82:  Making Readie for a Fight

Lavender flowersMy niece and I were taking the sun in my lord’s garden when Nero crept in with newes that his captain was gone from this world.

“My master was ever a friend to cats,” sayt he.  “Certes, the Queen Cat of Heaven will let him slip through her door.  And grant him a place near her fire, and the leavings from her table.”

He sayt that the time of his master’s life was four score years.

“How many winters is that?” arrkst my niece.

“More than four cats can number on their claws,” sayt I.

“How many winters have you seen?” Nero arrkst me.

“I’ve forgot,” sayt I, knowing where such talk with Nero leads.  “But many more than our friend Linkin has.  He was but a young cat when I came hither.”

Nero is suttle.  He took my meaning.

Linkin brought hot newes to our Field.

A well-dressed Elizabethan man, holding a walking-stick in his right hand.
Sir Walter Ralegh/Raleigh c1598. Via Wikimedia Commons.  The scene behind his right shoulder represents Cadiz.

“My mistress’ son came from London on a visit,” sayt he.  “They spake together when there was none to hear but me.  The most noble and heroick Earl of Essicks has hatcht a plan.  Sir Rabbit [Robert Cecil] and Sir Water Rawly [Walter Ralegh] love it.”

“That’s an unholesome trinity,” sayt Nero.  “How long can they stay friends?”

Linkin sayt, “Our blow at Spain shall be the best we ever struck.  Queen Puss may not like it, but she’s agreed it.  Essicks will take only choice men with him.  Not the rogues and vagabonds that ’tis the custom to send oversea because they disturb our peace here.

“First, Essicks will destroy the King of Spain’s ships where they lie at Furrol [Ferrol].  Then he’ll take a Spanish port, like to Cadiz, and hold it for Queen Puss.  There our fleet may safely lodge, and hinder all ships from entering Spanish ports.  Yes, and take their King’s treasure ships too.”

“What newes of our own Earl?” called some.

I sayt, “Our Earl will have command of a fine ship called the Garland.”  (I believe this ship is named in my honour, for I wore a garland once.)

A small wreath of ivy, lying on a gravel path.
Gib’s Garland.

Then I spake large.  I sayt,  “When my lord last came hither he begged me to join the expedition so I could make a true account of it.”

Nero gave me evil looks.

“But I pleaded my age,” sayt I, “as I hear the Lord Admiral did.”

“Or perchance,” sayt Nero, “others pleaded the Lord Admiral’s age for him.”

“The Earl of Essicks is to have command of all,” sayt Linkin. “On land and sea.”

“Folly,” sayt Nero.  “What knows Essicks of the sea?  I do not doubt his courage, but he’s a soldier, not a mariner.”

“Sir Water Rawly and Lord Thoms Howit [Thomas Howard] go as Admirals,” sayt Linkin.  “But who would trust a Howit?”

“Lord Thoms Howit knows his trade,” sayt Nero.  “And he knows the length of his foot [i.e. what’s what].  Unlike some I could name.”

A man dressed in expensive white doublet and hose and wearing the long red robe of a Knight of the Garter
Lord Thomas Howard (1561-1626), by an unknown artist c1598. Via Wikimedia Commons.

Then Nero walked off, slow and statelie.  I was weary and wished to take a drink, so also came away.

Linkin was ever a Nose-All-Knows-All.  But it come to me that now I grow old and Nero melancollie, Linkin seeks to rule our Field.

We shall see.


Toutparmoi - Note from the EditorA few quick points:

If you’re wondering how the Earl of Southampton (age 23) came to have command of a warship, I assume his command was strategic and military.  The Garland’s captain was a J. Troughton.  I suspect that experienced sea captains must have found it wearing to have eager young noblemen with them, but they would never have complained.

Admiral Lord Thomas Howard (1561-1626) was a son of the 4th Duke of Norfolk who was executed in 1572.  He was well-regarded by Queen Elizabeth.  He owed the start of his naval career to his cousin the Lord Admiral (Charles Howard, Lord Howard of Effingham), but by the time of this venture he was a veteran of several battles including the seeing-off of the 1588 Armada, and the 1596 capture of Cadiz.

Perhaps the Lord Admiral himself was glad to stay at home.  He’d just turned 60 and, despite the recriminations after Cadiz over his failure to attack the Spanish treasure fleet, was enjoying Queen Elizabeth’s goodwill.  He’d been happily married for nearly 35 years to one of her most trusted and longest-serving ladies, Kate Carey (c1546-1603).  Plus, he bred spaniels.  Far more pleasurable than trying to manage both the Earl of Essex and Sir Walter Ralegh.

77:  Queen Puss is Offended

A dark-haired young man with a spade-shaped beard, He's wearing a glossy white satin doublet.
The most noble and heroick Earl of Essex. He grew the beard on the Cadiz expedition. This portrait was painted shortly after his return by Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger. Via Wikimedia Commons.

Queen Puss is much offended.

I believe she finds her greatest pleasure in being offended, as some old women and men do.

Unlike old cats, who love an easie life.

Who now has offended her?

The most noble and heroick Earl of Essicks.

We love Essicks.  

Linkin and Nero strove to outdo each other in giving newes of his victory at Cadiz.

Nero spake of our fleet’s voyage.  It was most secret.

The ships’ masters had orders that they were forbid to open, unless they were separated from the fleet and must find their own way.  But the winds and seas were favourable.

“They saw pretty fishes with wings,” sayt Linkin.  “Who fly when they’re chased by greater fish hoping to eat them.”

A flying fish.
– Patrick Coin photo, CC by SA 2.5 –  Wikimedia Commons.

Many wisht to hear more of these bird-fish.

“’Tis true some fish can fly,” sayt Nero, “but neither far nor high.  When their wings are dry they return to the water.”

But he’d never eat of them, so could not tell of their savour.  He sayt, “The fleet was near Cadiz in twenty days.”

“Their wings have little pleats,” sayt Linkin. “Like unto a gentlewoman’s fan.”

Nero sayt that then the seas grew high and boisterous.  No sudden landing could be made on shore.

“A dove flew to the Lord Admiral’s ship and sat upon the mainyard,” sayt Linkin.  “A good omen.”

Later came another dove, that returned with the Lord Admiral to England.  Linkin did not know if it made a good dinner for any cat aboard.

“The Spanish was unreadie,” sayt Nero.  “They had few of their great ships of war there.  Many merchant ships fled deep into the harbour.  We gave fire and defeated the ships and galleys that stayed to protect them.

English and Dutch warships engaging Spanish ships and galleys.
The Battle of Cadiz, by Aert Anthonisz. Held in the Rijksmuseum.

“Then our noble Essicks, with his soldiers and the Hollanders, sprang up the walls of Cadiz and took the town!”

“And a very fair town it is,” sayt Linkin.

“Was,” sayt Nero.

“I heared tell,” sayt Linkin, “that it was like unto a castle, with all houses built of stone.  They have flat roofs, where cats may sit and take the sun.  And few chimneys.”

“What, no hearths to warm us?” came a call.

“The houses,” sayt Nero, “are made in the Turkey style.  For keeping cool.”

“There’s no glass in the windows of any house,” sayt Linkin.  “The windows have iron gratings that a cat may slip through.”

“Even you?” arrkst Nero.

In truth, Linkin has grown fat of late.

A solid looking ginger and white cat.
Linkin, grown fat of late.

Linkin feigned deafness.  “The streets are narrow.  We may go about from roof to roof.  And the rooves are well-stocked with heavie stones, loose, for women to drop down on the heads of their enemies.”  

“It were a town most apt for cats and fighting,” sayt Nero.  “Once taken, we could have held it.” 

“But Essicks was told no.  So we burned it,” sayt Linkin.  “Saving the churches and religious houses.  We’re not savages.”

“Not in Spain, perchance,” came a whisper from the hedge.  “But what of Ireland?”

Has an Irish cat come among us?  How?

Linkin (deaf) continued, “Now Essicks must face the displeasure of that woman, whom I’ll not call Queen.  I’ve no wish to insult our queen cats.”

“She’s weak and womanish,” sayt Nero.

“Womanish?” cried Linkin. “No.  Were my mistress in her place, Cadiz would yet be ours.  With the aid of the good Protestant Dutch, Essicks would be making Spain too hot for King Philip hisself.  Never before have we dealt so great a blow to him.”

Never before have I seen Linkin so belligerent.

Nero sayt, “That woman is offended because Essicks brought her no great wealth.  When Cadiz surrendered we treated folks well.  How did the Spanish thank us?  By burning the merchant ships.  And their rich cargoes.” 

My niece arrkst, “Then whence would come the money to make Spain too hot for Philip?”

Oh, my little skoller is a clever puss.

Linkin sayt, “There was a treasure fleet coming from the Indies.  Essicks wished to take it.  But no.  The others could not agree.  So now he’s returned to answer slanders from his enemies, while the Spanish make readie to come at us again.  And we here, on this perilous coast, must make readie to receive them.”

What talk he hears from his fierce mistress.  I’ve writ of her before, and how she saved our late friend the Mad Cat.  I believe there’s nowt she’d like better than to stand upon a flat roof and drop stones on the heads of all who offend her.


Toutparmoi - Note from the EditorUnderstandably, most of the cats of Titchfield and thereabouts are more interested in fish, birds, and suitable housing than they are in the 1596 Cadiz expedition itself.

The fleet for Cadiz consisted of 17 ships from the royal navy, 18 Dutch ships, and armed merchantmen and transport vessels – around 120-150 vessels in all.  The army numbered over 6000.  Some were new recruits, others were Dutch or English veterans, and up to 1000 were gentlemen volunteers, eager for action.  It was a well-organised and successful strike against Spain.

The victors returned to recriminations and infighting.  Essex had contravened Queen Elizabeth’s orders by storming Cadiz, and neglecting to take the merchant ships.  She was furious about the loss of their cargoes, said to be worth (in Elizabethan money) over £3 million.

However, Essex may have been relying on others – e.g. Lord Howard (the Lord Admiral) and Sir Walter Ralegh – to secure them.  Ralegh later said that Essex gave him no orders to do so.

After the sack of Cadiz, Essex wanted to take some ships to the Azores to intercept a treasure fleet on its way home. The Lord Admiral was prepared to agree to this, but Sir Walter Ralegh opposed it.  A pity, because their cargoes would have made Elizabeth very happy indeed.

Despite her displeasure over her lack of profits from the expedition, the Earl of Essex became, and remained, a national hero.