Simancas: October 1568

Pages 75-82

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

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October 1568

9 Oct. 52. Guerau De Spes to the King.
I wrote to your Majesty at length on the 6th, 13th, 18th, and 25th ultimo, and on 2nd instant, and the last letter I received is of 16th August. Juan De Castro de la Loo has been sent to Ireland to recover Domingo de Olano's ship and the cargo which had been stolen. I have an appointment with the Queen for the 11th instant, and I will press upon her the need for punishing the English pirates Edward Cook and Thomas Uffal (?) who are already prisoners, and that the rest should be captured to root out piracy thoroughly, although, looking at the tendency of these people to rob, it will be a difficult task. I will also speak of the grievance of not giving the office of Postmaster to Godefredo, a subject of your Majesty and a Catholic, who was elected by the powers in accordance with ancient custom. Cecil is the obstacle, as he wants to appoint a heretic, and says his object is to preserve intact the rights of the Postmaster-General of this country, who is now ambassador in Muscovy, and has left Cecil in charge of his affairs.
I sent your Majesty the letters from the queen of Scotland, and another servant of hers has since arrived disguised as a merchant, who says he is going to the duke of Alba with letters from her and will advise me when the boat which is to take him over is ready. The regent James is reported to have arrived in York with a guard of a hundred horsemen and all the deputies are now there. The Queen of Scotland knows how to ingratiate herself with her keepers, and has many on her side. In the neighbourhood, which is the part of the country where there are most Catholics, she has many sympathisers, and it will not be difficult to release her, and even raise a great revolt against this Queen ; but it will be more prudent that your Majesty should not appear in this, and I will do nothing unless I receive orders from your Majesty or the Duke. Cecil is much against the queen of Scotland, and so jealous in the matter that, as soon as he saw Beton, the Queen's servant, he asked him whether he had been with his complaints to the Spanish ambassador, and whether he came often to see me, to which he replied that he had no dealings whatever with me. What I am afraid of is that they might poison the poor Queen, although she has won over greatly the Vice-Chamberlain and those who guard her, he (i.e., Vice-Chamberlain Knollys) being a near relative of the queen of England. Frenchmen arrive here every day, and in such numbers that London is half in revolt against the foreigners who are so numerous.
The Cardinal's wife has arrived with her children, a great following, and all the fittings of her house, so it is probably untrue that the officers of the king of France had sacked their house. No such thing happened.
Captain Sores, Baron de Morbec, the president of Bordeaux, and many others, have arrived here, and have divulged to the Queen the plot they have to capture Havre de Grace by the help of the Governor and a Gascon Captain. I at once informed the French ambassador, who thanked me greatly, and I have written also to the Duke and Don Francés.
They have given to the Cardinal Ham House, next to Sion House, and they say the Queen has granted him a hundred pounds a month. Great efforts are being made to get the Queen to help them with money, which they want more than men.
The infantry musters here are not proceeding very warmly. The Queen has ordered as many harquebusses as have been sent to Rochelle, and great stores of munitions, such as muskets, &c.
John Man is here, and the servant of the Marquis de Sarria has gone back without seeing me and without hearing mass. I do not think it is a good sign.
A Scotch gentleman of the house of Stuart has arrived here and announces that he is going to Scotland to raise 500 horse for M. de Condé.
I send enclosed a copy of the claims now pending judicially here, and, although little justice is done, I think of mentioning the matter to the Queen, gently at first, but afterwards more rigour will be necessary, for nothing else is heard of here but the robberies they have committed on your Majesty's subjects.
I learned from the servant, whom I sent to request audience for me, that they have detained in the Court that Scotsman who first brought me the letters in cipher for Guzman de Silva, on the accusation that he was concerned in the murder of the King. Lady Margaret thinks that he was, and has sent to tell me so. This Queen wishes to make use of her to injure the queen of Scotland. Beton assures me that this man was not concerned in the murder, although he is mentioned in the pardon granted by the Parliament to the Earl of Bothwell. The latter is still a prisoner in Denmark. The deputies are as follows : For the queen of England, the duke of Norfolk, the earl of Sussex, Sir Ralph Sadler ; for the queen of Scotland, the bishop of Ross, Lord Herries, Lord Boyd, the abbot of Kilwinning, the laird of Lochinvar ; for the Governor, governor Murray, Lord Morton, Lord Lindsay, the bishop of Orkney, who married them (i.e., Mary and Bothwell), and secretary Lethington, Master James Magill, Master Henry Balnaves, and the Lord Provost. (fn. 1) I am sure that this Queen has helped Orange with money, and will now help Condé, the money being usually obtained in Antwerp. I have informed the Duke where he may learn what goes on in this matter, in order that he may take what measures may be necessary. Leonardo Tadeo, a Florentine, is the man who can secretly inform him.
Whilst writing this, a trustworthy person has come from the Court to tell me that the Scots, to the number of 200, have managed to enter the town of Berwick, and had almost taken possession of it, killing Marshal Drury (fn. 2) and other officers and soldiers, and if they had been stronger they would have kept possession of the town, but they were few and without a head. In the end they were defeated, but with the loss of the English who were in the town.
I am informed that the Cardinal seeks 600,000 ducats.—London, 9th October 1568.
14 Oct. 53. The King to Guerau De Spes.
By advices from Don Francés de Alava, and by what I hear from the French ambassador and a gentleman of the chamber named Lignerolles, we have learned of the proposal which the English ambassador in France had made to the King. It was, in effect, to persuade and advise him at great length that he should not allow the persecution of the Protestants, but that all should be allowed to live in their own way without molestation. He ended by signifying, although not openly, that otherwise the Queen could not avoid helping them. The business was so important that I was asked by the King how he should treat this. I answered that he should treat the Protestants as rebels, as in fact they are, and thereupon all possible difficulty would disappear, since no Prince, however barbarous he may be, can countenance rebels who are equally against all Princes. I said I was sure that if he treated them in this way the Queen would not help them, and that, for greater certainty, I would instruct you to approach her on the subject ; and I now request that you will do so, without mentioning religion in any way, but gently reminding her that I shall be pleased if she will not interfere with the king of France in this matter, but let him punish his rebel subjects, and that she will not allow her country to favour or promote such an atrocious crime as rebellion. She herself will see that this should be her course, and my advice is mainly inspired by my desire for her tranquillity and the maintenance of peace between her and the king of France. I am sure she will take it in good part that I should have given her this advice.—Madrid, 14th October 1568.
18 Oct. 54. Guerau De Spes to the King.
The Queen told me that John Man had arrived ; that he was a very learned and worthy man, and she understood that the English who are in Madrid had plotted against him, causing your Majesty to be displeased with him. I told her that the English had nothing whatever to do with it, but that he himself was entirely to blame for speaking so loosely of things, which need not have been mentioned there. She told me that she had been assured that he had not spoken about religious differences, except to one or two Englishmen. I said that from the account I had, John Man was much to blame, whereupon she said she should like to see the statement to which I referred. I said that as the affair was now past, I did not think I need show it to her, but that if she wished I would give her a summary of it. I will have this summary made, and if she asks me for it again, I will give it to her. If it is finished in time for this post I will enclose a copy herewith. She will probably not recollect it again, but the coming of John Man has reopened the wound.—London, 18th October 1568.
23 Oct. 55. Guerau De Spes to the King.
I take the opportunity of a cutter leaving for Biscay to write to your Majesty to say that by letters from Antwerp I learn that the prince of Orange, with 14,000 infantry and 6,000 horse, passed the Meuse the previous night to within three leagues of your Majesty's camp. He brought no artillery, and lost some horses in the passage. As soon as the Duke was informed of it, he went with his army against him, and I have since received letters from Geronimo de Curiel, dated the 17th, informing me of the progress of your Majesty's fortuuate arms. As the Duke could not write to me himself, Curiel sent me copy of a letter which secretary Juan de Albornoz had written to him in the Duke's name on the 10th instant, which is as follows :—
"The Duke has learnt that it has been decided by the natives, and by the Italians and Germans, to send a daily courier to learn news of this most fortunate army, whereat his Excellency is greatly pleased, and is delighted to be able to inform them, for their satisfaction, of the good news of the defeat of these rebels, who for the last three days have eaten nothing but apples. They do not bring enough artillery to batter an old dovecote. A nice way to conquer a country. It appears that to-day they are going towards Zantron ; it is to be hoped they are going to pay for the place where the meetings were held. A hundred waggons have been taken from them, and amongst other things have been found in them some custodes, with the holy Sacrament still in them. Please God to punish those who so wickedly insult Him ! Since writing the above the Duke suddenly raised his camp at Wilzen, but I had no time to close this letter. This was caused by information that the Prince was raising his camp near Tongeren. The Duke followed him so closely that our vanguard came into contact with his rearguard a half-a-league on the other side of Tongeren, where 500 or 600 men were killed, but few prisoners taken, although 100 waggons of provisions, clothes, &c., were captured. They are now in a very strong position between two mounds, and the Duke is within a league of their camp, where, it is said, they have entrenched themselves and are suffering from hunger. Many Walloon soldiers are deserting, and though the Duke reconnoitred their position to-day, he did not find the country very suitable for coming to close quarters with them. In their quarters at Tongeren were found many soldiers and waggons which were taken, and the latter given to his soldiers by the Duke. Of the Prince's soldiers, who were naked, the Germans were turned out towards Maestricht, but all those who are subjects of our King are hanged."
This is a copy of the letter, and the courier tells me that the enemy are hard pressed, and no men had gone to join them from any part of Flanders. This news is very distressing for these folks here, who would like to see your Majesty's army destroyed, although there are some good people who wish otherwise. Some, however, are such bare-faced heretics, that they go to St. Pauls to preach and spread false news, by which fictions they entertain the people, who are naturally of a flighty disposition. Amongst the principal of them is Cook, (fn. 3) the father-in law of Cecil and of the Chancellor. He and his two sons-in-law are amongst the most pernicious heretics in Europe.
There are four ships here called the "Meda," the "Eyde," the "Gineta," and the "Phoenix," as well as a great ship loaded with stores. It is thought that these vessels will carry the money that the Queen is providing for the prince of Condé's army. She has borrowed money here at 12 per cent., payable in a year, and has given warrants of exemption so that it shall not be considered usury. I do not think that they have been able to get more than 40,000 ducats, and the rest will have to be raised in Antwerp, of which I have informed the duke of Alba. Hamberton, a nephew of the Vice-Admiral, with 30 or 40 young gentlemen, well-armed and mounted, accompanied by many servants and some soldiers, have left port, pretending that the Queen does not know of the expedition, whilst many ships are already asserted to be in the pay of the prince of Condé, and will plunder the ships belonging to the faithful subjects of the king of France. It will be well for ships coming from Spain to be prepared for this, and to come several together for mutual safety.
Cecil came to my house on Sunday last, as was agreed between the Queen and myself. He promised me that the pirates already captured should be promptly and severely punished, and that those who are accused should be arrested, if possible.
I gave him a memorial about the restitution of what had been stolen, and he said he would try to get all restored, where possible. In order that he might be better posted in the matter, I appointed two of the Spaniards resident here to go over each item in detail with him.
The business of the Postmaster is a very difficult one, and the passion shown about it proves how badly disposed these people are towards your Majesty. I have had a statement drawn up as to the customary usage on former occasions in these elections of Postmasters, and will give it to the Queen, as I do not wish to dicuss the matter again with Cecil.
Cecil again mentioned the matter of the "Pontifical History," and, although I assured him that the portions in which the Queen had been disrespectfully spoken of had been burnt by your Majesty's orders, he insisted that the book had been reprinted. I told him that to reprint the book would take fully six months, and I could assure him that neither that book nor any other treating the Queen disrespectfully, would be printed in your Majesty's dominions. It would, I think, not be undesirable for your Majesty to have a letter written to me on this subject, that I may give it to the Queen to satisfy her. All this, doubtless, springs from John Man, and Cecil takes these opportunities to make bad blood between his mistress and us. He declares that your Majesty would not allow the Queen's ambassador to exercise his own religion in your Court, ignoring the just limitations which your Majesty alone imposed upon him ; and even the man who has in his custody the queen of Scotland takes advantage of this falsehood to deny her permission to hear mass, saying that you would not allow the English ambassador to exercise the reformed rites in Spain. The queen of Scotland's affairs will, I think, be long drawn out. During the first few days in York the commissioners banquetted each other, and since then, documents have been produced inculpating this Queen and exculpating the queen of Scotland. Every point is submitted to the Queen here. I have a person to inform me of all that goes on, and have obtained a new cipher with the queen of Scotland, the old one having been lost.— London, 23rd October 1568.
25 Oct. 56. Guerau De Spes to the King.
Whilst the French ambassador was dining with me to-day, a servant of the Portuguese ambassador was sent to inform me that this morning at mass the agents of the bishop of London entered the house and arrested the Englishmen who were present, but the ambassador forbade them to take them prisoners, and subsequently the officers and a great number of people surrounded the house. He wishes me to see whether I can help him, and asks me to tell him what I think he ought to do. The French ambassador and myself were both of opinion that a servant of mine should accompany the Portuguese ambassador's servant to beg the Lord Mayor (fn. 4) to be good enough to go and disperse the people from before the house, but when the Mayor heard that it was a question of the mass, he was in a great rage, and said that if the Bishop wished, he, the Mayor, would rather go with his men to help him. He said it was no good asking him to help men who go to mass. I sent some more of my people to the house of the Portuguese ambassador to say that I thought he ought to inform the Queen, and, at the same time, some of the officials of the Lord Chancellor, who is Cecil's brother-in-law, arrived in great anger and demanded of the ambassador that the Englishmen should be given up, saying that they had no quarrel with him or his people. The ambassador replied that there was no one there but his own servants, and on the arrival of some more Spaniards, and Wilson who was ambassador in Portugal, the constables retired for the present, those who were inside remaining there in the hiding. Probably the Queen would be glad for the Portuguese ambassador to leave after this affront without pressing her more about the prohibition of trade with the Indies and Guinea, as people here are much disturbed by the delay in Hawkins's arrival, and are afraid that the Portuguese fleet has sent him to the bottom, as is reported by a ship which brings the news from Rochelle.—London, 25th October 1568.
30 Oct. 57. Guerau De Spes to the King.
I wrote to your Majesty on the 23rd and 25th by a cutter leaving for Biscay, sending the letters to Juan Martinez de Recalde, and since then the ordinary post from Antwerp has arrived fully confirming all the news, and assuring us of the small, or no, effect produced by the rebel arms in those parts, although it is greater than was at first reported. They (the rebels) hoped to unite with M. de Mouy and other bandits from France. The Duke acts with so much prudence that I hope God will give him entire victory with small loss to us. The heretics here are more impassioned than those in the camp of the prince of Orange itself.
The four ships are ready, and William Winter who accompanied your Majesty when you passed from Dover to Calais has been appointed captain of them. Money is being got together at a furious pace, and 4,000 infantry have been raised in the North.
I enclose the demands made by the Commissioners in York. Two of each party have arrived here to consult with this Queen who is at Hampton Court. I am of opinion that this would be a good opportunity of handling Scotch affairs successfully, and restoring this country to the Catholic religion, and if the Duke were out of his present anxiety and your Majesty wished, it could be discussed. Juan Brucel who wanted to disturb Amsterdam, and another man, a servant of the prince of Orange, called M. de Dolain, arrived here recently and have gone to the Court. I am watching what they arrange, and I am advised that it will be prudent to keep an eye on what Harrington writes from Spain. It would be as well to seize some of his letters.
At this moment the bishop of Ross has sent me, by one of the queen of Scotland's Commissioners, a letter from his mistress, saying that the Bishop will come and see me and give me an account of all her affairs. He leaves now for Hampton Court, and will see me at a fitting hour when he returns.—London, 30th October 1568.
?Oct. 58. The King to Guerau De Spes.
You will have learnt from Guzman de Silva and from Dr. Manuel Alvarez, a member of the king of Portugal's Council, now resident in London, particulars of the business which the latter is negotiating, and, as discussion had been opened for a settlement of the matter (of which I at once informed the King, telling him I was glad to hear it and hoped an arrangement would be effected on fair terms), I have advised him that the best course for Alvarez to adopt will be to make the most favourable terms possible, take leave of the Queen kindly and return to Portugal. As I have the interests of my nephew the King as much at heart as my own, and desire that the matter should be settled to his satisfaction, you will, after discussing his instructions with Manuel Alvarez, speak to the Queen in my name, and in the terms which you think will be most likely to persuade her to the object desired, or, at all events, as near to it as possible. You will also make use. for the purpose, of the Queen's ministers who may be favourable to a settlement of the business, and will assist the ambassador in every way in your power, so that he may return with all speed after arranging the best possible terms. I shall be glad to know what you do in the matter, and, in all things concerning my nephew the King, you will act as if they were for me.—Madrid,? October 1568.


  • 1. The list of Commissioners is not quite correctly given. They were, for Elizabeth, the duke of Norfolk, the earl of Sussex, and Sir Ralph Sadler ; for Mary, Lesly, bishop of Ross, Lord Livingston, Lord Boyd, Lord Herries, Gavin Hamilton of Kilwinning, Sir John Gordon of Lochinvar, and Sir James Cockburn of Skirling ; and for Murray, himself, Morton, the bishop of Orkney, Pitcairn, Commendador of Dunfermling, and Lord Lindsay. Magill of Rankeilor, Balnaves of Hallhill, Maitland of Lethington, and George Buchanan were appointed to attend them as assistants.
  • 2. Sir William Drury, marshal of Berwick. The news was untrue.
  • 3. Sir Anthony Cook.
  • 4. Sir Roger Martin—Mercer.