441. Count De Olivares to the King.
The news I received of the Armada from the duke of Parma,
under date of 12th August, together with impossibility of inducing
the Pope by any means to give any money—as I have informed
Don Juan de Idiaquez—afflicts me deeply as your Majesty may
suppose, and keeps me in suspense in writing to your Majesty,
until I receive certain intelligence of the whereabouts of the
Armada, which will enable me to write something to the purpose.
As soon as I received the duke of Parma's letter, I took on my
own initiative the steps ordered by your Majesty in the despatch
of the 5th instant. I have now repeated the action in your
Majesty's name, urging the arguments which prove that the
million has been worthily deserved ; and expressing your Majesty's
hope that his Holiness had looked upon the matter in the same
light, knowing as he does, the need for money in Flanders, and
also hoping that his Holiness had not only provided the first
500,000 ducats, but had anticipated the payment of the remainder
of the million. I said that in case the latter had not been done,
your Majesty had instructed me to beg him in your name that it
should be done ; and I therefore besought his Holiness for payment
of the whole amount.
He replied in his usual way, that he did not understand me.
When the terms of the agreement were fulfilled he would give all
he had promised, and more. I answered that this was not what
your Majesty had ordered me to request. Your Majesty, I said,
did not take your stand upon the letter of the agreement, but upon
its spirit, and I then set forth all your Majesty had instructed me
to say. I ended by saying that, even if he had promised nothing
at all, he ought to accede to the request, as a reward to your
Majesty and a high example to others, seeing how much your
Majesty had done and spent for the cause of God. He heard me
without interruption, although he writhed about a good deal
with inward impatience ; but when I finished his anger leapt out, and
he replied that he told me now, as he had told me before, that he
would more than fulfil all he had promised, and I was not to worry
him any more on the matter, until positive news of the Armada
I answered that I would write to your Majesty the reply he gave,
and although, in the face of his Holiness's decision, I would not press
the matter further, yet I was sure that your Majesty would be grieved
that his Holiness should fail you. He retorted that without all
the Sacred College he was unable to dispose of the funds of the
Apostolic See, and other feeble things of that sort. I reminded
him of the answers I had given him on previous occasions to all
this. His only reply was that I was to change the subject.
The last resource is, that your Majesty should write him a letter
with your own hand, setting forth that he had persuaded your
Majesty to undertake the enterprise, and to refuse the favourable
proposals made to you which would have enabled you to recover
your own. The letter might also state how badly he had co-operated
with your Majesty, and especially in the matter of money ; the
reasons might be set forth why the million was justly due, and why
he should pay, even if he had promised your Majesty nothing,
seeing how much your Majesty had done on this and other occasions.
He might also be prayed not to desert your Majesty, or to fail to
aid you as his predecessors had done, to the extent of their abilities ;
and that your Majesty cannot believe that he, with incomparably
greater resources, will fail to follow their example at such a time of
need as this. The ample reasons which your Majesty would have
for resentment, if he followed an opposite course, might be laid
before him ; and also that the result might be to cause a permanent
estrangement with your Majesty.
The recent behaviour of his Holiness exhibits no signs of that
fervent zeal for the extirpation of heresy and the salvation of souls
which is due from one in his position. When good news comes he
shows no signs of pleasure, but rather the contrary, whilst evil
reports do not appear to concern him so much as is fitting. This
is the general opinion ; and that his sympathy on the good side has
been counterbalanced on the other by his love of money, and the
fear and jealousy of your Majesty's greatness on the part of
Venetians and Florentines. He declares himself extremely sympathetic
verbally to some persons, but, to judge from the effects, he
renounces in his heart the benefits that may be expected to result.
It becomes daily more evident that when he promised the million
he did so in the belief (as I recollect writing to your Majesty at
the time) that the undertaking would never be carried through ; and
that it would serve him as an excuse for the collection and
hoarding of money in all sorts of oppressive ways, particularly
from subjects of your Majesty. (fn. 1) Although he has never wavered
on the point of refusing to pay the money, he has shifted a good
deal on other questions. When the good news came he greatly
modified his tone, and was very easy and yielding on the various
matters brought before him ; but the moment contrary reports were
received he suddenly became as haughty and arrogant as if he had
been a captive exalted to empire. In some small matters of
frontiers, which he was discussing with count de Miranda, he
retracted all he had previously said, and treated the Count and
myself as if we had our necks in a noose. But we treated him firmly
as we had done previously, and when he saw he was making a
mistake his evil nature came out.
The Sacred College, which professes to be neutral, also exhibited
no signs of the rejoicing at the good news which might have been
expected from its position and interests ; but when the contrary
reports arrived the members soon showed their bad wishes, and
many of them seemed to have freshly gained their liberty, such is
the strength of envy, which in this case may be called heretical.
Of the common people of the country in general, it may be said
that they rejoiced at the good news, and are grieved at the result.
The foreigners who depend upon the Cardinals and the Papal Court,
followed their lead in the most barefaced way possible.—Rome,
26th September 1588.
442. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
I wrote to your Majesty five letters, by a special courier on the
24th, and I have since received your Majesty's orders of 3rd and
15th, which I will answer in my next, the present being sent by the
ordinary Flanders post, mainly to inform your Majesty of the reports
I have from England (which reports are enclosed), and also
those brought by fishing boats to the French coast and to Holland.
They confirm the news I sent in my last, that your Majesty's
Armada had left Shetland and Orkney with a great number of
ships which had been captured from the English and Dutch, who
were fishing at that place. (fn. 2)
I am also informed, from a trustworthy source, that a Flemish
heretic complained of the little courage displayed by the queen of
England, whereupon the Queen said that your Majesty had undertaken
an enterprise which she and others believed you never would undertake.
As you had sent your fleet to Flanders, it might be concluded
that it would be stronger than hers, and if she had been apprehensive
of it now she would naturally be as apprehensive of it if it came a
second time, as her crown would hang in the balance. Although
some persons advise her to send and take revenge for the coming of
the Armada, she did not consider it was good advice to send her
forces so far away, after they had been so much injured by your
Majesty's Armada, even under the shelter of England. She had lost
4,000 men, and over 12 ships, two of them the finest ships she
possessed, in the encounters with the Armada, and she hoped to
God she should now have peace with the king of Spain, with whom
she was sorry she had gone to war.
The complaints that I speak of were made by a heretic of influence
with the principal Councillors of the Queen, and he writes thus to a
confidant of his :—
"A courier from England, who was at Rye on the 20th, repeats,
verbally, that Sir Harry Cavendish, the son of the countess of
Shrewsbury, had arrived at Plymouth with only two ships ; he
having, as I advised your Majesty over a year ago, left with six
vessels to pillage on the Indian route. They say he brings great
riches in these two ships. I cannot be positive of this news, as I
only have it from the source stated."
David (fn. 3) sends me the enclosed, and I cannot help feeling some
suspicion that the hopes that the Queen may help Don Antonio
with some men and ships are mainly raised for the purpose of
preventing him from going to Constantinople. It is true that it
was said that she was discussing the sending of 40 or 50 sail, but
no preparations to that effect were visible to any extent. Only
the six ships referred to in advices of 17th were at sea.—Paris,
29th September 1588.
443. Bernardino De Mendoza to Juan De Idiaquez.
In a private holograph letter, as above, the following passage
occurs relative to the loss of the Armada :—
The novice's vision has turned out true ; as you will see by the
numerous advices sent, that the men have not behaved in such a
way as to banish the fear of a great catastrophe, unless with such a
safeguard. This instance proves to me, more than ever, that God
himself desires to conduct the affairs of his Majesty.
The novice repeated his performance, and has related other visions
that, although they prove him to be a very godly person, show
that he is extremely simple in the ways of the world. — Paris,
29th September 1588.