Simancas: April 1588, 1-5

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

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'Simancas: April 1588, 1-5', in Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 4, 1587-1603, (London, 1899) pp. 243-262. British History Online [accessed 1 March 2024]

April 1588, 1-5

April (?)
Paris Archives, K. 1567.
249. Document headed "Statement of the two fleets possessed by the Queen of England, with numbers and names of the ships."—
The Admiral in the ship called "The Royal Ark," built by Raleigh.
Lord Henry Seymour, son of the duke of Somerset, in the "Elizabeth Bonaventure."
Lord Thomas Howard, son of the duke of Norfolk, in the "Golden Lion."
Lord Sheffield in the "Dreadnaught."
Vice-Admiral Winter in the "Vanguard."
Southwell, knt., son-in-law of the Admiral, in the "Lightning."
Palmer, knt., in the "Rainbow."
Mr. Hutton, controller to the Admiral, in the "Hirondelle."
Mr. Frobisher in the "Antelope."
Mr. Fenton in the "Mary Rose."
Mr. Hadley in the "Earl," the ship which always carried the duke of Anjou across. (fn. 1)
Mr. Ward in the "Tramontane."
Captain Turner in the "Bull."
Captain Boston (Bostock) in the "Tiger."
Captain Riches (Rigg?) in the "Achates."
Mr. Charles Howard in the "White Lion."
In addition to these Queen's ships, there are eight newly built pataches belonging to the Queen, the smallest being from 100 to 120 tons. Their names are the "Charles," the "Sun," the "Moon," the "Scout," the "Fantasy," the "Little Swan," the "Spy," and the "Black Prince."
There are, moreover, coming to the Admiral by the 5th April, four great ships belonging to the Queen—the largest she has— namely, the "Triumph," the "Elizabeth Jonas," the "White Bear," and the "Victory." They will be accompanied by 28 merchant ships, the best to be found. This will bring up the Admiral's squadron to 56 sail. Drake has also six large ships of the Queen's, namely :—the "Revenge," the "Hope," the "Nonpareil," the "Guide," the "Aid," and the "Volvite" (?), with 45 of the best merchant ships they could select, at the Isle of Wight. The Admiral has also sent him the galleon "Leicester," (fn. 2) the "Royal Merchant," and the "Susannah." Their entire number, therefore, is 110 ships, in addition to the adventurers who expect to come out if the Spanish fleet comes to these coasts.
Note.—On the margin of the above document Philip II. has verified the total number of the English ships, by setting down and adding the items as stated. Several of the captains changed ships before the appearance of the Armada in English waters, and one or two of the vessels themselves are not clearly to be identified. The list, however, does not differ very materially from that given in Laughton's "Defeat of the Armada," Vol. II., p. 325.
S.D. Paris Archives, K. 1567. 250. Statement published by the English Ambassador in France of his Mistress' fleet. (fn. 3)
1. The "Triumph," 1,600 tons, with 24 pieces each side, six cannons at the prow, and four at the stern.
2. The "Bear," 1,500 tons, 24 pieces each side, six cannons at the prow, and four culverins at the stern.
3. The "Elizabeth," 1,200 tons, 24 pieces each side, six cannons at the prow, and four at the stern.
4. The "Victory," 1,200 tons, 24 pieces each side, six cannons at the prow, and four at the stern.
5. The "Royal Ark," 1,200 tons, 21 pieces each side, six cannons at the prow, and four at the stern.
6. The "Golden Lion," 1,100 tons, 16 pieces each side, four cannons at the prow, and four at the stern.
7. The "Edward Bonaventure," 300 tons, 14 pieces each side, five cannons at the prow, and four at the stern.
8. The "Vanguard," 800 tons, 17 pieces each side, six cannons and iron pieces at the prow, and six at the stern.
9. The "Rainbow," 900 tons, 14 pieces each side, four pieces at the prow, and same at stern.
10. The "Nonpariel," 400 tons, 17 pieces each side, four pieces at the prow, same at stern.
11. The "Antelope," 600 tons, 10 pieces each side, four pieces at the prow, same at stern.
12. The "Mary Rose," 500 tons, 17 pieces each side, four pieces at the prow, two at the stern.
13. The "Dreadnaught," 400 tons, 17 pieces each side, two pieces at the prow, and four at the stern.
14. The "Bull," 300 tons, 17 pieces each side, two pieces at prow, and two at stern.
15. The "Swiftsure," 500 tons, 17 pieces each side, two pieces at prow, four at stern.
16. The "Tramontane," 300 tons, 17 pieces each side, three pieces at prow, two at stern.
17. The "Providence," 300 tons, 12 pieces each side, two pieces at prow, and three at stern.
18. The "Swallow," (fn. 4) 300 tons, 15 pieces each side, two pieces at prow, and two at stern.
19. The "Revenge," 450 tons, 17 pieces each side, four pieces at prow, and two at stern.
20. The "Aid," 250 tons, 12 pieces each side, two pieces at prow, and two at stern.
21. The "White Lion," 200 tons, 7 pieces each side, two pieces at prow, and two at stern.
(fn. 5) Total number of Sailors 22,000 (10,800)
1. The "Charles Porte," 60 tons, four pieces each side, two culverins at prow, one at stern.
2. The "Spy," 30 tons, four pieces each side, two at prow, and two at stern.
3. The "Scout," 20 tons, three pieces each side, two at prow, one at stern.
4. The "Sun," 18 tons, three pieces each side, one culverin at prow.
5. The "Moon," 15 tons, three pieces each side, two falcons at prow.
6. The "Fantasy," 10 tons, two pieces each side, one culverin at prow.
7. The "Cygnet," 16 tons, three pieces each side, one culverin at prow.
8. The "Galore," 15 tons, two pieces each side, one culverin at prow.
9. The "Black Prince," 18 tons, three pieces each side, two pieces at prow.
Total Sailors in the Pinnaces 224 (216?)
1 April.
Estado, 165.
251. Instructions to the Duke Of Medina Sidonia for the command of the Armada sailing from Lisbon.
In order that you may understand the considerations which operate in the undertaking, I need only refer you to the enclosed copy of what I wrote on the 4th September last to my nephew (i.e., the duke of Parma), giving him instructions as to what he should say to the marquis of Santa Cruz in my name. This will fully inform you of the intentions and objects in view. It will be unnecessary also to dwell upon the reasons which delayed the sailing of the fleet at that time, as it is generally known that it arose from the need to repair the ships that had been damaged, and to execute the other necessary preparations for the Armada. Our consolation for this delay, which has given the enemy more time to organise his defence, must, by God's favour, proceed from our own hands.
The undertaking being so important in the service of our Lord, which has moved me to collect these forces, and my own affairs depending so greatly upon its success, I have not wished to place so weighty a business in any other hands than yours. Such is my confidence in you personally, and in your experience and desire to serve me, that, with God's help, I look for the success we aim at. In order that you may thoroughly understand my wishes, and be able duly to carry them out, I send you the following instructions :
In the first place, as all victories are the gifts of God Almighty, and the cause we champion is so exclusively His, we may fairly look for His aid and favour, unless by our sins we render ourselves unworthy thereof. You will therefore have to exercise special care that such cause of offence shall be avoided on the Armada, and especially that there shall be no sort of blasphemy. This must be severely enforced, with heavy penalties, in order that the punishment for toleration of such sin may not fall upon all of us. You are going to fight for the cause of our Lord, and for the glory of His Name, and, consequently, He must be worshipped by all, so that His favour may be deserved. This favour is being so fervently besought in all parts that you may go full of encouragement that, by the mercy of God, His forces will be added to your own.
When you receive a separate order from me, you will sail with the whole of the Armada, and go straight to the English Channel, which you will ascend as far as Cape Margate, where you will join hands with the duke of Parma, my nephew, and hold the passage for his crossing, in accordance with the plan which has already been communicated to both of you.
It is important that you and the Duke should be mutually informed of each other's movements, and it will therefore be advisable that before you arrive thither you should continue to communicate with him as best you can, either by secretly landing a trustworthy person at night on the coast of Normandy or Boulogne, or else by sending intelligence by sea to Gravelines, Dunkirk, or Nieuport. You must take care that any messengers you may send by land shall be persons whom you can thoroughly trust ; so that verbal messages may be given to them. Letters to the Duke may be sent, those going by sea written in the enclosed cipher, but nothing should be said to the bearers verbally, so that if they be taken they can divulge nothing.
Although it may be hoped that God will send fair weather for your voyage, it will be well, when you sail, to appoint a rendezvous for the whole fleet in case a storm may scatter it. As this rendezvous would have to depend upon the place where the storm overtook you, that is to say, either anywhere near Spain, or at the mouth of the Channel ; if it should happen near our own coasts, Vigo, Corunna, or the ports in the neighbourhood of Finisterre might be appointed, as the pilots thought best. But if the storm be near the Channel, you will, on consultation with experienced seamen in Lisbon, decide whether the rendezvous should be appointed for the Scilly isles as a port of refuge, or whether it will be better to fix upon a certain latitude at sea. The weather does not promise to be so bad as to prevent the ships from keeping out at sea. In case of your being overtaken by a tempest in the Channel itself, you will likewise discuss with native seamen on the Armada what defenceless port or refuge would serve on the coast of England to shelter the Armada with safety, or whether it would be better to run east or west. But in any case you must keep away from the French and Flemish coasts, in consequence of the shoals and banks. After you have discussed these questions with the mariners you will make such dispositions as you consider most advisable ; but I shall be glad to know what decisions you adopt.
The success of the business depends upon our striking at the root ; and even if Drake should have sailed into Spanish waters with a fleet to harass and divert us, as some of our advices from England assert, you will not be deflected from your course, but will continue straight on without seeking the enemy, even though you leave him behind you here. But if he follows or approaches you, you may then attack him ; and the same instructions will serve if you meet Drake at the mouth of the Channel with his fleet, because if their forces are thus divided it would be well to conquer them piecemeal so as to prevent the junction of all of them. If you do not come across the enemy before you arrive off Cape Margate, and find there only the Lord Admiral of England with his fleet, or even if you find the united fleets of the Lord Admiral and Drake, yours should be superior to both of them in quality, and you may, in God's name and cause, give battle to them, trying to gain the wind, and every other advantage, in the hope that our Lord may give you the victory.
There is little to say with regard to the mode of fighting and the handling of the Armada on the day of the battle, as they must depend upon circumstances ; but I have only to press upon you not to miss the gaining of every possible advantage, and so to order the Armada that all parts of it shall be able to fight and lend mutual assistance without confusion or embarrassment. Above all it must be borne in mind that the enemy's object will be to fight at long distance, in consequence of his advantage in artillery, and the large number of artificial fires with which he will be furnished. The aim of our men, on the contrary, must be to bring him to close quarters and grapple with him, and you will have to be very careful to have this carried out. For your information a statement is sent to you describing the way in which the enemy employs his artillery, in order to deliver his fire low and sink his opponent's ships ; and you will take such precautions as you consider necessary in this respect. (fn. 6)
You will be wise enough, in case you gain the victory, not to allow the squadrons of our Armada to get out of hand in their eagerness to chase the enemy. Keep them well together, at least the great mass of them, and give them full instructions beforehand ; especially if you have to fight in the Channel, where double care will have to be exercised in this respect, both coasts being unsafe. In such case you will have to fight so as to win.
Disastrous examples have been seen both on land and sea of the effects of over eagerness in falling to pillage before the victory is absolutely secure. I therefore enjoin you strictly to prevent any disorder arising from this cause, which is apt to produce such terrible results. All hands must continue fighting until the victory is complete, and the benefits will then be secure.
I have ordered the council of war to send you instructions with regard to the distribution of prizes and booty. These instructions must be carried out inviolably.
It must be understood that the above instructions about fighting only hold good in case the passage across to England of my nephew the duke of Parma cannot otherwise be assured. If this can be done without fighting, either by diverting the enemy or otherwise, it will be best to carry it out in this way, and keep your forces intact.
If the Armada shall not have had to fight, you will let my nephew have the 6,000 Spaniards you are to give him ; but if you have had to engage the enemy, the giving of the men to the Duke will have to depend upon the amount of loss you may have sustained in gaining the hoped-for victory.
In the event of the Duke establishing himself on shore you may station the Armada at the mouth of the Thames and support him, a portion of your ships being told off to hold the passage of reinforcements, &c., from Flanders, thus strengthening us on both sides. If circumstances at the time should, in the opinion of the Duke and yourself, render another course desirable you may act in accordance with your joint opinion ; but on your own discretion alone you will not land or undertake anything on shore. This you will only do with the concurrence of the Duke, your sole function on your own account being—what indeed is the principal one— to fight at sea.
Whenever in the course of expeditions dissensions have occurred between the commanders, they have caused victory to be turned into defeat ; and although your zeal for my service leads me to expect from you the loyal co-operation with my nephew the Duke, upon which success depends, I nevertheless enjoin you to keep this point well before you, carrying it out straightforwardly, without varying the design or seeking to interpret it otherwise. I have given to my nephew the Duke similar instructions. You will bear in mind that, if the undertaking be successful, to which result a mutual good understanding between you will largely contribute, there will be ample honour and glory for both of you ; whereas the very reverse will happen in the contrary case, and I hope that for your part you will serve me well in this respect.
You will have to stay there (i.e., in English waters) until the undertaking be successfully concluded, with God's help, and you may then return, calling in and settling affairs in Ireland on the way if the Duke approves of your doing so, the matter being left to your joint discretion. In this case you will leave with the Duke the greater number of the Spaniards you take with you, and receive in exchange for them such of the Italians and Germans as may be deemed necessary for the task.
The experience I have had of your constant efforts towards the economy of my treasury gives me great hope that, in all matters of expenditure connected with the Armada, you will spare as much as possible the money you are carrying with you in the fleet. You know how much trouble it has cost to collect it, and the necessity from which we are suffering, and you will take to heart the care of seeing that the musters are made with great precision, and that no trick is played upon you with regard to the number of men. This is not only a question of expenditure, but very often of success or failure. You will not forget to take particular account of the quality of the victuals, and their good preservation and distribution, so that they may not be exhausted or run short before the time, as the health and maintenance of the men depend so much upon this. You will keep your eyes constantly on the officers of all branches of the service, so that your vigilance may stimulate theirs, and thus that every man on the fleet may be kept on the alert to do his duty. I am sure that there will be no shortcoming on your part, and that you will see that everything is done with due smartness.
You may judge by the importance of the task entrusted to you how anxious we shall be until we receive information of your success. You will therefore be careful to keep me constantly advised of all you do, and everything that happens to you. This is all that need be said at present. The methods and details for carrying out the object, but without changing the plans in any way, are left to your wisdom and experience ; and further instructions shall be sent to you in due course, if such be rendered necessary by circumstances. In the meanwhile I will cause the undertaking to be commended to God Almighty as His own.—Madrid, 1st April 1588. —I, the King.
252. Supplementary Secret Instructions to the Duke Of Medina Sidonia for the command of the Armada.
In addition to the orders contained in your general instructions I desire to remind you briefly of certain other points. You will carry with you on the Armada, with due care, the accompanying despatch for my nephew, the duke of Parma and Plasencia, but you will take notice that it must not be delivered to him until he has either landed in England, or exhibits uncertainty of being able to do so. Until either one or the other of these two things happens you will keep the despatch in your own possession.
When you arrive off Cape Margate, which you must endeavour to do, overcoming the obstacles that may be opposed to you, you will learn where my nephew the Duke wishes you to place the troops with which you are to furnish him, and you will act accordingly. It is my desire that when these troops land they shall he under the command of my Commander-in-Chief of the Light Cavalry of Milan, Don Alonso de Leyva, until the Duke takes them over. You will act accordingly. If God grants us the success we hope for, you will scrupulously fulfil your general instructions ; but if, for our sins, the contrary should happen, and the Duke should be unable to cross to England, or you unable to form a junction with him, you will, after communication with him, consider whether you cannot seize the Isle of Wight, which is apparently not so strong as to be able to resist, and may be defended if we gain it. This will provide for you a safe port for shelter, and will enable you to carry out such operations as may be rendered possible by the importance of the position. It will therefore be advisable for you to fortify yourself strongly there.
If you should have to adopt this course, you will take notice that you should enter by the east side, which is wider than the west. In addition to this the eastern entrance will be more handy for you, because, if you resort to this plan, it will be in consequence of some doubt, or of the failure of the main design, which may lead you to return from Margate. On no account will you enter the Wight on your way up, nor before you have made every possible effort to carry out the main idea. If you obtain possession of the Wight, you will from there come to an understanding with my nephew the Duke, and endeavour mutually to assist each other to the extent of your resources ; everything being directed to the same end, according as circumstances may dictate.
I trust that God in his own cause will guide matters better than we deserve, and that the above eventualities may not happen. They are, however, set forth by way of precaution. It is of the highest importance that, whatever may occur, I should be advised promptly, in order to enable me to give the necessary instructions ; and I therefore once more impress upon you urgently the need of keeping me well informed of everything you may do.
If the Duke my nephew should succeed in capturing Don Antonio in England, and should hand him over to your care according to his instructions, or if Don Antonio in escaping from the Duke should fall into your power, you will have him placed in security, so that he shall not escape, and shall give no more anxiety or disquietude.— Madrid, 1st April.—I, the King.
Note.—The Duke acknowledged receipt of his instructions in a letter dated Lisbon, 11th April, promising the strictest possible compliance with the King's orders. He urgently begs for money to be sent to him, "that being the only thing now wanting."
S. D. April?
Estado, 165.
253. Sealed Document which the Duke Of Medina Sidonia was to deliver to the Duke Of Parma only in case the latter should land in England. In any other event the document was to be returned to His Majesty.
In addition to what I have written to you by the ordinary channels, and my orders with regard to the principal business, you are informed of the object of the undertaking, and of the meeting and negotiations with the English (Peace) Commissioners. But I have also thought advisable to send you the present despatch in the Armada itself, in anticipation of certain possible eventualities.
If the Armada succeeds, either by means of fighting, or in consequence of the unreadiness of the enemy, you will, when the forces from here have arrived to assure your passage across, go over in God's name and carry out the task assigned to you.
But if (which God forbid) the result be not so prosperous that our arms shall be able to settle matters, nor, on the other hand, so contrary that the enemy shall be relieved of anxiety on our account (which God, surely, will not permit) and affairs be so counterbalanced that peace may not be altogether undesirable, you will endeavour to avail yourself as much as possible of the prestige of the Armada and other circumstances, bearing in mind that, in addition to the ordinary conditions which are usually inserted in treaties of peace, there are three principal points upon which you must fix your attention.
The first is, that in England the free use and exercise of our holy Catholic faith shall be permitted to all Catholics, native and foreign, and that those who are in exile shall be permitted to return.
The second is, that all the places in my Netherlands which the English hold shall be restored to me ; and the third is that they (the English) shall recompense me for the injury they have done to me, my dominions, and my subjects ; which will amount to an exceedingly great sum.
These points stand in importance in the order in which they are here enumerated, and although the first is that which I especially demand, you will use your own discretion as to whether you should press it first, or should propose them all together, or begin with the two last. The question of the restitution of the fortresses is also very important, especially that of Flushing ; but with regard to the third point, after you have discussed it thoroughly, and proved that the recompense due to me would be too large for their treasury to meet, you may drop it in favour of the free exercise of the Catholic faith. This is the point upon which you must lay the greatest stress, and secondly, the question of the fortresses. The third point may be used as a lever to obtain the other two.
With regard to the free exercise of Catholicism, you may point out to them that since freedom of worship is allowed to the Huguenots in France, there will be no sacrifice of dignity in allowing the same privilege to Catholics in England. If they retort that I do not allow the same toleration in Flanders as exists in France, you may tell them that their country is in a different position, and point out to them how conducive to their tranquillity it would be to satisfy the Catholics in this way, and how largely it would increase the trade of England and their profits, since, as soon as toleration was brought about, people from all Christendom would flock thither in the assurance of safety ; whilst the commerce of Englishmen in other countries would be carried on without the present vexations. You may add to this such other arguments as you may consider appropriate. However much they may promise it will be a great mistake to suppose that they will fulfil it, unless very good security be given. For this reason efforts should be made to obtain as hostages some persons of rank, with large following, and many friends, or perhaps some English fortresses to hold, even for a limited period of years. During such period we should see how they carried out the conditions. To disregard this point would be to build on the sand, and you must bear this well in mind if the opportunity occurs.
If the principal design should fall through, it would be very influential in bringing them to these, or the best conditions possible, if the Armada were to take possession of the Isle of Wight. If this be once captured, it could be held, and would afford a shelter for the Armada, whilst the possession of it would enable us to hold our own against the enemy. This matter has also been laid before the Duke (of Medina Sidonia), so that in case of failure, and if nothing else can be done, you may jointly with him discuss and decide with regard to it. I have thought well to say thus much, but I hope that God, whose cause it is and to whom I have dedicated the enterprise, will not allow you to fail, but will aid us to convert England, as we desire, for His greater glory.
1 April.
Paris Archives, K. 1567. French.
254. Advices from London.
A general muster has been held in London of those capable of bearing arms, and hardly 10,000 men were found fit. This will appear strange, but it is as true as St. John's Gospel.
There is a great lack of powder here, and no hope of supplying it from that made in England.
A few days ago Drake was almost ready to sail, but things are falling off now. His soldiers are so tired of waiting that they are deserting. He has not more than 1,500 men, and they are decreasing daily.
The victuals which he had supplied are much reduced, and the fitting out of the additional ships for him proceeds very slowly. To tell the truth in two words, everything is being administered very lazily. The only explanation possible of this is that they have hopes of peace.
The Lord Admiral has not half the men he was to have had, and is asking for victuals for another month.
Don Antonio lately attempted something, but I cannot explain the mystery. He was absent at sea for 13 days, and it is said he wanted to escape, but was discovered.
I must relate another circumstance that happened lately ; it seems as if I had nothing but marvels to write about at present. On the window of the Queen's presence chamber at Court were found a vast number of fleas collected together ; and 30 great fish, commonly called porpoises, came up the river to the water gate of the Queen's Court.
Note.—The above is accompanied by a translation into Spanish in an English hand, with many corrections by the King.
2 April
(N.S.) Paris Archives, K. 1567.
255. Advices from London from Pedro de Santa Cruz. (fn. 7)
Although they publish here that there are more ships in the fleets of the Admiral and Drake, the truth is that there are only 50 belonging to the Queen, and 20 merchantmen, with 20 pataches. The number of men of all sorts does not exceed 8,000. As they think these forces too weak to cope with the Spanish fleet, orders have been given to Drake to put to sea. After the Spaniards have been allowed to land, he is to come and burn the Spanish ships, and then land his own men to fight the Spaniards.
There is a ship here loaded with black baizes, bound for Portugal, on account of Dr. Nuñez and his Portuguese brothers-in-law. A ship from Lisbon has arrived here with a cargo of wine, bringing news that the Armada is fitting out apace. The Queen has ordered a general muster here, and the men are found to be much fewer than was expected. Those capable of bearing arms do not reach 10,000.
A young Genoese gentleman, called Philip Centurion, was with the reiters in France, and when they were dispersed came hither. He is a heretic, and was made much of by Horatio Pallavicini, who sent him to Rochelle with letters from the queen of England. He received there 400 crowns on a credit from Horatio Pallavicini, and has gone to Spain with the money. They have news that he is already in Madrid, and it is necessary that he should be arrested. Pallavicini says he did wrong in drawing money against his credit, but as he duly delivered the letters he took for Bearn, he acted honestly in that respect, and he has probably gone to Spain as a spy. This must be so, as otherwise Pallavicini would never have given him a credit for so large a sum.
In the middle of March eight little vessels, called frigates, (fn. 8) sailed for the Indies, with the intention of robbing the boats engaged in the pearl fisheries.
Everybody is quite certain here that the Scots of the English faction will hand over the king of Scotland to them the moment the Queen asks for him.
4 April.
Estado, 950.
256. Count de Olivares to the King.
By my letter of the 1st, your Majesty will have seen the course I had pursued in the matter of the letter from the queen of Scotland to his Holiness, which Cardinal Mondovi had received. The matter remaining as I explained, I have no opportunity at present of trying to obtain possession of the original, so as not to divulge the secret. I will, however, endeavour to get him to bring it if I have a chance. He (the Pope) is very much offended with me just now. The original letter is in the hands of his Holiness, as Mondovi returned it to him, with the certificate of authenticity and recognition of the handwriting. When the Nuncio hands to your Majesty the copies it would be a good opportunity of asking him to write to the Pope for the original, but it would be well not to press him very much ; in order that he may not think that your Majesty attaches vital importance to this authority for your claim. Frankly, it would appear to me more advisable to depend principally upon descent and conquest. If we act coolly there is no doubt we shall get hold of the original letter some day. With regard to your Majesty's remark about the postscript of the letter, I have not heard that the Pope has said or done anything in that respect, but he disgracefully ordered that in the translation, the name (i.e., of Philip) should be written in cipher.
During the pontificate of Pope Gregory, and the beginning of the present reign, credit was given to certain persons who offered to convert the queen of England. It was afterwards discovered that these persons were double spies. The affair was managed by Cardinal Savello, who was considered a very serious person, quite incapable of such a thing.
I have written to the duke of Parma, sending him the papers written by Cardinal Allen, and about the journey of the latter thither.—Rome, 4th April 1588.
5 April.
Paris Archives. K. 1448.
257. The King to Bernardino de Mendoza.
I approve of your having withheld from Semple the knowledge of the mission upon which it was intended to send him to Scotland until you had communicated with the duke of Parma on the fresh points which had occurred to you. I hope and believe that the best course will have been adopted. I am inclined to think that, if he goes, he should at first confine himself to compliments and generalities, and then, just as the principal business is ready, for him to make the statement the Duke wrote to you, as it will then do good rather than harm.
With regard to the three alternatives offered by the earl of Morton, it appears to me that to take up arms at the present time against the Scottish heretics would only have the effect of driving them into closer union with England, and consequently that course must not be entertained. The preventing of the Scots from coming to the aid of England, or the organisation of a Scottish force to attack the English, are both very important, and he (Morton) should be urged to keep his hand on these points so that in due time, when my forces strike elsewhere, they may be effected. You will therefore guide things to this end, but always bearing in mind that they (the Catholics) are Scotsmen, and that no suspicion must be aroused in them about their King which might alienate them from us. They should be principally inflamed by the claims upon them of the Catholic faith, and by the example of their good and saintly Queen. You will know how to manage it with your accustomed dexterity.—Madrid, 5th April 1588.
258. The King to Bernardino de Mendoza.
The letter from the late queen of Scotland to his Holiness, of which you send me a copy, is a great proof of the happy fate that she will have met with in the future life. It is certainly most edifying to read it ; and I thank you, as an especially great service done to me, for your efforts in having the letter sent to Rome, and sending me this translation of it. I thank you, too, for your letter to Count de Olivares about it, who has also been written to from here.
I approve of the letter you caused (Miss) Curle to write to (Miss) Kennedy, and also of your having informed the former of the granting to her of a pension of 300 crowns a year. You did well also with regard to her brother's allowance of 40 crowns a month, and of Gorion's 20 crowns, having regard to the qualities and circumstances of each of them ; and you will pay these pensions as they fall due. For the present it will be well not to talk of their leaving France, where they are under your own eye and protection. By and bye, when we see what effect the letter causes in Rome, and how circumstances turn out, we can consider what had better be done.
Since you think it is desirable, in order to discharge the conscience of the queen of Scotland, that the 2,000 crowns she owed to Charles Arundell should be paid to his guarantors, who were forced to pay on his account the amount for which they were security, I approve of the order sent to you in favour of Arundell being extended to the guarantors. I also approve of the two months and 20 days of his (Arundell's) pension owing at his death being paid in discharge of his debts.
I note the information about the seminary of Pont Monçon, and will have the matter considered.—Madrid, 5th April 1588.
5 April.
Paris Archives, K. 1567.
259. Bernardino de Mendoza to the King.
Your Majesty will see by the enclosed extract from the duke of Parma's letter the decision arrived at with regard to sending the earl of Morton and Colonel Semple to Scotland. I have now despatched both of them, and I hope God will give them good speed, as they are zealous in your Majesty's service. The earl has a large following in Scotland, and Colonel Semple possesses good judgment to advise him as to the conversion of the country and your Majesty's interests, which he promotes as a good servant should. I can assure your Majesty that since he has been here I have been much pleased with his zeal and steadfastness in this matter, and I see not a trace of Scottish prejudice in him. By the two letters of Robert Bruce recently received, your Majesty will see that the going of the Earl and Semple is very opportune.
The advices of 11th March are from Antonio de Vega, and those of 21st are from an Englishman who has gone to reconnoitre Drake's ships at Plymouth.
As I was closing this the archbishop of Glasgow has shown me (a letter) dated in Scotland on the 11th instant, from the bishop of Dunblane. He says that he had spoken with the King that day in Edinburgh, and had been well received both by his Majesty and the Chancellor He had conversed with the latter subsequently, and expected to obtain a favourable despatch shortly, and return to his Holiness. The King intended to send to your Majesty John Seton (who is a servant of your Majesty).
After what Bruce writes to me, and Julio's repetition of the Treasurer's remark about the complete confidence which the queen of England reposes in the king of Scotland, together with the long refusal of the King to receive the bishop of Dunblane, I cannot make out what can be the cause of this sudden change of front, and the kindness shown to the Bishop, not only by the King but by the Chancellor, who is a great heretic, and an adherent of the English faction.
As Morton and Semple have not left Paris, I have informed them of this news, as it is important they should be well posted, in order to avoid being taken in by any such bait as this. It may be suspected that the object of the King and Chancellor is to discover what is going on, unless by deeds they prove otherwise.—Paris, 5th April 1588.
260. Bernardino de Mendoza to the King.
Your Majesty will see how well Julio is acting, in giving me momentary advice of everything touching your Majesty's service. If your Majesty will allow me I will give him some money in recompense. He has informed me of the approaches made by the French towards a closer alliance with England, and I have kept him well instructed on the points I have considered necessary to enable him to get at the bottom of the French designs. At the same time I have managed through Sampson to get indirectly whispered into the ears of the new friend certain intelligence in the guise of news, which would confirm what I had given him (Julio) notice of. This will cause him to do his business more handsomely, without thinking that the discourse comes from me.
The new confidant tells me that on the 18th ("ultimo" in the King's hand) this King sent a valet-de-chambre to the English ambassador to say that he wished to see him privately. He went and found the King alone in the garden of the Reformed Monks of St. Bernard. (fn. 9) His Majesty received him with extraordinary demonstrations of welcome, reminding him that he had been brought up in France, and had been in high favour with his brother the Duke (i.e., of Alencon), and that he (the King) held him in great esteem. It is true, he said, that he had not hitherto done anything for him (the ambassador), but as he now saw that both his mistress (i.e., Elizabeth) and himself (Henry III.) would be ruined if she made peace with your Majesty, he assured him that if he was instrumental in breaking off the negotiations he would promise him on his word of honour to give him the same reward as he could expect from his mistress. The ambassador thanked him, and promised to write and use his influence with his mistress if the King would give him a note to enable him to do so. Julio writes me that the ambassador had been instructed to answer in this way, in order to discover what this King was willing to offer the Queen. The ambassador said he could hardly write to his mistress saying she had better not come to terms with Spain without giving her some reason. To this the King replied that the Pope and your Majesty had joined against his mistress, and had tried to bring him and the Venetians into the alliance ; but they had both refused, the latter saying that they would follow his (the king of France's lead). He could assure the queen of England that if she made peace with your Majesty it would not last three months, for your Majesty would employ all your forces in helping the League to ruin him, and she might well imagine what would happen to her afterwards. The King repeated all this very earnestly, and prayed him several times to do his best to break off the peace negotiations, in which case he would give him a reward commensurate with the service. As the King would not descend to particulars, Julio writes to me that the ambassador in his despatch to the Queen simply repeated what the King said, but added that he did not guarantee it in any way, and was inclined to look upon it as "French discourse." Although Secretary Pinart, Marshal de Biron, and Abbé Guadagni said that France would aid her with double the force they were called upon to employ by the terms of the alliance, the King did not touch upon this point. From what I can see, this King would like to prevent the Queen from coming to terms with your Majesty, without binding himself to further details, as he fears that if he openly states the conditions the Queen will publish them, and make use of his approaches to irritate still further the French Catholics.
Touching on this point, the Nuncio told me that this King was not in a position to help the queen of England, and he (the Nuncio) therefore hoped she would not come to terms with your Majesty, now that you were so well armed. If peace were not made, he said, your Majesty's great forces must necessarily be turned against England, and this would distress this King as much as if the Queen came to terms with you ; and he (the Nuncio) did not see how the French could extricate themselves either way.
The French ambassador in England tries to dissuade the Queen from coming to terms with your Majesty, and at the same time to prevail upon Bearn to submit to this King, but without, up to the present, descending to particulars.
Julio writes to me under date of 12th ultimo, that the Treasurer had laid before the Queen a statement of the objections to allowing Drake to sail whilst negotiations were in progress, recommending that the result of the first meeting of the Commissioners should be awaited ; and, in view of this result, Drake should be allowed to sail or not. He (Julio) writes under date of 26th ultimo, that the Treasurer had left the Court for a four days' stay at a pleasure-house of his, and that during his absence Leicester and Walsingham had urged the Queen to let Drake sail at once. She consented to this, and ordered him without fail to sail on the 28th, but he (Julio) did not know whether this would be altered on the return of the Treasurer.
Julio also writes that the Queen has ordered her ambassador here to reply to the King respecting his request that the ambassador would use his influence with her to persuade Bearn to submit and become a Catholic, that she could hardly act as the King wished : first, because it was not fitting for anyone to seek to rule the conscience of another ; secondly, because she was not sure whether it would be advantageous either to her or the King for her to do as he asked, since they were both of different religions ; and, thirdly, because if she did advise Bearn, and he did not agree, it would be a great rebuff for her. These she thought sufficient reasons for the King to excuse her from moving in the matter, but she would willingly serve him in all else. The new confidant tells me that Marshal de Biron saw the English ambassador on the 29th instant at a banquet, and told him not to dissemble any longer, as they well knew that his mistress had agreed with your Majesty, and that a truce had been settled for four years, greatly to the prejudice of France. The sending of the Commissioners to Flanders, he said, had been merely dissimulation. The ambassador replied that he knew nothing of all this ; whereupon Biron had retorted "You want to ruin us." The ambassador said he wished his mistress would come to terms with Spain, and that the subjects of both nations might trade freely. "In such case," he continued, "I can truly assure you we should not trouble ourselves much, about France." As they were hurried Biron told him that he would go and see him at his house later, when they could discuss the matter more at length.
In the same letter of 26th Julio writes with regard to Scotland that, when the queen of England learnt of the gathering of the Scottish Catholics, she had caused the King to be informed that if he was not strong enough to suppress the rebellion she would give him all the aid he required. The King (who is more devoted to her than ever) replied that at present he was able to pacify the rebels in his realm, but in case he should require help later he would accept her offer at once.
I informed Julio of what your Majesty orders in yours of the 6th ultimo, namely, that he is to dissuade the Queen from drawing closer to the French, but rather to seek your Majesty ; adding what was necessary in view of events here. I understand he is doing his best to succeed. The Nuncio also received the information I gave him about England in a way that convinces me that he communicates it to his Holiness, and this is confirmed by the intelligence I received from the count de Olivares.—Paris, 5th April 1588.
261. Bernardino de Mendoza to the King.
In my last I reported that advices of 2nd March said that Drake had not sailed, and this is confirmed by letters of 9th, 16th, and 19th, and the latest of all, 25th, asserts that the Queen had despatched Drake to set sail, which it was believed he would shortly do, if the weather served.
A cannon had exploded on Drake's flagship, killing 35 men and wounding seven, and the English had looked upon this as an evil omen. They were, however, very glad at the death of the marquis of Santa Cruz, which they think will prevent the sailing of the Armada as soon as was intended.
Since the Admiral carried the Commissioners across, he has been cruising in the Channel, on the coast of Flanders and England ; the wind being favourable he ran into Flushing He has sent to the ambassador here, who is his brother-in-law, the memorandum which I now enclose, containing a statement of the ships which he and Drake will have, with which to encounter the Armada. He (the ambassador ?) has published this statement with great boasting, saying that one of their ships will fight five of your Majesty's. As the English Catholics here have declared that most of the Queen's ships are rotten, the ambassador here reported to the lord Admiral that I was spreading this rumour, and he has replied—as is published here by the ambassador—that he is glad for me to send your Majesty such news as this, and he (the Admiral) was only sorry that peace negotiations were going on, which might prevent him from coming to close quarters with your Majesty's fleet.
The Admiral asserts that 12,000 men, of all sorts, will go in the two fleets, and from this it may be judged that the number will be greatly inferior. The assertion that the Queen's ships are worn out is confirmed by the Admiral in the memorandum in question, as he confesses that four of the largest of them, which have been fitting out for sea for the last four months, have not joined him yet.
They report from England that Walsingham says he has advices from Italy that your Majesty's fleet was intended more for defence than for offence, and that his Holiness, after dinner one day, said : "Clear this table ; let us go to the war in England." I also understand, through the new confidant, that English ships are said to be ranging the south seas, and doing more harm than was done by Drake.
The English ambassador here had audience of the King, with the rest of the ambassadors, on the 31st ultimo, and as he left he told Gondi that a courier had reached him just as he getting into the coach to go to the audience, and it would, therefore, be necessary for him to see the King again. An appointment was made for the 5th, although, as I have said, he had seen the King with the rest of the ambassadors, who had all been summoned for one day on the ground that the King would not have time to receive any of them during the next week. By this it may be concluded that he is willing enough to receive the Englishman. If I can discover what passes I will report. Letters dated the 25th advise that there was little hope of the Commissioners being able to arrange anything in the way of peace, as the duke of Parma was delaying matters, and the rebel States had again sent deputies to England to show the Queen that it would not suit her to negotiate peace with your Majesty, as your only aim, and that of the duke of Parma, was to beguile her, and in the meanwhile treat with some of the Dutch towns to obtain possession of them. They recommend her to make the following conditions in any negotiations for peace with Spain :—First, that the past shall be forgotten ; second, that all foreigners should leave the country (i.e., Flanders) ; third, that all offices should be filled by natives ; and fourth, that liberty of conscience should be accorded. Even if these terms be conceded, she must see what security the duke of Parma would give for their fulfilment. To this the Queen replied that she would settle nothing without letting them, the States, know ; and with regard to the advice given as to terms, and the security demanded, it was for the Queen to advise them and not for them to advise the Queen. (fn. 10) They had better wait until the conference commenced, and they would then see what they might expect from her. She asked them (the deputies) to write to Holland, begging that those who had been banished from Leyden for complicity in the plot of the earl of Leicester to seize the country should be pardoned.
Letters from Scotland of 2nd, 8th, and 15th ultimo, state that the king of Scotland had requested the earl of Huntly to bring before him Father Gordon, of the Society of Jesus, which he did ; and the King had a disputation with the Jesuit, particulars of which are adjoined. The report of the discussion is from a letter written by Father Creighton of the society. I hear that after the disputation the King said, in his chamber, that Gordon did not understand the scripture, which is a fairly bold thing to say, only that the King has the assurance to translate "Revelations," and to write upon the subject as if he were Amadis de Gaul himself.
There had been a meeting in Scotland on the matter referred to in the enclosed advices. Last letters, of 15th, state that the earl of Huntly, although he had been with the King in Edinburgh, at some risk, had returned to the north.—Paris, 5th April 1588.
S.D. Paris Archives, K. 1567. French. 262. Statement of what passed between the King of Scotland and Father Gordon, of the Society of Jesus.
On the 5th February the earl of Huntly was requested by the King to send to him his uncle, Mr. James Gordon, of the Company of Jesus, on the King's promise that no evil should happen to him, but that he should be sent to some place of safety until the proper time for sailing. On the 5th February he was sent to the King, who received him kindly, lodged him in the palace, and ordered Patrick Murray, gentleman of his chamber, to provide for him everything he required.
After dinner the King disputed with him in his chamber on controversial points of religion from 2 o'clock till 7, in the presence of all his officers and the gentlemen of the Court as well as some of the principal ministers, whom the King commanded not to speak. The King proposed divers points, such as the invocation of the saints, the communion sub utrusque specie, justification, and predestination. Mr. Gordon replied to the long discourse of the King. He (the King) is naturally eloquent, has a keen intelligence, and a very powerful memory, for he knows a great part of the Bible by heart. He cites not only the chapters but even the verses, in a perfectly marvellous way. Mr. James (Gordon) replied briefly, praising the King's good parts, and saying that no one could use his arguments better, nor quote the Scriptures and other authorities more effectively.
On two points the King was convinced and agreed with Mr. James, as to justification and predestination, but he said that this was not a papist doctrine, and that he (Gordon ?) would not sign his hand to it. Mr. James replied that he would both write it and sign it ; and was certain that all Catholic Princes would do likewise. He (Gordon) did write and sign his adherence to the doctrine, and gave it to his Majesty, whereupon the King said that Gordon would never more dare to go back to the Jesuits or Papists, or they would burn him for such a confession.
The preliminary speech the King made before the dispute was very appropriate. Amongst other things, he said that, though he was very constant in his beliefs, he was not so obstinate as to refuse to submit to those who knew better than himself, and he thought there were many persons who held heretical opinions out of simplicity and want of understanding as to what they ought to believe. He would not harm such people, he said, but would wait until it pleased God to show them the truth.
5 April.
Paris Archives, K. 1567.
263. Bernardino de Mendoza to the King.
I learn by the advices of Sampson and Vega that Don Antonio went out of London for change of air, and Julio writes on 25th ultimo that they had caught him near Dover with Captain Perrin (whom I know well), who was trying to get him out of England. The Queen signified to Don Antonio that he placed very little confidence in her promise that he should be safe in her country if he wanted to leave it without her knowledge. She said he might rest tranquil. She would not agree to anything prejudicial to him. She ordered Perrin to be put into prison.
The new confidant caused me to delay this courier two days, in the belief that the English ambassador was to have audience of the King. As the audience has been deferred I think better not to delay the courier longer, especially as it is improbable that anything will be said, except what Julio writes to me the ambassador has been instructed to reply to the King with regard to persuading Bearn to become a Catholic.
It is asserted here that your Majesty has an understanding in the ports of Brittany and Normandy, and that the Spanish fleet will go thither. The new confidant assures me that this intelligence was sent to the English ambassador by the King, with a message to the effect that if that happened, with France in its present divided condition, he (the ambassador) could easily imagine what would happen to his Mistress. He begged the ambassador to write to the Queen at once about it, and to point out to her how important it was that Drake and the Admiral should put to sea immediately, and encounter your Majesty's fleet in Spanish waters. If the ambassador is not a simpleton, he will see easily now that the French want to make England a catspaw.—Paris, 5th April 1588.
5 April.
Estado, 594.
264. Duke of Parma to the King.
Since God has been pleased to defer for so long the sailing of the Armada from Lisbon, we are bound to conclude that it is for His greater glory, and the more perfect success of the business ; since the object is so exclusively for the promotion of His holy cause. The enemy have thereby been forewarned and acquainted with our plans, and have made all preparations for their defence ; so that it is manifest that the enterprise, which at one time was so easy and safe, can only now be carried out with infinitely greater difficulty, and at a much larger expenditure of blood and trouble.
I am anxiously awaiting news of the departure of the duke of Medina Sidonia with his fleet, and am confident that your Majesty will have taken care that the expedition shall be as strong and efficient as is necessary in the interest of your service. I am sure also, that your Majesty will have adopted all necessary measures for the carrying out of the task of protecting my passage across, so that not the smallest hitch shall occur in a matter of such vital importance. Failing this, and the due co-operation of the Duke with me, both before and during the actual landing, as well as afterwards, I can hardly succeed as I desire in your Majesty's service.
The troops are in their places, and the infantry handy, as I have already assured your Majesty, but the cavalry are much scattered, as there was no more food for them anywhere nearer ; and I was obliged to send them to Hainault and Tournoi. I have done, and am doing everything I possibly can to keep them together, and in good heart, knowing as I do how important it is in your Majesty's interest, and how much depends upon it for me personally ; but withal the infantry does not exceed 18,000 men, although some Walloons who had gone to their homes are being brought back again.
I humbly beg your Majesty that this matter, so important in the interest of God and your Majesty, shall not be lost sight of. Even if they give me the 6,000 Spaniards from the Armada, as no doubt it is intended to do, my force will still be weak, considering that the enemy will be fully prepared, whilst the sickness and factions that will occur will still further reduce my numbers. It is important, therefore, that no delay or failure should occur on this important point.
With regard to the peace negotiations, since the date of my last despatch Secretary Garnier has returned from Ostend, where he was made much of. On his attempting to come to some decision as to the place for the first meeting, they (the English) requested that it should be held in Ostend for the sake of appearances. But, as far as could be gathered, they were still without decided instructions from England, and it is probable that they may be delaying matters for their own ends and to our prejudice. These delays are not altogether unfavourable for your Majesty's objects. It is well that people here, who are so anxious for peace, should see that the English and not we are the cause of the delay. In the meanwhile vigilance is being exercised everywhere, in case some evil design should underlie it.—Ghent, 5th April 1588.


  • 1. I cannot trace this ship or captain in the English lists.
  • 2. This was formerly the famous merchant galleon "Ughtred," of which mention has been made in this Calendar, Leicester now being her principal owner, her name had been changed.
  • 3. Mendoza, in a letter to the King of 5th April, says that this list had been sent by the Lord Admiral to his brother-in-law. Sir Edward Stafford, the English ambassador in France.
  • 4. In the original French list this ship is called the "Arundell," (i.e., Hirondelle), but it is translated into Spanish as "Golondrina" (Swallow).
  • 5. In most cases both the tonnage of the vessels and the numbers of men and guns appear to be exaggerated in the above list as compared with the official accounts in England. See the list already quoted in Laughton's "Defeat of the Armada."
  • 6. The tactics of the English to fire very low and damage the hulls of the enemy's ships is frequently mentioned. It was urged upon Philip as early as 1574 by the Portuguese spy, Fogaza. See Vol. II. of this Calendar, p. 480.
  • 7. See this man's report, dated 27 February.
  • 8. Fragatas.
  • 9. The garden of the Reformed Bernardino Monastery led out of the gardens of the Tuilleries on the spot now occupied by the Rue Castiglione.
  • 10. As stated in a former letter, it had been the intention of the States to be represented directly by Marnix de Saint Aldegonde at the conferences of the Peace Commissioners. They had altered their minds, and the only means by which they could now present their view of the case was through the English Commissioners.