Simancas: February 1582

Pages 280-299

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

This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. All rights reserved.


February 1582

2 Feb. 209. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
As I wrote on the 28th, Alençon was dallying with his departure as much as he could, but the Queen has adopted every human artifice to get him gone as speedily as possible to the Netherlands, judging that there was no other road by which she might so readily get rid of him, and I am sure that she managed to bribe most of Alençon's councillors and friends to help her in her object. (fn. 1) They only look after their own interests, and are willing enough to sell, not only their master's dignity, but also his personal safety ; and they therefore asked him, when they saw him so remiss about going to Flanders, what else he could do in France if he returned thither but live under the patronage of Valette and M. d'Arques his brother's mignons. They said, rather than suffer such an indignity as that, he had better go to Flanders, where he could not fail to be better off than in France, bad as it might be. These persuasions swayed him greatly, and counterbalanced Pinart's many arguments against his placing himself in the hands of rebels and heretics. I am told that the Queen-mother is greatly indignant that such a slight should be put upon her son as to hand him over thus defenceless to the rebels, and the French themselves are denouncing it ; Pinart's words to the Queen on the subject, which I wrote, having troubled her greatly. She therefore again pressed Alençon on the occasion of some fresh communications from the rebels being sent to him, and he at last left yesterday, accompanied by the Queen, who they say will go as far as Dover, but I am assured she will stop at Rochester.
I have not been able to discover yet whether they have given him the 60,000l. or a smaller sum, as the earl of Leicester is taking the money in one of the Queen's ships, and they have not trusted Alençon with a single real. The Queen says she will defray the expenses up to the time of his arrival and during the stay of Leicester, Howard, and Hunsdon and I am told that 20,000 ducats have been given to him in bills of exchange for the raising of the German cavalry, as well as a similar sum for the Swiss. The bills are so drawn that if the Queen changes her mind she can order them not to be paid at maturity.
The design of Alençon is to go to Antwerp, and there, with the aid the Queen promises him, see what the States can do. In accordance therewith he will arrange to continue the war, but, as I have explained, he has nothing to depend upon but the mere word the Queen has given him, her promises being already contradicted by some of her Ministers, who say that, even if she wishes to do so, she cannot give him money to sustain the war.
Diego Botello has published here that the king of France had given permission to Don Antonio to raise 6,000 foot and 500 horse in France, and had granted four ports where the property plundered under his letters of marque might be openly sold. He has also authorised him to coin money at Tours. When Walsingham was told this, he said they were not doing so much as this, but that the Queen-mother was helping him with a thousand French foot soldiers paid by herself.—London, 2nd February 1582.
After closing the above, I learnt that Don Antonio was expected on the 20th ultimo in the house of Colonel Schomberg, a German in the service of the king of France, whose marshal he is. The object is to request him and his friends to make known to the principal people in Germany the injustice with which your Majesty was treating him, in the same form as Orange adopted in his apology. (fn. 2) I am told also that a nephew of the same Colonel has offered to bring four standards of Germans to Don Antonio's service. —London, 2nd February 1582.
9 Feb. 210. Bernardino de Mendoza to the King.
On the 2nd I reported the departure of Alençon and the Queen from London. The Commissioners from Flanders went to Alençon the same day and made him a very long harangue, couched not only in disrespectful, but in insolent terms, with regard to expediting his going to the Netherlands. He repeated their expressions to the Queen, who immediately sent for them and addressed them thus : "You! shoemakers, carpenters, and heretics, how dare you speak in such terms to a man of royal blood like the duke of Alençon? I would have you know that when you approach him or me, you are in the presence of the two greatest princes in Christendom." She has done nothing but weep in public, and when she heard at Rochester that the soldiers of your Majesty were hastening to Antwerp, she begged Alençon not to go over, until she sent a special express to learn what the state of affairs was there. He replied that, in order that he might come back the quicker, he would not delay his departure, and all the journey was passed in gallantries like this. She even went so far as to assure Leicester and Walsingham that she would not live an hour longer, but for the hope of soon seeing Alençon again, as she was now determined to marry him in spite of all opposition. She has given him two months in which to return, and has made him a present of 25,000l., assuring him that she would help him as much as possible in the war. She says that, whoever dares to injure him so much as a finger, she will try to wound to the heart. She presses him to beg his brother for help. I have no news of his having embarked, as although on the 6th the horses were ready at Canterbury to take them to Dover, whither the Queen said that she would accompany him, the wind is contrary for the passage.
It is asserted that the journey has cost the Queen the loss of a diamond cross worth 20,000l. in a casket with two fine rings. Some people hint that this is an artifice of hers, and that she really has given the gems to Alençon. They are however making such efforts to discover them, that it would appear otherwise, and a suspicion exists that they have been pilfered by some of the principal ladies.
Hatton endeavoured, underhand, that Leicester should remain here, which was a plan hatched between them. The Queen was told this, and said that, if she was certain that Leicester had tried to manage this, she would not keep him as her Councillor or in his position at Court, as it would amount to a refusal to do a service to the person whom she loved best in the world. Hatton, thereupon, went and excused himself, saying that he alone was to blame, and that he only desired, in her own interests, to avoid the absence, for ever so short a time, of so good a Minister as Leicester.
As I have often reported, Walsingham has persistently adopted an infinity of fictions and tricks to persuade the Queen to break with your Majesty and help the rebels, and one day before Alençon left, he took her a letter which he said had been intercepted in Ireland, and had been sent to the insurgents by one of your Majesty's officers, telling them to keep in good heart and courage as, although they could not come to their help yet, they would soon do so, and make them masters of the island. When she read the letter she said that it was an invention, whereupon he, Walsingham, began to make protestation to the contrary, and the Queen then ordered that the man who had conveyed it from Ireland should be brought to her. Walsingham instructed a man for the purpose, the letter being in reality nothing but a forgery of his own, and after the Queen had spoken to the man, she told Walsingham that, even if the letter were genuine, your Majesty only said what you might do, but gave no time when you would do it. Walsingham told her she must not trust to that, as she would not have time to defend herself unless she was beforehand in her preparations. Walsingham's animus must have been evident to the Queen when he gave her the book containing Orange's apology, which they have printed here and now sell openly, although it bears the imprint of Delft in Holland. She told him that she would never believe it, as, according to that book, your Majesty had no right in the Netherlands, whereupon Walsingham retorted that he had only argued that your Majesty was not the legitimate sovereign of the Netherlands, which of right belonged to the French, but he had not been believed ; and he did not think, moreover, that a man like Orange would write lies, as he was only defending the word of God and was so religious a person. At this, a lady who was present at the conversation could stand it no longer, and told the Queen that he (Orange) was not such a saintly man as they made out, as he had a bastard son. Walsingham began to swear that he knew nothing about such a thing, although he, the son, had been here all the time with St. Aldegonde, and had dined in his house a hundred times.
The Queen has lately been pressing the rebel States to repay her 40,000l. which she has lent them at various times on their bills, given with the consent of the Councils. They promise that they will give her in payment a jewel which they have belonging to your Majesty, and which they kept back from those which were sent as pledges and are now in the Tower, the name of which jewel is the "Landsjewel," and which I certainly do not remember, although I saw all of them many times. They have sent from here two jewellers to value it and to bring a drawing, so that they may see whether it is worth the 40,000l. (fn. 3)
The Queen is informed that more than 800 of the Frenchmen who went to Flanders have died of sickness.
I understand that Pinart whilst on the road to go to France was as discontented as when he started from here.
Baron Gaspard Schomberg, of whom I wrote on the 25th of September, again fell ill and has been detained here. His brother-in-law in France has sent him a courier saying that there is an opportunity of employment for him in that country, and telling him to come over at once. He has informed me that he is going, and has asked for a letter for Juan Bautista de Tassis, to whom he wishes to give information in your Majesty's interests, whilst he is in France. I have had familiar converse with him, and find that he understands artillery thoroughly, and is a great man for instruments. Amongst others, he has shown me the models of some, which, according to my judgment, will be very useful for your Majesty's fleets and armies, and I send a description of them herewith.—London, 9th February 1582.
211. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
In another of the four letters I write herewith I send answers to the various points touched in your Majesty's despatches. I have stumbled upon a difficulty in my usual policy of alarming the merchants by suggesting what may happen to them, namely, that as the Spanish trade, from which they derive such great wealth, is really necessary for them, they have been obliged to disregard my warnings and risk continuing it, with the result that, not only have they found an absence of all signs of retaliation, but they have been greatly reassured, and confess that they have never been received so well in Spain as during the last eighteen months, nor have they ever made a greater profit on their freights and merchandise. This has given rise to an impression, which has been published with all effrontery, that the suspending of the prohibition was absolutely needful to us, and their fears have therefore vanished. If I again tried to alarm them the only result would be to swell their pride and insolence the more. It has already reached such a pitch that a ship from St. Sebastian, being driven into Plymouth by a storm with broken masts, and taking shelter under the two castles belonging to the Queen there, two boatloads of men came at night, on the pretence of being officers of justice, and boarded the ship. They would have taken her and her crew away, only that two of the mariners, who happened to be on shore, came and told me about the matter. I instantly reported the matter to the Council, and was told that I should see that they would act promptly. They said that not only were they obliged by the law of England, but by the law of nations, to order the inhabitants of Plymouth immediately to recover the ship, and, if not, to pay the cost of the vessel and cargo. They also sent Beal with a reply to me respecting the robberies committed by Don Antonio's ships. They say that, if the owners of the property will come and claim it by ordinary legal means, justice shall be done. This is a very unusual course to take in these matters of piracy. Their desire is, however, that it shall be taken in this case simply for appearance sake, as they know very well that none of the individual owners will undertake a lawsuit, which would mean a long lifetime and a great treasure wasted, with the result that after all they would get nothing.
At the same time they answered, with regard to the property which had been captured near Terceira by the pirates Robert and Bingham, to the effect that, if the owners appeared, either in person or proxy, they could take proceedings in the matter. In the meanwhile these people will have time to distribute the property, whilst they tacitly approve of Don Antonio's letters of marque, on the pretence that they do not want to be judges with regard to the war, but at the same time they allow Englishmen to assist Don Antonio as if the war were a national one. I await the Queen's return to reply to the Council upon this point, as it is universally allowed to embargo goods wherever they have been stolen, whilst the necessary steps are taken by the representative of the sovereign from whose subjects they have been plundered.
I have communicated with Antonio de Castillo with regard to the arguments to be used in support of this. Miguel de Moura has sent to Antonio de Castillo the despatch your Majesty ordered to be written, saying that the former secretary had erroneously addressed him as ambassador, in ignorance of the exact position of your Majesty's affairs here. On my departure from Spain I had represented to the duke of Alba and Secretary Zayas that it was undesirable that I should be styled your Majesty's ambassador for Portugal, and it was in all respects fitting that, as soon as God made Castillo your Majesty's subject, he should receive the title of ambassador, both in recognition of his firmness in maintaining your Majesty's right, and his efforts in favour of Portuguese affairs generally. His attitude was gall and wormwood to these people, and I quite expected some outrage would be offered to him. In order to avoid this, and the consequent injury to your Majesty's interests, I no sooner received your Majesty's despatch appointing him than I informed the Queen and her Ministers thereof. As the later despatch came through Tassis, the councillors here have heard from France that Castillo is not your Majesty's ambassador, and they are clamouring against me for telling them lies, and are openly arranging with Don Antonio's people to seize Castillo on the road. The best way to avoid this will be to let the Queen know that he is your ambassador, and I therefore humbly beg, as a great and signal favour to me, and in your Majesty's interests, that he may be addressed as ambassador as he was in the first letters. My own honour is at stake in the matter, as I do not want these people to make me out a liar, not having hitherto lost my credit with them. Diego Botello is here endeavouring to obtain possession of the property which has come from Terceira, amongst which are a thousand boxes of sugar. He offers to fit out ships here with the proceeds, and, although I am throwing all kinds of obstacles in the way, Walsingham and Leicester foil me at every turn. Whilst I am writing this I have received news that the stolen caravel, which had been ordered to leave Bristol, had arrived at a port near Beaumaris, storm-driven, with her masts gone, with only twenty Englishmen and the Portuguese. The Admiral of that part, thinking that she was a derelict, and the people on board of her were thieves, immediately went to claim her for the Queen. I have again had the matter mentioned at second-hand, and have had it shown that it will be for the good of the Queen that the property should be seized in her name, and not be allowed to go elsewhere. A commission of the Judge of the Admiralty has been despatched with this end.
An order sent by this Council for the arrest of Don Antonio's ships, and the pirates in his pay, duly arrived at Plymouth, where they arrested the four they found there and two others at Falmouth. I do not know whether it will be merely make-believe, as it was before, but I learn that on the 3rd instant they were still under arrest.
The four ships which I said were being fitted out for the Moluccas, (fn. 4) are being manned with a large number of all sorts of artificers, the larger of them especially taking thirty carpenters and as many bricklayers each, which is an indication of their intention to colonise. They are now ready, and intend to sail on the 20th.
News comes from Terceira, up to the 1st instant, that no more foreign troops had arrived.—London, 9th February 1582.
212. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
Father William Holt has come from Scotland to confer with me. He is one of the members of the Company of Jesus who came some months since by way of Germany. We had quite given him up for lost, as he was for fifteen days entirely unconscious, but God granted him health to be employed in so sacred a cause as the conversion of Scotland. Father Persons, who is the Superior of all of them in these countries, ordered him to go to Scotland in company with the priest (fn. 5) who was sent the first time, and afterwards returned thither. Holt fell ill on the Border, where the other left him. He (Holt) went thence to Edinburgh, where he was received, as the first priest had been, by the principal lords and Councillors of the King, particularly the duke of Lennox, the earls of Huntly, Eglinton, Argyll, Caithness, and other personages who are desirous of bringing the country to submit to our Holy Catholic faith. Father Holt, who is a person of virtuous life, and as I should judge, a prudent man in mundane affairs, assures me that these men show many signs of their sincerity in the matter, as they unanimously pledge themselves to adopt four means of attaining the object. First, to endeavour, by the preaching and admonitions of wise and exemplary persons, and by public disputations with the Protestants, to convert the King, of whom they have great hopes by reason of his good understanding, without more obstinacy in religion than is natural in those who had been bred in error ; the second means is to learn whether the queen of Scotland will allow them so to manage matters in the country, that if the King be not converted, he should be forced to open his eyes and hear the truth, but they will not put their hands to this without her express order, and always on the understanding that what they do should be with proper regard to the respect and reverence due to the royal dignity ; the third is that, if the queen of Scotland should consider it necessary to carry the matter through, by whatever means, since the salvation of the Prince is involved, in addition to worldly grandeur, they would transport him out of the kingdom to a place that she might indicate, in order that he might be converted to the Catholic Church ; the fourth expedient is that, if the queen of Scotland should be determined to convert the kingdom, as a last resource they would depose the King until she arrived, unless he would consent to be a Catholic. They say that, if God should not bless either of these four methods with success, or give them liberty of conscience in Scotland, they would leave the country with their wives, families, and kin, who would follow them, abandoning all their property and possessions. One way to forward these expedients was to request a foreign sovereign to support them with troops, by means of which they might, for some time, subject the ministers and heretics, and provide against any invasion from England in their support, such as the queen (of England) had constantly promised them. For this reason it was necessary for the Catholics to be able to count upon foreign assistance, and they considered that two thousand soldiers would be sufficient for the purpose. They feared that his Holiness would not be willing to turn his eyes towards them, as he was so far off, and was troubled with affairs in Italy by reason of the Turks ; whilst your Majesty was so embarrassed with the war in Flanders and other enterprises, and Scotland was so poor a country that your Majesty would hardly care for their friendship. The forces of the king of France also were too much reduced for him to be able to do anything, especially against this Queen ; whilst the House of Guise, although they were under the obligation of helping, were prevented from doing so by certain reasons which there was no need to state. They therefore did not intend to appeal to France, and their last resource was that the queen of Scotland herself might by her personal intercession prevail upon the Pope and your Majesty to help them. If they were sure of getting succour from your Majesty and the Pope, Lord Seton would go, in the habit of a pilgrim if necessary, for the purpose of stating more fully their determination to both monarchs, carrying his son with him to leave as a hostage, and bearing pledges, signed by the personages above mentioned, that if two thousand men were sent to Scotland they would undertake to convert the country to the Catholic faith and to bring it to submit to the Pope.
Although they wished the two thousand soldiers to be Spaniards, they saw the inconvenience which might arise from the jealousy of the French if this were the case, and they thought the best alternative would be for your Majesty to send Italians, under the name of the Pope, which would give the French no excuse for interference, at all events until the troops were landed, if the business was managed with fit secrecy. They could be sent to Friesland for embarkation, as your Majesty has a reason for sending troops thither, and they could easily be sent from there to Eyemouth, which would be the most convenient port.
After having discussed this with Father Holt they asked him to return to England and communicate it to the English personages who he knew were interested, and to endeavour to find some means of conveying their resolution to the queen of Scotland, as their channels of communication with her had now failed them. They wished to hear her opinion, and to receive orders as to the course she wished adopted, as soon as possible. He was to try also to have more priests sent from here and from France, dressed as laymen, to administer the sacraments. On no account should these men be Scotsmen, but English, as the Ministers, if they were discovered, would punish Scotsmen by the Scots law, which they could not do to Englishmen, whom they could only expel the country with forty days' notice, besides which matters were not ripe enough for Scotsmen to be employed. The Englishmen who go there pretend to be exiles, and as the language is nearly the same they do almost as well. They assure such men that they would be as safe in Scotland as if they were in Rome, only they must bring money for their maintenance.
Those who oppose the Catholic religion are the Ministers and the earl of Arran, who was made use of by d'Aubigny and his friends in Morton's business, and the King gave him his title for this. Since then, as he is a terrible heretic, this Queen has gained him, and for this reason they have tried to get rid of him, and had arranged with the King, after Arran's quarrel with Lennox, to order him to remain in a house twelve miles from the Court, where they intended to dispatch him as best they might.
In consequence of the statute which was passed in this last Parliament against the Catholics, they had also agreed with the King to summon another Parliament on the 12th ultimo, for the purpose of repealing it, and if possible all other Acts relating to the same subject, Lennox having, the better to succeed in his object, artfully begged the King to summon the Parliament to meet at his house of Dalkeith, where he was sure that Arran would not dare to come or the Ministers have the courage, in his absence, to oppose the wishes of the rest. This priest tells me that if the queen of England had not made such great efforts with the Ministers and heretics after Morton's death, to prevent any change whatever in religion, liberty of conscience would undoubtedly have been obtained. But Arran and the Ministers, incited by the promises of this Queen, threatened to summon English help, and resist by force of arms, if it were done, and it was consequently deferred for a better opportunity.
He tells me, also, that he and the companion who went before, had already begun to reconcile some people to the Roman Church, and had said mass and preached on Christmas day and Epiphany, in the house of Lord Seton, in the presence of him and his family and the earl of Huntly. He is in great hopes that God will bless the affair with success, as he sees so much earnestness in those who are promoting it, and he relates that the following is the present state of the country.
All the country people and inhabitants of the villages are inclined to the Catholic Church, and against the ministers, especially those in the North ; the reason being that as the ministers are married, they spend the ecclesiastical revenues on their children, and give nothing in charity or for the public benefit. In the towns, the Catholic are few, and the people mostly heretics, although one of the old priests assured Father Holt that in Edinburgh, this Christmas, he had administered the Eucharist to more than a hundred Catholics. He says that there are not more than six of these old priests in all the country, and they are very old and poor. There is a great abuse amongst the Catholics, but whether it arises from the laxity of the priests or the ignorance of the people he does not know, namely, that whilst they secretly worship as Catholics, they openly are allowed to attend the preaching of the heretics, and it is believed that even some of the heads of them do this.
The general desire of Catholic people is that foreign troops should come to expel the ministers, as they fear that the English would prevent its being done otherwise. The king of Scotland does not claim to be the head of the Church, as is done in England by Act of Parliament, and this will render the conversion the more easy.
The ministers who are learned enough to be able to dispute, are one Chagren (fn. 6) who was formerly a Franciscian friar, and preacher to the king, and Siedem (fn. 7) also an apostate from the company of Jesus. Buchanan, although he still retains the title of principal tutor to the King, has given way to the vice of drunkenness, and is intoxicated every day. The rest of them are most idiotic people.
The priests who are to come from France are told to disembark at Leith, which is only six miles from a house belonging to Lord Seton, whither they have first to go to receive their orders how to proceed. The other priest who remained there, had gone to the North and elsewhere, with letters from certain gentlemen, in order to get full information which would be useful to the clergymen who are to go.
Father Holt tells me that it seems as if a special blessing of God rested upon the effort, seeing the goodwill with which they are welcomed everywhere, even by the heretics themselves. Lord Seton's wife is a protestant, and yet she cherishes them with the utmost kindness and charity.
He says that the quarrel between the duke of Lennox and Arran was a domestic one, as he (Father Holt) was present at the time, and the circumstances related to the Queen in the letter from Berwick did not happen.—London, 9th February 1582.
213. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
With regard to your Majesty's message to be conveyed to the queen of Scotland respecting the association of her son in her rights, I had already answered her in general terms, as I thought the case demanded, and have now written again for the purpose of encouraging her the more. I have used great diligence in this matter, and have taken care to keep her informed of all that I heard which might interest her. I have done this with so much caution, that even when her friends here who are in correspondence with her asked me whether I had any communication with her, I replied that I have not, as I have no special reason for it, but naturally feel sorry for her troubles, she being a Queen and a widow. This course has pleased and obliged her much, as I gather from a letter she writes to me, of which I send a copy herewith. (fn. 8) It will be observed that she exhibits not the slightest suspicion that I am not proceeding with the most perfect straightforwardness towards her, as she makes no signs of it with regard to the intelligence I sent her about my conversation with Cecil, in order that she might not be startled if she heard the news from any other source. On the contrary, she replies in such a way as to banish any idea of dis-service towards your Majesty, saying that she has never dreamt of impeding your Majesty's aggrandisement, and is sure that my having taken the steps I did with the treasurer was demanded by the circumstances, in order to cool this Queen's intimacy with the French, and it would be forgotten as soon as the occasion was past. It will thus be seen that I have anticipated your Majesty's instructions. When secretary Beal came to bring me an answer from the Council, he asked me whether I knew of the association of the queen of Scotland with her son, and what I thought of it. I replied that, as the Queen was so close with the French, it appeared to me that not only might your Majesty feel suspicion of them in the matter, but also of the Scots and English, as well as of the queen of Scotland, as they all seemed to be agreed about it. (fn. 9)
With regard to the association itself, I now hear for certain, as I wrote to your Majesty months ago, when it was first broached, that the queen (of Scots) herself had prompted them to ask her to take the step she did. This is fully confirmed by what she writes to me ; her aim being, by this means, to pledge her son to attach more importance to her views, and to think more of her, and, consequently, that her admonitions to him with regard to religion may have more influence over him than they otherwise would have, and that when she has converted him, and the alliance with your Majesty has been arranged, there might be an opportunity of begging your Majesty with greater justice to lend your aid towards their claim to the English crown.
She also saw that, when those people who surrounded her son and who were inclined to be Catholics recognised that she had taken this step for her son's advancement, they would be encouraged, now that Morton was out of the way, to help forward her son's conversion for worldly gain, if for no other reason, inasmuch as it would also be greatly to their own advantage, particularly to that of the duke of Lennox, as he was not a Scotsman but had been brought up in France, where his wife and children were devout Catholics, and even though he has joined with the heretics in order by dissimulation to strengthen his position, he will not be blind to the advantage of helping the King by any means, especially as he will also save his soul thereby. If, moreover, he be declared the King's successor in default of issue, he could not hope to hold the crown of Scotland unless the country were Catholic, as the Protestants would certainly invite another member of the family of their own religion, who would also have the support of England.
These considerations, and the belief that the conversion of her son will pledge your Majesty and secure her own release and happiness, I believe she has set forth in her letter to the persons I mentioned, who have approved of them and have followed her counsel in the matter. I have pondered much to discover whether, after all, there might not be some French aim behind this, but I do not find any signs of it whatever, because, so far as Scotland itself is concerned, there is not much to be gained by the French connection, the King having received his crown from the Scots people ; nor would the French have more influence in the country in consequence of the association, the queen of Scotland still remaining a prisoner as before. On the other hand, if the King becomes a Catholic and the alliance of your Majesty were offered to him, carrying with it the assurance that he should add the crown of England and Ireland to his own, by your help, and that of the Catholics here, he would certainly accept it rather than he would join with France where the country is divided and the resources exhausted.
If the king of Scotland be Protestant it is certain that he will not be able during the life of his mother to claim his right to the throne of England, as it cannot be imagined for a moment that she would be weak enough to fall away from the Catholic church, and she would in such case for her own sake immediately revoke the association, and resist his claim, with the aid of your Majesty, the Pope and the English Catholics, and even if the French did not help her, they certainly would not oppose her under such circumstances.
I have given an account to the queen of Scotland of the state of affairs in that country, similar to that which I send enclosed. I informed her that the Scots are asking for English priests, and not Scotsmen, without saying anything in detail of the four expedients which the Scots lords proposed, only that, if she determines that her son shall be a Catholic at any cost, they will adopt the course with regard to it, which she may command ; thus giving her to understand that they are ready and determined, and that the main part of the business is in her hands, which is the important point. I avoid detailing the proposals to transport her son, or depose him, which might possibly cause her motherly tenderness to shrink from them. It is not advisable that she should hear particulars, unless they are to be put into practice. In this and all else, I am using such artifice in words as I can, in order still to encourage her and facilitate the object in view.
I have also endeavoured to dispatch William Holt at once on his return to Scotland, which I considered necessary for the following reasons. First he was in great fear that in view of the want of confidence displayed by the Scots as to any help being given to them in the business, the long delay necessary to communicate with the Queen and to get a reply from your Majesty and the Pope, might prejudice the business and cause the Scotch Catholics to lose heart, whilst the heretics became more inflamed by the negotiations with England. He became more alarmed at this possibility when he discovered that he had been sent hither to confer with me, which he did not know before, and had no idea that I was a mover in the business. The priest that went back a second time (fn. 10) learnt that the two English lords who had sent him were prisoners here, and I had told him that if he found the matters in Scotland promising, and had to send or bring any account of them hither, he or his companion should come to London to the house of a clergyman, who would conduct him to the person with whom he had to confer. When Holt arrived therefore the clergyman brought him instantly to me.
It was also necessary that he should go back at once, in order that he might be in Scotland to give the necessary information to the priests who arrived from France, and if he delayed his departure from here it was possible that he would not be able to get across the border, seeing the daily increasing severity of this Queen's orders with regard to people passing, for the purpose of stopping communications between the Catholics here and Scotland, which she suspects but cannot detect, and it would have wasted much time if he had had to go by way of France.
I therefore sent him off immediately, with a letter in Latin written by me, to tell them (i.e. the Scots lords) that I had listened to the mission they had sent by the bearer and that, if they were resolved to carry the business through, it was so righteous and just a one, that I could assure them that your Majesty would not fail to help and support them to attain their object, as in detail the bearer would verbally make known to them.
I was moved to write this letter, because your Majesty in various dispatches has ordered me to encourage these Scots, and confirm them in their determination to make head against the heretics. I have hitherto conducted this business by promoting it without appearing to do so, until I was assured of the feelings of the Scots, so that, if they were false, no injury might be caused to your Majesty's interests by their publishing, either here or in France, that they had your Majesty's support. I have therefore worked under the cloak of the English Catholics, up to the present point, when I have been obliged to disclose myself, in order that I might hear minutely the mission brought by Holt from the Scots, and instruct him as to the course he was to pursue. For this purpose, I had him secretly for two days in a room in my house, impressing upon him carefully the mode of procedure he was to adopt towards them. I warned him that, before he delivered the letter, he was to confer with Seton, as to whether it would be better for Seton to hand it to them, or whether Holt himself should give it to the duke of Lennox.
The better to do this, I left the address blank that it might be filled in afterwards. I supplied him with money for his voyage, and for the maintenance of himself and the other priest, of which he was sorely in need.
I also advised Dr. Allen to hasten the going of the priests from France, he having told me that he had now got the fitting men ready for the purpose, but had no money with which to send them. I replied that I would, by order of your Majesty, find means to keep them on the road, putting it in this form in order, as your Majesty wishes, not to pledge you for the future. Although they are priests and humble people, and I am sparing in the distribution of the money, yet they need more than others would, as they have to buy horses and lay dresses, and particularly those going from here to Scotland, who have to travel by indirect roads and engage guides, as well as to pay liberally on the Border, to ensure their getting across safely.
As those who, by my intercession, promoted the business are now in prison. I am obliged to conduct it myself. I find an obstacle to this, which I am trying to overcome, namely, that the Borders are so closely watched that it will be difficult for me to keep up communications with Scotland. If the letters come in plain writing some of these folks will certainly take them and the affair will be discovered, whereas, if they are in cipher, the bearer is in danger of losing his life for the offence of carrying them. For that reason I am trying to open a way for my letters to go through France, as ciphers can be safely sent and received by me in that way.
I hope that God will deign to aid this conversion, the condition of which I have here set forth. Some of the difficulties have disappeared since I stated them in a letter dated 8th February/79 to Secretary Zayas, (fn. 11) who asked me to give my opinion about it, in consequence of a proposition that had been made by the bishop of Glasgow to Juan de Vargas. Although God's grace is the first foundation upon which must be built the temple for the gaining of so many souls (notwithstanding the natural inconstancy of the Scotch nation), and full confidence may therefore be entertained of success, strenuous human aid may also be counted upon, as the business is honeyed over with advantage and interest for the persons who are to carry it out ; and this will encourage them much to persevere, since hope of worldly goods, however transitory, often causes men to postpone all other considerations.
The queen of Scotland signifies that, with money and pensions, the Councillors of her son may be won over, and his conversion thereby secured by preaching, which will be a great thing, as it will avoid the shedding of blood. This course, although advantageous, yet offers some difficulties, because, as heresy is so deeply rooted in the country, for our sins it may be feared that it will not be so quickly converted, but that many heretics will still remain, who at the first signs will appeal to England, which is so ready to favour them and can do so by sending an army into the country. Such an army might be resisted by the Scots for a short time if they were united, but not for long, as the penury of the country is great, and the people are not obliged to serve the King at their own cost for more than a fortnight with their followers and horses, after which time they return home, and the chiefs are for this reason obliged to risk all by a hasty battle rather than find themselves at last without troops at all. There has, therefore, rarely been an invasion by one nation of the other without an engagement, and there are no signs of a disposition amongst Catholics here to rise unless they have foreign aid, nor is it likely that the Queen and Council would employ, at such a time as the sending of troops to Scotland, any person they suspect of being a Catholic in order to avoid any trick being played them.
There are difficulties also as well as advantages in the proposals offered by the Scots for the coming of foreign troops. They offer security for their reception, but, as the true Catholic religion is so much decayed in France, it may be feared that, before their arrival there (in Scotland), the French will hear of it, suspecting that it is an affair of your Majesty, and may raise obstacles in various quarters. The advantage to be gained by the landing of foreign troops is, that the Catholics could with confidence immediately begin to oppress the heretics, whilst this Queen would not dare to delay entering Scotland when foreign troops were there, with the support of whom the Scots could encounter her ; and if she attempted it the whole English north country would be disturbed, the Catholics there being in a majority, and the opportunity would be taken by the Catholics in other parts of the country also to rise when they knew that they had on their side the forces of a more powerful prince than the king of Scotland.
As one of the two courses will have to be taken, I have thought well to represent to your Majesty my view of both of them, as I cannot judge which would be the most fitting ; that question depending upon the position of your Majesty's dominions elsewhere, and whether it will be advisable to arouse the jealousy of any other prince. I humbly beg your Majesty to pardon the boldness and prolixity of my letters, but, as present events are of so much weight and moment, I am emboldened to state fully the exact positon, sinning rather by lengthy plainness than by brief obscurity.
Begs for special despatch in answer to the present ; sent in same way.—London, 9th February 1582.
12 Feb.
Paris Archives, K 1447. 125.
214. The King to Bernardino De Mendoza.
Having regard to the good report you give of Antonio Fogaza in your letter of 17th December, I have decided to order you to help and favour him, and take the necessary steps for having him set at liberty. It is also my will that, out of the credit for 3,000 crowns recently sent to you, you should give him 1,500 to pay his debts and his costs incurred in the Tower. You may also, if necessary, pay the other 400 crowns, which you think will be the amount of his expenses, or any similar sum, more or less, to obtain his liberty. When he is free you will take care to guide him and send him hither, reporting all you do to me.—Lisbon, 12th February 1582.
12 Feb.
Paris Archives, K. 1447. 126.
215. The King to Bernardino De Mendoza.
We learn from one of your letters that the duke of Alençon was on the point of departure, and as you advised the prince of Parma, he intended to go to Dunkirk. This was very wisely done, and you will continue to report to the Prince all that is plotted against those States. At the same time, you will take action with the Queen and her Councillors to dissuade them from assisting in such things, using the arguments you think most likely to move them, in accordance with my intentions which have frequently been explained to you.
The matter of Don Antonio's ships which were in port abandoned by their crews, appears to have been successfully settled by you and you must subsequently have used great efforts to get the Queen to refuse Diego Botello's request on behalf of Don Antonio since he went thither in the full expectation of receiving great assistance. To this end, doubtless, he was accompanied by the former French consul in Lisbon, and the other man you mention. In these matters of Flanders and Don Antonio it will be advisable for you, either directly or indirectly, to arouse all possible suspicion of these new-fangled friendships, and you may also revive the alarm as to my action, if the Queen offends me further, letting her know that if she aids either party against me, she may force my hand. Report fully to me what result is attained.—Lisbon, 12th February 1582.
19 Feb. 216. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
Since writing my last four letters news has come of Alençon's arrival at Flushing. The Queen has said that he is coming back within six weeks to marry her, in accordance with the conditions which the king of France has accepted. This she asserts with great oaths and protestations ; and upon its being repeated to the earl of Sussex, he said that no matter what she said it was all lies and nonsense to believe that the Queen would ever marry. She says that if she had known that the towns were discussing submission to your Majesty, she would never have let Alençon go to Flanders ; but, at the same time, she is using great efforts with Orange through Leicester and otherwise to get him to detain Alençon in the Netherlands. He is now, doubtless, quite undeceived about the marriage, as on his leaving here Marchaumont, by his orders, made inquiries of certain Florentine merchants about the parts of the eldest daughter of the duke of Florence, and asked them to obtain a portrait of her to show to Alençon, whom he might induce to marry her if the Duke gave her a dowry of a million and a half. I understand they have sent for the portrait. Marchaumont remains here to look after his master's interests.
Leicester has informed Orange that the Queen wishes to learn from the States what money they will find for Alençon to carry on the war, and also what places shall be given up to the English, who are to go, for their winter quarters, and also what security they (the States) will give for their promises. He replies that his belief is that the States cannot give any real security, as the Ghent people had written that they were determined to separate from the other States, and look after their own interests. He has only been able, by dint of great entreaties, to get them to wait until Alençon came, that they might hear from him the means he proposed for carrying on the war against your Majesty. I hear this from a certain source in Ghent.
They tell me that Leicester was thinking of sending some of the gentlemen who went with him to Casimir, and it is thought that it will end in his coming to see Alençon.
This Queen sent to tell me that as she had never had any reply from the prince of Parma about the release of Rogers, (fn. 12) who was still detained, she knew not why, she was going to send a man thither with letters, and asked me to give him a passport, and a letter to the prince of Parma, from whom I have received nothing since the 28th August, although I have sent him constant advices, and even special messengers, who have been sent back to me without replies. I am therefore quite in the dark about this and other matters. Before Leicester left the Council met to discuss the detention of Rogers and the Queen's writing on the subject. Leicester and Walsingham again voted as before, to the effect that if the Prince did not at once release him I should be arrested. Cecil, on the other hand, said that there was a great inequality between my person and that of Rogers, besides the fact that I was here as an ordinary ambassador, and must be considered as such, whereas Rogers was only a servant of the Queen sent with letters. —London, 19th February 1582.
14 Feb.
B. M. Add. MSS. 28,702.
217. Memorandum on English affairs from Cardinal De Granvelle to the King.
Don Bernardino gives an account of the close relations which exists between those two lovers, and also of some points of importance. He reports the dissension which exists amongst the members of the Council, and the opinion entertained by some, that the Queen should become reconciled with your Majesty, and restore Drake's plunder ; but as they have settled nothing tangible, there is nothing upon which we can act or reply, but we might say that, as it is possible that these negotiations between the French and English may result rather in dissension than satisfaction, some good may come of it, especially in view of the fears about Scotland. All we can do is to stand by and await events, whilst the ambassador continues the course he has hitherto followed, of being very confident and paying little attention to their negotiations ; this being the method most likely to disconcert them. At the same time he must be careful not to shut the door against them, but if they show signs of approaching him should receive their advances willingly, and offer his aid towards a reconciliation, as no harm can be done by it, whilst their plots against his Majesty may be cooled thereby. He should try to stir up the hatred of the merchants against the Queen, and the few Councillors who are interested, by pointing out to them, with his usual dexterity, and without his being suspected, the injury which may befall them and all the country for the sake of the private interests of these men. Praise him for saving that Englishman, and tell him to try to retain him. (fn. 13) —Madrid, 28th February 1582.
19 Feb. 218. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
On the 9th I wrote four letters in duplicate, and on the 14th received your Majesty's letters of the 8th of January. In accordance with your Majesty's desire for information about the ships going to Moluccas, I beg to report that they are taking victuals for two years, and their course it is said will be from here to Cape Blanco where they will water, and thence to the Cape of Good Hope. I have been unable to obtain further particulars, and although they are taking artificers, as I said, I do not believe that it is their intention to colonise, but rather to plunder on the Indian passage. This, indeed, was confessed by a captain of one of the ships, to a friend of his, saying that the show they were making of another intention is only as a bait to get commercial men to risk their money in the adventure. Portuguese who know the voyage to the East Indies, tell me that if these ships put into the island of St. Helena they may injure your Majesty's fleets on their way from the Indies. The Muscovy Company have subscribed 4,000l. sterling to the risk of the voyage, the whole adventure being nearly 10,000l.
I have heard that, in Leicester's absence, the treasurer has received orders to dispatch these four ships, in which he adventures two hundred pounds, half of which he has already paid. They say they are going to the Moluccas by a certain strait which they are to discover. They believe that, on this pretext, that they will be able to anchor, if necessary, in any of your Majesty's ports, and it will be desirable that your Majesty should order the most rigid vigilance in examining every ship that comes. The stop which I said had been placed on Don Antonio's ships in the ports of Plymouth and Falmouth, was notified to Diego Botello, and on the 9th he left here to go to the place where the Queen was, and she, through Walsingham, ordered the embargo to be raised, and that Diego Botello, should have an authority given to him to compel all the Englishmen who had agreed to serve Don Antonio and who had abandoned the ships to return thereto, or be immediately hanged. Walsingham insisted upon this order being given, as the crews had fled from the ships and they could not be manned otherwise. I had notice of this, and took the opportunity of these ships having the stolen merchandise still on board of them, to ask the members of the council who remained here to order their arrest, which they did, and although the commission was given in such terms as only to comply with my demand in appearance, I sent a man specially with it, so that, pending the arrival of contrary orders, the sailors might escape and hide themselves, and the ships therefore might not be so easily taken to Rochelle, which was the object of Botello, as Walsingham assures him that the merchandise purchased by Englishmen there and stolen from your Majesty's subjects may be brought hither without the owners or any other persons arresting them or proceeding in any way against them. Diego Botello has fitted out a ship here of 140 tons called the "Julian" to go to Terceira. She will sail in a week, and takes 80 sakers (fn. 14) of cast iron, and 40 mignons, as they are called here, which are big pieces, four-pounders, with a hundred balls for each piece ; two bronze cannon of 50 cwt., (fn. 15) and 150 cwt. of powder, with 30 sailors. A son of Loreston Haines (Anes?), who is a brother of the man your Majesty ordered to be arrested in Lisbon, is going in her. I am told that his father subsequently said here that, because his son in Lisbon had dispatched some people to seek Don Antonio and deliver letters, I had no right to have him arrested. All the above munitions were brought to the Tower by night, they having been sold to Diego Botello by Walsingham in his own name, as if they did not belong to the Queen, who certainly does not like giving things away.
One of the ships taken by Don Antonio's vessels was from Flushing, and I understand that they have agreed to serve him, offering to get two other ships from that place also to join. I have let people there know, and have warned them to stop it, for fear they should lose the trade with Spain. I hear from Flushing that Duarte de Castro, and Francisco Antonio de Souza, had come to see Alençon for Don Antonio, to ask him and Orange to give leave for ships to sail from the ports of Holland and Zeeland to prey upon your Majesty's subjects, and to sell their booty there. They both agreed to this, but the Guild of sailors said they would not allow it.—London, 19th February 1582.
21 Feb.
B. M. MSS. Add. 28,702.
219. Memorandum on English affairs from Cardinal De Granvelle to the King.
The English affair is a great point, God grant that it may go forward and that they may not have deceived the Ambassador. If the matter should turn out as promised, it will prove the correctness of what I have so often said, namely, that all these embassies and messages of friendship would be more likely to result in disagreement than in closer intimacy, as they were undertaken by persons inexperienced in such affairs. God grant that this may be so. But if the Queen were to do as she ought, she would arrest Alençon and hold him for the restoration of Calais, Guines, and Boulogne, making an agreement with his Majesty. This is what would really be best for her country, whilst it would extricate us from this turmoil and so enable us to settle our business well in many respects.—Madrid, 21st February 1582.
24 Feb.
B. M. MSS. Add. 28,702.
220. Memorandum on English affairs from Cardinal De Granvelle to the King.
These letters are of later date, and as matters are now changed there is nothing to say except that what has happened will be a guide for the future. Ghent and Bruges are probably not so ready to submit as they tell him. Doubtless it is set afloat to move their friends from whom they expect help. But still it looks as if God were finding for us a way to turn all our affairs to advantage if we seize the opportunity presented to us.
It is of great importance that those who go to Scotland should be Jesuits and fit men for the negotiation. The loss of John Desmond, the brother of the Earl, will be a great one, as he was one of the most popular and trusted of their leaders. The Ambassador is doing well in the matter of the restitution of the plunder, although little may come of it ; but it is fitting that nothing should be left undone, and that these claims and complaints should be kept alive in view of future eventualities.
No doubt later despatches ought to have arrived, but the French are treating the posts as badly as they could if we were at open war with them. They will continue to act thus so long as they see it answers their purpose and we are timid.—Madrid, 24th February 1582.


  • 1. In the King's hand :—If they can be bribed we had better do the same.
  • 2. In the King's hand :— "Perhaps it will be advisable for us to take some action in Germany. Remind me."
  • 3. In the King's hand :— "I know of no such jewel and do not think it can exist."
  • 4. In the King's hand :— "Unless they are for the Straits. He has not mentioned Drake lately."
  • 5. Father Creighton.
  • 6. Probably John Craig.
  • 7. Probably Patrick Adamson.
  • 8. See letter, Queen of Scots to Mendoza, 14th January, page 257.
  • 9. Beal's account of this conversation will be found in Lord Calthorpe's manuscripts.
  • 10. Creighton.
  • 11. See page 647, Vol, II. of this Calendar.
  • 12. See page 628, Vol. II., of this Calendar.
  • 13. In an autograph note to this the King writes as follows :—"I think there were two, namely, Lord .... (Lord Harry Howard) and Francis Arundel. I knew one of that name, but do not know whether this is he." I quote this note, one of many similar remarks on these documents, to show how closely the King followed the details of the despatches. Reference to the letter dated 25th December 1581 page 246 in this volume proves that Philip's memory was correct.
  • 14. Sakers were pieces weighing 1,400 lbs. and throwing a shot of 5½ lbs.
  • 15. These were Cannon-Serpentines, fifty-three pounders.