710. The Adelantado Of Castile to Philip III.
Amongst others, I have a spy who left England 16 days since ;
and I enclose the intelligence he brings. (fn. 1) I have hitherto found
him truthful, but still I am cautious, because no spy can be trusted
implicitly, although war cannot well be carried on without such
This man is making ready to return to Ireland and England, with
the intention of coming back again in three or four months. I pray
your Majesty will let me know if there is any point which need
specially be enquired about, so that I may instruct him. I am,
however, not of opinion that the reinforcements for Ireland should
be stayed for his return. I refer both to men and stores, for I do
not consider as a reinforcement the expedition now being sent under
Zubiaur. The reinforcement needed is one that will end the
business for once and for all, and not dribblets like sips of broth, that
will only prolong the agony, and allow the invalid to die after all.
Little reinforcements will only cause the loss to be greater, and will
give the Queen an opportunity for sending with ease larger aid than
can go from Spain. If the Irish do not see the Spaniards the
stronger party, even for a week, they will not declare themselves
against the Queen. Unless they do so declare themselves, we shall
not be able to finish our task with so small a force. The landing of
the men where they were landed was a great drawback, (fn. 2) as I have
already stated. If with God's help the Earls be able to effect a
junction with Don Juan del Aguila, a good result may still be hoped
for, but there is a fear that they may be defeated on the way,
which would be a grievious thing, for the loss of all these good
Catholics would have been brought about in consequence of the
succour sent being so small and landed in an inconvenient place. I
have been much grieved for some years past to see that, from
motives of economy, expeditions are undertaken with such small
forces that they principally serve to irritate our enemies, rather
than to punish them. The worst of it is that wars thus become
chronic, and the expense and trouble resulting from long continued
warfare are endless.
It will be seen by the enclosed report, that the Queen has now in
Ireland, including the last reinforcements, 13,000 foot soldiers and 900
horse : and if affairs there are not settled during the winter, she will
probably make a great effort next summer both on land and sea, to
prevent any aid from reaching Ireland rfrora here. If the reinforcements
we are to send do not go before the spring, your Majesty
will not be able to send them except at a great expenditure of
money, as the number of troops for the operations on land wiil have
to be very large, and another strong force of soldiers and sailors
must be kept on the fleet unless we are to run the risk of losing it.
The fleet itself will also have to be very powerful, and able to
give battle to the enemy. If this be not so, the injury to us will be
greater than would be the loss of the troops we now have in
Ireland. But still I consider it difficult, if not impossible, for us in
so short a time, at whatever cost, to fit out the fleet and forces
which would be necessary for such a purpose.
If there be any truth in the statement that the French are
contemplating a war with us (which there may well be, seeing the
King's fickleness) I would urge your Majesty to seek means of
offence and defence against the enemy. God will surely not
abandon your Majesty, much as we may fear the sins of our country.
The easiest and least costly means which I can suggest is that
which I have submitted on another occasion, namely, the collecting
of all your Majesty's galleys at some convenient point, and embarking
in them all the best troops we can get, taking the veterans from
the garrisons, and, if necessary, putting recruits into their places.
This will be equivalent to letting them (the veterans) out of
captivity, and the new men will be good serviceable soldiers by next
year. When your Majesty has your galleys mustered, and filled
with the large number of good troops suggested, you will be in a
position to send aid to both Italy and Spain, if needed, with but
very little cost, as the galleys, and most of the troops, would have
to be maintained in any case. If the Turkish fleet comes down also,
your Majesty will be strong enough to scatter it. If we were to
send an army to every point where danger may be apprehended, no
treasure or troops in the world would suffice. I therefore beg your
Majesty, as I have often previously done, to embody a force which
will defend you at all points at small expense. Otherwise it will
not be necessary for our enemies to make war on us ; they need only
threaten to do so, and our expenditure itself will crush us without
their drawing a sword. Puerto de Santa Maria.—10 December
711. Council Of State to Philip III.
The three points contained in Colonel Semple's paper, to which
the Council desires to draw your Majesty's attention, are the
1st. In order that the Irish affair may be successful, it is desirable
that the reinforcements already sent should be brought up to 6,000
men, effective strength, as Semple has no doubt that the queen of
England will send both land and sea forces next year, if not before,
and obstruct your Majesty's action.
2nd. In addition to the troops sent to Ireland, it is of the utmost
importance that some person of intelligence and confidence should
be sent to Scotland, openly accredited to the King, as a return to
the embassy he sent hither last year. This envoy should be secretly
instructed to assist the Catholics, and endeavour to induce them
to obtain possession of the little prince. If this be done, and he be
married to the daughter of the duke of Savoy, the Catholic faith
may thus be restored in Scotland. It might also be arranged at the
same time for the Scottish highlanders opposite the Irish coast to
side with your Majesty in that war, as they are greatly devoted to
the Spaniards, from whom they boast their descent, and are
consequently enemies of the English, against whom they have aided
the Irish on other occasions.
3rd. He recommends that the (Netherlands) rebels should be deprived
of Spanish trade. Experienced persons should be stationed in the
ports, able to distinguish friends from enemies. The latter in the
course of their trafficking learn your Majesty's intentions, and make use
of their knowledge to go to the Indies and elsewhere to plunder.
Colonel Semple has now advices of a number of enemies' ships coming
to Portugal with this object. He also proposes that 15 or 16 medium
sized ships should be stationed in the Orkney Isles, where there
are good harbours, to prevent the rebels from profiting by the
fisheries and trade with Denmark—which is their Indies, whence
they draw their resources to keep up the war in Flanders. In the
event of your Majesty desiring to conquer the Orkneys, it could be
done when the Irish business is effected, and the Scottish negotiation
carried through. For this purpose your Majesty would have to
avail yourself of the earl of Bothwell, whose brother the earl of
Caithness is near the islands. Semple is of opinion that by this
means affairs in Flanders may be remedied speedily and at less cost
than otherwise, and other important ends attained.
Note.—There is in the Biblioteca Nacional, at Madrid (H. 50) a
long document written by Semple to the King (Philip III.), in
1620, setting forth his services to Spain, in which he mentions the
advice given in the above document, and points out that if it had
been adopted it would have saved the situation. He had given
similar advice in 1587 ; and in 1588, when he was in Scotland, he
had made all arrangements for carrying it out. In the same book
(H. 50) there is a certificate dated 24th April 1601, from Bernardino
de Mendoza, recounting at length Semple's great services as an
intermediary between Spain and the Scottish Catholics. These
MSS. have never been published.
712. Document headed "Memorandum of all that has occurred
with relation to the reinforcements for Ireland since the
fleet left Lisbon, when the last report was submitted to
Don Diego Brochero left Lisbon at the beginning of September,
with 33 vessels, great and small, 20 of which belonged to his
Majesty, and 13 to private persons. They took in them Don Juan
del Aguila, with 4,464 footmen, six pieces of battering artillery,
6,000 quintals of biscuit, 600 quintals of powder, 250 quintals of
lead, 550 quintals of firewick, 2,000 pikes, 500 harquebusses,
1,600 swords, 150 saddles, 300 lances, 1,500 planks, 2,500 picks,
shovels and spades, all of which stores were to be landed.
He (Don Juan de Aguila?) took despatches for the Earls and other
gentlemen on the Catholic side of Ireland, and he was accompanied
by the archbishop of Dublin, and the bishop ... (fn. 3) to negotiate
with the natives of the country.
When they were near Ireland the flag ship, with eight other
vessels, were separated from the rest of the fleet in a storm, and
were driven out of their course, taking refuge in Corunna. In these
ships were General Pedro de Zubiaur and the Maestre de Campo
Centeno ; and according to the report sent by the inspector, Pedro
Lopez de Soto, 650 foot soldiers also returned in them.
Letters have been received from Don Juan del Aguila, the most
recent of them being dated 31st October, which was brought by
captain Josef de Morales, who is now here. He arrived after Don
Diego Brochero, and can, if desired, give fuller details of events,
as he was with Don Juan del Aguila for some days after Brochero
Don Juan (del Aguila) writes that in consequence of the ships
with Zubiaur being missing, and many soldiers having fallen sick,
he was very short of men, and that his stores and victuals were also
low, as Zubiaur's ships had a quantity on board.
He says the harbour is good, but difficult to guard unless a fort
is constructed on a point at the entrance forming a peninsula. He
has some men on the point, but he did not dare to fortify it, as the
enemy might cut it off, and he had not enough men to defend and
reinforce it, and to hold the town. He was, however, adopting the
best measures he could devise.
He says the town (Kinsale) is well built and surrounded by
walls, but there are hills commanding it on all sides, and it is not
favourable for fortification.
He had advised the Earls of his arrival, and although they had
replied, he feared that there would be some delay in their joining
him, as they were far off and the road is rough ; besides which the
enemy was beginning to get between them.
As soon as the queen of England's viceroy learnb of his landing
he came within four leagues of him, to a place called Cork, and bad
since come nearer, being at the time he wrote only two leagues
distant. The Viceroy had already collected nearly 5,000 men, and
a considerable number of horses. Before captain Morales left, some
of the enemy were sighted very near some trenches that had been
opened outside the town, but Don Juan had not been able to engage
them, as they are only horsemen and retire at once. There was,
however, a little skirmish, in which two or three of the enemy were
killed, a sargeant and a soldier being wounded on our side.
Don Juan learns that the Viceroy had sent to ask the Queen
for reinforcements, and he had no doubt that they would soon be
He reports that he found very little victuals in the town, and
that he was making use of all he could. Those that he had landed
would last him at most 50 or 60 days.
He requests that victuals shall be sent him, and most urgently
he begs for bread, wine, oil, and vinegar. He also asks for more
warlike stores, and above all, that reinforcements of men should be
sent with the greatest speed. He presses most of all for cavalry.
Zubiaur has again sailed from Corunna, with 10 ships and
829 footmen, 2,100 quintals of biscuit, 2,000 fanegas of wheat,
1,300 fanegas of rye, 130 pipes of wine, 100 arrobas of oil,
100 quintals of powder, 44 quintals of firewick, 60 quintals of
lead, 200 harquebusses, 1,000 pikes, 4,000 horse-shoes, and many
artillery stores, and 1,000 picks, spades, and shovels. All this is to
be landed. He is also taking 10 portable ovens.
Zubiaur is instructed (with the approval and desire of Don Juan)
to leave there some of his ships, completely armed ; and if Don Juan
requests, he himself is to stay there. Don Juan is informed that
he may make such arrangements as he thinks desirable in this
respect, and that Zubiaur has orders to follow his instructions.
Five ships are ready in Lisbon, only awaiting a fair wind to sail.
They have on board 4,500 quintals of biscuit, 600 arrobas of oil,
150 pipes of wine, 100 quintals of powder, 80 quintals of firewick,
25 ovens, 190 foot soldiers from those who came from Terceira, and
some from the forts of Lisbon.
Don Juan del Aguila was to have been accompanied by the
Maestres de Campo, Don Francisco de Padilla, and Antonio Centeno. (fn. 4)
Don Francisco did not embark because he was sick at the time of
sailing, and Centeno returned with Zubiaur. As Don Juan was
thus left alone, and Centeno requested leave of absence, his Majesty
gave the command of Centeno's regiment to Esteban de Legorreta (fn. 5)
who arrived at Corunna after Zubiaur had sailed, and he will have
to wait for the first opportunity for going thither.
Don Martin de la Cerda, who was also to have gone with Don
Juan del Aguila, remained in Lisbon in consequence of being unwell,
but he is now on board one of the five ships ready to sail from
Don Francisco de Padilla has been ordered to embark, but he has
not appeared, and no answer has been received to the second order
sent to him.
Three companies of light horse have also been ordered to embark
in Lisbon. They belong to the guards of the Count de Puñonrostro,
of Don Pedro Pacheco, and Don Sancho Brabo respectively, and they
are at the present time mustering and receiving their marching wages.
They will take 220 effective lances, according to the statement
furnished by Don Bernardino de Velasco.
His Majesty has also ordered that captain Duarte Nuñez should
go in command of the above cavalry, and should have charge of the
whole of the cavalry collected in Ireland. (fn. 6) Don Juan del Aguila
has been again instructed to raise in Ireland two companies of
mounted harquebussiers. His Majesty has appointed as lieutenants
of the above cavalry Alonso Caro and Juan de la Camara.
Money has already been placed in Lisbon to pay for the transport
and maintenance of the above cavalry, and orders have been sent
that no time is to be lost.
Orders have likewise been sent by his Majesty for the raising of a
regiment of 2,000 Portuguese foot soldiers, these being the troops
that it appeared could most easily be sent to meet the present
The letters of the Viceroy of Portugal dated 11th September set
forth the difficulties encountered in the raising of these men, and the
shipping of the horses. Nine thousand ducats have been supplied in
Galicia for the purchase of wheat, wine, and vegetables, and for
freighting ships to carry them to Kinsale. A similar provision will,
if possible, be made from Santander and Laredo.
Intelligence comes from various quarters that the queen of
England is raising large forces for Ireland, and we now learn that a
Dunkirk ship on the 30th ultimo, met 13 ships in the channel on
the way to Ireland. An English ship captured by the Dunkirker
reported that these 13 vessels belonged to the Queen, and carried
4,000 English infantry. Valladolid.—17 December 1601.
713. Report of the Council Of State to Philip III. on the
following documents submitted to it by the King.
1st.—A statement of Secretary Esteban de Ibarra, of 17th instant,
of the men, munitions, stores, etc., taken by your Majesty's fleet to
Ireland, the arrival of the fleet at Kinsale, and the report received
from Don Juan del Aguila, to the effect that, in consequence of
General Pedro de Zubiaur and eight ships having gone astray, and
many of his own men being sick, he was very short of men and
victuals. [Here follows a summary of the preceding document.]
2nd.—A document from the president of the Chancery of Medina
del Campo, sent on the 15th instant to the duke of Lerma, containing
the statement made by the Venetian sailors, who had gone to
Medina, as they could not enter this city (Valladolid), to the effect
they had been carried as prisoners of the English to Plymouth, and
had there heard that the queen of England, offended at the presence
of Spaniards in Ireland, was arming 20 galleons with the intention
of sending them to Ceuta and Tangiers. There were two captains in
Plymouth, one a Portuguese and the other a Frenchman, both
heretics, who were going with these ships.
3rd.—A memorandum of Juan de Contreras Gamarra, late
commissary general of the light horse in Flanders, urging that the
Irish affair should be fomented, and that as many as 14,000 infantry,
1,200 cavalry (800 of them lancers and 400 harquebussiers) should
be sent thither. As the infantry cannot be all Spaniards, there
should be 3,000 Germans and 3,000 Walloons, who could be raised
on the pretext that they were for Flanders ; but that money for
them should be sent separately from here, so that no delay shall take
place. These men might be employed in guarding the artillery and
stores, whilst the Spaniards were landed for the main object. These
6,000 might be sent from Dunkirk in the ships there, in bodies of
600 or 1,000, the greatest secrecy being observed, and the sailors,
who are very well acquainted with those coasts, should be well
rewarded. The French will aid the Queen to expel the Spaniards
from Ireland, and if they do not succeed they will break with Spain.
It will therefore be advisable to drill and make up the strength of
the Castilian cavalry guard, which it badly needs. 3,000 muskets,
carrying 1½ ounce bullets should be provided, 20,000 sets of infantry
armour and 4,000 sets for light cavalry should be sent from Milan ;
and also 12 armourers to live in Toledo, and make armour when
needed. There will also be required from there 4,000 pistols in the
Freuch fashion, for the cavalry, but these need not cost anything,
as the amount can be deducted from the men's wages. If men be
raised in Spain, it will be advisable to put them in quarters as soon
as they join, as otherwise they will take to their trades again and
live as usual. In order that reinforcements may be sent at once to
Ireland, it will be well to obtain 4,000 Spaniards from Milan,
Naples, and Sicily. These troops, with the 6,000 Germans and
Walloons, will be sufficient to conquer the island. If there be a lack
of wheat in Spain, it may be brought from Naples, Sicily, and
Sardinia, and Juan de Contreras offers his services.—[The above
document, in full, dated 15th December, is in the same packet.]
4th.—A letter dated 10th instant from the Adelantado de Castile,
giving the report of one of his spies who left Bristol on the
22nd November, to the effect that as soon as the Queen learnt of
the arrival of the Spaniards in Ireland, she gave orders that
5,000 soldiers should be sent thither this winter, and over 3,500 were
then going. The enemy was very confident in Ireland, since he
learnt the small number of the Spaniards ; and was approaching the
Spanish force, and intercepting the Catholics. There was some
scarcity in England, but they were making every possible effort in
the matters of Ireland and Ostend, with regard to which the Queen
has an understanding with the king of France. The latter exhibits
but small intention of continuing at peace with Spain. A ship
belonging to the earl of Cumberland, and four merchantmen, have
gone to India to trade, plundering what they meet on the voyage.
They (the English) think of sending a fleet to capture Santiago de
Cuba and Habana, Flemings and Englishmen going together for that
purpose. The Adelantado says that it will be desirable to send a
great reinforcement to Ireland. To dole out the succour like sips of
broth to a sick man will only prolong the agony, and the invalid
will die after all. If the Irish do not see that the Spaniards are the
stronger, they will not declare against the Queen. In addition to
the men the Queen has sent this winter, she will make a great effort
next summer, and if our men do not go before the spring, the
reinforcement will cost a vast sum of money, as a large number of
men will be wanted on land and also at sea, unless we wish to risk
losing the fleet, which will have to be very powerful. The Adelantado
considers that it would be impossible for your Majesty to get such a
fleet together in so short a time, even if there were plenty of money.
In order to guard against danger from the French and others, he
proposes that your Majesty should muster all your galleys in some
convenient place, and put on board of them the largest possible
number of the best troops you have, the veterans being taken from
the garrisons and recruits being put in their places. By this means
both Spain and Italy will be reinforced with but little expense,
because the galleys in any case have to be paid for, as well as
most of the troops who would be put on board of them, and if the
Turkish fleet should appear, your Majesty will be strong enough
to scatter it. If, on the other hand, we had to send an army to every
point where enemies threaten us, no treasure and no troops in the
world would suffice, and the important thing is to have a force which
will be able to protect us everywhere. Otherwise our enemies will have
no need to make war upon us ; they need only threaten, and our
own expenditure will crush us without our enemies drawing a sword.
The above documents having been duly discussed, the Council
agreed that there was no doubt, as your Majesty had so many
enemies who were opposed to your becoming master of Ireland—the
port and entrance of the northern parts, and a tight rein for those
nations—that both the declared heretics and others would make
every effort to prevent it. It is, therefore, advisable that reinforcements
should if possible be sent to Don Juan del Aguila and the
Irish Catholics ; and also to take such measures on our own frontiers
as shall frustrate any attempt upon them. As the queen of England
has her troops so handy for the reinforcement of Ireland with all
sorts of ships, this will not prevent her from being able, with the
help of her allies, to send forces elsewhere, not only the 20 galleys
spoken of by the Venetian sailors, but very much larger fleets to
divert and harass your Majesty.
Although it would no doubt be very desirable to adopt the
recommendations of the Adelantado and Commissary-General
Contreras, the state of your Majesty's treasury and the short time
between now and the spring, render it impossible ; and we must
therefore do what we can, attending first to what is most urgent,
and trusting that our Lord will make up for the shortcomings.
The Council therefore recommends the following :—
As the Irish affair has been undertaken, every possible effort
should be made to continue the promotion of it ; but we cannot
hope to fit out a great fleet, because the difficulty and delay which
would occur would involve the grave risk of losing what we already
have in Ireland. The force now ready in Lisbon should therefore
sail immediately the weather permits.
The Portuguese regiment should be raised, and sent with all speed,
money for the purpose being provided from here. The same course
should be followed with the cavalry of the guard, which your
Majesty has decided shall be sent thither. The Constable reports
that it will be unadvisable for entire companies to be sent, as so
many of the men are married, and anxiety for their wives and
children will prevent them from going with good spirit. The troops
to be sent should therefore be chosen from the unmarried men.
This should be left to Don Bernardino de Velasco. The standards
of the companies should be left here with the married men, and the
strength of the companies filled up. By this means good useful
troops will be sent to Ireland, and the companies will still be
As there are not enough Spaniards to go everywhere, it will be
advisable to adopt the suggestion of Contreras, and to send a
regiment of Walloons from Flanders to Ireland, and also a regiment
of Germans. The Archduke may appoint the officers, and make
necessary arrangements, the portion of the money necessary for the
levy and provisions being furnished from here. His Highness should
instruct the officers that if there be any difficulty about landing in
the place where Don Juan del Aguila is they are to disembark in
any other port held by the Catholics ; giving due advice to Don
Juan and to the earls O'Neil and O'Donnell, whose orders they will
Don Juan del Aguila and the Earls should be written to, saying
how earnestly we are endeavouring to aid them. If they have not
already effected a junction, they should be urged to do so, and to
try to hold out, taking the places which seem most fitting for that
purpose, if the enemy be so strong that they cannot fight him with
an assurance of victory. But still it may be hoped with God's
blessing, since the Irish Catholics alone have been able for so many
years to withstand the queen of England, that they will the better
do so now that they are aided by the forces of your Majesty.
The authorities in Ceuta and Tangiers should be instructed to be
on the alert, and discover whether the Sheriff is making any move :
because if the 20 galleons mentioned by the Venetians go thither it
will be with the Sheriff's connivance. The duke of Medina Sidonia
and the Adelantado of Castile should be instructed to hold themselves
in readiness to aid the fortresses mentioned, if needed.
The Governors of Puerto Rico, Cartagena, Panama, and Habana,
should be ordered to put the fortresses into a condition for defence,
and keep a keen look out for the enemy.
The militia in Spain should be embodied and held in readiness.
The infantry levies should be expedited, money being provided for
the purpose. A statement should be obtained of the armed forces of
the landed proprietors of Andalucia, and the number of horses, so
that in case of need they may be employed, as they have been on
Intimation should be sent to the prelates and nobles that in case
of need they should at once overhaul their arms, etc., and devise
how they may best be of service if the occasion should require.
They should send reports, so that such orders as may be necessary
may be given to them, in accordance with the advance of the
enemy. But this will only be in the event of extreme pressure, as
his Majesty does not wish to put them to the expense otherwise.
The marquis of Castel Rodrigo (fn. 7) should be instructed to make
ready and put in order everything in Portugal and the islands.
The frontiers of Spain should be placed in a position of defence,
as has on several occasions been signified to your Majesty, these
frontiers are so utterly unprepared that it is enough to encourage
the enemy to attack them ; which he would not attempt if they
were in a proper condition. Wc cannot depend upon the peace with
Fiance, because, in addition to the open support she gives to the
rebels, it is unquestionable that she will break with us, at the
juncture when most harm can be done to your Majesty.
The preparation of the fleet of galleys, as recommended by the
Adelantado, is the most important point possible, both for offence
and defence, and orders should be given in Spain and Portugal for
the most extraordinary energy to be employed in fitting out the
existing galleys, and also in building and arming others. With
the infantry that can be drawn from Milan, Naples, and Sicily,
and a regiment of Neapolitans that can be raised, we shall be able
to man and arm all the galleys we can obtain, and this will be a
good bridle for the French and others. Although Contreras says
that Spanish infantry could be drawn from Italy for Ireland, the
majority of the Council are of opinion that it will be more desirable
for it will be sent to the fleet. It would be unwise to supply men
for one place by denuding others of greater importance.
F. Gaspar de Cordoba, (fn. 8) whilst deferring to the opinions of the rest
of the Council with respect to warlike affairs, which are alien to
his profession, said that full credit should be given to the reports,
and preparations be made against the worst that can happen,
because his Majesty's enemies are so numerous and powerful, that
they will certainly offend him at every possible point. He therefore
approved of the measures proposed, and all others that may be
necessary. But since your Majesty's treasury (of the state of which
he gave full details) cannot meet all the demands upon it, and all
our preparations will be insufficient, it will be necessary that God,
with His Almighty hand should come to our aid. The first and
most important of all preparations will be to appease His anger,
provoked by the vices and sins so prevalent in this country. We
must, therefore, earnestly seek a remedy by mending our ways of
life, and by constant prayer. With this object all the prelates
should be written to, begging them to use efforts in their respective
dioceses to this end, adopting such measures as may seem most
fitting, and such as have been employed on other similar occasions.
For if God be with us a few will conquer many, and if not, then in
vain shall we amass human forces.
Your Majesty will decide.