327. Bernardino de Mendoza to the King.
As I said on the 28th ultimo, the Queen has again sent Somers
to the Netherlands (he is the man who was with Alençon at the
relief of Cambrai) with the object of his treating secretly both
with him and the rebels, without either party knowing that he is
dealing with the other, to persuade each of them, if they wish to
settle the matter on favourable terms, to send envoys here to beg
the Queen's intercession, and place the decision in her hands. The
Councillors think that this will be the best way to consolidate her
position in the affair and to pledge Alençon not to make terms
with your Majesty. It will also give them time to learn from the
king of France how far, and to what extent, in men and money, he
intends to help his brother in the war, and the Queen has sent
instructions to Cobham in furious haste to learn clearly the King's
intentions on this point. No reply has been received from Somers,
and, as the weather is contrary, he probably has not gone across yet.
I enclose copy of the terms negotiated between the States and
Alençon, which have been printed at Ghent, but as will be seen by
the enclosed letters from Antwerp, nothing has yet been concluded.
The meeting of nobles in Scotland decided that they should all
endeavour to live together in peace and quietness. The Queen is
informed that Father William Holt of the Company of Jesus, who
was there, has been arrested by means of Colonel Stuart, and
Alexander Seton, brother of Lord Seton had also been taken.
Two cipher letters were found on Holt, written by the duke
of Lennox, one to the Earl of Eglinton (?) and the other to
the said Alexander Seton, by which it appeared that he was
in communication with the Pope. The moment the Queen
learnt of this she sent courier after courier, entreating the conspirators
to sent Holt hither, and they write that the French
ambassador Méneville was pressing the King to surrender the
priest to him, as he was an Englishman, in order to send him to
France. I have given notice to the queen of Scotland's ambassador
through Juan Bautista de Tassis, so that he may press the King
earnestly to write to the king of Scotland and Méneville about it.
I have also changed the cipher I had with Dr. Allen and the priest
who went from Scotland, (fn. 1) which was the same cipher as Holt had,
to avoid danger in case he (Holt) had not burnt his copy. If God
should decree that he be brought hither, it may be concluded from
his good life that he will meet death as firmly as the others have
done, and gain the crown of martyrdom without confessing anything
to the prejudice of others.
I am informed that His Holiness is being much urged from
France to appoint the bishop of Glasgow a Cardinal.
Some of the Councillors here have affirmed that the Queen has
intelligence of Méneville's having ratified the treaties between
France and Scotland, the king of Scots having accepted a regular
pension. I cannot confirm this, my communications with Scotland
being stopped by Holt's arrest.—London, 4th April 1583.
328. Bernardino de Mendoza to the King.
In my last I gave an account of the state of the negotiations between
Alençon and the rebels. He has now come to terms with them, and
the articles which I now enclose were published in Antwerp with
great ceremony, by which a new arrangement was inaugurated.
The Queen has made every effort to direct the affair into the channel
which suited her best, whilst keeping Alençon always dependent
upon her and inflaming the war in the Netherlands. She has
rejoiced exceedingly that Alençon has accepted the conditions and
gone to Dunkirk, and she sent word to the French ambassador the
moment she heard the news. She is anxiously awaiting the return
of the private agents she sent over, and particularly Somers, so
that by the light of his information she may know how best to
proceed. Her ambassador Cobham writes that the health of the
king of France is very doubtful, as his strength continues to
diminish, and his mother will therefore do her best to please
Alençon in all things. She will shortly leave for Calais, in order
to close more strictly still the passage of victuals to the Netherlands,
and to be able to confer with Alençon with greater ease.
Appearances still favour the undertaking of some enterprise by the
house of Guise.
Cobham also writes that Simier had seen the king of France,
and had been so well received that there was no doubt that he
would be sent hither as ambassador to replace the present man.
Marchaumont writes from Dunkirk that his master's affairs were
proceeding very well, and that the Councillors of this Queen would
soon repent of having slighted him. Leicester and Walsingham
have suggested to the Queen that she should ask the rebels to pay
her interest on the money she has lent them. She has refused to
do so on her own account, but has authorised them to arrange
with the rebels to pay 8 per cent, per annum, and if they can
obtain it they, Leicester and Walsingham, are to enjoy the revenue.
They are sending a Lucchese heretic, an exchange-broker of
Antwerp, to negotiate it.
The Portuguese, Dr. Lopez, (fn. 2) who I said had gone to Dieppe, has
returned hither bringing news of the misery in which Don Antonio
is. I understand that Diego Botello embarked there two days
since for Flanders, and that five ships are being armed at Havre de
Grace to take troops to Terceira ; the principal provisions they
carry being wine and cider, as there is a great lack of drink in the
island. Men who were on board these ships a week ago assure me
that, although they profess to be ready, even if the troops were on
board, they could not sail until the end of this month. Don
Antonio declared that he expected seven hulks which were to come
for him from Denmark and Holland. I have no news from Zeeland
of any ships being fitted out for him, the only rumour being that
certain pirates are asking him for letters of marque.—London,
15th April 1583.
329. Bernardino de Mendoza to the King.
Since writing the enclosed letter I hear from Scotland that two
gentlemen had formed the plan of releasing the King from the
hands of the conspirators, and, in order that he might not be
exposed to any danger by being ignorant of the intention, they
informed him thereof by means of one of his favourites, who was
in the secret. When the King heard of it he feared that it might
cause increased personal risk to himself, and told Colonel Stuart,
the captain of his guard, to increase the strength of the guard in
the place where the attempt was to be made, but without divulging
who were the persons involved. The conspirators were more
annoyed than pleased at this, in the belief that the King's action is
all artifice, and with a different aim to that which suits them.
The meeting of nobles had been prorogued, after many complaints
had been made of the proceedings of the new government.
These complaints had been listened to by the King, who had
proceeded impartially between the two parties. The French
ambassador had again urged the renewal of the treaties between
France and Scotland by common accord, and also that the King
should be set at liberty and allowed to govern in his own way. As
regards the first point, the King replied for the third time as
before ; and they write that, on the second point, although most of
the nobles wished the King to be set at liberty, they did not dare
to declare themselves openly, out of fear of the guards and armed
men, at the disposal of the conspirators. When the ambassador
saw this, he replied that the men-at-arms and new guards surrounding
the King should be dismissed, whereupon the conspirators
said that they were necessary for the King's safety in the altered
and disturbed state of the times. In order to prevent the
ambassador from following the matter up, the conspirators immediately
afterwards incited the populace to assault his house and kill
his priest, on the ground that mass was said there. The ambassador
then went and complained to the King, who promised that the
disorder should be put down ; but he dissembled, and nothing was
The earl of Gowrie, finding himself the object of much intrigue
in consequence of his having appointed himself treasurer, offered
his resignation of the office to the King, in the expectation that
the King would confirm him in the post and that he would thus be
free from attack. The King, however, accepted his resignation and
kept the office in his own hands.
I hear, also, that this Queen's ambassadors (in Scotland) write
that Father Holt had been tortured, but that he had not confessed
anything prejudicial to others.
Fernihurst, a confidant of the duke of Lennox, had been arrested,
and Colonel Stuart was shortly coming hither with an embassy
from the King. The ambassadors say that his principal mission is
to thank this Queen for her maternal care for the King's safety
and the quietude of the realm, and to say that the King and his
subjects desired to conclude a binding accord and friendship with
her, and would willingly accept the conditions which she considered
would be most conducive to a lasting harmony.
He is to represent that the whole country is urging the King to
marry, and in this, as in all things, he desires to have the advantage
of her opinion, begging her to intimate where she thinks he should
look, in order that he may not forfeit her friendship, which he
hopes to enjoy for ever. He also asks her to surrender to him the
person of his vassal, Archibald Douglas, whom she is detaining,
and to restore to him (the King) the lands possessed in England by
his late father. This point has been discussed for years past, the
sum claimed being 1,200l. a year charged on lands belonging to his
father, which the king of Scotland demands in accordance with
English law. The Queen replies to this that, when it is established
that she is his guardian (a law of Parliament making her guardian
of all minors in her realm), she will deliver the property to him.
The earl of Ormond has written telling the Queen that he has
arrived in his territory in Ireland, and had taken away from the
earl of Desmond 300 men who were his (Ormond's) vassals, and a
great quantity of cattle. Desmond in view of these losses had
been forced to ask for terms, and the news was at once made the
most of here. The very reverse is the truth, however, because
although some of Ormond's vassals who had followed Desmond in
their lord's absence, have now left him, Desmond has done more
harm to the English than they to him, he having slaughtered a
whole company of them, only twenty men of which were saved.
The Queen has secretly sent a servant of James Crofts', the
controller, to sound Desmond, as if of his own accord, as to
whether he is willing to submit. Two martyrs have recently
suffered death here, with invincible constancy, and I send enclosed
a statement of the event. The lists of Catholics imprisoned in the
country which have been furnished to the Queen compute the
numbers to be nearly 11,000, two-thirds of whom are women.
Many converts are gained daily to the Roman church, and priests
assure me that this is evidently the result of this shedding of
martyr's blood, together with the good example and virtuous life
of the priests who go about the work, who, although they are
young men, are granted special grace by God for their task. May
He be praised for all things.—London, 15th April 1583.
330. Juan Bautista de Tassis to the King.
Three or four days since Hercules sent to tell me that he had
communicated with the duke of Lennox, who had informed him
that he had left the castle of Dumbarton, which, they say, is a very
important one, held in his interest, but on condition that within
three months the captain of it should be furnished with certain
supplies he required, without which he might be obliged to go over
to the other side, which would be a great drawback to the projects
they have in hand. He (Guise) therefore considered it necessary
that the castle should be supplied with all speed, and asked me to
give him 5,000 crowns for the purpose. I made no difficulty about
this, but instantly promised to provide the amount, in the first
place because I thought it really important to maintain the footing
at Dumbarton, and secondly in order to prove to him, in effect, that
the whole affair is left to him, and so to bind him the more. Last
night, accordingly, I handed to one of Lennox's men, who had been
indicated by Hercules, 5,000 sun-crowns. He is going to ask the
nuncio for a similar amount, but has not done so yet, as the nuncio
has been ill in bed. I went and saw him before I paid the money,
in order to show that I did not wish to take any steps without his
knowledge. He (the nuncio) told me that he intended to follow
the same course, and provide the sum they requested, with the same
alacrity as I had shown. I beg your Majesty do not forget the
horses for Hercules. I have promised him they shall be sent, and
he is expecting them anxiously.—Paris, 19th April 1583.
331. Bernardino de Mendoza to the King.
Since I wrote on the 15th a gentleman named Bex has arrived
from Dunkirk with letters from the duke of Alençon to the Queen,
the purport of which is to ask her for the 25,000l., balance of the
sum she promised. He also complains of Colonel Norris, who, not
contented with the injury he had already done him, had now
refused to obey the States and surrender the territory he held in
the Vast country, unless he were paid 200,000 ducats. He will not
on any account serve Alençon and would rather go to Cologne. The
Queen has replied to Alençon's first request by saying that her own
need will not allow of her giving him any money ; and, with
regard to the second, she promises to write ordering Norris to
prefer the service of the duke of Alençon to any other. No doubt,
however, secretly they will send him orders, as they so often have
done before, as to how he is to reply, and that the talk about going
to Cologne really came from the Queen.
Alençon also writes that he may assure her that the troops being
raised by Casimir, ostensibly to aid the apostate bishop of Cologne,
are really for the purpose of going to Friesland, and, on the pretext
of recovering the money owing to him by the States, seizing the
province and selling it to your Majesty. During the audience with
Alençon's gentleman, Bex, the Queen complained of certain words
used by the Queen-mother, not only injurious to her (Elizabeth),
but also to Alençon, who ought to resent them. Speaking of the
Antwerp affair the Queen-mother had said that neither she nor her
son, the King, understood anything about the matter, as Alençon
had embarked in it, compelled by the queen of England, who had
sent him to the Netherlands for her own pleasure. The Queen
exerted all her blandishments on Alençon's gentleman to discover
whether his master was carrying on any negotiations with the
prince of Parma, but the man swore emphatically that such a
thing had never entered his head. Bex assures intimate friends of
his that if the Queen-mother had pressed Alençon very earnestly to
continue the war, he would not have been reconciled (with the
States). When the Commissioners from the rebels had arrived at
Dunkirk he would have complained of the way in which he had
been treated, and have demanded the payment of the money
already disbursed, with a clear assurance for the payment of future
amounts, as well as the possession of places from whence the war
could be carried on. He says that, to judge from the behaviour of
the rebels and Alençon's resentment against them, he thought it
would be difficult for both parties to come to a stable settlement.
For the last two days the rumour is current here that the
Holland and Zeeland people have given to Orange the title of
Count of those two provinces, and lord of Utrecht.
The queen of Scotland has written to this Queen, complaining
of the way in which she is treated. She says she is no longer a
prisoner only, but a slave, and requests permission to send her
secretary to the Queen, with proposals for an agreement which will
be safe, honourable, and salutary for her realm and for both
Queens. This Queen has replied in general terms, to the effect that
she is very sorry for her troubles, and, with the object of alleviating
them, she was sending Beal to see her, to whom she might give an
account of the other matters she spoke of. On his return the
Queen would consider the question of her release.
The king of Denmark has sent a gentleman hither, to signify to
the merchants belonging to the Muscovy Company that, if they
intend to continue their trade, they must pay him his dues as
formerly, or he will compel them to do so. The Council has
discussed the matter, and has recommended the merchants to send
a person to Denmark to offer the King the payment of a part of
the dues, if they are allowed to continue the trade, and no doubt
the Dane will accept the offer. This Queen has sent to Cologne, to
stir up affairs there, one Herll, a great spy, who was formerly in
Antwerp. I have advised the prince of Parma. They say here he
is going to Mayence.
The Palatine Lasqui, of Poland, is expected here, but the reason
of his coming is not known. (fn. 3) —London, 22nd April 1583.