Simancas: May 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: May 1566', in Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 1, 1558-1567, (London, 1892) pp. 547-555. British History Online [accessed 30 May 2024].

. "Simancas: May 1566", in Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 1, 1558-1567, (London, 1892) 547-555. British History Online, accessed May 30, 2024,

. "Simancas: May 1566", Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 1, 1558-1567, (London, 1892). 547-555. British History Online. Web. 30 May 2024,

May 1566

4 May. 355. The Same to the Same.
Secretary Cecil has sent to say that Thomas Danet, who is to go to the Emperor, will leave in three days, and that to-morrow they both will come to see me. Cecil asked me to send a letter by him to the Emperor and to Chantonnay, explaining who he is. I will do so, although I have already informed Chantonnay. They say that when he (Danet) returns, the earl of Sussex will go and take the Order of the Garter to the Emperor. I will advise your Majesty of what happens, although little dependence can be placed upon what they say.
News comes from Ireland that John O'Neil was still in arms, and had taken some fortified lands in the province of Connaught. They say he has made an alliance with the earl of Desmond, who is Ormond's enemy. If this be true it may disturb the island. The Viceroy had sent to treat with him, and he said that he would lay down his arms if the Queen would forgive him 10,000 crowns he owed her, and let him keep what he has taken, recognising his supremacy in those parts. He had to see the Viceroy on the 2nd instant, but it is believed that they will not agree, especially if O'Neil insists on retaining what he has seized, as he probably will, the property belonging to men who have claims for helping the Queen, as servants and subjects. I am told that matters might have been settled at the beginning for less than 15,000 ducats, and that now it would cost more than 60,000. Matters there are made to appear of more importance than they afterwards turn out to judge from the past.
They tell me that both the queen of Scotland's friends and enemies are dissatisfied with the King who has conducted himself in a boyish aud unstable manner. When he is with the Queen he is controlled by her ; when with her enemies, he follows their advice. It appears that no evidence has been found to connect Lethington with the conspiracy excepting the King's assertion. That Queen is greatly harassed and will not leave the castle of Edinburgh until after her confinement, as the keeper of the Castle is trustworthy, and she has few upon whom she can depend. These are some of the evils wrought by heresy. As I have written the King wished to communicate with Mavissier alone, but the latter would not speak except in the presence of the Council with Murray and Argyll. Mavissier having gone out hunting, the King went the same way to meet him on his return, as he would have done if the Queen had not told the Frenchmen, who came back another way and so avoided the King.
I am advised that they are fitting out 10 ships at Rouen, and as many more in a neighbouring port. They say some of those concerned are relatives of Jean Ribaut, whom they wish to seek, and that the King does not know yet of their intention. I advise Don Francés de Alava.
Captain Hawkins came yesterday to know if I had an answer from your Majesty, and if the Turkish fleet was coming this year. He tells me that, as the season is advanced, he is getting his ships ready, so as not to fail if he had to go anywhere. I am told he wishes to make another voyage to the Indies like the last, and these preparations may be in view of this although he gave me to understand that he was making ready to serve your Majesty only. Perhaps those who tell me his preparations are for a voyage in the Indies, jump at that conclusion in ignorance of his dealings with me. The matter however, cannot be kept secret, and in case a new voyage is intended, the Queen shall be requested to forbid it.—London, 4th May 1566.
11 May. 356. The Same to the Same.
Things remain here as when I wrote to your Majesty on the 4th instant. The Queen is well, although she had a fever four days since which gave her some trouble. Thomas Danet has left. He will not hasten much as he is unwell.
From Scotland we hear that the earls of Argyll and Murray arrived at Court on the 29th ultimo, and the Queen at once tried to bring about an agreement between the earls of Murray and Athol, who were at feud, and also between Murray and the earls of Huntly and Both well Admiral of the kingdom who are the two men who now control the Government. The cause of the enmity between Murray and the Admiral, was, that when Murray governed here, he put the Admiral in prison, and accused him of the crime of lese Majesté. He escaped, and fled to France. The feud with Huntly was because Murray killed his father, (fn. 1) and put the present earl in prison, and confiscated his property. When Murray rebelled the Queen released Huntly, and restored him to his estates. The differences however are now at an end, and they are all in accord in the service of the Queen.
The earl of Arran also, who is the eldest son of the duke of Chatelherault, and nearest heir to the crown, failing issue to the Queen, has been released from prison where he has been for more than three years. The King was against this, although he consented at the instance of Mavissier, as was ordered by the Queen. After Argyll and Murray's arrival, Mavissier spoke to the King in their presence and that of the Council in the name of the king of France, reprehending him for his fault in what had taken place with regard to the secretary's murder, and admonishing him in future to have due consideration for the Queen's interests. It was for her sake alone that the king of France respected him or took any interest in his affairs, and if the King heard that he did anything against her interests he would be his enemy, and would give her all the aid in his power.
They say the King was dissatisfied with this, and although he is well treated, as regards business he does nothing.
The Queen still shows her usual favour to Lord Robert, although he is rather more distant. The Irishman Ormond is in higher favour every day. The ill-feeling between the duke of Norfolk and his party, and the earl of Leicester goes on increasing. The duke is at his house, but he has powerful friends near the Queen. The Admiral, who belongs to Lord Robert's party, and Lord North who is opposed to him, had high words some days ago, and if these people were not very cool headed something serious might be expected to come of it, as they fear here. I, however, have no such apprehension considering the temper of the people.
From Scotland, I have no certain news except what Mavissier has written, and I think this is true, as he appears a worthy person, although he is a Frenchman.—London, 11th May 1566.
18 May. 357. The Same to the Same.
Mavissier, who as I wrote to your Majesty was to leave Scotland on the 6th, arrived here on the 13th. He has confirmed what I have advised with regards to events there, and says the Queen intended after her confinement to meet the queen of England, and perhaps to go to France, the better to settle her affairs there ; leaving the Government in the hands of her Council. Her principal reason is probably to avoid the pressure of her people, who desire a Parliament to be called, which she fears might be used to urge her to some action as regards religion, and might, when they were met, adopt some evil resolutions with regard to it and even with regard to her own person and the ecclesiastical offices in which she would not consent to any change being made, even though it cost her her life. He tells me that all the people there are barbarous, strange, and changeable, and the Queen has therefore but little confidence in them harassed as she is, and with few in whom she can trust. It appears the King has been somewhat slack as regards religion, which would be very unfortunate. I asked him how the King and his wife agreed and what he knew about their private life. He said he thought that suspicion existed between them, and they did not trust each other. but they behaved as husband and wife and were together, and especially after his arrival the Queen had been more affectionate to her husband.
I also asked him in case the Queen left the country, as he said whether she could be assured that no difficulties or risings would take place in her absence. He said he thought there would be perfect security and tranquillity as the absence of the Queen would only be for three months, and the King would be with his father on his estates. The King does not seem bad personally or in his habits, because I asked Mavissier how he passed his time and he said mostly in war-like exercises, and he is a good horseman. I tried to discover from him if this Queen had had any understanding with the rebels, and what the queen of Scotland thought about it. He said that he thought she had from what he had been able to understand, both from her and from those who had been concerned in the conspiracy, but that the queen of Scotland dissembles, as it is hard to prove, and not expedient at present to bring up things which would incense this country. This Queen has lost in the opinion of those who are her friends in Scotland, as they say that after having urged them on she abaudoned them at the very time she ought to have helped them. I asked him if he felt sure that the last conspiracy was managed from here, and if he had heard as much from the conspirators whom he visited in Newcastle both coming and going. He answered that he had arrived at that conclusion from his conversations with them, and if the conspiracy had not been managed by these people, at least they had consented to it.
Notwithstanding all the promises and professions of help made by this Queen to the queen of Scotland and her undertaking not to allow these conspirators to settle in England, they are as I say in Newcastle. I am assured that they all agree that Letbington was not in the plot, although the King asserts to the contrary, and says he was the principal mover. Whether it came from one set of heretics or the other the King was deceived like the youth he is, and all the wise ordinances made by the good Queen with regard to religion have been upset, and will be difficult to establish again. This had not been without its evil effect here as may be imagined, but I understand that the number of Catholics here still goes on increasing, which is very different from what happens in other ports. Mavissier tells me that the queen of Scotland will be confined in the month of June at latest, according to her calculation. Lady Margaret has sent her some presents, but from Flanders, as she is still in prison and has been unwell. These people have not done badly for their ends in detaining her, because if she had been in Scotland they are sure her son would not have been led astray, nor would these disputes have taken place, as she is prudent and brave, and the son respects her more than he does his father.
Stukeley, who I wrote had gone to Ireland with the Viceroy Sydney, has bought some estates adjoining John O'Neil's country, called Greve Castle, and also the office of marshal. The Queen will not sanction the sale of the office nor allow him to hold it, as it is of great importance in Ireland. He is very discontented thereat, although they offer him another post, but he thinks they will not let him hold the position because they believe he is a Catholic and a friend of O'Neil, who, he assures me, is so good a Christian that he cuts off the head of anybody, even an Englishman, who enters his country and is not a Catholic. I asked him how the discussion between the Viceroy and O'Neil would end, which I wrote to your Majesty was to take place on the 2nd instant. He tells me he has no doubt that O'Neil's reply will be that when the Queen is a Catholic he will recognise her as his Sovereign, but until she is he will never do so. Stukeley says that he has very good troops. I asked him if it was true, as some suspected, that O'Neil had an understanding with the queen of Scotland, which he said was not the case. He says the country is sound as regards religion, the principal person in it being the earl of Kildare, who is a good Catholic, very popular and beloved by his neighbours, and with whom the Viceroy tries to keep friendly to secure greater obedience.
One of those who has had the Archduke's business in hand, although he is a heretic, came to me to-day very pleased to say that Cecil had told him that he has good hopes of the match being carried through, as the only question now at issue is that of religion, the Queen having agreed on all other points. These people are so curious that they think the question of religion is of the least importance. The Emperor will soon receive the Queen's reply, as Danet has left with it.
Six or seven days ago an English sailor arrived here, who was on board a ship which Pero Melendez took from the English before the affair of Florida. He says that after Pero Melendez had defeated the French, as he wrote to your Majesty, they had returned, and the same wind had brought up Jean Ribaut with others to the same place. Melendez had taken them, and had beheaded Ribaut. I thought this was another version of the events which Pero Melendez had described, but again questioned the sailor, and he assured me that this was not so, and that things had occurred as he related them, he himself having seen the execution of Ribaut, whom he knew well.
I have some suspicion that Captain Hawkins wishes to make another voyage like the last, but I am not sufficiently sure to speak to the Queen about it. The French Ambassador here is leaving, his successor having arrived after having been expected for some time. I went to visit the new man and I found him with his predecessor and Mavissier He said, amongst other things, that his King had grown greatly and was very lusty. I answered him that I was glad to hear this, but he had better not tell this Queen so or she would bring about the marriage at once. They all three looked at me and the late Ambassador said a word in French, as if in anger, signifying that everything was known. They have been negotiating secretly lately.
I went to-day to see Cecil who has been unwell, and in the course of conversation spoke of the Archduke's business, to which he appears very well disposed. I said to him "These Frenchmen are in a fine taking when they see the Archduke's match progressing, and at once bring their own King forward to embarrass the Queen. When they see that this trick has hindered the negotiation they take up with Leicester again and think we do not see through them." He said they are so full of fine words and promises, to which I replied that they acted in the same way with everyone for their own ends. He said that they thought when they had Lord Robert on their side that their business was as good as done, and that he quite understood that the great object of the French was to embroil and incite enmity between the Emperor and your Majesty, and I think they must be doing the same thing here, although Cecil did not tell me so. He assured me, however, that they expressed great indignation at what had happened in Florida, and he said that at least they had no reason for any such feeling against your Majesty seeing the help you have given them in their necessity, although this Queen had not done so. I had a long conversation with him on these matters, and from what I could gather the French are again bringing up their King's marriage, and intend to proclaim that an injury has been done them in Florida. He remarked to me that he had news that the French were preparing another voyage thither, and I said it was hardly credible. but that if they went there again they would be punished as the others were.
With regard to the queen of Scotland's voyage to France he said he had heard of it, but considered it absurd, as do I.
I tried to sound Cecil to see if I could learn anything of the suspected understanding with the Flemings who had given the reply to the duchess of Parma. I said that affairs seemed to have calmed down, and never had any foundation. That both the people of Flanders and Artois had declared that the men who had acted in their name were only a pensionary and a magistrate who had not consulted the rest, and the people had again sworn to obey unreservedly all your Majesty's commands, and I am sure that the other states would do the same, as they love your Majesty and desire to serve you, and the leaders and nobility would likewise do so. He answered that he had no doubt of it as his private trustworthy news confirmed it, and he knew that the leaders, especially Count Egmont, was very firm on this point. He thought, however, that the French were putting their hand in there as much as they could, which he thought very wrong.
This Queen has decided to depart on a round of visits on the 20th proximo.
The bastard of Vendome has arrived here without leave from his King about a dispute he has with Armentiers, whom he wishes to challenge with permission of this Queen, but these contests are not usual here.—London, 18th May 1566.
25 May. 358. The Same to the Same.
I was with the Queen yesterday and afterwards with the Council to urge them to take measures to remedy the robberies and piracies committed against your Majesty's subjects and to punish the offenders in a way that will stop this insufferable evil. There was a meeting of the Council about it to-day, and they asked me to send to them one of the best informed of the Flemish merchants here to communicate with them on the subject. I do not know what they will do, as orders and regulations have already been made which should fully suffice, and the matter has been under discussion ever since I have been here. As I have told the Queen and Council, what is required now is not new orders, but the fulfilment of those already given. The French suffer in the same way, but not to the same extent, as their trade is small in comparison with that of the Flemings, and their merchandise of less value. The evil is of so long standing that I do not know that any remedy will cure it at once, although the Queen seems anxious to do so.
While discussing this matter with the Queen, the conversation turned upon the action of Brederode and his colleagues, and she said, with a show of anger, that it was extremely rash and wicked, and that it was fine Christianity which led subjects to defy their Sovereign. It had begun she said in Germany and in France and then extended to Scotland, now to Flanders, and perhaps some day will happen here, as things were going now. Some rogues, she said, have even wanted to make out that she knew something about the affairs in Flanders ; "Only let me get them into my hands," she said, "and I will make them understand the interest with which I regard all matters concerning the King, my brother." I replied that I did not believe anyone would think her capable of doing so great a wrong to her enemy, if she had one, much less to so good a brother and one to whom she was under such obligations as she said. It was, however, I said, a childish and baseless business altogether. Certainly, she said, subjects must be reasonable and obey. "Do you think the queen of Scotland has been well treated to have armed men entering her chamber, as if it were that of a public woman, for the purpose of killing a man without reason?" I answered that it was a bad business, and I hoped they would take care that it did not go without due punishment. I did not, however, know anything about Scotch affairs, since Mavissier had passed through London. "How are they getting on?" I asked. She said in reply that she had received a letter from Scotland in which the Queen told her that she would send a confidant to her, who should be known by a countersign, and he would advise her fully as to all that had happened. She heard, however, that the queen was not very well pleased with her husband.
I am told this Queen is still resolved to go on her journey, and when I told her that she ought not to travel much in this weather, she replied that she could not help it. The Council do not want her to go, and thank me for my remarks on the matter. She thinks, however, to leave on the 20th or 22nd proximo, but everything here changes so frequently that she may alter her mind as she did last year.
Although by order of the Queen, and after much exhortation, measures have been taken to make clergymen wear their ancient garb as I wrote some time ago, not only have many refused to obey but have written against it, and even against the Queen, who, they say, had no right to make such an order. The book has been prohibited under great penalties. The archbishops of Canterbury and York and the bishops of London and Winchester having been consulted, the Queen believed, or was informed, that the bishop of London would not execute the order very zealously, and she rated him soundly and threatened to punish him for an anabaptist, with other expressions of the same sort. I remarked to the Queen the small show of obedience these heretics made, and said that if they were contumacious in so small a matter as wearing this or the other dress, she might easily see that they would be more so in greater matters, claiming independence and liberty as they do. She said that those who had disobeyed were certain ministers, not natives of this country, but Scotsmen, whom she had ordered to be punished. She is mistaken in this, for those who disobey are many, although the majority have resumed the old garb.
The archbishop of York is a great friend of Lord Robert, and thought well the other day to admonish and counsel the Queen with regard to her method of life and conduct, as the people were speaking ill of the favour she shewed to the earl of Ormond. The Queen was highly incensed and treated him with great roughness, and many hard words, and threatened to prosecute him. The matter has ended, however, at the instance of the earl of Leicester.
The late French Ambassador here left to-day. He thought to go to Flanders to see the country as he told me months ago, but he now says that he will go straight home to avoid any reason for certain suspicions which have been entertained with regard to events in the States. He did not wish to be blamed if anything happened, and assured me that he was a good Catholic, and faithful adherent of your Majesty, knowing how important it was for his King to preserve his friendship and alliance with you.
I am not quite sure about his being a good Catholic, but as to the rest he is a clever and serviceable person, and no doubt they will make use of him. His successor professes to be a Catholic and is so considered, although some of his servants are certainly not so, especially his secretary, who I hear on good authority is a great heretic, as was the man who occupied the post before. This is hardly appropriate for Ministers of the most Christian King in these times. The Ambassador is called La Forest, and is a brother of the bishop of Rennes, who was Ambassador of the Emperor, and is now in Augsburg.
The earl of Leicester told me that he was sorry to have had no opportunity of communicating with me lately. I told him that I also was sorry, but that when he wished to see me, I would seek an opportunity. I am standing rather aloof from the Court lately because the disputes between the duke of Norfolk's party and the earl of Leicester's continue, and I think it better to be cautious, feigning to know nothing in order not to be obliged to discuss matters with them, and so arouse suspicions on one side or the other, at least until I see how the Archduke's business will end. As the Queen shows me favour, and converses with me more than with others, they watch more closely what I say and do, and they are so suspicious than one must be even with them.
I learn from Ireland that the interview between the Viceroy and O'Neil has ended in an agreement for the present, whereat people here are very much pleased. It has been brought about they say by the earl of Kildare, who has assisted the Viceroy out of friendship for the earl of Leicester.
A person favourable to the Archduke's suit tells me that the Queen is now quite resolved to bring the matter about, and he is sure that no other change will be made. I am advised from another source that Robert and Throgmorton are now favourable to the business. It is hard to believe but still possible.
Cecil and Throgmorton have been reconciled through the earl of Pembroke. Cecil tells me that Throgmorton asked him in the presence of Lord Robert, whose familiar Throgmorton is, to tell him the causes that had deprived him of his friendship, and asked him to tell him frankly if he had committed any fault. Cecil told him that it was because he considered him too fond of innovations in Stale alairs, which he thought was pernicious and that he wasinclined to embroil and disturb matters. If, however, he would promise to act zealously and for the public good, he would be his friend, but not otherwise. Throgmorton promised to act well. His guarantors for this are the carls of Pembroke and Leicester, and they have promised Cecil that if he does not act rightly they will be his enemies. I thanked Cecil for telling me this, and told him that for all Throgmorton's guarantors, I would advise him not to put him in any better place than his present one, as his disposition is well known. Cecil agreed with this. I am told this Throgmorton is very French, but I fully believe that he will only remain so as long as it suits him and while he gets anything by it.—London, 25th May 1566.


  • 1. Huntly had fallen from his horse whilst bound and Murray's prisoner, and died of his injuries.