Simancas: August 1582

Pages 394-400

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

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August 1582

8 Aug. 279. Bernardino de Mendoza to the King.
In addition to the reply, which I advised on the 25th ultimo, the Queen had given to the French ambassador respecting the concessions which had been made by the King, she said, calling him back for the purpose, that as the King's concessions were only in the form of vague words, she wished, as she said before, that he should send by a person of quality a document to the effect, signed and sealed with his own name, in order that her Ministers might consider it. She was not satisfied that the king of France should undertake only to defend her against all princes who might assail her dominions in consequence of the marriage, as that would seem to infer that he was not obliged to defend her if war were made against her on any other grounds, and she wished him again to pledge himself, by solemn oath, to uphold her against all her assailants whatsoever, and on these conditions she protested that she would marry Alençon. She has not yet sent any money to the latter, although he is constantly pressing her to do so, and the Ministers are doing the same, in consequence of the capture of Lierre. (fn. 1) Unless she succours Alençon and the rebels, such things as this will befall them daily.
I am told that the Queen said very secretly in her chamber that the king of Scotland had made protestations before the Ministers of his country, that he did not wish to change the religion in which he had been brought up, and would never become a Catholic. He said that the duke of Lennox only desired to maintain the rank which he, the King, had conferred upon him, as his nearest kinsman, and that, although the demands made upon him by the Protestants appeared to him at first hard to endure, he (Lennox) was now not displeased with their proceedings, and conformed to the laws as established. "Although both of them," she said (the King and Lennox), "have protested this, I know well that a Scotsman has secretly confessed that the king of Spain and the Pope have intelligence in Scotland, and that the queen of Scotland has written to the Pope, asking him not to be angry at the dissembling of her son and the duke of Lennox, as that was the course which was most likely to attain the end aimed at. But notwithstanding this, I shall oppose much more cunningly than they think the carrying out of their designs." She is now planning this through the earl of Angus.
The Queen lent 3,000l. sterling to Don Antonio when he was here, and I understand that she now peremptorily demands payment of the sum, taking possession of the diamond, which was pledged here for a sum of 5,000l. lent by merchants, who offer to relinquish their claim to the Queen, if she will lend them without interest 30,000l. for six years, out of the bars brought by Drake, which they will return in five yearly payments of 6,000l. each. So far as I can learn, this talk of the loan is a mere fiction, and is a cloak under which the Queen may keep the diamond for the 8,000l., on the ground that the merchants advanced the 5,000l. by her express order, without which they would not have done so. This plan was invented by Cecil in order to prevent Don Antonio from getting his diamond back again.
The ships which I advised they were fitting out for Brazil are now being got ready with furious haste, the Company of Merchants trading with Muscovy assisting with 3,000l. They are saying that it will be a very profitable voyage for them to go to the Moluccas instead of to Brazil. It will be greatly to your Majesty's advantage if you order every foreign ship which approaches the coast to be sent to the bottom. A ship has arrived in this country which had sailed for Muscovy. They report that the ships which the king of Denmark had armed in the bay of St. Nicholas have taken five Hollanders that went to trade in that port, and for that reason this ship has returned. The merchants here fear that if the eleven ships they sent do not run this risk they will have to return without cargo this year. I understand also that the maritime towns, Dantzic, Hamburg, and the rest, are helping Denmark in this, as they formerly possessed the Muscovy trade, and others had to go to their towns for the merchandise.—London, 8th August 1582.
14 Aug. 280. Bernardino de Mendoza to the King.
With regard to your Majesty's orders that I should proceed with the queen of Scotland and the duke of Lennox, in conformity with the instructions sent by your Majesty to Juan Bautista de Tassis, of which a copy is sent to me, I have done so ; as the queen of Scotland remarks, in one of the two letters of hers, which I now enclose with those written by her son. I have encouraged them to continue their action by holding out hopes of succour, whilst at the same time, pointing out that affairs in France and England at present keep your Majesty occupied. I followed this course in a way which should lead them to infer that, when the present circumstances changed, your Majesty would certainly help them, and I thus encouraged her (Mary) to continue in her indignation against the English and also made her shy of the French. As Tassis proceeded in a different way at first with Hercules, (fn. 2) I see that he has enlightened them (the French) somewhat.
Although it is quite plain that she (the queen of Scots) has done her best to prevail upon Lennox to remain in Scotland, her efforts are no longer of any avail against the intrigues of this Queen, and the great sum of money which she is spending ; endeavouring by every means to have d'Aubigny killed and obtain possession of the King's person and the Government. Lennox is being informed of this on all hands, and that rewards are offered here to anyone who will bewitch, poison, or kill him, or cast him out of the kingdom, so that he has good reason to fear every dagger in Scotland, particularly as people there are not only accustomed, for slight causes, to shed the blood of private persons, but do not hesitate to kill their kings. It is therefore natural that he should desire to extricate himself from such obvious danger, which is made more terrible by his fear at feeling himself in constant struggle and daily in the presence of death. His position, indeed, is so wretched, that it is reducing him to a deplorable condition, as I am informed from other sources, besides the Queen's letters. How anxious she is to keep him there, and how well disposed she is, will be seen by her words when she says that if it be necessary for the succour to be delayed the "fact must be hidden from him" and I must write and entertain him, as, indeed, I have done.
As I wrote to your Majesty from the first, the Queen desired her son to be converted by preaching, but she is now convinced that this method cannot be employed, since Lennox is the only man who could introduce those who could act in the business, and he does not wish to lose his place and position, much less his life. As he has now had to admit that he was a Catholic, and has no support or assurance against any attempt that may be made against him by the queen of England, through the Protestants, he would much rather leave the country taking the King with him, than be where he is ; or in any case save his own life by getting away. In this he would be helped by the English, who would find a silver-bridge for him, and would endeavour to obtain for him the enjoyment in France of what the King has granted him in Scotland, so long as he will leave the Government to them and allow the King to remain a heretic. I understand that, in view of this, the Queen (of Scotland) persists in her idea of the provision of money for the fortresses and pensions, which, she considers, are the only means by which Lennox can be kept in the country ; the fortification of the places for the purpose of assuring him against any sudden tumult, or invasion from England, in which case he would have a refuge, whither he might carry the King and await succour ; and the pensions, in order to afford a pledge that your Majesty is in earnest in aiding them, and to encourage them to continue in their demands. It will be difficult otherwise to persuade him and the rest to continue to endure their pressing danger in opposition to this Queen, so near and powerful, who is scattering money broad-cast, in order to ruin and undo him, and restore matters to the same condition in which they were in the time of Morton.
The earl of Angus reports from the Border that he believed he had secured to his side twelve personages, amongst whom would be the earl of Mar and Lord Huntly. They took him on his way to the Border very close to the place where the queen of Scotland is for the purpose of alarming her. She is doing her best to make sure of Arran, who is the person that this Queen and her Ministers thought most of. Both in this, and in all things, I can assure your Majesty that the poor lady (the queen of Scots) is leaving no stone unturned to secure the conversion of her son.
I am writing to Count de Olivares, (fn. 3) to point out to His Holiness that he ought to find money for the fortification of the places, as it is most important that Lennox and his friends should not be abandoned.
My sight is very bad, but I will willingly employ what is left of it, and my life, in serving your Majesty, since you deign to command me to stay in this place ; my only regret being that besides being blind, I shall not be of so much use to your Majesty as another would be, since my ill-luck will have it that these people continue as uncontrollable as ever. (fn. 4) They are sending a greater number of Englishmen to Flanders again, and the Queen openly gives passports to the captains. On the night of the 12th she sent to Alençon four boat-loads of broad-angels, 20,000l., which money was taken in a ship, on board of which there went the four best captains, and the four best pilots, in England. They are helping forward more furiously than ever the arming of ships for Brazil and the Moluccas, whilst they cry out at the top of their voices that they are free to undertake such expeditions ; besides this they are aiding the enterprise of Navarre which the queen (of Scotland) mentions in her letter.—London, 14th August 1582.
27 Aug.
Paris Archives. K. 1447. 164.
281. The King to Bernardino de Mendoza.
Gives an account of the victory of the Marquis of Santa Cruz at St. Michaels. (fn. 5);
Be very careful to note the effect of this, both public and private, in England, and discover, so far as you can, all plans and intentions arising from it, and the negotiations that exist between the French and the Queen. If she or her Ministers say anything to you about St. Michaels, you will know how to justify me and answer them fittingly, pointing out how dearly those who offend me so unjustly have to pay for their presumption, and how God punishes them. All this and such other means as you possess must be directed to preventing the Queen from allying herself to the French against me. You will use to this end either hope or fear, as you find most advisable. Even though it do not entirely divert her, you must manage to scent out all their plots and advise me in good time to provide against them. I sincerely commit all this to your care and diligence. Report frequently and fully.—Lisbon, 27th August 1582.
30 Aug. 282. Bernardino de Mendoza to the King.
The prince of Parma informs me in a letter dated 18th July that he had taken into his pay four hundred Englishmen who had gone over from the rebel army, in order to reduce the strength of the enemy and to increase the diffidence which now exists between them and the French. (fn. 6) I write to the Prince, saying that the question of engaging Englishmen who desert from the enemy is one for grave consideration, inasmuch as it partly concedes a point which the Queen has tried to establish since the beginning of the war, namely, that she may claim to be neutral, on the ground that the alliances between her and the house of Burgundy are virtually with the towns and States government, and not with the person of the Prince, although the contrary is quite clear from the tenour of the treaties. As I wrote at the time, when I first came hither, I had long disputes about this, and when M. de la Motte at Gravelines declared for your Majesty, and found it necessary to engage Englishmen, the Councillors here pointed out to me that his action proved that the people of this country might assist either side indifferently. I must now admit that the engagement of the Englishmen by the Prince puts them in the right. In the case of M. de la Motte I replied that the acts of a captain and private individual could not bind his sovereign. As this argument will not now serve, I have thought best to state the matter here, and to beg your Majesty to instruct me how I am to reply to the Queen and her Ministers if they mention it to me. Whilst advising the prince of Parma about it, I also mention that, of all the Englishmen that flock over to the rebels, not one is a Catholic, and that their leaders are terrible heretics dependent mostly upon Leicester and Walsingham. They cannot, therefore, be trusted as soldiers, or regarded otherwise than as spies in the camp, who, like Leicester and Walsingham themselves, will do nothing but weave treason to the cause of God and your Majesty. As, moreover, they are not veterans but inexperienced recruits, and bring nothing but their own persons to the service, there is no sufficient counterbalancing advantage in engaging them. If they are made much of and are punctually paid, as such people do not deserve to be, the soldiers of other nationalities will be offended ; whereas in the contrary case, the Englishmen will be sure to mutiny, even if they be not prompted to do so from here. This will be a bad example for the rest, and as the Prince of Parma has now, with the Italian reinforcements, a multitude of soldiers and is short of money, the withdrawal of the English from the rebel side cannot be productive of so much good, as harm, as the bad blood the Prince drains from the rebels to weaken them will be infused into his own body and cause corruption therein. The people here will promptly send orders for all the Englishmen who flock over to the rebels, at once to join your Majesty's forces. By this means they will purge their own country, which they say they want to do, whilst the Englishmen in the Netherlands will greatly increase in number, as the States alone could not afford to pay the quantity that will now go.
There is nothing fresh about French affairs, except that Marchaumont and Bacqueville have pressed the Queen to give them permission to go and join their master. She refuses to do so, and asks them what the world would say if they went away. All the Councillors have recently been absent from Court, and as soon as confirmation was received here from France of the defeat of Don Antonio's fleet by that of your Majesty, the Queen called them together and ordered two gentlemen to be arrested, because they said that Don Antonio's fleet had been destroyed and the Pretender killed, the charge against them being that they were spreading seditious news. They say that Terceira cannot even now be taken and that the rebel States are arming eighteen ships for Don Antonio to join those which I said the German colonel was fitting out at Embden, although he is very sluggish about it.
A proclamation published by the king of Scotland has reached here, and I send a copy of it to your Majesty. As his mother remarks, it is a certain proof that preaching will be of no avail to convert the King, but that he and the country must be dealt with by main force. It also shows how closely driven must Lennox be, since merely to maintain himself there he has to consent publicly to give such concessions as these.
I have received letters from Father William Holt in Scotland, who tells me that Lennox ..., (fn. 7) and also that John Seaton, son of Lord Seaton, had procured a passport from this Queen enabling him to go to Spain ; and from what I hear, it is to be feared that these Ministers may turn him inside out on his way through, and that Lord Seaton may quarrel with Lennox, in consequence of his hatred for Arran, which may be the cause why he is sending his son to Spain, in the belief that the best way to crush Arran will be to hasten the enterprise.
The priest who went to Rouen from Scotland wrote to me on the 9th saying that he had letters from the duke of Lennox dated the 4th expressing great surprise that no information had reached him about the envoys who had gone to your Majesty and to Rome. He says he is much pressed by the action of the Protestants, taken at the prompting of the queen of England.—London, 30th August 1582.


  • 1. The town was betrayed by Colonel Semple on the 2nd August. See letter from Herll to Burleigh, 3rd August, Hatfield Papers, Part II., Hist. MSS. Com.
  • 2. This was the cipher name given by Tassis to the Duke of Guise.
  • 3. The Spanish Ambassador in Rome.
  • 4. A few days before this was written Mendoza had been pelted and hooted in Fenchurch Street by a group of boys who were playing at soldiers. His carriage was obliged to take refuge in Lime Street, where the Lord Mayor, Sir James Harvey, dwelt, and his assailants then fled. Dr. Hector Nuñez to Burleigh, 9th August, Hatfield Papers, part 2, Hist. MSS. Com.
  • 5. This was the complete route of the French Naval Expedition under Strozzi in aid of Don Antonio. It was fought of the 24th July, and both Strozzi and Count Vimioso were slain.
  • 6. The Prince of Parma wrote to the King (Strada) that he had accepted the offer of service of these four hundred Englishmen to use them as "decoy birds to call the others," and so to weaken the enemy and perhaps arrange for the betrayal of some place garrisoned by English or Scotch troops. In this he was not deceived, as it led to the shameful treachery by which Colonel Sample betrayed the town of Lierre into the hands of the Prince.
  • 7. In the King's hand : "He does not finish what he says about Lennox."