Simancas: March 1589

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

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'Simancas: March 1589', in Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 4, 1587-1603, (London, 1899) pp. 514-526. British History Online [accessed 1 March 2024]

March 1589

2 March.
Paris Archives, K. 1570.
508. Advices from London (from Antonio de Vega).
In various English ports 75 ships are now ready. Amongst them are six belonging to the Queen. Drake's flagship is the "Revenge," 500 tons, and the vice-flagship is the "Sans Pareil," 700 tons. There are two others of 400 tons each, another of 300, and another of 25, (fn. 1) with bronze guns. Drake's ship carries 38 pieces, six in the bows, and the other ships are armed in proportion. There are two pinnances of 40 and 50 tons, all the rest of the ships being private property. There are eight of them of 25 (fn. 2) tons up to 400, armed with iron guns and victualled for six months. Drake is to command at sea, and John Norris on land. They take 8,000 soldiers and 4,000 seamen, and the information I have as to their design is, that if they had carried out the original intention and sailed in January, they would have gone to the Azores and have left Don Antonio there with 3,000 men, the fleet thence proceeding to the West Indies and fortifying Habana. I have learnt recently that, as the season is now advanced, they will run down the coast of Spain and try to burn the Spanish fleet (fn. 3) wherever they may find it, and then land in Portugal if they do not encounter great resistance. Thence they will go and await the flotillas at the islands. They expected contingents of men and ships from Holland and Zeeland, but up to the present only 10 ships and three companies have come. Drake was to embark on the 10th instant, and Norris on the 15th. Don Antonio was determined to accompany the expedition, but it would not be possible for him to do so, as he was quite unprepared, and they would not give him a penny and he had no security beyond the word of Drake and Norris. The fleet will doubtless sail some time during the month, unless the wind prevents it, or the League should gain some advantage which would frustrate their designs.
4 March.
Paris Archives, K. 1570.
509. Bernardino de Mendoza to the King.
I have nothing very fresh from England, but last news about the preparations of the fleet are confirmed. Drake has given Don Antonio a credit for 10,000 crowns to defray the costs of his own preparations for the voyage. He had sent to Horatio Pallavicini for some proof armour he has, in order to have some made like it. They announce that there has been a rising in the Island of Terceira, and they also assert that the Castle of St. Gian only contained three or four pieces of artillery, and the same in the Tower of Belem, as all the rest had been taken for the Armada. He has no lack of friends in Portugal, and although they (the English) had news that the duke of Parma was going to Spain with his forces, they said that before even he could get to Italy, and had begun his long sea voyage, Don Antonio would have finished his business.
An Italian named Aurelio Sopra, in the queen of England's service in Ireland, had come from there, and says that counting the ships that foundered at sea, and those wrecked on the coast, 27 sail of the Armada and 9,000 men had perished there. He says the men found the English even more cruel than the winds and waters, as they had murdered nearly all of them.
The English ambassador here has received two packets of letters of 9th February, the bearers of which say that Drake would sail in the middle of this month with 150 sail and 15,000 men, exclusive of seamen. The rendezvous of the fleet is Plymouth, and some of the ships were already dropping down the Thames on their way thither. The Queen said that the fleet was raised entirely by her subjects, in exchange for that which had taken your Majesty so many years to collect for the purpose of attacking her.
Drake was to command at sea and Norris on land, and Don Antonio was to accompany the expedition. The English ambassador, however, in conversation with his friends uses very different language to this. He asserts that the Dutch ships had not yet arrived, and Drake was not yet ready to sail. He says that at most the force will not exceed 60 or 70 ships, and 8,000 to 10,000 men, including soldiers and sailors. As Walsingham says nothing about the fleet in his letter, he (the ambassador) believes that it is not so advanced as is said, and could not leave before the end of February. They say the object of the expedition is to try to force the Spanish ports in which ships may be collecting, thinking that when they have done this, it will be easier for them to invest Portugal, and if not, they will go to the Azores or the Indies.
The Queen had come to London, as she had summoned Parliament for the 15th February, the object being to ask for money to send these ships out. It was understood that she would make some new Earls and Barons in this Parliament, particularly Cecil, Hatton, and Walsingham. She had conferred the governorship of Guernsey upon Lord Seymour and had recompensed Paulet's son.
The earl of Arundel was being put upon his trial for having had an understanding with your Majesty's Armada, and for having written to the cardinal of England (i.e., Allen). The earl of Derby had been ordered to preside as Constable, with 12 Barons to pass sentence, in accordance with the custom of England.
A man had arrived from Fez to see the Queen and Don Antonio, and in order to beguile the people they had christened him ambassador of the Sheriff and asserted that he had brought a great sum of money for Don Antonio. They caused the merchants of London to go out and meet him with 200 horsemen, and the Queen received him with the ceremonial of an ambassador, Don Antonio doing the same, sending him a coach in which to visit him.
Two couriers brought these letters on the 9th to the English ambassador. One of them was the Queen's principal courier, who only takes charge of despatches of the utmost importance, and he also brought a packet for this King from his ambassador, for which the King presented him with 100 crowns. He (Henry III.) is so short of money that the courier must have brought him some good news.
The English ambassador at once begged urgently for an audience and in order to be able to receive him, the King gave all the ambassadors notice that he would see them ; although for over two months we had been unable to obtain an audience. If I can learn what the English ambassador's message is in time for this post, I will send word. I expect it is to offer aid. The Queen had given leave to M. de Chateauneuf to come to France, and he was ready to depart, when the English ambassador here, fearing the disturbed condition of things in this country, that some evil might befall him, wrote to the Queen asking her by all means to detain Chateauneuf.
The said English ambassador has sent to me the enclosed letter from Don Pedro de Valdés, and another for me, both open. The substance of the letter to me is to beg me to send his letter to your Majesty, with those written by the other Spanish prisoners who are with him, returning any replies that may be sent by the same means.
I enclose the advices I have from Scotland.—St. Victor, 4th March, 1589.
Note.—In another letter of same date as above Mendoza begs the King, at the request of Cardinal Allen, to give some money to the English seminary at Rheims and the English Nuns of Sion at Rouen, as their principal benefactors, Guise and his brother, are dead.
510. Bernardino de Mendoza to the King.
The first news I give in the general despatch about England is from Marco Antonio Messia, who was the man that carried the armour to Don Antonio. He says that so far as he could gather from his (Don Antonio's) language Drake's fleet is rather for the islands and the Indies than for Portugal.
The English ambassador has confirmed to Sampson the information I give about the fleet, and the new confidant has also sent to tell me the same. I mentioned the English ambassador's interview with the King, and he said that he had condoled with him on the death of the Queen-Mother, and had in general terms made offers (of help) to him. It would not be necessary, however, for Secretary Revol to have been with the ambassador for an hour in order to answer these two points, and I cannot help thinking that my suspicions of months ago may be correct, and that he ("the new confidant") is not acting straightforwardly, although I have continued to keep in with him.
Secretary Curle and his sister, and the apothecary Gorion, have written to me, saying, that in view of the disturbed state of Paris, they do not know what I would wish them to do. I beg for instructions on this point, in case I should have to leave Paris again. I have had them punctually paid their pensions there every two months to keep them satisfied and contented.—Chaussée de St. Victor., 4th March 1589.
17 March.
Paris Archives, K. 1449.
511. The King to Bernardino de Mendoza.
Thanks for advices sent from England. I am glad to learn that you are arranging the new means of intelligence you mention to replace those that are failing you. More especially is this desirable in the case of England, about which we are so much in the dark, at the very juncture when it is necessary for us to know their inmost thoughts, let alone the ships they are arming in their ports, and the object for which they are intended. Now that so many Frenchmen are rallying to the Catholic cause, you could, perhaps, make use of some French agents in England. If so, this would be the best course—try it.
I note the excuse under which the governor of Havre de Grâce wishes to detain the galleass. If it be much delayed it will be very inconvenient. Do your best to get her to Santander or other Spanish port.
With regard to the provisions, etc., you say may be obtained from the coast of Brittany, (fn. 4) although we can provide what we need here, it will be well for you to continue the negotiations, but without entering into any engagement, in case we should find it advisable to supply ourselves from there.—Madrid, 17th March 1589.
20 March.
Paris Archives, K. 1570.
512. Bernardino de Mendoza to the King.
In addition to the enclosed advices from England, I have only to say that a letter from the French ambassador in England to this King has fallen into my hands, which letter I send herewith. It confirms the news that Drake's fleet, with Don Antonio on board, was on the point of sailing, the design being that which I have several times reported to your Majesty. Although all the advices agree that some of the ships that were fitted out for Drake in London were going down the Thames to join him at Plymouth, and that the fleet would sail by the middle of March, it is still very questionable whether the Queen will allow herself at this juncture to be divested of so large a force of ships and men France being in so unsettled a condition, and the towns of the League so well armed. This greatly disturbs the Queen, and this King is so helpless that if, as appearances indicate, he appeals to the Huguenots and the prince of Bearn for support, the latter can only be given with her consent and co-operation. It is difficult to see what other aid she could give at the present time than the troops she has raised for this fleet, and as they are not more that 8,000 or 10,000 men, she can hardly send any to help this King without leaving the fleet empty. We shall soon know whether the fleet is to go or not, and I will send instant advice.
It is reported from London that the queen of England and her Council were much grieved that Rouen had declared for the League, as the English thereby lose the best trade they had with France. They will have to be very careful now that Normandy, so close to them as it is, has embraced the cause of the League.
22 March.
Paris Archives, K. 1570.
513. Bernardino de Mendoza to the King.
It is some time since I received any advices from our Scottish friends, in consequence, as I understand, of their keeping up their correspondence with the duke of Parma. His Holiness has authorised the archbishop of Glasgow to abandon, if he pleases, the post of ambassador to the king of Scotland, having consideration to the very small hope entertained by the bishop of Dunblane, the Carthusian friar, on his return, of being able to convert the King. The ambassador assures me that his principal reason for accepting the position was the Pope's special license for him to represent a heretic King, and the instructions from your Majesty that he was not to refuse the post. He says that I am well aware that for many years past he has been devoted to your Majesty's service, and begs me to convey the above intelligence to your Majesty, in order that he may know whether you wish him to resign or retain the position of ambassador. He will not move either way until he receives instructions. As the good prelate has shown his devotion on so many occasions to your Majesty's service, and his personality is of the highest importance in the conversion of Scotland, or in any other negotiations to be carried on there, I cannot refrain from saying how hardly pressed he is for money. All his misfortunes fell upon him at once. He lost his mistress, the Huguenots two years ago took an abbey of his in Poitou worth 3,000 crowns, and he is now almost starving, for the king of Scotland does not give him a groat, nor will he allow him to draw anything from the archbishopric. It is very important to keep him attached to your Majesty, in view of anything that may be attempted in Scotland, where if any change took place they could not avoid making him a Cardinal ; besides which he is in a position to depose as to the renunciation of the queen of Scotland in your Majesty's favour as effectually as Curle and his sister and the apothecary Gorion, as the Queen sent to her ambassador the original letter for his Holiness. His deposition, moreover, will carry great weight, in consequence of his character and position. All this makes me urge your Majesty, whilst praying you to forgive my boldness, to grant the archbishop a pension of 1,000 crowns a year, out of the funds of some bishopric ; which will entirely secure him, and at the same time will not pledge your Majesty to grant him any more, even if they make him a Cardinal, as in such case he would go to Scotland, where he would live well on the revenues of his archbishopric. The queen of Scotland recommended him as warmly as she did her other servants, and your Majesty granted a pension of 700 crowns to the bishop of Ross, in addition to the 300 he had in Spain, on the recommendation of the Queen. The character and position of Glasgow is such that much more service can be rendered by him than by Ross, and any grant your Majesty may make him would really be a gracious charity, even if he were of no service in return, for he is over 70 years of age and has passed all his life in honour and affluence. He has spent all the grant your Majesty made him through me, and indeed has had nothing else to live upon. His need is such that Cardinal Sanzio, who is his friend, seeing his position, has assigned to him the rent of the house I live in to keep him from actual beggary. I am informed that in the disturbances in Paris after Guise's murder, (fn. 5) no one inflamed Aumale more than he did not to give way. He also insisted on the declaration of the Sorbonne, to which is due entirely the present favourable position of affairs. He proceeds in the same way towards Mayenne. (fn. 6) —Paris, 22nd March 1589.
514. Bernardino de Mendoza to the King.
Marco Antonio Messia, who was sent by the marquis of Santa Cruz to England to report, arrived here the day following my own arrival here. He tells me that Horatio Pallavicini, with whom he is on very intimate terms, had tempted him to go to Spain, on the pretext of negotiating for the liberation of the Spanish prisoners, especially those held by Pallavicini ; and under cover of this doing a very great service to the queen of England, for which he would be well rewarded. This was to discover certain information which she and her Council were very anxious to obtain. These points are set forth in the enclosed document, written with milk on paper so that if the letters were afterwards rubbed with charcoal dust they could be read. (fn. 7) He did this in my house. As he was in such great need, owing to his having been in England three years, and his property sequestered in Lisbon, he did not dare to refuse the commission, for fear of the danger he ran, being in the hands of barbarous people like the English. He thought, moreover, that this might afford an opportunity of conveying to your Majesty verbally an account of the state of things in England and other particulars which, as he is a sailor, he may be able to give, as to the armaments, etc. He therefore decided to accept the mission, in order to serve your Majesty, and will write to the English what your Majesty may please to direct. He has left there Scipion Borgoni and Eliano Calvo, who will report as faithfully as he has done, addressing their letters to me.
I replied that, as he had been forced to leave in consequence of his business being suspended, owing to the embargo on his property, he had better draw up a statement of what he told me, so that no time might be lost in sending it to your Majesty by this post.
I can only say that, to judge by what I have seen in his letters, and during my personal contact with him now, I believe that if he had not had the wit to fasten himself on to Pallavicini, they would have executed him before this, knowing as I do the English temper.
As Messia comes with very little money, in order to prevent his being detained at Nantes I have furnished him with a credit for 100 crowns. I think this is to your Majesty's interest, so that he may write favourably to the two correspondents he has left in England.
Two days after Messia, Antonio de Vega arrived here. He had gone from England to Flanders to give an account of Drake's fleet, and the designs of Don Antonio, to the duke of Parma. Although he says he wrote from Flanders, and the Duke sent his statement instantly to Spain, I have told him to write here what he wished your Majesty to know, as he for safety has to go by sea. He therefore gave me the advices dated 2nd instant, which I enclose in the general despatch. Vega discussed other matters with me, but I am suffering so much from my illness, and as the matters will have to be decided by your Majesty, and it was not pressing that they should be dealt with at the moment, I told him he had better repeat his discourse to your Majesty when he reached Spain. (fn. 8)
Vega was obliged to leave England owing to the danger he ran, as he was being closely watched, not only by Don Antonio but by the English as well. Don Antonio dissembled with him in order not to offend the French ambassador, (fn. 9) and because he thought that Vega could not refuse to embark with him, and might then be thrown into the sea, or kept in prison, which is his usual way with those whom he suspects. It was also necessary for him to leave so as not to injure the French ambassador in England. When Vega told him how desirable it was that the duke of Parma should be informed what was the English plan when your Majesty's Armada slipped its anchors off Calais, and that, owing to the ports being closed no person could be sent unless from the embassy, he (the French ambassador) very willingly sent his own steward, who carried Vega's letter to the duke of Parma. The steward was recognised in Flanders by some Englishmen, and the governor of Calais also wrote to the Queen informing her that the man had gone to Flanders. Complaints were therefore made by her to this King, who heard them readily enough, as the ambassador is a brother-in-law of M. de la Chatre, and an adherent of the League.
Vega had not made any demands upon me yet for his maintenance, or the cost of his many couriers and despatches, but he asked me now to pay to the French ambassador 186 sun crowns which he had lent him to get out of England. The duke of Parma had informed him that, if he needed money, it would be provided for him in Flanders ; but he had not thought wise to divulge this debt there, as it could not be so secretly paid to the ambassador as here. He also asked me to give him the balance up to 400 crowns, in order that he might arrive at Madrid. This I am doing, giving him credits on Nantes, thinking it to your Majesty's interest that he should not have to travel in need, and fall into the hands of Bearn and the Huguenots, who would send him to England ; or that the French ambassador should be displeased, as his co-operation at this juncture may be valuable. As I have seen how earnestly Vega has been trying to retrieve his past errors, and he has served so well since his submission, I beg your Majesty to favour him as he deserves.
A Frenchman named Ruyvot, a short young man of from 26 to 30 years of age, with a small face and chestnut beard, has been sent from England to Spain by Walsingham for a spy. (fn. 10) He will go to the house of L'onglé, (fn. 11) † who was formerly the secretary of M. de la Mauvissière, late French ambassador in England. I have spoken to him several times, and when he is asked whether he knows me, he will say yes, and this will be a further proof that he is the man. His business in London was to represent a merchant named Guillaume, of Bordeaux. Vega informs me of this and says that Ruyvot calls himself a Huguenot in England.—Paris, 22nd March 1589.
Paris Archives, K. 1570. 515. Document headed—"Information the English require from Spain. Heads of the Commission given to Messia in England."
Of the health of the King and Prince.
Of the disposition of the King and Court to continue the war ; of the preparations or orders with this object.
Of Rebelli's negotiations with them or rather with the Scots.
Of the credit and position of the duke of Medina Sidonia.
Whether Giovanni Andrea (Doria) has been summoned to serve at sea.
Of the opinion of the Court with regard to whom the fault is to be attributed for the failure of the Armada—whether to the duke of Parma or the duke of Medina.
Of the opinion of the Court with regard to the duke of Parma's services and as to his continuance in the government of Flanders.
Of the state of Portugal and the preparations for its defence.
Of the raising of Spanish infantry, and why Marcias left Spain.
Whether Don Alonso de Leyva ever returned. A note of the chiefs lost, whether by wreck, illness, or battle.
Another memorandum of those who are still able to serve the King in war.
Of the Indian flotillas, and the times of their departure and return.
Of Don Luis de Cordoba, brother of the marquis de Ayamonte. If it be true that he has returned to Spain, or whether the man they have prisoner in London who calls himself Don Gonsalve be he.
If the said Don Gonsalve be rich and powerful, as is believed.
If Don Luis de Cordoba be a prisoner, and what is his capability.
And finally, if Don Juan de Idiaquez or other royal Minister should ask about Horatio Pallavicini, I am to give a full account of him, and to say that there is no other person in all England so capable of arranging peace when negotiations are again taken in hand.
Paris Archives, K. 1569.
516. Advices from David.
On the 19th instant Don Antonio and his son Don Manuel left London for Dover, to embark there on the fleet of 60 ships which was awaiting him. Another fleet from Holland was also expected to join them. General Norris and Drake were in Dover, for the purpose of embarking with Don Antonio, as well as a brother of the earl of Essex, who was going in command of the cavalry, Captain Wilmer, (fn. 12) who was in the Netherlands, being his lieutenant. Sir Robert Sidney's brother is also going in command of 10 companies. There are from 500 to 600 gentlemen going with the fleet and about 20,000 soldiers, English and Flemish. They are taking 400 horses for the reiters and 1,200 saddles, with the arms necessary for the raising of as many more cavalry when they land, the horses for which they say they will steal. They take also 200 artillery horses and 30,000 stand of arms, muskets, harquebusses, and lances for the Portuguese ; and are carrying provisions for their whole force for six months. What with English, Flemish, and Dutch, armed ships, transports, hulks, etc. it is calculated that the whole fleet will not fall short of 200 sail. The affair is in earnest, and Diego Botello has informed me of many particulars.
On the 25th Don Antonio and his fleet passed within sight of Rye, where I was. There were 80 odd ships, and as soon as he had passed I embarked on a fishing boat for France in order, if necessary, to go in person to Madrid, and give an account to the King of this and other things contained in this letter.
Don Antonio's intention is, if the weather be favourable, to land somewhere near Lisbon, as he is informed that the city will welcome him. Diego Botello says they will land 15,000 soldiers, the rest of the force with the sailors remaining with the fleet, which is to be commanded by Drake, Norris being General on land. If Drake sees an opportunity he will go with most of the fleet to await the Indian flotillas. (fn. 13)
Don Antonio is on Drake's ship with Diego Botello and five other Portuguese, whilst Don Manuel accompanies Norris with four Portuguese. In a ship of 120 tons there are Cipriano de Figueredo and Antonio de Brito Pimentel, with the rest of the Portuguese, except ten, who go in a patache which I am told takes six men who are to be put on shore first. I hear they are to land at Buarcos, on the Aveiro side of the hill, but much vigilance should be exercised at Cintra and the Cape, and indeed all along the coast. It would be worth while for his Majesty to offer a reward of 1,000 cruzados for every man who is found to have landed in the interests of Don Antonio. These six or more will certainly land. The Barbary ambassador goes in Don Antonio's ship, dressed as a Portuguese, his only object being to carry the news of the landing to the Sheriff, who will then send a force of Moors, or perhaps try to land them in Andalucia. The Sheriff also promises Don Antonio a quantity of powder, harquebusses, and lances, even without payment. He will also lend him 200,000 cruzados ; and Diego Botello tells me that, as security for this, and the munitions, Don Cristobal, his son, is to be given by Don Antonio as a hostage to the Moor. They have great hope that the Sheriff will fulfil his promises, as his ambassador has assured the queen of England he will, and Don Cristobal has written, saying he has been very well received in Barbary. I learn the same from Alfonso Carvalho, who accompanied Don Cristobal, who writes that on their arrival at Sapi, on the 7th January, the Sheriff sent an alcaide to receive Don Cristobal, accompanied by the principal people of the country ; and that Juan Vaz Alcanforado had gone to Morocco for the money. They were saying there that this year Portugal would be taken from the king of Spain.
It will be desirable in his Majesty's interests that orders should be given all over Portugal that there should be no horses, waggons, or mules near the coast, as the thing they fear most, according to Diego Botello, is that this order should be given.
They also fear lest his Majesty, in addition to the infantry, should place 5,000 or 6,000 horsemen in Lisbon, which might attack and defeat them as soon as they land. It is clear that their intention is to land near Lisbon, as they are confident that they will be helped by the Portuguese. His Majesty should therefore issue a proclamation, that any person giving to Don Antonio help, aid, or shelter in any form, shall lose his life. Orders should also be given to preachers to announce from their pulpits, that, under the guise of restoring Don Antonio, the English and Flemings are coming to rob, as they have done elsewhere, and introduce their diabolical sect, profaning the holy temples ; and the people should therefore be urged to stand firm as Christians, and endeavour to conquer the foe. (fn. 14) If they be beaten their pride will be lowered, and perhaps this will enable his Majesty to gain England, and for trade to be free in all parts, which it will never be whilst the English are masters of the sea.
(Advises the arrest of several sympathisers and spies of Don Antonio in Portugal, whose names are given.)
The fitting out of the English fleet cost 400,000 crowns, out of which 80,000 crowns was provided by merchants, and the rest by the Queen, the earl of Essex, Drake, Norris, etc. These 400,000 crowns Don Antonio undertakes to pay within three months after he disembarks, and until the sum be paid, the officers and soldiers are not to be obliged to take any oath of allegiance to him. He also undertakes to pay the soldiers what is due to them within three months, and thereafter to pay them every month. I know this to be the case, as I went with Diego Botello to Drake's house when the contract was translated.
Don Antonio's design to raise money is to seize all the spices, sugars, cottons, salt, shumac, etc., that he finds in the country ; the natives paying for them at current prices, but foreigners being charged increased rates. The owners of the goods are not to lose their property, but to be paid 500,000 or 600,000 crowns. It would be well for his Majesty to adopt this plan. He (Don Antonio) also intends to appeal to the ecclesiastics for help, taking a great part of the church plate to raise money. All this is on the supposition that Don Antonio will take Portugal, which I hope to God he will not. It is quite sufficient reason for refusing to help him, that he has promised to give liberty of conscience to all foreigners in Portugal Before Don Antonio left London he had 500 or 600 general pardons printed, giving an account of the sufferings he has undergone to liberate the Portuguese from subjection to Castile, and declaring the great force he brings with him. Diego Botello tells me that these general amnesties for all offences will be spread in the towns by the men who I say are to go and land in advance. These men should therefore be captured without fail.
I again remind you to advise his Majesty to have a strong garrison at Peniche, as it is whispered that the landing of the force will take place there.
Amongst Englishmen, and in Don Antonio's own household, it is generally admitted that if this expedition fails, Don Antonio will never be able to raise his head again, or find anyone to help him.
It is therefore doubly important that his Majesty should use every effort to defeat him as soon as he lands, and Portugal will thus be assured, and England nearly captured.
If his Majesty's forces do not oppose these people as soon as they land I fear that the Portuguese, seeing them in large numbers, may join them, and it will cost his Majesty much more than if the attempt be nipped in the bud. Above all, there should be many cavalry, as that is what they fear. His Majesty's forces should be concentrated in or about Lisbon, as Portugal will have mainly to be ruled from there.
Those who have most opposed the expedition in England are the Admiral and the governor of the Isle of Wight, Sir Walter Raleigh ; but with all their efforts they could not prevail, as they had against them Walsingham, the Lord Treasurer, the Lord Chancellor, the earl of Essex, Norris, Drake, and the merchants, who are all largely interested in the venture. No men, either soldiers or sailors, have been forced into the expedition ; but all have gone voluntarily, under the impression that they have only to land and load themselves with gold and silver, so confident are they in the hopes held out to them that the Portuguese will take up arms in their favour at once. They also say that they have been promised by Don Antonio the sack of all the towns which do not submit to him, and that when they enter Castile they shall sack every place, and carry war with blood and fire through the country. God grant that this may not happen, as his Majesty will doubtless have taken the necessary measures, according to my advices from England. I repeat, if Don Antonio be beaten this time, he will trouble his Majesty no more, and England also will be humbled.
A cousin of mine, Antonio de Andrada, has to go to Plymouth, and I have instructed him to come and inform you of any change or news of importance he may observe before the expedition sails. If he has nothing to communicate, I instruct him, the moment he lands (in Portugal), to desert to his Majesty's force, and give all the information in his possession to the officer in command.
The earl of Cumberland is fitting out five great ships and two pataches for the Indies, with 1,000 soldiers besides sailors. His pilot is a Portuguese from Viana, who was on board a ship they captured, and was given to the Earl by Don Antonio. The pilot says that the Earl intends to pass close to the Portuguese coast, and if Don Antonio needs help, he will give it him, and if not, he will proceed on his voyage.
Sir Harry Cavendish is also making ready to sail after the expedition has gone. He was going back to China with two ships and a patache, but the latter was lost near Gravesend on the 20th instant, with 42 persons, none being saved. But he will have another built, and will certainly sail on his voyage.
Don Antonio and all his people are going wretchedly provided with necessaries. With the exception of six or eight members of his household, they are unarmed, as the Queen has only given him 400 crowns, out of which he had to pay for the board and lodging of his people. He could only give them three shirts of unbleached linen each. No English gentleman attends him, and no presents were given to him except by the earl of Essex, who sent him a hackney, and the Lord Chancellor, who gave some very rich arms to Don Manuel, which arms had formerly belonged to the duke of Nassau.
The Queen also gave Don Manuel, when he took leave of her, a windmill made of precious stones, valued at 800 crowns.
Don Antonio is determined to be the first to set foot on shore. He takes with him some black bullet-proof armour, the helmet being also proof. He intends to leap ashore fully armed, Don Alonso carrying before him a Christ raised from the dead. His servants, it is said, will land with him. This is the talk amongst us (i.e., the Portuguese), but Don Antonio will first see whether the English will not be offended at it.
I have done all the service to the King that I can do here, which has not been small, and if I am allowed to go to Portugal I may be able to do great service through a brother-in-law of mine, who is one of the principal preachers of the Order of Santo Domingo in Lisbon, and through a brother of mine, who is also a great preacher.
Note.—It will be seen by the above letter that the spy Andrada was extremely well informed with regard to the expedition, nearly all details given by him having been absolutely correct. The first man to land on Portuguese soil was Essex, who struggled through the surf on foot, a proceeding which poor Don Antonio could hardly emulate.


  • 1. In the King's hand :—"He means 250."
  • 2. In the King's hand :—"Here, too, he must mean 250, 25 tons would be too small." Like all of Vega's letters this is very confused.
  • 3. In the King's hand :—"It will be well to give notice of this to Corunna and Santander. I see that this is what they are most likely to attempt." The real design was as stated in this letter.
  • 4. In Philip's instructions to Commander Moreo, sent as his military representative to the princes of the League in May 1589, the following passage occurs :— "As tending to the same end (i.e., the promotion of the Catholic faith), you will accept in the form which appears most convenient the offer made to me by the duke de Mayenne, through the duke of Parma and Don Bernardino de Mendoza, to give me ports and other facilities for my Armada on the coasts of Normandy and Brittany, to operate against England, with the power of drawing ships and seamen, and other necessaries for the Armada, from the same coasts."
  • 5. Mendoza had sent to the King an extremely interesting and detailed relation "of the events that happened at Blois from December the 23rd to 25th, 1588," in which the murder of the Guises is minutely described by an eye-witness. The subject does not come within the scope of the present Calendar, but the document is well worth attention. It is K. 1567. 174. Archives Nationales, Paris.
  • 6. The Sorbonne (University of Paris) had formally declared on the 17th January 1589 that Henry III. had forfeited the crown by his crimes ; and that his subjects were thereby legally released from their allegiance. The duke of Mayenne then assumed the presidency of the provisional government in Paris, under the style of Lieutenant-General of the Realm.
  • 7. The statement referred to follows this letter.
  • 8. The matter mysteriously referred to here is probably the first suggestion of the plot to poison the Queen (or, as I believe, Don Antonio), commonly known by the name of Dr. Lopez.
  • 9. Vega sometimes refers to Chateauneuf as his brother-in-law, but I cannot find any proof of relationship, although he seems to have been on close terms of intimacy with him and lived in his house. Vega also called himself Don Antonio's nephew, which he certainly was not. He was evidently a vain, presumptuous scoundrel and traitor, and his boasted information is very frequently quite unfounded.
  • 10. In the King's hand :—"It will be well to try to catch this man if he is here. Consider how."
  • 11. L'onglé was the French ambassador in Madrid.
  • 12. Probably Sir Roger Williams, who was Norris' second in command. The three brothers Wingfield also took part in the expedition, and one wrote an account of it.
  • 13. The force was landed at Peniche, marching overland to Lisbon ; whilst the fleet remained at Cascaes, at the mouth of the Tugus. The objects of the expedition, as stated in the Queen's orders to the commanders, were first to burn the Spanish fleet in Lisbon or elsewhere ; secondly, to restore Don Antonio to the throne if the public feeling in Portugal was found to be favourable, and thirdly, to capture St. Michael's. The first and third objects were not even attempted, and the second failed mainly in consequence of the loss of time incurred by an attack upon Corunna and the vigour displayed by the Cardinal Archduke Albert in terrorising the Portuguese adherents of the Pretender, mostly common people and friars, the nobles and eaders having been disposed of previously.
  • 14. The measures here suggested were adopted and improved upon by the Cardinal Archduke. See the history of the expedition in "The Year after the Armada."