Simancas: November 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: November 1561', in Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 1, 1558-1567, (London, 1892) pp. 217-222. British History Online [accessed 21 May 2024].

. "Simancas: November 1561", in Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 1, 1558-1567, (London, 1892) 217-222. British History Online, accessed May 21, 2024,

. "Simancas: November 1561", Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 1, 1558-1567, (London, 1892). 217-222. British History Online. Web. 21 May 2024,

November 1561

15 Nov.
Brussels Archives. B. M. MS., Add. 28,173a.
143. Bishop Quadra to the Duchess Of Parma.
Two days ago there arrived here a gentleman from Scotland, named Graeme, sent by the queen of Scots' council respecting the ratification which is still in dispute, but with great hopes of a friendly settlement, according to this man. I have not yet been able to learn in what particulars the English dissent. This man says that his Queen has reduced the number of her Council to seven members, neither the duke of Chatelherault nor his son the earl of Arran being amongst them. On the contrary, they demanded that the Duke should surrender the Castle of Dumbarton, which he did at once, and both he and his son are now absent from the court, dissatisfied as are all their adherents. Those in the confidence of the Queen are her brother Mr. James (fn. 1) (who has placed the castles of Edinburgh and Stirling in the hands of her uncles), and the earl of Huntly (Ontelet), who has taken the lead of the Catholic party in the country, and they are daily through him urging the Queen to restore the old religion. They say that he (Huntly) has presented a petition to the Queen to this effect, accompanied by a long and prudent discourse proving that unless religion is restored, ruin to the country must result. Notwithstanding this, Mr. James is of exactly the contrary opinion, and is trying to get married, and be made an earl in exchange for the Priory of St. John, which he now holds. He is already Treasurer-General, and is endeavouring to appropriate to the Crown the revenues of the abbeys and monasteries to which the Queen does not object, as it is said that these revenues will bring her in nearly 300,000 ducats, without touching the bishoprics and secular benefices. This man from Scotland also says that such is the hatred of the earl of Arran that nobody now opposes the marriage of the Queen with a foreigner or anyone else the Queen wishes. There are many who approve of the suit of the king of Denmark. (fn. 2) Two days ago six young Oxford students were thrown into the Tower or London. They were brought before the Council on a charge of having resisted the Mayor who had gone to take away the crucifix from their college chapel, and they not only confessed that they had done so, but said they were Catholics and took the sacrament as such, and they even offered to dispute publicly or privately with the heretics respecting the sacrament. The Council were quite scandalized to hear such freedom of talk, but the Mayor assured them the whole place was of the same opinion, and there were not three houses in it that were not filled with papists ; whereat the Council were far from pleased, and told the Mayor to take care not to say such a thing elsewhere.
Dionisius. the former ambassador of the king of Sweden here, is expected. They say he is coming to reside here, which does not look as if the King were coming at present.
Proclamation was made here to-day that no Spanish gold or silver money shall be current, and that anyone possessing such is to take it to the Mint, where it will be paid for according to its weight. This is no doubt to give the Queen a profit on it, as was done in the case of other prohibited monies, English and foreign.—London, 15th November 1561.
27 Nov. 144. Bishop Quadra to the King.
I wrote to your Majesty on the 11th ultimo (fn. 3) the news from here, and have since then kept the duchess of Parma and Cardinal de Granvelle informed of events.
Your Majesty will have learnt the answer they gave me here lately about the navigation of the Mina when I broached the subject by instructions of the duchess of Parma, and on the 16th instant I received despatches from the king of Portugal, enclosing letters for the Queen and some of the Council, in which he orders me to endeavour to obtain the disarming of the ships which are being fitted out here for that voyage. I again spoke to the Queen about it at a propitious moment when I thought I might persuade and not shock her. She answered me the same as before, as your Majesty will see by copies of all the letters enclosed. Discussing this matter with Cecil alone the other day he said to me that the Pope had no right to partition the world and to give and take kingdoms to whomever he pleased. As I saw some time ago this idea is the real reason which has moved them to oppose the legality of these denunciations much more than any profit they expect to get, although it is certain that their action goes hand in hand with Vendôme's claims in Navarre, and both of them think that this navigation business will be a good pretext for breaking the peace. They believe that your Majesty must necessarily uphold the Pope's authority against which both here and in Germany all will join. I feigned not to understand Cecil's meaning, and treated the matter as concerning the king of Portugal only, without showing any particular feeling. The said ships left Portsmouth three weeks ago under convoy, with five French ships well armed. The four English ships belong to the Queen, although they say she has sold them to London merchants to whom their cargoes belong, but I am assured that Gunston, the Controller of the Navy, has been promised 15 per cent. of what the ships bring back. They carry cut-timber, artillery, munitions, arms, and victuals, for a year in greater quantity than is required for their own use.
On the 16th instant both Protonotary Foix, a relative of Madam de Vendôme, and Señor Moreta (Morette), the ambassador of the duke of Savoy, arrived here and have since gone on to Scotland, although Foix went four days before Moreta, who visited the French ambassador as soon as he arrived. He afterwards came to see me and gave me a letter of recommendation from his master, which, however, he did not explain to me until he had spoken twice with the Queen. I understand from him and from others that he came at the instance of Cardinal Ferrara with the idea that he might persuade the Queen to send ambassadors to the Concilio. He was led to this by what the earl of Bedford declared when he was in France last winter to the effect that the Queen wished the Concilio to be held. This was the cause, as I understand, of the coming also of the Abbé Martinengo, Moreta having been deceived by the Earl then as he has been now. If they had understood that Bedford's professions were only a device for uniting these people here with the French heretics and hindering the Concilio, as they have done, under the pretence of favouring it, there would have been no need either for the duke of Savoy to send the Abbé, nor for Cardinal Ferrara to send Moreta on such a hopeless errand. I believe that the Queen has answered him by referring to the reply which was given to me in May about the visit of the Abbé, and when he said that he would discuss the matter with me if the Queen wished she said there was no need to speak about it to me or anyone else, as it was a subject which might cause uneasiness in the country. She said she would answer a letter he handed her from Cardinal Ferrara through her ambassador, Throgmorton. I also imagined that he tried to persuade her to marry, and mentioned the Emperor's sons, the dukes of Ferrara and Nemours and the prince of Florence, but this talk about the marriage was only to smooth over the question of the Concilio with something more agreeable. I think he bears instructions seriously to propose marriage to the queen of Scots, and is to submit the names of Nemours and Ferrara. This was the reason for Vendôme, as soon as he heard of his coming, sending Foix in the name of the king of France, on pretence of a mere visit, to prevent Nemours' being accepted, alleging his pending matrimonial dispute in France, and the Queen (of England) being advised of this kept Moreta here some days after the other had left, so that the latter should arrive and settle his business first. These people here are ill-pleased at what Moreta has proposed on the part of the Duke, his master, as it is very different from their desires, and even from what they think Vendôme and his brother and the admiral of France aim at. I understand that Lord Robert lately sent a letter secretly and despatched a servant of his to Vendôme and the admiral offering them friendship and alliance, they on their part promising to help and sustain him in his marriage with the Queen. It is certain that this was done by her wish, as I know Lord Robert would never dare to do it otherwise. Last year when he wished to write and send a special messenger to your Majesty on a similar errand he was unable to do so as she would not allow it.
In conversation with the Queen about the intelligence written from France by a certain Juan Battista Beltran, a native of Venice, to the effect that the duke of Nemours had tried to abduct the duke of Orleans and poison the duke of Vendôme, I said that the first seemed most improbable for several reasons, and as to the second, it was not by any means to be believed of a gentleman like the Duke, and above all on the statement of such a man as this Beltran, whom I knew well as being unworthy of credit. She asked me a great many questions about him, and seeing that I answered frankly she said she wished to divulge a secret of me, which was that when Beltran was here some months ago he had informed her that your Majesty was trying to have her killed by poison, and that for this purpose a certain Greek had come hither and I was concerned in it. I made light of it and laughed, but told her that if she had acted as I should have expected from her prudence she would have informed me of this in time to have the man punished. When she saw that I might have good reason to take offence at this she said that Beltran had not revealed it here but in France, and that her ambassador had only written it to her two days ago, to which I had no answer to make, although I knew the excuse was false. On the contrary I pretended to believe her, and appeared satisfied. I have since endeavoured to get to the bottom of this and find it is true that this Beltran, who was here two or three months ago, told Cecil that the Greek Vergecio, of whom I have already written to your Majesty, had come hither on behalf of the Pope to arrange an agreement by which the papists were to kill the Queen and Lord Robert. It is said that Cecil was very busy investigating the matter, but satisfied himself at last that the man was simply a swindler, and had only come to get money from them. I am much surprised at the Queen's inventing the other story and prevaricating thus without any reason, although I thought that as soon as she had said it she repented and tried to get over it by appearing to consider it the absurdity it is. I know however that it was not looked upon at all as a joke at first, and that Cecil himself was waiting at a door for many hours on the watch for two men described by Beltran who were to be arrested. This would not have been done, at least by Cecil himself, if they had not taken the thing seriously.
The Queen has sent a summons to Lady Margaret Douglas to come hither with her husband and children. It is said publicly that the reason of this is that she shows favour to the Catholics in the province of York, and that consequently the Bishop dares not visit his diocese or punish any papist. This reason, however, is a pretended one, and has been made public to deceive the people as to the reality which is that the Queen hears that Lady Margaret is trying to marry her son to the queen of Scots. This has been divulged by one of her servants whom the Queen has taken into her service and rewarded for the information, and inquiries are now being made as to those who may have taken part in the matter. The earls of Northumberland and Westmoreland and the duke of Norfolk have been brought hither at once with the excuse that the Queen wished them to pass Christmas with her. I understand that Lady Margaret is much distressed, as she thinks she will be thrown into the Tower, and that her son's life is in danger. I am told that she is resolved not to deny the allegation about the marriage of the queen of Scots as she says it is no crime, and as that Queen is her niece, the daughter of her brother, she thinks she has done no harm in advising her to do what she believes would be the best for her, namely, to marry her son, by which the succession of this kingdom would be secured to the Scotch Queen, and all reason for strife would be avoided in case of the queen of England dying without issue. If the English should allege that the queen of Scots could not succeed in consequence of her being a foreigner, she would nevertheless reign over the kingdom by right of this youth, the son of Lady Margaret, if she married him, as he is an Englishman and beyond doubt the nearest heir to the crown after her. This Queen, however, bases her security on there being no certain successor to whom the people could turn if they were to tire of her rule, and I understand she is in great alarm about this business, and determined to obtain possession of the persons without the reason being made public, as she fears that if the people were to understand the business it might please them and cause a disturbance if Lady Margaret were free. In order to summon her without turmoil they have taken the pretext of finding fault with her about religion, which will make her unpopular with London people. This gives great pain to the faithful, as they had placed all their trust in this woman and her son, and if they dared I am sure they would help her, and forces would be forthcoming in the country itself if they had any hopes of help from without.—London, 27th November 1561.
27 Nov.
Simancas, B. M. MS. Add. 26,056a.
145. Bishop Quadra to the Duchess Of Parma.
The Queen has written a very firm letter to the king of Sweden telling him not to come on any account as his visit was known to be with the object of proposing marriage to which she was quite averse. If he had any other object she would be glad to see him. She afterwards sent for the Swedish ambassador and said she had heard that he had written certain things to his King upon which he was badly informed, and which had had the effect of dissuading his King from his intended visit. In this he had acted lightly and like a man who picked up his information in the streets, and if the King did not come it would be his (the ambassador's) fault and not hers, as she is as free from any engagement to marry as the day she was born. The meaning of this is that a Frenchman called the Viscount de Gruz (fn. 4) who was here lately as a double spy had told them that the ambassador had written to his master not to come as she was already married. The ambassador obtained the information from the Frenchman himself. She does not want to offend the King so throws the blame on the ambassador.—London, 27th November 1561.
28 Nov. 146. The King to Bishop Quadra.
Having heard from Prior Don Antonio de Toledo, master of the horse, that the grand master of the order of St. John is sending the Commendador de Sancterina Hospitaler to England on business of the order which he will explain, he (the King) has written a letter of recommendation to the Queen which will be declared by the Commendador himself, but a clause has been added in the copy sent accrediting him to the Bishop directing the latter to speak to the Queen in the King's name manifesting to her the obligation of all christian princes to favour the order of St. John for the services it renders to christianity, and begging her very earnestly and affectionately to help the Commendador with her gracious favour in the business he has in hand. Is very emphatic in his recommendation of the Commendador to the Queen and Bishop (Quadra).—Madrid, 28th November 1561.


  • 1. The earl of Murray as he shortly afterwards became.
  • 2. Frederick II.
  • 3. Letter missing.
  • 4. There is in the Record Office (Foreign Series, 24th September 1560) a long address from this man to the queen of England alleging grievances against the Spaniards and the queen mother of France and offering his services and information. His offer was refused on the plea that the Queen did not wish to offend the Spaniards, but the man was shortly afterwards employed as a spy by Lord Robert.