Simancas: May 1588, 11-20

Pages 287-299

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

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May 1588, 11-20

13 May.
Estado, 594.
290. Duke Of Parma to the King.
With regard to the going of Colonel Semple to Scotland, I have to say that in accordance with the arrangement made by Don Bernardino de Mendoza, the earl of Morton, and Semple, the two latter left Paris, and whilst Morton remained at St. Omer, Semple came hither to consult me with regard to the decision they had adopted. The substance of it was, that they were to go to Scotland by way of Dunkirk, as I have already informed your Majesty, and that on their arrival they would endeavour to take up arms in defence of the Catholic party. If they could seize some port whither aid could be sent to them they were to do so, and at the proper time (and not before) they were to march upon the English border, for the purpose of making a diversion. With these objects they were to use the 10,000 crowns taken by Bruce last year for the ships, and the 3,000 sent to them at the same time for masts, rigging, &c. It was left to them and other Catholics whether they should or should not approach the King (of Scotland) in my name. When Semple had conveyed his message to me, he left to join the earl of Morton, and take ship at night from Dunkirk. Our Lord blessed them with such fair weather that they landed in the north of Scotland within four days from their departure. They went ashore in a fishing boat which they met, sending back to Dunkirk the ship in which they had come without its having been seen from the land. This ship made her return voyage as quickly, without meeting with any impediment, from which it may be concluded that his Divine Majesty deigns to bless our cause also by this means. The Scotch Catholics have promised to keep us well informed, and I have no doubt they will do so, as they have no other support or protection than your Majesty. As they seem to be acting so well, it is only right that they should be held in account, and aided with money, &c., in order that they may not be lost.—Bruges, 13th May 1588.
291. Duke Of Parma to the King.
I deal in another letter with the peace negotiations, and I have only in this to reply to the remarks on the subject contained in your Majesty's despatches of 7th and 17th ultimo. The power written in French, which your Majesty was good enough to send me, shall only be used strictly under the circumstances and in the way stated by your Majesty ; the object of the power being to keep the negotiations on foot as long as possible, and not for the purpose of being used for concluding any arrangement. As they (the English Commissioners) have, so far, been satisfied with the authority I have given to our Commissioners on your Majesty's behalf, the new power may perhaps not have to be presented or published. It was, however, advisable to send it, in order to avoid the breaking off of the negotiations for want of it, and the annoyance which would be occasioned to your subjects here, who so earnestly desire peace, if the negotiations were to fall through from any fault on our side. I will do my best to keep the conferences going, both whilst things remain as they are, and, if possible, after hostilities are impending, as your Majesty orders ; although I am not very confident of being able to do it, as the Commissioners are sure to take fright and suspend the negotiations. If they get news of the certain coming of the Armada whilst they are at Ostend—where they still remain—I expect they will try to cross over to England as soon as they can. We will do our best in any case ; and if they are in one of your Majesty's towns and refuse to stay here, but consent to continue the negotiations in England itself, they shall be conveyed across politely, and everything guided in the way your Majesty orders. Your Majesty shall be kept fully informed of what is done, although I fervently trust that the mercy of God, the justice of the cause, and your Majesty's holy object, may render it unnecessary for us to discuss the question of peace much longer.—Bruges, 13th May 1588.
292. Duke Of Parma to the King.
I am informed by your Majesty's letters that your Armada, uuder the duke of Medina Sidonia, was quite ready to sail, and am rejoiced to hear that it is coming so well provided with men, and everything else necessary. I assure myself that this must be the case, as nothing less could be expected from your Majesty's great experience and prudence, knowing, as your Majesty does, how very much depends upon this point. I am anxiously looking from hour to hour for news of the Duke, as I do not think he can fail to send soon, to assure me that I shall be duly supported. There shall not, on my part, be the least shortcoming in the interests of your Majesty's service and the carrying out of the enterprise. In view of circumstances here, and my own experience of affairs on this side, I will state, with my usual frankness, what occurs to me, so that, between the Duke and myself, we may take such steps as may result in the success of the cause of God and your Majesty. (fn. 1) When my passage across is assured, according to the plan laid down, I will do my share by leading over the troops. When we have gained a footing on shore, I trust in Almighty God that my management of affairs may be such as to gain for me our Majesty's approval, and that you may recognise by my acts that my zeal and willingness are such as ensure that there shall be no shortcoming on my part. In the fulfilment of my duty, and in return for the confidence your Majesty reposes in me, I will still devote my life to your service, as I have done for long past ; and will employ all the alacrity and earnestness which can be demanded from the humblest, most faithful, and loyal servant that your Majesty possesses.
I note that there will be no failing with regard to the 6,000 effective Spaniards which the Duke is to give me, and I am sorry that, for the reasons your Majesty lays down, he will not be able to let me have any more. The Spaniards must be our right arm in this business, and we have very few of them here, although the veterans of them are the best in the world ; so that in the interest of the success of the enterprise I wish the number could be increased. We are short of good pilots and even of seamen. If the passage were a long one we could not venture upon it. The reason for this is, not that the few (seamen) we have are not well treated, or that we have neglected to obtain more, but because the well-disposed ones are so few, and the Hollanders and Zeelanders are forbidden under heavy penalties to serve us. I can therefore only send the Duke those who went with Domingo de Vellota, who are the very best and most experienced on these coasts. I feel this lack more than I can say, as I understand how very important it is that the Duke should be well supplied with pilots. But I trust that God, in whose cause we are striving, will help and favour us that we may succeed as we desire.
With regard to the rumour that your Majesty orders to be spread at the entrance (into England), that our object is the reform of religion, and that Cardinal Allen is coming with the apostolic authority to absolve them, and settle matters of religion, I will take all due care, for the reasons which have been stated on other occasions. It is evident that the majority of the Catholics in England are not so entirely mortified as to be free from their humours.
The count de Olivares has sent me from Rome a discourse and declaration drawn up in English by Allen, with the object referred to, in order that it may be printed and spread over England at the time of the invasion. It shall first be translated, so that we may see whether there is anything to suppress or add to it, and it shall then be printed in the form of a short proclamation, containing the principal heads of the discourse, as Allen himself agrees. I have no doubt that Allen's aid, both in the important religious questions, and in other political affairs, will be extremely advantageous, seeing his great influence amongst the Catholics, and his goodness, efficiency, and learning.
If the duke of Medina Sidonia should encounter and fight the enemy's fleet in any place where I can help him, either in the way suggested by your Majesty or any other, I will not neglect the opportunity of doing my best. In this respect, and in having the troops collected (which principally depends upon having money to keep them), as well as in all else your Majesty orders, I will strive with all my strength, understanding, and heart to carry out my share of the task.
There is no accommodation for sheltering the troops ; for the towns where the Spanish infantry and the cavalry are can positively no longer bear the burden, but I have decided to issue orders for the whole of them to take the field, with the object mainly of having them handy for embarkation, choosing the ports that were most convenient for them—Nieuport, Dunkirk, or Gravelines. This order will be carried out with all speed, and as time is so advanced, and affairs in Lisbon in the condition your Majesty informs me, I hope before the men are mustered to have news from the Duke that the Armada is approaching, and that, consequently, I shall have to busy myself rather with embarking the men than with housing them.—Bruges, 13th May 1588.
Estado, 455.
293. Extracts from the "General Orders," issued by the Duke Of Medina Sidonia, to the men of all ranks on the Armada at Lisbon.
First and foremost, you must all know, from the highest to the lowest, that the principal reason which has moved his Majesty to undertake this enterprise is his desire to serve God, and to convert to His church many peoples and souls who are now oppressed by the heretical enemies of our holy Catholic faith, and are subjected to their sects and errors. In order that this aim should be kept constantly before the eyes of all of us I enjoin you to see that, before embarking, all ranks be confessed and absolved, with due contrition for their sins. I trust this will be the case with everybody, and that by this means and our zeal to serve God effectually, we may be guided as may seem best to Him in whose cause we strive.
I also enjoin you to take particular care that no soldier, sailor, or other person in the Armada shall blaspheme, or deny Our Lord, Our Lady, or the Saints, under very severe punishment to be inflicted at our discretion. With regard to other less serious oaths, the officers of the ships will do their best to repress their use, and will punish offenders by docking their wine rations ; or in some other way at their discretion. As these disorders usually arise from gambling, you will endeavour to repress this as much as possible, especially the prohibited games, and allow no play at night on any account.
In order to avoid the troubles that might otherwise arise to this Armada, I hereby proclaim a truce for, and take into my own hands, all quarrels, disputes, insults, and challenges that up to the publication of these orders may have occurred between any persons, soldiers or sailors of any rank, or other persons whatever, who may be in this fleet, such suspension to last during the whole time of our expedition, and a month afterwards. The order holds good with all disputes, even those of long standing, and I expressly command that this truce shall on no account be violated, directly or indirectly, under pain of death for treason. As it is an evident inconvenience, as well as an offence to God, that public or other women should be permitted to accompany such an Armada, I order that none shall be taken on board. If any attempt be made to embark women, I authorise the captains and masters of ships to prevent it, and if it be done surreptitiously the offenders must be severally punished.
Every morning at daybreak the ships' boys shall, as usual, say their "Good morrow," at the foot of the mainmast, and at sunset the Ave Maria. Some days, and at least every Saturday, they shall say the Salve with the Litany.
It is of the greatest importance to the success of the Armada that there should exist perfect good feeling and friendship between soldiers and sailors, and that there should be no possibility of quarrels amongst them, or other cause of scandal. I therefore order that no man shall carry a dagger, and that on no account shall offence be given on either side, but that all shall obey their officers. If any scandal should arise, the originator of it shall be severely punished.
When my galleon the "San Martin," the principal flagship of the fleet, shall fire a signal gun, this will be the order for sailing, and everything will then be at once put in order for immediate departure ; so that when the bugle sounds, all the ships may, without delay or confusion, be able to take their places. When I hoist my sails to leave, the rest of the ships will do the same, taking great care to avoid shallows and snags, and carrying the longboats and skiffs ready in case of need. When the ships are out at sea, each one will come to leeward of the flagship to salute and ask for orders ; and if it be in the evening to ask for the watchword. They will endeavour to avoid preceding the flagship, either by night or day, and will be very careful to keep a good look-out.
The ships will come to the flagship every evening to learn the watchword and receive orders ; but as it may be difficult for so many large ships to do this daily without fouling each other, the generals and chiefs of squadrons will be careful to obtain the watchword in good time, so that they may communicate it to the other ships of their respective squadrons. The flagship must be saluted by bugles if there are any on board, or by fifes, and two cheers from the crews. When the response has been given the salute must be repeated. If the hour be late, the watchword must be requested, and when it has been obtained another salute must be given, and the ship will then make way for others.
In case the weather should make it impossible to obtain the watchword on any days, the following words must be employed :—
Sunday, Jesus.
Monday, Holy Ghost.
Tuesday, Most Holy Trinity.
Wednesday, Santiago.
Thursday, The Angels.
Friday, All Saints.
Saturday, Our Lady.
It is of great importance that the Armada should be kept well together, and the generals and chiefs of squadrons must endeavour to sail in as close order as possible. The ships and pataches under Don Antonio Hurtado de Mendoza will keep next to my flagship, except six of them, two of which will follow Don Pedro de Valdez's flagship, two that of Martin de Bertondona, and the remaining two that of Juan Gomez de Medina. These six must be told off at once in order to avoid confusion. Great care and vigilance must be exercised to keep the squadron of hulks always in the midst of the fleet. The order about not preceding the flagship must be strictly obeyed, especially at night.
No ship belonging to, or accompanying the Armada, shall separate from it without my permission. If any should be forced out of the course by tempest, before arriving off Cape Finisterre, they will make direct for that point, where they will find orders from me ; but if no such orders be awaitiDg them, they will then make for Corunna, where they will receive orders. Any infraction of this order shall be punished by death and forfeiture.
On leaving Cape Finisterre the course will be to the Scilly Isles, and ships must try to sight the islands from the south, taking great care to look to their soundings. If on the voyage any ships should get separated, they are not to return to Spain on any account, the punishment for disobedience being forfeiture and death with disgrace ; but are to continue on the course, and endeavour to sight the Scillys from the south. If on their arrival there the Armada be behind them, they will cruise off the place, keeping up to windward, until the Armada appears, or they have satisfied themselves that it has passed them, in which case they will make for Mount's Bay, Saint Michael's, between Cape Longnose (Land's End) and the Lizard, where instructions will await them if the Armada be not there.
Great care must be exercised in watching the flagship at night, to see whether she alters her course. If she puts about she will first fire a gun, and when she is on her new tack she will show a fresh light on her poop, apart from her lantern. The other ships must acknowledge this by showing an extra light. When the flagship shortens sail she will show two lights, one at the poop, and the other half way up the rigging.
When for any reason she may take in or shorten all her sails, she will show three lights—one astern, one in the rigging, and the other at the maintop. She will also fire a gun for the other ships to do the same. They will answer by numerous lights astern.
If any misfortune should befall any ship at night, which may cause her to take in all her sails, she will fire a great gun, and burn a beacon signal all night, and the other vessels near her will burn many lights, so that she may be seen. They will stand by till daylight, and, if the need be great, will fire another gun.
Men of quick sight will be always stationed at the masthead on the look-out, particularly at sunrise and sunset, and they must count the sails of the Armada. In the event of their discovering any in excess, the main topsail will be twice dipped and a gun fired, when the ships near will give chase and overhaul the intruders, so that they may not escape. Any captain whose negligence allows such a ship to get away will be punished. If, however, the flagship gives the signal by gunfire for the ships to rejoin, they will do so, even though they are on the point of capturing the intruder.
When any number of sails up to four be sighted by a ship, she will take in her maintopsail, hoist a flag over her maintopsail yard, and fire a gun ; but if she discovers a greater number of sails than four she will hoist a flag to her mainmast head, take in her maintopsail, and fire two guns in succession, trying to give notice to the flagship. When the latter perceives the signals the ship will resume her position.
When a ship sights land ahead, she will signal by taking in both of her topsails at the same time. If land ahead be sighted by a ship at night, she will fire a gun and put her bows to seaward, burning two lights at her poop. Those who perceive the signals will also put about on the same tack, showing two lights astern.
When the flagship has anything to communicate, she will hoist a flag at the poop, near the lantern, and the other ships will then approach to learn what she has to say.
If (which God forbid) any ship should catch fire, those near her will give her a wide berth, but will send their longboats and skiffs alongside to help her, the rest of the ships doing the same.
Great care must be taken to extinguish the galley fire before sunset.
The soldiers must allow the rations to be distributed by those appointed for the duty, and must not themselves go down and take or choose them by force, as they have sometimes done.
The sergeant or some other company officer must be present at the distribution to prevent disorder. The rations must be served out early, so that supper shall be finished before nightfall.
Let no ship under my command dare to enter port or cast anchor until the flagship has first done so, unless by my written order, on pain of exemplary punishment.
The military officers must see that the soldiers' arms are kept clean, ready for service ; and, in any case, must cause them to be cleaned twice a week. They must also exercise their men in the use of their arms, so that they may be expert when needed.
During the voyage orders will be given with regard to the duty of each man in an engagement, but I order that great care be taken that the bombardiers have ready the usual buckets and tubs full of vinegar and water, and all the customary preparations of old sails, and wet blankets, to protect the ships against fire thrown upon them.
The same care must also be exercised that there are plenty of balls made ready, with the necessary powder and fire match ; and that the soldiers are supplied by the magazine keeper with the proper weight of ammunition as ordered for each ship.
I also order that the soldiers' quarters be kept clear of boxes and other things, and that truckle beds are not to be allowed in any of the ships. If any such exist they are to be demolished immediately, and I order the sailors not to allow them. If the infantry possess them let the sailors inform me thereof, and I will have them removed. (fn. 2)
As the mariners have to attend to the working of the ship their quarters should be the fore and poop castles, out of the way of the soldiers who might embarrass them. They are to retain these quarters during all the voyage.
The cannon must be kept in good order, loaded with ball, and near each piece must be placed its magazine with ammunition. Let great care be taken with the cartridges of each piece, to avoid their taking fire, and let the loaders and spongers be near at hand.
Each ship will carry two shallop loads of casting stones, to be made use of during a fight. They will be divided between the deck, the poop, and the tops.
Every ship, according to its tonnage and artillery, will carry the half pipes necessary, to be filled with water on the day of battle, when they will be distributed between the pieces and the upper works, as may be advisable. Near them should be kept some old rags or blankets, to wet and stifle any fire that may break out. The artificial fire should be entrusted to the most experienced men, to be used when necessary. If this is not confided beforehand to men who understand the management of it great damage may result.
By the same rule that no ship is to precede the flagship, particularly at night, no vessel is to lag behind it. Let each ship sail according to her speed and burden, as it is very important that the Armada should keep together. This is urged very particularly upon captains, masters, and pilots.
A copy of these instructions signed by me, and countersigned by my secretary, will be sent to each ship of the fleet, and will be publicly read by the notary on board ; in order that sailors and soldiers alike may be informed of them, and not plead ignorance. The said notaries are ordered to read these instructions three times a week publicly, and to obtain due testimony that they have done so. Any neglect of this shall be severely punished.
All this must be publicly made known, and inviolably obeyed. In the interests of his Majesty's service no infraction whatever is to be allowed of any portion of these orders, or otherwise the offenders shall be well punished at our discretion. On board the galleon "San Martin," off Belem, the — 1588.—Duke Of Medina Sidonia.
Note.—There is in the National Library at Madrid (G. 139.201) a contemporary manuscript, apparently intended to be issued to the men on the Armada at the same time as the above. It is a fervid and violent exhortation, reciting in inflammatory language the whole case against England, and is headed : "An Address to the Captains and Men on the Armada." Its abuse of the Queen passes all bounds, and it is asserted that the heretics in England are few in number, and that the great majority of the people are Catholics, eagerly awaiting an opportunity of welcoming the Armada. As an instance of the means employed to maintain the enthusiasm of the men on the Armada, the concluding paragraphs of the address are subjoined. It is right to say, however, that there is on the document itself nothing to show that it was official :—
"Onward, gentlemen, onward! Onward with joy and gladness, onward to our glorious, honourable, necessary, profitable, and not difficult undertaking. Glorious to God, to His church, to His saints and to our country. Glorious to God, who for the punishment of England has allowed Himself to be banished from the land, and the holy sacrifice of the Mass to be abolished. Glorious to His church, now oppressed and downtrodden by the English heretics. Glorious to the saints, who have been there persecuted and maltreated, insulted, and burnt. Glorious for our country, because God has deigned to make it His instrument for such great ends. Necessary for the prestige of our King, necessary for the preservation of the Indies, with the fleets and treasures which come therefrom. Profitable because, by God's help, the war in Flanders will be ended, and we shall be saved the drain of blood and substance which it draws from Spain ; profitable also because of the plunder and endless riches we shall gather in England, and with which, by the favour of God, we shall return, gloriously and victoriously, to our homes. We are going on an undertaking which offers no great difficulty, because God, in whose sacred cause we go, will lead us. With such a Captain we need not fear. The saints of Heaven will go in our company, and particularly the holy patrons of Spain ; and those of England itself, who are persecuted by the heretics, and cry aloud to God for vengeance, will come out to meet us and aid us, as well as those who sacrificed their lives in establishing our holy faith in the land, and watered it with their blood. There we shall find awaiting us the aid of the blessed John Fisher, cardinal-bishop of Rochester, of Thomas More, of John Forrest, and of innumerable holy Carthusians, Franciscans, and other religious men, whose blood was cruelly shed by King Henry, and who call to God to avenge them from the land in which they died. There, too, shall we have the help of Edmund Campion, of Ralph Sherwin, of Alexander Briant, of Thomas Cotton, and many other venerable priests and servants of the Lord, whom Elizabeth has torn to pieces with atrocious cruelty and exquisite torments. With us, too, will be the blessed and innocent Mary queen of Scotland, who, still fresh from her sacrifice, bears copious and abounding witness to the cruelty and impiety of this Elizabeth, and directs her shafts against her. There also will await us the groans of countless imprisoned Catholics, the tears of widows who lost their husbands for the faith, the sobs of maidens who were forced to sacrifice their lives rather than destroy their souls, the tender children who, suckled upon the poison of heresy, are doomed to perdition unless deliverance reaches them betimes ; and finally myriads of workers, citizens, knights, nobles, and clergymen, and all ranks of Catholics, who are oppressed and downtrodden by the heretics, and who are anxiously looking to us for their liberation.
"With us go faith, justice, and truth, the benediction of the Pope, who holds the place of God on earth, the sympathies of all good people, the prayers of all the Catholic Church ; we have them all on our side. God is stronger than the devil, truth stronger than error, the Catholic faith stronger than heresy, the saints and angels of Heaven stronger than all the power of hell, the indomitable spirit and sturdy arm of the Spaniard stronger than the drooping hearts and lax and frozen bodies of the English. One thing alone remains, gentlemen : Let there go with us too a pure and clear conscience, a heart inspired alone with love and zeal for the glory of the Most High ; the single thought to fight first for our holy faith, for our law, our King, and our country. Let us live Christian lives, without offence towards our God, in brotherhood with our fellow soldiers, and in obedience to our captains. Courage! steadfastness! and Spanish bravery! for with these the victory is ours, and we have nought to fear."
14 May.
Estado, 455.
294. Duke Of Medina Sidonia to the King.
(Congratulates him on the birth of a third grandson, a son of the duchess of Savoy.)
God ordains all things, and He has not seen fit to send us weather for the sailing of the Armada. It is as boisterous and bad as if it were December ; but He knows best. Everything is quite ready, and not an hour shall be wasted. It is two months ago to-day since I came to this city (Lisbon), and I leave it for others to tell your Majesty how much has been done. The bringing together of so great a force without disorder or dispute, but with all quietude and conformity, is the work of the Lord, through your Majesty's holy zeal ; and in Him I hope for the continued success of our enterprise.
In the monastery of San Benito at Loyos there is a holy friar called Antonio de la Concepcion, with whom I have discoursed lately in my leisure time. He is certain that our Lord will vouchsafe a great victory to your Majesty. He told me to write this to your Majesty, and to beseech you not to undertake this enterprise out of vengeance for the injuries which the infidels have done to you, or to extend your dominions, but only for the honour and glory of God Almighty ; and to reclaim to His church the heretics who have strayed from it.
The complete statement enclosed of the Armada is precise and minute. (fn. 3) I again pray your Majesty to favour the business of my mother-in-law, about whom I am very anxious, and shall remain so until I hear that your Majesty has favoured my suit. (fn. 4) —On board the galleon "San Martin," 14th May 1588.
295. Duke Of Medina Sidonia to the King.
The Armada took advantage of a light easterly wind, which blew for a few hours on the 11th instant, to drop down the river to Belem and Santa Catalina, where the ships now only await a fair wind to sail. God send it soon! On the 11th Captain Francisco Moresin (Morosini) came to me with a letter of credence from the duke of Parma, dated in Ghent the 22nd March. His message is to the effect that the Duke sends him to ascertain the present state of the Armada, and to inform me of the Duke's preparations in Flanders. He has less troops than I expected, as this man tells me they will not exceed 17,000 all told, with 1,000 light horse, and 300 small vessels, but none with oars or top masts. He says he will have stores and munitions for two months. Moresin wanted to go back immediately, to inform the Duke how ready this Armada was, but I have not allowed him to do so in consequence of the injury it would do if he were caught by corsairs. I will therefore take him with me, and despatch him from the point I think safest. He was much surprised to see the strength of the Armada. He did not expect it would have been so great.—On the galleon "San Martin," 14th May 1588.
Note.—On the 21st May the Duke again writes to the King deploring that the bad weather still detains the Armada at Lisbon. He recommends that more stores should be collected, in case of need, although he thinks he has enough for the voyage. The health of the Armada is good.
15 May.
Paris Archives, K. 1568.
296. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
Julio is behaving well. I could not have explained myself well in my despatches of the 5th, because I had no intention whatever of asking your Majesty to allow me to pay any money to him, but to the person who is the intermediary, and brings his information to me ; 100 ducats will be plenty for him. (fn. 5) Julio has used all his efforts to retain Don Antonio in England.
I write frequently to the prince of Parma reporting all I learn, in accordance with your Majesty's instructions, but he replies to me only at long intervals, often six weeks at a time. I understand that he is well informed. I learn from Dunkirk that the ship that carried over the earl of Morton and Colonel Semple returned to Dunkirk within eight days, its voyage to Scotland only having occupied three days, and the return voyage five days. I have again written to Robert Bruce and Semple, telling them to execute promptly the instructions from your Majesty.
The advices in Portuguese are from Antonio de Vega. Please instruct me as to his leaving England.—Paris, 15th May.
Note.—Enclosed with the above is a petition from Sampson (the Portuguese spy in Paris, Antonio de Escobar) asking for a good grant in aid, and Mendoza recommends that it shall be granted, and in the margin the King acquiesces, referring to Don Cristobal (de Mora) to fix the amount.
16 May.
Paris Archives, K. 1568. French.
297. Advices from London.
It is said that the Admiral will join Drake in six days, but as they French, are calculating upon their having 104 ships, of which the 20 great ships belonging to the Queen cannot be ready even in a fortnight, it will be impossible for them to collect the number of ships they say so soon.
Forty-four ships are told off to guard the sea between Flanders and England, of which number four belong to the Queen and will take 800 men each. Certain of the inhabitants of London have been appointed captains, but they are so ignorant, not having seen anything worth speaking about, that they know less about war than would the private soldiers. All idle and vagabond persons are compelled to go on board the ships. The Admiral protests that when once he sets sail he will not be idle and stay in the Straits, but will go out and seek the Spaniards. They do not fear the army from Spain so much as that from the Netherlands.
17 May.
Paris Archives, K. 1568. Portuguese.
298. Advices from London (Antonio De Vega).
I wrote at length on 16th and 25th ultimo. I am now able to confirm my former statements as to the fleets and number of ships here. They were all ordered to collect at Plymouth on the 12th. but in consequence of contrary winds they were unable to do so, the 16 ships and 4 pataches in the Thames having been prevented from leaving the river. The intention, as I have said, is for the Admiral and Drake to unite and sail for the coast of Portugal with 120 (or at least 100) ships. They are all very well fitted, and it is maintained warmly here that this fleet is being sent in the interests of Don Antonio ; the intention being to land him there (i.e., in Portugal) with 7,000 or 8,000 men, which they say will suffice to frustrate his Majesty's plans. Don Antonio pretends that Portugal is in revolt, and that there has been a rising in Lisbon, in which Count Cifuentes and other nobles were killed. This is ratified (?) by Escobar and Stafford, who say that if they go with so strong a force, and the number of men stated, all Portugal will rise, and that which they fear will be avoided. Those who are pushing this business are the Admiral and Raleigh. The Queen promised Don Antonio on the 9th, that if peace were not made he should go in this fleet, and he was so delighted that he kissed her garments. (fn. 6) The Treasurer, Leicester, and the Secretary oppose it, not on principle, but only because they consider the force insufficient, now that the king of Spain is so well armed both in ships and men. The Admiral and Raleigh reply to this, that by sending the forces mentioned in these ships they will kill two birds with one stone. First, they will meet the Armada with greater hopes of beating it, as they will be the attackers, and secondly, if they do beat it, they will land Don Antonio, who will under such circumstances be joined by the whole country. They have sent for Drake about it, and he will be here in two days. The ships from Holland are expected every hour.
The 6,000 men raised in London meet for drill twice a week. They are certainly very good troops considering they are recruits, and are well armed. They are commanded by merchants, as are also the ships contributed by London and the other ports. The three sons of Knollys are appointed colonels, but Norris was not allowed to leave his post on the frontier. The troops are divided into 40 companies of 150 each, and it is said that they have altogether 120,000 men under arms, as musters are being held all over the country. In London they are drawing 50 men from each parish, at the cost of the city, to send on board the ships ; 4,000, they say, being obtained in this way. They give to each man of these a blue coat, whilst those who remain here receive red ones. Most of the large ships carry four pieces of artillery in the bows, and the small vessels two pieces. The same thing could be done in the Portuguese galleons and ships. The only fear these people have is that they should be attacked by galleys. Recollect that in addition to the vast treasure his Majesty has employed, his honour and prestige are at stake, and these people are very confident of being able to beat him at sea, their ships being in excellent order. Yesterday the French ambassador informed the Treasurer and Walsingham, whom he had to see on other business, that Villeroy said that he had letters from his agent in Madrid, dated 8th April, saying that the King was on his road to Lisbon to witness the departure of the Armada, which was to sail on the 5th instant. They (i.e., the Treasurer and Walsingham) urged the ambassador at the same time, with great secresy, to induce the King (of France) to ally himself with their Queen, and the "religion" (i.e., the Huguenots), against the king of Spain and the League, in which case the Queen would bring those of the "religion" to submit to any reasonable terms. The Ambassador wrote on the subject to the King, sending his despatch by the bearer of the present letter. I will duly report the answer that is sent, and whatever else passes, or I can learn in conversation with the ambassador.
There is only a suspicion here that I have given information, and I beg therefore that all my letters may be acknowledged when they are received. I am in great trouble about the imprisonment of Bernaldo Luis in Spain, as his brothers-in-law and brothers are very sore about it and say it is my fault. (fn. 7) Yesterday one of them begged me to write, asking that he should be allowed to come away. Pray write what you think necessary about it, so that he may come in any case. Bernaldo Luis only claimed a little money he had lent me, and another small sum of money he provided to Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa. Great promises were made to him about the payment of these sums, but as he has no one to speak for him I suppose that is the cause of his trouble.


  • 1. In another letter of same date of the above, from the same to the same, the Duke thankfully acknowledges the receipt of 200,000 crowns sent to him from Spain. This sum, he says, together with the 300,000 crowns lent by the duke of Mantua, arrived just as he was at the last extremity, and the army on the point of mutiny for want of pay. His expenses are growing greater every day. He expresses an earnest hope that count de Olivares will get the million from the Pope at once.
  • 2. This order does not seem to have been very strictly enforced at the time, but after the return of the Armada to Corunna a peremptory general order was issued for the instant demolition of all partitions, planks, bunks, and other erections between decks that may hamper the movements of the crew, or the working of the artillery. This order is dated 5th July 1588.
  • 3. The statement will be found under date of 9th May, page 280.
  • 4. This was the famous Ana de Mendoza, princess of Eboli, the widow of Ruy Gomez, and the paramour of Secretary Antonio Perez. She had been for many years under arrest in her own castle of Pastrana for complicity in the murder of Escobedo, the secretary of Don John of Austria, and connivance with the malpractices of Perez.
  • 5. In the King's hand :—"I suppose we misunderstood him. But there was no need for him to write here about such a sum as that." Mendoza's references to the "new confidant" are certainly very confusing. Sometimes the words seem to stand for Julio (Sir Edward Stafford) and sometimes for the new intermediary, who may have been Fitzherbert.
  • 6. It will be seen that Antonio de Vega was quite at sea with regard to the English intentions at this time. There was no question then of sending a fleet to reinstate Don Antonio in Portugal. The man's letters, indeed, show him to have been either a credulous fool or a double traitor, which latter is quite likely. His references to Escobar and Stafford, who were both in Spanish pay, must have made Philip and Mendoza smile.
  • 7. Bernaldo Luis was the brother-in-law of Dr. Hector Nuñez, one of the Queen's physicians, and brother of the Montesinos whom Vega had sent to Mendoza with an offer to murder Don Antonio. Bernaldo Luis, much to Vega's dismay, had been accused of espionage in the interests of England and imprisoned. Vega apparently did not know at this time of what he was accused.