Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 4, 1587-1603. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1899.
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June 1587, 16-30
105. Relation made to Sir Francis Englefield by an Englishman
named Arthur Dudley, claiming to be the son of Queen
Imprimis, he said that a man named Robert Southern, a servant of Catharine Ashley (who had been governess to the Queen in her youth, and was for ever afterwards one of her most beloved and intimate ladies), which Southern was married, and lived 20 leagues from London, was summoned to Hampton Court. When he arrived another lady of the Queen's court named Harrington asked him to obtain a nurse for a new-born child of a lady, who had been so careless of her honour, that, if it became known, it would bring, great shame upon all the company and would highly displease the Queen if she knew of it. The next morning, in a corridor leading to the Queen's private chamber, the child was given to the man, who was told that its name was Arthur. The man took the child and gave it for some days to the wife of a miller of Molesey to suckle. He afterwards took it to a village near where he lived, 20 leagues from London, where the child remained until it was weaned. He then took it to his own house and brought it up with his own children, in place of one of his which had died of similar age.
Some years afterwards the man Robert, who lived very humbly at home, left his own family and took this Arthur on horseback to London, where he had him brought up with great care and delicacy, whilst his own wife and children were left in his village.
When the child was about eight years old, John Ashley, the husband of Catharine Ashley, who was one of the Queen's gentlemen of the chamber, gave to Robert the post of lieutenant of his office, as keeper of one of the Queen's houses called Enfield, three leagues from London ; and during the summer, or when there was any plague or sickness in London, Arthur was taught and kept in this house, the winters being passed in London. He was taught Latin, Italian, and French, music, arms, and dancing. When he was about 14 or 15, being desirous of seeing strange lands, and having had some disagreement, he stole from a purse of this Robert as many silver pieces as he could grasp in his hand, about 70 reals, and fled to a port in Wales called Milford Haven, with the intention of embarking for Spain, which country he had always wished to see. Whilst he was there awaiting his passage in the house of a gentleman named George Devereux, a brother of the late earl of Essex, a horse messenger came in search of him with a letter, signed by seven members of the Council, ordering him to be brought to London. The tenour of this letter showed him to be a person of more importance than the son of Robert Southern. This letter still remains in the castle of Llanfear, in the hands of George Devereux, and was seen and read by Richard Jones and John Ap Morgan, then magistrates of the town of Pembroke, who agreed that the respect thus shown to the lad by the Council proved him to be a different sort of person from what he had commonly been regarded.
When he was conveyed to London, to a palace called Pickering Place, and he found there Wotton, of Kent, Thomas Heneage, and John Ashley, who reproved him for running away in that manner, and gave him to understand that it was John Ashley who had paid for his education, and not Robert Southern. He thinks that the letter of the council also said this.
Some time afterwards, being in London, and still expressing a desire to see foreign lands, John Ashley, finding that all persuasions to the contrary were unavailing, obtained letters of recommendation to M. de la Noue, a French colonel then in the service of the States. He was entrusted for his passage to a servant of the Earl of Leicester, who pretended to be going to Flanders on his own affairs, and he landed at Ostend in the summer of 1580, proceeding afterwards to Bruges, where he remained until La Noue was taken prisoner. (fn. 1) This deranged his plans, and taking leave of the Earl of Leicester's gentleman, he went to France, where he remained until his money was spent : after which he returned to England for a fresh supply. He again returned to France, whence he was recalled at the end of 1583 by letters from Robert Southern, saying that his return to England would be greatly to his advantage.
When he arrived in England he found Robert very ill of paralysis at Evesham, where he was keeping an inn, his master having sold the office of keeper of Enfield. Robert, with many tears, told him he was not his father, nor had he paid for his bringing up, as might easily be seen by the different way in which his own children had been reared. Arthur begged him to tell him who his parents were, but Robert excused himself, saying that both their lives depended upon it, besides the danger of ruining other friends who did not deserve such a return.
Arthur took leave of Robert in anger, as he could not obtain the information be desired, and Robert sent a lad after him to call him back. Arthur refused to return unless he promised to tell him whose son he was. Robert also sent the schoolmaster Smyth, a Catholic, after him, who gravely reproved him for what he was doing, and at last brought him back to Robert. The latter then told him secretly that he was the son of the earl of Leicester and the Queen, with many other things unnecessary to set down here. He added that he had (no) authority to tell him this ; but did so for the discharge of his own conscience, as he was ill and near death. Arthur begged him to give him the confession in writing, but he could not write, as his hand was paralysed, and Arthur sent to London to seek medicines for him. He got some from Dr. Hector (Nuñes), but they did no good ; so, without bidding farewell to Robert, he took his horse and returned to London, where, finding John Ashley, and a gentleman named, Drury, he related to them what Robert had told him. They exhibited great alarm at learning the thing had been discovered, and prayed him not to repeat it, recommending him to keep near the court ; and promising him if he followed their advice, he might count upon their best services whilst they lived. They told him they had no means of communicating with the Earl, except through his brother the earl of Warwick.
The great fear displayed by John Ashley and the others when they knew that the affair was discovered alarmed Arthur to such an extent that he fled to France. On his arrival at Eu in Normandy he went to the Jesuit College there in search of advice. After he had somewhat obscurely stated his case, the Rector, seeing that the matter was a great one and foreign to his profession, dismissed him at once, and told him he had better go to the duke of Guise, which he promised to do, although he had no intention of doing it, thinking that it would be impolitic for him to divulge his condition to Frenchmen. When he was in Paris he went to the Jesuit College there with the intention of divulging his secret to an English father named Father Thomas, but when he arrived in his presence he was so overcome with terror that he could not say a word. The Commissioners of the States of Flanders being in Paris at the time, to offer their allegiance to the king of France, and there being also a talk about a league being arranged by the duke of Guise, Arthur feared that some plans might be hatching against England, and repented of coming to France at all. He thereupon wrote several letters to John Ashley, but could get no reply. He also wrote to Edward Stafford, the English ambassador in France, without saying his name, and when the ambassador desired to know who he was he replied that he had been reared by Robert Southern, whom the Queen knew, and whose memory she had reason to have graven on her heart.
He remained in France until he had cause to believe that the queen of England would take the States of Flanders under her protection and that a war might ensue. He then returned to England in the ship belonging to one Nicholson of Ratcliff. The said master threatened him when they arrived at Gravesend that he would hand him over to the justices for his own safety. Arthur begged him rather to take him to the earl of Leicester first, and wrote a letter to the Earl, which Nicholson delivered. The Earl received the letter and thanked the bearer for his service, of which Nicholson frequently boasted. The next morning, as the ship was passing Greenwich on its way to London, two of the Earl's gentlemen came on board to visit him, one of them named Blount, the Earl's equerry. When they arrived at Ratcliff, Flud, the Earl's secretary, came to take Arthur to Greenwich. The Earl was in the garden with the earls of Derby and Shrewsbury, and on Arthur's arrival the earl of Leicester left the others and went to his apartment, where by his tears, words, and other demonstrations he showed so much affection for Arthur that the latter believed he understood the Earl's deep intentions towards him. The secretary remained in Arthur's company all night, and the next morning, on the Earl learning that the masters and crews of the other ships that had sailed in their company had seen and known Arthur, and had gone to Secretary Walsingham to give an account of their passengers, he said to Arthur, "You are like a ship under full sail at sea, pretty to "look upon but dangerous to deal with." The Earl then sent his secretary with Arthur to Secretary Walsingham to tell him that he (Arthur) was a friend of the Earl's, and Flud was also to say that he knew him. Walsingham replied that if that were the case he could go on his way. Flud asked for a certificate and licence to enable Arthur to avoid future molestation, and Walsingham thereupon told Arthur to come to him again and he would speak to him. On that day Arthur went with the Earl to his house at Wanstead and returned with Flud in the evening to Greenwich. The Earl again sent to Walsingham for the licence ; but as Walsingham examined him very curiously, and deferred giving him the paper, Arthur was afraid to return to his presence. He therefore went to London and asked M. de la Mauvissière to give him a passport for France, which, after much difficulty, he obtained in the guise of a servant of the ambassador. He sapped that night with the ambassador, and was with him until midnight, but on arriving at Gravesend the next morning he found that the passport would carry him no further without being presented to Lord Cobham. (fn. 2) As he found there an English hulk loaded with English soldiers for Flanders he entered into their company and landed at Bergen-op-Zoom. He was selected to accompany one Gawen, a lieutenant of Captain Willson, and a sergeant of Colonel Norris, to beg the States for some aid in money for the English troops, who were in great need.
The paper then relates at length Arthur's plot with one Seymour to deliver the town of Tele to the Spaniards, which plot was discovered. His adventures at Cologne and elsewhere are also recounted. He opened up communications with the elector of Cologne and the Pope, and indirectly the duke of Parma learnt his story and sent Count Paul Strozzi to interview him. After many wanderings about Germany he received a messenger from the earl of Leicester at Sighen, but to what effect he does not say. He then undertook a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Montserrat, and on learning in Spain of the condemnation of Mary Stuart he started for France, but was shipwrecked on the Biscay coast and captured by the Spaniards as a suspicious person, and was brought to Madrid where he made his statement to Englefield. (The latter portion of the statement is not here given at length, as it has no bearing upon Arthur Dudley's alleged parentage.)
The above statement was accompanied by a private letter from
Arthur Dudley to Sir Francis Englefield as follows :—
As time allowed I have written all this, although as you see my paper has run short. If God grants that his Majesty should take me under his protection, I think it will be necessary to spread a rumour that I have escaped, as everybody knows now that I am here, and my residence in future can be kept secret. I could then write simply and sincerely to the earl of Leicester all that has happened to me, in order to keep in his good graces ; and I could also publish a book to any effect that might be considered desirable, in which I should show myself to be everybody's friend and nobody's foe. With regard to the king of Scotland, in whose favour you quote the law, I also have read our English books, but you must not forget that when the din of arms is heard the laws are not audible ; and if it is licit to break the law for any reason, it is licit to do so to obtain dominion. Besides which, if this reason was a sufficiently strong one to bring about the death of the mother, the life of the son might run a similar risk. Those who have power have right on their side. As for the earl of Huntingdon, and Beauchamp, son of the earl of Hertford, both of them are descendants of Adam, and perhaps there is someone else who is their elder brother.
Attached to this document there is another memorandum from
Englefield as follows :—
I recollect that this Arthur Dudley amongst other things repeated several times that for many years past the earl of Leicester had been the mortal enemy of the queen of Scots, and that the condemnation and execution of Throgmorton, Parry, and many others had been principally brought about in order to give an excuse for what was afterwards done with the queen of Scots.
I think it very probable that the revelations that this lad is making everywhere may originate in the queen of England and her Council, and possibly with an object that Arthur himself does not yet understand. Perhaps if they have determined to do away with the Scottish throne they may encourage this lad to profess Catholicism and claim to be the Queen's son, in order to discover the minds of other Princes as to his pretensions, and the Queen may thereupon either acknowledge him or give him such other position as to neighbouring Princes may appear favourable. Or perhaps in some other way they may be making use of him for their iniquitous ends. I think also that the enclosed questions should be put to him to answer in writing—whether all at once or at various times I leave to you. I also leave for your consideration whether it would not be well to bring Arthur to San Geronimo, the Atocha, or some other monastery or other house where he might be more commodiously communicated with.
106. Sir Francis Englefield to the King.
Very late last night Andres de Alba sent me what Arthur Dudley has written, which being in English, and filling three sheets of paper, will take some days to translate and summarise in Spanish.
As, however, I have read it, I think well in the meanwhile to advise your Majesty that the effect of it is a discourse about his education, with the reasons and arguments which have led him to believe to be, as he calls himself, the son of the Queen. He then gives an account of his voyages away from England, in France and Flanders, showing that they had no other intention or motive than a desire, on his first voyage, to see strange countries. He returned in consequence of poverty, and subsequently set out on his second voyage for his own safety's sake. He mentions several things that happened in France and Flanders and speaks of the letters that passed between him and the elector of Cologne, and says that his reason for coming to this country was a vow he had made to visit Our Lady of Monserrat, where he was shriven on the 13th October of last year. He enumerates certain places in Spain where he has stayed, and the persons he has been living with. He adds that his intention was to go to France when he was detained in Giupuzcoa, and ends by begging his Majesty to accept and esteem him as the person he claims to be, and to protect him (although with the utmost secresy). He indicates a desire also to write something in English, to publish to the world, and especially to England, who he is, as he thinks that those who have put the queen of Scotland out of the way will endeavour to send her son after her.
As he replies in this discourse to some of the questions I sent to your Majesty on Monday they may be modified accordingly before they are sent to him.—Madrid, 18th June 1587.
107. Same to the Same.
I send your Majesty herewith a summary of all that Arthur Dudley had sent to me, and as it appears that some of the questions your Majesty has are answered therein, I have eliminated the 4th, 5th, and 6th questions and have added those I now enclose.
I also send enclosed what I think of writing with the questions, as I think I had better defer my going thither until after he has sent his answers to them, as I find many things which he told me verbally have been omitted in his statement.
When your Majesty has altered what you think fit, I will put my letter, which I will take or send as your Majesty orders, in conformity. As he says he is in want of paper your Majesty had better order him to be supplied with as much as may be needed ; because the more fully he writes the better shall we be able to discover what we wish to know.—Madrid, 20th June 1587.
108. Count De Olivares to the King.
In the audience I had with his Holiness on the 13th, having regard to the reports which are being received here daily, I tried to keep fresh in his mind the friendship that exists between the king of France and the queen of England. Sometimes I find him well disposed on the subject, but he is very changeable about it, as he is in all things. They are also falsely magnifying here the good news of the conversion of the king of Scotland, which again has made him vacillate accordingly. I try all I can personally and indirectly to keep him firm.—Rome, 19th June 1587.
Paris Archives, K. 1448. 122.
109. The King to Bernardino De Mendoza.
I note what the new friend told you about the wish of the English to form a closer union with the Christian King, and the active steps that were being taken with that object by the English ambassador. Although without any fresh treaty between them they may come to an agreement to embarrass us, they will be the less able to do so whilst their recent distrust of each other exists. You will therefore use every effort to throw cold water on their negotiations by means of the new friend, whom you will induce to fulfil his task dexterously as you may arrange between you. (fn. 3) If you succeed in preventing a fresh alliance between the countries so much the better, but if you should fail in this, you may accept the suggestion you mention about Ireland ; arranging at once with the new friend what will be the most advisable course. (fn. 4) But in the first place you must try to prevent a new alliance.
With regard to the hint thrown out to you about placing in your hands the negotiations for an agreement with England, you gave the proper reply by referring them (i.e., the English) to the duke of Parma, with whom they have opened negotiations. You may say that you have taken this course from no dislike to them so long as they act properly, but because you know that they will negotiate with any other person less distrustfully than with you.
The remark made by the new friend to Belièvre about my rights to the English crown had better have been left unsaid, as it could only serve to open their eyes and enable them to counteract us. It will therefore be wiser in future to avoid similar conversations with those who will do their best to stand in our way, although it is desirable that the subject should be disseminated amongst Englishmen. You did well in providing that the message to be sent to me by the king of Scotland should not be conveyed by a person who was doubtful in the matter of religion, but should be transmitted through you and the archbishop of Glasgow, of whose help in Paris I am glad. I am expecting to receive the King's reply to my message sent through the Archbishop. You will forward it to me with all speed, and particularly let me know whether the King's action towards the Archbishop and the other two prelates may be attributed to a growing attachment towards the Catholics, or if it is simply a matter of policy with a desire to ingratiate himself with all parties. The duke of Parma writes confirming your letters about Bruce's affair, which seems to be progressing favourably. You will keep Bruce in hand and arrange matters in concert with the Duke. You did wisely in not communicating all the negotiations with Bruce to Muzio (i.e., Guise), but only as much as was advisable. Urge Muzio to be firm in his interviews with the Queen-Mother, which he has very good reason for being, the duke of Parma having the aid to be furnished to him so ready for action in case of need. It was especially advisable to put Muzio on his guard against the proposals they might make to him to help the king of Scotland in the English enterprise. You will continue to press this point and show him how these suggestions tend to uproot him from France ; besides which, if he once adopted the proposal, they might turn round upon him and say he was not moved by zeal for Catholicism in his attitude in France, since he is ready to aid a heretic elsewhere.—Madrid, 20th June 1587.
Paris Archives, K. 1566. 154.
110. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
The duke of Guise (Muzio) has written me the enclosed note, to which I have replied that he must bear in mind that the Scottish lords trusted him and opened their hearts to him when they asked him to be their intermediary with your Majesty to obtain help. By his intercession, and because the cause was so godly a one, your Majesty had granted their request, and the confidence the lords had reposed in him did not deserve his endangering their lives and estates by divulging their plans to the King, who was a heretic and in the hands of the English faction, especially as these plans were so righteous and were directed to the King's welfare and the conversion of the country to our Catholic faith, this being the only interest your Majesty had in the matter. As the king of Scotland had only hitherto written to him in general terms as to his desiring aid to avenge his mother he (Guise) might very well reply in the same strain, saying that, whilst he (James) retains the same mind, friends and aid will not fail him. By adopting this course no blame could be cast upon him (Guise) of having neglected his duty as the kinsman of the king of Scotland, or that of advancing the Catholic faith in Scotland, which must remain a prominent consideration with him, as he had taken up arms for its maintenance in this country. On the arrival of news from Bruce, who had been instructed to sound the King's feelings, I said he could act as seemed most advisable under the circumstances. I dwelt at length on these and similar arguments to persuade him not to spoil the business in this inconsiderate way. The archbishop of Glasgow approved of my reply, and agreed that it was unadvisable that Muzio should send any other answer, or divulge anything further in the business. M. de la Motte wrote asking me to endeavour to send some Scotsman to Holland to tempt a countryman of his in Gueldres to surrender the fortress. (fn. 5) I did so and my envoy has returned with the reply that when the duke of Parma sends some person to Gueldres to treat with him (i.e. the Scots commander) he will surrender the town and two other places as well. If this service is considered unimportant he says that he will hold his footing until he is put into some place where he can render a greater service.—Paris, 20th June 1587.
Note.—A letter from the duke of Guise, dated 25th June, to Mendoza (Paris Archives, K. 1565. 15.), accepts the advice given in the aforegoing, and the Duke agrees to take no fresh step in the matter until Bruce returns. It will be seen by the above letter and the preceding one how determined Philip was to keep the Guises embroiled in France if possible, and to alienate them from interfering in Scottish and English affairs in the interest of James VI. It is clear from the above also that Guise bitterly resented this, but felt his own powerlessness in the face of the Spanish aid promised him in his French plans. Guise, however, notwithstanding his promise, divulged the Catholic conspiracy to James and rendered it abortive.
Paris Archives, K. 1566, 155.
111. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
In addition to what I say about England in my general letter, which is, according to the new friend, exactly the tenour of Drake's report to the Queen, I have to add that Drake also writes that he learnt from the men he had captured that all the Sovereigns on the other side of the straits of the Mediterranean sea would help your Majesty in the English enterprise, and greater preparations were being made for it in your Majesty's dominions than had ever been seen before. These preparations would suffice to maintain a fleet of 40,000 men for a year ; but notwithstanding this, the fine weather that God had sent had enabled him to do so much damage that he believed your Majesty would not now be able to gather a large fleet ; and he (Drake) would continue and make sure of this if the Queen would send him reinforcements of small ships to prevent the passage of the galleys which sailed close in shore, where he dared not follow them in order not to imperil his great ships. They (the galleys) would thus be unable to join the other vessels which were in Lisbon. He had stored his squadron with wine and biscuits for six months, plundered from your Majesty, and he would so distribute the meat and other victuals that they should last for the same period, by which time he was confident of being able to fulfil his mission of preventing the junction of your Majesty's fleet in Spain this year, if he were furnished with the aid he requested. It was advisable, he said, for the Queen to order such preparation on the coast as would be able to resist any stray ships which might come from Spain to attack the villages ; and that the Queen should send him the ships she thought necessary, in which case he would guarantee that your Majesty's fleet should not approach the island this year. The Queen instantly decided that the four largest of the eight ships she had guarding the west end of the Channel should be sent, and 10 merchantmen fitted out in Bristol and the West Country of from 80 to 120 tons burdens each ; the whole 14 ships taking 1,500 or 2,000 men, soldiers and sailors. Some people thought that these merchant ships could be made ready in a fortnight, whilst others objected that they could not be ready so soon, and the ships from Plymouth would require the wind from one quarter and those from Bristol from another to enable them to join. The eight Queen's ships on the west coast are not the very large ones, the "Elizabeth," one of the largest of all, being in port, and the "White Bear" is in the same state ; whilst the other 10 are in the Thames quite ready to sail. I cannot give your Majesty any further particulars of this fleet at present.
The new friend had a special messenger waiting to bring this news on the 6th, but the contrary wind detained him in port nine days. He is much vexed at this as he thinks that if the news arrives in time some ships of your Majesty's fleet might sail out and encounter the 14 vessels before they reached Drake, in which case they would certainly be destroyed, as they cannot sail so well armed and found as Drake's ships. He (i.e., "the new friend," Sir Edward Stafford, the English ambassador) advised me instantly and said that no time ought to be lost in reporting the matter to your Majesty. I therefore send this by special messenger, and will advise also as soon as I learn that these ships have sailed.
It was proposed in the council that Grenville, a gentleman who has always sailed with pirates, should command the squadron, but it was objected that he would not serve under Drake, and it was necessary to send some person who would not raise questions but would obey Drake unreservedly, and it was therefore thought that Frobisher would be put into command.
The new friend has been offered the post of viceroy of Ireland, as I have mentioned, and now they have offered him another office which carries with it the membership of the Council. He desires to know which of the two your Majesty wishes him to accept. (fn. 6) In the first position he would render the service I have already mentioned, and in the other he would report all that passes. I humbly beg your Majesty to signify your pleasure, as he is anxious to learn your wishes and to serve you.—Paris, 20th June 1587.
Note.—There are several marginal notes of the King's, showing that he was entirely confused as to the number of ships spoken of in England. The matter seems clear enough. There were eight Queen's ships on the West coast, of which four were to be sent to Drake, accompanied by 10 merchantmen fitted out in Bristol and the West Country. There were 10 Queen's ships ready for sea in the Thames, and two, the "Elizabeth" and the "White Bear" in dock.
Paris Archives, K. 1656. 156.
112. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
Owing to the contrary winds that have prevailed lately I cannot give your Majesty any fresher news from England than the 6th. They report that, two days prior to this, Robert Cross arrived in London, having been sent by Drake with two prize ships, which professed to be Italians, one of 800 tons, and the other of 600, loaded with Malvoisie, raisins, and other things which Drake had captured, and which they consider a valuable prize.
This Robert Cross reports that Drake sent him, after entering the Bay of Cadiz, to give an account to the Queen of his voyage, and the fortunes which had attended him on the high seas after he left England. He had encountered a great storm which had scattered his ships, but he had collected them again at the end of five days, after which he had the best weather he could desire and arrived at Cadiz without being discovered. He had there sunk 32 ships of 700 and 800 tons each, the smallest of them being 400 tons, and two galleys, he having engaged 12 of the latter which were in port, and done much damage to them. He had also captured six ships, with a great quantity of biscuit and wine, which was intended for the provisioning of your Majesty's fleet for England. To sum up the tonnage of the ships he had destroyed, he had sunk, burned and captured 25,000 tons burden, and had stocked his fleet with wine and biscuits for six months, and this, he said, would be no small impediment to the junction of your Majesty's fleet. In order to prevent this he would remain on the coast of Spain. I also hear that the General of the galleys in Cadiz sent him a boat load of sweetmeats for his refreshment.
The rumour that the earl of Leicester would return to Flanders was still current, and they say that 1,500 men were ready to accompany him and fill up the English ranks. It may be concluded that the duke of Parma's beleaguering of Ostend will hasten the despatch of these men, even if the Earl himself do not go and try to relieve it.
Don Antonio was in London without change in his affairs, and there was nothing fresh about Ireland.
Parliament was convened in Scotland for the 1st instant, as the King then entered his 21st year, when he takes full possession of the government and certain things which have been done in his minority will be reformed.—Paris, 20th June 1587.
113. Sir Francis Englefield to the King.
Although the statement sent to me by Arthur Dudley omits many things that he told me verbally, which things must be inquired into more particularly, yet it appears evident from what he writes that he makes as light of the claims of Huntingdon and of the sons of the earl of Hertford, as he does of the life of the king of Scotland ; and it is also manifest that he has had much conference with the earl of Leicester, upon whom he mainly depends for the fulfilment of his hopes. This and other things convince me that the queen of England is not ignorant of his pretensions ; although, perhaps, she would be unwilling that they should be thus published to the world, for which reason she may wish to keep him (Dudley) in his low and obscure condition as a matter of policy, and also in order that her personal immorality might not be known (the bastards of princes not usually being acknowledged in the lifetime of their parents), and she has always considered that it would be dangerous to her for her heir to be nominated in her lifetime, although he alleges that she has provided for the earl of Leicester and his faction to be able to elevate him (Dudley) to the throne when she dies, and perhaps marry him to Arabella (Stuart). For this and other reasons I am of opinion that he should not be allowed to get away, but should be kept very secure to prevent his escape. It is true his claim at present amounts to nothing, but, with the example of Don Antonio before us, it cannot be doubted that France and the English heretics or some other party, might turn it to their own advantage, or at least make it a pretext for obstructing the reformation of religion in England (for I look upon him as a very feigned Catholic) and the inheritance of the crown by its legitimate master ; especially as during this Queen's time they have passed an Act in England, excluding from the succession all but the heirs of the Queen's body.—Madrid, 22nd June 1587.
Note to the above letter, in the handwriting of the King. "Since the other letters were written, the enclosed from Englefield has been handed to me." It certainly will be "safest to make sure of his (Dudley's) person until we know more about it."
114. The King to Count De Olivares.
It will be advisable not to press forward for the present the question of the succession, but only in due time to request the Pope to fulfil the document of 24th February 1586, in which he undertook to accept the deprivation of the king of Scotland and to conform to my opinion with regard to the succession. On the other point, of declaring this war a righteous one, although it will be advisable for the reasons you and Allen have drawn up, yet it would be well for his Holiness at the time of the execution to grant a jubilee for those who take part in it, and those who pray for the success of so just and holy a cause. When you approach him on this point, in due time (which is not at present), you will take care to put it in the form I have mentioned, or in any other that you and Allen may think advisable, without altering the substance. In the meanwhile it will be sufficient for you to strengthen your ground respecting the exclusion of the king of Scotland, which you will see is extremely important.
It is also very desirable that you should now ensure the payment of the million, and its anticipation in the form I wrote on the 7th April. This should be done with all possible speed and certainty, without pledging me to any fixed time, although you should say that you are sure I shall carry out the enterprise as soon as I can out of regard to the service of the Lord, the obligations imposed upon us all by the death of the queen of Scotland, and the saintly wishes of his Holiness. This is the path you will follow, but get the question of the money settled at once and let me know.
If you proceed in this way the Pope will not have so early an opportunity of trying to guard against the incorporation of what we may gain with my other dominions ; this being the point upon which you ask me for instructions in case he should broach it. Whenever the matter is mentioned, however, it will be well for you to conceal the object I have in view, which is not to incorporate the conquest, but to dispose of it otherwise, and you may best do this by professing to be ignorant of my intentions in this respect, whilst at the same time you may, as if of your own accord, make certain remarks defeating the objections they raise there to the union of the dominions. The object of this will not be for you to entrench yourself behind this point, but simply to skirt it, and say that you will write to me about it, so that the Pope may be led to propose the solution which you know I desire, namely, to give the Crown nominally to the infanta ; or else, without specifying any person, he should authorise me in accordance with the contents of the document of the 24th February 1586. It is important that the proposal should come from there and not from me.
There may be a good deal of artifice in the proposal you say the French are making to the Pope, to the effect that we should all join against England, and you did well in the steps you took with Cardinal Carrafa, which would enable you to discover the ground. It will be necessary for you to keep his Holiness well posted in this, so that he shall not think that the desired result can ever be expected from Frenchmen, whose only aim is to make public any secret that may be entrusted to them, and countermine the intentions of his Holiness and myself ; whilst under the pretence of going to England they may patch up a peace prejudicial to our holy Catholic faith in France. You must, at the same time, inform his Holiness that, in order to prevent the closer league and friendship between England and France, which they are so warmly trying to bring about, it will not be bad to make a show of listening to these suggestions for a union between us, which it is said a brother of Cardinal Rambouillet is going to negotiate. Letters about these proposals should be written, but with such caution that, whilst no danger is incurred to us, we may attain the advantage just mentioned. Follow this course, and the same shall be done here, if certain feelers they are now putting out on the same matter through the French ambassador here are persevered in.
It is also possible that the man who is to be sent from France may take care to bring forward the idea they have started there (in France), namely, to marry the king of Scotland to a niece of the Pope on his conversion. (fn. 7)
It will be best for you to take no action personally on this point, but you will make every effort, through trustworthy persons intimate both with his Holiness and yourself, to prevent its being entertained.
You will have representations made to the Pope, showing him how bad it will be in all respects to listen to such a suggestion, and especially in the matter of religion. Point out to him that the responsibility resting upon him would be very great, and that those who are so anxious to saddle him with it would leave him to bear it alone, or would be powerless to help him ; whilst his being mixed up with an affair tending to his private advantage, apart from religion, which is his own province, would alienate many of those who otherwise would aid the enterprise. Other arguments to the same effect will occur to you where there are so many.
With regard to the hat for Allen ; you will ask his Holiness from me to confer it at once, on the ground that now that the queen of Scotland, the hope of the English Catholics, is gone they may despair, unless they see some person to whom they can turn for a remedy in their troubles. This danger may be avoided if they have a countryman of their own in high station near the person of the Pope, and particularly a person whom they know and trust so much as Allen. This will be a good public reason ; but in addition, you will privately tell his Holiness that in the interests of the enterprise it is necessary to come to some understanding with certain persons in England, and it is quite time, indeed more than time, that such preparations were commenced by the elevation in question. This will reinforce the other reasons you will urge, but all appearance that the elevation is made on account of the enterprise must be avoided.—San Lorenzo (?), 21st June 1587.
115. Count De Olivares to the King.
On the 26th his Holiness was in a great rage at table, railing at those who served him and throwing the crockery about furiously, which he is rather in the habit of doing, but not often so violently as this.
It was noticed that this immediately followed an audience he had given to the French ambassador, who had received a despatch from his King on the previous day and sent an answer on the morrow. I had audience the day following, and although I found his Holiness otherwise favourable, he said amongst other things that he was much alarmed at the jealousy that the king of France had begun to entertain of the House of Guise, and hoped it would lead him into no absurdity. He had already raised the embargo he had placed on certain English ships, and from one thing to another he might even go so far as to make common cause with the prince of Bearn. I replied that I had always understood the King's action on these two points to be merely a fiction to cover his complicity in the death of the queen of Scotland, and his small concern at the existence of heresy in his realm, in order to upset the Catholic party. From these two things, and certain words let fall by the French ambassador, it may be inferred confidently that he had told the Pope plainly that unless he came to his aid liberally he would join Vendome to defend himself against the House of Guise.
In the same audience the Pope told me that the ambassador had read him a letter from the King, to the effect that Don Bernardino de Mendoza was going about saying many things which prevented a harmonious understanding being arrived at between him and his subjects ; and that he (Mendoza) said that it was I who wrote these things to him. His Holiness told him not to believe such a thing of me. I replied that when the French ambassador had written from here, and Luxemburg had alleged in France that his Holiness had advised the King to make peace with the heretics, I had written that this was false testimony against the Pope and quite the opposite of his zeal and fervour for the faith, which I begged might be published broadcast. I confessed that I had written thus, and considered that in doing so I had done his Holiness a great service. He said that many other things besides that had been written ; and so the conversation ended, the Pope being somewhat uneasy, which confirms me in my opinion previously expressed that the allegations were not entirely invented.
I have written many things to Don Bernardino which he may turn to account to keep up the spirits of the Catholic princes, but I am not sure whether he does not let them out too freely, and in future I will act through Cardinal Sanzio (fn. 8) to this effect, so that it will be done more secretly.
The Cardinal has given me a copy of the statement of grievances presented to the Queen-Mother by these princes (of the League). A copy was also given to the Pope, but I do not send one to your Majesty, who will have received one before this arrives.—Rome, 30th June 1587.
Paris Archives, K. 1565. 18.
116. Document headed "Advices from England, from Richard
Mirth (Antonio de Vega?), 30 June, 1587, translated from
English to Spanish."
On the 15th instant I received your three letters dated 13th and 25th May, and 8th instant ; and on the 14th I reported the decision that had been adopted on the arrival of the news of Drake's action in Cadiz. This was to send him reinforcements of ships and men ; the earl of Leicester going to Holland and Don Antonio being entertained here, as I fully wrote previously. What I now have to report is that the earl of Leicester leaves to-morrow, 1st July, taking with him 4,000 men, and money for the provision of 3,000 cavalry in Germany. He is hurrying off because news comes that the States are divided.
On the 15th instant there arrived here one of the Queen's ships, which had accompanied Drake as vice-flagship, and the captain of which had fallen out with Drake. The sailors had mutinied and brought the ship to London, where most of them are now in prison. Since then another ship has arrived here, reporting having met Drake on his way to the Azores, 100 leagues further on. They say most of his crews were ill, and many were dying, it is asserted of the plague, in consequence of their having given way to excess in wine and food which they had captured. This has caused the ships I have mentioned to be hurried forward, and they will leave in a fortnight if the wind serves. The earl of Cumberland intends to go with them, although Captain Frobisher is appointed to the command, which he refuses. The squadren will consist of four Queen's ships, including the one that has returned, eight merchantmen, and two pinnaces of 50 tons. They are victualled for five months, and will take 1,500 sailors. It is suspected that some ships will also be obtained from Holland. They are also making ready 10 sail, which they say are to guard the Channel. The squadron I have mentioned will go straight to the islands, and it will be necessary therefore for you to send advice at once, saying how important it is that a fleet should be sent to frustrate this and protect the flotillas from disaster ; because these people aim at getting money to carry on the war without expense to themselves. I approve of what you write, and will report in the way you say, my only wish being to serve as promptly and surely as possible. I will send advices of all that happens, although I fear they may close the ports. It will therefore be best not to write to me often, and then only when some good opportunity offers, until this fury be past. They are not very friendly with the French ambassador, nor do they caress him so much as they say in Paris. With regard to anything being discussed about our master, no fresh negotiations have taken place since M. de Beliévre came with full instructions to act to his prejudice.
Don Antonio saw the Queen on the 23rd instant, and told her he wished to divulge a secret to her. This was, that he had been summoned to go to Portugal, and if she would let him have 2,000 men he had arrangements which, with God's favour, would enable him to land at a certain place where men and money were awaiting him. He was confident that if these 2,000 men were furnished him, under the pretext of sending these reinforcements to Drake, he would produce more effect with them than he could at any other time with 10,000. The Queen dismissed him, saying that she would discuss the matter with the Council and send her reply. When the question was before the Council there was some difference of opinion. Many members thought that the opportunity should not be lost, the present time being favourable ; but, in consequence of news that he had privately received from a merchant, the earl of Leicester said that two Portuguese, who had been secretly sent by Don Antonio to Portugal with the object mentioned, had reported that they could get no one there to listen to them ; so that Don Antonio could have received no such summons as he said, and if the Queen undertook the business it would have to be done with adequate forces. The Queen therefore replied to Don Antonio that he was to wait, and she promised to help him in due time. She desires to keep the matter pending until she sees the outcome of Drake's expedition, and the sending of this squadron to reinforce him, and also the result of the earl of Leicester's going (to Holland). I did not speak to the merchant (Dr. Lopez?) respecting the matter about which you wrote, because it is necessary for me to receive first a letter which I can show him. Pending the sending of this, write to me saying that his service will be welcome, and that he shall be recompensed in accordance therewith, using fair words because he is now in a different station and reputation from formerly. He has means of knowing all that is done, and may be very useful, although I am aware he is what you say, and negligent, but if he has someone to follow him up he will always be of use.
117. Draft of Propositions to be submitted by Count De
Olivares to the Pope.
With regard to the question of the succession his Majesty assumes that his Holiness will already have been informed of the well-known fact that when the queen of Scotland was taken a will was found, in which she left his Majesty heir to the Crown, this being the reason of her death and of the approval of it by the king of France.
Although this will has been concealed by the queen of England, his Majesty has an autograph (fn. 9) letter from the queen of Scotland to Don Bernardino de Mendoza, his ambassador in France, who was formerly in England, dated the 20th May, 1586, (fn. 10) in which she announces her intention of making this disposition in case her son should not be converted to catholicism at the time of her death, as she feared.
Both documents originated in the Queen's having understood the right to the Crown possessed by his Majesty by virtue of his descent from the House of Lancaster, both by the line of Castile and that of Portugal ; his claim being a more valid one than that of any other claimant who could arise, besides the double disqualification of heresy and bastardy under which they all suffer.
To this claim of his Majesty is added the right of conquest in a war whose justice is evident, even if the Queen were not a heretic, which of itself would justify it.
On the other hand, it is represented to his Majesty that, as he cannot go thither to reside, it is highly important, since the country is so over-run with heresy, that a Catholic King or Queen should be on the spot to try to lead it back to perfection again.
In this perplexity his Majesty is anxious to learn the opinion of his Holiness, and receive his good-will and blessing on either of the two courses open. His Majesty begs him not to hesitate to give him his opinion freely, whatever it may be, as, in any case, it will not for a moment occur to his Majesty that it is prompted by any lack of love for him, or by any risk to prevent his aggrandisement, because in the interests of the Holy See itself the King is sure he has every reason to desire it. His Holiness has moreover always shown so much personal affection for the King, that the latter trusts that this also may influence him in his favour. He also begs his Holiness not to think that he will be better pleased to retain the realm in his own hands, as, for many reasons, he would prefer to dispose of it otherwise, and, if the matter extended only to the term of his own life, he would not hesitate for a moment about it. The only scruple which assails him is whether he is justified in depriving the Prince, his son, of a kingdom, which not only has descended to him by right, but for the recovery of which revenues of the Crown of Spain will have been alienated, to a rather greater value than the worth of the acquisition. To this must also be added that the possession of these dominions is of the most vital importance for the maintenance of the States of Flanders in union with the crown of Spain, and also for the preservation of the Spanish Indies.
His Majesty prays his Holiness to consider the question in all its bearings, as his opinion, dictated by prudence and aided by the Holy Spirit, will have great weight with the King, who desires to hold or dispose of that realm (England) for the service of the Apostolic See, and the Catholic faith, with the blessing and approval of his Holiness.—Madrid, June 1587.