Simancas: February 1581

Pages 82-86

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

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February 1581

13 Feb. 68. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
I wrote on the 28th ultimo that this Queen had received confirmation of the arrival of Don Antonio in France, whereupon she despatched instantly again the two Englishmen who brought the news, with orders that they were to remain with Don Antonio and report his movements. She afterwards received letters from Cobham, her ambassador in France, further confirming the intelligence, and on the 3rd instant sent Captain Perrin, the son of an Englishman, born in the Azores, who had been with Don Antonio, bearing letters containing great promises to him. Leicester told this to Souza, and said that he had better make ready at once to join his master in France. On the 4th Cobham wrote that the king of France assured him that he had news that Don Antonio was either captured or killed, which news has much troubled the Queen, as she imagined that he would be an instrument to enable her to disturb Portugal. How much they desire this may be seen by the facility with which they believe anything that tends in that direction, however groundless it may be.
As soon as Morton was captured, the Queen granted a thousand pounds a year pension to the two Hamiltons (fn. 1) who are out of Scotland, one of them here and the other in France. They have for the last two years been pressing for it, but they had never been able to obtain it. She also ordered the earl of Huntingdon and Lord Hunsdon, with their troops, as soon as they were ready, to enter Scotland to force the King to give a sufficient guarantee to prevent the entry of foreigners into the country. The order has again been changed and the forces told to retire into the Border castles. This has been caused by the answer given by D'Aubigny in the King's name to the repeated pressure from Randolph, to the effect that the Queen might be sure that Morton's case would be dealt with in accordance with justice, and if she wished further to assure herself of this, she might send two Commissioners to be present in her name at the trial, on condition that two others from the king of France were also present. He said, as regards the coming of foreigners to the country, the lords of the realm would bind themselves in writing that none should be received, and if the Queen were not satisfied with this, they would send hostages to guarantee it. They say that, when the king of Scotland was told how much the English wished to get possession of Morton, he said that if they loved him so much, he would send the queen of England his (Morton's) body, whilst he kept the head, as he was a good councillor.
The insurgents in Ireland have slaughtered Captain Zouch (fn. 2) with 300 Englishmen, and are quite masters of the open country, as it is now winter time. Most of the Englishmen sent by the Queen have died from flux and the plague, and the Viceroy is therefore asking for fresh troops.
The eldest son of the earl of Kildare, who, I wrote, had escaped when his father was captured, has again returned to his submission to the Queen, having surrendered himself a prisoner.
The French ambassador recently gave the Queen an account of the Commissioners who were coming, and she expressed displeasure that they were not the men she had indicated. A gentleman from Alençon who is to precede them is expected here.
In addition to the intelligence received by the Flemish heretics here from some of the consistories in Holland, the Queen herself has received news that Holland and Zeeland had agreed to receive Alençon, and that the Colonels in Antwerp, who are nearly all the magistracy, had administered an oath to the newly raised soldiers, to the effect that they were the enemies of your Majesty and your confederates, and renounced their allegiance to you as their sovereign. Orange had also endeavoured to put a tax of a hundred groat-livres on the hundred of salt, which now only costs 23 livres, in order to help the entry of the French. He says, for the purpose of persuading people to this, that whereas at the beginning of the war they paid 250 or 300 livres for the hundred of salt, it will not be much hardship to them to pay 100 livres for it now to bring in the French. If it be not your Majesty's wish to stop Hollanders and Zeelanders from taking salt from Spain, it would be advisable to put a very heavy export tax on every measure of salt shipped for the Netherlands, thus greatly raising the price, which, according to news received by merchants here, does not exceed seven reals the measure in Spain and Portugal. This tax would not only produce a considerable sum in aid of your Majesty's heavy expenditure on the war in the States, but would be drawn from your enemies, who cannot live without salt.—London, 13th February 1581.
24 Feb.
Paris Archives K 1447. 28.
69. The King to Bernardino De Mendoza.
The prior and consuls of Seville write to say that Pedro de Zubiaur informs them that it will be easier to recover Drake's plunder if the Queen is requested first separately to restore what belongs to individuals, rather than asked to surrender all together. They beg me to write to you accordingly, so that you may take the most fitting steps. As you were previously informed, it will be necessary to adopt every possible means to recover the plunder taken by Drake, and I therefore request that you will consider whether it will be likely to forward the object aimed at if you let Zubiaur take the necessary steps for the recovery of the property belonging to specified individuals ; or whether it will be better to demand the restitution of the plunder as a whole. The decision is left to you, but I urge you to do your best to forward the interests of the individuals, and, so far as may be fitting, to extend all possible help and countenance to Zubiaur.—Elvas, 24th February 1581.
27 Feb. 70. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
I wrote on the 13th that the Queen was expecting a gentleman from Alençon, M. Marchaumont, (fn. 3) who arrived on the 19th, and he is accompanied by many gentlemen, amongst whom is Councillor Jean Bodin as his secretary. The latter is a great heretic, as is proved by the books he has written. The Queen sent word to the French ambassador that he was to entertain him and give him (Marchaumont) good cheer as she knew what a favourite he was of Alençon. She has herself received him well and gives him lengthy audience nearly every day alone. So far as can be gathered from them, he must have come to impress the Queen with the great efforts which Alençon has made to bring about peace for the purpose of obliging her, as well as to clear the way for the coming Commissioners, and to discover the disposition of the Queen and Council with regard to marriage and other negotiations, in view of the events in Scotland. He has saluted, on behalf of Alençon, Sussex, Cecil, and James Crofts, who appear to be the Ministers most in favour of the marriage, in consequence of their opposition to the earl of Leicester. The Queen has referred the negotiation of the matter to them. The envoy has told them in general terms that Alençon's wish to marry the Queen is prompted, not so much by his hopes of having an heir, as by the belief that his importance will be so greatly increased by his marriage that it will aid him strongly in his designs. By having brought about peace in France he had gained over both the Catholics and the Huguenots, and had also pledged to him the German Protestants, whom he wished to have entirely on his side, as he would have if he could please them by energetically helping the Flemish rebels and succeeded in getting this Queen to choose him for her husband and the protector of her realm. This he thinks would encourage them (the Germans) to endeavour, for their part, to promote his appointment as king of the Romans, which is the object of all his efforts. The Commissioners, he (Marchaumont) said, would not come until the Queen sent her wishes by a gentleman who had accompanied him by Alençon's orders for that purpose, this gentleman being called M. de Mery. He has now left with a letter from the Queen written by herself, without any of her Ministers knowing the contents. They are equally in the dark as to her conferences with Marchaumont, and only know that she has given him a wedding ring for Mery to take to Alençon. She also said publicly that she was so anxious for the Commissioners to come, that every hour's delay seemed like a thousand years to her, with other tender speeches of the same sort, which make most people who hear them believe that the marriage will take place. The three Ministers for whom Marchaumont brought letters only replied to him that they could say nothing further, but that the Queen seemed very desirous that the wedding should be effected.
Marchaumont has also signified that he will stay here for some months on his master's business, and this gave rise to the belief, before his arrival, that he was coming to ask the Queen for money to help Alençon in his intended invasion of the States, and to make an alliance against your Majesty. Marchaumont lately told the earl of Northumberland and other Lords in the presence Chamber that he had heard that the object of his visit was reported to be to ask the Queen for money, but that he had no such instructions. Notwithstanding all this, however, your Majesty will have seen by my former letters that the Queen's conferences with the French ambassador and other indications tend to the belief that he will attempt it, but, being a Frenchman, he glosses it over, in order the better to carry on the deceit and not to offend the English, who are very angry when anyone asks them for money. The real reason of his coming and that of the Commissioners is more to raise funds and cement alliances than to effect marriage.
The earl of Huntingdon, who, as I said, the Queen had made General of the Scotch Marches, is a great Puritan and a deadly enemy of the queen of Scotland and her son, he having pretensions to the succession of the English crown. He has therefore been dealing secretly with some of Morton's Scotch partisans to enter England on a raid, as they sometimes do, even in time of peace, thus giving him an opportunity of reprisal and an excuse for invading Scotland. The Scots accordingly came as far as Carlisle, nine miles over the border, where they killed some Englishmen and captured others, retiring with their booty in the form of cattle. Huntingdon advised Lord Hunsdon, governor of Berwick, who sent a number of Englishmen into Scotland to take revenge. The Scots met them and drove them back with a loss of 200 men. They concealed this news from the Queen, but she learnt it through a lady, and when Walsingham came to see her on business she said, "What is this about Scotland? Did I order anything of this sort to be done?" Walsingham replied that the loss was slight and it could easily be remedied ; to which she answered : "You Puritan, you will never be content until you drive me into war on all sides and bring the king of Spain on to me." Although this has happened, the Queen has ordered that not a soldier is to be moved from the Border until they see the result of the half-yearly meeting which takes place on the 21st instant on the frontier, to settle the questions of robberies on both sides.
The viceroy of Ireland has written to the Queen that the earl of Ormond was behaving in such a way that he thought his pension should be taken away from him, and asked Leicester and Walsingham to press the matter. They managed to persuade the Queen to do so, and as soon as they had sent the despatch they got news that O'Neil had been joined by 400 redshank soldiers from Scotland, who are men experienced in Ireland. (fn. 4) This caused the arrest on the same night of all Irishmen who were studying here, their papers being seized to learn whether they had any communication with the Scots. They found nothing of importance except "Agnus Dei," absolutions, and the like, on some of them, who were thereupon taken to the Tower ; and a messenger was sent off in haste to tell the Viceroy not to deprive Ormond of his pension, as his lands lie near to those of O'Neil and the redshanks. The Catholics have slaughtered Captain Crins (Green?) (fn. 5), with some of the Englishmen in his company, and what with this, and the great mortality from the flux and the plague, which has reached five thousand men, the Viceroy is again pressing for reinforcements, and two thousand men are ordered to be raised and sent off with all speed to Ireland.
Cobham, this Queen's ambassador in France, has written so fully of what Tassis told the Queen-mother in your Majesty's name, (fn. 6) that it may be suspected, either that she conveyed it herself to Cobham, or told her son Alençon that he might do so.—London, 27th February 1581.


  • 1. Lord John and Lord Claude Hamilton.
  • 2. This was probably a mistake, as Sir John Zouch was alive some time subsequently.
  • 3. Pierre Clausse Seigneur de, Marchaumont. His correspondence will be found in the Hatfield Papers, part 2.
  • 4. Mendoza frequently applies the word "Redajaques," and variants thereof, to the inhabitants of the Hebrides. I have assumed this to stand for "redshanks," by which name they are spoken of by Spencer and other writers of the period.
  • 5. Probably an old officer named Paul Green, who is warmly recommended by Sir Henry Sidney to Lord Grey in his letter to the latter on his departure for Ireland, 17th September 1580. See "Sidney Papers, Collins, 1746," Vol. 1.M
  • 6. This was a strong remonstrance made by Juan Bautista de Tassis, the Spanish ambassador, to Catharine de Medici at Chénonceaux, first against Alençon's raising fresh troops for Flanders, and secondly against the despatch of the Commissioners to England for the conclusion of the marriage with Elizabeth. Catharine replied that it was too much to expect her son to give up both projects, and that, as he was a good Catholic, he was more likely to convert Elizabeth than she to convert him to Protestantism.—Archives Nationales (Paris), K. 1559.