Simancas: June 1581, 16-30

Pages 134-139

Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 3, 1580-1586. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1896.

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


June 1581, 16-30

24 June. 105. Bernardino de Mendoza to the King.
On the 15th I wrote to your Majesty what had passed between the Queen and myself respecting audience. On the 17th, which was the fourth day of the time I had fixed, she sent to say that, if I wished to see her, I was to go by water and she would await me in a gallery overlooking the river. I arrived there, and landed at a private door, and on ascending to the gallery was met and entertained by Hatton, Captain of the Guard, being shortly afterwards joined by the Queen, who was accompanied only by the earl of Sussex, and had no lady with her. The others retired to the end of the gallery, leaving me alone with the Queen. I suspect that the reason why she did not give me audience before her ladies and other courtiers, was for fear I might be very angry, which she did not wish them to see. She therefore took me so far apart that no one in the gallery could hear one word of what passed.
After receiving me with many endearments, she began to complain that the soldiers who had been sent to Ireland had come with your Majesty's consent. She said she did not want to quarrel with anyone, but if she saw that people were disturbing her she would find means to do the same to them. This was set forth in a wordy harangue, tracing the troubles in the Netherlands from their beginning, and setting forth her good offices therein. I listened to it all, as I saw that she had been well armed for the fray by her Councillors, and then I replied that she evidently wanted to be beforehand with me, and to prevent my complaints by her supposed grievances about Ireland. These I said I would leave until I had another opportunity of seeing her, as they were as groundless as they were numerous. I would therefore at present only deal with the treatment which her officers had extended to me, to the prejudice of her own Crown, since they denied me the rights of nations, which even savages recognise as inviolable. I said that certain constables and officers of justice of hers, professing to act by order of the Council, had taken the boy from my doors, he being a subject of your Majesty and a domestic servant of my house. I pointed out the scandal of the matter in this way, and said that the constables had told me that they acted by her express orders, which I could not otherwise than believe, seeing that they did not hang the men the next morning for having used her name without warrant ; nor could I believe that I could stay here with security fer myself, since, neither on my part nor that of the boy, had anything been done to the prejudice of her realm. I said this because Walsingham had told her all about the agreement with the Hollanders, and had shown her the arrangements I had made with them, which had been sent hither by Orange. She then sent and summoned the earl of Leicester and Sussex, and told them that they were to make strict inquiry into the case and to report the result to her, in order that she might give me full satisfaction. She then again raised the question of Ireland, and said that she thought my desire to see her arose from my having received special orders from your Majesty with a letter of excuse about Ireland, since she had sent to tell me that, until there was some message about this she would not receive me. This is the exact contrary of what the two secretaries told me, as I wrote on the 23rd of October, which was that, as I was a Minister of your Majesty, she would not receive me until she had ascertained whether the soldiers who came to Ireland were sent by your Majesty's advice, for which purpose she would send a special envoy to your Majesty, or otherwise. I said that, in consideration of this, I had no reason to repeat what I had often said upon the subject, but had only to wait until she had satisfied herself by inquiry, giving her time to do this, as I had, by not requesting audience. She now knew that, not only had confessions been obtained from soldiers in Ireland, but the men had been brought hither, and some of them had been released who had expressed a desire to speak with her. I judged, therefore, that she would now be fully informed upon the matter, and have received a reply from Spain, which might have convinced her that the succour was really sent by the Pope to the insurgents. She replied that she had in her possession an order signed by your Majesty for the raising of the troops, and as I had certain information that this was a lie, and that the prisoners had not confessed such a thing, but had only said that they were sent from the Pope, I replied that I could hardly believe that, unless I saw the paper itself. She replied that it was true, and she had the memorial which Cardinal Riario (fn. 1) had given to your Majesty on the matter. I asked whether she knew the answer, whereupon she said there was no reason to tell me that, if the business was not to be discussed now, but she would do so later. I told her that in plain Spanish it was a decided negative, and your Majesty had given such a reply in order to set her an example not to help the rebels in the Netherlands with troops, munitions, and provisions, such as went from here daily, and also that she might restore Drake's plunder and punish the pirate, as well as refusing to lend ear to Souza or helping the rebels in Portugal. I said, in this way the evils of the past might partly be remedied, but if she did not act thus, and further irritated your Majesty with new causes of complaint, she might consider what would happen. I did not wish to go further into details, in order to leave her in suspense and to give me another reason for seeing her. My object had been simply to touch lightly upon the three points to see how she took them, and the result of this was her saying that she did not wish to break with your Majesty, and that the king of France had done more harm than she had done in the matter of Portugal. To this I replied that the fact of the king of France doing evil was no reason why she should do so likewise.
It is impossible for me to express to your Majesty the insincerity with which she and her Ministers proceed. In addition to repeating to me the very opposite of the message she had sent, she contradicts me every moment in my version of the negotiations. I understood from her and Cecil, whom I afterwards saw, and who is one of the few Ministers who show any signs of straightforwardness, that they had learnt that your Majesty was going to write to the Queen assuring her that the succour had not been sent to Ireland on your behalf, and although I assured them that the matter concerned the Pope alone, he said they wished to see a letter from your Majesty on the matter. I replied that, after I had, as your Majesty's Minister, given them the assurance, no more affirmation was required. If I had not shown spirit, which is the thing which moves the Queen and her Ministers most, I have no doubt, such is their insolence, that I should never have been able to get conference with them. This alone has enabled me to hold my own with them until now, thus gaining time for matters to develop themselves.
I understand that the boy they took from me has been sent back again hither from Zeeland at the instance of Walsingham, in case the Queen should press him very hardly upon the matter. I know where he is lodged, but I have not made any efforts to claim him, as I am of opinion that, the plan being discovered and the money irrecoverable from the sureties, it will be more to your Majesty's interest, if the Queen do not offer proper official reparation, that I should not press especially for the boy to be restored to me.—London, 24th June 1581.
106. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
In my former letters I have informed your Majesty of the condition of the ships which were being made ready here. At the same time as the communications were going on between the Queen and myself, Drake and Bingham and others opened negotiations on behalf of some of the councillors, with the merchants here who owned the best vessels, with a view of purchasing them and sending them on the Indian voyage. This referred not only to those which were actually in England at the time, but also to others which the owners are expecting to arrive from Spain and the Levant ten or twelve of the best vessels being specified. They also said that three of the Queen's ships which were being purchased by merchants were to be supplied with long boats, and that ground glass and other things against the ravages of worm were to be put in them. All these preparations were made so hurriedly and ostentatiously that it occurred to me that they had some artful end in view, for the following reasons amongst others.
Now that they have lost confidence in the relief of Terceira, their object in fitting out ships would probably be one of three ; namely, to go to the Indies ; to intercept and attack your Majesty's fleets from the East Indies, Tierra Firme and New Spain, the best time for which is the end of August ; or else to molest the fleets from the Mina and Cape de Verd which usually arrive at the end of October. As in the negotiations for purchasing the ships, they talked about waiting for those which were coming from Spain and the Levant, and having regard to the work commenced on the Queen's ships, they could hardly get away before some time in August at the earliest, and it cannot be believed that they would attempt to leave on the long voyage to the Indies at the beginning of the winter. Nor could they expect to do much against the Indian fleets, as they would not leave here until the time they usually arrive ; and they would not go to the expense of fitting out twelve ships, as they say, which will cost at least 60,000 crowns, for the purpose only of taking the flotillas from Cape de Verd and the Mina. It was evident to me, therefore, that their object in making a show of arming at the present time, was that the knowledge of it would reach my ears, and that I might be beguiled into losing sight of everything else, and address the Queen on this subject alone ; upon which she could quickly reassure me, and put me off the scent of other things by saying that she would see that no ships were fitted out. I perceived the design and would not address her upon the subject, as there would be plenty of time to do what was necessary if the preparations were proceeded with. When they saw that I took no notice of it the talk about purchase and preparation of ships soon slackened after my interview with the Queen. Although I am told that Drake himself said that he had been ordered to suspend the fitting out of the ships, and I see no possibility of their being able to leave for the next two months, I am still keeping my eyes open so as to lose no opportunity of acting in your Majesty's interests.— London, 24th June 1581.
107. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
Since reporting the departure of the French ambassadors, I have heard that Leicester suggested to Secretary Pinart that they should keep up a private correspondence about affairs, and that Pinart told him that the secretaries of France were not in the habit of doing such things, and he had better not write to him, for he would not answer. When there was any business about which he wished to treat with the King his master, he might communicate it to the ambassador here, who would write it in due course without his, Pinart's, mediation.
When the ambassadors left, the Queen hinted that she might send a great Embassy to France in return, and Leicester has approached Marchaumont to persuade him to write to Alençon and to France urging the King to ask the Queen to send Leicester as ambassador. Marchaumont has sent M. de Vray to Alençon about this, and the Queen has also dispatched Somers, one of her secretaries, with letters for him. The marriage business has taken a fresh turn, as the Queen says now that, if she marries, it will be for the purpose of giving peace to Europe by pacifying France, bringing the Netherlands to submit to your Majesty, and releasing the Queen of Scotland ; under cloak of which she is pressing more than ever for the relief of Cambrai. She has been much grieved at the advice she has from her ambassador in France of the issuing of the proclamation by the King ordering Frenchmen who go to the Netherlands to be punished as rebels, this being an artifice to keep the marriage matter pending and prevent the downfall of Alençon.
She has given leave, as usual, to the Queen of Scotland to go to the baths and allows her to have a coach, which is a greater privilege than she has hitherto enjoyed.
An English ship which went with merchandise to Zante left there without a cargo, with the intention of robbing at the entrance of the Gulf of Venice. She took two Turkish vessels with Indian and Greek goods, with which she went to Malta. The news has arrived here, and it is impossible for me to exaggerate the energy displayed all round the coast to arrest the ship, as they have already done the merchants who loaded her. This has been done without any complaint being made in the matter, and only in the fear that the Turk may arrest all English goods there as soon as he hears of it. Your Majesty may well imagine therefore, that if you were to allow this course to be taken in your dominions, (fn. 2) how quickly they would restore the plunder they take daily. They are not now content with stealing merchandise alone, but maltreat and even kill many men whom they capture, and for months past I am constantly sending back to Spain sailors and other subjects of your Majesty, who are arriving at these ports and are expelled without any form of trial ; and clamour as I may, the Council will provide no remedy.— London, 24th June 1581.
26 June. 108. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
I wrote on the 24th that I had learned of the arrival here of a Portuguese with two trunks and a black velvet cushion, braided with gold. He went to stay in the house of Juan Rodriguez de Souza, his guide being a Portuguese physician of the Queen called Dr. Lopez, who has been the leader of Souza all through. Although Dr. Lopez came with this Portuguese, he did not come to London, but went straight to Nonsuch, where Leicester was hunting, and the latter saw the Queen immediately afterwards. After Souza and Lopez had seen Leicester and the latter had conferred with the Queen, they started for Dover, Lopez telling a great friend of his, an Italian, that he was going to meet Don Antonio who was already in England, having come to Calais and landed with the eight or ten Portuguese who accompanied him disguised as sailors. Doubtless Souza, for this reason, went over to Calais, as he did with the Frenchmen. Although I have on other occasions reported the arrival of Don Antonio in France and other places, it now appears more likely to be true than before, as I have been informed that Lord Cobham also told a certain Fleming that Don Antonio was very shortly coming to supper with him, and that if he, the Fleming, would pretend to be his, Cobham's, servant, he would see him for himself. I have also learnt that eight or ten Portuguese did land at Dover, and the person who told me came with them as far as Rochester. They seemed to him to be persons of position, and could not have been Count Vimioso's people, as he was known to be at Tours. All this has set the rumour afloat that the man is Don Antonio himself. In case this should be so, as I have already prepared the Queen in the way your Majesty ordered, I have sent to ask for audience, and in the meanwhile will ascertain if it be he or not. The person who has seen the man describes him as being under the middle height, with a thin face and very dark, the hair and beard being somewhat grey, and the eyes green, which description tallies with Don Antonio, both in Antonio de Castillo's opinion and mine, as I saw him 16 years since in Madrid. I will instantly send a special courier to your Majesty when I have ascertained, and will address the Queen as your Majesty orders. If it be not he, I will speak to her on other subjects.—London, 26th June 1581.


  • 1. Filippo Sega, Bishop of Piacenza, Papal Nuncio at Madrid. This document with the King's reply will be found in the B.M. MSS. Add. 28,420. See Vol. 2 of this Calendar, page 666.
  • 2. In the King's hand :—"It will be well to consider this. Remind me of it."