Simancas: March 1587, 21-31

Pages 43-59

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

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March 1587, 21-31

24 March.
Estado, 949.
43. Count de Olivares to Bernardino de Mendoza.
At every turn there are Cardinals here so blind as to imagine that it is possible to convert the king of Scotland, and as Cardinal Mondovi (fn. 1) had taken this into his head he wished to send thither a Carthusian friar who was formerly bishop of Dunblane, of whom you probably know something. He seems to be a man of good life, but I consider him but little fitted for the task. I pointed out to the Cardinal how much more difficult it is than he thinks, and the many evils that may possibly result, and he seemed to agree with me. I have, however, since seen indications that he perseveres in the idea and it may be that the Bishop will still be sent. If he should go through that city (Paris) he will be sure to stay at the house of the bishop of Glasgow, and it would be advisable for you to be on the look out, to advise me of what you may manage to discover, so that I may thoroughly see through the Cardinal's proceedings. Try also to get the bishop of Glasgow to smile on our King's side, and to persuade him that by this means alone can all be brought right, and the Catholic religion established in those realms.—Rome, 24th March 1587.
25 March.
Paris Archives, K. 1566. 77.
44. Nicholas Wendon to the King.
Sets forth that he was archdeacon of Suffolk and a doctor of the High Court of Chancery in England, and became an exile from this country on account of his being a Catholic. He became provost of St. Gery at Cambrai, but five years afterwards he was expelled by the rebels and his benefice confiscated because of his loyalty to the King (Philip). Through the efforts of Mendoza and Tassis the duke of Parma granted him a living allowance, but it has never been paid. Prays the King to allow the pension to be paid to him here in Paris (where he has lived for the last six years) in the same way that the pensions of other English gentlemen are paid. He is in great and urgent need.—Paris, 25th March 1587.
Nicholas Wendon,
Provost of St. Gery, Cambray.
26 March.
Paris Archives, K. 1566. 78c.
45. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
The guards of this place (Paris) seeing the English ambassador, diguised, crossing the bridge of Notre Dame at midnight on the 20th, stopped him, and he was obliged to disclose his identity and whence he was coming. He said he had been visiting at the house of a gentleman, but this was discovered to be untrue, and the King was informed of it the same night. He expressed regret that the ambassador should have been detained on the bridge, instead of being allowed to pass ; but they say that the King knew very well where he was coming from.
The King has sent Rougier, his valet de chambre, who came from England, to the prince of Bearn, for the purpose of giving him an account of the cruelty with which the queen of Scotland was beheaded, and the indignities committed against his ambassador in England. It may well be concluded that there will be something else in the letters besides this.—26th March 1587.
26 March.
Paris Archives, K. 1566. 78.
46. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
The archbishop of Nazareth died on the 16th of fever ; a very heavy loss for religion and your Majesty's service. I have written to the Count de Olivares (ambassador in Rome) the importance of the new Nuncio being equally able to influence this King (i.e., of France) or it will be difficult to keep him firm in the defence of Catholicism and the extirpation of the heretics.
M. de Belièvre made no new alliance with England, nor did he draw any closer the relations already existing, but I hear from a good source, confirmed by the new confidant, that his lukewarmness, particularly about the queen of Scotland, and the wishes he expressed from the King that the queen of England would use her good offices to bring about peace (i.e., with the Huguenots), emboldened her to lay hands on the queen of Scotland. People here, generally, are so indignant about it that they say that if the King neglects to avenge so tyrannous an act, they will be glad to go and serve your Majesty in the event of your undertaking the enterprise. Not only the preachers here, but the people at large display a great hatred of the queen of England, and a multitude of verses have been published against her. (fn. 2) The King and Queen were in a little pew, disguised, at the obsequies of the queen of Scotland, but did not show themselves publicly, as they say it is not customary for the king of France to be present at obsequies. The bishop of Bourges, a great lawyer, preached the sermon, and he proved from the tenour of the sentence pronounced by Parliament that the Queen had been executed directly in consequence of her Catholic faith. He also affirmed that she had received the Holy Sacrament the same night, by virtue of the dispensation she had from his Holiness to have it always with her. He did not say she had a priest by her side, to avoid the danger such a man might run, as he and the rest of the servants were still in the power of the queen of England. I understood she did have a priest with her in the guise of a valet de chambre. He also praised the house of Guise as the defenders of the Catholic faith, and said they were the religious Scipios of France. I have published your Majesty's rights to the crown of England through your adherents here, whom I have assured it will be to their advantage, as it will restrain the queen of England and prevent her from rushing to extremes. It will, doubtless, do so, for in the harangue which Belièvre presented to her in writing he uses it as his strongest argument.—Paris, 26th March 1587.
26 Mar.
Paris Archives, K. 1566. 81.
47. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
Robert Bruce has come to me to say that he was going to see Muzio (the duke of Guise) to ask him, at all events, to write something to Scotland as occasion now offered ; and I have told him to write to the Scottish lords in the sense contained in your Majesty's dispatch of 28th January, in order to keep them in hand and prevent them taking premature action, or losing courage. I told him also to inform Muzio, so that he might write to the same effect. The execution of the queen of Scotland makes it more necessary than ever that they should be encouraged to bring the country to submission to the faith. Robert Bruce assures me that the three lords (fn. 3) were so determined about this, that before he left they discussed it with him many times, and said that if the queen of Scotland died, and her son refused to be converted, they would be the first to upset him, as their intention was, if possible, to bring both King and country to the faith, which they thought was only possible with the aid of your Majesty. As they felt sure of obtaining this, sooner or later, they would do their best to hold out until the time came. On Bruce mentioning to me that there was a great lack of grain in Scotland I took the opportunity of saying, that even if affairs in Flanders allowed your Majesty to send the desired contingent of men at once (which, however, could not be got together in a day) this dearth of grain in Scotland would render further delay necessary. In addition to this I said it was desirable to see what position the king of Scotland would assume towards England consequent on his mother's death. Bruce was convinced by these arguments and will convey them to Muzio.
Bruce's last letters report that the lords of the English faction have publicly advocated a breach with England if the Queen laid hands on the King's mother ; but they were secretly dealing with the ministers of the towns of Edinburgh, Dundee, and St. John's, (fn. 4) which are the most important places in the country, to get them to refuse to assist the King if he breaks with the queen of England, and they had done so. This had much grieved the King, and the Catholic lords, when they heard of it, had assured him that they would support him, and the earl of Morton alone had offered him 10,000 men to take him as far as London ; but they told him he must give them liberty of conscience and the free exercise of the Catholic religion. This the King had secretly promised them in case of his breaking with England, or of the Catholics being strong strong enough to overcome the English faction in Scotland. They were delighted with the latter point. I thought best not to open out to them about dissembling with the queen of England, as there is no necessity for this unless they are forced by circumstances. I have therefore written to the duke of Parma that this point is at present impracticable, as the death of the queen of Scotland will of course make the queen of England doubly suspicious of these Catholics. They desire that when your Majesty resolves to help them, they should be informed thereof by the duke of Guise or myself, as it was better they thought for Bruce to stay here for the purpose of going and telling them when the time had arrived for them to make ready, (fn. 5)
The new confidant wishes to have an interview with me, and as soon as a certain person leaves his house I will give him the 2,000 crowns which your Majesty has been pleased to grant him. (fn. 6) I have also thanked the third party. (fn. 7)
Raleigh would not let his nephew go about the release of Pedro Sarmiento, in order to avoid arousing the suspicions of the Queen to a greater extent than his enemies have already done for allowing him to leave England at all. I told him as well as I could what should be whispered to his uncle, but I am afraid he will not be able to come back hither very soon, in consequence of these detentions. (fn. 8)
I gave a passport for the captain of Brille (fn. 9) to go with another captain to see the duke of Parma, so that no more time should be lost than has already been through the closing of the English ports. They had to stay in England much longer than was expected. They say the enterprise (i.e., the betrayal of Brille) becomes easier every day in consequence of the growing discontent of the people with the English.
The King (of France) has written orders to his ambassador in Rome to ask the Pope in his name to use his influence (i.e., that of his Holiness) to induce your Majesty to join with him (the Pope) and the other Christian princes for the English enterprise. I have informed the count de Olivares of this, but seeing his (the king of France's) lukewarmness in extirpating heresy in this country, it may be concluded that the object is to lull Catholics here and gain time, whilst preventing your Majesty from attempting anything in England in the meanwhile. He has also sent M. de Frejus, the brother of Cardinal Rambouillet to Rome, and this is to be one of the principal points of his mission.
I hear from a good source that Secretary Villeroy is making great efforts to ascertain when Waad, the queen of England's envoy, is to depart, the object being to frighten him, as the King is much displeased with his conduct.—Paris, 26th March 1587.
28 March.
Paris Archives, K. 1266. 82.
48. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
The valet de chambre sent by their King to the queen of England has returned, and says that the ambassador was free. The Queen would not receive him (the valet) until after the execution of the queen of Scotland. The queen of England signified to him her great desire to be friendly with France, and the valet is publishing this here. As ships now do not venture to go from one country to the other without a special passport assuring them against arrest we get letters very rarely.
An Italian merchant, well known to me as a trustworthy man, who left London on the 11th, tells me that the merchantships they are equipping reach the number of 15 ; the largest being of about 200 tons burden, and most of the rest 120 to 150 tons. They will carry about 800 seamen and no soldiers, and are victualled for four months. The merchant saw eight out of the 15 ships drop down the river to Gravesend, ready to sail, and they were to be joined by the others which were being got ready with furious haste. With fine weather they will all be ready to sail by the middle of next month.
The merchants pressed the Queen to let them have three or four of her ships to go with them, but no decision had been arrived at on that point, although Lord Admiral Howard had gone personally to Rochester to hasten the sailing of eight of the Queen's ships, of which the greater number were to guard the channel against the captures being made there by the armed vessels from Dunkirk. No Commander had yet heen appointed to this fleet, but Drake was in such bad odour with seamen generally, owing to his treatment of them after his last voyage, that it was not thought that he would go with this expedition, which the merchants say is bound for the coast of Brazil.
Don Antonio was very dissatisfied, and Dr. Lopez, who is a great friend of my informant's, told him on the day he left, the 11th, that Don Antonio was in despair of the Queen's giving him help to undertake any enterprise himself, and was almost starving. I hear the same from other quarters, and Sampson's advices confirm the truth of it. I cannot hear of any armed ships being ready in Holland to join this English expedition.
The queen of England had Secretary Davison arrested for having issued the warrant for the execution of the queen of Scotland, and Parliament was pressing her to release him, having presented a petition signed by all the members, saying they would not vote any of the supplies requested until he was liberated. In view of this the Queen ordered that Davison, although still under arrest, should have more freedom than before. Cecil, the lord-treasurer, said publicly that he was opposed to the execution, and on this and all other points feeling was running very high in the Council, Cecil and Leicester being open opponents. The Queen had ordered the hasty levy of men for Ireland, in the fear that your Majesty may send thither Colonel Stanley, who surrendered Deventer, and is very popular in Ireland.
After the execution of the queen of Scotland the queen of England sent a gentleman named Knollys to inform the king of Scotland of what had happened. When the King heard that he was at Berwick, requesting a passport, he sent him word to return, as he would not see him.—Paris, 26th March 1587.
26 March.
Paris Archives, K. 1566. 83.
49. Bernardino De Mendoza to Secretary Idiaquez.
Complains bitterly that the landlord of the house he occupies is turning him out, and after having arranged to take three other houses in succession, the landlords, when they learnt that he was to be the tenant, refused in each case to let their houses to a Spanish ambassador for fear the King might think they belonged to the League. Has complained to the King (of France), and begged to be allowed to obtain a lodging somewhere on payment, but nothing is done. He has received peremptory notice to leave his house in a week, and will soon be roofless unless something be done. It is a matter which touches the dignity of the King (of Spain).
Encloses another petition from Dr. Nicholas Wendon in case a former one was lost. He is a great jurisconsult, and of the greatest service in matter relating to limits and abbacies. Any other lawyer the writer employed would have to be paid much more than the pension prayed for by Dr. Wendon, who has sacrificed everything— home, a honourable and high position in his own country—all for the Catholic religion, and is quite penniless. Prays Idiaquez earnestly to move the King to grant Wendon's petition. Encloses verses on Queen Elizabeth.—Paris, 26th March 1587.
26 March.
Paris Archives, K. 1566. 80.
50. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
(In a long account of a secret interview between the writer and the duke de Mayenne on behalf of his brother, the duke de Guise, to discuss the steps to be adopted and arguments used to prevent the King and Queen-mother from coming to terms with the Huguenots, the following passages appear) :—
"He had an extremely good answer for the King on the last point, of England. He would endeavour to lull them to sleep about it, by saying that the conversion of the country was naturally desired for common humanity's sake, and he and his brother were especially moved thereto by a desire to avenge the cruelty exercised upon their near kinswoman, the queen of Scotland." The affair is thus presented as a private one concerning the blood relatives of the queen of Scotland, whilst the Catholic cause and the extirpation of heresy here (in France), to which they (the Guises) were pledged, was presented as a sacred duty to God, which of course would come before the satisfaction of a private vengeance. They could not hope to prosper in the latter if they postponed the former for it, and consequently they must forget their private wrong until the greater one was redressed, in which, moreover, their personal interests also were great, because the security of the persons, families, and property depended upon there being no heretics in this country. They had a proof of this in what the Englishwoman had done to their cousin, and they must expect the same fate if a heretic succeeded to the crown of France.
I also warned him (Mayenne) that, if this King tried to persuade him that it would be good to assist the king of Scotland in his English claims, on the promise of his conversion and marriage with a daughter of the house of Lorraine, how disadvantageous it would be to listen to such an idea unless the king of Scotland was entirely converted, because it would give this King an opportunity of saying that the reason they had taken up arms, ostensibly to prevent a heretic from succeeding to the French Crown, was simply a personal one, since they, moved by a similar ambition, were ready enough to help another heretic to the crown of England. I was thus able to keep him from deviating from the devotion they profess to your Majesty, and from opposing your Majesty's right to the English crown. My new confidant assures me that the queen of England has already disbursed the 100,000 crowns through the person whose name I mentioned in the general letter, from whom the intelligence comes. He also confirms the equipping of the merchantmen I speak of in the English letter.—Paris, 26th March 1587.
March 26.
Paris Archives, K. 1566. 84.
51. Bernardino De Mendoza to Secretary Idiaquez.
I see by your letter of 28th January what you say about the Portuguese (i.e., Antonio de Vega). When things are not seriously to be taken up I do not care to trouble about them, but I will repeat to you what Montesinos told me, namely, that Antonio de Vega wished to gain over Dr. Lopez to purge the friend (as he is in the habit of doing every fortnight) with Indian-acacia (canafistola), but he had not ventured to speak plainly to him about it, but only by hints. I chatted with him (Montesinos) about the matter, in order to sound him as to whether any of them there (in England) would have the courage to do it, either by this means or any other ; but I could get nothing solid to go upon. He mentioned that when His Majesty wished to have all of Don Antonio's servants poisoned, it could be done by sending some stuff to his brother, who would put it into the beer when they were bringing it up for dinner. As they all partook of the beer they would all be got rid of. I asked him whether the friend (i.e., Don Antonio) would have any of it. He replied no, as his drink was kept separate and it would be difficult to administer anything to him in it. You may be sure that from the moment I heard that they began to bargain about payment, and knew that no scruples of conscience stood in the way, I lost no time in setting about getting the business done. Two Englishmen are busy in the matter now, and they say that as Don Antonio frequently visits a countess who lives near the village where he is they will find some opportunity of giving him a mouthful. I am also expecting another Englishman, who is a man of resolution and has been summoned for me by Charles Arundell. I will ask him whether he is willing to join two other men in upsetting Don Antonio on one of his visits to Court, either in a coach or by boat, and then escape to London or its neighbourhood, where I will find safe hiding-places for them.
A cousin of the captain from Brille, who is a favourite of Cecil's, wrote me a letter of credence for the captain, who said that if he were sure of getting recompense, either for himself or his heirs, he would undertake to do it. The countersign which was to indicate that the captain had conveyed the message, and that a reward would be given when the deed was done, was to be simply my signature. I replied that I had heard his cousin and would give him the reply verbally. You may judge by this that I am not so scrupulous in the matter as to need further spurring ; but in order to avoid shouting before any good is done, I have not written to you about it, as the people who treat of the matter always want money to begin with, and it is easy for them afterwards to make excuses.— Paris, 26th March 1587.
27 March.
Estado, 949.
52. Count de Olivares to the King.
On the 24th instant arrived here the news of the death of the queen of Scotland, and on the same day I saw Carrafa with the object of trying to get better terms with regard to the cash and advance-subsidy, and to forward Allen's promotion. I tried to persuade him to go to the Pope, and say from me that I condoled with him on the event, about which in your Majesty's name I had nothing to say, but in my own capacity, as a zealous follower of his Holiness, I wished to remind him of four points (not only two, as they would have liked), without trying to force them upon him further than their own reasonableness would dictate. First, that, although it was not usual for Popes to celebrate funeral services for Queens, the present case imposed upon the Vicar of Christ the obligation of making a special demonstration of sorrow. Second, that in the next consistory after the obsequies he should make Allen a Cardinal, and declare a jubilee so that all people might pray to God to remedy the afflictions of the English Catholics, and restore the faith in their country. Fourth (sic), that he should decide to make up the deficiency your Majesty would suffer from the nonarrival of the Indian flotillas, by a loan on sufficient security, and order me to dispatch a courier to your Majesty to advise you of this, and to help you to shorten the delay in the execution of the enterprise.
Carrafa was much pleased at all this, and agreed to go to the Pope. The next day, however, being Holy Wednesday, he postponed it, as he thought it would not be a good time to find the Pope in a favourable temper. He therefore decided to go on Holy Saturday when the Halleluja was sung.
On the same day I saw signs that, notwithstanding what he had said to me, Mondovi was still persisting in the sending of that bishop of Dunblane to convert the king of Scotland ; and in addition to the dangers of allowing this idea to take root, I saw that the queen of Scotland's death might open the door for the Venetians and others, who are anxious about this, to urge the matter upon the Pope. I thought, therefore, best to take some sort of precaution, and having recommended the question in prayer to our Lord, and thought over it deeply, I resolved, although against my own will, but as the least of a choice of evils, to see Carrafa about it ; which I did on the 25th, with the following result.
I began by stating the greatness of the business, and the importance of secresy. I said I ventured to speak to him about it without any fear of your Majesty's displeasure, as I well knew the great confidence you reposed in him, and that two especial qualities of his had gained my own complete confidence ; namely, that he was not one of the political (fn. 10) Cardinals (which is the name he himself applies to some of them), and, secondly, that he had been born as much your Majesty's subject as I had, (fn. 11) and, consequently, as much bound to serve you in all things, compatible with the interests of God and the Apostolic See. I said that I had discovered that one of those Cardinals he called "political," was trying to persuade the Pope that it would be desirable to endeavour to convert the king of Scotland. I said that, if it was a good work to convert an ordinary man, it was even better to save the soul of a King, whose example so many others followed, but that, on the other hand, there was nothing so bad as the false conversion of a King ; giving him the reasons for this, at length. When your Majesty, I said, had given up hope, it was quite useless to think of trying to convert this lad, and I pointed out the great danger of both crowns being united under him. I entered into arguments also to prove that, if even the conversion were sincere it would not cure the evil in the case of nations which had gone so far astray ; and I warned him, in case the Pope should mention it, but not otherwise, that your Majesty was not in favour of it, as you were fully alive to the universal injury that had been caused to the church and your own interests by the false conversion of the present queen of England, who had succeeded and been crowned as a Catholic, and that your Majesty had consequently never countenanced, or consented to undertake this enterprise, until you had been assured in effect by the Pope that he would deprive the king of Scotland, and invest the Crown of England in the person to be nominated by your Majesty. I said this was quite reasonable, because as your Majesty was spending so much you wished affairs to be so settled that, so far as human effort could prevent it, religion should not again be ruined there ; this being your principal motive, and also that you should not be troubled again with such evil neighbours. I then went on to say that I was not sure now whether your Majesty would be satisfied with this, and reminded him of what he had said to me some time ago with respect to the queen of Scotland's will, and the remarks he had made respecting your Majesty's right. I affirmed that it was absolutely clear and undoubted, and urged it verbally as strongly as possible, refusing, however, to show him the copy of the queen of Scotland's letter to Don Bernardino (de Mendoza), in order that he might not see that I had been forewarned about the matter. I proceeded by saying that, notwithstanding all this, your Majesty's piety and religious zeal were so great, that much might be expected of them if you were allowed to exercise them. There were many reasons which might be employed to influence you, such as the advisability, in the interests of religion, that the King (of England) should be resident there, and I said this was the line the Pope had better take if he had anything in view ; and not the other, which would be more worthy of a profane and impious man than a Pope.
During the conversation that accompanied all this, Carrafa was quite agreed as to the exclusion of the king of Scotland, and that the Pope could not refuse it, by the terms of the document of 24th February (1586) which we consulted, it being in his possession. He remained in the hope (which was sufficient) that your Majesty would be persuadable to allow a separate King there (in England), but he was not so sanguine that your Majesty need hesitate to stand out before you concede what he has hitherto signified would satisfy them on this point, and something further that I have thought would be advisable. In speaking of your Majesty's zeal for religion, upon which I placed particular stress, he added some arguments showing the extreme difficulty your Majesty would have in keeping the country to the faith by any other means than that which they desire (i.e., the maintenance of James or some other Catholic resident King), to which I replied that, although I did not admit as much, yet they were appropriate for inducing the Pope to adopt this course of persuading your Majesty, and to abandon the other (i.e., of the conversion of James).
Carrafa asked me to show him what documents I had proving your Majesty's claims, as he wished to be enlightened on the subject, which had only recently been brought forward. I said that not more than a year ago the light had come from the country itself by way of Portugal, which took his fancy much, and he was very agreeable to everything. We agreed that he should not say anything to the Pope about these new negotiations, for fear of his want of secrecy ; and if his Holiness himself began it, he should be advised not to stir up the question until your Majesty had first broached it. He was to be kept firmly to this, and time would show what would be the best course to take subsequently.
I am satisfied so far, seeing the state of feeling here and the character of the Pope, that I have avoided discussing the question of the succession with him, in accordance with your Majesty's orders, and also that I have warned Carrafa to the effect I have related. When I am obliged to take action in your Majesty's name without your orders, or to refrain from following instructions, I am always so careful that, as your Majesty knows my zeal in your service, and that my motive is good, you will approve of my action, however it may turn out. My only fear is that out of your excessive kindness your Majesty may sometimes fail to reprehend me ; not in respect of the success that may be attained, because that is in the hands of God, but in respect of my wrong or mistaken courses. As my aim is only to serve your Majesty successfully, all due admonition tending thereby would be esteemed by me as the greatest favour.
Whenever I may be addressed on this question of the succession I propose to say, that I have no instructions from your Majesty yet to write about the matter.
Allen and Melino have conferred with me as to how they are to behave, as, in the doubt with regard to what they should reply and write about the death (of the queen of Scots), they had refrained from replying to the letters they had received. It was decided that they were to say to anyone here who might speak to them about the matter, that it was no concern of theirs, that their great object was the conversion of the country, and they did not trouble themselves about anything beyond that. If God bestows that mercy upon them they will praise Him for it. They are not to go any further than this. The English Catholics, who in their despair at the death of the queen of Scots, may write to them on the subject, should, it is thought, be told to rest all their hopes upon your Majesty, from whom alone can the conversion of the country be expected.
What Don Bernardino de Mendoza wrote to your Majesty, about the Venetian ambassador in France being the man who was representing to the Pope the advisability of a reconciliation with Vendome, (fn. 12) fully confirms the suspicion I conveyed to your Majesty that these Venetians were the most anxious of any of the Pope's councillors to urge him to prefer these false conveniences of state to all other considerations, and this, with the other reasons I gave, made me doubtful of the Pope in the matter of the succession.
Allen and Melino still insist on the need for arranging things in Scotland so that the Queen (of England) shall be kept uneasy, or at all events that the Scots shall be prevented from joining her when the enterprise is effected. They represent that Claud Hamilton, the Earl of Huntly, and Morton are still disposed to bind themselves, for a small sum of money, as they offered to do last year, through the rector of the English College here, to deliver the King into your Majesty's hands in Spain. I have not spoken of the idea that it would be advisable to give the crown to Claud Hamilton, who is the legitimate heir to it, failing the King and two heretic brothers of Hamilton's. Although I have not spoken clearly to them about it, I understand that the two others I mention, who are very great personages, and all other Catholics in the country, would very willingly accept him as King. This would be an advantage as it would do away with all fear on that side, and, indeed, help would most likely be forthcoming in their own interests. The same blow that deprived the king of Scotland of his crown would assure the deprivation also of the Crown of England, as its possessor might be disturbed at any moment on the side of Scotland, and the realm given to a more fitting person. This design would be most easily carried out at the present time, things being in such an unsettled condition, and the encouragement which would be felt by Claud Hamilton and his friends, when they saw that your Majesty was not seeking Scotland for yourself, would lead to the impression that you would not have claimed England unless you had a just right to it. The only thing against this is that probably the duke of Guise would be offended at it, as he will no doubt have heard something of it when it was mooted last year.
Carrafa has told me that a nephew of Cardinal de la Torre, a Venetian, who has just come back from taking the hat to Lignamont, says that no doubt exists in France that your Majesty will undertake the English enterprise this year, and they are equally sure that France cannot stand in the way of its success, seeing the recent disturbances in Paris and Lyons.—Rome, 27th March 1587.
30 March.
Estado, 949. Latin.
53. William Allen to the King.
The death of the queen of Scots makes them redouble their entreaties that he will take pity upon them and help them, punishing the impious shedders of the innocent blood of a crowned Queen and violators of the rights of nations.
Urges him to assert his just claims as next heir in blood, heretics being disqualified to succeed, and denounces the Queen (of England) in violent language as an impious traitress and usurper. Begs the King to come to the aid of the afflicted Christians and free the Church of Christ.—Rome, 30th March 1587.
30 March.
Estado, 949.
54. Count de Olivares to the King.
With reference to the message which Cardinal Carrafa had agreed to convey to the Pope from me, his Holiness will not consent to celebrate the exequies for the queen of Scotland, being in doubt as to whether she died a good Catholic, as she recommended her son to the queen of England. He also refuses to grant a jubilee until the enterprise is ready. He will only promise to effect the elevation of Allen in due time. I cannot understand what course the Pope will adopt respecting the succession, and it will be for your Majesty to decide whether the enterprise is to proceed with such a point unsettled.—Rome, 30th March 1587.
Estado, 949. 55. Document headed "Instructions given to Dr. Allen as to the Answers he is to give to his Holiness' Questions."
He is to banish his Holiness' suspicions, which he has conceived from evil reports, that the queen of Scotland did not die a very good Catholic ; he having been told that she recommended her son very warmly to maintain his friendship and dependence upon the queen of England. The statement is entirely false, and there are many reasons for presuming that she died, not a Catholic alone, but a holy martyr.
2. He is to take a good opportunity to convey to the Pope the common report, on good foundation, to the effect that the efforts made by the king of France to save the life of the queen of Scotland, were merely feigned, or else very lukewarm, and the queen of England had an understanding with the king of France.
3. That the queen of Scotland quite recognised the obstinacy of her son in his heresy, and entertained but small hope of his conversion ; and it is more doubtful now than ever, notwithstanding all that may be said to the contrary.
4. If his Holiness, speaking of the enterprise, should say that help may be expected from the king of France, or that the latter would, at all events, not obstruct it, Allen will tell him that his Holiness should on no account put any trust in Frenchmen, seeing the evident agreement that exists between them and the queen of England, of which so many indications are seen, especially the recent death of the queen of Scotland ; and also by reason of the French emulation with his Holiness, and the suspicion which will be engendered in the English Catholics, besides the natural and ancient enmity between the two countries.
5. If his Holiness touches on the question of the succession, Allen will say that Catholics have very frequently raised this point, in case of the death of the queen of Scotland, they having become quite convinced of the hopelessness of the conversion of her son, but they have avoided all disputes about it, trusting in God's providence and the paternal care of his Holiness. The goodwill your Majesty has always shown them by risking so much for the conversion of their country also aids them in the belief that care will be taken, after the enterprise is effected, to adopt the best course for preventing the country from again falling into the hands of the heretics, this being the principal object of the Catholics.
6. If it be necessary to enter into particulars, the general opinion of Catholics for some time past has been that the succession of right belongs to his Majesty through the Portuguese line, as well as through that of Castile, although they have not heard that his Majesty has expressed any such idea himself. The Catholics, however, have always held that opinion in view, in case of the death of the queen of Scotland, but have considered it the wisest course to say nothing about it ; because although, on the one hand it might have the effect of encouraging his Majesty to undertake the enterprise with greater warmth, on the other hand it would arouse the opposition of his rivals, who might unite for the purpose of aiding the heretics and frustrating it. The heretics have their eyes fixed on the king of Scotland, the earl of Huntingdon, and the king of Denmark, who are so powerful that, if they are forewarned, they may seize the Crown, in which case they would be much more difficult to oust than the Queen.
7. It is for every reason most desirable that this point should not be debated until, with God's help, the enterprise shall have been effected ; and there is no doubt in their minds (i.e., the English Catholics) that his Holiness and his Majesty will then easily come to an understanding.
8. If his Holiness mentions Scotland, Allen must tell him that it will be expedient for the good of Christianity, as the King is a heretic, that some decision should be arrived at between his Holiness and his Majesty for the reformation of that realm, either at the same time as the English enterprise is effected or afterwards.
9. If he asks about the abbacy of St. Lawrence of Capua, Allen will say that he has sent powers to take possession of it ; and that he fully recognises how much the Pope has influenced his Majesty to grant him this favour (fn. 13) —Rome, March 1587.
March 31.
Paris Archives, K. 1448. III.
56. The King to Bernardino de Mendoza.
You did well to speak to the king (of France) about Pedro Sarmiento's imprisonment. I hope the steps you took for the two Englishmen to go and speak to the prince of Bearn about it have been successful. I approve of your having helped them with the 100 crowns you gave them. L'Onglé (the French ambassador in Madrid) has said here that they would let him (Sarmiento) go for 2,000 crowns, but until we get news from you we do not believe this.
It will be well to try and preserve the man who sent the two Englishmen if possible, and confirm him in the intention he expresses to impede the English armaments. (fn. 14) But, as for his sending for sale at Lisbon the two ships he mentions, that is out of the question ; in the first place, to avoid his being looked upon with suspicion in his own country, in consequence of his being well treated whilst all his countrymen are persecuted ; and secondly, to guard ourselves against the coming of the ships under this pretext being a feint or trick upon us—which is far from being improbable—but you need only mention the first reason to him, and so stop their being sent.
It was easy to see that the mutual seizures of French and English ships would go no further than show. Perhaps even the charges they brought against Chateauneuf were largely invented for the purpose of enabling them to do what they have done to the queen of Scotland.
It is most important for you to discover the truth and particulars with regard to the English fleet, which you say is to sail with 12,000 men, the time it is expected to sail, and its destination. If you cannot discover this, find out the sort of men that are going, their numbers and nationality, whether there are any foreigners or are all Englishmen, whether the men from Holland will be sent in the fleet, the length of time for which the latter is victualled, and all other particulars, especially the time of sailing. Send by express anything of importance.—San Lorenzo, 31st March 1587.
March 31.
Paris Archives, K. 1448. 113.
57. The King to Bernardino de Mendoza.
I have been deeply hurt by the death of the queen of Scotland, of which I learn by yours of 28th February. It is very fine for the queen of England now to want to give out that it was done without her wish, the contrary being so clearly the case. It will be well to convey to the Scots ambassador my sorrow at the event, and that I would send to condole with his King, and again offer him my friendship and the goodwill I always bore to his mother, only that I wish to avoid arousing suspicions which might harm him with his enemies. In order not to bring this trouble to him, I have availed myself of his (the ambassador's) mediation, and request him to write to the King telling him how pained I have been at the event and saying that, although I hope that God will not fail to punish such an outrage, yet as they who committed it are capable of trying to bring other evils upon the King, as to the extent of their ability they have hitherto done, I wish him to know that in case of need he will receive from me all the aid he may require. You can then, as if of your own action, lead the ambassador to press upon them (the Scots) how much stronger and more effectual a support I should be than the king of France, using such arguments as will occur to you. You will arouse his suspicions of England and point out how small is the hope that they (the Scots) can extricate themselves by means of the French. Above all do not neglect the most important point of all in the interests of our Lord ; namely, that if the king will become a Catholic he will not only have God's help, but he shall also receive from me all the aid and support he may desire.
You will open the matter thus, and afterwards proceed in the same course, reporting everything to me.
When you think sufficient time has elapsed for the news to have become known here, without the means by which it reached you being suspected, you will, in my name, condole with the king of France ; and say I have been so deeply grieved because the queen of Scotland was so fervent a Catholic and a close connection of his, as well as because of the great and unexampled injustice of thus proceeding towards a sovereign princess not subject to anyone but God. You will stop at this and go no further from which he (the king of France) may draw any inference. Let me know what he says, and everything you can learn. It occurs to me that it will be well to inform the Scots ambassador of what is done ; gain him over, and become very confidential with him.
You will also take fitting steps to condole with Muzio (the duke of Guise).
As this event may change the aspect of Scotch affairs, and the three Catholic earls may be unable to maintain their dissimulation, I have decided to accede to their request for the money, and will give them the 150,000 crowns three or four months after they have taken up arms and liberated their King ; this being what they requested of me, on the understanding that they would be able to effect their intentions and obtain the necessary funds from their estates if I would undertake to reimburse them subsequently to the extent named. You may inform Robert Bruce of this in my name, in case they should be able to carry out their plan without the 6,000 foreign foot soldiers, which cannot at present be provided for them. As the money will have to be taken from the sums provided for Flanders, it will be well to consult the duke of Parma as to the best time for the earls to rise, unless they should be forced to anticipate it, on which point and all others Bruce must be well posted. Muzio, also, through whom the affair was proposed to us last year, should be informed. If you understand that Bruce should go and speak to his King, and will have an opportunity of conveying to him a message from you, you may, as if of your own motion, say the same to him as to the ambassador, that he may repeat it to the King. To the three earls he will say that if they desire to win and maintain the positions to which they aspire, they being Catholics, they should use every effort to convert the King, that being the course which you think will ensure them my support to such an extent that no one shall be able to overturn them. You will not lose sight of the offer they made to give me a port in Scotland, in case we should want to attack England on that side. You will, with all secresy, inform yourself of its capabilities and accommodation, and report all to me. The man who gave you the news of the queen of Scotland's death managed it well, (fn. 15) and as he has now begun to open out with you, and you have my instructions to that effect, you will make much of him, and say what is fitting as regards his new offer. When this man who is expected from England comes, give me the fullest advices about armaments.—San Lorenzo, 31 March 1587.
31 March.
Estado, 949.
58. The King to Count de Olivares.
I am anxiously awaiting a reply to my despatch of 11th February respecting the principal matter, and until I receive it I have nothing to reply to that you have recently written on the subject. I can only say that I am extremely grieved at the death of the queen of Scotland, which is much to be regretted, as she was so good a Catholic, and would have been so appropriate an instrument for converting those countries to our Holy Catholic faith. Since, however, God has ordained otherwise in His inscrutable judgment, He will provide in other ways for the success of His cause. So far as can be seen or understood, this new event makes more necessary than ever that which the above-mentioned despatch instructed you to ask of his Holiness. You may now tell him from me how much I have been pained, and that I am desirous of pushing the enterprise on as quickly as my circumstances (fn. 16) will allow. You will, in speaking of this, assume that the greater or less speed in the execution will depend upon having plenty of money, and so lead on, to his own contribution, assuring him of my goodwill. The object of this step is to anticipate any admonition from the Pope urging me to hurry the enterprise when he hears of the death of the queen of Scotland, and to show him that I have no need for persuasion in the matter, as I am already eager for it. You must convey this, however, without appearing to force it or to belittle what the Pope has already promised, and we have accepted to be availed of when the opportunity is favourable. The former arrangement must rather be confirmed than complained of, but the Pope must be made to understand that if he wishes to hurry matters, the best way would be for him to advance me the loan I have mentioned.
Now that you know my intentions you can take the course you find most convenient, so long as you do not depart from the object, and you will act through Allen and Robert whenever you think it will be better to do so.—San Lorenzo, 31st March 1587.


  • 1. Cardinal Mondovi had charge of Scottish affairs at the Vatican, and, although he affected agreement with the Spaniards, really held the Scottish view of the English succession, as, indeed, the Pope himself was inclined to do.
  • 2. Several scurrilous examples are in these packets.
  • 3. Huntly, Hamilton, and Morton.
  • 4. Perth.
  • 5. In the King's hand. "Did he tell them more than was said?"
  • 6. The new confidant was the English ambassador, Sir Edward Stafford, and the "certain person" was Waad, the special envoy.
  • 7. Charles Arundell.
  • 8. In the King's hand. "It will be necessary to take steps here to get Pedro Sarmiento released. I can see that the affair is in a bad way there."
  • 9. Captain Vibrant Birnstra, who had offered to betray the place. In the Lansdowne MSS., 66 and 69, will be found petitions from the man to Elizabeth, setting forth his great services to the Protestant cause and claiming rewards.
  • 10. The word was then used in the sense of opportunist.
  • 11. He was a Neapolitan, a nephew of Pope Paul IV.
  • 12. Henry of Navarre, who was duke of Vendome on his father's side.
  • 13. This abbacy had just been granted by Philip to Allen.
  • 14. Sir Walter Raleigh.
  • 15. Sir Edward Stafford.
  • 16. The King has added a note to the draft in his own hand, saying "It is here you use the word 'my.' It will be better for you to put 'the,' so that it may not appear that it is my affairs which delay the business."