Simancas: April 1578

Pages 573-578

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

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April 1578

12 April. 487. Bernardino de Mendoza to the King.
I wrote to your Majesty on the 31st ultimo, and on the 4th instant received a letter from Don Juan dated the 14th, with one for the Queen in my credence.
I thereupon requested audience, which was granted on the 10th, when I handed to the Queen his Highness's letter. As soon as she saw it she said it was very old, which I excused. She mentioned that the object of the letter was to advise her of his Highness's victory, respecting which I gave her a full statement, in conformity with his Highness's instructions. She replied that it was a great pleasure to her to hear of victories won for your Majesty, and by his Highness, unless they, being against your own subjects, might tend to the destruction of your own patrimony. She said she had sent Thomas Wilkes to his Highness, and that if her requests were not acceded to she would help the States with all her strength, and this she said in a loud voice, that it might be heard by every one present. I replied that the people were already talking of this, as money had been lent to M. d'Havrey, and troops were being raised here for Flanders, against the treaties with your Majesty, whose rebel subjects she was thus helping. I also said, as his Highness had ordered me, that if the States were so obstinate as to be dissatisfied with the concessions which they themselved had begged for on the 25th of September, and which had been granted to them, I could not help telling her, much attached as I was to her by her kindness to me, that your Majesty had very long arms, and, that if need arose, their strength would be felt in any country upon which they were placed. She swallowed this with rather a wry face, and replied that she did not consider these people to be rebels, as they were satisfied with what your Majesty had granted them before, and she would not allow either the French to set foot in the States, nor the Spaniards to rule them, on any account, and she would stand to this while she had a man left in her country. I told her that the French were not thinking of such a thing, and I could believe that they had their eyes fixed rather elsewhere. She said she knew what was going on in Ireland, and that the king of France had sent the Order of St. Michael to an Irishman, as she was informed of what took place everywhere. When I assured her that she might have confidence in your Majesty, and reminded her of the steps taken in the year 1560 to prevent the French from entering Scotland, (fn. 1) she replied that she was well aware of the league between your Majesty, the Pope, and the king of France ; and knew how long it had been hatching, as the Emperor Maximilian had told her five years ago that he had been asked to join it. She also knew what was the object of the visit of two Spaniards to this country. I tried to satisfy her on these points, and she said that the letters that had been captured, written by his Highness, proved what she said. The letters were confessed to be his, although he said that he had not ordered his secretary to write what he had. She was full of complaints of his Highness as usual, saying that he had broken his promise and the oath of peace, and she knew very well that his Highness was on the look-out for a kingdom that belonged to her. She ended by swearing three times in the name of God that if the perpetual edict was not granted she would help the States whilst she had a man left in England. This is all I can report to your Majesty, but as things here change so rapidly and continually, it is difficult to keep pace with them, and to send their latest decisions. These people are so fickle and wavering that they are indeed insular. With regard to the release of Antonio de Guaras, I spoke to her warmly, as his Highness instructed me. She said that she had been very merciful to him, that the honour and dignity of her country forced her to keep him in his present condition, but that if these two points were not involved, she would not detain him a moment, but would send him out of the country. I returned to the subject later, when she begged me earnestly not to mention him to her, nor his servant Damian either, as he was as great a rogue as his master. She said I should soon have two packets of letters which he had left in Calais to be sent to me, and which he had not brought hither in order to prevent their seizure. I said I hoped that my despatches would not be tampered with in her country whilst I was your Majesty's minister here, and I was much surprised at the complaints made to me by Spaniards that their servants were stopped at the ports, and their letters taken from them. She replied that she was very glad that her people were so alert, although it was not by her orders ; as certain people came here with no very good objects in view, and anybody who was captured in future on account of such plots should be hanged first and your Majesty informed afterwards. She said that I need not be surprised if your Majesty did not receive all my despatches, as some of them, and the secret messengers who bore them, had been sent back from Dover, and other ports, as they could not be allowed to pass.—London, 12th April 1578.
488. Bernardino de Mendoza to the King.
The 31st ultimo was my last letter to your Majesty, in which I advised you of the troops being raised here, of whom the commanders are to be Henry Cavendish, George York, and Thomas Morgan, who they say are to take them to Flanders, but all that is known for certain is that Cavendish will take fifteen hundred soldiers to Dunbar for Scotch affairs, whilst a thousand soldiers from the fortress of Berwick, with two hundred horse from the Border (where also three thousand infantry have been raised), are to go and help Morton and his friends, who are adherents of this Queen, whilst those on the side of the prince of Scotland are the earls of Huntley, Athole, and Argyll, and Lord Erskine. Thomas Randolph has left Scotland, and they are sending as an ambassador to this Queen a Protestant abbot. The Queen has given orders for various ships to be equipped, and they have taken from the Tower two hundred bronze pieces, large and small, which are now on the shore ready for shipment. Some people think that these great efforts on part of the Queen to ensure affairs in Scotland are caused not only by their great importance to her, but also in order not to miss the opportunity, as she is informed by her friends that the king of France will not help the other side with much warmth, although he has been incited thereto by the assertion that your Majesty intended to seize the prince of Scotland, to which he replied, that such a course was a bad one, as the business was so important, and he was much disturbed at the intelligence. The Queen has sent for Henry Sidney, the governor of Ireland, to come over and take charge of the queen of Scotland, the affair having been settled by his brother-in-law, the earl of Leicester, as they are not sure of the earl of Shrewsbury, who guards her now.
The man who came here from Alençon has returned, accompanied by a merchant sent by this Queen with him to see the prince of Condé, it is suspected about some projected enterprise in Cascony. There is much talk here of a marriage between Philip Sidney, Leicester's nephew, the heir of Henry Sidney, of the earl of Warwick, and of Leicester's property, and a sister of Orange, who enters very willingly into the suggestion, and promises as a dowry to make him lord of Holland and Zealand, by this means and other gifts gaining over Leicester, who has now turned his back upon France, to which he was formerly so much attached.
M. d'Havrey is said to be leaving every day, and is generally at Court.
On the 5th the Queen, attended by two ladies, came to Leicester's London house, where Havrey presently joined her, and returned with her to Greenwich by land. Some people think he will stay here until the receipt of his Highness' reply to Wilkes, who has been sent as ambassador. The meeting of Parliament has been prorogued until 26th May.
The ambassador sent by the Queen to the king of Sweden has returned. He was sent respecting the 100,000 ducats the King owes to her and others, and the answer he brings is far from satisfactory, being to the effect that the King does not owe the money, and will not pay it. He would not reply to the letters. It is said the King has sent his submission to the Pope.— London, 12th April 1578.
22 April. 489. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
On the 31st ultimo I wrote to your Majesty what I had been able to learn about the voyage which had been undertaken by the English, and reported that they were fitting out eight ships to send on a similar expedition. Since then four more vessels have been added, making twelve in all, and the number of men for colonization has been increased. A quantity of easily erected wooden houses and other necessaries are being taken. Frobisher, who is to command the expedition on the Queen's behalf, and the other captains have taken leave, receiving great signs of the Queen's favour. She expressed herself very warmly as to the great importance of the undertaking for the welfare of her realm. I am still persevering in my attempts to get a chart of the voyage. I have the greatest hope of being able to obtain one, in which case I will at once send it to your Majesty. The pieces of ore did not go in my last letter in consequence of the risk, but I send them herewith as this letter is taken by one of my own servants, and I have ordered him, in case the ship in which he sails is overhauled, to throw the letters and samples into the sea, as I have another similar set of specimens here.—London, 22nd April 1578.
490. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
Since writing the enclosed Jeronimo Gondi (fn. 2) has arrived here, it is suspected on a special embassy to the Queen. I was informed before his arrival that he was coming to represent to the Queen the evils that might result to her from the happy successes which God is sending to your Majesty in the Netherlands, in order to draw her the more towards them (the French), and other plots of the same sort, of which I can say nothing more decided yet. It is also said that he is going with an embassy to Scotland, from which country ambassadors are to arrive here to-morrow.
M. d'Havrey has left here but is still at Gravesend, ships being ready at Dover to take him across.—London, 22nd April 1578.
491. Bernardino de Mendoza to the King.
Since I wrote to your Majesty on the 12th, Thomas Randolph arrived here from Scotland and his coming and the account he gives of affairs in that country have altered the intention which I wrote was entertained here, of sending Cavendish, son of the countess of Shrewsbury, (fn. 3) with fifteen hundred men to Dunbar, it appearing that the adherents of this Queen there are not in such good case as will warrant their appealing to arms. They will rather delay matters and await a more favourable opportunity. They have therefore decided here simply to remain on the alert, and do not seem to have been much disturbed by the change of government there, pending the arrival of the ambassador from Scotland who, as I said, was on his way hither. The troops raised by the said Sir Harry Cavendish, with Captains George York and Thomas Morgan, are to slip over to Flanders quietly, pretending that they are not sent or paid by the Queen but by Cavendish, who is a rich young man, but is not a soldier and knows nothing of war. He has bought great quantities of arms which have been packed up like bales of merchandise, and a thousand pounds sterling worth of powder, most of the men being shipped in Gravesend and lower down the river, attracted by the money paid to them. They are told that they are to be lodged at Bruges, Malines, and Antwerp, five hundred in each place. It is also said that as soon as Casimir and the others with the German troops arrive in the States, Henry Sidney, who is coming from Ireland, will go over with ten thousand men. I wrote to your Majesty on the 12th that they had sent for him, in order to give him the queen of Scotland in keeping, but as Scotch affairs are not to be taken in hand at present, they think it will be well not to make this change. They will not send so many men to Flanders as to deprive themselves of sufficient force to deal with Scotch affairs when the time comes. They are in great fear about them, as their designs can only be frustrated from this quarter.
The Queen has sent all through the country fully authorised officers with powers such as never have been granted before, to seize and imprison Catholics, without appeal, in consequence of its having been stated that the queen of Scotland had many adherents on account of religion. Most of these officers are pernicious heretical Puritans and creatures of Walsingham, who is a great supporter of their sect. Walsingham said the other day to some people, who he knew would tell me at once, that the Queen knew full well that your Majesty had made a truce with the Turk, she having learnt this by recent letters from Constantinople and reports from France.
I sent to ask for audience as soon as I heard that the troops were being shipped at Gravesend, notwithstanding what had been promised me, but I have been attacked with a very bad tertian ague, which has prevented me from seeing the Queen personally, and it was not a business that could be entrusted to a third person, so that I shall not be able to speak to her about it until I can get out, which shall be at the first possible moment.
Parliament has been summoned in Scotland for the 10th of June and great things are to be done. This Queen is sending Henry Killigrew, Cecil's brother-in-law, to be present.
Walsingham and Leicester have had a conference with Havrey in consequence of what they heard from Gravelines. Fearing that the same thing may occur in many other towns, they have decided that the dykes shall be broken in other places, by which, wherever possible, land may be isolated.—London, 22nd April 1578.


  • 1. Particulars of these negotiations will be found in the letters of De Glajon and Bishop Quadra in the first volume of this Calendar.
  • 2. Count de Retz, an Italian confidant of Catharine de Medici, the Queen-Mother of France.
  • 3. The countess of Shrewsbury was the celebrated "Bess of Hardwick" whose second husband had been Sir William Cavendish, the ancestor of the dukes of Devonshire.