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.
October 1581, 1-15
138. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
Various despatches received, and new general cypher ; also the letter for the Queen respecting the surrender of Don Antonio, which I have not yet delivered to her, nor the second letter your Majesty wrote.
I have been delaying asking for an audience or pressing the Ministers for a reply on the points I have mentioned in other letters, because they are slackening in their assistance to Don Antonio without any prompting from me, and it was therefore better to run out the line and dissemble with them, until your Majesty's letters for the Queen reached me ; and so to avoid the risk of an audience being refused to me, and my being again referred to the Council. As soon as I received your Majesty's despatch I sent to the Queen, who is hunting at Nonsuch, asking for audience ; taking this step in order that Cecil might be present, and Leicester and Hatton prevented from stifling my request as they have done before, persuading the Queen privately not to grant me an audience. I sent to tell Cecil that I had no reply to the points which I had discussed with him and Leicester ; and had now some other business to communicate to the Queen by order of your Majesty ; asking him whether she would be at liberty there some day, as I did not wish to interfere with her pastimes by requesting audience. He replied that the Queen would be there for some days, and that he himself would ask for audience for me, if I wished. My servant had been instructed to accept this offer if he made it, and answered that it would be a very great favour to me if he would undertake the commission. Cecil shortly afterwards called the man back and told him that it would be better that he, the servant, should ask for audience in the usual way, and he at once addressed himself to Hatton the Vice-Chamberlain, the Lord Chamberlain being absent. He was delayed there for three days, being told every morning and afternoon that he would be dispatched, and at the end of that time Hatton and Walsingham noticing him as they came out of the Queen's chamber, told him that they had no decision yet to give him. They then went to Cecil's room, telling the man to wait. After having been for an hour in Council, the two, with Cecil, went back to the Queen, and held another Council with her, and at the end of another two hours, Hatton summoned my servant to his room, and gave him a letter for me in English, the purport of which was that I was to send word whether I had a letter from your Majesty to myself ordering me to communicate affairs to the Queen, as in such case, certain Councillors would come and listen to what I had to say. To this I replied that I had a letter from your Majesty to the Queen, with instructions to give her an account of certain matters. I had not, I said, received any reply to the points I had discussed with Cecil and Leicester at the begining of August, although I had requested it twice ; and it was difficult for me to attend to your Majesty's interests here under such circumstances as these. The reply to this was that the Queen was moving to Richmond yesterday, whence an answer would be sent to me. I am now awaiting this, and will proceed in accordance with its tenour, delivering one of the two letters which your Majesty has had sent. I shall also be guided in my course by the departure of Don Antonio, the time for which is not yet known, and I shall tack according to this. I am every day getting further proofs that the Queen's refusal to receive me as formerly is owing to the bad offices of Leicester and Hatton, who, seeing that they have not been able to prevail upon her to refuse to acknowledge me as your Majesty's minister, do their best to annoy me personally. Leicester said, whilst he was at supper two days before he left the Queen, that he would either turn me out of here or lose his own life and property ; whilst Hatton, in the chamber said before the Queen's servants that he would make every effort to expel me from the realm, for the Queen trembled every time that I asked for audience. When he was asked by a friend of his whether this was because I spoke to her rudely, he replied, No, it was not, for no ambassador was more courteous and respectful, but I communicated affairs in such a way to her that she trembled to listen to me. I will report to your Majesty how I find her, and whether the intrigues of these two persons, to whom she is entirely given up, have really alienated her so much as appears.
With regard to the restitution of Drake's booty, I am always striving in the direction I have advised in other letters, but I am not pressing the matter furiously, because of the reserve which has been necessary lately, in consideration of the arming of Don Antonio. I have always kept pegging away at the matter however, as it is so important, and the sight of so much money in hand incites them to try and attack your Majesty, and I do not want these people to think that we have forgotten it. The merchants are much more apprehensive of their goods being seized on this account, than for the arming of Don Antonio, which, after the first rush, it was seen would end in smoke.
I am continuing the steps which your Majesty orders with the queen of Scotland and her son on every possible occasion. This Queen is annoyed at D'Aubigny's having taken the king of Scotland to Glasgow for the Parliament. It is twelve leagues from Dumbarton, and the Queen thinks that the intention may be to carry him to France.
Some of the chief heretics here have held a conference, and have resolved, in reprisal for the priests who have come to preach here, to send Englishmen to sow the weed of heresy in Spain. I have been unable to discover the number or the description of the men who are to go, but it will be of the greatest importance that this should be prevented, and your Majesty's dominions saved from infection with their errors, by the strict enforcement of the edict published many years ago, forbidding any stranger to lodge in the house of another stranger. In most parts the execution of this law is not rigidly enforced by the secular authority, under the impression that it is simply a matter of regulation, but in these evil times it is of vital moment for the cause of religion, and the Holy Catholic faith, and as such, your Majesty should deign to order the Holy Inquisition to insist upon the secular authorities carrying it out with great care, particularly in Seville, where the population is so large, and Englishmen, even though they be not heretics themselves, know that many of their lodgers are so.
Many Englishmen go thither at Holy Week, and other times, in which they should give an account of themselves, and they (the English residents) do not render particulars of their guests, being of their own country, and fail also to report if they use forbidden rites ; which would not happen if these men lodged with Spaniards, nor in such case would they dare to live so freely as they do.
The persecution of Catholics here has reached such a pitch that they want to deprive the prisoners of human charity, and have ordered that the gifts sent to them should not be given to them alone, but divided amongst all the prisoners. They are mostly incarcerated with crowds of thieves, and are left to die with hunger amongst them, in order that their torment may be the greater. If any one goes to ask after one of them he is arrested, and consequently most of the gifts are sent through me, and are distributed amongst them by my own servants, the Catholics alone receiving them. In the same manner I take charge of the money sent by the Catholics who have fled the kingdom, and of the sums given by others for the maintenance of Englishmen in the seminaries of Rheims and Rome, in order to save the donors from the penalties inflicted, the least of which is to punish them as traitors. I get bills of exchange upon France for the money payable to the persons who have to distribute it, and so in this, and other things, do I help these poor people in their affliction for the service of God and your Majesty.—London, 1st October 1581.
139. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
Don Antonio left here on the 18th ultimo, as your Majesty will have learned from Don Juan de Idiaquez, to whom I instantly reported it. His intention was to go to France, whither he had sent a few days before Juan Rodriguez de Souza, with a message to the duke of Alençon and the King, the Queen having ordered that no vessel was to be allowed to leave Dover or the neighbouring ports. The French ambassador accompanied Don Antonio in the barge from London to Gravesend, and on passing Greenwich he did not go ashore. He was joined shortly afterwards by Philip Sidney and Dr. Lopez with a message from the Queen. They entered the barge, and the French ambassador returned from Gravesend. Don Antonio travelled thence in a coach drawn by four Hungarian horses, which the Queen had sent to take him to Dover. He passed the first night at Rochester, where he received news that Walsingham was coming over, and said on the following day that he would not cross until he saw him at Dover. He and Walsingham put their heads together for a long time, despatches being posted off to the Queen constantly, to which she has sent frequent replies ever since he left Gravesend. As soon as Walsingham left him the rumour spread that he had told him on no account to risk going to France as they would kill him, for which purpose men had already been appointed, in confirmation of which Don Antonio went to the house of the custom house officer Smith, six miles from Dover, where he still remains, saying that he will not go over until the weather serves for his ships to come down the river. Some of them have been in the neighbourhood of Dover for days past, but two of them, one, the largest of all, ran ashore below Gravesend, which has delayed the rest. But the weather since yesterday will allow them to sail. Two days ago a fly-boat belonging to the earl of Leicester joined them, this being the vessel which they sent from here with the intention of taking Souza to Portugal. News comes that the rest of the pirate ships, four in all, with two pinnaces, in his pay, both from Bristol and those belonging to the pirate Vaughan, are now at the Isle of Wight, which is the most convenient point for robbery, as they can attack any ship passing the Channel. They all carry plenty of Portuguese flags, but are only manned by sailors. If, however, they were full of soldiers, all they could do would be to plunder, as people here are now satisfied that the Terceira business is at an end. As they only take victuals for two months they can hardly, as some people think, go to the Mina, besides which the pirates do not relish going long voyages when they can get prizes so near at home, and run for England at once. It is to be supposed that the men in Don Antonio's own ships will do the same as soon as their provisions run short, for they have begun to desert already. This happens sometimes even when they are serving in the Queen's ships if they touch in any port before they get to Ireland, and in these ships of Don Antonio's there are certain men who are persuading the sailors to desert. These ten ships and the French pirates which join them could not keep together even if winter were not coming on, as may be seen by what happened nineteen years since, when there were at the Isle of Wight twenty armed Holland ships, and twice as many English and French pirates, and yet they broke up within two months without attempting to rob on the Spanish seas notwithstanding the large number of Spanish ships then to be met with, which is not now the case, as trade is reduced to English, French, and Flemings. It will nevertheless be advisable that your Majesty should order vigilance to be exercised at the ports to overhaul carefully all ships arriving, and to arrest at once all those that are not obviously merchantmen. Some pirates bearing letters of marque from Don Antonio are to take some merchandise for Spain as a cloak, and either on the voyage out or home capture any vessels they find unprepared. It should also be ordered that no ships should be allowed to load excepting in your Majesty's enclosed harbours, as great evil is caused by their loading elsewhere. Only the other day the ship "Solomon," belonging to those heretics, (fn. 1) escaped from Pasages and loaded at Fuenterrabia, where I hear she shipped 30,000 ducats in cash unregistered.
As Don Antonio has shipped everything that he and his people have in his vessels, I am spreading the rumour that, as soon as he gets to France, he will take all his property out of the hands of the Englishmen and give it to Frenchmen, which people here have already began to fear and suspect.
I cannot assure your Majesty of Don Antonio's departure, as he is evidently pusillanimous, and these people whilst, on the one hand, they do not wish to keep him any longer now that they have flayed him, on the other hand are prevented by their malice from letting him go, because they think that he will always be a good tool with which they may disturb your Majesty in Portugal. Between these two ends they vacillate with incredible fickleness, and many people think that Don Antonio's mind has been changed by the fears with which Walsingham inspired him, and that, as soon as his ships arrive, he will go on board and sail to Flushing.
Orange (Don Antonio?) has sent William, the son of Loneston Anes and a brother-in-law of Dr. Lopez, to Portugal, by way of France, with letters. He is a young fellow of 20, well built, with a fair and handsome face and a small fair beard. He is addressed to Jacob Anes his brother in Lisbon, of whom I spoke on the 14th of August ; the pretext being that he is to take charge of a shipload of wheat sent to him from here, and bring back a cargo of goods. The three ships belonging to the Queen, which I advised on the 7th ultimo were being fitted out in the name of Don Antonio, to go to the East Indies, will not now be sent, in face of the news of the fleet having come from there with the submission to your Majesty. Only one is to be sent with Frobisher, a ship of 500 tons now being fitted out with great haste at Southampton. A vessel of 300 tons arrived from Portugal three months ago, whose captain is Alonso Mayo, with a good crew of experienced Portuguese sailors. Don Antonio sent them word that as he was their King and they his subjects they should serve him with their ship and persons. The captain replied that he would rather burn her than be a traitor, and came directly to Antonio de Castillo and to me to tell us what had passed, saying that as his ship was discharging in the Downs, Don Antonio and the English might seize it by force ; asking me whether in your Majesty's interests he had better not sink her than let her fall into his hands, as in such case he would do so. I thanked him, and praised his zeal, telling him to persuade his sailors not to desert and go over to Don Antonio. Since then, I have heard of the great efforts that are being made by Don Antonio's people to seduce the sailors, whom they want much more than they do the ship, as they are all experienced in the Indian navigation, and seeing that if the ship sailed it could never get out of the Channel without falling into his hands, Antonio de Castillo and I, in your Majesty's name, have ordered the captain to bring the ship into the Thames, and not to sail without our license. We both thought this best in your Majesty's interests, in order that these sailors might not be forced to serve Don Antonio, to the injury of trade in your Majesty's seas ; having in view Drake's experience with the Portuguese pilot, whom he took to Brazil, and who brought him to England, where he received fit remuneration as the traitor that he was.
Horatio Pallavicini, the Genoese, not content with injuring your Majesty by lending money, as I wrote years ago, to the Flemish rebels, and hunting after my despatches to divulge them to the Queen and Orange, is now helping Don Antonio, under cover of another Genoese, Mortara, a rebel who came here moved by the greed of dealing in Don Antonio's precious stones. Horatio is not only a declared heretic himself, but mixes usually with the worst heretics of all nations, serving this Queen in all that tends to damage the cause of God and your Majesty, and striving to disturb peace and quietness in Italy and his own country, being a spy and go-between for all evil work there.
Whilst writing this, early on Sunday morning, I have received the report of an eye-witness, that Don Antonio embarked on the night of the 29th in a tender and sailed for France on the following day, escorted by his ships. People here believe that as soon as he arrives he will go to Alençon. (fn. 2) —London, 1st October 1581.
140. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
Walsingham has arrived here and confirmed what I wrote to your Majesty, that nothing had been effected in France ; and the Queen has consequently not received him very graciously, in view of the reports that he had made as soon as he arrived in France, to the effect that the alliance was easy of arrangement. When he conferred with Alençon on his way hither, he tried to dissuade him from coming to England ; and in consequence of this, and of the inconvenience which the Queen tells Marchaumont might ensue by Alençon's coming, a rising of the people being feared, Marchau mont has written that the Queen does not wish him to come, and he should consequently demand a definite reply with regard to the marriage. He did this, but no reply has yet been given ; the Queen being extremely angry since the request came. In order to bring more pressure to bear upon her, the French ambassador and Marchaumont have declared publicly that Alençon was coming ; and, as the people showed no discontent thereat, they say the Queen has nothing to fear. Leicester has left Court, in order that the French may not blame him for the obstacles offered to the coming of Alençon, but that it should all fall upon Hatton and Walsingham, but he did not go until he was quite satisfied with the effect of his own efforts upon the Queen.
Antonio Rosa, a Flemish subject of your Majesty, whom I knew as secretary of the town of Coutrai, is very learned in the chronicles of those countries, and has, at his own expense, come from Holland, whither he retired years ago, to tell me that the documents which were in the archives of Ripplemond had been taken by the burgomaster to Ghent, but that he had means of copying most of them, and sending them to me to be forwarded to to Spain ; which would be the safest place to prevent these important memorials of old times from being lost. Although many years will be necessary to copy them all, yet, as the loss of these papers would be irreparable and the late Emperor was so careful always to have them transcribed, I gave this man written authority to return to Holland, in order to save the expense of his remaining here, and I said I would send him your Majesty's instructions for the diligent copying of some of the documents, assuring him that his living in a rebellious country should not injure him in person or estate, pending a reply from your Majesty or the prince of Parma. I am moved to this by the fact that this man has a natural aptitude for the preservation of such memorials, and even if he should be unable to get copies of them all, he will be very vigilant to see what is done with them, and keep watch upon them.—London, 1st October 1581.
Paris Archives, K. 1447. 87.
141. The King to Bernardino De Mendoza.
Letters of 27th August received. Thanks for advices about Don Antonio's preparations ; your steps to discredit him with the sailors are approved of. Although the preparations have slackened, things again may change from one day to another, so that you will be as much on the alert as ever to learn whether they have any idea of succouring Terceira and of going thence to Madeira and Brazil. Advise me of everything, and what answer Walsingham brought back from France, as well as the reply given by the Queen to the man who came to ask for 300,000 crowns for Alençon
I was glad to hear of Antonio de Castillo's answer to the man sent by the Queen and Leicester to tempt him from my service. Thank him from me, and tell him he shall not be forgotten.—Lisbon, 8th October 1581.
Paris Archives, K. 1447. 88.
142. The King to Bernardino De Mendoza.
Although from our intelligence and from indications we see, the negotiations for the treaty with France seem to have cooled rather than otherwise, still, to avoid the evils that such an alliance might produce, we think it will be well to try to prevent it by arousing the Queen's distrust of the French, and imbue her with some confidence in me, which her own conscience and acts must prove to her she deserves to have forfeited. You will therefore warn her from me of the ancient enmity between the French and English, and point out how little she can trust to Frenchmen, who are only too anxious to play her some great trick, which will be easy when once they have persuaded her to an alliance. They will then soon find a pretext for getting her to send her money and men out of the country, the farther off the better for their design, and they can then run over from France, which is so near, and take the greater part of her realm before she could help it, or obtain help from her old friends and allies. Out of my affection for England, and because it does not suit me that the French should gain a footing there, I cannot refrain from putting her on her guard against this great danger she is incurring, besides many others which she will see may arise from this feigned friendship. If she will keep the old treaties with me, I will forget all past offences, and be a good friend to her. If she thinks a ratification of the old alliances will be insufficient and desires a new treaty, I beg she will let you know what conditions she requests, and I will not depart a line from what is just and honest.
It may be that this will divert her from the French alliance, and you will add thereto whatever other arguments may occur to you, to arouse her distrust of the French. Let her think that I am not so implacably offended that, if she acts properly to me in future, I cannot forget the past or refrain from seeking revenge.
I send you a new credence, in case it should be needful. You will not descend to further particulars, in order to prevent them from making use of my offer elsewhere ; and if the league with the French should either be concluded or entirely at an end when this arrives, I leave to your discretion, in such case, the fulfilment of the instructions or otherwise.—Lisbon, 8th October 1581. (fn. 3)
Paris Archives, K. 1447. 89.
143. The King to Bernardino De Mendoza.
Duarte de Castro, who has been in prison in Valladolid, has been released in order that he may join Don Antonio in London and report his movements and intentions, in accordance with his own offer. It is believed that he will do so faithfully, as he has already shown his attachment to my interests by keeping up an intelligence with the duke of Alba whilst he was publicly serving Don Antonio. Favour and help him, but with the utmost secrecy, and forward his letters.—Lisbon, 8th October 1581. (fn. 4)
144. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
Don Antonio's ships have gone to rendezvous at the Scilly isles. I have not delivered any of the letters which your Majesty has sent to me for the Queen, as she has again postponed my audience, on plea of illness. They told my servant to return to-day for an answer, and until I know what this is, I cannot say how I shall bear myself towards her ; but I judge, Don Antonio having now left, that it will be better in your Majesty's interest to give her only the letter of 14th August, requesting her either to surrender or expel him according to the treaties.
With regard to the Englishmen named Botolph Holder and Jacob Anes I can only say that Antonio de Castillo tells me that on one occasion, when in the course of conversation with Giraldo's secretary here, Pero Vaez, and Antonio Fogaza, he remarked that Botolph Holder was considered a very good Catholic in Lisbon, they assured him that seven years ago, when he came to England, they had seen him attend heretic churches ; and he was hand in glove with Secretary Wilson, to whom he sent intelligence of everything that passed in Portugal, for the Queen's information.
He is a man of good understanding and sends a clear relation of events, and accordingly represented how groundless and foolish were Don Antonio's claims, advising also that the credits given to Souza should not be paid. Wilson often wrote to Don Antonio through him, as did the Queen to Don Antonio and the duchess of Braganza ; and Wilson sent him a packet last July by a servant of Castillo's who was going to Portugal, enclosing, as I am assured, letters from Leicester and Wilson to Don Antonio and other persons. I therefore advised the duke of Alba and the marquis de Santa Cruz to seize the packet. Wilson before he died complained bitterly to Castillo that it had not reached the hands of Botolph Holder, saying that it was of the greatest importance, although Castillo had thought it only contained merchants' letters. The servant who took it is still at Castillo's house in Lisbon, and can say what was done with the packet. I am told that Botolph Holder, since Wilson's death, is in correspondence with Leicester and Walsingham, and this was the reason why I said that Don Antonio's letters might pass through his hands, as I am sure that letters of Don Antonio have been sent in English ships leaving here for Lisbon. I did not know how they were addressed, but for this reason I advised that Botolph Holder's packets should be watched.
Jacob Anes is the son of the man who has acted for Don Antonio here, and a brother-in-law of Dr. Lopez. Through him were purchased all the stores and ships, and he and his kinsmen were sureties for all of Don Antonio's transactions here. I am told by his own relatives that, even before Don Antonio left Portugal, jewels and letters were sent and received through Anes. I have already reported that Don Antonio was sending a brother of this Jacob Anes to Portugal with letters.
I hear that Leicester is repeating Don Antonio's assertion that your Majesty was expelling from the country the countess of Vimioso and other women, a very necessary step in your Majesty's interests, and for the quietude of the country. I also gather from the Portuguese themselves here, the great efforts made, both in the Azores and elsewhere, by friars and priests against your Majesty ; and Antonio de Castillo assures me how important it is that such men as these who have interfered in matters of this sort should be sent to other monasteries outside the country.
When Morton was Regent he refused to allow a French minister to reside in Scotland, in consequence of his, Morton's, attachment to this Queen, and the desire in France that the King should not be addressed as such during the life of his mother. Since, however, Morton is dead, and D'Aubigny all powerful, he has sent an Ambassador to France, in order that the King may ask the queen of Scotland whether her son shall be addressed as King or not. I believe that the king of France will be requested by her to do as he thinks best, the reason being that by this means he may be able to send a minister to Scotland, if advisable, without offending this Queen, as it has been the custom to maintain an Ambassador in Scotland, and the presence of one there now could not be otherwise than beneficial to the queen of Scotland. The country is not now so completely deserted and in the hands of the English as it was, and this step may strengthen those who are striving to bring the country to the Catholic Church ; I am, indeed, under the impression that they may have been at the bottom of it. The imprisonment of so many Catholics has deprived me of three of my means of writing to the queen of Scotland, but, four days since, I received a letter from her through another channel, saying how much she rejoiced at your Majesty's goodness in restoring the pensions to certain Englishmen for her sake. She begs me to write in her name expressing affectionate gratitude to you, and to pray that you will not forget William Paget, respecting whom I wrote before, at her wish. (fn. 5)
She says she has written to the Netherlands recalling the Scots who were there, and particularly Colonel Stewart, to whom she promised a good pension in Scotland. I replied to her as your Majesty instructed me. I am informed that most heretical Englishmen who go to Seville stay in the house of William Stelan (?), the servant there of the Alderman Bond. I cannot learn anything of his religious opinions, although he is supposed to be a Catholic, but many of these who stay in his house have, on their return to England, been open heretics ; and say that there are many more of their way of thinking in Spain than is supposed. This is said with so much effrontery, that it will be greatly to the interest of God and your Majesty to prevent the spread of the infection by rigorously executing the edict mentioned in my last. (fn. 6) —London, 9th October 1581.
145. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
I wrote on the 4th to Don Juan de Idiaquez, for the information of your Majesty, that Alençon was at Calais, which news had been brought by a man who had been sent by him with letters to the Queen, who said that he was expected to arrive there on the day that he left or the following day. I have since discovered that his design in saying this was, first, to get the rumour spread here, in order that the English might swallow his coming ; and, secondly, to bring more pressure to bear upon the Queen to accede to Alençon's demands for money. He says he is so poverty stricken and driven, that he could not maintain the garrison of Cambrai, nor discharge the soldiers he had with him, unless she sent him some money, and only to get himself out of this tangle he would at once come over to England to see her, since his brother had refused to give him a penny (without having the excuse of poverty to fall back upon, for he had just spent a million in feasts). As soon as the man arrived the Queen ordered Sion House (fn. 7) near Richmond, where she is, to be got ready for Alençon's reception, and after much conference, as she thinks she will be obliged to content him with some money, she has decided to send him 15,000l. sterling. A gentleman of Alençon's was sent off yesterday with the despatch, pressing him very much, for various reasons, not to come hither. It is not known whether Alençon will do as they wish, but they think that he will hardly have started until this man got back to him. If he should insist upon coming they will welcome him, in order not to give him offence, and because they think he is in such urgent need that they can always stop his mouth with money, and thus prevent his resenting the Queen's not marrying him.
The Queen for the last several days has made an appearance of being very angry with Walsingham, in consequence of his having written to Sussex from France that Alençon was not fit to be the Queen's husband, or even her friend. Sussex read the letter to Marchaumont, who complained about it to the Queen, and the latter displayed great anger, although some people think that it is all put on, and that she herself had ordered Walsingham to write this, so as to hinder the marriage, as she is a woman very fond of adopting such tricks. At all events Walsingham takes very little notice of her anger, and Alençon turns a deaf car to everything, and only asks for money, whilst Marchaumont keeps the negotiation alive by pressing for a decision with regard to the marriage.—London, 9th October 1581.