503. Bernardino de Mendoza to the King.
I constantly endeavour to send to your Majesty reports from England.
The sails seen off Finisterre, as mentioned in your Majesty's despatch
of 15th, were either a flotilla of hulks or a squadron of English
pirates, as I wrote to your Majesty some time ago. I mentioned
that the Queen had given permission to 50 ships to sail on plundering
voyages. Drake's fleet had not left on the date of my last
advices, 6th ultimo, he himself being at Court, and only a very few
of the ships promised from Holland had arrived. I have only heard
of the two ships sailing from France, which I mentioned in previous
letters as belonging to M. de la Chatre, governor of Dieppe. This
leads me to think confidently that the vessels in question must be
the English privateers, which have collected together. The whole
of France is so disturbed that it is impossible to obtain letters from
England excepting at rare intervals.—Chausée de St. Victor,
1st February 1589.
504. Bernardo de Mendoza to the King.
As the correspondence from England is not allowed to pass
through France, I am without any letters from my confidant there,
and consequently can only forward the news sent by the French
ambassador. He writes to his wife, on the 12th ultimo, that Don
Antonio's affairs were progressing greatly, and the fleet that Drake
and he were to take out would be ready to sail by the middle of
February. The English ambassador here has letters of 19th ultimo,
saying that Drake's fleet was ready, and would leave on the 14th or
15th of February, Norris having arrived in England. The earl of
Northumberland had subscribed 20,000 crowns to the enterprise,
and the eard of Essex 10,000, although he would not go in person. (fn. 1)
Sir William Guilford, who was governor of the Sluys, was to accompany
The following troops were to make up the force :—4,000
musketeers, contributed by the States of Holland, with 40 ships,
victualled and stored, to convey the 4,000, and 2,000 English troops,
and 300 lances taken by the Queen from her garrisons in Holland,
etc. ; 4,000 harquebussiers, 4,000 pikemen, and another 300 lances,
which together will amount to 14,000 men and 600 horse, to be
ready by the middle of February. The ships are to consist of six of
the Queen's ships from the Thames, with four pataches and twelve
merchantmen, amongst which is the "Royal Merchant," and 70 or
80 other ships, which were ready at Plymouth, Falmouth, Dartmouth,
and other neighbouring ports. The common rumour was that
the destination of the fleet would be Portugal, although Walsingham
asserts, in his letter of the 19th, that it was undecided whether Don
Antonio would go in person or not. The above intelligence is
published by the English ambassador here, who shows Walsingham's
letters ; but, as I have no reports from my confidants, I cannot
affirm the present condition of the armaments. It appears to me,
however, that even if the Queen decided to send so many foot
soldiers out of England (and it will be an extraordinary thing if she
does), she would find a difficulty in shipping 600 horses in such a
fleet as that described. As soon as I learn direct particulars I will
let your Majesty know with all speed.
Don Antonio's son had been driven into Plymouth by a storm,
and was there consuming his stores. It had therefore been necessary
for him to obtain a fresh supply of victuals. He sailed from there
again on the 23rd December, in company with 12 ships that had
sailed for plunder, and some merchant ships bound for Barbary, which
had been specially ordered by the Queen to accompany him, as it was
feared that the long delay that had taken place would have allowed
some of your Majesty's vessels to put out to intercept him.
The three ships sent out by Sir Harry Cavendish, and four of the
earl of Cumberland's, bound for the Straits of Magellan, it is said
will leave with Drake and separate from him at sea, proceeding
thence on their voyage.—Chausée de St. Victor, 5th February 1589.
505. Bernardino de Mendoza to the King.
I have no news from England since my last, and the agent
here for the Dutch rebels says that his last advices are dated
26th December, at which date the States had not decided whether
they would contribute men and ships to go with Drake's fleet.
A certain Friar, Joseph Tejeda, a follower of Don Antonio, who
had gone from England to Lyons, had fled from there to England
again, as an attempt was made to arrest him in his monastery itself,
on the accusation that he wrote books against your Majesty. A
Portuguese had arrived there (Lyons), called Esteban Ferreira da
Gama, (fn. 2) who has changed his name to Juan Luis. He was implicated
with Leiton. He is desirous of obtaining your Majesty's pardon.—
Chausée de St. Victor, 13th February 1589.
506. Bernardino de Mendoza to the King.
The only news I can add about England is, that on the night of
the 10th, this King said in his cabinet to the Abbé Guadagni, that
if Don Antonio had not already embarked he would very soon
do so. He was glad for his sake, but was sorry that the queen of
England should have taken away so many of her troops from
Holland and Zeeland, because if he had no enemy to fight there, the
duke of Parma might send his forces to France to help the duke of
Mayenne. This was said with a great appearance of anxiety.
The English ambassador here complains publicly that although,
through a third person, he had offered his mistress' aid to this King,
and a similar offer had been made through Chateauneuf, no answer
had been received.—Chaussée de St. Victor. 15th February 1589.
507. Statement of Marco Antonio Micea (or Messia) who
left London on 24th February 1589.
The Queen's fleet, under Sir Francis Drake, is getting ready to
sail by the 15th March. Including six ships of the Queen's, large
and small, the total number of sail is calculated at 70, some say
more. Besides these, however, there are 40 to come from Holland
and Zeeland. Of these, six with 400 soldiers have already arrived
at Tilbury, in the Thames. They say more will come, but it is
impossible to say for certain. There will be 10,000 soldiers shipped
on the fleet, independent of those from Holland, to the number, it is
expected, of 3,500, mostly musketeers, and of 4,000 English pioneers,
some of whom I saw embarked.
Norris has been appointed General of the force. He is considered
at present the best soldier in the country.
It is said also that the earl of Cumberland is to go in this fleet
with six ships, but I am told, and believe, that he will not do so, but
will go to plunder on the Indian route. This was his intention
when he sailed at the end of November, but he was driven into the
Isle of Wight in a storm with great damage, his own ship having
had to be relieved of her mast.
Drake and Norris were trying to induce the Council to victual
the fleet for six months instead of four. In order to pay for this,
and other necessaries, the Queen had issued a warrant for 40,000l.,
and some companies of merchants had provided 30,000l., on condition
of sharing in the prizes. It is publicly stated that the destination
is to be Portugal, and that Don Antonio will go in the fleet. Horatio
Pallavicini told me that, although common rumour said this, he
knew well that the Queen and Council had other plans in view.
Don Antonio also told me that it was doubtful whether the
Portuguese enterprise would be undertaken, as no credit could be
given to English promises.
The statement was also current that the fleet was intended for
the Azores, where it is said an arrangement has been made for help
to be given to it, especially with one Fonseca, vicar of St. Bartolomé, (fn. 3)
residing at San Mateo. Other persons believe that the fleet is at
present only intended to collect at Plymouth to await events in
Spain, and to cruise in the Channel, for the purpose of obstructing
what trade is carried on by Germans and Flemings with Spain.
Others again think it is to carry troops to France, who would land
at Rochelle. This may be true, to judge by what I was told by
Friar Joseph Tejeda, who landed at Rye on the 22nd with an
Italian captain named Sebastian Pardin. They said they came
with important messages from the king of France to the queen of
England, and that Don Antonio would not go in the fleet to
Portugal. They said the king of Morocco was to lend Don Antonio
100,000 crowns, which had already been received by Duarte Perin
(Edward Perrin), who was expected in England ; Don Cristobal,
the son of Don Antonio, having been left in Barbary as a hostage.
Whilst I was at Rye, awaiting a passage across, I learned that
4,000 men were being collected in Scotland to go to France in the
King's service, and two Commissioners had gone to France to learn
where they should be landed.
Parliament was opened in London on the 4th February. They
were discussing the means for prolonging the war, and the Queen
had asked for two subsidies for this purpose. The people were
dissatisfied at this, but it was expected that the subsidies would he
Horatio Pallavicini has laid before the Queen and her Council a
statement, in which he proposes that, with the object of continuing
the war, it is desirable to arm 40 or 50 ships, and to divide them into
two squadrons, one to go to the coast of Spain, and the other to the
Indies, the prizes taken being devoted to the cost of the war. He
advises that no Spanish officer or sailor should be released, as he is
of opinion that his Majesty will be more pressed for experienced men
and seamen than for anything else.
Horatio Pallavicini has made great efforts to prevent any negotiation
for the liberation of Don Pedro de Valdés, whilst the war lasts,
and I understand that the Council has already agreed that no sailors
are to be released.
Certain titles of Earl and Baron are to be granted in this Parliament.
This is, however, in suspense at present, as they are all
falling out amongst themselves, there not being three great personages
or members of the Council in accord with one another. Amongst
others there is a great quarrel between the earl of Essex and Walter
Raleigh, and between the Lord Admiral and Drake.
It is said that the earl of Arundel, who has been imprisoned in
the Tower for the last three years for Catholicism, is to be tried and
condemned to lose his head ; but up to the day of my departure
nothing had been done in the matter, as I learned from some
members of the Council.
Sixteen or eighteen ships have sailed (from England) this year
for Italy and the Levant, some of which have sailed on other
occasions on piratical voyages with native (Turkish?) masters, and
have returned with great riches. Unless this be stopped, and some
of the ships captured, it will greatly encourage the English.
In conclusion of my statement, I may say that I am confidently
of opinion that, if his Majesty again sends an expedition to England
(and the sooner the better), and it is well managed and commanded,
with the determination to land the troops, it will, with God's help,
be successful. It is important that something should be gained in
the first encounters, as my experience shows me that ever such a
little success at the commencement animates the men, whilst the
smallest reverse casts them down.
Note.—The above statement is that referred to in Mendoza's letter
to the King, dated 22nd March.