Simancas: April 1602

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 1602', in Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 4, 1587-1603, (London, 1899) pp. 708-712. British History Online [accessed 23 April 2024]

April 1602

12 April.
Estado, 840.
720. Relation of the Mission of Thomas James to Spain.
He is an Englishman, who being in Rome last year, met the duke of Sessa who sent him to the Archduke (Albert) and the English Catholics in Flanders to confer with them on the important resolution taken by the king of Spain with regard to English affairs. He found the Archduke well disposed, and the English Catholics anxious to participate in an action so conducive to the interests of the Catholic church. But they were so loyal to the king of Spain that they would take no steps without his orders, and consequently the Archduke sent him to Spain to make the proposals to the King himself. They had told him to assure the King how rejoiced they were at the news, and how humbly they thanked him for choosing such princes (i.e., the Archduke and the Infanta) for their sovereigns.
His suggestions are mainly to the effect, that 1st, the Archduke should make Ireland his point d'appui, and that a large Spanish naval force and arsenals should be established there.
2. That the King should make a formal transfer of his rights to the Infanta and the Archduke, on paper or parchment.
3. That money should be sent to Flanders to continue to gain adherents in England and Ireland. He names the provincial of the jesuits as the fittest instrument for this purpose.
4. That there should be 16 or 20 galleys in Flanders and 20 or 30 vessels in Dunkirk kept ready for eventualities. They will, he says, turn the tide at the critical moment. Besides the troops they carry, they should have arms for 6,000 or 7,000 additional men.
5. Thirty or 40 other ships should be kept ready in Spain to land another force in England, to second the force from Flanders.
6. He is confident of success, seeing the many friends in England, especially if the seat be vacant, the king of Scots being so unpopular.
7. Even the heretics in office in England, are only anxious to keep their places, and may easily be bought. They will then gradually gain others to our side.
8. The English Catholics (in Flanders) have plenty of good agents, but everything should be directed by his Majesty's representative.
9. That an English Cardinal should be appointed to succeed Dr. Allen.
Thomas James arrived in Madrid, with a letter of introduction from the Archduke, (attached to the above), saying that he had been sent from Rome by the duke of Sessa and Father Persons.
The Council of State considered the matter, and reported to the King. It had been decided previously that 200,000 ducats should be sent to the Ambassador, Baltasar de Zuñiga, to use in forwarding the Infanta's claim to the English crown on the death of the Queen, but as the money could not be spared, it had not been sent. Nothing indeed had been done, although the case was very important. But it will need much force, besides the 200,000 ducats. The Council recommends that the army in Flanders should be re-inforced, so that in an eventuality, troops can be sent from there. It also recommends that the fleet should be mustered, and made ready, but apparently for the protection of Italy and Spain, so as not to arouse suspicion. If money can be found for all this, the blow can be struck at the right moment, and in force sufficient, but if not the Council can only repeat what it has already said when the affair of Scotland was under discussion.
In any case a successor to Cardinal Allen should be appointed to represent the English Catholics in Rome.
15 April.
Estado, 840.
721. O'Donnell to Philip III.
I should greatly fail in my duty as a faithful servant of your Majesty, if I doubted for a moment the fulfilment of the promises repeatedly made to me in your Majesty's name, promises so conducive to your Catholicity and your interests. But as my experience is a long one in the affairs under discussion, and my familiarity with them gives me a better opportunity than another can have of judging them, I recognise clearly that promptness is the very essence of success in our object. I see the time going on apace, and as every hour passes, nearer and nearer approaches the knife to the throats of the faithful band of brave, sorely-tried people, whose hope alone is in God's mercy, and your Majesty's pity. I cannot, then, help repeating my sorrowful reminders. From the latest news I have from Ireland received this day, I foresee (and I say it under due sense of my obligation to God, and your Majesty) that if I do not arrive within a month in the north of Ireland, I will not say with 2,000 soldiers, but with 1,500 or 1,000 at least, with victuals, munitions, stores, and money, to raise 5,000 or 6,000 natives and sustain the war, by expelling the enemy from O'Neil's country and my own, I doubt very much whether a large force arriving from your Majesty, even in June, will be in time to find anything there but the blood and ashes of that multitude of faithful believers in your Majesty. For since the affair of Kinsale, the English, suspicious of a stronger force being sent, will hasten to pull up the roots that should bring the fruit we so much desire. I pray your Majesty to resolve upon my going with 2,000 men, if possible during this month, so that I may hold out until the large force arrives.
If anyone persuades your Majesty to the contrary, I beg to be allowed to go post to Court to confront him with reason. If this be not done, the great force your Majesty sends may be as successful as it pleases ; but I am quite sure the north will be ruined, and with it the west will be lost, and Ireland submitted to the insufferable yoke of the heretic, with the sacrifice of what Catholic blood be left. Your Majesty's own dominions will suffer by my delay here, whilst my going speedily will settle everything. Although I assert this before God, I nevertheless submit myself in everything to your Majesty's will.—Coruña, 15th April, 1602.
Note.—A statement accompanies the above letter setting forth the plans of O'Donnell for effecting the object he had in view. His intention was to enter and fortify Killibeg, which was to be his base of operations, and thence to proceed to Donegal, Sligo Mouy, etc.
22 April.
Estado, 840.
722. Count Caracena to Philip III.
I have daily been expecting replies to the despatches I sent your Majesty on the arrival of Don Juan del Aguila from Ireland (fn. 1), and have been putting off writing, but as the time is going on I think well not to delay further, but to send my opinion as to what should be done.
At the same time as I received orders from your Majesty, dated 3rd instant, to send a patache to the northern ports of Ireland to gain information, Don Juan del Aguila arrived bringing the news. As I was desirous of fulfilling your Majesty's orders I was preparing the patache, but so much pressure was brought to bear by Earl O'Donnell, Don Juan himself, Pedro Lopez (de Soto), and others to dissuade me from sending it, as being against your Majesty's interests, that I desisted until I heard from your Majesty again. It is true that the arrival of a patache at such a time might discourage them, as they are hourly expecting the arrival of succour. Earl O'Donnell asserts that the enemy will be powerless to prevent the landing of the aid sent to the northern ports, and he is writing to your Majesty. He is urging me very much, as usual, to promote the granting to him of 2,000 men with arms, munitions, and money, so that he may return to Ireland pending the sending of further assistance. He asserts that the whole success of the undertaking depends upon this, as well as the happiness of the Catholics, who look to your Majesty solely for aid, and for so many years have faithfully stood firm, and refused to make peace, in the constant hope that aid would be sent to them from your Majesty or your lamented father. The Earl would now be satisfied with 1,000 men, but warmly as I desire the forwarding of this Irish business, which is the most important of any for the interests of God and your Majesty, I think it would be risking the men, and perhaps, also, a loss of prestige to send such a small force to the northern ports. It is certain that if succour be not sent with the requisite speed the Catholic cause must fall utterly, because the day that they submit to the Queen they must give up that which they cherish most, or else lose their lives. I am therefore of opinion that your Majesty should succour them at once by sending letters to Earl O'Neil with arms, munitions, stores, money, and some soldiers, so that they may hold out until the force arrives. I recommend the same course to be pursued, even more emphatically, with the lord of Bearhaven, who, with his people, has given proofs of faithfulness and zeal. I will send back the brother of Castlehaven (fn. 2) as soon as the money arrives, in accordance with your Majesty's orders.—La Coruña, 22nd April 1602.
24 April.
Estado, 840.
723. Count Caracena to the King.
Dennis O'Driscoll, brother of the lord of Castlehaven, and Dr. Eugene Egan, have arrived here. If the 20,000 ducats they are to carry back to Ireland had arrived at the same time I would send them off without waiting a single day, seeing how important it is in your Majesty's service. At their request I have had the patache "Santiguillo" made ready to sail, she being so fast a vessel, and they are now only awaiting the money to start. They will take the wine and munitions that can be sent without delaying their departure. Begs for the money to be sent as soon as possible.— Coruña, 24th April, 1602.
25 April.
Estado, 840.
724. O'Donnell to Philip III.
I have on two or three occasions written to your Majesty giving you information as to the peril in which the north of Ireland stands, and asking for some troops to succour the Catholics there, pending the arrival of the main army, but I have received no answer to my satisfaction. I am of opinion that if this force had done no more service to your Majesty than to protect the vassals of O'Neil and my own from sacrifice, and to bring to our side those of our vassals who are serving the enemy, it would have been well worth sending. I understand that, if the force I ask be not given to me, it is rather in punishment for our sins than from any want of goodwill on the part of your Majesty to aid us. If my prayers to this end are all unavailing, I beg your Majesty to send me leave to go thither myself to end my life with the rest of the Catholics of the north.—Coruña, 25th April, 1602.


  • 1. Don Juan del Aguila sailed from Kinsale in March with the Spaniards and a large number of Irish adherents, a list of whose names will be found in Pacata Hibernia.
  • 2. The brother of Donogh O'Driscoll, lord of Castlehaven, was Dennis O'Driscoll, who with others of his family, had accompanied Don Juan del Aguila to Ireland.