Elizabeth: March 1588, 21-25

Pages 549-565

Calendar of State Papers Foreign: Elizabeth, Volume 21, Part 1, 1586-1588. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1927.

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March 1588, 21-25

March 21. Stafford to Burghley.
I have written to Mr. Secretary at large of all things, and I know it will be shown to your lordship, save only this of which I send you a copy, "because those things that concern that place he often keepeth to himself, being abused with very false advertisements of proceedings in that place. I would they were as well as I wish them . . . but yet it is reason that her Majesty should know the truth of all things, and in time, that she may not be abused, but help to redress their faults." But I pray you take knowledge only of what he shows you.
I beseech your lordship that I may have answer to what I sent you set down about letters of 'mark,' which the ambassador says he is still delayed in. They make this an excuse for their delay in the merchants' causes, and say I have promised them that within a month they shall have answer; 'for they now desire but reason, that if there be anything in it misliked, [that] you would send them word what you do mislike, why you mislike it and how you would have it."—Paris, 21 March, 1587.
Holograph. Add. Endd. by Burghley (in reference to Walsingham's letter enclosed.) Death of the Prince of Condé." 1 p. [Ibid. 41.]
Copy of letter to Sir Francis Walsingham, calendared above under date March 17. Endd. by Burghley. 4 closely written pps. [Ibid. 41a.]
March 21. Stafford to Walsingham.
Even as I was going to the King about-merchants' causes this Thursday morning, Mr. Haklytt arrived. I had then no leisure to read her Majesty's letter, and so I told the King, "who presently meaneth to speak with me apart, and then desireth that I would ask an open audience . . . and that there I may declare as much as the King and I together shall think good to be known or kept. I hope all this will be within few days. There is news come here to-day out of Picardy that the Duke d'Aumale retireth his forces. The Cardinal Bourbon hath sent to him to retire all, and to the Duke of Guise to procure it, or else protesteth to forsake their party and give them over.
"Monsieur Bellievre and la Guische was looked for here tonight, and to have come away without doing anything, but at the end of my audience it was told me that there was one come from them that did bring word they were gone back to Nancy, and that the Duke of Guise, de Mayne and Lorraine should all meet there. If it be true, Queen Mother hath sent them a lesson of hers. You shall know by the next.
"Your man Dous (fn. 1) is here, my horses returned and he sent back with a sleeveless errand to stay for him (fn. 2) at Essone till the next day. There are six next days past, and no news of him . . . . I was not deceived in the man at the first sight, though for so small a matter I would not have him want," I think you may judge by his dealing with you "that if it be not some cozening trick of himself, he was sent over at this time by some device from hence, to put, by some counterfeit advertisements, some bees in her Majesty's head at this time. I have sent you his letter he writ to me when he sent the horses back. His date is out a good while agone."—Paris, 21 March, 1587.
Postscript. Stating that he has had "this extract" [wanting] from his old place, "whose friend is fain to write . . . as one affected unto Spain, because letters of his have been taken and seen."
Holograph. Add. Endd. 1. p. [France XVIII. 42.]
March 21. Stafford to Walsingham.
"The King hath been extremely put in fear by Queen Mother of the approaching of the Prince of Parma's forces in the Low Countries to the frontier of France, and all that was only to divert his humour of going into Picardy, for it was propounded unto him that if he went, the carrying of forces with him, as he must needs if he go, would give a colour to the Prince of Parma to attempt somewhat, or to fortify them of the League the more under the colour that he is afraid of the King coming thither to attempt somewhat against the King of Spain or those countries, and that if he should do so with the great forces that he hath, what a shame it would be to the King to retire himself, and not to have forces competent upon this sudden to withstand any attempt either the Prince of Parma alone or the Prince of Parma joined with the League might attempt, he being there.
"Besides, the Queen Mother offereth herself to go to Duke of Guise and into Picardy, to employ herself to pacify all things; and rather to go again to the King of Navarre herself, though she were little set by when she was there last, and to take all the pains she can to bring all things to better agreement, than to see this realm turned topsy turvy as it is. But all this is done but to abuse this prince, and to turn him from that voyage, which in truth I think would be their ruin, if he went thither himself, for there is no town, if they saw him, but would receive him or any garrison he would put into them, and if that were, they were all undone in Picardy, whereas if he go not, I think there is never a town that will receive garrison, and they are there still held in fear of them.
"The King considering all these things, was fully resolved to go thither, and for that purpose had appointed a Council to be held of his own Council, of the Court of Parliament of this city, and of the clergy, to declare unto them the causes that moved him. But Queen Mother hath impeached all this, with these fears and her offer, so that this is surceased for a time, and M. Bellievre's and la Guische's return expected, who are looked for within these two days; and upon that, as occasion serveth, she is to take her journey.
"I will not say it, but it is thought here of a great many that the Queen Mother if she go will rather do harm than good, and, if they have committed any faults, rather tell them how to mend them than otherwise. The King and she hath been divers times within this sennight at very hot words about these matters; but in the end, she maketh so many difficulties to be propounded, so many fears to be advertised and so many false things to be given out, as she amazeth the King and getteth the [upper] hand at the length, and without doubt, the greatest cunning 'oone' of them she hath now, is to make them great bugs to keep the King in awe and afraid of their forces.
"Another thing that she feareth him withal is her Majesty's treaty in the Low Countries, and the assuring him it is a thing underhand already concluded. I do what I can to have that opinion removed, and make that which you sent me of her answer to the States to serve me [in] it; but keep them in awe still that it is likely it will be done, for that it is likely the King of Spain will agree to any reasonable thing to be at quiet there, to have the better opportunity to look into other whooles that be opened to him in divers places in Christendom now, and more here than anywhere else. And yet withal have let them see that which you sent me of Pigot's confession of the forces of the Low Countries, that they may not be terrified with such great numbers as the Queen Mother goeth about to terrify the King withal, and they that are favourers of the League here.
"Monsieur d'Epernon hath been at his house hereby not very well; partly with his old disease, partly with melancholy. It is given out here he goeth in decrefing, but most men think it is but a fraud. I am yet truly of that opinion too, I cannot tell what causes that be yet unknown and time may alter in me. He is greatly grieved and offended with this death of the Prince of Conde's; both, some think, for some good opinion and hope of friendship of him, but specially for the manner of his death (as all the certainty goeth) by his wife, for Epernon's wife and his were cousin germans and both brought up together with [i.e. by] the old Constable's wife. But in truth this is accounted far different in disposition and manners, and very virtuous. The King also in secret hath showed greatly to lament him, and I promise you I do yet believe it is in very earnest.
"I do easily believe that you writ to me of the cause you heard of Madame Chateauneuf's so hasty coming away now upon this sudden; for I dare assure you many are fed with that hope: and Bandini, when he was now at Rome last, sent by the King in Christmas, was laughed at [by] all the Cardinals and great personages in Rome when he laughed at the King of Spain's over-running of England, which they assured; and would needs assure him that afore he came back again into France, he should find it done, and England quite destroyed . . . But thanks be to God, England standeth yet, and I hope shall stand to hear Rome be sunk for their sins in the bottom of Tiber."—Paris, 21 March, 1587.
Holograph. Add. Endd. 2½ pp. [France XVIII. 43.]
March 21. Stafford to Walsingham.
[On the King's promised expedition into Picardy, and the Queen Mother's action in the matter, shortly.]
"They grow here very angry with our treaty with Spain, and say that the accord is concluded, and that all in the end will fall upon France.
"The League doth stir in all places, and do arm as much as ever they did, but they are not so strong as the King is made understand, for every man is made twenty to him, and they terrify him much with the Duke of Parma's forces.
"There is no certain news come of the manner of the Prince of Condé's death, but it is certain that it was by poison, for (as they say) there was as much found in his side, that had not made his [i.e. its] operation, as would have poisoned forty men. The Cardinal of Vendosme, his brother . . . sent word that a varlet de chambre that was taken did confess that it was his wife's doing. She is prisoner at St. Jehan d'Angely, where as the captain of his guard and other gentlemen of his train have made themselves party against her. M. de Tremouille, hearing of the Prince's death, came thither with great show to lament it. Being come into the town, his sister desired to speak with him, which he refused to do but in the presence of the Prince's chief men. Being together, she lamented her hard fortune, that having lost so good a husband, by whom she received so great honour, she was now accused of so foul a crime as to have conspired his death. He answered her that if she were innocent he would spend all he had to justify her, but if she were guilty, he would be the first that should set fire to the stake to burn her, and so he departed, and would never after speak with her. There is nothing come from the King of Navarre about it.
"There is one come out of Germany hither that was one of the Prince's stewards and a very old servant of his. He was with the army and there taken prisoner. I have furnished him with horse and money and have gotten him a passport to go into Poictou, by whom I shall understand all the circumstances of the Prince's death. All men here do generally lament it. Even his enemies and they of the League do pity it, except it be some few worse affected than the rest, that say she hath done a good deed, and that it was for the Catholic faith; but they are hated of all men and thought bad minded men.
"The King of Navarre, hearing of this accident, came presently to St. Jehan d'Angely with twelve horse; at which time it is given out that Laverdin did take Marans, which the King of Navarre hearing of, went presently with 2000 shot of Rochelle to succour it, which they say he could not do. Others say that he hath relieved it; of all which we have yet no certainty.
"In Germany the princes arm apace, but most men think that it is for Bonn. I did yesterday speak with a messenger that came out of those parts, who says that the Bishops do likewise arm to oppose themselves against this levy of the princes, so as there is likelihood to be as great stirs there as in other places, if God be not the more merciful.
"There is nothing done yet at Sedan. The Duke of Guise's forces are thereabouts, but they neither besiege the town nor attempt anything else. The Duke of Montpensier, who hath most interest in it, lies here sick of the gout, and doth nothing; neither do I think he will do much, both because he is so slow in his own causes and for that he suffers himself to be governed by bad counsellors.
"They give out here, and say they have it out of Spain, that the King hath been sick there fourteen days of a continual fever, and that he hath been so often let blood as it hath impaired his senses. I know not whether this report be true, or that they give it out for some other purpose.
"The Assembly that was appointed to be at Ste. Foy, the 24th of this month, I think will be now deferred by this accident of the Prince of Condé's death.
"I can write to your honour but as it was written to me and to many other in this town from Geneva, touching the three cantons of Swisses, wherein they were deceived, for by the last despatch they have written quite contrary and worse; which is that all the Catholic cantons except Soleure are quitting the alliance of France and taking that of Spain; and whereas they sent for ministers to Geneva, it was not to be instructed, as they thought, but for that there was an Abbot among them who offered to bring forth certain Jesuits to dispute with them.
"I was very glad of the news your honour sent me of Scotland, for here they give out the quite contrary, and one [torn] uncle to the Master of Gray, who came thence within these thirty days, says that the Earl of Huntley and the other lords were at Liecothe [Linlithgow] and had resolved to have the Chancellor [Sir John Maitland] put out, and that the Hamilton was with them, and that the Earls of 'Anguishe' and Marre and the rest that were affected to the Queen do now lie still and favour no party. He says also that the Lord 'Harris' [Herries] is gone back and hath taken arms, and that her Majesty hath sent forces into Scotland to aid them against the King; but I assure them of the contrary, upon that which I received from your Honour."
I was yesterday with M. Pinart about the ships of Nantes your honour writ to me of, and some other merchants' causes, who promises justice, but complained that they had no answer touching the letters of mart. I said I thought you found something unreasonable in it, or it would have been sent ere this. He then told me that their ambassador complained that he was put off with delays; desiring me to be a means that brief justice might be done on both sides. I promised that within a month they shall have it, and pray you to send it for saving of my credit.—Paris, 21 March, 1587.
Postscript. Even now is arrived a Maître d'Hotel of M. de la 'Trimouilles' with letters from the princes[s] to the Cardinal of 'Vandosme' Bourbon, princes of Condé, Villeroy and Epernon, "wherein she complaineth of the hard usage is used to her, their laying to her her husband's death; and desireth the princes in her letter to speak to the Queen, according as such favour is accustomed to be used in such cases, to send her her mo[u]rning clothes of her hand. The princes and the Cardinals both brought out words from the Queens that they would send her a rope in a paper to hang her withal; and openly in the Queen's antichamber used the hardest speeches to him of her afore all the world that could be.
"He was asked by a friend of his that was expressly sent to him to that purpose by my means, the order of all things.
"He told him that at the first they did but look unto her, but not kept her; but that as soon as the valet de chambre was taken and had confessed (what, nobody knows, for the examiners took all oath to reveal nothing to no living creature till the King of Navarre and the Count Soissons were come); that presently after his examination taken, she had fifty shot of his guard lodged under her, above her, or each side of her; so as she cannot look out to nobody, nor nobody at her. And that these letters that she writ was by leave and in the presence of them all. That there was never so pitiful a thing seen as the exclamation of the people and country; that at the first hearing of it, at the burial of the bowels, they did not tarry, a man, women nor a child that could go alone in their houses; but so howled, cried, tore their hairs, beat their breasts, and so took on that it was the pitifullest thing to see that ever was; and that all the gentlemen of the country came thither to wail and lament. That they keep the body in the house, with all the honour and service still as he was wont and more then [when] he was alive; that they will never let it go out of that town, but keep it there with all honour and respect as long as a man of them was alive. That the King of Navarre presently came thitherward; that four hundred gentlemen of the Religion and two hundred Catholics met him at 'Taylborg', all in mourning down to the ground, and began all to speak together, and were suddenly struck with that sobbing and weeping and howling, as he said that they could not say anything. That one among the rest only desired that their tears might speak for them, and that the King of Navarre and Count Soissons neither could answer word. But half an hour after, one in the name of them all told him that they were come to him to demand justice and revenge; that if they had it not directly and speedily at his hands, they would come to the King here, their sovereign to demand it at his hands though they were sure aforehand of the severity of the edicts; that if they had it not at his hands, they would ask it at God's hands, and do that which he should put into their minds. That they had lost that which they should never recover, that they would keep, honour and serve the body as long as any man was alive of them and seek the revenge of it to the last of them.
"As they were in this, the news came of Lavardin's besieging of Marans, whereupon they all with the King went to Rochelle the same instant, the King of Navarre assuring [them] that it did touch him nearer than any and that they should see the proofs of it.
"He [the messenger] saith she is with child four months gone. He saith the Rochellers are ready to run mad for it. He was beloved greatly; so did he deserve it."
Signed. Add. Endd. Seal of arms. Postscript holograph. 3¼ pp. [France XVIII. 44.]
March 21/31. David Cabreth to Walsingham.
This present Friday, (fn. 3) there arrived a ship of Dieppe, laden with sugars and other commodities from Viana in Portugal, who report the Spanish fleet ready to depart eight days after they left, on the 14th, and judges them to be at sea.
"The preparation here in all parts of Picardy for men in a readiness is great, as also in Artois. Victuals beginneth in Gascony to be very dear, as also in Spain. . . .
"It is supposed the Prince de Condy to be poisoned by his lackey, yet partly doubted of to be so, which God grant.
I have sent you letters by Robert Hilles, Mr. Scofeld's servant and Mr. Goore Lord Cobham's servants, with other letters that came from your servant, John Dowse; as also by Pappo, Lord Cobham's post, but doubt whether they came to your hands, as Robert Hilles has returned that sent by him.
There are certain here who have obtained licence to transport beefs, muttons, wheat, oats, malt, beer and other victuals, "under a colour for the Lords [Commissioners']. provision," which are being passed over for the Prince of Parma, and there are now great provisions of such things shipped from Margate, Ramsgate, Sandwich and Dover, "whither to be transported God knoweth, . . . The enemy will be glad of victual, and will [sic] stand in as great need as before, if they were not so plentifully every day resorted unto.—Calles, the last of March, 1588."
Add. Endd. by one of Walsingham's clerks "31 March, stilo novo. From Cabreth." French, 1 p. [France XVIII. 45.]
March 22./April 1. De l'Aubespine Chasteauneuf to Burghley.
Regretting his lordship's indisposition, both on private and public grounds. Last Sunday, after audience of her Majesty, he spoke with the Admiral and Mr. Walsingham of the many complaints received. Particularly wishes to speak to his Lordship concerning a piracy committed by a young man named Chas Hauvart [Howard], brought up by you as a page, and who commands one of her Majesty's ships, called the Osprey (?), who has taken from a French merchant fifty-five bales of cloth. Knows that he is of a good house and young, therefore has not wished to make a public complaint before speaking to his lordship, in order not to injure him, although his having done this wrong when in one of her Majesty's ships, he is the more punishable.—London, 1 April, 1588.
Signed. Add. Endd. French. ¾ p. [France XVIII. 46.]
March 22./April 1.
[last date.]
Collection of abstracts of letters sent by Duke Casimir to her Majesty; the headline stating that they are a further instalment of letters sent out of Italy, by which daily are more and more confirmed the insidious and hostile schemes carried on by the Pope, Spaniard, and their confederates against the Queen of England. Sent to a prince of Germany very warmly affected to her Majesty.
4 September. It is confirmed on good authority that the King of Scotland has secretly sent envoys to the King of Spain, and it is added that he is one of those who have sworn the Queen's destruction.
Letters from Rome say that the Pope is wholly engaged in consultations on English affairs, and almost daily holds secret conversations with Alan, the English Cardinal. There is a great hope that matters will come to a successful issue, since the Englishwoman ("Angla") seems to have reached such a pass that nothing will avail her, no matter where she turns, or in whom she trusts, or from whom she seeks assistance; for the daily increasing factions of her nobles, and the hidden treasons which are soon to burst into activity, are working her ruin. As soon as she is out of the way, and the navigation to the Indies is restored, Belgium (fn. 4) recovered, and France (which might make some resistance to the subsequent efforts of the Spaniards) reduced to naught, then those same Spaniards will repay the heretics with interest; and in their turn take over the management of German affairs.
Florence reports that the Spaniard is at this very time considering some plan against Ireland or England.
12 September. The Pope having once conceived the hope of shortly restoring England, Scotland and Belgium to the obedience of the Apostolic See, and of then reducing the rest of the heretics to order, is far from laying it aside. In fact, every day seems to bring forth something to increase it, unless the courage of those who are to make the attempt should fail.
16 October, 1587. The King of Spain is at one and the same time preparing his forces for the overthrow of the Queen of England, and pretending to a desire for peace with her. He is making the King of Denmark a sort of arbiter of the question; hoping to keep him and the other northern heretics occupied with such questions, and thus to detach them from the Englishwoman more and more every day. Although it is certain that he has with his own hand written letters to the Queen, professing a great desire for peace, in the common interest, nevertheless those who appear to have the best knowledge of him and of Spanish affairs maintain that he is planning nothing else than war and the Queen's destruction.
31 October. Plans are being considered by certain persons which call for the vigilance of all princes, Italians as well as others. Indeed, at this very time the Pope and the Spaniard and their confederates are said to be in council on the subject of a notable expedition, the leader of which, according to the best and, highest authority, is to be the Duke of Savoy. Although no names are mentioned, far-sighted persons conjecture that the object of it will be the Queen of England.
In the same letters it is said that the Spaniard is seriously considering an attack with all his forces upon the Englishwoman: and especially an invasion of Ireland. I hear that this is written publickly from Spain, Portuguese letters tell the same tale, as well as letters of 20 December [sic. quere recte October.] From Madrid (Madrillio).
6 November. Confirmation continues to be received of what was last written about the Spanish preparations. It seems that they are all directed against the Englishwoman, either because she appears so pre-eminently deserving of attack, or else because the Spaniards are inflamed with a desire for revenge or plunder, and will hardly tolerate any delays in attacking her; promising themselves all sorts of victories and triumphs against the rest of their enemies, when once she is out of the way.
13 November. Of the many reasons which are thought to be prompting the King of Spain to concentrate all his power and forces on the overthrow of the Queen of England, the following are considered to be the chief; viz.: (1) a fear that he may be forestalled by death; (2) a fear lest the Turks, having made peace with the Persians, may turn aside to make war on him: and (3) a fear lest the princes of Christendom, more especially those in the north, may wake up and join forces to withstand the peril to them all which is threatened by those who wish to have universal dominion.
As to the Spanish preparations, there are many almost incredible reports. It is said that no greater fleet has been seen in Spain for ages, and that the soldiery is the pick and flower of Spain and Portugal.
Some people suspect that all these tales are exaggerated and that the great show of further preparations which is being made is designed solely to terrify the Englishwoman, so that she may prefer to have peace, even on better conditions for the Spaniard, rather than experience the formidable power of such a well-equipped fleet.
20 November. Although everything was expected (and that very soon) of the Spanish fleet, the general opinion is that as winter is now coming on, it is hardly likely to make a move towards an important expedition, this year at least, unless (as I have often stated) the removal of the Queen of England out of the way should happen soon, answerably to the expectations of many. Certain it is that the Spaniard, if his life be spared a little longer, will do his part to secure her distruction. Meanwhile, he devotes his attention to widening the breach between her and the northern heretics, whom he has already drawn away, and making even those who seem to be less estranged from her into her enemies.
27 November. Confirmation comes from Spain of the very great and almost incredible preparations of the Spaniard. It is still the common opinion that he will, as soon as possible, employ all his forces for the overthrow of the Queen of England and the recovery of Belgium, fearing lest he may be forestalled by death, and leave to his heirs an empire encumbered with such difficulties and exposed to such perils that they will be unable to overcome them, in which case the enemies of the Spanish name will seize the opportunity to overthrow the Empire utterly.
11 December. There is much talk here of the expedition against England, as a result of letters of 16 November from Madrid. As to the report which some people are spreading abroad that the Marquis of Santa Cruz has already sailed with his fleet for Ireland, it is not confirmed on any good authority, nor is it believed. It is certain however, that many well-known persons have been induced by their friends' letters to go to Belgium from Italy, in the hope of such an event.
It is stated that the King of France has promised the Papal Legate that he will do nothing to hinder the expedition. Many persons hold to their original opinion, namely, that unless some notable treason promises an almost certain and ready-made victory to the Spaniards, they will not lightly make an attempt on England, considering the great power of her fleet, the difficulty of access to her shores and the great army of very warlike men by whom she is defended.
18 December. [re frightening Elizabeth into accepting harder conditions of peace, as in letter of Nov. 13, above.] Others consider that the Spaniard has been brought by the promises of certain traitors to such a pitch of hope that he persuades himself that he is able to compass her destruction.
Those who have certain knowledge maintain that she will die this [next] year, and that the kingdom of England will be brought back to the allegiance and power of the Pope and the Spanish King.
24 December. Advice has already been given of the great preparations of the Spanish fleet. The marvellous thing is that these preparations should have been set on foot in the hope of treasons in England and Belgium; unless indeed something has actually happened to show the Spaniards that such a hope is reasonable. Letters from Rome show clearly how great a hope the Roman court has conceived of the speedy restoration of Belgium and England to the Apostolic See.
1 January, 1588. The Roman letters are full of joy and triumph at the collapse of the great army of Swiss and German reiters in France brought utterly to naught by their own act. It is hoped that, terrified by so unhappy an event, the heretic German princes and the Swiss cities will put the blame upon the King of Navarre and desert his cause, even though it is their own, and that, fearing a repetition of the disaster, they will leave the Queen of England in the lurch, in the midst of her enemies. She will then, it is confidently expected, be quite unable to avoid the destruction which is hanging over her head, and when she is once out of the way, the confederates flatter themselves that their hope of an universal victory over the heretics will be easily and quickly realized.
Some persons of credit have written from Rome that the Spanish fleet sailed from Lisbon on the 1st of December, for Ireland or England, but the report of so momentous an event is not believed without confirmation from other quarters.
15 January. By letters from Rome of this date it is confirmed that the Spanish fleet has been prevented by storms from daring to go further. It is said that not only is it the Spanish policy to overthrow the Queen of England at the earliest possible moment, but their zeal and longing for this are so great and enthusiastic that many persons are resorting to all sorts of auguries for a prosperous and happy issue of the undertaking, in order to keep up their spirits. On the other hand, the Portuaguese are so extravagant and persistent in their subordination of everything to their love for Antonio of Portugal that there is nothing they seem to desire less than a war with England, since Antonio lives in England and is sustained in his hope of sooner or later recovering Portugal by the resources of the English Queen. The strongest expectations are being entertained of removing the Queen out of the way, and shortly restoring England, Scotland and the whole of Belgium to the Church of Rome.
22 January, 1588. I see from your letters that in your parts also there is repeated confirmation of the great preparations which are being made in Spain, Portugal and Belgium against the Queen of England, and of the hope and sure expectation of victory which is entertained. Some people have no hesitation in promising themselves things which our people dare not hope for.
The forty English pirate ships at Cape St. Vincent were sent out, as some think, not so much in hope of doing anything great, but rather through desperation, or at least in the vain hope that the King of Spain will be more ready to make peace with the Queen of England when he finds that she is as well equipped in spirit as in power. So the Spaniards write. Others call attention to the prevalent sickness among the Spanish soldiery (which is the common talk of the whole fleet) and the great and almost daily captures of booty by the English; and maintain that there are other obstacles besides, so many and great, that the fleet, far from sailing in January, will hardly be able to make an attempt upon England at any time, unless it be induced to do so by treasons or some notable success in Belgium, more especially since it is now seen that the Queen, not waiting at home to be attacked by the enemy, is adopting the policy of sending a great part of her fleet against Portugal, and even, as some think, against Spain; a policy which is likely to cause the maximum of trouble. It is said that this nervousness has had such an effect that the Spaniard is making a new fleet of a hundred ships as quickly as possible in the Bay of Biscay (ad Oceanum Cantabricum.)
29 January. Letters from Rome add that the Pope has conceived so great a hope of shortly recovering England, Scotland and the whole of Belgium, that it is generally thought that he is relying upon treason, by means of which things otherwise incredible are apt suddenly to come to pass.
Trustworthy letters from Spain report that the fleet is so badly equipped that it will not dare to do anything against England unless some sure hope of victory presents itself, to dispel its hesitation and waft it forward as it were, on a favouring breeze.
5 February. Not only are the glowing reports as to the Spanish fleet at a stand-still, but weighty authorities maintain that all the preparations of the Spaniards against the Englishwoman are now progressing so slowly that there is a danger that before they make any attempt, at least openly, the English will again make an attack on Spain and Portugal. If the Northerners were to make common cause with the Englishwoman, nobody doubts that they could inflict a mortal blow on the Spanish Empire.
12 February. How greatly those who favour the sacred confederacy are boasting of the recent slaughter of German heretics has been noticed at various times. They think that by this one victory a way has been opened for the longed-for universal victory over the heretics, since it has inspired such fear in them that their distrust in themselves is beginning to be as great as their self-confidence used to be; and they no sooner think of making a trial of arms than they seem to feel the closing of bonds and chains round them. The Confederates confess that the only person who has so far foiled their attempts is the Englishwoman, who with great spirit and wisdom has decided not to wait at home for the enemy any more, but to go abroad and fight him. But she cannot last long, they say, since she is deserted by all and cannot alone sustain so great a burden or escape the toils of all the ambushes which have been laid for her.
20 February. The Spaniards say that the more slowly their preparations against the Queen of England go on, the greater and deadlier they will be; especially as the recent discovery of a treason in Portugal has practically removed the Englishwoman's means of stirring up tumults in that kingdom in order to detain the King of Spain's forces. As to the peace which is to be arranged with the Englishwoman in Belgium; it is said that this is only intended to enable the Spaniards to make better preparations; and meanwhile to escape or delay any attempts by the Englishwoman. They are also said to be hoping that in the meantime, some-one will come forward who can be induced by great rewards and promises to do away with her after the fashion of the Prince of Orange, as she is not so cautious, or so carefully and honestly guarded as to preclude the possibility of her being reached by steel or poison.
26 February. Trustworthy persons say that the Spaniard has entrusted to the Duke of Parma the task of doing his utmost to conclude peace with the Englishwoman. It is thought that this policy has been initiated because he has lost all hope of taking—by means of the Guises—a port in France suitable for the expedition against England, or of arranging any practicable treasons in England, Scotland or Belgium; and because he sees his own fleet reduced almost to nothing; and realizes that the Englishwoman, by virtue of her fleet and that of the Belgians [i.e. the Dutch] is so powerful that if her spirit and audacity should be equal to her strength, she might do great harm to the Spanish fortresses before Spain could make all the necessary preparations for defence.
18 March. The Pope thinks that nothing could be more glorious for him than to restore England, France and Belgium [Holland] to the Catholic church and faith. As for the Englishwoman, the business would indeed be difficult and almost desperate were it not for the one hope that remains that some treason out of the many that are being attempted may prove practicable, and that everything else will then happen naturally as he desires it.
The Portuguese conspiracy is turning out to have a most bitter and mournful issue for the Portuguese. Even now, many men (and those not the meanest) are being condemned to captivity and chains; and there will soon follow executions, and the destruction and ruin of many families which a short time ago enjoyed all the good gifts of fortune. Among other nobles of high rank who have suffered is a matron born of the famous family of Sylvii, who has been thrown into prison. This lady, under cover of social courtesy, used to visit her friends at their homes, and urge them with more than a man's spirit to devote their means and strength solely to freeing their country from the yoke of Spanish slavery.
25 March. As to the common report that the Turk has been urgently requested by the Queen of England to send out his fleet, and that she has promised him 300,000 pounds [aurei] for the use thereof, some people think it too hateful to be possible, or else that it has been invented and spread abroad in the hope that it will alienate from the Queen even those who are in the same boat with her and defend the same cause, on the ground that she has associated her impious arms with the enemy of Christendom. There are however some persons, i.e. Italians, who are not afraid to assert that they would do the same in her place. For, say they, nature teaches all men to preserve their own lives by any means, even the most abhorrent, against persons whom they see to be making every sort of preparation, in every sort of way, for their destruction. Indeed the Spaniards themselves, by their own example, are advising the Englishwoman to secure help from everybody and anybody; for they are hiring heretics to attack her, and they consider heretics far more detestable than Turks, and worthy of all kinds of torture. And what is more, the Turk needs no such inducements, for on his own account he has sufficiently strong reasons for attempting to reduce to order the man who is going to do battle with him for the empire of the whole world—a man who rests his hope of universal empire and rule in open violence and arms and in nothing else. Nor is the Turk so innocent of affairs as not to notice the daily greater progress which this man is making throughout the whole of Europe. For how can he fail to know that by this man's means the kingdom of France, which was once the chief bulwark against the Spanish power, is so reduced that it is full of civil wars, and distracted by an infinite number of factions, and seems likely to fall under the Spanish power, either wholly or to a great extent. Or how can he fail to see that Germany, once free and the mistress of those same Spaniards, is voluntarilly submitting herself to them, and fostering their endless ambition with her own blood, to the ruin of herself and others. Nay, more, he cannot fail to realize that the Kings of the extreme north are evidently serving the Spaniard, and that he is so egregiously abusing their simplicity and credibility that not only do they fail to see that it is their liberty, as well as others that is to be defended, but they actually restrain and impede the attempts which others are preparing for the diminution of the power of Spain. And, lastly, Italy is, in the eyes of the Turk, so plainly given up and surrendered for the greater part to the will of the Spaniard that he cannot remain ignorant of her real condition, however much he might wish to do so. And the conclusion is, that knowing and seeing all this, he needs no further inducements to take action against the Spaniard, unless indeed he be the laziest of mankind, and utterly devoid of reason and common-sense. It is through fear of him (the same persons add) that the Spaniards are pretending a desire for peace with the Englishwoman, although, however successful such a peace might be for a time, they would never remain quiet, but would always be causing trouble to one or another of those whom they could most conveniently injure.
As to what is written from Spain on supposedly good authority, namely that the King of Spain is striving to pacify Belgium [i.e. Holland] with the sole object of turning his arms against France, recovering Cambrai and usurping for himself, by the help of the Guise party, whole provinces of France, it does not seem a likely report; for such a policy would probably result in uniting a now disunited France; and the French King would without doubt throw all religious scruples aside, and stir up Turks and heretics promiscuously to attack the Spaniard. So it is thought that this rumour is a pretence, designed to secure that the King of France, for fear of such an event, shall renew the war against the Huguenots and desert the Englishwoman, (even if he will not openly fight her) leaving her a sure prey to the Spaniards.
Some prominent Italians who were amongst those sent to besiege Bonn, have written to their friends here, that if peace with the Englishwoman is obtained, the war will be transferred to parts not far distant from where they now are. From this, some persons conjecture Cambrai; others (with more likelihood) suggest the principality of the Duke of Bouillon; since the Spaniards (on what pretext I know not) maintain that it belongs to the Duchy of Luxembourg. The same Italians boast that the Spaniard, after recovering Bonn and occupying certain other places, will shortly make himself far more absolute a master of the Rhine than he has ever been hitherto.
1 April. The Cardinal of Joyeuse was the first to bring news to the Pope of the death by poison of the Prince of Condé at St. [Jean d'] Angeli. The Pope was so pleased at the news that he shed tears of joy, and burst out into these cruel words of prayer: "May all the enemies of the Apostolic See so perish." It is said that he will proclaim what they call Jubilee throughout Christendom, with prayers that the counsels and attempts of those who are leagued with the sacred confederacy against the heretics may have a happy issue. When the heads of some heretics have been cut short (as the saying goes) by a short hand, then (they say) everything else will be easy. For the death of the Englishwoman alone will result in the return of Belgium and the whole of England and Scotland to the allegiance and power of the Apostolic See, while the rest of the heretics will pay the penalty to a man. It is said indeed that the sole object of the Spaniard in pretending to be eager for a peace with the Englishwoman is that she and her allies may thereby be induced to let slip their present chances of accomplishing something, and also take less care to guard against the snares that are being prepared for them. No one with any knowledge of affairs has any doubt that were the heretics to join forces with the Englishwoman, they could bring the Apostolic See and the Spanish Empire into extreme peril.
Endd. by Burghley as copies of letters sent from divers places to Duke Casimir, 1588. Latin, 12 closely written pp. [Germany, States V. 71.]
March 23
[? 25. (fn. 5) ]
Stafford to Walsingham.
The bearer has tarried almost his fortnight for that honest man, and as he returns not (as I am sure he never meant to do), I have advised him to return to your honour and leave it to him to tell you all that has passed here.
I wonder much at what you say of having seen a letter from Rochelle that I had had secret conference with the King, for the time I spake with him was but one day before I despatched Tupper, and from that day to the day that you dispatched Mr. Hakluyt, "you shall find it not possible that it should be sent from hence to Rochelle and from Rochelle come again into England," and besides, I am sure the King would never discover it, for I never saw any so fearful to have it known, or discovered by her Majesty. But I have found whence it comes. On my audience with the King and my conference with Pinard, I dealt very plainly on that point; and one of the King of Navarre's men here coming to me, I told him what I had said to them; who yesterday confessed to me that he had since spoken of it in company where the Abbot d'Albene was, who fumed at it "and said it was the greatest evil service that ever was done to the King of Navarre, and that since he had written it to the King of Navarre's court; and added withal that I have had this conference secret with the King, and gave it out upon this man's word that I had told it to . . . and withal, to aggravate the matter, had written it thither that I had used these speeches out of mine own head without commandment; whereupon this man hearing of it, and that he [the Abbot] made him the author of a lie, which was of a secret conference, they have fallen out about it, and [he] came to me to excuse himself, thinking I might have heard of it and that I would have been offended with him. I told him that I would never be offended with a truth, for I did not tell it him to have it hid from the King of Navarre, for I was contented he should know anything I did. That I had indeed used those speeches, upon occasion offered, of mine own head, without any instruction; and that that I had done I would avow; which should no way hurt the King of Navarre if he meant to remain constant in his religion, but rather 'let' him of being too much importuned about the matter by the King. But if he had said that I had had secret conferences, when indeed I told him, as truth was, that it was at a public audience, and with Pinard after . . . he had done himself wrong ; to say that I had said to him that which was not, and which I never thought of.
"He protested unto me he never uttered any such word, but that he did hear that the Abbot—being glad of anything to write that he might make the King of Navarre continue still in an evil conceit of me, that he may not see his knavery—had added that to make the King of Navarre to enter into some suspicion of the matter. And from thence, Sir, upon my word, this must needs come; and as I hear he hath written the same into England, to Buzenval, your honour, having seen the letter, may the better judge of it. The gentleman doth still continue his honest dealing towards me, and all to blind the King of Navarre from seeing into his knavery, and from sending or having intelligence at all with me; which he hath wrought to his will, for since that time I never heard any word from the King of Navarre; nor any that have come from him (which have been divers) have come to me but some one or two honest men that be religeous, that belong to him, that remain in this town. I have so much labour and charge saved, and seeing he doth like of it, truly I am not sorry for it. . .
"I have not yet spoken with the King, for Bellievre and la Guische arrived yesterday from the Duke of Guise, and they have been busy. What they have done I cannot yet send you, but by the next I will.—Paris, Monday, March 23 [sic] 1587.
Holograph. Add. Endd. 2½ pp. [France XVIII, 47.]
March 25. Note of ships preparing at Hamburg to go into Spain, to be met by another fleet going from Lubeck. Also four double flyboats with 100 men apiece, ready to go for Dunkirk.
Endd. April, 88 (probably date of receipt). p. [Hamburg and Hanse Towns III, 2.]


  • 1. i.e. John Douce.
  • 2. No clue to the person meant. Essonne is a small town midway between Paris and Fontainebleau.
  • 3. Sic. March 31 in this year fell on Thursday, new style, and Sunday, old style. Cabreth's other letters are dated O.S., but the endorsement is borne out by the fact that he was more likely to confuse Friday and Thursday than Friday and Sunday. The new style dates have been verified by Cappelli's Cronologia.
  • 4. i.e. the [protestant] Netherlands.
  • 5. Stafford dates "Monday, 23", but Monday was the 25th o.s. in this year.