Simancas: September 1561

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: September 1561', Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 1, 1558-1567, (London, 1892), pp. 212-217. British History Online [accessed 16 June 2024].

. "Simancas: September 1561", in Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 1, 1558-1567, (London, 1892) 212-217. British History Online, accessed June 16, 2024,

. "Simancas: September 1561", Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 1, 1558-1567, (London, 1892). 212-217. British History Online. Web. 16 June 2024,

September 1561

13 Sept. 139. The Same to the Same.
I wrote to your Majesty on the 16th ultimo, and have since informed the duchess of Parma and Cardinal de Granvelle of recent events here. Although I know your Majesty has been kept advised thereof I briefly recapitulate the news.
The coming of the king of Sweden is still considered certain and such preparations are made that it is difficult to help thinking that he will come. I have used every effort to find out the secret of this business, but I can discover nothing more than, as I have told your Majesty, that the Queen does not think of marrying him and is in no pleasure at his coming. On the contrary she has lately tried openly to stop it. Since, however, the queen of Scotland decided to go to her kingdom, and the Scotch rebels did not gather to prevent her passage as this Queen wished, the latter has determined to dissemble with the Swede and let him come for fear he should marry her of Scotland. She (the queen of England) and her friends therefore wish to appear undecided and indifferent, and to give the idea that perhaps she may marry the Swede. Robert is consequently making a show of being very displeased, which I am sure is not really the case as he is in greater favour than ever. The king of Sweden's ambassador does not fail to see through this mystery, and says he has informed his master what he thinks about it, but nevertheless he is sure he will come, and he concludes that the only cause of his visit is the great affection he bears the Queen, and his desire to see her. Your Majesty may judge how likely it is that a new King, with a war on his hands, or suspicions of one, and whose power consists in his money alone, should come so long a voyage with so little reason and leave behind him all his property in the hands of a servant. What I suspect and many others think is that he is being brought over by the enemies of Robert, and that he is coming for a settled arrangement ; if not here then in Scotland. There is a statement made that an English merchant named John Dimock, who recently went to Sweden to sell some jewels to the King, told him not to fail to come to England on any account, as all the realm desired him. Dimock confesses that he said this on the instructions of Pickering and Yaxley (of the Queen's chamber.) It will be a strange thing to me if there is not something important under this visit if it takes place, for the King's people here do not seem to me so thoughtless as not to let him know his error if his coming here were so purposeless as they declare. I have already advised your Majesty of the imprisonment of Lady Catharine, and that the Queen had summoned the earl of Hertford who was in France. On his arrival he was examined and cast into the Tower. They say he confesses that Lady Catharine is his wife, and from the form of the confession and other indications, there is some suspicion that the marriage was effected with the connivance and countenance of some of the nobles, as I have said in former letters. They are now investigating this with all possible diligence. Great suspicions are entertained of the earl of Arundel with whom Lord Robert has had such words that the Earl went home and he and others are drawing up copies of the testimony given in the inquiry respecting the death of Lord Robert's wife. Robert is now doing his best to repair matters as it appears that more is being discovered in that affair than he wished. Some suspicion is also held of the earl of Bedford who is absent from the court. They say Robert is to be made earl of Exeter (Leicester).
What I understand by it all is that both Lady Catharine's marriage and the bringing over of the king of Sweden were arranged a year ago, after the death of Robert's wife, and that Cecil (who was then in great disgrace with the Queen and at enmity with Robert) was at the bottom of it in the fear that, in accord with common belief, the Queen would marry Robert and restore religion to obtain your Majesty's favour. Since Cecil has returned to the good graces of the Queen, and has satisfied himself that there will be no change of religion, he has gradually and cautiously separated himself from these negotiations, and is now endeavouring to hush up and amend the past, which he can very well do as he has absolutely taken possession of the Queen and Council, but he is so perplexed and unpopular that I do not know how he will be able to stand if there are any disturbances.
What is of most importance now, as I am informed, is that the Queen is becoming dropsical and has already began to swell extraordinarily. I have been advised of this from three different sources and by a person who has the opportunity of being an eye witness. To all appearance she is falling away, and is extremely thin and the colour of a corpse. I do not know whether the coming of this Swede is in consequence of any news he may have received of this malady of the Queen's, but I do know that the marchioness of Northampton, who is in a better position to judge than anyone else, is very intimate with the Swedish ambassador, and has received valuable presents from him. That the Marchioness and Lady Cobham consider the Queen in a dangerous condition is beyond doubt, and if they are mistaken I am mistaken also. I can obtain no more precise intelligence, but I think there is some foundation for what I say.
Whilst the talk of this King's coming continues, the Queen is using every precaution to ensure that the queen of Scots shall not marry anyone doubtful. She is doing this by persuading the Scots not to let their Queen marry a foreign prince, and offering to help and favour them if she will do as they (the English) tried to get her to do after the king of France died. As the earl of Arran is interested in this and many other Scots will benefit by it, the Scotch lords have given their Queen to understand that if she marries a foreigner they will withdraw their fealty. This news was brought five days ago by Ledington (fn. 1) who came here nominally about the ratification of peace requested by the queen of England. This Ledington is secretary of the queen of Scots, and served the same office last year to the congregation of rebels, where he managed everything. He has been welcomed here with his news because, not only would this marriage with the earl of Arran be very advantageous to the queen of England as ensuring her against any present danger from her of Scotland, but it would be a good example to show the English that their Queen also might marry a subject. Ledington returned at once, successful, he said, in the ratification of peace, but I am quite sure if she (the queen of Scots) does not act as her subjects ask her in the matter of her marriage, that an arrangement exists between the Scotch lords and this Queen here to resist her and to prevent the entrance into the kingdom of anyone coming to marry her.
The reason the queen of England did not prevent the Scotch queen from going to her country, as she had decided to do, was only because the earl of Arran and his band thought best not to slight her too soon, but considered it wiser to let her come and then take possession of her. I also understand that they have proposed to her to confirm the change of religion they adopted last year, and, in answer to this, and also about the marriage, she has told them she must have time to think carefully and cannot determine anything against her conscience. I am afraid they will press her so much that, if there are no foreign forces to protect her, her own friends will be unable to resist the rebels, fostered and countenanced by this Queen here. Mass is said in her house, but this has not been done without tumults and disturbances amongst the people, which disturbances the heretics themselves have tried to pacify for the present.
I enclose your Majesty a document which has been published here respecting the coming of the Abbé Martinengo. This was the answer which they had prepared for me when we were in negotiation, and which I refused to hear ; and they have therefore made up their minds to publish it under another title. It also contains the answer they gave me, which, in fact was, if I recollect aright, somewhat shorter and slightly different from this that they publish, but similar in substance. I am sure that your Majesty's council will consider certain points in this document which I think are worthy of consideration.
A letter from a certain Agustin Boacio, of Antwerp, has come into my hands directed to that Portuguese Captain Melchior, and by it I clearly see who they both are, and that Melchior was an emissary of Vendôme. The original is sent to the duchess of Parma and a copy to your Majesty.
The ships for Guinea have sailed. There are four great ships and two small vessels very well armed and provided, but with very little merchandise.
I also send a summary of the confessions made by the corsairs who were arrested in the Isle of Man, especially touching the communication and understanding they had with the five English ships which your Majesty's fleet seized in the Azores, which seizure has given so much offence here. It is proved by the statements of these corsairs that the folks on the five ships sold them cannon and bought of them the merchandise which they had stolen. This not so small an offence as to be undeserving of the demonstration that has been made. I send the statement so that your Majesty may be well informed when you are addressed on the subject. I know that Challoner has instructions to this effect. He leaves at the end of this month and will go by way of France.—London, 13th September 1561.
27 Sept.
Brussels Archives. B. M. MS., Add. 28,173a.
140. Bishop Quadra to the Duchess Of Parma.
I have received your Highness' letter of the 19th, ordering me to speak to the Queen about the ships that were being sent from here to the Mina. (fn. 2) The only news about this is that on the 11th instant four ships, two large and two small, left here for the Mina with the merchandise they usually take to those parts, and the shippers on board as supercargoes, with the usual crew for such a voyage, and whilst they were in the Straits of Dover a gale struck them and they had to lie to all night. The weather being very thick the two large ships called respectively the "Minona" and the "Primrose" fouled each other, and the spars, gear, and anchors getting entangled, the vessels were damaged so much that it was with the greatest difficulty the "Minona" could get to Harwich, whilst the "Primrose" arrived at Portsmouth only slightly less maltreated. When news of this came (although I am not sure) they decided to fit out other ships, but as the season is very far advanced I have not cared to speak to the Queen about the matter as directed in your Highness' letter. I will keep my eyes open, and if I see any intention of fitting out fresh ships for this voyage I will at once speak to the Queen about it, and in the meantime I have not failed to let Secretary Cecil know what has been done in this matter. They excuse themselves by saying that the Queen had sold these ships to certain merchants here, and they cannot prohibit them from going to buy and sell their wares where they think fit, and I have no doubt this is the answer that the Queen will give me when I speak to her about it. They will give me no advice even if they decide to send the ships, but will put me off with fair words and do as they like. I had always heard that there were to be seven of these ships, and that they would carry over a thousand men, and Brittany cloth to the value of 30,000 ducats, but I was told afterwards that they had changed their plans and that only four ships sailed without any extra men on board. I sent a man of my own to make enquiries, and he has returned with the information I have given. Many think that the other three ships with the cloths will sail from France, and join the rest, and that the Portuguese I wrote of came about this affair. I have not heard that he has proposed any contract with the Sheriff but this about the voyage to the Mina and attacking ships from the Indies. I am informed of this by people belonging to the house itself. (fn. 3) It is now certain that the king of Sweden embarked from the port of Nilos (Newles) with all his fleet, but the storm of the 12th and 13th, they say, has driven him back to Norway again. This news is brought by one of his ships that has entered Dover, with horses, and some of his people who have all new liveries and accoutrements, so that they may well be believed. As to the reason for his coming I can only repeat what I have said, that the queen has not summoned him.
Lady Catherine was delivered of a boy three days ago. The Queen claims that the marriage is not to be considered valid as there was no witness, although both Catharine and the Earl (Hertford) declare they are married. If they do not like to say, however, who were the witnesses, or that any other persons know of the marriage the act will be held illegal. Notwithstanding this, the Queen is not without anxiety about it, and I will not fail to advise your Highness of all that may happen in regard to the business.—London, 27th September 1861.
27 Sept.
Simancas, B. M. MS., Add. 26,056a.
141. Bishop Quadra to Count De Feria.
I think I might hear something of my departure which I desire as much as my salvation. Here my stay only results in my being the witness of the wretched state of public affairs, and the sufferings of people whom I cannot relieve. Everything I can say and do has been said and done both here and there, and all to no purpose. The penance will not last much longer, and after all it is a great satisfaction for a man to think that he has done all that in him lay. I would rather speak to your Lordship about this than write it. London, 27th September 1561.


  • 1. William Maitland laird of Lethington.
  • 2. Elmina on the West Coast of Africa.
  • 3. The writer was correct in his information. The Portuguese Captain Melchior had come to England with letters of introduction from Throgmorton in Paris to propose an expedition to a place 30 leagues "beyond the Straits" towards Cape de Verd with iron, tin, &c. He said the Sheriff was king of the place, and that as he, Melchior, had been ambassador of the French King to the Sheriffs, he alone would be well received. See letter from Throgmorton to Cecil, 26 July 1561. Calendar of State Papers (Foreign). By another letter from Throgmorton to Leicester, of similar date, it would appear that the money for the venture was found by Leicester, the Lord Mayor, and a Mr. Alderman Carret.