BHO

Venice: November 1586

Pages 216-223

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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November 1586

Nov. 1. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 427. Giovanni Gritti, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
The Queen of England forbids anyone to cross the sea out of England; anyone is free to enter. The King of France has sent an agent to plead for the Queen of Scotland.
Rome, 1st November 1586.
[Italian.]
Nov. 2. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 428. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate
News having spread that Don Antonio, in company with Drake, would arrive on board the English fleet, the Portuguese showed the greatest joy, and every mark of devotion towards Don Antonio and some signs that they were ready to rise for him. They say that had the King used the rigour he employed upon Flanders in Portugal, and that clemency towards the Flemish which he showed to the Portuguese, he would now have the kingdom of Portugal in perfect obedience and Flanders quite pacified.
Madrid, 2nd November 1586.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Nov. 7. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 429. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
I have heard from a sure quarter that in all probability terms will be concluded between the Turks and the Persians; and there is every prospect of the Turkish fleet taking the sea at the instance of England.
Madrid, 7th November 1586.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Nov. 7. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 430. Giovanni Dolfin, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
On the 4th, Edward Otho, agent of the Queen of England, arrived in this city. His mission was to report the conspiracy of the Queen of Scotland against the life of his mistress, with the knowledge and participation of Spain. This gentleman has brought the minutes of the trial, with all the depositions, to prove to the King that the Queen of Scotland deserves to be put to death. In the meantime the Queen of England has summoned Parliament for the 5th of this month, and thirty-five of them have gone to take the Queen of Scotland's evidence; it seems, however, that she declines to answer interrogatories. The above-named gentleman has not yet succeeded in obtaining an audience, though he and the Ambassador insist on it.
News from the Duke of Parma, of October, confirm his victory over the English, Irish, and Germans, but put the Spanish death roll higher. The Governor of Guelderland, who was reported dead, is alive. Don Bernardino has published an account of the engagement; and for reply the English Ambassador has issued a letter, which puts a very different complexion on the victory. He says the army of the States is encamped at Haarlem. The Duke writes that he is at Venlo, near Ztphen, which he has provisioned. Learning that another detachment of German horse was on its way to support the English he called out his cavalry and went to meet them; but they retired.
Paris, 7th November 1586.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Nov. 15. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 431. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
They have resolved to send a private person to the Schereef not an Ambassador, for fear that a fully accredited agent might be insulted.
Madrid, 15th November 1586.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Nov. 15. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 432. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The news sent by Don Bernardino de Mendoza that the Prince of Parma has defeated the horse and foot which were raised in Germany by the Queen of England, has caused great joy here, for they feared that with the help of the Protestant Princes she might succeed in making herself mistress of the open country in Flanders. On the other hand, her persecution of the Catholics in England causes the greatest pain, which is augmented by the knowledge that the plot against her has failed, while she, taking that as an excuse, has put many Catholics to death, though innocent, with a view to destroying the leaders of that party, and also to strike terror into their followers. She also makes use of this plot to increase the hatred of Spain, for she declares that it was hatched by the Spanish Ministers. She has, furthermore, despatched an agent to France to rouse the animosity of that King against Spain, and to draw herself nearer to the French Crown.
The courier reports that twenty-five more English ships are oat under the command of Giaches, (?) a famous corsair, and of Drakes nephew, to lie in wait for the fleet of Castille; but the King's good fortune has prevented their design, for the fleet has already reached Spain. Had it delayed much longer to arrive, they say that the Seville merchants would have failed every one of them. Nevertheless, although the fleet has reached home safely, the Marquis of Santa Cruz has been warned to prepare for an English descent on those coasts; for every one is convinced that the English fleet is not destined for the Indies, in spite of Don Bernardino's assurance; for there is no reason in the world why the Queen at this moment of peril should deprive herself of the help of such forces. They are inclined rather to believe that the English will attempt a surprise on some port, especially as in Lisbon and other Portuguese towns proclamations have been found which urge the people to be of good cheer for soon they will have a Portuguese King again, naming Don Antonio. With a view to reducing the Portuguese the King, besides ordering certain movements of troops, has reimposed the taxes which they used to pay, and above all a duty on the persons and the goods of Portuguese who enter Castille, which damages the Portuguese as much as it benefits this Crown. The Marquis of Santa Cruz has executed sortie of the leading Portuguese and put about twenty in prison. All these operations, and others, such as the despatch of agents to Constantinople to renew the truce, and to counteract the Queen of England's negotiations at the Porte, the encouragement given to the Persian to continue the war; the attempt to persuade the Schereef to sign the treaty already stipulated; the negotiations with Guise and Navarre; the accumulation of money, which now amounts to more than four millions laid by, all prove clearly that his Majesty is resolved to act in earnest for the preservation of his reputation and his kingdoms.
Madrid, 15th November 1586.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Nov. 19. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 433. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
Some suppose that the English ships have returned to England when they found out that the Castillian fleet had reached Spain in safety; others say that they have gone to the Azores to wait for the Peruvian fleet.
Madrid, 19th November 1586.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Nov. 21. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 434. Giovanni Dolfin, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The English Ambassador, on the tenth of this month, went to audience in company with that gentleman, who, as I lately wrote, has been sent expressly about the affair of the Queen of Scotland. After discoursing at length on the Queen's previous endeavours to bring about an invasion of England, and to compass the death of his mistress, the said gentleman made a detailed relation of the last treachery perpetrated by the Queen of Scotland, which seems to have been precisely of the nature that I have already described to your Serenity. After this he presented to the King the minutes of the trial of those who have been executed; and from their depositions the knowledge and participation of the Queen of Scotland is made quite clear (venne dopo presentato al Re il processo formato contro quelli che furono fatti morire, per li constituti de' quali si scuopre manifestamente l'intelligenza e participazione di detta Regina). Furthermore he handed to his Majesty many papers and letters which had been found in her house, which indicate still more clearly the nature of the affair; and among them was found a draft will in the Queen's own hand, by which she constitutes her son, James, heir to the Crown of England after her own demise, if by that time he shall have declared himself a Catholic; failing this the Crown is to pass to the King of Spain as the most zealous for religion and the most worthy prince in all the world; failing him or his heirs, to the Guise and their heirs (et di pi hanno dato alla Maest Sua diverse scritture et lettere, trovateli nella sua casa, che notificano maggiormente il trattato, oltreche vi s' trovato una cedula testamentaria di propria mano, nella quote instituisse herede del Regno d'Inghilterra dopo la sua morte il Re Giacomo suo figliuolo, se si sar all' hora dechiarito Catolico, senon il Re di Spagna, come il pi zelante delta religione, et pi degno Principe del mondo, et non vi essendo il Re di Spagna ne meno suoi figliuoli, che pervenghi in Duca di Ghisa et suoi heredi).
I am informed that his most Christian Majesty has handled the subject with the Ambassador and that gentleman with great ability, declaring that he detested such actions and those who committed them; that the Queen had done quite rightly in making an example of those who were accomplices in the conspiracy; but that as regards the Queen of Scotland he desired first of all to examine the papers and letters which they had given to him, and would then return his answer.
On the 12th despatches arrived from the French Ambassador in London, describing how, in the house where the Queen of Scotland is kept prisoner, three great rooms had been got ready with rich hangings, a canopy, and royal chairs. The Commissioners appointed to examine the Queen entered, and shortly afterwards the Queen herself; and when she made as though she would take her place under the canopy she was compelled to seat herself on a little tool beyond the canopy. She was questioned on many points which related to the recent affairs, but she declined to answer, although the Commissioners endeavoured to persuade her to do so, urging her not to irritate still more their mistress the Queen. To which she only answered that she was Queen of France, Queen of Scotland, and Queen of England after the death of the present Sovereign, and therefore it did not become her to render account of her actions to anyone but God. She held to this point for three days, always making the same reply, although she was urged to answer the questions addressed to her.
When the Queen of England heard of this constancy, three days later she sent a letter, without titles and without address, in which she declared that she had learned, with the greatest surprise, of the small account in which her orders and her Ministers were held, by this obstinate refusal to answer questions. She now informed her that if she would obey, as in duty bound, she would meet with mercy and pity, but that if she acted otherwise she should be tried by the law of the realm without any consideration, and that right quickly.
This intimation so alarmed the Queen of Scotland that she instantly resolved to answer all questions, to her great prejudice, as people think here, and in England; for besides stooping to a course of action which does not become her, it will damage her very much that she, with her own lips, has confessed to having had an understanding with Spain and with many Catholics in England, about her escape from prison; and this will minimise the value of her denial that she ever knew that there was a plot to kill the Queen; for an invasion of the country and the death of the Queen were the only means by which she could escape from prison (con suo grandissimo pergiudicio, come vien discorso in questo et in quel Regno, perche dice ognuno, che oltre l'haver fatto cosa che non si conveniva, le nuocera assai l'haver confessato di propria bocca havere havuto parte et intelligenza con Spagna et con molti Catolici del Regno per esser liberata di pregione, dovendosi metter in poca consideratione che ella habbia negato haver mai saputo che si trattasse di far morir la Regina, poiche non pu con mezzi tali uscir di prigionia senza invasione del Regno, et senza la morte della Regina d'Inghilterra).
After these depositions she was declared by Parliament worthy of death on the charge of lsa Majestas, news which has greatly disturbed the Nuncio, the Queen of Scotland's Ambassador, and the Guises, and caused them to insist that the King should send an express, which he did; for on the 15th inst. he despatched M. de Bellievre, Councillor of State, with orders to make every possible representation to restrain the Queen of England from carrying out that sentence. Many here hope that the mission will succeed, especially at this juncture of affairs, for the Queen of England has every reason to desire to attach the King of France; at the same time they think that the Queen of Scotland cannot escape from a very close imprisonment (cosi credono all' incontro, che non possi essa Regina di Scotia fuggire una vita molto ristretta et miserabile).
Don Bernardino, as he himself told me, at once sent news to Spain of this Embassy to England, and says that it has been entrusted to a person of such importance in order that he may persuade the Queen of England to continue the war in the Low Countries, for which he is to promise much assistance from France.
Paris, 21st November 1586.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Nov. 22. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 435. Giovanni Dolfin, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
News from Antwerp that Drake has crossed over to Flushing in Zealand, with twelve ships, four large and eight medium size, having on board reinforcements for the Earl of Leicester; and that a ship with four hundred Scotch on board has gone down.
Paris, 22nd November 1586.
[Italian.]
Nov. 27. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 436. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
A ship, master Nicol of Melos, laden with muscats for England, ran into Lisbon on the 12th inst, under stress of weather as the master said. There is a great probability that the Marquis of Santa Cruz will seize and detain it on the ground that it is carrying provisions for his Majesty's foes. If I said anything about this I am certain that they would only be confirmed in their belief that any troubles of the Queen of England rouse displeasure in Venice, all the more so as in the case of the Stella which was chartered for Venice, the King gave orders to raise no difficulties.
Madrid, 27th November 1586.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Nov. 27. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 437. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
A courier has arrived at last from Flanders with confirmation of the news that the Duke of Parma has defeated the Queen of England's troops. The same courier brings information from Don Bernardino de Mendoza, that his most Christian Majesty is more than ever anxious to effect a peace; that the Guise, at a meeting of their party, have resolved to resist the reinforcements which the Protestant Princes of Germany have promised to send to the Huguenots; that the Guises have promised that if the King of Spain will attack England he shall have no trouble from France. The King of France has made most earnest entreaty with the Queen of England to spare the Queen of Scotland's life, on the grounds that she a Catholic, his own sister-in-law, and that the Scotch and French crowns have always been allied. The Queen of England answered that the trial had so clearly shown that the Scotch Queen's guilt that by the law of no country would she he allowed to live (havendo il Re di Franza fatto ogni pi efficace ufficio con la Regina di Inghilterra per la vita di quella di Scotia, si per esser Catholica et sua cognata, essendo stata moglie di suo fratello, come per la buona intelligentia che quella corona haveva havuto sempre con Scocessi; rispondeva detta Regina che il processo era cosi dichiarato, che le leggi di qualsivoglia natione non la lascierebbono viva) ; all the same, to show her goodwill towards his most Christian Majesty, she would send him the minutes of the trial so that he might see how she had been recompensed for sparing the Queen's life before, owing to a dislike of shedding royal blood; and that his Majesty might assure himself of the share which the Ministers of the Catholic King had taken in this plot (which is what stings them most here) ; and, lastly, that, relying on his Majesty's excellent disposition towards her, she chose him as a judge in this case, being well assured that when he had examined the crimes of the Queen of Scotland he, himself, would pass upon her the sentence which he now, in his want of information, begged her to quash. (Tuttavia, che ella per mostrar la stima che fa di Sua Maest Christianissima, le manderebbe esso processo, si perche vedesse che maniera haveva tenuta colei in contracambio delta vita che le haveva lassata, per metter mano nel sangue regale, et perche constasse ancora la parte che in questa conspiratione havevano i ministri del Re Catholico, che quello che qui da molto fastidio, come perche, assicurandosi essa delta buona et ottima mente delta Maest sua, la eleggeva per giudice di questo caso, sicura che essa, considerate le colpe di quella Regina farebbe ella medesima quella sententia che, come non informata del successo, pregava lei che non eseguisse.) From this reply the Spanish Ambassador concludes that the Queen of Scotland will not be put to death after all, but will be kept so close a prisoner that she will not be able to think of such undertakings any more; for the Queen of England will consent to spare her life both to please and attach the King of France, and to avoid more serious difficulties which would fall upon her; for if the Queen of Scotland is dead, the Prince, her son, succeeds to all her claims upon the English throne, which he cannot advance during his mother's lifetime, and thus England would create an enemy, free, well armed, and very likely more popular.
Don Bernardino also declares that the anger of the King of France against his sister, the Queen of Navarre, is largely due to his conviction that she has received money from the Spanish Crown. Santa Cruz has been ordered to garrison the coast towns, and to fortify the port of Bayona in Galicia, which Drake once tried to seize when he was on his way to the Indies. The King has commanded that all the silver which has arrived in Seville with the fleet of New Spain shall be coined at once.
The Grand Commendatore is dead, to his Majesty's great grief, for he was a man after the King's heart, and his Majesty is in grave doubts as to how he shall fill up the vacancies; he has sent orders that prayers shall be offered in all the churches of Spain for God's inspiration of his choice. The Ambassadors of the Powers are not so sorry, for the Grand Commendatore treated every Prince as nothing in comparison with his Majesty the King.
Madrid, 27th November 1586.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]