Simancas: August 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: August 1587', in Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 4, 1587-1603, (London, 1899) pp. 131-133. British History Online [accessed 29 February 2024]

August 1587

5 Aug.
Paris Archives, K. 1565. 38.
135. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
In answer to your Majesty's instructions, that I should report the present position with regard to the negotiations between England and France touching the seizures, no details have yet been dealt with, the embargoes having been raised conditionally ; both the aggrieved parties being left to proceed in separate cases of robbery. Some time since some Havre ships captured two English vessels on the ground of piracy, and the English ambassador has complained to the King about it, assuring him that they were not pirates but merchantmen. As, however, the captains of these two ships had been condemned to be hanged at Dieppe, and their crews consigned to the galleys, I understand the English ambassador says that if they carry out the sentence it will not be extraordinary if the English seize some French ships in England in return for these two.
By orders of his Holiness the archbishop of Glasgow has now accepted the post of ambassador of the king of Scotland here, and is received as such by their Christian Majesties.
In reply to your Majesty's inquiry as to the reason for the king of Scotland's change of attitude towards the bishops, the King gave no other reason than that they were persons who had rendered service to his mother, and that they could better serve him here than any others of his subjects, leaving the matter to be dealt with more fully in the Parliament convoked for the 22nd ultimo. Up to the present no information has reached here of the course of events in the Parliament, but to judge by the past this action of the king of Scotland is prompted more by considerations of policy than affection for the Catholic religion.
The Scots ambassador has not yet received the present which the king (of France) had ordered to be given to him, nor does he seem to be despatching the gentleman sent to him by his King, which is a sign that no resolution has been arrived at. The master of Grey whom the king of Scotland held prisoner, has arrived here, the King having released and banished him.—Paris, 5th August 1587.
5 Aug.
Paris Archives, K. 1565. 39.
136. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
The news I sent to your Majesty about Drake's arrival came through Secretary Walsingham hither. It would seem that the latter was anxious to exaggerate the news, because letters dated 14th and 22nd ultimo, confirmed by my own agents, and also by sundry merchants, report that the English fleet was scattered by a storm on the Spanish coast, and Drake with his own ship, three others, and a tender, ran before it to the islands. Three leagues from St. Michaels he fell in with the ship called the "San Felipe" bound from Portuguese India, which had taken on board at Mozambique the cargo of the galleon "San Lorenzo," which was not fit to proceed on the voyage. Drake captured the "San Felipe," and landed her people on the island of St. Michaels ; after which he sailed for England, accompanied only by the four ships, with his own and the tender. He brought no other prizes but the ship from India, and on the 22nd the Queen had no news of the whereabouts of the rest of the fleet. She had therefore despatched a tender with news of Drake's prize. Drake remained at Plymouth, some say on the excuse of a wound in the leg, others because of an attack of ague ; but the general opinion is that these are only pretexts for fear that if he goes to London, and the plunder is not divided amongst the sailors, as the Queen promised, they would mutiny, and he could not sail again in the Queen's ship, which he brought back. He was therefore hurrying forward the preparation of the four Queen's ships which she had granted him, and the 12 merchantmen, although it was not known when they would be ready to sail. If, however, they were ready for sea, the weather up to the 29th ultimo would have prevented their departure.
Drake had written to the Queen offering to capture the Indian flotillas, or fight a pitched battle with your Majesty's fleet, and with this object he had begged the Queen to increase the number of men beyond the thousand she had ordered to go in the 14 vessels abovementioned to reinforce him. He requests instead that 3,000 may be sent, soldiers and sailors, but the Queen had not granted this.
I am hourly expecting news from England, and will at once send the same by courier to your Majesty. In order to lose no time, I am sending this by a person who is going to Bordeaux.
There is no advice from Holland and Zeeland of preparations for ships to accompany Drake, although Diego Botello (fn. 1) was in high hopes, as Sampson's advices enclosed will show.—Paris, 5th August 1587.
7 Aug.
Italian, Estado, 949.
137. The Pope to the King.
Dear Son in Christ, greeting. This morning I held a consistory, and Allen was made a Cardinal to please your Majesty, and although when I proposed it, I alleged reasons calculated to give rise to no suspicion, I am told that, as soon as it was known in Rome, they at once began to say that we were now getting ready for the war in England ; and this idea will now spread everywhere. I urge your Majesty, therefore, not to delay, in order not to incur greater evils to those poor Christians, for if we tarry longer that which you have judged for the best will turn out for the worst.
With regard to the aid for the enterprise, I have at once ordered the fulfilment of everything that count de Olivares has requested, and I believe he sends particulars to your Majesty.
On undertaking this enterprise I exhort your Majesty first to reconcile yourself with God the father, for the sins of princes destroy peoples, and no sin is so heinous in the eyes of the Lord as the usurpation of the divine jurisdiction, as is proved by history, sacred and profane. Your Majesty has been advised to embrace in your edict bishops, archbishops, and cardinals, and this is a grievous sin. Erase from the edict these ministers of God and repent, or otherwise a great scourge may fall upon you. Regard not the man who may advise you to the contrary, for he must be either a flatterer or an atheist ; but believe me who am your spiritual father, believe our holy faith, your spiritual mother, whom you are bound to obey for your salvation's sake. Human, canon, and theological laws, all counsel you the same way, and they cannot advise you wrongly. Octavius Cæsar and other pagan emperors respected the divine jurisdiction so much that, to enable them to make certain laws touching the same, they caused themselves to be elected pontiffs. I have shed many tears over this great sin of yours, and I trust that you will amend it, and that God will pardon you. The Vicar of Christ must be obeyed without reply in questions of salvation, and I, therefore, hope that you will submit.—Rome, 7th August 1587.
Note.—Father Tempesti (Storia della Vita e geste di Sisto Quinto) gives a Latin version of this letter from the Vatican archives. The reason of the Pope's anger was that Philip had undertaken himself to nominate the new English archbishops and bishops ; and, rightly or wrongly, the Pope was informed (by the Cardinals of the French faction) that his intention was to appoint Spanish ecclesiasties to the English benefices.
11 Aug.
Paris Archives, K. 1448. 137.
138. The King to Bernardino De Mendoza.
You were right in your conclusion that Drake could only have taken one ship from India. The others must have been from elsewhere. If he return to the islands he will meet the marquis of Santa Cruz, and if he come to these waters again he will find someone on the look-out for him, as the Andalusian fleet has gone to Lisbon. We think here, however, that he will not attempt to return at present. You will advise all you hear, with your usual diligence, as it is of the highest importance that these reports should be frequent and trustworthy.
It was well to mention about Nicholas Ousley of Malaga. The matter has been dealt with. If you hear of anyone else acting in the same way, report it.—San Lorenzo, 11th August 1587.


  • 1. Diego Botello, who had formerly represented the Portuguese pretender, Don Antonio, in London, was now pressing his cause in the revolted Netherlands.