Venice: January 1587

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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'Venice: January 1587', in Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 8, 1581-1591, ed. Horatio F Brown( London, 1894), British History Online [accessed 20 July 2024].

'Venice: January 1587', in Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 8, 1581-1591. Edited by Horatio F Brown( London, 1894), British History Online, accessed July 20, 2024,

"Venice: January 1587". Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 8, 1581-1591. Ed. Horatio F Brown(London, 1894), , British History Online. Web. 20 July 2024.

January 1587

1587. Jan. 2. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 445. Giovanni Dolfin, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
A son of Secretary Bruslart has arrived from England. He has been sent by M. de Bellievre, who describes his arrival at that Court, and says that he has been very well received by the Queen, notwithstanding that the affair upon which he was sent to negotiate is most displeasing to the whole nation. He reports that he has had an interview with her Majesty, and, in obedience to his orders, he used every possible means to obtain the release of the Queen of Scotland. Her Majesty replied that she was greatly surprised to find that the King, who on so many occasions had proved his affection for her begotten by her natural regard for him, and his esteem for her produced by her constant deference to his Majesty's name, should now endeavour, by a special embassy, by such vehement insistance, by employing so trusted a servant, to save the life of one who had so iniquitously compassed hers. But still greater was her surprise at the mission of Bellievre, for the King might plead that he was forced, even against his will, to give satisfaction to those who little deserved it, but this journey of Bellievre was not consistent with the rôle of a good councillor, whose duty it could never be to advise his Prince to protect an unjust cause, above all the cause of one who had always lived to live ill and to do ill, and ill to her who had always been a benefactor. Bellievre left her Majesty unshaken in her resolve, by the many powerful arguments in favour of the Queen of Scotland; and the sentence was published condemning the Queen to death. The population of London wished to show their great contentment at this resolve by fireworks all over the city at night.
The sentence was read to the Queen of Scotland; by it she was deprived of the title of Queen, of the insignia of royalty, and of her servants, and condemned to death. The Queen of England's officers began at once to give effect to this sentence. A Minister of the Church went to the Queen of Scotland to do his business with many perverse arguments, to which the Queen replied as follows: that Catholic she had lived and Catholic she would die; from the Roman, the only true Church, she had instilled into her heart the holy faith, for which she would expose her blood and her life to a thousand deaths and to a thousand torments; that she marvelled at the presumption with which he ventured to execute his orders; and although these proofs of a mind inflamed against her without any just cause, were sufficient to disturb her as a woman, yet as a Catholic, as a Queen (which title God's grace and her own constancy would always preserve to her, which dignity no insolence on earth could filtch from her), laying aside all human passion, she prayed the Almighty to illumine, by His most holy favour, the mind of the Queen of England, and to guide her actions to better ends than she had pursued for years past (avisa havere havuto audienza da Sua Maestà, colla quote, havendo fatto ogni possibile ufficio per la liberatione della Regina di Scotia, conforme alla commissione di Sua Maestà Christianissima, rispose essa, che restava veramente molto maravigliata, che it Re che in tante occasione haveva mostrato amarla et per l'amor che ella portava a lui per propria inclinatione singolare, et di stimarlo per quella osservanza che essa haveva continua at nome di Sua Maestà, volesse procurar con cosi espressa ambasciata, con ufficii tanto vehemente, et con mezzo d' un suo principalissimo Consigliero, di dar la vita a quella che cosi iniquamente haveva procurata a levarla a lei Che molto maggiore ancora era la meraviglia delta partenza del esso Monsieur de Belleure, che dell' ufficio del Rè; perche sicome questo era appoggiato all' interesse, che ha il Rè in questi tempi di voter dare, anco contra sua voglia, sodisfattione a quelli che non la meritano, cosi quella non haveva riguardo all' ufficio d' un buon consigliero; poiche non era cosa giusta consigliare il suo Principe a protegger cause ingiuste, et d' una ch' è visuta sempre con fine di viver male, per far male, et sopra'l tutto a quella che haveva fatto tanto bene. Partito Monsieur de Belleure dalla Regina con questa rissolutione, non ostante la replica di molte ragioni potenti a favor di quella di Scotia, fu publicata la sentenza, che fosse fatta morire; onde il popolo di Londra mostrando con moltiplici ragionamenti gran consolatione di questa rissolutione, volse far anco publici segni d' allegrezza con fuochi di notte per tutta la città. Fu letta la sentenza alla Regina di Scotia, che non dovesse esser più chiamata Regina ma Maria, che le fossero levati i baldachini; che il suo palazzo fosse spogliato delli addobbamenti regii, et coperto tutto di negro; che le fosse levata tutta la servitù, et mandatole un Ministro per essortarla a ben morire, et che dopo le fosse privata di vita. Le quali cose tutte sendo immediate principiate ad esseguirsi dalli Ufficiali regii, andò il Ministro per far ancor egli l'ufficio suo con ragioni piene di perverse persuasioni, at qual, scriveno, che essa parlò in questa sostanza, che sendo visuta Catholica, Catholica voleva parimente morire, che dalla Romana, ch è sola vera Chiesa, haveva impresso net cuore la santa fede per la quale il sangue et la vita a mille tormenti et a mille morti voleva porre; che per tanto restava maravigliata delta prosontione che insolentementes' arrogava, per tentar d'esseguir la sua commissione; che seben tante dimostrationi d' un animo concitato verso di lei senza alcuna ragione, haveva forza di perturbarla assai come Donna, che però come Catholica, come Regina (il qual nome si come le sarà sempre preservato dalla bontà d'Iddio, et dalla sua constanza, cosi quella dignità non le potrà esser gia mai levata da alcuna insolenza) spogliatasi d'ogni passione humana, supplicava il Signor Dio con ogni humiltà che volesse con raggi delta sua santissima gratia, rischiarar l'intelletto della Regina d'Inghilterra d'indirizzar le attioni sue a miglior fine di quello che operava tant' anni sono).
Monsieur de Bellievre, accurately informed of all that was going on, went once more to the Queen of England, to whom he made great complaint both of the sentence and the mode in which it was passed; he declared that, owing to its unwonted nature, it had greatly disturbed the King, who could not fail to feel deeply hurt by such treatment of the Queen of Scotland, so closely allied to him by blood and by affection. He further begged her Majesty to reconsider her decision, at which she had arrived when her mind was disturbed by her Councillors. The Queen replied that the wickedness of the Queen of Scotland was unwonted, and unwonted should be the example offered to the world as a warning to live well; on this point she had been admirably advised by her Councillors; that the King had no reason to complain for sound justice was being done, and as that was pleasing to God it ought to be pleasing to the King, for this justice was being done on a bad woman, protected by bad men, enemies of his Majesty and of the peace of France; and she added that it was absolutely necessary for Mary to die if Elizabeth was to live, or for Elizabeth to die if Mary was to live. She had on every occasion shown how great was the love she bore to the King, and now on this occasion as well she would give another proof by suspending execution for fifteen days, and thus would demonstrate to the King how just her claim and her resolve bad been.
Monsieur de Bellievre writes, however, that although the Queen spoke so firmly to him, and though such steps had been taken against the Queen of Scotland, yet he did not despair completely, though he greatly feared that the rest of the Queen of Scotland's life could only be a miserable one, quite unsuited even to any ordinary woman, much less to one of royal blood.
The great variety of the reports which are circulating here has induced me to write at length to your Serenity so that you may be informed of the substance of Monsieur de Bellievre's despatches to the King, which has been communicated to me under cover of the greatest secrecy by a person of importance.
(Monsieur de Belleure ottimamente informato di tutte queste cose andò di nuovo a trovar la Regina d'Inghilterra, colla quale fece gravissime querele et della sentenza et delle circonstanze sue, che sendo termini insoliti, haveriano havuto forza di perturbar grandemente l'animo del Re, il quale in cosi fatto cosa non poteva senon sentir molto male cosi fatta dimostratione verso la Regina di Scotia che non manco d' amore che d' affinità, li era strettamente congiunta; che per tanto fosse contenta la Maestà Sua pensar meglio alle risolutioni prese col consiglio d' un animo assai perturbato de suoi consiglieri. Rispose ella, che sendo insolita l'iniquità della Regina di Scotia, era ben conveniente con insolita dimostratione dar esempio al mondo del modo che si deve tener a viver bene, che per questo era stata ottimamente consigliata da suoi; et che manco se ne doveva dolere il Re poiche veniva esseguita una buona giustitia, la quale sendo tanto cara a Dio deve esser parimente cara a Sua Maestà, perche è esercitata verso una Donna cattiva, protetta da huomini cattivi et inimici particolari di Sua Maestà, et di tutta la quiete di Franza; soggiungendo che bisognava al tutto o che fosse fatta morir Maria perche vivesse Elisabet, o che Elisabet si contentasse di morire perche vivesse Maria; ma sia che sicome in tutte le occorenze haveva fatto conoscer al Re l'amor che li portava cosi anco in questa occasione li ne voleva dar quest altro assaggio, commandando che per 15 giorni fosse sospesa la sentenza, che serveria a far conoscer al Re vivamente le giuste pretentioni et risolutioni sue. Scrive però Mons. de Belleure, che sebene la Regina li havea parlato sempre risolutamente, et che seben erano fatte quelle esecutioni contra la Regina di Scotia, che non desperava affatto; come temeva grandemente che viveria essa una vita molto lacrimabile et incompatibile ad una povera donnicciuola, non che ad una di sangue reale. Li ragionamenti varii mi han eccittato a scrivere a V. Serenità cosi diffusamente in questo proposito; accioche ella sappia quello che scrive Mons. de Belleure al Re, che m' è poi stato communicato sotto molta secretezza da persona principale.)
Paris, 2nd January 1587.
Jan. 5. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 446. Giovanni Dolfin, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The King has recently despatched a member of the house of M. de L'Aubespine, his Ambassador in England, with all speed, to carry autograph letters addressed to the Queen; in these he makes most earnest appeals to her to spare the life of the Queen of Scotland; he recalls to her mind that Mary is not only a Queen and a great Queen, but she is intimately related to himself; he declares that he will take it as a supreme testimony of that affection which Elizabeth has so frequently protested for him, if Mary's life be spared, and promises to retain an eternal and grateful memory of that favour, whereas in any other case he cannot fail to be deeply offended.
(Il Re ha ultimamente ispedito in molta diligenza uno delta casa de Monsieur de Lubepine, suo Ambasciatore residente in Inghilterra, con lettere di proprio pugno a quella Regina, con le quali fa seco affettuosissimo ufficio accioche quella di Scotia non sia fatta morire, a ricordandole che oltre l' esser Regina et Regina grande, et congiunta scco d' affinità, esso ancora riceverà per supremo testimonio di quello amor ch' essa ha detto tante volte di portarli, se sara lasciata in vita, di che ne conserverà in ogni tempo et in ogni occasione gratissima memoria, come non potria in altro caso senon restarne gravamente offeso.)
Paris, 5th January 1587.
Jan. 6. Copy of Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 447. Matheo Zane, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
A person of great authority declares that the King of Spain is in treaty with the Queen of England to recover Flanders on good terms.
Prague, 6th January 1586 [m.v.].
Jan. 7. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 448. Lorenzo Bernardo, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
Eighteen English, captured in Barbary, have been brought here. The English Ambassador does all he can to recover them.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 7th January 1586 [m.v.].
[Italian; deciphered.]
Jan. 8. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 449. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
Every day one hears of fresh preparations for war in various parts of Spain, and especially in Malaga, where forty ovens over and above the ordinary, are at work continually, preparing biscuits to last a year for a force of seventy thousand persons. Francesco Duartes has been charged with the contract for thirty thousand cantaras (fn. 1) of cheese, which cost one hundred and fifty thousand crowns, and were brought by the twenty Hamburg ships which reached Lisbon a few days ago. They use great diligence in buying and storing vinegar and wine, and owing to the great scarcity of them this year they have sent to the Canaries to laden, for there they are to be had cheap, as they have recently planted many vineyards in place of sugar. Two hundred and fifty thousand ducats have been paid in cash to Antonio da Gheuara, who has the contract for victualling the Armada, in order that he may the better be able to treat for the supply of meat and salt fish, and other provisions.
They are fitting up several ships at Saccaben in Portugal; they were taken from the Flemish two years ago, and were in a very bad state. Repeated orders have been sent to retain all the big ships in these ports. Seven companies of light cavalry of Castille and the Asturias have moved to the frontiers of Portugal.
The King has a list of forty captains drawn up from information furnished by the cities of Spain, and he is going to commission them for two hundred men apiece; some say they are to go at once to Lisbon, others that they are to sppply the place of the Italian reserves. Further, the Prince of Parma has received orders to send to Spain twenty of his bravest lieutenants to be commissioned as captains for the four thousand troops which are being raised in Castille. The Council of War meets every day to treat of these and similar secret preparations; but as to the real intentions of his Majesty your Serenity will discover them more easily from the enclosed report furnished by the Marquis of Santa Cruz, which I have obtained in great secresy.
The King kept the feast of the translation of S. James in his chapel. All the knights of the order were present, to the number, perhaps, of one hundred. The General of the Augustines, called Pinello, preached with great eloquence, exhorting the knights to spend their lives and their fortunes on the English expedition, and proving in a most beautiful way that it was impossible to do anything more acceptable to God than to punish the English heretics.
Don Juan de Gusman, commander of the fleet of New Spain, which has just arrived, has been arrested on the charge of having exceeded his orders, which were to wait for the Peruvian fleet; that fleet is expected in April, and is said to be very rich, some even declare that it brings eight millions in gold. It is held certain that the King will send out a fleet to meet it, especially as many English ships are known to be cruising about, and Drake is getting ready the rest of his squadron; he says that nothing would be so serviceable for the Queen as to seize a Spanish fleet, by which she would acquire reputation, and would throw Spanish affairs into confusion.
The French Agent, who was here on behalf of several great nobles of France, has left without obtaining any result. His object was to secure one hundred thousand crowns from the King on condition that peace was not concluded in France.
They have other means, however, to attain this end, chiefly through Savoy, Montmorency, and Guise.
Madrid, 8th January 1586 [m.v.].
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Enclosed in preceding Despatch. 450. Report by the Marquis of Santa Cruz, setting forth what must be done to counteract the mischief wrought by the English.
Learning that many ships have already sailed from England, and that others are about to sail, making a total of eighty, his Majesty should put together a fleet, and should send it out to seek and fight the English. The galleons of his Majesty in Portugal, and those in the river at Seville, should be got ready, careening and caulking them, so that they may be fit for any voyage, however long; also a galleon of the Grand Duke, which is very well armed, should be put in commission. Further, forty-five great ships which are now lying in Biscay and Giupusca must be refitted, armed, commissioned, and victualled for eight months; and a thousand sailors must be levied in Catalonia and Barbary, and divided among the ships, as was done in the case of the fleet for the Azores. Six thousand troops must be raised, and the order should issue for more than that number so that it may not fall short From Biscay we must have twenty transports. Supplies of artillery, powder, cordage, lead, harquebusses, muskets, pikes in reserve, must be collected.
We also require another squadron of ten ships, two of four hundred tons, four of two hundred tons, and four transports; also one thousand men besides the crews.
Considering that the English have done so much damage in so short a time to the merchantmen trading in these waters it is likely that they will do the same to the India fleets; accordingly it would be as well to give orders that at least two more ships besides the Captain and the Admiral, should be armed in each fleet; but this is not a reason to stop the escort.
All these preparations are directed solely against the English fleet and English corsairs. But if Don Antonio is on board the English fleet, and if he attempts a landing on the coast of Portugal then the following provisions would be required. The fleet and army, which I have indicated above, should be kept to deal with the enemy on this coast; and the Castillian guard should be called out, as well as six hundred, light horse; half should be disposed between the Douro and the Miño on the Portuguese borders, ready to go where required, while the other half should be employed to garrison Lisbon.
It will be necessary to raise other four thousand men to be furnished by the Counts of Benevento, Altamira, Monterey, and the Marquises of Saria and Seralva, and other nobles and gentlemen of this district, who are to hold these troops in readiness against the time when his Majesty comes to Portugal. The Militia of Toro, Zamora, Salamanca, and Trissiglia are to support the district between the Douro and Miño, and that of Estremadura and Seville to support Lisbon and its district. The forts of this city, on the river and in the district should be provided with victuals and ammunition, and all that is required in the way of artillery, as I requested in other reports which I submitted to your Majesty. The troops must be equipped for a four months' campaign. Six thousand reserves should be ready to march down to the Tagus, should the English fleet not continue its route to the Indies.
I hold that all the above provisions are required for your Majesty's service, and should be got ready with all speed; that the money should be held in readiness to furnish these supplies, each of them separately without considering the others, and all should be done promptly.
Submitting myself to better judgment.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Jan. 10. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 451. Giovanni Gritti, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
His Holiness said to me: “They would not attack the Turk while he was engaged with Persia; they would not attack England, which, after all, is only half of an island, and has frequently been taken before by Britons and Saxons; Spain should have attacked England at once; that would have cut off the supplies to Flanders; instead of which much money has been wasted uselessly. We will grant ecclesiastical subsidies of two millions to the King of Spain.”
Rome, 10th January 1586 [m.v.].
Jan. 11. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 452. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The agent sent to the Schereef whose name is Marino, writes that the King treats him with courtesy, entertains him, and uses him, well, but that he can get nothing from the King but words. Further, the English Agent comes and goes constantly, and the Queen of England has sent a large number of shipbuilders to make galleys and galleons, but the Schereef has not slaves enough to man them. The Turkish Agent is still in Morocco, and the Schereef intercepts all letters and messengers for Spain, and it requires the greatest astuteness to get them through. These despatches are eagerly looked for here in order to penetrate the designs of the Turks and the Queen of England.
Two deputies from the Province of Biscay are now at Court; the King has contracted with them for the building of one hundred and twenty ships in four years. His Majesty will employ this fleet for six months, April to September, of each year, at a rate of two hundred and seventy-six thousand ducats, and will spend two thousand ducats a year on their up keep; and should he not require all he will use only a part. They are bound to serve in European and all other waters. If the King desires to employ them all the year they will be paid for the extra time, and when not in his Majesty's service they are to be favoured above all other shipping in respect of chartering.
In this way they hope to have a navy which will free the seas from pirates.
This idea was proposed by the Cardinal de Granvelle.
Some English goods which arrived at Cadiz, under the name of French firms, have been seized. Longle, the French Ambassador, makes representations for their release, but it is thought that he will not succeed.
Madrid, 11th January 1586 [m.v.].
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Jan. 12. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 453. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
Don Juan d'Idiaquez came to-day to visit me, which he said he did also in the King's name. Among other points he said that his Majesty was glad to learn that the Marquis of Santa Cruz had obeyed his orders, and had set the Stella at liberty for Venice, and the other Venetian ship for England, although he knew that it was carrying goods for his enemies.
I thought it advisable to say nothing about the second ship, for here they are convinced that Venice does not wish well to the attach on England.
Don Juan d'Idiaquez talked of many subjects; among others he said that the Queen of England made a poor return to his Catholic Majesty for having freed her from prison. The King was resolved to keep up a large fleet to clear the ocean of pirates, and one day or other the Queen would receive her punishment, which would be all the severer the longer it was delayed. As these words were used by a Minister of such importance, who may be said to do everything, they were as though spoken by the voice of the King, and so I have not hesitated to report them to your Serenity. He also told me that although the King has been living in retirement during Christmas, and attending to his devotions, yet he has not omitted to make various provisions for the Armada. It is indeed a miracle to see how he governs this great machine without any Council of State, and almost, one might say, without Ministers; but his long experience, and his singular prudence, joined to his great power, easily point out to him alone sound and excellent lines of action more easily than they could occur to many, however wise they might be (et è cosa veramente incredibile il considerare come si governa hora questa gran machina senza consiglio di Stato et si puo dire senza Ministri, ma la longa pratica et la singular prudenza di questo serenissimo Re congionta con una tanta potentia dimostranno a lui solo più facile le vere et buone deliberation che a molte altri uniti insieme, per savii che si fussero).
All the same, considering his Majesty's age, we must hold that he will not be able to support these long fatigues entailed on him by his desire to examine and to know about every detail; and as his son is so young he will be forced soon to elect Ministers of experience so that after his death a young Prince and inexperienced Ministers may not be left to the government of so many Kingdoms and States.
Madrid, 12th January 1586 [m.v.].
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Jan. 14. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 454. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
There is a fresh attempt to arrive at an accord with England. An English merchant, resident in Lisbon under safe conduct, is in treaty on this subject with the Secretary Michiel de Mora, who, in his turn, refers everything to Don Pedro Sermento. It seems that the Queen is in some alarm at the last conspiracies, and because she finds out every day that the number of Catholics in her kingdom is greater than she supposed; moreover her continual and unfruitful expenses in Flanders, which expose her to some ruinous reverses, all incline her to yield Holland and Zealand to his Majesty, without insisting, as she did at first, on the clauses securing liberty of conscience. The whole affair is kept a profound secret, and it is not impossible that it may prove to be an artifice of that exceedingly clever woman to throw things out of gear, and to cause the heat of armament to cool (et potrebbe esser ancora come qui dubitano, che fusse artificio di quella accortissima donna, per sturbar che di qua si cessi dall'ardor di far Armada); all the more so as it is announced that the Queen, with a view to securing herself against the communications which pass between the Prince of Scotland and this Crown, and also in order to execute the Queen of Scotland in greater safety, has attempted to seize the Prince by an ambuscade while he was out hunting. The design failed, and the Queen then announced that she had sent those people merely to attend and serve the Prince.
Bon Bernardino de Mendoza writes from France that the pacification of that kingdom will not take place, in his opinion, or if it does it will last a shorter time than the last. He endeavours to persuade his Majesty that now is the time to avenge herself on that woman; he adduces many reasons in support of his view, and, above all, the fact that after this fresh injury Scotland will openly declare himself against the Queen of England (cerca di persuadere a questo Serenissimo Re esser hora il tempo di vendicarsi di quella Donna, adducendo molte ragioni a favor dell' impresa et massime che Scotia per questa nuova ingiuria si mostrerà apertamente contra quella Regina). I shall watch whether the agreement with England progresses or not, and hope to have information from a sound source.
The Schereef has replied in general terms from which nothing can be gathered. The Spanish, who return from Flanders, complain loudly of the Duke of Parma, declaring that they are very badly treated, and. the Italians always favoured; but the King pays no heed.
Madrid, 14th January 1586 [m.v.].
[Italian; deciphered.]
Jan. 17. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 455. Giovanni Gritti, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
The Queen of England after condemning the Queen of Scotland to death has pardoned her at the instance of the King of France.
Rome, 17th January 1587.
Jan. 17. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 456. Giovanni Gritti, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
His Holiness then said to me that the Queen of England, in alarm at the preparations in Spain, had recalled her troops from Flanders, and was urging the Turk to send out a fleet, in order to divert the King of Spain from his enterprise against England. For this purpose she kept an Agent at Constantinople who was negotiating this affair. The Emperor furnished this news to his Holiness.
Rome, 17th January 1586 [m.v.].
Jan 21. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 457. Giovanni Dolfin, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Three days ago, while making the usual visit to the English Ambassador, M. de Dereaux was announced; he is the Agent sent by Navarre to his Majesty. He entered on a long explanation of the causes of the present war in France, laying all the blame on the house of Guise, who rendered it impossible for his master to conclude terms of peace.
Paris, 21st January 1587.
Enclosed In Despatch From Constantinople, Jan. 21. 458. Copy of the Letter Written by the Grand Signor to the Queen of England.
Your Ambassador here resident has presented a memorial to my sublime Porte, setting forth your great and true fidelity, and how that you are at war with Spain, and have captured many provinces, forts, and cities which now are subject unto you; and how that you have made provision for a great Armada to oppose the Armada of spain which was sent to the Gidé (sic) sea, and that you have hopes that by this time it is captured. the memorial also states that you have so reduced the spanish army in flanders for want of provisions that a large part of it has been captured. for these reasons the enmity of the spanish has been so much increased that they have more than twice sent desperate harquebrusseirs to assault you, but by the help of the lord god no harm has been done. accordingly my imperial majesty is convinced that you are right faithful to my sublime porte, and it is therefore necessary for you to observe all the terms of the various obligations which bind both parties. and do not fail to write to me of your health, and to tell me what happens in your part of the world; and as for your complaint against hassan aga on account of some slaves he has been degraded, and when he comes here we will speak and act as becomes our good Friendship.
Jan. 24. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 459. Giovanni Gritti, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
The preparations in Naples, Sicily, and Milan, as well as in Spain, make people say that the King of Spain is about to attack Geneva or England. As regards England it is argued that France will never allow Spain to become mistress of that island; and so it will be too dangerous for the Spaniards to attack England with a hostile France on their flanks.
Rome, 24th January 1586 [m.v.].
Jan. 26. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 460. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
As I wrote before, the Council of War meets every day, morning and evening, to attend to the armament of the fleet. Along the coast of Spain, and chiefly at Seville and Cadiz, as many as one hundred and twenty ships, chiefly Flemish, have been impounded. It would seem that his Majesty has resolved to cut off the trade of Holland and Zealand, a step which he could never be induced to take before. It is held for certain that the English fleet will be out long before the Catholic armada, which will be under the command of the Marquis of Santa Cruz.
English corsairs have captured, off Cape St. Vincent, two ships coming from Brazil, and six other ships which were carrying ammunition from Castille off to Lisbon. In that city a Portuguese friar, a spy of Don Antonio, has been arrested; he was carrying many letters to Don Antonio, urging him to come to Portugal as soon as possible, and containing other news of the highest importance. He is a friar of the order of Saint Francis, of noble blood, brother to Count Bridiguerre; he has already once before been a prisoner for a year in the Castle of Belem; but was subsequently liberated and sent to a monastery in Castille on parole that he would mix no more in such affairs; now he will pay the penalty with eighteen others who up to the present have been arrested.
The Queen of England sent here to treat of an accord, a Spaniard called Don Sermento di Gamboa, whom Drake had captured in the Indies. She says, however, that she intends to hold the sword in hand. But about this, and about the poor Queen of Scotland, your Serenity will have received much earlier news from France. I must tell you, however, that the said Gamboa on his way from England to Spain, was seized by the Huguenots of Bordeaux, who demanded a ransome of several thousand ducats, which were paid by the King of Spain.
Madrid, 26th January 1586 [m.v.].
Jan. 30. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 461. Giovanni Dolfin, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Monsieur de Bellievre told me that the Queen of England, after the many representations reiterated in the King's name, has finally resolved to remove the black hangings from the Queen of Scotland's rooms, and to give her some waiting women, without making any other promises about sparing her life; but always declaring that she must take the steps necessary for her own safety, which she believed was no less dear to the King than the life of “Mary,” so she now calls the Queen of Scotland. The Queen of Scotland, besides the obvious danger she is in owing to her religion, which will always be a source of movements and tumults, is also exposed to this further risk that Elizabeth has compelled all her great nobles to sign a paper declaring Mary to be worthy of death, and these will now, all of them, urge her execution, out of regard for their own safety and from fear of what she would do to them if she came to the throne.
Paris, 30th January 1587.
Jan. 31. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 462. Giovanni Gritti, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
All the preparations which are going on cause people to think that the attack on England is settled. The Pope will give seven hundred thousand crowns, which he wishes to pay out at the rate of fifty thousand a month. A Cardinal of importance speaking to me, said, “I fear that it may not please, everyone to see the Pope laying by so much money,” and the general opinion is that the attack on England is a very difficult affair.
Rome, 31st January 1586 [m.v.].


  • 1. Cantara = 16 lbs. See Martini, Manuale di Metrologia, p. 322.