Elizabeth: March 1588, 26-31

Pages 565-573

Calendar of State Papers Foreign: Elizabeth, Volume 21, Part 1, 1586-1588. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1927.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. All rights reserved.

Please subscribe to access the page scans

This volume has gold page scans.
Access these scans with a gold subscription.Key icon

March 1588, 26-31

March 28. Buzanvai. to Walsingham.
As the ship in which they are sending a gentleman to the King of Navarre departs on Saturday or Sunday, and he and M. d'Ambrun think it very adviseable that Madame de Rhoan should have an ample passport from the Queen to assure her from the wrongs which their Rochellois daily suffer from the English vessels which they meet, he begs that she may have safe conduct both her person and goods.
They have today had rather bad news from France, and he fears that their King "ne fasse paroistre trop clayrement ses intentions."—London, 28 March.
Add. Endd. French. 1 p. [France XVIII. 48.]
March 28. [Michel Hurault] de l'Hopital, [Seigneur du Fay] to Walsingham.
I have been waiting six days for my dispatch from her Majesty. You might the less excuse the common failing of our nation if I were impatient because I had good news to take, but what I have from her Majesty being so grievous, my solicitation can only be attributed to necessity. I am sending on Monday to the King my master, to inform him of your reply.
For myself, I resolve to finish my journey, and see if all the Princes have as little desire to assist the common cause; that, for the last blow, we may be assured whom we may count upon; e ne humeris nostris impar onus dum suos quique subducunt soli ferre cogamur. I regret extremely to be obliged to tell my master that not only will you not succour him in his greatest need, but even refuse him your favour as regards others who might do it, and would do it if you gave the example. But if your own interests do not touch you, you are to be excused if you are not sensible of ours.
Holograph. Signed De l'Hospital. Endd. with date. French. 1 p. [France XVIII. 49.]
March 28. Instructions to — sent into France on this date.
Is with the next wind to go to Dieppe, Rouen, Newhaven, 'Sherbrook' [Cherbourg] or St. Malo's, as wind and weather may serve.
On arrival, shall enquire at that port and also send to others to understand the certainty, so near as he may, of the matters hereunder written and of all other things which concern them, viz.:—
What number of soldiers be prepared upon the coast of France; where they be levied, where they remain and for what cause, who are their leaders and whither they are bound, by land or sea. If by sea, what shipping is prepared for them; where they are to embark and whither to go.
Also what the preparations in Spain extend to; what numbers of men and ships; who be generals and leaders; in what readiness they are to set forth, for what places they come and where they expect to land or to refresh themselves.
What ships be gone from thence into Spain; whether any are to aid the King of Spain's army there, or to do the like upon these seas.
"What speeches is either of France, Scotland, Spain or any other foreign countries for the hurt or disturbance of this realm"; and what fugitives there be from hence, how they behave themselves, what their pretences and practices be and what confederates or friends they have here at home.
Lastly, to use his discretion for understanding all other actions which may concern her Majesty and the realm, and advertise them with all speed.
Endd. with date. 1 p. [France XVIII. 50.]
March 29. David Cabreth to Walsingham.
On Wednesday night last there came a bark to Dunkirk from Holland with some beer and cheese "and under, great store of powder." Being asked by the serjeant-major what they were laden with and from whence they came, they said out of Holland, with beer and cheese. ''"They went into their boat, and being demanded whither they went, they said, to weigh up an anchor they left at the haven's mouth. And within a short space after, the ship with beer and cheese blew up. [Also] a Brittan ship with salt, two ships laden with munition of the King's . . . with other great spoil amongst the ships, and houses alongst near the 'key' sore spoiled . . . which sudden blast did so terrify the Spaniards that they went howling about the street, crying like cats." If it had been low water, and the ships aground, they had all been burnt. Two barrels of powder blew up, one falling on the land, the other into a barque, which brought it to 'Callis' and showed it to M. Gurdine [Gourdan]. I send you my servant's letter, dated there on Thursday last.
The serjeant-major of Dunkirk reported to a friend that a post from Spain came to the Prince on the 25th "and he said for certain the fleet were gone to sea and should arrive at Brest in Brittany, and if there were a peace then they should come for Zeeland and Holland, and there to remain; if no peace, then they should go about the west parts for Scotland, and that M. de Guise shall be lieutenant-general to 50000 shots."— 'Calles', Saturday, 29 March, 1587 [sic].
Add. Endd. ¾ p. [France XVIII. 51.]
[Again this writer's dating is at fault. His servant wrote on April 6 n.s. which was a Wednesday; and March 29 o.s. was Friday, not Saturday.]
Renault le Normand to Mr. David Cabreth, at the Dragon, Calais.
Reporting his proceedings in his master's business affairs. Also the arrival of the bark from Holland professedly bringing only butter and cheese, but loaded below with powder, stones etc. ; its setting on fire by its crew, and the consequent damage to the town, to the same effect as in Cabreth's letter.—Dunkirk, 6 April, 1588.
Add. French (very bad). 1 p. [Ibid. XVIII. 52.]
March 31. Stafford to Burghley.
"By the copy that I send you (fn. 1) of the answer I make to her Majesty of that she commanded me to deliver to the King by her letters to me, your lordship shall perceive all the effect almost, while I am sure there shall be nothing hid from you, though Mr. Secretary writ to me that no living creature knew of the Queen's letter to me but her Majesty and himself. I beseech your lordship not to be aknown of having heard anything of me. Truly I never saw a more sensible and better thing penned in my life. I have done what I can to mar nothing in the delivery, and I think it will be a last touch-stone to try them.
"Mr. Secretary wrote to me of the ambassador's dealing with you about me upon a letter he received of a friend of his here, which letter I have seen the copy of, and find that it did nothing press him to do that which he did, for the letter was more than [was] needed, but yet nothing to move him to do anything in haste, till he heard more; but I think the ambassador was glad to have somewhat to speak of me.
"If Mr. Secretary, upon that which I writ to him—as I writ to you once—had showed me as much friendship as by others he professed to me, I might come out of this, for, as I writ to your lordship, I desired him to be a means only that that which remaineth here might not be called upon, that I might serve my turn of it till I came home, for I know that there are a great many that have deserved (in my conscience) a great deal less than I, have had greater favours. But he writ to me he durst not speak to her Majesty of it, and that was all the answer he made me; which was not that which I desired at his hands, for I desired him not to speak to her Majesty of it, knowing what choler any such 'demandeth' [sic] moveth her to, though men deserve never so well; but if he had been disposed to do me pleasure . . . he might have purchased the favour not to have that thought upon," in which case I would find means to content everybody. If your lordship can do it, I shall be most bound to you.
Mr. Secretary wrote that your lordship counselled me to declare my case to her Majesty, but knowing her humour and hearing nothing from you, I have not done it, expecting your good advice, "for truly, Mr. Secretary is very suspicious to me; I have found so many protestations and oaths one way, and so much double, hard dealing in effect."—Paris, 31 March, 1588.
Holograph. Add. Endd. by Burghley. 2 pp. [France XVIII. 53.]
March 31./April 10. Consuls and Senators of Hamburg to the Queen.
Learn from their citizens and subjects, Andrew Berandes senior, Daniel Brandes and Hermann Stove, that a dispute has arisen between them and her Majesty's subject, Richard Polteat, on account of some merchandise taken out of the said Richard's ship by her Majesty's seamen, and afterwards restored by them, but which Richard has hitherto detained. They have had one or two witnesses examined by the Hamburg commissioners and have prayed that the sworn statements may be transmitted to her Majesty, wtih letters in their favour; in order to secure the restoration of the detained merchandise:—
Knowing that their demands are just and that they are innocent from blame, the said consuls etc. pray her Majesty that they may obtain restitution of the merchandise unjustly detained from them.—10 April, 1588.
Add. Endd. Latin. 1 p. [Hamburg and Hanse Towns III. 3.]
March 31./April 10. Stephen Powle to Walsingham.
My last letter bore date the 26th of March. (fn. 2)
Rome, 26 March. On Tuesday there arrived here the Signor Lottario Conti, on his return from Flanders, whither he was sent by Cardinal Farnese. After reporting what he had treated, he went to compliment the Pope in the name of the Duke [of Parma], keeping secret so far the resolution he had taken in the matter of the marriage of the Prince his son, already determined by his Catholic Majesty; it being said now that it is to be with the daughter of the Duke of Braganza; once again mixing the Roman blood with that of Portugal.
It is confirmed from Spain that the Duke of Medina Sidonia has been made General of their Armada, and Don Sanchio di Leiva master of the camp, with the title of general of the Italian cavalry in all places belonging to his Catholic Majesty, who was sending to Rome the new Cardinal Mendoza to remain in this court with the charge of Protector of the kingdom of Castile, in place of the Cardinal Grand Duke [of Tuscany].
In consistory, the Pope said that in the month of April there would be completed the third million of gold; which three millions being sufficient to supply the occasions of the Apostolic See and preserve the security of its State, he wished in future to spend all the income in the service of the poor, in religious places, and in the adornment of the city; which would not only not burden the people in any way, but ease them of many burdens.
Prague, March 20. Within a few days they here expect the resolution of the King of Spain as to the affairs of Poland and the liberation of Maximilian; upon which there is to be a convocation in Lintz of all the Princes of the house of Austria, at which the Emperor will be present, the Germans showing themselves inclined to take arms in his favour.
Maximilian has stood godfather to a son of the Grand Chancellor, who has dismissed all his men of war in the kingdom, yet keeping good guard on the frontiers towards Silesia.
Venice, April 2. Letters from Lisbon of March 12, say that they were expecting with all diligence the embarkation on the fleet of all the men destined for that enterprize; who would be 28000 fighting men, besides the bombadiers, mariners and others, with great provisions of war as well as all necessaries for eight months at least, and that the Duke of Medina Sidonia would start without fail on March 20, not, as was said, for England, but against Algiers, on that expedition so much desired by Christendom, whence it is supposed that the galleys being made ready at Constantinople may be to go for the defence of the ports of that kingdom; whose passage will be opposed by Doria with his galleys, accompanied by the new ones of the Pope, with those of Malta, Sicily, Naples, Tuscany, Genoa, and some of those of Spain, the General of which will be the brother of the late Marques Sta. Croce; making in all a body of eighty very strong galleys; upon which enterprise, Don Alonso di Leiva would go to Milan as general of the cavalry. The Duke of Pastrano has arrived in Milan, and immediately gone post towards Flanders.
Although they give forth this report of the Imprese of Algiers, I still hold to my old opinion, "which is that because it maketh more for the honour of this vainglorious people to seem to prepare for offence rather than for defence, therefore they make show of some enterprise in hand, whereas these great preparations be only for fear Sir F. Drake, now being in a readiness with her Majesty's forces in more stronger manner than ever heretofore, should disturb his quiet possessions of the Indies, to the division of his revenue and ruin of his honour. For I never think of Spain's double face but I resemble him to both Alexander the 6th and his son Cæsar Borgia, of whom Guicciardin[i] giveth this note:—that the one never performed in action that which he protested in word to do, were it never with such solemnity; the other never gave forth in speech that which he meant to observe or practise afterward, which conditions, though seeming different, "be but one self-same dissimulation disguised. . . So that I cannot satisfy myself unless on every given occasion I set down my opinion of these Carthaginians, which is that Spain's oath is but fides Punica. His protestations be like the apples that they report grow not far from Mare Mortuum; beautiful without, but dust in the core and heart thereof. His presents be nothing else but Trojan horses; his best countenance is but risus Sardonicus, his embracings and entertainment of her Majesty's ambassadors in Flanders be Judaical kisses and Absalom's banquets, to slay (if it were possible) Hamon and by that means to sunder the sons of David the King of Israel. His plighted hand for performance will be like the Roman's to the Jew at the siege of Jerusalem that Josephus speaketh of; that when he reposed himself thereon, adventuring within his reach, was stabbed to the heart with these uttered words:—I gave thee my left hand.
"Both Spain's legs in my conceit be lame, and both his hands be left; so that there is nothing but halting and sinistra to be hoped for of him. . . ."
[Venice.] It is said now that the Grand Duke of Tuscany seems not to wish to marry save to the complete contentation of the King of Spain, with whom he endeavours to maintain the most confidential relations possible, seeking, as is said here, the investiture of Sienna for greater corroboration of the concession made to Duke Cosmo his father; and from Florence they write that great preparations are being made there to receive the Duke and Duchess of Mantua, who are coming to spend the Easter festival with the Grand Duke. Also that his Highness has had published a grant of confirmation of Don Antonio (fn. 3) in the Marquisate of Capestrano and all other properties which the Grand Duke Francesco gave to him, amounting to 48000 crowns of income, but with a clause that this is without prejudice to the rights of his brother, Don Pietro, (fn. 3) and that he may neither sell nor pledge anything whatsoever.
Rome. 2 April. M. Rischia is shortly expected here; sent by the new King of Poland to the Pope to give an account of his election, and to treat of the coming of his ambassador to offer his obedience. The Prince of Bisignano has arrived here from Naples, and is gone with Madame d'Urbino to Pesaro. It is said he is arranging for the return thither of the young Duchess of Urbino, who for some years has been at Ferrara with that Duke, her brother.
On Wednesday morning there was proclaimed here a very ample Jubilee, granted by his Holiness to render thanks to God for all that has happened during these last months in favour of the Catholics and to the hurt of the heretics; the Jubilee extending throughout Christendom.
In the church of Our Lady of Montserrato, belonging to the people of Aragon, there began on Sunday the forty hours of prayer for the happy success of the enterprise of the Catholic King, and the same is to be performed in all the churches belonging to the nations of that King; whose ambassador assisted therein with many prelates and lords; having prayers said in nearly all the religious places in Rome for this purpose. And in like manner, Cardinal Farnese has had the forty hours devotion in the church of San Lorenzo to pray for the happy success of his nephew the Duke of Parma in a very perilous business; whence it is believed that the preparations for war are ready to be put in execution, and there is anxious expectation to hear what will be done.
Venice, 8 April. Letters from Prague of the 16th of last month say that they cannot discover the mind of the Emperor as to the affairs of Poland, until the reply comes from Spain and the mind of the Catholic King is known. It is confirmed that the Grand Chancellor pays extraordinary honour to his Highness Maximilian, and some wish negotiations to be opened with him, hoping that being vexed by the coronation of the Swede, he will be willing to set free his Highness upon honourable terms. By the latest from Cracovia, we hear that he is ill of a fever, with a swelling of his whole body; but has been many times visited by the Queen dowager and also by the sister of King Sigismund, and is now better; the Grand Chancellor not having been wanting in all services, with the greatest friendliness.
From Florence they write that the Grand Duke was about to start for Pisa, intending to visit his whole state, where they are making preparations to receive him with all due ceremonies and rejoicings.
Milan, 3 April. On Thursday, the Duke of Mantua arrived here in his coach, and this morning left for Mantua. Signor Pirro Malvezzi is returned from Spain and gone to Casale to meet that Duke, with order, as is said, to raise 6000 foot for the English enterprise. Also that he has the place of Signor Giovanni Battista del Monte, [margin Colonel of the infantry].
It is likewise said that the King [of Spain] has given the Marquis Sta. Croce's charge to the Duke of Medina Sidonia, but if he goes into England, many say that he will not acknowledge the Duke of Parma as his superior; as also that he will not come here as governor of Milan, as his title is nothing inferior to that of the Duke of Osoria [sic. Ossuna] the Viceroy of Naples. But the Duke of Terra Nova has said to me that his Excellency will consign the Armada to the Duke of Parma and go himself into Flanders in the place of his Highness, who will depute whom he pleases as his lieutenant at sea; and he said further that the Armada was to start on the 20 of last month from Lisbon, where the Count of Fuentes remains, and that his place here i.e. "il Castellanato" is given to Don Alonzo di Leiva, who having conducted certain footmen to the Armada, will come into residence here.
"I send this last occurrent, which was delivered me this morning, to acquaint your honour rather with the report than the truth of these men's impreses, which doth show the uncertainty of their grounds, and the unlikelihood of any enterprise to be undertaken with such speed; for if their number be not yet made up that serve for England, because 6000 must be first levied out of the Duchy of Milan, surely the harvest is yet but green which they vaunt is ready to be reaped. Not four days since (as I came from Verona in the company of a young gentleman of Naples that was going into Flanders, as he told me (supposing me to be French) to have a share in the spoil of England) I heard this discoursed on: That the Armada being now in readiness to go forth; the Duke of Parma furnished with all things necessary for the Impresa by land, there wanted nothing (but certi piccioli impedimenti that the King of Scots had in his country by reason of his ministers, which he should forthwith take order in) to perfect the whole enterprise. The determination between whom and the King of Spain was to settle him in her Majesty's seat, and after to give him his daughter in marriage, and for her dowry to give her the Kingdom of Portugal. These great matters of moment, the Neapolitan had concluded in one half mile's riding. Many other such fabulous reports and dreams I daily hear. . . . .
"Sir F. Drake's picture was brought to Ferrara by a gen tleman that came out of France this last week, which being given to a painter to refresh, because the colours thereof were faded in the carriage, was so earnestly sought after to be seen that in one day's keeping the same, the picturer made more profit by the great resort from all places to behold it than if he had made it anew. About it were written these words:— Il Drago, quel gran corsaro Inglese. . . ." Venice, 10 April; stilo novo, 1588.
Add. Endd. 6 pp. [Newsletters LXXXI. 8.]
[The "Occurences" in Italian; Powle's comments in English.]


  • 1. This enclosure is not with the letter, but amongst Lord Burghley's papers at Hatfield, and is printed at length in the H. MSS. Comm. Report on the MSS. of the Marquis of Salisbury, iii, 314. In the first line of the letter, 77 is the French King, and, at the top of p. 317, 74 and 30 the Queen Mother and the Duke of Guise.
  • 2. Not now amongst the State Papers.
  • 3. Natural sons of Duke Francesco.