Simancas: December 1577

Pages 549-552

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 1577

22 Dec.
470. The Queen Of England to the King.
Elizabeth, by the grace of God, &c., &c., to Don Philip by the grace of God King of Spain, &c., &c., health and prosperity, greeting. Three reasons have moved us to send the bearer of the present, Thomas Wilkes, to your Serenity, which are as follows :—
The sorrow we feel for the calamities and miserable events which have befallen your Serenity's Netherlands, the excessive and terrible shedding of Christian blood, and our desire in all sincerity to promote your honour and advantage. Each of these three subjects, if properly treated, will tend to your greater glory and benefit, whereas the neglect of them, either by evil council or oversight, must result in great loss and evil consequence to your Serenity's interests. As the destruction and desolation of dominions hinders kings themselves from founding their power and glory on the opulence of prosperous citizens, and the diminution of public wealth strikes at the basis of the power of those who govern, so is it unworthy of the regal office and dignity to judge harshly those who love and strive for us. However badly good intentions may be interpreted, such is the strength of calumny, we have nevertheless decided to do our duty in this respect to your Serenity and at the same time to satisfy our own conscience, as indeed we have also done, to your Netherlands States openly in the sight of day, our object being to endeavour to arouse in your breast the same compassion for your subjects which has been aroused in ours, and to testify how sincerely and straightforwardly we desire to act, in order that all may be made clear and apparent to you, the bearer takes with him a clear and simple statement of our intentions and designs, in which, if there be any article which requires explanation or elucidation, he will dwell more at length where necessary, he being a secretary of our Council who has been present during the discussion of every part of the document. We have therefore thought fit to avail ourselves of his services in this embassy, in order that he may return with all possible speed with your Serenity's answer. We should have sent a more formal embassy if, as is usual with acute diseases, such a rankling wound as this did not need a speedy means of cure, and we beg very affectionately that all suspicions may be banished from between us, if any such have been raised by the arts of wicked men, with the object of destroying the close friendship which we enjoyed in our earlier years, and that we may, on the contrary, confirm and strengthen such friendship more and more. If your Serenity does not fail in this, we will, on our part, continue ever ready to take the same course.—In our Palace at Hampton Court, 20th December 1577, Elizabeth.
29 Dec. 471. Antonio De Guaras to (Zayas?).
I have written to his Highness that this Queen and Council, convinced that the world was all their own, and that rebellion and heresy would succeed in the States, were of opinion that I was a hindrance to their plans, because I kept my eyes on their evil doings, the plan being to place the dukedom of Burgundy in their hands, and exclude his Majesty from his royal patrimony, made up their minds to seize me by force, as they did at midnight on the 20th of October. They assailed me unawares, searched my dwelling, seizing all the papers they could find, and being surprised that they did not discover what they desired, for four days ransacked the house, in the hopes of finding letters from his Majesty or the queen of Scotland, but as I was already suspicious, I had taken care to place them in safety. They took me prisoner and placed guards over me who were not to lose sight of me, and they still continue to treat me in this way, no one being allowed to speak to me, in order to convince the world of my criminality. Although they have not said anything to me, the Queen and Council attribute their action to the contents of certain letters of mine, which they say they have in their possession, written to the Council of the States of Flanders, which, I understand, were brought here by Champigny in his instructions, as I saw them in his possession when the Grand Commander sent him here. I am sure that he delivered them to these people when he hatched his plots and plans with them on the death of the Grand Commander, although they have informed M. de Gate that they got them from Aldegonde. They are copies of statements which I sent from here, and I do not recollect that they contain anything more than an account of the bad proceedings of these people, and of their continual dispatch of soldiers, cannon, arms, munitions, victuals, and money to Orange and the States, which they affirm to be false, and say they have never sent any help at all to them, and that I am more than wicked for having sent such reports. It is no wonder they deny it to me, for they have solemnly sworn that it is false to M. de Gate, and say they never thought of such a thing and that I am deserving of punishment for my bad offices. They see, however (as the treasurer told the other councillors), that I was in duty bound to do as I did, and that the testimony against me in this respect is not strong enough, so they are now carrying the case further and are asserting that I was in close understanding with the earl of Westmoreland and other English gentlemen, persuading them to take up arms against this country. The Queen begged de Gate to believe her when she assured him that this was the case, whereas really it is simply an invention to conceal the outrage that they have committed in arresting me and seizing my papers. I can truly swear by my fidelity to the King that I never imagined such wickedness, nor has Westmoreland, as I truly believe, ever heard my name. I have never yet discussed any matter touching his Majesty's service which I have not reported fully, and it will therefore be seen by my letters how false this accusation is. I expect that the two men who have been sent from here to his Majesty and his Highness respectively, have been instructed to complain of me, but I can refer to the Portuguese ambassador, who has heard from a good source that they are very sorry for having taken me, and to the French ambassador, who knows that Champigny is at the bottom of it all, so that I should be prevented from giving an account of his evil plots. They were also prompted to seize me in the hope of finding letters from his Highness or the queen of Scotland, as they are very suspicious of having his Highness for so near a neighbour, and no doubt thought they might make use of my detention to liberate Hawkins and Tayler, with their Englishmen, who are in the galleys of the Holy Office, and for whose release the two ambassadors I have mentioned will strive. They have several times been about to release me, but have changed their minds, and I am so closely watched by my guards that I am writing this secretly and in great fear. I hope his Majesty and his Highness will not abandon me.—From this, my prison in London, Christmas Eve, 1577.
Postscript :—Since writing the above I have learned that the Queen and Council intend to proceed against me as a private person, and not as a public one, as I had no commission from his Majesty. Such is the trouble I give them. I beg for deliverance.—29th December 1577.