BHO

Venice: January 1586

Pages 128-136

Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 8, 1581-1591. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1894.

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January 1586

Jan. 4. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 302. Lorenzo Priuli, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
A courier from Spain directed to a private gentleman, brings news that the King of Spain has resolved to make the English expedition.
Rome, 4th January 1585 [m.v.].
[Italian.]
Jan. 8. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 303. Lorenzo Bernardo, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
The Ambassador of England and the French resident have made serious complaints to the Grand Vizir about the damage which Hassan Aga of Tripoli has inflicted on the shipping of both Kingdoms. They consider all the steps taken through Governors and so forth as mere pretexts, and they can do nothing but lament and complain. The Capadun Pasha, although he is indignant with Hassan because he has never sent him any presents, cannot do less than defend him against this attack, as Hassan is a creature of his.
Another son has been born to the Sultan by one of his twenty-five slaves, and so he has three males and three females alive.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 8th January 1585 [m.v.].
[Italian; deciphered.]
Jan. 10. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 304. Vincenzo Gradenigo, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
I enclose for your Serenity the report of the Marquis of Santa Cruz upon the subject of Drake, to which I referred in my last. You will gather from this report what is the opinion of the Marquis, and the other points upon which it enlarges. From the many reports to hand it seems that Drake has gone to the Brazils, where it is feared that he will do great damage, all the more so as in those parts he will meet with no check from fortresses nor from troops; he can therefore overrun not only all Brazil, but also Peru. He has a fleet of sixty ships with seven thousand infantry, all well armed, and five hundred gentlemen on horse. He is provisioned for a year. It seems that other sixty great ships are sailing to the Canaries, and will cross over to join Drake's fleet, or else will seize some good harbour on the route of the India fleet to prevent Spain from sending succours there. I enclose some reports on this subject which were yesterday forwarded by courier to his Majesty. Drake is master of the sea and finds no hindrance to the development and execution of his designs; he is likely to maintain his superiority for some time to come, for no steps are being taken here, not because they do not care, but because of the great deficiency of all hinds of stores. (Draco patrone del mare, ne ha impedimento alcuno onde puo disegnare et esseguire tutto il desiderio suo, et per quel che si vede, sar per molto tempo perch qui non si fa provisione, non perch non curino ma per le grandissime difficolt che ne hanno di tutte le cose.) Orders were sent to Seville to arm twelve galleys to be added to this Lisbon fleet; but seeing that it is impossible to complete these, they have not even been begun, although embargo has been laid on other foreign ships for this purpose. Nor should this remissness cause surprise, partly because it is in the character of the nation, partly because neither in Seville nor in Lisbon is there such good order as to allow the hope of manning a fleet in eight days. Besides, the King's determination to see, to understand, and to deal with every point himself, is the source of constant delays, and prevents the completion of the necessary steps to meet the evil, which in the general opinion, and in fact, is most serious. The King's irresolution in this matter causes the persistence of the rumour that he will go to Portugal, as he thinks that without his presence no adequate steps will be taken. On this point, finding myself with Cardinal de Granvelle, I inquired what was the truth as to this Portuguese journey. The Cardinal replicd that it would be of little use for his Majesty to visit Portugal for a few days only, but that he was ready to advise his Majesty to reside there permanently, as a place excellently suited for France, England, Flanders, India, and also for commanding the Mediterranean. He added that this would be the true way in which to curb the Queen of England; but that this will take place now, I doubt, for the King is already tired of moving, and then the Castilians would not allow it (mi rispose Sua Sigria Illma che Vandare il Re a Portogallo per puochi giorni saria cosa di puoco frutto, ma che egli prontissimamente consigliar il fermarsi per sempre come luogo opportuno a Franza, a Inghilterra, a Flandra, all' Indic; et che facilmente potria far correre tutto Mediterraneo, anzi soggionse che questo sarria il vero remedio per levare a fatto Vardire delta Regina d' Inghilterra, ma che questo habbia ad essere per hora io non lo credo perch gia stanco il Re de caminare, poi li Castigliani non lo consentariano). These rumours about Drake have caused the King to give orders that the West India fleet, that is the fleet for Peru and New Spain, should not sail. It is known that Drake is in command of the first sixty ships; it is suspected that Don Antonio, of Portugal, commands the other sixty. We hear from London that these ships have sailed, and further, that Don Antonio has sent two Portuguese converts and one English to Constantinople in his name, and it is possible that they are at this moment in Italy.
Four thousand English are in Holland; of these one thousand are in Flushing. The Dutch with difficulty endure their insolence. This arrival of the English has caused the Prince of Parma to build the citadel of Antwerp; it seems that the leading citizens themselves councilled him not to delay any longer; but the only step taken here for this purpose is the collection of money; a loan of fifty thousand ducats is being negotiated with the Genoese.
The Bull of the Crusade was published here before the Feast of Christmas. It does not give satisfaction as the people are unable to pay the tax of two Reals per head, which is exacted before a man may confess and communicate. They say the King is much consoled by the concessions made to him by the Pope, who has not only accorded him the remains of Pope Gregory's crusade, which ran for two years more, but also for the five years following, so that at one stroke the Pope has given the King a present of a million eight hundred thousand orowns a year, which in seven years means eight million four hundred thousand crowns, all of which is to be collected in special chests in the mint at Madrid. This most important concession has caused much speculation as to the English expedition. They say there are negotiations for a League of the Pope, the King of Spain, your Serenity, Savoy and Tuscany against England; the promoters are the Pope and his Majesty. The question, as a matter of fact, has been under consideration of these Ministers, but is only a rumour.
Madrid, 10th January 1585 [m.v.].
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Enclosed in preceding Despatch. 305. An Account of what the English Fleet may accomplish in case it should cross over to the Indies and then pass into the Pacific, as it has done once before.
Francis Drake has 32 ships and galleons, and many transports and brigatines, rowing vessels; five thousand soldiers, which is the number estimated by the people of Bayona, though the sailors of the fleet pretend that, between sailors and soldiers, he has thirteen thousand.
He can make his course for Rio di Janeiro, on the coast of Brazil, in 22 degrees of south latitude. The port can hold many ships, and is very safe. There he can lay in water, wood, and meat. He can seize-situated about two or three leagues from the port of Rio di Janeiro.
As this lies on the route to Maderia, the Canaries, and the Cape Verd Islands, he can sack these at his leisure.
From the Coast of Bayona to Maderia, with the prevailing north winds, will take six days; from Maderia to the Canaries four days, and from the Canaries to the Cape Verd Islands, eight; eighteen days in all; if he stops to plunder he will take so much longer.
From Cape Verd Islands to Rio di Janeiro he will take fifty days, say two months in all. So that if the fleet set sail this month from Galicia it can reach Rio di Janeiro at the end (of March).
At the mouth of the harbour of Rio di Janeiro there is (a rock) where it would be easy to build a fort able to hold five hundred men and upwards. If he lands his artillery there he can defend the harbour from the fort, which will be on an island, for on one side it has the sea, on the other the harbour, while to east and south-east are the two channels by which the harbour is reached. In this harbour Drake can refit his ships and can leave a certain number to keep open communications with England. With the rest he can sail for the Pacific, shaping his course for the Straits of Magellan, which are five hundred and fifty miles distant from Rio di Janeiro, in fifty two and a half degrees of south latitude. He can enter the Pacific and make the city del Re, of two thousand inhabitants. This he can capture, for it has no troops, no forts, and is an open city; he can make himself master of the district, and prevent any succour from Spain by seizing all the ships he finds. It is likely that he will also capture Panama.
On the other hand, if Drake is unwilling to embark on this voyage he can divide his fleet into two squadrons and sack the island of San Domingo, Port Ricco, and the coast of the mainland as far as Carthage and Nombre de Dios. From the river Chagres, which is fifteen leagues from Nombre de Dios, he can put his infantry in rowing boats and arrive at Venta de Cruz, which is five leagues from Panama. As it is an open place it will be easy to sack. Havanna too is in danger, for though fortified it is very weak, and could easily be captured if anyone landed canon. Not the least of the evils of such operations would be that Drake could thus cut the communications between Spain and the West Indies, and seize the fleets.
Steps to be taken to counteract this mischief. To send a carvel with all speed to the Viceroy and Governors of the Indies, giving them warning of the English, so that they may be prepared and may put everything in order; although, considering the number of ships which have sailed from England, I feel certain that a detachment of them has already gone to the Indies. The Queen has sent to seize the fishing boats in Newfoundland, and it is not likely that she has forgotten the affairs of the West Indies. Considering that England has sent out eighty ships it is necessary for your Majesty to man another fleet with orders to find and fight the English; to careen and refit the ships in the river of Seville so that they may be ready for any voyage, however long, and at the same time to commission a galleon of the Duke of Tuscany; to victual for eight months the forty-five great ships which are at Biscay and Giupusca; to raise a thousand sailors in Catalonia and Genoa to be divided among the ships, as was done in the case of the fleet for the Azores.
Moreover, six thousand infantry must be raised, and a commission issued for a larger figure, so that the full compliment may be secured.
Twenty transports are required from Biscay, similar to those employed in the Azores. Guns, powder, lead, harquebusses, muskets, pikes in reserve for the protection of the coast. Two ships of 400 tons each should be built, and four of 100 tons each; as well as four transports to carry one thousand soldiers. Considering the damage that the English have done to the merchant shipping in these waters during the last two months, and that it is likely that they will do the same to the India fleets, it is necessary to send with those fleets, besides the usual captain and admiral ships, two others at least with each fleet, as well as the convoys.
All these preparations are only to counteract the English fleet. Should Don Antonio sail with the English, and should he attempt an enterprise in Portugal, then the following preparations will be required.
All the fleet and troops above named should be employed to route the enemy off the coast. Six hundred of the Castilian guard of light horse should be sent at once; three hundred stationed on the Douro and three hundred in Lisbon; four thousand infantry should be stationed at Badajoz.
The knights are to hold themselves in readines to come into Portugal. So, too, the garrisons of Toro, Zamorra, Salamanca, and Rodriquez to defend the frontiers between the Douro and the Miuo, and those of Estremadura and Seville to defend Lisbon and its district.
Guns should be mounted in the forts of this city and on the river, and provision of powder, rope, and lead, all that is needed for artillery should be made in abundance. The galleys should be provisioned for four months, and six others sent from Spain with 120 men on board each.
Should the English fleet remain in these waters another fleet will be required for the Indies.
It is necessary for your Majesty's service that all this should be carried out with all rapidity.
[Italian.]
Jan. 11. Original Despatch, Venetian, Archives. 306. Lorenzo Priuli, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
Doubts expressed as to whether the attack on England will take place. Perhaps the recent capture of the King of Scotland will make a change, for both Spanish and English Catholics counted on the person and the forces of that Sovereign.
Rome, 11th January 1585 [m.v.].
[Italian.]
Jan. 11. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 307. Vincenzo Gradenigo, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
I am told that two Spaniards have been sent, one to Aden, the other to Ormuz, to fortify those two places, and to prevent the Turkish ships for the future from going to the Indies to buy pepper, as his Majesty is resolved to be the master of all this trade.
Madrid, 11th January 1585 [m.v.].
[Italian.]
Enclosed in Despatch of January 11. 308. On the 22nd December, 1585, at four o'clock, there entered the port of Cadiz a ship coming from Teneriffe, master, Alvaro Rocha. Benetto Diez, the Royal Judge in the department of the India contracts, resident in this city, caused Alvaro to appear before him to give information on the presence and the number of English corsairs in those islands, that such news might be forwarded to his Majesty and proper steps taken.
Rocha declared on oath, that on the 25th November, as he left the port of Garachio, in the island of Teneriffe, on board the ship he now commands, he fell in with thirteen English corsairs sailing in company, and other seventeen in another squadron, thirty in all; he fled from these and entered a port of Lancerote, called le Saline; the following day two of the thirteen put in. They robbed him of his sails, his bread, and his wine, and left him. The next day other seven sailed in, and stripped him of all his possessions leaving him only the bare hull; they took all the clothing of himself and his crew, and left them in their shirts. The governor of the island gave him a piece of canvass, out of which he made a mizen sail with which he reached Teneriffe, to report to the governor, Juan Nuez, the bastard of Granada, who at once prepared for fight, and sent round notice of the information he had received to the islands of Palma and Gomera.
After two days the two English squadrons came in sight, and effected a junction at Cape Anaga (Roche di Naga) in Teneriffe. When they saw the troops drawn up and the artillery in play, they did not land, but sailed to Palma, where they lowered thirty boats with men on board, to effect a landing. The troops in the island, with the monks, and the priests to encourage them to the defence and to death for the faith of Jesus Christ, prevented a landing and sank one of the boats and all the troops in it, while they rattled up the captain ship and another in such a way that they became unmanageable, and had to be lightened of all their crew and fittings, and taken in tow by the others. They sailed to the island of Ferro where they seized a ship.
Nuez, the governor of Teneriffe. sent Rocha with news of what had happened, and with a despatch for the King to be delivered to Caspar d' Arjuixo. It is eleven days since Rocha left the island.
Asked if he knew what plans the English had, and what route they were taking, he said that when they robbed him in the harbour of le Saline, in Lancerote, they asked him if he would sail with them to the mainland, and to the Straits of Magellan, and promised to make him a rich man.
Asked if he knew who was in command of the English fleet, he said that at the time they robbed him he spoke with the commander, and they told him that the brother of John Drake was in command.
All this he declared on oath, but could not sign as he did not know how to write.
Asked if he knew whether they had done any other damage, he answered that before he was robbed, the Corregidor of the Great Canary, Doctor Mochieco, said he had been robbed of his ship by the French; and having chartered another ship, that too was seized near Cape S. Vincent, and he was taken back to Teneriffe to be ransomed, which was done for four barrels of wine.
[Italian.]
Enclosed in Despatch of January 11. 309. Letter for the Bishop Cornelius, an Irishman; detained by his Majesty, 3rd November 1585.
The Queen of England has three thousand soldiers ready to send into Flanders against his Majesty; and has ordered the Ministers of the Church to pay a third of their incomes to maintain these troops.
Upwards of one hundred ships have left England with orders from the Queen to make as much money as they can in the islands and in the Indies.
After the three thousand men are in Flanders the Queen will send an Ambassador to his Majesty to ask the meaning of the embargo on English ships, and to inquire whether there is peace or war.
The master of the ship which sailed three days after the letter was written says that the fleet had not returned yet, and they said it would sail to the Indies.
[Italian.]
Enclosed in Despatch of January 11. 310. Report of Jean Peris, master of the French ship Girales of S. Malo, and of Jacquez, pilot of the same.
They sailed from a port called Sonese (Swansea ?) in Wales, laden with coal on the 22nd November; and into another port, six leagues of ?, called Vastito (Barnstaple ?), the English have brought three Portuguese prizes, two laden with Brazilian wood, and the other with salt and a mixed cargo. He heard the English say that one hundred and fifty ships had sailed to plunder the Spanish. Asked if the English fleet under Drake had returned to those waters, he he said he had heard that the fleet was still absent, and that it was provisioned for a year.
Asked if he had fallen in with other English, he said that on his way he met two great men-of-war with three tiers of guns (che portavano tre mani d' artiglaria), and one transport. They took his money and his instruments in spite of the commander's orders that they were not be molested, because they were Frenchmen. That all English merchant-men were fully armed.
[Italian.]
Jan. 17. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 311. Giovanni Dolfin, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
On the first day of the year a truce for three years between the King of France and the King of Spain, was published at Cambray, in accordance with the terms suggested by the Prince of Parma. Both sides have laid down arms, and peace and quiet are drawing near.
Prince Maurice, son of the late Prince of Orange, who was named Governor of Holland and Zealand by the Queen of England, before the arrival of the Earl of Leicester, who was sent as Lieutenant-General for this war, made an attempt on Nimegen in Guelderland. After having thrown up some works and placed five pieces in position, he was assailed by four thousand Spanish and fled, leaving his guns behind him in the enemies hands.
Paris, 17th January 1586.
[Italian.]
Jan. 20. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 312. Giovanni Dolfin, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Some weeks ago the Prince of Cond went to England, whence he has recently returned, accompanied, as far as Rochelle, by 15 English ships. As yet it is impossible to discover the results of this journey; everyone talks in the way that consorts with his own wishes. But I am told that the French Ambassador in England reports that the Queen recommended peace, and that Cond brings back nothing but words.
The English in the Low Countries have attempted to seize Dunkirk, but had failed, with some loss.
Paris, 20th January 1586.
[Italian.]
Jan. 25. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 313. Vincenzo Gradenigo, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
There is no word of Drake. They suspect that he is engaged in important operations. The whole sea is swarming with English corsairs. It is now stated that the Queen of England has adopted as son, and named as Successor, the King of Scotland, with whom his Majesty has always been on good terms.
Madrid, 25th January 1585 [m.v.].
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Jan 28. Copy of Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 314. Matheo Zane, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
There is circulating at Court an ingenious and pungent declaration by the Queen of England, setting forth her reasons for undertaking the protectorate of Flanders.
Prague, 28th January 1585 [m.v.].
[Italian.]
Jan. 31. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 315. Lorenzo Bernardo, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
The Capadun Pasha talked much of the Emperor Charles V. and the Sultan Suleiman, and said that Goletta, which Charles had stormed with so much difficulty, fell before him in a few days because he had discovered the true way to attach any fortress; and so saying he drew on the ground a plan of his trenches and other works. I gathered from his remarks that he intended to indicate the weakness of France, which left Spain without a counterpoise, and that consequently Venice should join in alliance against Spain. This, I take it, is the policy of the English Ambassador, although the Capadun hates the English and above all their Ambassador.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 31st January 1585 [m.v.].
[Italian; deciphered.]