Simancas: October 1581, 16-31

Pages 185-203

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, 16-31

20 Oct. 146. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
I wrote to your Majesty on the 9th that I expected on that day to receive a reply from the Queen appointing the day for my audience. She has behaved towards me, both in this respect and during the audiences themselves, in such an insolent and outrageous manner that I must necessarily be somewhat diffuse in giving my account of it to your Majesty, which I will do in detail.
I had signified to Cecil that I had letters from your Majesty to the Queen, and my servant had been told that, when the Queen went from Nonsuch to Richmond she would give me audience. After my man had left Cecil's room, he had him called back and said to him, "Sir, I must tell you the truth, the Queen is alone just now, without Councillors, and as Don Bernardino is to bring letters to the Queen from so great an enemy to her as his master, it is meet that he should be received as the minister of such a one." I expected from this reply that these people would change their course, and it was advantageous for me to have taken the steps I did with Cecil, as he had spoken to the Queen in the absence of Leicester. After the Queen had returned to Richmond I waited for some time in the expectation that they would send me an appointment as had been agreed, but as Leicester had now returned, and I heard he was still urging the Queen not to receive me, I sent again to ask for audience. They replied that the Queen was busy, and that if my servant returned on the 9th, he should have a reply. This was the day upon which I wrote to your Majesty last. My servant told me that he had seen the Queen go out in a litter, and on her return he asked the Lord Chamberlain when I should have audience, and was told that the Queen was not well, and my servant had better go back, and they would send me word when I could see her. Notwithstanding this, she passed all that day with Marchaumont, and the next day gave audience to the count of Embden, who was here. On the 11th the Lord Chamberlain sent a very low officer of the Queen's household to say that the Queen would give me audience at two o'clock. It was already past twelve, and it is ten miles to Richmond, but I made ready with all haste possible, and went to see her, suspecting that she had some bad news from Flanders, which would make her send for me in such a hurry as this. This turned out to be the case, as I learnt that at ten o'clock the same morning she had received intelligence that the Englishmen and the States troops had been routed in Friesland, which news had very much upset her and her Ministers.
When I arrived at Richmond I was met at the staircase by three pensioners, who said when they received me that I had come very late, which the Lord Chamberlain also repeated when he saw me. I replied that I did not get notice of the audience until past twelve, and that I could do no more than come post at once. They took me to the presence chamber, and after a short time there I was conducted to the Queen's chamber. I found her seated on a settee under the canopy with only two Councillors, namely, the Lord Chamberlain and the Admiral, and three ladies. She received me without making her usual demonstration of stepping down from the dais and advancing when asked for her hand to kiss, and saying, as she always did, "V. S. sia il ben venuto, signor ambasciatore." Now, however, she took not the slightest notice of me when I approached to make my bow, the first words she pronounced being that she had a pain in the hip which had troubled her for some time past. I replied that I was extremely sorry to find her suffering in this way, and that, although she had delayed my audience so long, I should have rejoiced if she had delayed it much more, rather than give her the trouble of discussing business whilst she was in pain. She made no display of thanks at this, contrary to her custom, and let me remain uncovered for a very long while. She then said, "How about the letter which you have from his Majesty?" I had all three of your Majesty's letters with me, to use according to circumstances, although I thought, unless I were forced, that it would be better only to give her that of the 14th, requesting the surrender of Don Antonio, in accordance with the treaties. My object in this was to have the matter formulated and the complaint recognised, in case he or any of his rebels should return, in which case I might take advantage of the steps I had taken as occasion might demand. My object was, moreover, to present my complaint in a general form, rather than to produce the belief that your Majesty was apprehensive that Don Antonio could leave here with a force large enough to give you any anxiety.
I therefore handed her the letter, and when she had read it she said that I knew Don Antonio had left her country before I asked for audience (which is not true), but that if she had been willing to help him, your Majesty's various Indian fleets would not be where they are now, and perhaps Portugal would not be so quiet ; and all this with much hectoring and vociferation. She said that your Majesty referred her to me, in credence, and asked me what I had to say. Seeing her rudeness I replied that, as to the fleets, things of this sort were very much more easy to talk about than to do ; as your Majesty's fleets were all so well prepared that, no matter how large and powerful were those that might go against them, the assailants would return well trounced. With regard to Don Antonio, I said that not only had she received him in her kingdom, but she had helped him with munitions, troops, arms, and money, which was all the support and aid that any prince could give to a rebel ; and this was done so publicly that all could see it, and, in addition to her welcome hospitality to Don Antonio, whom she had dubbed "king" in England, the ships he had bought here had sailed down the river, with arms and munitions from the Tower, and had actually passed her own windows at Greenwich covered with pennants of the arms of Portugal. The merchants of London, too, at the request of her ministers, had lent him money on the jewels which he had left here in the charge of some of them, and no one better than herself could judge what harvest was to be gathered from such seed as this, considering the groundless and feeble hopes that Don Antonio had of really disquieting your Majesty. The only result would be to irritate and offend you, thus exasperating still more the feeling which had been caused by her constant action in Flanders, and recently by the great sums of money she had given to Alençon, without which he could not have relieved Cambrai or invaded the States. Besides the ships which had left here for Don Antonio, many English pirates had joined him and had gathered at the Isle of Wight, with no other design but to plunder your Majesty's subjects, as Knollys did two years ago. Although I had complained of this at the time, justice had never been done. I had asked her to restore the million and a half which Drake had stolen from your Majesty and your subjects, but instead of this, fresh ships were being fitted out by her own Ministers to go on the voyage to the Indies. Some soldiers of M. de la Motte, moreover, had been driven by a storm into Norwich, where they had been arrested and cooped up in prison for six months, as if they were enemies, notwithstanding my having clamoured about it to the Council. I asked her whether it was possible for her to have done more than this if she had openly declared war against your Majesty. With respect to Don Antonio, she answered that she had helped him and would still do so, as would her subjects, and as for the other things she neither knew nor understood anything about them. This was said with the most terrible insolence, and as I saw her evil intent, I replied that I had been here for more than three years and a half, and had been constantly telling her of these things, but as it appeared that during all this time she had heard nothing about them, and would find no remedy for them now, it would be necessary to see whether cannons would not make her hear them better. She told me I need not think to threaten and frighten her, for if I did she would put me into a place where I could not say a word. This she said without any passion, but as one would repeat the words of a farce, speaking very low, and showing signs in her countenance that she had been instructed what to say. She then continued, that in future I could communicate my business to the Council, and be satisfied with remaining in the country, as she had no ambassador in Spain. I replied that what I had said was not intended as a threat, but only to repeat to her what your Majesty had instructed me to say. As for the rest, as I was in her country she could do with me as she pleased, what it was I cared but little, as I was certain that God had given me a King who would not forget to vindicate me, even if I were only his vassal, but much more being his minister, as she knew. After a little further talk she became more civil, and raising her voice said "V. S. commande che vada forse il suo segretario," my secretary being only in the room with me. She then told the ladies to leave the room and called the two councillors, to whom she repeated, not what she had said to me, but only that I had said that, as she did not listen to my many complaints it would be necessary to bring cannons to redress them. She said this in a very hectoring way and repeated that I need not try to frighten her. I smiled to hear her relate this with so much fury and perturbation, and replied that I would not waste time on that point, as I well knew that monarchs were never afraid of private individuals, and above all she who was a lady and so beautiful, that even lions would crouch before her. She is so vain and flighty that her anger was at once soothed at hearing this, and she began to relate how much obliged your Majesty should be to her for having refused to receive the Flemish rebels. She said that what she had done was only for the purpose of preventing the French from getting possession of the Netherlands, in which statement she was aided by Sussex, and in payment for this, she said, your Majesty had sent troops to Ireland and had given pensions to her rebellious subjects, and Don Guerau de Spes had promised people here that, if they would rise against her he would furnish money, with other like things of the past. She said, too, that I had plotted with some Englishmen to murder Don Antonio whilst he was in her country. I replied to all this that it was a fine way to prevent the French from taking possession of the Netherlands to provide money for Alençon to invade them twice over, as well as by every possible means helping the rebels to support the war. With respect to Ireland I had told her the truth about it many times, and and what she said about Don Guerau only referred to what he would have done, whilst I spoke of the bad offices which she had done and continued constantly to do against your Majesty. I dwelt upon these two points with many arguments, which would carry conviction to any impartial person, and said that with respect to murdering Don Antonio, I grieved that, although I had been here so long, she should yet fail to see that I was not born to kill men except in honest warfare, and I was not desirous of doing Don Antonio so great a favour as to shorten a life, the folly of which would be its own greatest punishment ; but even supposing I had attempted such a thing, I would remind her that she had ordered an Englishman to be kidnapped in the Netherlands (fn. 1) in the time of the duke of Alba, and that she had executed the man and had pensioned his kidnapper. I said that, whatever was the case with the Netherlands, surely the French had nothing to do with Terceira, that she should send succour to that island, and that Englishmen should sally from there to attack your Majesty's fleets. It was no reason, moreover, why she should help Don Antonio with 5,000 men to conquer Portugal, but fortunately the men have been captured by your Majesty's admiral and taken into Lisbon, where they had made such declarations, proved by letters from her and her Ministers, which had been found in Portugal, as proved her complicity in a much worse form than I had said, and some day I would show her the proofs of this. I invented this to move her the more, but this was prevented by Sussex intervening with the remark that your Majesty's action in Ireland had been an extremely grave offence.
She thereupon began to hector again, saying that it was not much to expect that your Majesty would have written to her some explanation of such an injury. I asked her whether she recollected by what means your Majesty had expressed your regret. She said that he had done so through me, whereupon I remarked that she had therefore no reason to feel aggrieved, as I had told her the truth about it, and had spoken as I had done in your Majesty's name. She again said that your Majesty might well have written to her, and that she would not give a final decision, as I requested, in the matter of Drake until your Majesty had given her entire satisfaction with regard to Ireland, as it was only reasonable that she, being the person first offended, should be the person first satisfied, and after this was done she would see about Drake's piracy. I pointed out to her that, inasmuch as the consulate at Seville was so deeply interested in the matter, having lost more than a million and a half, even if your Majesty were to overlook the loss of your own Treasury, you could not avoid acceding to the requests of your subjects, in the manner which all princes did, and she in particular, namely, by giving letters of marque for the recoupment of their losses by the seizure of property belonging to the subjects of another prince. I said that I had no doubt that, in view of the answer she had given me, your Majesty would command the Seville merchants to recover their losses by the seizure of English property in your dominions and the arrest of all of her subjects. In order that she might not complain of me afterwards, as she had done of Don Guerau in a proclamation she issued at the time of the seizure of the money, to the effect that the duke of Alba had arrested goods of English subjects in Antwerp on the same day that Don Guerau had spoken to her, and consequently that the seizure would have been effected in Antwerp whatever her answer had been, I reminded her that the date was now the 11th of October. In order that not even the smallest of her subjects should have cause to complain of me, I told her my firm belief now, that if Drake's plunder were not restored, your Majesty would order the seizure of all English goods in your dominions to reimburse your subjects for their losses. She again replied that she had been first offended and should be the first to receive satisfaction, and thereupon took leave of me very drily. I told her that, in order to give her no more annoyance, I would in future communicate affairs to her Council. I said this so that the members of the Council present might understand that it was I who refused to have audience again. After I had taken my leave and was two paces away from her, I heard her say with a great sigh, "Volesse á Iddio che ognuono avesse il suo, e fosse in pace." (fn. 2) —London, 20th October 1581.
147. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
As I write in the enclosed letter, I took with me all the letters which your Majesty had written to the Queen, in order that I might use the one which might appear most appropriate. Although the Queen's rude and extravagant behaviour rendered it desirable that I should hand her the long letter after the other two, I thought better to retain it, so as not to pledge your Majesty unduly by giving it to her in public, and with more formality than the occasion demanded. But I did not wish her to think that the steps I had taken with her were matters of my own fancy, and determined to let her know your Majesty's feeling. I therefore adopted the course of writing her the next day a letter, of which I enclose copy, sending with it the longest of your Majesty's letters, my tone being that of sorrow that she should have used such words to me, and exonerating myself by enclosing her your Majesty's letter. This was a very convenient step, and, indeed, the last thing that was left for me to do, to prevent her and her Ministers from proceeding absolutely unchecked in their opposition to your Majesty's interests. By this means the Queen would see what your Majesty said, without pledging your Majesty more than you desired, as my letter was supposed to be a personal one to herself, although I am quite sure it will be seen by all the Ministers. I was moved to take this step by seeing the warmth with which she helps Alençon in his Flanders project ; and although Don Antonio may have taken but few ships from here, a large number of English pirates are joining him, and many more are fitting out. It is true they are not strong enough to undertake any great enterprise, but your Majesty will be obliged out of suspicion (if Terceira should not have submitted, as these people fear) to maintain garrisons everywhere, besides which the action of the faithless Turk, so near to Spain, may incite these folks to proceed even more shamelessly in all these matters, unless I act more vigorously than by simply exchanging words with the Queen. I therefore embraced this decision, although I do not conceal from myself that the venom of this woman and her Ministers is so deep seated that there is no antidote which will enable me to do more than restrain them for the moment.
The Lord Chamberlain detained for three days the man who took my letter to the Queen, telling him every morning that they would deliver the letter in the evening, and every evening, that they would do so next morning. In the meanwhile the Queen sent Wilkes, the Clerk of the Council, to me, to ask me to put my complaints in writing, in order that her Council might consider them, the real object of his coming being for Wilkes to get into conversation with me and find out what the letter contained, as they wanted to know before it was accepted or opened. I briefly repeated my complaints, saying that I had already twice stated them to the Queen, who had assured me on each occasion that a decided resolution should at once be adopted. I said, if she had not understood them, I would once more go and lay them before her, but with regard to sending them to her in writing, I could only say that, when I first arrived in England, her Council had asked me to put in writing certain affairs which I had communicated to them, which I had done, and a few months afterwards I had requested that they should do the same with an answer that they had verbally given me. Cecil had thereupon, in the presence of the Council, told me that neither the Queen nor her Council were in the habit of communicating with ambassadors excepting verbally, and I therefore could not break through this custom, especially as I had conveyed to the Queen what your Majesty had ordered me to do. I therefore avoided doing as they wished, which was only to spin out matters by documents, and to make Drake's business into an ordinary lawsuit. I at once sent a servant to Court to speak with the others (i.e., servants) to give the appearance of my recalling them, ordering them to make a show of returning. As soon as this was seen by a servant of the Lord Chamberlain, he told his master, and they were approached as if casually, and the man who took the letter was told that he could now deliver it. The Queen accepted it with an excuse that she had not received it before, in consequence of indisposition, and that a reply would be given next day. I have not sent for this reply, as it was not necessary for the end in view, my only object being that she and her Ministers should read and ruminate over what your Majesty had written, which might be a means of recalling them from their evil ways. My efforts to turn the Queen remind me of an old rusty weather cock, which long use has worn away, and which will only move at a strong gust of wind, turning back again to its old point as soon as the breeze dies away. In like manner I always convince her to be on the side of your Majesty, with truth and reason, whilst I am with her, but the impression only remains whilst I am in her presence, after which she veers back again to her old quarter.
The day after she received my letter, she sent to summon Drake in a furious hurry, although I judge by the answer she gave me, and other indications, that they will never restore the plunder, unless your Majesty orders the arrest of all English property in your dominions. This, if your Majesty pleases might be done at once, whilst we see how they proceed on Drake's arrival, and in face of the recent steps that I have taken indirectly with the merchants. I have had the latter warned of the great importance to them and the country at large, of retaining their trade with Spain, now imperilled by Drake's robberies, and the murder of your Majesty's subjects. They have gone to Court to make representations to the Council, and when they return I will report the result to your Majesty, in order that any steps may be taken during the time of the vintage, when there will be more English goods and ships in Spain than at any other time.—London, 20th October 1581.
148. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
I wrote on the 1st instant of the efforts which were made by Leicester and Hatton with the Queen, that I should be expelled from here. What success has hitherto attended them your Majesty will see by my enclosed letter, and by my observations in the audiences I have had. The Queen is completely in the hands of these two men, and my suspicion is now turned to certainty by evident demonstration. Leicester thinks of nothing else, and on the day that I went to see the Queen he was heard to say, "Don Bernardino will get his audience, but a very bad answer." I was informed of this at once, but as I was travelling so hastily to Court, I had not time to hear the words themselves until the next day. At my audience none of them would be present, but when they saw afterwards how much I had altered the Queen's mind, Leicester said, "The Spanish Ambassador, forsooth, is a great negotiator, but it will go hard with me if I cannot turn him out of this." He has adopted various means by which he thinks I may be forced to complain, and his end be gained, such as preventing the Queen from giving me audience, and always introducing me by a back door, instead of through the presence chamber, but I have taken no apparent notice of it, and with regard to the latter step, I said that it was looked upon by a Spaniard as a much greater favour to be introduced by a private door than by public ones, and so on with the rest of his plans. He is trying every day to invent new and greater excuses for my expulsion, and has gone to the length of causing a married Flemish servant of mine to be arrested because he had his infant son baptised in my house with Catholic rites, such a thing as this never having been done to a Minister before.
I have dissembled, as your Majesty ordered, whilst endeavouring by indirect means to get my servant released. Seeing the activity with which Hatton, Walsingham, and their gang are trying to get rid of me, and if necessary to break with your Majesty, which is the real object they have in view every hour of the day, together with the growing distaste with which the Queen looks upon me, in consequence of their ceaseless machinations, it is clear that they may, in the end, succeed, and my departure may be brought about in such a fashion that your Majesty may be forced to resent it sword in hand. This may happen at a season when it would be inconvenient for your Majesty to undertake such a matter, and, seeing that the Queen has refused to receive me, and refers me to her Council in all things, I cannot be of any service to your Majesty here now, with my hands thus tied, and her ears closed against me, excepting so far as her Councillors may choose to allow her to hear. For this reason, and to avoid trouble, it will he advantageous in your Majesty's interests, that my successor shall come hither at once, although at first not ostensibly to replace me. He should bring a letter from your Majesty and a specific power to deal with the investigation in the seizures of Portuguese goods, which will result, as I am told by Antonio de Castillo, in an amount of 100,000 crowns being due to Portugal. He should bring another letter, also, empowering him, if necessary, to treat of the robberies during the truce which was made between the two crowns on the 15th November 1579.
He should bring yet another letter, containing a statement of that which your Majesty wrote the Queen on the 11th April 1579, respecting complaints against her subjects in the matter of property concealed here, which had not been registered at the time of the seizures, with special power in the matter, as otherwise they will reply to him as they did to me in December 1579, demanding such a power, and they will not allow him to deal with the business unless he brings it.
Your Majesty will also do well to let him bring a special letter about Drake's business, and as all these matters are so important, any one of them, and much more the three, would form a good excuse for sending a special envoy. They are, moreover, of such a character, concerning questions of money, that these people cannot refuse to entertain a Minister who comes to treat of them, and thus your Majesty will be saved from the evils which might result from my staying here, and yet you will be represented. Your Majesty may withdraw him at any time you may consider advisable, but, in the meanwhile, your interests would not be entirely abandoned, nor the efforts for the conversion of Scotland quite dropped, to the dismay of the Catholics here, who in such case would lose heart entirely. I humbly beg your Majesty to pardon my boldness for speaking thus, but my zeal in your service forces me to say what I think, without mentioning even my own illness, of which I make but small account, as I only desire health and life to be spent in harness, here or elsewhere, as your Majesty may deign to command. In order that I may have more time to initiate the man who comes into business here, it will be better that he should not be appointed to succeed me, but that his powers should constitute us jointly and severally your representatives, and I can then stay as long as may be needful, and leave when I like, on the pretext of my illness, a sufficient reason, without its being said that I was withdrawn. The Queen will not refuse the new man audience at first and he may, as I did when I arrived, do good service in diverting her somewhat from her evil course. In order to gain sufficient time for my successor to arrive, I purposely told the Queen in the presence of her Ministers, when I took leave of her, that I would not trouble her any more with business, but would in future communicate it to her Councillors. In this way we shall avoid the inconvenience of my being refused audience if I asked for it, in which case, coming after other things, I should be obliged to leave, or else put up with a slight upon your Majesty. If necessary I will feign illness until I get a reply to this, temporising with these people and avoiding communication with them unless I am obliged.—London, 20th October 1581.
149. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
The clergyman of whom I wrote on the 7th ultimo has returned from Scotland after a successful journey. He was conveyed secretly across the border and was furnished with introduction to the duke of Lennox, the earls of Eglington, Huntly, and Caithness, Baron Seton, and his eldest son, and Gray, of Fernihurst. They received him well and he bore himself prudently, avoiding an entire disclosure of his mission until he had assured himself with regard to religion, which was treated as the principal basis of the business. He said he wished to learn from them whether they would admit priests and friars into the country, who, moved by zeal in God's service and the salvation of souls alone, wished to preach and administer the sacraments. They replied unanimously, that not only would they willingly admit them, on condition that they brought money for their own maintenance, but they would quietly manage that they should preach to the King himself in their presence, and should, if necessary, hold a disputation with the ministers, by which means their doctrines might be presently preached in public, without frightening the people when they first arrived. He came back with this reply, after having assured them how important it was for the King's power and aggrandisement, and his inheritance to the crown of England, that the English Catholics who had fled for religion's sake, should be allowed to live in Scotland by consent of the Parliament. They told him that they would try to obtain this. He avoided opening out further to the duke of Lennox, as he depends upon France, and he found him now avowedly schismatic, but in accordance with his instructions from here he went more deeply into the matter, by way of discourse, with Lord Seton, whom he found very well disposed. He said that the best argument to bring about the King's conversion to the Catholic faith, in addition to its being the true road to salvation, was to show him that it was the only means by which he could become a powerful king, uniting the crowns of Scotland, England, and Ireland, which could be brought about alone by his gaining the sympathy of so mighty a monarch as your Majesty. An alliance between you would be a renewal of the leagues with the houses of Burgundy and England, which were the solid foundation for the maintenance of the three kingdoms. This, however, need not mean his turning his back upon the French, who for so long had been friendly with Scotland, and with whom it was meet that he should still be kindly, but not so intimate as to deprive him of the greatness that the proposed alliance would give him, in which the French certainly would not aid him, as Alençon was trying to marry the Queen. Seton thanked the priest, and promised that when the King went on a hunting progress, he would have him told this privately, and would encourage him thus with brilliant prospects. He said that when this man returned with the priests, he would tell him how he had found the King, as well as the other ministers, with whom he would communicate.
As soon as this clergyman returned, the result of his mission was conveyed to William Allen (fn. 3) in France, and Father Persons of the Company of Jesus, (fn. 4) who was secretly here. The latter went to France for a few days to choose the persons to be sent to Scotland, and although the clergyman who went was of opinion that Persons himself, and Father Jasper (fn. 5) of the Company, who recently came hither through Germany, would be the best persons to go, as it was necessary that they should be very learned to preach and dispute, as well as of signal virtue. Father Jasper came many miles to see me here and obtain my opinion upon the point. After having discussed the matter minutely, we have resolved to write to Allen saying that, although Fathers Persons and Jasper would be the best and most able persons to be sent to cure the important limb of Scotland, yet we should not deprive the brain of its principal support, which we should do if these two men were both to leave here, where their presence is so necessary to govern and distribute the priests who are in this country, as well as for conducting matters of religion which are cropping up every day, and helping the Catholics in many ways. Besides this, no sooner will these men set foot in Scotland, than this Queen will be informed thereof, and their description sent hither, so that neither of them could ever return to England again, except with great peril and probable martyrdom. For these reasons it would be well that Jasper, with two other learned clergymen, should go to Scotland with some others in their train, whilst Persons should remain here, until His Holiness was informed, and he had appointed proper persons for the ministry. By this means the priests in England would not be deprived of their superior, it being so difficult and dangerous for people of his position to enter the country unknown. I shall daily watch for a reply to this, and, in accordance with it, the men who are to go will make ready for their journey.
A daily growing difficulty to this conversion of Scotland is the increasing persecution of Catholics here. They are not only now imprisoned, but are reduced to the extremest misery by the fines of 20l. for every month that they absent themselves from church. This has given occasion for some members of the Holy Church to go astray in order to avoid payment of the fines, at the same time greatly diminishing their charities, so that the Catholics in prison can now hardly be fed. At the same time the seminaries abroad suffer great need, as well as those inmates of them who go from here with fervent zeal to indoctrinate themselves and become priests to return hither and teach. All this was upheld by the charity of Catholics here, which was often so large that at one time two or three persons only found three hundred pounds, which I sent to Rheims. It is now much reduced, whilst new needs for it have arisen, to help those who are going to Scotland, as well as the necessity for maintaining the priests whilst they are there in a way which will make them more acceptable to the Scots, who must be impressed with the idea that their object is not to gain money but to save souls. In order that they may be sustained, I have thought well to beg your Majesty to turn your eyes hitherward, and upon these Catholics in their trouble and affliction, as they now cannot help themselves. They join with me in humbly begging your Majesty to favour them with some charity, that they may be able to carry on the work commenced, which is so worthy of the aid of your Majesty, the true column and protector of the Holy Roman Church.
God has proved to those of us who are interested in this business that it is His will to forward it now that it has been begun, for if it were not for His support it would be humanly difficult to maintain the work now, seeing that the earl of Worcester, who was so good a Catholic, is dead, and most of the six lords I mentioned in prison, which, however, does not much matter, now that the business has been arranged, as even if they were at liberty it would have to be directed from France. It will be very important, therefore, that your Majesty's Minister in that country should be well versed in matters touching England, Scotland, and Ireland, and in close touch with Allen, in order to conduct the business, which must be done in such a way that the French have not a suspicion that your Majesty is concerned in it, and so as to prevent them from interfering, even if they did suspect, as being a religious question alone. If they have an idea that the matter is promoted by English adherents of your Majesty, and that the aim is, after the conversion, to bring these kingdoms under the shelter and protection of your Majesty, it is to be feared, as religion is so unhinged in France, that they may impede the work, especially as it is impossible, owing to old connection, for the Scots to discuss a business of even very much less importance than this without consulting the French ; besides which the queen of Scotland being a prisoner, with all her relatives and property in France, makes it now even more impossible. The French, too, at present, are in nowise reticent about anything which may prejudice the queen of England, and the queen of Scotland is therefore very reserved with them, and keeps back many things from the Minister she has there (i.e. in France), communicating them in preference to Allen, who has to manage this business. Your Majesty's Minister in France must watch all that the French negotiate with Allen and in Scotland, and must see that he does not give them more particulars about the English than necessary, in order that the French may think that they themselves are conducting the business, and that his communications with your Minister is only in consequence of your Majesty being so Catholic a King, whose aid he begs in their affliction and misery. Under this cloak he must press the matter warmly with them, without showing any public sympathy with the queen of Scotland further than is natural towards a Catholic widowed Queen in her present state. The Minister representing your Majesty here can be of no further use to her, as the Queen and the heretics are served by such a multitude of spies that she, the queen of Scots, is in great alarm. Through him (i.e. Father Allen) safe and constant communication can be carried on, the Catholics encouraged, and the queen of Scotland sustained. At the same time an artifice may be used which I have often adopted, namely, to take advantage of this Queen's jealousy of French negotiations in Scotland and apparently participate in it, as touching also somewhat your Majesty's interests, and urge upon her the importance of keeping her eyes on their proceedings there.—London, 20th October 1581.
150. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
This Queen has added 5,000l. more to the 15,000l. which she had decided to send to Alençon. It left here on the 17th in broad angels, 15,000l. being taken from the Exchequer, and the other 5,000l. being given by Walsingham. The money was contained in four valises of 5,000l. each.
Marchaumont is making every possible effort to persuade the Queen to the marriage, and a few days ago he told her that he heard from France that the queen of Scotland considered herself to be the legitimate heiress to this crown, and although she had not pressed her claim during the Queen's life, and would not do so if she married Alençon, if that marriage was not effected she would at once transfer her rights to her son, who could press them if he pleased. She was much disturbed with the news, as Walsingham had told her that the king of France had addressed the king of Scotland as such, and she at once sent a despatch to France about it. She had letters from Alençon on the 19th, confirming his coming, but saying that he would not come for another week.
The Queen has a ship on the coast ready to escort him across, to avoid the evils which might occur by his taking an ordinary passage. Besides preparing Sion House, she has had a lodging made ready for him at Richmond. It is said that Alençon thought of sending the Prince Dauphin to Antwerp to receive in his name the oath of allegiance as sovereign, but as the rebel towns are not very united about this, and Alençon can ill spare the cost, he has delayed sending him until he returns from here.
When I said to the Queen that she had given Alençon money, she asked me how I knew, whereupon I said that it was so public that the French ambassador himself had told me. She asked me whether that was true, and I said Yes, it was, and as I held the ambassador to be a gentleman, he would not deny having told me so. She has written great complaints about it to Alençon, and sent to ask the ambassador whether he counted the money himself, that he should know so well what she gave.
Three hundred Englishmen have been raised very secretly, and they are already in Gravesend and Sandwich. I have informed the prince of Parma and M. de Lamotte, suspecting that they may be intended for some plot.
One of the counts of Embden, who I reported was here, recently left for his home through France, fearing capture at sea, a steward of his having been taken by your Majesty's ships at Friesland. He was not very well pleased here, as the Queen would not accede to his request that the dissensions between the English merchants and the Easterlings, respecting the maintenance of their privileges, should be arranged. Hamburg and the other maritime towns of the empire have asked him and his brother to turn the English trade out of Embden. The earl of Leicester gave him two jewels worth three hundred crowns.
As soon as Don Antonio arrived in France he sent French pilots and captains hither for his ships, but the English would not admit them, as they had been warned by men whom I had set on for the purpose that Don Antonio wanted to get his ships out of English hands. Don Antonio then ordered them (i.e., the English crews) to bring the ships to France, but they said they had signed articles for a voyage to Terceira, where they were to receive pay and victuals, and for this voyage they were ready. Seeing their determination Don Antonio had to put up with this.
On the 6th instant six of Don Antonio's ships and some pirates left the Isle of Wight and Portsmouth. They only carried victuals for a month and were short of sailors, many of them having begun to desert. If this weather continues they will have to come back to the coast, where there is a great multitude of English and French corsairs awaiting any ships that arrive, and particularly those from the Newfoundland fisheries.
Leicester has bought a ship of 250 tons for 2,000l., to accompany that which I said was in Plymouth for Frobisher to take to the Mollucas. They think of sending 3,000l. worth of merchandise in them on account of private individuals, the shares being 100l. and 200l. each, at Leicester's request. He sent to ask Drake for sailors for the voyage, which he has promised to send, and to contribute 400l. to the risk, as well as giving a pinnace of 40 tons which was built on the Queen's stocks here. I am informed from Dieppe that four well fitted ships of 100 and 150 tons each had left there for the Straits of Magellan.
Some Englishmen have arrived in this country from Barbary, having arranged with the king of Morocco to take him timber from here ready cut to build his galleys. The quantity is so large that, although Leicester is mixed up in the affair for the sake of the profit, they have had to send to Holland for some of the wood, as all of it could not be furnished here.—London, 20th October 1581.
151. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
Since my last report on Scotch affairs I hear that a meeting of nobles had been held, almost like a Parliament, in order to fulfil the laws of the country, which forbid the confiscation of the property of a rebel whose body is not above ground, as they call it, meaning unburied. For this purpose they did not bury Morton until they had held the meeting to confiscate his property, and at the same gathering they confirmed the title of duke of Lennox which the King had given to D'Aubigny. All other subjects were postponed and the Parliament prorogued, the only reason for this being apparently to await the return of the man who they had sent to France to see if the king of France would address the king of Scotland as such. Walsingham assures the Queen that he will do so, and says that, when the king of France was talking about Scotch affairs, he called the King "king of Scotland" two or three times, which he, Walsingham, appears to have thought very important.
This Queen is very suspicious that the king of France, having recognised the king of Scotland, the Scotch Parliament may accede to the wishes of some of the principal personages of the country, and allow the exercise of the Catholic religion. She is, therefore, making every possible effort, both in France and Scotland, particularly with Alençon, to prevent the Parliament being held. Leicester and the heretics, in the same way, are inciting the Protestants not to allow it, and arousing their hatred of the Catholics, publishing here with this end that there have been public disputations in Scotland, with the result that the exercise of the Catholic religion was to be allowed by Parliament, D'Aubigny having obtained a license under the Great Seal to bring his wife to Scotland and have mass said in their house. The first statement is a lie, and I am not sure whether that about the license is so or not.—London, 20th October 1581.
27 Oct.
B. M. MSS. Add. 28,702. Extract.
152. Memorandum of Cardinal De Granvelle to the King on English affairs.
Don Bernardino's letters report that he had not yet obtained audience of the Queen, and that Don Antonio is already in France. It is probable that he (Don Bernardino) will not use the letters his Majesty sends him, as they are expelling him and he has no opportunity of pressing for the restoration of Drake's plunder. As I have written on other occasions, it may be of some use in the meanwhile for him to make a noise about it, and render the Queen unpopular with the merchants and other persons interested, so that they may be made to understand that, for her own profit, and that of some of her councillors, they are placed in danger of losing their trade, and thus a quarrel may be set up against the Queen.
It is most important that we should know what is being done in Scotland. The greatest vigilance must be used in counteracting the attempts of the English to sow their heresy here, and to this effect the edicts with regard to the lodging of Englishmen should be carried out strictly. Don Bernardino's other remarks on this subject are also well timed.
It is pitiful to see how the Catholics are suffering, and especially as, the more attempts are made to help them, the harder is their fate. Don Bernardino is acting exceedingly well in aiding them underhand, in order that they may be the deeper pledged by his solicitude for them.
It would be very desirable to have copies of those documents which he says the rebels seized at Ripplemond, and it would be well that he should continue negotiations with the man who offered to copy them, although it may cost something, but it is of the highest importance.
He should be instructed to thank the man who refused to serve Don Antonio with his ship, and also for the care taken to prevent the pilots who came in the ship from joining Don Antonio.
With regard to the marriage, still being pushed by Marchaumont, I look upon it as feigned, the object being rather to get hold of some money than to marry the Queen. We shall see what happens ; but if the marriage takes place, I shall not be sorry ; indeed I wish it had already done so.—Madrid, 27th October 1581.
29 Oct.
B. M. Add. MSS. 28,702. Extract.
153. Memorandum of Cardinal De Granvelle to the King on English affairs.
From what can be gathered of these letters (of Don Bernardino), the marriage of the queen of England and Alençon is not so far advanced as had been asserted nor is it likely that it will ever happen. Perhaps God, for His own good ends and to punish the wickedness of both parties, may in His infallible wisdom act so as entirely to frustrate their designs, and may cause these close negotiations for friendship to result in bitter enmity. God grant it ! I am delighted to see that the Queen demands Calais and an alliance against Scotland. These are vital points, upon which it may be hoped they will disagree.
A great pity on one side, and a great consolation on the other, is the martyrdom of these holy men, whose sufferings, I trust, will aid in the faith, whilst God punishes the impious wickedness of those who have done them to death.—Madrid, 29th October 1581.
29 Oct. 154. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
Since writing on the 20th, I hear of the return of the English ships which I said had gone to Terceira with arms and munitions under Captain Dun (?), a servant of Walsingham. He brings with him a Portuguese called Peri-Jacome, a native of the island, who, I am informed, is the richest man in the place. His desire is to see Don Antonio, in order to learn where he wishes the money to be sent which is derived from your Majesty's revenues and other property in the island. They accepted there the bills drawn by Don Antonio, in respect of this money, to pay for the ships and other things he had purchased here. He, Peri-Jacome, also requests that gunpowder be sent and lime to build two breastworks on the shore there this winter, as a defence. He says that no men are wanted, unless it is to conquer St. Michaels, and the rest of the islands that are faithful to your Majesty, which they would do if they are aided from here. This Peri-Jacome says he brings 4,000 ducats, which a lady cousin of his at Terceira asked him to present to Don Antonio for her, with a petition that he would allow her to sell her property and devote the proceeds to his service. With him there come four or five Portuguese, and amongst them a friar, who, the Portuguese say, advised them to drive herds of cattle before them, to break Don Francisco de Valdes' troops in the island. They, the Portuguese, were two days at court before they arrived in London, and I am told that the news they bring is to the effect that your Majesty's fleet under Don Lope de Figueroa had not been able to land any men, and that there were eight thousand fighting men on the island, with about three hundred Englishmen, who were receiving four ducats a month pay, with which, however, they were not satisfied and wanted to return. A ship from France with 150 Frenchmen on board had arrived, but they would not allow them in the island, as they brought no letters from Don Antonio. The English were reimbursed for the arms they carried thither in sugar and hides, which had been plundered from Spanish vessels, and which have been brought hither in these two ships. I have been unable to ascertain whether the value of these is greater than that of the arms ; but have learnt that the monies belonging to your Majesty which they had there amount to 30,000 crowns, besides 60,000 in the form of pearls, sugar, and hides, which had been confiscated in ships arriving there from Santo Domingo, the coast of Brazil, and elsewhere.
Peri-Jacome lodges in the house of one Vega, who was left here by Don Antonio instead of Souza, but I understand that he wishes to leave for France at once. This Vega is giving a host of letters of marque against Spanish subjects, by virtue of a power left in his favour by Don Antonio, and the English are ready enough to take them. Although I represented this to the Queen, with other things, when I saw her, she only replied that the king of France was doing a great deal more of this sort than was done in her country, and asked me what I had to say about that. I replied that I was not your Majesty's Minister in France, but in England, and consequently only concerned myself with English affairs, but that I knew that she would be much offended if any of her rebellious subjects were to give letters of marque in Spain against her people. Don Antonio's ships made an attempt on the Flemish hulks coming from Andalusia and Lisbon, on the ground that they carried Spanish property, but the hulks defended themselves, and although it is said here that some of them were captured, I am not sure of this, only that Don Antonio's ships were at Plymouth a week ago with contrary weather. Alençon is now openly expected every day, but the weather apparently has prevented his coming over. The Queen has ordered some doors to be made in certain galleries, so that access may be afforded to her without the need of passing through the public courtyards, and 30,000l. are being got ready in the exchequer, by which it may be gathered that, the English having scoffed at the idea of the marriage, the principal object of his visit is to ask for money, which the Queen wishes to give him and send him off in a good humour. The ambassadors say he will not bring more than 40 horse and the Prince Dauphin. I will advise his arrival.—London, 29th October 1581.
30 Oct.
Paris Archives. K 1447. 93.
155. The King to Bernardino De Mendoza.
Your letters of 7th and 10th September were received here on the 18th instant, and we note that the French had asked the Queen to contribute her part if she wished the league to be an offensive one and to break with us at once. We see also that when she was asked for so large a sum as this, she tried to make the treaty a defensive one only, after all. We await news of the result, and also as to whether Walsingham has returned, and, if so, what he has settled. You will inquire into this and report with your customary diligence.
You did well in sending the minute intelligence about Don Antonio, and the changeable way in which they are treating him, first promising him ships and then refusing them. As he was on the point of leaving, I doubt not you will advise me as to the road he was taking, what ships he had, and how he was treated on his departure. Let me know also whether he still keeps up a correspondence with England from the place where he now may be, and whether there are any signs of aid being sent to him. If the letters I wrote to the Queen on the subject reached you just before his departure, I expect you will have kept them back, and not taken the action which you were instructed to take, as otherwise the Queen may want to put me under an obligation for doing what she had decided to do on her own account.
With regard to Scotland and the negotiation which has been opened by those lords, I cannot refrain from thanking you highly for the clever way in which you have taken it in hand, which well proves your care and sagacity. The business is such a great one, however, that it cannot fail to present many difficulties, but you will follow the course you have begun, and keep the Catholics in hand, urging them to base the plan on solid foundations, in which case they may look for help.
I have been glad to hear so fully as you write the details of Irish affairs, and of the troops employed there on either side ; and as it may be important for me to know all that is passing there, I request you will report any change that may take place.
With regard to the 2,000 ducats sent to you for the purpose you are aware of, (fn. 6) the plan you adopted was a good one. You have acted wisely in temporising about the audience.—Lisbon, 30th October 1581.


  • 1. Dr. Storey. See Vol. 2 of present Calendar.
  • 2. "Would to God that each one had his own and was at peace."
  • 3. Allen was chief of the English Jesuit Seminary at Rheims, and was raised to the Cardinalate by Sixtus V., after repeated urging by Philip.
  • 4. This remarkable man, who for so many years was a thorn in the side of Elizabeth, was born in Stowey, Somersetshire, of obscure parentage in 1546. He was sent to Balliol College, Oxford, at the cost of John Haywood the rector of the parish, whose natural son he was stated to be. Camden, who was a fellow student with him, gives him a very bad character. "He was a violent fierce natured man, of rough behaviour..... When he was young, the fellow was much noted for his singular impudency and disorder in apparel, going in great barrel hose, as was the fashion of hacksters of those times, and drawing also deep in a barrel of ale." Camden quotes another writer, who says that Persons was "a common alehouse squire, and the drunkenest spunge in all the parish where he lived." He graduated M.A. in 1563, and became dean of the College, professing at the time strongly Protestant opinions. Dr. Abbot, afterwards archbishop of Canterbury, who was a fellow of Balliol, describes him as being "a man wonderfully given to scoffing, and that with bitterness, which was the cause that none of the company loved him." As bursar in 1573 he got into trouble over his accounts, and was forced to resign his fellowship on the ground of his illegitimacy. He then went abroad, and drifted from Louvain to Padua, Bologna, and Rome, studied medicine, and adopted civil life, but eventually, in 1575, entered the Company of Jesus at Rome, and at the time the above letter was written had been appointed Provincial for England.
  • 5. Jasper Heywood.
  • 6. i.e., to bribe Sir James Crofts, the Controller, and a member of the Queen's Council.