Simancas: April 1587

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: April 1587', in Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 4, 1587-1603, (London, 1899) pp. 59-78. British History Online [accessed 4 March 2024]

April 1587

Paris Archives, K. 1566. 16.
59. Sampson's Advices from England.
Don Antonio is still in England, in the same need as before, and although he said he was going with Drake in his fleet, his servants saw no signs of his going when the report was written.
The queen of England had sent one of her Councillors to Chateauneuf, the French ambassador, to say that the affairs she had had in hand, and her anger at the death of the queen of Scotland had prevented her from receiving him, but that when he wished for an audience she would be pleased to see him. The ambassador had replied that he had sought an audience in order the further to justify himself, but as he had been so often refused and had sent an account of it to his master, he would not request audience again until he received instructions from the King. The Council here (i.e., in France) has approved of this answer.
The Councillor who went to take the message to Chateauneuf gave him to understand that the Queen was so anxious to maintain her friendship with France that she might even liberate Trapes, the ambassador's gentlemen who was imprisoned in the Tower of London. When the letter was read to the King (of France), at this point he exclaimed "She will have to do so, for she has no right to lay hands on my subjects. If Trapes has offended I will punish him."
Note.—The above report is accompanied by a letter asking the King to pay Sampsom more than the 28 crowns a month he receives, as it is impossible for him to live in Paris for that sum. He is here against his will and his reports from London are valuable.
11 April
Paris Archives, K. 1448. 114.
60. The King to Bernardino De Mendoza.
What you say with regard to my rights to the Throne of England, in consequence of the death of the queen of Scotland, is correct and well set forth, but it will be best that you should not speak of the matter at present or suggest any such intention, in order not to awaken the evil action which would be exerted in all parts from France if they thought I was going to claim the succession, as they would do if you talked much about it. The only thing that should be done is for the archbishop of Nazareth, prompted by his zeal for religion, to write to Rome pointing out the evils that certainly would result if a heretic succeeded to the throne, and saying that, as the king of Scotland is a heretic, it would be well to deprive him. He might convey this to the Pope but should go no further. If you can get him to do this it will be well, but abstain from all other action until further orders, which shall be sent to you in due time. In the meanwhile keep me well informed of all you hear said about it in France, England, and Scotland, and also how Muzio takes it. You will be very careful how you speak to him about it, and, indeed, to anyone, as your prudence will dictate to you.
The 8,000 crowns which were not sent to the queen of Scotland and are now offered to be restored to me, may be disposed of as follows :—The 4,000 which were handed to her treasurer and have to be recovered from her estate I will grant to the archbishop of Glasgow, her ambassador, to whom you may say that I make him a present of the money. The 4,000 still in hand you will receive and apply 1,000 at present to the objects required by those who are secretly preaching our holy faith in Scotland, the other 3,000 being employed in paying the English pensions. As it is on many accounts important that you should have at hand so good an instrument as the archbishop of Glasgow, you will use every effort to get him to remain in Paris, arranging through Muzio for the king of Scotland to order him to stay there, if not as ambassador, then as one of his late mother's servants who is well versed in past affairs. Or he himself might plead his own affairs for staying, or his desire to avoid the heresy so rife in his own country. You will avail yourself of his aid whenever necessary, and if you think it will be better you may avoid telling him about the 4,000 crowns all at once, but give him the money by instalments as it is recovered from the late Queen's revenue. I leave it to you to do as you think best.—San Lorenzo, 4th April 1587.
5 April.
Paris Archives, K. 1566. 91.
61. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
By letters from England dated 13th ultimo, I learn that the Queen, seeing but small hopes that the Hollanders would help with the 30 ships they promised, had ordered the number of English vessels to be increased beyond the 15 merchantmen which I reported were being prepared. She will add four ships of her own and some of the best merchantships she can get. They have chosen the galleon "Butrigul" (fn. 1) a ship of 400 tons which I know well, as having fought in Brazil with some of your Majesty's vessels when I was in England, and came back much damaged. She carries 40 iron pieces and three or four of bronze. Another vessel is the "Royal Merchant" of 250 tons, armed with 26 or 30 iron, and some bronze, pieces. The "Primrose" of 200 tons, also armed with iron pieces ; and two other ships of 150 tons each, similarly armed. These, with the other additions, will increase the number of vessels to 24. They have ordered 2,500 bullocks to be slaughtered and the meat salted to provision the fleet, in which it was intended to send 2,500 men, this proportion of a bullock per man being the usual victualling on board of English ships for a voyage of over four months.
These 24 ships were in the Thames above Gravesend, ready to sail, the guns all on board but no stores or men, the crews not having been raised yet. It will take at least 18 days to barrel the salt meat. It was understood that the four of her own ships which the Queen would contribute were the "Philip-Mary," of 700 tons, the "Elizabeth Fortune," 600 tons, the "Dreadnought," 400 tons, and the "Swiftsure," 400 tons. These four ships are all armed with bronze pieces. The Queen had not, however, decided to send out this fleet pending the return of Lord Buckhurst from Holland, with a statement as to the position of the rebels. She also wishes to see what will come of these seizures in France and England.
A person who left London on the 15th ultimo reports that no orders had been given for manning or victualling the ships, but he had seen the four Queen's ships above-mentioned enter the Thames from Rochester ready for sea, with the "Triumph," the "White Bear" and the "Elizabeth Jonas," which are the three largest ships the Queen has. They had been hauled out of their usual berths at Rochester into the Thames.
The supplies had been granted by Parliament with the following additions. Laymen are to pay double the ordinary amount, and the ministers, whom they call ecclesiastics, are to pay 12 per cent., instead of 8, as usual. In addition to this they have voted a special grant called a "benevolence" in consideration of the war with your Majesty. All this money has to be paid within two years, and although no person in England is privileged or exempt, the ordinary vote in each Parliament does not exceed 140,000 or 150,000 crowns ; so that even if the present amount is doubled it will only reach 300,000, and perhaps another 40,000 for the benevolence.
Waad is still here, in the ambassador's house, and although he has pressed several times for his passport, the King does not decide to give it to him. I understand that Walsingham sent to tell Chateauneuf that they had better be careful how they treated Waad, because the same treatment should be meted out to him (Chateauneuf). The latter replied that Waad was not of sufficient rank for him (Chateauneuf) to be made responsible for his treatment. The English ambassador here (in France) would be his security.
I also understand that the Queen says she will not release Trapes, the French gentleman she arrested, or Nao, the queen of Scotland's secretary, unless this King delivers Morgan to her. He is the servant of the queen of Scotland whom this King has kept in the Bastile for the last two years.
Letters from Scotland, dated 21st ultimo, confirm the earl of Morton's raid into England. The king of Scotland had summoned his Parliament and nobility, and had intimated to them his desire to be avenged on the queen of England for her cruelty to his mother. He did not wish, however, that the attempt to satisfy his vengeance without sufficient resources should bring fresh trouble upon him, and for this reason, the strength of both parties being known, it would be necessary for him to seek the help of other Princes. He asked the Parliament to advise him as to the best means to obtain this. They replied that it would be well for ambassadors to be sent to your Majesty and the kings of France and Denmark, from whom he might request aid with some hope of obtaining it. The King approved of the advice and directed that fitting persons should be chosen for the missions. Don Antonio's need was daily increasing— Paris, 5th April 1587.
5 April.
Paris Archives, K. 1566. 90.
62. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
I have just heard from a good quarter that a Scots merchant, who says he is the king of Scotland's banker, is in Spain with 12 well fitted English boats freighted with merchandise from there (i.e., England), the mariners also being English. It would be well for your Majesty to send orders to the ports to have this merchant arrested. His name is Hunter (fn. 2)
The queen of England's secretary writes to the new confidant, telling him to be careful what reports he sends from here ; as his recent intelligence with regard to the grief of the King and nobles here for the death of the queen of Scotland has prevented the Queen from carrying into effect certain important resolutions she had adopted very beneficial to the kingdom. The man in his house (Waad) has also received a letter dated 13th ultimo, in the confidant's cipher, saying that the Queen had not decided anything about sending out the fleet, as the intelligence sent by her ambassador here had cooled her. The ships to be contributed by the Hollanders to the expedition were not ready, as had been expected. My former advices as to the number of ships which would form the expedition are confirmed from this and other quarters. The confidant promises to send me instant advice when he learns whether the business is really going forward or not
Count de Olivares writes that Cardinal Sanzio has asked him to speak to his Holiness about promoting Dr. Allen to the cardinalate so that Cardinal Sanzio may at the same time propose the name of the archbishop of Glasgow, who is so deserving and so desirable a person for the conversion of Scotland, which cause would be much aided by his elevation. I have written to the Count saying how intimate the Archbishop is with Muzio, and how strongly attached to your Majesty's service. So far as I can judge, I say, not only should no obstacles be thrown in the way of his elevation, but the Count should help to the best of his ability, although it may have to be done secretly. He will I am sure, be as favourable a Cardinal for your Majesty's interests as any, and will be a most useful minister in the affairs of Scotland and England.—Paris, 5th April 1587.
7 April.
Paris Archives, K. 1566. 94.
63. Advices from Rouen.
A French merchant arrived yesterday from England who assures us that Captain Drake had left the Thames with 40 well-armed ships, five belonging to the Queen, of 800 or 900 tons each, and carrying 5,000 men. The merchant saw the fleet pass before Rye on the way to Falmouth, where they were to join 40 or 50 more ships, which were ready ; so that the number would reach 100 sail. The rumour was that this fleet was going to encounter the Indian flotillas. We are astonished at the great diligence and secresy with which this fleet has been equipped, for up to the present not a word of it had reached us here. To further satisfy myself, I spoke personally to the merchant yesterday, and he assures me he saw the ships pass and had been on board of them. If this be true it is ground for great anxiety, as much damage may be done to the Indian flotillas.
9 April.
Paris Archives, K. 1566. 97.
64. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
The new confidant informs me that the English ambassador has seen Secretary Pinart to ascertain from him, as the queen of England's pensioner, the feeling of the King towards the Queen, in the matter of the queen of Scotland's death. Pinart replied that, although everyone advised him to break the alliance with his mistress, he did not believe the King would do so. He (Pinart) would exert himself in the matter in a way that should convince the Queen that what she had done for him had not been in vain. The friend of the new confidant also assures me that he told him in conversation over eight months ago, that he (the ambassador) had paid to Pinart, in one sum, from the Queen 3,000l., which is equal to 10,000 sun-crowns. The ambassador has also remarked that there is a certain redhat in Rome very friendly to the queen of England. I am trying to discover his name for your Majesty's information, but I can hardly believe it.
I have written to count de Olivares saying that if the theologians raise no religious difficulty as to the archbishop of Glasgow's acceptance of the mission sent to him by the king of Scotland, it will be much more advantageous for your Majesty's interests that affairs should be in his hands rather than in those of any other person, as he is so devoted to your interests. (fn. 3) —Paris, 9th April 1589.
9 April.
Paris Archives, K. 1566. 98.
65. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
Fresher news than those contained in my last have arrived from England. I am informed by an Italian solidier, who had been prisoner in Holland and was exiled from there, passing through England on his way hither, that when he left London on the 23rd ultimo both the Queen's ships and the merchantmen were still in the Thames. According to this the enclosed news sent from Rouen seems not to be altogether true. The Frenchman does not say the day he left England and saw Drake's fleet pass ; and it is incredible that the number of ships and men he mentions could have been raised and despatched in the time, especially in the face of the information given by the new confidant as to the vessels they had decided to send, and the condition of the victualling, as advised in my last. Still I have thought well to enclose the Rouen news, in case the report should reach your Majesty by some other channel and you may thus know the origin of it. If any ships passed the Channel on their way to Plymouth, the Frenchman of course would exaggerate their number as usual, to magnify the power of the queen of England, and they would probably be destined to guard that end of the Channel and strengthen the position in Ireland. If they went to join others in the port and sail in company, as they often do from there, and indicate an intention on the part of the Queen to send out the fleet, I shall learn all about it on the earliest opportunity from the Fleming I have there (Plymouth) on the watch, and from other quarters, and will instantly advise your Majesty. As the Queen-mother has brought back with her the few soldiers the King had against the Huguenots the latter are now unchecked, and I greatly fear for my despatches of 27th February. If they have escaped I am afraid they will be delayed. This is why I write so often by Bordeaux.
The French ambassador in England writes that the Queen has sent him word that, although personally she had good reasons for refusing to receive him, yet as he was a Minister of the king of France, she would do so when he pleased. He replied that when the Queen had impartial inquiry made she would find that he had only proceeded as an honourable gentleman should, and he had no intention of asking for audience until he was ordered to do so by his master, whom he would apprise of the message. I do not know what answer will be sent him, but I have just heard that M. de Belièvre and Secretary Pinart have gone to see the English ambassador, and I will try to learn their object for your Majesty's information. The English ambassador has not been received by the King.
Letters from Scotland of 21st ultimo report that the King and Council have appointed the archbishop of Glasgow ambassador here for the purpose of asking this King for help. The King (of Scotland) said he was delighted that they had proposed the Archbishop for the post, as he considered him the fitiest person, and his despatches might be sent off at once. He had also said that as the Archbishop was to be employed thus, he wished his archiepiscopal and patrimonial property to be restored to him. If this be done it will show that he (the King) is not so entirely subject to the ministers (i.e., clergy) nor so much opposed to the Catholics. A Frenchman resident in Scotland sometimes writes to the King, and I understand that he informs him that the king of Scotland had said he would be glad if the Christian King would help him with 4,000 paid soldiers for five or six months. I am not sure of this, but now that the appointment I have mentioned has been made, no negotiations will be undertaken except through the Archbishop, and as the question of his acceptance of the embassy from a King who has not submitted to the Pope is one that must be decided by his Holiness, I have written to Count de Olivares about it.
I enclose a little book in Spanish, written by the bishop of Ross, giving the English genealogies. He has had it published also in Latin, French, and English, and it shows that your Majesty is the legitimate heir to the Crown, since the king of Scotland is incapacitated by heresy. Margaret, the eldest daughter of King Henry VII., being left a widow by James IV., king of Scotland, she fell in love with and married Archibald Douglas, earl of Angus, who had a wife living at the time, and the daughter of the marriage was a bastard, and was so declared by the Scots parliament in her suit against the earl of Angus to establish her legitimacy. The result of the suit was that the earldom of Angus was adjudged to its present possessors, and her (Margaret Stuart, countess of Lennox) descendants are excluded from the succession to the English crown, and your Majesty thus becomes the legal heir, as descending in a straight line from John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster, by the right of his wife, whose eldest daughter Catharine married Henry III. of Castile, and the younger, called Philippa, married John I. of Portugal. (fn. 4)
This King says that Don Antonio is starving in England, and the Queen has her eye upon him to prevent him from leaving the country.—Paris, 9th April 1587.
9, 12, 11, April.
Paris Archives, K. 1566. 101.
66. Document headed "True Advices from England."
On the 27th March proclamation was made in London ordering the instant embarcation of the crews and troops of the 10 ships with Francis Drake.
Of these 10 ships four belonged to the Queen, their burden being respectively 400, 300, and 120 tons ; very well armed with bronze guns. The others are merchantmen, the largest 200 tons, but most of them 120 to 150 tons, with iron pieces. The Queen's flagship took out 200 men, the others of hers a lesser number, whilst the merchantmen carried 60 to 100 men, according to their capacity. The total number of men taken was about 1,000.
Drake went on board near Dover, and sailed with the ships to Plymouth, where the fleet was to rendezvous. Off the Isle of Wight he was joined by 12 merchant ships which had been sent by the Queen from the Thames, and they all proceeded together to Plymouth.
They take victuals for over four months.
More troops were to join them at Plymouth, raised in Devonshire and Cornwall. The soldiers and sailors together to be thus raised would number 2,500 or 3,000.
Drake took orders for the ships which might be in the Western ports, or at sea with letters of marque, to accompany him. Those in port were expected to reach 17, and those at sea 23 ; so that altogether they hoped to enter Spanish waters with 60 sail and about 3,000 men, besides those who might be in the ships bearing letters of marque.
The Queen had ordered 14 other ships to be made ready under Captain Winter to reinforce Drake, if necessary.
With the exception of Drake himself, not a soul on the fleet knows what the object of it is, but various surmises are afloat ; one to the effect that they are going to prevent the junction of his Majesty's fleet in Spain, destroying a portion of it, as it will have to be fitted out in various ports. Others say the design is to intercept the Indian flotillas, and this seems the most probable.
Drake was strictly ordered not to stay at Plymouth longer than necessary, but to sail at once.
It is not thought that they carry troops adequate to attempt any enterprise on land, or at most only to sack some unprotected place. Don Antonio did not accompany them, although it was said previously that he would do so. (fn. 5)
10 April.
Paris Archives, K. 1566. 102.
67. Sampson's Advices from London.
Don Antonio is still at Court and in despair of getting anything satisfactory. It is thought that the Queen keeps him there to prevent his escape.
Alarm is felt here at the fleet which we are told from France the Pope and the king of Spain are preparing to attack England. Drake and his fleet have left the Thames, but we have no news of his having sailed from Plymouth. He takes sealed orders which are to be opened at sea, so that his purpose is unknown. He has instructions, however, that, until the Queen's orders are fulfilled none of the pirates are to leave him, but afterwards each one may seek his fortune in his own way.
The Parliament is opposed to the Queen's acceptance of the sovereignty of Flanders, but think she should help with money and men, as she did last year under the pretext of religion.
The earl of Leicester has gone to the baths at Bristol (Buxton?), and it is said he will delay his departure for Holland until the return from there of Lord Buckhurst.
Secretary Davison has been fined 20,000 crowns, and sent to prison during the Queen's pleasure, for having given the warrant for the execution of the queen of Scotland without the orders of the Queen.
12 April.
Paris Archives, K. 1566. 102.
68. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
The object of the visit of Belièvre and Secretary Pinart to the English ambassador, mentioned in my letter of the 9th, was to reply to him from the King about the requests he was urging for a passport to be given to Waad to enable him to return to England at once. The King said he would not give a passport unless the Queen released Trapes, his ambassador's gentleman, and gave him a passport to come hither.—Paris, 12th April 1587.
12 April.
Paris Archives, K. 1566. 104.
69. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
As I was sending off my despatch by Bordeaux, a man arrived here, sent by my man in England, to give me a full verbal account of affairs there. Drake issued an order on the 27th (new style), for all the men who were to go in the 10 ships to embark instantly, which they did, and as letters would not pass this man was sent to me. Out of the 10 ships, four belonged to the Queen. The flagship was 400 tons burden, and carried nearly 50 bronze pieces, and about 200 men ; the vice-flagship was of 300 tons, with the same armament and rather fewer men. The other two Queen's ships were of 120 tons and 36 guns each. The six merchant ships were of 200 tons (the largest), and the rest 120 to 150 tons, all armed with iron guns, and with 60 to 100 men each. The whole fleet carried 1,000 men and victuals for four months. They left Gravesend the same day (27th March) for Plymouth, where they were to be joined by the armed ships which were in the river and on the coast, and the English pirate ships belonging to the West country. The intention was for Drake to take all these ships to encounter your Majesty's flotillas. My man would try to find means to go to Plymouth and inspect the ships that might collect there, and learn other particulars. As, however, it was impossible for him to send me information swiftly on the point, owing to the great strictness in the English ports and the impossibility of getting an English ship to go to a French port for fear of arrest, he thought best to send this man over in a fishing boat which could put him ashore in France, and then return to England. He will again adopt this course if no better opportunity offers. The man tells me he could not come quicker, owing to the great difficulty of leaving England, and to his being stopped and examined at Calais, Boulogne, and every town in Picardy. In order to lose no time in informing your Majesty, I am sending this and the other letters I had written, by special courier going with all speed. I am trying to get his passport at once, but I am afraid it will be delayed, as usual.
Whilst I was awaiting the passport there arrived here Luis Ferreira de Melo, of Terceira, who was captured by the English in the St. Thomé flotilla, and has been imprisoned in England. He confirms the above news, and says he left London on Good Friday, and when he passed Gravesend, saw the men hurrying on board the 10 ships. On Easter-day Drake and his wife went on board off Dover. He recognised them because the English boat that took him across to France passed through the midst of the fleet, and he stayed with the ships for two days, saying that he was going to Plymouth, for fear that they might prevent him from going to France. On the 1st of April he arrived at Boulogne, and the English fleet was not then to be seen. He assures me there were only 10 ships, and exactly confirms the particulars already given. The Frenchman who said he saw the fleet pass Rye may have told the truth on that point, but must have lied as to the number of ships.—Paris, 12th April 1587.
13 April.
Paris Archives, K. 1566. 106.
70. The Duke of Parma to Bernardino De Mendoza.
As I said in my last, I had summoned the Scottish gentleman (Bruce), and begged you to send him to me speedily because, as you have so truly urged, it was most important to keep him well in view, for it would upset the Englishwoman to find herself attacked on that side, besides being a great thing to get a footing and a free port in the island, in view of eventualities. This, and the fate of the queen of Scotland, convinced me that it would be well not to delay any longer in giving them some hope and information as to what could be done for them. When the gentleman arrived here I made much of him, and said that he was already aware by the letters from his Majesty and your lordship, that the King was resolved to aid the righteous intention of the Scots Catholics, and I was expecting hourly to receive advice of His Majesty's intentions on the matter ; since the time had now arrived when action could be taken. I was glad, therefore, that he (Bruce) was with me, as he could give me information on certain points about which I was in doubt. I had several conversations with him, and from one thing to another we at last got to the question of the difficulty that might arise of his Majesty's sending them the forces they wanted from Spain, if it should happen that he had to reinforce us here very heavily, or was pressed to guard his own coasts, and he might prefer to assist them from here. In such case, I asked, how could boats be got to take the men across, as they knew I had none, and could get none. He unhesitatingly said that there would be no difficulty about that, as there were plenty of boats in Scotland, and we arranged that as we are in need of grain here, and to conceal our design, he should freight (i.e., in Scotland) 30 vessels to go to Dantzic, to load wheat for various places. Orders might be given and arrangements made with the captains of the five or six ships that usually go with them as an escort, to bring them to Dunkirk, where they would enter at the end of July or middle of August. Thirty more ships might also be got ready on various pretexts to leave (Scotland), and to arrive (at Dunkirk) at the same time, and in most of them we could ship the troops they desire, and leave a few to keep up the communication. He facilitates the matter so much, and is so confident about it, that I have decided to send to you the 10,000 crowns he requests for the freighting of the ships ; so that, after he has given you sureties, you can give him the money, and send him off as soon as possible to carry out the plan. But as the most important point of all this is that they should assure us the port of Petty Leith for the reception and shelter of the ships and men, you will have to press for this to be done, and that they (the Catholics) should go on consolidating their party, to be ready for the time when they are do to their part. I am so enamoured of this project, and am so sure of its being advantageous to His Majesty's service that you may depend upon my neglecting nothing ; for I will strive with all my heart to carry it to success.
It is most important that everything should be done secretly, so that the Englishwoman should learn nothing of it, and be unprepared. I am aware that you are as careful about secrecy as I am, but I cannot help mentioning it as success depends upon it.
19 April.
Paris Archives, K. 1566. 109.
71. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
The English news I send in the general letter are faithfully conveyed to me by the new friend from letters dated the 7th instant. The intelligence sent by my Fleming about the number of ships and men is exactly confirmed.
The friend assures me that Drake has orders to stay as short a time as possible at Plymouth, but that no living soul but the Queen and the Treasurer knew what the design was to be. The Queen would not have even the Lord Admiral informed, as she considers him a frank-spoken man ; but, judging from general indications and the haste in sending Drake off, it would seem as if the intention was to try to prevent the junction of your Majesty's fleet, which had to be equipped in various ports, and if they succeed in breaking up a portion of it, then to proceed on the Indian route and encounter the flotillas. To this end they had let out a few words to Drake about Cadiz being a good port to burn the shipping in, if a good fleet were taken thither. (fn. 6)
The number of men Drake was taking (as no account can be made of those who go in the pirate ships) is not large enough to undertake any enterprise of importance on land, excepting to sack, and it is asserted that Don Antonio has not gone with them, as it is not to be expected that the Queen would risk sending him with so few troops. As it is impossible to get prompt advice of Drake's departure from Plymouth conveyed to your Majesty, I send the news up to the present, to enable your Majesty to order the Indian flotillas to be apprised and every port to be on the alert down to the Straits and the islands of Azores and Canary.
Parliament had risen and had voted to the Queen voluntarily an extraordinary grant to maintain the war in Holland for three years. The rebels will therefore be better supplied, and the clever efforts of the duke of Parma to get the States to elect Count Hohenlohe for General, and to abandon the Queen and Leicester, will be impeded. This would have facilitated an agreement with your Majesty, but that is rendered more difficult now by the Queen's having increased the monthly subsidy she paid to the States from 12,000 crowns to 17,000 crowns, and if that be insufficient to 20,000, which could well be met by the new grant. Leicester had orders to go to Holland, and at once to take the field with the army, but they said it would be very necessary to use the utmost diligence to discover the plans being hatched by the Spanish ambassador in France (fn. 7) ; as they had been informed by friends in France that your Majesty was equipping a fleet of 60 sail, but they knew better from Spain itself, where on the whole coast there were not 40 ships ready for sea, and he might therefore judge, now they had sent out Drake, whether they were afraid of Spain this year or not.
The French ambassador (in England) was in great fear that the going of the Archduke Mathias to England might be a sign of agreement with your Majesty as to hostages for the capitulation, which fear he had mentioned to Walsingham, and asked him whether it was true the Archduke was coming. He replied that he had heard of no such thing. In conversation with a friend afterwards the Secretary had assured him that he really knew nothing about it, or whether the Treasurer had negotiated anything of the sort by the Queen's orders. Horatio Pallavicini writes to him (Walsingham?) saying that he saw the Archduke Mathias at Hamburg, who expressed himself as being very dissatisfied and inclined to the Queen's religion, but notwithstanding this he wrote to the ambassador telling him to be careful to report the feeling evinced in France as to the going of the Archduke, and said that although the (French) ambassador reported that the anger felt at the death of the queen of Scots made him fear a rupture between France and his mistress, she was under no apprehension of it, as she knew that in the present condition of France it was necessary for that country to keep friendly with England. If peace were not made in France the reiters would enter, but if an arrangement were arrived at the reiters would go to Flanders, the money having been already provided for raising them. The new friend is of opinion that however much this King may storm he will not break with the Englishwoman.
As regards Scotland, although the news from France represented the King (of Scotland) as vowing vengeance against the queen of England, they (i.e., Stafford's correspondents) were persuaded that he would not be so ill advised as to throw away his good chance of the succession, or incur the enmity of those who had advocated his mother's execution, but the ambassador was directed to be on the alert to discover what plans the Scots were hatching here.
The Queen had sent a man secretly to Scotland, who was known to have arrived safely, and he would find no lack of friends of the Queen there.
The above is the entire contents of the dispatch sent from England to France, which was read to me by my informant, and although I was most anxious to send your Majesty the important news as soon as I could get it ciphered, flying through the air if possible, I have been unable yet to obtain a passport.
I went to congratulate the Queen-mother on her return in good health, and in the course of conversation she mentioned the death of the queen of Scotland, which she said was an unheard-of thing, and she then broached the question as to who would succeed (to the English Crown). I said, as if by the way, that as the king of Scotland was excluded by his heresy, if he were not converted your Majesty was the next heir. She asked me from what line your Majesty's claim was derived. When I told her she did not answer a word ; nor can I discover that she has mentioned the matter to anyone, although I have made great efforts to learn. I was moved to speak of it to her, because I thought it advantageous not to conceal your Majesty's right when the question is brought up, without going out of the way to seek for opportunities of urging it. The archbishop of Glasgow is one of those who have pressed me to mention the matter when occasion presents itself, and he is confirmed in his opinion by well-disposed Scottish jesuit fathers here, who are strong in their belief that it would greatly encourage Catholics there (i.e., in Scotland) and spur on the King to submit to the Church. The English Catholics speak similarly, saying at the same time, that if the king of Scotland be not converted, they thank God for giving them so Catholic a King as your Majesty. It is publicly said here that there is not a person living who would oppose such a claim, and this caused me to speak of it as I have done. The French, who are not heretics, but merely "politicians," say openly that there is nothing they desire more than to see your Majesty's armada attack England, that they might serve in it and avenge themselves on the Queen by helping you to become master of the country.
The queen of Scotland's late ambassador tells me that if the duke of Parma wishes his armed ships in Denmark to be received in a Scotch port in case of bad weather, or need for victuals, or to sell their prizes, he thinks he can arrange it with the king of Scotland. I have informed the Duke of this. He has not sent Bruce back yet.—Paris, 19th April 1587.
19 April.
Paris Archives, K. 1566. 110.
72. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
I have news of 6th and 7th instant from London saying that two other ships had left the Thames to join Drake at Plymouth. They both belong to the Queen, one being the "Golden Lion," of 600 tons, carrying 50 guns, some being cannons and culverins. This will be the flagship, as she is a good, fleet vessel, and the other is the "Achates," which ship I know well, because her first voyage was to carry me across from England to Flanders in the year '84. She is of 120 tons and carries 30 or 35 guns.
Eight more merchantmen had left the river also, and it was said that the flagship of the merchantmen would be the "Royal Merchant" or the galleon "Budrique" (Ughtred).
Two other merchant ships had come from Lynn to join at Dover, so that, in all, 12 ships had followed Drake, and they were so favoured by weather that they came up with him off the Isle of Wight and proceeded in company to Plymouth.
Both the Queen's ships and the merchantmen were victualled in London with the 2,500 bullocks I said they had slaughtered, and as the Queen was anxious for the ships to sail for Plymouth, and there is difficulty in raising troops in London, she ordered them to go with their seamen only on board necessary for the navigation ; and 2,500 or 3,000 soldiers and sailors will be raised in Devonshire and Cornwall for the fleet.
Drake was to force ships which might be on the West coast bearing letters of marque to accompany him. Drake said there would be 17 of them in the ports—ships of 120 to 150 tons—and he would probably fall in with 23 more at sea which would have to go with him. So that Drake would sail (for Spain) with about 60 ships and 2,500 to 3,000 men, without counting the men on board the ships he took from the West coast, the number of which would be uncertain.
The Queen had ordered 14 more of ships under Captain Winter to be made ready. Winter is a man of rank and a good sailor, who conducted your Majesty the last time you went from England to Flanders. He is to reinforce Drake if necessary, and to guard the coasts in case of the approach of a hostile fleet.
It was said in London that Don Antonio would accompany Drake, but it was not credited, as Drake's intention was asserted to be the plunder of your Majesty's flotillas from the Indies, to which effect the Queen had ordered that all the booty was to be given to the soldiers as had been done previously. The reason there was so much difficulty in getting men for this expedition was that Drake paid them so badly last time, taking all the plunder for himself on the pretence that it was for the Queen.
Another proof that Drake's design is to intercept the flotillas, is that, with the exception of the 22 ships, the rest of them are independent pirates ; and the moment anything is undertaken other than robbery and plunder they will abandon him.
A French ship has arrived on the coast from Brazil, and reports having fallen in with Drake with 22 sail. He spoke them and said that, badly as the French were treating English shipping, he had orders from his mistress to show them all friendship. As they were short of provisions he supplied them.
My Fleming's reports as to the number of ships, etc., are fully confirmed. All the talk about Drake's having actually sailed from Plymouth with 60 ships rests upon Drake's hints that he hoped to take out that number. My man was trying to get back again to Plymouth and feared he would be unable to send me any reports until he could return personally hither. He could not, moreover, go round all the ports to discover what ships were being fitted out, as he heard that Drake was in a furious hurry to leave Plymouth.
All this is now fully confirmed by the reports of merchants and others.
I am sending this by special courier, so that if possible your Majesty may have the news before Drake leaves Plymouth. The weather has been extremely favourable for him since he left London, especially if he had taken his men on board at the start, instead of having to wait for them at Plymouth.
There is nothing to add about the relations between England and France. Neither ambassador has been received yet. The English ambassador here has fresh letters but he does not press for audience. They announce the sailing of Drake from the Thames with 60 ships, which number they say would be increased to over a hundred by the time he left Plymouth. The Queen's ships, to the number of 22, were ready for sea.
The archbishop of Glasgow has taken leave of the Queen-mother on the expiry of his mission (from the queen of Scotland), and in conversation with her mentioned the danger the king of Scotland was in, and the great need he had for the aid and counsel of the Christian King, such as in past times had been given to his ancestors. She replied that the King and herself were full of good will towards the continuance of the friendship and the helping of the king of Scotland ; but the state of things in France hardly gave the Christian King breathing space in his own country, and they could, therefore, hold out but little hopes of helping the king of Scotland, much as they desired to do so.—Paris, 19th April 1587.
19 April.
Paris Archives, K. 1566. 112. Italian.
73. Lord Paget to Secretary Idiaquez.
I have written several letters to your Lordship, but as I have had no reply I fear they may not have reached you. My object is to beg your assistance in the payment of the 500 crowns which His Majesty generously accorded to me in Madrid as a grant in aid of my expenses. The ambassador says the amount will have to be deducted from the ordinary pensions payable to us up to the 1st January last. As the order was given on the treasurer in Madrid in the form of a grant in aid, and we signed acknowledgments in the same form, I pray you kindly to ascertain His Majesty's intentions in the matter and use your influence in my favour, for God knows how I suffered on the journey. I am well aware that all I receive from His Majesty proceeds from his own magnanimity, and from no merit of my own, and I will never cease to humbly thank and faithfully serve him to the last hour of my life. If I can be of any use to him, pray command me, and if I am too importunate in the matter, I beseech you to forgive me and recollect that to ask often for a thing proves that it is really needed.—Paris, 19th April 1587.
Il Baron Pagietto
Di Beldiserto.
20 April.
Paris Archives, K. 1566. 113. Italian.
74. Thomas Throckmorton to Secretary Idiaquez.
Letter to a similar effect to the above, relative to a grant in aid of 200 crowns during his journey to Madrid.
20 April.
Paris Archives, K. 1566. 114.
75. Advices from London, 20 April, 1587 (new style).
Drake left Plymouth on Saturday, 11 April (fn. 8) (by our style) with 34 ships of the fleet, four of them being Queen's ships, the best she has, of 700 and 800 tons, and two of her pinnaces, all armed with bronze pieces. The rest are merchantmen, but comprise some of the best ships in the country. They are well armed, victualled for eight months, and carry 2,000 men, all seamen and no soldiers. The intention is to intercept the flotillas from Peru, which they are confident of capturing if they meet them. Some people say that if the weather serves they will run into Cadiz, and do what damage they can to the shipping and city, breaking the bridge first which connects it with the mainland, and thus preventing succour reaching the people, whom they expect to take unawares. But the intention as to the Peruvian flotilla is absolutely certain. André de Loo arrived here last week from Brussels with the reply of his Highness respecting peace. The Queen instantly sent couriers to Plymouth to stop Drake from sailing until further orders, but they were too late and he was gone. But still peace is spoken of, and the Queen desires it much : God send it to us. A gentleman arrived here last Friday to inform the Queen that the Ostend people learnt that his Highness was going to besiege them, and if he did so they could not hold out 15 days, as they had no men, guns, powder, or other stores. They ask the Queen for at least 1,000 soldiers, with artillery and victuals. She sent the man to the earl of Leicester, who is at the baths, 100 miles off, in order that he might take the necessary measures. To-day a man arrived from the Sluys to tell the Queen that if she does not provide for Ostend, as requested, the place will be lost ; and this must lead to the loss of the Sluys, for which town also they ask for aid in men and stores, as Flushing cannot send them a man.
The Queen wrote three days since to certain persons in the city asking them to lend Don Antonio 30,000l., to be guaranteed by her, and to provide him with 3,000 men to accompany him in a fleet. They met on Saturday last with Don Antonio's representatives, one of them being Dr. Lopez, and read the Queen's letter, to which they promised a reply on Monday. This evening (Monday) I will report what the answer is.
I forgot to say that the gentleman from Ostend avers his belief that if his Highness were to offer the captain of the place a sum of money to surrender the town he would do so, they are in such straits.
25 April.
Paris Archives, K. 1566. 117.
76. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
Since my last I have seen the new friend (fn. 9) who had expressed a desire for an interview. I thanked him from your Majesty for his goodwill, and gave him the 2,000 crowns which your Majesty ordered, through the third person who was present. (fn. 10) He was very grateful, and said that, saving the person of the Queen, he would devote himself to whatever service your Majesty required, with the zeal which I should witness. I assured him that his recompense should be proportionate with his service, and pointed out to him that, in the present state of things in England, it was the safest course to be on your Majesty's side, which he confessed was true, and said if the Queen disappeared many of the principal people would follow your Majesty.
He is informed that when Drake left the Thames the Queen sent orders to Plymouth that men were to be raised there with all haste, so that when Drake arrived they might be shipped at once. We have no further news on the point.
The king of France urged him (Stafford) secretly, through Belièvre, to use all his influence to maintain the friendship between England and France.
Bruce has arrived with the dispatch from the duke of Parma, which I enclose. I have had it ciphered instantly, so as not to lose time in explaining the matter to your Majesty. (fn. 11)
I told Bruce what your Majesty orders me, and when I arrived at the two points of taking up arms and releasing the King, he interrupted me, and said they did not ask for the 150,000 crowns for those two purposes alone, which could be effected in a fortnight after they arrived in Scotland, but for the conversion of the country to the Catholic faith. I approved of this, and said your Majesty understood as much ; and I immediately wrote to the duke of Parma and Muzio (the duke of Guise) to the effect that I will inform your Majesty later, (fn. 12) as I have no time to dwell upon the matter in this. I will try to send Bruce to Scotland assured to us. He has offered the duke of Parma the port of Petty Leith, the best in the kingdom, or any other he may desire. With the general letters I send your Majesty a letter from Antonio de Vega, who is now free, addressed under cover to Geronimo Lopez Sapayo, to your Majesty. He says he reports to your Majesty the departure of Drake.—Paris, 25th April 1587.
Paris Archives, K. 1566. 115.
77. The Duke of Parma to Bernardino De Mendoza.
I informed you of my decision about Scotland and the steps I had taken with the gentleman (Bruce), and sent you a warrant for 10,000 crowns for the purpose mentioned. It was necessary to find some trustworthy person to take it, and to accompany the escort of the grain ships, and make all the necessary arrangements for their taking them quietly into Dunkirk at the time decided upon ; and Bruce introduced to me the bearer, Captain Thomas Foster. I am glad of this, as he seems a very fit person for the task, and I send him to you in order that you may instruct him exactly how he is to proceed. He will have to be accompanied by the other man, who, or someone else, must stay with the ships which are to leave for Scotland and join the grain ships at Dunkirk at the end of July or first days of August, neither sooner nor later, in order not to arouse suspicion, as the men will be ready at exactly that time. Pray enjoin much care and prudence on both of these gentlemen, and especially that they must arrange for the port of Petty Leith to be assured, so that no hitch or obstacle shall occur to raise any doubt, which would upset the whole design and bring with it other difficulties of the highest import, since the success of this plan will, we hope, be of such great advantage.
In the despatch you have since sent me from the King I am instructed to offer the gentleman money instead of troops, as there are no men ready in Spain. As I have adopted the course abovementioned as the most convenient and advantageous to the King's interests, and to begin with new proposals to them might make them pause, I have decided not to make any change, and have advised His Majesty to that effect. I hope he will approve of it as my zeal and good intentions deserve.
I leave in your hands the task of carrying the plan forward. As punctuality is of the very highest importance, and all the ships, both those direct from Scotland and the grain ships, should arrive at Dunkirk at the end of July or beginning of August, I beg you will urge this upon both the gentlemen most earnestly. If they see that the shipping of so much grain is likely to cause suspicion, they must only ship as much as may be advisable and consistent with dissimulation ; but on no account are they to allow the shipping of grain, or anything else, to stand in the way of all the ships arriving at the time appointed. I am making all my calculations in the matter, depending upon this point.
25 April.
Paris Archives, K. 1566. 118.
78. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
I have to inform your Majesty that I have letters from London, dated 20th, saying that Drake was at Plymouth, embarking his men with all haste. The Queen had told the earl of Leicester resolutely that he must return to Holland, and her ambassador here publicly states this. The Queen had sent orders to Horatio Pallavicini to return to England, as he advises her that he had disbursed the 100,000 crowns, which he had provided on her orders, for the raising of the Reiters, which was now certainly proceeding.
Don Antonio was in London, poor and dissatisfied, with no appearance of his going to join Drake's fleet.—Paris, 25th April 1587.
30 April.
Paris Archives K. 1566. 120. Portuguese.
79. Antonio De Vega to Bernardino De Mendoza.
Sends three Portuguese to him, to prevent them from following his uncle (i.e., Don Antonio) ... My uncle is on the high road to a complete breach with this lady (the Queen), and is uncertain whither he shall go, but at present inclines to sail for Holland with the greater part of his people in the ship the Queen gave him. If he is well received he will stay, and if not he will dismiss his people and go to Constantinople, by way of Germany, with three or four unknown persons, unless something be done to prevent the carrying out of his design. He ordered yesterday a ship to be secretly freighted for Barbary, saying that he was going to send thither Mathias Becudo, but it may be suspected that he will go himself. If it were not for me he would go to France, but I was the cause of his losing all hope of success there, as I influenced the French ambassador here who wrote to the king of France. He (Don Antonio) determined to have me killed under another pretext, and I had as much as I could do to save myself. I will report all that happens by Baltasar Baez, who will leave at latest in four or five days. He already has his passport from the Queen, who is letting some people go, and has even given passports to two friars to go to France. It will be necessary for your lordship to advise the duke of Parma and others not to tell the bearers (the three Portuguese named) anything about me, only that they are to take this to Gaspar Diaz Montesinos. I did not approach them as I had no answer to my letter to you about them, but I have no doubt they will always do as I wish them as they are under deep obligation to me for their liberty.
I have gained over Dr. Ruy Lopez, and have converted him to his Majesty's service with good promises, and he has already done wonders in trying to get him (Don Antonio) turned out of here, and to divert other matters, which will be explained at length by the afore-mentioned messenger. I do not know whether I have done right in this ; pray tell me. He (Dr. Lopez?) says that your lordship had already had approaches made to him through Suygo, who had offered him anything he liked to ask if he ceased to interest himself in my uncle's affairs. Pray advise His Majesty and ask his approval of what I have done, as my only aim is to serve him.
A week since the Holland fleet of 24 sail arrived at Dover to join Drake, or to remain here. It was said that they were to go after Drake at once, but Walsingham tells me that for the present they will remain in the Channel, as they are in fear, Drake having only taken out 24 sail. A man came yesterday from Lord Buckhurst in Holland, who says the States concede all the Queen's demands. The French Ambassador's gentleman who was arrested has been released. (fn. 13) —London, 30th April 1587.
Note.—The above letter, like all those of Antonio de Vega, is excessively obscure and ill-constructed. To it Bernardino de Mendoza has appended the following note :—
"What he says about my having sounded Dr. Lopez through Suygo is a great lie. I will write and tell him so and ask him if he is so certain about Dr. Lopez, why he does not have his uncle put out of the way altogether. On a mere hint that Don Guerau de Spes gave him (Lopez) he offered to purge a Portuguese who was busy about some expeditions to be sent from England to the Indies. He took the recipe to the apothecary's himself, and on his way let it fall out of his breeches pocket, in consequence of which he was kept for six months in the Tower. I will say that this other business will be well paid for, as the said doctor knows, and it may be settled without hesitation."
The Portuguese referred to above, whose murder was suggested by Don Guerau de Spes, the former Spanish ambassador in London, was Bartolomé Bayon, and the matter is mentioned in the previous volume of this Calendar, but I cannot find any record of Dr. Lopez having been imprisoned as asserted.
Paris Archives, K. 1566. 121. French
80. Advices from Scotland.
The king of Scotland arrived at Dumfries on the 12th April, accompanied by the earls of Bothwell and Angus, the master of Glamis and others, for the purpose of collaring Maxwell, but the latter received warning the previous night and fled—no one knows whither.
There is much suspicion amongst the nobles who surrounded the King that Maxwell was secretly advised by His Majesty himself to take himself off the night before. It is impossible at present to see what course they will take—that of peace or war—as they have not yet received the reply from France for which they are waiting. It is said that Maxwell is now in the town of Ayr with James Stuart, otherwise the earl of Arran, whose progress in popery is thought to be not without the King's connivance.
They are talking about having a meeting shortly, but there is a doubt as to where it will be held. There is great disagreement between the Lords of the North and those of the South, and most of the latter are coming to meet the King.
The King is sending an ambassader to Denmark, with the object, as is believed, of treating for his marriage with the daughter of that King.


  • 1. This should be the galleon Ughtred.
  • 2. Hunter, who appears to have been a Scottish merchant settled in Lisbon, was subsequently kept in prison for a long period there as a spy, and favourer of heretics. References to his protracted trial will be found in this volume. That he was a spy is proved by a letter from him, giving an account of his imprisonment in Lisbon, and particulars of the armament proceeding there ; which letter, signed only with a horn, will be found in Cotton Vespasian, CVIII., page 207. It is dated 10th February 1589, and is endorsed, apparently by Walsingham, "from Mr. Hunter of Lisbon."
  • 3. James VI. had sent to Beaton a renewal of his appointment as Scottish ambassador in France. The Archbishop had doubts as to the propriety of his representing a Protestant King and referred to the question to Rome.
  • 4. The King has underscored this passage and written against it "error." The passage, in effect, is incorrect.
  • 5. The King has written at the foot of this statement a caution to the effect that care must be taken of it. It will be seen by this how completely the Spaniards were surprised by Drake's descent upon Cadiz.
  • 6. This is the first hint given that Cadiz was to be Drake's destination.
  • 7. The writer is recapitulating the contents of letters written from England to Sir Edward Stafford, the English ambassador in France.
  • 8. There is evidently some confusion of dates here. Drake's fleet left Plymouth on the 12th (English style) and the despatch sent after him, as described in this letter, sailed on the 15th. The date of the letter should probably be "old style" instead of new style.
  • 9. The English ambassador, Sir Edward Stafford.
  • 10. Charles Arundell.
  • 11. In the King's hand :—"I do not understand this about the cipher. Tell me what it means, and return the copy which is inside." By a perusal of the enclosure, which follows this letter, it will be seen that, to save time Mendoza had sent the King a ciphered extract of the Duke's letter.
  • 12. In the King's hand. "I do not know whether this comes in the other letters."
  • 13. Destrappes, who was accused of complicity in William Stafford and Moody's pretended plan to kill the Queen. Vega himself was an inmate of the French embassy. He calls Chateauneuf his relative.