BHO

Venice: August 1586

Pages 186-201

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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August 1586

Aug. 1. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 387. Giovanni Dolfin, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Spanish Ambassador has been asked to grant a passport for a Dane who desired to go to Spain, and who gave himself out as a private individual and quite poor, Don Bernardino granted his request, but afterwards found out that he was an agent of the Danish King, sent to Spain to endeavour to effect a peace between his Catholic Majesty and the Queen of England.
From Flanders we hear that although the English are in superior numbers yet they often suffer reverses, showing themselves unintelligent in the art of war, and little able to save themselves from the valour and ability of so glorious a leader as the Prince of Parma, who after capturing Grave and Venlo, has, they say, occupied Til on the borders of Guelderland.
Paris, 1st August 1586.
[Italian.]
Aug. 4. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 388. Vincenzo Gradenigo, retiring Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The Ambassador of Savoy has been several times to see me, and in course of conversation we touched on English affairs. He assured me with almost excessive asseveration that the King would go to Portugal in the month of September to see to the preparations for the attack on England, so as to be ready for next year. I desired to pass to other points, but he said that some days ago he had read to his Majesty and the Grand Commendatore, two memorials written by the late Duke of Savoy, setting forth the proper way in which to conduct this campaign. These were appreciated so much that the King had asked to have them. The Ambassador said this perhaps, in order to avoid giving me a copy. Well then I said, Your Duke will be appointed Commander-in-Chief no doubt to his great benefit, meaning to allude to the rumour I reported that the Duke of Savoy wishes to have the command of the expedition, and then the investiture of the kingdom of England; a rumour founded on the belief that the European powers would be more content to see England in the hands of Savoy than of Spain (lui disse che li giorni passati egli havea letto al Re et al Commendatore Maggiore due scritture del Duca morto, sopra il modo che si havea da tenere per far l'impresa le quali furono molto care, anzi che sua Maest Catholica le ha volute; il che forse disse per non darmene copia. Con questo io soggionsi Hora il Re far generale dell' impresa il Signor Duca suo, et potr essere non seuza speranza di gran bene il che volsi dire per quello che gia ragiono che quell' altezza desiderava il generalato, et poi la investitura, del regno d'Inghilterra; et si fondava questa proposta con dire che li principi Christiani piu tosto si contenteranno che l'habbia Savoia che Spagna). The Ambassador replied The Duke is the servant and also the son of his Majesty, and will do whatever his Majesty desires. The King, however, will desire him to remain at home, for if he undertook this campaign it must be borne in mind that every Huguenot Prince would be up in arms against him, nor would France remain quiet, for the Duchy of Savoy is conterminous with France, and so it will be absolutely necessary for the Duke to stay at home and to defend himself and the Duchy of Milan, for which God has designed him as a bulwark. Continuing his discourse, the Ambassador said that both the Prince of Parma and Signor Vespasiano Gowzaga had offered their services as Commander-in-Chief. Orders had been sent to the Duke that he was to hold himself in readiness as the King intended to make use of him presently in conformity with instructions which would be sent him shortly. From all of which it appears that matters are far advanced, indeed the Ambassador told me that he heard from Madrid that the King had borrowed one million and a half in gold.
Barcellona, 4th August 1586.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Aug. 4. Original Letter, Collegio, Secreta, Lettere, Paesi Bassi. 389. Uguzzone Rangone, from the Camp under Nus (Neuss), to the Doge of Venice.
I have not written these months past to your Serenity, although the operations which have taken place invited me to do so, because I thought it better to wait and so to furnish at one stroke more facts in greater detail than I could have supplied at that time. You must know then that his Highness took the field in May last, and after concentrating his troops, he resolved to attempt Grave, a strong place on the Meuse, held by one thousand two hundred infantry. The place had been besieged all winter by the Spaniards from some forts which they had constructed, and was in great straits. The enemy, however, relieved it by sending in some boat loads of munition after a sharp fight between the English and the Spanish, in which many fell on both sides, but more on the English. His Highness now resolved to take the place at all costs by bombardment. He accordingly recalled us Italians who were camped at Neuss, which belonged to the Archbishop of Cologne, and sat down before Grave. In a few days the Spanish on one side and the Italians on the other had pushed their trenches up to the ditch in the teeth of a stout defence from the walls, and then having planted two batteries the city yielded in twelve days. After four days he struck camp, and marched with all speed to Venlo, likewise on the Meuse and stronger than Grave. The town was surrounded by surprise, and as the Commandant imagined that we should attack some other places first, the garrison was not up to its compliment; indeed, there were in the place only some five hundred infantry and fifty cavalry. The guns were planted, and after a few shots, some quarrel broke out between the garrison and the townspeople and Venlo surrendered. It is a marvel that in the course of a few days two such important places should have fallen, places that every one thought would require more months to reduce; but nothing is really marvellous when one thinks of the valour and ability of the Prince of Parma. We stayed some days under Venlo to put things in order, and in the meantime the Archbishop of Cologne made urgent appeals for an attempt upon Neuss on the Rhine. The position is important for his Majesty the King of Spain, for he requires to be master of all the passes in order that he may more effectual carry on war in Holland. Accordingly the Prince of Parma consented, and we marched to Neuss before which we sat down. The Prince was there in person, for he knew that the garrison consisted of one thousand six hundred infantry well supplied with artillery and well fortified. During the early days of the siege the garrison continually made great sorties and skirmishes, and often drove us back to our trenches, and seeing that in parley for a surrender, the Commandant had sent us a mocking answer, the troops grew furious and much more so his Highness. He planted two batteries, one for Spaniards and one for Italians, and laid low the walls, then he filled the first of the two ditches with fascines, beams and stones, under a heavy fire from the town, and gave the order for a double assault by Spanish and Italians simultaneously, having refused to listen to any proposals for a surrender which were made to him more than once. God gave us the victory, and we mounted the breach, putting the garrison to flight and cutting all to bits; the Governor and some of the officers were hung. The town was sacked, but that did not last long, for that same day, towards evening, the city took fire, none knows how, in several places, and through the night the whole place was burned. The town was one of the most beautiful in this country, and God, perhaps, permitted this misfortune because there were in it some of the most ribald men of those parts, to serve as a warning to others not to be so haughty. After these feats his Highness took the baton and Mantle which his Holiness sent to him by the abb Grimani. In two days they say we are to march for Berg on the Rhine, also belonging to the Archbishop of Cologne. We hear that there are two thousand foot and four hundred horse.
From the Catholic camp under Neuss, 4th August 1586.
Uguzzone Rangone.
[Italian.]
Aug. 5. Copy of Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 390. Matheo Zane, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
The meeting of the Protestant Princes in Luneburg is to be held to-day. They have all left for that place. There is no positive news of the subjects to be proposed to the assembly.
Prague, 5th August 1586.
[Italian.]
Aug. 6. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 391. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
Of Drake nothing more is known except that near the Straits the Spanish galleys captured an Englishman, laden with arms, which was going to meet him, and to tell him that twenty-four more ships would soon be sent out to assist him.
The Prince of Parma writes in great haste to say that the clause about the freedom of conscience for Zealand and Holland can be accommodated in this way; that the King should promise not to impose the inquisition while the inhabitants should promise to live in a Catholic spirit, without any further explanation, by which they might understand that if they did not nothing would be done to them. But here it seems that not even this will suit them, for it would be equivalent to granting liberty of conscience, which would then have to be extended to Flanders as well.
Signor Luisi Dovara writes from Rome that he will soon be here. It is supposed that he comes to renew the offers of the Grand Duke on the subjects of Africa and England.
Madrid, 6th August 1586.
[Italian.]
Aug. 6. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 392. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
After the King had elected the four new members of the Council of War, in addition to the three original members, the Grand Commendatore, Don Juan d'Idiaquez, and the Count of Borrase, he has submitted to the Council many memoranda drawn up originally by the Duke of Alva, by Don Ernando, his son, and by the Prince of Parma, and by other personages of experience, which referred to both the attach on England and to the affairs of the Indies as regards Drake's incursions; also to the mischief which the Queen of England is working in Holland and Zealand, of which places she styles herself mistress. His Majesty desired the Council to consider the whole question and to report what action they advised him to take, with a view to achieving a single but complete revenge for all the injuries which the Queen inflicts daily on this Crown. The King shows a lively desire to shake this disgrace from his shoulders, and among many other insults he cannot conceal his indignation at the infamous comedies which the Queen causes to be acted; for although his Majesty professes never to show his emotions, still I am assured that when an account of these plays was given to him by an Englishman, he rose from his chair with every sign of wrath and indignation (non potendo tra le altre cose dissimular il sdegno che tiene di queue infame comedie che lei fa rappresentare, perche con tutto che S. Maest Cattolica professi di non scoprir mai l'affetto dell'animo suo, son per assicurato, che essendole dato conto da un proprio inglese di questo fatto, si lev dalla sedia dove stava mostrando grandissima perturbatione et sdegno). The members of the Council have held long deliberations on this subject, and although they take pains to keep) their proceedings very secret, yet I have found means to come by many of their memoranda and speeches on the subject in hand. As these are very voluminous I do not send them to your Serenity, I merely enclose a short summary drawn up by the Marquis of Santa Cruz and sent from Lisbon; it contains a statement of all the provisions which will be required for the attack on England. I gather that all seven Councillors are of opinion that next spring the King should undertake this war. In favour of this resolution they urge that his Majesty cannot do less than punish the Queen, if he desires to preserve his reputation and his possessions, for she is the foe of all good people, aye, and of God himself; her subjects are in part Catholics, and they are waiting anxiously for this day; in part they are deeply attached to the Queen of Scotland, while all are ill-affected towards their Sovereign, who tyrannises over them; that the English race is little accustomed to arms, having the use of the bow only, and they cannot put together more than seven or eight thousand trained infantry, without any cavalry, without any harquebussiers, without generals of experience; that there are no forts of any importance in the kingdom, that it will be impossible to prevent a landing if the right moment of the tide be chosen. In this way the war in Flanders may be finished at a blow, these seas and the Indies swept clear of corsairs, and all that poor people of England brought back again to the Catholic faith. Thus the King would acquire a new Crown on earth to add to his others and a still greater one in heaven. God will fight for the King, for that woman in the wickedness of her heart and the folly of her intellect has reached such a pitch of insolence as to attack the Pope and the King in public comedies, though his Majesty, when King of England, caused her to be freed from her prison and saved her life (onde intendo che vorriano tutti sette che, potendosi, a primavera S. Maest movesse quella guerra, considerando a favor di questa resolutione che non puo mancar il Re, volendo conservar la sua reputatione, et li soi Stati, di non castigar quella regina, nemica di buoni, anzi di Bio medessimo; che li suoi sudditi parte son Catolici, n aspettano altro che questa giornata, parte affectionatissima alla Regina di Scotia, et tutti mal affetti alla loro patrona, che grandamente li tiranniza; che sono gli Inglesi poco esercitati nelle cose delle armi, non sapendo adoperar altro che l'arco et che non potrebbe metter insieme pi di sette inotto mille fanti di consideratione, senza cavallaria, senza archibusaria et senza capi d'esperientia; che non vi sono fortezze d'importantia nel regno, et che non si puo sturbar il sbarco quando vadano con ordine delta Marea. Che di questa maniera si finirebbe subito la guerra di Fiandra, si netterebbe quelli mari et l'Indie da corsari, si riduria tutto quel povero populo Inglese alla religion Cattolica, acquistando la Maest sua una corona in terra alle altre sue, et una in cielo maggior di tutte, et che Bio combatter per il Re, poi che si vede quella donna posta in reprobo senso, et priva d'intelleto, essendo benata a tanta insolenza di far rappresentar le pubbliche comedie contra il Pontefice et S. Maest Cattolica, la quale pur altre rolte essendo egli Re d'Inghilterra et essa prigiona, la fece liberare salvandole anco la vita). In short, as the whole Council says and believes that to search for and to fight Drake, or to attempt to expel the English from Flanders are both impossible, they all strongly recommend an attach on the root of all these ills.
On the other hand this expedition presents many difficulties, which they think can hardly be overcome. The Marquis of Santa Cruz requires a great number of ships of war and other vessels, galleys and galeasses, vast quantities of provisions and ammunition, and that number of soldiers which your Excellencies will see stated in the enclosed. All of these will call for large expenditure of treasure. But all this would be as nothing compared with further difficulties which are brought to light; such, for instance, as the want of a port in that island where they can assemble in security; the difficult navigation of those seas, where the tide rises and falls to such a great extent, the doubt, nay, the certainty, that France does not desire to see Spain any nearer herself, nor that England should be joined to the other resources of this Crown; the knowledge that Denmark and Sweden will stand by England, along with many Protestant Princes of Germany, and perhaps the Turk; the careful guard which must be kept on the frontiers of Spain, the scanty assistance to be expected from the Pope and the Grand Duke of Tuscany, the small chance of other Princes joining in the undertaking; finally, the want of a Captain-General fitted to command so great an army, except the Prince of Parma, who might say, If I go who stays; if I stay who goes (incontrano in tante difficolt che stimano difficilissimo il superarle; vuole il Marchese Sta, Croce gran numero di navi et d'altri legni, galee et galeazze; gran somma di vitturia et munitioni, et quei tanti soldati che l'Ecc. Vre, vederanno; in che sara bisogno gran tesoro; e questo sarebbe nulla alla grandezza del pr, rispetto agli altri impedimenti che si scuoprono, come in non haver porto sicuro in quell' isola da ridurvi l'armata; et la difficult di quel Mare che cresce et descresee tanto; il dubbio, et quasi certezza, che Francia, non voglia maggior vicinit con Spagna, n che quel regno si aggiunga alle tante altre forze di questa corena; la sicurezza che li re di Danimarca et Svetia saranno in favore d'Inghilterra, et molti prencipi heretici di Germania et forse il Signor Turco; ancora le molte guardia che bisogneria ponere a tutti li confini delta Spagna; li pochi aiuti al gran biscgno che dar il pontefice et il Gran Duca di Toscana, la poca speranza che ha d'altri prencipi, et in fine il non haver Capitano Generate di terra atto commandare per tanto esercito se non il Principe di Parma, che polria poi dire se io vo chi resta, se io resto chi va). All these difficulties placed in evidence by the Council of War frighten everyone, and modify in a considerable degree the justifiable desire of revenge.
It has been suggested that it would be advisable to attempt Ireland first, and this is the King's own opinion, for the enterprise would prove far easier, as the inhabitants are very ill affected towards the Queen, and the island offers many safe meeting places among the mountains, there is no lack of good harbours open to the Armada,, and for many other reasons the Irish love Spain ( stato discorso, che meglio sarebbe tentar prima la Irlanda, et questa opinione del re medesimo, sendo la impresa molto piu facile, et gli habitanti malissimo affetti verso la regina; con molti ridotti sicuri nella montagna; per non vi mancar buoni porti aperti; et per altre cause ama Spagna). It seems that they have come to this decision, that if the Prince of Parma can bring the negotiations for an accord which are now in his hands to a reasonable issue, it will be judicious to accept them, especially as it seems likely that some modification of the religious clauses, which at present upset the whole business, will be discovered. In the meantime they will continue their preparations both with a view to protecting the coast of Spain and Portugal, and to cutting off any reinforcements which may be sent to Drake, as well as to attack Drake on his homeward voyage. And through the winter they intend to continue the preparations for an attack on England or Ireland, considering that all is well meant which goes towards this object, for vigorous preparations for war are the surest way to secure favourable terms of peace. And for this purpose they say that the King will go to Portugal, or he, at least, gives out that he intends to go, so as to lend greater fervour to the preparations. They are pushing on the Biscayan fleet, and some four hundred sailors have arrived from Naples and Genoa; besides that, his Majesty has granted leave to the Biscayans to arm as many ships as they choose against the English, treating them as declared foes. Though the Biscayans have often before demanded leave it has never been granted till now (havendo di piu Sua Maest data licenza a biscaglini che armino quanti vasselli che vogliono contra Inglesi, trattandoli da nemici; cosa che seben domandata pi volte da quei populi non gli stata mai pi concessa che hora). The twenty companies raised in Castille are on the march to Lisbon, where they say ten great ships are ready, and others of lighter build. Orders have been issued to all the captains of horse to hold their companies in readiness to march, either complete or in squadrons, where they may be bidden. Among other serious considerations it would., seem that the Ministers have under discussion the advisability of` attempting to renew the truce with the Turk, and to upset the Queen of England at the Porte. The Court Marigliano has been summoned to the Escurial by the King, in order to hear his opinion on this subject. I am further informed that four days ago a Neapolitan arrived at the Escurial, a man whom his Majesty despatched a year ago to the Persian. From that Prince and other Sultans he brings most honourable letters, assuring his Majesty that if any Christians, or if the King himself will only take some steps to cause a diversion, he will never make peace as long as he lives, but will keep his sword bare. These letters are most pleasing to his Majesty, and are kept a profound secret; the Agent is not allowed to see anyone, and they say he will soon return to those parts. I shall use all diligence in advising your Serenity upon this and other points, making use of those means which are the true and powerful ones all the world over. I deeply regret that the Court is absent from Madrid, and, consequently, those Ministers from whom I might have extracted some light. None the less I will use all diligence, and I pray your Excellencies to keep everything secret.
Madrid, 6th August 1586.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Enclosed in preceding Despatch. 393. Summary of the Supplies required for an attack on England; calculated for eight months. Forwarded by the Marquis of Santa Cruz to his Catholic Majesty.
Forty great ships of the build that come to Spain from Venice, Ragusa, and Sicily 40
Twenty-five galleons, like those which his Majesty has at Seville, or those which touch at the mouth of that river 25
Twenty galleons from Portugal and Castile; for these we require Genoese sailors 20
Thirty-five from Biscay 35
Thirty German ships 30
Total between great ships and galleons 150
Forty hulks, to be got ready in Lisbon, for transport service 40
Fifty transports, from Valencia and Catalonia 50
Fifty transports from the coast of Spain 50
One hundred and twenty from Portugal; twenty to be used as despatch boats 120
One hundred from the Atlantic sea-board, Biscay and Provence 100
The entire cost of all the above ships will amount to four hundred and fifty one thousand eight hundred and sixty crowns 451,860
Twenty galleys of Spain 20
Fourteen galleys of Naples 14
Six galleys of Sicily 6
Each of these requires eighty men, between sailors and marines, besides two hundred galley-slaves. Cost of the whole, one hundred thousand crowns 100,000
Six galleasses with one hundred and twenty men a piece; besides three hundred galley-slaves. Cost of the whole, thirty thousand crowns 30,000
Twenty Italian frigates and twenty felucche from Naples. Cost of the whole, fifteen thousand crowns 15,000
We require besides, two hundred boats to land the army. Cost, twenty-two thousand five hundred crowns 22,500
We calculate that we shall require fifty-five thousand men; including in this number the sick and the deserters, calculated at ten thousand, and those whom we must leave in charge of the Armada, calculated at another ten thousand; leaving us thirty-five thousand men to land.
Twenty-eight thousand Spaniards; cost, one million and forty-three thousand, one hundred and forty crowns 1,043,140
Fifteen thousand Italians under six colonels; cost, including officers, four hundred and fifty-six thousand, eight hundred and sixty crowns 456,860
Twelve thousand Germans, in three regiments; cost, four hundred and eighty thousand six hundred and twenty crowns 480,620
One thousand two hundred horse; that is, four hundred men from the Castillian Guards, four hundred light-horse, two hundred Andalusian light horse, and two hundred harquebussiers on horse; cost, seventy-one thousand three hundred and thirty crowns 71,330
Further four hundred horse of the General's escort and private persons, and four hundred grooms. Adventurers and servants estimated at three thousand, for whom rations must be found.
Staff officers, engineers, artillery officers, sappers, and others, four thousand two hundred and ninety, the cost of which is not specified, but is reckoned in the total.
Sum total of paid troops, eighty-four thousand four hundred and twenty-two; unpaid, ten thousand. Sum total, ninety-four thousand four hundred and twenty-two.
For biscuits, salt meat, oil, vinegar, and other provisions, one million, five hundred and twenty-seven thousand, three hundred and forty crowns 1,527,340
Cannon balls, eighteen thousand crowns 18,000
Powder, sixty-six thousand, eight hundred and fifty crowns 66,850
No sum is entered for artillery, muskets, cuirasses and pikes, as most of these are already in his Majesty's arsenals.
Sum total of all the munitions, except those which have been omitted, four million three hundred and seventy-three thousand, five hundred crowns 4,373,500
From Naples it is possible to raise seven hundred and eighty thousand, seven hundred and twenty-five crowns 780,725
From Milan, two hundred and nine thousand, seven hundred and seventy-seven crowns 209,777
From Sicily, two hundred and twenty-one thousand, two hundred and sixty-six crowns 221,266
Total 1,211,768
The rest must be raised for the Crown from Castille and elsewhere, and amounts to 3,161,732.
[Italian.]
Aug. 9. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 394. Giovanni Gritti, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
Between Sicily and the island of Pantalara, the galleys of Naples and of Sicily fell in with nine English galleys returning from Constantinople, full of merchandise, and although they attacked the English ships they failed to take them. The galleys have returned to Naples for reinforcements and will sail again to search for the English. They have sent news of these English to Genoa, so that they may be on the look out for them in the waters of Corsica and Sardinia.
Rome, 9th August 1586.
[Italian.]
Aug. 9. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 395. Giovanni Gritti, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
His Holiness showed me letters from Constantinople, written by someone who is well acquainted with Cairo. They contained news that twenty-five Spanish galleys had penetrated into the Red Sea, conquered all that navigation, and that the price of pepper in Cairo had risen in consequence. His Holiness said that he did not place much reliance on the news, for, he added, laughing, as you know, the Spaniards are not so slow at praising themselves, that they would have said nothing about it, had it been true.
Rome, 9th August 1586.
[Italian.]
Aug. 12. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 396. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
I reported in substance to your Serenity, the prudent and Christian answer sent by the King of Spain to the King of Denmark. I have now had an opportunity to secure a copy, which I enclose, translated into Italian, so that your Excellencies can see for yourselves every particular in an affair of such importance. I must further inform you that I learn from a Knight of Malta, who has arrived from Flanders, that a Secretary of the Queen of England has come to the Prince of Parma, with a view to negotiating about the terms of a peace. At their first interview the Secretary advanced no other proposals than those which the Agent of Denmark made when he was here. The Prince of Parma replied that he could not believe that the Catholic King would ever consent to the clause about freedom of conscience for his subjects. The Secretary then asked time to communicate with his mistress, saying that within fifteen days he hoped to have fresh instructions. Meantime the Prince urges that they should push on the preparations for war here with all vigour, as he considers that such conduct will be of incalculable value in any eventuality. It seems that the Council has accepted this advice, for all the preparations of which I have written to your Serenity are being pushed forward with energy. The King, not content with orders sent by letter, has despatched four of his principal nobles, one to Andalusia, one to Biscay, a third to Galicia, and a fourth to the two kingdoms of Castille, with instructions to call out all the cavalry and nobility who are bound to this service, allowing them three months in which to get ready to march where they may be ordered. Further, he is pushing forward six companies of men-at-arms under Don Bernardino de Velasco, towards the Portuguese frontier; each company numbers sixty men.
A courier has been sent to Recalde in Bilbao, with eight thousand crowns in cash, to arm the men who require them with harquebusses and pikes, and to embark them forthwith for Lisbon.
Cardinal de Granvelle is very ill; the doctors despair of saving him this autumn; at present they order him human milk, as he is in a terrible state of consumption. The King has written him a most gracious letter from the Escurial.
San Lorenzo in the Escurial has been consecrated.
Madrid, 12th August 1586.
[Italian.]
Enclosed in preceding Despatch. 397. Copy of a Letter from the King of Spain to the King of Denmark.
I will reply to the affection which your Highness has shown for me in your letter by a similar sentiment; and whatever may happen in the future I trust your Highness will continue, as I shall, to nourish the like feelings.
Your Highness is eminently worthy to learn the whole story of the troubles which I have suffered, and still suffer, in the Low Countries, at the hands of my rebellious subjects; for this rebellion affects all Kings and Princes, being the rising of vassalls against their lords; a thing abhorred, and of the worst example and consequence imaginable.
That I have given no just occasion for this rebellion is so clear that there is no need to raise the question. That unhappy people was led astray at first by some evil spirits who thought to gain their own ends. They are now sufficiently disabused of that error; and the clemency with which I have welcomed all who chose to return to their due obedience, and the loving treatment they have received at my hands, is proof conclusive for the others, if they wish to act in the same way.
As to liberty of conscience, which your Highness points out as a means for laying this trouble, it should never have been proposed to me; for it is clear that no Prince allows to his subjects any other religion than his own (essendo chiaro che niun Principe permette altra religione a i sudditi che la sua), first for religion's sake, and then for reasons of State as well. That being so, how can I act differentlyI who hold the true religionfrom those Princes who hold the false? For not merely would such action be contrary to the Holy Catholic Faith, and to the obedience which I, my heirs, and my subjects, owe and always will owe to the Holy Church, and our Father who presides over her as Christ's Vicar on earth, but we should have to answer to God for such laches. And so I would rather lose all my kingdoms than consent to this clause. But, I assure you there is nothing else that those people may ask from me, by way of benefaction, which I shall refuse them. Accordingly I am convinced that your Highness will admit that I am in the right when the question is considered from the point of view of what is just for each one to do in his own house, and will recognise that these misfortunes are not to be laid at my door, nor did it lie with me avoid them. And my poor deluded subjects, if they will only return to their true allegiance, will find pardon, clemency, pity, as all others have when they made their submission. As to the unneighbourly conduct of England, all the world knows whether that Queen had cause or no to treat me differently. Your Highness can see clearly how baseless are the reasons upon which she claims to act as she is doing. For whoever examines the ancient treaties will at once perceive that they are concluded between the Princes, not between the subjects of the contracting parties.
Nevertheless, as I recognise the kind intentions which have induced your Highness to attempt this reconciliation, I have determined not to shut the door where so good and brotherly a mediator intervenes, find so I have given orders to the Prince of Parma, my nephew and Governor-General in the Low Countries, that if the other party prepares negotiations he is not to retire from them.
But if England refuses this proposal, then your Highness will easily understand that she does not respect you as I do, nor bear you that love which will cause me on all occasions to be your perfect friend and brother.
Escurial, 28th July 1586.
Aug. 15. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 398. Giovanni Dolfn, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
News that Drake has returned to England from the Indies with twenty-two ships, laden with many precious goods. They say he has dismantled several strong places, with a view to being able to return there. They say the Queen sent to meet him in most honourable fashion.
Paris, 15th August 1586.
[Italian.]
Aug. 19. Copy of Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 399. Matheo Zane, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
The meeting of the Protestant Princes in Luneburg is broken up. Neither has his Majesty been able as yet to discover the nature of their deliberations. Only this is stated that they were not in sitting more than three or four hours, all the rest of the time was spent in good cheer and company. They say that the Princes who were not present at the conference will hold a meeting in some city on the Rhine, in order to conform to the deliberations taken at Luneburg.
Prague, 19th August 1586.
[Italian.]
Aug. 20. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 400. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The twenty-four ships which, as I wrote, were being armed in England, have already left London. Fifteen of them were seen off the Canaries on their way to carry men and ammunition to Drake. They say, though only in secret, that he has captured Panama, close to Nombre de Dios, fourteen leagues inland; a place to which the gold and silver of Peru are brought. All this is of the worst possible omen for the Indian fleet. The remaining nine ships by the Queen's orders, have taken to piracy off these coasts, in order to create a diversion and to work all the mischief they can. A thousand men were landed in Galicia, but were repulsed by the inhabitants. When the Marquis of Santa Cruz had news of this he sent out six great ships and four galleons, to fight the Englishmen, which are in fact very small ships. The King has sent couriers down the coast to warn the inhabitants to be on guard; and to Bilbao with orders to Recalde to sail at once; he is already on board and is hurrying up his troops and victuals. Fresh orders for biscuits, salt meat, &c. have been sent to Alicante, Cartagena, and other places; also to Milan for a large supply of rice, The Governor of Milan has orders to send off all his garrison to Flanders.
A memorial from Drake to the Queen of England is in circulation here. I enclose it. But it is generally thought to be a forgery, designed to enrage his Majesty against the Queen of England. Although preparations are still going on actively, we must not believe in this expedition till we see troops being raised in Italy and Germany. Besides, as I have written, they are waiting to see what will be the upshot of the negotiations between the Prince of Parma and the Secretary sent by the Queen of England. Letters are expected from the Prince, with great impatience, as they will bring information about the new instructions sent from England to the Secretary.
Experts hold that if Drake has not yet set sail to return home, he will not be able to do so this year, as he will have lost the trade winds. If he has returned they say that there is an end of his ravages, if he has not he will ruin and undo his whole fleet, as has always happened to the French in those parts, when they took New Cartagena and other towns, but found they could not stay there. All the same a Spaniard of great importance said to me, while blaming their slowness here, and their remissness in allowing succours to slip through to Drake, that he greatly feared that this was an erroneous idea, which would only add to Drake's reputation, as they would find to their cost. Then, laughing, he said, how on earth could you Venetians blame us for being slack at the time of the league when we are much worse now in the conduct of our own most vital affairs; and he added that the King had indeed every reason to make peace. In the house of the Nuncio, a Mantuan, said to be an English spy, has been arrested.
The Duke of Urbino, through his agent here, has offered his person on his Majesty's service, in England or in Flanders. So too has the Duke of Sabioneda.
Madrid, 20th August 1586.
[Italian; the part in Italics deciphered.]
Enclosed in preceding Despatch. 401. Memorial and Petition presented to Her Majesty the Queen of England on behalf of General Francis Drake; translated from English into Italian.
Drake declares that he has learned how King Philip has ordered an examination and search of all the officers who are charged with the administration of his revenues. That for this purpose he has appointed most rigorous commissioners who proceed with all severity and avaricousness, and that if such visitation were made of his estate he would suffer great loss as the success of such inquisition is highly dangerous. He therefore prays that Her Majesty order his exemption from such examination.
Let the Council read, study, and report its opinion to Her Majesty the Queen.
[Italian.]
Aug. 24. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 402. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
There has been much talk about the question of the truce with the Turk, upon which subject Count Marigliani was called to advice. He is at the Escurial, seriously ill. I am informed from a good quarter that no resolution has been reached, as the King is by no means inclined that way; he says that even though the Queen of England uses all ill offices at the Porte, still the Persian is on the side of Christendom.
His Majesty has caused me to be sounded privately as to whether I have any information that the Sultan intends to give the command of the fleet to Ibrahim Pasha, his new son-in-law, and to transfer Uluge Pasha to the command of the African squadron. I replied that I had no news from Venice, but that the rumour was going the round of this Court; whereupon his Majesty's emissary said, My Lord Ambassador, I believe that the King would be very well satisfied if the Serene Republic would sometimes use a little frankness with him on the subject of affairs in the Levant which concern the Crown of Spain. For though they are known here eventually it is not with that rapidity nor with that fulness of detail which is desirable in matters of State. Rapid information is productive of many good results, while delay in receiving it frequently causes serious inconvenience. I replied that your Excellencies always furnished news of moment, and recalled to mind that when I was in Portugal the King received from Venice very valuable information about Africa and the port of El Arisch, but that such events were not of daily occurrence; the emissary answered, Yes, now more than ever, for the English Ambassador at the Porte leaves no stone unturned to injure Christendom, and in particular the King of Spain, and it would be very advisable to warn your Bailo at Constantinople against him. I replied that I knew his Majesty to be admirably informed, both about affairs in the Levant and elsewhere. This he did not deny, but he added that confirmation of news was always acceptable. He then asked me what was thought of a Jew, of the black bonnet, who some months ago, was in close correspondence with your Serenity; endeavouring at the same time to make me understand that he was a bad character. I replied that I knew nothing about him, nor where he was; but I perceived quite well that he was alluding to that scoundrel who called himself Saul Cohen, and that they had been informed here of all our negotiations, as indeed they are informed of everything else.
A nephew of the King of Poland is with the Prince of Parma as a private adventurer, and has been received into great favour by his Excellency, in return he has induced his King to write a very cordial letter to the Prince. He seized this opportunity to beg the King to prevent the export of corn from Danzig and other Polish ports into Holland and Zealand. The King has promised to do all he can, but he strongly advises the Prince to send to Holland and to buy up all the grain, in this way making sure that the rebels will not secure any. Furthermore the King of Poland recommends the King of Spain, if he makes an attack on England to do it seriously, first seizing Ireland and the Isle of Wight, as both of them will afford ports for the fleet. He adds that it would be better to take no steps at all than to take them insufficient to secure a victory. And such great preparations would have the additional advantage of destroying all hope that the Queen of England might indulge in her power to defend herself.
Orders have accordingly been sent to the Prince of Parma that he is to write and thank the King of Poland and to make him a present of horses, together with an offer of the Golden Fleece. The Duke of Cleves, the Duke of Brunswick and other German Catholics have offered to serve his Majesty, and to that number of troops which he may be pleased to order; accordingly Don Guglielmo de San Clemente, the King's Ambassador at the Imperial Court, has been instructed to enter into negotiations with them.
Negotiations are on foot, though of a most secret character, to inspire in the King of Scotland the hope of one day arriving at the throne of England, if he will consent to become a Catholic The object of this is to traverse, if it be possible, the Queen of England's design of marrying the King to a daughter of Denmark. The Ministers here declare that this marriage is not yet concluded though the Queen has announced it publicly, in order to suit her own purposes. They are anxious about the conclusion of a peace in France which may result from the projected meeting of the Queen-Mother and Navarre, and are resolved to use secret means to upset it. They have news from Alvarez, Ambassador in Rome, that his Holiness is doing all he can to persuade the King of France at least to stand neutral, should the King of Spain attack England. But it is impossible to be sure of his Most Christian Majesty's intentions; from information forwarded by Don Bernardino de Mendoza, however, it is certain that France will allow Frenchmen to help England, all the more so as the King of France is absolutely convinced that the King of Spain has done all that he could to set France in a blaze and to feed the flame when once alight.
Two couriers have arrived from Seville, but their news is a profound secret. Still it is rumoured that they have been sent to announce that Drake, after capturing Panama, had gone to seize Nombre de Dios, and that he intends, if the Queen sends reinforcements, which are already on the road, and if he captures that town, to build a fort there. Experts declare this position to be very strong, and as the fleets all pass that way, great damage may be expected.
Madrid, 24th August 1586.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Aug. 26. Copy of Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 403. Matheo Zane, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
The Queen of England is raising three thousand horse in Brandenburg and the Mark. She was represented at the Conference of Luneburg by an agent.
Prague, 26th August 1586.
[Italian.]
Aug. 28. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 404. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
Yesterday a courier arrived from France with despatches of Don Bernardino de Mendoza announcing that Drake has returned to England. To-day the news is confirmed from Lisbon that he reached England with thirty ships and much booty.
Twenty-eight ships under Recalde have left Bilbao for Lisbon. They will act as guard, or will go to meet the India fleet which many expect to have sailed as soon as Drake left those waters.
Madrid, 28th August 1586.
[Italian.]