Historical Collections of Private Passages of State: Volume 1, 1618-29. Originally published by D Browne, London, 1721.
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In the beginning of the year One thousand six hundred and nineteen, the Emperour Matthias died; but immediately before his death, to engage Persons of Honour in the Service of the Empire, he instituted Knights of several Orders, for the defence of the Catholick Religion; who were bound by Oath to be faithful to the Apostolick See, and to acknowledge the Pope their chief Protector. The Count Palatine of Rhine, who in the Interregnum is chief Vicar of the Empire, published his right, by the Golden Bull, to govern in chief, till a new Emperor be chosen, and, by advice, assumed the power, requiring the people to demean themselves peaceably under his Government.
King Ferdinand, in his broken estate, propounded a cessation of Arms, and offered fair terms of peace; but was not answered, for the breach would not be made up. The Bohemians declared, that their Kingdom was Elective, not Hereditary; that the States-General ought to have the free Election of their King, who alway ought to be one of the Royal House of Bohemia: That Ferdinand took the Government upon him, by virtue of his Coronation in the Emperor's life time, and had thereby made the Kingdom a Donative. The Evangelicks in the Upper Austria demanded equal Privileges with the Catholicks, and resolved to make Union with the Bohemians. The Protestant States of Moravia, Silesia, and Hungaria banish the Jesuits. The Bohemians prospered in these beginnings: but the Austrian Party received vigour by supplies out of Hungary and Flanders, and were able to stand their ground; and the Emperor capitulated with the Duke of Bavaria, to levy Forces to his use; for the expence of which service, he engaged part of his Country to him.
The War grows to a great Height, and the King of England interposed in these differences, and sent the Viscount Doncaster Extraordinary Ambassador to mediate a Reconciliation. His constant love of peace, and his present fear of the sad issue of these Commotions, and the request of the King of Spain, moved him to take this part in hand. It was the Spaniards policy to make him a Reconciler, and by that means to place him in a state of Neutrality, and so frustrate the hopes of that support, which the Princes of the Union might expect from him by the interest of the Court Palatine: For which cause, the King of Spain speaks out large promises, That he should be the sole and grand Arbiter of this cause of Christendom. Nevertheless, his Mediation was slighted by the Catholick Confederates, and his Ambassadors shuffled out of the business. And at the same time, Mr. Cottington being very sensible of their unworthy dealings in the Court of Spain, professed, that his most useful service, and best complying with his own Conscience, would be to disengage the King his Master.
Upon the English day of August, Ferdinand was chosen King of the Romans; and upon the Nineteenth of September had the Imperial Crown set upon his head. Ambassadors from the Elector Palatine came to oppose Ferdinand, but were denied entrance at Franckford: The Bohemians disclaimed the said Election, and being assembled for that purpose, with the Consent of their Confederates, elected for their King, Court Frederick Palatine of Rhine.
After that time, Bethlem Gabor, Prince of Transylvania, made known to the Directors Evangelick, his great sense of their condition since those troubles began, desired union with them, and offered to come in with an Army, hoping for the Great Turk's consent to peace, during the time of that Service. The Directors return their thanks, accept the offer, and Prince Bethlem immediately entred Hungary, to the Emperor's great vexation, danger, and detriment; marching with an Army even to the Walls of Vienna.
The Count Palatine Elected King of Bohemia, craved advice of his Father in Law, the King of Great Britain, touching the acceptation of that Royal Dignity: When this important business was debated in the King's Council, Archbishop Abbot, whose infirmities would not suffer him to be present at the Consultation, wrote his mind and heart to Sir Robert Nanton, the King's Secretary.
That God had set up this Prince, his Majesty's Son in Law, as a Mark of Honour throughout all Christendom, to propagate the Gospel, and to protect the oppressed. That for his own part, he dares not but give advice to follow, where God leads; apprehending the work of God in this, and that of Hungary: That by peace and peace, the Kings of the Earth, that gave their power to the Beast, shall leave the Whore, and make her desolate. That he was satisfied in Conscience, that the Bohemians had just cause to reject that proud and bloody Man, who had taken a course to make that Kingdom not elective, in taking it by the Donation of another. The slighting of the Viscount Doncaster in his Ambassage, gave cause of just displeasure and indignation: Therefore, let not a Noble Son be forsaken for their sakes, who regard nothing but their own ends. Our striking in will comfort the Bohemians, honour the Palsgrave, strengthen the Princes of the Union, draw on the United Provinces, stir up the King of Denmark and the Palatine's two Uncles the Prince of Orange, and the Duke of Bouillon, together with Tremouille, a rich Prince in France, to cast in their shares. The Parliament is the old and honourable way for raising of Money, and all that may be spared is to be turned this way. And perhaps, God provided the Jewels, which were laid up in the Tower by the Mother for the preservation of the Daughter, who, like a Noble Princess, hath professed that she will not leave her self one Jewel, rather than not maintain so Religious and Righteous a Cause. Certainly, if countenance be given to this action, many brave Spirits will offer themselves: Therefore, let all our Spirits be gathered up to animate this business, that the World may take notice that we are awake when God calls.
The life and zeal of these expressions, from a person of such eminency, may discover the judgment and affection of the Anti-Spanish Party in the Court of England. But the King was engaged in those ways, out of which he could not easily turn himself. Besides, it did not please him, that his Son should snatch a Crown out of the fire: And he was used to say, That the Bohemians made use of him as the Fox did of the Cats foot, to pull the apple out of the fire for his own eating. In the mean while, before the King could answer, the Palsgrave desiring advice in that behalf, the Bohemians had wrought, and prevailed with him, to accept of their Election; whereof he sent advertisement into England, excusing the suddenness of the action; for that the urgency of the cause would admit of no deliberation. King James disavowed the act, and would never grave his Son in Law with the Style of his new dignity. But Sir Richard Weston, and Sir Edward Conway were sent Ambassadors into Bohemia, to close up the breach between the Emperor and the Elector Palatine.
The King being not a little troubled and jealous, that the Palatines nearness to him, might give cause of suspicion to his Brother of Spain, that this Election had been made by his procurement, or correspondence with the German Protestants, commands his Agent Cottington to give that King plenary Information of all proceedings; as, That his Ambassador being sent to compound the differences, and to reduce the Bohemians to the quiet obedience of the Emperor, instead of finding the Emperor so prepared, and such a way made for his Mediation, as was promised and expected, received answer, That the business was already referred to four of the Electors, insomuch that no place was left for his Authority to interpose.
Of this exclusive Answer, as he had just cause to be sensible, considering that he had entred into that Treaty, merely at the instance of the King of Spain, and his Ministers; so there followed a further inconvenience, That the Bohemians having long expected the fruit and issue of this Mediation, and finding little hope by this means, did instantly, as out of desperation, elect the Count Palatine for their King: Wherefore being tender of his own Honour and Reputation, especially in the opinion of the King of Spain, he would not have it blemished by the least misunderstanding. And for that end, he tendred to his View such Letters, as from time to time he had written to the Princes of the Union, and to the Palatine himself, whereby he might plainly see his dislike of the Bohemians engaging against their King, and his industry to contain those Princes in peace and quietness, and to make a fair Accord between the disagreeing Parties.
Reply was made, as touching the Answer given to the Viscount Doncaster, That he was admitted a Compounder in such form as was possible, the Arbitration having been committed by the late Emperor into the hands of three of the Electors, and the Duke of Bavaria; That nevertheless, he might have proceeded in the Negotiation, and by his Master's Authority, have over-ruled any difficulty, which might have hapned on the Emperor's side, (on whose behalf the reference was made) if he had reduced the Bohemians to the acceptance of any reasonable conditions: But he presently, to the Emperor's great disservice, laboured to suspend the Election of the King of the Romans, till the Bohemian Controversies were first compounded, which was absolutely to defeat King Ferdinand of that Crown, and to disturb and put in danger his Election to the Empire. This was the more confirmed by his desire to make Bonfires in Diege, when the Count Palatine was made King of Bohemia. As touching the King's integrity in the whole business, the satisfaction tendred was received with great applause; and it was further said, That it would gain the more authority and estimation, if he should continue to disclaim that which had been done so contrary to his opinion, and against his Friends and Allies, as are all the Princes of the House of Austria.
But the Lot was cast in Germany, and for the Palsgrave, there was no going back; Forces pour in a main on both sides. The King of Poland aided the Emperor in Hungary, to bound and check the incursions of Prince Bethlem; the Duke of Saxony did not brook his Fellow Electors advancement to Regal Majesty, and condemned his joyning with Bethlem Gabor; Who, faith he, came in with the Turks consent to make a desolation in the Empire.
King Frederick visited the several parts of his Kingdom, to confirm the people to him, and to receive the Oath of Fidelity: And the Emperor published a Proscription against him, wherein he proclaims him guilty of High Treason, excludes him out of the publick Enemy of the Empire, and a contemner of his Imperial Majesty; and absolves all his Subjects from their Oaths and Duties to him, and commands all persons whatsoever to abandon him and his adherents. Christian Prince of Anhalt, was appointed Generalissimo of the Bohemian Forces, and governed all affairs, which was some eclipse and discontent to Thurne and Mansfelt, who had hitherto stood the shock of the Imperial Armies. The Princes of the Union raised Forces for the defence of the Palatinate, and their own interest, under the Marquis Ansbach. The Evangelicks were put to the worst by General Buquoy in several Encounters, and were much terrified by the Duke of Bavaria, who marched with an Army of Fifteen thousand Horse and Foot, and a Train of Artillery proportionable; and they were weakened by a Cessation of Arms in Hungary, between the Emperor and the Prince of Transylvania.
In Spain they make all possible preparations for this War; only the King of England will not take the Alarm, abhorting War in general, and distasting the Palsgrave cause, as an ill president against Monarchy, and fed with hopes of composing all differences by the success of the Spanish Treaty. For which purpose Sir Walter Ashton was then sent Ambassador into Spain, and Gondomar returned into England, there to abide, till the long debated Match be fully effected. The Articles of Religion for Securing Liberty of Conscience to the Infanta and her Family, were greatly enlarged by the Commissioners designed for the Treaty, and were allowed by the King of England; but without a dispensation from Rome, the transactions between the two Kings were but Nullities. And for this cause it was expected, that our King should propound such conditions for the increase and great advantage of the Roman Catholick Religion, that the Pope may deliberate whether they be of that nature as may perswade and merit the Dispensation. To this demand the king made answer in his Letter to the king of Spain, That he had done as much in favour of the Catholicks as the times would bear, and promised in the word of a King, That no Roman Priest, or other Catholick, should thenceforth be condemned upon any capital Law. And although he could not at present rescind the Laws, inflicting only pecuniary mulcts; yet he would so mitigate them, as to oblige his Catholick Subjects to him. And if the Marriage took effect, his Daughter in Law should find him ready to indulge all favours which she should request for those of her Religion. Herein the Spanish Council acknowledged great satisfaction given, and a Paper was conceived and drawn up by a Junto of Canonists, Lawyers, and Divines, to perswade the Pope to act his part.