Simancas: October 1588, 1-15

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: October 1588, 1-15', in Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 4, 1587-1603, (London, 1899) pp. 454-471. British History Online [accessed 1 March 2024]

October 1588, 1-15

1 Oct.
Paris Archives, K. 1567. Italian.
444. Letter from London (from Marco Antonio Messia?).
(Complains of his own sad position, in similar terms to those contained in his letter of 24th September. Again records his services and earnestly prays for aid.)
They say that there are several ships of the Armada in Ireland, but they tell the story so variously that I know not what to believe. Some say that, after the ships had reached Spain, contrary winds forced them back to Ireland, where they were wrecked. Some men from them were said to have been saved and they were captured and hanged by a Captain Denny, (fn. 1) on account of some special hatred he bore against Spaniards, (fn. 2) in consequence of his once having had a colonel for a prisoner of his in Ireland, (fn. 2) who was assisted to escape by Don Bernardino de Mendoza, then Spanish ambassador in England. Others say that the Spaniards have joined the savages of the island, and have fortified themselves inland. In any case they are fitting out some ships here to go thither, which will be commanded by Sir Walter Raleigh, of whom you have, no doubt, heard. On the Exchange, last evening, it was publicly asserted that the duke of Medina Sidonia had been made prisoner in Ireland They made the same assertion before, and I believe it will be as vain this time as the last. These people are in the habit, directly they hear anything, either of exaggerating it, or minimising, as best suits them.
On Thursday last a Spaniard died in Bridewell, called something de la Cerda, who, they say, was a brother-in-law of Don William, (fn. 3) an Englishman, who was saved from the ship in consequence of his having been sent, shortly before she was taken, on an errand from Don Pedro de Valdés to the Duke. I expect more of them will die unless something be done for them, as there are many sick and they get no care. The Italians have given them alms freely, but there are so many of them that a very small sum falls to each one. From my heart I recommend their case.
Note.—The King has docketed the above letter "From the same man as the other" (i.e., 24th September).
This was the Genoese, Marco Antonio Messia, the friend of Horatio Pallavicini.
2 Oct.
Paris Archives, K. 1567.
445. Advices from Rouen (2nd October, mid-day).
Since writing the enclosed I have seen a letter from Hamburg of 17th instant, saying that six ships had arrived there from Lisbon which had met the Spanish Armada, calculated to consisted of 160 sail. It had passed the Orkneys, and had entered the Spanish sea. Having in view the weather which had prevailed, they expect the Armada will have arrived in Spain on the 20th or 25th ultimo. They report that all was well, and no more damage had been done that what we already know. They spoke with many of the ships, which gave them an account of their having left Dunkirk in consequence of the duke of Parma's fleet not having come out. They had not returned (to Spain), they said, out of fear of the English, and they asked the sailors to tell the English that they would soon pay them another visit. If his Majesty had allowed them to fight them (the English) without the fleet from Dunkirk they would have done so with pleasure, as the English would have found to their cost. They were very willing to return to England, please God. Two Venetian ships from Barbary have arrived in London, and report that they fell in with 50 ships off Cape Finisterre, which no doubt belonged to the Armada. We shall soon hear of their arrival.
4 Oct.
Paris Archives, K. 1567.
446. Duke Of Parma to Bernardino De Mendoza.
I have received the same news from Scotland about our Armada as you have, and probably at about the same time, both by Bruce's and the earl of Huntly's letters, and by the verbal relation of the Spaniard who has gone thither several times. This leads me to hope that our Lord may now have carried it safely to Spain, considering the weather we have had, and the course followed.
I send you enclosed the letters he (fn. 4) brought me, in order that you may understand thoroughly the position, and, as you have taken so leading a part in these negotiations and correspondence, that you might forward the letters with your opinion thereon to his Majesty.
Since the receipt of the letters, Colonel Semple and the gentleman, nephew of the earl of Huntly, have arrived, in order to inform me of the position, a relation of which is enclosed. They are more pressed and insecure than is pleasant, or desirable, in consequence of the delay in sending them the assistance, and the talk of our Armada, which they were awaiting with great devotion, with 2,000 men, an excellent port, and abundance of provisions. They say they sent out to meet it with this report, as soon as they heard of its approach, but did not meet it, and are now more discouraged than before, whilst their difficulty in maintaining themselves has increased. Although Colonel Semple says that if a sum of money is furnished to them, they can keep afoot'for a few months longer, I did not agree to provide what they request, or I could at present afford, because, as for the troops, there is now no possibility of sending them, and a more opportune time must be awaited, for success to be attained. The nephew will return at once with this message and letters, in which I promise to send them more money on a future occasion. In order not to risk Colonel Semple unnecessarily, he will remain here for the present, until we see how the King takes his escape from prison. I am glad to hear that the earl of Morton is in no fear for his life.
447. Juan De Saavedra to the King.
After having embarked with my company on this galeass "Zuñiga," I received two orders from the Duke, first to take command of all the troops on board, and the second, after we had passed the English Channel, was to put the soldiers on short rations, as it was to your Majesty's interests that the Armada should return to Spain by way of the Scottish islands and Ireland. This was accompanied by an intimation that we were to make such arrangements as to avoid our needing further help, as none could be sent to us. This intimation was sent to us on the 11th August, and on the following day we broke the rudder pivot, without which it was impossible for our craft to keep up with the rest of the Armada. We addressed ourselves to the Admiral's and Commodore's flagships, intimating to them the trouble we were in, but they replied that they could not help us. For this reason, and for that of the weather, we arrived off the Irish coast almost despairing of relief, and in fear of running aground. But by God's grace, although we were ignorant of the coast, we entered a port called Tue (Tralee?), 12 leagues from Cape Clear. It was extremely good, of fine size, and with a firm anchorage. The inhabitants are rustic savages, devoted to England, with a few officials amongst them. We remained here seven days, the last day being the 22nd September, during which time we were able to some extent to remedy the accident to the rudder, and other necessary things. We were at this time in such dire need of food that nearly 80 of our soldiers and convicts died of hunger and thirst, the inhabitants refusing to allow us to obtain water ; nor would they sell us food. We were therefore forced by our necessity to take up arms and obtain by force the supplies, which have lasted us until this 4th October We left Ireland, and in latitude 50 we were caught by a gale, which drove us out of our course and forced us into the English Channel again. When we were seen from the French coast some sailors came out to us in a boat, and told us that they had orders from their governor to intimate to any of your Majesty's ships in need that they could enter their ports, where they would be well treated, as France was at peace with your Majesty. Being powerless to do otherwise we entered this port, where the governor has received us kindly, and we now await your Majesty's further orders.—Havre de Grâce, 4th October 1588.
Note.—The writer was a captain in the Neapolitan Regiment. In the duke of Medina Sidonia's list he is stated to be on board the "San Nicolas," but seems to have been sent on board the "Zuñiga" subsequently. He sided with his discontented men in Havre when they clamoured for food and pay, and was superseded in his command.
448. Pedro De Igueldo to the King.
On the 11th ultimo I sent your Majesty a long report of all that had happened to us up to that time, and your Majesty will since have heard from Don Bernardino de Mendoza (whom I have kept informed daily of events) of the death of the Maestre de Campo, Nicholas Isla, on the 12th. On the 19th the "Santa Ana" was lost at the entrance of this port, after the artillery, stores, &c. belonging to your Majesty had been discharged from her, all of which, by orders of the Duke, had been delivered to M. de Villiers, governor of this town, to hold to your Majesty's order, this being the form of voucher I received for the property. (fn. 5) The money shipped on beard at Lisbon was 50,000 crowns of 10 reals each, in 42,500 bags. Of this sum 800 crowns were spent in the voyage from Santander, and the paymaster took out at Corunna 10,318, which left 38,882 crowns. We have had to spend here a certain portion of this. (fn. 6) The Duke sent me orders to hand the money to a merchant at Rouen, but he said nothing as to what I was to do about paying the soldiers, or helping them on their journey to Flanders. The sailors also had eleven weeks' pay owing to them. I wrote several times to the Duke about this by special messenger, but obtained no orders. Seeing the great cost incurred here, and that the commissary had arrived with the passport to convey the money (to Rouen) I gave each of the soldiers six crowns, and paid the officers two months' salary for their present needs, and the expense of their voyage. The soldiers were discontented and mutinied, attempting to murder me, but the revolt was pacified by dissimulation, and I then went with the papers to the governor, and gave him the names of the culprits. He sent for them at once, and the next day I mustered them and paid them, and they went on their way on the 30th ultimo. I gave the sailors two weeks' pay to take them to Spain, and they needed it badly, for when the ship went aground the sailors belonging to the town sacked her, and did not leave us a nail for ourselves. By God's grace, I was able to conceal your Majesty's royal standard, so these Frenchmen did not find it ; and I will, please God, bring it with my papers to Spain. The rest of the money, 25,000 gold crowns, I carried with a good escort furnished by the governor, and handed it to Diego Hernandez of Rouen. I send balanced account in draft. I arrived here in Havre this morning on my return from Rouen. I found that the galleass "Zuñiga," storm beaten, with the rudder and spars broken, and the ship in a sinking state, had brought up at the anchorage before the town. As she was in great danger, by the favour of the governor we got her into port, not without much trouble and risk, as she grounded at the entrance of the harbour and was within an ace of being lost. The governor ordered the men in the town to haul on her from the sea in boats, whilst others on shore did likewise, and she was got off and brought into harbour safely, where she now is. To lighten her, her ammunition is being discharged, and to-morrow she will take out her ordnance in a launch she has on board. Three companies of infantry come in her under Don Juan de Saavedra and Andrés Verdugo ; the other company belonged to Don Diego Laynez, who was killed in the combat with the English in the Channel. There are 220 soldiers in all, and they have been landed and lodged in the suburbs of the town. With the money I had kept in hand for my voyage to Spain I will succour them as well as I can, buying some supplies for the convicts, &c., as they have arrived without a bit of food, or a drop of water. If they had been a day later they would all have perished of famine. They say that on the 16th August, off Ireland, 150 leagues at sea, they parted company with the "San Martin." They told the Duke the great need they were in, and he replied that each one must do the best he could, as he himself was in the same case. Five or six days later the galleass fell in with the galleon "San Juan," with only two pataches accompanying her. They spoke with Admiral Juan Martinez de Recalde, who gave them the same reply as the Duke had done. Fifteen more ships joined them at this time, and the galleass "Zuñiga" left them. From then until the 27th ultimo she sailed in company with three other vessels, running before the wind the whole time in a furious gale. They were told by one of your Majesty's galleons called "Nuestra Señora de Begoña," belonging to Diego Flores' squadron, that the "Rata," with Don Alonso de Leyva on board, had been wrecked on the coast of Ireland, but they have no details. The Zuñiga arrived within 50 leagues of Cape Finisterre, but was assailed with so furious a tempest that she was driven back to this place, where she arrived without any knowledge of her whereabouts. She was very fortunate, any other ship would have been lost. During the storm she threw overboard two culverins. When she has been sufficiently lightened, I shall have her surveyed by good master carpenters of the town, and see what can be done with her. It would be a pity to lose so stout a piece as she is, whatever it may cost to repair her. I am writing to the ambassador for instructions about this, and as to what I am to do with the soldiers. If the galleass is to be repaired and to go to Spain, the soldiers will be wanted on board of her, and cannot be sent to Flanders. The convicts tried to escape at the entrance to the town, and those who were Frenchmen succeeded, with some others. The rest were detained with great trouble, and they are under strong guard. This trouble will delay my departure for some days. I was to have started to-morrow, with Major Melchior de Avendaño. God grant that the rest of the Armada has fared well. (fn. 7) — Havre de Grâce, 4th October 1588.
4 Oct.
Paris Archives, K. 1568.
449. Relation of as much as can be ascertained of the Occurrences on the Spanish Armada up to the 4th October, when the Neapolitan galeass "Zuñiga" entered this port of Havre de Grâce in a gale.
On the 27th July we discovered the English coast at Cape Longaneos (Land's End). On Sunday, the 29th, we sighted the enemy's fleet, and on the same day some of our ships exchanged shots with them. These were the galleon "San Juan," the flagship "Rata," the "Great Venetian," and the galleon "San Felipe," the rest of the ships of the Armada being unable to reach the enemy, in consequence of being to leeward. In this combat the enemy had 70 craft engaged, 30 large, and the rest small.
On Monday, the 30th, shots were exchanged, the enemy attacking us as we sailed up Channel, on our way to Calais. On this afternoon Don Pedro de Valdés's ship broke her bowsprit, and foremast, in consequence of having run foul of another ship of the squadron, in a fresh wind. She fell off, and was unable to follow the Armada. It was afterwards reported that she fought with the enemy the same night, and was captured. Still on the same day Admiral Oquendo's flagship caught fire, in consequence of a gunpowder explosion, which killed some men. She followed the vice-flagship all that night, but the next afternoon, after the Duke had been appealed to for aid, and some of the men had been taken out of her, she fell off, and in sight of the Armada was captured by the enemy.
On the same night the Duke sent orders to the four galleasses, that two of them were to follow the "Rata," and the other two the "Great Venetian" (i.e. the Valencera).
That night the "Rata" acted as flagship, and the wind falling calm, the Armada got separated in all directions. A land breeze then sprang up, the flagship (Capitana) bore down towards the enemy's fleet, which continued to follow her. In the night, orders came for the galleasses to approach the enemy, and they went about for that purpose. At daybreak of 31st July they were half a league from the enemy's fleet, accompanied by the galleon "San Martin," and other ships. At eight o'clock the four galleasses and the ship "Regazona" opened fire on the enemy, in company with Oquendo's vice-flagship. The enemy at once broke and fled. The weather fell calm again that day, and orders came to the galleasses to capture or sink a great ship of the enemy, which had been engaged in the combat, and was said to be one of the Portuguese Indiamen. Whilst they were attacking her and two other ships, five of the enemy's galleons bore down upon the galleasses ; the wind at this time having suddenly shifted, so that the enemy had it astern whilst we had it against us, and consequently none of our ships could come to our aid. The galleasses therefore had to run and join the rest of the Armada.
During the same day the enemy's fleet attacked the Armada with artillery fire. The flagship "San Juan" was very hotly engaged, together with other galleons under Don Diego Flores, the combat lasting until night separated the ships.
This night the galleasses followed the course of the flagship (i.e. the San Martin), towards Calais, always in sight of the English coast. Until the day of St. Dominic, 4th August, the Armada continued its voyage up Channel, the enemy always keeping the wind, at about a league distant. On that day a hulk, called the "Santa Ana," dropped behind, and was attacked by the enemy. They would have captured her if the three galleasses "Capitana," (i.e. the San Lorenzo) "Zuñiga," and "Girona" had not at once gone to her rescue. In order to save her they had to engage over 30 of the enemy's ships, and at last she was safely brought to the Armada. On the same day some of our ships got mixed with the enemy's fleet, and there was a great deal of fighting on all sides, as the English ships had assumed the half-moon formation. It was asserted that during the day the enemy suffered much damage, especially their flagship. They had at this time 90 vessels all told. A fresh wind sprang up, and our Armada set its course for Calais.
On the 6th, the day of the Transfiguration, at five o'clock p.m., we arrived in sight of Calais, and the Armada dropped anchor, the enemy's fleet doing the same, at a distance of a league.
At seven o'clock a frigate (fragata), came to the Duke from the duke of Parma, but it was not known what message she brought.
During the night the wind and tide were favourable for the enemy, and in the second watch they let loose against the Armada eight small vessels loaded with artificial fire. As soon as we saw this stratagem the ships of the Armada slipped their cables, the tide drifting them towards the Flemish coast, a league below Calais. During the night the galleass "Capitana" ("San Lorenzo"), came to grief in consequence of having run foul of the galleass "Girona" and the ship "Rata."
The Armada hoisted sail and beat to windward, keeping always in the current, until two hours before daybreak, when we again dropped anchor, three leagues from Calais and a league from the Flemish coast. When day broke the enemy took up the position we had occupied the night before, and opened fire on the "Capitana" ("San Lorenzo") galleass, which had run aground. It then bore down upon our Armada with 122 ships, all told. Our Armada at once run out the guns and opened fire upon the enemy, who this time approached so near that it was believed he would come to close quarters with us, as he was within musket-shot. Our ships in front of the enemy were the "San Martin," the "Rata," the duke of Florence's galleon, "San Felipe," the "Regazona," the "San Juan of Sicily," the flagship "San Juan," the "San Mateo," the "Great Venetian," the galleon "San Juan" of Seville, the flagship of the hulks, other galleys from Seville, and some Levantine ships.
The skirmishing was so hot that it lasted from dawn until four in the afternoon, and many of our ships were quite hidden from view by the smoke. The combat was a very terrible one. At the hour mentioned the wind freshened, greatly to the enemy's advantage, and the fleets separated, although the enemy never ceased to follow us up at a distance of two leagues. He observed that the "San Felipe" galleon was much disabled, and hoisted all sail to reach her, but the galleass "Zuñiga," with one of the Seville galleons, stood by her, as they did also by the "San Mateo," which two ships they accompanied during the night, but lost sight of them in the morning.
The Armada sailed in a northerly direction until eleven o'clock a.m., when orders came from the Duke to shorten the rations, as so few stores remained, and the voyage back to Spain was a long one round Ireland.
On the 13th August we sighted the coast of Norway on our right, and on the 15th the Scotch coast on our left. On the 19th we sighted the island called Shetland, and passed between it and Scotland. On the 21st we saw the extreme point of Ireland. The wind then freshened from the south, and the Armada stood out to sea for the next 15 days, reaching as high as 63½ degrees (N.) latitude on the 8th September. On the 2nd September the galleass "Zuñiga" separated from the flagship "San Martin" as she (the Zuñiga) had broken her rudder. They informed the Duke of this, and that they had no stores, but he replied that they must do the best they could.
On the 7th the "Zuñiga" fell in with the flagship "San Juan," with 12 vessels which had strayed from the Armada, and gave an account of their condition and need in which they were ; and by permission of the officers (i.e., of the "San Juan"), the "Zuñiga" set her course for Spain the next day, 8th September, with the intention of making for Corunna, or any other port she could reach. For the next five days we sailed with variable weather, and on the 14th, at daybreak, we discovered the point of Ireland. We could not double it for want of a rudder. That night we drifted at the mercy of the wind and sea in a northerly direction for four hours, and on the morning of the 15th the wind changed to the west, and we again resumed our voyage. In the evening the wind blew heavily from the south again, and we found ourselves between two points on the Irish coast, neither of which we could get round on any tack for want of a rudder. We saw we were in great danger, and in order not to be driven ashore in the strong wind we followed the creek and, by God's grace, found shelter in an uninhabited place. Here we cast anchor, not far from a tower held for the enemy where we remained eight days, until the 23rd, when we went out with a wind astern. On the 28th we were driven by a furious gale in the direction of the English Channel. On the 29th two guns were thrown overboard. During this time the "Zuñiga" ran, according to the pilot, 112 leagues, and was now inside the Channel, in great trouble for want of food of any sort. The ship also was leaking very badly, both fore and aft. On the 2nd October, with the same wind, she arrived in the roadstead of Havre de Grace, and on the 4th she entered the harbour.
6 Oct.
Paris Archives, K. 1567.
450. Advices from London.
I have again reported to the duke of Parma that I have news from England that great activity is being shown in the proposal to help Don Antonio with 30 ships, ostensibly for the Indies, and also that he was sending his younger son to Barbary. News came from Ireland, on the 30th ultimo, that three of our ships had been wrecked there. There arrived here yesterday from Ireland one of the Queen's pensioners, and he reports that 15 ships of the Armada had been lost there, and nearly all the men drowned, as per list enclosed herewith, which is copied from the statement brought to the Queen. This statement reports that the Duke had separated from the rest with 25 ships, in great want of provisions and men, as so many had died. I know the whole, or greater part of the Armada, is in those seas. God in His mercy guard it in such weather as we have had lately—the most extraordinary ever known. They (the English?) have captured 40 gentlemen and have sent thither (to Ireland?) persons to identify them. I reported to the duke of Parma that they were not going to relieve Berghen, but one of Walsingham's people having come over from Flushing, they have decided to do so, and have ordered Norris to go thither with 2,000 men. He asks for 4,000 as he wishes to relieve the place by land, in union with the rest of the troops they have there. He will leave (such is their hurry) in five days. Pray advise the duke of Parma of this, to prevent him from being misled by my former report. The ships for Guinea will leave in 10 days. They are three in number, and take Francisco da Costa and other Portuguese. Those for Barbary (two) will sail at same time with the son (fn. 8) (i.e., of Don Antonio). Cumberland will sail in 20 days with six ships (two belonging to the Queen) and two pinnaces. Cavendish's missing ship has arrived.
Paris Archives, K. 1567.
451. Copy of Statement sent to the Queen (fn. 9) (from Ireland).
On the 7th September (O.S.) in the Bay of Tralee (?) 25 men surrendered, amongst them some servants of the Duke. On the 10th another vessel was lost on the coast of Desmond. On the same day another great ship of 1,000 tons, called "Our Lady of the Rosary," was lost, only one man escaping. (fn. 10) His name is Don Antonio Meneses, who declared that there had been drowned in the same ship the prince of Ascoli, the son of Don Garcia Sarmiento de Sotomayor, Señor de Savatierra, Don Pedro de Andrada, son of the Count de Lemos, Don Francisco, son of Don Enrique Sarmiento de Sotomayor, Señor de las Achas, and seven other gentlemen. (fn. 11)
On the same day Miguel de Oquendo, commanding the Biscayners, the captain of the ship "Villafranca" of San Sebastian, captain Acuares, a Portuguese, Colonel Pedro Montenegro de la Vega, Francisco de Castellanos, Juan Roche, and Francisco Roche, Irish captains, and others to the number of 500, were drowned. On the same day, at two in the afternoon, two ships of 700 tons were lost, 700 or 800 men being drowned from them, 50 being captured, according to the advices of the president of Munster.
On the 11th seven ships tried to get out of ... (fn. 12) one of which was burnt by the Spaniards.
On the 12th at ... (fn. 13) a ship of 700 tons was lost, from which 400 men landed and fortified themselves.
Another ship was lost off Cape Clear, from which 60 men were drowned or killed. Another large ship was lost off Tralee, in which there were 30 gentlemen, with a bishop, a friar, and 69 men who, surrendered to William Bourke ; the rest of them were drowned or killed. Of those who got ashore a single Irish gallowglass killed 80. (fn. 14)
Juan Martinez de Recalde, the Admiral, is at Sunda (Blasket Sound?), in great danger with his ship. He is wounded and much maltreated, and has 60 sailors, of whom many are dying daily.
S.D. Paris Archives, 1567. French. 452. Statement from Ireland. (fn. 15)
Tuesday, 12th September, there was cast upon the shore at Bally (croy?) a ship of 900 tons. Thirteen gentlemen from the ship were taken and the rest, to the number of 400, got ashore. (fn. 16)
On the same day another ship was lost on the Isle of Clare, 78 men from which were drowned or killed. Apparently about the same time another large ship (fn. 17) was lost, from which three persons of rank were taken, with a bishop or monk (fn. 18) and 69 men, by William Burke of Ardnerie. All the rest were drowned or killed.
On the 12th September, in the Bay of Shannon, a ship of the Armada was set on fire by her own crew. It was a ship of 1,000 tons.
On the 14th September two great ships of the Armada were cast upon the coast of Connaught.
On the 16th September Admiral Juan Martinez de Recalde entered an Irish port with another ship of 900 tons and a barque, and remained in the said port. (fn. 19) Recalde's ship was in a very bad state, having had 14 or 15 cannon-shot through her, and her mainmast damaged so much that she could not carry sail. (fn. 20) He had but few sailors, mostly very ill. They were dying daily in great numbers and being thrown into the sea.
7 Oct.
Paris Archives, K. 1567.
453. Purser Pedro Igueldo to Bernardino De Mendoza.
I reported by special courier the arrival of the galleass here, and I am awaiting instructions as to how I am to proceed. The ordnance and ammunition have been put on board of two lighters. Please say whether they are to be landed. The stores on board were all damaged and rotten ; and being useless, have been thrown into the sea. The French convicts on board, and some others, escaped as soon as the ship entered port, they being loose. The best of guard is insufficient to keep them, for so many people come on board to see the galleass that they cannot all be watched, and they give files to the convicts. The governor himself is beating them off with a stick every day ; and if it were not for this, not a galley slave would be left.
I have bought bread, cider, and other necessaries, and am distributing the ordinary rations. They need it badly enough, so emaciated are they ; but they seem to be picking up. The soldiers are being paid a real a day. It is pitiable to see how broken and miserable they are. They will need much relief whithersoever they are to go. I will not, without your Lordship's orders, give them anything beyond the real a day for their keep.—Havre de Grâce, 7th October 1588.
8 Oct.
Paris Archives, K. 1567.
454. Purser Pedro De Igueldo to Bernardino De Mendoza.
(Gives an account of the extensive repairs necessary to the "Zuñiga"—to be remasted, careened, caulked, &c. All the stores useless and destroyed. The shipwrights on board have no tools, and will not work unless new ones are bought for them. He gives the men on board 1½ lb. of ration bread a day (the usual ration being 2 lbs.) with salt cod, but he will have to serve out a little fresh meat occasionally.) The convicts are receiving their ordinary rations, although some of those who are sick must have some fresh food. The sailors and officers are crying out that they are naked, which is quite true. If they might receive something on account of their pay, it would be a great help in their dreadful need. If this be not done, we cannot keep them, or if they stay, they will die of cold. The soldiers will suffer the same if they be sent to Flanders, and in any case they must be succoured. The captains and officers have not a plack, and they cannot live on the daily dole. I had a muster to-day, and find that of Don Juan de Saavedra's company there are 71 men, of the late Don Diego de Laynez's 58, and of Andres Verdugo's 75 ; total, 204. There are 29 officers in the galleass, 28 gunners, 8 steersmen, 21 sailors, 12 forecastle hands, convicts 175, or 273 in all. Since the galleass came into harbour, there have escaped or been liberated by the Governor 16 Frenchmen, and some 12 Italians and Spaniards. It is the greatest trouble in the world to guard them on board ; and no one is allowed on shore. The Governor has a pair of sentries night and day to prevent any Frenchman from going on the ship. Two convicts escaped this morning, and I reported to the Governor that the guard at the town gate had aided them to get away. He at once went in person and gave the corporal of the guard 20 blows with his crutch, and would have put him into chains in the convict's place if I had not begged for mercy for him. He then sent the corporal to seek the convicts ; and he was so smart about it that he brought them both back this afternoon, finely tricked out in French clothes. The Governor then issued an order, that no person was to enter the galleass without his permission, and any person who sheltered or aided a convict should be chained in the place of the man who escaped. God grant that this may be effectual. I have had new fetters made, and put them on double, and I understand this will keep them safer. Enclosed is sent a statement of the voyage of the Armada since Cape Longnose (Land's End) was sighted, which I have compiled from the reports of certain of the men who have kept diaries. But there is nothing very particular in it. God send us a remedy for it all. (Diego Hernandez (of Rouen) has given him a credit for 500 crowns, which he has not yet used, with permission to draw for what he needs.) — Havre de Grâce. 8th October 1588.
Note.—In a letter from Mendoza to the King, dated 13th October, he repeats the information contained in Igueldo's letters about the galleass "Zuñiga" and suggests that gold chains should be given to the governor of Havre and his lieutenant for their aid in the matter of the "Santa Ana" and the "Zuñiga." He has sent money to Igueldo, and ordered the ship to be sent with all speed to Corunna, where instructions will await them; as he had done in the case of the hulk that had put into Morvien in Brittany. There is an unimportant annotation in the King's hand on the letter.
9 Oct.
Estado, 950.
455. Count De Olivares to the King.
On the reception of the news that the duke of Parma had moved his position, in the certainty that the duke of Medina had started on his return voyage to Spain, his Holiness assumed the same attitude as I described to your Majesty in my letter of 26th September. I have again taken the opportunity of pressing him to aid your Majesty, but neither my own efforts nor those of my intermediaries have succeeded in obtaining any more satisfactory result than before. I am greatly afraid that, even when your Majesty's letter arrives, as I proposed, we shall get nothing from the Pope. It is impossible to imagine how openly he has shown his selfishness and bad disposition on this occasion.
Allen has shown me a passage from a letter written from Bruges by one of the Jesuits sent from here, whom he praises as a very prudent man. He says that the going of the Armada, and the knowledge thus gained, have produced results that could not have been attained otherwise ; and that means have now been found by which the enterprise may be effected with great ease and safety.
The Duke (of Parma), he says, is satisfied of this, and that as soon as news is received of the Armada and your Majesty's reply comes, the execution would be commenced. This has very greatly consoled me, and again confirms me in my opinion as to the expediency of Allen's going. I am therefore urging his despatch, without giving intimation of this to the Pope.
With Allen will go the Jesuit Father, Robert Persons, whom I have found, so far as my intercourse with him here enables me to judge, a person of much tact and good sense. The Cardinal also is very judicious, although he could not well cope with the lies and trickery here, his own methods being so very different. I keep well before him how much he owes to your Majesty, and he appears to recognise his obligation thoroughly. I took the opportunity of saying to him recently that my principal regret that the enterprise has not turned out well was that it should not be made publicly evident that your Majesty was moved to undertake it, not by greed for more empires (as the worldly-minded give out) but solely for the glory of God. This I said would be seen when by God's will it came to pass, for your Majesty would place them (the English) in a position which would leave them nothing to desire. — Rome, 9th October 1588.
10 Oct.
Guerra, 236.
436. Garcia De Villejo to Andres De Prada (Secretary of the Council of War).
When I received his Majesty's orders to occupy myself in the affairs of the Armada, the Duke had already left, and he wrote to me on the road, saying that he had no instructions to give me.
It is extremely necessary that there should be some person here to command, and money to enable us to do something. The money to be brought from San Sebastian will be useless, as at most it will not reach 50,000 ducats, and they are already spent, as follows.
The Duke wants 33,000 ducats, 20,000 being a special grant given to him by his Majesty, 7,000 due to him as salary, and 6,000 he lent here for the hospital expenditure ; besides which he wants 1,000 ducats for a grant to Don Francisco de Bobadilla, and other expenses. There will be as much more required for other purposes.
The Duke arrived here on the 21st ultimo, and he left to-day. He leaves affairs in such a condition that I feel it my duty to say what I think about it.
There are over a thousand sick, and if the men be all disembarked at once, the hospital would be so overcrowded that, although there has been nothing contagious yet, I greatly fear that something of the sort will appear. It is impossible to attend to so many sick, and the men are bound to fall ill if they sleep in the ships full of stench and wretchedness.
The captains are so many and the soldiers so few, companies having been bestowed so freely, that it is meet that some man of authority should come hither with all speed to inquire and arrange about this, because the amount of the wages is so large for the higher ranks that some saving must be effected.
If the ships missing from the Armada do not appear, I understand that it will be necessary to obtain many new ships, as otherwise it will be impossible to gather so large a fleet as will be necessary. Even if the missing ships should appear it will be necessary to refit all of them, as well as to seek new ones. For this purpose a person of the necessary authority and experience in maritime affairs will be required, and I fear that, if we are to succeed, your worship yourself will have to come. If you cannot come at once I shall look upon the Armada as in abeyance until the year '90. I am bound to think that the year of the eights, so ardently looked forward to, will turn out to be 1800.
I believe that, with sailors and soldiers together, we have 7,000 mouths to feed—2,000 seamen and 5,000 men-at-arms—and it is pitiable to see them. No one can believe that the arrival of this letter will cause matters to be remedied ; but I write it, even if it is to be put into the fire.
There is no intelligence of any steward, inspector, or paymaster, nor of the purser, Pedro de Igueldo, or any of the private pursers ; the only one who is here being Pedro Coco Calderon, who is very assiduous. The Duke appointed G. de la Riva, Provedore-General, and Miguel de Ugarte, Chief Storekeeper, and they are doing their best. Pray do not think I am saying this to urge my own claims to anything of this sort. I know all about Armadas and the expenses and wages attached to them ; and until something serious is to be done I would rather serve in the accountant's department, where, if they do no favours, at least they deceive nobody with promises. I have given the best information and advice I could, and still will continue to do so, but I do not wish to oust anyone from his place on any account.
I understand that this port is not capable of sheltering the ships already here, and at all events can take no more large ships, as they have to be anchored far apart. I have no doubt that those whose duty it is will see to this ; but they have not done so yet. It cannot be said, however, that any time has been wasted. If any of the ships have to winter here, the redoubt, and the seven or eight pieces of artillery in it, will have to be manned. Fifty soldiers and six gunners from the fleet will suffice for this, and the port will then be in good order.
I understand that there is a great deal of rotten foodstuff in the ships, and I beg you to order it to be thrown overboard. If this be not done someone will be sure to buy it to grind up and mix it with the new biscuit, which will be enough to poison all the Armadas afloat.
The most expensive things, perhaps, are the victuals. By the accounts of the shipmasters, shipping, and unshipping, &c., I see that it would be very advisable to have a secret investigation of the notaries' books, taking them by surprise before they have time to ascertain what they have on board the ships, and what they have given out, and before they close their accounts with the troops, and the masters buy the rest of rations of them. It will be very much more just that they should be sold to his Majesty. I think there has been a good deal of laxity in this matter, in consequence of the many deaths that have taken place. There is not a captain who does not talk about having a pipe or two of wine. All this should be looked into and remedied.
So much has been said about the slackness of some of the ships in fighting, that, having regard to the future, and to enable justice to be effected by the authorities, it would be advisable for an Alcalde of the Court, or of the criminal tribunal of Valladolid, to be sent hither with sufficient authority. This would avoid all the machinery of auditors, audiences, &c. ; and the mere presence of the Alcalde to look after people here and help them to the prompt execution of their duties, would make them all walk with their chins over their shoulders (i.e., on the alert). Pray pardon me for giving you the trouble of reading this. Though it may be unworthy of notice, I have trusted no one about it, and if I learn that it has been well received I will continue to send reports. In the meanwhile I will always serve you ; and if Diego Flores asks me anything I will advise him to the best of my knowledge.—Santander, 10th October 1588.
13 Oct.
Paris Archives, K. 1567.
457. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
I will arrange with Julio as your Majesty instructs me in your despatch of 15th. Although I communicate with the new confidant he tells me nothing of any profit. I therefore give him fair words but no money.
David sends me the enclosed advices. People attached to Don Antonio, and others, assert that he will sail in the ships ostensibly for Portugal, but if he sails with 50 ships before Christmas he will probably go to the islands, rather to Madeira and the Canaries than to Terceira (fn. 21), where the sea in winter would prevent him from landing men, which he could do in Madeira or Canary. I expect Sampson will come soon with full information about the expedition, as I have told him how important it is that I should know early.
I have also informed Sampson of what your Majesty says about discovering whether Don Antonio was suspicious of him (fn. 22) or not. I have sent a new person to England, besides those I have there, thus doubling my intelligence as your Majesty orders. No one of my agents knows any other. Marco Antonio Messia, who was sent by the marquis of Santa Cruz, and whose letters are enclosed herewith, is a seaman of intelligence, and when it is your Majesty's pleasure to disembargo the property he has in Lisbon, about which he complains so bitterly, and he is in a position to maintain himself in England, he will be able to give full reports of the armaments there, as he has an acquaintance with Horatio Pallavicini, and has means of sending his despatches with those of the French ambassador, with whom he is also very intimate. He pretends that his letters are about cargoes. I am simply acknowledging his letters, as I have no instructions from your Majesty about him. The letters written in Italian are his. (fn. 23) —Paris, 13th October 1588.
458. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
I have continued to send all the news I have received of the Armada ; and I now enclose the reports I have from Hamburg, which are confirmed from many quarters, and it may therefore confidently be believed that before the 25th September all the ships will have arrived in Spanish ports, except those which have put into the French coast.
On the 29th ultimo I reported the courier's statement that Sir Harry Cavendish had arrived at Plymouth. My subsequent advices, of 20th and 24th ultimo and 1st instant, confirm this, saying that he has come from the Straits of Magellan. The rumour runs that he brings 3,000,000, but Cavendish himself says 500,000 crowns' worth of prizes were taken. This cannot be cleared up until the ships are discharged, and it is seen whether he brings much silver and gold. The English ships from Barbary had also arrived which captured the two sugar ships on the coast of Brazil, and sold them in Barbary. They report that on their way home they fell in with a great number of ships off Cape Finisterre, which they believe were your Majesty's Armada. It was said in London that some of them had put into Ireland in consequence of heavy contrary weather.
Two other English pirate ships had arrived, with a vessel belonging to some of your Majesty's subjects, and another from Biscay loaded with whale oil.
The 50 ships I said were being fitted out in England are now being hurried forward furiously. They will include seven of the Queen's ships, and it is said that the earl of Cumberland would go with them. A great number of bullocks have been slaughtered to provision them. Most of them are being fitted out by private persons, in the hope of gain, as they see that the many ships that go out to pillage come back laden with booty. It was not known how many men would go in the ships, nor whether the Queen was sending any of them to Ireland in consequence of the news that some ships of the Armada were on that coast.
This King, in conversation with some of his favourites, greatly praised the valour, spirit, and prudence of the queen of England, aided, as she was, by marvellous good fortune. He said that what she had done lately would compare with the greatest feats of the most illustrious men of past times, for she had ventured, alone and unaided, to await the attack of so puissant a force as Spain, and to fight it whilst preventing the passage of the duke of Parma's fleet, which was as powerful as the Spanish. He said that it had taken your Majesty four years to gather these great fleets, which had been the wonder of the world, and yet it might be said that the queen of England had triumphed over them. M. d'Andragues remarked, that perhaps the queen of England was not much afraid of the duke of Parma, to which the King replied "I do not know, but time will discover everything."
I learn from Plymouth that they are fitting out six ships there in great haste.—Paris, 13th October 1588.
459. Bernardino De Mendoza to Martin De Idiaquez.
I send enclosed particulars of two ships which have arrived, or will shortly arrive, in Spain. The intelligence was obtained by a man who has supplied it to me, and it was he who caused the ships to go to Spain instead of to Italy, as had been intended, on the assurance that would guarantee him the third of the value of the seizure as the law provides. He says that, although the third of the value would amount to much more, he will be contented with 10,000 crowns, from which will have to be deducted 1,800 to be paid to Patrick Morris and Philip Shenston. Patrick Morris will depose that the merchandise belongs to Englishmen, and his Majesty can then confiscate it. Patrick Morris will have to be arrested with the other officers of the ship, and they will have to be made to declare on oath to whom the cargo belongs. It is agreed that Patrick Morris will at once confess that it is the property of Englishmen, and I therefore beg your Majesty to release him at once, and have him and Shenston well treated in prison, as the affair has been managed through them.
Morris must also be asked if he has ever taken letters from Spain to the queen of England or any of her Ministers ; and if so, who gave them to him. He will confess that a packet was handed to him on behalf of the Scotsman, William Hunter, who called himself the king of Scotland's merchant when he was in Madrid, and brought letters to his Majesty from the king of Scotland certifying such to be the case. These letters were obtained for him by English merchants through Walsingham. William Hunter gave a packet of letters to Morris for Walsingham, reporting to him that the Armada was ready to sail, and Walsingham thanked him warmly for bringing the news, giving him also 200 crowns.
All this will be confessed by Patrick Morris, and he wishes that the device of arresting him should be resorted to, in order that he may declare, apparently under compulsion, the owners of the merchandise they carry, and they may not blame him when he returns to Scotland.
I have lost no time in advising this, in order that the opportunity may not be missed, and that the Treasury people may not say that they will give nothing to the informer. You will have to lay the statement before the King, without giving particulars of the ships, or their destination, but simply the bare proposal. When his Majesty has authorised the third to be paid to the informer, on particulars being given of the English goods, you can have the stop order sent to arrest the ships, and the particulars will then be forthcoming.
You may communicate it to Don Juan de Idiaquez, and say that as it is a more profitable business than that of Alexis Droscot, I have promoted it and passed it into your hands. (fn. 24) ...
The man who gave me the information asked me not to supply details until the 10,000 were formally promised. I replied that the law gave the informer a third. The ships are also forfeit, and he (the informer) hopes that his Majesty will confiscate them, as the principal owner deserves it, being a great pirate. Please let me know what is done in the matter, and treat Patrick Morris and Shenston well.—Paris, 15th October 1588.


  • 1. Sir Edward Denny.
  • 2. Colonel Sebastiano di San Guiseppe, who had commanded the Spanish Papal forces at Smerwick in 1580, and was captured, escaped by the contrivance of Mendoza. See Vol. III. of this Calendar. This is the person referred to.
  • 3. The Spaniard referred to was, doubtless, Captain Don Alonso de la Serna, and the Englishman, William Stacy.
  • 4. Aguirre, the Spanish pilot who went backwards and forwards to Scotland.
  • 5. The King has added a marginal note saying that "if the galleass 'Zuniga' is to come, all this property may be sent in her. Instruct Don Bernardino."
  • 6. A detailed account of the disposal of the 50,000 crowns is enclosed in the packet. The items of expenditure in addition to the pay of soldiers, sailors, &c., include considerable sums paid to the townspeople of Havre for provisions, and for the salvage of the guns.
  • 7. A letter of the same date as above, from Major Melchior de Avendaño to the King gives substantially the same information. He was an officer on the "Santa Ana," and was about to set forth on the following day to join his regiment. Two days later Avendaño again writes to the King, saying that Purser Igueldo had decided to bring the "Zuñiga" into the port, as she was in great danger in the roadstead. The three companies in her had been landed. He, Avendaño, was now about to set forth for Spain to join his regiment, where he knew he would be wanted. It will be seen in the course of the correspondence that he was punished for afterwards persisting in this resolution, against the instructions of the ambassador. At the end of February 1589, Captain Nuñez reported to Mendoza that Avendaño, Verdugo, and Saavedra were insubordinate. Mendoza had appointed Nuñez to command the men on the galleass. When the order arrived at Havre the captains scoffed at it and were very disorderly. Nuñez then made a demand to Mendoza that they should be punished. They had been very disordery during the voyage, and had taken excessive rations by force whilst the men starved. The galleass sailed from Havre on the 2nd March, and as soon as she was at sea the captains insulted Igueldo and Nuñez and again raised their men to mutiny. The galleass was once more driven back to Havre by bad weather, and Mendoza then wrote to the King (20th March) asking that Avendafio and Saavedra, whom he had suspended from their command, should be severely punished on their arrival in Spain, where they insisted upon going. Avendaño was put into prison as soon as he arrived home, and the King then asked Mendoza to say what punishment he wished inflicted upon him. In the meanwhile Avendaño was very penitent, and he and his frends begged Mendoza to be clement. Mendoza therefore replied to the King (21st April) that although he had asked that the captain might be punished for disobedience, in refusing to take charge of his men on the galleass on her second arrival in port, the disturbed state of France no doubt prevented him from receiving his (Mendoza's) orders. He is a brave old soldier, and Mendoza begs that he may be forgiven.
  • 8. The King calls attention to this, and says "Advise at once."
  • 9. In the King's hand : —"He does not say who sent the statement."
  • 10. The real name of this ship was "Our Lady of the Rose." She sank in Blasket Sound.
  • 11. In the King's hand :—"He is wrong about most of these, perhaps he is so about the rest." The prince of Ascoli remained in Flanders, as will be seen by his letter to the King in this Calendar. Oquendo returned to Spain.
  • 12. The name is so disfigured as to be quite unintelligible, but the place referred to is the mouth of the Shannon.
  • 13. The name as written is quite unintelligible, but the ship was no doubt the "Valencera" with Don Alonso de Luzon on board, which was wrecked on Sir John O'Dogherty's country, near Lough Foyle. An account of the adventures of the crew will be found in this Calendar.
  • 14. The name of the gallowglass is said in "Advertisements out of Ireland" (1588) to have been McLaughlan MaoCabe. The ship was probably the galleon "San Juan."
  • 15. The document is written in French, but in an English hand, the marginal notes being written by the King.
  • 16. In the King's hand :—"This may be Don Alonso de Leyva." The King was probably correct in this surmise.
  • 17. This ship appears to have been the "San Juan," of Diego Flores' squadron. In M.S. Ireland, CXXXIX. 2, Bingham sends a list of the principal persons put to death from this ship and the "Falcon Blanco Mediano," also wrecked on the coast of Connaught, perhaps on Clear Island.
  • 18. In the King's hand :—"Perhaps they call Don Martin de Carrion a bishop. No bishop went."
  • 19. The port appears to have been Dingle Couche, or Blasket Sound.
  • 20. Recalde's ship was the "San Juan" and the ship that accompanied her was probably the "San Juan Bautista" of Diego Flores.
  • 21. In the King's hand :—"It will be well to ascertain how these islands are, if anything more be required let me know."
  • 22. In the King's hand :—"If there was any fear of this he did wrong in going. God send him safe back."
  • 23. In the King's hand :—"It will be well to keep this man there, and many others as well ; see what can be done to enable him to stay there."
  • 24. Several obscure allusions here seem to suggest that the difference between the 10,000 crowns and the value of the third of the merchandise should be kept by the Idiaquezs "to avoid having to ask the King for so much money for Don Alonso." Don Alonso de Idisquez was a son of Don Juan, and was an officer in Flanders at the time.