Simancas: August 1588, 1-10

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: August 1588, 1-10', in Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 4, 1587-1603, (London, 1899) pp. 358-373. British History Online [accessed 1 March 2024]

August 1588, 1-10

1 Aug.
Estado, 594.
360. Duke Of Medina Sidonia to Duke Of Parma.
During the voyage I despatched Captain Rodrigo Tello to give your Excellency an account of the Armada. I have since then continued the voyage to this place. This morning the enemy's fleet came out, and having got the wind of us, attacked our rear. During their exchange of cannon fire with the Armada my flagship became so closely engaged that it was necessary for us to attack the enemy in force whereupon they retired, although they still continue within sight of the Armada, with the object, apparently, of delaying and impeding our voyage. If their object had been to fight they had a good opportunity of doing so to-day. I have thought well to send this pinnace with Ensign Juan Gil to inform your Excellency of this, and to say that it is my intention, with God's help, to continue my voyage without allowing anything to divert me, until I receive from your Excellency instructions as to what I am to do and where I am to wait for you to join me. I beseech your Excellency to send with the utmost speed some person with a reply to the points about which I have written to you, and supply me with pilots from the coast of Flanders ; as without them I am ignorant of the places where I can find shelter for ships so large as these, in case I should be overtaken by the slightest storm. Ensign Gil will give your Excellency all the information you may require about the Armada.—Galleon "San Martin," two leagues off Plymouth, 31st July 1588.
361. Duke Of Medina Sidonia to Duke Of Parma.
The ships which came out, forming the enemy's fleet, with Drake on board, are said to number 80 sail as far as they could be counted, some of them being excellent vessels, and all of them very rapid sailers. I could not send the ensign (Gil) yesterday, but he leaves to-day. I have nothing to add to what I have written, except that the enemy still continues to harass our rear, and that their ships now seem to have been increased to above a hundred sail. —Off Portland, 20 leagues from Plymouth, 1st August 1588.
2 Aug.
R.O. State Papers. Spain.
362. Duke Of Medina Sidonia to Don Hugo De Moncada. (fn. 1)
A fine day this has been! If the galleasses had come up as I expected the enemy would have had (his fill?)
The important thing for us is to proceed on our voyage, for these people (the enemy) do not mean fighting, but only to delay our progress. In order to prevent this, and enable the Armada to keep on its way with safety, it is advisable that it should sail in two squadrons, vanguard and rearguard. The rearguard shall be reinforced by the best ships in the fleet, one half under the command of Juan Martinez (de Recalde), and the other half under Don Alonso de Leyva. You with your flagship and two other galleasses will join the rearguard with Juan Martinez, whilst Captain Peruchio with his galleass "Patrona" will go in the vanguard with me. You will keep the three galleasses well together, and ready to proceed without further orders to any point where they may be needed.— Royal Galleon ("San Martin"), 2nd August 1588.
3 & 4 Aug.
Paris Archives, K. 1567.
363. Advices from Rouen.
On the 1st instant a ship from Lisbon arrived at Havre de Grace, and, reports that after doubling Cape Finisterre she discovered the Spanish fleet, which was sailing with, a land breeze along the coast. The ship was four leagues from the fleet, and as she was farther out at sea. the wind served her better. She did not sight land until she was at 30 leagues from Havre, de Grace. She saw the fleet either on the day of Santiago or the following day.
News from Havre de Grace also relates, under date of the 2nd instant, that a ship had entered, the port coming from the Newfoundland fisheries. The master reports that off Dartmouth he sighted the Spanish fleet to the number of about 200 sail. Eight or ten leagues farther on, when he was off Plymouth, he fell in with Drake and the English fleet of about 60 sail. Drake asked him for news, and on the master replying that he had sighted the Spanish fleet off Dartmouth, Drake made four sailors from the fishing boat come on board his flagship. In the night the master managed to escape from the English fleet.
Merchants' letters of 1st instant report from Calais that a ship belonging to M. Gourdan, governor of the town, had entered port and reported that eight days previously she had met the Spanish fleet, which had taken 20 sailors out of the ship. But they do not say where.
Note.—To the letter from Mendoza to Idiaquez, enclosing the above advices, Mendoza has added a hasty autograph note saying : Whilst I am signing this news comes from English sources, according to which, if it be true, the Armada must already be with God's, grace near Flanders. I await anxiously news from there, which I will forward without a moment's delay."
4 Aug.
Estado, 594.
364. Duke of Medina Sidonia to Duke of Parma.
By Captain Rodrigo Tello and Ensign Gil I informed your Excellency of my progress on the voyage, and expressed a hope that I should shortly arrive on the Flemish coast. Since the last advice was sent we have made but slow headway, owing to the calms which have beset us ; and the most I have been able to do is to arrive off the Isle of Wight. The enemy's ships have continued to bombard us, and we were obliged to turn and face them, so that the firing continued on most days from dawn to dark ; but the enemy has resolutely avoided coming to close quarters with our ships, although I have tried my hardest to make him do so. I have given him so many opportunities that sometimes some of our vessels have been in the very midst of the enemy's fleet, to induce one of his ships to grapple and begin the fight ; but all to no purpose, as his ships are very light, and mine very heavy, and he has plenty of men and stores. My stores are running short with these constant skirmishes ; and if the weather do not improve, and the enemy continues his tactics, as he certainly will, it will be advisable for your Excellency to load speedily a couple of ships with powder and balls of the sizes noted in the enclosed memorandum, and to despatch them to me without the least delay. It will also be advisable for your Excellency to make ready to put out at once to meet me, because, by God's grace, if the wind serves, I expect to be on the Flemish coast very soon. In any case, whether I be further detained or not, I shall require powder and ball, and I beg your Excellency to send them to me at once, in as large a quantity as possible. With regard to this and other points, Captain Pedro de Leon, whom I am sending with this mission, will give your Excellency all necessary particulars.—Royal Galleon ("San Martin") off the Isle of Wight, 4th August 1588.
4 Aug.
Paris Archives, K. 1567.
365. Advices from England.
Two English couriers, who embarked at Rye on the 4th instant, report as follows. After they had left port they fell in with some fishermen, who told them that shortly before a large Spanish ship, with many oars on each side, and full of Englishmen, had passed. They said she bore a banner of Santiago, and another flag of the queen of England over all. The people on board had spoken with them, and had told them that the English fleet had encountered the Spanish fleet on Sunday, and fought it, (fn. 2) and they (i.e., the people on board) were going to warn Lord Harry Seymour to take care that the duke of Parma did not cross. They said they had fought, but did not say whether they had been victorious or were beaten. The English ambassador is troubled, as it is thought that their fleet is defeated, and that this vessel was going to give notice to the duke of Parma to embark. A courier also who came from the French ambassador in England and was captured and carried to Gravelines, says that on the same Tuesday a cutter had arrived there with news for the duke of Parma that the Armada was coming up. The couriers also say that on Thursday at Dieppe they heard firing— a heavy cannonade—and that doubtless the fleets were engaged.
5 Aug.
Estado, 594.
366. Points of the Earl Of Huntly's Letter to the Duke Of Parma from Lisleburgh, 5th August 1588.
He received the letter of 14th July sent by the hand of Chisholm, the nephew of the bishop of Dublin (Dunblane). He is much obliged, as are the other Catholic nobles, for the willingness expressed to aid them in their cause, which really is identical with that of his Majesty ; they and theirs having offered him their services, as he is attached to the cause of God, to which they have consecrated their lives. They do not therefore further urge their cause upon him, as it is his own. Prays him not to miss so many good opportunities of helping them, as such opportunities cannot always be recovered. If the aid is further delayed, he would rather leave the country, and go and serve in Flanders, than consent to anything against his conscience and the Catholic religion, to which he is being urged strongly by the King and the heretics.
He will do his best to prevent the King from proceeding against the earl of Morton, and to save his life, which would not be in danger, nor those of the other Catholics, if the aid were to arrive promptly. For the rest he refers to the letter from Bruce and Semple.
6 Aug.
Estado, 594.
367. Points of Letter from Robert Bruce to the Duke Of Parma.
Thanks for the Duke's letter. The lords rejoiced greatly at the letter sent to them, as they recognised that the Duke's object in wishing to help them was to promote the Catholic religion. When they are succoured with this end, and for the conversion of Scotland, the Scottish lords will desire no other master than his Majesty. They think it will come to this, seeing the state of the country and the disturbed condition of many of those who at present are most alienated from it.
He refers to the bearer to say much about the earl of Morton, the other nobles, and the Catholics. He was sending to Colonel Semple, who was in his own country, the letter addressed to them jointly. He asks that the bearer be sent back some days before the reinforcement, so that they may send out and meet it.
Bruce's Discourse.
He points out the advisability of conquering England in order to bring the Netherlands to submission. For this purpose the easiest means must be sought, and these means are urged by those who advocate the entrance from Scotland. This would divide the English forces, and the (invading) army would have greater commodity there than elsewhere in the island. This is all the more necessary for your Majesty, seeing how much more difficult the enterprise would be if the King and Scottish heretics joined the English. It is, moreover, of the greatest importance that an entrance should be effected in the north of England, where the Queen has most forces, because, as the other Spanish force would attack the south, her armies will have to be divided.
It is therefore meet that a commencement should be made with the complete submission of the island, not only for the conquest, but also for the maintaining of it afterwards. The king of Scotland himself, referring to this, said that your Majesty would undertake the English enterprise at great risk, with the only effect, after all, of handing over the possession of the country to him, or some other person than the conqueror ; because, in order to hold England peacefully, it is necessary to make sure of those who have any claim to it, and who may seize opportunities of disturbing it, such as the existence of war in Spain, or otherwise. And as the English are a proud people, they would desire to throw off the yoke, forgetting the benefit they had received by their conversion.
The king of Scotland has the best claim to the English crown, and all the English heretics would help him, as well as the king of Denmark. If he were to be converted he would probably be supported by his French kinsmen, and by all Englishmen, who would rather have a native king than a foreigner. He (Bruce) is of opinion that the only remedy for these difficulties is to bridle the king of Scotland, by supporting one of the great parties in the country, namely, the Catholics, who will be the stronger with a little help, and will be able to ensure from Scotland any necessary help to the Armada against England. The other side would act in a contrary manner, as the King has the same right to England as to Scotland, and if he is incapacitated from ruling the one, he is for ruling the other.
No less advantage may be looked for from the conquest and conversion of England by the Catholic lords than from, the League in France, which at first did not possess so much force (fn. 3) in comparison as is now possessed by the Scottish heretics. The country was never in so favourable a condition for beiug conquered as at present, owing to the disputes that exist. He concludes by recommending the bearer, who is trustworthy, and a good penman.
368. Duke Of Medina Sidonia to Duke Of Parma.
I have constantly written to your Excellency, giving you information as to my whereabouts with the Armada, and not only have I received no reply to my letters, but no acknowledgment of their receipt has reached me. I am extremely anxious at this, as your Excellency may imagine ; and to free myself of the doubt as to whether any of my messengers have reached you safely, I am now despatching this flyboat, with the intelligence that I am at anchor here, two leagues from Calais, with all the Armada, the enemy's fleet being on my flank, and able to bombard me, whilst I am not in a position to do him much harm. I feel obliged to inform your Excellency of this, and to beseech you, if you cannot at once bring out all your fleet, to send me the 40 or 50 fly boats I asked for yesterday, as, with this aid, I shall be able to resist the enemy's fleet until your Excellency can come out with the rest, and we can go together and take some port where this Armada may enter in safety. As I am uncertain whether this messenger will arrive in time, I only again supplicate your Excellency to accede to my request, as it is of the utmost importance for carrying out the desired object in the interest of God and his Majesty.—From the Armada, before Calais, 6th August 1588.
7 Aug.
Paris Archives, K. 1448.
369. The King to Bernardino De Mendoza.
Of the four galleys that sailed from Corunna with the Armada, one of them arrived two days afterwards at Vivero on the same coast—Galicia—and two of the others, after having reached Ushant, were so clumsy, that instead of entering one of the Breton ports they came to the ancient channel near Bayonne, where one was wrecked and the other ran ashore, the crew escaping and deserting from both of them.
Captain Medrano, who was in charge, writes that he has seen the governor of Bayonne, who has replied that he can take no steps until he has heard from the King (of France). Address the King in my name, and say that as we are at peace, and his ports are open to my ships, I pray that he will order the governor of Bayonne to deliver the two galleys, or what may remain of them, and to lend such assistance as he is able to rescue all the salvage possible. If the missing galley should have put into a French port I am sure you will have taken due steps to protect it.—San Lorenzo, 7th August 1588.
7 Aug.
Estado, 165.
370. The King to the Duke Of Medina Sidonia.
Since my letter to you of 1st instant, our only news of you is that, on the 27th ultimo, you were near the mouth of the Channel, but I hope that by this time, with the blessing of God and fine weather, the successful carrying out of the undertaking will be far advanced, and that you will have suffered no great inconvenience for lack of the galleys, which we now know were unable to follow you. What I wrote to you in my last, about taking one of the enemy's ports where the Armada may refit, I think well to repeat here, and impress upon you how important it would be for you to enter and make yourself safe in the Thames itself. The season is so far advanced that this course seems to be necessary, and it will have the effect of compelling the enemy to maintain two armies, one on each side of the river, as they will be uncertain where the attack upon them will be made. If they do not do this, the road to London will be open to us on the unprotected side, whilst otherwise they will divide their forces, and may be attacked where they are weakest. It will also be very advantageous for our forces to be so concentrated, as co-operation and mutual assistance will be easy, and will restrain any aid that might otherwise be sent to the enemy, whilst keeping clear the passage from Flanders for sending the necessary reinforcements and supplies. It will have the effect, moreover, of preventing disorder, and will cause desirable emulation amongst the soldiers. These are all weighty reasons for the step now proposed, which you will see is desirable. I confine myself to proposing it merely, and leave the decision to my nephew the Duke (to whom I have written about it) and yourself. I am sure you will do what is best. As you will understand how anxious I am until I hear from you, pray endeavour to send me almost hourly intelligence of what occurs.—San Lorenzo, 7th August 1588.
7 Aug.
Estado, 594.
371. Duke Of Medina Sidonia to Duke Of Parma.
By Captain Don Rodrigo Tello I received your Excellency's letter of 3rd instant, and rejoice to hear that you are well. I have sent you daily reports of the state of the Armada, and my secretary wrote to you last night saying where we were, and the danger of the position, in consequence of the lack of shelter and the strong currents, which will force me to get clear away at the least sign of bad weather. I therefore beg you to hasten your coming out before the spring tides end, as it will be impossible for you to get out of Dunkirk and the neighbouring ports during the neap tides.
The general opinion is that it will be very unadvisable for the Armada to go beyond this place, as your Excellency may judge. I also wish to draw your attention to what I have written about obtaining a port for it, as the season is so advanced, and my ships so large, that I am obliged to be very careful, so that I may be able to give a good account of myself in the fulfilment of the task entrusted to me. On this and other points I refer your Excellency to my secretary's statement.—On board the Royal Galleon, 7th August 1588.
Note.—The duke of Parma has written the following note on the above letter :— "With regard to the duke of Medina's remarks about getting out of Dunkirk during the spring tides, he may be informed that there will be no difficulty in Nieuport, or in Dunkirk either. It is true that in certain states of the winds the water goes down, and the spring tide is necessary, but there are only a very few boats which run this risk. Even if we should be unable to avail ourselves of them, and they should not join the rest, there has never been the slightest question or idea of waiting for the spring tides, or of deferring the enterprise on this account."
372. Duke Of Medina Sidonia to Duke Of Parma.
I am sending the Inspector-General Don Jorge Manrique (fn. 4) to your Excellency, to give you an account of the state of the Armada and to represent to you the urgent need for providing a port for it, without which it will doubtless be lost as the ships are so large. In all respects I am of opinion that it would be advisable for you to adopt this course as speedily as possible ; the season being so far advanced that it behoves us to be careful. Besides that, it is impossible to continue cruising with this Armada, as its great weight causes it to be always to leeward of the enemy, and it is impossible to do any damage to him, hard as we may try. Don Jorge will give you as full an account as I could do personally.—Galleon "San Martin," 7th August 1588.
373. Duke Of Parma to the King.
On the 2nd instant Don Rodrigo Tello came to me with news of the Armada, bringing me the Duke's letter of 25th July. On the 5th the Duke's letter of 1st instant was brought to me by Ensign Juan Gil, and on the night of the following day, 6th, I received by Pedro de Leon the letters dated 4th. To-day a pilot brought me the letters of 6th, copies of all of which are enclosed.
There is no need for me to dwell upon these communications, except to say that I have acceded with all speed and energy to the request that pilots and ammunition should be supplied. I have done this to the full extent that our penury here permitted. As I previously informed your Majesty, the troops and munitions were waiting, and on the receipt of the first advice by Captain Tello everything was made ready. When Ensign Gil arrived, I gave orders that the boats should be brought in-shore, and the embarcation commenced. This was done with all speed, and will shortly be completed. In the meanwhile I remained here to close up affairs and write despatches ; my intention being to leave for the coast to-morrow, where I hope to be able to serve your Majesty worthily, and will try to carry out the task entrusted to me, in the firm confidence that our Lord in his infinite mercy will deign to grant me success in His own cause, and your Majesty's service. If the Duke succeeds in getting to a place where I can assist him, your Majesty may be sure that I shall do so, and, as soon as the passage across is free, no opportunity shall be missed. Nevertheless, the constant advices I am receiving inform me that the enemy has a large force of armed vessels on this coast to oppose our coming out, but doubtless they will depart when the Armada arrives. In addition to this, we are making a feint of bringing our boats out of the river at Antwerp, and this may cause some of the rebel vessels to go thither to counteract the danger they apprehend from that quarter. To judge from what the Duke says, it would appear that he still expects me to come out and join him with our boats, but it must be perfectly clear that this is not feasible. Most of our boats are only built for the rivers, and they are unable to weather the least sea. It is quite as much as they can do to carry over the men in perfectly fair weather, but as for fighting as well, it is evident they cannot do it, however good the troops in them may be. This was the principal reason why your Majesty decided to risk sending the Armada, as in your great prudence you saw that the undertaking could not be carried through in any other way. I will, however, continue, as hitherto, to assist and co-operate with the Duke in every way in my power, and your Majesty shall be well served in this respect.
With regard to supplies of biscuits and other victuals for the Armada, I am so short of money that I can do but little, but I will still do my best.
The peace negotiations with the English have ended in the recall of the Commissioners by the Queen, and they departed by way of Calais. My efforts to induce them to continue the negotiations, notwithstanding the presence of the Armada, were unavailing.— Bruges, 7th August 1588.
8 Aug.
Estado, 594.
374. Duke Of Parma to the King.
I have news that the Duke, with the Armada, has arrived in Calais roads. God be praised for this ! Although it may be superfluous to insist upon a point which I know your Majesty well understands, I cannot refrain from repeating once more what I have said so often already. I, for my part, will exert every possible effort to fulfil my obligation, and will duly co-operate with the Duke and assist him to the full extent of my power. But it appears that he still wishes me to go out and join him with these boats of ours, and for us, together, to attack the enemy's fleet. But it is obviously impossible to hope to put to sea in our boats without incurring great danger of losing our army. If the Duke were fully informed on the matter, he would be of the same opinion, and would busy himself in carrying out your Majesty's orders at once, without allowing himself to be diverted into another course. Suffice it to say, that I will, in all things possible, endeavour to please him, and will give him such assistance as he requires. As soon as I have signed this letter I shall mount and set out for the coast, where, please God, I shall arrive to-night.
The men who have recently come hither from the Duke, not seeing the boats armed or with any artillery on board, and the men not shipped, have been trying to make out we are not ready. They are in error. The boats are, and have been for months, in a proper condition for the task they have to effect, namely, to take the men across, although we have not so many seamen as we ought to have. Still, withal, we have sufficient for the work we have to do. The boats are so small that it is impossible to keep the troops on board of them for long. There is no room to turn round, and they would certainly fall ill, rot, and die. The putting of the men on board of these low, small boats is done in a very short time, and I am confident that in this respect there will be no shortcoming in your Majesty's service. What grieves me most is to learn that the Duke is in his present position, without a place of shelter in case of necessity, whilst the winds that have prevailed for so long still continue. This wind would prevent our boats from coming out, even if the sea were clear of the enemy's ships. But I trust in God, that He will aid us in everything, and allow us shortly to send your Majesty the good news we wish for. The men are brave and in good heart.—Bruges, 8th August 1588.
8 Aug.
Paris Archives, K. 1567.
375. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
I have letters from England, dated 29th ultimo, from Julio, who tells me that the news of the return of the Armada to the Corunna was looked upon as a feint, and that the Queen had consequently ordered the Admiral, with half the ships, to keep off the French coast, whilst Drake, with the other half, kept near the English side. So that, with the ships under Lord Seymour in the Downs, they had their force divided into three squadrons ; the design being to fall upon the rearguard of your Majesty's fleet as it entered the Channel, and get the wind of it.
The earl of Leicester had been appointed by the Queen General of the land forces, with Lord Grey as Lieutenant, and as General of Cavalry she had appointed her new favourite the earl of Essex. Norris was to command the infantry.
She had sent the king of Scotland 8,000l. by Ashby. The bishop of Dunblane has arrived here as disillusioned as I feared he would be, at finding the king of Scotland as great a heretic as ever, which he (the Bishop) says he must, for the relief of his own conscience, confess he is. He has now gone to Rome.—Paris, 8th August 1588.
8 Aug.
Estado, 950.
376. Count De Olivares to the King.
Cardinal Carrafa and I duly presented to his Holiness your Majesty's letter of 19th July. Carrafa addressed him in terms that would have moved any other heart but the Pope only shrugged his shoulders, for when it comes to getting money out of him it is like squeezing his life blood, and our efforts availed nothing.—Rome, 8th August 1588.
Appended to the above letter is the following document containing the speech delivered by count de Olivares to the Pope on the 7th August on behalf of the King :—
His Majesty wishes to inform your Holiness that on the 19th and 20th June the Armada suffered one of the heaviest gales that has been known for a long time past, and the duke of Medina Sidonia and the greater part of the fleet were accordingly obliged to take refuge in the port of Cprunna, the remainder putting into other ports of Asturias and Biscay. Some of the ships arrived very near the coast of Brittany, but they subsequently rejoined the rest of the fleet in Corunna without a single ship being lost. This was a signal mercy of God, and his Majesty looks upon the first event (i.e., the gale) as having been sent by Him, in order that the success the King anticipates may be recognised as coming from His hand.
As soon as the Armada was re-united (in Corunna) his Majesty sent me special instructions to inform your Holittess, in order that the good news might dissipate your anxiety ; and I am also to inform your Holiness that whilst the ships were being got together great activity was exercised in re-fitting and re-victualling. His Majesty is consequently assured by the duke of Medina Sidonia that, at latest, the Armada will again sail on the 20th July, and from the known activity of the Duke there is every hope that the date of departure may even be some days earlier than this. With God's blessing and fine weather, therefore, as the voyage is so short a one, it may. be hoped that both his Holiness and his Majesty will very soon be consoled for their common anxiety in consequence of this delay.
His Majesty wishes to represent to his Holiness the great expenditure he has had to incur in consequence of the delay, and the need to revictual the ships. Owing to this, and to the hope that had been entertained that his Holiness's subsidy would ere this have been in Flanders, it has been impossible to send with the desired punctuality the necessary funds from Spain. His Majesty therefore supplicates the Pope to anticipate the payments, as he has already been requested to do, and wishes to remind him that this enterprise is his own (i.e., the Pope's), since it was by his persuasion that his Majesty was induced to undertake it. The task was so heavy a one (and the unavoidable accidents which have assailed it have rendered it still heavier), that his Majesty trusts that the Pope's postponement of the payments, which he could easily make, may, by God's grace, not result in some reverse, which would be a great injury to the cause of our Lord and the glory of his Holiness. His Holiness would never cease to grieve if he had been the cause of such a disaster, and all subsequent efforts he might make to repair it would be unavailing, whilst what is asked of him now he can do with the greatest of ease. His Majesty therefore hopes that his Holiness will not fail him on this occasion in a joint undertaking towards which his Majesty has already contributed so much.
His Majesty also begs his Holiness to send the Legate (for England), as the delay in doing so is no longer serviceable in the matter of secrecy, whilst it is very desirable that he should be sent in the interest of affairs there (i.e., in England). In addition to this, it is meet the world should recognise the large share his Holiness has in this enterprise, and even if the Legate arrive during the time that fighting is going on, there will be nothing incompatible in the cross of the Holy See appearing in such a contest.
8 Aug.
Paris Archives, K. 1567.
377. Report Of Hassan, the late Marquis Of Santa Cruz's Turkish freed slave, who left Calais 8th instant.
On Saturday the 6th instant, in the afternoon, his Majesty's Armada appeared before Calais, with the enemy's fleet a league behind ; the wind freshening, Lord Harry Seymour's squadron, which was guarding the mouth of the Thames against the duke of Parma's passage, was able to join the other English ships. The weather favouring them they were able to approach our fleet, which, on Sunday, was endeavouring to anchor in front of Calais. The same night the enemy set fire to six ships which he had brought for the purpose of burning our fleet. When our people saw these ships drifting down upon them they cut their cables, set sail, and ran for the coast of Flanders. At this time the galleass "Capitana" (fn. 5) fouled with her rudder the anchor of the galleass "Patrona," (fn. 6) and it became necessary to run her for the shore. Before she could enter Calais she ran on a sandbank, high and dry. Here she was attacked by the English pataches, who in fight killed most of those on board of her, although many had already gone ashore. During the day much artillery firing was henrd. This Turk says that those who were saved, report that Don Hugo de Moncada was killed on the galleass during the fighting.
9 Aug.
Paris Archives, K. 1567.
378. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
As I was in momentary expectation of receiving news from Flanders of the passage of the Armada through the Straits of Dover, or that an engagement had taken place, I received the enclosed original letter from Isoardo Capello (who in all things appertaining to your Majesty's service is as usual very willing, and especially zealous in furnishing me with information from all parts). The letter is from Rouen, and contains reports from men whom I am keeping specially in Havre de Grace and Dieppe, and who have hitherto reported most punctually and truly everything that has happened since the Armada entered the Channel. This fact encourages me the more to send this good news to your Majesty, hoping that God will allow it to be followed by many other victories, making use of your Majesty's arms to save our holy Catholic faith, as He has hitherto done. As I am sending off this courier in haste, I cannot detain him by writing any further information. The other despatches he carries were, however, ciphered already. The moment I receive confirmation of the news I will forward it.—Paris, 9th August 1588.
Note.—The despatch from Rouen enclosed in the above autograph letter is not now to be found, but a docket in the hand of Idiaquez on the outer sheet says, "With the relation of the victory over Drake of the 2nd August, and the advices from London. Seen.' " This appears to have been the false news of victory for which Mendoza was subsequently so bitterly abused in England, and blamed in Spain. His name lent itself in the former country to punning accusations of "mendacity," but it will be seen that he merely transmitted the news.
379. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
I way pay Julio the 2,000 crowns your Majesty orders. As I saw his need, and experienced his good conduct, I had already provided him with what I advised in my last letter. I cannot learn from the new confidant that any negotiations are going on here between the King and the English ambassador in the matter of closer alliance or assistance. I wrote to Julio that Don Antonio was going to try to escape in a French ship, and he lost no time in telling the Queen. I am also keeping my eyes open as to what may be done by Pedro de Oro, who calls himself Andrada. He has arrived in France and I have advised Sampson.
The substance of the notes forwarded to me by the Duke of Parma, is to say that he (fn. 7) will not employ the money he had in his possession except in the eventuality for which it was ordered. Colonel Semple also gives him (the duke of Parma) an account of his arrival, and what had passed with the King, all of which the Duke has already conveyed to your Majesty. The earl of Morton followed his own opinion instead of my instructions, and the advice I gave to the Scots generally has been neglected, which was that they should keep afoot in the north and not return home until the opportunity came, when they might hold the north country in spite of the King. I hope to God that when the Armada arrives the Catholics will act up to their promise, and will rescue Morton from prison, in order that he may fulfil his part.—Paris, 9th August 1588.
10 Aug.
Estado, 594.
380. Duke Of Parma to the King.
On the 8th instant I sent your Majesty the news I had received from the duke of Medina Sidonia, and enclosed copies of his several letters to me. I also informed your Majesty of the state of things here, and the speed with which our men were being shipped, although the wind was against our going out from this coast, as it still remains, and made it impossible even for the powder, balls, and pilots he had asked for to reach the Duke. On the evening of the 8th I arrived at Nieuport, where the embarkation of the men was so forward as to be practically completed ; 16,000 troops having been shipped that day in the boats at Nieuport. Without waiting there I pushed on to Dunkirk, where I found the men on the quay and everything ready, so that by that evening matters would be completed there also. At half-past 10 in the morning Don Jorge Manrique, the Inspector-general, arrived with letters from the Duke (he having sought me elsewhere and missed me). From the tenour of these letters, of which I enclose copies, your Majesty will see the danger that the Armada was in for the want of gaining a port. I can assure your Majesty that no one regrets this difficulty more than I do, and have done from the first, as I always considered it a most important point, and have mentioned it several times in my letters. I have always supposed that the Duke would have managed this as speedily as possible on his way up, and I am therefore not at all surprised at his anxiety, and his request that we here should go and help him to obtain a port, especially to capture the Isle of Wight. This is the request brought to me by Don Jorge Manrique, or else that I should join him to engage the enemy, which shows how badly informed the Duke must be as to the character of our small, weak boats, entirely unfit for fighting, or even to live in any heavy sea or high wind. The enemy's ships are, moreover, on this coast to prevent them from going out. My desire, nevertheless, effectually to serve your Majesty is so great that I decided to discuss the possibility with the marquis de Renti and practical sailors here, in the presence of Don Jorge Manrique, in order that, if it turned out to be impracticable, he might be satisfied that it really was so, and that the most we could hope for from these boats would be in fine settled weather, and with the Channel clear of enemies, to take our men across, as had been arranged ; the general verdict being that it would be quite out of the question for them to undertake a voyage of seven or eight days as proposed by the Duke. When this was under discussion, the embarkation continuing actively the while, the prince of Ascoli arrived here in a small boat, and also in other small boats Marolin and Major Gallinaro, bringing me intelligence that the enemy had sent eight fire-ships against the Armada, and that early on the morning of the 8th it had been necessary for our ships to cut their cables to get away from the fire. Being thus adrift, and with a heavy gale coming on, the Duke had been obliged to run on a northerly course. The enemy in the meanwhile had never left him, and had engaged some of our vessels which had been unable to join the rest of the Armada, the galleass "Capitana" ("San Lorenzo") being aground in Calais Roads, and the galleon "San Felipe" ashore at Nieuport. What happened subsequently with the other ships is unknown, except that the English continue to follow them with very swift vessels, manned by good and experienced sailors. God knows how grieved I am at this news, at a time when I hoped to send your Majesty my congratulations at having successfully carried through your intentions. But I am sure that your Majesty knows me to be one of your humblest and devoted servants, who has laboured hard in this business, and will recognise that no one can be more grieved than I. I will only say, therefore, that this must come from the hand of the Lord, who knows well what He does, and can redress it all, rewarding your Majesty with many victories, and the full fruition of your desires in His good time. We should therefore give Him thanks for all things. Above all it is of the utmost importance that your Majesty should be careful of your health, and then, thanks to the prudence and valour with which you are endowed, and the power which God has bestowed upon you, with His help all will be well, and the enemies of the Catholic faith and your Majesty's greatness will have scant reason for rejoicing at this misfortune. This great army, moreover, which your Majesty has intact, should, with God's blessing, banish all cause for fear, especially as it may be hoped that by His divine mercy the Duke and the mass of the Armada may not have suffered any further loss beyond that which I have stated. What adds more than I can here express to my grief at this disaster is that it was humanly impossible to remedy it, or aid in any way, both on account of the character of these boats of ours, and because of the wind being contrary to our putting out from this coast. With regard to the embarkation of our troops, some of the officers who have come from the Duke wished to make out that we were not ready, but they are mistaken in this, as it was impossible to ship the men sooner, as was proved byvthe experience of those we shipped in a very few hours. It was not advisable to keep the men a long time beforehand in these boats, where they could not be controlled as if they were on land, and yet could go ashore when they liked, besides which, they would have rotted and died. Your Majesty knows these rivers and canals, and will recollect perfectly that the boats are alongside the land, and on a level with it. I will not dwell further upon this point, except to show the great facility which it offered for the embarkation of the men. If only the wind had been fair, and the sea clear of enemies, this would not have impeded the business. As God has so ordained it, however, there is no use in further discussing it, and we can only hope that He will take pity on us, and grant to your Majesty much cause for rejoicing. Your Majesty may well imagine how distasteful it is to me to send you this news, but my duty towards you renders it necessary that I should do so, in order that your Majesty may adopt such measures as you consider advisable in Spain and elsewhere to prevent this misfortune, and the presence intact of the enemy's fleet from leading to further evils. But above all I beseech your Majesty to recollect that I am without money, and know not where or how to obtain any. Upon these forces here your Majesty's prestige largely depends, and they should be kept afoot. The soldiers who have so willingly and quietly put up with trouble and misery in the hope of this enterprise might change their tone and lose respect, especially if we cannot provide them with the ordinary pay and their ration bread as hitherto. I will keep your Majesty informed of all I hear.— Dunkirk, 10th August 1588.
10 Aug.
Paris Archives, K. 1568. French.
381. Advices from England.
Six or seven days ago the army of the king of Spain entered the Channel, and are at the present time between Calais and Dover. There have been continual skirmishes with the Admiral or Drake, but the losses which are asserted to have been suffered on either side are as yet unconfirmed. We are, however, sure that a galleass has been taken from the Spaniards, and that another great ship, said to be commanded by Vice-Admiral Don Pedro (de Valdez), has also been captured, and two Englishmen with him, one of them named Browne, (fn. 8) both of whom have been hanged. They have had bonfires all over the city recently for this victory, but they say nothing of the losses we have suffered, which are not slight if I am not mistaken, as the men who have been wounded in the skirmishes say they are certain that two of the Queen's great ships were sunk. I do not know, however, what the Spanish losses were, as I left our army before the capture of Don Pedro.
The Spaniards who have been captured are not ill-treated.
Our ships are in great want of powder.
There are two entrenched armies in Essex and Kent, the men having been collected from the various counties of England. There are about 20,000 men commanded by Lord Leicester, who is greatly disliked by his soldiers.
A bridge of boats has been built across the Thames at Gravesend in order that the armies of Essex and Kent may unite, if necessary. Eighteen merchantmen are on the point of leaving the Thames to join Lord Harry Seymour. They are hurrying them off so that they will not be able to wait for the stores which were being prepared for them, and will not therefore be fit to keep at sea long.
It is certain that the Spaniards are so strong that the Admiral and Drake have not dared to give them battle, but are obliged to resort to stratagems to gain advantage, in the hope of being able somehow to catch them unaware.
The principal people here say they are surprised to find that the Spaniards are so strong at sea as they are, and confess that they have underrated their power.
There is a great want of horses, although there are enough men : but they are not very well drilled.
There has been a rumour at Court, which has spread all over London, that the Spaniards have orders from their King to slaughter all English people, men and women, over the age of seven years. We know that the only object of this is to incense the people against the Spaniards.
10 Aug.
(night). Paris Archives, K. 1567.
382. Jos. Cunet (of Rouen) to Isoardo Capelo.
I thank you for letters forwarded to me from Spain and the news you send me. It would be very advantageous that the four galleys should have gone with the Armada. But you say that three of them were lost near Bayonne, and we have news from St. Malo that the other had safely arrived at Blavet in Brittany, after having thrown overboard a part of her victuals. This evening there have arrived three shipmasters of Dieppe, who say that this morning, before they left, there arrived there (Dieppe) a boat from Boulogne, bringing news that on Thursday last the Spanish Armada was seen passing off Boulogne, hugging the French coast, apparently intending to bring up in St. John's Roads between Boulogne and Calais ; there to await the vessels from Dunkirk, in order to go in company therewith to the Downs or to England. The same report adds, that on the same time, Thursday last, the English fleet was seen coasting along the English shore towards the Downs, both fleets being in sight of the French coast, it being almost possible to count the ships, which in the two forces amounted to over 400 sail. The news from Dieppe continues to assert that the English flagship was sunk. This is all the news up to the present.


  • 1. He was in chief command of the four galleasses, his own leading or flag galleass, "San Lorenzo," being wrecked at the mouth of Calais Harbour on the disastrous night of Sunday, 7th August (N.S.). Don Hugo was killed whilst defending his stranded vessel, and the above document was doubtless captured by the English when they boarded and looted the galleass, before the guns of Calais drove them away.
  • 2. The Spanish ship in question was probably the flagship of Don Pedro de Valdes ("Nuestra Señora del Rosario") which, as will be seen, had surrendered to the English on Monday, the 1st August.
  • 3. The King has specially called attention to the underlined passages.
  • 4. In the manuscript account of the Armada, written by Fray Juan de la Victoria, in the Madrid National Library (printed by Fernandez Duro), a piquant account is given of the violent quarrel bit ween Don Jorge and Parma on the latter's alleged unreadiness. The Prince was only restrained from laying violent hands on Don Jorge by the Spaniards around him.
  • 5. The "San Lorenzo."
  • 6. The "Napolitana."
  • 7. The King has noted the obscurity of this phrase, and in a marginal note has thus corrected it, "The man who says this must be the one who first went to Scotland ; I cannot recollect his name." It refers, of course, to Robert Bruce.
  • 8. In the King's hand :—"You will know very well who this is. The body is in danger." It is not clear to what person this refers. The only Browne I can find on the Armada was a gentleman volunteer of that name, with two servants, on board the "San Mateo." He was a relative of Viscount Montague.