Simancas: November 1581, 1-15

Pages 203-219

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.


November 1581, 1-15

2 Nov. 156. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
I wrote on the 29th that M. d'Alençon was expected every day. He arrived yesterday here in disguise and remained in Stafford's house awaiting the Prince Dauphin, who had embarked in another ship ; Alençon being obliged by the heavy weather to anchor in the Downs and disembark with some danger. I understand that he will go to-night to Richmond, as he sent word to the Prince Dauphin, who arrived to-day and is lodged at the French Embassy, that he is to remain there until the Queen sends for him. I will instantly inform your Majesty of what I can learn about his stay. The Queen appointed a gentleman three days since to go to Scotland, although no commission has yet been given to him. I suspect, however, that it will be concerning the abdication which the queen of Scots wishes to make in favour of her son.
St. Aldegonde comes with Alençon, who met him at Boulogne ; he having gone to meet Alençon with the 40,000 florins which Orange and the rebel States were sending him.
I understand that Don Antonio's ships took a hulk and another little vessel loaded with sugar from Viana, and I have given an account to the Queen and Council about it, in order that the merchandise may be placed on deposit, as the property of your Majesty's subjects, until the power of attorney arrives from the owners. Orders have been given to this effect, and a Queen's officer sent, but I do not know whether it is merely compliment or not.—London, 2nd November 1581.
6 Nov.
Paris Archives. K. 1559.
157. Juan Bautista De Tassis to the King.
The Scots ambassador recently came to give me the reply from his mistress to the message from your Majesty respecting the proposals he had made to me, and I communicated to your Majesty in my letter from Blois (see letter of 10th April 1581). As the answer was in writing, I have thought best to send your Majesty a literal translation of it enclosed, so that I have only to add what the ambassador told me respecting the mission of Douglas hither some time ago, as he (Douglas) is mentioned in the reply. He says that Douglas was sent by the prince of Scotland with letters to the king of France and duke of Guise, to learn whether an ambassador from him would be received here as from a King, for the purpose of renewing the ancient alliance between France and Scotland. If the Prince were assured that his title of king should be recognised, he would send hither a formal embassy, but Douglas was instructed, in the first instance, to consult the duke of Guise and follow his opinion in the matter.
It appears that the ambassador (Beaton) then approached the duke of Guise, and even the King, to prevent anything being done to the prejudice of his mistress, to whom he immediately reported what had been done, and he succeeded in preventing Douglas from speaking to the King and Queen (Mother) or delivering his letters. He also contrived, probably aided by the duke of Guise, to get the King to defer decision in the matter until he had learnt the wishes of the queen of Scotland, to whom he wrote. The result of this was that the queen of Scotland ordered Douglas to return without doing anything, which order he obeyed, as she did not wish her son to assume the title of King, except in conjunction with herself, both names being used. I understand she will be willing to accord him thus much if he is obedient to her as he should be.
The ambassador casts the principal blame for the coming of Douglas upon the duke of Lennox, who is a Frenchman of the house of D'Aubigny, and has the greatest influence over the Prince, to the Queen's displeasure.
I asked him what was the present position in Scotland, as regards the person of the Prince, the hopes of his conversion to the Catholic faith, and also as to the tranquillity of the country, and the bodies of men who had risen there in favour of the queen of England's party. He told me that, as for religion, no change had taken place, although the Prince showed signs of desiring to follow his mother's wishes in all things ; and, with regard to the bands in favour of the Queen of England, he understood that the latter was still making great efforts to foment them by money. There were still intrigues going on amongst those who surrounded the Prince, but he hoped that things would settle down in time. He says that his mistress shows some desire that he himself should go to Scotland to deal with her son for her ; and, although it is many years since he was there, he thinks of going, if necessary, but he knows not when. He tells me also, that before Douglas left here he saw the Queen-Mother, by the advice of the duke of Guise, merely as a matter of compliment, and without saying anything about his mission.
I beg your Majesty to instruct me how I am to reply. I recollect to have reported to your Majesty that I had heard something about negotiations for a marriage between the princess of Lorraine (fn. 1) and and the prince of Scotland, in connection with a design for the duke of Guise to go to his support with a body of troops. I learnt this from the Secretary of Hercules (fn. 2) at the same time as Douglas arrived here ; and I now think that his coming gave rise to these discourses, but it is certainly the case that the Duke makes great professions of service to the Prince, whose mother is his kinswoman and I understand he sent him a present of some horses. It is true, also, that such a match as that mentioned is being looked for in several quarters. The said secretary told me lately that the Queen (of Scotland) had written saying that if she did not succeed in getting your Majesty's daughter for her son, no other bride would please her so much as the princess of Lorraine.—Paris, 6th November 1581.
Enclosure in the aforegoing letter, headed :—"Document in French given to me by the Scots ambassador on behalf of his Queen, and translated literally."
It is my intention that you shall acknowledge the reply you have sent me from his Catholic Majesty, thanking his ambassador from me very warmly for the good advice and assurances of friendship contained in the reply. You will inform him that, with regard to sending some person to his Majesty to learn his wishes and convey our own to him, respecting an alliance between us, and the conditions and details of the same, I quite approve that all negotions in this matter should be carried on by the said ambassador and yourself, and have written to my son asking him to send you an ample commission for the purpose. At the same time, you will present my excuses for not having already sent an envoy to the king of Spain, which was in consequence of my having previously seen but little basis for this negotiation, and also of my desire to avoid the suspicion and jealousy which such a step would have aroused, and which his Majesty himself warns me would be very dangerous to me in my present position.
You will also communicate to him the mission of George Douglas sent to the king of France by my son, at the instigation of some of those who are near him ; and that I have authorised him to return to Scotland without doing anything in his mission. I am, therefore, resolved to persevere in my former intention of making a league and alliance with his Catholic Majesty, of whose goodwill towards me and my interests I am assured. He is a good prince naturally, and I am sure he will not abandon me. As he has been burdened by the war in Portugal, I do not wonder that he was unable to take in hand at once the affairs of Scotland, which, at the date of his reply, were full of difficulties and seemed to be tending to a war with the queen of England. I now hope, however, that His Catholic Majesty, whose friendship I know is better for me than any other in Christendom, will send me a more detailed reply ; and that his affairs will have reached a point, and Scotch affairs assumed such an advantageous position for us, as will offer him a better opportunity than before, and especially that he may have less reason to refrain from taking this matter in hand on account of his neighbours.
7 Nov. 158. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
I wrote on the 2nd that Alençon had that day gone to see the Queen, and the next day he sent four coaches to his people for the purpose of bringing the Prince Dauphin. The result of his interview is to inspire hopes that the marriage may be effected, and he wrote to his brother and to his mother to this effect by a gentleman whom he dispatched on the 3rd, as Marchaumont assures an Englishman who is a close friend of his own and an adherent of his master. Notwithstanding this, the indications in every other direction, even in the countenances of the Ministers, much more clearly portend that he will be disappointed. Alençon is lodged in the Queen's own house, although he enters by that in which Marchaumont is lodged, which adjoins one of the principal gallaries of the palace. The Queen's officers are not providing his maintenance, and although some people think that Alençon's people are given the money for the purpose, it is certain that all the money they have spent hitherto has been in gold "Caroluses" and "Philips," and I therefore infer that this will be the money brought by St. Aldegonde, as on their arrival at Gravesend, they placed in the boats four small boxes so heavy as to need two men to carry them. They took great care of these, and it is doubtless the 40,000 crowns, as, if it had come from France it would have been in different coins, and Alençon wishes to spend it here to make the English believe that he is spending his own money, and not the broad angels sent to him by the Queen. This will oblige her to be more liberal than she would otherwise have been. There has been no show of bringing more people to Court than usual, but the Queen went out to meet Alençon, on the excuse that she was going into the country, in order that he might catch sight of her before he arrived.
Leicester has recently become much more intimate with Marchaumont, whilst Sussex has stood back somewhat, which is a sign that Leicester is assured that the marriage will not take place, and that Sussex is distrustful. Walsingham, in conversation lately with the Queen, had much to say of the good parts and understanding of Alençon, whose only fault, he said, was his ugly face. She replied, "Well, you knave!" (which is a very insulting word in English) "why have you so often spoken ill of him? you veer round like a weathercock."
St. Aldegonde tells the Flemish heretics here of the "Church," as they call it, that Alençon will certainly be married, as he is assured thereof, and has been brought here for that purpose. I understand that St. Aldegonde's mission from the rebels was to press Alençon to send three thousand infantry and five thousand French cavalry to the Flemish provinces, under chiefs of his own choosing, as there were so many difficulties in his going in person and with a larger force. He is to be requested to have this force ready as speedily as possible, and the 40,000 florins were sent for the purpose. Alençon had told St. Aldegonde to come hither with him, and he then would decide. This Queen has been making great efforts to prevent the holding of a Parliament in Scotland, and although she has not succeeded, she has caused the earl of Argyll and six other personages to avoid attending. The mission of the gentleman I mentioned in my last as being sent to Scotland by the Queen is to assure the King that she heard with annoyance that greater efforts than ever were being made by him to induce his mother to renounce all her claims in his favour, in forgetfulness of the friendship which she (Elizabeth)has shown him by preserving his life and kingdom. She tells him that if the French incite him to this, he must consider how weak his forces are, and how exhausted France is. If your Majesty's friends are persuading him to the same effect, although you are very strong, yet you are fully employed with powerful enemies in many places. She dwells particularly upon these two points, and tells him many lies in her statements with regard to your Majesty's occupations, in order that he may despair of receiving any help from you. She points out that these considerations will prove to him how much more important it is for him to be friendly with her, than with any other monarch. The envoy is to make every possible effort, if the arrangement about the Catholic religion there and the admission of English Catholics into the country has not been made, to prevent it ; whereas, if the matter is already settled, he is to arouse the indignation of the Protestants against it, so as to cause them to revolt, in which case he is to offer English help.
When the envoy returns they are going to send thither Walter Mildmay, a great heretic and Councillor. On the 5th they sent to communicate with the queen of Scotland about the renunciation, and they have begun to treat her more kindly than before, in order that if the king of Scotland opposes this Queen about the renunciation, she may offer the queen of Scotland to restore her to the throne by force, thus embroiling mother and son. They understand that the queen of Scotland would not refuse this offer.
I have been informed that before she dispatched this man the Queen was alone in a window recess, and she angrily said to herself in the hearing of some ladies, "That false Scotch urchin, for whom I have done so much! to say to Morton the night before he arrested him, 'Father, no one else but you has reared me, and I will therefore defend you from your enemies,' and then after this, the next day, to order him to be arrested, and his head smitten off! What can be expected from the double dealing of such an urchin as this?" It is clear that the king of Scotland's proceedings are causing her much anxiety.
Parliament here has been prolonged until the 20th, as it was not dissolved in June. They say that Alençon's coming will cause it to sit longer still, although this is not certain.
The two ships, which I said had come from Terceira, are making ready to return with munitions, and Don Antonio's ships are, with the two Knollys, at the Isle of Wight.—London, 7th November 1581.
159. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
In consequence of the steps I had taken, underhand, with the London merchants trading with Spain, the principal men of them went to the Council to represent that at this season the greater part of their property and ships was in Spain, and they were desirous of learning what the Queen had decided with regard to the restitution of Drake's plunder, as they feared that their goods might be seized. They were told that the matter would be considered, and that they might return in a few days for the reply. They spoke to Walsingham apart, and begged him to expedite the matter as it was of great importance to them, and he replied that the Queen had already given an answer to the Spanish ambassador, saying that she was going to keep the treasure Drake had brought, in payment of what the king of Spain had caused her to spend in Ireland ; "and if," he said, "they take your property, there is plenty here to pay for it."
The president of the company replied that they wanted no better security than that, to which Walsingham replied, "Do not take my word for it, but come back for your answer, and get your property away from Spain as quickly as you can." When I heard this, and that some of their ships are already coming back, I saw that they could not all be seized during the present vintage, and even if it had been possible, it might have caused inconvenience in your Majesty's interests whilst Terceira still held out. I therefore thought best to arouse their alarm, and at the same time prevent the restitution being forgotten, it being of the highest consequence just now because it is the lure by which Alençon and the French keep the Queen attached to them ; so I pretended that I had a letter from the Master and Consuls of the merchants of Seville, addressed to the company of Spanish merchants here, saying that they were expecting the reply to be given to me by the Queen about the restitution of Drake's plunder, and if this was not what they hoped it would be, your Majesty would order them to be reimbursed out of English property. This they would greatly regret, as they had for so long held friendly commercial intercourse with them ; and they advised them, therefore, to endeavour to induce the Queen to do justice. I dwelt fully upon these points, and I had the letter conveyed to them on the arrival of a ship from Seville. They read it whilst in session together, and resolved to have it copied in English, sending copies to the Treasurer and Walsingham, and another to the Council. It was there considered, and the company was told to answer very civilly and moderately, saying that Alençon's visit was occupying the attention just now, but that a reply would shortly be sent. Two days afterwards Walsingham sent to ask the Company of Merchants to request Pedro de Zubiaur to go to the Council (he having given them the letter). He was told that the Queen would appoint persons to examine the powers and documents he brought against Drake, to which Zubiaur replied, in accordance with my instructions, that he had no documents, as they had all been handed to me, who had been ordered specially by your Majesty to deal with this business. He said that his stay here was only for the pupose of pressing me, on behalf of the Consuls, not to forget the affair. Walsingham said that the Queen would send to tell me the names of those who were to examine the documents ; one of the persons would be the Judge of the Admiralty, but the matter could not be settled until French affairs had been disposed of.
I cannot assure your Majesty whether, having brought them to the point of examining the documents, the business will really be taken up, as I desire, on an official demand by your Majesty's Minister, and not as a private matter, as they have so persistently tried to make it. Restitution can only be obtained by showing that the matter concerns your Majesty, and in that case, if restitution is refused, the Crown of England will manifestly be responsible for the value of the property.—London, 7th November 1581.
160. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
In accordance with your Majesty's orders that I should duplicate and triplicate my letters, sending them by various ways, I do so on every possible occasion, by Rouen, Calais, and Antwerp, but, after all, I am obliged to send all these through Paris to be forwarded by Tassis, to whom I enclose them under cover of other names, to avoid danger of capture. This is necessary, as the ships sailing for Spain are rare, excepting at certain seasons of the year, and even then, unless some Spaniard is going in them, or other very trustworthy person, I dare not confide to the hands of any Englishman a despatch that I would not readily show to the Council. (fn. 3) Even merchants' letters are read by them, and ships are always hunting after mine. As couriers have to wait for favourable weather and means of passage, excepting in the case of special messengers, which are costly, I am obliged to depend upon the letters being forwarded from Paris. This is the reason why I write so frequently, so as to miss no opportunity of the letters going from there.
I am keeping in hand the Englishmen who were asking me to give them passports to capture property from your Majesty's rebellious subjects, saying that M. de la Motte would grant them ; and although this has had some effect, and has cooled them about going with Don Antonio, it is necessary that I should have a reply from your Majesty with regard to their being admitted into Spanish ports, since M. de la Motte, although he gives letters of marque, has no harbour for anything larger than a boat. As Don Antonio's ships are already taking prizes, which they bring to these coasts, a multitude of Englishmen with ships have begun to urge Vega, who is Don Antonio's agent here, to give them letters of marque. As they are many, this may be very inconvenient, especially as they and the pirates from France will certainly enormously increase their strength by dint of their plunder, much as boys' snowballs, which get bigger as they roll. The pirates have also been greatly encouraged by the news from Terceira and the prompt payment of Don Antonio's drafts in their favour. This makes them very busy in fitting out ships, and although I try to divert them by alarming the merchants, and by my efforts with the Councillors, yet as the head of the pirates is Knollys, a kinsman of the Queen and of Leicester, none of my endeavours succeed, as I have nothing to offer in the way of an inducement to wean them from a sure profit.
It is a great consolation for the Catholics here, in their affliction, that your Majesty should favour them ; as by your hand they hope that God will release them from this captivity. I tell them what your Majesty orders, and do my best to alleviate their sufferings. After having again terribly tormented Campion, (fn. 4) of the Company of Jesus, they have "indicted" him, as they call it here, as a traitor, with sixteen others, mostly clergymen. They are in prison, and it is to be feared they will be executed, Campion not yet having been brought to trial, as he is all dislocated and cannot move.
The Lords and gentlemen who are prisoners, it is understood, will be brought before the Star Chamber, which is the supreme tribunal here, where only great cases are heard. Their reason for pressing these matters now is that they want them done whilst Alençon is here, in order to gratify the English and Scotch Protestants, and discourage the Catholics and make it appear that he cares nothing about religion, but that his only desire is to please the Queen. (fn. 5)
The Catholics ask me to try to bring influence to bear in France to get the Queen-mother to write to Alençon, asking him to beg the Queen to save Campion's life, as they do not trust the French Ambassador here for such an office. As Campion had been gifted with great parts to win souls by his eloquence, I wrote to Tassis secretly to tell the Rector of the Jesuits in Paris, in order that he and other Friars might beg the Queen-mother to write earnestly to Alençon about it. This was done, in a way which would prevent the Queen-mother from imagining that the matter had been started from here, and that it should appear to have originated in the Friars themselves, because if these people were to think the (English). Catholics had begun it, it would be quite fruitless. I also wrote to William Allen at Rheims.
The Queen has again received confirmation from Ireland of the death of Dr. Sanders (fn. 6) from illness.—London, 7th November 1581.
11 Nov. 161. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
I wrote on the 8th instant in triplicate, sending each copy by a different road, relating the hopes which were entertained by Alençon of the marriage, after his first interview with the Queen. He is with her every day from the time he rises until supper time, Sussex and Stafford only being allowed to be present ; but I am assured that even they are not allowed to hear what passes between the two, and the Queen has not yet called a council to decide anything. I hear, however, that as soon as she learnt that Alençon had arrived in England, she said to certain of the Councillors separately that they must consider what would have to be done with him ; to which they replied that they could hardly do that, unless she made her own intentions upon the subject clear. To this she answered that she was quite satisfied with the person of Alençon. When he arrived here he told those who he knew were his adherents that he would not go out in public nor undertake any other affairs until he had settled with the Queen the subject about which he came. If this be so, present indications prove that he has got an affirmative answer, as he now shows himself almost publicly, and appears to be in high spirits ; all the principal people at Court being allowed to see him at dinner and supper. Leicester leaves nothing undone, and, in the absence of the Prince Dauphin, always hands Alençon the napkin, publicly declaring that there seems to be no other way for the Queen to secure the tranquillity of England but to marry Alençon ; and Walsingham says the same. The Frenchmen who came with him and the ambassadors who were here before, look upon the marriage as an accomplished fact, but the English in general scoff at it, saying that he is only after money, and that he has already begged the Queen to give him 100,000l. and four thousand men to aid your Majesty's rebels. The principal Englishmen, indeed, are saying that if he wanted a regular pension they would grant it him, to the extent of 20,000l. a year, so that there are more indications of money being given to him than anything else. It is certain that the Queen will do her best to avoid offending him, and to pledge him in the affairs of the Netherlands, in order to drive his brother into a rupture with your Majesty, which is her great object, whilst she keeps her hands free and can stand by looking on at the war.
She has ordered three of her ships to be fitted out with great haste and secrecy. As it is not evident what they can be needed for at present, and judging by the preparations being made they can hardly be for Terceira, it is to be suspected that they may be to carry Alençon to Flushing and Antwerp, which of all things this Queen would like best.
I have been thinking over all these things, and although the marriage question and the others may not yet be settled, yet it is clear that this intimacy of Alençon with the Queen cannot be advantageous to your Majesty's interests, and I have been trying to devise some means by which I might get to see her. This I artfully endeavoured to manage, as soon as I heard that Alençon had come to England, on the pretext that Antonio de Castillo had received his letters of recall from your Majesty, and that I had orders to present him to her, for the purpose of his taking leave. I thought that she would be obliged to give me audience, and added that she might see that in this audience she would not be obliged to send her ladies away ; and I felt that I ought to excuse myself to them for having been the cause of it before. I thought that this remark would prevent Leicester from standing in the way of an audience, besides which I thought that the path would be smoothed by the fact that the letter your Majesty sent her had caused them some anxiety, and she might think it necessary to say something to me about it, in which case I could quietly try to wean her somewhat from her intimacy with the French, without appearing to seek the opportunity myself, but only in reply to her remarks. She appointed an audience for me, and said I should be welcome in two days. Thereafter Alençon having then arrived, and I being just ready to get into the coach, she sent me word that she was not well, and as my audience was not for the purpose of treating with her about pressing business, she begged me to excuse her for the present, and she would send word to me when I could see her.
This attempt having failed, and as I could not press again for an audience whilst Alençon was here, and seeing also that his negotiations were prospering, I perceived the necessity of hindering them somehow if possible, or at all events of throwing cold water upon them. At the same time it was necessary to proceed with the Queen and Ministers so that they could not imagine that they were being courted on your Majesty's behalf, because the moment such an idea enters their heads their insolence soars to the skies, and they get worse than ever when they think they are sought after, this being the basis of their confidence, and of their growing effrontry in keeping your Majesty busy. It is also unadvisable to let them get desperate, with the idea that they cannot hope for your Majesty's friendship, and I therefore adopted the course of sending to Cecil at an undue hour, in order that he might think that it was the more important, saying that I had just received a special courier from France with intelligence of great moment both in the interests of your Majesty and of this Queen. I said I did not wish to ask for audience, in order that it might not be thought that I did so in consequence of Alençon being here, but that I should be glad if I could see him, Cecil, to discuss these matters with him. I told him that I had been informed from France that the queen of Scotland had acknowledged her son jointly with herself as sovereign of the country, and that even if the queen of England thought fit to pass this over, in consequence of the friendthip that France was now displaying towards her (which I did not mean to say was feigned), I, nevertheless, in view of the ancient alliance between your Majesty and this country, could not avoid pointing out to her the palpable disadvantages to her which it might produce. I cited at length many examples from the past, and dwelt with appropriate arguments upon the subject, founded upon the long and mortal enmity which had existed between France and England, and upon the long course of intrigue which the French had carried on in Scotland, up to the recent overthrow of Morton. I cast further suspicion upon the matter by pretending to have news from Rome and elsewhere, and reminded Cecil of how often, ever since I had been here, I had warned the Queen to keep her eyes on the queen of Scotland, and I pointed out to him that I had prognosticated what was now happening. I said that it did not matter to your Majesty whether there was a King or a Queen in England, and consequently that I had nothing to say about the marriage although Alençon was here ; but that it was of the greatest importance to you that England should always remain a separate kingdom, governed by Englishmen and not by Scotsmen, the latter of whom had always been your Majesty's enemies, whilst the English had been your friends.
Cecil received all this with many thanks, and said that he would inform the Queen thereof immediately, he being sure that she would greatly esteem the admonition and my good manner of proceeding, which he himself had always acknowledged. Under cover of these general expressions of thanks he tried to draw me out by asking whether I knew that, in addition to the help being given by the king of France to his brother in Flanders, he was aiding Don Antonio strongly, in consequence of his having received information (which had also reached the Queen) that, on the slightest demonstration being made in his favour, all Portugal would rise for him, as the people were discontented to have your Majesty for King. Cecil's only aim in this was to impress upon me that these facts rendered their friendship necessary to your Majesty. I paid him with his own coin on both points, by saying that, as to the Netherlands, the king of France was not strong enough to declare war against your Majesty, as in such case you would be obliged to listen to the many approaches made to you to bring both Scotland and England to your side, and he was therefore glad, under cloak of his brother, to promote war in Flanders, with the impression that it would pledge this Queen to him, as it was not undesirable for her that your Majesty should be engaged in war there. It was, however, not to her interest that the French should make themselves entire masters of Flanders, and, whilst assuring her on this point, they persuaded her to overlook Scotch affairs in which they were so busy. I said he might think all this was merely my imagination if he did not see what was going on in Scotland, but I could positively assure him that what I said was true. With regard to Portugal, I said that he might see the loyal attachment of the Portuguese to your Majesty by the fact that, when Don Antonio went so rashly to take possession of Lisbon, there was not a man in the whole country who would lend him a real wherewith to keep himself, and even Botolph Holder would not give him a letter of credit for 2,000 crowns against some pepper, whilst they had spent two hundred thousand crowns in triumphal arches and other things on your Majesty's entrance into Lisbon, notwithstanding your Majesty's having desired that no expense should be incurred. They had humbly begged your Majesty to let them spend the money, and to allow them to show their gratitude to God in all things for having granted them your Majesty for their King. I said that he could see what sort of a following Don Antonio had by the people he had with him here, hardly one of whom was of any importance. The aid promised by the king of France was not so much for the benefit of Don Antonio as for that of the King himself, he having, at the request of his mignons, deprived Strozzi of the command of the infantry. It was not to his interest to allow him to be idle after he had dismissed him, as he belonged to the new religion, and he therefore employed him in Don Antonio's business, by which means he would get safely rid of him.
Cecil confirmed to me that the queen of Scotland had sent word to this Queen ten days before that the king of France and the Queen-mother, at the request of her kinsmen the Guises, had asked her to associate her son with herself in the crown of Scotland and any claims she possessed ; and that she (the queen of Scotland) had begged the Queen to be allowed to send a gentleman to France, and another to her son to discuss the matter. This Queen had thereupon sent Beal to the queen of Scotland to learn fully what had moved her to this, and when he returned he, Cecil, said he would let me know what the Queen decided about it, and he would now go to the Queen and convey to her what I had said.
According to my poor understanding I thought that this was the best course to take under the circumstances, as it did not pledge us to any particular point, and yet introduced your Majesty into these Scotch affairs, which is necessary in the present condition of things and in the view of future events, At the same time these people will not think that your Majesty is seeking them, but only warning them of their own danger if they bind themselves too closely to the French, whilst it may be instrumental in opening the door to a reconciliation if they change their behaviour, and will show that you are not implacable towards their offences since your Ministers are so careful of the interests of England. If I had taken any other course the Queen would immediately have tried to curry favour with the French by telling them that your Majesty was running after her. I have full experience of this, and of her lies and deceit, for after my last audience she told the (French) ambassador, so that every one should hear, that she had told me that, if your Majesty wanted war, she would declare it at once, and that I had thereupon instantly seized her hands, praying her, for the love of God, not to say that, and that your only desire was to enjoy entire peace and friendship with her, the very opposite of what really happened. The ambassador repeated it to me, and I said I was not sorry to hear that the Queen had said that, for it would cause me, in such case, very shortly to leave England, which was my greatest wish. He replied that, although the Queen had told him, he did not believe it, and thought that I had told the truth. At the same time, in order to prevent the Queen and her Ministers from disheartening the queen of Scotland by telling her what I had done, and saying that she will in future have against her both the French and your Majesty, which might cast her down entirely and cause her to abandon the conversion of her son and his kingdom, which, according to all human judgment, will be the means of extirpating the multitude of heretics in Europe, I have written to the queen of Scotland that this Queen had sent a Minister of hers to tell me that the prevention of the association of her son with her in her rights was as important to your Majesty as it was to England. I said that, although I had listened to their suggestions, I advised her of it at once in order that she might not be scandalised thereat if she heard of it through another channel, and I assured her that I had acted as I did in order to get on well with these people, with the object of the conversion of her son and the country in accordance with your Majesty's desires. I thus avoided any distrust she might have had if I had not told her myself, and the result will probably be to greatly increase her ardour in bringing her son and the country to the true religion. As it is important, I send this despatch by special courier to Tassis, and ask him to forward it from Paris in the same way.— London, 11th November 1581.
162. Extract of Letter from the Queen of Scotland to Mendoza received whilst this Letter was being written, and sent enclosed with it.
In accordance with the resolution I have taken to follow, as far as I can, in the conduct of my affairs the wishes of my good brother the king (of Spain), I desire to direct his attention again to the approaches which have newly been made to me on behalf of my son, asking me to accord him the title of king of Scotland, with all dutiful submission towards myself. He has, unknown to me, written to the king of France and the Queen-mother asking them to intercede with me to this effect, and I have recently received letters from them appealing personally to me, with great demonstrations of their affection for us. In order not to lose this opportunity of promoting the re-establishment of my affairs, I have consented to associate my son with myself in the throne of Scotland, and he and his Council will, as a consequence, take such measures as shall bring the whole country to my side. I do not know how the queen of England will take it when she is informed, but whatever she may do I am resolved to proceed with it. In order to obviate any fear of suspicion or jealousy on the part of the king (of Spain), I shall be glad to hear from him on the subject.—(6th November 1581?)
163. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
The Scotch Parliament was prolonged until the end of last month because certain men, at the instance of this Queen, had delayed attending. She secretly sent thither, through Leicester, an Englishman named Roger Austin, who had served in the king of Scotland's chamber, and who, as I wrote months ago, was arrested there on suspicion of being a spy of this Queen's. He has been here now for some months, and she gave him a sum of money and sent him to Scotland. As he was well acquainted with the country he managed to gain over some of the principal people on the border and in the North, in order that the Queen might be secure if the king of Scotland sought to break with her. I am told that, amongst others, he has already brought over to her side Alexander Hume, a man of influence, who had declared himself the mortal enemy of Morton, so much so that when they brought him, Morton, from Dumbarton to Stirling for execution, Hume was the only man who would raise troops to take him, and he gathered five hundred men and took him to Stirling.
This Alexander Hume has lost the favour of the King and Lennox for accusing Lord Creighton, a neighbour and great enemy of his, of having been an accomplice in the murder of the late king of Scotland, having bought over to this end a servant of Archibald Douglas, who was condemned to death for complicity in the same crime. Hume promised him that he should be pardoned if he accused Lord Creighton of the crime, whereupon the servant made a statement against Creighton in the presence of Alexander Hume, who begged that he himself might be commissioned to arrest Creighton, with authority to kill him if he resisted. As soon as this commission was signed Creighton was informed, and, as his conscience was clear, he at once presented himself to the Council and proved his innocence, and, at the same time, the wickedness of Alexander Hume.
The heretic ministers in Scotland have lately been scattering some books against the duke of Lennox, Lord Seton, Sir John Seton, and the abbot of Newbogle, in which it was asserted, in the language which these heretics use, that they were "Papists," and that the King should therefore beware of them, as their intention was to plunge the country again into "papistry." The nobles and commonalty of the country were begged to consider whether it was licit that such men as these, suspected in religion, should be allowed near the King's person. This was preached in the pulpits, and the Catholics replied in other books, but, as the Catholics are not many, I fear that this Parliament will hardly dare to propose anything in favour of the Catholic religion, as they think that matters are not yet ripe, nor the persons who will have to be consulted yet well disposed.
The Queen sent special couriers to Beal, Clerk of the Council, recalling him. As I said, he was sent to see the queen of Scotland, and I understand that the change has been brought about by the discussions with Alençon.—London, 11th November 1581.
164. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
Since the closing of the letters sent herewith, my man informs me that, on the persuasion of Leicester, the Queen has pressed Alençon to go over at once to Flanders with the three ships, and she will give him 30,000l. When the States have taken the oath of allegiance to him he could return hither, and she would give him her promise that she would then marry him. Sussex begged Alençon not to deceive himself ; for no matter what pledges and promises were given to him now, if once he went away without being married he might be quite sure that the marriage would never take place. He therefore advises him on no account to be driven out of England until the business is effected. This has caused Alençon to put his back to the wall, and to tell the Queen that, not only will he not leave England, but he will not even leave the apartments where he now is until she tells him clearly the Yes or No of the marriage. When they are alone, she pledges herself to him, to his heart's content, and as much as any woman could to a man, but she will not have anything said publicly. This has caused him to delay a gentleman he was sending to his brother and has prevented him from closing the letters he was to take.
My man also tells me that he has seen and read with his own eyes a letter from the king of France to the Queen, telling her to undeceive herself, for whether she marries his brother or not, he will not openly help him in the Netherlands, but will do his very best to bring about peace there. The Queen has called a general meeting of the Council at Court to-morrow in order that they may decide what should be done.
Yesterday M. d'Insi arrived here, in search of Alençon with fifteen horsemen, amongst whom were some of the principal officers of the garrison of Cambrai, which M. d'Insi surrendered to Alençon.
At the same time there arrived a secretary of the Queen-mother, who has been closeted with the French ambassador before going to Court. I will advise instantly what I can learn of their proceedings.
Whilst writing this I learn that Knollys was at the Isle of Wight on the 9th with Don Antonio's ships. A person who was with them tells me that they have not more than 500 men, and were very short of victuals, having been unable to leave the Channel in consequence of contrary weather. — London, 11th November 1581.
165. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
I am told that when two Flemish heretics and intimate friends of St. Aldegonde, asked him whether he had deciphered the despatches captured recently in France, he answered that it was very easy to do that, as your Majesty's cipher was in so many hands, and drafts of letters could so easily be obtained. They were therefore anxious to get hold of cipher dispatches corresponding with the drafts, even when they were months old, because that enabled them to construct a key. He said the cipher in which all your ministers wrote was the same, and it was extremely difficult to obtain an original key. I am assured that Walsingham said something to the same effect, and that your Majesty's despatches could easily be understood by obtaining a draft of some letter written from a place where no suspicion existed ; and after that, the valises of the ordinary couriers could be opened at night in the hostelries, the despatches extracted and afterwards returned to them again, which is perfectly simple. I myself have done this here frequently, getting hold of letters which I think will be to the interest of your Majesty to see, and in an hour, with a bone reproduction of the same seal, I make up a packet, closed in the same way, after having seen all I want to see, and the matter cannot be detected. I have heard since I have been here that when they deciphered Don John's letters in the States, it was done by means of Secretary Escobedo, who had a servant with him who wrote his cipher despatches. When Escobedo went out the man always accompanied him, leaving his papers in the trunks which, although they were locked, as well as the rooms they were in, and he had the keys, were just the same as if they had been left wide open, as there is hardly a room in Flanders of which the occupants have not two keys, in case one should be lost. The rooms were therefore entered and the locks of the trunks picked, which is easy anywhere, and much more so Flanders, where there are so many skeleton keys that will open any lock.
Seeing how injurious it is to your Majesty's interests for the letters to be deciphered, and considering that it is almost impossible to prevent them from falling into the hands of enemies or false friends, as they are carried by couriers of various nationalities and are handled by postmasters owing no allegiance to your Majesty, whilst it is impossible for your Ministers to fulfil their duties and frankly report the state of affairs, surrounded as they are everywhere by enemies and heretics who are always on the alert, it would not be bad if your Majesty should order, in addition to the general cipher in the hands of all Ministers for ordinary correspondence, that three or four other ciphers for your Majesty's sole use should be distributed amongst the Ministers, and the evil of having only one cipher would thus be obviated. As it is now, directly a courier is rifled in France they understand, by means of a draft taken perhaps elsewhere, all that is written to your Majesty with regard to England, France, and Flanders, which they would not do if these ciphers were various. Another advantage of this would be that, if any of the clerks play false, they can be traced at once, which is not possible now, as they all write the same cipher which is in so many hands. It is of no importance that those who write to the Ministers in Italy and elsewhere should be so careful in writing the ciphers and keeping the papers, but if I or my people are not scrupulous great danger may result when the cipher we use is the same. I know how bold it is for me to write this and I humbly beg for pardon, but I am in a place where at this time affairs are of such importance in the service of God, that if the the Queen and her Councillors should imagine, much less hear, what was going on they would frustrate it, and I am therefore obliged to say this, and to send all my despatches in cipher.—London, 11th November 1581.


  • 1. Christine, daughter of Charles II., duke of Lorrrine, and of Claude, Princess of France. She was born in 1565, and in 1583 married Ferdinand de Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany.
  • 2. The duke of Guise.
  • 3. It is curious that on the very day that these lines were written by Mendoza, Herll writes from Lambeth to the earl of Leicester (Cal. Domestic) that he has means to discover the Spanish ambassador's actions : "He (Mendoza) sends his letters over seas by a woman, hanging them round her waist next the skin. He does not negotiate with the Queen or her Council until he has been well shriven, absolved, and holy-watered." Herll next goes on to say that Mendoza has 100,000l. to his credit, to corrupt instruments for intelligence, which statement will be seen to be very wide of the mark by reference to the King's letter of 30th October and others.
  • 4. Edmund Campion, the Jesuit, was born in 1540 in London, and was educated at Christs' Hospital and St. John's College, Oxford, where he took his master's degree in 1564. He was at first a zealous Protestant, and received ordination from Cheney, bishop of Gloucester. In 1569 he began to waver and passed over to Ireland for the purpose of writing a history of the country, and here his tendency towards Catholicism became confirmed. In the following year, 1570, he publicly acknowledged his conversion and fled in disguise from Ireland to Douai, where he became professor of divinity. From there he found his way to Prague, where he lived for many years as a priest of the Society of Jesus. He was summoned to Rome by his General Mercuriano early in 1580, and despatched with Father Persons on the secret Jesuit mission to England. On landing at Dover on the 25th June he was at once charged with being a Catholic propagandist, and was suspected of being Allen himself. He was, however, released and proceeded on his mission of martyrdom as related in this correspondence.
  • 5. Camden rather confirms this view. He says, "During his (Alençon's) stay here "the Queen, to take away the fear which had possessed many men's minds that religion would be altered and popery tolerated, permitted that Campion, of the Society of Jesus, Ralph Sherwin, Luke Kirby, and Alexander Briant, priests, should be arraigned."
  • 6. Note in the King's hand :— "It will have been a great loss."