Simancas: December 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: December 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: December 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: December 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.

December 1566

2 Dec. 393. The Same to the Same.
I was with the Queen yesterday, and she expresed her great pleasure at the coming of your Majesty to Flanders, saying how glad she should be to entertain you here. After thanking her, I took the opportunity of expressing your Majesty's gratification at her condemnation of the action of the sectaries in Flanders. She was glad of this, and again confirmed her deprecation of the business.
Since the withdrawal of the orders given by her that Parliament should not discuss the question of the succession, no more has been said upon the matter, except that one member said something derogatory about the queen of Scotland, of which Melvin complained to the Queen, and she promised to punish him, and make him withdraw it as soon as supplies were voted. The grants have now been made but to a smaller extent than was proposed. The Queen asked for 300,000l. English money, in three instalments, and they have voted 200,000l. in two instalments. Both houses have agreed to ask the Queen to fix a time for her marriage. She says that they are now only discussing how they shall ask her pardon for the annoyance they had given her in the matter of the succession and she says she will forgive them all, except one, who is most in fault. She expressed her satisfaction at what the Catholics had done, and sorrow for their trouble, as she calls it, and has again thanked me for the part I had taken. When I said that I could not have done otherwise in fulfilment of your Majesty's order to serve her in all things, she said, that before Christmas, when Parliament was closed, she must have a long talk with me on many matters.
She tells me without hesitation that she will marry, but her counsellors who desire it do not believe her. When Parliament rises, which is expected in a week, I am assured that the earl of Sussex will go to visit the Emperor. Count Oliver de Arcos starts for Vienna to-day, and has taken leave of me. When the Queen spoke of his journey, she mentioned that of the earl of Sussex's also, but I believe Arcos is only going for his private affairs.
They write from Ireland that there has been an encounter between John O'Neil and Colonel Randolph, in which the latter was killed. They published yesterday that Randolph's troops routed O'Neil, and pursued him for three days, O'Neil losing 400 men, and Randolph being the only man killed on the English side. This is not true according to people who have come from there, but that several died on both sides, O'Neil not losing more than forty men. They only had two good soldiers here who understood war, and now that Randolph is dead, the only one left is Crofts (fn. 1) The Catholics are sorry for Randolph's death, and with reason, as he was a faithful one. He went on this expedition greatly against his will.
Nothing new from Scotland. The Queen well. All is quiet, and harmony exists between the Catholics and others. The King is with his father.
The Queen still complains of the earl of Leicester, but she tells me that she thinks he acted for the best, and that he was deceived. She is quite certain that he would sacrifice his life for hers, and that if one of them had to die, he would willingly be the one. She also gives credit to the others for good intentions. I think all will be arranged, and that Leicester is in no danger, and that the succession will not now be further discussed.
The Grand Commander of Castille has written me that the Pope, speaking of this Queen, had said that some persons assured him that she was well disposed towards the Catholic religion, but dared not show it in consequence of the sentence pronounced in Rome in favour of Queen Katharine, but that if she wished to reform, he would legitimise her, and if necessary, again invest her with the kingdom.
I replied that I did not believe she was a Catholic, although sometimes she shows signs of it, which come to nothing next day, and no doubt it is all trickery, but if a good opportunity offered, I would cautiously introduce the matter. This I have begun to do by saying that they write me that the Pope held her person and virtues in high esteem, and there was nothing however difficult which he could do for her which he would refuse. She said that certain Italians wrote her to the same effect, and she was much obliged. She seemed pleased with the conversation, and praised the good and pious character of the Pope, and then said, laughing, she thought he and she would get married. I will earnestly do my best for the match, but I have little confidence in her unless God himself does it all.—London, 2nd December 1566.
3 Dec. 394. The King to Guzman De Silva.
All your letters from the 15th July to the 6th December have been received, and we note all you say about affairs in Flanders, and the expressions of that Queen with regard to them. I have been not a little pleased to hear this, and the prudent manner in which you have conducted the business, thanking you for all your diligence and care. The Queen's pleasure at the news of my wife's continement, I can well understand, seeing our good friendship, and my brotherly interest in her affairs. I thank her for her sympathy for my wife's subsequent grave illness, and you will tell her, now, that, thank God, she is free from her malady, and sufficiently well to leave for Madrid.—Endorsed 3rd December 1566.
7 Dec. 395. Guzman De Silva to the King.
After Parliament had voted supplies to the Queen, no more discussion occurred with regard to the succession, although it was proposed to express that the grants had been made by Parliament, having in view that the Queen had voluntarily undertaken to marry within a certain time, and that if the marriage did not take place, she would undertake the consideration of the succession. It is believed, however, that the Queen will not consent to this addition nor will Parliament press her as was thought. It is true that the matter is not quite ended, but it is believed now that the Queen will have her way. It is not known whether Parliament will be dissolved entirely, or prorogued. They are now discussing certain matters respecting the Government of the country, and these men they call bishops meet apart to discuss their errors in order to get a confirmation for their acts from Parliament. The Queen is well, as is the queen of Scotland, where everything is tranquil. The baptism of her son, as I wrote, will take place on the 12th, although the duke of Savoy's proxy has not arrived, if he has not gone by sea direct.
I am told that this Queen gives great hopes of her marriage with the Archduke, and the queen of Scotland's representative here, begins to fear it, thinking that it may embarrass his mistress's interests.
The harmony which existed lately between the nobles here is beginning to cool, and it is believed they will soon return to their disputes and enmity.—London, 7th December 1566.
16 Dec. 396. The Same to the Same.
Melvin, (fn. 2) the queen of Scotland's gentleman here, left yesterday to be present in Scotland at the negotiations to be carried on there by him, and the earl of Bedford representing this Queen after the prince's baptism which had been deferred until yesterday. I understand the proposal is that the queen of Scotland renounces her claims to this crown during the life of the Queen and her issue, which has been discussed before. It is believed that the queen of Scotland will not do this unless the whole matter of succession is settled, and she is adopted as the next heir, failing this Queen and her issue. I have sent to tell Melvin that in case the Queen will not agree to the necessary conditions for securing his mistress's interests, he should not on any account break off the negotiations, but should delay them, and give this Queen to understand that there is every desire to fall in with her wishes, until the time arrives when he can see more clearly what should be done. He is also going because they have advised him that the duke of Norfolk has secretly sent an envoy to Scotland, and also because it is asserted that certain Scotsmen are going to the aid of John O'Neil, and if this be true, he would rather be in Scotland than here, and he has this Queen's promise that Parliament shall not discuss the succession or anything in prejudice to his mistress's rights, and if it be necessary to treat upon the matter, his mistress shall be advised in order that she may be represented.
The Queen is much annoyed at a book which is said to have been written by a Scotchman, and printed in France with the King's sanction, the subject of which is the rights of the prince of Scotland to this succession. (fn. 3) She excused herself by assuring me that she knew nothing whatever about the book, and the Council have spoken about the matter to the French Ambassador, complaining greatly that it should have been printed under privilege of his King. He replied that he would inform his King of it, as he has done and tells me that the printer is in prison. These people have made more of the matter than it deserves : the book will be prohibited by public crier, and the queen of Scotland has requested that the proclamation should state that the book was not written by her consent : it is true that her rights are not very tenderly treated. Lord Paget asserted in a Parliament held when your Majesty was here that the will by which King Henry the father of the Queen appoints as his heir, after his own children Frances, the mother of Jane and Catharine had not been signed by his own hand, and was consequently invalid, and without force as regards the appointment of Frances and her heirs as successors because Parliament ordered that the successors after the King's children should be those appointed by his will signed with his own hand. On account of this the queen of Scotland has asked the Queen to have some of the witnesses of the will examined in support of her claims inasmuch as the document does not fulfil the conditions laid down by Parliament. This the Queen has promised shall be done after Parliament closes, and that the words used by some of the members against the queen of Scotland's rights shall be retracted. It is not known yet if Parliament will be ended or prorogued. It would be much better for the queen of Scotland that it should be dissolved, as the members of the Commons are, as I have said nearly all heretics and adherents of Catharine, and if Parliament is prorogued, the same members will continue, whilst if it be dissolved new ones will be chosen, who in any case must be better than the present ones, as these are the worst that can be found. Melvin quite understands this, and that if the appointment of a successor were left in their hands his mistress would come out badly. He has assured me that if it had not been for my assistance in advising the Queen not to appoint a successor they would have brought her round to their views, as she herself has told me. He is therefore deeply obliged for what I have done, which has upset an artful plot in favour of Catharine.
Melvin tells me that the queen of Scotland wrote to Cardinal Lorraine, saying that she had friends in this country who would help her to her rights, and he answered her persuading her not to treat of such matters as these. The Ambassador of the king of France arrived in Scotland immediately afterwards, and placed special stress also upon this, and it is therefore quite clear that the French will try to prevent a union of these two crowns. He says that on his saying to this Queen that he understood that Catharine was being supported by the French with this object, the Queen had said that she believed it, but it was most likely the Admiral and his colleagues, although it was quite true that the Ambassador of France had informed her that the queen of Scotland had friends here, and warned her against any movement they might make, whereby he (Melvil) clearly saw their machinations, and the need of his mistress to guard against them.
The king of Scotland joined the Queen three weeks ago and they now live together. Although it seems she will not soon forget her anger at the King's share of past events, it is thought that time, and the King's determination to please her, will do much to reconcile them, and Melvin asks me to persuade his Queen to this end as I have always done, it being so important. I have written to her with all due respect, as I understand she is somewhat displeased at the idea that certain people here like her for other reasons than personal ones.
Melvin is pleased at the large party the queen of Scotland has here, and he takes with him the signatures of over a hundred important people who offer to aid her cause.
Count Oliver de Arcos, who was leaving for Vienna, is now waiting to accompany those who are being sent by the Queen, as she tells me.
It was thought that this Parliament had finished, but they defer their separation from day to day, and they are now proposing religious alterations to enable these heretic bishops and others who think like them to forward their evil designs, and establish their heresies, leaving out of account the good people of this country who think otherwise, and signifying that it is advisable that all people of the country should profess the same opinion. This proposal, confirmed by Parliament, is to be obeyed under grave penalties, and the Catholics are in great trouble, as they think it is only another way to molest them, and place them in greater straits than they are now. They ask me to urge the Queen not to give her assent to what the Parliament may adopt in this respect, as they fear that it will be passed by a large majority. The clauses of the proposal are not only written, but they are printed before the matter has been discussed.
I was with the Queen yesterday, and to draw her out, said amongst other things, that now that supplies had been voted, she should take means to close Parliament, as I thought that it would do nothing but cause her annoyance whilst it was sitting, and that she might be sure that assemblies of this sort, could not fail to cause disturbance, especially where the people have so much license to talk, and so great a hankering after new things, which often produced great inconvenience. She said this was true and she would try to have it closed before Christmas, although the members had begun to deal with religious affairs, which were quite foreign to their business.
I told her that this would prove to her clearly the bad intentions of those who made proposals like these, which were all directed to seditious ends, and not to her interests or those of the country. I said that the kingdom being at peace, and she having maintained herself, so many years in the way she had, any alteration would be an opportunity for the insolence and rashness of some of these people to impel them to further disturbance. Besides this, the Pope and the principal upholders of the old religion, in the hope that this country would settle down under her prudent rule in a way that should cause offence to none, have not thought fit to make any declaration against her or her subjects, but perhaps if they saw that with such a change as this, her country would stand entirely separate from the rest, they might consider and take steps which they had not hitherto thought of doing, and I, as your Majesty's minister desiring her welfare and repose, could not refrain from saying that she might find herself in a troublesome position.
She spoke at length upon the matter, and said, amongst other things, that those who were making these proposals, said they were doing so in her interests, and being unanimous, they would all defend her against her enemies, and against those who made claims against her.
I replied that I quite understood in order to bring her round entirely to their side against the Catholics, the professors of the new religion would try to frighten her, and make her believe that she would be in danger if she separated from them, or did not do exactly as they wanted, using for their argument the sentence that had been pronounced in Rome in favour of Queen Katharine. It was certain however, that, if she wished, this scruple might easily be repaired by the Pope, who, I know, desired to do it. She being the King's daughter, born in his house, confirmed by Parliament, and appointed by her father to succeed ; a crowned Queen as she was, had no reason to fear, but would have great friends on her side. She said it was true that the Pope had offered what I said, but he asked for everything and left her nothing. I said it was not to be expected that he would be avaricious, and would only ask what was fitting, particularly seeing the character of the present Pope. In any case, there was no more reason now to make changes than there was before, and they might wait until events showed them what had better be done. She said this was very well, but she thought these people feared that if she married the Archduke, the old religion would be restored, and no doubt they were treating the matter thus urgently in order to be forearmed. I remarked that some of her council feared rather, that she would not marry at all, to which she replied that what they feared was that she would marry. which would suit some of them better although they professed otherwise. She said she would do so, as she had said, if for no other reason but to disappoint them, and she would be glad if anyone would stand up in Parliament, and oppose these religious innovations, as she feared that if they were passed, such pressure would be brought to bear upon her that she could not refuse her assent. This is so, for although they have voted the supplies, they have not yet presented them to the Queen, with the intention of making her first consent to what they want, and although the Commons have passed the subsidy the House of Lords has not done so. It is true she has no reason to doubt them (the Lords), and they are delaying for the purpose that I have mentioned. I said that her Protestants did not like her, because she understood them and because she was so attached to the Cross. She said that they would like to abolish its use, but they would not do it. I have taken means thus to convey to her what it is right she should know, making her believe that I do it for her own sake alone. God help her! I wish I could have more hope of her welfare. The Queen says she is very sorry that your Majesty is going to Flanders by way of Italy instead of by sea, as she thus loses the hope of entertaining you.—London, 16th December 1566.
P.S.—I thought well to send the proposals respecting religion which are now being discussed, that your Majesty may have them considered, but I am just informed that the Queen has signified her wish that the matter should not be discussed.
Note.—In the King's handwriting. These cannot have come, send them to me, and remind me.
20 Dec. 397. The King to Guzman De Silva.
Your letters of 4th, 21th, and 28th, of September, 5th, 12th, 9th, and 26th of October, and 4th and 21st, of November received and answered in this. First we thank you for your great care and diligence in sending us such detailed news of events there, and enjoin you to continue the same, now more than ever, seeing the state of my Flanders dominions and the need to have full news of all that passes. I see with gratification what you say with respect to that Queen's reception of the news concerning my health and my wife's, and as to her pleasure on learning my voyage to Flanders. I send you full particulars in another letter on this matter in order that you may convey it to the Queen. You will advise us how she takes it.
I have been glad to learn what you write about the opening of Parliament, and the discussions therein with regard to the appointment of a successor, and particularly what had happened in the matter between the Queen and others. You have conducted the business very prudently, and as we are anxious to learn how it has ended, you will advise us fully of what has happened since.
Your action with regard to the preventing of Captain Hawkins and others from going to the Indies was very opportune, and you will thank the Queen from me for complying with your request, and say how highly I esteem this proof of her good will. You will take great care to learn all you can on this subject, as it is most important that we should have news of these things, in order to guard against them in time.—Madrid, 20th December 1566.
23 Dec. 398. Guzman De Silva to the King.
I hear from a friend of Benedict Spinola that during the last year and a half he has become so confirmed in his heresy that he is now quite violent in it, and this is proved by his close friendship with the bishops, whose sermons he attends. This has been confirmed by what the earl of Sussex told me some days ago, respecting certain advice Spinola had given to the Queen to make a closer friendship with the French, which he said was expedient to her, because your Majesty showed signs of helping the queen of Scotland. He said he had private advice from France that you had ordered help to be sent to her to the extent of 20,000 ducats, and used other persuasions to bring her round to his idea, but the Queen remained firm. I cannot see what further proof can be needed that he is a heretic, but it may be pointed out that he neither advocates your Majesty's interests nor writes to you.
Some time since I wrote to your Majesty that the duke of Norfolk was expected to marry the widow of Lord Dacre of the North. I am now advised in great secrecy that the marriage is being arranged, and will be carried out. This will greatly please the Catholics, as the lady is very Catholic, and of great talent and ability. The Duke would be a great gain to religion because, although he does not profess to be a Catholic himself, his advisers and others in his household are so, and these together with his wife, might easily bring him to a right way of thinking, especially since Leicester has gone over to the heretics.
By my last letter your Majesty will learn that the Queen was not expected to consent to the proposals with regard to religious innovations being discussed or passed by the House of Lords, as it had already been passed by the Lower Chamber. The nobles inclined to her desires, although the new Bishops made great efforts to the contrary helped by Leicester, who is a Lutheran and did not approve of soma of the clauses. Between him and the bishop of London, high words passed, and seeing that the proposal was not put to the Upper House by the Chancellor, the Bishops complained, and pressed the matter so much, that he had to confess that the Queen had forbidden the discussion of the matter, and the Archbishops of Canterbury and York went to speak to the Queen on the subject. She refused to receive them for two days, and on the third they tell me she treated them in such a manner that they came out very crestfallen ; and so the heretics remain.—London, 23rd December 1566.
Parliament closes tomorrow. The principal points, namely, the succession and religion, which the heretics thought to carry, have both been frustrated.—London, 23rd December 1566.
28 Dec. 399. The Same to the Same.
I wrote to your Majesty on the 23rd instant, that the Queen was to go on the following day to the last session of this Parliament All being arranged and the ladies already in the barges, as she was going by water, the ceremony was postponed, but they say that the House will close within a day or two.
The cause of the delay was that the members of the Commons being offended at the Queen's forbidding the discussion in the Upper House of the proposals which they had adopted respecting religious innovations, they refused to agree to the continuation of certain laws necessary for the good government of the kingdom, which, it appears are not perpetual, but have to be renewed from Parliament to Parliament. It was therefore necessary to defer the closing of Parliament until they had agreed to renew these.
On the 18th instant, the prince of Scotland was baptised with the usual Catholic ceremonies of the Romish Church, and in place of the proxy who was to attend for the duke of Savoy, the French Ambassador assisted. The infant was named James Charles. The earl of Bedford was not present at the ceremony, although he accompanied the prince to and from the doors of the place where the baptism took place. All is quiet there. Nothing new comes from Ireland. The sole subject of conversation here is your Majesty's voyage to the States of Flanders, the Catholics asserting that it is to take place, and the heretics contradicting it. These last are helped by the French Ambassador, who announces that he has letters informing him that your Majesty will not come, and he has sent to inform me to that effect, giving as his authority secretary L'Aubespine. Both parties speak according to their desires, although I believe this Ambassador is a Catholic, as he appears, and he has frequently told me that he is sure that not only Flemish affairs, but French affairs as well cannot be happily settled without the presence of your Majesty in the States.—London, 28th December 1566.


  • 1. Sir James Crofts.
  • 2. Sir Robert Melvil.
  • 3. The book was written by Patrick Adamson, a Scotch refugee in Paris, afterwards archbishop of St. Andrews.