Simancas: February 1584

Pages 517-519

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

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February 1584

10 Feb. 369. The King to Count De Olivares. (fn. 1)
It was well for you to tell his Holiness what was written to you from here about English affairs. Since then you will have heard of the troubles and persecution of the Catholics, and the danger that exists of the negotiations being discovered as they are passing through so many hands, and so much publicity is being given to them. This has always been my fear, and has led me to enjoin secrecy many times, and to urge that no show should be made until the blow could be dealt. I am very sorry for their sufferings, but can only hope for God's sake that the principal thing may not be discovered. You will be on the look out in case (as it is usual to try to throw blame on others) the Pope and his ministers wish to say that the evil has happened in consequeuce of my not having done as I was urged to do. You will reply, and prove to demonstration, that as matters were no further advanced in England than they were, if I had moved, as they wished me to do last year, with the object of attempting the main business, the Catholics there would not be suffering only imprisonment and affliction, but would all have been murdered. You will thus, in the best way you can, prevent us from being blamed for what was not our fault, but rather the result of the carelessness of the parties themselves, and perhaps of some of his Holiness' officers, who have dealt too openly with the business. You will not advance this last point unless they oblige you to tell them the truth in this respect also.—Madrid, 10th February 1584.
19 Feb. 370. The King Of Scotland to the Duke Of Guise.
My cousin. I doubt not that our cousin and ambassador (fn. 2) to our good brother the Christian King will have informed you of our great esteem for your advice and counsel in all our affairs. He will also have told you of the trouble which has occurred amongst our subjects in consequence of my having, in accordance with my duty and your advice, undertaken the defence of the cause and honour of my much revered and dear mother, and abandoned the English faction. I now perceive that the strength of my enemies and rebels is growing daily, with so many means and aims of the queen of England for the subversion of my State, and the deprivation of my own life, or at least my honour and liberty, which I prize more than my life, and that it will be impossible for me to resist for long without the aid of God and my good friends and allies. I therefore beg you, my dear cousin, to use all your influence with the princes who are your friends, and even with our holy father, to whom I am writing, with the object of obtaining prompt and speedy help, otherwise I fear I shall soon be forced either to be ruined or to throw myself into their arms and accede to all their unhappy designs and appetites. If by your means I can obtain some succour I hope, God helping, that, with the support of a good number of adherents that I have, both in Scotland and in England, I shall soon be out of these difficulties, and I shall be more free to follow your advice in all things, both in religion and State affairs, as I wish to do in all things reasonable.
From our palace of Holyrood, 19th February 1584.
Your affectionate cousin, Jaques R.
19 Feb.
371. The King Of Scotland to the Pope.
The affection and goodwill which I understand your Holiness and your predecessors have shown to my crown, and especially to my ancestors, and the personal care that your Holiness has shown for the Queen, our dear mother, have moved me to address you respectfully, first to thank your Holiness for all your efforts in favour of the said Queen, our dear mother, and then to lay before you the difficulties in which I find myself, in consequence of my having acted as my duty towards her demanded. In this I have followed the sacred and natural law, and the advice of those whom I esteem as nearest and most faithful to me, particularly the house of Guise, who are, I understand, strongly devoted to your Holiness ; rather than my teaching, or ambition, or the wishes of those who have unduly rendered themselves stronger than myself unaided. It has come to pass, that those who have banished my mother, in order to take advantage of my youth, as a cloak and buckler to all their appetites and tyrannies over the country, seeing that I was beginning to open my eyes and recognise their evil behaviour towards their true and natural rulers, have banded themselves against me with the aid and countenance of my neighbour the queen of England, who has always held out her hand to all their bad enterprises undertaken with the object of utterly ruining me. Under such a blow as this I can only look for aid and succour to the prudence and the affection you bear towards our very dear mother, although I myself have hitherto deserved nothing at your hands, but I have always been told by those who have advised me to the present course, that I might better hope for aid and succour from your Holiness than from any other prince. The extreme need in which I now am, is such that, unless I have some help from abroad, I shall find myself in danger of being forced to second the designs of my greatest enemies and yours, because in my childhood the traitors abused my youth and authority and took possession of my domains and treasure, of the principal strongholds of the country, and of everything else which might strengthen themselves, whilst I was thus deprived of the power of defending myself, of delivering my mother, and of asserting her and my right to the throne of England. With regard to the means by which all this may be remedied, I have had recourse to my dear cousin the duke of Guise, to whom I have written, and by whose advice I have adopted this means of defending and protecting the cause of my dear and honoured mother. I hope to be able to satisfy your Holiness on all other points, especially if I am aided in my great need by your Holiness. I pray your Holiness will please to keep very secret the communication I thus open with you, and let no one know that I have written this, as my interests would otherwise be retarded, and perhaps my state utterly ruined, seeing the weakness of my resources and the small means I have here at present to defend myself, if I were assailed by my rebels and the queen of England.
From our palace of Holyrood, 19th February 1584.
Jaques R.


  • 1. Spanish ambassador in Rome.
  • 2. Lord Seton, who had arrived in France seven weeks previous to the date of this letter.