Simancas: September 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: September 1589', in Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 4, 1587-1603, (London, 1899) pp. 556-559. British History Online [accessed 5 March 2024]

September 1589

4 Sept.
Paris Archives, K. 1569.
558. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
As I advised your Majesty, Richard Burley duly arrived, and I have listened to his proposal, and the means he possesses for bringing from England what is set forth in your Majesty's dispatch of 21st May, which he delivered to me. Even if the ports of the League were not closed against English trade I think Burley's proposal would be difficult of execution, as I have pointed out in previous letters, because his only means seems to be to utilise the boats that carry priests and others of his friends across. A pilot or a few known sailors might, it is true, be brought across in this way, but certainly not more. He says I must fix a wage to be paid to the pilots and sailors here, and that it will be necessary to maintain them when they arrive at the ports, and provide ships to carry them to Spain, whereas your Majesty only orders me to succour them, and guarantee to the merchants that they will be paid for their goods as agreed. I pray your Majesty to instruct me on the point.
So far as regards any considerable number of sailors, and such victuals as biscuit, fish, salt meat, and cheese, I have written to Don Martin de Idiaquez, saying that from no place could such things be obtained so cheaply and easily as from Brittany. If your Majesty will send me credits for the purpose, I can make the contracts here, on condition that the provisions are to be placed in good condition in any port your Majesty wishes. With regard to the sailors, things in France being in their present state, we shall be able to depend upon Bretons.
A person has arrived here from London, which place he left on the 15th ultimo. He reports that the men who arrived in Drake's ships are so plague-stricken that very few will survive.
The Queen has ordered Stafford, her former ambassador here, to make ready to come to France, but in consequence of the death of the King (Henry III.) he was detained. (fn. 1) It is understood that he was bringing some money and a quantity of powder. The English say they have lost almost 18,000 men from their fleet.
The Englishmen who had gone from Rochelle to join Bearn were in Dieppe, on their way back to England, almost naked. They will take back with them such an account of the war as will not make other Englishmen greedy of seeking it.—Paris, 4th September 1589.
559. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
Sebastian Zamet, (fn. 2) who is a confidant of Épernon, tells me that the latter has sent a person specially to inform him that he is willing, for a consideration, to surrender to your Majesty Metz, Marscoult, and Boulogne, placing under your Majesty's protection also the rest of the places he holds. I asked him (Zamet) what form Épernon wished the surrender to assume. He replied that he had not entered into particulars, until he learned my views on the matter. Before the King died the delivery of Boulogne had been discussed, and it was then suggested that it should be handed over to a treasurer of his for 40,000 crowns. Épernon has, he says, spent 35,000 crowns on it, and if your Majesty will pay him from 40,000 to 50,000, he will surrender the place to your Majesty. As the port is near the Netherlands and so very important for English affairs, since ships might be sent to Boulogne, and troops embarked so speedily that the Englishwoman would be unable to prevent them from landing in her island, I have thought well to lose no time in advising your Majesty of this proposal, in order that instructions may be sent to me.
The duke of Parma wrote to me on the 26th June, that Montelimart would speak to me on the subject of Boulogne, which it was of the utmost importance should be brought to devotion to your Majesty. Montelimart has not arrived, and the duke of Parma has not said anything more about the matter to me ; but I am informed that it was under discussion for him to send a number of troops from Flanders, ostensibly in the name of the League, to capture Boulogne, the design being to occupy that port as a point of attack against England. This would cost very little less than the 50,000 crowns asked for by Épernon, without counting the loss of men, and the suspicion that a forcible capture would arouse in the queen of England. This suspicion, moreover, might cause her to keep armed ships there to prevent the collection of vessels at Boulogne ; whereas if we bought the place, Italians from the Netherlands might be put into it under the guise of Zamet having taken it on his own account (such talk as this being quite common in France). The Englishwoman would therefore not be alarmed until the main body of ships had entered the port. This affair could be easily managed from here, the ships being victualled and armed in Brittany and Normandy.
To this may be added that if your Majesty had Boulogne, Calais would be squeezed between it and the Netherlands, and M. de Gourdan would be unable to refuse you the use of his port to attack England, unless he threw himself into the arms of the English, which he would hardly do. With the two ports at your Majesty's command, the enterprise could be effected very rapidly even in winter, and at a very much smaller cost than the fitting out of a fresh Armada in Spain next summer or autumn. If your Majesty bought the place, moreover, it would prevent its falling into the hands of the English, who, by the help of Bearn, might get a footing there, and overrun Flanders ; thus making it necessary for your Majesty to reinforce your frontiers, which would be costly and troublesome, seeing the trouble that Ostend and Berghen give to Flanders and Brabant. I begged Zamet not to speak of the matter to a living soul. He urged me also to keep it secret, and to send instantly to your Majesty about it, in order that he might advise Épernon, and so avoid his negotiating to sell the place to the queen of England, into whose hands, I doubt not, it will fall if your Majesty does not take it. I have not said anything about it to the duke of Parma, nor will I mention it to Jacobo, (fn. 3) who, however, assures me that he would be glad to see the place fall into the hands of your Majesty.—Paris, 4th September 1589.
7 Sept.
Paris Archives, K. 1449.
560. The King to Bernardino De Mendoza.
Expresses sorrow for the death of Henry III. "God forgive him and so conduct the affairs of France as may be best for His service." In consequence of the confusion now existing, Mendoza is to remain at his post.
We are in great want of reports from England with regard to their designs, and the plots and plans they are hatching. The damaged state in which their fleet returned, and the particulars of their voyage, we learned by means of some ships we sent out for the purpose. Endeavour to obtain frequent and trustworthy advices of all that occurs there, and forward them to us with the speed the case demands. It is to be expected that they and Bearn together are plotting plenty of evil to the cause of religion. It is important that we should know everything, especially about armaments.— San Lorenzo, 7th September 1589.
561. The King to Bernardino De Mendoza (respecting the statement of two Spaniards who have escaped from England).
Two Spaniards who have fled from England relate that they left there in company with Manuel de Andrada, a Portuguese, who told them when they arrived in France that he was the bearer of two letters, one for the king of France and the other for the prince of Bearn. They also understood from him that copies of these two letters would ultimately reach your (Mendoza's) hands, and that Antonio de Goda, a Portuguese who commands a castle and islet at the mouth of Plymouth Harbour, might possibly wish to do some service by surrendering to me what he holds in his charge, if arrangements were made with him. As Manuel de Andrada's intention was to go and see you, you will have already learnt what there is in this, and if you find that anything be done in the matter, which would be most advantageous if it could be managed, you will doubtless have taken the necessary steps. In any case I have thought well to let you know. Report to me.
18 Sept.
Paris Archives, K. 1569.
562. Advices from London.
The soldiers who came to London from the fleet to ask for their pay, finding they could obtain no satisfaction, attempted to raise a tumult in the town, which they tried to burn and sack. This forced the Queen to come from Richmond to Greenwich, and she issued stringent orders for the arrest of the soldiers. Four of them were captured and hanged. One of them, as he was about to be hanged, said to the people that the gallows was the pay they gave them for going to the wars. The Queen had sent to the prince of Bearn 2,000 cannon balls, 1,000 culverin balls, and 70,000 lbs. of powder.
On the 17th, Beauboys Lanoy, the prince of Bearn's ambassador, and M. de Buzenval, who was there on the affairs of the late king of France, dined with the Lord Treasurer, and it is said that they settled there the undertaking the Queen has signed to pay 300,000 crowns to the German reiters to be raised for the prince of Bearn next spring.
Drake is in Plymouth, but there are no preparations for the sailing of a fleet.
2 Sept.
Paris Archives, K. 1569.
563. Advices from London.
The English will raise 20,000 men to succour the prince of Bearn.
Don Antonio is at Plymouth and Drake at home, neither of them daring to stir for fear of the soldiers and sailors from their fleet, of whom, however, there are but few left.
The daughter of the king of Denmark has arrived in Scotland to conclude her marriage with the King.
Some English ships have arrived in London from Muscovy. They report that the Muscovite has forcibly taken two towns belonging to the king of Sweden, one called Riga and the other Revel. The massacre was very great, and the king of Sweden and his son the king of Poland have declared war against the Muscovite.
Horatio Pallavicini was ready to go to Germany to see after the raising of the reiters, but when he heard of the death of the king of France he abandoned his voyage.
The Queen has lent Bearn 70,000 crowns.
The Queen has had a "justification," printed against the Easterlings, setting forth her reasons for capturing the ships that were going to Spain with victuals. The book is in Latin.


  • 1. There is in the same packet as the above letter (K. 1569) a detailed account of the murder of the King, sent by Mendoza to Philip. It is not reproduced in this Calendar as it has no relation to English affairs.
  • 2. Zamet was a Florentine banker in Paris, one of the confidants and intermediaries frequently employed by Catherine de Medici. To judge by the many curious letters written to him by Antonio Perez in his exile, he must have been remarkable for the luxury and profusion of his table.
  • 3. Jacobo was the cipher name of the duke of Mayenne, the commander of the forces of the League.