Simancas: February 1580

Pages 4-16

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

This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. All rights reserved.


February 1580

13 Feb.
Paris Archives, (fn. 1) (late) B 51.56.
3. Juan De Vargas Mejia to the King.
On the 11th I went to visit the Scots ambassador to hear anything that M. de Guise might have told him about Flanders. He told me that he (Guise) was engaged in what he considered one of the most important matters possible, namely, by secret means to prevent the agreement between the duke of Alençon, Bearn, Condé, and the Huguenots. He was keeping his cousins the duke of Aumale and the marquis of Elbœuf near Alençon for this purpose, and if he succeeded, as he hoped, he thought he should have done great service to God and your Majesty, as the Queen of England and Orange were trying all their devilish arts to bring them together and attach them to themselves. I thanked him (Beaton) and asked him to thank M. de Guise and urge him to continue in a task so worthy of him, as I was sure he would prefer the cause of God, with which your Majesty's interests were bound up, to all other things. In the course of the conversation the ambassador said, "I wanted to have seen you before but deferred doing so, in the expectation that M. de Guise would see you first ; it having been agreed between us that he should secretly visit you in disguise and alone one of these nights, and speak with you at length. I was anxious for you to hear from him personally what he wished to convey to you, so that you might not think it came from me. But since we are together I will not conceal it from you, only asking you to keep it to yourself, as my friend ; since my head depends upon it, as you will see when you have heard what I have to say. When M de Guise speaks to you about it, do not let him suspect that you have heard a word. I take this course because I recognise your straightforwardness and your attachment to the cause of God and the interests of my mistress ; and seeing the important bearing this matter may have on the affairs of Flanders. For more than a year past I have tried by every means to induce her (the queen of Scotland) to adopt a course which I thought would be most beneficial to both causes ; and, to make a long story short, I will now confine myself to showing you the words she herself writes to me. She instructs me to inform you that she has determined to place herself, her son and her realm, in the hands and under the protection of his catholic Majesty unreservedly ; sending her son to Spain, if his Majesty wishes, and having him married there entirely according to his Majesty's pleasure. She orders me to convey this decision to the duke of Guise, her kinsman and confidant. He (the duke of Guise) took the matter in hand and said he wished to be the first person to propose it to you." I thanked him (Beaton) and promised secrecy, and said I would go whither M. de Guise wished, in disguise, to save him trouble, if he would send me word. I did not carry the matter further or ask any questions, in order not to appear curious and arouse suspicion. He told me that means were offered for his mistress to escape from prison, but she refused them as her aim was to leave her prison queen of England and not otherwise, even though it cost her life. I asked him whether the Queen could dispose of her son to send him to Spain or elsewhere. He said yes ; but not very emphatically.
As the matter is of so much importance I have thought well to inform your Majesty at once, in order that you may have it maturely considered. Such is the present condition of England, with signs of revolt everywhere, the Queen in alarm, the catholic party and the friends of the Queen of Scotland numerous, the events occurring in Ireland, and the distrust aroused by your Majesty's, fleet, that I really believe that if so much as a cat moved the whole affair would crumble down in three days beyond repair. They know it perfectly well themselves, and hence their fear. If to all this be added a rising of Scots ; or the queen of Scotland's party in England were to make an arrangement with her, your Majesty's fleet helping them as soon as it is free from Portugal, with the added advantage which the possession of that country gives your Majesty, it seems as if the affair might be openly undertaken, in despite of all they might do ; even if they attempted resistance, which probably they would not do, as it would soon be over. If your Majesty had England and Scotland attached to you, directly or indirectly, you might consider the States of Flanders conquered, in which case you would be a monarch who could lay down the law for the whole world. In order to keep these people (the French) from interfering, it is of the greatest importance that M. de Guise be concerned in the affair. His close connection with the queen of Scotland would enable him and his house to keep them in check, and perchance they (the Guises) might find an opportunity of seizing for themselves various territories of this Crown, which would thus be weakened in a way that no fear might be felt of it. The injury and inconvenience caused by the constant suspicion of their (the French) power and machinations would then disappear, and your forces be free to remedy evils everywhere and fight the infidels and other sects and seditions. So far as I understand the queen of Scotland, from my knowledge of her actions and from having seen her here, I consider her a woman of valour and deeply offended with these people, upon whom, woman-like, she wishes to be revenged. From what I could gather from the Ambassador, her view is to marry her son to one of the infantas, and, on his conversion, to make him king of England and Scotland, whilst she will marry whom she pleases ; having no doubt thought of the prince of Parma. I know that this match has been broached, and your Majesty's English pensioners with the army are talking about it, perhaps to please the Prince. The English ambassador here says that letters have been intercepted dealing with the matter at great length.
I forgot to say that some time ago Balfour of Burleigh, a Scotsman whom I have mentioned several times, and who now lives here, wished to see me and propose under certain conditions to induce all the Scotsmen in Flanders to retire, and perhaps at the same time to do your Majesty some signal service. We commenced negotiations when he arrived here, and as a mark of confidence and to learn what there was in the proposal, I secretly mentioned it to the ambassador who is an honest trustworthy man. He advised me to listen to Balfour who, he said, was clever and was able to be of service, if he liked, especially in the way indicated. Balfour has not yet opened the matter to me but has told the ambassador that he wishes to do so, and when the interview I have just described with the ambassador took place, the latter said, "I have communicated to my mistress the proposal which Balfour wished to make ; and I may tell you privately that she writes approving of it. Balfour will now speak to you about it, and I will see that he carries the matter forward. You and I will then consider how it can be arranged." The matter so remains, and I venture to point out to your Majesty that, as so much advantage might be obtained from it, it would be worth while to have it carefully considered and a decision sent to me, so that if the proposal is to be accepted, the parties may be treated in a way which will encourage others ; and if not, they may be diverted in such a manner as shall prevent them from feeling aggrieved or repent of having opened out to me.—Paris, 13 February 1580.
B. M. MSS. Add. 28702. No date. 4. Document Endorsed : "Reply ordered by Cardinal de Granvelle to be given in writing to Englefield."
His Majesty desires nothing better than to see the queen of Scotland free, and together with her son, safe and contented ; with the Catholic religion restored both in Scotland and England ; and they will find his Majesty as well-disposed as ever he has been.
Matters are now much changed from the position in which they were when it was proposed to rescue the King from the hands of Morton and bring him to Spain or elsewhere, that he might be brought up in the Catholic faith, which is the principal point, as without assurance of this no step should be taken about his marriage.
Now the King has Morton under arrest, whilst he is free to govern his kingdom himself, and with the aid of d'Aubigny to stand against those, who from within or without, should attempt to obstruct him.
Things being in this condition, it would be very bad advice for the King to leave his country, as it would discourage those who are on his side, and have recently declared themselves, whilst his opponents would gather fresh courage ; and the King's friends, finding themselves in peril, might join with their enemies, and so exclude the King from his realm for good.
His Majesty will be glad to learn the present position of affairs in Scotland, what the King thinks of doing, what facilities he has to sustain himself and go forward, what course he intends to pursue with Morton, what aid he expects from France, and from whom there, who are his adherents in his own country, and who his opponents, what is their strength, what troops has the King, and what fortified places? (fn. 2)
20 Feb. 5. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
In reply to your Majesty's question as to whether Drake gave any sureties here before he sailed, there is a law which was made here to exonerate these pirates, the effect of which is that they have to give sureties before sailing, not to injure anyone excepting those who are the declared enemies of this Crown. It is, however, a dead letter, and when any attempt by a private person is made in due form to enforce it, it is found impossible to do so. In one case an Englishman on his way from Spain with merchandise, stole 150 crowns worth of fish from one of your Majesty's subjects belonging to Corunna, who sent a power here to demand restitution. The people came to me to make the claim on the sureties who had been given by the Englishman in the port, but they were not worth a crown and nothing could be got, the names themselves being false. Those who sail for the purpose of robbery do not give sureties at all as they are generally under the protection of the principal courtiers, as, for instance, Drake, who was fitted out by Leicester and his friends.
For months past I have had men secretly staying in some of the western ports, where it is expected that Drake will first arrive if he comes hither, in order that I may have instant news of his coming. I have not been able to do more than this, because his principals, as soon as they had the news I mentioned about his capture, ordered the justices of the ports to aid him in getting off safely. When I speak to the Queen about it and to her ministers, which I have only done yet in general terms, as your Majesty ordered, it will be well, if. your Majesty approves, to threaten that, if they do not make entire restitution and punish the pirates, your Majesty will issue letters of marque for the owners to recover their property, taking possession of English property wherever they may find it. This is what they fear most, and the merchants themselves make the greatest outery over it, saying that, because two or three of the principal courtiers send ships out to plunder in this way, their property must be thus imperilled and the country ruined. This makes them more anxious to condemn it and to give me information, when they know of any of the plunder being concealed.
They are apprehensive about Drake's return as the voyage is long and he must be short of ships. They think that if he do not arrive within two months they must give him up as lost. Those ships which I wrote were fitting out for St. Vincent on the coast of Brazil, are now ready to sail.—London, 20th February 1580.
6. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
The English merchants here some time ago received the ships which were dispatched from Spain for them at the end of December and beginning of January, and at the same time had letters from their agents in Madrid saying that your Majesty had not yet given them a reply about the loading of the ships. This has swollen their pride more than ever, and they declare, with terrible insolence, that your Majesty has granted them no favour, and that you have been forced by pure necessity to give them the permission, as there are not ships in Spain to carry the merchandise. As it is so important to your Majesty's service that they should be oppressed and powerless to carry out their evil intentions, I cannot help telling your Majesty what I think about the matter, in view of events here, humbly beseeching your Majesty to pardon my great boldness which is only prompted by my ardent zeal.
The trade with Spain is of the greatest importance to the English, as I set forth in the report I sent on the 25th September, it being the principal source of their wealth and strength, which consists mainly in the great number of their ships. They are daily building more ; but the moment the Spanish trade fails them and they are not allowed to ship goods in Spain they will stop building, as they have no other trade so profitable, both on account of the vast sums of specie they bring, which they can get from no other place, and the richness of the merchandise which they carry. This makes them almost the masters of commerce in other parts as well, as they have the monopoly of the shipping, whereby they profit by all the freights. Although for many reasons it is unadvisable to entirely prohibit them from shipping goods at this time, it will be very advantageous for your Majesty to order that the edict should be re-published, that they may see the favour and boon that your Majesty gave them, and be made to understand that in future the edict will be carried out and that special license will have to be given to ship goods in any place in the manner decided by your Majesty. This is most important in Andalusia, as they would suffer more from being prevented from shipping goods there than elsewhere, on account of the great cargoes of oil, wines, and fruits, which are sent from there, and of which vast quantities are consumed in England, and in consequence of the shortness of the number of ships in that province to carry their produce, owing to the fertility of the country and the inaptitude of the inhabitants for a seafaring life ; a sterile soil being generally the only reason why men overcome their dread of so dangerous a trade. In this way, if special license is given as a favour in each case, and in order that the crops in Andalusia and elsewhere may have an outlet, the English will be kept in suspense and will take care not to offend your Majesty, as they are most anxious not to lose this benefit, in which the whole country is concerned. They will therefore not attempt to interfere with your forces on the Indian voyage and elsewhere, whilst, at the same time, they will not care to build new ships for the trade which they see will only be temporary and uncertain, they having to beg for license each separate time. The great part of their strength will thus be consumed when the trade comes to an end, and this they fear so much that they cannot conceal it. They confess that it will utterly ruin this country, the principal reason why they have grown so rich in the last ten years being that they have had the carrying trade of Spanish goods. It will be difficult to stop it except by the means now suggested, or by God's punishing them with a civil intestine war, such as they richly deserve.—London, 20th February 1580.
7. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
In addition to the preparations ordered to be made by the Queen, detailed in my former letters, she has given instructions for ten more of her ships to put to sea in company with the first seven. She has also commanded the city of London to raise 4,000 foot-soldiers, which the towns here usually do on the sovereign's demand, the towns paying for their equipment and wage until they arrive at the place where they are to be employed or shipped ; after which they are maintained by the sovereign.
She has also ordered a general muster of the militia throughout the country, as is customary here. There will be about 80,000 or 90,000 infantry on the rolls altogether, so that when an alarm is sounded in any part of the country and the beacon fires are lit as a signal, they can collect 25,000 at any given point within 12 hours to prevent a landing ; the rest of the force following them later, as may be ordered. Most of the men are armed with bows, and the rest with weapons of all sorts, in the use of which, however, they are not very expert.
The insurgents in Ireland keep bravely afoot, and although the English are sorely beset by them and are daily beseeching the Queen to send them succour of all kinds, nothing has been sent but victuals, as the Council think it will be unwise just now, to give an appearance of importance to the rising. They fear it might result in disturbance here, in conjunction with the coming of the Spanish fleet. They therefore are putting the matter off until a more convenient season, saying that they cannot carry on a campaign now, as most of the Englishmen who take the field there in the winter die, whilst the Irish are such changeable people that no trust can be placed in them, although it is now generally affirmed that the earl of Desmond is acting in a way that will cause the Queen much trouble.
The earl of Shrewsbury who is guarding the queen of Scots is very ill, and this Queen has sent Middlemore, a gentleman of her Privy Chamber, a great heretic, and badly disposed towards the queen of Scots, to take charge of her until further orders.
The Portuguese ambassador has been discussing with the Queen the business about which he came, namely the extension of the treaty by which the English are not to trade with the Mina (fn. 3) nor with Barbary. She answered him that she would appoint the ministers with whom he was to negotiate, but I am told that she has not yet done so, and is delaying the matter with the object of keeping it pending until the declaration about the Portuguese succession is made. They think that if the Portuguese unanimously accept your Majesty's right, she will be able to get greater concessions than before ; whilst, if the contrary happens, the Portuguese in order to obtain her help will consent to any terms.
Four days ago the Queen sent for Davison, who used to be her representative in Antwerp, and asked him why the States did not pay her the money she had lent them, the time having expired. He replied that the war and their needs prevented them from doing so, whereupon she told him that he was a knave, and that others like him had persuaded her into this, and had got her to help rebels ; she said she did not know how she was going to get out of it, even with the loss of her money.
Nothing more has been heard about the English trade with the land of the Turk since the departure of the many vessels which I mentioned, and amongst them one that was to go to the isle of Chios, whence an Englishman from her was to go and negotiate.
Stafford came from France five days since, it is believed with a decided resolution about the marriage. This has caused the matter to be discussed more lukewarmly than before ; Parliament having been prorogued until April as soon as Stafford arrived.— London, 20th February 1580.
8. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
In accordance with the orders contained in your Majesty's letter of 29th December I saw the Queen on the 12th instant. I found her so much alarmed about the fleet, no doubt accused by her own evil conscience, that she descended from the dais in the privy-chamber and came forward six paces to meet me. Before I could say a word she asked me whether I came as a herald to declare war upon her ; to which I replied that it was she, apparently, who was going to war with all the world ; seeing the great number of men and ships she was raising. She said that was in order that she might not be thought neglectful, and she would never make war upon your Majesty unless you began it first ; which she could not by any means believe you would do, nor that you would employ your fleet against her, seeing your close neighbourhood with Barbary and your having a continual war with the infidel on your hands, and having rebel subjects to punish elsewhere, without disturbing one who was a sister to you. She had, as such, always done her best for the tranquillity of the Netherlands, and to prevent the French from getting a footing there. I dwelt upon this subject, and pressed it home seeing her so timid ; saying that, so far as her own goodwill was concerned, I believed that the course she indicated had been adopted, but that her ministers had not carried it out. On the contrary, the rebels had received great and constant aid and support from this country, with no other result to it than the waste of its wealth and power, and in disregard of the alliance with your Majesty, the only thanks she got from the rebels being, as she saw, the usual ones of bringing danger and strife upon herself through them. Moreover, I said, your Majesty's subjects were being daily plundered here by Englishmen ; and my constant requests to her and her ministers for restitution and redress were without result, besides which ships sailed from this country to rob on the route to the Indies. She asked me whether I knew of any such ships having returned, to which I replied that I did not, as I was sure they were dealt with there as they deserved, namely, by being sent to the bottom. But if by any lucky chance one of them should come back, I could not persuade myself that it would be necessary for me to urge her to punish them. It was, indeed, most advisable in her own interests that it should be done in exemplary fashion, as the affair was so shameful and pernicious, and might produce much evil to her. On your Majesty's side very different treatment was meted out to her ; for not only did she owe her life and her crown to you, but she had never yet seen a Spanish sword unsheathed against her ; whereas I myself had often had to fight against subjects of hers who were with your Majesty's rebel subjects, notwithstanding the kindness shown to them throughout your Majesty's dominions. I pointed out, too, the great favour you had recently done them (the English) in allowing them, for once, freely to load their ships ; on account of her having assured them that they should do so, although the cargo they loaded belonged to your Majesty's subjects, and brought great profit to the English, the freight alone bringing them 50,000 crowns. She replied that she valued the privilege highly, as did the ships which had arrived, and she thanked me for my good offices in the matter.
She kept me talking for almost three hours, one of her principal subjects of conversation being her surprise at the secrecy your Majesty had maintained regarding the designs of the fleet, such, she said, as had rarely been seen ; as in most cases from the nature of the preparations, and other indications, the objects of such armaments are understood. In order to keep her in suspense, and divert her from the plans they are trying to persuade her to adopt, by which the French, with her aid, may enter Flanders, I tried to increase her alarm by ambiguous and significant words ; and said that it was no wonder that attempts to discover the secret had failed, since you had the infidels as constant enemies, as well as the rebels ; besides which many others had offended you. Your Majesty's fleet was so powerful that anyone could understand that it was equal to many enterprises, either united or separated into two or three divisions, this being the reason why its object had not been fathomed. When she saw she could get nothing out of me by these means, she began caressing me with her witcheries and said surely by some' indications I had been able to judge what the destination of the fleet was to be. I replied that she well knew that kings treated their ministers as the stomach treats the members of the human body ; that is to say, only giving to each one so much nourishment as might be necessary for the proper performance of its own functions ; but if your Majesty had not, as I had told her, decided to lock the secret in your own breast, I should have no difficulty in understanding the object of so great an enterprise as this. This frightened her more than before, and she was very amiable. It is important that those who may represent your Majesty here should bear this in mind, as when she is in this mood she gives audience freely, and her disposition towards affairs and that of her ministers can be better understood in personal conversation with her ; besides which she speaks to her ministers differently when she is well informed. If, on the other hand, she is not inclined to deal personally with the representative here, she refers to the Council the decision as to the day of audience ; which they delay until they can discover something about the matter he has in hand, and they can then advise the Queen, who is thus forearmed.—London, 20th February 1580.
21 Feb.
Paris Archives (late) B 51. 67.
9. Juan De Vargas Mejia to the King.
The Scotsman Balfour of Burleigh came to see me on the 20th, and after beating about the bush for a long time trying to come to the point respecting which I wrote in my last, he began to profess his great desire to be useful to your Majesty if an opportunity were offered for him to do so which should redound also to the benefit of his own mistress, who was so much attached to you that any service done to you she would consider as done to herself. He stuck to this point with an infinity of words, saying that his deeds would prove him, and so on, but without coming to particulars. As I knew perfectly well what he was driving at, and thought it made all the difference in the world whether the matter was first broached by him or by me, I replied simply thanking him and saying I would let your Majesty know. (fn. 4) I closed with him by saying that his prudence and knowledge of the state of affairs were so great that they would doubtless suggest to him how he could put his goodwill into practice ; and I begged him to speak openly to me, and I would convey his proposals to your Majesty, from whom he might be sure of receiving a worthy recompense for any service he performed.
At this point the Scots ambassador entered, and he waited over two hours for Balfour to go and leave us alone. At last he was obliged to tell him in his own language and he went. When we were rid of him the ambassador said he had not come before in consequence of its being Carnival time, and he wished Balfour to speak to me first. He had promised to do so three days before, and he, the ambassador, did not want to meet him. I told him M. de Guise's message about his credence, and he said he had now given him a full account of the whole matter with my reply. He then opened out on the proposal he had to make, which in effect is identical with that which I have informed your Majesty his mistress had written to him to tell me, for your Majesty's information, namely, that after mature consideration she had decided to place herself, her son and her realm, under your Majesty's protection entirely, well knowing that she was serving our Lord in doing so, as it would result in the salvation of the whole country and its conversion to our holy faith, together with England ; which would lead to the submission of Flanders and the universal good of Christendom. She was determined thus to avoid her son's remaining as he is, in the hands of those people who wish to marry him to a daughter of Denmark, for which purpose a Danish ambassador is now in Scotland, or to some other lady of the queen of England's choosing, such as a daughter of Orange. I again tried to ascertain whether, if your Majesty approved, they could be sure of putting the Prince into your hands, and he answered me now more confidently that they had means of doing so. He earnestly begged me for God's sake to let no one know of this business, as I could see how much depended upon secrecy both to his mistress and himself. He said that up to the present, not a living soul knew of it but M. de Guise, himself, and I. Above all he prayed me that M. de Saint Goard (fn. 5) should not get the least scent of it, as he sells himself, and they look upon him here as a person deep in the confidence of your Majesty's court. If he knew of it the whole project would be ruined. He besought me most urgently, since his mistress had so firmly and voluntarily made the offer, and was in sore need of consolation, that an answer should be sent to her as soon as possible, as was indeed also rendered necessary by the nature of the business itself. He repeated what he said the other day that his mistress did not intend to leave where she is, except as queen of England, and he assured me that her adherents and the Catholics were so numerous in the country that, if they rose, it would be easy even without assistance, but with the help of your Majesty it would soon be over, without any doubt. Heagain pointed out to me the anxiety and suspense caused to the English ambassador, and all England, by your Majesty's fleet ; and the great things that might be done in Ireland, and how desirable it was to keep up their alarm. He also mentioned the inclination shown by many of the gentlemen of his own nation to serve your Majesty (especially by Lord Hamilton) in either of the two enterprises, and the large number of followers they could bring.
With regard to Balfour of Burleigh, he tells me that he (Beaton) communicated with his mistress Balfour's proposals, without the knowledge of the latter, and she writes approving of them and instructing him to carry the matter forward warmly and dexterously ; keeping her informed, but not allowing her name to be mentioned in the matter, so that in the case of disaster she shall not be compromised in any way. We arranged that he should tell Balfour to speak frankly to me, and, if he thinks necessary to sound his Scots again, that he should take a trip thither (i.e. to Flanders).—Paris, 21st February 1580.
28 Feb. 10. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
Since I wrote to your Majesty on the 20th, the French ambassador has had audience, and pressed the Queen greatly, on behalf of Alençon, for a decided answer as to whether she would marry him or not. She replied that it was not a matter that could be concluded in such a hurry, and she could not avoid taking the opinion of her Council and her subjects. There was much talk between them about it, which ended in the ambassador telling her that if she did not marry him, Alençon would be obliged to publish her letters to him in order to exonerate himself for having come to England, and that people might know that he had not come through his own flightiness, but on the assurance contained in the letter she had written him. She replied that she was surprised that Alençon should think of treating any lady in this way, much less a Queen. She was extremely angry and embarrassed at the conversation.
After this, being alone in her chamber with Cecil and the archbishop of York, whom she considers a clever man, she said : "My Lord, here I am between Scylla and Charybdis. Alençon has agreed to all the terms I sent him, and be is asking me to tell him when I wish him to come and marry me. If I do not marry him, I do not know whether he will remain friendly with me ; and if I do, I shall not be able to govern the country with the freedom and security that I have hitherto enjoyed. What shall I do?" He answered that they would all be pleased with whatever she decided ; whereupon the Queen turned to Cecil and said, "What do you think about it? you have not been to the Council these three days past." He replied that if it were her pleasure to marry she should do so, as no harm could come to the country thereby, Alençon having agreed to all the conditions as they were submitted to him ; but if she did not intend to marry she ought to undeceive Alençon at once. She replied, "That is not the opinion of the rest of the Council, but that I should keep him "in correspondence." Cecil answered that he had always heard that they who tricked princes tricked themselves. "How can I tell," she said, "the feeling of the king of Spain towards me ; and whether it is meet for me to let go my hold on France?" So far as I can understand, the prorogation of Parliament immediately on Stafford's arrival here was done in order that it might serve for an excuse, if it were needful, to delay matters and to enable the negotiations to be postponed until its re-assembly. Alençon's pressing for an answer now, doubtless is owing to the idea that if she do not marry him, he can force her to help him in his plans in the Netherlands, in order to avoid an entire rupture between her and the French. This is apparently one of his designs, as the day before the ambassador saw the Queen two gentlemen came from Condé and La Noue (fn. 6) to ask for aid.
The States of the Union have sent to the Queen through Orange, to request permission to engage 1,500 Englishmen, and they have been told that the colonels and captains have already been appointed but the men cannot be sent until the States say what assurance will be given for their pay, and name the places in which they are to be quartered, to avoid their being treated as on former occasions. I am told the Queen is manœuvring for these Englishmen, if they go, to be placed in some important fortresses, so that she may have a better security for the money she has sent to the States, which she will endeavour to recover by all possible means. She is particularly pressing about the amount she sent when Casimir came. That was, as I wrote at the time, when Cobham and Walsingham were sent to the States and delivered the money and alum to them, saying that the Queen required more security than they had given her, which consisted of bills accepted by the States with the consent of the councillors of Antwerp. The States thereupon brought out some of the silver which they had taken from the churches and lodged in the mint to be coined, together with a quantity of jewels obtained from the same places. These were placed before Cobham and Walsingham in a coffer, the total value being estimated at 130,000 crowns. The coffer was locked with three keys which remained in the hands of the States, and this coffer was brought with the rest here to England, where it now is. The Queen has sent for the keys as she says she requires payment and wishes to see the security. The States have sent the keys by a special messenger, saying that when she desires to pay herself from the contents of these coffers she must accept the valuation of them which was made for the States. The 4,000 infantry I mentioned in my last, as having been ordered to be raised by the city of London, are being got together with great diligence, as also are the ships. As time is necessary to fit out all the Queen's ships, she has ordered eleven of her vessels to sail accompanied by eleven armed merchantmen. They will sail in the middle of next month, Lord Howard being admiral, and will take in them the 4,000 London troops and a part of those which are being raised in Kent.—London, 28th February 1580.


  • 1. The numbering of the Simancas papers in the Paris Archives has recently been changed, but documents in future will be distinguishable, either under the old or the new references.
  • 2. In the B.M. MSS. Add. 28702, as a pendant to the above memorandum, there is a note from the King's secretary at Badajoz on the Portuguese frontier where the King then was, to Cardinal de Granvelle at Madrid, dated 2nd June 1580, advising the arrival of Fernihurst there and enclosing for the consideration of the Cardinal and Sir Francis Englefield the papers brought by him. The King desires the answer to be sent soon so that he may get rid of the Scotch envoy, whom, says the Secretary, they had some difficulty in understanding "as he only talked broad Scotch, without any other manner of tongue ; a fine thing indeed for a place like Badajoz!" In another note from the Secretary to De Granvelle dated 17th June the former says that Fernihurst's pretensions are very great but that the King will certainly have to grant either pensions or a subsidy. See also the preceding letter which details the approaches made by Beaton to the Spanish ambassador in Paris with a similar object to that of Fernihurst's mission.
  • 3. The Mina, now called Elmina, was the principal Portuguese station in West Africa.
  • 4. In the King's hand : "He acted well with Balfour in first trying to get to the bottom of the business and keeping him in hand by promises of due reward."
  • 5. The French ambassador in Madrid.
  • 6. François de la Noue—Bras de fer—the famous Huguenot commander, formerly Governor of Rochelle, had accepted the invitation of the States-General of the Netherlands to become Adjutant-General of their armies.