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Sophie Crawford Lomas and Allen B. Hinds (editors)

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'Preface', Calendar of State Papers Foreign, Elizabeth, Volume 21, Part 2: June 1586-March 1587 (1927), pp. V-XXX. URL: Date accessed: 18 April 2014. Add to my bookshelf


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The reasons for separating the series Holland and Flanders from the rest of the foreign papers have been given in the preface to the first part of this volume. Holland alone expands to 6 vols. for 1586, eight for 1587 and ten for 1588, and there are in addition the very important letter books of Leicester and Wilkes. As a consequence of this, the papers for these two series, with the other matter which naturally belongs to them, will require three volumes to correspond with the one volume of the general series, 1586-8, already published. Of these three volumes the present is the first, and it carries the story down to the end of March, 1587, including the last months of Leicester's first term in the Netherlands, and the period of his absence down to the appearance upon the scene of Lord Buckhurst. Although the history of these few months has been described by Motley in his "United Netherlands" in much detail, the result of careful research among original papers, including many of those printed here, there will be found a good deal to add to his account not always of minor importance, and a full presentation of the English side of the case, to which, perhaps, sufficient weight has not been given either by the American or by native historians.


Although Leicester's personal position in the Netherlands appeared to be compromised by the queen's wrath at his acceptance of the title of supreme governor as well as by rumours that peace negotiations were on foot, the position in the field gave him considerable satisfaction. The English troops had faced the redoubtable Spanish soldiers and had no reason to feel ashamed of the result. 'In fourteen days,' wrote Leicester, 'I took all the enemy's forts and castles that did offend us, except Nimegen' (p. 2) ; he seemed inclined to claim an absolute ascendancy for his men. 'Have we,' he exclaimed later, 'been beaten of the enemy through lack of any order among us? Have we lost anything but that which treason hath delivered? Have we given place to the enemy at any time when he hath sought us? Have we gone about anything to take by force, but we have done it? . . . Have not your men prospered in all their fights?' (p. 195). But the ensuing campaign did little to justify this optimism ; throughout the summer the enemy continued to score one success after another. The loss of Grave, early in June, was quickly followed by that of Venlo, an even stronger place. Neuss soon after went the same way though Leicester had expressed the greatest confidence in its powers of resistance based on previous failures there of Charles the Bold and the Emperor Charles V. (p. 76). These repeated and unexpected successes of the enemy may have been due in great measure to Parma's formidable battering train, to which allusion is made more than once (pp. 101, 103, 116). Leicester himself complained of the poor quality of the Dutch as fighting men (p. 12), and attributed the disasters to treason and faintheartedness. He did not seem to realise the defects of his own leadership. Although the enemy's difficulties over supply were so great that it was estimated he could not place more than 9,000 foot and 3,000 horse in the field (p. 18), Leicester was content to leave him with the initiative and to stand passively awaiting his strokes. He frittered away his superior numbers by dispersing them in garrisons. He pleaded, in excuse, that he was obliged to hold certain towns strongly or they would go over to the enemy, because of the large numbers of papists in them, who favoured the Spaniards. Over 4,000 men were thus swallowed up in five towns alone, Utrecht, Arnheim, Amersfoort, Wagenen, Heusden, the first named being considered particularly mutinous and factious (p. 55). This garrison duty itself proved demoralising to the troops, who were not kept under proper control, so that Digges, the muster master, declared that the men were so licentiously accustomed that any due military discipline seemed intolerable to them (p. 115).

In Sir John Norris, Leicester had at his side a competent soldier whose advice should have been invaluable to him. But for Norris the earl had a dislike which grew almost to a mania, so that the colonel found himself persistently slighted, his activities restrained and his advice crossed by those who had no experience of war (pp. 49, 92). Though kept in the dark concerning the general's plans he could see well enough that by separating their forces they risked irreparable loss in the bishopric of Cologne and the provinces of Gelderland, Overyssel and Friesland (p. 93).

As each town was attacked in turn Leicester began to make preparations for its relief, but was always too late to effect anything. He represented that the funds supplied to him were not sufficient to enable him to keep the field. 'We do still make camps,' wrote Sidney, 'and straight again mar them for want of means' (p. 130). To meet the situation the States decided to make a grant of 200,000 florins extraordinary a month for four months, on condition that by the middle of August the earl should present himself in the field with 3,000 horse and 10,000 foot (p. 73). Elated by this Leicester announced to Burghley his intention of freeing the Rhine and all the passages to Cologne ere many months were passed (p. 108). But performance lagged sadly behind these glowing visions. Men were indeed drawn out of garrison to form a field force, but the arrangements made were so inadequate and the wants so many that Dr. Clarke declared that they would not be able to keep the field a month (p. 132). Norris, who was sent forward to command the vanguard, complained that of 800 horse assigned to him only 200 had arrived ; and they found themselves without artillery, pontoons or pioneers, so they were merely advertising the enemy of their intentions and giving him ample time to make his preparations (p. 133). The artillery, when it came at length, proved so unserviceable that three or four of the best pieces broke down after firing a few rounds (p. 150). Even when he was at length fairly launched Leicester did not consider himself strong enough to offer battle to Parma, but he hoped, by a demonstration to draw him away from the siege to Rheinberg, which he was undertaking. By capturing Doesborgh and threatening Zutphen Leicester did actually succeed in effecting his purpose, but that was the extent of his achievement ; the action at Warnsfield, at which Sidney fell, did not prevent the convoy from entering Zutphen. By drawing a circle of strong places about the town Leicester was convinced that it must eventually fall into his hands, and with that comfortable assurance he made no further effort.

His army was indeed in no condition to undertake serious operations. Norris, his second in command, complained that his subordinates were encouraged to ignore his authority, and he quarrelled with both Sir William Stanley and with Pelham, who commanded the horse (pp. 137, 150). If the chief officers were at loggerheads, almost within sight of the enemy, the men were in no better case. Instead of the 15,000 foot, 3,000 horse and 1,000 pioneers, of which it was estimated the field force should consist (p. 140), Leicester had with him less than 7,000 foot, many of them raw English levies. Of the native Dutch there were only 2,000. The rest of the army consisted of bands of wild Irish, under Stanley, utterly undisciplined, who at the taking of Doesborgh, in spite of strict orders, broke loose and pillaged the churches and houses (pp. 150, 153). The troops moreover were so badly paid and fed that desertion was constant, as the men found that they got better treatment from the enemy (p. 181).


Dr. Japiske remarks that the powers of the States General in these years (1585-7) was much strengthened, and there was no longer any room for a governor with great powers and the States to live together. (fn. 1) The offer of the governorship to Leicester was therefore the more remarkable, but it soon became evident that the States meant to hedge his authority about with many restrictions. They looked to him to act as chief executive officer but claimed that they were the source of all power as the sovereignty resided with them, and they reserved to themselves the disposal of all contributions, save the stipulated monthly allowances, church goods, confiscations, appointments and much besides (p. 135).

Leicester was very far from recognising these extensive claims of the States. They were indeed but delegates from the several Provinces, to which all decisions were supposed to be referred back for confirmation. They could claim no popular mandate, although they had conducted the government since the time of the revolt from Spain. They really represented a small oligarchy, aristocratic in complexion. Their weakness consisted in the local jealousies of the various Provinces, whose interests were not all alike, and the enormous preponderance of the Province of Holland, which counted for more than all the other Provinces together.

Under such conditions the States were in no position to offer serious resistance to a determined governor, who also had an army at his back ; but so long as they controlled the power of the purse he was obliged to be dependent upon them to a certain extent. Leicester therefore resented the restraints which the States sought to put upon him. His attitude was that the States were unpopular and unrepresentative ; that the people left to themselves desired nothing better than the queen's rule and would gladly contribute largely for their defence against the enemy (p. 23). He therefore set up a chamber of finances, which he claimed to be the revival of an old body. By means of this he hoped to derive the greatest advantages, taking financial control from the States, who had been guilty, it was alleged, of serious abuses. He made treasurer one Ryngault, who had disclosed many of these irregularities to him (p. 33). The chamber does not seem to have been partisan in its constitution, for the Count of Mors was president and Paul Buys one of its members, with other prominent Dutchmen (p. 49), but the appointment of Ryngault was an error of judgment, as he was looked upon as a foreigner, with a very dubious record, suspected of sympathy with the enemy.

The States did not wait long before taking counter action on their side and on the 22nd July they presented a list of grievances couched in 'very close and wary terms,' but leaving no doubt as to their meaning (p. 100). They followed this up by denying that Leicester had any authority to set up such a court or to establish officers without their licence (p. 135). These papers contain scarcely any further particulars of the history of this chamber. The States took immediate exception to the appointment of Ryngault, who was soon after put under arrest, at their instance. As Buys, who had refused to serve under him, was also arrested about the same time, it is unlikely that the chamber functioned for long or successfully.

Considered as the first round in a contest between the governor and the States, the honours would appear to rest with the latter. Leicester had reason to respect their skill. He complained that he had never dealt with such headstrong people ; there was no reasoning with them and they had made two or three attempts to resume the government into their hands (p. 107). It had come in fact to a struggle between the governor, who meant to exercise his powers, and the States, who regretted that they had conceded too much to him. The situation was so strained that the States would not go to any place where the governor absolutely commanded, nor he to anywhere where they were in a like position (p. 117).

Such a state of affairs was both dangerous and impossible of continuance. Some of those with Leicester believed that the only solution for these disorders was for the queen to accept the sovereignty of the country and to rule it with a strong hand (pp. 120, 128). Even Sidney was constrained to write : 'There is nothing will keep these people in better order than that they see we are strong' (p. 129). In a paper prepared by Ryngault he argues that the queen should take the government, not only for the sake of order, but because of the financial advantages it would bring (p. 177).

The queen, however, had no intention of doing any such thing. In an examination of the situation by Dr. Clarke he says three courses are open. The first, by annexation and conquest he dismisses as too costly and uncertain, 'for never any king of this land was able to continue wars beyond the sea above one year.' The second, a sharp war in conjunction with the Dutch to force the enemy to seek peace would require heavier charges, the levying of which, from policy, should be left to the States, and hostilities would have to be pursued with the utmost vigour. The third, to confine operations to the defence of the four Provinces, was the only possible course if the queen did not wish to be at greater charge, and in this case the administration of the finances must be left to the Provinces themselves (pp. 247-9). It would appear from this that the queen's determination to limit her charges and Leicester's policy of a strong government were at cross purposes. The queen intended the Provinces to bear the greater part and eventually the whole of the costs of the war. The outlay incurred by Leicester in his year of administration simply appalled both her and her Council. 'They do greatly stagger,' wrote Wilkes, 'at the excessive charge of these wars under his Excellency's government . . . affirming that the realm of England is not able to supply a moiety of that charge' (p. 164). Yet the only results were disaster in the field and growing dissatisfaction and disorder in the Provinces. The people looked to the queen to defend them, but they were daunted and terrified by the enemy's successes (p. 125).

In the month of July the queen decided to send out Wilkes, 'to carry my mind and see how all goes there' as she explained to Leicester (p. 94). The earl expressed his approval and declared that Wilkes was a marvellous sufficient man and her Majesty could not have chosen a fitter for the purpose (p. 122). When Wilkes returned with his report it was decided to send him out again almost at once, this time to take part in the government with a seat in the Council of State, Leicester himself having asked that if any one was sent out it should be Wilkes (p. 143).

The objects of this mission, though not explicitly set forth, are sufficiently indicated in three papers given here (pp. 168, 169, 174). Wilkes was to endeavour to reduce expenses and to increase the contributions of the States, to the end that in a short time they might ease her Majesty of the whole charge ; he was to admonish Leicester not to estrange the goodwill of the States and Council or make any show of meddling or severing the people and the States, in order to prevent his government from growing odious, as it was beginning to do ; finally he was to prepare the way for the earl's honourable recall on the pretext that his presence was needed in England.

It is clear that from the first Wilkes dreaded an employment that put him in such an ambiguous position towards the favourite. He asks for some guarantee to shield him from the earl's jealousy and hatred, with authority, so that it might not seem 'that he did things of his own head as to encounter him' (p. 168). Walsingham tried to reassure him with professions of friendship, saying that he had dealt earnestly with the queen to credit no wrong reports of him in his absence, and that she had promised to stand therein his gracious lady (p. 251). But Wilkes was not satisfied and appealed direct to the queen not to misjudge him unheard (p. 265), and he reverts to the subject again and again. He was convinced that Leicester bore a grudge against him for his too plain dealing in his former voyage (p. 314), presumably meaning his report which would seem to have led to the earl's recall.


Leicester was apparently unconscious that his term was drawing to its close, for while the one thought of the government at home was to cut down expenses he was discussing with his Council and the States the despatch of a mission to England to ask for increased succour. He represents that the matter was first raised by the Council who pressed it so urgently upon him that he was fain to consent. He complained that he was kept in the dark about the policy which the queen intended to adopt towards the Netherlands. He did not know what the deputies would propose, though he felt sure that their ability to contribute would be better than they would admit until they should plainly see what assurance they might have of the continuance of her Majesty's favour to them (p. 163). (fn. 2) A week later the question was definitely submitted to the States, with a suggestion that the queen should be asked for a sum of 50,000l. to 60,000l. (p. 182). It is clear that Leicester was active in promoting this mission, if the plan did not actually originate with him ; he cannot have realised that a demand for more money would rouse the queen to fury. The States readily agreed to the sending of deputies (p. 186), but to this proposal Leicester had tacked a demand for increased contributions from the country, for a term of years, and on this they required time for reflection. They might well think that it was a further attempt on Leicester's part to take financial control out of their hands. Before they had made up their minds Leicester's departure was announced. In a farewell speech he rated them soundly for their slackness in the matter and for not informing him of what the commissioners were going to treat about or indeed if they were going at all, though he had repeatedly reminded them of the need to deal with her Majesty speedily, and that long before he thought of going into England (pp. 225-6). To this the States returned a conciliatory reply, regretting the earl's departure ; declaring that by his proposal and advice they had decided to send the commissioners, giving him a copy of their instructions, and assuring him that they would do their utmost in the matter of further contributions (p. 228). By the end of the month two of the deputies had already gone over (p. 245).

Meanwhile Henry Killigrew had come over from England with a letter of the queen for Leicester containing a detailed criticism of his administration. The letter is not to be found here but its contents may be gathered from the long and categorical reply sent by Leicester (pp. 189-97). The States also presented him with another remonstrance, claiming, among other things, the right to control appointments, taxation and the administration of justice. Leicester thus went away leaving the dispute as to sovereign power unresolved. Amid these distractions Leicester busied himself with the arrangements for carrying on the government during his absence, protecting himself by a proclamation denouncing certain false and mischievous rumours concerning the reasons for his departure, and declaring that he was going for the benefit of the country and its defence against its enemies (p. 235).

Arrived in England Leicester had a most gracious reception from his royal mistress and felt justifiably confident that he could satisfy her of all his doings (p. 257). He dismissed from his mind the troublesome affairs of the Netherlands and devoted his attention to the case of the Queen of Scots (p. 251).

It cannot be said that these papers throw much further light on the ambiguous character of Robert Dudley, though his letters are numerous and often voluble. He had few friends ; but that is the common lot of favourites. His dislikes were often intense, and not seldom on very insufficient grounds, and his resentment, once excited, was implacable. But he stood by his creatures and subordinates. He announced his determination to uphold Deventer as burgomaster of Utrecht in spite of the intrigues against him (p. 234). He refused to give up Ryngaut to those who were clamouring for his blood, declaring that he would be no butcher to the greatest monarch in the world (p. 239). He professed his devotion to the people of the Netherlands and spent himself and his substance freely in their service. It is possible that his plans for a tighter military control of the Provinces, including his designs on North Holland (p. 63) were conceived in what he believed to be their best interests. He had, indeed, no love for the States and accused them of self-seeking and factiousness. He strongly resented their attempts to control him, but he was careful at the same time to avoid the appearance of despotic government. The trial of Hemert was conducted by a representative council of officers. The arrest and imprisonment of Buys were by order of certain officials at Urecht. His chamber of finances was certainly not packed with his partisans, nor was the Council of State, which he left in charge of the government at his departure. He seems almost to have gone out of his way to appoint opponents, as he left Hohenlohe in command of the foreign troops and Norris of the English. The restrictions which he placed on Norris and the Council can hardly have been intended to discredit them as any failure from this cause must inevitably recoil on his own head. The perfidiousness with which he is so often charged does not appear from his action in these or other matters. What does become apparent is his incapacity. He was entrusted with a task far beyond his powers and he does not seem to have had the wit even to recognise his own limitations.

At the time of Leicester's departure the States had insisted on their sovereign rights. The absence of the governor now gave them an advantage in their determination to limit his authority. They found a useful ally for this task in the person of Philip, Count of Hohenlohe. Ever since the preceding summer this noble had shown signs of dissatisfaction and had threatened to resign his office of lieutenant general, so that he was suspected of a leaning to the Spaniards or to have taken serious offence at something (p. 35). Leicester charged Paul Buys with fomenting his discontent (p. 38), and it is perhaps significant that upon the earl's departure Hohenlohe at once set about to secure the release of the Dutch statesman (p. 321). From England Leicester was advised to conciliate the goodwill of Hohenlohe (p. 94) and the queen herself wrote to him (p. 95). For the rest Leicester professed himself satisfied that Hohenlohe's attitude was due to his impression that the queen did not mean to support the cause, and so he had resolved to go his ways if she should abandon the defence of the Netherlands. Accordingly on receiving assurances from Leicester the count renewed his oath that for so long as the queen should deal in the cause he would be her servant. Nevertheless when Wilkes came over a few weeks later he found that Hohenlohe was keeping out of Leicester's way and understood that he was being influenced by Buys against the earl's government. Wilkes did not find that either the States or the people had much affection for the Count, for though brave he had many defects of character, and Wilkes thought they would be glad to be rid of him if they might without danger (p. 136).

At the moment of Leicester's departure Hohenlohe was behaving as an opponent of his government and an enemy to the English nation, and Wilkes sent a specific warning that he would presently attempt some dangerous alteration (p. 233). Yet Leicester left him in command of the foreign troops although he asked Wilkes to let him know how he behaved (p. 239).

As soon as Leicester was gone Hohenlohe set about to strengthen his position, securing divers frontier towns and places to himself and putting in governors and garrisons to his devotion (p. 253). Members of the Council were in frequent communication with him both openly and secretly at his quarters at Delft and such was his influence, whether from love or fear, that no suggestion to limit his authority would be entertained for a moment (p. 254). In the process of strengthening his party he won over the Scottish commander Balfour with some of his captains and over the count's friendly board Balfour protested himself wholly at his devotion and ready to join with him in all that he should undertake in diminution of Leicester's authority (p. 258). Similarly the count continued to add to his party all those who were ill affected to Leicester's rule, and he finally secured the adhesion of the Count of Mors, who had been no friend to him, but Hohenlohe induced him to visit his quarters and entertained him for several days. There, in his cups, he was heard to speak most disparagingly of the English nation (p. 308). In the reduction of the Dutch companies carried out at this time, Hohenlohe was able to manage everything according to his fancy, so that almost every man that was well affected to Leicester or the queen was cassed and only those retained that were at his devotion (p. 261).

It was suggested that Hohenlohe's behaviour was due to some disgrace pretended to have been done to him by the English government (p. 253). He himself, in a letter protesting his devotion to the queen, claimed to have been ill used by Leicester in that he left the country without giving him audience or having any communication with him (p. 352). But his machinations had begun before Leicester's departure and he had been avoiding the governor for some weeks. His pretext is therefore as flimsy as his protestations were insincere. It is more likely that he was actuated by personal ambition in a situation that seemed to be favourable.

Leicester's sudden departure and the inadequate measures taken to provide for a satisfactory government in his absence did indeed afford exceptional opportunities for any one who wished to fish in troubled waters. Disorders rapidly increased and dissensions were constantly breaking out in the provinces which could not be appeased for lack of the authority and person of a governor (p. 262). Opinion was divided and while towns like Utrecht and Oestergoe sent to offer the queen the sovereignty, feeling elsewhere ran strongly against the English. Wilkes found that efforts were being made in the Council to hide many things from his knowledge (p. 255). The confusion and irresolution that reigned and the scant respect shown for Leicester and the Council made him weary of his place and anxious to return home (pp. 254, 276).

On the 12th December six deputies came to the Council of State to demand Ryngault, and being refused broke out into abuse of Leicester's government declaring that for the sake of certain individuals he hazarded divers provinces, instancing the appointment of the receivers of Brabant and Friesland and that of the Burgomaster Deventer at Utrecht, which had led to dissension and affected the contributions adversely. Similar words of reproach and discontent were daily cast in the teeth of the English (p. 269). When demands were sent out for the residue of the contributions several provinces refused to pay, alleging that by order of Leicester and his Council they had already disbursed as much or more in victuals, money, munitions and other provisions, and they must first have allowance for these disbursements (p. 307). Faced with this emergency the Council of State sent to represent to them the plight of the country and that if the money was not paid it would be necessary to disband the army. But the Council had little authority, the members personally not commanding the respect that was fitting (p. 265), so that they were little regarded either by the towns, people or soldiers (p. 322).

The news of the loss of Deventer stirred all these embers of discontent into a blaze. When it was first announced the whole college of the States came into the Council and charged them with extreme negligence, and on being told that the Council's hands were tied by Leicester's act of restriction they broke out into extreme speeches against the act, declaring that it was and would be the loss of their whole estate (p. 331). Under this excitement the letter of the 4th February to Leicester was drawn up, amounting to an indictment of his administration. The nation suffered with him. 'By this treason,' wrote Wilkes, 'we are all grown hateful to this people having nothing in their mouths but the treasons and disorders of the English' (p. 333).

The chief centre of this feeling was in Holland, by far the most important member of the confederacy, which, with Zeeland, bore four fifths of the charges of the war (p. 89). Their strength was at sea, where they had the advantage of the Spaniards, and whence they derived their wealth. They were the least vulnerable of all to attack by land. Their spirit of independence was high and many of their leading men were of opinion that they were strong enough to defend themselves without foreign assistance (p. 382). Those who were of this mind had little sympathy with the disposition of the more exposed parts to lean on English help, and desired to bring them all under their own control (p. 335) or else to abandon them to their fate.

Under the influence of the excitement caused by the Deventer affair a determined effort was made to assert the ascendancy of Holland and to eliminate the control of Leicester and the English. In this Hohenlohe showed himself a moving spirit, acting with young Maurice of Nassau, who seems to have come entirely under his influence. By the advice of the States Maurice assumed the title of Prince of Orange and was proclaimed governor of Holland, Zeeland and Friesland. He was at the same time made commander of the forces, with Hohenlohe as his lieutenant general and all the troops were required to take the oath of fealty to him. A determined effort was started to increase the numbers of the native troops, the States offering large pay to all who would serve (p. 385). The Council of State and the Chamber of Finances were left without authority or influence, the States taking over their functions (p. 381). The English soldiers were threatened to be treated as enemies and outlaws. To secure control of the Provinces and towns the governors were required to take the oath to the new governor general. To Zeeland, where the English were entrenched at Flushing, Count Solms was sent to assume the governorship. Steps were taken to remove governors, such as Bacx and Clerhagen, who were known to be friendly to the English. Sonoy, the governor of North Holland, who refused the oath to Maurice because he was already sworn to Leicester, was actually attacked by the Prince in his Province. At Utrecht, where Deventer held sway, a plot was devised with the help of the Count of Mors to get possession of the town (p. 404). Aware of these designs the town of Berghen, where Colonel Morgan commanded, refused to receive some Dutch companies sent thither by Hohenlohe, whereupon the Count gave order that no provisions should be sent thither, thus leaving that important frontier town dangerously unprovided (p. 391). These designs seem to have been hatched at Hohenlohe's house, where there were frequent gatherings, attended by Paul Buys, Barnevelt, Brassart and others (p. 396).

So severe a storm threatened to wreck the cause utterly and to sweep away the English. But after the first excitement the leaders found to their surprise that they had not the amount of popular support on which they had counted. 'The adversaries,' Wilkes reported to the queen, 'though they be of the greatest, are not many ; the towns and people for the most part remain devoted to your Majesty and have no hope of safety but from your hands' (p. 355). He himself took steps to warn the people against the dangerous proceedings of the States, and claimed to have aroused a fierce resentment against them (p. 405). In North Holland the people rose protesting that they would live and die with her Majesty and that they would cut the throats of those who attempted to sever her from them. Similar trouble occurred at Amsterdam, where libels appeared against the States (pp. 424, 426). The expeditions undertaken by Counts Maurice and Hohenlohe against North Holland and Gorcum ended in complete failure and they returned to the Hague deeply chagrined. The determination of the people to depend wholly on her Majesty filled the States with amazement (p. 428).

Early in the year the queen sent over Sir Roger Williams to the Netherlands, to observe and report. There is here a memorial on the situation supplied to him (p. 381). Meanwhile the ministers of the States in England had been very roughly handled by the queen. The idea of finding more money was anathema to her. But Walsingham regretted her refusal to increase her contribution, as he feared that it might overthrow the cause and put her own state in peril. He believed that she had been influenced by some secret advertisement from the other side to the effect that the contribution already granted would suffice. Apparently Leicester was of the Secretary's opinion for he refused to return unless the commissioners might be sent back with better satisfaction (pp. 357, 377).

The States and their deputies were pressing for Leicester's return, but Wilkes advised that too much reliance should not be placed upon this, since they had done all that they could devise to shorten his credit and authority (p. 366). Yet Wilkes himself strongly urged the earl's return and diligently encouraged the belief among the people that it would be soon (p. 405) uttering at the same time a warning hint that if they should be disappointed the consequences might be serious (p. 424). Although the strange behaviour of Counts Maurice and Hohenlohe made her hesitate, the queen herself wished Leicester to return and he professed himself ready to venture because of the great number of well disposed patriots (p. 376). To smoothe the way it was reported that parliament had offered to find and maintain a force of 20,000 men, in addition to the troops already there (p. 400).

But before taking any other measures it was decided to send over Lord Buckhurst to remonstrate upon the treatment accorded to the queen's lieutenant and to ask for an explanation. The queen's further policy would depend largely upon the answer received (p. 401). The States' commissioners hastened to get back before Buckhurst should arrive and on reaching the Hague they had sundry secret conferences with the States before making their report to the Council, so that it seemed that they were concocting something apart without the privity of that body (p. 427).

Meantime the States gave out that Buckhurst's mission was merely to win time for some other purpose (p. 428). They were alarmed, however, at the threats of the people and feared to be called to account for their actions if Leicester returned. Speaking on their behalf Barnevelt observed that they were charged with violating the earl's authority and that this opinion was being spread among the people, and he asked for a frank statement on the subject. Wilkes took up the challenge and gave several instances. In answer the States claimed that they were the sovereign power and it was not fit for a governor to call them to account. This claim to sovereignty Wilkes denied, declaring that it resided in the people, and he followed this up by producing a list of articles comprising their infringements of Leicester's authority and in breach of their oath (p. 405). Wilkes did not believe that Buckhurst's mission would do any good, while Leicester's presence for no more than two months would stay all mischief and assure the countries. But if he waited until the end of Buckhurst's mission he might come too late. He did not consider that the country could continue many months from utter ruin (p. 427). A succinct account of the unhappy state of affairs is given by Dr. Doyly in a letter of the 25th March (p. 420).

The near prospect of Leicester's return had an extraordinary effect upon Count Hohenlohe, who was almost beside himself, running up and down like a madman and going hither and thither to win the people to himself and secure the towns of Holland (pp. 410, 427). A short while before he had written in friendly fashion to Wilkes, Walsingham and Leicester also (pp. 352, 356, 378). Leicester had replied in an equally conciliatory manner, but no confidence was felt in his advances. 'No good should be expected of him,' wrote Wilkes, 'being a man that hath neither religion nor virtue.' He was even suspected of treating secretly with the enemy, with whom he was known to be in correspondence. He had removed all his valuables from the Hague to Geertruydenberg (pp. 426-7). Leicester was advised that with a well paid army of native troops he could bring all Hohenlohe's devices to naught, as he was not popular with the captains (p. 413). Colonel Morgan also was of opinion that if the earl had money to content the soldiers who had served the States before he could do what he pleased and give the law to the country, for all the commons were on his side (p 432).


At his departure Leicester had left Norris in command of the English forces. He had originally intended to appoint Pelham and to take Norris home with him, but at the last moment he changed his mind. He may have been influenced by a letter from the queen directing him to use Norris with every consideration (p. 94). But Norris himself did not believe in any friendly intention and was convinced that the earl had gone to slander him at Court, where he had already suffered in the good opinion of the queen and Walsingham, though this had since been restored, thanks to the good offices of Wilkes (pp. 163-4). He was further dissatisfied because his powers were limited. Sir William Stanley, Rowland Yorke and others were not under his orders, and were more than ready to assert their independence. Stanley in particular enjoyed the general's favour and had an allowance superior to his own (p. 323). The men under his command were greatly reduced in numbers, the companies being very weak and much disorganised by the absence of the majority of the captains in England, indeed the horse had not one present (pp. 234, 246, 324). Norris firmly believed that Leicester had only put him in this position because he desired his disgrace, and he wrote asking that he might have his commission direct from the queen or else be allowed to come home and give place to one who should please the earl better (pp. 267, 420). The only answer he obtained to this appeal was an admonition from the queen herself to lay aside all private respects or passions and bend his mind wholly to the service he had in hand (p. 386). He had not merited the implied reproach, for Wilkes bears witness to the remarkable patience he showed in putting up with slights (p. 233). At the same time he did his best to make the most of such material as he had at his disposal.

To save expense the States had decided to reduce their forces considerably, so that the ordinary contributions might suffice for their maintenance through the winter. This was carried in the Council against the opposition of Norris and Wilkes, who objected that it was contrary to Leicester's act of restriction (p. 261). By virtue of this decision they paid off twelve companies of horse and 48 of foot of their own men and reduced the English companies in their pay from fifty to twenty-six, though even with this reduction it was not expected that there would be enough English soldiers left in the country to fill up the smaller number of companies in the States' pay and also keep those in the queen's pay up to full strength (p. 265). The Scottish forces having been tampered with by Hohenlohe Wilkes contrived to have them divided into two regiments, putting one of these under Colonel Paton, whom he believed to be a friend to the English (p. 259).

The enemy also had his difficulties ; they were known to be in a miserable state and in addition many of the Spanish forces had been withdrawn to Luxemburg and Bimburg for winter quarters (p. 262). Norris proposed to take advantage of this to secure Wesel, for which he was furnished with artillery, munitions and ships of war to navigate the Rhine (pp. 283, 285). He was actually on the march when all his plans were overthrown by Stanley's betrayal of Deventer. As this exposed the frontier he was forced to break up the field army to supply garrisons for the towns (p. 327). Yet he still believed that the best course was to make head against the enemy in the field (p. 347) ; 'if it shall please her Majesty to continue her countenance to these countries and the charges so aptly employed,' he wrote to Burleigh, 'I dare venture my life to give the king of Spain so much to do here that he should have little means to invade any other place' (p. 327). But circumstances were against him. The troops were demoralised through lack of pay. Their disorders and the loss of Deventer roused the people against the English, so that the towns they held were considered in jeopardy (p. 334), and all other towns refused to open their gates to them (pp. 356, 369). In the height of the excitement Counts Maurice and Hohenlohe threatened to cut in pieces any English horse who stayed within the limits of Holland (p. 404). Their strength was sadly reduced. By insufficient food and clothing the men's vitality was so impaired that 60 per cent. of the sick and wounded succumbed (p. 385). In this way and by desertion they were so reduced in numbers that outside Brill and Flushing Norris declared that he had not 3,000 men in the queen's pay (p. 419).

From the time of Leicester's departure no money had been sent to the troops from England, Both Norris and Wilkes had pledged their credit to raise something for immediate needs but the requirements could not be met by such means. It was not until late in February that the Council decided to send over Shirley with 5,000l., and even of that paltry sum 2,000l. were appropriated to the garrisons of the cautionary towns (p. 372-3). By contrast, in less than a year Leicester had received over 140,000l. (p. 420).

It was fortunate that the embarrassments of the enemy were scarcely less great, and though Parma was anxious to take the field he could not do so earlier than May for lack of forage (p. 433). Yet the winter was not entirely uneventful. Battenburg sconce, which had been lost in the summer, was recovered by a brilliant action in which Count Hohenlohe and Norris especially distinguished themselves. The Spanish losses were reported to be particularly severe, though the English troops showed their lax discipline by the reckless way in which they threw away their arms in the pursuit (pp. 393-4). The frontier town of Berghen proved a thorn in the side of the enemy owing to the activity and enterprise of its garrison, so much so that the people of Antwerp tried to persuade Parma to besiege it. In one daring raid up to the very walls of that town they carried off some fifty burghers and held them up to ransom (p. 431).


The unsatisfactory state of affairs in the Netherlands made the queen very ready to listen to any reasonable proposals for peace. A suitable intermediary had been found in the person of the Flemish merchant Andrea de Loo, who comes to the fore with the failure of Graffigna's efforts in the same direction. In the month of June de Loo, fortified with instructions from Burleigh and Crofts, was able to show them to Parma, who expressed himself as favourably disposed (p. 45), though he noticed that the instructions were not signed (p. 57). On the strength of this de Loo ventured to suggest that the queen should write to the Prince and M. de Champagney declaring her willingness to treat on the basis of the Provinces returning to the obedience of the king of Spain under the management of natives of those countries (p. 60). The suggestion was not adopted, and though the queen did write to Parma soon after it was merely to repudiate Graffigna and to justify her action in intervening in the Netherlands. As a matter of punctilio the queen wished the advances to come from Parma and that Champagney should come over to England to treat. De Loo's activities were concealed from Leicester, lest he should stop him, for the earl was supposed to desire war rather than peace. The Council as a whole were well inclined to peace, except the Secretary, who against so many others could do little hurt (pp. 143-4).

When de Loo next saw Parma, in the camp before Rheinberg, he found the Prince very ill pleased with the queen's letter, indeed he professed to consider the whole business at an end. But in response to de Loo's persuasions he at length agreed to send some one over, without standing upon ceremony, if it was made clear to him that the queen really wished to treat (pp. 203-4). In October de Loo was again in London, pressing the cause, which he claimed to have advanced by inducing Parma to waive the point of reputation. He urged Burghley to get the queen to give the necessary assurance (p. 206). After three weeks had passed without anything being done de Loo wrote again to Burghley and the queen urging them to move in the matter lest Parma should take offence at the delay, whose sincerity he guaranteed. He asked that a ship might be sent to fetch the person who was to come over to treat (pp. 223-4). These letters seem to have been the result of an interview he had with Burghley on the preceding day (p. 225).

In spite of this it was not considered fitting that the queen should ground herself on nothing better than the word of a simple merchant, and no steps were taken except that Crofts wrote a letter to Parma which seems to have done nothing to advance matters. Nevertheless de Loo did not lose heart and being in Brussels a month later (December) he asked Parma what he would desire for his better satisfaction. He admitted that he had no other instructions than the gist of several conversations with Burghley. From these he understood that the queen's intervention in the Netherlands was inspired by no desire to change the ruler there but only to protect the people from harsh treatment and to maintain the relations which had existed from of old between England and the Low Countries. She wished to see the Provinces administered by native governors, and imputed all the past troubles to the foreign ministers. She further desired an assurance that the king of Spain was not contemplating war against her, and asked that compensation should be given to her subjects for their losses by arrests in Spain and Portugal (pp. 276-8).

Parma did not consider this statement a sufficient ground for any action on his part and so, when de Loo was next in England he asked Burghley for something to show to the duke in support of what he had told him (p. 379). In answer to this Burghley accepted the substantial accuracy of the terms as stated by de Loo, but pointed out that he had mentioned two other conditions as necessary for a stable peace in the Netherlands, namely religious freedom and that English subjects trading in Spain and Portugal should not be wantonly molested by the Inquisition (pp. 388-9). Burghley gave de Loo a paper to this effect to be shown to Parma. A letter for the queen from the duke which de Loo had brought at the same time was not considered entirely satisfactory, since it was not clear whether Parma had full powers to treat, nothing was said about sending some one over, while fresh motions and demands were introduced, all tending to the waste of time (pp. 396-7).

De Loo returned to Flanders with Burghley's paper as well as a letter from Crofts to Champigney. The last paper on the subject in this volume is Champigney's reply to Crofts, in which, while taking exception to Burghley's demands about religion, and stating that the duke cannot now send any one to England to treat, he says that Parma will agree to the queen appointing a place of meeting where the commissioners can assemble and enter on a treaty (pp. 428-9).

How much sincerity there was in these negotiations is doubtful. The duplicity of Philip and Parma has been laid bare. That Elizabeth would have welcomed peace is certain, but she and her ministers were fully conscious of the significance to England of the opposite shore, and the terms they would ask would hardly be accepted by the other side. The report of negotiations stirred the jealousy of France and was a useful factor in the diplomatic game. (fn. 3) On the other hand they were calculated to do a great deal of harm in the Netherlands, since they discouraged the people and made them fear that the queen was about to abandon them. The queen therefore wished the knowledge of these negotiations to be kept from the people of the Netherlands (p. 3), but this was a vain counsel. To make amends she gave them an assurance that no peace should be made with Spain that did not also comprehend their security (p. 16). The Dutch for their part showed a firm resolution to listen to no proposals from the Spanish side. Their attitude was not fully appreciated in England as Buckhurst was instructed to find out how they stood affected to a reconciliation with Spain, whether there were any secret instruments among them to draw them that way and what Provinces seemed most inclined to it (p. 411).

Another intrigue finds brief mention here, namely a proposal to tempt Parma to betray his master and establish himself as ruler in the Low Countries, in revenge for the wrong done to him in Portugal. A secret agent, Alessandro della Torre, who signs himself "B" reports having sounded the prince on the subject and says that he found him marvellous well disposed (p. 210). Sainte Aldegonde brought some fresh gossip on this matter to the Hague in January, 1587 (p. 334). This is two years earlier than the incident recorded by Motley concerning a similar proposal made through Horatio Pallavicini. (fn. 4)

A peace move from the outside was made by the king of Denmark, who was anxious to offer his mediation. His envoy to Parma had the misfortune to fall into the hands of scouts from the enterprising garrison of Berghen, who took from him letters from the duke to the king (p. 320). But the interference of Denmark was welcome neither to the English nor the Dutch. The latter put no faith in any proposals from Spain and their minister Caron, who had lately returned from Copenhagen, reported that the king and his principal ministers were all very Spanish and that the king was ready to lend himself for the overthrow of the Provinces (pp. 252, 256). In England there had been a strong suspicion that the king of Denmark was ready to undertake the protection of the Provinces. A party in the Low Countries had favoured this change of protectors, and of these Paul Buys was one of the chief, and this was a powerful reason why Leicester desired his arrest (pp. 36, 38). This substitution of Denmark had been noted among perils to be averted (p. 82), and it was supposed to be utterly quashed by the arrest of Buys (p. 136).

Among miscellaneous items the following call for brief mention :

Sidney's wound was not at first considered mortal and there were good hopes of his recovery (p. 168). The unfavourable turn did not come until three or four days before the end. When the bad symptoms first began to appear Sidney wished to send for the physician Wyer, but nothing was done until the third day, apparently because of some private quarrel (p. 202). It is doubtful, indeed, if Sidney's appeal ever went at all, or it would hardly appear among the State Papers.

Some ill will was caused in the Provinces by the Merchant Adventurers establishing staples for the sale of their goods outside the Netherlands. But since the wars Middelburgh had become almost useless as a market for the continent and the merchants preferred Emden (pp. 118, 136). To encourage the return of the merchants the States at the end of 1586 passed a resolution offering them extensive privileges (p. 290).

Towards the end of 1586 the Dutch were asked how many ships they could equip for her Majesty's service if she were attacked by the king of Spain. In reply the States merely promised to supply the assistance stipulated in their treaty with her Majesty (p. 230). When Drake came over about the same time to get help for his proposed expedition against Spain he found no disposition in the States and people to support him, and he was advised to apply to private merchants and individual towns, where the response was expected to be more favourable (p. 233).

To indicate the respective shares of the two editors it may be stated that the present volume was started by Mrs. Lomas some time since, and before she was incapacitated by illness she had passed the first ten sheets for press. Two more sheets were made up, but unrevised. The printers had further sent in enough galley proofs from Mrs. Lomas's manuscript to make another six sheets, but these had not undergone any revision by the editor. Mrs. Lomas has left manuscript consisting of her transcripts from the Holland and Flanders papers down to the month of July, 1588, and these transcripts have been used to complete the present volume, for the period that it covers. These papers had not been arranged or sorted and there were a good many omissions, for example, nearly the whole of Holland Vol. XII. for January, 1587, and a considerable number of single papers. To complete the volume for publication the proofs have been corrected and revised, with some rearrangement of the undated papers at the end of 1586, and the manuscript has been arranged and edited, the omissions being filled in. It will be observed that the letter printed at page 160 has been repeated at page 170. It was too late to correct the error without breaking up the sheet. The cipher used by Wilkes with Walsingham was not discovered until all but the last sheets were passed for press. Mr. Miller of the British Museum very kindly made search to find out the provenance of the volume of transcripts in which it occurs, unfortunately, without success. The discovery has necessitated some alterations in the text, which will be found among the Corrigenda. In the index to the first part of this volume Pierre de Melun, seigneur de Buhy, a French captain, who appears in different places as Bui or Buy, has been identified as Paul Buys, the Dutch statesman. The editor can only express his contrition for so serious a mistake. ALLEN B. HINDS. London, November, 1927.


1 Resolutien der Staten Generaal Vol. V., p. x.
2 Motley has misunderstood Leicester's share in this mission, for he says the earl "knew very well that a legation was about to proceed to England, without any previous concurrence on his part" (United Netherlands ii., p. 102), an implication of duplicity which the facts of the case do not warrant.
3 See Preface to pt. I. of this Vol., page x.
4 United Netherlands iii., pp. 511-12.