683. Don Baltasar De Zuñiga to Philip III.
Your Majesty orders me to be very circumspect in the peace
conference here to uphold the dignity and prestige of our King.
This I will do. We arrived on 28th May, the first meeting having
been fixed for the 26th May. I therefore thought well to send and
salute the Queen's envoys, before I arrived, to excuse us for arriving
a day or so late. They replied courteously. We expected, as they
were already here, they would have had the good manners to visit
us first, but they did not do so, merely sending a servant to bid us
welcome, and ask for a copy of our powers, in exchange for theirs.
Although we might well have withheld them until the first meeting,
it was thought better not to refuse them, as it was of little moment.
Powers were therefore exchanged. Some difficulties were raised
about the form of the powers, but they were overcome, and after
consultation with the Queen, the title of the Archduke (Albert)
altered to Serene Highness at our request. Copies of correspondence
on these points enclosed. But they were so obstinate in
claiming precedence, notwithstanding our serious arguments, that
we closed the colloquy with our "third" reply, to which they did
not attempt to retort, and we shall not again enter upon the
matter in writing. They have discussed it with the Audiencier and
Richardot and propose that we should agree to equality. In their
third paper they proposed to cast lots, and other plans, which we
refused, as they did not seem dignified. As they should not think
we shut the door to courteous arrangement, Richardot proposed
that if the meetings were held in my lodgings, we would pay them
all due honour. We were moved to this by the example of the King,
who is now in heaven (Philip II.), who, when they came to Flanders,
offered them the highest place. They refused our offer, and so the
matter remains, and we beg your Majesty to instruct us how we
are to act, if they remain obstinate in their demand for equality.
We will delay matters for the reply to reach us, trying in the
meanwhile to come to the terms we have offered them.—Boulogne,
13th June 1600.
Note.—Another letter of same date from Fernando Carillo, another
of the Spanish envoys, conveys similar intelligence with regard to
the negotiations with the English representatives.
The correspondence between the English and Spanish envoys on
the points specified is enclosed in Zuñiga's letter.
The Council of State considered these communications on the
4th July, and utterly scouted the possibility of even considering
the English claim for equality. Such a claim, they say, has never
been advanced before and it is not befitting so great a prince as the
king of Spain that it should be listened to for a moment. The
Council resolved that Zuñiga and Carillo be reprehended for their
proceedings in discussing the matter with the English envoys, after
they (Zuñiga and Carillo) had been so carefully warned not to
admit anything derogatory to the King's dignity. They were to be
told that the King's grandeur was so fully established and admitted,
that they ought not to have allowed or entered into any discussion
whatever with the English with regard to precedence, or even equality
Several councillors were of opinion that the ambassadors should be
written to, that the King's precedence must be unreservedly admitted
by the English as a preliminary to any further negotiations.
Note.—The correspondence of the English envoys in these
negotiations for peace will be found in the Cotton MSS. Vesp. CVIII.