Simancas: October 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: October 1566', in Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 1, 1558-1567, ed. Martin A S Hume( London, 1892), British History Online [accessed 19 July 2024].

'Simancas: October 1566', in Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 1, 1558-1567. Edited by Martin A S Hume( London, 1892), British History Online, accessed July 19, 2024,

"Simancas: October 1566". Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 1, 1558-1567. Ed. Martin A S Hume(London, 1892), , British History Online. Web. 19 July 2024.

October 1566

5 Oct. 384. The Same to the Same.
Parliament opened on the 2nd instant, in accordance with the summonses, although it was thought that some delay would occur, as some of the Council considered necessary, because they feared religious disturbances, especially if your Majesty came to Flanders. Matters in the States have gone so far and the rashness of the sectaries is so excessive, that the opportunity for the heretics here was better than they had anticipated, and consequently no delay took place, but Parliament was rather hurried than otherwise. The Queen went on the first day, not in public but by water, and assumed the Parliamentary robes when she arrived there. Having made her speech, giving them leave to discus freely the business of the realm, and for the man chosen to speak for them to occupy his office, she recommended them to treat of important matters, and be resolute in their voting, and not too long in their speeches. She then returned home to dinner.
The reason why the Queen went without the ordinary ceremony is that this Parliament is not a new one but only a continuation of the last, or a session of it. Secretary Cecil informs me that the carl of Leicester had asked leave of the Queen for the French Ambassador to accompany her in the ceremony, in order to see the method in which things were done there, although the Ambassador told me that Lord Robert and others had pressed him to ask for such permission which I do not believe, but that he did it himself, with the object of being present, and bringing the matter of precedence on again. As I have said, however, the Queen decided to go alone by water. I do not believe that he is a man of sufficient talent to want to see new or extraordinary things, and this is a ceremony in which Ambassadors do not generally take part, as those present have their appointed places. For this reason, I have never taken steps to attend, and when my presence is not absolutely necessary, I think it best to keep as quiet as possible, seeing how the times are.
The same day as the Queen went to Parliament, I was with her in the afternoon, to treat respecting some business of your Majesty's subjects, she having sent for me, or I would not have troubled her on that day. Amongst other things, she asked me if I knew anything certain about your Majesty's coming to Flanders. I replied that I had not received any letter from your Majesty or your Court advising me of it, but that I heard it asserted on all sides. I thought however, that if the voyage was decided upon, your Majesty would send her timely advice, she being a person for whom you had so much affection, and desired to communicate to her all important affairs. She said she would be glad if your Majesty came, both to be nearer to you, and because you would punish the disrespect shown in the States, without rhyme or reason. God knows how true this wish may be, but I wish to believe her, and I receive it in good part.
Those who have the Archduke's business in hand say the Queen is better disposed towards it, and asked me to continue to help in the business. I do so in the same way as usual, and when she spoke to me about your Majesty's voyage, I told her it would be a happy juncture for her, when the Archduke was so near her country as he would be if he came to visit your Majesty, and he might come over to see her. She laughed, and said she was not worthy of it. I said, joking aside, that she had better look after providing an heir to the crown if she did not wish to have to nominate a successor to follow her. She said that appointing a successor was a troublesome and dangerous thing, as she had told me before. It is well known now that nothing will be done in this, and it is thought that Parliament will deal with no matter of importance excepting to vote supplies. The man who was chosen to speak with the Queen on behalf of Parliament is a furious heretic. Two other men were nominated, but this man had a great majority of votes, which proves how strong the heretics are, they having been much strengthened by the disturbances in Flanders. The earl of Northumberland, who I wrote had excused himself from coming as he was so far off, has now arrived.
Nothing new is known from Scotland, and although persons to represent that Queen in this Parliament were expected, they have not arrived, nor is their departure known for certain.
Nothing particular comes from Ireland, although the business is considered important, and they tell me that they are trying to send sufficient troops for effectual action. Up to the present, there has been no person appointed to take the Garter to the Emperor, although it is high time. They say it is because the Emperor is busy against the Turks. When I was with the Queen, the news that the Turks had taken Zigetch, had not arrived, but we had heard of the previous good fortune, and the Queen said she had ordered a thanksgiving to God. It would not be bad if they gave these thanksgivings from their hearts, but I am sure these heretics desire the success of the enemy, although he is a common foe. Some Catholics think that the heretics are to blame for the enemy's attacks, and some, even, lay it to the Jews, who, they say, have come from Portugal to Antwerp, (fn. 1) but I can discover nothing particular although I have used every effort both as regards this and the affairs of Flanders.
Three ships are fitting out to go to the Mina, and they say they will go thence to your Majesty's Indies as usual, for this is generally their real object.
I am also told that six or seven other ships are being fitted in certain ports, with the. same object. I have sent a person to find out what truth there is in this and if the ships have on board any building materials, so that I may take the necessary steps with the Queen, if such be the case.—London, 5th October 1566.
12th Oct. 385. The Same to the Same.
In my last of the 5th instant I told your Majesty I had sent a person to discover about the ships that I was informed were being got ready to go to the Indies. His statement goes herewith, and the intention appears to be to go to Guinea and capture negroes, and then to sell them in your Majesty's islands to the best of their ability. I received the statement on the 10th instant, and on the same day went to the Queen, and told her that she would recollect that when Captain Hawkins sailed two years ago she had assured me that he would not go to any place where your Majesty's subjects might be injured, or to any prohibited port. Notwithstanding this, and her orders to that effect, he had acted differently, and had traded in places where even your Majesty's subjects could not go without special license, and although I might have complained greatly of his action I had refrained from doing so, because certain members of her Council were interested in the enterprise. The news being published could not fail to reach your Majesty's ears, and as the business was an important one, upon which your Majesty laid great stress, you naturally would be annoyed. I understood that certain other vessels were now being prepared for a similar voyage, in accordance with the statement which I read to her, and I begged her to order these to refrain from offending by dealing or trading in any part prohibited by your Majesty, as apart from the fact that it is unjust to do so, your Majesty would have serious reason for complaint and resentment.
She replied that as to Hawkins' voyage she knew some of her Council had had an interest in it, but that they did not mean him to go to any place forbidden by your Majesty, nor had his intention been to do so, but he had been forced by winds, and had been driven to those places where he traded with the license and permission of the Governors, of which he had brought evidence. Until she had been satisfied upon this point she had refused to see him. I said I knew very well what had happened in the matter, but had passed it over for the reasons I have stated. If, however, no remedy was found I could not avoid informing your Majesty. She said that it was necessary that her subjects should know which were the forbidden places, so that they might not go there, and also that the Governors should be directed not to allow them to trade. I said that the places prohibited were very well known, and it was not right to expect your Majesty to build forts in your dominions, as a defence against your own friends, but that her subjects ought to know that they must not act in this way. She said that the French and other nations went there to trade. I said perhaps they did, sometimes, but it was against the wish of their kings, and without their knowledge, and they were only robbers and pirates who lived outside the law. She called Cecil, and told him to have these peopled summoned and examined as to where they were going, and then that such steps should be taken as were necessary This afternoon the Council is to meet to discuss the matter. I quite believe that the measures they adopt will be good, and advice should also be sent to the places they may go to, since there will be plenty of time for it, as they are going to Guinea first. I inform the king of Portugal's agent in Antwerp that he may send advice of it to his King, and so wherever these people arrive they may find resistance, and they may thus perhaps be prevented from making this voyage as an ordinary thing. It is important to stop this from the beginning. News arrived here yesterday that on the 26th ultimo, 21 French vessels that they say are going to Florida arrived at the port of Conquet, in Britanny, where they found four Spanish ships, which they took, and murdered the crews and then robbed many English ships which are there, not, however, killing the people. I am told that some Englishmen have arrived to complain of this to the Queen and demand redress. I am advising Don Frances, although I believe that he already will have news of it, seeing the importance of the business.
In the Parliament now sitting, nothing of importance has hitherto been proposed. It is, so to speak, a continuation of the last Parliament, in which it was ordained that future members should swear not to attempt in any way to change or alter religion, nor propose anything in favour of the Apostolic see. The heretics have tried to bring this Act into operation for the present session, but they were answered that the law had been made to apply to future Parliaments, and as the present one was a continuation of that in which the Act was passed, they do not think they ought to be called upon to take this oath. The question was referred to the law officers, and they agreed that the Act did not apply to the present Parliament, but as the heretics are in a majority, they decided to exact the oath from new members who might be elected in the place of those who had died.
From Scotland the news is that the country is quiet, and that the Queen is pregnant. Mass is said everywhere, and the Catholics can attend it freely, whilst others may hold their services without any interference. The persons who are to come to the Parliament on behalf of that Queen have not arrived. Nothing new from Ireland.
I am told that the duke of Norfolk will espouse the cause of Catharine, who is now in prison, and is a sister of Jane, in the matter of the succession, whilst Leicester will advocate the claims of the queen of Scotland. No doubt Cecil has persuaded the Duke, with whom he was very friendly, to this, with the idea that the daughter of the Duke may marry Catharine's son (although they are both children), but, as I have already said, I do not believe that anything will be done in the matter of the succession ; and it is quite possible that it may be proposed in Parliament only for the purpose of putting pressure on the Queen about the marriage, and may afterwards be abandoned or delayed in consequence of the many difficulties it presents. There are communications going on amongst the aristocracy here, which threaten a storm, but they do not declare themselves, and I think, considering that the winter is near, that they will not dare to make any open movement.
On St. Michael's Day the duke of Norfolk held the feast of the order in his house with the earl of Leicester : both of them wore the habit, and at the dinner was the French Ambassador and other courtiers. He sent me an invitation for the supper, but I excused myself, saying that I was not disposed to go because the French Ambassador had been invited to dinner. Leicester frequently says that he wishes to come and see me, as he desires to speak to me. I think he wants me to ask him to dinner, as I have done on former occasions, but since the disputes have arisen between him and the Duke on private affairs, although they say it was about the Archduke's marriage, I dissemble, and pretend that I do not understand, and reply to Leicester simply that he can come when he likes.
Count Rocandolf has arrived here from France, and is staying with the Ambassador. I understand he is only come on private business, and to beg the Queen for letters of favour to the King of France, respecting the killing of a man, of which he is accused. One of the counts of Arcos has arrived also, on private affairs. They say he is a pensioner of this Queen.—London, 12th October 1566.
19 Oct. 386. The Same to the Same.
On the 13th instant, Melvin, the queen of Scotland's gentleman arrived here and was with the Queen on the 14th, and afterwards came to my lodgings, bringing me a letter of recommendation from his Queen, asking me to aid and advise him. He tells me verbally that his King and Queen are well, and everything there is prosperous and quiet.
The reason of his coming is to satisfy this Queen that the earl of Argyll will not go to Ireland as was stated to help John O'Neil, and also to inquire from the Queen if the question of the succession was to be dealt with in this Parliament, as in such case the Queen would have to send persons learned in the law to present her claims. He also complains of an Englishman who has written a book on this matter against his Queen.
He tells me that the Queen had expressed pleasure at the assurance that Argyll would not help O'Neil, and that his Queen had so ordered. With regard to the succession, she said that it would not be dealt with, and no declaration would be made about in it this Parliament, and as regarded the book she knew nothing of it, but would order steps to be taken. I asked him whether he had spoken to the Queen about Lady Margaret. He said he had not, as he had no instructions to do so. although he expected to receive them, the reason being that there were disputes between his Queen and her husband which were of no great importance, and did not arise from want of affection, but from childish trifles. His Queen, however, was going to Stirling where the King was, and everything would then be made up.
With regard to the assertion here that people could attend Mass in Scotland, he tells me it is true, and Mass may be heard all over the country, the Protestant service being equally free without either party molesting the other.
It was said that the earl of Murray attended Mass with the Queen, but Melvin tells me this is not the case, as he only accompanies her to the church door. The Queen shows affection to him, and he is treated well. The Prince is in the keeping of the earl of Mar, who, although he is a nephew of Murray holds the castle of Edinburgh, and the Queen has trusted him in all her troubles.
On the 14th instant this Queen received news that the earl of Bothwell in attempting to capture one of the conspirators concerned in the Secretary's death had been killed by the delinquent. The story is told in the following way. That Bothwell was leading 300 horse to capture the rebel, and upon coming up with him and his force he had summoned him to surrender, whereupon the rebel had answered that if he did not let him go free he would defend himself. Upon this, Bothwell had discharged a pistol at him, wounding him, and with a second shot had again wounded him in the thigh. The wounded man then, with one stroke almost cut off Both well's head.
I asked Melvin if he knew anything about it, and he said that Secretary Cecil had thus related the matter, but when had left Scotland Bothwell was well, though it might have happened after wards as the Queen had decided to follow Both well and his party who had gone to apprehend the criminal. If it be true she has lost a man she could trust, of whom she had but few. He was courageous but of small use in council.
I wrote to your Majesty on the 12th instant, that on that day the Council had met here respecting my complaint about the ships which were to go to Guinea, and theuce to the Indies. The steps they have taken up to the present is to order the detention of George Tenar, who was to take the three ships which were being fitted out in Portsmouth, and they have sent to summon Hawkins who was fitting out his in Plymouth. With regard to the latter, they have delayed longer than I like, notwithstanding that I have hurried them all I could, as I am afraid they have delayed advising him so that he might have time to despatch his ships before the order arrived, which is the sort of things they are in the habit of doing here.
Secretary Cecil sent to ask me to furnish them with a memorandum of the places where it is forbidden to trade without your Majesty's license. I sent it to him, saying that the places were all the West Indies, Continent, and islands. He sent to say that the Council do not agree in prohibiting the Queen's subjects from going thither, as in all her Majesty's dominions your Majesty's subjects have full liberty to trade, and adduced arguments of little moment which in due course I replied to. As I thought that unnecessary delay had taken place, I told Cecil that if the matter were not settled shortly in a way that should prevent these people from going to the prohibited places, I should be obliged in your Majesty's interests to make a formal protest to the Council. This had the effect of hastening the business somewhat, and all that is possible shall be done. Cecil is well disposed in this matter, and I am not surprised that the other members are not as they are interested. Cecil assures me that he has always stood aloof from similar enterprises.
Parliament is still sitting, and the day before yesterday the supplies, which are usually voted to the Queen were proposed, not however, in the Queen's name, as Cecil had persuaded them to offer the subsidy of their free will, considering that the Queen had maintained peace and order in the country, and that although no open war was on hand she had secret enemies everywhere, who must be held in account, and aid was necessary in this respect as also in the matter of Ireland, where she had hitherto sent but few troops from England, but maintained a great many there at heavy cost. He also said that much expense had been incurred to clear the seas of pirates. The Protestant bishops have petitioned Parliament to the effect that although they are legitimate prelates without need of further confirmation, certain malicious people question their being so, and to overcome this inconvenience and others they ask to be confirmed in their office by Parliament. No answer has yet been sent to them.
The imprisonment of Lady Margaret has been made stricter, as also that of Bonner, the good bishop of London, and they are not allowed to communicate with anybody in order that they may not enlist the aid of members of Parliament.
Since writing this I have been informed that in the House of Commons great difference existed yesterday as to whether the question of the succession should be discussed before voting supplies. Some said that the succession was the prime cause of calling them together, and should be one of the reasons for granting supplies ; others that the succession should not be discussed until supplies were voted, as they thought it was disrespectful to seem to force the Queen in this way. The dispute went so far that on some of the members attempting to leave saying it was too late to deal with so important a matter, others insisted that the door should be shut to prevent them from leaving, and so they came to blows. They have again been discussing the matter to-day, and great disputes have arisen, but I am told no decision arrived at. The heretics generally are of opinion that' the matter should be dealt with, and the Lower House has adopted this, although it has not been confirmed yet in the Upper House. Only one Catholic said that he thought that this was not the time for pressing tho. Queen on the subject. She is extremely annoyed at the business, but these heretics neither fear God nor obey their betters.—London, 19th October 1566.
26 Oct. 387. The Same to the Same.
The discussion about the succession still goes on in Parliament, and the Queen is extremely annoyed as she fears that if the matter is carried further they will adopt Catharine, both she and her husband the earl of Hertford being strong Protestants, and most of the members of Parliament are heretics, and are going on that course to maintain their own party. I have always pointed out to the Queen the grave difficulties which might result from such a nomination, and the peril in which she and her affairs would be if Catharine were appointed her successor, contrasted with her security if she had direct heirs. She quite understands it, and three days ago told me that on no account would she allow this nomination to be discussed. She told me what had been done in the matter, saying that they had offered her votes of 250,000l. on condition that she would agree to it, but she refused, and said that she would not accept any conditions, but that the money should be given freely and graciously, as it was for the common good and advantage of the kingdom and the defence of Ireland. She is quite determined to concede nothing in this matter of the succession, although she wishes to dissemble and let them talk in order that she may know what are their opinions and discover the lady of each one's choice, by which she alludes to the queen of Scotland and Catharine. I told her if she married all this trouble would cease, and she said that within a week she would send to the Emperor, signifying that her intention was to accept the marriage, although Thomas Danet tells me that so far as he can observe the matter has greatly cooled.
On my telling the earl of Sussex the efforts I had used to persuade the Queen to marry, he told me the same, and greatly rejoiced that I had again pressed the matter upon her. He asked me if your Majesty was still favourable to the Archduke's match, to which I answered in the affirmative. The people who are favourable to it here have always been somewhat suspicious that your Majesty did not really wish for the match, although everything has been shown to the contrary. Sussex asked me if I would give him leave to affirm it. I said yes, and I was surprised that anyone could doubt it, seeing how attached your Majesty was to the Emperor and his brothers. He also told me he understood that I was not in favour of the settlement of the declaration of the succession. I told him it was true, as I desired the tranquillity of the Queen and the peace of the kingdom as a minister of your Majesty who loves them all. He answered that he was of the same opinion, on condition that the Queen should fix an early date for her marriage, and that it should be understood if she did not marry then that she would declare her successor, and I might be sure that Parliament would press the matter until she decided. With this object the Lords would meet jointly with the Commons, as I understand they did yesterday, although the Queen told me she thought they would not do so.
As I saw the Queen so angry with the members, nearly all of whom are Protestants, I told her to look at the intentions which these people professing the new religion displayed, their only object being to disregard their superiors, and order things in their own way, without respect or consideration. I told her it was meet she should take measures in time, and bear in mind the obedience and quietude of the Catholics compared with the turbulence of the Protestants. She answered me that she did not know what these devils wanted. I said what they wanted was simply liberty, and if Kings did not look out for themselves, and combine together to check them, it was easy to see how the license that these people had taken, would end. She could not avoid agreeing with me although she wished somewhat to excuse her friends, saying that they had some show of reason in their wishes with regard to the succession, but she thinks differently, and their pertinacity and obstinacy will by and by prove it better, as they are determined to press her more than she thinks.
Melvin was here yesterday, and has received news from his sovereigns, saying that they are well, although they had not met. It is a great pity, and injury that they are so divided, although the reasons for dispute may be trifling, but that Queen is so esteemed and popular with good people in this country that they lay the whole blame upon the husband. I have told Melvin to write to them, showing them the great need for them to be friends, and I have written to the Grand Commander of Castille, to advise the Pope to counsel them to the same effect. They tell me that perfect harmony exists amongst people in that country, and obedience and tranquillity are universal. The death of the earl of Bothwcll was not true, although he was in great danger from his wounds. He is now considered safe and the Queen has been to visit him.
Melvin, as I have said, has signified to this Queen from his mistress, that as the former does not wish the question of the succession to be brought up, she is so desirous of pleasing her that she will refrain from raising the subject ; but, that incase the matter had to be gone into for other reasons, she asked that she might be informed of it, so that she might send persons to present her claims. She had not wished to send them without this Queen's good permission. The Queen answered him, thanking his mistress, and saying that at present the question of succession would not be dealt with, but if it had to be raised, she should be informed, and her claims assisted willingly. She wanted the Queen to be informed that she was resolved to marry the Archduke, as only matters of small importance were now undecided, and they could easily be settled. She again thanked him for his mistress's orders, preventing Argyll from helping O'Neil.
Melvin has, however, been informed that the matter of the succession will be pushed on in Parliament, and he is told on good authority (for the Queen of Scotland has friends here) that the conclusion of the business will soon be seen.
Since writing this, I have received your Majesty's letters of the 3rd and 6th, the contents of which I will convey to the Queen as different news was current here.—London, 26th October 1566.


  • 1. Algunos catolicos piensan que tienen culpa los herejes de sus venidas y aún la ponen a los indios que dicen que han venido de Portugal á Amberes. The word "indios" is no doubt an error of transcription and should be "Judios" —Jews.