Simancas: May 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: May 1602', in Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 4, 1587-1603, (London, 1899) pp. 712-715. British History Online [accessed 23 April 2024]

May 1602

2 May.
French Estado, 840.
725. George Car to Philip III.
Since I went thither (i.e. to Madrid) I have several times written to your Majesty, urging you to embrace our business (fn. 1) before any other, and have set forth the arguments which might influence your Majesty in this direction. It has, however, pleased your Majesty to prefer the Irish affair, doubtless for very sufficient reasons. I have heard with great sorrow of the result ; which I fear may induce your Majesty to take another course. I have, therefore, thought it my duty to write to your Majesty, humbly to beg you to keep in view the glory of God and your Majesty's honour, and in view of our trouble not to waver in the task to which you have set your hand. Although in the past I have urged that a commencement should be made with our business, I now supplicate your Majesty to the contrary, and that you will persevere in the matter of Ireland, as affairs are not so encouraging as they were ; and it touches your Majesty's prestige not to desist from a task already commenced. The earl of Tyrone is still ready to do his duty. The faults of the undertaking hitherto have been a bad supply of provisions, and very small forces. With regard to the former point, I will promise in the name of our people to carry all the victuals and other stores necessary to the fleet in good time, and in addition to this, I will undertake on my own behalf to find means here, under cover of trade, to send plenty of wine and wheat for our people. With regard to forces, we can send cavalry and infantry with the greatest ease ; and we could raise our levies the more readily and with less suspicion if your Majesty would consent to our people arriving in Ireland before your Majesty's forces. The most important thing of all is that your Majesty should have some armed ships off the Irish coast ; and, in order to demonstrate my devotion to your service, I will promise to have five or six large ships built, with as many small ones, at the price of 10,000 crowns each, with their ordnance ; and man them with our sailors. There are, moreover, two ships belonging to your Majesty in Calais, for which I will find a purchaser and will man them with our sailors and send them to Spain.—Bordeaux, 2nd May 1602.
The Council of State deliberated on the above letter, and reported as follows. The Council does not know what grounds this gentleman George Car has for his offers, and it is in ignorance as to the course his Majesty will decide upon adopting with regard to Ireland. If, however, the Irish affair is to be prosecuted it will be advantageous to keep up a good understanding with the Scottish Catholics, as they are so near Ireland. It will therefore in such case be advisable to ask George Car to come hither, that we may learn more about it.
7 May.
Estado, 840.
726. Report of the Council of State to Philip III. on Ireland.
Count Caracena and earl O'Donnell write letters dated 15th, 22nd, 24th, and 25th April, urging the great importance of sending prompt aid to Ireland, in consequence of the danger they are in.
O'Donnell still presses for the 2,000 men he requests, with arms, munitions, and money, so that he may return and hold out until the main succour arrives. He asserts that this will be the best course. Count Caracena is of an opinion that letters might be sent to earl O'Neil with arms, munitions, and money, and a few unattached soldiers ; so that he may be encouraged to hold out, pending the arrival of assistance. Caracena thinks that the same course might be followed with Bearhaven. The brother of Castlehaven will leave Coruña as soon as the 20,000 ducats that he has to take arrive. Earl O'Donnell begs your Majesty, if his request cannot be complied with, to allow him to come to see your Majesty on the subject, or else return to Ireland and end his life with his own people.
The Council reminds your Majesty of its former advice, that no small force should be sent to Ireland, as the risk will be great, as we have seen in the past. This opinion has since been confirmed by the Council of war. The coming of O'Donnell will depend upon your Majesty's decision as to the main question of Ireland. If a sufficient force is to be sent, he can go to Ireland with it, and he should not be allowed to go now. If it be necessary to keep him in hand, Caracena might say that he has orders for the force, and O'Donnell might come hither. If the affair is to be deferred, he ought not to be allowed to come ; but could accompany to Ireland the aid it has been decided to send.
13 May.
Estado, 840.
727. Report of the Council of State to Philip III. on the invasion of Ireland, or England.
The Council has considered the letters of the Adelantado on the employment of the galleys, etc., this year. He is still of opinion that if all the arms, stores, etc., ordered arrive in time, the Irish affair may be undertaken this year ; but he reserves his opinion as to whether they will be ready in time, until his arrival in Lisbon.
If the Irish affair cannot be undertaken, no prestige will be lost in the preparations, as it can be said that they are to guard the coasts of Spain. In his later letters, he relates a conversation with Frederico Spinola, who assures him that with the 6,000 Italians, which will be sent secretly by his brother the marquis Spinola to Flanders, he will be able to bring to the place where the galleys may be 11,000 men, including the 5,000 Germans and Walloons, who are being raised there. This being the case he (the Adelantado) thinks it will be best to invade England ; as with Frederico's troops he will have all together 25,000 men, which he thinks will be sufficient for the purpose, by God's grace. He proposes that Frederico should post hither about it, and be sent from here at once to Flanders to receive his Italians from his brother, and raise the Germans and Walloons. The eight galleys now under orders to be delivered to him should await the arrival of the rest, and carry out the instructions from here. When they anchor in an English port, he will send 50 galleys to bring over Frederico's troops. When they join his force he will retain one squadron of galleys, and send the rest back to Spain. He calculates that Flanders will provide all that is necessary ; and request 2,000,000 ducats as a reserve.
He presses that a large number of men should be raised so that the 14,000 he takes with him may be fully effective. He wishes them to be drawn from the cities and towns of Andalucia, and that old soldiers should be brought from the African garrisons, their places to be taken by recruits. He asks for 500 horsemen from Granada, and the guards, for whom horses will be found there (in England?) and he makes a note of the artillery he will want. He urges forcibly that all should be ready without delay, and if the force is to be sent to Ireland, he asks for a million ducats reserve to carry with him. He sends a statement of the persons he wishes to take with him.
The Council highly appreciates the zeal and patriotism of the Adelantado, and thanks him for his proposal ; but they note that he had quite changed his opinion, in consequence of a conversation with Frederico Spinola, and now supposes that with 14,000 men from here, and 11,000 from Spinola, he could invade England. If all could be got together in a time stated, perhaps the Council would agree with him about going to England, which is the source of all the evil ; but as Frederico's levies are so uncertain, and the Archduke wants troops badly, it is doubtful if the Adelantado could have them all, even when they arrived in Flanders, or that so many Germans could be raised as he says. It is also questionable whether the stores could be collected in time, and the season is so far advanced that the Council think that, even for Ireland, all things will not be ready, and the succour must be sent off at once without waiting for great forces, or the two millions reserve which the Adelantado wants to take to England, the raising of which would be neither speedy nor easy. It will not be easy, even, to supply the sum he requests for Ireland. Besides this, Frederico in his confidential letter to the duke of Lerma is not so open about the forces he could supply. Indeed he only regrets in all humility that the enterprise should be undertaken by other hands than his, and it would not be prudent to embark on such an enterprise with a man who appears so discontented as Frederico does, although his discontent may originate in zeal ; for which opportunities will occur to reward him. For all these and other reasons, the Council is of opinion that the invasion of England should be abandoned and that of Ireland undertaken, if the galleys, etc. can be got together in time. The Council therefore approves of the Adelantado's first suggestion, that when all is ready in Lisbon, he should see whether there is time to undertake the Irish enterprise as ordered, as no prestige will be lost by our preparations so far.
The Adelantado should have all the men, provisions, and everything else he asked for, without bating him anything.
Strict orders should be sent to all parts, and couriers sent flying to fulfil his requests.
The Adelantado should be ordered to deliver at once to Frederico the eight galleys, and he will find in Lisbon the 1,000 recruits he is to take. He (Frederico) is to be told that he cannot have the, 2,000 Spaniards promised him, but he is to execute his mission, if he thinks he can do so with due safety.
Note in the handwriting of Philip III.—I am glad to see the careful consideration given to this, and approve of the decision, which is wise. As the galleys, etc., from Italy are expected shortly, let no time be lost in making all other arrangements.


  • 1. The plans of the Scottish Catholics.