Simancas: June 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: June 1589', in Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 4, 1587-1603, (London, 1899) pp. 544-546. British History Online [accessed 1 March 2024]

June 1589

6 June.
Paris Archives, K. 1569.
545. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
Is trying to despatch the galleass "Zuñiga" (from Havre de Grâce) as soon as possible, but as she had to be careened to see what damage she had sustained, she cannot leave these spring tides. The Governor has made a bastion for defence at the entrance of the harbour, which has had the effect of silting up the Channel, and it will have to be cleared before the galleass can leave. She will take advantage of the high tides about the end of the month. By that time the sailors and powder will have arrived from Dunkirk. The companies have now been made up to 130 soldiers ; and these, together with the men who are flying from Flanders, will enable them to undertake the voyage. Begs for money to be sent.—Paris, 6th June 1589.
546. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
I have no fresh news from England since mine of the 15th ultimo, except that the Queen's Ministers announce that their plans in Portugal have been discovered, which is probably an artifice to lend further authority to the small strength of their fleet.
The earl of Cumberland is busy fitting out his ships for Moluccas. Reports from Dieppe of the 24th say that ships that have arrived in that port from Spain bring the news that the English fleet had retired from Corunna with some damage ; and that on the date mentioned an English ship had arrived (at Dieppe) saying that a patache sent by Drake to carry the news to the Queen had arrived, and reported that the greater part of the English fleet had been broken up and burnt by your Majesty's galleys. In consequence of their having spread this news the master and sailors of the patache had been sent to prison by the Queen, which makes many people here believe it to be true. (fn. 1) —Paris, 6th June 1589.
21 June.
Paris Archives, K. 1569.
547. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
My latest news from England is dated 24th ultimo, saying that Captain Forbes of the Scots Guard, who left Tours for Scotland, had obtained the king of Scotland's permission to raise troops, but that the queen of England had not provided the money for the purpose ; and it was therefore believed that the troops would not come so quickly. The news in England was that their fleet had suffered much damage.—Paris, 21st June 1589.
Note.—In a letter from Mendoza to Idiaquez, dated 17th June, the loss of the English force before Corunna is reported to be 2,500 men.
548. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
The King and Bearn are very friendly, but they have no forces to help the queen of England in the invasion of Spain. This King wishes the English troops in the fleet (in Portugal) should come hither and help him, and Stafford went to England about this. The Queen would not consent.
I will proceed with Richard Burley as your Majesty commands. He must have good connections there (in England), as he offers to export things which even in time of peace are not allowed to be sent out. Thomas Fitzherbert, respecting whom Father Persons reported to your Majesty, left for Spain viâ Italy, some time ago ; his intention being to beg some favour of your Majesty, in consideration of the good correspondence he had maintained here with me.
Prays to be instructed as to what arrangement he is to make on his departure for the payment of their pensions to Gilbert Curle and the apothecary Gorion.—Paris, 21st June 1589.
549. Bernardino De Mendoza to Juan De Idiaquez.
My eyes no better. (fn. 2) As this King has declared me to be his enemy, I hope soon to be able to salute you personally, and make use of the remedies for my eyes. The marquis of Cerralbo has borne himself (i.e., against the English in Corunna) as befitted a soldier of the duke of Alba, and I hope the English will all return with broken heads as they deserve. If his Majesty does not resent this King's nonsense as it merits, and keeps me here as his ambassador after what has happened, we shall all have our tails between our legs. I do not speak for myself, for I am blind, but others in a like position will feel the effect and will be unable to show a firm front under similar circumstances. But I will not leave here until I have got my servant back, if I have to sell my shirt to do it. (fn. 3) —Paris, 21st June 1589.


  • 1. The news was, of course, entirely unfounded.
  • 2. Mendoza had been operated upon for cataract some years before, but had become worse as time went on. For many months before this letter he had been ill with worry and anxiety, owing to his invidious position as representative of the Catholic King to Henry III., who was in arms against the League. In his private letters to Idiaquez his complaints were constant. He was, he said, in hourly danger of assassination, insulted by the King and his Huguenot courtiers, without money for pressing needs, and so blind that he can only just see objects dimly as through a dark glass.
  • 3. Mendoza had followed the King for some time, staying at Blois, St. Dié, and other places, but in January, 1589, he conceived the idea that Henry III. intended to have him assassinated. He therefore left St. Dié to be near the King's person at Blois, and to ask that a fitting lodging should be appointed for him there. The King appointed for the purpose the Castle of Arnault, two leagues off, which Mendoza says is far away and isolated ; and he refused to go thither, begging for a lodging at Blois, about which some difficulty was raised, which confirmed Mendoza's suspicions that evil was intended to him. He then feigned a necessity to go to Havre, to see about the galleass, but he was formally forbidden to leavé Court by Henry III. He then went (21st January) to a village near Blois called the Chaussée de St. Victor. "I am," he said to the King, "here serving you as best I can, but wherever I am there is sure to be a storm and I am running under close reefed sails fore and aft" ; to which Philip appends a note, asking what he means. Shortly afterwards he fled to Paris, and Henry III. said that in future he must regard him as an enemy. Mendoza was as haughty as the King, and refused to make any advances towards a reconciliation, although he was urged to do so by Philip and Idiaquez. In June Mendoza's favourite old servant, Hans Oberholtzer, with despatches, was captured by the French King's forces whilst on his way to Spain, as it was asserted that Mendoza had forfeited his privileges as an ambassador. The servant was captured only two posts from Paris by count de la Rochefoucauld, and was claimed by Bearn as a prisoner of war. Mendoza wrote to Henry threatening him with the vengeance of his master ; whom he urged to imprison Longlée and Forget, the French envoys in Spain. But Henry was as determined as Mendoza and the latter had, with a bad grace, to give an apologetic explanation of his conduct before Oberholtzer was released ; although then the French King said it was only to please Philip and not his ambassador. Mendoza's position in June had become really so impossible as Spanish representative near Henry III. that Philip suggested that another envoy should be sent for that purpose, whilst Mendoza remained in Paris. But Mendoza was fractious and angry, and said that the moment such an envoy entered France he would retire, come what might. It was therefore arranged in July that the duke of Medina Celi should go to the King, ostensibly to condole for the recent death of his mother, and Mendoza might then retire without loss of dignity. But on the 2nd August Henry was assassinated, and Mendoza was obliged to stay on, writing all the autumn violent, angry letters to Idiaquez, chafing at the delay. Then came the siege of Paris, and he could not get away. During the siege the old soldier's spirit came back. Blind and ill as he was, he was the mainstay of the defence of the beleaguered capital, exhorting the soldiers, visiting the outposts, feeding the famished, and giving advice to the defenders.