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Venice: September 1586

Pages 201-209

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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September 1586

Sept. 6. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 405. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
Two days before the news of Drake's return to England arrived here, a spy in his Majesty's employ reached the Escurial with the information that the Queen of England had recalled Drake on account of the great mortality which existed in the fleet and threatened the safety of the whole squadron if it remained longer in those parts. Furthermore, she was afraid that she might lose Drake himself at the very moment when she most needed him. The spy declares that the Queen is really anxious for peace, both because she is afraid that the King of Spain will take some resolution against her, for she knows that she has most seriously provoked him, and because the maintenance of troops in Holland and Zealand is costing her very dear, while she is growing suspicious of the Earl of Leicester, whose popularity with the Dutch is on the increase. She is always anxious about the English, and, above all, about the Irish Catholics; and every precaution is employed to prevent anyone from entering the royal palace who has not taken the oath of allegiance. She has given letters of marque to a large number of English; and she, and private owners as well, are building vast numbers of ships. The ships of private owners are subsidised at the rate of one thousand crowns each, on condition that the Queen may call for them when she requires them. She has raised and paid for three months, eight hundred infantry, and is going to send them to Holland. Finally, while negotiating for a peace she does not cease to prepare for the defence of her kingdom. And although Drake, they say, has not brought home as much as the Queen hoped for at first, yet he has most assuredly advanced his reputation. Here the preparations for war continue, but they hold that Drakes return to England will render it more easy to conclude a treaty, without loss of honour, on the subject of Holland and Zealand. The Prince of Parma writes that everything can be arranged except the religious clauses, and he implores his Majesty to find out some means of toning these down; but here they consider that the King will not easily change upon this point.
The Spaniards are firmly convinced that the Republic is little pleased at their successes in Flanders, and still less with the projected attack on England.
Madrid, 6th September 1586.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Sept. 9. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 406. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
A squadron of seven Algerian ships, under Murad Rais, has reached the Canaries, and has seized four hundred souls. The commander of the galleys of Spain has gone to those parts, so, too, Recalde. It is said that all this fleet will make a descent on Ireland in order to arm the Catholic population. Others maintain that Drake's return will upset all that plan. Don Juan d'Idiaquez is in very poor health, and has almost lost his sight. Cardinal de Granvelle is growing worse and worse every day. The loss of two such ministers will be a most serious blow to this Court.
Madrid, 9th September 1586.
[Italian.]
Sept. 12. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 407. Giovanni Dolfin, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Letters from London, dated the 30th August, reached here on the 6th. A conspiracy against the Queen's life has been brought to light. In order to discover the culprits no one was allowed to leave the kingdom for eighteen days. As rumours here vary very much I have learned from the English Ambassador, and from some large merchants who have correspondence from London, how the facts really stand. They say that the plot was hatched in Paris, in the house of Don Bernardino de Mendoza, the Spanish Ambassador, with the intervention and participation of one Charles Paget, an English exile, and brother of my Lord Paget who lately went to Spain, and also of a priest named Ballard, who is likewise an Englishman. This priest, though outlawed, volunteered to go to England, and to secure a rising of some of the principal Catholic gentlemen, who were, in a body, to slay the Queen as she was walking in a garden. The priest left, with letters, so all say, from Don Bernardino and from Paget. He won over six rich young men, between twenty and twenty-five years old, of whom one named Babington took the lead. Babington induced many others to join the plot, and the execution of the murder was fixed for the 28th of August. But while the conspirators were in treaty with others still, for the better securing of their intent, the priest Ballard was arrested, and condemned to death as an outlaw. To save himself he betrayed the plot, revealing the names not only of the conspirators in Paris, but also the names of those whom he himself had induced to join him in London. They were all instantly arrested, as were also two secretaries of the Queen of Scotland. All their papers were seized; and the English Ambassador tells me that it was understood from the examination of the prisoners that the Queen of Scotland had given her consent to the attempt; to clear up the whole affair arrests are being made every day. The English Ambassador has orders from his mistress to communicate these occurrences to his Most Christian Majesty, and to point out to him that in virtue of the good relations between the two Crowns it would be right and proper for him to refuse asylum in his kingdom to men of such quality. Further, the Ambassador is to beg for the arrest of Bodino, a literary person, who has written many books, and one on a republic; the charge is that several of his letters to his friends are dated August 28th, last day of the Queen of England; and they desire to receive from him an explanation of this date.
My informants are also advised that the Queen of England, although she has great influence in the affairs of Scotland, and makes use of many Scotch troops in her Flanders campaigns, has, nevertheless, concluded a formal treaty, offensive and defensive, with the King of Scotland, which was ratified on the borders with great pomp by three Ambassadors on each side.
Drake has presented himself to the Queen, and has been received most honourably. They say he brings back upwards of a million in gold, besides three hundred pieces of artillery.
Of one thousand three hundred who sailed with him only four hundred have come home.
Paris, 12th September 1586.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Sept. 16, Copy of Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 408. Matheo Zane, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
The cavalry levied for the Queen of England, after receiving their first pay, raised difficulties about marching unless the remainder is guaranteed by a Prince of the Empire, or by a Free City.
Prague, 16th September 1586.
[Italian.]
Sept. 17. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 409. Lorenzo Bernardo, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
The English Ambassador has frequent audiences with the Grand Vizir, and endeavours to persuade the Sultan to make some warlike demonstration against his Catholic Majesty. The Ambassador is spoken fair, and caressed. An English ship was recently seized in Alexandria, and he has obtained the most ample orders for its release. (L'Ambasciatore d'Inighilterra si trova spesso all' audientia del Magnifico Bass, et fa ogni opera per persuader questo Signor a far qualche moto di guerra contra S. Maest Catholica, et vien trattenuto con bone parole et accarezzato; et ultimamente essendostata ritenuta una naveinglese in Alexandria ha ottenuto un amplissimo commandamento per la liberatione sua.) The Capadun Pasha having taken fall information on the question of the canal between our sea and the Red Sea finds that there are infinite difficulties and dangers in the project; for besides the damage it would inflict on Cairo and all the country that is inundated by the Nile, they say that the wind would easily fill up the canal with sand when it was made; and so the scheme has been abandoned.
Dalle Vigne de Pera, 17th September 1586.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Sept. 18. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 410. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
I informed the Secretary Zagias of the news that Uluge was out. He said that his Majesty would be very grateful for this news, and they were in doubt whether Uluge would not join the King of Algiers, whence during the last days they have had no news. This action of the Turks is the result of the Queen of England's diplomacy.
Madrid, 18th September 1586.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Sept. 18. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 411. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The ships which have reached Lisbon from Bilbao, and have joined the fleet of the Marquis of Santa Cruz, have on board five thousand troops, twelve thousand pikes, twelve thousand harque-busses, and two thousand muskets. All this armament was prepared by express and most secret orders of the King, who, as I wrote to your Serenity, has always been of opinion that an attack should be made on Ireland, where the population is largely Catholic and disaffected, and is only waiting for arms in order to rise. They have mountain fortresses in which they can hold out for long. The King has been all the more encouraged in this decision that an Irish Bishop, who is here in exile, but who preserves a great deal of authority in his native island, has never ceased to earnestly urge upon the King that such an expedition will certainly succeed to his honour and glory. But Drakes return has altered all these designs, both because he himself is now in England, and because of the troops and, ships he has brought back with him. And so all these preparations are being relaxed or carried out so leisurely that the Queen can easily be warned of all that is going on in plenty of time. She will make vigorous preparations for the defence, above all by opposing Drake to his Majesty. Brake has done her a better service by returning home at this opportune moment than by all that he has effected in the Indies (haver fatto piu servitio a ditta Regina con l'essere tomato a tempo cosi opportuno che di quanto ha operato nelle Indie contra Spagna). And so it is quite likely that nothing will be done just now; and that all these preparations will serve merely as defences for the coast of Spain, which is infested by a swarm of English corsairs, and to hold the Queen in anxiety about Holland and Zealand, which is his Majesty's chief object. He is wont to excuse the slowness of all these operations by saying, the King and Time will do everything. Some of his Ministers urge that these troops which are now collected should be used in the East Indies to protect those parts against the Turks who are doing great mischief there, and to prevent the spice cargoes from being sent through Turkey; for which purpose the Portuguese Viceroy is building a very important fortress. Now we must wait to see what decision is reached by the Marquis of Santa Cruz, Captain-General in these waters, about the question of Ireland.
Four out of the five galleons which had been engaged with the galleys of Seville, sailed through the Straits of Gibraltar under a fresh wind, in sight of the galleys of Spain. It is supposed that the fifth galleon was so roughly handled that they found it necessary to tranship the men and cargo and then to sink her.
His Majesty has raised half a million in gold from the Fuggers. The French Agent here assures me that the King has lately sent, by way of Besanon, fifty thousand ducats to the Guise, and fifty thousand to Montmorency by another route. But his master thinks it wiser to ignore all this rather than come to an open rupture.
Madrid, 18th September 1586.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Sept. 20. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 412. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
To day after mid-day Cardinal de Granvelle yielded up his soul to God, after receiving the sacraments.
Madrid, 20th September 1586.
[Italian.]
Sept. 23. Copy of Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 413. Matheo Zane, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
Six hundred of the horse raised for the Queen of England have marched into Flanders under the command of a bastard of Brunswick.
Prague, 23rd September 1586.
[Italian.]
Sept. 26. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 414. Giovanni Dolfin, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Despatches from the French Ambassador in England announce that up to the tenth of the present month the Queen had imprisoned sixty-two gentlemen on the charge of being concerned in the conspiracy which I announced in my last. Their examination and the minutes of their depositions are being prepared with all diligence. He adds that the Queen of Scotland's jailer took her out hunting one day, when she was suddenly surrounded by a hundred horsemen who hurried her off to a strongly fortified castle near London, and at the same time all her belongings were seized, and her Majordomo imprisoned, but separately from the two secretaries.
The Ambassador writes that after these arrests the Queen of England sent for him, and said, Well, what do you think of your Queen of Scotland? With black ingratitude and treachery she tries to kill me who so often saved her life. Now I am certain of her evil intent, and it may be she will not have another opportunity to behave like this. The Ambassador replied that it was difficult to believe that the Queen of Scotland, who was so closely guarded, could have had any share in this business; that she had many enemies whom he begged the Queen to distrust in a matter of such moment, as he also begged her to bear in mind the quality and greatness of the Queen of Scotland, the support she enjoyed from the Crown of France, the affection which his Most Christian Majesty felt for her, as in duty bound by relationship and alliance. That he would report the whole of her Majesty's communication to his master, and would at once inform her Majesty of the orders which he might receive. The Queen replied that she intended to inform his Majesty herself, either by means of her Ambassador or by means of a gentleman sent for the purpose; and that she would make it clear to him that the whole conspiracy was hatched in France by the Spanish Ambassador and the Guises, who have stirred up those English who were here, but who have now fled the Court. (Replic la Regina che ne haveria fatto dar conto al Re o per il suo Ambasciatore, o per un gentilhuomo che manderia per tal effetto, faccendole saper particolarmente che l'origine tutta di questa conspiratione viene di francia per opera dell' Ambasciatore di Spagna et di Signori di chisa, che hanno eccittato questi Inglesi che stavano qui li quali hora per timore d'esser dati nelle mani delta Regina si sono assentati da questa corte.) The Scotch Ambassador told me, when I was at his reception, that he is very anxious, and greatly fears that by this time his mistress may have been taken to the Tower of London, where, if once imprisoned, she will likely be put to death. He complains bitterly of the proceedings of those here, who gave him no information and acted with so little circumspection in an affair of such danger; he, too, fears that Don Bernardino had a large share in the plot, as is rumoured, but that the Guise knew not a word of it. The Ambassador has immediately made representations to the Ministers and Councillors of State (for he has never yet been able to obtain an audience of the King), that a person should be sent from France express to ensure the safety of the Queen's life; but all he has been able to obtain is that a courier should be sent express to the Ambassador of France with orders to say and do all he can, as though it were a question of his Most Christian Majesty's own life (si duole infinitamente del pensieri che hanno havuto questi, senza alcuna sua partecipazione et con poca circospettione di tanto pericolo, affermando egli ancora che tone che Don Bernardino habbia gran parte, come dice, che i Signori di Ghisa non ne hanno saputo parola. Ha subito esso Ambasciatore procurato con questi Segretarii di Stato et con questi Consiglieri (poiche mai ha potato havere audienza dal Re) che sia mandata da qui persona expressa per fare uffcio per la sicurt delta Regina; ma ha obtenuto solamente che stato commesso all' Ambasciatore residente per corriero expresso che parli et operi tutto quel pi cite sapia et potr come se si trattasse della vita di S. M. Christian issima)
News from Antwerp that the Prince of Parma has cut to bits two thousand English who were endeavouring to relieve Bergen; and the Spanish Ambassador sent to confirm the news by one of his servants, although, this morning, he himself told me that, as no news has come from the camp, which is still under Bergen, he greatly fears that the report may be false. The Flemish here at Court are of the same opinion. The same letters announce that the Earl of Leicester is expecting four thousand German horse in his support.
Paris, 26th September 1586.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Sept. 27. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 415. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain to the Doge and Senate.
The Cardinal de Granvelle was buried on Monday with great honours. I was invited, but was prevented from attending by indisposition. As they were about to carry out the body a violent quarrel arose between the clergy of the cathedral and the brothers of S. Augustine's. The clergy declared that the office was theirs through usage, the friars that the Cardinal belonged to their order and therefore that duty rested with them. The President Barases sent his secretary to the Cardinal of Toledo to inquire what ought to be done; but in the meantime the uproar increased, and the Admiral of Castille, turning to the principal noblemen present, said Sirs, let us finish this quarrel, then he and others, among them Don Pietro de'Medici, took up the coffin and bore it to the stairs other knights carried it down into the street, and there they found the answer from the Cardinal in favour of the cathedral chapter. The body is to be taken to his native place, Ornans in Burgundy, four leagues from Besanon.
A courier, sent from Flanders by the Prince of Parma, brings news that the Queen of England is raising a large number of cavalry in Germany with the help of the Protestant princes. Her intention is to increase as far as possible her forces in Holland and Zealand, with a view to diverting the King of Spain from any idea of an attack on England. She is convinced that the best way of preventing an attack on her kingdom is to harrass his Majesty as much as possible in as many places at once; a policy she has continually pursued. They say, moreover, that Drake is on the point of putting out with sixty ships and twelve galleons. And so everyone concludes that the idea of an attack on Ireland will be abandoned.
In spite of the rumours of Drake's enormous plunder which reach us from France and England, the truth is that he has not brought back more than the amount stated in the enclosed.
Madrid, 27th September 1586.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Enclosed in. preceding Despatch. 416. The first news we had of Drake after his arrival in the Indies, was that he had captured the island of San Domingo, where he found sixty thousand ducats belonging to the King. He came to terms with the inhabitants that he would spare the churches and the principal buildings on payment of twenty-five thousand ducats. He seized all the artillery, including that belonging to ten ships and two galleys which were in the port.
From San Domingo he went to Porto Caballos in Honduras. There he seized the artillery and a certain amount of money, but not very much. Then he came to Cartagena. The terms he made with the inhabitants were for the payment of one hundred and twenty thousand ducats. There he stayed two months, careened his ships and rested his men. He discovered two hundred and fifty thousand crowns in bar gold, which had been buried, and he took it all away.
Coming away from Cartagena he went to the island of S. Agostino, which is Florida. He captured it and with it fifteen or twenty thousand ducats; others report a larger sum. He seized all the artillery he found both on land and in ships, and the number is reckoned at two hundred and fifty pieces, besides much merchandise and the metal of all the bells he could find. The opinion is that he will not have carried off more than seven or eight hundred thousand ducats in all.
From the Indies he went to Havana, but finding it garrisoned, he passed it by and set his sails for England with one thousand slaves on board.
[Italian.]
Sept. 29. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 417. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The King is negotiating another loan in Germany for two millions of gold, to be paid at the rate of two hundred thousand crowns a month in Flanders. There is no difficulty in the way except the demand for eight or ten per cent., as the Fuggers have recently lent at seven.
Madrid, 29th September 1586.
[Italian.]
Sept. 30. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 418. Lorenzo Bernardo, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
The Capadun Pasha in conversation with the Dragoman Mateca asked what the King of Spain was doing, Mateca answered that he was at war with England, whereupon the Capadun replied, The King is very strong, and can easily capture that island.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 30th September 1586.
[Italian; deciphered.]