Elizabeth: December 1578, 1-5

Pages 318-327

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

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December 1578, 1-5

I have received your two letters, and understand that you have some hope of a reconciliation between the Prince and Duke Casimir ; a matter very requisite considering the designs of the enemy discovered in the letters which I last sent to the Prince. I shall therefore be very glad to hear of an agreement, and you will do well to further it as the only means whereby those divisions may be extinguished and good service done to her Majesty. Within two or three days my lord of Leicester means to send over Mr Rogers to Casimir with an answer to the letters he wrote to her Majesty and his Lordship ; both to maintain the substance of the speeches you made to him in her Majesty's name and to assure him of corresponding good amity from hence so long as his actions tend to the furtherance of the Gospel, with good unity with them who seek the increase of the same ; which his Lordship doubts not but he will perform as belongs to a prince of his quality. Of Spinola or his letters I have heard nothing, and I marvel at his strange dealing towards you. You will do well to have a watchful eye upon him ; and for such stay as is requisite from hence, you may be sure I will be careful of it. Touching your own private suit, I am not unmindful, but these ten or eleven days I have 'moved nothing,' by reason of her Majesty's indisposition, caused by the toothache, by means of a catarrh descending from her head. There is no danger, nor is her Majesty in a worse state of health, thank God, whatever some evil-disposed give out to the contrary ; of which you may have heard some 'sinistrous' reports.—Richmond, 2 Dec. 1578. Add. Endd. 1¼ pp. [Ibid. X. 52.]
His Highness and the States having considered the proposals for the furtherance of the negotiations for peace made by Count Schwarzenberg, thank his Majesty for his liberal offer of mediation, recognising the more than paternal affection that he has always borne to these countries, and begging him to continue in the same. They are highly satisfied with his Majesty's choice of the abovementioned as his ambassador, whose many good offices have shown his sincere affection to the public weal, and who has more experience of the affairs of this country than any other. They consider it would be highly convenient if peace were begun by an armistice for a month or six weeks ; on the understanding that there be during that time no trade or intercourse take place between the two sides, and that the limits of the two shall be defined, and not allowed to be overstepped on any pretext of ordinary jurisdiction or otherwise. Also the proceedings shall be commenced at once in some suitable place, where the negotiations lately begun at Louvain may be continued.—Antwerp, 3 Dec. 1578. Copy. Endd. Fr. 2 pp. [Holl. and Fl. X. 53.]
Dec. 3. 413. DAVISON to the SECRETARIES.
As soon as I 'had my dispatch' at Bruges, which was last Wednesday—(having obtained the grant of their particular obligations for the £45,000 lent last summer to the States, and being promised that they should at once be sent to their Deputies at Antwerp to be handed to me together with the bonds of Ghent, without which, and till they had the States' indemnity, they made a difficulty about giving me theirs)—I returned to Ghent, where I found things reasonably well appeased in regard to what had happened while I was at Bruges. Immediately upon my arrival I sent for the burgomaster Hembize to know what they had resolved in their assembly both as to my bonds and as to the other points. He told me that for the bonds, they had agreed and taken order for them to be sent to Antwerp, to be delivered to me by their Deputies there as soon as they had the States' indemnity. When I pressed to have them before my departure he excused the matter on the ground of the absence of their pensioners and secretary who were gone to the Prince at Dendermonde ; but assured me I should not fail of them at Antwerp within two or three days. Finding that my stay there would be of little profit, and thinking it besides not very safe, in respect of some news I had received, I thought it not amiss to depart with that answer. As for the other points propounded to them by me and the other commissioners, he told me that they had resolved : (1) To permit the churches for the Catholics ; (2) to give the churchmen enough to live upon, according to their qualities, during their lives, minding to apply the rest of their livings to the maintenance of the wars ; and (3) touching the prisoners to bind themselves by a solemn oath that no violence should be done to them during their detention, holding it inconsistent with their safety otherwise to release them before the troubles were at an end. This resolution they have sent to the Prince ; who considering that their limitations would not satisfy the malcontents nor agree with the drift the States and he had for establishing the religions freidt, has since sent the Deputies back to procure them to accord the matter in general terms, so that they might by that means have wherewith to stop the mouth of the revolted Walloons and their adherents, or at least a better colour to declare themselves against them if they would not be paid with reason. But what their success in this behalf will be is the more doubtful, because the malice and the faction of Hembize is increased since the late difference between him and Ryhove ; who on Tuesday the 18th ult. (upon letters received from the Prince) sent to request him to come to his lodging to confer on some matter of importance. Being there, after some speech in reproof of his proceedings, he told him that he should not leave his house till some order were taken for the redress of things ; and so leaving a good guard within and placing some companies of his own without to guard the street, went out and caused the people to assemble in arms in divers parts of the town, persuading such as would have the Prince for their governor to follow him. But when he saw that the people, marvelling at this sudden innovation and ignorant of the cause, made no great haste after him—though for the most part approving the government of the Prince—and finding that some of those who knew of the apprehension of Hembize began to form a 'partiality' against him and demand the ground of his doings (wherein he left them altogether unsatisfied, save that he told them he had orders from the Prince), and seeing that some disorder was likely to arise, he returned home ; where he was compelled to release his prisoner, who next day at the assembly in their town house called upon him to answer what he had done. After showing his authority, means was found to reconcile them, and so ended that tumult, very headily begun, and as fondly executed ; save that for two or three days after the people contended in arms and their gates were kept shut. Since then Hembize, notwithstanding the outward reconciliation, has so strengthened his cause with the base multitude that Ryhove, being now at Dendermonde, hardly dares to return to Ghent ; where the Monday before my return from Bruges they had taken arms anew, and expelled all strangers, chiefly the Walloons and French. Among them was the Vidame of Chartres, who has been there these five or six months, and M. de Bonivet the Duke of Alençon's ambassador ; who being forced to leave the town at 4 P.M. without any answer to his negotiations, was by the time he had ridden a mile or two overtaken by some of Duke Casimir's reiters to the number of a dozen horse ; and being assailed by them, a gentleman of his company slain and two of his horses taken, escaped very hardly with his own life and 'recovered' Dendermonde, where I left him. This outrage was so much the more noted and condemned that it is conjectured to have been purposely committed at the instigation of some there ; among whom because Hembize had by chance let fall certain speeches 'arguing such a pretence,' and had informed himself what way Bonivet would take and would by no means allow him to tarry a single night longer in the town, there is a vehement suspicion that it was not done without his privity, this fact being accompanied by others of no better quality, such as the murder of the bailiff and greffier of Haxelle lately committed by one Meghen, formerly an outlaw and 'ronnygate,' but now a chief captain at Ghent and a principal counsellor to Hembize. Under the sole pretext that those men had passed through Meenen in coming from Lille, he apprehended them by the way, cut their throats, plucked the hearts out of their bodies, and 'conveyed their carcases aside' ; where being in a day or two found, and Meghen apprehended for the murder, notwithstanding that the friends of the parties murdered tried earnestly for justice, yet he is now set at liberty by the means of Hembize, who in respect of his avowing and excusing the deed is not a little suspected of a share in the directing of it. It may thus appear how much this civil dissension has overcome the respect of natural charity and duty. The morning after my return to Ghent, finding M. de Famars arrived from the Prince to entreat Duke Casimir to meet him at Dendermonde, and understanding that the Duke, in spite of his promise and the Prince's great instance, seconded by the request of the Gantois themselves, made some difficulty, I thought it not amiss to repair to him ; partly to signify my return to Antwerp and to take my leave, but chiefly to find some occasion to remind him of his promise to me before I went to Bruges touching that interview, and persuade him to the performance of it. But perceiving his mind to be altered and himself utterly indisposed to the journey, excusing the matter with no other reason save that the Prince was come to Dendermonde not only with his own guard, but had also caused two companies of 'Temple's' regiment, in garrison at Brussels, to meet him there, having secluded and shut out as suspect certain Gantois that were sent thither, but arrived a quarter-of-an-hour too late. I did the best I could to remove his difficulties and persuade him to continue his first purpose ; laying before him not only his promises to me and to the Prince, but also the great jealousy and discontent which might grow of his refusal, since it would be thought either that he had some plot in hand whereby he meant to give the law to the Prince, or else that he had conceived some diffidence of him, when having agreed to go to Dendermonde when the garrison was of Gantois at the devotion of Hembize, and as might be construed, of himself, he should now refuse when the Prince is the stronger. I told him he did himself and the Prince the more wrong ; because it was his manner to be well guarded wheresoever he 'became,' and it was both lawful and ordinary for him, being lieutenant-general and the second person in the state. The Duke could not therefore find it new or suspicious, especially examining what he was both in religion and in the obligation of friendship towards him. I prayed him also to consider what might follow of his refusal if the Prince and States should be driven to run an extraordinary course with those of Ghent. For seeing that they must either approve or disapprove their actions and consequently take part either with or against them, and that to take part with them would be the way to draw upon their shoulders under colour of religion a war of infinite peril, not only against those of Hainault and Artois, but also against the French and Spaniards who were in a good way to unite, and that it would nourish a civil division almost in every town and so breed endless confusion in the whole state, I thought they would be forced to take some extraordinary course to reclaim them if they would not otherwise conform to reason. If this happened, as there was some appearance, I prayed him to consider what extremities he would draw himself into when he would have either to leave them or take part with them. If he left them, it were better done unconstrained, if only for reputation's sake ; while if he took part in their action, I wished him to consider what difficulties he would fall into, having to defend those that had no means to maintain one month's war being abandoned by some of their neighbours and assailed by the rest, nor was he able to supply them. So he would 'in common discourse' embark both (sic) his honour, his state, and his person in a desperate cause, of which he could expect nothing but a miserable issue unless by miracle. I therefore besought him to consider well what he did. He answered that the alteration of things since he last spoke with me had made him alter his resolution. He could not 'let men to imagine' what they list, and he did not mean to meddle or make further in their causes than for the satisfying of his army ; which obtained, he was resolved to return home. Finally since going to Dendermonde could profit him nothing, when he already understood the Prince's mind in full, he thought it impertinent to take the pains. This was in sum the answer I obtained from him, though I found his counsellors Languet and Junius in favour of the journey and only Beutrich opposed to it ; who foreseeing as it seems that the Prince, being a man able to decipher the ill counsel wherewith he has hitherto enchanted and possessed his master, to the great hazard of his honour, might break the neck of his dangerous practices, dissuades the interview all he may. In this he has, in my judgement, done a notable disservice to the cause of religion, and prejudice to the necessary amity and good intelligence between those princes, whose heart-burning, nourished by his ill offices, cannot well be repaired but by an interview. Of this I have the less hope, because the Prince has as good ground to refuse to go to Ghent, where the Duke by the fashion of Hembize esteems himself the stronger, as the other has to make difficulties, contrary to his promise, about coming to Dendermonde ; unless he think it more reasonable for the Prince to trust than to be trusted. But what the event will be, we shall be able to give some guess when the deputies return to Dendermonde, where, with the commissioners from the other Members of Flanders, they were expected on Saturday or Sunday last with a full answer to the points of difference. I hold it more than high time the matter were compounded ; because it has already wrought such an incredible confusion in the country as has changed the former hope of their good success against the Spaniard into a desperate opinion to the contrary. The frontier provinces are undoubtedly revolting from the rest, and 'in terms' of reconciling themselves with the King. Lille, Douay, Orchies, Tournay and divers places in Flanders are like to take the same train. The Walloons by the industry of la Motte are already won. The enemy are strengthened by a new levy of 4,000 horse and 8,000 or 9,000 landsknechts ; a good part of them having newly entered Luxembourg. The States' forces are disbanded and discontented for want of pay, and the means to satisfy them utterly diverted by these troubles of Flanders. The chiefs have retired, leaving their artillery as a 'pawn' in the hands of the reiters and landsknechts, and I fear it will soon be a prey for the enemy. The people are generally discontented, both with the fruitless effect of their huge army and with their great contributions towards its maintenance. Of all which I wot not what good end to hope, if they do not all the sooner obtain a peace. This is now being again brought forward by the Emperor's ambassador, upon letters received from his master by a gentleman of his ; which was the solemn embassy said to be on the way, though his Majesty promises to send again soon to second him. But having done the like before, men suspect both his sincerity and the effect of his overtures ; the rather because all his former pretence of care and goodwill to preserve the tranquillity of this country is as yet unaccompanied by any material effect. Howbeit, to prick him forward to effect it in better earnest, and to incline the King to a peace, they seem here to be in hand with a new resolution, not only to change their master, but to take the Duke of Alençon in his place, if they do not come to some agreement with him within three or four months. Into this traffic they seem to be carried rather upon an imagining they have to divert the Duke by that means from embracing the cause of the malcontents than by any great opinion of thriving otherwise by the bargain.—Antwerp, 3 Dec. 1578. P.S.—I understood at Ghent that Duke Casimir feeling grieved with my negotiation had written to her Majesty complaining of me as a man that had exceeded his limits. I think if my proceeding be well examined it will be found I have not much overshot myself on that behalf, how heinous soever his secretary Beutrich may make it ; having delivered nothing that I cannot justify with better reason than can be brought to the contrary, if I be called to my purgation. But I am infinitely sorry that such occasion was offered me to use that roundness with his Excellency which the honour of her Majesty, already greatly 'interessed' by his proceedings, his own reputation, and the state of this poor country urged me to. Howbeit, not having exceeded the limit of either duty or reason, or done anything else in that matter to the disservice of her Majesty, I doubt not but she will justify me. Wherein because Beutrich makes great vaunts to the contrary and meantime it touches my credit, having undertaken the journey in her Majesty's name, I should be glad to have some satisfaction. [From copy : I am even now given to understand that the Prince left Dendermonde as yesterday for Ghent, at the earnest instance of the Gantois, who offer to conform to his advice, and have for his better security removed the soldiers and strangers and such others as he thought good from the town and allowed him to bring in what guard he liked. To-day the Emperor's ambassador, of whose overture I send you a copy, goes to the Prince of Parma, to 'set abroach' our new treaty of peace ; wherein I pray God send better success than I hope for.] Draft. Endd. 7½ pp. [Holl. and Fl. X. 54.]
Dec. 3. 414. Copy of above, endd. in hand of Burghley's secretary. 6¼ pp. [Holl. and Fl. X. 54a.]
Dec. 3. 415. Rough draft of above, with corrections, P.S. &c. in Davidson's hand. Endd. 13 pp. [Ibid. X. 54b.]
Dec. [3.] 416. DAVISON to BURGHLEY.
On my return from Bruges to Ghent I learnt that Duke Casimir had in his private letters, both to the Queen and to you, 'found himself' grieved with my negotiations, as if I had exceeded the limits of my duty, and, as he says, nearly touched his honour. You have, I think, seen what I delivered to him, and can judge whether my error be as it is 'painted forth' by his councillor Beutrich, the penner of that complaint, in revenge of my roundness in his private respect. Surely I should be loth to forget myself so far, especially towards a Prince of his quality, whom I have always respected, as either to give him just cause to condemn me, or her Majesty occasion to disavow my doings. But that I have been plain with him I must confess ; yet if that have offended him, he does me the more wrong, seeing the respect of her Majesty's honour, his own reputation, and the weal of this perplexed state justifies me ; all of which have been prejudiced by the train of his late proceedings, through his addicting himself to the counsel of him that preferring his own passions has made 'portesale' of his credit, as I am able 'very particularly to decipher, if I were called to the reckoning.' Therefore I beg you not to conceive my doings to be other than justifiable till the contrary is proved, using me with your accustomed equity and favour, which I have so often tasted ; though fallen of late into a 'jealousy' of some alteration in your respect toward me, because in 6 or 7 months you have not vouchsafed to honour me with one line, either in directing my course here, or commanding my poor service. Therefore, I must beseech you to continue my good lord, and if my 'jealousy' be without cause, to pardon and excuse it as proceeding from the zeal I have to maintain your good opinion.—Antwerp, Dec. 1578. P.S.—For your more information of the 'success' of things here since the return of my cousin, Cheek, I send you a copy of my general letter, whereby you may see the token of a miserable confusion, if God do not miraculously help them. Draft. Endd. 1 p. [Ibid. X. 55.]
Dec. 3. 417. DAVISON to BURGHLEY.
Letter covering copy of his 'general letter.'
Add. Endd. by Burghley's secretary. 7th. [Ibid. X. 56.]
As you may remember, I asked you some time ago to favour me with a letter to the commissioners for Portugal causes. I should certainly have had it, had I been as diligent in soliciting it as your courtesy was prompt in granting it. Now I make bold to have recourse to you again, asking you to aid me with that letter, in virtue of which the commissioners may have power to execute their decision already given, and that I may have the moneys which Mr. George Smythe has for so long unreasonably detained with no pretence to a just claim upon them. This appears by the declaration I made to you before, a copy of it will be exhibited to you by this bearer ; to which, that I may not be too foolish, I refer you, and shall ever be at your service to the best of my ability.—London, 4 Dec. 1578. Add. Endd. by Walsingham. Ital. 1 p. [Holl. and Fl. X. 57.]
To satisfy Duke Casimir touching the offence he seems to have conceived against you, my lord of Leicester has thought meet to dispatch this bearer Mr. Rogers to him ; since her Majesty by reason of her pain in her teeth might not be dealt with in the matter. He has charged him to lay before the Duke that having entered upon an action of such consequence without the consent of the States or her Majesty's privity, by whom he was brought into the country, from which so great a wound has ensued to her reputation and no less hindrance to the common cause, she could not but in discharge of herself turn the blame of his own miscarriage of himself upon him. It falls out very well that she does not send herself, for she has conceived such offence against the Duke that if she had sent, it would perhaps have been some sharp message such as might have wrought an alienation of mind in the gentleman, whom, notwithstanding his error, it were not good altogether to lose ; considering that, as you know, the Walloons and divers of the nobility there are 'bent to grow to' a peace with the Prince of Parma, so that his service may stand those countries in good stead. Mr. Rogers has also in charge to mediate a reconciliation between the Duke and the Prince of Orange, as a matter necessary for the maintenance of religion and the defence of the liberties of the country, both which are likely to be hindered, and themselves 'ruinated' ; wherefore you will do well to assist him with your best advice. I have willed him to acquaint you with his charge and to hold good correspondence with you, forbearing to continue his strange manner of dealing towards you ; considering how necessary it is for her Majesty's public ministers, all private passions set apart, to concur together for the better furtherance of her service.— Richmond, 5 Dec. 1578. Add. Endd. 1¼ pp. [Ibid. X. 58.]
Dec. 5. 420. Affairs of HAINAULT and ARTOIS.
(1). The nobles and clergy of Lille and the castellanies thereof, of Douay, and of Orchies to the Archduke.
Seeing the villages of this district in such wise oppressed by the compositions, brandscathes, and assessments [quotisations] which for no excuse they have, to our great regret, long suffered at the hands of the Walloons in Menin, we could not but send our deputies to their colonels and captains, in order to represent to them, with our governor M. de Willerval, the total ruin which was in view. Whereupon M. de Hèze made a certain agreement with us, which we accepted on certain conditions, as your Highness may see by the enclosed copies. We beseech you nevertheless to be sure that what we did was done with no intention of favouring their designs, which are unknown to us ; but only under constraint, to obviate the total desolation of the castellany of Lille, which without it would have been certainly wasted, many people having left their houses. We beseech you to believe that we have no intention of severing ourselves from the general union of these Low Countries, whatever reports to the contrary may have been made to your Highness or the States General.—Lille, 5 Dec. 1578. (Signed) Desfontaines.
(2) Undertaking by William de Hornes Baron of Hèze, that in consideration of furnishing pay from the 6th Nov. onwards for three companies of Walloons, at the rate of 1,736 florins per company, per mensem, the castellanies of Lille, Douay and Orchies shall not be liable to 'brandscathe or composition' at the hands of the garrison of Menin, and shall be under the protection of the writer. 'Actum par nous, le 4 de Novembre 1578.'
(3) Acceptance of the above by the estates of the above districts (clergy and nobles). The sum to be paid is recited as 1,725 livres at 40 gros per livre ; and it is stipulated that the agreement shall include the garrisons of Halewyn, Lannoy, Esterre, Warneston and other places as well as that of Menin. Also that all moneys received under it shall be duly counted and paid pursuant to the letters to that effect given by M. de Montigny to the local authorities.
Copies. Endd. Fr. 4 pp. [Holl. and Fl. X. 59.]
Dec. 5. 421. W. ZULEGER to DAVISON.
I put off writing to you till I had spoken to Duke Casimir, which I have done this evening. On the arrival of the Prince the Duke went to meet him outside the town and got into his coach (se mit sur la gotsche). In the evening he supped at the Duke's lodgings, who took a great glass of wine and drank to the Prince as his father, calling him father all the evening in token of gratitude. After supper the table being cleared and mention being made of Beutrich the Prince says out loud before all the nobles and lords : 'That villain, that liar, has decried me for an Atheist and if he had called me madman or anything, I should have said nothing ; but laying such a crime on me, and wishing to divide me from you, that is in no way reasonable. I will have' he says 'my rights of him ; and you, sir' he says, meaning the Duke, 'you hear my complaint, and will do me justice ; which if you do not, I have got to have my rights of him anyhow.' He repeated this remark several times. Since then the Prince has not spoken to him but has treated with those of the town ; where there is a fair show of accord. This evening I have spoken with him at length and freely, and can assure you that I found him very gentle, and ready to do all that the Prince advises. I explained (déciffré) well to him how Beutrich has been deceiving him. He said that he would not be responsible for him ; he should be spoken to directly and might answer for himself. So I can assure that good may be hoped from this side ; and it will be well if you are here next week to help to assure this good work. Or if you like to stay at Antwerp till the Duke goes there, it will be at your discretion so to do.—Ghent, 5 Dec. 1578. Add. : (Monsieur d'Avizon). Fr. 1 p. [Holl. and Fl. X. 60.]