chapter  5
51 Pages

1623: ‘We shall go for the daughter of Spain’ .................. The problem of the Palatinate 125 Porter’s mission 129 The

James’s hopes for restoring peace to Europe in 1622 depended upon a complex series of negotiations in a number of different places. The main line of communication was with Spain, for it was through Madrid that James planned to exert leverage on the imperial branch of the house of Habsburg. He therefore ordered Digby to leave immediately for Spain, in the hope that he would be there before the end of February. However, delays in preparing the ships for his voyage kept Digby waiting at Plymouth for many weeks, and it was not until the end of June that he eventually reached Madrid. But any irritation he may have felt at the tediousness of his journey was more than compensated for by the warmth of the welcome he received, and in early August he reported to Charles that ‘I now make no doubt but that the prince [Frederick] shall entirely be restored, both to his territories and to his electorate, and this king, merely to gratify His Majesty, will make it his work.’ He added that the marriage and the restitution were so closely linked ‘that they would not make the match without resolving to restore the Palatinate, nor restore the Palatinate without resolving to make the match’. A few days later Digby reported that the Spanish council of state had unanimously decided that Philip IV should ‘take this business upon him and procure His Majesty’s entire satisfaction for his son-in-law, as well by the restitution of his electorate as of his territories’. James must have been delighted to receive this confirmation of his highest hopes, particularly when the usually cautious Digby wrote to tell him ‘that which hitherto I have never said — that I am in great hope that God wil l . . . bless Your Majesty with such success as shall be highly to Your Majesty’s honour and satisfaction’. 1

The Spaniards were genuine in their desire to see the problem of the Palatinate resolved, so that they could concentrate their forces against their major enemy, the Dutch; and they recognised that Frederick must either be restored or compensated. But they were in no position to make a unilateral restitution of the Lower Palatinate, since they occupied only part of it: the rest was being fought over by Frederick’s troops under the German mercenary, Count Mans-

ly letter to Buckingham from Madrid, telling him what pleasure it would give him ‘to walk with you in the open gallery which leads from Your Excellency’s chamber to the palace on the Thames’, and adding that although he could not enjoy the Marquis’s company in person, he had a portrait of him in his room. Gondomar made only a passing reference to the marriage negotiations, since Sir Francis Cottington, who was returning from Spain with the latest Spanish proposals, would give the details, but he assured the favourite that Philip IV wanted the marriage to go ahead and that a great deal had already been done to advance it. Such assurances would normally have been well received in England, but there was increasing alarm at Court about the rapidly worsening situation in the Palatinate, and the suspicion was growing that Spain was not doing all that she promised. As early as July the Venetian ambassador had told his government that James ‘and the favourite grow more determined not to suffer any more delay beyond a certain, limited time’ and he made the interesting observation that, in the opinion of some people, ‘the Marquis fears that all the blame and punishment will descend upon him if it ends in nothing after all this time, and accordingly he says openly that he wants to make an end’. W ith the news that Weston’s negotiations were getting nowhere, and that Heidelberg was under siege, the King and Buckingham became even more impatient with the interminable delays in reaching agreement on the terms of the Spanish marriage, and in early September Kellie told Mar that ‘if there shall be no more appearance of the rendering of the Palatinate . . . I much doubt what shall be the event of it’.5