Simancas: January 1603

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: January 1603', in Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 4, 1587-1603, (London, 1899) pp. 718-719. British History Online [accessed 23 April 2024]

January 1603

1603. 13 Jan.
Estado, 840.
732. Memorial from Friar Florence Conroy to Philip III.
F. Florence Conroy, late Confessor to Earl O'Donnell, now deceased, submits to your Majesty that since June last, he has followed the Court at the Escorial, first endeavouring to obtain your Majesty's permission for Earl O'Donnell to come to Court, to negotiate certain matters appertaining to the kingdom of Ireland ; and, since the death of that noble Earl at Simancas, urging that your Majesty should be pleased to send some succour to the Irish Catholics, in order to encourage them, and prevent them giving way to despair at the news of the Earl's death, as the Earl himself petitioned your Majesty in his will. The Earl's holy death, your Majesty's clemency, and Almighty God's will, caused the Council of State to decide, a month after the Earl's death, that succour should be sent to Ireland. We then gave hearty thanks to God, because we thought that we had been dispatched and that the business was settled. But for my sins, and those of Ireland and Spain, the succour has not gone, and we are still all here ; for when the resolution had been adopted, the ministers replied to us that another report had to be submitted to your Majesty, and another the following week, and still another a month after that, and a month subsequent still one more. And so seven months have passed before the business was finally referred to the president of finance. But after all we are still being delayed in such a way, that we are now less hopeful than we were on the first day. Those of us who are pressing this business—myself and the Earl's secretary—have spent all that your Majesty has given us, but even if we had much more money than we have, we are so utterly tired out and desperate that we are resolved to say no more about the business.
The Catholics are still afield, and have even gained considerable victories, as will be confirmed from many quarters. God be praised, they do not believe in the Earl's death, as the news only reaches them through enemies. But they are, nevertheless, in extreme need, and for every week that we are delayed here some of their vassals go over to the other side out of sheer despair ; and the English set fresh traps to catch us on the way. We therefore beseech your Majesty by the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, to turn to those poor Catholics who have placed themselves in their present straits in order to serve your Majesty, and who battle against such affliction for the profit and honour of Spain. Things became somewhat quieter in Ireland last year, and we beseech your Majesty that, if orders are given for our despatch speedily, or even if for our sins this cannot be, your Majesty will please inform those poor afflicted Catholics, so that they may be able to make the best terms they can. Your Majesty will thus do a signal service to God, and to His defenceless Catholic servants, so loyal to your Majesty. This will be an act of mercy.
Report of the Council Of State on the above Memorial.
It was decided on the 3rd March last year that his Majesty should send 50,000 ducats, with arms and munitions. It was afterwards, on 2nd November, ordered that the amount should be 30,000 ducats at once and 20,000 (10,000?) ducats a month from the beginning of this year ; and earl O'Neil was to be advised of this. His Majesty ordered the president of finance to provide the 30,000 ducats, so that the money might be sent with Don Martin de la Cerda, in two vessels which were prepared in Coruña for the purpose, and great pressure has been exerted on the president of finance to this effect. He has not, however, yet fulfilled the order, and the consequence is that the Irish are still detained here, and have been obliged to spend in their stay the money that was given to them for the voyage. The season is now so far advanced that if the expedition be delayed any longer Don Martin de la Cerda and his succour, with the Irishmen who accompany him, will be exposed to great peril.
In addition to this, earl O'Neil and the Catholics who follow him will be completely ruined, as they have refused all offers of settlement, confiding in the promises of his Majesty. In this event the enemy will be relieved from the heavy expense of the war, and be able the more easily to attack his Majesty, thus producing irreparable injury. The damage done by the delay has already been great, for the Irish conclude that his Majesty has altered his mind, and is protracting the business with some object which they do not understand, as they do not attribute it to lack of money. As it is agreed that it will not be desirable for his Majesty to abandon the cause of God and his own interests, the Council is of opinion that, the 30,000 ducats should be provided immediately from any available source, so that they may be sent at once by Don Martin. If this cannot be done the Council thinks that these people should be undeceived, so that they may be enabled to make the best terms they can, bad as the consequences might be, and such as his Majesty should never allow.—13th January 1603.