Simancas: September 1593

Pages 608-612

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

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September 1593

4 Sep.
Estado, 839.
620. Maurice Geraldine to Philip II.
Maurice Geraldine, heir of the earl of Desmond, and the other Irish gentlemen in your Majesty's service here, have received letters by the archbishop of Tuam, who is now in your Majesty's court, from the most powerful Catholics in Ireland, saying that they are concerting a war against the queen of England, and they beg us to supplicate your Majesty to send them succour with the utmost possible speed.
We know that these gentlemen are Catholics, and are at the present time the most powerful people in Ireland, and seeing that voluntarily they risk their lives to serve God and your Majesty, we have decided to beseech your Majesty, for the love of God, and with the utmost earnestness of which we are capable, to favour us all by looking down upon their need, and sending them such aid you consider advisable.
We also beg to be allowed to go with it, to defend and support the enterprise, and we trust with the divine favour that your Majesty will be victorious, and conquer for yourself the realm of Ireland, and then enter by this means into England. It would be a great pity for these gentlemen to be lost for lack of succour, as the earl of Desmond was lost when he rose like these. We trust in God that your Majesty will consider well the advantage that will ensue to Christendom from this business. The conjuncture is favourable, the cause just, and all disposed to do good service. If promptness be displayed, the Queen must withdraw the contingent she sends to Flanders and France, and there will be fewer Englishmen on the coasts of Spain. We humbly beg your Majesty to favour the enterprise. We ourselves are ready to do anything we are ordered to do.—Lisbon, 4th September 1593. Don Mauricio Geraldino.
Estado, 839. 621. Statement of the Archbishop Of Tuam to Philip II.
The Irish archbishop of Tuam states that for some years past he has used great efforts, both publicly and privately, to unite the Catholics of Ireland, with the object of their taking up arms for the faith, and in your Majesty's service against the English heretics. His enterprise succeeded, and the most powerful chiefs of the north of Ireland heve now agreed, and have risen against the Queen, with the tacit consent of many other Catholics who would like to do the same. For this reason, in the name of all them, as your Majesty will see by the letters they write, he has come hither to acquaint your Majesty with it, and to beg your Majesty to show favour so good an opportunity as this is to keep the Queen busy in her own house. This your Majesty can easily do, as the gentlemen who have risen have in their own lands troops and good harbours ; and also by means of the Irish gentlemen who are in your Majesty's service in these dominions, whose presence there would be most important, particularly that of Don Maurice Geraldine, cousin and heir of the earl of Desmond, and Viscount Baltinglas. The said Archbishop, therefore, humbly begs your Majesty to send some aid in troops and arms for the purpose named, and that an answer be given to him speedily with regard to the whole business, so that he may return at once as he has been ordered to do. If your Majesty will comply with this request, the queen of England will be so busy in Ireland that she will be unable to perturb the dominions of your Majesty, as she has hitherto done. She will indeed have need of the troops she is now employing against you.
Statement made by the archbishop of Tuam with regard to the territories, men and commodities possessed by some of the gentlemen of the north of Ireland for the service of his Majesty, if he will send them succour against the English.
O'Donnell has 60 Irish miles of land from end to end, on the sea coast, with excellent harbours, capable of receiving any fleets sent thither. He can raise 3,000 men of his own vassals ; and besides that he has the Scots within eight hours sail, with whom he has close friendship and kinship, and they would help him.
Macguire has 40 miles of land, and can raise 2,000 men of his own vassals.
Bernard O'Rourke, whose father on his way to Scotland for help was unfortunately captured by the English and decapitated, (fn. 1) can raise 1,000 men, and no more, because the English, after having killed his father, devastated his lands. The lands of these three chiefs join, and together they can raise 600 horse.
The chiefs of the house of Burgh, a great and famous family, are continually in rebellion against the English, and can raise over 1,000 good men. They have also good harbours. Their lands are in Connaught, about 20 miles distant from the above-mentioned. There are many other Catholics of great importance in Ireland anxious to rise against the Queen, as soon as they see aid coming from your Majesty. And finally nearly all Irishmen are against the English, and wish to get rid of such evil neighbours.
622. Statement handed to the King by the archbishop of Tuam, pointing out the favourable opportunities that existed, by means of aid to be sent, for gaining all Ireland at a blow, and keeping the Queen so busy in Ireland that she will have no opportunity of troubling his Majesty's dominions, or aiding the heretics of France and Flanders.
1. Dwells at length on the circumstance that both Maurice Geraldine the heir of Desmond and his cousin Thomas Geraldine are both here (in the Peninsula) in his Majesty's pay, and how the province of Munster will rally to them if they go with a good force.
2. Similar arguments showing how Viscount Baltinglas and Charles O'Connor (both in his Majesty's pay) could raise Leinster with but few men the country being easily defensible, particularly one valley, which a few soldiers could hold against the world.
3. And as his Majesty at present has no other wish than to occupy the Queen in Ireland, and put her to expense and trouble, this could be done with small aid to the insurgents now in arms in the north, as everyone in the land will do his best to help, and in any case shelter and refuge would always be obtainable. Arms and ammunition could easily be sent to the ports, and thus an irregular war kept up, which would tire the enemy and disturb the whole country, as there are men in Ireland very experienced and adapted for such class of warfare.
Note in the handwriting of Philip II. attached to the aforegoing letter. It is doubtless addressed to his Secretary, Don Juan de Idiaquez.
"Here are the letters and notes that the Irish Archbishop has just given me. And if what they say is true, it would be a great pity not to help them. What they demand in one of the letters is very much, and would still be so if it were less than it is. You talk to him, and get to the bottom of it all, and then we will see what is the very smallest aid that will be needed. If it be so small that we can give it, it will be well to help them. Let Don Cristobal (de Mora) know what you do in the matter."
Note in the handwriting of Don Juan de Idiaquez to the King.
"The Irish archbishop of Tuam says that it will be of great importance for the success of the confederacy of Irish Catholics, that your Majesty should write very affectionately to the earl of Tyrone, whose name is O'Neil, to induce him to enter into the confederacy openly. He already belongs to it secretly, and he should be assured that your Majesty's aid shall not fail them. The Archbishop consequently begs your Majesty to order a letter to be written to the earl to that effect."
Note in the handwriting of Don Juan de Idiaquez on the wrapper containing the papers concerning the archbishop of Tuam's mission.
"Letters and papers given by the archbishop of Tuam to his Majesty. The substance of them is as follows :—
That a very great opportunity exists to do much in Ireland by sending some succour to them.
That the succour should consist of from five to ten thousand men, or as many as may be convenient.
As they will go to harbours belonging to those who invite them, they will, of course, be well received.
Seven thousand footmen and 600 horse can be raised there, 6,000 of the men being raised by chiefs whose lands join each other, and the other thousand by a chief 20 miles off ; and it is assumed that when the aid arrived many more would join than they now say."
623. Statement made to his Majesty of the present condition of affairs in Ireland by the Irishman, John Slatimor, a pensioner of his Majesty, sent secretly to Ireland by his master, Maurice Geraldine, heir of the earldom of Desmond, in order to discover the position, and persuade his friends there to take up arms against the English. (fn. 2)
1. The chiefs of the North, who are in arms against the Queen, have 4,000 men in the field, one thousand of whom are harquebussiers. There are many Scotsmen amongst them.
2. The Viceroy recently ordered men to be sent to Ulster against them, but he was badly served, for a dispute arose between four of his principal followers, as to who should command the expedition, and this was one of the principal causes why the design was frustrated.
3. As a means of remedying the confusion thus caused, the Viceroy and council ordered the formation of four squadrons, to be commanded respectively by the four personages referred to ; each squadron to go by a different road towards the disturbed country. But since then the matter has slackened, and they have not gone forward, but have sent to England for reinforcements.
4. The Viceroy and council have ordered that all cities, towns, and villages in Ireland should lend a certain sum to the Queen to prosecute the war.
5. Orders were also sent to all gentlemen in Ireland to bring in their men, armed at their own expense, to aid the Viceroy, but very few have done so, and those unwillingly, so that no effect has been produced.
6. In all the towns of the realm the Macguires, O'Roukes, Burghs, and Mackennas, and the rest of the insurgents, were proclaimed traitors and enemies of the Queen.
7. The enemies heard of the archbishop of Tuam's coming to Spain to ask for aid, and have taken means to try to catch him on his return if they can. Our people are anxiously awaiting his reply, and are full of hope and energy.
8. The principal gentlemen of Munster have sent to Don Maurice Geraldine and his cousin, Thomas Geraldine, to say secretly that they are ready to rise against the English at any moment, if they will come with aid. They are very firm.
9. A similar message has been sent to Viscount Baltinglas by his friends and allies, especially Feagh McHugh, who can do great harm to the English, as he has some strong places on his lands, particularly one, in a famous valley, where 15 soldiers, with plenty of ammunition, could hold the place against the world.
10. A merchant named Patrick Comerford came to Bilbao last year to spy, and on his return gave notice that the Geraldines were sending one of their men hither to plot with their friends against the Queen, as will be seen by enclosed copy of a letter which I got from a friend.
11. The English have recently discovered in Ireland a silver mine, and have sent to England some pataches loaded with silver, and they are daily extracting more. This mine is near Wexford.
12. The affairs of Ireland are now in such a state that if his Majesty will send prompt and powerful aid, great effect will be produced. The Queen will be kept busy at home with small cost to his Majesty. In order to keep the war alive it would be well to send at once some arms and ammunition, especially harquebusses and powder ; and one of the Irish gentlemen in his Majesty's pay should be sent thither to animate them with his presence.


  • 1. The indictment of Brian O'Rourke will be found in Hatfield Papers, Part IV., p. 170.
  • 2. In a copy of a letter in the same packet from an Irishman named Patrick Comerford, who had been sent to Spain as a spy, and had returned to Ireland, the writer states that he gave information of Slatimor's going to Ireland, and was authorised to arrest him.