Simancas: August 1571

Pages 325-334

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

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August 1571

4 Aug. 268. The King to Guerau De Spes.
By my letter of the 14th July you will have learned what had occurred up to that date respecting the errand of Roberto Ridolfi. Since then, I have fully discussed all the details which presented themselves, with the care and consideration demanded by the importance of the matter. In the result, after carrying the whole question before Almighty God, whose cause it is and in whom we confide for the guidance and direction of this affair better than human prudence can attain or understand, since all the object is directed purely and simply to His glory and service and the advantage of His holy Catholic faith, I have resolved to adopt the course which you will learn from the Duke of Alba, to whom I write respecting it at great length. In conformity therewith and the orders that he may give you, you will proceed in the business with the discretion, dexterity, mildness, and cleverness which we expect of you, keeping in close communication with the Duke, and carrying out minutely all he may order, this being my wil.—San Lorenzo, 4th August 1571.
5 Aug. 269. The King to Guerau De Spes.
By your letters and from what Zayas tells me you have written to him, I have been informed of everything that has happened in London up to the 29th of June. There is little to say until we see what was the result of the reply taken by Henry Cobham, who, as we understand, arrived there on the 9th July, although really I have small hope that the Queen or her friends will ever of their own accord come to the point of restitution or any other good thing. But, at all events, we will await the reply, which cannot now be long delayed.
From your letters and those of Don Francés de Alava, I learn that the negotiations for the marriage of the Queen with the duke of Anjou are still being warmly discussed, but truly, I cannot persuade myself that there is any sincerity in them, but that the whole object is to entertain with vain words and wishes both her own subjects and the French. Still it is very desirable and necessary that you should be vigilant in trying to learn all that happens from both sides, giving me advice of the same with all due minuteness.
Fitzwilliams has arrived here with the reply to the Articles of Agreement which he had taken to John Hawkins. We are discussing the reply with him in order to satisfy ourselves as to whether there is anything in it or not. If there be, and Hawkins behaves straightforwardly, there is no doubt that he would be of great service, but many confirmatory proofs are needful before we can be convinced of this. You shall be informed of the decision. arrived at in due time, and, in the meanwhile, if Hawkins speaks to to you, you may tell him only that you have heard of the arrival of Fitzwilliams here.
The necessary measures have been taken here in the matter of Bayon, and Dr. Nuñez, in conformity with your advices. If you think that anything should be done in Flanders in respect of the connections which Dr. Nuñez had there you will advise the duke of Alba in order that he may take such steps as he may consider necessary.
The death, or rather martyrdom, of Dr. Storey was, I see by the statement you send, so firm and faithful in the Catholic religion that it is a subject of gratitude to God that He has still preserved such men as this in England, since by means of them, hopes may be entertained that the true religion may yet be restored there. Having respect to the need and trouble in which I was informed Storey's wife was at Louvain, where she lives, I have ordered the Duke to make the necessary provision for the maintenance of her and her children.
The book you sent of what had been done in Parliament was received. You did well in sending it, and you will continue to send all such information as you can obtain. The general cipher having been so long in use and having passed through so many hands, we think it is time it was changed, particularly as Don Francés suspects that it has been tampered with. We consequently send you a new one, of which you will acknowledge receipt as we cannot use it until we know you have received it.—San Lorenzo, 5th August 1571.
5 Aug.
B. M. Add. 26,056b. Transcript.
270. Guerau De Spes to Zayas.
On the 4th instant, at two o'clock in the night, a great arch of fire appeared in the heavens here, according to the statement of the large number of people who saw it. It lasted two hours, and then broke up into many parts. Neither I nor any of my people saw it, but, as it was witnessed by 500 persons, I believe the statement, although I do not mention it to his Majesty. You may imagine how disturbed these Londoners are at it, as they are so timid and greedy of wonders.—London, 5th August 1571.
8 Aug. 271. Guearu De Spes to the King.
The determination of your Majesty to aid the release of the queen of Scotland and favour the gentlemen who aim at converting this country to obedience to the Catholic Church, rescuing it from the tyranny and bad government which now afflict it, is so godly and just as was to have have been expected from your Majesty's magnanimity and nobleness. By this means, too, it is to be hoped that the, insults and robberies committed in defiance of your Majesty will be justly punished and stopped for ever. I should at once have set about conveying the letters to the bishop of Ross, the queen of Scotland, and the duke of Norfolk, but for the strict orders given to me by the duke of Alba to await further orders from your Majesty in answer to a despatch which he had specially sent to you, and although it is a pity to lose this time, especially as Burleigh and Leicester are continuing to oppress and almost to destroy the Catholics, I will detain the letters as the Duke orders, and the time thus lost may perhaps be made up by sending another courier with great speed. The spirits of the Catholics are high, but as your Majesty well knows, the character of these people makes it necessary to take advantage of their ardour without leaving them much time to put their heads together for rediscussion. If the opportunity is lost this year I fear that the false religion will prevail in this island in a way that will make it a harsh neighbour for the Netherlands. At present these people here are without commanders, with no good soldiers, with but little money, discontented, divided, and convinced that the queen of Scotland is their natural ruler.
Very far from believing that after some sort of restitution is made such as that which has been discussed for so long and so disadvantageously with your Majesty's officers, all the ill-will of thesé heretics against your Majesty will disappear, as well as their hopes of overturning the Indies and the Netherlands, I make bold to affirm that they will grow more insolent than ever, even though they may be without allies. I know that the hearts of Leicester and Burleigh, as well as those of the Queen herself and most of her Council, are incurably bad.
It is understood that the French marriage now under discussion is being promoted mainly by Burleigh, and notwithstanding the age and habit of the Queen, I much fear that it will be brought about, or will result in a league between the English and French to injure your Majesty's states.
The suspicions entertained here about the voyage of Ridolfi and his arrival in Rome need not trouble us much, as they know by the declaration of the prisoner Carlos, (fn. 1) that he is going to beg for money for Scotland, and it does not matter much what they suspect, since the blow will be struck without leaving them time for thought, as is usual with wars here.
The imprisonment of this son of the earl of Derby will be a drawback, but it will not stop the business, for the Catholics will be three to one, and with the blessing of God, in my opinion, the battle is over already, on the sole condition that aid is quietly held in readiness to be given at the first rising.
Irish affairs are now greatly helping us, as James FitzMaurice is prospering. He has taken possession of the greater part of Munster, and iniquitously (sic) put to the sword the best Englishmen who were there. The Viceroy, Harry Sidney, has come here, and refuses to return as they will not give him proper help, indeed, things are going so badly that the Irishmen of themselves with the advice of some Englishmen would succeed in their enterprise.
If the remedy is deferred, it is greatly to be feared that Scotland, which is at present without succour, will fall into the hands of the English, who are carrying on incessant negotiations with that end and if the Queen (of Scotland) were once put out of the world, and she is often in danger of it, the little prince, or the son of Hertford, would turn out to be a fine king for the Catholic party. All other dissensions and partialities are forgotten in this great religious question. Your Majesty will order what you consider best, and I have only to report and represent what is happening and to express my opinion of the opportunity which offers itself to do a great service to God.
I have, on many occasions advised your Majesty that a party of pirates to the number of twenty sail are near Dover continually taking prizes. Seven are great ships, the others very small, and the men come on shore with impunity every day. They have enriched that place, the Isle of Wight, and nearly all the coast. The crews are, generally speaking, men of inferior class. The last prize taken was a French ship loaded with woad, belonging to the Michaels of Antwerp. The Council wish to keep some of these pirates here and not let them all go to Rochelle.
Mean knaves come hourly from the Netherlands to join these people, and not a ship sails that they do not know the hour of her leaving and her point of departure. There are other ships belonging to Englishmen, which are robbing in the same way.
The rest of the pirates have gone to Rochelle, but are at present in and near Brouage. I have had a statement taken from the crew of two ships which sail from that place a fortnight ago, which says that there were at that time eighteen ships there, ten of great burden, well armed, but still unsupplied with many necessary things.
I have learned that the Queen has received a letter from the Court of France saying that the prince of Orange had failed in his promises that certain preparations would be ready at the time that these pirates were collected, so that up to the present they have done nothing but plunder ; and Count Ludovic writes to the Queen that he is coming here himself. Both the rebels and the English have an infinite number of connections with the Netherlands, and the one thing they are constantly plotting and contriving is to cause disturbance there. They expect some great alliances as a result of the conference between the Admiral and the Christian King, and it is expected that M. de Foix will be here next week.
I have written to your Majesty of the great desire which Hawkins expresses to serve you, as you will also have heard verbally from George Fitzwilliams there, and I can discover nothing suspicious about it. He has gone to Plymouth taking artillery and munitions from London, leaving a person here in case I should wish to call him back, on a pretext connected with the smack which they captured of his and took to Flanders. I shall ostensibly summon him for the reply to the representation which he has asked me to make on that matter to the duke of Alba. He may render great service by manning his ships with a very few men and filling them up with others chosen by your Majesty, and the least of these services will be to catch the pirates who infest the Channel which he considers very easy. If this arrangement and that with Ridolfi could be carried through in conjunction, it would be very advantageous.
The restitution of the merchandise is being so dragged out by the English that sometimes we think that they want to delay it until the winter.—London, 8th August 1571.
18 Aug. 272. Guerau De Spes to the King.
In my previous letters I advised your Majesty that I had delayed delivering Ridolfi's letters until I had fresh orders from your Majesty, in conformity with the instructions I had received from the duke of Alba, The Duke's orders were very precise, but it certainly is in my opinion most desirable that the matter should not be long delayed, for fear that feeling may change here in consequence of the turn taken in French affairs.
M. de Foix (fn. 2) was at Court on the 15th, with M. de la Mothe, accompanied by Lord Buckhurst and Charles Howard, attended by seventy or eighty horsemen. Foix has been exquisitely well received and lodged in the palace, where the Queen's officers entertain him very splendidly.
On the 16th he had audience and made a long speech to the effect that his King desired friendship and relationship to the royal House of England, and pointed out the advantages which would result therefrom to both countries. This was the public audience, and a committee consisting of Lord Burleigh, Keeper, Leicester, and the Chamberlain, was appointed to confer with him in secret and decide as to his business. Many people still doubt whether the Queen will marry, but it is believed that these negotiations will result in some league against your Majesty's States. I have not yet been able to discover details of what has taken place, although I have people at Court expressly to scrutinize everything.
Leicester is offered the duchess de Nevers in marriage, and an estate in France, and La Mothe and Foix have decided to give presents of jewellery to the Queen's favourites, Foix having come already provided with the jewels for that purpose.
It is of some importance to us that the French should thus be showing their hand, and it seems more desirable than ever that they should be circumvented. The matter of the pirates remains in the same condition, as previously advised, but for many months they will not be able to go in any great force to the Indies, although some private ships are undertaking the voyage.
Over eighty bronze pieces with much ammunition and a large quantity of corselets, and pikes, have been shipped for Ireland. A servant of Thomas Stukeley, who recently came from Spain, has been brought to the Tower, and has been severely tortured. I am just informed that Foix has proposed that the Queen of Scotland should be married to the duke of Vendome.—London 18th August 1571.
23 Aug. 273. Guerau De Spes to the King.
I have previously advised your Majesty that the guns from the castle and ramparts of Dover had prevented the Flemish ships from taking the twenty-four pirate vessels which were there. Twentytwo of them are now on the beach, our ships having captured the other two. The pirates have left a few of their sailors in charge of them and the captains and rest of their people have come to London. The assertions made at Court that the pirates would be arrested is not true, and the reply which Lord Burleigh gave to the Secretary, whom I had sent to complain to the Council of this insult, was that formerly Don Alvaro de Bazan had done the same thing in defending certain French vessels against the English. I shall say no more about it until I receive orders from the duke of Alba, as these people are very impertinent and, on the same day, almost dismissed Thomas Fiesco for good, rejecting the settlement which he thought he had made of the question of the Genoese money in the hands of the Queen. They threatened him, and told him that the Queen did not mean to return it for seven years to come, so that Fiesco's intention of pressing the settlement of the points still pending, relative to the restitution of our merchandise, must fall through. They dismissed Fiesco, telling him that he must prove that the Queen took the money in cash and what was the amount. Her officers refused to give any information whatever about it as they said that it was all set forth in the Treasury books. As there were still some of the people here who came with the money, Fiesco brought them with him before Thomas Gresham who, he was told, had to settle the business. I have now less hope of these people than ever, and Fiesco is of the same opinion.
The French ambassadors have been with the Queen for a week, and pass three or four hours every day with the Council. It is generally declared that the marriage will not take place, as the people have hitherto shown no liking for it, but my friends assure me that the matter is agreed upon, and that on the arrival of Marshal Montmorenci he will be assured by the Council that the duke of Anjou will be allowed to hear mass privately, although this will not be set forth in the treaty, and by this means, the Protestants here will not be disturbed, and the Christian King will be able to obtain great help from the French Catholics towards the cost of his brother's coming. I am also told that it is agreed that the Duke shall be acknowledged as King with certain limitations.
I am following the duke of Alba's orders and delaying action in Ridolfi's affair until I have received fresh instructions.
Every month there leave here four ships for Hamburg, and next month eight will sail, as during the winter months the voyage is impossible. They will carry great riches, and it would be most desirable to capture them, and so to equalise the advantage these people now have in the value of goods detained.
Whilst writing this I have received the following news, namely, that the Queen's Council is very divided because Lord Burleigh and the Keeper, his brother-in-law (who are followed by the earl of Sussex out of enmity for Leicester), are of opinion than the Anjou marriage should take place first and afterwards the negotiations for alliance should be undertaken. Leicester, the Admiral, and Knollys, are against the marriage, but in favour of making an offensive and defensive league with the French. The Queen is, so to speak, driven to the marriage, but Burleigh is so powerful in the Government that she dares not oppose him. The French ambassadors are satisfied because either arrangements will suffice for them.
An English captain has arrived from Scotland to beg in the name of the earl of Lennox for ten thousand crowns and some artillery and ammunition to batter the castle of Edinburgh.
Huggins, (fn. 3) who came from Spain is the Commissioner against Stukeley's servant, whom he is having tortured. He said yesterday that the Council was seeking some means by which I might be expelled the island, but they had not yet hit upon any scheme which seemed suitable.
Huggins (Hawkins?) insists upon not fitting out his thirteen ships, and Captain Murses and Thomas Murses have promised me that they will capture either Count Ludovic or M. de Lumbres if they put to sea, and carry them to Spain. I told the man who spoke to me about it, that if they did so they would be richly rewarded, but I refused to give them letters, as they asked me, for them to be admitted into any of our ports, because if they enter with their prizes they will at once be recognised for what they are. The capture of Lumbres would greatly alarm the other pirate leaders, and I am informed that these men are quite able to do as they say.—London, 23rd August 1571.
27 Aug. 274. Guerau De Spes to the King.
The arrangement made by M. de Foix with the Queen and Council is that the duke of Anjou should be married without either he or his household being obliged to conform to the religion of this country, and in addition to the royal title, powers are to he given to him similar to those granted to your Majesty when you were here. Foix returned from Reading, where the Queen is, yesterday, with the decision, on the understanding that they would send him afterwards a written copy of the eight clauses signed by all the members of the Council. This was brought to him by Lord Burleigh, but with an addition to the effect that neither Anjou nor his people should attend mass, as he, Burleigh, considered it open idolatry. Foix is going back to the Court to-morrow about it, and to say that he has no orders to accept this clause. Lord Burleigh told him that there would be no difficulty about arranging the league, with any securities that the French might desire, and that the duke of Anjou should not hesitate to accept these terms of marriage, as what was proposed to him would be the salvation of his soul. It may well be believed that Foix is not much displeased with the proposal, as he himself is somewhat suspected of heresy, and I believe that either the league or the marriage will be carried through. If the Duke would declare himself on the Protestant side, these people would accept him with all the greater pleasure. It appears that Foix has held out great promises of this to the Queen if the Duke once can see her.
I am also informed that Foix has been promised ten thousand pounds if he arranges this matter to the Queen's liking. He and I have visited each other without speaking of business. The duke of Alba will fully inform your Majesty of what Fiesco has done. With regard to Ridolfi's affairs I will still await orders, and I will send Hawkins the reply as instructed, using in future the new cipher sent to me.—London, 27th August 1571.
30 Aug. 275. The King to Guerau De Spes.
Your letters of 12th, 14th, 19th, and 24th July received, and we are glad to hear what you say about the business which Roberto Ridolfi proposed to us, to the effect that it has been dealt with sincerely and straightforwardly, so that no suspicion need be entertained. Under this impression, and because I see that it is so well justified and so entirely directed to the service of God and the advantage of our holy and true religion, and the rescue of a princess so catholic as we consider the queen of Scotland to be, we desire anxiously that the matter may be so conducted as to successfully attain the end in view. We have therefore written, and are now again writing, to the duke of Alba directing him to take such steps and precautions as may be necessary to carry through the business effectually, and to instruct you what you are to do on your side with the same object. We order you, as we have done before, not to exceed in anything the instructions the Duke may give you, as it is necessary that in all things you should act in absolute co-operation, and with the attention, care, and diligence which the greatness of the issue demands.
Notwithstanding what you say of the proposals made by John Hawkins through George Fitzwilliams, yet there is some suspicion about it, because both of them have communicated with Secretary Cecil. We agreed that the affair should be listened to, because we knew that Hawkins with his ships might be of great service in the principal business, if he acted straightforwardly, and this was the reason that Fitzwilliams was treated with, and the conditions and terms set forth, as you will see in the cipher copy enclosed of the deed made between him and the duke of Feria, confirmed subsequently by my order, which the duke will send you with a full relation of the whole affair. He will also tell you the time and method in which you will move in both matters, and you will act as he orders, this being the course desirable for the end in view.
We are very sorry to learn that the two gentlemen you mention, both being Catholics of high position and partizans of the queen of Scotland, should have been cast into the Tower, but as the inquiries against the duke of Norfolk have not resulted in convicting him of any offence which the Queen can punish, we hope that God will help both these and the others and will give them strength and courage necessary to carry out their laudable and Christian purpose.
The negotiations for marriage between the Queen and the duke of Anjou change so frequently from day to day, that it is quite clear it is nothing but a cunning trick, although we do not doubt that if she had the slightest inkling of what we are arranging, she would conclude the marriage, however little she liked it, in order to unite her to France. You will thus see how necessary it is to proceed with such secrecy that nothing shall be known until after it is done, as in this consists the whole issue of the business. We are sure the Duke will so manage it that it will succeed as we desire.
There is nothing to say about the restitution, because I do not believe that the English have any attention of bringing it about, but only to enjoy the goods and money which they have in their possession. You will follow the Duke's orders, however, in this also.
It was well to report the sailing of the pilot Bartolomé Bayon, as I at once had the necessary steps taken to catch him, and advised my nephew, the king of Portugal, to capture him when he called in to take the negroes, that being the place where he can be most easily taken. We do not doubt that the Portuguese will do their best as they are much offended with him.
There is nothing fresh to say about Antonio Fogaza's affair, only that you did well to write what you think of him and the others who are treating of Portuguese affairs there, and I am glad to know that you are promoting these affairs duly.—Madrid, 13th August 1571.


  • 1. Charles Baily, the Bishop of Ross' secretary.
  • 2. This was Paul de Foix who had been French ambassador in England. Cecil's letters to Walsingbam and Foix's own correspondence give a full account of his mission.
  • 3. This Thomas Huggins or Hogan had resided in Madrid for some years as a spy of the English Court until the defection of a messenger of his, as related in previous letters, when he escaped to England. There is a letter from him to Leicester (Cal. of S. Papers, Domestic, 26th June 1572) divulging the practices of the archbishop of Cashel in Madrid and begging to be further employed. He also solicited a grant of a lease of a portion of the sequestrated estates of Sir Frances Englefield.