Simancas: September 1582

Pages 400-404

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

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September 1582

1 Sept. 283. Bernardino de Mendoza to the King.
Yesterday morning the Queen received news from Berwick, that on the 22nd one of the plots she had been weaving with the earl of Angus had succeeded. It appears that six of the principal earls with whom he had arranged invited the King to a hunting party in a certain place, with the intention of capturing him, the duke of Lennox, and the earl of Arran. D'Aubigny, however, was warned in time, (fn. 1) and fled with six horses towards Lisleburg (i.e. Edinburgh), where the townspeople refused to receive him. He thereupon wrote to the constable of the castle who admitted him, and he was then surrounded by his opponents, aided by the townspeople, who are his enemies. The King is a prisoner, as well as the earl of Arran, whose brother was killed. They told him (the King) at once that he deserved all that happened to him, for allowing himself to be ruled by an excommunicated person like Lennox.
This Queen, her Ministers, and all the Court, are overjoyed at the news, and the Queen says openly that the "méchant" duke of Lennox will now be treated as he deserves, and will be properly condemned to lose his head by the laws of Scotland, as she is assured that he cannot escape from the castle.
In addition to the pensions, presents, and favours given to the earl of Angus, he was further inflamed in the project by these people with the promise that when D'Aubigny was expelled or killed he, Angus, should be the governor, as his uncle Morton was. As the person who arranged with Angus was the earl of Huntingdon, who claims to be the heir to this crown after the queen of Scotland, it may be feared that they will kill or poison the King. They are indeed already muttering this, and that his mother should be put out of the way at the same time, whereby Leicester and his party of heretics think they can assure the claim of Huntingdon, who is as great a heretic as any of them. I send this by special courier to Tassis begging him to forward it in the same way.—London, 1st September 1582.
5 Sept.
Paris Archives, K. 1560.
284. Juan Bautista de Tassis to the King.
News arrived here yesterday from the French ambassador in England that the men the Queen (of England) has in her favour in Scotland have seized the opportunity of the King's having gone on a hunting expedition, 24 leagues from Lisleburg, to capture him on his way home, and carry him to a castle (fn. 2) near, the leader of the enterprise being the earl of Argyll. Lennox was at a house of his near Lisleburg, and as soon as he heard what had happened he endeavoured to collect his friends to remedy the matter, but as many of them failed to appear he resolved to throw himself into the castle of Lisleburg, which is very strong, where he still is.
No intelligence of this has yet come direct from Scotland hither, and the Scots' ambassador here is much grieved at the news, although he is unable to form a judgment upon the matter, and is still in hope that the only object may have been the expulsion of Lennox. He thinks, certainly, however, that the whole affair has been contrived by the English-woman, who has been plotting it for some time past without regard to expense.
The duke of Guise will also have been sorry for it, as the King is his relative. As for Hercules (i.e. the duke of Guise) he is certainly distressed and eager to undertake the enterprise. He is also not without apprehension that this event may cause your Majesty to change your benevolent attitude towards it, and urges rather that this news increases the need for aid, and that the good resolutions should be persevered in, at least, until we learn the real state of things there. I can see that Hercules is extremely desirous of employing himself in this business, and I am of opinion that he will feel greatly flattered if good-will is shown to aid it as effectually as the case will allow.—Paris, 5th September 1582.
24 Sept.
Paris Archives. K. 1447.
285. The King to Juan Bautista De Tassis.
Having heard from Don Bernardino de Mendoza that the Queen of England was raising a great persecution against the duke of Lennox by means of the earl of Angus, whom she supplies with money for the purpose, and considering the injury which may be caused to Scotch affairs if the Duke loses heart and leaves the country, and that it is the duty of all of us who desire the welfare and submission of Scotland to encourage the Duke, I had ordered a credit for 10,000 crowns to be sent to you, to be forwarded to him with an exhortation to stand firmly in his position until God enabled effectual help to be afforded. Now, however, that I learn by your letter of the 5th of the unfortunate imprisonment of the King, the extremity in which Lennox was, and the distress of Hercules, I have decided not to alter my resolution, and I send you the enclosed despatch as intended, instructing you to condole in my name with Hercules in this trouble, and to inform him of my determination to send this small present aid to Lennox. If he thinks it will be opportune ask him to forward it, and tell him that you have my orders to pay it to the person he may appoint.
In the principal business of the submission of Scotland, you will tell him that I would gladly have helped, and still would do so, whenever I saw, on the one hand, really good grounds for anticipating a successful issue, and on the other, willingness on the part of His Holiness to contribute such money as the case demands (and as he has on various occasions promised me (fn. 3) ). You will not fail to hint dexterously at the coolness existing in that quarter, so that he may see that the affair is not falling through by any fault of mine, and that I am still as willing as ever. As, however, the prime consideration of the probable good or bad result of the enterprise will naturally be much influenced by these fresh events in Scotland, and the imprisonment of the King, you will ask Hercules what he thinks upon both points, and what he considers the best course to pursue, telling him how highly I shall prize his opinion, and assuring him of the goodwill I bear towards him. Assure him also that he may count upon my protection whenever he may require it. Try to draw the discourse to his own affairs, and take the opportunity of pointing out to him that as the king (of France) is ill, and has no children, he (Guise) will incur great danger when the realm falls into the hands of his enemies, which Alençon and Bearn are. Tell him that, so far as regards Alençon, he need seek no clearer proof of enmity than the Salcedo invention, and the false evidence they raised against him (Guise) for the purpose of causing a breach between him and the King. From this point you may lead up to the treatment he (Guise) may fear if the person who thus calumniates him once gets power in his hands.
With regard to Bearn, you may say that, in addition to his (Guise's) own danger, the destruction of the whole realm and the public infamy of the most Christian crown is to be feared if it should fall into the hands of a man who is not a Catholic. Besides the danger of this, it will be a standing disgrace to those who are true Catholics like himself. You will then assure him of my affection for him, because he is a Catholic and well disposed towards my interests ; and in case he desires to ensure himself against the consequences of the King's death, or the attacks of his enemies, he may count upon all the aid necessary from me for his security and welfare. Having this in view, he may henceforward make his calculations more confidently, both in regard to France and England. It will be well that he should consider especially what he can do in the latter country to favour the cause of his relatives, the king and queen of Scotland, and to pay the queen of England in the coin she deserves for her action against both mother and son. Tell him I shall be glad to learn all that occurs, particularly in this matter, and will help him opportunely and effectively ; but you will take great care to banish from his mind all suspicion that I can have any personal object in Scotch or English affairs, other than a desire to serve the cause of our Lord, and the conversion of those nations, which could then come to their rightful owners. This is no less so in the affairs of France, where I only desire, in case the King should die, that my enemies may not be able to play me any tricks ; and for this reason I advise him (Guise) to guard against and beware of his own enemies, which, indeed, are common to us both. You will carry out all this very precisely and dexterously, letting me know what passes and your opinion of it. If you learn that Lennox is in a position which renders it unadvisable or useless to send him the 10,000 crowns, you will keep the money in your possession, telling Hercules however of the willingness with which I sent the money and the destined object. You will keep it in such case until you get orders from me.— Lisbon, 24th September 1582.
Postscript in the King's hand :—"In addition to the aforegoing, you may also tell Hercules to bear in mind that, so far as religion is concerned, there will be as little security with the first person mentioned" (i.e. Alençon) "as with the second" (Bearn).
24 Sept.
Paris Archives, K. 1447. 174.
286. The King to Bernardino De Mendoza.
Your letters of 25th July, 1st, 8th, and 30th August, and 1st September are to hand. Thanks for full advices contained, and for your having sent to the prince of Parma news of the plots and plans against Flanders. Continue to do so and to sow distrust in the breasts of those people against the French, whilst not allowing them (the English) to despair of gaining my friendship if they act properly.
The ships being fitted out for Brazil and the Moluccas may perhaps meet with their desert, and also those for Florida. You will report all you can discover about them, paying particular attention to this matter of armaments, as I am told that the Queen-mother (of France) persists in her hopes of some Dutch hulks, and the ships she expects from the queen (of England) to enable her to fit out another fleet and try her fortune again. (fn. 4) It will not be so easy to do as it is to arrange on paper. As no one can discover so well as you if any ships are being prepared in Holland for Don Antonio at the instance of the Queen-mother, you will keep me continually informed on the point, and also as to what is being done in England. Let me know whether anyone has arrived there from Don Antonio since the defeat, and, if so, what reception he got.
It is very needful for you to keep your correspondents well in hand as they are apparently so useful to you, and it was therefore well to pledge the second confidant with the 500 crowns and promise him a pension of 1,000, which it is understood will only be paid him whilst he gives satisfaction and not otherwise. He will thus be careful to please. It was well to report to the prince of Parma the evil that may be done by the English in his pay, but he is so careful and vigilant that he will take care they do not deceive him. The whole result of the Scotch affairs, of which we had much to say to you in answer to your letters on the subject, seems to have been the unfortunate imprisonment of the King and the extremity of Lennox. On account of religion and of the King's trouble I am grieved at this ; and still more so on account of the distress of his mother, with whom you will condole sincerely on my behalf. Assure her how interested I was in this business, and that at all times she will find me ready to help her interests with such instruments as the case may demand. At present, until we know how the first confusion and the persecution of Lennox has ended, no trustworthy judgment can be formed, and I will suspend all comments upon the matter until then. I may say, however, that the person who came hither is on the point of leaving.— Lisbon, 24th September 1582.


  • 1. Sir James Melvil (Memoirs) gives an account of his warning of Lennox, who was then at Dalkeith, and of his pusillanimous tardiness in dealing with the crisis. Melvil was apprised of the plot in Edinburgh ten days before its execution, and rode to Dalkeith without a moment's delay, but Lennox contented himself with sending the news to Arrau, and himself retired to Dumbarton, until the King had been captured and Arran crushed, when action was useless.
  • 2. Ruthven, in the county of Forfar. This took place on 22nd August.
  • 3. The words in brackets are added to the draft in the King's hand.
  • 4. That is to say against Philip's assumption of the crown of Portugal.