Simancas: September 1578

Pages 609-618

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 1578

8 Sept. 524. Bernardino De Mendoza to Zayas.
I have three of your letters, and as you exonerate me from blame in the delay, I have no more to say on that head, excepting that I am astonished that my letters should arrive so tardily there, and I should be very glad to receive orders to forward them by some other way as I am sure that they will always run the same risk of delay whilst they go through Juan de Vargas.
The talk of getting rid of me here has gone no further, and I now never see the Queen but she tells me how glad she is for me to be here. She gives me audience freely and I have her now in an excellent humour, thank God, whilst the Englishmen in general are not bad friends with me, as they think I shall not do anything against them in the event of disturbance.
With regard to your request that I should say what is the amount of money which we may be able to get from the misappropriated property from the seizures, as I have told you Hatton, the Captain of the Guard and a Councillor, is the man who has reported the matter to me, and he will not declare the names of the persons who hold the property unless a large share of it is given to him ; but I suspect that it is in the hands of some of the councillors and other men of position, from whom he expects to get it with the favour of the Queen, without which nothing can be done. I do not wish to let Hatton cool in the matter as he is very warm about it now, from which I conclude that the sum is a large one. The amount obtained might be applied to lighten the expenses of the journey to Monzon and, having this in view, you may move his Majesty to instruct me that as soon as the Queen arrives near here I may ask for audience and beg that commissioners be appointed in conformity with the agreement, to enquire about this property. I thank you for prolonging the credit, that for the five hundred crowns for extraordinary expenses being already exhausted, as you will see by my six-monthly account enclosed, leaving nearly two hundred crowns owing to me, which I beg earnestly you will have paid and send me another credit as I can do nothing here without it.
Antonio de Guaras is still in the Tower. I sent to tell him to let me know if he needed anything and he asked for two hundred crowns which were given to him out of the thousand. I never see the Queen without speaking about his affair.
As his Majesty in my instructions orders me to try to gain over some of these ministers, I have made some steps towards doing so with the earl of Sussex, Lord Burleigh, and James Crofts the Controller, and it has been necessary to give them some hopes of reward. They ask me every day what reply I receive from Spain, especially Sussex, and although I answer significantly, yet it is difficult to keep them in hand very long with words alone. I am much confused as I cannot now withdraw from the position I have taken up, having gone so far, nor can I carry the matter any further unless means of doing so are sent to me. If you have a chance pray mention it to his Majesty, as Don Juan writes that he has sent to the King about it but has no reply, and in the meanwhile, orders me to keep the negotiation pending, saying that if he were not so pressed for money he would send it to me from the Netherlands.
During her progress in the North the Queen has met with more Catholics than she expected, and in one of the houses (fn. 1) they found a great many images which were ordered to be dragged round and burnt. When she entered Norwich large crowds of people came out to receive her, and one company of children knelt as she passed and said, as usual, "God save the Queen." She turned to them and said, "Speak up ; I know you do not love me here."
A very curious thing has happened here lately. A countryman has found, buried in a stable, three wax figures, two spans high and proportionately broad ; the centre figure had the word Elizabeth written on the forehead and the side figures were dressed like her councillors, and were covered over with a great variety of different signs, the left side of the images being transfixed with a large quantity of pig's bristles as if it were some sort of witchcraft. When it reached the Queen's ears she was disturbed, as it was looked upon as an augury, and great enquiries have been set on foot about it, although hitherto nothing has been discovered.
On the 6th instant a ship arrived here from Barbary which had left Morocco on the 4th ultimo, and brings a very insolent message from the new king of Fez to the Queen saying amongst other things that he hopes to send her Stukeley as a present. (fn. 2)
Walsingham has written to the Queen that the chevallier Lorison and M. de Bussy, (fn. 3) two of Alençon's gentlemen, had had a quarrel in France, and Lorison, to whom the lie had been given, had gone to Don Juan's camp and from there had challenged Bussy who was with his master ; the challenge having been accepted, Bussy had taken a letter from Alençon to Don Juan saying that he placed these two gentlemen in his Highness' hands so that both of them might came honourably out of the affair, which Don Juan had promised and given 400 lances for his escort. I should be glad indeed to be able to write definitely about Rambouillet's affairs but I have not been able to do so as my sources of information are drying up. I am writing to Juan de Vargas asking him to send this letter on with more diligence than the others, which I hope to God he will as I have not written lately. This Queen has given Rambouillet two pieces of gilt plate, some people say of the value of six hundred crowns, and some of a thousand.—London, 8th September 1578.
525. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
I wrote on the 14th ultimo., giving an account of the arrival of Rambouillet and L'Aubespine. They went on to Norwich two days afterwards to see the Queen who received Rambouillet. On the 2nd instant she dined with Rambouillet, Mauvissière who is the resident ambassador here, and Bacqueville, at Lord North's house, and after dinner she was talking with them apart for more than an hour. (fn. 4) Rambouillet was overheard to say that his master was much surprised to see so many Englishmen in organised regiments in the Netherlands. The reply was that there were not many there yet, and there would have been many more if she, the Queen, had not heard of the large numbers being raised in her country. What Rambouillet said in reply is not known as he spoke very low, but the Queen retorted that she knew that long ago. Rambouillet then said that his master was only dealing truthfully with her, to which the Queen replied that it was so much the better for both of them. During the discourse nothing more was heard than these words, as the conversation was carried on in a low tone, but to judge by appearances and hints that have been dropped since, the matter under discussion is the marriage of Alençon. After the conversation, the Queen summoned Leicester and went with him into a corner of the same public chamber, where they were talking apart for nearly an hour. After this the Queen asked the ambassadors whether they would like to play at primero, to which they answered that they would do so if she wished. She said that it would be better that they should take the opportunity of the councillors being there to speak to them on the dispatch of their business, and they were accordingly with the Council until eight o'clock at night, the earl of Sussex and James Crofts the Controller being absent. When Leicester was leaving the Council he said to an Englishman, "suffice it that these Frenchmen want to marry the Queen." It seems as if the Queen herself were willing to entertain the matter as M. de Quissé returned on the 25th, and although he took no assurance about the loan of 300,000 ducats which Alençon had asked of the Queen through Bacqueville, the excuse being that the merchants of London would not advance the money without security, he seems to have taken with him some artifices about the alliance and marriage. I am told that Rambouillet tried to settle the matter of the loan to Alençon by offering that the King would be surety for his brother and that certain personages would come hither shortly to represent him and his brother to treat of the marriage. He also brought instructions to discuss Scotch matters with certain pensioners, but as things are settled there he has not done so, and his King has sent a gentleman of his from Boulogne to Scotland by sea.
L'Aubespine has been discussing the arrests of ships from Dieppe and seizures of French property under letters of marque, but has come to no decision about it and Bacqueville has not yet obtained an answer from the Queen.
Junio, (fn. 5) who was governor of Vere in the time of the rebels and is a native of Antwerp, has come from Casimir to this Queen, it is understood about the payment to him for having raised troops, she having ordered twenty-five thousand pounds to be obtained to send to the Netherlands.
Since the disturbances which I reported in my last as having happened in Scotland, Morton came in disguise near to Berwick to ask Lord Hunsdon the governor of the frontier to enter Scotland with the troops he had there which Hunsdon refused to do until he received the Queen's orders. Upon this Morton returned, and both sides laid down their arms and entered into the agreement of which I enclose a copy. I also send herewith a report of what had passed at the opening of Parliament there. St. Aldegonde has written to the Flemish Calvinists who live here and call themselves the new Church, on behalf of Orange, excusing himself for having given churches in Antwerp to the Martinists, it having been forced upon him in order that he might not lose the town, of which he was in great fear, as when the offer was at first refused the Martinists joined the Catholics. He tells these people they must not be discouraged by this or think that they are changing their opinion. It is said that the said course will be pursued in Malines, Brussels, Lille, and other places, until they find themselves more powerful.
He writes also very urgently that certain very rich burgesses of Valenciennes who are here should be sent to that town in order that they may use their influence to keep the people in submission to the States, they being heretics and extremely seditious persons of the same sort as the refugees who were sent from here to Ghent in a similar way ; the effect of which has been seen. These Calvinists are so led astray by the devil that there is no sovereign in the world obeyed so implicitly as the two old men that they have appointed to govern them and their church. Those who are here have been made to pay large sums of money to succour the heretics and, poor and rich, they pay it most willingly, obeying the commands that are given to them with incredible alacrity and leave behind them wife and children, and everything else, to fulfil the orders given to them.
The Queen is tarrying on her progress in order not to approach London where the plague increases daily. It is understood that she will be at Windsor or Hampton Court on the 20th. She has not been at all gratified by the people in the North in consequence of the large number of Catholics that there are amongst them.
Some English gentlemen have recently left here to serve the King of Portugal taking with them letters from his ambaasador. Amongst them are Captain Bensar, Stanley and Lister. Stanley is considered a Catholic, but the rest are going by order of the Queen, and with the connivance of Leicester to see what Stukeley is up to, now that his expedition is at an end. (fn. 6) —London, 8th September 1578.
9 Sept. 526. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
Since closing the accompanying letter I have been told by a member of the Council, through a person I sent to him to find out about Rambouillet's errand, that the king of France had sent him to learn whether there was any foundation in the negotiations being carried on for a marriage between this Queen and his brother, and if this were so and the Queen were disposed to listen to him, Rambouillet was to press the matter forward and to promise in the King's name anything in his power to bring it about. The Queen has arranged with him that she will send by Bacqueville and Quissé in a few days a copy of the conditions which would be demanded on her part, she having seen those which Alençon had sent by Quissé. The king of France and Alençon can then send personages hither to conclude the marriage. The business is not a solitary one for they are talking about marrying Leicester in France if the Queen's marriage is brought about, but, judging from what has happened hitherto, the matter will no doubt be long drawn out.—London, 9th September 1578.
11 Sept. 527. Bernardino De Mendoza to Zayas.
As William Bodenham is leaving in a ship for Seville I have thought it a good opportunity to send his Majesty the enclosed letter with duplicates of mine of the 8th and 9th sent by France. Cobham has helped me in his Majesty's interests since I have been here which I have thought well to signify, and to express my obligation to him.
I have been informed that the courier Juanin, a great rogue and a subject of your Majesty, has sold to the prince of Orange three or four despatches from the King's officers, and particularly one of great importance from Colonel Mondragon. He is now going with a merchant to Genoa, and I think of writing to the ambassadors there (giving an account also to Don Juan) that he may be arrested and punished as such a scoundrel should be.
There has been a struggle in Bruges lately between the Catholics and the Calvinists, fifteen or sixteen people being killed therein. In Malines also, the Calvinists have tried to get up a disturbance, but were prevented by the governor, who is a Catholic. Orange has written begging them to have patience for a short time when a Friesland-man will be sent as governor of the town who will not be so much opposed to them. Bacqueville has been entertained in this city by orders of the Queen, and has been taken to see the Tower and other things, with great ceremony. A present of jewels valued at five hundred crowns has been given to him as well as some horses from Leicester. Yesterday by way of France there arrived very bad news about the king of Portugal's enterprise ; God send that it be not true. (fn. 7) —London, 11th September 1578.
528. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
On the 8th and 9th I wrote to your Majesty and send copies herewith together with the marine chart, which I wrote to your Majesty that I had procured of Frobisher's voyage, but which I have not sent before for want of a good opportunity such as now offers by a safe bearer who goes to Seville by sea. M. de Bacqueville has arrived in London after taking leave of the Queen He is going directly to M. D'Alençon and the negotiations for the marriage are being taken up more warmly every day by the English. —London, 11th September, 1578.
19 Sept. 529. The King to Bernardino De Mendoza.
All your letters have been received up to the 14th of August as well as a copy of what Don Juan wrote you on the 4th of July, instructing you as to your proceedings towards the Queen, respecting the help she is giving to the rebels in the Netherlands and her communications with them. I am glad that you have informed me of the way you have carried out these instructions and the reply given to you, which was simply an excuse, as their actions prove their words to be false. It is desirable nevertheless to keep matters in hand and preserve friendship with the Queen as you are doing, and at the same time cautiously to win over the ministers who appear favourably disposed to us. You say that in order to pledge them firmly on our side it will be necessary to treat them liberally, and it will be well for you to consider how much should be given to each one who may be of use to us, and whether it should be in money or valuables ; the cost or amount of the same, how and when it should be given and what means you have of conveying it. When we know this and you are quite sure they will act sincerely and straightforwardly in what they are entrusted with, I will send orders for the provisions of what may be necessary for the purpose. I will do this all the more willingly, since I see by your later letters that my brother is of the same opinion. It is necessary, however, that before doing anything, we should have the information now requested, so as not to cast our seed on the sand nor give money to people who will cheat and then laugh at us. You will enquire well into this and report fully.
It would be very appropriate if any money could be got from the person who, you say, tells you of the unregistered and unclaimed property now being held which could be recovered by virtue of the last arrangement made between the Queen and the duke of Alba. It will be well for you to investigate the matter, and, if you find there is anything in it, you will inform us here of what is necessary to be done, in order that the needful instructions may be sent to you. I shall also be glad for the person who gives you the information to be properly rewarded.
Your diligence in discovering the object of equipping ships was very acceptable and useful for the purpose of allowing us to provide for the safety of the voyage to the Indies. You will continue to exercise the same vigilance in this respect.
Scotch affairs seem to be getting into an acute stage which makes it needful to keep the probable outcome of them in view. It has therefore been well to keep me informed of what you have heard, and you will try to discover what object is being sought, and what share the Catholics have in the Government and the care of the King's person ; who is their leader, how they regard their Queen, and what could be done on my part to benefit her or her affairs. What is the character and disposition shown by her son both as to religion and other things. You will advise me fully of this, so that we may see what it will be desirable to do, but you will be very cautious about it, so that your object may not be understood. The report that I had written to the earl of Morton is an invention.
I notice the persons who have gone to England on behalf of the States and also on that of the duke of Alençon as well as the plots and toils in which they are immersed ; all directed, no doubt, to the raising of distrust and suspicion in accordance with their own nature. I expect that the talk of the marriage of the Queen and the duke of Alençon will have all turned to smoke, but no doubt if Rambouillet and L'Aubespine went back with any decision of importance you will have let me and my brother know. You will not fail to inform my brother of everything, in order that he may instruct you, he being much nearer and having the business of the provinces in his hands.
I observe that Antonio de Guaras is still being severely treated and, as we should be glad to have him released and sent out of the country, we enjoin you to continue your efforts with this object and get him set at liberty as early as possible.
As regards yourself, it is my will that you should remain in England until I send further orders, endeavouring to keep friendly with the Queen, and maintaining kindly communications with her ministers as you have hitherto done.—London, 19th September 1578.
23 Sept. 530. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
On the 11th I wrote to your Majesty by sea to Seville, and since then it has been publicly announced that Alençon is to come here at the beginning of November to see the Queen in anticipation of the marriage. In view of this the Queen has ordered great preparations to be made and magnificent dresses for herself and her ladies. The king of France and his brother are pressing the matter with great warmth, and, to judge from the despatches he sends to his ambassador, it may be concluded that the matter is of great importance to some design they have in view.
Horatio Pallavicini, a Genoese, in company with Baptist Spinola who lives at Antwerp, has advanced the money which I wrote to your Majesty was to be raised for the States, three hundred and fifty thousand florins, the payment being guaranteed, in defect of the States, by the city of London. This has probably been of enormous service to enable them to strengthen their army. This money, together with that raised on the alum, and the hundred and fifty thousand florins supplied by the Ghent people from the church silver, will enable them to pay the soldiers a month's wages, without which not a man would have moved. One of the conditions of the loan is that for six years Pallavicini is to have the sole right of introducing alum into the States of the Netherlands. This is to the disadvantage of the dominions of your Majesty and the Papal States whence the alum comes, as the Netherlands is the place where most of it is consumed, and this man thus becomes the monopolist of the article, and the money for it will come into his hands and those of the States for the purpose of the prolongation of the war. Walsingham certainly will not stand in the way or prevent the security for the money being given in England, as I am assured that they are making him a present of four thousand pounds out of this loan. Pallavicini, in order to forestall other people, has sent for all the alum which he has in various parts, Milan, Genoa, and other places. From the latter port the ship "Santa Maria la Incoronada," belonging to Juan Maria Rato with seven thousand jars has sailed, with the intention of touching at Alicante to ship some jars that he has there, and perhaps those belonging to him in Cadiz, which I have already mentioned, also will be shipped. If they come hither they certainly will enable the States to prolong the war against your Majesty.
M. de Quissé, who has been residing here for Alençon, and the prince of Bearn, and is a great man amongst the Flemish heretics here, has left for the Netherlands. Junio who came from Casimir to the Queen is still negotiating about his payment.
This Queen has written to her ambassadors, Cohham and Walsingham, telling them that, notwithstanding her instructions to them to return, they are to remain there until they see the result of the negotiations now being carried on between the ambassadors of the Emperor, the States, and Don Juan.—London, 23rd September 1578.
531. Extracts from Letters from Bernardino De Mendoza to Zayas, dated London, 23rd September and 7th and 11th October 1578.
Great payment and prizes have been promised in Ghent to all the ministers and secretaries who will go to the University and colleges which they are establishing for the maintenance of their new religion, so that the bait has had the effect of drawing all the ministers and schoolmasters away from here, and none now remain. Amongst them has gone Hermanus, a famous heretic who was thought much of in Antwerp, and preached there in Madam's time, and is now a minister at Norwich.
Letters from Antwerp of the 18th report that the States and Mathias have written to the people of Valenciennes telling them to obey Lalaing, both as regards billetting troops in the town and neighbourhood and in other matters.
By my letters to his Majesty you will see what passed with the Queen, and the discussion she raised about the ministers. I suspect that the object of his discussion was to learn from me what sort of reception her representatives would meet with in Spain, as it is stated here lately that when Cobham and Walsingham return she will send some one there. I replied to her in general terms, as you will see, and she afterwards said that if I were a "gaglioffo" (fn. 8) (for she likes to use such terms as these in Italian) I should not have remained here so long. She praised my mode of proceeding in affairs, and of conducting myself here, and said that, if I had lived here years ago, things would not have arrived at such a strained condition as they had, mentioning Don Guerau de Spes' proceedings which she has not forgotten yet. She also spoke about the release of Guaras, replying to my reference thereto, and told me that she had promised me before she left on her progress that she would deal with the matter on her return, as the men who were expected from Ireland to clear up the matter would then have arrived.
Harry Sidney the Governor of Ireland has arrived, summoned by the Queen, and, no doubt his coming will enable us to learn what are the charges made against Guaras in this particular. I am doing the best I can for his release.
The Ghent people have hanged president Hessels to a tree outside of the town, and they say that Champigny was very near accompanying him. Hessels was a good Catholic and a faithful subject of the King, and as such, he boldly addressed the people of Ghent when they were about to execute him. (fn. 9) — London, 23rd September, 7th and 11th of October 1578.


  • 1. Euston Hall the seat of the Rookwood family.
  • 2. Stukeley had just been killed whilst fighting against the King's predecessor who had fallen in the same battle.
  • 3. Bussy d'Amboise, the famous duellist who was shortly afterwards sent to England by Alençon to pave the way for his master's visit. He was the close friend of the Prince and had fled from Paris at the beginning of the year in consequence of a quarrel with one of the King's gentlemen named Quélus. A few days afterwards (14th February) he contrived the escape of Alençon from the capital and accompanied him in his expedition to Flanders.
  • 4. Rambouillet and L'Aubespine had been sent by Henry III, and Bacqueville and De Quissé by Alençon to Elizabeth to renew the negotiations for Elizabeth's hand and arrange for Alençon's visit.
  • 5. Dr. Junius de Jongh who had been agent for the prince of Orange.
  • 6. The disaster to Portuguese arms in Morocco at the battle of Alcazar on the 4th of the previous month in which Stukeley and the King were both killed, had apparently not become known in London at this date.
  • 7. The battle of Alcazar.
  • 8. Gaglioffo, a worthless knave.
  • 9. The rising of the Calvinists against the Walloon and Catholic Flemings at Ghent, at which Councillor Hessels and Ex-Procurator Visch were hanged, took place on the 4th October.