Calendar of State Papers Foreign: Elizabeth, Volume 8, 1566-1568. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1871.

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'Preface', in Calendar of State Papers Foreign: Elizabeth, Volume 8, 1566-1568, (London, 1871) pp. vii-xxxi. British History Online [accessed 22 April 2024]



1. The documents calendared in this volume extend over the years 1566, 1567, 1568, and are at present distributed throughout no less than 20 different collections, which it is now intended to amalgamate into one chronological series. They more especially relate to events passing in Scotland, France, and Flanders.


2. The papers comprised in the volumes entitled Border correspondence have been treated as foreign, occupied as they are for the most part with Scottish affairs. In addition to accounts, lists of provisions, and other documents relating to the garrison of Berwick, they consist of despatches from the Earl of Bedford, Sir William Drury, Lord Hunsdon, and other officers on the Borders, containing as above stated a great quantity of information about Scotland; but as they generally describe events which did not come under the personal observation of the writers, they are not of so much value as evidence as those sent by Randolph and Throckmorton directly from Scotland. In addition they contain frequent accounts of forays on the Borders, and encounters between parties of the garrison of Berwick and the Scotch moss-troopers, together with particulars of the wholesale execution of the latter by hanging, drowning, and even by burning (see Scrope to Bedford, Jan. 16th, 1566; also Nov. 3d, 1567); a letter, dated 18th Aug. 1567, from Lord Scrope, the Warden on the West Marches, to Cecil, is worthy of the reader's notice as a specimen of the manner in which justice was administered on the frontiers. Lord Hunsdon's letters are full of accounts of raids by the Scotch after the flight of Queen Mary into England, which were undertaken by the Borderers of her party in the hope of bringing about a war with that country.


3. The documents relating to Scotland calendared in this volume comprise a most interesting period in its history, being that in which occurred the murders of Rizzio and Darnley, the marriage of Mary and Bothwell, the Queen's imprisonment in Lochleven, and her escape and subsequent flight into England.


4. At the time at which they commence, Murray and others of the principal Protestant noblemen of Scotland having been unsuccessful in their rebellion were in exile in England, and in dread that at the Parliament shortly to be held means would be taken for the confiscation of their estates and for their entire overthrow. (fn. 1) Bedford writing about them to Cecil, says, "things grow by degrees in Scotland as well for religion as for these good Lords to all the mischief they can;" and again, "that the lord's case was utterly despaired of." The power of the Queen of Scots was at no period of her reign so great as it was then, and she appeared fully determined to use it for the re-establishment of the old religion and the destruction of its opponents. She had frequent communications with the Pope and the Catholic sovereigns, and more especially with her uncle the Cardinal of Lorraine, with whom she corresponded by means of her secretary, Rizzio, who had come over in the train of Mons. de Morette, the ambassador of the Duke of Savoy, and who was generally reputed to be a pensioner of the Pope. In order to further their plans the Pope sent her the sum of 8,000 crowns by one Francis Yaxley, but the vessel in which it was carried was cast away, the bearer drowned, and the money seized by the Earl of Northumberland, in whose jurisdiction the shipwreck took place. (fn. 2) The return to Scotland of Mr. James Thornton with bulls and despatches from Rome, and the arrival of M. de Clairvaulx, from the Cardinal of Lorraine, destroyed any hope that the exiled Lords might have had of being recalled. The Queen who had been earnestly advised by Sir Nicholas Throckmorton for the sake of her own interests, both in Scotland and in England, to show clemency to them; as well as Rizzio, who had been brought over by a present from Murray, were now both of them fully determined that the Parliament appointed to be held in the beginning of March should be no longer deferred.

5. At the same time, (fn. 3) the Queen having discovered that Thomas Randolph, the English agent accredited to her court had assisted her rebellious subjects with a gift of 3,000 crowns, at once ordered him to quit the kingdom, and complained of his conduct to Elizabeth. Besides the exiled Lords, many noblemen and others in Scotland had very good reasons for objecting to the sitting of the proposed parliament, fearing lest there should be a revocation of grants made during the Queen's minority, and a restitution of Church lands seized during the late civil troubles. In order, therefore, to protect themselves from any such measures, it was at once determined, to use the words of Maitland, of Lethington, to "chop at the very root," (fn. 4) or in other words, to seize upon the person of the Queen and to destroy her secretary, Rizzio. In order that this might be the better carried out it was thought good to obtain not merely the connivance but also the active assistance of Darnley. This was easily accomplished by Morton, through his cousin George Douglas, a natural son of the Earl of Angus, who so excited his jealousy against Rizzio that he readily agreed to take part in his murder; and at the same time made an offer to the Earls of Argyle and Murray, that if they would concur to give him the crown matrimonial, he would espouse their cause, bring them home, and re-establish religion as it stood at the Queen's coming. Randolph, who was of course informed of the conspiracy, at once communicated the news to the Queen of England, Cecil, and the Earl of Leicester (see March 6 and 8). In his letter to Cecil Randolph distinctly charges Mary with misconduct with Rizzio, and speaks of it as a matter "over well known." Randolph and Drury's despatches contain very full particulars of the murder, and by them we are able to trace each step in that tragedy. The complicity of Murray therein is established not merely by their letters (see also Bedford and Randolph to Cecil, March 6), but by one under his own hand addressed to Cecil, 8th March 1566, wherein he states that he and his company are suddenly called home for the weal of religion and the avoiding of great inconveniences, and that the bearer, his secretary, would let him know the full occasion and circumstances thereof.

6. It would appear that it was the first intention of the conspirators to observe some sort of judicial proceeding with regard to Rizzio. (fn. 5) Morton and Ruthven, writing to Cecil, charge Darnley with being the cause of the outrageous form that the murder assumed, at the same time declaring their belief in the perfect legality and justice of what they had done. They disdain any particular quarrel against Rizzio, but seeing such extreme dealing against their brethren by his counsel, and the suppression of religion and the consequent endangering of the amity between the realms of England and Scotland, were content to take their part in the deed, wherewith neither prince or good subject could be offended. Bedford speaks in terms of strong approbation of the murder, and describes its perpetrators as being persecuted and afflicted.

7. In one of the bonds drawn up between Darnley and his confederates, however, the following expression occurs, perchance it may be done in the presence of the Queen's Majesty, or within her palace at Holyrood House, and some persons on both sides might lose their lives;" but this may refer simply to any disturbance that might arise during the intended arrest. On page 35 will be found a list of the murderers, commencing with the name of Morton and finishing with those of John Knox and John Craig, preachers; on the margin is a statement that they were all present at the murder and that they were in displeasure with the Queen.

8. This list is in the same handwriting as Bedford's despatches, and differs in some important particulars from that given by Randolph, 21st March, in which the names of Craig and Knox do not occur. (fn. 6) Cecil in writing to M. de Foix, the French ambassador, thought fit to add that Rizzio had been caught in the act of adultery with Mary and slain by Darnley, though there is no statement to that effect in any of the accounts sent to him by his agents or others. The Earl of Murray arrived in Edin- burgh the following morning after the murder according to agreement, but most of the rest of the conspirators were so sharply pursued that most of them had to fly into England, where Ruthven one of the leaders soon afterwards died, his death being described by his friend Morton as being "so godly that all men who saw it did rejoice."


9. The following episode which happened about this time is worthy of note as an instance of the astuteness of Cecil, and the crooked and underhand dealing common in the politics of the age, as well as affording a proof of the reality and serious nature of the danger in which Elizabeth stood from the machinations of her rival. (fn. 7) Sir Thomas Smith, the English ambassador at the French Court, and Captain Ninian Cockburn, a spy in Cecil's pay, had more than once informed him of the existence of Scottish intrigues in England, and that there was a most formidable party in that country who favoured Mary's pretensions to the English crown; and that "the Pope and the King of Spain had their hands deeper in the dish than he knew of." Moreover they said that though the death of Rizzio had "changed the great traffic had of long time between Scotland and the Cardinal of Lorraine, the Scottish bishops, the Pope, and the King of Spain, yet matters were so far advanced that they continued still their labours." They exhorted Cecil to remain firm and suggested that important revelations would probably be discovered in any papers that might be found on Yaxley's body which had been washed ashore on the coast of Northumberland. Cecil fully recognised the necessity of becoming acquainted with the extent of the spread of the conspiracy in England, as he was quite aware that the Catholic powers were at last thoroughly in earnest in their determination to carry out the provisions of the secret league of Bayonne for the extirpation of the reformed religion throughout Europe, and that they knew that it was impossible to do so as long as it continued to exist as the state religion in England. In order to get to the bottom of this plot, Christopher Rokeby, a gentleman of Yorkshire, was sent into Scotland in the month of May 1566, by Cecil, with instructions to worm himself into the confidence of the Queen of Scots and her husband, for which purpose he was to pretend that he came from their friends in the north of England. To better colour the matter the Queen wrote to Mary complaining of the reception of one of her open rebels, and threatening revenge, and so well did Rokeby act his part that both Randolph and Drury, the acting governor of Berwick, warned Cecil against him. He appears to have been successful so far as obtaining the information of the names of the Queen of Scots favourers in England, but had not time to acquaint Cecil with the extent of his discoveries, for Sir Robert Melville, Mary's ambassador at the court of England having got a clue of the true object of his visit to Scotland immediately sent to his mistress. Mary ordered Rokeby to be arrested and his papers seized, amongst which a letter from Cecil was found encouraging him to proceed in his undertaking and assuring him of reward. We find Rokeby a year after this a prisoner in the Castle of Spynie and making an offer to Sir Nicholas Throckmorton (fn. 8) to murder the Earl of Bothwell and desiring to know the Queen's pleasure therein. Throckmorton, though he declined to openly encourage him or his accomplices, knowing that the Queen would not give her consent to any murder, advised him to proceed to Secretary Lethington and declare the matter, as he and the Lords had more interest in the cause than the Queen had. The Earl of Huntly who is spoken of as bearing Bothwell a very fair countenance is stated to be a participator in this conspiracy.

10. The odious cowardice and treachery of Darnley, the increasing breach between him and the Queen, and his feeble threats against the nobility are fully described by Randolph, as is also Bothwell's rise to power. The documents relating to Darnley's death preserved in this office are by no means full, and throw little additional light on that circumstance. There is no hint of the conspiracy before its completion, beyond a certain vague expectation of some mischief intended towards him, which was shared by Darnley himself, and which considering the position in which he had placed himself and the people by whom he was surrounded, was by no means unreasonable even if it had been unfounded. The first news was sent by Drury on the 11th Feb., and on the 14th he states that on the day of the murder a messenger from the Cardinal of Lorraine to the Queen of Scots passed through Berwick who bore letters warning her that her husband should shortly be slain. There is not much evidence contained in these papers beyond popular rumour connecting Mary with this crime; her want of activity in the pursuit of the murderers is accounted for by her utter inability to do anything surrounded as she was by Bothwell and his accomplices. Her alleged levity and indifference to her husband's death are hardly borne out by the papers before us. It is true that Drury on the 28th Feb. 1567, writes that a report has been brought to him of her having taken her pleasure at Lord Seton's house at Tranant with Bothwell and other noblemen, but both M. de Clairvaulx on Feb. 16, and Henry Killegrew, March 8, describe her as being extremely distressed and doleful, and Drury himself writes at the end of March that she had been for the most part either melancholy or sickly ever since.

11. In considering Drury's despatches it is impossible not to notice the strong prejudice against Mary running through them, nothing however absurd or improbable that might tend to her injury being omitted. Stories of witches, her attempt to poison her son, who was not a year old, with an apple, and all sorts of scandalous rumours were eagerly caught up by him and transmitted to the English Court. It may not be out of place to mention here that there was a mortal quarrel between him and Bothwell, which went so far that mutual challenges passed between them (see Valentine Browne to Cecil, 16th May 1567). A considerable number of sketches, ballads, proclamations, &c., some in manuscript and some in black letter, relating to the events of this time are contained in this collection. Amongst them is a copy of the celebrated bond executed at Ainslie's supper on the 19th April, entirely exonerating Bothwell from any participation in the murder of Darnley, and promising to assist him with life and goods in case he should marry the Queen; this document is signed by Murray and twenty other noblemen. Kirkcaldy of Grange writing to Bedford on May 8, and evidently referring to this document, affirms positively that "the most part of the nobility for fear of their lives did grant to sundry things against their honours and conscience." There is also another document dated 12th June 1567 in the form of a printed proclamation by the Confederate Lords (most of whom had signed the former bond,) which charges Bothwell with having had the principal share in the murder, and commands all subjects, under extreme penalties to assist in his punishment.


12. After Mary's surrender at Carberry Hill and her imprisonment at Lochleven, Elizabeth sent Sir Nicholas Throckmorton into Scotland with instructions to mediate between her and her subjects, and if possible to obtain the custody of the young Prince. Throckmorton performed his mission with energy and discretion, and at no small personal risk to himself. His despatches are very full and interesting, and give a clear account of the position of the different parties in Scotland, and of the great peril in which the Queen consequently stood, not only from the proceedings of her open enemies but also from the secret machinations of the Hamiltons, who pretended to be her friends. (fn. 9) The common people also were much enraged against her, both men and women, so that a stranger over busy in her behalf would very likely have been sacrificed amongst them. (fn. 10) Knox, notwithstanding Throckmorton had urged him to use moderation in his discourses, thundered forth the most "severe exhortations" against the Queen as well as Bothwell, and threatened the country with the vengeance of God if she were spared from condign punishment. In the meanwhile the Queen with her train of ten or a dozen persons was most straitly guarded at Lochleven. This severity was chiefly caused by her refusing to lend her authority to prosecute the murder or to abandon Bothwell. (fn. 11) Throckmorton, who was in every respect friendly towards her, and who favoured her pretensions to the English crown, says that she vowed constantly that she would live and die with Bothwell, and said that if it were put to her choice she would leave her kingdom and dignity to live as a simple damoisel with him, and would never consent that he should fare worse or have more harm than herself.


13. (fn. 12) There was no dissimulation in Elizabeth's efforts to serve the Queen of Scots, as she was most bitterly angry with the Scotch Lords for daring to rebel against their Prince, and she ordered Throckmorton to declare plainly that if they determined anything to the deprivation of the Queen she would openly revenge her and make them an example for all posterity. (fn. 13) Leicester, in a private letter to Throckmorton, warned him not to send anything that might sound against Mary, as it would have no effect except to hinder his own advancement. Although she did not carry out this threat, the appointment of Murray as Regent was most distasteful to her. Throckmorton, when offered the usual present of plate at the termination of his negociations, in the name of the young King, did not venture to accept it; and it is worthy of note that Murray, although in his letters to Cecil and others, he signs himself James, Regent; in those to the Queen of England invariably subscribes himself James Stewart. (fn. 14) Throckmorton writing of Murray says that he found him very honourable, sincere and direct, not resolved what he would do, abhorring on the one side the murder of the King, which he would not have pass with impunity; and on the other side, that he found in him great commiseration for his sister. Bedford, whom he visited on his journey homewards, says that he found him neither over pitiful nor cruel towards the Queen, but that he meant that in no wise should her life be touched. Throckmorton in speaking of him says that he sought rather to imitate some that had led the people of Israel than any captains of the age; and that he saw no disposition in him either to bereave the Queen of life or to keep her in perpetual imprisonment, although he was resolved to defend the Lords who had taken this matter in hand.

14. The rest of the papers relating to Scotland contain a few particulars about Mary's abdication, her imprisonment and escape from Lochleven, her subsequent flight into England, and the commencement of that series of intrigues which ended so disastrously for her. The number of those who supported her interests in the North of England was so great as to cause serious alarm, whilst by means of her party in Scotland (fn. 15) the Borders were kept in a constant state of disturbance, in the hope of provoking a war with England. (fn. 16) Drury accuses her of having incited the Hamiltons and their faction to enter into a conspiracy to murder the Regent, and states that Murray of Tullibardine was selected to carry out the enterprise, which should have been executed in a similar manner to the assassination of Rizzio. The famous casket letters are not included in this volume, but will be found in the second volume of a separate series of documents relating to Mary Queen of Scots during her captivity in England which has already been calendared by Mr. M. J. Thorpe. Drury, 25th June 1567, mentions the seizure of the Queen's papers "wherein are practises between her and France." On 28th Oct. in the same year he says, "the writings which comprehended the names and consents of the chief for the murdering of the King is turned into ashes, the same not unknown to the Queen, and the same which concerns her part kept to be shown." Under the 4th Dec. is a paper entitled An Act of the Secret Council of Scotland, "which plainly states the existence of letters in the Queen's handwriting proving her complicity in her husband's murder."

1566. France.

15. The correspondence relating to France consists chiefly of the despatches of the English ambassadors, Sir Thomas Hoby and Sir Henry Norris, and their enclosures, together with the letters of Ninian Cockburn, a spy in Cecil's pay. Hoby, who had been appointed to succeed Sir Thomas Smith in April 1566, died on the 13th of the following July, and his successor Norris did not arrive in France till the ensuing January. Norris's despatches are very copious, and he appears to have had abundant and accurate information of all that was passing, even in the Privy Council of the French King. In the meantime, in order that he might obtain intelligence without observation he took a house outside the town of Paris, with a private door into the fields, from which however he was obliged to remove by the Queen Mother. Norris, in a letter dated 9th Feb. 1568, gives an amusing account of Catherine De Medicis professions' of anxiety for his safety in living in such an exposed place, and persistence in urging him to remove into the town.


16. In 1566, the hollow peace between the Catholics and the Huguenots established by the Edict of Pacification of Orleans, still continued to be observed. Although the Admiral and the Chief of the Huguenot faction were received with apparent favour at Court, and the Cardinal of Lorraine and the Admiral were responsible for each others safety, still practises were secretly made to assassinate them. The Admiral was also charged with compassing the death of the Queen Mother, but the accusation was disproved and his accuser, Du Moy, broken on the wheel. The troubles which broke out in the Low Countries, and the violation of the provisions of the Edict of Pacification which granted freedom of worship to the Protestants, and the determination of Catherine de Medicis to carry out the secret articles of the conference at Bayonne, soon produced dangerous disturbances in different parts of France. The King went so far as to order the Marshal Montmorency to arrest the Admiral; and in January 1567 commanded the Provost Marshal to hang a preacher of the Queen of Navarre before her gate, and although the man escaped, yet the Queen and the rest of the Huguenot party thought it was time to leave Paris and depart to their own houses. By the end of the ensuing summer the House of Guise had resumed all its old influence over the King and the Queen Mother, and troops were levied on both sides for the struggle which was now inevitable. In addition to their native forces both parties sought assistance from abroad, the Huguenots drawing theirs chiefly from Germany, whilst the King levied troops in Switzerland and Italy. In the beginning of September 1567, matters were brought to a crisis. The French Court being at Meaux whither also had arrived the Cardinal of Lorraine and the young Duke of Guise, it was determined in Council utterly to revoke all the privileges granted to those of the reformed religion by the Edict of Orleans, and to banish all their preachers from France. The Prince of Condé's request that the King would observe the terms of the Edict and dismiss his foreign soldiers, was answered by an order that he should at once disarm his followers. The question of taxation was not without its influence in producing the ensuing troubles, as amongst the principal demands of Condé was one insisting on the abolition of all taxes imposed since the reign of Louis XII., and that an account should be given of the management of the finances during the preceding seven years. This latter request was more especially intended to injure the Queen Mother, Catherine de Medicis. Open hostilities were commenced towards the end of September, by an abortive attempt on the part of the Prince with 700 horse, to seize the King on his journey from Meaux to Paris, which was foiled by the gallantry of the Swiss.

17. Norris's despatches are then taken up with accounts of the military manœuvres on either side. He gives a very full description of the battle of St. Denis and the death of the Constable Montmorency [Nov. 1567], and also sent a spirited sketch or plan of the engagement drawn by his two sons and William Berkeley, who were present at the battle.


18. A letter from Frederic, the Elector Palatine to Charles IX., dated 19th Jan. 1568, contains a clear summary of the political situation in France. The Elector declares that he has allowed his son, Duke John Casimir, to assist the Prince of Condé and his adherents on no other ground than for the defence of their religion. The King's envoys, Lignerolles and Lansac, having sown reports throughout Germany that the Edict of Pacification had always been properly observed, and that the Prince had no other object in his rebellion than to deprive the King of his crown, and moreover had money struck as if he had been King himself, the Elector sent his councillor, Zuleger, to ascertain the truth of these statements. Zuleger on his return informed him that when before the King's Council he demanded proofs of the Prince's intention of making himself King; the Queen Mother replied that it was a mockery, and that the money struck by the Prince bore the King's own superscription and arms. The chief noblemen of the Prince's party also told Zuleger that if they had the slightest suspicion that the Prince wished them to change their sovereign, or to take up arms for his private quarrels against the house of Guise or others, not one of them would stop with him, but that their religion and the preservation of their lives and property was the sole cause of their being in the field. The Elector then disposes of the assertion that the Edict of Pacification had been properly observed by the King's own public acts, and also by statements made by him and the Queen Mother to Zuleger, which differed so widely from the assertions of his envoys, that the Elector considered himself bound to send aid to the Prince of Condé. The Peace of Longjumeau concluded on 4th March 1568, although it put a stop for a short period to open movements in the field, did not in the least alleviate the disorders under which France was suffering. The mortal hatred that raged between the Houses of Guise and Montmorency caused the most violent dissensions and quarrels even in the Privy Council. On more than one occasion the Marshal Montmorency charged the Cardinal of Lorraine with being the cause of all the mischief, and once declared that his devices were "so pernicious and strange that he must needs conclude that they proceed from the malice and rancour of strangers." Another time the Cardinal of Lorraine after giving the Chancellor L'Hôpital the lie and telling him that he deserved to lose his head, would have proceeded to personal violence but for the intervention of Montmorency (Sept. 25, 1568). In a letter dated 12th May 1568 Norris gives a full description of these two factions, and of the tortuous policy of Catherine de Medicis. In connection with the peace of Longjumeau Norris mentions the fact of the Queen Mother consulting her astrologer Messire Nonio as to what he found by the stars touching it. (fn. 17) Nonio, after talking about the eclipse of the sun and "the virtue of the conjunction of Saturn and Mars which was in Aries last year," very prudently concluded with stating that the heavens did not constrain the inferior powers but only disposed them. (fn. 18)

19. Nearly every letter contains notice of some cruel murder or outrage perpetrated by one or the other of the contending parties. The state of the country is described as utterly miserable; the people (the poverty) having ceased to cultivate the soil or practise other industries, being either impressed as soldiers, or (fn. 19) "not daring to approach town or village all being replenished with reiters or those who treat them as ill, whereby they miserably die in the fields." In Paris matters were equally bad, as all who were suspected of being Huguenots were murdered openly in the streets or thrown into the river by the populace. The Queen Mother could not ride in the streets without an increased guard on account of the violence of the commonalty who were exasperated against her by their preachers. Many of the religion who dwelt in the large towns understanding with what cruelty the Protestants were used, would not return to their houses but kept the field under their captains. (fn. 20) The King hereupon addressed secret letters to the different governors commanding them to put them to the sword, and if they retired into the cities to deprive them of their arms, and that those who left their armour in the country were not to be suffered to enter the towns but charged to return and fetch their arms. The ambition and violence of the Cardinal of Lorraine gave rise to another party who are thus described by Norris, "there be two kinds of people whom the Papists term Huguenots; viz., Huguenots of religion and Huguenots of state; the one of these perceiving that the Cardinal works to ruin them, and their peculiar force not sufficient to withstand his malice have shown appearance that they will join with the other, who seeing themselves excluded from all authority and those of Guise to usurp the whole authority, presently practise a firm faction and league between themselves, either part promising to support the other." (fn. 21)

20. The true origin of the proposed match between Elizabeth and the Duke of Anjou is disclosed in a letter from Norris to Cecil, dated 23rd June 1568. He tells him that a gentleman named Menillie, a great friend of the Admiral Coligny, had desired to have a conference with him, and that he had accordingly sent his secretary to him. Menillie pointed out the critical position in which all those of the reformed religion stood more especially through the persevering enmity of the Cardinal of Lorraine who was chiefly maintained in power through the influence that he had over the Duke of Anjou. He said that he was commissioned to state by the Marshal Montmorency that he saw no way so good for counteracting that influence as that there should be some overture of marriage between the Queen of England and Monsieur even though she never intended the marriage itself to take place. Montmorency by breaking this matter to the Duke was certain that not only he but also his mother and brother would most eagerly embrace the idea, and Montmorency taking upon himself the management of the negociation would so creep into credit with Monsieur as to supplant the Cardinal in the favour of the Court. This was a matter of such vital importance to the Huguenot party that they spared no pains to bring it about, and Norris' letters are full of details of real or pretended conspiracies in England, and threatened invasions from France, which were reported to him with the evident desire of exciting the apprehensions of Elizabeth and her advisers. Though they even went so far as to declare that special persons had been sent over to assassinate the Queen, yet as they never gave the names of those in England who were concerned in the conspiracy, neither Cecil or Norris seem at first to have put much faith in their statements. Nevertheless, on the 29th June the Earls of Leicester and Pembroke, together with Cecil, wrote to Norris, signifying their approbation of this scheme, insomuch as it would tend to the downfall of the Cardinal, though at the same time they said that there was no likelihood for sundry respects of the marriage ever taking place. Norris' letters continue down to the end of the volume to be full of warnings of designs against Queen Elizabeth, and of the danger incurred by the residence of the Queen of Scots in England. (fn. 22)


21. Amongst minor matters of interest mentioned by Norris there is a curious account of a quarrel in the King's camp between M. de Mirru, the colonel of the Swiss troops and the Seigneur de Martigues, which nearly produced very serious consequences (Jan. 29th, 1568). Eighteen of the English taken prisoners in 1562 at Rouen still survived and were detained in cruel captivity in the galleys at Marseilles notwithstanding the remonstrances of Norris. The restitution of Calais was not yet entirely despaired of as late as May 1567, see No. 1186. Captain Ninian Cockburn, another of Cecil's correspondents, was originally one of the Scotch guard, and is described by Sir James Melville in 1553 as being a "busie medler;" at this date 1566, however, he appears to have been deep in the confidence of the Queen Mother, and was in receipt of a pension of 1,500 francs; he was, nevertheless, in very close communication with Cecil and professed himself to be an ardent follower of the reformed religion. In July 1568, his treason being discovered, all his papers were consequently seized and himself forced to fly for his life. The letters of Cockburn are almost entirely taken up with disclosures of the intrigues between the French Court and the Queen of Scots against England.

22. At the end of the documents for 1566 will be found an interesting despatch from Don Francisco de Alava, the Spanish Ambassador in France to the Duchess of Parma, which probably came into the hands of Norris through the Ambassador's secretary who had been corrupted by the Admiral Coligny. (fn. 23) Alva advises the Duchess to temporise with the "serviteurs masques" (meaning most probably Egmont and Horn), and to let them know what a good opinion the King has of their actions, and that he believes that it is through them that the Low Countries still obey him. If she thinks this deceitful she must consider that the times and the King's service require artificial language. This had already been done with Montigny and the Marquis of Bergen who had gone to Spain and had been completely won over to the King's side; nevertheless it was determined not to let them return, and such an espionage was kept over them even in their households that they could not do or say anything which was not well known. The King would rather risk the whole of the rest of his kingdom than fail in giving those of Flanders an exemplary chastisement. He then details the means that he has adopted to break off a proposed league between the French Court and certain Lutheran Princes of Germany which he considers would be disastrous to Catholicism in France, and to the interests of his master. He also gives his opinion of Catherine de Medicis whom he terms one of the most deceitful persons in the world, and complains that he can get nothing from her but words, but declares that he will take care that they shall not boast of outwitting a Spaniard. The French correspondence in this volume concludes with attempts at the assassination of the Huguenot leaders, the massacre of their followers, the consequent renewal of civil war, and the movements of the different forces.


23. The papers relating to Flanders commence with the despatches of Lord Montague, Dr. Wotton, and Walter Haddon who were sent over to Bruges to arrange the basis of a treaty of commerce between England and the Low Countries, and are confined chiefly to accounts of their negociations with the commissioners appointed to act on the other side. Richard Clough, however, who was Sir Thomas Gresham's agent at Antwerp, intersperses his business letters with descriptions of the rise of the troubles in the Low Countries, the proceedings of the Iconoclasts, and the confusion and disturbances that reigned at Antwerp and the consequent emigration of the better class of citizens, both native and foreign from that town. Notices will also be found of the establishment of the inquisition; the celebrated march of Alva to the Low Countries, the siege of Valenciennes, and the arrest and execution of Counts Egmont and Horn.

24. At page 159 the reader will find mention of a History of the Netherlands consisting of 154 pages of closely written manuscript which was unfortunately too bulky to admit of analysis. In addition to the general history of the Netherlands from 1369 to 1566, it gives an account of the rise and progress of the reformation in England, France, and the Low Countries, and finishes with a very graphic and interesting description of the proceedings of the Iconoclasts.


25. The papers relating to Germany are chiefly taken up by the negociations for the marriage between the Queen and the Archduke Charles of Austria, for which purpose Thomas Dannett was sent over to Vienna in the summer of 1566. His directions were merely to sound the Emperor and the Archduke, and more particularly to remark the personal appearance of the latter. On page 99 the reader will find the results of his observations in a very minute description of the Archduke contained in a report sent by Dannett to the Queen.

26. The letters of the Earl of Sussex who was sent in the following June to invest the Emperor with the Garter, and to bring the matter of the marriage to a conclusion; certain accounts of his journey, his honourable reception by the Emperor, and the different negociations on the subjects of freedom of worship to be enjoyed by the Archduke, and jointure in case the marriage took effect. Mundt, whose correspondence was so copious and interesting in the former volumes of these calendars, will be found in the present to have almost ceased to write; comparatively few letters bearing his signature.


27. The Italian papers consist of newsletters containing information of a very disconnected and often contradictory character, and seldom of any importance, and have therefore much shorter abstracts accorded to them. On page 161 will be found a comparison between Italy and Germany which is rather amusing from the strong feeling of prejudice evidently entertained by the writer against the former country and its inhabitants.

28. On page 514 is a letter from Mr. Arthur Hall to Cecil, which mentions the building of the House of the Inquisition at Rome, and complains of the disloyalty of the colony of English refugees in that city.


29. Of Sweden there is very little mention in this volume, the documents consisting of two or three letters from Eric XIV. to the Queen, and an account of his deposition sent from Denmark by Captain John Clerk, (fn. 24) who had gone thither to demand the extradition of Bothwell.


30. The papers relating to Spain are not very numerous and consist principally of the despatches of Dr. John Man, the ambassador at the Spanish Court. The appointment of Man was peculiarly distasteful to Philip, as he was a married ecclesiastic of the reformed religion; he also appears to have been extremely unguarded in his language and contrived to mortally offend the Duke of Feria, which led to his dismissal with disgrace from the Spanish Court (see April 23rd, 1568).

31. He appears to have been a man with little tact or judgment, which is the more to be regretted as it was during his embassy that that mysterious eposide in Spanish history of the arrest and death of Don Carlos took place. He is unable to throw much light on this matter, as from his position he could only gather his information from the common rumours of the day. On page 405 is an account of an interview with Ruy Gomez, who was sent by the King to communicate to Man such knowledge of the causes and circumstances of the Prince's arrest, as Philip thought it was advisable for him to forward to his mistress. The Spanish series is filled with complaints of piracies committed on the King of Spain's subjects by the English, and concludes with the seizure at Southampton of a large mass of treasure belonging to Philip on board a Spanish vessel by the Governor of the Isle of Wight (see Horsey to Cecil, 24th Dec. 1568).


32. In this volume we begin to have mention of Russia, though the papers relating to that country consist of the reports of the agents of the Muscovy company, which contain little else than mutual recriminations and complaints. On page 480 we have the instructions given to Sir Thomas Randolph who was sent to the Czar Ivan Basilswitz in June 1568 to establish a treaty of commerce with Russia. Randolph landed in Russia on the 3rd August, and wrote to Cecil announcing his arrival after a very disagreeable voyage, and informing him of the great cruelty exercised by the Emperor, expressing his desire to get quickly out of such a country where "heads go so fast to the pot."

33. Amongst matters of miscellaneous interest it may be well to draw attention to the process of Jacques Spifane ci devant Bishop of Nevers before the Syndics of Geneva; who being accused of all kinds of abominable offences, was found guilty on all counts and executed the same day, see March 23d, 1566. At page 285 we have the punishment of Regulus repeated, a captain of the Emperor being rolled down a hill in a cask studded with nails by the Turks. (fn. 25) A coloured drawing of the Kirk O'Field showing the position of Darnley and his servant's body when found; (fn. 26) also another of the banner used by the confederate Lords at Carberry Hill, and afterwards carried before Mary into Edinburgh after her surrender; together with a drawing of the surrender are preserved amongst the papers of the Scottish correspondence. (fn. 27) Under July 20th, 1568, will be found a rather obscure allusion to Sir William Stewart, King-at-Arms, who was executed early in the following year for attempting to compass Murray's death by witchcraft. The word "yachte" applied to a ship occurs in a letter dated 24th Oct. 1567. No. 930, a letter from the Duke of Alva to Elizabeth, announcing his arrival in the Low Countries, and dated 7th Feb. 1567, should have been placed after No. 1993 in 1568, to which year it manifestly belongs.

34. Although the Scottish papers undoubtedly possess more interest than any of the others herein calendared, they have been for the most part dismissed with comparatively brief notices, as many of them are already printed at full length in different well-known works.

A. J. Crosby.

Rolls House,
29 October 1871.


  • 1. Nos. 81, 118.
  • 2. No. 77.
  • 3. No. 114.
  • 4. No. 82.
  • 5. Nos. 229, 243.
  • 6. No. 217.
  • 7. Nos. 208, 303, 496.
  • 8. No. 1538.
  • 9. No. 1447.
  • 10. Nos. 1468, 1484.
  • 11. No. 1447.
  • 12. No. 1365.
  • 13. No. 1500.
  • 14. Nos. 1583, 1576, 1615.
  • 15. No. 2406.
  • 16. Nos. 2397, 2430.
  • 17. No. 2040.
  • 18. No. 2040.
  • 19. No. 2058.
  • 20. No. 2248.
  • 21. No. 2235.
  • 22. No. 2467.
  • 23. No. 1230.
  • 24. No. 2637.
  • 25. No. 941.
  • 26. No. 1360.
  • 27. No. 1301.