Simancas: December 1600

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: December 1600', in Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 4, 1587-1603, (London, 1899) pp. 674-676. British History Online [accessed 1 March 2024]

December 1600

2 Dec.
Estado, 840.
697. Summary of a Memorandum from Father Cresswell to the King, with regard to the answer to be given to the English Catholics.
1. The answer should include some general reference to the pretensions of the earl of Essex, so as to open the door to an arrangement by which he may be gained to the service of God and your Majesty.
2. The answer should be so worded that even if it fall into the hands of enemies, it would help rather than injure the cause of the claimant favoured by your Majesty. This may be effected by setting forth, with full arguments, the reasons why it is considered desirable here that the Catholic Sovereign of England should proceed with mildness and without violence, the fault being not so much personal as national. That it will be unjust, therefore, to treat heretics as they are treated in Spain, or as they were treated in England by queen Mary. Conversion may best be forwarded by caring well for working people, and by winning the people by suavity and mildness. Philip II. saw this, and his advice moderated the zeal of queen Mary and her Council.
3. Such an answer will banish many difficulties and attract many adherents.
4. The answer should state that it has been considered by the Council and approved by your Majesty.
5. In addition to the above general answer, there should be another particular answer, communicated to few, nominating the Infanta Isabel for the succession. This will open the door for her and the Archduke to take similar steps to push their claims to those being carried on by the king of Scotland.
6. To satisfy powerful people, who would rally to the Infanta, it will be necessary to let it be known privately, that your Majesty will acknowledge her claim ; and, if possible, support her by a large force when the Queen dies. This is necessary, in order that they make due arrangements for welcoming such a force.
7. It is most important that no time should be lost, as otherwise these powerful people will rally to the king of Scotland, and he will succeed. Delay alone is responsible for making Vendome king of France.
8. Any new Sovereign of England, unless he is under obligation to your Majesty, will be worse for you than the Queen, because by granting freedom of conscience he will conciliate a certain faction in Rome, and will prevent the Catholics from looking to your Majesty. This has happened in France.
9. My own opinion is that God has hitherto preserved the Queen's life, in consequence of the prayers of so many faithful ones that your Majesty should be prepared before she dies.
10. If God grant children to the Infanta, the submission of England to Spain will be perpetual, by means of family alliances, etc. This is what the Catholics aim at, to re-establish religion, and a permanent brotherhood between the nations, Spain being always the elder brother.
11. Even if the Infanta die without children it will be no small thing to have taken the Crown out of the hands of heretics.
12. On all accounts it is most necessary to succour Ireland.
13. The acknowledgment of the Infanta, and the preparations mentioned, will do much to bring honourable peace to your Majesty and the Catholics.
— Dec.
Estado, 840.
The above memorandum is accompanied by a draft of the proposed answer to the English Catholics, written and signed by Father Cresswell. It embodies the points detailed in the memorandum, only that, as an alternative to the Infanta, it hints at the acceptance of one of the daughters of the earl of Derby, or Arabella Stuart ; and promises to hold in readiness certain forces (in blank) to be used when needed in favour of the Catholic party.
Father Cresswell concludes by again begging the King for a prompt resolution.
The Council of State reports to Philip III., with regard to Father Cresswell's communications, that an answer should be now sent without further delay. They generally approve of his suggestions, but are of opinion that no other candidate than the Infanta should be mentioned ; and that the forces to be held in readiness should not be enumerated.