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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The present instalment of the Calendar is the third and last instalment of the Holland and Flanders papers, bringing that series into line with the general series, which forms the first part of Volume XXI. This final section deals with the first six months of the year 1588. It was a time of crisis big with great events and the volume is swollen to more than ordinary dimensions. This is largely due to the negotiations carried on between the queen's commissioners with those of the king of Spain for a peace which the Spaniards had no honest intention of discussing seriously. But though these negotiations form a large part of the material here printed they are far from being the whole, as the disturbed conditions of the revolted provinces led to an exceptionally large correspondence on internal affairs. These six months have attracted the minute attention of historians, notably of Motley, who consulted quantities of state papers on the subject, including those printed here. The American historian expresses very decided views, by no means complimentary to the English government and its representatives in the Netherlands, but having to consult the papers in manuscript he laboured under obvious disadvantages, and a survey of all the material gathered here suggests that his views may require considerable modification on various points.
The policy of the States General had so far succeeded as to drive Leicester back to England, completely baffled, and the limited commission given to Willoughby, to command the army and not to interfere in matters of government, pointed to an acceptance on the queen's part of their claims to sovereignty. In such case direct English influence in the government of the Netherlands would have been confined to the representation on the Council of State.
Unfortunately no attempt was made to define the position and no definite course of policy was mapped out. The States General had won their victory, but they had no satisfactory alternative ready to substitute for the form of rule which they had rendered impossible. As an executive they were exceedingly weak, and the domination of Holland in their counsels, which was becoming more and more pronounced, did not by any means meet with general acceptance from the other provinces of the union.
The English officials feeling their position in the country shaken, wished to strengthen their hold by gaining the control of more towns, and this the Hollanders resented as an attempt to deprive them of their liberties, forgetting that they had voluntarily offered the queen the government of the whole country. The result was suspicion and mistrust on both sides, the Dutch declaring that the English wanted the towns in order to hand them over to the Spaniards, while the English suspected the Hollanders of the intention to make a separate peace on their own account.
At the beginning of the year the States General were assembled at the Hague, Counts Maurice and Hohenlohe also being present. The Hollanders were in the ascendant, led by Buys and Barnevelt (p. 105), and inspired by strong anti English sentiments. The young Count Maurice, put forward as governor by Holland, was at this time completely under the influence of Count Hohenlohe (p. 54), who had intrigued actively against Leicester during the interval between his two governments. Feeling was so strong that Buys is reported to have said that Maurice would shortly make war on the English. The recovery of Flushing, which they held in pledge would be a great step toward getting rid of them altogether. A plan to take the place by surprise seems to have been in contemplation. Hohenlohe with the fleet was lying handy to the town and had a large force at Middelburgh near by. He had replaced his Dutch troops by Scots, who did nothing but rail against the queen and the English (p. 1). Finding that his enterprise was discovered and that Russel, the governor of Flushing was on the alert, he disappeared from the scene (p. 12), and almost simultaneously wrote a letter to the queen protesting his loyalty and duty and deploring the false charges laid against him (p. 11).
Although the danger of a coup de main was thus averted Killigrew still feared that some attempt might be made against the cautionary towns, which were not well provided and which the Dutch, being masters by sea and land, could cut off from all succour (p. 71). Being warned of the danger, Russel found that soldiers and sailors were entering secretly into the garrison, and he had them put out (p. 65). His suspicions were further sharpened by the behaviour of the States. To defend the island of Walcheren against an expected attack by Parma, he sent for his own troop of horse to be quartered there. To this the States objected, declaring that they were not required. In deference to their objection Russel sent his horse away, but he obtained a promise from the States that if any horse were stationed in the island they should be his. Almost immediately after, in defiance of this undertaking, troops of horse belonging to Count Maurice and Captain Villiers were brought to the island and billeted at Middelburgh and Arnemuiden. Simultaneously Maurice and Hohenlohe introduced companies of foot, who robbed and spoiled the peasants about Middelburg, who came to Russel appealing for protection (pp. 62, 65).
At a later date and under altered circumstances Maurice indignantly denied that he had ever entertained any designs against Flushing. The value of this disclaimer is considerably discounted by a charge which he makes in the same letter against the defenders of Sluys, whom he accuses of having surrendered precipitately, without awaiting an assault (p. 308). No one knew better than Maurice the baselessness of such a charge, for he had been with the fleet which sailed away and left Sluys to its fate. This mean attempt to cast a slur upon brave men goes far to explain why Robert Cecil considered him a boorish lout (p. 208).
Whatever the truth about these designs upon Flushing there can be no doubt that the States, always led by the Hollanders, determined to insist upon the general recognition of their sovereign power, and to put down with a strong hand those who looked rather to the queen whose help had been called in for their defence. Places garrisoned by the English or held by those who were in sympathy with them were to be recovered for the States. An attempt to surprise Naarden failed, but going there somewhat later Willoughby found that the minds of the burgomasters were much alienated from the English through the practises of Paul Buys (p. 108). The place remained a bone of contention until Willoughby succeeded in arriving at a settlement some months later.
In the end the States concentrated their energies against Dietrich Sonoy, governor of North Holland. Just before leaving for England Leicester had visited him at Medemblik. He had found him devoted to the queen's service and recommended Medemblik as a strong place, suitable for the queen to hold. There is no evidence that the queen ever intended to follow this advice, but the knowledge that it had been given may well have served to give direction to the States' action.
The pretext for attack was Sonoy's refusal to take a fresh oath, having already given one to the queen and Leicester. Summoned to appear before the States, he failed to do so, and thereupon they decided to proceed against him as a rebel and a traitor. Pay was withheld from his troops in the hope that they would mutiny against him (p. 30). The soldiers did indeed get out of hand, but their anger was directed, not against their commander, but against the States, whose messenger they sent back with a demand for their pay, otherwise they would pay themselves from the contributions of North Holland, and with a defiance to Hohenlohe, who had threatened to come and besiege them (p. 56). Thereupon the States decided to proceed against Sonoy by armed force. This decision was due to the Hollanders, who feared to leave him as master in a place which might bridle them (p. 63). Their action was taken without consulting the Council of State as was requisite for such an occasion, and in the face of a remonstrance which they presented against it, ignoring also a letter from the queen, calling upon them to desist and threatening to abandon them if they did not do so.
The execution was not entrusted to Hohenlohe, who subsequently asserted that the move was made against his advice (p. 142), but was given to Maurice, at that time entirely under Hohenlohe's influence. The young Count proceeded into North Holland, where he assumed the name of governor general and took the oath of the officials and soldiers in every town, dismissing all the dependents of Leicester (p. 102). On 18 February he sat down before Medemblik and the place was closely blockaded by sea and land.
In his extremity Sonoy sent his agent Mostaert to England to appeal to the queen for help. His cause had the sympathy of the English and all who wished them well in the Netherlands, for it was evident that his fate would serve as an example for all the friends of England, and if he succumbed, all who refused to submit to the States might look to be served in the same way.
At the beginning of March the queen wrote to Willoughby directing him to make a strong remonstrance to the States, and also to make appeal behind their backs, to the towns and provinces against such outrageous proceedings (p. 166). The States paid scant attention to the general, and merely tried to put him off, to gain time to work their will against Medemblik (p. 173). At this stage the States of Holland were in session and had practically taken charge of the affair. On 4 March Willoughby had a conference with deputies from this body, of which he has left a brief memorandum (p. 176). It consists chiefly of a wrangle over the interference of each party with Naarden and Medemblik, respectively. The deputies insisted that the States were sovereign and had the right to do as they pleased. Willoughby spoke of the respect due to the queen and of the slight which had been put upon her. The deputies declared that if matters stood as Willoughby represented, then they must look to themselves, an echo of the fara da se policy said to be favoured by Barnevelt. (fn. 1) Willoughby ended with an intimation that he might be compelled to use force of arms to protect those whom the queen had specially recommended. He was indeed urgent with his government to permit him to use force to raise the siege, believing that he could do it quickly and easily (p. 176). If he had been permitted he was confident that he could have prevented all Maurice's operations in North Holland (p. 157).
If it had been thought desirable effective succour could have been supplied to Sonoy from the sea. Lord Admiral Howard was at sea with the fleet at this time and he actually presented a letter to Maurice, asking that the siege should be raised (p. 170). On his appearance Maurice withdrew his ships to Lillo, but returned to Medemblik as soon as he had gone. (fn. 2) Efforts at a peaceful solution seemed doomed to failure, and a conference at the Hague on 10 March, between Willoughby and Maurice proved fruitless, as the Count showed his determination to proceed to the utmost extremity against Sonoy (p. 199).
The situation appeared most menacing, threatening not only civil war in the Netherlands, which was actually involved in this struggle, but a complete breach between the allies. The queen had good reason to stand firm, as if the terms of the treaty were altered by the withdrawal of Leicester, she had every reason to claim that she should be consulted upon any modification that might be involved. The precipitate action of the Hollanders imposed upon her the choice of accepting virtually a new treaty on their terms, and abandoning her friends to their mercy, or of tearing up the alliance altogether.
The general situation was exceedingly critical. Philip's great Armada was gathered in port and expected to sail soon. In France the king was helpless and the League seemed triumphant, the Prince of Condé had just died of poison and it was doubtful if Henry of Navarre would remain faithful to Protestantism. The queen's commissioners had only just crossed to Ostend, to try and arrange a peace, and if they were to obtain favourable terms it was essential that the allies should present a united front, and the queen was very anxious that the Dutch should take part in the negotiations (p. 188).
Under all the circumstances the queen decided that it was necessary to conciliate the States, and directions were sent to her ministers that they were to be put in comfort and persuaded that she did not conceive so hard an opinion of them as was given out, to the end that they might be kept from those desperate courses that they were headlong fallen into (p. 233). Willoughby and Killigrew were accordingly instructed to use their best endeavours to remove dissensions and bring about concord (p. 189).
Under the guise of mediation this was practically a surrender to the States, involving the sacrifice of those who had looked to the queen to support them in their resistance to their claims. Willoughby was told to forbear to encourage the captains and garrisons of frontier towns to be at her devotion, and to advise them to submit to the States. Similarly Sonoy was advised to submit to the reduction of his garrison and to take oath to the States, receiving notice for the first time of Leicester's resignation of the government, which released him of his oath to the earl.
It is curious that the publication of this resignation should have been withheld until this moment of a radical change of policy, and the coincidence might seem significant, but so far as these papers show, the delay was due to a series of accidents and general dilatoriness and was not a deliberate act of policy. The resignation had been drawn up on 20 December at the time of Leicester's departure. It was delivered to Herbert at Flushing on 22 January, but being then on his way to England, he took it with him. On 23 February it was sent to Killigrew by the Privy Council, to be delivered to the States General (p. 125), but this was not done until 22 March. Killigrew says that he received the document at Dordrecht on 14 March, from Gilpin, and delivered it as soon as he reached the Hague (p. 300). He could not say who was responsible for the delay. The queen blamed Walsingham for neglect of duty in the matter (p. 232). She was quite capable of doing this unjustly, if it suited her purpose, but the general impression from a bare recital of the known facts is that no one thought there was any urgency.
By general consent the announcement of Leicester's resignation contributed enormously to clear the air. The States promptly published it abroad, seizing their advantage by adding that it was against the queen's will that any schisms should be made in her name (p. 247). The Holland party had scored a striking success, but they had at least as much interest as the queen in desiring a settlement. Their headlong proceedings were far from meeting with the approval of the rest of the provinces. The deputies of Zeeland had made strong representations to those of Holland to moderate the affair of Medemblik out of deference for the queen (p. 222). Most of the deputies of the other provinces had gone away from the States' Assembly and returned home, so that by the end of February only those of Holland and Friesland were left (p. 136).
But something that touched them much nearer home must have inclined them to listen to reason. Owing to the financial strain, their garrisons had been left unpaid, and serious mutinies broke out among them in consequence. These were at their worst at Heusden, Geertruidenberg and Worcum, among the troops of Counts Maurice, Hohenlohe and Philip of Nassau, the men on whom the States most relied for defence (p. 70). These towns were also among those particularly addicted to Hohenlohe, (fn. 3) and Geertruidenberg had been his headquarters, (fn. 4) Moreover, unlike Sonoy, whose chief offence was excessive loyalty to an ally, these mutineers were in open negotiation with the enemy and ready to hand over the towns to him if their demands were not met. This would open a way into the very heart of Holland and it might well cause the Hollanders to reflect that possibly they could not look for salvation to their own right arm alone.
The one gleam in the darkness was that this outbreak utterly discredited Hohenlohe with the States and destroyed his influence over Maurice. Such desertion by his own men utterly amazed the Count (p. 164), who tried in vain to appease the trouble. The troops would have none of him, and he could not venture to come too near to them. The States were completely disenchanted about him. They had found him unlucky in his ventures, an expensive luxury and unable to keep secrets (p. 327). Eventually he was employed on a mission to the king of Denmark and the Protestant Princes of Germany, to cooperate with ambassadors sent by the States (p. 484). He went away, his pockets well lined with the gulden which the States had found it so difficult to provide for their own troops or their English allies (pp. 519, 523). There had previously been some talk of his coming to England (p. 346), and he had been profuse in professions of devotion to the queen and her interests, but before he left he had high words with Willoughby (p. 398), whom he had previously avoided at the Hague (p. 199).
With the publication of the queen's letters making concessions about Sonoy the States General became much more calm and fair weather was now made to Willoughby by the young Count (p. 228). What had so recently been considered out of the question became an accomplished fact and on 2 April the two arrived at an agreement with regard to Sonoy and Medemblik (p. 247). On 13 April Willoughby proceeded to Medemblik where he was joined six days later by Maurice. Between them the details of a settlement were worked out to the general satisfaction (p. 309). Sonoy was reported to be perfectly content and he wrote to the queen to express his gratitude for her intervention (p. 367).
The States had every reason to feel gratified, as though they could not punish Sonoy for his alleged treason, as they had intended, they had carried the main point and reduced him to submission. So far as Medemblik was concerned he was practically at their mercy. Before a month had passed Russel reported that Sonoy was being very hardly dealt with and greatly injured by the papists at Medemblik (p. 408), and that he was reduced to a very miserable state (p. 437). Not long afterwards Deventer wrote that hardly a single point of what had been promised to Sonoy had been kept and that he was in a state of the greatest anxiety (p. 444). At the end of June Sonoy arrived at the Hague to lay his case before the Council of State, having obtained a promise from the Hollanders that they would perform the agreement with him, either to give him the commission he desired, or an honourable discharge (p. 519):
Although this settlement removed one of the chief dangers to the state the mutineers still remained to be dealt with. By the end of April all of these had been pacified except those of Geertruidenberg. There the men continued to insist on their demands as uncompromisingly as ever. To add a further complication they sent to Willoughby asking him to come and take possession in the queen's name, as they no longer wished to be under the command of the States or the Council (p. 200). But the position was now altered. Willoughby had his instructions to exert himself for the compounding of differences; the States also had changed their tune and become very obsequious to the queen (p. 326). The States, Count Maurice and the burghers of Geertruidenberg all joined to solicit Willoughby to take this matter in hand and arrange a settlement, for he had credit with them all, though some on his own side thought that he had become too complaisant to the States (p. 425); the mutinous soldiers, for their part, refused to deal with anyone but him (p. 350).
From the States Willoughby obtained a promise to abide by what he should arrange, with certain reservations, and armed with these powers he proceeded to the town. He chanced to arrive very opportunely to help save the place from being delivered by treason to the enemy and for the punishment of the traitors. He was very well received, but could do no more than induce the soldiers to wait a month for the satisfaction of their demands, holding the town for the queen in the mean time (p. 357).
Willoughby himself favoured the queen taking over the place definitely, to which the States would readily have consented (p. 358). But the queen had no intention of accepting the offer, if only on account of the cost, and Willoughby seems later to have revised his opinion on finding that the affection of the mutineers for his sovereign was grounded on nothing better than the hope of her good payments, and that without the money there was little sign of love or other respect (p. 395). The queen for her part would undertake no more than to see that the States observed their promise of a full pardon and their pay for the troops (p. 410). Finally the States were prevailed upon to agree to the demands made, though at the same time the States of Holland passed a resolution that in consequence of their having to find so great a sum they declined to be held responsible if there should be any default in furnishing the ships of war promised to the queen (p. 493).
On 19 June the garrison agreed to accept 20 months' pay in satisfaction of their demands, and this the States and Count Maurice promised should be performed. At the same time the men remained quite determined not to hearken to Count Maurice or to deal with the States (p. 500). With equal impartiality they refused to hear of Sir Martin Schenck, whom the queen had put forward as a suitable person to be their governor (p. 417), declaring that they would have no other governor than an Englishman (p. 518). Willoughby had his own candidate for the place in his kinsman, Sir John Wingfield, whose claims he advanced, much to Schenck's disgust (p. 493). He declared that he would never be able to persuade the garrison to accept Schenck, whom they considered to be more bloody, cruel and near than Hohenlohe himself, protesting that they would rather have a Spaniard (p. 501). Willoughby succeeded in getting his own way in this matter, a success that proved unfortunate both for his own reputation and that of his country.
Two other towns of importance to the English continued for long to resist the claims of the States to sovereignty. These were Ter Veere, called Camphire by the English, and Arnemuiden. Both are in the island of Walcheren and within easy distance of Flushing. Before leaving for England Leicester had gone to Camphire and taken an oath from the captains there to be loyal to the queen and himself. Fortified by this and encouraged by Russel the town refused to receive the troops of horse and foot sent thither by the States (pp. 62, 65), or to perform any decree from the States which had not her Majesty's approval.
Russel, who strongly suspected the Dutch of meditating a coup de main in order to recover possession of Flushing, urged strongly and repeatedly that the queen should take the town into her governance and the captains and garrison into her pay. This was necessary in order to make the whole island safe; otherwise they would be in hazard of their lives and of the loss of the town (pp. 62, 95). A course involving so much expense was not likely to be received with any enthusiasm at Court, but the queen wrote that 600l. would be sent for distribution among the captains and a chain worth 50l. for each of them. For the rest she would have representations made to the States to continue the captains and garrison in their pay. If they would not do this and the town should be brought to any danger she promised not to abandon them (p. 89). On the other hand Russel received strict injunctions so to carry himself with the men of Camphire that no occasion should be given to the slander that she meant to take that town or any other for her own use (p. 90).
These signs of favour however encouraged Camphire to expel two of the chief men of the town whose devotion to the queen was suspect while Arnemuiden joined forces with the sister town by expelling the horse of the States who had been quartered there, sending to Russel to make their submission and asking to be taken into the queen's pay (p. 141).
To the States of Zeeland, who objected to these proceedings, the queen protested that she could do no less, seeing the severe proceedings taken against those who were well affected to her, and the mutiny among the soldiers for lack of pay, and seeing how near they were to her cautionary towns; but she assured them that she had no intention to draw them from the service of the States. In such case she would have taken them into her pay and introduced some garrison of her own, which was far from her purpose (p. 187).
The queen's policy of inducing the States to pay garrisons that defied their authority, while she had no intention, as explained to the States of Zeeland, of paying them herself, was not likely to lead to fruitful results. Before long Russel was complaining bitterly of the way these men were being neglected and saying that they were justified in their surmise that they would get nothing out of England (p. 221). Alarmed by the attack made upon Sonoy the captains sent an emissary to England to ask the queen for her protection, promising that for nothing in the world would they submit to the States (p. 268).
But it soon became clear that the queen would do nothing for them, and Russel was left to regret that they had been led by the encouragement held out to commit themselves so far. He asked that the States and Count Maurice should be approached to allow them to remain in garrison (p. 290). All the captains obtained from the queen was a letter promising them protection and exhorting them to continue in their virtuous course (p. 342). At the same time they were told to consider that she could not be expected to undertake further charges and so they were asked to rest content with what she would do to procure payment and good usage for them at the States' hands (p. 332). In little more than a month after this Willoughby received instructions to advise them to take the oath and submit to the States, offering to procure a promise from Count Maurice and the States for their good treatment in the future and that they should not be called in question for the past (p. 412).
The sacrifice thus made was deeply regretted by Russel. The evil affected of Holland might easily have been bridled, he wrote, if the queen had been pleased to take the two towns into her protection, but now Flushing was left without a friend in the island (p. 438). Killigrew, on the other hand was of opinion that Camphire and Arnemuiden would never consent to receive an English garrison that might overpower them (p. 345), and that if the queen's efforts to procure a peace proved successful, they would be among the first to revolt from their devotion (p. 393).
The consequences to Camphire of this settlement proved as unfortunate as those which ensued after the affair of Medemblik, for those who followed the queen. The captains having treated with the deputies of Zeeland as the queen desired, their troops mutinied because the arrangements had been made without their being consulted. Fearing that they had been betrayed and that they would be exposed to the vengeance of the States, they gathered at the gates to molest the Zeeland deputies, as they were leaving. The captains, unable to control their men escaped to the bakehouse of the town, a very strong place, and shut themselves in (p. 480). After this outburst the majority of the soldiers discharged themselves and scattered in all directions, scarce any being left with their officers. The captains were removed by the States to other towns, Count Maurice giving them some help towards replenishing their bands (pp. 510, 518).
Of the places at the queen's devotion outside the cautionary towns, Utrecht was almost the only survivor. Deventer continued to rule there as burgomaster, in considerable trepidation as to what his fate might eventually be. The Hollanders had claims to the town and tried every means, by hook or by crook to get it assured to them (p. 71). Its defence against enemies both without and within was a constant preoccupation to Willoughby. He declared that he could not withdraw the English troops stationed there without hazarding the loss of everything on that side, and those under the queen's protection there would be kept in great fear (p. 266).
Upon the question of the differences between the States of Holland and Utrecht, the queen claimed, by the treaty, the right to arbitrate, if they could not agree among themselves (p. 153), and she warned the Hollanders to desist from their persecutions. After she had announced the adoption of a policy of reconciliation and agreement, Deventer was found to be making difficulties (p. 317). He declared that it was impossible for them to enter into an agreement with the Hollanders, as they did not wish to be tyrannised over (p. 444), and he complained that Willoughby had been turned against him by the States. Gilpin suggested that an admonition should be sent to Utrecht from the queen and Leicester to agree with the other provinces to maintain the treaty (p. 362). It was plain that Utrecht would not long survive the fate of the other friendly places.
This abandonment of their friends among the Dutch was deeply felt by the queen's representatives in the Netherlands. Russel wrote to describe how sorrowfully those who had relied upon her Majesty's service did like her rejection of them into the States' hands (p. 328). He averred that her action would cause all the well affected to fall from her and to grow in hatred with the nation (p. 424); they would have had nothing to fear if they had not shown themselves well affected to her and to the English (p. 437).
This hard course had been forced on the queen against her will by circumstances and the dour policy of the States. Although many of the best judgment had urged her to take over Geertruidenberg as well as Camphire and Arnemuiden, she would not face the necessary increase of charges which such a course would have involved (p. 413). The imperative need to present a united front to the enemy both for war and for the peace proposals forced her to give way if the States would not. She found, as Leicester had before her, that it was useless to attempt to govern in face of the resistance of the States. It was unfortunate that she had not realised this sooner, instead of encouraging Sonoy and the others to resist, only to abandon them in the end.
Elizabeth found it very difficult to abide whole heartedly by one policy or the other. Even after the surrender she continued to write, scolding the States for treating her friends as enemies, and to hold out vague hopes of protection to those who had committed themselves by taking her side. This doubtful course stirred her representatives to remonstrance. In a singularly outspoken letter to the Privy Council Willoughby, Russel and other leading Englishmen in the Netherlands represent that it is useless to adopt an underhand course with a people so subtle; and if the queen wished to avoid consuming her forces and her treasure the only means which seemed convenient was to continue Count Maurice in her favour, which could best be done by bearing him up with hope of his honour and profit, without her Majesty's charge (pp. 400, 401).
While these disputes were in progress the government of the country was reduced to a sorry condition. The policy of the States had driven out Leicester, but although the crying need was for some one with authority to command, they had no one to put in his place who would find general acceptance. The people could see no one with sufficient authority to govern so distracted a state (p. 28). The States seemed in no hurry to tackle this question of the government and let weeks pass before they even began to discuss it (p. 11). They did not intend to leave any loophole for English interference, and even made difficulties about allowing Willoughby's limited commission, only accepting it provisionally for two months, after some hesitation. In spite of their professions he doubted their sincerity towards her Majesty, and understood that they meant to draw the state into provincial governments (p. 9). It is not clear what precisely he meant by this; but it is probable that he had in mind a loose confederation of independent states.
In the absence of a really authoritative governor Count Maurice was the most likely candidate for the position, for which he had already been put forward by the Province of Holland, who wished the other provinces to accept him likewise. To add to his greatness, it was proposed to marry him to a Danish princess (p. 14). But the young Count seemed to care for little but his amusements, seldom appeared in Council and usually referred matters of business to the States General, the States of Holland or to his lieutenant Hohenlohe (p. 58).
The existing Council of State was nearing the time of its dissolution. It enjoyed practically no authority and its members were all weary of the place, seeing all things going to ruin (p. 69). Towards the end of January the States General asked them to continue in office for another twenty or thirty days. This the members at first declined to do, seeing that they were used rather as ciphers than otherwise (p. 27). The States continued to press the point, and in spite of the great reluctance of its members the old Council was carried on for a while longer, rather as a show than for any service, since it was not consulted about such important matters as the action against Sonoy or the mutinies in the towns (p. 91). It finally dissolved at the end of February, most of the members having already gone home, their year of office having expired, and because they would not serve any longer in view of the dangers which they foresaw (p. 136).
In the general confusion the province of Holland seemed disposed to act independently and to let the rest shift for themselves. They even proposed to set up a separate Council to advise Maurice. Count Maurice and Count William were to have the government of Holland, Zeeland and Friesland while the other provinces might do as they pleased (p. 70). The state of war devised by them to reduce expenditure was considered entirely inadequate for the defence of the outlying provinces of Gelderland, Utrecht and Overyssel (p. 57), whose deputies, in their general dissatisfaction with the proceedings of the States, were beginning to drift homewards, protesting that whatever was done in their absence would be considered void (p. 73). Before the end of February only the deputies of Friesland remained with those of Holland (p. 136).
As a Council of State was necessary for the proper execution of the treaty between the Provinces and England, Killigrew had begun to urge the formation of a new Council as soon as the old one dissolved, and the necessity was represented from time to time. The States General showed no disposition to deal with the question, and later they excused their inaction by pleading that the delay in settling the government was due to the uncertainty about Leicester's position. But even after Leicester's resignation had been made known a considerable time elapsed before the new Council was constituted. This was chiefly due to divisions of opinion among the provinces. There was much quarrelling among them about the acceptance of Leicester's resignation (p. 327). The action of the Hollanders was resented. The provinces of Gelderland, Utrecht and Overyssel wanted Leicester back and the resumption of the former state of affairs, because otherwise they saw no hope of holding out against the enemy (p. 300). Consequently they made difficulties about sending members to the Council.
On the queen's side efforts were made to bring the provinces together and even in March Le Sieur, in Willoughby's name, had urged the three refractory provinces to cooperate with the rest (p. 217). Later on Willoughby personally exerted himself to induce Friesland and Utrecht to send their deputies to form the Council (p. 335), but at the end of May the counsellors of Friesland, Utrecht and Overyssel had not put in their appearance (p. 415). Friesland was engaged in domestic quarrels, in Utrecht they were waiting for the settlement of their dispute with Holland, and dislike of the instructions issued by the States made those of Overyssel hesitate, the same reason acting as an additional deterrent on the others (p. 405).
In spite of all these differences and objections the States, under the influence of the Hollanders, relentlessly pursued their policy of reducing English influence to a minimum. Deventer complained that in the new etat de guerre captains friendly to the English had been left without commands and outside the cautionary towns scarcely any places were left for English garrisons (p. 443). In the instructions drawn up for the new Council of State Willoughby pointed out that the powers conferred originally upon the English general had been entirely eliminated. He was reduced to the position of a mere servant, to carry out their orders, and their alterations amounted to the annulment of several articles of the treaty (p. 538). With all these obstacles the Council nevertheless assembled at the end of June and was meeting daily, but it enjoyed little authority and less respect, not being provided with funds to make any payments and still less to perform any piece of service (p. 519).
Among the numerous difficulties under which the provinces laboured the disorder of their finances was by no means the least. In January Killigrew wrote "their need and poverty is extreme, and all they can scratch together is not enough to content their own" (p. 23). Being unable to pay what they knew to be due to the queen, they raised quibbles and tried to gain time by having the books sent to England for examination (p. 10). This lack of money led them to put off all payments, as they could not venture to raise an extraordinary tax from an already overburdened people (p. 30). To find the money to satisfy the mutinous soldiers the States were obliged to mortgage their common means to the towns, and one of their leading men declared that if peace were made at that moment they would hardly be out of debt in seven or eight years, continually travailing the country with contributions (p. 56). To raise the money required to pay the garrison of Geertruidenberg deputies were sent by the States and Maurice to all the towns to beg for a special contribution as an extraordinary payment (p. 518).
In describing the condition of the country, which made him despair of a satisfactory conclusion about Geertruidenberg, Willoughby told Burghley that it was suffering from two evils: want, which was greater than it seemed; and careless delaying, which was apparent in all their doing, but especially in money matters (p. 462). For the very necessary reform of their finances the States were active in May, examining what revenue they might look for and how far it would extend, and to make their charges equal so that those in their service might be better paid in the future, and the country run no more into debt and arrears (p. 404). It was found that charges exceeded the contributions of 20,000l. a month by 3000l. Gelderland, Utrecht and Overyssel contributed little or nothing to the common fund; Friesland and Zeeland employed their contributions for their own province, and Holland was greatly disposed to do the same (p. 517).
With so strong a disposition in the provinces to fall apart and consider only their own selfish interests, the need of a strong governor to overrule this particularism and draw all to a strong union was sorely felt. One who was a native of the provinces would serve best, and Killigrew wrote to Walsingham that he believed all would in the end yeild to Maurice (p. 345). The young prince had yet to win his spurs, but at the end of this period Gilpin reports him at the Hague and in great credit (p. 519).
The English governor had been driven away and his countrymen and their friends treated with suspicion and worse; but the Dutch knew in their hearts how much they depended on England. The storm cloud in the West was viewed with apprehension and when the tremendous blow aimed at the island kingdom was seen to be imminent a public fast was proclaimed in all the provinces to entreat the Divine favour, for they realised that if the queen should quail they were all undone (p. 532).
The peace negotiations which terminated at Bourburgh, by which name they are generally known, occupy a large proportion of the space of this volume and they have been described at great length by Motley, chiefly from the material printed here. It would thus appear unnecessary to do more than pass lightly over them in a preface which is primarily intended to draw attention to new material. But Motley is mainly if not exclusively concerned to point out the futility of the whole proceedings and to pour ridicule upon the English commissioners. That is a view which in the light of the fuller record here seems to do them something less than justice.
The English commissioners were five in number. The leader, Henry earl of Derby, a great nobleman, stately and somewhat formal, if he may be judged by his beautiful handwriting. He did not take a very active part in the negotiations, but he was more than a mere figurehead, and served to hold the scales even between his colleagues. He was seriously ill of the stone and ague at the beginning of the negotiations, but he attended the meetings even at the risk of his life and was specially thanked by the queen for his devotion to duty (p. 296). The Spaniards recognised his sincerity and ability and they also had a taste of his patriotism, for when a hint was dropped about an invasion of England, he told them they would find it hot coming thither (p. 453).
The other noble of the party, Lord Cobham, had no belief in the negotiations from the first, and confided his misgivings to Walsingham before crossing over. He thought it against all reason to suppose that the chief of a league could or would conclude a peace with the queen, who was of a different religion, without the consent of his colleagues (p. 508). While in Flanders, he carried on a regular correspondence with both Burghley and Walsingham, and had a separate cipher for each. The Spaniards recognised in him an enemy to their plans, and Richardot, their virtual leader, told de Loo, the merchant, that Cobham was minded to do nothing about the peace except to disturb the business (p. 430). From prejudice or in order to discredit him, they charged him with deliberate discourtesy to Champagney for behaviour of which he had a perfectly satisfactory explanation (p. 461).
Valentine Dale was a lawyer and a diplomat by profession. Garrulous and of a naive vanity, he gives a lively picture of the proceedings in his letters. He also corresponded impartially with both the great ministers at home. He did not use a cipher, and his own handwriting really makes such a precaution almost unnecessary. Fortunately for a later age he usually employed a secretary and his holograph letters are not numerous. Before going over he was considered a partisan of the peace (p. 99) and he expressed his extreme satisfaction with the instructions and the able manner in which they had been drawn up (p. 98). On the other side of the water he became more of Cobham's opinion, and doubtful of Parma's sincerity, though he did not wish the negotiations to be stopped (p. 314). He frankly calls Richardot and Champagney, his opposite numbers, a pair of foxes, though he considered himself quite capable of dealing with them (p. 366). He hoped that circumstances would not leave him to their tender mercies, for he would trust them no further than he could see them (p. 456).
John Rogers was also a lawyer and diplomat. In the early stages of the negotiations he was selected to go to Ghent on a special mission to Parma because of his knowledge of Italian (p. 207). One, who was certainly no well wisher, reported that he had told the duke that he had a mission to treat above all his colleagues (p. 245). Parma flattered his vanity and he seems to have come away quite convinced of the sincerity of the duke's desire for peace. His behaviour on this occasion did not meet with the approval of his royal mistress. It was not his credulity, however, which excited her censure, but the preamble of his speech to the duke, which she judged to be fond and vain. He was not again employed on similar missions, Dale taking his place. Thereafter he retires somewhat into the background. The correspondence here contains only two of his letters, both addressed to Burghley. In one of these he expresses his firm belief in Parma's sincerity, but declares that in the queen's affairs he would not trust at any time thereto (p. 284). He continued to take an active part in the negotiations, and the Spaniards coupled him with Dale, complaining that the doctors assumed too much on themselves and contending that matters of state should be discussed between the nobles, who could consult the doctors when their opinion was desired (p. 545). Cobham, on the other hand took occasion to praise his useful work, and towards the end of the negotiations he was chosen as the spokesman to descant to the king's commissioners on the queen's good dealings with the king of Spain and of the evil offices of his ministers towards her (p. 495).
The fifth of the English commissioners, Sir James Croft, revolved in an orbit of his own. He was a soldier without experience of diplomacy and would seem rather out of place in such company, except that he had previously been dealing with the Flemish merchant de Loo, whose offices had much to do with bringing about the negotiations. Croft firmly believed in the sincerity of the Spaniards and was convinced that a peace could easily be arranged and that he was the man to do it. His letters are numerous and are practically all addressed to Burghley, the two to Walsingham not being concerned with the matter of the treaty. The independent course pursued by Croft would suggest that he relied on powerful support at home, and the direction of his correspondence would indicate where he expected to find it. It is well known that Burghley favoured peace, but he was not prepared to sacrifice everything to obtain it, and it is scarcely credible that he would employ on a peculiarly delicate task a man so fatuous as Croft proved to be in this affair. The fact remains that Croft, in spite of his outrageous behaviour, was treated with extraordinary leniency by the queen, by Burghley and by the colleagues whom he slighted.
The Spanish commissioners were also five in number, and presumed to be of like quality. Their chief, the Count of Aremberg, was a figure head, and a disciple or rather echo of Richardot and Champagney (p. 508). Garnier and Maes simply acted as secretaries. All the business was conducted by Richardot, President of Artois, a hectoring official, actively supported by Champagney, a nephew of the great Cardinal de Granvelle. Richardot customarily adopted a superior, bullying attitude, and when it suited his purpose was quite prepared to go back on his own word. He plainly counted on being able before long to settle all disputed points and others of much more consequence by dictation on English soil, and he was not always able to conceal this conviction (p. 190).
The negotiations lasted many weeks, but nearly the whole of the time was spent in wrangling over points of quite minor importance. The English commissioners were tied very tightly by their instructions and were constantly obliged to refer back for further and more explicit direction. They had been warned more than once of the skill and cunning of the Italians and Spaniards, and that they must beware lest they should be overreached.
The first question in dispute was over the place of meeting. The Spaniards favoured Antwerp, but the queen would not hear of it (p. 186). She claimed that the choice had been left to her, and she named Ostend as the place for the first parley. At first the Spaniards made no objection to this, but after the English had crossed the sea Parma flatly refused to go there, declaring that it was contrary to the king's honour to meet at a town of his own occupied by others. As the queen insisted upon Ostend the negotiations threatened to break down at the very outset. But on the same day that the commissioners were instructed to withdraw to Flushing if the duke would not agree to Ostend, a letter written separately to Derby and Cobham authorised them to give way on this point if they saw that there was no hope of inducing him to yield (p. 223).
Eventually, by a compromise, the commissioners held their first meeting in tents at a place outside Ostend, on 11 April. As the English had arrived at Ostend on 26 February, nearly six weeks had been spent to get only so far. They had been instructed not to leave the place until the king's commission to treat had been examined and a cessation of arms arranged (p. 101). They had not found their prolonged stay in the town a pleasant experience. Dale writes, somewhat comically, that a man would not wish any but a friend to come to it (p. 172). They were shut up there like prisoners and could only make the tour of the walls (p. 171). The garrison, unpaid and half starved, was so unruly that all the commissioners were robbed and attempts were made nightly to break into their houses (p. 235).
The first difficulty being thus overcome it remained to choose the place for the principal business. Both Burghley and Walsingham tried to induce the queen to agree to Antwerp, but though at first she seemed inclined to yield to their representations, she subsequently changed her mind and fixed on the place outside Ostend where the first meeting had taken place, though if this should not meet with acceptance she gave the commissioners leave to suggest some place along the coast. Of all the places around they liked Bourburgh best, but thought that Bruges would be the most fit, if Parma would consent to remove his Court and the English fugitives from the place (p. 293). The queen gave her consent to Bruges, but the duke flatly refused to permit it, as he could not well leave the town and it would not be possible to exclude the English who served the king of Spain (p. 324). Parma himself suggested Ghent, but the English fell back on their first love, Bourburgh, and to that place they eventually proceeded on 23 May, another six weeks having been spent on this detail.
In the mean time Croft had broken away from his colleagues for an escapade on his own account. Before setting out he had sent a somewhat officious request to Burghley to write to Cobham and Dale for the furtherance of the cause (p. 99), as well as a letter to the queen telling her that he meant to have the colloquy hastened and how he proposed to set about it (p. 97). Instead of going with the rest he crossed the sea independently and was driven by the weather into Dunkirk. In view of what followed it is difficult to believe that this was quite so fortuitous as it was made to appear. At Dunkirk he was received with distinction by the governor and entertained until he proceeded to join his colleagues at Ostend two days later. There he spoke disparagingly of Conway, the governor, in the presence of his own men, possibly from annoyance at having his house broken into by the soldiers. He found himself at variance with his colleagues, considering them too mistrustful, and thought it strange, says Dale, that any man should doubt of anything (p. 170). He asked that Herbert or Buckhurst might be sent over (p. 173) having previously told the queen that if he might have had conference with that lord he believed peace might have been concluded before then (p. 97). On March 20 after Garnier had visited Ostend and Dale had been to see Parma at Ghent, Croft received a pass to return to England, but he was back at Ostend again by 5 April.
It was about this date that he had a private conference with Richardot in which the questions at issue were amicably discussed between them, leaving Croft convinced that if only the matter were left to him he could settle it out of hand (p. 258). Thereafter his arrogance knew no bounds. He told his colleagues that if he had had the handling of the negotiations the peace would already have been concluded (p. 316), and protested that if it did not go forward he would lay it to their charge (p. 314). He made up his mind to go himself to Parma and wrote to England for permission. Although no reply came, he was impatient to be off, and after some demur his colleagues consented to his going.
Arrived at Bruges he saw the duke and conferred with Champagney. There he submitted a series of articles for a peace which the Spaniards persuaded him that they were prepared to accept. Champagney had the impudence to write to Burghley for evidence that the queen would avow what Croft had done, and suggesting that Buckhurst should be sent out to support him (p. 348).
Meanwhile Croft had given out that peace was already made, incidentally causing consternation among the Dutch (pp. 366, 399). He sent a copy of his articles to Burghley, but left his colleagues at Ostend in complete ignorance about his proceedings.
During his absence they had received letters from the queen censuring Croft for his behaviour to Conway and containing the most explicit direction that he should not venture to act independently of the others. They at once sent to Bruges for him and he returned to Ostend on 5 May exceedingly pleased with himself for what he had done (p. 355). But the queen was incensed that he should have ventured to pledge her without authorisation and that she should be asked to avow what he had done in her name, though Burghley succeeded in pacifying her to some extent (p. 372). Before any further steps were taken it was considered desirable that Dale should go on a special mission to Parma, chiefly in order to clear up doubts about his commission from the king.
On Dale's return Croft was asked to produce his articles and explain them. Asked if Richardot had made any answer Croft affirmed that he had practically accepted the articles. Upon this Dale drew Richardot's answer out of his bosom, which somehow failed to make the same impression upon the other commissioners as it had upon Croft, and an animated discussion ensued (p. 385). The outcome of this was the peremptory recall of Croft to answer for his presumption in acting without direction from the queen or the privity of his colleagues, while his articles were repudiated as being without warrant and varying in material points from the instructions given (p. 413). To avoid obeying this command Croft pleaded his age and the disgrace and ruin that would attend him (p. 423). To help him out of his trouble Dale says he penned the word "languishing," by which he hoped that the queen would be reduced to pity the delinquent (p. 458). In any case Croft did not languish for long though he does not appear to have been grateful to Dale for his intervention.
All this affair of Croft was quite apart from the main business of the treaty. By their instructions the commissioners, before proceeding to the principal business, were to satisfy themselves concerning the commission which Parma professed to have from the king and to arrange for a cessation of arms. It had been gathered from de Loo that there would be no difficulty about a cessation, and that once they had arrived on the other side all would be well. At Ostend de Loo had come to meet them full of compliments from the duke, but with nothing to the purpose. After this inauspicious beginning he seems to have been regarded with some suspicion, except by Croft, but the commissioners continued to employ him. He was asked to draw up an account of the negotiations up to that point, and this paper is given at page 145. The Spaniards, however, threw over de Loo as a person of no consequence, and they would accept no responsibility for the expectations which he had held out.
So far from being accorded, the question of a cessation led to long and fruitless debates. The Spaniards were unwilling to consider any that extended beyond the four towns garrisoned by the English: Flushing, Brielle, Berghen op Zoom and Ostend. The English on their side would not listen to any arrangement which would leave the Spaniards free to use Belgium as a jumping off place against England.
It was evident that no really satisfactory cessation could be arranged to which the Dutch were not parties. Their cooperation being more than doubtful Willoughby had been asked whether the cessation should include the four towns or only Ostend (p. 55). For some reason the letter took over a month to reach him. In reply he expressed the opinion that a cessation would not be honourable from the soldier's standpoint, unless first asked for by the enemy, and he thought it would be dangerous for Lillo and other places garrisoned by the Dutch, against which he believed the enemy to have designs (p. 165).
After waiting long for an answer from the States about cooperating in the negotiations, the queen had sent over her commissioners before it had arrived. If she hoped thereby to force the hand of the States, she made a serious miscalculation. The Dutch had no belief in the king of Spain's sincerity in these negotiations. In spite of all the efforts to move them they had no intention of sending deputies to the conference. The deputies of Holland had always strenuously resisted the proposal and the other provinces followed their lead, being loth to offend those on whom they depended chiefly for aid and succour (p. 405).
By general consent the report of these negotiations had wrought much mischief in the provinces. To this cause the States attributed the mutinies among their soldiers who feared that they would receive none of their pay if peace came (p. 179). Russel averred that they were the cause of all their dissensions and of all the jealousies between the States and England (p. 222), while Count Maurice wrote to the Privy Council that owing to these negotiations their forces could not be employed by sea or land against the enemy, either so soon or so well as he wished (p. 307).
Meanwhile the queen had been growing restive as after all the discussion nothing had been settled either about the place of meeting or the cessation, and no commission from the king had been produced. She sent a sharp message that though she wished all the world to know her desire for a kingly peace, she did not mean to be trifled with (p. 342). A fortnight later she wrote that she would endure no more delays and the duke must be told that he dealt with a prince who prized her honour more than her life. At Croft's return from Bruges Dale had been sent there and at long last had seen the duke's commission. The reason why they had it not at the last meeting, he wrote somewhat whimsically, was because they had it not. He thought he had done like a pretty fellow, but would think himself well enough if he were not shent for his pains (p. 370). The deception practised over the commission had at least been fully exposed.
Such was the position of affairs when the commissioners proceeded to Bourburgh at the end of May. At the first meeting the Count of Aremberg spoke of the king's desire for peace, and Parma sent a message begging to be allowed to defray the charges of the English deputies (p. 429). The courteous offer was declined on the ground that it was not customary, especially in time of treaties. This refusal the thrifty queen duly commended, but told her commissioners to intimate that the offer would be gratefully accepted (p. 439).
These compliments having been passed and as there seemed to be no prospect of any agreement about the cessation, Richardot proposed that they should put this question aside and proceed at once to the principal business (p. 452), and this, after all the delays, very speedily brought matters to a head.
On 10 June a conference was held at the house of the Lord Treasurer to discuss the whole question. The principal points dealt with are contained in a paper printed on page 471. The result of this conference may be read in the instructions sent to the commissioners four days later. If they were unable to get the cessation extended so as to exclude an attack from Flanders against England or Scotland, they need not stand upon the cessation but could proceed with the treaty. The terms to be demanded could be drawn to two principal ones, toleration for two years and reference of the matter to the States General thereafter, and the removing of strangers out of the Netherlands. The Pacification of Ghent was to be taken as the model. If the Dutch refused to accept these terms the queen would forsake them and leave them to their own defence. The commissioners were to take occasion to say that though the world found it strange that the queen should continue the treaty, seeing the great preparations made to invade her dominions, she only did so to show the world her reluctance to omit any occasion of peace, though she had small cause to think that it would come to pass. They were to press for a speedy answer to their demands, and if the other side refused to yield the things propounded, it was her intention to revoke them, unless there should fall out some cause, as yet unlooked for, for their further employment there (pp. 485–7). The last paragraph touching their recall was added to the original draft of the letter.
This despatch really settled the matter. It is noteworthy as containing the queen's own reasons for persisting with the negotiations when there was such scant hope of success, and for the announcement of a definite policy as regard the Dutch. It was probably penned in the full assurance that the demands could never be conceded. A paper dated 4 June sets forth very clearly that there was little hope of making peace jointly with the States, and that without them it would be extremely dangerous to do so, whichever of three several courses might be adopted (p. 457). Undoubtedly these considerations had full weight in the conference at the treasurer's house on the 10th.
The despatch of the 14th practically brought the negotiations at Bourburgh to a stand. It was clear that there could be no peace. Such, however, was not the conviction of Croft. He had cheerfully resumed his place at the council board, "to further this great cause," emboldened to do so by finding his name among the rest in the queen's last letters (p. 469). He remained confident that the king must want peace because it was so obviously in his own interest to do so (p. 464). Walsingham, at the queen's command, wrote to assure him that he stood as high in her favour as ever (p. 491). True to his character he must forthwith begin to complain of a colleague and wrote to Burghley that Dale did not make him privy to any letters either received or sent concerning the cause (p. 465).
The remainder of the time at Bourburgh was spent in further futile discussion about the cessation and upon the queen's demands, to which the Spaniards avoided giving a direct answer. This disquieted even the sanguine Croft, though de Loo still remained hopeful. The duke by this time was fully occupied with his preparations for war, and the Spanish commissioners rejoiced when they heard of the Spanish fleet (p. 505). The English were all eager to return home after three months of fruitless effort (p. 515). The negotiations had come to a standstill and the commissioners did not see the road any further until the queen's pleasure should be known (p. 522). That came on the 29th June with instructions for Dale to go to Parma forthwith to demand an explanation and satisfaction about the publication of Allen's "Admonition" and the papal bull. If the duke should refuse this they were to make ready to return home and ships of war would be ready to convoy them over (p. 528).
Elizabeth has been blamed for entering upon and persisting with these negotiations, but when a final balance is taken it is hard to say whether she was really the loser by them. They certainly served to expose the duplicity of the Spaniards and might almost have been devised with that intent. While yielding on minor points there is no indication from first to last that there would be any concession on what was considered vital. The two points of the evacuation of strangers and some measure of toleration were firmly insisted upon and it was as well that the world should know that Spain had no intention of making any concession in these respects. The negotiations caused no delay or slackening in taking measures for defence, indeed the Spaniards made this a subject for complaint. So Parma had nothing to show for his play acting and his crocodile tears. The dissensions in the Netherlands afforded him unhoped for opportunities of striking successes, (fn. 5) but he could not pluck the fruit that offered to his hand because that would at once have stopped the negotiations which he believed it necessary to keep going until the Armada appeared in the Straits of Dover. In the Netherlands the negotiations undoubtedly did produce unfortunate consequences. They lent themselves to misrepresentation of which the queen's ill wishers took full advantage. They helped to foment the unhappy dissensions in the country, which served to give the States an excuse, already foreshadowed in the resolution passed by the States of Holland on 27 June (p. 493), to explain why no Dutch ships sailed out to meet the Spaniards and left the English to fight the Armada alone.
While all this discussion about a cessation was proceeding the general slackening off, for one reason or another, of all warlike operations, almost amounted to a cessation in fact. This was as well for the English forces in the Netherlands which from neglect at home and from the unfriendly if not hostile attitude of the Dutch, was in no case to carry on operations in the field. Writing early in January Willoughby states that if the States should require the forces to go to the field, according to the treaty, they would not be found, as there was scarce a company of foot to spare from the garrison places (p. 7). There is a record at page 3 of how these forces were distributed. Their numbers were much below establishment, especially the horse, and Ortel, the States' ambassador in England had instructions to bring these and other shortcomings to the notice of the queen and her Council (p. 4). The men were in great want and were fain to subsist on three pounds of cheese and coarse bread for a whole week (p. 17). 10,000l. was sent over at the beginning of the year to be employed for weekly lendings (p. 7), but by the middle of February the treasurer's man had paid out so much that there was hardly enough for a week more (p. 93). In March Willoughby complained that not more than 22,400l. had been sent over since October for the whole army (p. 199). To supply the soldiers' wants he had offered the States his own bonds (p. 17). It was probably for this reason that Willoughby himself was left with scarce enough to furnish his ordinary diet, his plate and jewels being at pawn (p. 182). From Utrecht came a complaint that they were left a la desperato, and accusing the treasurer of employing for private matters the money intended for the soldiers (p. 247).
Another abuse was the custom of the captains to desert their companies and live in England. In March Killigrew wrote that most of them were there, which caused their men to be abused and their bands to be weak, while the general was left with only the sergeant major Wilsford to assist him in martial matters (p. 326). At Ostend the garrison was particularly unruly, largely owing to this absence of their captains (p. 210). Willoughby fully recognised the mischief caused by this practice, of which the States made constant complaint, and asked either that the absentee captains should be sent back to their charges, or that others should be appointed who would be more careful (p. 331).
Although the army was in such a sorry condition, the queen found that the charges it entailed were far greater than she expected. In the interest of economy a new establishment was ordained, setting down the numbers to be employed with rates of pay, at a total cost of 125,389l. per annum, which was on no account to be exceeded (p. 156). To save as far as possible the drain of treasure from England, apparel for the soldiers was to be supplied from home and delivered to the men as imprest, the captains being enjoined to distribute this without seeking any gain therefrom (p. 168). Another proposal to economise by drawing eight men out of each company of 150 was resisted by Willoughby on the ground that the small gain thereby would not compensate for the dislike it would cause in the country or the discontent it would create among the men (p. 331). Owing to the decay of the horse bands and the difficulty of maintaining them in the towns where they were stationed, the queen wished to induce the States to agree to convert them into bands of foot of 200 each, allowing the treaty to be modified in that respect (p. 86). Willoughby himself agreed that it would be better to turn bad captains of horse into good captains of foot (p. 94). The States took a long time to consider the proposal and in the end replied pointing out that the horse bands, with the exception of one or two, had not more than half their full complement of men; and that horse were very necessary in that country both for defence and communications between the provinces. They therefore begged the queen to cause the bands to be made up to the full number of 1000 provided in the treaty, and if that should prove impossible, to take into her charge some of the companies then in the pay of the States (p. 416).
Like the English the Dutch also had to consider economy in deciding the strength of the army that was to be maintained. They established this at 17,000 foot and 1500 horse, exclusive of the English, and in June they were considering a further reduction of their numbers (p. 517).
When the Hollanders began their attack upon Sonoy, Wilsford, the sergeant major, believed that they meant to shake off the English altogether. To meet this danger he suggested that Ostend and Berghen op Zoom should be handed over to the Dutch to garrison and that the queen's forces should be concentrated in Walcheren, where they would be as much on the defensive against the Dutch as against the Spaniards. He returned to the charge later, believing that without the goodwill of the States the queen's hold on Flushing would be very precarious, and that in this pledge for the money she had advanced she would find that she had a wet eel by the tail; but by taking over Camphire and one place more the whole island could be strongly held (p. 395). Russel similarly was of opinion that if the queen abandoned the men of Camphire and Arnemuiden it would hardly be possible to hold Flushing (p. 399). Killigrew also thought that if she would take the whole island of Walcheren into her protection, it would be the safest and most honourable way (p. 394). Willoughby fully concurred and like Wilsford, advocated handing over Ostend and Berghen to the States to defend, since they would do nothing for them so long as they were held by the English (pp. 250, 265); they will not take care of any town where the English are, was the opinion of another Englishman (p. 492).
The only dissentient from this chorus in favour of concentrating in Walcheren was Lord Burgh, the governor of Brielle, who considered that place far too important to be thus given up (p. 337). No notice appears to have been taken by the home government of this proposal. It would indeed have been suicidal and directed even more against the Dutch than against the Spaniards; but it is eloquent of the situation created by the attitude of the States that it was advocated by nearly all the prominent Englishmen in the country.
The precarious situation of his army greatly exercised the mind of the general, seeing it scattered widely, at Ostend and Berghen and about the country, exposed to grave disasters and of no service to justify the heavy cost. The cautionary towns he wished to see heavily reinforced (p. 502), although they already had garrisons more than double the number provided in the treaty, and that at the expense of the field force (p. 490).
Service in the Netherlands seems to have had a depressing effect upon those engaged in it, rendering them discontented and quarrelsome. Most of them were bickering with each other and clamouring to be recalled. Willoughby had never reconciled himself to his position. He resented the limitation of his powers and considered the subordinate position to which he was reduced beneath the dignity of himself and of his mistress. From the first he wished to resign a post so exacting and ungrateful. I could wish, he wrote, that some other whose credit might sustain such powers five or six weeks without money, victuals or means, had my place (p. 7). Later, as the situation became more involved and perilous, he drew up a memorandum showing how his instructions had paralysed his powers of useful action. It was but to deceive her Majesty, he said, and consume her treasure to have a general that was not able either to defend her friends or to offend her enemies, neither to keep town nor field (pp. 151–2). He was not unnaturally aggrieved when, in spite of the devoted service he had rendered both in the army and in the work of mediation, he received a very sharp reprimand from the queen for having appointed Sir William Drury to command at Berghen, a person considered quite inadequate for such an exposed and important place (p. 388). Willoughby's accumulated grievances are summed up in a memorandum which he presented at the end of June, giving the reasons why he wished to lay down his authority, already being made void (p. 524). Some time before this he had been much perturbed to learn that it was proposed to send over Sir John Norris to assist him. If this were done he asked that he himself should be recalled since it neither agreed with the queen's service or their own credit that two should be engaged in a service that one could easily do (p. 166).
Another Englishman very anxious to return home was Henry Killigrew, the queen's representative on the Council of State. He was an elderly man, very subject to sickness (p. 332). He felt himself in a maze among the Dutchmen, who looked upon him with suspicion as a friend of Leicester, and in order to exclude him from affairs conversed before him in their own language, which he did not understand. He was unpleasing to them, for Leicester's sake, and urged his revocation that he might be rid from them as they would be glad to be rid of him (pp. 31, 94).
Yet another was Sir William Russel, governor of Flushing, who was constantly pressing to be relieved from his place of trouble. He felt extremely anxious about the place; there were things that he dare not write, and he fretted at the queen's apparent indifference to it. He had committed himself very deeply to the captains of Camphire and Arnemuiden, as indeed his instructions warranted, and the abandonment of these friends of his country hit him hard. His actions were made the subject of formal complaint by the States of Zeeland. Count Maurice also complained of his behaviour and wrote peevishly that the governor would not take anything well from him (p. 389), declaring that Russel wished to make open war on him and all his house (p. 390). In reply Russel declared that the reason for the Count's rancour against him was because he had warned the home government of the Dutch designs upon Flushing (p. 437). Grown highly suspicious of Dutch machinations he thought that Willoughby had become much too complacent towards them, and charged the general with going about to impeach his credit, by incitement of the States (p. 477). The quarrel was exacerbated by Willoughby appointing to a captaincy in the garrison of Flushing, which Russel claimed belonged to him as of right (p. 424). Willoughby treated his colleague with forbearance though he appears to have considered his conduct unreasonable and he told Walsingham that he would bear more than reason required rather than that there should be an unkindness between them (p. 476). Russel had no really serious grounds for complaint as in all these subjects of controversy the home government, which desired him to remain at his post, took his side.
Another officer out at elbows with Willoughby was Colonel Morgan, whom the queen had insisted on making governor of Berghen op Zoom in place of Willoughby's own nominee Drury. Apparently the general resented this deeply and Morgan declared that he believed Willoughby would do him all the disgrace he could, for never a captain dared to speak with him for fear of losing his favour (p. 481). Willoughby is reported to have said that he would rather lose his place than suffer Morgan to enjoy the lieutenancy. The feeling of resentment soon passed or was submerged by a sense of duty, and not long afterwards Morgan wrote that Willoughby was beginning to use him well and was willing to put him into Berghen (p. 492).
Willoughby was not alone in objecting to Morgan's appointment to Berghen. Morgan was an old soldier and a harsh disciplinarian. The English captains in the town openly revolted against his appointment and one of them, Udal, in a long letter, complained of Morgan's brutality and injustice (p. 496). Thanks to the intervention of Walsingham the matter was smoothed over and the captains gave their promise to forget their dislikes and obey the new governor (p. 498).
During all these months Parma was gathering a great army in the Netherlands. A list of the forces thus assembled (pp. 536–8) was supplied by a renegade captain named Barney, a prisoner at Ostend, who professed to have repented his errors. It is evidently intended to impress and probably greatly exaggerated. Certainly gentlemen were flocking into Flanders from all parts in order to take part in the enterprise against England, though they did not underrate the difficulty of the enterprise. The cost of the army was said to amount to 400,000 crowns a month (p. 192), and for the forces gathered about Antwerp 50,000 loaves a day were baked (p. 208).
The Spaniards talked of getting even with "Bess" who had wrought them all this business (p. 15), but whatever the ultimate object might be it was hardly expected that the army would remain idle in the mean time especially when the dissensions rife among the allies presented such favourable opportunities. There was talk of an attack on Zeeland and the islands generally, and Russel was expecting a landing in Walcheren at any moment and begged for ships to be sent for defence (pp. 231, 252).
The two places most exposed to attack were Berghen op Zoom and Ostend both garrisoned by the English. Both towns were ill provided. Owing to lack of pay they had consumed their magazines (pp. 3, 47). Willoughby warned the government that they would infallibly be lost if their supplies were not renewed (p. 61), a warning repeated some weeks later by Killigrew (p. 302). Efforts were made from time to time to induce the States to provide for their defence, but without success. So soon as the peace negotiations broke down it was expected that the enemy would attack one if not both of these towns. A concentration of 27 enemy companies near Leere seemed to portend an attack on Berghen, and Willoughby anticipated that the town would be invested about the middle of May. For its defence he estimated that 3000 foot and 600 horse would be required (p. 250).
The threat to Berghen did not materialise, but great anxiety for Ostend took its place. Parma was reported to have expressed his intention not to remove his forces from the country until he had taken that town, which would serve as a base for the invasion of England (p. 245). Large enemy forces were drawn near to the town, which was virtually besieged. At the end of March Willoughby received instructions to reinforce the garrison with 600 men taken from places where they could be spared (p. 221). He replied that he did not know where he could get them, except from Berghen, which was itself threatened (p. 265). Accordingly it was decided to send 600 fresh troops to Flushing with all speed, to be employed for the relief of Ostend, in case of need (pp. 230–1). It was proposed to send over Sir John Norris to confer with the governor as to the best means of defence (pp. 231, 237). Instead of Sir John his brother Sir Edward was sent over in mid April. He reported that with 1000 more men and properly supplied the town could hold out against the enemy's bravest attack until relieved from the sea. But he found it in far greater need of defence against the encroachments of the sea, which was making great inroads, and unless the matter were speedily attended to, the necessary repairs would involve great charges (pp. 294). He considered the place more honourable to keep and more profitable than Flushing and Brielle together (p. 303). A fortnight later he did not seem so sanguine. He had learned that the enemy meant to take the place before any other attempt. They judged it to be a work of eight days, but unless the queen provided better, it would not be so much (p. 346).
By the end of that month it looked as if the expected attack was about to begin. The enemy marched towards the town and encamped within two miles of it, setting down within view (p. 442). On receiving the news Willoughby hastened to the place. He arrived very opportunely, for Conway had lost his nerve or lost hope. He had declared in council in the presence of all his captains that he could not defend the town with 1000 against 3000 for four hours, and he would rather be one of the 3000 to attack than of the 1000 to defend. Willoughby hereupon ordered Conway to call a council of war and by their advice to do what was best for the service (pp. 463, 469). He had brought a small reinforcement from Flushing to strengthen the garrison. To the home government he sent word that if the enemy should also attack Berghen or some other place, the queen's forces were too small to defend two places at once. He asked that victuals should be sent to Ostend with timber for fortification as well as some reinforcements of troops (p. 460).
On sending out to reconnoitre on 3 June Willoughby found that the enemy had drawn further off, and they seemed to be going either to France or the islands. After he had taken measures for the fortification and better assurance of the place, introduced reinforcements and supplied needful wants, he left Ostend on the 4th to attend to the matter of Geertruidenberg (p. 455).
While all this was taking place the home government, somewhat tardily, sent orders that the Ostend garrison should be reinforced with three companies from Flushing and two from Berghen (p. 448). Orders were also sent to Conway to repair the fortifications on the Bruges side, for which 100l. was promised (p. 450). Considering the danger as passed Willoughby had revoked the orders for five companies to be sent to the town, but in consideration of representations from Conway he sent the two companies from Berghen and allowed the troops he had brought from Flushing to remain (pp. 475, 484).
Conway himself by no means considered the danger as passed. He declared that the place was never so straitly besieged. The enemy's lines extended from Bruges to Nieuport and from Nieuport to within a mile of Ostend. They kept the town under constant observation and were every night about the ramparts, while their camp encroached upon it every day (p. 488). A letter of Sir Edward Norris emphasises the danger and the need for reinforcements, especially in view of the report that the enemy was only waiting for the word to attack (p. 502).
In spite of these various alarms of major operations of war there were none. The allies, owing to their weakness and dissensions, were obliged to remain on the defensive, varied only by occasional raids from Berghen and Ostend. Two from the former town were particularly daring. In January a party sallied out against Vilvorden, sacked and burned the town and returned with prisoners and booty without having lost a man (p. 17). In March they nearly reached Brussels, capturing a boat on its way to that town from Antwerp, from which they carried off 60,000 florins and a dozen prisoners (p. 209). Robert Cecil admired this enterprising garrison and said that it contained as many brave men as he had seen in any garrison of the enemy, though they were more numerous (p. 207).
All enterprises were not so fortunate as the above. An attack on Hulst was repulsed with loss (p. 355), and an attempt to surprise Wouw castle failed (p. 519). For the capture of a Florentine named Veluti who was very ill handled, the garrison received a royal reprimand with orders to make full restitution, refraining from such barbarous acts in the future, lest such evil proceedings should render the queen and the cause odious to the world (p. 388).
In all these trifling affairs the enemy scored one small success. Sherley's company of horse, going from Utrecht to Zwolle was refused admission at the latter place. While waiting outside it was attacked in the night by 400 enemy infantry and a company of Verdugo's horse, Rowland Yorke being present, and was cut to pieces, all but 30 being killed or taken. It is eloquent of the relations between the allies at this time that although this disaster occurred within full view of Zwolle, the burghers would neither give the Englishmen refuge nor succour (pp. 66, 70, 93).
It was Parma's activity in collecting ships that gave rise to the idea that he intended an attack on the islands. To this side he devoted a great part of his activities in the first part of the year. He no doubt wished to create the impression that he was assembling a formidable naval force in the Flemish ports. That is the obvious intention of some advertisements from one Hercules Annys received at the beginning of the year. In this he gives information of over 80 ships of war besides smaller craft, divided between Dunkirk, Nieuport and Antwerp (p. 14). How little this corresponded with the real state of affairs is shown by evidence from other quarters. Robert Cecil, who was allowed an opportunity to see the shipping in the Schelde and at Antwerp declared that their boasted naval strength was but a "scarecrow." They only had three ships of above 300 tons and the largest of these was not considered seaworthy (p. 208). He did not see the ships at Dunkirk, Nieuport or Sluys, but another witness, Pigot, says that they were of no account (p. 77). Dunkirk was the important place because it was from thence that Parma was to launch his attack on England. Two papers here contain reports upon the state of his shipping in that port in the month of June (pp. 483, 523). Parma had been actively engaged in an effort to bring his naval forces to a state of efficiency. To judge by the reports his labours had given very poor results. The first report mentions 12 large ships of 700 to 800 tons, of which only three were armed with more than seven guns. The other report which appears to be from a sailor, and which is probably much more trustworthy, mentions nothing above 100 tons. This is confirmed by an independent statement that the duke's shipping did not exceed 30 sail of flyboats (p. 511). He had nothing in fact of real fighting value, and a considerable portion of this insignificant flotilla was out of repair. Their armament was weak; there were guns on the quays, but they were for the land. A large galleon launched at Antwerp at the beginning of the year was found to be unserviceable and had to be sent back to dock (p. 31).
Parma's chief energies had been devoted to the provision of flat bottomed boats called playts or hoys. Of these he had from 200 to 300, gathered together at Sluys (p. 227). But these were not fit to venture to sea, except in fair weather and for short passages (p. 511). Edward Morris declared that one of the queen's ships "would clatter them altogether" (p. 245).
Parma's chief difficulty was to obtain sailors and he laid hands on all the mariners that could be had (p. 491), even sending to France and Scotland to obtain 3000, with what success is not stated (p. 494). He had as much difficulty in keeping those he got, though he used very sharp means to punish them (p. 511). However, by the middle of June his fleet, such as it was, seems to have been ready and he went down to Dunkirk to inspect it, being rowed to the mouth of the haven (p. 494).
The not very arduous task of watching Parma's naval forces seems to have been left to the Dutch. Early in May Count Maurice was at Middelburgh intending to join the fleet, uniting with the ships which had been sent against Medemblik he proposed to go and prevent Parma from assembling his ships and boats at Dunkirk (p. 358). It is improbable that anything came of this, as Parma's operations do not seem to have been impeded seriously. But at the end of June Vice Admiral Justin of Nassau sent 20 ships to watch the port (p. 515). Off Sluys the Zeelanders kept a fleet of 32 sail to block in Parma's hoys (p. 353).
In England naval preparations were not neglected, as shown by the references to their high cost (p. 413), which Croft declared would exceed that of 10,000 men on land by a very great deal (p. 117). Apparently some difficulty was anticipated about manning the numbers of ships to be put in commission as in April the States General were approached to permit a levy of a thousand mariners for English service. As it was feared that the States might refuse or raise difficulties, Russel was directed to approach Treslong or others for the same purpose (p. 277). The States granted the necessary permission with comparative promptitude, providing however that no one already engaged in their own service should go, upon pain of death (p. 317). Russel found the people so well affected that he was convinced he could get the men promptly, and Treslong wrote to Leicester that the queen might have had the numbers required at once, and more if the money and a commission had arrived with the original letters (p. 288). Upon further consideration it was found that these Dutch sailors would not be needed. At the end of the month Walsingham wrote that the English ships could be sufficiently furnished with their own people at home. The intention had been to engage only common seamen, to be dispensed among the English crews, ten or twelve to a ship (p. 332).
The question of a Dutch contingent to cooperate with the English fleet had been mooted at the very beginning of the year. Killigrew declared that they would require ample notice as their resources had already been severely strained (p. 10), and nothing seems to have been done. In May Willoughby made urgent representations to the States of Zeeland, who replied that their ships were all engaged at Sluys, but referred the matter to the States General (p. 401). The States, after a series of excuses wrote to Willoughby promising that six ships of the largest size should immediately be made ready for war, both in Holland and Zeeland, and that, in addition, they would put as many ships to sea as possible (pp. 415–6). On 25 June Ortel informed Walsingham that the ships promised had already arrived in Dover Road (p. 515), and a few days later Killigrew reported that 20 ships had been sent to Lord Henry Seymour (p. 532). It is uncertain what happened to these vessels, since they clearly took no part in the coming contest. Subsequent papers show fairly conclusively that Dutch co-operation was confined to the blockading of the Flemish ports. So far from assisting the Dutch were in fact asking for naval help from England, for in May the Council of State of Zeeland was petitioning the queen to send some of her ships to guard their coast, until better order had been taken by the generality for the common defence (p. 246).
Of the Armada itself these papers contain little positive information. There was little reticence among the Spaniards as to the object of their preparations and Dale heard English exiles boasting that they were going to England (p. 371). As a hint of their plans the Count of Arenberg remarked to a gentleman of the earl of Derby that if they suddenly landed 30 to 40,000 men in England and they were left undisturbed for 24 hours they could so surely ensconce themselves that they could hardly be harmed (p. 474). On hearing the news of the death of Santa Croce Parma is reported to have said Eh bien, Dieu lui pardonne, for he hath been the stay of their coming onward, which I hope his successor will not be so much to blame for that, having crossed all our counsels" (p. 208). In March the delay in the sailing of the fleet was attributed to lack of corn and mariners, of which they had received some from Danzig (p. 233). Walsingham wrote that the Spaniards seemed to be afraid to come forth. He heard they would not be ready before the middle of May and hoped it might be May twelve month (p. 312). A note of June 23 gives the constitution of the fleet (p. 512). A letter of Pedro de Valdes to the King of Spain from Corunna points to dissension among the commanders and to dissatisfaction with the duke of Medina Sidonia, even before the fleet sailed (p. 516).
To meet the menace from Spain, it was proposed to call home 2000 of the men in the Netherlands, and Willoughby begged that he might return with them, preferring to be employed in action under Leicester rather than be tied to a needless charge, when the rest of the queen's forces would be few enough to be ranged under the cautionary towns (p. 512). The intention seems to have become known as early as April, and Capt. Edmund Bannaster desired that he and his company might be among those brought back (p. 283). Two others, Sir Francis Vere and Sir Edward Norris, who always wished to be where the fight was hottest, also desired to be back to share in the glory or to die in their country's defence (pp. 483, 531).
A few scattered points may be noticed here. Robert Cecil reports that Antwerp is abandoned by the rich merchants who used to frequent it. The burgomaster, born in England, was a godson of king Edward VI (p. 191). The Spaniards were jealous of the favour shown by Parma to the Burgundians and Italians, and spoke covertly of the riches he had amassed in the wars (pp. 191–2). A letter of Walsingham of 8 April is remarkable for the frank manner in which he criticises the queen (p. 273). There is a letter of Russel in which he expresses the intention to extract information from a prisoner by torture (p. 289). A letter of Walsingham to A.B., who is going to Spain, suggests that he may be able to exercise his abilities in the interests of peace (p. 345). A.B. is frequently used like the symbol X and in this instance two people seem to be so designated, the person going to Spain and another who has reported that it is his intention to do so. Sir Anthony Standen is addressed elsewhere as A.B. and he was at Florence at this time, and he went to Spain soon after; but he was hardly of the calibre suggested by the terms of this letter. Mr. Conyers Read has suggested that the person to whom this appeal was made is Gian Figliazzi. (fn. 6)
The bulk of the Holland papers printed here are from transcripts made by Mrs. Lomas. Of the Flanders papers she had done most of Vol. II and a large portion of Vol. III, but nothing in Vol. IV, and she had not touched any of the Treaty Papers. With regard to the text of the present volume I regret that through inadvertence a document calendared at page 440 has been dealt with again from another copy on page 460. Again the answers of the Lords of the Council to the States are given both at page 442 and at 450. The former document should have been calendared much more briefly. I am indebted to Prof. J. E. Neale of University College, London, and to Mr. Conyers Read for additional Corrigenda to Parts II and III of this volume, which will be found after the Corrigenda of Part IV. A note should have been attached to the figure 271,000l. on page 215 of Part III to explain that it is apparently intended as the sum of the three items preceding it.
In taking leave of this task I think it only right to state that for the accuracy or otherwise of the text and for all matters of editing in Parts II, III and IV of this Volume, with the exception of the first ten sheets of Part II, I am entirely responsible.