Simancas: January 1582, 11-20

Pages 257-266

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

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January 1582, 11-20

14 Jan. 195. The Queen Of Scotland to Bernardino De Mendoza.
I received on the 20th ultimo your letters of the 13th, and subsequently those of 9th, 28th, and 29th November. I thank you affectionately for the trouble you take to keep me well informed of events, and for your good advice respecting my own affairs, both in the above-mentioned letters and those of October last, to which I have not hitherto had an opportunity of replying as I desired, except when I wrote on the 6th November. I will now deal summarily with the whole question, and my intentions thereon. First, as to the conversion of my son to the Catholic Church, which you ask me to forward in the name of your master the King in order to complete the harmonious understanding already commenced between us with regard to Scotch affairs, and to bind my son as closely as possible to the King, with a view to the conclusion of the treaty of alliance recently proposed, and a close friendship for the future. I have had my son approached by some of those who surround him with all possible care, as most of his principal councillors are so infected with this unhappy heresy that they give the poor child no opportunity of breathing any other atmosphere. For this reason I have hitherto only been able to obtain the assurance that he will listen to the ecclesiastics whom I have sent to him. If the archbishop of Glasgow goes to Scotland from France, as I have ordered him to do, I have directed him expressly to take with him some doctors of theology who may be worthy of such a task. They will omit no efforts to lay the foundation of a re-establishment of religion in that poor realm, now so corrupted, I have come to the conclusion, different from that which you mention, that it will be better to employ Scotsmen, as the English are not popular there, particularly amongst the common people, owing to the ancient hatred between the two countries. As they are foreigners, moreover, and do not understand the language, they could not do much good. With all my heart I pray to God, upon whom alone depends the perfection of the good work, to inspire my son and his principal councillors to recognise the truth of His faith, for the triumph of which I would willingly give all that this world can afford.
With regard to the negotiation put forward for the association of my son with myself in the crown of Scotland, respecting which I wrote to you in October, and to which I have mainly been influenced by the advice of the Pope, confirmed by that of all my best friends and servants, I have so complete a trust in you that I can say that my son in many letters has plainly assured me that there is nothing in the world concerning the State in which he will fail to obey me as a dutiful son. Whatever may be done with regard to the resignation of my position in Scotland, I protest that, in consideration of the goodwill towards us of the King your master, and even of your own responsiveness in his name, my greatest desire is to bind my son to him entirely by the abovementioned means. Up to the present, however, I have been unable to obtain a decided pronouncement from your master the King, or any plain declaration of his intention, and I therefore beg you very earnestly, in acceptance of your own offer, to pray the King to reply fully as to his wishes with regard to what I have written to him, so that I may know what to expect and not labour uselessly to bring things in Scotland to his devotion, as I have done for the last twelve years. If he has any desire to concern himself in the matter, I can assure you that there is no more prompt way of advancing it than by the granting of some gifts and pensions to some of the principal persons, as I have often been solicited to do, but have been unable, as you may judge, out of the little left to me of my dower in France, which has so many claims upon it. The greater part of them might be won over in this way, and I even have certain assurance that the duke of Lennox himself may be made instrumental in this, as he is only seeking his personal aggrandisement.
With regard to your question respecting your communications with Scotland, if you have people to undertake the carrying of your letters to the frontier I will find people who will take them from there and bring back the reply thither. You may safely address Lord Ogilvie, George Douglas, first usher of my son's chamber, brother to Lord Lochleven, or to the laird of Fernihurst, who is on the border.
I thank you for the warm interest you show in my affairs, and your continued stay in England on my account. I am deeply indebted to you for this, and again importune you privately still to defer your departure for some time longer ; even until some decision is arrived at regarding the marriage of this Queen with the duke of Alençon, respecting which, I can assure you, things are in such a confusion and feeling is so strong that some great change must result from it shortly, in view of which fact you will see how very necessary your presence will be to my interests.
With regards to Beal's visit and his negotiations with me, I will give you the principal points of his mission. His first object was to discover what was the real object of the granting of the style of King to my son, and how I intended to proceed in the matter ; secondly, to dissuade me from it on behalf of his mistress, who was infinitely offended, as he said, at the bad behaviour of my son towards her, wherefore she sought to induce me to join with her in settling Scotch affairs, and complained of my son and the duke of Lennox, his councillor, who, she said, was the principal perturber of the harmony between the two countries. She advocated the restoration of the Hamiltons and the earl of Angus, and the return of all those who were exiles for religion ; which, in effect, would cause the ruin of the country and of myself personally, and place Scotland, my son, and me under the Queen's yoke. In consideration of this proposal, he held out great hopes of my complete liberation, and, in the meanwhile, all gentle treatment, if I would promise not to agree to any marriage for my son except to the satisfaction of the Queen, who, Beal said, had been much displeased at certain matches proposed for him by some of her subjects. He pressed me very very earnestly to refer all affairs to the Queen, from whom he said, I had more to hope than from any foreign prince. He warned me to cease all secret understandings, both with the King your master and the king of France, as such understandings could only raise distrust of me here and in France, without bringing me any advantage. He dwelt particularly on the power of the King (of Spain), and said it was very necessary for all other Christian princes to keep their eyes on him, and that perhaps I myself would be the first to repent of it if I helped him in his designs against this country. He opened out considerably on this point, and, in conference with my Secretary, he told him plainly that the principal aim was to keep the King busy in certain islands of the Indies belonging to Portugal, and, if possible, to deprive him of a part of the Netherlands, as he could hardly hold both places ; and in any case, they could thus assure themselves against trouble or attack from him for a good half-dozen years, during which time he might die, and, his children being so young, they could not undertake anything of importance. Thus he made his account, as the saying is, without his host. My reply, in short, to all the aforegoing was to the effect that I could not decide with regard to the granting to my son the title of King, as I had been asked to do, without first knowing the Queen's views upon the subject, and I therefore desired permission to send a person who should fully inform her of my wishes, and to convince her that my desire was to please her in all things by following her advice in everything I negotiated in Scotland. I avoided all details, but said that with regard to the Queen's complaints of my son's conduct towards her I had not any information ; but I believed from what he told me that more than sufficient reason had been given to him for acting as he had done by the way he had been treated on this side.
With regard to his marriage, I had done nothing I said ; but when I was consulted on the matter I should have as much regard for the quiet and welfare of this country as for my own and would try to satisfy the Queen therein. I begged, however, that the Queen would let me know her own views as soon as possible, in order that I might, as nearly as possible, accede to them, as I desired to do on all occasions. I said that, as she desired, I had never had any plots with a foreign prince to the prejudice of the English crown, and that she had no reason for distrust or suspicion with regard to the maintenance of my ancient friendship with France, and, as for Spain, I had nothing whatever to do with it ; whilst from no quarter was I seeking support or assistance, unless indeed my enemies near her deprived me of her friendship and protection, and made it necessary for the preservation of myself and my son.
I will not trouble you with the details of what passed between us respecting my state and treatment here ; and, as to what the Lord Treasurer tried to make you believe, I may assure you that I have not said or done, and will never say or do, anything that may redound to the prejudice of the King (of Spain), for whose welfare I pray, &c.—14th January 1582.
17 Jan. 196. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
On the 10th I wrote that Lansac was expected, but it appears that the king of France would not send him, on the pretence that he was ill, the son of Secretary Pinart coming instead, with the ratification of all the articles which this Queen had requested of him, signed by himself, his mother, some of his Councillors, and the chiefs of the Huguenots. Simier's assurance to the Queen, which I related in another letter, to the effect that she must not base any hope upon the King's refusing to consent to her terms, as there was nothing he would not do in order to get rid of his brother from France, together with Cobham's assurance that the King would consent to her demands, he being extremely apprehensive of Alençon's return to France, made her very anxious about it, and she asked the Treasurer what would be the best means for her to escape from the position. He told her that the best way would be to ask for Calais to be surrendered as a security for the fulfilment of the conditions, the importance of which was so great, especially as a marriage contract was of such sort that it could not be undone when once it was effected, whereas the King might thereafter fail to fulfil his part of the bargain unless some valuable pledge were given. He said also that it would be well to write to France, arranging for another Huguenot rising. This was done at once, which is proved by the fact that they knew here of the prince of Condé's appearance in France. The Queen was delighted with the expedient, and said that she would not divulge it to any of her other Councillors, and particularly to Sussex, to whom she still held out hopes that the marriage should be effected as soon as the king of France's reply was received.
Pinart's son arrived on the night of the 11th, and I am told that when Alençon learnt how entirely his brother had met his wishes he wept with emotion, saying that this was a proof of how much he loved him, and how wrong had been the action of those who had tried to set him against him by falsehood and jealousy. He went to tell the Queen the news, as soon as he learnt that she was alone, thinking that now the only thing remaining was for her to say yes. She replied that she would decide within two days.
The next morning Alençon sent to the Treasurer and Sussex, by Marchaumont, an account of the letters he had received, asking them, now that the time for settling his business had arrived, that they should warmly aid the Queen in coming to a decision. Cecil replied that when the matter was discussed in Council he would frankly state his opinion as to the best course for the interests of the Queen and country, but that as the whole matter was in the Queen's hands he could take no step at present. Sussex displayed much annoyance in consequence of Alençon having become friendly with Leicester, and abandoned him, Sussex, on the advice of Marchaumont, notwithstanding his having done his best to please the Prince and become very unpopular in England in consequence. He said that, as after all this Alençon thought more of his new friend than his old ones, he could be of no more use in the matter. On receiving these replies Alençon pressed the Councillors, and afterwards the Queen herself, for a decision. They had an angry conversation, during which she said that the documents sent by the king of France should be considered in Council, which has not yet been done, but I do not believe that, even if they surrendered to her Calais, Boulogne, and Havre-de-Grace, she would marry, besides which the king of France can hardly grant her such a pledge as that.
From the news I send it might be inferred that I was credulous, having assured your Majesty so many times of the answers sent verbally and in writing by the king of France to the Queen, particularly on the 29th ultimo, to the effect that he remained of the same opinion as when Pinart was here, namely, that whether she married his brother or not she might be certain that he would not break with your Majesty. The articles now agreed to are diametrically opposite to this, and although Frenchmen are so volatile that their fickleness will surprise no one, I can confidently assure your Majesty that the king of France has not really pledged himself. His fear of his brother and his having seen through the Queen's game by means of Simier has caused him to hoist her with her own petard. I described her plan to your Majesty when the affair of the ring took place ; which was to ask for such terms that the King would have to refuse them, whereupon Alençon would be more at issue than ever with his brother, and therefore obliged to bend to her wishes. She laid the whole plot open to Simier, whom she had quite won over, letting him know that, no matter what the King conceded, she would never marry his brother. Simier undoubtedly conveyed this to the King, by whose secret connivance he was here, and thus he has been able to learn the whole particulars of the proceedings of his brother and the Queen, and the King has seen fit, in the face thereof, to concede the conditions. By this means he has assured and pledged his brother, and has opened his eyes to the Queen's artifice, without running any risk. All this is proved, amongst other things, by the fact that the king of France wrote to Simier a week ago that he intended to appoint him his ambassador here, instead of the present man, which Simier conveyed to Sussex, and asked him his opinion as to whether he should accept the appointment.
Alençon has shown extreme irritation at Simier's stay here, of which he was very suspicious. He not only pressed the Queen most earnestly to expel him, but a few days ago, whilst speaking of the matter, he pulled out his dagger and placed it to his breast, swearing a great oath that he would kill himself if the Queen did not turn Simier out of the country. She told him not to take so violent a course as that. To please him she would send him, Simier, away, although there was no reason for it until Simier's cause had been justified. The Queen thereupon had Simier summoned to take leave of her, for the purpose of carrying a letter from Alençon to the duke of Montpensier, who within a certain period would declare his, Simier's, justification in the name of Alençon ; and, when this was done, he was told that it should be held as a sufficient exculpation. The Queen wished that he should return here after this had been done, in order that she might make him fit amends for the discourtesy she now did him in sending him away at Alençon's request. Simier accepted the arrangement, indeed, he could not have done otherwise, and asked the Queen what she thought of doing for Alençon in recompense for the cost he had incurred here in gifts and otherwise. She replied that she had already done three things for him : first, she had sent him 30,000l. to hold Cambrai ; second, she had maintained him here for so long, whereby he had saved money for the Netherlands ; and third, she had not been the reason of his going thither. She said that she was sorry that she had gone so far in the matter of the marriage, but this was Simier's fault for not stopping the negotiations when he (Alençon?) had come here the first time, on which occasion, for his (Simier's) own ends, he did not wish him (Alençon) to leave until he had seen her again.
In the meanwhile, she said, he was under great obligations to me, as I had been very sorry for his disgrace, (fn. 1) which I had said I regretted the more, as I had heard it had been caused by his having had, some communication with your Majesty, which is a thing I never imagined. Simier replied that he would be glad to be in a position which would allow him to thank me without incurring suspicion. The reason why the Queen said this, is because she suspects that the king of France and Alençon are making offers to your Majesty and proposing terms for the pacification of the Netherlands, and she thought to learn something about it from Simier by this means.—London, 17th January 1582.
197. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
In my former letters I have related the steps I have taken to stop the sugar caravel from Terceira, the value of which is 20,000 crowns. I had the Bristol people warned how bad it was for them that the ships had sailed from, and arrived at, that port, with so valuable a plunder as this, seeing that they had great commerce with Spain. This caused them to write a letter to the Council, saying how hard they had tried to keep their port free from pirates, but that if, by orders of some of the Councillors, ships were fitted out there, it would be difficult for them to continue their trade with Portugal and your Majesty's other territories.
I also sent to ask audience of the Council to speak upon the matter, but I saw the delay Walsingham was causing in it, and could not get an audience appointed until the 15th, on which day I got a message that the Queen wished to see me at three, and that I might afterwards go to the Council. I suspected that the Queen had sent for me without my asking for an audience in order to make Alençon jealous, and, that no one should have reason for this by my dealing with her secretly, I took Antonio de Castillo with me to take leave of the Queen, and give her the letter from your Majesty. Alençon went to the Queen at the same hour as was appointed for me, and when we entered the Court they took us to the Council-room where the Treasurer, Sussex, Leicester, and Walsingham were. They told me that they had orders from the Queen to hear me, which, I said, was a very different message from that which had been sent to me that morning, and in consequence of which I had brought Don Antonio de Castillo with me. They said the messenger must have misunderstood, as they did not know that the Queen wished to speak to me. In the meanwhile two of the Queen's pensioners went running backward and forwards to the Queen's chamber with messages about it. I set forth the robberies which Don Antonio's ships now at the Isle of Wight had committed, and also the ships from Bristol, whither they had taken their prizes, and as this was greatly to your Majesty's prejudice, I could not avoid laying the matter before them, and pointing out the effects which might ensue therefrom. They said they were instructed by the Queen to give satisfaction to your Majesty's subjects, and asked me for a written statement of my complaints, which they would redress. I said that if they were as quick about the remedy as I would be in sending the statement, the owners of the property would have no reasons for complaint. I gave them a statement of the robberies on Spanish subjects for the last two years, amounting almost to 70,000 ducats, without counting what they have now brought from Terceira. I expect they will deal with this latter booty as they have with the rest, as I am told that the pirate Robert has been instructed to say that he is taking the ships to France, but he has been secretly directed by Walsingham to take them to an island where he can sell the property, namely 310 cases of sugar, for the benefit of Don Antonio, who, with the money, will again fit out his three ships, which the Queen will not allow to go to France but wishes to keep here manned by Englishmen, in order that Don Antonio may be partly dependent upon her.
In order that these prizes may appear to be legal they have adopted the device which will be seen by the two documents I enclose which were brought by these pirates. They are issued in the island of Terceira by virtue of the agreement made by Don Antonio, with regard to the plunder there. The dates upon these documents appear to be false, as the ships left on the 10th of December.
I understand that Don Antonio has again written to Alençon, saying that if he can persuade the Queen to help him with some money and ships, he will give your Majesty so much trouble that you will be unable to make any resistance in the Netherlands.
These ships which I wrote were fitting out for the Moluccas expect to leave at the beginning of February with six thousand pounds worth of cloths and other goods for trade. Although the merchants are sending their factors, as there are altogether four of these ships, it may be expected that they will plunder if they see a chance.—London, 17th January 1582.
198. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
Since my last the Queen has withdrawn the three ships which were to convoy Alençon, and they are now in port. I also understand that she is in secret treaty with St. Aldegonde, but not very willingly, for Alençon to go in person to the Netherlands ; judging that his forces and those of the rebels will be too weak to hold out against your Majesty's forces for very long, whilst it is not advisable for her to entrust him with the bulk of the English forces. A great inconvenience might result to her therefrom, namely, that Alençon, finding himself surrounded by insuperable difficulties might be led to negotiate an arrangement in all sincerity with your Majesty, by which he should retire from the war ; whilst the stay of Don Antonio in France and the suspicion that his, Alençon's, brother and mother, in order to prevent his overthrow, might declare war upon you, she fears would lead you to listen to such an arrangement. For this reason she thinks that it will be better for her, that Orange should be the sole chief in the war, and have control of the French troops who are there, in which case the Queen would have a hand in it, as he would do nothing without her consent. She could thus when she pleased sell the business to your Majesty, and this is the end of all the efforts of Leicester and Walsingham, who desire that Orange should remain all powerful there, as he has promised them that, if the Queen dies, he will help them by sea with ships and men to uphold the cause of the earl of Huntingdon, who is their candidate and a terrible heretic, opposed to the queen of Scotland, whom they doubt not your Majesty and the French will support in respect of her religion. In conformity with this, they have been trying to persuade the Queen to send aid to the Englishmen in Gueldres, who are suffering great need, but she has not yet consented to do so. She has caused her Ministers to declare that Alençon is under great obligations to her for having detained him here and prevented him from going over to the Netherlands, as the Ghent people would certainly have arrested him as they tried to arrest Orange. They make this announcement in terms which prove that they do not wish him to go thither in person.
Orange wrote a letter to Alençon from Brille, which arrived last night, saying, in a great many words, that all the princes of Germany would complain greatly at his not having kept his word at the term fixed by the States, and that they would be ruined if he did not go over at once. For this reason he (Orange) had not received M. de Biron, whom Alençon had sent to them with letters, but had rather decided to send persons to him to hear from his own lips if he was still thinking of them. These persons are now expected here. I will give your Majesty an account of what I hear when they arrive. The Queen and her Ministers are in great fear, as a captain of the English in Ghent has come over to tell her that people are openly talking there of submitting to your Majesty. She said to Simier, "Things are going badly in the Netherlands for Alençon, and worse still for me."
I am informed from Antwerp that the people of Ghent and Bruges had written to that town, saying that they would try to adopt some means of submitting to your Majesty, and suggested that Antwerp should join with them for that purpose. No answer was sent to them, but their letter was sent to Orange, who forwarded it with his to Alençon.
Hans Schornau has gone to Germany to raise the 1,500 horse, Alençon giving him 200 crowns towards his expenses, and a Commissioner will go in a few days with the bills for the money, although I am told that he is not very hopeful of getting the money to enable him to go so soon.—London, 17th January 1582.
199. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
Letters have been received dated 29th November from the priest who I wrote had gone to Scotland. He reports that the personages with whom he was dealing are daily more desirous that the clergymen they ask for should be sent. I understand that the priests are detained in France because there are not enough fitting men of the sort in that country to accompany Father Persons. None can be sent from here, as so many priests have been arrested, and unfortunately they have taken the wisest of them. They have suspended the execution of the ten priests I mentioned, not out of clemency, but for the purpose of inflicting greater cruelty upon them by means of the closeness of the dungeons in which they are kept.
A captain has come from Ireland to report to the Queen that a soldier of the company of Captain Zouche has killed John of Desmond brother of the earl of Desmond. When he was mortally wounded the English asked him if he was sorry for what he had done against the Queen, whereupon he said with his last words that his only sorrow was that he had not life granted to him to do a great deal more against her in defence of the Holy Catholic religion. His death has caused great rejoicing here, as they considered him a man of energy who ruled his brother and the insurgents. The captain is pressing the Queen, on behalf of the Viceroy, to send money and men to the island, but she has refused to do so, and says that they must get their resources from Ireland itself. She was told that as the war had caused great diminution of the revenues of the country not much could be got from there. She replied that, much or little, the Viceroy would have to put up with it. They say that he, the Viceroy, is dreadfully cruel in his treatment of the Irish, and especially of any that are suspected of being Catholics. The Queen has summoned the earl of Angus from the Border, and he is being made much of by Leicester and Hatton.— London, 17th January 1582.


  • 1. Simier's disgrace really arose from Leicester's intrigues, in revenge for his having disclosed to the Queen, the Earl's secret marriage with the widowed countess of Essex, and from the constant fights and quarrels that had occurred between Simier and Fervaques, and the other nobles who followed Alençon, and were concerned with Queen Margaret in opposing the marriage with Elizabeth.