Elizabeth: January 1586, 1-5

Pages 273-282

Calendar of State Papers Foreign: Elizabeth, Volume 20, September 1585-May 1586. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1921.

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January 1586, 1–5

Jan. 1. “A brief of the rules made by the French King, the first of January, 1585.” (fn. 1) In two parts, the 1st containing nineteen articles; the second, ten.
“The order which the King will have to be kept in his Court, as well in the ordering of the houses, as the manner he would be honoured, accompanied and served.”
English translation. 9 pp. in all. [France XV. 1.]
Jan. 1. Col. Thomas Morgan to Walsingham.
Being bound to your honour many ways, I make bold to present you with the course of affairs on this side.
His Excellency had a very slow passage into Holland, by reason of the mists and contrary winds, spending four days in his journey between Middelburg and Dort. But being arrived, he was (with my lord governor of Flushing) most honourably received and entertained. Since then I have heard nothing of them, as their letters cannot yet pass “by means of the rivers closed up with the frost.”
On Dec. 27, M. Ste. Aldegonde (St. Allagondy) walked from his house to Flushing, about an English mile; where meeting with me, he began to wade into matters of state and at last fell to touching her Majesty's entrance into this cause, “which (he said) was an action of high importance, considering how much it behoved her to go through with the same, as well in regard of the distressed people here, as for the credit of the worthy personage whom she had placed as her lieutenant.
“The opportunity thus offered, and the way opened by himself, I thought good to discourse with him to the full; partly to see the end and drift of his induced talk, and consequently to touch his quick in the suspected cause of Antwerp. Wherein first of all, I charged him with his want of confidence in her Majesty's promised aid, a thing of no small moment, had it been embraced when it was first most graciously offered. To this he saith that he left not her princely purpose unknown to the States, who too coldly and carelessly passed over the benefit thereof until it was too late to put the same in practice. And for his own part, he acknowledgeth that indeed he thought some future advice would either alter or at the least detract the accomplishment of her determination; the rather for that she had so long been wedded to peace, he supposed it a thing unpossible to divorce her from so sweet a spouse. But set it down that she were resolute, yet the sickness of Antwerp was so dangerous as it was to be doubted the patient would be dead before the physician could come. Protesting further that the state of the town was much worse than was known to any but to himself and some other few private persons; the want of victuals also being far greater than they durst bewray, fearing lest the common people, perceiving the plague of famine to be [at] hand, would rather grow desperate than patiently to expect some happy event; for as they were many in number, so were they wonderfully divided; some being Martinists, some Papists, some neither the one nor the other; but generally given to be factious, so that the horror at home was equal with the hazard abroad.
“Hereupon I did put him in remembrance of the motion made by the martial men for putting out of the town such as were simple artificers, with women and children, mouths that consumed meat, but stood in no stead for defence. Alas (quoth he) would you have had me guilty of the slaughter of so many innocents, whose lives were committed to my charge as well as the best? Or might I have answered my God when those massacred creature should have 'stand' up against me, that the hope of Antwerp's deliverance was purchased with the blood of so many simple souls? No, no, I should have found in my conscience such a hell and continual worm as the knawing thereof would have been more painful and bitter than the possession of the whole world would have been pleasant.
“Thus doth he from point to point answer all objections from the first to the last, and that in such sound and substantial manner, with a strong show of truth, as I think his very enemies (having heard his tale) would be satisfied. And truly, Sir, as I have heretofore thought hardly of him, being led by a superficial judgment of things as they stood in outward appearance, so now, having pierced deep and weighed causes by a sounder and more deliberate consideration, I find myself somewhat changed in conceit; not so much carried away by the sweetness of his speech as confirmed by the force of his religious profession, wherein he remaineth constant without wavering; an argument of great strength to set him free from treacherous attempts; but as I am herein least able and most unworthy to yield any censure, much less to give advice, so I leave the man and the matter to your honour's opinion, only (your graver judgment reserved) thus I think, that it were good either to employ him as a friend, or as an enemy to remove him further from us, being a man of such action as the world knoweth he is.
“To conclude, this was the upshot between us. He finished his talk with a solemn profession of a duty and service vowed towards her Majesty, which he would be ready to perform where and when it should best like her to use the same; adding moreover that he hath oftentimes determined to pass into England, to make his own purgation, yet fearing lest her Highness would mislike so bold an intrusion, he checked that purpose with a resolution to tarry the Lord's leisure, until some better opportunity might answer his desire; for since he knoweth not how he standeth in her grace, unwilling he is to attempt her presence without permission; but might it please her to command his attendance, he would not only most joyfully accomplish the same, but also satisfy her of and in all such matters as he standeth charged with, and afterward spend both life, land and goods to witness his duty towards her Highness.
“Which vehement protestation being ended, I told him in plain terms that if he were in heart the same man that he seemed outwardly to be, I doubted not but her Majesty might easily be persuaded to conceive a gracious opinion of him; and that for mine own part, I would surely advertise your honour of as much matter as the present conference had ministered; wherewith he seemed not only content, but most glad thereof. Therefore I beseech your honour to vouchsafe some few lines herein, that I may return him some part of your mind. I have already written hereof to the Lord Governor of Flushing, with request that his Excellency may presently be made acquainted with the cause.”
I have also imparted to the Governor the state of our garrison at Flushing, which is full of wants, but I hope you will so determine thereof that we shall be supplied. “It is held necessary to rule these people with a slack rein, until we are better settled in government, and then by degrees to grow to reformations, and in the end to draw them to depend on us, not we on them.”
I humbly desire your favour that I may obtain her Majesty's letter to his Excellency for recovery of my three months' pay for my last service at Antwerp, and also that you will remember my request concerning the estate of your servant Mathew Morgan.—Flushing, 1 January, 1585.
Add. Endd. 3 pp. [Holland VI. 1.]
The narrative of the conversation with Ste. Aldegonde is mostly given by Motley, but turned into the oratio recta, and the order of the paragraphs altered.
Jan. 2. Stafford to Walsingham.
The bearer will give you account of the dealing with the priests in the matter you know of. I send you a letter to me from one of them. When he comes to speak with me, I hope to encourage him “in any good mind he can have.”
You must give Aldred warning, as from yourself, “to be secret in his dealings and circumspect; for the poor man doth so abound with good will that he is too open, for he hath dealt with some in this town to the same effect as with the priests, and hath told them he and I had commission to deal in it together, which hath been brought to me, as divers things else; for here are two, almost three factions in this town among our discontented people, which I find means to nourish, so that thieves falling out, true men come often to their goods. Charles Arundel and Paget fell out the last day in Glasgow's house, and if it had not been for Lord 'Glaude,' Arundel had thrust his dagger in him. Now with C. Paget and Morgan there is none of our discontented in this town linked but Meredith the priest that came of late out of England, who hath continual access to Morgan in the Bastile, and Jesuits and some few priests, but very few. The rest hate and envy them, because they take all things upon them and specially in Queen of Scots' matters. Glasgow himself, but that he dareth make no show of it, is not of the best contented with them, for they have almost 'liked' him of dealing in any matter of the Queen of Scots but that he must needs deal in.
“I pray, Sir, be a means to procure some favour for Fitzharbert that is here, for besides that I think I durst assure you that on this side the sea there is not an honester man to his country of his religion than he, the well dealing with him may put courage into many others that have but a prick of conscience and not evil will to the State.
“The ambassador of Spain giveth out a great speech here, and showeth letters of it, that our English men should be driven from Nimegen, and lose their ordnance and fifteen or sixteen hundred slain. His coggers that he hath about the town to carry news show letters, and one of them was sent me, but I think they be counterfeit from Antwerp, of four thousand that were slain, and that my lord of Leicester being at Amsterdam, the people should so much mutiny upon it that he was fain to retire himself back again to Flushing. The letter was sent me to see by one that serveth for a double spy, and a little scroll with it, to know what I thought of it. I could not tell what to answer to it, but writ underneath the scroll, Omnis homo mendax.”
“The Spanish ambassador giveth out here that my lord of Leicester at his coming asked ten thousand crowns a month of the States for himself and his guard, and other ten thousand for his Council and officers, that they were amazed with it. This Bernardin and his bells ring all things about what pleaseth them. They have made upon a sudden a new truce for three years between the Prince of Parma and C[ambra]y, (fn. 2) which, considering the slack payment the garrison hath, and that in the truce they cannot issue to get spoil, will put the town in hazard of losing; for the soldiers already come away all they can and cast themselves over the walls rather than they will tarry.”
I send you a letter that one of the priests writ to me. If Aldred do not come over again, if you send me directions I will deal accordingly, in the best manner I can. In the mean time I pray you, be as good to this poor fellow as you may.—Paris, 2 January, 1585.
Holograph. Add. Endd. 2 pp. [France XV. 2.]
Jan. 2. Lord North to Burghley.
On New Year's Day [o.s.], the deputies of the provinces came unto my lord, and with one assent, by the mouth of a principal man, offered him, for her Majesty, the government of Zeeland, Holland, Friesland and Utrecht, as well in marital matters as in causes civil. “They put under his commandment all governors, colonels, admirals, captains and other officers whatsoever; they offered the profits of all the demesnes, the ordinary taxes which those people pay that contribute both to the enemy and them for their peace. They offered 200,000 florins a month for this whole year to come . . . toward the maintenance of the wars, with many other dignities and honours; thus much or more I think have been offered to Monsieur before. My lord gave them great thanks for their great offers, and, prayed them to digest it in writing, which, when he had considered, he would shape them answer. I do not see his lordship minded as yet to accept it, or if he do, I suppose he will have laid down plainly and certainly how and which way this liberal offer may have performance, that he be not paid with words. Next he will look how far forth these men will tie him for this proportion of money.” This will take some time, for you know how slowly these States work, but my lord seems to spend no time wastefully.
The reports of the Prince of Parma's camp are as uncertain here as in England. Some say he has sent many of his horsemen to the Guise (which I believe not), yet it is true that in Flanders and Brabant they are marvellously distressed for horse-meat and man's meat. Others say he expects my lord's coming to Utrecht, and purposes to welcome him there.
His forces in Overyssel within these ten days attempted a town there called Deventre and another called Grave, “of which he failed, the treachery of Deventre being discovered before his coming.”
My lord goes to-morrow to Leyden, and is sending two hundred lances to Utrecht under Sir William Russell. He has made Sir William Stanley provost-marshal, Captain Read sergeant-major and Sir William Russell lieutenant of the horse (as I suppose).
Your lordship sees me “more willing to trouble you than able to furnish you with good matter,” but I shall not fail to visit you with my letters so long as I find them received in good part.—The Hague, 2 January, 1585.
Holograph. Add. Endd.pp. [Holland VI. 2.]
Jan. 2/12. Thos. Digges to Walsingham.
The boats of Dunkirk do daily so annoy our nation, and there is such a secret confederacy between them and the men-of-war of this country, that nothing would be of greater service than to have some of our own countrymen in convenient barks in the harbour of Ostend, well armed, able to set out upon the sudden, “and take most of all the fishermen of Dunkirk, which were so great a blow unto them as half the winning of their town.”
The bearer of this, Nicholas Stace, is a very sufficient master and pilot for these coasts, willing to adventure himself, with a good bark, and to draw in others, which I signify to you that by your favour he may be encouraged to proceed in this action.
Our Governor is in Holland, at the Court, and myself having finished the musters here and at Ostend and almost recovered the use of my leg, am departing thither, “with good hope that his Excellency will shortly establish such good orders . . . that these weak, bad-furnished, ill-armed and worse trained bands may shortly prove as complete and gallant companies as shall be found in any garrisons of Europe. In my musters, I examine their furniture, arming and training, and doubt not but his Excellency will establish such ordinances for the reward of well-deservers and punishment of offenders as will shortly breed a marvellous alteration; most of them (especially the shot) being so unskilful that if carried to the field no better trained than they are, they would prove much more dangerous to their own companions than serviceable upon their enemies. The estate of the soldiers (excepting officers) is so miserable that the captains confess they have been offered by many of their men thirty and forty pounds apiece to be dismissed, “whereby I doubt the flower of the pressed English bands are gone, and the remnant supplied with such baddy (fn. 3) persons as commonly in voluntary procurements men are glad to accept.”
When I have passed over all the garrisons and taken a view of the frontier towns, I shall be able to inform you more at large, and meanwhile pray for the continuance of your favour, if my wife or friends shall be forced to complain to you of any hard measures offered me in my absence by the Chief Baron.—Vlissinge, 2–12 January, 1585–6.
Add. Endd.pp. [Ibid. VI. 3.]
Jan. 2. Extract (in English) of a letter from Fontarabia.
It is said the King will come to Lisbon on his return from Valencia. Report goes of wonderful preparations for the sea, both at Seville and Lisbon, and the like is expected here, as Francisco de Huarte of Seville is looked for. Fifty poor silly Portugals have come here who did flee from Dartmouth to St. Malos, and say that at Dartmouth there is neither ordnance, powder or shot, except in the ships; neither any watching or warding, and that with two gallies they will do what they list—“We have an old saying: A man shall know by te folks how the market goeth. I doubt not but her Majesty's purse hath sufficiently provided for the defence of that place, but until such time as a hundred of such lewd subjects as have the government of the like causes be hanged, one against the other, it will not be remedied.”
They complain greatly here of lack of ordnance. “I beseech God shorten the days of them that will consent to have any go out of the realm; too much is already gone, and that will cost many an Englishman his life and hath done.”
Villa Reale has sent to the court, and his correo came back without any hope of our delivery. God send us well out of the country, for I fear the bloody butchers.
The whole province means to petition the King to release all that brought corn, and that all nations that will bring them any may have free trade; and will further advise him that if he do it not, they and their children will starve. “Seven whaleships are come home. Some brought 30 hogsheads, some 60 and thereabouts; a great plague for this miserable province.”
Endd. by Walsingham's clerk, “Advertisements out of Spain, 2 January, 1585,” therefore probably old style. 1 p. [News-letters XC. 21.]
Jan. 2. Stephen le Steur to Walsingham.
Yesterday Mr. Bodenham received a letter from Mr. Thomson, dated 16th of last month, stylo antiquo, which, as it somewhat concerns my liberty he has to-day showed to me. I see that Mr. Tomson has been three times in the Tower to visit Pedro “Cibiur”; that the said Cibiur has written sundry letters to his friends on this side, which Tomson is to bring, who intended to begin his journey the next day, and to come hither by way of Calais to treat for the liberty of all us English prisoners, in exchange for Cibiur. We now hear that a bark coming from England for Calais was cast away on this coast five or six days since. My fear that Mr. Tomson may be cast away, and that our imprisonment may yet continue a long time unless the charge be committed to another, emboldens me to molest you with these lines to beg you, if Tomson be cast away, to give the like charge to some other who may deliver me out of this miserable place, that I may employ the rest of my poor life in the service of my honourable master and his noble parents.
I perceive by Mr. Bodenham that it would be necessary for you (by a letter to him) to confirm what Tomson writes, viz. that Pedro Cibiur should be delivered free at Calais if we were all likewise delivered there in safety.
And it were not amiss to mention how our charges should be paid, if this exchange be made.—Prisons of Dunkirk, 2 January, 1585, Stylo antiquo.
Add. Endd. 1 p. [Flanders I. 52.]
Jan. 3. Ortell to Walsingham.
The great and daily increasing wrongs done to us at sea, both by the ships under command of the Admiral and by your people themselves, constrain me to write once more to you, as my health does not permit me to come in person. The inhabitants and merchants of the Low Countries, servants and allies of her Majesty, having there paid the ordinary duties and customs, and having full licence to carry their merchandise into the ports of France (not being victuals, munition of war or anything else serving for the equipment of ships) are so troubled here, that though they present and have several times presented the third of their goods, they cannot obtain right and justice, besides the great wrong done to them by being sent from one person to another, being treated neither more nor less than as those whom it was sought to make lose heart, courage and patience, and by such means to weary them in their just pursuit.
The States themselves have written roundly in the matter, desiring rather to see redress of these and the like disorders than to see them increase from day to day, not only against their authority and reputation, but also to the total subversion of trade by sea, on which depends (after God) their only means for the war.
The merchants complained to her Majesty's Council, but were referred to the Judges of the Admiralty, and thus to the very men who, in my opinion, against all the ancient treaties, seek by one way or another to make themselves judges of the affairs of others and of the ordinances and placards of the Estates, and interpret them according to their fancy.
The States therefore, and I on their behalf earnestly desire [that the said matters may be tried] in the judicatures of the said States, according to their ancient customs, before their competent judges, and upon their own placards and ordinances, and not here, by those of the Admiralty, who have no concern in such and like matters.
It grieves me extremely to give your honour so much trouble when you are indisposed, but my great zeal for the service both of her Majesty and my country obliges me to it, and both necessity and my duty constrain me to say that unless some speedy remedy be applied and all things put into good order I fear that some great disorder will ensue, of which I protest before God that I have not been wanting to forewarn your lordships. And I would wish for her Majesty to be warned also, but that I fear she might be too much troubled by it. God is my witness of the care which for many years, both here and there I have taken to remove the danger, and the desire I have always had to see this realm and our countries flourishing in perpetual alliance, for the service of God and her Majesty and of all those who profess the true Christian religion.—London, 3 January, 1585.
Signed. Add. Endd. Fr. 2 pp. Much injured by damp. [Holland VI. 4.]
Jan. 3/13. Antonio de Castilho (fn. 4) to Walsingham.
I understand by the letters of my friend Mr. Hector [Nunez] and the reports of others, that you have my name in your good remembrance, which, as it is very pleasing to me, so I am very sorry that in the disagreements of our sovereigns I cannot by any friendly office show you my good will.
“In the meantime I will (if it be lawful so to do by the law of nations) plead with you the cause of my friend Peter Freer, which wholly containeth in it his estate and utter undoing. He being brought up in England from a child, and deserving very well of your countrymen,” sent hither a ship laden with merchandise, which certain Englishmen, without injury offered them, took in the port of Brigantia (Brigantinum) in Galicia; and now pretend the Queen's authority, wherein they seem to me to offend very much, both in the thing itself, which is piracy, and in slandering the name of her Majesty, who, it is to be supposed “would think on nothing less than such matters, even as the Catholic King thinks least of offering you war. If he willed your ships to be stayed, I think it was not done with any intent of hostility; for he should have looked very ill to his own matters if by bidding you war in this sort, he should first, as it were, have given you power to put away and repel all injuries, before that he himself had entered into any consideration how to end the war.”
Many causes might move him lawfully to stay your ships, as his expeditions into Holland and Mauretania, nor would he have done any new thing in staying them to hire them for his own use. Wherefore I pray you to take upon you the defence of my friend's just cause, hoping that the Queen will not be against it, whose nobility of mind and wisdom is such “that she will rather put all her care in beautifying that charge which is committed unto her than in the bulwark of goods evil gotten."—Lisbon, 13 January, 1586.
Translation. Endd. 1 p. [Portugal II. 18.]
Jan. 3/13. Original letter of Castilho to Walsingham, of which the above is the translation.—Lisbon, 13, ides of January, 1586.
signed. Endd. Latin. 1 p. [Ibid. II. 19.]
Jan. 4. Lord Willoughby to Walsingham.
I beseech you pardon my scribbled letter of 23rd of December, which I brought to this town myself, and overtook my man sent three weeks before, because the passage is frozen. I send the occurrences, but know nothing for certain, saving the Duke of Saxony's marriage.
I hardly escaped being frozen in Denmark, and by snow and frost nearly lost on the way. Here, even in the town, ambush is laid for me by the Spaniard, “but by the faithfulness of the King of Denmark's servant I have discovered the company and hope to eschew the danger. All the ways to Embden are laid for me; the river is frozen, so that by sea I cannot pass. If God shall send me to a safe place, I shall advertise you more; in the mean season, I doubt how these shall be delivered. Thus hasting to adventure on the worst or best and ready to take my journey for Flanders,” I commend my affection and service to you, and you go God.—Hamburg, 4 January.
Holograph. Add. Endd. 1 p. [Denmark I. 76.]


  • 1. This paper has been placed at the beginning of 1585–6, evidently on the supposition that the date is English style, but it more probably belongs to the previous January. On Jan. 1, 1585, n.s., the French King published a series of rules (see Histoire de France, ed. Lavisse, t. vi. p. 221). He may have issued another on Jan. 1, 1585–6, but if so, I have not been able to identify it.
  • 2. World illegible from damp.
  • 3. Motley prints this “paddy,” which is noted in the N. E. Dic. as an error.
  • 4. Fromely Portuguese ambassador in England.