Simancas: March 1679

Pages 655-662

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

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March 1679

5 Mar. 559. Bernardino De Mendoza to Zayas.
I received yesterday your letter of the 21st January, and rejoiced much to hear news of his Majesty's health, as you may be sure that the news of the catarrh and gout had been finely exaggerated by the time it arrived here. God protect him and preserve the health also of the Duke and Donna Anna.
There is no news here since my last, except that Simier and the French Ambassador were much feasted on the occasion of the Carnival, and, on one of the days they were entertained at a great banquet given to the Queen by Hatton, the captain of the Guard. The last night they were at a grand ball in which there were comedies and many inventions.
Simier and the Ambassador do not agree, although they try to conceal the fact, but the signs are clear to everyone, as they have even divided their expenses, Simier paying for the dinner, he having taken a separate lodging, and the Ambassador paying for the supper. They say that Simier is seeking money and is offering in pledge some of the jewels he brought. Some of the gentlemen who came with him have gone back. The Queen makes great show of favour to him in order to promote the idea that the marriage may be effected.
Alençon's coming is now promised in April, and Simier says that he is daily expecting the arrival of the Secretary sent by his master, who, however, never comes. The Queen told Simier a few days ago that he would perhaps soon come now, because she had herself received a letter from Alençon, informing her that he was sending him.
Casimir was obliged by contrary winds to anchor at Blancnez, on the coast of France, and was so sea-sick that he resolved to go ashore dressed as a cook and prepare supper for the rest. On his departure, Captain Breton, who came hither with Simier, spoke with him, and Casimir told him to inform the king of France that he had been in his country and had made good cheer there. He landed at Flushing where he learned the trouncing his cavalry had got after the affair of the 15th.
The English merchants, in view of the disturbances in Antwerp, have resolved not to send any more goods thither, and to bring away those that they have at Middleburg.
The congregation of Flemings resident here sent a man to Flushing on the 27th ultimo with three hundred pounds in cash and two hundred in bills for the purpose of fitting out eight crookstems to scour the canals and give help where necessary on the approach of our troops, and also to give orders that, if a revolution should be feared in Antwerp in consequence of our proximity, the ships they have there should be withdrawn.
These people are putting me off about the release of Guaras. I cannot imagine what can be the reason, other than that which I have written.—London, 5th March 1579.
11 Mar. 560. Bernardino De Mendoza to Zayas.
On the 5th and 7th I wrote to you by way of Rouen. These councillors are very divided respecting the appointment of Lord Chancellor, some of them desiring the post and a change of offices. For your Majesty's interests and those of the Catholics no man could be appointed worse than the last one.
The Portuguese Ambassador requested audience, announcing that it was to take leave of the Queen, but the result of it was that she refused to allow him to depart until he had seen her again. If he were not such a vain lying fellow, one might suspect that it was only a pretext for the purpose of entertaining them until the arrival of his successor, so that he might bring him into touch with Leicester and Walsingham, through whom he acts, to hinder us in Portugal.
M. de Pruneaux, who was Alençon's agent in Antwerp, is still lingering there, in correspondence with his friends here, but I do not hear that the States have again entertained his advances.
I am losing no time in sending men to Holland and Zealand, and getting natives of the Provinces here to write how bad it would be for them to undertake war again. The Flushing people have sent here to treat with two Spanish ships which came with oranges, for them to go with merchandise to that town. They offered them sureties, both for the merchandise and the good treatment of the men. They let me know and I told them to reply to the representatives of the Flushing corporation that nothing could be arranged between private citizens without the intervention of a minister. This was done without my appearing, and was so far satisfactory to them that they said they agreed and would consult the corporation. I took this step in order that an excuse might arise for their communication with me, and I doubt not, according to the information of natives whom I have sent there, that they greatly desire this as they are heartily opposed to war, unless Orange's stories change their minds. I have obtained a letter which St. Aldegonde wrote when Orange was going to Ghent, by which you will see the plots they are weaving. I have sent copies to Holland and elsewhere that they may understand how little Orange really desires peace.
They are putting me off for hours now instead of days, as before, about the release of Antonio de Guaras. (fn. 1) —London, 11th March 1579.
561. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
On the 26th ultimo I wrote to your Majesty, and on the 6th instant news arrived here of the action that had taken place near Antwerp. The Queen related it in great glee to the French ambassadors, and said that if the whole of them were to be burnt it would not avenge the evil done by the townspeople in introducing discord amongst the States. With regard to the arrest of goods belonging to Flemings resident here, on account of monies owing by the States and certain towns to Englishmen, the Queen replied that, as her subjects' property had been taken, it must be paid for, The greater part of these Flemings are heretics and their congregation has always helped the rebels against us, there being only four or six of them faithful subjects of your Majesty who help me all they can ; and it would therefore appear that the Queen intends to carry out her resolution of helping the States no more.
The English merchants here have also resolved to withdraw their merchandise from Antwerp, and transfer the trade to Embden, that with Hamburg having ceased. The intention is to confine trade to Embden, as in the time when connection was prohibited with your Majesty's dominions, and to avoid the evasion of this by the Flemings here sending English cloths to Antwerp and bringing goods from there, which would be cheaper than merchandise passing through Embden ; they intend to forbid all commerce, excepting through the latter place, on pain of forfeiture. If this is carried out, the Flemings will have to leave the country, and the English will monopolise trade, which is just what they desire. Signs are evident that they do not wish to have any communication with the States until they submit to your Majesty, for these Flemings were formerly favoured because they aided the States.
Dissensions have recently broken out in Scotland again, and it was said that the King was to be removed from Stirling to Edinburgh, but it is not known whether this will be done before the meeting of Parliament on the 1st of May.
M. de Simier and the French Ambassador still continue their audiences with the Queen and have recently again postponed the coming of Alençon, who, they say, will be accompanied by the prince of Condé. They are in high hopes of the marriage, from what the Queen tells them, it not being necessary to call Parliament together for the purpose, permission for her marriage having been granted in the first parliament of the reign. From the suspicions of the king of France that his brother is plotting with the Bretons, and the Gascons being still disturbed, it may be surmised that the Queen will be the better pleased that the French should be kept busy in their own country, and consequently not be able to concern themselves with Scotch affairs, about which she is still anxious. (fn. 2) — London, 11th March 1579.
21 Mar. 562. Bernardino De Mendoza to Zayas.
I wrote last on the 11th. The conference at Utrecht which I mentioned, has resulted in the formation of a league between those present, in the form set forth in the enclosed paper, containing really abominable things, especially about liberty of conscience. The confederates do not include the lordship of Grüninghen, by which it will be seen that the townspeople there have kept to their good resolve.
The French ambassadors are expecting hourly the return of Alençon's secretary whom they had dispatched. They say that he will certainly bring the decision with regard to the Prince's coming. As far as can be judged by appearances and the Queen's own actions, nothing more certain can be imagined than that she will marry Alençon if she can, and you may convey this to his Majesty.
Hatton and Leicester have become friends in order to forward the business, and are quite agreed about the appointment of a Lord Chancellor. They are going to help a great heretic into the place, (fn. 3) whilst Sussex and Cecil are opposed thereto.
The Queen gave orders on the 19th that no ships were to leave for Germany until further orders. It is believed that this is in consequence of the dissensions which exist between the Easterling merchants and those of London, who are more divided than ever.
As I was closing this Alençon's secretary arrived.—London, 21st March 1579.
31 Mar. 563. Bernardino De Mendoza to Zayas.
By William Bodenham I received your letter of 30th December and the needlework sent by my lady the duchess (of Alba), which work is such as might be expected from such hands.
The Portuguese ambassador is still about his departure for France, and, although he returned a second time to see the Queen, Leicester invited him, and the next day told him the Queen wished to see him again. They tell me the object of all this is to put him in accord with the man they are to send to Portugal, who will be some creature of Leicester's. They have also managed for him to confer with the ambassador they are sending again to France, (fn. 4) the present resident being about to return. The object is to arrange for Alençon to aid in preventing the crown of Portugal from falling to his Majesty. They could thus keep friendly with that country, and trade, even though they were at war with Spain. If, as you say, another man is to come from Portugal, it is just as well that this man should linger here as he knows so little.
In the sermons preached before the Queen they speak very violently about this marriage. The preacher on the first Sunday in Lent said that marriages with foreigners would only result in ruin to the country, as was proved by what happened when the sainted King Edward died and was succeeded by Mary, who married a foreigner, and caused the martyrdom of so many persons, who were burnt all over the country. When the preacher finished the subject, but not the sermon, the Queen rose, which was considered a great innovation. They are also attaching much importance to the fact that preachers are constantly saying this to the Queen and that she takes no steps, from which it may be inferred that they are inspired from high quarters.
Leicester and Hatton have become great friends in view of the marriage with Alençon, which they openly favour, and are pushing forward Bromley for Lord Chancellor, against the wishes of all the rest. He has gained them both completely by promising them large pensions if he gets the place.
The gentleman sent by Alençon with letters dated the 23rd, says that on the way to and from Paris he privately saw the English ambassador, and from his saying to his brother that he would be back again within a fortnight in Paris, it was understood by many to mean that he (Alençon?) would again set up his household there, and he (the Secretary?) would try to get Bussy d'Amboise's place. Simier and Rochetaillé are much grieved at this. Some people say that the warm negotiations of these Frenchmen for the marriage are only a plan of the Queen-mother to forward Alençon's marriage with one of the Infantas.
A Breton gentleman tells me that Alençon had sent orders to the Isle of Chaussey, near Granville, in Brittany, that if any pirates go thither they are to be well received and have facilities for disposing of their prizes. This no doubt is to benefit Bacqueville, whom he made Admiral recently, although he (Alençon) has no ports in his dukedoms. He has also ordered pirate ships to be fitted out for the voyage to the Indies.
Horatio Pallavicini, I am informed, received advices from Alicante that the ship which was to bring the alum was being looked out for, and he therefore wrote that the cargo was to be sent in English ships. A note of these ships is enclosed in case any of them should touch at a Spanish port.
There is a French captain here with whom I have been in communication for the last six months, and who appears to me to be a resolute and sensible man. I am told that the king of France is displeased with him because he was one of the malcontents who served with Alençon against him, and he is looked upon as being the harbinger of any disturbance. He has on many occasions told me that he wishes to render some service to his Majesty which would fix him permanently in his employment. (fn. 5) He is a brave man, and, although he offered to go and serve in the Netherlands when Alençon was there, I did not think at the time that it would be safe or prudent until the French had left. He now tells me that he is determined to go to Antwerp with letters for Orange, and to see M. de la Noue and discover what service he can render according to circumstances. He assures me that he will have sufficient credit amongst the French gentlemen to win them over, and will attempt to get possession of some fortress, if his services are accepted, for the purpose of surrendering it to us. I have praised his determination, as I thought no harm could come of it, nor did I see any objection to his getting one of the towns into his hands, so long as Alençon was not there. I advised the prince of Parma in case he should think it advisable to carry the matter forward. It will be needful to supply him with money in such case to win over the captains, and it may be advisable to point out some particular fortress upon which he might keep his eyes.
I do not fail on every occasion to impress upon the ministers, and other important people, how prejudicial it would be for the French to get any power in this country, whence it will be almost impossible to expel them even though the Queen were to die, having in view their close friendship with Scotland. They listen to me, but their answers are lukewarm, like people who expect something more than mere words. I shall continue these offices, which I think most necessary, as his Majesty has said nothing to the contrary. If it be true than Juan de Vargas has arranged what is said with the king of France, it surely would be better for him to advise me of it direct before I hear it from another quarter ; but he doubtless thinks differently.—London, 31st March 1579.
564. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
I wrote to your Majesty on the 11th and sent duplicate on the 15th. M. de Simier and the ambassador continue their constant audiences with the Queen respecting the marriage, and she seems, by all appearances, to very willingly listen to them. In the course of the negotiation it was suggested that, if the marriage be effected, Alençon might be appointed King of the Romans. This was well received by the Frenchmen, who had letters from their King at the time telling them to keep the matter in hand until he got a decided reply, which he expected from Spain and Rome ; and, as soon as it came, Alençon's secretary should be sent back with the decision. The Queen's ambassador in Paris advised her at the same time that preparations were being made for Alençon's visit, which appears to be true.
The ambassadors thereupon again began to treat with Leicester about Alençon's preparation for the visit, but said that it would not be advisable for him to come until the business was confirmed, which opinion they said they were conveying to the Queen and asked him to support them. Leicester replied that this course was most undesirable, and that when Alençon came, Parliament would be sitting when he (Leicester) and his friends would endeavour that all the country, through the mouth of Parliament, should beg the Queen to marry Alençon, which she could not then refuse, even though she were not so truly desirous of it, as she is. This kept the Frenchmen in play which was the object aimed at.
On the 19th Alençon's secretary arrived with letters from the King dated 16th, both to Leicester and the Queen, in which he assured her that his brother would be here in the month of May and begged her that the conditions should be fixed with necessary precision, for the satisfaction of both parties. He said that the ambassador at Rome had, at your Majesty's instance taken steps with the Pope to hinder the marriage, and that your Majesty had written to him begging him to divert his brother from it ; the same being done by the Nuncio in Paris on behalf of the Pope and by Juan de Vargas in the name of your Majesty, but that he (the king of France) still wished that it should go on. As regards the question of religion, he could assure the Queen that his brother would conduct himself in a way which should cause no scandal in the country.
He assured Leicester on his word of honour that his authority and position should not be injured in any way by the marriage, as he would be the guide and friend of his brother.
After the coming of the secretary with these letters, which gave a fresh impulse to the business, the Queen received three despatches from Paris within two days, sent with great speed in forty-five hours, advising her of the arrival there of Alençon and the duke of Guise, and of the applause with which he had been received. This disburbed her greatly, as it was unexpected and she is suspicious about Scotland, and considers that there must be some great mystery behind this, because Alençon had concealed his intention to visit his brother even from his closest friends and advisers.
The ambassador also informed her that the Nuncio had declared to Alençon in the name of the Pope that he would excommunicate him if he came to this country, and the people of Paris publicly said that, if he married the Queen, they would never accept him as king of France, if he should succeed to the throne. Nevertheless, he shows signs of his intention to marry her and says that he will look upon as his enemy any person who advises him to the contrary.
M. de Simier saw her on the 26th and gave her a letter written by Alençon himself, dated the 23rd, telling her not to be surprised at his visiting his brother, who had received him as such ; the cause of it having been his desire to contradict those who asserted that they were at issue. He also asked her not to consider it strange that the gentleman who had come with Simier should return to accompany him (Alençon) on his journey. The Queen was very gracious to Simier and detained him so long that she made him stay to supper with Lady Howard, who heads the tabie of the ladies of the Privy Chamber. She sent him the supper from her own table, although I had taken care that she was informed that the letters dated the 16th, from the king of France to her and Leicester, had not been written in France at all, but in London. This was seen from the fact that the handwriting was that of the secretary of the French ambassador here. When I heard of it I had the earl of Leicester told, without its being known that the information came from me. No doubt the secretary of Alençon brought these signatures in blank with orders to fill up the letters in the way that seemed best.
The close confinement of the queen of Scotland continues and the permission given by the Queen to the secretary to visit the King on her behalf was shortly afterwards revoked.
With regard to the pressure being put upon Flemings here to cease trading with Antwerp, and to confine their commerce with Embden the Archduke Mathias and Orange have written suggesting that trade might be done at Middleburg which would cause no loss to them. The English have not replied, nor have they decided yet to fix their trade in Embden, although they are greatly at issue with the Maritime towns of Dantzic and Hamburg.
Orange has promised to carry on the war against your Majesty in the States at a very small cost, the intention being to draw it out and make it offensive (defensive?) merely, by keeping possession of the towns only, and sustaining no army in the open.—London, 31st March 1579.


  • 1. A monograph on the subject of Antonio de Guaras, detailing the whole of the proceedings against him so far as they are known, has recently been published, the work of Richard Garnett, LL.D., of the British Museum.
  • 2. Note in the King's handwriting : "According to this, the matter cannot be settled as they told Juan de Vargas the other day. This is most likely to be the truth as it comes more direct."
  • 3. Sir Thomas Bromley, who succeeded Sir Nicholas Bacon in the Chancellorship, and was himself succeeded eight years later by Hatton.
  • 4. Henry Cobham, who was to replace Sir Amyas Paulet.
  • 5. Note in the King's handwriting ; "I should think so, indeed."