Speech to Polish Ambassador

O quam decepta fui expectavi legationem mihi vero querelam adduxisti. How I have been deceived! I was expecting a diplomatic mission, but you have brought me a quarrel! By virtue of your testimonials I have received you as an ambassador, but I have found you instead a challenger. Never in my life have I heard such audacity. I marvel, indeed I marvel at so great and such unprecedented impertinence in public. Nor can I believe that had your King been here he would have spoken in such words. But if he had, indeed, happened, which I can scarcely credit, to entrust some such matter to your hands, even though the King is young and a King not by birth but by election–and newly elected at that–he would show himself as having a very imperfect understanding of the manner in which such matters are handled between Princes, a manner observed towards us by his betters and which he will perhaps observe in future. As for yourself, you give me the impression of having studied many books, but not yet of having graduated to the books of Princes, rather remaining ignorant of the dealings between Kings. As to the law of nature and of nations of which you make so much mention, know that the law of nature and of nations is thus: when war is declared between Kings, either may cut the other’s lines of supply, no matter where they run from and neither may they make it a precondition of their losses that these be made good. This, I say, is the law of nature and of nations. And as for your alliance with the House of Austria by which you set so much store, let it not escape your memory that there was one of that house, who attempted to wrest the kingdom of Poland from your King. For the other matters which are too numerous to be dealt with here and now, you shall wait until you hear what is considered by certain of my counsellors appointed to consider them. Meanwhile farewell and hold your Peace.

(Elizabeth’s response in Latin to the Polish Ambassador after he publicly complained, in Latin, of how the quarrel between England and Spain was affecting Polish merchants and trade routes. Elizabeth had been expecting a complimentary address, not a complaint!)

Source: The Internet Modern History Sourcebook

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