Simancas: October 1588, 16-31

Pages 471-474

Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 4, 1587-1603. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1899.

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October 1588, 16-31

17 Oct.
Estado, 950.
460. Count De Olivares to the King.
After the going of Allen had been decided upon, as I wrote to your Majesty, to the apparent complete satisfaction of his Holiness, the poor man went to speak to him (the Pope) about certain matters concerning his voyage. The Pope treated him like a blackamoor, and exhibited great annoyance at his going, which he signified was not with his good will until decisive intelligence of the result (of the Armada) was received, and the certainty of the convenience of his (Allen's) stay there. He used the hardest possible terms towards him ; and the next day, when Carrafa was with the Pope, the latter introduced the subject again in almost similar terms. I have therefore come to the conclusion that, after Allen had gone, he would talk to everybody publicly to the same effect, which would discredit both Allen and his mission, and I thought best, in the absence of instructions from your Majesty, not to press the matter, or take any further steps.
In my last audience, on the 15th instant, I accordingly said to the Pope, that, as he judged differently with regard to Allen's voyage, and for all reasons, I was not desirous that the Cardinal should go in disgrace with his Holiness, in which case the journey would produce an opposite effect to that desired. I had written to your Majesty my opinion that he had better not go. He replied that although he himself felt in the matter as I had said, if I insisted he would give way. His expressions were more moderate than those he had used to the Cardinals, and when he requested me to state my opinion, I laid before him all the reasons I recently wrote to your Majesty which had induced me to press for Allen to be allowed to go, and also those which had existed for his promotion ; which latter reasons I thought it would be undesirable to make public, unless Allen's voyage were persisted in.
The Pope agreed with this, and the next day he sent for Allen, and told him that I and Carrafa had importuned him so much about the voyage, and gave him so many reasons for its advisability, that he (the Pope) could oppose it no longer. He had according decided that he should go, and directed Allen to come at once and inform me of his decision, and ask for a draft of the despatches he would require from him (i.e., the Pope), Allen himself being directed to make ready for the voyage. I had asked Cardinal Deza to give his Holiness an account of the intelligence I had received by way of Irun, to the effect that the Armada had returned to Spain, and Deza assures me that the Pope detained him for an hour, whilst his dinner was getting cold, in order to tell him all that had passed during the last few days, with his customary additional embellishments. He dwelt at length on the undesirability of Allen's voyage, and how much he (the Pope) had opposed it ; but said that as he had ordered Allen to make ready, and I was so pressing, he would let him go. He told Deza to repeat this to me, which he did yesterday.
I replied to his Holiness this morning by the same Cardinal, who was on his way to the Consistory, that if his Holiness was convinced by my arguments that the voyage was desirable, I prayed he would let Allen go with God's blessing ; but if the Pope had been moved against his will to send him by any importunities of mine, or any other similar reason, I hoped he would not let him go on any account.
He replied that he had already said what he had to say about it, and he left me to choose the course I thought best.
If nothing fresh occurs, therefore, the matter shall be postponed until your Majesty replies to this letter, or to the previous ones I have written on the same subject, as I will not venture to swim against the current and offend the Pope until I receive further instructions.
In case Allen's voyage should be deferred, Robert (Persons) will go, in accordance with Allen's wish, as he is possessed of more authority and tact than those now there.
I send by sea to Don Juan de Idiaquez copy of the cipher which they will have with me, so that he may write to them in it, and arrange for carrying on correspondence.
I will write to the duke of Parma informing him of the postponement of Allen's voyage, but I will explain it by an excuse that will enable him to go consistently if your Majesty so decides. I will send your Majesty a copy of what I write to the Duke on the subject.—Rome, 17th October 1588.
20 Oct.
Paris Archives, K. 1567.
461. Don Juan De Monsalve, (fn. 1) Captain of a Hulk, to Don Jorge Mankique.
Our persistent evil fortune has just decreed that the cruel weather we have experienced should break our cables and drift the hulk ashore between ten and eleven o'clock this morning. She is now half full of water, and I am taking out the powder and other things I can rescue. As God has deigned to bring you to so good a port, I pray you to send someone to take charge of the property saved, and provide us with a craft. Pray do this quickly.—Morvien, 20th October 1588.
24 Oct.
Paris Archives, K. 1568.
462. Advices from London (Antonio de Vega).
One Cavendish, who two years ago went with three ships to the Spanish Indies, has arrived here. He brought back only one of his own ships to Plymouth, in which it is said he has over 2,000,000 (crowns) in gold and silver. Another of his ships which separated from him in the South sea seven months ago has as much more. This treasure was captured from two ships which they found loaded. He also brings in two ships which were bound for Barbary, and three other prizes, namely two ships loaded for New Spain, and a ship from Brazil with 500 boxes of sugar. Besides these they captured a ship from Santo Domingo, and a caravel loaded with wine and oil.
Don Antonio's affair is being discussed, and it is generally asserted that they are going to land him in Portugal. I am quite certain of it myself.
The earl of Cumberland is being urged to sail with 14 ships, some say to the Azores, some to the Indies. He is to take with him an English convict, who was in one of the galleys which were lost on the coast of France and is said to be the leader who caused the convicts to mutiny. The Queen has given him (the convict) 400 crowns pension.
It is said that 50 or 60 sail will go with Drake to the Indies, but nothing is decided yet, as the death of the earl of Leicester has thrown everything into confusion. I will report what is resolved upon.
It is now considered certain that our Armada has returned to Spain.
Since writing the above, Rodriguez de Santos, who went with J. Diaz Varela to Barbary, has returned, and I am assured that Don Antonio is about to send one of his sons to Barbary as the Sheriff promises him a sum of money on condition that the Queen writes him a letter, which she will not write. (fn. 2) I am assured that he (Don Antonio) intends to go to Portugal, as Drake, the earl of Cumberland, Norris and others, offer to undertake the enterprise on their own account. In order that the affair may be kept secret they give out that they are going to the Indies, and the merchants will then let their ships go the more willingly.
I have received news from Ireland that certain of our ships have put in there, some say the whole Armada. The Queen is sending Raleigh with all haste to learn about it.
Cavendish does not bring a third of what I say above.
Note.—The King in marginal notes gives directions that the information contained in this letter should be sent to the various officers interested.
29 Oct.
Estado, 950.
463. Count De Olivares to the King.
His Holiness told a cardinal who was advising him to write to your Majesty consoling you for the past, and encouraging you for the future, that he refrained from doing so, in order that your Majesty might not make it a pretext for asking him for money and further aid. This proves that the opinion I wrote to Don Juan de Idiaquez on the 10th instant was correct. They are beginning to recognise here that your Majesty's power is great enough to withstand worse misfortunes than this, and are consequently moderating their tone somewhat. The conversation now is about "the good King having done his best in the enterprise, but having been badly served." They cast much of the blame upon the duke of Parma, and they say that the duke of Medina ought to lose his head. They evidently fear here that your Majesty may at last get angry in earnest. His Holiness's attitude remains the same, and he makes a show of complaining that he was not fully taken into your Majesty's confidence in the matter. Your Majesty will see by this how completely he ignores my frequent urgent requests that he would send the Legate, and openly avow the share he had in the enterprise. In one of the last discussions I had with him on the money question, I reminded him how he would have repented of not sending the Legate if the affair had turned out as might reasonably be hoped. He replied that if the enterprise was ordained to succeed, the Legate would have been sent. He said this with great profundity, and although I replied that it would have required a very prophetic soul to guess it, he only cast up his eyes to heaven and said no more.—Rome, 29th October 1588.


  • 1. Don Juan de Monsalve Solis was a captain of Nicholas Isla's regiment, in command of a company of 105 soldiers on board the hulk "San Pedro el Menor." The captain of the vessel seems to have been Juan Gregorio de la Peña.
  • 2. The Queen's letter to the Sheriff in favour of Don Antonio, dated 4th September 1588, will be found in Harl. MSS. 296, fol. 203.