Simancas: March 1582, 1-15

Pages 299-317

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

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March 1582, 1-15

1 March. 221. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
When Alençon left the Queen told him to write to her from Flanders addressed to "my wife the Queen of England," which he has done, but it is all nonsense, and the letters are full of love and his desolation at being away from her. She makes much of them, and says openly that she would give a million for her "frog," as she calls Alençon, to be swimming in the Thames rather than in the stagnant waters of the Netherlands.
She continues to say that if the king of France will fulfil his promises she will marry Alençon, and, in order to forward matters, the latter has written to his brother saying that as he formerly agreed to defray half the expenses of the war if the Queen paid the other half, the same end might be attained even if the Queen did not pay her half, since the revenues of Alençon would provide for a quarter, and the States another quarter, by which means the Queen's demands might be met. She is encouraging these proposals, in order not to let Alençon slip through her hands.
I am told that the Queen has received intelligence from Cobham that the king of France is annoyed at the going of his brother to Antwerp, and says that he will throw every possible obstacle in the way of war, and in this he his brother's open enemy. Even if he does not go quite so far as this, he shows no signs of helping him in any way.
Alençon wrote to Marchaumont, for the information of his friends, that he found the rebel States not at all in a fit temper for the waging of such a war, and although Orange gave him plenty of fine words his deeds were scanty. He (Alençon) resents the refusal to allow his guard to enter Middleburg until after Leicester's intercession, and also that the Ghent people waited a whole week before they welcomed him, whilst they conferred secretly amongst themselves and with Leicester, upon matter of which he was ignorant. He was at last convinced, moreover, that that he would always have to be second to Orange.
The earl of Leicester arrived here on the 26th, he having been summoned in great haste by the Queen, in consequence of the heavy expenses he and those who accompanied him were incurring. His one theme is the devotion of the rebel States to the Queen, and the attachment of the whole people, since they allowed the English to go over all the forts in Zeeland, but would not admit a single Frenchman. The fortresses would be surrendered to the Queen whenever she wished to have them.
He says that Orange assured him that the rebels would not submit to so weak and resourceless a prince as Alençon unless they were secured by his union with the Queen. Orange made a long speech to this effect to the States before they took the oath to Alençon, and Leicester has taken care to repeat it all to the Queen with no end of flattery, telling her that she alone in Europe can dictate peace and war in all parts. He was only three days with Alençon at Antwerp, and left the day after the oath was taken, at dinner time, fearing that Alençon might detain him, and that his enemies here might have time to undermine his favour with the Queen. Hatton sent a special man post-haste to him, telling him to return instantly, because the Queen had remarked that men did no know their great good fortune until they had lost it. Since his return, he tells his friends that his journey was a pleasant one and advantageous to the Queen's service, as he left Alençon in a place out of which he could not get when he pleased.
Leicester says that they took the oath to Alençon at Antwerp as duke of Brabant and Marquis of the Holy Empire, but I can give no further particulars until I get news from my Antwerp correspondents. Judging, however, from the general discontent in the States, it is to be believed that it is advantageous for your Majesty that Alençon should have gone. A pasquin was put on his door the night he arrived in Antwerp, saying he had better declare himself on one side or the other, Calvinist or Catholic, or else return to France.
The Burgomasters of Brussels protested that the oath should first be taken there, where also Alençon ought to reside, as the lords of Brabant usually lived there.
Simier sends a letter saying that, on his landing, a gentleman from the King came to thank him warmly for his services here. The Queen-mother wished for him to come here as ambassdor, but the King deferred the appointment as he wished him to be near him.—London, 1st March 1582.
222. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
In consequence of Alençon's stay here the Queen, until a few days ago, delayed replying to the point brought to her by Beal from the queen of Scotland. To the first message respecting the association, she replied that on no account would she consent to the queen of Scotland sending a person either to France or to Scotland to discuss the matter, which should be left in her (Elizabeth's) hands to be dealt with when she thought best. To the queen of Scotland's request that she should be allowed to make a progress to the earl of Shrewsbury's houses, she said she could go and welcome, but on condition that she did not go from one house to the other by the high roads and that her route should not be made public, in order that no people should be allowed to see her. With regard to the third point, the Queen replied that, in addition to her own coach, she might have two others made for her ladies-in-waiting, and might maintain ten horses for them. I am awaiting reply daily from the queen of Scotland to my letter.
As Walsingham and Leicester have not been able to prevail upon the Queen to openly deprive the Earl of Shrewsbury of the custody of the queen of Scotland, they suggested to her that the expense she was incurring, of 200l. a montb, was too heavy, and that 80l. might be deducted therefrom ; the idea being that, as Shrewsbury was very fond of money, he would give up the charge, and the Queen might then, without apparent offence to him, dispose of the Scotch Queen as she thought best. Shrewsbury is annoyed at the reduction, but has not surrendered the custody, and has begged leave to come here to justify the expenditure, which request has been granted. When the Queen read the Earl's reply, she said to Walsingham "You do nothing but stir up things to gain other ends, but it all ends in smoke ; you see now that Shrewsbury will not leave the queen of Scotland after all."
In reply to your Majesty's request of 28th January that I should report about Dr. Sanders, they are now certain here that he died of cold and hardship in Ireland, his body having been found in a wood with his breviary and his bible under his arm. The insurgents are as bold as ever, Desmond being in his usual place and Baron Baltinglass(?) in his former position, the Viceroy being undesirous of offending them, as he has the Queen's orders to keep things quiet, if possible. As I have frequently reported, she declines to make any provision for that island, and is determined that the only money spent there shall be drawn from the revenues of the country itself. Since the death of Desmond's brother, a gentleman there, who is considered by these people to be a man of spirit, has declared himself against the Queen and has 600 followers.—London, 1st March 1582.
223. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
I saw the Councillors on the 21st respecting the reply given to me about Knollys, and the pirates Robert and Bingham, who had letters of marque from Don Antonio. I used many arguments, which, according to all human right and reason, are unanswerable, and said they could not deny me the embargo I demanded on the property which had been captured from the subjects of your Majesty, whose minister I was. I was therefore entitled, not only to demand the custody of it but the possession, under the "Jure gentium, princeps pater republicæ et interes, &c.," in order to avoid its falling into the hands of Diego Botello and prevent the fittingout of more ships. I concluded by saying, that even if they were not convinced by these arguments, and would only acknowledge the owners of the property or their proxies, they could not refuse me the dues which were payable to the crown of Portugal on goods exported from Brazil, and for which, according to the edicts, security was given at the place of shipment for its payment at Lisbon. It was therefore a debt already contracted, and as such, I claimed these.dues as your Majesty's minister, all of which demands, tended to one point, upon which I wished for a reply, namely, whether they recognised Don Antonio's letters of marque ; because, if they approved of them, the Queen must not be surprised if her rebellious subjects were allowed to issue letters of marque in your Majesty's dominions ; whereas, if they did not approve of them, they could not on any account deny me what I asked, namely, to restore the stolen booty to me, and to the owners, particularly as Don Antonio's business was so utterly ridiculous. The Treasurer made some reply and wished to discuss the matter, but I convinced him, and it ended in their declining to say whether the letters of marque were good or not, and that they would reply only to my demands and complaints about the robbery. They said that after the Judge of the Admiralty had examined the evidence, he would proceed against all property captured at sea, but not against that which had been brought from Terceira. I pointed out that these pirates also took that property on the high seas, and had conveyed it, with other goods, to Terceira, where, by virtue of Don Antonio's letters of marque, it had been confiscated, on the ground that it had not been brought first thither and the dues upon it paid. The merchandise was therefore delivered to the pirates again for the payment of their own wages, and to deliver the balance to Don Antonio. Thus the business rests, the Judge of the Admiralty telling me that he will proceed as they have said. I am pushing him on as much as possible to prevent any of this sugar falling into Don Antonio's hands. They gave orders formerly at my instance, for the delivery of the boxes of sugar from the caravel, which I said had arrived at Holyhead, but now they have countermanded them, on the ground that a merchant ship called the "Mignon," of which I advised the departure on the 13th October 1580, had been arrested on the coast of Brazil, and until she and the property of her merchants had been released, all goods coming from that coast belonging to your Majesty's subjects must be detained here. This is all a lie, as is proved by a letter brought by the captain of the caravel and confirmed verbally by him, saying that this ship "Mignon" had arrived at St. Vincent, and had taken two hundred boxes of sugar, sailing from there to Todos-los-Santos where she was found leaking, and was allowed to discharge her cargo in bond. This was on the 19th September last.
I have replied that as the property mentioned is in bond, I believed your Majesty would punish the officers of the two ports for having allowed the ship to enter, against the orders of your Majesty, in accordance with the prohibition decreed in the time of King Sebastian, against Englishmen going to that part of the coast, they being confined to certain specified places. I said that for this the "Mignon" might legally be arrested and confiscated ; and although the treaty I have mentioned had only been for three years and expired in December 1579, when Antonio de Castillo came, "erat pro gentium tacito consensu et in re mutuo comercio," nothing having changed on either side. The English, therefore, had no ground for claiming the restitution of the ship.
They replied that they would send the secretary to me to discuss the matter, and I am going to reply that if the Council are so unjust as to permit Englishmen here to detain property in respect of this ship, I have no doubt that your Majesty will at once order the detention in Portugal, and elsewhere, of all property belonging to Englishmen, as it is of the greatest importance that on no account, should the English be allowed to imagine that they can go on that or any other voyage to the Indies, where prohibitions exist, excepting at the risk of being sent to the bottom. Otherwise they would continually fit out ships under the guise of trade, which would simply be sent to plunder all the property of your Majesty's subjects they could come across. I think it will be advantageous, if this ship (the "Mignon") was not captured after the caravel left, that she should be seized, in order to warn them not to send any more thither.—1st March 1582.
224. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
When I saw the Council, as I relate in another letter herewith, the Earl of Sussex, after I had done my business, asked me what news I had of your Majesty's health and when I expected to see the Queen. I replied that he himself had brought me the Queen's message that she would inform me when I was to go, and I was still awaiting the intimation. The next day the Lord Chamberlain gave me notice that the Queen would receive Antonio de Castillo and myself on the 24th, in order that he might take leave. Although he was not spoken of as an ambassador of your Majesty, and I was without a reply on the point mentioned in mine of the 9th ultimo, it was well not to refuse the audience offered by the Queen, particularly as it was very necessary for me to discover as soon as possible whether her coldness towards me still continued as at the last audience. I therefore went with him, and the Queen received us very well when I presented him, telling us both to be covered as he approached to hand her your Majesty's letter, which prevented him at the time from putting on his hat. She read the letter, and calling Castillo aside, said she could not understand some portion of it, which seemed by its wording to have been written in England. He will inform your Majesty of the conversation which followed, the substance of which was to urge him to assure your Majesty that she had constantly kept her eyes on Portuguese affairs without allowing herself to be mixed up in them, he being all the while uncovered. I have no doubt she thought thus to put a slight upon him out of revenge for his having told her, from the first day he set foot in England, that your Majesty's right to the crown was undoubted, and his having acted in conformity with this, makes her think that by treating him rudely she was doing a great favour to Don Antonio and the Queen-mother. At last she turned to me, and wanted to call me as a witness to her firmness in the matter of Portugal, which she proclaimed with as much confidence as she could have done if it had been true, instead of proved by many acts and witnesses to be false. I replied that, when the king Don Henry died, she had told me that she did not intend to assist any person who claimed the succession until the justice of his cause was acknowledged. Although her own will and intention were thus evident, I said some of her ministers wished to prove to the world that it was different, as besides the aid which had been given to Don Antonio here, four fresh ships were now fitting out to sail for the Moluccas, and another ship loaded with cannons, powder, and other munitions, ready to go to Terceira. I said this thus softly to ascertain the temper in which she was, and she thereupon asked me what I meant, and to tell her in detail about it. She then sat upon a stool and ordered another to be brought for me, and I gave her a full account of the ships for Moluccas, and of the help given to Don Antonio here ; all of which she listened to with much attention and kindness. When she replied, however, she suddenly changed her manner and said hastily and harshly that this was no time to deal with similar matters or to communicate about them to her ministers. I can only imagine such an abrupt change as this must have been caused by some sign made to her by Hatton, who was standing behind me, because, when I entered the presence chamber, a great friend of his said to another Englishman that Hatton did not expect Don Bernardino was coming with the Portuguese Ambassador or he would have prevented it. This was heard by a servant of mine, who understands the language. The person addressed asked for what reason he would have prevented it, and was told that Hatton did not wish me to speak to the Queen. When I entered the chamber the rest of the councillors all saluted me except Hatton, who showed in his face that he was annoyed at seeing me. I am informed that on the day that I saw the Council, after I had left, Cecil said that I spoke with much modesty and good sense, which could not be denied, and Hatton was extremely annoyed at it, saying that I had bribed the Treasurer.
I doubt not but that when Leicester returns to support him he will cause the Queen not to receive me, this being the aim for which both of them constantly strive, and they will have their way at last, unless the negotiations with the French fall through altogether and the Netherlands become peaceful. Otherwise they will get me referred to the Council for everything and try to cause my expulsion from here. I cannot avoid again pressing upon your Majesty that it will be advisable to send hither some person to succeed me, with the letters and powers which I described on the 20th October, and of which your Majesty approved ; so that according to the state of affairs when he arrives, he may use the documents which may appear convenient, and we shall thus avoid our present suspense and also prevent the personal rancour of Leicester and Hatton (by their turning me out of here) from forcing your Majesty to break with them at an inconvenient time ; and you will still be able to communicate affairs with the Queen, which is of great importance. Until I get a reply to this I will not ask for audience in order to avoid the slight of a refusal, unless the Queen summon me, or some important matter occurs which should have to be conveyed to her personally. I will otherwise feign illness rather than communicate such a matter to the Council first.
It is very important in Drake's affair that the Queen and Council should see that the matter is not forgotten by your Majesty, and that you even send a special person about it, because otherwise she will proceed as she has done before, whilst the booty is being exhausted. I have had fresh signs that they want to make a common lawsuit of it, as Walsingham says that the evidence of the robberies which I had given the Judge of the Admiralty, when he requested me to do so from the Queen, had been sent to Drake for his reply, which should be given to me shortly. This, as I say, is making an ordinary lawsuit of the matter. The coming of a special man will also bridle them somewhat in their fitting out of ships to plunder on the Indian voyage.
God has been pleased so to forward the matter of Scotland as your Majesty will have seen in my despatches of the 9th ultimo ; and to this I will only add that the business may be in such a position that the arrival of a man ostensibly to succeed me may imperil its success both privately and publicly, by reason of the correspondence with the queen of Scotland and the English and Scotch Catholics being suspended until they got used to him, especially as the queen of Scotland has been so frank with me, as I have said ; and it will be necessary to discover first whether she is willing to communicate through any other Minister or not, which is a point upon which some princes are scrupulous and have special par tialities, which may greatly influence the success of a negotiation. My successor should therefore come, not ostensibly as such, but on a special mission about Drake's piracies, bringing with him the other powers suggested, to be used if necessary. This will obviate the difficulties raised by Leicester and Hatton and the others, as well as give time to learn the queen of Scotland's wishes, and make the Scots familiar with him. As your Majesty tells me in your despatch of the 28th January, that the greatest service I can do is to forward the coversion of Scotland, I refer to this anew, foreseeing the danger that may arise. I humbly beg pardon for my great boldness, and repeat that, if it be profitable that I should remain here, I will willingly sacrifice myself for a matter so closely touching the service of God and the increase of His church, as well as serving your Majesty, since two hundred clergymen are risking their lives in the same cause in the face of great hardships, hunger, and need ; which is, of itself, a proof of the mercy which God shows to those whom he chooses as His instruments. I do not say this to your Majesty in the belief that I can be of any service in so grave and arduous a business, as I know, too well, my own sluggishness and coldness in the service of God, and I am sure that whoever comes will be better able to serve your Majesty and with greater dexterity and vigilance than I can.—London, 1st March 1582.
225. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
I reply in another of the four letters sent herewith to the despatches of your Majesty, dated 28th January, in one of which I received the second bill for the 3,000 crowns sent to me, and also the statement of the men on the Dutch hulk, with the letter of the Licentiate Cabrera. (fn. 1)
I cannot understand how so many ships as he speaks of can have passed towards the Indies, nor can I believe that any of the seventeen great ships in Porto Santo were English, as no large ships or others victualled for such a voyage left here at the season in question ; those that have gone out for plunder having been small and isolated, none of them carrying victuals to arrive beyond Cape St. Vincent. Even if any of them had taken a prize and had been able to proceed, I am sure that it was not an important vessel, because I have men in all the ports who instantly advise me of ships that are fitting out. Moreover, the ships which I have mentioned various times have returned from Terceira, and Don Antonio's vessels have never left the coast.
During the four years that I have been here the following are the expeditions which have been fitted out : first, Frobisher with eight vessels went to discover a passage to Cathay by the coast of Labrador ; next, Humphrey Gilbert and Knollys, with eight ships sailed on a voyage from which they returned in four months with prizes taken on the high seas ; and, subsequently, Don Antonio's ships, and the pirates associated with them, have been dispatched, but they are all small craft. There is a large ship of 300 odd tons and three smaller ones ready to go to the Moluccas, carrying over three hundred men, but they have not yet left port in consequence of a quarrel about the lieutenant who is to go with Frobisher. The Muscovy Company wish to force upon him a lieutenant of their own choosing, but Frobisher refuses to undertake the voyage with that condition. I am secretly inciting this quarrel, as well as taking many other steps to delay the voyage, if I cannot stop it altogether by what I said to the Queen.
From what I had said, confirmed by the news I have from the coast of Brittany and Normandy, I have no doubt that the ships which Cabrera mentions are French, but I have not reported particulars of them, as I thought that Juan Bautista de Tassis would have much fresher news on the point than I. (fn. 2)
The twelve ships which were reported by the ship arriving at Belem, to be at the Isle of Wight, were doubtless those of Don Antonio, and the pirates that had joined them, the movements of which I have reported weekly to your Majesty. The number of men in them was exaggerated, as also was the statement that they were taking bricks and other materials for colonization, in consequence of Jacob Anes, when he came from Terceira, telling the Queen that the people of the island wanted nothing but lime to build forts, and begging her permission to send such material by the ships. The rumour therefore prevailed that Don Antonio's ships were loaded in the same way, as Drake was on board of them. Drake has not yet left England, but not a day passes that he does not say a thousand shameless things, amongst others that he will give the Queen 80,000 ducats if she will grant him leave to arm ships to meet your Majesty's fleets, although, of course, he has not the slightest idea of doing such a thing. The other night, whilst supping with the Earl of Sussex, Arundel, and other gentlemen, he was boasting of what he had done, when Sussex remarked that it was no great thing for an armed ship to capture another vessel loaded with money, but with only eight unarmed men on board of her. Drake replied that he was quite capable of making war on your Majesty, whereupon Arundel told him that he wondered how a man like him should have the impudence to imagine such a thing of the greatest monarch on earth, who was strong enough to wage war against all the world united. The above is all I can say about the arming of ships, but when any fresh effort is made, I will send special reports by courier before the vessels can leave port.
Diego Botello is here, trying to get hold of the sugar and other property from Terceira, whilst I am preventing it. I understand that he is short of money, and that he is unable even to pay insignificant debts which Don Antonio left here owing to workmen. Although he had obtained an order raising the stop placed upon Don Antonio's ships, I have taken action about the robberies in such a way that I have managed to get an order that all the property they have stolen shall be discharged from the ships and warehoused, and if Botello does not provide fully sufficient security, it will be difficult for him, excepting at heavy cost, to take the ships to Rochelle, which is his object.
I am told that Cobham informs the Queen that small hopes are entertained of Don Antonio's fleet there (i.e., in France) coming to anything for want of money, and Diego Botello has been able to do very little here, at all events in the absence of Leicester.—London, 1st March 1582.
3 March
B. M. MSS. Add. 28702.
226. Memorandum from Cardinal De Cranvelle to the King on English affairs.
Several long letters have come from Don Bernardino de Mendoza, speaking in very variable and contradictory terms about Alençon's affairs, in consequence of the instability of the French and English. Alençon's proposition to the English council appears to be a sort of declaration of despair of his being able to carry through the intention of becoming master of the States of Flanders ; whilst Pinart's sharpness with him soon caused him to slacken in his French designs. On such a shifty foundation as this, however, no solid presumptions can be based ; and the only thing is to be ready to seize the favourable opportunity now afforded in the States, thanks to the industry and diplomacy of the Prince of Parma, as his Majesty will see by the French despatches ; and make an extreme effort, even if secretly, to raise the money necessary to obviate expense for the future. If we allow this opportunity to slip, as we have done before, we shall fruitlessly blame ourselves in future, as it is the only way to speedily expel Orange and reinstate his Majesty in the possession of his dominions, whilst bridling the English and French. All these plans of Alençon will sway to the interests of one or the other side, according to the amount of assurance and advantage they may give him in Flushing and Antwerp, whither, I must confess, I should not care if I were he, to go so poorly accompanied. As to the Queen's positive promise that she will marry him when he returns to England, I believe it no more than I ever did ; and we have no intelligence from any quarter either in France, Germany, the rebel States or even in England, that preparations are being made for raising troops. I need not say anything about the Prince of Parma's letters, as the confident hopes he gave us in his previous letters have been fully dealt with in anticipation of the present favourable outcome of his negotiations. The English with every good reason, are laughing at us for not carrying out the edict, (fn. 3) and may well think that we are prevented from doing so by the interests of our own subjects, or of the King himself, or else because we are quite unable to get together the large number of ships required to carry the merchandise. The alarm showed by the English at the stoppage of trade proved clearly how important it is to them, and I once more repeat what I have so often said, that nothing we could do here would so greatly disturb the English, or set them against the Queen and Council, as the stoppage of trade with Spain. (fn. 4) In this nobles and common people alike are interested, and as the feelings of many people are already greatly inflamed against the Queen, on account of religion and other things, her Council being divided and Ireland still in revolt, whilst she is in fear of the king of Scotland, some advantage would be gained, by God's help, by the seizure of all English ships. This could be done with safety as we have no ships in England, whilst many of theirs are here. The arrest might be made with all politeness, by saying that we take the step to obtain restitution of Drake's plunder, and other merchandise of which they have robbed us, and of which the ambassador has demanded the restoration with so little apparent result, as he will continue to do unless we second his efforts thus.
The Scotch affair appears to be of the highest importance, and so far as I can judge, Don Bernardino has hitherto managed it excellently, with great dexterity and care. He should be thanked for this and encouraged to continue to act with the same secrecy and dissimulation as heretofore. If possible, I should like him to discontinue writing letters about it, in case at any time they should fall into the hands of the queen of England. It is true, as he says, that his letter is very carefully worded, and is only a credence, but still I think that there will be no harm in warning him that, if the letter should come into the queen of England's hands, he is to firmly maintain that the only object of it was to exhort the king of Scotland to embrace the Catholic religion, and was inspired solely by Don Bernardino's zeal and attachment to the faith, and his desire to save the King's soul.
Don Bernardino is also acting very prudently in preventing any responsibility from being attached to the queen of Scotland, for the efforts made to break up the friendship between the English and French, no notice having been sent to her of Don Bernardino's wise and timely intervention.
The queen of Scotland's letter in French is of great importance, and Don Bernardino should be instructed to continue to entertain her and to justify himself for advocating the sending of Englishmen and not Scotsmen to attend to the religious matter, by explaining the very excellent reasons he gives. Money must be provided for him to sustain this negotiation, for such things are not done empty handed.
The forces requested by the Scots Catholics are very limited. They will be satisfied with 2,000 Italians ; and the pretext suggested, of Friesland is extremely apposite, the voyage from there to Scotland being very short, easy, and safe. Doubtless his Holiness will willingly contribute to this, a half the expense or more ; the number of Italians to go to Flanders being increased in proportion. Captain Mario Corso would be a very fit man to take charge ; he who volunteered to go with Sicilian and Neapolitan subjects of the King or Mario Canduino, who is here and speaks English, would do very well, as he knows the country and coast thoroughly. The affair is so important, both for the sake of religion and to bridle England, that no other can equal it, because by keeping the queen of England busy, we shall be ensured against her helping Alençon or daring to obstruct us in any other way.
The long-delayed reply to the queen of Scots should now be sent. From what I can recollect of the draft reply I indited and sent thither (i.e. to Badajoz where the King was at the time) without keeping a copy, I think it might be adapted to the present circumstances, since in the Queen's own letter she gives no assurance that her son is a Catholic, or will become one, as will be necessary if the marriage (fn. 5) is to be brought about. My draft reply said that whether the marriage was effected, on the assurance, of course, that the King would become a Catholic, or if on the contrary it fell through on religious grounds, his Majesty still wished to make an alliance with her and her son and to help them. It also expresses his approval of the deed of association she had executed with her son, of the wisdom of her reasons of which he is convinced—and it is now an accomplished fact. The Queen, in her letter, suggests that it would be well to grant pensions to some of the King's principal councillors, mentioning the names of some whom I do not know. Don Bernardino had better delay this question, until we see how things may turn out, by saying that he is instructed to inquire into the condition and qualities of these gentlemen, for the purpose of fixing the sums to be granted, without pledging us further for the present. Still if they really be the most powerful people in the country his Majesty would be the more certain if they were in his pay, particularly as, being needy, a little will content them.
It will be well to bring that Portuguese (fn. 6) away from England and give him the title if necessary, as it does not matter, and he received it from the King's predecessor, besides which he has already been once so addressed. He could then leave without Don Bernardino being called a liar, as the English are trying to call him, from no fault of his own, and it is necessary to keep up his credit.—Madrid, 3rd March 1582.
6th March. 227. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
On the 1st I wrote five letters in duplicate to your Majesty, and have learnt that the first despatch was thrown into the sea as the boat was attacked by pirates. I have triplicated it, and have since received the despatch of the 8th January with the first bill for the 3,000 crowns.
Leicester says that he left Alençon like an old hulk run ashore, high and dry without wind and tide, unable to get off the sandbank. He says the oath of allegiance of the rebel States was nothing but a joke and a hollow mockery. Marchaumont heard of this, and went to the Queen, complaining of Leicester's words, and that the rebels should have treated Alençon in such a way, making him the laughing stock of everybody. She swore that no such ceremony had been performed, and that the States would not think of doing such a thing until they had informed her, but that is all nonsense.
In consequence of the news she had from Cobham, the Queen had ordered a despatch to be sent to Alençon, and she afterwards summoned the Treasurer. He was ill of fever in London, but she sent word that he was to come to her in any case. She told him that as the king of France would not assist his brother, and the friendship of the latter could not much be depended upon, seeing his lightness of behaviour, she thought it would be best to make friends with your Majesty and the House of Burgundy. He replied that nothing would suit her better, especially if peace could be brought about in the Netherlands by liberty of conscience being conceded to the Protestants, for which they had suffered for so many years. She afterwards spoke to Sussex upon the subject. who replied that it was the best thing for the tranquillity of her realm, and that she must now choose speedily between two courses, either to become reconciled to your Majesty or marry Alençon, as it would be very dangerous to procrastinate much longer. After these conversations Stafford, who had translated the letter for Alençon from English to French, asked Walsingham when it would be sent. He replied that it would not go now, as the Queen had altered her mind, and was inclined to renew the treaties with your Majesty, whilst procuring the total ruin of those who, incited by her, had forwarded the war. He said that he hoped the humour would not last long, as otherwise it would turn out entirely to her disadvantage, as the Prince of Orange would immediately have all the fortresses placed in the hands of the French, which would cause greater harm to England than could be done by all your Majesty's treasure.
When my second confidant was talking over this with Sussex, he asked him whether he thought that the Queen inclined to seek your Majesty's friendship ; to which Sussex replied that, although she exhibited many signs of it, he was afraid it was only a trick to see whether I should rise to it, and to discover the disposition of her Councillors. Because, he said, although the Treasurer persuaded her secretly to be friendly with your Majesty, he spoke very coolly about it in the Council, the result of which would be that the opposite side, who are now paramount, would have more influence over the Queen.
Marchaumont has seen the Queen in private audience, solely for the purpose of begging money for Alençon. She was very dissatisfied, and referred the answer to some members of the Council, who have not yet resolved upon it. Cecil, Sussex, the Admiral, and others, are of opinion that nothing whatever should be given to him, unless he marry the Queen ; whilst the rest say that the rebels must be supported. Each one gives his own reasons privately to the Queen, and, between them, they have made her so perplexed and ill-tempered that it is noticed by every one, as she rudely scolds all the ladies and others in the Chamber. Walsingham, after this Council, told a friend of his, with great anger, that he had no idea that the Queen had so many Spanish Councillors as were in Council the day before.
The other day the Queen had a great squabble with Leicester, whom she told that he had only gone to Flanders for his own ostentation, and to make light of Alençon. Besides which, he had thought fit to be present when the ceremony of investing Alençon with the mantle and cap of duke of Brabant had been performed, whereby it was inferred that the Queen had sent one of her principal Councillors to assist by his presence at the investiture, and to violate the peace with your Majesty. She used the most scandalous words to him, and ended by saying that he was a traitor, as was all his stock, and that it was a planned thing between him and Orange, in order that the latter might be able to continue his tyranny with greater assurance. She then called Walsingham a rogue for having incited Alençon to go to the Netherlands, wherefrom, she said, he would only reap infamy from all Christian princes.
She has written a letter to him (Alençon) with her own hand, which Sussex told Marchaumont contained, in substance, that he was not to trust overmuch that Flemish rabble, and not to engage himself too deeply in the enterprise, unless with full assurance and due regard for his own position and dignity. She asked him not to resent her avoidance of a breach with your Majesty, as she was not only pledged by old friendship to avoid war but it was necessary also for her own reputation. He must, therefore, not think her inconsiderate if, upon this point, she went beyond the King his brother ; her sufficient excuse being that this was not a matter which touched her alone, but concerned the common welfare and quietude of her realm, and the maintenance of good faith between princes.
She hears from Antwerp that Alençon is thinking of leaving for France within a fortnight, in order to raise money and men, and persuade his brother to break with your Majesty. She has therefore resolved to send a gentleman to him, but his despatches are not ready.
I understand that whilst Leicester was in Antwerp, he, Orange, Lord Hunsdon, and Prince d'Epinoy met in a room alone, and after they had been conversing for some time they were joined by two burgesses of Antwerp, and presently by two from Ghent, who had just arrived, booted and spurred. Each one brought a key, and, bringing out a casket with four locks, they opened it and exhibited to Leicester and the others a gold cup set with many precious stones, and the "Landsjewel" which is a carbuncle, and other gems. Leicester was so much enamoured with it that he asked them why they had not sent it to London, as if the Queen had seen it she would have done anything they liked. They then closed the casket and Leicester put his seal upon the lock, a deed then being drawn up, and signed by him, Hunsdon, Orange, and the four burgesses. I have not been able to learn its value or whether the casket came hither. They say the jewels came from one of the abbeys.—London, 6th March 1582.
228. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
Since my last, Diego Botello left this place for Plymouth, after having a conference with Leicester, the orders which I mentioned having been sent thither, commanding the sailors to return immediately to the ships. Walsingham and Leicester sent also very strict letters individually to the officers of the ports, urging their rigid compliance with the orders, and I am told in my last advices from Plymouth that 200 sailors and others had already returned to Don Antonio's four vessels. I doubt not that on Botello's arrival many more will also return, in consequence of the severe orders he takes with him, if he has any money with which to pay them. His design is to take the ships to Rochelle, and they are putting on board of them a part of the artillery which was being shipped in the vessel for Terceira. This would show that the object is to fit out an expedition in France, particularly as orders have been given for the ship that was to go to Terceira, to join the rest of Don Antonio's ships at Plymouth, for which purpose she has left this river. Those who have to do with the ships in Plymouth say that they are going to Bayona, Vigo, or Vianna, where Don Antonio has some scheme, but I repeat that from the first day I have seen clearly that all these vessels, and those being fitted in France, are destined for the coast of Brazil.
A Portuguese who calls himself a "Fidalgo," (fn. 7) who was in the ships of Don Antonio, intimated that he wished to see me, and that an Englishman who was on board the ships has been to Lisbon with letters from Don Antonio, and has returned, which, he says, proves that they are finding money for him there. I have sent and told him that he can come, and have provided him with money for the road ; my object being to see whether I can make any use of the man, in which case I will give instant advice to your Majesty. Although I am doing my utmost to hinder the success of Don Antonio's designs, and to detain his ships, Walsingham and Leicester counter-check me at every point. They summoned the Judge of the Admiralty to the Council, and blamed him much for the injury he was doing in proceeding in the matters of the robberies committed by Don Antonio's ships, and by those that came from Terceira. He exculpated himself with ambiguous expressions, but they again heaped reproaches upon him, and he at last said that he could not administer justice if, for their own ends, certain ministers addressed him upon the subject and forbade him by special orders from doing so. By this he meant Walsingham. Cecil rose from the table and said that it would be difficult for the Queen and Council to maintain peace with your Majesty, and for the Queen to do justice in her country, if the aims and interests of a particular minister were interposed to prevent it, whereby everything would be disturbed.
Frobisher is resolved not to go to the Moluccas with the four ships I mentioned, and the expedition will be commanded by the man who had been appointed his lieutenant. They are now being hurried off, and I am told that Frobisher has been in conference with Leicester, with the object of fitting out four more ships to go thither under his command.
It has been asserted here that a ship has recently arrived on the coast which had entered the South Sea with Drake, but there is no foundation for it, nor are they agreed as to what port she has arrived at, some saying that she is on the west coast, some on the north, some in Ireland, and others in the Downs. They have prohibited anyone from hearing Mass in Antwerp except Alençon's household.—London, 6th March 1582.
229. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
I send enclosed a copy of the letter the queen of Scotland has written to me, in reply to that in which I conveyed to her the resolution of the Scotch gentlemen. She requests me to communicate it to your Majesty, and for her part she is evidently doing her best to bring about the conversion of her son and the country. She points out, with much prudence and good sense, the undesirability of the Scots gentlemen even giving a sign of their intentions until everything is settled, and the forces that are to come to their aid ready for the work, in order that they may be able rapidly to be brought against those which this Queen may employ. I have replied as best I can, attributing to her management the favourable position in which Scots affairs now are, and encouraging her, as I always have done, in so holy and Christian a task, upon which depend all things which tend to her own happiness. With regard to what she says about ordering the Scotsmen now in Flanders to retire therefrom, saying that this will be very advantageous, when opportunity occurs, of paying them salaries in their own country, and placing them in charge of some of the castles and strong places, I point out that there is a danger in this, that the moment this Queen got the advantage of us these men would immediately change sides, as they have for so many years served the rebel States and Orange, and necessarily must be strongly attached to the cause of heresy wherever they are, since they have been ready to risk their lives for it. Although the chiefs may be trustworthy, yet, if the soldiers are faithless, nothing can prevent them from surrendering fortresses to whom they like. I have dwelt somewhat strongly upon this point to her, as it is most necessary that she should not count too much upon these soldiers for the reasons mentioned, as the Scots are naturally a faithless people, and it is very desirable for your Majesty's interests, with a view to French affairs, that the Scots forces should not be stronger than the foreign soldiers sent thither on your Majesty's behalf, and that upon these latter she must mainly depend. This is also necessary in the interests of the safety of the foreigners themselves, who would otherwise be at the mercy of the Scots.
I also ask her whether she wishes me to communicate with her ambassador the bishop of Glasgow if he arrives in Scotland, which she seem to hint at in her letter, as, in such case, I must arrange my correspondence with him before he leaves France. I also represented to her the difficulty which now exists in sending letters from here to Scotland in consequence of the vigilance on the borders, which will be certainly increased the moment her ambassador arrives in Scotland, as this Queen is extremely suspicious of matters there. She is determined to stop communications, not only from me, of whom but small suspicion exists, but from all Catholics here, and letters will therefore have to go by France, which is a great round. I think I have convinced her now that the priests that go should be Englishmen and not Scots.
The Queen says that she should not be doing her duty to your Majesty unless she pointed out that, in the event of the Scots having aid at their back and this Queen attempting action against them, which might cause the English Catholics to rise, it would be necessary to have the latter part of the business arranged for beforehand, but in such a way that they (the English Catholics) should not understand what is intended, and should be told nothing until everything was ripe and the matter ready to burst forth, as otherwise the whole plan might be frustrated. As I have already said, I am obliged now to manage the entire business, as the rest of the men concerned are in prison and cannot proceed with it. In general terms they know that it is going on well, and by this and other means I am trying to keep the Catholics here in a good humour, preparing all things for their friendly communication with your Majesty's minister when the proper time arrives.
It is also highly necessary for your Majesty to gain over the house of Howard, which is the richest in kinsmen and followers in the north of England, the part of the country most necessary to ensure. The head of the house is the earl of Arundel, son of the duke of Norfolk, and he has two brother ; the three being married to three sisters, daughters of a great gentleman in the north, (fn. 8) with whom their father linked them long before they were of an age to marry, in order to secure the devotion of the whole north country to his house. These three boys are very young still, but they have an uncle, a person of great valour and spirit, of whom I wrote to your Majesty on the 25th of December. (fn. 9) He completely rules his nephews, and constantly keeps before them the need for resenting the death of their father, and following the party of the queen of Scots, by whose means alone can they hope for vengeance. Leicester and Huntingdon, fearing this, have tried very hard to separate the uncle and nephews, and have pressed the Queen with this end, in the belief that, without their uncle, the lads will not be strong enough to take action when an opportunity occurs. This gentleman is in close connection with all the Catholic gentlemen in the kingdom, by whom he is greatly esteemed for the influence he has through his nephew, as well as for his own good parts. For this reason I have kept up a close intimacy with him, but still more in order to obtain from him news of everything that passes at court. In this way he serves your Majesty with greater intelligence and care than I can well say, his information being prompt and valuable, not a point ever being missed, as he writes to me twice every week minute details of all that passes touching France, Flanders, Scotland, and Don Antonio. He also lets me know everything that happens inside the palace, which he is well able to do. I am of opinion that it will be highly desirable for your Majesty to secure him at once, in order that he may not be persuaded to take the French side. The way will be for your Majesty to give him a pension commensurate to his rank, which should be paid quarterly. Two ends will be gained by this—first, we shall have won over the important house of Howard, and secondly, we shall have secured his personal co-operation. This is so valuable that, if he were a person to whom I could offer money without your Majesty's orders, I should give him many ducats every year in return for the information with which he furnishes me, and which I should have to purchase from others for more than its weight in gold, even if I could get it at all. The greatest risk we run, in the present state of Scotch affairs, is to have to pay him the pension at most for two or three years in periodical payments, and if it be treated as a pension the whole sum will not be a larger one than we should have to give such a man as this in one amount if we had to make him a present, which we shall be obliged to do in order to prevent the Howards, at any cost, from turning towards France.
He assures me that, seeing the many enemies he has in England, he is greatly desirous of rendering service to your Majesty, in order that, if he is unfortunate enough to be obliged to leave this country before he sees the queen of Scotland in the position he desires, your Majesty may receive him, and I have continued to hold out hopes of this to him. Leicester and Walsingham, finding that they have been unable, by false accusations, to discredit him with the Queen and banish him from Court, have now proposed that he will be a fitting person to be sent to Germany on the Queen's business, for the purpose of separating him from his nephews. I therefore humbly beg your Majesty, if you approve of what I say, to let me know at once what amount of pension you will grant him, as I may make this a means of preventing him from going to Germany or leaving the country. I can assure your Majesty that, without his communications, any Minister of yours here will be kept quite in the dark, as no one else will be able to do as this man does, besides which we shall not be sure of holding the Howards, as we ought to be, in view of Scotch affairs. I sent last night a clergyman to the duke of Lennox with the queen of Scotland's despatch.— London, 3rd March 1582.
Postscript.—I have had this letter written for three days, awaiting the passport for the special courier by whom I send it, as I dare not trust it to any one else. I am writing to Tassis, begging him to send it on by safe hands from Paris.—London, 6th March 1582.
230. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
After closing the three letters now sent, my first confidant informs me that he has read with his own eyes the letter to the Queen from the king of France, telling her that she must not expect that he will break with your Majesty, or help his brother to make war in the Netherlands. If she marries his brother, it must be for the purpose of bringing about a general peace. The courier said he left Secretary Pinart at Dover, but I do not know how true this is. The gentleman I mentioned that the Queen was sending to Alençon has gone to offer him 15,000l., without the knowledge of the Treasurer.—London, 6th March 1582.
7 March.
Paris Archives, K. 1559.
231. The Duke Of Lennox to J. B. Tassis.
The bearer of the present is William Creighton, a Jesuit, who has come hither and told me that he was sent to me by the Pope and the king of Spain. He brought with him a letter of credence from the Scots ambassador, and subsequently there arrived here another Jesuit, an Englishman, (fn. 10) with a letter for me from the Spanish ambassador in London, from which it appears that your King and the Pope wish to make use of me in the design they have in hand to restore the Catholic religion and release the queen of Scotland, according to Creighton's communication to me.
In the belief that this enterprise is undertaken for the advantage of the queen of Scotland and the King her son, and that the latter will be confirmed and maintained on his throne by his mother's consent, I am prepared to employ my life and estate in the carrying out of the same, on condition that I am supplied with all the things set forth in a statement taken by this bearer. (fn. 11)
In accordance with the reply you may send me I will go at once to France to carry out the enterprise, as it cannot be done without my going thither, for the reasons which I have told the bearer. Please give entire credit to what he says on my behalf, as if I personally were there.—Dalkeith, 7th March 1582.


  • 1. The Spanish judge at the Canary islands.
  • 2. The large ships reported by Cabrera off the Canary isles were no doubt the French privateer fleet under Philip Strozzi, which appeared before St. Michael's on the 15th July and suffered so terrible a reverse at the hands of the Spanish Admiral, the Marquis of Santa Cruz.
  • 3. The prohibition of export from Spain in English bottoms, except under very severe restrictions.
  • 4. In the King's hand :—"I fully agree with all this, there is great laxity everywhere [...] remind me."
  • 5. i.e., the projected marriage of James VI. with the Infanta.
  • 6. Don Antonio de Castillo, who had been Portuguese ambassador in England until the death of King Henry of Portugal, and the accession of Philip to the crown. The difficulty arose from his having no commission from the new King, and consequently that his quality as ambassador had lapsed, unless he was allowed to call himself ambassador of King Philip, who, of course, had a regular ambassador in England. See Mendoza to the King, page 284.
  • 7. i.e., a gentleman. The word in its Portuguese form is often used by Spaniards jocosely and satirically.
  • 8. Lord Dacre.
  • 9. Lord Henry Howard.
  • 10. William Holt.
  • 11. See letter of 18th May 1582, Tassis to the King of Spain.