Simancas: October 1577

Pages 547-549

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

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October 1577

4 Oct. 466. Antonio De Guaras to (Zayas?).
On Sunday the 29th of September, St. Michael's Day, the earl of Leicester invited the Marquis Abreo (Havrey) to dinner in the Great Hall of the Council in Windsor Castle. There were at table the earl of Warwick, Lord Hunsdon, Captain Horsey, Sir Thomas Gresham, and some others, and during the repast, the Marquis began to speak of affairs in Flanders. He talked of the plots which he said had been arranged by Don Juan, and how they had been discovered. He said that in Spain there was a Fleming, much favoured by the King and in his close intimacy, of whom the Spanish nobles were very jealous, in consequence of his friendship with his Majesty. This Fleming occasionally discussed State matters with the King, and endeavoured to persuade his Majesty to treat the States with mildness, and not by severity to sacrifice dominions of such importance. The hatred of the nobles at length reached such a pitch that on this Fleming leaving the King's chamber one day, he was arrested by the Alcalde of the Court in the King's name, whereupon he, astonished to find himself a prisoner, raised a great uproar, but was nevertheless taken off to prison, where he was kept for thirty months. At length, there being nothing proved against him, he was released, and the King sent him with Don Juan to Flanders, where he enjoyed the entire confidence of his Highness, and knew all his secrets. On one occasion Don Juan sent him with a letter of credence to the States in Brussels to discuss certain matters with them, and on his arrival there the States ordered his arrest, and threatened him with torture if he did not reveal the secrets and intentions of Don Juan. After pressure he at last consented to reveal them and put them all in writing. They were of such a nature that the nobles saw that it was time to look to the safety of their lives and properties which were in jeopardy. Leicester replied to this story that it might well be that this declaration was made under the influence of fear, but the Marquis said that this was not so, because the man is at liberty and can go whithersoever he pleases. He said it was all being printed in order that the princes might know of it.
He also spoke of the escape of the Duke, (fn. 1) his brother, and said that he pretended one day to want to try the speed of a courser, and when he found himself outside of the town, put spurs to his horse, and arrived at a village two leagues off, where he put the people on their guard, and pursued his way to Brussels. Octavio de Gonzaga followed him within an hour with twenty horsemen, but they were detained by the villagers, and were thus prevented from overtaking the Duke. The Marquis told all this at table in the presence of those who were in the chamber. The following Monday the Marquis invited the whole of the Lords of the Council and other gentlemen to an entertainment in his lodging, which is at Eton College, a quarter of a mile from the Court, where he gave them a grand supper.—London, 4th October 1577.
Note.—The original draft of this letter, with corrections, in the handwriting of Guaras, is in the British Museum.—Cotton, Vesp., C. XIII.
467. Antonio De Guaras to (Zayas?).
Time will certainly prove the sinister intentions of the Queen and Council. With the greatest astonishment I learned from a friend at Court, that a friend of his had told him that Secretary Walsingham had communicated to him the iniquitous plots which these people are carrying on with the Marquis, the States, and the prince of Orange ; the object of which is to root out entirely, as they think, the name and power of his Majesty from the States. The intention is to form a new Council of twelve persons, one of whom is to be an English noble, and this Council will elect a native of the States to be duke of Burgundy for life. It is expected that the person to be selected will either be Arschot or the prince of Orange, and the Queen on her part, will undertake to defend him whenever necessary with seven thousand well armed soldiers, maintained at her own cost until they are landed in Flanders, after which the States are to pay them. The Catholic religion is to exist there for a time, but, for the satisfaction of the people, a national Council will be called to declare liberty for their heresy, in the belief that, by these means, they will entirely alienate the people from their obedience to his Majesty or the Governor representing him. They have sent an embassy to the Emperor justifying their actions and offering to recognise him as their superior. The fortresses are to be razed, and the towns are to be open and without castles. The Queen has sent promising them liberal aid in victuals, stores, and money, and the forces are to be commanded by the earl of Warwick, Leicester's brother, his lieutenant being Lord Grey. The people here, however, are murmuring that if public aid is thus sent against his Majesty, trouble will come to them by way of Scotland or Ireland, which may put this Crown in danger. The friend that went on the service about which I wrote (fn. 2) has returned here after having communicated with the other principal on the matter. He says that, without being provided with what they ask, they cannot carry the business through, and, as I have already said, it will be necessary for a person of confidence to go and speak with the principal friend and convey to him the instructions of his Highness. My friend tells me that everything is well disposed for the performance of the service. As it is said that the ciphers are read, I am suspicious that the present one is not so obscure as it ought to be, and I am therefore writing with suspicion. The merchants here have been conferring with the Council respecting the sending of their merchandise and bread-stuffs to the coast of Spain, and they have been told not to be in a hurry to send more, as there are fears that the two sovereigns may appeal to arms. It is, however, the people on this side who are desirous of war, and will certainly commence it, if opportunity is favourable to them ; but they (the English) have in Spain at least a hundred well fitted ships and more than a million's worth of property, besides two thousand five hundred mariners, so that if they do not cease helping the States, we have a fine pledge in hand belonging to them, the seizure of which would divest them of a great part of the wealth of the country, without our troubling to put pressure on them through Scotland or Ireland. With this pledge in our hands we could bring them to our own terms, and they would not dream in the meanwhile of helping Orange or the States. They must be paid in their own coin.—London, 4th October 1577.
31 Oct. 468. Juan De Aguirre to Zayas.
The only object of this letter is to inform your worship that on Saturday the 19th instant at midnight, the sheriff of this city with an armed force, in the Queen's name, entered the house of my master Antonio de Guaras, arrested him, and seized all his papers, placing him in a house under guard, and four or five days afterward, they sent him to the house of the sheriff who arrested him, where he is at present detained so closely that no one is allowed to see him or speak to him. This has certainly been a most extraordinary proceeding for which there has been no occasion given. His steward was taken at the same time, and lodged in the goal with condemned prisoners, where he now is. God deliver us from these troubles, for I promise your worship that, unless some remedy be sent from there, my master, Antonio de Guaras, will find himself in sad trouble, as will all of us in his household, for we are much distressed. With all earnestness I supplicate that you will let his Majesty know of this, in the hope that deliverance may be sent to us.—London, 31st October 1577.


  • 1. The marquis d'Harvey was Charles de Croy, a brother of Philippe de Croy, duke of Arschot, the leader of the Catholic Flemish nobles, who had separated themselves from the Spanish cause.
  • 2. The betrayal of Flushing, etc.