Lot 1
  • 1

Elizabeth I.

20,000 - 25,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Document signed, giving the orders that led to the sack of Cadiz
  • ink on vellum
"looking into & depely considering the hostile attemptes daily practized against this our Relm & parson by the king of Spayne with his forces ... having resolved upon som speciall service to be don for this good purpose & to withstand such attemptes this present yeare. And having speciall cause & confidence in the fidelitie, wisdom, valor, experience, providence, industry, integritie & singular diligence of ... Robert Erle of Essex ... and ... Charles, Lord Howard, Baron of Effingham", authorising the two men to muster a fleet and raise troops under their command for use "towards foren partes against the Spanyardes & ther adherentes", endorsed on the verso ("This is to pass [...] seale imediatly and this Byll signed to remaine with the L. Kepar without inrolling of the same for some tyme") and countersigned by Lord Burghley, the Earl of Essex, and Robert Cecil, also dated on the verso, one vellum membrane (545 x 555 mm), Richmond, 18 March 1595/6, several internal holes with the loss of less than ten words and slight loss to one letter of the Queen's signature, professionally conserved and strengthened by being backed onto modern vellum

Catalogue Note

A document relating to one of the greatest military victories of Elizabeth's reign: the capture and sack of Cadiz. The need for a pre-emptive strike on Spain had become accepted by the Privy Council in the months preceding the issue of this order was issued, following a Spanish raid on Cornwall, intelligence of a planned invasion of England, and the Spanish siege of Calais. The appointment of the Queen's highly ambitious favourite, the Earl of Essex, ensured that it would be a major operation, and it took nearly three months to assemble the troops (which included the young John Donne) -although the Queen on at least one occasion came close to cancelling the expedition. The capture of the port of Cadiz, storming of the city, and destruction of the Spanish fleet, marked a major success for the English and their Dutch allies. They failed to capture the treasure fleet, however, and the subsequent lack of royal bounty from the expedition meant that Essex and Howard initially received a cool reception at court. In time, however, Elizabeth came to appreciate the significance of the victory and she praised Howard in these words: "You have made me famous, dreadful, and renowned, not more for your victory than for your courage, not more for either than for such plentiful liquor of mercy, which may well match the better of the two..."