Simancas: April 1566

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: April 1566', in Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 1, 1558-1567, (London, 1892) pp. 538-547. British History Online [accessed 23 May 2024].

. "Simancas: April 1566", in Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 1, 1558-1567, (London, 1892) 538-547. British History Online, accessed May 23, 2024,

. "Simancas: April 1566", Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 1, 1558-1567, (London, 1892). 538-547. British History Online. Web. 23 May 2024,

April 1566

6 Apr. 348. The Same to the Same.
Nothing more has been heard from Scotland, beyond what I wrote to your Majesty. The King and Queen are together, and harmonious, and I am told that the King has by public proclamation exonerated himself from all share in David's murder.
Secretary Lethington, who was said to be in Berwick with the other conspirators, is now known to be detained in a castle in Scotland by order of the Queen, but not in prison. He was not present at the murder, and denies any share in the conspiracy.
Melvin, who is the man I told your Majesty had come here on Benedict Spinola's business, has arrived in Scotland, and they say that persons in the confidence of the Queen will airive here shortly.
The king of France has sent a gentleman hither, named Mavissier (fn. 1), who has been here on other occasions, and also to Scotland. He tells me he has only come to visit the queen of Scotland, having heard of the troubles that have taken place. He is ordered to speak to the King and the nobles of the realm on behalf of the king of France in the sense that the queen of Scotland may desire, and he will visit this Queen here, to thank her for her inclination to help the queen of Scotland in her troubles. He says this is his only business here. This man who was brought up in the house of the late duke of Guise, has always shown himself a good Catholic, and an adherent of the queen of Scotland. Both he and the Ambassador tell me that he is only here on his way to Scotland, but I do not believe them, notwithstanding that Mavissier professes great friendship to me. When he was here before, I gave him good cheer, as they call it here.
The earl of Leicester returned on the 1st, with a great escort, and was very well received by the Queen. A person who was present says, that amongst other things, the Queen said he had tarried very long, and she would not give him leave to go on another occasion. I always thought there was not much foundation for the talk of his retirement, although people who ought to have known were strongly of the contrary opinion.
They say that Ireland has been very disturbed lately, and Knollys, the Vice-Chamberlain and member of the Council, is to go thither with troops. They tell me that he is only going to watch an inquiry being held in the earl of Sussex's administration as Viceroy, as the Earl no doubt suspects those who are holding it. Probably, however, he is going for other purposes as well, as John O'Neil has refused to obey the Viceroy.
As the sister of the king of Sweden was about leaving, and was arranging for payment of certain debts she had incurred here, the Margrave her husband who was awaiting her in Calais, heard that she was unwell, and came secretly to visit her. After having been with her for a few hours he returned, and on his way back, at Rochester, was arrested by creditors, and taken to the public gaol. When his wife heard this, she complained to the Queen, who said, that she did not know anything of his detention, and begged the Margrave to return to Court to receive satisfaction, which he refused to do. He was imprisoned on the 30th ultimo, and the Queen sent a gentleman to take him out of prison, and lodge him in a house where he now remains. They pay no respect to anyone here.— London, 6th April 1566.
11 Apr. 349. The Same to the Same.
All the talk here is about Flemish affairs, but as I understand, the duchess of Parma, with her usual care and prudence, will give your Majesty a full account of them, I need only say that these people here have their eyes fixed on the movement, and this has caused the Duchess some suspicion that the leaders have correspondents in this country, which may well be true, although I have not been able to discover that such is the case. I have made every effort to find out, as most Catholics think that it is so, but they base their opinion upon suspicion, and those who are most likely to know can find no trace of any understanding.
On the 9th instant, I was with the Queen about some robberies which have recently been committed—one of a Biscay ship, with whale oil, near Plymouth, and the other from some Flemings in the river near Gravesend. As soon as things look a little better, they begin their robberies again, no doubt for the purpose of keeping their hands in. The Queen expresses great sorrow, and some of the robbers have been hanged, although none of those who have friends, but they are still in prison, condemned to death.
The Queen had, hanging from her waist by a gold chain, a portrait of the queen of Scotland, and after she had told me to address her Council on the subject of the robberies, and promised me they should be redressed, she showed me the portrait, and asked me what I thought of it, saying that she was very sorry for the Queen's troubles and for the murder of her Secretary, although she had reason to complain of her for two things. First because she (Elizabeth) had written her a private letter with her own hand, not only offering her aid, but to go, herself, to her, and had made arrangements by which she might send a reply without danger, and she had not answered ; and secondly, during the course of the conversation with her husband, in which she pointed out his duty, she told him to recollect that she had not only made him King and her husband, which were great reasons for him to be circumspect, but that she was the Queen, and had the favour of your Majesty and the king of France and the help of the duke of Florence and other princes, without mentioning her, (Elizabeth's) name amongst them. I told her that she no doubt omitted her name, as her friendship was notorious, she being her nearest neighbour and relative. I did not prolong this conversation, because she no doubt made this remark about your Majesty's favour only to see what I should say.
She afterwards told me that the king of Scotland had sworn to the Queen that he had taken no part in the murder of the Secretary, and that this had been proclaimed throughout the kingdom. She however, knew to the contrary, because the conspirators had the King's own signature for their acts. There were fifty of them, but she assured me that none of those who had taken refuge in this country after the former rebellion, had any intelligence in this conspiracy. She knew that the earl of Murray was much attached to the Queen, and wished to serve her, and she thought it strange that the King should repudiate what he had ordered to be done. They had arrested two of those who were present, one of whom had been hanged and the other beheaded.
Returning to the. subject of the disrespect shown to the Queen, she said she, herself, in her place, would have taken her husband's dagger, and stabbed him with it, but she did not want your Majesty to think she would do this to the Archduke if he came. The Queen told me that the gentleman who was to have been sent on the Archduke's affairs, was not going, and she would appoint another who would leave shortly. I repeated this to Cecil, who said it was true, and asked me if Lord Robert had spoken to me about the match to which he was now more inclined. I told him he had not, nor had there been time for him to do so. This must be some new mystery or deceit, if what the Secretary tells me be true. A good Catholic here tells me that the plot for the murder of the Secretary was ordered from here, and the Queen helped the conspiracy to the extent of 8,000 crowns. I may say in confirmation of this that the day prior to the night of the murder, Cecil informed Lady Margaret of it as an event that had occurred. Others have the same suspicion, and believe that the rebels who had fled to this country knew of it, but these are things hard to prove.
Warlike stores are again being sent to Berwick, and Sir James Crofts, who is believed to be the most experienced soldier in the country, has been here for some days. It is he who is usually consulted on matters of this sort, and your Majesty will know of him, because, although he has not visited me for fear of arousing suspicion, he is said to be strongly attached to your Majesty's service. A sister of his is married to Randolph, the Commander of the Artillery, who, amongst others, has tried to discover diligently if the Flemish rebels have any understanding here, but has been unable to discover any.—London, 6th April 1566.
13 Apr. 350. The Same to the Same.
On the 10th instant a Scotchman arrived here, from whom I have learned particulars of the Secretary's murder, and the statement made by him, which is no doubt true, is enclosed.
He sent to say that the Queen had not been able to write to me, but had ordered him to see me and give me an account of what had happened and of the negotiations with this Queen. The husband and wife are now on good terms, as the King himself writes me by this man, (fn. 2) who is the secretary of the Scotch Ambassador in France, a worthy and Catholic person. He tells me that he will return very shortly. He brought a letter from his Queen to the queen of England, thanking her earnestly for her offers in her need and trouble. He says the Queen was greatly pleased at it, and asked him many particulars.
He asked her not to allow those who had been concerned in this conspiracy to take refuge here, and if they were already here to order them to be given up, the matter having been so atrocious and of such bad omen. She answered him that she was sure none of them had dared to stay in this kingdom, and assured him favourably.
In the treaty of peace between the two Queens it is stipulated mutually that they should deliver up offenders guilty of high treason and similar crimes. She asked this Queen to be God-motlier of her unborn infant, which she said she would do with great pleasure.
He also brought a letter from the King to this Queen speaking of Lady Margaret's imprisonment, in which he had assured the Queen that Lady Margaret was not to blame for anything he had done, and knew nothing of his acts. The Queen refused to reply to this, or even to take the King's letter, although he begged her to do so. This Scotchman tells me that the Queen asked him if it were true that the King had drawn his dagger in the Queen's presence to stab the Secretary, and he told her it was not. She said that she had not believed it, because all the time he was in this country he had never put his hand to a knife. The Scotchman tells me that this murder has been so much condemned by the Scotch people that it has been necessary to proclaim very emphatically that the King had no hand in it.—London, 13th April 1566.
18 Apr. 351. The Same to the Same.
Speaking yesterday with the Queen respecting Flemish affairs and the impossibility of Montigny attending the Conference at Bruges, as he and the Marquis de Vergas (fn. 3) had been sent to your Majesty, she said it was a very daring act of those who had given the duchess of Parma the reply respecting the Inquisition, and if they had attempted such a thing in this country, though they had not put it into execution, she would have punished it severely. (fn. 4) She said, however, that they told her that the Inquisition proceeded with great severity, and she did not wonder they opposed its introduction.
I answered her that no innovation had been ordered in the Government of the States respecting the matter contained in the reply or petition which had been given to the Duchess, but that before your Majesty's accession it had been so decreed. Some disaffected men had desired to disturb public tranquillity with this invention, and had seized the opportunity of your Majesty's having ordered that the law should be enforced to do as they had done. (fn. 5) It was no new thing however to your Majesty's subjects to petition you with due respect and reverence when they thought the good of the Commonwealth demanded it, and your Majesty was in the habit of considering these petitions, and if they were just granting them. Knowing this, I had not mentioned the matter to her, but I had written to the Duchess that if there were any other movement or intention to advise me of the same in order that I might inform the Queen of it. I was quite sure she for her part would use all good office and assistance in the matter, seeing the friendship and affection your Majesty bore her. It is true I wrote to the Duchess to this effect, for good reasons, as the Council will see by my letter. The Queen thanked me warmly for having done this, and said her good will was as earnest as I could desire. She said this manner of subjects rising was of very evil consequence, especially for neighbouring countries that run the same risk, as has been seen in Germany, Scotland, and France, in which latter country the trouble of the late disturbance would not be soon forgotten. Although some people had wanted to make out that she was willing to aid the disturbers, she had never had any such intention, but only to recover Calais, which was so important to this country, and she wished to take the opportunity of getting it restored, as she had been told that were not 400 soldiers in the place. I asked her how it was that her troops had not gone thither. She said the wind had been contrary and they had returned. She had, however, stipulated that Calais should remain on the same footing with regard to its restitution as it was before.
She begged me to give to your Majesty her humble and affectionate wishes for your prosperity and good fortune, so necessary as they were to the good of Christianity, praising your Majesty for your great preparations against the Turk, and said that if it were not for your Majesty the negligence of other Christian monarchs would have caused the loss of all. I told her that beside the preparation that your Majesty had ordered, I had received letters from Rome that your Majesty had ordered 2,000 Spaniards to be sent to Malta, besides a thousand Germans in addition to those already promised.
The Queen does not despatch the man she told me she had appointed to go to the Emperor. The earl of Sussex, the duke of Norfolk's party, and secretary Cecil still help in this business, and I am urging them as much as I can. As I have written to your Majesty, Cecil asked me if Leicester had spoken to me on the Archduke's business, as he was now well disposed towards it, and I had replied that he had not. Yesterday I was some time with Lord Robert alone, but he did not say a word about the matter, nor did I broach the subject to him, but did not fail, in pursuance of my usual procedure, to assure him of your Majesty's love for him, which will be proved in due time. Sussex tells me that he thinks the Archduke is rather lukewarm for not writing to the Queen more lovingly, and this is one of the things that his opponents accuse him of, saying that the Queen is only being sought for her dominions. He had told the Emperor's Ambassador this when he was here, but nothing more had been done. I told him that the Archduke no doubt desired this match so much that he did not dare to take any step for fear of erring, except by permission of the Emperor. Sussex also told me that he understood that the negotiations for the marriage of the king of France with one of the daughters of the Emperor were again afoot. I told him that I was informed that the French were pressing Leicester's suit again here, and told him to look out and endeavour to get news of this.
The French Ambassador is expecting the arrival of his successor, who he tells me is to come on the 10th proximo. He tells me that secretary Laubespine has written to him that your Majesty had ordered the king of France to be informed of the events in Florida, and that the Queen was greatly pleased thereat, and that the pirates had been punished. I told him I quite believed it, but the man they should punish was he who sent the robbers there, as the province belonged to Spain.
The German they call the Rheingraf has arrived here. They say he only comes to see the country, and speaks no other language but German, never having been in France, but the Ambassador takes him this afternoon to see the Queen.
A man who was here last year from the king of Denmark has also arrived to negotiate matters of trade between this country and that. It is understood that peace would have been made between Denmark and Sweden but for the desire of the king of Sweden that the city of Lubeck should not be a party to it, the king of Denmark refusing to make any agreement which does not include the city.
The margrave of Baden is in Calais, and Cecilia, his wife, tells me she thought of leaving on the 19th instant, although the Queen says she is not going till the 22nd. They are leaving dissatisfied.— London, 18th April 1566.
P.S.—Although I sent to your Majesty all I had learned about Scotland, I now enclose a fuller relation which has been taken from an autograph letter from the queen of Scotland to her Ambassador in France.
22 Apr. 352. The Same to the Same.
On the day following the date of my last letter of the 18th inst., I asked Secretary Cecil if the Queen was going to despatch the new man whom she had appointed to go to the Emperor. He answered that she was, and on the same day, 19th, he was to take him to the Queen, as he was a relative of his (Cecil's) wife and a great friend and confidant of his. He was sure he would treat the business well and faithfully.
Cecil's wife tells me that the French Ambassador says that if the Archduke comes hither he will cause discord in the country, as he will endeavour to uphold his religion, and will have many to follow him. She thinks that the Queen will never marry Lord Robert, or, indeed, anyone else, unless it be the Archduke, which is the match Cecil desires. Certainly if anybody has information on the matter it is Cecil's wife, (fn. 6) and she is clever and greatly influences him. The Queen still favours the Irish earl of Ormond, and Leicester is not so familiar as he used to be ; but still I think it is dissimulation, as I said before.
The members of the Order of the Garter have come to hold their chapter at Windsor, where they now are. The ceremonies commence to-day, and they say the Emperor will be elected a member at this meeting. The duke of Norfolk has excused himself as he is indisposed, but no doubt the real reason is that he does not wish to come. I was told he was not coming, even before his indisposition. He is no doubt dissatisfied with these things, and has great influence in the country.
Sackville and Mason, members of the Queen's Council, have died. The latter was a man of importance and apparently a Catholic. The man who is to go to the Emperor is called Danet, and is a great heretic.—London, 22nd April 1566.
353. The Same to the Same.
After closing my letter of this date, I have heard that the letter brought by the Scotsman from his King to the Queen (mentioned in mine of the 13th instant, as having been refused by this Queen), was left by him with the French Ambassador, with another letter from the earl of Lennox, the King's father, in order that the Ambassador might take a favourable opportunity of begging the Queen to receive them. This Queen answered the Ambassador that she would not read them until the gentleman she had sent to Scotland returned. I am told the queen of Scotland has left Edinburgh for a pleasure place near, and that she has again fallen out with her husband, because the conspirators concerned in the death of the Secretary sent to the Queen a patent, or letter, signed by the King, imt only showing his complicity, but that he ordered the thing to be done. It is not thought that this dissension would go any further as the King and Queen are now together. The Queen of England has promised not to allow any of those concerned in the conspiracy to remain in this country, and she has ordered measures to be taken to this effect. The man I wrote of who was going to Ireland leaves to-day, and takes 20,000 crowns to pay the troops, and instructions to arrange the discord which exists between the earls of Ormond and Desmond. The earl of Ormond was also about to leave here on account of this disagreement, but I am told the Queen will not allow him to go.—London, 22nd April 1566.
29 Apr. 354. The Same to the Same.
In mine of the 22nd instant, I wrote to your Majesty that the feast of St. George was to be held at a celebration of the Order of the Garter, and I was told the Emperor would be elected. This was done, as the Queen told me yesterday, and they are about to send, as is customary, to inform the Emperor of this, and ask his acceptance. The man who was appointed to go about the Archduke's marriage is entrusted with this mission, and I understand that the Queen has deferred his departure for a day or so, that it may appear that this is the principal cause of his journey, so as to preserve her womanly dignity in the matter of the marriage. Those who have the Archduke's matter in hand are well pleased, and think the affair is progressing favourably. Cecil signified this to me yesterday, and in the course of conversation on the subject I deduced that the Queen is more inclined to the affair than hitherto, but I cannot depend upon anything, seeing the difficulties in the way and the Queen's fickleness The Queen celebrated the solemnity with great pomp ; the arms and insignia being placed as I have described, those of the king of France being next to the Queen's, and those of your Majesty put further off to leave a vacant space for the Emperor's. I have remained silent on the matter, as if ignorant of it, although it has been difficult to restrain myself. I am more surprised every day at this change being made, because ordinarily, the treatment they display to me is much better than that they extend to the king of France's Ambassador, and moreover, the Queen had said that she would not decide the question of precedence, and Cecil voluntarily said that if she had to decide, it should be in your Majesty's favour. She showed this disposition at the marriage of the daughter of Ambrose Cave, as I wrote at the time.
The Queen told me she had received a letter from the queen of Scotland, who was with her husband. She said if he had treated her the same as he had treated the queen of Scotland, she would never see him again or enter his chamber. News comes from Scotland also by a servant of that Queen, who left there on the 22nd instant on his way to France to visit Cardinal Lorraine, and bring some things necessary for the Queen's confinement. It is to the effect that the King had left the court on Good Friday, but hearing that Mavissier had arrived, he returned the Wednesday after Easter, and assuming an indisposition, which is thought to be feigned, retired to his chamber, where the Queen visited him that evening, and stayed half-an-hour with him. The King wished Mavissier to visit him at once, but the latter paid he could not speak to him except in the presence of the Council. The King was offended at this, fearing that the king of France might have sent him a threatening message on account of what had happened.
The Queen had sent to summon the earls of Argyll and Murray, to be present at the King's interview with Mavissier, and they were expected at the Court on the day this man left. This no doubt was done by order of the Queen, as Mavissier told me that he was instructed to speak to the King in the sense that the Queen might command.
This man says that the King continues his devotion to the ancient religion and hears Mass every day. On Holy Thursday he went through the usual ceremony of washing the feet of the poor.
Secretary David was buried in the cemetery, but the Queen had him disinterred, and placed in a fair tomb inside the church, whereat many are offended, and particularly that she has given the office of secretary to David's brother.
As I have written, munitions of war are being taken to Berwick. Cecil tells, me that he has advice that the Diet has granted the Emperor all the aid he had demanded against the Turk, on condition that he himself does not go to the war. These people have intelligence from everywhere, and are watching religious affairs closely, but it is difficult to understand what they are about, and with whom they correspond, as Cecil does it all himself, and does not trust even his own secretary.
The earl of Northumberland has come to the feast of St. George as he had to take a certain part in the ceremony. He is considered very catholic, and an affectionate servant of your Majesty, and I believe he is so. He returns home at once, as he does not like to be here.
This Earl has a dispute with the Admiral, respecting the money which was found in the sea at his port, and which they say was the money taken by Yaxley, the queen of Scotland's man. It is thought the money will be returned to the queen of Scotland.
I wrote to your Majesty that the margrave of Baden had come over from Calais in disguise to visit his wife, and on his return had been taken for debt at Rochester and lodged in prison. Cecilia spoke to the Queen about it and promised not to leave the country until she had settled her own and her husband's debts. He was thereupon liberated, but refused to return to the Court. Cecilia has had great trouble to get clear, as I understand they owed more than 15,000 crowns, and they have made her give pledges for the payment of much greater value, even her dresses, and notwithstanding this, she would have been in still greater trouble if she had not been helped. I have done all I could for her and she is grateful, but is not very well satisfied with the Queen, who, although she received her well and even helped her with money, did not do so either graciously or promptly. She left on the 27th glad enough to get out of this country. She has exhibited spirit and courage in her troublfs, which have not been light.
After she had finished at Greenwich, on the same day that she had to leave, she returned hither and sent to say that she had done so in order to see mc before she went. I at once went to visit her, and after she had told me what she had done in her affairs she at once departed for Greenwich again and left at 10 o'clock the same day. She espoused the cause of the earl of Leicester when she was here, but he helped her little in her hour of need. The English convinced her that they not much gratitude.—London, 29th April 1566.


  • 1. Castlenan de la Mauvissière.
  • 2. William Henrisson.
  • 3. The Marquis de Bergues.
  • 4. The "Compromise" presented by the union of Flemish nobles to the duchess of Parma protesting against the promulgation of Philip's despatches in favour of the Inquisition.
  • 5. The Ambassador appears to have been acquainted with the celebrated letter from Philip to the duchess of Parma of 17th October 1565, as he repeats its argument exactly.
  • 6. She was one of the highly accomplished daughters of Sir Anthony Cooke, and sister of Lady Hoby and Lady Bacon, mother of Francis Bacon.