Simancas: June 1578

Pages 587-604

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

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June 1578

3 June. 501. Bernardino De Mendoza to Zayas.
I wrote on the 16th and 21st, and have only received your letter of 29th April which came to hand on the 29th May. The cause of this delay you will have learnt from my other letters. I am much grieved that my correspondence is so much delayed, and, although I never have the pen out of my hand, my efforts are unfortunately of little use. As if this were not enough, beside the difficulty of getting my letters to Paris, Juan de Vargas answers a request of mine that he should send some special messengers to his Highness, that I must consider the cost of it, as there are many claims upon his small means there. I advise you of this as some excuse for the delay of my letters.
You will see by the letter to his Majesty what is occurring here, and I can assure you that, if money is provided for me, much may be effected. If I am kept short of means all my gold mines turn out to be dross, and, even if there were no chance of winning over some of the ministers here, affairs are in such a condition that it is of much importance that his Majesty should have some one here of position to inform him of the schemes which are hatching. These are infinite in number, and of considerable importance, mostly promoted by Leicester and Walsingham. I have been able to gauge affairs since I have been here, and already see the results of my presence, as the English think that as I was sent by his Majesty, my words will be listened to, and they are therefore more encouraged to be on our side. I presume to speak thus openly because it seems desirable for the King's service, and I trust you will find an opportunity of representing my views to his Majesty.
Regarding the seizures of property, formerly made in this country, the settlement arrived at was that whatever goods were found on either side which had not been registered might be claimed by their owners, and when their right was proved, the property should be handed to them. If no claimants appeared, the sovereigns respectively should take them. In virtue of this, English goods have been restored to their owners by your Majesty, but I am informed by an Englishmen that he knows of quantities of money in the hands of Englishman, which was not declared, and the owners of which did not appear ; the larger part of the money being in cash. He suggests that your Majesty should claim this money, promising him a share of it, on his declaring where these sums are, and he would get the Queen speedily to restore it. If you think well, you may give an account of this to his Majesty, as it will be better that the money should be given away than that it should be kept by those who have stolen it.
I am informed again from Rouen that my wages will only be paid for six months, and the need I shall be in through this, to his Majesty's dis-service, obliges me to ask you to inform the King thereof, and direct Garnica to continue the credit, as well as sending me another credit for my extraordinary expenses. I do not send an account of my expenditure herewith for want of time, but it must not be imagined that I can raise a penny here, or become a banker. M. de la Motte, (fn. 1) has written asking me to send him some saltpetre and cross-bow strings from here. I am doing my best to fulfil this commission. I have also advised him of certain things hereof which he should know, in the interests of the safety of that fortress.
I learn nothing fresh from Flanders, excepting about the reduction of Philippeville and the rout of the Frenchmen, but Don Juan has written to me under date of the 6th ultimo, expressing his satisfaction at what I am doing here, and has ordered me to be paid in Paris what was owing to me on account or my company until the end of April.
After sealing this letter I received advices, dated Antwerp, 28th ultimo, that the people at Mons had arrested M. de Lalaing for attempting to introduce Frenchmen into the country, whilst in Amsterdam there had been a great revolt, in which the Protestants and Anabaptists had got the upper hand of the Catholics, and had expelled from the country all friars and priests, but there is no certainty of this.—London, 3rd June 1578.
502. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
On the 21st ultimo I wrote to your Majesty an account of affairs here, and reported the intention of sending Lord Cobham and Secretary Walsingham to the States on behalf of the Queen. I am now given to understand that this course has not yet been decided upon definitely for two reasons ; the first being that a gentleman was sent from here last week to Orange in order to ascertain whether it was at his request that the French were coming, so that the Queen might resolve what to do. It seems that the answer sent was that the States were greatly pressed for money and men, and as she, the Queen, did not openly espouse their cause, they were obliged to turn to the French, but they would at once desist from the French connection if she would undertake to find them the help they needed, by which means the States would remain friendly with France, (fn. 2) whilst he, Orange, would be in a stronger position, having Antwerp on his side, which was the point which principally interested the English. I have been making great efforts lately to get to the bottom of this, and it is clear that people here are not quite able to understand Orange's proceedings, of which they are suspicious, many people thinking that he is deceiving them, and is getting too closely bound up with the French, whilst others believe that it is merely an artifice to urge the Queen to provide the needed succour more liberally and speedily than hitherto. If the help sent is not quite so grand as they would like, it is nevertheless sufficient to keep them in hand until the English can get to the truth of the matter, as men are recently slipping over in considerable numbers to the States, and the twentyseven thousand pounds sterling which I mentioned have been taken to Antwerp. From the latter place the Queen has received news that your Majesty is in agreement with the king of France, and that the coming of the French troops is a subterfuge. The second reason for doubt about the going of Cobham and Walsingham is that the Queen is awaiting the reply of the gentlemen she sent to the king of France, to explain to him the reasons why she had not allowed Gondi to go to Scotland, and also to endeavour to discover whether the departure of the duke of Alençon was by consent of the King and his mother, and what forces he had with him. If these were so large as to prove that the King had provided them, and that the two brothers had thus taken upon themselves the war in Flanders, the gentleman was instructed to address the King in the terms I mentioned to your Majesty in my letter of the 21st. If, however, it turned out that the king of France was not in league with his brother the gentleman was to approach Alençon and the Queen-mother and try to arrange with them to send four thousand or six thousand infantry and two thousand horse to the States and no more, this Queen undertaking to send a similar force, and that together they might thus succour the States, and keep your Majesty busy. The English ambassador in France is much, alarming the Queen by his reports, some of which have not much foundation. The last news he sends is that the going of the Huguenots to the States had caused the duke of Lorraine, and Guise and his household, to retire to Lorraine, where they had raised three thousand horse and a force of infantry.
They say the earl of Leicester will leave this week for Buxton near Derby, ostensibly to take the baths there, the place being only twelve miles from where the queen of Scotland is ; great suspicion is engendered here about his going, as Walsingham, who is his familiar spirit, will be away at the same time, and the abandonment of business by both of them at once seems to prove that the matter they have in hand must be one of great importance. All the Councillors are extremely jealous and distrustful as the design, whatever it is, is kept closely between the Queen and Leicester. Some of them even say that she is the person who is being deceived ; Cecil being one of those who is most anxious about it.
The English consul at San Lucar reports that Stukeley had arrived at that port with ships and men provided by the Pope, it is feared for the purpose of landing in Ireland. The Queen has ordered six of her ships and two great ships to be armed, and Frobisher, who was ready to leave on his expedition to the mines and Cathay, has been ordered to delay his departure and accompany the rest as far as Ireland, from where he can start on his voyage if there is no disturbance there ; so that all the ships that are ready will be dispatched thither. The Queen has also sent to Ireland the earis of Ormond and Kildare, who has been detained at this Court for a year.
The ambassador who I said was on his way to Scotland has been ordered to stop on his way, and the king of France who was about to send to Scotland a Norman gentleman named Mandeville has been requested not to do so by his ambassador here. This Queen sent Sir Orlando York to Casimir ten days ago respecting the levies of men, and Thomas Randolph is going to the Diet of Germany with three legists and three Puritans (who are called spirituals) to assist in the discussion of religious questions.
There are some firms of merchants here who trade in Spain, the principal of them being George Bond, Alderman, and nephews, who send three hundred thousand crowns' worth of wax a year to the coast of Biscay, Whiteman and Hermon, and John Spencer, both of whom send as much. I understand that they bring back most of the value in cash, which may well be the case, as one cargo of wax, even of one hundred and fifty tons only, will be worth thirty or forty thousand crowns, whilst the whale oil they bring back as cargo will not be worth more than two thousand crowns, the rest of the proceeds of the wax being withdrawn in money, with which no one is trusted unless he be an Englishman. Most of this comes through Biscay although some of the business is done in Seville.
There is a ship here ready to go to Barbary with a great number of dogs and well trained horses on board, and some dresses, presents, for the king of Fez, who is at war with Portugal. The assertion is made that they are going to bring, back saltpetre, but there is a certain Julio here who claims to be descended from the princes of Jaranto and who, it is thought, is a Morisco. He speaks eight or nine languages beautifully and is closeted for hours every day with Leicester and Walsingham and sometimes with the Queen. I do not know what he is up to, but it is believed that he will go in this ship, and has been heard to say that he will be revenged on your Majesty.—London, 3rd June 1578.
503. Bernardino de Mendoza to the King.
On the 16th ultimo I wrote to your Majesty about the ships which had been fitted out by Humphrey Gilbert, and although it is given out that he is bound on a different voyage from that undertaken by master Stockwell, it is believed that when they are out at sea, they will join together and go towards the Indies, unless there be some disturbance in Ireland or Scotland which should detain them. They are taking with them a Portuguese called Simon Fernandez, a great rogue who knows that coast well and has given them much information about it. He has done the King of Portugal much dis-service in consequence of the large amount of property which his subjects have lost here through him. When Champigny was here it was agreed with the earl of Leicester, in his own chamber, the Queen being present, that the way to be safe from your Majesty and to injure your prosperity was to make the Indian voyage and rob the flotillas, if they could not set foot on the coast itself, as by this means, they might stop the receipt by your Majesty of so much money from there. Orange continues to urge this course, he being of the same opinion.—London, 3rd June 1578.
4June. 504. Bernardino de Mendoza to Zayas.
At the last moment a letter from Ghent, dated 1st instant, has arrived here saying that they have expelled from that place all the clergy (religiosos) and two sermons had been preached publicly on the same day. They do not confirm that Lalaing is a prisoner, but that he had had a difference with the people at Mons and his lieutenant had gone to see Don Juan.—London, 4th June 1578.
505. Bernardino de Mendoza to Zayas.
After writing and sealing the enclosed my spies who are watching Julio report that he is trying to deceive them, and says that he is not going in the ship which is sailing for Barbary, but the contrary is believed to be the case, as the vessel has gone to the mouth of the river to await fine weather for her departure, and yesterday he Julio, went down to the shore. The ship is called the "Mignon". and if she should touch at a Spanish port and Julio should land, it would not be undesirable that he should be seized, as he is certainly plotting some villainy. He is a lean man of healthy appearance, bent, and of the colour of a Morisco, which he probably is. He usually looks on the ground with his left eye as he walks.
They tell me also that Orange is to send some ships to the coast of Spain, but the business is being forged here, so that I do not think there is very much in it, but I have thought well to mention it as nothing is lost by vigilance.—London, 4th June 1578.
10 June. 506. Bernardino de Mendoza to the King.
Saltonstall and two other merchants, subjects of this Queen, have had a ship confiscated at San Sebastian in consequence of a certain sum of money having been seized in her and the ship not being the property of the master who commanded her. I have been requested by the Queen to write to your Majesty to beg that you will have the business disposed of speedily and justice done, as it certainly will be, by your ministers.—London, 10th June 1578.
507. Bernardino de Mendoza to the King.
I wrote to your Majesty yesterday, and since then the Queen has received news of the arrival on the 2nd instant off Bristol of one of the ships with which Francis Drake sailed from Dartmouth in November 1577. There were three ships and two sloops, (fn. 3) the intention being as I have already told your Majesty, to plunder the Indies. Various news has been current here with regard to them, some saying that they were lost and others that they had landed at Camarones (Camaroons). This ship-master, however, relates that, after they had victualled for the second time in Barbary, they had gone to discover the Straits of Magellan, but at the entrance thereto they experienced so great a tempest that most of the sailors mutinied and refused to proceed on the voyage. Drake, understanding that the principal ringleader was an English gentleman on board of his ship, (fn. 4) arrested him and put him on his trial, the judges being the sailors themselves, who condemned him to death, but, as none of them would execute the sentence, Drake himself did so and with his own hand cut off the man's head and proceeded on his voyage through the Straits. The tempest increased to such an extent that this ship could not follow when the other vessels had entered the Straits. The captain tried to stand by in the hope of continuing the voyage when the weather abated, but the sailors refused and forced him to return to this country. The captain has not yet seen the Queen, but she and her ministers are much pleased that the English have succeeded in making this voyage. When he arrives I will advise your Majesty what I hear.
The three ships which I wrote had left with Fortesoue for the purpose of robbing on the track of the Indian vessels took with them a great pilot named Harper (?) who had been twice before on the same voyage. The ships have had an encounter with two vessels of the king of Denmark, one of the latter being burnt whilst the other one escaped. One of the English ships in which Harper was, went to the bottom.—London, 10th June 1578.
11 June. 508. Bernardino de Mendoza to Zayas.
I wrote to you on the 3rd and 4th, and you will learn by my letter to the King the decision arrived at about Antonio de Guaras, in whose favour I have done everything that I could.
They have informed me that his Highness's servant who was arrested here had brought for Guaras a credit of a thousand crowns, which, perhaps, may be the sum which his Majesty requested his Highness to give him in consideration of his imprisonment. I wrote to his Highness about it, saying that I had also received a credit of a thousand crowns for Guaras, and requested instructions. I have no reply, but Guaras is in such great need that it will be necessary to give him something for his departure from here. The Queen sent to thank me for writing so many letters to his Majesty and to you on behalf of her subjects. Pray pardon me the trouble I thus give you, as although their requests may not be granted, yet it is something to please them by willingly giving the letters for which they ask ; and it helps to facilitate matters if I can keep in their good graces.
With regard to the negotiation about Ramequin, Don Juan instructs me to find out whether there was anything serious in it and to give him my opinion. I have done so, and have told him that I do not think there is anything in it at present. (fn. 5)
Four days ago a ship of eleven tons arrived here from the Indies in a very bad state, another of a hundred tons which was in her company having been lost. Captain Baker commanded both of them, and most of the men in the expedition landed and were lost. If this sort of reception were always extended to them, and their ships and men sent to the bottom in this way, they would not be so fond of undertaking the voyage. It is understood that the Queen has ordered the master to be arrested for not having stood by the other ship and crew.—London, 11th June 1578.
509. Bernardino de Mendoza to the King.
On the 3rd instant I wrote to your Majesty, and on the same day they carried Antonio de Guaras to the house of the Lord Keeper, Chancellor, when he was informed, in the presence of Secretary Wilson and Councillor Walter Mildmay, who had examined him, that the Queen, in the exercise of her clemency, ordered him to leave the country within ten days, notwithstanding the offences he had committed against her, as appeared by his own letters which were exhibited to him, and which were not in any way privileged, as he had no commission to write as he had done. He replied that the commission was merely a matter of form, and they knew very well that things were not as they said ; he retorted on many points, and, after much altercation, which ended with little satisfaction for Guaras, he was sent back to prison again, with orders that neither he nor the two servants of his, who are to be exiled also, were to communicate with me.
The Queen's agent in Antwerp has informed her that Lalaing is at issue with the States and is dealing underhand with the French, whilst he holds the town for your Majesty. This would be most important, although I have no confirmation of it, and I have only heard of it from the one quarter. Although the Queen's ministers sometimes report things which are not true, this matter is making them suspicious, as they recollect what happened at Gravelines.
The ship which is to take Cobham and Walsingham over has sailed for Dover, and they will sail as soon as they arrive thither. Thomas Randolph and Harry Wall (Wallop?), who are Puritans, accompany them, and I am informed that, if they cannot arrange with his Highness for your Majesty to concede similar terms of peace to the former ones, they will urge Orange to destroy the religion and churches, and so bring things to submission in the same way as has been done with France.—London, 11th June 1578.
13 June. 510. Bernardino de Mendoza to the King.
Since my last, there has arrived here one Cook, master of a ship which two years and a half ago left for the Indies in company with another ship, both being commanded by Master Baker. He says that some of their men landed on the mainland near the Rio de la Hacha, where they remained a year and a half about the Camarones (Camaroons?). It was they who robbed the son of Don Cristobal de Eraso, their prize, however, being recaptured from them at once, with twenty thousand crowns more that they had stolen from other people. This Cook had eighty men on board of his ship, which was the smaller of the two, of whom only fourteen have returned, but he can give no account of Baker or the others, as he, Cook, and those with him escaped from the land in a launch, as they call it, with which they afterwards captured a little sailing ship, which brought them to the Scilly Isles off Cornwall. It was said that the Queen had ordered Cook's arrest for having returned without his captain and crew, but it is not believed that the arrest will be carried out, as he is talking of returning in the ships which are being taken out by Humphrey Gilbert, moved by the hope of gain, notwithstanding past experience. The Queen has given permission for Gilbert to sail, and to Frobisher also. I am having this shipmaster shadowed by spies, in order to discover whether he starts on the voyage, and to know for what purpose Gilbert wishes to take him. I am very hopeful now of being able to obtain a chart of Frobisher's voyage.—London, 13th June 1578.
511. The King to Bernardino de Mendoza.
Since you left here fifteen of your letters have been received, all of which have been much delayed. From them I learn what had passed with the Queen and her ministers respecting my Netherlands, and I fully approve of your proceedings in respect thereto, which were in accordance with your instructions and my wishes. No further orders can be sent to you other than to continue as you have begun, and to follow the instructions you may receive from my brother, Don Juan of Austria, as he, being on the spot, will be the better able to judge as to what course should be pursued there. You will, in the meanwhile, continue to deal gently and amiably with the Queen and her ministers, this being the desirable course at present. Send me a copy of the instructions given to you by my brother on your arrival, as he has not sent them, no doubt believing that you would do so.
In one of your letters were received the three pieces of ore mentioned therein, and, the assay having been made of them here by persons of experience, it has been found that what looks like gold is really marcasite. The other two little black pieces were nothing at all, so that, bearing in mind what you write of the large quantity of ore brought and the rich result of the smelting, it is probable that the person who gave you the three pieces did so in order to appear complaisant and throw us off our guard here, or else that, as they brought several different sorts of ore, they have concealed what was of any value. You will therefore send the other pieces which you say you have and any more you can get, so that we may see whether there is any greater value in them than in the pieces you have sent.
They have not told you the truth either, apparently, about the navigation, because, if they went to Iceland, which is said to be in latitude 65, although they afterwards ran down to 62 degrees, which is the land they call Labrador, it is difficult to believe that in so cold a region there can be any richness of metal. It is very necessary for the investigation of this matter that you should get the chart you speak of, and we urge you much to make every effort to obtain it and send it to us.—The Wood of Balsain, 13th June 1578.
512. Bernardino de Mendoza to Zayas.
Since I wrote on the 11th, the Queen has appointed Lord Howard to be Admiral of the six ships which are being litted out, with Henry (Philip?) Sidney, a nephew of Leicester's, to be ViceAdmiral ; the other captains being selected men. It is understood that these ships will take three standards of infantry raised by the Guilds or trained-bands of this city, although some suspect that they will go over to Flanders. Walsingham is going there, and he is such a devilish heretic that he constantly favours those like himself, and persecutes the Catholics, in order to pledge the Queen more deeply to his way of thinking. I am told that, some months ago, he went to examine a Catholic prisoner and asked him if he held the Queen to be excommunicated. The Catholic answered that he did not concern himself with that matter, and did not know whether she was or not, but Walsingham put down that he (the prisoner) held her to be excommunicated. He then asked him if, the Queen being excommunicated, he considered that she ought to be obeyed as sovereign or not, and the prisoner answered him the same way as before, but Walsingham put down that he had said that, being excommunicated, she could not be Queen. He then went to the Queen with the so-called confession, and told her that this was a proof of what Catholics in general thought, from which she could see what it was desirable to do with them.
The Queen came into the presence chamber the other day, and read a letter from Casimir saying that he offered to serve her on horse or foot with twenty thousand men, anywhere and for anything.—London, 13th June 1578.
513. Bernardino de Mendoza to the King.
I wrote to your Majesty on the 11th what I had heard about the going of Cobham and Walsingham. I have since learned that Pelham, Master of the Ordnance to the Queen, who is a sort of general, is going with them to reconnoitre his Highness' forces minutely. He is a man who is in their confidence, and they think he will understand the matter well, being a soldier. He is afterwards to go to Casimir and give him an account of what he has seen, returning with him to the Netherlands ; Captain Villiers (?) is also to go, and is subsequently to visit the Landgrave of Hesse, to ask him to send by him to the States two thousand horse. Peter Aschio (Haselby?) is going also to take the two thousand Scotsmen back again who were in the service of the rebels before, and left Holland for Sandwich when the peace was made. Master Lee is to go for the purpose of bringing Count Swartzenburg's cavalry, as the Queen wishes to have people of her own in all the forces which go to the States, so that they may act in conjunction with the respective commanders, and she may thus be better informed as to their proceedings. The are also to advise the commanders of the best road by which to enter the States with safety, in accordance with Pelham's opinion. As regards this, Pelham will not be able to give them much guidance as his Highness will not not remain in one place, but will go where need may call him.
Ernest Brabazon is also going with them. He has already served Orange, and knows the language well, his task being to treat with some of the Germans who serve your Majesty, and particularly with ..., (fn. 6) and persuade them to mutiny, and other things of the same sort. He is also to try to get some of them to give information to the States and to Orange as to the movements of the army, and he depends upon his friendship with some of them and his own cleverness, to get them to do this.
They also say that negotiations are being carried on with the Prince of Condé for him to send from Gascony and Guienne in the Queen's ships four thousand Gascons to aid Orange in Zealand, the ships being sent to that coast on the pretext of taking merchandise, and bearing the passport of the king of France. Winter of Norfolk has been appointed to go with the ships, and I am informed that in addition to what I have already advised, Cobham and Walsingham's principal instructions are to urge the States to place the English troops and commanders selected by the Queen into certain fortresses which she desires to have in her hands in view of eventualities. She thinks by this means that the fortresses may be held by her without her asking the States to formally surrender them to her or appearing distrustful of them. Orange will warmly favour this and the other things they desire. It is thought that the envoys will remain over two months there.
The Queen has received news from Ireland that Stukeley's ships have been sighted, and she has sent with all speed a son of James Crofts, her Controller, to Sidney, the Viceroy, urging him on all accounts to bring the earl of Desmond to submit to her favour. He is at present plundering in the mountains with a number of his people, and she wishes to persuade him by promising that she will not allow his great enemy the earl of Ormond to leave here, but that if he will return to her favour she will make it more profitable to him than if he allows Stukeley or Sir John Fitzmaurice to land. The latter is an Irish rebel, who has been in exile in France, and is also reported to have left there for Ireland. Desmond is told what enemies they are to him, and how they will make war upon him if they are allowed to land.
The Queen gave Frobisher leave to sail on his voyage, but with instructions to put into an Irish port, and if he found any disturbance there, he was not to proceed without further orders.
It is said here that affairs in Scotland are now harmonious, and Walsingham consequently summoned Morton's agent, and told him that the Queen was much surprised, seeing that she had done so much for the peace of Scotland and Morton's own aggrandisement, that the latter had not communicated his opinions since the conventions which had taken place.
He (the agent) replied that he himself had not received letters from Morton for a long while, and as it was only the interior questions of Scotland which were at issue, he did not wish to trouble his neighbours with them, which he, the agent, thought was the reason for Morton's not writing. Parliament is to open there on the 25th instant, and the King of France has informed his ambassador here that he will send M. de Pepin thither, although it is not known whether he will go by sea or through this country with the Queen's passport.
The Countess of Shrewsbury whose husband is guarding the Queen of Scotland has come to see the Queen, it is said on private business, but it is rather suspected that it is respecting the queen of Scotland's affairs as Leicester entertained her on the way, and is lodging her here in his house. He, Leicester, is having a meeting with his brothers and kinsmen at the place where he is to take the waters (Buxton).
The French ambassador had audience with the Queen on the 11th, when she complained of the departure of the Guises from his master's Court, saying that she could not avoid being very suspicious of it, and that they had gone with the King's consent to negotiate something with his Highness. He excused it, and said that children might believe those things, but not a person of her experience in Council.
As I was dispatching a courier express to his Highness with my news, Cobham and Walsingham came to see me, and told me that the Queen had instructed them to inform me that she was sending them to his Highness and the States, and she had no doubt that some badly intentioned persons would tell me that it was for the purpose of fanning the flame, but they were to assure me that the only object was to promote peace, and, with this aim, and to know how they should bear themselves towards his Highness, they desired to know how they would be received, asking me to give them my advice and a letter for him, and that they would go first by the States in order to be sure of their intentions. I answered with very sweet words, and with as much double dealing as Walsingham himself, and said that, so far as I knew, I could assure them that his Highness would receive them very well as ministers of the Queen, and particularly as they came in the interests of peace. I said that peace had been, and was still being, constantly offered to the States by your Majesty, as would be seen by the way in which his Highness had graciously treated, in your Majesty's name, those countries which submitted themselves to him with an acknowledgment of their past errors, and the same treatment would be meted out to the rest if they opened their eyes and repented of their misdeeds. We conversed on the subject for nearly two hours, but I will not trouble your Majesty with a repetition of what was said. At one time they began to bluster, but I replied even more loudly in the same strain, which was in accordance with my instructions from his Highness, and they thereupon trimmed their sails. I told them that I had sent to request audience of the Queen, to ask her to order all Englishmen in the States to return, they having left without her permission, as she herself had confessed to me ; and that, if she did not do so your Majesty would resent it as being contrary to the alliance and treaties between the two countries, and they would feel severely the evils which would result to them for this violation of treaties in thus helping such contumacious rebels.
They replied that, if they did not prevent it, the French would take the Netherlands, in which case they then protested they could not avoid sending aid to the States ; to which I replied that I also would protest very strongly if the Queen did anything of the sort, as it was a violation of neutrality, but they might be sure that, the States being your Majesty's dominions, would be retained at all costs. I said that if they thought of adopting any such course they would lose much more in France than they would gain in Flanders, and that the way to checkmate the French was certainly not to send English troops to the States, but to join forces with your Majesty, if you needed their help, which you did not. They always returned to the same point, namely, that the whole business depended upon your Majesty's conceding to the States the agreement of Ghent, to which I again replied that I believed his Highness had already replied to the Queen on this point by Beal. They asked me whether his Highness would be annoyed at ambassadors being sent to endeavour to bring about peace, to which I replied that he would not be so, as was proved by his efforts to avoid hostilities with them. At their request I gave them the letter for his Highness, of which I enclose copy. Cobham is only going for the sake of appearances, and I am assured that if the wind change in this country he will not be amongst the worst of these people, as he is much aggrieved against those who are now rule, although he does not show it. So far as I could judge, their principal object in coming was to discover from me whether your Majesty would concede the Ghent agreement and abate the war, as they said that if you did not do so the States would be lost. They are making great pardons and promises of favour to the English in the Netherlands if they will return hither or help them in their designs. The name of the German captain who is to be approached is Peter Vanest. I could not learn this before as it was not in the instructions, but hidden in Walsingham's breast. A courier came in great haste to the French ambassador on the 11th from the King. There was no money to give him in Paris, and he had to take an order on the receiver at Amiens where he waited a day and a half before he could get any funds. He (the Ambassador?) went the next morning to a house near to where the Queen is, and saw the earl of Sussex and Secretary Walsingham. I have not been able to ascertain what the business is, but have been told that the king of France desires to know the reason why the Queen is equipping ships, and requests a passport for an envoy he is sending to Scotland. It is more probable, however, as I am told, that the business in hand is concerning Scotland, as the ambassador went the same evening to a place three miles from here with only his secretary, which he does not often do, and it is believed that the French are attempting to get possession of the prince of Scotland, and take him to France, they having in their interest six of the Governors, who, however, hate the business.
The Queen dispatched, in a great hurry, on the 11th, Thomas Brown to France, West to the Prince of Condé, and another gentleman to Scotland.
I had asked for audience of the Queen for the purposes I have mentioned, and have just received a letter from his Highness instructing me to inform her about the success at Philippeville and other things. I will duly report her reply.—London, 13th June 1578.
17 June. 514. Bernardino De Mendoza to Zayas.
The irresolution of these people is the cause of the uncertain way in which I send my letters. I have had some long talks with them, and the only way for me to keep my temper is to bear in mind that I am one of the school of the Duke (of Alba) and a soldier of his. I fancy they have repented of their attempt to bully me, seeing that the answer I gave, which was such as I thought the case demanded.
The Queen has ordered seventeen hundred bullocks to be slaughtered at Portsmouth, and seven hundred here, besides a like number in the Isle of Wight. Great quantities of biscuits are being made in the Tower and at Plymouth, and butter and many other things of the same sort are being got together for the victualling of the ships. I am told that in Flushing they were arming ships and I therefore sent a man to get information about it. He says that it is true, and that they said they could get together a hundred crookstems, and although the number seems exorbitant yet as they draw but little water, are swift and can bear cannon, I have thought well to report, in order that, considering their description, an opinion may be formed as to whether they are likely to be for the Indies, Barbary, or elsewhere.—London, 17th June 1578.
515. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
After closing the accompanying letter ready for the courier, Stafford, whom this Queen had sent to France, arrived here on the 13th, which was the same day that Cobham and Walsingham came to see me when they told me they would leave on the following day. His arrival, however, has delayed their departure, and I have consequently thought well to keep the letter back, particularly as I was to have audience with the Queen on the 15th. When I saw her I gave her an account of the surrender of Philippeville. She said that such successes, being against your Majesty's own subjects, could give her but little pleasure. As regards ordering the English to return from Flanders, she said that they had left without her permission, and, as they were people of small account, they would take good care not to return to her country, and they were not of sufficient importance for her to order them to do so. I replied that this was quite true with regard to them personally, and it did not matter about their small forces being with the rebels, the only important point being that they were subjects of a sovereign with whom your Majesty had so close an alliance. We had a long conversation on this point, in accord with what had passed between Cobham and Walsingham and myself, although it was carried on with more suavity and less vapouring than they had employed, as I had treated them in the same way. I gave the Queen a punctual account of what his Highness had ordered me to say in his letter of the 7th May and of what he had said to her ambassador, which in effect was that your Majesty only asked that the States should submit to you and observe the Roman Catholic religion in accordance with what they had promised in their letters of the 8th September, and, if they really and effectually fulfilled this, your Majesty would restore matters to the same state as in the time of the Emperor ; withdrawing foreigners from the country and restoring to the natives their privileges and ancient government. I said as this was so just she ought to endeavour to bring it about, even for her own sake ; and, apart from what I was instructed to say to her, I could not help, I said, repeating this to her and pointing out how bad it was of her to support rebellion. As I found her well disposed, I dwelt very emphatically upon this, as also on the point which his Highness ordered me to press, namely, that if she were to declare war it would mean very little more than what she was doing now by helping the rebels, and I said I might assure her that if your Majesty aroused your friends to action it would not be to come hither with a leaky old ship ; I having been informed from Portugal that the vessels brought by Stukeley from Italy were making so much water that they could not sail any further. To this she replied that she hoped to God that his Highness' ambition would not spoil everything, and that she desired nothing but peace, which would certainly be brought about if your Majesty would grant to the States the agreement of Ghent. She said that they were pressing this as Holland and Zealand would separate from them if it were not conceded, they fearing the carrying out of the placards respecting religion, and she then said, "What did it matter to your Majesty if they went to the devil in their own way? "I said it was not in the power of princes to enlarge or restrict religion, as the law thereupon had been ordained by God himself, and your Majesty could not consent on any account to persons living in your dominions except in conformity with the true Roman Catholic faith, and reminded her of what was being done in her own country. She replied that she did not punish the Catholics except for refusing to acknowledge her as Queen, as in other things she thought as they did. The people in Holland were desperate, she said, and she did not want to see them fall into the hands of the French. I pointed out to her as well as I could that France was not in a condition of strength which would make this possible, since your Majesty's power was so great everywhere, and could prevent their entry into the States, besides the damage you might do to them by way of Italy, Provence, and Spain, which well might cause them, the French, to confine their regards to Scotland, which was of much more importance to them, and where they were carrying on very lively negotiations, a French ambassador having recently arrived there by sea. She replied that she knew that very well, and that his name was Seton. She ended by saying that Cobham and Walsingham would not go to his Highness unless they learned that he was willing to treat for peace, which is different from what they decided before. Their changes, indeed, are so frequent that I am at a loss to convey any fixed intelligence to your Majesty, excepting by giving an account from day to day. Even whilst I am with them they are constantly contradicting me and never tell the truth even by chance.
The Queen was very glad of Stafford's arrival as he assured her that the king of France was at issue with his brother about affairs there, and their disagreement will probably lead to hostilities. One of the councillors tells me that the matter about which the French ambassador saw Sussex and Walsingham was, that the King had sent the courier I mentioned to tell him to urge upon the Queen forcibly how bad it would be both to France and England for your Majesty to end matters in Flanders by conquest. Whatever it was, the ambassador has not yet received a reply although he is very pressing to send off his courier.
The Queen has received news from Portugal that the ships which Stukeley had brought there were so old and leaky that they could not go any further, and he had begged the King of Portugal, by virtue of the Pope's letters, to give him others but he had been told that the King did not wish to break the friendship between himself and this Queen. (fn. 7) She has consequently ordered the suspension for a fortnight of the equipment of her ships. I have just been told that the earl of Leicester has been with the queen of Scotland for three days, and that she complained bitterly to him of the treatment extended to her by this Queen. They have recently kept her more closely than ever.
M. d'Alençon is sending an ambassador hither who will arrive in a week.—London, 17th June 1578.
20 June. 516. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
On the 10th instant I gave your Majesty an account of the arrival of a certain ship on this coast. The captain has since arrived here and has been received with extraordinary favour by the Queen, who was closeted with him alone to hear an account of his voyage. He has been treated in the same way by the Council at large and by each member in particular, so that it has been impossible to get at him yet. The Queen has ordered that both he and the crew should be very well treated, considering their having returned without finishing the voyage or bringing anything back with them, and the execution of the gentleman by Drake is not to be spoken about until his return.
The captain affirms that he entered the Straits with his ship and arrived at fifty-five degrees south latitude in the southern sea, where he found an island with traces of habitation, and a gallows erected, whereon, it is said, Magellan had executed a man. The description he gives of the Straits is similar to that given of Magellan's discovery, and he says that, at its widest part, it is about seven leagues across, narrowing in some parts to less than two He came across two islands in the Strait itself, one of which was crowded with birds like geese (fn. 8) and the other had on it a large quantity of fish, (fn. 9) which came on shore. He said that these stood him in great good stead for his maintenance. He left Drake ten months ago and came to the coast of Brazil to victual for his voyage hither. He captured one of the negroes living there although some people have tried here to make out that he is from the land in the South Sea, where Drake told them to rendezvous in case they were separated from other ships by tempest. This is in forty-seven degrees south latitude in the South Sea. The captain has told the Council that some of the sailors on the outward voyage sank a Portuguese ship on the coast of Brazil the whole of the crew being drowned.—London, 20th June 1578.
517. Document headed "On Tuesday, the eve of St. John, I, Antonio De Guaras, was examined, by Sir Walter Mildmay and Dr. Wilson, on the following points, so far as I can remember :"
1. The first point was that I was not a public officer but a private person, as I could produce no letter from the King to prove that I was here on his affairs. To this I replied that I was a public person and, as such, would answer their interrogations.
2. Had Captain Dyke (?) written a letter to me? To which I replied Yes ; and that I had sent a letter of his to Flanders as he was desirous of serving his Majesty.
3. Had I received a letter from Captain Cotton respecting certain grievances suffered by him at Bruges? I replied, Yes ; and that a letter had been sent to him for his Excellency, through his Secretary, in favour of a certain Charles Brown who was also going to serve.
4. Whether I had written that I was afraid they were going to put me in the Tower? I replied that, to the best of my recollection, they referred to what I had written by the ambassadors who come from Flanders, and the two despatches which Zweveghem took, although they denied this. I said that what I had written was that, as everyone was saying that war would break out, I begged his Majesty or his Highness not to let me be forgotten.
5. Had I any understanding with the earl of Westmoreland or any others of those whom they called rebels? I replied that I had never thought of such a thing, which is true.
6. Whether I had received letters from the queen of Scotland requesting me to write to the Grand Commander, asking him to provide for the needs of the earl of Westmoreland? I replied that I did not recollect such a thing as my memory was a poor one.
7. If I had sent her any letters of my own or from other people? To which I replied, No.
8. Had I any understandings regarding her release? To which I replied, I had not.
9. If I had written to the Queen's prejudice and a statement regarding the ships of war which were plundering in the Channel? I replied that I had not, and referred them to my letters.
10. They examined me as to who it was that was going to serve with ten thousand men, giving his son as a pledge? I replied that, so far as I recollected, it was Colonel Chester.
11. They asked me who was to undertake the service from Ireland? To which I replied that I had no recollection of such a business.
12. They asked me what I had written about the money which was being taken out of Spain? To which I replied that I wrote generally in consequence of the disorder of things.
13. They told me that his Majesty was poor and consequently did not provide for me ; dwelling much upon my poverty. They said that his Majesty spent much more than his revenue, and was full of debts. They asked me how I knew the Queen's revenue was small? I said that what she had was well known, and that Ireland cost her twenty thousand pounds a year to maintain, more than it was worth to her. When she had spent thirty millions on war, as his Majesty had in Flanders, and still had as much again to settle matters there by the hand of his Highness, they might talk about her riches. The rental of a single city in Spain, Seville, I said, was greater than all the revenues of this Crown, for they, at great length, sought to belittle the King's greatness, but I told him the truth in a very few words.
14. They asked how I knew that the queen of Scotland and her ambassador were unjustly imprisoned? I replied that the French envoys had affirmed it, she having come to this country of her own free will as to the house of a person who was much indebted to her, and, in conformity with the arrangement made shortly before by the two Queens to visit and congratulate each other, for which visits the liveries had been openly prepared.
15. After having examined me as aforesaid, they insisted upon my signing the examination, and, on my saying that I, as a public man, was not called upon to sign it, as it was a matter touching the sovereign, they replied that they would make me sign it by force ; and the two members of the Council afore-mentioned made a note thereof at the foot of the confession.
16. I told Dr. Wilson apart that I wished to speak with the earl of Leicester as question No. 10 concerned his brother-in-law.
Without date, but amongst the papers of 1578.


  • 1. The King's commander at Gravelines.
  • 2. i.e., with the King and Government of France, in contradistinction to Alençon and the Huguenots.
  • 3. The expedition consisted originally of the "Pelican" of 120 tons and 20 guns, the "Elizabeth" of 80 tons, a small pinnace, and two sloop-rigged boats of 50 and 30 tons respectively.
  • 4. This was a certain Master Doughty a gentleman adventurer who was acting as second in command.
  • 5. This refers again to the proposal of certain Englishmen to betray places in the Netherlands.
  • 6. In original ; "Left blank in cipher, as he could not ascertain the name." See page 599.
  • 7. Stukeley was prevailed upon to accompany the young King Don Sebastian on his ill-fated expedition to Morocco, and was killed, with the King himself, and most of his followers, at the disastrous battle of Alcazar, on the 4th August 1578.
  • 8. Penguins.
  • 9. No doubt seals, such as now frequent the Straits.