ELIZABETH I, letters, autographs, documents, manuscripts

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ELIZABETH I (1533-1603). Queen of England and Ireland.
Fine Letter Signed and subscribed to the archbishop of Cologne, in French, 1 page folio with integral address-leaf, Greenwich, 13 March 1586/7. The text in a good italic hand and the signature and subscription particularly fine: 'Vostre bie[n] Affectionée / Elizabeth R'; strengthened on the reverse with some paper restoration; with a full translation into English.

The letter is to Ernest of Bavaria (1554-1612), who was Prince-elector-archbishop of the archbishopric of Cologne from 1583 to 1612, cryptically discussing an undisclosed sudden change in affairs since the return of the earl of Leicester ('... tant pour nous informer de la verité & particularités de tout ce qui s'est passé, que pour tascher a accomoder et racoustrer les desorders qui seron peult estre survenut ...'). The queen informs her correspondent that Baron Buckhurst, the bearer of the present letter, has been delegated to inform him of the details of what has happened and to ask for his assistance.

'My cousin. Having had it drawn to our attention that, since the return of our cousin the Earl of Leicester from Pardela, a sudden change and alteration has taken place unexpectedly in the course of affairs, we have from time to time been advised to send my lord Baron Buckhurst, Councillor in our Privy Council, the bearer of this letter, as much to inform us of the truth and particular details of the situation as to try and bring about an agreement and clear up the difficulties which may have arisen. And since you have until now borne us such constant and affectionate witness of the assured devotion which you profess towards us, of a kind which we could never profess towards any other, we have instructed the said Baron to address himself expressly to you in order to communicate to you particularly the terms of his mission. Not doubting that you will place all your power and industry at our disposal as far as the execution of this is concerned, and will advise him of everything that you know and can see to be appropriate for the good and advancement of our service, thus acquiring a particular obligation from us to you. Praying, my Cousin, that God will hold you always in his most sacred and worthy care. From our Manor of Greenwich the 13 March 1586.
Your good and affectionate /
Elizabeth.'

The address on the verso reads: 'A mon Cousin Monsieur / l'Archeveque de Couloigne / Prince Electeur du St Empire' [To my cousin the archbishop of Cologne, prince-elector of the (Holy Roman) Empire].

Thomas Sackville, first Baron Buckhurst and first earl of Dorset (ca 1536-1608, poet and administrator) had been appointed to the privy council at Lord Burghley's instigation in February 1586. Oxford DNB records that 'he had a high rate of attendance, and gradually moved into the inner circle of the queen's advisers'. He was sent on an 'expostulary mission' to the Netherlands a month later, ostensibly to assist the earl of Leicester's administration, but he soon became critical of Leicester, and wrote of him unflatteringly to the queen. For a time after his return to London Leicester ensured that he was out of favour with the court, but it was not long before he returned to the queen's favour.

It was Buckhurst, an accomplished diplomat, who had earlier been chosen to announce to Mary Queen of Scots the sentence of death.
[No: 25576]


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