3 December 2003
ELIZABETH I, Queen of England (1558-1603). Letter signed ('Elizabeth R') to William Cecil, Lord Burghley (Lord High Treasurer), Hampton Court, 21 December 1572, signed at the head, written in brown ink in a secretary hand, one page, folio, integral address leaf, sealing slits, papered seal, contemporary endorsement (small slits in centre fold, a few tiny holes not affecting text, outer edges trimmed, touching letters in 3 words, lightly browned).
A letter referring to the effect of 'the last trobles' in France upon merchants importing French wines and other wares, and instructing Burghley to suspend the laws and statutes which would normally require the customs and other officials to charge double duty upon goods landed in 'straunge bottoms' until 20 February next year.
Reports have been received from English subjects trading in Bordeaux and elsewhere 'for wynes and other ffrenche wares who were in some doubt to use their accustomed trade that waye for feare of the said troubles and danger that might happen to their persons shippes and goods', while some of them were obliged 'for lacke of Englishe shippes' to import their wines and other goods 'in straunge bottoms and to transport them hither wherby they maye by extremitie of lawes be driven to paye double custome for their said goods unlesse some remedie be had from us in this behalf'.
The troubles mentioned in the letter derived from the massacre of French Protestants on 23 August 1572 which temporarily undermined the entente with England, and plunged France back into religious war. The prohibition on wines being imported in foreign vessels went back to Henry VII's acts of 1485, for the protection of English shipping.
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