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: September 1588, 1-10', in Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 4, 1587-1603, (London, 1899) pp. 411-425. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/simancas/vol4/pp411-425 [accessed 1 March 2024]
September 1588, 1-10
414. Copy of Letter from Pedro De Alava in Rouen.
I have not written news of the Armada, as the rumours have been so various and I like to send trustworthy intelligence. Statements, however, are now current from many quarters, Calais, Dieppe, Holland, etc., and it is considered certain that the Armada has fought the English, and dealt them a mortal blow—sending many of their ships to the bottom, and capturing others, whilst the rest of the English fleet, to the number, they say, of 27 sail, has returned much damaged to the port of London. These are all that could escape. A servant of George Seguin was with this courier, and says that the sailors from Zeeland confirm this to M. de Gourdan, governor of Calais. The Armada is said to be in a port or river which I believe is called Tirfle (the Firth?) or something sounding like that, and it is stated that it consists of about 200 ships ; at least that is the common rumour.—Rouen, 1st September 1588.
415. Duke Of Medina Sidonia to the King.
I wrote to your Majesty on the 21st ultimo by Don Baltasar de Zuñiga, giving a full account of all that had happened up to that time. Since then we have had, on four separate nights, heavy gales with strong head winds, thick fogs, and rain. This has caused 17 vessels to separate from the Armada, with Don Alonso de Leyva, Juan Martinez de Recalde, and other persons of importance ; after this long-continued bad and contrary weather. By God's mercy, yesterday at noon, the wind shifted to the west, somewhat more in our favour. We were therefore able to sail in a southerly direction, and are now in 58 degrees north latitude, having counted 95 sail during the day. The wind has now veered to the W.N.W., with a more favourable appearance, but the winds on this coast are always more tempestuous than elsewhere ; and are so prevalent from the south, that there is no certainty of a continuance of the present fair weather. I pray that God in His mercy will grant us fine weather, so that the Armada may soon enter port ; for we are so short of provisions that if for our sins we be long delayed, all will be irretrievably lost. There are now a great number of sick, and many die. To-day on this galleon there expired Don Pedro de Zuñiga, eldest son of the marquis de Aguilafuerte ; and four days ago we lost Don Lorenzo de Mendoza, son of the count de Orgaz. Pray consider the distress of this Armada after so terrible a voyage, and the urgent need for prompt measures of relief.—On the galleon "San Martin," 3rd September 1588.
416. Statement of as much as can be learnt of the Royal
Armada, from the date of last Advices, 29th August, until
the 3rd September 1588.
An Irish lad named Patrick Catnihavil (?), a student and native of the city of Armagh, declares that desiring to come to these parts to pursue his studies, he passed through England on his way, and stayed some days with his compatriots at the University of Oxford. By their aid he obtained a passport on the 16th July, to come to France, and accordingly proceeded to London, and from there to Dover. He remained there some days awaiting a passage across, and one day he saw a vessel in the harbour loaded with munitions. This ship was hoisting sail, and he was told that she was about to sail for Calais ; whereupon he shipped on board of her on the 6th August. The next day they fell in with the English fleet, and transferred the men and munitions she carried to the English flagship, he being obliged to accompany them. On Sunday, the 7th, the English fleet approached our Armada, and by the aid of wind and tide, sent seven fireships with the intention of destroying our vessels, or dislodging them from their anchorage in St. John's Roads, near Calais. They succeeded in the latter object, as our ships cut their cables and put to sea, followed by the English, who kept up an artillery fire upon them without daring to come to close quarters ; confining themselves to sending 30 or 40 ships at a time against ours, to harass them. But they found our men full of valour and resistance. The skirmishing was kept up all day on the 8th without the loss of any ship on our side. He saw many English killed and wounded, but is ignorant of their number or quality. At night the English fleet retired, and followed in the wake of the Armada for the next six or seven days, but afar off, and without any firing on either side. In this way they arrived off the Scottish frontier, at which point the informant saw the English fleet return, leaving only a small ship to spy the route taken by the Armada, and to see whether it entered any port on that coast. The informant was four days arriving in the Thames, where the Lord Admiral landed with some captains and gentlemen, but none of the soldiers or sailors were allowed to go on shore ; the intention being, it was said, to take fresh munitions and stores on board. As this Irishman was not a soldier, he was allowed to land, and on the 20th, seeing a ship about to sail for Flushing, he went on board of her. When he arrived at Flushing he entered another ship which brought him to Ostend on the 22nd. He remained there until the 26th, awaiting an opportunity of escaping. During this time the admiral of Flushing came to Ostend, and made a tour of inspection round the walls, guns, and guards ; apparently entertaining some suspicion, as he was closeted secretly several times times with the governor. This youth says that it was commonly current amongst the English that Drake had lost a leg during the fighting with the flagship of our Armada, but that this did not happen whilst he (the informant) was with the fleet, though it might have occurred after he left.
He says that what the English fear more than anything is that a junction may be effected between the forces of these States (i.e., Flanders) and those sent by his Majesty from Spain by sea for the purpose of attacking England. They think that, if for any reason, our fleet should be unable to return to this coast, it may make for the coast of Ireland and join the Irish, as our men could stay there at their ease, and await reinforcements from Spain, for the purpose of crossing to Scotland. The knowledge gained from this lad may be summarised as follows :—
That from the 6th August to the 20th none of our ships whatever have fallen into the hands of the English ; as no reference is made to the galleons "San Felipe" and "San Mateo," which were taken by the Flushing men and sunk in the harbour. That the enemy's fleet retired from following our Armada on the 14th August, and was four days at sea subsequently before arriving in England. During this period our Armada had time to go whithersoever it wished, without any impediment. That the enemy fear above all things the return of our Armada to Flanders, and, if this be impossible, that it should go to Ireland.
That the English assert that Drake has lost a leg.
It is reported from Dunkirk, under date of 30th August, that three days previously some ships had arrived at Dieppe from the fishery, reporting that six days before they had been with our Armada in the Scottish Channel. The Armada was proceeding well on the voyage, and was already nearly out of the Channel. It is also reported from the same quarter that M. de Gourdan advises that Drake's death is confirmed from Holland. There were in Dover two couriers, with despatches for the king of France, who were not allowed to pass.
It is again asserted that the Lord Admiral has returned to England with 36 ships in very bad case, no person being allowed to land. The Catholics were disturbed.
Paris Archives, K. 1448.
417. The King to Bernardino De Mendoza.
Your letters of 20th ultimo received on 1st instant, with accounts respecting the Armada. I wish they were more detailed, and authenticated, but it was well to send them in any case. Continue to report everything you hear, but indicate the amount of dependence which may be placed upon each report.
The steps you took to recover the galleass at Calais, and the galley at Bayonne, were appropriate, and the order the King sent about them is everything that could be desired. Thank him from me at the next opportunity ; but as you recently had experience of how imperfectly his orders were carried out in the ports, with regard to the reception of my ships, take care to get orders sent in such a form that they may not be disregarded.—San Lorenzo, 3rd September 1588.
Note.—In a paragraph of the above letter Mendoza is instructed to warn the duke of Guise of the danger he runs in placing himself in the power of the King. "Take care he is not deceived and that no trick is played upon him," and Philip adds, in his own hand, "Let him remember his father." From this time until his murder, Guise was being constantly warned by the Spaniards and his own friends that the King intended to have him assassinated.
418. The King to the Duke Of Medina Sidonia.
In addition to what is contained in the letter of the 31st ultimo, it occurs to me to instruct you that if my nephew the duke of Parma should consider that the presence of the Armada would be of use to him in the matter he is to undertake (the main object of the expedition not having been carried out), and the Armada be strong enough, and in a position in which it may remain without danger, you will endeavour to follow his instructions. You will be guided by his opinion, even if it should be at variance with the memoranda contained in the other despatch. In a certain very important eventuality I have ordered the Duke to write to you to this effect, but not otherwise ; and in such case you will zealously carry out his instructions.—San Lorenzo, 3rd September 1588.
Paris Archives, K. 1568.
419. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
The wind having been contrary for the arrival of news from Scotland and England I have no direct confirmation of the Calais report of 20th, of the engagement between the Armada and the English after passing through the Straits. But it is confirmed by ships arriving at Dunkirk with advices from Lille, dated 30th ultimo, and also by letters from Calais viâ Rouen, from Havre de Grâce, etc.
I enclose advices received from London, dated 21 (?) ; and an original letter given to me by a merchant, which letter is written by a Genoese. They all confirm the great damage suffered by the English fleet, and it is no bad sign of this that the Queen should have issued orders that no one should write or speak of news of the fleet, and that a woman had been flogged for talking about it. The Admiral arrived at the Downs with only 12 ships ; whilst Drake went to Harwich, which is not a port he would venture to enter with large ships.
I am informed by men who left London on the 29th ultimo that the Admiral and Drake were there, not on very good terms. The Queen had ordered them to join their ships again shortly, but the French ambassador writes to his wife here, on the 26th, that both they and the ships are so much knocked about, that, however much haste they may make, they cannot be ready to sail under three weeks. They are, he says, very short of stores, and particularly powder, and a gentleman had been sent by the Queen to Hamburg, and other maritime towns, to lay in a provision. She had also sent to request the kings of Denmark and Scotland not to shelter or provide food for any of the ships of your Majesty's Armada.
In the same letter the ambassador reports that the Armada had entered Moray Firth in Scotland ; and I hear that a secretary of the English ambassador here affirms, in great secrecy to a friend of his, that his master has letters dated 28th ultimo, from a councillor, containing the following words :—"By fresh news from Scotland we learn that the Spanish Armada has entered Moray Firth where it has been supplied with all it required."
The Armada is thus in a place which is distinguished in the descriptions by the name of Sinum Salutis ; which title, they claim, was given to it by Julius Cæsar because the port was so secure, and the Scottish ambassador, who has been there, assures me that it is extremely capacious, and can harbour any number of the largest ships. It is in the territory of the earl of Huntly, and, as most of the people are Catholics, it may be concluded that they will give all they have to your Majesty's Armada. A Fleming, who left London on the 24th, also asserts that the Armada was in a very safe port in Scotland, and that small boats were sent up the river for what stores were needed. A Scottish ship, which left Little Leith on the 27th, and has arrived at Dieppe, reports that she has sighted no ship, either Spanish or English, on the way ; but that news was current that the Armada had passed towards the Orkneys with the intention of entering port. Although the English say they left the Armada on the 12th, 50 leagues past (the border of) Scotland, on the way to Norway, that cannot be true, as they raised anchor at Calais on the 8th, and however fast a ship might be, even alone and with a fair wind, she could not go from Calais to Scotland in that time, let alone an Armada. Besides, we know that it had combats with the English on the 9th, 10th, and 11th ; and this proves their assertion to be a lie, invented to hide the fact that they were obliged to return for want of victuals and munitions, and in consequence of their being so badly damaged.
The power of the queen of England may be easily gauged by this : that her fleet was at Plymouth on the 30th July, and yet on the 12th August it was obliged to return to port to revictual. They excuse themselves for getting separated by saying they had been in a storm with very thick weather, which would also separate the Armada.
The Queen had asked the foreign merchants in London for a loan of 70,000 crowns, and the 12 London companies for one of 120,000. The universities of Oxford and Cambridge also have been asked to lend her money ; and the Queen has written to private individuals, requesting them to do the same, in the measure of their means, all persons being obliged to maintain a certain number of foot and horse for the war. The Queen did not care to admit other foreigners into her country, except those who came from Holland. Amongst them there were a number of musketeers, and some Englishmen from the Dutch garrisons.
The ship from Scotland reports that the earl of Bothwell had killed Alexander Stuart, (fn. 1) the man who had captured the earl of Morton, and affairs were consequently becoming somewhat strained.
The Huguenots have requested the English ambassador here to write to his mistress, begging her not to give up Don Pedro de Valdés, except in exchange for M. de Teligny, the son of La Noue. (fn. 2)
Although I am not so certain as I should like to be of the above news, I wish to send a special courier to report to your Majesty.
I have nothing from the duke of Parma since the 11th ultimo. I can only send your Majesty what I hear from all parts.
The queen of England had sent a patache to reconnoitre all the coast from Leith to the Orkneys, to discover traces of the Armada. Another patache was to go along the west coast from Milford to Kirkudbright and Dumbarton, and so to the Orkneys.—Paris, 4th September 1588.
420. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
As I wrote to your Majesty, I have been putting off the new confidant by giving him 1,000 crowns by instalments ; having kept back the other 1,000 your Majesty sent me, as I have noticed the last month that he has told me nothing of importance (fn. 3) Besides this, I have caught him in a false trick, namely, telling me that Guadagni had written to Escobar, Don Antonio's agent here, telling him to go to Chartres to see the King and his mother ; in order that, under the excuse of accompanying the wife of the French ambassador in England, who is going back to her husband, he might arrange with the queen of England to help Don Antonio to land in Portugal, in which case the King (of France) and his mother would do likewise.
Sampson had said nothing about this to me, and I asked him whether he had received any letters from Guadagni. He swore on his life that he had not, and I see that it is all a lying invention of the new confidant. (fn. 4) I shall treat him according to his behavour ; and shall not say anything about it until I learn whether his object in giving me the false news was to lead me astray, or to appear busy and so oblige me the more.
Whilst I was writing the above I learnt that the English ambassador here has letters dated 24th and 28th ultimo, and yet the new confidant has not said a word to me but fictions. This makes me suspect his proceedings, as I point out in the general letter about England. As the English fleet is being refitted, and fresh preparations made, (fn. 5) my service to your Majesty forces me to urge the advisability of pushing forward the Armada which was fitting out at Corunna to reinforce the duke of Medina Sidonia. If this is not done, and Medina Sidonia does not very shortly effect a junction with the duke of Parma, (fn. 6) a large number of ships will be sent out from England towards the Indies and elsewhere, to prevent your Majesty from further disturbing them. It is certain that if this King and his mother could help them they would do so. Chateauneuf writes to the King that the English were astounded when they heard that your Majesty had ordered 50 more ships to be fitted out with stores and victuals and 10,000 men, which were shortly to put to sea.
Vega writes me the letter enclosed, asking credence for the bearer, the steward of the French Ambassador, whom he sent to the duke of Parma. His report is in substance contained in Vega's letter of 21st, which I send in the general despatch.
Andrada, whose feigned name is David, has sent me, from Rouen, the report I enclose. (fn. 7) His letters say that Don Antonio is well. There is nothing more about him in any of the English advices, except that he is still in the village (i.e., Brentford), unless he has left in consequence of recent rumours.
Diego Botello writes to Sampson, saying that Don Antonio desires greatly that he should go thither (to England). Diego Botello wished to come to Rouen some months ago. If a good opportunity offers for Sampson to go to England I think it will be advisable for him to do so, as he will thus be able to get the full details of Don Antonio's plans, and how things are in England, which will be most important.—Paris, 4th September 1588.
421. Bernardino De Mendoza to Martin De Idiaquez.
The only ships of the Armada we know anything about up to this date are the following: Oquendo's ship, that of Don Pedro de Valdés, the galeass "Capitana," which went ashore at Calais, the galleon "San Felipe" at Nieuport, and the "San Mateo," which was sunk on a sand bank off Flushing, perfectly riddled with cannon shot.— Paris, 4th September 1588.
422. Count De Olivares to the King.
On the 2nd instant his Holiness was disordered in the stomach, and he told me, when I had audience on the 3rd, that he had been troubled with it all night. He hoped that he should benefit from it, but it had distressed him a great deal, and he remained seated, instead of walking about as he always does. He was feverish, and went to bed in the afternoon, which is a very unusual thing for him to do. They attribute his doing so to the fatigue he underwent in the matter referred to below, rather than to the stress of his malady. He began to recover from both evils yesterday, at four, and he was present at a short consistory held to-day. I hear since that he is better.
The vexation to which I refer was his having missed the fisherman's ring with which he seals the briefs they present to him. He carries the ring about with him in a purse, and it was discovered that he had been robbed of it by the man that serves as his cup-bearer, and is one of the two persons who aid him to dress and undress. Although the crime would be a great one in any case, it is greater when committed against his Holiness ; but it is understood that, unless the publicity of the affair should oblige him to punish the man, he will not do so, nor even dismiss him from his place, such is his affection for those who have served him since he was a cardinal, as this man has done. He has said that he would do almost anything to avoid showing to the world that his confidence has been abused.—Rome, 5th September 1588.
(O.S.?) Paris Archives, K. 1568. Italian.
423. Letter from London. (fn. 8)
(The first portion of the letter is occupied with a quantity of pretended commercial information. The writer complains bitterly of the injustice done to him in Lisbon, and deplores his unfortunate position in England. He was arrested for a debt on Saturday last, and only released on bail of two friends, to pay the amount within a week.) As I have nothing further to say, I need now only give you an account of the rumours of wars here, as I promised you in my last, and also a relation of the occurrences between the fleets. I have not hitherto had an opportunity of sending the latter, and have written in the margin of it anything I have heard since contradictory of the statements made in it. Since finishing the relation, I have only to add that, when people here had been satisfied that the Armada had gone into Scottish waters, and that the duke of Parma made no movement in Dunkirk, they disbanded the army, leaving only 6,000 men under arms, who have since been given leave to go. They have recently held reviews of the forces which had been raised by private persons for the Queen's service. The first was that of the Lord Chancellor's (fn. 9) force, which was mustered in the Queen's presence on the 19th August. After her Majesty had been entertained at dinner at the Chancellor's house, he presented to her a company of 100 men-at-arms, very well accoutred, in uniforms of red and yellow. I myself was present at this review. The next day the Lord Treasurer held a similar review, and afterwards the earl of Leicester and other gentlemen, but as I did not see these musters I will not describe them in detail. I was, however, present at the last review, which was held by the earl of Essex on the 26th, and which I am assured was the best of them all. There was a company of 60 musketeers, 60 harquebussiers on horseback, and 200 light horse. The uniforms were of orange-coloured cloth, with facings of white silk, and several of the light-horsemen had surcoats of velvet of the same colour, trimmed with silver. The review was held in a field in front of the house, and her Majesty witnessed it from a window. A joust was then held in the open field (i.e., without lists), and the earl of Essex ran two tilts against the earl of Cumberland. As they are two of the best horsemen in the country the spectators were much pleased at this. Several other gentlemen then joined, and they tilted first two against two, and then four against four ; the earl of Essex always running against the earl of Cumberland. When they had finished with the lance they drew their swords, but when her Majesty saw this she made a sign with her hand that they were to cease, but they set to and she shut the window, in order not to see them. When they ceased, after being at it for some time, the whole of the cavalry were divided into two squadrons and ran several times one squadron against the other, lowering their swords as they approached, so as not to wound. The whole of the musketeers and harquebussiers fired off their pieces at the same time. It was a beautiful sight. Then they all returned in the same order as they had entered. The standard of the harquebussiers was white, with "Hazard" on it ; that of the light horse was of red damask, with a veil worked with gold on the top, which, no doubt, was a lady's favour. The earl of Essex is General-in-Command of the cavalry in this war. He was made Grand Equerry (Master of the Horse) to the Queen a year ago, and honoured with the Order of the Garter, all of which he certainly deserves for his valour.
On Tuesday, the 20th, the Lords of the Council went to St. Paul's to give thanks to God for having rescued the realm from its recent danger ; which they admit was very great, considering the strength of the duke of Parma, added to that of Spain. They estimate the Duke's forces to number 40,000 men, and the Armada force at 30,000—sufficient to conquer all Europe, let alone a single country. It was said that the Queen would go, but she did not. The Dean made an appropriate prayer. Three days afterwards another alarm was spread that the Spanish Armada was coming back, but it was soon discovered that it was only a flotilla of fishermen, which had been sighted off Scotland and England.
Of the Armada itself all we can learn is that it has gone round the islands and returned to Spain. It is asserted that it was still in some part of Scotland or Ireland ; but I myself am of the opinion of many others, that it has gone back to Spain. They have again embargoed all merchant ships in port, which had been released, and other rumours of the sort are current, but I believe that it is for some other reason than the fear that the Armada is returning hither. I have witnessed three panics here, about the Armada. First, when the news came that it had appeared in the Channel, many people having thought that it would not come ; the second time the alarm was still greater, when it was anchored before Calais ; and the third when the rumour prevailed that it was coming back. Feeling is now more tranquil. God arrange matters as we desire! They say the duke of Parma has retired from Dunkirk, having dismissed the Governor and replaced him by M. de la Motte, who was governor of Gravelines. It was said, indeed, that the Spaniards had risen with the intention of expelling the duke of Parma and placing the duke of Pastrana in his place, (fn. 10) but this was afterwards known to be idle talk, and that there had only been some disturbance amongst the Walloons, which is believed to have been allayed. They are saying now that the English troops in Ostend have mutinied about their pay, but so many lies are afloat now-a-days that one can only believe what one sees.
On Sunday, the 25th, Mr. Controller, (fn. 11) one of the Peace Commissioners sent to Flanders was arrested, but the cause of this is not known. On the following day Lord Montague was ordered to remain under arrest in his own house, and the reason of this also I do not know, unless it be that he is a Catholic. On the same day several men were condemned for being traitors and Catholics, some of them Jesuit priests. I hear that one recanted, the others being executed last week, and also a lady who helped a priest to escape. I saw them being taken in a cart to be executed, followed by an enormous crowd of people, who were exhibiting every sign of rejoicing. A gentlewoman present said some words expressive of pity for the death of the poor creatures, and one of the two sheriffs who were going to hang them at once ordered two sergeants to arrest the lady and take her to prison. I have not heard what happened to her afterwards.
On the 27th the earl of Leicester started for the baths of Buxton, but on the way, in the house of a gentleman near Oxford, (fn. 12) it is said he supped heavily, and being troubled with distress in the stomach during the night he forced himself to vomit. This brought on a tertian fever, which increased to such an extent on the third day that on Wednesday, 4th instant, at ten o'clock in the morning, he expired. The last time I saw him was at the earl of Essex's review, at the window with the Queen. On the previous week I had seen him go all through the city, accompanied by as many gentlemen as if he were a king, and followed by his household and a troop of light horse. He was going from a country house of his (Wanstead) to St. James's, and was quite alone in his coach. He had gone through a few days before on horseback, even more splendidly accompanied, and showed every appearance of perfect health, as if he would have lived for years. For the last few months he has usually dined with the Queen, a thing, they say, such as has never been seen in this country before. He was a man of great authority and following, and his death will be much felt ; but, on the other hand, the general opinion is that the conclusion of peace will be much easier than before, as he was usually in favour of war. God decree all for His greater glory!
You will have heard what happened to the English ships that went twice to Havre de Grâce to capture a Spanish vessel there. I hear the Admiral is greatly (offended?) (fn. 13) at the behaviour of the governor of the town.
The 800 soldiers they had sent hither from the Netherlands were being sent back, I am informed, without their being paid a penny, although several payments were due to them. They thereupon mutinied, and killed the colonel and lieutenant-colonel. They are said to have fortified themselves in a castle near Sandwich, but I hear from another quarter that they have now been pacified and embarked. I hear of some disturbance in Scotland between Catholics and Protestants, but, as I have said above, there are many lies afloat.
It is publicly stated here that the Spanish prisoners confess they had orders, if they were victorious, to kill every Englishman over seven years old. They say they brought two kinds of whips (scoriati), one for men and the other for women. In order that you may not think it strange for me to write you this, I send you two printed legends that are current here, one respecting the capture of Don Pedro de Valdeé's ship, and the other about the Queen's visit to the army. I could send you a multitude of such things treating of the affairs of the fleet, and of men judged, and yet to be judged. When you have read them, and the relation about the Armada, please send them to Stefano Lercaro, with his packet. This is the reason these people are so enraged with the Spaniards. Their anger would certainly be justified if the above and other similar things were true. Signor Horatio Pallavicini tells me that he dined the other day with Don Pedro de Valdés, who, he says, is very comfortably lodged in a country house. (fn. 14) There are many of them (i.e., Spanish prisoners) in Bridewell, to whom Master Cipriano (i.e., Valera), a Sevillian, goes and preaches, and I am told he has converted several of them to this religion. In the same house (Bridewell) is a certain Don Rodrigo de Mendoza, (fn. 15) and my comrades, G. B. Giustiniano and Scipione Borzoni, of Antwerp, have obtained permission to visit him. They have provided him with some money and clothes, of which he was in great need. He was captured on the galleass.
Six prisoners are kept in the house of an English merchant, and I see them sometimes. When I tell them some of the things I have written above, they laugh at them. Amongst them is a nephew of Pedro Castillo, of Cadiz, and for his sake, and out of friendship for Santi Fantoni, his and our Italian friend, who is also at Cadiz, I would do anything in my power to help him. I have provided some money for him and his companions, although greatly to my own inconvenience. I am told the earl of Pembroke has died and they say the same of Lord St. John, but as I have not the news from a trustworthy source I do not assert it. (In a postscript he confirms the intelligence.) (I have just heard from Croce, of Paris, that my bill of 500 crowns has not been honoured. I am therefore desperate and must go to prison. Complains bitterly of the ingratitude of his "friend," for whom he has done so much. (fn. 16) )
On Monday evening a house near the French embassy and the Flemish church caught fire, and at some alarm of treason the whole city was put under arms and the chains drawn across the streets. Two houses were destroyed and others damaged. Fortunately there was no wind and it was early, about nightfall, and with diligence the fire was allayed.—London, 7th September 1588.
Paris Archives, K. 1568. Italian.
424. Relation of the Voyage of the Spanish Armada which
sailed from Lisbon against England.
The Spanish Armada left Lisbon on the 29th May (N.S.), consisting of 130 ships, large and small, (fn. 17) with four from Naples and four galleys from Portugal. It was commanded by the duke of Medina Sidonia, with 30,000 men, soldiers and sailors, and many nobles. The Armada sailed for Corunna, where it had to ship some men and stores, this being the nearest and best port from which to sail for England. On the way, however, it was dispersed by a storm, and only 80 ships arrived together at Corunna. The stay, therefore, was prolonged, and the other ships gradually came in, although several were missing, especially four galleys, three of which were wrecked off Bayonne, in France, and the fourth was only saved with great difficulty. Eight ships also become unseaworthy in the storm and bad to return to Lisbon useless.
The rest of the Armada, having refreshed and collected at Corunna, and being constantly pressed by King Philip to sail, started on its voyage on the 11th July (O.S.), and after a fair voyage reached the point of Cornwall in this country on the 19th July. The Spaniards were first discovered by one of our pinnaces of war off this point and the keeper of Falmouth Castle was at once informed thereof. Thence the news was sent to the Lord Admiral, who was at Plymouth with our fleet. (fn. 18)
The opinion in England was that the Armada would not come this year, owing to the lateness of the season and the recent storms, which had dispersed and delayed it. The Admiral had, therefore, hardly time to take some of his ships out of port and ship his men, the wind being favourable to the Spaniards, before the Armada hove in sight, not far from Plymouth ; the intention, doubtless, being to enter and take possession of the port if our fleet had not appeared. This plan being frustrated, the Armada continued its voyage up the Channel, followed by our fleet, which skirmished and harassed it Continually, (fn. 19) as it (the Armada) was sailed in close order. The next day the skirmishing was hotter, and one of our ships damaged a galleass. This threw some of the rest into disorder, and during the fighting the vice-flagship, a great galleon of Seville, broke her mainmast ; whilst a storeship caught fire and became unmanageable, when she was captured by our men. The galleon also became useless and unable to proceed, and was taken by us, with 450 men, and Don Pedro de Valdés, accompanied by two gentlemen of rank. (fn. 20) A portion of the royal treasure was also on board and fell into our hands.
When the Armada had arrived off the Isle of Wight our men (captured?) (fn. 21) daily many ships and men, (fn. 22) and in a fight that then took place, which lasted a long time, the enemy lost a great Venetian ship and some small ones. During this fight our people saw better than before that the Spaniards wished to avoid an engagement, and kept strictly on the defensive, the only design being to reach the point agreed upon. The wind was still in their favour, so that notwithstanding the delay caused by their oars, and some calms, they arrived on the evening of the 27th July—by our style—off the port of Calais, where they cast anchor, turned towards Dunkirk, from whence they expected the duke of Parma's forces.
Our fleet anchored opposite theirs, and during the night was joined by 20 more of our ships which were guarding the mouth of the Thames, and our united force then amounted to 140 sail. On Sunday, the 28th, a consultation was held as to the best way of dislodging the enemy's fleet from its position, and it was decided to send some ships with artificial fire to try to burn their ships at their anchorage, or rather to force them to raise anchors and fight. Six fireships were therefore prepared—some say there were seven— a half hour after midnight, and at the turn of the tide, and with a favourable wind, were sent as near as possible to the enemy. As soon as they were seen the alarm on the Armada was so great that all the moorings were cut, (fn. 23) and in the confusion the flagship of the four galleasses got entangled with some ships, lost her rudder, and was driven on to the banks before the harbour, where she was followed by our pinnaces and small boats, attacked and conquered. Many Spaniards fell in fight, but far more were drowned by throwing themselves into the sea. (fn. 24) Some took refuge in Calais. Don Hugo Moncada, the captain, was killed, the ship was sacked, and part of the royal treasure captured. The ship was useless, and our people would have burnt her, but the governor of Calais prevented it, and claimed the privilege of his port.
The next morning early, our ships attacked the Spaniards who, as has been related, had fled in disorder in the night. But though they were in bad order they sustained some very hot assaults, and a severe artillery fire was kept up on both sides. Our ships still kept the wind and gave every opportunity for the enemy to come out to a close engagement, but they preferred to keep off Calais and Dunkirk, and to avoid a general battle. It would not have been prudent for ours to advance and attack them whilst they were in their close order, as our ships were smaller than theirs, and would have been at a disadvantage ; but the constant assaults our men made upon them, without grappling, made them feel the effects of artillery, and directly any of their ships straggled they were surrounded by ours and taken.
This happened with two Portuguese galleons, the "San Felipe" and the "San Mateo," which were disabled and half full of water, and were captured and taken into Flushing. There were but few men on board, but they were taken with Don Diego Pimentel, Colonel of the Sicilian Regiment, and some other gentlemen of rank. Some of the royal treasure also fell into the hands of our soldiers.
A great Biscay ship, also, during this battle was separated from the rest and sunk, as were some others. (fn. 25) So that besides the galleass the enemy lost on that day five or six fine ships. In addition to this he allowed himself to be chased 10 or 12 leagues beyond Dunkirk, badly damaged by our artillery.
The next day he was chased still further. The same wind was blowing, but he never made the slightest attempt to turn back, although he was not attacked by the English.
The 31st July and 1st of August the same wind blew, but stronger, and at one o'clock the enemy hoisted all sail and fled. Although it was evident that he would not fight, our ships still followed him just out of gun-shot, fearing he might be going to Scotland. This lasted till Friday evening, 2nd August, when the fleets had arrived at the point between England and Scotland. Here the enemy's plan became evident, for he steered north, leaving the Scottish coast on his left hand, and exposing himself to the risk of a long voyage. As it was not prudent for our fleet to share these perils with him, it returned home (fn. 26) to Harwich. This proved to be a wise course, as on the 4th a great tempest arose which lasted 40 hours, the effect of which on the enemy's fleet we do not yet know, but it is probable that it has been scattered and has suffered severely. (fn. 26)
In conclusion, the enemy, without attempting anything, has, that we know of, lost 11 or 12 of his best ships, and 4,000 or 5,000 men, as well as a part of the King's treasure. The prisoners all declare that they were reduced to the greatest straits—without a drop of fresh water, or any victuals, and with great numbers of sick. It is highly probable that very few of the ships will ever find their way back to Spain. (fn. 27)
Note.—The above relation sent by Messia, the Genoese spy in London, was probably translated by him from an English account, the marginal notes being his own.
Paris Archives, K. 1568.
425. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
The news I have of the Armada are as follows :—
Letters from Scotland, dated 18th and 19th (O.S.), and from London, 28th and 29th. The letter of the 18th says that preparations were being made in consequence of your Majesty's Armada having been sighted 15 days before, 20 miles from the Scottish coast. Scotland was in arms in consequence of the report that your Majesty's forces were to land in the direction of the Orkneys. The letter of the 19th says that a ship from St. Andrews had arrived at Little Leith, reporting that it had sighted the Armada—86 ships, all large—on the 10th or 11th (that is to say 20th or 21st August, according to our style), between Orkney and Shetland. The Armada was steering by the compass towards the North, tending rather towards Norway than to return to Spain. They were in need of nothing but water, which they thought they had obtained in the Orkneys. The weather has been such that, if the Armada has set its course for Spain, it must now be far on its way. Colonel Semple had again been imprisoned in the house of a burgess of Edinburgh. From London they again confirm that the Armada was in Moray Firth, as I advised in previous letters ; but if these Scottish advices be true, as they appear to be, the Armada cannot be in Scotland, as they say nothing about it.—Paris, 8th September 1588.