94:  Linkin Gives Strange Newes

Head and shoulders portrait of a ginger and white cat.
Linkin, a lover of politicks.

At our next assembly Linkin sayt, “You may have heard me speak of the London lawyer that was my master before I joined his mother’s household.”

(‘Twere a marvel if any of us had not.)

“Well,” sayt Linkin, “his wife has died, sudden.”

“What of her motherless kits?” called an old queen cat. “Who will nourish them?”

“More of those little yowlers later,” sayt Linkin. “First, I’ve newes from Sir Rabbit’s ambassage to France.”

I’d guessed that Mr Secretary would gain nowt there, but kept my thoughts well-hid.

A thin-faced, bearded man in dark clothes, with papers and an official red, embroidered, dispatch bag beside him.
Sir Rabbit, better known as Mr Secretary or Sir Robert Cecil, leader of the English delegation. Via Wikimedia Commons.

All pricked their ears most courteous, though few love politicks as Linkin does.

He sayt, “Sir Robert and his company made landfall at Dieppe. When they reached Paris, the French King was gone to Brittany to correct a wicked Duke who fancies hisself a Prince.”

“Where’s Brittany?” arrkst a young cat, curious.

“In France,” sayt Nero.  “I’ve viewed it from the sea, but ne’er set foot there.  Nor would I.”

Linkin sayt:  “They travelled many wearisome miles to find the King.  He received them most courteous, and expressed his love for Queen Puss.  Sir Rabbit presented our Earl, saying he’d come to France to serve the King, and the King embraced him.”

“I hear tell the French King is much given to scruffing,” came a call.  “Did Sir Rabbit say owt of that?”

Linkin (deaf) sayt, “The King was not so amiable when it came to talk of his truce with Spain, our common enemie.  He believes we English scorn him.  Sir Rabbit assured him that Queen Puss did not seek to disswade him from his plans, nor was she opposed to a general peace.  She merely wished to know what the offers were.

A sketch of a grave-faced but attractive woman with bouffant hair.
Madame – Henri IV’s sister, Catherine de Bourbon (1559-1604). Via Wikimedia Commons.

“The King sent all to meet Madame his sister.  Sir Rabbit gave her a letter from our Queen.  Madame is a good Protestant, and has a seat on the King’s Council.

“Sir Rabbit sayt she was well-painted, ill-dressed, and strangely jewelled, but accompanied by many great ladies.

“The next morning the King was indisposed, but after dinner he entreated our ambassadors to visit his son, and the lady the King wishes to marry.

“Sir Rabbit writ that she’s very fair, well-spoken and courteous, and has another kit in her belly.  He had no letter for her (I believe she would have liked one) so did not spend much time with her.”

“Was any French lady so courteous as to hoist her tail and permit one of our gentlemen to seize her by the scruff?” arrkst a lusty young cat.

“Did Sir Rabbit make a report of what was ate at dinner?” arrkst another, hopeful.  “Does the French King keep a good table?”

Linkin turned rhetorickal.

“Who would not prefer a war of righteousness to a peace of peril?  Will the Spanish keep that peace?  What of our Dutch friends, who wish to drive them from the Low Countries?  They’ll not countenance a truce, much less a treaty.

“And if the Spanish cease fighting with the French, they’ll come at us again.  They have all the gold and silver of the Indies in their claws, and will make a new Armada.”

Henri IV (1553-1610).  Also known as Henri of Navarre, he was raised as a Protestant, but converted to Catholicism to ensure his acceptance as King of France. Via Wikimedia Commons.

Hot words.  But the more Linkin spake against peace, the better I liked that French King.

If he could not get what he wanted from purse-moanious [parsimonious?] Puss of England, he would have it from Philip of Spain.

“With France lost to our cause, will Queen Puss friend the Spanish too?” called Linkin, carried away.  “’Tis not I alone who fears so.  The most noble and heroick Earl of Essex is of like mind.  I hope to hear more of this in London soon.”

“What?” came a saucie call.  “Lord Essex has offered you a place in his household?  Or is it Sir Rabbit that craves your wise counsel?”

That set all a-screeching.

“My mistress will go to lodge with her son,” sayt Linkin.  “And have care of his motherless kits.  I shall accompany her.”

“I may join you,” sayt Nero.  “Your mistress was ever kind to cats.  Once in London, I’ll friend a Turkey merchant and take ship to Constantinople.”

“Last I heard,” sayt Linkin, “you was bound for Fence [Venice].”

“I go where’er the winds command me,” sayt Nero.  “And cats eat well in Constantinople.”

Many called for Nero to tell us more of that citie.  And some young cats sayt they’d never heard his famous Turkey tale.

Nero promised to give it out when next we met.

That’s one assembly I did not trouble to attend.  I’ve heard those lies so oft I could give them out myself.

As I walked home, I feared I may have been too hasty in my dealings with Linkin.  I vowed to say sorry for my unkind words.  And offer him a rat. 

And discover when his mistress would set forth for London.

Editor's Note. Small image of a quill pen.Henri IV’s negotiations for peace with Spain were well down the track by the time the English legation arrived.

Henri faced a massive task in trying to unite France under his rule, impoverished as it was by war, and divided by bitter religious differences and the ambitions of powerful nobles.

Brittany was a pro-Spanish stronghold, and Henri had to bring its governor the Duke of Mercœur to heel.  From there he went to Angers, where the English met him in late March/early April 1598.

Henri’s domestic arrangements must have made Queen Elizabeth’s court seem very straitlaced.  Estranged from his wife, Marguerite de Valois, Henri had no legitimate heirs and was hoping to marry his long-term mistress, Gabrielle d’Estrées (c1573-1599).

However, Henri’s sister Catherine de Bourbon (1559-1604) was probably the most powerful woman in France.  So no surprise that her make-up and dress sense were subject to close scrutiny by foreign ambassadors, just as Elizabeth I’s were.  Some things never change.


13 thoughts on “94:  Linkin Gives Strange Newes

  1. April Munday July 6, 2017 / 6:42 pm

    I wonder occasionally if, in his later years, Henri IV thought the French crown worth the price he paid for it. He’s never struck me as a happy monarch.

    Liked by 2 people

    • toutparmoi July 6, 2017 / 10:14 pm

      I don’t know much about him, apart from what I picked up at university more years ago than I care to remember. Of course, back then it was the drama and scandal that caught my fancy rather than what he achieved as a monarch. (A bit like Linkin’s audience, I’m afraid.) I’d like to read a modern biography, but Heaven knows when I’ll manage that. I also found Margaret de Valois’ memoirs in the Internet Archive, but haven’t had time to do more than flick through them.


    • April Munday July 7, 2017 / 2:33 am

      If her memoirs touch on the scandals that surrounded her in her lifetime and just after, they would be very interesting, but I suspect they’re a very sanitised version.

      Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi July 7, 2017 / 10:29 am

      In that respect, she and Henri were two of a kind. But, even sanitised, her memoirs aren’t the sort of thing an Englishwoman of the time could have written for eventual publication. They were expected to write of worthier topics than themselves.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. dornahainds July 7, 2017 / 2:07 am

    Another Fabulous installment! And the Free History lessons that they never taught in school- Priceless! 😎😎😎🌹🌹🌹🌹

    Liked by 2 people

  3. trashonthemonocacy July 9, 2017 / 6:12 am

    Poor Linkin just can’t keep his audience on topic, can he? It’s so wonderful to be getting new installments!

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi July 9, 2017 / 10:14 pm

      Poor Linkin, indeed. He’s probably hoping to find more sophisticated company in London.


  4. Robyn Haynes July 15, 2017 / 2:52 pm

    So good to have cat tales back! I found the comments on Catherine De Bourbon’s dress sense interesting – some things never change as you say.She almost bears a resemblance to a current royal princess- coincidence?

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.