Lot 403
  • 403

Queen Elizabeth I

15,000 - 20,000 GBP
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  • Queen Elizabeth I
  • Letter signed, at the head ("Elizabeth R"), to Lord Charles Howard
  • ink on paper
appointing him admiral and ordering him, together with William Winter, to meet the Queen of Spain, Anne of Austria, who would shortly be travelling by sea from the Low Countries to Spain, ordering him to greet her in Elizabeth's name and offer her free passage and any additional ships or support she may require, also that "you shall furder say that although ther hath of late tyme happened some shew of unkindneses ... betwixt us and the king of Spayne now hir husband which we impute to the mishappe of evill condicioned ministers, yet we can not suffer any occasion to passe over wherin we may shew any kindnes to hir bothe for Themperors sake hir father ... and for the king hir husbandes sake", in particular blaming Anglo-Spanish tension on the Spanish Ambassador for "deliting in quarelling with woordes & unsemely speches" and promulgating the Papal Bull of excommunication against Elizabeth, with a postscript advising him on what to say to the Duke of Alva, Governor of the Netherlands, the letter counter-signed twice by William Cecil, 4 pages, folio, 1 September 1570, dust staining and spotting, nicks and small tears  at folds with loss of about seven letters

Catalogue Note

Diplomatic orders by Queen Elizabeth. Anne of Austria (1549-80) was the eldest daughter of the Holy Roman Emperor, Maximillian II. In 1570 she became the fourth wife of her uncle, Philip II of Spain, and at the time this letter was written she was in the Low Countries preparing for the final stage of her journey from Austria to Spain, which would take her by sea past the English coast. Elizabeth was evidently keen to take advantage of the opportunity posed by a passing royal both to display English naval capability (her offer assistance is also a pointed reminder that "we have a hole navie in such good redynes") and to complain, at length, about the Spanish ambassador. Guerau de Espés del Valle had been in post for two years and had developed a deeply antagonistic relationship with the English government, and especially William Cecil. In 1571 he was expelled from England for complicity in the Ridolfi Plot, which aimed to combine a renewed Northern rebellion with invasion by the Spanish from the Low Countries, and to assassinate the Queen and place Mary, Queen of Scots, on the throne.

This commission was the first naval command of Charles Howard (1536-1624), later 2nd Baron Effingham and subsequently Earl of Nottingham, who became Lord Admiral of England and in 1588 was to lead the English forces against the Spanish Armada.