Elizabeth: March 1588, 16-20

Pages 199-212

Calendar of State Papers Foreign: Elizabeth, Volume 21, Part 4, January-June 1588. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1931.

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March 1588, 16–20

Mar. 16. Lord Willughby to the Privy Council.
Has within these two days received sundry letters from her Majesty and their lordships, with an Establishment for the forces. The directions given in them for the course to be taken in the musters, the disposing of the treasure now sent, reducing of the horsebands into foot etc., shall be carefully followed, and to the best of their powers performed.
But he begs them to consider that since Oct. 11, “there hath not been sent over for the whole army above 22,400l.,” and that the accounts are appointed to be finished on the 25 of this month. Prays them if possible to take some course for payment, “the report whereof would pull up invincible courage” in the soldiers, and in the meantime thanks them for the money now sent, which, though but little, “will give some small refreshing to men who before endured great extremities.”
Finds no relief for Colonel Snoy, having in vain essayed persuasions, propositions and protestations to cause their forces might be withdrawn, wherefore, unless he has authority to use force to set him free, he fears “the gentleman's case will grow most hard, which cannot but discourage many who yet continue fast in ‘devoting’ her Majesty's service.”—Dordrecht, 16 March, 1587.
Signed. Add. Endd. 1 p. [Holland XXII. f. 114.]
Mar. 16. Lord Willughby to Walsingham.
I have received two letters from you by your servant Charles, one of them concerning the course I am to follow to draw the provinces into union and to relieve Col. Snoy, which I had already performed, upon the letters brought by Colman. But I will labour therein again, though I despair of their being brought “to retire their forces without having Snoy and the town at their mercies, unless some order be sent me, that if persuasion prevail not, I may use force. I have written at large hereof to my Lord Steward by Capt. Buck, and doubt not of your best furtherance, in order to prevent their ruin.”
All other matters mentioned in those letters now received I have touched upon to my lords.
“I have so earnestly dealt with the magistrates and ministers of their town and of Rotterdam, declaring her Majesty's full intention to protect and defend them, as they seem most willing to embrace this her favour, and to repose themselves upon her safeguard”; promising to use all good means to reduce things to peaceable terms.
And as this town seems most conformable, I could wish her Majesty would “take knowledge by some letter” to them that their devotion is graciously accepted, and also that some extraordinary favour might be shown them in the custom houses etc. for the same end.—Dordrecht, 16 March, 1587.
Signed. Add. Endd. 1 p. [Ibid. f. 116.]
Mar. 16. J. Capelle to M. de Meetkirke, President of Flanders, at London.
M. de Gruenevelt arrived here yesterday to impart to Lord Willoughby the request of the burgers and garrison of Geertruydenberg, who have dispatched certain of their town to him, praying him to come at once to take possession of the government; they having turned out their captains and surintendant and desiring no longer to be under the commandment of the States or Count Maurice and Count Hohenloe, if they may be assured of the same pay as is given to the garrison of Huesden, which after several months in disorder has now obtained six months' pay of the States.
But as the Lord Willoughby has no power to take such action without her Majesty's knowledge and commandment, M. de Gruenevelt being much occupied has asked me to write on his behalf, praying you to weigh the importance of that town, both from its situation and its strength and provision of artillery and munitions of war, wherein it surpasses all other towns in Holland or Zeeland; being in all respects another Flushing, and also near to Dort, the loss or preservation of which depends in great part upon Geertruydenberg.
And further, if the inhabitants and soldiers there are not speedily aided by her Majesty, they will assuredly very shortly change their minds—finding themselves, for want of a head, like a ship at sea, without rudder and without pilot, and all these good patriots who desire to be under the obedience of her Majesty will lose or increase their courage according to the order she shall take in this matter.
I do not deny that the business is of such weight as to demand ripe deliberation, that her Majesty may not incur the blame of wishing to encroach upon her allies, but if our affairs are so desperate as to have need of cauterizing, and that her Majesty makes use of the most faithful of our nation, at the earnest prayer of the inhabitants and soldiers, who can traduce her conduct before men of judgment? And of others, there is no need to trouble to speak. Yet I do not say that one ought not to use the wisest and most prudent conduct possible, provided that one does not lose, by tedious deliberation, both time and opportunity.
And as to the expense her Majesty may have to incur, it is certain that the place is worth much more, both for strength and position, as well as the artillery, which is worth more than 80,000 florins. Her Majesty's ordinary pay may be eased by the “brandschat” and ordinary contributions which the country has to pay for the use of the town.
If these considerations are not enough, it would be well to represent to her Majesty the state of this country, of which she is not only confederate but protectress; and being thus embarked with our nation, so declared against the King of Spain that besides old grudges and pretences against her state and person by this proud Prince and ambitious Spanish nation she must sooner or later expect the effects of the great resentment of so powerful and vindictive an enemy.
Our state, I speak of the Hollanders, is now come to this, that in their spite and desire for revenge they are brooding over the means of making a separate peace with the enemy. I suspected this when I saw the beginning of ill-feeling between his Excellency and these Messieurs; but when Lord Buckhurst came over, Councillor Casenbroot told me that if the Hollanders wished to make peace with the King, they would do it alone, with honour to themselves; and now M. Grunevelt has been assured that the States of Holland are to meet on Monday next to resolve concerning a treaty between themselves and the Prince. Her Majesty should give heed to this, and believe that it may not be long before—by the practices of the traitors whom we nourish in our vitals and the passions roused against her Excellency—it will come to pass.
Her Majesty having partly succoured us from her zeal for the word and glory of God and the ancient alliance between us and her own subjects, it imports much to her person and state not to have the Spaniard absolute master of this country, without curbing his passions; which will be impossible if these Messieurs make a separate accord; for the moment the Prince of Parma has concluded this, he will dismiss her ambassadors and be free to make war against her, immediately he has us under his feet; for all his study is to find means, either underhand or by open force to separate us from her.
I have learnt to know the humours of these Hollanders, with great danger of my person and my ruin. If I might have approached his Excellency, I believe I might have broken the neck of many difficulties; but either my ill fortune or my enemies would not have it so. There were good means to make this sullen nation receive her Majesty's gentle yoke without feeling it, and so to arrange it that they would not have let it go without sorrow; but since the opportunities are lost, no remedy remains save so to arrange matters as that she does not incur manifest harm. The only remedy is (as she is mistress of Walcheren) to assure herself of Geertruydenberg, that by its means, with the assistance of Dordrecht, she may hold the mouth of the Meuse on the one hand and that of the Scheldt and Honte on the other. Likewise Maesland Sluys or Delfshaven, Viane in Duveland and Bommeneede in Schauwe, which being in her power, will so bridle the Hollanders that they will not be able to carry out their promises to the Duke of Parma.
Those well affected to her Majesty will then seize the government from them, and her Majesty will take away from the enemy all hope of laying down the law to either of them.
If she do not do this, and quickly, I fear she will repent of having rejected the faithful counsel of her humble servants. M. de Groenvelt very humbly prays you to lend a helping hand that this may be put before her and his Excellency, so that the countries of Gueldre, Utrecht and Overyssel do not become a prey to the enemy; and now more than ever by this new accident, if she do not obviate it by promptness and wisdom; and if God do not prevent the unhappy designs of those who govern this miserable Holland.
My captain, your son, has commanded me (on leaving him) to commend him humbly to you and to his mother, and prays for a reply to his last letter and to mine, concerning what we have several times mentioned to you, or at least to inform him whether it is likely that the peace will fail or no, as here is no occasion of our doing any good; recommending to you, on his behalf, the advancement of this design by all possible means; both for the good of the country in general and of himself in particular.—Dordrecht, 16 March, stilo veteri, 1588.
Postscript. The Hollanders still besiege Medenblik and pay little heed to Lord Willoughby's remonstrances. Huesden is reconciled (appoincte). The enemy has 6 to 7000 men near Bon. Colonel Schenck went to the Count Palatine and returned with 900 good soldiers so he has 2000 infantry there. Asks him to urge on his Excellency and Walsingham the need to act very quickly. Lord Willoughby is writing about it very seriously to her Majesty.
Signed. Add. Endd. 5 pp. French. [Holland XXII. f. 118.]
Mar. 17. Certain articles to be exhibited by Lord Willughby to Count Maurice on this date, old style, at the Hague.
Having considered what his Excellency has been pleased to say to him by word of mouth through M. de Villiers touching Col. Sonoy he has thought it well to submit in writing the following points.
That remembrance should be had of the long continued loyal services of the said Colonel.
How pleasing these have been both to the late Prince of Orange of happy memory and to his Excellency, the States General and individual persons in these countries.
How at the coming of the Earl of Leicester, he obtained from him, as Governor and Captain-General of the provinces, certain commissions, now declared to contravene the rights and privileges of Holland and West Friesland and the authority of his Excellency as governor thereof. (Does not wish to excuse him in this.)
But Sonoy finds great difficulty in laying down the said commissions, as being bound by his oath to the Earl of Leicester.
And the States General and States of Holland cannot be ignorant of what her Majesty has written touching the said Sonoy, as it sufficiently appears by her propositions to them.
Who, namely the States of Holland, have several times offered certain conditions to Sonoy, of which, as of all else that has passed with him and his men, they have informed her Majesty, who has sent orders to himself to insist—both to the said States and to his Excellency—on some good order being taken in regard to the said Sonoy, as also she has written to his Excellency.
And they [the States] have made reply to his proposition, that himself and his Excellency should draw up some offer to be made to Sonoy and his men with their consent, and as his Excellency wishes to know what he thinks of this;—he does not know any better way for beginning to settle the difference than by referring themselves to her Majesty's demand; praying that such regard may be taken to comply with it as shall, in this conjuncture, be found fitting.
And that the said difference may be the sooner ended, he prays his Excellency to let him know his opinion without delay, that (if the States decide to honour them by leaving all to their discretion) they may decide what to do, and afterwards go to Medenblick to effectuate what they have resolved, and what, on their arrival, they shall find most expedient. Desires to inform her Majesty of all as soon as possible, and hopes that these differences being settled, they may conjointly and without further loss of time, employ themselves in making some exploit against the enemy.
Endd. as the headline of this entry. Also (incorrectly) “An overture made unto the Lord Willoughby by the States.” French.pp. [Holland XXII. f. 121.]
Mar. 16. Another copy of the above.
Endd. (correctly). French. 2¼ pp. [Ibid. f. 123.]
Mar. 17. The Queen to Lord Willoughby.
Finds by his late letters that notwithstanding her remonstrances to the States of her mislike to their severe proceedings against Colonel Snoy he cannot procure the stay thereof; therefore, understanding that Sonoy's principal reason for refusing to conform to the States' request is in respect of his oath to the Earl of Leicester, of whose resignation neither he nor others there have received any certain knowledge (as Mr. Herbert, to whom it was sent, had departed before the receipt thereof) she desires that notice thereof may be given to the said Sonoy; and that he may be persuaded to yield to some conformity touching the two principal points wherewith he is charged, viz.: the reformation of his commission and the lessening of his garrison in Medenblick; so as he may be continued in his charge there, upon assurances received from herself that he will in the future be obedient to the States' orders. To which end, the States are to be required that some gentleman may be sent from his lordship to deal with him in the matter, that the dissension now reigning amongst them, greatly to the advantage of the enemy, may be the sooner compounded.
Having heard that the States have hitherto refused his lordship's request to be allowed to send such a person, she has caused Ortel to be dealt with, to require them to consent; but if they refuse, he is by some secret means to convey a letter to Sonoy to acquaint him with the Earl's resignation, advise him to compliance with the said points, and also to let him know how greatly she esteems his affection and devotion.
As to the offers made by the captains and garrisons of divers frontier towns to be at her devotion, he is to let them know how thankful she is to them, but that she thinks that to accept any such offer would greatly confirm the malicious bruits given out there that she seeks to draw the towns into her hands with intent to deliver them up to the enemy; and therefore advises them “to yield their former conformity unto the States and to accept such reasonable offers as shall by them be made for their pay; whereby the advantage that the enemy seeks to make by the discontents and mutinies … in those countries may be taken away.” Therefore he is to forbear to encourage them in any sort to depend on her, knowing how greatly she is otherwise burdened by the assistance now given them.
Copy. Endd.: with note of contents. 2 pp. [Holland XXII. f. 125.]
Another copy of the first part of the above letter.
Endd. 1 p. [Ibid. f. 127.]
Mar. 17. Sir William Russell to Walsingham.
Thanking him for his letter of the 2nd instant, and the furtherance of all his requests.
It is so long since the companies received any pay, and their debts are so great, that unless money is sent, he knows not how their creditors can be satisfied or how he may discharge his own debt to his honour.
What effect this action of peace will take he knows not but as far as he can learn, “our commissioners are driven to seek all occasions at the Prince's hands as should any way further the same, and that he offereth nothing that maketh show of his willingness thereunto; neither do the Estates go about to join with them, but proceed in their violent and indirect course, both against her Majesty and the town of Medenblicke, which … is in great extremity, and unless it be presently relieved, it will discourage all the well-affected and cause those towns to revolt that hath yielded to her Majesty; besides the dishonour that will ensue by permitting Colonel Sonoy to miscarry, who relies himself upon her Majesty's assistance.”
Understands by intercepted letters of the enemy “that as soon as their treaty shall cease, the Prince intendeth to do that unto this place and island he hath so long pretended,” wherefore he prays that victuals and other necessaries may be sent as he has desired.—Flushing, 17 March, 1587.
Signed. Add. Endd. 1 p. [Holland XXII. f. 129.]
Mar. 17. Sir William Russell to Burghley.
These people continue very well-affected to her Majesty albeit the States try to stir them up to disquietude and dislike of the action of peace; “not going about to join with the Commissioners; which causeth the Prince to be more backward in either offering or yielding unto anything that should further the same.”
[Concerning the States and Medenblick, as in previous letter.] Has, according to orders, disbursed most of the money amongst the captains and officers of Camphere, and bestowed the chains. The place rests still altogether at her Majesty's service.
Armewe is as steadfast, and although they have received no letters from her Majesty or the Council, he has so dealt with them, both by letters and speeches that the Captain and burgesses are well satisfied. The States make show of paying him and his company; but he desires “that there may be regard had of him” lest they should fail him.
[As to Parma's designs, as in previous letter.]—Flushing, 17 March, 1587.
Signed. Add. Endd. Seal of arms. 1 p. [Ibid. f. 131.]
Mar. 17. Memorandum of Russell's requests for pay, victuals etc., as contained in the above letters.
Endd. ¼ p. [Ibid. f. 133.]
Mar. 18. The Queen to Count Maurice.
Has received his letter, and also been made acquainted with another written to her Council, both tending to clear himself of blame for his rigorous proceedings against Colonel Sonoy, and praying that she would appoint certain persons of honour to examine the grounds of his proceedings.
Cannot think so ill of him as that this offer tends in any sort to abuse her (“being sorry that there should fall out any cause,” considering how dearly she loved his late father, to conceive otherwise than well of him), and to make trial thereof, has required Lord Willoughby, a person every way qualified as he desires, and Killigrew, her Counsellor there, to examine the cause of his manner of proceeding against Sonoy, and what he can allege for his own defence. In the mean time desires that all violence may be forborne against him, to the end that he or some-one instructed by him may repair to the place where the matter shall be heard, to answer to what is laid to his charge. And she herself will undertake “that whereas it is doubted that he should cut the dykes or make some other waste upon the country, that he shall forbear to do any manner of thing that may tend to the hurt or prejudice of the said country.”
Endd. Copy in English. 1 p. [Holland XXII. f. 134.]
Mar. 18. Draft for the same letter, much corrected.
Endd. French. 1 p. [Ibid. f. 136.]
Mar. 18. The Queen to the Commissioners.
In Dr. Dale's letter she notes two principal points which she mislikes: (1) the difficulty about beginning the treaty at Ostend; (2) the words of the duke and Richardot importing something to be attempted against her. The duke should be plainly and roundly dealt with on both points. He must be given to understand, seeing the choice of place was referred to the queen and no exception was taken to Ostend when it was first mentioned, she finds it strange that exception should now be taken and apparent delay is used in sending their commissioners, making difficulty to be ‘acknowen’ that any commissioners are yet appointed or that they have any commission. She cannot but let the duke understand that his manner of proceeding may give just cause to think that the intent of the treaty tended to some other purpose than was pretended, especially in regard of the great preparations made in Spain by sea, or else that by some accident happened, unknown to her this change is wrought. She sees no reason why there should be any difficulty, unless it be with intent to take occasion to forbear any further proceeding. If the duke persists they will tell him plainly that her pleasure is they shall presently withdraw.
As for the other point, belike they think to terrify her, “you are to let the duke know that we deal not so weakly or unprovidently in our government but that we have as well a care to defend ourselves from anything that may be attempted against us by the said king, as also that we are not unprovided of means if he shall not show himself as desirous of a peace grounded upon honourable and equal conditions as we have to annoy him.”
They are to conclude that although she received warnings from divers places that the overture to the treaty was only to gain time her belief in the sincerity of the king and duke and her desire to avoid condemnation by refusing so Christian a proposition made her shake off all suspicion, as the sequel showed, and if things fall out differently it will be apparent that it was not through her default.
If after this declaration the duke shall agree to the treaty beginning at Ostend, they may give place by degrees to have it proceed in some town of the king's possessions; but before they go he should be moved that the second meeting should be in some place on the confines that have hitherto belonged to Ostend, and if he yield to this some order may be taken for the use of certain tents. If they find the duke makes any great difficulty touching the meeting upon the confines her meaning is not to lose any time upon that point but they may repair to any of the three towns named in the last despatch sent from the Council. As the duke appears not to be so well able to treat in the French tongue she thinks it convenient that Dr. Rogers, who has the Italian tongue, should repair unto him to deal with him touching the points contained in these letters.
Draft, corrected. Endd. 17 March, 1587, M. of a letter to the Commissioners. 6⅓ pp. [Flanders II. f. 289.]
A fair copy of the same.
Endd. 18 March, with summary of contents. 3 pp. [Ibid. f. 293.]
Mar. 19. Sir William Russell to Walsingham.
Once again urging the sending over of pay for the soldiers; relief for Medenblick and Colonel Sonoy in their extremity, seeing that no persuasions from her Majesty avail to stay the violent action of Count Maurice and the States against them; some present order to Lord Willoughby for the town of Gertruydenberg, who have prof erred their services to her Majesty; and that his honour will be mindful of his other requests for the necessary wants of Flushing, as he sees no likelihood that the peace will take effect.—Flushing, 19 March, 1587.
Signed. Add. Endd. 1 p. [Holland XXII. f. 137.]
Mar. 19. Robert Cecil to Burghley. (fn. 1)
From Antwerp on Thursday last I came by ship down the river, which is blocked on both sides with sconces, after I had passed the place where the relics yet remain of the steccata, I was to pass close to the fort of Ordam, where after showing my passport I was suffered to pass. It is a very strong place for such a little town. It is so near Lillo that shots are often exchanged. There I passed the fleet of Count Maurice. The governor of the fort gave me quarters for the night. He is called Colonel Michael and is chief for the States of the fort of Liefkenshoeck. The next day Capt. Baskervile came and accompanied me to Berghen. There is not a more serviceable man in all the garrison, where there are many brave men as I saw in any garrison of the enemy's, which hath been above 7 or 8000, that lie in quarters between Bruges and Antwerp; besides the continual garrisons he hath above 30,000 men in those parts with those that he has sent towards Bonn. There is no day that be baketh not 50000 loaves, they are relieved every week with lendings, but now they are in hope of some pay, for the day I arrived at Antwerp there arrived a ton of gold, whereof there was great joy for the safe coming, which they greatly suspected. Money is as scant with them as in other places, and for their shipping upon the river or Antwerp, it will prove but a scarecrow. In all the river I saw not above 21, three of them of 300 tons and upwards, the Admiral about 400, the Gallyon is a great ship very well furnished with 50 brass pieces, little lower than the cannon. But it is a common opinion that she will never be able to brook the sea before she be new made. The rest are ordinary poor things. They report more lying at Dunkirk and Sluys which I know nothing of. When at my first coming over to Antwerp I asked if these were all the shipping they answered I should see more if I went down the river, but it proved otherwise.
Of the armado of Spain the talk is great. News being brought of Sta. Croce's death the duke said only this, Et bien, Dieu lui pardonne, for he hath been the stay of their coming onward, which I hope his successor now will not be so much to blame for that having crossed all our counsels; and this was all the thought he took for him.
I reached Berghen on Friday and stayed there all night. [Particulars of his entertainment.] They have some griefs against the treasurer. I advised them to impart it to my ld. of Leicester or to my ld. Willoughby, but I perceive they mean to make their suit to the whole Council. If any of the captains come over I beseech your lp. to bestow some thanks for their courtesy to me.
[Relates journey to Hague. Means to go back to Ostend via Brill and Flushing, so as not to be absent from the treaty.]
The towns of this country are much divided and like thereby to give advantage to the enemy. Dort hath newly confirmed their oath to her Majesty and at Rotterdam they promised my ld. Willoughby all conformity. Count Morrys is here and the States do assemble to answer certain propositions by my ld. propounded ….
At my being at Antwerp I advertised my ld. governor of Flushing of a fond bruit that something was to be done in Flushing by the enemy in firing the town in 3 or 4 places and burning the ships. I heard it of an Englishman, though I did not expect it would so prove, not that they want malice but that the time is yet improper. It is now confirmed from Amsterdam. My ld. Willoughby met to-day with Count Morrys in whom there is neither outward appearance of any noble mind nor inward virtue. In my life I never saw a worse behaviour, except it were one lately come from school. I saw to-day Leoninus, who goeth into Geldreland and Utrecht from whence, or ever any resolution can come, much time is like to be spent, so as the treaty is like longer to be protracted than the enemy will be willing to endure, or at the least as yet they protest, for either would they be at a point one way or another.
Sir Wm. Drury and I go to Brill to-morrow. At Antwerp news was brought to an Italian merchant of a great booty the garrison at Berghen had taken, as high as Brussels, of a boat that went from Antwerp that morning with 60,000 florins, besides prisoners a dozen. It struck them in a dump. They forthwith sent to lay the country for them in their return and made out certain horse and foot to meet them whereof I advised the garrison of Berghen which took good effect for word came this night that they were come home with all the spoil.—The Hague, 19 March.
Holograph, without cover. 4 pp. [Flanders II. f. 297.]
Mar. 20. Wyllughby, Kyllygrew and Wylsford to Burghley.
Upon the coming of the vice-treasurer, they have consulted together by what means the treasure sent might stretch furthest in relieving the soldiers. The enclosed note will show his lordship what has been done, and how long the money will serve; and will, they hope, move him to send a further supply before it is clean gone; lest “trusting too much to the courtesy of these towns,” the men may be drawn into great extremity.
Willoughby has received a letter from, the lords, “dated the second of February,” (fn. 2) desiring him not to alter or discharge Captain Sherley's company of horse, but to allow him four months' checks towards “repairing such of the said band as were lately lost and redeeming of the prisoners.” They like well of the gentleman, so far as his years and experience may lead them, but fear that the example will prove very chargeable to her Majesty “when other noble and experimented leaders (who have lost many horses and men in notable services) shall hereby be drawn to sue for the like favour; which, if refused, will make great discontentment, to see such bounty bestowed where the loss grew by negligence.” (fn. 3) He himself (her Majesty's Lieutenant) has “lost both horse and men in place of very good service.”
They pray his lordship to excuse their boldness, who (having said what they think) leave all to his better and wise regard.—The Hague, 20 March, 1587.
Signed by all three. Add. Endd. Seal of arms. 1 p. [Holland XXII. f. 139.]
“The State of the 10,000l. brought hither.”
“The Vice-Treasurer arrived at Dort on Thursday the 14th of March, 1587, and brought the sum of 10,000l. sterling … issued and to be issued as followeth.”
Sent to Ostend 1400l.
Imprests 760l.
Debts paid at Bergen 440l.
“ “ at Utrecht 332l.
Total: 2932l.
Remaining, to be issued for lendings 7068l.
To be weekly issued:—
To the garrison in Flushing 295l. 19s.
“ “ in Bergen 260l.
“ “ in Brill 40l.
“ “ in Utrecht 199l.
3 horse bands [Sir Jno. Buroghes, Sir R. Sydney, Capt. Bourcher, all lances] 90l.
Signed by all three. Endd. 3 pp. In tabulated form. [Holland, XXII. f. 141.]
Mar. 20. Sir William Drury to Burghley.
I give your lordship most humble thanks for your great favour, of which I hear by a letter from my wife.
I am sorry that her Majesty will grant me no greater favour than that 1000l. should be paid at midsummer, which prolonging of time I accept most thankfully at your hands, finding that it proceeds rather from you than from her Majesty, the which I will do my utmost to accomplish, hoping that your lordship will be a means to procure her Majesty's good opinion of me “that although my fault were grave to leave my office so, yet my satisfaction shall be such as I think few in such a case do use to do the like … If it were not that I find by my wife that she is contented to let her jewels, plate and all that she can make go towards the furnishing thereof, I could very hardly have done this without selling my land so under foot that I am sure that if your lordship knew, as I think you may well guess by the hardness of the time, that no man almost will give anything as land is worth, because they fear a hard world. I beseech God to bless her Majesty and my country from that danger. For myself, if I could end her dangers with my own life, I would think myself happy … desiring your lordship most humbly … to present such a poor unfortunate man's heart to her.” The hope of this will make me breathe in some contentment, for otherwise, nothing makes me wish the continuance of life.—The Brill, 20 March, 1587.
Postscript. Knows that his lordship is advertised of the state of these countries by the Lord General and others.
Signed. Add. Endd. Seal with device. 1 p. [Ibid. f. 145.]
Mar. 20. Remarks touching Ostend.
Very weak by reason of the breach made by the sea on the east and west sides.
The ditches grown dry.
The ‘vamures’ and parapets fallen and decayed.
The number of men not sufficient to guard it.
Dissension between the Governor and captains, and between captains and soldiers.
Great lack of the captains' presence.
No discipline nor punishment of malefactors.
No preaching nor public prayer.
It is therefore desired that the absent captains be sent back or others appointed.
And that Lord Willowbie or some other be sent to view the town and set good discipline among them; to hear complaints and punish offenders, now too much tolerated.
Also that some of her Majesty's small pinnaces may lie thereabouts to attend the commissioners.
Endd. by Lord Burghley's clerk. 1 p. [Holland XXII. f. 147.]
Mar. 20. “Extract out of Sir John Conway's letters” of this date.
[Concerning the treaty and the need of present relief for Ostend, as in his letter to Burghley below.]
“The enemy draw their forces and provisions daily towards Dunkirk and Sluys.
“Stanley is returned again with his companies to the place where he was before.
“Sithence the Duke will not yield to an abstinence of arms, it is no reason to restrain that garrison from actions of hostility.
“If they might go abroad, they should be able to do some special good services at this time.”
Endd. ¾ p. [Ibid. f. 153.]
Mar. 20. Pass from the Commmissioners for Sir James Crofte, sent to England with three servants, quoting the safe conduct granted by Parma on 25 January, 1588.—Ostend, 20 March, 1587.
Endd. Latin. 1 sheet. [Flanders II. f. 299.]
Mar. 20. De Loo to Burghley.
On the difficulty about Ostend. The duke remains steadfast as ever but regrets the delay as likely to upset his desire for a good agreement. When the commissioners meet the commissions will be shown on both sides, as it would not be proper, the prince said, to do it in another way, or speak before then of a cessation of arms. Once, as his Highness says, they get to the merits of the case and the queen sees that their deeds surpass their words, the commissioners will see to it that all proceeds duly. On the other hand they do not want delay and the king is determined not to lose any more time in recovering his own either by arms or by peace, and with the army increasing the prince fears the dangers of procrastination. If peace is not made soon the resulting mischief will surpass belief and the duke will be exonerated because of the good will he has shown and the pains he has taken. He will not be put off with words and let the season pass as he said he did last summer. It is therefore necessary to choose war or peace without delay, as there has been ample time, said the duke, to decide. If the queen does not value the honourable peace offered her by the duke of Parma, I pray God to have us in his holy keeping, and must give up the business, having utterly consumed my goods, life and wit in the constant labour. As a principal column of the country I ask you to leave nothing undone to forward the cause, my zeal saying secretly of its own accord, O Most Serene Queen, si nescio quid pretenditur, scio quod tua res agitur.—Bruges, 20 March, 1587, stilo antico.
Postscript. I have given the deputies the particulars of my negotiations, for which they asked. I shall be grateful if Martino della Faille is not forgotten.
On a half sheet. Would to God that Lord Buckhurst or at least Lord Herbert had come to complete this work as it is very difficult, the cause being resisted from more than one side. I expect his Highness will be here the day after to-morrow, and the commissioners also.
Holograph. Add. Endd. Italian. 2 pp. [Flanders II. f. 300.]
Mar. 20/30. De Loo to the Commissioners.
His Highness is expected at Bruges in a day or two. Asks their helping hand to further a good peace being content to rely upon the sincerity of the duke who esteems nothing so much as good fame and glory. The commissioners need not doubt the authority he has from the king of Spain, and whatever he accords will be maintained; not like a duke of Alva or some other signor of Spain. He has promised when the time comes to show his authority. [Concerning the need of a speedy decision as in letter to Burghley.]—Bruges, 30 March, stilo novo, 1588.
Postscript. M. de la Motte desires to salute their lordships to-morrow or next day, forth of the confines if he may have licence, saying that the duke so desireth it.
Holograph. Endd. Italian. 2 pp. [Ibid. f. 306.]
Translation of the above with sheet attached containing a polite excuse from the commissioners for being unable to meet M. de la Motte.
pp. andp. [Ibid. f. 303.]


  • 1. The bulk of this letter printed; Algernon Cecil: Life of Robert Cecil pp. 34–6.
  • 2. Mistake for Feb. 25. See Acts of the Privy Council under that date.
  • 3. i.e. the defeat of the troop (then Sir Thos. Sherley's, but now under his brother, Captain Anthony Sherley) before Zwolle, on the night of Feb. 4, o.s.