Simancas: April 1568

Pages 17-26

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

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April 1568

3 April. 13. Guzman de Silva to the King.
Everything here is quiet as usual and the Queen well. She goes to Greenwich in four or five days.
The commissioners of religion are still proceeding against certain Catholics, summoning them for interrogation on the subject. This has only been resumed since the rebels in France began their disturbances.
The party in Scotland which had risen against the Regent and his government has increased in number. It is said that they now demand the release of the Queen, and that justice shall be done on certain members of the Government, who, they say, are implicated in the murder of the King. The leader of the party is said to be the archbishop of St. Andrews, who has fortified himself and his friends in St. Andrews.
These folks here are not well pleased with the rising, as they thought themselves quite safe on that side for a time, and, if affairs in France are settled, the French might take a hand in the Scotch business, in which case these people will have look to themselves. The French ambassador tells me, however, that his master will take no part in the matter out of gratitude to this Queen for having refrained from acting against him in his late troubles, but we all know what the French are, and how little trust can be placed in them.
I went out to the country with the Queen this afternoon, and took the opportunity of speaking about the two ships which I wrote had been fitted out to capture the Count de Buren. I pointed out to her that the heretics not only wished to make her suspicious of your Majesty's friendship, but tried to make it appear that she was a party to such a thing as this in order to injure her. She was much surprised that anyone should say such a thing of her, and thanked me for telling her of it. I can hardly believe that the ships were fitted out with such an object, although I had it from many good quarters. On the night of the 27th ultimo there arrived here a servant of the prince of Orange. I was advised of his coming but not of its object, but I was told that three days later he passed a long time with the Queen. She informed me to-day that she heard he was here, and that he had only come to assure her from the Prince that he had never any intention to be undutiful to your Majesty, and that he would never be found guilty of such a fault, which would be unworthy of him. He wished to place himself in some neutral country where he could free himself from the matter, and hinted that he considered the duke of Alba was not to be trusted, although he had no proof of this. I replied that the true facts of the case would be seen in the end, and that most people who have done wrong object to be tried by those who they think will do justice. I said I thought it would be more prudent to avoid interviews of this sort. I do not see any signs of the Archduke's match coming off for the present. On the contrary, I hear that those who oppose it are trying to delay the despatch of the reply to the Emperor. They think this will quite upset it.
A Portuguese ambassador arrived here to-day, having written to me on the road saying that he was coming to lodge at my house until he got a lodging of his own. I went to meet him and brought him home. He comes about preventing the English from going to the Portuguese Indies, and says he is determined to press the matter, and either get them to promise not to go, or he will declare that the Portuguese will prevent them. I fear it will all end in words.—London, 3rd April 1568.
6 April. 14. The King to Guzman de Silva.
(Draft of letter with a note in the King's hand saying "all in cipher.")
On the 19th March I advised you, through Don Francés, that I had received your letter of 25th February. Yours of 16th, 21st, and 28th February arrived on the 1st instant, and, although we are glad of your information, there is little to reply to but to thank you for your diligence and to satisfy you upon the point introduced to you by Cecil and the Queen, namely, the question of the English ambassador here. The object of the complaint to you was, without doubt, to get beforehand with us, and anticipate the complaint I have to make of the conduct of the ambassador. You must know that, as soon as he arrived here, I gave him notice that he would have to conduct himself as his predecessors had done, and must avoid any demonstration which might cause scandal. That he must make no alteration in the old customs which have been followed by English ambassadors here, especially in religious matters, the more especially as in Spain the existence of the Inquisition causes more strictness than elsewhere, and prevents me from making concessions of any sort. The ambassador understood this perfectly well and promised my ministers on several occasions to act as he was requested, instead of which he has failed to do so and has conspicuously and frequently overstepped the bounds. One signal instance occurred shortly afterwards ; he scoffed at one of the processions that were held for the Queen's health when she was ill. When I learnt of this, I sent the duke of Feria to warn him again, and request him to moderate his words and actions so as not to transgress the limits laid down for his conduct which he had promised to respect. He again promised to to do so with many professions and excuses, but as he is so corrupted at heart with these religious errors, he could not restrain himself or stifle the promptings of his bad spirit, and has shown it by such daring and peruicious acts, that I am convinced that it is a planned thing, not done at his own initiative alone, but by order from England. Amongst other things lately at a dinner in the presence of many persons, Spaniards and others, he presumed to say, publicly and shamelessly, that I was the only one who defended the papal sect, but that, in the end, the prince of Condé and his party would prevail, and that the Pope was nothing but a canting little monk ; with other similar expressions for which he would richly deserve the punishment the Inquisitors, who learnt of his rashness, would give him, if it were not for respect of his office as the minister of the queen of England, with whom I am on terms of friendship. I have, however, made up my mind to hold no more intercourse with him, and will not receive him or permit him to live in my capital, but have sent him orders to go to a neighbouring town, with a warning to conduct himself there so as not to cause scandal to anyone, and to avoid in future such rash words and acts as his previous ones. He has acted simply like a perverse dogmatiser, and I have had him told that, if he does not comply with the directions now given to him, I cannot prevent the Inquisitors from doing their duty, and I am not without scruple for having overlooked his actions so far as I have done. Some days ago he received a letter from his mistress for me, and has been pressing for an audience, but I have been delaying and putting him off with the determination of never receiving him again. He has had some communication with Ruy Gomez, and I learn from him that he wants to address me on the point spoken of to you by Cecil and the Queen. This is not a matter that it is fitting I should discuss with him, touching, as it does, our holy catholic faith, and he being offended at this, intends, I am told, to send a secretary to give an account of the matter to the Queen. He will, of course, give his own version of it, and I have therefore decided to send this courier ahead of him, expressly in order that you may, in accordance with the enclosed letter of credence for the Queen, state the matter to her and tell how just and deep is the complaint I have against the ambassador, and that I have decided to hold no more intercourse with him, as he has so rashly and disrespectfully exceeded an ambassador's license, and might more fittingly be called a perturber. He has tried to persuade vassals of mine to the rebellious and new sects which are rife in other dominions, totally contrary to the duties and customs of an ambassador, and, if it were not for the friendship and respect I bear to the Queen, he would deserve anything that might be done to him, as she will learn by the personal relation of a gentleman whom I am sending post to her for the purpose, who will leave in a few days to complain also of the bad and dangerous offices of this man in sowing discord between two souls so united as those of the Queen and myself. Only in consideration of his being her minister have I refrained from dealing with him otherwise than I have said, namely, to refuse further intercourse with him or permit him in my capital, and I therefore beg of her to appoint another person who will conduct himself as previous ambassadors of her's and her father's have done here, men whom I can respect and treat with confidence and kindness, as I have always done all men and matters appertaining to her. Things have arrived at the present pass with this man in despite of me, and I am unable to dissemble or excuse it any longer, and I therefore beg of her to take in good part the request I make, for the reasons which the gentleman I have mentioned will further make known to her, and will satisfy her both of the reasonableness of it and of the utter falsity of the assertion that the ambassador's household was forced to hear mass. No such thing has been done. On the contrary, I am informed that some of the servants having entered a church without showing due and proper respect to the holy sacrament, they were simply told by those who were present either to behave themselves decorously or leave. Nothing but this happened as you will see by the depositions and investigation of this and other excesses, which will be despatched by the gentleman who is coming. These depositions are only for your own guidance and information, and it will be sufficient for you to refer generally in conversation with the Queen to the just cause I have for being offended with this man, so that she may comply with my request and send another who will do his duty as he ought ; in which case I will receive him well, and will do everything in my power to please the Queen and preserve the close and ancient alliance and friendship between us and our respective states. You must dwell very especially upon this, with all the fair words and arguments you can use. It occurs to us to say to you that, when conversations are raised about religion (unless they are directed expressly to persuade or bring to a sense of the right the person with you) they should be avoided by you, but when you cannot avoid hearing such conversations, as for instance with the Queen, you should, at least, excuse yourself from undertaking to write to me upon the subject ; although, of course, it will be well and even necessary to do so for my own information, without the Queen or anyone else knowing it.
With regard to the conversation the Queen had with you about the suspicions and doubts they have aroused in her of a league between myself and other princes to invade her country and forward the Catholic cause there ; since you told her the truth and gave her to understand that the assertion was a groundless one, invented by mean and jealous people for the purpose of alarming her, it will not be necessary for me to write you the special letter you suggest on the subject. It is amply sufficient that you, as my minister, have assured her of the falseness of the rumour, and you can, if you deem necessary, repeat the denial on my behalf.
It is unnecessary, also, to say anything more about what passed in the matter of the Prince between the Queen and you, nor need you descend to any further details of the matter except to thank her in my name (as I do myself in the letter) for her condolence, in the general terms you think fit. You may at the same time thank her for forbidding Hawkins and his companions from going to my Indian territories. Both of these acts have been proofs of our friendship and brotherhood, and I will always reciprocate similarly in matters that concern her.
Scotch affairs seem getting into such a condition, particularly as regards religion, that I cannot help feeling grief at them. You will continue to keep me informed of events there, especially about the Queen's imprisonment and the result of the accusation against her.
This courier will go in a smack, with orders for her to await in port to take him back again, and you will therefore despatch him as soon as possible, with advices to me as to what passes with the Queen, and the decision you arrive at with her about the ambassador. You will also inform the duke of Alba, as you will see how important it is that he should know. You will likewise communicate to me what you hear from him and any news about affairs in Flanders and France, as I wish to hear often from all quarters. As the earl of Sussex has arrived, it will be well, too, for you to let me know whether any result of importance on the marriage question has been attained by his journey. I still believe that it is all artifice to entertain her subjects, as you have very cogently said on various occasions.
With regard to your request that I should remove you from England (although I am very satisfied with you), the reasons you allege are of such weight and importance that I will give to the matter due consideration, having regard to your labours and services, and will advise you as to my decision.—Madrid 6th April, 1568.
10 April. 15. Guzman de Silva to the King.
Things here are quiet as usual and the Queen went to Greenwich on the 6th. As I accompanied her in the country on that day, Lord Robert made me a long speech to the effect that, in your Majesty's interest and for the welfare of your Flanders dominions, it was advisable to adopt some lenient and peaceful course with regard to religion and the punishment of those who have misbehaved themselves in the States. He instanced the course taken in France, and how the King had come out of the affair there. He pointed out how strong the new religion was in Germany and the States, and said that even in some parts of Spain things are not quite so assured as is thought ; nor in Italy either, especially near Rome. He spoke, he said, as a,servant of your Majesty, and he desired your peace and prosperity, although he knew his words would be of little avail as he was a Protestant. I thanked him much for his good will, giving him to understand that he was mistaken about Spain, as also, I thought, about the rest of your Majesty's dominions ; and said that if there had been any backsliding in Flanders, it would be remedied in a way that would scour it out completely, as the duke of Alba had got the matter in hand. Ever since the French disturbances they have been molesting Catholics here in various ways, pressing or relaxing, however, according to the news received from France.
Three of those whom I wrote they had arrested in the duchy of Lancaster for refusing to attend their services have been brought here, and amongst them a gentleman of position called John Southwell (Suduel), who, with the others, after the Council had examined them, was sent to the common jail. On the same day, the 7th instant, they arrested on religious grounds three lawyers of standing, called respectively Dr. More (?), Dr. Mitchel, and Dr. Windham, and they have also taken two ladies, lady Brown and lady Cave (?). It is reported from Berwick that the Queen of Scots wishes to marry a gentleman named Lord Moffat, who is connected with the Stuart family, and the matter has been discussed with great secrecy between the Regent and his closest friends ; the idea being that, as the gentleman belongs to his family and is connected with him by blood and friendship, such a marriage would add to the Regent's strength and satisfy the Queen at the same time, and that if she marries a person of her own lineage and an enemy of the Hamiltons, more liberty might be given her. The Regent will retain power as hitherto, and hopes by this means to reconcile factions, satisfy the Queen, and strengthen himself. He has many enemies and must keep a good look out. He has news from France that Cardinal Lorraine is procuring 1,200 harquebussiers to be placed in Dumbarton. The Portuguese ambassador, whose arrival here on the 3rd I advised, has not yet seen the Queen. He is in no haste and is preparing for the interview. He has communicated to me his business, which is principally to request the Queen to forbid her subjects from interfering with the Portuguese Indies, especially Guinea, although they will consent to the English going to buy blacks at the places where the Portuguese sell them. He is also to ask for restitution of 600,000 ducats that he says English pirates have taken from the subjects of his King. I think he will have quite enough to do to get either of these things granted, but he says he will press very urgently the question of going to the Indies, and he means to put it in such a way that, if they do not grant his request, he will break with the Queen. I do not know what he will do, but I cannot believe this. It appears that he will be satisfied if the English who go thither do not go with the Queen's permission or in her ships, so that if the Portuguese fleet for the defence of the coast meet them, it may punish them as it punishes the French.
A gentleman from the King of France arrived here to-day to give an account to the Queen of the treaty of peace between him and the rebels. He has audience to-morrow.—London, 10th April 1568.
19 April. 16. Guzman de Silva to the King.
The night before last I received your Majesty's letter of 19th ultimo. Thank God your Majesty still enjoyed the health that is so important to Christendom and your servants! It is necessary that this good news should be reiterated on every opportunity to counteract the inventions of the ungodly, who can only produce according to their kind, and nearly every week set afloat a thousand wicked stories. The decree issued by your Majesty promising a good reception and freedom to those who convey bread stuffs to Biscay and Asturias is very wise, and, no doubt, will easily result in the supply of the much needed food for those countries. I understand that from various parts of England bread stuffs are already being sent by persons who have special license, and by gentlemen who do not need licenses from their own ports, and they will doubtless find it to their interests to continue to export. For this reason, and seeing the difficulties that usually are raised here when a general free export is requested, by reason of the wickedness of those who contrive means of putting up prices, which causes discontent amongst the common people and compels the Queen to withdraw the licenses to calm the clamour, I think best to hold my hand for the present and consult people well versed in the matter. A few days delay ,will not prejudice the business, and I shall then be able to address the Queen on the matter if desirable. As an instance of what I say : in 1566 I asked the Queen for the export of breadstuffs for certain ports in Flanders where scarcity existed, and greed then reached such a pitch that her own ministers bought up the supplies, which they sold to the exporters for their own profit. The outcry of the people was so great that, not only was the export prevented, but great prohibitions were decreed ; whereas, if the matter had not been mentioned at all, the food would have been sent somehow, as usual, and as it is even now being sent to Biscay. The Queen is ill in bed with a great excess of bile, which I myself have been troubled with these two years past by reason of the climate. I will have your Majesty's decree made known amongst the merchants here, and their greed may, perhaps, prompt them to send grain as desired.
Secretary Cecil has told me that the King of France's gentleman who came hither is going on to Scotland, whereat, I think, they are not at all pleased, but rather suspicious. If what I wrote in my last about the projected marriage and extended liberty of the Queen of Scots be true, these people will feel it strongly, as they thought themselves quite safe from that side ; but if she is to be married, it would not be altogether amiss for them that she should marry Moffat, as he is on the side of the Stuarts against the Hamiltons and the French.
I have not heard the peace made in France well spoken of here. These people have strange fancies and talk like men who have never left home. Some people wished the rebels to beat the King because of the heresy, and others that the war should continue, whilst they remained on the look-out to seize any advantage that the discord might afford them.
The Earl of Sussex has sent to tell me that about five days ago the Queen had a very long conversation with him respecting the marriage with the Archduke, but only generalities and nothing decided. I think she must be as false in this matter with the Earl as she is with others.
On the 14th I accompanied the Portuguese ambassador to court. He was well attended, and we went up to the presence chamber without anyone having come out to meet him, although the day and hour of his reception were fixed. After we arrived in the antechamber, some courtiers and gentlemen came to speak to me, amongst them the lord-chamberlain. I made them speak to the Ambassador, which they did, but sourly. I got the lord-chamberlain to entertain him until he was summoned, and they remained thus standing for a long while, I being seated as I am ailing. After the ambassador had waited for about an hour he was introduced to the Queen's chamber, where she received him, and, after a few words from him in his King's name, the Queen, with an angry look, complained greatly of the Cardinal, (fn. 1) who, she said, had written her a letter by an ambassador sent by her to the king containing discourteous expressions which were unfit to be addressed to her. She turned to me and said she wished I could see the letter and I should agree with her that it had been written by bishop of Osorio, whose style she recognised from having read certain writings of his about religion, which had been answered by a servant of hers named Dr. Haddon, to whom the Bishop had again replied. The words the Queen mentioned as being in the letter alluded to her as a tyrant. The Ambassador replied that he could not believe it until he saw it, and I said I agreed with him, as a Portuguese was never yet discourteous to a lady ; and the conversation being thus turned into a lighter vein, I asked permission to be seated in consideration of my weakness. Cecil and Leicester presently came up to me and expressed their regret at such a letter being written. Secretary Cecil showed me the letter, and I took it to the ambassador tha he might see what it contained. I think it might well have been expressed in a different way and somewhat more modestly, although the writer had sacrificed some of the grace of his Latin in doing it. I enclose copy of it. Cecil said that the presumption of the Portuguese was insufferable, and made them hated by all nations. Both he and Leicester treated the subject in such a way that I told them that I had no answer to give them, as your Majesty, although you honoured your relatives, was very faithful to your friends, and so the conversation ended. I asked them, for the love I bore them, to treat the ambassador graciously, as courtesy honoured the giver, and presently the Queen called me to her again and the rest of the time passed pleasantly. The Queen having recovered her temper, the ambassador told her she greatly resembled the Infanta Dona Maria. (fn. 2) This ended the first interview, business not having been spoken of. The lord-chamberlain accompanied the ambassador to the door of the presence chamber. The ambassador is a sensible man. He is hurt at their treatment of him, as well he may be, but they are strange people to have to do with. We shall see by their future dealing with the business whether this display has been a feint in order, as they think, to prevent him from carrying his complaints of them with so high a hand, but I do not regard it in that light myself.—London, 19th April 1568.
24 April. 17. Guzman de Silva to the King.
The Queen is at Greenwich in good health, and affairs are all quiet and calm, without thought of trouble, as are also things in Ireland.
The gentleman from the King of France, who came to give an account of the peace with the rebels, has already started for Scotland. They were suspicious of his going, and intimated as much to the ambassador, who had to tell him that if they considered it inconvenient he would send him back. Seeing that they gave him no answer for two or three days he sent to ask audience of the Queen for the purpose of discussing the gentleman's return to France. They then gave him his passport for Scotland. I asked the ambassador if the gentleman would see the Queen herself or deal with the Regent. He answered that, if he could get to speak with the Queen he would negotiate with her, but if not, he would deal with the others. He said he bore private instructions from Cardinal Lorraine, which he had seen, to urge her to endure her troubles with patience, and await until God put your Majesty's affairs in a prosperous state, for he knew that aid could come from no other quarter. I passed this over, pretending that I took no notice of what he was saying, as I think that it is a new move of the French to ingratiate themselves here by raising suspicions of your Majesty.
Hearty thanks have been given to this Queen from their Christian Majestys for her neutrality and expressed sympathy with them during the late disturbances, and the ambassador asked in the names of his sovereigns what she would like them to send her from France, as they wished to make her a present to her taste.
In mine of the 10th I wrote to your Majesty that advices from Berwick of the 1st said that the Queen of Scots wished to marry Lord Moffat, and that her brother the Regent had secretly discussed the matter with his intimate friends. By the same route news now comes that the Queen has told her brother that she wishes to marry, and on his asking her whom she desired to wed she answered the nephew of the gentleman who has her in keeping, a certain George Douglas ; to which the Regent replied that he did not consider him a fit person for her husband, and he thought it would be better if she married Lord Moffat, as he belongs to the house of Stuart, and it was believed the Queen would do this. It is asserted that, on the 14th instant, the Queen exchanged apparel with her laundress, the latter remaining in the Queen's room whilst she left the castle and entered a boat with the intention of escaping from prison. The boatmen requested her to unveil, that they might see who she was, and she, whilst resisting them, uncovered one of her hands, which made them press her the more, until they unveiled her. She showed great spirit, and commanded them, with threats for their lives, to take her across to the opposite shore, where two men and three horses were awaiting her. They refused and took her back, although they promised they would not inform the keeper. The Portuguese ambassador had his second interview with the Queen to-day, when his business was discussed. He asked me to send my secretary with him, which I did, and he was also accompanied by Antonio de Guaras, Juan Baptista de San Vitores, and two other subjects of your Majesty. He was met by order of the Queen some distance outside the palace gates by Henry Cobham (who went to Germany with the earl of Sussex), a brother of his, and another gentleman of the chamber named Kyngesmyll. They led him to the presence chamber, where they entertained him until the lord chamberlain came out and took him to the Queen. As soon as he had entered, Secretary Cecil came out and called Baptista de San Vitores and afterwards Antonio de Guaras, and in the presence of the earl of Bedford said to them, "Since you are helping the Portuguese ambassador, you will inform him that it is the Queen's will that no one should attend mass in his house, except his own servants and dependents, and that, if any other persons do so, they will be severely punished." Antonio de Guaras retorted that surely foreigners might attend, to which the Secretary replied that they could not, and then entered the Queen's room, where the ambassador remained for over an hour. When he took his leave the lord chamberlain accompanied him outside the presence chamber, where he was taken charge of by the same gentlemen that received him, who went with him to the boat. The ambassador sent word to me that he would come and give me an account of what had passed with the Queen.—London, 24th April 1568.


  • 1. Uncle of the young King Dom Sebastian, afterwards King Henry of Portugal.
  • 2. Princess Maria of Portugal, who had married Alexander Farnese, Prince of Parma, in October 1565. See Vol. I.