, &c.
It may be mentioned in passing that Motley's statement that Count Maurice and John of Oldenbarnevelt were actually present at the fight upon the dyke, is an error due to careless reading of Captain James' letter, which he quotes as stating that. “Count Maurice with divers of the States was here.” What James does say is that “Count Maurice with divers of the States was here at Fort Lillo” (i.e. with the fleet), and from Lillo the Count dates his own letter. Hohenlohe and his forces put out from the fleet in flat-bottomed boats at ten at night on Saturday, May 25th; and landed on the desired point of the dyke between two and three on Sunday morning. Count Maurice's letter was written at seven o'clock, and, as he wrote, the good news had just been brought that a fort upon the dyke had been captured. When initial success had been followed by crushing disaster, the remnants of the expedition returned to Lillo, “where was Count Maurice and the Council.”
Meanwhile, Hohenlohe had disappeared. Captain James' account was that after the first footing was gained on the dyke, the Count and Ste. Aldegonde had gone off with two small galleys to Antwerp, “thinking all things to be so sure.” Another view was that he had gone thither to cheer and console the people; while Gilpin wrote that no one knew whether he was at Antwerp, taken or slain. It is evident, however, from both Bor's and Meteren's narratives, that the two leaders left the scene of action very early in the day.
The English troops were placed to defend the side of the dyke towards the sea, and the English letter writers one and all declared that they had behaved very well. Captain James asserted that the Hollanders, Zeelanders and Scots gave way “in shameful retreat,” but that the English stood their ground and were nearly all put to the sword. Stokes said that it was the German mercenaries (mofes) who gave way and fled back upon the English, Scots and French, throwing them into disorder. That the English and Scots both acquitted themselves bravely is pretty clearly proved by the number of their slain, and is distinctly stated by Meteren. (fn. 2) The “Italian,
chiefest of all the enemy's horsemen,” mentioned in Stokes' letter, was probably Farrente Spinola, who was captured early in the fight, and carried by Hohenlohe and Ste. Aldegonde to Antwerp (pp. 480, 481).
This was the last serious attempt made to relieve Antwerp, and from that time the fate of the great city was sealed.
To return to the general course of events, all through the second half of the year 1584, there was much discussion and great difference of opinion in England as to the wisdom of sending aid to the Low Countries, if desired. On pp. 96 et seq. are two papers, giving the views of the English Councillors. The first is Sir Walter Mildmay's “Opinion,” but in fact he halted between two opinions, fearing, on the one hand, that if help were not given, the King of Spain would wholly subdue those countries and be much more able to attack England; while, on the other hand, he shrank from the idea of aiding subjects against their King, and thought, moreover, that if her Majesty should do so, and afterwards, for any reason, be driven to leave them, their last case would be worse than their first.
The other paper is Burghley's report of the Lords' conference. “The arguments were very many on both sides,” but in the end it was concluded that it was better to succour the Hollanders than to let the King of Spain “grow to the full height of his designs”; and that it would, therefore, be well to send some “wise person” into Holland, to ascertain the state of things there, and —if the treaty with France had broken down—to offer succour and discuss conditions.
To about the same time—that is the autumn of 1584, after the return of La Mouillerie and Asseliers, and when the proposal to send another embassy to France was under discussion—may probably be assigned “A discourse impugning the election of the French King to be Governor of the Low Countries” (p. 129). From its general tone, it would seem to have been written about the same time as the “Resolutions of Gouda,” printed by Bor, and the personal touches in relation to the Nassau family (the most interesting parts of the document) suggest Villiers as its author. Many people, the writer said, alleged the Prince of Orange's belief that safety could come only from the French. But the Prince never intended all the provinces to be given up to them. He thought it needful to call in a powerful prince to resist Spain, “seeing how little his own authority prevailed,” yet always meant some provinces to be reserved, in which, in case of need, a refuge might be found.
The writer goes on to say that whatever the Prince's mind may have been, it must be frankly confessed that they were “shamefully abused” in calling in the Duke of Alençon; and all agreed that if the French King were now brought in, it must be upon two conditions :—1. No change in religion; 2, no foreign soldiers. But would he grant these conditions, or, if granted, keep them ? The Duke bound himself by oath, but broke it; and if God had not protected Antwerp, the French would have raged there more cruelly than the Spaniards. Those present at the examination of the prisoners know that the Prince and his family were appointed to be slain; only his daughters of the House of Bourbon to be saved and thrust into nunneries. These confessions, he writes, “were purposely suppressed in the history, but we know we speak that which is true,” and so do they who would now receive the French. It was true that the churches of France enjoyed peace, but this was wrung from the King by arms, and retained only through fear of war. The Rochellois did not trust him; those of the Religion held strong towns as their surety. What Alençon did at Dunkirk was known well enough. The wolf could never be a fit guardian for the sheep, nor he brought up from his cradle in hatred of the churches, take upon him their defence. Let them consider with what contempt their ambassadors had been received, and what answer, after a whole month, they got from Secretary Brulart. At last des Pruneaux got them letters, and audience of the Queen Mother, but no great account was to be made of that. They had much left: men, money, ships. There wanted only the courage and the will to fight. England would come to their help, and Count Maurice might win for them the favour of Germany. Any hatred or envy felt for his father was taken away by his death; the Elector of Saxony was Maurice's uncle, and there were others of affinity to him. In three months an army might be raised whereby, by God's help, they might be saved from the tyranny of Spain.
The “wise man” suggested at the Privy Council conference appeared in the Low Countries in the middle of November, in the person of William Davison. When he reached the Hague, he found the new commissioners preparing to start for France, and spent a day in quietly informing himself of the state of the negotiation. Next day, he presented his credentials, and declared in general terms her Majesty's care for their welfare and desire to help them in their needs. The States replied cordially, but neither he nor they alluded to their proceedings with France. The same evening certain of the deputies waited upon him, but he at once told them that since his audience he had learned that they were resolved to throw themselves into the arms of the French, and therefore could say nothing until he knew the Queen's further pleasure, seeing that any overture from her might be interpreted as tending to the interruption of that treaty; whereas he imagined that she would now be “well content to leave them to their own discretions.” After this, he was privately visited by some who disliked the negotiations with France, and found that it was now generally “distasted” in Holland, but that Zeeland, led by their Governor, Haultain, was much more inclined to it, as were also the other United Provinces, except Overyssel. But this was only true of their States and chief men. The commons abhorred the French, and murmured against the States, who did their utmost to show the people that they were acting from mere necessity; having no other means to maintain the war or to subsist themselves, and “being left by the Prince's untimely death as a ship tossed in the midst of a tempest, without pilot or governor.” This last statement was certainly true, for Davison wrote that he found all things “in their accustomed confusion; these men following still the first part of the wise man's counsel, diu deliberando, but not the second, mature conficiendo.” The ordinary government was vested in the young Count Maurice (made Governor provisionally after his father's death) and the Council of State, one part of which remained at Utrecht, while the other was generally in Zeeland with the Count, “attending upon the affairs of Brabant,” i.e. the preparations for the relief of Antwerp. Davison was very much impressed by their means for maintaining the war, as also by the fact that, after all, the strongest and most defensible parts of the seventeen provinces still remained faithful to the Republic, and concluded his report by expressing his conviction that if the States had any real assurance of her Majesty's disposition to help them, their treaty with France “would cool of itself” (pp. 176–179).
Their assurance on this point, however (even supposing it would have altered their resolution), being very far from “real,” preparations for the dispatch of the commissioners to France went forward, and, after many delays, they sailed from the Brill on December 23rd. At Abbeville they were met by des Pruneaux, with assurances of the King's kind inclinations towards their cause, although he acknowledged that some were doing their utmost to prevent its success. Chief amongst these was Mendoza, who, immediately upon hearing of their landing, went to the palace, angrily demanding audience of the King and threatening to depart if he might not have it. Stafford wrote that the Queen Mother had urged his being taken at his word, but “Spanish pistolets” worked their wonted effect, and the audience was obtained. The interview, if report spoke truly, was a stormy one. Mendoza demanded not only that the “rebels” should be refused admission to the King, but that they should be delivered up to his master, to which Henry angrily retorted that his realm was free to all and his ears open to hear everybody. The ambassador went away in a “choler,” and the King said hard things of him, as soon as his back was turned (p. 228).
At this point, Stafford received very full instructions as to the position he was to take in the matter. On the whole, Elizabeth thought it well to encourage the King to accept the deputies' proposals. She did not like the idea of his being absolute lord of their countries, but cherished the hope that if he accepted, it might bring about war between France and Spain, which would have suited her plans very well. At the same time, she still clung to the idea of a joint enterprise by France and England, thought the present opportunity a propitious one, and desired both Stafford and Davison to forward the project, so far as might be done without giving cause to suspect that she wished to hinder the French treaty (pp. 235, 239). Walsingham was not well pleased with her Majesty's plan of action. “Sorry I am (he wrote) 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.” He foresaw that the annexation to France might in time to come prove prejudicial to England, but if France refused to deal with them, he believed they would be driven into the arms of Spain, which would be a much more present danger to the Queen.
In spite of his first rebuff, Mendoza believed that he had the situation well in hand. He was as fully informed of the deputies' dealings as they were themselves, and laughed in his sleeve at the small effect which he felt assured would be produced (pp. 248, 276).
On February 3rd, old style, the commissioners had audience both of the King and Queen Mother, coming away very well satisfied with their reception; and from this time held constant consultations with their old adviser, des Pruneaux, how to make their proposals, which so far they had only offered in general terms, acceptable to the King. Stafford thought their implicit trust in the Frenchman absurd, and had a hint conveyed to them that wise merchants, bargaining for a matter of great weight, were not usually directed by the agent of the opposite party. He had offered them as much kindness on her Majesty's behalf as he could devise, but they showed themselves very suspicious of her, declaring that she did not like this treaty and had sent Davison to Holland to try to break it. The poor men, he said, were being fooled by Villequier, who made them “merry” at a banquet, and extracted from them all he wished to know before they came again to the King. But from others they kept their articles very secret, being mistrustful of everybody save “those whom they should not trust” (pp. 273 et seq.). Some ten days later, Stafford reported that certain of the deputies had been to visit him, when Junius, their leader, had acknowledged the many benefits they had received from her Majesty and prayed her ambassador to further their cause. In reply, Stafford assured them that the Queen's only care was “to have them helped,” and if it were for their security, would never object to a good alliance between them and France (pp. 295–296).
On Saturday, February 27th, when they were hoping for a favourable answer from the King, they were sent for to the palace, and to their amazement were informed that his own state was “so tickle and unsound” that he could not accept their offers, although he would, as a good neighbour, do anything he could for the maintenance of their ancient liberties. Immediately after this interview, Stafford and Lord Derby (who had just then come to France, bringing the Order of the Garter to the King) had a private audience, during which the King desired Bellièvre to declare to them his proceedings with the deputies, and the answer he was forced to give to them and also to her Majesty. Bellièvre made a long oration, the outcome of which was a proposal that the French King and Elizabeth should jointly send to the King of Spain, and “interpose their authorities with him to the receiving of these his subjects into his grace and favour, with the maintenance of them in their old customs and liberties”; which course the King thought her Majesty would like very well, as being what she herself had long ago desired. To this Stafford answered that she might have thought it good at a time when the States were strong, and the King of Spain would probably have granted any conditions rather than hazard all, but it could be no excuse for the French King doing nothing at this time, when Spain would either give them no peace at all, or only such as the vanquished are wont to receive at their conqueror's hands. The King listened attentively, but still declared that he could not venture, “in helping of others, to put himself in danger of losing his own.”
From him, the ambassadors went to the Queen Mother, and found her, “poor woman,” greatly troubled. She assured them she had done her best in the matter, yet said all she could to excuse the King; whereupon Stafford told her that they knew well enough what she had done and wished, and must excuse her that “like a kind mother, she seeing no remedy, would seek to excuse her children's faults.” Bellièvre lamented the outcome of the affair with tears running down his cheeks, but thought the King had cause enough to act as he did, seeing what dangers menaced him from the doings of the Guises, the Duke of Savoy and others (pp. 315 et seq.).
The States' deputies, deploring their unhappiness, now began to make overtures to Stafford, and went so far as to assure him that if only Davison had given them any hope, they would have wished the Queen to take them rather than France, but that he had come to do nothing but break off the treaty. Stafford did not let them “run away” with this view of the case, but he thought that these new inclinations should be encouraged, and that, for her own sake, England should do them good, even if against their wills (p. 321).
While the deputies were spending tedious days in France, the outlook at home was daily becoming darker. On p. 245 is one of Fremyn's always interesting letters, which, unfortunately, in this volume, are few and far between. He firmly believed that if the treaty with France failed, the provinces must make the best terms they could with Spain. Owing to the disloyalties, delays and factions of their rulers, the enemy encroached daily, and the people, entirely blinded, did not see that their ruin was at hand. The choice must lie between foreign aid and a general reconciliation, but whether the latter could now be brought about was doubtful, as Parma had found that he gained more by negotiating with the towns separately. Little reliance was placed on aid from England, both from past experience and present irresolution, yet Fremyn believed that it would be easy for her Majesty to free the country if she would do it in time and meanwhile would send money for the succour of Brussels and the pay of Morgan's regiment at Antwerp; which city had the whole burden of Brabant upon its back.
At the beginning of February, 1585, the enemy, under Verdugo, had marched into the Veluwe, recovered the forts before Zutphen, and made overtures to Nimegen, which were only too likely to be accepted. The garrison at Sluys was mutinous, and Mechlin and Brussels were beginning to parley with the enemy. His forces were pressing hardly upon Antwerp, both by land and water, and he was master of almost the whole chain of forts along the Scheldt on both shores (pp. 279, 280, 291, 292).
By this time it was becoming pretty evident to the lookers on that nothing was to be expected from France, and Elizabeth gave Davison permission to hold out hope to the States (but only as from himself) that if they would offer her due security, she might consent to receive them into her protection. Davison received these directions on February 22nd. The next day rumours reached the Hague that Brussels had surrendered, and discouraging letters arrived from the deputies in France. That same evening the States of Holland sent a deputation to Davison, under pretext of asking if he had any further news. He told them frankly that in the letters of the English ambassador there, he saw no signs of any disposition on the French King's part to embrace their cause; but on their praying him “to preserve the Queen's favour to them,” answered very coolly that he would do his best, but that “their late carriage gave her little cause” (pp. 287, 306).
The French King's refusal of the lordship of the United Provinces brought the question of the English protectorship much more openly to the front, and Elizabeth sent over a definite offer, on condition that Flushing, Enchuysen and the Brill were given into her hands as assurance for the re-imbursement of her money, and the yielding of due obedience to her during the time of her guardianship. Davison and Gilpin were to open the matter without delay, but her first orders were that they were to do so in such a way that the suggestion might appear to come from themselves. A few days later, however, becoming alarmed lest the States should throw themselves into the arms of Spain, she amended her instructions, authorising her agents to make the above-mentioned offer on her behalf. Gilpin at once set himself to carry out his part of the negotiation; that is, to influence the chief men in Zeeland, where he had long dwelt as agent for the Merchants Adventurers. He found them cautious and suspicious. Her Majesty, they said, “was ever cold and loth to make war against a King of Spain”; also, the States of Zeeland were not in session, and Count Maurice's Council had gone to the fleet, therefore for the moment, nothing could be done.
Elizabeth's messenger, Edward Burnham, proceeded to the Hague, and the commissioners from France reached it almost at the same time. No sooner had they made their report to the States General than deputies were sent to Davison, to inform him of the failure of the French business, and their desire to enter into treaty with her Majesty, and to ask him if he had any overtures to make from her. To this he answered as he had done before, that they had given her just cause to think hardly of them; yet now, seeing them abandoned by all others, she had commanded him to let them know that for religion and compassion's sake she was ready (due security being promised her) to give them all the succour she could. Negotiations being thus started, the States set themselves to deliberate what deputies they should send to England, and what offers they should make (p. 395). On April 21st, Davison reported that matters were so far advanced that the deputies were expected to set out in the following week. The people were “incredibly comforted” with the hope of her Majesty's favour, and prayers were appointed to be said for her in all the churches. But in England, as Burnham found on his return, zeal for the enterprise had somewhat flagged, and Walsingham wrote that those whose judgment her Majesty chiefly trusted were so coldly affected to the cause that he had no great hope of success. And just then, there came “a simple hopeful letter from Mr. Gilpin,” which Ortell, the States' agent in England, believed would overthrow the whole matter (p. 427). This would appear to be Gilpin's letter of April 24th (which, if the wind were in the east, might quite well reach England on the 25th), in which he gave so favourable an account of the prospects of success at Antwerp and of the difficulties of Parma's position, as might easily incline Elizabeth to believe that matters were not in so serious a state in the Provinces as she had been led to imagine. (fn. 3)
The departure of the deputies was repeatedly postponed, and it was many weeks before they started for England.
The fortunes of war at this time were very fluctuating. Brussells, Nimegen and Doesburg were lost; Dotechem and other places suspected of meaning to follow them. On the other hand, an attempted surprise of Ostend had been check-mated; Hohenlohe had recovered the important fort of Liefkenshoeck; Count William of Nassau had defeated Verdugo in Friesland; Neuenaar had seized Neuss, upon the Rhine, and last, but not least, the daring freebooter, Martin Schenk, had come over with his band to the side of the States, and thereby greatly encouraged the national party.
As regards the proposed treaty, the chief point of discussion both in the Low Countries and in England, was whether the Queen should take the sovereignty or only the protection of the United Provinces. The people themselves, with certain exceptions, inclined to the sovereignty. One of their leading divines, Adrian Saravia, earnestly advocated this, as he feared that mere alliance and defence might in the long run bring harm to both parties, a result which he thought there would be little cause to dread if they were joined under the sway of one prince (p. 534). On the other hand, Elizabeth steadily refused to go beyond protection. Some of her reasons are given on p. 571; but the real cause of her hesitation lay deeper. This will however be more fittingly discussed when we reach the period of Leicester's government in the United Provinces.
Christopher Roels, a member of the “States” of Zeeland, probably voiced the opinion of most of his thoughtful compatriots when he said frankly that they did not really want either French or English, and were only driven by necessity to take what was offered them; but that they were in such a state for want of order and authority (not of means) that unless they could have some person to command them, they must go full gallop to their ruin. The only alternative was to submit to Spain, and he and many others would rather negotiate with the Turk than be reconciled to that King. For this cause, speaking for those of Zeeland—often the most turbulent and difficult to manage of the United Provinces —he affirmed that they would be found as hearty and resolute in their acceptance of her Majesty as could be desired, or as their miserable state demanded (p. 586).
This same note is struck by other writers. Prouninck, the burgomaster of Utrecht, wrote to Walsingham that although they needed good men, they much more needed a chief of authority (p. 618), and a writer from the Hague is still more emphatic. The people, he said, defied their magistrates, and that with impunity. They had cared nothing for the Prince of Orange when he was alive; they cared nothing for authority now. They had no lack of “political philosophers”; what was needed was a Cato, to restrain them by fear (p. 635). The hour in fact had arrived, but where was the man ?
After many delays, and being twice driven back by tempest, the deputies from the States General reached England on June 24th, old style. The most prominent members of the party were Jan van Oldenbarnevelt, Joos de Menin, pensionary of Dort, Jacob Valck of Zeeland, and Paul Buys. Menin was usually the spokesman, and Ortell, joined in commission with them, took an active part in the negotiations. The English commissioners were Burghley, Leicester, Howard of Effingham, Hunsdon, Sir Francis Knollys, Sir C. Hatton and Walsingham; Burghley, Hatton and Walsingham apparently taking the lead in the business. The deputies of the States had their first audience of the Queen at Greenwich on June 29th, old style, when Menin delivered a long discourse. A copy of the “Reasons delivered by the deputies to move her Majesty to accept the sovereignty” will be found on p. 702. There were many conferences held, some of them at Burghley's or Walsingham's own houses; and at one time the treaty was all but broken off on her Majesty's refusing to increase the number of troops she was to send; but difficulties were either tided over or left to be settled afterwards, and on August 10th, old style, the treaty was signed in England.
Two days afterwards the news arrived of the surrender of Antwerp, a catastrophe which it had hoped might be avoided by the timely dispatch of English forces to its aid. Shortly after the signing of the treaty, most of the deputies returned home, but Valck and Buys remained in England to negotiate the matters which had been left open, and accompany Davison when he should go over to Holland to definitely settle these doubtful points with the States General and bring the treaty to a final conclusion. This final conclusion, however, was not reached until a date later than that at which this instalment of the Calendar terminates. Amongst the treaty papers catalogued at the end of the volume are divers drafts and notes of the proceedings and articles, many of them written or corrected by Burghley and Walsingham, which afford interesting indications of the processes by which an agreement was reached.
The last chapter in the siege of Antwerp is brought before us in letters from Jacques Rossel and Stephen Le Sieur, and in newsletters from Cologne, these latter being written from the point of view of the enemy. The notices mainly concern themselves with the failure of relief from outside, and the part played by the burgomaster, the celebrated patriot, Ste. Aldegonde. Early in May, Davison sent assurances to the hardly pressed city that it would very shortly see the fruits of the English Queen's care for its deliverance. But then came the tragedy of the Kouwensteyn dyke, and though this was quickly followed by letters from Holland, declaring that the city should never be abandoned, and that a fresh attempt was presently to be made to open the river, the burghers had not much faith either in the sincerity of the assurances or the possibility of their fulfilment, and appealed to the Grand Council—seeing there was little hope of obtaining victuals from without—to devise some other plan to prevent them from perishing of hunger. The only answer the Council could give was to place further restrictions upon the use of corn, and to turn some of the poor people out of the city. Not only the poor, who felt the pinch most hardly, but many of the chief men were now inclined to follow the example of Brussels, and make an accord with the Prince of Parma, but Ste. Aldegonde and his followers were reported to be still holding out against it (pp. 531–532). A few days later news came that a great concourse of men, women and children had gathered before his house, declaring that he and his party were the cause of Antwerp's ruin and uttering threats of vengeance unless he would come to terms with Parma. Moreover, some of the chief burghers and the artisans had sent commissioners to the Prince, and it was said that he was about to dispatch some distinguished personages to the city, while Ste. Aldegonde and another principal townsman were to be sent as hostages to the camp. Some said, however, that Ste. Aldegonde would refuse to go, and would rather try to make his escape when he saw the fury of the people turned against him (pp. 535, 536). But shortly afterwards, a quite different version of the tale appeared; viz., that Ste. Aldegonde himself “had a mind to make peace,” and had offered to go as the head of a deputation to treat, suggesting that one de Werne should be sent to obtain passports; but that, though welcomed by the magistrates, the proposal was angrily refused by the Great Council. (fn. 4) The needs of the city, however, grew greater every day, there were riots amongst the people, the Great Council yielded, and on June 29th—July 9th, a regular deputation, headed by Ste. Aldegonde, was sent to the Prince's camp at Beveren. We read of their courteous reception and entertainment, and of Ste. Aldegonde's long discourses with Parma, whilst the rest of the deputies were taken out to the palisade to enjoy the sight of their great ship La Fin de la Guerre, in the enemy's hands (p. 590). On July 14–24, the “Colonels and Captains” of Antwerp addressed a letter to Count Hohenlohe, informing him of this deputation. The lords, and especially the burgomaster, they wrote, had laboured for “absolute commission” to make terms, but the Council insisted on reserving certain points : “religion, no castle, no garrison, the departure of the Prince and no money to be given.” Yet it was feared that if Parma refused to grant these points, the “worst sort” in the city would force the Council to give way. If Hohenlohe would only send help at once, all might yet be well, for the palisade was broken in divers places, and ships might certainly come through, but they were much discouraged that so many opportunities of good winds had been let slip; whereas his lordship had sundry times promised that if the wind were good only for two hours they should have succour. If but twenty or thirty ships of corn were to pass, the city would be out of danger.
Stephen Le Sieur sent a report of this same deputation, saying that it was due to the vehement persuasions of Ste. Aldegonde (p. 604). His new attitude incited much opposition and criticism. Ministers of the Reformed religion came to him and upbraided him bitterly. He was declared to have hurried and pushed on the treaty; to mock at all good news sent; to decipher the letters just as he pleased, and to show nothing of them save what he wished to be known; in fine, unless prompt measures were taken, he would at any price surrender the town (p. 605). The commissioners returned, as was expected, with very different articles from those sent; the Great Council refused to ratify them, and much confusion followed, wherein Ste. Aldegonde getting the upper hand, imprisoned seven of his chief adversaries.
Even yet it was reported that the city could hold out for two months, and it being more than suspected that none or very few of the messages from outside ever reached the townspeople, Peter van Aelst, their old burgomaster, went to the town with intent to make public the Queen's letters, and counteract the practices of the peace party, but his efforts do not seem to have had much effect.
It is true that when Parma, as a preliminary measure, took possession, by composition or by force, of all the forts and castles round Antwerp, the burghers armed themselves and drew chains across the streets, but when, greatly alarmed by his close approach, the Great Council and magistrates assembled, Ste. Aldegonde made them an oration, exalting the benignity of the Prince, and assuring them of his Highness' readiness to grant all reasonable demands, the sequel of which was a determination to send a fresh deputation, “not to propound any demand,” but to hear his views. The Protestants in the town abused Ste. Aldegonde; the Papists commended him. He himself vowed that he was perforce obliged to take this course, even at the risk of harm to his good name and fame; trusting to time to make the uprightness of his dealings known. On July 2nd, o.s., the commissioners returned, and on the 4th, after sermon, all assembled to hear their report. Ste. Aldegonde recounted their honourable reception, and warmly lauded the Prince's character and desire for their welfare. His vehement praise astonished his hearers, and when he afterwards spoke in the same strain to the martial officers in the town, it seemed to them “but a dream”; yet he harangued them so eloquently that his persuasions almost had the desired effect (pp. 620–623). At this point, a message was once more sent from Holland that with the first wind they meant to attempt to send up ships, and this was followed by a letter “full of comfort” from Count Hohenlohe, but no ships broke through, the favouring wind came and died away again, and on July 14th a great deputation set out to renew the treaty with the Prince. The negotiation proceeded but slowly, and yet again encouraging letters arrived in the city; this time from Elizabeth and the States' commissioners in England, with promises of speedy aid; but when the commissioners pressed further for its dispatch, they were dismayed to hear from Walsingham that the relief force would not embark until August was ended. To this one of their number in great grief replied that he feared those of Antwerp “not being able to abide such delay, . . . will rather resolve to make an agreement with the Prince of Parma with tolerable conditions than wait till they are in extremity and driven to surrender themselves with the rope about their neck” (p. 634). But even yet the patriot party clung to the hope of saving the city, and sent two of their officials to the Council of State and the fleet to say that they would hold the city for fourteen or fifteen days, if aid could be sent within that time, in spite of the efforts of the Spanish party. Their envoys were sent back on August 2nd, with positive assurances that before that date all the forces of fleet and land should be risked in the attempt, even to their ruin; but it was too late. For the last time, the commissioners had returned to the city, and in an assembly of the Great Council on July 31st had demanded full authority to conclude the treaty. Some consented at once, others desired delay, which being known, the commons gathered before the Town House, clamouring for peace, and though it was suspected that the demonstration had been got up by the Spanish party, it had its effect, and the full authority was granted. On August 2nd, the deputies returned to the camp; on August 7 th the treaty was signed which gave Antwerp back into the power of Spain, and on August 17th [i.e. 17–27] Parma entered the city.
Ste. Aldegonde apparently did not take part in the triumph to which he had so greatly contributed, for on this same day he wrote to Walsingham from the Sas (presumably the Sas de Gand). He protested that he had in no way behaved other than as a gentleman of virtue and honour, zealous for the glory of God and the welfare of the people. So long as the city could be held, he held it, through a thousand difficulties, toils and dangers to his life, single-handed, without authority, without either money or victuals, without succour; and when reduced to such extremity that it was impossible to maintain it longer without exposing its people to butchery, by God's grace he so conducted affairs that the town may boast that being reduced to greater straits than any other town which had surrendered, it yet obtained better terms than they (p. 661).
Jacques Rossel, who had already declared that the impending loss of Antwerp was due to the passion and ambition of Ste. Aldegonde, rather than to the lack of victuals (to which he imputed it, “to cloak his shame”) (p. 643), wrote again to Walsingham on receiving the news of the surrender, not only renewing his accusations against the burgomaster, but affirming that some of those with the fleet were also guilty of treachery, “seeing that they never permitted the hedge and palisade to be attacked, even with the great hulks, while, according to common report, a simple hoy of Holland had broken it and passed through.” He believed that the treaty had been hurried on for fear of the arrival of the English troops, and, if so, it had certainly only just been accomplished in time, for on Friday, August 20th, three days after Parma entered Antwerp, Colonel Norreys and his forces landed in Walcheren. Norreys reported to the Privy Council that in the opinion of most men, the composition of the people of Antwerp was no better than if they had rendered at discretion, as they had no liberty at all in matters of religion, and had already received a garrison of four thousand men into the town. The truth lay between this and Ste. Aldegonde's boastful statement; but on the whole, following his usual plan with towns voluntarily surrendered, Parma's terms were not harsh. He brought no Spanish troops into the town, and was reported to have chosen the Count d'Aremberg as governor. This rumour proved unfounded, but the post was given to Champagney, also a man of the country. The “Articles” of surrender are too well known to require notice.
As for Ste. Aldegonde, he was making “great suit” to the authorities of Holland and Zeeland to be allowed to come into those provinces, with the pretty evident intention of trying to persuade the people to enter into a general peace with Spain. Roger Williams voiced the general opinion very forcibly :—“If her Majesty means to have Holland and Zeeland, her Highness must resolve presently. Aldegonde hath promised the enemy to bring them to Compound.” After some little delay he was allowed to go to his house of Zoubourg, near Rammekins, where his wife had already taken her abode, announcing that she had escaped from Antwerp in a cask, like merchandise; which statement seemed sufficiently absurd to those who knew the terms on which her husband stood with Parma (p. 648).
As regards French affairs, our information is obtained almost entirely from Sir Edward Stafford's dispatches. Stafford was by no means in the confidence of either the King or his Ministers, but he and Bellièvre, the best and most honest member of the Government, as he emphatically affirmed, were on very good terms; he had constant, and on the whole friendly intercourse with Pinart, the Secretary of State, and he was in close touch with the agents of the King of Navarre. Moreover, his diligent search for intelligence was rewarded with considerable success, and he reported, with due warning as to the amount of credit to be given to them, all the rumours and conjectures floating about Paris.
His reports are almost always interesting, and sometimes valuable in throwing light upon given points—as in his explanation of the cause of the King's anger with Navarre in December, 1584 (see p. xxx below); apart from the importance of his diplomatic dispatches, which, from his thorough knowledge of the French language, may probably be accepted as accurate accounts of what passed between the French King or his Ministers and himself.
The situation in France had been profoundly altered by the death of the Duke of Anjou, and the secret plot-tings of the House of Guise were stirred to a new activity. The attempt of the French King to persuade Henry of Navarre, now heir presumptive to the throne, to profess himself a Catholic had been made in vain. Epernon came back from his mission much gratified by the kind reception accorded to him, but without the hoped for surrender. Speculations as to the relations between the King and the Guises occupied all men's minds. When this volume opens, no member of that house was at the Court, and it was generally thought that the King was jealous of them, and well pleased with their absence. But on this point Stafford was doubtful. The King, he argued, was led by the Jesuits, the Jesuits by the King of Spain, and all of them by the Pope, who would certainly support the Guises against the heretic King of Navarre. And if the French King were so jealous of them as was supposed, he would surely not have kept all their friends in office, and re-appointed one of them, President Neuilly, to an important post in Paris. To this it was answered that though the King might be led in matters of conscience, he was jealous in matters of State, and fearful of any attempt by those who had more of the love of the people than himself (p. 32).
While politicians in Paris were discussing the King's views and motives, the Monarch himself was enjoying himself at Lyons. As shown by the papers in the last volume of the Calendar, he had excused his unwillingness to receive the English ambassadors on the ground of the absolute need for his making the journey. But what the absolute need was, nobody seemed to know. At the end of August, Stafford wrote :—
“We all stood here at gaze, looking for some great matter to come of this so hasty journey to Lyons, and thought that having left such great causes of importance behind him . . . some great matter had been the cause; but . . . in truth there has been nothing but dancing, banquetting from one house and company to another; bravery in apparel glittering like the sun” (p. 30).
Behind all this gaiety, however, lay a real purpose. The King had taken alarm at the prospect of a match between the Duke of Savoy and one of the Spanish Infantas, and hoped to be able to arrange, instead, his marriage with the eldest princess of Lorraine, the Queen Mother's favourite grand-daughter. But it was too late. Joyeuse, being sent to the Duke, returned with the news that the Spanish alliance was finally concluded, and the only result of his mission was that he had an accident on his return journey, while about the same time his fellow Mignon was injured by a fall from his horse. The common people, Stafford wrote, would have been better pleased if they had both broken their necks (p. 31).
The Duke of Savoy's intended marriage was far from agreeable to the French King, seeing that Spain and Savoy lay on either hand of his southern dominions, with all the lands of the King of Navarre, the other Huguenot leaders and the doubtful Duke of Montpensier between them. He was very angry, and left Lyons abruptly immediately afterwards.
Indeed, the dislike to the match in France was almost universal. The Duchess of Nemours was little pleased that the Duke should marry at all, as his having direct heirs would deprive her children (by her second marriage) of their succession, and even if he had no son, might lead to the annexation of Savoy to the Spanish King's other dominions in Italy. And the Scottish faction “stormed” at it because they had hoped for this same match for their own King (p. 52). So Stafford wrote on September 5, and in this same letter we have for the first time the suggestion that the eldest Infanta, hitherto looked upon as the intended bride of the Emperor, might be given to his brother Albert, Cardinal of Austria, of whose “strength and wit” King Philip (very justly) had a much better opinion than of the other. From this time, the alliance was often spoken of, but the marriage did not take place until 1598.
There are several letters from the King of Navarre in the volume, but these are mostly already known, being printed in the Supplement to the Lettres Missives de Henri IV.
Towards the end of September, the French King was in hopes that Navarre would come to him at the Court; and Stafford thought it probable but not desirable, for he feared treachery; recalling the fact that Admiral Coligny's “first meeting with Charles IX (before the St. Bartholomew) was full of kindness, which brought him to Paris and so to his end.” It was believed that the two Kings would meet at Champigny, the Duke of Montpensier's house, but the interview does not seem to have taken place.
By the end of October, the Guises' proceedings were open enough to attract general notice, and it was even rumoured that men were already enrolled, to be ready at the first opportunity. The King was told of their doings, but appeared to take no heed. Stafford's description of him at this time is worth quoting :—
“He is so strange a man of disposition and so unknown in his proceedings, that no man can settle any judgment upon his actions. He is become, since Monsieur's death (whom he stood in fear of) to care for nobody, and so keepeth everyone about him in awe that mother, councillors, Mignons and all quail when he speaketh.”
A month later the report was that he seemed in great fear of intrigues with Spain, on the part of the Guises, of Montmorency, and perhaps of Navarre also. He sent propitiatory messages to Montmorency, declared his confidence in Navarre, and “made much” of the Huguenot agents Laval and du Plessis in Paris. But he also made much of the Cardinal de Bourbon, newly come to the Court, and though it was generally thought that this was done to draw him out of the hands of the Guises, some “deeper seers” suspected a worse intent, to the prejudice of the King of Navarre; which would seem to imply alarm lest the King should be thinking of acknowledging his uncle as his heir (pp. 164, 165).
In Stafford's letter of Dec. 17–27 is an interesting allusion to an interchange of letters between Henry of Navarre and the French King. The latter, it appeared, had been much vexed by the King of Navarre's going to Bayonne, had written to tell him that he had attempted what “never King of Navarre his predecessor had done,” and had sent orders to the towns thereabouts not again to suffer him to enter. To this Navarre had sent by Roquelaure a very dutiful answer, but expressed surprise at the King's anger. He acknowledged that when Kings of Navarre were not well-affected to France they were forbidden to enter Bayonne, but “considering that his predecessors since had lost their kingdom for the affection they bore to France, he thought all such scrupulosity had been taken away,” especially as he had gone thither as governor of Guienne, and was moreover “a chief member of the kingdom of France,” which he took for a greater honour than to be King of Navarre.
To the Queen Mother—
“he added somewhat more sharply that he wondered of this manner of dealing with him, and that after they had sought to dishonour his wife, if they sought to touch his credit and reputation, it was a thing that he neither could nor would bear” (p. 190).
When Stafford wrote, these letters had not yet been delivered; they were therefore presumably sent only some few days before. Neither of them is to be found in the Lettres Missives, but Stafford's letter throws an interesting light upon an undated letter to Bellièvre, rightly put by the editor to about this date, in which the King of Navarre complains bitterly of a letter which he has received from the Court; the answer to which he is sending by Roquelaure. (fn. 5)
Du Plessis was at this time still at the French Court, but went away suddenly and secretly, having had many warnings that mischief was intended against him. The Guises and the Jesuits, naturally, hated him; the Duc d'Epernon was said to have declared that he it was who kept the King of Navarre steadfast in religion, and it was believed that the French King, in spite of his fair words and entertainment, was incensed against him by the Jesuits (p. 192).
On Dec. 31, 1584, new style, the secret treaty between the King of Spain and the chiefs of the House of Lorraine was signed at Joinville, the Holy League formally constituted and funds promised by Philip to carry out the design. But the secret was well kept, and apparently it was not until March 18–28, after Guise had seized Châlons and the war had begun, that it was known at the French Court, (fn. 6) when one La Rochette, a maître-de-camp in Guise's army, being taken and brought before the King, confessed that there was a League agreed upon with the King of Spain, the Pope and the princes of Italy. La Rochette presently withdrew his statement as regards the King of Spain, and said it was an enterprise only of the Duke of Guise, the clergy and the discontented nobility, but nobody believed him. On March 22,” secret advertisement” of this treaty had reached England (pp. 361, 362, 370).
Meanwhile, it was well enough known that the Guises' preparations were proceeding apace. The Duke of Bouillon had reported, towards the end of February, that ten thousand reiters were being levied in Germany. The Cardinal of Guise, taxed with this by the Queen Mother, declared that he knew nothing of it, that his brothers were and would always remain loyal, and that heretics and enemies of their house had probably spread these reports against them (p. 287). Perhaps it was at this same time that the Cardinal went to the King, desiring him to give no credit to reports of his brother's disloyalty, and answering for him that if desired he would come himself to the Court to deny them. To which his Majesty curtly replied that he should believe of the Cardinal's brothers what their actions gave him reason to do, and as they had gone away without cause given, he would not send for them again (p. 311).
Rumours now came thick and fast:—that the Guises' followers had retired into their strong towns; that great store of armour had been sent them out of Paris; that Mercceur had slipped soldiers into Nantes, and that the adherents of the League, were armed and to be on horseback on March 20–30. Those affected to the House of Guise had now all left the Court, and the Duke himself was said to be at Joinville, “greatly accompanied.” Stafford sent a man privately thither, and found that there were not above thirty gentlemen there, but he recalled to mind that when a similar report was received of Admiral Coligny [in 1573], he was found by the King's messenger “at his house, never so smally accompanied, making his wines; yet the next morning he went to horseback and began the troubles” (p. 340).
The King still made light of the matter, nevertheless he sent to the chiefs of the League to demand an explanation of the rumours. Maintenon was dispatched to the Duke of Guise, who made a jest of the reports of his arming, showed that there was nobody with him, and declared that he was about to bring his wife to Paris to lie in there. Not altogether satisfied, Maintenon stopped at Châlons on his return, and gave orders for its protection, after which he travelled back to Paris in such hot haste that he was thrown from his horse and nearly broke his leg. He was closely followed by the Duke's gentleman of the horse, sent to complain of the unjust suspicions against his master, and Madame de Guise also wrote to the ladies of the Court, “jesting at Maintenon's fear and at his fall.”
But late that same night (March 13–23) the news came that the Duke had entered Châlons two hours after Maintenon left it, and that his rendezvous was appointed for the following Tuesday by the forest of Cressi, only eight leagues from Paris. War had begun, and no man knew whence it came or where it would end (pp. 354, 355).
Meanwhile, on the previous Sunday the King had sent for the King of Navarre's agents, Clervant and Chassin-court; told them of the reports, and desired them to write to their Master not to take alarm or make a show of arming; to stand upon his guard, but to do nothing to give the opposite party an excuse for taking arms. He assured them of his firm intent to maintain his edicts and protect those of the Religion, declared on the faith of a King that he hated the Guises and their treacheries, and desired them to declare to the King of Navarre how well he loved him.
Stafford recounts the diversities of opinion obtaining in Paris; as, that the King had invented the rumours himself; that his Majesty's person was to be seized; that he and the Guises were all working together, &c. For his own part, he believed that the King would fain live at peace if he could, as any kind of war was against his will (p. 341).
After entering Châlons, the Duke of Guise tried to make the world believe that he had gone thither only by chance, with no meaning to take it by force; having with him but his ordinary guard. This last statement, Stafford remarked, was true enough; indeed in that town he needed no more, being sure of it without any guard at all (p. 361). The envoy sent to the Cardinal of Bourbon (La Mothe-Fenélon) returned with equally peaceful assurances, the Cardinal promising to come at once to Paris. Instead of doing so, however, he made his way to Châlons, to meet the other heads of the party.
When La Rochette had made his revelations (see p. xxxi above), the King, rather late in the day, “resolved to levy an army,” while the Queen Mother, although in bed with the gout, bravely started off to meet the Duke of Guise, and see whether matters could be settled peacefully. At .the same time, men of mark were again dispatched to the chiefs of the League and to the Duke of Lorraine.
To this last the King appealed “as a brother of France . . . to draw them of his house back from troubling the State”; but this, Stafford opined, was but to speak to the wolf to call back her whelps (pp. 361, 362).
When the first news of the taking of Châlons came, the Queen Mother had bitterly reproached her son for despising all rumours and making no provision for possible events, so that he could not “put three men together.” Measures were now hurriedly taken, and commissions given to raise men; but no one knew how to begin, nobody was willing to be enrolled, all were “standing in a maze, not knowing friends from foes” (p. 371).
The League had one strong weapon in their hands in the popularity of the Duke of Guise. Mayenne also, as Stafford wrote, was “marvellously beloved” in Dauphiny by those of both religions. And on the other side, the Mignons, hated by the people, were disputing with each other the honours and high posts in the King's army. “God help him (wrote Stafford) who leaves all counsels to follow two only, and those two not agreed.”
The heads of the Huguenot party, then assembled at Castres, loyally offered to come to the King's aid with their forces. He accepted the offer very gratefully, to all appearance, and perhaps would really have been glad to close with it, but his Council protested that it would set not only the French Catholics but all foreign princes of that religion against him if it should be seen that against a league claiming to fight for the Catholic religion he took aid from heretics; a thing, moreover, forbidden by his oath as a Knight of the St. Esprit. The Duke of Montpensier alone—cousin to the King of Navarre, but who did not definitely espouse his cause till a year later— boldly warned the King that he had dangerous councillors about him; that for his own part he was a Catholic as much as any of them, but could give no other advice than to embrace those of the Religion, of whom he must say that when in Flanders with Monsieur, he found none more obedient, loving, faithful or diligent in service than they. The King wavered, but did not yield, and as usual when in difficulties, appealed for advice to the mother, whose warnings he had slighted. At least so Stafford wrote; but there is no allusion to the matter in any of the Queen Mother's (printed) letters at this time. She was then nearing Epernay, where she had asked the Cardinal de Bourbon to meet her; though Stafford believed the Guises would try to hold him back, fearing her influence over him. The Cardinal was then at Guise, and had just sent the King an apology for not having fulfilled his promise of going to the Court, being ill in bed, and, moreover, having had warning that he would be thrown into the Bastille as soon as he arrived (p. 379).
The King had now roused himself from his lethargy, and was actively engaged in putting Paris into a state of defence. Those who had commissions to levy men were hastened away, promising, in a month or six weeks' time, to have their troops ready to march against the League. Later reports which had come in tended to show that the enemy's forces were not so strong as had been imagined, and that but two considerable towns (Dijon and Châlons) were as yet in their hands. Even Rheims, of which city the Cardinal of Guise was Archbishop, had only kept silent so long as he was there, and as soon as he departed had sent envoys to the King with assurances of fidelity (p. 380). When Stafford, on March 26, old style, dispatched to England the substance of the Manifesto of the Leaguers (dated March 21–31, but drawn up somewhat earlier), he was beginning to entertain hopes that they would fail. A few days later, however, these hopes had fallen very low, for every day brought news of the loss of towns. The Duke of Guise had put off his answer to the Queen Mother with excuses which were believed to be only devices to gain time, and great doubts were felt as to the result of her negotiations (pp. 389–391, 411). It was still not believed that the King had any secret understanding with the League, but it was feared that all might be lost for lack of good counsel. The only true advisers about him, according to Stafford, were Villeroy and Bellièvre; as to Chiverny and Villequier, he held them to be absolute traitors (pp. 381, 389, 390. See also p. 412). There was “great ado” for money in the Council, and Chiverny declared there was no way of getting any. To this Villeroy indignantly retorted that it was a shame for a matter of so great moment to the King to be risked for want of money, and that, for his part, though he had none, yet he and his father had lands, which could be turned into money, and which he freely offered to the King, but none of the others followed his example. The Duke of Retz, however, before leaving Paris, had offered the King all he had in hand, and credit for more.
On April 9–19, on receipt of a long letter from the Queen Mother, the King announced to his Council that she could do nothing; that the Dukes of Guise and Mayenne had never yet come to her, and that the only points they would agree to yield were the dismissing of the Mignons and interference with the taxes. When, upon this, Chiverny and Villequier urged him to make peace, at whatever cost, he was or pretended to be very angry; declaring that they had better advise him at once to strip himself stark naked and give them a rod to whip him with, and that he would agree to nothing until the Leaguers were disarmed. In Stafford's opinion, the King really meant what he said; although the secrecy with which communications between him and his mother were carried on by means of the physician Miron, gave rise to suspicion. So far, however, he had held to his point that the Leaguers must dismiss their forces before terms could be agreed upon, and had refused to violate the Edict of Pacification; although as regards other articles—their holding of towns, the assembly of a Council, and reformation of matters of State—he was willing to yield. He still bade the King of Navarre not to join in the war, but to hold his troops in readiness (pp. 429, 430). Navarre himself clearly foresaw the end, and feared that the storm would very shortly burst upon him. He sent Ségur again to England, and urged Walsingham to induce the Queen to make up her mind to help without delay; it being easier, as he said, to check an illness at its beginning than to cure it when it had taken firm hold (p. 434). (fn. 7) Turenne, du Plessis and du Pin all added their entreaties. Clervant, writing a few days later, was more explicit in his demands. Aid they must have, and a small succour would be of no use. Unless the Queen could send them 200,000 crowns (to be added to 100,000 from elsewhere) they could not levy and maintain a sufficient army, and without this army it was of no use to expect success. He begged Walsingham, therefore, to persuade the Queen to assist them bountifully, both for their sake and her own (p. 456. See also his letter on (p. 499 and that from Ségur on (p. 534).
At the beginning of May, Stafford reported that all was as uncertain as ever. Miron went to and fro between the King and his mother, but what passed between them only Miron knew. Even yet it was hardly credited that the King would recall his Edict or consent to the League's high demands. Yet Stafford was afraid it might come to this in the end, and urged the Queen to prepare for the worst, pointing out to her how dangerous to her own house the burning of her neighbour's dwelling would be, and that if the League had all the havens of Normandy and Brittany in their hands, as well as those of Picardy, she would need great strength upon the sea, to repel any sudden attempts. At the same time he reported to Burghley, on information from a man whom he had sent into Champagne and Burgundy, that the troops of the League were poor and scattered, and the towns weary of their garrisons, so that if the King would only take courage, collect his forces and show the world that he meant to fight, he believed they would soon lower their tone. He also wrote privately to Walsingham that he had heard from some who knew well the King's meaning that he was simply letting them come on until his forces were stronger, and would then reveal their designs to the world and show himself ready to march against them.
Perhaps stimulated thereto by Stafford's reports, the Queen about this time sent the French King a letter couched in such vigorous language that it is pretty evident she was not indebted to a secretary for its composition. After expressing her sympathy with him in the perilous state into which he had allowed himself to be led, her Majesty exclaims:—
“Mon Dieu, est il possible q'un grand Roy se permecte sans raison et contre honeur un requirant paix de subjects traitres et rebelles, et de ne leur faire du commencement trencher toute commodité de s'agrandir, ou au pis aller a cest' heur' ycy constraindre par forces de prince, se sousmectre au joug de leur merite. . . .
“Helas, croiés vous que le manteau de quoy ils se couvrent de la Religion est si double qu'on ne veoit que ce n'est pour se faire regner soubs vostre nom, mais a leur devotion, et je prie Dieu qu'ils veulent finir là. . . .
“Jesus! Ayt il jamais esté veu qu'un prince fust jamais si espris par lacs de traistres sans avoir ou courrage ou conseil pour y respondre? Sy une Royne en seize jours fist une armee de 300,000 hommes marcher aux champs pour chastier les resveries de deux fols, suscités par aultre prince et non pour leur particulier, que doibt un roy de France faire contre tels qui long temps y à se font descendre par droicte lignee (comme ils songent) de Charlemaigne precedente celle de Valois; et pour pallier mieulx leur faict, ils se protestent champions de la religion Catholique de qui vous estes, vous touchent pour n'estre si fidelle serviteur de l'eglise qu'eulx.
“Pour l'amour de Dieu, ne dormés plus ce trop long sommeil; aprenes de moy, vostre tres fidelle, que ne failleray de vous assister si vous ne fairés un abbandon de vous mesmes. J'entens d'une intermission pour quelques jours; permectes ce temps pour vous fortifier, non pour vous ruyner, et prenés garde de ne venir a leurs conditions, qui vous produiront deshoneur et perte d'estat” (p. 514 et seq.).
It was on May 6–16 that Mauvissière, the French ambassador in England, announced that a suspension of arms for ten days had been agreed upon; and the above letter must therefore have been written about that date.
On June 4–14, Miron returned to Paris, and report said that he brought with him conditions of peace so disadvantageous that the King was ashamed to let them be known. Stafford, however, was confident that nothing had been done to which the King had not consented before hand, and did not believe that the business was yet decided. But on Monday, July 14–24, Villeroy brought to Paris “the conclusion of the peace,” and the next day Stafford knew enough to be able to write that the Edict of Pacification was to be revoked, and that the French forces were to go into Languedoc and Guienne, to be there ready—if the King of Navarre and the Huguenots did not within six months return to the Church and give up their towns—to “effectuate” it by force. The King had already set out for Lagny to meet the Queen Mother, and all was to be settled without delay (p. 542). At Lagny, Clervant and Chassincourt had audience. Clervant spoke out, “plainly and like a gentleman,” but the only comfort they got from the Queen was that she was sure, when the King of Navarre knew the King's will, he would obey it. There was still a chance that the negotiations might fall through, for the King was said to demand that all foreign troops should be dismissed and that Montpensier should have command of the armies, to neither of which conditions it was likely the League would agree. As regards the second point, it was thought very doubtful whether Montpensier would accept the charge, but they hoped to win him through his ambition and devotion to the Catholic faith (p.549). It was apparently on Saturday, June 19–29, that upon a report that peace was actually made, and war about to begin, Clervant went to the King and demanded to know the truth. Henry answered that the King of Navarre needed only to go three or four times to Mass, and after that no more would be said about it (fn. 8) (p. 556).
On June 22, old style, the French King received the King of Navarre's Declaration, (fn. 9) “written all with his own hand.” He was said to be much startled at it, and to have sent orders to his mother to proceed no further until she heard from him again. The Council, it was reported, thought it “the most reasonablest thing” ever set out; but Stafford suspected some “devil work"against it, for whereas Navarre demanded that it should be presented to Parliament and all the ambassadors, the King gave strict orders that it should neither be copied or printed, or given to any (p. 551).
Navarre's own friends, at any rate, based no hopes upon it. Clervant wrote to Walsingham that all who had taken solemn oath to maintain peace with those of the Religion had now compounded their own quarrels at the cost of all that party, including the princes of the blood, most of whom were Catholics; and had done it, moreover, just after the Edict had been confirmed, the Leaguers pronounced enemies and the King of Navarre assured that the quarrel should be prosecuted even as if it were the King's own! The Huguenots were, however, determined to fight, and by God's help would conquer, but once more Clervant emphatically repeated, they must have money. It was fortunate for them that the King and the League had not come to an agreement earlier, as the delay had given them time to strengthen the fortifications of their towns (p. 552).
On the same day a friend in Paris wrote to the Earl of Leicester, giving a good summary of Navarre's Declaration to the King, which had been so well received that rumour said the King meant to make a peace in which the King of Navarre would be included (p. 554).
But rumour was mistaken. The peace with the League was signed on July 7, new style, and even before that day it was known to be a fait accompli, for on July 8, the King of Navarre, then at Nérac, some three hundred and fifty miles from Namours, wrote to Ségur, “maintenant l'on me mande que tout est conclus contre nous.” (fn. 10) This was sent by de Merle; therefore probably to this date is to be assigned the King's undated letter to Walsingham, sent also by de Merle, in which he writes, “C'est a ce coup que la pays [paix] a este fayte et sans moy et contre moy,” and the rather that du Plessis in his letter dated July 8 uses almost the same phrase (pp. 561,562).
Ségur was then on the point of starting for Germany, to try to obtain aid from the Protestant Princes, which with that promised by Elizabeth, would be sufficient to raise a good army, to be led by the Palatine Duke, John Casimir, or, failing him, by Duke Henry Julius of Brunswick (p. 577). Ségur protested strongly against the conditions with which the Queen loaded her offer of help, saying that if there were to be as many difficulties in Germany as in England, he would rather be told frankly that they meant to do nothing (pp. 585–588). With his letter of July 5, he sent Walsingham a copy of the King of Navarre's letter to the King of Scots, which—only if Walsingham approved—was to be dispatched into Scotland. (fn. 11)
One rather curious effect of the treaty of Nemours was somthing like a quarrel between the French King and the Pope. His Holiness, eager to have the matter settled, had thought good to interpose his influence, and dispatched the Beshop of Nazareth to the King. Before the Legate reached Lyons, the peace was concluded, and Henry sent a letter announcing the fact to the Pope by a courier, who also carried directions to the Bishop, if met with en route, not to come on to the Court, as the reason for his mission no longer existed. The Bishop, in high dudgeon, at once turned homeward, and the incident so roused the Pope's anger that he ordered St. Goard, the French ambassador, into arrest in his own house. The ambassador sent an indignant protest, his Holiness waxed still more wrath, and the Frenchman received commandment to leave the territories of the Church within four days. The French King, on receiving the news, was equally enraged, and would have dismissed the resident Nuncio in France [the Bishop of Bergamo] on the spot, but was persuaded by his mother to wait for further explanations. Cardinal d'Este, guardian of the interests of the French nation, was reported to have spoken very plainly to the Pope on the subject, with the result that he also was ordered out of Rome. It was suspected that the League had plotted this insult to St. Goard in revenge for the hindrances which he, with the help of Cardinal d'Este had put in the way of the Duc de Nevers' negotiations at the Papal Court. Stafford would fain have had the French King prove as stout-hearted as the English Henry had. shown himself, but had little hope of it, seeing that when his first fit of anger was pacified, he would usually “put up anything.” The English ambassador's onslaught on the Pope in this letter was surely enough to satisfy anyone that he had no leanings towards Rome (pp. 645, 646).
At the end of August, the Abbot del Bene brought a report to Paris that the King of Navarre and Montmorency were now joined in closest friendship, vowing to defend the French King against those who troubled his estate and endangered his person, and in this quarrel to live and die. Montmorency was resolved to follow the King and the princes of the blood so long as one of them was left, but would have “those strangers” [the Guises] to know that Prance would never forsake her old love to turn to those of strange blood; while Navarre declared that he would do nothing à coup de baton, and if an army were sent against him, would find means both to defend himself and offend others; but if the Queen Mother would herself go to negotiate with him, she should find him very reasonable.
The French King seemed to take the news very quietly, and it was decided that the Queen Mother should accept Navarre's proposal. A rumour spread at this time that the Guises had taken alarm, “and began to speak gently.” Stafford thought they were influenced by the fear of help for Navarre from her Majesty and other princes, and urged that this fear should be turned into certainty by the dispatch of the long talked of succours without further delay. This was the position of affairs at the end of the period covered by this volume of the Calendar.
As regards other matters in relation to France, the proposed concurrence of the French King and the English Queen to aid the Low Countries occupies a large space in Stafford's letters. There were many meetings and discussions on the subject, and a conference was suggested, to be held at Boulogne, but the project came to nothing. Neither of the contracting parties seems to have been in earnest. The French King suspected that Elizabeth meant to embroil him with Spain and then herself make peace with Philip, and for that and other reasons hung back from making any proposition, while Elizabeth was determined that France should appear as the prime mover in the matter. The negotiations of the deputies from the States General have already been noticed. Probably, all through, Henry was only playing with them, but the reason given by him for declining their offer was true enough; his own kingdom being certainly in too disturbed a state for it to be possible for him to take up new and heavy responsibilities.
Personal sketches of the French King occur here and there. Stafford's account of the change noticeable in his character after Monsieur's death has been already quoted (see p. xxx above). Even the Mignons were said to quail before him. But his infatuation for them still knew no bounds. When these “two Kings who rule the King” quarrelled over their future governments in the Low Countries, Henry passionately declared that rather than see dissension between them, he would never hear of the matter more; and of Epernon he openly avowed that he loved him as his brother, and would, if he could, make him even as himself (pp. 230, 238, 257).
At the end of October, 1584, and again in the following January, he was shut up with his Jeronomists at Vincennes, and would neither give audiences nor transact business. But if Stafford's information was correct, his stay there was a colour for a very different mode of life. The King's devotions, he wrote, occupied only a few hours of his time, for every day he never missed to come into Paris for dinner; to spend all the afternoon making merry with his friends, going from one to another until eleven or twelve o'clock at night; then lay “at Zametti's” (fn. 12); rose at six to return to the Bois de Vincennes, and was back again in Paris by noon. But he never lay at the Louvre, or saw his mother or his wife, who, poor lady, had a quarrel with him, “begun of jealousy of her part,” and was pining away with melancholy (p. 257). A little later, Stafford again complained that it was impossible to get at the King; but this time, he was “running up and down the streets like a madman.” As this was written on the Saturday before Ash Wednesday, his Majesty was no doubt taking part in the Carnival merrymakings (p. 302).
The Queen Mother is very much in the background during the early part of this volume. On leaving Paris at the end of August, she joined the King at Chenonceau; went with him to Blois in October, spent the last weeks of the year at St. Germain-en-Laye, and then returned to Paris, where she remained until she set out to meet the Duke of Guise at the end of March. She was a great sufferer from gout, and literally left her bed to undertake the mission. No doubt the King thought it wiser, as well as easier, to remain in the background and let her act on his behalf, as he had often done before. In her hands, the result was a foregone conclusion; she granted everything the Guises demanded, and although the Duke long kept her waiting, when he did take the matter in hand, the business was soon accomplished. Her next efforts involved more difficulty. Her daughter, the Queen of Navarre, finally breaking with her husband, had openly taken the part of the League, and established herself in Agen, which she fortified, and from whence she declined to stir. She declared to her mother that she could not leave it for want of funds; but when Catherine sent money to her, the messenger found that she was well supplied, and being a discreet man, brought it back again (pp. 462, 526). The King of Navarre, who had formerly had cause to suspect her relations with the Duke of Mayenne, announced to the Queen Mother at the end of August that if the Duke went into Guienne while his wife was there, he should repudiate her. This greatly distressed Catherine; much more, probably, than it did Margaret. About this time it was reported that she had applied for help to Spain, being angry with the Duke of Guise for making a peace, “which left her further out than ever she was in.” But though she railed upon him fiercely, this did not make her incline any the more to her husband or brother; vowing that she “would eat their hearts with salt” (pp. 666, 681).
Catherine had worked zealously in the treaty with the Guises, urged on by her desire for peace, the supremacy of the Catholic Church, and last but not least, the overthrow of the Mignons; she was, however, by no means wishful for the Crown of France to be transferred from the House of Bourbon to that of Lorraine, if the rightful heir could be brought to hear “reason” in the matter of religion, and, as already stated, had agreed to accept the King of Navarre's proposal for a meeting.
But there is no trace of this journey, and Henry presently dispatched M. de Lenoncourt, Bishop of Auxerre, accompanied by Brulart and Poigni to that King. There appears, however, to be a reference to the matter in a letter which she wrote on Sept. 14 to Villeroye; the only minister except Bellièvre (according to Stafford) who was at all in sympathy with the King of Navarre. In this letter, speaking of Lenoncourt's mission, she intimates that he had been sent rather in order to prevent her from going than from any other cause; adding, however, that in any case she could not go unless the King first explained to the Pope his reasons for wishing it, and that if the Pope had already made his Declaration against the King of Navarre, there was no more to be said about it, and they must make up their minds to do what those who began these troubles had intended all along. (See Lettres de Catherine de Medicis, t. VIII., p. 351.)
The notices of the Queen's “rebels” and the Scottish refugees in France are not either numerous or important. Apparently Stafford was now holding himself more aloof from them than formerly, in consequence of the Queen's orders, and perhaps of Walsingham's suspicions. There are a few allusions to Parry's plot, in which two of Stafford's servants, Moody and Lylly, were suspected to have been involved; and two or three notices of the thrice-dyed traitor, Solomon Alfred. Towards the end of 1584, well-grounded suspicion of his good faith having been roused in Rome, the Pope deprived him of his stipend of ten crowns a month, and he was warned that if he returned there, he would be “evil-entreated to the death.” By means, however, of cajoling and hard swearing, he managed to convince his Holiness's advisers of his good faith, got his stipend again, and wormed himself into more favour than ever; which essential matter being satisfactorily arranged, he returned to France and put himself once more into communication with the English Secretary. It is not likely that Walsingham was deluded by him, but he was not at all scrupulous as to the character of his spies, so long as he could get from them the information he desired.
Another spy, or pretended spy, was Robert Bruce, who had been the Bishop of Glasgow's secretary. He was about to be sent to Scotland by the Bishop, and offered not only to divulge beforehand the matters intrusted to him, but to do anything possible for the Queen when he got there; always with the proviso that he would run no risks without the certainty of a reward. Stafford affirmed that in truth he was “a great Papist,” and was prompted only by spite or gain or both. But he believed he would discover matters of importance, and advocated his being employed; for (he argued) although there was no trusting a knave who was deceiving those who had trusted him, yet “if there were no knaves, honest men should hardly come by the truth of any enterprises against them”; a sentiment with which, we may be sure, the Secretary entirely agreed. On second thoughts, however, Stafford seems to have been afraid to risk it, and left it entirely to Walsingham's judgment—seeing that having deceived one side, he was likely enough to do the same on the other—whether he should be employed or no (pp. 259, 313). As a matter of fact, he was at this very time conferring with Thomas Morgan in the Bastile, and writing to the Queen of Scots in the character of her devoted servant. (fn. 13)
In the Appendix are letters from Thomas Rogers, alias Berden, another of Walsingham's most successful, because most treacherous, spies, who played his part as an ardent English Catholic in Paris, and sent much information of their doings; sometimes about men who, unknown to him, were also in Walsingham's pay. These Appendix letters were originally amongst the State Papers Foreign, France, but were removed in the middle of the last century to an Addenda volume of Elizabethan Domestic documents. As this volume belongs to quite a different series, it has been thought well to insert some notice of them in the volume to which they should rightly belong.
The only one of the “plotters,” however, who occupies any large space in the present Calendar is Thomas Morgan, the faithful servant of the Queen of Scots, and one of the Bishop of Glasgow's secretaries in Paris. In February, 1584–5, Walsingham wrote to Stafford that Parry had confessed that he was moved to his detestable purpose by Morgan, and that the Queen hoped the French King would make no difficulty in yielding up to her so dangerous a person; but should he do so, Stafford might promise that if Morgan would discover what he knew, he should not be put to death. Stafford succeeded so far as to procure his arrest, but could not persuade the King to give him up, or even to hand over his papers. Just at this point, the Earl of Derby came over to bring the Garter to Henry, and the two ambassadors urgently pressed for Morgan's delivery to them, but the only concession they could gain was that he should be transferred to the Bastile, where “none should speak with him”; and, as regards his papers, that if anything was found in them touching her Majesty, Stafford should know it. Lord Derby had to return home without him, and William Waad, sent over immediately afterwards, was no more successful, and nearly paid dearly for the attempt; for on his return journey, a rumour having been spread that Morgan was with him, he was waylaid by the Duke d'Aumâle near Abbeville, and (according to Morgan's own account) was assaulted, well beaten, and kept in ward until the Duke satisfied himself that the object of the rescue was not there. The English report, however, was that the Duke had used him very courteously, and “after dinner let him go” (pp. 417, 423).
The “Cologne business” was now practically at an end, and Truchsess was living upon the hospitality of the House of Nassau. Rheinberg was the only town which still owned obedience to him, and this was stoutly held by Count Neuenaar, not from any love for the deposed Elector, but because of its importance in relation to his own dominions. Truchsess made periodic appeals to Elizabeth for help to recover his lost bishopric, to which she replied with rather cool assurances that if he could make it “apparent and probable” that the good effects which he foretold would ensue, she should be willing to give him such support as she could afford; but although “with many strong and well-disposed arguments” he endeavoured to prove the honesty, justice and—last but not least—“profit” of his cause, these arguments entirely failed to convince Elizabeth and her ministers; seeing how little real ground he gave for belief that his enterprise would have the support of the Protestant princes, especially Saxony and Brandenburg, without which it would be vain for him to hope to prevail against an adversary more noble in birth, already possessed of almost the whole of the bishopric, and who would not lack the aid of many Catholic princes (pp. 151, 180, 209). If, however, he could prove satisfactorily to her ambassador, Davison, that the Protestant princes would undertake his cause, Elizabeth consented that a sum of 20,000 crowns should be put into his hands. He gave Davison a long list of princes whom he hoped to enlist in his behalf, but was unable to produce a definite arrangement with any of them, saying that resolution must be taken as time and the condition of things offered occasion. This being the case, Elizabeth was not likely to be inclined to hazard anything in behalf of so dubious an undertaking (p. 253).
The struggle between the Hanse towns and the English Eastland merchants for the Baltic trade still went on; the League striving to keep in their own hands a traffic which was extremely profitable to them, owing to the large demand in the island kingdom for masts, cables, tar and other ship-building requisites, and—most important of all—for corn. In earlier days the Hanses had had practically a monopoly of the trade. When they received their first charter from Henry III, they had already long been settled in their House or “Staple” in London (afterwards known as the Steelyard or Stilliard), while the English had no official “residence” in any of their towns until Hamburg, much more linked to the English traders than the other Hanse towns, granted them one in 1567. And even this was withdrawn in 1578 by pressure from the other towns, in retaliation for heavier duties laid upon the Steelyard. In consequence of these heavier burdens, the Hanses had appealed to the Diet of Augsburg in 1582, and a decree had been passed forbidding the English merchants to trade in the Empire; but this had never yet been put in execution by the Emperor. On the contrary, he had issued a decree in May, 1584, stating his conviction that to do so would be harmful even to the Hanses themselves, and would very seriously affect the other merchants of the Empire (see p. 514 of previous volume of the Calendar). At the end of the year, he wrote to Elizabeth, stating that he had advised the Hanse towns to come to an agreement with her, and had engaged to mediate for the restoration and confirmation of their ancient privileges, or at least that the heavy customs laid upon them in 1578 might be removed (p. 201). But the English Merchants Adventurers held themselves to be the aggrieved parties, and would not hear of the restraints upon the Hanse traders being relaxed until their own position was secured. The chief negotiator on their behalf, as shown in the previous volume of the Calendar, was Dr. Henry vam Holt or Holtz, syndic of Hamburg, who had undertaken four several embassies to the Emperor, and in other ways employed himself diligently in the business. In July, 1585, he sent to England a long account of his negotiations, which had ended by the Emperor deciding definitely not to ratify the decree until the whole business had been heard again. This was tantamount to a defeat for the representative of the Hanses—Dr., Hermann Warmbach of Lubeck, who had been heartily supported by the Papal nuncio and Imperial envoy at Prague, and was so confident of success that he had written to Lubeck that the publication of the prohibition was on the point of being made, and he might be expected to bring it home with him in a very short time (p. 614).
As regards the affairs of the Empire and the doings of the Emperor, a good deal of scattered intelligence will be found in the newsletters from Prague, where Rudolf for the most part held his Court. His marriage with the Spanish Infanta was still talked of, but came no nearer to a settlement. There are two or three notices of the festivities held in connexion with the bestowal of the Golden Fleece upon the Emperor himself, his brother Ernestus and his uncle Charles; the investiture being made by his other uncle, the Archduke Ferdinand, already a member of the Order.
About this time the Papal nuncio, Germanico Malaspina, was recalled from the Imperial Court. He had made himself much beloved there, and his departure was greatly regretted; the more so as it was reported that his successor was to be the Bishop of Gaeta, a Spaniard, “a nation little loved” in Germany (pp. 331, 589, 609). The Pope certainly seems to have thought of him, (fn. 14) but probably found that the appointment would not be acceptable, and Malaspina was succeeded not by the Spanish Bishop, but by Sega, Bishop of Piacenza.
The personal notices of Elizabeth are few and slight, but what there are tend to show how far from easy a task it was for her ministers to please her, especially when the disbursement of money or the exercise of patience was in question. Even when she was best pleased, Stafford wrote that “asking somewhat” was enough to make her fall out with any man (p. 20). Speaking of Stafford's reports of his audiences with the French King, Walsingham warned him that he must merely set down the substance and material points, as her Majesty had not patience to read “long discourses in letters.” It is possible, however, that Walsingham was at his old trick of trying to prevent the ambassador from getting too much into personal touch with his mistress, for he goes on to urge him to write all to himself at full length, as, although the Queen dislikes it, it is necessary for her advisers to know the circumstances as well as the causes of what has taken place (p. 119). Her moods, too, were very variable, and orders sent by her in one letter were always liable to be altered in the next, making it difficult for her representatives to know how to act, as Stafford sometimes found to his cost. Ste. Aldegonde, impatient with her promises of help left unfulfilled, is said to have declared that she was the most inconstant lady in the world (p. 690).
Her spirited letter to the French King has been already quoted (see p. xxxviii above). The most interesting personal matter in the volume, however, is the Declaration or Apology which she issued in regard to the aid sent by her to the Low Countries; an apology chiefly intended for the Prince of Parma, and which foreshadows the curious negotiations carried on with Spain, of which much will be heard at a rather later date. This Declaration was evidently meant to be carried by Sir John Smith, for on p. 671 will be found Instructions to him, dated August 22, 1585, in which he is desired to let the Prince understand that conceiving there would be divers bruits of the cause of her sending forces to the Low Countries, she has thought meet to acquaint him truly thereof, both in respect of his office and of his reputation as a most wise and honourable prince. Which thing she has notified to him and published to the whole world by the Declaration which Sir John is to present to him. He is further to be prayed to enter into a treaty with the United Provinces to compound their differences with the King, or, if he declares he has no authority to do so, then to be moved at any rate to consent to a cessation of arms until his Majesty's pleasure can be known. The article on Sir John Smith in the Dictionary of National Biography states that after 1577, he in vain solicited any further official employment, but that he actually went on this mission seems clear from a letter written by the Earl of Leicester a few months afterwards, in relation to the rumours that Elizabeth meant to make peace with Spain, in which he alludes to Sir John Smith's embassage (Leicester Correspondence, p. 93).
After the death of the Prince of Orange, the question arose as to what was best to be done as regards his six young daughters by his third wife, Charlotte of Bourbon, the eldest of whom was now about ten years old. Their natural guardians were their mother's brother and sister, the Duke of Montpensier and the Duchess of Bouillon; but the latter, who was a Protestant, was extremely anxious to keep them out of the Duke's hands. The third girl, Brabantine, being her own godchild, would naturally come to her, and she easily arranged that the next two should be taken charge of by their godmothers, the Countess of Schwarzenburg (their father's sister), and Emeline, Electress Palatine (widow of Frederic III), while it was proposed that the youngest of all should remain with one Madame de Paraclet, a cousin, who already had the care of her. But the Duchess's ardent desire for the two eldest was that they should be taken to England and brought up under the wing of Queen Elizabeth. Very shortly after the Prince's murder, she sent two of her gentlemen, the Sieurs de Jolitemps and de Civille, to the English Court. Her Instructions to Jolitemp speak of a desire expressed by the Queen to have the two eldest, “to bring up near her person.” I have found no trace amongst the State Papers of Elizabeth having ever made such an offer, and the Instructions to Civille make no allusion to it. He was to represent to her Majesty the Duchess's anxiety that her nieces—brought up “in the love and fear of God”—may not be withdrawn from this good training, and to humbly pray the Queen to take the two eldest and confirm the proposed disposal of the others. Then followed a very curious request. In order that the Duke of Montpensier might not know that his sister was meddling in the matter (which would make him vexed and irritated with her, as he wished to take two or three of the children himself), Madame de Bouillon besought her Majesty to write to him that upon request made to her long before his death by the Prince of Orange, she had agreed to take charge of his daughters; reserving the two eldest to be brought up near herself; and that in pursuance of this agreement she had already written to Madame de Bouillon to take the third, and to Madame de Paraclet to keep the youngest, the other two being already disposed of. Exactly what Elizabeth said to M. de Civille, when he made this remarkable proposition, we do not know; but that it was made and met with a flat refusal is told us by a letter from Beale to Walsingham, preserved amongst the Domestic State Papers; an interesting instance of the way in which two documents, found far apart, may throw light upon each other. (fn. 15)
A month later, Civille was still waiting for the Queen's letters to the Duchess. The Earl of Leicester had told him that her Majesty would only take her own godchild, Elizabeth, but had promised, if the eldest was sent over at the same time, to do his best to persuade his mistress to keep both. At any rate, if this failed, Civille hoped to have her letters to the Princess Catherine of Navarre, asking her to take the eldest (Louise), in order to keep her out of Montpensier's government, and so “rescue her from papacy” (p. 103).
When at length Civille received the letters, they included one to the Duke, but this he begged might be sent through Elizabeth's own ambassador in France, that the Duchess of Bouillon might not be suspected to have had a hand in the negotiation; also that it might be held back until the Queen's letter to the Princess of Navarre had been received and a reply sent; for fear that M. de Montpensier might break the Duchess's “pious design” (p. 112). It is doubtful whether the little Elizabeth was sent to her godmother. I have not been able to find any trace of her being in England amongst the letters or chronicles of the time. The Wardrobe accounts for these years, though giving amazing lists of velvets, silks and satins supplied for the Queen's wardrobe, give the names of no recipients, except a few of the ladies and officers of the chamber; but there are lists of New Year's gifts to and from her Majesty, printed by Nichols in the Progress as of Elizabeth, in none of which her name occurs, as it might be expected to do if she was at the English Court.
An interesting feature in this volume is a series of newsletters which begins in February, 1584–5. They were sent from Rome, but from whom they came, and how they found their way into England, does not appear. They are all written in Italian, and presumably by someone in the entourage of the Pope, as they show a very detailed knowledge of the doings of high ecclesiastics, the proceedings in Consistory, &c. Most of them, in addition to Roman news, give “advertisements” from Prague, Cologne or Antwerp and Venice, which have usually been copied by the Roman writer; but in one case the sheet has evidently been forwarded as received by him, and this is addressed to the Signor Lelio de la Penna in Rome. Two of the newsletters are addressed in the hand of the writer to a Mr. William Gent, “gentilhuomo Inglese” at Lyons, and three more to the Signori Dominico and Ottaviano della Torre, at the same place. They may, perhaps, have been sent to the English ambassador in Paris, and by him forwarded into England. During Cobham's embassy it is evident that newsletters were thus sent to him, more or less of the contents of which he copied into his dispatches.
The first group of these newsletters occurs in the months of February and March, 1584–5. Then there is a break; but they begin again in June, going on through July and part of August. These last are written in a different and much smaller hand, but were evidently from the same source, and are sometimes dated in the earlier handwriting. In some numbers of this later group, the news sent from other towns is copied before that from Rome itself, and this has led to their being inserted in another packet of newsletters: viz., Vol. XCV., “News from divers parts.” But the separation is of little consequence, as they are now all brought into line in the Calendar. Many of them are of great length, and it has only been possible to give extracts of their contents, and even so, there must have been more curtailment if their number had been much larger. The Italian is good on the whole, but some of the renderings of foreign names are rather difficult to identify.
The news from Rome includes a great deal of gossipy intelligence concerning the nobles of Italy—their doings, marriages, quarrels, &c.; the performances of the bandits and banished men and the measures taken against them; the proceedings, promotions and deaths of Cardinals and other ecclesiastics and officials, and last, but not least, a considerable amount of information concerning Pope Sixtus V. Of his predecessor, Gregory XIII, the few notices which occur relate to his proceedings against bandits, his devotions in Lent and Holy Week, and his reception of the converted princes from Japan (pp. 329, 330, 363, 364). From other sources we hear of his death, which occurred on April 10, new style, 1585. Davison mentions a (premature) rumour of it on March 26 (p. 384); and Stafford knew of it on April 10, old style, the news having arrived two days before. He wrote to Walsingham that the King of Spain had such a party in Rome that he believed the new Pontiff would be “at his devotion,” yet that from fear of the power of Spain, he believed many princes would endeavour “either to hinder or linger” such an election (p. 408). On p. 651 is an interesting account of the intrigues which prevented the election of Cardinal Farnese.
On April 24, n.s., Felix Peretti, Cardinal of Montalto, was chosen Pope. The news reached Prague on Sunday, May 5, and was said to have given great satisfaction to the Imperial Court. On Saturday, May 11, a great Consistory was presided over by the Pontiff, in which three new Cardinals received their hats, many churches were “settled” and legates were appointed for various parts of Italy by his Holiness, who ended the proceedings by declaring his nephew's son Cardinal of Montalto, in succession to himself. The commune of Fermo petitioned that the youthful Cardinal might be their governor. This the Pope refused, saying that for some years to come he had more need to be governed than to govern others; but he granted him the revenues of an abbey, and in other ways did not neglect the interests of his family, or at any rate they did not neglect their own. Negotiations were set on foot for the marriage of his nieces into noble houses; and we are told that two of his nephews have come to Rome, and that relatives of his Holiness “continually arrive” (pp. 468, 469). Meanwhile embassies poured into the city, from princes and towns, to congratulate the new Pope, that from France being headed by Cardinal Vaudemont, brother of the French Queen. The Japanese princes were now about to start on their homeward way, to whom the Pope gave presents of money and collars, creating them Knights of the Order of the Golden Spurs, and intrusting to their care many sacred gifts for the “Kings” from whom they came.
On Sunday, May 26, a Holy Jubilee to pray for the peace of France was proclaimed with due solemnities at the Church of Ara Cœli; after which his Holiness, with the whole sacred College, proceeded on foot to Santa Maria Maggiore, where, solemnly and with tears in his eyes, he blessed the people. On the eve of the Ascension, he assisted at vespers in the Vatican, and on the Festival itself, after mass in S. Peter's, again gave the people his benediction. It is mentioned that on this same day, about seventy slaves, rescued by the Fathers of the Redemption and brought to Rome, came into S. Peter's, for whom the Volto Santo (napkin of Ste. Veronica with the face of Christ) was exhibited (pp. 492, 519, 520).
In June we hear for the first time of the Pope going to lodge at Monte Cavallo, “in the new palace made by Pope Gregory in the garden of the Cardinal d'Este,” the place of all others in Rome which he loved the best (p. 539; see also p. 592). Here he spent much of his time, and in the beautiful gardens there he often gave his audiences. On Trinity Sunday he went to mass in Sta. Maria Maggiore, and next day was present at the laying of the first stone of the new church of Sto. Spirito, where he granted indulgences to the immense concourse of people there gathered together. On Corpus Christi he celebrated mass in the Sistine Chapel, going in procession on foot in great state. He had, just at this time, made the church of Sta. Maria in Via “titular” thus throwing out that of S. Marcello. Remonstrances were offered on behalf of the latter, but his Holiness only replied, quod scripsi, scripsi.
This Pope's rigorous love of justice, hatred of vice, care for the city and people of Rome, and desire to enhance the power and glory of the Holy See are illustrated by several notices. When there was a dearth of corn in the city, we are told that he summoned a private Consistory at the Capitol, and demanded certain taxes for the purchase of large quantities, to be sold at a fixed rate, “to maintain the city in plenty.” Two matters which engaged much of his attention at this time were the extermination of bandits and the prosecution of the Duke of Galese (Cardinal Altemps' son) for immorality. It was at one time thought that the young man would be condemned to death, but, in the end, having married the lady, and agreed to distribute large sums “for the marriage of other girls,” he obtained his pardon (pp. 592, 593, 601, 608, 657). In this connexion may be mentioned the Pope's appointment of Commissioners for a general reform of morals (the classes specially mentioned being of “priests, friars and strumpets”) which, it was reported, was to be carried on more rigorously than in the time of Pio Quinto (p. 629). But perhaps the scheme in which he was most deeply interested was the gathering of a great mass of money, not for himself, but for the further endowment and strengthening of the Papal Chair. For this purpose he proposed to raise money from the people of Rome, the clergy, and the officials and revenues of the Church, to be deposited in the Castle of St. Angelo, and not to be touched save for pressing need of Church or State. He also set up what was called a Monte non vacabile: i.e., a bank which was not to be opened until after a certain time. In this case the period was fixed at three years. The object was said to be to obtain a sum of money for the service of the Holy See, probably for some enterprise which his Holiness was planning for a future date.
There are very few notices of the Pope's relations with other powers. His anger against the French King, in relation to the Bishop of Nazareth's mission, has been already mentioned (see p. xli above). Here and there allusions occur to his support or supposed support of the Guises, but which was rather support of the Catholic Church against the danger threatening it from a Protestant heir to the throne than approbation of the doings of the League. What he really desired was a war against heresy, but made by the French King, not by the House of Lorraine, and the conversion of Henry of Navarre would have pleased him best of all.
The advertisements from Prague, Cologne and Antwerp have been noticed under the headings of Antwerp and Germany. Those from Venice tell of the proceedings of the Doge and “Signoria” (a term used loosely for the Senate, the College, or both); the coming and going of ambassadors and other distinguished visitors; and incidents in the daily life of the city and of adjacent towns. The wandering Japanese princes did not fail to visit it, and were received with all honour (pp. 530, 546). We read of one Father Siculo, a very famous preacher, whom the people flocked to hear; of the Spartan sternness with which the Senate condemned to death the victorious leader of their galleys, because having gained the victory, he had not known how to make use of it; of a great tragedy to be performed at the Carnival, in which were to be a hundred speaking characters, and a hundred others besides (pp. 264, 265, 282). During the Carnival itself, there is mention of the bull-running in the Piazza of St. Mark, and of a pastoral acted in the Doge's palace; also an account of the extraordinary number of accidents and crimes which had taken place, making Venice, it was said, like the forest of Bavano. Thank God, the writer concluded, the Carnival is ended, and the hurly-burly all over (pp. 306, 332). The yearly rites for the late Cardinal Zeno, a great benefactor of the city, are mentioned on p. 470. The Doge (Nicolas di Ponte) was too feeble to be present, though he still took part in important deliberations in the College, and was determined to come out on the Feast of the Ascension to espouse the sea. Whether the aged man—he was ninety-three—was able to carry out his wish does not appear, as the only notice of the day is that it passed very quietly. On Wednesday, July 31, n.s., as he was being helped to his chamber, he “dropped his head and passed to a better life” (p. 630). Immediately after his death, the conclave of Senators, known as the “Forty-one,” were shut up for the election of his successor. They were chosen by a long series of ballots and election, and like the conclave at Rome for the election of a Pope, were not allowed to leave the palace until their decision was made; a vote of twenty-five being necessary in favour of the successful Senator. The two most favoured candidates on this occasion were members severally of the distinguished Venetian houses of Moresini and Emo, and both were Procurators of St. Mark's, the Council of Nine who had the distribution of the great wealth of that Church.
For several days the electors could not agree, a delay involving much inconvenience to the city, as almost all business was suspended; but on Sunday, August 18, they came to a decision, and Pasquale Cicogna, also a Procurator of St. Mark's, was declared Doge. We are told that the news was brought to him while he was at mass at the Crociccieri (sic, see note on p. 658), an account which exactly tallies with the paintings on the walls of the Capella Zen, attached to the Scuola de' Crociferi, close to the Fondamente Nuove. He was conducted in state in a gondola to the palace, and, next day, after taking the oath in St. Mark's, was, according to custom, carried round the Piazza, scattering gold and silver coins to the people; the ducal cap was placed on his head, and “in very elegant words,” he made the usual promises to the people of justice, plenty and peace (p. 658). And so the reign of the new Roi Fainéant was begun.
On p. 521 there is mention of a great lottery of silver plate held “on the Rialto,” presumably the marketplace of that district. In any case it could not be the bridge, which was only begun by Doge Cicogna in 1592. One or two references are made to the Council of the Pregadi, which, according to Moreri, was the Senate, in its capacity of deciding on affairs of peace, war and alliances; to the Savii Grandi, which acted as a consulting committee to the Senate, and from which alone ambassadors to the Pope, Emperor and Grand Signor were chosen; and to the Savii de gli ordini, perhaps the same as the Savii di terra ferma, a somewhat less distinguished body than the preceding, but with much the same functions.
Scattered here and there in the newsletters are also allusions to events in Naples, Florence, Padua, &c, which will easily be found by reference to the Index.
I do not think there are any obsolete words in this volume which have not occurred in previous ones. A list of proverbial sayings is given in the Index.
In these times of storm and stress, no explanation is needed for the delay in the publication of a volume which, under ordinary circumstances, would have been issued long ago; but the next instalment of the Calendar is on the verge of completion, and will, it is hoped, follow this one very quickly.