Elizabeth: November 1578, 16-20

Pages 291-300

Calendar of State Papers Foreign: Elizabeth, Volume 13, 1578-1579. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1903.

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November 1578, 16-20

Yesterday evening again came a man express from Arras to bring me the enclosed letters, the contents of which I am sure will please you. I have nothing to add, except that having communicated the whole to M. d'Arcanti, he was and is of opinion that I should make a trip as far as our frontier, there to devise means of approaching and bringing to terms (appriroiser) the gentleman mentioned in the letters ; which I think will be easy for me to do by means of the gentleman of Lille whom you know to be so well-disposed to the king's service, and at the same time a particular friend of the gentleman in question. If there is any means of getting an interview, I hope some great fruit will follow, and that I shall shortly find myself on the way to you with plenty of good news. Meantime I should find it very useful if his Excellency would send me other letters, more detailed and more energetic, to the gentleman aforesaid, accompanied by your own and those of M. de Rossignol or others who may seem to have most credit in that quarter. If before the receipt of them I have not yet spoken to him, it will be another opportunity for me to see him, when I take them to him at any place he may appoint. I am sure that you would find it also a very good thing to have letters from his Excellency similarly accompanied sent to the gentleman of Lille, as the great desire which I know he has for employment merits, as well as the service which I am sure can by this means be got from him. He knows all the lords and gentlemen to the very bowels, and knows what he may expect of them all. He is also well-adapted to persuade and bring to reason those with whom he has credit, as he has in many places all on one road. His Excellency might also write to the other gentlemen of that frontier (commarque especially to M. de Hocelles of Bapaume, who will as I think agree in all points with the gentlemen aforesaid, to M. d'Auberlieu, Morbecque, la Thieuloie, to make use of them if occasion serves ; authorising me to hear them, and receive verbally anything that they would send his Excellency by word sooner than in writing. Lastly, I beg you to give me full instructions on all points, among others for the town of Arras, where I believe I shall be welcome, and others, if an occasion of going there presents itself. I hope to fulfil those instructions with diligence and fidelity ; seeing that to acquire honour from them, speed is much required in such matters, as will appear by the letters both from Arras and from Lille.—Paris, 16 Nov. 1578. Copy, sent by Poulet. Endd. with date by L. Tomson. Fr. 2 pp. [Holl. and Fl. X. 33.]
Nov. 16. 380. ROSSEL to WALSINGHAM.
In my last I set forth the state of things in general without omitting the details upon which may philosophise and discourse diversely ; seeing that all potentates act on the same cause on one side, and on the other are the spectators of those who play the morality, awaiting the issue of the tragedy of the supposed personages. Mr Davison will have told you of the proposals made by the new commissioners sent from his Highness and the States to the Gantois, together with their answer, in which it is easy to see the dissimulation hidden under the cloak of this conference, which serves only to pass the time till we see who will first be able to meet the crooked French practice forged by the ministers you know of. The Walloons meanwhile are playing the farce, and have taken Cassel and Dixmude laughing—after being repulsed in an enterprise which they had undertaken at Ypres. They dash about pillaging in all directions, enriching themselves with the plunder of the innocents, which will not last them long. Meanwhile they ruin our camp while this miserable spectacle lasts. Our army has marched, with half a month's pay, to the neighbourhood of Maestricht, extending on to the county of Liège. M. de Bossu, commander-in-chief, and the other generals have arrived at Antwerp. Note what this 'transmigration' signifies. The malcontents are still at home where by French craft they are preparing all sorts of ambuscades, solely for their resentment against the Prince of Orange. The Marquis of Havrech wants to have the government of Valenciennes, where Count Lalaing at present is, supported by the magistrates, but not liked by the people, who are united, both those of the religion and Papists, against receiving any private governor. M. d'Egmont is just now at St. Omer, where the lieutenant of his regiment, placed there as governor by the Prince, continues nevertheless to support the malcontent party. The Arras people, as mentioned in my former letter, seem inclined to take the side of the French, solicited thereto, it is thought, by M. de Capres ; who notwithstanding letters from the government, does not leave off executing as criminals those of the religion. There are great practices everywhere. In Brussels, Mechlin, and Antwerp there was to have been sedition if prevision had not found a remedy. In Antwerp all the houses have been revisited, and such residents as were staying there without cause, such as captains, soldiers, and others without ostensible business, were turned out of the town ; a slap in the face (bastonade) to the French, which has passed unnoticed owing to the general indifference. Amid these confusions the enemy seemed in a woeful state is plucking up courage, in hope that private passions will disunite the State to his profit. The strength of their camp has been thrown into Louvain, Diest, and Leeuw, whence they carry on the war unremittingly. They have even plundered the barque of Brussels, and taken prisoners all who were in it, being well informed of our division, remediable only by the grace of God, and the commiseration of good princes and princesses. These as mediators might urge the Emperor, who is already wavering, to take measures for peace. To this effect he is sending Lazarus Swendi, which the Prince will not like, and which will not be advisable. The Council of State have been writing in all directions to the potentates of Germany to promote this holy inclination towards peace, the sole remedy for these miseries.—Antwerp, 16 Nov. 1578. Add. Endd. Fr. 3 pp. [Holl. and Fl. X. 34.]
Our profession is in such trouble at the present time that we can only do what our varlets would have done formerly. There where I myself could once have raised 600,000 florins in a morning on Change, up to now I have not been able to accommodate George Gilpin with the trifle you require. If I have to delay doing so yet further, please impute it to the times, not to my will. Six days ago I obtained the Estates' letter, written word for word in the required tenour, on the commission of his Excellency, to the Queen. I have not sent it sooner, because I wished to accompany it, in charge of Filippo Cattaneo, with other things which were not ready by the day promised ; and as I shall have to wait some days for them I thought it well to send the packet containing that letter by the present porter, and ask you to forward it as soon as you can, with a request for the repayment of my 30,000 florins.—Antwerp, 17 Nov. 1578. Add. Fr. 2/3 p. [Ibid. X. 35.]
As you will have heard from Horatio Pallavicino, Filippo Cattaneo and I have not so far been able to come to terms with Baduero about the coif you wot of ; and that because he puts it at about 4,000 vdi, an excessive price for its value. We have not up to now seen our way to offer more than 2,000, which it seemed to us would pay for it well. If he comes to terms, we will send it at once without fail ; and, if not, and you wish in any case to have it, I will supply it on my own part otherwise, as will be seen. The States, by order of his Excellency, have written to the Queen a letter, which I have addressed to the Ambassador, enclosed with this note. I believe they recommend my matter of the 30,000 florins, and I hope to see the end of it ; believing that you will have recommended it, as I pray you to do, as it is reasonable I should get back what I lent. Pallavicino will have spoken again of the mistake in my obligations. Please have it corrected.—Antwerp, 17 Nov. 1578. Holograph. Add. Endd. by L. Tomson. Ital. 2/3 p. [Holl. and Fl. X. 36.]
Nov. 17. 383. DAVISON to the SECRETARIES.
I came to Ghent on Friday the 7th inst., and have been labouring ever since to divert the Gauntois from the offensive and dangerous course they have hitherto held ; being seconded by the commissioners of the States-General, and the deputies of Bruges, Ypres, the 'Frank,' Antwerp, Brussels, Bois-le-duc, Lyre, and divers towns, particularly of this province. But finding them solicited by some ill instruments to persist in that error, themselves preoccupied by such a resolution, and that humour nourished by the late proceedings of the Walloons, neither I nor the rest yet hope to reap any fruit from our labours. Last Wednesday I was admitted into their common assembly, where I laid before them the mislike that both her Majesty and their other neighbours conceived of their proceedings ; the 'slander' and hindrance which thereby grew to the cause of religion ; the danger into which they obviously threw the whole country by kindling an inward war for religion before they had terminated their outward troubles ; the error they had committed in respect both of the cause, and of the time and manner of their proceeding. Religion, which they took for their chief pretext, would be advanced by doctrine and instruction rather than by force. The time was utterly unseasonable, having yet their common enemy at their gates on one side, and the French, an enemy as dangerous, on the other, both ready to profit by these alterations. Their error was inexcusable, partly because the public liberty of religion was not denied them according to the religious peace, which other towns had thankfully embraced, and very modestly used ; and partly because through their evil dealing it had been refused by many towns and provinces that were in a good way to have accepted it, and suppressed in some places, where it had been received. The manner of their proceedings had offended their neighbours, slandered their cause, and drawn themselves into general hatred ; because, not content to have usurped the authority of their superior magistrates, they had used such violence, in breaking down images, spoiling churches and religious houses, dissipation of their goods and livings, and in other disorders, as argued a manifest contempt of law and government. They had broken the union of the provinces, alienated and discontented their nobility, advanced their common enemy, opened the gap to the French, and kindled such a fire as would hardly be quenched but with danger to their whole estate. To prevent which I advised them to consider whether force or composition were the better way, when by one they might eschew, and by the other run headlong into, their common ruin. Here I reminded them of the calamities of a civil war, which is wont to pluck up by the roots the most flourishing kingdoms and commonwealths ; and as it was a custom in all well-governed states ere they began a war to 'provide the means how' to maintain it, I wished them to consider how unable they were of themselves to maintain such a burden, and how their fellow-members utterly misliked their proceeding and would be loth to participate with them. The rest of the provinces were unwilling or unable to give the succour ; Artois and Hainault were already in a manner declared against them ; Brabant was utterly under foot, and not able to defend itself against the Spaniard, much less to help them ; Holland and Zealand had 'made courtesy' in respect of their long troubles to contribute much to one war, and would be more 'nice' to bear a double burthen ; Friesland and Guelders had enough to do to preserve themselves, besides they never contributed much to the war against the Spaniard, which when at their doors imported them more to look to than the troubles of Flanders. From abroad they could expect no succour save from England ; and to think her Majesty would embark her future in these wars at the appetite of a town of Ghent, was a hope that would utterly deceive them. Therefore I thought them ill-counselled if they preferred force to composition, especially when the conditions were so reasonable as were offered them. I exhorted them in her Majesty's name to consider all this well, as they tendered the advancement of God's glory, the quiet of their country, the friendship of her Majesty and their own safety. To which admonition, except for some general thanks, they replied little at the time, but that they would communicate to the whole members of the town at the general court to be held within three or four days, and give me an answer accordingly. This is yet put off from day to day by their Burgomaster Embese and his faction, authors of all these confusions ; partly to have more time to practice the commons, and so frame a counsel to their humours, partly lest by a orderly proceeding their disordered purposes might be overthrown ; so that I am still in suspense what they will resolve, though hopeless of its being what I desire. And as I found Duke Casimir so far embarked in their cause that he was 'in election' to be chief of their army—which being since offered him by Embese and his associates in the name of the whole town, he has accepted—I thought it good to let him understand how much this proceeding prejudiced the common cause, hindered the advancement of the Gospel, touched his own credit, and called in question the honour of the Queen who had been the author of his coming ; because he was brought in to defend and succour the States against their common enemy, and not to kindle a new war among them for religion. He was entertained to serve the whole body, not a particular town of Ghent ; his retiring thither with a good part of his forces, without the consent or privity of the Governor or States, at the sole request of some individuals of that town, and without the approbation of the people, had greatly touched his reputation. His course had been a chief cause of dividing the provinces, discontenting the nobility, and increasing the inward troubles of the country. He was thereby advancing the affairs of the Spaniard to the prejudice of the States, and his own greater disrepute, in that he had not only diminished their forces by withdrawing divers of his own companies into Flanders, but had solicited Balfour and other captains and colonels to abandon that service and follow his party. His dealing was a high way to breed a general mutiny and dissipation of the army, and so double the misery of the country. It gave the Catholics, both captains and soldiers, occasion to join in faction with the Walloons, by whom they were solicited under pretence of defending their religion suppressed by those of Ghent. Both the Walloons and their adherents, seeing him taking part with the Gauntois, whose dealing they conceived to tend to the extirpation of the Catholic religion and overthrow of the nobility, would have a fair colour to choose a chief of contrary profession, be it the Duke of Anjou or any other. This was the only way to strengthen that duke in this country ; he could not have had a better pretext to invade it and transfer the miseries of a civil war for religion, wherewith France has been so many years vexed, into these parts ; the consequence of which must needs be a general dismembering of the provinces and alteration of the state, prejudicial to divers of the neighbours, but above all to the Queen. The States might have found means to redress things in some tolerable sort, if the Gauntois had not been induced, as men think, by his counsel to choose the way of force, encouraged thereto by his authority and presence and the hope of his protection. As a prince that has pretended a singular zeal for the advancement of God's glory, he was very ill-advised to run this violent course to the prejudice thereof, considering the good terms into which the Prince of Orange had brought the whole country, touching a permission of both religions ; so that in that respect he had no sufficient colour for what he did. The world was growing suspicious of his aspiring to the Seignory of Flanders ; and because in every man's 'discourse' he had therein laid a weak foundation unless he were supported by her Majesty, it was a general opinion that she was author and furtherer of that course. This was the rather conceived because he was brought in chiefly by her, his force increased by her means, his pay advanced out of her coffers, and himself a prince that she always greatly accounted of. Therefore she had the greater cause to be grieved with him, seeing that through his fault her honour and sincerity was called in question, and the ruin of those whom she thought to preserve advanced by him whom she had brought down to help them. All this and more I laid open to him, the more roundly because I found him somewhat strangely carried away with the counsel of his Beutrich, the chief firebrand of this combustion. But whether he suspected my lack of authority to deal with him because I brought him no letters of credence, or was offended with my plainness, contained though it was within the bounds of modesty and truth, he refused to give me any other answer than that he was able to justify his actions, as her Majesty should shortly understand by his letters to whom he was determined to send some one, and so incontinently gave me my leave. This is all the fruit my labour has yet yielded, either to the Gauntois or to the Duke. I am the more sorry for him, because I fear the consequence of his enterprise will be such as he will have special cause to repent ; though his Beutrich think this an infallible plot to constrain the Prince both to take part with his master and to run a like course for his own safety. Whether he has herein discharged the office of a sound counseller, I leave to the judgement of others.—Bruges, 17 Nov. 1578. P.S.—The cause of my coming to this town is to dispatch the 'particular' obligations for the £45,000, which I look to have to-morrow, and so return to Ghent. If her Majesty blame my slackness in not writing from Ghent, you may truly excuse it with a doubt I had as to writing from thence ; because their soldiers 'lay upon' the villages in the way, and had of late inte[rcepte]d divers letters. . . . Add. Endd. by L. Tomson. 8 pp. [Holl. and Fl. X. 37.]
[Nov. 17.] 384. Draft of the above. Endd. 5 pp. [Ibid. X. 370.]
Nov. 17. 385. Postscript to the above letter. I have received two packets from you since I left Antwerp ; one within a day or two after my arrival at Ghent, by John Furryer, the other yesterday by Mr. Cuswarth. And whereas by the last I perceive her Majesty marvels she has not heard from me since my coming to Ghent, please let her know that the cause was partly a daily expectation of the common assembly of the members of Ghent, and their answer to what had been propounded both by me and others, partly the uncertainty of the result, and partly a doubt I had about dispatching thence, divers letters having of late been intercepted ; which some men are like to pay dearly for, having to do with a multitude that cannot distinguish between justice and injustice. Touching the Prince of Parma's letter, I will on my return to Antwerp see it speedily and safely conveyed. I need not commend to your favour this bearer, my cousin Cheek, as he is sufficiently known to you. If you will vouchsafe him some piece of extraordinary favour for my sake, I will esteem it as bestowed on myself.—Bruges, 17 Nov. 1578. Add. Endd. by L. Tomson. 1 p. [Ibid. X. 38.]
Nov. 18. 386. WALSINGHAM to SIMIER.
2 Drafts. Fr. 1¾ pp. and 2 pp. Second draft damaged. [France II. 84.]
387. Another draft of the above. Endd. partly in cipher. Fr. 1½ pp. [Ibid. II. 84a.]
388. Another draft with several modifications. Endd. Fr. 2 pp. [Ibid. II. 84b.]
Nov. 20. 389. English version of the above. Both by yours of the 3rd inst., and by letters from M. de Mauvissière, I have seen what you write of the intention of Monsieur to send you hither to her Majesty. But before your coming you desire answers to certain points. I have not failed to impart the contents to her Majesty, who, seeing that they swerved from the course hitherto held in their last negotiation of marriage, 'impugning' the interview and urging an absolute conclusion before it had taken place, could not tell what to judge of such a strange manner of dealing, especially calling to mind former proceedings in this matter, the wound being not yet cured, and also being not ignorant of speeches given out of other offers ; and therefore might be drawn to forbear any further proceeding. Notwithstanding, since she conceived honourably of the Duke himself, having given such assurance as he has of his devotion and affection towards her, and being loth to cast the error of the minister upon the master, she has willed me to signify to you that whereas you write that the end of your sending hither is to treat and conclude marriage and to pass articles, and that you would not come hither but to that effect, which is also confirmed by the Duke's own letter, if thereby his (sic) master's meaning be such an absolute conclusion of the articles before the interview as is to take place though good satisfaction should not follow upon the interview (which God forbid), then she thinks it meet that you forbear to repair hither ; and she cannot but find it strange, considering her mind plainly delivered to Bacqueville and contained in her letter to the Duke, in which she let him understand that she would never marry any person without the sight of the party, that now she should be pressed to grow to an absolute resolution before the interview. But if he (sic) means to treat of the articles heretofore propounded by the King's ministers, and where they are dark to render them more plain, reserving those contained in the point of religion to be resolved between themselves at the time of the interview, then she can like well his repair hither. And if you happen to come, in respect of the good will I bear generally to the cause and particularly to yourself, I cannot but advise you to carry yourself with great circumspection considering that they that have to do with a prince that can see far off, and also that the jealousy grounded upon the error of former proceedings is not so thoroughly quenched, but it may be easily kindled, have (sic) need to consider advisedly that their dealing be plain, sincere, and free from all ground of suspicion. And as I know you to be wise, so I doubt not but you will take profit of this advice, and so carry yourself as may be best for his (sic) master's benefit and his own honour. Marginal note to : All this was left out in the second that was sent, and instead thereof was written as is set down on the other side at the [Walsingham's mark] mark. This is as follows : [Walsingham's mark] That whereas [as above to] effect, her Majesty finds it strange that she should be now urged to a conclusion of articles before the interview, seeing she so plainly delivered her mind to Bacqueville and to the ambassador since, that she did not think it honourable for her to conclude articles before the interview, knowing not what might follow on it, being taught by former experience to her great dishonour to forbear proceeding to conclusion of articles before she is assured that the match is likely to take effect ; yet, if for the clearing of the articles before propounded, being perhaps in some points dark and obscure, the Duke shall find it expedient to send you hither, her Majesty has willed me to let you understand that she well allows of your coming. And if you happen to come [as above to] suspicion. And surely amongst other things her Majesty being given to understand by the ambassador that after the receipt of my letter by which I signified to you that she thought it meet you should come with a small train, to avoid the speech of the world, he was once determined to have so proceeded in your journey ; she finds it strange that you have altered that purpose with a determination not to repair hither unless you may be satisfied in certain points. And now as I know you to be wise [as above].—Richmond, 20 Nov. 1578. Endd. by L. Tomson. 3 pp. [France II. 84c.]
390. Rough draft, in English, for the above, in Walsingham's hand. 3½ pp. [Ibid. 84d.]
391. Extract of a portion of the above. Endd. by L. Tomson. Fr. ½ p. [Ibid. II. 84e.]
Nov. 20. 392. The ESTATES OF NORMANDY to the KING.
In reply to the demand contained in the king's letters patent of Aug. 19 last, the Estates of Normandy protest that they are his very faithful and obedient subjects. They humbly beseech him to put all taxes, subsidies, and other imposts back to what they were in the time of King Lewis XII ; and as occasion serves to take steps with regard to the multiplicity of officers who have since, that time been set up, and [to maintain] the clergy, the nobility and the third Estate in their liberties and prerogatives according to the Charter of Normandy. On these terms the Estates grant for this year the sum to which the tax for the land of Normandy amounted in the time of the said king, begging his Majesty to be content therewith and to believe that this request proceeds not from lack of good will, but from the impossibility in which the common people find themselves of continuing the charges which they have hitherto borne, as was represented by the deputies of the land with those of the other provinces at the meeting of the Estates-General held lately at Blois. In spite of which representation nothing for the relief of the people resulted from that meeting, much as they hoped for it ; but in Normandy more excessive imposts than ever were levied, in a fashion so strange that in the persuasion they have of his Majesty's clemency the Estates are sure that he would feel compassion for the oppression and misery of his subjects if they were honestly set before him. The hardest thing has been that the better part, which has been levied on the clergy and people, for tolls and impositions, from which the nobility, who have always been free, have had no exemption, is said to have gone not to the profit of his Majesty but to certain individuals, who to satisfy their cupidity have not scrupled under colour of edicts for which a fine pretext has been found, to enrich themselves out of the need of the King's poor subjects. Wherein had not the three Estates been obstinately devoted to his Majesty, being assured that such cunning inventions do not proceed from him, the authors of such things might have caused disaffection and despair. Besides that the privileges of the charter of Normandy have been violated by a number of foreign commissioners who flow into Normandy from all parts, and by the transfers of suits (évocations) granted on every occasion to the great prejudice of the nobility and the other estates, who see with great regret this disturbance of the rights and possessions they have always maintained, and made as a pure matter of contract with the King's predecessors. Great grief and injury is caused by the alienation of sums levied before they are called for or granted in the Estates, insolent and cruel acts, which have of late years, and especially since Easter, been committed by the soldiers ; over and above the exactions of those who manage the finances, of which the Estates propose to furnish his Majesty with a detailed statement, that he may know how the people are tormented under the cloak of his authority. They further ask him to reduce the number of officers as above, by suppressing some without waiting for vacancies by death or retirement, and without compensation or continuance of pay ; seeing that these people did not take office for the public good, still less for the king's service, but only as leeches to suck the blood of his poor vassals. For all which ills may it please his Majesty to provide, and take these humble representations in good part, as from his very loyal subjects who are anxious for the maintenance of his authority and the preservation of his state. Beseeching him finally not to take it amiss if the malice of the authors of these extraordinary levies and pernicious edicts, which ruin the people and impair the royal state, continuing, they oppose it by all due means within their power ; and meanwhile suspend the execution of the demand contained in his Majesty's letters aforesaid, until their just demands have been satisfied.—Rouen, 19 Nov. 1578. Copy, enclosed in Poulet's of Dec. 6. (No. 423) Endd. Fr. 2½ pp. [France II. 89.]