European Treaties Bearing on the History of the United States and Its Dependencies to 1648

By Frances Gardiner Davenport | Go to book overview
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26.
Agreement signed by the King of France at Villers Cotterêts on July 19, 1603, and by, the King of England and Scotland at Hampton Court on July 30/August 9, 1603.

INTRODUCTION.

Upon the accession of James I. to the English throne, March24/April 3, 1603, the King of France and the States General of the United Provinces feared that James's pacific tendencies would lead him to conclude a peace with the King of Spain to whom, in spite of the treaty of Vervins,1 Henry IV. had remained opposed. On June 17, 1603, the Marquis of Rosny (later the Duke of Sully) arrived in London as ambassador extraordinary from France, with instructions2 to persuade James to enter into a secret agreement to aid the United Provinces; to find out what he would do in regard to an offensive and defensive alliance against Spain; and to urge him to continue Elizabeth's policy of sending naval expeditions to the coasts of Spain and Portugal and toward the Indies. In the additional and secret instructions which, according to Rosny, were also given him, was a clause to the following effect: "Que la France, l'Angleterre, le Dannemarc, la Suede et les Pays- Bas à frais communs, et neantmoins proportionnez aux puissances d'un chacun, essayassent de se saisir des Indes ou à tout le moins des isles qui sont sur le chemin des flottes d'Espagne, afin d'en empescher le traject, et ce, par le moyen de trois armées navales de huict mille hommes chacune, lesquelles se rafraischiroient de huict en huict mois, afin de remplacer ce qui seroit devenu defectueux en icelles."3 Sully probably invented these " secret instructions ", but in any event they are of some interest, especially when compared with the suggestion made by the Dutch embassy to James, in a harangue delivered on May 27, 1603--that if the various states opposed to Spain should form a general league against that power, they would soon bring the Spaniards to reason; otherwise, England and her allies, as masters of the sea, would deprive them of the East and West Indies.4

To an unusual extent Rosny negotiated directly with the king himself, and in about a fortnight after his arrival obtained James's oral consent to a written

____________________
1
Doc. 23, last paragraph of introduction.
2
Two sets of instructions are in Sully's Mémoires in Michaud and Poujoulat, Mémoires, 2e ,sér, tom. II., ch. 115. See Ch. Pfister article in the Revue Historique, LV. 296 ff., for an examination of the authenticity of the "secret instructions".
3
Mémoires, ed. cit., tom. II., p. 441.
4
E. van Meteren, Histoire des Pay-Bas ( 1618), liv. XXV., p. 531.

-243-

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