Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 3, 1580-1586. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1896.
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May 1582, 1-15
256. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
In my former letters I sent an account of what the Queen had written to Alençon, and as he did not reply with the usual promptitude she began to conceive some suspicion ; and speaking to the Earl of Sussex, she remarked that it was very strange that Alençon did not reply, and that it would be well to summon the Council to discuss the matter of the marriage. Sussex said, in the course of conversation, that Alençon's marriage with the Queen, now that he was in Flanders and at war, would not produce so much advantage as the seizure of the States by the French would bring injury. Leicester, Walsingham, and their party opposed the Queen's marriage, setting forth that religion here would immediately be changed thereby, which they said was clearly proved by the earnestness with which Alençon was favouring the Catholics in Antwerp, he having insisted that they should have a public church. They, the Council, informed the Queen of their discussion, but she gave them no reply, excepting that it would be well to await Alençon's answer. Bacqueville, one of Alençon's gentlemen, brought the reply on the 2nd. He writes with his own hand to the Queen, saying that he had given her no just reason for complaint of his lukewarmness about the marriage, as he was more ready and desirous for it than ever, for the sake of the happiness of both of them, who loved each other so well, and also for the advantage which would accrue therefrom to the crowns of France and England. He says, it is true that he had not mentioned the matter in his letters for the last two months, as he had quite despaired of bringing it about, she having said with her own lips in his presence that it would be easier to move the mountains than for her, willingly, to make up her mind to marry. Since, however, she had changed her humour, he would not only speak of the matter in his letters, but, like a swallow, would pass the sea and build his nest in this country ; this being his ultimate resolution which he conveys to her in accordance with her request. He begs her at once to let him know her mind and wishes upon the subject, and asks her, with all speed, to fix the day of the wedding so much desired by him, in order that he may then be with the person whom he loves more than his own life ; and he repeats earnestly and often his request that the Queen will decide. This is the substance of the letter, which fills more than a whole sheet of paper ; and I am told by a person to whom the Queen showed it, that the expressions are such that it is impossible to believe them to be insincere. At the end of the letter he thanks her warmly for the 60,000 ducats which she sent him, which he promises to spend in her service, although the sum is not a very large one for the needs which are occurring. He ends with an infinity of flatteries and endearments, saying that his reputation and his life are in the Queen's hands.
Since the Queen received the letter she appears more ardent than ever in her desire for the marriage, and at once quarrelled with Walsingham, whom she told that he had been the cause of the coolness between her and Alençon, and had induced the others to assert that she did not wish to marry. She then summoned in great haste the French ambassador and Marchaumont, to whom she conveyed the intention of Alençon, and assured them how sincerely she desired to effect the marriage, in spite of all opposition on either side of the sea. She again renewed the promise which she made when she gave the ring, and swore that she had never wavered in her intention of fulfilling the pledge she had given him before both French and English witnesses, that she would be the wife of Alençon if the King complied with the conditions which she had requested.
After this, she began to complain of Marchaumont, whom she told that he might almost be looked upon as a venal person to be bought and sold, as he had never said anything to her excepting about money since his master left, as if both of them thought nothing of her excepting as an aid to the forwarding of Alençon's ambitious schemes, and their only object was to worry an old woman until they had drained her purse to the last. Marchaumont excused himself by referring to the needs of his master, whereupon the Queen retorted in much harder and more stinging words than before. She ended by asking the ambassador to write to the King the following points. First, that Alençon desired to come over to be married as soon as he was notified ; secondly, that she, the Queen, was of the same opinion ; and thirdly, that the final conclusion of the marriage therefore depended entirely upon the King, since she, as from the first, again requested that France should defray half the expenses of the Netherlands war, not because she wished for a war against your Majesty, nor disunion amongst Christian princes, but because Alençon out of a spirit of adventure, desiring to make war upon your Majesty, she did not wish for her subjects to have the opportunity of saying that the long peace had been ended and treasure consumed in a dangerous war at the expense of this country. She therefore desired that the King should on no account fail in his promise to defray half of the expenses of the war before the marriage was effected, in order that there should be no alarm and suspicion in regard to this point between the two contracting parties. She said that this was most important, and the payment of the money by the King before the marriage would enable her to make certain arrangements with the rebel States. She did not see any way of carrying through the marriage if these terms were not acceded to, and she urged the ambassador most earnestly to assure the King of her desire for the marriage, and of her straightforward proceeding with regard to it. The fourth point to be conveyed to the King was a request that he should send a person of quality here with sufficient powers for the purpose, and she would then summon Alençon, and marry him, without making any fresh alterations in the conditions, or raising any further delay.
The ambassador replied that he was afraid to convey this to the King, on her verbal assurance alone, as she had deceived him before, and his master had rebuked him for allowing himself to believe her so easily, The Queen replied, that these were not words alone but oaths, which she took solemnly as a Queen and Christian, calling God to witness them, and to punish her if she failed in the promises which she now made in the presence of the ambassador and Marchaumont. She also told the ambassador to warn the King that if he failed to comply with so just a demand as this she would think that all the negotiations that had passed on his side, had been mere artifice, without any intention of fulfilling the promises made, and, as soon as she saw this, she would be his mortal enemy to the death, and to his brother as well. She then repeated that she would not leave a penny of English money, or the life of an Englishman unspent, in preventing the French from gaining a footing in the Netherlands unless the marriage took place, as it would be a perpetual peril to herself and her country. She told the ambassador to recollect that she would have powerful and resolute friends, even though the king of France were to abandon her, "and the king of Spain," she said, "is striving by all imaginable means to gain my friendship, giving me his faithful word and pledge that he will help me against all Christian princes if I will consent to renew the old alliance with the House of Burgundy, and leave my new friendship with the French." She therefore told him to advise his King that he had better not delay the conclusion of the treaties and marriage for more than three months, or they may find her more fit to marry the earth than his brother. After that period she said that any delay raised by the king of France will be looked upon by her as a definite negative, and she will at once come to terms with your Majesty, and refuse to allow herself to be deceived any longer by mere pastime and empty words.
The French ambassador wrote to the King as desired, but has kept the letters back until those from Alençon come, so that they may all arrive together. I understand that the ambassador is writing a great discourse of his own, pressing upon the King the need for great caution in the reply sent, because, if the Queen really is offended, she will join with your Majesty, to the great injury of France and Alençon, and again enter into the usual understandings with the Huguenots. This is the present state of affairs, and I will duly advise the purport of the answer taken by Bacqueville, (fn. 1) who also came to ask for more money. All these professions of a desire on the Queen's part to effect the marriage are, like the former ones, merely meant to lead Alençon astray with lies about your Majesty seeking her, whilst she gets hold of Zeeland, by which she might make terms either with him or your Majesty.—London, 4th May 1582.
257. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
Since my last, with which I enclosed a letter from the queen of Scotland I received two more letters from her, which I enclose, and the instructions she gives me in one of them translated into Spanish, which will prove that I was not mistaken in the advices I gave your Majesty with regard to the action which was going to be taken by that captain. (fn. 2) I reply that, as this Queen and her Ministers are on somewhat bad terms with me, it will be necessary for me to await an opportunity of ascertaining what she wishes to know from some of these councillors. At the same time I press her to maintain the duke of Lennox and the rest of them in their good disposition, and tell her that I am expecting hourly a reply from your Majesty on the points she mentions. She has also sent me letters for the duke of Lennox and the ambassador (archbishop of) Glasgow asking me to forward them with all speed.
I have received news to-day from the Border of the arrival there of the priest I sent on the 19th with the despatch. They advise me that printed papers are in circulation in Scotland to the following effect :—"I, the Catholic Church, command and admonish you, all bishops, abbots, ministers, and guardians of the churches to restore the property you have so unjustly usurped for many years, because, if you do not do so, you shall be cast out from the kingdom on the day of St. John, with all your households, goods, children, and strumpets. God save James VI., King of Scotland." I have not been able to discover yet whether this is a stratagem of these people fearing the conversion of Scotland, and wishing to prevent it by arousing the indignation of the Protestants against the Catholics by this admonition, or whether it is a Catholic affair to embitter the feelings of the people against the ministers and ecclesiatics, whom they hate already for their impure lives, so much so that the king of Scotland himself says that the word they preach is good, but the lives they live are very bad.
These folks have been unable, notwithstanding all their bribes and promises, to prevail upon the earl of Arran to break with Lennox, and they have, therefore, taken to inciting the ministers, who are now preaching with greater fervour than ever against Lennox, who they say is enjoying the revenues of the bishopric of Glasgow, whilst the titular bishop receives only a very small salary.
I also understand that the King says that the ministers are depriving him of the ecclesiastical jurisdiction, whilst they assert, both in and out of the pulpits, that the laymen are consuming their property.
An ambassador from Denmark has arrived here, and had audience with the Queen on the 6th. I believe that he comes upon the same business as the other envoy who came recently and has now left, namely, the navigation which the English are attempting to Muscovy. This matter is of much importance even to your Majesty, in consequence of the negotiations which these folks are carrying on with regard to it with the Turk. I am getting information about it, which I will send to your Majesty.
I also understand that this man will discuss the marriage of the king of Scotland with a daughter of the king of Denmark, which project, as I have already reported, is being warmly pressed upon the Queen by her ministers, and particularly by Leicester, Walsingham, and the rest of their faction.—London, 4th May 1582.
258. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
In some of my former letters I advised your Majesty of the arrival here of the ship from the coast of Brazil, leaving there seventeen men. I am informed by the Englishmen themselves that this was not caused by an attempt to capture their ship, which would have been extremely easy if those on shore had wanted to do so, since all the artillery and men had to be put on shore whilst the ship was careened and repaired. But the Governor had given them licenses to trade on payment of the dues, which was also confirmed by the Bishop. By virtue of this the merchandise was placed in the stores, and the supercargoes for the merchants here who were in charge were so favourably impressed with the country that they resolved, four or five of them, to appropriate some of the merchandise and settle there. Another of them was converted to the Catholic faith by the preaching of the friars there, and as he regularly attended the ceremonies of the church his companions began to mock him, which came to the knowledge of the Bishop and the Inquisitors.
At this time the men on board the ship, seeing that the other factors were keeping the merchandise, sent a boat on shore with ten men to warn them to come back to the ship. The Inquisitors arrested these men in order to examine them, which, coming to the knowledge of the rest of the crew on board, they in return captured two Portuguese sailors who were there in a caravel from Lisbon, and then weighed anchor. The cannons on shore were immediately fired at them, and some of the balls hit the ship. The vessel in question arrived here after a voyage of two months and a half. I understand that the Council has inquired into the case, and that many merchants had gone to them to say that they too desired to send ships on a similar voyage to trade on the coast of Brazil. This would be greatly to your Majesty's prejudice, and should be prevented by issuing orders to the Governors on the coast, in the case of foreign ships arriving, not only that they should be prevented from trading, but that they should be sent to the bottom without fail, with every man on board, As I have on many occasions written, directly these people are treated in any other way it will be impossible to prevent them sailing thither, or to check their activity, excepting by keeping fleets everywhere at great cost.
The ships which I wrote had sailed for the Moluccas (fn. 3) have returned to the north-west coast of England, by stress of contrary wind. Captain Fenton has landed from them in consequence of a sealed order of the Queen and Council appointing the Captain having been sent in the ships, which order was not to be opened until the expedition was on the high seas. When it was opened it was found to appoint as Commander of the expedition, Winter, who was the man that went with Drake and brought his ship back from the mouth of the Straits. For this reason Fenton refused to proceed on the voyage. Humphrey Gilbert is continuing the fitting of the ships I mentioned ; and Frobisher is ready to sail with two ships, which he says will arrive there (at the Moluccas) before the others.—London, 4th May 1582.
259. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
On the 25th and 26th ultimo I sent five letters by special courier to Paris, giving information with regard to the state of Orange. Although a gentleman from Alençon since affirms that he is convalescent, Sussex continues to be incredulous, and says that it is only a French trick to conceal the truth, with the aim described in my previous letters. A Bolognese merchant, who left Antwerp on the 18th, and who had been there since the day that Orange was wounded, and is an honest man, says that he will bet two hundred crowns to one hundred that he was dead, and he assures me that he saw evident indications of it, especially that when the vein burst forth and so much blood was lost, not only was every physician and surgeon in Antwerp consulted, but every man or woman who chose to come and professed to have a remedy for stopping the bleeding, was allowed to make the experiment. They sent horsemen galloping about the streets, who, to save time, took up behind them the people who professed to have a remedy, and carried them off to the patient immediately. Although no means was successful, they published next day that the man was well, whilst they had, night and day, to compress the vein by pressure with a finger. They then dismissed all medical men, excepting Alençon's physician, and would allow no one to see Orange but certain private persons. The heretics who maintain that though you may pray for the living you may not pray for the dead, ceased to offer prayers for him from that day, which caused the suspicion to deepen. This merchant relates many circumstances which I do not repeat, but which all confirm the supposition, as do letters from Spaniards in Antwerp.
Notwithstanding this, and that the Queen has had no letters from Orange since he was wounded, they assert that Alençon writes that he is convalescent, although not out of danger, which physicians here find it difficult to believe, as it is more than forty days since he was wounded. I cannot say for certain what the facts are, but can only repeat what they say here. The wife of Orange was dangerously ill, which the heretics publish with great clamour.—London, 4th May 1582.
Paris Archives, K. 1447. 134.
230. The King to Bernardino De Mendoza.
Very many thanks for your full and frequent advices. Please continue them, and also your efforts in favour of the individuals who have been plundered, and in obstructing Diego Botello about the ships.
As a long letter was recently written to you respecting Scotland, answering your various questions relating thereto, there is now nothing further to say, except to thank you and approve heartily of the course you are following of keeping in hand the Queen and Catholics of that country. I was glad to see the copy of the letter written to you by the duke of Lennox, and I am anxious to receive a report of the message sent to you by the fathers in Rouen by the confidant you intended to send to them. As you say, they showed their simplicity in asking you to leave England to see them ; but you managed the matter excellently, as you do all things. If the ambassadors or persons you mention are to be sent hither and to Rome, you will inform me beforehand of their instructions. It would also be well if you had some prudent, quiet, person at Rouen ; or could send such a one thither, to go carefully into this matter of Scotland with the priests, so that the correspondence with you might be carried on better than at present.
I hope your next letters, or others from those parts, will tell me how the matter of Orange ended. With regard to Alençon, if it be true as you are told, that the Queen is opposing the delivery to him of certain fortresses in Holland and Zealand, it would appear probable that she may lend ear to what is written to you in another letter, and understand that the course suggested will be the best for her. This view, however, is contradicted by the queen of Scotland's letter to you of the 2nd of March, saying that the Queen (of England) is likely to help and support Alençon in Flanders. Act for the best and report.—Almerin, 6th May 1582.
Paris Archives, K. 1447. 135.
261. The King to Bernardino De Mendoza.
From many quarters we have confirmation of your news that Orange is dying, and he doubtless is now dead. In any case the position that Alençon is taking up in the country is intolerable, and the Queen cannot be so blind as not to see how injurious it is for her and her country for the French to gain a footing in any part of the Netherlands. I enjoin you, therefore, to request audience and deliver the new letter of credence now enclosed, trying to convince her of the danger that may result to her from such neighbours. Say that, however much they may temporise with her now, as soon as they get their way she may know what she has to expect from them, as their one object is to usurp all they can without any consideration of right or reason. Open her eyes to what her position will be if she is surrounded on all sides by Frenchmen, or if she allow their force to grow to an extent which may threaten herself. Let her not think that she protects herself by aiding them with money and otherwise, for people whose habit it is play such tricks are not likely to be bound by any considerations of gratitude. (fn. 4)
In addition to the unmerited offence she will commit against me if she helps Alençon in Flanders, the French will only be too pleased to drain her substance, so that when she is exhausted and bereft of money they may be able to treat her country as they treat others. Beg her to consider this whilst it is yet time, and avoid the danger. If it be an injury to me that the French should nest in the Netherlands, it is none the less an injury to her also, and it will be unwise for her to reject this advice of mine because she thinks it may be inspired by considerations of my own interests ; and to turn against good and old friends for the sake of embracing the natural and ancient enemies of her country, in the belief that they will change their nature.
You will argue in this way, touching the various points as you see may be advisable. As you know their temper so well I leave to your discretion the details of your proceeding, so long as you bear in mind that the object is to open the Queen's eyes to the evil of having the French for neighbours, and making her suspicious of them. Report what you do. I recollect that on various occasions the Queen has suggested that she might be instrumental in effecting a general pacification in my Netherlands, and although it is easy to imagine what sort of a peace would be made by her means, I shall be glad to hear from you what is meant by it, and with what object or result she might intervene in the matter. (fn. 5) —Almerin, 6th May 1582.
262. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
On the 4th I wrote four letters, and now send copy of an autograph letter written by Don Antonio to Diego Botello, and another from Francisco Antonio de Souza, which have fallen into my hands. I keep the originals for several reasons, and particularly to be able to show this Queen, when opportunity offers, what she gains by favouring rebels, and how they thank her for it, by what Francisco de Souza says about her in his letter. I have no doubt that this will goad her into terrible resentment against Don Antonio. I also enclose letters from Manuel Silva and others, contained in the same packet, which together may prove to your Majesty the correctness of the advices I have sent. I hear from the Isle of Wight that one of the three ships which Don Antonio is sending from England to Rochelle had arrived there, the Englishmen on board of her having deserted in consequence of famine, and they thought that the same thing would happen to the other two ships. A man from Rochelle tells me that when he left on the 1st they were fitting out there eight or ten ships for Don Antonio, but there was neither money nor men, and at the rate they were going they could not have them ready for a long while.
Gonzalo Pereira, whom as I wrote to your Majesty I was sending to Fayal, writes from the Isle of Wight that the servant he sent to Don Antonio had returned with a letter telling him on no account to fail to go and see him. The servant tells him that he heard in Don Antonio's house, from men who are in his confidence, that the design of the fleet he is collecting in France is to defend Terceira and land on some of the islands if possible, and otherwise to go and attack the fleets from the Indies. If none of these things succeed, they are to land all the Frenchmen that go in the expedition in Florida where Jean Ribaut landed. (fn. 6)
News comes from Terceira of the 19th March saying that Captain Carloix had gone to Manuel de Silva to ask him to pay the soldiers, to which he had replied that he must have patience ; whereupon Carloix retorted that if he did not give him the money immediately he would pay himself. He then ordered the drums to be beaten, and said that he would sack the country, and it was thought that this would cause a contest between the people and the soldiery. The Captain of the Englishmen writes begging his friends here to send him ships for them to return in if they do not wish them all to die there.
This Queen has not yet received replies from France nor from Alençon to the messages she sent, and she has acquainted Marchaumont and Bacquevllle with her grave suspicions that the King of France should raise so many fleets at Brouage and others parts of the coast without the object being evident, since they were not needed for any purpose in his own country. She also complains of the intimacy with which the duke of Guise was treating the king of Scotland, to whom he had sent six well-trained horses. These, and other things, made her distrustful, considering the devotion which the duke of Guise had always shown to your Majesty's interests, and the close communication which had been kept up between you and his house. She said that it might be easily concluded, that if the king of France was favourable to her, and wished for her union with his brother, he would not thus favour her mortal enemy, to which she added some very foul words applied to Guise. The suspicions which Cobham continues to write to her confirm the statement that the King is receiving Juan Bautista de Tassis more graciously than ever. Marchaumont and Bacqueville satisfied her, saying that it was not for them to answer for the actions of the King, but only for those of their master ; but it could not be believed that the duke of Guise had so ill a will towards her as she said. She had received news from Berwick with great haste that the wife of the duke of Lennox had arrived in Scotland. I do not affirm this, as they do not always write the truth from those parts.
There are no fresh letters from Antwerp, but letters from Flushing of the 9th report that the wife of Orange was dead ; whilst he was convalescent, and without even a patch upon the wound, although it is not asserted that any one had seen him but his own family. I cannot therefore solve the mystery.
The Danish ambassador still tarries here, and the Queen is sending as ambassador to Denmark a son of the duchess of Suffolk by her second husband. (fn. 7) He has been ordered to be ready to go in a fortnight, and some people think that the design may be to send him to Terceira, whilst they detain the Danish ambassador here for some time. The latter reports that the duke of Saxony has had a book written, in which the writings of Luther are so corrected as almost to form a new doctrine, and he has had it confirmed by the signatures of 4,000 different people. He sent a copy of the book by an envoy to the king of Denmark, to ask him to append his signature. The ambassador presented it and the King asked him to stay to dinner and he would see afterwards what he thought of the religion of his brother the Duke in order that he might tell him. After dinner he took the book and threw it into the fire and said that that was the way to treat it, as he was a good protestant and did not want any fresh opinions.—London, 15th May 1582.
263. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
In conformity with what your Majesty has ordered me with regard to Scotland, I wrote to the Queen, who, by letters of which I forwarded copies, had informed me that she was anxiously awaiting your Majesty's reply. I have represented to her the objections to either the duke of Lennox or any of his adherents leaving the country. As regards my communicating with the Scotch Catholics in writing, I may say that I have only done so with Lennox, since my first letter to him, when the queen of Scotland asks me to write to him, and sends letters for me to forward to him. Even in such case the letters are in cipher and unsigned, so that even if they be lost I can safely declare that they are not mine. As your Majesty will have seen, the Queen of Scotland asks me to write to him and to her ambassador, her desire being that communications should be held in this way, and if she saw a disinclination on my part, it might arouse her suspicion of me, and there is no way of preventing the French from getting a knowledge of the affair if she thinks fit to tell them. I only express in my letters your Majesty's desire for the conversion of Scotland, and do not dwell upon any other point, and although under cover of this I do all I can to conduct the business as your Majesty desires, I am aware that it is not in my power to avoid the thousand difficulties which occur. From the first I have foreseen and represented these to your Majesty, as it was necessary to set the web here and weave the warp in France, whilst, to satisfy the queen of Scotland, your Majesty's minister there is not to intervene.
The priests, who must act in unison with the others in France, are conducting matters differently from what the queen of Scotland and I desire. In addition to the absurd promise given by Father Creighton to the duke of Lennox, they have again changed the order that I had given for them to remain in Scotland, and that Father Persons should go thither to strive by preaching and reading to convert the King ; and Fathers Creighton and Holt arrived in France on the 14th ultimo. They detained Persons, who was on the road, and after having communicated their mission to the bishop of Glasgow, the queen of Scotland's ambassador, they had an interview with the duke of Guise. At this interview there were also present the said ambassador, Creighton, Father Robert, Dr. Allen, and Persons. Creighton made a statement as to the condition of Scotland, and said how ready the people were for conversion. He then proceeded to say that the duke of Lennox was resolved to convert the people and the King himself, if your Majesty and the Pope would aid him with 8,000 foreign troops paid for six or eight months, and sufficient arms of all sorts to supply as many more Scotsmen. With this force, after the conversion which would immediately follow the landing, the King would march upon England, where they would be joined by the English Catholics, and would release his mother, reducing England to submission to the Apostolic See. He begged that this force might be sent in the month of September, or October at latest, as otherwise he was resolved to leave Scotland, taking the King and the Catholics with him. This determination was taken on conscientious grounds, and because of the intrigues which the queen of England was carrying on in Scotland, and which he (Lennox) would be unable to counteract if the aid did not arrive at the period stated.
The duke of Guise approved of his resolve, and pledged himself to aid the enterprise, not only by his counsel, but with his means, and, if necessary, his person and his life. This was on condition that the coming of foreign troops to Scotland should not be known in France, as in such case he was sure it would be hindered. This was confirmed by the queen of Scotland's ambassador, and Guise urged that, in order to report this to your Majesty and his Holiness, Father Robert Persons should carry letters from Lennox to your Majesty, whilst Creighton took similar ones to the Pope, both of them taking also letters and instructions from Guise. He offered immediately the foreign troops landed in Scotland, to bring over 4,000 to the county of Sussex to divert the heretics ; and urged that, in the meanwhile, your Majesty and the Pope should order the provision of 10,000 crowns to fortify the castle of Dumbarton and Edinburgh, and strengthen the King's guard. This is reported to me by Dr. Allen and the rest of them, who ask me to convey it to your Majesty immediately, and to send a letter, so that Persons may start at once and be duly recognized on his arrival. I send him the letter and another for the minister at Rome, and in view of your Majesty's last instructions I think necessary to send this by special courier, in order that your Majesty and the Pope may take steps to prevent the Scotch business from being precipitated and the conversion of the countries thus rendered impossible. I therefore send these five letters by special to Tassis, with a request that he will forward them in the same way.
I humbly thank your Majesty for deigning to say that it is to your interest that I should stay here, and although there is nothing but my salvation which I desire so much as to leave England, I will postpone everything for your Majesty's service if affairs look as if they may be settled in reasonable time ; but if they are long deferred I must represent to your Majesty that my sight is getting so bad that if I have to stay in this damp climate for long I shall lose it altogether. I understand that Persons is to be accompanied by William Tresham, who left this country under suspicion of being a Catholic. He is the person through whom I have from the first been in communication on these matters with his brother Lord Thomas Tresham, and for this reason he is well deserving of some favour from your Majesty. Lord Harry continues to serve with his usual care and intelligence. I understand that we cannot give him less than 1,000 or 1,200 crowns a year, which will only last for two or three years ; whereas if your Majesty makes him a present, you could not give him less than three times that sum. If he gets the 1,200 crowns in two half-yearly payments from me, it will have double the effect in encouraging him, and will pledge his house ; and if he slackens or things change, the payments can be stopped. I am entertaining him, and have persuaded him to refuse to go on a mission abroad.—London, 15th May 1582.
264. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
The behaviour of these folks is so strange and fickle that, although I try to keep pace with them, it is impossible for me to do so without stumbling over a multitude of difficulties. Since I informed your Majesty of the message which the Queen sent by Walsingham to Antonio de Castillo when he was leaving I have received your Majesty's letter, in which you deign to say that I should serve you by remaining here ; and as it does not appear to be consonant with your Majesty's dignity that I should do so without having access to the Queen when circumstances may render it necessary, Walsingham having told me months ago that the Queen would examine the documents which I had given her about Drake's robbery, and would give me a reply, I wrote a letter to the earl of Sussex, saying what Walsingham had promised, and I wished that the matter should be mentioned to the Queen, in order that I might know when she intended to give me the answer, for your Majesty's information. I thought that this was the best means of opening the door for them to give me an audience, without directly asking for it. Sussex sent to say that he had mentioned my letter to the Queen, and, as the business had been previously discussed with Walsingham, she would send her answer by him. The answer was that she had sent a message to your Majesty by Antonio de Castillo, and until she had a written explanation from your Majesty about Ireland, she did not intend to decide the matter about the restitution of Drake's booty, and would not consider the business before she had a reply to the message she sent by Castillo. She did not, moreover, understand your Majesty's maintaining a minister here, if she had not a minister in Spain in the enjoyment of similar privileges. These are all the machinations of the men I have mentioned, in order to drive me to demand an audience point blank, the dangers of which are evident, because it I press them very closely it may place your Majesty under an obligation to recent their action, which I understand arises mainly from the personal hatred against me entertained by some of these ministers. As I have already written I can devise no better means to solve the difficulty than for your Majesty to hasten the coming of the man who, under the pretext of a mission about the restitution of Drake's plunder, may be prepared to replace me ; whilst in the meanwhile I reply to the Queen that, as I had been promised an answer upon the subject, I cannot avoid surprise, and some personal mortification, that she should simply refer me to what she expected would be written by Antonio de Castillo, who she knows is now merely a private person, and, being in Portugal, can hardly conduct affairs here. This message I will convey verbally, and will also write it to the earl of Sussex, taking the opportunity afforded by the news I recently received from Irun, that eight or ten English pirate ships had sacked and burnt a place called Boro in Galicia, but I will ignore the Queen's message by Walsingham about retaining a minister here. I wrote to Sussex, saying that I had received special despatches from your Majesty reporting this raid, and as it was my fate to complain constantly to the Queen, whenever I had the honour of seeing her, I should be glad to know whether she would listen to my present grievances, or whether she preferred that I should communicate them to the Council. I say this, in order that I might appear to be the person who avoided an interview, which I think is the best course if she will not see me, whilst it is a gentle method of getting an audience, without risk, if she desires it. I will report the result, and I doubt not that, if Flemish affairs are going ill for her, she will give me audience, whilst, if the contrary be the case, she will refer me to the Council.
This is their invariable course, and when they are absolutely obliged to seek your Majesty we shall see that they will be earnest enough, but until then all is falsehood and artifice, in order to sell themselves at a higher price. With the same end they are sending men over secretly to Flanders more actively than ever and are increasingly intimate with Alençon and the French, with whom they are temporising, whilst they are seeking opportunities for getting possession of Zeeland.—London, 15th May 1582.
265. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
In former letters I reported about the mission of an ambassador here from Denmark. In order now to give your Majesty full information upon the subject, it will be necessary to dwell somewhat at length upon the matter and begin at the beginning. In order to avoid paying to the king of Denmark the dues collected by him on goods to or from Muscovy, the English attempted to navigate to the east by the Frozen Sea to St. Nicholas, and succeeded in the year 1550 ; since when they have continued to carry their goods from there by the river Dwina to Coulobrod, and from there sending them by the River Octrung, where they are shipped to Suctrabam (?), and brought thence to the river Volga in six days by men on horse back. They are then shipped on the Volga and carried down to the Caspian Sea.
In order to conduct this navigation more easily and keep up the current of trade, they have built four custom-houses in the four places above mentioned for the storage and forwarding of merchandise, and to make themselves masters of the trade they have attempted to build a house on an island called Kola, where merchandise brought by all other foreigners was to be registered. By this means they thought to dispossess the king of Denmark of the island, and with this object they won over the merchants of the family of Buican, who are the richest in Muscovy, and by whose favour they obtained from the Muscovite permission to build on the island. They had commenced to do so, when the king of Denmark heard of it and sent two very large ships and three galleys to prevent it, and to cast out the English from the island. At the same time the former ambassador was sent hither from Denmark, bringing an intimation, as did the present one, that if the English were willing to pay him the same dues as were paid by all other nations, on passing through the Sound, he would allow them to trade with Muscovy without offering any impediment, which arrangements he hoped the Queen would settle with her subjects without it being necessary for him to use force, and defend his rights and revenues by arms.
The English also settled through the Muscovite with the Tartars on the banks of the Volga to allow the free passage of their merchandise down the river to the Caspian Sea ; whilst the Persian, building large ships in Astrachan, should give them leave to trade and distribute their merchandise, through Media and Persia, in exchange for goods which reach the Persians by the rivers that run from the East Indies to the Caspian Sea. This privilege was granted to the English by the Persian.
Two years ago they opened up the trade, which they still continue, to the Levant, which is extremely profitable to them, as they take great quantities of tin and lead thither, which the Turk buys of them almost for its weight in gold, the tin being vitally necessary for the casting of guns and the lead for purposes of war. It is of double importance to the Turk now, in consequence of the excommunication pronounced "ipse facto" by the Pope upon any person who provides or sells to infidels such materials as these. As the merchandise had to be sent from these parts, the dues were very heavy when the voyage was made in the ordinary way by the Straits of Gibraltar and the light of Messina ; not only had the merchants to pay toll in many places, but their trade could only be carried on by consent of your Majesty, as the possession of Portugal made it easy for you to stop at any time the passage by the pillars of Hercules. In order to carry on the trade with more safety and speed than by coasting the territories of your Majesty, his Holiness, and other Christian Princes, they with the aid of the king of France and this Queen requested permission of the Turk to go from Azov by the Don and Port Euxine and sell their goods freely in Constantinople, the design being to bring the goods from Media and Persia by the Caspian Sea and the river Volga to the river Don, the distance between the two rivers at one point not being more than a German league. A house was to be built in the place where the distance across was shortest to transport the goods overland to the Don, and a depôt was thus to be formed to concentrate the trade of the two rivers Volga and Don, and to serve as a point of distribution for goods brought from England, for Constantinople and the whole of the Levant, without their having to pass, as at present, by Italy. They also calculated that by this trade with Media and Persia they might monopolise the drug and spice trades, which goods could be sent from here to all the northern countries, where they are mostly consumed.
The Turk saw through their plan and understood how profitable he might make it for himself if he could manage to bring the spices and Indian trade by this road to Constantinople, thus reviving the commerce of the place to the grandeur it attained before the Portuguese discovered the Indies. He also saw that he would be obliging this Queen and the king of France by granting the permission requested, and thus weakening the forces of your Majesty, by diverting the English trade from Italy, as the English had pointed out to him. He therefore gave privileges to them, as I wrote some time ago, allowing them to have a house in Constantinople and trade freely there. He was artful enough, however, not to send them any answer to their request about the Don and Astrachan, whilst he made himself master of the Caspian and continued his conquest of Media. I understand from Cristobal de Salazar in Venice and from others that the Turk has been victorious, and I learn from France that he was about to build a number of ships and galleys to take possession of Astrachan, in the belief that when this is done, he may adopt the English method and bring trade down the Volga, cutting a canal from the Don by which he may utilise the water of the Volga, as the former river in certain seasons has but little water for navigation.
This action of the English with regard to trade in those parts has opened the eyes of the Turk to the advantages of it, and this has not stopped at words, as for years past the trade has been active. Only last October an expedition with a return cargo of goods came from Persia after two years absence, during which two-thirds of their return merchandise had been stolen by Tartars, whilst trade with Media and Persia had been bad in consequence of the war, and the Turks had stolen some of the goods they took from here ; and yet, notwithstanding all this, the adventurers received back all their capital and six per cent. profit.
I was already interested in this business, but I have been able to completely master it mainly by the help of Gaspar Schomberg, the German Baron of whom I wrote, who, when he was ready to leave, fell ill and was unable to start. This has enabled me to communicate more intimately with him than before. As he is well acquainted with the northern countries, having been thither, he is friendly with the merchants who trade there, and has been able at my request to discover the plan in which he was aided by his knowledge of cosmography and the geography of those and other provinces. He has even drawn with his own hands the map I send to your Majesty enclosed, made on white satin, by which the position of the provinces and rivers may be the better understood, as it is much more correct than ordinary maps.
Although always giving him to understand that the trade with the East Indies would be impossible, even if the road to Persia were open, in consequence of your Majesty's fleets in those seas being strong enough to beat both the Turk and the Persian united, I have asked him what he considers would be the best means of preventing it if it were attempted. He was of opinion, seeing the way in which the English had already traded in Persia, that if the Turk could establish his naval supremacy in the Caspian, he would undoubtedly be able to divert the spice trade of India into his hands, through Constantinople, and as this is of such vital importance to your Majesty, he (Schomberg) thought it was necessary to keep the matter a close secret, and not allow it to be mentioned to the Venetians, the Emperor, the German Princes, the French, or English. When therefore the question of hindering the trade is considered, it should be done under some pretext through the king of Denmark, to prevent the decline of his own revenues, and that he should be prompted to refuse to allow the English either to build on the isle of Kola or to continue their navigation from St. Nicholas through the Frozen Sea.
The other step to be taken would be to influence the Tartars on the banks of the Volga to prevent the navigation of the river either by the Turks or the English. These Tartars, although they are attached to the Muscovite, are oppressed and miserable people, and will serve any chief for a year for a single crown. They might be reached through the king of Poland, who is so good a Catholic, and might be informed, in the name of your Majesty and the Pope, how prejudicial the trade would be to Christianity ; or otherwise might be inflamed against the Turk. He could persuade the Tartars to leave the Muscovite, and prevent foreigners from navigating their river, and Schomberg thinks that, if the king of Poland were to undertake the negotiations, he would succeed. He, Schomberg, is a very good a Catholic himself, desiring the exaltation of our holy faith (although all his kin are protestants), and repeats to me, as such, urgently, that the matter must be treated with the utmost secrecy and not mentioned to any other Prince. I raised many difficulties to his suggestions, and especially pointed out that the Turk would find many obstacles in his way ; although I hear from Englishmen who have made the voyage to Persia, that once the Turk becomes master of Astrachan and the Caspian Sea, there will be little to stop him. From what I see of his (Schomberg's) zeal for the Holy Catholic religion, and his devotion to your Majesty, I consider that he would be a fitting minister to serve your Majesty in these matters, as he has great experience of the northern provinces and tongues, as well as being pledged to the interests of your Majesty ; he is moreover, a man of wealth, of great spirit, and a good soldier, and understands perfectly the management of artillery. The piece which I wrote to your Majesty he had invented, is certainly more ingenious than I had originally understood before I saw the model. It is mounted flat on a board, and when it recoils it does not kick backwards, but in a circular direction, and only sufficient to bring uppermost the touch hole of the next barrel of the seven after the one which has been discharged. In this way the whole seven barrels can be discharged with great rapidity, without the necessity for aiming each separate one, after the first barrel has been pointed. These pieces will be of great service to your Majesty's fleet as they will not need to be mounted on wheels, like ordinary pieces, but on the flat, and by this means the space occupied by the ordinary carriages will be saved, and more room given for men and stores. Another advantage is that, whilst the ordinary wheeled carriages when the ship rolls, often run to leeward, and capsize the ship, this cannot happen with the new pieces. He (Schomberg) is so ingenious, that on my telling him when he was confined by his illness for so long that I had seen a wooden gun, he employed himself in making a wooden cannon of the calibre of eight pounds, which a man can easily carry, and which may be discharged forty times in a day. It is so constructed, that it may not only be used for a short time, but will last for years ; and such pieces as these would be most useful for service in Barbary and the Indies, as they can be constructed with the greatest ease, and for every purpose but battery may be made useful, whilst in a battle or a skirmish they will produce as much effect as any other guns. They may be made of much larger calibre if necessary than his specimen.
He has also shown me a model he has made of a breastwork of wood, 30 feet high and the same size square, which can be carried by two four-horse waggons, and can be erected by two men in two hours, they the while being under cover and unassailable either by harquebussiers or musketeers. After the breastwork is erected there is room to mount thereon two culverins, the erection being strong enough for them to be effectively employed. I can quite believe this seeing the strength of the model, which is made of small and thin timbers, and I doubt not after discussing with him, that these breastworks will be very valuable, as they are inexpensive and may be used by anyone who has seen them once.
As the king of Poland knew this Baron, and understood his acquirements before anyone else, he recently summoned him by means of the palatine Lasqui, for the purpose of consulting him respecting artillery and fortifications, intimating that if he would enter his service he should be honourably treated. He tells me that he will leave for home in two days, and thence will go to Poland to see what the King wants. I have told him to take the opportunity of sounding the King as to his disposition towards your Majesty's interests, which he promises to do. On taking leave of me he said that, as he knew the King's humour, he would incite him to war with the Turk the moment your Majesty's truce with the latter expires, and he asked me to point out to your Majesty the facilities that exist for pressing him in those parts if your Majesty and the Pope desire to do so. He considers that this will agree with the king of Poland's humour, as he is fond of war, and wishes to leave a name behind him, he having no children. I have told Schomberg what your Majesty orders me in your despatch of 23rd ultimo, and he highly esteems your Majesty's having borne him in mind. He will not fail to see Don Guillen de San Clemente, (fn. 8) on his passage through Germany, and will send constant advices to me, so that if your Majesty should be pleased to make use of him in any way I may be in touch with him.
The king of Denmark has received no reply to his mission, which has been referred for discussion and report to the merchants who are engaged in the trade.—London, 15th May 1582.