Calendar of State Papers Foreign, Elizabeth, Volume 21, Part 3, April-December 1587. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1929.
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The present volume is the second of the three required to bring the Holland and Flanders papers into line with those of the general series contained in Vol. XXIII. pt. i. It deals with the last nine months of the year 1587 and is mainly concerned with Leicester's second and final attempt to rule in the Netherlands. The ground has already been surveyed very thoroughly by Motley in his "United Netherlands" and more recently in Mr. Conyers Read's "Mr. Secretary Walsingham," but the mass of material is so great and the interests so varied, that there is still a good deal to be said, even though a number of valuable papers have been abstracted from the state records in time past, and are in consequence outside the scope of this Preface. Taken as a whole the papers may perhaps be considered most valuable as presenting the English side of a particularly difficult and complicated situation.
When Leicester sailed for England in November, 1586, he made very inadequate arrangements for the government of the country in his absence. His difference with the States General on the question of supreme authority remained undecided. The States, being on the spot, had an advantage in asserting their own claims, but these were not generally recognised. They had compromised themselves by offering the governorship to Leicester, and though they regretted the step, it could not be recalled. They were increasingly dominated by the powerful Province of Holland. There and in Zeeland there was a feeling in favour of confining their efforts to the defence of the two Province and leaving the rest to their fate (p. 164). Even Barnevelt believed that this could be done without foreign aid (p. 44). In England such ideas were regarded as suicidal, and the more exposed Provinces naturally looked to the English for protection and to save them from the threatened abandonment. Differences of religion added a further complication. The States were not sympathetic to the Calvinist party and among these Leicester found his chief supporters. (fn. 1) The States were ill fitted to act as an executive and they seemed incapable of uniting the country against the common enemy. They showed their weakness in setting up such a man as Hohenlohe as their leader and in wasting their resources in an attempt to engage German mercenaries.
With the increasing disorder for lack of a governor, the cry for Leicester's return became insistent and general, as he seemed to be the only person fitted for the position. For some time the cry went unheeded, but at length Buckhurst was sent over, to prepare the way for Leicester and to ascertain whether, if he came, he could look for the support and obedience which he considered necessary. Unfortunately both the queen and Leicester were more concerned to obtain reparation from the States for past slights than to make provision for harmonious co-operation in the future. From their point of view Buckhurst proved an unwilling and recalcitrant agent. He began, indeed, by presenting to the States a list of injuries done to the queen's subjects and the earl of Leicester (pp. 6-8), but thereafter he set to work chiefly to soften asperities and compound quarrels. He did not think it wise to insist on grievances and accepted the disclaimers and explanations given by the States, receiving their promise of duty to the queen and obedience to her governor (pp. 16, 19). He went through the towns assuring the people of the queen's care for them and dissipating the evil impressions created by mischievous reports (pp. 15, 16). His efforts seem to have achieved considerable success. Wilkes wrote home of the general contentment that he had brought. Caron, who had returned shortly before, and been much depressed at seeing the people so changed, declared that the cloud had vanished and that all were ready to render honour to the queen and respect to Leicester (p. 13). At Utrecht Buckhurst was received with great state and it was observed that the unruly Count of Mors had never been seen so quiet before (p. 29).
It is probable that Buckhurst was largely guided by the advice of Wilkes and Clark. Wilkes has recorded his opinion that any attempt to stir up the common people against the States was bound to fail, as the magistrates were vigilant and would sternly repress any outbreak (p. 163). The true way to deal with the States was by a mixture of cajolery and bribery such as had been used by the Prince of Orange (p. 164). Wilkes, like all the English there, believed in the strong hand in the Netherlands ; the only difference of opinion on this subject was over the manner of applying it. But though the conciliatory method appeared to have scored a success, misgvings asserted themselves.. As Wilkes confessed to Hatton, though the storms were somewhat smothered by the promise of further succours and a general reform of disorders, "yet they bite not so eagerly as some would think" (p. 23). To Walsingham he wrote somewhat dubiously that Leicester's coming would either consolidate all their wounds or open them again ; for many things concerning him were dissembled which his wisdom might make clear and sound (p. 24).
At home the queen could not be drawn to any decision concerning Leicester and the recent severe treatment of Davison made the Council very circumspect in their dealings with her ; she deferred all resolution until she should hear the result of Buckhurst's negotiations (p. 18). But his account of his proceedings, instead of bringing decision, only served to incense her. A cardinal point in her policy was to get the States to take over an increasing proportion of the cost of the war and correspondingly to relieve herself. At his very first meeting with the States Buckhurst had been asked to get the queen to bear two-thirds of the extraordinary charges of the war. This was refused (p. 16), but in writing home Buckhurst advocated a loan of 50,000l. to the Provinces. It needed no more to bring the thunder about his head. No reason that breedeth charges can in any sort be digested, Walsingham told him (p. 47). The envoy received a sharp reprimand for so much as considering such a proposal, as well as for accepting so easily the slender satisfaction offered for the injuries done by the States (pp. 48, 49).
Soon after this rebuff Buckhurst was startled by a secret order directing him to kidnap Hohenlohe, if it were possible. As Wilkes in his letters had been consistently representing the Count as the villain of the piece and the leader in all the steps taken to discredit and dispense with the English, it was hardly surprising that the queen should have thought that his removal would offer a solution of many of the chief difficulties, but the order betrayed a remarkable misunderstanding of the situation and a complete lack of sympathy with the policy adopted by her minister. Buckhurst had realised the expediency of conciliating Hohenlohe and took an early opportunity to visit him at Geertruydenberg (p. 2). He so far succeeded as to bring about a reconciliation between the Count and the Norrises, and obtained many fair promises. But Hohenlohe's hostility to Leicester was not to be appeased and ere long he was saying that Leicester had hired someone to kill him. He may have had some inkling of what had been planned in London, as everything done and devised there became quickly known in the Netherlands, possibly because the queen could hold no secrets (p. 36). Leicester was furious at the aspersion on his honour and insisted that the charge should be investigated and the matter cleared up. He declared that Hohenlohe had invented the story at the moment that Leicester's return was expected to serve his own ends (p. 47). Considering what was actually planned, though there is no evidence that murder was intended, Leicester's indignation seems somewhat exaggerated.
Owing to the difficulties of the enemy and from some advances made by Parma the queen had become possessed of the idea that a good opportunity offered for making peace. Matters had already gone so far that it looked as if the question of religious toleration alone stood in the way. It had been made perfectly clear that Philip could never be brought to grant toleration formally, but it was believed that he might be induced to connive at practises which he refused to countenance openly. The queen was eager to get the Netherlands to accept such a compromise, and Buckhurst was charged to lead them up to this point and at the same time to show them how imposible it was for them to wage war successfully for long with so powerful a monarch as the king of Spain, and that the moment was favourable for making peace.
Buckhurst liked this commission as little as his other tasks. He was sceptical about the peaceful intentions of the Spaniards and was naturally apprehensive of the disastrous effects such representations might have upon the people. He therefore ventured to hold his hand on the plea that Drake's exploit at Cadiz might well cause the king to change his humour of peace to a resolution of revenge (p. 91). By way of compliance with his orders he circulated a letter among the towns in which he explained, somewhat apologetically, why the queen had thought it her duty to treat with Parma, promising them that before concluding she would communicate the articles to the Provinces for ratification. At the same time he urged them not to relax any of their preparations for war, but to continue as if there was no thought of peace (p. 83). Almost at the same time he submitted to the States proposals for constituting and maintaining a field army at their own cost, for three months (p. 79). His behaviour over the peace plan not unnaturally caused resentment at Court and he received another sharp reprimand, with order to delay further proceeding in the matter until the queen's pleasure was known (p. 95). Walsingham, who had seen the draft of this letter, wrote himself that the queen was very glad to find that Buckhurst had made stay in propounding the treaty of peace, because of the difficulties he had suggested ; on Leicester's arrival, he added, "it might perhaps be performed with less dislike of the generality than now" (p. 111).
It is difficult to determine positively what influences contributed to decide Leicester to return to the Netherlands. The call was insistent and general, but it is probable that he was reluctant to go. Self interest might counsel him to rest content with his assured position at Court (p. 48) rather than risk all in a task of which he had already experienced the thanklessness. In his own view nothing had been done to make the way smooth for him. He was furious at what he considered the scandalous neglect of his interests and dignity by Buckhurst and by those who represented England in the Council and in the field, Wilkes and Norris. No suitable amends had been made by the States for their attacks and insults. His health was indifferent. He had been to take the waters at Bath, but without benefit (p. 9). He protested that he had never felt so out of condition (p. 342). In mid April he asked Walsingham's help that he might remain at home (p. 20). At the beginning of May the question was still in doubt (p. 47) but it was at this time that the queen ordered Buckhurst to promise the earl's immediate return if the States would undertake to put an army into the field and provide the means of paying it (p. 50).
The queen seems to have wavered, at one time urging him to go and at another seeming to prefer Norris. (fn. 2) According to Leicester's own account, at a later date, Walsingham was chiefly responsible for hastening him over (p. 361). Although professing his readiness to obey the queen's commands, he flatly refused to go with the provision that she considered sufficient (p. 65), and obtained her reluctant consent to a loan of 3,000l. and an advance of 30,000l. for the campaign when she had obstinately insisted that the half would suffice. He also obtained the royal promise that he should be relieved in three months (p. 342). With all this he declared that he never went with a worse will to any journey or any place (p. 341) ; but these may only be the after thoughts of a disappointed man reviewing a failure.
Walsingham's position in the matter is certainly ambiguous. He is usually considered as belonging to Leicester's party and Leicester writes to him as a friend. In a number of letters written by the secretary just before the earl sailed, to various correspondents in the Netherlands, the refrain is the same, that Leicester is returning and will put matters straight (pp. 113, 114). Yet the tone of the confidential letters written to him by Buckhurst and Wilkes, and later by Needham, show that his feeling for the favourite was anything but friendly, while the information they conveyed could hardly inspire him with much confidence in the success of the expedition. The situation in the Netherlands was no matter for trifling, and Walsingham's motives can only be a subject for puzzled conjecture. At the end, after the final failure, he seemed more anxious than any one for Leicester's speedy return to England.
After all the hesitation and delay Leicester returned to the Netherlands without having arrived at any understanding with the States, the relations between the two being apparently left to chance. His instructions (p. 121) state that he is coming because of the great confusion in the Provinces caused chiefly by the lack of a head to provide and dispose of the forces, treasures and munitions. To avoid such confusion in the future he was to move the States to grant him the necessary authority, insisting chiefly on two points : the control of the treasure and the right to punish those who supplied the enemy with food. He was allowed to accept provisionally such authority as the States gave him at his first entry. If the States refused to give him these powers, he was to appeal to the various Provinces and towns over their heads. If these in their turn refused, he was to threaten them with the withdrawal of the queen's support, seeing that the confused government then reigning among them could but work their ruin.
To prepare the way Leicester sent on his secretary Junius with orders to tell, not the States, but those who had charge of the people and whom he thought might be of service, that he was returning in the confidence that he would be accorded such authority as was fitting for administering the sovereignty of the countries, without opposition or countermining by the States, as in the past, who must claim no more than they had under previous sovereigns. He promised to do nothing of importance without the Council. He had the queen's command to return home if he could not obtain from the States the authority needful to be governor in something more than appearance (p. 106). The queen also wrote both to the Council of State and the States General, admonishing them to show the earl the respect due to his rank and quality as her minister (pp. 123, 124).
The suddenness of the decision to send Leicester back surprised Buckhurst and his colleagues. It was probably precipitated chiefly by the unexpected activity shown by the enemy and to his sitting down before Sluys. The winter had seen a terrible famine in the Low Countries. The home government was lulled into a sense of security by reports of the extreme misery of the Spanish army and the conviction that Parma would be incapable of any operations in the coming year for lack of food (pp. 9, 49). At the beginning of May the queen wrote to Buckhurst that she saw no cause why the States should raise such an army as they projected, because the enemy, for decay of his forces and lack of victuals would not be able to continue long in the field or attempt the siege of any town (p. 49), and accordingly Buckhurst advised the States to reduce their army (p. 79). The experienced Norris averred that the state of the enemy was such that if it had been possible to keep the field in the winter with a reasonable troop, they could have been rendered incapable of making war in the summer (p. 31). So late as May Buckhurst believed that a field army could have inflicted so much damage that they could have done little hurt that year (p. 87).
Unfortunately the Anglo-Dutch forces were in no better case. Norris complained that the English companies of both horse and foot were greatly decayed, the towns unprovided of victuals and all provisions of war greatly behindhand (p. 31). The English in the States' pay were so ill paid and provided that eleven companies could scarce furnish 1,000 men, and these lamentably weak and ill furnished (p. 33). Norris, who did not wish the campaigning season to pass in idleness, found himself unable to continue in the field for lack of money, munitions and victuals (p. 93).
Meanwhile Parma had been overcoming his difficulties and was preparing to open the compaign with an effective stroke. By seizing the stores in many of the towns he obtained enough provisions to feed his army until the autumn (pp. 87, 113). It was the easier for him to obtain supplies because, after Leicester's departure, all ports had been left open for him (p. 135), and he could furnish himself from the Eastland and France, as well as from Holland and Zeeland themselves, who did not scruple to carry on an active trade, so that it was stated that the victualling of the enemy was done daily by licence of the States (p. 141).
His first step was to erect two strong forts at Blankenburg, about half-way between Ostend and Sluys and furnish them strongly with guns (p. 76). They would form a useful point d' appui for an attack on either of the two towns, which were in no condition to stand a siege. His objective was well chosen politically as well as strategically. The indifference of the States to Flanders had long been a matter of concern to the English Government (p. 258). Only a few weeks before the queen had remonstrated with them on the subject and informed them that she had as much care of what she held there as of the rest (p. 66). But Holland and Zeeland had profited materially by the Spanish reconquest of the province, and had drawn to themselves much of its once flourishing trade. They viewed the queen's interest there with suspicion, and resisted attempts for the reinstatement of deputies of Flanders in the Council of State and States General (pp. 157, 165).
Thus the States seemed quite indifferent about the fate of Ostend and Sluys (pp. 71, 85), and the English government found itself compelled to take independent measures to meet the danger. A hundred footmen were sent from London to Conway at Ostend. He complained that they were the sweepings of the streets, and most of them deserted almost immediately (pp. 61, 78). More effective help was supplied by four companies under Sir Roger Williams from the well-seasoned garrison of Berghen (p. 75) and by the care of Buckhurst and Russel supplies of provisions were thrown into the town. To Sluys, where a diligent search revealed supplies for only 11 days, Russel sent 60 lasts of corn from Flushing (p. 88).
On the 29th May Parma came to Bruges and that same day his army appeared before Ostend (p. 86). By that time Conway had a garrison of 1,200 men and was confident of his ability to put up a stout resistance (p. 87). But Parma's demonstration was only a feint and on the 2nd June his army removed to Sluys, the real objective. The duke's effective force for the siege was estimated by Norris at 6,000 foot and about 2,000 horse (p. 93), but they were picked men, the flower of his army (p. 139), and he relied, for speedy success, on a battering train of thirty large guns (p. 94). He came near to suffering the loss of this essential part of his equipment for on the 30th May raiders from Sluys caught it on the river between Ghent and Damme and drove off its escort ; but reinforcements came up in time to prevent them from profiting by their success (p. 80).
Parma counted on the weakness of the place and expected to carry it by a coup de main. To this end he took considerable risks, passing the greater part of his forces across to the island of Kadzand ; and if his adversaries had possessed an army capable of taking the field he might have been cut off there (p. 94). Thanks to the measures taken at the last minute he did not meet with the immediate success he may have looked for ; but he took prompt steps to prevent further relief. An attempt to introduce corn on the 6th was foiled and two warships which came as escort fell into his hands through the treachery or cowardice of their captains (pp. 98, 107). Previous to this, on the 3rd, Williams with his companies from Berghen just succeeded in getting in, but the pinnace which brought him ran aground on going out again and was taken (p. 110). These and other captures supplied Parma with the vessels he lacked to block the passage from the town to the sea. A blockade was definitely established by the 7th, before which date Grunevelt the governor had put all the superfluous women and children (p. 87). The effective garrison was reckoned at 1,700 men of whom 550 were English.
Parma directed his main attack on the south-west side of the town, which was defended by a large detached fort. Lamotte was in charge here and the approaches were pushed forward under cover of the big guns, to which the defenders could make no adequate reply, as they were short of both guns and ammunition. If they had been better provided they could have rendered the Spanish trenches untenable, and even as it was their musketry fire was deadly, causing many casualties. Lamotte himself fell a victim, being wounded and carried to Bruges on the 15th, the Marquis of Renti taking over his command (p. 138). The garrison made several sallies, while from Ostend great activity was shown in cutting off convoys, so that the Spaniards dare not move about the country except in bands of 2 or 300 at a time (pp. 136, 137). Parma had not looked for so stubborn a resistance, but he had staked all on this cast and sworn that he would not rise until he had taken the place (p. 98). In spite of all difficulties the Spaniards pressed forward with great intrepidity and by the 24th June their approaches had reached the fort and they were able to place guns to fire on the town (p. 138).
Such was the position when Leicester at last arrived in the Netherlands. He sailed from Margate on the 25th and landed at Flushing on the following day, accompanied by Howard, Wentworth, North and others (pp. 134, 135). He brought with him some 3,000 fresh English troops. (fn. 3) With his usual optimism at the beginning of an enterprise Leicester describes them as "the fairest and handsomest companies that ever I saw in my life ; and the willingest men" (p. 149). But they had been levied at very short notice and were quite raw and inexperienced troops. They also came destitute of arms and equipment, for Leicester had written to the States to provide victuals and armour for them, but found that nothing had been done (p. 190). He had to send to England almost immediately for a large supply of pikes, bills, spades and shovels (p. 154). These deficiencies were not to be made good without serious loss of time, and even when he took the field some weeks later eighteen of his companies were still without arms (p. 275). The English troops who had remained in the country since his departure had been consistently neglected and can hardly have been in very serviceable condition.
Leicester lost no time in moving the Dutch to assist him in the relief of Sluys. Upon the news that the enemy had taken the field the States General had at once assembled and decided that they must act for themselves. They resolved to set up a camp with Count Maurice as commander, Hohenlohe as his lieutenant and Norris as marshal. The queen and Leicester were informed of this step and told that it was merely provisional. A force was thus provided for the emergency, but the States showed no intention of allowing Leicester to dispose of it. Norris, the soldier who inspired most confidence, and with whom they were ready to co-operate, was removed from the scene almost as soon as he was appointed. It was in vain that the States asked the queen to reconsider the decision to recall him (p. 99), as it was on his valour and wisdom alone that they based their hope of good fortune against the Spaniards (p. 105). Leicester was determined to be rid of him and Norris had no wish to remain under the command of one who bore him so much rancour. The field army was left under the virtual command of Hohenlohe and was moved off to an independent enterprise on the Bommel, on the pretext of creating a diversion in favour of Sluys. It scored some minor successes against the enemy, though it was claimed that only the steadiness of the English companies who were with it saved Hohenlohe from a disaster (p. 170).
In the matter of supplies the States showed no greater compliancy, declaring that the money available was pledged for the reiters whom the Count of Mors was to bring from Germany. Nevertheless, on the 13th July the States did eventually vote 100,000 florins, carefully providing that it should be exclusively for the relief of Sluys (p. 172). Buckhurst took credit to himself for this show of goodwill (p. 203), but it came too late to be of any practical advantage.
By this time Leicester had come to realise that he must rely solely on the English forces under his command, and even these had been held back from him by the States (p. 190). It was not until the 19th July that he was ready to move and on that day he had his troops transported by sea to Ostend (p. 188). He tried to persuade the States to attempt the relief by sea, but they refused to move unless a demonstration was made simultaneously on land. On that side the only practicable approach was by way of Ostend (p. 258). On the 24th the whole force marched out of Ostend, consisting of 4,000 foot under Willoughby and 400 horse under Russel. To meet them Parma drew most of his troops out of Kadzand and was reported to have 9,000 foot and 3,000 horse. The English advanced to Blankenburg sluice, where the enemy was found strongly posted. As an attack was considered out of the question, the attempt was abandoned (p. 259).
There still remained the possibility of introducing succour from the sea, and it is surprising that this question was left until so late in the day. Parma had done his best to prevent succour from that side, but his means were slight and his camp was not strong against attack from the sea (p. 147). The shallow parts of the channel had been staked and the fairway was blocked by ships carrying guns, but the obstacles would not have proved formidable to a determined attack. At Flushing men volunteered to get into the town (pp. 207, 234). No advantage was taken of this and at a council of war the seamen declared that relief by land must be attempted first (p. 275). To settle questions in dispute a sailor named van Trappen swam into Sluys and returned to report on the meagre character of the enemy's defences and further, that the garrison had prepared a place for the relief ships where they could lie in safety after they had passed through. The truth of this was categorically denied by Martin Drogue, a sea captain, who declared that there was no such place (p. 276). This Drogue was probably a traitor, and when, after the fall of Sluys, the defenders confirmed van Trappen's report, Leicester had him put under arrest (p. 278). On the evidence of a captured Spaniard he had been engaged in correspondence with the enemy for the betrayal of Flushing (p. 114). After Leicester's departure he was released by the States without further examination, (fn. 4) a curious and possibly significant sequel.
Thus although the Dutch fleet gathered before Sluys on the 20th July (p. 206) no attempt at relief was made, although various plans were discussed. On the 25th it sailed away under Maurice, to seek shelter from foul weather (p. 277). In excuse for his dependence on the Dutch in this particular Leicester pleaded that the queen's ships were unfit for such service (p. 232) ; but he could have found suitable craft and daring men in plenty in England if he had sought them earlier. His lack of foresight in this as in the inadequate equipment of his soldiers, betrayed once more his complete incompetence as a commander.
Meanwhile the siege was being pressed with remorseless energy. The artillery having made a breach in the great fort forty feet wide, a determined assault was delivered on the 7th July. This was repulsed, with considerable loss on both sides. But on the following night it was decided to abandon the fort as no longer tenable, particularly in view of the danger of being cut off from the town, with which it was only connected by a bridge of boats. The defenders got their guns and munitions safely away, but their position was gravely compromised by the loss. Parma soon got his guns into position in the captured fort and also developed a new attack in the direction of the Westpoort. He offered the garrison terms, but they refused to parley (p. 176). On St. James' eve, July 14, there was a heavy bombardment of the town followed on the next day by four assaults, which were all repulsed (p. 184). Desperate hand to hand fighting ensued, both above and below ground, but Parma's superior artillery, to which the defence could make no adequate reply, gave him a great advantage. Finally, on the 26th, the town surrendered, being granted very favourable terms. The place was no longer tenable. The enemy threatened several points at once, the garrison, insufficient in numbers, was worn out by constant duty, their powder was all but exhausted and the men discouraged by seeing the powerful Dutch fleet sail away without attempting to do anything for them (pp. 262, 263).
This success was regarded as one of Parma's greatest achievements, both in a military sense and because of the value of the place as a naval base (pp. 202, 228). But it had cost him dear, 45 of his best captains and 5 to 6,000 of his men having fallen (pp. 235, 236). It had offered a much stronger resistance than he expected, and if it had been adequately garrisoned and supplied, above all with sufficient artillery, he would never have succeeded (p. 204). The Spaniards expressed astonishment that no attempt had been made to relieve the place by water and their vice admiral admitted that if the relief ships had appeared he had orders to withdraw (p. 278).
A memorandum drawn up about the time of Leicester's return notes that he should have sufficient authority to govern the country, if he had the skill to use it, but he would need the aid of men experienced in the state of the government and prosecution of the wars (p. 132). Unfortunately Leicester's own faults of character made such co-operation impossible. Before his arrival he had estranged or frightened away the men best able to help him in his task. His sinister reputation, though not justified by positive proofs, is beyond question. Wilkes was convinced that he meditated revenge and feared for his life (pp. 19, 24, 37). He begged that he might be allowed to return before the earl's arrival (p. 24) and finally in desperation he declared that if the queen would not recall him, he would hazard her displeasure by returning without leave (p. 103).
Against Norris Leicester displayed a rancour that was almost insane, declaring that he would never serve with him again as long as he lived (p. 21), and insisting with Walsingham that Norris's recall was the great matter to be settled before he went (p. 70). Norris on his side protested that he would not again endure such violent usage as had been offered him during the earl's government. As if to bear this out Leicester, before he sailed sent strict orders to the treasurer in the Netherlands to make no payments to Norris (p. 125). So Norris also took care to be out of the country before his enemy came. He took with him two of his captains, who had long served under him and who feared Leicester's displeasure on that account and had actually been threatened (p. 101).
Buckhurst, from his character and position, could not be so apprehensive as the others of personal violence, but he also knew that he had incurred Leicester's displeasure and desired to get away as quickly as possible. He trusted to Walsingham and Hatton in the queen's Council, but not to the rest (p. 35). The queen's sharp correction of his well meant efforts drove him to despair and before May was out he desired earnestly that he might be recalled (p. 74). He continued to press for this as the time for Leicester's return drew near (pp. 117, 124). Walsingham through Sherley tried to bring about a reconciliation (p. 113), but the treasurer replied that the matter was beyond his ability to cure or to wade into, and intimated that mischief makers were busy on both sides of the water (p. 174).
Buckhurst did not, like the others, leave before Leicester came, and when summoned went to meet him at Middelburg. He excused himself from giving an account of his proceedings and declined to answer questions on matters in which Leicester was personally concerned. That Leicester might have no just cause for complaint he imparted to Beale and Killegrew, that same afternoon, the whole course of his negotiations (pp. 166-7, 193-4). He left for England immediately after where, through Leicester's influence, he was forbidden the presence and confined to his house, and where Leicester continued to pursue him with relentless animosity. The earl seemed greatly upset by a report circulated in the Netherlands that Buckhurst had three times had secret audience of the queen and had been most graciously used (p. 199).
When Leicester's own countrymen felt so much apprehension, the Dutch deputies who had criticised and opposed him could hardly be expected to feel more comfortable in their minds at the prospect of his reappearance on the scene. The States had indeed written asking for his return and promising him faithful assistance and support according to the act of the government (p. 11). But at heart they regretted the authority they had given him, and if they could be free of it they did not mean that any man should have such power and interest with them (p. 73). Thus in spite of Buckhurst's efforts Maurice, Hohenlohe and the States were secretly at work together to make all sure before the time came (p. 36). Measures were taken to secure the towns of Holland and Zeeland ; Count Solms was confirmed as governor of Zeeland, in spite of the queen's insistence on Russel's superior claims (p. 65) ; steps were taken against those, like Sonoy, known to be well affected to the English, and an attempt of Count Mors to get control of Utrecht was only foiled by the skill and address of Norris (p. 88).
The States had a well grounded fear that Leicester intended to stir up the people against them, having circulated reports that but for them the queen would have given much more help (p. 117). They were alarmed by reports out of England that he meant, not only to remove some of them from their posts, but to have them put to death (p. 163). They even interpreted his delay in returning as part of a sinister design for overthrowing the government (p. 90). They had promised obedience and respect ; but when Leicester came they stood their ground without yielding a jot. They had explained the appointment of Maurice as commander to be a provisional measure to meet an emergency, but the prince maintained his position and as Admiral his ships flew his own colours instead of the English cross of St. George, as they had done before (p. 204). When Leicester arrived they decided, after some debate, not to go to him in Zeeland, having the example of Buys before them (p. 125). They took a much more serious step in the arrest of Junius, Leicester's secretary, who was sent to North Holland with letters for Sonoy and friends there. The messenger was imprisoned and his papers taken from him. These papers and Leicester's instructions which also came into their hands, were held to justify their apprehensions and suspicions.
The arrest was virtually an act of war, and showed that the struggle for power was to be renewed at once. Leicester's impotence adequately to resent such an affront should have warned him to move with discretion. But he was not to be taught. At his parting interview with Beale and Killegrew Buckhurst asked if their instructions contained anything about advancing again the grievances against the States. They replied that they had not got it in writing, but the queen had orally willed them to deal therein. Buckhurst warned them that it would do great harm, and they promised to be guided by his advice (p. 167). Yet in a list of matters to be dealt with, drawn up soon after, the first point was a demand for the States to give public satisfaction to Leicester (p. 189). Sir Richard Bingham, who came out at this time, also had instructions to declare certain points to the States wherein the queen had just cause of offence against them (p. 190).
The disaster of Sluys only added fuel to the fire, for Leicester threw the whole blame on the Dutch, not only for lack of support, but for obstructing him in what he wished to do. He told the queen that there was a party to exclude her from any further part in the Netherlands and to draw stranger forces into their service (p. 210). They were only a faction, as he believed that the people, the heads of towns and the military commanders would follow her where she pleased, and he urged her to take energetic action.
In spite of his reverse and the consequent discredit cast on the English name, Leicester was all for taking a high hand with the States. He should have realised that he would get no support in such a course. To reduce them to subjection, apart from the impolicy of such an attempt, would have involved a heavy outlay of money, and he could be sure that it was the last thing to which Elizabeth would consent. Nevertheless Leicester decided to embark on the enterprise. In negotiations conducted with the States chiefly through Beale and Killegrew, he received, besides a firm assertion of their rights, abounding assurances of obedience and respect. By no means appeased Leicester gave them to understand that he could repose no great confidence in their bare words, but must measure them by their deeds (p. 226). He proposed to go to Dort to meet them there and have the whole question thrashed out. He proceeded to the town on the 13th August. The members of the Council of State and the States General left Middelburg three days after him ; but while some few went to Dort, the rest returned to their Provinces to report and receive the necessary powers. But they showed no alacrity to reassemble. They suspected some sinister design on Leicester's part and wondered why he did not meet them at the Hague, the usual place of their governors.
So Leicester remained cooling his heels at Dort with a great train of English lords and gentlemen awaiting employment (pp. 263-5). No one else came near except the ex-archbishop Truchsess, Schenck and some other faithful captains (p. 269). Among the idle throng Lord North seems to have exercised a sinister influence, in fomenting the trouble between the governor, the States and the Counts and also in making mischief between Leicester and some of his best soldiers, including Russel (p. 236).
Leicester himself was utterly weary of his task and ready to throw it up if he could get no better satisfaction from the States (p. 237). Many of those about him were urging him to do so and return to England (pp. 267, 286). Even Russel was of opinion that little hope of good was to be expected from the States or Hohenlohe. He thought that Leicester had sought them too much and that he should have dealt more drastically with them (p. 273).
The States still held aloof and now seemed disposed to withdraw all that they had previously conceded, contending that the earl's government surceased at his departure in the preceding year. Although he pointed out the danger of these disputes in the face of the enemy, and threatened to depart and leave them to themselves, he entirely failed to move them (p. 298). Finally he issued a weak protest that if they would not yield him the authority he required or provide the means to maintain the war he would not be responsible for the troubles and losses that must ensue (p. 280). The ground was being cut from beneath his feet, for even in quarters where he was accustomed to look for support wild rumours were circulating about a peace. The States merely replied with demands for retrenching his authority, the removal of his name and arms from placards and commissions and the dismissal of those who did not agree with them (p. 286). A violent clash seemed inevitable, but as the result of the mediation of the provincial council of Holland and the Chamber of Accounts, Leicester proceeded to the Hague and there, after nine days of inaction the States passed a resolution confirming his authority and promising contributions for the war (p. 300).
Any satisfaction Leicester may have felt on this apparent success must have been short lived. He began to press for his recall, suggesting the Lord Admiral as his successor or that Bingham should have command of the English forces as mere auxiliaries (p. 305). "I have here worn out my health among these people" he wrote, "and there is no service for the field nor yet for the country for me to do." Before abandoning the field entirely he decided to make a tour in order to see how far he could count on support in the country. The results were not encouraging. He was regarded with so much suspicion that the quartering of some of his new troops at Delfshaven and Maasluis caused such excitement in Holland as threatened a revolt (p. 297). It was believed that Hohenlohe was taking steps to drive them out by force (p. 331) and although Leicester demanded an explanation and that such lawlessness should cease, he was constrained to withdraw his men (p. 420). At Enkhuisen the gates were shut against him because the people had been told that he had come to take the town and alter the garrison (p. 356). At Utrecht he decided a dispute over the appointment of magistrates by himself nominating the burgomasters ; but he had no confidence in the permanence of the settlement and foretold great broils there ere long (p. 391). At Leyden a revolt against the authority of the States soon after his visit, was put down with great severity, as Wilkes had foretold would happen in such case. (fn. 5) Representations that the queen could have Sonoy, governor of North Holland, for her sworn man, if she chose, and that Medemblik would be an excellent place to establish an English garrison, for keeping the sea and passage (pp. 356, 367, 374) met with no response from home, for they would involve further outlay.
Leicester returned to Flushing a beaten man. It seemed probable that Count Maurice and the Hollanders would get control of Camphire and even threaten that town (p. 401). The States had found means to withdraw all their soldiers in Holland and Zeeland from his command, and all the English forces in their pay, both new and old, had been discharged, so that he had no forces at his disposal save those already engaged on necessary garrison duty (p. 401). There was little chance of reinforcing them. The men who had made such a fine appearance on their arrival were trailing back to England utterly destitute to tell their countrymen what service in the Netherlands meant. But for Russel's generosity in relieving the starving men out of his own pocket, many would have died in the streets of Flushing or ever they reached home (p. 390).
Leicester complained that the chief source of his troubles was the mischievous effect of the peace proposals (p. 383). They had given Counts Maurice and Hohenlohe a handle against him (p. 361) and rendered him suspect to the people, even to his own personal danger (p. 362). At an earlier date he had been accustomed to appeal to the people as against the States, but now the burden of his complaint is that it is the intention of the States to establish a popular government (pp. 345, 361, 363). His disinclination to forward the peace proposals stood in the way of the queen's hopes in that direction and as his efforts to assert his authority had clearly failed, it was decided to recall him.
The decision seems to have been due to Leicester's own suggestion, taken over by Bingham. He had reported that there were three ways to deal with the States : (1) to concur in their plot, acknowledge their sovereignty, recognise Maurice as governor of Holland and Zeeland and help them with 5,000 foot and 1,000 horse. (2) to send someone over to admonish the States to explain the peace proposals, to punish those who maligned the queen and to spend 20,000l. to buy over those who had been drawn away. (3) to withdraw the succour, publishing the injuries received, and announcing that they might have it by keeping the terms of their agreement, but the last course would mean their perdition (p. 410). The sending over of Herbert shortly before the receipt of this memorandum indicates some inclination towards the second course, though the suggestion to find 20,000l. to buy support sufficed to damn it. A clear decision in favour of the first course is shown by the recall of Leicester and the issue at the same time of a patent appointing Willoughby Captain-General of the queen's forces in the Low Countries. It was provided soon after that his function should be purely military and that he should not intermeddle further with anything concerning the government of the countries.
The report of Leicester's recall appalled those of the queen's party, who found themselves left in pitiable case (p. 422). Those who had resisted the governor, on the other hand, felt more at ease, as they believed that the queen helped them, not of love, but for her own necessity (p. 423) and they felt confident that she would not abandon them.
To save his own face and prevent the cavilling of his enemies Leicester took upon himself to hold back Willoughby's patent until he should himself be back in England (pp. 424, 445). Willoughby accepted the charge with reluctance and expected it to bring him disgrace rather than advancement (p. 418). He appreciated the reasons for holding back his patent, but insisted that he must have definite authority from the queen, otherwise he would risk censure and return home (p. 445). A fresh patent was accordingly made out and instructions drawn up for him, appointing Sir Wm. Russel, Sir Wm. Read, Errington and Wilford to assist him as a council of war (pp. 462, 463).
The actual recall seems to have come to Leicester as a surprise. Only a week before he wrote from Flushing that he would not leave the place, whatever might become of him after, before he saw which way the enemy would dispose himself (p. 402). On the 13th November he met the States of Zeeland and warned them of the danger they ran by not dealing loyally with the queen. He seemed to have made an impression, but the report of his recall getting about threw all into confusion (pp. 421, 422). In speaking with Herbert a few days later he intimated that he intended to remain until he heard what the Hollanders meant to do with the queen touching the peace and with himself touching the government of the Provinces and until these questions were definitely settled by mutual consent (p. 425). He did not long remain of this mind for, writing on the 22nd he said that he hoped himself to be one of the next messengers (p. 429). He waited a while for the meeting of the States and then sailed for England. His resignation was drafted at this time, but not delivered until the following April.
Leicester's second period in the Netherlands was a complete failure both from the military and the political point of view, and in both cases this was largely due to lack of the commonest prudence and foresight. He had always been too late for Parma and although the duke had moved unusually late in the season Leicester gained no advantage from the additional respite. It is strange to read that the England of Elizabeth was unprepared with the craft, and apparently the seamen too, required to force a way into Sluys, especially when the evidence suggests that the task was one of no great difficulty and might easily have saved the place. In his contest with the States Leicester deprived himself at the outset of his wisest councillors and unsupported he was no match for the Dutch statesmen. With many professions of regard and promises to obey they held fast to their determination to uphold the essential sovereignty of the States. They counted on wearing him out in the end by the obstinacy of their resistance (p. 286). Though he came to produce order out of chaos by his authority, Gilpin declared that he had never proposed, still less negotiated anything in Council for redressing the faults in government or sought to put order for the better conduct of affairs (p. 265). He was a man of an unfortunate temper, most unhappily placed in such a situation. If he is detested in England, wrote one, he is not less so here (p. 286). He pursued with rancour and spite such men as Buckhurst and Wilkes, who chanced to have offended his vanity. His insane jealousy of Norris led him into like extravagances. He neglected and estranged his most important subordinates, such as Russel, Morgan and Burgh, and even condescended to be jealous of Williams (p. 236). Pelham, who had been brought over at his urgent request, was discharged by him and, feeling the disgrace keenly, died soon after, broken hearted (pp. 317, 319).
It should always be remembered that Leicester spent both himself and his fortune freely for the Netherlands, involving himself in serious financial difficulties. He declared that he had spent not only the money he brought over, but his entertainment and some additional money borrowed at Amsterdam (p. 427). He protested that he had received nothing from the States or the queen and was 25,000l. poorer for his journey in the previous year (p. 342). Yet he left the exchequer empty, and the army starving, the garrisons of even the most important places, such as Flushing, Berghen and Ostend being put on rations (p. 447). But it is doubtful if a wiser man would have fared much better under the circumstances. Killigrew affirmed that he had borne himself very honourably and been very ill-requited, and that the treatment accorded to him might have tried the most patient (p. 444). In an analysis of the situation Herbert explained that there were three sorts of persons in the Low Countries, each with a different idea of government : one, used to princely authority, desired a single rule, another sort wanted an oligarchy, while a third, including those who contributed to the maintenance of the action, judged that as the charge and peril were theirs, so the rule and sovereignty must proceed from them. "He that shall accord these three discords," he added, "had need have a divine spirit." He thought that if Leicester remained he might have tamed the turbulent spirits and done much good for the cause and the queen's service. (pp. 422, 423).
With Leicester's departure the States had won their victory. The solution of their difficulties was in sight. Their eyes were fixed on the young man, Count Maurice, to be their future leader, and Leicester's back was hardly turned when it was being freely stated that Maurice was to have general authority over all the Provinces (p. 469).
The queen had become possessed of the idea of making peace. The negotiations through de Loo had come to a check on the question of toleration. Champagney had declared that the king could not accept any dictation about religion and that Parma could not send anyone to England to treat. The queen took this ill, as she had intimated that she would be satisfied with as much toleration as the king could concede with safety, conscience and honour (p. 28). Without much to encourage her she believed that a compromise could be arranged on similar lines to those of the Pacification of Ghent. Buckhurst was to try and persuade the Dutch to accept something of this kind. When the matter was taken out of his hands, the task was entrusted to Leicester. He was first to try to win over those who had most influence with the common people and then to bring pressure to bear upon the States, threatening, if they would not consent, that the queen would withdraw her support and make a separate treaty, seeing that there was nothing that might not easily be accorded between the queen and Parma. Counts Maurice and Hohenlohe were to be bought off with a promise that satisfactory provision should be made for them in the terms (pp. 122, 123).
Leicester liked this task as little as his predecessor, and took his time about acting in the matter. But the affair was pushed on at home, and as no one was to come to England, commissioners were appointed to go and treat in Flanders. Thereafter weeks were spent in discussing whether a truce should be arranged before or after the commissioners crossed the sea, the place of meeting and so forth. Parma steadily refused to grant any truce and continued to press the siege of Sluys, but de Loo persisted with his reports that the duke was most benevolently disposed and once the commissioners were sent over everything could be settled and the queen should have choice of the place of meeting. The cessation of arms could be discussed when they reached Zeeland, to attempt it before would be waste of time (p. 179). In reply Burghley intimated that Leicester would have full powers to arrange a truce, but it would be hard to induce the queen to send the commissioners without one (p. 185). On the Spanish side the demand for a truce before beginning to treat was considered quite unreasonable (p. 273).
The loss of Sluys greatly intensified the queen's desire for peace (p. 227) and the question of a truce was not pressed. It was resolved to go on with the treaty, and as the queen was pledged not to treat with the king of Spain without the privity of the States General Leicester had instructions to persuade them to consent to the treaty and to appoint deputies to take part in the negotiations (p. 228).
Leicester was annoyed at these instructions. He naturally considered the morrow of a serious reverse to be a most unfavourable time for entering into negotiations. He had no belief in Parma's sincerity and thought he was only using this bait to make it easier for him to attend to affairs in France and to help the Guises (pp. 246, 282). He earnestly begged that the treaty should not be pushed on or the commissioners hurried over. He took it upon himself to delay propounding the matter to the States as a thing resolved upon by the queen, but only use it as a warning of what she would be forced to do unless they gave her better contentment. Meanwhile reports of the negotiations got abroad and did great mischief. It was represented that the queen intended to sacrifice the Netherlands in order to make a separate peace to her own advantage.
The fear that she might be led to make a separate peace was not confined to the Dutch. Although in disgrace Norris dared to compromise himself still further by a reasoned paper representing the extreme danger of making peace without the Dutch. To separate her from the United Provinces, the king of Spain would no doubt grant the queen any reasonable terms. But this would not placate his hostility or satisfy his ambition. He could only attack by sea and so long as the queen could keep him out of Holland and Zeeland he could not, in all Europe, get ships and sailors enough. If he should reduce either of these Provinces the queen would be in danger of being overmatched at sea and of losing all trade with the Hanse Towns. If she maintained Flushing and Brill under such conditions the cost of maintaining them and of keeping a fleet at sea for their defence would amount to as much as the whole charge of her succours (pp. 292, 293).
Meanwhile Parma kept pressing for the commissioners to come, complaining that the delay was merely a device to gain time and the excuse about waiting for the Dutch to answer, a mere subterfuge to deceive him. It was claimed that in the hope of the coming of the commissioners he had already granted what was virtually a truce, and was keeping a large force idle at great cost (p. 266). The queen seems to have taken these representations seriously and grew impatient for a definite answer from the States, saying that she was touched in honour at keeping Parma waiting so long when she had promised her answer long before (p. 338). But apart from some of the most exposed Provinces the Dutch had no intention of making peace and in a resolution of the 25th August the States of Holland expressed their determination to pursue the war to a successful issue (p. 272). In the States General Barnevelt made capital of the peace move by producing a copy of Leicester's instructions, declaring that the queen meant to make peace and her only object in sending Leicester over was to get control of places and people, and if the States would not consent to a peace, to compel them to do so with the forces at his disposal (p. 304).
Leicester was placed in a most unhappy position, being pushed forward from one side to advance a peace in which he had no belief and wanted at least to delay, and obliged on the other to represent that the queen's action in this direction was designed in the best interests of the Provinces and had been maliciously misrepresented, while his opponents were using it as a means to cut the ground from beneath his feet. It must be admitted that his explanations lacked candour and they did not carry conviction. To his own Court he represented that he did not yet find men ready to hear of peace, not seeing how they could be assured of good conditions. It must not be a sudden motion that must draw them to it. He suggested that some person of credit might be sent to break the matter and debate it with them in friendly confidence (p. 304), a suggestion followed by the mission of Herbert. Leicester hoped that he should not himself be made a commissioner and that the queen would recall him if she intended to make a peace (p. 315).
Leicester's hesitation and objections caused impatience at Court and on 20th September the queen wrote direct to the States' General, explaining her action over the peace, repudiating the slanders against her and calling upon them, without unnecessary delay, to appoint deputies to propound their demands, which her commissioners would use all their powers to further. She assured them of the sincerity of her intentions and that if peace could not be had upon reasonable conditions she would not leave them destitute of defence (pp. 327, 328). This letter Leicester ventured to hold back, to save his own face, because it virtually charged him with neglecting to obey his instructions (p. 342). Instead he sent Valcke to consult with the Council of State about appointing the deputies required by the queen (p. 347). But his action only served to increase the suspicions against him, and again he urged the sending of an ambassador.
The queen's insistence had the natural effect of stiffening the opposition and rendering the English odious to the people (p. 370). The States of Holland were especially active in their resistance and some took an oath never to agree to a peace without the consent of the whole of the assembled States (p. 362). Under the influence of Counts Maurice and Hohenlohe they passed a resolution not to agree to any peace or to send deputies, but to send to the queen giving the reasons for their refusal (p. 417). It was expected that when Leicester returned to England the States would send after him and use all means against the treaty, which they were persuaded would be so prejudicial to them that they would rather hold out to the last town than yield to a peace (p. 444).
In spite of the fervour of this resistance the queen continued to press her point and early in November Herbert was sent over on a special mission to recommend peace to the country. By his instructions his chief object was to induce the States to consent to the queen's advice about treating for peace, asking them to choose suitable persons for the purpose and giving them full powers ; at the same time earnestly requiring them to stand firm, not to hearken to any enticement of the enemy and, if reasonable terms were refused, to persevere in their defence, with her further aid (p. 365). She wrote, simultaneously, to the States, scolding them for the misrepresentations about the peace, for their obstruction, which led to the loss of Sluys and for the ill treatment of her soldiers. She announced Leicester's recall but promised to leave forces for their defence, advised them to make their garrisons strong and to reform their errors and promised that if she treated of peace she would not omit to care for them and for their countries as for her own (p. 410).
On his arrival Herbert conferred with Leicester, who was well pleased with the tenor of his instructions and who told off Burchgrave to shew him all the papers and put him in possession of the essential facts. Herbert found great difficulty in delivering his message, as the States were evasive. The opposition was very strong. especially in Holland, where a book had been published against the treaty (p. 469) and where they were even prepared to do without the queen's aid, rather than alter their purpose (p. 458). Impatient of the continued delay the queen sent orders to Herbert on the 16th December to fix a date by which the States should give a definite answer, and if it was not forthcoming he was to return with all speed to England (p. 454).
By this time the queen had made up her mind to proceed in the treaty even if the States stood out (p, 480). Parma kept pressing for the commissioners, and intimated that he was being trifled with. At the beginning of October de Loo was in despair and lamented that all his labour had been in vain. He asked permission to return home to attend to his neglected business (p. 353). Thereupon the queen sent, deploring the delay and protesting her sincerity, but adding that if Parma took the field, as he apparently intended, she could not send her commissioners (p. 375). In response Parma himself wrote to the queen protesting his continual readiness to treat (p. 394). He called de Loo back more than once to tell him the same thing, but they must make haste and not treat him as they had done in the past (p. 413).
Before the letter containing this news had arrived Burghley wrote to tell de Loo what he must say to Parma. The queen was fully resolved to send her commissioners with all speed upon receiving satisfaction from the duke concerning the doubts she felt as to the object of his great preparations, both by sea and land. If he could give a satisfactory answer it would clear away all obstacles to the immediate sending of the commissioners (pp. 415, 416). The queen had thus decided to act, whether or no she secured the co-operation of the States, and instructions for the commissioners seem to have been formulated almost immediately Parma made no difficulty about giving the required assurances. Once the deputies had met the suspension of arms should be the first thing settled. As for the armada of Spain, President Richardot swore that he knew nothing about its intended coming, and once the negotiations had begun they would write to the king of Spain so that all hostilities should be suspended there also (p. 457). De Loo's sorrow was turned to rejoicing and he believed that they had at last reached the end of a long journey (p. 458).
There can be little doubt that the driving power behind all this was the queen's intense desire to come to terms with Spain, which made her blind to the dangers of the course and deaf to the warnings of her councillors. She had her way, but the misgivings of the ablest and most experienced of the men about her found expression. Burghley himself declared that the high opinion of Parma's honour in keeping his word was the only foundation on which the queen built to proceed in the treaty (p. 359). He drew up a paper setting forth the numerous doubts and difficulties that beset the question on every side (p. 466). Leicester had stubbornly resisted the part assigned to him in the affair and his letter to the Treasurer on the 7th November expresses the intense anxiety he felt (p. 408). Wilkes, who could not venture to address the queen directly, wrote to the earl of Derby, the chief of the commissioners, warning him to beware of the reasons which induced the king of Spain to offer peace and, if the queen persisted, to take heed that the United Provinces were not drawn into it. They might resist by themselves, if the queen showed indulgence, but if they failed and the Spaniard became possessed of those countries, England would never be quiet. The security of England depended upon the event in France. If the king of Navarre prevailed England would be the more assured and Spain dangerously threatened. Peace in the Netherlands would enable Philip to send all his forces there to help the Guises. He besought the earl to beware lest they should be overreached by the cunning Spaniards. They could not be too jealous or suspicious of the Spaniards, who did not love England and did not desire peace for her good. Wilkes feared that the earl and his colleagues were engaged on a thankless task, for if they made a peace dangerous to the state, the blame would fall on them while if they returned empty handed, that also would be laid to their insufficiency (p. 434).
Although the fall of Sluys occurred comparatively early in the campaigning season, no other military operations of importance were undertaken during the remainder of the year. The allies were too distracted by mutual suspicion and the struggle for supremacy between Leicester and the States ; while Parma was intent on the preparations for his share in the great stroke that was to be made against England. Upon the news of the surrender Leicester distributed his forces in Ostend, Brill, Berghen, Utrecht and Flushing, as it was expected that the enemy would turn his attention immediately to one of these places (p. 202). On the 6th August he repaired to Berghen where his main force was assembled, intending to move out to harass the enemy before he had drawn all his forces to one place. A demonstration was made in the direction of Hoogstraeten, but the opposing forces retired without coming to action. The move was so far successful in that it secured the safe return of a raiding party that had ventured as far as Brussels, and brought back a number of distinguished prisoners and some of Parma's treasure (pp. 230, 234).
The state of the English forces was deplorable. These pages are full of appeals for money to pay the troops. But Elizabeth, hoping for peace and indignant with the States for not doing their part, kept a tight hold on the purse strings. The States, on their side, suspicious of designs to betray the country, and unwilling in any case to supply arms to Leicester in his contest with them, were not disposed to be liberal to their English auxilaries. Even before Leicester's arrival they had refused to take any more English into their pay (p. 117). They utterly refused to pay the new troops that the earl brought with him and dismissed those who were already in their pay. No army could flourish under such conditions "Our state is weak," wrote Pelham, "our people not many, daily decaying, and wanting all means to supply them. If the enemy take his course towards Doesborch, Lochem, Arnheim, Utrecht or any town towards Guelders, we cannot hinder him, being scarcely able to leave the towns possessed towards the sea coast safely guarded, much less are we able to meet him in the field (p. 235). The new comers were in particularly bad case and it was decided that if the States would not pay them they should immediately be sent home ; but the decision was long in coming. In September Burnham reported that more than a third of the soldiers were sick for lack of money to buy clothes, for their weekly lendings hardly sufficed to find them food. The men were constantly running to the enemy from Flushing, Berghen and Ostend, so that he was able to form two companies of English deserters one of which was commanded by Edward Crispe, a former lieutenant of Sir Philip Sidney's cornet (p. 340). Service in the Netherlands was distasteful to all, soldiers and civilians alike, and many are the petitions to be allowed to return home or to go and serve elsewhere. Many of the veteran captains chafed at the miserableness of those wars. They wished that the queen would have a rounder war with them (p. 270) ; some of the more enterprising asked leave to go and serve the king of Navarre (pp. 174, 236, 250, 376). There is an echo of the old chivalrous wars in a challenge from the Marquis of Guasto to Willoughby to a fight between companies of lances, 30 to 200 a side ; but nothing came of it (pp. 333, 351).
The towns garrisoned by the English suffered from the general neglect. The garrison at Flushing, the most important of all, was left twelve months without pay (p. 334), despite the repeated representations of the governor. Its numbers were reduced below danger point at a time when the country seemed likely to rise against the English (p. 390). There were only two gunners in the place although it had ordnance enough to keep fifty occupied (p. 392). Brill was in even worse case, one third of the garrison unable to serve, through sickness, the stores of food and munitions entirely inadequate, and the magistrates of the town regarding the sorry state of the garrison with complacency, because "their end was liberty" (p. 297). At Ostend the soldiers of the garrison were constantly deserting. They had pulled down half the houses in the town to provide themselves with fuel. They were very unruly and constantly on the verge of mutiny (p. 296). The trade of the town was paralysed by fear of an attack and because privateers made the passage by sea unsafe (p. 456). The place was, in fact, practically blockaded, with even less liberty of movement by sea than by land. Owing to the neglect of the dykes there was great danger of its being overwhelmed by the sea. Conway was persuaded that the anticipation that a disaster of this kind would overtake the English before the winter was over prevented an attack on the town (p. 405). The queen was so impressed by these representations that she wrote to Leicester leaving it to his judgment, after taking the best advice, whether it would not be better to abandon the place, laying it waste and letting in the sea, after withdrawing the garrison and everything of value. Before taking such a step he was to inform the States secretly. If they objected, he was to insist on their sending men and provisions there at once, and if they refused he was to inform them that the queen did not intend to hazard the lives of her people or waste her treasure there (pp. 411, 412).
Of actual operations of war there is little to record. The garrison at Berghen was always alert and active ; but an enterprise against Wauw in September miscarried owing to the waggons carrying the engines and artificial fires falling into the water (p. 331). In the following month a reconnaissance surprised the corps de garde in front of the enemy's camp, and a small party distinguished itself so greatly in an encounter with superior numbers that they were accounted devils rather than men (p. 388). The expedition of the Count of Mors to engage reiters proved a failure, but on the road he succeeded in capturing the town of Meppen in Westphalia. The place was important as being a busy centre for the lorrendraiers from which they supplied the enemy with food (p. 354). The question whether it should be held was referred to Leicester and the Council (p. 346). Counts Maurice and Hohenlohe urged that the troops there should be brought back to the Hague, for the defence of Zeeland (p. 403). The place was too isolated to be defensible and it was soon afterwards abandoned. (fn. 6)
Schenck, on the Rhine, was not one to remain long inactive, and in October Leicester lent him Sir Robert Sidney and his regiment and three companies of English horse. An enterprise on Middelaer castle having failed Leicester ordered the English home (p. 380). In spite of this, in December, Schenck succeeded in capturing Bonn by surprise, much to the delight of the ex-elector Truchsess (p. 462).
Since the capture of Sluys Parma had virtually suspended all operations in the field, but reports kept coming in of his enormous military preparations, although opinions differed as to the object of it all. Thoraise, who was captured in August, spoke of the busy preparation of boats at Antwerp, but declared that there was a universal desire for peace (p. 254). He was Champagney's nephew and no doubt spoke according to book. Odo Colonna, another prisoner, on the other hand, gave particulars of a great league, headed by the pope, to overthrow the queen of England, and he laughed at the peace negotiations (p. 449). Troops continued to flock to Parma from all parts, but the majority did not stand the climate so well as the Spaniards and died in great numbers (p. 431). The duke was particularly anxious to enlist sailors, and among others he engaged 300 French and brought some 200 from Genoa (pp. 364, 386). Every sort of mariner in the country was pressed to serve, even those who knew no more than to row a boat on a river (p. 432).
Leicester was not greatly perturbed by all this stir. He thought that the king of Scots was much more dangerous than the king of Spain and urged that he should be conciliated (p. 271). But one thing gave him food for thought, namely Parma's provision for the equipment of 3,000 horse. He did not think that these could be intended for the Netherlands, Scotland or Ireland, but they would be of great service in England. He therefore urged that care should be taken to see that the horses for the musters in England were efficient, that there should be a good supply of muskets, as the enemy used scarcely any other weapon and that good watch should be kept on the coast (p. 402). Later, moved chiefly by the unhappy state of affairs in the Netherlands, which threatened ruin there, he wrote that the queen should look to her own case and strengthen herself at home, relying chiefly on the navy, staying all the available mariners. That done and Scotland made sure she might presume as much upon her own kingdom as any prince in Christendom (p. 424).
In his final dispositions before his departure Leicester made provision against attack from his Dutch allies as much as against the common enemy. He was particularly concerned about Camphire and Arnemuyden (p. 428) and from the captains of the former place he took an oath of allegiance to the queen and himself (p. 435). He declared that the haste to get rid of the English and the harsh treatment of those who favoured them convinced him that his opponents in the States meant to bring back the king of Spain (p. 428). The suspicion that Counts Maurice and Hohenlohe had designs on Flushing and Brill was so strong that Russel refused to admit a ship of Enkhuisen with 200 men, that wished to take refuge at Flushing, and the like happened at Brill (p. 468).
The Counts denied any such sinister intentions. Their concern was for the defence of Zeeland, which Parma's preparations, especially in ships and boats, seemed to threaten. On the 5th November a conference was held at Delft when resolutions were taken for the defence of the Province. Each town was rated for so many mariners and the burghers were to be armed to form the garrisons (pp. 403, 417). All the available craft was assembled and one half were set to watch Dunkirk and the other to watch Antwerp (p. 417). Leicester wrote contemptuously that the Dutch were doing nothing in the war, except for a few boats, which would be to no great purpose (p. 429). But Killigrew judged more truly, declaring that all their greatest preparations were by water, where they were already too strong for the enemy, and they were increasing their navy daily both for the river and the main (p. 444). The stage was already being set for the drama of the following summer.
To urge the Dutch to take action at sea had been part of Herbert's charge. The Council of State was to be moved to make ready a convenient strength by sea, either to join the queen's navy or to go to the coasts of Spain to do some good service, procuring as great a force as possible to be speedily, provided. The queen would not bear any part of the cost, but they should be told that the prizes made upon the Spaniards might well satisfy their charges, as the English ships, licensed to take prizes had in the last year well answered for their whole charges with advantage (p. 366). In reply to a request of Herbert whether the States, in accordance with the treaty, had ready and would send to sea the ships promised for the aid of her Majesty, the States replied that they considered themselves bound to carry out faithfully every point of the treaty (p. 461).
Of miscellaneous items not included under the above headings attention may be drawn to the following : a mysterious reference by Leicester, in a letter to Burghley of "a certain resolution for a revenge" (p. 271), Parma's pleasant recollection of a visit to England with his mother, and the sports and pastimes with which he was entertained (p. 319) ; the arrest of a priest named Savell who was taking the relics, bones, dried flesh etc. of Catholics who had been executed as traitors, to Arundel, Paget and Westmorland, in France (p. 349) ; a reference to the superiority of Antwerp crystal glass (p. 379), and a paper of instructions to a secret agent mainly for finding out the chances of a rising in England against the government (pp. 491-3). There are two letters of Alessandro della Torre (pp. 301-2, 389), on his operations at Rome, and urging the queen to promote, through the Queen mother of France, the appointment of an archbishop there to look after her interests. A letter to him (pp. 320-1) passes by this suggestion, but bids him pursue the intrigue with Parma, that he should establish himself as sovereign in the Netherlands, (fn. 7) where the queen could far better endure him as neighbour than the king of Spain. In reply della Torre declared that he found the duke as well disposed as could be wished. Mr. Conyers Read suggests that della Torre may be identical with Thomas Barnes, who was implicated in the Babington conspiracy. (fn. 8) Among the domestic papers there is a letter of Barnes of 30 April 1588, offering his services. (fn. 9) The handwriting is quite different from that of the two letters calendared here. That is not of itself conclusive, as the 1588 letter is in a formal English script and may not be holograph ; but it is very unlikely that Barnes should offer his services in 1588 to atone for his fault in 1586, if he was already employed in 1587. It also seems fairly certain that della Torre, from his manner of writing, was not an Englishman.
The present volume, like its immediate predecessor has been printed mainly from transcripts made by Mrs. Lomas. These have all been revised with the originals, arranged and edited. A good many gaps have been filled notably in the month of September, and a certain amount of pruning has been done of documents which have already been printed or which seemed to be of minor importance. The volumes of the Holland and Flanders series are now being foliated, and it will be noticed that the references given are to folios and no longer to the order in the volume, as heretofore. ALLEN B. HINDS. London, February, 1929.