Elizabeth: March 1588, 11-20

Pages 540-549

Calendar of State Papers Foreign: Elizabeth, Volume 21, Part 1, 1586-1588. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1927.

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March 1588, 11-20

March 11.
See above, p. 535
Stafford to Burghley.
"The death of the Prince of Condé is now assured by letters from Rochelle hither, and of his poisoning, but they yet write no circumstances, nor whether there be any taken, as it is said here there are two . . . . The Duc d'Aumale, for all his assurance of the King by M. d'Albin [del Bene]. that he would send all his companies away, and retire to his house, hath more companies than he had in Picardy, and St. Paul's regiments and 'Joanes' [sic] are come to him from the Duke of Guise, and they be all lodged in the suburbs of Abbeville. The King is in a great choler, and hath sent thither to him 'Shemereaux' [Chemerault] again, and maketh all the companies of footmen and Swissers to march towards Picardy, and assureth to be himself, within less than a month, in person at Amiens, and to lose all, or to chasten them that stir in Picardy.
"Ballagny entering into a suspicion that the Duke of Guise was so kind [as] to offer to come himself and christen his child at Cambrai, hath put his lieutenant prisoner and one Fontenilles, (fn. 1) his near kinsman, where was the leader of the troops that went to the Duke of Guise from Cambrai in these last actions. They have confessed that the Duke of Guise had practised with them when they were with him, to deliver the town and Balagny both into his hands, when he should be there at the christening.
"The Duke of Guise nor the rest of the League will yet answer to anything that Bellievre and La Guerche (fn. 2) have propounded unto them, nor agree to come hither. The Duke is gone to Rheims, where they make a solemn service for the Queen of Scots. The Bishop of Glasgow is gone thither to be at it, who is put in some hope to be made Cardinal of Scotland, as Allen is of England. He feedeth himself willingly with that hope, and Barnardino [Mendoza] nourisheth him in it and the Pope's Nuncio; and by that means they govern him as they list.
"Segur hath been at the point of death and yet is not out of danger at 'Franckford', which is the cause Monsieur de la Noue has stayed so long from coming back to Geneva, whither he will return, it being impossible for him to get into Sedan.
"They make great levies in Germany. There is hope they will revenge Mombeliard upon Lorraine, and that they will thoroughly attend to the succour of Bonn.
"The Emperor hath sent to the princes of Germany to command them not to stir for the matter of Mombeliard, and that he will see satisfaction made to the uttermost; but the princes that be 'interessed' have yet made no answer, but levy still.
"The Duke of Lorraine hath sent to the Imperial Chamber to excuse himself, and to offer satisfaction. They have made him no answer.
"Out of Spain there is nothing of late come to any, but to the ambassador. He told a friend of mine yesterday that the Duke of Sidonia would not be ready till the 20th of this month to depart from his house to take the charge of the army, which tarried for nothing but for his arrival."—Paris, 11 March, 1587.
Copy, endd. by Burghley. 1½ pp. [France XVIII 35.]
March 13/23. M. de Laubespine Chasteauneuf to Walsingham.
Those of this quarter have robbed the house of a young French demoiselle whom you saw with my wife on the day when you took the trouble to pay her a visit. For having observed that she was absent on Tuesday—when she accompanied my wife as far as Gravesend—they carried off her furniture under the pretext that M. Tardif, her uncle, lodges there, and that he is taxed ten crowns for the Queen's loan, from which you have in Council exempted the French refugees here for their religion.
Wherefore I pray you to write a word to Thomas Benot [qy. Bennet] the Collector, ordering him to restore her furniture to the young lady and to discharge the said Tardif, who in any case has nothing to do with the said furniture.—London, 23 March.
Postscript. He is one of Alderman Dixy's guard. Holograph. Add. Endd. French. ¾ p. [France XVIII. 36.]
March 15/25. A note of ships preparing at Hamburg to go into Spain with corn, wax, copper, ropes, bacon and powder; said to be going by the North sea. Another like fleet to meet them from Lubeck. Four double flyboats, with a hundred men apiece ready at Hamburg to go for Dunkirk.
Endd. "April" by Walsingham's clerk [probably time of receipt]. ¼ p. [Hamburg and Hanse Towns III. 2.]
March 17. Stafford to Walsingham.
"From the King of Navarre himself there hath been nothing a great while here. The last was that the Assembly of Montauban was put off to Ste. Foy and to be kept the 25th of March; which I do think will be now deferred upon this death of the Prince [of Condé], for there is news come that he arrived at St. John d'Angely presently upon the news received, with 20 horse.
"If God do not help with his mercy, I am afraid you will find a marvellous broiled estate among them, for at this hour, namely afore the Prince of Conde's death (and I do rather think it will increase than diminish) they were all at inward jars, mistrust, envy and piques one with another. I have seen it by letters from very confident persons and of the greatest sincerity in religion and honesty of behaviour among them, that the Count Soissons will be an instrument there of great harm; for first that he doth declare himself openly an enemy to all religion, and all them that profess it; with his brother the Prince in very evil terms; with the Viscount Turenne as evil or rather worse, having openly declared himself his enemy, and all this pushed unto by the instructions of the Abbot [d'Albene], who daily continueth the same, and is furthered and counselled underhand, as it is written hither by one that I am sorry for, because he is your good friend and mine, du Plessis, for the only envy that is and hath continued a great while betwixt the Viscount and him. . . . The contrary party here is advertised of this and both laugh at it and send abroad ministers to make their profit of it and to kindle the fire more. Besides . . . I find one principal point that they advertise, to be confirmed by the Count of Soissons' own letter to his mother, which is showed here to all the court, how firm he is in his religion; and though he be where there are almost no Catholics at all, but where they be deadly hated, he suffereth not a word to pass where he is against the Catholic faith, nor nothing to be done afore him, nor said, that he doth not againsay it; and another letter from Vanteak his governor to the Abbot d'Albene, which is more particular, and which he showeth in the palace to all the world for the Count's glory, to the same effect and more, that a minister beginning to say grace at the board afore him, he threw a loaf at his head, and hunted him out of the Chamber, and that he did plumer la barbe, for that is the term he useth of a minister that preached that God only was to have the glory of the victory obtained against M. de Joyeuse, and not men, and that neither the coming of the Count Soissons nor all the Catholics of France had done or could do anything in that; for God would do his work himself, and he only was to have the glory.
"I do not believe all this, but rather to be a brag, written to be blown abroad here, to get him credit; for either the Huguenots in Gascony be changed . . . and the ministers become milder than I have known them in my time; or else if the King of Navarre himself had done as much, they would have gone near to have made him escape hardly with his life. But some such thing and great there hath been, for the King of Navarre and he hath been at great jars about such things. for that I saw written too, but withal that the Religious men indeed do enter into some suspicion of the King of Navarre's slackness in zeal, and think that he did not deal so roughly and plainly with him as he ought, in so public a cause; and therefore fear that the King of Navarre doth let himself go, and are not very well satisfied neither of Du Plessis nor Dupin, nor of some about him that rule him most, taking them to let themselves go too much to their own particular profit and ambition, and thereupon have resolved, to avoid those inconveniences, to put a council of a 16 of the sufficientest, ancientest and religiousest gentlemen and others of the Religion, both to see into his actions and those that are about him; as also to have the keeping and disposition of the money that is levied of the churches, which cometh to great sums in every year, and which they see to turn to particular profits and not to the public commodity. And this is fully resolved to be done at this next assembly, which, it is said, he is counselled to avoid all he can by them about him; and is thought that this death of the Prince having given him a colour to come away upon a sudden, he shall take the advantage of it to fly this assembly quite; but they mean to follow him, and rather to have it kept at St. Jhan than to fail of it; for they be resolved upon it to have it kept and to provide in it for many inconveniences.
M. de Rochandieu, (fn. 3) whom your honour knoweth, a minister of great modesty, wisdom and sufficiency, is sent into Germany freshly. He passed by Geneva, from whence . . . I have seen it written that he hath not left them edified of any such firm assurance of the King of Navarre's steadfastness, nor so well pleased with his manner of proceedings as they have been in times past. Many fear, and for my part truly I am half afraid with the rest, that this death of the Prince Condé will cause a great alteration in him; for the jealousy between them and envy kept him from many things. I have a certain opinion . . . but I will not out of it yet, till I see more cause, that the King of Navarre shall not be so much pressed now, at the least not with so much sincere meaning and earnestness by the King to change his religion as he was while the Prince of Condé lived, whom I know he assured himself he could make a stop unto him whensoever he liked, if, after he had changed his religion, he went any further than he would have him. Now that bar is taken away, I think he will not be inwardly half so hasty; and if he did, for my part, I should be in a great doubt whether I durst assure myself of the King of Navarre's overmuch staidness; and in truth there are a great many honest and well-affected men do fear in that as much as I, and they that know him well and have 'hanted' him of late . . .
"Some here . . . give out secretly that Marshal Retz should be a party in this death of the Prince of Condé's and a practiser, but the Cardinal Vendome, his brother, sent me word that he heard no such thing from thence. He is a man, as you know, that all villany may be expected of, and without doubt a great enemy of his is dead by it. Some evil affected people, and that are glad to turn any imperfections that can be marked in the King of Navarre to the worst sense, give out hard speeches of him in this, and ground upon that the page that was fled, (but now the Cardinal of Vendome sent me word, is taken at Poictiers, who was the chief actor) was given unto her by the King of Navarre, and that a liking hath been given out (but I hope falsely) to have been of good time between (blank) and her. If that should be true; I mean the last (for the first is too horrible to believe) God can never prosper him nor none of his, no more than he can if he be no more sorry (as I hope he is) for his death, than they that be particularly affected to the King of Navarre here, for in truth (which maketh my heart indeed bleed to hear it and see it) they make no more account of it than you would do of your chamber keeper's death; but rather seem to affirm that it will advance the King of Navarre's affairs; and speak even hardly of the poor Prince, now he is gone; but let the King of Navarre take heed how he carry himself in this action; for if he show not effects of both sorrow, rueinge and punishing wheresoever it be found, he is undone in reputation for ever; and besides, if he be not abandoned and left of all or most part of the honest men, and specially in Poitou and those quarters, never give credit to anything I write to you again.
And here in truth they have a great vantage (and spare it not against his reputation) that he hath not already sent to cry and exclaim upon it, and showed some effects of it which he ought to do, and take not in payment an excuse that some give out for him, that they say she is with child and that he would fain have her to be safe delivered, that if it be a son, he may keep it to serve his turn withal. I dare assure you, if she should have a son, it would breed a great deal of bloodshed and mischief; for they that be near him, considering her life, as they saw it of late, confirmed with this last accident, if it fall out against her, will scarce have a child born of her after his death, and conceived of such a woman, and in such a time, to put them from any expectation; and in that point I see already will be seconded and assisted with many.
"I writ to you of a thing, upon the first hearing of the Prince's death, which since I find cause to confirm myself more in than before, that the second person that will be now in place, both in credit and upon whose conscience and sincerity they of the Religion will most trust upon, and that indeed will have most power to be their maintainer, is the Viscount Turenne, who is now at Castres, taking a diet for his thigh, that is new opened again of his last year's hurt, as he came back from his uncle, M. 'Memorancy,' to whom he was sent, and to whom they had given many causes of miscontentment, but ho hath made all things well again, and assureth more of Memorancy than ever, to be more steadfast to the public cause than ever he was, and to show what effects they can desire at his hands; which I can assure you of, because I have seen it of the Viscount's own hand. Considering his alliance, and the love and confidence between his uncle and him, I dare truly think that he will be the greatest pillar that they of the Religion have; and therefore worthy the preserving, embracing and encouraging; and if he be encouraged from her Majesty and heartened and assured of her friendship, I think it would confirm him marvellously; and as I writ to you, if her Majesty think it good, if she send it to me, I will see it safe delivered . . ."
Buzenval must not have any inkling of it, for he runs a quite contrary course, and they have more respect to their own passions and ambitions than to the public welth, or glory of God.
"This Abbot here is a dangerous fellow, and under the colour that some of the nearest, and your friends and mine about the King of Navarre serve their turns of his advertisements for themselves . . . he serveth naughty turns here, to sow envy, pique and sedition there, and among the best. And now within these ten days hath sent advertisements to breed a jealousy there of M. Chatillion, upon the honourable words that were sent him by M. Epernon at his retreat . . . but the King of Navarre hath warning of it aforehand, sent expressly from some that he hath credit in . . . and for fear the King of Navarre may be carried away, as he hath been in many other things, there is warning given of it to them that be of the best credit and best affected there to take heed of such practices, which, if they take not heed of, will divide them all, and so do more against themselves and among themselves than all their enemies with their powers could ever do yet.
"Thus I have written to your honour plainly of all things; . . . your wisdom passeth mine to know how to use it. For my part, I think it necessary, in these cunning days, obstare principiis, and to slack no occasion that may be for the advancing of the glory of God, which by all likelihood was never shot at and in harder terms than now, though I know God will make his work perfect and to his glory; but I think now more than ever that he only will have the glory of it, and that they whom we thought he had made his instruments shall neither be the ministers of it, nor, I am afraid, for their punishment, shall never see it.
"Two causes maketh me to fear it; the one because the Prince's death maketh the King of Navarre's life to run in great hazard; for both being alive, the one preserved the other. The other that there is too much deceitful ambition coloured and God's service not heartily sought, which I am afraid God will punish him for. I pray God turn his wrath from us . ."— Paris, 17 March, 1587.
Postscript. "The coming of this maître d'hotel of M. de la Trimouilles hath marvellously contented a great many; and his report of the King of Navarre's sorrowful taking of it when the gentlemen met him to ask him justice, for the which truly I am very glad, for in truth before there were hard conceits of him and that of his best friends in general; I mean specially religious friends. This man also reporteth that the Count Soyssons is marvellously perplexed with it, which I am glad of; for I cannot choose but be glad when any of that house do well, or sorry when they should not do all things accordingly."
Add. Endd. 6 closely written pp. [France XVIII. 37.]
March 18. Stafford to Walsingham.
I received the packet by a man of the Duke of Bouillon, and in it two letters from your honour about my private affairs; thanking you humbly for writing me such long letters with your own hands.
For the Abbot, I will do what you conclude upon, and as I have done hitherto, that is, "let the matter to cease, though I know he maketh in private his jests of it"; but I have promised to be ruled by you, and will perform it, whatever hurt it be to me; "for as for sending to the King of Navarre, I will never do that whilst I live." He cannot be ignorant of it, for I have communicated it to divers here, who I know have told him of it, but I have heard nothing of him since, "which rather showeth the ratification of that which the Abbot writeth than that it is untrue, or that he is discontented that such a knave should deal so badly with an honest man, and that serveth in a public place a prince [i.e. her Majesty] that he is so much beholding unto, and (if I may as boldly say it as truly) to a gentleman that he hath been as much beholding to for his goodwill as ever he was to any, and whereof . . . you and her Majesty are witness . . . and this I can say and with truth, that neither for his affairs, wherein there is continual want, nor for any of his that ever came to me [to] ask, that they have been refused of any thing. Therefore . . . I look for no redress at his hands, nor will seek for none, though I do not impute the fault to him, for I have a love imprinted in me to that house, begun first by the poor prince that is dead, whom I did love as dearly as a gentleman could do a man of his quality, and continued to them all, that cannot be taken away, though it may be somewhat abated; but never so much [but] that if the King of Navarre needed my life in a good cause, I would hazard it very far; but there are about him [those] that I pray God undo not him to serve their own turns; and among the rest, I pray God you find it not that Buzenval, to cover his own bad and undiscreet dealings, be not the chief cause of it; and that he advertise and confirm many things that be very false, to blind the King of Navarre's eyes from seeing his own dealings.
"I have good cause to think it, because first I never received letter nor word from the King of Navarre since; next that I have seen it written from thence, and from very confident persons, that it is advertised out of England that I have done many bad offices . . . and within these ten days, Grimston, my man, being sent by my wife to visit the Princess of Condé, she desired him to tell me that she did not look for at my hands that I would have done her son those injuries that are advertised out of England that I have done (without warning the advertiser) and that I had written to the Queen so badly of him, as worse could not be, and namely that he was un prince de rien, sans vertu, sans constance, sans moyen de rien faire de bon, et moins encores de volunté, et qu'il n'y avoyt rien de bon a esperer de luy; which God knoweth, her Majesty knoweth and you know how false it is; and in truth she sent me word that she could not believe; and I sent her word again that she did me a great deal of right if she did not; for first in truth it was false, and to make her believe it the better I could use no better an argument than that I had written so much good to the Queen of him that it would be a great shame for me to write that now. This is very bad dealings . . . but I have barrelled up so much patience as I will abide it, and even [pray?] God forgive them. But . . . if you had thought it good and that it might have hurt nothing else, I do assuredly know that I could have that justice of him that I would have desired and more; and as for Epernon, upon my credit he would have helped me to it; for though a good while agone with Florentine fair words he (fn. 4) had almost crept into him, he is discovered for [so] treacherous a knave, and to have dealt at one time with the King, the League, the King of Navarre, Queen Mother and M. d'Epernon, and to have betrayed them all, one to another, that now he is here . . . abandoned of all the world, commanded not to come within the court, and but for an old uncle of his that the King doth make account of, and that in respect of a process that he hath . . . he desired some respite, he had been commanded out of France. If any now maintain him, it is the Queen Mother, but it is underhand, to serve her turn of him, to put piques and dissensions among the King of Navarre's people. . . . Take heed that he be not entertained by her to give advertisements to Buzenval by the which he may put bees in your heads in England at this time. This last I have been very credibly advertised of, though . . . if he were a devil I will not assure that I know not. You may but judge if anything be brought you that way, what likelihood is in it. . . . I know that his credit with Epernon is only advertised to you upon cunning, for upon my word, he taketh him for the rankest villain and knave that is under heaven, and will now neither see him nor hear of him. And this I write to you for a truth, for, as I have promised you, you shall never be troubled with it more, but shall be obeyed, both of me and my wife, who, as hard as it is of digestion to her, is very well contented and satisfied to cease her particular and willingly to obey your counsel."
For the matter of your men, I still think it is a brag of the ambassador's rather than a truth.
For that of George Gifford, "I am very well satisfied with what you sent me of the cause why you made Philipps write that, but you must pardon me if, afore I knew it, I made my complaint to you, as a thing I was greatly injured in, in my opinion, and though I shall be ever very glad that all the world shall seek into my actions . . . yet natural reason would move me to think much of any that I should find had sought into me for his pleasure; and specially one of Philipps' quality; who is the man that I never did good nor harm to, nor never saw that I know, and of whom the testimonial that you have given me of him and his good service, in your last letters, shall make me think well of him, esteem him, and pleasure him in anything that I can . . .
"And for Gifford, though littera scripta manet, and that I have seen with mine eyes that he is the doublest knave that ever I knew, in respect of further matter I have left mine own particular offence, have helped him all I could with any money he hath asked me [for] at any time and will help him still in anything I can . . . In the mean time, I think I have done one thing to as good purpose, without open action, as anything could be; that I have procured that the King hath rejected the taking knowledge of it, how earnestly soever he hath been pressed to it by his mother and his chief ministers.
"By the next I will answer your honour of that which you sent of the ambassador's dealing about Marchomont and mine own particular."—Paris, 18 March, 1587.
Holograph. Add. Endd. 3 pp. [France XVIII. 38.]
[March 18.] Buzanval to Walsingham.
Announcing the arrival, on the previous evening, of M. du Fay (sent from the King of Navarre) who is grandson of the chancellor de l' Hospital; nephew of M. de Chiverny, now chancellor and son-in-law of the late M. de Pibrac.
He is a counsellor in the court of the Parliament of Paris, and now Master of Requests to the King, but gave up the exercise of this to follow and serve the King of Navarre two years ago. He brings the King of Navarre's innermost mind to the Queen, and started after the death of the Prince [de Condé].
The said King is now at Rochelle. Begs his honour to inform her Majesty of M. du Fay's coming, that when her leisure permits it, he may have audience.—London. Undated.
Holograph. Add. Endd. with date by Walsingham's clerk. French. 1 p. [France XVIII. 39.]
March 20. M. H. de l' Hospital du Fay (fn. 5) to Walsingham.
Regretting that he had been unable to see him, after leaving the Queen; expressing his satisfaction for the honour which her Majesty has done him, which would, he knows, be most gratefully acknowledged by his master, if it were not that he is already so much indebted to her that all means of acknowledgment are taken away.
Earnestly hopes that she has been satisfied with what he had in charge, which was chiefly to inform her as to all their actions, both past and present, and to show her how entirely they desire to depend upon her, so far as she will be pleased to suffer it; the contrary whereof could only bring infinite prejudice to their Majesties. Sends his honour his letters by an express, and hopes to see him the day after the morrow.
Holograph. Undated, but endd. with [O.S.] date. French. 1 p. [France XVIII. 40.]


  • 1. Philippe de la Roche, baron de Fontenilles, a catholic captain.
  • 2. George de Villequier, Seigneur de La Guerche.
  • 3. Antoine de la Roche-Chandieu.
  • 4. Stafford is here evidently again speaking of the Abbé del Bene.
  • 5. Michel Hurault de l'Hospital, seigneur du Fay, secretary of the King of Navarre and governor of Quillebœuf.