Simancas: July 1580

Pages 39-44

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

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July 1580

10 July. 33. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
After I wrote on the 29th ultimo Condé left, taking a ship in Dover which had been lent to him by the Queen, and he arrived on the 4th at the Sluys of Bruges, whence he went to Antwerp. Although he did not profess much pleasure at the Queen's reception of him, and asserted that she had given him no help, it is all trickery of these people to tranquillise French affairs, in which they are making great efforts. With this object Condé was hurried off, so that the Queen might appear to oblige the king of France in the matter. The show of only speaking to him in the presence of the ambassador was made with the same end, as also was the sending of Stafford. The marriage negotiations have again been renewed by Stafford, and the Queen has been informed that on the 12th of August Commissioners will come to discuss the conditions. Stafford also sent a dispatch from Alençon to the ambassador, enclosed to the Queen. She sent it to him and told him to come and see her next day. He went, and handed to her a letter from Alençon, which had come in his packet, containing much talk about the marriage. The Queen has received it well, as they think that it is the best way of calming French affairs, of which they have now great hope from the ambassador ; and Stafford having also written that the king of France had sent blank signatures to his brother to make peace in the way he thought best. They gave hope to Condé that if peace be not made the Queen will certainly help him to raise troops in Germany. They gave him a thousand crowns when he left, on the pretence that it was a loan from the earl of Leicester.
The Queen has appointed as viceroy of Ireland Lord Grey, whom they consider a good soldier, (fn. 1) he having served in the wars with France. They have told him to choose a thousand of the four thousand men raised in London to take with him ; and four Queen's ships are to be fitted out to reinforce those already in Ireland. They learn from Ireland that some sloops are ready in Santander to take over some soldiers whom the Pope is sending to aid the insurgents.
I am informed from Antwerp that Orange is preparing to send arms to Portugal. Giraldo writes daily to the Queen and her ministers, urging them to do the same, and pointing out how important it is to them that they should help the duchess of Braganza, and prevent your Majesty from succeeding peacefully.— London, 10th July 1580.
16 July. 34. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
Whilst the Queen was speaking (to me) in the presence of Sussex, Cecil, and Walsingham, they asked her to enquire what answer your Majesty had ordered to be given to the letter she had written respecting the loading of English ships in Spain. I said that your Majesty had been pleased to allow them to load on this occasion. She replied that although this was so, and similar permission had been given here, she wished to know whether it was to continue for good, as it was so advantageous to your Majesty's subjects. This opened up the matter, and after hearing their discourse, I answered them ; and concluded by saying that, as the English were so pressing in the business, its importance and advantage to them were evident. Lord Burleigh said that they were of opinion that no such prohibition could be imposed by your Majesty, without contravening the treaties in existence between the countries ; to which I replied that no difficulty would be found in that, as the edict had been enacted by the Ferdinand and Isabel, and on its re-publication by the Emperor Charles V., Henry VIII. had requested that English ships might be allowed to load in consideration of the alliances with the House of Burgundy, which the Emperor had granted as a concession. When the edict was again published, at the time your Majesty was here, an addition had been made saying, "and in like manner our English subjects may load goods," which clearly proved that it had merely been as a favour and concession that they had been allowed to do so all this time. When for the third time the edict was published by your Majesty on the 9th August 1547 (1567?) two years were granted from that date before it was to be enforced, which again confirmed my view. Lord Burleigh told the Queen that it was a matter which ought to be looked into carefully, so that as a consequence of this and the pressure which is being brought to bear by the merchants that the matter should be elucidated, I have no doubt the Queen will write to your Majesty about it. As I have previously written, it is ruining the country, and the people at large are consequently suffering greater need,— London, 16th July 1580.
35. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
I wrote on the 10th, and on the same day that I dispatched the duplicate the Queen summoned me to Nonsuch.
She said she wished to see me in order to speak of two things : first with regard to the numerous advices she was receiving about the active negotiations being carried on by the French in the Netherlands, which most certainly would lead to their seizing the country, unless some arrangement was promptly made with them ; and, secondly, she wished to say that she was much aggrieved at the assistance which the Irish insurgents were obtaining in your Majesty's ports. It had been her intention to issue an edict, proclaiming as rebels those Englishmen who were serving with your Majesty's enemies in the Netherlands, unless they withdrew, which she did not think, however, that they would do ; but in view of the aid given by your officers to the Irish rebels, she had changed her mind. She dwelt at length on these two points ; and with regard to the question of the Netherlands, I replied that I too had been informed thereof. I said that although the Ghent people wanted to arrange with Alençon, the other rebel provinces were not of the same mind, but even if they were, and the French were admitted, the latter would be turned out as on former occasions. She replied arrogantly, that this would not be so, for they would enter with a much larger force than I expected, and their enterprise would be an easy one. She said it alarmed her greatly, both because it was so prejudicial to your Majesty, and would be injurious to her own position. I told her that, as I had been a soldier myself, I was not at all frightened at the victories gained on paper by armies before they were formed, and I understood what was necessary before so powerful a force as would be needful for such a task could be collected. It would take years ; and if she had not helped the rebels and fed the war, she would now be free from these fears. There was still time to remedy it, however, if she resolutely commanded the English to withdraw, which they would do ; and refrained from helping the rebels in future, to which moreover she would be forced, seeing the small result she had gained by it hitherto.
With regard to the Irish question, I said that as to the actions of the Pope as a temporal prince, I had nothing to say. His officers and ships had, of course, full liberty to enter and leave your Majesty's ports, and these fictions were simply presented to her by some of her Councillors, in order that she might not desist from aiding the Flemish rebels, on the excuse that your Majesty, under shadow of the Pope, was helping the Irish insurgents, for which purpose, they said, the fleet now on the coast of Galicia was destined. I said she could judge how true this was when she recollected what she told me when James Fitzmaurice came ; which was to the effect that 1,500 Spaniards accompanied him, the truth being that not 60 men of all nations came with him, and of those only three were Spaniards. As to the 15 who were recently taken in the fort, who were said to be Spaniards, it turned out a lie, as they were nothing of the sort, and the so-called Julian was, after all, an Italian named Giulio. After this conversation, in which two hours were passed, she called Sussex, Burleigh, and Walsingham, and, in their presence, made a great harangue to me on the two points mentioned, to which I replied as before, enlarging particularly on the aid and support she had given to the rebels, and the bad offices she had effected since the beginning of the war. I said that all these things were accomplished facts, whereas her present complaints were merely the result of apprehension, since it appeared that the Irish only affirmed that your Majesty would help them. The Queen closed the conversation by saying that, as she had experience of the slight esteem in which your Majesty held her letters, you having failed to give any decided answer to the envoys by whom he had sent them, she had decided to signify the above points to your Majesty through me, and begged that I would write to that effect.
After this she took me apart and told me that she had only taken this step in order to satisfy her Councillors, and that they might not say that she was neglecting a subject of such great importance to her. She had no other desire but to maintain the old friendship which had existed with your Majesty and the House of Burgundy, and, if necessary, to draw it closer by fresh treaties.
I could see that the Queen was in great fear of the fleet, and much desired that your Majesty should entertain the proposal to renew the alliance, because, although Alençon promises that by his influence her treaties with the French shall be confirmed, and a new alliance with them made on her own terms, she dares not trust them entirely, and consequently neither accepts nor refuses their proposals, but keeps Alençon in hand with fair words. She persuades him that what is of most importance for his claims and the advantage of France, is to make peace with the Huguenots and prevent the Netherlands from being pacified. It is understood here that Alençon has adopted this view and is urging it upon his brother.
The Portuguese who I wrote was here on behalf of Don Antonio, has left for Antwerp, as I understand to endeavour to get the merchants, with the permission of Orange, to send some arms and munitions, as he could get no other answer from the Queen here than what I wrote on the 20th ultimo.
They tell me that she is going to send a gentleman secretly to Portugal, and to judge from the person appointed, it may be inferred that he goes as a spy, under cover of bearing letters to the duchess of Braganza and Don Antonio, rather than to do anything of importance. Although a rumour is current here that the populace had proclaimed Don Antonio as King, and that consequently a number of English ships would go to help the Portuguese, it is only a baseless story invented by the merchants. Only 300 of the 1,000 soldiers who I mentioned were going to Ireland, are to go. They are to embark at Portsmouth, where the four ships now are.
The Queen has also ordered Davison, her former agent to the rebel States at Antwerp, to make ready to return thither. The queen of Scots is greatly distressed with a malady of the spleen and melancholy, and has consequently begged this Queen to allow her to go to the baths. (fn. 2) This has been granted, on condition that the earl of Shrewsbury and the ordinary guard are to accompany her. —London, 16th July 1580.
23 July. 36. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
After I had closed the accompanying letters, the Queen sent to say that, as her conversations with me had been so long, she considered it advisable to send me the heads of them in writing, and begged me not to communicate anything until she did so. This has caused me to delay the despatch until now, and I enclose her letter and document herewith. I see that the subjects are put in quite a different light from that in which they were treated verbally by her. I understand that the letter she writes to your Majesty is about loading English ships in Spain.
The enclosed proclamation has recently been published here, and as will be seen by its tenour, is inspired by the fear that the Catholics may rise. All the Catholics in London, and the whole of the country, who had been released on bail, or had given sureties to appear when summoned, have been ordered to surrender themselves in the London prisons within 20 days, under pain of death. A great number of them have already done so, and it is a subject of heartfelt gratitude to God that they bear with joy and confidence this travail and persecution, such as they have never been afflicted with before.
The French ambassador on the 2nd instant received a letter from the Queen-mother, half of which was written with her own hand. She says that she believes the Queen will not have given any help to Condé, seeing the good reason her son (i.e., the king of France) had for taking up arms against him and the Huguenots, but that the King had referred the whole matter of peace and war to his brother, if the Huguenots would make a beginning by disarming and surrendering the towns they had taken. The Commissioners, she had been informed, were coming hither, and if her presence would secure the settlement of the matter she had at heart, she would gladly accompany them herself. She says that Simier would come with the Commissioners, and the Queen is greatly pleased at this, and at the renewal of the marriage negotiations, for the reasons which I have already mentioned. News comes from Antwerp that Condé would request the States to grant him free ports in Holland and Zeeland where they may sell the goods captured from Catholics of all nations under the letters of marque granted for the purpose by him and Bearn. Villars and other French heretics who are with Orange are again talking of a marriage between him (Bearn?) and his (Orange's?) daughter.—London, 23rd July 1580.


  • 1. An interesting letter from Lord Grey to the earl of Sussex, dated 29th June, expressing sorrow at his appointment, and complaining of the "Scarborough warning" (i.e., short notice), will be found in the Cotton MSS. (Vesp., F. 12, p. 164.)
  • 2. Buxton.