Simancas: February 1567

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: February 1567', Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 1, 1558-1567, (London, 1892), pp. 615-621. British History Online [accessed 24 June 2024].

. "Simancas: February 1567", in Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 1, 1558-1567, (London, 1892) 615-621. British History Online, accessed June 24, 2024,

. "Simancas: February 1567", Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 1, 1558-1567, (London, 1892). 615-621. British History Online. Web. 24 June 2024,

February 1567

3 Feb. 405. The Same to the Same.
The Queen entered London the day before yesterday, apparently well, only that she treats her stomach badly. I went out to meet her five miles from here, in order to accompany her and to miss no opportunity of further disgusting these heretics when they see me speaking to her, and in order also to inspire greater distrust amongst the Flemish rebels as to any help they can obtain from her, and so to dispose of the vain rumours which are circulated here by malicious people to discourage the godly.
The Queen told me to write to your Majesty that she could not exaggerate her joy and pleasure at your coming, which would be all the greater if she could have an opportunity of entertaining your Majesty in this country.
I understand, as I have already written, that the French Ambassador here is out of all patience at your Majesty's coming to Flanders, and especially your coming in force, although he expresses quite the contrary to me, and I make every fitting demonstration of friendship to him. I advise him frequently that I am told the French heretics are carrying on active communications with those of this country, and that his King should take care not to trust them as all their aim and design is to place him in a difficult position from which it will be hard for him to extricate himself ; separating him from his friends who could defend him, and so to take advantage of his need in order to force him to do exactly as they wish.
The Ambassador thinks that there is not much foundation for the statement so far as regards these people, and tries to convince me of the perfect harmony that exists in France ; as if we did not understand everywhere what is going on.
The Committee of the Council which was to meet for the despatch of the earl of Sussex, who were the duke of Norfolk, earl of Pembroke, the Chancellor, Petre and Cecil, took their resolution to the Queen on the last day of the month, but the business was not settled, and the Duke tells me that the Queen is still changeable about it. He was dissatisfied that the business had not been concluded, and said if the Queen did not soon make up her mind, he would not wait, but would look after his own household and children, so as not to find himself ruined some fine day.
Sussex also tells me that he came to London from the last house the Queen stayed at, and was to return on a certain day. Not being able to do so, however, the Queen asked him what had detained him, and he said that he had been busy preparing for his departure, to which she replied, that it was not decided yet that he should go. He was very dissatisfied at this, and seems now to be discouraged about the Archduke's affair.
Changes here are so constant, that, although it was decided to resume the discussion of the matter last night, and settle the business, there is still no sign of any decision, and those who are in favour of the match are now downcast. They had reasons to be confident of the business being carried through, if we had not seen on previous occasions what had happened with regard to it, and I am told that the opponents are still trying to hinder the matter by again bringing up the question of the succession, with no other object but to obstruct the Archduke, and again put Leicester forward.
Although I came all the way by the side of the Queen conversing on various matters, she said nothing about the marriage nor about the earl of Sussex's voyage, although we spoke of the Emperor and his brothers, respecting the divorce which it is said has been requested by the king of Poland. I therefore thought that the matter had cooled somewhat, which was afterwards confirmed by the Duke and Sussex.
The duke of Norfolk was married on the 29th ultimo, without any rejoicing or demonstration. He was married at the house of his wife's mother, who with her daughter are good and virtuous Catholics, and if they quite win over the Duke to their religion, it will be a great gain to the country, as he has a large following and is a good and upright gentleman.
Margaret, mother of the king of Scotland, is still in prison, and greatly grieved, as she writes me, at the disputes between her son and his wife. She begs me to make every effort to bring them into harmony again, and also to speak to this Queen with regard to her liberation, or, at least, that she shall be taken out of the Tower and placed in some private house in confinement, as she not only suffers now morally, but is in great need, as they have taken all her property. If opportunity offers, I will remind the Queen of it. The earl of Bedford, who had gone to Scotland for the christening and certain other negotiations between the two Queens, arrived here on the 1st, but I have not yet heard what news he brings. They tell me that the queen of Scotland was going to meet her husband, who was travelling towards her, and that Secretary Lethington will be here in a few days.
It is most important that they should make friends, and if they do so, I understand they will increase their party here from day to day.—London, 3rd February 1567.
8 Feb. 406. The Same to the Same.
By way of Flanders I wrote to your Majesty on the 3rd inst. that the Archduke's business had cooled somewhat, but that the duke of Norfolk was going to press the Queen again on the previous evening. He could get, however, no satisfactory reply, and on the third, the same day, he retired home with his wife, and on the following day the earl of Sussex addressed the Queen on the matter, and his departure for Germany, feeling sure that she would decide with regard to it, that being the reason why he had accepted the commission, as it was not necessary that he should go simply to take the Garter. He urged her also that as the matter had been so frequently discussed, the resolution should now be taken, as he did not wish to deceive the Emperor.
The Queen replied more temperately than she had done to the Duke, and assured him that she intended to make up her mind, and Cecil, who was with the Queen afterwards, confirmed her in this intention. I was speaking yesterday with the Queen on the matter, and she told me she would send to the Emperor the clauses to which she would finally agree, for the marriage, and if thereupon the marriage was not concluded she would take the steps that might be fitting for the good of her country and herself. I cannot understand how the business will end, not can those even who are deepest in the arrangement of it.
The Queen told me yesterday that she heard your Majesty was not coming to Flanders, and I believe she gets the news by way of France. I answered that I had no news other than what your Majesty had commanded me to say, and that I believed that was true. She replied that I was right, but that princes had sometimes to alter their minds according to circumstances.
This news has also been spread in Flanders, as I learn by letters of the 18th ult., from there, and that the duke of Alba was preparing to leave but slowly. Any news of this sort causes great injury to us in Flanders, and elsewhere, even though it be without foundation, as heretics and evil persons take advantage of it to comfort their own side and alarm their opponents.
Since writing this, I am advised that the king of France and his secretary L'Aubespine write the same news with regard to your Majesty's coming in private letters to the Ambassador.—London, 8th February 1567.
17 Feb. 407. The Same to the Same.
On the 14th inst. Secretary Cecil sent to tell me that the Queen had news of the finding of the dead body of the king of Scotland out of doors in his shirt, but without a wound, and with him the dead body of one of his servants, but no news has come as to who had been the author of the crime, nor were any other particulars known. What has been learnt is that the King had been very ill of small-pox in Glasgow, and that the Queen went there to visit him, but he was in so bad a state with the erruptions on his face that he begged her not to see him, till he was somewhat better to which she agreed. After the crisis of the malady was past, she saw him and brought him to Edinburgh in a litter, and placed him in a country house near the city, and it was here that the misfortune happened, the Queen being they tell me at the Castle. The case is a very strange one, and has greatly grieved the Catholics. I think that more must be known than Cecil tells me, because when I sent to ask him if he had any further particulars, he told me he had not, but we should soon know more because the earl of Murray was coming hither, and two gentlemen also whom the queen of Scotland was sending respectively to France and England, who no doubt would bring further details.
On the 18th ult. I wrote your Majesty, that I had heard that persons seeing the disagreement existing between the Queen and her husband had offered the former to do something bad to the King, to which she had not agreed, and although I had received the news from a good quarter it seems to me incredible that the Queen should have been approached in such a manner.
The duchess of Parma writes me that Don Francés de Alava had advised her that he had news of a plot being formed in Scotland against the Queen, and on the following day I had a letter from Don Francés to the same effect, brought by a servant of the Scotch Ambassador in France, but it would seem impossible that the Queen who has always given evidence of virtue and piety, should have consented to any such action as this. If however, it should appear that she had she would lose many friends here, and the possibility of extricating this country in religious matters by her instrumentality would be distant. If the contrary be the case the evil is not so great, and things would remain in their present condition. In any case the question of whom she is to marry should be kept in view, for obvious reasons, and when the man who she is sending arrives here, I will endeavour to discover the truth of what has happened in order to advise your Majesty and incline the Queen not to dispose of herself until your Majesty can counsel her on the matter. Of course the French will do all they can to get her to marry to their liking. I wrote to the queen of Scotland what your Majesty ordered respecting what she had been told of the bad offices of her husband in writing against her to your Majesty, the Pope and other Princes in the matter of religion, and I undeceived her upon the matter, advising her at the same time of your Majesty's voyage to Flanders.
No further news has come from Ireland, since mine of the 8th inst. except that the Viceroy begs leave to resign his office and return, and that suspicion exists that the earl of Desmond (?) will join John O'Neil, which, if it be true, will give them trouble.
On the night that the king of Scotland's death was known here Lord Robert sent his brother the earl of Warwick to the carl of Hertford, Catharine's husband, to offer him his services in the matter of succession, and Lord Robert himself went to see the duchess of Somerset, the Earl's mother, with the same object, and had made friends with both of them, contrary to his former action as he has shown signs of a desire to help the queen of Scotland. Here, however, opinions change from hour to hour.
Cecil still assures me that the earl of Sussex will go to the Emperor. I fully believe that if the Queen does not put her affairs in order, trouble may result here.
Five or six days ago, a servant of M. de. Montgomeri arrived here, and they tell me has been with the Queen. It is not known yet whether he discussed anything else, but to ask leave for his wife and children to come to this country, as he says they are not safe in his house in consequence of the dispute he has with M. de Martigues, but it is not thought that this is really the principal object of his coming. We shall know by-and-bye.—London, 17th February 1567.
22 Feb. 408. The Same to the Same.
On the night of the 19th inst. Melvin, the queen of Scotland's gentleman who has been here on previous occasions, arrived here as a messenger from his Queen to the queen of England. He tells me that when the King's death happened he had already started on his road hither, but as soon as he learned what had happened he returned in order to know whether his Queen wished to alter anything in the despatch of which he was the bearer. She was too much distressed for him to see her, but had ordered him to continue his journey as he had been previously instructed. He relates the murder of the King in the same way that I wrote in mine of the 17th, only that the queen was not in the castle, but in her house in Edinburgh, which is as far from the place where her husband was as the palace of Westminster is from St. James's, and every day since the King's arrival, the Queen had been to visit him and on the night of the murder had been playing with him for three hours and had given him a jewel. At two o'clock after midnight the house was blown up and the next morning the King and one of his grooms of the chamber who slept in the same apartment were found dead in the garden, but without any signs of wounds, and forty paces from the house. In the ruins of the house another servant had been found dead, five others having escaped, who only knew that they had heard the noise.
He tells me the house was a small one, with gardens and in a good and healthy position, and for this reason the King had chosen to lodge there. I asked him certain questions to try and get at the bottom of the suspicions as to who had been the author of the crime, but could get nothing definite. He fears greatly that some rising or disturbance will take place in the country, because he having left the Queen confined to her chamber with the intention of not leaving it for forty days, as is the custom of widows there, he is now told by Secretary Cecil that she had come to Dunbar on the frontier with the earls of Argyll, Bothwell, and Morton who are adherents of the duke of Chatelherault, the claimant to the succession of the crown against the King's father failing the present Queen. I asked him how it was the Queen could leave Edinburgh, the strongest fortress in the country, if she feared a rising, and he said that both it and Carlisle were in the hands of the earl of Mar, a friend of the King, and that the earl of Maxwell had left court dissatisfied, he having been the negotiator of the marriage, and the King's intimate friend.
This would seem to infer that the Queen or her followers had some prior notice of the misfortune, although this seems incredible. Even if the Queen clears herself from it, the matter is still obscure.
This Queen expresses sorrow at the death of the King, and she thinks that although he married against her wish yet as he was a royal personage and her cousin, the case is a very grave one, and she signifies her intention to punish the offenders. She sent to inform the King's mother of his death by the countess of Withington, (fn. 1) the wife of the Lord Chamberlain, and the wife of Cecil. The mother was so grieved that it was necessary for the Queen to send her doctors to her. She has been taken out of the Tower, and placed in Sackville's house, where she arrived yesterday.
Melvin has been told and repeats to me that Lady Margaret used words against his Queen, whereat I am not surprised, as I told him, because grief like this distracts the most prudent people, much more one so sorely beset. She is not the only person that suspects the Queen to have had some hand in the business, and they think they see in it revenge for her Italian Secretary, and the long estrangement which this caused between her and her husband, gave a greater opportunity for evil persons to increase the trouble. The heretics here publish the Queen's complicity as a fact, but they are helped in their belief by their suspicion and dislike for her. The Catholics are divided, the friends of the King holding with the Queen's guilt and her adherents the contrary. However it may be this event will give birth to others, and it is quite possible that this Queen may take the opportunity of disturbing the Scotch ; more for her own ends, than for any love she bore the King, as she no doubt thinks that she is entitled honestly to take advantage of events.
After writing this I had an audience with the Queen this afternoon ostensibly to speak of certain matters concerning your Majesty's subjects, although principally to speak about Scotch affairs, and find out her opinion with regard to them, and if she had any further particulars. She spoke of the matter with much apparent sorrow, and said she thought it very extraordinary, but cannot believe the queen of Scotland can be to blame for so dreadful a thing notwithstanding the murmurs of the people. I told her I thought the rumours were set afloat by people who desire to injure her, and make her odious in this country in respect to the succession, but I agreed with her that the thing was incredible, and advised her (Elizabeth) to be on the alert to prevent undue elation of the opposite party who were strong and might cause trouble, meaning that of Catharine, although I did not mention her name. She tells me she had already taken precautions by certain signs and words she had used to exculpate the queen of Scotland, and says she is not sure that the Queen had left Edinburgh as Cecil told Melvin.
I told her that certain persons were not without suspicion that the whole affair might have been arranged by those who wished that the queen of Scotland should marry in France, and she should be very careful to treat the matter in a way that should bind the queen of Scotland to her, in order that the latter should not dispose of herself without her consent, which she might do if she saw herself driven into a corner. The Queen thought well of this and said she would do so, and would send to visit the queen of Scotland. I alarmed her as much as I could to incline her to this, and showed her the inconvenience that might result from the queen of Scotland's marrying in France, with all necessary caution as if for her own good.
I praised her action in consoling and taking Margaret out of prison, and said how it had been approved by all, and I again reminded her of the need for Princes to agree together, for mutual support, in order to give no opportunity for bad subjects and rebels to obtain so much license as they claim now from their masters. This seemed to her very necessary, and truly in the present state of things it is. The interests of religion may be also brought on as a consequence of this, as without religion of course peace and quietness cannot exist.
The Queen has ordered all the keys of doors leading to her chambers to be taken away, and the only entrance is by one door. Great care has been ordered in the guard of her house. I do not know whether the Scotch business is the cause of this, or if there have been any signs of disaffection in this city, which make a special guard necessary ; but I do not think that it is anything of importance. —London, 22nd February 1567.


  • 1. Sic in original. Cecil in his letter to Sir Henry Norris in Paris, February 20th, 1567 (Cecil Papers), says : "The Queen's Majesty sent yesterday my Lady Howard and my "wife to Lady Lennox in the Tower to open this matter unto her ; who could not by any means be kept from such passion of mind as the horribleness of the fact did require."