Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Vatican Archives, Volume 2, 1572-1578. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1926.
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The policy of France determined by rivalry with Spain, on account of her pretensions to the Milanese and Flanders, the latter an ancient fief of the French crown, ill accorded with the project of a Catholic League to ensure the triumph of the Church over infidels and heretics alike. Cardinal Alessandrino failed to retard the arrangement and solemnization at Paris, 18 August, 1572, of the match between the King's sister the Princess Margaret and the latitudinarian Henry Duke of Vendôme and King of Navarre. It was boldly asserted that Princes might dispense with dispensations (pp. 7–8, 11, 25, 35, 47, infra (fn. 1) ). Meanwhile the Duke of Anjou had ceased to be a suitor for Queen Elizabeth's hand, and the Duke of Alençon had been promoted to his place. In these circumstances there was negotiated at Blois (April, 1572), and speedily ratified by both the contracting parties, the Anglo-French defensive league, of which account is given on pp. 14–16, infra (fn. 2) (cf. pp. 8, 18, 32, infra).
It was of course rather antagonism to Spain, coupled with indifference to religion, than a genuine spirit of tolerance that induced the rulers of France at this time to make common cause with an heretical Power. The enemies of Spain were the friends, or at any rate the welcome associates, of France; and this principle was apparently carried even to the length of a good understanding with the Turks (pp. 13, 23, 27, infra). It was therefore evident that, in order to the effective formation of a Catholic League, France and Spain must be brought into accord by means of some common and substantial interest. To this end a match suggested in 1571 (fn. 3) by the Nuncio in France was now, subject to the approval of the Queen Mother, put on the tapis between the Duke of Anjou and a daughter of the Catholic King, with in lieu of dowry, as no State was to be expected for this purpose from King Philip, the conquest of England by way of ulterior object; in which form it was approved by the Pope, and communicated to Nicholas Ormanetto, the Nuncio in Spain, by the Cardinal of Como (pp. 30–2, 48, 59, infra).
This pretty project, which was open to the obvious objection that so cautious, not to say meticulous, a statesman as King Philip would hardly play into the hands of a rival potentate by facilitating the establishment of a French dynasty in a country which lay in dangerous proximity to the Netherlands, was approved as the sole means of averting a French offensive against Spain by the Duke of Savoy; from whose lips the Cardinal Legate Orsino, on his way to France as the exponent of the Papal policy foreshadowed in the inchoate Catholic League, received at Turin late in September, 1572, a full exposition of the matter (pp. 48–9, infra).
By that time, however, tidings had reached Rome of an occurrence which was to retard the Legate's progress, and all but frustrate his mission, to wit, the massacre of St. Bartholomew's day (24th August); of which authentic accounts will be found on pp. 36–7, 41, infra; and at the instance of the King, who apprehended that Orsino's appearance at his court hard upon the massacre would be construed in England and Germany as proof positive that it had been deliberately planned and perpetrated for reasons of state incompatible with the recent Anglo-French League (p. 50, infra), the Legate's progress was arrested for a while. Indeed, it is likely that, while most of the assassins followed the dictates of blind religious fanaticism, those upon whom rested the ultimate responsibility for the massacre, the Queen Mother and her most trusted advisers, were actuated rather by the counsels of political expediency, being convinced that persistence in a mild policy towards the Huguenots must eventually lead to hostilities between France and Spain, hostilities for which France was ill prepared, and which would probably prove disastrous to her (pp. 26–8, 36, infra). That the situation was critical is apparent by the tone of the Archbishop of Rossano's letter of 5 August, 1572, to the Cardinal of Como, evincing as it does the intense impatience with which King Philip awaited tidings of wholesale execution done upon the Huguenots (p. 34, infra). The perpetration of the massacre was celebrated at Rome by a Te Deum, and about the same time the Navarre match was regularized by a dispensation. (fn. 4) In short it would seem that the Most Christian King propitiated the Catholic King and the Pope by a signal betrayal of the cause which he had covertly supported in the Netherlands and openly countenanced in France; but as he still desired a good understanding with England it was essential to make it appear that the massacre was a fortuitous occurrence; and therefore the reception in France of a Papal Legate while the massacre was still fresh in men's memories was in the last degree undesirable. The delay imposed on the Legate excited no little surprise and resentment at Rome; but as compliance was unavoidable, Orsino received at Chambéry (28 Sept.) instructions to tarry indefinitely either in the Alps of Savoy or at Avignon (pp. 52–3, infra). The King was naturally loath to expose to the eyes of a foreigner the distracted condition of his country, and knew not how to welcome him to a capital so recently the scene of so horrible a tragedy; and though on 30 Oct. he received at Avignon permission to come to Court, it was not until 22 Nov. that he was allowed to enter Paris (pp. 64, 70, infra). Reports were current of levies of troops by Count John Casimir, of ships being equipped in England, of cavalry in the service of the Prince of Orange in Gelderland, which portended a renewal of hostilities at an early date; while of the domestic affairs of France Orsino learned enough to fill him with grave disquietude and foreboding of the fruitlessness of his mission, which he lost no time in reporting to Rome. This forecast was fully confirmed as soon as (2 Dec.) he had speech of the King (pp. 65, 67, 70, 72, infra). The Papal policy by no means commended itself to his Majesty. In face of disaffection and insurrection formidable, and perhaps fomented from abroad, he could not think of undertaking military operations either against the Turks or any heretics but those of his own country. The project of matrimonial alliance with Spain he deemed premature in regard alike of Monsieur and of the Princess; nor was he sanguine enough to believe that King Philip would part with any of his States by way of dowry. It was in vain that the Legate attempted to minimize the peril on the part of the heretics. The King curtly replied that he was the best judge of such matters; and so stoutly did he hold his ground that the Legate was at last reduced to pluck courage from despair, and pleaded that the best method of promoting the peace of the country would be to send troops out of it, as it was “manifest that foreign wars are the aptest means of allaying civil strife” (pp. 72–3, 75–6, infra). In any case he entreated the King to join the Catholic League with such forces as he might be able to contribute, that at least it might have the éclat of his name, and in due time more substantial support by him. By way of answer he received from the Queen Mother a curt message, delivered by the Nuncio Salviati, to the effect that if he “were to tarry there for a hundred years, he would never get any other answer from the King than that which he already had, so that she could have wished that he were gone, knowing that his being there was damaging to the King by reason of the suspicion conceived thereof by the other princes, and the fear in which all the King's subjects were plunged in apprehension of fresh executions” (pp. 70, 73–4, infra). This broad hint seems to have had the desired effect of accelerating the Legate's departure. Nevertheless, such was the importance attached to the inclusion of France in the Catholic League, that the project was not abandoned until King Philip drily intimated, that unless the King of France should evince approval of the proposed match there was nothing to be done (pp. 79, 82–3, 85, infra).
Strongly as Queen Elizabeth condemned the massacre, she attached too much importance to her defensive league with France to allow her resentment to preclude acceptance of King Charles's proposal that she should be godmother to his daughter; indeed, while the league subsisted, she could hardly have done otherwise. An interesting account of the function and banquet, of the question of precedence raised by the order in which it was at first proposed to seat the guests at supper, and of the dexterous evasion of the difficulty, in deference to the energetic protest of the Nuncio, by a severe restriction of their number, will be found with a list of the presents on pp. 86–90, infra. A league between France and Spain being now recognised as for an indefinite period hopeless, the builders of castles in the air at Madrid began to dream of deposing Queen Elizabeth by the unaided might of the Catholic King, setting the Queen of Scots, “married to some neutral, whether Englishman or foreigner,” upon the throne of England, and in due time wedding her son, on whom they proposed to confer the inestimable benefit of a Spanish education, to a daughter of Spain. But the education of the young King might prove to be a bone of contention between France and Spain; and moreover, it was likely that the Scottish Catholics, faithful to the ancient traditions of their country, would prefer that his domicile and education should be not Spanish but French. Thus his removal to France became an integral part of the Papal policy (pp. 91–2, 121–3, 127, infra).
The strife of factions in France was, however, by this time so embittered as to leave her statesmen little leisure or inclination to meddle with matters of minor moment. The execution done on St. Bartholomew's day had failed to break or even to bend the spirit of the Huguenots. Scattered though they were so unevenly throughout the country that effective mutual support on a great scale was impossible, the stubborn enthusiasts by no means lost heart. Sancerre and La Rochelle were equally resolved to resist to the uttermost (pp. 70, 72–5, 80, 91, 93–6). The latter fortress was enabled by its natural strength, the heroism of its garrison and the succours brought by Montgomery from England so well to withstand the assaults of the Catholic forces as to make an honourable peace, June–July, 1573 (pp. 119–20, infra (fn. 5) ). Sancerre completely surrounded, was at last, 19 Aug., 1573, reduced to capitulate on harsh terms. (fn. 6) The fall of Sancerre was, however, of no great consequence, as the Huguenots were still to be reduced in Poitou and Languedoc, and also in Normandy, where, supported by Montgomery's fleet, they during the spring and summer of 1574 succeeded in occupying Carentan, St. Lo and Domfront (pp. 148, 150, 168–9, 171–2, 176, infra). Nay, such was the strength which they still possessed that, in view of the imminent death of the King, the Duke of Alençon saw fit to form a coalition with them and Montmorency, the leader of the Politiques, in order that he might take advantage of the absence of the Duke of Anjou in his realm of Poland to usurp the crown of France (pp. 173, 175–6, 177, infra). The discovery of the plot was followed by energetic measures against the rebels; and the reduction by the Seigneur de Matignon of their strongholds, and the capture and execution of Montgomery, June, 1574, completed their discomfiture (pp. 169, 171–3, 176, 178, 180, infra (fn. 7) ).
Severe as had been the strain to which the Anglo-French League had been subjected by the massacre of St. Bartholomew's day, the explanations offered by the French envoy, Marshal de Retz, had been accepted by Queen Elizabeth. She was not prepared to run the risk of arraying France with Spain against her; and though she had not scrupled to allow Montgomery to make her coast his base, her relations with France had, by the mediation of Marshal de Retz, not only been maintained, but still wore the outward appearance of cordiality (pp. 129, 136, infra). The solidity of the League had again been tested early in 1574 by the discovery of a plot to the disadvantage of La Rochelle; which caused so much resentment in England that Masino del Bene was despatched thither to put the best face that he might upon the matter (p. 141, infra). But through the Huguenot refugees, and in particular the Sieur de la Chatre, (fn. 8) the Queen had ample means of ascertaining the facts of the case; and the rumours of covert loans by her to the Huguenots were, perhaps, not entirely unfounded in fact (pp. 194, 196–8, 200, 203, infra. Cf. Cal. State Papers, Foreign, 1572–4, p. 456).
It is natural to suppose that a league which stood so much strain meant rather more than appeared on the surface; and we have it on the authority of Salviati that on the part of France the League was of a very elastic character and scope, capable of cloaking and subserving Imperial aspirations; while to England was imputed an intention to “set up Huguenotry again in Flanders and in France,” and establish in the latter country “a powerful faction which would be no less in accord with her than with the German Protestants” (pp. 136–7, infra).
A glance at Irish affairs is now necessary in order to introduce to the reader the doughty and determined foe of England, James Fitzmaurice Fitzgerald, otherwise Geraldine, who after an enforced submission to Queen Elizabeth (23 Feb., 1573) had migrated to Spain (p. 191, infra); but as he got no speedy answer from the King, he had repaired to Rome (p. 239, infra), and thence to France, where, through his Breton friend, Captain La Roche, all possible interest was made with the Queen Mother on behalf of a projected expedition to Ireland, of which S. Malo, where Fitzgerald resided, was to be the base (p. 211, (fn. 9) infra). The King, however, not only gave him neither aid nor countenance, but reported, July, 1575, his machinations to Queen Elizabeth (De la Mothe Fénélon, Corr. Dipl., vol. vi. pp. 465, 473). Nevertheless, Fitzgerald was allowed to remain at S. Malo, busy with a scheme for a Spanish invasion of Ireland, of which the Jesuit David Wolf was the exponent at Madrid (p. 191, infra). The Anglo-French League was, however, found to be compatible with an improvement in the relations between Spain and England. The treaty of Nymegen negotiated by Alva with Burghley in the spring of 1573 formally restored for a while the ancient amity and commerce between the two Powers at the trifling cost of the desertion by King Philip of the English Catholic refugees in Flanders (pp. 86, 100, 106–8, 109–11, 114–15, 121, infra (fn. 10) ). The initial step thus taken was followed by the Accord of Bristol (21 Aug., 1574) negotiated on the part of Spain by the commissaries Zweveghem and Boisschot with the Queen's commissaries, Sir Thomas Smith, David Lewes, and William Aubrey, Doctors of Law, whereby a settlement was effected of outstanding claims on both sides. (fn. 11) Meanwhile the Spanish ambassador, Don Bernardino de Mendoza, had been received by the Queen, and had procured safe harbourage for the Spanish fleet bound for Zealand (pp. 179–85, infra (fn. 12) ).
To the implied prohibition of harbouring refugee rebels King Philip gave but partial effect by their expulsion from his dominions. A few he harboured, in particular, Nicholas Sander, David Wolf, S.J., and Sir Francis Englefield (pp. 186, 191, 204, 214, 236, 239, 246–7, 252, 268, 272, 290–1, infra). Queen Elizabeth made compliance with the prohibition conditional on the exemption of her subjects, resident or sojourning in the Catholic King's dominions, from persecution by the Inquisition; and as King Philip lent an obdurate ear to the envoys, Sir Henry Cobham and John Smith, whom she sent successively to Spain to negotiate the matter, the Accord remained in that particular incomplete (fn. 13) (pp. 231–3, 236, 238, 245, infra). As to the designs of Lord Edward Seymour (p. 185, infra) see Hatfield MSS. (Hist. MSS. Comm.), pt. ii. pp. 64, 68–9, and Relat. Polit. des Pays Bas et de L'Angleterre (Acad. Roy. de Belgique), vol. vii. pp. 35–8.
It is now necessary to advert to an earlier passage of history. The victory over the Turks in the Gulf of Lepanto (7 Oct., 1571), signal though it was, and much as it had done to restore the lost prestige of the Christian arms, might perhaps have been yet more signal but for the questionable tactics of the Genoese Admiral, Giovanni Andrea Doria, who, while endeavouring to avoid envelopment by a foe superior in numbers, allowed himself to be gradually separated from the rest of the fleet. Thus isolated, he suffered a partial defeat, which enabled the foe to bear away in triumph the capital galley and the standard of Malta wrested from the General of that Order. The Christians fought at a disadvantage consequent on dual control, Marc Antonio Colonna, Duke of Paliano, being in the service of the Church, while Doria, though a Genoese, was in the service of the Catholic King, and would not be disposed to take orders from Colonna. Soon after the battle the fleet, instead of improving its advantage and harrying the enemy in his home waters, retired to Corfu, and there parted company, Colonna returning to Rome, where he was honoured with a pomp suggestive of the triumphs of ancient days, and Don John withdrawing to Messina and thence to Naples. (fn. 14)
This disposition of the naval forces was apparently dictated by distrust of France, the friend and possible ally of the Turks, with interests that clashed with those of Spain in the Netherlands; and perhaps by a forecast of the Anglo-French League. (fn. 15) The relations between France and Spain were further strained by France's veto upon a matrimonial alliance without a substantial state by way of dowry (pp. 30, 48, 53, 59, 60, 66, 72–3, 75–6, 78–9, infra).
However, in the course of the year 1572, King Philip plucked up courage enough to bid Don John to sail with the rest of the fleet to the Levant, tarrying only in Sicilian waters to provide for all the needs of the fleet, and make all necessary preparations for war (pp. 33, 38–9, 40, 68, infra). During the latter half of that year and part of the following year Don John was occupied with defensive measures in view of a resumption of the offensive by the Turks, and with the reduction of Tunis (Oct., 1573); after which exploit he returned to his headquarters at Naples (Cal. State Papers, Foreign, 1572–4, pp. 140, 149, 183, 211, 271–2, 275, 286, 329, 341, 370, 421–2, 436–7, 445–6).
The conquest of Tunis induced Pope Gregory XIII to solicit of King Philip for Don John the sovereignty of that State (Nov., 1573 (fn. 16) ); nor is it unlikely that the young and romantic hero thought that the acquisition of a kingdom, though it were but in Africa, would facilitate the match already projected for him with the Queen of Scots (Cal. State Papers, Foreign, ut supra, p. 400); and that in embarking on the enterprise he acknowledged to his intimates that by success he hoped to win for himself a crown. Apart from Don John's interests, however, the project evidently commended itself to the Pope on the score of policy. He had still hopes of the Catholic league, and of further triumphs of the Cross over the Crescent; and it was therefore natural that he should desire for Don John a permanent interest in the South. This established, he deemed that King Philip would be well advised to make Milan his ordinary place of residence, as thence more expeditiously than from Madrid he could direct the affairs of all his scattered dominions. The policy was manifestly sound. Milan was unquestionably in a strategic sense the most important city in the Spanish Empire; but the King was loath to quit Spain; and accordingly it was resolved that as soon as Don John's services should be available for the purpose he should go to Milan and there abide, observant alike of Tunis and the Low Countries and also of Genoa, where the political situation gave occasion for anxiety (pp. 134–5, 142, 148–9, 170–2, infra (fn. 17) ). Indeed the perennial strife of factions in that turbulent republic had of late become so peculiarly embittered that the restoration of order was a matter in which all countries that had relations with it were deeply concerned; and in which Spain had a special interest, as the crisis might be converted by France into a pretext for armed intervention preliminary to an attack on the Milanese. Accordingly in May, 1574, Don John arrived at Genoa, landed there, and after a brief sojourn at Vigevano fixed his headquarters at Milan, where he spent the best part of the summer, ready to act with all possible promptitude either in the Netherlands or in the Mediterranean. In the autumn, however, the Moslems effected the recovery of Tunis, and even succeeded in reducing the fortress of Goletta, Don John having been weatherbound at Trapani pending the operations (Aug.–Sept. (fn. 18) ). For this mishap King Philip seems to have been disposed to censure Don John, although he himself had in May, 1574, been fully apprised by Don John's secretary, Soto, of the formidable proportions of the Turkish fleet, and of the reinforcements which were required as indispensable (p. 174, infra); which reinforcements Don John had been unable to procure for lack of money. To his friend and comrade in arms, Giovanni Andrea Doria, Don John had written from Naples 1 March, 1574:—
“My vexation exceeds aught in the world to find myself in Naples at the beginning of March unable to depart thence for lack of a single real towards assuring the German soldiers of their pay, for the time past, present and to come. The Cardinal [Granvelle] gives me nought, nor have I aught on loan from anyone. I am awaiting two galleys that should come from Palermo with some monies, but they arrive not, nor is the weather such as to permit their arrival. The courier is behindhand, and the project of leaving the Duke of Sessa here is not feasible without moneys, in default of which it will hardly be possible to do aught to purpose in regard of any matter …
“Verily, Sr. Juan Andrea, I see the affairs of his Majesty's fleet so ill initiated for the present year that if there be not very great diligence and not a moment's loss of time henceforth in their management; and if the reports be true that are received from all quarters of the great numerical strength of the Turk's fleet, and the great diligence with which he is equipping it, which I hold to be certified in writing to my very great dissatisfaction, I foresee that there cannot but ensue great misfortunes in his Majesty's states, and such as that when there is a mind, there will no longer be opportunity to repair them.” (fn. 19)
On the whole it would seem that Don John had been alert and assiduous in coping as best he might with the emergency; but that he was sorely embarrassed by pecuniary difficulties, ill seconded—probably at the King's instigation, for Philip was as intolerant as the Turk of a brother near the throne—by Cardinal Granvelle, then Viceroy of Naples, and finally discomfited by the bad weather. Cf. Migne, Dict, des Cardinaux, col. 1033.
In order to vindicate himself Don John, notwithstanding that he had the King's express orders to remain in Italy, returned early in 1575 to the Court of Spain (p. 195, infra); and apparently he achieved his object; for he was treated as his Highness by the Council of State (fn. 20) and came back to Italy in the summer with largely extended powers, with, in fact, the powers and title of Vicar-General of the King; which gave him precedence of the Viceroys of Naples and Sicily. About the same time Soto was replaced by Escovedo as his secretary because it was to Soto's evil counsel that the jealous monarch attributed Don John's aspiration to the sovereignty of Tunis. In the following July Cardinal Granvelle was replaced as Viceroy of Naples by the Marquis of Mondejar (cf. Corresp. du Cardinal de Granvelle (Acad. Roy. de Belgique), vol. v. pp. 322–3).
In the summer of 1576 Don John again suddenly returned to the Court of Spain, to crave, it would seem, the King's final instructions in regard of a new post to which he had recently been appointed (pp. 278–9, 280–1, infra (fn. 21) ).
Spanish prestige and power in the Low Countries had been seriously impaired by the capitulation of Middelburg (Feb., 1574), and the prolonged resistance of Leyden. But far more formidable than the foe was the mutinous spirit, which, first conspicuously manifest after the fall of Haarlem (July, 1573) and again after the victory at Mook (14 April, 1574) had since become chronic among the Spanish and German soldiers alike. (fn. 22) As the army could no longer be relied on, it behoved to have recourse to the art of blandishment; and at the instance of the Estates of Brabant assembled at Brussels, 30 March, 1576, it was submitted that in default of the King's presence in person in the Netherlands, they should be governed by some one of the blood royal, with the advice and counsel of the gentlemen, born and bred, of the Low Countries, as best affected to the land, and its inhabitants, and most apt to cause the King's subjects to be well affected to the King; and considering that the war had lasted for ten years and more, or thereabout, to the total ruin and perpetual impoverishment of, notably, his loyal subjects of Brabant, with no apparent likelihood of coming to an end compatible with the preservation of the ancient religion and his Majesty's authority, without his grace and clemency, and the assistance of his humble Estates of his Low Countries; which would be impossible without the preliminary assembly of the Estates General; but that his said humble vassals, the three Estates of Brabant had, as humbly as they might, implored the King that for the service of God, the preservation from final damnation of so many souls daily perishing in the disaffected countries without sacraments and preachments of the Catholic Roman faith, for the recovery of the said disaffected countries, the re-establishment of justice and police, the relief of his poor and extremely enfeebled subjects, the well-being, repose and tranquillity of his said Netherlands, his Majesty would be pleased, in the first place, forthwith to provide his said I^ow Countries with some Prince or Princess of the blood by way of Lieutenant-General, to rule and govern them with the counsel and advice of the gentlemen born and bred of the said countries, in accordance with the immemorial and very wise and prudent practice, not excluding his Majesty's presence there in person; and in the second place to ordain that his Estates should assemble, in order that by their deputies they might communicate with the deputies of the disaffected, and devise some treaty of peace, the said ancient Catholic and Roman religion and his Majesty's authority being conserved. In default of which two points they foresaw the speedy and total loss and desolation of the King's said countries ….
The situation was indeed by this time such as to brook no delay and it was speedily decided that Don John should be sent to Brussels as Governor with powers virtually limitless. It would seem that it was but the somewhat critical position of affairs in Italy and Africa that had caused the King to defer the appointment so long (pp. 171–2, 174, 187–8, 195, 214, 249, infra (fn. 23) ). The delay, however, cannot have been altogether unprofitable. The attention that Don John had given to the intrigues of the factions in Genoa, and the experience thus gained could hardly be entirely useless in his new command as the situation which Requesens (ob. 5 March, 1576 (fn. 24) ) bequeathed to him was such as to demand tact and address as well as force. The state of affairs in general was, however, such as woefully to disconcert the now somewhat belated schemes of the English exiles and the Curia for the conquest of the three Kingdoms, and the establishment of Don John as their sovereign with the Queen of Scots for consort (p. 259, infra). To the representations which he received from the Nuncio Ormanetto as to this matter King Philip still as ever lent a patient ear while he pursued a procrastinating policy. Should it get wind that such designs had his approval, he had to dread the intrigues, the possible intervention, of France, still mindful of her ancient pretensions to Flanders, and quite capable of acting in concert with the Turks. Moreover, the fate of Tunis had shown but too plainly the difficulty of retaining an oversea conquest even though situate at no great distance from the base of the conquering Power; and King Philip was cautious in the last degree (pp. 125, 134–5, 138, 142, 145, 147–9, 172, 178, 185–8, 192, 234, 240, 246, infra).
The Pope would not commit himself to the project, deeming “it better first of all to ascertain what right the Apostolic See has in those two realms of England and Ireland, being principally concerned that the ancient rights and obligations be renewed, and that afterwards there be added thereto new rights and obligations consonant with what shall seem just and meet” (p. 235, infra).
A scheme for an invasion of England, which owed, it seems, its inception to an assembly of exiles, Sir Richard Shelley, Dr. Lewes, Archdeacon of Cambrai, Dr. Allen, Sir Francis Englefield, Sir Thomas Stucley and others at Rome in 1575–6 (fn. 25); and its development to Pope Gregory XIII with the result that the command of the expedition was to be given to members of the Colonna or the Sforza family, provided King Philip furnished a subsidy to the amount of 100,000 crowns, was by no means embraced with ardour by the niggardly monarch. Dr. Sander, who remained at Madrid (pp. 246, 252, infra), seems in April, 1576, to have hoped that the fleet might sail in the following September (p. 268, infra); but it was in vain that the Nuncio Ormanetto urged such astonishing promptitude on the cautious monarch. He was inclined to postpone action until the summer of the following year (pp. 268–9, infra); and it was with great difficulty that he was induced to part with the moiety of the 100,000 crowns which he had promised in aid of the expedition (pp. 266–7, 270, 277, 279, 281, 283, infra).
Invested with the rank of Governor and Captain General of the Low Countries and the County of Burgundy, Don John travelled in strict incognito, indeed in an impenetrable disguise. He was accompanied only by a courier and Octavio Gonzaga, whose servant he feigned to be; and to complete his disguise he stained his beard and the hair of his head. (fn. 26) He arrived at Paris 30 Oct. and at Luxemburg 3 Nov., 1576 (pp. 287–8, infra (fn. 27) ). His instructions were to restore in all respects the regime of Charles V in matters civil and military alike; and in particular the Councils of State and Finance; to abolish the so-called Council of the Troubles, to restore the privileges, rights and customs of the lands and provinces, to provide for the strict and impartial administration of justice, to accord the people of the Netherlands a general pardon, the amplest possible without exception of any person but the Prince of Orange, the inventor, author and continuator of all the evil, to disband the German and Spanish forces, and to endeavour to reclaim to their allegiance to the King the vassal countries of Holland and Zealand. (fn. 28) It was resolved that the troops should be withdrawn by land (p. 296, infra). However, the English enterprise was not forgotten. King Philip caused instructions to be committed to writing in November, 1576, for an invasion of England, after the pacification of the Low Countries, by Spanish troops under the command of Julian Romero, Sancho d'Avila or Alonso de Vargas, in order to effect the liberation of the Queen of Scots, whom in the event of success Don John was at liberty to marry; and though, for fear of interception, they were not sent to Don John, Escovedo was authorized to communicate them by word of mouth. (fn. 29)
The situation in which Don John found himself on his arrival in the Low Countries was one of extreme embarrassment. Force having proved to be no remedy he could but try what leniency might accomplish. To this end the Pacification of Ghent (8 Nov., 1576), the work of the Prince of Orange, by which Brabant, Flanders, Artois, Hainaut, Valenciennes, Lille, Douai, Orchies, Namur, Tournay-Tournesiz, Utrecht, Malines, to wit, Holland and Zealand were united on the terms of an amnesty, strict and inviolable peace, and mutual aid, especially in order to procure the expulsion of the Spanish troops, the re-establishment of the Estates General as they were in the time of Charles V in matters spiritual and temporal, and in particular the free exercise of religion in Holland and Zealand, was accorded his ostensible ratification by the Perpetual Edict, Feb., 1577, a treaty which by its extraordinary liberality aroused suspicion of insincerity, and was accordingly denounced by the Estates of Holland and Zealand and the Prince of Orange. Thereby Don John forfeited the confidence of the Catholics without conquering the distrust of the sectaries (pp. 294–5, infra). Mindful of the English business, he had at first anticipated that the troops would be withdrawn by sea, but to this the Estates, guided by the Prince of Orange, would on no account consent, and the unfortunate Governor was reduced to submit to their terms. (fn. 30) The evacuation was therefore made by land.
King Philip was for once quick to realise the gravity of the situation, and forthwith gave the Nuncio Ormanetto to understand that it might involve the temporary abandonment of the English business (p. 284, infra). The Pope, as reported by the Cardinal of Como, believed, or affected to believe, that the enterprise was but postponed (pp. 298, 300, infra); though by Sir Thomas Stucley, who in anticipation of a descent upon England from Flanders, had hastened thither to offer his services to Don John early in 1677, but on learning that the focus of machinations was now Rome, had returned thither (pp. 290–2, 294–5, 297–8, infra) by order of Don John, and was there resident, his Holiness was probably sufficiently apprised of the situation in the Low Countries to be gravely disquieted thereby.
On the difficulties, political and financial, with which Don John had to cope, the despatches of the Nuncio Sega shed no little light. The correlative to the withdrawal of the Spanish troops and their auxiliaries would have been the disbandment of the Scottish, Walloon and German mercenaries whom the Estates had raised; but for this purpose funds were necessary, as the pay of the troops was in arrear; and the Estates were in no hurry to provide the funds (pp. 305, 312, infra). It was their manifest policy to make Don John's position untenable; and to effect their purpose they were ready to have recourse to the somewhat hazardous expedient of inviting foreign intervention, to which end they were in negotiation with the Duke of Alençon (fn. 31) (pp. 322–3, infra).
At Brussels, where, pursuant to the Capitulation, he was installed with great splendour (4 May, 1577) as Governor General (p. 304, infra), but was afterwards by his own account treated as a prisoner, Don John (fn. 32) found himself confronted by two not easily soluble problems; to wit (1) how to raise funds to discharge the Scottish, Walloon and German mercenaries whom the Estates had taken into their service; (2) how to learn what the Prince of Orange thought about the peace, seeing that he was still in arms, and was fortifying some places in Holland and Zealand (p. 305, infra). From Brussels Don John withdrew to Mechlin, accompanied by the Nuncio Sega, whom he pressed for no less a sum of money than 50,000 crowns, which the harassed bishop found a difficulty in furnishing forthwith owing to a discrepancy between the value of the scudo d'oro in oro as reckoned in his letters of credit and its actual value in the Empire (pp. 316, 323, infra).
On 10 July Don John despatched Escovedo to Spain to report his manifold embarrassment to King Philip; purposing, pending Escovedo's return, “to do his endeavour for the English business,” England being the source whence “all manner of evil” penetrated the Netherlands; to which end it was necessary to provide funds not only for the security of his person but also for the pay of the German soldiers, privily to increase their number, and to recall the Spanish troops, that he might “be ready for action if his Majesty should be minded to prevent the total loss of these countries” (pp. 320–1, 323, 326, infra).
The design against England had been matured in the preceding April, and evidence of its existence was found in a packet of letters from Don John and Escovedo, written in that month to King Philip and Secretary Perez, intercepted in France by La Noue, transmitted by him to the Prince of Orange, and by the Prince shown to Daniel Rogers, Queen Elizabeth's envoy to the Estates General. (fn. 33) The publication of this discovery was embarrassing not only to Don John but to King Philip, to whose cautious policy its concealment was essential. About the same time some intercepted letters of the Duke of Alençon showed that a negotiation was pending between him and the Estates for his invitation to the Netherlands. This discovery occasioned at Brussels no little excitement, which the recall of the Imperial ambassadors tended to increase (pp. 322–3, infra). In the course of the summer Don John withdrew to Namur, and made (25 July) the fortress his headquarters (pp. 330, 334, infra). For matters tending to justify this step see Cal. State Papers, Foreign, 1577–8, pp. 29, 32, 47, 54, 60–1. The conqueror of Tunis, the hero of Lepanto was not lacking in courage either physical or moral; nor was he deficient in any of the qualities that make the great general; but his forces in the Netherlands were not adequate to a prolonged offensive in the field (fn. 34); he was in pecuniary difficulties (pp. 321, 323, 325, 329 infra), and he was probably haunted by dread of capture or assassination, for which the affair of Bonnivet and Berangeville, while it was pending, gave some occasion (p. 300, infra (fn. 35) ). If so, he did but temper valour with discretion by the retreat to Namur (pp. 322–5, infra). There, however, he received in the autumn of 1577 an ultimatum from the Estates requiring him to abandon the fortress and return to Brussels (fn. 36); to which ultimatum, as it was credibly reported that the Estates had mustered 40,000 fighting men, against 12,000 on his part, he accorded a partial compliance, leaving Namur “in a very defensible condition,” and retreating to Marche en Famine (3 Oct.), where he was being reinforced by Spanish troops from Milan (pp. 341–2, infra).
Amid the confusion of the times it was inevitable that some ancient claims should be revived; and among them was that of France to Flanders espoused by the beautiful and seductive Queen of Navarre in the interest of the Duke of Alençon, which cause she pleaded with Don John while she tarried by way of interlude at his quarters at Namur on her way to Spa (pp. 322, 330, 344, 348–9, 351, infra (fn. 37) ). Meanwhile the Duke of Guise had taken occasion of an apprehended raid on France by Casimir's reiters to advance towards the frontier of Lorraine “with a good number of foot followed by the Duke of Alençon with several companies of horse” (p. 334, infra); a movement which suggested a premeditated offensive, and was construed by the Duke of Savoy as the precursor of “an attack on Flanders by the French in secret concert with the Prince of Orange”; the King of France holding aloof and making peace at home while transferring the pest to the Low Countries; which was confirmed by a notable slackening of the siege operations against Montpellier and Nîmes pending the peace negotiation (pp. 334, 336, infra). The immediate result was somewhat strained relations between France and England and the Estates (pp. 342–5, infra). Perhaps the Duke of Alençon was already initiating through his creature and confidant, Bussy d'Amboise, the negotiation by which in return for a pledge to succour the Estates with 10,000 foot and 2,000 horse he secured in August, 1578, the right to occupy Le Quesnoy, Landrecies and Bavay with the title of Defender of the Liberty of the Low Countries against the tyranny of the Spaniards, a euphemism to veil the designs of France upon Flanders (pp. 344, 347–8, 486, 488–90, infra (fn. 38) ).
The sudden appearance at Antwerp of the youthful Archduke Matthias brought an element of the melodramatic into a sombre scene. He had quitted Vienna incognito, 3 Oct., 1577, passing as one of the retinue, indeed as a servant of Walter van Maelstede, one of the envoys then returning, who had been sent by the Estates at the instance of the Duke of Aerschot and other Catholic nobles opposed alike to Don John and the Prince of Orange, (fn. 39) to do their good offices to procure the Emperor's approval of the Archduke's acceptance of the office of Governor of the Low Countries. Those who supposed the overture to be part of a deep-laid design of Queen Elizabeth (pp. 352–3, infra) were entirely mistaken. There is no evidence that the Queen was consulted in the matter. The invitation came from the Aerschot-Havrech-Meetkercke junto (Cal. State Papers, Foreign, 1577–8, pp. 240, 264–76, 434, infra); and the Emperor in refraining from giving countenance to it, was probably actuated merely by a desire of evading responsibility. It was in this manner that King Philip behaved. He was forewarned by Don John of the intrigue, was loath that it should reach the Queen's ears, but did not attempt to disconcert it. (fn. 40) Apparently there was a disposition to wink at an indiscretion on the part of the Archduke; and his stealthy departure, and the strict incognito which he maintained until his arrival at Maastricht, completely served his purpose. Protest on the part of the Queen would have been futile in view of the accomplished fact; but both Leicester and Walsingham expressed doubt of its expediency, deeming that it might but introduce a fresh element of perplexity into the situation. The immediate, but evidently unforeseen consequence of the advent of Matthias was the enhancement of the dignity and power of the Prince of Orange, whom the Estates forthwith (22 Oct.) appointed Ruward or Regent of Brabant (Arch. de la Maison d' Orange-Nassau, ser. i. vol. vi. p. 202; Cal. State Papers, Foreign, 1577–8, pp. 226–7, 240, 266–7). The Estates, however, and the Prince proved by no means hostile to the young Archduke. They deemed Austrians preferable on the whole to Spaniards, and hoped that with powers strictly circumscribed the Imperial youth might make a tolerable President of the Republic. His appearance on the scene was, moreover, well timed. Don John had been forced to fall back from Namur upon Luxemburg (pp. 341, 343, infra), and his situation was critical. In these circumstances the Estates, by means of the Marquis of Havré, succeeded in procuring from Queen Elizabeth a promise of substantial aid, to wit, £100,000, and troops to the number of 5,000 foot and 10,000 horse. (fn. 41) Thus encouraged they proclaimed Don John a public enemy (Dec.) and elected Archduke Matthias Governor in his stead, but with the Prince of Orange as his lieutenant, and with a prerogative in other respects so limited as to render the Archduke little more than a puppet in their hands (pp. 347–9, 352–4, 356, 357–8, 359,–60, 362, 365–6, infra (fn. 42) ). Matthias, however, proved to be an excellent titular Governor-General, and actual constitutional Sovereign, of the Netherlands.
Meanwhile, gloomy as was the outlook of the English Catholics, they had not let the Jubilee of 1575 pass without meeting at Rome for the purpose of discussing the situation with a view to shape and adopt a common policy; and though this had proved to be impossible, and less and less hope of the speedy reclamation of England to the Catholic Church had come to be entertained by the Curia, this had not had the effect of diminishing the outward respect paid to the two English exiles, Sir Richard Shelley, Prior of the Knights of Malta in England, and Sir Thomas Stucley, who for diverse reasons made that matter their specialty. Shelley in 1575 was apparently resident at Venice, still entertaining hopes of Queen Elizabeth's reconciliation with the Holy See, and endeavouring to impart them to others (pp. 193, 206, infra (fn. 43) ). He believed, or affected to believe, that years and experience had wrought a remarkable change in the Queen; and that being indifferent to religious questions, and annoyed by the emergence of a new sect (fn. 44) yet worse than the Puritans, she might, by tactful and judicious approaches on the part of the Pope, be induced to tolerate the Catholic Church. In the Nuncio Castagna, to whom at Venice he expounded these ideas, he found a patient listener, and persuaded him that he was accredited by the Queen's chief minister. This, coupled with the comparative leniency with which, he had learned, the Catholics had had of late been treated in England, encouraged Castagna to hope that God was “about to turn His eyes towards that realm.” Accordingly, at Castagna's suggestion, Shelley repaired to Rome to submit his advice to the Pope; but no sooner had he arrived at the city than he was reported to be seriously ill; and afterwards he was thought to be dead (pp. 193, 198, 206, 212–3, 289, infra); nor is it certain that he had an audience of his Holiness. The estimate, however, which the Pope had formed of Shelley's qualifications for the part which he had aspired to play may perhaps be inferred from the suggestion which he made that it would be well to send him to the Court of Persia (pp. 286, 289, 293, infra). Sir Thomas Stucley, whose title to his estates in Ireland was none of the best, was ready as ever to fight there, or in England, or anywhere else, for the Catholic King, or any other potentate who might hire him, against any foe so long as pay and plunder were to be had; nor had he lost any opportunity of vaunting his prowess and protesting his zeal. King Philip, however, had taken his measure; and having given him a pension, had given him up (pp. 6, 19–22, 138, 166, 196–7, infra). Nevertheless, despite Castagna's warning that Stucley's day was past, the Curia welcomed the adventurer on his arrival in Rome early in 1575, presented him with crucifixes blest by the Pope, and eventually promoted his going to Flanders in the hope, apparently, that the English business might thence be despatched by a sudden coup de main (pp. 196–7, 208, 246, 274–6, 280, 283, 297, infra).
The scheme, however, was totally disconcerted by the withdrawal of the Spanish troops from the Low Countries by land; whereupon Don John bade Stucley go back to Rome with letters to the Pope, his Catholic Majesty, and Secretary Perez, soliciting their good offices on his behalf. Nor did the gallant and impecunious adventurer fail to make his own appeals to the Pope and the Catholic King at the same time (pp. 290–5, infra). It was in vain that Thomas Wilson, the English ambassador at Brussels, being apprised of the favour shown to Stucley at Rome, visited the Nuncio Sega, and gave him his own estimate of Stucley, describing him as “a broken braggart and impostor, who would squander the resources of the King, not to say of the Pope”; in vain also that Sega reported Wilson's words to the Cardinal of Como. The Cardinal had confided in Stucley, and was not to be shaken in his good opinion of him (pp. 306, 319, infra). Sega was soon afterwards transferred to Madrid, whence he wrote on 13 Sept., 1577. He was both able and zealous on behalf of Don John and the enterprise of England; but he found it by no means easy to vindicate to the King Don John's retreat to Namur, considering its sequel at Antwerp, and the consequent defection of the Duke of Aerschot and his brother the Marquis of Havrech, (fn. 45) while on the part of France the presence of the Dukes of Alençon and Guise in proximity to Flanders served still further to confound confusion (pp. 330, 334–5, 336, 343, infra). To abate this nuisance the Estates General induced the Duke of Alençon to order the Duke of Guise to withdraw his troops from the frontier; and apparently he complied with the order but only to transfer them to Don John (p. 344, infra; and Cal. State Papers, Foreign, 1577–8, pp. 167, 285, 287, 300, infra).
The utmost possible pressure had by this time been brought to bear upon King Philip to induce him to make up his mind to energetic action on a large scale. That the operations must be by sea as well as by land was patent to the Archbishop of Toledo, to the Duke of Savoy, to Escovedo, and, it would seem, to all the King's advisers; but nothing could be elicited from him save that “the Pope might be sure that this business was lodged in his mind, and that he attended to it with great assiduity, but that, as it was a serious matter, it behoved him to ponder it very carefully” (p. 338, infra). The Spanish troops, however, were ordered back from Lombardy to rejoin Don John pending his supersession, which was only delayed by the dearth of persons qualified to succeed him (p. 339, infra). The “English business” came thus to be in effect postponed by Spain sine die (pp. 363, 369, infra), and the hopes of the Catholic refugees found their centre in Ireland. The claim of Ireland to deliverance from the heavy yoke of England had been pleaded by the able Jesuit, David Wolf, in his Description of Ireland, written at the instance of the Spanish ambassador at Lisbon in 1574, but ignored in view of the more important scheme of operations against England (pp. 151, 165–8, 174, 191, infra). To promote the Irish project James Fitzmaurice Fitzgerald early in 1577 visited Rome, and had an audience of the Pope, who for his encouragement bestowed a handsome largesse upon him, and bade him repair to Portugal and thence privily betake him to Ireland (pp. 293, 295, 298, infra). Hoping to procure the patronage and aid of King Philip, he craved as he passed through Spain, but apparently was never accorded, an audience of the cautious monarch (pp. 301, 311, 317, 326–9, 331, infra). Fitzgerald had also a brief of the Pope for publication in Ireland; of which brief he thought of having 200 copies printed, one half in Latin and the other half in English; but this the Collector Apostolic at Lisbon vetoed, “because the thing would get wind at once and the brief would come into the hand of the Queen of England, and the business would be ruined”; preferring to have a hundred Latin copies made in his own house and subscribed and authorized, and the same number of copies made in the Irish language (pp. 328–9, infra).
Funds for the expedition, which Fitzgerald naturally expected, were not forthcoming. The most the Collector could do in that respect was to promise to “arrange his passage for him,” even though it should involve, what he seems to have desired to avoid, a special audience of the King. Twice indeed he craved such an audience for Fitzgerald, but to no purpose. The ardent adventurer was, however, sanguine enough to anticipate help from the Pope in the autumn; meanwhile he had for his pains but the Catholic King's direction to his ambassador in Portugal “to lend him aid in arming a vessel for his enterprise” (pp. 328–9, 331, 335, infra). The aid accorded him was of little consequence, a culverin, some arquebuses, corslets and powder; a trifling loan, 500 ducats, which he craved of the Collector, was civilly refused. Nevertheless, weary of waiting for Stucley, the gallant Irishman set sail from Lisbon, 19 Nov. 1577, for Brittany, leaving behind him the Jesuit David Wolf, who had been his interpreter, and the Irish Bishop of Killaloe, the latter charged with a mission to King Philip (pp. 337, 343, 347–8, 350, 355, 359, infra (fn. 46) ).
The Bishop, who arrived at Madrid on 13 Jan., 1578 (p. 367, infra), could hardly have presented himself there at a more inopportune moment; for it so happened that an English envoy, Thomas Wilkes, was already there, the bearer of a message apropos of the intercepted letters which was tantamount to a peremptory demand of the recall of Don John from the Low Countries by way of preliminary to the pacification of the Provinces without further bloodshed (Cal. State Papers, Spanish, 1568–79, pp. 550, 552 (fn. 47) ). But however affronted King Philip may have been by the message and by the choice of a commoner, who was but Clerk of the Council, to convey it, he was still as usual bent on maintaining the semblance at least of friendship with England, whither he was about to send Don Bernardino de Mendoza (fn. 48) as ambassador resident. Accordingly the Bishop of Killaloe was advised by the Nuncio Sega to efface himself and keep in hiding as long as Wilkes should stay at Court (pp. 367–8, infra). His term of seclusion, however, proved to be brief, for Wilkes departed so soon after the delivery of his message as to arrive in London on 16 Feb., 1577–8. (fn. 49) The King, however, was inexorably determined to give no aid or countenance either to Fitzgerald or to the Bishop of Killaloe (pp. 369, 374, 379, infra). In regard to Stucley the counsels of the Curia were from first to last characterized by fatal vacillation. In October, 1577, it was resolved to place at his disposal a good ship and soldiers, arms, munitions, victuals and money, to boot, sufficient for an expedition in aid of Fitzgerald (p. 344, infra); but so slight was the interest actually taken in Irish affairs that even as late as January, 1578, it was still at Stucley's option to try his fortune either against the Infidels or against the heretics as God should best inspire him (p. 376, infra); which callous indifference to the fate of Fitzgerald was alike unwise and discreditable (pp. 337, 343–4, 345–7, 355, 364, 366–7, 369, infra). The enterprise seems to have been secretly subsidized by King Philip to the amount of 140,000 crowns, of which a first instalment of 20,000 crowns was remitted by the Nuncio in Spain to the Collector Apostolic at Lisbon on the departure thitherward from Madrid (March, 1578) of Edward, styled Baron Dacre, (fn. 50) the Bishop of Killaloe and Charles Browne, a scion bar sinister of the noble family seated at Cowdray, Sussex (pp. 389, 391, 397, infra (fn. 51) ). A ship of the largest size was chartered, six hundred soldiers, provided by Paolo Giordano degli Orsini, were put aboard her with abundance of victuals, money, arquebuses, pikes and other arms for 3,000 men at an estimated cost to the Curia of “thousands and thousands of crowns,” to which were subsequently added some small pieces of artillery from Civitavecchia (pp. 361, 371–3, infra). In command of this armament, which included some impressed men, among them one Thomas Meyners or Miners, who drew a pension from the Pope, but fell under suspicion of treachery, and would have been hanged but for the good offices of the Papal treasurer, which secured him a reprieve pending the Pope's decision (pp. 381–2, infra (fn. 52) ), the Marquis of Leinster, as Stucley, by virtue it would seem of a Papal patent, now styled himself, sailed from Port Ercole for Lisbon on or about 3 February, 1578, in a ship named the St. John (pp. 376, 379, 383, infra) which the Pope had placed at his disposal. As pending the voyage either Stucley or the Papal Commissary Bastiano San Joseppi wrote, it would seem, frequently to the Archdeacon of Cambrai (fn. 53) and referred the Cardinal of Como to him (pp. 379–80, 415) it is regrettable that the letters to the Archdeacon are missing; but from those that reached the Cardinal either from Stucley or from his subordinate, Bastiano San Joseppi, or from Fontana, the Collector Apostolic at Lisbon, enough transpires to make it plain that Stucley was either a very poor judge of a ship, or, knowing that he must content himself with such a craft as the Pope could provide, made no careful scrutiny of the St. John; for the vessel, on the necessary equipment and victualling of which the Pope had expended 40,000 crowns, besides supplementing her armament with some venerable pieces of artillery from the Castle of Civitavecchia, proved to be not only too small conveniently to accommodate the Papal troops, but by no means a good sea-boat (pp. 370–3, infra). From Palamos Stucley reported to the Cardinal of Como (14 Feb.) that some of the soldiers, vassals of Paolo Giordano degli Orsini, had deserted without reasonable cause. He added, however, that the ship was very much out of gear and needed refitting with timbers, ropes, and gear and sails, and to be well caulked, as otherwise she ran a risk of going all to pieces in the sea; and the worst of it was that though he was close to the shore, he dared not land the soldiers, as he had good reason to apprehend their desertion en masse; wherefore he had resolved “to run the risk of going ahead.” For the rest he referred the Cardinal to Captain Sebastian [San Joseppi] (pp. 380–3, infra). The remainder of the voyage was extremely slow; and when the arrival of the ship at Cadiz was reported, 14 April, by the Collector of Portugal, it was also announced that she was to accompany the young and gallant Dom Sebastian, King of Portugal, in an enterprise against the Moors of Barbary (pp. 393, 397, 401–2, 407–8, infra).
At last, 18 April, the ship was sighted from Lisbon; and by order of the King, who was then at Belem occupied with the obsequies of his grandmother, the Queen Dowager and sometime Regent Catherine, (fn. 54) cast anchor off Cascaes, on the northern side of the bay. The plight of the vessel was by that time such as to afford Stucley a plausible, if not valid, excuse for refusing to continue his voyage in her. Sails, shrouds and masts were alike unserviceable (pp. 409–10, infra); two months and more would have been required for the necessary reparations; it was impossible to keep the soldiers after a three months' voyage cooped up in her. And, worst of all, there was apparently incontestable evidence that intelligence of the design against Ireland had already reached England (pp. 412–3, 416, 427, 561, infra). In these circumstances Stucley readily lent ear to the solicitations of Dom Sebastian, and consented to postpone the Irish business to a more convenient season, and place the Papal forces at the disposal of the King for the crusade against the Moors (pp. 560–67, infra). It is even probable that such had been his unavowed intention in his negotiation with the Cardinal of Como; for Dom Sebastian's design upon Africa, which was matter of common knowledge in the summer of 1577, could hardly have failed to be more attractive to a man of Stucley's adventurous temperament than the projected raid upon Ireland from which little glory or booty was to be anticipated (pp. 325, 337, infra).
It would be tedious and happily it is needless to enter into the details of Fitzgerald's operations preliminary to his voyage to Ireland. Enough that by his own account he quitted Lisbon (19 Nov., 1577) sine armis, sine classe et sine hominibus (pp. 355, 369–70, infra); that he found himself weather-bound (Dec., 1577) in the port of Bayona in Galicia (p. 362, infra), and after resuming his voyage and capturing an English ship was driven by tempest into the more northerly port of Mugia (fn. 55) (pp. 354–5, 359–60, 361–2, 366, infra). To be thus weather-bound was not only vexatious but was likely to prove to be disastrous; for the supply of food began to fail, desertions became frequent, and at last, while with the Bishop of Mayo and some others Fitzgerald was ashore celebrating the Epiphany (6 Jan., 1578), the master of the ship took occasion to crowd all sail and make for Brittany without them, but not without their property (pp. 390, 395, infra). Fitzgerald subsequently resided with his wife at S. Malo or Nantes, awaiting succours which he hoped to receive from King Philip. He was reported to have captured two English ships, and even to have sailed for Ireland with a considerable force (pp. 395, 397, 402, 413, 423–4, 425, 428–9, 430–1, 439–40, infra).
Meanwhile both the news and the dearth of news from Ireland and England were alike disheartening to the Catholic exiles on the continent. The restoration of peace in Ireland by an accord between the Earl of Desmond and the Viceroy, Sir Henry Sidney, was reported from Lisbon by Captain William Cliburne or Cleyburne, a pensioner of Spain (pp. 386–7, 393–4, infra); which intelligence, coupled with the bare announcement that Fitzgerald was somewhere in France, was received at Madrid, 3 April, 1578, by the Viceroy's niece, the Duchess of Feria (p. 397, infra) and was thence transmitted to Rome by the Nuncio Sega. By the same channel came a summary, dated 9 April, of a letter from the recently accredited Spanish ambassador to England, Don Bernardino de Mendoza, announcing his arrival in that country, and reporting an insurrection in Scotland (fn. 56) in the interest of Queen Mary with an ulterior design against England; but as to Stucley's movements not a word; and, moreover, his departure, Sega was advised by Don Francisco de Guevara, of the Spanish Council of War, was likely to be of little avail in default of support by Paolo Giordano degli Orsini, which support being contingent on pecuniary aid by King Philip was problematical (p. 400, infra).
However, by letter of 12 April the Bishop of Killaloe reported from Lisbon Fitzgerald's arrival at S. Malo with two English prizes, the restitution of his stolen property, and his reinforcement in ships and soldiers by his Breton friend de la Roche. On the Bishop's authority his strength was stated (23 April) by the Collector Fontana to be six ships and 2,000 soldiers (pp. 402, 407, 413, infra). King Philip's interest in the enterprise, which for reasons economical as well as political, had been by no means lively at the first, was now probably very slight (pp. 369, 383, 386, 389, 397, 400, 406, infra). The Pope, who had spent many thousands of crowns in aid, now of Stucley, now of Fitzgerald, and saw no apparent promise of any good result of the operations of either adventurer, seems at last to have waxed impatient; and, on learning that Fitzgerald was taking his rest with his wife at S. Malo, to have begun to suspect him of indifference to the cause of the Irish Catholics, save in so far as it might subserve his private ends (pp. 423–4, infra). As regards Fitzgerald, his Holiness was mistaken. He was at this time at Nantes, awaiting succour from the Catholic King, and in correspondence with the Earl of Desmond, to whose urgent appeal that he should come to Ireland, though alone, he wisely turned a deaf ear, not being minded to court inevitable defeat (p. 429, infra). At Lisbon the expediency of inviting Fitzgerald to come thither for a conference was mooted and discussed in full conclave of the conspirators. The question turned on whether Fitzgerald was or was not in arms; and as it was held that he was not in arms, the question of expediency was unanimously decided in the affirmative; but as to bring him to Lisbon would have involved the outlay by the Papal Paymaster, Bastiano San Giuseppe, of 100 crowns upon an express courier, and he had no express authority to make such a disbursement, and indeed was without funds, he voted “for the conference, but vetoed the disbursement of the money, and so the matter rested” (p. 438, infra). Thus the last chance of assuring immediate concerted action was postponed sine die; for though Stucley soon afterwards wrote to the Cardinal of Como that he was sending a man of credit post haste to Fitzgerald to summon him to Lisbon, the letter, if despatched, must have miscarried, or been ignored by Fitzgerald (p. 443, infra), as in July 1578 he was reported by Sir Amyas Poulett, the English ambassador in France, to be resident at Dinan in Brittany with no apparent intention of embarking on any new voyage. (fn. 57)
There is reason to think that co-operation between Fitzgerald and Stucley was rendered impossible by the evil repute in which the Marquis stood in Ireland as a despoiler of monasteries (p. 569, infra (fn. 58) ). On the other hand the crusade, in which he was associated with Dom Sebastian of Portugal, against the Moors, contrasts favourably with the sordid piratical depredations of Drake and Hawkins on the high seas; which depredations, injurious though they were to Spain at a time, 1578–80, when diplomatic relations between that country and England had been resumed, were by no means discountenanced by Queen Elizabeth. So deliberate and continuous a breach of the comity of nations could not but be keenly resented by King Philip, whose retort, long delayed, was the launching of the Great Armada (pp. 378–9, 387, 400, 403, infra (fn. 59) ).
How far in making common cause with Dom Sebastian Stucley yielded to constraint, how far to the fascination of a unique personality coupled with a not unreasonable belief that he was deserted by Fitzgerald, how far to just resentment of the conduct of the Curia in providing him with an unseaworthy ship, cannot now be precisely determined; but as in all probability each of these factors contributed to determine his action, suffice it to say that in command of the Papal contingent he accompanied Dom Sebastian in his romantic expedition against the Moors, and with him passed out of history into the realm of legend and myth at the dolorous rout at Alcazar (4 Aug., 1578, pp. 460, 463, 467–9, 472–3, 475–8, 480–4, 489, 491–3, 496, 500, 503, infra (fn. 60) ).
So anomalous was the situation that resulted in the Low Countries from the adoption by the Estates of Archduke Matthias as Governor while Don John remained there as King Philip's vicegerent, that Don Bernardino de Mendoza, whom the King sent to England as ambassador, may well have found his position somewhat perplexing. (fn. 61) The gist of his instructions was to cultivate, and as far as possible to restore, the ancient amicable relations between Spain and England by inducing the Queen once and for all to abandon her connection with the Prince of Orange. He was also authorized to correspond with Don John, and with Juan de Vargas Mejia at the Court of France. He found Queen Elizabeth hostile to Don John, whom she charged with having broken faith with the Estates by the seizure of the citadel of Namur and the retention of German troops in the country. She desired to mediate, but it was by no means certain that her mediation would be allowed by King Philip. Mendoza had no instruction to deal with Don John or the Estates; nor could he say whether the King had directed Don John to make peace in accordance with the Perpetual Edict; whether Don John had authority from the King to accord an armistice pending the pacification; whether the King had agreed to a disbandment of forces on both sides as soon as peace should be made; whether the King had ordered Don John to retire immediately upon the pacification and the discharge of the forces; or whom he had appointed to succeed to the government. (fn. 62) It may well be supposed that Mendoza was by no means so ignorant as he seemed at this juncture to be. It was no part of his ambassadorial functions to submit to be catechized. He was more interested in getting than in giving information. His proper function was to restore in outward semblance the former amicable relations between England and Spain; and pending the eventual and inevitable trial of strength and settlement of accounts between the two nations, to keep King Philip well informed of the state of affairs in England. See his instructions and letters to the King and Secretary Zayas in Cal. State Papers, Spanish 1568–79, pp. 553, et seq. and 563–4. (fn. 63)
It was now pretty plain that King Philip meant the war to continue; and indeed Don John's position, serious though it was in a military sense, was still so far from being desperate that had the King for once abandoned his cunctative policy, and accorded his brother prompt, substantial and continuous military support, disaster might perhaps have been averted. But such support would have been incompatible with his disavowal of the design upon England, the discovery of which had occasioned the decision to supersede Don John as soon as a competent successor should be found (pp. 338–9, infra). He therefore in effect washed his hands of Don John, deeming his defeat preferable to a war with England.
Don John, however, proved to be so far from being at the end of his resources that with the aid of Alexander Farnese, Prince of Parma, he gained at Gembloux, 31 Jan., 1578, a signal victory over the troops of the Estates, including a contingent of Scotsmen, which was followed by the surrender not only of Gembloux but of Louvain, Tillemont, Aerschot and Diest. (fn. 64)
On the situation in which Don John now found himself, and the manner and spirit in which he confronted it, light is shed by some letters written by him to his old friend and comrade in arms, Giovanni Andrea Doria; which are as follows:—
i. “I thought of despatching this courier from the Abbey of Argenton hard by Giblu [Gembloux]; but was prevented by harass incidental to the departure from that place. That which since then I have to add is that, although the victory (fn. 65) that God was pleased to grant us, found us very ill provided with all that is necessary for taking any place of importance, by reason of lack of money wherewith to procure the things appropriate to that end; nevertheless, I deemed it meet to go ahead, to assemble and protect those that might desire to make submission; for I judged that some towns would do so, seeing that the army of the rebels was hors de combat, and following the example of Louvain. To this end we came hither, the Prince [of Parma] and I, taking with us but the Spanish troops, the regiment of Burgundians under the command of M. de Xeureau [Chevreaux], and Walloons to the number of a thousand, the rest tarrying in the neighbourhood of Bovines [Bouvignes]. On the march I learned that the people of Malines had received a garrison from the Estates, that those of Vilvorde had done the like; and that Diest and Liau [sic Leeuw], which had garrisons, were resolved to hold out, so that not only is there no help from the towns, but it is equally lacking on the part of individuals, since to this day not a single man has come, which shows pretty plainly how few the well affected must be. We have discussed what it were meet to do, and it seems that no time should be wasted in taking small towns of little importance, because the gain would be little or nothing, and the waste and loss of men incurred therein, slight though it might be, would be extremely inconvenient. As for dominating Brussels or any other great fortress we lack troops; for few, indeed, are those on whose services we can count with security. There is also a lack of artillery, powder, pioneers, and the other needful implements; and in fine of that which has been lacking from the first, for making ready and providing everything, to wit, money; and so I see not how from this victory so much fruit is to be hoped as it promised in the event of his Majesty ordering such substantial support to be given to this affair as, with the urgency and importunity which its nature required of me, I besought him to give to it. Nay, I rather dread that we may be compelled to retreat, a judgment of God upon such slackness and negligence. Nevertheless we shall do our duty, turning every hour to account in such enterprises as may be possible with such small forces as there are; and it will be for His Divine Majesty to order the rest as He please. And to set the seal on what I can and ought to do in a business of so much importance to all Christendom, general and particular, I think of sending a qualified person to give account to his Majesty of the state of affairs; and of what we, who superintend the work, deem should be done, that it may be impossible to say that we are in anywise to blame for the evil that is likely to follow. Whereof I was fain to apprise you, that you may bear it in mind, and if you hear talk of the little that is being done, may know whence the fault originates.”
From Hebre [Héverlé] near Louvain, 14 Feb., 1578. Spanish; partly decipher. (fn. 66)
ii. “I have risen from my bed to write this, but shall forthwith return to it; for I have undertaken an office burdensome indeed to one little used to suffering as I am; for it is sweating and no grapes, but a hundred thousand labours past, a hundred thousand million labours present …
“If after many hours of continuous labour I have to take some brief spell of pleasure, no one, I think, who finds such spells so much to his mind, and their lack so much to the contrary as you do, will desire to interrupt it in order to write to any one. But what boots it if the greatest pleasure to be had here is fraught with a thousand fatuities?
“And yet there is no enjoyment of pleasures when they are had, for all is spoiled by his Majesty, who keeps me suffering what no other poor devil ever suffered; for all the burden of responsibility is upon me, and the honour is ever with him, as if it were the service of the devil, and, besides, some ruined man; but God, whose cause it is, so favours it that its support is manifestly His handiwork by sheer power of miracles; and so, Señor Juan Andrea, doubt not that it is thereby, and by way of reward of all that by infinite pains is possible, that we, who wage this war, live; but in the end that will befall us which is the fate of the pitcher that goes often to the fountain, if after the loss of such and so great opportunities prepared for and anticipated, they leave me in the plight in which they have hitherto left me. God knows that neither in word nor by deed has there been any lack of diligence on my part; so that as for the world I deem it satisfied with me; besides which I am not anxious on the score of honour, nor does it depend upon results, but on the discharge of my duty as a Christian gentleman.
“It is true that Mosdevilli [Monsieur de Billy (fn. 67) ] has returned with the verbal decision which I mention in the other letter, but I have already repeated my answer; to wit, that I bind myself to what is possible for me as a human being, and not to that which is beyond the power of human beings, and to which none could bind them. In fine, to have done with the past I am bound, great and hard though the obligation be, to glorify according to my light God who gave me mind and heart not to fall short of my duty, but rather to meet all my obligations; which done, labours and death will find me cheerful, if the latter should supervene upon the former …
“As to the unfortunate death of our Escovedo I know not what to say, especially from such a distance. Were I nigh at hand, I might say something, albeit in my judgment it is a case that calls for deeds rather than for words; but the mouth is closed and the hands are tied by many suspicions and no certitude; besides which nothing is at present possible but to mark and duly to deplore so sorry a fate of such a servant as was seen in this death of Escovedo …
“The enemy is reforming himself, and I desire to see the new formation completed, because without recourse to the sword I know not what, situated as I am, we can do; but I think he will be much more on his guard than we shall be on ours, for we shall certainly fight if he risk a combat.” (fn. 68)
Namur, 7 June, 1578. Spanish.
Postscript.—“Our good Prince of Parma started yesterday on his expedition, which, I hope, he will accomplish as he deserves. I have also assigned to him our new general of cavalry, and right glad I am that he is one that has savoir vivre, and knows how to serve so well and so much to my satisfaction.” (fn. 69) Holograph.
iii. … “Imposing have been the rumours about the Duke of Alençon; but to this hour we are without evidence that he has wrought miracles. Nevertheless he occasions us some concern. The news from Germany causes me more anxiety, to wit, that the Prince is already entering there on the side of Nimegen, and they will approach Limburg. (fn. 70) I have begun to take the water [of Palo ?], and do so morning and evening not without disgust; but one must needs have patience, and I hope for benefit therefrom.”
Namur, 9 June, 1578. Spanish. Autograph. (fn. 70)
iv. “By a gentleman who departed hence on the 12th inst. I wrote to you apprising you of what at that time was occurring, and in this I shall tell you what has since happened. The Prince evinced such dexterity in the enterprise of Limburg that as soon as he had begun to batter the town, it and thereafter the castle surrendered, the garrison having no mind to defend themselves, although they might have done so for some days by reason of the strength and position of the castle; whereby, and by reason of the surrender of other places and castles, and the capture of some by force, with infliction of the chastisement which they deserved for having been minded to defend themselves, all that country is now for his Majesty; which for securing that of Luxemburg on that side, and for reducing Maestricht to straits is a matter of much importance.
“On the 17th inst. 300 of our horse, under the control of Juan Battista de Monte and Don Alonso de Sotomayor, encountered in the course of a recognizance from Diste [Diest] towards Grave about two thousand reiters, a detachment of those under the command of Count Xuaçemburg [Schwarzburg (fn. 71) ] and the Bastard of Branzuic [Brunswick]; and so did they behave themselves that, with no more loss than that of a single soldier, they slew and captured more than two hundred, and brought away about a hundred horse, whereby so terror-stricken were the enemy that they forthwith crossed the Meuse, saying that they had no mind to muster on this side of the river.
“As to Casimir and France there are the advices which accompany this. We are discussing what we shall have to do, and I will apprise you of the result. I have finished my cure and to all appearance am well; and though they would like to give me some baths, I have resolved not to take them, so that there may be nought to hinder me in view of the present emergency.” (fn. 72)
Namur, 22 June, 1578. Spanish. Autograph.
v. “I wrote to you on the 22nd of last month, and since then fresh advices have been coming daily to hand of the forces that are coming from Germany and other parts by way of succour for the rebels; and by the most recent advices it is understood that Casimir is already on the march with his troops; which consist of from six to eight thousand horse and eighty ensigns of German, French and Swiss infantry, and ten field pieces. The infantry comes down by the Rhine, and the cavalry, they say, will pass by Co Valencia [Coblenz] or lower down near Cologne, so that it will very soon unite with the other six thousand horse, and forty ensigns of English and Scots, that are around Volouch [Bois le Duc]; besides which they are gathering together other troops of the country in great numbers, so that, account being taken of the total strength, it is computed that the enemy will take the field with fourteen or fifteen thousand horse, and thirty-five to forty thousand foot. The Prince [of Parma] is still in the neighbourhood of Lemburg [Limburg], and Octavio [de Gonzaga (fn. 73) ] in that of Mons. In the course of a week we shall unite on this side of the Meuse between Lieège and Maestricht; and there we shall take such decision as the time and the progress of the enemy shall commend to our judgment; and you shall be apprised of the sequel.” (fn. 74)
Namur, 2 July, 1578. Spanish. Autograph.
vi. “Since I wrote you on the second of the present month from Namur I have quitted that town; and on the 10th I arrived at these quarters, where we, the Prince [of Parma] and I met on the 11th; and being apprised that the troops of the rebels, after joining forces around Bolduc [Bois le Duc] had made the tour of the Campiña, (fn. 75) and was but three leagues from Aerschot, we resolved to go and see if it might be possible to give them a lesson; and after I had given orders that the baggage should be left at Tilimon [Tirlemont], that we might march more at ease, I was informed that the enemy had retreated to a strong position at the gates of liera [sic Lierre], and that Casimir, with the greater part of his infantry and cavalry, had arrived at the county of Zutphen, there to muster his troops, and advance forthwith to join this other corps. Seeing that we could not accomplish our design, save at great hazard, which was by no means meet; and finding ourselves so inferior in force, destitute of the needful, and surrounded on all sides by foes—for the Duke of Alençon has a design on the side of Henao [Hainaut]—and all for so many days prepared and provided with the things needful for their purpose; which not only is to recover what they have lost, but also to expel me from the land; we debated how we should comport ourselves in straits and necessity so extreme; and though we discoursed of divers expedients, the result was very problematical, for it was impossible to make a choice without incurring losses to all appearance so equal that there was no knowing how to make the loss that would be the least; for if we were minded to preserve what we have by garrisoning the places, they were so many and so weak that the army would be used up in them, and after all the places would not be secure; nor should such a thing be done. To leave the places as they were could but result in the loss of them with the troops that garrisoned them. To withdraw the troops would be to abandon in a day that which with so much toil it took us all the winter to gain; which would redound much to the reputation of the enemy, since he would enter upon his campaign with honour gained by victory, recovering at one and the same time what he has lost, and constraining us to retreat; a matter which, besides causing in all parts so great a bruit as may be supposed, would put the country of Luxembourg and the rest in such instability that we should have no security, and friends would be converted into foes. And hereto be it added that the places of Deventer and Campen (fn. 76), which were besieged by the forces of the Prince of Orange, would on learning our retreat forthwith surrender, and even Gravelines would reconsider which side it were best to take. Should the rebels achieve so great a victory without loss of troops or time, they will gather spirit to attack us with more vehemence wherever we might be about to pitch [camp]; and they would have very sufficient occasion to persuade the people to draw from feebleness force to sustain the war, and the wretched townsfolk to continue the succours which they have begun to give. Our troops would lose heart, discovering themselves of a sudden in such straits, and at the least we should be obliged to fight at some disadvantage, which would be to hazard everything with such manifest peril as remains to be considered.
“For all these reasons and considerations, and presupposing our inability to play a safe game, but that I must needs in some sort run a hazard, I resolved to guard in Brabant the towns of Louvain and Liau [Leeuw]; to which end I gave orders that Varon de Gibreau [Baron de Chevreaux] with his regiment of Burgundians, and by way of complement 5,000 Spaniards, Germans and Walloons should enter the one place, and that Juan Battista del Monte with two thousand Spaniards, Italians, Germans and Walloons should enter the other place; and that they should provide themselves with victuals for two months and more; for true though it is that this was attended with many a difficulty and inconvenience, such as extreme weakness of the places, the result of distributing six or seven thousand men of our army, leaving the body thereof incapable of effecting aught of importance, there was the peril in which we should abide if for lack of succour one or other of the places should be lost with the garrison, and especially if that place were Louvain. But at last, considering the aforesaid, and that anyhow ruin confronted us if we were not succoured, it seemed most expedient to leave the said places garrisoned, and likewise on the frontier of Henao [Hainault] the towns of Vinz [Binche] and Veaumont [Beaumont], and to withdraw with the rest of the army to a strong position near Namur; and prepare by means of another force to succour whichever of the said places should be besieged, since in this way it seemed that alike reputation and the State would run less hazard, because, besides that there would be an end of the inconveniences aforesaid, it was possible, if one or other of the two said places should hold out for a month or six weeks, as we hope in our Lord will be the case, that the enemy would be so undone that we should have an opportunity of routing him, or giving him a good lesson with the help of the troops that might meanwhile come to succour us; and so I have remained steadfast in this decision, and in pursuance thereof the troops have been quartered in the said places; and attention is given to providing them with victuals and munitions, albeit at great pains, by reason of the great lack for carts for these things.
“Touching the succour which must be made ready, it seems that it consists of six thousand German foot assigned to the command of Count Annibal de Altaemps [Hohenems], and three thousand six hundred cavalry, fifteen hundred being at the charge of Duke Francis of Saxe, and the rest at that of some particular Rithmires [Reiters].
“The Duke of Alençon entered on the 11th inst. Mons in Henao [Hainault] with nine or ten horse, and was very well received by the Count of Layng [Lalaing] and that town; some Frenchmen have begun to enter, and it is understood that he is followed by great numbers of infantry and cavalry which are already on the frontiers of Picardy, so that on all sides we find ourselves surrounded by enemies.” …
The Abbey of Hoplintre [Oplinter], 29 July, 1578. Spanish. Autograph. (fn. 77)
vii. “Your letters of the last of June and the 19th of July I have received, and glad I am as is my wont, to hear of the good health, felicity and contentment in which you live; for there is no less wisdom in knowing how to be content, and therein to rejoice, than in enduring at the proper time toils and adversities. Fortunate are you that though you have reached the goal, you have taken safe harbourage, and poor is he that drifts without knowing whither he is going or how he is to stop, the elements being adverse to him. This man am I who with much reason am deserving of your pity, not for the travail of body and soul which is involved in sustaining the burden hanging upon my shoulders, but because it is desired that I do so by miracle, and thereby effect the conquest and pacification of that which others were not able to preserve at the cost of so many millions of gold; and as you know the conditions under which it is humanly possible to do such things, and ponder with much sagacity the difficulties of this war, I need not weary or worry you with the details thereof. Enough that in other times it would have been easier to wage it without than it is to-day with pay for the troops, because there is the same change of spirit as of all other things.” …
The Camp near Tilimon [Tirlemont], 12 August, 1578. Spanish. Autograph. (fn. 78)
viii. “Although by the relation which accompanies this despatch you will learn what has happened, nevertheless I will herein set forth in more detail the reasons that induced us to go seek the enemy; for it is well that you should know them and be apprised of the truth. Finding ourselves in the plight which will be manifest by that which accompanies this letter, and understanding that Casimir's arrival would be deferred to a date later by some days than had been expected; and considering that it was necessary, nay, rather compulsory, that we should lose not a moment of time in thinking and endeavouring somehow to improve our affairs, we discussed what we should do; and it seemed that it would be most expedient to rout and destroy the enemy, who was posted a league and a half from Malines, before Casimir should join forces with him. The pros and contras were discussed, and it was represented that it behoved to make this attempt in such manner and with such security as that this army should run no risk, since therein was involved not only the re-establishment of what is at stake here, but also the preservation of what else there is; that this being so it behoved to ponder much before going to battle with an army superior in numbers, horse and foot alike, established in a strong position entrenched and in the middle of his own lands; especially as it might so speedily be succoured, as well by the said Casimir as by the numerous force of Frenchmen which was already in the country of Hainault; and besides, if we were inclined to attack, there was no doubt about the risk, and should we refrain from attacking the enemy or giving him occasion to fight, we must needs make a retreat subject to all the loss usually incident to such retreats. On the other hand it was taken into consideration that affairs were in such a plight that in no manner might we avoid hazarding much; and that for the very purpose which was imposed upon us by reason of the great strength of the enemy and our weakness, to wit, to be on the defensive and economize our strength, there was nothing that would be better for us than to compass the undoing of this corps before the incorporation therein of the forces of Dukes Casimir and Alençon, since if God should accord us this mercy, albeit they would not cease to be numerically superior to us, the superiority would be ours in spirit and reputation, so that at any rate we should not have to dread falling into the jeopardy in which they would put us if they should all unite, and united seek us, and coop us up in a place where we should perish for lack of victuals; that since it was evident that we could not avoid running this risk, it seemed that there was less inconvenience and hazard in attacking this part of the enemy—we should sally from our fort with the troops that we had, for though they were numerically inferior, this defect might be compensated by their better quality—than in being subsequently attacked by all his army; that finding ourselves so constrained to adopt extraordinary means of succouring ourselves, it was not meet to wait until the opportunities came to hand, but we should seek them, and that should we do so with good ground and with reason, God would reward us, since the cause was His and so holy and just that He could not fail to intervene on its behalf: that should the main object not be accomplished, we should have complied with our obligations by leaving nothing untried for our benefit; and some reputation would be gained by having gone to seek the enemy and offer him battle; whereby as well the troops as the subjects would be inspirited, as they both alike had sore need to be; and so we resolved on the action, and though we did not attain thereby the aim and advantage that we desired, still much reputation has been gained, and the enemy is terror-stricken, seeing that, when he thought to keep us cooped up and timorous, we fell upon him so unexpectedly that he never knew that we were in quest of him until the very day of our arrival at 7 o'clock in the morning; but as he was in a position so strong and fortified, he had time to put himself in array. (fn. 79) At daybreak on the 7th inst. the enemy arrived at Ariscot [Aerschot], and finding therein a company of Germans, and another of mounted arquebusiers, they carelessly entered the place without meeting with any resistance. They sacked it, and violated the Viguinales [sic Beguinales ?], ravishing the nuns, and perpetrating on the Most Holy Sacrament all the abominations that tongue can tell. As soon as I was apprised of this affair, I sent a large force of cavalry to note what was going on, and how many of our men were lost; which force was no sooner sighted by the enemy than they abandoned the locality, and took to flight; and so the cavalry returned to rest in their quarters the same day, having slain 15 or 20 of those that could be overtaken. The said Germans and mounted arquebusiers saved their lives almost to a man, for as they did not fight, their dead amounted to but nine or ten who were unable to take to flight. This very day—that one mishap should not be unattended by another—a thunderbolt fell on the town of Liau [Leeuw], whereby half the munitions that had been provided for the defence of the town were burned; which in the straits in which we find ourselves is extremely inconvenient.
“Intelligence is to hand, albeit I know not if it is certified, that Casimir has arrived with his cavalry at the enemy's camp, and that he is awaiting the arrival of the infantry; likewise that a hundred ensigns of Frenchmen, a thousand mounted arquebusiers, and a thousand lances will enter on the 18th inst.; and I am dallying in this neighbourhood because, though it is not without risk that I do so, the enemy being in such close proximity, I must needs do so in order to avert the immediate loss of the towns Tilimon [Tirlemont], Diste [Diest] and Aerschot, and the investment of Louayna [Louvain] and Liau [Leeuw]; but because, finding ourselves so inferior in strength, and surrounded on all sides by enemies so powerful, we can in no wise vanquish them in the field, I have bidden Gabrio Çervellon (fn. 80) to go and fortify the position of Buge [Bouge or Bauge, near Namur (fn. 81) ], where my lord the Emperor was, that thither we may withdraw when there is nought else for us to do; but there is such a scarcity of money that it is impossible to exaggerate the difficulty with which all work, no matter how trifling, is done.
“It is a week since the Emperor's ambassador, the Count of Xuacemberg [Schwarzenberg], who some days ago was with Archduke Mathias and the Estates, came here to learn whether his Majesty, and I in his name, would be well pleased that his master should be mediator for peace; and whether, in order to treat thereof, I would be pleased to grant an armistice. I answered him that albeit there is nought that we, to wit, his Majesty and I, have desired so much as to arrive at a good peace, I should rejoice that the Emperor should treat thereof; that he would find us very ready to adjust ourselves to the repose and quietude of these countries, provided the Catholic Roman religion and his Majesty's obedience should remain in the position and condition that reason required; and that should the Estates resolve upon the armistice, they would find me much disposed to that which should be just and reasonable; but in the conferences that we had touching this matter I was always on my guard to show no sort of weakness, but rather that I found myself in so good a position that I must needs be entreated. Therewith he has returned in hopes of doing some good. I have given him to understand how sorry I am to see Mathias in so evil a plight, because there was no doubt that, if he should not forthwith act for himself, and unite with the Germans, they would shamefully cast him off; for the Duke of Alençon would brook no compeer, and one should ponder how injurious it would be to the Emperor and the Empire if Frenchmen should get a firm footing here. (fn. 82) I will report the sequel, and meanwhile there will be no sort of neglect by way of omission on my part to do what should be to our advantage, for I shall attend as far as possible to the negotiation and military matters, aiming at sowing tares between the French and the Germans, and setting them in mutual distrust and discord; to which end no possible diligence shall be omitted, and use shall be made of all means that shall seem meet, even to offering the Germans and Flemings our help towards the expulsion of the Frenchman, if he should have no mind to go.
“The Duke of Alençon sent [an envoy] to apprise the Estates of his arrival, and to crave of them fulfilment of the terms which they had made with him. They have replied that they can take no decision without consulting the Queen of England and learning her will pursuant to the capitulation which they have made with her; that they would send a person to treat of this business, and that he would do what is meet; which answer they have sent him by the Duke of Ariscot [Aerschot (fn. 83) ] who has come to visit him on their part; but meanwhile I understand that the people of Mons have received in the town four companies of Frenchmen (fn. 84), and in France the din of arms is incessant; and one sees many a sign that that King makes a feint of doing one thing and does another thing; and for my part I doubt not that, if matters go well with his brother, he will make war at his mother's instigation, for she it is that steers the ship, nor of her purpose have I a good opinion.
“That which troubles us more than the multitude of the enemies is the [scarcity of] victuals, whereby I verily dread we must be reduced to a greater extremity than all the forces, however great, can burden us withal. It is a matter that I foresaw from the beginning, but lack of money has precluded us from providing the remedy, nor has it suited his Majesty to do so. Reason and patience are exhausted in view of such indolence and negligence in a matter in which no less is at stake than honour and the safety of all his realms. May God, whose cause it is, aid us.”
From the Camp near Tilimon [Tirlemont], 12 August, 1578. Spanish. Autograph. (fn. 85)
ix. “Gladly would I write to you every day, for in so writing to one that so truly sympathizes with me in my labours I find relief; but on the other hand I should be loath to give you the sorry tidings which you yourself hear. Your letters of the last of August I have received, and exceedingly rejoiced I am to know that you are in good health, and are passing your days in such tranquillity while so uneasily goes the world; for reflection on its troublous course will occasion you all the more satisfaction that you yourself are aloof therefrom. And I surmise that only the prudence of Giovanni Andrea Doria could have availed to bring him to such a frame of mind when most meet it was that you should rule the world; a great deal of which, one observes, you may have declined, and that without reasonable or just cause; and so, methinks, by this example a great many folk who were preparing to climb the ladder will be deterred, for lack of that in which you surpassed them.
“Be this as it may, many years may you live, seeing that such is the condition to which God has brought you that you are inhibited by no man from passing the rest of your life in honour, pleasure and ease. I deem it very fortunate that you have turned this last period thereof to account for God and yourself, and that you place not yourself in the balance of affairs, there to give good or bad account of yourself, and to subject yourself to the delays (?) that nowadays are customary. And that being verily so, you may ponder what patience and strength is involved in resisting in accordance with my plighted word, while not only am I enveloped by innumerable foes without means of holding out for more than three months, as without a doubt they will close the passages; but I must reluctantly recognize that, this being lost, all the rest will be lost…
“To cut the matter short, for Don Pedro de Toledo's servant cannot tarry any longer, I add this, that the camp of the rebels has now come so very close to us that we could not but retreat to this position, which is but half a mile from the spot which we had pre-appointed as our last refuge in view of fighting being hopeless; and they have pitched their camp between Brussels and Louvain, about five miles from here. (fn. 86) Meanwhile the French too go on steadily gaining strength on the side of Henegouwe [Hainault], so that we are all but blockaded, and eat such wretched food as we have been able to gather; and in case the King of France should break in on the side of Burgundy with the army that he is making ready—as I doubt not that he will do if he see his brother on a firm footing—you may ponder how we shall stand, for it will be necessary to hazard a battle with them, so few as we are against so many, or to open a way in order to win through, abandoning this position. I have renewed my request to his Majesty to send me at the very least instruction how to act; and though I succumb, I shall conform and give effect to his will. I fear that the remedy will come too late. God be with us! It was quite impossible that I should not be sorely vexed by the omission hitherto to make an effort; but now I observe that as they have cut off our hands, so likewise is it resolved that we are to protend to them our necks.
“I trust that all these troubles may occasion you no more heaviness of heart than may be felt by a man and a friend whom they do not concern, placed as you are in a position to live a good life and remember me in your prayers, seeing that in them you may trust, whereas I aforetime would never have trusted therein. Other very vexatious particulars I reserve for another letter, for by this there is no time for anything more. Our Lord have you in His safekeeping.”
From the Camp a mile from Namur, 16 September, 1578. Intercepted. Netherlandish. Cf. Bor, Nederlandtsche Oorloghen (fol.), Deel ii. bk. xii. ff. 64d–5. (fn. 87)
This letter was accompanied by one to Don Pedro de Mendoza, the Catholic ambassador at Genoa, which was little more than a summary of the foregoing. Don John complained that, despite the menace on the side of France, King Philip came to no decision, or to none that was intelligible to him, while their lives were worth but a moment's purchase; and that, much as he appealed to the King, he was little profited thereby. Meanwhile he was wont to have cavalry always in touch with the foe, of whose doings he was thereby warned; and he purposed to adjust himself to cope with them; but he foresaw that if his Majesty should still be so negligent as he had theretofore been, the result would be total and irremediable loss, and affairs would, by reason of drowsiness and heedlessness, receive a decided impulse and bent to such ends as the devil might desire. They would do their utmost to the last breath. The rest was with God to dispose as He might.
Don John's death (1 Oct., 1578) was attended with some suspicion of poison, but mere suspicion it remained and still remains. The complex of disastrous circumstances, and in particular the pestilence that was then raging in the camp, aggravated by anxiety and the galling sense of desertion by the King, suffice to account for the final catastrophe. His heart was interred in the Cathedral of Namur by order of his nephew, the redoubtable Alexander Farnese, Prince of Parma; his embalmed corpse was brought to Spain for burial beside that of his father, the Emperor Charles V, in the Escorial. (fn. 88)
Beside the great drama on the Continent affairs in England and Scotland sink into comparative insignificance. On behalf of the Queen of Scots, at the instance of the Bishop of Ross as her proctor, evidence relevant to the tragic death of the Duke of Albany, 10 Feb., 15678 (fn. 89), and tending to invalidate the Queen's marriage with the Earl of Both well as in form heretical, and effected by forcible abduction and intimidation, was taken in 1575 by sworn depositions in the Ecclesiastical Court at Paris. The evidence thus perpetuated was collected for the satisfaction of the Pope, to whom it was to be transmitted under seal of the Court (pp. 215–30, infra).
As to Bothwell's alleged Last Declaration, which excited Queen Mary's curiosity in May, 1576, see pp. 237–8, infra. On the assignment, 24 May, 1576, of the duchy of Touraine to the Duke of Alençon in appanage (pp. 356–7, infra), the charge which Queen Mary had thereon in respect of her dowry was by royal ordinance, 31 Oct., 1576, transferred to the county of Vermandois. As the hope of the Queen's deliverance by force of arms became more and more faint, the policy of the Vatican was directed to compassing, if possible, the abduction from Scotland of her son, in order that he might be brought up in the Catholic faith and way of life. This scheme, which had the Queen's approval and was the subject of much discussion at Paris between her ambassador the Archbishop of Glasgow, the Nuncio Salviati and the Cardinal of Guise, postulated money not only for the purpose of bribing the heretical grandees by whom the Prince was surrounded, and in particular his governor, Sir Alexander Erskine, but at every stage (pp. 318, 332–3). Indeed it was estimated that his removal from Scotland to France could not be effected without an aid from Rome of 15,000 or at least 10,000 crowns, which aid was not forthcoming (pp. 346, 351,358, 362–3, 376, infra.). Thus the best hope of re-establishing the Catholic religion in Scotland was wrecked on the rock of finance. (fn. 90)
After the Prince's accession to the throne, and the abandonment of the desperate project entertained by the Dukes of Lorraine and Guise of raiding the country and kidnapping him, as no subsidy for his abduction was procurable (pp. 398, 403,422–3, infra,) the eventual estrangement of the King from the Catholic faction was a foregone conclusion (pp. 431–2, 465, 529, infra.)