Simancas: April 1582, 16-30

Pages 339-352

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

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April 1582, 16-30

16 April. 247. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
Since my last three letters of the 11th, the Queen has news from Antwerp, saying that they have made an experiment on a man condemned to death to see whether they could stop the vein which Orange's wound had severed, but they found they could not do it by any means, nor prevent the bleeding. They have continued, in the case of Orange, the treatment I described before, namely, that of pressing the vein constantly with the finger, relays of persons being kept in attendance for the purpose. This unheard-of way retains the blood but his sufferings are dreadful.
The thing is looked upon here as irremediable, and as they have no news since the 10th, they believe it is all over, as otherwise they would get news hourly.—London, 16th April 1582.
20 April. 248. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
On the 14th Alderman Barnes of London left here for Southampton, charged with the dispatch of the four ships I have so often mentioned as going to the Moluccas, which he is to send off immediately. Although I have given an account of these ships before, it will be well, as they are ready to leave, that I should now send a statement in detail about them.
The ship which left the Thames, called the "Edward Buenaventura" (fn. 1) is of 300 tons, armed with thirty-six great cast-iron pieces, and carrying 100 men, the other ship is of 500 tons and takes 200 men, being armed with 70 cannon. There is a pinnace also of 40 tons given by Drake, and which carries 35 men ; in addition to which there is a small craft of 14 tons. Amongst these three hundred and odd men there are some gentlemen and excellent sailors, as the Council gave licenses to press the most suitable men for the voyage. Some of those who went with Drake accompany them, whilst six men who go have already been in the Moluccas, and, having lived for eight years in the Portuguese Indies, are well acquainted with the coast. The pilot of the principal ship is a Terceira Portuguese, called Simon Fernandez, a heretic who has lived here for some years, and is considered one of the best pilots in the country. They take victuals for two years, and the cost of the expedition will reach 12,000l. in addition to 4,000l. or 5,000l. worth of merchandise.
Their intention is to sail from here to Cape Blanco in Barbary, where they will water and then continue their voyage. From what I have heard lately from persons who have been in communication with Drake and others, and have seen the secret chart of the voyage, I infer that their course is to be different from that which they originally intended, which was to go to the Cape of Good Hope and thence start for the Moluccas. The intention is now to run down the coast of Brazil to Port St. Julian and the Straits of Magellan, which Drake discovered not to be a strait at all, and that the land which in the maps is carried Tierra del Fuego is not a part of a continent, (fn. 2) but only very large islands with canals between them. When Winter, who was one of those who went with Drake, returned hither, I wrote to your Majesty that he with the other three ships had entered the Straits, but after he had proceeded eighty leagues therein, he was separated from the other ships by a storm on the 6th of September, which storm he says was the greatest that ever he had experienced. He then steered south with a north-west wind towards Tierra del Fuego, which is in the Strait itself, and was seeking a port until the 28th of October, without being able to find one. At the end of this time, in order to find out where he was, he took observations and found that he was in the same latitude as the mouth of the Straits. He therefore concluded that what Magellan described as straits and the continent were really channels and islands, all the way from Puerto Grande to Cape Deseado and from Cape Bonaseñal to that of Maestre, as they are marked on the maps, since he had run for 54 days without finding a port. Drake who had a fair wind and fine weather ran back to reconnoitre in the same direction as that in which he had been driven by the storm and then sailing north outside the islands which look like a strait, and entering the South Sea, proceeeded to Panama from whence, after he had committed the robberies, he sailed to the Moluccas and returned by the Cape of Good Hope. (fn. 3)
That the straits are really formed by islands is proved by what happened to Winter, because, after having proceeded for 80 leagues, the storm carried him back to Port St. Julian (fn. 4) without his again passing out of the opening by which he had entered, which made cosmographers here think that Winter had not entered the straits at all. Although he affirmed that the straits were formed by islands, he was not believed until Drake himself returned, who has not explained the secret to any one but some of the councillors and the chiefs of this expedition who placed before him the danger which would be run by sending these ships whilst your Majesty had so large a fleet in the Straits of Magellan. Drake replied, "So much the better ; as they were thus assured that your Majesty's vessels would stay there and keep guard to prevent anyone entering the South Sea" ; but, after all, they would find themselves deceived, as it was not continent but only very large islands, and there was the open sea beyond Tierra del Fuego. The person who has given me this statement, although he saw Drake's chart and has discussed it with him, does not understand navigation and cosmography sufficiently to tell me exactly the degrees of latitude, but only asserts the point that the land consists of islands and not continent. I am obliged to give your Majesty an example in order to make my meaning more clear, as to what happened in the straits to Drake and Winter. Suppose Ireland were as near to France as are the Scilly Isles, and Drake's three ships had left Nantes for the purpose of entering this Channel, in the belief that the Irish Sea was a strait, and that the tempest had there overtaken him, Winter running up St. George's Channel and emerging into the high seas running round Ireland would return that way to Nantes, whilst Drake, sailing round Scotland and returning by the high sea to below Cape Clear, which would be about the same latitude as the mouth by which he had entered, he would therefore prove that it was not a strait but channels between islands as he had reached the same point by way of Hamburg. (fn. 5)
These ships expect to bring back 500 tons of spices, and they have already calculated the amount which will accrue to each adventurer. They are so confident about it that they are fitting out other ships for a similar voyage, and it would therefore be very desirable that, wherever these ships are encountered, they and every man on board of them should be sent to the bottom and these expeditions stopped, as their effrontery has reached such a pitch that the Councillors even openly say that they will send to these islands or wherever else they think proper to trade and conquer. As it seems to me highly important to discover the truth of these statements which are made by Drake in all confidence, and believed by the Councillors, I would suggest that your Majesty's fleet, which was sent to the Straits of Magellan, should be ordered to thoroughly explore their position.—London, 20th April 1582.
22 April. 249. The Queen Of Scotland to Bernardino De Mendoza.
I have received intelligence of the danger in which the Prince of Orange recently was in consequence of the great loss of blood from a wound under the eye. I praise God for this, seeing the advantage which may accrue to His church and to the King my brother (Philip) who is now its principal protector.
If you think that His Majesty will be willing now to take in hand the affairs of this island with the aim of establishing the Catholic religion and frustrating this Queen's designs on the Netherlands by keeping her busy at home, I am of opinion that our object would be greatly forwarded by your encouraging the principal Catholics of this country, so many of whom you know, although most of them are already well disposed towards me. I shall always be willing to employ my life and everything I have in this world in order to push this matter well forward, that is to say, with such promptitude and care as will produce the desired effect. The extreme persecution of the Catholics here, I am told, is causing many of them to think of shaking off the oppression, the only thing needful being foreign support ; so that if we can once succeed with Scotland, there is every appearance of our being able to bring about some great good to this country. I thank you affectionately for the good advice you have given me about the succession to this Crown, in which matter, if it be formally taken in hand I will certainly not fail to take the necessary action publicly, whilst at the same time endeavouring to direct it through my friends as much as possible. —Sheffield, 22nd April 1582.
23 April.
Paris Archives. K. 1447. 130.
250. The King to Bernardino De Mendoza. (fn. 6)
The present letter is especially to reply to yours of 9th February and 6th March about Scotland. I was glad to see the letter the queen of Scotland had written to you and also the good reception which Father William Holt received from the principal councillors of the King, as well as the negotiations which were being carried on by her and the Catholics of the country with a view to its conversion. Before going further I wish signally to thank you for all your care in a matter which is especially for God's service, and is consequently looked upon by me with the greatest regard. Of the four methods proposed by the Catholics for the conversion of the country, the first, that of preaching is certainly the mildest and surest, the rest being risky and needing much consideration. It might not be so easy for the Catholics to seize the Government in a way which would allow them to utilise the King. The other suggestion of deposing him pending the arrival of his mother, unless he were to become a Catholic, offers great objections, and is also against their oath. The Queen, moreover, being absent and a prisoner, great confusion would arise as to the persons to administer the government. The last plan of deporting him out of the country to convert him will be almost the same as deposing him, and the conversion will still be in doubt. Their remark that, if none of these methods succeed they and their families will abandon their homes and properties, if carried out will simply make amendment impossible altogether and must not be thought of, but they must dissemble and be patient, awaiting the means that God will provide. You will therefore use every effort to prevent them from despairing on the one hand, or rashly precipitating matters on the other to their own damage. Great care and caution must be exercised and zeal must not outstrip discretion until the affair be ripe, and I enjoin you for your part to keep this well in view. From what the Queen writes to you she appears to be well alive to all this, as she strives for the conversion by reading and persuasion, and is also aware that the best time for sending foreign aid would be after the pacification of Flanders. Although she herself has sometimes hinted at conveying her son out of Scotland, you may, in your own name, point out to her the evils of this course and reply to her on my behalf on all other points. Say that I desire to see her free, and herself and her son safe, with religion restored all over the island. She will always find in me the same attachment and goodwill as hitherto, and I beg she will continue her efforts to enlighten her son and bring him to the true path. Urge her to strive to unite the efforts of all those Catholics towards gaining ground quietly, whilst things are being brought to the point when it will be possible to aid them with foreign troops, and, in the case she mentions, of the pacification of Flanders, I will not fail to furnish such aid, and even before then, if possible. It is most important, however, that she should advise me through you how her son receives her counsel and admonition as regards his conversion, upon whom she can depend in Scotland, whom she distrusts, what troops there are, what fortified places, what port of debarkation could be provided for foreign troops, what may be expected from France ; from England we well know what we may expect. In short, you may let her know that when I thoroughly understand the state of affairs, and fair and honest conditions are proposed to me, they will find me most willing to reciprocate with help and friendship, and I will use my influence with the Pope to the same end. I have no doubt that his Holiness would render assistance, at least in money, if the King were to give hopes of becoming a Catholic. This is what you will say to the Queen. As to her suggestion that some of the principal Scotsmen should be gradually won over to my side by presents, with a view to the conversion of the country, it will be well to communicate with her on the subject and ask her whether it will be best to give them pensions as she says, or offer them rewards in accordance with the service they may render. If she thinks it will be better to give them pensions, (although this course rarely turns out well) you will inform me as to the persons who should receive them and to what amount.
Whilst this is being discussed and things are being prepared for a successful result, you will use your best efforts to carry forward the sending thither of preachers from England and France, with the same dissimulation as hitherto, and you may aid with money the priests who go on that errand, for which purpose a credit of 2,000 crowns was recently sent you, and more shall be provided as required. Your communications with the Scottish Catholics had better be verbal, by means of trustworthy persons, rather than by letter, the loss or miscarrying of which might cause suspicion to the French and others who might undermine the business.
With regard to your departure, as the queen of Scotland thinks (as I hear through other channels) that it would militate much against these negotiations, and you yourself will recognise this, I beg you to reconcile yourself to staying there as long as I may consider necessary for the object in view, and attend to all my affairs with your accustomed diligence. In the meanwhile we will be on the look out here for a fitting person to send under the pretext of demanding especially the restoration of Drake's plunder as you suggest.
As you consider it necessary to oblige that gentleman (fn. 7) who influences the house of Howard, please advise fully what should be given to him and in what form. We will then decide, and in the meanwhile you will keep him in hand as cleverly as usual.— St. Ubes, 23rd April 1582.
25 April. 251. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
I reported to your Majesty that Antonio de Castillo had taken leave of the Queen, and as your Majesty's Treasury officers in Portugal were so tardy in sending him his wages, as had been ordered by your Majesty years ago, whereat these people began to cavil and raise a thousand suspicions, I thought that it was not decorous in your Majesty's interests, and for many reasons, that he should stay here any longer ; and I arranged his departure, making myself responsible for the greater part of his debts, borrowing money on my own responsibility to pay the most pressing ones and to provide means for his voyage. He will therefore sail in an English ship with the first fair wind, as I think this the safest way, I having arranged through third persons for the Queen to give him a safe conduct to all her allies, ordering the captain in her own name to take him safely to Portugal, so that if anything untoward happens to him she will be responsible. Before sending him the letters and the usual present, to the value of 800 ducats in silver, Walsingham sent to tell him that he wanted to see him, as he had a message from the Queen for him. Antonio de Castillo went to him, with my consent. Walsingham told him that, although the Queen had resolved not to write to your Majesty until you gave her some satisfaction about Ireland, she would nevertheless take this opportunity of doing so. He said that the fact of the Queen's having sent so many envoys to your Majesty to propose a renewal of her treaties with you, none of which envoys your Majesty had received, had caused her to become reconciled to the French, who had always previously been her enemies. Although, he said, your Majesty had ambassadors here who did as they liked in their own houses, her ambassadors were not allowed the same privileges in Spain. Walsingham has publicly repeated this, and the Treasurer said the same thing to two Spaniards here, whilst secretly sounding them as to whether I was authorised to renew the treaties. He always harps upon the fact that, as I have liberty for my religion here, the same right should be given to the Queen's ambassadors.
I can only suspect that they are stirring up this matter for the purpose of finding an excuse for expelling me, to which end Leicester, Hatton, and Walsingham are always working, and pointing out to the Queen that, as your Majesty has an ambassador here, she ought to have one in Spain on similar conditions. As the point is so important a one, I humbly beg your Majesty to instruct me how I am to proceed if they address me on the matter, and I repeat that, for this and other reasons, it is highly advisable that a man should be sent hither authorised, if necessary, to replace me, on the pretext of a special mission, so that if these people force me to leave, the communications with the queen of Scotland may not be discontinued.
For the reasons which I laid before them, the Councillors have desisted from their intention of seizing the property which might arrive from the coast of Brazil, as a reprisal for the ship which I mentioned had been detained there. The ship escaped from port and arrived here on the 22nd, having left sixteen men on shore.
At my request the Council ordered the restitution to the representatives of the owners of the sugars from the caravel seized under Don Antonio's letters of marque, by which means I have succeeded only in preventing them only from falling into the hands of Don Antonio, since the owners themselves will reap no advantage, as the Admiral of that part of the coast demands 1,000l. sterling besides the costs incurred, which is about the value of the merchandise. I am also assisting another Portuguese from whom Silva took six hundred quintals of woad at Terceira, and for the ransom of which Botello made him give a bill.
News arrives from Terceira of 15th March, that Antonio de Rivero had delivered letters to Cipriano de Figueredo from Don Cristobal de Mora, with great promises in your Majesty's name, which Rivero had sent to Don Antonio, and at the same time had gone to de Silva and told him that, as a man was coming with similar papers to St. Michael's, he should be instantly seized and punished.
They report also that a caravel had arrived from Lisbon, from which there had landed a native of the island named Gaspar, who had in the name of your Majesty and the Chamber of Lisbon represented to Silva and the Governor the punishment that would befall them if they continued in their contumacy. They replied that they acknowledged Don Antonio as their King, and as he had ordered them to defend themselves, your Majesty need not trouble yourself to send similar admonitions to them.—London, 25th April 1582.
252. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
The Queen has received intelligence, dated the 15th, that Orange is now only seen by the doctors, and although the flow of blood had been stopped, he was so weak that there were no hopes of his recovering, and much surprise existed that he had survived so long, as it was whispered by some of the Councillors that he died on the 10th, although they kept the news secret, in order that the oath of allegiance to Alençon might continue to be taken. There are letters from foreigners in Antwerp of the 15th confirming it, but I do not venture to assert its truth until fresh confirmation arrives.
Alençon has written to the Queen, saying that when the rebel States learnt of Orange's peril, they had sent special representatives to him, with the assurance that, if Orange died, they would acknowledge him, Alençon, as their sovereign. This has been published by Marchaumont, who exhibits letters in Alençon's own hand, expressing certainty that he might now possess the States, especially in view of the fair answer brought by M. de la Nouville from his brother, who, since he had heard of Orange's dangerous wound, had less desire to interfere in the business.
Leicester, Hatton, and Walsingham have endeavoured to persuade the Queen that it is desirable for her to openly take the States under her protection, as she could then settle with your Majesty on better terms, whereas if she lets this opportunity pass she can only look for ruin ; because, if either your Majesty, or Alençon and the French, get possession of the country, neither one nor the other could be trusted. This view they have enforced by many arguments, but they have been opposed by Cecil and Sussex when the matter was discussed in the Council, and the question therefore remained undecided. When it was referred to the Queen, I understand that she complained greatly, saying what a miserable state was hers, since the death of a single person made all her Councillors tremble and her subjects lose their courage. This was seized upon as an excuse for her to take up with greater warmth than ever the talk about the marriage, and she swears and protests publicly now that she is determined to marry. She asked Sussex again to write in her name to Alençon, saying that when he had made peace with your Majesty, or otherwise had avoided the necessity for her to contribute anything to the war in Flanders, she would immediately marry him, to which she would pledge her faith as a Queen, and her oath as a Christian. Sussex refused to write, and said that he wanted to have no more to do with a thing that he knew was repugnant to the Queen's nature, and begged her not to order him to write, but to be content with his having been the cause of injuring her reputation so many times before, to which he had been impelled by others, who made him their tool, in order to avoid loss of credit to themselves. The Queen nevertheless resolved to give the message to Alençon's gentleman Pruneaux, who was here. She has tried to get Marchaumont also to induce the king of France to write her a letter, undertaking to break with your Majesty if she marries his brother, with which she said she would be satisfied, although if afterwards the king of France did not think fit to fulfil his promise she would not press him to do so unless he was quite willing. Alençon has been urging this point strongly, but the King has hitherto refused. The Queen is therefore now jealous of the French, to such an extent that when Walsingham came to see her on business the other day she said : "You knave, you ought to have your head off your shoulders, for having urged the going of Alençon to Antwerp, where he is now trying to get hold of the seaports ; but they shall see whether I will coolly put up with that." Walsingham did not answer a word to this.
I understand that when Leicester went with Alençon, he asked Orange why he did not proclaim himself duke of Brabant, instead of having Alençon recognised as such. Orange replied that it was from no want of courage, but only because, as the Queen of England was so alarmed at war with your Majesty, he was obliged to turn to the French.
On the 15th the Queen sent to Alençon the 15,000l. which had been brought out of the Tower in ten boxes, each of which took four men to lift. They were put on board a fly-boat, which took them to Gravesend, where they shipped on board an English vessel called the "Giles," which conveyed them to Antwerp.
On the morning of the 22nd the Queen and Council resolved to confer the Order of the Garter on Alençon, on St. George's Day, but at a meeting of the Council the same night they changed their minds, in order not to have to address him by more titles than the dukedoms he had in France, whilst Marchaumont said his master would not accept the order unless he was acknowledged first as duke of Brabant, and the proposal was therefore suspended.— London, 25th April 1582.
26 April. 253. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
The enclosed despatch has been detained until now for a passport, and in the meanwhile letters came to the Queen from Antwerp, dated on the morning of the 16th. They report that the vein in Orange's head had again broken out, and he had lost twelve ounces of blood, whereupon the surgeons said that the wound must again be cut open, which could only be done at great risk, whilst his life otherwise could not possibly be saved. Another letter dated on the night of the same day afterwards arrived, saying that he had since become much worse and was expiring. The Lord Chancellor says that, judging from what they write he can only escape by a miracle, whilst Sussex and Lord Montague say that it was of no use to count upon him any more, as they believe he died days ago. If such be not the case, it may be looked upon, as I have said before, as a special judgment of God that he should suffer these torments as a foretaste of the punishment which he will have to endure for his abominations. I hear that the Queen has sent a letter to Alençon, saying that if he would return here she would certainly marry him, and that the marriage should not stand in the way of the continuance of the war, so long as she and her subjects were not called upon to contribute to it, whilst she assured him that if the war was continued and the marriage did not take place, she would be his mortal enemy, and would spend the last coin in her treasury, and the last man in her realm, to prevent his getting possession of the States, which would be so injurious to this country. When she gave Marchaumont an account of this letter she promised him, on the word of a princess, that she would write to the king of France and his mother about the marriage, in terms which would not displease them.
She also wrote to Alençon that she sent him the 15,000l. more out of regard for him than as a subsidy for the war ; and under cover of this I hear that she is treating through her confidants with the rebels, that if by means of this money or a larger sum they can arrange to deliver to her Flushing, if not all the Isle of Zeeland, they must make every possible effort to do so. She is pressing very earnestly about this, as she considers that she will be able to keep the French in check in this way, and prevent them from openly taking the Netherlands, whilst she holds in her hands the key to an arrangement with your Majesty. All her other actions towards Alençon are simply stratagems. In conversation likewise recently with the French Ambassador, she set forth the many reasons which would force her to marry, whereupon he replied that, besides the reasons she stated, she had forgotten one, which was of more importance than any, namely, that it was said that he (Alençon) had slept with her. She replied that she could disregard such a rumour, to which he answered that she might well do so in her own country, but not elsewhere, where it had been publicly stated. She was extremely angry, and retorted that a clear and innocent conscience feared nothing, and that the letters which Alençon had written to his brother and his mother were written before the existence of the rumour, which she would silence by marrying.
I send orders for the despatch of a courier to the prince of Parma, on the arrival of this packet at Calais, to report about Flushing, and that Alençon has written to France saying that the troops and ships which are ready for Don Antonio could be used for seizing Zeeland, and for assuring the possession of the Netherlands, since Orange was no longer in the way.—London, 26th April 1582.
254. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
I have to-day learnt that the ships which were ready to go to the Moluccas have sailed, and that Humphrey Gilbert (fn. 8) is fitting out three more to go to Florida, and land in the place where Stukeley went to, and subsequently Jean Ribaut, who was killed by Pero Melendez. When the Queen was asked to assist this expedition Gilbert was told in the Council that he was to go, and, as soon as he had landed and fortified the place the Queen would send him ten thousand men to conquer it and hold the port.
Frobisher is also pushing forward the fitting out of three more ships for the Moluccas, affirming that he means to arrive in the South Sea by the islands that form the Straits of Magellan, before the ships which have sailed.—London, 26th April 1582.
255. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
Two days ago I received the reply of the queen of Scotland to the letter which I had sent her with the despatch I had received from Scotland from the duke of Lennox, and conveying to her the information I had received from Fathers Creighton and Holt, as I wrote to your Majesty on the 1st April. I enclose copy of her letter herewith, and also of that which the duke of Lennox wrote to her. (fn. 9) These fully confirm what I have always said, namely, that she is virtually the mainspring of the war, without whose opinion and countenance Lennox and the others will do nothing. I have therefore endeavoured to keep her well disposed, and, in order to facilitate the business, continue to impress upon her how ready the Scots and the Catholics here are to undertake the enterprise. In the meanwhile I have always proceeded with the plumb-line in my hand, trying to sound the feelings and aims of the Scots, without going beyond generalities, in order not to pledge your Majesty more than necessary, and yet not to lose hold upon them. I have also instructed the priests who have gone thither to act in the same way, only that as Creighton went from France at the request of the Scots ambassador, and by order of His Holiness, without seeing me, he has changed my mode of procedure, promising, as will be seen, in the name of the Pope and your Majesty, to the duke of Lennox 15,000 men for the war in Scotland. He has no grounds whatever for this, as is pointed out clearly by the queen of Scotland, who says that she does not know the origin of the promise, which I have no doubt that the good man has made entirely on his own initiative, in the belief that, as in May last year, when he was in Rome, his Holiness told him he would assist with the necessary number of men, he might promise the round number, perhaps under the impression that the Catholics here will rise and assist the Scots the moment they know that foreign troops have come to their aid. It is out of my power to prevent this error and others of a like sort, which may be committed by the priests who go from France (where the business however must be managed), unless they are extremely well instructed. They (the priests), although ardently zealous as regards religion, cannot be trusted with matters of State unless they are taught word for word what they have to say, and in order, if possible, to prevent such mistakes in future, and avoid the disappointment of the Scots if the aid promised them be not sent, I have replied to the queen of Scotland on the point to the effect that, though I was sure that your Majesty and his Holiness would assist, even with a much larger force than stated, whenever it might be necessary for the attainment of so inestimable an object, yet there were great difficulties, as it would be impossible to form a fleet, since French affairs were in their present state and religion in France so unsettled that the moment an expedition was fitted out the suspicion of the French would be aroused, and they would be led, in order not to lose entirely both England and Scotland, immediately to join with this Queen more intimately than ever, whilst heretics on both sides, and especially Alençon, fanned the flames of war between France and Spain. This would enable the heretics to crush the Catholics here, and, such is their malice, that they might turn their weapons against her own person. For these considerations I said it was best that the aid to be given to Scotland should not be strong enough to drive the French to despair of preserving the ancient alliance with Scotland at seeing a powerful foreign force there. It was also necessary that the force should not be so weak as to render it impossible for the Scots Catholics to subdue the heretics, and it is certain that this Queen would not dare to interfere unless she had the French at her back, as she is so apprehensive of the English Catholics joining those of Scotland. When the French see her position they will presumably stand by and watch events, as they will consider it no disadvantage to them that their old allies the Scots should become more powerful, especially in the absence of any of the Queen's forces which the Scots themselves could not withstand. From these points, which I summarised to her, I said depended many others, which she herself would perceive, and I therefore thought it would be best for her to convey them to the Scots, so that the affair might be managed in the way best calculated to obtain the end in view with peace and quietness, rather than to inflame fresh wars between Christian princes. I said that the duke of Lennox should be instructed not to move from Scotland, as, amongst other reasons, it is of the highest importance in your Majesty's interests that the troops to be raised should not be, as he says in his letter, collected by him in France, but should be sent by your Majesty.
With regard to the instructing of the priests, I said I was pleased that those who had gone from here had proceeded prudently, and the errors committed by those who went from France were no fault of mine. I would do my best to confer with them if it were possible for me to be in two places. I had written to them in Scotland what she replied with regard to the commissions for the two ambassadors, adding that, if it were not evident that the Pope and your Majesty were so ardently anxious to help forward the war in these countries it might be necessary to send special ambassadors to lay before you the opportunities for doing so ; but since we are already so well informed upon the subject, and as the ambassadors to be sent would necessarily have to be persons devotedly attached to the Catholic religion, well versed in matters of State, and of high standing in the country, it appeared to me that their absence from Scotland at this time would do more harm than their embassies would do good, whereas if they did not possess the qualities stated, the two Setons, whom I do not know, being so very young, it would be much better for them to stay at home in order to avoid attracting attention, and arousing suspicion by going to foreign Courts.
I also replied to Lennox in general terms, agreeing with the despatch to the queen of Scotland, it being taken by the same priest that came hither. For greater security he returned as he came, on foot disguised as a tooth-drawer, and he took with him a looking glass which I had made for him, inside of which the letters were concealed, so that unless he himself divulged them no one could imagine that he had them. I say nothing to Lennox about the promise made by Creighton, in order that he may understand that it was made without any foundation, but I inflame him with the glory and grandeur which he may gain by the enterprise, which I say will be entirely attributed to him, he being by his person, gifts, and position worthy to lead such a cause. I write thus as I am told this is in accordance with his humour. I also touch, but lightly, on the queen of Scotland's remarks about association with her son, in order, in the first place, to satisfy her, and, secondly, because I see that the Scots should proceed under this pretext, which will pledge the Catholics and adherents of the queen of Scots here unanimously to join in the claims of mother and son, and will bind them together to attain the end, leading them, in the interests of their lives, property, and children, to prefer your Majesty's friendship to that of France.
I have also written to Dr. Allen and Father Persons in France, requesting Persons to leave for Scotland immediately, as we had agreed, with the money which I had sent him for the purpose. I say that as Fathers Creighton and Holt had not gone thither, (fn. 10) as was expected, they had no doubt changed their plan until they received news of the reply that the queen of Scotland and I sent to Lennox ; and he, Persons, should therefore tell them that it is not necessary for them to leave Scotland or to send the ambassadors they speak of. They should, on the contrary, stay where they are, and endeavour as gently as possible to convert the kingdom to our Holy Catholic faith, gaining souls, and giving me notice of what the Scots want. I say also that it is not necessary for them to trouble to take to the road themselves, as their profession is not that of arranging warlike matters, which must be done by other ministers, their function being to act as intermediaries, for which they are better fitted than any others.
I have also written to the bishop of Glasgow, ambassador of the queen of Scotland, in the cipher which she sent me. I press him to hasten his departure for Scotland, but say nothing to him about the promise except speaking of it as a thing without foundation, to ask him what were Creighton's grounds for making it ; I will immediately advise your Majesty of the replies I receive, but as I have not your Majesty's special instructions to proceed in all these details, I trust them all into the hands of God, and do my best in the interests of His service, and that of your Majesty. I send this by special courier to Tassis, and ask him to forward it in the same way.
This Queen sent four days ago one of the Scotch rebels who was here with the earl of Angus to the Border, with a quantity of money, chains, and other jewels, to buy over some of the Scots, the sole object being to get possession of the king of Scotland and stir up civil war there.
Lord Harry (Howard) continues to give me information with great vigilance and care, and keeps me well posted as to what is going on. This forces me again to press upon your Majesty the importance of rewarding him, and at the same time pledging his house, by favouring him in the way I have already suggested. In order not on any account to lose him I have prevailed upon him to refuse the embassy to Germany.—London, 26th April 1582.


  • 1. This was afterwards one of the principal ships under Howard at the Armada.
  • 2. The Spaniards had hitherto believed that the Continent extended indefinitely to the south.
  • 3. The passage is somewhat obscure, but it would appear that after groping through the Straits, Drake and Winter were caught by a "Norther" and driven far south ; Winter drifting round Cape Horn and Drake remaining on the west side of it.
  • 4. Port St. Julian was near the Atlantic entrance to the Straits of Magellan.
  • 5. The writer's illustration certainly does not seem to make the matter clearer to us, who are perfectly acquainted with the exact position of the Straits of Magellan, but it would probably aid a person who had never seen a map to roughly realise the position.
  • 6. Another copy of this letter undated and purporting to have been signed at Lisbon instead of St. Ubes is in the Simancas Archives amongst the papers of 1581 (Secretaria de Estado, packet 835).
  • 7. Lord Henry Howard.
  • 8. Sir Humphrey Gilbert had received letters patent dated 11th June 1578, "To discover remote heathen and barbarous lands not possessed by any Christian prince or people, and to hold and enjoy same with all commodities, jurisdictions, and royalties, both by sea and land" (Patent Roll, Eliz. 21, printed in Hakluyt). A full account of the agreements and preparations made by Gilbert, Sir Thomas Gerrard, Sir George Peckham, and others for the above-mentioned expedition to Florida, will be found in the recently published Calendar of Colonial State Papers edited by Mr. Noel Sainsbury.
  • 9. See letter of 6th April, page 330.
  • 10. That is to say to France (Rouen) where, however, they had not arrived up to the 11th April, as was expected.