Simancas: February 1588, 16-29

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

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.

'Simancas: February 1588, 16-29', in Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 4, 1587-1603, (London, 1899) pp. 207-225. British History Online [accessed 4 March 2024]

February 1588, 16-29

16 Feb.
Estado 455.
219. Duke Of Medina Sidonia to Juan De Idiaquez.
I reply to your letters of the 11th. In that which you write to me by his Majesty's orders you inform me that the malady of the marquis of Santa Cruz has become so serious that but small hope is now entertained of his recovery ; and you say how deeply his loss will be felt, as the Armada will be ready to sail by the middle of this month, and to delay its departure will be inadvisable for a host of reasons. His Majesty has therefore, you say, fixed his eyes upon me to take charge of the expedition and to perform the hopedfor great service to God and his Majesty by joining hands with the force under the duke of Parma and attacking England ; the intention being for the fleet which is being fitted out here (i.e, San Lucar) to join that at Lisbon under my command. In reply to all this I first humbly thank his Majesty for having thought of me for so great a task, and I wish I possessed the talents and strength necessary for it. But, sir, I have not health for the sea, for I know by the small experience that I have had afloat that I soon become sea-sick, and have many humours. Besides this, your worship knows, as I have often told you verbally and in writing, that I am in great need, so much so that when I have had to go to Madrid I have been obliged to borrow money for the journey. My house owes 900,000 ducats, and I am therefore quite unable to accept the command. I have not a single real I can spend on the expedition. (fn. 1)
Apart from this, neither my conscience nor my duty will allow me to take this service upon me. The force is so great, and the undertaking so important, that it would not be right for a person like myself, possessing no experience of seafaring or of war, to take charge of it. So, sir, in the interest of his Majesty's service, and for the love I bear him, I submit to you, for communication to him, that I possess neither aptitude, ability, health, nor fortune, for the expedition. The lack of any one of these qualities would be sufficient to excuse me, and much more the lack of them all, as is the case with me at present. But, besides all this, for me to take charge of the Armada afresh, without the slightest knowledge of it, of the persons who are taking part in it, of the objects in view, of the intelligence from England, without any acquaintance with the ports there, or of the arrangements which the Marquis has been making for years past, would be simply groping in the dark, even if I had experience, seeing that I should have suddenly, and without preparation, to enter a new career. So, sir, you will see that my reasons for declining are so strong and convincing in his Majesty's own interests, that I cannot attempt a task of which I have no doubt I should give a bad account. I should be travelling in the dark and should have to be guided by the opinions of others, of whose good or bad qualities I know nothing, and which of them might seek to deceive and ruin me. His Majesty has other subjects who can serve him in this matter, with the necessary experience ; and if it depended upon me I should confer the command upon the Adelantado—mayor of Castile, with the assistance of the same Councillors as are attached to the Marquis. He (the Adelantado) would be able to take the fleet from here (San Lucar), and join that at Lisbon ; and I am certain that the Adelantado would have the help of God, for he is a very good Christian, and a just man, besides which he has great knowledge of the sea, and has seen naval warfare, in addition to his great experience on land. This is all I can reply to your first letter. I do so with all frankness and truth, as befits me ; and I have no doubt that his Majesty, in his magnanimity, will do me the favour which I humbly beg, and will not entrust to me a task of which, certainly, I should not give a good account ; for I do not understand it, know nothing about it, have no health for the sea, and no money to spend upon it.
The galleons here will sail as soon as the infantry arrives ... The Levantine ships will wait for them as the Cape is so infested with corsairs that I have not ventured to let them go. The governor of Algarve writes to me, under date of the 10th, that there were there 22 small vessels, and he learns from the captured sailors they had sent ashore that they were expecting Drake this week with 30 ships.
It is of the utmost importance that galleys should go with the Armada ; and it will be well, as you say, to take four of the Spanish galleys for that purpose, or even eight, which, joined with those at Lisbon, would be 12. They would be of the greatest use and value.
I conclude that in view of the representations I make to you here, his Majesty will permit me not to undertake the voyage. I am incapable of doing so for the various reasons I have stated. I therefore do not reply to your question about the defence of this coast during my absence, as I shall remain here to attend to it myself, and serve his Majesty here as I have always done.
The proposal has been kept secret as you direct, and I send this reply with all speed after commending the matter very earnestly to God.—San Lucar, 16th February 1588.
Note.—The marquis of Santa Cruz died before the above letter was written, and on the 18th February the King sent a peremptory order to Medina Sidonia to depart at once, and take charge of the Armada at Lisbon, making everything ready for sailing by the 1st March at latest. The Duke made no further resistance, saying that he had satisfied his conscience by confessing his incapacity. In his letter of acceptance he rather ominously expresses a hope that he and the duke of Parma will agree well together. The King replied (11th March) very graciously, encouraging the Duke to exert himself to make the expedition a success for the cause of God. He points out to him the great example set by his (the Duke's) ancestors, refers to his "great qualities and zealous past services," and regrets that he himself is prevented by his duties at home from accompanying the Armada. The King adds in his own hand the following words : "I am quite confident that, thanks to your great zeal and care, you will succeed very well. It cannot be otherwise in a case so entirely devoted to God as this is. On this account, and in view of what is contained in the letter, there is no reason for you to trouble about anything but the preparation of the expedition, and I am quite sure you will be diligent in this respect."
18 Feb.
Paris Archives, K. 1448.
220. The King to Benardino De Mendoza.
With regard to the return of the reiters to France, you will do all in your power to prevent it, as it would be very injurious to the Catholic cause, and objectionable in many respects. You will set aflcat, and also carefully suggest to the new confidant, the idea that the return of the reiters would be against the welfare of France, and that it would be unadvisable to impoverish England by her finding the money, as she must pay for such a levy. You will manage this in the way you see most convenient, letting me know the result. (fn. 2)
I am awaiting with interest to know whether you have penetrated the meaning and result of the interviews between the Christian King and the English ambassador for the purpose of rendering closer the alliance between the two countries. If the business seemed serious enough you will doubtless have advised me and the duke of Parma with your usual care.
It was very desirable to impede Don Antonio's departure from England, and your answer to the man who asked you the question was excellent. Continue in the same way, and if Friar Diego Carlos goes to France try, through Sampson and others, to frighten him with ideas of the risk Don Antonio will run in France, reminding him of what happened in Brittany, and alarming him generally.
You might even, in a roundabout way, through Julio, signify to the English ambassador, that, as the French were so anxious to bring Don Antonio to France, it would be to his mistress' interests not to let him go. You will choose the best means and arguments to attain this end, and get Julio to make use of them, since he seems to keep friendly with you. This is well ; and you will do all in your power to keep him very well disposed, as you have hitherto done.
You acted wisely in welcoming the earl of Morton. As he is so good a Catholic he will, doubtless, be willing to aid personally in the object aimed at. You will encourage him in his good resolutions, and will follow the duke of Parma's instructions as to the reply to be given to him. Report to me what is done, and also as to the contents of the letters sent to you by the duke of Parma from Lord Claude Hamilton and George Earl of Huntly. Let me know also the verbal message brought by the bearer of the letters, if he has arrived after his illness.—Madrid, 18th February 1588.
221. The King to Bernardino De Mendoza.
Letters of 30th ultimo and 1st instant duly received, with enclosures. Thanks for care in sending advices from all parts, as is needful in such times as there be. (fn. 3)
I note the forces which are collected in England, and the intention they have of attacking us on the coast of Spain. If their force is no stronger than your reports from so trustworthy a source affirm, it would not be altogether a bad thing for us to divide them. For this very reason it may be inferred that they will not do as they say, but in any case they will find us quite ready to receive them if they come. But it is of the utmost importance that we should know what decision they adopt. Pray use every effort to discover this and write with all speed.—Madrid, 18th February 1588.
18 Feb.
Paris Archives, K. 1567. French.
222. Robert Bruce to Bernardino De Mendoza.
I wrote to you in October by Captain Thomas (Forster) on behalf of the Catholic lords, and subsequently, at the end of November, I again repeated the information, with additions, and sent the letter by the Biscayner, Francis Garie Since then I have received your favour written in September, which arrived at the beginning of December, and yours of 18th November which came to hand at the end of January. We await with great devotion the replies to the abovementioned letters, but no other matter has occurred since which made it necessary to write, nor has any opportunity presented itself of sending a letter. I have shown your letters to Lord Claude, and to the earl of Huntly, who thank you for them. They and their adherents persist in their original resolution, and will submit to the will of his Catholic Majesty ; as the English and Scottish heretics, seeing the power that threatens them, are now trying to destroy all the Catholics in the island, and especially in Scotland, in order that the forces of his Catholic Majesty may be deprived of assistance when they arrive here. If, therefore, the support agreed upon does not arrive quickly, the Catholic lords will be obliged to defend themselves prematurely, under overwhelming difficulties, and to the great risk of the cause, as their enemies are in a strong position, being armed with the authority of the King, the ministers, and the queen of England, who has provided them with gold, and has a force ready to launch upon the Catholics in union with them. If the principal body cannot be sent soon, pray send such men and money as may be ready, or at least the latter, to enable your Catholic friends to hold out. The bearer is in haste, and I cannot therefore write to you more at length, but you will learn from him, through the archbishop of Glasgow, many particulars touching the state of the Catholics and the proceedings of the bishop of Dunblane with the King, of whom there is now little hope if he be not withdrawn from the hands of the heretics. This will be attempted, in order to facilitate matters pending the arrival of letters from you. The heretics, to render themselves stronger, have united the Church and State. (fn. 4) The Catholics are doing their best to hold out, but unless your support arrives very soon they will be done for, in consequence of the powers against them. They therefore supplicate you to reply effectively to their letters, and to do all that time will permit for the cause of religion, and the service of his Catholic Majesty.—St. John's (Perth), 18th February 1588.
22 Feb.
Estado, 594.
223. Duke Of Parma to the King.
The preparations here are now completed, and I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of the marquis of Santa Cruz with your Majesty's armada. The munitions are on board, the transport boats are collected at Dunkirk and the Sluys, and the men are concentrated near the ports ready for embarkation. The English preparations have been carried on apace, and in face of their strength I am, of course, powerless without the Armada to protect the passage across. My troops have dwindled sorely, and do not now exceed 18,000 men ; and, owing to exposure and evil lodging, they continue to die in large numbers, but the rest are still in good heart and spirits. It will be necessary for the Armada to come strong enough to assure the victory, and the Marquis must remember that the English and the rebels are now strong and fully prepared with their fleets. I am greatly pressed for money ; as without it I cannot even provide the men with the necessary food, for lack of which they must perish.
I am raising 400,000 crowns from the Antwerp merchants, but I have to pay very high interest. Of this sum I shall be obliged to give the duke of Lorraine 60,000 crowns on account of the 150,000 owing to him ; and for the extra troops he is raising 80,000 more will be wanted. Our own German levies are in a state of mutiny for their pay, and must be paid at once, I must have, moreover, at least 25,000 crowns for artillery, stores, &c.—Ghent, 22nd February 1588. (fn. 5)
22 Feb.
Estado, 950.
224. Count De Olivares to the King.
In my last interview with the Pope he spoke to me of the current rumour that your Majesty was making peace with the queen of England, and expressed his displeasure thereat, especially on account of your Majesty's prestige, which he thought would not be maintained even though Holland and Zeeland were restored to you. I thanked his Holiness warmly for the interest he took in your Majesty's prestige, and said I was quite sure your Majesty yourself would not lose sight of it. I had, however, no word from your Majesty on the subject which hinted at peace, or anything in the slightest degree contrary to the messages I had given him from your Majesty. I said that negotiations for peace were as frequently carried on with the intention of making war as otherwise. I did not know what else to say to him. He always ends his conversation on the subject by expressing his hope of success if we have to fight.
The new bishop of Cassano (fn. 6) has communicated to me the letters sent to him by the bishop of Ross, which letters had passed between the latter Bishop and the king of Scotland respecting the King's conversion, and a letter written by the bishop of Ross to the Pope. Copies of all of them are enclosed. The bishop of Cassano told me that Cardinal Mondovi and he had agreed that nothing else should be given to the Pope without my concurrence. As I saw the letter did not contain anything of importance, I told them to give it to his Holiness, so that they shall not be able to say that I wished to conceal it from him, or that I have any objection to the conversion of the King.
As the Pope is of opinion that this Bishop (i.e., Cassano) may be useful in the English business, he has prevented him from going to reside in his diocese, as I had informed the Bishop from your Majesty that he was to do. As I judged that your Majesty's intention in giving him the bishopric was rather to get rid of him (since I see nothing in his services to your Majesty which has deserved it), I told the Pope that I had orders from your Majesty to send the Bishop to his diocese, that having been the intention with which you had appointed him. The Pope thereupon promised to send him thither. Allen says the Bishop causes him no end of trouble, because, although he is a man of good life, his ambition and want of tact are terrible.
Allen has sent me word that Englefield had communicated to him three points upon which he had been instructed by your Majesty to ask Allen's opinion ; the Cardinal being desirous that I should know everything that passed has informed me thereof. The first point is how the enterprise should be effected, which question the Cardinal knows is a mere compliment ; the second is about the succession (i.e., to the Crown of England), to which he replies that he submits the point entirely to your Majesty, and that after the first appointment is made by your Majesty the Infanta and Parliament can make what future arrangements may be necessary ; the third question is, what persons of rank and position should be promoted to higher titles, and receive grants of the confiscated estates of the heretics. Allen has considered this point with me, and is of opinion that it can only be settled after the event, as otherwise we should banish hope from those who are anxious for conversion, whilst those who have hitherto appeared worthy, may, in the interim, fall away, and others, at present unknown, may prove deserving. The Cardinal, however, is of opinion that, as soon as the conquest is successfully effected, a beginning should be made by conferring some titles and rewards, and that the bishoprics should be granted to worthy and independent men, so that a parliament might be summoned as early as possible to settle what may be necessary.
He (Allen) has frequently spoken to me on this point of filling the principal offices, but I have deferred writing to your Majesty about it until the time for action was near. I thought also that your Majesty with your great memory would certainly have kept it in view, although it is so long since you were there (i.e, in England). Nevertheless, I send the statement to your Majesty with my remarks thereon. Cardinal Allen also tells me that Englefield persuades him that on his way to England it would be better for him to pass through Spain and salute your Majesty. Allen himself (unless your Majesty wishes otherwise) is more inclined to go direct from here, seeing that his speedy arrival there will be advantageous, always supposing that your Majesty should not intend him to accompany the Infanta In any case I return to the need for providing him with money for the journey, for the Pope will not do so, and he himself has nothing. Even the abbacy, which your Majesty granted him, he says, is insufficient to pay the pension and charges upon it. He has given me a long account of it, and has asked me to write about a supplement. Before doing so, however, I have submitted the figures to count de Miranda, who gave me the information about the value of the abbacy which I wrote to your Majesty.— Rome, 22nd February 1588.
25 Feb.
Paris Archives, K. 1567.
225. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
As I wrote to your Majesty, it was necessary for me to have an interview with the new confidant to open up the communication. This has been done, and he is now assured, whilst I am enlightened without any suspicion being possible. I have given him the 2,000 ducats as ordered by your Majesty, and from what I can see the money will be well spent.
Julio writes me by letters of 7th instant from England, (fn. 7) that the Treasurer told him that Drake had not left, and that for his part he would do his best to prevent him from going, as his voyages were only profitable to himself and his companions, but an injury to the Queen, as they only irritated foreign Princes. He said the English ambassador in France was of the same opinion. They had written to the ambassador asking him to try and discover when the Spanish Armada would be ready, and let them know. He said that although they had brought Scotch affairs into a quiet condition, they were afraid the King might be carrying on some secret negotiations with Spain, and they instruct the ambassador to discover if this be so.
The Commissioners were leaving for Flanders to treat of peace, but at the instance of the Treasurer and Walsingham the verbal mission which he knew had been entrusted to Amias Paulet for the duke of Parma had been revoked, as it was considered that the time had now passed for such child's play, and it would be better to proceed straightforwardly if your Majesty did so. If peace was made, France might do as she liked, but until he (the ambassador) received news that terms (with Spain) had been settled, he was to continue the efforts he (the English ambassador) was making to bring about a good understanding between the King (of France) and his mistress. With this object he (the ambassador) was to endeavour to learn how the question of peace was regarded in Spain, and how the duke of Parma would proceed. The new confidant informs me that in the audience the English ambassador had with the King, whilst speaking on the subject of piracy, the King repeated that he hoped the Queen would use her good offices to prevail upon Bearn to agree to the edict, and his (the King's) wishes ; as in this way he could bring about peace in this country, and he would then be free to help her in compliance with the alliance between them. The ambassador replied that he had already written to this effect, and would do so again. He then took the opportunity of making the representation which I conveyed to your Majesty in mine of 30th as having been sent to me by Julio. The substance of it was the suspicion inspired in him by your Majesty's armaments, because even if you did not employ your forces in aiding the League in France, but directed them against England, it would always be prejudicial to France. The King replied that he would discuss the matter with his mother, and send him a reply later.
The Nuncio tells me that he hears the English ambassador here has made great offers to the King to bring about a closer union with his mistress against your Majesty, but that the King would not listen to it. But this is only false coin they foist upon the Nuncio, as my advices prove ; for the King himself it is who is seeking a closer alliance, under cover of an attempt to reconcile Bearn, as he doubtless thinks it will be imprudent to disclose himself entirely, for fear the Queen might make use of his approaches to better her position in the peace negotiations. As soon as I hear from the confidant what the King replies, I will communicate it to your Majesty. I am writing also to count de Olivares in case the Nuncio should send this intelligence of his to the Pope.—Paris, 25th February 1588.
226. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
I have advices from England of 4th and 7th instant (N.S.) saying that the Admiral had returned from Greenwich, where the Court was, to Queenborough, where the fleet of 52 sail was assembled. The total number of soldiers and sailors on board does not exceed 4,000 men ; and as the ships are old, the great weight of the artillery and stores they carry had told upon them, so that it would be dangerous for them to attempt any great voyage. It was believed that the Admiral would not again leave Queenborough until he had news that the duke of Parma's fleet was ready. In the meanwhile he would receive a regular supply of victuals from shore, so as not to consume what was on board the ships. This was the course I reported before would be adopted. The Admiral assures the Queen that if peace is not made by the Commissioners, he will burn the ships that the duke of Parma had in the Sluys, Dunkirk, and other ports ; and, although this is not very feasible, I have warned the duke of Parma of it some days ago, and also of the capture at Dover of an Englishman named Shean, who had been sent to England by Colonel Stanley. They took him to the Tower of London, where he had been examined by Wotton, but his confession is kept very secret. The three Queen's ships which Drake was to command had dropped down the Channel towards Plymouth to join the rest, but my advices say that the forces they were to carry had not yet gone on board ; this being confirmed by my new confidant. He also tells me that Drake had not departed, and that things were not in condition to enable the people of the West Country to sail soon. The maintenance of the soldiers, now that there was no commerce or navigation, was being felt severely, and the common talk was that, until the Spaniards came to rule the island, there would be no quietude or business. He (the new confidant) adds that the English are much given to superstitious prophecy, and are saying that the old prophecy about the soldiers who are to dominate England, coming with snow on the crests of their helmets, is now to be fulfilled, as the end of February or March is usually the time when it snows most in England.
The Queen had again offered the king of Scots the title of duke of Lancaster, with 20,000 crowns pension a year ; and that Parliament should restore him to the same position as that he occupied before his mother's execution, which had incapacitated him from succeeding to the English Crown. In order to satisfy his honour in this, and other respects, the Queen would write him a letter in her own hand setting it forth, and would send it by an ambassador. She would also send another letter to the Christian King to a similar effect. The king of Scots answered that, considering the death of his mother, he could only be restored to his honour by the Queen and Parliament acknowledging him as heir to the Crown ; to which the English replied that this was rather a point of profit than of honour, and he had no right to raise it in a discussion as to his rehabilitation.
Lord Hunsdon, who was on the Scottish border, was discussing with the earl of Arran, (fn. 8) formerly Chancellor, and a great enemy of the present Chancellor, an arrangement by which, if he sides with the Queen, she will oppose the Chancellor and promote Arran's return to Court and to his office.
The English ambassador here had audience of the King on the 15th, Villeroy and Gondi alone being present. Villeroy after a short time sent for the Queen-Mother, and the King presently followed him, attended only by a captain of his guard, whom I met in the Queen-Mother's courtyard after the audience with her. As it is very unusual for the King to visit her at such hours, it is probable that they have some important matter in hand with the English. I will try to discover what it is.—Paris, 25th February, 1588.
25 Feb.
Paris Archives, K. 1568.
227. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
In accordance with your Majesty's instructions with regard to the queen of Scotland's servants, I caused Miss Curle to write to her companion Kennedy, asking how she had been received in Scotland, and saying that for her own part she (Curle) is very comfortable in France, and hopes that it will be profitable to her (Kennedy) to have been recommended by their late mistress to she knows whom. This will have the effect of discovering whether Kennedy intends to return hither or not, and I will duly advise your Majesty.
Secretary Curle and his sister have concluded their business here, and for this reason, and because I thought it advisable to ensure him, I told him of the allowance of 40 crowns a month your Majesty had granted him. I thought also it would be well to oblige his sister, as they are the two persons who can depose most positively as to the intentions of the Queen, and I therefore told Miss Curle that your Majesty had granted her 300 crowns a year, or 25 crowns a month. This was in accordance with what I wrote to your Majesty on the 22nd December, in reply to your Majesty's despatch of 27th November, to the effect that we could not give less than this to any of the ladies-in-waiting ; and as Plato says that "distributive justice must be in harmonious proportion," and if the apothecary Gorion had been granted 40 crowns a month, the ladies-in-waiting ought to have had much more. This made me fix Gorion's allowance at 20 crowns, with which he is perfectly satisfied, as are also Secretary Curle and his sister. I told all three of them that the grant was to be payable as from the first day of this year, which gives them only a month in advance. They are very pleased at this, however, as they look upon it as a windfall, whilst this 85 crowns saves your Majesty from having to make them any advance or recompense for the time they have waited. They asked me where they were to be paid, and I told them that I had your Majesty's orders to pay the pensions and would do my best to do so with all punctuality, which doubled their joy. I will attend to it, as I think it will be beneficial to your Majesty's interests to keep them in good humour. If I have erred in curtailing with the mean fist of Don Bernardino de Mendoza the bounteous liberality of your Majesty's royal hand, I humbly crave pardon, as I have acted for the best, and if your Majesty wishes Miss Curle and Gorion to enjoy further benefits from your magnanimity the door still remains open.
Curle and his sister intimate that they will be very glad to leave France if your Majesty will permit them, and I believe Gorion would also be glad to go. I am afraid if he stays here long his friends will force him to marry, as he is a young man, and he could not then live out of France, his native place. If your Majesty only wishes to make use of him to depose to what he knows, there would be no objection to this, and after he had made his deposition he could enjoy his pension for the rest of his life where he pleased.
I had already advanced very far in my efforts to obtain a copy of the queen of Scotland's letter to his Holiness, when I received your Majesty's despatch—Gorion had aided me very much in this, and I am now able to enclose a copy of the said letter. I can assure your Majesty that its retention by the archbishop of Glasgow has not been for any cunning object (as he is very straightforward and honest with me, so far as I can judge), but only to see whether there would be any funds left on the balancing of the accounts of the Queen's dowry here, that he might send the money by the person she indicated for the punctual fulfilment of her instructions. I have agreed with the archbishop of Glasgow and an intimate friend of his, a Scots Jesuit father named Tirius (Tyrie), in all that has been done in the matter ; and in the renunciation of the Queen in favour of your Majesty. I have never lost sight, however, that he is a Scotsman, and that in all negotiations the aim should be to make the other party think that what you desire will suit him best. I have therefore continued to point out the queen of Scotland's fervent zeal for the promotion of the Catholic faith, and her firmness to that end ; inasmuch as the possession of an only son to hand down her royal succession to posterity had not prevented her from the heroic operation in order to convert the island. This was, I said, a trial almost incredible for a mother, and even for many men, and it was their duty to publish it far and wide as a testimony to her zeal and a proof of her martyrdom. They received these arguments very favourably, and really what I say is fully borne out by the Queen's own confession, which would soften a heart of marble. My efforts in this direction caused, as soon as they found there was no money to defray the doctor's journey to Rome with the letter, the ambassador to come to me and say that it would be better to hand it to the Nuncio sealed, accompanied by another letter from him (i.e., the archbishop of Glasgow) to the Pope, simply saying that the letter in question was from his mistress, which he had to forward to the Pope ; and he proposed to send another copy to Cardinal Mondovi, as protector of the Scottish nation in Rome, asking him to pray the Pope not to make known the channel through which the letter had reached him, in order to avoid injuring the queen of Scotland's servants.
As I already had a copy of the letter and the Nuncio is a Venetian attached to this King (i.e. of France), and Cardinal Mondovi is a confidant of count de Olivares, I told the Archbishop (of Glasgow) that it would be better for the letter not to pass through many hands, and that it would be preferable to send the original direct to Cardinal Mondovi, sealed, with the letter he (the Archbishop) would write to his Holiness ; and the Cardinal would hand them to the Pope, and take such action with regard to them as he (the Archbishop) desired, when he gave his Holiness the translation of them, as they were written in French. I also said that if he liked I would ask the count de Olivares to take such steps in the matter as he (the Archbishop) considered desirable.
He accepted my suggestion, and begged me advise count de Olivares of the going of the letter, so that he might co-operate with Cardinal Mondovi to prevent the matter from being made public. I said I would do so, and asked him to inform me the day the letter was despatched, so that my advices might arrive in due time. He has done so, and I have managed to delay the letter until it could go by a trustworthy person, who takes it with all speed to Rome, so as to avoid the risk of ordinary posts, whose packets are sometimes lost between here and Lyons. It leaves here on the 28th. I have managed all this, and have obtained the copy of the letter with the utmost artifice, so as to make the (Scots) ambassador think that I am interested in the safe arrival of the letter in the hands of his Holiness, not on account of your Majesty's interest, but out of the affection I bore to his mistress. I have been most careful not to arouse suspicion, so that my anxiety for the going of the letter should not lead him to discuss the matter with anyone who might have recommended him to retain the letter. Although I did not breathe a word to a soul, I must confess that I feared, in my own mind, that he would do so. If I had conveyed my ideas to your Majesty before I had succeeded in my objects I should simply have been recounting dreams. I have written to count de Olivares, in the terms your Majesty will see by the enclosed copy ; (fn. 9) so that when he speaks to Mondovi about the letter the Cardinal may not suspect that the Archbishop (of Glasgow) told me he was sending it, and to prevent Mondovi from cogging the dice.
Charles Arundell left no sons ; he was not married. The money he lent to the queen of Scotland, as I wrote on the 9th ultimo, had been taken by him from the queen of England's funds, he having been treasurer of a province. Since he left England the Treasurer claimed the money from his sureties. There were 15 sureties— amongst others, Arundell's elder brother, and other relatives. They had to pay 50l. each. Charles Arundell often told me he wished very much the Queen (of Scots) would pay him, that he might settle with the sureties, as he said he had left no other debt behind him in England ; as he also assured his confessor. I went to see him in his illness, and to tell him that your Majesty had ordered the 2,000 crowns to be paid to him, but he was then unconscious. If your Majesty orders the 2,000 crowns to be paid, pro rata, to the sureties, the queen of Scotland's debt will really be extinguished, and both her soul and that of Charles Arundell disburdened. In order that this may be carried out punctually I have written to Arundel's elder brother in England, asking who are the sureties.
Please instruct me as to the 3 months and 25 days' pension owing to Arundel when he died. He left a few trifling debts here, and servants whose wages are owing.
This King gave up his right of "aubaine" in favour of the discharge of Arundell's conscience, at the request of the English ambassador, who, they tell me, is obliged to me, as he was a relative of his wife, for not having abandoned Arundel on his death-bed, and for having provided money from the allowance owing to him for his care and maintenance during his illness.
The last Pope gave 900 crowns a year to the Scottish college of Pont Monçon, and this is continued by the present Pope. The queen of Scotland used to pay them 400 (crowns?) a year, and 300 for Scottish students at this university (of Paris). There are at Pont Monçon 23 or 24 Scottish students, as no more can be kept with the 900 crowns, which is all they have now. Any alms your Majesty may deign to give to increase the number would be very gratefully received. It is important for the conversion of Scotland to bind them to your Majesty.—Paris, 28th February 1588.
S.D. Paris Archives, K. 1568. 228. Bernardino De Mendoza to Count De Olivares.
This letter will be conveyed to you by the means through which you received my other most important letters. Under cover for Cardinal Mondovi there is being sent a letter written by the queen of Scotland to his Holiness in her own hand before her death. It is of the highest importance to his Majesty's service that your lordship should take extreme care that this letter shall reach the hands of his Holiness, and that on no pretext whatever, of translating it or otherwise, should the original be lost sight of. As this is of the most vital importance I am sure that you will manage it with the prudence and dexterity that the service demands, and will not divulge the details of the letter, when you learn them, to a greater extent than you will see is convenient, having regard to the attitude of the Pope in the matter and to the feeling at the time in the Papal Court. If you are not as yet so fully informed on the subject as I am, I doubt not that his Majesty will shortly send you the necessary information.
In order that Cardinal Mondovi may not imagine when he receives the despatch who gave the information about it, do not in conversation with him open out any further than by saying that I had lately written that advices had been received from England that certain letters left by the queen of Scots had been forwarded to France, amongst which was one for his Holiness ; and you expect that if this letter has not already arrived in Rome by a recent ordinary post, it will probably arrive by the next. As Cardinal Mondovi is the protector of the Spanish (fn. 10) nation, and the affair will doubtless pass through his hands, you may thus through him keep in touch with it and so proceed as seems most fitting.
Pray pardon me for writing in this way to you, who are capable of instructing others, but the service of his Majesty and the importance of the subject must be my excuse.—Paris, S.D.
27 Feb.
Paris Archives, K. 1567.
229. Letter written by Francisco De Valverde (fn. 11) and Pedro De Santa Cruz, Prisoners of War in England, to Bernardino De Mendoza (?).
(After statements as to their parentage and other preliminary matter the letter continues thus—) Santa Cruz was captured in April of last year, 1587, as he was on his voyage from the Canaries to Lisbon as commissary of one of the two ships loaded with wine and vinegar, which cargo he had bought on his Majesty's account. Four English pirates appeared and captured us, so we declared that the cargo belonged to merchants ; the English were going to put us ashore in Spain, but a traitorous Italian Franciscan friar who was with us, and has now turned heretic, said that the merchandise was the property of the King, and they therefore brought us to this country in the belief that we were persons of rank, as we were in the royal service.
Valverde was taken in 1586 in a ship of his own, which he was bringing from the Indies. The ship got separated from the flotilla in a storm and he (Valverde) was also brought to this city of London. Valverde was given into the keeping of Simon Borman, and Santa Cruz to that of John Naunton, merchants, who told us that unless certain Englishmen in Seville were released we should not be set at liberty. In effect two men for whom Valverde was held have been set free, and are now in England ; and Valverde in consequence is now being sent away from England. Of five men for whom Santa Cruz was held four have returned, the fifth man being at liberty, but as he is ill of malignant fever he is unable to make the voyage hither. His name is James Lomas and he is still at Seville, and lodges in the house of the Archbishop's cook ; John Naunton asserts that he (Lomas) is not allowed to leave Seville. Lomas is a partner of Naunton and of John Bort, who have continually taken out two ships to pillage at sea, and have done at least 100,000 ducats' worth of damage on the Spanish coast. We know them to have captured our two wine and vinegar ships, and a large vessel from Brazil loaded with sugar, and another from Santo Domingo with sugar, hides, and ginger, which was driven into the Channel and was carried by the captors to Algiers for sale. Although they assert that they landed the crews, etc., in Spain, they really sold them all with the ship. They have also captured a ship loaded with Malaga raisins, and another with oil and wine. I (i.e., Santa Cruz) beg your lordship, in case James Lomas be still in Seville, that he may be arrested and kept fast until I obtain my liberty. (fn. 12) Even if he comes to England there is a sailor's wife waiting for me whose husband is in the galleys, and who wants me kept till he be set free. When she asks for me Naunton will be just as anxious to give me up to her as she to get me, for there is no justice in this country. James Lomas might be treated in the same way, and be held for the liberty of the poor pilots who were captured by Richard Grenville of Cornwall, and are now held prisoners by him. He is a pirate ; and brought to England 22 Spaniards whom he treated as slaves, making them carry stones on their backs all day for some building operations of his, and chaining them up all night. Twenty of them have died or escaped, but he still keeps the two pilots. If James Lomas be kept fast we shall be released, but not otherwise. An Englishman named Robert Bort also should be seized. He is married and lives at Ayamonte, and has had in his possession a large sum of money belonging to John Naunton and John Bort, concealed since the general embargo ; which money he has sent to them during the last month in specie and wine by a Flemish hulk. With her came three other ships from San Lucar loaded with oil and wine, bringing with them all the Englishmen who were arrested in Seville at the time of the embargo. It will be easy to discover who loaded these ships. There was a Flemish flyboat burnt by Drake in Cadiz, which was loaded with merchandise and had been embargoed for the King's service. Your lordship must know that both the flyboat and the cargo belonged to Naunton and Bort ; and Drake has paid them for the loss out of the ship from the Portuguese Indies. I understand now that powers of attorney have been made out for a claim against the King on account of this flyboat.
We understand that your lordship has friends in the city from whom your lordship can learn more about the forces and armaments here than we can tell you. All we can say is, that they are simply a mob of riffraff, with but few leaders, and they are more cunning at banquets than at war. However careful your friends here may be to supply information, we are sure they are not more diligent than the Portuguese Geronimo Pardo, in Lisbon, and Bernaldo Luis, in Madrid, (fn. 13) who are relatives of Dr. Nuñez who lives here. They carefully report hither everything that passes at Madrid and Lisbon, and transmit their news by ships which they send from Spain in the following way. Last year Bernaldo Luis took a ship from here loaded with cloth worth 70,000 ducats. When the ship arrived in Lisbon it was embargoed, on suspicion that the cargo belonged to Englishmen, as in fact it did. But they arrranged so cleverly as to get permission to deal with the merchandise, on condition that neither it nor they were to return to England. They have fulfilled these conditions in the following manner. Geronimo Pardo arrived in London in June last in a ship with a little salt as an excuse, but the rest of the cargo consisted of spices, cochineal, and a large sum of money. He brought on that occasion two packets of letters in cipher, giving a full account of the warlike preparations which were being made in Spain. After translating them, he carried them to Secretary Walsingham, and within two months Pardo was on his way back to Lisbon. Since then he has sent three more ships ; the first with raisins and wine, from Ayamonte, the second with wine and cochineal, and the third from Algarves, with wax and figs in barrels, many of the barrels also containing bags of money. By this latter ship full accounts were sent of the ships, men, and stores for the Armada in Lisbon. The despatches were delivered to Dr. Hector Nuñez whilst he was at a dinner to which he had been invited. He rose in great haste, and went direct to Secretary Walsingham's house. On one occasion we asked a certain Francisco de Tapia, who is a servant and relative of Nuñez, whether there were any letters from Spain from Geronimo Pardo ; and he replied in the following words : "Gentlemen! Geronimo Pardo dares not write anything, little or big, for they have had him straitly shut up in Lisbon on suspicion of being a spy in the service of England ; and the master of a German ship who knew Pardo here, tells us that when he was in Lisbon, Pardo said to him, 'Brother, since you are going to England, it is a matter of life or death to me that you should carry this letter to Dr. Hector Nuñez.' The shipmaster consented, and Pardo then gave him a packet of letters, again repeating that the lives of both depended upon their safe delivery, and their not being seen in Spain. The shipmaster hid the packet in a feather bed and on coming up the Channel in a storm he ran ashore, and lost everything but the lives of his crew. You may see by this how poor Pardo is to be pitied.' This Tapia may be captured in Lisbon as he is going thither in a ship bound for Brazil. She is one of those that went last year with the marquis of Santa Cruz to Terceira, and was captured off Cape Spichel (her crew being sick) and brought to England. She must call at Lisbon, and will be taken from there either by Tapia, Pardo, or by one Pero Freire, of Lisbon. She will land also in a port of Galicia or Portugal a man well disguised in the garb of a pilgrim. The ship and cargo are entirely English property, nothing belongs to the Portuguese who ostensibly own her, but to Mr. Cob, Mr. Richard Mayo, his son-in-law, and other Englishmen. Even if the goods belonged to the Portuguese, it would be well to embargo them, for the latter are all heretics, and attend heretic service. When your lordship was here perhaps some of them went to mass for their own ends, but none of them go now.
Another English ship, called the "Black Crow," is also going to Spain, carrying a false deed of sale and transfer in favour of certain Flemings. She is loaded with goods belonging to the same Englishmen, but only the master is English. She is consigned to Geronimo Pardo. We have all the information here set down from good Catholics, and we swear on this cross ✠ that we are writing it in all zeal for the service of God and our King.—London, 27th February 1588.
Francisco De Valverde.
Pedro De Santa Cruz.
28 Feb.
Paris Archives, K. 1567.
230. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
As the courier was leaving with my letters of 25th, the new confidant informed me that Secretary Pinart would go that same day to carry the King's reply to the English ambassador ; and as neither the news from here nor about English armaments were of great importance, I delayed the courier until I could learn the King's answer. The substance of it is to point out at great length the many attempts that have been made to induce him to take up arms against Elizabeth, not only by neighbouring princes, but also by his own subjects ; but he had always turned a deaf ear to such approaches, and opposed them. In return for these good offices the King desired the Queen to persuade the prince of Bearn to submit to him and become a Catholic, in which case the Guises and the League would be deprived of excuse for their action or for continuing the war ; whilst he (the King) would be able to help her against your Majesty. This step should be taken by the Queen as if of her own motion, as it was not desirable for the King to request her mediation between him and one of his own subjects. The King requested the ambassador personally to write warmly to his mistress on the matter, although Pinart, as a private friend, admitted that it was a hard thing for the Queen to ask Bearn to become a Catholic, but he (the ambassador) must press it upon her. The ambassador replied that if they were acting straightforwardly his mistress would do the same. He would convey the message to her, but he was sure she would not like it. Pinart said that he had heard in Spain that the Queen was in communication with the duke of Parma, and that on this account your Majesty had sent a bastard son of yours to the Netherlands, of whose arrival in Genoa the King had received intelligence. He also heard that the queen of England was determined to make peace with your Majesty, but that they (the French) would make peace first and at her cost, as your Majesty was beseeching them. The ambassador replied that it was hard to believe that the King, who was unable to control his own subjects, should be sought by your Majesty. His mistress, he said, would gladly be at peace with all the world, but if she made terms with Spain she certainly would not run after France. Two ambassadors had gone from Holland, he said, to persuade his mistress not to make peace with your Majesty, and he understood that they had been put up to it from here. This ended the subject, and Pinart complained that the queen of England was aiding another levy of reiters. The ambassador reminded him that he had offered that they (the reiters) should not come to France, but his offer had not been accepted ; and he therefore thought that they (the French) would be glad for them to come. Pinart replied in a rage, "The devil take them ; why did not they stay in Lorraine, where they could have done what was required?" It is evident, from this reply of Pinart's, that what I wrote to your Majesty before was true, namely, that this King was glad for a German heretic army to have come. The new confidant heard all this from both of them, and he assured me that this King has written to his ambassador in England to prevent the Queen from making peace with your Majesty. I have written to Julio in answer to his question as to how he should act in these matters, and what course he should lead them into. I point out to him how little the Queen can trust the French ; in order to prevent any agreement to disturb your Majesty, or for this King to help the Queen —Paris, 28th February 1588.
28 Feb.
Paris Archives, K. 1568.
231. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
Since writing about England on the 25th, I have advices from a person who left London on the 14th, and was on board the fleet that the Admiral has at Queenborough. He confirms from his own observation that the Queen's ships were so ruinous that they had not dared to tell her their condition, and that over a thousand of the men who were to go with the Admiral are still on shore. He had ready 15 Queen's ships, 19 merchantmen, and some pinnaces. In order to arm the Queen's ships they had taken every gun out of the Tower of London, and they even brought down the pieces which were mounted on the White Tower, as they call it. The Queen's arsenals and all the country were very short of powder. It was not known in London on the 14th whether Drake had sailed. He had orders to do so, but it was said he could not put to sea till the end of February.
The Queen had ordered Grenville (an Englishman, who, as I have informed your Majesty, has several times gone on plundering voyages, and was lately on the coast of Spain) to remain with 20 merchantmen and pirate ships on the English coast opposite Ireland.
The intelligence I have obtained from the man verbally is confirmed by letters I have received, and also that it was being said that if the Queen had to continue to maintain her two fleets, she would be obliged to levy fresh taxes on the merchants to pay for them.
The new confidant assures me that Drake has not left.
In case an enemy should succeed in landing, the Queen had arranged that Lord Grey should raise 30,000 men in Sussex, and a similar number should be collected by Colonel Norris in the midlands ; whilst Lord Hunsdon is to gather men on the Scottish border. The only step they have taken yet towards forming these three armies is to warn their militia for service, the men remaining in their homes in the meanwhile. They think that before any enemy could land they would have time to muster their forces.
Two commissioners from the rebel States had arrived from Zeeland to tell the Queen that they did not wish her to treat with your Majesty in their name, and to request her to give up to them the fortresses they had handed over to her, to make peace, (fn. 14) and they would defend them.
The Commissioners from the Queen to the duke of Parma had already been despatched, and were to meet at Dover on the 16th to embark.—Paris, 28th February 1588.
28 Feb.
Estado, 594.
232. Duke Of Parma to Juan De Idiaquez.
I am anxiously awaiting letters from the King and your Lordship to learn what is to be done in his Majesty's service, as the time is getting on so rapidly. I will only now remind you of the importance of the question of money, and of its timely supply, both for the purpose of fulfilling the engagements entered into with merchants, and for the maintenance of the preparations already made, if we are to avoid the trouble and inconvenience which otherwise will, as usual, be caused. (fn. 15) I have set forth all this fully in my other despatches, to which I refer you.
28 Feb.
Paris Archives, K. 1567. French.
233. Robert Bruce to Bernardino De Mendoza.
The heretics of the English faction omit no ruse that the devil himself could design to destroy the Catholics, from the smallest to the greatest. The Catholic lords, the better to defend themselves and divert suspicion, have formed a league with divers earls and barons, who, although heretics, are discontented with the present management of affairs. Reform in the administration is now the professed aim of all our enterprise, until the arrival of your support enables us to promote openly the Catholic religion. The elder Lord Hamilton (fn. 16) especially displays great fervency in the defence of the earl of Huntly, his nephew, and has brought with him for that purpose a great following of heretics, who will embark with us so far, by God's grace, that they will be unable to turn back when it becomes a question of our holy Catholic religion. We have shown Lord Hamilton that the opponents' design is to dismember his house, in order to ruin it more easily afterwards. First, they began against the earl of Morton, his cousin, and now they are persecuting his nephew (Huntly) and Lord Herries. Several heretic lords have adhered to the earl of Huntly, and have promised to obtain liberty of conscience through him, but Lord Hamilton has bound himself further than this by oath in my presence, promising that if the earl of Huntly can obtain adequate support for the purpose, he and his adherents will join him against England. We therefore only await the promised support to do our duty worthily, and we pray you to hasten its coming. In case it cannot be sent at once, we beg you to send a good sum of money to help us to hold out, which money shall only be employed in raising soldiers. Perhaps also you would send what Bailly and I had in Paris ; it would help to a certain extent. (fn. 17)
Some harquebusses and morrions also are wanted.
Postcript, 6th March.—I am going to the Court to-morrow, and will there use my best efforts with God's grace to forward the Catholic faith and the interests of his Catholic Majesty.


  • 1. There is in existence a manuscript book of accounts of the Duke's expenditure in the expedition, which shows that the amount spent by him was 7,827,358 maravedis, equal to about 2,245l. (See Documentos Ineditos, Vol. XIV.)
  • 2. This is in reply to the suggestion of Sir Edward Stafford to Mendoza, mentioned in a former letter, 30th January 1588, that if Philip wishes he will prevent the queen of England from subsidising a new levy of German reiters for the Huguenots.
  • 3. The construction of the sentence is, as will be seen, somewhat clumsy, and the King has underlined the last word, writing against it in the margin :—"I do not understand this word here." This is mentioned as an instance of the great care with which Philip read every word of the despatches and drafts of replies.
  • 4. The appropriation by the Scottish crown of the Church revenues.
  • 5. A letter from the Duke to Idiaquez accompanied the above, saying that he was ready and anxious to set out on the expedition, but complaining that he was ill of worry.
  • 6. The bishop of Cassano was Dr. Owen Lewis, a Welshman. He was a strong opponent of Allen and the Jesuits, and had been raised to one of Philip's Sicilian bishoprics on the King's nomination, with the object, apparently, of removing to a remote diocese an influential advocate of the Scottish party at the Vatican, who were desirous of forcing catholicism upon James and securing to him the inheritance of Great Britain and Ireland.
  • 7. This suggestion that Julio was in England is evidently only a mystification, in case the letter should be waylaid. Julio was, of course, Sir Edward Stafford himself.
  • 8. James Stewart, who at this time was trying to overthrow Sir John Maitland.
  • 9. See following letter.
  • 10. Philip II. has underlined this word and written Scottish in the margin. Certainly Scottish is meant.
  • 11. See this man's report of what he observed in England, under date of 12th April 1588.
  • 12. A marginal note in the King's hand orders this to be done.
  • 13. The King has underlined and called special attention to this passage.
  • 14. In the King's hand :—"This does not fit in here." The position of the words is evidently wrong, doubtless by a mistake of the decipherer. They should follow the word "name."
  • 15. In the King's hand :—"This is the matter which gives me the keenest anxiety. "But in this and in all things, unless the weather frustrates us, I have firm hope in God."
  • 16. Lord John Hamilton, Lord Arbroath.
  • 17. Apparently some funds, perhaps for travelling or other expenses, at the disposal of Charles Bailly and Bruce.