Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 2, 1568-1579. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1894.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. All rights reserved.
289. The King to the Duke of Medina-Celi. (fn. 1)
As regards England you will proceed in conformity with what was communicated to you here and the Duke's (of Alba) information, although I do not think there will be much to do at present as the Queen has got scent of the business and has arrested the duke of Norfolk and the principal other people concerned. She has also made the queen of Scotland's imprisonment closer, so that, as Don Guerau writes me on the 21st October, they are all in great peril, for which I am very sorry, although I have still confidence that God, whose cause it is, will help us to forward the matter as we wish. You will therefore hold yourself prepared, in case the Duke should write to you at sea, to take any step with this end ; as we have indicated in Clause IV. of your instructions. I have thought well to have it repeated in this letter which for greater security you will burn before you embark. (The words in italics have been added by the King in his own handwriting.)
As I told you here, I have ordered 200,000 crowns to be provided for the execution of this business, 100,000 of which were sent in warrants, some time since, to the duke of Alba, and the other 100,000 have been handed to you in Seville in gold and silver. You will take this money intact, without allowing any part of it to be spent or touched on any account whatever, as it is my will and intention that it shall be kept and set apart entirely for this English business, which I sincerely hope that God will guide in some unexpected way for the good of His cause.—Madrid, 11th November 1571.
290. Guerau De Spes to the King.
By the courier who takes this I am advising the duke of Alba that the earl of Leicester distinctly told M. de Zweveghem last Sunday that they would wait three days longer for Thomas Fiesco and, after that, would at once proceed to sell the merchandise without further delay. This is promoted by a certain coalition of merchants here, who hope thereby at one stroke to become rich. The earl of Leicester will get a large share.
The Queen and Council are proceeding furiously in the condemnation of the prisoners and are urging the judges to declare them all deserving of death, although most of the latter are opposed to this decision. I therefore expect that many of the prisoners will be condemned, as Burleigh says that otherwise the royal authority will be injured in the sight of the people. The matter is now in such a stage that I shall be able to report to your Majesty this week what the result has been.
It seems that Lord Buckhurst will not go to France yet, as he refuses to go unless he has very decided instructions about the marriage. It is now said that Secretary Thomas Smith will go, but he will not leave until the effect of Killigrew's journey is known. Although Killigrew is a little personage, these people think confidently that he will settle the alliance to their satisfaction. It is perfectly marvellous how pertinacious these heretics are. There are men in office who say that it is more expedient to submit to the rule of the Turk, if he will let them have freedom for their sect, than to allow any alteration in it to be made by the hand of Christian princes.
All people, and particularly the Catholics, show great delight at the signal victory which God has given to your Majesty. (fn. 2) In the meanwhile they live here in the most utter servitude which can be imagined.
The king of France has written to this Queen expressing sorrow for the troubles which have arisen here and offering his help to remedy them. I believe this, although I have not been able to get a copy of the letter.
Hawkins tells me that he has obtained secretly permission from this Queen to assail your Majesty's dominions. He has now twelve ships ready and is waiting most anxiously to signalise himself in your Majesty's service. I am sure that, in this and other things, he is proceeding straightforwardly, and it would be very desirable to let him have a prompt decision.—London, 20th November 1571.
291. Antonio Fogaza to the Prince Ruy Gcmez De Silva.
I wrote to your lordship on the 12th May sending certain information in his Majesty's interests and sent my letter by a man who went post. He has just returned to this city after a most unsuccessful voyage. It appears he went to Seville, where he has relations, and embarked at Cadiz on an English ship. When he landed at Plymouth the captain of that port took all the letters and papers in the possession of those who came in the ship, which papers were sent at once to the Council. My man thought best to tear up the packet that he brought from your Lordship for me, for which act I forgave him, because if the letters had been seized I should have had trouble about it, seeing how things are going here now, as is happening to all those whose papers were taken. I am sending the present packet in good hands addressed to Juan Gomez de Silva at the Court of France to whom I am writing begging him to send it on promptly and safely, although he does not know that it is I who am writing your lordship.
I recently met an English gentleman who has been an intimate friend of mine for a long time and who lives in this Court, a fervent Catholic, and a zealous friend of God's service and the aggrandisement of the Catholic church, who informed me of the diabolical league which the English are secretly making with French and other confederates, together with the King whom they think of proclaiming here when this Queen dies, and I set forth all this in a separate statement which I now enclose. My man tells me that they were driven by contrary winds to take refuge at the isles of Bayona, where they found two pirate ships, one a Frenchman, called the "Printemps" of Rochelle, and the other an English vessel called "The Castle of Comfort," which, between them, had a Portuguese ship they had captured of three hundred tons burden with much brass ordnance and muskets ; the crew of which they had killed. My man heard that the crew of the "Printemps" had landed on the island of Gomera in the Canaries and sacked it. When they had returned to their ship the "Castle of Comfort" arrived at the same island and began fighting with the French crew, but they soon came to terms and joined forces. The captain of the English ship with twenty-five sailors thereupon went in their ship's boat towards the island, but the sea being very rough the boat was swamped and the whole of them were drowned. The two ships then set sail and fell in with the Portuguese vessel which, after three summonses, surrendered to them. They ran short of provisions and had to put into Bayona, where they captured the fishermen on the Vigo coast, and made them provide them with victuals. The ships were still there when my man left. This harbour of Vigo and Bayona is the regular refuge and shelter of the pirates as there is nothing there to resist them. It is most important that some defence should exist there to avoid the ravages these people commit. I expect that it is because his Majesty is not informed of it, and I therefore send herewith a statement of my opinion as to what could be done. For the love of God let some remedy be found, because, not only is it in his service but for the welfare of the King's subjects.
At the end of last month I was informed that the "Castle of Comfort" had arrived at the Isle of Wight, and I at once addressed the Council, who gave me letters for the governors of the island and of Portsmouth. I sent a man thither in haste with the letters, who searched the whole ship but only found two negroes formerly belonging to Don Luis Vasconcellos. who left Lisbon a year and a half ago in the said Portuguese ship to be governor of Brazil. He arrived in sight of Brazil, almost, at the island of Santo Domingo, where he remained for five months and most of his people escaped from him. He sailed from there and was driven by the weather in a very distressed condition to the Canaries, where he and all his people were, as I have said, captured and murdered. The captain, master, and mariners of this English ship are prisoners, but they will let them go as they are daily doing in the case of other similar men. I afterwards received news from Plymouth by a cutter which had arrived there from Rochelle, to the effect that the French pirate and the Portuguese prize remained at Rochelle, and they would not allow any person from land to go on board the latter. No doubt Señor Juan Gomez de Silva will have already seen to this as I advised him about it on the 12th instant.
Since the imprisonment of the duke of Norfolk, the earl of Arundel, Lord Lumley, and the other gentlemen, the ambassador has been very suspicious that they might try to arrest him, and truly I was warned, from a well-informed quarter, that his papers should be put into a safe place, and I took a note of his cipher and key ; offering my services to the utmost of my ability in his Majesty's interests. My offer was not only of my poor means and efforts, but, if necessary, of my life, which I will cheerfully sacrifice in such a cause ; for this is a time for his Majesty's faithful friends to show their zeal, and when many of those who in better days were full of fine promises, now turn away and refuse to acknowledge him. It was no sacrifice for a true Catholic to place his life at the service of the King, for it was but his duty to do so for such a Catholic Christian prince, a strong buttress and firm column of Christianity, the Defender of the Roman Church, the promoter of the faith of Christ and the destroyer of the Mahommedan and heretical sects. They subsequently apprehended, by order of the Council, Luis de Paz, a good subject of his Majesty. The business was in the hands of a friend of mine, Dr. Wilson, and, as no one was bold enough to speak about it, the ambassador begged me to do so. By God's grace we managed to get him released on bail, but if he had been taken to the Tower he would not have escaped torture. I will now endeavour to get the bail discharged, and if I am successful, he, Luis de Paz, will leave the country, which is no place now for suspected men.
Antonio de Guaras, a very good gentleman and a faithful and attached subject of his Majesty, has been in the house for the last three years without daring to appear in the streets, which is lamentable. He went out the other day only to congratulate the ambassador on the great victory over the Turk. The discourse here about this victory is set forth in a separate paper enclosed.
Of the prisoners in the Tower who have now to be tried the principal are Sir Thomas Gresham (sic) and others to the number of sixteen, besides the bishop of Ross, Sir Thomas Stanley, the brother of the earl of Derby, Sir Thomas Garret, Thomas Cobham, the brother of Lord Cobham, and Pole, who was in Spain.
The Council was desirous of selling, at once, the merchandise belonging to his Majesty's subjects in consequence of the delay in Fiesco's arrival. M. de Zweveghem, the gentleman who has these affairs in hand, addressed them on the subject, but could only obtain a delay until the 21st instant, as secretly, Benedict Spinola, the Genoese of whom you will know, and others like him, were pressing for the sale of the goods in the hope of getting some advantage for themselves thereby. On the day the goods were to be sold news came that Fiesco was at Calais, and had sent to beg the Queen to give him a security against the pirates at Dover. The business is therefore still pending. There are now thirty-five or forty pirate ships in all, large and small, but those about Dover and the Downs are taking but few prizes. M. de Lumbres has gone to France, it is said with fifty thousand ducats which he has stolen, besides the shares of the Prince of Orange and those of the sailors and soldiers. He left his place to another Flemish rebel called Schonvall. I heard a couple of days ago that M. de Lumay, who is called here Count de la Marque, had left for Dover to take command of all the pirates and rebels there, and I heard several times at Court that he was being greatly caressed. If the fleet is to be governed by his talents it will soon come to grief. The four ships belonging to William Winter which went last March to Guinea and attacked Teneriffe have not since been heard of. God grant that they may have been captured. We have no news, either, from Bartolomé Bayon, although Dr. Nuñez and Cristobal, a new resident here who fitted him out, are hourly looking for him.
An English ship of forty tons recently brought into Plymouth a Spanish vessel with a large quantity of hides and other goods which had been shipped in the Indies. The ambassador at once took steps in the matter and the ship is placed under embargo. Other English ships that have gone thither (i.e., to the Indies) have not been heard of.
On the day before my man left the Isle of Wight, a French ship of three hundred tons arrived there, well manned and found, and a cutter of fifty tons, both from Dieppe. It is said they were bound for the Spanish Indies, but were driven to the island by contrary weather. Twenty sail of war ships have left Havre de Grace this year, all of them for Guinea, Brazil, and the Spanish Indies. The King has ordered me to leave here, but it is impossible now to get a passage for Spain, so I must wait until January when I will sail. I am afraid to go by land as travelling post sorely maltreats me. In the meanwhile I will send advice of anything of importance that may happen.—London, 22nd November 1571.