Simancas: November 1565

Pages 499-509

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

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November 1565

5 Nov. 330. Guzman De Silva to the King.
In my last letter of 22nd ultimo I wrote your Majesty that the earl of Murray had arrived that night in London and that I was informed he was to see the queen of England, which he did. The French Ambassador and the French king's gentleman, Monsieur de Mavisier, were first summoned (the latter having been to Scotland, as I wrote, and returned) and on the arrival of the Queen she told them that the duke of Chatelherault, the earl of Murray and others had retired into her country and had arrived as far as Newcastle, and that the earl of Murray had requested the earl of Bedford her governor of the north country to grant him a passport to come to her. This was refused him but he was told that he could, if he liked, take the risk of coming without a passport, and on her learning this she had sent a courier to order him not to quit Newcastle. The courier, however, met the Earl quite close to the gates of London and could not stop him, so that he had now arrived, but she had refused to see him hitherto until the Ambassador and Mavisier were present in order that they might give an account to their King of what the earl of Murray said and what she answered. The Ambassador replied that he had instructions from his master to hear and convey to him whatever her Majesty might say although he would be glad not to be present as the earl of Murray in his own exculpation might say something against the queen of Scotland, and he (the Ambassador) could not avoid replying thereto which he would be sorry to do in her Majesty's presence. The Queen answered that the Earl would not do so and if he did she would have him thrown into prison, and thereupon in the presence of the Ambassador and the gentleman and the members of her Council she ordered the earl of Murray to be called in. He entered, modestly dressed in black, and, kneeling on one knee, commenced to address the Queen in Scotch. The queen at once told him to speak in French as he understood the language, but he excused himself by saying that he had been so unused to speak it that he had forgotten it and could not express himself in it. The Queen said that though he might not speak it fluently she knew he understood it well, and therefore whatever she wished to ask or say should be in French. She thereupon commenced by telling him she marvelled greatly that he should come into her presence without a license after having declared himself a rebel against the queen of Scotland, whom she had hitherto regarded as a sister and hoped to be able to do for the future, although the Queen had given her reasons to think to the contrary. As, however, it had pleased the king of France to send M. Mavisier to endeavour to bring about an agreement between her and the queen of Scotland and her people, and he and the Ambassador were in the palace on other business, she had asked them to be present at this interview so that they might hear what she said, as she wanted to do nothing that could give the queen of Scotland any just cause for going to war with her or in any way to wound her own honour and dignity, well knowing, as she did, that many people took this as an excuse for saying that her country was a common refuge for all the seditious subjects of neighbouring princes, and she had even heard that rumours were spread that she had caused the rebellion in Scotland or had favoured it, which she would not have done for the world. She knew full well that God, being a just judge, would punish her with a similar plague of sedition and would raise up her own subjects against her if she gave any help to the rebellious subjects of other monarchs. She had understood from him (Murray) that there were two principal causes of this rebellion : first that the queen of Scotland had persisted in carrying her marriage into effect without the consent of the nobility or giving notice to neighbouring princes, with which course he (Murray) disagreed and consequently fell into disgrace. The second cause was that he understood the earl of Lennox and all his people were against their religion and feared they would attempt to destroy it, which would be worse for them than losing their goods or even their lives. He had come, she understood, to beg her to intercede with the Scottish queen for her to hear them in their own just defence. The Queen said that there were some faults that proceeded from malice and deserved the strictest justice, as, for instance, if they had planned anything against their sovereign in which case she would at once have him arrested and punished according to his demerits, but she had always known him to be much attached to the Queen and she would venture to assert that he loved her as he ought to do. There were other faults that were worthy of the gracious clemency of the sovereign when they were committed through ignorance, imprudence or fear, and she therefore begged him to say what were his intentions in these risings in Scotland. Murray replied by calling on God as witness, judge and punisher of his acts in proof that he loved nothing more than the service of the queen of Scotland who had granted him so many favours and benefits, more than his merits deserved, and he would not for the whole world have thought of offending her in person or estate but would rather uphold her with all his strength. The queen of England in reply to this said that she held in her hands a balance in one side of which she put the authority of the queen of Scotland and the proclamation she had issued declaring them traitors, and in the other side the assertions of the earl of Murray, and she found that one weighed very much more than the other especially, for her who was a Queen and who naturally sided with those of the same dignity and rank as herself. She could see that he had done three things deserving of great condemnation. First of these was his refusal to go to his Queen in obedience to her repeated summonses, the second that he had taken up arms, and the third that he had joined with many others and raised troops. She understood that he had feared they would kill him but, that being the case, why had he not told the queen of Scotland the names of the persons who had given him information to that effect and taken them before her? The Earl replied at length in Scotch and the Queen turned his speech into French. He said that after the queen of Scotland had ordered the nobles to meet at Perth, and they were all ready to go, she revoked the summons and some of them met at Lisleburgh. When he was summoned from there by the Queen he at once set out to go to her but was informed on the road that an ambuscade had been placed to kill him, whereupon he wrote to her in his own hand, humbly begging her to excuse him from obeying her summons, and the Queen answered him that within three or four days he was to appear and declare the names of the persons who had informed him of this plot to kill him. She threatened him that if he did not do this he should be proclaimed a rebel, and he answered that for his life's sake he would not place in trouble and peril the good friends who had given him the warning, as he undoubtedly should do if he named them at present, but that he humbly begged her to give him a term of six months during which he would undertake to say who had given him the information. He said if he failed to divulge their names during that period he would willingly submit to the punishment she thought fit, and notwithstanding all this the Queen had banished him. He had thereupon retired to Argyll where the earl of Argyll and the Duke had gone to seek him without troops or force of any kind except such as ordinarily accompanied them and, as they understood that the Queen's wedding was to take place some days earlier than had been intended, the Duke and he went to Lisleburgh and thence sent a message offering to be present at the ceremony to do honour to their Queen. The answer she gave was to imprison their messenger, proclaim her husband King and banish the duke of Chatelherault, ordering him (Murray) to return to the Court. To this he had answered that he could not come, especially as he saw how the laws of the country were being disregarded and violated. Those laws, which he and all the other Lords were bound by solemn oath and common accord to maintain, provided for the right of the Duke to the succession, and yet the Queen had since then persecuted them and followed them from place to place although they had no forces with them and only fled before her, retiring at last to England to their own sorrow, and he had come to Court to beg the Queen again to intercede with the queen of Scotland on their behalf and to hear the justification of their action. They were willing, he said, to submit themselves to any punishment that was thought just. The Queen answered that she did not know how she could intercede, the queen of Scotland having several times refused her mediation as she had done quite recently when she (the queen of England) desired to send a representative to Scotland at the request of the king of France. She therefore did not see what steps she could take in the matter but would consult her council before giving an answer, and in the meanwhile warned him (Murray) that he was in a very grave position and that according to the laws might justly be held as a prisoner. After this the queen of England retired with the French Ambassador and Mavisier and begged them to give an account to their King of what had passed, assuring them at the same time that she had concealed nothing. When I went to take leave of the Queen on my departure hither she told me in substance what I have written above, adding that she would not aid or countenance rebels ; but I was informed that the night before this interview Murray was with her and Secretary Cecil for a long time where no doubt the proceedings of the next day were discussed. I left London on the 27th ultimo in good time and arrived at Antwerp, where I had to obtain the jewel to give to the princess of Parma, on the 30th.
I have used all diligence to obtain information about Hawkins's voyage, and find that after he left Galicia, where he touched, he went to Guinea and traded with the Portuguese slavers. He obtained a number of negroes and sent men on shore to obtain more. He took some, but lost nine soldiers killed, amongst whom were some Portuguese. They say he must have had 400 blacks, but in the accounts he gives he says there were only 370, and with these and a good stock of goods, cloths, linens, and the like, he went straight to Dominica, and thence to the Deseada, where he took water, fuel, and other necessaries for the voyage to the mainland. He then went to a place called Bariota, and on his arrival the Governor came with troops to know who they were. He was told they were Englishmen who wished to trade, and replied that they could not trade there as your Majesty had prohibited it on pain of death. The Captain answered that he had a large number of men with him, and he was unable to restrain them from landing and doing damage if they were not allowed to traffic, and he thereupon entered into a private arrangement with the Governor that he would send some men ashore next day who would make for the settlement, and threaten damage, and the Governor would then appear and give them leave to trade in order to prevent injury. This was done, and 200 troops, with some pieces of artillery, were landed, and firing was commenced, when the Governor came out and a pretence of fighting was made, but soon ceased, and they were allowed to trade for the sake of peace, after some written demands and answers had passed between them, according to arrangement. The people on shore bought a quantity of cloths, linens, and other things, and 140 slaves, and the expedition then sailed to another island, called Quiros Saal (Curacao), where they say they only found two Spaniards, who had a large quantity of skins. They bought 1,500 skins of them, and the meat they required for their use. They sailed thence to Rio de la Hacha, where the same took place with the Governor as had passed at Barbarrota. There they sold the rest of the slaves and a large part of their merchandise. They then touched at La Margarita, Carthagena, Cabo de la Vela, and other places, thus spending a fortnight awaiting the fleet from the mainland, or New Spain, in order if possible to capture one of the ships.
They intended to touch at Habana, but the weather was contrary, and they ran out by the Bahama channel and coasted along Florida, where they found the Frenchmen, to whom they gave 15 barrels of flour, and sold them a ship in which to return to France.
The man who gives me this account, and who went the whole voyage, tells me that Hawkins got a Spanish pilot out of a Portuguese ship, by whose aid the voyage was made, and who still remains secretly in the ship.
This Hawkins, as I wrote your Majesty, spoke to me in the palace, and I treated him courteously, although I had heard something of what I have mentioned, but wished to gain further particulars, and in order not to arouse his suspicions I asked him to dine with me, and he gave me a general account of the voyage, which corresponds with the information already given as regards the places he went to, but not as regards his mode of trading. On the contrary, he said he had traded greatly to the satisfaction of the Spaniards everywhere, and with license from the Governors, which he would show me. He told me, amongst other things, that he had a bill from one of the Governors for 600 dollars, which was to be paid to him in another island, where, however, he did not touch, on account of the bad weather. I asked whether it was true that he had found the Frenchmen in Florida and had sold them a ship and given them flour for the voyage home. He said yes, and that Pero Melendez would find none of them there. He said that dissensions had broken out amongst them, and some of them had left their commander, most of whom had been captured in Jamaica, and about 20 had returned through stress of hunger to their captain in Florida, who hanged four of them whom he (Hawkins) had seen.
He told me that the land was not good nor the rivers either and that he would not on any account undertake the voyage again.
The owners who provided the capital for him are, I am informed, dissatisfied with him, and believe he has brought more gold than he confesses. He on his part does not appear contented with the sum they have paid him and this may lead to the truth coming out. He is now rendering his accounts, and I learn from the person who has to receive them that he credits himself with 1,600 dollars given to one of the Governors for leave to trade, and also for the bill for 600 dollars from the other Governor which was not presented for payment in accordance with an arrangement between them, so that it might appear that the Governor had paid for what he had bought. This bill must be the one Hawkins told me he had from one of the Governors.
The voyage has brought him 60 per cent. profit. They tell me that this profit has encouraged some of the merchants here to undertake other like voyages and even that Hawkins will return in May. This is important and needs decisive action. I could speak to the Queen and tell her that the man confesses to have traded in places where your Majesty has forbidden commerce, and request her to have him punished ; but I want to have the matter very clear first, and if any statement has been received by your Majesty from the parts visited by the expedition, confirming my information they would be very important in proceeding against him although he will not lack friends as amongst those who took shares in his enterprise, besides the merchants are Benedict Spinola and the earl of Pembrook. Spinola tells me that when they took their shares they understood it was in a voyage to Guinea and the Mina and not the voyage taken by Hawkins. Secretary Cecil tells me that they offered to take him in like the rest when Hawkins left, but that he refused as he did not like such adventures. When I return to England I will see the licenses the Captain says he has from the Governors, and if there appears to be any ground the Queen shall be addressed on the subject. If there is any way of getting him punished it will be expedient as an example to others, but if not, it will be best to dissemble in order the more easily to capture and castigate him there if he should repeat the voyage. If his suspicion is not aroused and he makes the voyage he will touch on the coast of Spain, and I will be on the alert to advise his movements.
Those who have taken part in the negotiations for the Archduke's marriage are grieved that the Emperor's reply has been so long delayed as they think it will have a bad effect. Both the duke of Norfolk and Secretary Cecil have told me this, and have given me to understand that the French Amhassador is still making great efforts to prevent the match and to forward that of Lord Robert. The Duke thinks that the Queen will never consent to marry Leicester, and there is no one else but the Archduke whom she can marry. They have been much distressed at being told that your Majesty was not in favour of the match on account of the religious question, and they have received letters to that effect from Madrid. I said the news must have been set afloat by those who wished to hinder the marriage for their own ends, and they were somewhat consoled at this, urging me very much to let them know what I heard respecting the Emperor's wishes.
Cecil told me that it would be well to keep this matter in view as the French were so closely mixed up with all that was taking place that they almost controlled the Queen's council. I suspected that this was directed to Leicester's affair, as they are notoriously bad friends, and I asked him (Cecil) what was the position of matters with regard to Lord Robert and Heneage. He replied that Leicester held his ground as usual, and the talk about Heneage was baseless nonsense. The Queen made a show of it for purposes of her own.
The Queen has had the king of Sweden's sister brought to the palace and still pays her great attention. They tell me she is not proposing her brother's marriage, but is doing her best to urge Leicester's suit with the Queen, praising him highly. This is no doubt because she thinks it pleases the Queen. I am keeping in with her, as I have written to your Majesty, in view of what may happen in the course of the constant changes in all things here.
On the night before his departure from London the earl of Arundel invited the Swede and all the Court to supper, and even the Queen was to go uninvited as she sometimes does out of compliment, but she was unwell. The Earl begged me to attend the feast and told me that nothing could be done in the matter of commerce with Flanders even if the Conference met again. He assured me that if your Majesty desired a satisfactory solution to be arrived at the way would be to send to me some person from the States who was well informed on the business, and let me arrange the affair with them. Nothing could be done otherwise as the changes here were so continual that by the time answers came to the instructions sent to the representatives something new occurred. I really believe that the Earl wishes to see the question settled, and have no doubt of his desire to serve your Majesty and maintain the kingdom in its old friendship, as all the principal men understand that such a course is the most advantageous to them. The decision adopted, as I wrote your Majesty, to send a person to negotiate with that Queen (of Scots) is confirmed, and they have appointed Lord Lumley, who is married to a daughter of the earl of Arundel. He is a very worthy gentleman, a good Catholic, and a devoted adherent of your Majesty, as indeed are all good people in the realm. The appointment has not yet been announced unless it was done after I left. I always write in fear about things that are not actually past as changes are so continual, and I am grieved to communicate things which do not happen even though the fault be not mine.
The letter the Queen told me she would write to your Majesty is enclosed herewith. I took a favourable opportunity of again mentioning to her what had taken place at the interviews at Bayonne. She said nothing except that she would write to your Majesty about it as she had previously told me.
The king of Sweden's sister also writes as I have advised she wished to do. She told me that such was her desire to serve your Majesty, that she had asked her husband to reside in a portion of his territories adjoining Luxemburg so as to be the nearer to your Majesty's dominions.—Antwerp, 5th November, 1565.
10 Nov. 331. The Same to the Same.
After having written the accompanying letter, the courier having been detained longer than I expected, I received late at night on the 6th instant your Majesty's two letters of the 18th and 24th ultimo, with copy of your Majesty's letter to the duchess of Parma respecting the queen of Scotland's affairs, which I can only answer by saying that your Majesty's orders shall be carried out to the letter. These orders are most opportune in the present state of affairs, and it would seem as if the Almighty was forwarding your Majesty's intentions and working for their fulfilment since the purport of your Majesty's commands is so apposite and secrecy as important as your Majesty points out. Although these letters have not reached me in England I will try to get away from here with all possible dispatch as soon as the king and queen of Scotland have learnt of the good aid sent by your Majesty and are able to arrange their affairs. In the meanwhile I will do what I can here if opportunity occurs, as all that your Majesty orders is exactly what is best for them, and I am sure they will follow it, as I have already assured your Majesty in the enclosed letter. Your Majesty will perceive from what passed between the queen of England and the earl of Murray and her Majesty's own assurances to me that she will probably not help the rebels, but rather inclines to come to an agreement with the Scotch Queen, which is the best thing that can happen to them at the present time. The word of these people, however, is not to be depended upon, for they themselves have told me that the close connexion they have had with the French has to a great extent brought them round to their customs, and it seems that the Queen secretly received the earl of Murry on the night of his arrival, and yet the next day made the demonstration I have described before the French Ambassador. Yaxley has not appeared here yet, and I should like to see him and arrange the best way to convey the money, as it will be necessary for him to go cautiously. On pretext of the piracies some of the Queen's ships are cruising in search of the offenders and overhaul the ships they encounter, not without the idea, as I think, of seeing if anything is conveyed to Scotland or any Englishmen are going thither, and if they should come across Yaxley both he and what he bears might be in peril. I feel sure, however, that when he knows I am here he will manage to see me. The answer your Majesty gave Yaxley for Lady Margaret and her children the King and Queen respecting their request that you should intercede for her with the queen of England is the most fitting, as your Majesty's intercession would do her no good, but would rather arouse greater suspicion against her, even if there were not other reasons against it. It appears that the sister of the king of Sweden is not pushing her brother's suit for the present, but rather favours that of Lord Robert, as I have written in the accompanying letter. It may be that she is doing this in order to wait for a better opportunity of treating for her brother as she appears prudent and will bide her time.
Last night I received a letter from Chantonnay dated the 27th ultimo, in which he informs me that he had told the Emperor from your Majesty that if your Majesty's aid were required in the Archduke's marriage with the queen of England you would write to the Queen in your own hand, and that the Emperor had replied that he did not despair of the business, and would tell him (Chantonnay) what he must write to your Majesty. I quite believe what the Emperor tells Chantonnay, and am much surprised that he should have had your Majesty informed otherwise seeing his great inclination to carry the business through, shown especially by the efforts of the gentleman he sent, who is, as I understood, a person upon whom he sets great store. I will therefore proceed in the affair as I have done hitherto, until the Emperor relinquishes the business, or the Queen makes up her mind about Leicester, in which latter case when I am satisfied of the match taking place I will help it as I have written.
I have informed your Majesty in my former letters that Parliament has been postponed until next February, as I always expected would be the case, and I do not expect this will be the only prorogation.
When I left England the Queen asked me to speak to the Duchess respecting the subjects under discussion at the Conference, as she thought that, seeing my wish to maintain her friendship with your Majesty, I might be of some use in the matter. I told her I should be glad to do all in my power with this end, and in accordance with what I knew to be your Majesty's desire to please her in all things, and asked her to give me in writing what she thought I might discuss here. This she did by means of the two representatives who were at the conference, but I have not yet been able to approach the subject.
I arrived in this place on the 7th and went the next day to visit the duchess of Parma and informed her of the object of my visit. She evinced much joy and humble gratitude at the honour and favour your Majesty always shows her. I then visited the Duke, (fn. 1) who had come out to meet me on the previous day, notwithstanding that I had pressed forward on my road to avoid his doing so. He came to visit me yesterday. News arrived of the death of Cardinal St. Angelo. It will be a great loss to him. The Princess enters to-morrow.
Last night Yaxley arrived here. I have not seen him as I did not wish to speak to him in the daytime, but shall see him to-night. —Brussels, 10th November 1565.
24 Nov. 332. The Same to the Same.
The princess of Parma entered here on the 11th at nightfall. The Duke went out to receive her accompanied by all those who are here except the Prince, his son, who remained with the Duchess. The latter received the Princess in the great hall and they thence returned to the chapel where the marriage was celebrated by the Archbishop of Cambray. The benediction was pronounced the next day instead of on Sunday the 18th as arranged, when a supper was given followed by a tourney, one side being led by the prince of Orange in which the prince of Parma took part and the other by Egmont.
I did not return to the palace from the day of the marriage until the day of the feast but visited the princess of Orange, countess of Egmont and others, and received visits. My reason for this was that as your Majesty's decision had arrived about count Egmont's proposals to you in Madrid I did not wish to arouse suspicion that I had received any instructions from your Majesty on the subject, but could say what was advisable about it as if I were not specially concerned, and receive private information from others as I have done, and will communicate fully to your Majesty by a courier who is shortly to be despatched with information as to what has been done.
I have not been able to leave here yet because during the feasts and rejoicings it has been impossible to treat of the affairs pending between these States and England, and owing to the absence of M. de Montigny who took part in the Bruges conference. I am assured that he will arrive to-night and I will get quit of the matter as soon as possible and return to England. Although these reasons have detained me, no time has been wasted here as I arrived when your Majesty's despatches were causing considerable trouble and reflection both to the Duchess and the Council, the instructions in them being so different from what they expected and so contrary, as they believe, to the interests and tranquillity of the States. It would need a long letter to particularise what has passed with some of them on the matter, but they seem now somewhat mollified, and after the blow has been struck they will understand better the course they should take.
On the 10th I wrote that Francis Yaxley had arrived and I thought, to avoid observation, I had better not see him by daylight. He therefore came at night and I heard from him the same as your Majesty had written to me respecting his despatch as well as his joy at the favour and aid your Majesty had been pleased to render to his sovereigns. He left at once for Antwerp followed by Alonso del Canto who will send him off with all needful secrecy and speed. He takes with him a cipher in order to be able to communicate safely with me about Scotch matters. The person whom I left in England, and who is a priest of culture, virtue and trust, writes to me that on the 8th instant there arrived in London a Scotch courtier who had been sent to France and was on his way back to his sovereigns. He had asked him to inform me that he had been very well received by the king and queen of France with whom and with whose Council many conversations had taken place. They had told him that your Majesty was inclined to render secret help to his sovereigns and expressed their astonishment thereat. He did not know how to answer them as they had given him a favourable reply although he is not very well pleased with them, and feels certain that their having done so was owing to this suspicion of theirs. I have advised Don Francés de Alava so that he may cautiously try to learn where they got the idea and enable me to be prepared for the queen of England although they may well have invented it themselves to see whether they could get anything out of the man.
I enclose a statement of my intelligence from England.—Brussels, 24th November 1565.
28 Nov. 333. The Same to the Same.
A long letter in cipher dealing entirely with the affairs of the Netherlands and the fear and distress of the duchess of Parma and her friends in consequence of the King's rejection of Egmont's recommendations in Madrid. The writer endeavours to tranquillise the Duchess and encourage her to persevere in the course the King directs and speaks of his efforts to allay Egmont's fears and those of Mondragon, Vigliers and others, who apprehend disturbance. The archbishop of Cambray recommends the persecution of heretics, but thinks the proclamation should be modified. The writer believes secret disaffection to be rife amongst the governing class, notwithstanding outward observance, "because the thoughts of people easily turn towards liberty where respect is not enforced."—Brussels, 28th November 1565.
Postscript.—Alonso del Canto has returned from Antwerp after having sent off Yaxley successfully. He has done very good service in this matter.


  • 1. Ottavio Farnese, grandson of Pope Paul III. and husband of the duchess of Parma and Placentia.