Simancas: February 1560

Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 1, 1558-1567. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1892.

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, 'Simancas: February 1560', in Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 1, 1558-1567, (London, 1892) pp. 122-132. British History Online [accessed 29 May 2024].

. "Simancas: February 1560", in Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 1, 1558-1567, (London, 1892) 122-132. British History Online, accessed May 29, 2024,

. "Simancas: February 1560", Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 1, 1558-1567, (London, 1892). 122-132. British History Online. Web. 29 May 2024,

February 1560

3 Feb. 85. The Bishop of Aquila to the King.
I received your Majesty's letter of 24th December some six days since enclosing another for the Queen, to whom I sent it at once, as I was indisposed, in order that she might, if she pleased, reply thereto by her ambassadors, who were leaving. In accordance with your Majesty's instructions I have again told her how undesirable it is for her to remain unmarried, and how great is the danger which results to the tranquillity of her country. I then showed her the advantage that might be expected from a match with the Archduke, seeing how much your Majesty desires it. She replied that she had very good reasons by which she could prove to me that it was not desirable that she should marry at present, but that the reason why she did not marry was really only because she could not incline herself to change her state, and she did not know how long this condition of mind would last, but she was quite certain she would never desire to marry until she had seen the person who was to be her husband, and so we are brought back again to the old position of which your Majesty treats in the last part of your letter. Since, however, we know that the Emperor will not send his son until she is willing to treat of marriage, nothing more can be done than to urge her afresh to consider how desirable it is for her to come to a decision. I reminded her that I had never proposed to her in your Majesty's name that the Archduke should come, either officially or as a settled thing, and this she admitted. I manifested dissatisfaction at her reply, and said that as the Emperor was content not to bind her until she had seen and approved of the person of the Archduke, I did not think any excuse was left to her, and she again answered me that nothing would suffice to make her think of marrying, or even treating of marriage ; but the person she was to marry pleasing her so much as to cause her to desire what at present has no wish for, and if this was not the case it was no good thinking that she would ever marry at all. If the Emperor thought it did not suit him to send his son until she had expressed her desire, she, for her part, did not choose to declare it until she had seen the person she was expected to love. Notwithstanding all this she still thought she would consider the matter, and ordered me to wait whilst she entered her chamber, where she remained an hour with Cecil. When she came out she repeated what she had already said, but in such a way as to try to persuade me that, in any case, the visit of the Archduke might not be altogether fruitless. I see no other course than to leave this question to the Emperor as your Majesty does in your letter, but with small hope of good result. I said I would inform your Majesty of her answer. I have considered this with Count de Helfenstein, who is very well pleased, and has said as much to his master. He still thinks the Archduke might come, as he is of opinion that on his arrival he would have so many adherents that the Queen would have to marry him, whether she liked him or not. He says the duke of Bavaria has written to him saying that he also is of opinion that the Archduke should come, and he has offered the Emperor to accompany him and spend 100,000 crowns on the voyage. I also understand that the king of Bohemia is of the same opinion, and urges strongly the Archduke's visit. In the letter I wrote to your Majesty on the 15th of October, although at the time we did not know the Queen's decision, I pointed out her way of proceeding, and I understand now every day more clearly that her intention was solely to embroil your Majesty with the French. I ventured to say that the way to ensure our business and decide the Queen to this marriage was to keep her in doubt as to your friendship, and even in a state of fear and alarm. I dared to write thus, because I thought that we who are on the spot are bound to say all we feel, even though we may be called imprudent, and thereafter strictly to obey and fulfil the orders we receive. I have tried to act in this way all through the business, and I do not think the Queen or anyone else can say that a word has come from me against your Majesty's wish and intention to keep her in a good humour, although really affairs have sometimes assumed such an aspect that I have not been able to refrain from speaking out and showing discontent of her words and actions. My zeal for religion and your Majesty's service will never cause me to contravene your Majesty's orders, because I know that you will command me to do what is best for both of these objects, but I cannot refrain from remarking that for the attainment of your Majesty's present aim, which is the preservation of the actual state of things, I do not think that anything would be less conducive than to let them drift loose as they are doing now. This course may produce very ill results, besides having allowed these people to bring public affairs to their present pass, and to have misdirected the religious question in Scotland in such a way as to have brought about the relations which now subsist between them and France. There are 2,000 Flemish heretic householders in Scotland (?) where also all the Spaniards who come are well received, and a remedy will soon have to be found for all this. I do not think the remedy is a difficult one, considering the small resources of this country and its present condition, nor do I think that there is much danger of their being able to unite with your Majesty's enemies. I dare to say this that your Majesty may not lose your gracious opinion of my desire to serve God and your Majesty to the best of my ability, on which account I beg your Majesty to pardon my boldness. The Queen's ambassadors have left to embark at Plymouth. The instructions they bear are to propose to your Majesty a renovation of the league, and if they are approached on the religious question to fence and temporise as I have written on former occasions. They are to answer in the question of the marriage as if the delay had all been through the fault of the Emperor in not sending his son. The sum of it all is that if they could turn the French out of the island and join the kingdoms, either by marriage or a union of religion, they think the alliance with your Majesty might well be dispensed with ; but if that cannot be brought about they want to have these negotiations pending with your Majesty, so as to make use of you in good time. The Catholics here cannot believe that your Majesty will renew the league with this country, unless the religion is restored, and I think Viscount Montague will try on his part to effect this. Doctor Cole (fn. 1) sent two days since to tell me that if your Majesty abandoned them they would appeal to the French, or even to the Turks, rather than put up with these heretics. They never gave the Viscount leave to see me alone, but he is very desirous that your Majesty should receive him privately, and he says if it were not for going to offer his respects to your Majesty and informing you about things here, he would rather lose his head than accept an office from the Queen. I dismissed the Irishman as soon as he told me of the despatch of the prior to Spain, and I expect nothing more will be heard here of the business ; but even if they should hear of it I am not likely to suffer, as I have said nothing that could thought suspicions. I have merely used general expressions to avoid his having recourse to the French, who I think would hear him willingly, as it would suit them in their Scotch enterprise. The Queen perseveres diligently in her design to turn the French out of Scotland, and things have recently been going badly with them, both in the wreck of the Marquis d'Elbœuf and the losses they have suffered on land. As soon as M. de Martigues, a general of infantry, had landed, the sailors went over to the enemy with the ship and all his property. Four more ships have been seized in an English port, two of them loaded with wheat and barley, one with wine, and one with soldiers, who therefore can neither go to Scotland, nor return to France. La Marche, (fn. 2) one of the king of France's grooms of the chamber, arrived here some days ago on his way to Scotland. The Queen gave him a passport, but notwithstanding this the Scotch captured him as he passed Berwick, it is supposed by orders from here, as they made him wait a day in Berwick. The French ambassador complained to the Queen, and she appeared surprised.
George Howard (fn. 3) has gone as general of cavalry, and Lord Grey as adviser of the duke of Norfolk. They say there will be over 1,500 horse and 15,000 infantry, but they will have to make haste in what they are going to do, as I understand that such is the scarcity of victuals in all that country that they cannot keep the field over a month. The Queen is providing herself with money very diligently, and her factor in Antwerp sent her this week a part of 200,000 ducats they have raised there, and the rest is coming in daily.
The Queen has just sent to France an Englishman called Tremaine, a great heretic who was to disembark in Brittany. I understand that he goes backwards and forwards with messages to the heretics in that country, between whom and those in this country a close understanding exists. They have ordered 15 more ships to be got ready here to guard the coast on the continent side, and I also understand that the French have sent for 12 galleys to go to Calais. The Marquis d'Elbœuf will soon be ready with another fleet to go to Scotland, but I do not know whether he will be in time.
The Queen the other day ordered a servant who was here of Lady Margaret Lennox to tell the Council what his mistress had instructed him to say. Directly they had heard him they had him arrested and sent for his mistress. I understand that what she represented was that as she (Lady Margaret) was the nearest relative to the queen of Scotland and next in succession to the crown, she sent to beg the queen of England not to favour the duke of Châtelherault, nor his sons, and not to enter into war with the French on this account, as she was sure that if the queen of Scots were to die without sons the French would certainly give her (Lady Margaret) possession of the country.
These people are cleverly making sure of all the Catholics of whom they have any suspicion by summoning them hither on various excuses. The earls of Shrewsbury and Northumberland are already here as well as a gentleman called Leonard Chamberlain, who is governor of Guernsey. They are keeping him here and depriving him of the governorship which your Majesty bestowed upon him for his life and that of his heir.
I thank your Majesty for the 3,000 crowns ordered to be paid for my maintenance.
Since writing the above I am assured that Tremaine is going about a certain treaty of great importance, although he declares he is going on other matters to the house of the Marchioness de Nesle. —London, 3rd February 1560.
7 Feb,
Brussels Archives, B. M. French MS., Add. 28,173a.
86. Bishop Quadra to the Duchess of Parma.
I wrote to your Highness three days since by a courier named John Xquipens, who brought me some letters from certain Hollanders respecting reprisals. By him I replied to your Highness' despatches on 15th and 23rd ultimo, and advised you of all matters here. Since then I have learnt that on the day of the Purification the Queen ordered all the English people who were attending mass at the French Ambassador's to be arrested. This was done with very little respect for the ambassador, and in the presence of a multitude of people who had collected before the house to witness the arrests. On the same day an Englishman came to my house whilst Mass was being said and entered the chapel to see those who were present. He left with some threatening words against them, although no one in my household took any notice of it at the time, and no mention of it has been made since. The reason of this step was that the Queen had heard that there were many people in London who attended mass, as indeed there are very many, and she feared that this might be a means of their carrying on clandestine communications with the French Ambassador. She has therefore ordered that great vigilance should be exercised in future in this matter, and I expect they wish in this way also to hinder the congregation of catholics who meet together where Mass is said. On the other hand she is trying to please them somewhat by ordering the restoration of the crosses on the altars which would have been already ordered but for the confusion and dissension amongst the heretic bishops themselves and others who have charge of religious matters.
On the same day, whilst the earl of Arundel and the Admiral were in the Queen's presence chamber they began discussing this question, and on the Admiral saying that those who were disobedient in religious matters ought to suffer an exemplary and severe punishment, the earl of Arundel replied that such punishment would be inexpedient and unsafe, and might result unfavourably to the Queen's interests. They thereupon not only came to rough words, but fell to fisticuffs and grabbing each other's beards. The Queen passed it over and pretended not to have seen it, calling them to her to play before her so that they might be obliged to talk together and so make peace. This was done, but with a great sacrifice of the Queen's dignity, and really everyone here does now what best pleases him, and at the very gates of London robberies are committed in broad daylight. Only the day before yesterday one of Paget's servants took one of his master's daughters from the house and carried her to his own. They say he will marry her, and I hear that the affair was not done without the connivance of powerful people who bear ill will to Paget. He is so grieved that I really think it will kill him. The duke of Holstein is expected here, and. Somerset House has been set apart for him. They say also that the son of the king of Sweden is expected, and that he will come with a large number of ships and a great sum of money. I have not written about this as I have considered it a piece of gossip, and also that he cannot arrive in time to influence the matters which now absorb them, namely, the turning of the French out of Scotland before any more troops can be sent thither by the king of France. If His Majesty (the king of Spain) do not interfere the help of the Swedish fleet will not be of much use to them without the aid of those who can divert the French forces on land.
The English ships have had a brush with some French before Leith. The affair is related in different ways by both sides, but it is certain that although no great damage has been done as yet, they have come to blows. The English say the French were the aggressors and bombarded them from an island opposite Leith, and the French assert that the others went to steal the island from them under the guise of friendship. All concur in saying that the French have left the open and retired to their fortresses where they are much pressed. The Queen received a post yesterday, but they are more guarded with me even than with the French so that I have not yet been able to learn the facts.—London, 7th February 1560.
11 Feb.
Simancas, B.M. MS., Add. 26,056a.
87. Bishop Quadra to the Count De Feria.
The Catholic religion has been suppressed in Ireland, although not without great opposition. I cannot write about this as I should like as I am so troubled and, perhaps, it would make your Lordship more troubled still if I were to tell you what I suspect about it. Suffice to say that if we are content to let God's cause go by the board it will not take much to drag us down with it.
The Queen rides out every day into the country on a Neapolitan courser or a jennet to exercise for this war, seated on one of the saddles they use here. She makes a brave show and bears herself gallantly.
In short, the people here are full of warfare and armaments.— London, 12th February 1560.
12 Feb.
Brussels Archives, B. M. French MS. Add. 28,173.
88. Bishop Quadra to the Duchess of Parma.
On the 6th instant I wrote to your Highness by the regular courier from Antwerp. The news since then is that the Queen has ordered more troops to be raised, and they say she will fit out as many as five-and-twenty ships besides those she has already. This work has been commenced with all haste, and I also understand that she has obtained 300,000 ducats on the credit of the king of Sweden, which are being brought from Bremen or Lubeck. I do not know whether these preparations are made out of fear that these being made by the French may be for the purpose of the invasion of this country on the Cornish coast to divert these people from Scotch affairs. The news from Scotland is the same as I wrote to your Highness last week, namely, that the Queen's ships had maltreated and even captured some French ships, and had stationed themselves at the mouth of the Frith on an islet called May, so that it would appear impossible that succour can reach the French that way. The duke of Norfolk was to leave in the middle of the month with the land forces, Lord Grey going in command of the cavalry as lieutenant of the duke, and George Howard as colonel of a thousand horse.
There arrived here this week two sloops, one belonging to Henry Cornels and the other Mathias Gorjas, Flemings, loaded with arms, which are being landed at the Tower of London.
Rigorous proceedings are being taken against those who are discovered to have attended mass, and in Ireland the Parliament passed the same decree about religion as here, although against great opposition, and in spite of the refusal of the earl of Desmond and others to take any part in it. Preachers and books are being sent there, whilst on the other hand the Queen insists that the crosses shall be again restored, and the altars placed in the churches ; but on these points there is very great division among these bishops.
Count Helfenstein is in great trouble because, he says, Preyner has written to him that he had given your Highness an account of affairs here and had received no reply, as he expected. He also tells him privately that he had heard that His Majesty was going to send his son here, but I think Preyner must be mistaken in this, as does the Count.
A new French ambassador has arrived here, the former one being a creature of the Constable not having been satisfactory. I have learnt that two Scotsmen of rank are hidden in Cecil's house, but I have not been able to discover who they are, although some people think the earl of Arran is one of them. I hear also that two men arrived here from Sweden three days ago with letters for the King's son here, and I am told they do not bring favourable news about the prince of Sweden's coming. He spoke to the Queen after he had received the despatch, and was apparently dissatisfied. I think they are treating him in the same way as they did the Archduke Charles, and that the king of Sweden does not care to send his son on so uncertain a business as this is, seeing the answer the Queen gives to all who approach her about her marriage. Last night a courier was despatched to the duke of Norfolk, and I understand he is instructed to enter Scotland with the troops he has without waiting for the whole force to be collected. They say that two of the principal of the Scotch rebels have gone over to the Queen Regent's side. If once they begin to do that these people will find themselves very much deceived.—London, 12th February 1560.
19 Feb. 89. Bishop Quadra to the King.
Since mine of 3rd instant, the following has happened. Three days ago I was talking to the Queen on other matters when she turned the conversation to the marriage again. I had no desire to avoid the subject, but I did not wish to deal with it formally, so I begged her to think over what I had so often said, and if she had anything fresh to say to send for Count Helfenstein, which she said she would. Her one theme is to complain of the Emperor, and make out that the difficulty arises from him. Yesterday she sent for the Count and for me, and gave us to understand in a roundabout way that the fault of the business not being concluded lay with the Emperor for not sending his son. The Count thought well to show her the last instructions he had from the Emperor, in which His Majesty agrees to send his son if she only wants to satisfy herself as to his person. In sight of this she said that although she thought the needs of her kingdom and the pressure of her subjects would render it necessary for her to marry soon, she will not say that she is determined to marry the Archduke, even though his person should satisfy her, until she has seen him. The Count was not satisfied with this, and they agreed that she should again write to the Emperor about it, and show the letter to the Count before it was sent. If he approves of it the letter is to go, and if not it is to be withdrawn. He told her plainly that if she did not promptly make up her mind, and that in a better way than hitherto, he expected orders to return home, which seemed to trouble her exceedingly, as she perceives that her tricks are being seen through. The son of the king of Sweden wants to go home too, and she understands that if the Count departs, not only will the French despise her but her own people as well, and in the event of the Scotch business turning out badly for her, as it probably will, she will be left helpless. I do not treat this matter with her as I formerly did, as I want her to understand that I am not deceived by her, and shall not fail to let your Majesty know what I think. The Count also does his duty with a sufficiently high hand. He thinks that if she could be got to write to the Emperor in such a way as would allow him to risk sending his son, the Archduke should come post at once, before she or anyone else knew of his coming or expected him, and she would then be forced immediately on his arrival either to accept him or reject him, which it is impossible she would dare to do, seeing that all the country desires him, and knows the match with him would bring honour and defence as well as the favour of your Majesty. It would seem also that she could not possibly make use of this unexpected and sudden visit of the Archduke either as a screw on the French or as a stopgap for her own people, nor, indeed, for any of her purposes ; but on the contrary would find herself outwitted if she thought to use it for any such end. I, for my part, still believe that she will not write to the Emperor in such a way as to allow him to send his son. The French are very anxious to know what is being done in this marriage, and their newly arrived ambassador here, the Queen tells me, has spoken to her about it very artfully. He has also asked me a good many questions about it, by which I understand that he means to upset it if opportunity occurs.
The other day the Queen's ships which went to Scotland entered the Frith and arrived off Leith fort, whence the French opened fire upon them and damaged two of the ships. The English shot at them and placed their artillery on a small island near the fort, but they could do no damage as they were too far off. In the meanwhile three French ships came up with munitions and stores, and the English went at them and drove them ashore on the land held by the rebels who sacked them, and they were afterwards taken by the English ships which still remain at the same place and provide themselves with what they require from the Scotch by purchase, having refused to accept supplies without payment. The Queen Regent sent a trumpeter from Edinburgh to ask the English whether they came as friends or foes, and if they had been sent by the queen of England and meant to help the rebels. The Queen says that Winter, the vice-admiral, answered that they had come there as friends, but had found enemies, and that the queen of England having sent them to Berwick, the weather had forced them to the place where they were and that they did not mean to help the rebels, only in so far as they were unjustly treated by the Queen Regent. The Queen Regent sent to ask the same questions of the duke of Norfolk who was at Newcastle, and who answered that he came to the frontier only to protect the realm of England. Five or six days ago both the French ambassadors, the old one and the one that has just arrived, went together to the Queen and showed her a letter from the Queen Regent of Scotland in which, as this Queen avers, there were certain injurious expressions about her. The rest of the letter contained an account of what had passed with the ships, differing however from the English account in saying that the vessels had arrived there in perfectly fine weather in no need or danger, and they had replied to the trumpeter to the effect that it was true they had come to help the Congregation as persons who were being oppressed and aggrieved by the French. After the ambassadors had shown this letter, they said the Queen Regent would send hither a herald to ask on what terms this Queen wished to be with her, as friend or foe, and on the Ambassador Noailles leaving, he asked her to decide on this point as he wished to send word to his master. She answered them very confusedly and at last said she would send her decision. The next day she sent Cecil and Mason to them to say that she would be friendly or otherwise with the French according as they gave her cause to be. They then wanted to know whether the cause was already given or whether it was only feared it might be given in the future. The answer was that they could best judge of that by their own actions and intentions. I think they have discussed here all the various grievances and complaints that both parties have against each other. So far as concerns the arms and title assumed by the king of France, there would probably be no great difficulty in the French abandoning them, but as regards withdrawing their troops from Scotland and leaving the country to the natives, which is the point upon which all turns, they say they will never consent to it. The English on the other hand set forth that without this they shall never be safe, and the people whom the French call rebels the English regard as true and faithful subjects of their Queen, as they only seek to free their country from the tyranny of the French. In short they could not agree, and the ambassador sent a courier to France to be followed by the Ambassador Noailles. They feel sure that the marquis of Elbœuf, who will leave Dieppe this week with 10 ships will be attacked by the English, and I believe they are not mistaken as the Queen first and Cecil afterwards told me about it, and said that they will use every effort to turn the French out of Scotland and to prevent help reaching them, especially victuals, of which they are certainly in sore need. I do not see how she can deal with the French in any other way, or satisfy the Scotch whom she has promised not to come to terms unless they do so first.
There have lately been here two Scotsmen, a secretary of their Council and another gentleman. The French think it was the earl of Arran himself. They came to bring the treaties signed and scaled by all the members of the Congregation, and have taken back the Queen's signature. Twelve hostages will be sent to the duke of Norfolk who will select six. They say that the earl of Huntly has sent his son, Lord Gordon, to the duke of Norfolk to assure him that he, five Earls and four Barons will go over to the side of the Congregation on receiving certain assurances and help from the Queen. The latter says she does not think of sending any land forces at present as the Scotch do not need them, but only artillery and stores, but when it may be necessary, she will send 2,000 veteran troops she has at Berwick, besides some 5000 more scattered along the frontier, and 1,600 horsemen for her safety. The Queen also says that the French will send one of the three ships they have taken with means to fortify a town which she thought was Eyemouth, although the French say they were only going to fortify St. Andrews. I replied to this relation made to me by the Queen and Cecil by showing great disapproval of what is being done on both sides, and I have not been silent about the evil which may arise from the delay of Viscount Montague who left here 20 days ago, and has not embarked yet for want of a vessel. All this shows how small is the desire of the Queen to consult your Majesty on her affairs. The Queen and Cecil answered me that they devoutly wished your Majesty would consider them and mediate. I told the Queen I thought it late in the day to talk about meditation and settlement, as the question would be decided by the end of March, to which she answered that she well knew that even though they turned out the French now they would remain in constant war with them, and the French would bring all their power against this country as she had heard they were preparing to do. I did not care to give any reply to this about the mediation, but I tried to find out what preparations she referred to as being made by the French. The Queen says she has seen letters from the Rheingraf to a certain colonel in the pay of the king of Denmark, to the effect that he is to try to fit out 40 vessels in Hamburg to embark cavalry and infantry for Scotland, and that he promised to land his soldiers where there was plenty to be gained and good quarters to be had. In addition to this they have learnt that the Duke d'Aumale is getting ready a great fleet with warlike material to be sent to this country. Both the Queen and Cecil assured me of this, and it is plain they are now really alarmed, so that those who advised the Queen to begin this war are very uneasy about it. The earl of Arundel and the Admiral came to blows on the subject in the palace the other day ; Arundel having said that those who had plunged the Queen into war were traitors to her. Certainly there is not a man high or low in the county who is not dissatisfied, and their only hope rests on this marriage with the Archduke ; but the Queen must hear but little of it, for I see no attempt at improvement, either in action or appearances. In fact her carelessness increases, and ruin to her and others is the only result to be expected.
The Parliament held in Ireland ended in the issue of a decree changing the religion to that of England, but they only passed it with so much opposition and tumult that five bishops have been arrested, and a great number of the knights and noblemen of the island, amongst whom are the earl of Desmond and Grand O'Neil (fn. 4) would not take part in the passing of it. The decree has been carried out in Dublin, and the rest of the country has been given until May.
Duke Adolph is expected here soon. It was he who sent the Rheingraf's letters I have mentioned, and he is coming to try to marry the Queen.
It is said here that Hans Guillem of Saxony is raising troops and declares that he is going to war against the king of Denmark, but I am not sure whether this is not another French trick if they have not succeeded in doing what the Rheingraf wanted, shipping troops at Hamburg.


  • 1. The Catholic dean of St. Paul's.
  • 2. La Marque.
  • 3. Sir George Howard, the Master of the armoury.
  • 4. Shan or John O'Neil, who was frequently called by his friends in Ireland O'Neil the Great.