Simancas: March 1590

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 1590', in Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 4, 1587-1603, (London, 1899) pp. 572-577. British History Online [accessed 1 March 2024]

March 1590

5 March.
Paris Archives, K. 1571.
581. Bernardino De Mendoza to Martin De Idiaquez.
I forgot to say in my former letters that they recently martyred in England two priests whom God had specially chosen for that fate. There had been six priests selected from the Seminary at Rheims, who were awaiting in a French port to cross over to England and labour in the Lord's vineyard. The sailors refused to take more than two, and as they all wanted to go, they decided to cast lots. The fortune fell to one young fellow and an older man. Off Dover they encountered a terrible storm, which drove the ship ashore, and they were rescued almost dead. The people on shore fell to pillage, and the priests were taken to the town to be sworn to acknowledge the Queen as head of the Church. They refused to take the oath, and confessed that they were priests. The Queen and Council were informed, and they ordered them to be hanged at once, which meant sending them to heaven, whilst the English took further steps towards hell.
(Gives an account of the fear and danger in which they are in Paris from hour to hour.)—Paris, 5th March 1590.
Note.—In a letter from Mendoza to the King of same date as the above, he mentions that he can get no direct news from England, the ports being more rigorously closed than ever. To this the King adds an autograph note, saying that they (the English) must have some very good reason for this, and that it will be well for the Spaniards to be on the alert.
5 March.
Paris Archives, K. 1571. Portuguese.
582. Written and Verbal Statements made to Don Bernardino de Mendoza by the Portuguese, Manuel de Andrada, who left London on the 5th March.
He was arrested in London in consequence of the capture of certain letters he had written to Don Bernardino, informing him that Don Antonio was on the point of leaving England in a Flemish ship which Manuel de Andrada had secretly freighted for him ; his object being to go to Dieppe, and see the prince of Bearn, to endeavour to obtain from him 1,500 or 2,000 French soldiers, to join a similar number of Englishmen to be provided by Drake, and to go with him to capture Brazil, or any other Portuguese territory. This design was divulged by Cipriano de Figueredo to one Rodrigo Marcos, who had been left by Andrada secretly in his Majesty's service the last time he came away from England, he, Marcos, being a person of quality, who was in a position to learn by means of Cipriano de Figueredo everything that Don Antonio decided.
Figueredo reported fully to him all that was discussed and settled in Don Antonio's council ; and Marcos was therefore left by Andrada to fill his place when the latter was absent from England. When Don Antonio went from Plymouth to London Marcos followed him, in order to report anything that might happen, and on the arrival there of Andrada from France he learnt that Marcos had not yet written to Don Bernardino as he had had nothing to report ; but that events of importance were then occurring of which information should be sent by both of them. Marcos and Andrada consequently wrote, giving Don Bernardino an account of Don Antonio's plans, but at the same time told his Lordship that he need feel no anxiety about it, as by God's favour we would put an end to this farce. With this end we had arranged that, as soon as we were out at sea, we should offer the master and seamen 15,000 or 20,000 crowns to run us into Dunkirk or Gravelines. This, however, was to be left solely in the hands of Andrada, as he had freighted the ship and the master was a Fleming. (fn. 1)
When the said letters were intercepted, and the design discovered, Don Antonio at once abandoned the voyage, and sent to recall his son who was at Dieppe. His intention had been, if the prince of Bearn refused him the aid he sought, to proceed in the same ship to Hamburg, and thence to go to Constantinople. The discovery of this plan by Marcos was therefore of the highest importance in his Majesty's interests, and he deserves to receive great rewards and honours for it. He is, moreover, ready to serve his Majesty loyally and faithfully in all things.
As soon as Marcos learnt that Andrada had been arrested, he concealed himself in the house of a servant of Don Antonio, where he remained hidden for some time. This servant had been gained over by Andrada to his Majesty's service, and is now in England, for the purpose of reporting all that happens in Don Antonio's house, and with regard to English armaments. In order to bring him to consent to do this, Andrada had to pledge his word that he would marry him to his (Andrada's) cousin, the sister of Antonio de Andrada who died in the service of his Majesty during the Portuguese expedition.
Andrada had also used his influence with a brother-in-law (fn. 2) of Dr. Lopez, the Queen's principal physician, and prevailed upon him by promises to consent to forward to Don Bernardino full reports of armaments in England, both by sea and land, and notice of all Don Antonio's movements and intentions ; the person in question being in a position to be thoroughly well informed on these points. He being, moreover, offended at Don Antonio's having spoken ill of his father, said that if a person were sent to him in the way which has been explained by. Andrada to Don Bernardino, he would kill Don Antonio if his Majesty desired. He did not approve of the arrangement suggested by Dr. Lopez, as will be explained further on. Although Andrada never, on his conscience, urged the person to do this thing, yet, seeing that, although the heretic Queen had been merciful to him, Don Antonio had tried by every means to have him killed, he, Andrada, in revenge for such cruelty, is now disposed to do everything against Don Antonio that his Majesty may wish—even to have him killed. Nothing will be done, however, without his Majesty's orders.
After Andrada had been liberated he made great efforts to convert Dr. Ruy Lopez, who is a person of great influence with the Queen and the Council. Some days after he had spoken to him, and when Andrada was about to leave, the doctor said that as he had saved Andada's life (which he certainly did, for if he had not interceded for him, nothing else could have rescued him) he would confide in him that he had already been approached by Don Bernardino for the purpose of putting the aforementioned person (Don Antonio) out of the way (fn. 3) ; but he had refused, as he was distrustful. He had been the means, he said, of saving from the gallows over 300 Spaniards from Don Pedro's (de Valdes') ship, who had been sentenced to be hanged, and yet for all this he had never received any favour whatever from his Majesty. He said that God had ordained my imprisonment, and made him the instrument of my release, in order that he might be able implicitly to trust me ; and since I displayed so much zeal in the service of his Majesty, I might tell Don Bernardino de Mendoza, that if he (Dr. Lopez) received his Majesty's orders to negotiate an arrangement, this was the time. He was sure, he said, that the Queen would concede any terms that were demanded of her, as she was in great alarm. It was not necessary to write about this, but that I should go to Calais, and write to him from there to the effect that, bearing in mind the clemency the Queen had extended to me, I was discussing with Don Bernardino de Mendoza subjects which would redound greatly to the advantage of her country ; and that if a passport were sent enabling me to go backwards and forwards freely (which he promised should be sent at once) I could come and stay secretly in his house, where Secretary Walsingham would come and speak with me. He (Dr. Lopez) had no doubt that the Queen would come to terms with his Majesty, and would force Don Antonio to do likewise, on the conditions that his Majesty might think just. She would also cause the Netherlands to agree, and he, Dr. Lopez, on his part would endeavour that everything should be done to his Majesty's satisfaction. No one was to know, however, that he had discussed this matter with me. He would continue to let me know the decisions arrived at by the Queen's Council, and when things were sufficiently advanced towards a conclusion to his Majesty's satisfaction, personages might be sent to make the formal contracts. He hopes that everything may thus be settled speedily and advantageously for his Majesty, and he promises if the matter be kept secret, that he will inform me of everything that happens of interest to his Majesty.
If an arrangement be not arrived at, he promises that Don Antonio shall be sent away from England, or detained there as his Majesty may desire ; and he gave me distinctly to understand, that if the present suggested arrangement fell through, he would continue to protect his Majesty's interests in England.
In very truth, no person can report so well as he can, in consequence of his great influence with the Queen and Council. But that all this should be carried into effect, energy and liberality are necessary. By the aid of these two qualities all will end well.
5 March.
Paris Archives, K. 1571.
583. Advices from London.
Frobisher came in a few days ago with five or six prizes, and the earl of Cumberland the same. Chidley has returned but has taken no prizes, most of his men having died.
The earl of Warwick is dead.
There is great alarm here at the fitting out of the fleet in Spain, and men are being raised in all haste to send to Ireland, whither about 3,000 have already gone. They say 10,000 men will go in all, and that Lord Grey will command them.
The Queen has ordered all her ships to be put into commission, and has embargoed all merchantmen on the coast, the rumour being current that the king of Spain will this year send a larger and more powerful Armada than the previous one. They are in great fear. The commanders appointed for the Queen's fleet are said to be the Lord Admiral, the earl of Essex as his lieutenant, Drake, although he is out of favour with the Queen, Frobisher, Master Hawkins, and Sir Thomas Howard ; the land commanders being Lord Willoughby, Norris, who is also out of favour with the Queen, and Sir Roger Williams. The persons known to Don Bernardino will not fail to send punctual reports of the ships that sail for the coast of Spain, etc. and of the troops raised to send to France, Flanders, or Spain.
Don Antonio is here in a miserable condition, staying in the house of a Portuguese woman. The Queen gives him 100l. every month, but with a very ill grace, as her Council has been informed that he speaks badly of her, and wishes to escape secretly from the country. He is therefore much disliked by the Queen and Council. He is dismissing all his servants, as he cannot afford to keep them.
Horatio Pallavicini left here on the 6th for Germany to raise troops for the Queen.
8 March.
Paris Archives, K. 1571.
584. Advices from Tours. (An account of the martyrdom of the Prior of the Dominicans of Paris, captured in the Faubourgs when they were sacked by the prince of Bearn. He was torn into quarters by four horses attached to his limbs. "He was executed on Friday, which is a most unusual thing in France, as Christ died on that day.")
At Ninet la Sarta (Noyen sur Sarthe?), a village four leagues from Le Mans, the English were lodged in the church, and there profaned everything they could lay their hands upon, and broke up the tabernacle of the Holy Sacrament. Some days afterwards, a man was attempting to clean the Church, and set it in order for the celebration of Divine service, when he caught sight of a (consecrated) wafer in the straw. He was about to pick it up, but his hand refused the office, and on reflection he came to the conclusion that the wafer must have been consecrated, and that he was unworthy to touch it. He therefore informed the assistant curate, who came with many persons, and replaced the Host with all due reverence on the high altar, when, in the sight of all persons present, a part of it turned to blood. The Bishop, who was at Le Mans at the time, was informed of this. He is the brother of Rambouillet, and was sent by the late King to Rome. He replied that it was all nonsense, in order to avoid obeying the King, the prince of Bearn. The English, he said, had killed some cows in the church, and the wafer had got stained with the blood, and they were not on any account to worship it. He himself would shortly come and inquire into the matter. Notwithstanding this, the eye-witnesses declare the truth of it, and say great crowds of people flock to see the miracle.
20 March.
Paris Archives, K. 1571.
585. Advices from England of 20th March.
The Queen is arming both by sea and land, and is sending 4,000 or 5,000 men to Ireland, fearing that Sir William Stanley may effect a landing there.
The Queen had never so few friends in Scotland as she has now. The English do not know what to think of the stay of the king of Scotland in Denmark. They fear that perhaps ill may come to them from that quarter.
Aldegonde has arrived here with (intercepted) letters from the king of Spain which he has deciphered. (fn. 4) It is said he is going to the prince of Bearn. I am also informed from a trustworthy source that 400 (40?) ships have sailed from Holland and Zeeland for Spain, Portugal, and the Canaries. Most of them are well fitted. If his Majesty needs ships, guns, and mariners these may be utilised. (fn. 5)
The Council is much perplexed at the fresh preparations in Spain, but they are somewhat encouraged by the prince of Bearn's victory. (fn. 6)
Horatio Pallavicini has gone to Germany with another gentleman, a Frenchman, it is said to raise some reiters.
22 March.
Paris Archives, K. 1571.
586. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
Manuel de Andrada has arrived here, and I have provided him with sufficient money to go to Spain, as he can be of no further use here unless your Majesty wishes him to go backwards and forwards to England under cover of the negotiations for an arrangement proposed in his statement herewith, so that he may be able to report what is going on there. (fn. 7) I give him enough money for his voyage, but I humbly beg your Majesty will have him fitly rewarded for the services he has rendered so zealously and at so much personal risk. —Paris, 22nd March 1590.
30 March.
Paris Archives, K. 1449.
587. The King to Bernardino De Mendoza.
I approve of the suggestion that Secretary Curle and his sister, and the rest of the queen of Scotland's servants, should make depositions before the Pope's legate, who is so disinterested a person, (fn. 8) as to their knowledge of the mistress' intentions in renouncing her dominions in my favour in defect of her son being a Catholic. But you will have to proceed very dexterously, so that it may appear to everyone that the principal object of the investigation is to prove how firmly Catholic the Queen remained to her death, and to make known her wishes, rather than any other reasons, which do not exist. Report to me what is done in this matter.
I note the great Catholic zeal of the Archbishop of Glasgow, and I will consider what provision can be made for him in his need.— Madrid, 30th March 1590.


  • 1. Andrada spoke Flemish, which apparently his colleague did not. He also spoke, or at least wrote, English well.
  • 2. The brothers-in-law of Dr. Lopez are frequently mentioned in the 3rd volume of this Calendar. Their name appears to have been Anes, or some variant thereof ; but their father is referred to as Gonzalo Jorge.
  • 3. Lopez had made this assertion before to Vega, but it was indignantly repudiated by Mendoza.
  • 4. There is in the Hatfield Papers, Part III., p. 82, a very interesting summary of several intercepted letters from and to Philip and Mendoza, etc., dated early in 1589. These may possibly be the series referred to. In the Hatfield Papers, Part IV., p. 6, will also be found summaries of letters written early in 1590, from Thomas Morgan and Yardly to Catholics in England, intercepted in Flanders and sent to Burleigh from Antwerp.
  • 5. The King calls special attention to this passage.
  • 6. The battle of Ivry.
  • 7. The King, in a marginal note, approves of this course being taken.
  • 8. The new Legate had been appointed by Sixtus V. at the instance of Olivares, the Spanish ambassador in Rome. He was Cardinal Gaëtano (Cayetano in Spanish), a Neapolitan subject of Spain ; and both his brother, the duke de Simoneta, and his nephew, were in the pay of Philip.