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´╗┐Title: History of the United Netherlands, 1587c
Author: Motley, John Lothrop
Language: English
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HISTORY OF THE UNITED NETHERLANDS
From the Death of William the Silent to the Twelve Year's Truce--1609

By John Lothrop Motley



History of the United Netherlands, 1587



CHAPTER XVI.

     Situation of Sluys--Its Dutch and English Garrison--Williams writes
     from Sluys to the Queen--Jealousy between the Earl and States--
     Schemes to relieve Sluys--Which are feeble and unsuccessful--The
     Town Capitulates--Parma enters--Leicester enraged--The Queen angry
     with the Anti-Leicestrians--Norris, Wilkes, and Buckhurst punished--
     Drake sails for Spain--His Exploits at Cadiz and Lisbon--He is
     rebuked by Elizabeth.

When Dante had passed through the third circle of the Inferno--a desert
of red-hot sand, in which lay a multitude of victims of divine wrath,
additionally tortured by an ever-descending storm of fiery flakes--he was
led by Virgil out of this burning wilderness along a narrow causeway.
This path was protected, he said, against the showers of flame, by the
lines of vapour which rose eternally from a boiling brook.  Even by such
shadowy bulwarks, added the poet, do the Flemings between Kadzand and
Bruges protect their land against the ever-threatening sea.

It was precisely among these slender dykes between Kadzand and Bruges
that Alexander Farnese had now planted all the troops that he could
muster in the field.  It was his determination to conquer the city of
Sluys; for the possession of that important sea-port was necessary for
him as a basis for the invasion of England, which now occupied all the
thoughts of his sovereign and himself.

Exactly opposite the city was the island of Kadzand, once a fair and
fertile territory, with a city and many flourishing villages upon its
surface, but at that epoch diminished to a small dreary sand-bank by the
encroachments of the ocean.

A stream of inland water, rising a few leagues to the south of Sluys,
divided itself into many branches just before reaching the city,
converted the surrounding territory into a miniature archipelago--the
islands of which were shifting treacherous sand-banks at low water, and
submerged ones at flood--and then widening and deepening into a
considerable estuary, opened for the city a capacious harbour, and an
excellent although intricate passage to the sea.  The city, which was
well built and thriving, was so hidden in its labyrinth of canals and
streamlets, that it seemed almost as difficult a matter to find Sluys as
to conquer it.  It afforded safe harbour for five hundred large vessels;
and its possession, therefore, was extremely important for Parma.
Besides these natural defences, the place was also protected by
fortifications; which were as well constructed as the best of that
period.  There was a strong rampire and many towers.  There was also a
detached citadel of great strength, looking towards the sea, and there
was a ravelin, called St. Anne's, looking in the direction of Bruges.
A mere riband of dry land in that quarter was all of solid earth to be
found in the environs of Sluys.

The city itself stood upon firm soil, but that soil had been hollowed
into a vast system of subterranean magazines, not for warlike purposes,
but for cellars, as Sluys had been from a remote period the great
entrepot of foreign wines in the Netherlands.

While the eternal disputes between Leicester and the States were going on
both in Holland and in England, while the secret negotiations between
Alexander Farnese and Queen slowly proceeding at Brussels and Greenwich,
the Duke, notwithstanding the destitute condition of his troops, and the
famine which prevailed throughout the obedient Provinces, had succeeded
in bringing a little army of five thousand foot,  and something less than
one thousand horse, into the field.  A portion of this force he placed
under the command of the veteran La Motte.  That distinguished campaigner
had assured the commander-in-chief that the reduction of the city would
be an easy achievement.  Alexander soon declared that the enterprise was
the most difficult one that he had ever undertaken.  Yet, two years
before, he had carried to its triumphant conclusion the famous siege of
Antwerp.  He stationed his own division upon the isle of Kadzand, and
strengthened his camp by additionally fortifying those shadowy bulwarks,
by which the island, since the age of Dante, had entrenched itself
against the assaults of ocean.

On the other hand, La Motte, by the orders of his chief, had succeeded,
after a sharp struggle, in carrying the fort of St. Anne.  A still more
important step was the surprising of Blankenburg, a small fortified place
on the coast, about midway between Ostend and Sluys, by which the sea-
communications with the former city for the relief of the beleaguered
town were interrupted.

Parma's demonstrations against Sluys had commenced in the early days of
June.  The commandant of the place was Arnold de Groenevelt, a Dutch
noble of ancient lineage and approved valour.  His force was, however,
very meagre, hardly numbering more than eight hundred, all Netherlanders,
but counting among its officers several most distinguished personages-
Nicholas de Maulde, Adolphus de Meetkerke and his younger brother,
Captain Heraugiere, and other well-known partisans.

On the threatening of danger the commandant had made application to
Sir William Russell, the worthy successor of Sir Philip Sidney in the
government of Flushing.  He had received from him, in consequence, a
reinforcement of eight hundred English soldiers, under several eminent
chieftains, foremost among whom were the famous Welshman Roger Williams,
Captain Huntley, Baskerville, Sir Francis Vere, Ferdinando Gorges, and
Captain Hart.  This combined force, however, was but a slender one; there
being but sixteen hundred men to protect two miles and a half of rampart,
besides the forts and ravelins.

But, such as it was, no time was lost in vain regrets.  The sorties
against the besiegers were incessant and brilliant.  On one occasion Sir
Francis Vere--conspicuous in the throng, in his red mantilla, and
supported only by one hundred Englishmen and Dutchmen, under Captain
Baskerville--held at bay eight companies of the famous Spanish legion
called the Terzo Veijo, at push of pike, took many prisoners, and forced
the Spaniards from the position in which they were entrenching
themselves.  On the other hand, Farnese declared that he had never in his
life witnessed anything so unflinching as the courage of his troops;
employed as they were in digging trenches where the soil was neither land
nor water, exposed to inundation by the suddenly-opened sluices, to a
plunging fire from the forts, and to perpetual hand-to-hand combats with
an active and fearless foe, and yet pumping away in the coffer-dams-which
they had invented by way of obtaining a standing-ground for their
operations--as steadily and sedately as if engaged in purely pacific
employments.  The besieged here inspired by a courage equally remarkable.
The regular garrison was small enough, but the burghers were courageous,
and even the women organized themselves into a band of pioneers.  This
corps of Amazons, led by two female captains, rejoicing in the names of
'May in the Heart' and 'Catherine the Rose,' actually constructed an
important redoubt between the citadel and the rampart, which received, in
compliment to its builders, the appellation of 'Fort Venus.'

The demands of the beleaguered garrison, however, upon the States and
upon Leicester were most pressing.  Captain Hart swam thrice out of the
city with letters to the States, to the governor-general, and to Queen
Elizabeth; and the same perilous feat was performed several times by a
Netherland officer.  The besieged meant to sell their lives dearly, but
it was obviously impossible for them, with so slender a force, to resist
a very long time.

"Our ground is great and our men not so many," wrote Roger Williams to
his sovereign, "but we trust in God and our valour to defend it .  .  .
.  .  .  .  We mean, with God's help, to make their downs red and black,
and to let out every acre of our ground for a thousand of their lives,
besides our own."

The Welshman was no braggart, and had proved often enough that he was
more given to performances than promises.  "We doubt not your Majesty
will succour us," he said, "for our honest mind and plain dealing toward
your royal person and dear country;" adding, as a bit of timely advice,
"Royal Majesty, believe not over much your peacemakers.  Had they their
mind, they will not only undo your friend's abroad, but, in the end, your
royal estate."

Certainly it was from no want of wholesome warning from wise statesmen
and blunt soldiers that the Queen was venturing into that labyrinth of
negotiation which might prove so treacherous.  Never had been so
inopportune a moment for that princess to listen to the voice of him who
was charming her so wisely, while he was at the same moment battering
the place, which was to be the basis of his operations against her
realm.  Her delay in sending forth Leicester, with at least a moderate
contingent, to the rescue, was most pernicious.  The States--ignorant
of the Queen's exact relations with Spain, and exaggerating her
disingenuousness into absolute perfidy became on their own part
exceedingly to blame.  There is no doubt whatever that both Hollanders
and English men were playing into the hands of Parma as adroitly as if
he had actually directed their movements.  Deep were the denunciations
of Leicester and his partisans by the States' party, and incessant the
complaints of the English and Dutch troops shut up in Sluys against the
inactivity or treachery of Maurice and Hohenlo.

"If Count Maurice and his base brother, the Admiral (Justinus de Nassau),
be too young to govern, must Holland and Zeeland lose their countries and
towns to make them expert men of war?" asked Roger Williams.'  A pregnant
question certainly, but the answer was, that by suspicion and jealousy,
rather than by youth and inexperience, the arms were paralyzed which
should have saved the garrison.  "If these base fellows (the States) will
make Count Hollock their instrument," continued the Welshman; "to cover
and maintain their folly and lewd dealing, is it necessary for her royal
Majesty to suffer it?  These are too great matters to be rehearsed by me;
but because I am in the town, and do resolve to, sign with my blood my
duty in serving my sovereign and country, I trust her Majesty will pardon
me."  Certainly the gallant adventurer on whom devolved at least half the
work of directing the defence of the city, had a right to express his
opinions.  Had he known the whole truth, however, those opinions would
have been modified.  And he wrote amid the smoke and turmoil of daily and
nightly battle.

"Yesterday was the fifth sally we made," he observed: "Since I followed
the wars I never saw valianter captains, nor willinger soldiers.  At
eleven o'clock the enemy entered the ditch of our fort, with trenches
upon wheels, artillery-proof.  We sallied out, recovered their trenches,
slew the governor of Dam, two Spanish captains, with a number of others,
repulsed them into their artillery, kept the ditch until yesternight, and
will recover it, with God's help, this night, or else pay dearly for it .
.  .  .  .  I care not what may become of me in this world, so that her
Majesty's honour,--with the rest of honourable good friends, will think
me an honest man."

No one ever doubted the simple-hearted Welshman's honesty, any more than
his valour; but he confided in the candour of others who were somewhat
more sophisticated than himself.  When he warned her, royal Majesty
against the peace-makers, it was impossible for him to know that the
great peace-maker was Elizabeth herself.

After the expiration of a month the work had become most fatiguing.  The
enemy's trenches had been advanced close to the ramparts, and desperate
conflicts were of daily occurrence.  The Spanish mines, too, had been
pushed forward towards the extensive wine-caverns below the city, and the
danger of a vast explosion or of a general assault from beneath their
very feet, seemed to the inhabitants imminent.  Eight days long, with
scarcely an intermission, amid those sepulchral vaults, dimly-lighted
with torches, Dutchmen, Englishmen, Spaniards, Italians, fought hand to
hand, with pike, pistol, and dagger, within the bowels of the earth.

Meantime the operations of the States were not commendable.  The
ineradicable jealousy between the Leicestrians and the Barneveldians had
done its work.  There was no hearty effort for the relief of Sluys.
There were suspicions that, if saved, the town would only be taken
possession of by the Earl of Leicester, as an additional vantage-point
for coercing the country into subjection to his arbitrary authority.
Perhaps it would be transferred to Philip by Elizabeth as part of the
price for peace.  There was a growing feeling in Holland and Zeeland that
as those Provinces bore all the expense of the war, it was an imperative
necessity that they should limit their operations to the defence of their
own soil.  The suspicions as to the policy of the English government were
sapping the very foundations of the alliance, and there was small
disposition on the part of the Hollanders, therefore, to protect what
remained of Flanders, and thus to strengthen the hands of her whom they
were beginning to look upon as an enemy.

Maurice and Hohenlo made, however, a foray into Brabant, by way of
diversion to the siege of Sluys, and thus compelled Farnese to detach a
considerable force under Haultepenne into that country, and thereby to
weaken himself.  The expedition of Maurice was not unsuccessful.  There
was some sharp skirmishing between Hohenlo and Haultepenne, in which the
latter, one of the most valuable and distinguished generals on the royal
side, was defeated and slain; the fort of Engel, near Bois-le-Duc, was
taken, and that important city itself endangered; but, on the other hand,
the contingent on which Leicester relied from the States to assist in
relieving Sluys was not forthcoming.

For, meantime, the governor-general had at last been sent back by his
sovereign to the post which he had so long abandoned.  Leaving Leicester
House on the 4th July (N. S.), he had come on board the fleet two days
afterwards at Margate.  He was bringing with him to the Netherlands three
thousand fresh infantry, and thirty thousand pounds, of which sum fifteen
thousand pounds had been at last wrung from Elizabeth as an extra loan,
in place of the sixty thousand pounds which the States had requested.  As
he sailed past Ostend and towards Flushing, the Earl was witness to the
constant cannonading between the besieged city and the camp of Farnese,
and saw that the work could hardly be more serious; for in one short day
more shots were fired than had ever been known before in a single day in
all Parma's experience.

Arriving at Flushing, the governor-general was well received by the
inhabitants; but the mischief, which had been set a-foot six months
before, had done its work.  The political intrigues, disputes, and the
conflicting party-organizations, have already been set in great detail
before the reader, in order that their effect might now be thoroughly
understood without--explanation.  The governor-general came to Flushing
at a most critical moment.  The fate of all the Spanish Netherlands, of
Sluys, and with it the whole of Philip and Parma's great project, were,
in Farnese's own language, hanging by a thread.

It would have been possible--had the transactions of the past six months,
so far as regarded Holland and England, been the reverse of what they had
been--to save the city; and, by a cordial and united effort, for the two
countries to deal the Spanish power such a blow, that summer, as would
have paralyzed it for a long time to come, and have placed both
commonwealths in comparative security.

Instead of all this, general distrust and mutual jealousy prevailed.
Leicester had, previously to his departure from England, summoned the
States to meet him at Dort upon his arrival.  Not a soul appeared.  Such
of the state-councillors as were his creatures came to him, and Count
Maurice made a visit of ceremony.  Discussions about a plan for relieving
the siege became mere scenes of bickering and confusion.  The officers
within Sluys were desirous that a fleet should force its way into the
harbour, while, at the same time, the English army, strengthened by the
contingent which Leicester had demanded from the States, should advance
against the Duke of Parma by land.  It was, in truth, the only way to
succour the place.  The scheme was quite practicable.  Leicester
recommended it, the Hollanders seemed to favour it, Commandant Groenevelt
and Roger Williams urged it.

"I do assure you," wrote the honest Welshman to Leicester, "if you will
come afore this town, with as many galliots and as many flat-bottomed
boats as can cause two men-of-war to enter, they cannot stop their
passage, if, your mariners will do a quarter of their duty, as I saw them
do divers times.  Before, they make their entrance, we will come with our
boats, and fight with the greatest part, and show them there is no such
great danger.  Were it not for my wounded arm, I would be, in your first
boat to enter.  Notwithstanding, I and other Englishmen will approach
their boats in such sort, that we will force them to give their saker of
artillery upon us.  If, your Excellency will give ear unto those false
lewd fellows (the Captain meant the States-General), you shall lose great
opportunity.  Within ten or twelve days the enemy will make his bridge
from Kadzand unto St. Anne, and force you to hazard battle before you
succour this town.  Let my Lord Willoughby and Sir William Russell land
at Terhoven, right against Kadzand, with 4000, and entrench hard by the
waterside, where their boats can carry them victual and munition.  They
may approach by trenches without engaging any dangerous fight .  .  .  .
We dare not show the estate of this town more than we have done by
Captain Herte.  We must fight this night within our rampart in the fort.
You may sure the world here are no Hamerts, but valiant captains and
valiant soldiers, such as, with God's help, had rather be buried in the
place than be disgraced in any point that belongs to such a number of
men-of-war."

But in vain did the governor of the place, stout Arnold Froenevelt,
assisted by the rough and direct eloquence of Roger Williams, urge upon
the Earl of Leicester and the States-General the necessity and the
practicability of the plan proposed.  The fleet never entered the
harbour.  There was no William of Orange to save Antwerp and Sluys,
as Leyden had once been saved, and his son was not old enough to unravel
the web of intrigue by which he was surrounded, or to direct the whole
energies of the commonwealth towards an all-important end.  Leicester had
lost all influence, all authority, nor were his military abilities equal
to the occasion, even if he had been cordially obeyed.

Ten days longer the perpetual battles on the ramparts and within the
mines continued, the plans conveyed by the bold swimmer, Captain Hart,
for saving the place were still unattempted, and the city was tottering
to its fall.  "Had Captain Hart's words taken place," wrote Williams,
bitterly," we had been succoured, or, if my letters had prevailed, our
pain had been, no peril: All wars are best executed in sight of the enemy
.  .  .  .  The last night of June (10th July, N. S.) the enemy entered
the ditches of our fort in three several places, continuing in fight in
mine and on rampart for the space of eight nights.  The ninth; he
battered us furiously,  made a breach of five score paces suitable for
horse and man.  That day be attempted us in all, places with a general,
assault for the space of almost five hours."

The citadel was now lost.  It had been gallantly defended; and it was
thenceforth necessary to hold the town itself, in the very teeth of an
overwhelming force.  "We were forced to quit the fort," said-Sir Roger,
"leaving nothing behind us but bare earth.  But here we do remain
resolutely to be buried, rather than to be dishonoured in the least
point."

It was still possible for the fleet to succour the city.  "I do assure
you," said-Williams, "that your captains and mariners do not their duty
unless they enter with no great loss; but you must consider that no wars
may be made without danger.  What you mean to do, we beseech you to do
with expedition, and persuade yourself that we will die valiant, honest-
men.  Your Excellency will do well to thank the old President de Meetkerk
far the honesty and valour of his son."

Count Maurice and his natural brother, the Admiral, now undertook the
succour by sea; but, according to the Leicestrians, they continued
dilatory and incompetent.  At any rate, it is certain that they did
nothing.  At last, Parma had completed the bridge; whose construction,
was so much dreaded: The haven was now enclosed by a strong wooden
structure, resting an boats, on a plan similar to that of the famous
bridge with which he had two years before bridled the Scheldt, and Sluys
was thus completely shut in from the sea.  Fire-ships were now
constructed, by order of Leicester--feeble imitations: of the floating
volcanoes of Gianihelli--and it was agreed that they should be sent
against the bridge with the first flood-tide.  The propitious moment
never seemed to arrive, however, and, meantime, the citizens of Flushing,
of their own accord, declared that they would themselves equip and
conduct a fleet into the harbour of Sluys.  But the Nassaus are said to
have expressed great disgust that low-born burghers should presume to
meddle with so important an enterprise, which of right belonged to their
family.  Thus, in the midst of these altercations and contradictory
schemes; the month of July wore away, and the city was reduced to its
last gasp.

For the cannonading had thoroughly done its work.  Eighteen days long the
burghers and what remained of the garrison had lived upon the ramparts,
never leaving their posts, but eating, sleeping, and fighting day and
night.  Of the sixteen hundred Dutch and English but seven hundred
remained.  At last a swimming messenger was sent out by the besieged with
despatches for the States, to the purport that the city could hold out no
longer.  A breach in the wall had been effected wide enough to admit a
hundred men abreast.  Sluys had, in truth, already fallen, and it was
hopeless any longer to conceal the fact.  If not relieved within a day or
two, the garrison would be obliged to surrender; but they distinctly
stated, that they had all pledged themselves, soldiers and burghers, men,
women, and all, unless the most honourable terms were granted, to set
fire to the city in a hundred places, and then sally, in mass, from the
gates, determined to fight their way through, or be slain in the attempt.
The messenger who carried these despatches was drowned, but the letters
were saved, and fell into Parma's hands.

At the same moment, Leicester was making, at last, an effort to raise the
siege.  He brought three or four thousand men from Flushing, and landed
them at Ostend; thence he marched to Blanckenburg.  He supposed that if
he could secure that little port, and thus cut the Duke completely off
from the sea, he should force the Spanish commander to raise (or at least
suspend) the siege in order to give him battle.  Meantime, an opportunity
would be afforded for Maurice and Hohenlo to force an entrance into the
harbour of Sluys, In this conjecture he was quite correct; but
unfortunately he did not thoroughly carry out his own scheme.  If the
Earl had established himself at Blanckenburg, it would have been
necessary for Parma--as he himself subsequently declared-to raise the
siege.  Leicester carried the outposts of the place successfully; but, so
soon as Farnese was aware of this demonstration, he detached a few
companies with orders to skirmish with the enemy until the commander-in-
chief, with as large a force as he could spare, should come in person to
his support.  To the unexpected gratification of Farnese, however, no
sooner did the advancing Spaniards come in sight, than the Earl,
supposing himself invaded by the whole of the Duke's army, under their
famous general, and not feeling himself strong enough for such an
encounter, retired, with great precipitation, to his boats, re-embarked
his troops with the utmost celerity, and set sail for Ostend.

The next night had been fixed for sending forth the fireships against the
bridge, and for the entrance of the fleet into the harbour.  One fire-
ship floated a little way towards the bridge and exploded ingloriously.
Leicester rowed in his barge about the fleet, superintending the
soundings and markings of the channel, and hastening the preparations;
but, as the decisive moment approached, the pilots who had promised to
conduct the expedition came aboard his pinnace and positively refused to
have aught to do with the enterprise, which they now declared an
impossibility.  The Earl was furious with the pilots, with Maurice, with
Hohenlo, with Admiral de Nassau, with the States, with all the world.  He
stormed and raged and beat his breast, but all in vain.  His ferocity
would have been more useful the day before, in face of the Spaniards,
than now, against the Zeeland mariners: but the invasion by the fleet
alone, unsupported by a successful land-operation, was pronounced
impracticable, and very soon tie relieving fleet was seen by the
distressed garrison sailing away from the neighbourhood, and it soon
disappeared beneath the horizon.  Their fate was sealed.  They entered
into treaty with Parma, who, secretly instructed, as has been seen, of
their desperate intentions, in case any but the most honourable
conditions were offered, granted those conditions.  The garrison were
allowed to go out with colours displayed, lighted matches, bullet in
mouth, and with bag and baggage.  Such burghers as chose to conform to
the government of Spain and the church of Rome; were permitted to remain.
Those who preferred to depart were allowed reasonable time to make their
necessary arrangements.

"We have hurt and slain very near eight hundred," said Sir Roger
Williams."  We had not powder to fight two hours.  There was a breach of
almost four hundred paces, another of three score, another of fifty,
saltable for horse and men.  We had lain continually eighteen nights all
on the breaches.  He gave us honourable composition.  Had the state of
England lain on it, our lives could not defend the place, three hours,
for half the rampires were his, neither had we any pioneers but
ourselves.  We were sold by their negligence who are now angry with us."

On the 5th August Parma entered the city.  Roger Williams with his gilt
morion rather battered, and his great plume of feathers much bedraggled-
was a witness to the victor's entrance.  Alexander saluted respectfully
an officer so well known to him by reputation, and with some
complimentary remarks urged him to enter the Spanish service,
and to take the field against the Turks.

"My sword," replied the doughty Welshman, "belongs to her royal Majesty,
Queen Elizabeth, above and before all the world.  When her Highness has
no farther use for it, it is at the service of the King of Navarre."
Considering himself sufficiently answered, the Duke then requested Sir
Roger to point out Captain Baskerville--very conspicuous by a greater
plume of feathers than even that of the Welshman himself--and embraced
that officer; when presented to him, before all his staff.  "There serves
no prince in Europe a braver man than this Englishman," cried Alexander,
who well knew how to appreciate high military qualities, whether in his
own army or in that of his foes.

The garrison then retired, Sluy's became Spanish, and a capacious
harbour, just opposite the English coast, was in Parma's hands.  Sir
Roger Williams was despatched by Leicester to bear the melancholy tidings
to his government, and the Queen was requested to cherish the honest
Welshman, and at least to set him on horseback; for he was of himself not
rich enough to buy even a saddle.  It is painful to say that the captain
did not succeed in getting the horse.

The Earl was furious in his invectives against Hohenlo, against Maurice,
against the States, uniformly ascribing the loss of Sluy's to negligence
and faction.  As for Sir John Norris, he protested that his misdeeds in
regard to this business would, in King Henry VIII.'s time, have "cost him
his pate."

The loss of Sluys was the beginning and foreshadowed the inevitable end
of Leicester's second administration.  The inaction of the States was one
of the causes of its loss.  Distrust of Leicester was the cause of the
inaction.  Sir William Russell, Lord Willoughby, Sir William Pelham, and
other English officers, united in statements exonerating the Earl from
all blame for the great failure to relieve the place.  At the same time,
it could hardly be maintained that his expedition to Blanckenburg and his
precipitate retreat on the first appearance of the enemy were proofs of
consummate generalship.  He took no blame to himself for the disaster;
but he and his partisans were very liberal in their denunciations of the
Hollanders, and Leicester was even ungrateful enough to censure Roger
Williams, whose life had been passed, as it were, at push of pike with
the Spaniards, and who was one of his own most devoted adherents.

The Queen was much exasperated when informed of the fall of the city.
She severely denounced the Netherlanders, and even went so far as to
express dissatisfaction with the great Leicester himself.  Meantime,
Farnese was well satisfied with his triumph, for he had been informed
that "all England was about to charge upon him," in order to relieve the
place.  All England, however, had been but feebly represented by three
thousand raw recruits with a paltry sum of L15,000 to help pay a long
bill of arrears.

Wilkes and Norris had taken their departure from the Netherlands before
the termination of the siege, and immediately after the return of
Leicester.  They did not think it expedient to wait upon the governor
before leaving the country, for they had very good reason to believe that
such an opportunity of personal vengeance would be turned to account by
the Earl.  Wilkes had already avowed his intention of making his escape
without being dandled with leave-takings, and no doubt he was right.  The
Earl was indignant when he found that they had given him the slip, and
denounced them with fresh acrimony to the Queen, imploring her to wreak
full measure of wrath upon their heads; and he well knew that his
entreaties would meet with the royal attention.

Buckhurst had a parting interview with the governor-general, at which
Killigrew and Beale, the new English counsellors who had replaced Wilkes
and Clerk, were present.  The conversation was marked by insolence on the
part of Leicester, and by much bitterness on that of Buckhurst.  The
parting envoy refused to lay before the Earl a full statement of the
grievances between the States-General and the governor, on the ground
that Leicester had no right to be judge in his own cause.  The matter,
he said, should be laid before the Queen in council, and by her august
decision he was willing to abide.  On every other subject he was ready to
give any information in his power.  The interview lasted a whole forenoon
and afternoon.  Buckhurst, according to his own statement, answered,
freely all questions put to him by Leicester and his counsellors; while,
if the report of those personages is to be trusted, he passionately
refused to make any satisfactory communication.  Under the circumstances,
however, it may well be believed that no satisfactory communication was
possible.

On arriving in England, Sir John Norris was forbidden to come into her
Majesty's presence, Wilkes was thrown into the Fleet Prison, and
Buckhurst was confined in his own country house.

Norris had done absolutely nothing, which, even by implication, could be
construed into a dereliction of duty; but it was sufficient that he was
hated by Leicester, who had not scrupled, over and over again, to
denounce this first general of England as a fool, a coward, a knave, and
a liar.

As for Wilkes, his only crime was a most conscientious discharge of his
duty, in the course of which he had found cause to modify his abstract
opinions in regard to the origin of sovereignty, and had come reluctantly
to the conviction that Leicester's unpopularity had made perhaps another
governor-general desirable.  But this admission had only been made
privately and with extreme caution; while, on the other hand, he had
constantly defended the absent Earl, with all the eloquence at his
command.  But the hatred cf Leicester was sufficient to consign this able
and painstaking public servant to a prison; and thus was a man of worth,
honour, and talent, who had been placed in a position of grave
responsibility and immense fatigue, and who had done his duty like an
upright, straight-forward Englishman, sacrificed to the wrath of a
favourite.  "Surely, Mr. Secretary," said the Earl, "there was never a
falser creature, a more seditious wretch, than Wilkes.  He is a villain,
a devil, without faith or religion."

As for Buckhurst himself, it is unnecessary to say a word in his defence.
The story of his mission has been completely detailed from the most
authentic and secret documents, and there is not a single line written to
the Queen, to her ministers, to the States, to any public body or to any
private friend, in England or elsewhere, that does not reflect honour on
his name.  With sagacity, without passion, with unaffected sincerity,
he had unravelled the complicated web of Netherland politics, and, with
clear vision, had penetrated the designs of the mighty enemy whom England
and Holland had to encounter in mortal combat.  He had pointed out the
errors of the Earl's administration--he had fearlessly, earnestly, but
respectfully deplored the misplaced parsimony of the Queen--he had warned
her against the delusions which had taken possession of her keen
intellect--he had done--his best to place the governor-general upon good
terms with the States and with his sovereign; but it had been impossible
for him to further his schemes for the acquisition of a virtual
sovereignty over the Netherlands, or to extinguish the suspicions of the
States that the Queen was secretly negotiating with the Spaniard, when he
knew those suspicions to be just.

For deeds, such as these, the able and high-minded ambassador,
the accomplished statesman and poet, was forbidden to approach his
sovereign's presence, and was ignominiously imprisoned in his own house
until the death of Leicester.  After that event, Buckhurst emerged from
confinement, received the order of the garter and the Earldom of Dorset,
and on the death of Burghley succeeded that statesman in the office of
Lord-Treasurer.  Such was the substantial recognition of the merits of a
man who was now disgraced for the conscientious discharge of the most
important functions that had yet been confided to him.

It would be a thankless and superfluous task to give the details of the
renewed attempt, during a few months, made by Leicester to govern the
Provinces.  His second administration consisted mainly of the same
altercations with the States, on the subject of sovereignty, the same
mutual recriminations and wranglings, that had characterized the period
of his former rule.  He rarely met the States in person, and almost never
resided at the Hague, holding his court at Middleburg, Dort, or Utrecht,
as his humour led him.

The one great feature of the autumn of 1587 was the private negotiation
between Elizabeth and the Duke of Parma.

Before taking a glance at the nature of those secrets, however, it is
necessary to make a passing allusion to an event which might have seemed
likely to render all pacific communications with Spain, whether secret or
open, superfluous.

For while so much time had been lost in England and Holland, by
misunderstandings and jealousies, there was one Englishman who had not
been losing time.  In the winter and early spring of 1587, the Devonshire
skipper had organized that expedition which he had come to the
Netherlands, the preceding autumn, to discuss.  He meant to aim a blow
at the very heart of that project which Philip was shrouding with so much
mystery, and which Elizabeth was attempting to counteract by so much
diplomacy.

On the 2nd April, Francis Drake sailed from Plymouth with four ships
belonging to the Queen, and with twenty-four furnished by the merchants
of London, and other private individuals.  It was a bold buccaneering
expedition--combining chivalrous enterprise with the chance of enormous
profit--which was most suited to the character of English adventurers at
that expanding epoch.  For it was by England, not by Elizabeth, that the
quarrel with Spain was felt to be a mortal one.  It was England, not its
sovereign, that was instinctively arming, at all points, to grapple with
the great enemy of European liberty.  It was the spirit of self-help, of
self-reliance, which was prompting the English nation to take the great
work of the age into its own hands.  The mercantile instinct of the
nation was flattered with the prospect of gain, the martial quality of
its patrician and of its plebeian blood was eager to confront danger, the
great Protestant mutiny.  Against a decrepit superstition in combination
with an aggressive tyranny, all impelled the best energies of the English
people against Spain, as the embodiment of all which was odious and
menacing to them, and with which they felt that the life and death
struggle could not long be deferred.

And of these various tendencies, there were no more fitting
representatives than Drake and Frobisher, Hawkins and Essex, Cavendish
and Grenfell, and the other privateersmen of the sixteenth century.  The
same greed for danger, for gold, and for power, which, seven centuries
before, had sent the Norman race forth to conquer all Christendom, was
now sending its Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Norman kindred to take possession
of the old world and the new.

"The wind commands me away," said Drake on the 2nd April, 1587; "our ship
is under sail.  God grant that we may so live in His fear, that the enemy
may have cause to say that God doth fight for her Majesty abroad as well
as at home."

But he felt that he was not without enemies behind him, for the strong
influence brought to bear against the bold policy which Walsingham
favoured, was no secret to Drake.  "If we deserve ill," said he, "let us
be punished.  If we discharge our duty, in doing our best, it is a hard
measure to be reported ill by those who will either keep their fingers
out of the fire; or who too well affect that alteration in our government
which I hope in God they shall never live to see."  In latitude 40 deg.
he spoke two Zeeland ships, homeward bound, and obtained information of
great warlike stores accumulating in Cadiz and Lisbon.  His mind was
instantly made up.  Fortunately, the pinnace which the Queen despatched
with orders to stay his hand in the very act of smiting her great
adversary, did not sail fast enough to overtake the swift corsair and his
fleet.  Sir Francis had too promptly obeyed the wind, when it "commanded
him away," to receive the royal countermand.  On the 19th April, the
English ships entered the harbour of Cadiz, and destroyed ten thousand
tons of shipping, with their contents, in the very face of a dozen great
galleys, which the nimble English vessels soon drove under their forts
for shelter.  Two nights and a day, Sir Francis, that "hater of
idleness," was steadily doing his work; unloading, rifling, scuttling,
sinking, and burning those transportships which contained a portion of
the preparations painfully made by Philip for his great enterprise.
Pipe-staves and spikes, horse-shoes and saddles, timber and cutlasses,
wine, oil, figs, raisins, biscuits, and flour, a miscellaneous mass of
ingredients long brewing for the trouble of England, were emptied into
the harbour, and before the second night, the blaze of a hundred and
fifty burning vessels played merrily upon the grim walls of Philip's
fortresses.  Some of these ships were of the largest size then known.
There was one belonging to Marquis Santa Cruz of 1500 tons, there was a
Biscayan of 1200, there were several others of 1000, 800, and of nearly
equal dimensions.

Thence sailing for Lisbon, Sir Francis, captured and destroyed a hundred
vessels more, appropriating what was portable of the cargoes, and
annihilating the rest.  At Lisbon, Marquis Santa Cruz, lord high admiral
of Spain and generalissimo of the invasion, looked on, mortified and
amazed, but offering no combat, while the Plymouth privateersman swept
the harbour of the great monarch of the world.  After thoroughly
accomplishing his work, Drake sent a message to Santa Cruz, proposing to
exchange his prisoners for such Englishmen as might then be confined in
Spain.  But the marquis denied all prisoners.  Thereupon Sir Francis
decided to sell his captives to the Moors, and to appropriate the
proceeds of the sale towards the purchase of English slaves put of the
same bondage.  Such was the fortune of war in the sixteenth century.

Having dealt these great blows, Drake set sail again from Lisbon, and,
twenty leagues from St. Michaels, fell in with one of those famous
Spanish East Indiamen, called carracks, then the great wonder of the
seas.  This vessel, San Felipe by name, with a cargo of extraordinary
value, was easily captured, and Sir Francis now determined to return.  He
had done a good piece of work in a few weeks, but he was by no means of
opinion that he had materially crippled the enemy.  On the contrary, he
gave the government warning as to the enormous power and vast
preparations of Spain.  "There would be forty thousand men under way ere
long," he said, "well equipped and provisioned; "and he stated, as the
result of personal observation, that England could not be too energetic
in, its measures of resistance.  He had done something with his little
fleet, but he was no braggart, and had no disposition to underrate the
enemy's power.  "God make us all thankful again and again," he observed,
"that we have, although it be little, made a beginning upon the coast of
Spain."  And modestly as he spoke of what he had accomplished, so with
quiet self-reliance did he allude to the probable consequences.  It was
certain, he intimated, that the enemy would soon seek revenge with all
his strength, and "with all the devices and traps he could devise."  This
was a matter which could not be doubted.  "But," said Sir Francis, "I
thank them much that they have staid so long, and when they come they
shall be but the sons of mortal men."

Perhaps the most precious result of the expedition, was the lesson which
the Englishmen had thus learned in handling the great galleys of Spain.
It might soon stand them in stead.  The little war-vessels which had come
from Plymouth, had sailed round and round these vast unwieldy hulks, and
had fairly driven them off the field, with very slight damage to
themselves.  Sir Francis had already taught the mariners of England,
even if he had done nothing else by this famous Cadiz expedition,
that an armada, of Spain might not be so invincible as men imagined.

Yet when the conqueror returned from his great foray, he received no
laurels.  His sovereign met him, not with smiles, but with frowns and
cold rebukes.  He had done his duty, and helped to save her endangered
throne, but Elizabeth was now the dear friend of Alexander Farnese, and
in amicable correspondence with his royal master.  This "little"
beginning on the coast of Spain might not seem to his Catholic Majesty
a matter to be thankful for, nor be likely to further a pacification,
and so Elizabeth hastened to disavow her Plymouth captain.'

     ["True it is, and I avow it on my faith, her Majesty did send a ship
     expressly before he went to Cadiz with a message by letters charging
     Sir Francis Drake not to show any act of hostility, which messenger
     by contrary winds could never come to the place where he was, but
     was constrained to come home, and hearing of Sir F. Drake's actions,
     her Majesty commanded the party that returned to have been punished,
     but that he acquitted himself by the oaths of himself and all his
     company.  And so unwitting yea unwilling to her Majesty those
     actions were committed by Sir F. Drake, for the which her Majesty is
     as yet greatly offended with him."  Burghley to Andreas de Loo, 18
     July, 1587.  Flanders Correspondence.' (S. P. Office MS.)]



ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:

The blaze of a hundred and fifty burning vessels
We were sold by their negligence who are now angry with us





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