Simancas: December 1601

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 1601', in Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 4, 1587-1603, (London, 1899) pp. 690-699. British History Online [accessed 23 April 2024]

December 1601

10 Dec.
Estado, 840.
710. The Adelantado Of Castile to Philip III.
Amongst others, I have a spy who left England 16 days since ; and I enclose the intelligence he brings. (fn. 1) I have hitherto found him truthful, but still I am cautious, because no spy can be trusted implicitly, although war cannot well be carried on without such folks.
This man is making ready to return to Ireland and England, with the intention of coming back again in three or four months. I pray your Majesty will let me know if there is any point which need specially be enquired about, so that I may instruct him. I am, however, not of opinion that the reinforcements for Ireland should be stayed for his return. I refer both to men and stores, for I do not consider as a reinforcement the expedition now being sent under Zubiaur. The reinforcement needed is one that will end the business for once and for all, and not dribblets like sips of broth, that will only prolong the agony, and allow the invalid to die after all. Little reinforcements will only cause the loss to be greater, and will give the Queen an opportunity for sending with ease larger aid than can go from Spain. If the Irish do not see the Spaniards the stronger party, even for a week, they will not declare themselves against the Queen. Unless they do so declare themselves, we shall not be able to finish our task with so small a force. The landing of the men where they were landed was a great drawback, (fn. 2) as I have already stated. If with God's help the Earls be able to effect a junction with Don Juan del Aguila, a good result may still be hoped for, but there is a fear that they may be defeated on the way, which would be a grievious thing, for the loss of all these good Catholics would have been brought about in consequence of the succour sent being so small and landed in an inconvenient place. I have been much grieved for some years past to see that, from motives of economy, expeditions are undertaken with such small forces that they principally serve to irritate our enemies, rather than to punish them. The worst of it is that wars thus become chronic, and the expense and trouble resulting from long continued warfare are endless.
It will be seen by the enclosed report, that the Queen has now in Ireland, including the last reinforcements, 13,000 foot soldiers and 900 horse : and if affairs there are not settled during the winter, she will probably make a great effort next summer both on land and sea, to prevent any aid from reaching Ireland rfrora here. If the reinforcements we are to send do not go before the spring, your Majesty will not be able to send them except at a great expenditure of money, as the number of troops for the operations on land wiil have to be very large, and another strong force of soldiers and sailors must be kept on the fleet unless we are to run the risk of losing it.
The fleet itself will also have to be very powerful, and able to give battle to the enemy. If this be not so, the injury to us will be greater than would be the loss of the troops we now have in Ireland. But still I consider it difficult, if not impossible, for us in so short a time, at whatever cost, to fit out the fleet and forces which would be necessary for such a purpose.
If there be any truth in the statement that the French are contemplating a war with us (which there may well be, seeing the King's fickleness) I would urge your Majesty to seek means of offence and defence against the enemy. God will surely not abandon your Majesty, much as we may fear the sins of our country.
The easiest and least costly means which I can suggest is that which I have submitted on another occasion, namely, the collecting of all your Majesty's galleys at some convenient point, and embarking in them all the best troops we can get, taking the veterans from the garrisons, and, if necessary, putting recruits into their places. This will be equivalent to letting them (the veterans) out of captivity, and the new men will be good serviceable soldiers by next year. When your Majesty has your galleys mustered, and filled with the large number of good troops suggested, you will be in a position to send aid to both Italy and Spain, if needed, with but very little cost, as the galleys, and most of the troops, would have to be maintained in any case. If the Turkish fleet comes down also, your Majesty will be strong enough to scatter it. If we were to send an army to every point where danger may be apprehended, no treasure or troops in the world would suffice. I therefore beg your Majesty, as I have often previously done, to embody a force which will defend you at all points at small expense. Otherwise it will not be necessary for our enemies to make war on us ; they need only threaten to do so, and our expenditure itself will crush us without their drawing a sword. Puerto de Santa Maria.—10 December 1601.
11 Dec.
Estado, 840.
711. Council Of State to Philip III.
The three points contained in Colonel Semple's paper, to which the Council desires to draw your Majesty's attention, are the following :—
1st. In order that the Irish affair may be successful, it is desirable that the reinforcements already sent should be brought up to 6,000 men, effective strength, as Semple has no doubt that the queen of England will send both land and sea forces next year, if not before, and obstruct your Majesty's action.
2nd. In addition to the troops sent to Ireland, it is of the utmost importance that some person of intelligence and confidence should be sent to Scotland, openly accredited to the King, as a return to the embassy he sent hither last year. This envoy should be secretly instructed to assist the Catholics, and endeavour to induce them to obtain possession of the little prince. If this be done, and he be married to the daughter of the duke of Savoy, the Catholic faith may thus be restored in Scotland. It might also be arranged at the same time for the Scottish highlanders opposite the Irish coast to side with your Majesty in that war, as they are greatly devoted to the Spaniards, from whom they boast their descent, and are consequently enemies of the English, against whom they have aided the Irish on other occasions.
3rd. He recommends that the (Netherlands) rebels should be deprived of Spanish trade. Experienced persons should be stationed in the ports, able to distinguish friends from enemies. The latter in the course of their trafficking learn your Majesty's intentions, and make use of their knowledge to go to the Indies and elsewhere to plunder. Colonel Semple has now advices of a number of enemies' ships coming to Portugal with this object. He also proposes that 15 or 16 medium sized ships should be stationed in the Orkney Isles, where there are good harbours, to prevent the rebels from profiting by the fisheries and trade with Denmark—which is their Indies, whence they draw their resources to keep up the war in Flanders. In the event of your Majesty desiring to conquer the Orkneys, it could be done when the Irish business is effected, and the Scottish negotiation carried through. For this purpose your Majesty would have to avail yourself of the earl of Bothwell, whose brother the earl of Caithness is near the islands. Semple is of opinion that by this means affairs in Flanders may be remedied speedily and at less cost than otherwise, and other important ends attained.
Note.—There is in the Biblioteca Nacional, at Madrid (H. 50) a long document written by Semple to the King (Philip III.), in 1620, setting forth his services to Spain, in which he mentions the advice given in the above document, and points out that if it had been adopted it would have saved the situation. He had given similar advice in 1587 ; and in 1588, when he was in Scotland, he had made all arrangements for carrying it out. In the same book (H. 50) there is a certificate dated 24th April 1601, from Bernardino de Mendoza, recounting at length Semple's great services as an intermediary between Spain and the Scottish Catholics. These MSS. have never been published.
17 Dec.
Estado, 840.
712. Document headed "Memorandum of all that has occurred with relation to the reinforcements for Ireland since the fleet left Lisbon, when the last report was submitted to the Council."
Don Diego Brochero left Lisbon at the beginning of September, with 33 vessels, great and small, 20 of which belonged to his Majesty, and 13 to private persons. They took in them Don Juan del Aguila, with 4,464 footmen, six pieces of battering artillery, 6,000 quintals of biscuit, 600 quintals of powder, 250 quintals of lead, 550 quintals of firewick, 2,000 pikes, 500 harquebusses, 1,600 swords, 150 saddles, 300 lances, 1,500 planks, 2,500 picks, shovels and spades, all of which stores were to be landed.
He (Don Juan de Aguila?) took despatches for the Earls and other gentlemen on the Catholic side of Ireland, and he was accompanied by the archbishop of Dublin, and the bishop ... (fn. 3) to negotiate with the natives of the country.
When they were near Ireland the flag ship, with eight other vessels, were separated from the rest of the fleet in a storm, and were driven out of their course, taking refuge in Corunna. In these ships were General Pedro de Zubiaur and the Maestre de Campo Centeno ; and according to the report sent by the inspector, Pedro Lopez de Soto, 650 foot soldiers also returned in them.
Letters have been received from Don Juan del Aguila, the most recent of them being dated 31st October, which was brought by captain Josef de Morales, who is now here. He arrived after Don Diego Brochero, and can, if desired, give fuller details of events, as he was with Don Juan del Aguila for some days after Brochero left.
Don Juan (del Aguila) writes that in consequence of the ships with Zubiaur being missing, and many soldiers having fallen sick, he was very short of men, and that his stores and victuals were also low, as Zubiaur's ships had a quantity on board.
He says the harbour is good, but difficult to guard unless a fort is constructed on a point at the entrance forming a peninsula. He has some men on the point, but he did not dare to fortify it, as the enemy might cut it off, and he had not enough men to defend and reinforce it, and to hold the town. He was, however, adopting the best measures he could devise.
He says the town (Kinsale) is well built and surrounded by walls, but there are hills commanding it on all sides, and it is not favourable for fortification.
He had advised the Earls of his arrival, and although they had replied, he feared that there would be some delay in their joining him, as they were far off and the road is rough ; besides which the enemy was beginning to get between them.
As soon as the queen of England's viceroy learnb of his landing he came within four leagues of him, to a place called Cork, and bad since come nearer, being at the time he wrote only two leagues distant. The Viceroy had already collected nearly 5,000 men, and a considerable number of horses. Before captain Morales left, some of the enemy were sighted very near some trenches that had been opened outside the town, but Don Juan had not been able to engage them, as they are only horsemen and retire at once. There was, however, a little skirmish, in which two or three of the enemy were killed, a sargeant and a soldier being wounded on our side.
Don Juan learns that the Viceroy had sent to ask the Queen for reinforcements, and he had no doubt that they would soon be sent.
He reports that he found very little victuals in the town, and that he was making use of all he could. Those that he had landed would last him at most 50 or 60 days.
He requests that victuals shall be sent him, and most urgently he begs for bread, wine, oil, and vinegar. He also asks for more warlike stores, and above all, that reinforcements of men should be sent with the greatest speed. He presses most of all for cavalry.
Zubiaur has again sailed from Corunna, with 10 ships and 829 footmen, 2,100 quintals of biscuit, 2,000 fanegas of wheat, 1,300 fanegas of rye, 130 pipes of wine, 100 arrobas of oil, 100 quintals of powder, 44 quintals of firewick, 60 quintals of lead, 200 harquebusses, 1,000 pikes, 4,000 horse-shoes, and many artillery stores, and 1,000 picks, spades, and shovels. All this is to be landed. He is also taking 10 portable ovens.
Zubiaur is instructed (with the approval and desire of Don Juan) to leave there some of his ships, completely armed ; and if Don Juan requests, he himself is to stay there. Don Juan is informed that he may make such arrangements as he thinks desirable in this respect, and that Zubiaur has orders to follow his instructions.
Five ships are ready in Lisbon, only awaiting a fair wind to sail. They have on board 4,500 quintals of biscuit, 600 arrobas of oil, 150 pipes of wine, 100 quintals of powder, 80 quintals of firewick, 25 ovens, 190 foot soldiers from those who came from Terceira, and some from the forts of Lisbon.
Don Juan del Aguila was to have been accompanied by the Maestres de Campo, Don Francisco de Padilla, and Antonio Centeno. (fn. 4) Don Francisco did not embark because he was sick at the time of sailing, and Centeno returned with Zubiaur. As Don Juan was thus left alone, and Centeno requested leave of absence, his Majesty gave the command of Centeno's regiment to Esteban de Legorreta (fn. 5) who arrived at Corunna after Zubiaur had sailed, and he will have to wait for the first opportunity for going thither.
Don Martin de la Cerda, who was also to have gone with Don Juan del Aguila, remained in Lisbon in consequence of being unwell, but he is now on board one of the five ships ready to sail from Lisbon.
Don Francisco de Padilla has been ordered to embark, but he has not appeared, and no answer has been received to the second order sent to him.
Three companies of light horse have also been ordered to embark in Lisbon. They belong to the guards of the Count de Puñonrostro, of Don Pedro Pacheco, and Don Sancho Brabo respectively, and they are at the present time mustering and receiving their marching wages. They will take 220 effective lances, according to the statement furnished by Don Bernardino de Velasco.
His Majesty has also ordered that captain Duarte Nuñez should go in command of the above cavalry, and should have charge of the whole of the cavalry collected in Ireland. (fn. 6) Don Juan del Aguila has been again instructed to raise in Ireland two companies of mounted harquebussiers. His Majesty has appointed as lieutenants of the above cavalry Alonso Caro and Juan de la Camara.
Money has already been placed in Lisbon to pay for the transport and maintenance of the above cavalry, and orders have been sent that no time is to be lost.
Orders have likewise been sent by his Majesty for the raising of a regiment of 2,000 Portuguese foot soldiers, these being the troops that it appeared could most easily be sent to meet the present need.
The letters of the Viceroy of Portugal dated 11th September set forth the difficulties encountered in the raising of these men, and the shipping of the horses. Nine thousand ducats have been supplied in Galicia for the purchase of wheat, wine, and vegetables, and for freighting ships to carry them to Kinsale. A similar provision will, if possible, be made from Santander and Laredo.
Intelligence comes from various quarters that the queen of England is raising large forces for Ireland, and we now learn that a Dunkirk ship on the 30th ultimo, met 13 ships in the channel on the way to Ireland. An English ship captured by the Dunkirker reported that these 13 vessels belonged to the Queen, and carried 4,000 English infantry. Valladolid.—17 December 1601.
End of December. Estado, 840. 713. Report of the Council Of State to Philip III. on the following documents submitted to it by the King.
1st.—A statement of Secretary Esteban de Ibarra, of 17th instant, of the men, munitions, stores, etc., taken by your Majesty's fleet to Ireland, the arrival of the fleet at Kinsale, and the report received from Don Juan del Aguila, to the effect that, in consequence of General Pedro de Zubiaur and eight ships having gone astray, and many of his own men being sick, he was very short of men and victuals. [Here follows a summary of the preceding document.]
2nd.—A document from the president of the Chancery of Medina del Campo, sent on the 15th instant to the duke of Lerma, containing the statement made by the Venetian sailors, who had gone to Medina, as they could not enter this city (Valladolid), to the effect they had been carried as prisoners of the English to Plymouth, and had there heard that the queen of England, offended at the presence of Spaniards in Ireland, was arming 20 galleons with the intention of sending them to Ceuta and Tangiers. There were two captains in Plymouth, one a Portuguese and the other a Frenchman, both heretics, who were going with these ships.
3rd.—A memorandum of Juan de Contreras Gamarra, late commissary general of the light horse in Flanders, urging that the Irish affair should be fomented, and that as many as 14,000 infantry, 1,200 cavalry (800 of them lancers and 400 harquebussiers) should be sent thither. As the infantry cannot be all Spaniards, there should be 3,000 Germans and 3,000 Walloons, who could be raised on the pretext that they were for Flanders ; but that money for them should be sent separately from here, so that no delay shall take place. These men might be employed in guarding the artillery and stores, whilst the Spaniards were landed for the main object. These 6,000 might be sent from Dunkirk in the ships there, in bodies of 600 or 1,000, the greatest secrecy being observed, and the sailors, who are very well acquainted with those coasts, should be well rewarded. The French will aid the Queen to expel the Spaniards from Ireland, and if they do not succeed they will break with Spain. It will therefore be advisable to drill and make up the strength of the Castilian cavalry guard, which it badly needs. 3,000 muskets, carrying 1½ ounce bullets should be provided, 20,000 sets of infantry armour and 4,000 sets for light cavalry should be sent from Milan ; and also 12 armourers to live in Toledo, and make armour when needed. There will also be required from there 4,000 pistols in the Freuch fashion, for the cavalry, but these need not cost anything, as the amount can be deducted from the men's wages. If men be raised in Spain, it will be advisable to put them in quarters as soon as they join, as otherwise they will take to their trades again and live as usual. In order that reinforcements may be sent at once to Ireland, it will be well to obtain 4,000 Spaniards from Milan, Naples, and Sicily. These troops, with the 6,000 Germans and Walloons, will be sufficient to conquer the island. If there be a lack of wheat in Spain, it may be brought from Naples, Sicily, and Sardinia, and Juan de Contreras offers his services.—[The above document, in full, dated 15th December, is in the same packet.]
4th.—A letter dated 10th instant from the Adelantado de Castile, giving the report of one of his spies who left Bristol on the 22nd November, to the effect that as soon as the Queen learnt of the arrival of the Spaniards in Ireland, she gave orders that 5,000 soldiers should be sent thither this winter, and over 3,500 were then going. The enemy was very confident in Ireland, since he learnt the small number of the Spaniards ; and was approaching the Spanish force, and intercepting the Catholics. There was some scarcity in England, but they were making every possible effort in the matters of Ireland and Ostend, with regard to which the Queen has an understanding with the king of France. The latter exhibits but small intention of continuing at peace with Spain. A ship belonging to the earl of Cumberland, and four merchantmen, have gone to India to trade, plundering what they meet on the voyage. They (the English) think of sending a fleet to capture Santiago de Cuba and Habana, Flemings and Englishmen going together for that purpose. The Adelantado says that it will be desirable to send a great reinforcement to Ireland. To dole out the succour like sips of broth to a sick man will only prolong the agony, and the invalid will die after all. If the Irish do not see that the Spaniards are the stronger, they will not declare against the Queen. In addition to the men the Queen has sent this winter, she will make a great effort next summer, and if our men do not go before the spring, the reinforcement will cost a vast sum of money, as a large number of men will be wanted on land and also at sea, unless we wish to risk losing the fleet, which will have to be very powerful. The Adelantado considers that it would be impossible for your Majesty to get such a fleet together in so short a time, even if there were plenty of money. In order to guard against danger from the French and others, he proposes that your Majesty should muster all your galleys in some convenient place, and put on board of them the largest possible number of the best troops you have, the veterans being taken from the garrisons and recruits being put in their places. By this means both Spain and Italy will be reinforced with but little expense, because the galleys in any case have to be paid for, as well as most of the troops who would be put on board of them, and if the Turkish fleet should appear, your Majesty will be strong enough to scatter it. If, on the other hand, we had to send an army to every point where enemies threaten us, no treasure and no troops in the world would suffice, and the important thing is to have a force which will be able to protect us everywhere. Otherwise our enemies will have no need to make war upon us ; they need only threaten, and our own expenditure will crush us without our enemies drawing a sword.
The above documents having been duly discussed, the Council agreed that there was no doubt, as your Majesty had so many enemies who were opposed to your becoming master of Ireland—the port and entrance of the northern parts, and a tight rein for those nations—that both the declared heretics and others would make every effort to prevent it. It is, therefore, advisable that reinforcements should if possible be sent to Don Juan del Aguila and the Irish Catholics ; and also to take such measures on our own frontiers as shall frustrate any attempt upon them. As the queen of England has her troops so handy for the reinforcement of Ireland with all sorts of ships, this will not prevent her from being able, with the help of her allies, to send forces elsewhere, not only the 20 galleys spoken of by the Venetian sailors, but very much larger fleets to divert and harass your Majesty.
Although it would no doubt be very desirable to adopt the recommendations of the Adelantado and Commissary-General Contreras, the state of your Majesty's treasury and the short time between now and the spring, render it impossible ; and we must therefore do what we can, attending first to what is most urgent, and trusting that our Lord will make up for the shortcomings.
The Council therefore recommends the following :—
As the Irish affair has been undertaken, every possible effort should be made to continue the promotion of it ; but we cannot hope to fit out a great fleet, because the difficulty and delay which would occur would involve the grave risk of losing what we already have in Ireland. The force now ready in Lisbon should therefore sail immediately the weather permits.
The Portuguese regiment should be raised, and sent with all speed, money for the purpose being provided from here. The same course should be followed with the cavalry of the guard, which your Majesty has decided shall be sent thither. The Constable reports that it will be unadvisable for entire companies to be sent, as so many of the men are married, and anxiety for their wives and children will prevent them from going with good spirit. The troops to be sent should therefore be chosen from the unmarried men. This should be left to Don Bernardino de Velasco. The standards of the companies should be left here with the married men, and the strength of the companies filled up. By this means good useful troops will be sent to Ireland, and the companies will still be available here.
As there are not enough Spaniards to go everywhere, it will be advisable to adopt the suggestion of Contreras, and to send a regiment of Walloons from Flanders to Ireland, and also a regiment of Germans. The Archduke may appoint the officers, and make necessary arrangements, the portion of the money necessary for the levy and provisions being furnished from here. His Highness should instruct the officers that if there be any difficulty about landing in the place where Don Juan del Aguila is they are to disembark in any other port held by the Catholics ; giving due advice to Don Juan and to the earls O'Neil and O'Donnell, whose orders they will follow.
Don Juan del Aguila and the Earls should be written to, saying how earnestly we are endeavouring to aid them. If they have not already effected a junction, they should be urged to do so, and to try to hold out, taking the places which seem most fitting for that purpose, if the enemy be so strong that they cannot fight him with an assurance of victory. But still it may be hoped with God's blessing, since the Irish Catholics alone have been able for so many years to withstand the queen of England, that they will the better do so now that they are aided by the forces of your Majesty.
The authorities in Ceuta and Tangiers should be instructed to be on the alert, and discover whether the Sheriff is making any move : because if the 20 galleons mentioned by the Venetians go thither it will be with the Sheriff's connivance. The duke of Medina Sidonia and the Adelantado of Castile should be instructed to hold themselves in readiness to aid the fortresses mentioned, if needed.
The Governors of Puerto Rico, Cartagena, Panama, and Habana, should be ordered to put the fortresses into a condition for defence, and keep a keen look out for the enemy.
The militia in Spain should be embodied and held in readiness.
The infantry levies should be expedited, money being provided for the purpose. A statement should be obtained of the armed forces of the landed proprietors of Andalucia, and the number of horses, so that in case of need they may be employed, as they have been on previous occasions.
Intimation should be sent to the prelates and nobles that in case of need they should at once overhaul their arms, etc., and devise how they may best be of service if the occasion should require. They should send reports, so that such orders as may be necessary may be given to them, in accordance with the advance of the enemy. But this will only be in the event of extreme pressure, as his Majesty does not wish to put them to the expense otherwise.
The marquis of Castel Rodrigo (fn. 7) should be instructed to make ready and put in order everything in Portugal and the islands.
The frontiers of Spain should be placed in a position of defence, as has on several occasions been signified to your Majesty, these frontiers are so utterly unprepared that it is enough to encourage the enemy to attack them ; which he would not attempt if they were in a proper condition. Wc cannot depend upon the peace with Fiance, because, in addition to the open support she gives to the rebels, it is unquestionable that she will break with us, at the juncture when most harm can be done to your Majesty.
The preparation of the fleet of galleys, as recommended by the Adelantado, is the most important point possible, both for offence and defence, and orders should be given in Spain and Portugal for the most extraordinary energy to be employed in fitting out the existing galleys, and also in building and arming others. With the infantry that can be drawn from Milan, Naples, and Sicily, and a regiment of Neapolitans that can be raised, we shall be able to man and arm all the galleys we can obtain, and this will be a good bridle for the French and others. Although Contreras says that Spanish infantry could be drawn from Italy for Ireland, the majority of the Council are of opinion that it will be more desirable for it will be sent to the fleet. It would be unwise to supply men for one place by denuding others of greater importance.
F. Gaspar de Cordoba, (fn. 8) whilst deferring to the opinions of the rest of the Council with respect to warlike affairs, which are alien to his profession, said that full credit should be given to the reports, and preparations be made against the worst that can happen, because his Majesty's enemies are so numerous and powerful, that they will certainly offend him at every possible point. He therefore approved of the measures proposed, and all others that may be necessary. But since your Majesty's treasury (of the state of which he gave full details) cannot meet all the demands upon it, and all our preparations will be insufficient, it will be necessary that God, with His Almighty hand should come to our aid. The first and most important of all preparations will be to appease His anger, provoked by the vices and sins so prevalent in this country. We must, therefore, earnestly seek a remedy by mending our ways of life, and by constant prayer. With this object all the prelates should be written to, begging them to use efforts in their respective dioceses to this end, adopting such measures as may seem most fitting, and such as have been employed on other similar occasions. For if God be with us a few will conquer many, and if not, then in vain shall we amass human forces.
Your Majesty will decide.
Valladolid—December, 1601.


  • 1. See the preceding document dated 12th November.
  • 2. At Kinsale. The Spaniards had landed on the 23rd September.
  • 3. Unintelligible.
  • 4. He had been an officer on the Armada. The names of all the officers who ought to have accompanied the expedition are given in Pacata Hibernia as having landed at Kinsale.
  • 5. Legorreta had also been a captain on the Armada and had been wrecked with the chief of the hulks Gomez de Medina on Fair Island, where they remained for a considerable period, finding their way home at last through Scotland.
  • 6. Captain Duarte Nuñez had also taken part in the Armada, and was on Martinez de Recalde's flagship "Santa Ana" wrecked on the coast of France.
  • 7. Don Cristobal de Mora (or Moura), Philip II.'s favourite Portuguese Secretary of State, had been recently made marquis of Castel Rodrigo, and Governor of Portugal.
  • 8. The King's confessor, who was a leading member of the Council.