714. Report of a Committee of the Council Of State to the
King on the Papers brought from Ireland by Martin
The documents brought are the notes written by the Irish earls
to Don Juan del Aguila, and his replies from the 14th to the 19th
The substance is that the earls ask him for some Spaniards to
join with their own men, with arms, munitions, and biscuits, whilst
Don Juan urges them to concentrate, and take up a strong position,
so as to present a bold front to the enemy, who arc very weak in
consequence of the large number of their losses from sickness and
He also brings a statement drawn up by Ibarra from the various
letters from General Pedro Zubiaur during December and early
January, the substance of which is as follows :—
He left Coruña on the 7th December with 10 ships, 800 men,
and the arms and munitions stated in other documents. He lost one
of his ships going out of port, and missed three others in the bad
weather subsequently. He could not make the port he wished, and
therefore entered Castlehaven on 11th December, where he learnt
that Don Juan del Aguila was surrounded by 10,000 or 12,000 men
on land, and blockaded by 20 of the Queen's ships. It was a mercy
of God that the bad weather prevented him (Zubiaur) from arriving
at the port of Kinsale, as he would certainly have been lost, as
happened to one of the three missing ships that made Kinsale. She
carried 40 soldiers and a quantity of wheat, arms, and munitions.
There is at Castlehaven a tower, without artillery, and the chief
allowed a garrison of Spaniards to be put into it. He also handed
to him two other castles, one called Baltimore, with a very good
harbour, and the other Bearhaven. (fn. 1) Spanish garrisons were put in all
of them by consent of the owners. A thousand excellent Irish
troops had joined him, to whom he had given arms. The country
people had brought him cattle and other things.
On the 26th the English sent four galleons and three other
ships to attack him at Castlehaven. They landed artillery and
attacked under cover of their ships, but he stood out, sank the
Queen's flagship and greatly damaged, the others. Two of our ships
were sunk, but the men on board saved as well their cargoes. We
lost 20 men killed, and some wounded. The English then departed.
He had sent 200 Spaniards to the Earls, with six standards as
they had requested. He had also sent them 700 Irishmen, whom he
The Earls had six or seven thousand infantry, and 600 hcrse, and
were gradually nearing Kinsale. The enemy surprised them on
3rd January, when they were divided in five squadrons, and
attacked them with 500 foot, and as many horse. They fell upon
the weakest of the Irish squadrons, and beat them, whereupon the
rest fled without fighting ; 140 out of the 200 Spaniards were slain
or captured, and three of our standards were taken. The rest fled
to Castlehaven, with some of the forces of one of the Earls, whilst
the other portion took refuge in the mountains. The one who went
to Castlehaven, pressed Zubiaur warmly to bring him (to Spain)
with him which he did, and he is now at Coruna desiring to come
and salute your Majesty. On the same day as the above engagement
Don Juan del Aguila attacked the enemy's trenches, which are so
deep that ladders were needed to scale them. He killed 500 of their
infantry and captured seven standards, and three pieces of artillery,
which he brought into Kinsale, spiking three more. The enemy have
battered his defences so that they could walk straight in, but they
have not dared to make the attempt. Altogether Don Juan has killed
3,000 or 4,000 of their men, and he has now with him 1,800 men
capable of bearing arms, 900 sick, and provisions up to the middle
of March. He has 500 quintals of powder, but is in want of meat,
fish, medicines and delicacies for the sick. He has very little lead
and cord. There were in the castles of Bearhaven, Baltimore, and
Castlehaven 400 soldiers in garrison, with the arms, munitions, and
biscuit, brought by the six ships, but with no money nor necessaries
for the sick. The amount spent on the Irish that come in is large.
With these castles and harbours the aid that arrives may enter
freely. The furthest of these castles from Kinsale is seven leagues
over the mountains, so that they cannot bring their artillery to
attack them on the land side.
The Council also considered another summary drawn up by
Ibarra from letters by Pedro Lopez de Soto to your Majesty of
23rd December to 6th January, which confirms the above intelligence,
only adding that if succour be not sent flying through the air, all
will be lost. He says the aid should be sent from Coruña and
Flanders. Other papers of Pedro Lopez de Soto, request the things
he requires, and says where they may be obtained, with great
precision. He reiterates the need for speedy assistance in men,
munitions, arms, and stores ; and recommends 25 vessels being sent
under Zubiaur to engage the enemy's fleet.
Oleaga, as an eye-witness, confirms verbally all the above.
The Council having discussed the above, regrets the defeat of the
Earls, as success principally depended upon them. The few troops
we have there can hardly hold out, and if they fall, the castles
occupied by Zubiaur will not be of much use. The owners
themselves might surrender them in order to gain the Queen's
pardon. The worst of it is that your Majesty's prestige is at stake,
and there is no means of sending effective and prompt aid for want of
ships, men, arms, etc. ; everything here being very scarce and short.
The enemy when once they are free of Ireland will seek revenge by
every means, and it will be most advantageous to keep that thorn
in their flesh. If the time were further advanced, and the preparations
more ready, galleys might be sent to rescue Don Juan or take him
to a safer place ; but that is not now to be thought of, at least until
the end of April, and so bad a malady demands a prompt remedy.
The Council is therefore of opinion that the succour should be
conveyed by the ships that were under orders to take the cavalry,
as under the present circumstances cavalry will be of no use. To
these should be added all the ships that can be got together, orders
being also sent to count Caracena and Gaspar de Pereda, Corregidor
of the four towns, to gather quickly as many ships as they may.
The great difficulty is the troops, which must be raised, for there
are none. In Portugal none were left but those absolutely necessary
for garrison duty. But a supreme effort must be made. The only
way is to order the Estremadura militia to march at once to
Portugal, to garrison the country, and send all the present garrisons
to Ireland without an hour's delay. In the meanwhile arms,
munitions, and stores, should be prepared, and as much powder,
biscuits, and lead, as can be obtained, together with cord, clothes,
hats, boots, etc., all of which are greatly needed, with medicines for
the sick. This should be entrusted to Don Cristobal (de Mora), and
a sum of money sent to him for the purpose. Bertondona should
be ordered to make ready to go with aid, in all haste. He should
be urged not to lose a minute in fitting out the expedition, and
promised a knight commandership on his return. Legorreta should
also be ordered to make ready to go with the troops.
The cavalry can be sent to Galicia to be handy if wanted.
The five ships from Lisbon can take an additional 4,500 quintals
of biscuit for the vessels to be collected in Coruña, and the four
towns. The 300 soldiers who put into Galicia through bad weather,
and the garrison in Coruña, should be got ready by Zubiaur with
all speed, a promise of a knighthood be given to him on his return.
He should be paid all his back pay, and he and Bertondona should
be told that each has to have command of his own contingent ; but
when they are together Bertondona, being senior, must have command,
whilst both of them are to be subordinate to Don Juan del
Aguila. They are to be urgently pressed to endeavour to arrive in
Ireland in time to succour Don Juan, and carry out his orders for
the war, or else to carry his troops to a safer place, to be chosen by
Your Majesty should appoint some experienced, brave brigadier
in place of Don Francisco de Padilla.
Caracena should collect as much biscuit, powder, etc., as possible,
as well as clothes, boots, etc., to be distributed in the various ships
in case any are lost. Money must be sent him for this. Don
Gaspar should see how many troops he can raise from the four
towns, money being secretly sent to him also.
Don Diego Brochero should be sent to Lisbon at once to expedite
the preparations. Money must be supplied there for him.
Count Punoñrostro should be sent to Biscay to raise all the
soldiers and sailors he can, and send them to Coruña.
Don Juan and the garrisons in the castles should be apprised of
the aid to be sent, by some person so trustworthy that he will allow
himself to be cut to pieces before he divulges his mission to the
enemy. But as all these are only palliatives, and not cures for the
disease, nor will they prevent any attempt on Spain itself ; it is
advisable that everything should be put in order of defence here.
The galleys of Italy should be made ready, the infantry mustered
and as large a number as possible sent to Spain by the end of April.
All the troops should come paid for two months, and the Viceroys
instructed to send as many stores in the ships as can be got together.
Large orders for biscuits should be sent to Barcelona and Andalucia.
And as your Majesty has decided that your nephews should come
hither this Summer, the duke of Savoy should be told to get ready
to embark by the end of April, and come with the galleys. He will
sail in the royal galley, which will remain in Spain.
The Viceroy of Naples must be urged to send quickly the powder
and firewick ordered. The galleys of Italy must not be told by this
post that they are to come hither, but only that they are to fit out
As our defence depends upon the completion of the militia establishment,
Estevan Ibarra should be ordered to write to the Council
of State, that your Majesty orders that no slackening of effort must
take place until this be completed.
As Antonio Centeno and Francisco de Padilla have set a bad
example in leaving their regiments, your Majesty should order them
to be incarcerated in fortresses at once.
As earl O'Neil is already here, (fn. 2) your Majesty should give him
audience before your return to Valladolid. He can meet you on the
road and then return to Coruña.—29th January 1602.
A marginal note, in the handwriting of Philip III., approves of
all the foregoing recommendations, and orders them to be carried