Simancas: March 1587, 11-20

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: March 1587, 11-20', in Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 4, 1587-1603, (London, 1899) pp. 36-43. British History Online [accessed 1 March 2024]

March 1587, 11-20

14 March.
Estado, 949.
37. Memorial presented to his Holiness setting forth the advisability of making Dr. Allen a Cardinal.—14th March, 1587.
The reasons why it is important for the service of God and religion that the elevation of Dr. Allen should not be delayed. In the first place the imprisonment of the queen of Scotland, the leader of the cause who was recognised by all Catholics, and directed the negotiations for the conversion of England, which has had the effect of encouraging the heretics and casting down the Catholics, and has snapped the thread of the internal negotiations which were carried on by the Queen. Many have therefore lost heart and even the faithful are divided, as there is no one fit person whom they can all acknowledge as their leader.
If the enterprise can be undertaken speedily it will be necessary that some preparations be made beforehand, which will be suspicious if undertaken by other hands, and will have no force or authority if he be simply a private individual. If, on the other hand, it be needful to defer the enterprise, his prompt elevation will be even more necessary, as it will be a balm to the wound, and will confirm the afflicted flock in the faith, when they have proof that his Holiness sympathises with them and is thinking of a remedy for their distress.
Promptness is also necessary in order that his authority may be firmly established and his elevation known to all, great and small, by the time the expedition arrives.
It is also desirable that he shall have attended one of the sittings of the sacred college, and have made the acquaintance of the members and know something of the ceremonial.
Personally Dr. Allen possesses all the qualities which can be desired. He is unbiassed, learned, of good manners, judicious, deeply versed in all English affairs, and the negotiations for the submission of the country to the church, all of the instruments of which have been his pupils. So many amongst them have suffered martyrdom that it may be said that the purple of the cardinalate was dyed in the blood of the martyrs he has instituted.
His Majesty assures his Holiness, on his responsibility, that the prompt elevation of Dr. Allen is necessary in the interest of the affairs of England, and that, if it be delayed, important evils may result, whether the enterprise be undertaken at once, or deferred. He also assures him that personally Dr. Allen is extremely fit for the position, and for these reasons he begs his Holiness to trust to his recommendation, as he (the King) is so deeply interested in the success of the undertaking, and is well versed in English affairs, owing to his own reign and residence there, and to the fact that he has necessarily had to keep in constant touch with them. The enterprise has been discussed often before, but God has mysteriously been pleased to ordain that it should be undertaken in the time of his Holiness.
His Holiness very justly says that he will allow no consideration of time to stand in the way of so great a cause as the cry of the flock of Catholics for a leader, who shall, as far as possible, supply the Queen's (of Scotland) place, whilst raising up from out of the queen of England's subjects a powerful and open enemy to her, and at the same time greatly and fitly rewarding a man who deserves so well of the Holy See.
His Holiness need have no anxiety with regard to his maintenance, as the abbacy which his Majesty gives him is sufficient for the wants of a poor Cardinal, and it is not advisable at first that there should be much ostentation. When the time arrives for greater splendour to be desirable, his Majesty will provide accordingly ; his Holiness having no responsibility but to promote him. His Holiness and his Majesty will thus share between them the merit, which God will acknowledge, for it is His service alone which moves them to elevate this man.
The reply of the Pope, written by Cardinal Carrafa in Italian, is appended to the above memorandum, and runs as follows :—
His Holiness replies that as soon as his Majesty is ready for the enterprise, his Holiness will be ready to create Dr. Allen a Cardinal. He does not consider it desirable to do so unless the enterprise is carried out simultaneously, in consequence of the declaration which would have to be made if he were created a Cardinal out of season and in contravention of the constitution. (fn. 1)
Antonius Cardinalis Carrafa,
By order of his Holiness.
15 March.
Paris Archives, K. 1566. 73. French.
38. Charles Arundell to Secretary Idiaquez.
Following my previous course I have omitted no effort to effectually serve the interests of his Catholic Majesty in these parts, as you will have been fully informed by Señor Mendoza. It will be impertinent and tedious for me to reiterate my services, of which you have ample knowledge, but I cannot refrain solacing my poor spirit by writing you a few words about myself, so that when you see the smoke afar off you may the more easily guess at the heat of the fire which is hidden deep at the bottom of my seared heart. Pray weigh me not by my power, utterly broken now, as you know, but rather look to my affection to you, which is, perhaps, not second to that of any person of my quality. I know from Mr. Englefield and Señor Mendoza how careful you are for my welfare. Notwithstanding the state of our miserable country, I am not utterly despairing that some marvel be not reserved for my master the King, in whom the hope of all our patriots rests, to bring us the happiness to which we look forward, both on his own account, and because of the will of the late queen of Scotland ; besides which the most favourable opportunity possible now presents itself for his obtaining his inheritance, and for fully avenging all the wrong and injury committed against him by the most monstrous and barbarous creature of her sex that ever bore crown or sceptre. If I tried to say how Catholics in England and abroad are doomed, so to speak, to a perpetual longing worse than death itself for the day to come, I should far exceed the limits of a letter.—Paris, 15th March 1587.
16 March.
Estado, 949.
39. Count De Olivares to the King.
When Juan Agustin Pinelo, the Pope's banker, tells me that his Holiness says (as he does to everyone) that he is going to give your Majesty a million, I try to discover, in case it be possible to get the contribution for the Flanders business, what arrangements could be made to anticipate the payment. He made great difficulties about paying it in various different places instead of only one. I have given the papers about the succession to Cardinal Deça, upon whose secrecy I can depend. I have not moved in the matter hitherto, but I will make a commencement to-morrow. I tremble, however, at the Pope's lack of secresy. Your Majesty's order that the matter should be kept secret I presume applies to myself, and shall be obeyed ; but, as I have frequently written, it is impossible to impose secresy upon his Holiness, besides which I much doubt that he will give the brief without consultation. Those whom he will consult are sure to raise difficulties out of envy of your Majesty's greatness. I do not propose, however, to begin by asking the Pope for anything, because (amongst other reasons) nothing can be got from him until he feels certain that the enterprise is really to be carried through. I shall first give him an account in your Majesty's name of the right which it is ascertained your Majesty has (to the English crown), and promise him great moderation in asserting it with his concurrence ; and shall then express a hope that his Holiness will extend his help and favour to the claim. I shall afterwards be governed by his attitude.
With regard to Allen's hat I gave the Pope the statement of reasons enclosed, but neither my efforts nor those of Caraffa have persuaded him to grant it at once. When we pressed him with the argument that, even if the enterprise were not affected the elevation of Allen was necessary in order to sustain the English Catholics, be replied that this was a good reason why he should have promoted him last Christmas, without seeing that he thus threw the blame upon himself. The news has arrived here that your Majesty had received about the last plot against the queen of England, which they wanted to lay at the door of the French ambassador in England. (fn. 2) This gave an opportunity for the French ambassador here to say that it was a good juncture for your Majesty and the king of France to unite in the enterprise against the queen of England. I thought well to hint to the Pope that some stratagem might be hidden under this, with the object of discovering whether any negotiations were being carried on relative to such an enterprise between his Holiness and your Majesty, and in such case to try to frustrate it, and to give the king of France and the queen of England a pretext for arming, to your Majesty's prejudice. As I had not time to speak to the Pope personally about it, I conveyed it to him through Rusticucci, (fn. 3) from whom I have not received any reply. I will continue to work in this direction, because if the suspicion turns out true my action will justify itself, and if not it will make the Pope shy of the French.
I have diverted Cardinal Mondovi from the sending of that Scottish bishop, (fn. 4) and have persuaded him to close his ears to the praises the Scotsmen are singing of their King. He has agreed to make use of that Jesuit, Edmund Hayhoe, who is the kind of person we want, as the Pope is the man who will seize upon any branch.
Father Robert (Persons) here, thinking from what has passed that Allen's elevation is still distant, is worrying me to death to get the Pope to make him archbishop of Canterbury, which he says will in a great measure make up for the want of the cardinalate. He greatly exalts the dignity of the office and urges the desirability of the hat going with it. I have not countenanced this as it would divert the Pope from the matter of the cardinalate.
I venture to remind your Majesty of the condition imposed by the Pope in case Italian troops are to be sent on the enterprise. (fn. 5)
I await your Majesty's instructions as to the time when Allen is to begin to write something, as to his going and the pretext for it, the announcement of the enterprise in the consistory, and the course to be pursued by the nuncio in France. I will only remark again that your Majesty must give up all hope of secresy from the moment the Pope signs the warrants for the money, however much he may swear to say nothing. The worst of it is he cannot help it. Other Popes might drop hints but he simply lets it all out, whether he wants to or not. As it is impossible to deny what he says, seeing its probability and the quality of his person, I have to adopt the course of saying that I am writing all he says to your Majesty, without further discussion. His reputation as a man of his word is so small that people think it is nothing but talk.—Rome, 16th March 1587.
17 March.
Paris Archives, K. 1566. 74.
40. Advices from Scotland.
As the despatches were being closed the following advices from Scotland came to hand, dated 17th March. The ship that brought them arrived on the 21st.
When the execution of the Queen was known in Scotland the earl of Morton had crossed the English border on the west, with a number of troops, and had burnt many towns and villages, taking much plunder. He had been joined by gentlemen of the province, and especially those of the name of Graham, who have much influence there. Some of them have accompanied the Earl into Scotland.
The King says he is not sorry for what the earl of Morton has done, but only that anyone but himself should have been first to break the peace with England. He has given orders for the whole country to be ready with the men they are obliged to provide, and await instructions which may be sent to them at any moment. If any ambassador from England crosses the border, he is to be instantly hanged. All the nobility are ready to serve the King in the war, except the earl of Angus, who has not yet declared himself.
19 March.
Estado, 949. Latin.
41. William Allen to the King.
Exhorts him to undertake the enterprise against England, his unhappy country. The catholics are all clamouring for him, and he urges him to crown his glorious efforts in the holy cause of Christ by punishing this woman, hated of God and man, and restoring the country to its ancient glory and liberty. He vindicates Philip's claim to the crown after the queen of Scotland, as a descendant of the house of Lancaster ; and pronounces a fervent blessing on the enterprise, for which he foretells complete success. (Signed, your faithful servant and subject. William Allen.)— Rome, 19th March 1587.
18 March.
Estado, 949. Italian.
42. Document headed "Considerations why it is desirable to carry through the Enterprise of England before discussing the Succession to the Throne of that country, claimed by his Majesty."
Delivered by Melino to Count De Olivares, 18th March 1587.
The evils and obstacles that might result from it:—
It must be presupposed that this matter cannot be communicated to his Holiness without its reaching the ears of other persons, by some channel or another, either through the natural want of secrecy in this Court, the facility with which his Holiness usually communicates his affairs, the talk of officials or ministers, who are much given to divulge such matters, and finally because his Holiness will probably not venture to decide the matter privately, and without taking counsel, the case being so important.
By whatever means the matter became public, great prejudice would thereby be caused, not only to the enterprise, but to his Majesty's claim to the succession, for the following reasons :
The Pope himself, or various Cardinals, might perhaps conceive suspicions of his Majesty's proceedings regarding this enterprise ; and the result of such vain thoughts and discourse might be that the Pope would help less liberally in favour and money, on the assertion that his Majesty was forwarding the enterprise mainly out of regard to his individual advantage. For the same reason the other Christian Catholic princes might be moved to jealousy, for reasons of State, of the greatness of Spain, particularly the king of France, who with very good grounds would, with his friends, try to frustrate the affair. The Italian princes would do the same, especially the seigniory of Venice, who, we are informed by Moosignor Bergamo, the new nuncio in France, are already somewhat jealous. The princes of the house of Guise and Lorraine also will be much displeased, although they might easily be induced to join in the enterprise if the suspicions of France be not aroused.
The same will happen with the Scots, who will be of the greatest importance in the enterprise, and they may be easily brought over to our side if this claim of his Majesty is kept secret. Cardinal Farnese and the other friends of the prince of Parma's children, who are likewise descended from the house of Portugal, might also be disturbed if this question were discussed at the present time, although we have never heard from them that they would make any claim.
It is obvious that the queen of Scotland also might have her suspicions aroused, and doubt if due consideration were being paid to her person and cause. There would certainly be no lack of politicians of the party of the French and Scots to persuade her that such was the case, and the same may be said of the English Catholics both at home and abroad, as they have no leader to direct them.
The very fact of this Spanish claim being made would greatly aggravate heresy in England, as his Majesty's participation in this enterprise would thereby become odious to all other princes, heretics and Catholics alike, with the idea that Spain wishes to dominate all Europe, and so the cause of the heretics would be more favourably regarded, on the ground that the enterprise was undertaken for reasons of state, and not for the sake of religion. This would draw them close to the Scots, and the English Catholics themselves would take the oath under such circumstances, which would be a grave prejudice. France also would be drawn to them and influence would be brought to bear upon the Pope and other princes ; besides which the Scotch and French party in Paris and elsewhere, who have hitherto secretly opposed the proceedings of Messieurs Allen and Melino, would find good reason in these circumstances to arouse the suspicions of the Queen of Scotland, the English Catholics, and other princes, by saying that all the aid that Mr. Allen has received, and is receiving, from his Majesty, either for himself or the seminary, has been given simply with this object. This would arouse great prejudice against him, and his dignity is not yet sufficient to allow him to defy such calumny successfully. Many other difficulties and obstacles would spring therefrom, which would probably spoil the whole design, or at least would render it immensely more difficult.
The advantages which would result from the King's succession not being mentioned until the enterprise be carried through :—
First.—Inasmuch as the whole world is now of opinion that his Majesty is to undertake the enterprise in order to restore the Catholic faith, to avenge the open and intolerable injuries against himself, and especially against God's church, and the multitude of martyrs, all good Catholics in Christendom would favour it with their prayers, blessings, writings, and other aids ; so that those who, for state or other reasons, or jealousy of the power of Spain, were averse to it, will not venture to oppose it. His Majesty's friends will be better able to work in favour of the enterprise, as, for instance, the Pope with the king of France, who may not be pleased with the affair, and get him to remain quiet, with the princes of the house of Lorraine, and other French Catholics ; whilst Allen's negotiations with the English Catholics and neutrals will be also more effectual, as he can assure them by letters, books, &c. that the only object entertained here is to reform religion and punish those who have deserved punishment. This will greatly encourage them in England. When the enterprise shall have been effected, and the whole realm and the adjacent islands are in the hands of his Majesty, and the fortresses and strong places powerless to oppose him, then will be the proper time to deal with the question, because if the Queen of Scotland be dead, as she probably will be, as the heretics, having her in their hands, and in the belief that the enterprise is in her interest, will kill her, there will be no other Catholic prince alive whose claims will clash with those of his Majesty ; whereas if she be alive and married to his Majesty's liking, the question of his Majesty's succession can be taken in hand with her authority and the claims of the House of Lancaster asserted.
The man who might be the cardinal of England, and the leader and head of them all, could easily bring the others to decide what might be desirable, through Parliament, if the new Bishops, who are principal members thereof, were by his side as well as the lay nobles (most of the present ones being heretics would probably be destroyed in the war, and those created in their places by his Majesty would be favourable).
His Majesty would have much greater reason for his claim then, as the descendant of the house of Lancaster, seeing the disqualification of the other 'claimants, the bull of Pius V., and the will of the queen of Scotland. He would have the advantage of a just cause, of having restored religion, and finally the votes of the estates of the realm, confirmed by his Holiness, who, it may be supposed, would not then interpose difficulties, which he might do now in order not to displease other princes. Finally, everything consists in the enterprise being effected now that so good an opportunity exists, and that the forces of England and Ireland should be in his Majesty's power, whilst some great and important Englishman should be there to manage the people, and satisfy other princes, this being the most important point of all for the success of the affair, which has already been prejudiced by the delay that has taken place.
Note.—Melino, although a servant of the Guises, had been won over to the Spanish side by Allen and Olivares, but it will be seen by the above document that he still had a leaning to the policy of his nominal master, Guise, who would have preferred to see his cousin James Catholic king of England.


  • 1. This was the understanding subscribed by Sixtus that Cardinals should only be made at the Ember-tide of December. When upon further pressure from Philip the Pope elevated Allen, he replied to the objecting Cardinals that "necessity knew no law."
  • 2. Moody and W. Stafford's proposals to Destrappes and Chateauneuf. By the time this letter was written the two Frenchmen were absolved and it was acknowledged by the Queen that the plot had mainly been an attempt of William Stafford to blackmail Chateauneuf.
  • 3. Cardinal Rusticucci, one of the Papal Secretaries of State. He was not generally favourable to the Spanish interests as was his colleague Cardinal Caraffa.
  • 4. Chisholm the Carthusian monk, Bishop of Dunblane.
  • 5. The condition inserted in the agreement to aid the armada, to the effect that if Italian troops were utilised by Philip in the expedition, the Pope might contribute them in place of money.