Simancas: April 1679

Pages 662-668

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

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April 1679

8 April. 565. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
I wrote to your Majesty on the 31st ultimo, and on the 23rd M. de Rochetaillé (Rocatallada) left here carrying fresh terms about the marriage ; the principal points of which are understood to be in conformity with my letter of the 18th of February, although some people say that they have added a provision to the effect that, if the Queen dies, Alençon is to bear the title of duke of Lancaster and York.
These councillors met Rochetaillé (Rocatallada), as he was leaving the next day, but they detained him three days longer, continually in council with him day and night. They sent the secretaries out of the room, which is a very unusual thing, and is only done when matters of the greatest importance are discussed in secret. The result of these meetings and of Rochetaillés departure has been that the Queen is now arranging the persons who have to go and meet Alençon, and the ships which have to escort him, whilst many of the great people here, including the councillors, are having new clothes and other things made for the occasion, (fn. 1) as they believe that the matter is as good as settled if the French accept the terms, which they consider very reasonable.
With respect to giving hostages for the coming of Alençon, it is proposed that the earls of Surrey and Oxford and Lord Windsor should be chosen, because, although they are only youths, their houses are very ancient and of high rank.
The Queen has had two letters from Alençon in his own hand, delivered to her by Simier, and I am assured that she replied in the same way without showing her letters to the councillors and particularly not to Leicester, who the French are informed is acting falsely in the business, and who, with Sussex, is their principal opponent. Although I wrote to your Majesty on the 27th of January what he told me, I find him lately very cool. He publicly talks of the advantage it would be to the Queen to effect this marriage, however, and the Queen has favoured him by telling the Frenchmen to treat of the matter with him. Lord Burleigh is not so much opposed to it as formerly, but I cannot discover whether Sussex and Burleigh have changed their minds, because they think that they may thus bring about the fall of Leicester, and avenge themselves upon him for old grievances, and for having advanced to the office of Chancellor, which Sussex wants, an enemy of Sussex and Burleigh. Their reason may, however, be perhaps the hope that if Frenchmen should come hither the country may rise, in which case, it is believed, Sussex would take a great position.
By my former letters I have fully advised all that was occurring, and I have nothing more to say excepting that the matter of the seizures is now being treated lukewarmly, and I am afraid nothing will be done.
Great efforts were being secretly made by Orange with the corporation and guilds of Antwerp, to obtain the entry of that town in the league of Utrecht.—London, 8th April 1579.
566. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
As the Portuguese ambassador, who is at last tearing himself away from this country to reside in France, tells me that he is sending a courier to Madrid as soon as he arrives at Calais, I take the opportunity of enclosing this despatch in the packet he is forwarding.
The present that the Queen gave him was 1,200 English crowns worth of silver-gilt plate and a jewel worth 300 for his wife.
At his last audience with her she gave him a ring from her own finger, no doubt as a keepsake, for she is very clever at such little witcheries as these, when she thinks she can gain a point by them and disarm those with whom she is dealing. I fancy she has fully succeeded in this with the ambassador, who has said nothing about the ring.
Everybody here is full of the marriage and the coming of Alençon, and the English speak of it more openly than hitherto. Many people who were wont to smile at it now see that appearances are all in favour of its taking place and believe it. To divert the Queen from it, certain persons told her that, in the office of the late Chancellor, of whom the Queen thought very highly as a councillor, there had been discovered some papers sent to him two years ago from France, at the time that the matter was under discussion before, saying that the object of the coming of the French to England would only be the ruin of the country, the death of the Queen, and the consequent release of the Queen of Scotland, whose cause they were promoting. She said the papers could not be very important as they had not mentioned them to her for so long, and with that, dropped the subject.
I am feeling more keenly every day the loss of the man I wrote about, as, in addition to his knowledge of Walsingham's affairs, which was absolutely trustworthy, he heard many things that went on in the Queen's chamber through a lady, with whom it is now almost impossible for me to communicate, so that I have to lose much time in finding out what goes on, and have, so to speak, to go about begging for intelligence
An Englishman who went with Casimir returned hither yesterday in great haste. The reason of his coming is not known, but, all booted and spurred as he was, they made him enter the Council Chamber, where he remained for a long time. They say that the States were to hurriedly meet at Antwerp, and also that Maestricht was being battered with 23 cannons.
Alençon has intimated to M. de la Noue and Pruneaux that they are to make ready to come hither. They have themselves written this news to Simier and the ambassador.
If Hans has not left when this arrives, pray send him to me.
The Scotch Parliament has met at Stirling, but it appears they could do nothing as they were not agreed. It is said that the Parliament may be prolonged and may sit at Edinburgh. It is understood that this Parliament here will also be prorogued.— London, 8th April 1579.
11 April. 567. The King to Bernardino De Mendoza.
From various letters received from you, the last of which is dated the 5th ultimo, I learn particulars of events there, which it was fitting that I should know. You have done well in advising me and will continue to do so, keeping the Queen friendly, in the way you have been doing, in order to divert her thoughts from connection with Flanders. This is not only demanded by our old friendship, but also, if she will only see it, because the only fruit she will get from it will be to have spent her money upon my rebel subjects and such like mean fellows. With this end in view you will direct all your conversations with her whenever an opportunity offers.
I have always looked upon the idea of a marriage between the Queen and Alençon (fn. 2) as a mere invention, and this is evident from the present position of the affair, as he is already perfectly reconciled with his brother. But still the steps you took in the matter were appropriate, and you will continue, whenever necessary, to hinder the business.
For reasons which have occurred here, I have not ordered the provision of the money and jewels which you said might be given to the Queen's ministers to bring them to look with favourable eyes upon my affairs. As things may now have changed, it will be well for you to again consider what might be done for each one, according to their disposition and influence, and you will send me a memorandum about it, in order that I may decide what to do in the matter.
With regard to the alum and what has been done here and in Italy about it, I may say that very little more will be sent, but you will still keep your eyes on Horatio Pallavicini, advising me of anything that may happen.
The marine chart was received, and was so good that your diligence in obtaining it is approved of. With it came the pieces of ore, of which an assay has been made and they have been found of little value. Still, it was well to send them, and if anything else should occur in the matter, which it may be necessary that you should know, you shall be informed.
I think that little result will now be attained by the negotiations about the seizures, but nevertheless, in accordance with your information, a letter from me to the Queen in your credence will be enclosed, so that you may use it if you think advisable.
Zayas tells me that you wrote to him lately that it was probable that Antonio de Guaras would shortly be released, but I have thought well to write to the Queen the enclosed letter in his favour, so that you may address her on the subject on my behalf in accordance with the state of the business, in the hope that the affair may be speedily settled, of which we should be glad.
The Scotch Ambassador resident in France has informed Juan de Vargas that it would be advisable for me to send some message to the Catholic party, but as from day to day things change there, and it is no good to do anything without some hope of a profitable result, I wish you to consider the matter, and advise me about it, since it is not a business which can be decided upon at the mere request of the said ambassador, who is naturally influenced by his own desires.
It may be greatly suspected that at this time the Portuguese will try to increase their friendship with the English, and it is desirable for you to keep your eyes open, and learn everything that is done in this matter, informing me of it by every opportunity.
For this purpose I believe Antonio de Fogaza will be useful if he is acting straightforwardly, and I should be pleased for you to inquire, as if of your own accord, the grounds he has for requesting the reward, about which he has written to my confessor and to Zayas, and advise me what you learn, and your own opinion upon the matter.—Madrid, 11th April 1579.
12 April. 568. Bernardino De Mendoza to Zayas.
Since my last of the 8th instant, Antonio Guaras's business has been settled in the following way. The Council has ordered him to pay his debts before he leaves the Tower, whereupon he shall be released. I understand that they will first take him before some of the councillors, and I have sent to ask him to have more patience than he had with the Keeper. Although the matter is in this state, I cannot believe that it is at an end until I see him across the sea, considering that this brother of his has already caused so much delay by his absurdities. I am not the only person who says so, for Gombal himself confesses that Guaras told him he should have been free months ago if he had not come, and at much less cost than now. Notwithstanding all this, I can assure you that Gombal is going on more furiously than ever, and may well cause still more delay, which God forbid, and I hope Guaras's wife will pass a better Easter than she did a Christmas, with the news I sent her of what Leicester said.
An Englishman has arrived here by sea to tell the Queen that his Majesty had ordered the stopping of all ships on the Biscay and western coasts, and that Dr. Sanders and a brother of the earl of Desmond, James Fitzmaurice, Irishmen, were fitting out ships. (fn. 3) This has aroused some suspicion, because she has seized a letter written by some of the principal people in Ireland to James Fitzmaurice, telling him how glad they will be for him to come, and assuring him that he will find a welcome there. The letter is not signed, and Walsingham sent it to Captain Sir John Malbey, who is under orders to go to Ireland to hasten his departure.
She has also news that Sweden and Denmark are sturdily preparing their sea forces.
M. de Simier is invited on Thursday to attend the ceremony of the washing of feet, which the Queen performs. She summons him nearly every day, and goes for two or three hours together to see the works on some tennis courts she is having built, under the pretext that they are for Alençon.—London, 12th April 1579.
27 April. 569. Bernardino De Mendoza to Zayas.
I wrote on the 12th informing you of the position of Antonio Guaras's affair, namely that he had to pay his debts before he was liberated. With all this talk about his brother's wealth they are disinterring so many old claims, and even pressing him to pay the bishop of Aquila's debts, that I am afraid some time will be spent in the investigation of them.
Alençon's secretary, who had returned to treat of his master's affair, has had a great squabble with Simier and the Ambassador. He told them he should leave, whereupon Simier replied that if he remained, since they were not discussing the matter of the marriage properly, he (Simier) should go. He keeps vapouring about leaving in less than two days, but he still remains.
The heretics they call Puritans have been more open lately than they formerly were, and this Easter one of them, preaching before the Lord Mayor and Magistrates of London, spoke so violently to the effect that the Queen could not be the head of the Church and that the Bishops were not doing their duty, that they had to seize him at once to avoid the scandal.
The discord between the London merchants and the Easterlings resident here, regarding the privileges of the latter, is still unsettled, but it is proposed that the Easterlings should continue to enjoy their privileges for six months, on condition of their giving security, and if, during that time the English are not granted similar privileges, they, the Easterlings, shall pay like any other strangers the dues upon the goods they may have sent. The Easterlings have not yet accepted the proposal.
News comes from Antwerp that Maestricht has been assaulted, and although our people received some loss and did not succeed in entering, there was little hope of the place holding out. (fn. 4) —London, 27th April 1579.
570. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
The Queen's ambassador in France writes to her that secret orders have been given there to arm thirty ships, and the Council here have therefore resolved that seven of her ships shall put to sea, although the order has not yet been published, nor have they begun to make ready more than two, which they say are to go out to clear the channel of corsairs. The arming of these (French) ships is causing fears about Scotland, and they have recently discussed the bringing of that Queen (Mary) to the Tower of London. If this should be done it would be a proof that they have fallen out with the French, although the Queen in her behaviour to Simier, has not shown any signs of it, excepting once, on the 21st, when she was so rude to him that it was noticed by everyone. It is said that a new condition has been demanded on the part of Alençon. It was arranged that the style should be Francis and Elizabeth, King and Queen of England, and that in the question of dower, the law of England should be followed, but he now wishes to be crowned with her on their marriage, which, it is generally believed, the English will not agree to. This has given rise to the idea that the French wish to raise differences, and together, with the arming so many ships, is another reason for their alarm, which is added to by this news about your Majesty having stopped all ships on the Biscay and western coasts, and the coming to Spain by sea of the infantry from Naples. They are also disturbed by the intelligence that certain Irishmen are preparing in Biscay and that 1,500 Scots Highlanders have gone over to Ireland. The only steps they have taken hitherto have been to send thither some captains who have experience of the country.
Parliament has been prorogued in Scotland in consequence, it is said, of dissensions, respecting which this Queen ordered her ambassador to come hither and give her an account. He has not done this in consequence of the prorogation, nor has Morton lost his power, although they are disagreed. Parliament here is deferred until the 25th of May.—London, 27th April 1579.


  • 1. As an instance of this, there is a letter from the earl of Leicester to Secretary Davison in the Netherlands, asking him to secure for him 4,000 crowns worth of rimson, black, and other coloured velvet satin and silk, with 400l. worth of gold and silver tissue "or such like pretty stuffs." See Calendar of State Papers, Domestic, 25th April 1579.
  • 2. Marginal note in the King's handwriting : "Add this : I nevertheless believe they will continue to discuss it, and even perhaps may become reconciled for the purpose, but I believe that she herself is the person who will refuse."
  • 3. There is in the British Museum a highly interesting series of original papers (Add., MSS. 28,420), dated in the autumn of this year, giving minute particulars of the aid sent by Philip to this enterprise. The first document is a long letter from the Papal Nuncio in Madrid to the King, written on the 5th September, giving an account of the landing and progress of James Fitzmaurice in Ireland, and the alarm caused thereby to the Queen of England. He begs Philip to send further succour to Ireland, and, in a subsequent paper, sets forth the promises made by Fitzmaurice, in the event of his being successful, although, as he says, Philip had not thought proper that these promises should be embodied in a formal document. This second document is copiously annotated in the margin in Latin, apparently in the handwriting of Cardinal de Granvelle, the notes in several cases being extremely sarcastic and characteristic of the writer. Another communication from the Nuncio (bishop of Piacenza) states the amount of succour which he wishes Philip to give, including a levy of 600 infantry, and 60 Italian veterans ; and on the 8th November, the King's decision is given, in the form of a memorandum to the Nuncio, detailing the aid to be sent. As this document is extremely interesting and has, I believe, never yet been published, I transcribe it it full.
    B. M. Spanish, Add. 28,420. Document headed, "That which his Majesty has ordered to be furnished of the succour requested by the Pope's Nuncio for Ireland, in conformity with his memorial, namely."
    The Nuncio is to appoint an ecclesiastic to go to Biscay to see after this provision, and Juan Martinez de Recalde, who serves his Majesty on that coast, is to be written to in the King's name, ordering him to help the expedition, a similar order being also sent to the officers of justice in the province, authorising them to raise 400 men, but without drum beat or standard.
    Besides the 100 pikes already ordered for the expedition 100 more are to be sent—200 pikes in all.
    Besides the 100 harquebusses already ordered 30 more are to be sent —130 harquebusses, or muskets, in all.
    Besides the 200 swords ordered another 100 are to be given—300 swords in all.
    Instead of 25 or 30 barrels of powder as ordered, 30 full barrels are to be given, and some saltpetre, sulphur, and "artificial fire."
    The warrant for 200 quintals of Gallician biscuit is to be returned, and another will be given for 400 quintals, on the Biscay coast.
    In addition to the biscuit a proportionate quantity of wine and other victuals will be given on his Majesty's account.
    Besides the 5 pieces of iron ordnance already given from Santander 5 more similar pieces are to be provided, as well as some necessary appurtenances.
    Two ships may be taken from the coast of Biscay, and his Majesty will pay the wages of the crews, and the cost of the ships for four months. The ships to be of 300 tons each.
    All the persons who are to undertake the raising and conveying the troops are to be Italians, appointed by the Nuncio, and a list of the persons now in Madrid available for this is now enclosed. (A list of three Italian captains is attached.)
    As regards the 50,000 ducats requested, although his Holiness makes the request that they should be taken from the Toledo payment, his Majesty orders that the sum of 25,000 ducats from this source in two instalments, is to be given to the Nuncio, and the other 25,000 ducats will be provided by him, so that the 50,000 may be sent in succour as desired. All the munitions, victuals, ships, &c., mentioned are to be on his Majesty's account.—8th November 1579.
  • 4. It held out for two months longer and was surprised and captured on the 29th June.