Simancas: November 1569

Pages 206-213

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

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November 1569

4 Nov.
154. The Bishop of Ross to the King.
I doubt not your Majesty will have received from Don Guerau de Spes the letters dated 13th September written by the queen of Scotland, my mistress, in humble gratitude for your sympathy for her affairs. The jealousy against my mistress conceived by the queen of England, in consequence of the attachment to her of many English nobles and a great part of the people, has caused her to be transported from the castle of Wingfield, where she passed all last summer, to a strong castle called Tutbury, where she is not treated as a free princess, but simply as a prisoner, and kept so straitly and with so strong a guard that she can neither write nor send any of her gentlemen to your Majesty, as she wished to do. Since my mistress has been at Tutbury she wrote me an open letter enclosed in one for the queen of England, in which I am ordered to ask in all humility her good sister the Queen for aid and support in her release and restoration to her Crown and authority in Scoltand ; which the accursed rebels in their godless ambition have usurped, or else that she shall be allowed to go over to her good brother, the king of France, or to your Majesty's Flemish dominions with the Queen's permission, there to remain until God shall dispose of her. If this were not granted I was to appeal to all the Catholic princes, her friends and allies, for help and succour, and especially to your Majesty and the christian King, who she doubts not will come to her aid. Notwithstanding all my prayers and entreaties to the queen of England for help, I have not been able to obtain even a reply, but have been put off from day to day, so that it is evident no help may be hoped for from her, and I therefore humbly beg your Majesty to cast your eyes mercifully on this noble princess, sovereign of Scotland and my mistress, who for so many years has suffered such constant persecutions for the sake of the Catholic faith, in which she was born and bred, and which she will hold through life in spite of all tribulation and persecution which may befall her, from which resolve no mundane honours shall move her. She hopes for your aid, countenance, and support, which I supplicate that you will not refuse her, and with the help of God she will soon be free and out of this trouble.—London, 4th November 1569.
8 Nov. 155. Guerau de Spes to the King.
The courier that the Marquis Chapin Viteli and I despatched on the 31st ultimo was stopped at Dover, and three of the packets of letters he carried were taken away from him. He was allowed to embark with one packet only, and the other ones therefore go by the present bearer. I came from Colebrook to my house in order to send off, secretly, a gentleman who had to go to the duke of of Alba, taking ship from a Northern port, and also in secret to see the bishop of Ross. I left the Marquis at Colebrook troubled with the gout, after which, he being somewhat better, he went to learn the Queen's answer, intending to come thence, to London. The answer was, as the Marquis writes to me, different from what he expected. It was to the effect that the substitution of power in the Marquis's favour was insufficient for the general negotiation which these English desire, but that it covered the point of the restitution of what had been stolen and detained. They have therefore taken another day to consider, and I will go at once to Colebrook the better to learn what is passing. I see that these Englishmen have no good intention, and that they have not been so alarmed as they ought to have been, at the result of French affairs. Such is the ignorance caused by this heresy which they have so deeply implanted in their hearts. They have just sent John Killigrew to Germany again, and three vessels left the river two days ago, equipped by Flemish and French Protestants against the Catholics. It appears that they wish to detain the Venetian ships and are making plans to fortify Margate and the banks of the river. As those who are now in the Council are all of one way of thinking there is no one to oppose them in anything.
The duke of Norfolk is in the Tower but the earl of Pembroke is allowed to remain in his house, near here, but only permitted to communicate with his servants. Arundel is in the College near Windsor under guard, and the rest of them are similarly disposed of.
The Queen has ordered the earl of Northumberland and others from the north country to come to Court, they however, have no intention of doing so, as they are suspicious that they might be detained like the rest. They say they will release the queen of Scotland and take possession of this country if your Majesty only will favour them. They are sending a person to the duke of Alba about it, and I have given him a short letter in cipher. I think this will be the safest way, but your Majesty will decide for the best.
The discourse of what has passed in the queen of Scotland's affairs, which has been given to me by the bishop of Ross, is enclosed. (fn. 1) The Queen is now very closely kept, and desires to send a servant of hers to the Duke in order that he may be present when the gentlemen sent by the Catholic Lords, arrives there, but she has no means of writing, excepting with great delay and in cipher. She will do all she can to assure your Majesty that, both with regard to her marriage and all else, she will follow your withes.—London, 8th November 1569.
13 Nov. 156. Secretary Albornoz to Guerau de Spes.
Very illustrious sir. I have received to-day two letters from you for which I thank you. You are right in having the confidence you express in my great desire to serve you, and I can assure you of the esteem and goodwill of the Duke towards you. I will at once endeavour to do as you request. What I now have to urge upon you is that you should dissemble on all those points which seem to touch your dignity, for, even though it should be touched, it will certainly not be with any desire to offend you, but in the interests of the business itself. The most important point is that you should be convinced that there is no desire to do anything to your prejudice, which really would be an attack upon your dignity. Matters being as they are, you must firmly insist upon smoothing them over. I beg you will take what I say in good part, as I am only moved by my desire to serve you.
If anything untoward were to happen at this juncture it would be attributed to you, and as your servant I again supplicate you to put up with things, according to the times.—Brussels, 13th November 1569.
18 Nov. 157. The King to Guerau de Spes.
I have received many letters from you by land and sea, the last, being dated 26th September, arriving here on the 5th instant. I thank you for the diligence you show in reporting to me all that happens there, but I have nothing particular to say until I know what arrangements have been effected by Chapin Viteli and Junglo with the Queen respecting the restitution of money and property detained. As she gave the passport for them so willingly, it seems that there may be some hope that she will have been brought to do what is right, that being the course which at present will suit us ; but if she still desires to stray from it as she has hitherto done, I shall have to consider for my part what steps should be taken. You will in any case follow the orders that the duke of Alba will send you in my name from time to time.
If the marriage of the duke of Norfolk with the queen of Scotland is effected in the way, and with the objects of which you are informed there is no doubt that it would be of great moment and importance for the restoration of our true and ancient religion in England, and would console the good Catholics who are at present so oppressed. I desire these objects very warmly as you know, but they must be very careful how they undertake the business, for if they make a mistake they will all be ruined. You did very well in referring them to the duke of Alba, who will know how to advise them for the best. You will also confine yourself to this, according to your orders, which you will not exceed.
If the matter which John Killigrew is planning in Germany for the Queen is a question of alliances, I feel sure you will have taken measures to find out the whole particulars, and will advise me. I hope so, because it is a matter which may very deeply concern my interests and those of my dominions, both spiritually and temporally.
I also desire to have full information with regard to the state of things in Ireland, and what forces the Catholics of the country have against the heretic English. I also wish to know if they would be parties to expelling them, and what leaders the Catholics have who could be made much of. Make every effort to investigate this thoroughly, and report to me by first opportunity.—Madrid, 18th November 1569.
158. The King to the Duke of Alba.
Your choice of Chapin Viteli and Junglo to go and treat with the queen of England about the restitution is a good one, and it was well to send also Thomas Fiesco to gain over the earl of Leicester and Cecil, as these two are doubtless the principal leaders of the dance. I have only to say that I am most anxious for the success of the negotiation, as the matter is holding in suspense all the trade between Spain and the Netherlands, to the great loss of my revenue and grave damage to my subjects. It is most important that the matter should be speedily settled. If it be not done in that way it is most necessary that measures should be taken that flotillas should come and go in safety, in accordance with the note I sent yon before. Until this is done the 3O or 40 ships that the merchants of Antwerp told you they would send will be very useful, and it was well to give them the license the requested when you were there, although, of course, the proper and best way will be to settle with England both for the present and the future.
Don Guerau has written me some letters vid France and by sea, but I cannot give him precise orders from here, and as you have the whole matter in hand, you will give him instructions from time to time as to what he is to do. As you will see by my letter to him, I merely tell him to carry out your orders as if they were mine.
He has given me a very long account of the plots there to marry the duke of Norfolk with the queen of Scotland, and, if what he says be true, that it would have the effect of raising the Catholics and restoring our ancient and true religion, it will be of great moment. In any case the 10,000 crowns you sent to the queen of Scotland were well spent, and any other favour you can fittingly send her from there also will be very appropriate in comforting and consoling that poor princess, who so firmly and sincerely expresses her wish to live and die in the Catholic faith. (fn. 2)
The other day the archbishop of Cashel in Ireland came here with a letter from the earl of Desmond, written to me in his own name and that of other principal Catholics there. Two other messengers came afterwards to him, and the substance of their demand is that I shall help them to expel the heretic English who wish to force their new religion upon them, and they offer to accept as leader any person I may name ; in short, that they will recognize me as sovereign. Although, on religious grounds, I should like openly to embrace the business and help these good men effectually, the noise the thing would create, and the jealousy it would arouse in France, as well as the obstacle it would present to the carrying through of the present negotiations with the Queen, has made me decide to entertain this Archbishop here with fair words and money for his expenses, until I see the outcome of the negotiations. If she (the Queen) acts as she should do about the restitution, and will return to our old friendship and alliance, it is evident that it will not be desirable for me to help the Irish against her, but I might intercede for them to prevail upon her to treat them well and let them live in the liberty they have hitherto enjoyed to practice the tenets of the holy Catholic faith. I will try by these means to send the Archbishop back as well satisfied as possible. If, however, the Queen should be shameless enough to force us to break with her, I think it would be well to seize Ireland, as they are constantly begging me to do, and it could be done easily with troops sent from Spain. If once she saw me in possession of that island it would give her something to think about. I wish you to consider this well, and if a settlement with the Queen is not arrived at you will send me your opinion to help me in my decision.—Midrid, 18th November 1569.
20 Nov. 159. Guerau de Spes to the King.
The Queen has given her decision to the Marquis Chapin Viteli, as your Majesty will see at length by the letter in French written by him to the Duke. Although she says that she will send her ambassador to your Majesty in two days, it is not believed that she will do so, so soon. It is understood that her object is to complain of the Duke and of myself, and to await the answers from Spain, in which much time will be consumed, and, in the meanwhile, she can declare her will with regard to the money, which she insists upon treating as the property of merchants. The money is now being coined, and more than half of it, as the people in the Tower themselves say, has been spent. The Queen herself told the Marquis that she wished the merchandise to be sold, and dismissed him after the audience of the 17th, although he asked for time to advise the duke of Alba, as he does by this post.
These heretics in the Council are corrupting the Queen's mind ; and as all of them, without exception, have stolen vast sums and will rather risk any uncertain danger than restore their booty, which they have already converted into flesh and blood, I am sure that softness and mildness are thrown away upon them, and will result in nothing. It makes them, on the contrary, more boastful than ever. They think that the affair of the Moriscos is a much greater matter than it is, and no doubt they have some hopes from the Germans, although nothing will be done in that quarter without plenty of money. I have advised your Majesty that John Killigrew had been sent back, but he has stayed here for some days seeking credits from Easterlings and others. He will now leave in three or four days unless they detain him in consequence of this new rising in the north. The earls of Northumberland, Westmoreland, and Cumberland, with 5,000 men and 400 horses entered the city of Durham, where, after having pulled down the wooden table used by the heretics in the cathedral, they had mass performed with great ceremony, and now intend to go to York with a similar object. The earl of Sussex, the Queen's governor in that province, has been a friend and follower of the duke of Norfolk, but, as he is a Protestant, they had their doubts of him. I will advise your Majesty of what may happen, but I am afraid the ports will soon be closed.
I have on several occasions written to your Majesty as to the goodwill of these noblemen, and I gave a letter in cipher to a gentleman whom they were sending to the duke of Alba to ask for aid. They would be very glad to have a reply to their requests, as communication will soon be stopped, but I am sure the Duke will consider the matter with his accustomed prudence, and will decide for the best. It is certain that there never has been so good an opportunity, either of punishing those who have so gravely and Unreasonably opposed your Majesty's interests, or of restoring the Catholic religion, in which consists the maintenance of our old alliance and friendship with this country. Your Majesty will please instruct me what I should do if the kingdom should be plunged into civil war, and, as it is in your service, I will not flinch from incurring dangers as great, or greater, than the past. In the meanwhile, I will follow the orders of the duke of Alba as your Majesty commands.
They have relieved the earl of Huntingdon from guarding the queen of Scotland, which is a great thing gained. The letter enclosed for your Majesty was given to me by the bishop of Ross, but I dared not finish the superscripture. There is a gentleman here from the queen of Scotland making ready to go to the duke of Alba as soon as he hears that the other man, who is being sent from those in the north, has left. Now that Huntingdon has been relieved from his guard, the earl of Shrewsbury is not so rigorous, and there is a better chance of releasing the Queen, and even of much greater things being done. It is advisable that whatever is undertaken should be with your Majesty's consent and favour, especially the raising of the queen of Scotland, upon which the tranquillity of these parts entirely depends. All the Catholics seem determined to serve your Majesty, and the earl of Northumberland says that the queen will not fail to follow your Majesty's wishes with regard to her marriage, the Queen herself, by her letters and the statements of the bishop of Ross, says the same. Your Majesty will see what is most desirable for your service, zeal for which alone moves me to write this whilst I see such marvellous facility. I will go through any danger to serve your Majesty in this without thinking of myself, so long as I live.
Sores, a French pirate, captured a week ago four valuable sloops belonging to your Majesty's subjects on their way to Spain. He hails from and resides usually at Portsmouth, and took his booty into that port for sale.
Winter and Cook (?) are equipping five very fine ships in this river. It is said they are to go to the Indies. They will join three more which are being fitted out in the north, and will all sail next month.
The Easterlings have letters saying that the new king of Sweden has restored the Catholic religion in his country, which will be very good news if true.
The cause of the hurried rising in the north was the enclosed proclamation of the Queen, and also because all the Catholics were forced to go to their (Protestant) services.
Most of the pensioners left the palace to-night, and it is believed that they are going to join the revolted Catholics. The duke of Norfolk is guarded closely. The earl of Pembroke has given a thousand pounds to a favourite of the Queen, and left his two sons as hostages, and has therefore been set at liberty. He is now at his house, on the road to Wales, but Arundel and Lumley are guarded as before.
We have agreed that the Marquis Chapin Viteli shall come here, and he writes to say that we shall be safer together.
The sloops captured by captain Sores and other French and English pirates are four, loaded with grain. The pirates carry thirteen sail, and when they unite with M. de Dupin, they will have a fleet strong enough for greater things.—London, 20th November 1569.


  • 1. Original note, "It is very long, in French and badly written. It is being translated."
  • 2. The King was apparently dissatisfied with this paragraph in the draft and wrote the following in the margin against it:—"If what Don Guerau writes about the marriage of the duke of Norfolk and the queen of Scotland has any serious foundation, it would be very appropriate and for them to have the kingdom, as I believe this would mean the re-establishment of religion and the overthrow of the Queen. It will also prevent a marriage in France, as they would not then be able to make the offer. It would be necessary, however, to make sure about religion with Norfolk. You will do your best to promote it with this object." At the bottom of this paragraph there is a note from the King to Secretary Zayas, telling him that the above is, in substance, what be wishes to say, but that it is to be put into better form.