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Calendar of State Papers Foreign: Elizabeth, Volume 22, July-December 1588. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1936.

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This volume contains the Calendar of all the Foreign Series of State Papers for the six months July to December, 1588. In it there is no longer any need, as there was in the last volume, to calendar the Holland and Flanders Series separately from the rest, because the Flanders correspondence dwindles to a few scattered letters after the rupture of the Bourbourg peace negotiations in July. Yet this volume, despite the reunion, is still concerned principally with the Netherlands. The restriction of its interest is, however, more apparent than real. In 1588 the Netherlands were not only the main theatre of the military and continental struggle against Spain, but also the one link which involved England in that struggle; and it was during this year and in her dealings with the United Provinces that Elizabeth first established those principles which were to guide her continental policy for the rest of her reign. The chief aim of this preface will therefore be to trace the development of those principles in the Queen's policy towards the Provinces during the second half of 1588. But, first, we must notice the effect upon English policy of the altered conditions under which it operated after the defeat of the Armada.


Until July, 1588, Elizabeth had been fighting Spain more or less underhand, as the accessary of the sea-dogs and the auxiliary of the Dutch. After July, 1588, she was openly and undeniably at war. The breaking off of the Bourbourg negotiations, and the actions against the Armada, served instead of a formal declaration, and, while the Spaniards dreamed of vengeance, Drake and Norris prepared to drive home the English victory by invading the Peninsula. This enlargement in the scale of the hostilities inevitably affected the Queen's policy towards the continental enemies of Spain. She must help them to maintain their resistance, but she could not become a principal in their quarrel; for only prolonged and extended operations by large armies could win a decisive victory in countries such as the Netherlands or Spain, and England was not a military power nor could her limited resources sustain a grandiose military policy. Already in three years some 378,000l. had been spent in helping the Netherlands. (fn. 1) Parliamentary taxation had risen threefold, from a yearly average of under 26,000l. during the seven years before 1585 to an average of over 72,000l. for the three years 1586–8, (fn. 2) and this, too, in a time of severe commercial depression. (fn. 3) A further large and prolonged increase could not be thought of, and yet the Exchequer with the revenues now at its disposal could barely finance even an underhand war. Its issues rose from 149,000l. in 1583 to 367,000l. in 1587 and to 420,000l. in 1588 (fn. 4); and this increase, offset only in part by the increase in taxation, had used up the surplus accumulated during the years of peace. By July, 1588, the treasury was so empty that Burghley sighed for the Armada to come to put a term to naval expenditure. (fn. 5) Nor was this merely a temporary embarrassment. In 1589, after Parliament had made a liberal grant, the Queen still had to seek to borrow no less than 100,000l. in Germany (fn. 6); and when that failed she had to sell in a single year crown lands to the value of over 125,000l. (fn. 7) It is small wonder that the Portugal expedition had to be conducted by a joint stock company in which the Queen was simply the largest partner. There was so little money available to finance her policy that she had to adapt ends very carefully to means.

England, then, could not play a large part in the continental and military conflict. Her forces, made mobile by her sea-power, had to be kept in reserve behind the armies of those foreign states which were, after all, quite as interested as she was in withstanding the designs of Spain. In 1588, fortunately, she was not called upon to use this reserve force anywhere except in the Netherlands, but even there the Queen could not afford to listen to any plans which would increase her commitments or thrust upon her the liabilities of a sovereign towards the Provinces. She had to abandon Leicester's policy finally, —a change which was made the easier by the Earl's death in September and by the sobering effect which age, ill-health, and victory had upon his henchman, Walsingham. (fn. 8) So, in spite of the protests of "idolaters of Neptune" and worshippers of Mars, the Queen steadfastly refused to wage war beyond her means and showed clearly that from henceforward she would be merely the ally of the United Provinces, not their sovereign.


Elizabeth had undoubtedly adopted this policy long before July, 1588—it is implicit in all her actions after Leicester's recall at the end of 1587—but so far it had made very slow progress. (fn. 9) Now, in July, the chief obstacle to its success was removed when the Bourbourg peace negotiations were broken off. There is no need to trace in any detail the final stages of these negotiations, because Motley based his full account of them largely upon these Papers, while Mr. Hinds has defended the Queen's policy against Motley's facile ridicule. (fn. 10) Two points alone need be mentioned. First, that these Papers show how the English government obtained through the Protestant assistant of an Antwerp printer advance copies of the Papal bull against Elizabeth and of Cardinal Allen's Admonition, thousands of which were being printed in the Spanish Low Countries (pp. 2, 46, 49, 60, 74, 84). Secondly, that the prolonging of the treaty enabled the English government to get fresh and reliable news about Parma's forces and to hear the latest Brussels reports of the Armada. Thus, Derby's shipmaster could view the shipping at Dunkirk while he unloaded beer for the Earl (p. 3); Wyatt, the Ostend commissary of musters, could assess with an equally expert eye the strength of the land forces as he journeyed from the Lord General in Zeeland to the Commissioners at Bourbourg (pp. 57, 60, 67) (fn. 11); the Commissioners could gather news from many scattered informants (pp. 3, 4, 17, 38); and Dale during his last mission to Bruges could send home, only ten days before the Armada came, a detailed account of Parma's shipping and troops (pp. 34–5, 36–7).


So long as these negotiations continued, however wise and useful they may have been in other ways, Elizabeth's new policy towards the United Provinces could not succeed. If she was to be simply the ally of those Provinces, it was essential that they should have a government possessed of the accepted authority of sovereign power and capable of defending them against Parma. In July, 1588, thanks largely to the peace treaty, no such government existed and the States, which now alone might hope to supply it, were contemned by many of their subjects, divided against themselves, and for the most part unwilling to co-operate with the English whom they disliked and mistrusted.

In Holland and Zeeland, it is true, the idea of the States' sovereignty had gained much ground of late. The provincial States had reduced their garrisons to obedience and placed them under officers devoted to Count Maurice, the commander of their joint forces (pp. 7, 20, 60, 105). The deputies of the two provinces worked together in reasonably good harmony and the growth of Oldenbarnevelt's influence helped to remedy their weakness as an executive (pp. 184–5). They had, of course, still to refer any important matters to their principals, the towns, whose jealousy of each other bred frequent quarrels and continual delays (p. 8), so that "in this popular government such present order cannot be taken as in other governments" (p. 119). Nevertheless, in Holland and Zeeland the States had crushed their rivals and were fairly well agreed about their policy. On the other hand, they were by no means friendly to England and the prospect of a good union between them and the other provinces seemed very remote.

Such a general union under the States General required the submission of the other provinces to the will of Holland, for in the States General and the Council of State "Holland beareth the sway and this proceedeth because they have the longest purse" (p. 155). The Hollanders, who claimed that they kept some 10,000 men for their neighbours' defence, (fn. 12) paid nearly two-thirds of every general contribution, (fn. 13) and therefore the others must accept their leadership if the government of the States General were to be effective. In July there seemed very little chance that they would accept it. They had all risen to defend their particular privileges against the King of Spain, and the same jealousy now determined them never to "yield to be commanded or directed by each other neither abide that one should have any superiority over the other" (p. 42). The most that could be hoped was that they would prefer co-operation with Holland to submission to Spain; that they would recognise that they now had no other alternative; and that their need of men and money would reconcile them to the ascendancy of that province which alone could supply them. In July, 1588, even this seemed too much to hope, for the sovereignty of the States General was a novel conception and Leicester had taught Utrecht, Friesland, Overijsel, and Gelderland, to look to England for support against the States and Holland. Admittedly, those provinces could not now expect an English sovereignty; but many of them still saw a way of escape in the Queen's peace negotiations. (fn. 14) Submission upon her terms to the nominal overlordship of Spain, unaccompanied by foreign troops or officials, hardly appeared a worse fate than submission to a States General where Holland ruled supreme. Thus the peace treaty prevented that general union without which Elizabeth's new policy could not succeed.

By July very little progress had been made towards unity. In Friesland the Governor, Count William of Nassau-Dillingen, and the States' party had won the upper hand and had exiled their opponents or driven them from office (pp. 290, 301). (fn. 15) Yet the opposition there and in Gelderland and Overijsel retained sufficient influence and organisation to obstruct the election of representatives to the Council of State and to hinder the voting of the provincial quotas of taxes. In all three provinces, and especially in the largely Catholic Gelderland and Overijsel where the Count of Mörs, the Governor, had yet to secure control over an ill-paid and disorderly soldiery, the people were "wearied with long wars," reluctant to pay war-taxes when peace was in the air, and, many of them, seeking better terms for themselves by a timely change of sides (pp. 42–4, 69, 119, 134–5). (fn. 16) The hope of peace encouraged their disobedience, and, as Roels wrote (pp. 83–4), if the States were themselves to countenance the Bourbourg negotiations, there would be an immediate and wholesale desertion to the Spaniard.

At Utrecht there was even greater opposition. There the town magistracy was held, and the provincial States were dominated, by the Leicestrian faction under the burgomaster Deventer. The only thing these men had in common with the Hollanders was their dislike of the peace treaty, against which envoys from their churches protested to the Queen (p. 94). In all other matters they were quite as lax as the rest (pp. 43, 118). (fn. 17) Their violence had alienated Mörs, the Governor, had driven the country gentry and their exiled opponents secretly to conspire against them, and had frustrated the efforts of Killigrew and deputies from the States General to settle the disputes which were rapidly coming to a head (pp. 70, 91). (fn. 18) Utrecht, far from accepting the supremacy of the States General, was divided against itself, and its divisions might make it an easy prey to the enemy.

Everywhere outside Holland and Zeeland there was thus disunion, and opposition to the States General— "they of Utrecht are not agreed and Friesland not quieted; in Gelderland and Overijsel want and misery besides discontentment" (p. 88). And, except at Utrecht, no improvement could be expected so long as the peace negotiations continued. Naturally the States General were reluctant to co-operate with the peace-seeking Queen, whom they suspected also of intending to betray them to their foreign enemies, purchasing her own peace with Flushing and the Brielle. Dislike was embittered into hatred, and the States remained so weak that it seemed as if the Queen must assume in every crisis a sovereign's liabilities towards them to save them in their own despite.


At the beginning of July there was a slight improvement, for by then the hope of peace had grown too like despair even for the Frisians to cherish (p. 59), and, as Killigrew said, "there is no means so ready, both to reunite the Provinces among themselves and to assure them to her Majesty, as if they were put out of hope of peace" (p. 19). Nevertheless, the rupture of the negotiations came too late to make possible any real co-operation between the States and England during the Armada campaign: indeed, that campaign revealed how little mutual confidence and goodwill there was between the two allies.

The Queen invited the States to assist her against the Armada in three ways. First, she called upon them to fulfil their Treaty obligations by sending twenty ships to reinforce her main fleet. Secondly, she asked them also to reinforce Seymour's squadron off Dunkirk. Thirdly, she sought their consent for the withdrawal of 2,000 of her troops for the defence of her own realm. Only the second of these not unreasonable requests was granted with any show of willingness.

Excuses for the States can of course be found. They were, as usual, short of money. Their ordinary garrisons and administration used up all the 20,000l. a month which their ordinary contributions produced; and their naval preparations required more than that 40,000l. which they had saved from their extraordinary contributions by not putting an army into the field this summer. Moreover, the frontier provinces were very slow in voting, and even slower in paying, their quotas (pp. 65, 90), so that there seemed little chance of any special effort being made to raise more money. Meanwhile, the burden fell mainly upon Holland and Zeeland, the two provinces which were the least well disposed towards England and which had to find large sums to appease those garrisons whom Leicester had encouraged to mutiny—they had to provide some 26,000l. to pacify Geertruidenberg in this very month (p. 87).

Then, too, the States were not yet convinced of Elizabeth's peril. They knew that, although the Armada had sailed from Lisbon on May 21, o.s., a gale had forced it back to Coruna. Rumours came from la Rochelle and were assiduously spread by Buzanval, the King of Navarre's ambassador in London, that it was presque dissipée and many in the Provinces were only too ready to believe that these rumours were true. They seemed even more credible when other news came of the failure of Maxwell's rising which, so it was said, should have provided for the Spaniards a landing place in the Scottish Marches (pp. 1, 6, 8, 25, 54, 58). At Paris friends of Spain were offering six to one against the Armada ever showing itself in the Channel (p. 5) and even the Spanish ambassador, Mendoza, had no certain news until the fleets were actually in action (pp. 13, 64). At the English court, too, "the opinion now is doubtful whether they will come or not forward." and Walsingham himself for once knew not what to think (pp. 18, 25).

This uncertainty about the Armada made the States more than usually nervous for their own safety. Even if Medina Sidonia came, they suspected that his goal would be their territories rather than England: if he did not come, they were sure that Parma would fall upon them. Parma had some 35,000 men gathered between Dunkirk and Nieuport, ready to embark at a few hours' notice, and he would not keep them idle until winter made campaigning impossible (pp. 35–7, 48). On the other hand, apart from some 200 or 300 flat-bottomed boats incapable of facing a warship or a moderate sea, he had "not above 18 mean ships" in the Flemish ports (pp. 35, 37). As Dale said, he knew not "how to pass but either by stealth"—an unlikely method for so large an army in waters so restricted as the Narrow Seas—"or to be received by the navy out of Spain" (p. 35). Admittedly, few of his enemies except Walsingham (pp. 18, 42) understood how helpless Parma was to attempt "the enterprise of England" unless the Armada first cleared the way for him; but most of them saw the dangers of an unassisted crossing and realised that, if the Armada did not come, he would probably use his army on its proper element, the land. That meant a thrust at the United Provinces, perhaps—or so many people feared—at the islands of Zeeland (pp. 8, 25). The United Provinces therefore, as Bor says, (fn. 19) were more afraid of Parma's small boats than of the great galleons of Spain, and the States were naturally reluctant to send their own ships far from home or to release any of the English troops.

Besides these difficulties and uncertainties, their suspicion of Elizabeth made the States reluctant to assist her. Leicester had given them no cause to love the English, and they now saw in the reversal of his policy merely the first step towards their betrayal to Spain. In July the Spaniards adroitly stimulated this fear by disseminating throughout the Provinces garbled versions of the terms of peace put forward by the English Commissioners at Bourbourg on June 25. According to these articles the Queen promised to surrender Flushing and the Brielle at once to Spain; had not asked for liberty of worship for the Netherlands Protestants; and had even offered to lend her own troops to impose such terms upon "the rebels" (pp. 29, 48, 49, 58, 65, 90). Killigrew did what he could to prove the falseness of these articles, but although his protests seem to have convinced most responsible men (pp. 69, 90, 152), no small impression was made "in the jealous heads of this wavering people" (pp. 49, 50, 68–9).

The effects of all this appeared in the States' replies to the Queen. Her second request was of course readily granted, since to blockade Parma's forces at Dunkirk was to cover the Provinces themselves from invasion. Thus, despite contrary winds, some twenty ships had already taken their station alongside Seymour and another fifteen or twenty under Justinus of Nassau followed early in July (pp. 8, 11, 19, 27, 45). (fn. 20) The first request, on the other hand, was never granted and the States' ships took no part in the main fleet action. Indeed, on July 4 the States of Zeeland, hearing that the Armada had returned and that Maxwell had failed, not only ordered Justinus to keep all his ships well east of the Straits of Dover but also begged the Queen to send twenty of hers to help them (p. 8, 11). Maurice modified these orders a few days later and left Justinus free to act as should seem best, provided that twenty of his ships stayed always off the coast of Flanders (p. 25); but the incident shows how selfishly nervous the States were (p. 42). Their answers to the third request, for the release of 2,000 English troops if the Armada came, showed this even more clearly. At first they demanded that the Queen should hand over to them the troops' pay for the time of their absence so that they might maintain an equal force raised from among their own subjects. Then when Willoughby had induced them to drop this demand, they still insisted that 3,000 men should be left in Bergen-op-Zoom, Ostend, and on the frontiers of Gelderland (pp. 26–8, 141). (fn. 21) In other words, the 2,000 were to be taken from the cautionary towns alone and no extra burden was to be put upon the States. Now, although some 1,550 men from the auxiliary, or field, force had been sent to Flushing and the Brielle, they had been sent there because Parma's presence in Flanders threatened those islands as well as because the States seemed to be practising to repossess those towns. Parma was still in Flanders, so it was neither unwise to spread the withdrawals over Bergen and Ostend as well as Flushing and the Brielle, nor unreasonable to ask the States to fill the places left vacant. The States, however, had no intention of making sacrifices to help an ally whom they mistrusted profoundly.

The arrival of the Armada brought at first no change of heart. News of the Channel fighting—about which the Calendar contains only a few brief accounts and the depositions of some prisoners, all quite well known already (pp. 75, 85, 100, 104, 112–3, 114–6)—reached Flushing on the 25th and the Hague a few days later (pp. 81, 88–9, 90). Thereupon Willoughby communicated the Queen's orders for the withdrawal of 1,000 of the English "shot." The States protested fiercely: "their anchor-hold is the Treaty and their towns in her Majesty's possession and the unability they stand in to furnish Berghes and Ostend with any of theirs." They refused to fill the gaps which the withdrawal would leave and complained that the departure of so many men would "break all those companies from whence they were taken and that they could hardly arrive there in sufficient time to do any service" (pp. 88–9, 91). This time Willoughby ignored their protests and at once ordered away drafts from Flushing, Bergen, and Utrecht, under the command of Sir Thomas Morgan, although delays in the arrival of shipping prevented their embarkation before August 6 (pp. 106, 113).

Meanwhile, on July 31, the Council of State heard that "a furious fight" was in progress off Gravelines, where Parma's army was waiting (p. 91). "These news," Killigrew wrote, "have wonderfully encouraged them, to hear that our ships and the Spanish are entered into fight, whereas before they were somewhat dismayed that all this time the two navies had been so near together and no more dealing, which made them conceive some suspicion all was but in show, to better the conditions of peace" (p. 92). That such words could have been written on the last day of July, 1588, shows how deep must have been the States' mistrust of England and goes far to explain their reluctance to assist her. Now, however, with the danger at their own doors, their mistrust vanished. They ordered to sea even the boats off their rivers and on August 1 they voted an extraordinary contribution of 20,000l. (pp. 91–2, 104, 118).

By then the Battle of Gravelines had been fought and the Armada was in full flight to the northward (p. 104). The States General accordingly wrote to congratulate the Queen and to assure her that they would continue to reinforce their shipping, while the States of Zeeland in adding their congratulations claimed with superb effrontery that the victory was solely due to their blockade of Dunkirk (pp. 110–1). The Queen rated their help less highly, complaining that their ships had come too late and that they "had not dealt with the enemy." Her criticism, though it may have been untimely (pp. 119, 143–4), was most certainly just. The success of " the enterprise of England" had depended upon the Armada's ability to secure an unchallenged crossing for Parma's army, and against the Armada the States' ships had done nothing, except to count the corpses left in its wake (p. 158) and to destroy three galleons so battered already by English gunfire that they could not escape from the Flemish sandbanks (pp. 104, 105, 111–2, 114–5). (fn. 22) The States had certainly helped to blockade Dunkirk; but even when allowance is made for the contemporary failure to understand Parma's weakness on the sea, it still seems a little disproportionate that his "18 mean ships" should have immobilised the whole naval power of the United Provinces and that even so Justinus could not be depended upon to set free Seymour's forty ships for the Channel fighting or for the pursuit after Gravelines (pp. 104, 132).


Now that England and Spain after the Armada actions were openly at war, Elizabeth, as we have seen, had to husband her resources very carefully and could not well afford to give to the United Provinces more than the limited assistance which she had promised to them in the Treaty of 1585. Yet, unless the sovereignty of the States General were much more firmly established and its government were made much more effective, it seemed as if she must in her own interest increase her commitments very considerably in order to save them from Parma. The siege of Bergen-op-Zoom in this autumn revealed how great was this danger and how determined Elizabeth was to avoid it.

Bergen-op-Zoom was a place of the greatest importance. Its loss would leave Tholen and other islands at Parma's mercy, would make communication between Holland and Zeeland precarious, and would create a breach in those hitherto impregnable river defences of the two provinces upon whom the rest so largely depended. Yet its loss seemed by no means unlikely, for although it lay beside the sea and Parma was so weak in shipping, his armies might surround it on the landward side and then close the harbour by placing cannon upon the dikes (pp. 143–4). Besides, at this moment some 358 of its English garrison were in England with Morgan, another 169 or more were absent for other reasons (pp. 132, 137), and Willoughby found the place "so unprovided of men, munitions, and victuals" that he thought it "not in any sort tenable" (pp. 136, 143).

The English commanders expected little help from the States, who were still chronically short of money. (fn. 23) Taxes were certainly coming in better now that there was no longer any hope of peace, but the four frontier provinces had not yet voted their quotas and the Hollanders were still discharging soldiers because they had no means of paying them (pp. 119, 141). Moreover, their heaviest extraordinary charge continued, for there was no certain news of the Armada (pp. 121, 158, 171, 176) and the States, like the Queen, had to keep their ships in pay throughout August lest it should return or lest Parma should attempt to cross unassisted to England (pp. 113, 118, 158, 172) or the islands of Zeeland (p. 159). Their expenses were swollen still more because they could not tell where in their territories Parma would seek to win his Austerlitz when he knew that Medina Sidonia had met his Trafalgar. Ostend, despite its decayed ramparts and its mutinous garrison (pp. 152, 166), was too small a prize, but the States hardly realised that their naval supremacy made unlikely that descent upon the islands which Russell feared (pp. 42, 122, 175–7). Then, too, there was Gelderland, a divided and war-weary province, with most of its countryside and some of its towns already Spanish and the rest too poor to pay its garrisons. It seemed peculiarly in danger, for the war of Cologne, begun by Archbishop Truchsess' conversion to Protestantism, would soon cease to distract the Spaniards' attention from that quarter. The Prince of Chimay and Colonel Verdugo, to whose aid Count Peter Ernest of Mansfelt was marching, were besieging Bonn, and, if Bonn fell, the already blockaded Rheinberg would be in grave peril and the frontiers of Gelderland, Overijsel, and even of Utrecht, would lie open to invasion. The besiegers of Bonn were certainly weak, poor, and mutinous, but they were stronger than any forces that the States could bring against them. Truly it seemed that "if Bonn and Bergh be not relieved, those provinces will not continue long in the union with the rest unless they may find some more comfort than Holland and Zeeland can afford them . . . . and if the Prince of Parma should bend his forces that way . . . . all were gone" (pp. 43–4, 65, 134–5). The States were thus compelled to spend something upon the defence of that quarter. They sent some supplies to the garrisons and at the end of July they voted credit for 30,000 florins to Colonel Schenk, the soldier of fortune who held a roving commission from Truchsess upon the frontiers of Gelderland. Troops were also appointed to join him, among them the English horsebands from those parts (pp. 20, 43–4, 87–8, 90). But the force was too small, the States' troops were very slow in coming up, and Willoughby made some difficulty about sending the English outside the Provinces, especially as the States would neither provide for them at their setting out nor promise them convenient garrison at their return (pp. 150, 187, 193). So Bonn could not be saved, though Schenk in a brilliant little campaign managed to revictual Rheinberg, to take a house or two near Nijmwegen, and to put the frontier into a state of defence sufficient to check Mansfelt's now inevitable invasion (pp. 187, 215, 246). Not very much had been achieved, but the effort had used up men and money sorely needed for Bergen.

This uncertainty about the direction of Parma's attack not only increased the States' expenses, but also made it difficult for them to concentrate their forces, since the local authorities were very reluctant to weaken any of their garrisons when there was no army in the field. Their obstructiveness was the more difficult to overcome because the federal executive, the Council of State, had no control over the revenues and could only pay the captains with bills upon particular provinces or towns. The captains therefore obeyed their local paymasters and were reluctant to move far away from them. Again, when the States General were in session, their jealousy of the Council made them the real executive, and there were therefore long delays in getting orders or money (pp. 28, 42, 155, 184, 197, 388). Only the dominance of Holland saved from disaster this fantastic method of waging war by a sort of international conference; but even the States of Holland had often to refer matters back to their principals, which meant further delays (pp. 42, 155). While the political executive was so weak, there was not even a single military high command. Maurice commanded the joint forces of Holland and Zeeland and those two provinces tried to get the rest to accept him also, but the most that they could obtain was that he should command the forces in Brabant as well as their own (p. 185). Finally, the States' officers were quarrelling with the English and the English were quarrelling amongst themselves. Maurice and Russell remained on bad terms despite the mediation of Walsingham's agent, Burnham; and Willoughby and Russell only settled their dispute over the appointment of captains at Flushing at the end of August (pp. 8, 9, 30–1, 49, 65, 69, 82, 134). Worst of all, when Sir William Reade retired, the States had appointed Sir William Drury as governor of Bergen, whilst the Queen had simultaneously recommended Sir Thomas Morgan, a rather querulous but far more experienced officer. The States, supported by Willoughby, refused to make any change unless the Queen expressly deprived Drury, and Morgan had met with such opposition that he had threatened to leave the Queen's service and seek his fortune with Schenk (pp. 11, 20–1, 45, 92–3, 164). Instead, he had taken the 1,000 "shot" to England, and his success in urging his cause in person at the Court (p. 206) was hardly likely to increase the harmony in the Netherlands.

Thus, little had been done to assure Bergen. Maurice had made a tour of the frontiers of Holland and had put Famas in charge of Heusden, whose former governor, Isenstene, was suspected of treachery (pp. 185, 199, 215). He had then gone to provide for the defence of Tholen, while Willoughby did what he could at Bergen itself, to which the States sent some victuals and munitions and seven companies of foot (p. 160).

Willoughby despaired of holding the town and it seemed that the Queen must considerably increase her Netherlands commitments if the States were to be saved from serious disaster. She was willing to bear her share of the burden, but she would not send over large reinforcements until the need for them became obvious and it was clear where they were most required. By the end of August both these conditions were fulfilled. On the 24th news arrived that the Armada had been sighted west of the Orkneys, steering for Spain. (fn. 24) It was not until early in September that its presence off the west coast of Ireland was reported, and its return to Spain was not known until even later (p. 232); but it was already clear that Medina Sidonia would not return into the Narrow Seas. At the same time Parma began to show his hand. When he failed to use the spring tides of late August, everyone realised that it was now "too late for his small boats to put to sea this year upon these coasts" (p. 160), and on the 24th news came that he had broken up his camp and marched off into Brabant (p. 158). (fn. 25) Five days later 12,000 of his troops were within a day's march of Bergen (p. 164).

Thereupon the Queen began cautiously to move. The States had asked her on August 27 to send back the troops which were in England and at the same time they called vainly upon Russell to send 300 men from Flushing to Bergen (pp. 140–2, 152, 163–4). On September 2nd both requests were granted, for Elizabeth ordered the troops to return at once and gave instructions that three companies from Flushing, two from Ostend, and one from the Brielle should be sent to Bergen. But Willoughby, when he informed the States of these orders, was also to threaten that the Queen would withdraw all her forces from the town if it were not made thoroughly defensible (pp. 178–9, 180).

Almost before these orders could arrive, the siege began (September 12th). Willoughby tried to hinder the besiegers and returned from two skirmishes "though not a conqueror yet no loser," but he could do little with the meagre forces at his disposal and by the 14th Parma's army was "encamped on every side the town within cannon-shot." The garrison thereupon set to work to improve the defences of the place and a series of fortifications were set in hand which would have delighted the hearts of Uncle Toby and Corporal Trim. Morgan's arrival with the troops from England was a mixed blessing, for he had the Queen's commission to command the town and he pitched his demands high; but fortunately the States sent Maurice and others to mediate, and Morgan reluctantly agreed to content himself with the government of the town, leaving the forts to Drury (pp. 204–5, 207, 209–11, 219, 228–9, 271–2). There was ample work for them both, for the situation seemed almost desperate. The town needed 3,000 men or more for its defence, and the wide circle of the forts required fully another 2,000. Yet, even when Willoughby had drawn 100 men from Geertruidenberg and as many from Utrecht, and when the drafts from Flushing and Ostend came in, there were but 2,028 foot and 340 horse for the town and 1,335 foot for the forts. There were practically no pioneers, so that the troops had to do most of their own digging and were both "over-laboured and over-watched" —unless indeed the lack of shovels lightened their labours, for the States had sent only 200 of the 4,000 which had been asked for (pp. 207, 237, 251, 290–1). Such was the garrison which had to contend with Parma's 30,000 men (pp. 251, 323).

Fortunately, the news that Bergen was besieged roused both the States and the Queen. The Council of State after days of vain debating managed to send a few more men and fairly adequate supplies, but lack of money was gravely handicapping their efforts. Then, early in October, the States of Holland came to the rescue and gave "order for all things in very good measure" (pp. 181–5, 193, 207, 215–6, 238, 246, 251, 253, 297). Elizabeth, too, now decided that it was time to throw in her reserves. On September 24th she resolved to send Sir John Norris, with 500 men raised from among the Netherlands refugees, and another 1,500 English troops whose cost she insisted that the States should promise to repay (pp. 220, 247).

These 2,000 men would just make the garrison up to the 5,000 which Willoughby considered necessary (pp. 207, 220, 251), but they could not be ready to embark before the middle of October (p. 257) and before they could arrive, the crisis of the siege occurred. In the first week of October Parma tried to complete his investment by closing the harbour. He made a feint against Tholen to contain the 3,000 men which Maurice had there, while he placed his cannon precariously upon a dike commanding the harbour entrance. He then prepared to sieze the North Fort, which commanded the advanced position on the dike (pp. 246, 249, 258, 266). He hoped to take the fort quite cheaply, for one Redhead had just brought from Lieutenant William Grimston a most opportune offer to betray one of its gates. Grimston, however, had overreached "so wise and learned a master of his own art" and had made his offer with the knowledge, if not at the suggestion, of Willoughby. So, when the Spaniards came against the fort on the night of October 10th, they found its ramparts crowded with alert English troops and, after a sharp fight, during which one of the English cannon "shaked down" part of the rampart instead of hitting the enemy, they were completely routed, leaving many prisoners and more dead (pp. 258, 264–6, 271, 307). (fn. 26) The feint against Tholen and a later demonstration against Tergoes were also repulsed with heavy losses (pp. 254, 271, 273).

With these failures the end of the siege was in sight.

The winter rains made the ways so deep that, in spite of the eagerness of the Holland and Zeeland merchants to profit by their enemies' necessities, all things were excessively scarce and dear in the besiegers' camp (pp. 220, 234, 254, 265, 323). (fn. 27) The zeal of those many noblemen who had come to win renown with the victorious legions of Parma was not proof against such hardships and their discontentment "grew unto a kind of mutiny" (pp. 298, 308). Finally the 2,000 men from England were by now in Zeeland (p. 273). So, some ten days after the failure at the North Fort, Parma withdrew all his cannon from the harbour-mouth and evacuated his camp on that side of the town. Then, on November 3rd he burned his other camp and marched his army off into winter quarters in Flanders and Brabant, leaving only some few regiments in Rosendaal, Breda, Colemphout and Hoogstraaten to curb the forays of the victorious defenders of Bergen (pp. 281, 299, 300, 305–6, 312, 323, 326). He had lost about a third of his troops and the survivors were so exhausted that there was "no great cause to fear any of his attempts this winter." The King of Spain had, as Elizabeth had hoped, received "no less blemish by land than he hath done by sea" (pp. 249, 308, 323).

The English forces were chiefly responsible for this. They had borne the brunt of the actions, they had planned and executed the stratagem at the North Fort, and in October they numbered no less than 2,437 of the 3,723 men who formed the town's garrison (pp. 290–1). When the 2,000 whom Norris brought over are added to these, it will be seen that the forces in the Queen's pay in and around Bergen were almost as numerous as those which the States had there, in Tholen, and in Tergoes. The successful defence of Bergen against the finest army in Europe, led by the greatest captain of the age, reflected no less credit upon England's soldiers than the rather disappointing Armada actions did upon her sailors. Elizabeth, too, had shown that she was prepared to exert herself when the States were in serious danger, and so, even among the Hollanders, confidence in the goodwill and sincerity of England began to revive and Killigrew was able to write that they "now begin again to conceive very well of us" (p. 266). On the other hand, Elizabeth's insistence that the States should promise to repay the cost of the 1,500 men proved that this extra assistance which she had given to them did not imply any departure from her new policy. Those men had been sent because the precarious military situation in the Netherlands required the use of the English reserves, not because the Queen was willing in any sense to accept the liabilities of a sovereign towards the Provinces.


During this autumn the mission of Sir John Norris afforded further proof that in normal times the Queen would give to the Provinces no more help than the Treaty of 1585 prescribed and that she would even expect them sometimes to assist her. Norris, who arrived in the Netherlands at the end of October, brought not only the extra forces for the relief of Bergen, but also the Queen's permission to ask the States for 2,000 men, with munitions, transports, and ten warships, for the Portugal expedition (pp. 221, 247). It seems that at first the Queen had no intention of employing any of the English auxiliary forces, but the news that Bergen was safe apparently led her to insist upon the restriction of her commitments not merely to the Treaty limits but also for a time to an even lower level. Norris was responsible for this. His preliminary negotiations with the States of Holland had somewhat disappointed his first hopes, for although they were ready to provide ships and supplies, they protested that they had no troops to spare. Therefore, as the expedition badly needed experienced soldiers, Norris on October 29th suggested to the Privy Council that although he had no hope of getting the States' promise to repay the cost of the 1,500 men sent to Bergen, yet "her Majesty shall not have any so good means to prevail herself of that charge as to give us leave to have ten of the old companies with us" (pp. 244, 273, 284, 288, 312). A fortnight later he sent Sir Roger Williams with a formal request for them and for six of the horsebands as well (pp. 311–3). The Queen promptly agreed (p. 336); indeed, she did more, for, when on November 26th Norris next met the States of Holland, he asked not for ten but for thirteen of the footbands, besides the six horsebands, a total of 2,000 foot and 600 horse. (fn. 28) It was not a welcome request, and when the States General met early in December their consent was not easy to obtain. On December 6th they did consent but they insisted that 2,000 foot (13 companies) and 200 horse (two companies) should remain in Bergen, 1,000 foot (seven companies) in Ostend, and the remaining 200 horse upon the eastern frontiers. The 2,000, that is to say, were to be taken from the cautionary towns, and the Queen's counterstroke against Spain was not to be allowed to increase the States' share in the burden of defending their own territories. It is only fair to add that the States were promising to repay the cost of maintaining these troops for the five months for which they were released—even if, as Burghley once noted, the date of that repayment was the Greek kalends.

The States granted Norris' other requests more readily, though not quite in full. They gave him permission to buy all the munitions and other supplies for which he asked, and they promised to equip and maintain for the five months ten of their warships. They allowed him, at his own or the Queen's charge, to hire 22 or 24 of their ships as transports. They agreed to send eight of their footbands, increased on December 14th to ten (1,600 men), though they would give them only a month's pay with a small bonus for their initial expenses. Finally, they agreed willingly that the turbulent garrison of Geertruidenberg should also go—in the Queen's pay and if it could be induced to leave the town. With these promises Norris returned to England (pp. 361, 371, 378, 402), (fn. 29) leaving his brother and the loudly protesting Willoughby to supervise the final preparations and embarkation (pp. 373, 383, 389, 390–1).

Norris had not perhaps obtained quite such an "honorable assistance" as he had hoped for at the first, but his mission had demonstrated to the States the Queen's sincerity in the common cause. It had also shown her determination to limit her liabilities in the Netherlands in normal times to that amount which the Treaty prescribed. She would accept the liabilities of an ally but not those of a sovereign.


Elizabeth also emphasised this determination by supporting—or more accurately by refusing to obstruct— the efforts of the States General and the Hollanders to assert their authority over the frontier provinces. By breaking off the peace negotiations and by entering upon open war with Spain she had done much to make Gelderland, Overijsel and Friesland see that they must now either co-operate with the States General or else submit to Spain; and they were not yet so poor and war-weary that they were ready to choose the second of these alternatives. Opposition of course still persisted, particularly in Friesland where it was strong enough to delay the sending of the provincial deputies to the Council of State until well into October (pp. 215, 253). But by the end of August all these three provinces had agreed to pay their quotas in the general contributions and Gelderland and Overijsel had promised to send their deputies to the Council. Digges could now write that "Utrecht, Friesland, some parts of Gelders, the towns over Ijsel and in the Veluwe, who long disjoined ran single courses by themselves, are now upon conclusion of a good accord" (pp. 155, 160). Late in October the Frisian opposition made another attempt to obtain English support when they wrote urging the Queen to send 3,000 men, in her pay, to expel the Spaniards, to seize Groningen, and to win for herself the sovereignty of Friesland by crushing all those whose hostility to the Hollanders was less violent than their own (p. 287). The Queen was deaf to their suggestion, and they, left to their own resources, gradually lost their influence in provincial politics.

In Utrecht even greater progress towards unity was made during this autumn, although by more violent methods. (fn. 30) Early in August Killigrew and deputies from the States General had succeeded in patching up an agreement between the Governor, Count Mors, and the faction led by Deventer (pp. 109, 234, 348), but this was no more than a very hollow truce. The annual election of the town magistrates and militia captains would take place on October 1st and the Provincial Court, upon the present magistrates' information, had summoned the exiles' leaders to appear before it at about the same time to stand their trial for treason. So the exiles had to act quickly, to prevent the re-election of their enemies and to save themselves from conviction. A conflict was inevitable and imminent, and in that conflict the odds would be against Deventer, whose enemies could rely at least upon the acquiescence of Mors and the sympathy of Holland (p. 247). Deventer therefore appealed to the English to save him.

Even before this, on July 27th, the Leicestrian faction had despatched Captain Nicolaas van Meetkerke to England (p. 86) to entreat the Queen to keep four (and in times of emergency ten) companies of her auxiliary forces and 100 horse in that province. Meetkerke also had secret instructions to find whether or not the Queen would listen to a fresh offer of the hereditary sovereignty, or of the temporary protectorate, over the United Provinces. He was, further, to urge her to recommend the re-election of Deventer and the present magistrates; and to ask that the English troops in the town and its dependencies should be placed under their orders. Finally, he was to persuade her to send 3,000 men, paid for by a tax upon the Low Country refugees, ostensibly to secure Utrecht by expelling the Spaniards from Gelderland (pp. 134–6). Three weeks after Meetkerke's departure the captains of the town militia resolved to stay in office for another year, and when on August 20th the town council approved of their resolution, they showed their gratitude by sending Frans Gerritsz., one of their number, to urge Elizabeth and Leicester to recommend the re-election of Deventer and the present magistrates as well. Gerritsz. accomplished his mission with extraordinary speed, for by September 13th he was back in Utrecht bringing with him the desired letters (pp. 181–2).

In writing these letters Elizabeth apparently acted upon the advice of Leicester alone. Certainly she did not consult Walsingham, who disapproved of her action. Yet, even so, she wrote circumspectly and was careful to state that she recommended Deventer because Mörs and the States had both assured her that all their differences were at an end and because she understood (from Leicester, of course) that Deventer was a man of skill and experience in government. It was not a declaration in favour of the Leicestrian faction, but an exhortation to concord. In fact, it looks as if Mörs by his subtlety had defeated his own purpose. His assurances that all their quarrels were ended were probably meant to keep Elizabeth from making any pronouncement at all until Deventer was overthrown and it was too late for her to intervene. The request, which he made in the same letters (pp. 109, 157, 164), that she would come to no decision upon any complaints or suggestions made against him until she had heard his side of the case, certainly suggests that his intention merely was to checkmate the efforts of Meetkerke and Gerritsz.

As it was, the Queen's letters helped to precipitate the conflict. When Gerritsz. presented them on September 13th, Mörs promptly opened a correspondence with the exiles and malcontents. He also induced a section of the provincial States to join him in writing a protest to the Queen, and on the 16th he formally protested to the town council against the militia captains practising with the English without his knowledge or consent. Next day the council took up his challenge by voting their approval of the captains' action, and open hostilities began. Throughout the following week the town was agitated by panics and wild rumours. The exiles assembled outside the walls, little groups of them met at private houses within the town, and others tampered with Captain Cleerhagen's company of foot in the Vaert fort. The Leicestrians likewise held secret meetings, and Deventer wrote begging Willoughby to come to protect him. He called Cleerhagen's company into the town on the 20th, waylaid Christopher Blount's English horseband which was on its way to join Schenk, and refused to send Champernon's footband to Bergen.

Then on September 24th Gerritsz. and the other militia captains decided, without informing Mörs, to change the stations of the watch and to practise an imaginary alarm that evening. That night Mörs stayed quietly in his house but, apparently by his orders, some of the malcontents kept counter-watch in their houses. The officer of the watch discovered some of these men in the house of one Gijsbrechsz. and promptly, in the middle of the night, summoned Deventer and certain of the council to the town-hall. Four cannon were placed in front of the building, Blunt's troopers were called up from the outskirts of the town, and the Scout, Trillo, was despatched to arrest the suspects. By the time he had brought them to the town-hall, all the burghers had rushed into the streets in a panic. They seemed very hostile to Deventer and it proved impossible to bring up powder for the cannon. They easily persuaded Blunt's men to remain inactive and they rabbled, wounded, and arrested Cleerhagen, whose leaderless and bewildered soldiers allowed themselves to be thrust out of the town. By morning Deventer, Trillo, and Gerritsz. were also prisoners, and the rest had fled over the walls. Thereupon Mörs threw off the mask and, with the consent of the remaining magistrates and deputies of the provincial States, named a new town council and new militia captains, all of them his friends (pp. 225, 253, 317). He then made an agreement with those outside the town, recalled the exiles, and published an amnesty for all except the opposing leaders (pp. 254, 257, 268, 270–1). A little later, and as if to emphasise the real significance of the alteration, the States of Holland sent an Amsterdam footband into the town (p. 302).

The worst obstacle to a general union under the States General had been removed, and a party devoted to Mörs, ready like him to co-operate closely with Holland, gained full control over the machinery of government and over the armed forces of the one province and city where hitherto the opposition had held those advantages. That opposition, deprived of the forces and the influence and organisation which such a constitutional basis alone could give to their party, rapidly broke in pieces now that they could no longer lean upon the support of England.

The change at Utrecht practically ended that serious provincial opposition to the States General and Holland which had been the legacy of Leicester's government. As early as October 1st Killigrew could write that "the controversies for which it pleased her Majesty to continue my service here the longer, are all appeased save this new brabble at Utrecht" (p. 233). Soon afterwards Friesland sent its deputies to the Council of State (p. 253) and Utrecht promised to do the same (p. 271). When the States General met at the end of November, there were unwonted signs of harmony, although the Utrecht deputies failed to bring sufficiently full instructions and Gelderland was still rather restless. (fn. 31) How successfully the Hollanders had established their ascendancy, which alone could make the general union effective, is shown by Gilpin's remark that "the 19th article of the Treaty, concerning the equality of government and counsels, must be looked unto and maintained or else new controversies and divisions will still fall out" (p. 342).

The other provinces were, of course, still jealous of Holland and this prevented any reform of the slow and cumbrous federal administration. For example, Holland and Zeeland could not get the other provinces to accept Maurice as their governor and commander (pp. 252, 309), though he was now generally regarded as "chief of the wars" (p. 302). Fortunately he was able to work in close concert with Mörs, the governor of Utrecht, Gelderland, and Overijsel, and with Count William of NassauDillingen, the governor of Friesland, and this triumvirate was now free from serious rivals, since Hohenlohe had gone on a lengthy mission to Denmark and Germany (pp. 44, 186, 267, 388). They were, too, the good friends of Holland, the obedient servants of the States, and the henchmen of Oldenbarnevelt whose influence was now becoming more and more dominant there. Thus, by the end of 1588 the sovereignty of the States General, whatever the defects of its machinery, was firmly established throughout the provinces. Elizabeth's new policy of alliance had obtained this most essential foundation, for lack of which its success had seemed so unlikely during the greater part of 1588.


Towards the end of the year Elizabeth also made a serious effort to settle those other differences, most of them inherited from Leicester's time, which hindered the smooth working of the alliance. These may be classed under five main heads:—(1) disputes over the treatment of Leicester's followers and other malcontents, (2) disputes about the strength of the English forces, (3) disputes about the accounts for the past three years, (4) the question of the Council of State's powers, and (5) trade quarrels.

(1) The disputes over the treatment of the malcontents were by now formal rather than serious, for the Queen did not mean to spend money in helping them or to do anything which would make them more reluctant to submit to the States. She refused, as we have seen, to listen to the plan of the Frisian opposition that she should send 3,000 men to that province; and Meetkerke was hardly more successful in getting her to help those of Utrecht. Another plan (obviously the work of those whose devotion to Leicester had marred their prospects in the northern provinces), for the re-conquest of Flanders by a force of 6 or 7,000 men paid for by the Netherlands refugees, met with an equally cold reception, though Sir John Conway—an unreliable judge—later thought such an enterprise practicable (pp. 216–7, 377). Elizabeth, in fact, was seeking to reconcile every one to the States. This is shown, for example, by her attitude to the mutinous garrison of Geertruidenberg. This mutiny threatened to be even more dangerous than that of Sonoy at Medemblik had been, for Geertruidenberg was almost as important as Bergen-op-Zoom for the defence of Holland and its garrison was hinting that if the States would not grant their demands they would go over to the enemy (p. 50). Early in July Willoughby had patched up an agreement (pp. 44, 55–7, 63–4) which cost the States some 26,000l. (p. 87), but the garrison remained turbulent (pp. 140, 160). They would not obey the States, but professed to hold the town for the Queen; they would not be commanded by Schenk or any of the States' officers (p. 55), but chose Willoughby's brotherin-law, Sir John Wingfield, as their nominal governor (pp. 66–7, 83, 118); and whilst they would seldom allow men to leave for service elsewhere (p. 371), they robbed the surrounding countryside (p. 118) and held the river trade to ransom (pp. 234, 254). Elizabeth demanded that a proper inquiry should be made into their grievances, but she refused to support them against the States, and had written to urge them to agreement. (fn. 32) Her letter was not delivered because Willoughby had already made the agreement by the time it arrived, but her representatives continued to strive for a reconciliation (pp. 90, 104, 118). Indeed, Willoughby's promise that he would secure the town for the States proved a serious embarrassment to him, as the States kept pressing him to perform it although he had no more control over the garrison than they had. In fact, here as elsewhere, a general reconciliation proved to be impossible, because the malcontents would not support a system which they existed to overthrow and the States, once they had won the upper hand, sought utterly to destroy opponents with whom they could never hope to co-operate. Once the Queen understood this, she contented herself with seeking, by diplomatic means alone, to obtain a fair settlement and discharge for the malcontents. They seem to have realised that this was the most that they could now expect, and most of them asked merely that she would use her influence to clear them of the charges brought against them and to secure the payment of their arrears. Such were the requests of Sonoy (pp. 207–8, 250), of Saravia and the exiles of Leyden (p. 213), and of Deventer and Cleerhagen after the alteration at Utrecht (p. 349). Others, like Fremin and young Meetkerke (pp. 106, 289), asked to be taken into the Queen's pay. Sonoy was not above hinting at his need of a pension (pp. 207–8), Caron obtained one (p. 259), and Engelstedt asked for a licence to do a little gun-running for his own profit and the assistance of the opposition in Friesland (p. 290). The Queen did what she could for them, but mere diplomatic intervention could achieve little now that the States knew that it would not be supported by force. Schenk had received some help for the relief of Bonn and Rheinberg (pp. 20, 87, 90, 119), but it had been given too late and he was once more discontented (pp. 246–7). Willoughby's letters urging a reconciliation in Friesland and Overijsel (pp. 19, 43) had done little more than help the Holland party there into the saddle and Killigrew's mediation at Utrecht had much the same effect. It was, indeed, "no time to strive against the generality for this or that private person" (p. 234). Yet, so long as complaints continued to be made to her, the Queen must make some show of helping those who had served her late Lieutenant so eagerly but so unwisely.

(2) The disputes over the strength of the English forces were less easy to settle. Elizabeth by the Treaty of 1585 was bound to keep in the Netherlands 5,000 footmen and 1,000 horse—the auxiliary forces—whose cost the States were to repay at the end of the war, besides the garrisons of the cautionary towns (900 in Flushing and 500 in the Brielle) whose cost the States were not bound to repay. The States' first complaint about these forces was that many of the auxiliaries were in the cautionary towns and therefore not at their disposal (pp. 142, 241, 282, 283, 288). This complaint was true, for some 1,550 of the auxiliaries were in those two towns (pp. 137, 263), although since Parma had left Flanders the islands were no longer in danger. The difficulty was that the Governors held commissions independent of the Lord General's authority and, as they were acutely conscious of the dislike which the burghers felt for their heavily indebted foreign garrisons, would never allow those garrisons to be weakened except upon specific orders from the home government (pp. 48, 50, 122, 133, 140, 163, 187, 379).

The States' second complaint was that the foot in the auxiliary forces were only half as strong as they should have been and that the horse numbered barely 400 (pp. 215, 241, 282). The truth of this charge is not easy to discover. The total forces, cautionary as well as auxiliary, were nominally 6,400 foot and 1,000 horse. From this we must deduct 10 per cent. for dead pays, and also 100 horsemen for Sir Thomas Knollys' band which existed only upon paper. This leaves 5,760 foot and 800 horse. Of these the August musters showed as actually serving 5,145 foot and 596 horse, including the 700 (nominally 1,000) foot sent to England at the time of the Armada (pp. 132, 137–8). These figures scarcely justify the States' complaints, except in the horse whose weakness was admitted and which the Queen would not reinforce because she was waiting for the States to reply to her suggestion that 600 of them should be replaced by 1,200 foot (pp. 191, 250). But musters in sixteenth century armies were notoriously corrupt, and there is no reason to believe that the English were an exception to the rule. The new commissary-general of musters, James Digges (pp. 109–10, 119, 159, 163), and others alleged that captains passed camp followers as soldiers, bribed soldiers to answer to the names of absentees as well as to their own, and joined the contractors in defrauding both the Queen and their men (pp. 294, 347, 413). The commissaries of musters were not always capable or willing to stop these frauds. They stayed long enough in one place to become friendly with the captains, they sometimes accepted a weekly allowance from them, and since the lapse of Leicester's regulations they had no clear orders to guide their conduct (pp. 229, 231, 255–6, 272, 280, 296–7). One, if Webbes may be believed, even admitted that "he cannot skill to keep any reckoning" (p. 14). Much of this evidence may perhaps be unreliable. Digges, for example, was a new broom eager to emphasise the cleanness of his sweeping; Webbes was a not incorruptible office-seeker; and against their complaints must be set Willoughby's assertion that the bands at Bergen were fair and full (p. 204). Nevertheless, there is probably some truth in complaints which were made from so many quarters.

That there was some truth in them seems the more probable because fraud must have been greatly encouraged by the economy which was forced upon the Queen by the emptiness of her Exchequer. No full pay had been made for eighteen months and by October 11th two years' arrears were owing (pp. 293, 298). The saving to the Queen was considerable. Under the new establishment of March, 1588, full pay with clothing allowance for one year came to 125,389l. 13s. 4d.; lendings with clothing allowance for one year came to only 101,418l. 11s. 4d.; a saving of 23,971l. 2s. (pp. 343–4). Actually, the Queen had saved in this way some 70,629l. (p. 277) of the 252,000l. which the Netherlands should have cost her between October, 1586, and October, 1588. This was doubtless a great help to her harrassed Exchequer, but it meant that a captain who kept his band full would have little, despite his dead pays, with which to replace lost men and equipment, to relieve his sick, and to ransom prisoners. To meet these expenses he might have to pledge not only his personal credit but also part of his company's equipment or horses with the citizens of the town where he was in garrison. This would neither encourage him to keep his band full nor make the townsmen more friendly to the soldiers (pp. 58, 134, 137, 162–3, 194, 274, 345, 352–5). It was a direct incentive to him to get money by mustering camp followers and non-existent soldiers. To make matters worse, even lendings had been hard to get this summer. The 18,000l. issued to Sir Thomas Shirley, the Treasurer at Wars, on May 27th was all used up by August (pp. 113, 122, 137, 171, 177), and for some weeks the garrison of the Brielle had to borrow its lendings from the town revenues (pp. 68, 141) while the Bergen and Ostend troops were victualled from the States' stores (p. 144). A further 12,000l. was issued in August, but there was some delay before it could reach the troops (pp. 171, 187, 194, 204) who were by now more than ever "in extreme misery by the long delay of full pay" (p. 297).

Their misery can only have been increased by an attempt which the Queen made this autumn to check fraud. She ordered that lendings should be paid by poll and that nothing should be paid for absentees until they rejoined their company (pp. 141–2, 147–8). The captains and Willoughby protested vigorously, and Russell at Flushing refused to enforce the order since many of his captains threatened to resign their commissions (pp. 199, 204, 205, 239); but protests were useless, for the time was "not seasonable to urge her Majesty to any increase of disbursements" (p. 179). The order can only have encouraged the captains still further in fraud, though it was designed to secure better payment for those of their men who were actually serving.

All these things suggest that the muster rolls probably gave an optimistic estimate of the strength of the English forces, and it is certain that fraud and corruption undermined their efficiency. The soldiers were inclined to desert and to mutiny (pp. 68, 69, 100–1), and too often the captains were not there to preserve discipline. Many of them went to England attended by a dozen or more of their band to help in training troops there in case of invasion, and skilled officers were so scarce that the government winked at their absence until the danger from the Armada had passed (pp. 27, 55, 192, 239). Some apparently farmed out their bands to their lieutenant for a yearly rent (p. 162), and when the Ostend garrison mutinied in August only four of the eleven captains who should have been there were present (p. 175).

The story of the Ostend mutiny shows clearly how the Queen's enforced economy and the malpractices of her officers might undermine the efficiency of her troops. Ostend was always a garrison which English soldiers shunned. The arduous work of guarding this isolated outpost against the hourly meance of attack (pp. 3, 26, 113, 364, 403) and of patching its decayed ramparts and sea-walls (pp. 223, 326, 340–1, 376–7) was not relieved by any of those comforts which other garrisons enjoyed. The townsmen were too few and poor to provide lodgings or "such other aids called service" (p. 166) and perhaps encouraged the troops in disorder (pp. 167, 341). Most of the houses were derelict, and the men slept on straw (pp. 166, 238) and had to get food (except perhaps fish) and all other supplies, even fuel, by sea from England or Holland (p. 279) at prices which consumed their inadequate weekly lendings. To these men the two years' delay of full pay—between 12th October, 1587, and 11th August, 1588, they received some 12,542l. instead of the full amount of some 18,967l. (p. 131)—was obviously a severe hardship (pp. 206, 238). They blamed their officers— most of whom lived at their ease in England—for their lack of relief and they accused them further of embezzling such money as had been sent and of defrauding the Queen by drawing lendings for non-existent soldiers (pp. 166, 167, 189). But their great grievance was against Cox, the victualler, whose prices they thought exorbitant (p. 166). Cox, of course, had his excuse ready (pp. 131–2, 168–9). He had contracted to supply victuals at the Ostend, not at the London, market price; he had made a store at Ostend with supplies bought in England and by July, when he came to issue them, they were already decaying (p. 50). He had therefore to bear this loss and to purchase more in Holland, hurriedly and at high prices; and his profits upon these were no more than reasonable, though he did allow himself 2s. for the wastage between Flushing and Ostend upon a 5s. barrel of beer. But this ignores the charge that he had ever since March been selling at the Ostend price goods bought in England for a third of that price. It may be true that the soldiers joined their officers in bullying him, hoping thus to get, with the minimum defalcation from their lendings, the maximum amount of victuals, part of which they would then sell at a profit to the townsmen (p. 131). But Cox's exorbitant prices would have consumed the troops' lendings and were probably quite as strong a motive for the men's violence as was greed for petty merchandising. Naturally the delay in the arrival of lendings in August only increased their violence and drove them to support their captains and officers in refusing to accept Cox's prices, though they took his goods. When, on the back of this, they found that some of those goods were "neither wholesome, savoury, nor man's meat" (pp. 189, 202), the men broke into open mutiny. They threw Cox's man into the harbour and imprisoned their Governor, Sir John Conway, and the rest of their chief officers, who made no attempt to assist Conway to preserve discipline (pp. 202–3). Then they despatched a private soldier, Colman, to explain their grievances to the Queen, to ask for her pardon, and to beg her to send them some pay (pp. 166–8). Elizabeth acted promptly and firmly. She would not condone mutiny, but sent Sir Edward Norris, one of the absentee captains, to secure the release of Conway, if necessary and possible by force. But she felt that the mutineers had not lacked provocation, so she ordered Willoughby, Killigrew and Russell, to open an inquiry at Flushing to which each Ostend company should send a representative to bring complaints against the victualler and the officers. Further, Sherley was sent to hasten the lendings, which were already in Zeeland (pp. 141, 187, 190), and the mutineers were told that a pardon would be given them only if they submitted unconditionally (pp. 166–8, 170). Unfortunately Norris' tactless blustering spoiled the effect of this firm yet equitable answer and alarmed many of the mutineers, particularly those junior officers and gentlemen volunteers whom Conway accused of stirring up all the trouble (pp. 202–3, 206). Accordingly they despatched a gentleman volunteer, Edward Brooke, to repeat their complaints, to ask again for pardon, and to protest at the attitude of Norris (pp. 188–9). The Council in reply ordered again the due payment of lendings and the supply of victuals at reasonable prices, while pointing out that the men had committed no crime for which they had need of a pardon (pp. 190–1). Thereupon order was restored, Conway was released though he remained under the supervision of a committee of the mutineers, and 200 of the garrison were allowed to go to the relief of Bergen (pp. 193, 205–6). As soon as she heard of this, the Queen granted the mutineers her pardon in due form (fn. 33) and the Council even held out hopes of an early full pay (pp. 218–9). With this most of them seem to have been quite satisfied, though they still begged for their pay and for a change of garrison (p. 238). At the same time the Queen resolved to adopt Conway's advice and to "weed out" the chief actors in the mutiny (pp. 193, 218). Some of the 1,500 men whom Sir John Norris was now taking for the relief of Bergen were accordingly ordered to Ostend to replace them and Norris and Willoughby were instructed to see that order was restored (p. 249). Before these men could arrive a small group (p. 371) of the malcontent ringleaders on October 12th attempted a new mutiny, demanding a full pay from the money which had just come for their lendings (pp. 273, 279, 308). However, Conway, despite the absence of all but one of his captains (p. 366), managed after distributing a fortnight's lendings to find some forces to support him (pp. 279, 284, 325) and was able to hold his own until Captain Wilson arrived from Flushing with four of the new companies on November 16th. Thereupon, by the Council's command (p. 284) some 13 or 16 of the ringleaders were arrested and executed, several more were imprisoned, and the rest—says Conway—were glad that the place was rid of them (pp. 322, 325–6, 371).

When the Queen's economy and her officers' corruption could breed such disorders as this, even though it were in the least popular of all garrisons, it is difficult to believe that the efficiency of the forces as a whole was not impaired. As their numbers, too, must have been considerably less than the muster-rolls alleged, there was some justice in the States' complaint, even though complaints of this kind came but ill from those who paid their own troops—when they did pay them—at the rate of 48 days to the month. If the alliance were to work well and if Elizabeth's assistance was to attain its face value, some effort must be made to remedy these defects.

(3) At the root of all the defects lay the fact that full pay had been so long delayed. One of the great reasons for that delay was the dispute between the Queen and the States over the accounts for the past two years. The first difficulty was to get any accounts at all and it was not until the end of the summer that Sherley, who had come over to England to prepare them, was able to present a statement (p. 250). The next step was to get the States to acknowledge that this statement represented the extent of their indebtedness to the Queen, for by the Treaty they were bound to repay her expenses at the end of the war, and an "unextricable labyrinth" would result in the accounts between them and her if a full pay were made before this acknowledgment had been obtained (p. 159). But the States disputed many points in these accounts. They denied the accuracy of the English muster-rolls, though they ignored Digges' repeated requests that they should appoint their own commissaries to assist at the musters as the Treaty required (pp. 229, 231, 283–4, 296, 337). They would not allow the 3l. 10s. added to the monthly pay of each footband by Leicester, though this had been balanced by a saving upon the horse. They would not allow so many dead pays as Leicester had permitted, nor reckon the officers as part of a company. They held as discharged all who were absent without passport or who overstayed their leave; they would allow for no more than four men attending upon their captain when he was absent and for no more than the six foreigners whom the Treaty permitted in each band (pp. 161, 296–7, 403). Finally, they would not promise to repay any of the Queen's extraordinary expenses on their behalf, such as those for the relief of Sluys or of Bergen, unless the expenditure had first been authorised by the Council of State—"an over-strait manner of dealing," since the Council had not been present to authorise the expense for Sluys and the Queen had sent reinforcements to Bergen when the need for them became obvious even though the States had not formally asked for them (p. 242). Yet while they haggled over these charges, the States clamoured for the instant repayment by the Queen of the lendings which had been advanced to the Brielle garrison and of the victuals which had been supplied to Bergen and Ostend (pp. 241, 282–3). Clearly, a speedy settlement with these sharp-practising politicians was not going to be easy. Yet an early settlement was very necessary if the new policy of alliance was to succeed, if the English forces were to receive a full pay and attain their maximum efficiency, and if the States were to be able to hold their own without any more aid than those forces could afford.

(4) On the question of the powers of the Council of State there was rather a difference of opinion than a dispute. Elizabeth, now that she was seeking to establish the authority of the States General, could not support Willoughby's claim for the powers which Leicester and the Council had formerly enjoyed (p. 238) (fn. 34). Yet she felt, and the story of the Bergen siege shows the justice of her opinion, that the new instructions given to the Council by the States left it power, as Willoughby and Gilpin complained, only to answer matters "with ink and paper" (p. 42, 252). She therefore urged the States either to remain themselves more or less permanently in session or else to increase the powers of the Council (p. 28). This, however, was intended merely as the friendly advice of an ally, and there was no longer any intention of adopting strong measures to get it accepted. The question of government was not now a serious obstacle to a good understanding.

(5) Lastly there were the trade disputes. These had two sources, the piracies which embroiled England with every country in Europe (pp. 21–2, 130, 198, 241, 250) and the Queen's attempt to stop trade with Spain, particularly in corn and goods which would help the Spaniards to fit out a new Armada. The States professed themselves willing to come to some agreement about stopping trade with Spain, but their merchants profited too much by it readily to renounce it and the licences to trade with the enemy were one of the chief sources of revenue from which the States maintained their navy (pp. 185, 215, 234, 254). On the other hand, the blockade provided a fresh excuse for the English pirates and others who now made the Channel and the Narrow Seas more than ever unsafe for shipping. The best that could be hoped was that some agreed rule should be laid down and that particular cases should not have to wait unduly long for their settlement.


Elizabeth made her first serious effort to settle these disputes through Sir John Norris, when he went to ask the States' assistance for the Portugal expedition. He was to urge a general reconciliation between the provinces and to seek on behalf of the defeated Leicestrians a settlement which would restore to them their liberty and their estates. He was also to urge the States to employ again those soldiers, such as Bacq and the young Meetkerke, whom they had discharged, and to appoint a good sum of money for the repair of the defences of Ostend. In return he might promise that all the auxiliary forces should "be employed to the field," provided that they were not sent upon "desperate services" and that the places whence they were drawn were left with adequate garrisons. The companies were to be kept full and Norris was to explain that the weakness of the horsebands was the States' fault since they would not reply to the Queen's proposal to turn six of them into twice as many foot. He was to concert with Willoughby means whereby Geertruidenberg might be assured to the States and the mutineers removed from the town. Further, he might promise that the stores consumed at Bergen and Ostend should be replaced as soon as their value had been assessed, that the States should no more be called upon to advance money for lendings, and that the sums already advanced should be repaid when the full accounts between them and the Queen were completed. Finally, whilst promising that good order should be taken about commercial reprisals, he was to require that the States should prohibit trade with the enemy and undertake to repay at the end of the wars those extra expenses which the Queen had incurred in sending special levies to their assistance (pp. 241–2, 247–9, 249–50, 283). In the short time at his disposal Norris could of course do little to accomplish this comprehensive programme, especially as the States showed that they meant to drive a hard bargain (p. 381). The States of Holland and Friesland, after a long preface explaining the origin of the divisions in the Provinces and asking for a public declaration by the Queen against their enemies, merely repeated all their former complaints and petitions (pp. 327–9). The Council of State replied more politely but hardly more helpfully and added the unseasonable request that the Queen would increase the lendings of her troops (p. 369). Cleerhagen, Trillo, and Gerritsz. were released by the States of Utrecht and Deventer was promised a fair trial (pp. 268, 304–5, 315–6, 398). (fn. 35) But nothing was done for Ostend (p. 343) and the garrison of Geertruidenberg went from bad to worse, disarmed the burghers, refused to obey Willoughby (p. 319) or to help in the relief of Wachtendonk (p. 371), and seized the Hollanders' ships on the river (p. 254).

The task of completing the work which Norris had just begun, clearly required someone who could spend far more time in the Netherlands. It was therefore allotted to Thomas Bodley, who was now to succeed Killigrew in the Council of State. Bodley had instructions to complete all those negotiations which Norris left unfinished or in which Killigrew had been dealing, and to repeat those promises which Norris had been empowered to make. He was to press once again for the liberty and the restoration of the estates of all those for whom Norris had interceded, as well as for the contentment of Schenk and the Amptman of Tiel and the restoration to office of Hessel Aysma, the deposed president of Friesland. He was to get the States to appoint resident commissaries for all the English garrisons, and someone duly authorised to settle all disputes in the musters and accounts by conference with himself and Digges. He brought orders for the governors of the cautionary towns not to meddle with civic and admiralty matters, and he might also show that Willoughby had instructions to use the auxiliary forces for the best advantage of the Provinces (p. 316). He was to seek the reformation of the Council of State's instructions in those points which were repugnant to the Treaty, and to advise the States General to remain themselves in permanent session, or else to enlarge the authority of the Council so that matters might be promptly despatched during their adjournments. Finally, he was to find out the States' opinion of the proposal, which Ortel had communicated, that the Queen should give them a yearly subsidy instead of the present assistance of men—a significant indication of the trend of the Queen's policy (pp. 315–6, 324–5, 333–4, 356).

Bodley did not arrive in the Netherlands until December (p. 364), so that his negotiations fall outside the scope of this volume. Nevertheless, his instructions show that Elizabeth was determined to give the alliance a fresh start by settling all the old disputes, and to insist that the relationship should be merely that of alliance with the obligations of either party carefully defined. Considerable progress had thus been made towards ridding the two countries of the evil heritage of Leicester's government.


If, however, these new measures were to be really successful, it was essential that at least some new men should be sent to carry them out. Killigrew's replacement by Bodley was the first step towards such a change. Killigrew had on the whole acted with goodwill and discretion. He regretted the limitation of the Council of State's authority (pp. 65, 184, 343), but he seems to have been on quite good terms with the States (pp. 69, 90): he endorsed their complaints about the English forces (pp. 68, 140), he favoured the advancement of Count Maurice (pp. 65, 184), he tried hard to appease the provincial quarrels (pp. 7, 24) particularly at Utrecht (pp. 109, 140), and, whatever may have been his suspicions, his attitude after the alteration there was scrupulously correct (pp. 245, 348–9). But he was continually unwell —he was away from the Council for seven weeks in the autumn (pp. 184, 348)—he knew no Dutch (p. 185), and, above all, he was a follower of Leicester (p. 233) intimately associated with old quarrels. His replacement by a man fresh to the Netherlands was bound to be an improvement, especially as the Queen asked the States to allow George Gilpin, an Englishman who was secretary to the Council of State, to assist Bodley in that Council as interpreter (p. 315).

The recall of Sir William Russell was even more happy. He was weary of his governorship of Flushing (pp. 48, 58, 214), on poor terms with Willoughby, on worse terms with Maurice (pp. 49, 65, 69, 299), and always ready to see in any untoward incident a deep plot by the States of Zeeland and the burghers of Flushing to rid themselves of their English garrison (pp. 12, 48), a fear which made it most difficult to get him to release any of the Flushing auxiliary bands for service in the field (pp. 152, 163–4, 187, 188, 381). His recall (p. 316) was thus a long step towards better relations.

The other high officer whose recall was desirable was the Lord General himself, Willoughby. He was quite friendly with Maurice and all the States' commanders except Schenk (pp. 65, 140, 246) and once at least he was ready to defend the States against criticism (p. 143). But his relations with some of his subordinates, particularly with Morgan and Russell, were not good (pp. 134, 389–90) and he had no liking for the Queen's new policy. He resented the treatment of good soldiers such as Sonoy (p. 8), he hankered after the powers which the Lord General had possessed in Leicester's day, he protested at the payment of lendings by poll (pp. 204–5), he complained of the delays in sending the money for them by exchange (p. 220), and he disliked any weakening of the forces under his command (pp. 113, 373). Moreover, in the trying work of that strenuous summer he had been assisted only by Wilsford, for most of his officers had gone to England (pp. 27, 54, 183); he had practically exhausted his private fortune (pp. 374–6); and he was utterly weary of his task (p. 106). How much trouble his discontent might cause, was shown by his refusal to help the States in the relief of Wachtendonk.

Wachtendonk, a small town of considerable strategic importance on the frontiers of Gelderland, had been besieged late in September by Mansfeld and the forces from Bonn (pp. 236, 247). The States could do little for its relief until after Bergen was free (p. 253) and by then Schenk, weary of begging for help, had begun to take what they would not give. He and the Amptman of Tiel, Brakel and the Count of Culemborg, held to ransom all ships passing up the Maas and Waal to the neutral and enemy regions eastward (pp. 246, 268, 302–3). Touched to the quick, the Hollanders, though they dared not attack Schenk himself, took strong measures against his allies. They forbad all trade up the rivers and sent Maurice to seize the houses which Brakel, the Amptman, and Culemborg held (pp. 303, 309, 322, 342). Only when this was done did Maurice's forces march under Mors to join Schenk for the relief of Wachtendonk (pp. 360–1, 370–1). Even then the States could muster only 640 horse and 1,300 foot, and they appealed to Willoughby to send 400 horse and 1,000 foot from the English forces (p. 374). Willoughby, however, made every excuse that he could think of: he had no money to set the men out, and he disliked sending so many outside the Provinces just when the forces for Portugal were about to leave. He insisted that the States should fill their places in the garrisons from which they were drawn, should promise to replace them if any disaster occurred, should advance money for them now, and should assure them a safe garrison at their return. The States on their side threatened to hold him responsible if Wachtendonk were lost. He at last agreed to their demands (pp. 373–4, 378), but before these acrimonious debates were ended, Wachtendonk surrendered (p. 383). We can hardly blame Willoughby for his reluctance to join in this desperate and distant service against superior forces, but the incident shows that a proud nobleman, harassed and over-worked, brought up in Leicester's school and closely associated with the recent controversies, was hardly the man to carry out the Queen's new policy. That policy called for a professional soldier who would act with and under the States and who would not meddle overmuch in politics, rather than for a person of quality such as the Treaty promised should command the English forces and such as Willoughby was. The Queen had not yet come to this conclusion, but the return of the Lord General was already being considered (p. 300) and in January, 1589, he was given leave to come home for a time.

Thus, by the end of 1588 England was thoroughly committed to the new course. Elizabeth had refused to listen to those who would have set up her authority as a rival to the sovereignty of the States General. She had shown that in an emergency she would exert herself on the States' behalf, but she had made it equally clear that she would join in their quarrel with Parma only as an auxiliary and not as a principal. The relationship between England and the United Provinces was to be alliance, not sovereignty. By now, too, the worst obstacles to that alliance had been removed. The States' confidence in the Queen had begun to revive and their authority over their own territories had been greatly strengthened. Much remained to do, but the alliance was recovering well from the false start made in Leicester's time. Moreover, the main lines had been firmly drawn of that policy which throughout the war was to guide England's intervention in the continental conflict with Spain, whether in the Netherlands or in France. This achievement was less spectacular than the defeat of the Armada, but hardly less important and certainly not less difficult. It cannot have been easy to have followed this new policy, which looked so much like a complete capitulation to the States, yet the Queen and her Council had pursued it with a persistency and a realism of which many historians would hardly believe them capable.


England's relations with other countries during these six months are rather less interesting. The French situation was certainly critical, for France, far from helping Elizabeth against Spain, seemed likely herself to fall under Spanish influence. Elizabeth had failed to persuade Henry III to join with the Huguenots and Henry of Navarre against the League and the Guises, who were the allies of Philip II. Despite her vague offers of substantial assistance, he had accepted the verdict of the Day of Barricades. Early in July he renewed the Union, yielded to the League many vital towns and governments, banished from his court his strongest adviser, Epernon, and promised to exterminate the Huguenots and to disinherit Navarre (pp. 4–5, 16). It looked as if Elizabeth must finance Navarre and take steps to save the Channel ports from those who would welcome the Armada to their shelter. However, after the repulse of the League's attempt upon Boulogne (pp. 4, 7) and the defeat of the Armada the danger became less urgent, and the Queen returned to her waiting policy. Her chief motive was probably financial, for, as we have seen, she could hardly afford to help on a large scale either the Huguenots or the French King, whose advisers thought that it would take quite 100,000l. to move him against the League. (fn. 36) But there may well have been other motives. Elizabeth was no bigoted Protestant, she disliked rebels, and she perhaps realised that she would only drive most Frenchmen into the Guises' camp if she appeared too openly as the champion of a heretic minority in rebellion against the lawful Catholic King of France. So long as there was any hope of Henry III and so long as the Huguenots were not in imminent danger of a final overthrow, her best policy was still to rely chiefly upon the French King And there was abundant evidence in Stafford's despatches that Henry III was only waiting for his opportunity to rid himself of the League. He was still secretly in touch with Epernon, who was likewise in touch with Soissons, Montmorency, and even the Huguenots (pp. 13–4, 62, 99). He showed great favour to Nevers and the Princes of the Blood (pp. 61–2, 126, 153) who had submitted to the League only with considerable reservations (pp. 4–5, 62, 124, 154). He seems also to have built up for himself a faction even in Paris (pp. 99, 125, 153). Further, he refused to return to Paris (p. 61) or to change the meeting place of the States General from Blois to St. Denys or anywhere near the capital (pp. 108, 125, 126). Then, encouraged perhaps by the League's growing unpopularity and by the defeat of the Armada (pp. 90, 126), he suddenly dismissed most of his ministers and replaced them with men devoted only to himself and not likely to be influenced by the timid counsels of Catherine de Medici (pp. 178, 208–9). Unfortunately, the French Papers almost cease during this time, when the King was maturing his plans against the Guises; but certainly nothing occurred during this autumn to disprove Elizabeth's opinion that she could still rely upon him.

Nor were the Huguenots in such danger as to require her intervention. The League, in the King's name, was certainly preparing an army against them, but there was little money for its equipment and after heated discussions its command was thrust upon the Duke of Nevers who was more inclined to the King than to the Guises (pp. 124–5, 145). Nevers could not take the field until late in November, and even then, though he gained a few small successes (p. 363), his chances of winning a decisive victory did not seem very great. On the other side of France, Montmorency, Epernon, and la Valette had come to an agreement with the Huguenot Lesdiguières (p. 107) and were in touch with Navarre (p. 63). Thus the south-east and most of the west was firmly held against the League (pp. 13–4, 110, 310).

Elizabeth could therefore afford to continue her waiting policy. She did use her influence, and perhaps even her treasure (p. 310), to keep Bernet, the governor of Boulogne, hostile to the League and loyal to Epernon, who sent his agents to get her support to hold this town (pp. 14, 63, 181, 221, 406). But she refused to finance Navarre, though he sent first du Fay (p. 53), then Clermont d'Amboise (pp. 6, 53–4), and finally de Pujols (p. 166), to ask her to help him. Her principal efforts were made in encouraging Henry III, who seemed ready to be encouraged. Despite Guise's protests, he allowed Stafford's man, William Lyly, to remain at court (p. 107) and he welcomed Lady Stafford very warmly when she came to take her leave (pp. 145, 146–7). He would not hear of denouncing the English alliance (p. 5) and turned aside Mendoza's demand that he should not assist Elizabeth against the Armada by remarking that she did not need any help (p. 153). He could not prevent the Spaniards from buying supplies in Picardy (pp. 108, 121, 125) nor could he avoid promising to restore the guns and whatever was left of the galleys at Bayonne, of the galleon at Hâvre, and of the galleass at Calais, but at Lady Stafford's request he made his council discuss these matters a second time (pp. 144, 146–7). Elizabeth made the most of these signs of goodwill. She did, indeed, order Stafford to protest at the firing on her ships when they went to "cut out" the Spanish vessels at Hâvre and Calais (pp. 98, 108); and also to require a public denial of Mendoza's printed statement that the King had denounced the English alliance. (fn. 37) But Walsingham advised Stafford to act as he should judge best for the preservation of the amity between Henry and the Queen, and Stafford seems to have done little, beyond protesting to the King against Mendoza's statement (pp. 121, 153). A later instruction, to urge the King to forbid the export of corn to Spain on the plea that it was needed for Nevers' army, (fn. 38) seems to have been acted upon with good results, (fn. 39) though the suggestions that Henry should seek to profit by the pique between Parma and Mendoza (fn. 40) and that he should take strong measures against the Duke of Savoy (fn. 41) who had seized the marquisate of Saluzzo (pp. 266, 310), bore little fruit.

Elizabeth's efforts to encourage Henry III were hampered by mistrust of his ambassador, Châteauneuf. In July Châteauneuf had adopted a very hectoring tone at an inquiry into an assault upon some of his servants by some Huguenots attached to Navarre's agent (pp. 17–8, 22–4, 64, 86). He also sent malicious reports of the actions against the Armada (pp. 120, 145). His government secretly disavowed him (pp. 98–9, 127–8, 146–7), but when, after failing to congratulate the Queen upon her victory (p. 221), (fn. 42) he asked leave to return to France, the English could not but suspect both him and his master. His return would look too much like a breaking off of diplomatic relations, and therefore, though Walsingham would have let him go, the Queen after some hesitation refused to allow him to leave (pp. 318, 337, 355). (fn. 43)

Before the effects of this refusal could appear, Henry III had the Duke and Cardinal of Guise assassinated and arrested all the other leaders of the League upon whom he could lay his hands. Mayenne and the d'Aumâles escaped him, but he had regained his freedom and the days of the League were clearly numbered unless Spain came to its rescue. The effects of this alteration were not felt until 1589, but already Parma's attention was distracted from the Netherlands; the League, the Duke of Savoy, and the Duke of Lorraine clamoured for Spanish aid; and the Swiss cantons and the princes of Italy took fresh heart (pp. 391–3, 394, 395, 399–400). Events seemed to have justified Elizabeth's policy completely, for it looked as if Spain must soon be brought to her knees by this imminent revival of France, by the impending invasion of Portugal, and by the effects of the defeat of the Armada and the repulse of Parma at Bergen. As Wrothe wrote from Venice, "if that the King of Spain cannot find means to set again on foot in France the remnant of the Guises' faction, then, by all men's judgment, his affairs will be in a very evil estate, for if his son-in-law (the Duke of Savoy) do not restore the marquisate, then he is sure to draw on his back the forces of France, the which, without the might of England, were always dreadful unto Spain" (p. 393). This brilliant prospect was indeed soon to be clouded over, but at the close of 1588 Elizabeth's policy seemed completely vindicated by its fruits.


Trade and the Spanish war were expanding English diplomatic activity to every corner of Europe, but, except in the Netherlands and France, that activity was not of outstanding interest or novelty during these last six months of 1588. At Constantinople Edward Barton, who in July succeeded the ambassador Harborne as agent for the Queen and the Levant Company, continued his predecessor's efforts to get the Turks to attack Spain and restore Don Antonio to Portugal, but he met with no great success. The Sultan, who was involved in a war with the Persians and in frontier quarrels with the Emperor, the Poles, the Russians, and the Venetians, listened more readily to the advice of the Beglerbeg and the Grand Vizier—the latter a pensioner of Spain—than to the exhortations of Barton or the warlike counsels of the Persian-born Hogia and the new Admiral, Hassan Pasha (pp. 101–3, 138–9, 172–5, 199–201, 281–2, 334–6). (fn. 44) Harborne came home by way of Poland, where he had a friendly talk with the all-powerful Chancellor, Zamoiski, who, having still to settle the quarrel between his King Sigismund and the Hapsburg Maximilian, spoke of his desire for an English alliance (pp. 79, 224, 404). Harborne also made a trade agreement with the Prince of Moldavia and visited most of the Hanseatic Towns (p. 404). English agents were indeed very active in the Baltic countries. Daniel Rogers was in Denmark in July to condole with the widowed Queen on the death of Frederick II, to congratulate the boy Christian IV upon his accession, and to deal with the four Governors about various trade disputes. He made sure that the Danes would not help the Armada or the Duke of Parma, and he helped the ambassador of John Casimir to get their letters urging the Protestant princes of Germany to "consult together how by a league they might in time 'occurre' against the dangerous practices of the Papists." He also sent home an interesting account of the state of Denmark (pp. 75–81). Then he sent Peter Varrhael to the King of Sweden about certain trade disputes with that country (pp. 79, 143).

The quarrel with the Hanse Towns and Hamburg, caused by the Merchant Adventurers breaking into their monopoly of the German trade, was brought no nearer a settlement. Hamburg sent its secretary, Sebastian à Bergen, to discuss the matter and to get the English merchants to leave Stade and come to Hamburg, but he met with no success for the terms which he offered were too small. The projected mission of Beale and Salkinston to debate the question at Hamburg apparently did not take place (pp. 38–40, 226–8) and the Queen's determination to stop all contraband trade with Spain now that she was openly at war with that Power was certain to make relations more difficult in the future, for the Hansards were all great carriers of corn and naval stores to the Peninsula (pp. 227, 310, 318, 330, 350, 360, 390, 404).

A few scattered facts may be mentioned. The danger from the Armada moved Walsingham and other unmartial Englishmen belatedly to buy themselves armour (see index) in the United Provinces, whither the Queen also resorted when her stores of gunpowder (see index) ran low; whilst the States were seeking to get cannon from England (pp. 1, 57, 309, 337). The prospect of an invasion brought the English exiles (see index) flocking to Flanders and there were rumours of plots against the Queen's life (pp. 41, 274, 306, 330). After the defeat of the Armada Lawrence Tomson went over to arrange with Parma for the ransom of the prisoners taken from it (see index). The anchors abandoned by the Spaniards at Calais were salvaged and taken to Dunkirk (p. 228). There is one more letter in the obscure WalsinghamStanden peace correspondence (p. 295) and an interesting letter from Giovanni de Campo (probably a pseudonym) advising Walsingham to show more tolerance towards the English Catholics (p. 359). There are several papers about the States' dispute with James VI over the arrears of pay of the Scots in their service and about the part played by Elizabeth in that dispute (see index, s.v. Stewart, Sir William). One or two references to persons may also be noted. Burghley's attention to detail is illustrated by his marginal "Nota: how small beer shall be known" (p. 327). Stafford's correspondence still gives no hint of his alleged treason, though he had an interesting duel with Mendoza in supplying the French with news of the Armada. John Stubbe's earlier indiscretion did not prevent Willoughby from recommending him for the post of overseer of musters (p. 150). Conway sought to extract information from a captured prior by "pinching his fingers" (p. 326). The spy, Adrian Menninck, whom the States brought to trial (see index) has evaded identification (fn. 45). almost as successfully as the apparently fictitious Pistolets (p. 174), Micheas and Ballaintes (p. 200) of Barton's letters.

In the text, some of the papers relating to Sherley's accounts and some of James Digges' innumerable "louse" papers are of very uncertain date, but as they refer to the army accounts for the years ending 11th October, 1588, they are included in this volume. Finally, although most of the calendar of the French Series and some of the other papers are based upon Mrs. Lomas' transcripts, the Editor must assume full and sole responsibility for any inaccuracies of transcription, arrangement, or identification. If these inaccuracies are numerous, he can only plead with those who use this Calendar to pardon a new Editor for his "small understanding of these weighty matters" (to use Vere's words, p. 105) when he lapses from the high standards set for him by Mr. Hinds and by Mrs. Lomas.


Trinity College, Oxford, March, 1935.


  • 1. Dietz, Exchequer under Elizabeth, p. 101.
  • 2. Ibid., pp. 84–6.
  • 3. E.g. Burghley to Hatton, 12 May, 1587, in Nicolas, Hatton, pp. 470–1; also Scott, Joint Stock Companies, I. 93–104.
  • 4. Dietz, pp. 100–1.
  • 5. Armada Papers (edited by J. K. Laughton, for the Navy Record Society, 1894), I. 285.
  • 6. S.P. Hamburg and Hanse Towns, iii. fos. 55, etc.
  • 7. Scott, III. 503, etc.
  • 8. Conyers Read, Walsingham, III. 333–6.
  • 9. Calendar, XXI. iv, preface.
  • 10. Ibid.; United Netherlands (ed. 1860), I. 358–408.
  • 11. See also, H.M.C., Ancaster MSS., pp. 161, 163.
  • 12. Meteren, Histoire des Pays Bas, f. 292.
  • 13. In the provisional "state of wars" approved on May 28, N.S., Holland's quota was over 120,000 livres, Zeeland's 31,000, Friesland's 24,800, Utrecht's 11,373, Overijsel's 4,669, and Gelderland's 3,794. Japikse, Resolutiēn der Staten Generaal, VI. 187, note 2. Even so Utrecht could pay only 10,000. Ibid., VI. 204.
  • 14. Japikse, VI. 10–1, 69, 80–1.
  • 15. Japikse VI. 252.
  • 16. Ibid., VI. 9–10, 80–1, 187–206, 223–7, 237–8.
  • 17. Ibid.
  • 18. Ibid., VI. 270; Bor, Nederlantsche Oorloghen, book xxiv. fos. 108–13.
  • 19. xxv. f. 5.
  • 20. Ibid., xxv. f. 8; Japikse, VI. 30–1, 71.
  • 21. See also, H.M.C., Ancaster MSS., pp. 159–60; Japikse, VI. 77–9.
  • 22. And two of these were taken by fishing boats manned with English soldiers from Flushing and Ostend. See also, Bor, xxv. f. 11.
  • 23. Japikse, VI. 14–8.
  • 24. Armada Papers, II. 150.
  • 25. Ibid.
  • 26. See too, Bor, xxv. f. 21.
  • 27. See too, Bor, xxv. f. 21.
  • 28. Japikse, VI. 84, note 5.
  • 29. Ibid., VI. 84, 87–93, 96.
  • 30. Motley makes no mention of this alteration at Utrecht. The following account is based, apart from the State Papers, principally upon Bor, xxiv. fos. 113–5; xxv. fos. 14–6, 24–6.
  • 31. Japikse, VI. 18–20, 91–3.
  • 32. H.M.C., Ancaster MSS., pp. 170–1.
  • 33. This pardon is curious in that it was authenticated both by the Great Seal and by the Queen's sign manual. Presumably the seal was affixed to the original signed bill and the Chancellor kept no warrant—the procedure adopted, it seems, for ambassadors' full powers and for the death-warrant of Mary, Queen of Scots.
  • 34. Japikse, VI. 238–43, 243–9.
  • 35. Bor, xxv. f. 29, 31.
  • 36. R. Hakluyt to—, July, 1588, Harleian MSS., cclxxxviii. f. 212.
  • 37. Walsingham to Stafford, 8 Sept., Cotton MSS., Galba, E. vi. f. 383.
  • 38. Walsingham to Stafford, 30 Sept. and 20 Oct., ibid., f. 385, 386.
  • 39. Same to same, 10 Dec., ibid., f. 392.
  • 40. Same to same, 8 Sept., ibid., f. 383; same to same, 3 Oct., Harleian MSS., cclxxxvi. f. 155.
  • 41. Same to same, 10 Dec., Cotton MSS., Galba, E. vi. f. 392.
  • 42. Same to same, 19 Oct., ibid., f. 386.
  • 43. The Queen to Stafford, 25 Nov., Cotton MSS., Galba, E. vi. f. 389; Walsingham to Stafford, 10 (?) and 28 Nov., ibid., f. 388, 391.
  • 44. See also H.M.C., Hatfield MSS., XIII. 378–80.
  • 45. Unless he is the Adriaan Menninck whose name was fairly prominent, 1566–72 and then disappears. Cf. Nieuw Nederlandsch Biografisch Woordenboek, VI. 1017–8.