Calendar of State Papers Foreign: Elizabeth, Volume 23, January-July 1589. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1950.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. All rights reserved.
For the first seven months of 1589, as for the last six months of 1588, the predominant interest in England's foreign relations was maritime rather than continental. Everything else was overshadowed by the great counter-armada which Drake and Norris led to the coasts of Spain and Portugal. The story of that Expedition lies, however, outside the field covered by the State Papers of the Foreign Series. Most of its records, being written in England or on board English ships, belong to the Domestic Series. The Foreign State Papers therefore continue to be concerned principally with affairs in the Netherlands and in France. They make it possible to see the Portugal Expedition in perspective as one aspect of a wider policy; but they add little to our knowledge of its course. For these reasons, this Preface must be confined chiefly to a discussion of England's relations with the Netherlands and with France between the beginning of January and the end of July, 1589.
The first seven months of 1589 went far towards completing that revolution in England's relations with the Dutch Republic which had begun with Leicester's recall at the end of 1587. (fn. 1) Elizabeth was now more than ever determined to return to her original policy of an alliance in which her own liabilities were strictly defined and limited. With an open war against Spain on her hands and with France in a state of anarchy, she could not afford any considerable increase in her commitments in the Netherlands. She might even need, from time to time, to reduce those commitments. For the 5,000 footmen and 1,000 horsemen, forming the English “auxiliary” forces in the Low Countries, were almost the only seasoned troops that England possessed. It had already been found necessary to draw upon them for the Portugal Expedition. It might at any moment become necessary to draw upon them again for the assistance of the French King or the French Huguenots. Everything possible must therefore be done to enable the Dutch to defend themselves by their own efforts against the Spanish armies under Parma. They must be united under their States, General and provincial. They must be encouraged to develop an efficient central executive government. Their domestic dissensions must be healed, and their quarrels with their English allies appeased.
Negotiations for a general settlement along these lines had already been initiated by Sir John Norris during his brief visit to the Hague in November 1588. (fn. 2) They were now followed up in January 1589 by Thomas Bodley, who had recently arrived to take Killigrew's place as the English Assistant in the Dutch Council of State. The two papers (pp. 38, 39) which Bodley presented to the States General on January 14 give a very fair picture of the Queen's policy at this time. In them Bodley recognised—though the exact phrase comes from one of his later papers (p. 119)—that the States, General and provincial, were the “absolute governors” of the Provinces. But he urged them to strengthen their executive machinery so as to ensure the speedy despatch of urgent business. They should, he suggested, themselves remain longer in session (cf. p. 42). They should also enlarge their present instructions to the Council of State, which infringed the 1585 Treaty with Her Majesty and did not give the Council adequate powers to deal effectively with urgent matters when the States were not sitting. Furthermore, they should keep the Queen's Lieutenant-General fully informed of all martial affairs, as the Treaty required.
Bodley then went on to press for the healing of old feuds by some “good resolution” concerning the States' defeated opponents in Utrecht, Leyden, and Friesland. Finally, he tried to satisfy the States' grievances about the English forces. He denied that the footbands were weak and pointed out that the States had little right to complain, since they had refused for so long all invitations to send their own commissaries to witness the musters as the Treaty required. The horsebands, admittedly, were weak, but was not Her Majesty still awaiting the States' permission to convert six of them into twice the number of foot? Those auxiliary companies which had been drawn into the cautionary towns after Parma's capture of Sluys, were now to be made available for service in the field. The States should not begrudge them “service money,” since they would have needed that wherever they had been garrisoned. Nor should customs and excise duties be levied on the English soldiers. On the other hand, any imprests or provisions supplied by the Dutch to English troops would be repaid as soon as the accounts between the States and Her Majesty were settled. Bodley also promised that the cautionary town governors should not in future meddle with political or admiralty matters.
These two papers clearly embody a balanced and fairly comprehensive policy, a policy aimed at healing the old quarrels and at giving the Anglo-Dutch alliance a fresh start upon the old basis of the 1585 Treaty. But while Elizabeth was thus moving back to the 1585 Treaty, the States were moving forward far beyond that position. They were now “strangely ruled and overruled” (p. 51) by John van Oldenbarnevelt, the Advocate and Grand Pensionary of Holland. With him there worked in close concert the young Maurice, Count of Holland and son of William the Silent; Count William Louis of Nassau-Dillenburg, governor of Friesland; and Count Mors, governor of Utrecht, Gelderland, and Overijsel. This “States party” were no longer prepared, as they had been in 1585, to alienate to Elizabeth any part in the sovereignty over their countries. Nor were they willing to share executive authority with her Lieutenant-General and the Council of State, as the Treaty of Nonsuch laid down. They had already secured for the States, through the appointment of Maurice as Admiral-General, full control over trade and naval affairs. Also, assisted by Elizabeth's refusal to help Leicester's friends, they had seized executive, as well as legislative and financial, power for the provincial States in each of the individual provinces (e.g., p. 3). What they had done in the individual provinces, they were determined to do also in the United Provinces as a whole. They did not, as did the English, fear to weaken the Council of State. On the contrary, they had learned from their experiences with Anjou and Leicester to see the most likely source of disorder, even of betrayal, precisely in that division of authority between the States and a half-foreign executive which the 1585 Treaty prescribed. They remembered the treason of Sir William Stanley and Rowland York in January 1587, and the turmoil caused by Leicester's intrigues later in the same year. It was therefore their purpose to subordinate the Council of State absolutely to the States General, to destroy the independent authority of the English Lieutenant, and to bring all the English “auxiliary” companies under their own direct control.
These views were given forcible expression in the replies which the States promptly made to Bodley on January 15 (pp. 42–43). (fn. 3) They would, they said, order their own sessions according to the rights and customs of the countries and the powers given by the provincial States to their deputies. Their present instructions to the Council of State, given after Leicester's resignation, did not infringe the Treaty. They had been framed in accordance with the views of the provincial States and such revision was necessary from time to time, as in other countries. The Queen's Lieutenant-General and her Assistant in the Council of State had and should have as full cognizance of the Council's resolutions as the native provincial governors and the native Councillors of State —an answer which ignored Bodley's point that many matters were now decided by the States without the Council's knowledge, and which, by equating the Lieutenant-General with an ordinary provincial governor, disregarded his special rights under the 1585 Treaty.
The answers about the States' opponents were in a similar vein. They were charged with serious offences: but they should have speedy justice and, if any asked for grace, Her Majesty's recommendations would be remembered so far as the state of the Countries allowed. Finally, the old grievances about the English forces were reiterated. When would the Queen perform her promises about the cautionary town governors and the drawing out of the supernumerary companies? The introduction of those companies into the cautionary towns was a breach of the Treaty and a wrong to the countries. Her Majesty must therefore bear the cost of their service money and all other extraordinary charges. No concessions could be made about customs and excise duties. The Queen should repay at once the advances made to her troops; but the States could accept no responsibility for the expenses of any forces sent over without their consent, as to Sluys in 1587 and Bergen-op-Zoom in 1588. They repeated their complaints about the companies' weakness and the corruption at their musters. They flatly refused to give the Lieutenant-General forewarning of the date of musters or to allow their own commissaries to attend any musters of which forewarning had been given.
These replies virtually ended Bodley's hopes of negotiating a general settlement. He and the States continued for another month to argue back and forth in further replies and counter-replies (pp. 66–69, 75–77, 121–123). This, however, only served to emphasise the divergence between English and Dutch ideas. For example, on January 28 the States told Bodley (p. 75) that the Governor of the Queen's assistance, her representatives in the Council of State, and the native councillors had no more right to quarrel with their instructions from the States than councillors of kingdoms had to dispute the instructions of their kings. Such disregard of the Treaty could not be allowed to stand unchallenged and Bodley therefore stated the English view of the legal position in a formal declaration on February 21 (pp. 119–121). While admitting explicitly that the States General were the absolute governors of the Provinces, he pointed out that they had contracted with Her Majesty to give a certain authority to her Lieutenant-General and the Council of State. By the 1585 Treaty the Lieutenant-General and Council of State were given a power of government limited only by the rights and privileges of the countries. They were to have authority over other governors pour éviter l'égalité. They were to have full control over all martial affairs. They were to appoint and discharge soldiers; change and supply garrisons; order musters; receive secret intelligences; supervise and order provincial governors, councils, towns, and admiralties in all things touching the wars by land or sea. They were to have the full disposal of the funds granted by the States. The Lieutenant-General, in short, should by the Treaty be not the mere “Governor of her Majesty's assistance” but, with the Council of State, the supreme executive authority for all matters concerning the wars. Having agreed with Her Majesty to grant the General and Council such powers, the States ought not, so long as the Treaty remained in force, to alter or diminish those powers unless they first obtained Her Majesty's consent. Until her consent had been obtained, her representatives could not accept the present instructions, but only the Treaty.
With this declaration, and two more memorials covering the same points as his first papers (pp. 121–123), Bodley secured the last word in this acrimonious debate. But that achievement brought a general settlement no whit the nearer. In matters of government, the Council of State's authority was daily whittled away or disregarded. The States intermeddled “with any matter, general or particular, as chief commanders and disposers therein” (p. 65), and without informing the Council of their proceedings (p. 80). An ambassador, who had been despatched and instructed by the Council when the States were not sitting, was on his return required to report direct to the States General (p. 67). Captains who obtained warrants from the Council had to go for their actual payment to the States of particular provinces, even to the magistrates of particular towns (p. 120). The States of Holland proceeded independently in their provincial affairs; Count Maurice and his council of war –set up without the Lieutenant-General's privity—acted likewise for the wars; and in general, as Gilpin put it, the Council of State was “in government nomine sed non re” (p. 140).
The authority of the Lieutenant-General, Lord Willoughby, was equally ignored—the States were, indeed, so hostile to him that Bodley deemed it useless to ask them to make him an allowance for his expenses in getting intelligences from enemy territory (p. 116). The States, while refusing to accept either the new English army establishment or the English regulations for musters, attempted to muster the auxiliary companies according to their own regulations. Nor could the English muster-master, James Digges, persuade them to appoint “committees” to confer with him about the past payments to the English forces. So, as he himself had no right of access either to the States or to the Council of State, he could make no progress at all towards getting an agreed settlement of the past years' accounts (pp. 8–9, 31–32, 60–62, 69).
Equally little headway could be made towards healing the Provinces' domestic feuds. Bodley could do nothing with the States of Holland on behalf of Saravia and his followers at Leyden (p. 80). Nor did he meet with much success in recommending to the States of Friesland the various petitions which Christopher Perceval had presented to the Queen on behalf of Dr. Hessel Aysma and his friends (pp. 2–6). The States' answer (pp. 106–108) met “in no part her highness' demand nor the interested party's request to have his matter handled by indifferent judges” (p. 141).
Only at Utrecht was a little progress made, and even there it was very slow. The city and province were still torn by disputes over religion and government (pp. 19, 114, 140, 148). Moreover, there were three separate authorities to be dealt with—the town magistrates, the provincial States, and the provincial governor Count Mors. Thus, when the States and magistrates granted Captain Cleerhagen his release, the Count still refused to let him out of prison unless he would sign what was virtually a full confession of treason (pp. 11–13). Again, Bodley's letters on behalf of the ex-burgomaster Deventer received no answer for some weeks owing to Mors' absence in Gelderland (pp. 31, 40). Nor did Deventer's own conduct assist his cause. Bis insolence, indeed, goaded the Utrecht authorities into producing fresh charges against him and imprisoning him more strictly. “His own vainglory,” Bodley wrote, “doth hurt him very much and doth make him advise his friends to such courses in his behalf as would turn in the end to their discredit and no good to himself” (pp. 80, 86). Nevertheless, on February 10 Bodley and Willoughby sent Richard Allen to Utrecht to see whether something more could not be done (pp. 102–103, 112). Allen found the Count, States, and magistrates much incensed against Deventer. They also professed to doubt whether Allen's requests really represented the Queen's wishes, since he brought no credentials from her. Yet he returned on February 20 with the impression that only an effectual letter from Her Majesty was now needed to secure the release of both the prisoners (pp. 130, 137). (fn. 4) Bodley, therefore, though not sharing this optimism, at once despatched him to England to get the wonder-working letter (p. 116). In the meantime, Deventer remained in prison (p. 141) but Cleerhagen was set free of all but his creditors (p. 156). This small success apart, however, the negotiations in the Netherlands had by the middle of February reached a deadlock at almost every point.
How was this deadlock to be ended? The English representatives in the Provinces were all convinced that only fear would bring the States to any satisfactory agreement. “There is nothing prevaileth with these but fear,” Willoughby wrote (p. 58). “Either we must be so strong here as of our strength they may fear us; or else so called home as that, their fear of the enemy increasing (which they as suddenly apprehend as they do their carelessness, being soon lifted up and soon thrown down), they may through the same fear be humbled to recall us upon better and more advantageous conditions.” But the English forces were too few to make themselves feared by their strength and Bodley reported that, since the Armada actions had committed Elizabeth to open war with Spain, many Dutchmen had come to believe that she was “so much interested in the cause as nothing will persuade her to leave them unassisted” (p. 51). Indeed, “they stand in opinion that her Majesty's forces are sent hither more for her own safety than for theirs. Which conceit of theirs,” Bodley added, “is rather confirmed than otherwise by reason of her often protestations to forsake them if they shall not yield to some petitions, and yet in the end nothing put in execution. That they might find a difference between Her Majesty pleased and displeased, under humble correction I could wish that they were never put in fear but when somewhat should follow” (p. 46).
Now in these early months of 1589 there were two matters over which the States had been put in fear and from which somewhat was following. The first was the withdrawal of certain of the English auxiliary companies to reinforce the Portugal Expedition. The States had of course agreed to this. (fn. 5) But Sir John Norris apparently failed to make his own government understand that this agreement was conditional upon 2,000 foot (13 companies) and 200 horse (2 companies) being left in Bergen-op-Zoom and 1,000 foot (7 companies) in Ostend. At all events, the Queen's first orders, which reached Willoughby on January 8, entirely ignored this condition. Indeed, Willoughby was informed that the Queen now intended to evacuate Ostend altogether, and that the States had promised to make good any deficiencies in the Bergen garrison (p. 29). (fn. 6) The States had protested promptly and vigorously, both to Willoughby (pp. 30, 40, 57–58) and, through their agent Ortel, to the Queen (pp. 33–34). As a result, the orders had at once been modified. The evacuation of Ostend had been countermanded (p. 22); the number of footbands to be withdrawn had been reduced from thirteen to ten; and these ten were chosen in such a manner as to provide the required numbers in Ostend and, with a reinforcement of 500 men from the bands supernumerary in Flushing, in Bergen also (pp. 71– 72).
The States' alarm and irritation, however, were by no means allayed. For Willoughby, in communicating the revised orders on February 8, chose to add a statement of his own, painting in the blackest possible colours their effect upon the English forces. By some very dubious arithmetic he had contrived to convince himself that he would be left with no more than 1,000 English auxiliary troops to garrison both Bergen and Ostend (p. 100). By informing the States of his conclusion (pp. 98, 110– 112), he quite spoiled the effect of the Queen's revised orders. The results for the Portugal Expedition were serious. The unhelpfulness of the Dutch authorities caused considerable delays (pp. 100–101, 111). A good part of the States' own promised contingent of ships and soldiers never left the Netherlands. Nor did the three English footbands which had been appointed to go from Bergen, for Sir Thomas Morgan, the governor there, obeyed the States' prohibition and would send none until he received an equivalent reinforcement from Flushing (pp. 98, 105–106). (fn. 7) Nevertheless, the remaining footbands and the horsebands did eventually embark. Somewhat, at least, had followed from the first subject over which the States had been put in fear.
The second matter seems to have caused even greater alarm. This was Elizabeth's decision to prohibit all trade, English or foreign, with the Spanish dominions in any goods likely to serve the enemy for supplying his shipping. Norris had informed the States of this decision in November (p. 8). On January 14 Bodley had invited them to join with the Queen in enforcing it and had warned them that any Dutch ships caught engaging in such traffic would be treated as lawful prizes (p. 38). Meanwhile, the prohibition was being enforced, not only by the Queen's ships, but also by a swarm of private adventurers whose self-interested enthusiasm was possibly a good deal more effective (p. 35). (fn. 8) English privateering and piracy, and the delays of the English Admiralty court in providing restitution, were of course perils to which Dutch traders were fairly well accustomed, though never reconciled (pp. 149–150, 160–163). But these new blockading measures carried a threat of an altogether new magnitude. Holland and Zeeland traders were beginning to pester the States for protection and redress (pp. 65, 157, 198), and the States General, dependent upon those two trading provinces for three-quarters of their revenues, were peculiarly sensitive to such clamours. Trade with the enemy, licensed and illicit, was a main source of Holland and Zeeland's prosperity; the licensing of it, the main source from which their naval forces were financed (p. 192). A threat to it was, indeed, as Gilpin said (p. 65) “the only way to make them know Her Majesty's force and means to do them good and harm.”
The effects of the withdrawals for Portugal and the embargo on trade with the enemy were soon evident in the States' diplomacy. After hearing Norris' statement, they had written rather anxiously to the Queen, asking that their merchants already in Spain or on the way thither, under licences given before the prohibition, should not be molested. They were anxious, too, that the embargo should not be limited to English and Dutch merchants (p. 8). In their answers to Bodley on January 15 they defined their attitude more clearly (p. 43). Trade with the enemy, they said, was essential to them as they had no gold or silver mines. The most that they could do would be to join the Queen in a prohibition limited to munitions, arms, and naval stores and applying to traders of all countries. Already “the stay of their shipping which is reported to be made by her Majesty's ships at sea and her ports doth much trouble them; and are come from divers parts to complain and require remedy” (p. 65). So, on January 24 they wrote to both the Queen and the Privy Council and instructed Ortel to press their views urgently in London, (fn. 9) Only the week before they had written to protest at the Queen's original orders for the Portugal withdrawals and to demand that she should order the cautionary town governors to send their auxiliary companies to Bergen and Ostend (pp. 45–46). So already the scope of their negotiations through Ortel was widening appreciably.
It soon broadened still further, for Ortel took the occasion to raise again many other matters in which the States were interested. He presented a series of “propositions” on February 2, (fn. 10) another series on February 15 (pp. 108–109), a few more at some other date during the month (p. 136), besides having a number of discussions with Burghley, Walsingham, and other Councillors (pp. 103, 130). Many of these propositions were mere repetitions of the old familiar grievances. Besides the complaint about the auxiliary companies in the cautionary towns, there were the usual allegations that the companies were very weak, the usual claim for prompt repayment of advances made to them, and the usual refusal to recognise their extraordinary allowances as sanctioned by Leicester. There were also the old demands that the Queen should by public declaration disavow any who set forward seditions or mutinies under pretence of being bound to her rather than to the States; that she should make the Geertruidenberg garrison obedient to the States of Holland; and that she should not give ear to malcontents who held no official position in the Provinces nor show favour to those condemned by the States. Most of this had been said, and answered, long enough ago—in the answers given to Voocht and Ortel on December 30 (fn. 11) and by Norris and Bodley direct to the States General.
But there were two of Ortel's propositions which afforded more opportunity for discussion. The first was the proposal (p. 108) that the passports of vessels passing to and fro the Spanish dominions might bring some advantage to the general cause. The idea, at least as it was elaborated a few weeks later (p. 192), appears to have been that the Dutch and the “Easterlings” should be allowed to trade to Spain in goods not harmful to Her Majesty, on condition of paying a custom for licence to pass the Narrow Seas. This might, it was thought, bring in as much as £200,000 a year. It would avoid the hostility of the Hanseatic merchants and the destruction of the trade from which the Dutch secured the revenues to maintain their naval forces. Ortel's further suggestion (p. 109), that suspected offenders should be tried by the Privy Council and that no goods should be taken out of their ships until after their conviction, might also avoid the irritation now caused by the weakness and delays of the Admiralty court.
Ortel's second constructive contribution was to repeat the suggestion, which he had made in the previous autumn, “for the changing of her Majesty's succours into a sum of money” (p. 144). What he now proposed was that the Queen should contribute a sum equal to one-third of the whole charge of the Netherlands' wars. This should be used, by the advice of the Council of State, either for the ordinary expenditure of the war or for maintaining “a good and royal camp” in the field for five or six months of each year.
Neither of these proposals seems to have met with a very hearty welcome from the Privy Council. The plan for making the Straits of Dover into an equivalent of the Danish Sound, interesting as it is to the historian, did not altogether attract them. They doubted (pp. 103, 145) “how it may stand with the treaties between her Majesty and other princes to exact such convoys,” and they seem to have suspected that in some way the States might enjoy the whole commodity of it and Her Majesty get no benefit for ease of her charge. They also felt that in any event such trade would hardly be safe while the numerous warships of the Portugal Expedition were lying off the coast of Spain. It would be better that all trade to Spain should be forborne for a few months, until the result of the Expedition could be seen.
Nor did the subsidy proposal greatly attract them. In general, they thought it a less safe course than the Treaty, “in respect of the assurance of her Majesty's cautionary towns and reimbursements.” In detail, they regarded “a third of the whole charge” as “a thing that was never thought or agreed on.” Experience, too, had shown that, even with the present English assistance, the States' ordinary contributions were never sufficient to pay their ordinary garrisons and there seemed little hope of providing a field force for even a couple of months. Further, if the States' two-thirds were not expended by the advice of the Council of State, like the Queen's one-third, she would have no real control over the use of her subsidy or the treatment of the voluntary English forces upon whom it was to be chiefly expended (pp. 144, 256).
The Privy Council, in short, still regarded the 1585 Treaty as the most satisfactory basis for the Anglo-Dutch alliance. Certainly there were in it defects and omissions which must be remedied. Some of its terms, too, might perhaps be modified to allow a larger share of authority to the States. At least, there were several hints that the English government might be prepared to discuss such modifications. There were the Queen's instructions to Bodley, where a lengthening of the States General's sessions had been spoken of almost as a possible alternative to enlarging the Council of State's powers. (fn. 12) There was also the very fact that the Privy Council were prepared to discuss the subsidy proposal as a means of reducing Her Majesty's charges (p. 103).
But whatever the exact terms of the revised treaty, the English government were convinced that a revised treaty there must be. The present wide difference between the relationship de facto and the relationship de jure could not be tolerated. The Queen could not continue to allow the States to tear up, as they were doing, any articles they pleased by unilateral action. That would be to condone all their former breaches of the Contract and to establish their interpretation of its terms for the past as well as for the future. The consesequences of this, and particularly the financial consequences, might be serious. By the Treaty the States were bound to repay eventually the Queen's expenses in maintaining the 5,000 foot and 1,000 horse of the auxiliary companies. But there were a good many items in the expenses which she had already incurred, which were not specifically covered by the Treaty as it stood (pp. 8–9, 32, 61, 143–147, 191–192, 249–251). (fn. 13) And in most things—except of course the exaction of customs and excise duties from the English soldiers—the States regarded things omitted as things prohibited. If they were allowed to establish this interpretation, Her Majesty, the muster-master said, might very well lose £20,000 on the last year's accounts alone when her expenses came to be repaid (p. 32).
Clearly, then, it was necessary for the Queen to get an agreed settlement of the accounts for the past years and an agreed revision of her future relations with the States. The question was, how was this to be done? Negotiation through Bodley was obviously useless, the States being unlikely to deal with an Assistant in their own Council of State whom they regarded as their servant. Negotiation through Ortel offered no better prospects, for he lacked the necessary powers and had constantly to refer back to the States. Yet the nature of his recent proposals suggested that the States, under pressure of the Portugal withdrawals and the seizures of their shipping, were now ready to consider the matters at issue in a manner which would offer at least a possible basis for discussion. Already, therefore, by the beginning of March the Privy Council seem to have reached the conclusion that two separate negotiations should be attempted. Lord Burgh, Bodley, and Gilpin should be commissioned to settle the past accounts with deputies to be appointed by the States. Other commissioners should be appointed by both parties to examine and redress by mutual consent the alleged breaches and the many defects and imperfections now observed in the 1585 Treaty (pp. 137,144).
Just as the English Privy Council were preparing to answer Ortel along these lines (pp. 137–138, 143–147), news arrived of a disaster in the Netherlands which seemed to confirm their worst fears about the state of the Provinces' government and defences. This disaster was the betrayal of Geertruidenberg. It is one of the most persistent of historical legends that the troops who betrayed this town were English. In fact the 300 horse and 350 foot, who made up its garrison, were the States' troops, originally placed there by Count Hohenlohe, though they had long since broken with him and quarrelled with the States. The original cause of the quarrel had been the usual one, lack of pay. Over this they had mutinied early in 1588, along with the other States' garrisons of Medemblik, Naarden, Heusden, Gorcum, Veere, and Arnemuiden. Like those other garrisons, they had then renounced their allegiance to the States and professed themselves the servants only of the Queen of England, though Elizabeth had given them no encouragement and had refused to take them into her pay. But, unlike those other garrisons, the garrison of Geertruidenberg had never been properly reduced to obedience. Instead, Willoughby, at the request of the States and Count Maurice, had patched up an agreement in July 1588. By this the mutineers were temporarily bought off but left in possession of the town, under the nominal command of Willoughby's brother-in-law, Sir John Wingfield. (fn. 14) Since then they had grown more and more unruly. Protests against their depredations came from all sides (pp. 205–207). (fn. 15) Wingfield, who was neither strong enough to master them nor wise enough to leave them, could do nothing to restrain their disorders (pp. 65, 169). There were rumours, too, that some of them were in communication with the enemy (pp. 200, 207).
It was clearly becoming urgent that something should be done to assure so important a place. Accordingly Maurice and Oldenbarnevelt now decided to attempt what they had refused to allow Willoughby to attempt in the previous summer (p. 173)—a quick coup de main to wrest Geertruidenberg from its garrison. At the end of February they gathered some 4,000 men, with thirty or more guns and large numbers of flat-bottomed boats. Ostensibly these forces were collected for some enterprise against the enemy and, secrecy being essential, Maurice said not a word to Willoughby, Bodley, the Council of State, or even the States General (pp. 141, 148, 155, 174).
But on March 5, after vainly trying to beguile the horsemen out of the town (pp. 142, 159), he appeared under the walls of Geertruidenberg. Next morning he summoned the garrison to surrender (pp. 154, 156). He was answered by a scornful refusal, while inside the town Wingfield was virtually made a prisoner and his authority was transferred to a council of captains (p. 195). Thus Maurice had to sit down to besiege them in regular form (pp. 167–168). Meanwhile, Parma had begun to move and 4,000 Spanish troops were concentrating at Breda (pp. 156, 166, 171, 182). On March 21, therefore, Maurice began a four days' bombardment by land and floating batteries and “a weak device” of “fireworks and other artificial engines.” Then on March 25 he launched a full-scale assault. It was heavily repulsed and, with the Spaniards approaching, he had to abandon his siege and retire towards Dordrecht (pp. 171, 194–196) (fn. 16) On March 31 the mutineers came to terms with Parma (pp. 186–187) and within another week the Spaniards were in full control of Geertruidenberg (pp. 204, 217).
The military consequences of this betrayal looked likely to be disastrous. Hitherto Parma's forces, since their repulse at Bergen-op-Zoom in the previous autumn, had hardly stirred from their winter quarters. There had been rumours of their preparation of “a great number of ‘ice-spurs’ to come on the ice to do in the frost some sudden exploit” (p. 10). (fn. 17) But most of them were in no condition for exploits. Even the Spanish tercios had been reduced to want and misery by the delay in the arrival of their pay and by the poverty of the regions where they were quartered (pp. 45, 118). (fn. 18) Moreover, since the assassination of the Duke and Cardinal of Guise, the King of Spain had forbidden Parma to engage his army at all deeply in the Netherlands, lest it should be unable to go to the rescue of the Holy League in France. (fn. 19) This anxiety about France, and also his uncertainty about the real objective of Drake and Norris' preparations in England, had compelled Parma to keep the bulk of his troops disengaged and within easy reach of both the French frontier and the Flemish coast (pp. 45, 118, 158, 189). (fn. 20) It had forced him also to send small contributions of men and money to the League and the Duke of Lorraine (pp. 62, 65, 96, 135–136, 208) and several whole regiments with artillery to Spain itself (pp. 10, 16, 132). Thus, apart from the ordinary seasonal rumours of impending attacks upon Bergen (pp. 98–99, 117), Ostend (pp. 102, 118), or the isles of Zeeland (p. 114), little had been heard of Parma's forces, “so still doth he keep all on his side” (pp. 65, 114).
The betrayal of Geertruidenberg, however, had “waked the sleeping dog” (p. 218). It had also given him a rare opportunity to bite hard and deep. It is true that Parma's financial difficulties were almost as great as ever. The 1,200,000 crowns, which Philip II had at length promised him, had not yet arrived. Besides that, the grant, in itself barely sufficient for the current year's expenses, was vitiated by an accompanying order that none of it should be used to repay the loans which had already been raised upon its security. This restriction went far to blight Parma's hopes, for although he did pledge some of the grant to repay his creditors, he was again told that no more than the 1,200,000 crowns would be sent this year. Every satisfaction of a creditor thus meant so much the less for the summer's campaign. (fn. 21)
To Parma's enemies these financial difficulties, though not unknown, were less clearly apparent (pp. 158, 166, 222, 224, 243–244). What they could see was that the acquisition of Geertruidenberg had given him a most menacing advantage, just when the campaigning season was due to open and just when the progress of events in France might momentarily allay his anxiety for the safety of the League, (fn. 22) He was now, in early April, master of the middlemost of those three advanced bastions— Bergen-op-Zoom, Geertruidenberg, and Heusden—which guarded the approaches to the Maas-Waal water barrier, the main defence line of the Dutch Republic. Nor did he lack forces to drive home his advantage. In Flanders La Motte still had in the field (pp. 224, 226) a good part of the 5,000 or 6,000 men with whom he had attempted to surprise Ostend late in March (pp. 118, 185, 199, 202). Between Breda and s'Hertogenbosch Count Charles Mansfelt had the six foot regiments and the fifteen troops of horse (fn. 23) which had secured Geertruidenberg and now threatened equally Tholen and Bergen (pp. 157, 167, 185), Dordrecht and Gorcum (pp. 200, 211), Heusden and Bommel (pp. 218, 270–271). Away to the east Count Warembon with another 6,000 men menaced Rheinberg and Blienbeck and, only less immediately, Arnhem and all Gelderland (pp. 188, 271). Farther north there was Colonel Verdugo, who from Groningen might strike southwards towards Gelderland and Overijsel or westwards into Friesland (p. 156). Finally there were the famous Spanish tercios themselves, still in their winter quarters in Brabant and Flanders, from whence they might quickly march to join either La Motte or Mansfelt, or even Warembon.
To meet these many threats, the States' means looked wholly inadequate. It seemed, as usual, impossible for them both to reinforce their garrisons so as to deny the enemy decisive initial successes, and at the same time to assemble a field army powerful enough to give him battle when the direction of his main offensive should be revealed. The annual cost of their ordinary garrisons was already some £50,000 more than the total of their ordinary contributions, and little more than this £50,000 could ever be extracted from the Provinces by way of extraordinary contributions (pp. 144, 238). So, to provide a field force meant to deplete the garrisons, as Maurice had done for his Geertruidenberg enterprise. Yet, even after depleting many garrisons until they had barely thirty men to keep watch at night (p. 155), Maurice's force numbered only 4,000 men (p. 154). Even if, as the States hoped, Mors and Schenk could spare another 1,000 and money could be found to levy 2,000 more, (fn. 24) the largest field force that they could muster would only number 7,000. Such a force would be little more than the equal of any one of the three enemy concentrations under La Motte, Mansfelt, and Warembon, behind whom there was still the whole strength of the as yet inactive Spanish tercios. (fn. 25)
If the prospects for the field were discouraging, the state of the Provinces and their garrisons was positively alarming. Heusden was none too well provisioned. Bergen was weakened by “domestical discords” between Sir Thomas Morgan and his captains, and perhaps endangered by the doubtful loyalty of Captain Salisbury (pp. 167, 196, 204, 222, 223). Behind the great rivers there was confusion as well as weakness. Zeeland's garrisons had been stripped to provide forces for Maurice (p. 167). At Flushing the weakened English garrison lacked a governor (p. 225) and were quarrelling with their Dutch neighbours at Middelburg (p. 200). Of Holland, the chief bulwark and treasury of Dutch resistance, John Gylles wrote a little later, on May 12, “I never did see Holland in so ill a state, for there is neither men nor money nor yet good government and the hearts of the people fall wholly from their governors” (p. 272). Farther east, Bommel and the small towns of the Betuwe were ready to compound with the enemy (pp. 221, 271, 286). Utrecht, too, was still torn by political and religious quarrels which Mors and deputies from the States General had as yet been unable to appease (pp. 156, 271). (fn. 26)
If the Spaniards could once push past Heusden and the great rivers, it seemed that the weakness of the Betuwe and the dissensions of Utrecht might let him right through to Amsterdam and the Zuyder Zee. Besides this, Holland might well be laid open to attack from the east. For the garrisons of Gelderland and over the Ijsel were so ill-supplied and disorderly that many towns were loth to admit a soldier within their walls (pp. 156, 271). In these regions, too, the rivalry and division of command between Mors and Schenk, whose demands the States had not yet satisfied, was inconvenient and might prove dangerous (pp. 156, 196). (fn. 27) And in the extreme north-east Verdugo levied almost as large a contribution as the States did from Friesland. There only the eight fortified towns were outside his control, while the peasants and even the shippers on the Zuyder Zee paid him blackmail (pp. 141, 183–184). (fn. 28) Indeed, as Bodley wrote on April 1 (p. 195), “the state of these Provinces is weaker at this present than it hath been these many years and unless by her Majesty's extraordinary assistance and counsel it be presently holpen, there is little appearance that they can hold it out long.”
This was a most unwelcome prospect for Elizabeth to face just now as the Portugal Expedition was putting to sea and a critical situation was developing in Prance. It was made doubly unwelcome by the conduct of the Dutch leaders. The prompt protests of Willoughby (p. 154) and Bodley (p. 167) against the unwisdom of their “forcible course,” had convinced many of the States that “all is done in Geertruidenberg with her Majesty's good liking” (p. 155). The suspicion was unjust. The Geertruidenberg garrison, with a few exceptions, were neither the Queen's subjects nor in her pay. Wingfield, though her subject, was no traitor. Willoughby, just leaving for England when the siege began and fallen from his onetime favour with the States, may have felt some sympathy with the mutineers' grievances. Yet he had spent himself to reduce them to obedience and now possessed little influence over them. Above all, the whole trend of Elizabeth's policy over the past fifteen months was proof of her desire to see the Provinces, as she now urged the burghers of Dordrecht (p. 235), “maintain all good union together under the general government of the States.”
Nevertheless, the suspicion existed and was used by Maurice and Oldenbarnevelt to cover their own failure by blaming it upon their ally (p. 222). They filled “the people's ears that all such places that are kept in her Majesty's name will take the like effect” (p. 200). That was the tenor of the placart against the mutineers, which was drafted by Oldenbarnevelt and published on April 7 O.S., without the knowledge of the Council of State (pp. 205–208). (fn. 29) In this placart the conduct of Willoughby and Bodley was presented in a most unfavourable light, while Wingfield and—by a mistake (pp. 222, 272)— Sir Francis Vere were included in the list of traitors upon whose heads a price was set. If the States' rashness had lost them Geertruidenberg and jeopardised their defences, their attempts to shift the blame for the loss on to their ally certainly made it no easier for Elizabeth to come to their rescue.
The Queen had already attempted, during the siege of Geertruidenberg, to turn the States back from their rash enterprise. But whatever chance of success her intervention might have had, was destroyed by a series of delaying accidents. To begin with, westerly winds stopped all sailings from Holland and Zeeland to England throughout the first fortnight of March (p. 155). Willoughby, for example, on his way home for the short leave granted to him in January (p. 22), reached Flushing on March 1 (fn. 30) but could not get across to England until March 14. (fn. 31) It was not, therefore, until nine days after Maurice appeared before Geertruidenberg that reliable news of the siege reached the English court.
When the news did arrive, Elizabeth acted promptly. On March 16 she wrote to Maurice and the States General, (fn. 32) protesting vigorously at their adopting so desperate a remedy without informing her servants or the Council of State. She required them at once “to surcease all violent actions” and by conference with Bodley to resolve “how, with reasonable offers on your parts and conditions to be demanded and prescribed to the said town, the same may be preserved from the enemy and reduced to be under your government.” This advice was reiterated by the Privy Council to Ortel (fn. 33) and again in their reply of March 23 (pp. 172–174) to Maurice's somewhat belated explanations written on March 12 (pp. 159–160). Maurice's accusations against Wingfield and his insinuations against Willoughby were rebutted in a full defence of their conduct, based upon the cross-examination of Willoughby by the Privy Council in the presence of Ortel. This was followed by a firm condemnation of Maurice's own proceedings. “This attempt hath been strangely conducted. Provisions made and men levied with pretence to have taken some town from the enemies, but the course hath been changed without the knowledge of her Majesty's governor or councillor amongst the States, yea without any privity of the Council of Estates: and all this bent upon a town serviceable for the country; and more spent to hazard the loss of a town of your own than this many years hath been to recover any from the enemy.” Whatever the outcome might be, the Queen saw no reason to allow of the attempt and she again required Maurice to abandon violence and seek to satisfy the garrison so far as was reasonable.
English policy was thus clear. Experience with the Geertruidenberg mutineers in 1588 had taught the Queen, as her Council told Ortel, that it was “very dangerous to press them by violence, because thereby they might be easily occasioned to revolt to the enemy.” The only hope of avoiding such a disaster was, in her view, for Bodley to use her influence, as Willoughby had done in July 1588, to bring the town to reasonable terms. Whether Bodley could thus have done in March 1589 what Willoughby had done in July 1588, is admittedly very doubtful. The mutineers' respect for the English was not, however, completely destroyed until Maurice, after his repulse on March 25, revealed Willoughby's ancient promise of 4 June 1588 to secure the town for the States. Only after that did the garrison begin to answer Parma's signal fires and send three envoys to treat with him for the town's surrender (p. 195). (fn. 34) Until then, all hope that they might listen to Bodley was not perhaps quite dead. Nor can it be unhesitatingly assumed that the Queen's urgent letters would not have moved the States to give Bodley his chance. All that is certain is that the States would not, until too late, listen to offers of mediation made upon Bodley's own initiative (pp. 155, 182, 194). And such offers were, in fact, all that he was able to make. For he was left throughout the siege without any instructions from home (pp. 168, 195).
This was no fault of Elizabeth's. She had written to him, as well as to Maurice and the States, on March 16 as soon as she heard the first news. But owing to the obstructive slackness of Captain Scott, of her pinnace the Spy, and Captain Riggs, of the Achates, the messenger bearing her letters was prevented from reaching Bodley until April 3. (fn. 35) So, by the time Bodley delivered the letters to the States, Geertruidenberg had already come to terms with Parma. Whatever slight chance of success Elizabeth's intervention might have had, had been destroyed by the nine days' delay in the arrival of the first news of the siege and by the eighteen days' delay in the delivery of even her first instructions to Bodley, by a most un-Protestant wind and a pair of lazy sea dogs.
The Queen's final effort was made in letters written to Bodley and to the Geertruidenberg garrison on April 12, four days after news had come that the town was treating with Parma but before its final loss had been confirmed (pp. 212–214). These letters of course arrived far too late (on April 22) to do any good. They are, however, interesting for their clear indication that, even then, the Queen was not prepared to adopt the one solution which might perhaps, earlier, have appeased the mutineers. For the original draft of the letter to the garrison “was misliked by her Majesty by reason of one word, which was that it was written that her Majesty did take upon her to see them satisfied: instead whereof she would have put in that she promised assuredly so to deal with the States that they should satisfy them, or else she would take the injury as done to herself.” But it was perhaps too much to expect that Elizabeth should at this moment spend £20,000 or £30,000—getting on for a quarter of her covenanted expenditure on the Netherlands and a tenth of her ordinary revenue—for the privilege of counting the Geertruidenberg mutineers among her soldiers and relieving the States from the penalties of their own policy.
The English government were as well aware as Bodley what those penalties might be. When Geertruidenberg was lost, they, too, feared that the Dutch Republic might not be able to hold out long “unless by her Majesty's extraordinary assistance and counsel it be presently holpen.” For the remainder of the period covered by this volume of the Calendar their problem was to discover, and to persuade the States to accept, such “counsel” as would reduce to a minimum the Provinces' need for “extraordinary assistance” of more material sort.
To discover such counsel was not a long task, for the Geertruidenberg episode had confirmed the Queen and her servants in their former convictions. As Gilpin put it in a letter of April 5 (p. 200), of which Burghley by his underlinings showed his approval, there were five things needful. There must be established in the Provinces an authority “to have commandment and direction in all things, especially concerning the matters of state and wars.” The Treaty must be maintained, and complaints from either side of its violation or imperfections must be examined and satisfied. The Lord General, properly “provided and seconded,” should be sent back to his post. “All disorders, whereof complaint is made,” should be redressed. And the States should, “at a pinch,” be “somewhat assisted.”
The more difficult problem was, how to persuade the States to accept the earlier parts of this counsel? The questions of establishing an efficient authority and of remedying the defects of the Treaty clearly went together, and on these the Privy Council had decided its course even before the Geertruidenberg disaster occurred. They should be settled by the formal negotiation of a revised Treaty between English and Dutch commissioners (pp. 137, 144). This was the proposal that was communicated to Ortel at the beginning of April. (fn. 36) He was then told that, in view of his own suggestions for altering the Contract and the form of Her Majesty's assistance, as well as of the doubts about the sense of some of the articles, the Queen, continuing her purpose of help against the common enemy, wished the States to send over two or three persons with ample commission to treat with those she would appoint. These commissioners might also treat of “how the manner of traffic on the seas may be hereafter established,” though for this summer there should be a general stay made of all trade to Spain “until the end be seen of the journey made by Sir John Norris and Sir Francis Drake.”
At the same time Ortel was informed (fn. 37) that the Queen wished the States to appoint other commissioners to confer in the Netherlands with Lord Burgh, Bodley, and Gilpin for a final clearing of the accounts for the past years. The settlement of future relations was thus to be kept separate, so far as possible, from the settlement of the old financial quarrels. This process of “breaking down” the problems was carried still farther by the decision to despatch Noel de Caron to make yet another effort, by negotiations with the provincial authorities in the Netherlands, to secure justice for Leicester's unfortunate adherents (pp. 18, 189, 214).
The news of Geertruidenberg's betrayal did not change this idea of a threefold negotiation. But it did move the English government to make a more vigorous effort to get the negotiations started. A suggestion had already been made to them that, instead of waiting for commissioners to come to England, the Queen should despatch a “person of countenance” to the States to arrange a revision of the Treaty and a reformation of their government (pp. 191–192). On April 9 this suggestion was again taken up by Ortel (p. 210). “This most unhappy accident lately fallen in Holland” might, he feared, cause a “marvellous alteration” and drive the States “to some extraordinary course,” unless a person “qualified and well reputed for sufficiency and integrity” were promptly sent over. After some consideration, the Queen decided to adopt this course. On April 27 she instructed Bodley (p. 235) to inform the States General that she was sending a nobleman to treat with them for the remedy of the defects in their government and its restoration to its former state at the time when the United Provinces were taken into her protection. This nobleman—it was in fact to be Buckhurst—would arrive at the Hague about May 25. The States General should then be ready there to meet him, with full authority to conclude without any of the customary delays. With these instructions the Queen also sent a number of letters to Dordrecht and other towns, urging them “to maintain all good union together under the general government of the States.” Bodley was to distribute these to whatever towns he deemed best, by someone who could show by speech Her Majesty's great care for their preservation.
Meanwhile in England the Privy Councillors were busy preparing a number of detailed memoranda to assist Buckhurst in his task. In these papers were catalogued the States' contraventions of the Treaty; the complaints which they had made against the English; the disorders and defaults in the Provinces' government; and the obscurities, incommodities, and disadvantages to Her Majesty in the existing Treaty and how they might be helped by explanation (pp. 229–230, 237–238, 238–239). Most of the points made were the familiar ones which Bodley, Digges, and the Council themselves had long been making. The Queen's Lieutenant-General and the Council of State should be given their former authority to consult, resolve, and execute without delays. The States should not take upon themselves to act as an executive body without the General and Council's privity in matters of state and war. The Treaty's omissions and imperfections should be remedied, so as to assure the full reimbursement of Her Majesty's expenses in the Provinces' behalf. There were in fact only two novelties. The first was Beale and Clerk's suggestion that the revised Treaty should set down specifically what forces the States, as well as the Queen, should maintain, so that the garrisons could be kept complete and a force of 12,000 or 14,000 men put into the field in the summer (p. 238). The second was the question whether, now Flanders and Brabant were lost, “her Majesty have sufficient assurance to be answered her money wholly from the rest of the Provinces and every of them, to prevent the inconvenience which may happen when they shall object that they will answer only for their parts, and drive her Majesty to seek it pro rata from the rest of the Provinces recovered from them, as in like cases they have done” (p. 239).
It is, however, the very familiarity of their contents which makes these papers significant. For it shows the Queen and Council as being more than ever convinced that their correct Netherlands policy was, while accepting the States General as “absolute governors,” to insist upon the establishment of an efficient central executive such as the Treaty had sought to provide in the Lieutenant-General and Council of State. To the Queen and her Council, Geertruidenberg had proved conclusively the truth of Gilpin's opinion that “to assist these men with money, if authority be not joined and established thereunto, it will be so much cast away.” (fn. 38)
To prevent the money already spent from being cast away, the Queen's commission had also been sent earlier in April for Burgh, Bodley, and Gilpin to clear the past accounts by conference with deputies of the States (p. 205). Bodley had informed the States of this on April 22 and had asked that their deputies should be ready for the first conference by May 10. (fn. 39) Meanwhile, Caron had actually arrived at the Hague and had audience with the States General on April 15. (fn. 40) So, by the beginning of May, all three negotiations were in train. Caron's had already begun; Burgh, Bodley, and Gilpin were hoping to begin theirs by May 10; and Buckhurst was to reach the Hague by May 25.
Then, suddenly, the whole course was altered. On the evening of May 1 news arrived from Bodley, written on April 22, (fn. 41) that the States were sending Egmond, Loosen, and Valcke on a special embassy to the Queen (p. 251). The States had decided on this embassy as long ago as February 20 and had approved its provisional instructions on March 6. (fn. 42) Its purpose then had been simply to deal about the seizures of Dutch shipping and the question of trade to Spain. The envoys, however, had not been named until April 18 (fn. 43) —an indication, perhaps, of the dislocation caused by the Geertruidenberg affair. When Bodley wrote on April 22, their final instructions had still not been settled. But a week earlier, on April 15, Oldenbarnevelt had met Bodley and “upon occasion of speech between us for the loss of Geertruidenberg, of himself he requested me to enter into communication with him about the redress of all matters, to the satisfaction of her Majesty and the country.” He had showed none of his usual “violent, imperious, and bitter” manner (p. 79). He seemed, indeed, “very weary of that course that he has taken” and, Bodley wrote, “I stand in hope to do a great deal of good” (pp. 218–219). With Oldenbarnevelt himself in such a mood, there was reason to expect that the envoys' instructions might now be enlarged into that ample commission which the Queen had desired.
This impression was probably confirmed by the communications received at this time from the States and Ortel. There were quite a number of these. On April 14 the States had replied to the Queen's letter of March 16 (pp. 216–217). On April 18 they had written again, in reply to the Privy Council's answers to Ortel's propositions. (fn. 44) On April 19 they had sent to Ortel a copy of their reply to Caron. (fn. 45) Finally, on May 2 Ortel presented to the Privy Council articles in which most of the contents of these letters were summarised (pp. 254–256). Now, in all this there was, again, little or nothing that was new. Nor was there any unusual readiness to meet the Queen's views on matters of government. Nevertheless, the articles and the letters did cover fairly comprehensively the questions at issue, at least as those questions appeared to the States. The English government, therefore, assumed—perhaps too readily but not unnaturally—that the envoys would also come with comprehensive commissions.
If that were so, there was obviously little to be gained by sending Buckhurst to the Netherlands. His mission was accordingly cancelled. The clearing of past accounts with the States by Burgh, Bodley, and Gilpin was also postponed (p. 251) and, of the three negotiations, only Caron's continued. As already mentioned, Caron had had audience with the States General on April 15 and again on April 17. He had then protested against the indignities offered to Willoughby and the disregard of the Council of State. He had also urged the States to have a special care for Bergen and to maintain good relations with the English. This he had done, however, upon oral instructions only, for he had no credentials to the States General. (fn. 45) His real business lay elsewhere, with the provincial authorities, and at the end of April he moved on to Utrecht (p. 225). There he found that Cleerhagen had already been released (p. 277) and, after a month's negotiation, he secured a promise that Deventer should also be set free (pp. 275, 314–319). This promise was performed early in July, when Deventer was banished for ever from Utrecht (pp. 380–381). Meanwhile, Caron had returned to the Hague on May 26, where he met Count William Louis and obtained a promise, whose performance was to prove more dilatory, of some satisfaction for Dr. Hessel Aysma (pp. 278, 344). His other requests, to the States of Holland on behalf of Colonel Sonoy and the men of Leyden, met with less success. Nevertheless, by the time he left for England at the end of June (p. 350), Caron had done something to silence the mutterings of the old quarrels. Utrecht, at least, was rid of Deventer and Cleerhagen. (fn. 46)
This, however, was almost the only diplomatic progress that was made during the remainder of the period covered by this volume of the Calendar. In the main negotiations nothing, of course, could be done until the States' envoys had reached England on May 18 and presented their credentials to the Queen on May 23. Next day they delivered their instructions to Walsingham (p. 283) and on May 25 began their conferences with the Privy Council. At once it became apparent that little progress could be made with them either, for they had no commission to deal with what the Privy Council called “matters of state.” Their instructions were simply to protest against the seizures of Dutch ships and to get an agreement regulating trade to Spain and Portugal for the future. They were also to ask that the English companies should be brought to full strength and the bands returned from Portugal by June 1 (pp. 283, 309–310). Beyond this, they were provided with documents on the Geertruidenberg affair (p. 288) and with a lengthy justification of the States' actions since 1586, designed to demonstrate the dangerous intrigues of Leicester and his adherents: but these were for information rather than for discussion. Their actual powers were thus limited to “sea causes” and the request for the reinforcement of the English companies. (fn. 47)
This was very different from what the English government had expected when they cancelled Buckhurst's mission. They could, of course, ply the Dutch envoys with questions about the condition of the Provinces and complaints about the conduct of the States (pp. 284–285, 287, 294–296, 310). But any negotiation for the reform of government or the revision of the Treaty was out of the question. Therefore, on June 20 the Queen wrote to the States General (p. 333), and her Council instructed Bodley (pp. 328–329), to urge them to give their envoys ampler charge or to send someone with ampler charge to join them.
With their instructions to Bodley the Council enclosed “certain general heads of matters fit to be treated between the Queen and the United Provinces” (p. 325), on which the envoys should be empowered to deal. These summed up very succinctly the present aims of English policy towards the Netherlands. First came the raising by the States of enough troops to supply their garrisons and provide a field force for four months every summer. Then, the raising, ordering, and managing of the contributions to pay these forces. Next, the better ordering of both the States' and the English forces in matters of discipline, pay, and musters. After that, the reformation of errors and abuses in the civil government of the Provinces; the settlement of grievances on both sides about trade and convoys; and security for Her Majesty's eventual reimbursement. Finally, the explanation of doubts and the supplying of defects in the Treaty.
These “general heads” Bodley was to communicate to the States, to give them an idea of what was expected. But they were not to be regarded as exhausting the points upon which their envoys should be empowered to deal. Along with them, the Council sent a paper of “particular points” for the “amendment and explaining of the Contract” (pp. 304–308), which Bodley might communicate, as of himself, to anyone whom he thought fit.
This second paper was divided into three parts. First there were articles touching the English in the Netherlands. The States should accept for the past and the future the rates of pay set down in the English establishment and settle what “checks” were to be made for deficiencies in the companies' numbers. They should allow the pay of the officers of the field and the service money of the cautionary town garrisons. They should provide the fortifications, artillery, and munitions in those towns and allow the Queen to reinforce them at need. The auxiliary bands should be assured of decent billets on their marches; victuals in the field at the same prices as in the garrisons; and special places of garrison when not serving in the field. They and the Dutch troops should be subject to common rules of discipline. Resident English and Dutch commissaries, to be changed every six months, should be established in all English garrisons. The time for which the auxiliary forces were to remain in the Netherlands should also be set down for certain. Finally, every six months the army accounts should be cleared by English and Dutch commissioners and the States' debt to the Queen acknowledged by public act, each province binding itself for the whole amount— this Burghley considered “one of the principal articles.”
The second part of the paper was concerned with the United Provinces and their government. The States should be bound to keep ordinary garrisons of 20,000 foot and 1,400 horse and provide a field force of 7,000 foot, 2,000 horse, and 1,000 pioneers for four months in the summer. To ensure the most effective use of these forces and of Her Majesty's 5,000 foot and 1,000 horse, certain reforms in government were needful. The Provinces should send their deputies to the States General fully empowered to treat and conclude, without reference back, on all matters except taxation. Brabant and Flanders should be allowed a voice in their deliberations. The Queen's General and the Council of State should have a civil and military authority as ample as that ever given to the Governors in Charles V.'s time. Their instructions should be framed by the States General and themselves and ratified by Her Majesty. They should have command of the Dutch as well as the English forces, and the entire and absolute managing of all finances, including convoys and licences from trade. The Council of State should, for the benefit of its English members, deliberate and keep its records in French or Latin, and the Queen's General should have a veto in all matters concerning Her Majesty or her subjects.
In its third part the paper dealt with “sea causes.” It detailed the goods—munitions, victuals, naval stores—whose transportation to the Spanish dominions should be prohibited upon pain of confiscation. It suggested that vessels above a certain size should not be allowed to go thither at all and that only a limited number of any sort should be allowed to go at any one time. The Queen should have all confiscations made by her officers.
Here, then, was a detailed and authoritative (fn. 48) statement of what the Queen and her Council meant by a revision of the Treaty and a reformation of the Provinces' government. It was, however, something very different from what the States intended. There could be no doubt that, even if they agreed to negotiations so comprehensive, the bargaining would prove very hard. The first step was to get them to negotiate at all. Here their attitude was not encouraging—and Oldenbarnevelt had long since recovered from his good humour of April 15 (pp. 311, 380). Bodley presented the Queen's letter to them on July 4 (p. 369). The “general heads” he communicated orally, referring the States to the copy sent over by their own envoys, since he had received these heads only in English and wished to avoid any diversity in translations (p. 372). This the States seized on as an excuse for delay. They could not, they said (pp. 369–370), reply until they were officially informed of Her Majesty's pleasure. Meanwhile, they renewed their complaints about the Queen's forces and the cautionary towns, and their demand for a proclamation against mutinies. Bodley, however, was not thus to be put off and, in face of his protests (p. 372), the States General resolved on July 8 (pp. 372–373) to send the articles to the provincial States, their principals, to learn their opinions.
That final example of the “customary delays” was as far as the matter had gone by the time this volume of the Calendar closes. The “particular points” Bodley and Gilpin thought it best to keep to themselves for the present, as some points “are sufficiently provided for already, some not practicable among them, and some others that will but minister occasion of jealousy and suspicion and yet make very little for the weal and good of the country” (p. 380).
In Bodley's opinion, then, some of the details, at least, in his government's policy for the future assistance and government of the United Provinces were likely to prove impracticable. Certainly, the actual situation presented a very different picture from that outlined in the two papers which the Council had sent to him. For eighteen months and more the States, thanks in part to Elizabeth's acquiescence, had been gradually establishing and organising their own authority and destroying all rival authorities. And, since Willoughby left for England at the end of February, they had been able to do this virtually unchecked. For it was less than ever possible to maintain the authority of the Lord General and Council of State when there was no Lord General in the Netherlands to defend the rights of his office (p. 191).
In April, for example, a new Admiralty college was set up at the Hague to superintend and co-ordinate the provincial admiralties. This gave the final touch to the Council of State's exclusion from all control and knowledge of trade and naval affairs, matters “of most importance as a chief strength of this state and most necessary,” Gilpin thought, “that her Majesty's ministers should be ever therewith acquainted” (p. 323). Much the same happened in military affairs. In the General's absence, there was no English officer who had anything more than a very limited commission. Indeed, none of them could claim even to command all the English auxiliary forces, which therefore fell more and more under the States' control. Sir Francis Vere, the sergeant-major-general, had charge only of such English companies as were serving in the field, while Morgan at Bergen, Conway at Ostend, Burgh at the Brielle, and Borlas, the temporary governor of Flushing, had of course no authority outside their own garrisons (pp. III, 288).
Nor was there any really outstanding Dutch general (pp. 276, 400), for the young Count Maurice had yet to establish his superiority. Yet there were a number of commanders whose reputations and influence were sufficient to make them largely independent of the enfeebled and civilian Council of State. This “multiplicity of commandment” often proved a serious inconvenience. Thus, plans for reinforcing Schenk with some of Mörs' troops in June went awry because Mors had already engaged his men in some other enterprise without informing the Council. Again, a grant for the fortifications at Ostend was delayed for over six weeks by a dispute between Holland and Zeeland in which, as it concerned an extraordinary contribution, the Council could not intervene. Most Dutchmen were ready to admit the inconveniences of such a system, or lack of system (p. 323). But they did not therefore agree that the corect remedy was to vest supreme military authority once again in the English General. The States party much preferred to rely upon the somewhat loose co-operation of Count Maurice, Count Mors, and Count William Louis, held together by themselves, and particularly by the States of Holland, as the common paymasters.
In any event, it was useless to urge the Dutch to accept the English General as their supreme commander when he was not there to exercise the command. For this reason, Burghley had sought to persuade Willoughby in May to return to the Netherlands. Willoughby, however, flatly refused to go back until “those of the States that have blamed me in print should clear me in print.” Besides, he considered that the present forces in the Provinces were too small and his commission too limited to be worthy of his rank and place. He therefore desired that “I may be, as the manner is, called to resign my office and receive my discounts” (p. 288). (fn. 49) His offer of resignation was not accepted and early in June he had to resist further urgent pressure from the Privy Council for his return. (fn. 50) At the same time considerable efforts were made to remove the major obstacle by getting the States to “clear him in print.” This was by no means an easy task and Bodley, who on the Council's instructions took up the matter direct with the States on June 5 (p. 310), (fn. 51) could get very little satisfaction (pp. 329–330). The Privy Council itself, however, made more headway with the States' envoys (pp. 333, 344). They had, in fact, almost reached an agreement when “the coming forth of his lordship's apology brake off that purpose” (p. 404). As a result, Willoughby was still in England at the end of July.
Thus, from February onwards the field was clear for the States party to establish in practice their own interpretation of the Treaty so far as it concerned their government, and even to some extent so far as it concerned the control of the English auxiliary forces. It looks, too, as if some at least of the English officers now remaining in the Provinces were becoming reconciled to such a situation. This is not particularly noticeable in Bodley and Gilpin, but there are indications of such a change in attitude among those who were not at the centre of affairs nor subject directly to Oldenbarnevelt's ill-temper and malicious wit (pp. 311, 380). Vere, for instance, seems to have been a good deal more ready to accept the States' orders than Willoughby thought proper (pp. 400–401). Morgan, too, who had obeyed the States in not releasing his companies for Portugal, now obeyed them again in releasing troops to join Vere in the field (p. 279). His bad relations with Willoughby (pp. 204, 223, 252, 319– 320) probably left him little desire to see the Lord General come back as supreme commander. Again, when Russell's secretary, Adrian Vasseur, got himself into trouble with the States of Zeeland, Borlas and Errington agreed that there were too many of “these busy-headed men that do more hurt than good in this town, thinking they do her Majesty service in railing upon the States in disordered speeches.” Such fellows “trouble the whole state” (pp. 314, 327, 337). So, with the return to England of touchy “persons of countenance” like Willoughby and Russell, who could never quite forget the spacious days of Governor-General Leicester, the goodwill and common sense of lesser Englishmen was given a chance to assert itself. In this respect, at least, there was more hope for the future in the Lord General's continued absence than in the English government's desire to send him back with the full authority which the Treaty allowed.
The future of the Anglo-Dutch alliance depended, however, upon Dutch, as well as upon English, goodwill. And Dutch goodwill could hardly develop until the States were satisfied that the English government was doing everything in its power to keep the English auxiliary forces at full strength and in good order. Now, hitherto, no very obvious efforts had been made to satisfy them on this point. It is true that in August 1588, the Queen had attempted to check abuses in the musters by ordering payment of the weekly lendings, or imprests, to be made by poll, partly in money, partly in victuals; and by ruling that lendings for those absent should not be paid until their return. But this order had aroused such a storm of protest that its enforcement had eventually been left to the Lord General Willoughby's discretion. (fn. 52) As a result, at Flushing it was ignored altogether (p. 170) and, though some of its provisions were enforced elsewhere, it does not appear that lendings for the absent were withheld until their return in any of the garrisons (pp. 274, 362). Moreover, while this reform was thus being shelved, the Queen and her Council seem to have regained their confidence that the companies were fair and full, as Willoughby and the muster-master, James Digges, assured them (p. 32). (fn. 53) It would, after all, have been most inconvenient, at the end of 1588 or the beginning of 1589, to discover that large reinforcements were required in the Netherlands.
Nevertheless, as 1589 wore on it became more and more difficult to deny that there was a good deal of justice in the States' complaints. Even the muster rolls revealed obvious weaknesses and abuses. A muster of the Bergen garrison in March may be taken as an example. This showed (p. 178) a defect, for which “checks” could be deducted from the lendings, of only 145 on a total of 2,115 pays. But of the remaining 1,970 for whom the Queen was charged, 247 were recorded as absent in England or in Holland or Zeeland or “on hazard”; 217 were Netherlander or other aliens; and 85 were sick. So there remained 1,421 “able Englishmen.” From these a further 211 (10 per cent. of 2,115) must be deducted for “dead pays,” which leaves little more than 1,200 live Englishmen present and fit for service. The true effective strength of the garrison cannot have been very much more than this 1,200. For, though a proportion of the 247 recorded as “absent” might be real soldiers who would eventually return to duty, a good many of them were likely to be no more than names fraudulently entered in the rolls to cover defects (p. 281). Nor could many of the aliens be reckoned as effectives. They often performed no regular duties and merely “put themselves in captains' rolls, without any pay, that they might go a-freebooting” (pp. 82, 243). It was therefore improbable that the figure of 1,200 could be greatly increased from either of these two sources.
This, at all events, was the opinion of those who had means to know the truth. For example, Morgan, in writing to Walsingham just before this Bergen muster, reckoned the true strength of his garrison at only 1,300 and asked for a supply of at least 400 foot and 120 horse to complete the companies (p. 167). Again, Errington in February asked for 150 men (p. 98) and Borlas in June for 300 or 400 (p. 314) to complete the Flushing companies, though a muster taken on April 12 showed a defect of only 42, apart from the 225 “absent” and the 83 aliens (pp. 215–216). There seems no doubt that there were, as the States alleged, many abuses in the English musters. (fn. 54) The muster-master himself, although he asserted that the bands had never been stronger, repeatedly accused the commissaries of slackness and corruption (pp. 32, 281, 339). Moreover, the lack of any clear directions, since Leicester's regulations had lapsed, made frauds the easier by weakening the muster-master's disciplinary authority and leaving him and the commissaries with only “the rule of discretion” to guide them (pp. 31–32).
How great those frauds might be was strikingly suggested in March 1589, upon the arrival in England of the companies withdrawn for the Portugal Expedition. That the horsebands would be weak had, of course, been anticipated. And weak they certainly were, for the nominal 450 horsemen proved in fact to be no more than 267 (p. 159) and more than 50 of these had no horses (p. 142). What had not been expected was that some of the footbands would be equally weak. Yet only 40 of Captain Anthony Sherley's company arrived from Ostend (p. 377) and only 74 of Captain Champernon's from Utrecht (fn. 55) (p. 142), though each should have numbered 135 (i.e., 150 less 15 dead pays). Now, these two companies may have been exceptional. But they do not seem to have been unique, for Morgan later said that Captain Salisbury's band at Bergen did not amount in reality to more than 87 or 88 men (p. 340); and even the commissary of musters at Flushing admitted in June that more than half of the bands there brought a bare 100 men to the watch (p. 300).
It looks as if it was the musters of these Portugal companies which first seriously disturbed the English government's complacency. At all events, from that time onwards signs begin to appear of a great deal of investigation and a certain amount of action. In April Willoughby, now in England, prepared papers for Burghley on the alleged malpractices and extortions of the Treasurer-at-wars and of the contractors who supplied victuals and clothing to the forces (pp. 219–220, 258–259). At the same time William Borlas was sent to take a general muster of all the garrisons (pp. 226, 242). This did not, as it happened, provide a very reliable check upon the accuracy of the ordinary musters. For the muster-master detected in Borlas' returns more than the usual signs of laxity and corruption (p. 281). Indeed, Borlas himself complained of the corruption and obstructiveness of the commissaries, and confessed that the nine companies at Flushing, entered as complete in his books, would not make up seven full companies (pp. 262, 349). Nevertheless, this general muster served to strengthen the already strong suspicion that all was not well. It again showed far too many aliens in the companies, even though it did not count Scots among the aliens—and the “many broken needy companies” of Scots were now a dishonest captain's chief resource for filling his ranks on muster days, being “very easy to be hired for such a purpose, the rather for that the nearness of their language is such as they can hardly be discerned” (p. 281). The general muster also showed that an excessive number were still allowed as “absent”—600 in the footbands and 140 in the three troops of horse (p. 243).
Among the absent, too, were many captains and officers. In the early months of 1589 there had, in fact, been more captains absent than present. Several were absent from Bergen even in April (p. 225). Ostend in January had only one present besides the governor (p. 42), though two or three returned later (pp. 209, 226, 257). The Brielle in January had none but the governor and lieutenant-governor (p. 74). Flushing in February had only two besides the deputy-governor (p. 158). This, as Borlas remarked, was “the overthrow of all good discipline” (p. 243) and at the end of April the Privy Council, through Willoughby, ordered all the absent captains to return at once to their posts (pp. 225, 252). Some men were also sent over at the same time to replenish the Bergen companies (p. 279).
Discipline, moreover, was not very good even among the captains who were present. At Flushing, since Russell's return to England at the end of January (p. 98), there was only a deputy-governor to keep them in order. At Ostend several captains were on bad terms with their governor, Sir John Conway (pp. 14, 226–227, 259–260, 301), though the Privy Council paid little heed to their tale-bearing (p. 226). At Bergen many officers had taken Willoughby's side in his quarrel with their governor, Sir Thomas Morgan (pp. 204, 223, 319–320), and one of them, Captain Salisbury, was even reported to be dealing with the enemy (pp. 106, 196). It only required Captain Hunnings and several Englishmen from Geertruidenberg to seek refuge in the town to convince the States that another betrayal was imminent (pp. 262, 278). Their fears were much exaggerated (p. 290). But, as soon as the Queen received their remonstrances, she took swift action to restore Morgan's authority. On May 18 she instructed Bodley to investigate and reform the disorders, giving him an open letter to command the garrison to obey their governor (p. 277). Bodley, with Gilpin and deputies from the States, at once went to Bergen and were able fairly easily to restore harmony and discipline (pp. 280, 289, 290). Bergen being thus ordered and reinforced, the government next turned their attention to Ostend and Flushing. In June 500 men were sent to the former town (pp. 293, 298, 381); and on June 27 Sir Robert Sidney was appointed and given his instructions (p. 343) to succeed Russell as governor of Flushing.
Meanwhile, stimulated by the evidence of Borlas' musters and the States' envoys' complaints (pp. 309–310, 395), the Privy Council were considering a comprehensive reform of the arrangements for mustering, victualling, clothing, and paying the English forces in the Netherlands (pp. 274–275, 308–309, 311–312, 328, 352–353). This bore fruit in July, when the return of the forces from Portugal gave an opportunity for a fresh start. First, the seven footbands were ordered back to their garrisons in the Netherlands. Then, provision was made to bring all the footbands up to their full strength. Bergen having been already reinforced, this concerned chiefly Ostend and Flushing, where deficiencies were now to be made good from the 500 men recently sent to Ostend. Further, the six weak horsebands (nominally 600 men) withdrawn in March, were now to be transformed into eight new footbands (1,200 men). These were to be raised partly from any surplus left on the Ostend 500, but mainly from the companies levied in England for the Portugal voyage and now returned. Having thus provided that the English forces in the Netherlands should be brought to full strength—and, indeed, that their numbers should be somewhat augmented—the Privy Council next attended to their supply and mustering. To ensure that their victuals should be as good and as cheap as those of the inhabitants of the towns where they were stationed, an officer or two were to be appointed in each garrison to examine them with the help of the clerk of the town market. Two examiners of apparel were also to be appointed in London to inspect and seal every “fardel” of clothing before it was sent over (pp. 328, 376–378).
Finally, the Privy Council ordered that, as soon as the seven old and eight new footbands had returned to the Low Countries, a strict general muster should be taken (pp. 398–400). James Digges' services being required in England, two of his commissaries, Thomas Wyatt and John Sparrowhawk, were sent over on July 27 to conduct this general muster. They were given a new set of strict regulations for their present guidance and for observance by all in the future.
These regulations required a weekly muster for every company, recorded on a roll showing the names of those present, with the defects in their armour and weapons; the names of those absent, with the time and reason of their absence; and a note of the numbers deficient, after allowing for 10 dead pays in every 100 men. This roll, signed by the commissary and countersigned by the town governor, was to be sent every week to the Treasurer-at-wars, who would make payment according to it. The States' commissaries were to be required to join in taking the musters and signing the rolls, and a signed copy was to be sent to the Council of State. The Council of State, in its turn, was to send to the Lord Treasurer quarterly certificates of the checks and defects of each company. Furthermore, it was laid down that no one should be allowed lendings unless he was present and properly armed. No more than six aliens were to be permitted in a company. Nor were more than six absent to be allowed, and even then only if they had passports given by the governor and registered with the commissary. No one was to be allowed absent for more than six weeks in a year, and freebooting was to be no excuse for absence unless the expedition were made on the governor's orders by a good number of men under a captain or lieutenant. Those absent sick were to be allowed upon certificate of the fourrier or the host of their house.
The lendings were to be paid by poll. The captain, lieutenant, and ensign were to receive their full pay weekly (42s., 21s., and 10s. 6d.). The rest were to continue to receive only a part, by way of imprest—the sergeants, drummers, and surgeon 5s. of their 7s., the ordinary soldiers 2s. with 8d. worth of victuals out of their 5s. 8d. The captain was also to receive 48s. 10d. weekly by way of dead pays, to be distributed as Leicester had ordered (p. 378) to reward officers, corporals, gentlemen, and musketeers, checks being made for any defects in these categories. Lendings for the total numbers deficient were to be retained by the Treasurer-at-wars. Those lawfully absent were not to be paid until their return, and any who overstayed their leave were to lose their lendings from the day of their departure. Finally, that each soldier should receive his weekly due, the Treasurer-at-wars or his deputy was to deliver the money every week in some open space to the captain, lieutenant, ensign, or clerk, in the presence of the sergeants and corporals or of six of the longest-service soldiers and gentlemen of the company. Any who hindered the weekly musters were to be suspended and put out of pay.
These orders obviously provided for a very drastic reform of the English system of musters. Many of their provisions were, it is true, not new, but they were now codified and backed by the highest authority. Whether that authority would suffice to turn these paper reforms into honest practice, still remained to be seen. Certainly, there was need also to encourage obedience to them by granting the full pay whose long postponement must have tempted many officers to find other policies preferable to honesty. For the companies had now been living for more than two years on their bare weekly lendings. Their last full pay, made in the spring of 1587, had settled their accounts only up to Michaelmas, 1586. Few therefore had received as much as two-thirds of the sums due to them since that date (p. 263), and it was becoming more and more difficult even for honest captains to keep their companies properly armed and supplied or to bring men over from England to replace normal wastage (pp. 190–191, 324, 339). Indeed, more than one captain had pleaded his debts to local creditors as an excuse for not going on the Portugal Expedition (pp. 52, 59); and of £12,894 due to officers in the Netherlands for the year which ended at Michaelmas, 1587, at least £3,472 was owed by them to their creditors (p. 253).
Preparations to make a full pay for the two years up to Michaelmas, 1588, had long been going on. James Digges, the muster-master, had completed his list of the checks (pp. 2497–251). The Treasurers-at-wars, Sir Thomas Sherley and his dying predecessor Richard Huddilston, were busy completing their accounts and getting them audited (pp. 52, 82–84, 175–177, 258–259, 411). But until these accounts had been accepted by the States, the English government was naturally reluctant to make a full pay upon them. The slowness and difficulty of negotiations with the States was thus a considerable hindrance to the redress of the disorders in the English forces as well as to the Queen's desire for a reformation of the government of the United Provinces.
It remains to be seen how far the English government acted upon the last part of Gilpin's advice—that the States “at a pinch” might be “somewhat assisted.” Such assistance was not given lavishly, but when the pinch was severe the minimum help necessary was usually forthcoming. This may be seen at Ostend. That town was, of course, already garrisoned by English troops. The States, however, were legally responsible for the upkeep of the fortifications and, in the Queen's view, they were also responsible for any necessary reinforcement of the garrison (pp. 22, 29). Yet, during the Geertruidenberg crisis when La Motte attempted to surprise Ostend (pp. 185, 202), Elizabeth had promptly levied 1,500 men in England for its relief (pp. 187, 192–193). This levy had been cancelled when La Motte retired (p. 199), but the Queen's care continued. The captains of the 1,500 were kept in attendance at court (p. 293) and Borlas and Carlisle were sent over to report on the state of Ostend. The Queen was certainly reluctant to shoulder the whole burden of its reinforcement and repair—Borlas and Carlisle estimated that three more companies and an expenditure of £5,000 on the works would be needed (pp. 243, 268). Yet she was equally reluctant to abandon the town, even though it seemed as if the States “will do just nothing” (p. 276).
So, at the beginning of May the Privy Council instructed Bodley to press the States again to see to the repairs (p. 251). At the same time they told Conway that Ostend must be abandoned if he considered it untenable without large reinforcements from England (p. 248). Conway took the hint and replied that, whereas five or six more companies would be needed to cover an evacuation, he could with such a reinforcement hold the town, even against a siege and even if no major repairs were made, until the winter storms made possible a really effective demolition of the harbour (pp. 259, 266–267). Soon after this reply was received, La Motte made another demonstration, on May 15 (pp. 276, 284). A little later news came from Bodley that on May 1 the States General had voted 5,000 gulden for the repairs (pp. 273–274, 278), (fn. 56) though the payment of this money was in fact delayed for some six weeks by a petty squabble between Holland and Zeeland (pp. 322–323).
The Queen therefore decided to accept responsibility for the reinforcements required. On June 1 the Privy Council informed Conway (p. 293) that 500 men—three foot companies with an extra 50 “disbanded” men— were being sent from England and that two or three Flushing bands were also being held in readiness in case contrary winds delayed the 500. They further promised to urge the Queen to grant money for the repairs, though nothing came of this now that the States' 5,000 gulden were at last available (p. 372). The 500 men, however, duly arrived at Ostend by June 24 (pp. 339, 381). The States could thus feel reasonably sure that their own inadequate forces would not be called upon to defend this isolated outpost.
Meanwhile, their need for assistance elsewhere had not yet become urgent. For the enemy were very slow to exploit the advantage which the betrayal of Geertruidenberg had given them. The reasons for this slowness were partly financial, partly personal. (fn. 57) The promised 1,200,000 crowns had not yet arrived from Spain and the Antwerp bankers refused to grant any more credit (pp. 243, 275, 292, 337–338). As a result, Parma's troops were on the verge of mutiny and he dared not order them out of their garrisons except when he could scrape together an instalment of their arrears of pay (pp. 280, 299, 338, 396). Until well into July, therefore, he could put only very limited forces into the field (pp. 322, 339) and most of these had to be employed in purely local operations (p. 312). La Motte's men, for instance, were paid for by grants from Bruges and other towns, given for the specific purpose of attacking Ostend (pp. 224, 248, 276, 284), and Verdugo's troops in the north-east were similarly tied to their local paymasters.
Thus, apart from Warembon's thirty-one rather disorderly companies away to the east (p. 324), the only real striking force was Mansfelt's six regiments of foot and fifteen troops of horse which had been got together, on earlier credits from the Antwerp bankers (p. 222), for the Geertruidenberg operation. Even Parma himself could hardly have achieved spectacular results with such forces. And, as it happened, he had this summer to leave the command to inferior leaders who lacked his authority and his genius. For, after taking Geertruidenberg, he became so ill with dropsy that he had to seek a cure at the Spa (pp. 243, 266, 272, 282), where he lay for the next six months, often too unwell even to transact essential business (pp. 336, 359).
So the Spaniards were forr long unable to seize what was perhaps their greatest, and was certainly to prove their last, chance of reducing the rebellious United Provinces. Mansfelt did advance to within three miles of Heusden on April 16 but, after failing to force his way across the Old Maas (pp. 223–224), he did nothing more until early May. He then seized Douveren sconce and Hemert castle and so threw some of his troops over the river on either side of Heusden, while another detachment threatened Bommel. Yet even now his forces were considerably dispersed and he seemed more intent upon cutting off the States' river trade than upon besieging Heusden (pp. 270–272, 276, 279). Then early in June the flooding of the Old Maas forced him to withdraw somewhat and enabled Count Maurice to sail supplies and reinforcements into the town (pp. 311, 323, 328).
Maurice's own forces were too weak for him to do much more than observe Mansfelt's movements. But at least the States' danger on the Maas and Waal was not yet acute (pp. 271, 322–323, 373). They were thus able to reinforce Colonel Schenk against Warembon, who was battering Blienbeck and keeping Rheinberg blockaded (pp. 271, 322). Fresh levies were hard to raise among an unwilling population (pp. 280, 286), though some 1,600 men, whom Colonel Clant had been raising for a semi-private enterprise in Friesland (p. 311), (fn. 58) were now diverted to Schenk. But, with Mansfelt committed before Heusden and Bommel, Count Mors could spare some troops from the Gelderland garrisons and Sir Thomas Morgan, his authority now re-established by the Queen's intervention, could release three horsebands and a company of foot under Sir Francis Vere from the English garrison of Bergen-op-Zoom (pp. 279, 280, 289). Vere left Bergen on May 29. The belated arrival of the Gelderland troops (pp. 311, 323) prevented the relief of Blienbeck, which fell to Warembon on June 14 (p. 338). (fn. 59) But that was the limit of Warembon's success. For the next few weeks he stood baffled before the inferior forces of Schenk and Vere, strongly entrenched around Rees (pp. 339, 391). Then, on July 18, his summer's work was partly undone when Schenk and Vere by a skilful manoeuvre marched four months' supplies and some reinforcements into Rheinberg (pp. 391, 400) (fn. 60) The eastern front was thus secured and part of Schenk's troops and all Vere's English became available for service elsewhere.
It was only just in time. For Mansfelt had again begun to move. In mid-July, after a repulse at Herwijnen, he had suddenly seized Brakel and Poieroyen and now seemed bent upon a serious effort to breach the river defences of Holland and Zeeland (pp. 380–381, 391–392). The States were at their wits' end to find forces to oppose him. Vere's men and those Schenk could spare were only a handful. Count William Louis, busy with a very successful little campaign against Verdugo on the Ems estuary (pp. 344, 373, 392), (fn. 61) could spare none at all. Nor could the already depleted garrisons yield many. So the States turned to the English. They pressed the Queen to send over instantly the companies now returned from Portugal (p. 390). They also wrote urgently, with Bodley's support (pp. 384–385), to the Brielle, Flushing, and Ostend for two companies from each of those towns (pp. 390–391, 406).
Yet, even if these troops were all to come promptly, the States' forces would still be very inadequate. For it was not merely Mansfelt's six regiments that were now taking the offensive (pp. 384–385, 396). Parma, somewhat recovered though still at the Spa (pp. 373, 396), had just received news that a considerable instalment of his 1,200,000 crowns was actually on the way to Brussels. With this as security, he had induced the Antwerp bankers to advance two months' pay for his soldiery, (fn. 62) So, at dawn on July 29 the Spanish tercios and the Italians marched out of their garrisons to join Mansfelt before Heusden (pp. 396, 401, 407). Just a week earlier King Henry III of France had been assassinated and Parma was thus freed from any necessity to hold back his forces for the succour of the Holy League. For the first time since the fall of Antwerp and Philip II's decision to send the Armada against England, he had his full strength in the field and was free to launch it against the rebellious Provinces. The goal looked almost open in front of him and it seemed inevitable that, as Vere wrote (p. 400), “if her Majesty help them not with more men, this winter the enemy will have good footing in Holland.”
This crisis, perhaps potentially the most dangerous that had yet threatened the United Provinces, can only have added point to Elizabeth's desire to see their government reformed and their military organisation strengthened. She would now undoubtedly be called upon to assist not only the States but also the new Protestant King of France. Nor could she be deaf to that call. The French Channel coast was as vital to England as the seaports of the Netherlands. Yet England's military power and financial means were limited. The Dutch therefore would in future have to make the utmost of their own resources, so that they would need to call for English assistance as seldom and for as little as possible.
In the event, of course, this crisis was to pass away as quickly as it had arisen and its consequences were to be even more distracting to Spain than to England. For in August a mutiny among the Spanish tercios put an abrupt end to Mansfelt's offensive. By the time order had been restored, the opportunity had passed. A Protestant King, thanks largely to Elizabeth's support, was by then rapidly gaining the upper hand in France and Parma was never again to be able to give the Dutch his undivided, or even his first, attention. The States were thus to be able to secure their position, even to go over to the offensive, without any drastic remodelling of their organisation or any full return to the 1585 Treaty, such as Elizabeth had desired. And once this ability became manifest, the Queen gradually came to accept the untidy and unwieldy system of government which had been slowly establishing itself in practice since Leicester's recall. That, however, is a later story, whose very beginning lies beyond the limits of this volume of the Calendar.
The accession of the Protestant Henry of Navarre to the French throne on 23 July 1589, completed that fusion of the Royalist and Huguenot interests in France, which English policy had long been seeking to hasten (p. 91). Elizabeth, indeed, had done her best to bring about such a fusion six months earlier, immediately after Henry Ill's execution of the Duke and Cardinal of Guise in December 1588. For on December 24 Walsingham had informed Sir Edward Stafford, the English ambassador in France, that the Queen meant “to send a gentleman over to comfort and encourage the King to proceed thoroughly as well to a severe correction of his corrupt subjects as also to prosecute his enemies abroad in princely sort.” If, he added, Stafford should “find the humours there as well disposed to embrace such a course as they are here, it will then prove a match.” (fn. 63)
At that time, however, Henry III was in no humour to “how a princely resolution to go thorough with the matter.” (fn. 64) He was much cast down by the death of his mother, Catherine de Medici. He was also suffering from a malady which made him reluctant to get upon his horseback and follow up his blow against the League's head by vigorous action in mid-winter against its momentarily bewildered members (p. 80). It seems clear, too, that he was bent upon a policy very different from that desired by Elizabeth. He seems to have hoped that he might step into Guise's place; make the League a royal and national, instead of a party, organisation; and use it to re-establish both royal authority and religious unity in his kingdom (p. 7).
In such a policy there would be little room for cooperation with the Protestant Queen of England. And, in fact, Stafford found the King so “nice in having the intelligence between them known to the world for a season” that Elizabeth decided not to send her special envoy. She did write to the Bang, particularly to inquire whether Guise's papers revealed any designs against England (cf. p. 93). But at the same time, on December 29, she considerably modified Stafford's instructions. He was now to refer in general terms to her willingness to assist the King, but was to make no overt suggestion of an alliance with Navarre, though secretly he should do all he could to further it. As for co-operation against Spain, all that he was now to ask was that Henry III should forbid the export of French corn to Spain, on the pretext that it was required for his own armies. As an earnest of the Queen's determination to stop such exports whatever he might decide, he was to be informed that six French corn ships had already been seized and to be offered the choice between letting the owners sell the cargoes in England or have them released on giving surety not to go to Spain. (fn. 65)
Stafford found his negotiation somewhat slow work. In common with all the other ambassadors, he was kept at arm's length and not allowed to come to the court throughout January, though his man William Lyly was permitted to remain at Blois (pp. 26, 69–71, 74, 80–81, 92). It was thus more than three weeks before, at the very end of January, he obtained any answer from the King. Nor was that answer very encouraging when it did arrive. Henry III made no objection to the seizure of the six ships, but he refused to impose his own ban upon exports to Spain (pp. 80–81, 95). Moreover, he sent word secretly to Stafford that “he was half-discontented that in this time her Majesty would write unto him, having no cipher, that which, being taken (as everything now is subject unto that), they [i.e., his enemies] mought make their profit of, as [they] do.” Stafford seems to have approved of the King's caution, indeed, of his policy in general— “I think, if God have not somewhat in his secret judgement against him, [he] will ruin them all.” He also believed that the King was very secretly establishing contact with Navarre and “that in all likelihood all yet turneth only to the King of Navarre's good” (pp. 93–94, 96).
Others were less impressed by the wisdom of Henry III's policy. Lyly reported that the Venetian ambassador “wonderfully overweighed me (being advocate for the King) with apparent reasons upon past accidents, and the greatest his wants and slackness” (p. 70). Châteauneuf, too, seems to have been of this opinion (p. 126). Certainly, for six or seven weeks after the Guises' assassination the King had made little active effort to follow up that first blow. He had waited four weeks before by a local truce he disengaged Nevers' army from its campaign against the Huguenots (p. 26). Then he waited another fortnight before bringing it to Blois (p. 85). As a result, he had lacked the forces to suppress the rebelHon of Orleans, upon which, as Stafford saw, “doth all the rest depend” (pp. 17, 85). This setback at Orleans did spur him in the last days of January to proclaim Mayenne and the other League leaders as traitors; to summon all his nobility to join him with all the forces they could muster (pp. 70–71, 92, 96) (fn. 66); and to despatch Sancy to raise troops in Switzerland (p. 124). Yet even now he clung to his policy of Catholic royalism. He sent the Bishop of Le Mans to appease the Pope (pp. 71, 78) and studiously avoided any open approach to Navarre.
The time had passed for such halting measures. The nobility and gentry showed no undue haste to rally to their temporising King (pp. 85, 96) and Nevers' army was rapidly disintegrating. Nevers himself now followed Retz and La Chatre into an ambiguous neutrality. Several of his chief officers went over openly to the League, taking whole regiments with them, and the only fruit of the army's belated summons to Blois was that considerable areas south of the Loire were virtually abandoned to the Huguenots and Épernon (pp. 24, 70, 73, 78, 94). North of the Loire it was the League which profited by the King's inaction. The Duke of Mayenne, having escaped arrest at Lyons (p. 17), had made his way to Paris (pp. 63, 96), where the League party headed by the Aumales had already seized power and declared violently against the King (pp. 6, 15, 33). The example of Paris and the success at Orleans encouraged a widespread revolt in the northern provinces. Soon, from Rennes in the west (p. 182) to Amiens (p. 44) and Lyons (p. 63) in the east, there were “few towns but are either against the King or will have no garrison at all” (p. 97). Early in February the government of these rebel towns and provinces was organised under a Council General of the Union, sitting at Paris with Mayenne as Lieutenant-Governor of the Kingdom (pp. 89, 179–80, 188). It looked as if the whole of northern France, including the Channel ports (pp. 44, 103), might soon form a compact Catholic state allied to and dependent upon Spain.
Such developments seriously alarmed Elizabeth, and her alarm was only increased when Henry III gave his ambassador, Châteauneuf, leave to return to France (p. 55). She therefore took up again the idea of sending a special envoy to urge the King to more vigorous action. Edward Wootton was chosen and on February 4 instructions (pp. 91–92) were drafted for him to go over with Chateauneuf and to urge Henry to an alliance with Navarre, the German princes, and any Italian states which might be willing to oppose the ambition of Spain. Yet even now the Queen did not wish to alienate the King by too brusque an approach and therefore, before allowing either Wootton or Chateauneuf to depart, she waited to hear from Stafford whether such a mission would be welcomed (p. 97). (fn. 67)
From this point onwards the course of Elizabeth's diplomacy is not easy to trace exactly, for there seem to be very few papers, either at the Public Record Office or the British Museum, relating to French affairs. (fn. 68) Certain secondary matters are clear enough. Thus, the Queen detained Chateauneuf in England on various pretexts until late in April (pp. 125–126). (fn. 69) She also paid considerable attention to the French Channel ports. She offered help to Gourdain, the governor of Calais (pp. 123, 198) and sent some supplies to de Chatte at Dieppe, where the merchant Ottywell Smyth was established as a semiofficial English agent (pp. 151, 165). The broader aspects of policy are less clear. But it is fairly certain that Wootton did not go to France—Stafford's report on February 5 of the King's reception of the Queen's former letters can hardly have encouraged such a mission. It looks, in fact, as if Elizabeth again yielded to the King's wishes and continued to negotiate, when she could, in the normal manner through Stafford. The results were not very remarkable. In the middle of February Stafford did at last obtain an audience with the King, when, according to the Spanish ambassador, (fn. 70) he condoled upon the death of the Queen Mother and offered Elizabeth's assistance in general terms. After his audience he had an hour's conversation with the Secretary, Revol, but no great matter seems to have resulted.
Events, however, were soon to compel Henry III to turn to Elizabeth and Navarre. A final effort at negotiation with Mayenne through the papal legate failed (pp. 180, 196). The Duke, with 1,800 lansknechts from Parma (pp. 96, 208) and more considerable forces raised by Paris, was beginning to assemble at Étampes an army little inferior to that which the King had at Blois (pp. 188, 203, 220). He was also levying troops with Spanish money in Germany and Switzerland (pp. 188, 208) and sending Dean Brisson to seek papal aid. So, early in March, Stafford was granted another audience, (fn. 71) perhaps several audiences, at which he apparently offered the Queen's good offices to secure a levy of German mercenaries for the King and reiterated her determination to seize French ships trading to Spain. This time the King was more ready to listen. He wrote to Stafford on March 12 that, though it would be useless for him to forbid trade to Spain, his subjects could hardly complain if they took the risk and were caught (pp. 177–178). He also asked that the Queen would use her promised good offices in Germany to assist him to raise troops there. (fn. 72) It seems, too, that he asked Stafford to press the Queen for a loan of 150,000 crowns to levy 5,000 horse and 6,000 foot, raising this a little later to a higher figure, to provide 8,000 horse and 14,000 foot. (fn. 73) For this purpose, though ostensibly for private reasons, Stafford was given the King's leave to return to England. On his way home he spent three weeks with the Bang of Navarre (fn. 74) and during that time direct, though still secret, negotiations began between the two Kings (p. 171). Whether Stafford played any part in these negotiations, it is impossible to say. But before he embarked at La Rochelle, he was informed by du Pin of the terms of the agreement, signed on March 24, by whose secret articles Henry III and Henry of Navarre agreed to turn their combined arms against the League. (fn. 75)
Henry III had thus at last decided upon that cooperation with the Protestants to which Elizabeth had so long been urging him. But the Queen's pleasure at his readiness to dance to a tune of her calling must have been considerably impaired if Stafford did, in fact, tell her on his return that she was required to contribute more than £27,000 towards paying the piper. For Stafford landed, very seasick, at Dartmouth on April 8 (p. 209), the day that news reached the English court of the betrayal of Geertruidenberg to Parma (p. 172) and two days after the Portugal Expedition, whose sailing was already two months overdue, had been driven back to Plymouth by contrary winds.
Fortunately for Elizabeth, Henry III did not at once follow up his requests to Stafford. Not until early in June did an envoy, de Buhy, arrive (p. 297) to ask formally for assistance. By then the situation in France had altered completely. In April the advance of Mayenne's army had compelled Henry III to publish his truce with the Huguenots and stage a public reconciliation with Navarre at Plessis-les-Tours on April 20 (pp. 236–237). Eight days later the arrival of Chatillon's Huguenot arquebusiers had frustrated the League's attempt to capture Henry III at Tours and next morning Mayenne had “parted like nobody without sound of trumpet or drum” (pp. 244–245). His retreat marked the turn of the tide. In May he was recalled to the Île de France to steady Parisian nerves, badly shaken by Longueville and La Noue's defeat of Aumâle at Senlis on May 7 (pp. 245, 291).
The League now had no organised army in the field between the Loire and Paris, and the King therefore “devint en un moment maistre de la campagne, ce qui fit que toutes choses se changérent.” (fn. 76) On June 13 (fn. 77) the royal armies stormed Jargeau, on June 15 Pluviers (p. 334). Chartres thereupon opened its gates (p. 351), leaving Orleans isolated. At that moment news that Mayenne was marching to attack Longueville spurred the Kings to an immediate advance to Étampes, where their presence threatened Paris itself. This brought Mayenne rushing back, but, with his forces weakened by desertions, he dared not risk a battle. Once again he drew back and on June 20 Étampes was stormed and pillaged (pp. 334–336). By this time, too, Sancy with 14,000 Swiss had joined Longueville in Champagne and together they were advancing against Paris (p. 335). The situation had certainly changed since the King, a bare two months earlier, had summoned the Huguenots to his rescue at Tours.
Even in the Channel ports, isolated from one another and cut off from the King by the main bloc of League territory, the prospects were brightening. The League was making some slight progress in Brittany and at the end of May Mercoeur even captured the King's lieutenant there, the Count of Soissons (p. 285). But elsewhere the King's supporters were at least holding their own. Calais was fairly secure. Bernet was able to preserve Boulogne, thanks to a grant of £300 from Elizabeth with which, early in May, he raised a company of foot among the Huguenot refugees in England (pp. 202, 211–212, 260, 275). Montpensier had gained control of most of western Normandy and the governor of Le Havre still hesitated to declare for the League (pp. 221, 363). The Rouen Leaguers were therefore too busied elsewhere to turn their full strength against Dieppe (pp. 203, 220–221, 227–228, 230–231, 342).
The King's need was therefore no longer desperate by the time that de Buhy arrived to ask Elizabeth for a loan of 250,000 crowns—some £45,000 sterling. At that moment the Queen could not put her hands on such a sum. As the Privy Council told de Buhy on June 14, (fn. 78) she had to maintain two armies, one at sea and the other in the Low Countries, in addition to her expenses in Ireland and Scotland. So “les moyens luy sont ôtees pour le present de complaire au desir du Roi” The best that she could offer was to send someone to Germany to join with the King's ministers in borrowing 150,000 crowns, for whose repayment in one year she would bind herself jointly with the King.
That the Queen was in fact much straitened for money at this time, there is no doubt. She was, indeed, already seeking a foreign loan of no less than £100,000 on her own account. At the end of February she had instructed William Milward to go over to Germany to seek such a sum, though she was careful to stipulate that he should not pay more than ten per cent. interest. He was also to seek to borrow it in small portions, and not in her name but as a private transaction (pp. 127–128). So far nothing had resulted from his inquiries. At first he had found few ready to lend at ten per cent. and none ready to lend to “any prince, city, or generality.” Most bankers were waiting to “see what will fall out between her Majesty and the King of Spain and between Parma and the Low Countries” (p. 269). Only in his latest letters (p. 279; also pp. 330–331) had Milward suggested “that some good store of money may be had at Augsburg at reasonable rate,” and perhaps at Frankfurt also.
But these were still no more than hopes, and de Buhy was demanding cash. He scornfully rejected the Queen's offers. He would not have his master risk his state for credit and he had no faith in German generosity. If he could not have gold, he must return at once to France (pp. 321, 330, 341). Despite his arrogant tone, Elizabeth would not consent to an immediate breaking off of the negotiations. She wrote with her own hand direct to the King, complaining of de Buhy's stiff tactlessness but also offering to pledge her credit for the entire sum required by him (pp. 340–341). Whether or not she allowed de Buhy to go back to France is not clear. She told the King that she was detaining him, but it seems possible that he was allowed after all to go. (fn. 79) At all events, the negotiations were continued, for de Buhy was again at court on July 20 (p. 393).
By then Henry Ill's need for immediate help must have appeared even less urgent than before. After storming étampes, he had intended to cross the Seine south of Paris, at Melun, so as to meet the advancing forces of Sancy and Longueville before beginning the siege of the capital. Melun, however, refused to admit him, and, as Navarre had found no opposition in a bold reconnaissance north-westwards, the Kings changed their course (pp. 335– 336). They now swept round Paris on its western and northern sides. They took Poissy on June 28, crossed the Seine there, and then, to secure the Oise crossing, laid siege to Pontoise on June 30. This town held out until July 15 and meanwhile the hostility of Meaux and Melun had forced Sancy and Longueville to follow the Kings' route round the western side of Paris. They reached Poissy on July 16 and on July 19 the combined armies took up their assault positions in the suburbs of Paris (pp. 357–359, 375–376, 385–390).
Paris and the League now seemed doomed. Against the Kings' 30,000 or more men (pp. 358, 376, 388, 393), Mayenne could muster a bare 5,000 French foot, some mutinous Germans, a Walloon regiment, and 600 or 700 good horse (pp. 358, 390). There were royalist plots inside the capital (fn. 80) and, with food scarce already (pp. 362, 387), it could hardly hope to hold out more than a very few weeks, even if it could repulse the assault that was now imminent. Nor was there much prospect of deliverance from outside. The League's foreign allies, even Parma, were too far off and too unready to arrive in time. Its only field army was shut up in Paris. Its forces in the provinces had been split into fragments, each fully occupied with its own struggle for survival. Paris, in fact, was not merely the head and heart of the League, but also the vital link between its various members. Cut off from Paris, these membra disjecta could neither succour the capital nor long outlive its fall.
Yet, in spite of the King's successes, in July Elizabeth apparently increased her offers to such an extent that she succeeded in reaching an agreement with de Buhy. There seems to be even less evidence about this last stage of the negotiations than there is about their beginnings in June. But de Buhy was at court on July 20 (p. 393). On that day a passport was sealed for his return to France. (fn. 81) On July 23 the Privy Council informed the Lord Mayor of London that Her Majesty required the City's bond for £60,000 which she intended to take up in Germany “for some special purpose.” (fn. 82) The next day, July 24, a warrant passed the Signet for £20,000 (equal to some 109,000 crowns) to be taken by Horatio Pallavicino to Germany. (fn. 83) So, apparently, the Queen had now agreed to de Buhy's modified demand (p. 360) that, if she could not grant the King all he asked in gold, she should at least back her credit by an immediate grant of 100,000 crowns in cash. The size of the proposed German loan—£60,000 or some 327,000 crowns—is more remarkable still. In itself, and apart from Pallavicino's £20,000, it was almost one-third as big again as the 250,000 crowns which de Buhy had originally demanded. It is of course possible that the Queen did not mean Henry III to have the full £60,000; that she was thinking of combining de Buhy's borrowing for the King with Milward's borrowing for herself. Yet, even if this were true, she would still have been making a very considerable effort to meet the French King's demands.
Why should Elizabeth be thus willing to strain her resources to assist Henry III at this moment? After all, the German levy, in all probability, would not reach him until Paris had fallen and the power of the League had been already broken. The answer would appear to be that the Queen was looking beyond 1589 and beyond the internal wars of France, to the possibility of an Anglo-French offensive alliance against Spain in 1590. The King of Spain and his son-in-law, the Duke of Savoy, had certainly given Henry III sufficient provocation and, though they might not be able to save Paris, they would undoubtedly do their utmost to prolong the resistance of the League's followers in such outlying provinces as Picardy, Dauphiné, Provence, and Brittany. But the inconstant Henry III might well refuse to allow himself thus to be drawn from civil into foreign wars, unless he felt confident that he would be vigorously assisted by a powerful ally. Already those around him, fearing Spanish designs in Picardy, were anxious to see English forces sent to Flanders, “and for this and divers other considerations would now enter into a perpetual league with her Majesty. All the greatest,” Lyly said, “counsel this as necessary for both sides, and the time fit” (p. 376).
It is tempting, therefore, to guess that Henry III had himself proposed something of this sort in his reply to Elizabeth and that it was this proposal which prompted her to increase her offers to de Buhy. Indeed, de Buhy's earlier reference (p. 360) to some negotiation by Stafford which would be made easier by the granting of his own requests, suggests that the Queen had been herself about to propose the league. Certainly, the offensive cooperation of Henry III against Spain would have been well worth paying for. The vigorous intervention in 1590 of a King of France, who was undisputed master of his Catholic subjects and who was firmly supported by Navarre and the Huguenots, might well have proved fatal both to Parma's army in the Netherlands and to the Spanish power in general.
That, however, was not to be. For there now occurred in France one of those “frantic accidents” which Lyly had always feared (pp. 335, 358). On July 22 a Jacobin monk, Jacques Clement, stabbed Henry III “under the short ribs” and, though the wound was not at first thought mortal (p. 394), the King died before the next day dawned (p. 397). The consequences of his assassination scarcely had time to appear during the few days remaining to this volume of the Calendar. Indeed, the news did not reach the English court until July 28 and the first reports of the royal armies swearing allegiance to Henry of Navarre were reassuring (p. 404). But no one could doubt that it was “a thing which is no small joy to the wicked Leaguers and truly will make a wonderful alteration in this state” (p. 397). The spirits of Paris and Rouen soared from despair to confidence (pp. 405–406), while the discords and jealousies which had long lurked beneath the surface in the royal camp (pp. 358, 386, 407) were bound to exert a fatal influence now that the armies had an impecunious Protestant for their King and leader. All hope of a speedy ending of the French civil wars vanished. With it disappeared all hope of a great and decisive continental offensive against Spain in 1590. Instead, Elizabeth was faced with the prospect of having “at a pinch” to assist the new King of France (pp. 404–405,407) as well as the States General of the United Provinces. And in both countries it looked as if the pinch must now come within a very few weeks.
Elsewhere, English policy during these seven months was largely governed by the requirements of the Spanish war and the Expedition to Portugal. The Foreign State Papers have comparatively little to say of that Expedition. Newsletters from Venice in January show what popular opinion on the continent thought to be its probable objectives (pp. 16–17, 26, 50, 63). There is a copy here, as well as in the State Papers Domestic, of Don Antonio's agreement with Drake and Norris (pp. 138– 140). There are also a few brief and uninformative letters from him later (pp. 301, 360, 392). For the actual course of the Expedition, there is little beyond quite a good Spanish account (pp. 353–354); an intercepted letter from the governor of Vigo (p. 273); and some rather untrustworthy French reports (pp. 336, 361). Intercepted letters to Lubeck (pp. 362–363) and a report from Edmund Palmer (pp. 383–384), as well as a vigorous apology from Sir Roger Williams (pp. 409–411), show something of the harm which the Expedition did to Spain.
The four papers (pp. 96, 125, 130–131, 193) about the negotiations of Elizabeth and Antonio with Morocco have already been published; but Edward Barton's letters from Constantinople help to complete the story of the Queen's efforts to move the Turks against Spain. Barton's diplomatic technique appears sometimes a little obvious (pp. 133, 350) and his success was small. The Turks were still very preoccupied by their Persian war and by the unsettled state of their frontiers with the Poles, the Cossacks, and the Emperor (pp. 12–13, 87–88, 134, 346–347, 374, 401). Moreover, the Sultan was suffering acutely from the malady which at this period afflicted most rulers—lack of money. His government was corrupt and his soldiery mutinous (pp. 133–134, 164, 254, 347). He was therefore very slow to listen to the advice of his Admiral, Hassan Pasha, or the entreaties of Barton, to send a powerful fleet to attack the Mediterranean coasts of Spain while Drake and Norris assaulted from the Atlantic (pp. 12–13, 87). A fleet of galleys was prepared during the summer (pp. 133, 135, 302), but they did not leave Constantinople until June 21. So, as they would have to be back by October or November, there was little prospect that they would do more—or were intended to do more—than take forces to crush the revolt which had broken out in Tripoli (p. 347). They might cause the Spaniards some anxiety, but hardly any serious hurt. Nevertheless, there seems little doubt that Barton's presence as ambassador at Constantinople served a useful purpose (pp. 112–113), even if he exaggerated in estimating that it forced the King of Spain to spend 300,000 ducats a year in bribes (p. 348).
The war with Spain was also complicating England's relations with the Hanseatic Towns. Those Towns were not prepared to obey the Emperor's rescript (pp. 51–52) and exclude the Merchants Adventurers from their territories (pp. 197, 241, 331). Hamburg, indeed, was still anxious to attract the English merchants back from Stade (p. 106). But Elizabeth's determination to cut off their trade to Spain caused them considerable anxiety. Some ships took the long and dangerous route around the north of Scotland (pp. 202, 241) now that the Straits of Dover were closed to them, but many discharged their cargoes and waited in the north German ports to see the success of the Portugal Expedition before risking the voyage (pp. 241, 331). Corn was already scarce throughout the Peninsula and timber and naval stores were also in very short supply (pp. 172, 384). For Spain, therefore, the interruption of Hanseatic trade was one of the more serious consequences of the Portugal Expedition, especially as Drake captured some 50 or 60 Hanseatic ships with their cargoes at Lisbon and forced the governor there to burn the granaries (pp. 354, 362–363). It was, of course, a serious matter also for the Hanseatic merchants as well as for those Netherlanders who financed much of Hamburg's trade (pp. 232, 241). The reluctance of German merchants and bankers to lend their money, which proved such an obstacle to Milward's negotiation, was in part the product of Elizabeth's own attempt at economic warfare.
So, for English foreign policy these first seven months of 1589 were on all sides a period of frustrated hope. In 1588 the defeat of the Armada, the repulse of Parma at Bergen, and Henry Ill's execution of the Guises had opened the way for a counter-offensive against Spain which might have led to decisive victory in 1590. But the Portugal Expedition, starting almost three months late and misdirected by its leaders, had failed of its purpose. The betrayal of Geertruidenberg had undone the effects of the success at Bergen. And the assassination of Henry III had cancelled those of the assassination of the Duke of Guise. By the end of July 1589 the initiative throughout western Europe was passing again to the Spaniards. The blows which they had sustained in the past twelve months might prevent them from taking full advantage of their opportunities. Nevertheless, it looked certain that for the next few years the continental enemies of Spain would need to draw on English assistance not less but more than they had done hitherto. 1588 had brought open war between England and Spain. The first seven months of 1589 decided that this war should be long and equal, not brief and, for England, immediately victorious.
Trinity College, Oxford
R. B. WERNHAM