Simancas: March 1570

Pages 237-242

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

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March 1570

11 March. 182. Guerau De Spes to the King.
By my previous letters I have given information of events here, and the present is being taken by Pedro Spinelli, with the letters from the queen of Scotland and the bishop of Ross, respecting the means which have been devised here for her release, so that the Duke may, at his discretion, choose that which will be best for your Majesty's service. The Queen wants the earl of Sussex to enter Scotland with the troops which are now being raised, but he finds good excuses for not doing so, and the gathering of his forces and the equipment of the fleet go on but slowly. I think they are probably waiting to see whether the French go to Scotland, as report says they will. The ships which Vandenberg saved from the wreck are seven, five large and two small, and they are now in the Downs and at Sandwich in very bad case. The other ships belonging to Sores have plundered a very valuable Dutch sloop, loaded with woad, and a small fruit ship. A few days before, they took a sloop with a cargo belonging to Germans. They would not let the crew go ashore, and it is believed they were' thrown over board in the hope that the robbery would thus not be heard of. An English ship has come from Cadiz which was ransomed by Frenchmen for her owners. She is loaded with fruit, and left there on the 5th ultimo. The contributions for the prince of Orange are now being collected here, although most of the exiles either absent themselves or appeal to the Court, saying that there is no news yet that the Prince is raising troops, and that their subscriptions will be useless. But, at all events, Cardinal Chatillon will get as much as he can out of them.
I send enclosed two little books which are being scattered here, one being against the Catholic faith, and the other against the queen of Scotland, which I understand has been answered in another book by the French. I believe it all comes from Cecil. Lord Lumley sends to say that if the English in Scotland can re-form the army they had and push on, friends will not be lacking here.— London, 11th March 1570.
20 March. 183. Guerau De Spes to the King.
In my previous letters I have informed your Majesty of what had happened here since the death of the regent of Scotland, and this Queen is now persevering in her attempts to keep the government of that country in her hands. Besides the money she has provided, she is mustering 4,000 foot and 1,200 horse, which are to be in York on the 1st proximo. The earl of Sussex left Court for that place on the 16th by post, on the understanding that they will send him a thousand foot within a week. They gave him 20,000l., and promised him as much more for the entry into Scotland, for which purpose he will require to raise there 5,000 more infantry, so that, altogether, he will have 10,000 foot and 3,000 horse.
The earl of Westmoreland and others recently crossed the border and came 30 miles into England, burning nearly 40 villages, and after stealing great quantities of cattle, returned to Scotland.
The government of Scotland is still in the same discord ; the party opposed to the Queen having selected eight persons with the title of councillors, in order to govern through them the part of the country obedient to them, and thus to keep them more securely in hand. This Queen promises to divide 1,500l. a year amongst them. She has also made a present to the Earl, (fn. 1) who has possession of the prince of Scotland, as it was thought that he was likely to go over to the other side, that party being powerful round Dumbarton and the western provinces.
My acquaintance, the secretary, has been to the Tower to witness the taking out of the money which had to be given to the Earl of Sussex. He assures me that the whole of the treasure which still remains in the Queen's hands does not exceed 16,000l. He says that they have already taken more than a third of the money they have seized, and their only resource now will be to borrow.
In consequence of this shortness of money and the news that there are no facilities in France for the succour of Scotland, they are delaying the equipment of the fleet, especially now that they think the corsairs could provide them with a considerable number of vessels.
Vandenberg returned to his ships in order to continue his business, which he does by robbing everybody, and afterwards, investigations are made before the Cardinal as to who are Catholics and who are not.
It is said that the other captain, Sores, went in pursuit of the Venetian vessel and a sloop, and it is not known whether he captured them, although heavy firing was heard in Portsmouth, and it is feared that he will have done so.
The negotiations here about the earl of Lennox have been quite forgotten.
The queen of Scotland received the letter from his Holiness, copy of which I enclose, as also copy of the letter she writes to me. (fn. 2) She remains always with the same intentions as before.
The bishop of Ross was summoned to Court, and the burden of all the interrogations was whether his mistress had a cipher and any dealings with your Majesty or the duke of Alba, and to impress upon him that little advantage could be gained by foreign aid, as they could act with such rapidity here. In this way, more by threats than questions, they sent him back to London, promising that they would consider shortly the question of his release.
They have conferences every day with the Cardinal, and the Queen went yesterday to visit his wife at Ham. It is thought here that no agreement will be effected in France. The ambassador went yesterday to Court to give explanations and excuses to this Queen from his master about the little book published in France about the risings here and their objects, and at the same time he complained of the books published here, copies of which I have sent to your Majesty.
They are negotiating, by means of commissioners appointed by the Council, with Antonio Fogaza respecting the abolition of the marques, so far as Portugal is concerned, and the restoration of trade with that country.
A Portuguese vessel loaded with salt and sugar has arrived here from Vigo under a safe conduct. In her comes Bartolomé Baycn, a Portuguese pilot, who was arrested in Porto Rico, and taken to Seville, where he escaped from prison two months ago. He has been received by the English merchants with great rejoicing, and I believe that, trusting in him, they will again fit out ships for the Indies, although he says he wishes to serve your Majesty. I will keep an eye on what he does.
The earl of Pembroke is dead, and leaves the property, of which I enclose a note, (fn. 3) and two sons, of whom I hear the younger is a Catholic, and the elder doubtful.
It is thought here that if the Queen do not assure the post of Lord Steward to the earl of Sussex, which it is not expected she will do, he will be lukewarm about the war and will return to his old friends, the outlaws, which would end the war on the spot.
The countess of Westmoreland is here for the purpose of begging for a maintenance. She is the sister of the duke of Norfolk.— London, 20th March 1570.
25 March. 184. The King to Guerau De Spes.
Your various letters, sent direct to me and through the duke of Alba, have informed me of the state of things in England and Scotland. It was well to give me detailed reports, although I am deeply grieved to learn that the Catholics in the north have failed in their honourable enterprise, which I have no doubt, if it had been carried forward, would have had most important results in redressing religious evils. As regards what you should do in these matters, I cannot give you more precise instructions than those which I have already given, namely, to refer you in all things to the duke of Alba, and order you to proceed entirely by his advice and instruction. You will also act in the same way with regard to the negotiations with the Queen about the restitution of the property detained, and the release of the persons and vessels of my subjects, as also respecting the freedom of navigation and restoration of trade on both sides. New powers and letters are sent to the Duke on these subjects, and he will inform you as to what you should do. You will continue to report to me by every possible opportunity what results are attained, and all that happens both in England and in Ireland, as I wish to be thoroughly well posted in it.—San Geronimo, near Cordoba, 25th March 1570.
27 March. 185. Guerau De Spes to the King.
I write the present letter through Don Francés de Alava, to be taken by Pesaro, who goes to Rochelle with letters from the Queen to investigate about the two Venetian vessels which have gone thither.
On Holy Thursday they brought out from the Tower 12 fieldpieces and 19 wagons of stores, which went towards the North, whither also is going the cavalry, which has been got together with great trouble, accompanied by a captain of pioneers. The Admiral has gone to Lincoln in order to be near, if anything should befall the earl of Sussex.
The letters from Lord Privy Seal are being delivered through the country requesting loans of money. This is a great annoyance to the people, and truly, if this heavy expense continues, the Queen will become very poor, and her subjects also.
The fear of some trouble here has caused the Queen to send for the earl of Arundel to Hampton Court, when, with many excuses and bland words, she told him that she would restore to him his liberty, and hoped to make use of his services, leaving subsequent discussion for this week. The Earl has sent me word that he will not be tricked, and he believes that, as they are growing more alarmed, they wish to find some means of making sure of the duke of Norfolk, and release him, because both in Norfolk and in Suffolk the people are much incensed and disturbed, and if the Northern people could join them in force, they would all rise together.
Letters have been received from the commissioners in Antwerp, saying with what kindness they have been treated in those parts, and how ruined they consider the country to be, and how great is the need in it of trade with England. People here are anxious to know what they have been able to arrange with the Duke.
In the meanwhile, they are very busy with Antonio Fogaza and other Portuguese, trying to mutually balance the seizures of property, and the Controller and Knollys have been appointed commissioners to settle the business. They are very anxious, at all events, to re-open trade with Portugal, if they cannot settle with your Majesty's dominions. I will do what I can to hinder a settlement by the means of the Controller, (fn. 4) who is my friend, or in any case, to delay it until I have the Duke's instructions or your Majesty's orders. They would be able if it were settled to get what Spanish goods they wanted and send through Portugal thither what was profitable to them.
Although the coming of Bartolomé Bayon made them think of fitting out ships for India, there have been no signs of their doing so, excepting that Hawkins has been buying much rice and other things, which might be stores for such a voyage.
Great suspicions are entertained here of the peace in France, especially now that the Queen has received a letter from there saying that the duke of Anjou privately told the envoys of Admiral Chatillon to have no misgivings about the securities promised to them, which would be faithfully fulfilled, and that they would all join together to go to England and release this captive princess. The French ambassador here is now smoothing this over.
The French Court awaits Chatillon's reply by Biron, La Chapelle, and another man who was sent subsequently ; and this Queen, who would not promise the French ambassador here to be neutral in case Chatillon refused to accept the terms granted by the King, wanted to intervene in the agreement, either the better to hinder it, or else to watch her own interests, but the ambassador would not admit her intervention.
They have delayed the release of the bishop of Ross for this week, and, in order to have some persons in York who will urge the Catholics to heresy, the Queen has appointed the bishop of London to be the Archbishop there. (fn. 5)
The archbishop of Armagh has been released on bail, and has gone to Ireland.
Eight ships have arrived from Hamburg, with large quantities of merchandise, mostly Flemish, and the cargo is now being prepared to send back thither.
The warrants for the 50,000 crowns to induce the Admiral (fn. 6) not to accept the King's terms have been handed to the Cardinal. (fn. 7)
At this moment I have received news from Rochester that orders have been received for two of the Queen's ships which were ready to sail, as they will do to-morrow, and 12 more are to be made ready.—London, 27th March 1570.


  • 1. The earl of Mar.
  • 2. The original note says : "These did not come."
  • 3. An original note in the margin says : "This did not come."
  • 4. Sir James Crofts.
  • 5. Archbishop Grindal.
  • 6. Coligny, leader of the Huguenot party in France.
  • 7. Chatillon, his brother.