Venice: February 1583

Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 8, 1581-1591. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1894.

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'Venice: February 1583', Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 8, 1581-1591, (London, 1894), pp. 48-49. British History Online [accessed 13 June 2024].

. "Venice: February 1583", in Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 8, 1581-1591, (London, 1894) 48-49. British History Online, accessed June 13, 2024,

. "Venice: February 1583", Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 8, 1581-1591, (London, 1894). 48-49. British History Online. Web. 13 June 2024,

February 1583

Feb. 4. Enclosed in preceding Despatch. 124. Letter from the Prince of Orange to the Queen of England.
The sincere affection which it has pleased your Majesty to show the Low Countries during these miserable wars, and the great benefits received from you encourage me to set forth the designs against this city of Antwerp, and other cities of Brabant and Flanders on the 17th of last month. You have recently been well-informed of the just and legitimate reasons which these States had to sustain the war against the King of Spain. You also know that the States, after in vain endeavouring, by all possible means, through the intercession of your Majesty, and of other Christian Princes, to come to terms with his Majesty, on the basis of a tolerable sound and enduring peace, have been obliged to change their allegiance and transfer it to the Duke of Alençon, sole brother of the King of France. To him the States have already taken the oath, and the people of Brabant and of Antwerp have solemnly received him as their sovereign Lord and Prince; and he too, as well as they, has taken the customary oath in the presence of many Princes and nobles of England, France, and the Low Countries. But after Brabant, Flanders, and all the provinces in general had received the Prince with joy, and promised themselves that by God's grace they were now about to be victorious over the Spanish, and to enjoy tranquillity, peace, and concord, so long desired, after offering loyal obedience to their liege Lord, not merely in the observance of the treaty of Bordeaux, but above and beyond that, in contributing larger sums than were stipulated, out of regard for the virtue, prudence magnanimity, and clemency of this Prince which bed them to look for that kindly treatment to be expected from a father, defeneder, and saviour of the country. In spite of all this Monsieur summoned from France a very large detachment of cavalry and infantry and a regiment of about four thousand Swiss, which he massed in the suburbs of Antwerp, and on the 17th of January, about one o'clock in the afternoon, he seized the Kipdorp Gate, intending to introduce his troops into the town; and, as a matter of fact, three or four hundred lancers, and about twenty companies of infantry, did enter with a view to making themselves masters of the town by a sudden blow, while the citizens were at dinner. The gate was seized, its guaids cut to pieces, the flanking wads occupied, and the main streets, almost as far as the market place, to the cry of “Long live the mass; slay, slay, slay; city taken, city taken.” But our God, who is ever mindful of his own, put heart into the Burghers, and some of them, right few at first, helped by the chains that were straightway run. across the streets, bore the brunt of the attack meantime the cry to arms was raised throughout the town, and some companies put hastily together; and God in his mercy gave the victory to the Burghers, who drove the French from the ramparts and out of all the main streets, compelling them to fly for the gate by which they had come in. Some of them threw themselves from the ramparts into the fosse, and there was no small slaughter; of the Burghers some eighty were slain, and of the French about one thousand five hundred. The regiment of Swiss and the rest of the array that was marching on the town, seeing that the victory was lost, withdrew; and, although the French had acted with barbarity, sacking and firing in two places that part of the city which they had seized, the Burghers behaved themselves so generously that they spared the fourteen or fifteen hundred men who were made prisoners.
The same day Monsieur, who was at Berchem, wrote to the States and to us. He endeavoured to lay the blame on others, but, as he has attempted a similar stroke at Bruges, Ostend. Nieuport, Dendermonde, Dixmuyd, and Vilvorde, it is quite clear that the whole is a long matured scheme, and in no way provoked. Indeed, for us it is as a matter of extreme grief to see our hopes that Clod had sent him as the instrument of our safety and liberty dashed to the ground. The States General have resolved to inquire into the origin of these events, but, above all, to soften and smooth matters.
All this we have thought it expedient to place before your Majesty, entreating you not to have any other opinion of the good citizens of Antwerp than that they are most obedient and loyal to the Prince who will treat them rightly and reasonably, and in accordance with the oath he took; that there is not a people in the world that loves its sovereigns more. And we hope that, notwithstanding all that has happened, your Majesty will not abate the liberal and large affection which you bear towards this country, and with this, madame we pray God to preserve your Majesty in long and happy life, and to fulfil your high and noble desires.
Antwerp, 4th February 1583.