Simancas: July 1588, 16-31

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: July 1588, 16-31', in Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 4, 1587-1603, (London, 1899) pp. 344-358. British History Online [accessed 1 March 2024]

July 1588, 16-31

17 July
(N.S.) Paris Archives, K. 1567.
345. Advices from London, 17th July (new style), sent by the Portuguese who usually remits them (Antonio de Vega?).
I wrote on the 17th June and 2nd July. In the latter I related that the fleet had sailed, its strength being stated at 136 sail, large and small, and a much larger number of men than was expected. The fleet afterwards returned, and then again sailed, the greater part of it being now at Plymouth. Time had been wasted by the Admiral in cruising off the coasts of France with one squadron whilst Drake was with the rest near Ireland, the intention being to catch the Spanish fleet both in front and rear if it came. They sent to ask the Queen for 20 more ships, which she sent by Captain Winter from the 40 which were in the Channel.
I also reported that the earl of Morton had taken up arms in Scotland and that the King, persuaded by those who govern him, belonging to the English faction, was trying to seize him. The earl of Morton had therefore been obliged to embark, and had gone in search of the Spanish fleet. The news was current here, however, that he had been captured and beheaded, but such rumours as this are spread here every day. After his embarkation the Earl fell ill, and was obliged by contrary weather and his illness to land secretly to obtain medical help. He was then captured by an enemy of his, and the King now has him in his hands under guard. The Queen, in consequence of this, has sent a Secretary of the Council to Scotland with 4,000l. in cash, and great efforts were being made to have Morton executed. Both in Scotland and here, great surprise is felt at the delay in the coming of the Armada, as it is so long since it sailed and the weather is fine, although this evening news arrived here that the two fleets had met and that of Spain had had the worst of the fight. But they are silent as to details, and, if the fleets have met, this is a bad sign for them (the English). You may be sure they will hush up any bad news they get as long as they can.
I also reported that the Queen had appointed the earl of Leicester general and Lord Grey his lieutenant. The latter will command everything. The earl of Sussex (Essex) commands the cavalry, and Norris the infantry. The lords of the Council had ordered 1,000 horse to be raised at their own cost as a guard for the person of the Queen. The earl of Leicester contributed 300 and the other lords 100 each ; but project has not yet been carried into effect.
On the 7th instant the Lord Treasurer and the Lord Chancellor made public speeches at Westminster to all the nobility who had been summoned. They assured them that the duke of Parma had written to the Queen three times asking her to enter into negotiations for peace, and in view of this, and her desire for the tranquillity of her people, she had consented to send her Commissioners in compliance with the Duke's written request. After they had arrived he, the Duke, said he had no commission from the King, the only object being to gain time. The Queen, although she understood this, had dissembled, as she then lacked many things with which she was now well supplied. Conditions, however, had been submitted to her so injurious to her dignity that neither she could ever accept nor they (the nobility) confirm them ; and consequently they were now completely undeceived, and she had every confidence that they would give such a reply as the Queen wished. She hoped with the help of God, and the co-operation of her subjects, to overthrow her enemies, and she urged them all to lend willing hands to so just a cause as the defence of their faith, their sovereign, their homes, their wives, and their children. Notwithstanding all this, people, large and small, are sorely afraid, and place all their hopes in their fleet. The Queen promised Don Antonio three days ago, that if the war continued she would turn all her forces to his aid, and would miss no opportunity of ruining his enemy and hers, as she had done hitherto. He, Don Antonio, is very much pleased at this, and at the arrival of a certain Gaspar de Gran, who was in Barbary, and promises him a multitude of groundless things. On the 13th instant a woman of the Queen's chamber, a Fleming named Jane Agnas, was arrested. The cause of this was that she, having charge of the Queen's gloves, a servant of hers stole some of them with diamonds on them. This was discovered and the servant man condemned to death. Just as they were about to cast him on the gallows, he begged them to stay their hands, as he wished to communicate something of importance to the life of the Queen. On being interrogated by the aldermen, he declared that his mistress was privy to the Babington conspiracy to kill the Queen, and the fact was referred by the aldermen to the Council. The mistress was examined, and was afterwards carried to the house of Alderman Martin ; but not much credit is given to the story. The Queen is not well satisfied at the reply that Sir Thomas Leighton brought from the king of France, nor at Havre de Grace having declared for the League. I know that she sent a person to attack the duke of Guise in some way. If it has not happened it will.
I cannot say how much I am grieved at the news I have received that Bernaldo Luis has been arrested, with his brother and Geronimo Pardo, on the assertion that a ship which went to them from Hamburg with merchandise had loaded it at a port in this country. The truth of the matter is that she was driven hither by bad weather, but loaded nothing here. I believe that the fault of it lies with some person connected with the administration of justice, who wishes to make money out of it. I grieve that they say that your Lordship (i.e., Mendoza) and I are the cause of it, but I am armed with patience to suffer all the crosses of fortune.
18 July.
Paris Archives, K. 1448.
346. The King to Bernardino De Mendoza.
You have already been informed that the duke of Medina Sidonia was forced by heavy weather to take shelter with most of the Armada in Corunna. The information was sent to you to prevent anxiety as to the mishap, of which rumours would sure to be current.
We have since ascertained that the whole of the Armada entered port without the loss of a single ship, and that after the necessary repairs have been effected, orders have been given to put to sea again on the 16th instant, they having strict orders from me to sail before the 20th. I have no doubt, therefore, unless the wind prevents them, the ships will all be out by that time.
You will accordingly hold yourself in readiness to make such representations to the Christian King as you may be instructed to do by my nephew, the duke of Parma, taking care, however, not to be too soon nor too late, but immediately after you have certain news that the Armada has passed the coast of Normandy, and you calculate that its object is about to be attempted. In case (which God forbid) any of the ships should be forced by tempest into French ports, to claim the good treatment you will have bespoken for them, I send you the enclosed credit for 15,000 crowns, which you will keep in reserve, and use solely for such an eventuality, and not otherwise on any account whatever. You will not employ it for the ships even, if those which may put into French ports have money on board for their own purposes. For the purposes of your embassy a separate credit of 8,000 crowns is now sent you.—San Lorenzo, 18th July 1588.
28 July.
Paris Archives, K. 1448.
347. The King to Bernardino De Mendoza.
Since the letters from you of 14th ultimo nothing has been received from you, doubtless in consequence of the courier having been robbed on the road, as we are advised from Irun. Please send in duplicate all letters since the 14th ultimo.
The object of the present is to inform you that the duke of Medina Sidonia reports that the Armada sailed from Corunna on the 22nd, stronger even than when it left Lisbon, the weather being all that could be desired. I have since learnt that on the 23rd the Armada finally put out to sea, and I now trust in God that it will soon arrive at its destination. Forward the despatch for the duke of Parma with the utmost celerity, and as you will have now to let me know what happens almost from moment to moment do not fail to exercise the greatest possible diligence in this respect.
(In the King's hand.)—It would be advisable to tell him to have persons on the coast to send him reports of what occurs, so that he may send the news to us.—San Lorenzo, 28th July 1588.
18 July.
Estado, 594.
348. Duke Of Parma to the King.
I am greatly grieved at receiving no news of the duke of Medina Sidonia and the Armada, although vague rumours of all kinds continue to reach us. I pray God fervently to bless the enterprise, which is undertaken in His cause, and which I cannot persuade myself He will allow to fail.
The troops of all nationalities, both horse and foot, are in their places, mustered near the places of embarcation, as I have already informed your Majesty. Thank God the health is generally good, and the men full of spirits worthily to serve God and your Majesty. The number has been somewhat increased, and the armament improved, and I feel sure that, with God's help, when they set foot in England they will honestly do their duty.
The marquis of Burghout's regiment has also arrived at their quarters, whereat I was much rejoiced, not so much on account of the pleasure it will give to the Archduke Ferdinand, as because they are fresh Catholic troops, and there is a considerable number of them.
As it was evident that the rebels in Flushing were so near that they might give us a great deal of trouble when we brought out the little boats we had at the Sluys, I took the opportunity some days ago of bringing the boats through the canals to Nieuport, without putting to sea at all, and I did the same thing with the boats from Ghent to the Sluys. The work was very laborious, but with God's help we got through with it, and it was very apposite, because we shall now be able to put out from this coast more solidly and united, without having to wait for one another, or cause the Armada to have to sail so high up as would have been necessary for at least a part of it to have done, to protect the passage of these boats in case the rebels insisted in keeping at the mouth of the Sluys the boats they had there whilst our boats were inside.— Bruges, 18th July 1588.
20 July.
Estado, 594.
349. Duke Of Parma to the King.
(Fervently begs for money to be sent to him. He will be utterly undone without it, as he only has the 100,000 crowns from Sicily, which the loss on exchange reduces to 87,500.) After I have spent this, I shall be powerless. I pray your Majesty to consider what a state is ours. The troops are in the field, and we are on the eve of the execution of the task we have in hand, and yet at the last moment we may have to break up from sheer necessity. What account can I give of the fleet, of stores, artillery, and all the rest, unless some resources reach me from somewhere or in some form? Not only have I no money for the French business, which is so important, (fn. 1) or for leaving here or taking with me, which is equally so, but I shall lack the wherewithal to obtain daily food, which is absolutely indispensable. I beseech your Majesty not to think that there is any exaggeration in this, for it is simply the naked truth, that I can find no means nor expedient of providing for the needs which are already upon me.—Bruges, 20th July 1588.
20 July.
Estado, 455.
350. Consultation held by the Duke Of Medina Sidonia respecting the advisability of the sailing of the Armada from Corunna.
On the royal galleon.—Present : the duke of Medina Sidonia, Don Alonso de Leyva, Don Francisco de Bovadilla, Secretary Andres de Alva, Don Jorge de Manrique, the Admiral-in Chief, Juan Martinez de Recalde, Don Pedro de Valdés, Diego Flores Valdés, Miguel de Oquendo, Captain Martin de Bertondona, Captain Diego de Medrano, Don Diego Enriquez, Gregorio de las Alas, Admiral of the squadron of Diego Flores. The Duke submitted the question of the advisability of the Armada* leaving port, and begged each officer present to give his opinion of the weather for the purpose. Don Alonso de Leyva said that as the Duke had here the best sailors in these parts, he should follow their advice. If they said he could sail, even with difficulty, he ought to do so with all possible dilligence ; always on condition that nothing rash should be done which might imperil the expedition. Diego Flores de Valdés said that the Duke summoned them yesterday, and he (Flores) had said that to-day, the 20th, the weather would be worse, judging by appearances. As he foretold, there has been a strong W.N.W. wind blowing to-day, and a heavy sea is running in. The evil appearances still continue, and forebode very bad weather. As it is of so much importance that the Armada should be kept intact, he is of opinion that it ought not to sail from this port until the weather be fine and there be a clear north-west course. There is, however, a conjunction on Saturday, the 23rd, at 2 p.m., and he (Flores) expected that the wind would settle in the N.W. as the new moon came in with it. But if there were a clear N.W. course to-morrow, with a S.W. wind, the Armada might sail, although with the risk he had already pointed out ; but as time was short, and the supplies running out, he thought that in such a case it would be advisable to sail.
Don Pedro de Valdés said that at yesterday's meeting he was of the same opinion as Diego Flores, and neither yesterday nor to-day has the weather been such that the Armada could safely weigh anchor and leave port as they had Cape Priorio to the north, which they must double, and the wind must be more free for this to be done than was required for the rest of the voyage. The Spanish ships of the Armada might weather the point, as they were swift and could go well to windward, but neither the hulks nor the Levanters could do so without danger. He (Valdés) was therefore of opinion that the Armada ought not to weigh anchor with the weather as it was, but should wait to see how it looked at the conjunction on Saturday, 23rd, unless it improves in the meanwhile. If the Armada sailed with light airs, and got becalmed off the coast, it would run great risk from the many currents which run towards the land, and it would be impossible to prevent it. As it has been raining so heavily since yesterday, he is hopeful that a land wind will spring up within two days more favourable for them than the weather they had hitherto had.
Captain Martin de Bertondona said that from yesterday until 11 o'clock to-day the weather had been excellent. He would not wish for better weather for the sailing of the Armada ; and the whole of the pilots and mariners with whom he had spoken were of the same opinion. Let the Duke, he said, inquire of them, and he would find it was so.
Don Diego Enriquez said the moon had come in with S.W. and W. winds, and it had begun to wane with the same winds. It had blown from the S.W. to-day until 10 o'clock, and since then it had come from the W. If the wind settles in that quarter to-morrow, the Armada might sail, because whilst the moon had waxed the winds remained fixed in the N.W. and N. ; and it might be expected that the same thing would happen if they waited for this new moon to grow.
Miguel de Oquendo confirmed the opinion of Diego Flores and Don Pedro de Valdés, for the same reasons as they gave, and also because the Armada is so close inshore, so that nine or ten leagues have to be traversed before they could get clear. If any cross wind were to come on in the interim, the Armada, or at least a considerable part of it, would run great risk.
Don Francisco de Bovadilla said that he was well aware that nothing was so important for his Majesty's service as the prompt sailing of the Armada, but in view of the difference of opinion that existed amongst the naval commanders and pilots, and because he (Bovadilla) was not a seaman, he could not advise the sailing of the fleet in such disturbed weather. He thought, however, that close watch should be kept, so that immediately the weather permitted, they might sail without losing an hour.
Don Jorge Manrique said that he was not a sailor, but the season was already so advanced, and the summer so short, that he was of opinion that (as all great affairs must encounter some obstacles) the Armada should sail immediately it appeared possible to double Cape Priorio.
Juan Martinez de Recalde said that, in accordance with the decision arrived at yesterday, he had kept a careful look out ; so that if they had six hours of fair weather, they might sail. He had noticed that during nearly the whole of the night there was almost a calm, and at dawn the same, with a very light S.W. wind. But from midnight onward there was a heavy swell running in ; with banks of cloud to the N.W. which looked very threatening. As soon as it was daylight he had come to report to the Duke, with whom he stayed over two hours, during which time the wind increased in strength. He then went to do some business on shore. During the whole of the period up to 11 o'clock in the day, the Armada, if it had weighed anchor, might safely have weathered Cape Priorio. He said it was quite clear that the old adage was true, "Neither a bad sign in summer nor a good one in winter, but make the best of the opportunity that comes." He was of opinion that, if the weather to-morrow was similar to that of to-day, they should sail without waiting for new moons. He had always understood that, as the moon waxed, the N. and N.E. winds grew in strength.
Admiral Gregorio de las Alas, commanding Diego Flores' squadron, confirmed the opinion of Juan Martinez (de Recalde).
On the same day the Duke summoned all the principal pilots on the Armada, in the presence of the officers above mentioned (here follow the names of all the pilots), and they agreed that if the weather to-morrow were similar to that of to-day, without any signs of a storm, the Armada might sail. The Duke in view of these opinions, decided that the course recommended should be adopted. A signal gun to make ready was fired, and another was ordered to be discharged at midnight when the anchors are to be raised, and the foremost ships to get out and leave the way clear. At daybreak all ships are to hoist their sails, and proceed on their voyage with God's blessing.—Duke Of Medina Sidonia.
Note.—The Duke wrote to the King on July 22nd (Estado, 455), informing him that it had been found impossible to carry out the intention set forth in the aforegoing document, as the weather on the night of the 20th was so heavy. The Armada, however, got out of harbour on the morning of the 22nd, with a very light S.W. wind. At two o'clock in the afternoon the Armada had barely gone three leagues when a dead calm fell, Cape Priorio being still undoubled. The Duke feared that he might have to put back to Corunna but at three o'clock in the morning of the 23rd, a land breeze sprang up, which grew to a brisk S.E. wind as the day advanced. This enabled the Armada to double Cape Ortegal soon after 6 p.m., the wind being then from the south. In hoisting sail the galley "Zuñga" broke her rudder-socket, which damage was repaired after some delay, and the Armada then laid its course for England.—(Letter from the Duke to the King, 6 p.m., 23rd July, off Cape Ortegal. Estado, 455).
21 July.
Estado, 594.
351. Duke of Parma to the King.
I have received news from Don Bernardino de Mendoza of the peace concluded in France, to the great advantage of the Catholic cause. Your Majesty's thanks are due to the League. There will be much less danger now of interference with the principal business we have in hand, which was to have been feared if the dissensions had continued.
Dr. Dale has come hither to complain to me about Cardinal Allen's book. I excused it as well as I could by saying that I did not understand the language, nor was I acquainted with the secret information which might justify his (Allen's) statements. If there is any ground for these, it must have originated with the English themselves, who worked through Allen. I cannot help judging that Dale must have had some other reason beyond this for coming to see me, though I know not what it may be. He informed me, however, that peace had been made in France, and that your Majesty's Armada was at Corunna. Possibly his object may have been to show the world that the Queen has done everything in her power to make peace, in order that her people may be the more willing to defend her and their country in case of war.
There has arrived here a Scottish bishop, a Carthusian monk, who has been to Scotland and conversed with the King by the orders of his Holiness. He brought me letters from Bruce and Semple, giving me an account of events there, which confirms what your Majesty says in one of your letters of 21st June, namely, that the King, being a confirmed heretic, the Government is in the interest of the Englishwoman, and the Catholic nobles are consequently unable to withstand them except at heavy risk, until the English are otherwise occupied and they (the Catholic nobles) obtain some outside aid. At the same time they persist in saying that if the Catholics were well supported and powerful, whilst the English had their hands full elsewhere, the King would join the Catholic party and turn against the English. Notwithstanding this, they affirm that he himself says he is obliged to act in an exactly contrary way, and persecutes the Catholics rigorously. Semple carried out very well the mission I entrusted to him, and obtained (from the King) the answer to which I have referred, which is the reply that he (the King) usually gives to Catholics. What I am most grieved at is that, in consequence of the earl of Morton's having insisted, against Semple's advice and that of other Catholics, in precipitating matters, he was discovered and apprehended, his life now being in danger. News from Calais and elsewhere agree that he has already been beheaded.
The earl of Huntly and the other Catholics say that they can hold out against the King for two months ; and they urge me to send them reinforcements of men and money by the end of that period. The message was brought to me by a nephew of his (Huntly's ?), who accompanied the Bishop hither.
I replied that, knowing as I do how much your Majesty esteems them, and wishes to defend Catholics, I would send them the reinforcements at once if possible ; but the sea is so crowded with enemies that we must wait until the fleet comes from Spain.— Bruges, 21st July 1588.
24 July.
Paris Archives, K. 1568.
352. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
With regard to Miss Kennedy, I will proceed as your Majesty orders. They write from Scotland that she is already married to the man of whom I spoke.
With his letters of 14th, the duke of Parma sends me one from Bruce, which I have not yet deciphered, and cannot refer to in detail. The Duke informs me that the (Scottish) Catholic nobles have sent a gentleman to him, whom he has sent back to tell them not to precipitate themselves prematurely before the time which Colonel Semple understood ; in order that they might not share the misfortune that had happened to the earl of Morton, which misfortune had arisen from the earl of Morton's refusal to accept Colonel Semple's advice, in accordance with the orders of the Duke and myself. I warned him when he left here. I expect he has been captured by the King, as is asserted here.
As I was about to sign this, the new friend informed me that the King has sent a message from Rouen to the English ambassador here, saying that as the terms of the arrangement for peace (i.e., with the League) are so disadvantageous to him, he (i.e., the English ambassador) will judge that they have been forced upon him, but before two months have passed he will see a very different state of things. The new friend thinks that this message is intended to be conveyed to the queen of England.
I have already paid Julio 500 crowns, and he is pressing me for an answer about the 2,500 he begs your Majesty to grant him. I am keeping him in hand the meanwhile, and, the better to do so, will in a few days hand him the other 500 crowns, particularly as I see he is making every effort to keep me well informed, and it will be unwise to lose him at this juncture. The new confidant will be much pressed in this journey to Blois, unless your Majesty grants him some favour. He informs me that since the peace (i.e., with the League) was concluded the Queen-Mother said to a Minister that it would be well for her son now to seek means to strengthen his alliance with the queen of England. The Minister repeated it to him in order that he might consider what it would be well to propose with this object. But the matter had been carried no further.—Paris, 24th July 1588.
353. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
My reports from London, dated 6th instant, confirm the departure of the Admiral and Drake from Plymouth on the 1st July, with 140 sail and less than 8,000 men. The Queen's orders were, as I previously advised, for them to consider whether it would be wise or not for them to engage the Armada, as news had been received of its great strength. Reports from St. Malo, dated 4th instant, say that a ship had arrived there from Plymouth, bringing news that the English fleet had sailed for Spain on the 1st.
In answer to your Majesty's orders that I should inform you what further preparations had been made by the queen of England, after she knew of the sailing of your Majesty's Armada, I beg to say that the fresh efforts were only those that I have already reported, namely, to send 14 or 20 ships of victuals from London, and some sailors, as the plague had broken out on some of the ships in consequence of the meat having rotted through its being badly salted. What with this, and the desertion of men, Drake was short-handed.
When the Queen was informed that your Majesty's Armada had returned to Corunna, she swore by God's death, as she is accustomed to do, and with a great deal of brag, that she would send her fleet to disperse your Armada, even if it were in the interior of Spain. When, a few days afterwards, she was informed that your Majesty's fleet had again been sighted at sea, she did not answer a word, but remained very sad.
When this King was dining publicly at Rouen he was informed that your Majesty's fleet had returned to Corunna, in consequence of the plague. He replied loudly enough for every one present to hear, "That is a fine story ! It was only because they had seen the English fleet and were frightened."
He has received reports from Bayonne and Rochelle that your Majesty's fleet had put back to Spain in a storm, and the story soon spread here that the fleet was dispersed. This was at the same time as I received your Majesty's despatch, saying that the fleet had returned in consequence of a contrary gale.
Fourteen ships have left Rochelle to join Drake, four of them, they say, are of 100 tons each, and the rest some of the little pirate ships there.
I enclose advices from Havre de Grace which the King recently sent to his mother with great speed. They are to the effect, that on the 17th a ship had arrived at Havre from Newfoundland, and reported that she had heard great artillery firing in the direction of Guernsey, which made them think that your Majesty's Armada had met the English fleet. As no confirmation of this comes from the Breton coast, it may be concluded that the firing they heard was the forts at Guernsey saluting the English fleet, unless it was thunder.—Paris, 24th July 1588.
Note.—In a letter of this date to the King, Mendoza says that Gaspar Diaz Montesinos (who had been sent by Vega from London with a proposal to kill Don Antonio) had had a quarrel in Paris and had left for Venice. He is full of lies and quarrels, and Mendoza is glad to get rid of him, as he now has better instruments. He hears he is now vapouring about Turin, talking loosely.
25 July.
Estado, 950.
354. Count De Olivares to the King.
On the arrival of this courier I mentioned to his Holiness the great prayers and intercession that were being offered to God in Spain for the success of the Armada, my object in doing so being to try to draw him on. But I got little by my motion, for he is as hard as a diamond. He displays great desire to hear of the arrival of the Armada, and has the money ready, so that no delay shall occur in the payment. God knows how I have striven. But I can do no more, and there is nothing for it. All kinds of rumours have come from France about the Armada having been seen, and that it was sailing round the island (Great Britain). But it is all proved to be false, as the fleet was on the Galician coast on the 21st.—Rome, 25th July 1588
25 July.
Estado, 594.
355. Duke of Medina Sidonia to Duke of Parma.
After I wrote to your Excellency by Captain Moresin I continued my voyage with the fleet, but with such contrary weather that I was hardly able to double Cape Finisterre. When I had got as far as Cape Priorio, six leagues from Corunna, and was awaiting the arrival of the galleys I had ordered to join me there on the 19th instant, I was overtaken with a storm of such violence that I was obliged to take refuge in Corunna, followed by some ships that were near us. The rest of them, two-thirds of the Armada, were unable to get in, as they were too far to leeward, and they consequently had to run along the coast, some of them putting into the Biscay and Asturian ports. Some damage was sustained, but, by God's grace, it was repaired in Corunna and the various ports, and on the 16th all the ships were again collected in Corunna ready to sail when the weather served. This happened on the 22nd, and I left port on that day. At 3 o'clock the same afternoon the wind fell calm, but the next morning a fair breeze, arose, and I ran before it for three days, until the present hour, when I am in 48 degrees (N.). I have thought well to send to your Excellency the bearer, Captain Don Rodrigo Tello de Guzman, a gentleman and soldier who has served his Majesty for many years, for the purpose of saluting you, and giving you news of our condition and whereabouts, with such other information as your Excellency may desire. I have instructed him to convey to you also some other points respecting the voyage. Please give credence to him.—Galleon "San Martin," 25th July 1588.
26 July.
Paris Archives, K. 1567.
356. Advices from London.
People here do not fear the Spaniard any more, as they are convinced that he has returned to Spain. The rumour was current that the Spaniards were at the Scilly Isles, and the Admiral set sail to meet them, but as he could get no news of them he returned.
All the principal Catholics have been sent to the Isle of Ely in the custody of Lord North. (fn. 2)
The Queen has caused a proclamation to be published against those who receive bulls from the Pope respecting the excommunication of the Queen, or similar subjects. Offenders are to be hanged, and half their goods confiscated to the informer. A book has been recently published here against Cardinal Allen's book, addressed to Sir William Stanley. The author does not state his name otherwise than "G. D." The book is very impertinent and ridiculous.
All other things are in the same state as when I last wrote.
Note.—The above "advice," although in Spanish, is evidently written by an Englishman.
29 July
(N.S.). Paris Archives, K. 1568. Portuguese.
357. Advices from London (Antonio De Vega).
On 21st and 26th ultimo I sent reports by a Portuguese, viâ Havre de Grace. Since then I have not written, as I could get no trustworthy means of sending, and in consequence of my being under medical treatment for a great descent of rheum from my head, which I have had for many years past. My illness compels me to write very briefly to-day. The Admiral arrived at Plymouth on the 4th and sailed with Drake on the 8th. They remained two days at Falmouth, and then put to sea. But the weather was against them, to judge from the winds prevailing here, and I do not think they can have got out yet, although they say they have. They have 120 sail, in addition to some store ships that are to follow. They have orders not to attack or do any damage until they see that the Spanish Armada is coming to English ports.
Don Antonio did not go, as the Queen was on the alert, and sent special orders to the admirals that they were not to take him if he attempted to go. He is rather more quiet with the promises they have made him, and better supplied with money secretly, in case it should be necessary to escape. The money comes from a patent he has granted to certain English merchants, giving them the exclusive right of going from this country to the River Gambia and neighbourhood for 10 years ; for which they have given him 400l. in money, and will pay him 5 per cent. of all they bring. This has been confirmed by the Queen, and three ships will sail from here in August, two of 250 tons and one of 140, this being in accordance with the terms of the contract. Some Englishmen are going in them. As for Don Antonio, I will take care to cut off all the paths he thinks are safe. I am his depositary of 500 cruzados for this purpose (i.e., his escape in case of need), which he did not wish to contide even to his second self, Diego Botello.
30 July
(N.S.). Estado, 455.
358. Duke of Medina Sidonia to the King.
I wrote to your Majesty on the 23rd, that we were proceeding on our voyage in excellent weather. This continued all that day and the two following days. No better weather could have been desired ; and really if three or four of our ships had cared to clap on sail, even though they were not very swift, they might have arrived at the mouth of the Channel by Monday the 25th. But I, in this galleon, could only sail as fast as the scurviest ship in the fleet, as I have to wait for the slowest of them—verily some of them are dreadfully slow—so I was obliged, anxious as I was to get forward, thus to tarry on the way. I was much distressed at this. I should have wished them all to sail as fast as I could ; but withal, during these three days I made so much way that I reached 48 degrees (N.) at sea. On this day (Monday, 25th July, N.S.) I dispatched Captain Don Rodrigo Tello to the duke of Parma to inform him of the day I sailed from Corunna and my present position, and to give him an account of the course I expected to follow until I met with a messenger from him informing me how I should proceed for the purpose of effecting a juncture, and other particulars upon which I thought we should mutally be agreed. In case he should not have sent such a messenger, I begged him to do so at once in the armed pinnace that carried Don Rodrigo ; or else by the Biscay smack (zabra) that took thither Captain Moresin, which I fear may have been lost, as there has been ample time for it to have gone thither and returned to me.
On Tuesday at dawn we had a dead calm, with a very dense fog, and the Armada made no way until midday, when a wind from the north sprang up, and we set an easterly course. By a signal gun I then ordered the fleet to tack to the west, to which was done, and in N.N.W. winds and constant heavy squalls the whole day and following night we made but little way. During the day the leading galley, called the "Diana," was missing, which caused me great anxiety until I learned what had become of her. I sent to ask Captain Medrano what he knew about her, and he replied that the captain of the galley, a man named Pantoja, had sent to him during the night, saying that she was making so much water that she was unable to follow the Armada, and was forced to run for the first Spanish port she could make. Medrano sent word to me that the sea was very heavy for the galleys, and if necessary he should run for shelter to the coast of France. I begged him to make every effort to continue with the fleet, as I, perhaps, might not touch at the Scillys, but run into the Channel direct. I sent two pataches to stand by the galleys in case the latter should require assistance, and to enable them to communicate with me. This was done on the 26th instant, and all that day the three galleys were in sight ; but after nightfall, when the weather became thick, with very heavy rain, they were lost sight of and we have seen them no more.
On Wednesday, the 27th, it blew a full gale, with very heavy rain squalls, and the sea was so heavy that all the sailors agreed that they had never seen its equal in July. Not only did the waves mount to the skies, but some seas broke clean over the ships, and the whole of the stern gallery of Diego Flores' flagship (i.e., the "San Cristobal") was carried away. We were on the watch all night, full of anxiety lest the Armada should suffer great damage, but could do nothing more. It was the most cruel night ever seen. The next day, Thursday, was clear and bright, with less sea, although it was still very rough. On counting the ships of the Armada, forty were missing, namely, Don Pedro de Valdés's ships, the bulks, and some of the pataches. I was in great anxiety about them until I learnt what had become of them, and sent out three pataches, one towards the Lizard to order the ships, if she sighted them, to wait the Armada ; another to take soundings, and if possible to reconnoitre the land ; and the third to return on our course and order any ships that had fallen astern to put on all sail and join the flagship. All day on Thursday we sailed with a westerly wind, the sea being much calmer than previously, the breeze, however, being light and with little appearance of freshening. The pataches that I had sent to take soundings returned at nightfall, as well as two pilots who had gone out in a boat for the same purpose, reporting that they had found bottom at 68 fathoms.
To-day, Friday, dawned fine but hazy, clearing as the day advanced. At eight o'clock in the morning the patache I had sent ahead to seek the ships returned, reporting that they were awaiting the Armada. The patache I had sent back to bring up stragglers also returned, and the rest of the vessels gradually came up, I standing by to enable them to reach me. We continued to sail with the westerly wind until midday, when I ordered the sun to be taken, and we found ourselves in 50 degrees (N.) bare, the soundings finding bottom at 56 fathoms. At four o'clock in the afternoon, whilst sailing still with a westerly wind, the weather being clear, we sighted land at the Lizard, and we are now about three leagues distant from it at seven o'clock in the evening. We shortened sail to allow the rest of the ships to come up, as some of them were knocked about in the storm and have been repairing.
I have now, Saturday, the 30th July (N.S.), all the Armada together, and I will set sail as soon as the flag galleass has been put in order, her rudder being broken. These craft (i.e., the galleasses), are really very fragile for such heavy seas as these.
The galleys have not appeared, nor have I any tidings of them, which causes me great anxiety. The galleasses and the ships, thank God, are all right, and have suffered no damage. The men are so contented that I am delighted to see them. When land was first sighted from this galleon I had hoisted to the maintop a standard, with a crucifix and the Virgin and Magdalen on either side of it. I also ordered three guns to be fired, and that we should all offer up a prayer in thanks for God's mercy in bringing us thus far. God Almighty grant that the rest of our voyage may be performed as we and all Christendom hope it will be.
In sight of Cape Lizard, on board the galleon "San Martin."
The Duke of Medina Sidonia.
30 July.
Estado, 455.
359. Duke of Medina Sidonia to the King.
I have written to your Majesty clearly (i.e., not in cipher), and the object of the present letter is to say that I am obliged to proceed slowly with all the Armada together in squadrons as far as the Isle of Wight, and no further, until I receive advices of the duke of Parma informing me of the condition of his force. As all along the coast of Flanders there is no harbour or shelter for our ships, if I were to go from the Isle of Wight thither with the Armada our vessels might be driven on to the shoals, where they would certainly be lost. In order to avoid so obvious a peril I have decided to stay off the Isle of Wight until I learn what the Duke is doing, as the plan is that at the moment of my arrival he should sally with his fleet, without causing me to wait a minute. The whole success of the undertaking depends upon this, and in order that the Duke may be acquainted with it, I will send another pinnace to him as soon as I get into the Channel ; and still another when I arrive off the Wight. I am astonished to have received no news of him for so long. During the whole course of our voyage we have not fallen in with a single vessel, or man, from whom we could obtain any information ; and we are consequently groping in the dark. If we can pick up any intelligence by means of one of our pinnaces as we pass Plymouth, I will endeavour to do so.—In sight of the Lizard, 30th July 1588.


  • 1. To subsidise the Guises and the League.
  • 2. The principal Catholics were confined to Wisbech Castle on the pretext that, for their own safety's sake, they ought not to be at large and at the mercy of their infuriated Protestant neighbours in case of a Spanish lauding.