Simancas: June 1587, 1-15

Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 4, 1587-1603. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1899.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.


, 'Simancas: June 1587, 1-15', in Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 4, 1587-1603, (London, 1899) pp. 92-101. British History Online [accessed 22 May 2024].

. "Simancas: June 1587, 1-15", in Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 4, 1587-1603, (London, 1899) 92-101. British History Online, accessed May 22, 2024,

. "Simancas: June 1587, 1-15", Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 4, 1587-1603, (London, 1899). 92-101. British History Online. Web. 22 May 2024,

June 1587, 1-15

1 June.
Paris Archives, K. 1448. 120.
94. The King to Bernardino De Mendoza.
On the 13th ultimo all your letters then to hand were answered. Yesterday yours the 10th, 20th, and 23rd May came to hand together, and although there has only been time to note the English news, I hasten to acknowledge them, and to urge you to send by express all you can learn of armaments in England, for whatever purpose intended. Try also to discover why the ships from Holland remain in the Channel, and whether Winter has left with those 14 ships to join Drake, and if so, with what object. The reports they are spreading, that they have sent to recall Drake, cannot be believed. He was at Cape St. Vincent a few days since. We are rapidly effecting the junction of our fleets, and they will very shortly be in good order for sailing.—Getafe, 1st June 1587.
Note.— A letter of 20th June, from the King to Mendoza, acknowledges the receipt of the above-mentioned letters at length, and again requests the information asked for, but contains nothing further of interest.
6 June.
Paris Archives, K. 1566. 141.
95. Document headed "Advices from England, dated 6 June, 1587, received in Paris the 20th."
Drake had written to England, saying that he learned from the men he had captured that the preparations being made by your Majesty against England were very great, sufficient to maintain a fleet of 40,000 men for a year, but he hoped that the damage he had done would now prevent your Majesty from mustering a great fleet. He would ensure this if the Queen would send him a reinforcement of ships, as he would then be able to stop the galleys from joining the ships at Lisbon. He had victualled his ships for more than six months with the biscuit and wine he had captured from your Majesty's vessels, and he would distribute the meat and other stores so that they should last the same length of time. He was confident of being able to fulfil his mission of preventing the junction of your Majesty's fleet in Spain this year, if he were furnished with the aid he required. They need only make such preparations in England as would be necessary in case any stray ships went from Spain to assault the villages.
When the above letter from Drake was received, it was decided that four out of the eight ships the Queen had guarding the west end of the Channel should be sent to Drake, and that 10 merchantmen, of from 80 to 100 tons burden, should be fitted out in Bristol and the West-country ; the whole 14 vessels taking 1,500 or 2,000 men, sailors and soldiers together. Some people thought that these ships could be made ready in a fortnight, but others were of opinion that it would take much longer. Ten more of the Queen's ships were in the Thames ready for sea. It was feared that if any armed ships from Spain were to go out and meet the 14 vessels before they effected their junction with Drake, the English ships might be destroyed, as they would not be so well armed and formed as Drake's fleet. It was uncertain whether they would be commanded by Grenville, a gentleman who has been sailing as a pirate, or Frobisher, who they thought would agree with Drake better than the other. (fn. 1)
8 June.
Paris Archives, K. 1566. 112.
96. Dr. Nicholas Wendon to the King.
Fifteen years have passed since your petitioner, Nicholas Wendon, an English gentleman, archdeacon of Suffolk and a doctor of the High Court of Chancery of England, left his country for the sake of the Catholic faith, relinquishing over 1,500 ducats a year income, and in consideration thereof it pleased the late Pope Gregory XIII. to grant him a canonry in St. Gery, Cambrai. When he had lived there five years the unhappy rebellion took place, and on the said Archdeacon publicly displaying his duty to your Majesty, he was forced to leave the city with Archbishop Barlemont, and abandon all he possessed there. Your Majesty's ambassadors, Juan Bautista de Tassis and Don Bernardino de Mendoza, knowing the whole of the circumstances, and moved by compassion for his affliction and long suffering for the sake of the Catholic religion in England, and then at Cambrai, and for his fidelity to your Majesty, obtained a year ago from the duke of Parma a grant of 20 crowns a month to support him in his present need. Notwithstanding this, owing to the many demands for money in Flanders, he has never received the said allowance ; and this poor archdeacon humbly supplicates your Majesty to consider his poverty and suffering, he having no other means of support but your bounty, to grant him some increase of the allowance of 20 crowns a month so that it may equal those paid to most of the English gentlemen of quality by your Majesty's charity, and that it should be paid in Paris where he lives, as the other English pensioners are paid, through Don Bernardino de Mendoza.—Nicholas Wendon, Provost, St. Gery, Cambrai. Paris, 8th June 1587.
9 June.
Paris Archives, K. 1566. 143.
97. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
The French ambassador in England writes that in his audience with the Queen he told her he would not speak of what had passed, as he feared that in his own exculpation he might say something that might displease her. The Queen had at once taken his hand and said she had never thought he was to blame. The audience resulted in a discussion with the Treasurer and Walsingham about the seizures, and the wheat ships that had been detained were released. With this and the recent fair weather for ships from Holland, 150 vessels loaded with grain have arrived on the coast of Normandy, and the famine here has consequently somewhat abated. The King has kept delaying the audience of the English ambassadors, apparently to give him time to hear what his mother has arranged at Rheims and to be governed thereby. (fn. 2) He received the ambassadors on the 7th without any great show of affection. They handed him a paper, containing, doubtless, the points to be settled about the arrests, which paper the King sent to Secretary Brulart. As Waad was instructed when he came, to deal with certain seizures of English property at Rouen, he said that the Queen thought it strange that some of this property should have been sold since Waad's arrival here, whereupon the King replied that it was much stranger still that such a man as he (Waad) should dare to say as much to him. If I can learn the points under discussion I will report them to your Majesty. The King has appointed M. de Joyeuse, Belièvre, Secretary Pinart, and President Brisson as a committee to deal with the seizures.—Paris, 9th June 1587.
9 June.
Paris Archives, K. 1566. 145.
98. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
The audience of the French ambassador with the queen of England resulted in his agreeing with the Councillors to whom the Queen referred the matter, and I send enclosed a copy of the articles adopted.
The new friend (fn. 3) reports that the ambassador in the course of the discussion told Cecil and Walsingham that the Queen's cool treatment of Belièvre had caused the latter not to declare his mission on certain points which would have given great pleasure to the Queen (and from this it may be inferred what action he would take about the queen of Scotland), and it would therefore be advisable for the Queen to send some personage hither on the pretext of this commission (about the seizures) who could at the same time treat of the other matters which Belièvre had not mentioned. I am told that the Queen writes to her ambassador here asking him what person he thinks will be best to come.
He is also informed that Chateauneuf has told them that I have been pressing the King in various audiences to join your Majesty against England, and that he had replied that it was not fitting that he should listen to such proposals. They say I recently had an audience in which I handed to the King a letter from your Majesty about the business of the friars of St. Catharine's, in Barcelona, and they also inform the English ambassador here that I had recently delivered another letter to the King, of which they would send him a copy, in which your Majesty again asks him (the king of France) to unite with you against England.
Your Majesty will see by this the fictions they make use of here. The new friend is so keen that he wrote to me instantly what was passing, in order that I might say what would he the best course he could take in the matter for your Majesty's interests. I answered that what they wrote was a lie ; as would be proved if they in England asked for the original letter, instead of a copy. He was much pleased with the suggestion, which he assured me he would duly adopt.
I understand that the English ambassadors have said that the King did not receive them so well as they expected, which they attribute to orders from the Queen-mother, so as not to give offence to the Guises. They (the English ambassadors) said to the King that he would already have heard from his ambassador of the favourable reception accorded to him by the Queen, and that the latter had relased Trapes ; whereupon his Majesty replied that that was not what he had expected, and that his own dignity and that of his Minister demanded something more than the mere release of Trapes. The Queen, he said, ought to punish the man who had imagined such a piece of roguery. They gave the King the heads for discussion, which he said he would consider, and send his answer by Brulart. I will report what occurs.
The King and his mother attach much importance to their having been informed that the queen of England was negotiating through me an agreement with your Majesty, and this makes them think that your preparations are rather for the purpose of enabling you to exact better terms, than with the intention of attacking her.— Paris, 9th June 1587.
9 June.
Paris Archives, K. 1566. 147.
99. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
Your Majesty's right to the Crown of England is being declared by Englishmen everywhere. They look to it for relief from their oppression and exile. They write from Brussels that some Englishmen there, desirous of flattering the duke of Parma, are saying that, although your Majesty is the legitimate possessor of the Crown of Portugal by virtue of the laws there, you cannot be so of that of England, and that the succession therefore passes, through the incapacity of the king of Scotland, to the son of the duke of Parma. They have drawn up a genealogical tree of this nonsense, and are going to have it printed. (fn. 4)
I not only wrote to the count de Olivares about the archbishop of Glasgow, as I reported to your Majesty, but also caused him to write to Cardinal Sanzio. He and Cardinal Mondovi, who is the protector of Scotland there, spoke to his Holiness about it, and he told them to write, instructing the Archbishop to accept the post of ambassador of the king of Scotland. The Archbishop has written to the latter, saying that for certain reasons he begs to be excused from serving him as ambassador, although he will remain here a year to forward affairs, and assist the persons who may be sent to take charge of them. This is only an artifice until he sees how the affair which Bruce has gone about may turn out ; and if the King does not show much attachment to the Catholic religion he (the Archbishop) does not wish to be prevented by his post of ambassador from aiding those who are better disposed towards it.
The King was keeping in prison the Master of Grey, who was so friendly with the queen of England, on the charge of having been concerned in the execution of his mother. Parliament had been convened for the beginning of June and they write from Scotland that the queen of England has signified to the king of Scotland that she had agreed with your Majesty, and he might therefore consider whether it would not be advantageous for him to be friendly with her.
I understand that on Walsingham being told that the king of Scotland was showing courage in the matter of his mother's death, he replied that if he boasted much more they would send him the same road as his mother for 1,000l.—a little more than 3,000 crowns. —Paris, 9th June, 1587.
Note.—In a letter of the same date as the aforegoing, addressed to Don Juan de Idiaquez, Mendoza mentions that a person had just arrived from London, which place he had left on the 3rd, bringing news of the arrival in England of a small vessel of Drake's squadron with advices of Drake's having engaged certain ships of the Spanish fleet and that he still remained on the coast of Spain. In another letter (holograph) from the same to the same, Mendoza urgently presses for a more liberal supply of money or he cannot fulfil his Majesty's orders satisfactorily.
June 9.
Paris Archives, K. 1566. 146.
100. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
I reply to your Majesty's letter of the 13th ultimo received here on the 26th. Although I did everything in my power (as I said in my despatches) to send news of Drake's departure with his fleet the ports were closed in order to prevent the transmission of the intelligence, and so much cunning was employed in this that even Secretary Walsingham refrained from sending hither a despatch from his mistress, so that the courier might not say anything about it. Notwithstanding this, if Villeroy had not detained the passport for four days, as he did, the post having passed safely (which is something, in the present state of the roads), my despatches would have reached your Majesty some days before. To the misfortune of my news having arrived too late must be added the fact that God favoured Drake with just such weather as he required for his object, both on his departure from London and after his sailing from Plymouth on the 11th April (o.s.), when the wind continued so favourable that the Queen, wishing to impress upon Chateauneuf the French ambassador, that all her designs turned out successfully, told him she had news of the 13th May that Drake and his fleet had burnt the ships in Cadiz and had sacked the country. The ambassador replied that it was bard to believe, whereupon she said "Then you do not believe what is possible." He wrote this hither by the gentleman who I mentioned had brought an account of his audience, before the news arrived from Spain. They did not credit it here, and they had me asked secretly about it, as the business did not seem one that could have been done in so short a time, and it was not possible for the Queen to have received the news at the time she made the remark. (fn. 5) It is evident that she said what she did depending upon the fair wind and the belief that he (Drake) would find Cadiz unprepared, thanks to the secrecy of his departure. I can assure your Majesty, and call God as my witness, that so far as lies in my power, I do not lose an instant in reporting what I hear. I may also say that the new confidant has taken care hitherto to advise without loss of a moment whatever may touch your interests.
The last news, of 29th ultimo, brings no intelligence of the preparation of a naval force formed of the 14 Queen's ships now in the Thames, although they are ready with arms, munitions, and men. I cannot report the number of Dutch and Flushing ships in the Thames and the Channel, because as they have no commander, and their object is only plunder, each one goes whither he lists. Sometimes they run into Flushing and other ports, and, according as the weather serves, sail for the purpose of robbery. Nevertheless, passengers between England and France, who are best able to speak of it, give many statements as to the ships they meet, and also of the Rochelle pirates who come up to the entrance of the Channel. All that can be gathered from these statements is that the ships are not provided with munitions and stores to enable them to undertake a voyage with a regular fleet.
The queen of England has no troops in Holland but those who were in the garrisons. It was said in London that the earl of Leicester would shortly go thither with 1,000 infantry to fill up the English companies, but the new confidant assures me that this has not yet been decided upon. In Ireland there are only the ordinary troops, which do not exceed 1,000 men, and it was thought that the Queen would soon send another Viceroy, as Thomas Parret (Sir John Perrot), the present one, is very unpopular.
Italian merchants write from London that several English ships, freighted for Leghorn and other Italian ports, had returned to England when they had learnt of Drake's action in Cadiz, bringing with them some ships they had plundered.
The Scots ambassador here, not having yet had audience of the King, sent the gentleman who came to him from Scotland to the duke of Guise. When the Queen-Mother departed from here she left strict orders for every effort to be made both through the Scots ambassador and Englishmen to discover whether any negotiation was being carried on on your Majesty's behalf.
Letters have been received from Scotland, dated 12th May, reporting that the King had held a meeting of nobles in which his Majesty had ordered Morton to quit Scotland, promising him the enjoyment of his revenues in any place he chose out of the kingdom. A month had been allowed him to be gone, but it was believed that the term would be extended from time to time ; and so the earl of Angus and the English faction, who are urging the banishment of Morton at the instance of the queen of England, could be temporised with.
I have no news of Bruce, but I hope in God that by this time, if he has had fair weather, he will be in Scotland.—Paris, 9th June 1587.
9 June.
Paris Archives, K. 1566. 148.
101. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
The arrival of André de Loo in London caused the rumour I have mentioned, that the arrangements for peace with your Majesty were on the point of being concluded, and Don Antonio went to the Queen to ask for a passport as she was treating for peace. She said it was true, and if it were settled she pledged her word to place him in safety out of the country in any place he chose. She would give him a passport at once, and pending an arrangement between her and your Majesty she recommended him to dismiss the Portuguese he had with him, except 12 or 15 persons ; and to send and ascertain whether the rebel states would help him with some ships as they had promised on former occasions, in which case he could push his claims, and she would not fail to help him with forces the moment it was decided that she was not to have peace with your Majesty and Drake returned. In accordance with this Don Antonio dismissed over 80 Portuguese as they themselves assert, telling them to stay in Holland for two months, after which he would take them back. For this purpose he gave them five crowns each, and ordered them to go and serve the rebels. For various reasons this did not commend itself to most of them, and they asked for passports enabling them to go whithersoever they pleased, and the majority of them have come to France. Some of them have come to me to beg for passports and your Majesty's pardon, and I have replied that the bad behaviour of some of their countrymen for whom I had interceded with your Majesty would not allow me to do as they asked. They have now scattered over France, some going to Marshal Montmorenci ; and Don Antonio Meneses and Don Juan de Castro are starving in an inn here. M. de Chatres, governor of Dieppe, who surrendered at Terceira, has received four of these Portuguese who had been at the Mina and is going to send them out in a ship to plunder. Don Antonio was sending his eldest son to the rebel states, but the Queen told him it would be better that Diego Botello should go, and he went to Zeeland some time ago, saying that if the States helped Don Antonio well he would soon go thither, and send to Bearn to ask for support. Don Antonio's people here are trying to ascertain whether the King will receive him well if he come hither.
On the 29th ultimo Don Antonio was at Stepney, a mile out of London. In answer to your Majesty's inquiry as to his not having embarked in Drake's ships, I may say that the Queen had no other object than the attack upon Cadiz and afterwards the intercepting of the flotillas, and she therefore did not wish Don Antonio to accompany Drake. He himself did not press the matter, as he thought the number of ships insufficient and not so many as had been promised him.
I have just received letters from England of 2nd instant, saying that Don Antonio had now gone to a house in London which had been given to him by the earl of Leicester. He had fallen out with the barber who has served him for over 27 years because he would not clothe the latter any longer. This Thomas, the barber, has come to see me here, saying that his wife is in prison in Portugal by your Majesty's orders, and he wanted a passport from me to enable him to go and cast himself at your Majesty's feet with a rope round his neck. I gave him the same answer as I did the rest.
M. de la Chatre, governor of Dieppe, has decided to send a ship of 250 or 300 tons, manned only by Portuguese, to the Mina and the coast of Brazil.—Paris, 9th June 1587.
Note.—In another letter of the same date as the above, entirely on Portuguese affairs, Mendoza gives a long account of a secret interview he had had with a Portuguese friar named Diego Carlos, who had come from England and professed to have Don Antonio's authority for approaching the king of Spain with submission and hope of pardon. Mendoza treated the proposal with studied coolness, saying that no terms could be made, but Don Antonio must cast himself on the King's mercy. He asks for instructions as to whether he is to continue the negotiations.
12 June.
Paris Archives, K. 1566. 152.
102. The Duke Of Guise to Bernardino De Mendoza.
Hints his dissatisfaction at not being kept informed of the progress of Bruce's negotiation. The archbishop of Glasgow and all the king of Scotland's servants are aware that he (Guise) had cognisance of it, and the king of Scotland is sure to write and ask him for advice, in which case he cannot decently pretend to be ignorant of the matter. He begs Mendoza to tell him how he should act in the interests of the king of Spain, as his obligation towards the latter outweighs all other considerations. If the king of Scots is his cousin, he looks upon the king of Spain as the common father of all Catholics, and especially of him (Guise), but in serving him he wishes to be dealt with in the same honourable fashion as heretofore, and as he (Guise) has ever adopted. (fn. 6) —12th June 1587.
12 June.
Estado, 949.
103. Count De Olivares to the King.
They are making much here of the king of Scotland having restored the archbishop of Glasgow and two other bishops, one of them being that Carthusian friar about whom I have written recently. Cardinal Mondovi sent to tell me, as an affair of great importance, and subsequently the Pope said that he had been informed, and asked me what I thought of it. I replied that very probably the King was so desirous of being revenged for the death of his mother, in which he could only hope to be aided by the Catholics, that he had adopted this means of encouraging them with the hope that he would be a Catholic ; and he would, no doubt, do something else at the same time, of which we knew nothing, in order not to lose ground with the heretics in consequence. I said I knew so much of the King's bad inclination that it would take a great deal of persuasion to make me hope for his sincere conversion. The Pope did not appear to disagree with me in this.
His Holiness told me that he had given the new collector a credential letter for your Majesty, and had ordered him to recommend the English enterprise to you, and to say that the king of France had offered to help, for which reason it would be well to see whether something could not be got from him (i.e., the king of France), if only a promise that he would not oppose it. I tried to undeceive him on this point, as I have done before, and although at the time he seems to understand it, he has not even yet been quite disillusioned, or he would not have instructed Bressa (fn. 7) to speak thus on the English affair, after I had induced him to say nothing until a reply was received from your Majesty. I tried to confirm him in this, as Bressa's departure drew near before any reply came, and he told me that he had already spoken about the matter to him, but had said nothing more than that he should forward the business as much as possible, and persuade your Majesty to it, but that if that were unsuccessful, he should try to undertake the enterprise himself, or at least leave enough money behind him for his successor to undertake it.
I send copy of Allen's letter (fn. 8) in favour of the English who surrendered strong places to your Majesty, which letter I sent to the duke of Parma.—Rome, 12th June 1587.
15 June.
Estado, 949.
104. Count De Olivares to the King.
I forgot to say that Melino and Allen have conceived the idea that your Majesty has cooled towards the enterprise, as they see the time advancing and have received a letter from Don Bernardino de Mendoza saying that the death of the queen of Scotland is greatly against the expedition. They are therefore using every effort to convince me that, not only will the Queen's death be no loss to the business, but will do away with many of the difficulties which beset it, as much trouble would have had to be taken to save her during the enterprise, and more still after God had crowned it with success. —Rome, 15th June 1587.


  • 1. Drake had fallen out with his second in command (Captain Borough) on the Cadiz expedition, and had placed him under arrest.
  • 2. Catharine de Medici had gone to negotiate with the princes of the League and induce them to lay down their arms. She was unsuccessful, mainly owing to the imprudence and impracticability of the King.
  • 3. Sir Edward Stafford, the English Ambassador.
  • 4. Alexander Farnese had married Maria, princess of Portugal, daughter of the Prince Dom Duarte, and their children had, therefore, decidedly a better fundamental right to the Crown of Portugal than Philip had. Philip mainly depended upon the Portuguese descent for his claim to the English Crown, so that Parma's son might have been a formidable opponent. It was the opinion of many in England and Flanders at the time of the Armada that Parma's want of enthusiasm, and the inaction which caused the failure of the expedition, were largely owing to his annoyance at the claims of his children having been so cavalierly set aside.
  • 5. This is a mistake of Mendoza's. Drake ran down with a north-west gale behind him from Plymouth to Cadiz in seven days, and entered the harbour on the 19th April (o.s.), leaving it on the 1st May (o.s.). Even, therefore, if the date of 13th May mentioned by the Queen was new style (which is unlikely) the despatches were dated three days after Drake had sailed out of Cadiz.
  • 6. Guise greatly resented his exclusion from the Spanish plans in Scotland, as he knew that they were directed to the prejudice of his kinsman James in any case. He subsequently divulged the whole plan to James, and this was mainly instrumental in rendering it abortive.
  • 7. Bressa was the newly appointed collector of the Papal revenues in Spain.
  • 8. The King remarks in the margin that the enclosures mentioned were not received.