Elizabeth: December 1585, 21-25

Pages 231-238

Calendar of State Papers Foreign: Elizabeth, Volume 20, September 1585-May 1586. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1921.

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December 1585, 21–25

[Dec. 22.] Notes of points to be answered to the Earl of Leicester.
“To have a supply of 600 or 1,000 Irishmen, for that they have able bodies to endure travel.
“Or otherwise six or seven hundred at the least from hence to supply the decayed bands, for that otherwise there will happen great want and dishonour in the service.
“The despatch of his leases before Christmas Day.
“To know whether he shall have Sir William Pelham or no.”
½p. [Holland V. 134.]
Dec. 22. Walsingham to Leicester.
“Her Majesty as I hear by my friends in Court hath received very great contentment and satisfaction with the comfortable message you have sent her by Mr. Thomas Gorge, that if it pleased her to go roundly to work in that action she should be assured at the year's end of the advantage of a peace accompanied both with honour and safety, besides some special benefit to herself, and indeed so good hope was given her in very good time, for we began already to grow so weary of the charges of the war and to fear so much the long continuance thereof as it was half doubted least some over hasty course would have been taken for some dangerous and dishonourable peace.” The note sent by your lordship of the wants at Ostend was not best welcome to her Majesty, who thinks the meaning is to procure the supply of the same out of her own purse, over and above the supply agreed on. She thinks that the like wants, both at Ostend and elsewhere may be supplied by granting licence to the States to provide those things in this realm at their own charges.
Seeing she is so coldly affected to the cause, there must be no cause of suspicion given her that she is like to be drawn into further charges, least there follow greater inconvenience than the advantage thereof can do good.
Touching the two captains of Ostend and Sluys, being absent from the Court, I have recommended, to my lord Treasurer and Mr. Vice-Chamberlain your lordship's request that they may be admitted her Majesty's sworn servants, and doubt not but that care will be had to satisfy your desire. The chains I think you yourself may bestow upon them in her Majesty's name, out of the two thousand pounds reserved by way of defalcation out of the soldiers' wages for the armour furnished by the country where they were levied, the residue whereof it were not amiss you issued for the necessary uses of that service. The matter of the soldiers' pay I have also recommended to my lord Treasurer and Mr. Vice-Chamberlain, and appointed Mr. Wolley and Mr. Beale to put them in mind of it, but I suppose the answer will be deferred till they hear from the Treasurer, who has not written since his departure touching the state of his accounts.
I am glad to hear that you find “as great likelihood of the concurrency of their ability and contributions there for the maintenance of the wars as their words and promises . . . did import”; yet I think you have done well not to accept of the charge of their treasure till you have acquainted yourself thoroughly with the state of affairs; but if you find it answer your expectation, then it will be very necessary, both for her Majesty's service and the good of the country, that you take the charge upon you.
I have likewise recommended to the lords your request for the supply of Irishmen, which are more convenient to be had out of Ireland than from hence, “both in respect of the hardness of that country people to abide travel . . . as also for that our country here beginneth already to shrink somewhat at the charge of this little that hath now been done; and if some well chosen person had the conduction of them . . . I think it would do the better.” I have thought of Mr. Dawtry, whose sufficiency and credit with that people make him very fit for the purpose.
I have left your leases with Mr. Nicasius [Yetswiert] during my absence, with express charge to despatch them before the day if it may be.
Draft, corrected by Walsingham. Add. Endd. with date. 3½ pp. [Holland V. 135.]
Dec. 22. Stephen le Sieur to Walsingham.
The bearer, one Adams, a ship's master, having transported my master's horses to Flushing and returning to England was taken at sea by the men of war of this town. Now by the aid of one Hills having obtained his liberty, I send these lines by him to certify you of my continuance in this most miserable prison, “where Englishmen are hated above all other nations.”
As yet no answer is come from the Prince of Parma about me, and for anything I can perceive, his Highness means to keep me somewhat longer, “persuading themselves that in me there is that which is truth is not.” If so, I hope God will give me patience to endure these griefs.
On the other side, the governor and Mr. Bodenham greatly desire Cibiur's liberty and think to obtain it by my means. They marvel greatly that Mr. Tomson delays so long. I hope you do not think I will seek my liberty by the release of such a one, who has practised both against her Majesty and her State. I should never have mentioned him, but to tell you of my seeing Mr. Tomson's letter, and for my part would rather await God's pleasure than procure my liberty by such means.
The four gentlemen taken here before us, remain here still. Yesterday were brought in (taken at sea) fourteen or fifteen Englishmen. All were let go save two, on condition that these two must procure the release of thirteen Spanish sailors, prisoners in England, within six weeks, or they shall be hanged. They were all soldiers, voluntary and others. These two say they were never under any ancient, and had waited to come in Captain Uvedale's company, but seeing he did not come they determined to pass the winter in England. They are both Sussex men, yeomen's sons, and called Richard Doyllman and George Morley. These people wish to get as many Spanish sailors as they can, for they have need of them. They have not sent their men of war abroad, but still have brought in prizes. Yesterday two of them were driven aground hard by this haven by five Flushingers. “He was saved that could swim.” The Flushingers got one afloat again, and set the other on fire. This does not a little trouble these men's minds, for they were two of their best sailing boats.
If the Council would release some Spanish sailors, I think all the Englishmen here would be let go; viz. the three gentlemen, Whithead, two brothers Tracey, the two Sussex men and three sailors or fishermen of Yarmouth, bound for Flushing with herring, who know not yet whether their goods be confiscated. As for me, I will patiently “expect” what it shall please God, your honour and my noble master to do.—Dunkirk, 22 December, 1585, stylo antiquo.
Postscript.—When this Adams was taken, many letters from the English camp were taken with him, which, seen by those here, “hath been a subject unto them to laugh at the vanity of our men. Since my being here, at four times have passed here many English soldiers coming away from Ostend, for that, as they said, the misery there was such as they could not endure it. They passed hence for Calais and so for England.” These two Sussex men complain greatly likewise of our English captains and of the miseries the English have suffered in Guelderland, especially about Nimegen. The Spaniards on these reports “are not little encouraged and do not little despise her Majesty's forces.”
This Adams has paid 200 guilders ransom. He hopes by your honour's favour to be recompensed.
Add. Endd.pp. [Flanders I. 49.]
Dec. 22. News from Portugal.
This night, on the Exchange, there came news in the Samuel of Lyme, that sixty ships have left Lisbon to seek Sir Francis Drake, the King having intelligence that he is arrived at the Indies. Don Peter Valdes went for General. Two sail more are going in January to the Straits of Magellan and Peru and all that coast. “Their general is John Martyns de Recall [Recaldo] of Bilbo.”
A hundred sail remain in Lisbon with their general, the Marques of Sta. Cruz. It is not known whither they go. There is great scarcity of victuals in all Spain, by reason of furnishing these ships. The people “greatly cry out of the King.”
The King sent a Spanish governor to the Isles of Madeira, and wanting victuals for the country the Portugals openly cried out against him, “for that they were like to eat one another, for they were driven to eat rats. So the governor answered . . . that he would make them to eat the very stones of the streets, whereupon the Portugals in a rage presently killed the governor, and afterwards cut him in pieces and roasted him. His wife and children they sent back to St. Lucas.”
These are they that aid the King:—The Duke of Savoy, the Duke of Florence and Pisa, the Seignory of Venice; the Pope and all the States of Italy.
Six thousand men are said to be coming from Spain into Ireland, “there to begin first.”
A certain sconce has been given over by the English, for want of victuals.
I send your honour what was sent me, “hoping all is not true.”
1 p. [Newsletters XC. 18.]
Dec. 23./Jan. 2. Fremin to Davison.
I came to Dort expressly to see you, but you had gone to the Hague, so I must put it off for some days, until the ceremonies and receptions for his Excellency the Earl of Leicester are over. As he is preparing to sustain this heavy burden, may God give him grace to surmount all difficulties, which are great, and bless his actions to the advancement of his glory and the safety of this poor and desolate people.
His Excellency will not lack applicants for new places and charges, both in the State and for the war, every one wishing to advance his kindred, which overthrows all good order and discipline, and which men of worth and honour hope to see reformed by the Council of State, now to be set up again by the election of the provinces, when a good eye must be kept on the merit of the persons.
As touching the finances, it may be there will be a chamber of a few persons or Daides. It should be at the disposition of his Excellency and no other, and all the moneys should come into one purse, without any need that the provinces should have knowledge of the distribution thereof, but by command of his Excellency and of those who have the charge, by his appointment.
It is very necessary that his Excellency should be well instructed of the whole estate of the country; of the manners and customs of the inhabitants; of past disorders and present amendment. There is M. de Heseltz, now dwelling at Delft, next to the house of the Sieur de Famas, who is one of the most worthy and capable men that I know in this State, and of whom you could learn as much as from any person whatever. I feel assured that if you sent to inquire for him, he would come to you at once, if you desire to make his acquaintance and to sound him. I spoke to him lately of your virtues and merit and found him very zealous to see a happy restoration of the affairs of this country. In these days one must make good trial before choosing any one. There is also the Greffier Martini, who was speaking with me yesterday and greatly desires your favour. I answered that all honest and honourable men were welcome to you.
Now, as I have not time or occasion to speak to his Excellency the Earl of Leicester, I beg you to recommend me to him; and that the regiment of the old France soldiers may be reformed into four companies; of which there are already two, of about six hundred brave soldiers, whom his Excellency will bind to him, to do him noble service; while in their present state they are known to no one. I feel sure that your lordship will remember them.—Dort, 2 January, 1585, new style. (fn. 1)
Add. Fr.pp. [Holland V. 136.]
Dec. 23. Lord Wyllughby to Walsingham.
[The first part of the letter is to the same effect, though at more length, as that to the Queen, below.]
There are already levied in Germany and ready to march 5,000 horse for the King of France against Navarre.
The old Duke of Saxe, the King's brother-in-law, is procuring “a tender, bud . . . not passing fourteen years old, the Duke of Anholt's [Anhalt's] daughter, for to refresh his mourning with a fresh May.”
There is like to be wars between the Swede and the Russ and the King of Denmark and the Russ. The Swede's and Russ's commissioners met on the borders “about differences,” and departed re infecta. The Swede sent after them, appointing Jan. 10 for a new conference, and if matters be not then concluded, war will be “denounced.”
The King of Denmark to-day despatches a gentlemen to the Russ “to expostulate why he has no answer of his first declarations for his interest of Lapponia”; and if one be not delivered, hostilities will be proclaimed.
“There was observed of Tycho Brahe (a rare astronomer of a great and noble house) a new comet, sine cauda, that began the 18th of October, lasting till the 15th of November. It was primœ magnitudinis, somewhat dark about the extreme parts but bright in the midst, higher than the moon and not so high as the sun. The 25th of the same month, when the moon came to the place of the same star, there was as great a storm as ever I heard in my life. It is not wonderful he should observe it, for he hath divers servants in an observatory furnished with rare, huge and admirable instruments, which do nightly watch the course of stars, whereof I have been a present witness.”
If you should think that to purpose wherewith God has moved this prince's heart, you should send some convenient person “to hammer the work while the iron is hot.” The more haste the better.—“From Copenhagen, wearied with a [pain]ful journey of frost and snow.”—23 December.
Holograph. Add. Endd.pp. [Denmark I. 73.]
Dec. 24. “The names of the chief lords, captains and gentlemen in office with the King of Navarre.” 96 names. At the end of the list of Frenchmen are the following:—Messrs. Trenchard, Fitz James, Strangways, Powlett, Williams, Trenchard jun., Miller and Wigmore.
Endd. Fr.pp. [France XIV. 115.]
Dec. 24./Jan. 3. Advertisement from Spain.
Concerning the lack of iron bows, owing to the loss of certain ships.
The ships of the fleet are making ready slowly. Those for New Spain will not set out until July and those for the main land until August or September. As that King has ordered that the galleons laden by Juan Miñez d' Errecalde shall go to carry his gold and silver, and accompany the fleet of New Spain, Juan Miñez is about to go to his house, there to await what the King shall wish him to do. Has no other news to offer.—Seville, 3 January, 1586.
Probably an extract. Spanish. ½ p. [Spain II. 52.]
Dec. 25/Jan. 4. Jehan d'Egmont to Walsingham.
Writes only to announce the arrival of the Earl of Leicester, safe and sound, to the incredible joy of all the people, who was received with the solemnity due to his greatness and his office. Hopes that the progress of the work thus begun may be as happy up to the end as the coming of his Excellency has been delightful, not only in regard of this desolate country but of all those who find themselves afflicted and oppressed. Amongst whom he hopes that his brother-in-Law, Guillaume de Bloys, dit Treslong (as the chief amongst them) will not be omitted, although for the present he finds himself still in the same position.—Middelburg, 4 January, 1586.
Signed. Add. Endd. Fr. 1 p. [Holland V. 137.]
Dec. 25. Ortell to Burghley.
Has gathered together in the form of a memorial certain points concerning the affairs of the Low Countries on which both the States General and those of Holland urgently demand an explanation and to know her Majesty's pleasure, to which they will conform as much as possible. Prays for a speedy answer.
First. Supposing that all traffic to those parts of the Low Countries in possession of the enemy be strictly prohibited, whether with other merchandise (saving victuals, munitions and other commodities serving for the furniture of ships) they may not freely traffic to Calais and other ports of France. And how far the prohibition of transport of victuals extends, either to the east side of the Seine or otherwise.
Whether she intends to forbid traffic with Spain wholly or in part, seeing that many ships daily lade to go thither by indirect means, as by Bordeaux, Nantes &c.
And whereas of late certain ships and merchandise belonging to merchants of the Low Countries, having appointed their voyage for Calais have been stayed by captains in the commission of the States, and taken to Dover and other neighbouring places; the said merchants having paid the said States the ordinary duties of their licences, without having hitherto been anyway prohibited to the contrary, not carrying anything forbidden by the placards of the States General: that her Majesty will be pleased to give orders that the said ships be forthwith released, and henceforward their causes decided by their competent judges on that side of the sea; as it is not reasonable that subjects of the Low Countries should be sued or molested elsewhere than at home for what concerns the ordinances of their own country, or that those in the service of the said country should carry their prizes elsewhere.
Count Edzard of Embden has lately armed some ships to chase theirs from the river of Ems, under pretext (as he writes to the captains) of wishing to free the said river; thereby giving full power to his subjects and all others to assist and victual their enemies in Friesland. And although to obviate so great an evil, the States General have written very friendly to the said Count and informed him that her Majesty had very favourably resolved to assist them, requesting him not to attempt anything further against their ships and men, yet he has not stayed his proceedings. And as her Majesty and her Council can very well judge the importance and consequence thereof, the States General pray her to write favourable letters to the said Count, to the end that he may desist from his enterprises and maintain good neighbourhood with the States; which letter being delivered to him [Ortell], as the States desire, he will not fail to send it to them at once by an express messenger.
Finally, as Mr. Davison expects the States to continue to pay the English formerly in their pay, who according to the treaty, come as a supplement to the forces promised by her, and should be at her charge:—That it will please her to give such order therein that the treaty may be rightly carried out.
Margin: Remitted to the consideration of the Earl of Leicester, “to make choice as he shall think meet for the supplement of her Majesty's army, and in the treaty is nothing to the contrary.”
Endd. by Burghley. “25 December, 1585. Articles of Ortell's from the States, to be considered.” Fr. 3 pp. [Holland V. 138]
English translation of the “Points” sent by Ortell, as above. Endd. 2 pp. [Holland V. 139.]
Dec. 25. Lord Wyllughby to the Queen.
After I had taken my leave, and was on my journey, the King sent for me to return with all speed and delivered his pleasure to me in this sort: That his thoughts, day and night, had been how he might show his brotherly affection to your Majesty. And as he could not hold the course proposed to him, he had conceived a means which he presented to you, and if it was acceptable to you, would proceed therein. The great comfort he found by having so excellent a prince his neighbour made him weigh how dangerous it would be to him that the Spaniard should have any means to step so near him; “wherefore, he would . . . to avoid further inconvenience of war, deal with the King of Spain to retire all his forces out of the Low Countries and to leave unto them their ancient liberties of free government and conscience, and to the like effect he would treat with the King of France for the King of Navarre's affairs. If neither would condescend to his request, he would, as their ships passed his straits, annoy them, especially Spain, from whom should be taken the traffic of grain and necessary victuals which they have from Denmark and the Hanse towns adjoining. . . . If this succeeded not as he hoped, he would assay all other means he might.”
The same day, Dec. 22, his ambassador returned from the funerals of the Duchess of Saxe, his sister, wherefore he commanded me also to advertise your Majesty “how the princes of Formula Concordiœ have in a new consultation determined more severely and bitterly against the Calvinists than heretofore, and make profession that if occasion serve, they will rather take part with Catholics; so that, he saith, your Majesty may by his former letters conclude what hope there is to be had of those men, of whom he can neither say nor think ill enough of. But for his own particular, in God and your Majesty's cause, he protesteth he will be found assured, sound and ready to do all his best endeavours.”
Of the general occurrences of these parts I have advertised Mr. Secretary, “loth to withhold your Majesty's excelling and worthy mind from those rare exercises wherein it is most princely employed.”—Copenhagen, 25 December.
Holograph. Add. Endd. 2 ¼ pp. Seal of arms, unbroken. (fn. 2) [Denmark I. 74.]


  • 1. But only as regards the day of the month, not the year date.
  • 2. In most of the letters, the seal is broken up or torn away.