Simancas: November 1581, 16-30

Pages 219-229

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

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November 1581, 16-30

19 Nov.
Paris Archives, K. 1447. 97.
166. The King to Bernardino De Mendoza.
Your letters of 17th September and 1st October to hand. You did well to send the drawing of the diamonds, and the reports you had received from all parts, particularly about Don Antonio's departure. As he has gone to France, I expect you have not handed to the Queen the letters I wrote, since the reason for them has disappeared. You may still press for the restitution of Drake's plunder. If it has no other effect, it will make the merchants there understand that the Queen and her Councillors, for their own interests, imperil them with the loss of all Spanish trade, and this may cause them to maintain the attitude you desire. You will, in short, keep this complaint and others open with the Queen. With regard to your audiences, we can only leave the question to your discretion, as you are so well acquainted with the temper of those people.
You have done well in reporting the attempts of the heretics there to disseminate their hateful heresies here. Measures have been adopted to prevent this, and to punish those who may come with such an object. Your suggestion that Englishmen should not be allowed to lodge in the houses of their countrymen in Spain shall not be lost sight of.
It grieves me to learn how the Catholics are suffering there, without my being able to help them. Any demonstration in their favour which I might make at present would be sure to do them more harm than good, but you are doing well by secretly encouraging them and confirming them in their good purpose. You will continue to do this, and as soon as we get an answer from Rome (i.e., about the English cardinals) it shall be communicated to you.
It was unfortunate for the archives at Ripplemond to be taken away, and as it will be very advantageous to have copies of as much as possible, you are directed to continue the negotiations with Antonio Rosa with this end, even though it be necessary to pay something for the transcripts, so long as it is not an excessive sum. You do well to report fully about Scotland, as it is most important that we should be well posted in this respect. As the marriage negotiations have fallen through so often, and Walsingham has returned from Paris without settling about the treaty, it is not likely that the fresh negotiations for the marriage, which you now advise, are not undertaken seriously with the intention of effecting it, but with some other object. Advise what this object can be, and all else you can learn about it.
I thank you for your good offices with the pilots and seamen who came to England in Alonso Mayo's ship, by which they were prevented from joining Don Antonio. Thank the captain also, if he still be there, for the spirit and loyalty with which he answered Don Antonio's message. Thank Antonio de Castillo for the writing sent through you to Don Juan de Idiaquez, which you did well in sending. An answer shall shortly be sent about Bodin. In the meanwhile keep him in hand.—Lisbon, 19th November 1581.
Postscript.—Since writing the above, your letters of 10th ultimo to hand, by which we learn that they were still deferring your audience. As you have told them you have a letter of mine for the Queen and intended to deliver to her my first letter about Don Antonio, notwithstanding his departure, we approve of your intention, although we say elsewhere that the reason for the letter has disappeared and we expected you would not use the letters. The reasons you give are satisfactory, and the step you propose to take may make the Queen more cautious in giving help to Don Antonio, even if it do not prevent her from doing so altogether. (fn. 1)
20 Nov.
Paris Archives, K. 1447. 94.
167. The King to Bernardino De Mendoza.
I am informed that Antonio Fogaza, a Portuguese merchant, (fn. 2) resident in London, who formerly opened a correspondence with officers of mine here and in Flanders, is in prison in London. He begs me to send him money and help to obtain his liberty, which, he says, he lost in my service. As we have no other information about the man and his services beyond what he himself writes, before adopting any decision in the matter I have thought well to request you to inquire what services Fogaza has rendered to us, and why he is in prison. Report all you can learn about him to me, and in the meanwhile help him so far as you can.—Lisbon, 20th November 1581.
20 Nov.
Paris Archives, K. 1447. 101.
168. The King to Bernardino De Mendoza.
As Juan Baptista de Tassis advises me that Alençon embarked at Boulogne on the 16th ultimo for England, I enjoin you to use great vigilance in learning his object, and if they again commence their plots against Flanders, as he is taking Aldegonde with him, or revive the negotiations for an alliance. Let me know also whether the Queen is in correspondence with Don Antonio, and if they are fitting out any ships. Report to me in full detail.
You can reply to the Queen of Scotland's letter to you, in which she thanks me for having, at her request, restored their pensions to certain Englishmen, that in the same way that I respected her wishes in this matter, I will accede to anything which I think may give her satisfaction.—Lisbon, 20th November 1581.
20 Nov. 169. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
Alençon despatched the gentleman I said that he had delayed to inform his brother that he was satisfied with the Queen's pledges about the marriage, and that the King might therefore confidently send a person to settle the alliance which was discussed when Walsingham was in France, and in which, as I wrote on the 7th of September, the English were seeking to introduce fresh clauses, whilst the King has refused to concede a single point until the marriage was absolutely settled. Parliament has been prolonged until the 5th proximo, to give time for the King's reply to be received, and in the meanwhile the Queen has taken no other resolution about Alençon, who appears quite satisfied with her assurance, excepting to order the suspension of the preparations being made on the three ships I mentioned.
Some Englishmen judge that the prolongation of the Parliament is a pure artifice on the part of the Queen, in the certainty that the king of France will not conclude an alliance with her on the mere word of his brother that he is satisfied with her promises, and that, if Alençon thereupon asks her to fulfil her pledges, she will call Parliament together, which will certainly oppose the marriage ; by which means she will shelter herself from carrying it into effect, without giving him any excuse for blaming her personally. This supposition is very plausible, as the Queen has always proceeded in the business in this underhand way, causing some of her Ministers to oppose it sometimes, and on other occasions, others. If she were really desirous of taking him for a husband, there would be no need for her to seek the consent of Parliament, as the second Parliament of her reign gave her such consent after her coronation, without the need of a fresh reference to them.
To this may be added that, although Hatton formerly professed so much attachment to Alençon, and sent a nephew of his who is in France learning the language, and whom he has adopted as his heir, to the relief of Cambrai, and even despatched twelve gentlemen from here to accompany him thither, he had not seen or spoken to Alençon until yesterday, when he entered the room where he was with the Queen witnessing the jousts. The French have murmured about this. The earl of Huntingdon, Leicester's brother-in-law, acted in the same way. (fn. 3)
Besides the Prince Dauphin, those who enter the palace with Alençon are Saint Aignan, Laval, Chateauroux, M. de Prunart, and Marchaumont.
He hears mass at eight in the morning, rising from his bed in shirt and dressing gown to hear it, and returning to bed afterwards. At 9 o'clock the Treasurer, Sussex, and Leicester usually visit him on behalf of the Queen. The ambassador accompanied him until recently when he went to see the Queen, but Alençon has told him not to do so unless he is ordered. The Queen has caused her house in London to be made ready that she may come there to-morrow, the better to entertain Alençon.
St. Aldegonde is pressing him very much to let him depart in company with M. d'Insi, and to send troops to help the rebel States. The only answer given to him hitherto is that it shall be discussed.— London, 20th November 1581.
170. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
Judging that, to obviate the results of Alençon's visit, nothing would be so effectual as to arouse the Queen's distrust of the French, in order to make the thing seem as substantial as possible, I decided to cause suspicion on Scotch affairs, and as I could not see her personally, I adopted the course described in my former letters. Since then I have received the despatch containing your Majesty's orders, and I gather from the steps I am now commanded to take that what I have already done will be very advantageous, as it will cause the Queen to show her hand, and we can then proceed with the circumspection which so important a matter demands. As I have not yet received any fresh reply from the Queen, and do not expect one until Beal returns from the queen of Scotland (except that she sent me through the Treasurer many thanks for my information), I can hardly say, at present, whether it will be advisable or not to adopt the course your Majesty directs, for the following reasons ; first, the talk of the (French) alliance had not only cooled, but was almost at an end, although Alençon was endeavouring to renew it by the aid of the Queen's pledges to him. Since he came, although the Queen does not see me, she nevertheless hints that it will be advantageous to your Majesty's interests for me to ask for audience, her excuse being that she had promised me one before he came, and I had since given her this intelligence. Seeing, however, that she treated me so rudely and violently at the last audience, and coolly referred me to her Council in future, I fear that for me to go to her just now on such a feeble errand as this would only make her more haughty, under the impression that we were seeking her out of pure necessity, and that the fears I have always aroused in her of your Majesty's forces are groundless, whilst she drew the French on by saying that your Majesty was beseeching her. As the matter your Majesty commands, moreover, could only be approached with the Queen personally, I will lose no time in endeavouring to discover her tendency, and act in accordance therewith and the state of the French negotiations, with the object of diverting her from the alliance, handing her a fresh letter of credence if necessary. I have sent her, as a present, some gloves and needlework, with which the duchess of Alba provided me, of which things she is very fond, to soften her, if possible, with such a lenitive to hear me kindly as she used to do. I am doing all that is humanly possible with this end.
I repeat, therefore, that, until I see her and get a reply about Scotland, I cannot decide whether it will be well to take the step your Majesty orders. I cannot avoid pointing out to your Majesty that if, the first time I see her, I ask her point blank, in the event of her thinking the present alliances with your Majesty insufficient, to come to an understanding with me as to what she wants, according to my own poor judgment this course presents two important objections. First, I have constantly impressed upon her how advantageous to England the connection with the house of Burgundy had been, even in past times when the latter was much less powerful than at present, and said that, such being the case, she could judge how beneficial it would be to her to maintain it ; but, notwithstanding this, she has never sincerely taken the hint, but has just said that it was very true, only that she did not trust your Majesty. I have replied that her own actions were the cause of the distrust, and that if she changed her course, her confidence would thereby be restored ; and thus I have smoothed the way for her, showing that by avoiding future offence the old friendship could be re-soldered, but yet it never had the effect of softening her. I therefore had to change my tone and treat her with spirit, which has bridled her better than the other course would have done. The other objection I see to approaching her on the lines directed by your Majesty is that, as I wrote to your Majesty privately at the time, when I first arrived here Sussex promised to be instrumental in confirming the old alliances between the two Crowns, as he was in the Queen's confidence, if your Majesty, whilst ratifying old treaties, would enter into a new one with this country against the queen of Scotland, and they have frequently sounded me about it since. If the Queen is approached now about a confirmation of our alliance, I have no doubt that the first thing she will do will be to propose a league against the queen of Scotland, who is the person she fears most, in the belief that, on Catholic grounds, her claims will be supported by your Majesty more warmly than by any other prince. This is the maxim which she and her heretic Ministers have set before themselves, and upon which they base their action in disturbing your Majesty on all hands, in order to prevent you from turning your attention to the conversion of this country. If, therefore, your Majesty is not prepared to concede this point to them, it would only confirm their suspicions to approach them with an offer to re-enact the old alliances alone. Whilst humbly craving pardon for my boldness, I beg to say that, unless there be some reason which I do not understand for taking this step formally, I am of opinion that, if the Queen should ask for some further security for the verbal professions of friendship on behalf of your Majesty, in exchange for reciprocal kindness on her part, she should be offered a rectification of the old treaties, which she and her Ministers say that your Majesty has refused ever since she acceded to the throne, although they have frequently requested it. By this means I can come to an agreement with her, if it be necessary to take the step, although moving always with a leaden foot and the plumb-line in hand, and we shall be aided by the fact that Don Antonio has left the country not too well satisfied. I understand the following are the objects to be aimed at in the negotiation. To dissuade her from a close intimacy with the French, and at the same time to prevent her from making any extraordinary effort in supporting your Majesty's rebels, whilst, if possible, ascertaining what course she would adopt in the event of a firm mutual friendship being proposed to her on your Majesty's behalf. If this step is to be taken it will be well to send me fresh letters of credence, and that the Queen should think that the offer is made to her in consequence of the intelligence I have sent to your Majesty on Scotch affairs.—London, 20th November 1581.
171. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
Roger Austin, whom, as I reported, this Queen had sent to Scotland, has now returned. In accordance with his instructions, he negotiated secretly with James Stewart, who has influence and is a great Puritan, to discredit the duke of Lennox with the King in consequence of their fear that he will restore in Scotland the holy Catholic faith by the aid of foreigners. He, Stewart, was warned how important the matter was to him, as he and those who thought like him would certainly at once be deprived of life and property, and the only remedy for it would be to try to put D'Aubigny out of the way. He replied that up to the present neither he nor anyone else could complain of D'Aubigny's proceedings, as he had in all things conformed to the religion and laws of the country, but if he acted contrary to this he, Stewart, and all his friends would take up arms to prevent a change of religion or the introduction of foreigners, and he at once bespoke the Queen's aid in such case.
Austin also took letters from Leicester to D'Aubigny, full of compliments, which have been answered in the same way, with pledges on both sides to use every effort to maintain friendship between the two countries. Before this man came back the Queen sent two other persons on a similar errand, but the King gave orders that they were not to be allowed to cross the frontier, on the excuse that he was very busy with the parliament, but that they would be welcomed after the parliament was ended. This has caused these people some suspicion.
The King has given to this James (Stewart) the title of Earl of Arran, which belonged to the house of Hamilton, solely in consequence of his having been a great enemy of Morton, which ensured him the favour of the King and d'Aubigny. He formerly served Orange and the rebels in Holland as a captain of infantry. The Queen and Leicester take advantage of this, and of his being an obstinate heretic, to bind him to their interests.—London, 20th November 1581.
172. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
On the 2nd instant I sent a letter advising the details of Don Antonio's departure, and since then the only matter occupying attention here is that of France. It is true that a Portuguese aceompanied Alençon to prompt him to persuade the Queen to, help him according to agreement, but I cannot hear that anything has yet been discussed in the matter, nor that any decision has been adopted with regard to the granting of letters of marque by the man authorised by Don Antonio to do so. In the meanwhile he is looking after the realisation of some merchandise brought from Terceira, which had been stolen from your Majesty's subjects on its way from Santo Domingo.
I have used every effort with the Councillors to get them to order the warehousing of this merchandise, as the English themselves confess that it was stolen from Spaniards, to whom of right it should be surrendered. I am urging that it is not desirable for the Queen to acknowledge as fair prizes those things which are taken by your Majesty's rebellious subjects from their fellow subjects, or that she should allow such property to be suld in her country. I have supported this fully by pressing arguments in this case, as 20,000 crowns worth of sugar and ginger has been brought into the port of Lyme. I will duly advise your Majesty of the result of my efforts. Although they have promised me to issue orders for the retention of the goods, I am afraid that it will be only for the sake of appearances, as the property was brought in by a servant of Walsingham's, who is himself doubtless interested in it ; but at all events, my action will discredit Don Antonio's affair with the public, even if it do not prevent any part of the property from falling into his hands, although it is not much of it that the English would allow to slip through theirs.
The ship from Flanders, which I said that Don Antonio's vessels had captured, was ordered by the Queen to be stopped at the Isle of Wight by my request, and the merchandise delivered to its respective owners, who are Portuguese resident in Antwerp. They have sent powers here, and their attorneys not being satisfied with what I had done, themselves went for the purpose of rescuing the goods without advising me. I have been unable to help this, but they have thus prevented me from getting the prize formally surrendered as your Majesty's dignity demanded.
I hear that the ships of Don Antonio sailed from the Isle of Wight a week ago, leaving only one to guard the prize I have mentioned. They have not revictualled, and there are no signs that they were undertaking a long voyage, unless indeed they mean to victual in France and join there with the ships which are being fitted out for him in that country.
A small ship arrived lately at Lyme, which had been sent by Drake to the island of Terceira. Captain William Thomas, who commands the Englishmen there, sends the report of which I now enclose translation. The two ships I mentioned previously have been for the last three days only awaiting fair weather to sail for Terceira with munitions which they have already on board.
I am informed that Don Antonio has written to Walsingham, saying that the king of France had received him very well and had granted him a regular pension for his maintenance, but that he (the king of France) had told him verbally that he did not wish him to stay in France under the name of king of Portugal, in order not to prejudice his mother's claim. (fn. 4) He does not make clear in his letters whether the King is giving any specific help in his enterprise.—London, 20th November 1581.
24 Nov. 173. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
I wrote in triplicate on the 20th, and on the following day Alençon and all his company displayed, not discontent alone, but entire disillusionment as to the marriage taking place. On the 22nd however, at eleven in the morning, the Queen and Alençon were walking together in a gallery, Leicester and Walsingham being present, when the French ambassador entered and said that he wished to write to his master, from whom he had received orders to hear from the Queen's own lips her intention with regard to marrying his brother. She replied, "You may write this to the King : that the duke of Alençon shall be my husband," and at the same moment she turned to Alençon and kissed him on the mouth, drawing a ring from her own hand and giving it to him as a pledge. Alençon gave her a ring of his in return, and shortly afterwards the Queen summoned the ladies and gentlemen from the presence chamber to the gallery, repeating to them in a loud voice, in Alençon's presence, what she had previously said. (fn. 5) Alençon and the French are all extremely overjoyed at this, and Alençon at once sent a gentleman to his brother with the news, whilst Marchaumont himself made ready to go.
The Queen sent to give an account of what had passed to the Treasurer who was in bed with the gout. When he received the message, two lords who were with him heard him reply, "Blessed be the Lord that this business has at last reached a point where the Queen on her part has done all she can : it is for the country now alone to carry it out." From this it appears that the display she has made is after all only artful and conditional, because these lords are not experienced persons to whom Cecil would say such a thing without calculation. The news has now assumed such proportions that people in London consider the marriage as good as accomplished, and the French are of the same opinion. It is said that Parliament will be held on the 6th proximo, and the conditions will therein be approved, after which the marriage will take place publicly.
Notwithstanding all this, I cannot avoid saying that, according to my poor understanding, I am unable to look upon the matter as by any means concluded. I am moved to this view by the following reasons, which I think are of some force. By the way the Queen has conducted the negotiations for the last three years, during which, if she had really desired to marry, she would not have wasted time as she has done, nor would she have excited herself so earnestly to prevent his, Alençon's, second visit hither. If, moreover, she had even now desired the marriage, there was nothing to have prevented her from taking the course she now has taken the same night as he arrived. Seeing there was no way of preventing his coming without giving him offence, and that since his arrival he was pressing her every day more urgently for a reply, without which he declared he would not leave the country, she rather prefers to let it appear that the failure of the negotiations is owing to the country and not to herself, as it is important for her to keep him attached to her, in order to counterbalance his brother, and prevent anything being arranged to her prejudice. By personally pledging herself in this way, she binds him to her, whilst at the same time causing a quarrel between Alençon and his brother, in consequence of the latter having refused the terms demanded by the English in exchange for the marriage, by which means the Queen will keep Alençon on her side.
During the many pros and cons which have passed in the business, the Queen has understood that the king of France would not agree to certain articles proposed to him with regard to breaking with your Majesty ; and in order to conduct this business in the way she desires, she has instructed Cobham, since Alençon's arrival here, to again broach the subject to the king of France. He will no doubt have replied resolutely, and the ambassador will at once have informed the Queen, this doubtless being the secret despatch she received on the 21st, and this will have enabled her to make the display which she has done, the only eftect of which, moreover, is to pledge herself personally to words and promises which she had already made to Alençon. In addition to this, Leicester's confidants assert, with more persistence than ever, that the marriage will not take place, from which it may be inferred that the giving of the ring by the Queen to Alençon in the presence of Leicester and Walsingham, but without the knowledge of the most ardent advocates of the marriage, is only an artifice to draw Alençon on, and make him believe that the men who were most opposed to it are now openly in its favour. This is the present state of affairs. The clauses they demand from the king of France amount practically to a rupture with your Majesty, and I am trying my best to obtain a copy of them ; in the meanwhile, however, I send this by special messenger to Paris to be forwarded from there in the same way by Juan Bautista de Tassis.
I have letters from the queen of Scotland dated the 6th, and from what she tells me, I am now fully confirmed in my suspicions, as she is extremely well informed as to what passes in this Court. She says that she was expecting Beal, the decision about sending whom to her was taken on the 2nd ; and she also knew of Alençon's coming, assuring me that the real object was rather a league against your Majesty than marriage. She also understood that this Queen was annoyed at her associating her son with her in her rights, and at the way in which things were going in Scotland, which she, the queen of Scots, was determined to forward by every possible means, stopping at nothing, unless it appeared prejudicial to your Majesty. From the way in which she speaks of it, it is clear that the matter has been under discussion for a long time, and that she has not entered into it without an assurance of help from France. If this be the case, the queen of England cannot be so secure in that quarter as she thought, because, notwithstanding Alençon's presence here, the queen of Scotland goes on her way unswervingly.
The reason why the king (of Scots) ordered this Queen's envoys to remain on the Border, was because he understood that they were coming to ask him not to confiscate the earl of Angus' property. He is a nephew of Morton's, and the King wanted to get the matter done before the envoys arrived.
Don Antonio's seven ships, namely, three of his own and four pi rales in his pay, returned on the 10th to the Isle of Wight, almost without victuals, and Don Antonio has sent fresh orders to Knollys to go to France and leave the ships in the charge of another man, but he has refused to do this. There are only four hundred men in all now with the ships, poor hungry fellows, and ill friends with the few Portuguese who were with them as officers. They were talking of sending two ships, of 100 and 80 tons, to Terceira, with the object of capturing some ships to provide them with food for maintenance. Certain captains have been approached bere by the Council about raising troops to send to Terceira, but the number has not yet been decided.
The munitions which I mentioned in my former letters as being sent in the 80 ton ship from Lyme to Terceira, are 20 pieces of ordnance of cast iron, 15 quintals (fn. 6) each, the calibre of which will be six or eight pounds, and 24 barrels of powder. They are saying that if a number of ships were suddenly to leave England and France in Don Antonio's interest, they miglit capture the island of St. Michael's where they understand that your Majesty has no troops in garrison. This would make the submission of the rest of the islands the more difficult,—London, 24th November 1581.


  • 1. The above postscript is written in obedience to a long autograph note of the King's on the draft of the following letter, complaining that the draft in question is not sufficiently explicit on the point, and directing the postscript to be written in the above form.
  • 2. The King has run his pen through the word "merchant" in the draft, and has added the following marginal note :—"I am not aware that he is a merchant, but I know that he managed Portuguese affairs in London, and was very well affected towards my interests, which probably has got him into trouble there. Zayas will be able to give you full particulars about him. It is only just that he should be helped, and you had better write to Don Bernardino to that effect. I do not therefore sign this letter. He ought to be helped also here (i.e. in Portugal), for I believe he has served well and suffered much." The above letter was therefore not sent, but another written in the tone of the King's note much more favourable to Fogaza. This man's letters of advice and a full account of him will be found in Vol. 2 of this Calendar.
  • 3. Note in the King's hand :—"This is unintelligible." The passage, however, is made clear by the introduction of a stop.
  • 4. Catharine de Medici, for form's sake, was a claimant to the throne of Portugal, as the descendant of the King Alfonso III., by an alleged first and only legitimate marriage with Matilda Countess of Bologna. All the other claimants therefore, and all the sovereigns of Portugal since the time of Alfonso III., were alleged to have descended from a second and bigamous marriage of the King with his Queen Beatrix.
  • 5. This scene is also described in the "Memoires du Duc de Nevers," and by Camden.
  • 6. A quintal is a hundred pounds avoirdupois.