The episode which eventually enabled Philip and Mary to push the English council into war with France has never been satisfactorily ex­ plained. There were many English exiles in France at the time, and over the previous three years Henri had periodically encouraged these men with small subsidies and with facilities for carrying out their pir­ atical activities in the Channel.1 At the beginning of 1557 the exile community was seething with rumours of conspiracy and impending war, but the only tangible information which W otton was able to pick up related to a plot to fire the Calais magazine, and that had collapsed by the end of January. Henri was seriously alarmed, the ambassador wrote, by the prospect of Mary declaring war against him, and was unlikely to support any further exile adventure unless war became ab­ solutely certain.2 In early January Thomas Stafford had been received at court, and his inflated claims to English royal blood apparently rec­ ognized.3 On 13 January W otton had speculated that the king might have it in mind to use him for some ‘great enterprise’, but Henri drew back, as he had done so often before, and there was no further alarm in that direction for three months. In early April the rumours began again. The talk of war continued, and there was a new plot against Guisnes; also a servant o f Thomas Stafford had disclosed that his master

was planning to seize a castle on the English coast. An agent of W otton’s, designated as ‘P’, had managed to obtain a map of the place, which appeared to be Scarborough, although either Hull or Plymouth was also possible. ‘It is thought,’ W otton continued, ‘the French King will not interfere.’4 On 14 April the ambassador reported that Stafford had left the court, where he was rumoured to have received money, and was gathering arms and men at Rouen. O n 23 April he appeared off Scarborough with two French ships, and landed a small force vari­ ously estimated between thirty and a hundred men, ‘some French, some English rebels’.5 The castle was partly ruinous, and the nominal garrison o f about a dozen men surprised and quickly overpowered. Immediately thereafter Stafford issued a lengthy and carefully worded proclamation, declaring that he had ‘perfect knowledge by certaine letters taken with Spanyards at Depe that this same castle o f Scarborow with xii other of the most chiefest and principal Howldes in the re­ alme shall be delivered to xii thousand Spanyards before the kings coronation’. Because she was handing over the country to foreigners, Mary was no true queen. The crown must be kept in English hands, and the ‘lawes lybertes and customes’ established by Henry VIII re­ stored. He proclaimed himself rightful duke o f Buckingham and pro­ tector of the realm.6