Simancas: March 1603

Pages 729-744

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

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March 1603

2 March.
Estado, 840.
735. Report of the Council Of State to Philip III. on the English Succession.
In his vote on the question of the English succession count de Olivares submitted the following fresh points. (fn. 1)
1. The manner in which it is to be proposed to the English Catholics that they should choose one of themselves for King ; so that evil-minded persons may not attribute our action to weakness, but rather to generosity.
2. The manner in which it should be broached to the Pope, in order that he may be impressed with your Majesty's generosity for the sake of religion.
3. Whether it will be advisable for the Pope to represent the matter to the king of France as a favour obtained—or sought—from your Majesty, so as to bridle him (the king of France) and lull his suspicions as much as possible.
4. What should be done about the present offer of the king of France to co-operate in favour of some neutral candidate ; whether he is to be trusted, or whether he only seeks to join us for the purpose of discovering and upsetting your Majesty's plans.
5. The necessary conditions and offers of aid when the time arrives.
6. Whether it will be advisable to touch at once upon the question of return and gratitude to your Majesty for your renunciation and promised aid, as others do ; and whether it will be well to come to a formal arrangement with the Pope or not, on terms which will not frighten them (the English), but will only have the appearance of asking for concessions which they may reasonably grant.
7. What answer should be given if they broach the subject of marriage, as they have done before.
Your Majesty was pleased to desire the opinion of the Council on the above points, and as count de Olivares was the author of them, he was desired to state his views prior to the discussion. He observed that he did not see so much difficulty in the substance of the points themselves, as in the manner and time for carrying them into effect, there being so many antagonistic elements to conciliate. We have to endeavour to preserve our prestige and make a necessity appear a virtue. Whilst the fear that the Queen may die makes haste of the greatest importance, it is equally necessary that the affair should be managed in a circuitous way. The haste, necessary as it is, must not be overdone, at least in declaring the choice of the future King. It might produce great difficulties, as has happened before in EDgland, but as the danger would be still greater if no preparations or arrangements had been made at the time of the Queen's death, and confusion and discontent would prevail amongst the Catholics if they were kept in suspense without any decision as to their proposals, it will be advisable, so far as possible, to assure the principal point, whilst proceeding to anticipate and arrange the questions arising out of it.
Points 1, 2, 3, and 4 are linked one with another, and may be considered together. He (Olivares) is of opinion that, in order to avoid the appearance of the change of front having originated with your Majesty, advantage should be taken of what the duke of Sessa recently wrote, to the effect that the Pope had suggested that your Majesty and the king of France might agree as to who should be king of England. His Holiness did not say that the suggestion came from the king of France, or that the duke of Sessa was to convey it to your Majesty. It was simply said by way of discourse ; but as Secretary Villeroy's message to Hugh Owen, by his brother, the canon of Humiéres (?) is so extremely slender a thread to seize upon, it will be better in every respect to make use of the Pope's suggestion. He (Olivares) therefore thinks that your Majesty should order the duke of Sessa to say to the Pope, as if in reply to his observation, that he had conveyed to your Majesty what his Holiness had proposed (thus stretching a point to call it a proposal, which, strictly speaking, it was not), and your Majesty had replied praising his (the Pope's) holy zeal, and thanking him for the goodwill which moved him. Your Majesty regarded the Pope's opinion with the highest respect in all things, and you could assure him that neither your Majesty nor your father had ever had the intention of joining the crown of England to that of Spain.
All the expense you have incurred had had no other object than zeal for the service of God, a desire to convert England to the Faith, and to place on the throne a person who would uphold it. If sometimes you had fixed your eyes on persons of your own blood for the purpose, it was because you believed that in no other hands would the Faith be more secure, and because the English themselves had constantly urged you thereto for the same reason. They (the English) also believed that such a person would enjoy greater prestige, and would have the advantage of a renunciation of your Majesty's own rights, which are stronger than any, even if the king of Scotland were not ineligible for illegitimacy and heresy. This has been the opinion, moreover, of his Holiness and his predecessors, especially in respect to the Infanta and the Archduke ; but as their Highnesses are a long while without having children it appears that their candidature has become less desirable. As his Holiness now thought that at the present time some other solution might be adopted, and in order that some assurance should be given to the king of France that no person should be chosen whom he would oppose, your Majesty would be greatly influenced by the opinion of his Holiness, whom you respect as a father. His Holiness is, however, prayed to bear in mind the influence your Majesty will naturally desire to exercise as to the approval of the person selected, and the gratitude you will expect from him in return for the renunciation of your rights, and the assistance you will have to give him, The king of France should be satisfied with the assurance that your Majesty does not desire the crown for yourself or your sister, and leave the matter in the hands of his Holiness and your Majesty. He should also be gratified that the crown of England, which has been so inimical to that of France, a large part of which country it claims, should not be joined to that of Scotland. The Duke should not go beyond this by way of reply to the Pope.
The Duke might be instructed that in order to avoid delay, which may be dangerous, he should arrange in his next audience that the Pope should summon him to discuss the matter, which in the meanwhile they will both have considered ; and in the second interview, after listening to what the Pope has to say, he, the Duke, should observe that he has been thinking over the matter, and, although he is perhaps exceeding his duty in saying it, he is of opinion that it will be difficult for the two Kings to agree upon a person whom both will trust, and the attempt to do so might breed further discord between them, as in these evil times the friend of one is nearly sure to be the enemy of the other, and whilst they are quibbling as to whom should be chosen, the Queen might die.
The Duke will hear what the Pope has to say to this, and will then try to move his Holiness to exert his influence with the king of France, pointing out in such terms as God's inspiration, and his own wisdom will dictate, the difficulties in the way, and persuading him to consent to the person chosen being an Englishman, selected by the English Catholics without dictation from anyone. He (the Pope) should also be moved to point out to the king of France, that the persons elected will naturally and justly show gratitude to your Majesty. In order to avoid obstacles, it will be better not to try to finally settle the matter at once, but only to come to an understanding with the Pope with regard to future action, it being intimated that your Majesty acts thus generously out of respect for his Holiness, knowing that this generosity is necessary for the attainment of the object in view. As all this is so entirely in accordance with what the Popes usually desire, the Duke will have no difficulty about it. The Count (Olivares) considers the above the best course to pursue to preserve our prestige.
The Duke (of Sessa) may also be requested to consider whether it would not be better for the second step in the above proceedings to be entrusted to Father Persons, who might be primed in the matter by the Duke, after the first interview of the latter with the Pope, and prior to the second audience ; so that Persons might speak to the Pope at the proper time. It will also be advisable that the Duke, as if of his own accord, should warn the Pope to be cautious, lest the king of France should make a bad use of his Holiness' condescension, and either make unreasonable demands, or divulge the negotiation to the Queen so as to embroil matters. The Pope should accordingly proceed warily with him from the first, so as to keep him within bounds, and prevent him from making excessive demands. He (the king of France) should, moreover, not be informed of the whole plan or he might divulge it.
The Duke may also be instructed to lay down firmly and resolutely as if on his own accord, in the course of the conference, the principle that no other armed forces but those of your Majesty can be allowed to enter England, in order to avoid the troubles which usually arise from the employment of both (French and Spanish) together. Your Majesty has, however, no wish to introduce more troops than may be requested by the King (of England) himself, and only for so long a time, and of the nationalities that he may desire, as your Majesty has no end in view but the welfare of others. Father Persons may be employed to say this, as if the idea originated with him. He could enforce it by pointing out the mutual hatred of the French and English, and the danger that the French might fall out with your Majesty's troops, the discord thus arising giving an opportunity for the king of Scotland to slip in between them. These and other arguments would come better from Persons than from the Duke.
The Duke should be warned that although the principle of the matter should be adopted with all speed, in case the Queen should die, much care must be taken not to signify the person until the proper time, in order to avoid the danger above mentioned. When the (English) Catholics consider a fitting season has arrived for announcing their choice, it should be concealed from the king of France more than from anyone. Even amongst the English Catholics themselves no definite selection of their candidate should be made prematurely, both on account of the danger alrendy indicated, and because circumstances might subsequently make another person preferable, or the jealousy of the rest of them frustrate the design. The Duke will have to discuss all this fully with Persons. The cry they (the English Catholics) will have to raise in order to keep the matter afoot until the time for action arrives (as they themselves will understand, and arrange better than anyone) is that as good Englishmen they want a native King, and no foreigner or subjection to the king of Scotland. This language will attract to them many heretics and "politicians." There would be no need for this cry to come to the Queen's ears, unless she were so moribund as to inspire no fear, or wished to adopt some unfit successor (of which she has hitherto shown no indication), or, again, unless the king of Scotland raised an army for an appeal to arms ; and even in this case the Catholics would be the first to offer to defend themselves (i.e., their country).
If the Pope shall have made any further advance in the matter since the Duke wrote the letter referred to, or any pressure shall have been brought to bear by the king of France, the Duke had better make the later action a basis for his proceeding, even at the cost of delaying the reply for a few days. The Duke should also arrange with the Pope for the business to pass through the hands of the French Ambassador in Rome, and when his Holiness addresses the Duke about it officially he should also take the same step with the French Ambassador, enjoining upon him the utmost secrecy. The Nuncios for the present should not be employed in the business, as the lees people admitted into the secret the better. The introduction of Persons into it will be a commencement to the giving of a reply to the English Catholics. The Duke will give him to understand as much as possible that our action has been prompted by the Pope, or else by the delay in the birth of children to the Infanta and the Archduke, upon whom they (the English Catholics) had fixed. He might be told also that it would be better that they should have a native King, chosen by themselves, and that your Majesty was anxious as they for their success, and would assist the person they might select as effectually as one of your own blood. You would look upon him as such, and, indeed, he would be so, for he would succeed to your Majesty's rights.
A few days after these despatches had been sent to Rome, Creswell might be told that his Holiness had opened certain negotiations in the matter, and a reply had been sent to him at once ; we only awaited his answer before arriving at a decision. Shortly afterwards Creswell could be informed of the proposal and reply, and his opinion upon the matter requested. If he is very urgent, in consequence of the Queen's age, or if news comes of her illness before a reply can reach us from Rome, Creswell may be told what is being settled speedily ; and that the Archduke and the Ambassador in Flanders have all necessary instructions as to what they are to do if the event happens suddenly.
If the course here recommended be followed, it would be advisable to send at once appropriate instructions and authority, with a sum of money to be held available for the commencement of the business, as it may be considered very probable that the event may occur at any time, and much confusion and evil might arise if due preparation had not been made.
When matters are more advanced, it might be arranged for Persons to go to Flanders, where he could unite with the Archduke and the Ambassador in adopting the measures that might be necessary to carry out your Majesty's object. There would be no need for him to come hither, and when the proper time arrived his Holiness might strengthen him with a Cardinal's hat, of which he would be worthy, whether he went to England or not. All this might be carried out at the time that he (Persons) considered advisable for the success of the cause, except the matter of the Cardinalate, which of his own accord he will never say is desirable.
With regard to the fifth point, when the matter is clearly explained to Persons and Creswell, they may be told in general terms that your Majesty will do all you can, as if the person selected were your own son, which indeed you will consider him to be. Although it may be somewhat premature, the Count (Olivares) thinks that the aid your Majesty could afford them, without much difficulty or expense, would be to land from the galleys in the port indicated by the person selected a good large body of men, or if he desired it, they might be sent up the Thames to London. These men must, of course, be taken from the troops we are obliged to keep in Flanders, and the lack of them there will not do so much harm as the occupation of England will do good to Flemish affairs. If the person elected have a following there will be no risk. With the ships now in preparation, and those that, in any case, we must have at sea, we could at any time enter quickly into St. George's Channel, and land our men in an English port, as near to the Scottish border as possible, devoted to the new King. The whole of the troops on board might be landed, because, the Queen being dead, we should not have to fear that the English fleet would impede our return. We should not have to land any victuals, as the King-elect would see to them, and we should only need some warlike stores and money to enable us to hold our own for a time, and avoid having to ask for anything immediately. These two expeditions sent promptly to points so far apart, together with the forces which it may be concluded the King-elect will have, should suffice to win the game. The forces which would be insufficient for an undertaking on our own account, will be more than enough to help a native ruler, particularly if France can be prevented from interfering.
With regard to the sixth point, this should be lightly touched upon from the first with the Pope, in the manner already suggested, and also similarly with Persons and Creswell, as representatives of the Catholics ; so that when the matter has to be dealt with it may not come upon them as a surprise. It may then be left until the time for action arrives. The Count (Olivares) thinks that the best opportunity for pressing and settling this point would be shortly after the election of the King (of England). He (Olivares) thinks that, in addition to repaying your Majesty your expenses within a convenient period of years, they should make no difficulty in ceding to your Majesty the Isle of Wight, and your Majesty should be satisfied with this. He (Olivares) does not anticipate so much advantage from the possession of the island, as does Purser Antonio Gutierrez ; but there will be a very good pretext for demanding it from the first for the purpose of harbouring the fleet, and subsequently as a convenient point from which to relieve Flanders, and to keep England (and even France) in subjection ; though in both cases this must be done with dissimulation. He (Olivares) is of opinion that we ought not to ask for a port in England itself, so that it may not appear so evident that we want to keep our foot on the neck of the King and his country, which would offend everyone in England, and in France as well. The latter country even—with however little reason—might make a similar demand for herself if she met with any encouragement. In addition to this, we should have to incur a great expense and trouble in fortifying such a port ; besides which in time the king of England might go to war with us and spoil all the friendship for the purpose of putting an end to so obvious a subjection. If we possess the Isle of Wight we shall have all we need, without so much ruffling their feelings. So strongly is the Count (Olivares) of this opinion that he thinks, even in the event of the English offering a port, it should not be accepted.
In order to avoid other similar dangers the Count thinks that it would be unwise to attempt (or even to consent thereto if they should offer it) to make the new King simply the representative of your Majesty, in respect of your rights to the crown ; or in any way to make England a feudatory state. It is certain that after the first need had passed, so important a monarch (as the king of England) would resent the position, and instead of making England a dependency, we should only make her and other countries our enemies. Besides this, it would appear a very overbearing act ; and your Majesty has a good example as to the amount of loyalty exhibited by feudatory rulers in the case of Siena.
He (Olivares) would take no heed of Ireland, which is a noisy business, and more trouble than advantage for your Majesty. At the Isle of Wight we might stand on the alert, in case any schism should occur amongst them (the English) during the election, which should render an invasion of England necessary to stop it. This step would, moreover, be agreeable to France and even to the Pope.
There are two other islands in the Channel (Jersey and Guernsey) belonging to the crown of England, but they are not so commodious nor have they so good a port as the Isle of Wight. They are nearer the mouth of the Channel, and being quite close to the French coast, their possession by your Majesty would arouse jealousy on the part of the king of France. We should therefore, avoid mention of them, or they may want to give them to us instead of the Isle of Wight. Indeed, if need should arise for making some concession to the French, the islands might be given to them, unreasonable as this would be.
On the seventh point, inasmuch as France would be just as jealous that the queen of England (i.e., the Queen-Consort) should be of your Majesty's kin, as if the King were ; and as such a marriage would additionally pledge your Majesty's prestige in the success of the undertaking, and it might be of advantage to the Catholics to have the disposal of both positions, which might enable them to reconcile difficulties and silence discontent, the Count thinks that your Majesty should reply to any fresh proposals for marriage from the Catholics to the following effect. That your Majesty would be very glad to form this fresh bond of union with them, but you are moved to place their advantage before any interests of your own, and think best to leave them absolute freedom of action in this particular. Your Majesty thinks that they would thus be enabled to conciliate more than one person, and the matter would be proportionately facilitated. As for support and aid, that shall not fail them in any case. If, however, time and circumstances should render another course necessary to them, (which your Majesty would regret), there would be no difficulty in granting their request, and the choice of the person in such case should be left to them. To this might be added, that God was blessing your Majesty with offspring, and even if the present opportunity should be passed over, another might occur for renewing the close bonds of ancient kinship between the two crowns, which would afford your Majesty great pleasure.
The Council is of opinion that count de Olivares has very discreetly set forth the whole subject, and approves generally of the methods proposed, with the following additional observations ; taking each point seriatim. With regard to the first point, the commendador mayor of Leon said that he had not been present at the discussion of the question of the English succession, and is of opinion that the negotiations with the Pope and the English Catholics should not assume the form of proposals on our side, but rather that of replies to their proposals ; as in that case our prestige is the better safeguarded, and our action cannot be attributed to weakness, but only to your Majesty's ardent desire to see England brought to obey the apostolic see and to her ancient condition.
With regard to the manner proposed for carrying out the second point, he approves of the recommendations adopted with regard to the replies and negotiations to be entrusted to the duke of Sessa and Father Persons, but he is of opinion that nothing should be said at present about the cession of your Majesty's rights, but would rather hold this back to be used as a dowry in a marriage, or in case of a war with France. The Catholics might be assisted in all other respects in their selection of a candidate.
The count de Chinchon agreed with the Commendador Mayor with regard to his first suggestion ; but he saw no objection to the Pope being informed that the country (England) rightly belonged to your Majesty, and that in justice you should endeavour to obtain it for the Infanta ; but if for the service of God and the welfare of religion it should be better for the English to choose a native monarch, and the person chosen possessed the fitting qualities, your. Majesty would disregard your own advantage in the matter, and would willingly cede your rights, on just and reasonable conditions, to the King selected.
The counts de Miranda and Alba, F. Gaspar de Cordoba, the Constable, and the marquis de Poza confirmed the decision already arrived at with regard to these two points ; and it was unanimously agreed that in any case, whether your Majesty's rights to the English crown were to be used by yourself or transferred to another, your Majesty should be fully prepared and armed ; as otherwise we shall not succeed in our object, and your Majesty's generosity in ceding your rights will not be properly appreciated.
The count de Olivares' third point was agreed to by the Council.
With regard to the fourth point it was thought that the duke of Sessa, when he opened the negotiations with the Pope, might ask his Holiness what his feeling was respecting the person to be selected for the English throne ; whether the new King should be a native of the country, and whether the Pope had thought of any person who would suit, and who could be implicitly trusted by his Holiness and your Majesty. The object of this would be to prove to the Pope that your Majesty has no wish to take the selection entirely on your own shoulders, and to associate him with your Majesty in the matter, so as to ensure his support. There would be no objection to the Duke's being informed that, if the king of France is desirous of agreeing to a neutral person, your Majesty will be pleased to come to a friendly understanding with him.
With regard to the fifth and sixth points, the Council is of opinion that the consideration may be deferred for the present, as they depend upon the success of other prior points.
As to the seventh point, when the (English) Catholics mention marriage they may be told that your Majesty will always act as will be best for them. This will be to show them that your Majesty's sole object is their welfare, rather than any advantage of your own.—2nd March 1603.
3 March.
Estado, 840.
736. Count De Caracena to the King.
Don Cornelius O'Driscoll, lord of Baltimore, has handed to me the enclosed memorials, begging leave to go to Ireland and help the other Catholics there, in whose name, he says, he came to give your Majesty an account of affairs. Your Majesty will see the reasons he gives for his request, and for supplies in kind being sent instead of money, as well as the urgent need for promptness.
I beg your Majesty to have a speedy resolution adopted, as O'Driscoll's great anxiety is that he should not break his promise to return with the assistance your Majesty might grant, which promise he ought, he thinks, to have fulfilled long ago. If these pataches are to go to Ireland, he might be allowed to go with the succour which is sent in them.
As the season is so far advanced I beg for prompt instructions.— La Coruña, 3rd March 1603.
737. Cornelius O'Driscoll to Count De Caracena.
Don Cornelius O'Driscoll, lord of Baltimore, begs your Excellency to obtain permission for him to go to his own country, in order to fulfil his word to the Catholic gentlemen, and do his duty to the King and his country. He assures your Excellency that there are very few who can do as much as he can, and it appears that the Catholics are even now feeling the want of him for so long. He has certain gentlemen who follow and serve him, and in view of his long absence they were in despair, as were also his wife and vassals. If your Excellency does not remedy this he believes that the Catholic cause will greatly suffer by his absence. He is so unhappy that he knows no rest night or day at the thought that he is not in a place where he may be of use to your Majesty and the Catholics ; and there is nothing in the world that will do him good, except to go and strive for his native land.
In good truth he assures your Excellency that if he be not allowed to do this speedily all the (Catholic) gentlemen will come to Spain and serve his Majesty elsewhere. If they are not soon helped to struggle for the faith of Christ in their own land, the supplicant and the rest of the Catholic gentlemen will have but little confidence. He therefore earnestly begs and beseeches your Excellency, for the sake of God's cause, if only to write a letter endeavouring to obtain permission for him to go soon, before the gentlemen are reduced to despair ; as the presence of a person of such good service (as himself) will encourage them to hold out.
3 March (?).
Estado, 840.
738. Cornelius O'Driscoll to Count De Caracena.
If his Majesty intends to send any stores to the Catholics, who are in arms in the province of Munster, they should be sent in kind, and not in money, which cannot be laid out in any part of Ireland, and is of no use unless they (the Catholics) come to Spain. If it be decided to send them aid, and any delay is to occur, it would be well to grant them a dispatch boat to carry to them at once such supplies ar are needed to relieve their pressing wants. As he knows no person but your Excellency to aid him in this important matter, he pleads for your intercession. He offers to risk his own person in the voyage in the dispatch boat, as he knows the coast better than anyone. He also thinks that it would be advisable that some person should be appointed by his Majesty to distribute what is sent, even though he take with him but a hundred soldiers, and the Irishmen who are here (i.e., Coruña). This person would efficiently rule them pending the arrival of further aid, and the ignorant people would obey him. The supplies his Majesty might send would be placed in safety and always at his disposal.
They (the Catholics) are so hardly pressed by the heretics that they cannot sow their fields, and have no food. For God's sake let the above matter be dispatched speedily, for otherwise the Catholics will be utterly unable to help one another.
Estado, 840.
739. Council Of State to Philip III.
Count de Caracena, in his letter of the 3rd instant, encloses two memorials handed to him by Don Cornelius O'Driscoll, lord of Baltimore. One of these sets forth that if your Majesty pleases to send aid to the Catholics who are holding out in the province of Munster, it should take the form of provisions, as it is impossible to lay out money there, and it is useless to them unless they come to Spain. He therefore begs your Majesty to grant a dispatch-boat (patache) to the said Catholics for the purpose of carrying to them what they urgently require, thus enabling them to be always ready for the enemy. He (O'Driscoll) offers, in his own person, to risk the voyage in the dispatch-boat, as he knows the coast well ; but he considers that it would be advisable for some person representing your Majesty to go also, for the purpose of handing over the above-mentioned assistance, even though he takes with him no more than a hundred soldiers and the Irishmen now in Coruña. He craves your Majesty's permission to go and aid the other Catholics in Ireland, on whose behalf he came hither to give your Majesty an account of their condition. Not only is he greatly wanted there for your Majesty's service, but he also gave his pledge to his associates that he would return speedily, and he is apprehensive of the distrust that his delay may breed amongst the Catholics. He is quite inconsolable about this, and he earnestly begs your Majesty to be pleased to come to a speedy resolution on it, and in the matter of sending a person in the dispatch-boats to represent your Majesty, as the season is already far advanced.
The Council is of opinion that it would be very desirable to provide three or four thousand ducats for count de Caracena to employ in the purchase of such stores as may seem needful to O'Driscoll, and send them with him to Ireland in the charge of some person who will distribute them according to the Count's order. (fn. 2)
18 March.
Estado, 840.
740. Father Joseph Creswell to (the Duke Of Lerma?).
I have not been to the palace when your Excellency commanded me, in order not to occupy your time, and because I hoped to obtain the necessary replies through other channels. As, however, a longer delay has occurred than I expected, I decided yesterday to bring to your Excellency's notice the critical state of these affairs. On the one hand I am being pressed so urgently from England to send them a reply, either yes or no, to the proposals submitted, and on the other hand I experience so much difficulty in obtaining it, that in order to get out of the dilemma, before the whole business bursts, I thought well to come to a clear understanding with the Father Confessor, as your Excellency will see by the two documents I have given to Don Rodrigo to read to you and return to me. The fact is, that unless a decision be adopted before Easter in the matters proposed, I can devise no other means of justifying my long silence than to send to England the same documents that are now in possession of Don Rodrigo ; advising at the same time that I have sent copies thereof to his Majesty since they were handed to the Father Confessor. This is the last action I can take in the matter. I should like to say one word to your Excellency before Holy Week, but as none of the days mentioned for an audience is before that week, I will not act contrary to your Excellency's orders without permission.—18th March 1603. Signed, Joseph Cresuelo.
March? Estado, 840. 741. Father Joseph Creswell to Philip III.
I beg your Majesty to be pleased to give an answer to the Catholics of England, with regard to the proposals they have submitted and your Majesty has referred to the Council of State, with regard to the succession to the crown of England, as great difficulties arise from the delay that is taking place.—S.D. Signed, Joseph Cresuelo.
742. Father Joseph Creswell to Philip III.
For the very grave reasons that have been already submitted to your Majesty, and others which are now occurring, (fn. 3) it is necessary that your Majesty should have a very trustworthy person in the Flemish ports, authorised to act when needful, and keep in hand affairs that demand mature consideration and a reply from here. In fact, the person in question should be one to whom we may entrust the most secret and important of the correspondence with the English Catholics. Some of your Majesty's Ministers think that Frederico Spinola would be a fit person. Your Majesty will know best whether he is to be trusted in the matter of secresy. If so, there seems to be no objection to him, as he may have means of communication through his countrymen, and by virtue of the office he holds under your Majesty.
Either with him, or with some other person, the recent proposals and the business of the ports, etc., will have to be discussed immediately. There is danger in delay.—Joseph Cresuelo.
743. Father Joseph Creswell to Philip III.
In accordance with the decision your Majesty may adopt with regard to the English succession, it will be necessary to draw up the edict and have it re-printed, with the same secresy as was previously observed. A number of copies will have to be sent to Flanders, to the charge of the person who is to manage the correspondence. If this step be taken in due time, it will be worth 10,000 men when the opportunity arrives, as was seen by the example of Queen Mary, who, by taking a similar step, gained the crown of England.— Joseph Cresuelo.
744. Father Joseph Creswell to Philip III.
With regard to the 100,000 ducats to be paid by Ambrosio Spinola, I pray your Majesty will give orders to the Father Confessor, either that the resolution should be promptly carried out, or that I should have permission to undeceive the persons to whom the promise was made. They have spent, and are spending, money on the public service, trusting on the pledge given to their messenger at San Lorenzo by count de Miranda, and the delay in the matter looks very bad. They are, moreover, persons of so much importance that the whole success of the affair depends upon keeping them, and this can only be done by straightforward and punctual dealing.—Joseph Cresuelo.
26 March.
Estado, 840.
745. Earl of Bothwell to (the Duke of Lerma?).
I discussed with your Excellency last year the matters which I now again submit in somewhat different terms. You enjoined me not to communicate these points to any member of the Council, and I therefore set forth certain heads which his Majesty may lay before the Council, whilst the present document, which is of greater importance, I deliver into your Excellency's own hand to be dealt with as you think best. I would, however, beg your Excellency to remember the great difference that exists between negotiating in Scotland in its present state and negotiating here. If matters there are not concluded at once the opportunity is lost ; and if the following proposals are entertained, I would beg that the affair should be dispatched immediately, so that all necessary preparations may be made before October.
As no answer had been received to the letters and advices from the Scottish Catholics which I handed to your Excellency, I concluded that his Majesty was disinclined to listen to them ; and I therefore wrote to certain friends and kinsmen of mine—men of great experience—urging them to find some easier and surer means of establishing the faith and forwarding his Majesty's interests.
They reply acceding to the first part of the proposals ; namely, the undertaking of the Catholics to hand over to me for my security the four fortresses mentioned. With regard to the second point, they have made such arrangements as will force the King to raise a guard of 600 men—200 cavalry and 400 infantry—under the command of Viscount Ochiltree, a kinsman and vassal of my own, and a brother-in-law of Baron Fernihurst, who has come hither with this mission. The difficulty, however, which arises on this point is that the King and Court are on bad terms with the nobles and gentry, who are unwilling to contribute in any way to the cost of the guard, as they consider that it is being raised only at the instance of the courtiers, and not from any real need for it on the part of the King. For this reason they (the Catholics) request me, since the opportunity is at hand and everything ready, to beg his Majesty to assist them with the necessary funds to raise the guard, and to pay what they have arranged to the said Earl (Viscount?), who undertakes to deliver into my hands the King and all his children, and on my arrival there to receive 600 Spanish soldiers as a guard. The Viscount undertakes also to resign the captaincy of the guard to me the moment I arrive. For this purpose they (the Catholics) request that a sum of 50,000 ducats should be lodged with any person whom his Majesty may choose in Antwerp ; and as security we pledge ourselves to carry the plan into effect or die in the attempt. We also agree to place in his Majesty's hands as hostages our sons and heirs—I, the Viscount, and Baron Fernihurst— the son of the latter being now here. When these three hostages are handed over, we request that the sum of 50,000 ducats should be at once paid to us for the purpose above-mentioned, and for the pay of the guard until fresh reinforcements can be sent by his Majesty, if necessary. The Catholics on their side pray for the assurance which from so Christian a monarch may be expected by those who are ready to risk their lives, estates, and children in the execution of so signal a service.
In order to prove to your Excellency how anxious they are to serve his Majesty, and to establish a perpetual friendship between the two countries, they promise to deliver to me the person of the Prince, so that his Majesty may have him married or do as he likes with him. As these proposals appear to me to be both easy and safe of execution, I beg to lay them before his Majesty and your Excellency ; and I would urge that all that is suggested is so greatly to the advantage of his Majesty, and the injury of his enemies, that an answer as to his Majesty's intentions is greatly to be desired. I have been especially enjoined to declare to his Majesty that the success of the business depends largely upon energetic action. I am also requested to confer with various persons from Scotland, some of whom will come to France or Flanders to meet me ; but with others I shall have to correspond by means of trustworthy couriers. I am without sufficient resources for this purpose, and I beg his Majesty to grant me a sum of 2,000 crowns here, and 4,000 crowns in France or Antwerp, to pay couriers, and entertain the gentlemen who may come over. If any difficulty presents itself to your Excellency I beg you will be good enough to summon me, and I will give you the fullest possible satisfaction, or else that you will refer the business to two members of his Majesty's Council, one of State and the other of War. Time is so short that I earnestly beg that I may be dispatched as soon as possible.
746. Memorial from the Earl Of Bothwell to Philip III.
Francis Stuart, earl of Bothwell, admiral of Scotland, submitted to your Majesty last year a memorial on behalf of the Catholics of Scotland, setting forth their great desire to establish the Catholic faith there. No decision having been arrived at in the matter, they have now sent hither Andrew Ker, Baron Fernihurst, to beg your Majesty to give a reply to the proposals contained in the said memorial, and also to the new offers now submitted to your Majesty. He therefore humbly begs your Majesty to be pleased to despatch the said Baron as speedily as possible with the condescension which your Majesty usually extends to those who serve the Catholic faith, and that your Majesty will accept the proposals made by the Catholics, as follows : First, the Catholics offer in the service of God and your Majesty to establish the faith in Scotland, to reinforce Ireland with troops and stores, and hamper the queen of England from the west coast of Scotland. In order to hold Ireland, and oppose the said re-inforcements, she will be obliged to maintain an extremely powerful fleet in those seas, as well as a double force to hold the passage from Dover to Calais. In addition to this, she must keep another force on the Scottish border to prevent the Scots from entering England. All this will involve so excessive an outlay that the Queen will be compelled to abandon the fleets she is fitting out, or intends to fit out, against your Majesty.
As a security for the fulfilment of these promises the Catholics bind themselves to surrender for your Majesty's use to the earl of Bothwell four of the principal fortresses in Scotland, one of which, Dumbarton, is impregnable and forms the key of the provinces, standing, as it does, in a position which commands the confluence of the three rivers which divide the said provinces, the entrance to which it completely dominates. The fortress is so well armed with cannon that it will be impossible to blockade it, and your Majesty will be able to reinforce it at any time, as the Queen could not impede it unless she had a force in each of the four provinces.
Another of the fortresses is called Broughty, on the east coast, at the mouth of the Tay. This fortress entirely commands one of the principal countries and cities in Scotland, where the greater part of the shipping of the country is owned.
The third fortress is Blackness, an extremely important position, dominating the entrance to the Forth, and provides a landing-place of four leagues in extent in the principal county of Scotland.
The last of the four is the castle of Hermitage, which is an impregnable place on the English border. For seven leagues round the country is impracticable for battery-artillery, and the castle is garrisoned by the bravest and noted fighting men in Scotland. It is, moreover, well supplied with cannon and stores of all kinds.
In all assurance, the Catholics beg your Majesty to send some trustworthy person to Scotland to examine these fortresses. Baron Fernihurst will guarantee his safety, and, as a hostage therefor, will leave his eldest son here, he having brought him hither for that purpose.
The Catholics undertake to arrange everything as set forth above, with your Majesty's aid and protection ; and request with this object 4,000 soldiers maintained at your Majesty's cost ; and in the event of your Majesty desiring to prosecute the war against England they will provide for your Majesty's service 26,000 Scotsmen, to be paid by your Majesty for the duration of the war. In security for this they will leave their sons in your Majesty's hands as hostages ; and in order that your Majesty may be recouped for the expenses of the war the Catholics undertake, when the faith is established in Scotland, to pay to your Majesty the third part of the ecclesiastical revenues, until the whole cost shall have been reimbursed.
In addition to the above, Baron Fernihurst also brings proposals for a reconciliation between the Earl (Bothwell) and the king of Scotland on the following terms. First, that his eldest son shall marry the marquis of Huntly's daughter without a dower ; secondly, that he shall surrender the possession of the viscounty of Coldingham (?) to Viscount Hume, who holds it since the Earl was banished from Scotland ; and thirdly, that he shall forgive all his enemies and forego all claims of any sort against them. The Earl, however, cannot, either for reasons of state, or as a matter of equity, accept these conditions, unless it be for your Majesty's advantage. In the first place, he has no will in the matter apart from your Majesty's wishes, and in addition to this he cannot be expected to marry his son without a dower, after so much trouble, loss of friends and relatives, and the total ruin of his own estate. His other children, moreover, would thus be plundered, and unable to maintain themselves as befits their quality, in consequence of the decrease of revenue and the surrender of the viscounty. His loss of income would be 10,000 crowns a year, and to surrender this would be indirectly to admit that he was culpable of the offences with which the King charges him, although he has been acquitted by the Scottish Parliament. This would be a great stain upon the honour and reputation of himself and his house ; and in addition to all this he is in great doubt as to whether the King would keep his word, he having broken it so often, and being desirous that he (the Earl) should promise to forgive all his enemies.
The above memorial embodies the Catholic proposals, and the Earl humbly begs your Majesty to have them considered, keeping in view the zeal for the service of God and your Majesty which prompts them.
A note is appended to the aforegoing documents in which the duke of Lerma, by order of the King, refers them to the Council of State.—Valladolid, 26th March 1603.
The report of the Council of State is to the effect that the earl of Bothwell's proposals are so important that, in order that they may be thoroughly sifted and considered, it will be well to accede to his wish and refer the whole matter for investigation to two members of the Council to be nominated by his Majesty.
With regard to the proposed reconciliation between Bothwell and the king of Scotland, the Council is of opinion that the king of Spain should not intervene in any way, but let Bothwell do the best he can, because otherwise the king of Spain would render himself liable to recompense Bothwell for what he surrendered at his (the King's) request. This would be a large sum and any such liability should be avoided, as no countervailing advantage would be gained by it.


  • 1. See the latter portion of the document dated 1st February, 1603, page 728.
  • 2. A decree is appended to count de Caracena's letter, embodying the above recommendations.
  • 3. It was known by this time that Elizabeth could not recover. This explains the urgent insistence of Father Creswell for immediate action to be taken. The Queen died on the 24th March 1603.