290. Duke Of Parma to the King.
With regard to the going of Colonel Semple to Scotland, I have
to say that in accordance with the arrangement made by Don
Bernardino de Mendoza, the earl of Morton, and Semple, the two
latter left Paris, and whilst Morton remained at St. Omer, Semple
came hither to consult me with regard to the decision they had
adopted. The substance of it was, that they were to go to
Scotland by way of Dunkirk, as I have already informed your
Majesty, and that on their arrival they would endeavour to take up
arms in defence of the Catholic party. If they could seize some
port whither aid could be sent to them they were to do so, and at
the proper time (and not before) they were to march upon the
English border, for the purpose of making a diversion. With
these objects they were to use the 10,000 crowns taken by Bruce
last year for the ships, and the 3,000 sent to them at the same time
for masts, rigging, &c. It was left to them and other Catholics
whether they should or should not approach the King (of Scotland)
in my name. When Semple had conveyed his message to me, he
left to join the earl of Morton, and take ship at night from
Dunkirk. Our Lord blessed them with such fair weather that they
landed in the north of Scotland within four days from their
departure. They went ashore in a fishing boat which they met,
sending back to Dunkirk the ship in which they had come without
its having been seen from the land. This ship made her return
voyage as quickly, without meeting with any impediment, from
which it may be concluded that his Divine Majesty deigns to bless
our cause also by this means. The Scotch Catholics have promised
to keep us well informed, and I have no doubt they will do so, as
they have no other support or protection than your Majesty. As
they seem to be acting so well, it is only right that they should be
held in account, and aided with money, &c., in order that they may
not be lost.—Bruges, 13th May 1588.
291. Duke Of Parma to the King.
I deal in another letter with the peace negotiations, and I have
only in this to reply to the remarks on the subject contained in
your Majesty's despatches of 7th and 17th ultimo. The power
written in French, which your Majesty was good enough to send
me, shall only be used strictly under the circumstances and in the
way stated by your Majesty ; the object of the power being to keep
the negotiations on foot as long as possible, and not for the purpose
of being used for concluding any arrangement. As they (the
English Commissioners) have, so far, been satisfied with the
authority I have given to our Commissioners on your Majesty's
behalf, the new power may perhaps not have to be presented or
published. It was, however, advisable to send it, in order to avoid
the breaking off of the negotiations for want of it, and the
annoyance which would be occasioned to your subjects here, who
so earnestly desire peace, if the negotiations were to fall through
from any fault on our side. I will do my best to keep the conferences
going, both whilst things remain as they are, and, if
possible, after hostilities are impending, as your Majesty orders ;
although I am not very confident of being able to do it, as the
Commissioners are sure to take fright and suspend the negotiations.
If they get news of the certain coming of the Armada whilst they
are at Ostend—where they still remain—I expect they will try to
cross over to England as soon as they can. We will do our best in
any case ; and if they are in one of your Majesty's towns and
refuse to stay here, but consent to continue the negotiations in
England itself, they shall be conveyed across politely, and everything
guided in the way your Majesty orders. Your Majesty shall
be kept fully informed of what is done, although I fervently trust
that the mercy of God, the justice of the cause, and your Majesty's
holy object, may render it unnecessary for us to discuss the question
of peace much longer.—Bruges, 13th May 1588.
|292. Duke Of Parma to the King.
I am informed by your Majesty's letters that your Armada, uuder
the duke of Medina Sidonia, was quite ready to sail, and am
rejoiced to hear that it is coming so well provided with men, and
everything else necessary. I assure myself that this must be the
case, as nothing less could be expected from your Majesty's great
experience and prudence, knowing, as your Majesty does, how very
much depends upon this point. I am anxiously looking from hour
to hour for news of the Duke, as I do not think he can fail to send
soon, to assure me that I shall be duly supported. There shall not,
on my part, be the least shortcoming in the interests of your
Majesty's service and the carrying out of the enterprise. In view
of circumstances here, and my own experience of affairs on this side,
I will state, with my usual frankness, what occurs to me, so that,
between the Duke and myself, we may take such steps as may result
in the success of the cause of God and your Majesty. (fn. 1) When my
passage across is assured, according to the plan laid down, I will do
my share by leading over the troops. When we have gained a
footing on shore, I trust in Almighty God that my management of
affairs may be such as to gain for me our Majesty's approval, and
that you may recognise by my acts that my zeal and willingness are
such as ensure that there shall be no shortcoming on my part. In
the fulfilment of my duty, and in return for the confidence your
Majesty reposes in me, I will still devote my life to your service, as
I have done for long past ; and will employ all the alacrity and
earnestness which can be demanded from the humblest, most faithful,
and loyal servant that your Majesty possesses.
I note that there will be no failing with regard to the 6,000
effective Spaniards which the Duke is to give me, and I am sorry
that, for the reasons your Majesty lays down, he will not be able to
let me have any more. The Spaniards must be our right arm in
this business, and we have very few of them here, although the
veterans of them are the best in the world ; so that in the interest
of the success of the enterprise I wish the number could be increased.
We are short of good pilots and even of seamen. If the passage
were a long one we could not venture upon it. The reason for this
is, not that the few (seamen) we have are not well treated, or that
we have neglected to obtain more, but because the well-disposed
ones are so few, and the Hollanders and Zeelanders are forbidden
under heavy penalties to serve us. I can therefore only send the
Duke those who went with Domingo de Vellota, who are the very
best and most experienced on these coasts. I feel this lack more
than I can say, as I understand how very important it is that the
Duke should be well supplied with pilots. But I trust that God, in
whose cause we are striving, will help and favour us that we may
succeed as we desire.
With regard to the rumour that your Majesty orders to be spread
at the entrance (into England), that our object is the reform of
religion, and that Cardinal Allen is coming with the apostolic
authority to absolve them, and settle matters of religion, I will take
all due care, for the reasons which have been stated on other
occasions. It is evident that the majority of the Catholics in
England are not so entirely mortified as to be free from their
The count de Olivares has sent me from Rome a discourse and
declaration drawn up in English by Allen, with the object referred
to, in order that it may be printed and spread over England at the
time of the invasion. It shall first be translated, so that we may
see whether there is anything to suppress or add to it, and it shall
then be printed in the form of a short proclamation, containing the
principal heads of the discourse, as Allen himself agrees. I have no
doubt that Allen's aid, both in the important religious questions,
and in other political affairs, will be extremely advantageous,
seeing his great influence amongst the Catholics, and his goodness,
efficiency, and learning.
If the duke of Medina Sidonia should encounter and fight the
enemy's fleet in any place where I can help him, either in the way
suggested by your Majesty or any other, I will not neglect the
opportunity of doing my best. In this respect, and in having the
troops collected (which principally depends upon having money
to keep them), as well as in all else your Majesty orders, I will
strive with all my strength, understanding, and heart to carry out
my share of the task.
There is no accommodation for sheltering the troops ; for the
towns where the Spanish infantry and the cavalry are can positively
no longer bear the burden, but I have decided to issue orders for
the whole of them to take the field, with the object mainly of
having them handy for embarkation, choosing the ports that were
most convenient for them—Nieuport, Dunkirk, or Gravelines.
This order will be carried out with all speed, and as time is so
advanced, and affairs in Lisbon in the condition your Majesty
informs me, I hope before the men are mustered to have news from
the Duke that the Armada is approaching, and that, consequently,
I shall have to busy myself rather with embarking the men than
with housing them.—Bruges, 13th May 1588.
293. Extracts from the "General Orders," issued by the Duke
Of Medina Sidonia, to the men of all ranks on the
Armada at Lisbon.
First and foremost, you must all know, from the highest to the
lowest, that the principal reason which has moved his Majesty to
undertake this enterprise is his desire to serve God, and to convert
to His church many peoples and souls who are now oppressed by
the heretical enemies of our holy Catholic faith, and are subjected
to their sects and errors. In order that this aim should be kept
constantly before the eyes of all of us I enjoin you to see that,
before embarking, all ranks be confessed and absolved, with due
contrition for their sins. I trust this will be the case with everybody,
and that by this means and our zeal to serve God effectually,
we may be guided as may seem best to Him in whose cause we
I also enjoin you to take particular care that no soldier, sailor, or
other person in the Armada shall blaspheme, or deny Our Lord, Our
Lady, or the Saints, under very severe punishment to be inflicted at
our discretion. With regard to other less serious oaths, the officers
of the ships will do their best to repress their use, and will punish
offenders by docking their wine rations ; or in some other way at
their discretion. As these disorders usually arise from gambling, you
will endeavour to repress this as much as possible, especially the
prohibited games, and allow no play at night on any account.
In order to avoid the troubles that might otherwise arise to this
Armada, I hereby proclaim a truce for, and take into my own hands,
all quarrels, disputes, insults, and challenges that up to the publication
of these orders may have occurred between any persons,
soldiers or sailors of any rank, or other persons whatever, who may
be in this fleet, such suspension to last during the whole time of our
expedition, and a month afterwards. The order holds good with all
disputes, even those of long standing, and I expressly command that
this truce shall on no account be violated, directly or indirectly,
under pain of death for treason. As it is an evident inconvenience,
as well as an offence to God, that public or other women should be
permitted to accompany such an Armada, I order that none shall be
taken on board. If any attempt be made to embark women, I
authorise the captains and masters of ships to prevent it, and if it
be done surreptitiously the offenders must be severally punished.
Every morning at daybreak the ships' boys shall, as usual, say
their "Good morrow," at the foot of the mainmast, and at sunset
the Ave Maria. Some days, and at least every Saturday, they shall
say the Salve with the Litany.
It is of the greatest importance to the success of the Armada that
there should exist perfect good feeling and friendship between
soldiers and sailors, and that there should be no possibility of
quarrels amongst them, or other cause of scandal. I therefore order
that no man shall carry a dagger, and that on no account shall
offence be given on either side, but that all shall obey their officers.
If any scandal should arise, the originator of it shall be severely
When my galleon the "San Martin," the principal flagship of the
fleet, shall fire a signal gun, this will be the order for sailing, and
everything will then be at once put in order for immediate departure ;
so that when the bugle sounds, all the ships may, without
delay or confusion, be able to take their places. When I hoist my
sails to leave, the rest of the ships will do the same, taking great care
to avoid shallows and snags, and carrying the longboats and skiffs
ready in case of need. When the ships are out at sea, each one will
come to leeward of the flagship to salute and ask for orders ; and if
it be in the evening to ask for the watchword. They will endeavour
to avoid preceding the flagship, either by night or day, and will be
very careful to keep a good look-out.
The ships will come to the flagship every evening to learn the
watchword and receive orders ; but as it may be difficult for so
many large ships to do this daily without fouling each other, the
generals and chiefs of squadrons will be careful to obtain the watchword
in good time, so that they may communicate it to the other
ships of their respective squadrons. The flagship must be saluted by
bugles if there are any on board, or by fifes, and two cheers from
the crews. When the response has been given the salute must be
repeated. If the hour be late, the watchword must be requested,
and when it has been obtained another salute must be given, and
the ship will then make way for others.
In case the weather should make it impossible to obtain the
watchword on any days, the following words must be employed :—
Monday, Holy Ghost.
Tuesday, Most Holy Trinity.
Thursday, The Angels.
Friday, All Saints.
Saturday, Our Lady.
It is of great importance that the Armada should be kept well
together, and the generals and chiefs of squadrons must endeavour
to sail in as close order as possible. The ships and pataches under
Don Antonio Hurtado de Mendoza will keep next to my flagship,
except six of them, two of which will follow Don Pedro de Valdez's
flagship, two that of Martin de Bertondona, and the remaining two
that of Juan Gomez de Medina. These six must be told off at once
in order to avoid confusion. Great care and vigilance must be
exercised to keep the squadron of hulks always in the midst of the
fleet. The order about not preceding the flagship must be strictly
obeyed, especially at night.
No ship belonging to, or accompanying the Armada, shall separate
from it without my permission. If any should be forced out of the
course by tempest, before arriving off Cape Finisterre, they will
make direct for that point, where they will find orders from me ;
but if no such orders be awaitiDg them, they will then make for
Corunna, where they will receive orders. Any infraction of this
order shall be punished by death and forfeiture.
On leaving Cape Finisterre the course will be to the Scilly Isles,
and ships must try to sight the islands from the south, taking great
care to look to their soundings. If on the voyage any ships should
get separated, they are not to return to Spain on any account, the
punishment for disobedience being forfeiture and death with
disgrace ; but are to continue on the course, and endeavour to
sight the Scillys from the south. If on their arrival there the
Armada be behind them, they will cruise off the place, keeping up
to windward, until the Armada appears, or they have satisfied
themselves that it has passed them, in which case they will make
for Mount's Bay, Saint Michael's, between Cape Longnose (Land's
End) and the Lizard, where instructions will await them if the
Armada be not there.
Great care must be exercised in watching the flagship at night,
to see whether she alters her course. If she puts about she will
first fire a gun, and when she is on her new tack she will show a
fresh light on her poop, apart from her lantern. The other ships
must acknowledge this by showing an extra light. When the
flagship shortens sail she will show two lights, one at the poop, and
the other half way up the rigging.
When for any reason she may take in or shorten all her sails,
she will show three lights—one astern, one in the rigging, and the
other at the maintop. She will also fire a gun for the other ships
to do the same. They will answer by numerous lights astern.
If any misfortune should befall any ship at night, which may
cause her to take in all her sails, she will fire a great gun, and burn
a beacon signal all night, and the other vessels near her will burn
many lights, so that she may be seen. They will stand by till
daylight, and, if the need be great, will fire another gun.
Men of quick sight will be always stationed at the masthead on
the look-out, particularly at sunrise and sunset, and they must
count the sails of the Armada. In the event of their discovering
any in excess, the main topsail will be twice dipped and a gun
fired, when the ships near will give chase and overhaul the intruders,
so that they may not escape. Any captain whose negligence allows
such a ship to get away will be punished. If, however, the flagship
gives the signal by gunfire for the ships to rejoin, they will do so,
even though they are on the point of capturing the intruder.
When any number of sails up to four be sighted by a ship, she
will take in her maintopsail, hoist a flag over her maintopsail yard,
and fire a gun ; but if she discovers a greater number of sails than
four she will hoist a flag to her mainmast head, take in her maintopsail,
and fire two guns in succession, trying to give notice to the
flagship. When the latter perceives the signals the ship will resume
When a ship sights land ahead, she will signal by taking in both
of her topsails at the same time. If land ahead be sighted by a
ship at night, she will fire a gun and put her bows to seaward,
burning two lights at her poop. Those who perceive the signals
will also put about on the same tack, showing two lights astern.
When the flagship has anything to communicate, she will hoist a
flag at the poop, near the lantern, and the other ships will then
approach to learn what she has to say.
If (which God forbid) any ship should catch fire, those near her
will give her a wide berth, but will send their longboats and skiffs
alongside to help her, the rest of the ships doing the same.
Great care must be taken to extinguish the galley fire before
The soldiers must allow the rations to be distributed by those
appointed for the duty, and must not themselves go down and take
or choose them by force, as they have sometimes done.
The sergeant or some other company officer must be present at
the distribution to prevent disorder. The rations must be served
out early, so that supper shall be finished before nightfall.
Let no ship under my command dare to enter port or cast anchor
until the flagship has first done so, unless by my written order, on
pain of exemplary punishment.
The military officers must see that the soldiers' arms are kept
clean, ready for service ; and, in any case, must cause them to be
cleaned twice a week. They must also exercise their men in the
use of their arms, so that they may be expert when needed.
During the voyage orders will be given with regard to the duty
of each man in an engagement, but I order that great care be taken
that the bombardiers have ready the usual buckets and tubs full of
vinegar and water, and all the customary preparations of old sails,
and wet blankets, to protect the ships against fire thrown upon
The same care must also be exercised that there are plenty of
balls made ready, with the necessary powder and fire match ; and
that the soldiers are supplied by the magazine keeper with the
proper weight of ammunition as ordered for each ship.
I also order that the soldiers' quarters be kept clear of boxes and
other things, and that truckle beds are not to be allowed in any of
the ships. If any such exist they are to be demolished immediately,
and I order the sailors not to allow them. If the infantry possess
them let the sailors inform me thereof, and I will have them
removed. (fn. 2)
As the mariners have to attend to the working of the ship their
quarters should be the fore and poop castles, out of the way of the
soldiers who might embarrass them. They are to retain these
quarters during all the voyage.
The cannon must be kept in good order, loaded with ball, and
near each piece must be placed its magazine with ammunition.
Let great care be taken with the cartridges of each piece, to avoid
their taking fire, and let the loaders and spongers be near at hand.
Each ship will carry two shallop loads of casting stones, to be
made use of during a fight. They will be divided between the
deck, the poop, and the tops.
Every ship, according to its tonnage and artillery, will carry the half
pipes necessary, to be filled with water on the day of battle, when
they will be distributed between the pieces and the upper works, as
may be advisable. Near them should be kept some old rags or
blankets, to wet and stifle any fire that may break out. The
artificial fire should be entrusted to the most experienced men, to be
used when necessary. If this is not confided beforehand to men
who understand the management of it great damage may result.
By the same rule that no ship is to precede the flagship,
particularly at night, no vessel is to lag behind it. Let each ship
sail according to her speed and burden, as it is very important that
the Armada should keep together. This is urged very particularly
upon captains, masters, and pilots.
A copy of these instructions signed by me, and countersigned by
my secretary, will be sent to each ship of the fleet, and will be
publicly read by the notary on board ; in order that sailors and
soldiers alike may be informed of them, and not plead ignorance.
The said notaries are ordered to read these instructions three times
a week publicly, and to obtain due testimony that they have done
so. Any neglect of this shall be severely punished.
All this must be publicly made known, and inviolably obeyed.
In the interests of his Majesty's service no infraction whatever is
to be allowed of any portion of these orders, or otherwise the
offenders shall be well punished at our discretion. On board
the galleon "San Martin," off Belem, the — 1588.—Duke Of
Note.—There is in the National Library at Madrid (G. 139.201)
a contemporary manuscript, apparently intended to be issued
to the men on the Armada at the same time as the above. It
is a fervid and violent exhortation, reciting in inflammatory
language the whole case against England, and is headed : "An
Address to the Captains and Men on the Armada." Its abuse of
the Queen passes all bounds, and it is asserted that the heretics
in England are few in number, and that the great majority of the
people are Catholics, eagerly awaiting an opportunity of welcoming
the Armada. As an instance of the means employed to maintain
the enthusiasm of the men on the Armada, the concluding
paragraphs of the address are subjoined. It is right to say,
however, that there is on the document itself nothing to show that
it was official :—
"Onward, gentlemen, onward! Onward with joy and gladness,
onward to our glorious, honourable, necessary, profitable, and not
difficult undertaking. Glorious to God, to His church, to His saints
and to our country. Glorious to God, who for the punishment of
England has allowed Himself to be banished from the land, and
the holy sacrifice of the Mass to be abolished. Glorious to His
church, now oppressed and downtrodden by the English heretics.
Glorious to the saints, who have been there persecuted and maltreated,
insulted, and burnt. Glorious for our country, because
God has deigned to make it His instrument for such great ends.
Necessary for the prestige of our King, necessary for the preservation
of the Indies, with the fleets and treasures which come therefrom.
Profitable because, by God's help, the war in Flanders will be
ended, and we shall be saved the drain of blood and substance
which it draws from Spain ; profitable also because of the plunder
and endless riches we shall gather in England, and with which, by
the favour of God, we shall return, gloriously and victoriously, to
our homes. We are going on an undertaking which offers no great
difficulty, because God, in whose sacred cause we go, will lead us.
With such a Captain we need not fear. The saints of Heaven will
go in our company, and particularly the holy patrons of Spain ; and
those of England itself, who are persecuted by the heretics, and cry
aloud to God for vengeance, will come out to meet us and aid us, as
well as those who sacrificed their lives in establishing our holy faith
in the land, and watered it with their blood. There we shall
find awaiting us the aid of the blessed John Fisher, cardinal-bishop
of Rochester, of Thomas More, of John Forrest, and of innumerable
holy Carthusians, Franciscans, and other religious men, whose blood
was cruelly shed by King Henry, and who call to God to avenge them
from the land in which they died. There, too, shall we have the help
of Edmund Campion, of Ralph Sherwin, of Alexander Briant, of
Thomas Cotton, and many other venerable priests and servants
of the Lord, whom Elizabeth has torn to pieces with atrocious
cruelty and exquisite torments. With us, too, will be the blessed
and innocent Mary queen of Scotland, who, still fresh from her
sacrifice, bears copious and abounding witness to the cruelty and
impiety of this Elizabeth, and directs her shafts against her.
There also will await us the groans of countless imprisoned
Catholics, the tears of widows who lost their husbands for the faith,
the sobs of maidens who were forced to sacrifice their lives rather
than destroy their souls, the tender children who, suckled upon the
poison of heresy, are doomed to perdition unless deliverance
reaches them betimes ; and finally myriads of workers, citizens,
knights, nobles, and clergymen, and all ranks of Catholics, who are
oppressed and downtrodden by the heretics, and who are anxiously
looking to us for their liberation.
"With us go faith, justice, and truth, the benediction of the
Pope, who holds the place of God on earth, the sympathies of all
good people, the prayers of all the Catholic Church ; we have them
all on our side. God is stronger than the devil, truth stronger than
error, the Catholic faith stronger than heresy, the saints and angels
of Heaven stronger than all the power of hell, the indomitable
spirit and sturdy arm of the Spaniard stronger than the drooping
hearts and lax and frozen bodies of the English. One thing alone
remains, gentlemen : Let there go with us too a pure and clear
conscience, a heart inspired alone with love and zeal for the glory of
the Most High ; the single thought to fight first for our holy faith,
for our law, our King, and our country. Let us live Christian lives,
without offence towards our God, in brotherhood with our fellow
soldiers, and in obedience to our captains. Courage! steadfastness!
and Spanish bravery! for with these the victory is ours, and we
have nought to fear."
294. Duke Of Medina Sidonia to the King.
(Congratulates him on the birth of a third grandson, a son of the
duchess of Savoy.)
God ordains all things, and He has not seen fit to send us weather
for the sailing of the Armada. It is as boisterous and bad as if it
were December ; but He knows best. Everything is quite ready,
and not an hour shall be wasted. It is two months ago to-day
since I came to this city (Lisbon), and I leave it for others to tell
your Majesty how much has been done. The bringing together of
so great a force without disorder or dispute, but with all quietude
and conformity, is the work of the Lord, through your Majesty's
holy zeal ; and in Him I hope for the continued success of our
In the monastery of San Benito at Loyos there is a holy friar
called Antonio de la Concepcion, with whom I have discoursed
lately in my leisure time. He is certain that our Lord will
vouchsafe a great victory to your Majesty. He told me to write
this to your Majesty, and to beseech you not to undertake this
enterprise out of vengeance for the injuries which the infidels have
done to you, or to extend your dominions, but only for the honour
and glory of God Almighty ; and to reclaim to His church the
heretics who have strayed from it.
The complete statement enclosed of the Armada is precise and
minute. (fn. 3) I again pray your Majesty to favour the business of my
mother-in-law, about whom I am very anxious, and shall remain so
until I hear that your Majesty has favoured my suit. (fn. 4) —On board
the galleon "San Martin," 14th May 1588.
295. Duke Of Medina Sidonia to the King.
The Armada took advantage of a light easterly wind, which blew
for a few hours on the 11th instant, to drop down the river to
Belem and Santa Catalina, where the ships now only await a fair
wind to sail. God send it soon! On the 11th Captain Francisco
Moresin (Morosini) came to me with a letter of credence from the
duke of Parma, dated in Ghent the 22nd March. His message is to
the effect that the Duke sends him to ascertain the present state of the
Armada, and to inform me of the Duke's preparations in Flanders.
He has less troops than I expected, as this man tells me they will
not exceed 17,000 all told, with 1,000 light horse, and 300 small
vessels, but none with oars or top masts. He says he will have
stores and munitions for two months. Moresin wanted to go back
immediately, to inform the Duke how ready this Armada was, but I
have not allowed him to do so in consequence of the injury it would
do if he were caught by corsairs. I will therefore take him with
me, and despatch him from the point I think safest. He was much
surprised to see the strength of the Armada. He did not expect it
would have been so great.—On the galleon "San Martin," 14th May
Note.—On the 21st May the Duke again writes to the King
deploring that the bad weather still detains the Armada at Lisbon.
He recommends that more stores should be collected, in case of need,
although he thinks he has enough for the voyage. The health of
the Armada is good.
296. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
Julio is behaving well. I could not have explained myself well in
my despatches of the 5th, because I had no intention whatever of
asking your Majesty to allow me to pay any money to him, but to
the person who is the intermediary, and brings his information to
me ; 100 ducats will be plenty for him. (fn. 5) Julio has used all his
efforts to retain Don Antonio in England.
I write frequently to the prince of Parma reporting all I learn, in
accordance with your Majesty's instructions, but he replies to me
only at long intervals, often six weeks at a time. I understand that
he is well informed. I learn from Dunkirk that the ship that
carried over the earl of Morton and Colonel Semple returned to
Dunkirk within eight days, its voyage to Scotland only having
occupied three days, and the return voyage five days. I have again
written to Robert Bruce and Semple, telling them to execute
promptly the instructions from your Majesty.
The advices in Portuguese are from Antonio de Vega. Please
instruct me as to his leaving England.—Paris, 15th May.
Note.—Enclosed with the above is a petition from Sampson (the
Portuguese spy in Paris, Antonio de Escobar) asking for a good
grant in aid, and Mendoza recommends that it shall be granted, and
in the margin the King acquiesces, referring to Don Cristobal
(de Mora) to fix the amount.
297. Advices from London.
It is said that the Admiral will join Drake in six days, but as they
French, are calculating upon their having 104 ships, of which the 20 great
ships belonging to the Queen cannot be ready even in a fortnight, it
will be impossible for them to collect the number of ships they say
Forty-four ships are told off to guard the sea between Flanders
and England, of which number four belong to the Queen and will
take 800 men each. Certain of the inhabitants of London have
been appointed captains, but they are so ignorant, not having seen
anything worth speaking about, that they know less about war than
would the private soldiers. All idle and vagabond persons are
compelled to go on board the ships. The Admiral protests that when
once he sets sail he will not be idle and stay in the Straits, but will
go out and seek the Spaniards. They do not fear the army from
Spain so much as that from the Netherlands.
298. Advices from London (Antonio De Vega).
I wrote at length on 16th and 25th ultimo. I am now able to
confirm my former statements as to the fleets and number of ships
here. They were all ordered to collect at Plymouth on the 12th.
but in consequence of contrary winds they were unable to do so, the
16 ships and 4 pataches in the Thames having been prevented from
leaving the river. The intention, as I have said, is for the Admiral
and Drake to unite and sail for the coast of Portugal with 120 (or
at least 100) ships. They are all very well fitted, and it is
maintained warmly here that this fleet is being sent in the interests
of Don Antonio ; the intention being to land him there (i.e., in
Portugal) with 7,000 or 8,000 men, which they say will suffice to
frustrate his Majesty's plans. Don Antonio pretends that Portugal
is in revolt, and that there has been a rising in Lisbon, in which
Count Cifuentes and other nobles were killed. This is ratified (?)
by Escobar and Stafford, who say that if they go with so strong
a force, and the number of men stated, all Portugal will rise, and
that which they fear will be avoided. Those who are pushing this
business are the Admiral and Raleigh. The Queen promised Don
Antonio on the 9th, that if peace were not made he should go in
this fleet, and he was so delighted that he kissed her garments. (fn. 6)
The Treasurer, Leicester, and the Secretary oppose it, not on
principle, but only because they consider the force insufficient, now
that the king of Spain is so well armed both in ships and men. The
Admiral and Raleigh reply to this, that by sending the forces
mentioned in these ships they will kill two birds with one stone.
First, they will meet the Armada with greater hopes of beating it,
as they will be the attackers, and secondly, if they do beat it, they
will land Don Antonio, who will under such circumstances be joined
by the whole country. They have sent for Drake about it, and he
will be here in two days. The ships from Holland are expected
The 6,000 men raised in London meet for drill twice a week.
They are certainly very good troops considering they are recruits,
and are well armed. They are commanded by merchants, as are also
the ships contributed by London and the other ports. The three
sons of Knollys are appointed colonels, but Norris was not allowed
to leave his post on the frontier. The troops are divided into
40 companies of 150 each, and it is said that they have altogether
120,000 men under arms, as musters are being held all over the
country. In London they are drawing 50 men from each parish,
at the cost of the city, to send on board the ships ; 4,000, they say,
being obtained in this way. They give to each man of these a blue
coat, whilst those who remain here receive red ones. Most of the
large ships carry four pieces of artillery in the bows, and the small
vessels two pieces. The same thing could be done in the Portuguese
galleons and ships. The only fear these people have is that they
should be attacked by galleys. Recollect that in addition to the
vast treasure his Majesty has employed, his honour and prestige are
at stake, and these people are very confident of being able to beat
him at sea, their ships being in excellent order. Yesterday the
French ambassador informed the Treasurer and Walsingham, whom
he had to see on other business, that Villeroy said that he had
letters from his agent in Madrid, dated 8th April, saying that the
King was on his road to Lisbon to witness the departure of the
Armada, which was to sail on the 5th instant. They (i.e., the
Treasurer and Walsingham) urged the ambassador at the same time,
with great secresy, to induce the King (of France) to ally himself
with their Queen, and the "religion" (i.e., the Huguenots), against
the king of Spain and the League, in which case the Queen would
bring those of the "religion" to submit to any reasonable terms.
The Ambassador wrote on the subject to the King, sending his
despatch by the bearer of the present letter. I will duly report the
answer that is sent, and whatever else passes, or I can learn in
conversation with the ambassador.
There is only a suspicion here that I have given information, and
I beg therefore that all my letters may be acknowledged when they
are received. I am in great trouble about the imprisonment of
Bernaldo Luis in Spain, as his brothers-in-law and brothers are very
sore about it and say it is my fault. (fn. 7) Yesterday one of them
begged me to write, asking that he should be allowed to come away.
Pray write what you think necessary about it, so that he may come
in any case. Bernaldo Luis only claimed a little money he had lent
me, and another small sum of money he provided to Pedro Sarmiento
de Gamboa. Great promises were made to him about the payment
of these sums, but as he has no one to speak for him I suppose
that is the cause of his trouble.