299. Advices from London (Antonio De Vega).
On Tuesday midnight the French ambassador received news of
the seizure of Paris by Guise. This news is rejoiced at here, as it
ensures them against the king of France agreeing with the League,
which is so much hated in England, and may cause him to join
those of the "religion," Vendome, and the queen of England. At
the time the ambassador received the intelligence the Queen had no
information, as two couriers she had sent on Friday and Sunday
had not returned. On Wednesday she sent Walsingham to the
ambassador to beg him to assure her whether the rumour was true.
The ambassador related what had occurred, and Walsingham then
repeated what I wrote on the 17th, that he and the Treasurer had
said. After much discourse upon the subject, Walsingham returned
to the Queen, who is at Greenwich, and wrote a letter (to the
ambassador) saying that her Majesty would be pleased to see him,
and would await him next morning in the garden. He was obliged
to go, and was with her from ten o'clock until nearly one. She
assured him that if the King would join her and Vendome against
the king of Spain and the League, she would place all her forces by
sea and land in the struggle, and promised him "mountains and
fountains" if he (the King) would join her. I have no doubt she
will do her best to ensure herself against the League, which she fears
She is sending a gentleman to the king of France, and the bearer
of this letter accompanies him. He is a secretary of the ambassador,
who is taking despatches giving an account of the Queen's offer.
As the matter is important it should not be lost sight of, and it
would be well to gain over this (the French) ambassador, which can
easily be done through his brother-in-law, M. de la Châtre, and his
They (the English) have received intelligence from their Commissioners
that the duke of Parma had new and very ample powers
to arrange peace, and that they (the Commissioners) had consented
to go to Bruges without hostages. These people were rather pleased
with the news.
Drake has come hither for the purpose I stated. He is the prime
mover and author of it, and sometimes meets Don Antonio secretly
at night to avoid suspicion. Don Antonio is so set upon sailing in
this fleet that I believe he would do so even if the Queen forbade
him, and I believe that he has arranged this with Drake. When
Drake on a former occasion was going to the Indies, he solemnly
swore to me that he would seek him (Don Antonio) in France, and
take him whithersoever he pleased. He (Antonio?) afterwards
came from Rochelle to Plymouth in consequence of a letter I wrote
to him, but he was afraid to undertake the voyage, as Drake had so
Don Antonio wishes either to go in the fleet, with or without
permission, or else to retire.
The ships here are now about to unite at Plymouth, and the
Admiral leaves to join his fleet to-morrow, with the object of taking
it round to Plymouth. Drake leaves by post to-night, and as soon
as the whole of the ships are collected at Plymouth the fleet will
sail, the Admiral being in command, with Drake as Vice-Admiral.
The destination will be the coasts of Spain and Portugal, and if the
weather serves they will sail from Plymouth in a fortnight. It is
well to report this in time, as they think that by subsequently
sending half their fleet to the islands, the King will be obliged to
send a force of ships thither to protect his flotillas. The Admiral
will, they say, have 120 ships. I have no doubt he will have 100.
The Queen has requested 10 more ships from the city of
300. Advices from London.
The Admiral is now setting out to join Drake with 25 ships,
namely, 20 from London and five of his own. He is said to have
7,000 soldiers and seamen with him. The London people have
refused to serve under the Admiral, and wish to be commanded by
Drake. This has been granted to them, so far as concerns their
own payment, and not otherwise. (fn. 1) So that there is every appearance
that they will not remain long on good terms together. They
(i.e., the London people) were shipped two days ago.
Some soldiers have recently been sent from Ireland by the earl of
Shrewsbury, but I do not know how many.
The news from France is causing general anxiety.
301. Duke of Medina Sidonia to the King.
With regard to your Majesty's orders as to reinforcing the duke
of Parma with men, I will act in accordance with what I can learn
of the strength of the enemy, and the opportunity that may offer
for meeting and defeating him at sea, before any operations are
attempted on land. The opinions of those whom I have consulted
here is that the best course would be to break up the enemy's sea
force first. When this be done, as I hope, by the help of God, it
will be if the enemy will meet me, the rest will be safe and easy,
and I shall then be able to let the Duke have all the men he wants.
If, however, the enemy lets me join him (Parma) and then waits for
me to lend the Duke the men, he (the enemy) may unite his ships
and fall upon me when our forces are separated. I will not run
this risk, as I recognise the advantage of keeping the Armada intact,
at least, until I have beaten the enemy. In this case, and in order
to have our fleet always stronger than that of the enemy, I shall not
be able to give the Duke so many men as your Majesty says. A
certain number must always be discounted from the musters and
statements furnished to your Majesty, as will be seen by the first
muster I take after we are at sea. The last muster taken here
does not satisfy me, as there are always opportunities for evasion
The reports your Majesty sends me from England confirm those
already received. Although their forces appear to be growing
somewhat, I will not slacken but will redouble my care, if possible,
trusting to the mercy of God, that if the enemy will face us he will
meet the fate he always has done when he has encountered your
Majesty's forces. If I find no obstacle in the way, I will not divide
the Armada or seek the enemy, but will push forward to join hands
with the duke of Parma. When your Majesty's forces are united
and we know where the enemy is, we will set about our task in the
best way possible to ensure success on land. I look upon this as
quite easy when we have beaten the enemy at sea. Everybody says
this, and your Majesty is better aware of it than anyone. In case,
as your Majesty says, that Drake with his fleet should fortify
himself at Plymouth, or any other port, in order to let me pass on,
and then come out and attack me at sea, between his fleet and their
other one which they have sent against the Duke, I have taken
every precaution, as will be seen by the formation I have ordered to
be adopted. Either of the two horns of our formation, with their
supports, and two of the galleasses which accompany the first four
ships, would be able to cope with one of the enemy's fleets ; whilst
I with the rest of our vessels leading, could deal with the fleet in
front of us, my centre being supported by the vessels I have
appointed for the purpose, and the other two galleasses which are
attached to my flagship. In this order and formation, with every
precaution and foresight, we will, with the help of God, proceed on
With reference to the enemy's attacking me after the troops have
been landed, I have already told your Majesty what I think should be
the course pursued until I have joined the Duke, and have ascertained
exactly the strength of the enemy at sea, upon which he will mainly
depend. If I can defeat the enemy at sea before landing a single
man, we can then easily agree as to the best thing to be done. We
must also not lose sight of the need for promptness, on account of
the victuals, about which I am anxious, both because of those shipped
being very stale, and because they are spoiling and rotting fast.
The number of men, too, is very large, and the cost great, and
although your Majesty has prudently ordered fresh supplies to be
collected, there is always the risk of delay, etc. ; so that for
every reason we should finish the business promptly. If, as your
Majesty says, we should, after joining the Flanders force, find the
enemy's fleet shut up in some port where it may be attacked and
defeated both by land and sea, we will in union with the Duke
adopt the course which appears best. If the English take the
troops out of their fleet to defend the places attacked by the duke
of Parma (or even if they do not do so), and I am able to fall upon
their ships and beat them in port, I will not fail to do so. Everything
we may do or attempt shall be carefully considered, so as to
attain the success which I trust that God in His mercy will vouchsafe,
and which we may expect from the saintly object with which your
Majesty has undertaken this enterprise.
I understand generally that I am to follow your Majesty's instructions
strictly, so far as circumstances will permit, and I take
special note that, even if the enemy comes into these parts, I am
to proceed on my voyage without regard to anything, until I have
completed my task.
The weather is not good, and a N.N.W. wind is blowing, but I
have sent some ships down the river, and some more went down
to-day with a great deal of trouble. They are at anchor on the bar.
If a land wind blows to-morrow morning I will go down with the
rest of the fleet. Not an hour has been, or shall be, lost.—On the
royal galleon, 28th May 1588.
Note.—Two days afterwards (30th May) the Duke writes to the
King three leagues out at sea, informing him of the sailing of the
Armada, urging his own services in the preparations, and begging
that favour should be shown to his children "whom he has left so
poor." On the 1st of June another letter was written, by the same
to the same, complaining of the slowness of the hulks, and giving an
account of the navigation up to that time. The next letter is dated
the 10th June, and gives an account of the dismasting of the hulk
"David Chico," which the Duke has sent to the coast of Galicia for
repair. The Duke has at last decided to send Captain Moresin to
the duke of Parma, with news of the Armada, and information that
it has been decided for the Armada to remain off the coast of England
until advices from Parma reach the Duke. Provisions are bad and
short, the hulks slow, the weather contrary, and a long voyage may
be anticipated. The victuals are so rotten and stinking that many
have been thrown overboard to save the men from pestilence. Is in
great trouble at this. Begs the King to order fresh supplies to be
sent after them. On the 13th the Duke was off Cape Finisterre, all
well. Calls a council every day that the weather permits, and is
getting every man familiar with his duty. Will as soon as he
passes Finisterre have every bed, box, partition, or other incumbrance
cleared from the decks. The next letter is dated on the 14th and
informs the King that the victuals are so bad and short that the
Duke has sent a letter to the governor of Galicia begging him to
seize all food he can get on land or sea, and send it after the Armada.
Another letter dated 18th June follows. Head winds still keep the
fleet back. Pilots advise the Duke to enter Corunna or Ferrol, but
he avoids doing so for fear of the soldiers and sailors deserting, "as
usual." Has sent to Corunna for fresh provisions ; and in the
meanwhile was waiting for supplies and a fair wind off Cizarga.
On the following day, 19th June, the Duke writes from Corunna,
that he with a portion of the fleet has been forced to enter that port
by stress of weather, and lack of water and food. The rest of the
Armada was unable to reach port until too late to enter that night,
and was expected by the Duke to come in the next morning. During
the night and on the 20th a heavy storm arose and scattered the
ships that were outside, inflicting great damage upon many of them,
and driving them into various ports of Biscay, Asturias, and Galicia.
To the above various letters the King replied from San Lorenzo
on the 26th June, regretting the delay that had occurred, and urging
the Duke in emphatic terms to justify the confidence the King has
reposed in him, and not to lose another hour in resuming his voyage.
The King hopes and believes that the Armada will have finally
sailed from Corunna before the letter reaches there.
302. Bernardino de Mendoza to the King.
I have written constantly to Julio, Sampson, and Vega, to do
their best to keep Don Antonio in England, as your Majesty orders.
They are all of opinion that it will be difficult for him to leave.
With regard to the negotiations for closer alliance between England
and France, Julio writes to say that the Queen had sent word to
the King (of France) that the League had seized Boulogne ; and if
he (the King) desires to regain it she will help him with her forces.
I learn from the new confidant that the English ambassador had
not sent the Queen's letter to the King, but himself had written a
letter repeating its contents. The King sent a reply through
Gondi, that the Queen had refused to intervene between him and
the prince of Bearn when it was so important that a settlement
should be arrived at, and at the present juncture he had no need of
her assistance. I expect the reason why the King gave such an
answer as this was, that Chateauneuf, the ambassador, had informed
him (as I report in another letter) that she would certainly come to
terms with your Majesty, if she had not already done so. This
view is confirmed by a remark from Gondi to the (English)
ambassador, that his mistress was going to settle peace with your
Majesty. This was in answer to the English ambassador's saying,
that at a time when the King was a fugitive from his own capital, (fn. 2)
such an answer as that given by the King was very inopportune ;
such an offer as that which the Queen made him would have been
gladly accepted by the king of Spain or any other friendly Prince.
Gondi replied that the king of Spain would cheat them if they
made peace, whereupon the ambassador retorted, that if he did they
(the English) would be the sufferers and not the French.
I hear from a trustworthy source, that, on the same day, the 23rd,
that I saw the Queen-Mother, they sent word to the English
ambassador that my audience with her had been for the purpose
of offering your Majesty's mediation to bring the League to an
agreement with the King, and they could then assist your Majesty
in the English enterprise, the duke of Parma being instructed to
hand over to the duke of Guise the troops he has ready, so that the
latter might cross over to England. By this your Majesty may see
the artful lies and chicanery they resort to here. I have written to
Julio, giving him notice of this, in case the statement should reach
England.—Paris, 30th May 1588.
303. Bernardino de Mendoza to the King.
My last advices from England are dated 10th and 12th instant
(new style). They report that the Admiral was to start from the
Court for Portsmouth on the 10th (old style), where he would find
the fleet ready for sea. He would then sail in company with Drake,
the two fleets consisting of 150 sail. These news are given to me
by the new confidant, who adds that Winter would remain with
40 sail to guard the Flemish channel. From other sources my
advices from London, dated 12th instant, say that the total number of
ships in the three fleets of the Admiral, Drake and Winter, did not
exceed 120 in all, including those contributed by the towns. The
20 vessels offered by the city of London could not be ready for
sea before the 25th May (old style), equal to our 6th June.
The French ambassador writes to a similar effect, adding that no
doubt the Queen would come to terms with your Majesty, and
would give you some port from which your fleet could sail to
subdue Holland and Zeeland. I have a letter from St. Malo dated
the 16th instant. They had there fresh news of Drake, who was
at Plymouth. Reports come from Flushing that the ships armed by
the Dutch and Zeelanders had gathered there, for the purpose of
impeding the duke of Parma's fleet from leaving port.
The death of the king of Denmark had much grieved the queen
of England and her Council, as he was a very good friend to her
and Bearn. He was to have been present at the meeting of
Protestant Princes in Germany.
Julio writes to me that the queen of England is quite confident
of the king of Scotland, as he had assured her that notwithstanding
all the offers made to him on behalf of the Pope and your Majesty,
he would not give way one iota on the question of religion. The
king of Scotland had been on the English border to settle in person
some points under discussion, and the Scottish ambassador assures
me that he is informed that the earl of Huntly had taken a despatch,
which was on its way to England, by which it was discovered that
Douglas, a Scot at the English Court, was plotting for the seizure
of the King's person ; which it is quite credible that the English
The reports from London of the 10th (new style) are from my
usual informant ; and the enclosed information about your Majesty's
fleet is from Havre de Grace.—Paris, 30th May 1588.
304. Bernardino de Mendoza to Martin de Idiaquez.
When the news from Havre de Grace (fn. 3) which I send to his
Majesty arrived here, not only all the preachers, but the priests
enjoined their congregations to pray for the success of your
Majesty's Armada, which they knew now had sailed. The people
showed great rejoicing at this, and prayed with great devotion to
God to protect the Armada and send it victory. I am hourly
expecting couriers to give me full details.
I forgot to say that on the day of the disturbance here (fn. 4) two
captains of my quarter came to ask me to aid them with my
servants, as I had many of them, and my house was in a position
which might be made serviceable or otherwise to them. I replied
that when it was a question of defending the Catholic religion, the
person of his most Christian Majesty, or the preservation of the
city, I should be as zealous as any burgess of Paris. They went
away satisfied with this answer, but as one of the captains is a
"politician" I suspect that the object was to discover something.
Whilst I have been writing this the townsfolk have taken the
passes of Charenton and St. Cloud, both up and down the river, in
order to secure themselves as they see that the King is arming in
I am so busy, and so many people write to me, that I do not know
which way to turn, and cannot send my accounts at present. Pray
send me credits. I have just got news from London, from the
man who writes to Esteban Lercaro at Lisbon (i.e., Marco Antonio
Messia), saying that Drake would very shortly sail with 90 ships.—
Paris, 30th May 1588.
305. Relation of the Spanish Armada, (fn. 5) which departed from
Lisbon the 30th May, as it is certified from there.
||24 (166 in all.)
||6,128 (27,128 in all.)
|Friars in the Armada,
|General of the Armada ; the duke of Medina Sidonia.
Commanders :—The prince D'Ascoli, count de Fuentes, count de
Paredes, 25 Knights of the second order., sons of Marquises and
The said Armada is furnished with 1,493 artillery pieces.
|The Number of the King of Spain's Shipping in the Low Country.
From Antwerp.—Three ships of 800 tons each, very well
appointed, especially two of them ; the third, thought not able to
brook the seas, being so weakly built by certain Genoese come from
From Termonde.—Eight or ten boats or hoys for carriage.
From Ghent.—Twenty, or thereabouts, for carriage.
Gravelines, Dunkirk, Nieuport and Sluys.—As I have heard
reckoned, they are able to furnish, with certain merchants come
out of Spain thither, 60 men-of-war, but the most part small
vessels, and some 30 or 40 hoys for carriage. So that in all they
are able to furnish for men-of-war 82 boats, and for carriage 84
boats. Besides these, they have, at the least, 300 flat-bottomed
boats, and a great number of little galleys and skiffs. They expect
also good store of shipping out of Holland and Zeeland, according
to my first advertisement to my lords of her Majesty's Privy Council.
I have heard that they are promised certain ships from Calais, and
that divers merchants of Denmark should furnish them of some.
Jo De Barnex. (fn. 6) (?)