Henry Sidney had been a witness to King Edward’s Will and had married Mary Dudley, sister to the brothers Dudley, and he and Jane Guildford worked on Queen Mary’s husband, King Philip of Spain, and thus obtained the brothers release. King Philip was made godfather to Henry Sidney’s son Philip. The second godfather was John Russell, Earl of Bedford, who was a devoted friend of the Dudleys. In 1557 Ambrose, Robert and another brother, Henry, fought for King Philip at the battle of St Quentin, where Henry Dudley lost his life to a cannon-ball. Heading the English forces there was William Herbert (Pembroke), father to Henry, and he took credit for the capture of Marshall Anne de Montmorency. The French defeat by Spanish and English forces resulted in the Treaty of Cateau-Cambresis in 1559.
These experiences produced a tight knit family, which was further bonded through the marriage in 1577 of Henry Sidney’s daughter Mary to Henry Herbert, his third wife.
In 1558 Queen Mary died and the suppressed Protestant majority welcomed the arrival of Elizabeth to the throne. One of her principal advisers had been William Cecil and he and his son Robert were, for the next fifty years, to dominate and effectively control Elizabeth’s government and that of the initial years of James 1. These Cecils had indirect family relations to the Dudleys (Tree 1), and throughout most of this period, enjoyed an uneasy but still a productive working relationship with them on government affairs.
The January 1561 ‘Declaration of Toleration’ in France, and the subsequent Edict in July, ensured toleration for protestants and their worship, and relaxed the environment in Paris, although the situation remained uncomfortable elsewhere.
Thomas Windebank was the son of an officer of Calais, with connections to merchants there. With the Marian loss of Calais, through a surprise attack by the Duke de Guise in January 1558, the family returned to England. Thomas’ mother died in 1558 and her will was witnessed by a Thomas Kendall. (Had he too been a resident of Calais?) Trained in Lincoln’s Inn, Windebank joined William Cecil, probably as Secretary, in 1558. Clearly trusted, he is then sent by Cecil with his son Thomas to France in June 1561.