Simancas: December 1581, 16-31

Pages 238-254

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

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December 1581, 16-31

17 Dec. 182. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
On both occasions when he came to this country Antonio Fogaza has helped me in your Majesty's interests as I reported years ago. They captured him here on an occasion when he was being sent by Antonio de Castillo in the time of the Governors in Portugal, he bearing a passport from this Queen, which had been obtained by Antonio de Castillo for him. As he avoided the ordinary road for his embarkation, the officers at the port suspected him, and detained him, examining the letters which he carried. With them they found minutes of letters which for many years past he had written to your Majesty's Ministers and to Portugal, (fn. 1) in consequence of which they brought him to London and put him in the Tower, immediately returning to Antonio de Castillo the packet which he carried from him ; and although they very carefully sought for some letter of mine, they found none, as I did not even know of his departure.
He has been in the Tower for nearly two years, where they put him under torture at first two or three times, to make him declare with whom he was in communication. He accused no one, however, and as he is very old I imagine the Queen would release him. I have avoided mentioning the matter hitherto, because at the time of his arrest he was not a subject of your Majesty, and I was sure, moreover, that the moment I spoke about it they would want me to pay the expense of his keep in the Tower, which amounts to 400 crowns, as they did in the case of Antonio de Guaras ; as well as some money that he owes to other persons, who have lent it him on his representation that he was serving your Majesty here, and needed it for his maintenance, and to send despatches. He told me that he had sent his account many times to Secretary Zayas ; and I understand that these debts, besides the expenses in the Tower, reach 1,200 crowns. His services have been such as to deserve that your Majesty should order him to be given money to pay this, and I humbly beg you to give him this charity, in order that he may leave this country, and die at home as a good Catholic. Antonio de Castillo and I, on the occasion of his taking leave of the Queen, will beg for this man's release.—London, 17th December 1581.
183. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
Since my last I learn that the three Queen's ships which were being fitted out are to carry Alençon across, his departure having been decided upon after the surrender of Tournai, in the fear that other towns might follow suit ; and he is therefore to go to Dunkirk in these ships to encourage the rebel States, and accept their oath of allegiance, as promised. He is to try, by any means, to get possession of the country and to introduce Frenchmen therein. I even fear that he may go to Flushing, for which reason I have had heretics and Flemings here secretly warned to write to that effect to their compatriots there and at Antwerp. I also send a special despatch reporting everything to the prince of Parma.
The Queen adopted this resolution on the 14th, and ordered the Lord Chancellor to put it in writing under the Greal Seal ; whilst with a profusion of tears and sighs, she was begging Alençon not to go ; and if he did so, to assure her that he would soon come back again. They tell me that he replied that, if she would give him her unconditional promise to marry him, he would come back, but not otherwise. She replied to this, that it was not at present possible for her to give such a promise. I suspect that he has seized this opportunity for leaving here, and that both the Queen's tears and his tender regrets are equally fictitious and feigned ; the object being that he should not delay his departure, he having refused to discuss any other subject unless the marriage was settled first. The result of it is that he is leaving without either money or an alliance.
The Admiral has left for Dover to convey Alençon across, and I am told that the Queen will accompany him as far as Cobham House at Gravesend, if she do not go as far as Dover. Notwithstanding all this, the French are dissatisfied.
The French ambassador has sent to tell me that the marriage would not be good either for the Queen or Alençon, which he did not declare before. I will report what happens ; at present Alençon's departure is arranged within the next two days.
The Queen was asked whether she would give a passport for the duke of Guise to go through England to Scotland. She replied that, if he did not take more than 40 horsemen with him, he could come. She had a hasty post from Berwick last night, saying that Guise had come by sea. They believe this, but it is very improbable, and some other Frenchman doubtless will have arrived whom they have christened with the name of the man they fear the most in that direction.
Dr. Allen writes to me from Rheims that, although he is giving an account of the Scotch affairs to his Holiness, it will be very advisable that I should do the same, so that greater pressure may be placed upon him to act in the matter, and order the General of the Jesuits to appoint fitting persons for the task. I have written to the abbot Briceño, advising him of everything, so that he may, in conformity with your Majesty's instructions, give an account of what may be advisable.—London, 17th December 1581.
18 Dec.
Paris Archives, K. 1447. 106.
184. The King to Bernardino De Mendoza.
Letters of 29th October, 2nd, 7th, and 11th November received. Many thanks for important intelligence contained therein about matters still pending, results of which we hope to learn in your next letters. They write from France, positively asserting that Alençon's marriage with the Queen will take place ; but however much they may affirm it, I am loath to believe it, in the absence of a special courier from you with the news, seeing the great difference of opinion you report on the subject. If it has taken place I hope you will have sent me a full report of the conditions imposed by the English, both as regards religion and the government, and also whether the King of France has intervened, and all else you can learn.
Your action with the Queen and Councillors with the view of your staying there was wise, as also was that directed against the Queen's allowing her subjects to accept letters of marque from Don Antonio against mine. You are doing well also in keeping alive the fears of the merchants of injury to themselves if Drake's plunder be not restored. Keep on this course, as it may cause them to insist upon the Queen and Councillors making amends.
I note what the queen of Scotland writes to you, saying that she has associated her son's name with her own in the government of the country, and your reply thereto. Continue to assure her of my goodwill towards her and her son, and thus keep her well disposed towards my interest, and press upon her the great desirability of her son's submitting to the Catholic Church, in order that God may favour him and we all may be better able to help him.
Although of itself this association with her son does not appear to be objectionable, yet as it has been put forward by the French, it must be considered whether they have not some secret object of their own. You will investigate and carefully consider what this may be.
The step you took with Cecil in connection with this matter, for the purpose of arousing the suspicions of the Queen and Council against the French, was not bad, as Alençon was there at the time and the marriage negotiations so warm, and it might serve to cool them somewhat, which we were otherwise powerless to do. For this purpose it was useful, but as soon as the reason has disappeared it would be highly inconvenient for the queen of Scotland to learn that she was being embarrassed by any action of yours, and I doubt not you will have taken care to foresee and remove this cause of complaint by not repeating the step further than it may be needful to do.
You did well in writing to the queen (of Scotland) yourself about it and satisfying her.
Your remarks about Aldegonde's assertion respecting the cipher used in my despatches, and your suggestions for greater secrecy, are noted with approval. Your proposal that a special cipher should be given to each minister who left here has been adopted for some time past, and in this special cipher the minister writes to me alone, the general cipher being used for correspondence of one minister with another. As you say, truly, you in your present position need a private cipher more than any other minister, and a new one shall be sent to you.
If when the summer approaches, or as a consequence of Alençon's visit, they should begin to fit out more ships to help Don Antonio, or for any other purpose prejudicial to me, you will use the utmost vigilance in reporting it, so that, if possible, we may get the news in time to take the necessary counter-measures, which we can do if we know where the blow is to fall ; as I have ordered fleets to be made ready to go wherever they may be required.—Lisbon, 18th December 1581.
18 Dec.
Paris Archives, K. 1447. 110.
185. The King to Bernardino De Mendoza.
Your letters of 20th October received. I thank you for giving me so full an account of your audience with the Queen at Richmond. Your remark that it will be advisable for you to leave, and that in order not to lose touch of affairs there, a person should be sent under the pretext of Drake's robbery, with powers and instructions to act in that matter, has been favourably regarded, and we will be on the look-out for a fitting person to send, when we shall have received your report as to the effect produced by the last letter from me which you say you gave to the Queen. No final decision can be taken until we know what orders she has given to Drake, whom, it would appear, she had summoned in consequence of that letter, notwithstanding the violence of your interview with her. Until we are able to decide what is to be done, we urge you to exert your usual dexterity to keep your footing there, with due dignity and authority. During this time you will continue to aid and encourage the Catholics who are endeavouring to open up an understanding in Scotland. I am glad the priest who went thither got such a good reception, and is so hopeful of being able successfully to preach our holy faith. I approve of all you have done in this respect with Fathers Persons and Jasper, and I have ordered a credit of 2,000 crowns to be sent to you, to provide for those who go thither, as they may need it. You will constantly keep me informed of what I can do to help them, in the assurance that I will do it, as you may inform them.
In order the better to forward so holy a work, you will consider whether it will be advisable to put yourself into communication with the queen of Scotland on the subject and seek her aid in it, as she desires so much to see her son converted. Perhaps, on the other hand, this course would make the matter prematurely known. You will act as you think best, with care and vigilance. The news you send about Alençon, Don Antonio, and armaments in England, and the coast of Normandy are useful, and should be sent frequently and in full detail. Let me know also if you learn anything more about the timber the English have contracted to take to Barbary for the building of galleys ; giving me particulars of the terms of the contract, the parties concerned, the ports they are going to, and when they are to sail.—Lisbon, 18th December 1581.
25 Dec. 186. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
On the 19th and 20th the barges were ready for Alençon's departure ; some of the Frenchmen and the baggage having already started. The supper for the Queen and him was all prepared at Cobham, when a strong north-east gale sprang up, and has been blowing ever since. This being against the crossing, he has been delayed, and in the meanwhile letters came to him from France, about which he has conferred with the Queen, who had been anxious to expedite his departure in view of Flemish affairs. Although she displayed grief publicly at his departure, I understand that in her own chamber she danced for very joy at getting rid of him, as she desired of all things to get him away from here. Whilst he was being detained by contrary weather he told the Queen that he could not help feeling hurt that she had been so ready to let him go, knowing as she must how much he was attached to her ; but he could see by this how luke-warm was her love for him, and that his presence tired her, since she was ready to send him away rather in public disgrace than private satisfaction. The Queen with a hundred thousand false words and oaths assured him of her affection for him, and said that she had only been brought to allow his departure in order to give him pleasure, and not for her own gratification, since his departure was unnecessarily hasty. Alençon replied to this, "No, no, Madam, you are mine, as I can prove by letters and words you have written to me ; confirmed by the gift of the ring, of which I have sent intelligence to the King my brother, my mother, and the Princes of France, all those who were present at our interviews being ready to bear testimony. If I cannot get you for my wife by fair means and affection I must do so by force, for I will not leave this country without you." The Queen was perturbed at these words, and replied that she had never written anything that she could not justify, and she did not care what interpretation people chose to put upon her letters as she knew her own intention better than anyone else could ; and as for the ring, it was only a pledge of perpetual friendship and of a conditional contract, dependent upon his brother the King acceding to her conditions, which she was quite sure he never would do. She protested, finally, that she was entirely free from any matrimonial engagements, and, on the contrary, was desirous of remaining in her present state, until she could at all events overcome her natural hatred to marriage ; but she assured him, notwithstanding this, that there was nothing that she desired more than that he should stay in this country as her brother and friend, for mutual good companionship, but not as her husband. Many words passed about this, the end of which was that after the holidays they would discuss what money should be given to him.
As the Queen saw this unexpected change in Alençon, and at the same time received news from the Ambassador Cobham that the king of France would not be sorry for his brother to be delayed here, she called the Lord Treasurer and repeated to him what had passed, directing him to endeavour, with the greatest discretion and moderation, to represent to Alençon how important his presence was in Flanders, and how evident was the danger that they (the States) would submit to your Majesty unless he were there to prevent it. Cecil, by this means, was to urge him to depart, whilst she undertook to feed him with hopes that he should take some money with him.
When the Queen had done this, she sent secretly for Simier, who apparently for a long time she has had in her interest, and has been entertaining here. (fn. 2) To him she complained greatly of the annoyance she felt at Alençon's pressing her so closely, saying that she could not get rid of him without danger, or entertain him further without inconvenience. Simier (fn. 3) advised her that if she was not willing to marry, she should stand firm in the conditions which she was demanding from the king of France, and that she should insist upon their being granted before the settlement of the marriage. The Queen repeated to him the conditions she had proposed, (which I have already written to your Majesty), and said that it was not to be imagined that the King would consent to declare war against your Majesty, unless she undertook to contribute to the cost. This would give her an excuse to publicly negotiate for a confirmation of her old alliance with the House of Burgundy, whereupon she doubted not that the King would break off the negotiations, and recall Alençon. Simier replied that she must not depend upon this, because the king of France well knew the evil inclination of his brother, his inconstancy in religion, and his readiness to encourage faction, and he might well grant her terms in order to get rid of his brother out of the country, and set him free to encourage sedition elsewhere rather than in France, and thus put a stop to the civil war which England had kept alive for so many years. The Queen replied, "Do not think that the King will grant these terms ; but even if he do, I shall find a road out of it. You may see how Alençon loves me by a very good thing I will tell you in strict secrecy. On the 22nd, he asked me at least to let him have some money to maintain the war in Flanders, which he said he had begun for my sake, and that I should thus recompense him for the affront of my refusing to marry him. As I found no other convenient way of getting rid of him, I offered him a considerable sum per month, the first payment of which I promised to assure at once. This has so much brightened him up that you would not know him, if you saw him, but as soon as he is across the sea, I will assure him that my Council will not agree to the arrangement, on the ground that my country cannot, without unduly weakening itself, contribute so large a sum and the people would not allow it." This was the more evident as it might be inferred that Alençon's object in getting so much treasure from England was to reduce the country to impotence (this being one of the reasons which were set forth in the Council when Alençon arrived) and that there was no better way for Alençon to attenuate the strength of England than to get money under cover of its being to the advantage of this country to maintain the war in the Netherlands. She said that money was the sinew of warfare, for it was certain, as the world went now, that no one need want soldiers who had money to pay for them. Cecil is of opinion, therefore, that if any money is given to Alençon it should be very little, and that the Queen should not divest herself of what she has. She dwelt at length with Simier on the point, and the colloquy ended with great merriment as they said that Alençon was a fine gallant to sell his lady for money.
I am informed that since the return of Beal from the queen of Scotland with his report of her good reception of him, the Queen discussed the matter with Alençon, complaining of the Guises, of whom Alençon used the most shameful and dishonourable language, so much so that the Queen showed him a letter she had written to his brother the King, complaining of them (the Guises) in the most vituperative and abusive words. Alençon wanted the Queen to moderate it somewhat, in order that the Guises might not think that he had incited her to write thus, but he did not dare to press the matter upon her, for fear that she might think that his own expressions were feigned. And so the letter was sent to the King.
Alençon has been pressing the Queen greatly to send Simier away, but she has excused herself by saying that it was not well to expel any one from the country, especially a stranger, who had come hither to justify himself with regard to his behaviour in the marriage negotiations, which she could testify he had managed better than anyone else. Alençon had thereupon sent to tell Simier that, if he considered himself still in his service, he must instantly leave England. Simier replied that, although he had been his servant, he was not so now, and that until he had given a good account of himself, and all the world had acknowledged that he was innocent of the charges made against him, he would not budge from the country ; whereupon Alençon became more angry than before, and again pressed the Queen to expel him.
The Treasurer continues his efforts to expedite Alençon's departure, and I understand that, as another reason for hastening him, they have represented how expensive it will be for him to stay here over New Year's Day, by reason of the presents he will have to give, according to the custom of the country. I cannot say, however, precisely, the day that he will leave, as it depends upon the instability of the Queen and Alençon ; nor can I assert whether his going to Flanders will be carried through, but it is quite evident that all Englishmen were greatly rejoiced at seeing him ready to go, and they brought the ships to the mouth of the river to take him over, almost dead against the wind.
Lord Harry Howard, the brother of the duke of Norfolk, I have known by repute for years past, by means of priests, as a good Catholic, who, since his reconciliation with the Church, has performed all his duties as such. He was therefore desirous of bringing about the marriage, as he believed, like many others, that it would result in their being allowed freedom for their faith. On hearing that the earl of Oxford (Hertford?) had accused him and Francis Arundel of submitting to the Roman Church, and that the Queen had ordered them both secretly to be arrested, they came to my house at midnight, although I had never spoken to them, and told me that they had been warned of their danger by a Councillor, a friend of Lord Harry's. They had been in close communication with the French ambassador, but they did not dare to trust him at this juncture, and feared that they would be taken to the Tower and their lives be sacrificed. They therefore came to me in their peril, and asked me to hide them and save their lives. As they were Catholics, I detained them without anyone in the house knowing of it, excepting one servant, until their friend the Councillor informed them that they would only be placed under arrest in a gentleman's house, whereupon they immediately showed themselves in public. In his gratitude for my kindness in sheltering him, Lord Harry has expressed to me most emphatically that all that he has is at your Majesty's service, thus showing his acknowledgment for the favour I did him, which is no small novelty for an Englishman to do. He has very good parts and understanding, and is friendly with the ladies of the privy chamber, who tell him exactly what passes indoors. He is extremely intimate also with Sussex, and as he is so pressing in his desire to serve your Majesty, I have thought fit to represent it to you.—London, 25th December 1581.
187. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
When the order I mentioned in former letters was sent to Don Antonio's ships by the Queen, nearly all the mariners and soldiers left them, glad of the opportunity, in consequence of the hunger by which they were pressed. The captains alone remained, as they wrote to the Council, in order not to abandon the ships until they knew who had to pay them the wages that were due. The Council sent a new order for all of the pirates bearing Don Antonio's letters of marque to enter port at once, under heavy penalties, and for the captains to put into port all the ships which Don Antonio had bought, on the sale of which the wages due should be paid to them out of the proceeds. I understand that when this second order arrived, two of Don Antonio's ships were at sea, and I do not know, therefore, how they will obey it ; but as the three have not sailed together, and have not taken fresh victuals, it is to be expected that they will only go to the mouth of the Channel to plunder. If they do not capture a ship with plenty of victuals on board, they must soon return to port. I have also had the pirates in his pay incited to claim their wages out of the proceeds of the sale of the ships, and I am told now that all the pirate ships have returned to the ports.
The Council met to consider the reply I sent, as advised on the 11th December, respecting the property brought from Terceira. Some of them were of opinion that it should not be deposited in the hands of Dr. Lopez, but should be entrusted to some Englishman ; but Leicester and Walsingham, who are interested in it, represented that the Queen had already given the order, and those who opposed it were consequently silenced. Although, to prevent anything from falling into the hands of Don Antonio, I have advocated the appropriation of this property at a very low price by the Queen's officers, to be used in her own household, in order to decrease the amount recoverable, Leicester and Walsingham have managed to get the embargo raised, so that Walsingham himself might the better get his finger into it. I understand Don Antonio will obtain very little indeed for his share, but, little as it may be, Lopez and a brother of his will keep it, on the ground that they have guaranteed certain sums for him on account of the purchase of ships. Although virtually we have succeeded in the main design, namely, to prevent Don Antonio from benefiting, I said that I would report to your Majesty the declaration which this carried with it, of the Queen's approbation of the war. I think of telling her this, as I am assured that she knows nothing about it, and that it is all a trick of the men I have mentioned. This will have the effect of bridling them somewhat for the future.
Francisco Antonio de Souza, Don Antonio's secretary, who came with the French consul in Lisbon, I understand brought the letter to prevail upon Alençon to intercede with the Queen to allow Don Antonio's ships to go to France. He has also conferred with merchants, who have some jewels of Don Antonio's pledged for 5,000l., to get them to send the jewels to Flanders in the Queen's ships that are going, insuring them, for which three per cent. will be paid, and undertaking that, on their arrival at Antwerp, the loan should be repaid to the person who delivered the jewels. They have refused the proposal, and I am told that Souza is about to go to Antwerp, having been closeted with Alençon lately for more than an hour.
Six hundred Englishmen have lately slipped over from Dover and Sandwich to Holland, with the intention of reinforcing the standards of Colonel Norris, who writes to the Queen that Verdugo was pressing them so closely in Friesland, that they must abandon that province and take refuge in Gueldres.
At the conclusion of the last Parliament in Scotland it was prorogued in order to settle some pending matters in a few days. Amongst these, was the renewal of the statute forbidding people to leave the kingdom without the King's license, or to exercise, out of the country, any other religion than the national one. If anyone returning from abroad was proved to have heard mass, he was condemned to loss of property for the first offence, and loss of life for the second. They have spread the news here in a different sense, saying that it only referred to people in Scotland, and also that d'Aubigny was in such disgrace with the King that he was trying to escape, which is a lie and contrary to all advices. When they proposed in Parliament to allow disputations respecting the Catholic religion, the King said that it was a matter that should be considered, but was not then to be discussed.
When the French commissioners came hither there arrived within a few days a Baron Gaspard de Schomberg who is a vassal of the duke of Guise, eldest son of his Lieutenant-General, and a brother-in-law of Gaspard Schomberg (?), a Colonel of German infantry, and a Marshal of the king of France. He usually associates with Frenchmen, but he sought an opportunity for an interview with me, saying that as he had come to see this country, and was a Catholic, having served the Emperor Maximilan in Poland, and was a devoted adherent of the House of Austria, he wished to know whether he could be of any service to your Majesty. I thanked him as I thought appropriate, and he afterwards fell ill, which kept him here until the duke of Alençon arrived, and the latter has been approaching him through Marchaumont, and Hans Schornau the Swiss captain of Alençon's guard, as to whether he would raise troops to serve in the Netherlands, in which case they would give him the same entertainment that the king of France gave to his brother-in-law. He replied that, until he had made up his mind as to whether he would serve a prince, he was not the man to enter into discussions as to the conditions under which he should serve. He had served King Charles, his brother, and brought troops to France, but he never thought under any prince to bear arms against the House of Austria, and above all, against your Majesty. He advised me of this, saying that I should no doubt hear of it through other channels, and as he was now about to leave for Germany, he asked me to write to the Archduke Ferdinand, who knew him, telling him how he had behaved here. He also said that if it was important to have the Electors of Saxony and Brandenburg on your Majesty's side, he had means of arranging it if your Majesty would deign to employ him in the matter, which he said your Majesty's minister in Germany would understand, and would say more about his abilities than he cared to do. I promised him the letter for the Archduke, which was conceived in general terms, but said that the other matters were not in my province. So far as I can judge, he is a manly soldier, and speaks many languages, very much more perfectly than Germans usually do.
It is said that Alençon has received from his brother in cash and bills here 80,000 crowns ; but the truth is that it is only the 20,000 of which I wrote, and which have been paid by merchants here. He has begun to buy some jewels of them, and three days ago a courier brought him some jewels from France to give as presents. All the money he had spent previously was that which St. Aldegonde brought him. He sent the Swiss captain Schornau to Germany a few days ago to raise troops.
The rebel States have sent to ask him to take measures to prevent the Frenchmen stationed between Bruges and Antwerp from committing such great disorder, as the country cannot endure them. They say that the Ghent people, as soon as Orange left, detained the States and Council, without allowing them to depart.—London 25th December 1581.
188. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
The Councillors usually resident at Court met to discuss what has passed between the Queen and Alençon, as related in another letter herewith. They resolved that they had given their opinion so often that they had nothing more to say about it. The Treasurer proposed that it would, under the circumstances, be advisable to seek the friendship of your Majesty ; tranquillising affairs in the Netherlands and confirming the alliance with your Majesty. The object of this was to sound the other councillors on the subject. The Lord Chancellor approved of the idea, as did also the Admiral and Sir James Crofts, the controller, all of whom agreed with Cecil, whilst Leicester, Hatton, Knollys, the treasurer of the Household, and Walsingham, were of a different opinion, and affirmed that nothing would suit them so well as to make a supreme effort to trouble and disturb you on all hands. Sussex only remarked that it was a subject for deep consideration, as looking at the circumstances, both here and in the Netherlands, your Majesty and your Councillors were not likely to accept a peace which was not both honourable and profitable to you ; and he thought therefore that the matter would be difficult of arrangement.
At the same sitting the Treasurer raised the question of the restitution of Drake's plunder, whereupon Leicester and Walsingham took up the matter with much resentment, and said that there was no reason to discuss that, but that the money should rather be employed underhand in making war upon your Majesty, than it should be thought for a moment that it could ever be restored. The Treasurer, the Chancellor, the Admiral, Sussex, and the Controller, replied that they thought that it must be restored, especially as it was the Queen's will that this should be done with what was in her possession, but that it might be so arranged that a time might be taken for paying it, security being given that at the expiry thereof it should be surrendered, which might be settled with me.
A Spaniard who has lived here for some time, a man of no particular ability, had occasion recently to see the Treasurer on a private matter, when Cecil took him aside, and, having asked after me, with some preamble said that, as he (i.e. the man) was a born Spaniard resident here for so many years, he was sure he desired that the two countries should be friendly ; he, Cecil, would like to hear his opinion as to how a firm friendship might be made, your Majesty retaining the Netherlands. He dwelt at great length upon this, and the man replied that these were matters which he did not understand, and he could say nothing about them, except that he had always found me desirous of bringing about kindly relations. Looking at the circumstances by the light of my poor understanding, I can only say on this point that the opinion of people here, great and small, is that the most desirable thing for them is to make sure of your Majesty, this also being the view of the most influential Councillors, as is proved by Cecil having broached the matter to so light and inconsiderable a man as the one I have mentioned. They are mainly moved to this by two reasons, one of which is the fear naturally aroused by affairs in Scotland, and the association of the King and his mother in the claims of the latter, which will enable her when she please to claim, not only the succession, but the possession of the English crown, for which reason the Queen desires to divide the Scots Catholics from the rest of their countrymen. Their number is large enough to cause anxiety now, without taking into account the possibility of the King, by God's mercy, becoming a Catholic, in which case his just claim, favoured by his Holiness and the Christian princes, would enable him to overthrow, not the Queen only, but, above all, those who are now paramount here. The other reason is that the Queen has gone so far in the matter of the marriage with Alençon (although they have all agreed from the first that she never had the slightest intention of marrying him) that, even though he may not resent his treatment at present, he undoubtedly would do so as soon as he married, which must be soon, as his brother has no children. Besides this the Queen is sending him away without any intention of fulfilling her promises to him about the Netherlands, and he will certainly be persuaded by all his advisers, for the sake of his interests in France, to retaliate upon England by means of affairs in Scotland. He will be moved to this both by his own interests and desire for vengeance.
In addition to these reasons, which are forcible enough, I plainly see that my action with the Treasurer about Scotland, and my usual spirited and firm treatment of the Queen and her Ministers, have had the effect of driving them to seek your Majesty directly they see themselves pressed by the French. I am, however, so suspicious of their falseness that, on the supposition that these approaches may be for the purpose of conciliating me in order that they may thereby be able to treat more favourably with Alençon and the French, to whom they may represent that, if they do not come to terms with them, I was still courting them, I am displaying more firmness towards them than ever. In pursuance of this I am showing no anxiety whatever about the Queen's intimacy with the French, as if I thought that the alliance with them might even be advantageous to your Majesty. By this means I have succeeded in making Alençon press the Queen more closely, and have increased her fear of your Majesty, as she is almost certain that when he leaves here she cannot avoid a quarrel with the French. They will therefore be obliged to come in search of your Majesty, and we shall be able to deal with them as your Majesty desires. It has also had the effect of preventing their insolence from reaching the clouds, as it would have done if they had seen me so much as wink at them. I told the man who brought the message from the Treasurer, when he suggested that I should tell him by what means the Queen might be able to assure herself of your Majesty, that it was for her to do that by removing all reasons which made her apprehensive of your Majesty's power. I thus opened the door to them.
Should they approach me on the question of the restoration of Drake's plunder, I will not refuse if they offer to return that which is in the Queen's possession, but at the same time I shall not omit to demand the rest, and this in such a way as shall force her to deliver what she holds with greater promptitude. I will give instant advice to your Majesty, but as all these Ministers are somewhat inharmonious with the French, and they with them, I think that it will be best for me not to see the Queen until I understand which is the best course to pursue.—London, 25th December 1581.
29 Dec. 189. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
As I was despatching the three accompanying letters, I heard that a reply had been received from the king of France, and I consequently delayed them until I learnt the purport of it. The Queen displays every day further signs of her never having intended to marry Alençon, and in conversation with the Treasurer, on the night of the 25th, she told him that, even if it would make her empress of all the world, she would not marry Alençon. The Treasurer on the following day therefore urged upon Alençon that on no account should he miss this opportunity of going to the Netherlands, and rescuing them from the hands of your Majesty. Alençon replied that he thought the Treasurer's remark was prompted more by a desire to please the Queen by getting rid of him than by any wish for his, Alençon's, aggrandisement. He said that on account of England he had taken upon himself the defence of the Flemish rebels, in the hope of marrying the Queen, but if the latter result were not to be attained, he would go no further with the war, and would meddle no more with the Netherlands. He would by every means in his power complain to all Christian princes of the injury they (the English) had done him, and doubted not that the King, his brother, would resent it.
When the Queen heard this she intimated to Alençon how impossible it was for her to control the matter of the marriage, and begged him to accept her as a friend and sister, without thinking of her as a wife. Alençon was much offended at this, after having undergone so much, both publicly and privately, for her sake, and having entirely lost the attachment of the Catholics, in consequence of his fervent pursuit of the marriage, imperilling his safety and running so much risk as he had, and said that he would rather lose his life now than leave here without marrying her. The Queen asked him whether he meant to threaten a poor old woman in her own country, and whether this was the result of all his protestations of love for her ; and added that if she did not think that all these things were not rather inspired by the force of his love, rather than by his reason, she would surely think he was crazy, and he had better take care not to lose the best friends he had by such words as these. Alençon replied, "No, no, Madam," and assured her that, if she doubted his love for her and thought that his words were meant to threaten her, she understood them ill, for he swore that rather would he tear himself to bits with his own hands than lose the hope of marrying her, and thus become the derision of the whole world. He thereupon burst into tears, and the Queen gave him a handkerchief to dry them, consoling him with words more tender even than the occasion demanded.
She afterwards related what had passed to Sussex, and told him that she would rather be able to dismiss Alençon in a good humour than possess another crown. The day before yesterday she complained also to Sussex that Alençon had written to his brother within three days of her having given him the ring, telling him that he was affianced, with a pledge and keepsake, as much as he, the King, was to his wife the Queen. Sussex said it was incredible that he could have written such a thing as that, whereupon she said that the king of France had actually repeated the formal words to her ambassador, Cobham, and if Alençon had known her intention, even for his own reputation's sake, he would not have written such a thing, as the promise was a conditional one on both sides, first depending upon the ratification of the conditions by the king of France, which conditions she was obliged to demand for the sake of herself and her realm ; and, secondly, dependent upon her ability to bring herself to marry, which was so repugnant to her, her sole object being the benefit of her country. She told him that the conditions had therefore not been complied with on either side, inasmuch as, for her part, she hated the idea of marriage every day more, for reasons which she would not divulge to a twin soul, if she had one, much less to a living creature, whereas on the side of the king of France she directed attention to a letter written by the King's own hand, saying, in substance, with regard to the condition imposed by her, namely, that the war should be sustained in the Netherlands without any help from England, that he, the King, remained of the same opinion as when he wrote through Secretary Pinart, namely, that he would not make any fresh alliance with England before the marriage ; saying that she must marry Alençon first, and might then ask for fresh conditions, in accordance with their new relationship. She would, he said, thus by the marriage gain with the King as much as she would with Alençon, her husband ; and in addition to this the King stated reasons why she should contribute a half of the expenses of the Flemish war, instead of throwing on to his shoulders the whole burden, with the enmity of so great a prince as your Majesty ; besides which, even his friendship for England made him unwilling to dissipate his strength and money in a similar business, which, moreover, was England's affair. When Sussex had read the letter, the Queen called him to witness that the marriage was now impossible for her, and "for the future," she said, swearing to God, which she very frequently does, "What living man will dare to throw the blame on me, seeing that they wanted to bind me with a conditional contract?" It is clear from this that she gave the ring with the object which I mentioned to your Majesty, of making the conditions an excuse for arousing Alençon's resentment against his brother, and so to set them by the ears in this way. Sussex approved of the Queen's opinion, and she gave him many thanks, telling him to do his best to send Alençon away in a good humour, for it was quite impossible for her to marry him.
Lord Harry assures me that he is told by trustworthy people that, during the conversations between the Queen and Alençon, she pointed out to him how difficult it would be for them to live together if he were of a different religion to her, whereupon Alençon assured her, with an oath, that he would abandon his religion for the sake of her love ; which would be difficult to believe if the French themselves did not say that Alençon had won the four best dukedoms in France by having taken the side of the Huguenots against his brother, and to be king of England would be a greater prize still. (fn. 4) He hears mass every day, and although he eats fish on Fridays and Saturdays, on the eve of St. Thomas, which was a fast day and a vigil, he publicly supped on meat. The Queen has hitherto refused to give him a final reply with regard to the marriage, but she now desires to do so with a decided negative, which he is evading. Alençon's most intimate friends say that he has greatly cooled lately in the idea of going to the Netherlands, so much so that they assert that he would prefer rather to tarry here than go thither or to France, as, in addition to the suspicions he has of his brother, he has not a penny to spend, having, as the French themselves confess, pawned the revenues of his dukedoms for the next three years.
The Treasurer recently told the earl of Northumberland that he would never concur in a sum of money being given to Alençon, unless it was as the Queen's husband, and the rest of the Councillors are of the same opinion. The Queen herself told this to a person, and I suspect that her withdrawal of the promise to give him the money was caused by the representations made to her and the fear that, if she gave him the money, these people would be against her. I do not know when Alençon will leave.
The Swiss captain who I wrote to your Majesty that Alençon had sent to Germany is not called Hans Schornau, but Joshua Caber. They gave him three hundred crowns here, and an order for twelve hundred more in Paris, with which to go to Switzerland and raise 6,000 foot, for which money and commissions would be sent him, although his friends say that he had little hopes of doing this. Alençon had also decided that Hans Schornau, who is a German, and a lieutenant here of Count Charles Mansfeldt, who was with Ludovic in the Friesland rout, should raise 3,000 horse, to be commanded by the Count. Orange has sent to say, however, that they had better only raise 1,500, and he would raise the other 1,500, whilst there should only be 3,000 Swiss footmen. He intimated to Alençon that it would be better not to have all the forces together, but that Alençon should have one body and he, Orange, the other, so as to divide your Majesty's armies, under which pretext Orange will always be stronger than Alençon. Notwithstanding this, Alençon has ordered Hans Schornau not to raise more than 2,000 horse, but has again been told that only 1,500 should be raised. Hans will leave directly, and will take bills on Frankfort, in order to pay ten crowns earnest per horse, fifteen thousand crowns in all.—London, 29th December 1581.
31 Dec.
Paris Archives, K. 1447. 83.
190. The King to Bernardino De Mendoza.
Four letters from you of 20th November, and one of the 24th, have been received, and I am anxious to get your next letter to learn how the marriage with Alençon has ended. From what you say, it did not appear so entirely settled as they declared in Paris that it was. The Parliament again may raise difficulties, although in other respects the matter was forward enough, and you did well to send the report you did.
The step you were instructed to take on the 8th October with the Queen had for its object, as you were informed, to check the negotiations they were so warmly carrying on with France for an alliance, for which purpose Walsingham was in Paris. As the affair fell through of itself and has not been renewed, and Alençon has gone to England with the idea of marriage, our reason for the step disappeared, and you did well to defer it, as at that time it might have had an opposite effect. By your next letters we shall learn the position of affairs, and whether it will be advisable to send you another letter of credence of fresher date. If any desire is shown, it will be, as you say, amply sufficient to ratify already existing treaties, but on no account anything further.
I was very glad to see the confidence with which the queen of Scotland writes to you, and that affairs in that country were assuming a better form. You will do your best to gain and keep her sympathy, and will act in all Scotch matters in accordance with previous instructions.
The steps you took to recover the merchandise taken by Don Antonio's people were appropriate, and you will continue them, as also your efforts to obtain the restitution of Drake's plunder, which is much more important.—31st December 1581.


  • 1. These drafts are now in the Cotton MSS. at the British Museum, and are summarised in the second volume of the present Calendar.
  • 2. Simier, always in high favour with the Queen, had been driven from the service of Alençon by the deadly rivalry of Balagny (the natural son of Monluc, bishop of Valence), and Fervaques. He was really in England at the time for the purpose of keeping the king of France secretly informed of the inner working of the Queen's mind, which Simier's extraordinary familiarity with her enabled him to do. His ostensible reason for coming was to challenge Fervaques. The latter arranged with Leicester once again to attempt to have Simier murdered. He was attacked by assassins on the Exchange but escaped, and the Queen was so enraged with Leicester as to tell him that he was a murderous poltroon who was only fit to be hanged.
  • 3. In the King's hand :—"I either do not know, or do not recollect, who this is. He must be a Frenchman." The King's forgetfulness of Alençon's former favourite and Leicester's temporary rival perhaps arises from the fact that in this letter his name is mis-spelt Simcy.
  • 4. By the "Peace of Monsieur," as it was called, signed in 1576, Alençon had gained 100,000 livres and the duchies of Anjou, Berry, and Touraine.