Simancas: June 1569

Pages 156-169

Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 2, 1568-1579. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1894.

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June 1569

1 June. 101. Guerau De Spes to the Duke Of Alba.
I received your Excellency's letter of the 14th on the 27th ultimo, although after some mishaps, as the bishop of Rochester seized the packet and it remained in Cecil's hands for two days. It was only returned on the importunity of the French ambassador, although the letters appeared to have been opened. The letter of the 7th, enclosing another from his Majesty, addressed to Ridolfi, has not yet arrived, nor has any ordinary post come for a month. I am in great need of remittances of money for special expenses, as the cost here is tremendous. I shall now have to move my house as the earl of Leicester has bought this one from Paget's heirs, and they do badly here in not giving lodgings to ambassadors unless they pay very well for them.—London, 1st June.
Postscript : As the passport for this courier was delayed, I have time to add that I have signified to many members of the Council that the letter written by this Queen to our King was not given to Don Francés de Alava, and has not reached his Majesty by any other means. They have not taken much notice of this, perhaps because all the members of the Council are to blame for the letter not having been delivered.
31 May and 1 June. 102. Summary of Letters from Don Guerau de Spes to the King and the Duke of Alba, dated 31st May and 1st June 1569.
There had been a disturbance in the Council because Cavalcanti, the brother of Suygo (?), had been there to speak with Cecil, and he and Baptista Fortini, had taken with them a certain paper which they had drawn up there. The duke of Norfolk and the earl of Arundel had therefore had high words with Cecil who was much confused.
Don Guerau had assured them that the duke of Alba knew nothing whatever about the matter, and would not give ear to such persons, even through Chapin Viteli, whereupon they were much tranquillized and anxious to carry through their enterprise and overthrow Cecil. They (Norfolk and Arundel) had requested a copy of the document brought by Cavalcanti and Fortini in order to have Cecil punished.
Suygo had given him (Don Guerau) a paper stating what the duke and the earl hope to do respecting a general restitution ; Don Guerau being urged on his part to comply with the terms requested of him, namely, 6,000 crowns for the Duke, the Earl, and Lumley, as a statutory loan, to which Don Guerau thought it would be well to accede.
Cardinal Chatillon and his wife had gone to the county of Leicester, and, it was thought, would go on to Bristol to call to account a French pirate who had failed to pay him (Chatillon) his share of the booty. He, Don Guerau, sends a copy of a license to rob, granted by him (Chatillon). The Cardinal it was stated wished to return to France.
Don Guerau sends a memorandum respecting the manner in which England may be assailed, and of the state of the country, the substance of which is as follows :
That the ports are badly fortified, and they hope to defend them with troops.
That they expect to be able to repel any attack by means of their fleet.
The Queen has 22 great ships, but with difficulty has been able to equip 11, it being impossible for her to fit out more.
Subjects own about 70 ships, great and small, the vessels good, and the men experienced, as they are all pirates.
The men on the fleet, although they appear bellicose, are really pampered and effeminate, different from what they used to be.
People generally, and especially the Councillors, are satisfied with the government of the Queen, which is mild, and they are at liberty to share plunder with the Corsairs, and make use of the royal treasury.
The Catholics desire a change as they are deprived of the exercise of their religion.
The English hate the very name of foreigner, and they (the Catholics) wish the change to be made in a way that shall not hand them over to any other nation.
The Council alone rules, and the Queen is occupied entirely in pleasure, being governed by Cecil.
By his advice she is countenancing the rebels in France and Flanders, having her eye on the fact that neighbouring princes are engaged in war and cannot now undertake the reduction of her country nor force restitution of the stolen property, which is so great that it has enriched all the country.
The Queen's Council fears the people more than anything else, and therefore deceives them with innumerable tricks and false victories.
If the duke of Alba will continue to enforce the proclamation published in April, and a similar proclamation is enacted in France, whilst at the same time care be taken that no merchandise shall be exported from Spain or Portugal to England, the people will themselves overthrow the Government, and will submit to any terms, perhaps even returning to the Catholic faith.
In order the more speedily to carry this out, it would be well also that the duke of Florence and the seignories of Genoa, Venice and Lucca, should order their respective subjects to have no dealings with Englishmen. This should be done by the authority of the Pope.
Hamburg trade should be taken away from them, either by moving some friendly sovereign to commence war against that city, or by the Empire itself doing so, on the ground that Hamburg has departed from the Augustinian creed and embraced Calvinism ; or else by seizing the mouth of the Elbe or capturing the ships that go thither.
It would not be bad if they (the English) could be deprived of trade with Muscovy and Poland and the Easterling country, through which they expect to find a way for the spices.
Norfolk, Arundel, and Lumley desire a change of religion. The two latter may be considered Catholics, and they say they will make Norfolk become one.
This will be aided by the earls of Northumberland, Derby, Cumberland, Montague, Dacre, Morley, and many other Catholics, as well as by the north-country, Wales, and Cornwall.
If his Majesty would resolutely take the country in hand, with the intention of proclaiming the queen of Scotland as Queen, he would meet with help rather than hindrance from the French. It will be best, however, first to get the Queen released, as it is out of the question that the queen of England will liberate her.
If his Majesty thinks well to avenge the injuries done to his subjects by subjecting the country to the service of God and to his own dominion, he being the legitimate descendant of King Edward, and will undertake the matter powerfully, he (Don Guerau) is certain of success on account of the people being divided in religion, and also by means of the Catholic nobles who are now treated narrowly and look for favour from his Majesty. The said earls would help.
Seeing the affection borne by the Scotch people to the queen of Scotland, he (Don Guerau) is certain that if she were provided with money they would overthrow the Regent James. The man who has the prince in his keeping is a great friend of the Regent's, so that the prince is in danger of being murdered.
The bishop of Ross had told him that if it had not been for Cecil he would have already got the rest of them to agree to the release of his mistress. He (Cecil?) wishes now, that it is proved that the queen of Scotland has not renounced her rights to the English crown in favour of the duke of Anjou, that she shall make the renunciation in favour of the Queen (of England) and her heirs, a certificate being given by the Christian King and his brother that no renunciation has been made in their favour. The Bishop had replied to this, that, according to the treaty of Little Leith, this could only be done by the consent of his Majesty (Philip), whereupon they (the English) said that they did not wish to introduce him into the matter.
They also demand of the Scots a rectification of the frontier between England and Scotland, promising to favour the Regent James if this is obtained. Don Guerau is sure that, if the Queen (of Scotland) were put into possession of her kingdom again, she would do whatever she were asked.
The Bishop asked him (Don Guerau) whether he had any instructions respecting the marriage of his mistress in Spain, where a fitting match might be found for her, according to the duke of Alba's conversation with her gentlemen. Don Guerau replied that his only orders were to endeavour to prevail upon the queen of England to liberate the queen of Scotland.
There is in Ireland an English Catholic named Thomas Stukeley who was a pensioner of his Majesty's and served him as captain at the battle of St. Quintin. He has been deprived of his office of commander of the horse in Ireland on account of his religion, the office having been given to a great heretic. A Venetian has spoken to Don Guerau on his behalf, and proposed that if his Majesty wished to take possession of that island he (Stukely) would undertake that it should be done if he were provided with 20 armed ships and some weapons for the natives, who have none now. Stukely would provide a safe port ; and, if Don Guerau thought well of it, the said Venetian would go and submit it to the King, taking with him the signature in blank of Stukely. That Baron Herefert (Fitzmaurice?) has risen in Ireland with 4,000 men and is going against the Viceroy ; and many others will follow his example if help is given to them by ships from Spain.
The English say they have a league with the house of the Count Palatine aud declare they have ready in Germany 10,000 foot and 6,000 horse.
1 June. 103. The Duke Of Alba to the King.
I cannot gather much light about English affairs from what Don Guerau writes, as your Majesty will see by his letters. I hope your Majesty will send me what I request in my letter of 5th April, because, until we have recovered the property the Queen is detaining, we should on no account break with them. No arrangement should be made with them, however, without the restitution of what they have seized. As I say in the enclosed letter, if your Majesty wishes to break with the Queen or change the government, there will be ample opportunities for doing it after we have got our property back. It is true that the minute the French learn your Majesty's intentions, they will settle matters with their rebels to the great prejudice of Christendom, or will marry the queen of Scotland to Anjou, the undesirability of which your Majesty will see. I think therefore it would be better to wait a little until we see how things go in France, and if they turn out badly (which God forbid), your Majesty should allow me to enter the field with all the forces I have, and as many more as I can get, and go to the help of the King. We can then stipulate that your Majesty should be allowed a free hand in England and to marry the queen of Scotland to whomsoever you please. (fn. 1) If this be not done the Emperor may step in and ask for her hand for his brother, the Archduke Charles, and, from what I understand, the King of France would agree to this to oblige his father-in-law. If your Majesty countenances this, it may be brought about and not be merely imagination on my part. (fn. 2) The queen of Scotland has not sufficient power over her son to be able to send him to Spain to be brought up. The men from her who came to see me, brought letters of credence in virtue of which they begged your Majesty's help, pointing out where such help might be given and stating the persons in England and Scotland who are devoted to her. She places herself absolutely in your Majesty's hands in all things. I heard them kindly, and told them that to help the Queen with men and munitions would neither suit your Majesty nor her, as it would mean immediately a war with England. I said the aid that would be most useful to her would be money and advice, and I had no doubt your Majesty would send her both when her affairs were in such a position as to need such help for their successful issue. I told them to return to their mistress with this and learn what course she intended to adopt. When they had discussed the matter thoroughly with her, I told them to return to me and I would tell them what your Majesty would do. They went away satisfied. I beg your Majesty to send me instructions.—Antwerp, 1 June 1569.
12 June. 104. The Duke Of Alba to the King.
I have received your Majesty's letters on English affairs enclosing me four others in Latin, one for the queen of England containing your Majesty's proposals for a speedy solution of the differences arising out of the seizures, and the others, letters of credence for me 'or the persons I may send thither with the principal letter to the Queen. The proposals embodied in the letters for a mutual release of the arrested property are in conformity with my recommendations, but the opinion adopted by us here, that a letter of credence might be sent for me or the person who is to go, enabling the terms to be raised or abated as circumstances might demand, has since caused me some scruple, not on account of the suggestion itself or because I have any doubt that your Majesty has adopted the best course, and less still because I have the slightest intention of doing anything not in accordance with your Majesty's interests, but as a matter of expediency. Although, prima facie, it might appear that your Majesty's intention was that the letter should be sent off at once by some special person, yet I am so sure of your Majesty's confidence in my life-long desire to serve you efficiently, that I venture to think that your Majesty will not disapprove of my delaying the despatch of the letter until I have considered, maturely, the circumstances as they at present exist. I am the more anxious to do this as your Majesty leaves to me the selection and instruction of the person who is to go. The letter itself is so extremely studiously worded and full, that a copy of it would be almost a sufficient instruction ; but as your Majesty orders me to manage the business so as to attain the end desired, which, I take it, is the principal object of your Majesty's instructions, I understand that I may be allowed discretion as to the means or procedure to be employed. In this confidence I have deeply considered what can be done to bring the Queen round, dexterously and secretly, to the end aimed at, and three courses have presented themselves to me. First, to send your Majesty's letters by a special envoy ; secondly,to let the Queen know that if she wishes to negotiate for the settlement of the differences arising out of the seizures I have sufficient powers for the purpose ; and, thirdly, whether it would not be better, before doing either of these two things, to endeavour by some means to feel our way rather than to give the idea that you are forced to take the first step towards a mutual restitution.
As regards the first point, if the Queen could be depended upon to interpret the letter with the same sincerity with which it is written, I am convinced that this would be the best course to pursue in every way, and that most in accordance with your Majesty's usual desire to live in peace and harmony with your neighbours ; but apart from the Queen's natural character, which is so different from this, she allows herself to be influenced by such perverse people in her Council, and by foreigners like Cardinal Chatillon, that it is very much to be feared that they will twist the meaning of the letter to their own advantage, and so influence, to an even greater extent, the Queen's mind, which is already so proud and presumptuous. They may persuade her that this step of your Majesty's is a sign that you are forced to make the first approach to her, and that she may therefore, by standing firm, negotiate on a better footing. Besides this, she might produce a bad effect upon other princes by sending copies of the letter out broadcast, with her own gloss upon it that only pure necessity had caused your Majesty to write it. If this were done, I do not see how you could possibly put up with such an indignity without resenting it, and I see, nevertheless, that it is not the intention of your Majesty to go to war ; nor are things in such a state at present as to enable us to do so. Even if war were commenced the Queen would, at least, keep everything she has seized, of which the value is immensely greater than what we have arrested, and this is a point which makes our terms the more difficult to obtain from the Queen. If she refuses to come to terms I do not know what your Majesty can do. I am thus brought to the conclusion that, in order to obtain a mutual restitution, we should avoid declaring the contents of the letter at first, and should only do so after we have elucidated the matter.
As regards the second point, of letting the Queen know that I have power to treat of the seizures, I find the power your Majesty sends me is drawn up generally and in conformity with that formerly held by the duchess of Parma, without any special mention being made of the particular point now in dispute. If I had to produce it they might object that it is not a power which is apt for purpose ; although, by virtue of it, I could deal with all old points of difference which they wish to discuss at the same time as the question of the seizures, particularly as I can show nothing but the power ; the letters of credence all speaking of her relaxing her seizures and offering reciprocally to do the same, which is open to the objection to which I have referred. The second course therefore will not do.
I will now pass the third alternative, which seems to be the least dangerous, namely, to employ some trustworthy merchant such as I have at hand, and send him there on the pretext of looking after his own arrested merchandise. He could approach some of the members of the Council who he thinks most likely to help him for a good reward, and so sound the current of opinion and discover what the feeling is with regard to restoring the property, if your Majesty will do similarly, and what they think your Majesty might do otherwise. He could learn whether they are tired of things being as they are, whether some means could be found by which they should take the first step towards a restitution, of which, although I am not depending much upon it, I am not quite without hope, as I write to your Majesty in the Spanish letter. I am the more inclined to adopt this course as your Majesty writes that someone to represent the merchants should accompany the envoy to be sent. The means by which it could be carried out are suggested by what Don Guerau writes about winning people over. Another reason why I think well of the proposal is, that it can be done in a few days, at the end of which, even though I may not have gained all I want, at least more light will have been thrown upon the situation and I shall be able to act with greater confidence. I have also borne in mind the urgency with which your Majesty presses upon me the speedy conclusion of the business, and I think that this third course is the lesser of the evils. The date on your Majesty's letter (9th May) will, it is true, get daily older, but the road is long, and by France unsafe, so that this drawback can be explained away.
It may be said that the Queen and her ministers could not make capital out of the assertion that we had taken the first step, as your Majesty's letter is in answer to one of hers ; but I cannot ignore the fact that not so much can be made of her letter as of yours, because hers contains no such request, and was not sent direct to your Majesty or by a special envoy, but was forwarded in an unusual way to Don Francés, in doubt if he would send it on or not, and even now they think he did not send it.
It might also be said that the declaratory clause in the letter, offering to restore the arrested goods if England will do the same, is in substance identical with my instructions to D'Assonleville, and that, therefore, I am inconsistent in objecting to it in your letter. But there is a distinction, because I ; did not put it in a letter for the Queen but only in a private memorandum for D'Assonleville, and left to his discretion the declaration of it in harmony with other points. I might have proceeded in this way with the letters now sent, if I had some in blank with which I could have proceeded, step by step, but the letter sent lays bare the whole matter.
I have thought well to lay all this before your Majesty by special courier for your Majesty's decision, as to whether you will send me fresh letters in various forms that I may use them according to circumstances. If your Majesty thinks well also, you might write a letter to the Queen in the sense indicated in mine of 2nd April, saying that you have received her letters, summarizing their contents, and since she had adopted this course, your Majesty has ordered me to convey your intentions to her and has granted me authority to settle with her, or her agents, the matter of the seizures, both as regards Spain and here. Some more letters of credence might be sent to me for any persons we might send in your Majesty's name, besides these I send, but none of the letters should say about your Majesty's offer to raise the arrests, on England doing the same, but should merely speak generally of the property seized on both sides. I will deal with the matter as promptly as I can, using the letters I have, if I see a chance of doing so favourably, although those I ask for now will still be desirable, even though they may arrive late, as your Majesty well knows that matters of such weight as this cannot be settled in a few days. Your Majesty might also consider whether you should send me a general power to treat of all differences with England both in Spain and here, in which case I will not conclude anything touching Spain without first consulting you.—Brussels, 12th June 1569.
13 June. 105. The Duke Of Alba to the King.
Refers to the aforegoing letter (written in French) as containing the opinion of the Council as well as his own.
I was advised recently that two Florentines named Estriota Cavalcanti and Rodolfo Ridolfi had some influence with the Queen, they having been the men who negotiated the agreement between her and the French. They are pensioners of both Kings. I am told by Chapin Viteli, who mentioned them to me, that they would be glad to sound the Queen and her Council, and I consequently ordered him to write to them, saying that he had not ventured to propose the matter to me, as he knew I did not like to be spoken to about it and had no intention of taking up any negotiations, but urging them to proceed in their own way and let him know everything they heard. They did so, and Estriota sent to a brother of his the enclosed memorandum.
When I was at Antwerp I was told by Thomas Fiesco, a Genoese, merchant there, that he was very friendly with Benedict Spinola (who, I have an idea was the first cause of the money being seized), and he thought that if he went to London to see him, he could lead matters in such a way that the Queen would ask you to raise the arrests. I was much pleased with his sensible manner and entered into particulars with him. He told me that he expected to employ some 15,000 or 20,000 ducats, part of the value of the merchandise, in buying over Cecil and the other councillors who are opposed to the property being restored, and, as I thought well of the proposal, in which nothing was risked but a delay of 15 or 20 days, I have entrusted the business to him. He is to do it as if on his own account and with great secrecy and speed, not going beyond the line I lay down for him. I hope from his manner that he will make no mistake, but his task will be greatly aided by the inclination of the Queen's councillors, who are always on the lookout for their own interests. I beg your Majesty to order that the despatches on this matter may pass through very few hands because, even before the courier arrived, all Antwerp knew that you had written to the Queen, and it might prejudice matters if she knew that I was keeping the letters back.—Brussels, 13th June 1569.
14 June. 106. Guerau De Spes to the King.
In accordance with your Majesty's orders of 4th April, I will follow the instructions of the duke of Alba in all these affairs here, and give him daily information of what is going on, as well as writing to your Majesty as often as I can. I had learnt here of the letter the Queen had written to your Majesty and the excuses contained in it. Truly her heart and that of her people must have been, indeed, corrupted to have wished to disturb the tranquillity of the States of Flanders and to prevent the religious question being peacefully settled there and in France. They have now taken to rob so openly under the Queen's standard, attacking and capturing ships of your Majesty's subjects whilst peacefully proceeding on their voyages, that it is surprising to see. As they have already stolen a great proportion of the merchandise detained, and the Council itself is largely interested therein, this is a point which makes all agreements difficult. I cannot negotiate with the duke of Norfolk and earl of Arundel except through other persons, namely, Roberto Ridolfi, a Florentine, and John Suygo, a Milanese, persons attached to the said noblemen. I do not know them (i.e., Norfolk and Arundel), and never saw them at Court before my detention, but I have some confidence that they will serve your Majesty well at this juncture, although the fact that they are English and not entirely Catholic, makes one always suspicious of them. In any case, they have already prevented, so far as they could, more evil being done, and have somewhat tempered the fury of Cecil. They promise, according to their intermediaries, that they will cause a general restitution of all goods detained, and they even thought of going further still. It would be greatly advantageous to settle this by their means, and after your Majesty's subjects have been satisfied and their property restored, in due time, when your Majesty wishes, punishment can be dealt out to these bad neighbours and their accomplices, and at the same time such measures be taken as shall prevent for the future any fear of your Majesty's subjects being ruined and your dominions disturbed by these people. In any other case such neighbours as these will keep us in constant turmoil, since their change of religion has freed them from the obligation to fulfil their engagements and alliances. On Sunday last the usual councillors met together and they are still at it yesterday and to-day ; the gentlemen of whom I speak, have just sent to say that, although some difference still exists, they hope to arrange a general restitution and my entire liberation, but that, as it is a business which will cause some jealousy, they cannot conclude the business in the Council so quickly as they would wish, but they are sure of being able to manage it, as they have promised me in a note from Suygo which I have sent to the duke of Alba. Although the hopes of the prince of Condé have failed, the arrival and progress of the duke of Deux-Ponts in France have again raised the spirits of the heretics. They exaggerate affairs in Granada and the loss of your Majesty's galleys in Marseilles to such an extent as to make people wonder. On both points I give fitting information to these gentlemen who guard me, in order that it may be spread abroad. They have been much disturbed by the news from Portugal, that all persons and property of Englishmen in that king's dominions have been detained. Some ships in ballast have escaped from there and arrived here. I do not believe that the English will get much profit from their goods in Hamburg. The two smallest of the Queen's ships have remained there and the other five are at Margate, having dismissed the greater part of their crews, although this news from Portugal makes them think of again putting the ships into commission. The two Venetian ships, which are also at Margate, have decided to sail without waiting to take any more cargo, beyond the kerseys they have loaded, and they have received their clearances to-day. They probably will refrain from putting into Spanish ports, to avoid the question as to the ownership of the cloths they carry. It is asserted that many English goods enter Spain by St. Jean de Luz. They are entertaining the queen of Scotland with discussions about her release, and in the meanwhile are aiding the Regent. A ship they were sending to him with stores and 10,000 crowns in money has been lost. I will write to the queen of Scotland as your Majesty orders. Irish affairs are in a greater state of confusion than ever they have been, and this Queen has given many baronies belonging to the rebels to English gentlemen, on condition of their being recovered at their own cost. A company of 30 of the richest of the London merchants has also made an agreement with the Queen that they will conquer a certain part of the country, the lordship of which shall belong to them on payment of a tribute, and they are already preparing an expedition. The whole island (Ireland) is therefore in a turmoil, and the greater part of it in rebellion against the Queen. Thomas Stukeley, an English captain, settled there, who has been dismissed from his post, in which he had charge of all the Queen's horses in Ireland, because he was a Catholic, claims to be in favour of handing over the country to your Majesty or some other Catholic Prince. He and some of the barons intend to send to Spain to ask your Majesty to approve of this design. There is a Venetian there, also, who is in the confidence of Stukeley and the other Catholics ; he has a nephew here, an honest man, who is a fitting person to send whenever it may be needful to negotiate with these Irish gentlemen. His uncle gave him the enclosed document that he might hand it to me. It is translated from the Italian. "Waterford is a large port in the east of the island, capable of receiving the largest ships at any state of the tide, and is therefore suitable for this business. It is 12 English miles distant from the friend's house (fn. 3), and there is an old ruined castle there inhabited by a fisherman, which castle can be taken possession of at once, and when desirable, the other friend could rent it. By cutting a breadth of four paces of land the port may be made into an island with the castle on it. This island will be almost a mile in circumference, and the garrison might be kept there in spite of the English, with facility for leaving when they liked. The friend could immediately bring thither 10,000 men, but it would be needful to supply a large quantity of grain, viz., three or four Flemish sloops such as usually come there in time of peace. This enterprise would be easier in the winter than the summer, because these people (the English) cannot stand the cold so well as ours. The island is full of mines of gold, silver, iron, tin, lead, alum, and glass. It is as fertile as any country ; its inhabitants most warlike, and great enemies of the English. They only await such an opportunity as this as the savages will no doubt be molested ; the 29 merchants and Wareham Selliger having taken the lordship of the savages' country on condition of their conquering it and having promised to pay the Queen 4d. for each fanega of land they till, and 2d. for pasture. In the west, 500 of the Queen's men and another force beyond the mountains, will also molest them and this will greatly enrage the Irish." 14th June 1569.
15 June. 107. Guerau De Spes to the King.
After sealing the enclosed, on the same night, the bishop of Ross came to me with a letter from his mistress, copy of which I enclose. The Bishop told me that the duke of Norfolk and earl of Arundel had always informed him of their desire to serve your Majesty, and that I might be sure that the intention of these noblemen was, in April last, to arrest Cecil and give me complete liberty, restoring all the property stolen and detained belonging to your Majesty's subjects. He said that, on three occasions, when the project was about to be carried out, the earl of Leicester softened and said that he would tell the Queen. This prevented the execution of the intention three distinct times. The days mentioned by the Bishop to me as being those when the arrest was to have been effected were the same as those on which the noblemen told me they would be ready. These delays gave Cecil an opportunity of discovering the plot against him, and he told the duke of Norfolk so, begging him and his friends not to do anything scandalous of this sort, offering to come over to his wishes and those of the rest of the Council. He urged the Duke very strongly that they should all unite to prevent the Spaniards from scoffing at the English, and that religion should not be changed here. He gave him to understand that he had means to settle this business of the detentions, and that he, (Norfolk) and the earl of Arundel could go to Spain on the Queen's behalf to arrange everything with your Majesty, which would be better than treating with the duke of Alba or myself. He said that, if the Duke thought otherwise, he (Cecil) would entirely follow his opinion, and, with all these compliments and fine words, he softened them for the time. The idea of going to Spain also turned out illusory as these noblemen told me with some confusion and reserve ; Cecil himself having subsequently raised difficulties about it, saying that if they went they might be detained in Spain, and so the project fell through. I warned these gentlemen, through Ridolfi and Suygo, not to let Cecil deceive them, and they then again insisted that the time had arrived to return to the grace and friendship of your Majesty. When they intimated to Cecil, on behalf of all the Council, that they desired to enter into some proper arrangement, through Ridolfi, to settle pending questions and release me, he told them that he was trying to discover the intentions of the duke of Alba by means of Cavalcanti, in order to see whether he would give way on certain points which he, Cecil, had in his mind, and he begged them to wait eight or nine days, until he had a reply on this point. He professed to be planning a treaty which should redress all troubles in France, Scotland, and Flanders, and by which religion should remain safe with freedom of conscience for all. He said he thought that to have a private arrangement with your Majesty would not be safe at present, as you could, without appearing in it, by many means and ways, destroy and isolate them. Through his importunity they waited the eight days, Ridolfi and Suygo telling me that the delay arose in consequence of Leicester's hunting parties. By the ordinary courier now arrived, Cecil received no reply from Cavalcanti, and they are all much disturbed. I await the decision. I have given, thus fully, an account of these plans, that your Majesty may be thoroughly informed of the business from the first, and understand that these noblemen communicated their intentions to the queen of Scotland. They brought the bishop of Ross here before the day of the intended arrest (of Cecil) in order that he might be a witness of it. Lord Montague and the earl of Northumberland, as well as other Catholic gentlemen, knew of the matter and came hither in consequence. Since then the duke of Norfolk has lost his stepson, Lord Dacre, a boy of nine years old, son of his late wife, who had as fine an estate on the borders of Scotland as the Duke has in England. The Duke received 1,500 ducats a year for his maintenance, and something else for that of the three little sisters, whom he keeps in his house, and administers the whole estate. By the laws of the country these girls are excluded from the succession, and only receive a certain sum as dowry, the estates passing to the first cousin of the dead child. He is already called Lord Dacre, and is a gentleman of not very good disposition, but clever and brave, and a good Catholic, a brother-in-law of Montague and Northumberland. The duke of Norfolk, on certain grounds, tried to question his rights to the estate, but Cecil and the Council openly favoured him (Dacre), and all this has been an obstacle to the conclusion of the plots afore-mentioned. This Lord Dacre is the man of whom I wrote to your Majesty as having sent a message to me about the marriage of the queen of Scotland with the duke of Norfolk, and the conversion of this country to the Catholic Church. He now says that, whenever your Majesty pleases to send an army to this country, he and his friends will undertake to provide 15,000 selected troops for your service. I have been informed that Cecil has spoken to the Duke about marrying a sister-in-law of his, a widow with 3,000 ducats income, offering him to increase her dowry if the Duke marries her. The Duke would not listen to it, for he has his thoughts very high, having fixed his eyes upon the queen of Scotland. This has not injured her in the negotiations, for the Council now offer to recover her kingdom for her on certain conditions, and the renunciation by her of her claim to the English crown. With this object this Queen has sent to Scotland to request the Regent to send new commissioners to discuss it. The bishop of Ross and myself agree in our opinion that this was another of Cecil's inventions to delay the business. I am always of opinion, as I have said before, that it would be very beneficial to your Majesty's interests and the prompt despatch of these affairs, to reward these gentlemen with a sum of money for their services, and to encourage them to greater things. This can be done little by little. I may remind your Majesty that these people are very fond of money.—London, 15th June 1569.
9-16 June. 108. Extracts from four Letters from Guerau de Spes to the Duke of Alba of 9th, 14th, and 16th of June 1569.
Yesterday and the day before I wrote to his Majesty and your Excellency by way of Calais. Since then Ridolfi came to my house, with a letter of credence from Lord Lumley, and told me that they would take the opportunity of my changing my residence to set me at liberty, and that, on my leaving here, my guards would be removed. He also informed me of the points which Cecil had drawn up to be communicated to me when I am at liberty. They deal with the question of a general restitution, the selection of commissioners for carrying it out, and request that other commissioners should be appointed to conclude the treaty of Bruges. They also request that the King should confirm the treaties anew, give facility for the English to trade with the Indies, and assure the English ambassadors and their households in his dominion of freedom in their religion, with other impertinent trifles, which can be disposed of in a very few words. A good answer can be given to all this in due time. I told Ridolfi that, when I had the entire liberty usually given to his Majesty's ambassadors, I would listen to them, but that now I had nothing to say. If they come to broach the subject again I will at once inform your Excellency of what they say and, my opinion thereon. The gentleman who guards me has gone to Court to-day to learn the decision as to the house to which I am to move. They say they will take this opportunity of releasing me.
20 June. 109. The Duke Of Alba to the King.
By the enclosed letters from Don Guerau, your Majesty will see what is passing in England. I have not yet allowed the merchant I mentioned to go, and I have no news from the other one I sent, except that he had crossed over. I have thought well to send to Don Guerau the 6,000 crowns he requests, to give to those gentlemen with the conditions he mentions. (fn. 4) —Brussels, 20th June 1569.
22 June. 110. Guerau De Spes to the King.
They are going to give me the bishop of Winchester's house in exchange for the one I now occupy. I am to pay for it, but the Bishop raised some difficulties, although the earl of Leicester wrote to him about it. The Council now order it, and I am told that I shall be liberated when I go thither. When I have been able to discuss with the Queen and Council the restitution of the property detained and stolen, I will duly advise your Majesty and the Duke. Ridolfi wrote to me last night that Cecil had sent him an invitation to dine with him and asked him to come and see me. Cecil is anxious to arrange matters with me at all events. I therefore expect him (Ridolfi), and shall entertain them with smooth words to see whether this property cannot be recovered, postponing the redress of other insults and injuries for your Majesty's decision. In the meanwhile, those who have taken property are in a great hurry to get it valued before the lord mayor, who insists on your Majesty's subjects carrying out the valuation jointly with Englishmen. But it is all roguery, for they have put aside everything that was good, and only made a valuation of what is spoilt. I have ordered Spaniards to have nothing to do with it, but to let them refer to the owners of the merchandize.—London, 22nd June 1569.
27 June. 111. Guerau De Spes to the Duke Of Alba.
They have not yet given me my liberty, as they say that they have not yet received any decision from the bishop of Winchester about his house, and these people are so vain that I believe they will not like to release me without finding some plausible excuse for doing so. I let the earl of Leicester know I was ready to vacate this house (fn. 5) whenever he wished, so as not to inconvenience him, and he has just sent a letter to the gentleman who always guards me, whose name is George Speke, to tell me that he will have a house found for me, and that, in the meanwhile, anyone who wishes to see me can do so without any hindrance. He has also told the gentleman to go home, leaving me without any other guard.— London, 27th June 1569.


  • 1. In the King's handwriting : "I think we might ask him for more than this,"
  • 2. In the King's handwriting : "But she has a son who is her heir,"
  • 3. A slight slip of the original transcriber or decipherer makes it appear that Waterford is only 12 miles from London, which gives rise to a marginal note of surprise and enquiry in the King's handwriting.
  • 4. To Norfolk, Arundel, and Lumley.
  • 5. This was Paget House, on the site of Essex street, in the Strand, which had been in the occupation of the Spanish ambassadors since the expulsion of the bishop of Aquila from the Queen's house, Durham place, in 1563, particulars of which will be found in the Calendar of State Papers (Spanish), 1558—1567.