Calendar of State Papers Foreign: Elizabeth, Volume 16, May-December 1582. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1909.
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So copious is the foreign correspondence of this period that the present volume contains the papers of eight months only—May 1 to Dec. 31 (o.s.), 1582. In Antwerp the period opens sadly with the death of the Princess of Orange, Charlotte de Bourbon-Montpensier. After devotedly tending her husband during the anxious weeks which followed his narrow escape with life from Jaurequy's bullet, she had hardly seen him fairly out of danger when she herself broke down, and on May 4 she succumbed to pleurisy.
The presence of the Duke of Anjou did little or nothing to improve the position. He himself, of course, was incapable of restoring anything like order or good government; indeed those who had most influence with him introduced new disorders. We hear of brawls at his Court. Money which should have gone to relieve the ill-paid and half-starved soldiers was wasted on banquets. Martin Coushe has some trenchant remarks (No. 405) about a great supper, at which the duke invited Norris to entertain him and other eminent persons in the course of October; and to which several other correspondents refer. Though Norris could not have declined, it hardly increased his popularity. From the first the new duke was suspected and disliked by the bulk of the population, who resented the reintroduction of Catholic worship into Antwerp and Brussels, and had a rooted distrust of Frenchmen. Naturally enough, the English, who formed the backbone of the States” forces, soon fell out with their French allies. Writing on July 3, Roger Williams expresses a hope that their arrival would make it possible to “try who shall be masters of the field”; but ten days later, after a skirmish near Bourbourg in which troops of both nations took part, recriminations began, and “although the honest men and gentlemen of both nations agree very well, yet there pass such abuses betwixt the common soldiers, that unless it be redressed presently, it will fall out shortly.” As might perhaps also have been expected, the members of the old French Huguenot contingent who had been serving for some years in the country, showed no great regard for Anjou's miscellaneous levies. Herle, writing on July 7, says: “The old and new bands of French in our camp were like to have been in arms among themselves, for difference of religion.” Villeneuve, who had commanded the “old bands” since the capture of la Noue, refused to serve under la Pierre—a somewhat incompetent officer, it would seem—whom Rochepot, ill of fever, had deputed to take his place. In the same letter in which he mentions this, Fremyn criticises his countrymen severely. “The French have conquered few or no kingdoms which they have not lost for lack of good conduct.”
The record of the period is few successes and many losses. Towards the end of April, Thiant had greatly annoyed Parma by surprising Alost; a somewhat important capture, as the possession of the place by the enemy afforded him a base of operations against Dendermonde, Ghent, Ninove, and Mechlin. It remained in the hands of the States for over two-and-a-half years On the other hand, an attempt upon Courtray, by Rochepot and Rowland Yorke, failed, though made with some determination, three “scalados,” writes Herle, having been repulsed. A similar attempt on Aerschot seems to have had a similar result.
The Spanish successes open with the capture, in the first week of May, of the castle of Gaesbeck, a strong position within a few miles of Brussels. (fn. 1) It was retaken by some French in October.
The most important success achieved by the enemy was the capture of Oudenarde. The town had been loosely invested before the end of April. Stokes, writing on May 20, expresses surprise at the slackness with which the attack is being pushed, and suspects it to be a feint, to draw attention away from more important designs elsewhere. Parma, however, meant business, and those in the town realised it. Oudenarde, forming as it did a link in the chain of fortresses which still blocked the approach from the south-west to Ghent, Bruges, and above all, Antwerp, was a place of great strategical importance. La Noue had fortified it with great care, and fondly called it his “petite Rochelle.” On hearing that it was to be besieged, he is said to have expressed a hope that Parma, for whose military talents the veteran had a great admiration, would not throw away his reputation over an impossible task. It had besides for Margaret's son the sentimental attraction of having been the birthplace of her mother—“daughter to a crossbowmaker that dwelt there,” says Herle—and of herself. Herle, in sending a plan of the town for the Queen, is careful to mark the sites.
The siege of Oudenarde began to be more seriously conducted in June. On the 4th, after bombardment, a ravelin was assaulted, but unsuccessfully. In the course of the next few days 1,800 rounds of large artillery were fired. The States” camp lay inactive a few miles away, waiting for succours from France, and for Norris, who had been recalled from Guelderland, leaving that province almost undefended. When he came he was unwilling to go to the camp, perceiving that no good could be done with the inferior forces at the disposal of the States. On June 28 he takes a more hopeful view, if Fervacques with the French troops, and Count Mansfeldt with his reiters, come at any good time. However, Fervacques was loitering about, no one quite knew where, and Count Mansfeldt's reiters began to be heard of about July 7; by which time Oudenarde was gone. Closely invested, and despairing of succour, finally driven back by a furious assault to their entrenchments within the town, the besieged on July 3 consented to a parley. Next day, under cover of a heavy storm of rain and hail, the enemy succeeded in getting within their defences, and after more heavy fighting, they were pushed to their last refuge across the river. On the 5th the place surrendered. For his mother's sake, perhaps at her request, Parma granted favourable terms, a copy of which is given in No. 140. The governor, Frederick van der Borch, and his officers and soldiers were allowed to depart with arms, ensigns, and baggage; while the burghers were promised that no proceedings should be taken against any man. A subsequent version, recounted by Herle, credits the burghers with less determination, and as usual finds the cause of the disaster in “intelligence” between some of the besieged and the besiegers. (fn. 2)
The loss of Oudenarde did not increase the popularity of Anjou and the French, and even the Prince of Orange was blamed. The English force was at once hurried off to strengthen Dunkirk, the capture of which port was believed to be Parma's immediate aim. On the way the English, led by one Venicome (or Vinicombe), took the opportunity to mutiny and arrest their officers, on the plea of arrears of pay; but the French marching on, emulation proved more efficacious than discipline, and the men returned to duty. In August, however, discontent had reached such a pitch that 300 went over to the enemy. Parma received them with open arms, hoping that they might serve as decoy-ducks. A rumour seems to have reached the camp that the Queen “did not wholly mislike” this change of sides; indeed, that it had been suggested from England.
A little later another mutiny seems to have taken place over arrears of pay. Norris, though a fine soldier, was not conciliatory, and something of a cabal against him seems to have been got up, in which Morgan was persuaded, through some bit of gossip reported by Herle, to countenance so far as to ask pardon for the mutineers; a request sharply rejected by the Prince of Orange. French jealousies seem to have contributed. (See No. 227.)
The enemy followed close from Oudenarde on the heels of the States” army, and took up a position before the town of Berghes-Saint-Wynock, a few miles in front of the States” camp. Here, on August 3, a smart skirmish took place in which some Englishmen, notably Roger Williams and Rowland Yorke, distinguished themselves. Several pens have described the scene, of which perhaps the most graphic is that of Martin Couche (No. 217), an officer in the force. Apparently a sortie was made upon the Spanish army as it passed in front of Berghes, led by Parma in person. The assailants were repulsed by the Spanish horse, but rallied behind some English pikes, and left off with the honours of the day, a colour having been taken by Williams, and a Burgundian colonel, Balanson (brother to Marc de Rié, Marquis of Varembon, a man of some importance), with some of his officers, taken prisoner, much to Parma's vexation, as Strada informs us. This officer seems to have saved his life by the old stratagem of giving the name of a more eminent personage; whence a report went abroad that Montigny had been taken. Norris's report of the affair (No. 221) is curiously meagre in details. He says nothing of either Williams or Yorke, with the former of whom he was not on the best of terms, while he probably (not without reason) distrusted the latter; mentioning only a Captain Huntlay, whose name does not occur in the narratives of the eye-witnesses.
Whatever elation may have arisen from this little success was quickly damped by the report of a serious disaster. Situated between Antwerp and Mechlin, at no great distance from either, the town of Lierre was a post of considerable importance. It was garrisoned mainly by Scotch under Captain William Sempill; and in the early morning of August 2 Sempill admitted Haultepenne with a force of Malcontents. The motives for the treason are variously stated. Sempill had quarrelled with Stewart; but Stewart was already out of the country. The Scots, like others, were short of pay and becoming disaffected. Even at Meenen, which they were to hold valiantly for some time longer, we find one of the officers, a younger brother of the notorious Master of Gray, deserting to the enemy just at this time. In a letter to Walsingham a few weeks later, Sainte-Aldegonde expresses grave doubts as to the good faith of the Scotch king, and seems to anticipate a wholesale defection of his subjects in the Netherlands from the national cause. The best account of the betrayal of Lierre comes from Thomas Doyley (No. 237), who tells the story in racy fashion. Among other details he mentions that Sempill took the last opportunity of fleecing the Antwerp tradesmen by buying silks, velvets, &c., on credit. (fn. 3) The loss of Lierre rendered the position of Antwerp far less secure; a fact generally recognised, and expressed in a jocose notice posted up at the gate of the captured town that “The city of Antwerp is to let next Michaelmas” (No 234). Before the end of the month the town of Batemburg on the Maas in which Stewart, who before his departure for Scotland had married the widow of a former lord of that place, (fn. 4) had left a Scotch garrison, was lost to the States by a similar act of treachery; it may be surmised, not without the cognisance of their late commander, with whom both the Spaniards and the Queen of Scots had for some years been tampering.
So long as Berghes held out it was useless to attack Dunkirk, and Parma accordingly brought his camp back, after a demonstration against Meenen, to Oudenarde, augmented by 6,000 Italians and Spaniards, the Pacification of Ghent, of which he had never approved, being now regarded by him as a dead letter. Early in the morning of August 29, he marched out of Oudenarde, with the intention of making a sudden attack on the States” army, encamped under the walls of Ghent, and at the moment preparing for an attempt to recover Gavre. The Spaniards attacked with unexampled fury, and penetrated to the baggage-train. The fighting lasted, with a short intermission, for 9 or 10 hours, and was very fierce. The English mutineers were given the post of honour, as the forlorn hope; and seem to have earned the enconiums of their countrymen on the other side. The States” forces broke and fled into the city; but the English led by Norris in person, aided by a few French gentlemen, “detesting” says Herle “the vileness of their own nation,” gallantly covered the retreat. The action took place under the eyes of the Prince of Orange and the Duke of Anjou, who had come to Ghent on August 20 for Anjou's installation as Count of Flanders, and watched the fight from the walls with some personal danger. Norris's own report is as usual provokingly laconic, leaving particulars “to the report of the bearer”; but Stokes (No. 294) and Herle more fully (No. 302) give picturesque details.
While these operations were in progress a matter was being investigated which caused much sensation at the time, and still remains to some extent an unsolved problem. During the stay of Anjou and the Prince at Bruges, where the Court remained so long as the camp was at Dunkirk (that is from the fall of Oudenarde to about Aug. 16, when it was suddenly moved to Ghent), was apprehended one Nicolas Salcedo, on a charge of conspiracy to murder both Prince and Duke. He was a man of the vilest character, though of fairly good birth. He was the owner of an estate in Normandy, where his diversions had been highway-robbery and the clipping of coin; for the latter of which offences he was under sentence of death in France, and had indeed been executed (by boiling) in effigy. His father, a Spaniard by birth, had been in the service of the Duke of Lorraine as governor of a town; one story, says Metz, which seems hardly probable. According to one version the elder Salcedo had even ventured to ally himself by marriage with the ducal House, a piece of presumption which incurred the displeasure of the Guises, who, either for this, or for an estate of his, coveted by the Cardinal of Lorraine, contrived to get him, though a staunch Papist, removed in the Massacre.
Salcedo, escaping the caldron, had fled to Parma, and is said to have been with the Spanish army at the capitulation of Oudenarde. He seems to have obtained access immediately afterwards to the Duke of Anjou by means of an introduction from the Duke of Lorraine. Very soon he struck up an acquaintance with the younger Count of Egmont, whom since his brother's defection and imprisonment the Prince of Orange had taken under his special protection. In spite of the Prince's warnings this youth contrived to cultivate Salcedo's acquaintance, and was arrested with him, though not treated with rigour. Salcedo was put on his trial, after the fashion of the time; and by July 26 enough evidence had been collected to send to a personage whom Audley Danett designates only by a number, but who was, as may be inferred from Bizarri's of a few days later (No. 231), the French king; and to cast suspicion on another, who may be the Duke of Guise. (Unluckily there is no key to Danett's numerical cipher; and the papers do no contain specimens enough of it to enable any very certain inferences to be drawn. In the previous paragraph of No. 189, in which it is employed, it seems plausible to interpret “by Queen Mother out of France, and by the Queen out of England.”)
Pending the arrival of directions from France Salcedo and his accomplice, an Italian named Francesco Baza or Masa, whom he had somewhat imprudently sent with a report to Parma, and who had been arrested at Dunkirk, were kept in prison at Bruges. In the interval Baza had killed himself with a knife in the prison; not, however, before he had under torture revealed a good deal.
The answer from France came on August 11, in the persons of Secretaries Bellièvre and Brulart. A few days later Cobham writes that the Guises were much “offended”—meaning perhaps put in difficulty—by Salcedo's apprehension, and seems to hint at the destruction of incriminating documents; and in another letter that they were annoyed with Monsieur for sending his confession to the king. On August 19 Salcedo was sent in irons to Ghent, and two days later started, very unwillingly, for Paris with the Secretaries; after further revelations as to designs against the king. They reached Paris on August 28, and the prisoner was committed to Bois de Vincennes, where great precautions were taken against any possibility of his communicating with those outside. It was said that the windows of his cell were to be walled up. There he was visited by the Queen Mother, and examined by Cardinal Birague and others; before whom he retracted a great part of his confessions. A more formal examination was conducted by President de Thou, the head of the Paris Bench. The King of Spain seems to have made interest on his behalf; it was alleged with the threat that reprisals for any hurt done to him might be taken on the persons of la Noue and Turenne. On October 12 the king, after a private interview with the prisoner, caused another examination to be held by de Thou, Chiverny and others in his presence, at which Salcedo repeated the retractation of his charge against the Guises. At some time during the proceedings Guise had expressed a desire to be confronted with the prisoner (No. 484), but it does not appear that this ever took place. Two days later he was removed to the Bastille. Cobham says “it is supposed he will be racked”; which seems to imply that he had not up till then gone through that process. When he did undergo it, it was reported that the king was present concealed behind some tapestry. The king so far believed in Philip's complicity that he instructed his ambassador at Venice to make formal complaint of it to the Signiors. (fn. 5) In an undated decipher (No. 401), which must belong to about this time (or perhaps a little earlier) Cobham again reports the uneasiness of the Guises in respect of Salcedo's revelations. On October 24 he was formally condemned, and on the following day executed on the Place de Grêeve, being given “two or three plucks” by four horses, and then strangled On the scaffold he made statements which were taken down in writing, but not published, though the Guises were presently allowed to print a “justification” based on them. This was in due course circulated among their friends. The operations were witnessed by the king, Guise, Mayenne, and most of the Court. Cobham notices that after the event the king's relations with the Guises became more friendly; but hints that he may have been dissembling.
During Salcedo's imprisonment in France, Anjou wrote letters to the king and his mother, copies of which reached the English embassy. The drift of them is somewhat obscure; but he seems to intend to dissociate himself and his servants from the charges brought against the Guises, and to repudiate statements to the effect that they had been extorted by any pressure on the part of the latter. The horror of the whole affair so wrought on President de Thou that he died at the beginning of November.
The matter caused a stir outside of France. On Nov. 8 Walsingham writes asking for particulars, especially touching the Guises, on behalf of the Queen; and hints that what is published is far from being the whole story. A copy of the judgement (which is in print elsewhere) was sent by Cobham.
Lastly, the Prince of Parma sent a special messenger to Italy to clear himself of Salcedo's imputations; one would think an unnecessary step in an age when political assassination was one of the ordinary weapons of statecraft. It is noticeable that Alexander's panegyrist, the Jesuit Strada, passes over the whole affair in silence.
In the east the withdrawal of Norris and the English from Guelders had put that province in jeopardy; and if Parma had been able to follow the instructions given by Philip (which, as the letter was intercepted, may not have reached him) to reinforce Verdugo at once, it might have been restored to the Spanish allegiance. Lochem, which Verdugo was besieging, was re-victualled by Count Hohenlohe and again by Count William of Nassau, and some of the enemy's forts captured by the latter. Verdugo made a show of retiring, leaving a small force in observation; but some French cavalry, who incautiously came out to attack these, were roughly handled, and the three sons of the Count of Bergen, nephews to the Prince of Orange, were taken prisoners. Norris was sent back to Guelders with English and French troops, and by September 27 the news had reached Antwerp of his successful relief of Lochem, and defeat of Verdugo. The “young earls” were set free, and five ensigns taken. But so accustomed were people to bad news, that, as Herle reports, many at first doubted the truth of the good tidings. Incidentally it may be noted that one of our best sources of gossip fails us during the siege of Lochem. Fremyn was among the beleaguered garrison, in command of a company; and whether from the stress of military duties, or from the difficulty of getting letters through, we have nothing from him between July 29 and November 11.
Towards the end of October reinforcements from France were at hand. Biron, after some refusal of permission to march, had brought an army of 20,000 men across the Somme. The king, Cobham says, had even sent 60,000 crowns towards its expenses. On November 26 he passed Gravelines, Parma having made no serious effort to hinder his advance; and by the beginning of December he was at Bruges. With him were the Prince Dauphin—now become, by his father's death two months before, Duke of Montpensier—and many other gentlemen, both Catholic and Huguenot. After being feasted at Bruges and Ghent, they arrived at Antwerp in Christmas-week (according to the New Style); too late to be of any use, if indeed they had ever been intended to be so. The only achievement in which they bore a part was the treacherous attack on Antwerp, which a fortnight later put an end to Anjou's chances in the Low Countries.
The success at Lochem seems to have made the States too confident. Forces were withdrawn again to Brabant, and weak garrisons left in the towns. The folly of this policy soon appeared, for Verdugo, after his repulse, hastened into Overyssel, and in November surprised Steenwyk, from the siege of which he had been driven in the previous winter by Norris; thus gaining a foothold dangerously near the coast.
Attention may here be directed to an interesting document, for which we are indebted to Audley Danett, Norris's secretary, and a very regular correspondent; brother to the better known Charles, the translator of Commines. It is a list of the towns on (using the word in a wide sense) the four principal rivers, Maas, Waal, Rhine, Yssel, held at the beginning of November by the Duke of Anjou (i.e. the States) and the King of Spain respectively (No. 438, 2). It will be noted that all within the lines of the Waal and Yssel, that is Holland, Utrecht, and the northern half of Guelderland, was well guarded, while a kind of transverse curtain of strongholds between the Maas and the Rhine protected the angle of this line, so long as it was not itself taken in flank and rear by the king's forces in possession of the Maas from Ruremonde upwards. At present, however, Parma contented himself with leaving Verdugo to carry out more or less desultory operations in the east, while he himself worked steadily towards Antwerp. Before he could successfully attack the capital, four large cities remained to be reduced—Bruges, Ghent, Brussels, and Mechlin; and it will be seen that now and for the next two years every operation undertaken by him had for its aim the loosening of the grip of the States upon one or other of those places. The capture of Nynove, after a siege, on November 15, was the most important step forward made by him during the remainder of the year. It completed the recovery of Flanders south of the line of the Lys and Scheldt, with the exception of Alost, which held out for a year longer, and Dendermonde, which Alost protected.
The last days of the old year (or the first of the new, according to the style which we adopt) were brightened for the national cause by a successful raid carried out by Bonnivet, resulting in the recapture of Eyndhoven in north-west Brabant, which had been taken by Haultepenne fourteen months before. Expert observers like Norris and Fremyn comment on the value of this capture as affording a base for operations to recover Breda and Bois-le-duc. But a few days later all was thrown into confusion by the French treason at Antwerp; and before the spring was far advanced, the town was won back by Count Charles Mansfeldt.
Turning to France, we find not much calling for special notice during the first part of our period The chief interest during this time turned on the question of the extent to which the king was a consenting party to his brother's enterprise in Flanders, and how far he was prepared to aid him. He saw plainly enough the danger of going so far as to be involved in open hostility with Spain. To Biron, who was eager to be employed in the Netherlands, and was thought to have the influence of the Queen Mother on his side, he replied through Villeroy that he had reason to fear he might get engaged in war with his neighbour. Which neighbour was meant, the secretary declined to specify; but the marshal could have not much doubt on that point. At the same time orders were sent to Calais and Mézières forbidding any trade on the part of those frontier towns which might aid the Spanish forces to obtain supplies. The prohibition was repeated for Calais in August. Pallavicino, a shrewd observer, whose position in the financial world brought him into contact with leading people, cannot, at the beginning of August, make up his mind as to the king's intentions. He gives the reasons for and against, evidently in his own mind leaning rather to the latter. In August the Queen Mother was giving out her intention of helping her son so far as it might be done without an open breach with Spain; and the Prince Dauphin had yielded to her persuasion so far as to announce his intention of setting out. His father, the Duke of Montpensier, was warm in the cause. The king at this time was absent, having gone to Lyons. If Herle may be trusted (No. 302) his journey was regarded in the Low Countries as a pretext for keeping himself clear of any suspicion of connivance, while he himself was thought to be in correspondence with Philip. The mission of Bellièvre and Brulart must have had another object than the examination of Salcedo. They were doubtless also intended to report on the state of affairs in the Low Countries; and they must have seen these in a more hopeful light than observers of longer local experience. Soon after their return Cobham reports that Bellièvre had brought the king's assent to the dispatch of a force under the Prince Dauphin and Biron; the arrival of which in Flanders has already been mentioned.
Perhaps the most dramatic event of the period in which France took a hand, and one which though outwardly it looked like a filibustering enterprise, was not without its effect on international politics, was Strozzi's expedition to the Azores. The Queen Mother, for purposes of her own, had never renounced her shadowy claim on the throne of Portugal, though she had for the present transferred her goodwill and interest to Don Antonio, together with the more tangible assistance of 300,000 crowns. In May the fleet, which had been assembling in Normandy and at Bordeaux, sailed to its rendezvous at Brouage, and by the end of the month had reached Belle Isle, Strozzi being in command. (fn. 6) On Whitmonday, June 4, Don Antonio with Count Vimioso and others of his followers left Tours, and on the 16th sailed with a fleet of 60 ships, carrying 5,000 “fighting men,” among whom there were reckoned to be 1,200 gentlemen volunteers. English aid had been earnestly requested by both Don Antonio and Strozzi, as the one thing needed to ensure the success of the enterprise, and had been promised. As late as July 15 Custodio Leitam, the pretender's agent in England and Flanders, asserts that the Queen had given permission for the employment of some of her ships. A somewhat obscure sentence (due perhaps to his imperfect knowledge of the language in which he writes) seems to imply that they were long in appearing. Ultimately it would seem that no Englishmen took part in the expedition, at any rate as officers—a “footman” of the Earl of Leicester's is mentioned as having been in the battle—though seven ships were lent as transports. One was lost by fire before the fleet left France. (fn. 7) Nor did the aid promised from the Low Countries come to anything. On July 8 Herle writes that the preparation of it is “quylled”; though the sanguine Leitam was still hopeful after the middle of August.
The first news of the expedition after its departure from French waters came to hand on July 27, when Antoine Scalin, one of Don Antonio's captains, arrived at Paris with dispatches announcing that a descent had been made on the extreme north of Portugal, and the coast town of Viana occupied (No. 209). (fn. 8) Thence the fleet proceeded on its way to the Azores, and no more is heard of it for some weeks. Presently sinister rumours begin to come in. On August 15 Cobham writes: “They have spread about these two days that the French navy has fought with the Spaniards, in which fight Strozzi is said to have been slain.” A few days later fugitives began to arrive, bringing confirmation of the disaster. The Queen Mother, we are told, “shed more tears, with more show of grief, than has appeared in her at the death of any of her children." (fn. 9) From her own letters it is clear that there was a strong personal affection between her and her kinsman Strozzi.
Next came Captain Nippeville, once a noted pirate, who had ere now made acquaintance with the inside of an English prison. He had commanded a ship in Brissac's division, and had taken part in Brissac's premature withdrawal out of action. He brought yet more detailed corroboration; but curiously enough the fact of his having run away caused his tale to be discredited, and so far as Strozzi personally was concerned, Catherine's hopes began to rise again. The arrival at the Court of Count Brissac himself, with the news that he had brought home three Spanish prizes, also helped for a moment to put men in a more cheerful frame of mind; but still remained the anxiety as to the fate of the bulk of the fleet and its commander. At an audience on August 28 the Queen Mother mentioned to Cobham a story brought by the Bishop of Angers, of a French bark which had witnessed the action, and had subsequently seen French ships in chase of Spaniards. A somewhat similar story as to a rally and success on the part of the French fleet, after a reverse at first, and the loss of their leader, came in a few days later. These and similar rumours were afterwards accounted for on the supposition that the arrival of a squadron under Captain Pardini, some days after the decisive action, had given rise to expectations which were magnified into facts. On the same day, September 4, on which he sends the latest of these reports, Cobham writes: “There is small hope of M. Strozzi's life” In England, in spite of the hopeful news that reached Mauvissièere, there was little belief in the prosperous issue of the enterprise; and the same seems to have been the case in the Low Countries, where the result was awaited with even graver anxiety.
Even when no more doubt of Strozzi's death remained, the tale of a subsequent victory won by Don Antonio's fleet still had some currency. The Queen Mother herself sent the story to the Low Countries, but according to Danett, writing September 17, though “constantly reported for true in the Court,” it got little credit in financial and commercial circles.
After the middle of September no further doubt was possible as to the disastrous issue of the expedition. On the 16th or 17th of that month one Fournicon, who had been Strozzi's secretary, arrived at Paris, bringing an authentic account of what had happened. It will be found in No. 365, which was doubtless sent by Cobham, probably between his letter of September 17 and the very full account (No. 353), apparently of Portuguese origin, enclosed in his letter of the 26th This account does not appear to have been previously published. It tallies very well with those given in the supplement to the Lettres de Catherine de Médicis, and gives a full narrative of the events. The fleet took a month to reach St. Michael's. There they effected a landing, and got the better in a skirmish with the Spanish troops stationed on the island, but could not capture the fort without artillery. Before the guns could be landed, Santa Cruz and his fleet appeared. It was decided to give battle, and the landing-party was got safely on shipboard; contrary to the advice of some, who held it better to make sure of the island than to hazard everything on the chances of an engagement. Several days however clapsed, during which the fleets did no more than look at each other. Strong and shifting winds may have contributed to the delay; but in all probability Strozzi felt himself hampered by divided counsels, and doubts as to the trustworthiness of several among his officers. It was said also that he anticipated a change of wind unfavourable to the French fleet. If so his forecast was justified, for the Spaniards, who had been to leeward, seem to have had the weathergage in the fight. One advantage for Strozzi lay in the fact that Don Antonio, who had nominally been in supreme command, left the fleet on July 25, and sailed, it was reported, in the direction of Madeira. As a matter of fact he went no further than Terceira, the principal, though not the largest, island in the group, which was devoted to his cause. A council of war was held on the 25th, at which after some opposition Strozzi got his own way, and it was decided to fight on the morrow. His first action was to leave his own unwieldy vessel, in spite of the remonstrances of his flag-captain, Cauquigny, and the crew, and go on board the handier ship commanded by M. de Beaumont. He wished, he said, to force the fighting before those who, from whatever motive, (fn. 10) counselled inaction, should have a chance of, in the picturesque phrase of the time, “throwing the cat between his legs.” Beaumont, it should be noted, was second in command of Brissac's squadron, and somewhat resented the Commander-in-chief's decision to come on board his ship.
In spite, however, of their leader's forwardness, many held back. The writer of the account before us estimates that out of 48 or 49 ships present not more than 8 or 9 were really engaged. These did their duty manfully at first. Strozzi and Brissac went straight for the largest of the enemy's vessels; but Brissac, finding himself overmatched, soon hauled off, and sailed away for France. Strozzi fought on for more than an hour. Cauquigny, who seems to have done his duty well, endeavoured to come to his aid; but before he could do so, the Spanish flagship, which had as yet taken no part in the fighting, (fn. 11) bore down on Strozzi's disabled vessel, and laid her aboard. One volley cleared her decks. Strozzi was taken alive, but mortally wounded. Various reports reached France as to his actual fate. It was stated that Santa Cruz had wished him to be dragged in pieces between four boats: again, that he had been thrown overboard while still living. As a matter of fact, he seems to have died of his wounds almost immediately after the enemy came on board his ship. Santa Cruz, in his dispatch announcing the victory, is said to have spoken in high praise of his valour. Towards the survivors who fell into his hands he was implacable. The gentlemen were beheaded, it was said in some cases after being tortured; those of inferior station were hanged, all save boys under sixteen, who were sent to the galleys. The execution was carried out at Villafranca on August 1. The Spanish commander may perhaps be excused for following the precedent set at Smerwick; but the cruelty was deeply resented in France, and all possibility of an alliance with Spain was put out of the question; so that the enterprise, though ending so disastrously, was of service to the Protestant interest. Among those who lost their lives in the battle was Count Vimioso, the so-called Constable of Portugal, who had been Don Antonio's right-hand man. He lived for a few days after the battle, and before his death made in the presence of Santa Cruz, and partly in reply to questions by him, a declaration, a copy of which came into the hands of Dr Hector Nuñez, and was by him forwarded to Walsingham (No. 383). It does not reveal anything not otherwise known, and looks very like a document concocted with the object of implicating Henry III and his mother in the business. (fn. 12) For some reason the passages which most tend that way do not appear in the accompanying English version, made apparently by Nuñez himself. The copy of the original that we have may be that enclosed in Cobham's of Nov. 4.
The farce of the Anjou marriage continues, though in less lively style, to be performed throughout the period embraced in this volume. Du Vray, one of Anjou's most trusted ministers (and a Protestant), had been sent to Paris by him immediately after his arrival in the Netherlands, to urge the king's consent to Elizabeth's conditions as to the method of defraying the cost of the enterprise; himself to pay half, Monsieur and the States (subsidised by the Queen) the balance. His brother appears to have added on his own account a request that the king would be security for the repayment by the States of their debts. This Henry quite refused to comply with; he is said indeed to have declined to meddle any further in the business, or allow troops to be levied. Such at least was Cobham's impression, after conversations with Pinart; though a different version, based, it would seem, on some gossip transmitted by the Queen of Navarre, reached the Low Countries. At any rate, du Vray returned about the middle of April. During his absence, Anjou himself had been “taking it very hardly that the entertainment of England waxes so cold towards him,” and complaining of the lack of “special messages and tokens” from the Queen. The Queen's retort was a tu quoque. On May 13 Walsingham writes to Cobham: “Her Majesty understanding that du Vray, whom Monsieur had dispatched to the king to stay the impediments that delay the going forward of the marriage, was returned, and yet hearing nothing from Monsieur of the answer he had received, began to take it in ill part that he should so long have delayed to acquaint her with the matter, and therefore by her letters charged him withal; letting him understand that this manner of dealing could not but proceed from some change of his good will and professed affection towards her, whereby the world would be drawn to conjecture that his coming over did not tend so much to seek her person as to crave her money.” This home-thrust drew a prompt reply. Bacqueville came over with his master's protestation that the unfavourable nature of du Vray's tidings was his sole reason for not imparting them; that he “remained the same way still,” and “desired nothing more than that the marriage which he has so long and earnestly sought may be brought to pass"; with a request that in view of the small results which had followed the negotiations of the previous year, and his own personal prosecution of his suit, Cobham might be directed to give the king some definite assurance. Thus far she was not prepared to go; personal dignity and fear of censorious tongues forbade what might seem like “a kind of wooing of Monsieur.” But if the king should make any enquiry, the ambassador might reply as before, “that the impediment being taken away, her Majesty does not at present know of any other cause of delay in the matter of marriage."
As was natural, the suspicions of the king and his mother were not wholly allayed by this repetition of what they had so often heard. This time they were ready with tit for tat. “Being informed thereof,” writes Cobham a fortnight later—not without some trepidation as to how his report may be received—"(they) have said she does not deal sincerely, and did not love him, nor help him for any other respect but to serve against the Spanish king, and to be revenged.” The ever-sanguine Mauvissière still reported that the Queen “seemed to be very forward”; but on June 7 Cobham is again directed to convey her fear of being thought unduly so. Again, on June 20, Walsingham urges the importance of not allowing the matter to slumber. This whole dispatch (No. 101) is interesting. Walsingham is of opinion, in spite of the king's professions of readiness to do what was required of him—a report to that effect had as above mentioned been circulated when Bellièvre was in the Low Countries, and had at once aroused Elizabeth's suspicions that it was merely a blind to conceal his real unwillingness to proceed—“that he mistrusts her meaning in the matter, and that makes him keep off.” But the secretary consoles himself with the thought that there was in France a strong desire for friendship with England, “which considering the terms we stand on both with Spain and Scotland, I for my part find it very necessary we should make use of.” In these words we have the key to all his foreign policy, including his efforts, if not to promote the marriage, at all events to keep the prospect of it open for so long as was necessary, as an effective card in his hand. Things now began to look as if a French alliance might be achieved without a French marriage.
On July 5 Cobham had audience of the king, who, to him at all events, professed an unabated desire that the marriage should take place. The ambassador recited the old formula as to the Queen's fear, perhaps revived by a recent request from Marchaumont for more money, lest “she should be overburdened with the great charge of defraying the expenses for his brother's wars”; the king found a similar difficulty on his side, and appealed to Cobham for a suggestion as to the solution of it. Cobham referred him to “Monsieur and his best friends,” and the king, again affirming his desire to see the marriage accomplished, promised further consideration.
His consideration seems to have resulted in fresh assurances, given through Mauvissière, of his willingness “to discharge her Majesty of all charges of war, if she will marry Monsieur.” To this a speedy answer is requested; and a memorandum by Burghley, dated July 28, shows what answer was to be advised. It is again ingeniously procrastinating. The new offer is practically no advance on the terms agreed to by the Commissioners in the previous year, and embodied in the treaty. It must be remembered that the marriage, if once accomplished, will be irrevocable, while without some reasonable certainty that the existing conditions will be maintained, there can be no security for the performance of the promises on the king's side. It may cease to be to his own and his brother's interest; he may be unable to continue to perform them Before definitely committing herself, it will be “convenient” for the Queen to hear from Monsieur how he intends to proceed.
A short note in Anjou's hand, addressed to Walsingham on August 22, expresses his continued devotion to the Queen's service, and his gratitude for the Secretary's good offices. On September 8 we find a definite and official declaration, signed and countersigned, in which the king undertakes—always in the event of the marriage taking place—not only to hold the Queen free from any expenses in connexion with the wars in Flanders, but to assist her with his forces in the event of any invasion arising from that cause; the latter clause to be reciprocal. This was probably accompanied by the dispatch which Cobham (No. 398) (fn. 13) says that Mauvissière “would not show her Majesty, because there were some words with which she would not have been pleased.” Did the king allow his ambassador to hear a little of his real opinion of the whole business, which, as a note to the Preface of the last volume shows, he for one saw through clearly enough? The dispatch does not seem to have been delivered for some time yet, if, as can hardly be doubted, it is that to which Walsingham refers in one from himself to Cobham dated November 27; or the delay in the reply may have been due to the usual desire to spin out time while inventing excuses for fresh procrastination. This time it takes the form of asking: Where then is the money to come from? Monsieur had none; the States had to rely on foreign assistance. If he was not to throw up the enterprise, the Queen would be forced to assist him after all. She could not see that the king's last declaration was any perceptible advance on what had long been agreed to. There is a further grievance; the king has allowed it to be given out there (that is, in the French Court) that he was ready “to satisfy her wholly upon the difficulties arising upon this matter of marriage,” so that if it were broken off, “all the dishonour seems now to light altogether upon herself; whereas”—and so on, the old story that the sole obstacle was “the bearing the charges of Monsieur's wars.” Lastly, the unlucky ambassador receives a reprimand for having allowed it to be supposed in Paris that he did not “incline to further the cause of the marriage”; and is directed to obtain a written statement of the way in which his “speeches” in the matter have been understood by the king. He is to write nothing in reply, if he can help it; if he does, it must be as his own private opinion.
In an audience on December 9 Cobham faithfully delivered his message. With some ingenuity he endeavoured to suggest that while the king had allowed it to be announced that he had promised compliance with the Queen's demands “for the purpose of advancing the marriage,” that is in plain words had at last assented to the principle of “alliance first, marriage afterwards,” he had now, presumably in his Declaration above-mentioned, reverted to his original terms, that of “first let the marriage take place, and then I will enter into an alliance”—and that, it may be noted, was to be a defensive alliance only. There was the further question, where the money was to come from. The king tried to stave off these questions with the usual profession of desire for the marriage and the need of consideration. The ambassador begged him to think of the awkward position in which the Queen was placed by these delays, and hinted that he had been too often dismissed without any “resolution.” The king pleaded hindrances, and also that he had given answers “though not as the Queen would.” He had no more wish than she herself to burden his subjects with the costs of war. But he would answer shortly. The Queen Mother, to whom as usual Cobham next applied, “began to make show of a cheerful countenance.” She too longed for the marriage above all things. To her he made the same complaint of one thing allowed to be given out and another actually promised; and put the same question as to Monsieur's resources. Catherine confined herself to an expression of satisfaction that “the marriage was come to this ripeness,” and also promised consideration.
Two days later Pinart called on Cobham. He first asked if the king and his mother had rightly remembered the purport of the ambassador's words; especially as to an alleged offer by the Queen of reciprocal aid against Spain. To this Cobham replied that nothing had ever been said about that; and speaking more plainly than before, pointed out that, marriage or no marriage, an alliance of France and England against Spain was as clearly the right policy now as it had been in the days of Henry VIII; hinting pretty plainly that France had most to gain by it. Pinart “seemed to be something moved”; but fell back on the lack of welcome given to the marriage project in England, and the difficulty of getting a straight answer from the Queen. To Cobham's request for a written statement of the impression produced by his negotiations, which might clear himself from the charge of lukewarmness in the matter, he made objections; but gave his personal testimony to the king's belief in the ambassador's “zeal and inclination to the marriage.” On this occasion, and in a subsequent conversation five days later, Pinart seems to have suggested a way out of the deadlock. Was there not, he asked, some younger relative of the Queen's, some daughter of one of the noblemen of her kindred, who might take her place as a possible bride for Monsieur? If, as they supposed, her main object was to avoid the succession of the Scottish king, this plan would do as well. The king, he added, finding how the matter had been procrastinated, was losing his personal interest in it. This suggestion, again, the ambassador obviously feels some nervousness in reporting. However, it is fairly clear that by this time both sides were becoming aware that the farce was nearly played out. In a fragment of one of Burghley's elaborate memoranda (No. 545) which seems to belong to this time, the situation in the event of the Queen's not marrying is considered. The consequences that might follow if the marriage should not take place—the likelihood that Monsieur, and with him the king, will be driven to alliance with Spain, the effect on relations with Scotland, the encouragement of rebels abroad and disaffected subjects at home—are plainly set forth. The document looks like a final effort on the Lord Treasurer's part to persuade the Queen to the marriage, which he had always favoured. It concludes, however, with a short indication of the only possible excuse for drawing back; the Queen's unwilling conviction that the step would be unpopular in England. No formal withdrawal from this engagement was ever announced, but after this year little more is heard of it.
Another road to the alliance seems to have suggested itself about this time. In a dispatch, dated December 13, Walsingham refers to a request from the Queen Mother, sent by la Mothe, for the loan, hire, or purchase of twelve ships, “to be employed in her quarrel for the title she pretends to the Crown of Portugal.” The Queen is willing to grant this on condition that if “the King of Spain picks any quarrel unto her” on this account, the French king shall assist her against him. There is a cautious proviso that the ships, which were to be manned with English officers and crew, are not to be “employed upon any place of the King of Spain's dominions of which he is possessed as King of Castile”; that is, are to be strictly confined to operations in the newly-acquired Portuguese territories. But of this plan nothing seems to have come.
A great scheme was being prosecuted in the spring and early summer of 1582 for a joint invasion of England and Scotland simultaneously. The Duke of Lennox was its promoter, and the Pope, the King of Spain, and the Guises were to share in the execution of it. The Jesuits Parsons, Creighton, and Holt acted as reporters and messengers. Of this very little save an occasional allusion will be found in the papers. Parsons's name does not occur in the volume; and the only trace of the others is an anonymous letter (No. 286) apparently to Holt, intercepted and deciphered. Either Cobham was badly informed, or his dispatches have been lost. (fn. 14) He must have had some information of the conclave which, in the first half of May, met at the house of the nuncio Castelli, and was attended by the Duke of Guise, the Archbishop of Glasgow, Dr Allen, Fathers Parsons and Creighton (fn. 15); where a plan of invasion was very fully discussed. Guise thought the enterprise had a good chance of success, and proposed to take command of the forces. Parsons produced, and the nuncio forwarded to Rome, a long report on the condition of affairs in England, Creighton drew up the like for Scotland, and took it to Rome himself. Both fathers were very sanguine. Nothing in these papers indicates that Cobham had any information of all this, or was ever aware of the presence of Parsons and Allen at this time in Paris. Not many days after the meeting above mentioned, he reports a visit from William Tresham, who complained of harsh treatment on the part of the Earl of Leicester; implying that this had been the main cause of his leaving England and coming to Paris. He made professions of duty to the Queen and promised to remain in Paris till he heard from her and the Council. Cobham gave him some good advice and discussed the subject of Papal Supremacy; but otherwise confined himself to generalities. Was he aware that Tresham was in the thick of the plot, and was on the point of starting with Parsons for Spain to lay before the king the conclusions of the recent conference?
Occasionally we find an indication of a wide-spread feeling of uneasiness, as though after the affairs of Jaureguy and Salcedo men scented assassination in the air. In an appeal for money, addressed, probably in June, by Marchaumont to Walsingham, the writer suggests that if the struggle in Flanders is allowed to drop, “the Queen will in a very short time see the eggs of strange practices against her hatched out”; a phrase which looks as if he knew something of what was being meditated in France, Spain, and Rome; where plots for the Queen's assassination were subsidiary to the wider scheme of an invasion. Herle has a word to say on this subject in a letter of August 12 from Antwerp. Writing a few days earlier to Burghley (Hatfield Cal. No. 1146), he speaks of a plot to kill her on a “progress” in a connexion which looks as if he thought that this and Salcedo's affair were parts of one great scheme. If this were so, it might account for the great anxiety shown by the Guise faction to exculpate themselves from the charge of being privy to the latter. The time for showing their hand had not yet arrived, and discoveries of details relating to the lesser intrigue might lead to premature disclosure of the greater. Quite at the end of the year Cobham received from one Alard, a former official of the Court of Savoy, who professed “to be able to discover the intentions intended against her Majesty,” a number of “pieces” concerning these matters; which were duly sent over. (fn. 16)
Of the Scottish side of all these matters we get a glimpse here and there, but hardly more. Guise's present of horses to the King of Scots is recorded, curiously enough, in a letter from Stokes at Bruges. It was evidently regarded as of serious import. Rumours of preparations on the coast for an expedition to Scotland are pretty frequent during the period in which Don Antonio's fleet was being got together. English observers were uneasy at the assembling of so large a flotilla in a remote part of France. From a letter of Lemaçon, one of Walsingham's occasional correspondents (No. 51), it would appear that some suspicion existed of an understanding between the Portuguese claimant and the Scottish queen. “Under the name of the King of Portugal is understood by those of the Religion the king of the League,” writes John Dowes, who was observing events in Normandy for Walsingham. Even the levy of troops for Flanders, which was proceeding in Normandy during June, gave rise to a belief among the Huguenots that they were in Guise's pay, and intended to form part of the force for Scotland. The veteran sleuth hound, Captain Masino del Bene, through his kinsman the Abbée of the same name, who was to some extent in the confidence of the Guises, contrived to hear of some fragments of their operations, which he passed on, with caution, to Cobham. The Abbé had a benefice at Eu, where the Guises were powerful; and the Duke proposed to borrow what Cobham calls his “abbey,” presumably his residence there, as a convenient place for lodging an emissary of the English or the Scotch Papists. The Duke's messenger who brought this proposal is called by Cobham “Guillielmus” and said by him to have been “the schoolmaster who lent his chamber to him that shot at the Admiral in Paris,” that is to Maurevel. (fn. 17) A little later Cobham hears “that one Sandy Bogge, brother to the Scottish king's chief porter,” is about to start from “Newhaven” with letters from Guise, Archbishop Beaton, and d'Entragues, brother-in-law to Lennox. Ships carrying powder and artillery were reported to have sailed from Dieppe and Tréport, under Guise's own eye. Of this last step the English Government was speedily informed; and in a dispatch dated June 7 Walsingham directs Cobham to complain of it to the king. Some of the powder was even said to have come out of the royal stores. The shipment of “munition” to Scotland was a form of trade that must be looked on with suspicion. No mystery seems to have been made over the matter; Herle at Antwerp knew all about it. On June 13 Cobham seems to have awakened to the suspicion that Guise's operations, which, as has been seen, were not secret, pointed to the fact that some practice was being “trained” in Scotland. On July 5, being with the king, he brought up the matter of the powder, and received answer that, as was possibly true, the king knew nothing about it. Henry was pretty certainly not in the Guises” counsels.
Towards the end of July the Scottish affair advanced a further step. Cobham, on August 1, had heard from Lord Hamilton how Guise and the rest “who manage the Scottish practices,” had sent to the Scottish king advice to imprison, and if possible put to death, “with expedition,” the Earl of Lindsay and other Lords “who are chief favourers of the Religion,” and “inclined to the Queen.” The pretext was to be that which had been found to answer in the case of Morton, complicity in the murder of “David the Italian.” Lindsay, it was noted, had “used very stout speeches with the Duke of Lennox in the king's presence.” Some of the lords in question took the matter into their own hands. Before the Jesuits” scheme of abducting the king (referred to by Father Holt's anonymous correspondent, the writer of No. 288, as viewed with disapproval in Spain) could take effect, the lords who were opposed to Lennox had secured the king's person by the coup known as the “Raid of Ruthven.” This event, which occurred on August 22, is referred to by Walsingham in a dispatch to Cobham, dated August 31. Unfortunately “the enclosed,” in which the particulars were given, is not among the papers. The Secretary, writing in his usual measured style, is evidently very sanguine as to the result “The duke (Lennox) is not like to find any great party in this nation; for both he and Arran are so generally hated in Scotland that few will venture to take their part.” The news took longer to reach Paris, or was kept secret there. Cobham's letters of September 4 do not refer to it. On the 11th we find him writing of “much speech delivered forth in the Court that d'Aubigny and James Stewart (Arran) have been apprehended by the rest of the nobility.” Walsingham's anticipations were correct. Lennox shut himself up in Dumbarton Castle, and held it and afterwards Rothesay for a time; but he had few friends, and his power was gone; though nearly two months later we hear that the confederates in Paris still cherished hopes of its revival. “The nuncio declared to a party of quality,” writes Cobham on October 17, “that d'Aubigny was in a very strong castle with intention not to depart out of Scotland as long as any hope of relief remained, having besides a good party in the realm.” He did not indeed leave Scotland till the end of the year; but the party did not show fight, and James ceased for a time to dally with his French kinsfolk. Elizabeth sent Sir George Carey and Mr Robert Bowes to maintain him in his good resolutions. The news of the Raid was at once imparted to Mauvissière; who, being no friend to the Guises, seems to have taken it very philosophically. The letter in which he acknowledges the receipt of the news is in his best and most paternal style. “M. de Lennox will still be M. d'Aubigny in France, and cousin to the Prince of Scotland”; who, I hope—(if a paraphrase may be allowed)—will be a good boy, and mind what he is told. The usual compliments to her Majesty follow. (fn. 18)
The success of the Raid of Ruthven excited great wrath among the conspirators in Paris. Fentre, the Bishop of Glasgow's nephew and confidant, is reported by Cobham to have charged the Queen with having been at the bottom of it, and to have expressed his confidence that “those noblemen who have shown themselves enemies to d'Aubigny will have the like payment that Morton had.” At Court the matter was taken more phlegmatically. Somewhere about October 1, Cobham, in an interview with the Queen Mother, spoke of d'Aubigny's unpopularity in Scotland, even hinting that the hunting-party which was the occasion for the detainment of the king, had been planned by James himself as a means of escape from the overbearing favourite, and that he had been to all intents and purposes as much d'Aubigny's prisoner as afterwards the insurgent lords”; and referred to the Queen's prompt dispatch of Carey and Bowes to see that all was right with him. Catherine (her words, as rendered by Cobham, have now a slightly ambiguous ring) “doubted not but her Majesty would do for him,” and owned that d'Aubigny's own actions had not been of a kind to render his long tenure of authority very probable.
The king and his mother, however, though doubtless not ill-satisfied to see the collapse of the Guisian schemes, with the consequent check to Spain and Rome, could not look with unconcern at the relaxation of the ancient bond between France and Scotland, or the conversion of the latter country into a dependency of England. Elizabeth was already beginning to play a forward game. In a dispatch of September 26 Cobham is directed to say that the Scottish queen's correspondence must no longer be allowed to pass through the hands of the French ambassador; who it is hinted “has been dealing in causes not appertaining to his charge.” In future all such correspondence was to pass through Cobham's hands, not Mauvissière's. This message was duly delivered in an audience on October 18. The king with some reason urged that the French ambassador was the proper conduit for letters passing between a queen-dowager of France and the present occupant of the throne, as well as for her business correspondence; nor could he be indifferent to the course of affairs in Scotland. Cobham went to the root of the matter by saying that a good deal besides family and business correspondence had passed, some of which had come “perhaps to the sight of her Majesty.” The king tried to turn the conversation to the recent doings in Scotland. Cobham threw the blame of them on d'Aubigny, and the king did not disagree. The ambassador then brought him back to the point of the transmission of Mary's letters, and was as usual referred to the Queen Mother; to whom he played the favourite card of the Queen's kindness to the “Duke of Brabant.” She however took the same line as her son; insisting that their ambassador was the proper person to deliver their letters. Like him, too, she believed, or affected to believe, that the ambassador was incapable of mixing himself up with underhand practices. “So,” observes Cobham, “it seems that their Majesties remain as yet coy and unwilling to gratify her Majesty.”
What they did was to send an embassy on their own account to Scotland. The Scotch faction were the first to urge this step. Some days before Cobham's audience just mentioned, he writes that they had been much pressing the Queen Mother to send someone to “deal” in favour of d'Aubigny. Their selection was M. de Mayneville (“Manningvil,” as Cobham, Bowes, and other Englishmen called him), (fn. 19) a Norman gentleman of good family, and devoted to the Guises and the League. The king declined to sanction either the object or the messenger, “not consenting to intermeddle so openly in the affairs of Scotland, to the discontentment of her Majesty.” His choice fell on the veteran la Mothe-Fèenelon, always persona grata at the English Court, and by no means an adherent of the League. His commission was already made out when Cobham visited him in the course of the week after his audience; and when he returned the call a day or two later, having in the meantime seen the king, he gave the ambassador some details in regard to it. At his own request he was to pass through England, instead of going, as seems to have been the king's first notion, by sea to Scotland. Part of his business was to be “the restoring of the realm of Scotland to peaceable state”; to achieve which end, as Cobham heard otherhow, he was to take plenty of money. He was also to use his influence with the Scottish nobility to procure the king's release. Masino del Bene, after a conversation with the Queen Mother, was inclined to think, rightly, as it appears later, that the subject of the alliance was also included in his instructions.
The Guise party, however, were not disposed to look on while Henry, their covert foe, and Elizabeth, their declared antagonist, settled between them the affairs of Scotland; and they procured the dispatch of Mayneville as a colleague to la Mothe. He went, it would seem, with similar credentials; how far his instructions were the same does not appear. So far as those he had from the king, in regard to Scotland at any rate, were concerned, there was probably little difference; a remark of Pinart's, in conversation with Cobham, seems to imply as much. But all the evidence goes to show that he was primarily the Guises” envoy; and it is clear that the king dispatched him with reluctance. He was to go by sea; but it was some time before he got off. Pinart thought that the cause of his delay was his fear of falling into the hands of Huguenot cruisers, who would have had sundry accounts to settle with him. The Secretary appears to have spoken somewhat derisively of his hesitation in starting.
La Mothe, on the other hand, lost no time. On November 18, Mauvissière writes to Walsingham that he had been recalled from a visit to Pallavicino, in company with Marchaumont and Bacqueville (doubtless to discuss Anjou's finances) by the news that the envoy had arrived a day before he was expected, and was already at his, the writer's, lodgings.
On December 12, Walsingham sent Cobham some information with regard to what had up till then passed between la Mothe and the Queen. As regarded the permission to go on to Scotland, her attitude was very characteristic. She did not see how to refuse the king's request; yet might not the mere presence of a French envoy in Scotland revive the troubles, “now, thank God, well appeased.” D'Aubigny had been giving out that he expected support from France, a hope which a messenger from the king was looked for to confirm; a “gentleman” (whom we can hardly be wrong in assuming to be Mayneville) was reported to have embarked in Holland, (fn. 20) bringing to Lennox letters from the king, the Duke of Guise, and the Duke of Joyeuse (who is here first mentioned in connexion with these affairs). The “gentleman” had indeed returned to France, on a premature report that d'Aubigny had already left Scotland; but the Queen showed la Mothe privately a letter from the Queen of Scots, forming, as it would seem, part of a correspondence with the Archbishop of Glasgow touching the projected invasion. For these reasons it seemed likely that la Mothe's arrival might kindle suspicion among the anti-Lennox party in Scotland. She asked him to consider this; and even “prayed the king not to interpret the deferring of giving leave .... as a denial of his request.” Then after all, with a gush of confidence in the king's “sound, honourable and friendly meaning towards her,” she concedes the point The marriage-and-alliance problem was also discussed, as has been already mentioned; and something was done, it does not appear what, to settle the question of piracies.
The ambassador started from London about the end of the year, and arrived at Edinburgh on January 7. With him went (though the fact is not disclosed in these papers) the trusty and cautious Mr. William Davison. From what is obviously a fragment of his instructions (fn. 21) (end of No. 510) it appears that a promise had been extracted from la Mothe “to hold no conference with any nobleman or person of quality” in Scotland, touching the affairs of that country, save in Davison's presence; and Davison was charged not to let him forget it.
Among the notices of affairs less directly affecting English interests, the most interesting and most copious are those relating to Geneva, and the incessant efforts of the Duke of Savoy to get that city into his hands. The suppression of Geneva as a bulwark of Protestantism was no doubt part of the same great scheme to which the plans for the invasion of England and Scotland and the assassination of Elizabeth owed their inception; but different personal interests and ambitions were involved in it. Though an independent republic, Geneva was regarded as a part of the territory of Savoy; “the chief place of Savoy,” says the anonymous writer of the very interesting account of the place to be found in the present volume (No. 73). (fn. 22) He adds: “As London is the principal place in England, so is Geneva in Savoy.” A rumour seems to have got about and to have been widely credited (fn. 23) that the duke was at the time actually besieging Geneva. This the writer very wisely discredits; pointing out the impracticability of such an enterprise, in view of the fact that the lake would always offer an easy way of approach for a counter-attack from the side of Berne. He goes on to point out the importance of Geneva in the event of an attack by the united Catholic Powers upon England, from its situation close to the easiest route for troops marching from Italy to the Low Countries. The report of a siege, he further suggests, has been spread as a colourable excuse for sending them so far on the way. The writer ends by suggesting a German alliance.
The Genevese, however, had cause for alarm. The duke was infesting the neighbourhood with armed bands, and was reported to have “intelligences” within the walls. The plot, it was said, had failed only through the confession of some of the traitors. Writing from Strasburg on June 4, Monteith tells Fremyn that the Swiss, assembled in Diet at Baden, had sent a peremptory demand for the withdrawal of these. He, too, believes that the Pope and the King of Spain are concerned. In Antwerp it seems to have been reported that the French king was taking part in the alleged design; and the feeling that all Protestants throughout Europe were linked by a common danger is well illustrated by a remark which Herle (No. 85) quotes as being made on this subject by one of the magistrates of Antwerp. The interest taken in Genevese affairs is also shown by the various quarters from which reference to them is made. John Dowes at Rouen hears that the duke has been beaten off, and that the Bernese have reoccupied the bailiwicks in the Chablais and Gex, which they had restored to Emmanuel Philibert in 1564. A few days later Villiers, writing from Antwerp, reports a levy of landsknechts for the king of Spain in Tirol, of whom it is thought that the duke, while disavowing any design against Geneva, will avail himself against the Swiss; doubtless by the way of a demonstration on the frontier of the Grisons. Meanwhile those who believed, either in hope or fear, that the King of France was going to render help to an attack on Geneva, were equally at fault. Walsingham wrote to Masino del Bene for information, and learnt from him that whereas, at a meeting of the Catholic Cantons held at Lucerne under the auspices of Colonel Ludwig Pfyffer, it had been resolved (not without the persuasion of Spanish gold) to send aid to the duke, at the subsequent Diet of all the Cantons held at Baden, the representations of the king's ambassador Hautefort had brought the Catholic Cantons into agreement with the rest; a statement confirmed by a remark of Cobham's, written a few days later. In addition, the king is said to have written to Pfyffer in terms which left no doubt of his own attitude in the controversy. Masino states his own conviction of the king's sincerity in his professions; and indeed Henry could hardly have wished to see Spanish influence predominant at Geneva “The others,” adds Masino, meaning of course the adherents of the Catholic confederacy, “are fuming with rage at seeing that, contrary to what they thought, we are about to ally ourselves more closely than ever with the Swiss.” An incidental result of the alarm about Geneva was the detention at home of a force of Swiss who were expected to join Anjou's army in the Low Countries.
The duke did not, however, give up the hope of support from the French king. A party at the French Court favoured his scheme; among them being the Duke of Retz, who was reported not only to have assured the duke of the king's countenance, but to have induced the Queen Mother to write him “favourable letters” (No. 209). In July his envoy, M. de Châtillon, (fn. 24) brought a message from him to the French Court, in which he claimed Geneva as part of his domain, and asked for help to reduce it. The king, as usual when pressed with a point-blank demand, “meant to deliberate.” It seems to have been the general opinion that he would wait to see what other princes would do; but del Bene was probably right in thinking that his mind was made up. Nor did the duke relinquish his enterprise. French gentlemen were employed to go into Geneva, to see the position of things; and in a letter from Lyons of July 18 we learn that “the Duke of Savoy's forces increase daily.” About the beginning of July he made plans for an escalade, but the plot was discovered, and the fact of its discovery was made known to the duke; who thereupon countermanded the attempt. The Cantons on July 10 sent an ultimatum, and demanded back the four bailiwicks on the ground that the duke's action had infringed the treaty under which they had been restored to his father. By the beginning of August the negotiations were completed by Hautefort and Mandelot. The Swiss received a subsidy of 140,000 crowns; the Five Cantons withdrew from the duke's alliance. “It is held,” writes Sassetti on August 6, “that the duke is sorry for the advice taken from the Catholic King, from the Pope, and from his ministers.” Henry recalled all the French who were serving in his army; while Châtillon-Coligny led a strong Huguenot force in the direction of Geneva, and Merle, with 200 men, entered the city. Yielding to these persuasions, the duke, as Cobham reports under the date of September 11, withdrew his forces. By the 15th a writer from Paris is able to announce that the so-called “siege” is raised. Geneva had rest for some years, and the duke made advances for the hand of the Princess of Navarre, in which, however, he met with as little success as in “the enterprise of Geneva.”
Hautefort and Mandelot returned, leaving Fleury to represent the king in a preliminary discussion at Fribourg; while the points at issue were left to be “treated on” in the next Baden Diet. Towards the end of the year the Swiss Cantons sent a strong embassy to Paris. The names of its members are given in No. 519, and it will be seen that not only Catholics and Protestants alike were represented—the redoubtable Ludwig Pfyffer, called by his admirers “the Swiss king,” heads the list—but also the allied republics of Graubünden and Valais. They arrived in Paris on November 28, and on Sunday, December 2, attended Mass at Notre Dame; where the league between Switzerland and France was confirmed by oaths on either side. The relics of St. Geneviève were carried in procession, fireworks were let off, and salvos of artillery were fired in the Place de Grêve. All the nobility, including the Duke of Guise, vied in entertaining the new allies, whose friendship, says Cobham, was held of great value to France. It was certainly a triumph for French policy over Spanish. The question of demanding an indemnity from the Duke of Savoy for the trouble and expense that he had caused came under discussion. Here the Guises took the part of the duke; and the king used his persuasions—it would seem not very effectively—to bring about an agreement. On the 12th the ambassadors left Paris.
Of the controversy with the Hanse Towns little appears in the present volume. The matter came before the Imperial Diet at Augsburg, whither, in June, George Gilpin went, to set forth the case of the Merchants Adventurers. His letters, forwarded through his deputy Longston, are unfortunately missing; while other correspondents content themselves with referring to his reports. In the opinion of the English, he was not treated with the consideration due to his position. He returned to Antwerp in October, bearing the Emperor's letters to the Queen; from what Longston says (No. 427) the tenour of these was not wholly satisfactory. It was thought that after the “Princes,” having got through the most important function of the Diet, the granting of supplies to the Emperor, had gone home—the Elector of Saxony went on August 5—the conduct of business had got into the hands of persons of an inferior rank, the deputies; who (doubtless being largely themselves of the trading class) lent a ready ear to the complaints of English “monopoly” put forward by the Hanse Towns. There would seem reason to suppose, too, that even here the influence of Rome and Spain made itself felt in hostility to England. Much interest seems to have been taken generally in the proceedings of this Diet. Cobham's letters contain frequent notices of it. Important issues were pending in sundry parts of Europe. Besides the perennial question of the Turk, there were affairs of the Low Countries, for the consideration of which a committee of four Princes and four bishops was appointed, there was the matter of the Elector of Cologne and his marriage; also that of Lutheran canons in cathedral chapters. Du Plessis-Mornay went, to watch the proceedings on behalf of Henry of Navarre and the French Protestants. Gilpin, in addition to his main subject of negotiation, had to plead the cause of Daniel Rogers, who was still in captivity. The Emperor ordered his release; but the Imperial Vice-Chancellor professed inability to identify the proper overlord through whom the order ought, in due feudal course, to pass to the Baron of Anholt, by whom Rogers was detained. When this was ascertained, it would appear that a fresh difficulty arose; for in September we find the Duke of Cleves writing apologetically to the Queen that the Imperial order has reached him, and been passed on to his Council, but that that body had found it necessary to deliberate, it would appear at some length, before taking action. At any rate, Rogers was still in confinement at the end of the year: though his position was improved by the capture of Martin Schenk by the Swiss Baron of Hohensax, (fn. 25) and the death of the Baron of Anholt in action before Lochem.
Perhaps no event of the year has exercised such a lasting influence as the “Change of Style,” or reform of the Julian Calendar. Dante, writing more than 250 years before, had called attention to the gradual displacement of the seasons resulting from the neglected fraction; it was reserved “for Gregory XIII to grapple with the problem of bringing them once more into accord with the Calendar. Roman Catholic nations accepted the reform at once; and in the Low Countries the Duke of Anjou secured its adoption; though not without a good deal of grumbling, even on the part of the Papists, an amusing account of which, written from Brussels, will be found in No. 534. England, to the discomfort of historical researchers, stood out for nearly two centuries. The Greek Church, as all know, is still uncompromising. At first some English correspondents abroad seem to have done as those about them did, and dated their letters “stilo novo”; but this un-English practice was quickly stopped by peremptory orders from home. The first letter in this collection in which the new style is used is No. 513, written by Pietro Bizarri from Antwerp on the day of the change as made there; namely December 15, which day was, evidently to the old scholar's regret, being kept as Christmas Day. Elsewhere, as at Bruges, the jump seems to have been made from December 22 to January 2, whereby, as Stokes remarks, “they have lost Christmas Day here for this year.” Masino del Bene, writing from Paris on December 16–26, makes no remark on the loss of the ten days out of his life—an objection which does not seem to have occurred to those who were contemporaries of the change. Mendoza, as might be expected of so stout a Catholic champion, loses no time in dating a letter to Walsingham (No. 521) in accordance with the Papal decree.
The Queen of Navarre, who, as recorded in the last volume, had been brought by her mother towards Paris, after the interview between Catherine and her son-in-law at Saint-Maixent, was received by the king on April 28 at Fontainebleau with every show of goodwill. In spite of this, Cobham's prediction that she would not remain at the Court without some “overthwart” was not long in fulfilment. One of her ladies, Mme de Duras, had already been insulted by having a bottle of ink thrown at her, at Saint-Maixent; it was said, by the “procurement” of Clermont d” Amboise, a relation of the late Bussy, and it would seem, though a Huguenot, of a similar turbulent disposition. This caused disorder from the first; Épernon, one of the queen's admirers, seeking to avenge the affront. Then Margaret had brought with her Mllo. de Fosseux-Montmorency, who had recently borne a child to her husband. The king, with a regard for decorum possibly genuine, though somewhat unexpected in that Court, objected to the presence among his wife's ladies of a person with a reputation so tainted, and “Fosseux” as she was so familiarly called, was dismissed. Hereupon the King of Navarre wrote an angry letter, to which the king and his mother replied, Cobham says, “with very amiable letters”; though Catherine's, at least, was couched in terms of pretty strong reproof,—couched in a highly moral strain. (fn. 26) In August Margaret settled in Cardinal Birague's house; continuing to be to all appearance on excellent terms with her brother, who wrote to her from Lyons, making her the channel for information which he wished to have spread at the Court. She also stood godmother to a son of the Duke of Guise. She remained at the Court all the year; but the notices of her doings are few. Early in November Cobham writes that she had “grown into unkindness” with Monsieur, and was out of health. Later in the same month she was “labouring” a visit from her husband to the Court; with what motive is not very clear. She remained till the following August, when the rupture between her and the king became complete, and she was sent back, not without a gross affront to her husband. (fn. 27)
Among miscellaneous matters of interest may be noted a reference by Walsingham in his dispatch of December 14 to a report that a Council was to be established in France for enforcing the Decrees of the Council of Trent, and introducing the Inquisition. As a matter of fact, the idea, if—which hardly seems probable—the king ever entertained it, did not bear fruit; and the rumour, if not the invention of some zealous Papists, may have been only a belated echo of the conference on the subject which had taken place in the previous May. Or again, it may have been a straw to show the drift of the wind. If so, Walsingham's words, which doubtless reached the king, must have shewn him how any suggestions of the kind would be received in England, as contrary to the king's ostensible policy both at home and in the Low Countries, and his professions of unity with England in particular.
One or two touches of manners and character may be noted. When Cobham observes, at the time when Marshal Biron was first spoken of as likely to be employed in Monsieur's service, that “he is not thought to be the fittest person, because he is a man of so great expenses and overviolent in his actions,” the famous soldier becomes alive to us. A pleasing little glimpse into the domestic life of the great is afforded when Walsingham mentions how an opportunity for a letter has been offered by the bearer “being sent by my Lord Chamberlain to conduct his dwarf over.” For what purpose my Lord Chamberlain's dwarf was visiting France is not stated. May we imagine some kind of competition?
A letter from Cobham at the end of the year (No. 552) presents several points of interest. It relates to purchases on Walsingham's behalf, of some costly presents, such the courtiers of the time were used to make, more especially to the Queen, to whom we can hardly doubt, the “fair bracelets,” and the glass “of crystal, very fairly set in gold, with many small diamonds, rubies and little agates,” and the agate back, engraved with the palace of peace, would find their way.
In a letter (No. 333) written apparently by a German in Paris to another in London, we have a passing mention of a famous man, Henry “Stephens,” the great printer and scholar; who seems to have been at that time on his way to Augsburg.
The only person of any note who passes out of the story in this volume is Mr. Henry Knollys, the son of the Treasurer of the Household. To French and Spaniards he was well known as a daring pirate. Latterly he had regularised the business by some show of serving Don Antonio, but had got into trouble with the French ambassador over the capture of a Breton ship—his own account of the affair will be found in No. 280—and had found it expedient to retire to the Netherlands. Here he seems to have attached himself to Norris, with whom he was present at the siege of Lochem, and to have endeavoured to allay the friction which seems to have been chronic between that masterful officer and his subordinates. Another letter from him (No. 394) gives a very clear and picturesque account of the state of things in the Low Countries, and makes us regret that more of his have not been preserved. Towards the end of November we learn from a letter of Thomas Doyley that he was suffering from “melancholy,” for which the writer, who may perhaps have been the medical officer on Norris's staff, was treating him. A fortnight later, the same writer thinks his illness not dangerous to life, but likely to be tedious. However, writing on December 21, Gilpin reports his death, in terms which show that he had a warm friend and admirer in the grave merchant-diplomatist; and that he must himself have been in private life a serious and religious man—a character doubtless at that time compatible with a good deal of what we should now call lawless adventure.
In regard to language, we note that “Dutch” is beginning to indicate more especially the inhabitants of the northern Netherlands; having hitherto been applied equally to High and Low. A man “does not agree with the air”; not, as now, the air with him. To “defend our goal” (No. 236) has quite a modern ring: No instance of the metaphor in this form is given for so early a date in the N.E.D. “Anoid” in the sense of “cause to lesor their ground” occurs in a letter of Heole's. In a translation of the subjects of discussion at the Augsburg Diet, we find “reduced” meaning “restored,” and “Chamber-Justice” as a rendering of “Kammesgericht.” In one of Henry Knollys's letters to Walsingham he writes: “The enemy, by the occasion of report of great supplies, is grown greatly “indread””; where the context shows that the phrase must mean “an object of fear.” Thomas Doyley complains of all places of credit in the camp being allotted to “champignons” in respect of his (Norris's) experience. Another unusual form used by Knollys is “twitch” for “touch.” It is not quite clear what the same writer means when, speaking of Norris's enforced supper-party, he says: “He might very ill [probably a slip for “well”] have been spared such a “flease.”” If “fleece” is meant, this sense does not appear in the N.E.D. Yet this seems more probable than “fleech” = “flattery.” The form “Whitsunday week,” which occurs in No. 114, is another bit of evidence, if one were needed, against the fanciful association, once popular, of “Whitsun” with “Pfingoten.” No. 353, the account of Strozzi's battle, offers some interesting specimens of French nautical terms. Whether I have in all cases got the correct English equivalents, I am not quite certain.
The Index has, as in the last two volumes, been prepared by my daughter, Miss G. E. Butler. That there are rather too many errata in it, must be set down to the editor's absence from England during a critical period of its preparation.
A. J. B.