13ff. Since Philip is mentioned in addition at line 24, the subject of these lines is presumably “the Englishman.”
17ff. This stanza contains a politic allusion to the recent defeat suffered by the French at St. Quentin.
22 Again, the hypothetical Englishman’s progeny. There is no allusion here to Don Carlos, the adolescent and mentally disturbed son of Philip II.
30ff. All this winter imagery is suggested by the fact that the French launched their campaign against Calais in December 1557.
53ff. Because the French attacked in the winter, the marshy land surrounding Calais (the so-called Pale) was frozen and did not serve as a defence of the city.
63 To landward, Calais was protected by such outlying forts as Guisnes and Hammes
65 François, Duc de Guise, was also the Comte de Lorraine.
69ff. The situation in had been this. In a war between Pope Paul IV and Philip II of Spain, the Duke of Alba, Philip’s Viceroy of Naples, invaded the Papal States. Paul invited the French to come to his succour, and Guise crossed the Alps, passed through the Piedmont, and overran Naples. The swiftness of Guise’s campaign (which began in December 1556) seemed Pegasus-like.
76 The “nearby ruin”is the beleaguered Papal States.
77ff. Valenza and Susa are two Piedmontese towns.
97ff. Writing for a French Catholic audience (and himself a Catholic at this point), Buchanan could not speak of the religious cause of tension between Mary and her subjects.