Libels Part 1: Oxford contra Leicester (?Autumn 1579)

Document in hand of Walsingham's amanuensis.

1.1 In document 2.3.1/3, at note 111, Charles Arundel refers to an exchange of libels between Oxford and Leicester. This exchange must have occurred after Oxford's "tennis-court" quarrel with Sidney in August 1579, but before he was ordered to "kepe his chamber" at Greenwich toward the end of 1579 or early in 1580.

PRO SP12/151[/50], f. 110 (single sheet, 310mm x 205mm; undated)

Articles wherof Oxford wold have accusid Lester

ffirst that Ned Iorke(1) had told him in what sort Killingeworthe(2) was fortified, with brasse, peceis, munition, powde[+r] &c proporcionablie as stronge as the towre against a daye(3) vnder culler [=colour, pretence] of makeinge the Quene sport with fire works shoteing &c

2. That feystye(4) meale and meat, with oyle chese and butter &c were often cast owte of the castell whiche were orderlie providid against a daye for his owne assurance, as the sayde Ned Iorke vppon sir Thomas Layters(5) wordes asserdid [=assured] him

3. That Robin Christmas gave him a note(6) of giftes to the vallewe of a trebble subsedie beside 17000 of yerelie receyte by land and office, &c

4. That Lester shuld tell him when he had his suete in hand that the Quene was of the hardist disposicion, and did good to no bodie but at ther importune suete and that no man in Ingeland had gotten eny thinge but by his labor

5. That he bostid of his greatnesse in alliance, welth, creditt with the Quene &c affirminge further that he was able to make the proudest subiect to swete [=sweat] that wold oppose him selfe against him, and that he made the Duke of norfolke(7) stope [=stoop] notwithstandinge all his bragginge.

6. That Iulio(8) shuld complayne, to the sayde oxforde of Lesters coldnesse in frendshipp towardes him thoughe ^he¬ saveid bothe his life and his honor. When with wepeinge teres, he made his mone [=moan, complaint] vnto him, at my Lord of Essexe comminge over.(9)

7. That he told the sayd oxford at redinge [=Reading] fowre dayes before the Quene knewe of my Lord of Essexe deathe(10) that he cold not live past suche a certayne time prefixed

8. That in resspecte of future times he had made a packe [=pact] safe Inoughe for him selfe, and wold turne vpp ther heles that made accownte to deale with him, with muche more whiche I have forgotten.

1. Edward York, brother of Rowland (see Names).

2. Kenilworth Castle, then in Leicester's possession, site of the famous royal visit of 1575. Compare the accusation in 4.2/5.9 that Oxford was laying up shot and powder for nefarious purposes.

3. I.e., in anticipation of a time (of crisis). The towre is the Tower of London.

4. Possibly feystye: "mouldy" (OED, foist sb. 2; EDD, feist sb. 2).

5. Probably an error for Sir Thomas Layton or Leighton: DNB; Shaw (1906).

6. Robin Christmas was Oxford's servant (see 7.4); evidently he supplied Oxford with a summary report of Leicester's financial affairs.

7. Thomas Howard, executed for treason 1572.

8. Dr Guilio Borgarucci, Leicester's physician; compare 4.2/5.10.

9. Walter Devereux, 2nd earl of Essex, the Irish adventurer, returned to England November 1575, appearing in London that December.

10. Essex died at Dublin Castle 22 September 1576. Coincidentally, the court moved to Reading the same day, remaining until 8 October: Read (1925), ii, 28. In line with a rumor that Essex had been poisoned (DNB), a rumor perpetuated by Leicester's Commonwealth (1584), Oxford here implies Leicester's complicity in Essex's death. In 1578 Leicester married Essex's widow Lettice Knollys in a secret ceremony.