Simancas: January 1571

Pages 289-293

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

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January 1571

1571. 9 Jan. 230. Guerau De Spes to the King.
I have advised that Count Ludovic of Nassau was arming in Rochelle, and a servant of his has now arrived to summon the corsairs who are about here, and to take him the artillery and stores which this Queen was lending him. They will have 12 fine ships together, amongst them the great Venetian ship, in which the Count himself will go. The valuable Spanish ship loaded with oil has already been transported from Cornwall to some other place. The Council reply to all complaints with dissimulation, and do not take much notice of the fact that the Englishmen who took the two smacks actually brought them out from the Meuse.
Three vessels and a thirty-ton boat have left Plymouth for the Indies, and another boat and a frigate are ready to leave. All the efforts made and promised by the Judge of the Admiralty are insufficient to prevent them from going.
This Queen has sent to say to the Scotch commissioners that she will be here in five days, and will receive them, together with the commissioners of the carl of Lennox, to discuss the means they propose for a settlement.
This Queen is very proud of the embassy sent by the Protestant princes of Germany to the king of France, and gives out that it was done by her orders.—London, 9th January 1571.
231. Guerau De Spes to Zayas,
It is not my fault that so much delay had occurred in the conclusion of the English business which is being discussed in Flanders, as I should like to sec it done differently and without any loss of dignity on our side. It is undesirable that the matter should be protracted because the robberies are increasing and the insolence of the thieves getting worse. They think that all must give way to them, whereas they are really of no account at all, and their power is based on such frail foundations that they could be overturned with the slightest effort. Notwithstanding this, seeing, as they say, the remissness of the foreigners, and their own artfulness day and night in the business, they succeed in the most impudent adventures. As a sort of boast of this, the earl of Leicester made a new year's present to the Queen, consisting of a jewel containing a painting in which the Queen was represented on a great throne with the queen of Scotland in chains at her feet, begging for mercy, whilst the neighbouring countries of Spain and France were as if covered by the waves of the sea, and Neptune and the rest of them bowing to this Queen. With these vanities they flatter the Queen to the top of her bent, who, in other ways, lives with more freedom than Joan of Naples or the like. It is really necessary, although we possess so much power, not to allow it to fall from our hands, and we should be as careful to take advantage of opportunities and artifice as if we were as weak as we are strong. By this means our monarchy would be durable and feared by all for the service of God.—London, 9th January 1571.
16 Jan. 232. Guerau De Spes to the King.
The Queen gave audience in Hampton Court on the 13th instant to the bishop of Ross and the Scotch commissioners with the result that they have to wait 12 days until the commissioners from the other party arrive. In the meanwhile a committee has been appointed to deal with them, consisting of the earls of Leicester and Sussex, the marquis of Northampton, the Lord Keeper, Cecil and Knollys.
Cardinal Chatillon was summoned to all the conferences, and the Queen is now offering to intercede with the Christian King that he, the Cardinal, should be restored to the enjoyment of his revenues. He wishes to push forward the treaty of marriage between the Queen and the duke of Anjou, but her matrimonial intentions are of no use any longer for deceiving people.
In the meanwhile Count Ludovic of Nassau is expected on this coast, and to complaints of robbery, they reply very coolly, thinking that all this will only tend to their advantage in the questim of the restitution, and that if they only restore what they have proposed to do, all their offences will be forgotten and a settlement effected.—London, l6th January 1571.
22 Jan. 233. Guerau De Spes to the King.
I have informed your Majesty that Cardinal Chatillon was pushing forward with great warmth the marriage of the duke of Anjou with the Queen, and the business is now quite advanced, the Queen-mother having written very gently about it to the Cardinal. (fn. 1) The Queen has already proposed it to her Council ; one of the members said that the Duke would be rather young, and that it would be well to consider deeply before they broke entirely with the House of Burgundy. The other members were silent, surprised to see her so set upon this marriage, which they had always thought was merely a fiction. The earl of Leicester is greatly dismayed at having been the instigator of this treaty, but the Cardinal promises him grand estate and honours, and says that he shall go to France at the conclusion of it. The fickleness of the Queen makes it impossible to say whether the marriage will go forward or not. She has already assured the Cardinal that she is quite free from any pledge elsewhere, and that she is determined to marry a prince and not a subject, whilst she has a good opinion of the character of the duke of Anjou.
In the meanwhile they are delaying the settlement of the queen of Scotland's business, on the excuse that they must await the arrival of the commissioners from the opposite party, and their only urgency is to find means of assuring the safety of the earl of Lennox, whose life is in great danger by reason of the executions which he has carried out. The Council here wishes to mutually bind the parties very strictly for the present, under the threat that if any hostility is committed the present negotiations shall be stopped.
I have had arrested the two Flemish pirates who captured the smacks in the Meuse, and sixteen hundred thalers were found upon them, which I will try to have restored with the goods to their owners. This has not been ordered yet, although the Council promise me that it shall be. In the meanwhile the other pirates go on robbing, and very little can be done towards punishing them or recovering their booty. The ships from Rochelle, to the number of about ten, are expected, and by means of the screw thus applied the Councillors think they will be able to do as they like in Flanders.
The revenues that the Crown of England receive from Ireland used formerly to exceed 80,000l., but for the last 10 years they have been only about 20,000l. a year, with the extraordinary duty on wine. The diminution has come about by reason of bad government. I write this in fulfilment of your Majesty's order, which I could not do before, as I had not the information.
Whilst this letter was being put into cipher the French ambassador came to see me, and in the course of conversation, complained that Cardinal Chatillon had made so much noise about the marriage of the prince (the duke of Anjou) with so little foundation. The Cardinal went to his house to explain his design to him, mentioning the Vidame de Chartres as the originator of the idea, and wished to make the ambassador believe that the Queen would agree to it, but he, the ambassador, thinks that she will not do so. I treated the whole matter as a joke.
The French ambassador was summoned yesterday to the Queen who complained to him of the French who have possession of the castle (fn. 2) belonging to the earl of Desmond. She says they are fortifying a little island opposite, and have refused to leave on the request of the governor. She desires that the king of France should be asked to order them to retire.—London, 22nd January 1571.
31 Jan. 234. The King to Guerau de Spes.
I have received your letters of 1st, 5th, and 20th of December and Zayas has told me what you wrote to him on the 28th. I am well informed thereby of affairs in England, and the plans and plots which are being carried on there with the German heretics. Continue to advise me of everything and particularly with regard to placing Count Ludovic at the head of the pirates. Let me know what strength of ships and men he can dispose of, and what routes are taken both by Ludovic and the seven ships which you say are being fitted out for India.
All this is quite incompatible with the settlement which is being discussed with the Queen. The duke of Alba writes on the 1st December that this settlement was quite advanced, and we are surprised that you do not mention this in your letters, as it is the most important subject at present pending. So much is this so, that until we know how this negotiation ends no new prohibition can be made of the export from here of the merchandise you mention, nor can I take fresh steps to prevent the bringing hither of English goods needed by my subjects. You will therefore in all your letters report to me what is being done about this treaty and what hopes may be entertained of its being carried through.
I have nothing special to say to you respecting the affairs of the queen of Scotland and the English Catholics, as the Duke will convey my intentions to you as may be needful. I have only to say that you can assure the queen of Scotland and the Catholics that I desire their amelioration more than I can say, and that I will not fail to duly aid and support them by word and deed.
Having considered what you have written on various occasions about Bartolomé Bayon and the memorandum he gave you, I have come to the conclusion that his proposals are quite out of the question, and were no doubt only made for the purpose of getting more credit and reputation with the people there in consequence of the reply he hoped to get from here. Although this was the case, you will do well not to appear to slight him, and you may tell him, as if on your own account, that the person who was your intermediary had informed you that, if he would moderate somewhat the demands he makes, he might be dealt with reasonably, but that it would be much better, in order that it should be settled more speedily and easily, that he himself should come here to treat on the matter ; for which purpose a safe conduct would be given to him. You can proceed cautiously in accordance with this as you see fit, and let me know what passes.—Madrid, 31st January 1571.


  • 1. The whole of the negotiations for this match are fully and most interestingly related in the published correspondence of La Mothe-Fenelon, then recently appointed French ambassador in England. The Emperor's refusal, through young Henry Cobham, to tenew the negotiations for marriage with his brother the Archduke Charles, would appear to have been much more decided than is stated in the Present letters, and there is no doubt that the Queen was deeply offended at the slight. On the other hand, Catharine de Medici was quite willing to listen to Chatillon, Chartres, and her own secret agent, Cavalcanti, when they proposed so brilliant a match for her second son, as she was now convinced that Philip's sole policy in regard to France was to render it impotent by crushing the reforming party.
  • 2. Dingle in Kerry.