Simancas: August 1578

Pages 606-609

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

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August 1578

14 Aug. 521. Bernardino De Mendoza to Zayas.
Speaks at length regarding the delay and difficulty of forwarding letters, complaining much of the ambassador in France, Juan de Vargas, to whom some were entrusted for transmission.
This Queen has greatly feasted Alençon's ambassador, (fn. 1) and on one occasion when she was entertaining him at dinner she thought the sideboard was not so well furnished with pieces of plate as she would like the Frenchman to have seen it ; she therefore called the earl of Sussex, the Lord Steward, who had charge of these things, and asked him how it was there was so little plate. The Earl replied that he had, for many years, accompanied her and other sovereigns of England in their progresses, and he had never seen them take so much plate as she was carrying then. The Queen told him to hold his tongue, that he was a great rogue, and that the more good that was done to people like him the worse they got. She then turned to a certain North, who was there in the room, and asked him whether he thought there was much or little plate on the sideboard, to which he replied there was very little, and threw the blame on Sussex. When North left the Queen's chamber, Sussex told him that he had spoke wrongly and falsely in what he said to the Queen, whereupon North replied that if he, Sussex, did not belong to the Council he would prove what he said to his teeth. Sussex then went to Leicester and complained of the knavish behaviour of North, but Leicester told him that the words he used should not be applied to such persons as North. Sussex answered that, whatever he might think of the words, North was a great knave, so that they remained offended with one another as they had been before on other matters. This may not be of importance, but I have thought well to relate it so that you may see how easily matters here may now be brought into discord if care be taken on one side to insure support against eventualities. The next day the Queen sent twice to tell the earl of Oxford, who is a very gallant lad, to dance before the ambassadors, whereupon he replied that he hoped her Majesty would not order him to do so as he did not want to entertain Frenchmen. When the Lord Steward took him the message the second time, he replied that he would not give pleasure to Frenchmen, nor listen to such a message, and with that he left the room. He is a lad who has a great following in the country, and has requested permission to go and serve his Highness, which the Queen refused, and asked him why he did not go and serve the Archduke Mathias ; to which he replied that he would not serve another sovereign than his own, unless it were a very great one, such as the king of Spain.
I have sent a man expressly to make the voyage in Humphrey Gilbert's ships, so that if he returns, he will give a full account of it to me. I have been fortunate in finding a person both faithful and competent, he being an Englishman, and I beg you will let his Majesty know of this as I have given him orders if they should touch in Spain on their return that he is to go straight to Court and address himself to you.
Francisco de Arriaga has sent to say that he will prolong the credit to pay me two hundred and forty crowns a month on the signature of Garnica. I suspect that this is owing to your kind offices, and I beg you to send me another credit for my extraordinary expenses, as I have no means to provide for them.
I am making every possible effort for the release of Antonio de Guaras. I enclose herewith his confession and the points upon which they have examined him and his servant. I have sent to offer him everything of which he may stand in need, having first asked the Queen's consent to do so. I am told that there are many Catholics in the north where the Queen is travelling, and that on her entering the house of a gentleman where she was to lodge, her people found an altar with all the ornaments thereupon ready for the celebration of mass, whilst the gentleman, his wife, and children received the Queen with crucifixes round their necks. There is not so much severity against them as usual.
I send your worship herewith a box of spectacles of the same ages as before, but the workman is so knavish that there has been much difficulty in getting them. I hope they will arrive better than the others.—London, 14th August 1578.
522. Document headed "Juan De Aguirre was examined on the 25th of June by the Governor of the Tower, and Master Herll, on the following points" :—
1. Whether, when I was at the Sheriff's house, I had said that the Queen was heretical and schismatic, and other similar things? To this I replied flatly that, whoever had accused me of this had not said the truth, and that I had never said a word against the Queen, which is true.
2. Whether I knew one Master Heron? To which I replied yes. What was the reason that he came so often to my master's house? I replied that when Pedro de Barrientos, a Spaniard, went to Spain two years ago, he left a Flemish horse here for Heron to sell, which he did for twenty pounds. This sum he had to pay to my master, who asked him for the amount from time to time. He made light of the demand and came sometimes to dinner, and this was the whole of the business.
3. Did I know one Master Hare? I replied yes. Why did he come to my master's house? I replied that he came occasionally and brought letters for my master to forward to an English friend of his in Antwerp. The letters were so forwarded, and when the post arrived, Hare came to get the letters which came for him in the same way.
4. Did I know Master Gardiner? To which I replied that I did. What business had he with my master? I replied that I believe, so far as I could see, that his only reason for coming was to spy, as he only came when letters were being written or sealed, and that he talked so much that my master could not endure him.
5. Did I know one Captain Malbey? I said that I did. What connection had he with my master? I replied that he came to ask my master to forward, in some ship going to Spain, three Irish greyhounds, as I understood, for the King.
6. Did I know one Morgan? I said yes. What business had he with my master? I said he came but rarely, and I understood that he came to learn news from Flanders or Spain. Did he come by night or by day? I never saw him excepting in the daytime.
7. Did I know a person called Master Somerset? To which I replied that I did not.
8. Who was it that brought news to my master? I said that all the news he received came through an Easterling, who died ten months ago, and was a sort of servant whom he sent to the west country, Southampton and other places, and when he returned he and my master discoursed in secret.
9. Whether my master wrote to the queen of Scotland or received letters from her? To which I replied that I knew nothing of such a thing.
10. If my master had said anything against the Queen or Council? To which I replied that I had never heard him say anything.
11. They asked me what my master had done with his papers and cipher? To which I replied that, shortly before his arrest one day, Bautista de San Vitores, Alonso de Basurto, Pedro Martinez, and Juan de Sansurte, all Spaniards, came to tell him that his Majesty had ordered the arrest of all English ships, and that the same step had been taken in this country towards Spaniards, and that war would surely break out. My master was alarmed at this, and fearing that war was coming, burnt all his papers, letters, and ciphers, as shortly before then his Highness had written to him to take care they did not get hold of any papers of his, and if he heard anything disquieting he was to burn them. They told me he had done no such thing.
12. What was it that my master wrote to his Majesty and his Highness? To which I replied that I did not know, as I was unacquainted with the ciphers. My master wrote them and I copied them. They said I knew very well what he wrote in plain Spanish. I said yes ; sometimes he wrote that money, arms, and stores were being sent from here for the succour of Orange and the States, and that ambassadors were being sent thither.
13. Why was Damian sent to his Highness? To which I replied that as my master was in great need he was sent to beg of his Highness to provide him with money. Did he take any letters? No.
14. Would Sancho de Leive come here again? I said I did not know. Was he acquainted with any of the ciphers? I did not know for certain, but perhaps he knew some.
15. Whither did my master intend to go if he were ordered to leave the country? To which I replied that, from what I had heard, he would go first to your Majesty's Court to beg some favour, and then would retire to his own house, from which he had been absent very long.
16. How long had I been with my master? I said nineteen months. They said that I could say a great deal more if I liked, and they would make me do so under torture. I replied that they could do as they liked with me, but I could say no more than I had done, and if I knew anything more I would have told them.
After saying all this verbally they ordered me to write it clause by clause in Spanish to show to the Council, which I did, word for word as is here set down.
19 Aug. 523. Bernardino De Mendoza to Zayas.
I wrote on the 14th by way of France and have since heard that Horatio Pallavicini, the Genoese who wrote to the King, has some alum, besides that in Cadiz, at Bayona in Galicia, and has freighted a ship to bring it hither. It would be well that it should not be allowed to come. I am sending this hurriedly and can say no more at present.
As regards the money withheld from the seizures, Hatton, the captain of the Guard and a member of the Council, is the person who has reported the matter to me, but he will not divulge the names of the persons in whose possession the property now is, unless he is assured of a very large share of it. Nor will he tell me the value of the property illegally detained, as most of it, I suspect, is in the hands of members of the Council and other men of standing, from whom he hopes to get it by the Queen's favour, without which it will be impossible to recover anything. I do not therefore mean to lose any time in the business nor to let Hatton cool about it. He is now very hot on the matter, which makes me think that the sum is a large one.—London, 19th August 1578.


  • 1. The Duke D'Alençon had instructed M. de Bacqueville and M. Quissé, on the 30th July, to explain to Elizabeth the reasons that had moved him to enter Flanders, to solicit her advice as to his future proceedings, apparently to ask for a loan of 300,000 crowns, and to renew the demand for her hand.