Simancas: March 1582, 16-31

Pages 317-321

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, 16-31

19 March. 232. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
On the 6th I wrote four letters by special courier, and since then a servant of Pinart arrived with letters from the king of France and his mother, which gave rise to the rumour that Pinart had himself arrived at Dover. I advised the purport of the letters in my last, and Cobham writes to the Queen saying that the last time he saw the King he found him extremely vexed and changed in his tone towards the Queen, of whom he bitterly complained for having, simply for her own caprice, done her best to degrade the Royal House of France. He swore that, so far as he was concerned, he would wash his hands of the folly his brother had committed in trusting thus a fickle woman, who behaved more in accordance with the fancies of those who ruled her than with sense and reason, and he said that, if his brother had taken his advice, he would have attained much greater prosperity by easier and safer means, instead of allowing himself to become the plaything of a woman's inconstancy, which changed like the wind from hour to hour. The King became so enraged that Cobham, in order to mollify him, replied that it was not the Queen's fault that the marriage had not taken place, as she had frankly offered to effect it if he would relieve her of the cost of the war in Flanders. The King replied that he was not so foolish as his brother, to allow himself to be deceived as he had been, and he would advise the Queen to proceed more straightforwardly with him unless she wanted to repent of her artfulness. He said the conditions he had granted were fully sufficient, and he would not go further in the matter until he had his brother's reply to guide him in his decision.
He also complained of Sussex, who he said, had caused his brother to go over, and had been the first one to incite the Queen to get out of her promise made when she gave the ring.
The moment she received these letters, before she had time to summon the Council, she replied to Cobham, telling him to assure the King of France, that if the conditions proposed were complied with, there was nothing that she desired more than to marry. She has also secretly told Sussex to deal with Marchaumont to renew the contract of marriage with the intervention of the Council. He said he could hardly do so for two reasons ; first, because she had on so many occasions displayed her natural repugnance to marriage, which convinced him that she would never conclude it, and he thought therefore that it would be better to excuse herself for the past offences she had committed towards the French, rather than exasperate them with new ones. The second reason was that, even if she could bring herself to force her inclination to marriage, it was not now so advisable as formerly that she should do so ; because, although Alençon was a fit prince for her husband, he was embarked in the Netherlands enterprise, and it would be extremely dangerous for her to unite with him now, and burden herself with the maintenance of the war, which would press hardly upon England, even were it against a less powerful Prince than your Majesty. He, Sussex, said he should be a bad vassal and servant if he did not advise her, if she married him, to persuade him to abandon the war and the style of duke of Brabant. The Queen assured him that if Alençon married her, the evils of the Netherlands war would be avoided, and she would influence him to retire therefrom. On the same day the Queen went to see Cecil who was ill of the gout, and addressed him in the same way as she had Sussex. He replied that matters had now reached a point when all the scruples which might intervene had been removed. The people were satisfied with Alençon personally, he having twice run the risk of coming to see her, and it was therefore desirable that she should herself decide the question, without further discussion on the part of the Council, as, after all, she would be sure to alter their decision, to the great danger of herself and her realm, added to which it was of the highest importance to bear in mind that Alençon was now pledged to the Netherlands war, and, to judge from appearances, his brother was more likely to oppose than assist him. After this the Queen saw Marchaumont, to whom she swore that nothing would please her better than to marry, on condition that her kingdom was not prejudiced. She asked him in such case to persuade his master to retire from the Netherlands until she had arranged with his brother to break with your Majesty. Marchaumont seized the opportunity to propose to go to Flanders for the purpose, and to take the money she was sending him. The Queen consented to this, but after discussing it with the Council, she told him it was better he should not go. He has therefore been detained, but the 15,000l. in the form of bars brought by Drake has been secretly brought out of the Tower at night and shipped, under the pretence that it only amounted to about six or seven thousand. The people in general and some of the Councillors resent the money being given to him. Sussex and Cecil opposed it, but they will dissemble.
Diego Botello is still in Plymouth, whither a fresh order of the Council has been sent to him to enable him to take three out of the four ships of Don Antonio to France, the other vessel, called the "White Bear" remaining here, this being the largest. The captains and sailors are to declare the names of those to whom they have sold the plunder, in order that proceedings may be taken against them. I have men there pushing the matter on, in order to throw further obstacles in the way of their leaving, but Leicester and Walsingham with their private letters upset all the arrangements I can make with the Council. I can get no answer from them about the sugar at Bristol and elsewhere. The ships for the Moluccas are ready to sail and await another ship from the Thames, which is to join them.—London, 19th March 1582.
233. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
Many councils have been held here lately about Ireland, at one of which the Queen was present, in the Treasurer's apartment, he being, as I report elsewhere, ill of the gout. The principal point discussed was the desolation of the country by the war, to such an extent that the receivers of taxes report that, in place of the ordinary reveuue reaching, as it did before the war, some 70,000l., they cannot count upon gathering more than 10,000l. if the war continues. Various remedies were proposed but no resolution was adopted. I understand that the Queen has not altogether in the island 1,000 soldiers, horse and foot, and that the country is completely exhausted. They greatly blame the Viceroy, who, they say, has spent more and gained less than any before, and has quite alienated the Irish from the Queen. By the persuasion of Leicester he accused the earl of Ormond of treason on the information of Captains Malbey, Denny and Maulez (?) ; and as Ormond saw that the Queen was lending ear to it, he determined to come hither and give an account of himself by virtue of a privilege granted him years ago, when he was the Queen's favourite, which allows him to leave Ireland when he pleases without consulting the Viceroy. The latest letters, dated 1st instant, report that he was ready to embark, and that Feagh MacHugh who some months ago declared himself against the Queen, has laid down his arms.
Leicester and his gang have also been urging the Queen to behead the earl of Kildare, who is a prisoner in Dublin Castle, on the ground that he was imprisoned before and nothing was proved against him, and if he is restored to liberty now, for the second time, he will certainly seek revenge, greatly to the injury of England. When the countess of Lincoln, the wife of the Admiral, heard of this she petitioned the Queen to have her brother's cause tried, and if he be found guilty of acting against the Queen that he may be punished, and if otherwise, released. The Queen has conceded this. This Queen's partizans (in Scotland) have sent a special envoy to inform her that it would be well for her to press forward the marriage of the king of Scotland with the daughter of the king of Denmark, which had been discussed previously. When Walsingham took the message to her he urged the matter warmly, pointing out to her how important it was that the King should marry a person of their own religion. The Queen asked him why he was worrying her so about marrying the boy before he was out of the shell,' and said that there would be time for that afterwards.
There are some great plots being carried on through Leicester and Walsingham with the earl of Angus, the nephew of Morton, and other rebels here, with the object of getting possession of the King. Besides the offers I have already mentioned they made to the earl of Arran, they are promising him fresh things every day, and have sent money to gain over people and make head against d'Aubigny ; Arran being the man who now leads the Protestants, and especially the ministers, who are becoming daily more suspicious of a change of religion. For this reason it is of great importance that your Majesty should send me instructions as to how I am to deal with the Scots, in order that they may not lose heart, as they are already so distrustful of help being sent them. I have informed the queen of Scotland of this, and sent her despatch immediately to d'Aubigny ; so as to animate and comfort them. I have also written again to the Jesuit Father William Holt to continue in the same course. The Scottish Jesuit William Creighton, a prudent and learned man, has also been sent thither from France, and has been extremely well received. Father Persons assures me that as soon as he receives the money I have sent him to Rheims, another priest will leave for Scotland.
The Scottish ministers inform this Queen that his Holiness and the Christian princes have sent a personage to the king of Scotland recommending him to request his mother's release.—London, 19th March 1582.
20 March. 234. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
At seven o'clock this evening, whilst I am writing this, there arrived news here that on Sunday the 18th, the day before yesterday, between twelve and one in the day, a Biscayan Spaniard, servant of Gaspar de Añastro, (fn. 1) a merchant formerly in Antwerp, shot a harquebuss at Orange, the ball entering under the ear, and, according to some statements, coming out in a slanting direction over the other ear. Alençon immediately sent a burgomaster of Antwerp to Flushing, with the news that treason had broken out. He arrived there at night of the 18th, and at once sent news over here, arresting all ships excepting the English vessel that brought the intelligence. The burgomaster said that, although the wound was not mortal, they were afraid the bullet was poisoned.—London, 20th March 1582.
27 March. 235. Secretary Mateo Vasquez to Bernardino De Mendoza.
The King has conferred upon him the commandership of Peñausende in the order of knighthood of Santiago, on his relinquishing the pension of 500 ducats he receives in Naples.— Lisbon, 27th March 1582.


  • 1. Gaspar de Añastro, formerly a wealthy merchant, had been ruined by the war, and appears to have suggested the attempt to the lad Juan de Jauregui as a means partly of rehabilitating his fortunes by the reward placed upon the head of Orange, and partly impelled by religious fanaticism. It was generally believed by the Flemish protestants at the time that Alençon was at the bottom of it.