Simancas: September 1581

Pages 164-175

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

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September 1581

4 Sept.
Paris Archives, K. 1447. 71.
129. The King to Bernardino De Mendoza.
There is no sign of the Fleming you said had been sent hither. The other persons you mention as being the means by which Don Antonio's correspondence is carried on have been arrested, and are being proceeded against. Report every sign or indication you can learn of the matter, so that we may clear it up. (fn. 1)
The countess of Vimioso, Diego Botello's wife, and some other persons, have been banished to Castile, as correspondence might pass through their hands.
I hear from Juan Bautista de Tassis that an ambassador has arrived in France from Scotland, to ascertain whether his master will be addressed as King, and they (the French) have sent to ask the queen of Scotland what they shall do. Report what you hear of this and continue your action in Scotch affairs, in accordance with previous instructions.—Lisbon, 4th September 1581.
4 Sept.
Paris Archives, K. 1447. 73.
130. The King to Bernardino De Mendoza.
The prior and consuls of the city of Seville have written to us, saying that they learn from Zubiaur that the business of the restitution of Drake's plunder is progressing favourably, and that persons have been appointed to examine his claims. He is in hopes of success and they (the prior and consuls) beg me to write to the Queen asking her to have the property delivered to Zubiaur, with as little delay as possible, in virtue of the powers and instructions sent him. As I set forth in the despatch of 23rd February, it is of the highest importance that this property should be recovered, both on account of the great damage to trade by the robbery, and the loss suffered by individuals, and I again ask you to consider whether it would not be well to let Zubiaur do what he can to recover the property that belongs to private persons, or whether you still think the whole should be asked for at once. The decision, as before, is left to you, but I urge you very warmly to do what you can in favour of these individuals, and so far as you consider fitting, to help Zubiaur with the zeal and diligence demanded by the importance of the matter.—Lisbon, 4th September 1581.
7 Sept. 131. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
Since I wrote last, this Queen has received several despatches from Walsingham, and as they were pressing the king of France in the matter of the alliance, which they wished to be offensive and defensive, your Majesty being broken with at once, the French asked Walsingham what the Queen offered on her side, whereupon they were requested to state what they thought she ought to do. To this they replied that if they were to break with you at once, she should immediately disburse 300,000 ducats and contribute 500,000 a year to the cost of the war. As the Queen thinks that her country will not supply so great a sum, she slackened in her demand for a rupture with your Majesty, and adopted another policy, namely, to effect an offensive and defensive league, on condition that, if your Majesty makes war on either of them, they shall be jointly bound to defend each other, but if France or England should make war without the consent of the other party, the latter should not be obliged to come to its aid. Walsingham reports that this is being discussed, and your Majesty will learn from Juan Bautista de Tassis if it be carried through.
Marchaumont told the Queen that it was on her account that Alençon had made peace in France, although he was not the King, and had entered into war in your Majesty's dominions without means ; and this, he said, should be a sufficient proof of his desire to serve her and become her husband. He intimates, also, that Alençon will shortly retire to France, and will at once come thence to England in disguise to ascertain whether the Queen will really marry him or not. He will try to get his brother to delay Walsingham in the meanwhile, so that he should not be here when he, Alençon, arrives, as he looks upon him as the greatest opponent to the marriage.
Besides the 22,000l. which I wrote had been taken by Walsingham, and reached the hands of Alençon, I am assured that the Queen has supplied him with another 20,000l., which sum has been taken in gold, most of it being carried by twelve men sent by Hatton, the Captain of the Guard, on pretence of their serving Alençon at Cambrai at Hatton's cost. The money spent by Alençon for the pay of his men and the victualling of Cambrai, was in the form of newly coined broad-angels, which are those sent from here. I am told that the Queen can let him have no more money this winter, as she has incurred a debt of 100,000l. by her two years' war in Ireland, and for this reason the supplies voted by Parliament were granted six months before the proper time. Most of the money she has provided was coined from the bullion brought by Drake.—London, 7th September 1581.
132. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
I have anticipated your Majesty's orders to advise you of the designs and movements of Don Antonio. Although he is making ready, it is announced, to go to France in ill humour with these people, he is still trying to arrange for arming ships. He saw the Queen the other day, and complained to her that the ships had not been allowed to leave as he had been promised. She replied that she would not on any account make war on your Majesty ; to which he answered that if she would not let his ships go, he hoped she would lend him the 30,000l. which she had promised him on his jewels. The Queen told him that this, too, would be warring against your Majesty, whereupon Don Antonio said that if she would do neither the one thing nor the other she should let him have his jewels back. She asked him in whose possession they were, and he told her that Walsingham her secretary had them, and she promised that she would have them restored. Don Antonio thereupon went and asked Walsingham's wife for them, who said that her husband had left these jewels in her care, among them being the 60-carat diamond, with orders that she was not to give them up, except on payment to her of 2,000l., for which he was surety, in respect of some stores and other things for Don Antonio. When the latter heard this, he asked the Treasurer to write a letter to Walsingham's wife about it, on receipt of which she said that she had since received a fresh letter from her husband in France, telling her not to give up the jewels unless she was paid a thousand pounds, besides the two thousand for which he was responsible. Don Antonio thereupon pressed urgently for a passport to allow him to leave. A certain heretic Spanish friar named Corro, who years ago fled from St. Isidro in Seville, and is now married here, and a professor of writing at Oxford, was brought to London by Leicester to preach to Don Antonio and try to convert him, whilst spying on his actions, and I am told that Don Antonio said to this man, when he found how he was being treated, that his coming to England had been a punishment for his sins, as the people were so fickle, only Leicester being his friend, and Walsingham slightly so. These words were said in great grief and desperation to Corro as a confidant. Don Antonio also tried to sell the ships he had purchased and the stores for them, the rumour being that neither they nor the pirates who were to accompany them would put to sea. On the 5th, however, they changed their opinion, and Leicester came and told him that the Queen would give him leave to send the three ships he had, and four pirates with them ; the largest of 300 tons, and the smallest of 150. They are to meet at the Scilly Isles, and do not carry stores for more than two months, 100 soldiers going in the largest ship and 60 or 80 in the others. The design is to land them at Terceira, if the island should be for Don Antonio. The captains are Portuguese, and the commander, I am told, is Manuel de Silva, who will, after his arrival at Terceira, issue letters of marque in the name of Don Antonio, authorizing the capture of property belonging to your Majesty's subjects, thus freeing Don Antonio from the responsibility of paying any further wages for the pirate ships. If they find the island in submission to your Majesty, the letters of marque will still be given to the English, and they will all come back together, robbing on the way.
The Queen has already had signed a general passport for these seven ships as well as a separate one for each, allowing them to enter or leave any ports in the kingdom. It has been by her orders that Don Antonio has given no letters of marque here, which are to be issued by Silva on his arrival at the island. This is to prevent any complaint from me of what is done, although certainly, if they take any prizes they will be brought hither. Their only design, up to the present, is to make your Majesty spend large sums of money in fitting out fleets in consequence of the sailing of these ships. It has also been decided that the Queen shall fit out three ships in the name of Don Antonio to sail to the East Indies, and try to effect a landing, with the aid of some of his adherents there, who he says are numerous. They would then stay there if they could, and if not, they would carry merchandise for trade, and go to the Moluccas. Frobisher will take these ships, which will sail at Christmas. I can only conclude that the Queen's change of course in letting the ships go must have been caused by her belief that the alliance with the French will be effected, particularly as she has aided them with stores and ammunition, which have been supplied by her officers under Walsingham's guarantee, as if they were not hers. In this way they think to keep the jewels for good, as Don Antonio can neither pay the sum advanced nor get the stones, a time being fixed for repayment of the loan, after which the pledge was to be forfeited.
These eight ships are ready to sail with the first fáir wind, and they declare that, if they find any Spanish ships in the Downs, they will capture them in virtue of separate orders given to each ship by Don Antonio. I send a translation of this order, which has been given in this form, so that if they are separated each ship should know what to do at Terceira.—London, 7th September 1581.
133. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
I sent your Majesty a statement of the infantry and cavalry in the pay of the Queen in Ireland, but the truth is that the foot soldiers do not reach 2,500, with the Irish, and the cavalry not 300. The Viceroy only aims at holding the English portion of the country, and his sallies consist of a few men, hastily conducted. In the course of these raids he not only desolates the land, but kills all the people he encounters, whereby he thinks he will be able to finish with the insurgents, none of whom, however, have yet submitted, because the Irish never think of pardoning any one else, and consequently pardon for themselves does not enter their heads. The Viceroy constantly presses for more troops, but the Queen will not send them, in order to save expense, unless foreign troops come to the island, as she thinks that with the men she has there she will be able, in time, to bring the insurgents to submission. The insurgent forces are as follows. Baltinglas is at Dingle, a strong monntain near Dublin, with about 300 Irishmen to defend the place when necessary. The Queen has news, which I have confirmed, that the Viceroy had been informed that this Baron had gone to Spain and left in his place a gentleman named Feagh MacHugh, who had recently deserted the Queen's service with 500 men.
The earl of Desmond is in his own country with 500 men, but when there is any fear of his enemies he can gather 1,500, and with them hold his woods and fortresses.
Pelham, the General of Artillery who was acting as Viceroy before the arrival of Lord Grey, has, with other captains, petitioned the Queen to grant them the lands of the earl of Desmond, which they offer to conquer at their own cost and people with Englishmen. She has not granted this, but they are still discussing the conditions under which it will be granted.
O'Neil is in his own country, on the borders of which he has the men necessary for its defence. It is impossible to state his strength, as it is ruled by the behaviour of the Viceroy. The plan of the latter is to cajole him with fair words and secretly treat with his enemies.
If the Queen sends no more troops than she now has, it is improbable that any of the insurgents will submit, as they have not hitherto done so, and the Viceroy is powerless to make them, especially in the winter, as the Irish are then usually masters of the land, the English being unable to withstand the severity of the climate. If, therefore, they do not fall apart from mere feebleness and natural inconstancy, there is no apparent reason why they should not hold out much longer than next summer, unless much more energy is displayed by the Queen. It is expected that there will be a great famine in the island this year, in consequence of the Viceroy's having burned the land to prevent sowing of crops. The fanega of wheat was worth a hundred reals in Dublin last summer, (fn. 2) although the Queen allowed free export from England thither, and sent four thousand quarters for her own garrisons.
I received with the despatch of the 22nd July the credit of 2,000 crowns which your Majesty orders to be given to that person (fn. 3) for the care he displays in your Majesty's interest. I have told him what your Majesty orders me, and given him 1,000 crowns, taking the opportunity, of my knowledge, that he was seeking a loan on pledges. I told him that I had no reply from your Majesty about him, but in the meanwhile, as he was in need, I would lend him 1,000 crowns, which I thought would make him value the favour more, and bind him with the certain hope that he would get the rest. This is the only way that Englishmen are kept faithful, for if they do not actually see the reward before their eyes, they forget all past favours ; and so, in this case, we shall keep him longer by giving him the money in two payments.
I have not pressed the Queen for an answer to the various points I had discussed with the Ministers, nor have I asked for audience, both to keep on the balance with them, as your Majesty orders, with my hand always on the tiller to change my course according to affairs in France, and because, Don Antonio being already leaving, I do not want them to make a favour of his going.
With regard to my complaining strongly of their having received him, notwithstanding my urgent protests against their allowing him to purchase and fit out ships here (which will be of no benefit to him as he has only spent in this way the little money he brought with him), it has been rather a favour which the Queen has done to your Majesty, besides disclosing the evil minds by which they are animated, that she should have always pressed Don Antonio to stay.
With regard to the restitution of the boy they took from me, the only thing done by the Queen about it was to direct Leicester and Sussex to inquire how it had come about, because a few days afterwards they sent him back to Flushing again, and released the constables.—London, 7th September 1581.
134. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
I received your Majesty's despatch of the 22nd of July, and will, on the first opportunity, convey to the queen of Scotland what your Majesty commands. I have hitherto entertained her as directed. I understand that she is well, but more retired than formerly, although they gave her leave to go to the baths. I have sent, through Cardinal de Granvelle, the letters which she forwarded to me for Sir Francis Englefield.
I have tried also to spread the view in Scotland of how advantageous it would be to the King if he were to submit to the Catholic Church, although this is a difficult thing to do without its coming to the ears of this Queen, as nearly all the Scotch councillors are declared Protestants, who would inform her instantly, and she would thereupon become more closely attached to the French. I have, therefore, had to wait until I could discuss it with some of the principal Catholics here, by whose means alone was it possible to attempt it. I pointed out to them that, in view of the present position of neighbouring countries and of the Netherlands, the first step to be taken was to bring Scotland to submit to the Holy See. This, I said, would cause this Queen more anxiety than anything else, since even if the multitude of heretics in France, and the wars forced upon your Majesty in your dominions, would allow of your Majesty sending any of your forces hither to help the Catholics, the desired end would not be gained in that way, as its only result would be to make war inevitable between your Majesty and France, which latter country would naturally oppose such a step, and take the side of the heretics in order to prevent, at any cost, your Majesty making yourself master of England under cover of religion. This was evident to them, as the Catholics themselves think that, oppressed as they are, they could not take up arms, or make any movement, unless your Majesty sent a great fleet with more than 15,000 men, which would be rather an army to conquer than to succour. For this reason, and because they thought that Irish affairs could only be made use of for the purpose of embarrassing the Queen and hindering her from helping the Netherlands by the waste of her men and money, they agreed with me that it was most advisable to lose no time in laying the foundation of the Scotch project. Even if Ireland were conquered, the movement in England would have to come from there through Scotland, and consequently the idea of commencing with Scotland was considered the best. I laid all this before them, and asked them to consider the subject and tell me which they thought the best way to set about it, as not only did they know most of the principal men in Scotland and the humour of the people, but they would probably possess more recent intelligence of the state of the country from their Catholic friends on the Borders, with whom I knew they corresponded. My proposal was approved of, and six lords, who are the leaders and chiefs of the other Catholics, met for the purpose of considering it. One of them repeated to the others what I had said, and urged that the best way for them to shake off the oppression with which they were being afflicted by the heretics would be to attempt to bring Scotland to submission to the church. They took solemn oaths to aid each other and to mutually devote their persons and property to the furtherance of this end without informing any living soul of their determination excepting myself. They decided to send an English clergyman who is trusted by all the six, a person of understanding who was brought up in Scotland, to the Scottish Court, for the purpose, after he had made himself acquainted with the state of things, with their assistance and recommendation, to try to get a private interview with D'Aubigny, and tell him that, if the King would submit to the Roman Catholic church, many of the English nobles, and a great part of the population, would at once side with him, and have him declared heir to the English crown and release his mother. He was to assure him that the help of His Holiness, your Majesty, and it was to be supposed also of the king of France, would be forthcoming to this end, but, if the king of Scotland were not Catholic, D'Aubigny was to be assured that the Catholics would oppose him more even than did the heretics, and would endeavour to forward the claims of another person to the succession, without mentioning any name until D'Aubigny's intentions were understood.
If D'Aubigny give ear to the discourse and the person to be sent sees the matter proceeding favourably, they think of sending a brother of one of the six lords to his Holiness to give him an account of the matter, and to beg of him to request your Majesty to help them in their object. I have not yet opened out further with them, as the end upon which they have their eyes fixed at present is the conversion of Scotland to the Catholic church without going into further particulars. They are not to have the matter spoken of in France more than necessary, in order to prevent its being hindered, by the fear that it is a plan of your Majesty alone, and I have warned them to be vigilant on this point. They agree with me in this, as they are all Spanish and Catholic at heart, and do not wish to have anything to do with France, excepting with the concurrence of your Majesty's representative. When the king of Scotland has submitted to the Catholic church, these six lords, who most of them have sons of the King's age, intend to send them as hostages to assure him that, directly he enters England with his army, they will raise all the north country for him, will demand the restoration of the Catholic church in England, proclaim him heir to the crown, and release his mother. In addition to his own forces, and the help they will bring him, he will have your Majesty's support, and, as there is now no hope of the Queen's having children, she being 49 years of age, the whole country will acclaim him as her heir, and, if necessary, as he will be so strong, the Queen herself may be deposed if she will not consent to the restoration of the church.
I do not write to your Majesty the names of the six lords, as they pledged me not to divulge them until they saw what reception their approaches received in Scotland. If this be not favourable as they desire, and their design falls through, they do not wish to be known, or for the business to appear as if it had been proposed out of mere compliment, and to bring themselves to your Majesty's notice. As this request seemed reasonable I acceded to it, knowing, as I do, their quality and zeal in the service of God and your Majesty. The business seems so well founded, and so much in accord with divine justice, that one cannot help hoping that God will bless it with success, its main object being to save such a multitude of human souls. So far as I can see, the success of God's cause and the conversion of these countries, besides being of such inestimable good in themselves, will also greatly benefit your Majesty's interests and tend to the quietude of your dominions, as when these two kingdoms are Catholic it is to be believed that they will endeavour more earnestly than ever to maintain their alliance with your Majesty for their own sake, and especially as the ministers who have to carry the matter through being your adherents will keep in view your Majesty's interests.—London, 7th September 1581.
10 Sept. 135. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
Whilst I was handing the accompanying despatch to the courier, I heard that Don Antonio intended to take leave of the Queen next day, so I detained the man until I had heard what was the result of the interview.
There was news here that two valuable Spanish ships loaded at Antwerp had anchored in the Downs, the wind being against them. Don Antonio's three ships, which are at Blackwall, on the contrary, were favoured by the wind and prepared to drop down the river with the intention of capturing the two Spanish ships, which I had already warned to quit the port. I also sent to tell the English merchants who usually ship goods at Antwerp consigned to Spaniards, that if Don Antonio's ships carried out their design they, the merchants, would be the first persons to suffer for the damage done. This was the best course to take rather than complaining to the Council, as the merchants, in order that the property should not fall into the hands of Don Antonio, took such steps as procured a stop from the Queen, forbidding Don Antonio's ships from moving until further orders. He was notified by the Judge of the Admiralty that the Queen had prohibited the sale of any English ships to foreigners, and those that had already been sold were not to be allowed to leave port. She hoped that Don Antonio would not take this amiss, but if he wished his ships to be allowed to sail he was to sign a bond, as it is called here, which the Judge of the Admiralty took to him in Latin, undertaking that his ships should do no injury to your Majesty's subjects. Don Antonio had had notice of the stoppage of his ships the day before, and after reading the bond brought to him by the Judge of the Admiralty at 8 o'clock in the morning, he started out booted and spurred, after dinner, with all his Portuguese, hastily putting his baggage into a boat, and went to take leave of the Queen. He arrived at the Court unexpected by her with the intention of at once proceeding on his journey, but the Queen spoke tenderly to him, although he was offended about the stoppage of his ships ; and said that as he had now missed the tide and it was very dark, he had better return to London for the night and postpone his departure until the next day. He did so, and the same night she sent a gentleman of her chamber to tell Lord Howard and Philip Sidney to accompany Don Antonio. The four ships were ready to leave to-day by the midday tide, but a message from the Queen came at 10 o'clock, which further delayed them, and it is expected they will sail to-morrow. The Earl of Oxford has been ordered to accompany him, but I do not venture to assert that they will go, as it depends upon these fickle people, and I fear he may still be detained here. I do not know whether he will go to France or to the Prince of Orange ; to whom he has sent two Portuguese, but I will let your Majesty know as soon as I can learn. I have advised Tassis some days ago of his intention of leaving. Four Portuguese came for him recently, having come in a poor boat from St. Ubes in 18 days. They landed at Dover, and wore false beards.
Alençon has sent back to the Queen her gentleman of the chamber, Sterling (Somers?), who went over with Lord Harry. (fn. 4) He only brings a letter for her (fn. 5) and one for Marchaumont, dated the 4th instant at Chatelet, where Alençon was with 3,000 men, the rest of his force having broken up. Marchaumont says, since this man's arrival, that Alençon will certainly be here shortly in disguise, and will pretend he is going to see Orange, the better to carry out his intention. The Queen has sent Sterling (Somers?) back again to Alençon to-day. She was not pleased with his visit.—London, 11th September 1581.
25 Sept.
Paris Archives, R. 1447. 48.
136. The King to Bernardino de Mendoza.
Walsingham's negotiations in France in favour of the treaty would probably have as little result as those about the marriage, besides which, as you say, the Queen was exhibiting fear of sending out a fleet to help Don Antonio. However this may be, you will be most careful to investigate and communicate everything you can learn, and, above all, try to discredit Don Antonio's people there. This should be done, not so much by direct action with the Queen, your former attitude of not making too much account of them having been a wise one, but rather by indirectly letting the merchants and others know how poor and exhausted Don Antonio is, and how ruined they will be if they trust him or ship with him.
Although it would appear at first sight advisable to grant to some Englishmen the patents they desire enabling them to capture property from my rebels and bring it safely to Spain, yet, under cover of this, they might do more damage to my faithful subjects than to the rebels, and the matter needs deep consideration. In the meantime, you have done well in referring the men to M. de la Motte. Any similar offers you will keep pending in the same way, saying that you will consult me, and giving hopes of a favourable reply which may prevent the men from joining Don Antonio. This is important, and you will exercise in it your usual dexterity and sagacity.
You did well in pressing Drake's affair as you have done, and it will be advisable to keep alive the alarm of the merchants that reprisals will be used against them unless satisfaction is given. This will cause them to bring influence to bear upon the Queen to restore the booty, and moderate her attitude towards me in other things. I note the trouble you have had about the audiences, and approve of your action. It is a fine thing for the Queen to take offence that I have sent her no excuses about Ireland, considering that for years she has sent none to me for having succoured and supported my rebels in the Netherlands. We shall see what happens, and as they seemed so anxious to have letters from me, it will be interesting to note what effect will be produced by those I wrote about Don Antonio. The cruelty exercised against the Catholics is greatly to be deplored, and the constancy and firmness they show in their affliction worthy of all praise. Our Lord, for whom they suffer, will provide the remedy, and, in the meanwhile, you will continue to animate the Catholics. I hope soon to have a reply from Rome about the appointment of English Cardinals, in favour of which I have used the strongest possible influence.—Lisbon, 25th September 1581.
27 Sept. 137. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
I wrote on the 7th and 10th that Don Antonio was about to leave, but he has delayed up to the present, although saying that he was going every day. The day following my last letter they raised the stop placed upon his ships, although they had made a show of taking out the sails and crew, on the ground that they would not allow them to leave without an undertaking being given that no damage should be done to the subjects of princes with whom the Queen was at peace ; and also to secure debts which Don Antonio was leaving here, in respect of the purchase of ships and other things to be paid for in six or eight months. The object of this was evidently to drive him to borrow more money on the jewels he has here, which, the pledge being increased, the Queen would eventually keep. He has had to do this ; Leicester having seen him, and promised him that he would find some merchants to lend him 12,000l. more on the jewels, with which he could pay what he owed here and complete the preparations on his ships, in which case the Queen would give him leave to depart. Don Antonio agreed to this, and the Treasurer called together the richest aldermen and merchants of London, telling them in the name of the Queen that they knew how the injustice and extortion to which they were exposed in Spain were reducing their trade ; that Don Antonio had a better right than your Majesty to the crown of Portugal, and that the Queen wished to help him. In order that their business might benefit by his obtaining possession of his country, she requested them to lend him some money on good pledges, and the Queen would make herself responsible for the repayment. The sums to be given were 1,000l. each by those of the grand-jury, as they call it, and 500l. by those of the petty-jury, which she knew they could easily afford without detriment to their business. They have lent the money ostensibly to Leicester and Walsingham on the jewels in their possession, and, if they be not redeemed within a certain time, they are to be forfeited. This trick of getting private merchants to find the money has been adopted so that if at any time the restitution of the jewels should be demanded, as belonging to the Portuguese crown, the merchants may claim their principal and interest, which will have grown to a very large sum. Don Antonio sent part of this money to enable three pirate ships to sail from Bristol, one large and two small, and three more from Plymouth, whither Drake is going to expedite them. The ships here are only waiting for a fair wind, and none of them take victuals for more than two months.
Don Antonio has been hunting with Leicester, and on the 13th went to see the Queen, when she gave him a signed document binding herself to help and support him in the same way that the king of France and the duke of Alençon may do. With this Don Antonio is determined to go to France, the intention being for him to cross in one of his own ships, as I am informed, not for greater safety, but as a means of getting the ships away, in the fear that, once his back was turned, these people would find some fresh pretext to detain them and keep them altogether. I send your Majesty a drawing of the diamonds that Don Antonio brought hither. I have not been able to discover whether théy are all in the Queen's possession.
The Company of Merchants trading with Spain insisted upon Don Antonio's ships being stopped, for fear, as I wrote, that the two Spanish ships in the Downs might fall into his hands ; and, although the Queen has given them leave to send their ships to Spain, they are afraid to do so now that Don Antonio's ships are released. They have tried to induce me to give them passports, but I have refused, because, although it may not have the effect of stopping the ships from sailing, the keeping of the merchants in a state of alarm will cause them to continue to place obstacles in the way of the departure of Don Antonio's and the pirate ships. These people are so changeable, and their minds so distorted, that I can do nothing more advantageous to your Majesty's interests than to delay somewhat the projects they have in hand.
Lord Harry, whom this Queen sent to Alençon, has returned. He reports that Alençon was marching along the French frontier towards Boulogne, saying that he was going to Dunkirk for greater facility for his coming hither.
Walsingham has written that he had taken leave of the King and would see Alençon before he returned to England. Although they had discussed at great length the conditions of the alliance, nothing had been concluded, notwithstanding that he had dealt both with Catholics and Protestants for its conclusion, but that the French had refused to settle anything until the marriage was decided upon.— London, 27th September 1581.


  • 1. In the King's hand— "You (i.e. Idiaquez) had better write, saying that the Englishman is looked upon here with much approval and his imprisonment causes great surprise. Tell him (i.e., Mendoza) to try to discover really whether he is to blame, so that otherwise he may be released. This refers to a certain Botolph Holder an English merchant resident in Lisbon.
  • 2. There were five Spanish fanegas to an English quarter of wheat, and the real was the real plata worth about 5d. The price of wheat in London at the time was 24s. per qnarter.
  • 3. Sir James Crofts, the Controller of the household.
  • 4. Howard.
  • 5. This letter will be found in Part 2 of the Hatfield Papers, Hist. MSS. Com.