October 1578, 1-10


Institute of Historical Research



Arthur John Butler (editor)

Year published





Comment on this article
Double click anywhere on the text to add an annotation in-line

Citation Show another format:

'Elizabeth: October 1578, 1-10', Calendar of State Papers Foreign, Elizabeth, Volume 13: 1578-1579 (1903), pp. 216-231. URL: http://british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=73377 Date accessed: 20 April 2014. Add to my bookshelf


(Min 3 characters)

October 1578, 1-10

Oct. 2. 286. FREMYN to DAVISON.
I wrote to you last on the 27th ult. Things progress but slowly here, with little result ; and I fear that this great army will not do great things, owing to the lack of conduct shown in the leading of it (pour le peu de conduite qu 'il y a eu en la conduite d'icelle) up to now, and that the enemy will win a battle without fighting. He has not once beaten up our quarters since we came here. Meanwhile there has been great mortality in our camp, and the sickness increases from day to day, besides the plague which is all over this country ; and the soldiers going out to forage or plunder take the infection (mauvais air) which brings them to the grave, for the lack of aid in the camp. We have been eight days in this place, awaiting the capture or surrender of Binche. It was battered without result on the 29th, and good men were lost to no purpose. The bombardment was desultory and as slack as ever was, both the charging of the guns, which was ineffective owing to the bad quality of the powder, and those in charge of the guns. To-day we are to reconnoitre the battery on the side where the castle is. The Estates are sending reinforcements of artillery and ammunition. God grant all may go well, and that these delays may not be prejudicial to the repose of the country. The Estates owe two months' pay to Duke Casimir's force, and have represented to him their necessitous state and lack of means to pay so large an army at present ; praying him on the Archduke's part and their own to take pity on their affairs and to do what he can to induce his colonels and men to be content for the present with half a month, and at the end of October they will pay a whole month, so that if they do pay, they will be two and a half months in arrear. Meanwhile there has been a conference between the reiters and the colonels, who have sworn a compact not to disband till they have been paid in full. To this effect they assembled two days ago, and it was decided yesterday. Our French soldiers are dwindling greatly. They decamp with their plunder every day, and go back to France. If Binche is taken the greater part of Monsieur's army will be off, as indeed they now are going day by day. There is a very bad opinion of Monsieur's behaviour and actions in France, and it is said there are secret intelligences between him and the king his brother ; and that all the preparations in France are from fear lest the Germans should wish to go and winter there. We shall see what the English ambassador will do in the matter of peace. Count Wolrat of Mansfelt is said to be coming to Monsieur with 3,000 horse ; if so there must be some great design a foot. Everything for 8 leagues around has been pillaged by our soldiers to such an extent that our army would seem to be employed to no other end ; thus there is no discipline, which causes disaffection and disobedience. The end will crown the work. There is nothing else at present. Casimir is still at Brussels. I make no doubt that if he was in Germany he would take care not to come here without better security. It seems to me that he has no great reason to be content. Monsieur the King's brother is very ill-content that the promise made to him is not kept, and very indignant that he cannot have Mons at his devotion ; so much so that I think he will not stay long in these quarters, but will take some excuse for withdrawing, being unable to attain his purposes. God preserve us from treason with our artillery.—From the camp at Timéon, 2 Oct. 1578. P.S.—Binche will be battered by the breach which King Henry made when he took it. Don John is reported dead or very ill. Add. Endd. Fr. 2 pp. [Holl. and Fl. IX. 51.]
I have delayed this dispatch in hope I should ere this have cleared with Spinola, so that I might have sent an account of what remains to be delivered by him into my hands. But as I fear it will be two or three days yet before I can finish with him by reason of the trouble we have with the 'tolling' and weighing of the divers sorts of coins, besides the other difficulties you knew of before your departure, and because I have other reasons worthy of a dispatch I would keep you waiting no longer. Since your departure the States have received letters from the Duke of Alençon, stating that the Baron of Montfort, with 2,000 harquebusiers, whom he has sent to kindle the fire in High Burgundy, beginning on the 14th ult. has already seized St. Amour, St. Laurens-la-Roche, which belongs to the Prince of Orange, Chevreaux, Lestoile, Precilly (sic), Saintguy and other little fortresses in that corner, and cut to pieces divers companies of the enemy ; 5 or 6 of whose torn ensigns being sent to the Duke for a present, are by him sent to the States for 'reliquies.' Also that other troops of his having entered Luxembourg have defeated some of the enemy's horse, and so 'travail' that part that lies upon the Mase as to deprive him of the succours which by favour of that river he might receive from France. This letter, dated Sept. 29, in which he also complained of the States' delay both in surrendering the town promised and in supplying his army with powder and other necessaries for the battery of 'Bins,' came here last Tuesday night, accompanied by certain letters of the enemy's intercepted in Burgundy, by which the state of Son John and his army is deciphered to be very miserable ; namely, in certain of them which I have seen (whereof I send two copies, being as many as I can recover) [in the copy : of which I send the copies of one to Andrea Doria, Prince of 'Melphy,' and another to the Ambassador of Genoa] in which Don John, accusing his fortune and condemning the King and Council of Spain, 'as whose' negligence or wilfulness has been the chief cause of the extremity to which his affairs are reduced, that what with famine and pestilence his whole army is not now above 12,000 men ; that money utterly fails him ; that out of the hospital of Namur only he has of late buried over 1,000 natural Spaniards dead of plague and penury ; that he has already begun to make a hole in the store which he reserved for extreme necessity. Besides this he has to make head with a handful of men against one of the greatest armies seen in Christendom in our days ; while if the French King falls upon Burgundy, which he looks for as soon as he sees his brother's affairs on a prosperous footing, he will not be able to hold out three months. In time, his extremity is such that he must either hazard both the King's state and his own life and fortune in a battle, whereof he can expect no good issue ; or else seek a hole wherethrough to escape with his utter dishonour. Such was the content of these letters, the like of which in substance the Prince of Parma, Gonzaga, and others of quality about him write to their friends, making it apparent that their case is so desperate that they wot not on which side to turn. The appearance is great therefore that if the States can entertain their army in the field two months longer they will reduce their enemy to reason against his will. In the 'neck' of this news the Prince had advice by his 'spiall' that Don John was 'extreme sick' of the place. Since then, news has come from our camp that he is dead ; which if it be true will not a little change the state of things here. The French before Bins being as far as I can learn not past 9,000 men in all, but very gallantly appointed, have not yet 'exploited' anything of importance. On Monday last they battered a gate and the curtain of a bulwark, on which they bestowed 800 or 900 shot ; but when they sent to discover the breach, those in charge finding their battery to have done little hurt, by reason of the thickness of the 'rampier' within and the diligence of the defenders in repairing it, retired with the loss of divers of their company ; and have not since renewed the battery for want of artillery, powder, and shot, in which the States have till now been rather slack about supplying them. That place taken, it is thought they will march direct to Namur, with the rest of the States' forces now lying between Nivelle and Bins both to see an end of that siege and in expectation of their pay ; without which the voters have vowed not to stir. Casimir remains at Brussels, malcontent and as I hear resolved at heart to retire. The agreement is now made between the Catholics and Protestants of this town for the churches of St. Andrew's, the Grey Friars of the Jacobins, which they had requested for the use of their religion ; and on Sunday next they are to take possession. In Flanders we hear that the mutinied regiment of Hèze, Montigny, and Cappres, to the number of 30 ensigns and 300 horse have taken the castle of Comines [altered in the first copy to are seized of Meenen, a little town on the river of [Lys] between Courtray and Armentières] which they are fortifying ; and it is reported that their colonels have declared themselves to take their part against those of Ghent. This piece of work, coming out of the French forge, and serving very aptly for their purpose, will, I fear, occasion some inconvenience in that corner ; though I cannot but impute a great part of the cause to the dealings of the Gauntoys, who in many things give just occasion of discontent even to the best affected. They have of late apprehended M. d' Aussy, brother to Count Bossu, governor of Alost, a town under their subjection, because he 'made difficulty' to let them break down the images there, but I hear there is order given for his release. The augmented garrison at Gravelines, which as is discovered by some intercepted letters had an enterprise in hand against Dunkirk, has not yet 'innovated' anything in that corner. The States of Holland, Zealand, Frize, Guelders, Groningen and Overyssel have deputies at present assembled at 'Newmeghen' about the concluding of a mutual league offensive and defensive for the preservation of their states against all that shall attempt them ; on which I shall give you better light in my next. By letters out of Italy we hear that 400,000 crowns are newly arrived at Genoa for the supply of Don John ; that all that country is attentively awaiting the issue of affairs here ; that there has been some 'towardness to a broil' between the 'Luquoys' and the Duke of Ferrara by the fault of some loose men of their borders ; on whom justice has been done. For the rest, all is quiet. From Spain it is announced that a new fleet is arrived from Peru, in which the King has 800,000 ducats. The Cardinal, chosen to succeed the King of Portugal, makes a difficulty to take the kingdom without a dispensation from the Pope and has sent an embassy for his decision. The two sons of the King of Spain were elected to succeed him if he dies without issue. The Duke of Terranova embarked on the 9th ult. for Genoa, going to the Emperor about the 'long spoken' negotiation of peace ; and that the King 'pretends' nothing more than a good result from it.—Antwerp, 4 Oct. 1578. Add. Endd. by L. Tomson and another. 3 pp. [Holl. and Fl. IX. 52.]
Oct. 4. 288. Draft of above, omitting last two pars. Endd. 3¼ pp. [Ibid. IX. 52a.]
Oct. 4. 289. Another draft of the above, omitting first par. only, endd. in Davison's hand : Minute of the 4th of October, 1578, to the Secretaries. 2½ pp. [Ibid. IX. 52b.]
Mr Secretary was, as I think, so diligent in advertising you of what passed during his abode here, that I abstained from troubling you with my impertinent letters. What has occurred since his departure you may perceive by the particulars 'hereinclosed.'— Antwerp, 4 Oct. 1578. Apparently draft. Endd. ½ p. [Holl. and Fl. IX. 53.]
Oct. 4. 291. FREMYN to DAVISON.
I wrote to you last on the 2nd. As for present events in the camp, we continue to make war on the poor. It is hateful to have so many poor people dying of hunger from having been utterly despoiled by our men, coming to ask alms in the camp. Pestilence, war, famine, the three scourges of the wrath of God, abound in these quarters. Here is the twelfth day that we have been sojurning here, waiting for the capture of Binche, which is long delayed ; a great disgrace that so large an army should produce so little effect, when time ought to be husbanded like gold. To-day the battery is to take place ; we shall see what comes of it. Meanwhile Monsieur's soldiers are going back to France in troops, without leave ; ay, captains, lieutenants, and ensigns. It is stated with assurance that in the last two days more than 800 have gone, and that if Binche is taken, which is retaining the greater part with the hope of enriching themselves by plunder, then even the principal men about Monsieur will return. Last Tuesday Bussy got a graze on the arm from a musket, and had a narrow escape. The plague has got into Monsieur's camp as well as ours and Don John's, who they say died two days ago. However this report. Six ensigns of foot were sent yesterday to Gemblours, three leagues from the enemy's camp. In it there were of his people 18 soldiers and 27 putins ; it was surprised without resistance. The enemy attempts nothing whatever against us. Up to now he is on the defensive, and keeping himself for time and place. Count Bossu goes daily to and fro to Bins, as do the Viscount and other gentlemen in this army. Duke Casimir remains at Brussels and seems to have no great wish to come to the camp.—The camp at Timéon, 4 Oct. 1578. P.S.—Monsieur would pay a million crowns not to have set foot in the Low Countries, for the little effect the promises to him have had. He will soon withdraw. Add. Fr. 1 p. [Ibid. IX. 54.]
Since you and the States-General have been pleased to honour me with the charge of Lieutenant-General, it is my duty not only to perform my functions when matters are falling out as we desire, but also to advertise all men of approaching dangers ; in order either that a remedy may be sought if any can be found, or at the least that all good subjects here, and the world at large, may know that if any inconvenience happen it will not be due to want of foresight in me, nor to any failure in the execution of my office. It is true that both my letters to you generally and to individuals among you, and also by word of mouth to your deputies at Dendermonde, I have warned you that if order be not taken in our affairs, we shall soon have to come to as favourable terms as we can with the enemy or look for the utter ruin of the Low Countries. You cannot be ignorant what our army is, and how composed ; and I have often told you how much time we have lost for want of means and money. It has also been explained to you that at the end of last month we were obliged to give them a month's pay, otherwise they would not have marched. Owing to their presence we have taken several fortresses from the enemy, and Nivelle as well, and Binche, as I hope, in a few days ; when we shall approach the enemy as closely as may be possible. But if we fail to perform our promise, I can foresee nothing else than that either by division or mutiny our army will be broken up by the enemy, who is on the watch and will not let slip this opportunity, of which he doubtless has notice, or else that the army, flinging itself upon those provinces which still have some means of livelihood, will complete the ruin of the country. Nor need you doubt that the other countries once ruined they will soon find their way into the very entrails of Flanders, for Brabant has already been so harassed that in many parts of the open country no inhabitants remain ; so that when money is short with the army, victuallers (vivandiers) will run short also, and if they fail, the soldiers will be compelled to seek victuals in the countries which they think have been least ransacked, such as Flanders, Artois, Lille, Douay, Orchies, and Tournesis. These are not simple conjectures, but things which, if steps are not taken, cannot turn out otherwise. Meanwhile the people are crying out on all sides that they are vexed without end, that they are paying the moyens généraux and not failing. Thence it happens that some people are disseminating a report that I am sending great sums elsewhere. Others, more sharpsighted, are in revolt, knowing that a good part of the money is used up before it reaches the exchequer ; whence it happens that some are seduced and withdraw their aid, and at last comes general discontent in the provinces, each casting the blame on the other, and they go to ruin while the time passes in mutual accusation. But of all the evils which I see around, I must confess—and I must let you know of it once for all, as in duty bound, praying you to take it in good part, as from one who has given proof of his love for you, for your safety too, and not for your ruin, your honour and not your infamy,—[the greatest] is that though you have done many acts worthy of good patriots, for which the country is indebted to you, you have in several things gone beyond reason and moderation. For to levy soldiers and send them out without the permission of any superior, is not the way to keep within the limits of those who would live within the confederation sworn among the provinces. And I must tell you what I am determined not to conceal, that you are the cause of many conceiving an ill opinion of me, as if these things were done at my instigation, the fact being that you have communicated no more with me than with a 'poor foreigner.' Others, learning that I have nothing to do with it, recognise also that while nominally I bear the title of lieutenant-general, I am in fact nothing but the butt at which every man discharges the shafts of his slander, as he is transported by his own passion. By your occasion also quarrels and divisions are kept up throughout the country, especially in Flanders, and party-spirit in every town, which greatly checks the succour in money we expect from Flanders ; the best part of them being spent by you, without any necessity, in maintaining troops whom you could do without if by gentler means you took steps to retain the hearts of your compatriots by friendship and good will, rather than to keep them in subjection by rigour. Here you need not plead the furtherance of the Gospel. I professed this long ago, and before you, and I declare that by the grace of God I will, like you, profess it till I die. The road which you are on is far away from the simplicity of the Gospel, whose power is quite other than that of the sword, and which turns men's hearts in another way. So that by reason of your actions many are alienated from us, and treat roughly those who have not yet such freedom as you have. But inasmuch as God has given you grace abundantly to enjoy, I know what ground you have for going on with the commissions, complaints whereof have come to my ears from many noblemen, clergy, and peasants, who have been plundered and held to ransom by those who cloaking themselves in your authority think nothing impossible to them ; everywhere breaking down cloisters and images, pillaging the monasteries, whence we might have drawn good sums for the support of the war ; while now they serve only to fill the purse of a few vagabonds, who go yet further and, under pretext of looking for church property, enter the houses of good subjects. The result is not only that there is ill-will towards you in many places, but that the name of God is blasphemed by many, who cast upon the Gospel what is committed by those who have no part in it. These, gentlemen, are present evils which will bring a flood of dangers upon us and inevitable ruin, if we do not meet them in ripeness of counsel. You cannot be ignorant that many insurgent and mutinous bands are assembled, whom the enemy only ask to lead on his string ; nor can it be doubted that those who are thus injured and hunted will seek all means of revenge, the least evil result of which will be the breaking up of the Churches in the country parts of Artois and Lille, which are already in much distress on account of you, and finally of those in Flanders. Wherefore I have thought it good to represent the above to you openly and frankly, that you may yourselves seek a remedy before the sickness is desperate. At the same time I would discharge my duty towards God, towards the country, towards you and towards my own honour ; protesting that I must be held blameless of all the evil that may befall therefrom, and that to you on the contrary it must be imputed. Notwithstanding, if you on your part will do your best to restore things to a state of peace, I shall be glad to employ such resources and authority as remain to me in order that when that is done, all may have cause to be content, and that the country may be maintained in good order and mutual understanding. And it seems to me, under correction, that it would be much better if when mutual understanding has removed all distrust among the cities of Flanders, the country were relieved from useless expenditure, and in the mean time thought were taken for good means of attaining security in all directions. In regard to this I would ask you in reply to give me your opinion at large upon the proposals brought by this bearer ; or rather to send to me some of your chief citizens, to make such proposals as you shall judge expedient, that we may come to some joint and final resolution such as may be to the general contentment of the country and the preservation of the poor subjects who have been so long harassed and tormented, and whose hope, under God, is in those who have the charge and guidance of them.—4 Oct. 1578. [Copy. Fr. 3¾ pp. Holl. and Fl. IX. 54.]
For many 'cortesses' I find myself much beholden, which 'forsthe' me to let you see that I will not be ungrateful, 'and tell' [? until] a better means may 'present.' I durst not let my man depart without these few lines, of which 'fforome hensse forthe' you shall not miss. Since our departure from Nivelle to this place nothing has happened save that 'Jublue' [? Gemblours] surrendered yesterday ; in which place were 40 soldiers, who were brought here as prisoners. I have been twice at Monsieur's camp, the day he thought to 'make breach' ; at which time, and since, I never 'sse' more 'indascrytte' and insufficient commanding, and as poor performing, for they 'presented' to have scaled a tower that they had breached, but retired without approaching, and left their ladders in the ditch. The company that I saw were bravely armed for harquebusiers, but, for their apparel and personages, but 'reasonable.' I find that our general does not greatly like their company, and the commissary of the munitions ; and divers of our cannoneers that returned from them yesterday begin to doubt, to make the camp in 'jealousy' of the French ; for they swear that it cannot be otherwise because they go so untoward to work. M. la Noue told me that fourteen towns have been taken in the 'French County,' and that on that account the Baron of Chevereau is retiring home into Burgundy. Count Bossu told me yesterday that this unadvised enterprise of the French, which they undertook without directions, which makes them more jealous, has much hindered a brave enterprise of his ; but in my opinion it falls out of his 'better,' for it colours well the want of pay, without which the reiters will not stir. We had much ado, the last remove, to bring them hither.—From the camp lying at Busse [? Busec], 4 Oct. 1578. Add. Endd. 1½ pp. [Ibid. IX. 55.]
Oct. 5. 294. DAVISON to BURGHLEY.
By the enclosed you may see what has happened since the departure of our ambassador. Divers of the States have to-day advised me that they have constant news that Don John departed this life last Thursday. You can guess what a change this will make in the course of things here. Councillors Hessele and Visch, two of the first apprehended at Ghent, were yesterday executed, as we hear. M. d'Aussy, governor of Alost, brother to Count Bossu, who was the other day stayed by the Gantoys, is released upon his oath.—Antwerp, 5 Oct. 1578. P.S.—The Prince of Parma is said to be chosen general in place of Don John ; whose body has been taken to Marche, as some affirm. Others say it remains at [breaks off] Draft. Endd. ½ p. [Holl. and Fl. IX. 56.]
I was extremely sorry for your hasty departure, after your kindness in enrolling me among the servants of her Majesty. I desire to requite it so dexterously that, aided by you, we may overthrow the plots of our joint adversaries. Our state is further disturbed by mutual misunderstandings. On the Monday after your departure, Casimir sent to the Estates complaining of the small welcome given him compared with that given to M. d'Alençon ; to whom towns were granted as security, with authority to command him and his men, and he does not intend to obey anyone but his Highness—he will sooner demand his discharge. Count 'Swarsembourg' has been deputed to confer with him at Brussels, and reassure his apprehensions. The camp is still at Gochilly [Gosseliers] and round about Fleurus, fronting the enemy's force to prevent it from succouring those of Binche. On Wednesday the 1st inst. they made a sortie, and did a good deal of damage to the French in a furious skirmish. On Monday week the town was battered from daylight to 11 o'clock without making a practicable breach ; whereupon it was decided to bring 5 guns from Brussels and begin afresh. Those in the place have offered to surrender to the Estates. M. d'Alençon wants to have them at his mercy, to which they will not submit. Money has been found to pay the camp one month, and to this end twenty commissioners have been appointed to pass the musters. I have been nominated to pass the French ; a device brewed by Villiers to annoy me, inasmuch as I wanted to pass the English troops. On the 2nd inst. came letters from M. d'Alençon to the Prince which his Excellency showed me. The tenor was that 4,000 foot and 400 horse had entered the County of Burgundy, and having taken M. de Chevreau's castle, the castles of St. Laurent de la Roche, L'Estoile, and St. Amour, were attempting Lyon[sic]-le-Saulnier which was already parleying. These are places of small importance, but will annoy the enemy. Baron de Chevreau has left Louvain with 4 companies of cavalry and hastens to the rescue. At the same hour that their letters were delivered the Prince had given me a commission for the Baron of St. Remy, one of the chief noblemen of Burgundy to conduct the same operation in favour of the States. But Villiers, to support the cause of M. d'Alençon, upset that commission. I mean to get it restored by another channel, and to oppose the French. The Walloons assembled in Flanders through M. de la Motte's practices seem to be aided by M. de Lalaing, in order to enrol them under Monsieur ; in favour of whom M. de Montigny is suspected to be, although he was ordered to those parts by the Council of State to arrange about their payment with the Estates' Commissioners. Without regarding the said Commissioners they have seized Menin, a very strong little town, near Constray. Those of Ghent have assembled to disperse them ; but the Prince has sent M. d'Archy advising them to take no hostile steps till the Walloons have answered the Commissioners as to their intentions. If they do not obey them, 4,000 horse will be sent to defeat them. I think that M. d'Alençon has a hand in it, since M. de Hèze and other malcontents are going that way. What makes me conjecture it is so, is that M. d'Alençon is beginning to talk big, both by his letters and by the convoys whom he is hourly sending, and who are not ashamed to ask for Brussels for him to retreat to in person, Lierre and Mechlin for Landrecies and Quesnoy ; and when these were refused, Tournay, Lille, and Douay. On Wednesday the 1st came news that Don John, very ill, had been carried in a litter from Namur to Marche in Ardenne. On the same day were announced the deaths of Count de Rœulx and his wife, also Mondragon, of the plague. On Saturday it was published that Don John was dead at Marche ; upon which event money changed hands on the Exchange. Three spies came in succession the same day, confirming the news. The enemy is in a state of extreme perplexity if one may believe Don John's letters and those of several officers and men in his army, written to Italy and Spain. These were intercepted on Monday at Huy. Don John wrote to 'Andretyn' Doria at Genoa that if the King and the Pope did not help him with men and money he would have to withdraw to his disgrace ; and that the enemy was already cutting his communications on all sides. Many officers and soldiers write the same to their friends saying that non tenemus una piaca (sic), and that they lack victuals of all kinds ; for which cause los Flamengos will get an advantageous peace. Those of Bruges having discovered that a company of Messieurs de Gand which was in garrison was backing the commune in breaking images, paid it and turned it out of the town ; and had the images taken to private houses. On Wednesday the magistrates of Ghent arrested M. D'Aussy, and made him write letters to those of Alost instantly to admit three companies that they were sending ; which they would not do. The magistrates of Antwerp by advice of the sermens [?] would have allowed those of the Religion the Church of St. Andrew and the convent of the Cordeliers ; but certain prelates have made the Catholics oppose. They were on the sea (sic) Saturday evening to present a request against it to his Highness. I fear it will come to blows. The same day, the 4th, Binche was furiously assaulted, but the French were beaten off with great loss ; M. de Mouy and other gentlemen killed. A courier arrived this morning brings certain news of Don John's death ; but that 10,000 foot under Count Hannibal, and 4,000 under a Duke of Saxony are marching to the Spaniards.—Antwerp, 5 Oct. 1578. Add. Endd. by L. Tomson : from Mr Russell. 4½ pp. [Holl. and Fl. IX. 57.]
If I were not jealous for your Excellency's reputation, bound as I am to remain all my life your very affectionate servant, I should fear to annoy you by repeating in writing what I discoursed of at length to you by word of mouth two days ago. But the ardour of my affection for all that concerns your service urges me, till I forget even the fear which I might reasonably feel of offending you in the very least degree. And the more so, that the more I see the great importance of the matter in question, the more I perceive that you cast your eye wholly on the points which might have given you cause for displeasure and have your mind preoccupied by their apparent indignity, and allow no place for the consideration of the reasons on the other side ; albeit I think I can combat them, but even more in reliance on the sincerity whereto my conscience bears me witness, and which you may have perceived in me. I shall state the bare truth, without arguments, in the hope to have so much credit with you that at least you will not think me a liar in a matter upon which I hold that my country's weal depends I would willingly have declared to you this morning what I think of it, but the number and over-zeal of those opposed to me did not permit me. What I wish to say is that your Excellency (speaking under correction and with all respect) is greatly mistaken if you think that the Prince of Orange is not as loyal a servant and friend as you can have in the world, and has not in all possible ways sought all that could in any way concern your greatness ; and that those who would maintain that the Prince and States have ever done or thought of doing aught that could diminish or vilipend your authority and reputation are either very ill-formed, or else inform you very ill. I call God to witness that to impute to them so great want of consideration and such frivolity, to say no worse, is to do them great wrong. They have always remembered you with all honour, and wished for you almost more than I can say. If everything were interpreted in the worst sense, some points might be found on which to base an apparent default of duty ; but even were it really so, consider if a prince of your rank, who has earned a reputation for heroic magnanimity, can on such grounds abandon an enterprise upon which the eyes of the world are fixed. If you allege reasons for your resolution, other people will allege others to meet them. I do not say they will be valid, but many will decide in their favour, while others will laugh and be highly pleased that for matters of so small importance we have made a show of ourselves for the pastime of our enemies, or rather the enemies of God and His Church. Already I seem to see the kind of remarks that will go to all parts of Italy and Spain, to the disgrace of God's name and those of the Religion. The world is malignant, and there are plenty who will say and write that fear of the enemy or some ambition has furnished this advice to your Excellency ; nor will they fail to employ all their wit to turn it to your blame. Even if, content with the witness of your own conscience, you remain unmoved by these rumours, at least consider the scandal to the Gospel, and the various judgements which will be formed of it in Germany ; what the princes will say who advised you against coming here, among whom as you have told me your brother was one of the first. Will not they talk about the difference between this war and that in France, with a thousand other points which eloquent slander will not fail to invent? When I think of it, my zeal for your reputation pierces my heart, and forces me to say what I said yesterday to Beutrich, that whoever gives you this advice, gives you bad advice. Your renowned valour has twice vanquished the arms of France ; ought it not to trample under foot these petty considerations, of ceremony rather than of anything else, when there is question of carrying through so fine an enterprise? But even if you have been estimated lower than your quality merits, which I will offer to swear was never done with the knowledge and agreement of the Estates, nevertheless, the true glory would be to despise that, and show by results that you merit a hundred times more than could be reasonably asked of the Estates, rather than in the wish to avoid some disrepute arising otherwhere through accident or ignorance to fall into the disrepute of abandoning so heroic an enterprise of your own accord, and through not knowing when to despise. Forgive me if I write more boldly than comports with my quality. It would provoke me beyond bearing to hear at tables and in companies aught prejudicial to your honour ; and so, when I set it before my eyes, I am compelled to say what I deem meet to avoid this unseemliness. It would take too long and be invidious to discuss the points set out in your letter ; but I will frankly say that I find nothing there sufficient to induce you to take a resolution so dangerous for your reputation. For if it were true that you had not been estimated according to your deserts, the fault would be imputed to the Estates or others who had failed in this point, while your glory would be greatly increased if you set all that aside to aid the Republic. Your retirement on the contrary will give reason to think that the past difficulties proceeded from a desire to abandon the undertaking ; and thus the others will remain justified, and the blame will be given to you. I say this the more boldly since I have clearly perceived that the Prince of Orange has acquired most of his reputation from having despised honours, and borne not with patience only, but joyfully, insults to himself, so long as he could profit the public. Nothing so much wins the hearts of men, or earns for princes so great reputation ; so much so that, as I judge, the ancients who were placed among the gods gained this glory rather by that virtue than by any other. There is no man in this country who does not know and confess that you fully merit to command the whole army, even were it larger. But the customs, rights and privileges of the country, the diversity of humours and religions, the preservation of union, and above all the assurance held by all of your affection for this country, have firmly persuaded all men that without regard to this you would seek its deliverence in one accord with its inhabitants. And as the princes of Greece, when going to Troy, and having chosen for their chief Agamemnon, one of the lesser men, or at any rate one who had many equals, tried only to carry through their enterprise, so would you set all other considerations under foot to aid this afflicted country, which with groans and cries is imploring the help of all Christian princes and peoples, and in whose aid all heroic beasts would be freely employed. Of old, a host of Christian princes, even the most mighty kings, obeyed the orders of Godfrey de Bouillon, a simple Duke and landless, in order to carry through the crusade ; at another time, a Count of Flanders, in the enterprise of Constantinople ; and at yet another, against the Turks, a plain gentleman, Matthias Corvinus, who afterwards rose to be king of Hungary. Yet no man thinks the great princes dishonoured ; on the contrary their renown receives more commendation for having postponed the consideration of their greatness to their zeal in aiding afflicted peoples. I do not say this from any fear of your taking it amiss that the Estates should have taken a general belonging to the country, but because I have heard that some people treat this matter as if your reputation was injured ; which I maintain is so far from the truth that to all men of sound judgement, and to posterity your reputation will gain by a similar postponement on your part. As to the unfairnesses which are quoted, I think that if you would exert your authority you would have credit enough with the reiters to make them content with the half-month, by showing them that the others have been paid in like fashion. The Estates humbly beg you to do this, having regard to their inability and to their entire confidence in you. If there has been any unfairness, it has not come about with their knowledge, but partly because the number exceeded their expectation and their liberty, partly because they counted on Guelders and Overyssel, who ought to furnished a share. Yet if there had been any intentional unfairness, it would have arisen from their confidence, which the Prince always impressed on them, that you above all others having regard to their poverty, would have kept your men to their duty, even though there was some default of pay, in your zeal both for the country and for religion. An injury to it touches your Excellency, who have often shown that you regard its cause as your own cause, or at least the common cause of all Germany. You have often declared that if you had the means you would aid these countries at your own cost, and have even tried to incite the Holy Empire to assist us at the common charges. This has bred such confidence in men's hearts here, and such expectation of your coming, that although they feel the weakness of their own ability they were content to accept the Queen of England's proposal to increase the number of your reiters. They always hoped, too, that in respect of your army the English would show some result of the hope of assistance they held out to us, having changed the aid in English soldiers to the increase of yours. It would then be abusing your good nature and doing a wrong to the Estates, to impute any unfairness to any ill-will on their part or lack of respect to you. This I beg you to believe, and to rid yourself of such impressions which can only rejoice your enemies and sadden your friends. Be assured that the whole country honours you as a magnanimous prince, and will show you all respect. Do not, I entreat you, recoil in the midst of your glorious course, and put yourself in danger of converting to disrepute the glory due to you for this undertaking, which would break the heart of all your faithful servants, of whom I hold myself one of the least in power and the greatest in affection.—Hotel de Nassau, 5 Oct. 1578. As I am in haste to return to Antwerp, please give [an audience?] once more to M. de Schwarzburg and to me, that I may depart with your good favour. Copy. Endd. : Copy of St. Alagonde's letter unto D. Cassemire. Fr. 5¼ pp. [Holl. and Fl. IX. 58.]
297. Another copy. 4¼ pp. [Ibid. IX. 58a.]
Oct. 7. 298. POULET to the QUEEN.
Though it is not my manner to thrust myself into matters that are above my reach, yet as I cannot refuse to hear such gentlemen of 'countenance and calling' as have access to me I am bound in duty to conceal nothing that comes to my knowledge which may import your Highness' service ; and therefore I would not fail to reveal to you the conversation that I have had with M. Baqueville and M. Cuissy upon their return from the King. They tell me that they trust you are already advertised from Monsieur of the answer he has received from Queen Mother touching her practices with the Spaniard ; that Villeroy arriving at Mons the day of their departure thence they said plainly to Monsieur that the 'intermission' of this man being known to be wholly Spanish augmented the suspicion ; and therefore besought Monsieur to dispatch him, and avoid all such like occasions as might breed him discredit towards foreign princes. Monsieur answered flatly, and prayed them to assure me that he preferred his honour above all other wordly things, and would never commit so foul a fault as to deal untruly with your Majesty. The King pretends in outward show to be inclined to this watch, but in heart is against it ; and notwithstanding his goodly words, this last journey of Villeroy to Monsieur was to induce him to accept the daughter of Spain with the offer of the kingdom of Sardinia and the Duchy of Milan, or of the Low Countries, at his choice. Upon this condition the king offers to assure him of the lieutenancy of this realm. The principal cause of the journey of Queen Mother into Gascony was to treat with the Spaniard for this marriage, wherein she has doubled her 'affection' and likewise her 'travell' since the decease of the King of Portugal, who had promise of one of the daughters. The Pope offers Monsieur a pension of 400,000 crowns a year if he will undertake the protection of the Romish religion. The Pope, the King of Spain, and many other potentates, impugn this alliance, fearing that alteration of religion will ensue throughout all Christendom. The practices of the Spaniard extend to many nations ; his "guyfts" are without measure. The Pope has offered Bussy and Simier 200,000 to persuade Monsieur to go back to France. He has rejected all these poisoned presents and will not hearken to them, but is resolved to repair into England. He stays only for certain articles which he trusted to have received before this from Sir Francis Walsingham. Those of the treaty between your Majesty and his brothers have been recovered here and sent to him. Simier will soon be sent to England, and the articles being agreed upon will remain there with his company as pledges for his coming. These articles are desired only for the better satisfaction of the king and some others, and especially to stop the mouths of envious persons. This is the substance of what I heard from them, as near as I can remember, and I take them to be very honest, and think they deal plainly. But I have heard say that a deceitful prince intending to deceive a third person will first deceive his own minister, so as to have the better means to deceive the party whom he means to abuse. Yet I must confess that I do not use this language because I know that these actions of Monsieur are infected with 'trumperie' ; in this I refer him to the better judgement of your Majesty. Nothing is more certain than that Bussy and Simier have no means possible to make their peace in France or Spain—not if they were to bring Monsieur again to the French Court ; and therefore so long as they keep their credit with Monsieur, there is good hope that he will deal honourably with his friend abroad. Cuissy tells me that as Monsieur and the greater part of Christendom with him will be most happy if this alliance take effect, so failing of his purpose he shall be the poorest and most miserable prince in the world, and shall be forced by necessity either to submit himself to his brother, and so live wretchedly all the days of his life, or else make war against him in his own country. He says nothing of a third course which I rather suspect, and which may be more dangerous to their neighbours ; I mean if he join the Spaniard and make war at his pleasure. I cannot express the honourable reports which Bacqueville and Cuissy make of your Majesty, of your princely virtues, of the Lords of your Council, of the good order of your Court, and generally of the whole realm ; in which they mention many particulars worthy of observation, and do not forget duly to commend their courteous and bountiful entertainment. M. de Bacqueville prays me to present the letter enclosed. It is given out that the King of Navarre had appointed to meet his wife at Lestore [Lectoure], a town in Gascony, on the 1st inst., but some doubt if this meeting will take place so soon ; and it is said that Queen Mother will speak with Damville before her return. So it is easy to see that the suspicion conceived of his journey was not vain or needless, the bad fruits of it being discovered daily ; and it may be feared lest the worst are yet behind, and will not be known till it is too late to avoid the danger. There is no new alteration here worthy of your Majesty. Our necessity is so great on every side that we are forced to dissemble our malicious affections and seek new devices daily for money ; which makes the King hateful to his subjects and ministers occasion of brawls between the King and his Parlement and between those of the Parlement among themselves. M. Chiverny is now Keeper of the Great Seal, to the great disgrace of the Chancellor ; on which matter the bearer, Mr Harry Cheke, has something to say from me to Mr Secretary Wilson. As I was ready to sign this, du Vray comes to me dispatched from Monsieur to the King, to tell him that Monsieur is resolved to prosecute his suit to your Majesty with all earnestness and to that purpose shortly to send M. Simier to England ; who is coming to this town before his departure, when he will probably resort to the King.—Paris, 7 Oct. 1578. Add. and Endt. gone. 4 pp. [France II. 74.]