Simancas: April 1590

Pages 577-580

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

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April 1590

3 April.
Paris Archives, K. 1571.
588. Advices from London sent by David's correspondents (Recounts the names and movements of various Portuguese agents of Don Antonio. To and from Lisbon, etc.)
The earl of Cumberland went on the 2nd April to speak with Don Antonio about going against Terceira, with 4,000 or 5,000 men, under the Portuguese flag, They decided to meet again and discuss the matter on the 15th. I will report. On the coming hither of Amador Esteban from Portugal, all ships were embargoed, and they are being fitted out with all speed.
They have now ready 26 of the Queen's ships and 70 merchantmen, upon which, they say, they will embark 10,000 men with the Admiral, lord Willoughby, and Sir Martin Frobisher.
It is believed that this fleet is for France. There are a great number of troops in the West Country, and on the rest of the coast. Some Frenchmen have arrived here, it is said to ask for men. Don Antonio has dismissed nearly all his servants, and one of these days he, his son, and Diego Botello, will disappear from here and go to Hamburg, as he is not on good terms with the Queen.
18 April.
Paris Archives, K. 1571.
589. Advices from London.
(Relates movements of various Portuguese agents of Don Antonio.)
The fleet, which is being fitted out with much activity, will consist of 148 ships, of which 30 belong to the Queen. A friend of mine assures me that, to judge from the lord Chamberlain's conversation with Don Antonio, it is intended for the islands (i.e., Azores) and will sail under the Portuguese flag. I will report what is done. Secretary Walsingham has just expired, at which there is much sorrow. (fn. 1)
23 April.
Paris Archives, K. 1571.
590. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
As I have several times written to your Majesty, there are no means of getting letters from England hither, but a man who has arrived here, and left London on the 12th, had been in Plymouth, and affirms that he saw there 30 good armed ships ready for sea, which would sail as soon as those which were being fitted out in the Thames were ready. He says that, just as he was leaving London, two little French vessels arrived from Corunna with oranges and salt. They reported that your Majesty had collected a powerful fleet in the neighbouring harbours, but it could not be ready to put to sea for a long time.
The Queen has had a review of 6,000 infantry, raised for the purpose of garrisoning the ports in case they hear that your Majesty's fleet is being made ready. Otherwise they will be sent to France.
This man crossed over to Calais with a messenger sent by the queen of England to Bearn, to congratulate him on his victory. He is to ask Bearn, even if he comes to terms with the League and this place (i.e. Paris), not to make peace with the king of Spain. In order to persuade Bearn to this, the Queen offers to hand over to him all the places she held in Holland and Zeeland. Plessy-Mornay, who is Bearn's closest councillor, and represented him in England when I was there—a great heretic too, who has written many books —said the other day at Montereau Fautyonne that if Bearn and his co-religionists, when they only held a handful of land in France, had always refused to change their faith, much less would they do it now that Bearn was King, with three-quarters of France in his possession, and it was absurd to ask such a thing. No such condition, he said, must be discussed in any negotiations for an arrangement, nor must peace with Spain be made.
On the 21st a Scotsman left Boulogne, one of his ships having been embargoed by the governor of the town. He states that Drake had come out into the Channel, with 15 of the Queen's ships, in consequence of a report that 60 sail of ships had been sighted in Spanish waters. They said that, if any men were landed from your Majesty's fleet in France, the English would land troops also.
This Scotsman also relates that an ambassador from your Majesty had arrived in Scotland, who had been favourably received by the nobility, and had rewarded all those who had sheltered the Spaniards from the Armada. The king of Scotland had not returned from Denmark.—Paris, 23rd April 1590.
Note.—All through the summer of 1590, from April to August, Mendoza's letters to the King are full of heartrending accounts of the distress of the beleagured city. Provisions were at famine price and the population were dying in thousands of pestilence and starvation. The ambassador himself was ill, old, and blind, but, according to his own account, he and Cardinal Gaëtano were the only persons who animated the populace to defend the city. Again and again deputations came to him begging him to induce the king of Spain to take Paris for himself now that the King-Cardinal was dead, and these messages he transmitted to Philip. He was apparently on bad terms with Mayenne, of whom he expressed a very low opinion, and who returned his dislike cordially, refusing (13th November) to have anything to do with so choleric and impracticable a minister. In the meanwhile, for many months he got no letter from Philip in answer to his fervent prayers for release. His own messengers and couriers were caught and hanged by Bearn (Henry IV.), but still some of his letters got through, as we see, and he bitterly complains that his King has deserted him, and has ceased to write at all. In one letter (6th April) he expresses a wish that his death may come from Spain, for then it will be sure to come very slowly. He is all through in mortal terror that he will fall into the hands of Bearn and be sent to England. At length (24th June) the King wrote to him coldly saying that he could not be spared yet, and must still stay. These points are not transcribed fully, as they do not refer to English affairs.
25 April.
Paris Archives, K. 1572.
591. Diego Maldonado to Philip II.
Manuel de Andrada, otherwise David, has arrived here from Paris on his way to your Majesty. He himself will tell the story of his imprisonment and release, and the news from England. He has encountered much difficulty and danger between Paris and this place. He has with him a Portuguese named Rodrigo Marquis (Marcos?), who says he is going on your Majesty's service. Three other Portuguese have arrived, formerly followers of Don Antonio, Juan de Sejas, Lorenzo Correa, and a brother of Domingo Rodriguez. They come to crave your Majesty's pardon, and send enclosed statements of their lives. (fn. 2)
They relate that Duarte Perrin has gone to Barbary with letters from the queen of England and Don Antonio, and is expected to bring back a subsidy of 200,000 crowns. It would be well to capture him at sea. Pedro de Oro, formerly French Consul in Lisbon, has been sent by the Queen and Don Antonio to Bayonne, for the purpose of introducing spies into Portugal and Spain. He has already despatched an English servant of his (personal description of him follows).
The English are in great alarm at the vast fleet they say your Majesty has ordered to be prepared, and the Queen dares not allow one of her ships or men to leave the country. The sending of aid to Bearn, even, has been suspended. The Queen will stand entirely on the defensive.—Nantes, 25th April 1590.
26 April.
Paris Archives, K. 1449.
592. The King to Bernardino De Mendoza.
In conformity with his letter of recommendation brought by Thomas Fitzherbert, an Englishmen, (fn. 3) the King has decided to send him to Rouen to serve him there his communication going through Mendoza. He is to be paid 30 crowns a month.—Madrid, 26th April 1590.
Note.—Two similar letters of the same date relating to two other Englishmen. Anthony Standen sent to Bordeaux and Anthony Rolston to St. Jean de Luz, are in the same packet. The pay of both these agents was the same as that of Fitzherbert. Anthony Standen deserted the Spanish interest in 1593 and returned to England. See his letters in the Hatfield State Papers, part 4, and his copious correspondence with his friend Anthony Bacon abstracted in Birch's "Memoirs of queen Elizabeth."


  • 1. The King has written in the margin against this : "There yes! But it is good news here."
  • 2. These original documents are still in the same packet.
  • 3. This man subsequently became Philip's English Secretary in Madrid, first as assistant and afterwards as successor of Sir Francis Englefield.