Simancas: February 1587

Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 4, 1587-1603. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1899.

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'Simancas: February 1587', in Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 4, 1587-1603, (London, 1899) pp. 13-28. British History Online [accessed 1 March 2024]

February 1587

7 Feb.
Paris Archives, K. 1566. 43.
15. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
In my last I reported the arrival of Belièvre from England. In order to gain time he requested the resident French ambassador to send after him the Queen's letters to this King. He sent them by a French gentleman named Trapes, who, with a companion, was arrested at Dover, and the despatches taken from him. (fn. 1) The Queen at once sent a courier to her ambassador here, with a letter written in her own hand. This courier arrived on the 27th ultimo, and the substance of the letter was to order him, the ambassador, as a good subject and servant, instantly to request audience of the King, and inform him that she had ordered the arrest of the gentleman from the French ambassador, and the opening of his despatches, and to beg the King not to take it in evil part until he received fresh advices from her, giving him reasons for her action, which he (the King) would acknowledge were a sufficient justification. When the ambassador received this letter, and information that the English ports were closed, he sent to Secretary Villeroy, the King being absent, and told him the reason why he desired audience. Villeroy was much put out about the despatches having been opened, and warned him that the King would be very angry. In the hope that some news might be received from the French ambassador, Stafford's audience was put off, and he could do nothing. On the 4th instant Waad (who was the man the Queen sent to your Majesty) arrived here as an envoy from the Queen, to inform the King of the reasons for the arrests. A brother of the English ambassador here and a son of the Queen's mistress of the robes (neither of whom, however, have spoken to him for years owing to his bad conduct) pretended to be a Catholic, and frequented the house of the French ambassador with whom he was on close terms of intimacy. It appears that he signified to the ambassador his intention of killing the Queen on religious grounds, and in order that the queen of Scotland might ascend the throne. He proposed to place barrels of gunpowder inside his mother's apartment, which is underneath the Queen's bedroom, and she could thus be blown up. The ambassador discussed the matter with him, and pointed out the objections to its execution, particularly that he could not do it without killing his mother, as she and the Queen both slept in the same room. To this Stafford replied that, as he did not approve of this plan, he would kill her (the Queen) by stabbing. He told this to Trapes, who is in prison, and also to one Moody, an Englishman, who was an intimate in the French ambassador's house, and informed them that he had discussed the matter with the ambassador. A few days afterwards Stafford himself divulged to the Queen what had taken place, and he, with Trapes and Moody, were arrested. Their confessions were taken and were found to agree, and the Lord Treasurer, with the earl of Leicester and Lord Hunsdon, were sent to speak to the French ambassador. The latter frankly admitted that Stafford had told him his project, and the Queen sent Waad to complain to the King of the ambassador in consequence. She writes by him also to the ambassador (Stafford) saying that, although she does not doubt his loyalty and innocence in the matter, yet, as the delinquent is his brother, she thinks better that the communication respecting it should be undertaken by another envoy, who would give him a full account of it, and be accompanied by him in his audiences. He will not get an interview with the King until after the carnival.
I understand that the Queen says that the packet sent by the ambassador was not opened ; but that Waad brings it intact that the King may have it opened in his presence, and after taking those addressed to him, hand to Waad the letters directed to private persons here, which the Queen knows are contained in the packet.
Waad says that the talk in England is that, although I was there for six years, the Queen could never bring home any plot to me, but only suspicions, whilst the French ambassador was discovered in the first one in which he was concerned. He, the French ambassador, has sent his secretary, without a letter, to give the King a verbal account of events. I am told that on Villeroy's excusing to the King the conduct of the ambassador, who is his brother-in-law, he replied that he had not behaved well, because, not only had he made a confidant of such a man (as Stafford), but had actually admitted that he had been informed of the design.
As soon as Parliament learnt of the matter the members went to the Queen, and said that whilst the queen of Scotland lived she would never be free from such conspiracies, and, consequently, she ought to order her execution. They protested that if she did not do so, they would revoke the votes for supplies they had given.
The queen of Scotland is still at Fotheringay, and no one is allowed to speak to her except in the presence of Paulet, who has returned to his charge, and another man who is with him. They have allowed her servants to return to her, except her secretaries.
Belièvre asked the Queen to show him the original will, closed, that the queen of Scotland had written in her own hand, declaring your Majesty her heir, in case her son should remain a Protestant. She replied that she considered the queen of Scotland to be such a bad female that she was sure she had managed somehow to get it conveyed to your Majesty ; which was only an answer intended to prevent your Majesty's claim from being strengthened by the production of such a document. I am told from a trustworthy source that when the queen of England had the will in her hand, Cecil told her that, all things considered, it was not advisable to preserve the paper, but that she, herself, should burn it, which she did.
I send your Majesty enclosed a copy of the speech which Belièvre delivered to the queen of England in defence of the queen of Scotland. Many people consider it to be less weighty than the subject demanded, and not to deserve publication. It is valuable, as showing in the preamble their real feelings towards your Majesty, saying that they look upon the enemies of the queen of England as their common enemies. (fn. 2)
Letters from England of 28th ultimo report that Drake continued his preparations, on the pretext that Don Antonio was going in the ships.
Since closing the above, I have learnt from a good source that the ships being fitted in London for Drake and others cannot be ready to sail to the west country within a month, and that they are very short of sailors. Altogether, with Drake and the merchants, they are arming 30 ships. To these they expect to add the 30 from the Netherlands, so that Don Antonio is to have 60 vessels altogether. —Paris, 7th February 1587.
10 Feb.
Paris Archives, K. 1566. 45.
16. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
Reports the surrender of Deventer to the Spaniards by Colonel Stanley. There is no positive confirmation of this, but knowing Stanley personally as he does, he is sure that the warning which he, Mendoza, advised the Duke of Parma to address to him (fn. 3) (see Letter 532, Vol. III.) would be effectual ; and consequently he has no doubt of the truth of the surrender.
11 Feb.
Estado, 949.
17. The King to Count De Olivares.
You will cautiously approach his Holiness, and in such terms as you think fit endeavour to obtain from him a secret brief declaring that, failing the queen of Scotland, the right to the English crown falls to me. My claim, as you are aware, rests upon my descent from the House of Lancaster, and upon the will made by the queen of Scotland, and mentioned in a letter from her, of which the copy is enclosed herewith. You will impress upon his Holiness that I cannot undertake a war in England for the purpose merely of placing upon that throne a young heretic like the king of Scotland who, indeed, is by his heresy incapacitated to succeed. His Holiness must, however, be assured that I have no intention of adding England to my own dominions, but to settle the crown upon my daughter, the Infanta.—Madrid, 11th February 1587.
12 Feb.
Paris Archives, K. 1566. 46.
18. Document headed :—"Advices from London, 12th February 1587, translated from English to Spanish."
The deputies from the States arrived here on the 28th January to beg for a decision. They have become more urgent now that the surrender of Deventer and the fortress of Zutphen is known. They are talking here of Lord North's being sent thither instead of Leicester, and on the 10th instant a proclamation was made that any soldiers or officers who had come back from Flanders were to return thither in four days, on pain of death for disobedience. The deputies have asked for an immediate decision, as they heard the Queen was trying to come to terms with his Majesty, and they would wait no longer. In order to give herself more time and keep them in hand, whilst she arranged with his Majesty, the Queen sent Lord Buckhurst to Holland and Zeeland to assure them that she had no such desire ; and to treat with them and certain of the towns on some conditions which are in doubt, which conditions had already been conceded to the deputies here. The object of Buckhurst's mission is simply to procrastinate and delay. The deputies are accompanied by a man whom the earl of Leicester sent to the king of Denmark to learn whether he was trying to bring about an agreement between the States and his Majesty.
The Scots ambassadors left here three days ago, and on their taking leave they told the Queen, as their master's decision, that as the queen of Scotland was his mother, he would endeavour to exact satisfaction from any person who assailed her honour or her safety ; and with that object would appeal for help to all Christian monarchs. The Queen was ill pleased with this message, and in conversation with one of the ambassadors named Master Melvin, (fn. 4) she told him that if she had a councillor who gave her such advice as he (Melvin) gave the king of Scotland, she would have his head off ; to which he replied that if he were her councillor he would rather lose his head than fail to give her such advice. This arose out of the Queen's having been told that Melvin had advised the king of Scotland to break with her, and had assured him that he would have the support of all princes in so just a cause as his. The Queen has sent a gentleman of hers to the king of Scotland.
On the 3rd instant orders were given for the sailing from here of 10 of the Queen's ships and two pinnaces, to cruise in the Channel, and for the equipping of 20 more vessels, which is being done in all haste. They are to be ready during this month. The 10 ships before mentioned have not left yet.
Feb. 14.
Paris Archives, K. 1566. 58.
19. Sampson's Advices from England.
Leiton writes to Don Antonio's people under date of 14th, that the country opposite Calais was up in arms and the beacons had been lit in consequence of certain hulks having been sighted in formation. The earl of Pembroke, governor of the province, mustered 20,000 men, but it turned out a false alarm. This shows the fright the English are in. Orders have been proclaimed by heralds, for all colonels, captains, and soldiers to return to Flanders under pain of death for disobedience, and fresh levies are being raised. They say that Leicester is going back with lord Grey and two other personages.
No answer has been given to the deputies from the Netherlands, but they are expecting it daily.
Don Antonio is very short of money and overburdened with debt. Rogier, the King's valet de chambre, has returned from England, very much displeased with the queen of England and her behaviour.
Feb. 26. Don Antonio's agent has presented a letter to the duke de Joyeuse asking him to keep him in the good graces of the king of France. A great fleet is fitting out (in England) which is to be commanded by the Lord Admiral. They do not mention the destination or when it will sail, but as they know that his Majesty's armada is intended for England, they say that the English are determined to go out and fight it at sea.
No decision has yet been taken about Don Antonio, as they wish to settle with the deputies from the States first. Don Antonio is deeply in debt and is seeking money. The English are putting him off with words. The English ambassador tells Don Antonio's agent here (i.e., in Paris) that the Queen is dissatisfied with M. de Chateauneuf and is asking this King to recall him ; to which his Majesty will not listen. When the Queen was asked in the name of this King to liberate the lawyer de Trapes, whom they arrested when they seized the King's despatches, she said she would not do so except in exchange for Thomas Morgan who is in the Bastile here, and even then she would be doing a great favour to the King, in exchanging a Frenchman who had conspired against her life, for one of her rebel subjects whom the King was bound to surrender in any case.
The Queen was raving about the seizures in France, saying that although she was a woman and her profession was to try to preserve peace with neighbouring princes, yet if they attacked her they would find that in war she could be better than a man. Don Antonio was starving, and although they say that the fleet is to take him to Portugal, it is nothing of the sort ; and if Don Antonio could escape from England he would do so. He has 150 persons in his house, all in great need.
Money is very short in England and the Queen's needs are pressing. If the States do not help her she will be pinched. Drake is not in such high favour as he was, and they will not trust him with another fleet, as the last one he took to the Indies did no great things. It is understood that they will not give him any other command, except over seafaring men. An arrangement between the Queen and your Majesty was being strongly advocated, so that she and her subjects may not have to give up everything your Majesty may demand in retribution for the losses brought by them upon your subjects. Don Antonio hears all this and is much grieved, being constantly unwell. The English Ambassador and Waad told Don Antonio's man here that the Queen had agreed with 18 English merchants, to whom she had granted license to make war upon your Majesty and your subjects in any way they pleased. These ships, in company with some belonging to the Queen, would shortly sail for the Straits of Gibraltar and there await the arrival of the galleons from Italy with the munitions for the fleet. The Queen had summoned Parliament about these seizures in France, and all had offered their lives and property in aid of their rights.
The Queen tells Don Antonio that she had not been able to decide about his affair, owing to the events that have happened to the queen of Scotland. She puts him off from week to week. Don Antonio had not received his Christmas quarter's payment, until he could see how the Queen was going to treat him. The quarter's allowance is only 2,000 crowns and he owes 15,000 in England.
Feb. 28. Custodio Leiton writes that the Queen counted upon her subjects arming 200 ships, not against France, for there was no thought of war against that country, but to defend England against Castile if she be assailed as they feared. There are 52,000 parishes in England and each one offers to maintain a man in the war ; and in each place (sic) a ship of 200 tons ready for sea and fully victualled. They are preparing as best they may all things needful for their defence.
Feb. 18.
Paris Archives, K. 1566. 49.
20. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
On the day I last wrote to your Majesty about England, the 7th instant, I learnt that this King had dispatched 18 couriers to every port in the realm, with orders to arrest all English ships. It was proposed in council that Waad, the English envoy, should not be heard as was sent by the Queen to complain of the French ambassador ; and your Majesty had refused to receive him when he went to Spain, to explain my expulsion from England. Advice of this should at once have been sent to your Majesty, but as things change so rapidly here, I thought well to wait. I also wished to see whether the seizure of the English ships simply meant their detention or confiscation ; and the day following orders were despatched that they were only to be detained. As for Waad, audience was granted him at once with the ordinary ambassador, and after listening to his complaints and seeing his evidence against the French ambassador, the King replied that he could not believe the allegations, as they were so entirely in opposition to the ambassador's letters, and that, clever as the English were generally, they did not show much cleverness in this matter. This is the only answer given hitherto, as the King is awaiting the return from England of two of his valets-de-chambre whom he has sent to his ambassador. Waad, in the Queen's name, demands the withdrawal of Chateauneuf (fn. 5) and it is understood that the King is determined not to accede to this request. Villeroy says that if the Queen wishes to break off negotiations with them they will withdraw their embassy altogether, Chateauneuf being a brother-in-law of Villeroy. All the ministers have urged the King that his reputation is at stake, and that he must retain Chateauneuf there and not withdraw him at the request of the Englishwoman.
It is asserted here that Chateauneuf is under arrest in his own house, and I hear that Stafford explains this by saying that as the king of France fearing that some attack might be made upon the ambassador by the people, after the matter was cleared up, he (Chateauneuf) sent to ask Hatton, the captain of the Queen's Guard, to send some halberdiers to guard him. Hatton replied that the subjects of the Queen were so obedient that the step would be unnecessary ; but to avoid any inconvenience the ambassador and his household had better keep indoors for a few days. The English ambassador here says this was not a command but only a piece of advice.
The Queen had decided to send to this King by Waad the packet seized from the French ambassador ; but she altered her mind and had it opened, the letters for the King being returned to Chateauneuf intact, and the rest of the contents being examined. When this was known here they had the packets from the English ambassador treated in the same way in Calais and Dieppe, all his private letters being taken. The passage is thus closed until they see whether the queen of England will allow free passage to those sent thither by this King. This is the present position, but considering the gentleness with which they are proceeding on both sides, there is not much appearance of the matter becoming serious.
Belièvre assures this King that the queen of England is very anxious to make friends with your Majesty, and she was very suspicious of Scotland ; having heard that the King had sent a man to your Majesty. News comes also from the French King's agent in the Netherlands that persons are secretly treating with the Duke of Parma for an agreement with the queen of England.
I hear that Drake's and other preparations are going on at the usual pace, and no order had yet been given on the 3rd instant for the raising of the seamen and troops who were to go with them. Leicester was pressing the Queen to despatch the 30 English ships and 30 Netherlanders with Don Antonio to occupy the islands, and other parts of your Majesty's dominions, as otherwise, he says, your Majesty would come to England with the armada you were fitting out. Deputies from the rebel States were expected in England to treat of this matter.
I send herewith a new statement given to the Queen by Drake and Hawkins for the instruction of the ships which she might send to assail your Majesty's territories.
The Scots ambassadors had audience of the Queen but there was not so much defiance as was asserted here. The Queen has not yet dismissed them.
Lord Buckhurst had been sent by the Queen to Holland and she publicly told him when he left to bring back to her a true and sincere account of the condition of things in that province, without contemporising with, or considering, any thing but her interests. In addition to this it was believed that Lord Buckhurst was sent to keep the rebels in hand with hopes, and prevent them from pressing the Queen, as they have done, to assume the sovereignty of the Netherlands. He is also to see whether the 30 vessels promised by the provinces to accompany the English expedition were so well armed and found as Leicester asserts. I have just received news that deputies have arrived in England from Holland to say that if the Queen do not fulfil her undertaking to maintain an army there, they will come to terms with your Majesty. The Scots ambassadors had left, ill pleased with the Queen. 18th February, 1587.
Feb. 7
Paris Archives, K. 1566. 10.
21. Document headed "Translation of a statement furnished to the Queen of England by Francis Drake and John Hawkins as to undertaking a voyage entirely to ruin the Spaniards."
All the ships of Spain may be taken every year by 12 ships of war. Every year there come from various places to Durses Bohore harbour, which the English call Baltimore, ships to the number of 50 sail to fish. The capture of these would be worth a great deal, as they would be full of good fish, salt meat, Cordovan leather and tallow ; so that a hundred ton ship will be worth 2,000l. English.
At the beginning of September, or any time from then to February, go to Cabo Blanco on the coast of Africa, north of Cabo Verde, where you will meet a large number of Spaniards, and you can catch them as best you may, thus furnishing yourself with victuals. From there you will go to the Western isles, coasting around them and dismantling all their (i.e., the Spaniards') ships, and taking away their sails. To do this you must have six good small brigantines with sails and sweeps. You will pass the ports of Cartagena, Nombre de Dios, the Honduras or Bay of Mexico, and arrive at the island of St. John de Lua (Ulloa) opposite Vera Cruz in February, when all the Mexican ships are on the beach, and you can take them easily ; or else you may sight Cape St. Antonio to the west of Cuba towards Yucatan, as their ships always sight that Cape on their way to Havana from March to May, as do all those from Cartagena, Nombre de Dios, and the Honduras. You may leave the Indies from June to the middle of August, and go to Newfoundland where you may get victuals, and capture a great number of Spaniards, Biscayners and others.
From there go to the great Bay, where you may take very many Biscayners who fish there. By calculating the times and places set forth above, you may capture so many ships and Spaniards that they will not recover the loss for years if you take care to deprive them of their sails.
It is very dangerous to go to the West Indies by Cabo Blanco, Cabo Vera Cruz, and the Isles of Cabo Verde before September, owing to the hurricanes and heavy sea.
It is necessary also to pass the Gulf of Florida at the very latest in July, as the hurricanes are heavy there in August.
If you come by way of Spain and Cabaye (sic) in Ireland, you will find after Michaelmas many ships from France there loaded with wine, and with a great deal of money on board, as they will have sold their linens. These ships return from Cabaye (Galway?) loaded with hides and tallow, which are forbidden goods.
For a voyage to the West Indies the following things are necessary,—
1st.—You must begin your voyage so as to be at the Canaries at the beginning of September, before the bad weather sets in.
Then you go to Cabo Blanco where you may store your ships with wine, oil, bread, and fish, bought from Spaniards and Portuguese.
Then to Cabo Verde, where you will find plenty of French ships, some of which perhaps may accompany you.
Thence to the Cape de Verde islands where you will get fresh water, goats, dried meat and rice ; and it will be worth while also to take as many negroes from there as possible, to barter in the Indies.
Thence you may sail to Trinidad, 10 degrees north latitude, where you will again get fresh water and provisions.
From there you go to Margarita where you may provide yourself with a quantity of pearls and silver, and then go to the waters of Burdoro, where you can visit those who are at the entrance of Valentina Nova, 23 miles on the other side of the mountains. This is a very rich town and may be assailed with 200 soldiers. You may keep your ships there and return with your brigantines to Cratus, 20 miles from Burdoro, where you will find two towns, one on the seashore, and another two leagues inland. They are very rich and you may sack them both with 200 men.
You will take your ships from Cratus to the waters of Burdoro and thence to Curisau (Curaçao) where there are usually a quantity of ships ; but there are very many warlike Indians in this island. You can take the place by force, however, with 150 men.
From thence you go to Ruba, where you may take fresh water and provisions, as there is a great abundance of beans, casena (cassava?) and hides. You may master the island with 80 men.
Then you go to Corrus (Coro), which is a very rich town 20 leagues from the waters of Burdoro towards Cartagena. The town may be sacked with 200 men.
Your next place will be Cabo de la Vela where the Spaniards fish for pearls in October, November, December and June (January?).
From there you go to Rio de la Hacha where you will find the treasurers, who would be good prisoners ; you must do everything here by force of arms.
Then to Santa Marta which must be dealt with like Rio de la Hacha. This town is very rich in gold, and there are very few Spaniards, so it may be sacked by 40 men.
You will then with your own boats go up the River Grande, and six leagues from the mouth there is a treasure-house full of riches which may be sacked by 40 harquebussiers.
Thence to Cartagena where there are 200 Spanish houses. The town is walled towards the water, and has a great quantity of artillery on the same side, of which I (i.e., Drake) brought a part. It is one of the richest towns of the West Indies, and you must depend more upon cunning than strength to take it.
Thence to Felove, a very rich town, which may be easily sacked with 100 men.
Thence to Nombre de Dios where with 500 landed you may sack the town at your pleasure. But the best way is not to let them see your ships, but so arrange as to arrive an hour before dawn at the place where they have their artillery, and you may capture Spaniards and negroes, who, if properly examined, will confess where the riches of the town are, and will guide you to their river galleys.
You may then go in them to Parana (Panama) in the southern sea, where, if you land 800 men and leave your ships well armed, you can sack Pearl island, where you will doubtless find incalculable riches.
Thence you may go to the River Chagres, 18 leagues from Nombre de Dies, towards Yucatan, and about 10 leagues up the river you will find a depôt for the Rorea whence they bring their merchandise overland to Nombre de Dios. There is a guard of 50 Spanish soldiers here.
Thence to the Honduras, and afterwards to Tressia, where there are 50 soldiers and 100 households.
From thence to Porto Caballo where there are two large ships, but you may sack and capture them with 200 men, and the house up the river as well.
(Here follows a description of the various islands and towns in the West Indies, their defences, population, resources, etc.)
In order to rob the Portuguese flotillas coming from Calicut, you can sail in September, October, or November, and go to an island called St. Helena, which is an African island in the ocean at latitude 6 S., 400 leagues from the mainland. The Portuguese stay here on their return voyage, and as they are tired with their long voyage they may easily be robbed.
Note by John Hawkins and Francis Drake.
At the end of June with an easterly wind you may run across from Bahama to Cabo San Antonio. If the westerly wind is blowing you can go by St. Juan de Porto Rico to a port called St. Germans at the west end of the island, where you can wait till July or August, and then sail home ; but you must be careful to coast along the south coast of the island until you are inside Saint Domingo.
You may see the Port of Jamaica from there without going out of your course, and may run thence to San Antonio, Cuba, Havana, and so to Spain. This is the only course for a fortunate and prosperous voyage.
If your Majesty will give me permission to do this I will put my life in peril from the enemy, and will pledge myself in all my property and that of my friends to your Majesty, as a gage that I will conduct the expedition to a very fortunate issue, with the aid above-mentioned ; and I therefore humbly pray that my zeal for the welfare of my country may be accepted in good part. I beg that your Majesty may be pleased to order me to make preparations for this voyage now that the fine weather is approaching and the state of affairs demand it.—Unsigned.
18 Feb.
Paris Archives, K. 1566. 48.
22. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
Confirms the surrender of Deventer. Congratulates himself upon his knowledge of Colonel Stanley's character, and the advice he (Mendoza) gave as to his being approached on the subject.
When Walter Raleigh, the Queen's favourite, heard of the arrest of Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa, he was so anxious for his release that he sent two of his gentlemen here with letters from the Queen to Bearn. The letters are very pressing, and say that although it may appear as if this were a matter which interests Walter Raleigh only, it really concerns her, and she is anxious that Sarmiento should instantly proceed to Spain. She prays Bearn to have him set at liberty. Raleigh told these two gentlemen to come to me, and assure me how earnestly he was endeavouring to get Sarmiento released. As they (Raleigh's envoys) arrived here during the time of this dispute between the French and English, the ambassador has detained them here for some days, and consequently they found themselves short of money. They brought me a letter from a Portuguese merchant in London called Bernardo Luis, (fn. 6) saying that he had told Raleigh that I would let them have a letter of credit for 100 crowns if they wanted funds for their journey, as Walter Raleigh, not being friendly with the English ambassador here, he did not wish them to appeal to him. I told the gentlemen that the merchant had acted very foolishly in saying such a thing, and I should be equally foolish if I gave them money on an order from him, or supplied funds to people who brought letters from the queen of England whilst she was at war with your Majesty ; but, I said, if Raleigh himself, or any person belonging to him, asked me for anything from my own purse, I would give it to him out of consideration for his courtesy about Sarmiento. They replied that what they asked of me was to lend them 100 crowns in Raleigh's name for the expenses for their voyage, and the moment their letters arrived in England an order for repayment of the sum to me here would be sent. They offered me an undertaking to this effect, which I took, and gave them the money, as I thought it wise in every respect to reciprocate Raleigh's action, and acknowledge his courtesy in trying to get Sarmiento released.
The Scots ambassador has handed to me the letter I now enclose from the king of Scotland, and has asked me to supplicate your Majesty, so far as justice will allow, to despatch the Scotsman for whom the King intercedes and whose name is Gilbert Lomb, who the ambassador assures me is a Catholic, and has been a member of his own household. (fn. 7) *—Paris, 18th February 1587.
18 Feb.
Paris Archives, K. 1566. 50.
23. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
I write in the general letter about Raleigh's efforts to get Sarmiento released ; and am assured now that he is very cold about these naval preparations, and is secretly trying to dissuade the Queen from them. He is much more desirous of sending to Spain his own two ships for sale, than to use them for robbery. To confirm him in his good tendency I came to the help of his two gentlemen who asked for some money under the circumstances related in the other letter. This will give him hopes that your Majesty will accept his services, and will cause him to continue to oppose Don Antonio, who is upheld by the earl of Leicester. (fn. 8)
I enclose copy of the duke of Parma's reply to me about Scotland. He also tells me that I am to say to M. de Trielle and Hugh Frion. (fn. 9) that your Majesty will pardon and employ them. As soon as the road is opened to England I will send Hugh Frion thither and the other man to Holland to see what ships are being equipped.— Paris, 18th February 1587.
18 Feb.
Paris Archives, K. 1566. 51.
24. Bernardino De Mendoza to Secretary Idiaquez.
He continues in constant ill health.
From the news contained in my letter to the King, about the way in which the king of France is behaving towards the Englishwoman, it might be thought that they would fall out in real earnest, but I can assure you nothing is further from their thoughts.
Pray let me have my credits without delay as these Englishmen are needy, and are constantly pestering me for their money ; and I cannot go on for months without my own salary. Do not forget to send me the money for my English supplementary accounts.
I forgot to tell his Majesty that they are saying here that the queen of England is trying to come to terms with his Majesty through the grand duke of Florence and others.
This King (of France) has done nothing but dance and masquerade during this carnival without cessation. The last night he danced till broad daylight, and after he had heard mass, went to bed until night. He then went to his Capuchin Monastery (fn. 10) where he is, refusing to speak or see anyone. His carnival madness was, it would seem, the greater, in order that he might be able to accentuate his asceticism afterwards.—Paris, 18th February 1587.
27 Feb.
Paris Archives, K. 1566. 55.
25. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
The steward of the French ambassador in England has brought letters from there dated 18th instant. He reports that the Queen refuses to receive the ambassador, although he had requested audience to deliver the message taken by the King's valets. This King, therefore, refuses audience to the English ambassador, and Waad, who is here and has pressed for an interview.
This steward affirms that Drake continues his naval preparations, and as the ports are closely guarded, the steward alone was allowed to leave with a special passport.
The Queen was sending the earl of Cumberland and Hatton, (fn. 11) the captain of her guard, as an embassy to the king of Scotland.—Paris, 27th February 1587.
28 Feb.
Paris Archives, K. 1448. 105.
26. The King to Bernardino De Mendoza.
The new correspondent whom you have obtained (fn. 12) to keep you informed on English affairs is very appropriate. You may thank the intermediary (fn. 13) from me and urge him to continue in his good service. Give the other one the 2,000 crowns, or the jewel you suggest of similar value, although it may be more secret and he may prefer that it should be given in money, through the same intermediary.
If the correspondent does not know that the news passes through your hands, you can arrange with the intermediary what is to be said to him as to the course he has adopted for sending it. You will manage it as you think best, and say you doubt not that the reward will be commensurate with the service. This will encourage them to do their best.
The news of the English armaments you received through this source will by this time have been supplemented by information as to their continuance. I am hourly hoping for this intelligence. Pray be careful to send me all you can learn about this.
As it cannot be believed that Belièvre's visit to England was only for the purpose given out, you will try by the above means, and others, to discover what was done, if anything, with all the particulars you can obtain. I have not forgotten the Scotch affair, or about Brille, of which you remind me, but as I have already written to you on those points, I need say no more.
The steps you took through Raleigh's nephew to obtain Pedro Sarmiento's release were very wise. Raleigh's action in this matter will be an indication of what may be expected of him in future, and as you have opened the road with the nephew, do not neglect when he returns to accept the offer his uncle made to Pedro de Sarmiento, with regard to preventing armaments in England and counteracting the designs of Don Antonio. Assure him that his aid will be very highly esteemed and adequately rewarded.—Madrid, 28th February 1587.
28 Feb.
Paris Archives, K. 1566. 57.
27. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
The English ambassador received a dispatch last night, dated London 22nd ; and as no English boat would take the courier from Dover or Rye, they being liable to seizure as soon as they arrived in France, he had to wait until he could get a French fishing smack. He says that on the 22nd the Queen was to give audience to Chateauneuf and the King's valets de chambre who had gone from their master with letters.
Don Antonio was at Court with the Queen, and the ships which he was to take out were being equipped, the common talk being that it would be a fleet of 12,000 men. The English ambassador is begging most earnestly for a speedy audience. If I can learn what passes therein I will report to your Majesty.—Paris, 28th February 1587.
28 Feb.
Paris Archives, K. 1566. 56.
28. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
The English ambassador sent the confidant (i.e., Charles Arundel) to me this morning to say that as it was so important that your Majesty should be informed instantly of the news he had received last night from England, that he sent to tell me of it, and openly to confess me his anxiety to serve your Majesty. He offered himself entirely through me, in the assurance that your Majesty would not order him to do anything against the interest of his mistress the Queen, who however, he could plainly see, had not long to live now that she had allowed the execution of the queen of Scotland. It happened in this way. The Lord Treasurer being absent through illness, the earl of Leicester, Lord Hunsdon, Lord Admiral Howard and Walsingham, had represented to the Queen that the Parliament would resolutely refuse to vote any money to maintain the war in Holland, or to fit out a naval force to help Don Antonio, unless she executed the queen of Scotland. Under this pressure she consented to sign a warrant, as they called it, that the Parliament might see, but which was not to be executed, unless it were proved that the Queen of Scotland conspired again against her life. As Secretary Walsingham was ill this warrant was taken to the Queen for her signature by Davison, and after she had signed it she ordered him not to give it to anyone unless she gave him personally her authority to do so. Davison, who is a terrible heretic and an enemy of the queen of Scotland, like the rest of the above-mentioned, delivered the warrant to them. (fn. 14) They took a London executioner and sent him with the warrant to the justice of the county where the queen of Scotland was. The moment the justice received it, on the 18th, he entered the queen of Scotland's chamber with Paulet and Lord Grey, who had charge of her, and there they had her head cut off with a hatchet in the presence of the four persons only. The Queen orders her ambassador to inform this King of it, and assure him, as she will more fully by a special envoy, that the deed was done against her will, and although she had signed the warrant she had no intention of having it carried out. She cannot avoid blaming herself for having trusted anyone but herself in such a matter. The ambassador is begging earnestly for an audience and is keeping the matter secret until he tells the King. In order that no time may be lost in informing your Majesty, I send this special courier in the name of merchants, by way of Bordeaux, whence he will go post to Irun ; and as God has so willed that these accursed people, for His ends, should fall into "reprobrium sensum," and against all reason commit such an act as this, it is evidently His design to deliver those two kingdoms into your Majesty's hands. I thanked the ambassador in general terms for his offer, saying that I would give an account thereof to your Majesty. As I have formerly said, it will be most advisable to accept it, and pledge him to give us notice of any machinations here and in England against us. He reports that the fitting out of ships continues but in no greater number than he previously advised, although the rumour is current here that there would be 60 English, besides the Hollanders, but that the crews, etc. were not raised and no time fixed for the departure. The ambassador says he will have full information on the point when a gentleman of his has arrived whom he had sent to England to gain intelligence, as Cecil only writes now to say that the execution of the queen of Scotland has been against his will, as he, the ambassador knew ; and that the King, her son, was in great danger of suffering a similar fate. The execution was known in London on the 20th when the executioner returned, and great bonfires had been lit for joy all over the countryside. They did not even give her time to commend her soul to God. (fn. 15)
The Scottish gentleman (i.e., Robert Bruce) who went to your Majesty and whom you sent to Muzio (i.e., the Duke of Guise), and afterwards to the duke of Parma, has returned to Paris and found letters awaiting him from Scotland, in which the Scots lords tell him to ascertain, in any case, whether your Majesty will help them or not, and that he is to go back for certain with an answer next April, as they say it is impossible for them to wait or hold aloof any longer than that.
This King (of France) has written offering his warm friendship to the king of Scotland, out of fear that he may come to terms with your Majesty, seeing the position he is in towards the Englishwoman. This fear will be greatly increased when he (the king of France) learns of the death of the queen of Scotland. I told Bruce what the duke of Parma had written for communication, that in great affairs like this decisions could not be adopted in a moment, especially respecting such distant places. I humbly beg your Majesty to instruct me what I am to say to him and how I am to treat the English ambassador.—Paris, 28th February 1887.
Paris Archives, K. 1566. 40.
29. Duke Of Parma to Bernardino De Mendoza.
Whilst I was considering what answer I should send you about Scotland, the gentleman (i.e., Bruce) arrived here and was able to give me such minute information, altogether so different from that furnished previously, in writing, as fully satisfied me, and I decided to tell him that I entirely approved of his Majesty aiding them as they desired in so just and righteous a cause. I said I would write to him to that effect, and he (Bruce) might convey my message to the gentlemen concerned, in order that they might stand firm and gather courage to execute so godly a resolution as theirs whilst my report might reach Spain and the necessary measures were taken to afford them effectual support in so arduous and important an enterprise. Bruce displayed satisfaction at this, and departed to go to the duke of Guise, in order to discuss with him the next steps to be adopted in the promotion of the project. I inform you of this as he will address himself to you in future, and I wish you also to advise his Majesty. I gave the reply I did as it will afford time to write to his Majesty and receive the order he considers best for his service.


  • 1. The arrest of Destrappes arose as follows : William Stafford, the brother of the English ambassador in France, sent to Chateauneuf, the French ambassador in London, and told him that a prisoner for debt named Moody had a communication of importance to make to the ambassador in the interest of the life of the queen of Scots. Chateauneuf sent Destrappes, one of his secretaries, to Newgate to hear what Moody had to say, and on his arrival there the emissary was met with a proposal by the prisoner, in the presence of Stafford, for the assassination of Elizabeth. The offer was at once rejected by Destrappes, and Stafford was forbidden to enter the embassy. Stafford then tried to blackmail the ambassador without success, and subsequently accused him of complicity in a plot to murder the Queen. An attempt to get Destrappes out of the country failed as stated in this letter.
  • 2. A summary of the speech will be found on page 690, Vol. III. of this Calendar. Another short summary is printed by Mignet, in "Marie Stuart."
  • 3. The King has written against this "He ought to have put what it was. I do not recollect."
  • 4. Sir Robert Melvil. There is no doubt that any honest attempt on the part of the ambassadors to save Mary's life came from Melvil, who apparently was not connected with the Master of Grey's double dealing, or the treachery of Archibald Douglas.
  • 5. In the King's hand—"This must be the ambassador." It was so of course.
  • 6. This was the brother of Montesiros, who had offered to kill Don Antonio.
  • 7. The King has written in the margin against this "I do not know whether this the man we were talking about to-day. If not, tell me who he is." See Vol. III. of this Calendar, page 690.
  • 8. The real reason for Raleigh's persistent opposition to the Portuguese plans, and attacks upon Spain generally, should probably be sought in his deadly hatred of Essex, who was the principal promoter of them.
  • 9. Two Flemings who had offered to spy upon their countrymen and the English for Philip and to betray Cambrai. See Vol. III., page 642.
  • 10. This favourite retreat of Henry III. stood adjoining the garden of the Tuilleries, near the site of the present Rue Castiglione. Another monastery of reformed Bernardins was adjacent to it.
  • 11. The envoy she really sent Robert Cary, son of her cousin, Lord Hunsdon.
  • 12. Sir Edward Stafford.
  • 13. Charles Arundell.
  • 14. Davison's explanation of this transaction and the defence at his trial will be found in Sir Harris Nicolas' "Life of William Davison." There can be but little doubt that Davison was deliberately tricked into the position of a scapegoat in order to relieve the Queen of the odium of having executed Mary. The above letter is interesting as showing that Stafford had even thus early received instructions to make public the Queen's version of the affair. A curious memorandum in the Hatfield Papers, Vol. III., p. 223, dated 17th February, sets forth, in Burleigh's handwriting, "The state of the cause as it ought to be conceived and reported concerning the execution done upon the Queen of Scots" ; which agrees in the main with Stafford's representation to Mendoza.
  • 15. This was not the case. A very full contemporary account of the execution will be found in Jebb's book called "De vita et rebus gestis serenissimæ principis Mariæ Scotorum reginæ," Paris 1589.