Elizabeth: March 1586, 1-5

Pages 406-416

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

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

Please subscribe to access the page scans

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

March 1586, 1–5

March 1/11. Thomas Beckner to Walsingham.
As necessity has no law, he made bold in his letters by his late servant, William Proctor, to “implore” his hard fortune, since which time, by means of his friends he has taken order with those who laid him prisoner to content them before Easter. Sir Edward Stafford has offered him “what friendship he may,” and has written to his honour on his behalf. Prays him to stand his accustomed good friend, trusting, after this, not to be burden to him, but able to do him service.—“Your honour's house in Rouen,” 11 March, 1586, French style.
Add. Endd. ¾ p. [France XV. 41.]
March 1/11. Thomas Beckner to Walsingham.
My last was this morning about ten o'clock, by Mr. Hatley, my lord ambassador's minister [i.e.Hakluyt]. Since which I have received a letter from Mr. Asheley, with a packet enclosed for his brother, Mr. Francis Langley, at the Gilt Horse-shoe, in Cheapside, with express order to send it, and a book received withal, with all expedition, wherefore I hasten this bearer, Peter Brown, away with the same. The party who brought these letters from Paris was robbed by the way, as he says, and has neither money to pay his charges nor to carry him back, which I will furnish him with.
“It is said that the Duke 'Dumyne' hath had a great overthrow. The King's edicts here touching them of the Religion are not greatly looked unto. Here is this day news come from Lisbon that the English merchants there are set at liberty, both body and goods, and is thought that most of the King of Spain's army goeth against Sir Francis Drake,”
I beseech your honour's favour in my great necessity.—Rouen, 11 March, 1586, French style.
Add. Endd. 1 p. [France, XV. 42.]
March 1. Charles, Prince of Sweden to Elizabeth.
Praying that his subject, John Freundt, may be allowed to purchase in England about 800 clothes, which are wanted for the use of the Court and soldiers of Sweden, and export them free of duties or customs.—Orebro, Kal. March, 1586.
Signed. Add. Endd. Latin. ¾ p. [Sweden I. 13.]
March 2. The Lords of the Council to Sir Philip Sydney.
Her Majesty has acquainted us with a “motion” come from you concerning your town of Flushing. First of your opinion for the assurance of the town to her Majesty. Next, that for that purpose, you wish lodgings to be built for the soldiers, which the burghers also desire, to avoid the soldiers having to lodge in their houses, and whereby you think danger would be avoided in case of alteration of the minds of the townsmen, as in these lodgings the soldiers would be so united together that the effect would be as good as a citadel.
“And lastly for the charges hereof, which you write should be but small, her Majesty informeth us that the certainty of the sum in your letter is uncertain, being written in an algorism cipher,” the first character whereof is so blotted that we cannot tell whether it be the sign of one or of five, thought we think it more likely to be one, as 5,000l.. could not have been called a small sum.
For answer, her Majesty likes well your care to provide for the surety of that town, and finds some fault or oversight in us and others who made the contract for it and the Brill, that we did not provide for removing from the inhabitants all weapons of offence. We showed her in excuse that when their soldiers were removed and her Majesty's entered, we thought her soldiers would have been able to overawe the townspeople, whom we knew not to be so armed as it seems they are.
But for the lodging of the soldiers “in places united, out of danger,” seeing that the burghers desire it, she allows very well of it. And where you propose that new houses should be built, we are informed that when Mr. Edward Norris has charge there, the burghers intended, at the charge of the town, either to purchase some vacant houses or build new for this purpose; wherefore her pleasure is that you should consider how this matter might be brought to pass with the liking of the burghers, to ease them of their trouble in lodging soldiers, and not “to engender in them any jealousy of your meaning to overmaster them at your will.” And likewise to consider whether you would have all the soldiers to lodge in one place or in several and where, and if it would be well to possess some places in the mew town, where the Prince's house is begun, under colour of providing against the danger of the common enemy coming on the dykes leading from the Rammekins, at which place also some building for lodging of the soldiers might be made, with platforms or cavaliers that would serve to govern the town and the haven. And after you have secretly considered hereof, to avoid suspicion of the townspeople, who might be stirred up “by some neighbours thereby that made an evil bargain for Antwerp” [i. e. Ste. Aldegonde], her Majesty desires you to “impart your conceit” to the Earl of Leicester, to have not only his advice “but his means to have the charges borne, by some contribution of the town or of the province, or by means growing of the convoys of merchandise, which here in England are called customs, in port towns, for that her Majesty's charges do daily increase beyond her expectation.”
And when you have duly considered hereof, and had the advice of her Lieutenant, you shall send your and his lordship's resolution by some sure “passenger,” to avoid danger of interception on the seas; and also a “plat” of the town, with marks at the points you think convenient.
And where you desire to have some skilful person sent over to view the places for the soldiers' lodgings, her Majesty thinks better to have it viewed by some skilful person such as Thomas Digges than to send any from hence, for avoiding of suspicion; and so would have you send for him, who is both skilful and discreet.
“And if you or the lord-lieutenant shall find no ready means to have sufficient contribution to the charges hereof . . . we think her Majesty, upon further advertisement, will herself yield some portion for the accomplishment of so necessary a service . . . and therefore the sooner you shall return us answer, the better it shall be.”
Draft, entirely in Burghley's hand and corrected by him.
Endd. by Burghley's clerk, “2 March, 1585.” 4 pp. [Holland VII. 1.]
Another draft, corrected by Walsingham. The last paragraph is cancelled, and he has substituted the following:—
“Her Majesty would have some expedition used in this matter, considering in how dangerous a state . . . the garrison placed therein doth presently stand in case the burghers there should be, either by disconvenience or practice, drawn to attempt anything against the said garrison. And therefore . . . she would have liked that you had sooner acquainted her with the same, to the end there might have been some order taken for the prevention thereof.”
This draft is endorsed “March 10.” 4 pp. [Ibid. VII. 2.]
March 3/13. Giulio Busani to Lady Margaret Stanley.
There is come hither that poor priest for whom her ladyship's brother, Sir Thomas (fn. 1) of happy memory, left it to the writer in charge that he should be paid the moneys of which her ladyship and Sir Edward knew nine years ago, when he went into Flanders. He is in great need, and the writer hoped that her ladyship would have already satisfied this debt, and the rather as she still owed to himself that larger sum which she had promised by her letters to make provision for. When he was in Flanders and spoke of it, Sir Edward replied that he wished first to satisfy this priest; which he prays them now to do.—Paris, 13 March, 1585.
Add. Endd. “13 March, 1585–6”. Italian. 1 p. [France XV. 43]
March 3. Sir Philip Sidney to Walsingham.
“In this I will say no further but that since my communication with Sir Thomas Henneage, whom I find a most careful gentleman both of the cause and of the honour of my Lord as far as his duty will permit him, I hope by his good handling of [the]* matter that the great mischief looked [for] will not follow, if it be not pursued from thence with some new violence, but that all things will proceed well; her Majesty obeyed in her will and I hope satisfied in her opinion, finding it otherw[ise] than perchance some have advertised it, only that the poor soldiers me[anwhile ?] famish not for want of money.” — Middelburg, 3 March, 1586.
Postscript.—“I pray you, Sir, let me know whether you have sufficient proof of Lawrence Minster's honesty, for his advertisements touching Ostend be nothing worth, carrying no particularity in them, and here he may do hurt.”
Holograph. Add. Endd. 1 p. [Holland VII. 3.]
March 3/13. Federigo Gianibelli to Walsingham.
Knowing his honour's influence with her Majesty, and his desire for the prosperity of their most just cause, he ventures to send him his opinion, which he has already talked of with Sir Philip Sydney, and which he hopes his honour will take in good part.
Her Majesty has a means by which she may in a short time subdue and put under her feet all her enemies, and this without touching her treasure or ordinary revenue, or in the least interfering with the means of conducting the war in these countries. On the contrary, if she should resolve on making open war upon the King of Spain and his adherents, she would get by prizes as much as would be able to maintain a powerful army to ravage (?) the whole country, and this she might do by merely arming a hundred or a hundred and fifty ships of four to six thousand tons; and to find the money to equip such a fleet she might make each parish in the kingdom pay, for once, three pounds sterling, and there being 52,000 parishes [sic], this would amount to 156,000l.; and collecting here for the same purpose a like tax, which was agreed to by the States General even before the contract with her Majesty, it would amount to 1,200,000 florins; so that the two sums make 2,760,000 florins of this money. To buy the ships, armed with good brass artillery and other sorts of arms, ammunition and victuals for six months might cost 20,000 florins, one with another. With the said sum of 2,760,00o florins, there might be bought and armed a hundred and thirty-eight ships, and if her Majesty did not wish to have the expence of maintaining them while (as said) she was making a good war against Spain, there will not want many in England, these countries, and Osterland (fn. 2), captains and mariners, who will take the said ships and furnish and maintain them at their own charges, on condition that they may have half of all the prizes they may take; the other half to be for the cause, by which there would be got means largely to maintain the service. And to the end that all should appear well ordered, and not in the manner in which it has been hitherto done by the freebooters, my intention would be that to each ten of the said ships there should be given, for their chief and admiral, one of her Majesty's men of war, whom they should obey and to whom they should pay respect. . . .And if any important enterprise were on hand, they would all join the fleet under the royal Admiral, whether to go to meet the India fleet, or to land on the islands or elsewhere or to give battle, which, however, I think, would never be, because the King of Spain has not power to oppose all our maritime forces; but it, perhaps, it should be so, I think that they would aid the victory in one way or another, and so that King would be ruined, for besides that he will lose the commerce of Spain and of the sea, he will lose the islands and the Indies, whence come all his principal forces, and, on the other hand, her Majesty will remain absolute master thereof, and will get thence what will carry on the war and overthrow him, together with his father the Pope and his adherents.
Those who hear speech of such great enterprises say that it is more easy to talk than to act; but I say, without doubt, that it ought not to be delayed, but that all the ships of the enemy ought to-day to be ordered to depart; because the Lord has given us the means thereto, if we will use them. And for the difficulties which may arise as to finding the money, I see nothing that should frighten us, and I hope her Majesty will not let fall so important an enterprise, on the accomplishing or giving up of which depends the prosperity or ruin of the Church of God and consequently of the Low Countries and this realm of England, for which thing her Majesty in the above-mentioned method, or any other which she prefers, may raise enough to provide a sufficient number of ships ready for war, with artillery and other sorts of ammunition and of mariners. All these will be abundantly found in England, Holland, Zeeland and the Ostreland under the dominion of the King of Denmark, who will not only allow us to buy them with our money and export them, but also by the friendship between him and her Majesty—taking the opportunity of the great quantity of victuals which will be bought in his country, both for furnishing the said fleet and also for maintaining our camp and the people of the United Provinces—she might easily induce that King to forbid the sending of victuals into France or spain; on which point greatly depends our victory here.
It is certain that if we do not make such a war, we shall have to let merchandise and victuals go both to France and Spain, and consequently to the Malcontents; who being thus revived and sustained, and being able to reap the corn which they have sown, will, in the coming year do to us what we may now so easily do to them.
If we think we can prohibit the traffic and victuals without making war, we are very much mistaken, because the Easterlings (Hostrelini) and French will be able to supply them; yea even the English, Hollanders, Zeelanders and the Spaniards themselves. Also there is the danger of disturbance among the maritime people; wherefore I conclude that we ought to make war, both to give entertainment to our mariners and because it is the true and only way to attack the enemy, with the total destruction of the Great Whore [of Babylon] and her fornicators. I see no difficulty by which we should be forced to a peace, but, on the contrary, I see the advantages of making war in Spain to be so great that it will be sure to give us glorious victory; viz., the great quantity of ships &c. which we have more than the enemy; the affection which the Portuguese bear to their natural King don Antonio, and their mortal hatred to the Spanish nation; Spain being almost denuded of arms by the constant waste made of them by the King (both in the Indies and these countries). Having fought for awhile, we should go ever forward, and there not being a city in Spain which could not be taken without artillery, we should be able with battering rams to throw down the walls, so that the cities, not wishing to be given as prize to the soldiers, would be forced to put themselves at the mercy of the victor, and if the King Antonio wished, he might make a league with the King of Morocco, to be allowed to have in his ports victuals, galleys and cavalry, on condition that all the salves held by the Spaniards should be set at liberty; knowing which, they would be strong enough to escape or to kill their masters; so that, there being more slaves in Spain than native Spaniards, there would be great confusion, and with these, by the Portuguese putting 10,000 footmen in the field, before long their would be a camp of [Word faded] men, by which all the Spaniards might assuredly be crushed, the very heavy customs invented by the Genoese (hated for this cause by the people) mitigated, and the tyrannical yoke of the Inquisition cast down, whence, in one way and another, our enterprise would be furthered.
The King, finding himself in this danger, would not dare to diminish the garrisons of Italy, fearing disturbance, but would be forced to reinforce them where their conduct was suspected; and from the jealousy both of the Italian nation and others for the insults and injuries done to them by the insolent Spanish nation-fearing that on any small occasion they would turn against them to revenge themselves, and attack instead of defending them-he would not dare to let into Spain a sufficient number to be able to defend himself; wherefore he would be forced like the Carthagenians, to recall the forces with which until now he has mastered [?] them, as did Hannibal the Romans, so that this being a similar and much more just quarrel, we might assure ourselves that we should not only remove the war from our own house, but put it into that of the enemy; wherefore it seems to me that reason proves and conscience demands that we should come to so high a resolution, in order to safeguard the Low Countries and her Majesty's realm, and to destroy the son of perdition.—Flushing, 13 March, 1586.
Add. Endd. Italian. Very faded ink. 2½ pp. [Holland VII. 4.]
March 4/14. Instructions of M. de Chasteauneuf to his Secretary, le Sueur.
To tell the Admiral, M. Walsingham and others of the Council, that his master daily receives complaints from the subjects of the King, robbed and despoiled by the English, not only at sea, but in the ports; and amongst others of the following:—
The Florissant, Robert Varin of Dieppe, master, laden with cloth &c. for the Sieur Philipes Corsigny, taken at Rye and carried to the Isle of Wight, though he had a passport from the Admiral.
The Jacques, master John Ryon, also of Dieppe, laden with oils, figs, &c., taken in Southampton water by a ship belonging to the Mayor of Hampton. Vessel and merchandise still in the hands of the said Mayor.
The ambassador demands restoration of the above, and also of the merchandise belonging to Jeronime André, naturalized merchant of Rouen, plundered by three English ships belonging to John Birde, John Watts and John Stokes, merchants of London; if not freely, yet at least upon their giving sufficient caution to the value of their goods, seeing the decay thereof. Also that commission may be given to Gilles Ravenel of Vitrey to make strict inquiry for the cloth, value 40,000 crowns, which has been stolen from him.
Further, there is a merchant of Calais who asks to be allowed to transport some English beer, paying duty thereupon, seeing that he brought hops to Dover, which he has been forced to change for beer, not being able either to sell or transport them. The ambassador desires that there may be given passport to the said merchant, Denis Bonyn, to transport the beer, in like manner as an English merchant (upon letter from the ambassador to M. de Gourdon) has been allowed to bring over from Calais a large quantity of salt.—14 March, 1586. Signed, Le Sueur.
Endd. Fr. 2 pp. [France XV. 44.]
March 4. The Earl of Leicester to the Merchants Adventurers.
Mr. Huddleston, her Majesty's treasurer for her army in the Low Countries, having long awaited in Walcheren the arrival of her Majesty's treasure, delayed by contrary wind; and there being an important service to be done presently, for which 4,000l. must be conveyed by him to a place appointed, to be employed for the said service, I pray and require you to lend him the said sum, to be repaid to you from the first treasure of her Majesty that comes over, or (if preferred) to whom you shall appoint in London, upon my warrant.—Harlem, 4 March, 1585, stilo Anglice.
Rough notes by Burghley of the value of different coins and their “worth” for one or two months' usance.
Copy (probably that sent to Burghley on March 12). Endd.pp. [Holland VII. 5.]
March 4. Sir Thomas Heneage to Walsingham.
This gentleman will ease me of telling you how honourably Sir Philip Sydney has entreated me and served of late in this country. The 200l. which Peter Probe, your servant delivered me for him, he has had and the letters, some of which deserve more than my thanks. This and other tokens of your goodwill, I shall ever remember, but can never requite.
“By talking with your noble and wise son-in-law, I have great hope to have my lord as I desire to find him, and the rather by his well-handling. And then I conceive I may take such a way as shall be good both for my lord and the cause, and yet not start from the pose of my instructions and directions, whereto I will fast bind myself as I ought. God grant I conceive right and perform well that I conceive, and then it will be more and otherwise than some amongst you look for.
“The matter of mine office I have committed to the care and trust of my son Finch, (fn. 3) a gentleman unknown, but (without partiality I speak it) as wise, as virtuous and as sufficient a man . . . as any whosoever in England unemployed.”
To him I have appointed the rating of all bills within the realm, and I must desire you to rate things foreign till I return; “only I pray you sign a bill for this gentleman, for coming to me from her Majesty and returning with letters, and leave the rating thereof to me.” —Middelburg, 4 March, 1585.
Holograph. Add. Endd. 1 p. [Ibid. VII. 6.]
March 4. R. Huddilston to Walsingham.
Yesterday, with the arrival of Sir Thomas Heneage, I received your letter of Feb. 5, by which I find you mislike “a proportion showed you by my man of 11,000l.” If he imparted it to any but yourself, he did not follow the charge I gave him.
The estate of the principal officers was such, at my coming from the Hague, that no man knew his entertainment (the Lord General excepted and the two asssistants in Council). It is a question often urged upon me, as also by whom we shall be paid. I have moved his Excellency in it now and then, but at my coming away there was nothing done. If we did not depend upon hope of her Majesty's pay, we should have small encouragement to serve her. I beseech you “either to conclude it amongst you at home, or else to hasten his Excellency to it by special solicitation of your letters, wherein our trust is you will have care and consideration of the hard estate of our life here, and how dearly we dwell for everything, especially by reason of these great excise, from which I have small hope that any of us shall be exempted.”
You think there will be great abatement in monthly charge from the mortality of men, and the not yet full supplement of horsemen. I was of that opinion myself, and it may be in the latter there will be some poor help. But for the former, as the reason his Excellency caused pay to be made to Dec. 12 by the first muster roll was that the captains should supply their bands without charge to her Majesty, so in this new muster of our Holland and Guelderland companies for their pay till Jan. 12 (if reports be true), her Majesty will not find herself much relived in her charge, “for it is said they have so well provided as there will not be that want found that is thought.” At the return of my men, I will advertise you more certainly.
I am very glad you accept of Mr. Cade for the receipt and convoy of the treasure, and am not a little beholden to him that he will do it for me. I pray you give him leave to solicit you for my further commission in this service of mine, under the Great Seal, which you promised at my coming away, and which imports me not a little.
I have disbursed to Sir P. S[idney] at sundry times six or seven hundred pounds. And upon this money taken up, for which we stand bound together, he must have 300l. more. “His charges are no doubt very great. Himself a man of so rare virtues and singular good conditions in the eyes of every man, as your honour may assure yourself of great good and much honourable success to attend him.” If you would send a letter of thanks to the deputy-governor, Souterlin[?], and the rest of the company for their forwardness in serving this town it would content and encourage them. Also if you would give Sir Philip and the treasurer (severally or jointly) “creance for any further great need hereafter of what sum yourself shall best like to limit . . . it shall not be used but in case of great necessity, nor abused in a penny.” For if we be driven again to these merchants, we may not so easily prevail with them as at the first, unless we have such a letter from you or the lords. Finally, I will only once more put you in mind “that the soldier's gelt in this country is even as the best blood in his body, which he cannot want but then dissolution is near.” — Middelburg, 4 March, 1585.
Postscript—If Sir William Pelham is to come, you will do well to hasten him away. “There are some wants here which his presence would supply, if I be not much deceived. It may please you further to understand that in the rate you gave me, his Excellency's entertainment was set down at six pounds per diem. He sent me his warrant for 10l. I showed him the rate. He told me it was for himself, his officers, ministers and all. I had not any rate for them given me. His warrant was my discharge, and further I was loth to move him, for I fear he hath some ill conceit of me, though . . . I know not wherefore.”
Add. Endd. 2 ¾ pp. [Holland VII. 7.]
March 4. Sir Philip Sidney to Walsingham.
In favour of “Jackes vanden Walle,” for whom he is pressed by divers to be a suitor, and whose “master” is (he is persuaded) very much to be pitied.—Middelburg, 4 March, 1586.
Holograph. Add. Endd. 1 p. [Ibid. VII. 8.]
March 4. Dr. Lobetius to Walsingham.
I wrote to you last by way of Paris on Jan. 27, and also on the 14th, but it is long since I heard anything. The letters sent to Paris, I had delivered to the messengers usually going to your parts, as I do not know if M. de Stafford is still at the French Court.
They had begun to negotiate in earnest at the Assembly of Worms, but the death of the Elector of Saxony put an end to it, all things being left unfinished; thus the affairs of Cologne remain still unsettled. I do not think the Emperor will be sorry! The son of the said Elector, named Christian, succeeds to the Electorate of Saxony. He is married to the daughter of the Elector of Brandenburg and has sons. The Court of Heidelberg is, of course, all in mourning.
This unexpected accident may very likely delay the embassy from the Protestant princes to the King of France, and if what is said is true, there would be yet greater hindrance to it.
Geneva has long expected a siege, and the preparations in Italy have given them good cause to do so; nothing has yet happened, but they are upon their guard and the evangelical cantons will not forsake them. M. de la Noue is gone thither; also Messieurs de Vezines and Beauvais la Nocle.
They wrote from Basle, on the last of last month, our style, that the same day the Diet of Baden in Switzerland was beginning, where all the cantons assemble. The Grisons are sending thither to renew their alliance with all the said cantons if they can, or at least with the evangelical ones. In this Diet they will certainly talk big [de grosses dents] in relation to such cantons as wish to separate from the French alliance and put themselves on the side of Spain. We shall soon know what has happened, for I think the Assembly will not last more than twelve or fifteen days. The King of France has his ambassador there, and the King of Spain, the Duke of Savoy and the Archduke Ferdinand are all sending thither.
All the advertisements from Italy mention the great naval army which is preparing in Spain, both to hinder the designs of “vostre Colonel le Drack” and to throw themselves upon your island. L'homme propose et Dieu dispose—Strasbourg, 4 March, 1586.
Postscript.—Mr. Sturmius is still at his country house and is well, thank God. I wrote to you on the 7th of last month by my lord Zolcher, who has, I think, taken his way by the Low Countries.
Add. Endd. Fr. 1 p. [Germany, States IV. 20.]
March 5. R. Huddilston to Walsingham.
“I had rather be a little impudent, as the case standeth with us, than not enough importunate; our wants are greater than that they will suffer me to be silent.” The bearer, Mr. Palmer, has seen how they importune me, though I have disbursed what was in hand, even to the bottom of the chest. I beseech you to take care of us, and that if we cannot have treasure, we may have some warrant to deal for so much on this side by exchange as may supply “hungry wants” till the other may be transported. “The merchants are so greedy after their gain as we shall have no help of them . . . but must deal by exchange, which is twenty nobles in the hundred at the least.” I have written of this in my two last letters, but I fear they have not come to your hands.—Middelburg, 5 March, 1585.
Postscript.—I have written also to Mr. Cade, but doubt my letters are not yet come to him. If you will call for him, “he will attend you for the receipt and convoy of the money aboard” and follow such further directions as you shall give him.


  • 1. The ends of some of the lines are destroyed by damp.
  • 2. Properly speaking, the land between the Elbe and the Weser, but perhaps used here more in the general sense of Eastland.
  • 3. Moyle, afterwards Sir Moyle Finch, of Eastwell, co. Kent, married Elizabeth, only daughter of Sir T. Heneage.