Simancas: May 1580

Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 3, 1580-1586. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1896.

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, 'Simancas: May 1580', in Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 3, 1580-1586, (London, 1896) pp. 29-32. British History Online [accessed 30 May 2024].

. "Simancas: May 1580", in Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 3, 1580-1586, (London, 1896) 29-32. British History Online, accessed May 30, 2024,

. "Simancas: May 1580", Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 3, 1580-1586, (London, 1896). 29-32. British History Online. Web. 30 May 2024,

May 1580

16 May.
Paris Archives, K. 1447. 3.
22. The King to Bernardino De Mendoza.
Your letters of 28th February and 23rd March received. Many thanks for the diligence you display in my service. You did well in forwarding the writing and discourse translated into Spanish, that we may see here what it contains.
It will be advisable for you to continue to keep yourself well informed with regard to preparations in England ; the troops that are raised and embarked ; what munitions are provided, how many ships there are, and for how long a time the latter are provisioned. You will discover all you can ; and also, if possible, the objects in view, and report to us here. You will also keep us advised as to how the Irish are going on.
You have acted prudently in your recent audiences with the Queen. It will not be harmful for her to be alarmed at our fleet and you are doing well in fostering this fear.
Captain Augustine Clerk, an Englishman with a well-armed ship, has entered the port of Bayona in Galicia ; and having regard to the letters from you he produces, and the patent he bears from M. de la Motte, I think of availing myself of his services in Pedro de Valdez's fleet there. We learn from this captain that they were intending in England to send a number of ships to Portugal under pretence of trading, but that they would carry arms, &c., as ballast, and crews of double strength. They think that after they have sold their merchandise they will be sure to be seized, and this will give them a good excuse for serving us, as it will appear as if they were compelled. Investigate this, and if you find it true, take the necessary steps with the Queen to stop it ; but do not declare the author.—Merida, 16th May 1580.
16 May.
Paris Archives, K. 1448. 5.
23. The King to Bernardino De Mendoza.
In addition to the letters from you acknowledged in the other despatch, nine others have been received, four of 20th February, four of 23rd March, and one of 9th April, all of which will be answered here.
You did very well in taking the action you did with the Queen when you saw she was afraid of our fleet ; and it was prudent to have taken the opportunity of protesting against the help being sent from England to my rebels in Flanders, and the sailing of ships to plunder on the voyage to the Indies. I approve of your action. Perhaps your having fostered her fears will cause the English to be more moderate.
The measures you have adopted to obtain news of Drake as soon as he arrives are good, and so also are those for having him proceeded against. Take care they do not conceal his arrival ; so that you may try to obtain restitution of the plunder, or at least protest against the outrage.
The raising of the embargo on the English ships here and allowing them to ship Spanish merchandise, was in consequence of the great injury and loss which would have been incurred in Andalucia if they were unable there to export their crops this year ; and also to enable you to make the most of the concession with the Queen, as if it had been granted by your influence. The reason why the Queen's letter was not answered, as was requested by the Englishmen who had the business in hand, was in order that we might be untrammelled as to our future action. I have ordered your proposal that a general prohibition should be re-enacted, whilst special permits could be granted, to be considered ; and in due time will advise you of the decision.
You did well in frustrating the intention you heard of, to deliver the king of Scotland into the hands of the queen of England, by communicating with the Scots ambassador in Paris through Juan de Vargas.
It will be well to keep us informed of the result of the attempt to reach Cathay by the northern parts, although, as you say, it seems a difficult enterprise.
We note what you say about the letter of the Governors of Portugal to the Queen, sent through their ambassador, and the wish entertained in England that we should be at war here. You had better inquire very carefully and thoroughly whether any aid be sent from England to them (i.e., the Portuguese), and be very vigilant in this matter ; so that, in case of need, you may take steps to show the Queen how important it will be for her not to allow the English to help the Portuguese against me, either directly or indirectly, and that otherwise she will compel me to resent it in good earnest, no matter under what pretext or disguise it be done.
Thanks for reports about Ireland, Scotland, and Flanders, which please continue to send.—Merida, 16th May 1580.
16 May.
Paris Archives, K. 1448. 6.
24. The King to Juan De Vargas Mejia.
The steps you took with the Scotch ambassador about his king and queen were very advisable, as also was your advice to him, not to mention it to anyone without instructions from his queen.
The plan for withdrawing the Scots from Flanders is of the highest importance, and you will do your best to forward it, by the means you mention. Report what is done.
You will have heard from Juan de Idiaquez that it was not considered advisable to grant Lord Hamilton a pension, but only to entertain him with present gifts of money. For this purpose a credit for 1,000 crowns is now sent you, and you can give it to him in one or more instalments, as you think best, keeping him in hand the meanwhile with fair words and making what use of him you can.—Merida, 16th May 1580.
21 May. 25. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
What your Majesty directed me to convey to the queen of Scotland has been signified to her with the caution which your Majesty enjoins. In consequence of the need for secrecy, and the danger which she might incur, I delayed communicating with her until she provided means for my doing so. She has sent and asked me to inform your Majesty that she has done, and will do, all she can to bring her son to submit to the Catholic church, to which she herself will be faithful whilst she lives. She also begs me to reiterate her sincere and constant attachment to your Majesty's interests, and also her efforts to bring her son to the same feeling. Alençon's secretary, (fn. 1) whom I mentioned as being expected here, came on the 3rd, with a cypher letter for the Queen in Alençon's own hand, which letter she deciphered herself, and at first allowed no one else see it. The substance of it was to say, with many fine words, that, although much pressure was being exerted to prevent him from marrying her, he would stand at nothing to attain an object he so greatly desired. He therefore begged her to say whether she would allow commissioners to be sent to her to settle the conditions. The bearer and the French ambassador addressed her to the same effect. With the letter there came another from the King, especially referring to the efforts being made by the Pope to prevent the marriage. He highly praises Alençon and points out to the Queen how important it is for the safety of her country that the marriage should be effected, as it would strengthen her against the alarm caused to her by your Majesty's fleet and the news from France.
He also brought a letter from Alençon for the Earl of Sussex, and another to the treasurer, both written in his own hand. He ordered that Leicester should not be informed that he wrote these letters, and the Queen told Leicester of this. When de Vray spoke to Leicester from his master begging him to favour the business, he replied that he did not know how they thought to get any help from him, since his master did not even write to him, whereas letters had been sent to Sussex and Cecil. De Vray excused his master by saying that he was prevented from doing so, as he was being bled. Leicester accepted the excuse, but he quite understands the distrust with which the French regard him, although he is in the same high favour with the Queen as before.
When the secretary begged the Queen to dispatch him, she told him she would send an autograph letter by him. He said he was instructed to take a verbal answer, and that if a written reply were handed to him he was to open it before he left England and learn the decision it contained. This was a reason for delaying him until the 18th, when he left with two letters for Alençon and the king of France respectively, which were handed to him open that he might see them, and they were sealed before Vray himself. They contained many sweet words but no decision. They thought this the best course, as the ambassador told the Queen herself that the matter was now so far advanced that if it were not carried through, Alençon could not avoid being offended. In this way both parties are weaving a Penelope's web, simply to cover the designs which I have already explained to your Majesty.
The Queen has received a letter from the Governors of Portugal to the same effect as I wrote on the 9th ultimo. This duplicate was brought by Francisco Barreto of Lima, as far as Paris, and came thence by the hand of a Portuguese, with a letter from the duchess of Braganza to the Queen, urging upon her the duty of coming to the aid of the person rightly entitled to that crown, without further particularising. The Queen replied, both to the Duchess and to the Governors, that she would not fail to aid the person who had a right to the Crown. I have tried to discover whether the Portuguese who brought the letter came from Portugal on purpose, but I find he only came from Paris, the letter having been sent to Giraldo and forwarded by him.
The only object of raising forces in Scotland, on account of the rumour I mentioned, was to protect the person of d'Aubigny from the opposite party. He is in his former position with the King, and, as the efforts of his opponents to overthrow him have failed, they have determined to attempt another plan, this being to call a meeting of ministers in order to force d'Aubigny not to alter the religion of the country. With this object they sent a man from here on the 11th to be present at the meeting.
Pedro de Zubiaur, a merchant established in Seville, informs me that when he landed at Plymouth, he learned that two English ships had arrived at places about four leagues from there. One of them had discharged wheat at Cartagena, and the other had come from Algiers, whither she had taken a cargo of munitions. These two ships had stolen a ship belonging to Martin Visante, valued at 40,000 crowns. I begged the Queen to grant a commission that I might send and sequestrate the property, embargoing it until its ownership was established. This has been done, and the Admiralty will have no chance of interfering, as otherwise it would not be so easy to recover for your subjects that which may be found in the possession of these thieves.—London, 21st May 1580.
31 May.
Paris Archives (late) B 51.
26. Juan De Vargas Mejia (fn. 2) to the King.
It is reported from Scotland that the Parliament held there on the 4th instant did nothing but order, at the instance of the Prince, a proclamation by sound of trumpet to be made, of the innocence and fidelity of the earl of Morton, who was now in higher favour than ever. In consequence of this and of the presence at the Court of the queen of England's ambassador, (fn. 3) the earl of Huntingdon and another English lord being on the Border, some great embroilment to the prejudice of the King and his realm was expected, notwithstanding that I learn from the Scots' ambassador that efforts were still being made to transport the Prince to the port of Dumbarton, whence he might be sent out of the country. This is not without his own goodwill and consent.—Paris, 31st May 1580.


  • 1. De Vray.
  • 2. Juan de Vargas Mejia died early in July of this year and was succeeded in the January following (1581) by Juan Bautista de Tassis the younger, but only with the rank of chargé d'affaires and not with that of ambassador which was enjoyed by his predecessor and his suceessor.
  • 3. Sir Robert Bowes.