Simancas: October 1569

Pages 198-206

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

This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. All rights reserved.


October 1569

8 Oct. 147. Guerau de Spes to the King.
On the 30th ultimo I sent Medina, a Spaniard, to the duke of Alba with letters for your Majesty, advising fully that Arundel, Pembroke, and Lumley were detained by the Queen at Windsor. They were judicially interrogated by Cecil and four other commissioners as to who had initiated the plan of marrying the queen of Scotland to the duke o f Norfolk, and they replied jointly that it was the unanimous wish of all the Council. The interrogation was mostly directed to inculpate the queen of Scotland, but they all rightly exonerated her, although the commissioners showed great desire to blame her, and passionate words passed between the prisoners and them. In the meanwhile couriers and protests were being constantly despatched by the Queen to the duke of Norfolk urging him unceasingly to come into her presence. The Duke, either to avoid the first fury falling upon his own head, or with the idea that his friends were not yet ready, or else, as he himself says, to avert the evident peril of the queen of Scotland, who is in the hands of her enemies, or possibly confiding in the great promises made by Leicester, to the effect that if he would pacify the Queen by a show of obedience all his adversaries would promptly be overcome and perhaps the road to his own marriage thrown open, has abandoned, for the present, his attempts at revolt, and returned with a few horse, and the gentlemen who accompanied him, to the house of Thomas Selliger three miles from the Court, where nearly all his servants took leave of him and where he is now detained. He has been interrogated like the others. The prisoners expect to be free shortly, and to take possession of the Court, although Cecil and the Lord Keeper, his brother-in-law, do not agree with the rest and want to send them to the Tower.
The friends of the prisoners, who are the earls of Northumberland, Westmoreland, Cumberland, Derby, and many others, all Catholics, are much grieved at this cowardice, if such it can be called, of the duke of Norfolk, and they have sent Northumberland's servant, who spoke to me before on the matter, to say that they will by armed force release the Queen and take possession of all the north country, restoring the Catholic religion in this country and effecting a general restitution of the goods of your Majesty's subjects within a year. They only ask that, after they have released the Queen, they should be aided by your Majesty with a small number of harquebussiers. To all this I have answered as I did at first, without taking hope away from them, but referring them to the duke of Alba. I feel sure that they will attempt the task, and it will be better carried through by them than by the duke of Norfolk as they are more fit for it, and the queen of Scotland will have more freedom afterwards in the choice of her husband. I advised them to send a person to the duke of Alba, but I do not know whether they will soon have a chance of doing so, or if they will resolve to attempt what they say first, the only danger of which would be that those who have charge of the queen of Scotland might make an attempt against her person. I am advising the duke of Alba of this that he may instruct me about it, as it really seems that great good may come to the cause of God and your Majesty thereby. They have allowed the earl of Shrewsbury to take part in the care of the Queen, whom they have brought back to Tutbury, but by the copy of the letter from the bishop of Ross enclosed, your Majesty will see the calamity and misery in which she now is. They have granted me a passport for this courier ; please God that it may not be to deceive me ! I have no news about the bugler they sent to Gravelines to request the captain there to inform the duke of Alba that the persons who were to be sent hither should not come for the present, nor have my servants heard of him from the Council.
Whilst Cecil governs here no good course can be expected, and the duke of Norfolk says that he wished to get him out of the government and change the guard of the queen of Scotland before taking up arms. It is thought that they will not dare to take the Duke to the Tower, although in this they may be deceived, because they who now rule are all Protestants, and most of them creatures of Cecil. Notwithstanding all this, the fleet for Rochelle is still on the west coast.
Certain German gentlemen have landed in Dover coming from the castle of Chatillon, and have gone to-day to the Court.
I heard yesterday that they have ordered the commissioners to go and sell all the merchandise in the west country, which will be a great evil, and I at once sent a letter about it to Cecil by a servant of mine. I have no answer yet, but I have sent to the duke of Alba asking for instruction, and whether your Majesty's subjects are to be allowed to buy.
In a port in the north called Lynn one of the ships from the flotilla of sloops has arrived, and is selling the plunder taken by all of them. I am informed that amongst it are some silver custodes taken they say from the isle of Texel and another island near.—London, 8th October 1569.
14 Oct. 148. Guerau de Spes to the King.
Having an opportunity by this ship to St. Jean de Luz I have despatched the present letter. They brought the duke of Norfolk to the Tower on the 11th inst. He was very foolish, they think here, to return to Court after having left it against the Queen's will. He never thought to come to his present pass, and upbraids himself for having believed the letters of Leicester and Cecil. The councillors are puzzled to know what to do with Arundel, Pembroke, and Lumley, who did no more than the rest of the Council in approving of the marriage of the queen of Scotland with an Englishman, and subsequently approving of Norfolk himself. They are afraid that if they let them go the disturbance will be all the greater.
They are trying to give the post of Lord Stewart, which Pembroke filled, to the earl of Bedford, as he is such a great heretic.
I heard yesterday that they had arrested Nicholas Throgmorton, late English ambassador in France, a heretic, but such an enemy of Cecil's that on this account he belonged to the queen of Scotland's party.
I do not know what is being done by those in the north. I have avoided encouraging them until I receive the duke of Alba's orders. I also await the arrival of the marquis Chapin Viteli, who is already at Gravelines, but I believe that in consequence of the bugler having been sent from here to the governor of that town to request that the Marquis should not come, and also of events here, the duke of Alba may wish to hear further of the state of feeling before sending him.
Antonio Fogaza, the Portuguese of whom I wrote, goes with certain treaties to Portugal, and they have let him load a ship with cloth under passport from the Queen and Cardinal Chatillon.
These rebel sloops have captured over thirty ships belonging to your Majesty's subjects, mostly loaded with grain.—London, 14th October 1569.
23 Oct. 149. Guerau de Spes to the King.
The marquis Chapin Viteli arrived in this island on the 15th, although captain Leighton who had been sent by the Queen made him leave all his company at Dover He proceeded to Greenwich and I sent some people to Canterbury to conduct him, and had a servant of mine sent to Court to know what was the order to be observed with regard to him. We were told that we could come to Kingston, and there confer as to what was best to be done. The Queen would not allow me to be present at the first audience of the Marquis with her, saying that she first wished to know what your Majesty had written to her about the detention of the merchandise, and as the Marquis and I agreed that it would be best for your service, we thought we would let her have her way in this, so that we might proceed to the more important question of restitution. We also agreed that it would be best to speak to her mildly, smoothing over what she might say against the duke of Alba. Yesterday was the day of the audience, and the Marquis addressed her very prudently, diverting her as much as possible from her complaints against the Duke, and assuring her of the good wishes of your Majesty, and the confidence you had in her, that she would not allow herself to be withdrawn from your old friendship and alliance ; all of which may be seen by your Majesty by the letter in French, which the Marquis sends to the Duke. The decision of the Queen is that she will appoint persons to examine the Marquis' powers, and in the meanwhile, we are not to move from this place, both in order to await her reply, and in consequence of the present unhealthiness of London. We shall soon know whether these people will come to reason. It may well be that the bad news they have from France and the fear of further revolt here may make them do better now than they have hitherto done.
The duke of Norfolk is still in the Tower. The Earls of Arundel and Pembroke, Lord Lumley, and Nicholas Throgmorton, are prisoners at the Court, or near to it, and the queen of Scotland is in the castle of Tutbury, guarded by the earls of Huntingdon and Shrewsbury.
The earl of Northumberland's servant returned last night to assure me that, whenever your Majesty wished, they would release the queen of Scotland, would marry her to your Majesty's liking, and try to restore the Catholic religion in this country. They only want to be favoured by your Majesty. Your Majesty's orders now received shall at once be carried out.—London, (fn. 1) 23rd October 1569.
150. Chapin Viteli to the Duke of Alba.
By my last letters, your Excellency will have learnt of my arrival at and departure from Dover, and what happened between me and captain Leighton, a relative of lord Cobham, who was sent by the Queen to conduct me to Kingston fifteen miles from the Court. Last Monday I arrived at Rochester and at once wrote to Don Guerau de Spes saying that, as in consequence of the plague, I could not go to London to see him, I begged him to kindly meet me at Greenwich the next day, in order to discuss my mission. I found him there next morning and, after we had discussed together my instructions and documents, we decided to meet again at Kingston, and, in the meanwhile, to consider maturely the best course to take, whether to proceed gently or otherwise.
Captain Leighton received letters from the Queen at Greenwich conceding me six of my people, who had stayed behind at Dover, and to Junglo and Secretary Latorre one servant each, the rest of my people being allowed to come to Canterbury with the expectation that, when I had seen the Queen, they might all be allowed to join me.
On the following Wednesday the ambassador met us at Kingston and we came to the conclusion, unanimously, that it would be best to proceed gently. When this had been agree to, the ambassador wrote to Cecil advising him of our arrival and begged him to say when the Queen would grant us audience. On Thursday the man came back with an answer welcoming us warmly from the Queen and saying that she would willingly give us audience on the following Saturday. In the meanwhile, so as to be nearer to her and more comfortable, we could come and lodge at Colebrook, a league from the Court at Windsor, she being very sorry that owing to the smallness of her palace, she could not offer us a lodging at Windsor itself ; but that, on my arrival at Colebrook, she would send me some of her gentlemen to accompany me and conduct me to her, although she did not wish the ambassador to be present at the first interview with her, as she had complained of him to his Majesty for his bad proceedings about the arrests, for which she was sure his Majesty had given her satisfaction in the letters I brought, and when she had seen them, she would decide what should be done in subsequent audiences.
I asked the ambassador's opinion on this and in order not to delay our audience, he agreed that it would be well to do as the Queen wished, and for us to go without him. He accompanied us however to this place, in order to be nearer to us and to be able to consult with us afterwards as to the best way to forward our object We therefore arrived all together the day before yesterday here at Colebrook and the ambassador has made every effort to facilitate our audience. He has also allowed me to be accompanied by nearly all his household.
At two o'clock yesterday afternoon, captain Leighton, accompanied by some of the principal gentlemen of the household, was sent to conduct me to the Court, where we arrived at about 4 o'clock and were received at the entrance by Lord Hunsdon, governor of Berwick, a cousin of the Queen. He led us to the council chamber to unboot and refresh ourselves a little, and he and many other gentlemen then conducted us to the presence chamber, where we found the Queen accompanied by the earls of Leicester, Bedford, the Lord Chamberlain, Clinton, Admiral, the Lord Keeper, the Lord Privy Seal, Lord Strange, Secretary Cecil, and many others. After we had made due salutation to the Queen, I handed her in order his Majesty's letters and that of his Excellency, which she read and expressed her pleasure at receiving them, at least those from the King, although they had arrived later than she could have wished. I excused the delay and stated my errand to her in the best way I was able, in accordance with the course we had agreed upon. When she had heard me, she showed some disappointment that his Majesty had referred the negotiation to your Excellency, and had not signified his wishes in his own letters to her. She then went on to complain of your Excellency, saying that although you were a valiant captain and had prudently governed the Netherlands, as well as your own household, you had, nevertheless, failed in the respect due to her position and dignity, as you had, without provocation, arrested the persons and property of her subjects, and had thus almost brought about a quarrel between princes so friendly and closely united. She added that she cast no blame upon the King, as she was certain it had all been done without his knowledge, and that he was innocent and she trusted him as she would herself. After much of this talk, in which she showed that she took this injury much to heart, she said she was determined not to do as we asked until all the world was informed who had been the origin of these arrests and where the blame really lay. She said, for her part, she had never dreamt of touching his Majesty's money and she had not done so. On the contrary, she had promised to give all help and favour in conveying it to its destination, which she would have done with her own ships, only that the ambassador had requested her to retain it in order to prevent it from falling into the hands of the French pirates. She, however, had been informed that the money did not belong to the King but to certain Genoese merchants which statement she wished to verify, and for this reason alone had she deferred its departure for three or four days, and for no other reason, as she did not want the money.
To this and all her other objections we replied modestly, as instructed, especially as regards the complaints of your Excellency. I tried my best, by many arguments and persuasions, to banish from her mind all sinister impressions on this head.
Finally, after some little irritation on both sides ; seeing that the Queen was somewhat getting over her anger, we ceased to retort, in order not to incense her again, and she then brought the audience to a close by saying that she would send some commissioners to us to learn what powers we had from his Majesty to negotiate for the restitution which we requested. We then took our leave. I have thought well to send this account at once, in order that your Excellency may see the exact state of our negotiations to date. I will duly send accounts of all that may happen.— Colebrook, 23rd October 1569.
24 Oct. 151. Antonio de Guaras to —. (fn. 2)
As you will learn, the letters were detained and afterwards recovered. I received mine dated the 1st, and I will endeavour to deserve by my zeal the favour done to me in ordering me to write. It is said the duke (of Norfolk) is so closely guarded that he is not allowed to leave the one room in which he is, and that he is only served by a single page in the Tower. His relatives and friends are greatly scandalised. It is believed for certain that they will take Lord Lumley to the Tower, and they have moved the earl of Arundel to another house, where he is guarded by a gentleman. Pembroke is in no more liberty than before. They have examined the queen of Scotland's ambassador, the bishop of Ross, on several points of this business, and particularly as regards certain sums of money, but he is free. They have also examined Ridolfi, although I have not been able to discover upon what points. He is still a prisoner, but I hope will soon be released. Luis de Paz and Cristobal de Amonte were at once released on bail. They have not yet been examined. There are ten or twelve rooms in the Tower prepared for prisoners, although who the prisoners are to be is not yet known. It was said lately that they would be persons of great position, but it has since been rumoured that for the present they will not be arrested. Some of the Duke's friends and his secretary are detained in the Court, and another of his secretaries has fled. Throgmorton, who was ambassador in France, is also detained. He is a great friend of the earl of Leicester, and although for several reasons Leicester is no friend of the Duke's, he has been in his favour in the matter of the marriage with the queen of Scots, and he is suspected on this account by the rest of those who govern. The total number of councillors who govern is sixteen. The Duke, the Lord Treasurer, the earl of Pembroke, the earl of Arundel, and the Lord Chamberlain, uncle of the Duke, five of them, do not agree in religion or other things with the remaining eleven, who are the archbishop of Canterbury, the Lord Chancellor, the marquis of Northampton, the earl of Leicester, the earl of Bedford, the earl of Sussex, the Admiral, Secretary Cecil, sir Walter Mildmay, sir Ralph Sadler, and Vice-Chamberlain Knollys, who all oppose the others, especially on sectarian points. Some months ago the Duke transferred all his estates to his son the earl of Surrey, which has made him all the more suspected, particularly as the Master of the Rolls, who is a person of great account here, advised him how he might do it in accordance with the law. The Master of the Rolls himself may be said to be under arrest, and he is being examined on the subject. It is certain that they are coining money from our treasure in the Tower lately. Four commissioners left here this week, it is said, to sell what is left of our merchandise detained here, for all the rest is stolen and sold before now. Fifty ships are being prepared to go to Rochelle for wine and salt, and will take, it is believed, artillery and stores thither and some money with three of the Queen's armed ships. The jewels sent the other day by the mother of Vendome, whom they call the queen of Navarre, were pledged for some 60,000 crowns although they say they are worth 120,000. It is said that the queen of Scotland is in good health God be thanked, and that all the armed men who were recently put to guard her have been taken away, although she is not allowed to leave her one room, and is still in the hands of the earls of Shrewsbury and Huntingdon. A person has come from Hamburg with letters for the English, and relates that since the flotilla arrived they have not been able to sell anything and had no hopes of doing so all the winter. They are all much dissatisfied with trading there, recollecting their former business in Flanders. Twenty German gentlemen have arrived here from the army in France, and went to Court to offer their services. They went away without arranging anything, and people at Court are now downcast. They say the news from France is disappointing to them. The Queen is tired of these changes, and the people so wonderstruck at them that no tranquillity can be expected, although it is presumed that matters will be dissembled during the winter. The summer is usually the time when these people are disturbed. Lately they have begun to equip 14 of the Queen's great ships, and it is said they will complete the armament of them unless circumstances should render it unnecessary. In the audience granted to the Marquis, the Queen expressed her dissatisfaction at the action of her ministers, to cover over her own share of faults in the business. It is quite probable that the good news from France will make them change their proceedings. The Queen said that the merchandise should not be sold. She would not allow the ambassador to be present, although since then the gentlemen who came over with the Marquis have been allowed to come to Court.
This letter is very badly arranged, but I trust it will be excused and taken in good part.
Postscript—The letter that accompanied your worship's letter is dated the 1st. My desire is to serve well, but the danger causes me to write in this confused manner. Pray excuse it as the object is only to acknowledge receipt of the letters and cover the memorial for his Excellency.—London, 24th October 1569.
31 Oct. 152. Guerau de Spes to the King.
Since my last letter the Marquis was given to understand that, before anything was done, Cecil wished to see the power he brought, in order to try to find some flaw in it or to allege its insufficiency, his intention being to delay matters in order that they might carry out their designs. On the 26th the Marquis went to see the Queen, when she gave him the reply which your Majesty will see by the enclosed letter in French. The Marquis met the Queen's representatives yesterday at a house near here, but they could come to no agreement and refused to allow me to be present, saying that the Queen was not yet reconciled with me, and moreover that the substitution of the duke of Alba's power was only in favour of the Marquis. They would not allow either Dr. Junglo nor Secretary Torre to take any part in the business, but made them sit apart from the Marquis. The decision arrived at was not to proceed to the question of the restitution until they brought under consideration all questions left open at Bruges and others of subsequent date. The Marquis insisted that a reply should be given to the point he had submitted to the Queen, but, as they refused him, he will take steps to get another audience. In the meanwhile I send this report to your Majesty and the Duke, in order that instructions may be sent. I am not sure that the councillors of this Queen are coming to reason even yet, although the king of France has gained so great a victory. (fn. 3) Those who usually oppose Cecil in the Council are prisoners, whilst he is free, and can, with the help of his brother in-law, the Lord Keeper, do absolutely as he pleases. They have reason to fear, but they do not understand it, or else they desire to delay this settlement with the idea that they can always come to terms by making some sort of restitution. All else is without change.—Colebrook, 31st October 1569.
153. The Duke of Alba to the King.
When Chapin arrived at Calais they received information that Cobham, who is in charge at Dover, had written to the Governors of Gravelines and Dunkirk saying, that if any gentleman of these States was embarking there he was to be told that he (Cobham) had orders from his Queen that no one was to pass. I at once sent word to Chapin to stay his departure, and send over to Cobham to ask whether the Queen had revoked her safe conduct, and if the answer was yes, that he was to remain quiet and ascertain from Don Guerau the cause of the revocation. Whilst this was going on, Cobham sent over to Chapin saying that he could come and he would be welcome. He at once advised me and I told him to go. I have now just received news of his arrival at Court and of his audience with the Queen, as your Majesty will see by his letter and those of Antonio de Guaras enclosed. By one of these your Majesty will learn in detail what took place at the beginning of the arrests. Thomas Fiesco was informed by the Genoese, Benedict Spinola, by means of whom, by my orders, he was trying to gain Leicester and Cecil, that they had promoted Chapin's coming, and that he found them ready to forward the negotiation in consideration of a present. I have resolved to order Thomas to gratify them and give them a handsome present, on account of the interested parties, in order to get them (Leicester and Cecil) to consent to the restoration of what is left of the property seized, and that some earnest may be given on account of the rest. He will also try to get the English whose goods are seized here to pay some of these expenses, without their knowing that it is done with my cognizance. Thus the matters remain and every effort will be made to settle the differences.—Brussels, 31st October 1569.


  • 1. Note in the King's handwriting : "This cannot be from London, but from the place whence Chapin writes to the Duke" (i.e., Colebrook).
  • 2. This letter was probably written to Albornoz, Secretary of the duke of Alba.
  • 3. The battle of Moncontour, 3rd October 1569.