Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 2, 1568-1579. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1894.
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189. Guerau De Spes to the King.
I wrote previously that they were preparing to send ships to meet the fleet from Spain, and I thought well to send Bautista de San Vitores to the Isle of Wight to see what was going on there. There are sixteen ships at the island, not very good but well manned with English and Frenchmen, who, however, are for the most part low scamps. In a town on the island called Medol (?) (fn. 1) there is a great fair of spices, wines, wool, saffron, oil, soap, woad, and a great number of other goods stolen from your Majesty's subjects and some from French and Portuguese. The other pirates were absent, except Sores who is going on this enterprise with four vessels which were still there. It was said that Hawkins was preparing the bread for the voyage at Plymouth, and that many English seafarers were arriving at that place. The total number of pirate ships is understood to be about forty-five, ten of which are of importance.
The Protestants here are providing arms against their enemies and books against the Pope's Bull, whilst the Catholics are biding their time to do their duty, and, in the meantime, suffering bitter servitude. As things are going here and in Ireland, it looks as if the enterprise might be effected in both islands at the same time, as in Ireland most of the nation will rise as soon as they see your Majesty's standard borne by ships on their coast, and no resistance would be made excepting in Dublin and some other fortresses. With the advice of Stukeley and others, who are now with your Majesty, and of Selliger if your Majesty will accept his services, a commencement might be made where success would be easiest, and at the same time fifteen or twenty thousand infantry, and the necessary cavalry, might enter this country with the English outlaws, and raise all the Catholics. If the person of the Queen were assured the business would be practically ended, and even the immediate capture of Cecil, Leicester, and Bedford, would be very advisable, as also would it be to take the fleet at Rochester, all of which would be very easy to do. The only thing wanted is some leading person to direct the enterprise, although there will be Catholic gentlemen ready, better than any of the lords, as time will prove, it being difficult to speak clearly to them as to what can be done before the hour strikes. It is most important that the name of the Queen of Scotland should be kept in the forefront, as being that which commands least opposition in the country, and arouses least suspicion in the neighbouring countries. I am sure that unless by this means, the Protestant Queen of England will never cease to trouble Flanders. The passage of the Queen, our Lady, (fn. 2) comes at a happy moment for this business.
Postscript.—Bartolomé Bayon, the Portuguese of whom I have written, has been talking to me about the continued trade carried on by the French and others with the island of Hispanola and other neighbouring islands, to the injury of your Majesty's subjects, and assures me that he would take measures to stop it, binding himself thereto by security, with eight armed ships, four of them to cruise on that coast whilst the other four return with their cargoes. For this purpose he begs authority to bring some negroes, all of which he would do at his own cost, even to supplying the ships themselves. Your Majesty will order what is best for your interests.—London, 12th June 1570.
190. Guerau De Spes to the King.
I send your Majesty herewith copy of the proclamation made on the 13th instant against the pirates. The Queen afterwards wrote four letters to her officers, ordering, in conformity with her previous decree, that all property that had been stolen from your Majesty's subjects should be detained ; but as the pirates are forbidden entrance into the ports and all connection with the shore, it is nothing but a trick, especially as they will not acknowledge as pirates the English and French who are authorised by the Duke of Vendome and Admiral Chatillon, nor those who take the name of the Prince of Orange. They only regard these as people engaged in a just war, and yet they have all been armed here. I expect this has only been published to throw dust in the eyes of the people, who were murmuring greatly at such practices being allowed.
On the 15th ultimo, the last day of term, the Lord Keeper made an artful speech to the judges and people in Westminster Hall, enlarging upon the sorrow caused to the Queen at the unrest of the people he called Papists, as her wish was only to maintain the law with regard to them. He said that they (the Judges) were to publish this in their several circuits and, for the present, not to force the oath on anybody pending further orders from the Queen. He exhorted them all to unity of opinion, and dismissed the congregation without giving them any further assurance. This speech was delivered by the wish of the Queen, and the Council had resolved upon it at the instance of the Lord Keeper himself.
News has arrived here of the going over (to Flanders) of Lord Morley and of the earl of Westmoreland ; and that many others are on the point of going. The Queen has also received a letter from Stukeley who was sailing for Spain. All these events, together with the passage of our Queen and the Pope's Bull have greatly alarmed this Queen, which alarm is much increased by what is written to her by Robert Huggins, (fn. 3) an English gentlemen living in your Majesty's Court as her spy. Huggins sent a servant of his, an Englishman named Matthew, who was captured in St. Sebastian but was released, as they did not understand the messages he brought, which were falsely interpreted by John Burton, an Englishman living in Bilbca. (fn. 4) This man, Matthew, brought news that the affairs in Granada were going very badly for the Christians at the end of March last, and that your Majesty was in want of money, of which you had borrowed much at heavy interest. He said that on the advice of the achbishop of Cashel and other Irishmen you were about to arrange to seize the island of Ireland and had sent certain persons thither to reconnoitre the land, guided by a Irish page of the marquis of Cerralvo. He also asserted that the ships which came from the Indies were old, ill-found and rotten, and could easily be taken, whilst the English might do damage on the coasts of Galicia where there was not a single strong place. All this and other things, I am assured by Matthew himself, were contained in the statement that he brought, and as they have not, as he thinks, fittingly rewarded him, he came to make a clean breast of it to me, saying that, if it were necessary for the punishment of Robert Huggins, that he should return to Spain he would do so, and if he was sent back by the people at Court here he would give me an account of everything and follow your Majesty's orders when he gets there, although he thinks that Huggins writes by other ways as well. He is a short young fellow, who was in the butlery of his late Royal Highness, and afterwards in the pantry of the Prince of Eboli, where he picked up what news he could. He thinks that Huggins is most probably already a prisoner, as he heard in St. Jean de Luz that a courier had come after him (Matthew) to capture his despatches.
In order that your Majesty may know the aims of these people, and so the better deal with them, I will write what I have heard from my friend, (fn. 5) whom I have always found true, and who has undertaken to make a note of all that passed in the Council for me, keeping himself as free as possible from other things in order the better to remember. He said that they had intended to send help to the Moriscos by means of the king of Fez, whom they would supply with arms, ships, and stores, carrying his Moors over to Spain, and paying them. If they had not had some hope that the commissioners would have arranged for the Turkish fleet to do this they would certainly have carried out the intention, and they are very sorry now they did not do it, as they have decided that it will be necessary to give your Majesty something to do, as they are in great fear of you when you are unoccupied.
They are carrying on some negotiations with M. de Serran, (fn. 6) the equerry of the prince of Orange, who has come here and with the resident agent, but they have no great opinion of the Prince seeing how vilely he has behaved. These agents are asking for money from the exiles here, for the new enterprise, and to enable their master to go to the Diet, where they say he can do much through his friends in the Empire. They have had no favourable answer hitherto.
They have brought Hawkins from Plymouth to consult him about the voyage to the Indies, and there is news of the illness of Sores in Rochelle. Many of the members of the Council are opposed to the ships leaving the Channel. They have approached Antonio Santa Cilia, a Majorcan, to ask whether he would accept the captaincy of some unpaid troops who would go to damage your Majesty's dominions. This has been done through Baptista de la Camara, an Italian ex-friar, who is now in the service of this Queen, and has done many knavish things. Santa Cilia refused, and consequently they did not open out more to him, but I have told him to endeavour to discover in what parts they mean to do the damage.
The Queen's only thought for the present is to raise money, and it is said that, what with her loans and other sources, she will have, in the month of September, 300,000l., which sum is being now gradually taken to the Tower, and this is the most she can hope to do. In order to economise she has ordered all the ships to be dismantled, and will content herself with the protection given by the pirates.
In the meanwhile, I await the intelligence of what the bishop of Ross has arranged with his mistress, of whom nothing here has been heard, except that the earl of Shrewsbury writes to this Queen that the queen of Scotland has sent to her country, and that passports will be requested here shortly for certain Scotsmen who will come to treat about hostages.
The French ambassador went to Court lately to beg the restitution tution of the castle of Hume, and the other one taken by the earl of Sussex, but the Queen deferred the consideration of this until the other matters were discussed.
The earl of Arundel thinks he has won over the earl of Worcester, who is now a knight of the Garter.
They have given the duke of Norfolk the run of the Tower, and the earl of Southampton is a prisoner at Kingston, only because he was seen speaking in the country to the bishop of Ross.
They have willingly concluded the agreement with Portugal, and have ordered Winter to be satisfied with 8,000 crowns for his marque, one half in merchandise, and the other half to be paid in money by the English merchants who are anxious for the trade, but the capture of this sloop containing much Portuguese property, of which I give an account on the enclosed statement, will prove some obstacle. (fn. 7) If it be insured by subjects of your Majesty the matter will be more easily arranged.
The plunder lately taken from ships belonging to your Majesty's subjects has been carried to the island, and some taken to Hamburg. The cochineal and other merchandise forming part of the goods that have been detained were found in Hawkins' own flagship when he went to Hamburg, and the English commissioners were bold enough to take an account of it. The rest was taken by his brother, James Hawkins, to Rochelle.
Baptista San Vitores was badly wounded with a dagger yesterday at the Admiralty Court, because he was proceeding in the cause against M. de Schonvall. I have sent to let Cecil know about it. This will make it a bad business for those who have to claim the goods that the pirates have stolen.—London, 18th June 1570.
191. Memorandum of Contents of Letters from Antonio De
Guaras, dated respectively, 11th, 17th, and 22nd of June.
The English demand of the queen of Scotland that she should deliver her son and four Scotch noblemen, to be chosen by the Queen of England, to her.
That no French troops be received in Scotland. That the earls of Northumberland and Westmoreland shall be expelled, with the rest of the English outlaws. That the position of religion shall remain as at present. On these conditions the Queen of England will restore the Queen of Scotland to liberty, and withdraw her troops from the country. The queen of Scotland and her people will not agree to these terms, which would be their ruin, as the object of the queen of England, it is suspected, is to at once kill the Prince, and place on the throne the eldest son of Catherine, sister of Jane, who was beheaded, he being a heretic. She would at once do this if the queen of Scotland were to die.
They much fear an agreement in France, and Councils are held every day in order to provide funds for the Admiral, whom they urge not to come to terms. M. de Lumay, a Flemish outlaw, and an equerry of Orange, had arrived there (in England), and since his arrival the English were threatening the States, and it is believed that there is a close understanding between them and the Flemish rebels.
The object of the queen of England in sending the fleet with merchandise to the value of a million to Hamburg, is mainly to place funds there, in order to raise troops whenever they may be wanted by her, or whenever she may decide to help Orange, under the conviction that in due time through him something may be attempted in the States.
If the Hamburg voyage had been prevented, as it might have been by his (Guaras') timely advice, England would have been in great confusion and begging mercy of his Majesty, whilst they would have been more moderate respecting religion, and the Catholics would have been less oppressed.
That two gentlemen named Norton had been drawn and quartered in consequence of their steadfastness in the Catholic faith. This has greatly scandalised and alarmed the people.
That the treaty which Antonio Fogaza is arranging between the king of Portugal and England would be very undesirable for us as the English intend through Portugal to provide themselves with what they need from Spain, and would therefore be indifferent as to whether they were at peace with us or not. They would consequently continue to rob Spanish subjects and ill-treat Catholics.
The proclamation made by the queen of England is simply a trick with the object of satisfying her people and entertaining his Majesty and the Duke, since under the flags of the Admiral, Vendome, and the prince of Orange, the whole channel, from Falmouth to the Downs, is infested by ships to the number of forty, and twelve frigates, each one of which contains a dozen or fifteen Englishmen. They assail every ship that passes, of whatever nation, and after capturing them equip them for their own purposes, by this means continually increasing their fleet, with the intention, on the part of the Queen, thus to make war on his Majesty through these pirates, without its costing her anything, and under the specious pretence that she is not responsible, since the pirates carry authority from Chatillon, Vendome, and Orange. He (Guaras) asserts that the damage they do is very great, and if these robberies are not stopped the fleet will grow to such an extent that it will be impossible to deal with it.
Those who are anxious for his Majesty's advantage can think of no better remedy than that his Majesty should order ships to be fitted out in Flanders, Biscay, and Galicia, and that they should join in a large fleet with the sole purpose of destroying these pirates and stopping the robberies, or at all events making them difficult. This fleet might also prevent trade with Hamburg, Portugal, or other places, so that, if both robbery and trade were prevented, the English would soon be killing each other, or coming to beg mercy of his Majesty.
The English commissioners have returned from Flanders. Although they pretended to wish for a settlement, such was never their real intention, as he (Guaras) has always informed the Duke. They did not steal the property for the purpose of returning it, but for their own bad ends, thinking that the Moors in Granada and the Grand Turk would place Spain in such a position that they (the English) might do the same in Flanders. The few remaining goods are diminished every day, and the commissioners have therefore rejected the Duke's terms, to the effect that all that had been detained on both sides should be restored. They claim that, whilst they should receive back all that belongs to them, they should restore only what they have still on hand, which is much less than half of what has been stolen. He is certain that the value of the English goods arrested in Spain and Flanders is much greater than what remains in stock in England belonging to subjects of his Majesty.
It is useless, therefore, to treat for a settlement with the English since, however just may be our demands, they will claim absurd terms. They demand that his Majesty should again assure them the following conditions, namely :—That they may have freedom to trade in the Indies ; that the English property confiscated for years past by the Holy Office should be restored ; that the English pirate Hawkins should have returned to him the property taken from him by the Viceroy a year and a half since, and that which was captured from him in the Indies, valued at a great sum, which they wish to put against the account of what they have to restore ; that the English should have security for person and property on account of their religion whilst trading or living in his Majesty's dominions. They demand that his Majesty should guarantee them all these absurdities, because they know very well that such terms will not be even listened to. The councillors, indeed, do not wish that they should be conceded, and only profess to desire peace in order to appear well before the people, their real object being war and disturbance for their own personal profit.
That which has most encouraged the Queen and the Council in their insolence has been their firm conviction that his Majesty will pass over all the offences committed without seeking vengeance in the fear that the king of France might intervene to prevent him : whereas the latter is so exhausted and short of money that he could hardly do so, and an opportunity is thus given to his Majesty, especially now that the Christian King is offended with the queen of England.
The declaration of the Pope against the Queen has been posted on the bishop of London's gate, (fn. 8) which has caused great sorrow to the bad people and much delight to the godly, who are convinced that, as a consequence of it, a redress for their evils will follow by the arms of Christian Princes, since this declaration can only have been made by the consent of such Princes, and especially of his Majesty. The first result of the declaration had been the persecution secution and imprisonment of Catholics ; but the Council finding them constant, and that some people of position were passing over to Spain and Flanders to escape the ban of his Holiness, the Queen had ordered that the Catholics should not be persecuted for their religion. This, however, was only the result of fear, as her heart is much corrupted, and she herself had answered the Pope's declaration in Latin verse, scoffing at the apostolic authority, saying that the boat of St. Peter should never enter a port of hers, and other heresies of a like nature.
The Queen, finding herself surrounded by so many enemies, all her thoughts are directed to the raising of funds. She had demanded loans from the country to the amount of six hundred thousand crowns, besides two hundred thousand crowns from private persons, who are obliged to give it, so as not to appear disloyal. These loans had greatly diminished the Queen's popularity amongst all classes, who are indignant against her and her government. He (Guaras) then gives his opinion, supported by that of other experienced persons, that if his Majesty would now attack England he could conquer it without drawing the sword if the force sent were of sufficient extent, because in such case all the Catholics would at once join him, whereas if the forces were not equal to that of the English it is feared they (the Catholics) would join their fellow-countrymen on the defensive.
The Queen is also in trouble in Ireland, as few people there obey her. Two brothers of the earl of Ormond, both valiant gentlemen, have recently risen against her, and are determined to resist her power.
The Queen and Council have been thrown into alarm by hearing that an English gentleman named Thomas Stukeley had gone to Spain, carrying with him much information about Ireland. Guaras says he knows him for an excellent Christian, much attached to his Majesty's service, and as the Irish are nearly all Catholics, and attached to the King, being the natural enemies of the English, his Majesty might more easily begin war there than elsewhere.
The passage of our Queen through Flanders so well equipped, also arouses fear and suspicion, as does the knowledge that the French were sending 2,000 harquebussiers to Scotland. They have therefore sent the earl of Sussex to Berwick, but this trouble is nothing in comparison to what they expect may come at the hands of our King. This greatly disturbs them, and it is said that the Queen will at once order the equipment of twenty of her own ships and as many private ones, to be prepared to resist his Majesty's fleet.
Experience shows that the Queen becomes more proud, cruel, and insolent when she is treated mildly, whilst strength and boldness bring her to her knees, as she is naturally extremely timid. She has thus issued the proclamation against the pirates, and has softened towards the Catholics, as well as done other things against the opinion of the Council since the Pope's declaration was published and she heard of his Majesty's fleet (fn. 9) being prepared in Flanders.
192. Guerau De Spes to the King.
The bishop of Ross arrived here on the 18th at night, and has sent me a letter from his mistress, copy of which I enclose, together with copy of the instructions which he bears, by which the Scotch Queen's demands may be seen. (fn. 10) The Bishop went to Court at once, and they told him that the Queen was rather unwell. The Council questioned him about his conversation with the earl of Southampton, and they seem to have been satisfied. They deferred their reply to his last errand by saying that the Queen would give it to him personally. He is therefore at Kingston, awaiting audience, which he will soon get.
In my recent letters I wrote that the French ambassador insisted upon the surrender of the castles the English had taken in Scotland, but as he could not obtain this, he claimed that her troops should not enter Scotland, on condition that the king of France should not send soldiers thither. They agreed to this ; but two days since, the Queen sent word to him, withdrawing from the arrangement, assuring him that she was informed of the embarkation of two thousand harquebussiers in Brittany, for Scotland. The ambassador thereupon requested audience, but it has not been granted, on the pretence that the Queen is ill.
Perhaps this negotiation has been upset by a letter written by the Admiral Chatillon, to the Queen, saying that he had arrived at Rouenville on the Loire, where the river becomes navigable, which place he intends to fortify and victual for a year. He has received from Xaintes and Sanserre, twelve hundred horse, and the Prince de la Rochefoucauld, with eight hundred more was coming from Rochelle to join him. He was gathering the flower of the soldiery in Languedoc, and all those from Dauphiné had flocked to him. He had with him the Gascon Viscounts, (fn. 11) and all the Reiters, so that he had now a finer force of cavalry and infantry than ever, and Marshal de Cossé would not dare to attack him, even though M. d'Aumale were to join him. The Admiral said that, if the promised aid from Germany came, he would guarantee that throughout France there should be no other religion than theirs. This letter on the one hand encourages them, and on the other annoys them, as they know that it means a payment of money from them.
Hawkins has been sent post haste to Plymouth to finish the equipment of his three ships, with a like number of others, which, it is believed, will go to towards the Indies.
The servant of the prince of Orange, who came lately, has gone to Rye to hasten the despatch of two fine ships, which are being fitted as corsairs, and supplied with guns and stores from here. Some parcels of woad, taken from Frenchmen, and other goods belonging to your Majesty's subjects, have been sold for cash very cheaply, Cobham's brother having a hand in it, to his great profit. They have released M. de Schonvall on the bail of a poor Flemish exile, and Schonvall is now in his ship again.
One of Winter's ships which went to Guinea has returned, and the other two, if they can escape from the Portuguese fleet, will go to the isle of Hispaniola.
This friend of mine tells me of two letters written by this Queen to your Majesty, one in April and one this month, without the Council's knowledge, complaining greatly of me. He says that Cecil and the Chancellor say frequently that I am a greater papist than the bishop of Aquila. The said letters were to be delivered to Don Francés de Alava, if he would receive them, in order to serve as a feeler as to your Majesty's intentions. The Queen thinks that, by expressing her approval of the agreement discussed by her commissioners in Flanders, without declaring herself as regards the restitution of the remainder of the stolen property, she will fulfil her duty, and will see by your Majesty's answer whether there is any artifice in those who are negotiating on the other side. —London, 22nd June 1570.
193. The King to Guerau De Spes.
I have not written to you for some time, because I have been continually on the road, and answers are due to many letters from you. Although the latter contain much information which it was well to send me, there is little to answer in them, because, as I have said previously, English affairs depend so entirely on those of Flanders, and the duke of Alba is managing them with so much prudence and consideration, to the benefit of my interests, that you will continue to follow the instructions he may give you. What I have to say now is, that the copies I received from you of the two briefs (bulls) despatched by his Holiness, one declaring the Queen schismatic, and depriving her of the throne, and the other written to the earls of Westmoreland and Northumberland, were the first information I had received upon the subject. His Holiness has taken this step without communicating with me in any way, which certainly has greatly surprised me, because my knowledge of English affairs is such that I believe I could give a better opinion upon them and the course that ought to have been adopted under the circumstances than any one else. Since, however, his Holiness allowed himself to be carried away by his zeal, he no doubt thought that what he did was the only thing requisite for all to turn out as he wished, and if such were the case, I, of all the faithful sons of the Holy See, would rejoice the most. But I fear that, not only will this not be the case, but that this sudden and unexpected step will exacerbate feeling there, and drive the Queen and her friends the more to oppress and persecute the few good Catholics,still remaining in England. You will advise me, with your usual diligence, of everything that passes in this matter, as I am very anxious about it. You will, for this purpose, keep in communication with Ridolfi, in order to discover from him what his Holiness's instructions are, since he has been the channel through which the money was sent to the Earls.
I have seen the copies of the two letters from the Queen of Scotland to you, and am glad to see her firm resolve to live and die in the Catholic faith. This obliges me to desire her freedom and happiness as if she were my own sister, and I thus write anew to the duke of Alba to bear this in mind, and help her by word and deed when possible, and forward her marriage with the duke of Norfolk, or some other English Catholic, which, in my opinion, will be the best way by which redress may be found for England and Scotland. You will proceed in this as the Duke may instruct you, and assure the queen of Scotland that I will never fail to do all I can for her as a good brother should.
As regards the negotiation for the restitution of property belonging to my subjects, I have nothing more to say until I see how the discussions in Antwerp will end. The Duke advises me fully with regard to it and you will follow his instructions.
The king of Portugal has been informed of the treaty under discussion there touching English trade with his country, and in view of his answer orders shall be sent to you what to do in the matter. Respecting what you say of Bartolomé Bayon's offer to enter my service, contained in a letter which he wrote to you (which, however, you did not send to me), you will on the first opportunity report the contents of the letter for my consideration and reply.
You will use every effort to discover the names of the Englishmen living here, who you say are spies, because, although we suspect some persons, we have not enough proof to make an example of them until we get further information.
When Guzman de Silva was there, he told me that Luis de Paz was so forward in my service as to merit some reward being granted to him. Although I have long had intelligence of his services, I should like you to report to me again how he is behaving, and what sort of reward could be given to him. You can inform the duke of Alba of this that I may the better decide, but you need not say anything to Luis de Paz about it.—The Escorial, 30th June 1570.
194. Antonio De Guaras to Zayas.
On the 22nd I wrote to your worship last. Since then we learn that Northumberland is a prisoner in Scotland, and that Westmoreland, Dacre, and the other Englishmen who were on the point of leaving for Flanders as I wrote, have been detained in consequence of the want of certain things which were not ready. It is thought that Dacre left subsequently, and that the rest will contrive to go. They are not at present in arms, but both sides have taken refuge in their respective countries, although at open enmity.
It was arranged that two thousand men should be sent from France, but it has since been agreed between the Christian King and this Queen that she would withdraw her forces if he would refrain from sending his troops. The Queen has fulfilled her promise, and the ambassador here promises that the French shall therefore not go. The Queen has dismissed the troops she had raised on the border, except 3,000 men who are in garrison at Berwick and elsewhere. She had also ordered the preparation of six ships to resist the coming of the French, but on the strength of the French ambassador's promise this order has been countermanded.
Since the bishop of Ross came back from his mistress, this Queen has refused him audience, in consequence of his affair with the earl of Southampton, who is still detained.
Norfolk is still a prisoner, and his guard has been closer since the attempt of the people of his county to rise again. The Queen was angry at this, and has had four or five people of high position arrested, which has greatly disturbed the public mind.
I have reported that the Queen and Council are in great alarm for fear of some trouble in the State, and the Queen has been three days without leaving her room, exclaiming publicly against secretary Cecil and others, who, she declared, were bringing her into great trouble which would end in the ruin both of her and them, since it was proved now that nothing turned out as they anticipated either in France, Scotland, Granada, the coming of the Turk to Spain, or anything else. They cannot persuade themselves that the great fleet being fitted out in Flanders is only for the passage of our Queen, and publicly say in the Court and in London and all over the country that the transports of the fleet were being fitted with mangers for over 2,000 horses, and that 6,000 Walloons, and a body of Spaniards were ready, which facts were not a proof of good neighbourship. They are so much alarmed here that they fear the very shadows, and as they have learnt of the success which God sent to us in Granada, and that the Turk is not coming to Spain, as they hoped, they are quite beside themselves, seeing the many enemies they have of their own nation here and abroad. They clearly understand that, if we were to declare ourselves openly, the majority of the English themselves would come over to us. Although they find themselves in this danger, they are not arming the Queen's ships or others, in the hope that perhaps the preparations in Flanders are really only for the passage of our Queen, and it is understood that they will not take to arms except under extreme necessity, in order not to spend money, and because they are satisfied for the moment by having in the channel a fleet of over forty sail under the flags of Orange, the duchess of Vendome, and Chatillon, which are going in and out all the ports and carry many Englishmen. They are therefore the declared friends of our enemies the pirates, whom they help, welcome, and regale ; robbing our ships daily on their way through the channel which ships, to make matters worse, they then proceed to arm and add to their own fleet.
They are in great fear also that some trouble will come to them through Ireland, for it is certain that the whole of that island is deeply attached to our King, all the people being Catholics excepting the English whom the Queen has there, who do not amount to 1,500 men, scattered in various places, few of whom have any experience in defence. In all Ireland there is no force of importance. It is the best soil in the world, with excellent ports, and if the people were only in subjection, it would be a very rich and flourishing country. The whole of it could be overrun and subdued, especially by the great help that our people would receive, as your worship will be better informed by Thomas Stukeley, an English gentleman who is going to Spain from Ireland, and by many well-informed Englishmen.
The man who is acting here for the king of Portugal has tried several times to come to terms with the English for mutual freedom to trade for both countries, and as the people here fear they will not be friendly with us, they have made up their differences respecting the (Portuguese) merchandise, and they are expecting the authority from Portugal, in accordance with the agreement, by which they may come and go to trade as formerly. As this would be so prejudicial to his Majesty, it is to be supposed that the arrangement will be hindered or nullified. Trustworthy news has come from Rochelle that ten very powerful ships well armed and found have sailed from that and other ports. The commander of this fleet for M. de Vendome, to whom it belongs, is M. d'Iprés, and on its departure the object of the voyage was announced to be the meeting of our fleet coming from the Indies, but if they did not meet it they would land in Florida or some other place near. This news may be depended upon, as a person who was an eye-witness says he saw 2,000 well armed men embarked on the ships. These heretic traitors are ready for anything, but it is to be hoped that Melendez will keep his eyes open and give them no rest. Captain John Hawkins is also fitting out in Plymouth. This is the man who has so often been to the Indies, and he has now four or five ships which are certainly bound on a similar voyage. As he has so much experience of this navigation he might cause us some extraordinary injury if he joined the Frenchmen, although it is to be hoped that measures will be taken to prevent his succeeding. The commissioners appointed by the duke of Alba to inspect the (detained) merchandise are expected here. Those who judge simply by what they hear, think that something is being done, but those who understand the drift of affairs feel that it is all deception.
In consequence of the fears entertained by the Queen and her Council, they are beginning to show some outward favour to the Catholics, some of whom have been released from prison, where they were for conscience sake, whilst others in the Tower have been given more freedom. The Queen even went so far as to say publicly that she thinks, if need should arise, she will adhere to the Catholics and abandon the heretics. They are in so much confusion that there is a constant appearance of great fickleness in these rulers.
Many persons are being prosecuted on account of the excommunication (i.e., the Pope's bull), and, as passion is principally directed against his Majesty, it is openly declared that the brief came to this country by our hands, which people have the impudence to say they can prove. They are treating with great severity those who have been apprehended on suspicion of being concerned in this.
Postscript : 1st July. I have just heard that Hawkins is to be accompanied by the Portuguese pilot, who I think was arrested in Porto Rico and brought to Seville, whence he escaped and came hither. They leave in August,—London, 30th June.