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Audiatur et Altera Pars: The Polish Record of the Działyński Embassy of 1597

  • Teresa Bałuk-Ulewiczowa (a1)

The mission of Ambassador Paweł Działyński to Queen Elizabeth in the summer of 1597, conducted on behalf of Sigismund III, King of Poland, and the City of Gdańsk, is usually presented by scholars relying exclusively on English records as an embarrassment to Poland-Lithuania. However, the Polish point of view, expounded at length in the Ambassador’s account of the embassy, gives an entirely different picture and interpretation of the events, far more consistent with the practical outcome for relations between the two states in the following years. The full original manuscript of Mercurius Sarmaticus survives in a major Polish library, and copies are extant elsewhere in Europe. Of particular interest are Działyński’s observations on Elizabeth and the religious situation in her realm. Mercurius Sarmaticus also throws light on the Isle of Dogs incident in the history of the Elizabethan theatre and may be regarded as a Shakespeare source. This article will provide an introduction to the manuscript source, a synopsis of its content, and English translations of selected passages.

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I would like to thank the Kórnik Library of the Polish Academy of Sciences and the Princes Czartoryski Library for access to the manuscripts, with special thanks to the Kórnik Library for permission to reproduce photographs of items in its collection. I would also like to thank Szymon Kotarski for the photography. My gratitude is due to Professor Elwira Buszewicz and Professor Tomasz Polański, who helped me with difficult parts of the Latin text.

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1 William Camden, Annales Rerum Gestarum Angliae et Hiberniae Regnante Elizabetha (London: 1615 and 1625). English title: Annales or, The history of the most renowned and victorious princesse Elizabeth, late Queen of England: Containing all the important and remarkable passages of state, both at home and abroad, during her long and prosperous reigne, (Third edition, London: Benjamin Fisher, 1635). 1597. Online, (accessed August 27, 2016).

2 ‘Sir Robert Cecil to the Earl of Essex, with some reflections upon Sir Walter Raleigh, and an Account of the Queen’s Reception of the Polish Ambassador,’ in Henry Ellis, ed. Original Letters Illustrative of English History: Including Numerous Royal Letters; from Autographs in the British Museum and One or Two Other Collections, First Series, Vol.3, Letter CCXXXIV, 41–46. London: Harding, Triphook, and Lepard, 1824. In an online version of his M.A. dissertation of 2011, Abraham Samuel Shiff writes that Robert Cecil’s letter ‘entered the holdings of the British Museum in 1807 as part of the Lansdowne Collection’ and was published by Ellis, then Keeper of Manuscripts. In 1838 it was published again in Thomas Wright’s collection of letters entitled Elizabeth and Her Times. Abraham Samuel Shiff, ‘Transition from Corambis to Polonius: The Forgotten Pun on a Diplomatic Scandal in a Hamlet Q2 Stage Direction,’ 40, (accessed March 15, 2017).

3 Green, Janet M., ‘Queen Elizabeth I’s Latin Reply to the Polish Ambassador’, Sixteenth Century Journal, 31/4 (Winter, 2000): 9871008 at 987.

4 Master copy: a set of manuscripts entitled Mercurius Sarmaticus ex Belgio Anglicus. Sive Succincta & circumstantialis narratio ambaru[m] in Belgiam & Angliam legationum, quas sub auspiciis Ser[enissimi] & Potentissi[mi] Sigismundi Poloniae & Sueciae Regis &c. eiusque Procerum & Senatorum comitiali consensu gnauiter, strenue et laudabil[ite]r induit et exuit ILLUSTRIS ET MAGNIFICVS D[OMI]NVS D[omi]nus Paulus Dzialinski Anno Domini. M.D.X.C.VII. Now preserved as manuscript no. BK 1541 in the Polish Academy of Sciences Library at Kórnik (Polska Akademia Nauk, Biblioteka Kórnicka).

5 Probably Stanisław Bartolan (Bartolani)—see Tazbir, Janusz, ‘Elżbieta Tudor w opinii staropolskiej’, Odrodzenie i Reformacja w Polsce XXXIV (1989): 4970 at 55; Siarczyński, Franciszek, Obraz wieku panowania Zygmunta III. króla polskiego i szwedzkiego zawieraiący opis osób żyiących pod jego panowaniem, znamienitych przez swe czyny pokoju i woyny … porządkiem abecadła ułożony, (Lwów: Józef Schnayder, 1828), I: 20.

6 Chorążyczewski, Waldemar, ‘Prywatne archiwa polityczne w Polsce XVI wieku’, Archiwa – Kancelarie – Zbiory No.1: 3 (2010), 1368 at 33–34; English summary entitled ‘Private political archives in Poland of the XVI century’. My translation of the quoted passage; except for Dryden’s rendering of Virgil (see footnote 122), all the other translations in this article are my own, T. B.-U. (accessed March 14, 2017).

7 Ms. no.33.

8 Teki Naruszewicza ms. 97, document 40, the Princes Czartoryski Library, Kraków.

9 Holland, or more precisely the United Provinces, the first destination of Działyński’s embassy, is referred to as ‘Belgium’ and ‘Belgia’ on the title page of the Kórnik manuscript.

10 The full relation is preceded by an additional transcript of Działyński’s oration to Queen Elizabeth and her impromptu reply (fol. 1r. – 2r.)

11 Merkuriusz sarmacki z Niderlandów i Anglii czyli zwięzła relacja z dwóch poselstw do Niderlandów i Anglii, które z woli Najjaśniejszego i Najpotężniejszego Króla Polski i Szwecji etc. i za zgodą Jego dostojników, senatorów i Sejmu gorliwie i chwalebnie sprawował i uczynił sławnymi oświecony i wspaniały pan Paweł Działyński Roku Pańskiego 1597, ed. Ryszard Marciniak, transl. Irena Horbowy (Polska Akademia Nauk—Biblioteka Kórnicka: Ossolineum, 1978). Another Polish translation of Działyński’s speech, by Roman Żelewski, was published in Przyboś, Adam and Żelewski, Roman, Dyplomaci w dawnych czasach. Relacje staropolskie z XVI–XVIII stulecia (Kraków: Wydawnictwo Literackie, 1959), 157161 .

12 Original Polish title : hetman wielki koronny. Hetman was the term used in pre-partitional Poland–Lithuania for the commander-in-chief of all the forces, and there were two such dignities in the federal Commonwealth after 1569: hetman wielki koronny, literally ‘grand hetman of the Crown’ viz. for the Kingdom of Poland; and hetman wielki litewski, ‘grand hetman of Lithuania’ for the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. At this time Jan Zamoyski (1542–1605) was the chief and most powerful man on the Polish political scene, alongside the monarch (and usually in opposition to Sigismund III), so not surprisingly he held one of the highest offices of state.

13 Except for the dates in footnotes 140 and 142, all dates in this article follow the New Style (viz. the Gregorian calendar).

15 This document is now preserved in Vol. 88/2 of the State Papers Foreign Collection in the Public Record Office, London, and has been published as No. 131 in Elementa ad Fontium Editiones IV: Res Polonicae Elisabetha I Angliae Regnante conscriptae ex Archivis Publicis Londiniarum, ed. Charles H. Talbot (Roma, 1961).

16 Nahlik, Stanisław E., Narodziny nowożytnej dyplomacji (Wrocław, Warszawa, Kraków and Gdańsk: Ossolineum, 1971), 137138 .

17 Borowy, Wacław, ‘Z historii dyplomacji polsko–angielskiej w końcu XVI wieku,’ Przegląd Współczesny 69 no. 206 (1939): 2236 at 31.

18 Przezdziecki, R., Diplomatic Ventures and Adventures: Some Experiences of British Envoys at the Court of Poland (London: The Polish Research Centre, 1953), 49 .

19 Grzybowski, Stanisław, ‘Organizacja polskiej służby dyplomatycznej w latach 1573–1605’, in Zbigniew Wójcik, ed., Polska służba dyplomatyczna XVI–XVIII w . (Warszawa: PIW, 1966), 181 .

20 Zins, Henryk, Polska w oczach Anglików XIV – XVI w. (Warszawa: PIW, 1974), 107112 .

21 Merkuriusz sarmacki, ed. Ryszard Marciniak, 7–14; ‘ Paweł, Działyński’, Polski Słownik Biograficzny VI, ed. Władysław Konopczyński (Kraków: PAN, 1948), 9596 .

22 Merkuriusz sarmacki, 12–13. Starost (Polish starosta)—the title of a local official appointed by the monarch; his main duties were policing, tax-collecting and the supervision of the local courts; he held the executive power to carry out sentences passed in the courts. Zins, Polska w oczach Anglików, 111–112, quotes a letter dated September 21, 1597 and sent to London from Elbing by Robert Carr, an English merchant engaged in the Baltic trade who claimed Działyński had been disgraced.

23 Merkuriusz sarmacki, 8.

24 Paulus Piasecius (Piasecki, Paweł), Chronica Gestorum in Europa Singularium (Cracovia: in Officina Typographica Francisci Caesararii, A.D. 1645), 179 .

25 Merkuriusz sarmacki, 8.

26 Iac. Augusti Thuani (Jacques Auguste de Thou), Historiarum sui temporis (Aurelianae: Apud Petrum de la Roviere, MDCXX), 764–765.

27 Strangely enough, since he served as the Ambassador of Poland–Lithuania to the United Provinces. Abraham de Wicquefort, L’Ambassadeur et ses fonctions, 2 vols. (A Cologne, chez Pierre Marteau, 1689), I: 168; II: 76.

28 See the early 20th-century publication of the records of the 1597 Sejm, Scriptores Rerum Polonicarum Tomus XX continet: Diaria Comitiorum Poloniae Anni 1597. Dyariusze Sejmowe R. 1597. W dodatkach: akta sejmikowe i inne odnoszące się do tego Sejmu, ed. Eugeniusz Barwiński (Cracoviae: sumptibus Academiae Litterarum apud Bibliopolam Societatis Librariae Polonicae, 1907). Available online (accessed March 15, 2017).

29 Dyariusze Sejmowe 1597, 181–182, 424, 460, 461.

30 The entire resources of the surviving state documents of the Kingdom of Poland to 1795, viz. the Metryka Koronna (Crown Metrica), have been digitised and are available online from AGAD (Archiwum Główne Akt Dawnych w Warszawie; the Central Archives of Historical Records in Warsaw) at See Libri Inscriptionum and Libri Legationum. I found no direct reference to the Działyński embassy of 1597 in these sources.

31 Żelewski, Roman, ‘Organizacja polskiej służby dyplomatycznej w latach 1506–1572’, in Historia dyplomacji polskiej, 5 vols.; Vol. I, ed. Marian Biskup (Warszawa: PIW, 1982), 737738 .

32 Dyariusze Sejmowe 1597, 10–13. A copy of the Spanish ambassador’s speech is preserved with the set of documents pertaining to the Działyński embassy transcribed from the Vallicelliana Library in Rome and now in Volume 97 (p.149) of the Teki Naruszewicza collection of the Czartoryski Library in Kraków .

33 Elementa ad Fontium Editiones, IV, 109–111, 125–145, 153–154, 157–158, 163–164.

34 Wisner, Henryk, ‘Dyplomacja polska w latach 1572–1648’, in Historia dyplomacji polskiej, Vol. II, ed. Zbigniew Wójcik (Warszawa: PIW, 1982), 36 .

35 Dyariusze Sejmowe 1597, 20–27.

36 Zygmunt Gloger, ‘Neapolitańskie sumy’, Encyklopedja staropolska ilustrowana, 4 vols. (Warszawa: Laskauer, 1902) III: 263, online (accessed March 17, 2017); Henryk Wisner, ‘Dyplomacja polska w latach 1572-1648’, 11.

37 Kłoczowski, Jerzy, Kościół w Polsce, Tom drugi: wieki XV–XVIII (Kraków: Znak, 1979), 504519 .

38 ‘Anglia’, in Encyklopedia wiedzy o jezuitach na ziemiach Polski i Litwy 1564–1995. Encyclopaedia of Information on the Jesuits on the Territories of Poland and Lithuania, 1564–1995, Ludwik Grzebień SJ et al. eds. (2nd edition Kraków: WAM, 2004), 1112 .

39 1 Englishman, 2 Irishmen, and 13 Scotsmen were entered in the register of the student congregation of the Jesuit pontifical seminary at Braunsberg (Braniewo, the north-eastern corner of modern Poland, and at the time in Royal Prussia under the Polish Crown). Uczniowie – sodalisi gimnazjum jezuitów w Brunsberdze (Braniewie) 1579–1623, Marek Inglot SJ and Ludwik Grzebień SJ, eds. (Kraków: WAM, 1998), 25 .

40 Kilroy, Gerard, Edmund Campion: A Scholarly Life (Farnham: Ashgate, 2015), 385388 .

41 ‘Angielscy męczennicy’, in Encyklopedia wiedzy o jezuitach na ziemiach Polski i Litwy 15641995, 11. Recently a large amount of research has been conducted on English recusant books and publishing in Poland–Lithuania; see the collective volume Publishing Subversive Texts in Elizabethan England and the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, eds. Teresa Bela, Clarinda Calma, and Jolanta Rzegocka (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2016).

42 Hanusiewicz–Lavallée, Mirosława, ‘ Okrucieństwo kacyrskie przeciw katolikom w Anglijej, czyli polski głos w sporze o męczeństwo’, Odrodzenie i Reformacja w Polsce LVI (2012): 3760 .

43 Okrucieństwo kacyrskie is available online at (accessed March 17, 2017). Mercurius Sarmaticus uses the word crux for the rack, mistranslated in Merkuriusz sarmacki as krzyż (‘cross’).

44 Tazbir, ‘Elżbieta I Tudor w opinii staropolskiej’, 49–70.

45 ‘Angielscy męczennicy’, in Encyklopedia wiedzy o jezuitach na ziemiach Polski i Litwy 15641995, 11.

47 Apparently Sixtus said to the Venetian ambassador that Elizabeth was ‘certainly a great queen, and were she only a Catholic she would be our dearly beloved. Just look how well she governs; she is only a woman, only mistress of half an island, and yet she makes herself feared by Spain, by France, by the Empire, by all’, Walsh, Walter, The Jesuits in Great Britain; An Historical Inquiry into Their Political Influence (London: Routledge, 1903), 111 . Also quoted by R. Marciniak in Merkuriusz sarmacki, 9.

48 For more information on Parkins, see The Dictionary of National Biography (XLV: 3–4, 1896 ); The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 15581603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981. (accessed July 2, 2016); Thomas M. McCoog, The Society of Jesus in Ireland, Scotland, and England 1541–1588: ‘Our Way of Proceeding?Brill, 1996, 133 ; and idem, The Society of Jesus in Ireland, Scotland, and England, 15891597: Building the Faith of Saint Peter Upon the King of Spain’s Monarchy, Routledge, 2016, 75, 101, 147, 287. See also Borowy, Z historii dyplomacji polskoangielskiej, 24–28; and Zins, Polska w oczach Anglików, 103–196.

49 See, for instance, Boehrer, Bruce Thomas, Monarchy and Incest in Renaissance England: Literature, Culture, and Kingship (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press), 1992, 29-30 : ‘Henry’s opponents … capitalize on the rumor that Henry has “meddled both with [Anne Boleyn’s] mother and with the sister” (Letters and Papers Foreign and Domestic of the Reign of Henry VIII. 21 vols. London: H.M. Stationery, 12.2: 332), eventually maintaining that Anne is thus Henry’s child and characterizing their daughter, Elizabeth, as the misshapen offspring of an incestuous union.’ Apparently the first instance of the allegation was in a sermon delivered in 1535 by the Catholic priest John Hale. Later the Jesuits disseminated the story, which appeared in the works of Harpsfield and Sanders, presumably reaching Poland in their writings. (accessed March 18, 2017).

50 Tazbir, ‘Elżbieta I Tudor w opinii staropolskiej’, 49–70. For a record of the sinister memory Bona Sforza d’Aragona left her erstwhile Polish subjects, see the entry on her by her chief biographer, Pociecha, Władysław, in Polski Słownik Biograficzny II, ed. Władysław Konopczyński (Kraków: Gebethner & Wolff for PAU, 1936), 288294 . She was accused of greed, corruption, plotting intrigues and poisoning those who defied her. When she was still a young girl her private tutor Galateus (Antonio De Ferrariis Galateo) had instructed her to ‘rule over men.’

51 See Bałuk–Ulewiczowa, Teresa, Goslicius’ Ideal Senator and His Cultural Impact over the Centuries: Shakespearean Reflections (Kraków: PAU and UJ, 2009), 151209 . Online (accessed March 18, 2017).

52 Elementa ad Fontium Editiones IV, 210–215.

53 For the original Latin text, from Scaliger’s book on cities, see page 591 in Iulii Caesaris Viri Clarissimi PoemataUrbes ad Divam Constantiam Rangoniam (1574) or (accessed March 21, 2017).

54 William Paulet, 3rd Marquis of Winchester KB JP (1532–1598).

55 Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford (1550–1604).

56 Henry Percy, 9th Earl of Northumberland KG (1564–1632).

57 Gilbert Talbot, 7th Earl of Shrewsbury, 7th Earl of Waterford, KG (1552–1616).

58 Henry Grey, 6th Earl of Kent (1541–1615).

59 William Stanley, 6th Earl of Derby (c.1561–1642).

60 Edward Somerset, 4th Earl of Worcester (c. 1550–1628).

61 Roger Manners, 5th Earl of Rutland (1576–1612).

62 Sir George Clifford, 3rd Earl of Cumberland, KG (1558–1605).

63 Robert Radcliffe, 5th Earl of Sussex (1569?–1629), known as Viscount Fitzwalter.

64 Sir George Hastings, 4th Earl of Huntingdon (1540–1604).

65 William Bourchier, 3rd Earl of Bath (1557–1623).

66 Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton KG (1573–1624), Shakespeare’s patron.

67 Edward Russell, 3rd Earl of Bedford (1572–1627).

68 William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke KG PC (1580–1630).

69 Edward Seymour, 1st Earl of Hertford, (c. 1539–1621).

70 Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex (1565–1601), Elizabeth’s favourite.

71 Henry Clinton or Fiennes, 2nd Earl of Lincoln, KB (1539–1616).

72 Anthony-Maria Browne, 2nd Viscount Montague (1574–1629).

73 Thomas Howard, 3rd Viscount Howard of Bindon (died 1611).

74 The Kraków manuscript is much more detailed and additionally lists the names of forty barons, the members of the Privy Council, and the archdioceses and dioceses of England and Wales. There are errors in the transcription of many of the names, making identification difficult.

75 William Cecil, 17th Baron de Ros of Helmsley (1590–1618).

76 George Tuchet, 1st Earl of Castlehaven, 11th Baron Audley (c. 1551–1617).

77 Edward la Zouche, 11th Baron Zouche of Harringworth, Northamptonshire, 12th Baron St Maur (1556–1625).

78 Charles Willoughby, 2nd Baron Willoughby of Parham (c.1536/7– d. 1610–12).

79 Henry Berkeley, 7th Baron Berkeley (1534–1613).

80 Edward Parker, 12th Baron Morley (c. 1550–1618).

81 Richard Lennard, 13th Baron Dacre (1596–1630).

82 Henry Brooke, 11th Baron Cobham (1564–1618).

83 Edward Stafford, 3rd Baron Stafford (1535–1603).

84 Henry Grey, 9th Baron Grey de Ruthyn, 6th Earl of Kent (1541–1615); see footnote 58.

85 Thomas le Scrope, 10th Baron Scrope of Bolton (1567–1609).

86 Edward Sutton, 5th Baron Dudley (1567–1643).

87 Edward Stourton, 10th Baron Stourton (c. 1555–1633).

88 Edward Stanley, 3rd Baronet of Bickerstaffe (1576–1640).

89 Charles Blount, 8th Baron Mountjoy and 1st Earl of Devonshire (1563–1606).

90 Cuthbert Ogle, 7th Baron Ogle (about 1540–1597).

91 Thomas Darcy, 3rd Baron Darcy of Chiche, 1st Earl Rivers (c.1565–1640); or John Darcy, 4th Baron Darcy de Darcy (d. 1635).

92 William Parker, 13th Baron Morley, 4th Baron Monteagle (1575–1622).

93 William Sandys, 3rd Baron Sandys (d. 1623).

94 Henry Fane (Vane?) of Hadlow, Kent (?)

95 Philip Wharton, 3rd Baron Wharton (1555–1625) (?).

96 Thomas Wentworth, 4th Baron Wentworth, 1st Earl of Cleveland (1591–1667).

97 Thomas Burgh, 3rd Baron Burgh (c.1558–1597).

98 Lewis Mordaunt, 3rd Baron Mordaunt (1538–1601).

99 Edward Cromwell, 3rd Baron Cromwell (c. 1560–1607).

100 Ralph Eure, 3rd Baron Eure (24 September 1558–1617).

101 Perhaps Edward Wotton, later 1st Baron Wotton (1548–1626). The text reads ‘D{ominus}. Riatlon’.

102 Robert Rich, 3rd Baron Rich, 1st Earl of Warwick (d. 1619).

103 Charles Willoughby, 2nd Baron Willoughby of Parham (c. 1536/37–c. 1610/12).

104 Edmund Sheffield, 3rd Baron Sheffield, Earl of Mulgrave (c. 1564–1646).

105 Charles Howard, 1st Earl of Nottingham, 2nd Baron Howard of Effingham (1536–1624).

106 Roger North, 2nd Baron North (1530–1600).

107 William Brydges, 4th Baron Chandos (ca. 1552–1602).

108 George Carey, 2nd Baron Hunsdon; patron of Shakespeare’s company (1547–1603).

109 Gervase Clifton, 1st Baron Clifton (c. 1570–1618).

110 Thomas Sackville, 1st Earl of Dorset, Baron of Buckhurst (1536–1608).

111 Thomas West, 3rd and 12th Baron De La Warr (1577–1618).

112 William Cecil, Baron (Lord) Burghle y (1520–1598).

113 William Compton, 2nd Baron Compton, 1st Earl of Northampton, (d. 1630).

114 Henry Norris (or Norreys), 1st Baron Norreys (1525–1601).

115 Sic (‘Ignobiles’).

116 This sentence is the version in the Kórnik manuscript. The Kraków manuscript includes the passage on the fate of the Catholic bishops, but also lists the names of the dioceses of England and Wales.

117 Ancient rulers with a reputation for tyranny: Dionysius II of Syracuse (c. 397–343 BC), and the Roman Emperors Tiberius (42 BC–37 AD) and Nero (37–68 AD).

118 This sentence and the two following it occur in the Kraków manuscript as an expanded version of the previous sentence in the Kórnik manuscript.

119 Jan Kochanowski, Dryas Zamchana … (with Polish version Dryas Zamechska; first edition Leopoli, 1578). See the Latin text online: (accessed September 14, 2016).

120 Apelles—a famous ancient Greek painter (4th century BC).

121 Demosthenes—ancient Athenian orator (384–322 BC).

122 An application of Virgil’s lines, non ego cuncta meis amplecti versibus opto,/non, mihi si linguae centum sint, oraque centum,/ ferrea vox from Georgics 2, 42–44 (I have used John Dryden’s translation, The Works of Virgil, Containing His Pastorals, Georgics, and Aeneis, London: Jacon Tonson, 1709 (3rd edition), Vol. I, p.124; online,, accessed September 1, 2016).

123 In Greek mythology Megaera and Alecto were two of the sisters making up the three Erinyes (Furies), while Minos and Rhadamantus were brothers, the former a cruel king, and the latter a wise king.

124 Caligula (Gaius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, AD 12–AD 41), another Roman Emperor with a reputation for cruelty. This saying attributed to him was recorded in his biography in Suetonius’ Lives of the Roman Emperors.

125 The rumour that Elizabeth was a hermaphrodite may have been passed on to Działyński by the Spanish ambassador attending the Polish Sejm. Claire Ridgway writes that ‘Quadra and de Feria, the Spanish ambassadors believed that Elizabeth could not bear children.’ The Elizabeth Files, accessed June 22, 2017. In 1985 a medical hypothesis was put forward that Elizabeth suffered from testicular feminization (male pseudohermaphroditism), an intersex condition. Rita Bakan, ‘Queen Elizabeth I: A Case of Testicular Feminization,’ Medical Hypotheses 1985, 17 (3): 277–284.

126 The Sybils—in Graeco-Roman antiquity prophetesses who issued oracles.

127 Argus—in Greek mythology a monster dog guarding the gates of Hell.

128 Semiramis—legendary queen of ancient Assyria, renowned for her wisdom.

129 The Brutuses—a prominent family in the Roman Republic; its members included Lucius Junius Brutus, founder of the Republic, and Marcus Junius Brutus, one of the assassins of Julius Caesar.

130 Odysseus aka Ulysses—a hero in Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, famous for his wisdom and cunning.

131 An expanded version is given in the Kraków manuscript.

132 Tomyris—Queen of the Massagetae in ancient Iran, famous as a victorious military commander.

133 Marcus Porcius Cato Censorius (Cato the Elder, 234–149 BC) and his great-grandson Marcus Porcius Cato Uticensis (Cato the Younger, 95–46 BC)—illustrious Roman senators famous for their moral integrity.

134 An expanded version in the Kraków manuscript.

135 The Kraków manuscript has an adapted version of this passage.

136 In the Kraków manuscript the countries to which the looted ships belong are listed.

137 In the Kraków manuscript the number of Hanseatic cities is not specified.

138 Neither the Kórnik nor the Kraków manuscript makes it clear from which point along the river Działyński sailed for Greenwich.

139 The ambassador’s instruction is omitted in the Kraków manuscript, which goes straight on to the oration.

140 The text of Działyński’s oration is preserved both in the Polish records and in the copy which he later submitted to Elizabeth’s ministers at their request, and which is now kept in the Public Record Office in London (State Papers Foreign collection, Vol.88/2, fol.17r–20v). This copy has been published as document no. 131 in Elementa ad Fontium Editiones, IV. I have based this translation on the copy on fol.14v–15v in the Kórnik manuscript, except for the first paragraph (the direct address to Elizabeth the ambassador was to make when he presented his credentials), which is a translation of the beginning of Talbot’s edition of the copy kept in the Public Record Office in London. The Kórnik version of the first paragraph ends with a sentence addressed directly to the ambassador, instructing him to hand over his credentials to the Queen after he has delivered the salutation. The three versions of Działyński’s speech which I consulted convey the same meaning, with slight stylistic differences of little or no effect on the sense. For a near-contemporary English paraphrase of Działyński’s speech and the Queen’s immediate reply, see ‘The Queen’s Conference with the Ambassador of Poland, [25 July] 1597’, in Elizabeth Goldring, Faith Eales, Elizabeth Clarke, and Jane Elizabeth Archer eds. John Nichols’s The Progresses and Public Processions of Queen Elizabeth I. A New Edition of the Early Modern Sources, Vol. 4: 1596–1603 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 53–56. Online, (accessed September 13, 2016).

141 Here the London and Kraków texts contain the adverb fere (‘almost’, ‘generally’) qualifying two places in this passage, which in them reads: ‘To those who have traded in his lands he has promised to observe almost the same freedom and immunity as his own subjects enjoy. Thereby the subjects of Your Highness have traded in his kingdoms on equal, or generally even on better terms than the subjects of My Most Illustrious King.’

142 The London copy of this document ends at this point. On the back of its last folio there is an inscription recording its provenience: 26 July 1597. Copia orationis Legati Regis Poloniae habita coram regina in magna Camera. Grenvici. (26 July {O.S.} 1597. Copy of the oration delivered by the Ambassador of the King of Poland before the Queen in the grand chamber, Greenwich.)

143 This paragraph of Działyński’s instruction is not reproduced in the Kraków manuscript.

144 In the Kórnik manuscript the Queen’s response ends at this point and there is a note in another hand, ut supra (‘as above’), suggesting that at one time the texts might have been arranged in a different order, or perhaps referring to the text on the second leaf preceding the title page. In the Kraków manuscript the whole of Elizabeth’s reply is reproduced at this point (omitted in this translation).

145 The Islands Voyage, an unsuccessful naval expedition under the command of Raleigh and Essex to destroy the Spanish fleet and seize its treasure ships, took place in June–August off the Azores. Cadwallader, Laura Hanes, The Career of the Earl of Essex from the Islands Voyage in 1597 to His Execution in 1601 (Chapter 1), Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1923 . Online, (accessed July 4, 2016).

146 In July 1597 the Irish rebels under the Earl of Tyrone scored several successes. They attacked and defeated Elizabeth’s forces under Burrough and the Earl of Kildare at Drumflugh on the Blackwater. Joyce, P.W., ‘The Rebellion of Hugh O’Neill’, A Concise History of Ireland, London, New York, Bombay, and Calcutta: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1916, 244245. (accessed August 31, 2016).

147 At this time Robert Beale was clerk of the Privy Council.

148 Parkins was a native Englishman, not a Frenchman. Whereas the Kórnik manuscript tells us he was French, the Kraków version has the correct attribution – that he was English. This may indicate that the copy sent to Rome, which was the basis for the Kraków specimen, was revised by someone who had more information on Parkins, particularly on his earlier activities as a Jesuit.

149 Perhaps a reference to the famous paradoxical statement attributed to the Cretan philosopher Epimenides of Knossos, ‘All Cretans are liars.’

150 In August 1595 a synod of the three main Protestant denominations in Poland–Lithuania convened in Toruń to prolong and reinforce the pact they had entered in 1570, and to establish a united front against the growing success of the Counter-Reformation achieved especially by the Jesuits. See the recent monograph by Sławiński, Wojciech, Toruński synod generalny 1595 roku: z dziejów polskiego protestantyzmu w drugiej połowie XVI wieku (Warszawa: Semper, 2002). Parkins even ‘cut in’ on the sermons delivered by Skarga the royal chaplain (Borowy, Dyplomacja, 27).

151 The Kraków manuscript goes into more elaborate and vituperative detail.

152 Elizabeth appointed four commissioners, William Cecil Lord Burghley, his son Robert Cecil, Charles Howard the Lord Admiral, and John Fortescue the Lord Chancellor, to handle the matter and draw up a reply for the King of Poland. Their signatures appear on the original of the official letter Działyński took back to Poland.

153 The Kraków manuscript reads Achivus (‘Achaean’, ‘Greek’). The other man appointed as intermediary and messenger was Robert Beale (see footnote 147), who may have delegated this duty to a subordinate.

154 In the Kraków manuscript this part of the collection of texts making up Mercurius Sarmaticus appears in an exceptionally abridged form.

155 In the official response the commissioners had alleged that Działyński’s instruction had been drafted by Jan Tarnowski (1550–1604), Vice-Chancellor of Poland and one of Sigismund III’s most trusted counsellors.

156 A letter of safe conduct.

157 An allusion to Poland’s difficult relations and frequent military encounters with the Grand Duchy of Moscow, the Ottoman Empire, and the Swedish dynastic conflict between Sigismund and his uncle Charles, who eventually deposed him and ascended the throne of Sweden.

158 Perhaps the publication the following year of an English translation of Goslicius’ De Optimo Senatore was no coincidence at all in the light of this remark. By this time Bishop Wawrzyniec Goślicki, the book’s author, was an ecclesiastical senator. See Teresa Bałuk–Ulewiczowa, Goslicius’ Ideal Senator, 155–156.

159 The Kórnik manuscript reads Confaederatos Principes, probably an error for Confaederatos Status.

* I would like to thank the Kórnik Library of the Polish Academy of Sciences and the Princes Czartoryski Library for access to the manuscripts, with special thanks to the Kórnik Library for permission to reproduce photographs of items in its collection. I would also like to thank Szymon Kotarski for the photography. My gratitude is due to Professor Elwira Buszewicz and Professor Tomasz Polański, who helped me with difficult parts of the Latin text.

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British Catholic History
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