Simancas: September 1568

Pages 70-75

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

This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. All rights reserved.


September 1568

6 Sept. 48. Guerau De Spes to the King.
I arrived in this island on the 3rd instant, and found awaiting me in Dover Antonio de Guaras and all the Spaniards resident here, who accompanied me full of love and desire to serve your Majesty. The ambassador Guzman de Silva received me kindly, and we have already begun to discuss matters of your Majesty's service. The Queen is making a progress, and Guzman will come with me when I go to salute her and give her an account of John Man's affair, and will accompany me until I am fully acquainted with the persons in the Court and all that concerns them. He will then leave for the Isle of Wight, where he has given orders that the ship in which his goods are embarked should meet him, and whence he will sail for Spain.
John Man's household have arrived here by sea, from Biscay where their master landed in consequence of ill-health, with the intention of coming through France to Boulogne. A servant of the Marquis de Sarria accompanies him. I met the household the day before yesterday in Canterbury on their way to Dover, where they expected their master's arrival.
There is nothing new here nor of the queen of Scotland's affairs, excepting what Guzman de Silva writes.—London, 6th September 1568.
15 Sept. 49. The King to the Duke of Alba.
Diego de Guzman will have written to you an account of what passed with the queen of Scotland and her complaints against the queen of England, in view of which she begs me to help her to extricate herself from the trouble in which she is, which may be called an honourable imprisonment. She assures me that she will gladly die if necessary to preserve our holy Catholic faith. It has caused me great sorrow to see a Princess thus maltreated by her own subjects, and, for this and religious reasons, I am willing to help her in her sufferings ; but I have refrained from taking any decision or answering her autograph letter, of which I enclose a copy, until you tell me what you think of her business, and in what way, and to what extent, I should assist her. I therefore beg and enjoin you to write to me on this by the first opportunity, and to encourage the Queen from there as best you can, to persevere firmly in her good purpose, as it is clear that whilst she does so, God will not abandon her. The Escorial, 15th September 1568.
18 Sept. 50. Guerau De Spes to the King.
I wrote to your Majesty by Guzman de Silva, who left Newbury on the 13th, and I presume he will have already sailed. From him your Majesty will have a trustworthy account of all affairs here. On my way to London I came across a Scotch gentleman, a servant of the queen of Scots, who was coming post from Paris, and was one of those who, when I was there, came to speak to me. He bore a letter for me from Don Francés de Alava, and was in great trouble about his mistress's affairs, as, it seems, they are pressing her much and trying to force her and the country to entirely abandon the Catholic religion. This gentleman was on his way to beg permission to go to his Queen and, after having seen her, to proceed to Scotland. I told him I brought a letter from your Majesty and another from the Queen for his mistress, but I had them in London. He said he would come for them, which he did yesterday afternoon, when I handed him the letters and told him that it was advisable, in the interests of his mistress, that I should not be seen much in the matter ; and as she was so discreet and devout I was sure that in this adversity she would adopt the best course to enable her to return to her kingdom, always excepting the changing of the religion. When she was at liberty, I said, her vassals would gradually return to their love and obedience, and she could count upon the support of Christian Princes. He said he would discuss the whole matter with her and would let me know, by a trustworthy person, what was decided. The deputies will go to York at the end of this month and I will inform your Majesty of what happens.
By Guzman de Silva I advised the arrival of Cardinal Chatillon. He is accompanied by the bishop of Arles who is a son of Monluc, although his actions are very different from those of his father, and by M. de Lange. He escaped from a house of his, called Brac, and embarked at Tréport. He was received by Lord Cobham, Governor of the county of Kent, and the Queen having been informed, she sent a company to meet them. The French ambassador M. de la Forest, also went, but missed him on the road and went straight to the house of Thomas Gresham, this Queen's factor, where the Cardinal was to stay. La Forest received him cap in hand, with much respect, which confirms the general opinion that he is a heretic ; certainly a nephew of his who is here and his secretary are so. (fn. 1) It is certain now that this ambassador is leaving here presently, as he told me the other day when Guzman and I met him as we came from an interview with the Queen. The Cardinal dresses in cape, hat, and sword, and has been to hear the preaching of two ministers, great knaves and vassals of your Majesty, one a Spaniard and the other a Sicilian. Yesterday afternoon the Cardinal went to a pleasure house that Gresham has a league away from here. The Queen has ordered all the Councillors to be summoned and they left here this week with the duke of Norfolk and the earl of Sussex. I understand the Cardinal will remain in Reading. The bishop of Arles went first to see the Queen, and I am informed that, immediately afterwards, they brought out from the Tower here ten pieces of field artillery, three hundred harquebusses, eight hundred bows, a hundred pikes, a hundred halberds, and many corslets, and a store of powder and balls. It is said that they were going to bring them to Windsor, but I am told that it was all shipped to-night in a ship which in the course of the tide was soon out of the river. I am also informed that fifteen of the best ships are being fitted out and that troops are being mustered in the north. I will advise what else I hear to your Majesty and the duke of Alba, to whom I communicated at once the arrival of Cardinal Chatillon. (fn. 2)
I have just heard that the heretic bishop of London has visited the Cardinal and has promised him to get the Church to give two hundred thousand ducats for his succour, which it is thought it would do.—London, 18th September 1568.
24 Sept. 51. Guerau De Spes to the King.
I wrote to your Majesty at length by Guzman de Silva, who left Newbury on the 13th, and embarked at Portsmouth, although with contrary weather. I hope he will shortly arrive, and that, by his report, your Majesty will well understand the state of affairs here and in Scotland. I wrote on the 18th, through the duke of Alba, informing your Majesty of the arrival of Cardinal Chatillon, and of the former bishop of Arles, and said how well they had been entertained by Thomas Gresham and welcomed by the French ambassador, to the great surprise of all good people. I have received four of your Majesty's letters to-day, ordering me to report that John Man had been despatched from there. He has not yet arrived, although his servants, who came by sea, have been here for some time. Guzman de Silva, before he left here,reported his (Man's) departure, and also the death of the Prince, who is now in heaven. I have nothing to say on this point as, in the matter of satisfying the Queen about John Man, Guzman de Silva fully informed your Majesty. Your Majesty's letters of 14th and 16th ultimo order me to endeavour to obtain restitution of a galleon with her cargo which was stolen last May by an English pirate from Domingo de Olano of Monreal de Deva in Guipuzcoa. I have learnt that this ship was afterwards captured by one of the Queen's vessels called the "Lebrela," and was taken, with all her cargo, into an Irish port, where she still is. The merchant-owners of the cargo have sent thither to recover their property, and I think they will get the greater part of it. I have written on the subject to the viceroy of Ireland, but will do so again and ask the Queen also to write. I will use every effort to obtain the restitution of the ship to its owner, if possible, and will try to discover the name of the pirate who made the capture, in order that he may be punished, and will advise your Majesty.
Three days since the bishop of Rennes, the brother of the (French) ambassador here, arrived on a mission to the Queen from the Queen (mother) of France. He has requested audience, and I understand his object is to become a mediator when the deputies meet at York, and he is about to ask the Queen's permission for this. The Queen arrived the night before last at Windsor, and I intend to ask for audience to discuss this matter of the pirate, and also about the postmastership here. I will also gently ask the Queen her intentions regarding the queen of Scotland.
On the day I left Madrid a sealed document was handed to me, drawn up by order of the fiscal of your Majesty's Indian Council, for me to use against John Hawkins, an English pirate. I read it carefully before presenting it in order to master its contents, and, it seems to me, that it produces very little proof against him, as all that it alleges has been confessed by Hawkins himself. Hernalde and Cristobal de Santisteban, two of your Majesty's officers at the ports of Montespi, Isabela, and Puerto de la Plata, in the island of Hispaniola, gave a written license to John Hawkins to trade there, and received from him 105 slaves and a caravel as an equivalent for the dues accruing to your Majesty. They also agreed to register, in accordance with your Majesty's decrees, all the merchandise which he obtained by barter there, and consigned to Seville. He now claims these consignments, and alleges that he has committed no offence in your Majesty's seas, having only traded by permission of your Majesty's representatives. It therefore appears to me best not to show this document to the English, until your Majesty may have had it reconsidered and send me your orders. Since his voyage in 1563 Hawkins has made another voyage with a finer fleet and returned with great wealth. I have no information as to whether, during this last voyage, he did anything wrong or traded in your Majesty's dominions. After his return he again despatched his fleet, but remained at home himself, but is now there (i.e., at the Indies) more powerful than ever. He was to have been here at the beginning of this month, as he usually comes at this time of the year, but he has not arrived yet, and the Queen is very anxious about it, as she is deeply interested. She promised Guzman de Silva that he (Hawkins) should not trade any more in your Majesty's dominions, and I shall be glad if your Majesty will have me informed as to whether he has done so since 1563.
Your Majesty orders me to proceed carefully in the queen of Scotland's business in conformity with your Majesty's general instructions. I will do so, and will carefully advise everything that occurs in this most important matter.
I wrote on the 17th that a servant of the queen of Scotland, who had spoken to me in Paris, had arrived here with a letter of credence for me from Don Francés. I gave him your Majesty's letter to his mistress. Another Scotch gentleman arrived here yesterday sent by his Queen to France, and he has now gone to Court to ask for his passport. He brought me two letters from his mistress to Guzman de Silva, but, as the latter has not left his cipher, or even told me that he had one with her, I have been unable to read them, and therefore send them enclosed, in order that Guzman may decipher them if he has arrived. I understand they will contain very little more than what the gentleman told me verbally, but I have kept a copy of them, and will try to get the Queen's cipher. The gentleman told me of the affliction and distress of his mistress, and, amongst other things, that the English want her and all her subjects to adopt the new religion of this country. If the Christian Princes abandon her, she says that, being a woman and alone, she does not know what she can do. She is more distressed on this point than she is even at the attempts of the English to interfere with her in the government of her country. I have been assured here that all that this gentlemen tells me is true, and that the Council is trying to do as he says. The arrangement made for the deputies to meet at York at the end of the month has been delayed by Cardinal Chatillon's arrival. I replied to the gentleman in general and complimentary terms, as he was not going straight to his mistress. I will send a letter by him to Don Francés giving an account of affairs here.
Cardinal Chatillon has arrived at Reading, and has seen the Queen almost secretly. He has also had several consultations with the Council, who, I understand, however, have not yet decided to resolutely help the French rebels, although many people wish such help to be given, and, I am told, that the duke of Norfolk is urgently in favour of open aid being extended to them. At all events, it is certain that no decision has yet been arrived at, and that nothing has been done except to take the munitions out of the Tower of London, which, it is said, were shipped, although report still insists that they have been sent to Windsor Castle. Troops are not being raised, but all the houses in the country are being searched to see that they have their firearms in order, as prescribed by the law. The Cardinal has now returned to Thomas Gresham's house two leagues from here. The French ambassador excused himself to me for having gone to visit him, saying that he wished to dissemble with him about his being in disgrace, in order to hear what he would say. The ambassador tells me that he will have to stay here a short time longer, as M. de la Mothe, who is to succeed him, has been sent by his Queen to the duchess of Vendome. I am carefully going over the Flemish documents. If matters calm down in the States, it would seem best that the settlement arranged at Bruges should be carried out, which was not done at the time in consequence of the troubles there.—London, 24th September 1568. (fn. 3)


  • 1. Vulcob, the nephew of Bochetel de la Forest, was, as is here suggested, for some years a means of communication between the Huguenots and the English Court.
  • 2. Odet de Coligny Cardinal Chatillon was the brother of Gaspard de Coligny, Admiral of France, leader of the Huguenot party.
  • 3. This letter, as it at present exists, is, in places, unintelligible. I have endeavoured to reduce it to a connected meaning by re-arranging, but in no case altering, the text.