Simancas: August 1577

Pages 542-544

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.


August 1577

27 Aug. 463. Antonio De Guaras to (Zayas?).
On the 12th instant I sent my last report, copy of which I enclose, and on the 3rd and 4th I sent a packet of letters to the Antwerp postmaster who requested me, through the postmaster here, not to send him any more. I have however, news from him that he has received my packet, but has not ventured to send it on. I wrote telling him to return the letters if he could not forward them, and afterwards sent copies of them to Capelo with my said letter of the 12th. I will send my future letters through him, as there is now no means of sending to Flanders.
M. de Lumay is representing Orange in this Court, and, although they greatly caress him, the probability is that the Queen and Council will give him no help ; but time will show. Her man Davison is with the States and will go to Orange, it is believed with the intention of urging the Queen's good offices to arrange a settlement.
It is now asserted publicly that the three Queen's ships and the private vessels that accompanied them had arrived within sight of Rochelle, but the equipping of the four or five other Queen's ships which were being fitted out here has been suspended.
They write from Dunkirk that a courier, coming from Spain, had been captured at Gravelines and taken to Brussels.
The soldiers of the Prince of Orange remain at Neuport, this being the place which he was so desirous of getting, as will be seen by his own letter which I forwarded some days ago.
The so-called "States" of the prince of Orange, encouraged by this Queen and Council, are understood to be resolutely determined to persevere in their heretical rebellion, the intention being to appoint Orange the Governor, although he does not trust them. It was a fortunate hour when his Highness got clear of them, as it had been settled, through the wiles of Dr. Wilson and others, to attempt their wicked purpose against the person of his Highness. I have certain information of this from a person who heard it in Brussels from Wilson, at the time he was leaving to come here, so as not to be in the States when the thing was done. He had been ordered to return hither, in order to make the public believe that neither he nor the people here had any knowledge of the wicked plot. Thank God, however, his Highness, having no doubt some suspicion of them, saved himself by leaving them. In order to conceal their wicked treachery and the vile plots of the people here, they have made up certain letters in cipher which are being circulated, pretended to be from his Majesty and his Highness, and to have been captured by the man they call Navarre and sent hither, although they really have been concocted by the Queen and Council and sent to Orange and the States. (fn. 1) The letters purport to contain directions to his Highness to entertain people with dissimulation, until he can by force or fraud get into his power a large number of the principal persons who are named, and then kill them. Matters are now in such a position that, unless some steps are taken to prevent these people from sending aid to Orange and the States, it will be waste of time to continue the present guerilla warfare. People who are well versed in the matter say that the only remedy will be the aforesaid one, and to utterly harry the land by means of foreign soldiers of various nations, rather than lose it. The two friends continue to offer to do the service mentioned, (fn. 2) and are in hopes that provision will be made for them to undertake it. The other friend has sent word that he is awaiting them. I am informed by them that the ambassador Smith has given the Queen a very different account of his embassy to that brought by Cobham. The latter has been much blamed and attacked at Court about it, he saying that his Majesty was well disposed to the preservation of the friendship and alliance, and that his power and resources were great, Cobham being of opinion that it will be well to propitiate him ; whilst Smith reports that the King is very much offended with the Queen and is not inclined to be conciliatory, although at the same time his own trouble is very great and his needs so pressing that he is unable successfully to deal with Flanders. He says, moreover, that Spain is discontended and in some danger from the Christian King, and that an unfavourable answer was given to him (Smith) respecting the English prisoners of the holy office. All this has caused the Queen and Council some anxiety, notwithstanding their pride, but they expect to find a way out from all their trouble by sending aid to Flanders. The States are intending to send Zweveghem hither, and it is said that Arschot comes with him. I understand from Brussels that the Governors there are not badly disposed towards his Majesty's service, but that secret information with regard to them is given to Orange and the States by a secretary named Francis Grote. A Scotchman of position named Lord Seton has passed here on his way to Brussels, and another Scotchman who resides there has said that upon his arrival the Scotch would perform some notable act. I am hourly expecting letters from the queen of Scotland, who I learn is well ; I will communicate her reply to the letters sent.
There are many indications that the earl of Leicester intends to carry out the project I have spoken of, and the fortress is being prepared, the rooms being fitted with scrupulous care. The people murmur that the intention is to bring thither the queen of Scotland, and if the Lord Treasurer has been with her it has been managed very secretly. I shall soon learn and will advise. A secretary of the Council named Beal is now preparing at Court to leave, to visit Orange and the States, and afterwards to go to Germany to see Casimir. I learn from a good source that the object is against France. The Queen has had a great quarrel with the French ambassador about some damage which the French are said to have done to her island of Alderney, near Guernsey. I learn that in the States the offices and positions are being distributed as if there were no master, and doubtless the same will be done in the Provinces, although I hope that these friends who are desirous of serving us may find means of taking Ramequin, where, I am told, there are not ten men to protect it. The friendly captain has given them notice and sent victuals and stores for more than a year, so that the place can be held for that time or until help arrives from us, which cannot be prevented. This may be a means of introducing troops and gaining the island and may lead to the perdition of all the States. Even though the help our friends demand do not arrive, they are determined to employ their own means and undertake the task, treating with his Highness afterwards for their reward. They expect a hundred thousand crowns for it. I have told them that, whilst they are making their arrangements, I shall doubtless have a letter from his Highness which will inform them what is to be done on our part. They appear determined, and I am therefore sending orders to Capelo to send the present messenger or another on to his Highness about it.—London, 27th August 1577.


  • 1. These letters are probably those, four in number dated respectively the 6th, 7th, 8th and 19th April 1577, which will be found in the British Museum, Cotton Vespasian, C. vii., p. 357. They are of the highest interest, but as they make no important reference to English affairs, they do not come within the scope of the present calendar.
  • 2. i.e., the betrayal of Flushing by Colonel Chester and others for a sum of money.