BHO

Venice: June 1586

Pages 169-174

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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June 1586

June 7. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 361. Giovanni Gritti, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
I hear that Drake has returned home, and this will alter the whole scheme of the Spaniards for an attack on England.
Rome, 7th June 1586.
[Italian.]
June 9. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 362. Giovanni Dolfin, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Letters from Antwerp announce that the Prince of Parma in person has sat down before Grave; and, by the 28th of last month, had sixteen pieces in position. As he was reconoitring the situation, his horse was shot under him, and he escaped by the purest grace of God. The English army is camped four leagues off.
Paris, 9th June 1586.
[Italian.]
June 10. Copy of Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 363. Matheo Zane, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
There has been living in Prague for some two years now, an English doctor, a man of great learning; he has a following. He does not profess a Christian life, but declares that he has revelations from angels. Partly on this account and partly because he affirms that he possesses a secret of riches, in Alchemy, he draws many after him. When the Pope was informed he rightly feared the appearance of a new sect. He requested the Emperor, who consented, to expel the Englishman from the empire and its dependencies; and though he has many friends he was forced to leave for Saxony three days after the publication of the Imperial decree. It is thought that he will not find an asylum there for long, as all the powers have been put on their guard against his religious innovations.
Prague, 10th June 1586.
[Italian.]
June 14. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 364. Giovanni Gritti, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
I hear that the Pope has sounded the French King on the subject of the attack on England, and has had a very clear answer, that the King would be quite willing to see that kingdom in other hands than those of the Queen, but he would never be satisfied to see it in the hands of Spain. It has been suggested that the kingdom might be given to the King of Scotland, who, though a heretic could easily be brought back to Catholicism. The French, however, say that no one will believe that Spain, when by its arms and gold it has conquered England, will be content to hand it over to others; for the Spaniards are not monks who, in virtue of Papal orders, can be compelled to give up what they have conquered by their arms.
(Intendo anco per buona via che il Papa ha cercato di sapere da quei che fanno per il Re come Sua Mta Christianissima fusse per sentire l'impressa d'Inghilterra, et assai chiaramente gli stato risposto, che il Re vorria ben veder quel Regno in mano d'altri che delta Regina, ma che non vorria per mai vederlo cader nelle mani di Spagna; et seben si discorso che il Regno si potria metter nel Re di Scotia, il quale benche sia heretico, facil cosa saria ridurlo al Catholicismo, dicono non dimeno Francesi che difficil cosa saria persuader ad alcuno, che quando Spagna con l'armi et denari suoi havesse conquistato quel Regno, lo volesse poi cieder ad altri; dicendo che questi non sariano frati che in virt di santa obbedientia potessero esser astretti dal Papa a renonciar un Regno che s'havessero conquistato con le sue forze.)
They say that some of the Irish have invited the Spanish to make the attack on England. The Marquis of Santa Cruz declares that he requires three hundred ships, seventy thousand soldiers, and three million crowns at present.
Rome, 14th June 1586.
[Italian.]
June 14. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 365. Giovanni Gritti, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
His Holiness asked me if I had any news from the Levant; on my replying in the negative, he took up a bundle of news letters which were lying on his table, and began to read them to me. They were written in Latin, in a pure and elegant style, so that I imagine them to come from Poland or Germany, or from some Jesuit. The contents were that the Queen of England's Ambassadors had urged the Sultan to attack Spain in Algiers. The Queen is harassing the King of Spain in Holland and Zealand, and also talks of restoring the legitimate sovereign to the throne of Portugal.
Then came the Turk's reply; that he was very ready to help the Queen; that for this year he wished to fortify the territory he had acquired in Persia; but next year he would send out a powerful fleet of three hundred sail under the command of Ibrahim Pasha.
I asked his Holiness if it was true that Drake had returned to England, Yes, it is true, he said, Drake has returned with vast riches. He has left a garrison in the islands.
Rome, 14th June 1586.
[Italian.]
June 14. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 366. Vincenzo Gradenigo and Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassadors in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
Some days ago the Seville galleons set sail from Cadiz. They had two thousand recruits on board, and their orders were to go to the Indies to meet the Peruvian and the new Spanish fleets, which are to effect a junction at Havana and to sail all together for Europe. The route to be taken has been ordained; they are to keep in as low latitudes as possible, in order to avoid the enemy. The escort has similar orders. If they fall in with the enemy they hope to be strong enough to resist. The Ministers do not think that it will be difficult to effect this junction, as they have confirmation of the news that Drake has gone over to Honduras. But the decision gave rise to a difference of opinion among the Ministers; the route is thought to expose both the Peruvian fleet and its escort to danger. Those who know the route are of the same opinion as the sailors; and have, with all due humility, informed his Majesty that the fleet will sail if ordered, but that it is nearly sure to be lost. His Majesty replied, Go, and see that you are back by the end of February. They have publicly expressed their opinion, with all the more confidence that a Biscayan, who had escaped from Claramont's fleet, says that Claramont with thirty-two sail, all well armed, is drawing towards Spanish Isle, to effect a junction with Drake, and as that island is near Havana, these urgent and hazardous orders of the King are taken as a sign that his Majesty is falling into financial straits again. And so if he wishes to attack England he will have to ask help from his kingdoms, and the Cortes, I hear, are summoned in Madrid for the month of September.
Signs of the attack on England are visible on the coasts. Royal orders have been issued to the ports that English ships and English goods on board ships of other nations are to be reckoned as ships and goods of an enemy. Moreover the Count of Beneventum, a gentleman of high standing, has received orders to raise three thousand infantry in old Castille, on the same footing as the Duke of Medina Sidonia, who along with other officers, continues to raise his levies, all of which are for Portugal.
The friend of the Prince of Parma who supplies me with news, has shown me a letter in which the Prince praises the terms offered to him by the English in the Netherlands, which are to abandon Holland on the concession of certain points. The friend has offered to negotiate with the King, recommending the acceptance of the terms, as that would greatly facilitate the attack on England. The friend thinks that Spain ought to make a great show of arming. He hopes to see the English terms accepted for this would bring about the possession of harbours and other advantages which are essential to the success of the operation.
I have been informed from more than one source which is trustworthy, that the Pope, Gregory XIII., has given the brief of investiture for the kingdom of England to his Majesty in the same form as he gave the investiture of Navarre (che Gregorio XIII. diede a questa Maest il breve dell' investitura del Regno d'Inghilterra nella forma medesima che diede quello di Navarra).
Recently much money has been sent to Fontarrabia to some agents of Lansac who is the Guise's lieutenant The Governor of Bayonne, on hearing this, ordered the arrest of the agents at S. Givanni da loro (S. Jean de Luz), three leagues away from Fontarrabia. They were put to the torture and confessed all. As regards the preparations for Drake, nothing more has been done, and it seems that matters are quieting down.
Madrid, 14th June 1586.
[Italian; deciphered.]
June 17. Copy of Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 367. Matheo Zane, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
A fleet of 25 vessels, laden with pitch, sails and shrouds for a large armament, sailed from the German ports. To avoid the Breton and English cruisers the route was laid outside England. The fleet sails for Portugal, where these supplies are eagerly desired by the Marquis of Santa Cruz, whose absolute want of such necessaries makes it doubtful if he would be able to man his fleet this year and to attack Drake.
It is rumoured here that Poland and Sweden disuade Denmark from joining the Queen of England against Spain, pointing out that this would bring the war down on them. Denmark has sent an agent to endeavour to bring about a reconciliation.
Prague, 17th June 1586.
[Italian.]
June 23. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 368. Lorenzo Bernardo, Venetian Ambassador at Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
Some days ago the English Ambassador had an audience of the Grand Vizir. The Capadun Pasha was present; as I have already informed you he hates the English Ambassador. The latter made most vigorous complaints that owing to secret orders from here (by which he meant from the Capadun Pasha), the Turkish officials in Barbary not only refuse obedience to the Sultans orders for the liberation of English vessels and subjects captured by those galleys, but have actually committed fresh depredations. The Capadun answered that, on the contrary, English ships, while feigning amity, seized Turkish ships on the plea that they were common pirates, and that they deserved to be chastised. This quarrel came to such a pitch that from abuse they passed to blows, the Ambassador and the Capadun, to the disgust of the Grand Vizir (questa contesa si ridusse a tale, che si vene dalle parole ingiuriose alle mani, cio tra l'Ambasciatore et il Capitano del Mare). When the Vizir had quieted them, he replied to a letter addressed by the Queen of England to the Sultan. It is clear from this answer that the Turks are pleased at this English alliance as a counterpoise to Spain while they are occupied with Persian affairs.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 23rd June 1586.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Enclosed in preceding Despatch. 369. Copy of a Letter from the Sultan to the Queen of England.
As I have been informed that the Beglierbey are remiss in liberating the slaves and restoring the goods and ships of the English, in contravention of our honourable capitulations; and as I issued orders that the slaves should be sought out and the ships' goods restored, which were in Algiers, now, as great complaints have been made on this point, and rigid orders sent to Algiers, Tripoli, and Tunis, that the malefactors are to be sought out and duly punished, and the ships, merchandise and property, which were taken from the English, restored, the slaves freed, and for the future . no injury be done to your subjects, but that they shall enjoy full freedom to trade in my dominions, it is right that you should stand firm in your alliance with us. And our alliance shall endure down to the destruction of the world (non la disfar mai fino alla consumation del mondo).
[Italian.]
June 23. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 370. Giovanni Dolfin, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
On the 21st of this month, a courier for the English Ambassador arrived with news that Drake bad fought the Spanish fleet and taken twenty ships and four galleys with hardly any loss to himself. Nine hulks laden with cables and sails for Spain were seized on their way from Hamburg by English ships. The Queen of England is continuing her preparations; but will find it difficult to raise men.
Paris, 23rd June 1586.
[Italian.]
June 25. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 371. Vincenzo Gradenigo and Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassadors in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The King has been very melancholy and anxious these days past, on account of various bad news, which all came at one and the same time; for six days ago a courier arrived from Seville, with information that Drake continued to make great progress, and to work excessive damage. He has penetrated as far as New Cartagena, sacking every town that would not yield to him, and compelling them to pay a heavy indemnity. He played havoc with all religious places; among others, he set fire to a convent of nuns and burned them inside it, without allowing anyone to come out alive (haveva tra le altre cose messo fuoco in un monasterio di monache, abruggiandole dentro di esso, senza permetter che alcuna uscisse viva di l). These deeds offend the soul of all good people; and the Ministers declare that they will take the affair seriously in hand, and will send a strong fleet to those parts, and a squadron of galleys towards the Azores.
The preparations of war are going forward. The Duke of Medina Sidonia and other captains are engaged in raising their levies; in Lisbon a large contract for biscuits has been signed, they are to be ready at the beginning of next year. In course of conversation with the King's Majordomo, a gentleman who takes a part in all the most important discussions, touching on English affairs, he said to me, the Spanish monarchy being so powerful is able to outweigh those who would harass it; from these and similar expressions we gather that the King would not be averse from an accord with England. For he thinks that although Drake is working great mischief, to the dishonour of this Crown, as too are the other English in Flanders, still he will be able to cover all this by an able and advantageous treaty of peace. In fact it seems that an agent from the King of Denmark is actually at the Escurial for the purpose of negotiation. The terms would be the withdrawal of the English from Holland and the restitution of some of Drake's booty. They calculate that if the Netherland provinces are left alone they will not be able to hold out. The straits for money in which the King is placed, may help to hasten an accord; and on the subject of these straits it is said that his Majesty has begged the Pope to grant him the crusade, and the exemption from the perpetual subsidy, that he may use them as security for money borrowed from private merchants, promising to make the attack on England. The Pope has replied that he will consent if the King of Spain will promise to leave England to the Pope, and this with a view to quieting France. The Pope further promises to renounce all his claims to the dominion of Ireland.
The consideration of these obstacles, which it will be impossible rather than difficult to overcome, leads us to suppose that all these preparations which are on foot are intended rather to facilitate the conclusion of an accord than with a view to a genuine attack on England.
News from Flanders that the Prince of Parma is almost besieged, and that the English, with the help of the natives, become every day more powerful. He is urgent in his demands for men and money, in addition to the last which were sent to him.
Added to all this the King gave audience to a Portuguese woman, and was subsequently informed that she and some companions were spies of Don Antonio, and had plotted to stab the King with a sharp dagger which she concealed in her pilgrim's staff. This proves both the audacity of these people, and the protection which God bestows on the King.
Madrid, 25th June, 1586.
[Italian; deciphered.]