Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 3, 1580-1586. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1896.
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|1581. 9 Jan.||
59. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
With regard to your Majesty's orders that I should inform you about Ireland, I have hitherto done so, and also that they have brought the Colonels and Captains (i.e. of the Papal force) prisoners hither, and permission has been given to them to send one of their number named Giustiniano, a Genoese, to inform the Pope as to what has been done.
The Viceroy kept Captain Arteaga, who, when he was asked by whose orders he had brought his company to Ireland, replied that he came by your Majesty's orders, and could show documentary evidence of this. I am told that this evidence has been sent hither by the Viceroy, and is in the form of an order given by some judicial authority in Biscay for him to raise troops. Stafford's instructions to speak to Alençon about Ireland were that he was to complain of your Majesty in this matter, amongst others, in order to inflame Alençon the more in the Netherlands enterprise, and, at the same time, to discover whether the Pope had taken part in this Irish business with the knowledge of the king of France, of which they are still suspicious, this suspicion being constantly kept alive by the heretics, who assert that your Majesty, the Pope, and the king of France, have a secret league against them. (fn. 1)
Captain Winter, with three of the ships the Queen had in Ireland, has returned hither, leaving there two other ships and an oargalley. He brings news from the Viceroy that he, being suspicious of Kildare, had arrested him and a son of his, the eldest son and heir having escaped, as well as his servants, a son-in-law, and four men of rank, three being lords and one a baron, so that they say that the only man of position who is now on the Queen's side is the Earl of Ormond ; since O'Neil, although he has not declared himself against her, has put his vassals under arms. The councillors therefore fear the insurgents more than ever, and if the Papal soldiers had only had spirit enough to hold out for a few days and had been fit for their task, the general opinion is that the English would have by this time lost all footing in Ireland excepting in a few walled towns.
Neither this Queen nor her subjects seem at all anxious to ascertain whether your Majesty will allow ships to load under the edict, as they do it without hindrance all over Andalusia and elsewhere, except in Biscay, where some attempt is made to prevent them. If your Majesty is pleased to shut your eyes to its being done in Andalusia in order to allow an outlet for the crops, (fn. 2) it is my opinion, and I believe would be to your Majesty's interest, that the ships should only be allowed to load under some form of special license in each case, so that these people might understand that it was a mere concession on your part, and not, as they now say, obligatory. This, at all events, would bridle their arrogance somewhat. It has reached such a pitch that the profit they make by the trade, like nutriment to savage beasts, only increases their strength and enables them to exert their fury and violence with greater effect. It is therefore better to keep them distressed and to weaken their power to carry out their wickedness. The effect is seen clearly, because with the great profit they make by the Spanish trade, and in confidence that it will continue, they are building ships without cessation, and they are thus making themselves masters of the seas. They not only employ this profit in sending a multitude of vessels to Barbary with arms and munitions, but have now begun to trade with the Levant, whither they take tin and other prohibited goods to the Turks, besides fitting out ships daily to plunder on the route to the Indies ; which things they could not do unless they had the certainty of the heavy gains brought to them by the carrying trade assured to them by their being able to ship goods in Spain. All this swells their pride, as they see their country with such multitudes of ships, and they think that, therefore, they are unassailable by any prince on earth.
Antonio de Castillo has well deserved your Majesty's favour, by the firmness with which he has conducted himself here in the interests of your Majesty and the Crown of Portugal. He would be a very fit person to serve you there, as he thoroughly understands the affairs of the country, and can throw great light upon them, and upon the Indies, as he had in his charge and has deeply studied the papers of the Tower of Otombo. (fn. 3) as well possessing great judicial learning which would enable him to administer justice efficiently if your Majesty should deign to employ him in that way.
I have sent men to the English ports with a commission to seize the woad ship from Azores, if it arrives there, and I have taken this opportunity to arrange for intelligence to be sent to me if Don Antonio should enter any of the ports, although from the many recent arrivals of ships from the south, the weather being favourable, no doubt he would have arrived already if he had intended to take refuge here on his flight.—London, 9th January 1581.
60. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
With reference to your Majesty's instructions that I should advise you of the Queen's reply respecting the robberies of Drake, I have not asked for audience in consequence of what has occurred. as I have thought better not to do so under the circumstances without express orders, and a reply to my letters to your Majesty relating to the messages the Queen had sent me, and her refusal, on two occasions, to receive me.
I have received the despatch your Majesty ordered to be written to Pedro de Zubiaur, which I have not delivered, as the business is not in a position which will render it necessary for him to give the security, nor can I understand on what grounds he writes to the Council of the Indies, that, if the powers and authority were sent to him, he had hopes of being able to recover a large share (i.e. of the plunder). As I have not spoken to the Queen since ther, and see no indications of such a possibility, I cannot believe it ; nor do I understand how Zubiaur can have had communication with any Ministers here who can have assured him of it, because certainly if he had done so he would have given me information. When he arrived here he told me of the power he had from the Consuls (i.e. of Seville) to negotiate, and that he could do nothing except through me. He therefore put the matter in my hands as one which appertained to the interests of your Majesty and your subjects (fn. 4) ; and even if any of the parties may have suggested that he should make terms, the only result of his doing so would be to enable the English to retain the whole of the plunder, as they would see then that they had to do with private individuals only, as has happened on other occasions ; and that your Majesty had abandoned the matter. (fn. 5) It is of the highest importance for the recovery of this treasure that the matter should be treated in your Majesty's name, and the Queen be made to give an account of it ; and my efforts have been directed to endeavouring, although I have not seen her personally, to make her understand that, for the sake of her own dignity, and the peace and the preservation of her country, it was fitting that she should embargo the proceeds of the robbery, as it was a matter of great moment, and that your Majesty's ministers would treat it as such, both on account of the heinousness of the crime and the great amount of the plunder belonging to your Majesty's self. I meant these expressions to reach the Queen's ear and those of her ministers ; and as I knew her character, I was sure they would have due effect upon her, forcing her, in view of possibilities, to take the plunder into her own hands, which is the most important step hitherto, to keep it intact and not distributed amongst the adventurers. By this means the Crown of England is rendered responsible. I knew, moreover, that my words would cause the Councillors who were not interested in the adventure, and were the enemies of those who were, to speak with greater warmth to the Queen about it and press my view of the question, urging the need of not offending your Majesty wantonly, and not allowing the property to be divided for the benefit of private individuals, to the prejudice, and perhaps the ruin, of the country itself.
Leicester, Walsingham and others, pressed the Queen with great persistence to give part of the money to the Flemish rebels to maintain the war and raise troops in Germany, and also to aid with it the French Huguenots in their enterprise, by which, they said, her own power and security would be greatly increased, and your Majesty involved in a long and costly war maintained with your own money. Seeing that they could not bring the Queen to this against the advice of her other Councillors, who had been moved by my arguments, besides the objections raised to bringing all the money together and placing it in the Tower, they resolved to delay matters and tempt me by saying that, if I softened my tone towards Drake's voyage I might count upon for myself, or for any other person I might appoint, 50,000 crowns profit, as I wrote to Don Juan de Idiaquez ; but I prayed that God would give me grace, so that neither this nor any other offer should cause me to swerve a hair's breadth in my duty to your Majesty, and replied that, if I had much more than 50,000 crowns I would gladly give it to punish the crimes of so great a thief as Drake, and they might thus judge whether I was likely to take a bribe to pass the matter over. In sight of my reply, and that the Queen gave decided orders that the money was to be taken from Sion to the Tower, Leicester and Walsingham have pressed her to have it coined, as in the case of having to return it the profit would still be very great, both in the form of interest and the time they would enjoy it. She replied that she would not do it until she had seen me with a reply from your Majesty ; and, in the meanwhile, the bars were to be assayed. This has been done, the treasure being all now in the Tower of London. I have not been able to ascertain the sum, which they keep secret, and Drake has rendered the account to one officer only by command of the Queen, whom he has informed that if this money is to be returned he has furnished all necessary particulars as will be seen by the registers themselves, in the assurance 'that there will be no proofs against him for the amount he has stolen without registration, which is an enormous sum, as is set forth in the memorials sent to me. Drake is squandering more money than any man in England, and, proportionately, all those who came with him are doing the same. He gave to the Queen the crown which I described in a former letter as having been made here. She wore it on New Year's Day. It has in it five emeralds, three of them almost as long as a little finger, whilst the two round ones are valued at 20,000 crowns, coming, as they do, from Peru. He has also given the Queen a diamond cross as a New Year's gift, as is the custom here, of the value of 5,000 crowns. He offered to Burleigh ten bars of fine gold worth 300 crowns each, which however he refused, saying that he did not know how his conscience would allow him to accept a present from Drake, who had stolen all he had. He gave to Sussex eight hundred crowns in salvers and vases, but these, also, were refused in the same way. The Chancellor got eight hundred crowns worth of silver plate, and all the Councillors and Secretaries had a share in a similar form. Leicester getting most of all. The Queen shows extraordinary favour to Drake and never fails to speak to him when she goes out in public, conversing with him for a long time. She says that she will knight him on the day she goes to see his ship. She has ordered the ship itself to be brought ashore and placed in her arsenal near Greenwich as a curiosity.—London, 9th January 1581.
61. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
I wrote in former letters that ships were being fitted out to leave this February to plunder in the East Indies and on the way thereto With this end Leicester has agreed with the Queen that Drake shall take ten ships to the Isles of Moluccas by the same route as that by which he returned, which was to go almost in a straight line to these Islands from the Cape of Good Hope sighting only the island of San Lorenzo. They expect to find the same winds as he encountered before, the Portuguese pilots having discovered that only two winds blow in those seas, east and west, so that if the weather does not serve for doubling the Cape of Good Hope when they arrive there, they will run before the wind and winter on the coast of Brazil, whence they will afterwards set their course. They promise shareholders who will invest five hundred pounds in this adventure that they shall have sixteen hundred returned to them within the year. This bait will certainly attract greedy people to help the enterprise, which they think will turn out as rich as Drake's last voyage. Knollys, the son of the Treasurer of the Household, who fitted out a piratical expedition to the Indies two years ago, is going now with six vessels to winter on the coast of Brazil at Port San Julian, at the mouth of the Straits of Magellan, whence he will go, by the instructions of Drake and with some of his sailors to the South Seas, stealing all he can lay his hands upon there, afterwards continuing his voyage to the Moluccas, and returning thence with Drake.
Humphrey Gilbert who accompanied Knollys on his other voyage is to go with six ships to Cuba, with the intention of fortifying himself on some convenient spot, whence he may sally forth and attack the flotillas leaving Santo Domingo, New Spain, Peru, and other neighbouring places. They are also pressing Frobisher to renew his attempt to discover a north-west passage to Cathay and the Moluccas, which, notwithstanding the difficulties he formerly encountered, Drake is decidedly of opinion must exist in that direction.
Doubtless these people will meet with great obstacles in the execution of their various designs, but the success of Drake encourages them to make light of them all. As soon as I get your Majesty's orders to see the Queen I will speak to her about these preparations ; but the best way to stop their fit of activity will be for your Majesty to order that not one of the ships that sail for the Indies shall be spared, and that every man on board of them shall be sent to the bottom.
One of the two ships which I mentioned had left here to discover a passage to Cathay by the north coast of Muscovy, has returned. It is a ship of 150 tons and they report that in June last they started from Lopia (?) near the river Kola and sailed for ten (two?) months in a north-easterly direction, but the great quantity of floating ice they encountered prevented them from passing beyond the island of Waigatz, which is shown on the map as being near Pei-choi in about 62 degrees north latitude, nearly opposite the island of Nova Zembla, which in the Muscovite tongue means new land. From this place they returned without seeing land again and with little hope of ever reaching home owing to the intense cold, which, even in July and August, froze water in one night an inch thick. They saw no living things but two white bears on an ice floe, which escaped by swimming on the approach of the ship. When the vessel entered the Thames she had still on board stores sufficient to have lasted for thirty months.—London, 9th January 1581.
62. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
Stafford arrived here from France on the 26th ultimo with the ratification of the peace, of which your Majesty will have heard. (fn. 6) He brings news that the Commissioners were preparing to come hither, and although the Queen displayed great delight at the news, she would be better pleased if some of these Commissioners were of higher rank, respecting which point she thinks of sending someone to France ; but when she received news of the illness of the King she altered her mind in order not to offend Alençon, who had written that he had forced his brother to make peace solely out of regard for her and at her request. The Queen holds out hopes to the French ambassador that as soon as the Commissioners arrive she will let Alençon have two hundred thousand ducats of the money brought by Drake, to help him, in conjunction with Bearn aud Condé, in his Flanders enterprise, and that at the same time she will cause Casimir to enter by way of Gueldres, in order to make sure of that State and divert your Majesty's forces, unless it be more convenient for him to join with the French in Brabant. Although such an enterprise will not be easy, the Queen is encouraging Alençon with hopes, and both she and the French imagine that they are sure of success, the wish being father to the thought.
Juan Rodriguez de Souza, who I wrote had left here in a ship belonging to the earl of Leicester, returned on the 21st, after having arrived at the isles of Bayona, where he received news of the second defeat of Don Antonio, and, after landing two of his servants, himself returned in the same ship. One of these servants was his business man here, named Alvaro Bardinia, to whom he gave orders to return to him after he had been to Lisbon. He is a man of middle height, of dark colour, and with his beard tinged with grey. He is a native and was formerly a resident of St. Ubes, and subsequently came with his wife to live at Lisbon. It would not be bad to discover what Souza has been arranging with Leicester and other ministers here about the Indies, and Don Antonio's affairs generally, which might be done by interrogating this man on the points set forth in the enclosed memorandum. Souza's return has attracted no attention here, and was easily accomplished, as his ship was very fleet and could outstrip the ships of Don Pedro de Valdés.
The Queen received a hasty dispatch from Scotland two days since, saying that the King, in Council, had ordered Morton and four or five of the partisans of this Queen to be seized, and she at once dispatched Randolph, her Master of the Posts, with two letters, one for the King and the other for Morton, with orders that the latter letter is to be delivered into Morton's own hands, at any cost. At the same time she has ordered Lord Hunsdon, Governor of Berwick, to go to the frontier, and certain English captains who were raising troops for Flanders have been ordered to remain, and have been told that not they alone, but the English already in the Netherlands, will have to be sent to Scotland. It is feared that these arrests having been ordered by the King, and that there may be some French men with D'Aubiguy, earl of Lennox. Those who were at Nantes destined for Portugal, to the number of 1,500, embarked after they had heard of Don Antonio's second defeat, ostensibly to sail on a plundering voyage, and the Queen fears that they may have gone to Scotland under the authority of the duke of Guise, which may well be true, because I have news that on the 3rd instant three pirate Frenchmen arrived in the Downs, and shortly afterwards sixteen more, some of them being loaded with French wines and herrings. On the day following they left, running swiftly before a south wind, so that it appears certain that they must have gone either to Scotland or Holland, most probably the former, as the Dutchmen are not particularly wishful of welcoming Frenchmen ; unless, indeed, it be a trick of Orange's to put them into possession of some fortress, and so to oblige the Dutchmen, whether they like it or not, to accept the fact.
The Queen has sent orders to the earl of Shrewsbury to strengthen the queen of Scotland's guard and keep her more closely.
The Queen has recently ordered the arrest of Lord Howard, brother of the duke of Norfolk, and two other gentlemen, Charles Arundel and Southwell, who were formerley great favourites at court.
The reason of this is partly religious, they having been accused by a great friend of theirs of receiving the Holy Sacrament and hearing Mass as Catholics four years ago, this being here the crime of high treason ; but it is suspected also that it may be attributed to their having been very intimate with the French ambassador, with the apparent object of forwarding the Alençon match, together with some court ladies of the same party who were favourites of the Queen. What adds to the mystery of the matter is their having been taken to the Tower, and Leicester's having spread the rumour that they were plotting a massacre of the Protestants, beginning with the Queen. His object in this is to inflame people against them and against the French, as well as against the earl of Sussex who was their close friend.
The count de Sosa, the ambassador of the duke of Savoy, arrived here yesterday to restore the Garter which was worn by his father the late Duke. (fn. 7) The Queen has ordered him to be welcomed warmly, and is sending four persons of rank to receive him on the road.—London, 9th January 1581.
63. The King to Bernardino De Mendoza.
With the letter we sent you on the 14th ultimo we enclosed another for Pedro de Zubiaur, a resident in England, ordering him to follow your instructions and to negotiate with your co-operation for the restoration of the plunder taken in the South Seas by the pirate Francis Drake, due security being previously given by Zubiaur as he proposes, as you will learn by the said letter.
It has since appeared that it may be advisable to come to some compromise with regard to the recovery of our property, and if such be the case, it does not seem meet that it should be done in our name, but may be negotiated with the other points by Zubiaur, he rendering us an account of what he may effect. As soon as you receive this you will summon him and give him our letter, and will, when you accept his security, instruct him as to the course he should pursue, both in the negotiations themselves and as regards any compromise, that may be proposed. In view of the turn that affairs may take and in the exercise of your vigilance and Zubiar's efforts, you will take the best course you can in recovering, as far as possible, both our own property and that of private persons, and will advise us as occasion may offer.—Elvas, 12th January 1581.
64. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
In consequence of the arrest of Morton and others by the king of Scotland, this Queen has summoned Parliament for the 16th instant, after she had given orders for its prorogation. On that date the Chancellor will order the House to elect a Speaker, which they will do on the following day, the Treasurer attending in person ; a further delay of a week will then be requested, when the Queen herself will attend. All this is simply to delay matters until they get full information about Scotland, and learn whether the sixteen French ships have gone thither. They have news that 30 persons have been arrested amongst the King's courtiers alone, but that Morton had not been killed, as they had thought.
Sir James Bedford, however, a lawyer, had come from France and accused Morton of having murdered the King's father, and three other high personages, by poison. The King has adopted this course with Morton in order still further to establish his mother's innocence, and the falseness of the charges against her. When the Queen received this despatch she sent a gentleman to follow Randolph, with letters for the King, urgently begging him to have Morton's case heard and decided only by twelve nobles of the realm, according to the laws.
They say that this Sir James Bedford had been to Spain and that your Majesty had ordered a sum of money to be given to him, for the purpose of buying people over for the execution of this business.
The Queen has ordered the earl of Huntingdon not to attend Parliament, notwithstanding her summons. The same message has been sent to Bedford, Shrewsbury, and the bishop of Lincoln, to whom patents have been given to arrest any persons they may consider necessary in their districts, and to raise troops, Huntingdon being made General of the Scotch Marches and the North.
Hunsdon has been ordered also to reinforce the garrison of Berwick with 200 men, and to call out 6,000 men and 500 horse of the Border militia.
I have approached certain English Catholics by way of conversation to urge them to insist upon the punishment of Morton, as this was my most convenient way. I have also written to the queen of Scotland giving her an account of what had happened, and although I am sorry that these events have been made a reason for rendering her prison closer, which, however, she must suffer in patience like the rest of her troubles, yet the joy of all her friends at the thought that Morton may meet with due punishment at the hands of her son, arouses great hopes that her son may turn to her side, and it is meet now that her friends in Scotland should persevere more than ever. I have therefore thought that it would be to your Majesty's interest that she should recognise my desire to serve her, and have sent her the information ; which would certainly reach her ears by some means, and so to bind her in gratitude to your Majesty. I point out to her how important it is that Morton should die, in order that the Catholic religion may be restored in Scotland, and in the interests of herself and her son.
The ambassador of the prince of Piedmont (i.e., Duke of Savoy) has had audience and has restored the Garter. The Queen told him it was not worth while to have come such a long journey for this purpose, the meaning of this being that he was not to go on to Scotland, for which he had requested license. This license will not be given to him, although it is asserted that his only object was to pay a visit of ordinary compliment to the King as to a relative of his master, with whose house alliance and friendship has always existed.
The Queen has ordered the earl of Kildare to be brought hither with his wife and other prisoners of his house.—15th January 1581.
65. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
Since I wrote on the 9th I have heard that the Queen has ordered Drake to be given 10,000l. of the money lodged in the Tower. The signed warrant sent to him states that this is a reward for the voyage he made, but it may be suspected that it may be rather to fit out the ships I spoke of. Drake's sailors say that he promised them, when the great plunder was taken from the "San Juan," that if they did their best to capture it, he would divide 10,000l. amongst them, but he has not done this, nor has he, indeed, settled accounts with any one connected with the voyage, but is simply keeping them in hand with sums of money, in order that he may get them to return with him on his next voyage. The boxes of gold he captured in the ship from Chili he would not allow to be examined by any one but his own servant.
The Queen frequently has him in her cabinet, and never goes out in public without speaking to him ; often, indeed, walking with him in the garden. Drake told her the other day that if she ordered three of her own ships, which he would choose, to accompany those he was taking, and seven merchant ships as well, he would guarantee to place affairs on the route to the Indies in such a state that your Majesty would gladly send her what they call here a "blank-signet" for her to dictate her own conditions on all points which she might consider to her interests.—London, 15th January 1581.
66. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
I wrote to your Majesty on the 15th ; and last night an Englishman arrived here to tell the Queen that he had come with Don Antonio from Bayona, where he had embarked in a poor disguise, and had arrived on the coast of Brittany in great want of money, whereupon he, the Englishman, had immediately left without the knowledge of Don Antonio to inform the Queen thereof, Don Antonio having written to the king of France. The Queen and her ministers fully believed this, as they have a good opinion of the Englishman who brings the news. I have thought well to report this to your Majesty instantly, taking the opportunity of a ship which is sailing for Laredo, although I have no certainty about the news, and the Queen has received it from no other source than that mentioned. It was conveyed to me at once by one of her councillors.—London, 17th January 1581.
67. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
I wrote on the 17th by sea through Laredo, sending the duplicate the next day by France, and the Queen has now received fresh news from the latter country by another Englishman, that the king of France had sent one of his councillors to see Don Antonio, and tell him to go to Alençon, who would be able to forward his claims by the help of the Netherlands rebels and arm some ships for him. This Englishman has not signified the precise place where Don Antonio was, but they are now certain that he has arrived in France. They have told the news to Juan Rodriguez de Souza, who is staying here in the house of a Portuguese doctor named Lopez, saying at the same time that they were sure that it was true ; although the Queen had no information from her ambassador about it.
Randolph has written from Scotland that the King had sent Morton under guard of 500 horsemen to the castle of Dumbarton, which is entirely in the hands of D'Aubigny, with a strong garrison devoted to him ; the Constable (fn. 8) being Morton's deadly enemy, into whose hands he is to be delivered. Orders are given that if any attempt is made to rescue him from the guard, the first thing they are to do is to kill Morton. Randolph also reports that the King has quite changed his tone. ; D'Aubigny governing him entirely and the whole country. D'Aubigny was followed by most of the principal people and others of his party. They show great inclination to make war upon the English, and Randolph had no doubt that as soon as the winter was over they would do so. He thinks that if Morton were not taken to France, as some people thought probable, although Randolph doubted it, he would certainly very soon lose his head. Another man has been sent from here to endeavour to have D'Aubigny murdered by means of some of his enemies of the house of Hamilton. The 6,000 men and the 500 horse are in readiness, awaiting orders, as no news has arrived here of the coming of any foreigners, although it was reported from Berwick that there were ten ships, with some Frenchmen and stores sent by the duke of Guise.
The Queen has opened Parliament, and the Chancellor, in her name, informed them that it was the Queen's wish that the subject of the appointment of a successor and of the Queen's marriage should not be dealt with, and it is understood that, as soon as they vote the supplies she desires, the Parliament will close.
The queen of Scotland has sent messages to the French ambassador and letters to the Queen that, in case of a successor to the Crown being appointed in this Parliament to her prejudice, a protest should be made in her name, the necessary steps being taken by the French ambassador.
The Queen has ordered one of her ships to be made ready to bring over the Commissioners from France.—London, 28th January 1581.