Simancas: February 1576

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

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'Simancas: February 1576', in Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 2, 1568-1579, ed. Martin A S Hume( London, 1894), British History Online [accessed 19 July 2024].

'Simancas: February 1576', in Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 2, 1568-1579. Edited by Martin A S Hume( London, 1894), British History Online, accessed July 19, 2024,

"Simancas: February 1576". Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 2, 1568-1579. Ed. Martin A S Hume(London, 1894), , British History Online. Web. 19 July 2024.

February 1576

1 Feb. 439. Antonio De Guaras to Zayas.
On the 28th ultimo I sent my last report. I subsequently informed his Excellency that M. de Champigny (fn. 1) had been with Lord Burleigh for nearly two hours, and the details of the interview view will have been conveyed to his Excellency by M. de Champigny. I afterwards had a conversation with Lord Burleigh, who told me that he was very glad to have heard from his Excellency through so important a gentleman, who seemed to be equally dignified, business-like, and frank in his communications. In the course of conversation I said that as he, Burleigh, had been certainly instrumental in settling past dissensions, I trusted that he would at the present juncture be the means of preventing the carrying out of the intentions which were publicly stated to be held by the envoys of Orange, to offer to the Queen the possession of the patrimonial States of our King, and I hoped that the Queen would never accept such an offer, nor send either public or private forces to the country, seeing the ancient alliance, respect, and love, which his Majesty bore towards her. He replied that the French were aiming at this, and, if the Queen assented to it, it would only be in his Majesty's own interests, whereupon I said that the French would never be parties to enter the States, as they had experience of the attempt of Genlis, and especially what had taken place with Ludovic. (fn. 2) I said that Orange could not surrender the States by way of France. Burleigh replied that they (the French) could go through Calais, and I said that he knew as well as I did that the French had still less chance of entering by that way, as they could only do so by the express consent of the Queen, who was paramount in the Channel. He said that the friendship which the royal house of England had always held with the house of Burgundy would cause the Queen to favour the latter in the preservation of its privileges, but, that foreign intruders had trenched upon these privileges to such an extent, as not only to cause grave injury to the States, but to jeopardise England as well. I said I was surprised that he should call Spaniards foreign intruders, as they were the subjects of the same Prince, who possessed the States, whereupon he replied angrily, "You people are of such sort that wherever you set foot no grass grows, and you are hated everywhere." I affected to laugh at this, and said that this was like the Romans, who were hated all over the world in consequence of their bravery. As for the French, I said, our King's forces would certainly prevent them from entering the States, and if the Queen, his Majesty's sister and ally, did not help our rebels, Orange would try to escape and abandon the States in a very few months. I said that, when order was duly restored there, no evil would ever come to England therefrom by his Majesty's wish. He would rather defend this country against the French and Scotch, who were its ancient enemies. Burleigh replied, that Holland and Zealand would as jealously hold their privileges inviolate, as the kingdom of Aragon did, and, with the help of neighbouring countries, would be successful in doing so ; since one of these privileges was, that if the Sovereign violated the constitution another Prince could be chosen, and the Hollanders were therefore rightly in arms. As to the kingdom of Aragon, I said, it was only right that, as God had given us intelligence and reason, we should look at things according to the facts, and he should know that Aragon formerly was a free dominion, where the King was elected by the people, always under the condition that he should defend their privileges. In memory of this, the Cortes go through the ceremony of election to show that the Prince held his power by that tenure, and not by conquest or inheritance. I said, in conformity therewith, the Princes have preserved intact the privileges of the people, and at present the King is more feared and beloved there that in any other part of his dominions, and the people are more ready to die in his service than any others of his subjects. There is no thought of religious dissension or sectarianism there, and all are one, both in temporal and spiritual affairs ; whilst the States, full of rebels and heretics as they are, were patrimonial dominions and not elective like Aragon. To take up arms, therefore, against their anointed Lord and King was the work of traitors, and he, Burleigh, knew full well that for a subject to take up arms against his Prince was to resist the will of God himself. Burleigh repeated to me afterwards more than once, "You know very well, as I have often told you, in the time of the duke of Alba and since, that the Queen has frequently offered to intercede and settle these dissensions with all honour and decorum, but her offers have not been accepted, nor her goodwill recognized, and she will not now intervene, unless she knows from the King that her good offices will be welcome." As I have instructions not to reply on this point, but only to listen and report what he says, I ceased the conversation and left him. He complained greatly regarding the English prisoners of the Holy Office, and said that the Queen would again write to his Majesty about the fresh arrests made. This interview with Burleigh took place on the 30th ultimo, and I at once gave an account of it to M. de Champigny, as I do of everything that happens, according to instructions. From the conversation, it may concluded that they have agreed with Orange, and, if no change is made in their intentions, they will help the rebels secretly. If, however, they see Orange in danger of complete defeat and ruin, they will aid him openly ; although it is difficult to believe how the passions of these people can lead them so far, and it can only be hoped that it may bring about their own perdition. Please God that they may be punished, and this country reformed by some such unexpected means as this, if they undertake so unjust a cause as to seize what does not belong to them.
Two ships, with thirty pieces of artillery made of cast iron, are leaving here, and I have written to Juan Martinez de Recalde. The envoys of Orange are here with the two ships which are at their bidding, and the French ambassadors are going to Court to-morrow to take leave.—London, 1st February 1576.
6 Feb. 440. Antonio De Guaras to (Zayas?).
On the 28th ultimo I sent my last report, and on the 1st instant I also wrote by a special courier sent by M. de Champigny to his Excellency, giving an account of my conversation with Lord Burleigh.
On the 5th instant, M. de Champigny was received by the Queen, and when he entered she received him with so much coolness that it was evident what her answer to his embassy was to be. M. de Champigny will give particulars of it to his Excellency, and it will be seen that it was quite in accord with Burleigh's expressions to me. The substance of it is that they are resolved to send troops, stores, and victuals to Orange at once. Six hundred men are already prepared for embarkation, and eighty English seamen and forty pieces of cast-iron artillery are also to be sent in two other ships, accompanied by some of those who came with Aldegonde. The latter with Paul Buiz remains here, attended by the two armed ships in this river which brought them over. The other two commissioners returned to the Prince in order to give him an account of their embassy. M. de Champigny with his great ability discussed the matter most prudently with the Queen, trying to persuade her to preserve her old alliance, and in the whole business has shown himself to be a gentleman of high intellect and talent. The Council is resolved, however, to help Orange and, in due time, to send their forces and take possession of the places agreed upon in Holland and Zealand, as the Queen clearly and distinctly replied that she would not allow the Spaniards to take away the privileges of her neighbours nor commit the extortions they were doing ; because, if once they trampled the States under foot, they would assail this country, as she is informed they intend to do. This being so great a danger to her Crown she will oppose them with a sufficient force, as she distinctly told M. de Champigny, and as, in full detail, he will inform his Excellency. It will thus be seen that the information I obtained on the matter was correct from the first, and as the Queen and Council have resolved openly to resist the forces of the King, it may be convenient in due time for me to approach Burleigh, as if of my own accord, respecting suspension of arms or other matters in the King's interest ; in which case I will diligently carry out what I am ordered to do, although I will make no move towards him without instructions. It must be noted that everything depends upon Lord Burleigh's opinion, and we can only hope that their own blindness may bring about their ruin as they rush in this way into so important a business, exposing thereby their lives and property. The traitor Aldegonde and his companion await here the opening of Parliament, which will be in about a week, and it is believed that these affairs will be discussed therein ; and that, after the causes of the action has been explained to them, all the estates will consent to leave the matter in the hands of the Queen and Council.
The French ambassadors have taken leave and depart to-day or to-morrow. As their pretensions against the States are based on a marriage between this Queen and the duke of Alençon, everything remains in suspense. It will not be carried out, and is a hollow negotiation all through, each side distrusting the other, the object of all, however, being to cast out the evil from France and trouble the States.
Two ships loaded only with arms and victuals for the Indies are leaving Plymouth, and I am informed that a person in high authority is promoting the expedition for his private profit.— London, 6th February 1576.
8 Feb. 441. Antonio De Guaras to (Zayas?).
On the 1st and 6th instant I sent my last reports by special messenger despatched by M. de Champigny to his Excellency, and I send this in order that the bearer may not leave without a letter from me. M. de Champigny writes to the Grand Commander. He has greatly shined at Court and in this city, by reason of his brilliant talents, of which people speak with admiration, and rightly so as God has endowed him with such high intelligence and quickness of apprehension. His management of his embassy fully justifies the choice made of him by his Excellency, and affairs here will probably offer opportunities of his coming backwards and forwards several times to guide them. Certainly, if the rulers here can ever be brought to have one spark of respect more than they have now, it may be hoped that Champigny, with his grand dexterity and prudence, will persuade them to better things. As far as can be seen at present, there is no sign of any change of purpose, and they are now openly carrying out their preparations to effect the succour and protection of Orange and his people. They are publicly sending the stores, munitions, and troops I have mentioned, and eighty English sailors, who have only been detained hitherto by contrary winds. They have, however, begun to drop down the river with one of their two ships and two smaller vessels, in which they will go, and I am told that the other ship will accompany them. It is understood that Aldegonde and his companions will await the sitting of Parliament which opens to-day. It is known that the intention is for them to present their petitions to the House with great lamentations, begging the Queen and the Estates to take them under their protection, they promising duly to defray the costs. They have drawn up a fresh pedigree, by which they try to prove that a part of the States belongs to the crown of England, and I am told that a pernicious book is published to persuade the people of the justice of their cause, containing only the most unheard-of falsehood and wickedness. The principal object is the expulsion of his Majesty's forces and the opposition to the foreign intruders, as they call the Spaniards. They act with incredible deceit, and talk of sending a person to the King, with the idea that a justification will be listened to.—London, 8th February 1576.
11 Feb. 442. Antonio De Guaras to (Zayas?).
On the 6th and 8th I sent my last reports, copies having been sent by way of Paris. M. de Champigny has not requested audience since then, pending a reply to the despatches sent by him to his Excellency. If the Queen sends for his Lordship to request a reply to-morrow, Sunday, he will report.
On the 9th instant Parliament opened, and when the lay members had taken their seats a gentleman named Wenford (fn. 3) was the first to speak. He said he hoped that in accordance with the ancient freedom of Parliament each member would be allowed to express his opinion openly as they had all met together for the service of God and the Commonwealth. He then continued, "but I hear there are some murmurs outside to the effect that nothing is to be undertaken here except in conformity with the wish of the Queen, and that the decision of the House should only be in harmony with his Majesty's wishes. There is also a rumour that Parliament is not to discuss religious questions, excepting with the consent of the ecclesiastical branch and the peers." Wenford then declared that this was against the ancient privileges of Parliament, which were to the effect that each member might freely declare his own opinion. He then encouraged his hearers to speak out clearly and distinctly what they thought, even touching the royal person, the Crown, or the Commonwealth. Mr. Hatton, the Controller, and the treasurer of the household, answered these scandalous words, saying that they would live and die for the Queen, and were shocked at such seditious expressions being used. Wenford was afterwards called before the Council, where he again displayed his audacity, and was sent to the Tower, although he was constant in his assertion that a wrong was being done him, as in Parliament everyone had a right to pronounce his opinion unreservedly. This beginning has caused scandal to many, and has given rise to an order that no Bill shall be submitted unless it is signed by two commissioners appointed for the purpose, in order that nothing shall be discussed in the House except by the Queen's will.
The two ships and smaller vessels, with Orange's envoys have not sailed yet, in consequence of contrary weather. In addition to the troops and stores they had on board, a hundred pairs of pikes from the Tower were put on board of them last night, as well as four great guns of cast-iron, and some more cannon balls, as I am informed by a person who was present. Aldegonde and his companions remain here in pursuit of their object, and it is evident that they will present their petition to Parliament. It is generally discredited that the Queen will send any of her forces to the States, although her own declaration and those of Burleigh and other zealots must surely be believed, and I cannot but think that they will do so. Although matters here are constantly changing, there is no doubt that forces will be openly sent to the number of five or six thousand soldiers to help Orange against his Majesty ; although, to justify themselves, a suspension of hostilities may be requested, and an excuse made that the Queen has taken this course to prevent the French, the Scotch, or the Danes from intervening, and in protection of her privileges, the desire being that his Majesty's Spanish forces should leave the country, and these and similar absurdities being mere subterfuges to attain their end. It is said that a personage will go to the King from here to assure him that the Queen has been moved to act as she has done in the interests of his Majesty's patrimonial dominion and the good of the crown of England, but it is all for the purpose of wasting time in deceit and artful trickery. The merchants here have furnished Orange's envoys with two thousand five hundred crowns, for which they have received assignments payable in Flushing in money or merchandise, guaranteed by the rebel Flemings residing here. I have just heard from a friend that Colonel Chester and Captain Morgan have been instructed to raised two thousand soldiers, and the whole business is now so shamefully open that no doubt the Queen will shortly send her own forces, under the pretence of succouring Ziericzee, and driving away his Majesty's troops. More will be discovered every day, and I will carefully report what I hear.—London, 11th February 1576.
18 Feb. 443. Antonio De Guaras to (Zayas?).
On the 11th instant I sent my last report, and have since received by the ordinary courier his Excellency's letter of the same date, with a packet of papers for M. de Champigny, which I at once delivered. He has an appointment to-day with the Queen to discuss affairs. On other occasions the Queen signified to him, as subsequently did the Councillors, that they might be moved to send forces publicly to the States, but M. de Champigny's tact has since caused some appearance of hesitation about this decision, although Aldegonde and his companions are here pressing their claims upon Parliament. They have sent their two ships and three small vessels with the troops, guns, and munitions I have mentioned, but the ships are still detained in the river by bad weather, although with the first fair wind they will sail for Holland, as I am constantly informing Juan Martinez de Recalde. People from Norfolk report that troops were leaving there for Brille and Holland, and Colonel Chester will go thither in a week or ten days for the purpose of taking or sending over a number of them. The decision of the business here is still in suspense, as I am informed by a person who knows, and will depend mainly upon the outcome of the dissensions in France. These people here think that the blow struck by the man they called Navarre (fn. 4) will cause everything to turn out to their satisfaction, in which case aid will be publicly sent to the States. In the meanwhile they are wavering as to what they should do, and are entertaining M. de Champigny with generalities, as he will report fully. Parliament has not yet considered the claims of Orange's envoys, and is now busy discussing the subsidy to be voted. They have agreed already to a great persecution of the Catholics, who will not attend their churches, and have appointed a commissioner to proceed against them, in person and estate. It is thought that the Parliament will not last long. (fn. 5)
In this river and the ports near Falmouth they are very secretly equipping a fleet of ten sail for the Indies, persuaded by an Irishman named Captain John. He has recently arrived here from the Indies, where he has lived for the last fifteen years, and assures them that they will find much treasure there. It is to be supposed that steps will be taken to hinder them and that their voyage will be a bad one.
I send to his Excellency with this the copy of a letter written by the Queen to his Majesty, in order that, after reading it, he may forward it herewith.
A messenger has come to me from Rye, sent by Captain Hernando de Hoyos, saying that he was kept prisoner there, his sails taken away, arms and other things taken from his ship, and his crew illtreated. He is the captain of a cutter with about thirty soldiers on board which recently left Dunkirk and was driven into Rye by a storm ; I at once informed the Council of the matter and they gave me letters ordering the restoration of his vessel and property. I also obtained letters from lord Cobham, as the port is under his jurisdiction, in order that no difficulty should be raised by the justices and have provided the men with money for victuals, of which they were in great need. I hope they will therefore soon be allowed to leave after such an unwarrantable detention.
As M. de Champigny will report, he has just been to the Queen and was warmly welcomed when he presented the letter from his Majesty. She made very different professions from what she had formerly done, and no doubt M. de Champigny will write at length thereupon ; but for all her fair words, I am informed by an eyewitness that last night they took out from the Tower and shipped for Holland, a hundred and fifty barrels of powder of a hundredweight and a half each, as well as six great hampers of morrions.
I enclose a statement made by a soldier who has arrived here from Flushing.
Statement of a Soldier who left Flushing on the 14th of February 1576 and arrived here to-day, the 18th.
He says he was in Ziericzee from the beginning of the siege, and left with those who recently brought provisions into the place. There are in Ziericzee eleven standards of soldiers, fifteen hundred at most, and fifteen hundred burgesses capable of bearing arms, besides women and children. The want of victuals is so great that nothing but bread and beer is left, and not much of that ; they are expecting shortly large supplies. In Flushing there was news of the arrival of the fleet from Antwerp at Bergen with the intention of capturing a place called Pieterhook on the island of Platen.
There are in the island nine standards of soldiers, about seven hundred, and it was said generally that if Orange did not shortly go to its aid the place would be lost. It was said that six hundred Scotsmen were expected. He affirms that the Flushing people had made preparations to stop our fleet passing Bergen, but that with the exception of a few Scotsmen their only hope of succour was from here. There are in Flushing two standards, two hundred soldiers, and a number of burgesses ; in Middleburg three standards of worn-out troops, &c.
28 Feb. 444. Antonio De Guaras to (Zayas?).
On the 18th instant I sent my last report, and in consequence of contrary winds this week's post has not come from Flanders, nor has the reply expected by M. de Champigny arrived. The latter has been with the Queen and several times with the Council. He will report at length the many discussions he has had with them for the purpose of ascertaining their intentions with regard to sending or otherwise public or covert help to Orange and his friends. I believe that in answer to some of his questions they reply that they will not do so, whilst on other occasions they openly assert that they will not tolerate that Spaniard should bring under subjection the country which Orange traitorously holds. Amongst other things, they say that the Queen is willing to act as intercessor in the matter and to arrange a very honourable peace, to the full satisfaction of the King, and at the same time to take away from the rebels their cause of complaint. The business, however, seems not to ripen, because the Queen wants to be sought with prayers, and I understand that she is going to send Henry Cobham to his Excellency about it. In short, the affair is not now in a condition for immediate resolution, as they have their eyes on events in France, Genoa, and the Turk, and I do not believe that M. de Champigny will take any other answer than the only one that they themselves know how to give, namely, that perhaps they will and perhaps they will not. The matter has been discussed in Parliament, where they have offered the Queen the present subsidy, and much more, if she will accept the offer made to her by Orange. Others replied that the business should be left to the Queen and Council, and it was decided that Parliament itself should not further deal with it. The Captain of the Guard (fn. 6) came yesterday to visit the ambassador, and as he is very friendly and gracious to me, he took me aside and told me of the great satisfaction with which the Queen and Councillors regarded his Lordship (Champigny), and particularly commended his desire for peace and concord. He said the Queen was very willing to be a faithful intercessor in order to bring about a peaceful settlement of these affairs which, he said, was desirable for all parties ; whereas if, on the contrary, matters were differently arranged, the dominions which Orange holds could not be recovered by us at a cost of twenty millions. When I said whoever prevented their recovery would find little repose at home, he replied laughingly that the Queen of England had incredibly great forces, but he hoped that, notwithstanding the present fears of trouble, all would turn out well. He is a gentleman of distinguished position and desires, above all things, harmony between the two crowns, but others with different views are constantly in conference with Aldegonde gonde and his friends. Their ships and troops have left and will now be in Holland. License has been given to a man to take thither the carcasses of a hundred oxen and many live sheep. There is no news about Aldegonde's departure ; he is very busy at present drawing up a pedigree to persuade the Queen that the States of Holland and Zealand belong to the Crown of England. A gentleman has arrived here, sent by the duke of Alençon to the Queen with despatches in pursuance of his object.
I have received news from the captain of the cutter detained at Rye that since sending the orders of the Council about it they have restored everything to him excepting a bronze gun which bore the arms of England, and I have sent again to the Council about this. I feel sure they will surrender it.
Besides the English soldiers who went from here, as reported, they are now equipping and arming three or four hundred more, poor looking fellows, Walloons, Flemings, English, and French ; and a friend of mine who has been amongst them tells me that with these and the former levy, with a few Scotsmen who they say have arrived in Holland, they are going to attack the new fort which was built last year, and if they cannot do this, to prevent victuals reaching St. Aland at Ziericzee.
I have heard from another friend from Ziericzee that the burgesses were talking of surrender, but a captain had begged them not to think of such a thing, as great help was expected from England, and it would be disgraceful to surrender before even they were bombarded. My friend says that the two expeditions which introduced stores had brought away many women and children, and that there was plenty of corn, and beer made from rain water, as well as some barrels of butter, but no meat or fish.—London, 28th February 1576.


  • 1. Perennot, Sieur de Champigny, Governor of Antwerp, a brother of Cardinal de Granvelle. A few months after the date of this letter he headed the citizens against the sacking and plundering of Antwerp, by the Spanish troops, and thenceforward adopted the popular cause.
  • 2. Count Louis of Nassau had been killed at the battle of Mooch in 1574, in his attempt to invade the Netherlands with German troops. The reference to Genlis appears to be less apposite, as that Huguenot commander with his French Protestant force had been perfectly successful in aiding Count Louis to enter and capture Mons, although the place was subsequently lost and its defenders massacred.
  • 3. Peter Wentworth, member for Tregony, a puritan. His imprisonment only lasted three days, until the 12th February, but he had to beg for clemency on his knees.
  • 4. Henry de Bourbon had escaped from Paris, renounced Catholicism, and raised his standard.
  • 5. It was prorogued on the 15th March (Simon D'Ewes).
  • 6. Sir Christopher Hatton.