Simancas: January 1588

Pages 186-202

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

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January 1588

1588. S.D. Paris Archives, K. 1567. 191. Advice sent to Don Martin De Idiaquez about two ships.
Two Scotch ships either have left, or will shortly leave, London, where they are waiting for a wind. One of them is of 150 tons burden called the "New Ship" of St. Andrews, and the master is named Allan Livingston (?), of St. Andrews, a short (sturdy young fellow of fair complexion). There accompanies him a merchant named Patrick Morris, a native of Edinburgh (a tall man with a long face, a black beard, and sunken eyes). He is in charge of the whole cargo, of which he and Edward Johnstone, who is here in Paris, own 1,800 crowns' worth, the rest belonging to a Mr. Sapers (?) an Englishman, formerly the earl of Leicester's merchant, but now the principal dealer for the English and Scots in Turkey and Tripoli. He has loaded the ship with wrought tin, and tin and lead, in pigs, and a quantity of English serge. The goods bear the leaden seal of Edinburgh, but are made in England, and the seal is placed on them to deceive. The ship also carries Dutch cloths and English worsted half hose.
The other ship is from Little Leith, of 55 tons, the master's name being Hamilton (?), of Queensferry, but living at Little Leith. The merchant of this ship is James Wilson, of Edinburgh, a beardless young man. This ship carries similar merchandise to the other, and the cargo belongs to the same owners, with the exception of the 1,800 crowns' worth, the property of Patrick Morris and Edward Johnstone. The value of the cargoes is estimated at 14,000l. (40 reals to the pound). The ships will discharge at San Lucar or Cadiz, and will probably be accompanied by two other Scotch ships in ballast, to load Spanish goods there.
Note.—The above is given as a typical case of the continual traffic in English merchandise with Spain under cover of Scottish merchants during the period when all commercial communication between England and Spain was prohibited. In the present papers there are many reports of a similar character, and orders given for the embargoing of such vessels on their arrival in Spain. It has, however, been considered unnecessary to give particulars of them except in special cases as examples.
Paris Archives, K. 1448.
192. The King to Bernardino De Mendoza.
I learn by letter of 27th December that Charles Arundell had died of lethargy (modorra), and that you had been obliged to assist him with money for his maintenance during his last illness. It was well that you did this, as it was an act of true piety ; and as the severity of his malady prevented him from giving you a bill for the money so provided, and you had also to find the money for his funeral, he having left no property behind him, I approve of the sum so expended being vouched for by your certificate only, receipts being furnished by the English doctor who attended him, and by his servant, for the sums paid to them through his confessor, the English Jesuit, Father Thomas. You may therefore credit yourself in account with these amounts, and this shall be your sufficient warrant.—Madrid, January 1588.
Estado, 594.
193. Document headed "What his Majesty wishes the Cardinal "Archduke to say to the marquis de Santa Cruz."
He is pleased to learn that the Armada is so advanced as to allow the men to be shipped by the end of January, and then to sail without further delay. As the time is now drawing near, his Majesty wishes his Highness to state to the Marquis the course he will have to pursue during the expedition, pending the sending of the formal instructions, which shall be despatched in due time.
The King wishes the Marquis with the fleet to put to sea and go direct to join hands with the duke of Parma, in accordance with the plan already agreed upon, which has been conveyed to the Duke and the Marquis. Although we learn by certain advices from England that Drake had sailed with some ships of the fleet for these waters, with the object of obstructing and diverting him, the Marquis is not to desist from the voyage, but is to persevere in it, without, however, seeking the enemy, even though he (Drake) may remain on our coasts. If the enemy follows and approaches him, however, he may engage him. He may also fight him if he should encounter Drake at the mouth of the Channel, off Scilly, Ushant, or anywhere thereabouts.
If the Marquis does not come across the enemy before he arrives off the cape at Margate, and should there find the Lord Admiral of England with his fleet, even though the latter be reinforced by Drake and his fleet, our Armada will still be superior in strength, inasmuch as the most favourable statements with regard to the English fleets admit that they can hardly muster 3,000 seamen, and as many soldiers in each of their two fleets ; so that even when they are united they will be inferior to ours, both as to quantity and quality. With the hope of God, therefore, and in the confidence of his cause the Marquis may give the enemy battle, hoping that our Lord may give us the victory.
It must be understood that he must only fight in case it be necessary to ensure the passage of the duke of Parma to England. If this can be done without tighting, either by stratagem or otherwise, it will be better so to manage it, and keep our forces intact. If the Armada has not to fight, the Marquis will, according to orders, reinforce the Duke with 6,000 Spaniards. If the Armada has fought, the reinforcement will have to depend upon the loss we may have suffered in gaining the victory which, by God's help, we may have gained. When the troops have landed, the Marquis may station his fleet at the mouth of the River Thames, holding the passage from Flanders so as to give support on both sides of the Channel. If any other step be rendered necessary by circumstances, the Duke and the Marquis, being on the spot, will decide upon it, the Marquis carrying out their joint decision. But he must not land, or act alone, or on his own opinion, without the concurrence of the Duke, the engaging of the enemy on the sea (which is the essence of the business) being the only thing in which he is to act independently.
The Marquis must remain there until the enterprise is successfully effected with God's help. He may then return, calling in Ireland on his way. He will leave with the Duke the greater part of the Spaniards he has with him, and bring away in their stead the mass of the Italians and Germans, who may appear necessary for the Irish business.
4 Jan.
Paris Archives, K. 1448.
194. Juan De Idiaquez to Bernardino De Mendoza.
Colonel William Semple left here by his Majesty's orders for the purpose of conveying certain intelligence to you. He met here the earl of Morton, and is a man who may be trusted. You will, therefore, welcome him and hear what he has to say, as he is a zealous servant of his Majesty, and then send him on to the duke of Parma to whom he is also accredited. (fn. 1) Instruct him to follow the Duke's orders, unless the Duke and you are in communication on the subject, and you, yourself, inform the colonel of the course he is to adopt. The King is pleased to refer to you and the Duke the decision as to whether the colonel shall go to Scotland. In any case it will be well that you should discuss the matter with him personally, and settle the plan before he sets out.—Madrid, 4th January 1588.
4 Jan.
Paris Archives, K. 1567.
195. Sampson's Advices from London.
Don Antonio is still here, but knows not what to be at. Although they assure him that Admiral Raleigh with a great fleet is going to take him to Portugal, he is not much rejoiced thereat. (fn. 2) He has been with the Queen at Greenwich for two days, but she has not caressed him much.
9 Jan.
Paris Archives, K. 1567.
196. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
I understand that this King (Henry III.) is arranging for the recall of his ambassador in England, who is a Catholic, and the appointment to succeed him of an abbé who is not considered so. This, together with the fact I have just heard, that four deputies have come from Rochelle hither to treat of the raising of a fleet in consideration of your Majesty's Armada, causes me to think that there is an intention of making some preparation to help the Englishwoman. I will try to get to the bottom of this.
The English ambassador has sent to beg the King for the droit d'aubaine (fn. 3) on account of the relationship of his wife with the late Charles Arundell. The King has granted it, and his estate may now be administered by those who undertook the costs of his funeral, &c., who may also give legal receipts for what is owing to him. (fn. 4) —Paris, 9th January 1588.
9 Jan.
Paris Archives, K. 1568.
197. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
Juluis writes me that by advices of 19th ultimo the Treasurer tells him that they were discussing the sending of commissioners to the duke of Parma to treat for peace, but that the Queen would certainly come to no agreement unless she were assured that the duke of Parma would remain perpetual governor of the States for life. This would be the principal point which the commissioners would be instructed to press, and if this were not conceded they would go no further. The Queen would also demand that Flushing, Brille, and Ostend should remain in her possession until she were reimbursed the 100,000 crowns she had spent. Sir Amyas Paulet, who was the keeper of the queen of Scotland, was to be one of the commissioners. To this man had been given the verbal commission which I mentioned your Majesty some months ago they wished to cram down the duke of Parma's throat. (fn. 5)
The Queen had come to no decision as to the means of drawing closer to this King (of France), and I understand since the departure of the reiters she is providing Bearn with money. She offered this King when the reiters were on the frontier of Lorraine that they should not enter France unless he wished, but the King refused the offer, by which it is evident that they have an understanding with Epernon. I have told Julius to be very careful to inform me if this King again opens negotiations with the queen of England on any point. He is very vigilant in this, and in all other matters that it behoves me to know. I was obliged to see the new confidant, and he has again pressed me to lay before your Majesty the necessity in which he finds himself, in consequence of his allowances being detained by his enemies, with the object of forcing him to change his position. I told him that I had already conveyed this to your Majesty, to which he replied that if the answer was long delayed he was so pressed that he would be unable to hold out, unless in the meanwhile I lent him 1,200 crowns. I am putting him off, but if he presses me again about it I have determined to seek the money for him, as I think it very important to your Majesty's interests at this juncture not to lose him, by his having to change his place. I have also in view that it is nearly a year ago since your Majesty granted him the 2,000 crowns, and it is well to keep such people as this in good humour, especially when money is given to them to help them in their need, as this stops their mouths.
I understand that Charles Arundell owed 2,000 crowns in England, which he had provided for the queen of Scotland, and other sums ; that is to say, that he took these amounts from the money under his charge belonging to the queen of England, he having been the treasurer of a province. When Arundell left England the Queen at once claimed the sums from his sureties, and these sureties will receive the 2,000 crowns your Majesty ordered me to pay on this account in discharge of the conscience of the queen of Scotland. Both the Queen's soul and that of Arundell will thus be absolved, and the debt extinguished. I beg your Majesty to instruct me how I am to act in the matter. I have written to Antonio de Vega as your Majesty commands. The advices from England "translated from English" as a further disguise, are from him.
Sampson says that Don Antonio writes that it will be difficult for him to leave England without the Queen's knowledge, and he consequently will not attempt to do so unless she gives him leave. All I know about Fray Diego Carlos is that he is in England. Secretary Pinart said last night that this King had news that the earl of Morton had arrived at Nantes ; perhaps bad weather has forced him upon that coast. I have no other advice of this.—Paris, 9th January 1588.
9 Jan.(N.S.)
Paris Archives, K. 1568.
198. Advices from London, translated from the English. (fn. 6)
The earl of Leicester arrived on the 19th ultimo, and was well received by his mistress, but badly by the public. On his arrival it was decided that the fleets should put to sea, and that the frontiers should be manned as had been agreed upon. The earl tried to prevent the peace negotiations, persuading the Queen that no peace could be arranged except to her prejudice and disgrace. This delayed the departure of the commissioners, and the Queen gave leave to the earl of Derby to go to his estates.
The Admiral went to Rochester on the 2nd instant to embark, followed by many of the nobility, but as the wind is unfavourable he is still there. There are 26 ships belonging to the Queen ready for sea, of which Drake is to take five and two pinnaces, and to be accompanied by 30 merchantmen. He is to go to the coast of Spain, the intention being to burn all the ships on the Biscay and Galician coasts, especially in Corunna. The weather has not yet allowed Drake to sail, and warning should therefore be sent at once. The rest of the Queen's ships, 19 in number, are to be taken out by the Admiral, with 20 merchantmen, although the English say a larger number. But the truth is that the whole number fitted out for the Queen is 68, and 15 for private adventurers. On the 5th instant Morris arrived here with the passport from the duke of Parma, and permission for the commissioners to go over. Many councils have been held on the subject, and the Queen has decided that the commissioners are to go, notwithstanding the arguments of Leicester, Walsingham, and Paulet against it. They alleged that the Queen would not be able to make peace unless she surrendered the fortresses she held, which would not only be a disgraceful and injurious thing to do, but it would also be delivering the key of dominions which had submitted to her, and which she had taken under her protection. As the Queen was determined to make peace at any cost, it being most important for her to be sure of Spain, now that France is in so disturbed a state, the said councillors next day said that, since it was necessary that peace should be made, the Queen, at all events, should make it on honourable terms. They said that on no account should she give up Flushing or Brille to the king of Spain. If she delivered Ostend and Berghen to him, she should deliver Flushing and Brille to the States. This was agreed to on that day, and nothing further was done at the time ; but at 11 o'clock at night, after the Queen had heard a comedy, she flew into a passion with the earl of Leicester, who was present, and told him that it behoved her at any cost to be friendly with the king of Spain, "Because," she said, "I see that he has great preparations made on all sides. My ships have left to put to sea, and if any evil fortune should befall them all would be lost, for I shall have lost the walls of my realm." The Earl argued that she need not lose confidence, as the enemy's Armada was not so powerful as was asserted, but even if it were, it would still be much inferior to hers, instancing that Drake last year effected so much with quite a small force. The Queen replied that Drake had never fought yet, and she did not see that he had done much damage to the enemy, except to scandalise him at considerable loss to her. Leicester thereupon told her to do as she liked, he could only give his opinion as he understood it.
The earl of Derby has been summoned in haste, and the commissioners will certainly go.
9 Jan.
Paris Archives, K. 1567.
199. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
In the matter of England I have continued to send your Majesty the advices I have received. From these, and from the report of a trustworthy person, who saw the Lord Admiral and Drake in London on the 16th ultimo (new style), it is to be concluded that the ships your Majesty informs me were seen off Cape St. Vincent on the 24th were English or French pirates, which had joined together in view of the queen of England's orders that no ships were to leave her ports, and rather than go in there to be starved, they have preferred to range abroad and pillage. I can assure your Majesty that no large body of armed ships has left either France or England hitherto. I hear that Don Antonio writes hither, under date of 17th ultimo, that the Admiral and Drake were saying that they would put to sea in the fleet, but God knew when.
The earl of Leicester arrived in England on the 16th ultimo.— Paris, 9th January 1588.
Note.—Philip II. has written in the margin of the above letter that the news contained in it should be sent to Portugal.
200. Bernardino De Mendoza to Juan De Idiaquez.
I have decided to do with Julius, as you will see by my despatches, as I think it advisable, so as not to lose him and to keep him in a good humour. It is nearly a year since we gave him the 2,000 crowns, and we cannot give him less now. —Paris, 9th January 1588.
Note.—This refers to the bribing of Sir Edward Stafford, the English ambassador.
12 Jan.
Paris Archives, K. 1567.
201. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
No news from England later than 19th ultimo, and there is no intelligence of an English fleet having sailed.
The result of the earl of Leicester's arrival has been the sending by the Queen to the Scottish Border of a Scots heretic called Douglas, who was at her Court. He is taking a sum of money, and is to offer the King the title of duke of Lancaster from the Queen, with a pension of 6,000l. sterling (equal to 24,000 ducats of 10 reals each), holding out great hopes also that ultimately this may lead to his being declared her successor. It is not known how the king of Scotland will reply. The king of France has despatched the gentleman who brought the letter from the king of Scotland eight months ago, saying that his occupations had prevented him from replying earlier. He then refers him to an ambassador whom he is sending thither.—Paris, 12th January 1588.
16 Jan.
Paris Archives, K. 1567.
202. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
Since mine of the 12th I have received advices from England, dated 26th ultimo and 2nd and 4th instant (new style). The Lord Admiral bad started on the 1st for Rochester, with the intention of sailing with all the 32 Queen's ships. If the weather be favourable he hoped to leave the Thames in 5 or 6 days, and would sail his fleet along the coast of England in a northerly direction to prevent or oppose the landing of a force from Flanders. These ships are heavily armed with large and small pieces and take three lords with the Admiral. They say that, altogether, with sailors and soldiers, there will go at least 5,000 men ; they assert even that 8,000 will go, but stores will be carried only for a month. They will depend upon supplies being sent from shore. The intention of the Admiral is to remain on the coast, and if Drake reports that the Armada of your Majesty is approaching England the Admiral with 16 of his best ships will effect a junction with Drake, and take command to encounter the Spanish force. In that case Lord Harry Seymour and Captain Winter will remain with the rest of the ships to oppose the landing of the duke of Parma.
Drake accompanies the Admiral to Rochester and will then start for Plymouth to take out the 36 ships which it was arranged he should command. The Queen orders him to try to sail by the 15th instant, and to take with him all the armed pirate ships which were on the west coast or he might meet at sea. Drake will have 4,000 men in his 36 ships and victuals for four months. His ships are all armed merchantmen but three, which belong to the Queen.
Drake's intention is to endeavour to burn ships of the Armada in the river at Lisbon, and to land men at some point in order that a diversion may thus be effected and the Armada prevented from sailing. Drake consented to serve on the fleet only on condition that the Queen gave him an absolutely free hand to fight or not as he thought fit, to land forces or not, to burn, sack, or pillage Spanish towns ; and in fact to be ruled solely by his own discretion, according to circumstances. As some of the pirates your Majesty informed me had been seen off Cape St. Vincent have returned to England, it is probable that the shallops they sent out to reconnoitre have also come back, after having informed them of the intention of Drake. They are keeping their eyes fixed on this plan to prevent your Majesty's Armada from sailing, and my new confidant assures me that the Queen has advices from Lisbon that the victuals there had gone bad, and had caused sickness amongst our men on the Armada, which consequently could not sail for a considerable time.
All the news I send your Majesty are confirmed by the assurance of my new confidant, and the reports of other persons I have, besides those sent by the French ambassador in England to this King. The said ambassador also reports that the Admiral intended to take his ships to Scotland and seize the person of the King, who, however, is so entirely given up to the Scots faction in the interest of England that it hardly seems probable that the Queen of England would take the trouble of fitting out a fleet for the purpose of capturing him.
The French ambassador also writes that your Majesty had bought the Scottish Catholic nobles with 50,000 ducats, and had promised the chancellor (fn. 7) 100,000 to keep him on your side. The latter, however, had refused, and had reported the whole matter to the queen of England. The English tell the ambassador these things. Raleigh had left the day before Leicester arrived in order not to meet him. He has gone to the west country as the Queen's Lieutenant-General there, and certain councillors had been appointed to assist Lord Hunsdon on the northern border. A council of war has also been formed to advise the Queen, and also a secret committee of the Privy Council, consisting only of four members. All reports from England agree that great alarm and confusion reign, and that the fleet the Queen had fitted out was the only effort that England was capable of making.
Since the 10th the wind has been all that Drake could desire to carry him to Spain, and if he has put to sea and his plans remain unchanged he will be off the coast of Spain some days before this letter arrives. I am despatching this courier to give your Majesty an account of these two fleets, and I have also reported the same to the duke of Parma. The wind is entirely against the Lord Admiral, which makes me think he may anchor in the Downs at the mouth of the Thames. (fn. 8) The Carthusian friar, bishop of Dunblane, had but little hope now that the king of Scotland would give him audience. He, the King, had retired from the frontier to Edinburgh, and the faction against the Chancellor who rules the King was growing. The letter containing this news is dated 24th November from Scotland.
203. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
Julio wrote me the news I send in the general letter with regard to the Lord Admiral's plans, which had been told him by the Lord Admiral himself.
He (Julio) also assured me that, so far as can be judged, these fleets will not take so many men as I have said, and that if the Flemish fleet delays, the Admiral's fleet will not keep at sea, the great hope of the English being founded on what Drake may do to prevent the sailing of the Armada from Spain. He confesses that the Queen is in the utmost alarm, and recognises how disproportionate are her forces to oppose those of your Majesty.
The Treasurer is much grieved at the ill success of the Reiters in France, and throws the blame upon the Frenchmen who led them, as they had not formed a junction with Bearn. (fn. 9) He (the Treasurer) was doing his best to bring the Queen to peace with all her neighbours. Leicester is delighted to be quit of the Dutchmen and Zealanders, who would not hear of peace, although they were powerless to continue the war. Walsingham says, with regard to this, that the rebels did not wish to avoid peace, but by reason of the Queen's not sending the Commissioners they saw that the Duke of Parma was cooling in the negotiations.
Julio writes to me saying that no orders are given to this ambassador to endeavour to bring about a closer union between the Queen and this King. As both in this particular, and the other English news I send in the general despatch, I have seen the original letters themselves, I have not lost more time than was necessary in sending your Majesty account thereof, but I had to wait until night before I could go and hear the news from my new confidant, who turns himself inside out for me. In view of this and his need, I have begun to give him some of the money he asked me for.
The substance of Nansic's (the duke of Parma) despatches is to desire me to keep hold of Muzio (the duke of Guise) and persuade him not to consent to a general peace, or to anything else that may impede your Majesty's plans.—Paris, 16th January 1588.
25 Jan.
Paris Archives, K. 1448.
204. The King to Bernardino De Mendoza.
I note what you say relative to the servants of the queen of Scotland. There seems to be no need for pressing Miss Kennedy much to return to France, since she could only depose as to her mistress' intentions by hearsay. If, however, she should have been so coldly received in Scotland as you hear, and she returns to France of her own accord, it will be as well to make use of her if opportunity offers, through her companion and the rest of them that remain in Paris. In this case you will advise me what grant should be made to her.
Although Miss Curle has, you say, business there at present, it will be advisable to fix a pension for her at once, to be paid through you, in order that she may depend the more entirely upon you. You have not mentioned the sum that should be paid to her, as I asked you to do on the 27th November. If there be time, let me know your opinion on this point, but if there is any risk of her entertaining other ideas, you had better tell her that she has been granted a pension, fixing the amount you think advisable, but not exceeding what may be needful.
You will inform Secretary Curle, her brother, that he has been granted 40 crowns a month, and the same to Gorion ; and the pensions had better, as you say, be paid by you for several reasons. The Secretary knows all about the Queen's will, considering what he saw and wrote, and also what Walsingham's officer told him afterwards.
It will be well for the letter the Queen wrote to the Pope to be sent to Rome. The fact of the archbishop of Glasgow's keeping it back so long, argues not necessity alone, as he might have sent it without incurring any expense, but perhaps also unwillingness that it should reach the hands of the Pope, because, being a Scotsman, he may be inclined to his own King and country ; although his cloth and devotion to the Catholic cause should lead him otherwise, seeing how the King has behaved. You will therefore bear this in mind, and take care that the letter does not disappear. Try to get a copy of it, and if you see there is any further delay in sending it, consider whether it will not be advisable to cause the Nuncio to be informed of the matter, so that he may, if necessary, ask for the letter and send it himself. You might either tell the Nuncio yourself, or have it conveyed to him in an indirect way, according to the opinion you have of him. (fn. 10) You will act as you think best in the matter and report.
With regard to the 2,000 crowns that the queen of Scotland desired should be paid to Charles Arundell, it will be well to learn whether he left any debts behind him, (fn. 11) or whether he expressed any wishes about it to you before he died. Let me know about this, and whether he left any children, and any other particulars ; a reply shall then be sent you. With regard also to the seminary of Pont Monçon, for which the archbishop of Glasgow requested aid, inform me what sort of seminary it is, its foundation, revenues, etc., and the matter shall be considered.—Madrid, 25th January 1588.
29 Jan.
Paris Archives, K. 1418.
205. The King to Bernardino De Mendoza.
Since the accompanying letters were written, yours of 16th instant is to hand with advices as to the plans of the English fleet, and as to Drake's intentions. It was well to send this by special courier, and you will do so in future whenever my service may seem to require it. Julio is doing so well that the money you gave him was well spent. You will see by subsequent letters that you are authorised to pay him the same as you did before, in accordance with your recommendation. You may also seek some trustworthy confidant to carry on the communications between you, because, apart from the trouble, it would be extremely dangerous to do this in person, and every possible precaution must be adopted against discovery.—Madrid, 29th January 1588.
30 Jan.
Paris Archives, K. 1568.
206. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
I enclose advices from England of 9th January (n.s.), and I need only add to them, that I have full confirmation of the intelligence from other quarters.
The Admiral was still in the Thames the weather preventing him from putting to set. There are only four of the Queen's ships outside, as I have already informed your Majesty. They anchor in the Downs, and when the weather permits them they go in the direction of Dunkirk to prevent ships from entering. A fishing boat that left the mouth of the Thames on the 12th asserts that up to that date none of the Admiral's ships had left the river.
The letters from London of 9th, state that Drake was at Plymouth. Advices from Rye, a port 10 leagues from Plymouth (sic) dated 20th instant (n.s.) say that Drake's ships at Plymouth are not sufficiently advanced to put to sea even if the weather would allow them to do so.
The London letters of 9th also say that they have there news from Barbary dated 10th December, sent by English merchants resident there, that the king of Fez had ordered them to return two French ships which an English corsair had taken on the coast, which French ships took from France scarlet cloth which had been made here to the king of Fez's orders. He threatens the English that unless they restore them he will seize English property and prohibit all English trade.
It is reported from Antwerp, under date of 17th, that a ship belonging to the queen of England, with 600 soldiers, had been wrecked on the banks with loss of all hands. The news I sent that the earl of Morton had landed on the coast of Brittany was true. When this King heard of it and that he was coming hither, where he now is, he publicly said at table, that it would now be seen which could do most in Scotland, your Majesty's pistoles or the broad angels that Archie Douglas took to Scotland from the queen of England.—Paris, 30th January 1588.
30 Jan.
Paris Archives, K. 1567.
207. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
Julio confirms the news that neither the Admiral nor Drake has sailed, as I advise in the general letter, and also that the queen of England has resolved to raise another force of reiters to come to France. He asks whether it would be to your Majesty's interest for him to try to prevent this levy, or to forward it, and get the men sent to France. Your Majesty will please instruct me on the point, as he boasts of being able to arrange matters as your Majesty may command. I understand that Marshal de Biron has sent word to the English ambassador here that he wishes to see him, and the ambassador suspects that he desires to learn on what conditions the Queen would strengthen her alliance with this King.
The news of 9th instant from London which I send to your Majesty, is from Antonio de Vega, confirmed by letters from the French ambassador in London. Secretary Villeroy in view of them told a friend of his the other day that the queen of England would certainly come to terms with your Majesty.
The earl of Morton arrived here on the 18th instant, and saw me the next night. He said he was ready to comply with your Majesty's wishes, and asked for my orders. I thanked him in general terms, and said I would advise your Majesty of his arrival. I sent to the duke of Parma in order that he might decide whether it would be well to let him go to Scotland with Colonel Semple, or whether he had better wait for the return the bishop of Dunblane, that we may see what intelligence he brings.
The duke of Parma has sent me some letters that were brought to him from Scotland by a Spaniard, from Lord Claude Hamilton and George Earl of Huntly, two Catholic nobles : and the Duke tells me that he is sending the Spaniard to inform me verbally. He asks me to send the man back with such an answer to the lords as I may consider advisable, to maintain them in their good intentions and devotion to your Majesty. The Spaniard fell ill at Lille and the letters are not yet deciphered, so that I am unable to inform your Majesty whether there is anything important in them. Doubtless the duke of Parma will have done so.
Sampson saw me as I was closing this letter. He knows nothing of what Vega reports. I have told him to keep his eyes open. He says the Queen-mother has asked him to get news from the English ambassador as to whether his mistress really will come to terms with your Majesty, and if her fleets will put to sea.—Paris, 30th January 1588.
Since closing this, my new confidant reports that Marshal de Biron has seen the English ambassador, and made him great offers, and assurances of his desire to serve the queen of England. He says the King wishes for a private interview with the ambassador, but did not venture to see him for fear that his mistress might make use of his (the King's) approaches to come to terms with your Majesty. The ambassador said that he desired nothing better than to be made the instrument of such negotiations, which should only be known to his mistress and himself.
31 Jan.
Paris Archives, K. 1567.
208. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
Since closing the accompanying letters I have received advices from Julio from London, dated 21st instant (n.s.), saying that the Treasurer assured him that Drake was at Plymouth with 30 well-armed ships, which would be off the Spanish coast within 30 days, and would there do all the damage they could, the intention being that which I report to your Majesty in another letter, namely, to burn what ships they could in Lisbon and other ports, to land men, and to pillage.
The Admiral was at Queen borough, at the mouth of the Thames, with 36 ships, some belonging to the Queen, and some to merchants. They are so well armed and fitted that they would ensure the duke of Parma's not daring to attack them, and he (the Treasurer) talked a great deal about the large sum the Queen had spent upon these two fleets. Julio also informs me that the Treasurer had ordered the English ambassador here to send him a report of the English rebels in Spain, Flanders, and France. Julio reports that the Treasurer has written that the French ambassador in England had signified to the Queen that his master was aware that she would like to see him at peace, and France tranquil. Instructions had therefore been sent that the English ambassador here, either through third persons or directly, should represent to the King that the League, supported by the Pope, your Majesty, and the duke of Parma, had adopted the cloak of religion simply to forward their own designs ; and that this rendered it necessary for the King to come to terms with Bearn, in which case he (the King) would be stronger than the League, and could force them to agree to peace, which the King desired, and the Queen (of England) would forward for the advantage both of the King and herself. He (Cecil) enlarged greatly upon this point. He (the English ambassador in France) is also to report who are the Huguenots that submitted to the King in the arrangement made with the reiters.
Julio adds that the Treasurer tells him that they have sent a notification to the duke of Parma, that as Flanders is in a state of war it would be more convenient to carry on the negotiations for peace in England. They suggest Canterbury, but they did not think the duke of Parma would agree. If he did, however, the Treasurer would be one of the principal Commissioners. Having in view Julio's good behaviour, I cannot help urging your Majesty to confer some favour upon him. In the meanwhile I am encouraging him (as I think the circumstances demand) by giving him from time to time the amount he asked me to lend him.—Paris, 31st January 1588.
31 Jan.
Estado, 594.
209. Duke of Parma to the King.
I have been somewhat disturbed to read what your Majesty has ordered to be written to me in your letters of 11th and 24th December, as it seems to infer that I may have done what your Majesty emphatically ordered me not to do until the arrival of the marquis of Santa Cruz with the Armada to ensure the passage across. I wrote by your Majesty's orders my own opinion, that in the interests of the facility, success, and efficacy of the expedition, it was necessary that secrecy should be maintained, the French kept busy, and these States assured. I said also that the passage across from here was convenient, in consequence of its shortness and the facility of obtaining boats. The latter, however, obviously are not fit for anything but the passage itself, as they are too small for fighting, and so low that four of the skiffs (esquifes) of the fleet could send to the bottom as many as they might meet. They could hardly live through a freshet, much less a tempest, so that they can only be used in settled weather. As your Majesty ordered me to undertake this business and make all necessary preparations, although the time given to me was very short, and the supply of money very limited, I have done my best to perform the impossible, in order to please you and carry out my duty to your Majesty. Things have been drawn out longer than I like or than is desirable ; both men and money having been delayed beyond the time your Majesty indicated, and particularly the Spanish troops, who are the sinew of the whole business, the numbers, moreover, being less than those agreed upon. They have arrived, after all, so dilapidated and maltreated that they do not look in the least fit for effectual service for some time to come. The Italians and Germans have dwindled very much in consequence of having marched so quickly in such bad, wet weather ; and in order to keep them near the points of embarkation they are so badly housed that very many of them are missing. Notwithstanding all these impediments, and though I saw our men were dying and falling away, I made every effort to get them to the ports in accordance with your Majesty's orders, and went personally to expedite them, on the understanding that there would be no delay in the arrival of the marquis of Santa Cruz with your Majesty's Armada, as your Majesty assured me in your own letters. I sent persons in search of the Marquis, in order that we might jointly settle what course would be best in your Majesty's interest, and thus be more certain of success. I now see that everything has turned out the reverse of what I expected and hoped. Secrecy, which was of the utmost importance, has not been maintained ; and from Spain, Italy, and all parts come, not only news of the expedition, but full details of it. Both the king of France and the League have raised enormous numbers of troops, and as they are Frenchmen the less they are trusted the better when their own interests are concerned. It appears, however, that so far, although they have caused anxiety, they have not obstructed the carrying out of the enterprise.
The preparations here, although not so complete as I should like, are, at all events, ready. Holland and Zeeland have armed with their usual promptitude, and have prevented the few vessels of the fleet which are in Antwerp from getting out, whilst the English themselves have promptly and energetically set about their preparations for defence. Your Majesty is perfectly well aware that, without the support of the fleet, I could not cross over to England with these boats, and you very prudently ordered me in your letter of 4th September not to attempt to do so until the Marquis arrived. I thought that his coming would be so soon that, notwithstanding my utmost haste, I should not be in time ; and I hurried all my men into the port. If the Marquis had come then, the crossing would have been easily effected with God's help, because, what with the Dunkirk and other coast boats, as well as those I had prepared, I could have taken the men over without the Antwerp boats, neither the English, the Hollanders, nor the Zeelanders being then in a position to offer resistance to your Majesty's fleet.
I consider that I have carried out orders and served your Majesty with my invariable loyalty, exactitude, and affection in this matter. Your Majesty expressly instructed me to wait for the marquis of Santa Cruz, and repeated the order in subsequent letters, adding, in every case, that I was not to cross if there was any fleet to interfere with me ; but if, instead of this, your Majesty had ordered me to cross without reserve, I should have unhesitatingly obeyed, even if we had all been lost. The cloth I wear, and my own honour, would not allow me to act otherwise, as I consider that my first duty is to obey in this as I have in all other things.
I see that the contretemps still continue ; and your Majesty is now aware of the preparations that have been made by the English and the rebels You know also that the marquis of Santa Cruz has not come, and the reason of his delay ; and yet, notwithstanding all this, you suppose that I may be there (in England ?). I must confess that this has caused me great sorrow. Your Majesty has the right to give absolute orders, whilst I can only receive them as special favours, and fulfil them ; and for you to write to me now with a presumption diametrically opposite to the orders sent, naturally gives me great pain. I therefore, humbly beg your Majesty to do me the great favour of instructing me how I am to act. I shall make no difficulties in anything, even if I have only a pinnace to take me across. My arrival at Bruges and the stay of troops in the neighbourhood have given rise to much talk : the affair is so public that I can assure your Majesty there is not a soldier but has something to say about it, and the details of it. I, for my part, have kept the secret, knowing how important it was, besides which it was indispensable if we were to embark the men in good time, as your Majesty ordered.
The state of affairs is now so different that it is meet your Majesty should be aware of it, in order that you may instruct the marquis of Santa Cruz to come in great force. This will be necessary, in case the English and the rebels form a junction, so that, with the help of God, your Majesty may carry off the victory.
They have no foreign troops yet in England. I send enclosed my latest intelligence from there, although your Majesty will have advices from Don Bernardino (de Mendoza) and elsewhere.
This delay (i.e., in the coming of the Armada) is causing the total ruin of the province of Flanders, and is hardly less disastrous to the rest. The country can bear the burden but for a short time longer. The worst of everything is the lack of money. The cost of maintaining the boats, the keep of the soldiers, besides Mucio (the duke of Guise), Lorraine, (fn. 12) arrangements with Germans, etc., is so great that it will be necessary for your Majesty to provide a large sum of money. If we run short, as, indeed, we are doing, your Majesty may be sure that something very untoward will happen, and all the past expense and trouble will be fruitless. The only thing I have been able to do is to send to Antwerp the Inspector-General, Juan Bantista de Tassis, to try to get what money he can from the merchants there ; but there is no certainty of this, as I lack warrants (asignaciones), and in any case the sum would be insufficient.— Bruges, 31st January 1588.
210. Duke Of Parma to the King.
The intelligence which I receive from all quarters seems to prove that the queen of England really desires to conclude peace ; and that her alarm and the expense she is incurring are grieving her greatly. But after all, it cannot be believed that she is turning good except under the stress of necessity, as I have written to your Majesty on former occasions. If the negotiations are opened at once we shall at least be able to see what they are up to ; and if matters look promising it will be in your Majesty's hands to choose the course that suits you best. The first difficulty raised is the question of the place of meeting. I should prefer Antwerp. I understand that Saint Aldegonde and Longorius have been appointed by the rebel States to attend the conferences on behalf of those provinces. Your Majesty may be sure that if they come I shall try my best to get into negotiation with them, and even to make some terms with them. I do not think, however, that we can base much hope on this, only the assurance that I shall leave no stone unturned to bring them to the right road.—Brussels, 31st January 1588.
S.D. End of Jan.?
Paris Archives, K. 1568.
211. Duke Of Parma to Bernardino De Mendoza.
The last despatches from his Majesty which you forwarded to me contained an instruction that I should give my opinion as to whether it would be advisable to send a trustworthy person to the king of Scotland with a letter of credence from me, setting forth the efforts that were being made to avenge the death of his mother in his interest, and that if the remedy had been long delayed it was only because the nature of the case rendered it necessary that it should be so ; and although he (the King) had not been directly informed hitherto of his Majesty's intentions in this respect, the reason of this was that secrecy was so vitally necessary. There was, however, no doubt that, urged by his natural obligations, he (king James) would do everything in his power to aid the execution when the moment arrived, and thus to avenge himself upon the queen of England, who keeps him so oppressed by her faction, whilst at the same time showing his gratitude to his Majesty for the said intention of avenging the death of his (James') mother for his sake. At the same time, I and the other servants of his Majesty are anxious to serve him (James) in this matter ; but without entering into other particulars or mentioning the question of his succession or religion. The person to be sent should be instructed to ascertain minutely the strength and present position of the Catholic nobles, trying to encourage them to persevere in their good intentions. His Majesty suggests to me that Colonel Semple, who is a servant of his, may be entrusted with the mission, and as I had already decided to send the Colonel to you when the earl of Morton arrived there (i.e., in Paris) this suggestion comes very opportunely. I am very glad that he (Semple) has not yet left, (fn. 13) as I can now send this letter by him, informing you of his Majesty's suggestion, in order that you may discuss it with the earl of Morton and Semple, and we may thus decide whether it will be advisable or not to send such a message by Semple to the King (James). You are so thoroughly well informed of every detail of this matter that I can do no better than refer the decision to you. He (Semple) takes with him my letter of credence, which he may use (i.e., in Scotland) if it is considered desirable.
My own opinion is that if the present position and humour of the King (James) will allow of the visit being paid, it can do no harm, and may enable a better idea to be obtained of what may be expected of him, as well as of the Catholic lords. If, however, it is decided to send Semple with the mission, it is important that he should go and return speedily, and you can press diligence upon him, with such other injunctions as your experience and dexterity suggest as being necessary. He has simply been told here that he is to make the journey, if you order him to do so, and to follow your instructions ; but no particulars whatever have been communicated to him.


  • 1. Colonel Semple had arrived in Paris a month before this letter was written, this being a reply to Mendoza's letter on the subject of 6th December 1588.
  • 2. This may well be understood. It might indeed almost be supposed to be a joke at the expense of the poor Pretender, as Raleigh was opposed to his claims, which Essex espoused. Raleigh accompanied the expedition to Lisbon in 1589, but took no part in the land operations.
  • 3. The "droit d'aubaine" was the right of the king of France to inherit all property belonging to a foreign subject dying intestate in his dominions.
  • 4. Philip II. has written in the margin against this :—"Perhaps he says this with reference to the 2,000 ducats,"
  • 5. The alleged secret commission to the duke of Parma said by Mendoza to have been entrusted to Sir John Herbert. See letter, 13th September 1587, page 140.
  • 6. From Antonio de Vega.
  • 7. Sir John Maitland.
  • 8. This was exactly the case. Howard remained at anchor off Margate for a considerable time.
  • 9. The mercenary army raised for the Hugueuot cause by Hans Casimir, and commanded by Von Dohna, had been unable to effect a junction with Henry of Navarre, Guise being in their rear, whilst the troops of Henry III. were in front, opposing the passage of the Loire. In these circumstances the Swiss mercenaries, who formed the bulk of the army, were bribed by Henry III. to desert the Huguenots and return home, on payment to them of 400,000 ducats. The German reiters thus abandoned, were surprised by Guise's army and great numbers were slaughtered with the help of the peasantry. Henry III. gave the remainder of them a safe conduct on their promise to retire ; but as soon as they crossed the French frontier and entered the Franche-Comté, they were cut to pieces by the troops of the League. The Frenchmen referred to in letter were doubtless the body of French Huguenot refugees under Chatillon, the son of Coligny, who had led the van of the mercenaries into France.
  • 10. By a mistake of the ciphering clerk, Mucio (the cipher name for the duke of Guise) has been substituted for Nuncio. This error has been noted by the King, who in a long marginal note, says surely Mucio has nothing to do with it and it must mean Nnueio, as it obviously does.
  • 11. In the King's hand :—"According to this, then, he must be dead. If so he will be a great loss, and we shall need means for communicating with the other." The other was, of course, the English ambassador Stafford, with whom Charles Arnndell had carried on communication for Mendoza. The King had been informed of Arundell's death, but had apparently forgotten it.
  • 12. That is to say, the Spanish subsidies paid through Parma to the army of the League in Lorraine, etc. for the purpose of preventing an amicable settlement in France.
  • 13. Semple had been sent on from Paris to the duke of Parma, and was now sent back to Mendoza with this letter.