Simancas: September 1569

Pages 190-198

Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 2, 1568-1579. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1894.

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September 1569

5th Sept. 137. Guerau de Spes to the King.
I have advised your Majesty that four sloops had been completely equipped in this river, the captains of which are M. de Dupin and Dembise, French rebels. The Queen promised George Speke and a servant of mine that they should not sail, and ordered Captain Winter to take their sails away, but, subsequently, by great pressure from Chatillon and Leicester, they have received license to leave, and are now outside. They cannot fail to do much harm, especially if they join three English ships on the coast which have been fitted out, and also with the bastard of Brederode, as they declare they will. I have informed the duke of Alba, and in order that the coast of Biscay may be prepared I have advised Juan Martinez de Recalde, to whom this letter is sent. It is carried by William Merrick, an Englishman living in London, an honest man, well known in Biscay. He goes in a tiny vessel of his, and I have authorised him to carry with him 80 or 100 pieces of coarse cloth, for sale, with your Majesty's permission. He also takes the Biscayners, who were in my house ; the rest of them, who were mostly married, having gone first. He is to consign them to Recalde and to await your Majesty's orders before leaving ; bringing back any despatches that may be given to him.
Your Majesty will see by my letters to the duke of Alba an account of all that is passing here. I await hourly the reply of the Duke as to the best way of dealing with these people. They are so cautious that one must needs consider very deeply how to approach them, particularly now that they are hopeful of French affairs and are consequently very far from being reasonable. Their dissensions amongst themselves may perhaps upset them, although disturbances have not yet commenced, but they can hardly be avoided, and the Queen must then come humbly to beg your Majesty's protection.
The Hamburg business is turning out well for them, and although they feel the stoppage of trade with Flanders, this outlet prevents the people from raising a disturbance.
The lack of trade with Spain they will redress with what the French bring from that country hither, and, as your Majesty's dominions are so broad, it is difficult to watch them as closely as this country, being an island, is watched. Still it seems that a somewhat stricter guard might be kept than hitherto, and, if this were done and the Hamburg trade prevented or disturbed, the English could not get on at all. If, on the contrary, it is to your Majesty's interest to treat them softy, an arrangement can easily be effected, especially with the humours now prevalent here. The less anxiety, however, we manifest for an agreement, the better terms we shall get.—London, 5th September 1569.
12 Sept. 138. The Duke of Alba to the King.
Is very ill. I will therefore only say what I have done about English affairs, in which I see the urgent need for remedy, both for the reasons your Majesty mentions and many others which are evident here, but until I receive the letters it has not been possible to proceed further. As soon as I received them I immediately sent a courier to Don Guerau with a letter he could show to the Queen, in which I said that I had letters from your Majesty and intended to send them by some persons who might speak with her, and desired him to ascertain whether she would receive them. I have prepared the instructions for the man who is to go and I have resolved to send Chapin Viteli (fn. 1) and a man of the long-robe called Junglo, a native at Utrecht, who has resided for a long time in Rome. Cardinal de Granvelle thought highly of him and I find also very good parts in him, which I think of turning to your Majesty's service, as there is a great dearth of (such) men. The councillors and myself thought it best to take this step, first as no time was lost thereby (the instructions being drafted the while), in order that the Queen might have no opportunity of offering us any insult. As soon as her reply is received, these two men will start, unless any change of view occurs between this and then. The matter has been hindered with no advantage to your Majesty's dignity by their (the English) listening to all the busybodies who have thought proper to interfere.—Brussels, 12th September 1569.
14 Sept. 139. Guerau de Spes to the King.
At daybreak on the 9th, a courier arrived with orders from the duke of Alba for me to endeavour to have the original of the letter which he wrote to me handed to the Queen herself for her answer. I therefore sent a servant of mine in haste to Southampton, and she was pleased to give him the passport requested, copy of which I enclose, as also of the Duke's letter, and I am now despatching the same servant to the Duke with the passport. (fn. 2) Thinking that Merrick's ship will not have left the mouth of the river, in consequence of contrary winds, I send this despatch out there to try to catch him, so that your Majesty may learn this news without delay. The sales of merchandise are being secretly stopped, at my instance, by the Judge of the Admiralty, although the fears of these people of dissensions amongst themselves also operate in this direction. The Queen has declared her will that the duke of Norfolk should not marry the queen of Scotland, notwithstanding that the Council had decided that the interests of the country would be served thereby. As the majority of the Council is on the side of the Duke in this, I think that certainly there will be, in a short time, great turmoils here. I will give prompt intelligence thereof to your Majesty and the duke of Alba. They have sent in the Hamburg fleet a large sum of money to Germany, and a part of the duchess of Vendome's jewels. A bishop who was here with Cardinal Chatillon, whom they call M. de Lisy and M. de Cavannes, formerly president of Toulouse, both of them belonging to the faction, also went with them to Germany.
The French ambassador sends me word that he had discussed three subjects with the Queen ; the marriage of the Christian king elsewhere, of which the Queen did not approve, the third matter being the release of the queen of Scotland to which she replied, that the time had not arrived for it, and that she did not much feel the want of her liberty, for she was able to find a husband even as it was.
The ten thousand crowns which the Duke sent for the queen of Scotland have just been handed by me to her representative.— London, 14th September 1569.
17 Sept. 140. Guerau de Spes to the King.
By the duke of Alba's orders I sent a letter he had written to me on the 25th ultimo to be delivered into the Queen's own hands, and sent a copy thereof to your Majesty on the 14th by William Merrick's ship, bound for Laredo. On the same day I sent my servant in haste to the Duke with the passport granted by the Queen to insure safe conduct for the persons who were to bring your Majesty's answer, and I am now awaiting the Duke's decision as to their coming.
The four sloops equipped here by some French and Flemish rebels were still, a few days ago, at Sandwich, where they were joined by Launcelot, bastard of Brederode, with a fine well-armed ship. It seems that he had already taken some vessels and had discharged the wines he found in them. They have been reinforced by five or six hundred Englishmen and they will go now in great array on their evil voyage. It is asserted amongst them that they have some understanding in Zealand. The Queen has already returned to Hampton Court, whither she has summoned all the members of her Council for this day week ; she has let the duke of Norfolk know her will that he should not marry the queen of Scotland, but I do not believe the Duke will desist from his enterprise in consequence. A stronger guard has been placed around the queen of Scotland, although I have understood that she will, nevertheless, soon find herself at liberty, and this country itself greatly disturbed. All the north is ready, and only awaits the release of the queen of Scotland. The latter is anxious to give your Majesty a very full account of everything, as events are now coming to a head, but I wait until I see the affair commenced before writing at length. Your Majesty can then decide what will be best for your service. Perhaps God is now opening a wide door which shall lead to the great good of Christendom.
I wrote to your Majesty that Cecil was arranging an agreement with the Portuguese as to commerce with that country, and now Antonio Fogaza, a Portuguese, who came from Lisbon lately, although he has resided here for a long time, is leaving. He says he will only endeavour to obtain a modification of the terms, but the wish of Cecil and some of the merchants who are concerned in the business is not confined to this point, but to bring the spice trade to this country, which, it is believed, the king of Portugal will not allow.
The Queen has detained all the ships that were going to Rochelle.
The plague is beginning to show itself in London. Perhaps the cold weather will stop it.—London, 17th September 1569.
18 Sept. 141. Antonio de Guaras to the Duke of Alba.
I wrote to your Excellency on the 14th instant by the person sent by the ambassador, and since then a great flotilla of ships is being fitted out here, it is said for Rochelle, as munitions, ordnance, money, and other stores are going. Cardinal Chatillon and the people here have understood that affairs at Poitiers are not going to their liking, and they are trying to send secretly what succour they can. News has arrived that the French bishop who, with some Englishmen and Frenchmen, were sent by Chatillon in the Hamburg fleet from here to Germany to raise troops, had reached Embden where he was to disembark.
It is said also by Englishmen who have arrived on this coast from Spain that 18 galleys, 12 French and 6 Spanish, had arrived at Bordeaux, as your Excellency will have learnt overland.
There is much talk about the marriage of the queen of Scotland with the Duke (of Norfolk), and those who think they understand the matter best suspect that much evil may come of it, both to the parties themselves and those who are concerned in it, as neither this Queen nor those who rule are pleased with the idea, and as they have the upper hand, they can, in time, do as they please with those who are against them. I pray God to protect the queen of Scotland, and that meddling ambitious busybodies may not bring evil to her, which may be feared, as this Queen will not tolerate the suggestion. The Portuguese I wrote about has gone, and, as the matter is most important, I presume your Excellency will have given orders about it.
The Court is coming to Hampton Court in 10 days from Southampton, where it has been lately, but will not come to London where the plague is raging, and Hampton Court, whither it is to go, is, as you know, isolated. Everbody here is talking of the coming of the persons said to be sent by your Excellency, and lodgings are being prepared for them by orders of the Court. Opinion varies greatly about it, but the rumour runs that those who are coming are Señor Chapin Viteli and the Licentiate Vargas, with a great following.
As I have said, it will be difficult to get the people here to agree, as their every action hitherto has shown a desire for discord, and, as your Excellency will see, it is very important that the gentlemen who are coming should be warned that these people are fully armed with tricks, with the object of preventing an agreement which, although they may pretend they earnestly desire, they abominate more than anything.
The first thing they will maintain, although falsely, is that your Excellency ordered the arrests first without reason ; their contention being that they were entitled to detain the money on Lope de la Sierra's ship because they falsely allege it to have belonged to private persons and was not for his Majesty's service. They say their intention never was to give rise to discord.
The second contention, more unfounded still, is that they deny having, by order of the Queen, taken away the rudders and sails from the four cutters carrying money, lying in Dartmouth and Falmouth, which they did in pursuance of their evil designs on the 15th December last. On the 19th of the same month they discharged all the money from Lope de la Sierra's ship and deprived him of the keeping of it.
In conformity with these sinister purposes of theirs they afterwards gave orders, without any provocation on our part, that all of our ships on the west coast should be deprived of their sails, and placed under the guard of Englishmen. This was done on the 29th December, which was the day they gave the ambassador the passport for the delivery of the money, and our goods, although they had previously, in pursuance of their malicious designs, ordered the seizures I have mentioned. This was done without the slightest provocation, as they could not have heard of the arrests made in Flanders on that day by your Excellency's orders, in consequence of their bad action here, which you will have learnt no doubt from the owners of the merchandise, whom I had promptly advised, as I was in charge of the interests of most of them, as well as from the ambassador. They will profess great willingness to restore what they have seized, but nothing is further from their thoughts, as they cannot do it at present, and never mean to do it, and yet your Excellency will see they will be impudent enough to say they are willing to come to a mutual agreement.
It will be found that they will afterwards claim all manner of ridiculous sets-off, such as that John Hawkins, who has been three or four times to the Indies with a great fleet, has been plundered of at least 500,000 ducats there.
They also allege that the property confiscated from Englishmen by the Holy Inquisition reaches a large amount, and they will claim that this shall be restored.
They also demand a great sum for the ships and property detained at Seville by Don Alvaro de Bazan, and very justly detained, because they resisted the officers of justice and endeavoured to cut out a French ship from one of his Majesty's ports.
All those claims will amount to more, as they themselves say, than the value of the property they have seized from me and the money of ours they have taken. The least they demand is that Englishmen abroad shall enjoy their liberties, and that we here must put up with all the insults and injustice we have suffered for years. They also demand that they shall be free to go with merchandise to the Indies, and that, neither in Flanders nor Spain, shall they be molested in person or property, for their heresies.
When the negotiations are undertaken, it will be found that these and other absurd pretensions will be advanced, and they will insist that his Majesty shall swear to leave them in the repose they desire, and forget all about the robberies committed by their pirates, supported by the favour of those in high places.
It must first be noted that they will never discuss the restitution nor settle the questions that have arisen since January last, without first assuring themselves of being able to end all pending questions, with the intention of thus avoiding restitution and all peace and quietude unless on their own terms. Your Excellency will find that I am right, for such is the feeling here, unless, indeed, French or other affairs force them to come to reason God grant that I may be mistaken, being, as I am, an imprudent and ignorant man, and that all things may turn out well.—London, 18th September 1569.
22 Sept. 142. Guerau De Spes to the King.
William Merrick's ship for Laredo left the river yesterday with two packets of mine for your Majesty. Afterwards, a servant of the duke of Northumberland, whom I know, came to me, and made me the sign which his master and I had agreed upon. He said that his lord and his friends in the North had agreed to liberate the queen of Scotland, as, thereby, they would assure the Catholic religion, and return to amity and alliance with your Majesty, which they so much desire. His master wished to know if your Majesty would approve of this, as he would undertake nothing that was not to your interest. I told him that these matters were so weighty that I could not reply to them. I would send an account of them to the duke of Alba, but that it was generally known that your Majesty's desire was to help religious matters.
He told me also that the Queen had sent the earl of Huntingdon with other gentlemen to guard the queen of Scotland together with the earl of Shrewsbury. She had strongly resented this, as the earl claims a right to the Crown, and the bishop of Ross is coming to this Court in her name to protest. He is expected to-night to Windsor.
The duke of Norfolk is here preparing all his friends. I will advise the duke of Alba hourly. I await a reply to the letter taken by my servant on the 16th instant, with the passport I have written about.
The armed sloops appear to have gone in the direction of Friesland. Other English pirates have brought some more captures from your Majesty's subjects to the Isle of Wight where, I am informed that the three Venetian vessels which were so anxiously looked for and desired have arrived. John Killigrew came from Germany lately ; it is said that he wants more money and credits for negotiations there. When the Queen is at Windsor I will try to find out more details about it,—London, 22nd September 1569.
25 Sept. 143. The Duke of Alba to the King.
I learn from Don Guerau that he at once showed my original letter to the Queen and he has sent a servant of his to me with the passport for the persons who are to go. Chapin and Junglo are now getting ready. I am anxious about the business, because, although there are certain means which might be used, placing dignity aside, those who surround the Queen are so greedy, and they have been promised so much by those who, without authority, have meddled in the affair, that I am sure they will be very unwilling to agree to a restitution, and, if they refuse it, I do not know how we shall be able to avoid a rupture, which would be most prejudicial to your Majesty's interests at present. I am resolved to send Fiesco again, without letting anyone know his errand, to try to gain over the earl of Leicester and Cecil, who entirely govern the Queen and do and undo as they please. He is, at the cost of the interested parties, to try to dispose them towards the negotiations, urging upon them, at the same time, that, on no account in the world, should any of your Majesty's agents there know that they (the parties interested) are offering them anything, as it would ruin them (i.e., the parties interested). I have no doubt that if this thing is to go on, it will be necessary to arm a fleet to protect commerce between these States and Spain ; but there are so many things to be considered (besides the great danger it would run of being caught in a tempest and driven to England) that until I have consulted experienced people I cannot send your Majesty an opinion as desired.—Brussels, 25th September 1569.
? Sept.
B. M. Cotton, Galba, C. III. Original, French.
144. The Duke Of Alba to Queen Elizabeth.
Letter of credence for the marquis of Cetona (Chapin Viteli) who is sent to negotiate about pending questions. He is accompanied by M. de St. Severin and Secretary Jacques de la Tour.—Brussels, September 1569.
27 Sept. 145. Guerau de Spes to the King.
Since my letter of the 22nd, through Don Francés de Alava, the duke of Norfolk, who was in London, having learnt that the Queen desired to have him arrested, suddenly departed for his country, and on the road sent a letter to the Queen, a copy of which, translated from the English, I now enclose. As soon as he arrived in his country, men flocked to him, both horse and foot. The Queen is greatly alarmed about it, and has summoned to Windsor, where she is, all the members of the Council, sending Master Garret, captain of the pensioners, with her reply to the duke. I am told that she writes gently in order to tranquillise him. The greater part of the Council favours the duke. They are meeting to-day to consider the situation, and I will try to discover the result of their meeting for the information of your Majesty and the duke of Alba. I did not like to raise any doubt as to your Majesty's favour in my conversation with the earl of Northumberland's servant, or to discourage the duke of Norfolk's party, but have referred the question to the duke of Alba. They were about to despatch some one to inform the duke fully, and the queen of Scotland intends to do the same, although there will be a difficulty now in getting passports. In the meanwhile, the queen of Scotland has sent me the enclosed letter for your Majesty, and another for the duke of Alba. She dwells strongly to me upon her alarm and suspicion at the earl of Huntingdon, her rival in the claim to succession, having been sent to guard her, although the earl of Shrewsbury was there. The bishop of Ross is at Windsor praying for audience, which has not been granted. He wrote to the Queen complaining that Huntingdon should have been entrusted with the care of his mistress, and Cecil replied that Her Majesty would be in no danger. They have put a double guard in the Tower here. Perhaps these things portend something favourable. I cannot think otherwise, although, on the other hand, I observe that Cecil and his fellow Protestants on the Council are still very much deceived, for, even now, with their peril before them, they will not come to reason, so firmly have they got it into their minds that their religion will prevail.
John Killigrew, the queen's agent in Germany, returned recently. With him came a gentleman from the duke, Hans Casimir, pressing for a larger sum of money than has yet been paid to him, to provide for his entry into France. But with these signs of revolt I expect that neither this nor the fleet for Rochelle will be so readily pushed forward. I desired to send a special courier to the duke of Alba to advise him of all this. I await the return of the servant I sent to him with the passport for the persons who are to bring your Majesty's reply hither. There is no great change in the health of London since I wrote.
Two out of the six Venetian ships have arrived, and the others cannot be much longer delayed. On the coast of Granada they met a band of your Majesty's galleys, which saluted them in a friendly way. They entered the Tagus, but touched in no other part of Spain. They found there the other Venetian ships which had sailed from here. The arrival of these vessels will be of great benefit here.—London, 27th September 1569.
30 Sept. 146. Guerau de Spes to the King.
I despatched a courier on the 27th with the enclosed letter, and with a passport granted by the Committee who always gives them. The courier was sent back from Dover, notwithstanding the passport, but, even thus, they paid him more respect than they did to another courier sent on the same day by the French ambassador who was assailed as he passed Rochester by masked men, and robbed of his papers. My courier returned, and I have sent to Windsor to ask for a passport signed by the Queen herself ; but as they are delaying sending it, and things are of such importance, I despatch the bearer of this in a boat to inform the duke of Alba of what is going on, although I am afraid that they will discover it.
When the earls of Pembroke and Arundel and Lord Lumley arrived at Windsor, they were very warmly welcomed by the Queen, but when they got to their lodgings they were ordered not to leave them without the Queen's permission. This has caused great consternation in the country, and everyone casts the blame on to Secretary Cecil, who conducts these affairs with great astuteness. The duke of Norfolk would not receive the captain of the pensioners, who had been sent to him ; but despatched a servant of his to excuse himself to the Queen, saying that he was indisposed, but that if some members of the Council would come and confer with him, he would meet them at a place to be mutually agreed upon. It appears the Queen, in order not to alarm him the more, has again sent the same captain and another gentleman, with 25 or 30 horse, with orders not to lose sight of the Duke. I do not know what will happen ; but I understand, considering the number of the Duke's friends in England, he cannot be ruined, except by pusilanimity, and the queen of Scotland has sent to urge him to behave valiantly, and not to fear for his life which God would protect. She and the Duke wished to send a person to the duke of Alba, but it has not been possible as the ports were closed. I, in any case, refer them to the duke of Alba, as your Majesty commands. They are equipping here four-and-twenty vessels and are shipping cannon on board of them, as well as sending artillery to Windsor and Nottingham, whither they have taken the queen of Scotland, having transferred her from Wingfield to Tutbury, and thence to Nottingham. They have relieved the earl of Shrewsbury from guarding her, to her great sorrow, and she is now in the power of of the earl of Huntingdon and Viscount Hereford with 500 Englishmen. The bishop of Ross had audience without the presence of a secretary, and he was told that the Council would give him an answer. The Queen has removed the captain of Berwick because he is a friend of the duke of Norfolk, and has summoned most of the nobles to Court.
I have no news from Flanders, other than the arrival there of my servant with the passport. I will advise your Majesty of everything ; but if any delay should occur, it will prove that the coast of this country is so closely guarded as to prevent intelligence leaving it. God open a road for the recovery of what has been plundered from your Majesty's servants, and punish some of these bad councillors, as otherwise they will continue their evil deeds.—London, 30th September 1569.


  • 1. This famous Florentine soldier, who had beaten Barbarossa from the coasts of Tuscany and had secured the duchy of Sienna to Cosmo de Medici, had been made marquis of Cetona by Cosmo, and had been requested to accompany the duke of Alba to the Netherlands as chief of the staff. He had been an unflinching lieutenant of the Duke during the years of terror which succeeded his arrival, and was extremely unpopular in consequence. His tremendous obesity attracted much satirical notice in England during this mission, and was, in 1575, indirectly the cause of his death. He was too fat to walk, and during the long siege of Ziericsee, where he commanded, had to be carried about in a chair. By accident or design (it is believed the latter), he was overturned and fell down a slope, causing injuries which proved fatal to him.
  • 2. The permission and passport for Chapin Viteli and his associates to come to England.