Simancas: March 1588

Pages 225-243

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

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March 1588

2 March.
Estado, 950.
234. Count De Olivares to the King.
I explained to his Holiness the reasons for the delay in the sailing of the Armada, the difficulties in getting so large a fleet together, etc., and assured him that your Majesty was in hope that it would now shortly be at sea with good expectations of success, having regard to the means that had been adopted. But I said the greatness of the necessary preparations had involved very vast expenditure, and the future charge thereupon would be correspondingly heavy. This was said in terms conformable to your Majesty's letter to me. In the best terms that I could devise, so as not to run counter to his humour, and provoke a flat refusal, I dwelt upon this point of the loan of the second million. He replied in general terms, pointing out how extraordinary and unprecedented had been the aid he had already extended to the expedition, but holding me in some hope that he would accede to our request, but without pledging himself in any way, although I tried every possible artifice to induce him to do so. Seeing that I could do no more I ... (fn. 1) turned his words to the best advantage ... appearing to be quite satisfied with them, taking care to give him no opportunity to abate the hopes ... I cast myself at his feet, and said I would write to your Majesty to send the bond (for the loan) hither. But ... still he showed me the customary favour of embracing me. I can assure your Majesty that this was the only course to pursue with him, such is his temper. If I had pressed him further on the matter at that time I should have got but a flat refusal. Although I have brought him so far, I beseech your Majesty not to depend upon anything being obtained from him. I think it will be advisable for your Majesty, however, to send the bond, as I shall continue to work upon the foundation I have laid, and shall do my best to induce him to lend the money, or at least some portion of it. The coming of the bond for the whole sum will strengthen my hands. With regard to the details of the arrangement, I am satisfied that the Pope will expect good security, and I accordingly conferred with John Agustin (Pinelli), and asked him what guarantees he thought would be required. He said he thought the security of the barons or bankers in Naples would be demanded. I hardly know what to think of this. The barons might, perhaps, be settled with in accordance with memorandum enclosed herewith. Juan Agustin thinks that the Pope would not accept the security of the Genoese merchants, however high their credit might be. He (i.e., Pinelli) thinks the Pope would ask for security for a sum somewhat exceeding the amount of the loan, but it is impossible to lay down precise rules for that at present, and the point cannot be submitted to his Holiness at this juncture for fear of frustrating the whole business. It will be necessary for your Majesty to have full instructions sent to me for every eventuality, and I will follow them implicitly. I have thought of the plan of offering the barons a counter indemnity to secure them against loss, without which I fear it will not be easy to obtain so large a sum as this. As soon as certain intelligence comes of the landing of the force from the Armada, every possible diligence shall be exercised in arranging for the duke of Parma to have prompt command of the million subsidy, and John Agustin will certainly do his best in this according to his promise. He, however, is careful to avoid promising anything on the Pope's behalf, as he is of opinion that no money will be obtained from his Holiness until intelligence is received of the landing of the force. As they have learnt that the duke of Parma is engaged in the negotiations mentioned in your Majesty's letter, and that the whole of the nobility of Spain is flocking to the Armada, they are of opinion that the real object of your Majesty is to make peace ; and nothing I can say will induce the Pope to think otherwise. The small amount of credit they give to us is the measure that we should mete out to them.
It will be necessary for your Majesty also to send directions as to the duration of the loan, which cannot be very short, but should be made as short as possible. His Holiness will, I am afraid, not be very free-handed either on this point ; although he has the money, and will only want it to return to the Castle. (fn. 2) As I wrote to Don Juan de Idiaquez, he is so fond of money that he would rather lose the interest than let it go out of the Castle.
I can assure your Majesty that there are very few people in Rome who believe that anything will be got from him towards the enterprise, and when it is made public that he is to give a subsidy of a million they will look upon it as something phenomenal, great as are the reasons for his giving it. It would be well for your Majesty to send me proper authority to receive this million, and give a legal receipt. His Holiness consented to grant the jubilee, and I hope he will execute it at the first consistory, in order that it may be done with greater solemnity, as it will be the beginning of Lent. I had not hitherto mentioned it, as I had no orders to bring it forward until the arrival of intelligence that the enterprise had commenced. It was necessary also for your Majesty to instruct me that no details are to be entered into at the jubilee, because in accordance with clause 3 of your Majesty's letter of 26th August, I caused Allen some time ago to draw up the memorandum with the justifications of the enterprise. This, however, will be useful for the "legate's" bull, if your Majesty has no objection. Not a word shall be said about the succession and investiture until your Majesty orders. From what the people will learn as soon as this is ratified in the consistory, they will understand that it is not your Majesty's intention to keep the Crown of England for yourself, and this will avoid the difficulties which might arise if such an impression gained ground. Perhaps it might be best to defer any other action on this point until your Majesty decides and announces whom the Infanta is to marry.
In accordance with your Majesty's orders, Allen shall be given enough money to take him to Flanders as speedily as possible. If his Holiness can be prevailed upon to defer his appointment as legate until his arrival he will be able to go the more speedily, and the appointment to Canterbury could also be deferred.—Rome, 2nd March 1587.
2 March.
Paris Archives, K. 1567.
235. Advices from Scotland, 2nd March 1588 (N.S.).
Guerth, (fn. 3) a gentleman follower of the earl of Huntly, killed a brother of the Earl Marischal, and took refuge under the protection of the earl of Huntly. The King sent orders to Huntly on pain of death for treason to give up the said Guerth and James Gordon of the Society of Jesus, uncle of the Earl. The earl of Huntly took time to warn his friends, and the earls of Huntly, Crawford, Montrose, Caithness, and other nobles of the North met at Dunfermline with 600 horse, whilst Lord Arbroath (Hamilton), Lord Claude Hamilton, Herries, and Glencairn, united at Linlithgow with 900 horse. When the English faction learned this, they withdrew the King to the town of Lisleburg (Edinburgh), and sent to Lord Hunsdon at Berwick asking him for money to raise troops, He sent them 2,000 broad angels the same day, and they raised 200 harquebussiers, by whom the King wrote to Lord Arbroath (Hamilton), ordering him to return home under pain of high treason. He replied that he would do so, and that his discontent only arose from seeing the office of Lord Chancellor in the hands of so inferior a person as now held it ; and that without any just cause he (Lord Arbroath) had been deprived of the office of Lieutenant of the West, and the earl of Huntly of that of Lieutenant of the North. The King replied that the matter should be considered, and they therefore returned home. The King has ordered Huntly to come to court with only 30 horse, but he has refused, saying that he could not come without security.
6 March.
Paris Archives, K. 1448.
236. The King to Bernardino De Mendoza.
What you say about the negotiations between the King (of France) and the English is of great importance. You will do your best to get at the bottom of them by the same means as you learnt of them. So far as Julio, without risk of discovery, can give details of his instructions, you will endeavour, through the new confidant, to induce him to do so. Let the new confidant add, as of his own accord, that the only object of the French is to pacify their own country, and that they will trouble themselves very little about any other interest after they have attained their own ends, particularly as they make no secret of the fact that the Huguenot war has been fomented in England, and are secretly very resentful thereat. Some of them, indeed, have suggested that it would not be bad for France to come to an agreement with Spain to make war jointly on England, and to divide the prize between them. Suspicion of the French may thus be engendered, and it may be suggested that the safest course for England would be to come to terms with Spain, from which the French are desirous of diverting them. You will arrange for these things, or all that is possible of them, to be whispered in their (the English) ears. Try also to discover what is being proposed by the French ambassador in England.
The matter of the Scottish Catholics and the earl of Morton is being well managed. On the next opportunity thank them very warmly again from me for their offers, and encourage them earnestly to persevere in their good intentions. You will defer the answer about the men and money they request until the fitting time arrives, but will keep them (the Scottish Catholics) in very good humour the meanwhile.—Madrid, 6th March 1588.
Note.—In the margin the King expresses his approval of the earl of Morton's going to Scotland as he suggests.
11 March.
(N.S.) Paris Archives, K. 1568. Portuguese.
237. Advices from London (from Antonio de Vega?).
I wrote at length on the 15th ultimo.
The Commissioners have gone over, but little hope is entertained here of their effecting anything. The Queen, however, is more desirous of peace than ever. The commissioners from Holland are dispatched ; they were told that the sending of the peace Commissioners from here was only to hear what the duke of Parma had to say, and that nothing should be done to their (i.e., the States') prejudice. The Queen is trying to arrange matters in Scotland, and has sent thither Robin Cary, the son of Lord Hunsdon. He has not yet gone beyond Berwick. Their only hope is in the chancellor of Scotland, who is devoted to the English, and governs the King absolutely. The Queen sent Rogers, clerk of the Council, to Denmark, three months ago, to renew her friendship with that King, and give excuses for certain arrests of ships here because they were carrying munitions of war to Spain. Rogers, at the same time, was to impede (?) the marriage which is being discussed between the king of Scotland and the daughter of the king of Denmark, and to induce the latter to send someone hither to rectify the same (fn. 4) (sic). The King sent back with Rogers, as his ambassador, a Scottish captain who serves him as Vice-Admiral. The Queen has made much of him, and gives out that he has come to her with offers, in order to make people think that she is not without friends. But I know that he has pressed upon her, in the name of his master, the great importance of her coming to terms with the king of Spain, and the risk she runs if she does not do so. Drake's fleet has not sailed, but is ready. The Admiral is at Dover with his ships, excepting only those which carried the Commissioners across. Don Antonio is sad, and wishes to get away, but cannot do so for lack of money. In order to do so the more easily, he went yesterday with only three persons to a pleasure house eight miles from London for a week, without telling anyone where he was going. He acted in this way so that the Queen and others may not think it strange if he considers it necessary to absent himself. (fn. 5) Leiton, who was said to have gone to Barbary, has really gone to Portugal. A sailor named Francisco Ferreira came hither last year, and took from here some Englishmen in two ships to the River Gambia, near Cape de Verde, and they recently came back with much ivory and skins. These Englishmen had agreed to give to Don Antonio 8,000 cruzados, and, with the permission of the Queen, a patent is granted to them by which for ten years no persons but they shall go from England to that country. (fn. 6) Two of their ships will leave here in May for the same place, conducted by the same Portuguese. It would be very easy to have them captured from Cape de Verde Island, which is only 100 leagues from the place. I will in due time advise particulars of the ships.
15 March.
Paris Archives, K. 1568.
238. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
There is nothing fresh since my last about the audience of the English ambassador with the King. They are waiting for the Queen's reply.
I have written to Julio about the levies in Germany and the stay of Don Antonio in England, so that he may act as your Majesty instructs in both cases, in accordance with the points I have given him.
At the same time Sampson is taking steps with Don Antonio, and has communicated with the English ambassador in order that he may write.
I have news from Julio of the 19th ultimo, reporting that the Treasurer told him that the Commissioners were already at Dover, prepared to embark in spite of every effort against it, and this on the faith of the signature of the duke of Parma, sent to them secretly. They depend upon the Duke much more than your Majesty for the conclusion of peace, but keep this a profound secret.
Drake was being hurried off, but the new confidant advises that if he did not sail before they got the news of the death of the marquis de Santa Cruz he believes that he will not sail, on account of the negotiations in progress, and also because the (English) ambassador here thinks that the Armada cannot sail before the end of April owing to the death of the Marquis.
Julio is also of opinion that the Admiral will not sail from Queenborough until they see what movement is made by the duke of Parma's fleet, and that if Drake sails it will only be with the ships he now has. The fear of your Majesty's forces in Flanders will prevent Drake and the Admiral from uniting their fleets. Both upon this subject and others, I judge that Julio is doing his best to keep me well informed of everything that appears important, and I use every effort to obtain intelligence from other quarters as well.
Julio also informs me that the Treasurer tells him that they have brought Scottish affairs to a favourable position ; and he gives the details on the subject which are set forth in the general letter. The duke of Parma has sent Colonel Semple to me here, and has written me the enclosed letter. (See Letter, Parma to Mendoza, end of January, page 201.) Bearing in mind the very small effect produced upon the king of Scotland by the messages your Majesty sent him by the archbishop of Glasgow and Bruce, and the close intimacy which the Treasurer tells Julio exists between him and the queen of England, I do not consider that the going of Colonel Semple would have any other result than to arouse the English faction and the king of Scotland to opposition and distrust of the Catholic nobles, and to prevent the latter from raising head. For this purpose they might utilise the forces the Queen has upon the frontier under Lord Hunsdon, who is devoted to the (Scottish) Chancellor and his party. My opinion is shared by the earl of Morton and Semple, with whom I have discussed the matter. I am advising the duke of Parma of this ; and that the earl of Morton is ready to go to Scotland whenever he may receive instructions to do so. As soon as he arrives there he will take up arms in union with the other Catholic nobles, either against the Scottish heretics, or for the purpose of crossing the English border ; or else they will remain with their forces in their own lands for the purpose of preventing the king of Scotland and the heretics from giving any aid to the queen of England. The moment the Earl receives instructions from me, he will leave here to put into execution one of these three plans, always with the object of converting the realm (Scotland) to the Catholic faith, and your Majesty's service. When he departs, he says that Colonel Semple can accompany him, and they will both land in the north of Scotland, where the earl of Huntly and Lord Claude Hamilton are, and then resolve whether it will be advisable or not for the Colonel to undertake the mission to the King which the duke of Parma suggests. As the Duke signifies that, if the Colonel is to go, be should do so with all speed (and if he had the ship freighted, and a wind "up his sleeve," he could not make the voyage in less than six weeks), I have decided to write to the Duke in the same sense as I now write to your Majesty. I am also pointing out that, owing to the suspicion felt here that your Majesty may be carrying on some negotiation in Scotland, it will be very unadvisable to freight a ship in a French port, or for the earl of Morton and Semple to embark therefrom. I recommend that the Duke should have a small vessel ready for them in Dunkirk when it is desirable that they should go, and they could start from Gravelines at night, and embark safely, which they could not do in the Channel as it is crowded with English ships. The voyage from Dunkirk to Scotland is much shorter and safer than from any other port at which Morton could embark. I will report to your Majesty the Duke's reply. I also tell the Duke that if he orders Bruce to pay to the Catholic lords the 10,000 crowns he holds, as soon as Morton arrives, it will enable them without fail to commence their movement at once.—Paris, 15th March 1588.
239. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
In accordance with your Majesty's orders of 18th, I am using every effort to penetrate the designs of the English armaments, and although the assertion that Drake was going to the coast of Spain may well give rise to the suspicion that he had some other object in view, Drake has always promised the Queen to try to destroy the Armada in Lisbon, and says that, even if he could not completely undo it, he would do so much damage on the coast of Spain as to force your Majesty not to send your fleet to sea. Some persons are of opinion that Drake's preparations are for the purpose of capturing the ships leaving Lisbon for the East Indies, but this is unlikely, as it is certain that they would not go out unescorted, now that your Majesty is so strongly armed ; and even if Drake wished to lay in wait for them beyond Terceira, (fn. 7) it would be taking the Queen's forces too far away at such a time as this. Differences of opinion in the Council as to whether Drake should be allowed to sail or not have delayed him, together with the fact that he could not be ready so quickly as was expected. By letters from England of 19th and 21st ultimo, I learn that the Queen had ordered Drake to hasten his departure.
The English peace Commissioners were, on the 19th, at Dover ready to cross, and Dr. Rogers had been appointed in the place of Paulet. Rogers is not considered a man of much understanding. Howard was also going. Some representatives of the merchants and adventurers were accompanying the Commissioners. The sittings were to be held at Bourbourg, a league from Gravelines, and they expect to be there two or three months, as they will have to await a reply from Spain. The Admiral was at Queenborough, and would accompany the Commissioners with some armed ships till they arrived on the Flemish coast.
The commissioners from Holland (Loze and Councillor Casimbrot) had had an interview with the Queen's Council, her Majesty herself having declined to receive them, putting them off by saying that she had to receive Archibald Douglas, the Scots ambassador, and the Danish envoy.
The mission of the Dutch commissioners was to urge the Queen not to make peace with your Majesty, informing her that if she did so they would not accept it unless they were granted freedom of conscience, and maintained in all their ancient privileges, the (foreign) troops being withdrawn from the country. They said without these terms, even if the Queen gave up to your Majesty Flushing and the rest of the fortresses she held, they had solemnly sworn to defend themselves until the end of their lives. These commissioners came over from Flushing with Daniel Rogers, who was on his way back from Denmark, in company with an envoy from the king of Denmark, a Scotsman, who had been sent to treat of Scottish affairs and the marriage of the king of Scots with the daughter of the king of Denmark. Things in Scotland were favourable, the King being attached to the Queen (of England) who had sent to Scotland Robert Cary, son of Lord Hunsdon.
I send enclosed copy of a letter I have received from some Spanish prisoners in England, (fn. 8) in which they say nothing of Drake's having sailed. This King's ambassador, under date of 2nd March (N.S.), says he had not sailed at that date. Paris, 15th March 1588.
18 March.
Estado, 950.
240. Count De Olivares to the King.
Since I wrote to your Majesty on the 2nd instant, the Pope has withdrawn, on the most absurd pretexts in the world, the promise he made to me that he would at once proclaim a jubilee. With great trouble, and after an infinity of controversy, with which I will not tire your Majesty, I had induced him to consent to grant it at once, and to publish it in the Consistory of the 16th instant ; so that it could be gained in Holy week, and timely notice might thus arrive in all parts. As I could get nothing more from him than this I was obliged to content myself with it, but when he arrived at the Consistory he began with a great preamble about the conversion of the Swiss, the king of France's preparations for the spring, &c., and said that, in order that God's blessing might rest upon these and other things, he had decided to grant a jubilee which might be gained in Rome and elsewhere in Christendom at Whitsuntide. I was perfectly thunderstruck. I informed him that I had written to your Majesty, saying that he had consented to grant the jubilee at once, and I showed him your Majesty's own statement that it could not be further postponed. I was sure, I said, that if his Holiness did not so grant it, it was because he did not desire to help your Majesty at such an hour of need as this, or did not believe your Majesty's statement that the time had arrived. There is no possible answer to this, and he could find none. I shall speak to him tomorrow ; but I do not yet know in what terms, for it is enough to drive me out of my wits to see the way in which he acts. The day after to-morrow, at the church of Santiago, the forty hours' prayer will commence ; next Sunday at the church of the Aragonese ; and the Sunday following in the church of the Portuguese. I will try to get the celebration continued in all the churches here frequented by your Majesty's subjects, and I will remind the governor of Milan and the viceroys of Naples and Sicily to do likewise. If I cannot persuade the Pope to expedite the jubilee, I will not send a courier to your Majesty, as there will then be no hurry. With regard to the loan, I told his Holiness in my audience of the 5th, that I had sent to your Majesty for the security. He replied in fair but equivocal terms that left me nothing to take hold of, and when I attempt to press him, he eludes me. This, and the grief he exhibits now that the time has nearly arrived for him to pay the million, fills me with anxiety that I shall have small chance of success in obtaining the second million. I am even in fear that the first million will not be met with exact punctuality ; and I beg your Majesty not to depend upon anything but my untiring efforts to obtain the first million as quickly as possible, and as much of the second million as can be obtained. Since the 28th ultimo, when he learnt that the affair was really in earnest, and that the moment was approaching when he would have to disburse his million, his extreme and extraordinary perturbation is evident to everybody. The things he says about it are very strange ; he does not sleep at night ; his manners to all are more than ordinarily abrupt ; he talks to himself, and generally conducts himself most shamefully. One of the reasons he depends upon most for saying that the time has not come for proclaiming the jubilee, is, that they forced him to elevate Allen, and that he has spent a mint of money on him ; whereas, really, all he has given is a thousand ducats for his outfit, and a hundred a month for his maintenance. I say all this to show that the fear I express is not without reason.
He is also talking about his rights over the English bishoprics and other things. I have just received a letter from Don Bernardino de Mendoza, dated 27th ultimo, in which he advises me of a certain letter from the late queen of Scotland to his Holiness, which is sent through Cardinal Mondovi. He urges me to do my best to prevent the letter from being lost, and to follow instructions I shall receive from your Majesty. He does not enter into particulars. I will see about the letter to-morrow, and advise.—Rome, 18th March 1588.
20 March.
Estado, 594.
241. Duke Of Parma to the King.
Before I left Brussels news came through merchants that the queen of England's Commissioners for the peace negotiations had embarked to come hither. One of them had put into Dunkirk, where he had been welcomed by the Commandant, Francisco de Aguilar Alvarado, and had proceeded by land to Nieuport, where he had also been fittingly received and had continued his journey to Ostend, where the rest of the Commissioners had landed. It was very evident that, although they had decided to come to your Majesty's dominions for the conferences, their intention was that the first interviews should take place between Ostend and one of the towns in your Majesty's possession. (fn. 9) I had already summoned Count de Aremberg and M. de Champigny, who were at Antwerp, and I brought hither with me President Richardot, Maes the fiscal of Brabant, and Secretary Garnier, that they might be at hand to go to the place agreed upon for the meeting. In the meanwhile there arrived, sent by the (English) Commissioners, a gentleman whose sister is married to the eldest son of the earl of Derby. His errand was to tell me that they had arrived at Ostend and were ready to enter into negotiations with me, and at the same time to thank me for the welcome that Crofts had received in your Majesty's dominions. (fn. 10) The gentleman performed his errand with every appearance of submission, and of a desire to conduct the negotiations to the successful issue which the Queen and the Commissioners really seem to aim at if they meet with a corresponding desire here. I replied in a way that appeared to satisfy him, and as I thought it fitting that their visit should be returned, I sent Secretary Garnier, who speaks languages and possesses the necessary ability, to accompany the gentleman back and to ascertain their views as to where and when the first meeting should take place. With him I sent a disguised engineer to reconnoitre the place (Ostend). From the discourse he (Garnier) had on the road with the gentleman, he gathered that they were extremely desirous of peace and were in great alarm of your Majesty's power. On Garnier's arrival they welcomed him very warmly, always speaking of your Majesty with great respect and decorum, and expressed all due satisfaction at Garnier's visit. These feelings were demonstrated individually and jointly by the Commissioners, and proved their and the Queen's wish for peace to be concluded ; which, indeed, is the general desire. They signify that if the negotiations be not successful it will not be from any fault of theirs, their only doubt being your Majesty's attitude in the matter, and that you may impose such hard terms that they will be unable to bear them. If the negotiations do not fall through on this point they think they will be successful. From the discourse of the gentleman who came hither, and some of the others, it is evident that they are in fear about the question of guarantees ; and guess that the only security they will obtain is your Majesty's promise, which they think will be insufficient for them, on the ground that on the pretext of religion, and with the authority of the Pope, the promise may be broken when it is considered desirable. Garnier tells me that he replied straightfowardly and fittingly, as he had been instructed to do. With regard to the place for the first meeting they (the Commissioners) said they would consider the question, and would send one of their number to discuss it with me. Dr. Dale, one of the Masters of Requests, accordingly arrived here on Friday afternoon, and departs to-morrow. He is one of the Queen's prime favourites and resides in the palace. He was here during the time of my mother (fn. 11) and has been ambassador in France. He is an old man, stout and heavy, and was very well accompanied hither, bringing with him, amongst others, a son of Lord Treasurer Burleigh, and a son of Crofts the Controller. He has been as well lodged and entertained as possible, and I think he will depart well satisfied. They wished the first meeting to be held at Ostend, although they have from the first admitted that the place was inappropriate for it, but they have let it be seen that they would come into your Majesty's dominions. They base their demand for Ostend on the ground that it had been agreed before they came that the conference should be held on any part of your Majesty's territory they might choose, and as Ostend is contained therein they select that place. This pretension was soon rejected, and they will no doubt agree to hold the first interview between Ostend and one of the neighbouring towns belonging to your Majesty, where a final arrangement may be made as to the place for the regular conferences. (fn. 12) They have requested me to send some person to Ostend to settle the business, and as nothing will be lost by my doing so, I am sending Garnier. Dale requested to be allowed to see the powers of the Commissioners on our side, but he was informed that at the proper time they would be produced. He was told that as we assumed that they (the English Commissioners) were properly authorised, they might conclude that our Commissioners were also similarly provided. I said they knew they could trust to my word, but if they had any doubt about it I reminded them of what your Majesty had written to the king of Denmark on the subject, namely, that you left the matter entirely in my hands. (fn. 13) He (Dale) seemed entirely satisfied with this. To judge from the private approaches he made towards certain persons he thought likely to help him, trying to enlist them in the interests of peace, it is quite evident that they are desirous of carrying the negotiations to a successful issue, and this is confirmed by the intelligence received from all parts. It is, however, difficult to fathom the real aims of men when they set about to deceive. Your Majesty, in any case, shall be kept well informed. It is well that your Majesty should be advised of what is being said about the question of peace by people here, and particularly by those who profess to be most devoted to your Majesty, and most desirous of the repose and prosperity of your dominions. I should be failing in my duty if I did not inform your Majesty that the general opinion is, that if the English proceed straightforwardly, as they profess to do, and their alarm at your Majesty's armaments and great power really compels them to incline to your Majesty's interests, it would be better to conclude peace with them. By this means we should end the misery and calamity of these afflicted States, the Catholic religion would be established in them, and your ancient dominion restored ; besides which, we should not jeopardise the Armada which your Majesty has prepared, and we should escape the danger of some disaster, causing you to fail to conquer England, whilst losing your hold here. People here, therefore, think, that it would be much best to try in future to settle and tranquillize everything during your Majesty's own happy reign, so that all may prosper by the grace of God and your Majesty's goodness. No fate more honourable and beneficent can at present befall, no step would be so heartily welcomed by your vassals, or would more effectually bridle your rivals, and particularly the heretics, than the conclusion of a good and honourable peace. This would avoid the risk of the disasters that may happen. If the enterprise were in the condition we had intended it to be, with respect to the vital point of secresy, etc., we might, with the help of God, look more confidently for a successful issue. I do not know in such case that I should trouble your Majesty with what is being said upon the subject. But things are not as we intended ; and not only have the English had time to arm by land and sea, and to form alliances with Denmark, and the Protestants of Germany and elsewhere, but the French also have taken measures to frustrate our aims, as they certainly will do to the extent of their ability. I have therefore felt constrained to represent to your Majesty, with my usual sincerity, what I hear around me. To this I will add, that as they (the English) are fully prepared at home and abroad, they are doubtless aware of your Majesty's plans, and it may be safely concluded that we shall have plenty of work to do, both in landing and gaining a footing on shore, and in advancing afterwards, particularly if we have not a force adequate for the task, now that they are prepared to receive us. The forces we now have available are so small, that, doubtless, one of the main difficulties with which we shall have to contend (even if God spares us from the disasters that may happen to us) is, that the affair may necessarily have to be still longer dragged out, and the French and Germans consequently have time to carry forward their intention of opposing the undertaking, both by means of a diversion in these States, which are so near to them, and also by sending reinforcements to England. All these are a atters worthy of deep consideration ; and it should not he forgotten also, that after your Majesty has settled affairs here, and have the island of Walcheren in your hands, you may, with perfect safety, carry out your intention without any possibility of interference. As for pretexts and good reasons, your Majesty well knows that they are always to be found. I have set forth all this that your Majesty may know what is being said, and in fulfilment of my duty as a faithful servant, not for the purpose of moving your Majesty from your honourable determination. For my own part I am ready and willing to carry out my duty, and your Majesty's orders, when my passage across is assured ; and I can hope for no greater honour than to spend my life in the service of God and your Majesty. I have no doubt that, before a reply can be received to this despatch the Armada will have arrived, and I, by the divine favour, shall have fulfilled your Majesty's commands ; but I will not, until I am obliged, desist from the negotiations, so that in case the Armada does not come, or any other unforeseen accident should prevent the principal enterprise from being carried out, your Majesty may be able to choose the course you think fit. I greatly doubt, however, being able to entertain the English so long as will be necessary for such a contingency as this, as I am not able to produce for them a special power from your Majesty, which, as usual, they appear to desire before they will enter into the discussion of the main points. It is quite possible, therefore, that they may break off the negotiations for this reason, which will greatly grieve these provinces, as they are now quite confident that peace will be made. I will do my best to get over this difficulty ; and if the negotiations continue, President Richardot is, as I have already informed your Majesty, secretly instructed on all points, and the most perfect confidence may be felt that he will carry out your Majesty's intentions. If your Majesty decides to send me such a power as that referred to, simply for the purpose of exhibition, you may be sure that I will only use it as your Majesty may direct. —Ghent, 20th March 1588.
242. Duke Of Parma to the King.
Matters generally are proceeding satisfactorily with exception of the lamentable and astonishing mortality amongst the troops. This is the greatest pity in the world ; so many have died, and so many more are still sick. Out of the 28,000 or 30,000 men I hoped to ship, in truth I cannot find now more than 17,000. I am endeavouring to raise fresh men in Germany. I greatly regret the death of the marquis of Santa Cruz. His loss at this juncture is a very serious one, as he was so brave a soldier, so experienced a seaman, and your Majesty loses in him an efficient minister. But these happenings are in the hands of God ; and although the loss of the Marquis will delay the sailing of the fleet, it cannot be questioned that God arranges all for His greater glory, and for the better success of the undertaking.
The choice your Majesty has made of the duke of Medina Sidonia is a good one. I will co-operate with him in all plainness and sincerity which the interests of your Majesty demand, and I hope that he, on his side, will act in the same way.
I will send two good pilots to give him an account of the position of affairs here.
The matter of the enterprise is now so public, and the indications both in Spain and here are so clear, that it would serve but little purpose to throw people off the scent for me to make a show of besieging some fortress. On the contrary, it might lead to our losing a lot of men without any result. The only demonstration that would be of any use in this particular is the negotiation for peace. Many persons think that since the English Commissioners have crossed the sea for the purpose of entering into communication with us something must come of it.
With regard to money, I wish to inform your Majesty that I am in great extremity, as the 400,000 crowns recently raised in Antwerp, what with depreciation of money, and other things, only produced about 300,000 nett, and this is all spent. I am now without any resources at this important juncture, with so many indispensable and urgent demands being forced upon me, as I have clearly stated to your Majesty on other occasions.
Juan Bautista de Tassis has been to Antwerp to see whether he could make any fresh arrangements, but he returned empty-handed, as the merchants refuse to provide any more money.
This is a matter which demands your Majesty's earnest attention. The whole enterprise will be jeopardised, and unless I have money to meet requirements here we shall be face to face with a mutiny of the men, and irreparable disorders, since the troops are of many nationalities. It may be that God desires to punish us for our sins by some heavy disaster. Even if the Armada supplies me with the 6,000 Spaniards as agreed—and they are the sinew of the undertaking —I shall still have too few troops, as the men here are dwindling daily. If I set foot on shore, it will be necessary for us to fight battle after battle. I shall, of course, lose men by wounds and sickness. I must leave the port and town garrisons strongly defended, to keep open my lines of communication ; and in a very short time my force will thus be so much reduced as to be quite inadequate to cope with the great multitude of enemies, and unable to push forward. This would give time to the heretics and other rivals of your Majesty to impede the enterprise, and even to bring about some great disaster, without my being able to remedy it. An almost impossible task cannot be carried out without adequate means, and I am obliged, therefore, to press your Majesty, most earnestly, to give positive orders that in this most vital matter not the slightest neglect or delay shall occur. Not only is it essential that no failing should take place in this particular, but your Majesty, on such an occasion as this, should be prepared and ready at all points, so that your enemies may be unable to thwart you by means of a diversion or otherwise, as I have pointed out on other occasions ; and in case of any accident or disaster that may happen, your Majesty should have a reserve fleet and army ready to go to any place where they may be required. The cost that such preparations occasion should not be considered, as, saving the favour of God, success mainly depends upon expenditure of money.
I pray your Majesty to pardon my boldness, and to accept all I say as prompted only by my zeal and affection for your service, for I cannot keep silent in a matter which I think touches it nearly, and may affect the success of your godly designs.—Ghent, 20th March 1588.
21 March.
Estado, 950.
243. Count De Olivares to the King.
In my interview with the Pope on the 19th instant, I spoke to him about the jubilee, and endeavoured to persuade him to expedite it by saying that Whitsuntide would not do for a rogation, but might serve for a thanksgiving. But in spite of all my pros and cons with him, I could not move him. He insisted that the interval of time was necessary for the authority to arrive at all parts of Christendom, and quoted scripture authorities to prove the efficacy of united and simultaneous prayer. Cardinal Mondovi has informed me that he has in his hands the letter from the queen of Scotland, about which Don Bernardino (de Mendoza) wrote to me. He says he will not deliver it (to the Pope) until he has spoken to me about it. I will keep the matter in view.
Nothing more has been said about the loan, and I am of opinion that we shall have to get the first million from him (the Pope) before pressing him further about the loan. I will use all activity in this directly we receive news of the landing. We might as well cry for the moon as to ask for it before. I am trembling for fear that he may give me many a bitter pill, even before I can get it, seeing how he seems to love this money.—Rome, 21st March 1588.
21 and 25 March.
(N.S.) Paris Archives, K. 1567.
244. Advices from London, 21st March 1588 (N.S.).
Drake is still at Plymouth, not ready to sail, and will not be so for at least three weeks. He has 40 ships, six of which belong to the Queen. He expects 20 more, four of which will be the Queen's, but they are still in the Thames ; those he has being mostly small, under 80 tons.
The Admiral is at Margate with only 40 ships.
If peace be concluded with the king of Spain, Bearn will be succoured and the king of France disturbed.
The Catholics here fear that if peace be made they will be totally ruined, as the earl of Leicester and his accomplices have only one object, namely to disperse the forces that the king of Spain has gathered in Spain and Flanders ; the Earl not having the slightest intention of fulfilling the articles which may be agreed upon. Let the Cardinal (Allen?) and Sir William Stanley take care they are not poisoned, as I can assure you that the matter is being arranged.
The people in general are very desirous of peace, and if the duke of Parma gives the smallest hopes of it, I am certain that all our arms will be laid down, which will greatly grieve many of our companions here, who are just as eager for the sacking of London as the Spaniards are. They (the English Catholics) promote the Catholic cause on every possible opportunity. The musters of men are mostly taking place in Hampshire and towards Cornwall, and it is said that if peace be not concluded, Drake will take a good number of them on his expedition to Portugal in favour of Don Antonio.
There is much talk about Casimir advancing in person against the League in France, the Queen assisting him in money if the Spaniard does not come and stop it.—London, 25th March 1588.
Postscript.—An ambassador from Denmark has arrived here, of whom they are making as much as possible. Another has come from Scotland who is also well received.
Thirty large vessels, loaded with wheat and other merchandise, lately passed between Dover and Calais, bound for Spain. Count de Hollac (fn. 14) had almost got possession of Flushing, and the Lord Admiral had therefore gone with all his ships to put matters in order. He has now returned to Margate.
The common people in Zeeland appear to be devoted to the queen of England, but the States quite the contrary.
22 March.
(N.S.) Paris Archives, K. 1567. Portuguese.
245. Portuguese Report from London of the intended attempt of Don Antonio to escape from England attended by Edward Perrin.
The writer, a Portuguese, says that he gave information of the Pretender's intention to the Queen as soon as he discovered it. Orders were at once sent to the Lord Admiral to stop him if he tried to go from Dover to Calais. A minute description of the dresses and appearance of Don Antonio and Perrin is given, and the writer suggests that the duke of Parma should be put on the alert to capture them if they succeeded in escaping from an English port.
Note.—Sampson (i.e., Antonio de Escobar) writes on the 25th March that Don Antonio, on plea of illness, has gone to seek rest and change at Brentford, all his family and followers remaining in London. He mentions that Diego Botello secretly informs him that Don Antonio is going to attempt to escape from England, as he is apprehensive of the peace negotiations between England and Spain. Sampson adds that it would be impossible for him to get away without the Queen's license.
28 March.
Paris Archives, K. 1567. French.
246. Advices from London.
The ministers of the false religion in their preaching frequently repeat that the king of Spain exercises great tyranny in all his dominions, and swears that if he enters England by force of arms he will leave no English person alive between the ages of 7 and 70.
The harbour of Plymouth is badly defended at present, as the men have been landed to save the victuals in the ships. Four or five pinnaces which had been sent to reconnoitre on the coast of Portugal have returned, and report that the Armada in Portugal is as large as any the Emperor Charles V. ever raised. It was said to be ready to sail, and great fear was consequently felt. The Queen has ordered the city of London, under pain of forfeiting all its privileges, in addition to providing a large force to defend the city, to supply 10,000 men ready to be sent whithersoever may be necessary to meet the enemy.
Colonel Norris exercises and drills his troops every day in London. They are not very handy yet, but will really become so in time. There is therefore danger in delay. Colonel Norris recently gave the Queen in writing many reasons against entering into peace negotiations with the king of Spain, but inciting her to make war upon him at all points.
In Scotland it is said that all are on our side, the King having overcome in discussion the members of the Society of Jesus, whom he has ordered to leave the country.
Fitzwilliams has left for Ireland. The Queen is smiling now upon the Irish Catholics.
Note.—The above is accompanied by a Spanish translation made by an Englishman, with several corrections in the King's own hand.
22 March.
Paris Archives, K. 1567.
247. The Duke Of Parma to Bernardino De Mendoza.
From what his Majesty and Don Martin de Idiaquez write to you about Scotland, I see a desire that the earl of Morton should at once go thither ; and as the state of affairs with the Catholics, as related by Bruce, makes it necessary for them to look to their own safety, I agree that he ought to go. He may therefore come to Gravelines quietly with Colonel Semple, and embark at night for Dunkirk, where he will find a passage awaiting him and a fit person to help and guide him until he can leave the port. With regard to the money for Semple's voyage, as he has been delayed, we will take care to provide what will be necessary, and hand it to him here in the form most convenient, so that he shall not suffer in any case. With regard to his commission (fn. 15), I approve of the idea of postponing the effect of it, or otherwise, in accordance with the decision arrived at by the Catholic lords with the earl of Morton after his arrival. With regard to one of the three points which it is proposed they should take in hand after they have met, and the most desirable one, they must be careful to approach the English border with as large a force as possible, to make a diversion as soon as they hear that the Queen is being pricked elsewhere. The Earl himself should be well warned of this before he goes to aid the carrying out of whatever orders his Majesty may send me ; since, whilst I am here, he will always find me ready to obey. If orders were sent to me to attempt anything, the help of these Catholics would be important, and would save expense, besides which, if they supported us, we could effectually assist them afterwards. In the meanwhile, on the arrival of the Earl, they may make use of the 10,000 ducats which Robert Bruce has in his hands ; and you may write to them to that effect in my name. They should be urgently shown the importance of assuring the port of Little Leith, at least, as it is so convenient for possible future eventualities.
30 March.
(N.S.) Paris Archives, K. 1567. Portuguese.
248. Advices from London (from Antonio De Vega to Bernardino De Mendoza.)
Gives an account of Don Antonio's attempted escape from Margate, and his return to Court.
Things are much confused here. Orders have been given for 10,000 more men to be raised without delay, 6,000 to be employed at once, and 4,000 in a week, to be sent out in case of need. All the fortresses are being supplied and Drake's fleet reinforced. It was settled that he should have 30 ships, but now they have increased the number to 48, which are ordered to be ready to sail immediately. The orders had been given that the Queen's ships should carry less artillery than formerly; to give more room for working the guns ; but the full quantity is now being shipped.
The Queen has made herself absolute mistress of Zeeland ; and the States Governors, as they were called, have been turned out. Middleburg, however, still holds for Count Maurice (of Nassau). News from Scotland is that the bishop of Dunblane could not obtain audience of the King, and consequently spoke with the Chancellor, Maitland. He informed him on behalf of the Pope and the king of Spain of their intention to take up arms against the queen of England, as she was the head and front of all the evils which afflicted the Catholic religion, and also because she had so unjustly condemned to death the queen of Scotland, the King's mother. For this reason they considered it right that the King should be informed of their intention, in order that if he wished to resent the injury done to him and his mother they should support his claim to the English succession. The reply to this was made by the Chancellor himself, who said that the King really desired satisfaction for the death of his mother the Queen, but before entering into the arrangement now proposed he wished to be assured on two points, namely that the King should not be expected to change his religion ; and secondly, what security he would have of the succession to the English crown, in case the forces of the Spanish King were greater than his own. The Chancellor reported this answer of his here (i.e., in England), and news came at the same time that the Catholic nobles who were in arms had gone with 6,000 (?) horse to kill the Chancellor, who is entirely in the English interest. The King with others went to meet them, and besought them to return home, which they did. With this, Robin Cary, who had gone from here to offer the King 6,000 men, returned ; having gone no further than Berwick. The (French) ambassador is instructed to be vigilant in discovering the state of the peace negotiations ; and in conversation with him on the subject I mentioned how important it was for the King of France that this country shall be ruined. He confessed that it was so, but said that certainly France would not on any account consent to its being ruined by the king of Spain for his own advantage.
A. M. de Frios has arrived here from the duke of Vendome, well attended, and had audience yesterday. His object is to prevent the Queen from making peace with the king of Spain. He is going from here to Germany about the reiters.
The number of ships captured and brought hither is very large— including those from Brazil, the Spanish Indies, Canaries, and fishing boats, I am informed they amount to 180, and at least they exceed 140.
(Begs for money to be sent for his maintenance, and that the sum of money lent to him in London by Bernaldo Luiz should be paid to the latter as promised. Speaks of the great danger he runs, and prays Mendoza to remind the King of his services.) The wife of the (French) ambassador has gone to solicit his recall by St John's day, when his three years' service expires, but I am persuading him to stay another year, which I believe he will do ; and that his wife will return hither. Otherwise I myself would have to go ; I could find no other means of sending my letters with safety, as they now go under cover of the ambassador's seal. I could not hope to be as intimate with another as I am with this one. It is of great importance he should remain.
Note.—The decipher of the above letter is unsigned, but the diffuse style and the reference to the French ambassador, prove that it was written by the Portuguese spy, Antonio de Vega.


  • 1. The document is much mutilated at the edges.
  • 2. The castle of Sant Angelo, where the Papal treasury was kept.
  • 3. The laird of Gicht, who had murdered Keith. In a letter from Robert Douglas to Archibald Douglas, 2nd February (Hatfield Papers, Part III.), it is stated that the real object of Huntly's gathering was not to see justice done to his kinsman, the laird of Gicht, but to attempt to seize the King. In view of the letter from Bruce to Mendoza of 18th February, ante, there can be no longer any doubt that this was the case.
  • 4. Daniel Rogers' instructions (Hatfield Papers, Part III.) do not contain any reference whatever to the proposed marriage of James. Rogers was to condole with the Regents and the young king Christian IV. (a minor), on the death of the late king Frederick II., and apologise for certain outrages on Danish subjects committed by English privateers.
  • 5. The King calls special attention to this passage.
  • 6. In the King's hand :—"Give notice of this."
  • 7. In the King's hand—"He is not well informed as to the route."
  • 8. See Statement of Francisco Valverde and Pedro de Santa Cruz, 27th February, page 219.
  • 9. A great mass of the correspondence of the English peace Commissioners with the Queen's Ministers, giving a detailed account of their proceedings, will be found in Cotton MSS. Vesp. CVIII. Although the papers in question do not come within the scope of the present Calendar, it has been considered advisable to summarise one or two of them in which Parma's expressions are repeated. The whole correspondence should, however, be studied side by side with the Spanish papers here reproduced. A very fair account of the meetings of the Commissioners on both sides will also be found in Strada.
  • 10. The Commissioners from England were the earl of Derby, Lord Cobham, and Sir James Crofts, the Controller of the Household ; to whom were attached the Masters of Requests, Valentine Dale and Rogers. Crofts having been secretly a Spanish paid agent had no hesitation in landing at the Spanish port of Dunkirk, whilst the rest of Commissioners landed at Ostend, which port was now in possession of the States.
  • 11. See Volume I of this Calendar for particulars of Valentine Dale's mission to Margaret of Parma.
  • 12. The first meetings were held in tents erected by Parma in an extensive plain between Ostend and Nieuport.
  • 13. The king of Denmark had sent an ambassador to Spain in the spring of 1587, offering his mediation in the interests of peace. To the address of the ambassador Philip replied by a long letter to Denmark, which is printed entire by Strada, who says that he had it in his hands. A copy of this letter was sent to Parma, and the whole question of peace ostensibly referred to him. "J'abandonne," says Philip, "toute I'affaire a mon cousin le Prince de Parme, souverain Gouverneur de mes Provinces des Pays Bas et je lui mande qu'il ne s'eloigne pas de la raison, si le parti contraire veut agir selon les regles de la raison." In answer to the king of Denmark's letter to Parma on the subject, the latter requested him to send ambassadors to treat of the mediation but nothing further was done, Frederick II. shortly afterwards dying.
  • 14. Hohenlohe.
  • 15. That is to say, the private mission to James with which it was proposed to entrust him.