Elizabeth: September 1586, 1-10

Calendar of State Papers Foreign: Elizabeth, Volume 21, Part 2, June 1586-March 1587. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1927.

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'Elizabeth: September 1586, 1-10', in Calendar of State Papers Foreign: Elizabeth, Volume 21, Part 2, June 1586-March 1587, (London, 1927) pp. 145-154. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/foreign/vol21/no2/pp145-154 [accessed 13 April 2024]


September 1586, 1-10

As a faithful servant he must not fail in what he owes to his Honour ; and that by means of so wise and noble a gentleman there may come to light the designs of the King of Spain and the Duke of Parma, he desires to give him some little information. Having learnt that the fleet now being made ready is to set out for this country and that the commander is to be the Duke of Parma, he thinks that his honour should learn whether the King and the Duke have not some support from those in England. Believes he has found a method of doing so and that the Lord has inspired him, for during the past night there came into his memory three of his companions, couriers at times for secret Spanish affairs to his Highness and only going on matters of great importance ; and reflecting that now is the time when all designs occuring here are sent to Spain, he wishes to give his honour information thereupon. The names of these men are Siatler (?), Spaza and Daniel de Val, and when they are travelling they stop in Paris with M. Handrich van Gellen, who has means, by the bureau of Navarre, quickly and secretly to procure them passports to enable them to pass safely through Navarre, where if his Honour could have them stayed, he believes that there would come to light matters of great importance, which would be of much use to this realm, and comfort to her Majesty. Has been told by the Lieutenant [of the Tower] that his honour graciously intends to release him. If he will do so, and will employ him, he promises as a faithful servant to do such good service and make such important discoveries as shall astonish him. This should be done as soon as possible, for now is the time. He therefore prays that liberty may be granted him to travel for his health, he having been confined for a year, and that his Honour will vouchsafe to remember him, and the poverty in which he finds himself.Tower of London, 2 September, 1586. Add. Endd. Italian. 1 pp. [Holland X. 1.]
Although I have written at large to her Majesty of our news here, I thought it not amiss to certify your lordships also thereof. Being on my way to relieve Berck, I found myself greatly annoyed by this town of Doesbourgh, the garrison whereof daily intercept our carriages and men, which, considering how hurtful it would be to us when we were gone further, and having my forces and munition ready, I resolved to attempt the town. On Tuesday last I encamped before it and entrenched it round. "The next night I made my approaches ; on Thursday night planted our ordnance, and yesterday by five oclock in the morning began to batter. By two oclock after noon the breach was made saultable and all our army, both horse and foot set ready in battle, and they which had the charge of the assault (in truth against my will, for the hazard of their persons, but that their importunate desire was such as they would not be denied) the Count Hohenlo and Sir John Norreis, had led their companies even almost to the ditch under the breach ; at which time they of the town offered parley ; for which I had very much to do to stay our men, being so far forward, but that I was fain to go myself and press them with authority. "The first demand made by the town was that they might depart with arms and baggage, which being denied them, at length they desired only their lives, which (considering it was a most honourable composition for us) I was content to grant them, that the soldiers should depart with white wands, except the Captains and officers, and they to remain prisoners at my pleasure ; the burghers their lives and goods in my hands ; in which terms the town was immediately rendered." Since then, I have been advertised that the Prince was coming to relieve it, and is now within ten miles of us, but he will come too late, and besides winning the town, we have thereby "raised the Prince from Berck to come to raise us hence."Camp before Doesbourgh, 3 September, 1586. Signed. Add. Endd. 1 pp. [Holland X. 2.]
On the taking of Doesburg, to the same effect as the above. Says that the town is fair and large, "of a mile and half in circuit and reasonably well walled and ditched round about ; though somewhat impoverished yet of importance for the river of Isel running under it."Camp before Doesbourgh, 3 September, 1586. Signed. Add. Endd. 1 p. [Ibid. 3.]
Sept. 3/13. Extract of the Sieur de Nivelt's instruction, with which he was sent to his Excellency on this date.
By other letters dated in London 10 December, 1585, to [sic] the said Jacques [Ringout] (suppressing always his name) written to the said Etienne Peret touching certain secret correspondences between them and some under the enemy, as follows :Advising you that the agents I have in the quarter of Ghent [margin "au lieu de Kent] are gentlemen of good standing, and willing to be my substitutes.
Endd. Fr. p. [Ibid. 4.]
Sept. 4/14. REINGOUT to [WILKES.]
I understand that these deputies are waiting upon your honour in order to give you an account of the causes of the imprisonment of Etienne Peret, servant and minister of his Excellency, by virtue of letters patents signed by his Excellency and countersigned by the secretary in full Council of State. But I beg you to remember that this matter here for which this Peret is one of his Excellency's commissioners (of whom the number is 15 or 16 for all the principal towns) has made me odious to the said deputies, and consequently the said Peret also, who I assure you is a zealous servant of his Excellency and for the good of the country, and a mortal enemy of these gentlemen who thus infamously undermine the authority of his Excellency, in the assurance that they will be seconded by those of the Council of State, their pensionaries (that is to say, their wages being paid by them, not by the Prince). But they cannot deny that, against the authority of his Excellency, they have made an attempt against one of his ministers, which he should not suffer, if he does not wish to be abused at every turn ; nay, even letting themselves be heard say on all hands in their taverns and conversations that if they had me there they would make me also a prisoner. That if his Excellency should not counterguard this, and hold in his protection and safe-keeping those whom he puts in office, and who study only to do him humble service, their condition will be very miserable. Your honour will remember that I showed you a duplicate of my writing exhibited in the Council of State, and there approved by his Excellency on July 2, as you may see by the decree written in the margin, pursuant to which there were sent to Peret and the others commissions and instructions at which they cry out, being (at least most of them) "Lorridrayers," (fn. 2) and that if this commission goes forward (as in other places), they will be discovered. The said Peret has had other charges from his Excellency as regards salt, wines and cloths estimated to bearbeing collected according to the suggestion of the said Peretmore than 1,500,000 florins, and by my own, more than two millions. On which I have, by order of his Excellency (of which I send you an extract from the memoire of Mr. 'Athy') held friendly correspondence with the said Peret, of which (by what I can learn) they spread false rumours. They say I am bankrupt, wherein they have abused the truth. Truly, I demanded of the States General a delay against my creditors for six months, after the enemy had newly seized my estate of Canwerbourg, worth 4000 florins a year, besides other property which he had held for eight or nine years, and besides 13,000 florins which they themselves owe me for money lent, and also more than 7000 florins which they owe me of my wages in their Chambre des Aydes or Treasury, up to about the year '84, as your honour has seen. For the rest I like much better that they should say of me that I am spoiled of my patrimonies than to have the report of being in a few years grown from a small and mean fellow to great substance, as many among them have done. They speak also of my accounts, but it is all falsehoods and lies, for I will show by the authentic duplicate of the said accounts that I have, signed by the then Secretary of State, and by the closure of the account, that they owe me 13,200 florins. These are but factions, which fall to earth as soon as they are born, when the authority of the master is interposed without suffering himself to be abused by a crowd of pensionaries. His Excellency has commanded me more than five times that I should draw up public remonstrances on this subject, and I have been always averse from doing so, hoping that they would amend their ways, although in the end, I drew one up in the form of a minute, which I have sent to M. de Sydney, but not yet to his Excellency ; and M. de Sydney thinks it very good and to the purpose ; yet so far I have held it back, in the said hope. But not to trouble your honour further, I maintain that I will yet do her Majesty more service (being countenanced) than they will all do in a year ......praying you to do so much in favour of the authority of his Excellency as to remit these matters to his jurisdiction ; otherwise they will do worse things than the Duke of Alva ever did. What I say is only by way of advice, for I do not wish to fall out with them so long as I see myself upheld as is fitting. I greatly long to be with you, to tell you many other things, but they must be put off until a more convenient season.Utrecht, 14 September, 1586. No address, but Endd : in Wilkes' hand "14 Septembris, stilo novo. Mr. Ringoult, dresser declarations publiques contre les Estats." French. 4 pp. [Holland X. 5.]
This gentleman, Mr. Georg taking to her Majesty the news of the winning of 'Dewsborowgh,' I accompany him with these few lines, having only three days ago written from Elthem, the very day we marched to Dewsborow, being Tuesday, August 30. On Thursday we planted two pieces of artillery ; Friday by five in the morning our whole artillery played upon the town ; by one oclock the breach, as we thought, made saultable, and by two all our companies in arms before the town. "Captain Pryce's and Captain Wilson's two bands led the fore point ; Colonel Norris, myself and Captain Borowes led the second, and so divers other companies followed ; but by the way .... his Excellency took me away and would not suffer me nor divers other gentlemen that were ready to march. But in the end the town yielded [Gives conditions]. "The captain of the town was one [blank] an Almain, and most of the soldiers Almains. The town was of no great force, but so highly walled about as it could not be well scaled. It is a town....of no trade of merchants, but the burghers only lived by grazing, by reason of the goodness and richness of the soil." Our loss was not above thirty persons, and about forty hurt, but none of account but the Lord Marshall and Captain Williams, "the Marshal under the navel, as it seemeth ....without any entrance further than the skin....and Captain Williams in the arm." [So far the letter is in Cecil's own hand.] I have to conclude in my man's hand, "being so touched with a sudden fever over night, as this morning that I had neither head, hand nor back able to perform the rest ; but hoping within three or four days to mend, I mean to remove and follow the Camp till I see the end of our victory in the field."Doesbourgh 4 September, 1586. Signed. Add. Endd. 1 p. [Ibid. 6.]
"I have for divers respects forborne to write unto you....[but] these shall serve to let you understand the success of our journey. Tuesday we encamped before this town. By reason our artillery arrived very late the Wednesday, our approaches were deferred till the Thursday, when we planted twelve pieces of artillery and with the 'diana' on Friday we began to batter. Our equipage for the artillery was so bad that before we had shot three tyre, three or four of our best pieces became unserviceable. The weakness of the town, notwithstanding, was such that by noon two indifferent breaches were made. Our troops being assembled towards the assault, the one breach was allotted to the Dutch and Scottish, the other to the English. On our side was to take the point my own company, Capt. Burrowe and Capt. Price. Myself, with the Lord Governor of the Brill's company, my brother Henry's and Capt. Wilson ; to second, my Lord Burrowe, my Lord Governor of the Brill and divers other lords and gentlemen were earnestly desirous to accompany me, but none permitted. Whilst we were preparing for the assault, his Excellency sent a trumpet to the town, with what instructions I cannot write, for I was not made acquainted with it. He returning....with news that they would render the place, the assault was stayed and the trumpet sent back again, but lest the trumpet should offer too largely, I stepped to the breach myself and proposed these conditions : [as in Leicester's letter above] and this they accepted." His Excellency appointed two of Sir William Stanley's companies to enter at one gate, and myself with three other at another gate, "with express charge that nothing should be spoiled ; but before that I could make the way ready for my companies to enter, Sir William Stanley's men, entering in disorder at a postern gate, had quickly rifled the town. Because I found fault herewith, Sir William Stanley begins to quarrel with me, hath braved me extremely and refuseth to take any direction from me ; and although I have sought for redress hereof, yet is it proceeded in so coldly that he taketh encouragement rather to increase the quarrel than to leave it. In this state I stand continually ; every hour subject to tumults, which is a matter so dangerous for me, that have so few friends, that [it] makes me again desire your earnest furtherance for my revocation, and....that I may speedily hear from you what I may hope for." I send you herewith a note [wanting] answering the objections laid against me, which I trust will satisfy her Majesty and yourself.Camp by Doesburgh, 6 September, 1586. Holograph. Add. Endd. by Wilkes. "From Sir John Norreys to myself." 2 pp. [Holland X. 7.]
On Saturday, the 27th of last month, my Lord General left Arnhem, and found our troops which had marched before that night, at Elthen, "a place of most pleasant prospect in the Duke of Cleves' country." Next morning he viewed our English infantry, about 5000 men and "for so many a brave troop of able and likely men." Counsel being then taken, his Lordship altered his intended course towards Berck and it was concluded to march towards Doesburgh, in the county of Zutphen, on the river Ysel. "And so we dislodged upon Tuesday morning, and encamped that night before the town ; and the same night the Lord Marshal received his hurt. Within the town, besides the inhabitants, were only two ensigns of soldiers, all of the Low Countries, and some thirty or forty horses. Artillery there was very little, and the greatest piece not above a saker. The town wall of brick, built after the old manner, with towers and turrets, not the aptist to flank one another otherwise than with small shot ; neither is the wall rampired with earth on the inside, nor ditched, for the most part of it, otherwise than with the stream of the old Ysel," which only draws about three feet of water on the side where we battered it. Wednesday and Thursday, we chose the place for our battery and settled our camp, which at first lay very large and so more easy to be distressed if the enemy approached, which every day we were put in doubt of. Thursday night we placed our artillery, about ten or twelve pieces of cannon, demi-cannon and such like on the south west side of the town. Friday morning we began our battery and by noon had made two breaches, one about four score foot wide, the other scarce half so large, both assaultable, "but that the continual travail of the besieged reinforced strongly the places with beds, tubs, logs of wood, boards and such like trash, by means whereof the ascent was not so easy as outwardly it seemed." When the time came for the assault, Sir J. Norreys coming to my Lord General to ask what companies he would appoint for it, "my lord referred over the matter to him, who, as a man satis prodigus magn anim, answered that he knew none fitter for that purpose than himself, respecting that he was Colonel General of the infantry. His lordship at the first refused to agree to it, saying he would reserve him to some service of less hazard and greater importance. After a few words of objection the matter was thus appointed :that Captain J. Burgh, Capt. Price and Francis Allen, lieutenant of Sir J. Norreys' footband, with their companies should take the point of the assault ; and Sir Jo. Norreys, Mr. Harry Norreys with his company, Capt. Wilson with some thirty of his, and Sir William Stanley with three companies of his regiment should second the first ; the Lord Audley with his to follow as third. "Here my Lord General countermanded many that were desirous to accompany Sir J. Norreys, and whom at first he had given leave unto, as the Lord Burgh, a man in most vehement passion receiving the countermand ; the lord Governor of Brill, who having his own band and some other captains and soldiers of the Brill with Sir J. Norreys stood resolute to the attempt ; the lord governor of Flyssing with his brother Capt. Robert Sidney, Sir William Russell, Mr. William Knollys, Mr. Hatton, Mr. Umpton, Mr. Harry Goodere and other, who with great forwardness expressed their desire to do her Majesty service in this honourable action. The Dutch and Scots, unto whom it fell by lot to take the less breach of the two, stood prepared in the mean while to march on with the first, upon whom Sir J. Norreys having a jealous eye, lest any honour should be taken from our nation by their too much forwardness, suspecting that which I think they least meant, hastened so fast the march of that troop which himself led, as when he was appointed to be second, I assure myself he had been first, had it not happily fallen out that in the meanwhile....my lord General had sent a trumpet to the town, to put them in mind of their hard estate, and as it were, again to summon them to composition," which offer they accepted. [Terms of surrender.] "Immediately the town was entered, where divers disorders have been committed, as in such cases it happeneth ; though, (God be thanked) none specially notorious. The town is but poor ; nothing to answer either the need or greediness of the soldier. Capt. Burgh is appointed governor. Our whole camp is lodged so strongly between the town and the great stream of the Ysel as a far mightier enemy cannot hurt us." We have well upon 7000 foot and 2000 horse, with which we await further knowledge of the course the enemy will take. We have not lost above thirty with small shot from the walls into the trenches and platform where our ordnance played. In which place Sir John Conway, supplying the room of the Master of the Ordnance by the Lord General's commandment, did both by his pain and hazard of his person discharge the part of an able gentleman." As regards matter of charge, I can tell you no more than in my last. Here are neither musters taken or full pay appointed beyond April 12, albeit the imprests are very large, whereby the treasure draws low. The money for the Brill is stayed by Sir Tho. Cecil's order till his return thither. He has had two fits of ague, but this morning was let blood and looks better far than he did, so there is good hope he shall escape his fit tonight. Camp at Doesbourg, 6 September, 1586. Add. Endd. 3 pp. [Holland X. 8.]
Sept. 6. (fn. 3) M. HOTMAN to WILKES.
Since your departure we have come before Doesburg, and on this, the third day, have battered it so furiously with eight cannons that we had two sufficient breaches, and as our men, emulating each other (I mean the Germans and the English) were both valiantly desiring to be the first to give the assault, those of the town demanded to treat and capitulated. [Terms given.] His Excellency has permitted no violence to be used towards the burghers or what belongs to them, but although he gave orders to Mr. Norris and Mr. York to be on their guard, it was not possible to prevent the savage Irish from getting in by the breach and pillaging the churches and most part of the houses, whereat his Excellency has shown himself this evening very ill-pleased. Tomorrow he will make his entry. They tell us that the enemy is approaching. As to the matter on which I prayed you to speak to his Excellency, there has been no result as yet and I believe they scorn a poor stranger ; but God will confound hypocrites and bless his own, and I hope you will be always my friend, as hitherto. His Excellency has put as governor into this town Mr. Borowes, brother of my Lord Borowes, two gentlemen of great valour, as they have shown this day. The Marshal of the camp, going to reconnoitre the place where the cannon was to be put (his Excellency being just behind him) was wounded by a shot from an arquebus in the side, but, thank God, not dangerously. This morning Capt. Roger Williams was wounded in the arm. We [Dutch] have lost ten or twelve men, besides the wounded. I hope you will honour me with a line to tell me of your safe return to England.Camp before Doesburg, 6 September, 1586. I beg you to send the enclosed at once to M. Buzenval. Add. to "M. Wilkes, secretaire du Conseil d' Estat." Signed. Endd. Fr. 2 pp. [Holland X. 9.]
Sept. 7/17. P. BIZARI to WALSINGHAM.
As Mr. Wilkes will report all the news, this is only to beg his honour to keep him ever in his own and her Majesty's good graces. Hears with great sorrow of Mr. Robert Beale's dangerous illness.The Hague, 17 September, stilo novo. Add. Endd. Italian. 1 p. [Ibid. 10.]
As I must write to her Majesty at large, and have not much leisure, being now upon removing of the camp toward Zutphen, I pray you bear with me that I write not with my own hand. "I understand by a report....that the proceeding of justice against the Queen of Scots is deferred until a parliament, whereat I do greatly marvel, if it should be true, considering how dangerous such delay might be, for the mischief that might in the mean time be practised and attempted against her Majesty's person (though some small branches of these conspiracies be taken away) yet by the greater boughs which are not unknown to remain ; to whom (in my opinion) it were not good to give that opportunity which might be taken in so long time while a parliament may be called and assembled, and such a cause debated and determined, Wherefore I pray you....have a special respect to this case, considering what hath been already done by the oath of Association, which hath been also confirmed in Parliament, and that there may be in no wise any delays admitted to the hazard of her Majesty's person, which I doubt not but you will be most careful and circumspect to prevent."Camp at Doesbourg, 9 September, 1586. Signed. Add. Endd. 1 p. [Holland X. 11.] [The Instrument of Association, i.e. The Act for Provision to be made for the Surety of the Queen's Majesty's most Royal Person was read for the first time in the Lords, 10 March, 1585 [6] ; (27 Eliz. C.I.)
Sept. 9. "State" of the contributions granted to his Excellency by the States General for the eight months from January 10, to September 9, 1586 ; given in pounds at the rate of forty gros monnaie de Flandres la livre. Being mostly payments to captains of the country and officials. Total 1,600,000l. Endd. "Estat de la despense de huict mois de l'ordinaire." Fr. 8 pp. [Ibid. 12.]
"I have received your letters touching your servant Bruyn one of the victuallers here, whom no man hath sought (as far as I know) to put from the employment..... But himself being in talk with my servant Browne about their joining together in that service....hath made offer to Browne that as Bruyn hath victualled hitherto by himself, so Browne shall hereafter for a certain time victual the same places by himself, and neither to meddle with other's account. Which offer....if he should now find fault with, I know not whom he may justly blame but himself." I hear of nothing else in prejudice of him, and have always been ready to show him what pleasure I might, for your sake, though I have no great cause to commend his service.Camp before Doesbourg, 10 September, 1586. Signed. Add. Endd. 1 p. [Ibid. 13.]
"These onlly shall bee, in the most humble and effectuall manner I can, to desyre your thorow frendship to one of the most assured frendes that I have ever had. It is my Lord Borrow, who by Sir Tho. Cecill's choice and my L. the General's very good lyking is left by him in his absens governour of Brill. If siknes or other caws stai Sir Tho. in England, then my suit, as earnest as I can make for any thing, is that he may succeed him, for it beeing most necessary that som man of very good cowntenance remain there, he both in valeur, judgment, religion deserving it, shold be exceedingli disgrased if, being left in it by Sir Thomas, an other shold take it from him. The matter and my mynd I shal not need furder to manifest to your honor, but recomending it as my self, humbli leav you to the blessed protection of the Almighty. At the Camp by Dusburg, this 10 of September, 1586, your humble son Ph. Sidney." Holograph. Add. Endd. 1 p. Seal of arms. [Ibid. 14.]


  • 1. In May 1588, the name of Andrew van Metico occurs in a list of prisoners in the Tower, suspected of a design to kill the Queen (see Cal. S.P. Dom., 1581-1590, p. 484) ; and there is an order in the Acts of the Privy Council (1587-8, p. 51) that Andrew van Metter, the Dutchman is to be put to the torture.
  • 2. Lorrendraaijer, one who carries goods by stealth to the enemy ; one who lives by unfair dealing.
  • 3. So endorsed by Burghley's clerk, but Hotman's figure is more like XI, and VI seems impossible either by new or old style. The batteries were placed on Sept. 111, though they did not begin to play until next day.