7.2.5. Oxford and France, 1575-79



During the course of Oxford’s trip to the continent, he visited Paris twice with an interval of one year between the two visits. We do not have precise information concerning the duration of Oxford’s first visit to Paris; however we do know that he set sail from Dover on 7th February 1575 and that the first written account of his presence in Paris was in a letter from the diplomat Dr Valentine Dale on 5th March 1575.

Dr Valentin Dale to Lord Burghley, 5-7 March 1575 [1]

The rest of women’s news your Lordship shall understand by my wife’s letter to my Lady [Burghley], cui cupimus esse commodatissimi nec alia est qua uxor mea magis colat semperq{ue} est ei filia tua in ore si que fit mentio alicuius egregie forme [to whom we send our most heartfelt greetings and for whom my wife has always had the deepest admiration. She tells me that the very mention of the subject of beauty always creates images of your daughter in her mind’s eye] whereof my Lord of Oxford is partly a witness, to whom I do that honour that becometh me to my power, and surely he governeth himself et modest & moderate. I cannot yet procure his access to the King because of this new mourning for the Duchess of Lorraine [2], whose death Queen mother taketh very heavily, being her dear daughter.

Later that same day, Dr Dale reports the following -

The news of the death of the Duchess of Lorraine hath put Queen Mother so out of tune that I could have no access to her for my Lord of Oxford. He hath spoken with the King and the Queen, his wife, and hath taken his leave and all with many great words of compliments of both sides. My Lord used himself very moderately and comely, and is well liked as a goodly gentleman.

And on 7th March Dr Dale writes—

I presented my Lord of (word also unto the King and Queen, who used him honourably. Amongst other talk the King asked whether he was married. I said he had a fair lady. “Il y a donc,” dit-il, “un beau couple.

The main characters of the comedy Love’s Labour’s Lost are no strangers to the Louvre: Ferdinand, King of Navarre, is based on  elements from three different men; Henri III, Henri de Navarre und  Hercule-François d'Alençon. Then we have characters who are based on individuals; Berowne = Seigneur de Biron;  Dumain = Duc de Mayenne = Comte du Maine; Boyet = Jean de Simier, Baron de St Marc. (See 3.1.9. William Shakespeare, Loves labors lost, Introduction.)

Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, sets out for Italy (without his wife), a journey which the young Lord Bertram imitates in All’s Well That Ends Well. Oxford and his character Bertram (i.e. the Count of Rousillon) travel from Paris to Florence, they then return from Italy to France, landing in Marseille and then travelling to Paris. 

In January 1576, King Henri III (1551-1589) founded the “Académie du Palais” whose members included Pierre de Ronsard, Philippe Desportes and Amadis Jamyn. The scholastic group would meet to discuss poetry, philosophy and ethics. Two months before Oxford’s return to Paris the Venetian ambassador submitted the following report from Paris.

Giovanni Francesco Morosini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Signory,

3 February 1576.  [Italian]

For the last few days his Majesty has taken his pleasure by retiring into a small apartment which has no window, and where in order to see, candles must be burnt all day, and to this apartment his Majesty summons four or five youths of this city who follow the profession of poets and light literature, and to meet these people his Majesty invites the Duke of Nevers, the Grand Prior, Mons. de Biragues, Mons. de Souré, the Queen of Navarre, his sister, Madame de Nevers, and the Maréchale de Retz, all of whom profess to delight in poetry. When they are thus assembled his Majesty orders one of these youths to speak in praise of one of the virtues, exalting it above all the others, and as soon as he has concluded his reasoning each person in turn argues against the proposal which has been made. His Majesty consumes many hours in this exercise, to the small satisfaction of the Queen Mother and everybody else who would desire to see, in times so calamitous, his Majesty attending to his urgent affairs, and not to amusements which, however praiseworthy at other times, are now, from the necessity of the case, condemned by all, seeing that the King for this cause fails to be present at his Council, and there to discuss matters which are of the greatest importance, and which, having regard to his own position and that of his kingdom, can easily be imagined to require attention.

Paris, 3rd February 1576. [3]

On 31st March 1576, in a letter to Lord Burghley, Dr Valentine mentions Oxford’s arrival in Paris (“My Lord of Oxford hath passed through all the camp very well”). He also mentions his imminent departure for England on 10th April: “I am right glad that I have occasion to send these letters by my Lord of Oxford, unto whom I find myself much beholden.” We may assume that the scholastic English guest was invited to accompany Henri III to a meeting of the “Académie du Palais”.

Shake-speare’s comedy Love’s Labour’s Lost  begins with

KING. Let fame, that all hunt after in their lives,
    Live regist'red upon our brazen tombs,
    And then grace us in the disgrace of death;
    When, spite of cormorant devouring Time,
    Th' endeavour of this present breath may buy
    That honour which shall bate his scythe's keen edge,
    And make us heirs of all eternity.
    Therefore, brave conquerors- for so you are
    That war against your own affections
    And the huge army of the world's desires-
    Our late edict shall strongly stand in force:
    Navarre shall be the wonder of the world;
    Our court shall be a little Academe,
    Still and contemplative in living art.
    You three, Berowne, Dumain, and Longaville,
    Have sworn for three years' term to live with me
    My fellow-scholars, and to keep those statutes
    That are recorded in this schedule here.

“The situation in France was dire. King Henri III’s younger brother, the Duke of Alençon (styled ‘Monsieur’), had escaped from court on 15 September of the previous year. At the same time the Prince of Condé and John Casimir had signed a treaty by which Condé agreed to provide 16,000 troops for an invasion of France. Catherine de Medici negotiated a 7-month treaty with her son, Alençon, which was signed on 21 November 1575. However Alençon had no control over Condé and John Casimir, and in December their army of 20,000 men crossed the Meuse, taking the King, who had not prepared for war, completely by surprise. He was forced to stand by helplessly as the army pillaged Burgundy. Alençon, seeing his advantage, repudiated the truce in December, and went to Villefranche where he was joined by Turenne with 3000 harquebusiers and 400 horse. On 5 February 1576, Henry of Navarre also escaped from court, and repudiated Catholicism. Two weeks later a delegation representing Navarre, Alençon, Condé and Damville presented 93 articles to the King, demanding the free exercise of the Protestant religion throughout France and many other concessions. The King was unable to oppose the forces arrayed against him. Alençon and Condé joined at Moulins. John Casimir and most of his German reiters were camped nearby. Navarre and his troops were in Poitou. Alençon was pressured to march on Paris. For a time he delayed. On 9 April 1576 he announced his decision: ‘We have decided to exploit the means that God has given us to win by force the peace and tranquillity that we could not achieve by way of reason’.” (R. J. Knecht, The Rise and Fall of Renaissance France 1483-1610, Oxford 2001, pp. 406 ff.)

Alençon, who was the next heir to the throne of France since Henri had no children. The following exchange in Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors seems to be an allusion to the threatening fratricidal in France.[4]

ANTIPHOLUS OF SYRACUSE. In what part of her body stands Ireland?
DROMIO OF SYRACUSE. Marry, sir, in her buttocks; I found it out by
    the bogs.
DROMIO OF SYRACUSE. I found it by the barrenness, hard in
    the palm of the hand.
DROMIO OF SYRACUSE. In her forehead, arm'd and reverted,
    making war against her heir.

On Tuesday, January 1st, 1577, “The historie of Error, showen at Hampton Court on New yeres daie at night, enacted by the children of Powles.” [5]

The French King Henri III would not forget his encounter with “le jeune Seigneur” [the young Lord]. In the years between 1577 and 1581, Oxford’s name is mentioned many times in the correspondence between the King and Michel Castelnau, seigneur de Mauvissière (1517-1592), his ambassador in London.

The description of the connections between King Henri III is among the most blatant falsifications of the pseudo-historian Alan H. Nelson (Monstrous Adversary, The Life of Edward de Vere 17th Earl of Oxford, Liverpool 2003). Nelson writes, in the capital named “The Lure of Rome” –

“On 12 July and again on 5 September [1577] the King consulted the ambassador concerning ‘le jeune Comte d’Oxford’ – alternatively ‘jeune Sr. Comte d’Oxford’. Given that ‘jeune’ serves as a constant epithet, there can be no question of the reference in a letter from Mauvissière to the King on 23 September, concerning ‘the five ships which have been offered to me and are offered daily on behalf of a jeune seigneur whom I have previously named.’ Both the selected encoding and the suppression of the proper name underline the secrecy of the offer. Also on 23 September, the King wrote from Poitiers concerning ‘English vessels’ commanded and led by ‘un Milord d’Angleterre’. Oxford seems indeed to have agreed that he and his associates would lead a revolt of the ‘Catholic Party’ on the condition that they would receive support from France.”

Nelson suspects a court conspiracy; remaining true to his groundless prejudices, he jumps to fatally incorrect conclusions- without even asking why Oxford should offer five ships to the King (which was actually for the passage of the Prince of Condé to England) or alternatively, which political advantages Henri expected to gain through his connection with Oxford. Further Nelson attains new levels of stupidity when he equates Oxford’s “five ships” with the “English vessels” which had been detained by the Catholic Seigneur de Lansac near Brouage because they were carrying supplies and provisions to for the besieged La Rochelle. (See below, note 13.) If Oxford had indeed had any connection to these “good fifty ships” (bien cinquante Navires Anglois) carrying supplies and provisions, then he would have been guilty of supporting the Huguenots, and not the Catholics.

Contrary to John A. Bossy’s theory (1959) that “Oxford offered to provide five ships to help in the war against the Protestants in the Netherlands, but the treaty of Bergerac rendered the offer superfluous” and contrary to the brainless and unoriginal claims of Nelson, Bossy’s copyist— Edward de Vere was not a Catholic, not even for a single day of his life, neither did he ever sympathize with Spain!

Henri III, who wanted to marry his younger brother Alençon to Elizabeth, was a supporter of the policy of non-intervention, meaning, in this case, England should not support protestant rebels in France and France should not support catholic rebels in England. On 12 July 1577 the French King writes to Mauvissière telling him to resist any plans that French rebels may have. He hoped that the young Earl of Oxford, whom he held in fond recollection, would support him in this undertaking and act as a mediator.

King Henri III to Michel Castelnau, seigneur de Mauvissière, 12 July 1577 [6]

And it has been very well done by you, as you write me in your said dispatches, to have already turned a deaf ear to those of the Catholic party of England who have brought word to you of taking up arms with a great number of their adherents if I would be willing to lend a helping hand for the establishment of their religion, the exercise of which has been forbidden there. There is no dissimulation in that, but only proof of the goodwill which I might have to return to the said Lady Queen of England that which she concedes me. Many of those of the said nation are double, as you admit yourself, and there is good reason not to trust them. And even though it might be that they make these overtures quite frankly, nevertheless I would not lend my ear to it, as long as I have not seen that the said Lady Queen would have used the same respect towards me, and would not have fomented the ill will of my insurgent subjects by the assistance which she promises them.

And for that it will suffice that you let these people talk who make these offers, without showing that you find them good. Also I would have you know that it will be well done to preserve the young Earl of Oxford [le jeune Comte d’Oxford] in the good affection which he demonstrates on the welfare and prosperity of my affairs and service, and similarly the son of the late Duke of Norfolk, his cousin [=Philip Howard, latter Earl of Arundel]. Secrecy and discretion is of the utmost, take care that no one should feel ill of the two young men and that no suspicion falls on them. I shall soon be sending you a jewel which I would have you give to the Earl of Oxford on my behalf as a token of my friendship and my good wishes.

With this letter, the French King makes it clear that he wants no part in Catholic uprisings in England and that the young Earls whom he wishes to befriend have nothing to do with any such rebellions. Nonetheless he doesn’t want his friendship to cause the young men any trouble in the English court.

On 28 July Henri III informs Lord Mauvissière that his cousin, Prince of Condé[7], the protestant leader, wanted to sail from La Rochelle to England, whereby the English captain John Hawkins [Maistre Hacquin] was to put four or five ships at his disposal.


King Henri III to Michel Castelnau, seigneur de Mauvissière, 28 July 1577 [8]

Herewith, I wish to inform you that my cousin, the Prince of Condé intends, in accordance with the decision that he made some time ago, to set sail from Rochelle to England with the help of Master Hawkins [Maître Hacquin] who, to this end, has put four or five English ships at his disposal. If he has not already reached England, I expect his arrival there to be imminent. He intends to utilize the recourses available to him in England to continue his journey to Germany where he intends to recruit Knights and mercenaries. This shows yet again, how the Prince of Condé and my insurgent subjects can expect favour and support from the Queen of England, a lady who perhaps would issue an empty statement disciplining Master Hawkins, merely to wash her hands in innocence. I urge you to voice an official protest in time, and to inform her Majesty that I am not so short sighted that I do not recognize these proceedings. Please remind her that she has already promised on many occasions that she would defer from supporting my insurgent subjects or from allowing others to support them in their loathsome enterprises. Her behaviour only serves to encourage such people. She has often given me cause for complain and only out of respect for our mutual friendship have I been silent for so long.  

As soon as he was informed of the matter le jeune Seigneur d’Oxford makes the King the very generous offer of contributing to the costs of Prince Condé’s passage. Obviously Oxford connects the offer with the accompaniment of the Prince and diplomatic arbitration.

The King’s reaction to the offer was as follows.

King Henri III to Michel Castelnau, seigneur de Mauvissière, 5 September 1577 [9]

As for that which the young Earl of Oxford [le jeune Comte d’Oxford] has offered you on the behalf of an English captain, is not possible at this point in time on account, my said cousin the Prince of Condé having altered his decision to go into England. Even if he changes his mind, I would not wish that the said captain would execute his enterprise avowing himself of me, but rather of himself, in order to take away all occasion of suspicion and distrust from the said Queen of

England. You will be able to make that understood to the said young Earl of Oxford, whom I pray you to preserve always in the good affection which he bears me. I am pleased about the present that you have given him, I will send you soon a jewel which is intended for him.

Once again, the King harbours the exaggerated fear that Oxford’s name could be the subject of gossip if it were known that he had done the King of France a good turn. (Alan H. Nelson [Monstrous Adversary, p. 169] offers quotes from this letter without showing the slightest understanding of its contents. He erroneously regards it as being proof that Oxford is a Catholic conspirator.)

King Henri III to Michel Castelnau, seigneur de Mauvissière, 23 September 1577 [10]

Seigneur Earl of Leicester has assured you, by way of resolution that the Queen is not only willing to uphold our latest treaty of alliance[11], should it be prove to be mutually beneficial, she is not disinclined against a closer cooperation between our two nations. She implies that should I choose to reciprocate her goodwill then all of our little hostilities will disappear. 

Furthermore she wants to use her influence to persuade the King of Navarra and my cousin, the Prince of Condé, to accept our terms for peace- to this end she is prepared to sent a nobleman [un Gentil-homme] [12] who would explain to both of them how detrimental it would be to them if they refuse my terms. All of these things are signs of the Queen’s good will and her desire to maintain a close friendship with me. As for the matter which was raised by the Earl of Leicester concerning Duke Casimir’s memorandum: The said peace would certainly be sobering for Duke Casmir, yet he would be well advised to seek my friendship. His past insults have given me reason enough to take offence, should such be my desire. As for the amassing of troops in the region of Champagne by my cousin the Duke of Guise, with a view to supporting Don Juan d’Austria; it is my wish that you assure anyone, who should mention the matter to you, that the fact that I do not interfere in the affairs of my neighbors is a basic principle to me. I limit my endeavors to securing the obedience of my subjects and thwarting sinister foreign plots. In fact the said troops were gathered for my defence, should Duke Casimir return to my country with the intention of supporting my rebellious subjects. It would be advantageous to determine the nature of the assignment with which Lord Walsingham’s brother in law [Robert Beale][13] was dispatched to Duke Casimir– furthermore, what is the reason for the inspection of the artillery and the weapons in the Tower of London and why are so many ships being prepared? Try and discover with as much detail as possible, what plans, if any, are being made concerning the war in the Netherlands; there are signs that England intends to interfere.

On the subject to the Nobleman [Gentil-homme] whom you know, do no pass any opportunity by which may secure his favor and should the need arise, to utilize this good will at the right time and place. I intend to send to him a precious ring which I mentioned recently, this I would do due to the amiability of this messenger- however I see that the said Queen, albeit without cause, has misgivings concerning my activities, and therefore I consider it prudent to postpone the matter. 

In addition, I see in a dispatch of the younger Seigneur de Lansac that something is unravelling of which you originally made me aware - namely that one wishes to supply the port of La Rochelle with food and wood from an unknown source in England. For, in the days prior to the new peace treaty, whilst the said Sieur de Lansac, Governor of Brouage[14], was at sea with several of my galleons and round ships, in the execution of a mission which I had ordered, to put down a rebellion on the Ile de Ré; he encountered a few ships from La Rochelle together with at least fifty English ships, loaded with supplies for La Rochelle. He then sent someone to the English to remind them of the friendship between me and the Queen of England and to reassure them that the aforementioned Lady would not approve of such contacts and support as it goes against our agreement... When the English ambassador [Amias Paulet] heard what had happened, he said he was very surprised. He said that the only information he had received from England two or three days previously, was that ships had left England but there was no mention of their destination, and that was why he was not in a position to offer an explanation. He considered it hardly likely that the said English ships were under the command of an English lord… [par un Milord d'Angleterre] and he was convinced that, in view of the fact that she would not want to condone the actions of my rebellious subjects nor offer them support of any kind, the Queen would not approve of the action.

On the same day, 23rd September 1577, Sieur de Mauvissière responds to Henri's letter of the 5th September. The ambassador is waiting with important news concerning “le jeune Seigneur”.

Michel Castelnau, seigneur de Mauvissière to King Henri III, 23 September 1577 [15]

Sire, I have received both of your Majesty’s letters; that of 19th of last month and of 3rd of this month, which were a great comfort to me because through them I learned of the capture of Brouage and of the capitulation [of the Huguenots], which caused them to abandon the rebellion and return to the sovereignty of Your Majesty- and because Your Majesty can now look forward to good and secure peace for the kingdom.[16] The Queen of England and the Earl of Leicester both share your hopes, provided that you give assurances of your friendship and forget past grievances, thereby ensuring a harmonious relationship between the two crowns… 

Now to another matter, Sire– it has come to my attention that the current whereabouts of the Seigneur de Havré [17] from the Dutch States General are intended to serve only one purpose; that of petitioning the Queen to help the Dutch with money, soldiers and provisions- if their war with Don Juan d’Austria escalates. One wishes to motivate the Queen to exercise her influence toward strengthening the friendship between the two states and to help the Dutch to be rid of the Spaniards, and it will not, as one believes, require tremendous effort to convince her Majesty. A small circle of well informed people are of the opinion that Queen Elizabeth wishes to establish a foothold in Flanders and that she intends to send a large number of English and Scottish troops- just as Colonel Chester and Colonel Morgan are already fighting on the side of William of Orange and have recruited a 3000 man army of volunteers who are ready to ship out to Holland. With regard to that which the Earl of Leicester and others have said to me, I have come to the belief that England firmly intends to help Holland with its recourses. However, there are those who favour Spain’s interests and have another opinion. The outcome remains to be seen.

While it gave me great pleasure to become acquainted with your Majesty’s sentiments regarding the five ships which have been offered to me and are offered daily by the previously named young Lord [de la part du jeune seigneur cy devant nommé], without cost to your Majesty, and I have given him to understand that they will not be necessary in the event of the peace negotiations being successful, as their fortunate beginnings seem to indicate. Furthermore, it would seem that the Prince of Condé no longer intends to come this way.

The said young Lord [led. jeune seigneur] summons me to him today to tell me that his sovereign the Queen of England suggested that he, together with the Earl of Leicester go to the Netherlands to help and support the Dutch States General.[18] He is however loath to conduct warfare against one of your Majesty’s servants (which could be the case if the rumours that Monsieur intends to rally to the side of Don Juan d’Austria prove to be substantiated.) Should honour demand that it so be, there will be no change in the good will that he feels for, nor in his desire to be a true servant to your Majesty, whereby he can always rely on my support.

In matters of this nature, the actual events and deeds have more meaning than the accompanying speeches and courtesies or the sweet words and promises.

It seems to me that most of the time, everything which is suggested and resolved concerning matters of this kind does not reach fulfilment for fear of doing something that does not lead to the desired results. Soon I will able to see more clearly, at which time I will report to Your Majesty on all relevant matters, in detail. I wish to inform your Majesty of the serious misgivings and distrust, resulting from the belief that Your Majesty could give assistance to the aforementioned Don Juan d’Austria. It is thought, now that peace reigns in France, that a lot of French military personnel could strengthen his forces, either as a result of Your order or arising from the will of the soldiers, thereby provoking a new conflict with the English Queen.  As I have often said; there are those who would try to convince her that Your Majesty’s victory and the ensuing peace would lead to her ruin and that of her nation, with the biggest danger coming from those religionists who, not being supported by her true to her promise, would be her first and most formidable enemy.

 London 23rd September 1577

I remain Your Majesty’s most humble and obedient servant,   M. de Castelnau

There we can see that, in order to prevent a Catholic alliance between France and Spain, Oxford was prepared to go to war against Don Juan d’Austria, the newly appointed, Spanish Governor to the Netherlands.

Gabriel Harvey, Gratulationes Valdinenses, [July] 1578

Apostrophe to the Earl of Oxford [19]

This is my "Hail"; thus, thus it pleased me to say Welcome to you and the other nobles, though your splendid fame asks, great Earl, a more grandiloquent poet than I. Your virtue does not creep the earth, nor is it confined to a song; it wondrously penetrates the ethereal orbs! Up and away! with that mind and that fire, noble heart, you will surpass yourself, surpass others; your great glory will everywhere spread beyond the frozen ocean! England will discover in you its hereditary Achilles. Go, Mars will see you in safety and Hermes attend you; aegis-sounding Pallas will be by and will instruct your heart and spirit, while long since did Phoebus Apollo cultivate your mind with the arts. Your British metres have been widely sung, while your Epistle testifies how much you excel in letters, being more courtly than Castiglione himself, more polished. I have seen your many Latin things, and more English are extant; of French and Italian muses, the manners of many peoples, their arts and laws you have drunk deeply. Not in vain was Sturmius[20] himself known to you, nor so many Frenchmen and polished Italians, nor Germans. But, O celebrated one, put away your feeble pen, your bloodless books, your impractical writings! Now is need of swords! Steel must be sharpened! Everywhere men talk of camps, everywhere of dire arms! You must even deal in missiles! Now war is everywhere, everywhere are the Furies, and everywhere reigns Enyo. Take no thought of Peace; all the equipage of Mars comes at your bidding. Suppose Hannibal to be standing at the British gates; suppose even now, now, Don John of Austria is about to come over[21], guarded by a huge phalanx!

Fated events are not known to man, for the Thunderer's counsels are not plain; what if suddenly a powerful enemy should invade our borders? if the Turk should arm his immense cohorts against us? What if the terrible trumpet should now resound the Taratantara? You are being observed as to whether you would care to fight boldly. I feel it; our whole country believes it; your blood boils in your breast, virtue dwells in your brow, Mars keeps your mouth, Minerva is in your right hand, Bellona reigns in your body[22], and Martial ardour, your eyes flash, your glance shoots arrows[23]: who wouldn't swear you Achilles reborn? Up, great Earl, you must feel that hope of courage. It befits a man to keep the horrid arms of Mars busy even in peace; " 'Tis wise to accustom oneself", and "Use is worth everything". You, O you can be most mighty! Though there be no war, still warlike praise is a thing of great nobility; the name of Leader suits the great. It is wise to watch for effects and to see what threatens beforehand …

It was that I might not seem to have talked and said nothing, and that my "Hail" might be somewhat more congenial to you, that I chose material to suit such ardour as yours. Would that the land would salute you in the same tones; how, great-hearted Hero, you ought to save yourself for war and return safe to mother Peace! That is the care of men in command; that agrees with Nobility. The stars hate the inactive; they station the brave on the throne of glory and crown them with honour. Proceed, proceed with sense alert, noble heart; Heaven itself will attend your ventures, and Aether will smile and applaud them; great Jupiter will give you all happiness! O, think before dismissing lightly such praise. And now once more, noble one, Farewell; none more loved, none dearer is present. Each and all say you joy.

The much feared Don Juan d’Austria who stood before the gates of England, although he only had a short time to live, appears as “the Neapolitan prince” and “the bastard brother” in Shake-speare’s plays (The Merchant of Venice and Much ado about Nothing).       

On 3 March 1579 after Sussex's men had presented a play, and instead of a ‘Moor’s masque’,[24] Oxford appeared in a device before the Queen and the French guests. First there was the French ambassador - Michel Castelnau, seigneur de Mauvissière-, and at his side the go-between Elizabeth and the Duke d’Alençon- Jean de Simier, Baron de St Marc. (Elizabeth called Simier tenderly her “Ape”.) Last summer’s arguments seemed forgotten. Jewels were presented to the Queen and ‘there were comedies and many inventions’, one of which Mauvissière describes.

Gilbert Talbot to his father, George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury, 5 March 1579 [25]

My duty most humbly remembered, right honourable my singular good Lord & father, Mr Secretary Walsingham sent me this morning a letter which in his packet came by post from your Lordship dated on Shrovetide Sunday. I heartily thank God that your Lordship hath your health so well, and for such bruits as your Lordship heard should be raised of the contrary, it is a token that the vipers that devise it cannot tell by what other means to spit any of their poison against you, and God be therefore thanked that they have no better matter to work upon.

There is no great news stirring here that cometh to my knowledge. It is not yet known who shall be made Lord Keeper[26]. Some think one & some another. For my own part, I can give no guess.

It is but vain to trouble your Lordship with such shows as was showed before her Majesty this Shrovetide at night[27]. The chiefest was a device presented by the persons of th’ Earl of Oxford, th’ Earl of Surrey, the Lords Thomas Howard & Windsor[28]. The device was prettier than it had hap to be performed, but the best of it (& I think the best liked) was two rich jewels which was presented to her Majesty by the 2 Earls.

Other matters is that the Duke Casimir is safely landed at Flushing[29] after he had tarried a long while on the coast on this side for a wind, and was after driven to Black Nest. He is far to blame if he speak not great honour of her Majesty and her realm, for there was never any of his coat that was able to brag of the like entertainment that he received here.

It is said that his elder brother, the Palgrave, is dead [30], & then, as I suppose, the Duke Casimir is to hold his room during the nonage of his elder brother’s son, who is an infant, and if the said child miscarry, the whole is his, and then shall he be a very great Prince[31]. It is a good change for her Majesty and this realm if it be so, for then she shall possess a noble, honest, able friend of this Duke to pleasure her, and lose an evil-affected froward Lutheran[32], if not an obstinate Papist, in part of his elder brother…

And so most humbly I beseech your Honour’s blessing & hers with my wonted prayer for your long continuance in all honour & most perfect health. At your Lordship’s little house near Charing Cross this 5th day of March 1578 [=1579], being Thursday at night.

Your Lordship’s most humble & obedient loving son, Gilbert Talbot.

The front row seats are occupied by the cast of the Shakespearian play: “The French Princess” (= Queen Elizabeth), her maids of honour and the flatterer Boyet (= Simier) from Love’s Labours Lost, as well as Mauvis (= Mauvissière) alias the singing throstle from The Merchant of Venice. On the other hand “Monsieur Le Bon” (= Duke of Alençon =Monsieur) was forced to wait at England’s door whilst “the Duke of Saxony’s nephew” (= Duke Casimir) was already on his way back to Flushing. (See 3.3.2. The Jewe and the Merchant of Venice.)

The question that arises is; why were the expensive decorations for the device not entered into the financial accounts of the Revels, particularly when we notice that all costs were entered for the two pieces that were cancelled on the same day– The murderous Mychaell  and The Moor’s Masque. The answer must be that Oxford paid for the decorations from his own pocket. I.e. the presentation of his pieces did not necessarily need to be entered into the Revels accounts.

Michel Castelnau, seigneur de Mauvissière to king Henri III, 15 March 1579 [33]

A beautiful comedy was presented which ended in a marriage; a ship came from the end of the large hall upon which the Earl of Oxford, the Earls of Surrey along with three or four other lords was seated. When the ship reached the middle of the hall it suffered a shipwreck which shifted into a well performed ballet. They seized the Queen who to our astonishment also took part in the event, thereafter; she and many other ladies were given presents from out of the shipwreck.  The whole spectacle ended with declarations of love and marriage proposals which would lead to an agreeable alliance that we may live out our days in peace and harmony.  

Also Anthony Munday referring to this same show when the hero of his romance Zelauto (1580) remembers from his visit to the English court. – See 3.3.4 Munday, Zelauto.

Anthony Munday,  Zelauto. The fountain of fame Erected in an orchard of amorous adventures.

At an other time, there was a brave and excellent device which went on wheels without the help of any man. Therein sate Apollo [and the nine Muses], with his heavenly crew of Music. Beside a number of strange devices, which are out of my remembrance. But yet I remember one thing more, which was a brave and comely Ship, brought in before her Majesty, wherein were certain of her noble Lords, and this Ship was made with a gallant device, that in her presence it ran upon a Rock, and was despoiled. This, credit, was the very bravest device that ever I saw, and worthy of innumerable commendations.[34]

In the middle of April 1579 the French ambassador Mauvissière reported on the intense preparations being made in and outside London for the “French marriage”; clothes and furniture, even houses were all being got ready. Whilst Hercule-François Duc d’Alençon was preparing his voyage to England, his messenger of love operated in the thin air of exaggerations and perfumed promises. Queen Elizabeth immortalized him with the epitaph “My ape”.

Baron Jean de Simier to Seigneur des Pruneaux, 12 April 1579 [35]

Excuse me for so long delaying to answer yours. Do not think it was forgetfulness or lack of good will ; but you know that those who represent the affections for another cannot have much time to think of themselves. You may understand from the bearer the progress of my negotiation, and the point where I am. I began on the 5th inst. to treat of the articles of marriage between the Queen and our master. I have every good hope ; but will wait to say more till the curtain is drawn, the candle out, and Monsieur in bed. Then I will speak with good assurance. I hope that God will bring the business to a good end (bon port) and dispose the will of the parties to all that is reasonable for a good peace, and increase by this alliance the amity between the two Crowns. I doubt not but you have plenty of business where you are, but I can assure I am not taking it easy either, and there is enough here to keep one free from the sin of sloth. However I have so far surmounted all the difficulties that have arisen in our master's service and her Majesty is satisfied. I swear to you that she is the most virtuous and honourable princess in the world ; her wit is admirable, and there are so many other parts to remark in her that I should need much ink and paper to catalogue them. In conclusion, I hold our master very fortunate if God will further this business.

Whereupon I bid you good evening. London, 12 April 1579 [36]

William Shake-speare immortalized the messenger of love with the character Boyet in Love’s Labour’s Lost (V/2) –


This gallant pins the wenches on his sleeve;
    Had he been Adam, he had tempted Eve.
    'A can carve too, and lisp; why this is he
    That kiss'd his hand away in courtesy;
    This is the ape of form, Monsieur the nice,

That, when he plays at tables, chides the dice
    In honourable terms; nay, he can sing
    A mean most meanly; and in ushering,
    Mend him who can. The ladies call him sweet;
    The stairs, as he treads on them, kiss his feet.
    This is the flow'r that smiles on every one,
    To show his teeth as white as whales-bone;
    And consciences that will not die in debt
    Pay him the due of 'honey-tongued Boyet.'




Castelnau de Mauvissière, Michel de ; Correspondance diplomatique (1576-1585). Transcript: Dispatches of Castelnau de Mauvissière, Public Record Office, Baschet; Transcripts de Paris, bundle 27 (Public Record Office 31/3/27).

Les Mémoires de messire Michel de Castelnau, seigneur de Mauvissière, illustrés et augmentés de plusieurs commentaires et manuscrits... servants à donner la vérité de l'histoire des règnes de François II, Charles IX et Henri III, et de la régence... éd. Le Laboureur (1731) Vol. III. (pp. 521, 532; 662.) http://books.google.de/books?id=sptDAAAAcAAJ&printsec=frontcover&hl=de&source=gbs_ViewAPI&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false

Georges Hubault, Ambassade de Michel de Castelnau en Angleterre, Paris 1856

[Feuillerat] Documents Relating to the Office of the Revels in the Time of Queen Elizabeth, ed. by Albert Feuillerat, Louvain 1908.

H. R. Woudhuysen, Leicester's Literary Patronage. A Study of the English Court, 1578-1582. (Dphil 1981, University of Oxford.)

John A. Bossy, English Catholics and the French Marriage 1577-81, in : Recusant History, vol. 5 (1959), pp. 2-16

Robert J. Sealy, S. J., The Palace Academy of Henry II, Genève 1981.

Académie du Palais, in: The New Oxford Companion to Literature in French, ed. by Peter France. Oxford 1995.



[1] Dr Valentin Dale to Lord Burghley. State Papers Foreign 70/133 fol. 135-36, 153-56. - Calendar of State Papers Foreign, Elizabeth, Volume 11, 1575-1577, ed. by Allan James Crosby, London 1880, p. 20-25.  http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/foreign/vol11/pp19-40

[2] Duchess of Lorraine. Claude of France (1547 – 21 February 1575) was the second daughter of King Henry II of France and Catherine de' Medici.

[3] Giovanni Francesco Morosini to the Signory. Source: Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 7 1558-1580. Ed. by Rawdon Brown and G. Cavendish Bentinck. London 1890. 

[4] an allusion to the threatening fratricidal in France. See, Eva Turner Clark, Hidden Allusions in Shakespeare’s Plays. New York 1931. - On 5 February 1576, Henry of Navarre escaped from court. Thereby the „great friendship“ between Henry Duke of Guise (Dumain) und Henry de Navarre (The King) was finished. - Dr. Dale wrote to Sir Thomas Smith and Francis Walsingham, on February 14, 1576 : „There is a secret report, and very constantly affirmed of men that look to be credited, that a day or two before the King of Navarre departed it happened that the Duke of Guise and he were playing at dice upon a very smooth board in the King's cabinet, and that after they had done there appeared suddenly upon the board certain great and round drops of blood that astonished them marvellously, finding no cause in the world of the blood but as it were a prodigy.“

[5] The historie of Error, showen at Hampton Court. See Documents Relating to the Office of the Revels in the Time of Queen Elizabeth, ed. by Albert Feuillerat, Louvain 1908, p. 256. – Also: “A historie of fferrar shewed before her majestie at wyndesor on Twelf daie at night [January 6, 1583] Enacted by the Lord Chamberleynes servauntes.” (Feuillerat, Documents Relating to the Office of the Revels, 1908, p. 350.)

[6] King Henri III to Michel Castelnau. The letter reads in the original:

Et a esté fort bien fait à vous d’avoir ainsi que m’escrivez par vos dites Dépêches, fait la sourde oreille à ceux du party Catholique d’Angleterre, qui vous ont porté parole de prendre les armes avec un grand nombre de leurs adherens, si je leur voulois prester epaule pour l’establissement de leur Religion, dont l’exercice est défendu par de-là, estant à croire que ce n’est que feinte & pour faire preuve de la bonne volonté que je pourrois avoir de rendre à ladite Dame Reine d’Angleterre ce qu’elle me preste; comme vous l’avouez vous-mesme, connoissant beaucoup de ceux de ladite Nation estre doubles, & auxquels il y a peu de fiance. Aussi vous veux-je bien dire que, quand ce seroit franchement qu’ils fissent ces ouvertures, je ne voudrois pourtant y entendre, moyennant que je visse que ladite Dame Reine usast de mesme respect envers moy & ne fomentast la mauvaise volonté de mesdits Sujets élevez, par le secours qu’elle leur promet & fait bailler sous main, & pour cela il suffira que vous laissiez parler ces gens-là qui font ces offres, sans montrer que vous les trouviez bonnes & approuviez en façon que ce soit. Bien vous diray-je que ce sera bien fait à vous d’entretenir le jeune Comte d’Oxford en la bonne affection qu’il démonstre avoir au bien et prosperité de mes affaires & service, & semblablement le fils du feu Duc de Nortfolk son cousin. Mais regardez que ce soit si secrettement & dextrement, qu’ils n’en tombent en soupçon & mauvaise opinion par-delà. Je vous envoyeray bien-tost une bague pour en faire present de ma part audit Comte d’Oxford & luy servir de témoignage de l’amitié & bonne volonté que je luy porte.

(Les Mémoires de messire Michel de Castelnau, seigneur de Mauvissière, éd. Le Laboureur, vol. III, 1731, p. 521.)

[7] Prince of Condé. Henri de Bourbon-Condé (Henry I, Prince of Condé; 1552-1588) was a French Prince du Sang and Huguenot general like his more prominent father, Louis I, Prince of Condé. - Henri was the eldest son of Louis of Bourbon-Condé and Eléanor de Roucy de Roye. Of the eight children in his family, he and his brother François, Prince of Conti were the only ones to have issue. His first cousin became King Henry IV of France.

[8] King Henri III to Michel Castelnau. The letter reads in the original:

Je vous diray aussi, suivant ce que je vous ay ci-devant mandé, que depuis deux jours j’ay eu advis de nouveau que mondit cousin le prince de Condé se devoit, suivant la déliberation qu’il a faite il ya dés-ja quelques temps, embarquer pour passer de la Rochelle en Angleterre avec l’aide de Maistre Hacquin, qui luy a amené quatre ou cinq Vaisseaux Anglois pour cet effet, & croy qu’il arrivera bien-tost audit Pays, s’il n’est dés-ja, pour de-là passer en Allemagne, avec moyens que l’on luy asseure qu’il remportera dʼAngleterre, pour lever Reistres & Lanskenets. Ce qui découvre assez l’assistance & faveur que luy & mesdits Sujets élevez contre mon service & autorité ont de la Reine dudit Pays d’Angleterre, laquelle pour s’en laver les mains, voudroit peut-estre à l’accoustumée user d‘ une forme de bannissement à l’encontre dudit Maistre Hacquin ou autres, desquels je desire que luy faites plainte & instance, lorsque verrez qu’il sera temps & à propos, luy montrant que je ne suis point so peu clair-voyant, que je ne connoisse cela, & la prierez de me faire connoistre par effet ce que tant de fois elle m’a promis de parole, qui est qu’elle n’aideroit, ny ne pernettroit aucunement mesdits Sujets élevez estre aidez en leur mauvaise cause, comme aussi ne-dût-elle, pour estre cela de pernicieux exemple & sujet à retour, qui le voudroit faire, dont j’ay dés-ja eu assez d’occasions & de commoditez, si je n’eusse eu égard à notre mutuelle amitié.

(Les Mémoires de messire Michel de Castelnau, seigneur de Mauvissière, éd. Le Laboureur, vol. III, 1731, p. 522.)

[9] King Henri III to Michel Castelnau. The passage reads in the original:

Quant à ce que vous à proposé le jeune Comte d’Oxford de la part d’un Capitaine Anglois, c’est chose qui ne se pourroit maintenant, ayant mon dit cousin le Prince de Condé changé de déliberation d’aller en Angleterre. Mais s’il reprenoit son opinion, je ne voudrois pas que ledit Capitaine executast son entreprise s’avoüant de moy, ains de luy mesme; afin d’oster toute occasion de soupçon & défiance à ladite Reine d’Angleterre, ainsi que vous pourrez faire

entendre audit jeune Sr. Comte d’Oxford, lequel je vous prie d‘entretenir toûjours en la bonne affection qu’il me porte. Je suis bien aise du present que vous luy avez fait, aussi vous envoyeray-je bien-tost une bague pour luy.

(Les Mémoires de messire Michel de Castelnau, seigneur de Mauvissière, éd. Le Laboureur, vol. III, 1731, p. 532.)

[10] King Henri III to Michel Castelnau. The letter reads in the original:

Le Sr. Comte de Leicestre vous ait pour résolution asseuré que ladite Dame Reine estoit en volonté, non seulement d’entretenir & accomplir nostre dernier Traité, Ligue & conféderation, mais aussi, s’il estoit besoin, user de plus estroite societé & faire que toutes ces petites riottes s’oubliassent, si je voulois me comporter de mesme envers sadite Maistresse qu’elle en mon endroit, laquelle desiroit faire tous les bons offices avec le Roy de Navarre mon frere & mon cousin le Prince de Condé, pour les induire à accepter les raisonnables conditions de paix que je leur presentois & d’envoyer un Gentil-homme exprés vers eux pour cet effet, avec charge de leur declarer qu’elle leur seroit contraire, s’ils ne les reçoivent, qui sont toutes bonnes démonstrations de l’inclination que a ladite Reine de demeurer en amitié avey moy...

Quant à ce qui touche les Memoires que ledit Sr. Comte vous a dit que fait le Duc de Casimir, j’estime qu’il en sera bien réfroidy par ladite paix & qu’il sera bien aise de rechercher mon amititié, ayant assez de moyens pour me ressentir des injures passées, si je le voulois faire; & en ce qu’ils ont eu opinion par-delà que les forces que mon cousin le Duc de Guise avoit assemblées en son Gouvernement de Champagne, estoient pour favoriser & secourir le Sr. Don Joan, vous pourrez dire à ceux qui vous en parleront, que je ne me mesle point des affaires de mes voisins; me contenant de me faire obéir par mes Sujets & d’empescher les sinistres entreprises des Estrangers, comme de fait lesdites forces estoient dressées pour m’opposer audit Duc de Casimir, s’il eut voulu retourner en mon Royaume, en faveur de mes Sujets élevez en armes contre mon autorité. Ce sera très-bien fait de scavoir au vray la charge que avoit eue le beau-frere du Sr. de Walsingham dépêché vers le Duc de Casimir, & aussi à laquelle intention s’est faite cette visitation & marque d’Artillerie & des armes qui sont en la Tour de Londres & ces préparatifs de Vaisseaux ; penetrant le plus que vous pourrez en quelle d´liberation ils sont par-delà pour la guerre des Pays-Bas, de laquelle j’ay vû qu’ils font quelque démonstration des se vouloir entremettre.

Pour le regard du Gentil-homme que vous sçavez, vous ne pouvez faillir de l’entretenir toujours en bonne volonté, pour la faire paroistre en temps & lieu, s’il est besoin; j’espere luy envoyer bien-tost un anneau de la valeur que vous ay dernierement mandé; ce qui je ferois avec la commodité de ce Porteur, mais voyant que ladite Dame Reine est en quelque doute & jalousie de mes actions, combien que ce soit sans occasion, j’ay pensé qu’il estoit bon de differer encore pour quelque temps.

Au demeurant il semble par une Dépêche que m’a faite le Sr. de Lansac le jeune, qu’il soit à présent quelque chose de l’advis que m’avez ces jours icy donné, que l’on devoit envoyer de quelque endroit d’Angleterre secours de vivres et de Bois à la Rochelle, car estant ledit Sr. de Lansac le jeune Gouverneur de Brouage ces jours icy avant ladite nouvelle de paix mis en Mer avec aucunes de mes Galeres et de mes Vaisseaux ronds, en intention d’executer certaine entreprise sur mes Sujets élevez en l’Isle de Rez, comme je luy avois commandé quelques jours auparavant, il avoit rencontré aucuns Navires Rochellois et bien cinquante Navires Anglois qui estoient avec, ayans amené, comme dit iceluy Sr. de Lansac, quelques provisions à la Rochelle pour le secours de ceux de dedans. Sur quoy il avoit envoyé vers lesdits Anglois leur rémonstrer la bonne amitié d’entre moy et ladite Dame Reine d’Angleterre et qu’elle ne trouveroit bon ce traffic et secours, consideré lesdits Traitez à ce contraires ... Ledit Ambassadeur [d’Angleterre] a bien entendu comme le tout estoit passé, dont iceluy Ambassadeur a montré estre bien esbahy, disant qu’il avoit eu des nouvelles d’Angleterre depuis deux ou trois jours, qui ne faisoient aucune mention qu’il en dût partir des Vaisseaux ; de sorte qu’il ne pouvoit penser que cela fut veritable, et moins croyoit-il que lesdits Vaisseaux Anglois fussent commandez et conduits par un Milord d’Angleterre, s’asseurant, quoy qu’il en fust, qu’ils n’estoient point advouez de ladite Dame Reine sa Maistresse, laquelle ne vouloit prester aucune faveur et assistance à mesdits Sujets élevez.

(Les Mémoires de messire Michel de Castelnau, seigneur de Mauvissière, éd. Le Laboureur, vol. III, 1731, p. 533-34.)

[11] our latest Treaty, League and Confederation. The Peace of Bergerac on 14 September 1577. – See note 16.

[12] she is prepared to sent a nobleman to them. King Henri uses the indefinite article here which shows that he does not mean Oxford. Had he meant Oxford, he would have called him “the young Gentleman”, or perhaps “the Gentleman whom you know”. (See further below: “Pour le regard du Gentil-homme que vous sçavez.”)

[13] Lord Walsingham’s brother in law. Lord Walsingham’s brother in law, Robert Beale (see 7.2.4 Oxford and the pirates, note 4) was sent to Duke Casimir as part of a plan to link all of the protestant heads of state in Europe. Queen Elizabeth did however warn of a plan to form those who do not belong to the Confessio Augustana to one “party”. - Robert Beale was attacked and robbed in the English channel; a fate which befell the Earl of Oxford eighteen months previously. - See Robert Beale’s letter to Walsingham from 8 September 1577. Calendar of State Papers Foreign: Elizabeth, Volume 12, 1577-78

[14] Guy de Saint-Gelais, seigneur de Lansac (1544-1622), chevalier de l'Ordre de Saint-Michel. Lansac distinguished himself in the position of French envoy to Poland, were he was also instrumental to Henri’s being elected king.

Brouage. A town situated between Rochefort and the island of Oléron. During the religious wars, occupation of Brouage changed often between the Catholics and the Hugenots. - See, The Cambridge Modern History, ed. by Sir A.W. Ward, Sir Stanley M. Leathes and G. W. Prothero, Vol. III, Cambridge 1907, p. 32. 

“The chief operations of the Sixth War, however, took place in the west. The Duke of Mayenne was in command of the King's forces here, Guise being as usual sent to Champagne. Mayenne took Tonnay-Charente and Marans in May [1577], and proceeded to lay siege to Brouage, a town commanding the entrance to the harbour of Rochelle, which La Noue had fortified and Condé garrisoned. The siege was not conducted with much energy, and it was not till August that the place surrendered on terms which in this instance were duly kept. Rochelle was at the same time rather loosely invested by a fleet under the younger Lansac, whose main exploit, performed after peace was concluded [Peace of Bergerac, 14 September 1577], was to capture some English merchantmen, no doubt bringing supplies to the town- an act construed in England as the sign of a hostile combination between France and Spain.”

[15] Michel Castelnau, seigneur de Mauvissière to king Henri III. The letter reads in the original:

Sire. J’ay receu les lettres de Voz Magestez du XIXe du passé et celles du IIIe du present, toutes deux de fort vieil datte, dont l’une a esté quinze et l’autre dix sept jours avant que de venir en mes mains. Cela me faict bien penser qu’il ne se fait pas grande dilligence par les postes. Toutesfois elles m’ont donné beaucoup de consolation, tant pour estre au vray informé de la prinse de Brouage que comme le tout se passa en la cappitulation qui en fut faicte pour la remettre en vostre obeyssance, que de la bonne esperance que Vostred[ite] Magesté a d’avoir bien tost une bonne et assurée paix partout vostre royaume. En quoy je trouve le mesme desir que j’ay escript auparavant en la Royne d’Angleterre et en Monsieur le conte de Leycester, pourveu qu’ils soyent assuréz de l’amitié de Vostred. Magesté et que toutes choses passées s’oubliront de part et d’autre pour continuer une bonne intelligence entre voz couronnes...

Or est-il, Sire, que à ce que je puis entendre pour le present de la venue dudict Sr. de Havré de la part de ceux des Estatz du Pays-Bas n’est autre chose que pour prier lad[ite] Royne de les ayder de tout secours, la sonder sur le faict d’argent, d’hommes et vivres au cas qu’ils viennent à l’extremité de la guerre avec don Jouan d’Austria. La commune oppinion est qu’il n’aura pas beaucoup affaire à persuader lad. dame de ce qui sera en sa puissance pour les ayder à n’avoir plus les Espagnolz pour voisins et se fortiffier le plus qu’elle pourra d’amitié avec ceulx desd[ite] Estatz. Mais aucuns bien advisez estiment que lad. Royne desire de prandre pied ce coup en la Flandres et y envoyer un grand nombre d’Angloys et d’Escossois, comme desja il ya les Collonnelz Chester et Morguen qui estoyent avec le prince d’Orenges comme Angloys desbandez et volontaires qui ont trois mil hommes prestz à embaquer pour passer devers luy. Et rapportant ce que m’en a dict led[ite]  Sr. Conte de Leycester avec ce que j’en ay peut apprendre d’ailleurs, je trouve qu’ilz sont resoluz de ce costé icy d’ayder de leurs moyens ceux desd. Estatz. Encores qu’il aye quelques ungs qui ont tousjours tenu le party de la maison d’Espaigne qui ne sent pas de ceste opinion, reste à veoir ce qui en succedera.

Cependant j’ai esté bien ayse d’entendre de Vostred. Magesté son intention pour les cinq navires que l’on m’avoit offertz et m’offre l’on encores tous les jours de la part du jeune seigneur cy devant nommé, sans aucun despense à Vostred. Magesté, auquel j’ay faict entendre qu’il n’en sera poinct de  besoing, si les choses de la paix suceddent bien comme il y en  a bon commencement et aussi que Monsieur le prince de Condé aura changé son desseing de passer par deça pour aller en Allemagne. Tellement led. jeune seigneur m’a mandé ce jour d’hui que la Royne d’Angleterre sa maistresse luy avoit proposé de l’envoyer au Pais Bas au secours desd. Estatz, si led. Sr. Conte de Lestre y passoit, mais que sur le bruit qui estoit que Monsieur aller au secours de don Joan d’Austria, il luy fascheroit bien de faire la guerre contre ung tel serviteur de Vostre Magesté. Toutesfois que s’il estoit contrainct pour son honneur de ce faire, il ne dimineroit riens de la bonne volunté et offre que il m’avoit presentée de vous estre à jamais bon et affectionné serviteur, en laquelle je l’entretiendray toujours.

En telles matières l’effect et la chose mesme passent les discours et les courtoisies qui proceddent d’occasion et de belles et douces parolles et promesses. Il me semble que la plupart du temps tout ce qui est proposé de deliberé par deça demoure sur l’execution pour la craincte qu’ilz ont d’entreprendre quelque chose dont la fin ne leur soit heureuse et conforme à leurs intentions. J’y verray le plus clair qu’il me sera possible pour en donner advis Vostred. Magesté et de tout ce qui se passera digne de luy faire entendre. En quoi je n’obmetteray de luy dire par ceste-cy qu’il y agrande jalouzie, peur et deffiance que Vostred. Magesté ne secoure, ayde ou face aider led. dom Juan, et que la paix estant faicte en vostre royaume, il n’naille quantité de gens de guerre françoys le trouver soit par commandement ou par volonté particulliere des soldatz, et que de là il ne renaisse quelque nouvelle querelle avec lad. Royne d’Angleterre et ce royaume, à laquelle aucuns s’essayent encores aujourd’hui de persuader comme je vous ay souvent escript que sa ruine et de son royaume proviendra de vostre paix et repos, avec grand danger que ceux de la relligion qu’elle n’aura secouruz comme elle leur avoit promis ne luy soyent les premiers et plus grans ennemys...

Et je prye Dieu,

               Sire, qu’il donne à Vostred. Magesté entrès heureuze prosperité [et] très heureuze et très longue vie.

De Londres le XXIII jour du septembre 1577.

Vostre très humble et très obeissant subjet et serviteur,        M. de Castelnau

(Public Record Office 31/3/27, fol. 120-123.)

[16] good and secure peace for the kingdom. The Peace of Bergerac on 14 September 1577 ended temporarily the hostilities between the two religious camps. Based on the terms of the treaty, the Holy League was dissolved, and the Huguenots were only allowed to practice their faith in the suburbs of one town in each judicial district.

[17] Seigneur de Havré. Charles Philippe of Croÿ, Marquis dʼHavré (1549–1613), was a military and politician from the Southern Netherlands. Charles Philippe was a confidant of King Philip II and became a member of the Council of State in the Low Countries. In 1576 he tried in vain to stop the Sack of Antwerp. In 1577 he defected to the Union of Brussels and was awarded by the rebels with the post of Ambassador in England.

[18] the Queen of England suggested that he [Oxford], together with the Earl of Leicester go to the Netherlands to help and support the Dutch States General.

Alan H. Nelson deliberately omitted this important fact, simply because it does not fit in to his theory that Oxford was involved in a Catholic conspiracy. The very thought of raising arms against a loyal servant of the King; i.e. the King’s brother Alençon (contre ung tel serviteur de Vostre Magesté) was abhorrent to Oxford. He was resolute in his desire to fight for England and to remain loyal to Elizabeth; nonetheless, the rumour that Alençon (“Monsieur”) and his troops were hurrying to the aid of the Spaniard Don Juan d’ Austria was proving to be unsubstantiated; furthermore, the military campaign which Elisabeth was considering was abandoned.      

The States General, also spelled States-General, Dutch Staten-Generaal, is the body of delegates representing the United Provinces of the Netherlands. – See 7.2.1 Oxford and the ships, note 4 (an essay from Robert Detobel).

[19] Apostrophe to the Earl of Oxford. Source: Thomas Hugh Jameson, The Gratulationes Valdinenses. Yale University 1938 (pp. 125-147.) - See 3.1.1 Harvey, Gratulationes Valdinenses, notes 2-13.

[20] Sturmius. Johannes Sturmius (1507-1589) was a humanitarian education reformist. Always maintaining a regular exchange of ideas with the English court, he was the founder and head master of a grammar school in Strasburg. The Earl of Oxford visited him during his stay in that town, between the end of March and 26 April 1575.

[21] Don John of Austria is about to come over. Juan d’Austria or Don John (1547-1578), half brother of King Philip II of Spain. His greatest achievement was the defeat of the Turks at Lepanto in 1571. As of 1577 he was Governor of the Netherlands, Elizabeth feared that he would marry Mary Queen of Scots and mobilise a large army to free her from her incarceration. She also feared that he would effectively tyrannise the Netherlands. From a letter from the French ambassador Mauvissière (23 September 1577) we know that, in order to prevent a Catholic alliance between France and Spain, Oxford was prepared to go to war against Don Juan d’Austria and Henri de Lorraine, Duke of Guise. As it turned out Don Juan d' Austria defeated the uprising of the Dutch troupes, without the help of Henri de Lorraine, in the battle of Glemboux (31 January 1578). On 1 August 1578 Hercule-François d’Alençon (Elizabeth's French suitor) fought in the battle of Mecheln on the side of the States-General of the Netherlands and managed to save the Netherlands from the worst. However at the time of Harvey's address the outcome of the battle was unknown, meaning that England still had to reckon with an invasion from Don Juan, or even Spain. Once again England had luck on her side; Don Juan died suddenly and unexpectedly in 1578.

We meet Don Juan again in two of Shakespeare’s plays. Once as the “Neapolitan Prince” in The Merchant of Venice and again as “John the Bastard” in Much Ado about Nothing.

[22] Minerva is in your right hand, Bellona reigns in your body. Minerva is the Roman equivalent of the Greek Goddess Pallas Athene who brandishes a spear in her left hand. Harvey means that the Earl of Oxford should brandish the spear of Minerva in his right hand, whilst Bellona causes the English Achill to be aglow with enthusiasm.

As early as 1573, Phaer and Twyne offered the following translation of Vergil’s Aeneis: “and from the ground, wee wondred all, / three times alone she leapt, and thrise her sheeld and speare she shooke.”  - In The Shepheardes Calendar (1579 = January 1580) Edmund Spenser puts the following words into the mouth of the poet Cuddie (=Earl of Oxford): “O, if my temples were distained with wine, / And girt in girlands of wild Yvie twine, / How I could rear the Muse on stately stage, / And teach her tread aloft in buskin fine, / With queint Bellona in her order.” Spenser (alias E. K. [Edmundus Kedemon]) explains the term “queint” as follows: “Queint) strange Bellona; the goddess of battle, that is Pallas, which may therefore well be called queint for that (as Lucian saith) when Iupiter her father was in travail of her, he caused his son Vulcan with his axe to hew his head. Out which leaped forth lustily a valiant damsel armed at all points, whom seeing Vulcan so fair & comely, lightly leaping to her, proffered her some courtesy, which the Lady disdaining, shaked her speare at him, and threatened his sauciness. Therefore such strangeness is well applied to her.”

[23] your glance shoots arrows. Latin: vultus tela vibrat. – Bernard M. Ward (The Seventeenth Earl of Oxford 1550-1604, London 1928) translated: “Your countenance is shaking spears” (telum is defined as 1. bullet, 2. dart, spear, 3. weapon, javelin.) It would almost appear as if Harvey and his friend Edmund Spencer had forced the name “Shake-speare” on the Earl of Oxford.

[24] instead of a ‘Moor’s masque’. Obviously the program for 3rd March 1579 was changed in its entirety. The play that was announced for Shrove Tuesday in the Revels Accounts: The murderous Mychaell is obviously not the play to which Mauvissiére was referring when he spoke of the “belle comedie” in his letter of 15th March to King Henri III. The Revel account shows an entry made for monies paid to the scenery painter William Lyzard: “iij s for fine Colors gold and silver for patterns for the Moor’s masque (‚mores maske‘) that should have served on Shrove Tuesday” (Feuillerat, p. 308) –  which clearly indicates that neither The murderous Mychaell nor The Moor’s Masque were performed. In their place came the “belle comedie” and the “device” of which Talbot and Mauvissière speak.

[25] Gilbert Talbot to his father, George Talbot. Gilbert Talbot (1552-1616), latter 7th Earl of Shrewsbury, was the son of George Talbot (c.1522-1590), 6th Earl of Shrewsbury. - Source: Lambeth Palace Library, Talbot Papers, MSS 3197- 3206, vol. F, f. 295; Edmund Lodge, Illustrations of British History, 1838., vol.ii, p.146. – See http://www.oxford-shakespeare.com/DocumentsOther/Talbot_Papers_Vol_F_f_295.pdf

[26] Lord Keeper. The Lord Keeper Sir Nicholas Bacon (1510–1579) was succeeded by Lord Chancellor Sir Thomas Bromley on 26 April 1579.

[27] this Shrovetide at night. Shrove Tuesday, the 3rd March 1579.

[28] th’ Earl of Surrey, the Lords Thomas Howard & Windsor. Oxford’s kinsmen and fellow players were: Philip Howard (1557-1595), later 13th Earl of Arundel, and his younger half brother, Thomas Howard (1561-1626), later 1st Earl of Suffolk, sons of Oxford’s recently-executed first cousin, Thomas Howard (1538-1572), 4th Duke of Norfolk, and Oxford’s nephew, Frederick, Lord Windsor, son of Oxford’s half-sister, Katherine de Vere, and Edward, 3rd Lord Windsor.

[29] the Duke Casimir is safely landed at Flushing. John Casimir, Count Palatine of Simmern (1543-1592) was a German prince and a younger son of Frederick III (1515-1576), Elector Palatine. A firm Calvinist, he was a leader of mercenary troops in the religious wars of the time, including the Dutch Revolt. - John Casimir was in regular contact with Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester and his nephew Sir Philip Sidney who, as agent for Elizabeth I, was sent to the continent to assist in the formation of a Protestant league. In 1576, John Casimir entered France leading four thousand troops. As a result of this campaign, he was made Duc d’Étampes by Henry III of France for a few months, in 1576–1577. This was a theoretical position, as he never actually visited his French duchy. He visited England in 1579 to seek the Queen's financial support for his campaigns on behalf of the United Provinces.

[30] It is said that his elder brother, the Palgrave, is dead. Ludwig VI, Elector Palatine, died four years later on 22 October 1583. - Louis VI (1539-1583) was of the Lutheran confession as opposed to his brother who was a Calvinist. As soon as his rule began in 1576, he discontinued the Calvinist services in the Heidelberg palace chapel and banned Calvinists from service at court. He had a sickly constitution, even as a child and he ruled over his subjects with a strictly Christian police state; he fought against frivolous pleasure and wastefulness hedonism in all its forms and banned village fairs, Shrovetide, and the midsummer festivals (St John’s day).

[31] and then shall he be a very great Prince. When Duke Casimir visited London in February 1579, Elizabeth held a two day tournament in his honour. He showed his gratitude with dispatches of wine to Sir Walsingham and Lord Leicester. Casimir enjoyed his wine. After he assumed the rule of the Palatinate (following the death of his brother, Louis VI), one of the first things that he did was to have make the biggest wine barrel in the world. The palatine high society drank the entire contents of the barrel (127.000 litres) in two months flat. – Shakespeare’s scornful reaction was prompt.

NERISSA. How like you the young German, the Duke of Saxony's
  PORTIA. Very vilely in the morning when he is sober; and most
    vilely in the afternoon when he is drunk. When he is best, he is
    a little worse than a man, and when he is worst, he is little
    better than a beast. An the worst fall that ever fell, I hope I
    shall make shift to go without him.
  NERISSA. If he should offer to choose, and choose the right casket,
    you should refuse to perform your father's will, if you should
    refuse to accept him.
  PORTIA. Therefore, for fear of the worst, I pray thee set a deep
    glass of Rhenish wine on the contrary casket; for if the devil be
    within and that temptation without, I know he will choose it. I
    will do anything, Nerissa, ere I will be married to a sponge.

The Merchant of Venice (I/2) 

[32] and lose an evil-affected froward Lutheran. Louis VI (1539-1583). See note 30, and Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice (I/2) -

  NERISSA. Then is there the County Palatine.
  PORTIA. He doth nothing but frown, as who should say 'An you will
    not have me, choose.' He hears merry tales and smiles not. I fear
    he will prove the weeping philosopher when he grows old, being so
    full of unmannerly sadness in his youth. I had rather be married
    to a death's-head with a bone in his mouth than to either of

[33] Michel Castelnau to king Henri III. The passage reads in the original:

ou il y auoit une belle comedie qui se conclust par ung mariage puis vint une Navre du bout d'une grande salle ou estoient le comte d'Auxford et le comte de Surrey et trois ou quatre jeunes seigneurs qui vindrent faire ung naufraige au mitan de la salle & sortirent de la avec ung ballet bien concerté et prindrent ladicte royne, qui, comme il est croyable debvoit estre de la partie, puis luy firent des présens fort riches de la reste de leur naufrage & à quelques dames, et le tout n'estoit en conclusion que parolles d'amour & de mariage pour faire de belles alliances affin de vivre la reste de ceste vie en plaisir et repos.

(PRO, 31/3/27, fols. 283-283v. – 239ième Despesche du xv ième Mars 1579. Transcript made by M. Armand Baschet of BN 15973, fol. 118. - http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b90609269/f242.item.r=mauvissi%C3%A8re%2015973.zoom)

[34] Anthony Munday, Zelauto, 1580, p. 35. – Munday dedicated his book to the Earl of Oxford.

“To the Right Honorable, his singular good Lord and Maister, Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxenford, Viscount Bulbeck, Lord Sandford, and of Badelesmere, and Lord high Chamberlaine of England. Anthony Munday, wisheth all happiness in this Honorable estate, and after death eternal life.”

On page 51 we read: Here Zelauto rehearseth the verses that he wrote in the praise of a certain Noble Lord in the English Court.

If ever Caesar had such gallant Fame,
or Hannibal, whose martial life we read:
Then in your Honour, I esteem the same,
as perfect proof in virtue and in deed.
My pen unable is your praise to paint:
With Virtues rare, that doth your mind acquaint.
What I have found, I need not to express,
what you have done, I far unworthy was:
But Nature yet doth cause me think no less,
but that with love you did respect my case.
And such great love did in your heart abound:
That strange it is the friendship I have found.
Wherefore for aye I honour your estate,
and wish to you, to live Argante’s life:
And all your deeds may prove so fortunate,
that never you do taste one jot of strife.
But so to live, as one free from annoy:
In health and wealth, unto your lasting joy.

[35] Baron Jean de Simier to Seigneur des Pruneaux. - Sir Neale wrote about Simier: “In January, 1579, Alençon sent over to do his wooing his ‘chief darling’, Jean de Simier, Baron de St. Marc, ‘a most choice courtier, exquisitely skilled in love-toys, pleasant conceits, and court-dalliances’. Being in Elizabeth’s chamber one morning, he stole her nightcap, and, with her leave, sent it to Alençon to join another trophy, one of handkerchiefs. Like master, like servant: the double battery of ardent letters from the one and ardent words from the other, combined with the Queen’s own propensities, produced the love-game in excelsis. Court and people were startled. Some muttered that Simier was employing love-potions and other unlawful arts; scandal took note and whispered that he had won his way not only to her heart but to her body. The two were like twin souls. Making play of his name, she gave him a nickname- ‘her monkey’, and he signed himself ‘à jamais le singe votre’: he was ‘the most faithful of her beasts’.”

- Roch de Sorbiers, Seigneur des Pruneaux, the French ambassador to the Netherlands between 1578 and 1584. - The Huguenot Roch de Sorbiers was one of the Duke of Alençon’s most esteemed advisors. In 1578 he was dispatched to the Dutch States general as ambassador with a view to his negotiating an alliance with France. His extensive correspondence with William the Silent, Henri de Navarre, Duke d’ Alençon etc. is now stored in the Bibliothèque Nationale (Fonds français 3284) in Paris.   

[36] Source: Calendar of State Papers Foreign, Elizabeth, Volume 13, 1578-1579, p. 487.