May 1679


Institute of Historical Research



Martin A. S. Hume (editor)

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'Simancas: May 1679', Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 2: 1568-1579 (1894), pp. 668-678. URL: Date accessed: 23 April 2014. Add to my bookshelf


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May 1679

3 May. 571. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
I wrote to your Majesty on the 27th, and on the same day received the letter containing your Majesty's orders about this Queen's ministers. I have found them very cool during the last two months, particularly Sussex, who has never seen me without asking me if I had any letters from your Majesty, in such a way and in such terms as to try to force from me some declaration with regard to the fulfilment of the hopes I had held out to him in return for the attachment he has shown to your Majesty's interests. I have always adopted the course of making much of his services in general terms, and impressing upon him how advantageous it was for the quietude of the country and the authority of the Queen that he should continue his good offices, whilst at the same time it would not be less so for his own private interests, and to strengthen him against his rivals. Nevertheless, it will be necessary to give him, and the others about whom I wrote, namely, Lord Burleigh, James Crofts, the Comptroller, and Hatton, Captain of the Guard, all of whom are cooling, something to keep them in our favour, because, otherwise, not only shall we lose the chance of gaining them, but shall offend them altogether, and they will take the same line as the others. They are all of them being much solicited by the French, who think that no sooner will Alençon set foot in the country than they will be sure both of England and Scotland as well ; because, when this Queen dies, the Queen of Scotland, for her own interests, will be obliged to receive him with open arms. They are equally sure that your Majesty will not hinder them from becoming masters of both countries, as they say that this will be the only way to bring them to submit to the Pope and the Catholic religion. It is of great importance that we should begin to pledge these ministers to us in the way I previously mentioned, namely, by giving jewels to the value of 3,000 crowns or more each to Sussex and Burleigh, to the Comptroller 2,000 crowns in money, as he faithfully serves your Majesty, and is in great need in consequence, and because, being a Catholic, the Queen has not paid him as she does the others, and his enemies are seeking to undo him. Hatton, although he is attached to your Majesty's service, has joined Leicester in the French affair, so that, if your Majesty thinks fit, a jewel worth 1,500 may be sent and he may be entertained until we see how he goes on. The others, if in the meanwhile they should not forget themselves, should receive their gifts from my own hands very secretly, and with the hope held out that this is merely a sample of the favours your Majesty will constantly show them. If your Majesty thinks well it would be desirable to give something handsome to Leicester, just to make him think we have not found him out.
The Queen and the City of London have not yet paid Horatio Pallavicini the part of the funds he advanced, which was due at the end of February. He is expecting eight English ships which he freighted to bring the alum from Genoa ; note of which ships I sent some time ago to enable your Majesty, if it should please you, to seize the alum in case the ships touched in a Spanish port.
I have continued on every opportunity my endeavours to divert the Queen from the marriage with Alençon in the way I previously mentioned, setting forth to her privately and alone how great was the risk to her life if it were carried through. Although she has listened to this, and similar things I have had conveyed to her by her own subjects, she expresses to Simier such a strong desire to marry that not a Councillor, whatever his opinion may be, dares to say a word against it. When she was leaving to visit a house of Leicester's, six miles off, she took Simier and the ambassador with her, telling them that she would there decide the business definitely. She requested each member of the Council to give her his opinion in writing, but not one of them would declare himself openly. They merely stated the objections on both sides, which she read privately and alone.
The French ambassador has returned, leaving Simier with the Queen, and a secretary of Simier is being dispatched with the Queen's decision. As Alençon's secretary is not taking it, although he said that was the only thing for which he was waiting, it is concluded that the answer is not a definite one. Indeed, some people think that all this intimacy is only with the object of agreeing to prevent the joining of the crown of Portugal to that of Spain, this being the reason for the arming of the French ships and the decision to send seven of the Queen's ships to help them if necessary, the Portuguese being armed. The disturbance in the Marquisate of Saluzzo was said to have been raised with the same end, to prevent the withdrawal of the forces you have ordered from Milan to Spain. They are dissembling in consequence of the Queen's mistrust of the French about Scotland, where there is however no disturbance, as Morton keeps his place, and his opponents, the Queen's friends, have not courage enough to turn him out of it. Although the Scotch ambassador in France may persuade Juan de Vargas that great things can be done if your Majesty will help them, they have not hitherto, so far as I can observe, proceeded in a way which would justify the undertaking of so great an enterprise, with no other foundation than that which he proposes. The gentleman, who was a faithful adherent of the queen of Scotland, about whom I wrote on the 26th of October, has seen me again and given me the reply to the proposal that they (i.e., the Queen's party) should communicate with me, for the reason that your Majesty favoured the cause of the Catholic religion and the release of the Queen, which were their objects, and that I should therefore be their best intermediary. They replied that they did not know me and had no reason to communicate with me, and went no further into the matter.
Morton has 24 or 26 lords on his side, by reason of the pensions paid to them through him by this Queen. Amongst those who favour the queen of Scotland, they say that the man who is most influential is the bishop of St. Andrews, although it may be doubted whether he is a Catholic, seeing that he acts as a bishop after the manner of the rest. If the matter is not first settled with the friends of the Queen (of Scotland) I think it will be difficult to manage it entirely through the Scotch ambassador in France, in a way which will prevent the French from hindering it if they see that it is in favour of your Majesty's interests.
Not only have they (the English) abandoned the navigation to Cathay, but they have been so sickened by the little profit produced from their last year's voyage that not a man or a sailor has been paid his wages.
I will speak to the Queen as ordered about the seizures, but I am doubtful whether the matter will turn out so brilliant as it was painted.
The Queen says that as soon as Guaras has paid his debts she will let him go, and I have therefore suspended the delivery of your Majesty's letter until I see whether she will do so. Both she and the Council promised the same.
Antonio Fogaza came to this country by order of the Cardinal who is now King to negotiate affairs at the time when differences existed with Portugal. Before he left Portugal he conferred with Don Hernando Carrillo, your Majesty's ambassador there, who gave him letters for Ruy Gomez de Silva ; and, as he tells me himself, he spoke also to Secretary Zayas. When he arrived here he discussed with these ministers an agreement with his sovereign, and in the meanwhile, there arrived in England a certain Francisco Giraldi. He being considered rich, and being a brother-in-law of Don Francisco de Portugal, inspector of the King's treasury, with his support and that of Don Miguel de Mora, began to take part in affairs here, which he managed to settle in consequence of the English being pressed, by reason of your Majesty's having prohibited them from trading in your dominions. When Antonio Fogaza saw that the agreement thus arrived at would be prejudicial both to this Queen and your Majesty, he tried to hinder it, and advised Ruy Gomez the reason why he did so, saying at the same time that if, when your Majesty desired to come to terms with England, Portugal also did not agree, he himself would appear before his King and confess the steps he had taken to impede the settlement, moved by his zeal for the Catholic religion and your Majesty's interests. During all this time he continued to write accounts of everything that happened here to the Duke of Alba in the Netherlands and to Secretary Zayas, who requested him to continue in the course he had commenced. Certain letters from the Duke in reply to letters from him came here enclosed to Antonio de Guaras, who opened them, and seeing that he was writing to the Duke, he showed the letters to Giraldi, who was at that time the acknowledged agent of the king of Portugal here. Giraldi wrote to Portugal saying that Fogaza was in correspondence with ministers of another Prince, and other things of the same sort, which caused them to cease correspondence with him and withdraw his allowance, without giving any reason for their doing so. He continued to give advices to the ministers of your Majesty, and, in the absence of the duke of Alba, when I came hither in the year 1574, the Grand Commander (Requesens) gave me a letter for him, and he helped me very much. He was well able to do so at the time, because he was in close connection with an officer of the Queen's Council, whom he kept out of his own pocket, and who told him everything. He now petitions that the sum thus spent, and other sums for similar objects should be paid to him, amounting in all, according to the statement sent to Zayas, to 1,200 crowns. The allowance to him from Portugal being stopped, he fell into difficulties and was imprisoned here for debt, although he never failed to advise your Majesty's ministers of what went on. When I arrived here he also supplied me with valuable information, and particularly with certain intelligence about Portugal, which I sent to your Majesty. He has been extremely zealous, so far as I have been able to learn, in your Majesty's service, and I believe he will still continue to give me valuable intelligence if any negotiations are carried on with Portugal.
The English captains in the States have sent hither for men to recruit their companies, but when the men were ready to sail from Gravesend, the Queen ordered them to be stopped.—London, 3rd May 1579.
572. Bernardino De Mendoza to Zayas.
I thank you sincerely for your letters of the 12th and 2nd ultimo which were very welcome as I had been so long without them. If the owl were more valuable, instead of being merely curious, I would beg you to accept it as a present. I thank you much for the frankness with which you treat me, and for having sent Hans to whom it was very necessary for you to give the order that his costs should be put down to the extraordinary expenses, especially as he arrived here in debt, the postmaster-general only having given him 160 crowns.
I am sorry to hear of the death of the prior Don Antonio, (fn. 1) but he lived in a way which may well inspire emulation.
The spectacles for his Majesty are being made with the greatest speed, but as they are to be very fine, it will not do to hurry the maker too much.
Leicester has spoken to me twice about the seizures, asking me why I did not request the appointment of Commissioners, which is another sign that all is not gold that glitters.
Sussex has complained to me, although indirectly, because he had been addressed about an affair that had taken place with his brother at Namur, saying that, although he was his brother, he did not recognise him as such, (fn. 2) and related to Segasti (fn. 3) the whole story of their dissension. I am fully armed with a reply to him if he should open the subject when I see him again. This has been partly the reason of his colness towards me.
The close intimacy of the Queen with the French is plainly directed towards Portugese affairs and what I wrote about it is now confirmed.
The Ambassador who is coming hither from Portugal is ordered to see the man who left, whose secretary is still here, although he is not entrusted with anything of importance as I have a person near him to advise me if any such thing is entered upon.
The Queen has chosen to send to Portugal Edward Wotton, a young man of great learning and knowledge of languages, who has been in Italy and is a creature of Walsingham's. I cannot discover what are his religious views. He will leave in a fortnight.—London, 3rd May 1579.
4 May. 573. Bernardino De Mendoza to Zayas.
After having written to you yesterday, I have had a clearer understanding with Antonio Fogaza and have tried to bring him round by a thousand blandishments to the service desired of him. After much pro and con, he said that if his Majesty will speedily show him favour, in consideration of his eight years service, he will continue to work with his former zeal, and will show me this by acts and results. He says his object is not self interest but to be more useful, and he seeks present aid in order that the new Ambassador may not find him a prisoner for debt, the last ambassador having left him in an inn, where he is in danger of again being seized by his creditors. If the new Ambassador finds him, he says, in such a position, he will give him but little credit, and in this he is quite right. So sure am I of this, that out of pure pity, I have given him enough to maintain him where he is and will see with what zeal he helps me.
This will be an extremely convenient way of learning what the Portuguese may negotiate here, and although there may be no important matter now in hand, yet as the man is so willing, and in consideration of past services, his Majesty might conscientiously order him to be paid 1,200 sun-crowns, which will not be very much considering the circumstances and, as the saying is, "there is no wedge so good as that of the same wood." He has begged that whatever may be done for him may come through my hands, and, in his Majesty's own interests, I urgently beg that a decision may be shortly arrived at, as it is most important to keep him satisfied and prevent these people from again returning to the Giraldi agreement. They have received news to-day that the king of Portugal has forbidden stores to be supplied in his country to Fitzmaurice and an Irish bishop. They are much pleased at this, and it confirms the idea that there is some negotiation going on. They say that the man they are sending to Portugal will be accompanied by Sir Harry Cavendish, a son of the countess of Shrewsbury, who was the leader of the English that went over to the Netherlands last year, and of whom a friend of his said to some Englishmen who were discussing his good parts and regretting that they were not utilized, that very shortly he would do something by which they would be displayed. It may therefore be inferred that his journey to Portugal will be to offer troops.
All the Councillors, they tell me, have been sitting since two o'clock this afternoon and it is now nine at night. This is considered strange, and I think that the meeting is about Portuguese affairs. I send this despatch to catch the courier who left yesterday.— London, 4th May 1579.
8 May. 574. Bernardino De Mendoza to Zayas.
On the 5th they took Antonio Guaras before the Treasurer, who told him that, notwithstanding his bad offices and dis-service to the Queen, she, with her accustomed clemency, was pleased to release him in consideration of his brother's solicitations. After they had dwelt upon this they summoned Gombal to whom, in his brother's presence, they said the same. Gombal went to-day to thank the Queen for having released his brother. She received him graciously, and the Treasurer promised to send him a passport to-morrow. I am glad to send you this news, both because you were interested in the matter yourself and for other reasons. I will send particulars later, and only now hurriedly write, in order that you may give his wife the good news.—London, 8th May 1579.
14 May. 575. Bernardino De Mendoza to Zayas.
I sent letters on the 3rd and 4th, and on the 8th instant I wrote giving you an account of what had passed between the Lord-Treasurer and Antonio de Guaras. They promised him a passport in two days, and he has had it since the 11th, authorising him to embark at Dover ; but as he has not been able to fulfil the promise of paying his debts, and wishes to sell his house, he has not yet taken advantage of it. I am very anxious that he shall lose no time in enjoying the favour the Queen has granted him, to save his wife from the trouble in which she is until she sees him. His creditors have lost no opportunity of pressing him until he pays to the last farthing, thanks to all this talk about his brother's wealth. It is true the coming of Gombal may have delayed the business, but this may well be pardoned him, and his brother has much to thank him for, because, besides all the trouble he has taken, he is finding money to pay part of his debts and making himself responsible for the rest, which all brothers would not do.
The spectacles for his Majesty are finished, but are not sent with this despatch because the man who carries it as far as Paris made it a condition that the packet should be small. They will go with the next.
His Majesty's decision about these ministers will be most important, and I personally beg you particularly to press forward the granting of the Comptroller's share as he very faithfully serves and helps me all he can. He is in such need that he has sent to tell me decidedly, that if his Majesty will not help him it will not be possible for him to remain at Court, he being at the end of his resources. You may be assured that this is really the case and not mere vapouring. If he goes we shall lose much, and I shall not be able to get the information that I now do, which is of great importance.
These folks have been considering whether they should send their ambassador to Portugal by sea or through Spain, and have decided to send him at once to sea. I am told that he takes orders to address himself to, and stay for some time with, Don Antonio, the Grand Prior, (fn. 4) for whom he is taking some things as presents.
To-morrow, God willing, I hope to see the Queen and hand her the letter about the seizures. I will give an account to his Majesty of her answer. An Englishman has told me that he knows where there are certain things concealed in Spain, to the value of nearly 3,000 crowns, and he will discover them if a share is given to him. He has not told me where the treasure is, but that it is money which can be made at once available. I have thought well to write this as I am assured it is true, and if you think fit you might ask his Majesty to grant it as a first instalment of the grant in aid towards recovering the rest.—London, 14th May 1579.
576. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
I wrote on the 3rd that the Queen had ordered the members of the Council to give her their individual opinions about the marriage with Alençon, which papers she read whilst she was staying in Leicester's house at Wanstead. When she returned hither, notwithstanding that she had referred the business to Sussex, Leicester, Burleigh, and Walsingham, she ordered the whole Council to discuss it. They did so two or three times, remaining in session from two in the afternoon to two at night. The new councillor as first speaker, pointed out how bad this talk of marriage was both for the Queen and the nation, since no succession could be hoped from it, and great confusion might be caused by the coming hither of Catholics, and above all Frenchmen, who were their ancient enemies. He pointed out many other great objections, and the rest of them all agreed with him except Sussex, who said that it was fitting the Queen should marry, and as there was no other Prince but Alençon, she was obliged to marry him. After the Queen had been informed of the resolution of the Council, they summoned Simier to it and set forth how exorbitant were Alençon's new conditions : first, that he should be crowned King, that he should have the duchies of York and Lancaster, and the patronage of half the offices in the country ; that he should receive 60,000 pounds (livres?) for his travelling expenses and the delivery of a port into the hands of the French ; that 3,000 French foot soldiers should be admitted to guard this port and for his own safety. Such things have never been proposed by any Prince who had treated for marriage with the Queen.
Simier was much annoyed, and answered that they had not spoken in this way before. He then rose very hurriedly and angrily, and although Sussex endeavoured to approach him he was not quick enough to do so before Simier reached the door, which he slammed after him in a great fury. He went to the Queen who received him with much graciousness and many expressions of sorrow that her councillors disapproved of her marriage, which she desired so much. She not only expressed this to Simier, but she has been so melancholy since, that they have adopted the course of sending for some ladies of whom she is fond to entertain her, giving them lodgings at Court, which is looked upon as a new thing. She twice said when she was retired in her chamber "they need not think that it is going to end in this way ; I must get married." Simier and the French ambassador immediately sent off Alençon's secretary, who was here, with the answer they had received. Two day after he had left by way of Calais, M. de Rochetaillé arrived viâ Boulogne, and his arrival has once more set the matter afoot, although coldly. Alençon sent to Leicester by Rochetaillé two Spanish horses, and gave orders to Simier that he was to use every possible means to attract and satisfy the lords and gentry of the kingdom, for which purpose, he assured him, money should be forthcoming. Simier has begun to do this already and has given two grand banquets this week to the Council.
The Queen has received news from Scotland of the death of the earl of Athol, which happened so suddenly that they think it must be from poison. They had opened the body in the presence of five doctors, three of whom said he had been poisoned and two that he had not. One of the latter, to assure them that he was right by proof, took some of the contents of the stomach on his finger and put it into his mouth. The effect was that in a few hours he was thought to be dying. It is not known whether the order to poison him came from Morton or some private person.
The King is trying to seize the estate of the Hamiltons, who are the next heirs to the Crown, on the pretext that the present head of the house is an idiot and incapable. Many persons of importance were disturbed at this and it was feared that they would have recourse to arms.—London, 14th May 1579.
26 May. 577. Bernardino de Mendoza to Zayas.
Antonio de Guaras left of the 26th to embark at Rye which is thought to be a safer passage than through Calais. I am told that he is in very good health, considering his long imprisonment and his age, and it is no small favour which God vouchsafes him that this should be so. He also has to thank you for having interested his Majesty on his behalf, and I need not beg you to extend your help to him, as you know with what zeal he has served here. His brother has not only helped him by his personal efforts but has found large sums of money for him.
The Queen, when I saw her, said not a word about the matter nor has any of her ministers done so, and, as those who released Guaras assured his brother that the Queen had liberated him entirely on his account, I have not thought fit to thank them as they would not give him up to his Majesty. This seems a just retribution, because there was nothing Guaras desired so much as to be considered a minister here, which, indeed, was the reason they sent him to the Tower. I am delighted to see him gone as the business has been full of annoyances to me, and after I had settled it two or three times it was upset.
Seven out of the eight ships loaded with alum, which I said were to sail from Genoa, have arrived here. The English sailors say they touched at Alicante where the Mayor sent to summon the masters and gunners, saying that he had to speak to them on a subject which would not endanger their persons or ships. They and some of the sailors went ashore, when a Spaniard came to them and told them to fly or, otherwise, they would be arrested by the Inquisition and their ships confiscated. They thereupon fled, leaving twenty-five men on shore, who were arrested. They were afterwards informed that the Mayor only wished to seize the alum, and when they arrived here they refused to deliver their cargoes to Horatio, until he had given security that the men who had been arrested should be released and recompensed for the damage they had received, it being a matter which concerned the merchandise only and not their persons or vessels. He (Horatio Pallavicini) has caused the Queen to speak to me about the release of these men, and some of the ministers have warmly pressed me to beg his Majesty to liberate them. I replied that I had no knowledge of the cause of their imprisonment, but if it was, as the men themselves say, through their own disobedience in flying from the port without giving the account which was demanded of them, they deserved punishment. The alum, which has arrived for Horatio, consists of 14,000 jars, worth 60,000 crowns, and I believe that he has ordered two of the ships to go to the Netherlands, but the weather has prevented them. It may well be supposed, that when they are there, if the rebels want to make use of them, he will do as he has done before. When they were being loaded in Genoa, the Ambassador sent to his (Pallavicini's) father to ask whether the alum was for the Netherlands, to which he replied, that it was not, and consequently the ships were allowed to leave. As soon as the ships go I think of informing Don Pedro de Mendoza (fn. 5) in order that he may see how this father (of Horatio Pallavicini) has behaved, and, if you think fit, you might inform his Majesty of it and tell him that the man who favours Pallavicini's business there (in Madrid?) is Lorenzo Spinola.
I have also heard that a packet of letters was seized in Paris, addressed to Horatio, amongst which was one, I had written thither and other private letters. As a person had been asking for letters of mine, probably for the purpose of sending them to Horatio, a friend of mine cunningly got hold of the packet. He is another Genoese, called Pedro Spinola, and I have written to him to investigate the matter thoroughly, as, coming after other events, it is not fitting that we should overlook the fact of a private person hunting about for another man's letters, and above all those of a minister.
M. de Simier received news of the landing of his master's secretary, in poor health, and at once set out to meet him, but the Queen sent word that he was not to go. When he received the papers brought by the secretary, he sent one of his relatives to stay with the latter at Canterbury, but thieves attacked him on the way and ill-treated and wounded him ; upon which Simier addressed very strong complaints to the Queen.
Certain English and French pirates intend, I am told, to go out and await the Indian fleet in latitude 40° near to the Isle of Corbo by which they come.
The man who is to go to Portugal, has lived for three or four years in Naples amongst the Spanish residents. He sends to tell me secretly by Segasti, my secretary, with whom he has had some long conversations, that he is leaving in four days and is delighted to have received orders to pass through Madrid. He says that, after his own mistress's interests, there are none to which he is so much attached as those of his Majesty. I expect that this means, that if the wind does not favour him, he will land on the coast of Biscay or Galicia, and would like to learn what is passing in Spain before he goes to Portugal. This is in accordance with his conversations with me, as he has thrown out many feelers upon the subject. If he should go, pray have him well received. With regard to his religion there is some idea that he is a Catholic, as although he is completely attached to Walsingham, he makes no profession of being a Protestant. For this reason, and because I think it well that his Majesty should know what is passing in Scotland, where great disturbances are feared, I write to Juan de Vargas that, if no opportunity offers in three days, he had better send this despatch by special messenger to Domingo de Iralta, who will forward in the same way.
The councillors send word that they will appoint commissioners about the seizures. As soon as they have done so I will act in the matter.—London, 26th May 1579.


1 Probably Don Antonio de Toledo, brother of the duke of Alba.
2 This doubtless referred to the suspicions and rumours which were rife at Namur at the time that Sussex's brother, Egremont Ratcliff, had had a hand in poisoning Don John of Austria. There is an original letter in the British Museum (Add. MSS. 28,702) from Sir Francis Englefield in Madrid to Philip enclosing the translation of a long letter he had received from an Englishman resident at Namur, named Gabriel Denys, the date of the letter being the 16th August. Amongst other things Denys says that an envoy is about to be sent from England to Spain, he fears with object of trying to poison the King, and, to justifiy his suspicion of English methods, he points out that Don John was never well from the time Egremont Ratcliff had access to him, and strongly hints that he poisoned him.
3 Mendoza's secretary.
4 This was Don Antonio, the Prior of Crato, who became one of Philip's rivals for the Portuguese succession on the death of the Cardinal-King Henry. His claims were supported for many years by France and England, and the disastrous English naval expedition to Lisbon in 1589 was undertaken ostensibly in his interests.
5 The Spanish ambassador to the Seigniory of Genoa.