Simancas: December 1571

Pages 354-369

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

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December 1571

3 Dec. 292. The King to the Duke Of Medina-Celi.
I enclose letters from Don Guerau de Spes, by which you will see that he confirms the news that a considerable number of Flemish rebel ships were cruising about the channel, together with corsairs of other nationalities, all favoured and aided by the queen of England. As you will, no doubt, go well equipped and accompanied by a number of troops, I do not expect they will dare to attack you, but, nevertheless, it will be well for you to compare this news with such advices as you can gather on the coast and elsewhere, and adopt such measures of precaution as may appear necessary lor your safety and that of the fleet. We will keep you advised of what we hear. The duke of Alba will also send out some cruisers to meet you, as we have given him orders to do, which we will repeat.
Conveys the news of the battle of Lepanto.—Madrid, 3rd December 1571.
5 Dec. 293. The King to Guerau De Spes.
Your letters of 26th October received, and the duke of Alba has informed me of your intelligence up to the 31st of that month. I am much grieved at the rigour and cruelty with which the queen of Scotland, the duke of Norfolk, and other Catholics of their party are being treated, although I have full trust that God will shield and succour them. You will comfort and cautiously encourage them in a way not to increase the distrust and dissatisfaction with which the Queen and Council now regard you. You will give them no opportunity for any fresh personal insult, and will advise me of what happens by the safest way, keeping up close communication with the Duke (of Alba) and following his instructions in all things.
Our Lord has been pleased that my very dear wife, the Queen, should give birth to a son, (fn. 1) at half-past two yesterday morning, which lias rejoiced us, as you may suppose. We have thought well to write to you, in order that you may inform the Queen thereof, if affairs are in such a state as in your opinion to make it advisable to pay this compliment to her. Although, in any case, we expect she will not feel any pleasure in this or any other thing which is advantageous to us, at least it will confuse her the more to see that we treat her better than she deserves.—5th December 1571.
12 Dec. 294. Guerau De Spes to the King.
Since my last letters relative to the departure of Secretary Smith, who has been ambassador in France before, this Queen has received news from Scotland that the Regent's party, which held a port called Aberdeen, had been expelled therefrom with great loss by the people of the earl of Huntly and other adherents of the queen of Scotland. It was also expected there that Lord Dacre and other Englishmen with some troops would arrive from Flanders, so that these people here have resolved to send four thousand foot and four hundred horse, with eight pieces of battery artillery and some field-pieces, with the intention of taking the castle of Edinburgh and mastering the whole kingdom. The marshal of Berwick will go with this force, leaving Lord Hunsdon to guard Berwick. The garrison there, which was short manned, is being reinforced, and I believe that the marshal of Berwick will leave here before Christmas and the troops will be raised north of the Trent.
The Queen arrived to-day at her house at Westminster, and, although when she left Greenwich, it is said that Leicester and Burleigh assured her that if she wished to press the condemnation of the duke of Norfolk and his friends, the whole matter was now prepared and the opportunity favourable, the Queen fearing to make a mistake in it, has decided to defer the question until after the holidays. George Fitzwilliams came to me to-day to tell me that the earl of Leicester has again urgently exhorted Hawkins and him to be avenged on the Spaniards, and asked him why they did not put to sea. He told them they had better occupy the Indian seas (these were his words) in order that the Spaniards should not come and help Scotland. He promised them favours from the Queen, and also hinted that they should otter him some of the prizes they took. Fitzwilliams was anxious to find some excuse for going to Spain to learn your Majesty's wishes, as it seems that Hawkins and he are firmly fixed on serving your Majesty, and he is afraid of arousing suspicion, which, up to the present, he has not done. They are distressed and surprised that at such a time some decided orders have not been sent as to what they have to do. (fn. 2) I have entertained them as well as I could, but if the decision is much longer delayed they will have to take some other course, as they have incurred great expense in the fleet which they now have ready. I will report what happens further, and also the answer to be given to Thomas Fiesco. All the Spanish money in the Tower has now been melted down and coined into English silver pieces.—London, 12th December 1571.
14 Dec. 295. Guerau De Spes to the Duke of Alba.
To-day one of the gentlemen of the Council came to tell me that they wished to speak to me, which invitation I accepted, in accordance with your Excellency's orders. When I went was received at Westminster with very little ceremony. Burleigh was the spokesman, and said that the Queen had frequently written to the King and to your Excellency, asking that I should be withdrawn from here, and it appeared as if she were being made a mockery of, as no answer was vouchsafed to her on the point. They therefore wished to know whether I had any orders from his Majesty to leave, and said they were greatly surprised that I had not myself procured such an order, knowing how anxious the Queen was for my departure. I said that I knew nothing whatever about her anxiety, that I was a minister under orders, and, when I received proper instructions to go, I should go, but until I did I should not think of it. He replied that the Queen desired that a certain document under several heads written in Spanish should be read to me. It consisted, if I recollect aright, of statements to the effect that I had written to his Majesty urging him to make war against this country, and also to your Excellency ; that I had encouraged the Northern rebels, and was now doing so to the prisoners. I asked them to give me a copy of the document, as the statements in it were false, and I would answer them. They said they would not do so, as his Majesty refused to listen to John Man or allow him to justify himself ; whereupon I replied that, at least, they should give me in writing, signed and sealed, what they said about John Man. They refused this, and I consequently replied briefly to the points, and told them to produce the letters that I had written to the King and your Excellency on these matters, when the point could be investigated. I said that I was under no obligation to give them any account of what I wrote, that if 1 did wrong there were those who would punish me, and I paid the same thing with regard to their charges about the Northern rebels and the present prisoners. At last, without giving me any further satisfaction, they told me that I must leave the country within three days ; that they would arrange the voyage and have a gentleman ready to accompany me, Henry Knollys, who would remain near me from the present time, which he has done. I asked for permission to send a courier to the King, but they said the voyage was a long one. I then asked for leave to send to your Excellency, but this also they refused. I then said that I could not leave until I had sent to Antwerp to get money to pay what I owed here, and they replied that they would lend me some money, which they could deduct from the proceeds of the merchandise if it was not otherwise paid. I insisted that I must send to Antwerp, but, at last, I had to come away without gaining the point. I will send Knollys to-morrow with a reply to them, out he is a great scamp, and, in the meanwhile, I am getting Thomas Fiesco to send a messenger to Calais with this letter to be forwarded to your Excellency, and I beg you will kindly pay the bearer his expenses and send a copy of this letter to the King. Pray send me speedily, instructions what I had better do, and if you think well to send me a letter, not in cipher, to show to the Council it will be well, but send all other letters under cover to Thomas Fiesco. I will see whether they will let me send a courier, for they are certainly much upset. No doubt they have already made sure of the French, although M. de la Mothe, who came yesterday to smooth over the French business, told me that the matter was not so favourable to the English as they thought, aud related to me that his master was much surprised at the mode of departure of the ambassador Don Francés de Alava, as matters were not in such a state as to need a similar demonstration. As I did not know what had happened I said it was, no doubt, in consequence of some suspicion which Don Francés had against the Huguenots, who had threatened him for some time past, and I dwelt on the point of friendship as much as possible. But they are all going on a bad road, and Cavalcanti, who is ready to leave, was, I believe, only waiting to carry with him news of the events of to-day. It will be necessary for j'our Excellency to order Fiesco or someone else to provide me with money that I may pay my creditors.
When I left, Burleigh said he would give me a letter for the King. Your Excellency will instruct me whether I am to take it without seeing its contents first.—London, 14th December 1571.
21 Dec. 296. Guerau De Spes to the King. (fn. 3)
I got Fiesco yesterday to send a man to Calais with the letter to the duke of Alba, copy of which I enclose, but I doubt whether they have let him pass as the ports are closed. I therefore send this servant of mine to the Duke to beg him to send me credit enough to get away from here, and tell me what he wishes me to say to the Council on my departure. I cannot stay any longer, as they have ordered me to go to Canterbury and there to await the return of my servant, on the excuse that John Man was served in the same way in Spain, for they are very impertinently harping on this business now. I will do my best to await my servant here, although I am told that Guido Cavalcanti is waiting with his foot in the stirrup, in order to take with him news to the French that I am out of London ; which, it appears, they have promised them as an earnest of their bad intentions towards your Majesty. This is the reason of their hurrying me, and in the meanwhile they are keeping Fiesco in suspense without giving a reply, and, indeed, hardly take the trouble to discuss the matter. We both fear the issue, although there is some idea that they may settle Fiesco's matter in order to please the London people. With regard to the rest of the goods and ships to be recovered, it is believed they will negotiate no more. In order to separate me entirely from the business, they are announcing that they are expelling me the country, but I for my part am pretty sure that they will do nothing good of any sort as their hearts are thoroughly corrupted, and perhaps, when they have made sure of France, they will carry out the extremity of rigour on the prisoners which may be expected from the Queen's own threats.
Besides negotiating so closely with the king of France for the offensive and defensive alliance, they are still sustaining Admiral Chatillon in his action in not surrendering the fortresses to the King, and they will take the present opportunity to try to seize the castles and strong places in Scotland, all of which will cause the greatest injury to the Netherlands and all Christendom. The one idea here is to diminish your Majesty's power, and the business is now really serious.
Robert Huggins, whom your Majesty in your clemency was pleased not to punish, excepting by expulsion from your dominions, is currying favour with the Council, being with them constantly and giving them information how best to injure you. He is now served by a certain Spaniard, and I have found means to get hold of one of his statements taken from his room. I have had it copied with speed and send the copy enclosed. The lad tells me that his master has recent letters from Spain, telling him of the favour your Majesty has bestowed upon the son of the duke of Feria, and reporting that the duke of Medina-Celi's fleet was coming with some design against this island. If I can get hold of any more of his papers before my departure I will do so.
The Council has adopted a new means of conquering Ireland, which is to give the lands to those who go and take them at their own cost, as you will see set forth in the little printed book which I now enclose, translated into Spanish.
I will await the orders of the duke of Alba and of your Majesty. The members of the Council told M. de Zweveghem yesterday that they wished to write to your Majesty the reasons for this sudden order of theirs, although he says he thought they were much confused and very uneasy about it in view of my answer. They would not give me a copy of the four or five complaints which they read to me in Spanish, although I offered to justify myself on all points, as also respecting the reprisal which they said they were making for John Man's affair. I am now trying, by means of this gentleman who is to keep near me (Knollys) to get a safe conduct for the voyage, as they are replying very coolly about my security and escort. In the meanwhile Lord Burleigh is celebrating with great festivity at the palace, the marriage of his daughter with the earl of Oxford. The son of the earl of Worcester is married also to the sister of the earl of Huntingdon, which means taking two families away from the Catholics.
The marshal of Berwick leaves on Wednesday to collect the troops with which he is to enter Scotland, but a gentleman will precede him to give notice to those in the castle of Edinburgh.
I have arrived now at the 18th without having received a reply, excepting a passport for my servant, but the Council will decide after to-morrow both as to my safety on the voyage and as to my leaving the city at once or not. This was because they saw how firmly I insisted upon not leaving here until my servant came back.
On Sunday, the Queen, being somewhat freed from these marriage feasts, despatched Cavalcanti, who has now gone, and said to him aloud, so as to be heard by those present, that he was to assure the king of France, the Queen-mother, and Monseigneur that she was desirous of effecting the marriage, that being her determined resolution and the wish of all her subjects, and particularly of her friends the confederate Princes ; making a sign with her hand, as she said it, towards Germany. The only thing, she said, which was now awaiting inquiry, was the scruple of religion in which she begged the King and the Duke to be gentle for the common benefit of all, but that, if this were impossible of arrangement, she was quite ready to agree to the conclusion of the alliance which had been carried so far already by M. de Foix and her ambassador. The offensive and defensive alliance, she said, should be an extensive one, and provided with such securities as the King might think fit until it were confirmed by Parliament here. The king of Spain thought he had it in his power to separate her from the alliance whenever he pleased, but however accommodating he might show himself in the negotiations about the property seized, and however ready to agree to terms favourable to the English, she said she would never trust Spaniards again, seeing the trouble they had prepared for her in Ridolfi's plots with the Pope. For his share in the discovery of these plots she warmly thanked Cavalcanti, and said the king of France might see how little she cared for the king of Spain by the way she had ordered his ambassador to be gone without delay. She would like Cavalcanti to have seen him already on the road, but under some excuse or another about money matters, he was here for a day or two longer, though she could assure him he should not stay in the country, and she did not care very much whether another came or not. She begged the king of France to favour and consult the Admiral and M. de Montmorenci, and to expel and punish the Guises, who are Hispaniolised traitors. It behoved him also to notice that the king of Spain was getting more and more powerful, having gained so great a victory over the Turks, and if the queen of Scotland were to prevail and ever reign again, it would be a bad thing for France and should be prevented. She also told Cavalcanti to inform the king of France of the good offices performed here by the earl of Leicester, and how he was hated by your Majesty in consequence. She puffed up Cavalcanti himself with hopes of reward.—London, 21st December 1571.
297. Guerau De Spes to Zayas.
You will see by his Majesty's letters and copies the extraordinary news from here, and the evil portents of disturbance. I will follow the orders of the duke of Alba, even though I be sent to the Tower for it. In the meanwhile your worship will favour me much by ordering provision to be made for the payment of my expenses, ordinary and extraordinary. I shall be glad also to learn whether the money I have spent since the date of my memorandum will be paid in Flanders or otherwise. I shall need money there in order to avoid necessity, and I beg you will not fail to remind his Majesty, the Cardinal, and councillors about this, for really my troubles here are too heavy, and not to be believed excepting by those who witness them. The hearts of these heretics are overflowing with venom, and nothing good can be expected from them. They proceed with great artfulness and dissimulation, pending the conclusion of their league. Until then they are ambiguous and cover their designs with some sort of excuse, speaking quite differently from what they act, and vice versd. They have spies everywhere and have changed from braggarts to watchers. They will make themselves masters of the Channel, and at one blow with their practices in Flanders will plunge that country into a dreadful war. It is no use to speak of our lost opportunities as they have gone by, but by one means or another, steps may still be taken to make our enemies weep in their own country, that they may not interfere in other nations. The people here think they have the duke of Florence completely in their interests, although, perhaps warned to that effect, they are now saying nothing about him. As your worship is my friend, in whom alone I can trust, you will pray look to my reputation and advancement, as all shall be used in your service. I do not know who is to have the French post, but I would willingly accept it in order not to have to break off my correspondence with you. I have no letters from the King since September, and my last from you is the 9th of October. Interim valeo cunctis undiques rabies canibus vale tu et nos ama.—London, 21st December 1571.
Postscript.—I think that, when I have left here, it will be undesirable to have a Flemish ambassador here in consequence of the close connection between the peoples, but, if there is to be one, I think Zweveghem is about the best, although it would be better to have a Spaniard with the title of agent, who would keep his eyes open. The most fitting man for this would I think be secretary Aguilon, who knows the state of feeling here, and who could go backwards and forwards at the discretion of the governor of Flanders.
298. Guerau De Spes to the Duke of Alba.
As I do not know whether a letter I secretly wrote to your Excellency two days ago will have got through, I send this servant of mine to pray your Excellency to send instructions with all possible speed as to what I am to do about my hurried expulsion by the Council. They are extraordinarily pressing to get me gone, and I have not yet been able to learn anything about the safety of my journey. In the meanwhile I will do my best to await here, unless they turn me out by force, as doubtless these Councillors have some strange design either to encourage and reassure the French by this insult, in order to bring them to conclude the treaty, or else to carry out some rigourous executions which they fear the people might resent, and which they would prefer that the Spanish ambassador should not be here to witness. Or they may wish, perhaps, to give Thomas Fiesco worse terms than those agreed upon. Both he and M. de Zweveghem, as they write to your Excellency, are now suspicious that they are being deceived. Everything is going badly, and I am afraid some great evil will arise therefrom, for Don Juan's great victory has alarmed them much, and they are trying to counterbalance the effects of it. All the rest your Excellency will see by enclosed duplicate of my last, and I will await most anxiously your reply, and the provision of a credit, as I shall soon have two years' money owing to me, and I must pay over three thousand crowns here. I do not even know yet whether they will make me pay for my passage if it be in a Queen's ship.
If your Excellency thinks well, you might order Thomas Fiesco to pay me the six instalments due, deducting therefrom the two thousand crowns he has given me. I have not received anything for my extraordinary expenses, but will leave that until I salute your Excellency, and tell you verbally what has happened. I again supplicate your Excellency to provide me with the above money, either through Fiesco, or Velutelli, or other, and send back my servant at once in order that these savages may not be tempted to some greater insult.
Your Excellency will kindly say whether I should make a point of insisting that the Queen should send me a copy of the Spanish document, which was read to me by the Council, and of the order given to me to depart within three days, and the Council's remark about reprisal for what was done to John Man.
It is well that you should know that the Admiral has gone to fit out the Queen's ships, and I am assured that the intention is to declare war against his Majesty. They have given Zweveghem and Fiesco very unfavourable answers to-day, as they will write to you. I have told them that they are to dissemble, and pretend not to see the intention of breaking with us, in order to have time to advise your Excellency, and take necessary steps. Whilst I am closing this I am assured that they are arming to prevent the passage of Medina-Celi.—London, 21st December 1571.
24 Dec. 299. The Duke Of Alba to the Duke Of Medina-Celi.
Assures him that he may come with his fleet in perfect safety from the pirates, who are all very mean fellows, and dare not attack two armed ships, but have only assailed little packet boats and the like, as they are not the sort of people to run much risk. Since he (Alba) had issued his proclamation forbidding less than eight ships to leave port together, none have been touched. Expresses the utmost impatience for his coming, and begs him, if doubts of the sea hinder him, to come overland with four or five post horses as fast as they can carry him.—Brussels, 24th December 1571.
30 Dec. 300. The Duke Of Alba to Guerau De Spes.
On the 28th in the evening your servant arrived here with your letters of 14th and 21st, with copy of your letter to the King, which I will send forward on Monday. I summoned the councillors to show them these despatches, and I have decided to write to the Queen a letter of credence for Zweveghem, to tell her that I beg her to wait for the despatch to reach the King's hands, and for his decision upon the subject to be received, which I have no doubt will give her every satisfaction and contentment ; but if she should decline to wait even these few days for you to leave, I beg that she will be good enough to give you the necessary help and safety to allow you to arrive in the King's dominions. This touches her own dignity, as, she being the mistress of her realm, can act at her discretion. Notwithstanding that I should be very glad for you to remain there until the receipt of his Majesty's reply, if this should be against her wish I would request that M. de Zweveghem be allowed to stay until his Majesty sends some other person to attend to his affairs. I have also written telling Zweveghem that if they offer him any letter or explanations he is to take it very willingly, and you should do the same, without asking them for any copies thereof, as such a thing has never been done with sovereigns, excepting for some special object, as was the case when Chapin insisted upon a copy being given to him in order to make the Queen recognise me, or send the letter by a person to his Majesty. Even in the case of a rupture a letter should be taken. You may disabuse your mind of the fear that any rupture will take place, as they have no such intention. It is quite laughable to speak about their preventing the passage of the duke of Medina ; in the first place, because they are not strong enough, and in the next, because this is not a time for them to break with us, as I will explain to you when I see you, with other things to the same purpose. If the Queen should still insist upon your departure, you will leave at once without any more dispute, which can only give rise to further trouble, but you will still ask for a safe conduct for your passage. I am writing to Thomas to pay you the six instalments now due, taking into account the twenty-three thousand crowns (2,300?) recently paid. With regard to your extraordinary expenses, they shall be paid here after your arrival, with other things which I do not now mention, in order not to detain your man. I have ordered your servant to return with all speed, and, in case he should find you gone from London, he will at once deliver the letter to Zweveghem. When you have received my two letters, and that of his Majesty, and the other letter to the Queen, informing her of the birth of the Prince, I think you should give the latter letter to Zweveghem, in order that he may hand it or send it to the Queen, as you would have done if you had been on good terms with her.
As regards the negotiation of Zweveghem and Thomas Fiesco I have written to them telling them to await the document which those people were going to give them, because, if their new demands can be met, it is his Majesty's wish to settle the matter as well as possible, and close this incident of the seizures.
You say that Santa Cilia has been so many years in England that it will be better to rescue him, so that he may not lose his soul. You can bring him with you without any fear that he will be punished for any past offence.—Brussels, 30th December 1571.
Postscript.—After this had been written an English merchant arrived here post in great haste, bringing a packet from the Queen containing two letters, one for his Majesty, and the other for me. In both of them she excuses herself with very fair words for the order given to your worship to leave the country, and asks that another person should be sent as ambassador, whom she is ready to receive. I have thought well to send the above despatch, which was already written, as I have only to refer you anew to its contents.
301. Relation of the Ambassador, Don Guerau De Spes, respecting English affairs (amongst the papers of the year 1571).
Don Guerau de Spes arrived in England on the 3rd of September 1568 and on that day also Cardinal Chatillon disembarked at Rye. The latter immediately began his efforts to draw the Queen's councillor's on to the side of the French Protestants, and measures were adopted by which the English, the Flemish rebels, and some Frenchmen were to arm and assail, indifferently, French ships and those belonging to your Majesty's subjects. As those belonging to the French were of little value, it was resolved mainly to attack those belonging to your Majesty's subjects, the councillors in the meanwhile pretending that this was done without their assent. They even took certain measures ostensibly for the recovery of the plunder, but these measures were only feigned and were countermanded by anticipation, in order that the property might be delivered to the pirates.
Two months after the ambassador's arrival in the island, four cutters with treasure on their way to Flanders arrived in England, and although the Queen promised a passport and armed ships for its safety, which offer the ambassador submitted to the duke of Alba, pending the reply from the Duke, the Queen and Council, having been assured by Benedict Spinola that the sums on board the cutters were large, determined to seize the money, thinking thereby greatly to incommode Flemish affairs, doubtless with the knowledge of Spinola, who having a commission of twelve thousand crowns for the cost of transporting the money, said that that sum was not enough, and that he had written for a larger commission.
The Queen, notwithstanding her promise and the passport she had signed, which is carefully preserved by the ambassador, seized the money, except that contained in two of the cutters, which, favoured by fine weather, made bold to sail for Antwerp, in spite of the pirates. The Queen thereupon spoke to the ambassador in a very changed tone, saying that the money was not for your Majesty's service but for that of certain merchants. The ambassador sent a full statement of all this, together with copies of the letters of Lopé de la Sierra, captain of the vessel which brought most of the money, to the duke of Alba, who then ordered the detention of English goods in Flanders, but the English having been advised in time of this and also given information to those who had ships in Spain, managed to save the greater part of their property. They then detained the ambassador with much arrogance and disrespect to your Majesty for six months, with guards of gentlemen and soldiers over him. They also treated councillor D'Assonleville improperly, he having been sent by the duke of Alba on a mission to England. They then began robbing more publicly than before, furnishing your Majesty's rebellious subjects with facilities for arming and becoming pirates. These latter brought their prizes and prisoners to the country and were allowed to sell and barter their booty with impunity. The insolence of the councillors reached such a pitch that they dismissed the Marquis Chapin Viteli in the way that your Majesty knows.
The principal person in the Council at present is William Cecil, now Lord Burleigh, a knight of the garter. He is a man of mean sort, but very astute, false, lying, and full of all artifice. He is a great heretic and such a clownish Englishman as to believe that all the Christian princes joined together are not able to injure the sovereign of his country, and he therefore treats their ministers with great arrogance.
This man manages the bulk of the business, and, by means of his vigilance and craftiness, together with his utter unscrupulousness of word and deed, thinks to outwit the ministers of other princes. This to a certain extent he has hitherto succeeded in doing. Next after him, the man who has most to do with affairs is Robert Dudley, earl of Leicester, not that he is fit for such work, but because of the great favour with which the Queen regards him. He is a light and greedy man who maintains the robbers and lives by their plunder. He is ungrateful for the favours your Majesty has granted to him, and is greatly inclined to the French party, from whom he receives an allowance. The other man who has his hand in the government is the Lord Keeper, or guardian as they call it, of the great Seal. He is an obstinate and most malignant heretic, and, being Cecil's brother-in-law, always agrees with him. The Admiral does not interfere very much in arranging matters, but he is a very shamless thief without any religion at all, which latter also may be said of the earl of Sussex. The latter also belongs to the Council and is a more capable man than any of the rest. He has shown signs sometimes of wishing to serve your Majesty, as he is an enemy of the earl of Leicester. The earl of Bedford also belongs to the Council. In person and manners he is a monstrosity and a great heretic. There are others of less authority than these men, lawyers, creatures of Cecil who only repeat what he says. They have recently admitted James Crofts into the Council ; he is secretly attached to the Catholic party and your Majesty's service, but dares not speak very openly.
Two great opportunities have recently offered themselves for your Majesty to master the island, by means of the duke of Norfolk and of the earls of Westmoreland and Northumberland. The object of both attempts was to promote the claims of the queen of Scotland, and although the Duke is a prisoner under sentence, which it is now said has been executed, and the Earls with their friends are out of the kingdom, the same opportunity will occur again if the matter is handled with care.
It also appears that, whenever your Majesty pleases, you can take possession of Ireland, which will be to open the easiest road to gain and hold England.
If, on the contrary, the English are allowed to continue their robberies, as they have done for the last four years, they will become very rich and the more encouraged to cause disquiet in the States of Flanders, as they have openly tried to do recently.
The English, seeing how they have offended your Majesty, and believing that, even though they returned the merchandise, your Majesty would only await an opportunity to punish them, and provoked also by the fact that much of the merchandise had already been distributed, broke off, without the slightest reason or excuse, the treaty they had made with the duke of Alba, all points of which had been agreed upon excepting a very few. They sold all the merchandise and dismissed M. de Zweveghem and Thomas Fiesco, who were in England for the conclusion of the treaty. All this action of theirs has been greatly aided by the business having been allowed to drag, and the uneasy rumours which had arisen in Flanders respecting the tenths. This rumour was at once taken advantage of by the English and the French, who put themselves into communication for the purpose of forming a league and confederation. The English believing, rightly, that the French were displeased with the aid given by the Queen to the Protestants in France against the Christian king, have been attracted by the bait of a marriage between the duke of Anjou and the queen of England. This has been brought almost to a point, leaving only one small matter of religion open, in order that they may be able to break it when they please, and, in the meanwhile, seduce the French into an offensive and defensive league, making use to this end of Marshal Montmorenci, whom they have created a knight of the Garter, and who is considered an enemy of the house of Guise, to which the queen of England bears great hatred. They have also promised and given great things to M. de Foix who came to England on the business, and, in this way, matters have succeeded with them hitherto, as the French have completely abandoned the queen of Scotland and her party, being now quite reconciled to seeing that poor lady so close a prisoner, her ambassador cast into the Tower of London, and all her Scots servants banished. Your Majesty will already have had detailed reports of the plots which are being woven against your Majesty and your dominions, but, in order the more to gain over the French and ensure their goodwill, the queen of England has expelled Don Guerau de Spes from her country, under the pretext that your Majesty had acted similarly towards John Man. Up to that time the French had asserted that the Queen was cultivating friendship for France with the object only of being better able to negotiate with your Majesty, and she wished by thus expelling the ambassador, to give them an assurance of her sincerity. The league has therefore been concluded and a Parliament is being held in England for the purpose of confirming it. Marshal Montmorenci is expected there, and the Admiral of England is to go to France. In the meanwhile, they have planned the capture of Brille and the rising in Zealand. The ambassador had information of the designs against Brille six months before the execution of the project, and duly advised the duke of Alba at the time. All this will convince your Majesty that the queen of England neither loves nor respects you as she ought to do, and as for her Council, they do so still less, as they are only thinking of robbing your Majesty's subjects and overturning your Netherlands, in order to divide them between themselves, the duke of Anjou and the prince of Orange ; to destroy the Catholic religion in all parts, keeping the Catholics in England in miserable oppression, do the quern of Scots to death because she is a Catholic, and raise a heretic king to the throne when the Queen dies, with the object of dominating Scotland. Your Majesty has many means of becoming master of Ireland, raising the Catholic party in England, placing a legitimate Catholic king on the throne, and suppressing the pirates, whenever you desire to make use of these means with the energy that so great a business demands. Above all, vour Majesty should be pleased to order that the prohibition of trade between the two countries should be re-enacted and most rigidly enforced under great penalties. No ships should go to Spain from Flanders without strong convoys, and the same on their way back, besides being armed powerfully, and with the aid of the ships of your subjects your Majesty would thus be made stronger in those seas than the fleets of English, French, and pirates.
The ambassador gave a full account to the duke of Alba of the advantage to be obtained from John Hawkins and his ships. It was considered at the time to be a very costly project, having in view the terms of the agreement which had been drafted with him. The ambassador thereupon said that he, Hawkins, should be dealt with by other means, seeing the power and will he had to serve your Majesty. The Duke, however, deferred the consideration of it, but, when your Majesty thinks fit to make use of Hawkins, he can be communicated with in cipher, as has been arranged. It also appears desirable that the English gentlemen now in Flanders should be entertained and paid the amounts which your Majesty is good enough to ... (fn. 4) them, that they may be able to join your Majesty's service.
302. Document headed : "Translation from the Latin of points submitted by certain of the Councillors of the Queen of England to Don Guerau de Spes."
That the Queen, their mistress, had heard that certain fugitives and rebel subjects of hers had arrived in Spain from Ireland and persuaded his Majesty to give them help to rise, which purpose had been favoured by some of his Majesty's Councillors of State, who had given these men good hope, in order that they might write to the leaders of the rebellion. The Queen, however, could not persuade herself to lose faith in the prudence, justice, and old friendship of his Majesty, nor believe that he would give any such help. The Queen is all tlie more assured of this because it will correspond with her good wishes toward the King, as she has given him no reason for offence and has done nothing by which his dominions might be disturbed, albeit she has been importuned by many to do so. She has, on the contrary, always been most careful to preserve old friendship and banish the annoyances consequent on the detentions. Having heard from trustworthy sources that Thomas Stukeley, a man of evil life, dissolute habits and a traitor, was in great favour with his Majesty, who was aiding and encouraging him in his preparations, and that an armed force under the command of Julian Romero (fn. 5) was being collected, she had not been able to refrain from communicating this to Don Guerau so that he might advise his Majesty, and the Queen might learn clearly and openly his Majesty's intentions upon the subject.
The Queen had also decided to send one of her servants to represent to his Majesty her feelings on the first subject mentioned and also the sorrow she felt with regard to the second subject, in which his Majesty's action was very different from that which she had expected, and he would also inform the King that, if he had been advised of any armament she was fitting out, she wished to say that the sole object of such armament was to defend herself and her people and only to offend those who provoked her ; as it was not fitting that she, being a vigilant sovereign, should be unprepared in the sight of so great a tempest, to defend her dominions and attack those of his Majesty, if he should be so badly advised to appeal to arms rather than to peaceful means to settle difficulties, which she was so desirous of arranging amicably by a general restitution and the confirmation of old alliances. She had hitherto abstained from offensive action, notwithstanding the many provocations she had received.
Lastly, the Queen wished Don Guerau to be informed, in order that he might convey it to the King, that she would persevere in her observance of their old friendship, which it was not her wish or will to break, on the understanding that his Majesty's intentions were similar to her own.
The Councillors requested Don Guerau to give them a safe conduct for Henry Cobham to go to Spain and return in safety.
They also asked him to write to the duke of Alba to say that if he heard that the Queen was fitting out armaments, he was to understand that they were for the purposes aforesaid and not to attack his Majesty, unless she were first provoked thereto.
303. Plan sent by Don Guerau de Spes for the recovery of the property detained in England (amongst papers of the year 1571).
The first thing that seems necessary is a general restitution of the money seized and also of all merchandise stolen and detained, which can be proved to be still in hand, such goods being delivered to the owners with an inventory, in case they should allege that any portion be missing. As the queen of England has taken ships, money and goods to a very much greater value than what is detained in the Netherlands and Spain, and, either by carelessness or malice, a great quantity of this has been stolen in various parts of England, it is necessary that the restitution should first be made by the English, it being certain that the goods and ships detained in the dominions of his Catholic Majesty are, as has been said, greatly inferior in value to the portion which is missing of the goods seized in England. For this reason and for greater security it seems advisable that the restitution should be made as suggested, pending the satisfaction of all claims by the Queen in favour of subjects of his Majesty in this country, from a date subsequent to the arrival of the ambassador. After the Queen has complied with this or assured its compliance by sufficient security from the City of London, in order to avoid trouble to herself or her treasurers, and all parties have been duly satisfied in England as is fitting and just, the duke of Alba and all officers of his Majesty will make an entire restitution of all English property in all parts. On neither side are more costs to be paid than those justly and duly incurred.
If her Majesty, the queen of England, should desire to appoint commissioners for the recovery of the stolen property, she may do so, naming persons of honesty and good conscience and experienced in matters of cargoes and valuations of merchandise, other commissioners being appointed by the interested parties, in order that jointly they may estimate the true value of the property stolen, taken, given, or wasted by the fault of the Queen's officers. The same course will be pursued in the dominions of his Catholic Majesty and, if anything is short of that detained on the other side, his Majesty will make good the value thereof.
Item.—All persons, subjects of either of the two sovereigns, who are under detention in consequence of these seizures, shall at once be restored to liberty and have returned to them their arms, clothes, and money in their possession at the time of their arrest, or the value thereof, in addition to the restitution of the afore-mentioned merchandise. If any such persons should have incurred any cost in their maintenance whilst in prison, this shall be honestly reimbursed to them, excepting what may have been given to them out of charity.
Item.—All persons claiming to have any interest in the recovery of any of these things shall have free permission on both sides to come to either of the said sovereigns' dominions to obtain their property or take such steps as may be necessary ; coming and going with all safety or sending other persons to represent them.
Item.—All corsairs both subjects of the said sovereigns or others shall be detained.
It is agreed, in accordance with the maritime law and the treaties now in force between the two royal houses, that all property stolen or appropriated by pirates should be demanded of them by summary process, both by the recapture of goods and ships and the punishment of such pirates and their abettors, and also that measures shall be duly taken to prevent any corsair from arming or taking refuge in either dominion, under heavy penalties in addition to those imposed by the afore-mentioned existing treaties.
Item.—If either the queen of England or his Catholic Majesty should demand that commissioners should be appointed on both sides for the purpose of continuing the negotiations commenced at Bruges, this shall be done, and they shall discuss and remedy any abuses which may have arisen in the observance of the existing treaties and shall remove all obstacles to the commerce and friendship between the subjects of the respective sovereigns.
It appears convenient, having regard to past events and the kindness necessary to be maintained between the Queen and his Majesty the King, that such honest satisfaction should be given on both sides with regard to recent matters as may seem desirable to persons of good judgment and intent.
Item.—In order safely to convey money to Antwerp, or wherever else the duke of Alba may wish, the queen of England will if requested provide an armed ship to protect it, the expense of the same being duly reimbursed to her, and no other charges shall be paid in respect of such money except those that are just and necessary.
In order to recover the money which certain private French and English citizens have stolen from private Spanish subjects, all help possible has been given by summary order, and those who may appear to be guilty of such robberies shall restore what they have taken and be punished, or the restoration shall be made by the officers who may have consented to the theft, so that the money in any case shall be recovered ; as is just.


  • 1. Don Fernando, Prince of Asturias and heir to the crown. He died at the age of seven.
  • 2. In the King's handwriting ; "Care must be taken that this is not upset for us, like everything else."
  • 3. This and the two following letters were written on the 16th but not closed until the 21st.
  • 4. The paper is torn here.
  • 5. This man had been a soldier of fortune in the service of Henry VIII. and Edward VI. and had distinguished himself in Scotland and elsewhere. He had seen much service and risen to high rank in Flanders. He died in 1577. See "The Spanish Chronicle of Henry VIII." (London, 1889), which gives a curious account of his life in England.