Venice: May 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: May 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: May 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: May 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.

May 1587

May 2. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 507. Giovanni Gritti, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
News from Spain that they are continuing the preparations for war, but at the same time M. de Granvelle is conducting negotiations for an accord between Spain and England. If the Queen will remove the troops which she sent and still sends into Holland and Zealand, the King will abstain from attacking her.
Rome, 2nd May 1587.
May 2. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 508. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
At the ceremony of translating the body of Santa Leucadia to Toledo the King refused to allow any bull fights or tourneys, both because he thought the occasion unfit, and because he wished to express his mourning for the Queen of Scotland.
Madrid, 2nd May 1587.
May 2. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 509. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
A few days ago the Viscount of Caux (?) arrived here on behalf of the King of Navarre with all secrecy. After treating with Don Juan d'Idiaquez he withdrew to Alcala, about four leagues off, and now conducts all business through a brother-in-law, a Spaniard, who passes backwards and forwards as required. There is also here a M. de la Motte, agent of the Guises, on the pretence of buying horses. Although it is difficult to find out the details of their negotiations, yet everyone knows that both of them are here to draw money for the continuance of the war in France. It is not possible to discover what this King's action may be, especially with regard to Navarre, but M. de Longlè, who resides here for the King of France, let it be known that this is not the way to unite these two Crowns against England; and that his Majesty, as one of the principle defenders of the Catholic faith, should extinguish rather than fan that fire which may one day work great mischief to the Christian community; and he complains that the Duke of Savoy has taken a part in this affair by sending his Agent to Montmorency. But the Ministers reply that these gentlemen are here on private business of their own, and declare that the King of Spain is a true friend to the King of France, and desires a union against England.
The King is occupied in raising money, and has written an order to the President of the Public Revenue to see that he has three millions of gold ready this year. The President had already guaranteed two millions, and there is now a question of a loan of another million for Flanders; this makes many imagine that the King intends to bribe the English commanders to surrender the forts of Holland and Zealand as was done at Zutphen and Deventer. The Duke of Parma represents this as possible (onde molti discorreno che si habbia pensiero di guadaguar con denari li capitani inglesi per la restitutione delle piazze d' Ollanda et Zelanda, secondo che fu fatto di Zutfen et Deventer, come ne da speranza il Duca di Parma).
Six Scotch and English Bishops are here; they have been deprived of their revenues, and are in straits; his Majesty accordingly has resolved to assign them to the six richest Bishops in Spain to be maintained in this way till further provision. One of those Bishops has printed a book to prove that, after the King of Scotland, the King of Spain is the real heir to the English throne, which he does by the help of a genealogical tree showing the descendants of two English Princes, one married in Portugal, the other in Castille. They say the King is much pleased with the book.
The postmaster of Ayron, on the French frontier, sends word that the Huguenots towards Bordeaux have seized and robbed many couriers; and should the King think of changing the route and sending them through Provence, that district will be found to be infected no less by Huguenots than by the plague.
Madrid, 2nd May 1586 (sic 7 ?).
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Postscript.—After having written the above, couriers arrived almost simultaneously from various quarters with two sets of news; one that Drake had left London for Plymouth to gather a powerful fleet with a view to meeting and fighting the Peruvian flotilla, and to go to the Azores with Don Antonio of Portugal, while the Queen of England spread the report that he had left for Constantinople; the other, that the commander of the galleys of Spain had fought seven English ships which were on their way to the Levant. Four saved themselves, thanks to a favourable wind, while three went to the bottom with everybody on board. The galleys of Spain, however, suffered much, losing many lives. The commander had his squadron of twenty-five reinforced by twelve other ships, and went after the Englishmen, who appeared to be becalmed. Accordingly it is absolutely necessary that the Spanish should look to their preparations for war, and carry them out vigorously, for, as a rule, these officials are slow in following the King's orders, owing to their expectation of an accord. Indeed it is the general opinion that the Catholic Armada cannot be ready for two months to come, which will give Drake more opportunities to work mischief.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
May 6. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 510. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
I have frequently informed your Serenity that the King will not undertake any expedition this year, and that all the preparations for an Armada are constructed merely with a view to frightening the Queen of England, and to divert her attention from operations against Spain; while, on the other hand, all that woman's negotiations for an accord are merely a ruse to keep the minds of the Spanish in uncertainty, and to throw them into confusion a s has happened; for the news that Drake was preparing an armament in Plymouth had hardly reached Spain when it was followed by the news that he was here, off the coast, with forty-two sail; that he had gone to Cadiz, a city of great wealth in merchandise, and had destroyed the stone bridge that joined that island to the mainland, burned or taken several ships which were lying in harbour, retained some Dutch ships which had been pressed into the service of the Catholic fleet, and were laden with wine and biscuits for Lisbon. He also assaulted the city in the hope of sacking it, though the Duke of Medina Sidonia and the neighbouring cities sent large reinforcements. This bad news has caused great annoyance for many reasons; the King and his Council feel the indignity and the loss, but more than that, they fear lest, as Drake is master of the sea, and as they cannot at once send out a fleet strong enough to fight him, or even to keep him in check, he will have every facility for working havoc on the coast, for preventing the junction of the squadrons of Seville and Biscay with that which is lying in Lisbon, and for harassing the galleys that are coming from Italy. He will also be able to keep an eye on the movements in Portugal, and can go to the Azores to await the Peruvian fleet. Everyone here expresses his own opinion, and the Spaniards themselves blame the sluggishness which has been displayed in all this affair; and the exaggerated hopes of an accord with the Queen of England, who, they say, is in relations with Matthias and with the Turk to the great embarrassment of this Grown. There are many other remarks current, such as that this woman has shown the world how they can strike at the Spaniard in Flanders, in the Indies, and in his own house; and that these injuries inflicted by Drake will raise many considerations in the minds of other Princes, and also of the King's own subjects.
I had got so far when other couriers arrived from Cadiz, which they left on the 2nd and 3rd inst., with news that Drake had been vigorously repulsed by the Duke of Medina Sidonia who had arrived from San Lucar, by forced marches, with three thousand soldiers; and that from other quarters one thousand horse and five or six thousand infantry had also arrived, so that Drake had put out to sea again, not, however, without having wrought great damage; for after sacking twenty-two ships, and taking their artillery and cargoes of wine and biscuits he burned them, carrying off three of the biggest. They estimate the damage at more than two hundred thousand ducats. The Spanish commander followed up the enemy, but the issue is unknown. Santa Cruz, in Lisbon, is getting everything ready, but calls for aid.
Madrid, 6th May 1587.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Postscript.—Last night the King received news at Aranjuez that Drake had fallen in with his reinforcements, and had returned to Cadiz. His Majesty accordingly despatched Don Francesco Bobadiglia, Adjutant-General, to those parts with various orders; meantime another courier has arrived with information that the news was not true, but that the alarm was spread by the sight of various merchantmen which sailed into the port of Cadiz. I am informed that many of the masters of the Flemish ships which were seized some months back in Spain, have fled to England, and that it was they who brought Drake into Cadiz, as they promised the Queen great booty. Also that M. de Champagny is in London, and everyone is amazed to see how cleverly that woman manages in everything; the King endeavours to conceal all this, and his Ministers do their best to excuse him (et che tuttavia sta Mons. di Sciampagni in Londra, il qual fà stuppire ogn' uno come quella donna opera tanto astutamente in tutte le cose, et vorrebbe il Re dissimulare tutto questo fatto, et procurano li suoi Ministri di escusarlo più che si può).
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
May 8. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 511. Giovanni Dolfin, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Count of Altapena, Governor of Guelderland, has captured a town called Carcova, belonging to the Duke of Cleves, which was surprised two months ago by Martin Schenk, an Englishman.
The King of Scotland has granted to the Archbishop of Glasgow, who was Ambassador here for the Queen of Scotland, twenty-two years' income of his see, which is from six to seven thousand ducats, and to the Bishop of Rothesay a similar twenty-two years' income of his see, which amounts to three thousand ducats. They say the King will continue to employ the Archbishop at this Court.
Paris, 8th May 1587.
May 9. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 512. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The King and all Spain are most disturbed by Drake's action at Cadiz. His Majesty it seems has resolved to collect, as soon as possible, as large a fleet as he can, in order to oppose this corsair in the best way he is able. They fear that Drake and his reinforcements are about to sail for the Azores to fight the fleet that is coming with great riches from New Spain. They have sent off two carvels with orders to detain the fleet in the port of Havana, or at least to alter its course so as to avoid the Azores; and they are thinking of sending on an escort to meet it. Another carvel has been despatched to keep Drake under observation.
Orders have been sent to Biscay, where are, perhaps, some twenty men-of-war, and to Naples and Sicily, that all these squadrons are to come to Lisbon as soon as possible to join the fleet under the Marquis of Santa Cruz. The thirty lieutenants who have recently come from Flanders have each been commissioned for a company apiece. Fresh supplies of wine and biscuits, in place of those seized by Drake in Cadiz, have been ordered. All the same everyone thinks that all these preparations will be too late, and only the good fortune of the King can pull him through at a pinch.
The King is very well pleased with the Duke of Medina Sidonia, and to give a conspicuous proof of it he has created the Duke Captain-General of Andalusia, Granada, and Murcia, an honourable office which the Duke has long desired; but the fact will greatly annoy the Duke of Ossuna, his rival.
News from Ceuta that Murad Rays has sailed with eighteen ships to go buccaneering towards the Canaries, as he did last year; and some suppose that he is acting in concert with the Queen of England to annoy the King, as, indeed, they hold for sure that certain movements on the Bearn frontier of upwards of a thousand Huguenots are to be attributed to that cause.
They have learned from five English prisoners, captured at Cadiz, that Drake has vast designs against the King of Spain, and often discusses them with great warmth. And that your Excellencies may see how important may be the rage of a man, even though of low extraction, when roused against even a Prince. I must tell you that Drake was a favourite page of his Majesty when he was in England. He was then sent to the Indies on a mission by which he became creditor of Spain for nine thousand ducats. He stayed at Court for a whole year without being able to get his money owing to the remissness of officials, and was finally obliged to sell his claim for three thousand ducats. He returned to England, and swore that his own right hand should avenge him his wrongs. He received leave from the Queen, and sailed with five ships to the Indies, and arrived at the Straits of Magellan, where he seized a ship laden with gold. Not content with that he returned a second time, and now is working all this mischief in Spain.
As a counterbalance to these misfortunes the King's good luck has brought him the discovery of a mountain twenty miles long, all full of veins of purest silver. They are short of workmen, and orders have been given to send out a large number of Moorish slaves.
Enclosed is an account of Drake's operations.
Madrid, 9th May 1587.
Enclosed in preceding Despatch. 513. Report of Drake's Operations in the Port of Cadiz.
On Wednesday, the 29th of April, about five in the afternoon, Drake sailed into the port with a fleet of about forty-two sail, that is to say, five great ships of five hundred tons each, two galleasses of two hundred tons, six ships of one hundred tons, thirteen frigates of sixty tons, and the rest light vessels. Don Pedro de Acugna was in the port near the city with seven galleys and one galleon. He opened fire on the enemy, and so the engagement began. The city, too, did what it could, but the populace was terror stricken. The women and children were placed in the castle, but so great was the pressure of the crowd on entering that twenty-five persons were suffocated. The Governor Juan de Vega and other knights reinforced the guards and the sentinels at the most dangerous points by placing their best troops there, and sent notice at once to Xeres and other neighbouring cities. They then went down to the bridge, which the enemy had begun to break up; they sent word to the Duke of Medina Sidonia, who arrived during the night with three thousand troops.
The moment the enemy entered the port they sank one great Genoese ship, laden with merchandise of value, and burned other ships which were laden and ready to sail for New Spain. They took a Biscayan of seven hundred tons, intending to carry her off with them, but they afterwards sank her.
Don Pedro de Acugna with his galleys took one of the enemy's frigates which lagged behind, and he sent the five English who survived into the city, that they might furnish information as to the forces and designs of the enemy, who was able to keep the Spanish galleys at a distance as their artillery had a longer range than ours (i suoi pezzi tiravano più da lontano delli nostri).
During that night nothing more took place, as Drake did not venture to land, which was a mercy vouchsafed by God, for he sacked the city with a slaughter of fifty men only.
At dawn many cavalry and infantry arrived in addition to that which the Duke of Medina Sidonia had introduced into the city. As soon as day had dawned Don Pedro, with his galleys, endeavoured to annoy the enemy, and thought he did them some damage, but the enemy's ships compelled him eventually to retire under the fort, and their frigates began to burn the shipping in harbour; the first ship they fired was one belonging to the Marquis of Santa Cruz of eight hundred tons, after taking out the wine and biscuits she had on board. They then turned to five Biscayans which were lying in the port, and set them on fire, as well as to twenty-two others laden, some with salt, some with raisins, some with grain. As two galleys were anchored at the entrance to the harbour by the bridge, the frigates could not enter to fire the ships which were lying alongside the bridge, and those were the ships destined for the fleet of New Spain. At midday, with a west wind blowing in their teeth, the enemy tried to clear the port, but could not, and sailed up the channel in very good order. At midnight, the wind serving, they set sail and put out to the open sea, followed by the twenty-two galleys which had arrived. Francis Drake's fleet is of forty-two sail, twenty-six ships besides frigates and galliots. It is manned by four thousand men, as the English prisoners report. The corsair has captured two thousand nine hundred hogsheads of wine, and ten thousand quintals of biscuits, and ten thousand aneghe (fn. 1) of corn; he burned nineteen great ships and three little ones. He has two captain ships of at least five hundred tons each, and two admiral ships of the same burden, and another of the like build. Two galleasses of extreme beauty, two hundred tons each, and seven ships of one hundred and fifty tons; thirteen large frigates of fifty or sixty tons. Every ship carries boats capable of holding forty men,
May 16. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 514. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The King is much better. The gout has gone into his knee, and, although he is in bed, he continues to transact business.
Drake, in passing along the coast of Portugal, attempted a landing at Lagos, but the weather was too stormy, and he could not succeed; he merely took in some supplies of meat. It is thought that he has gone on to make a junction with other English ships, for a carvel from St. Michel's, one of the Azores, reports it fell in with twenty-four great ships and two transports sailing towards Cape St. Vincent. They took them for English and Dutch, cruising about to fall in with Drake. He is quite sure to be heard of again soon, and the King grows keener every day for his revenge.
They are thinking of raising twelve thousand infantry, six thousand in Naples and Milan, three thousand in Romagna, and three thousand in Tuscany; and for this last six thousand they hope to get half the pay from the Pope and half from the Grand Duke. They intend to raise other troops in Germany, and wish to have them all here by the first of August, to use them at once if certain secret designs go forward, if not to put them into winter quarters. It seems that all Spain is in earnest, and ready to grant every assistance, for they declare that the Queen of England and Drake are obscuring the grandeur of this Crown and the valour of the Spanish nation; and that Drake can no longer be considered a buccaneer, for he holds the commission of Captain-General from his mistress. The city of Seville, in particular, has offered to furnish, at its own charges, twenty-four ships, and to pay them for a year (par che tutta la Spagna si lasci intendere di voler far dovero, et dar ogni aiuto; dicendo che questa Regina d' Inghilterra et Draco vanno oscurando la grandezza di questo Serenissimo Re, et il valor della nation Spagnuola; et che costui non si puo dir corsaro poiche tiene patente della sua Patrona di Capitano Generate del Mare. Et la città di Siviglia particolarmente offerisse di armar a sue spese, 24 navi pagate per un' anno).
For the command of the expedition, it seems that the King thinks of sending the Duke of Parma, and supplying his place in Flanders by the Duke of Savoy.
Of the French gentlemen here it seems that Navarre's will get kind words and Guise's kind deeds.
Madrid, 16th May 1587.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
May 17. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 515. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The King has the gout in his feet and both his hands; the doctors have bled him twice, and now wish to purge him. Business accordingly is somewhat at a standstill. We hear, however, that the Marquis of Santa Cruz is getting the Armada in order with all speed, and intends to take the sea in person. In Galicia 20 English ships have effected a landing, and have sacked Corunna, and then followed on Drake's route.
Madrid, 17th May 1587.
May 21. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 516. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
We hear that some ohundred ships, divided into several squadrons, are out. They are chiefly English, and a few Bretons. A nephew of Drake, in command of twenty-five of them, is at the Straits of Gibraltar, lying in wait for the ships which are bringing troops from Sicily, and which have already reached Cartagena on their way to Lisbon. Orders have been sent to them to remain in some port or other. Others of the enemy's fleet are off Cape St. Vincent, and let no ships pass without boarding them, chiefly to get information of the Spanish fleet with a view to effecting a junction against it. They say that Murad Rays has joined Drake. These news have induced the King to order the Marquis of Santa Cruz to take the sea in force, and to effect a junction as soon as he can with the Biscay an ships; but they think that this cannot take place before the end of next month. Meantime the English are masters of the sea, and hold it at their discretion. Lisbon and the whole coast is, as it were, blockaded. And so the Spanish say that the King thinks and plans while the Queen of England acts, and that in earnest (onde Spagnuoli dicono che il Re pensa et negotia, et la Regina d'Inghilterra opera et fa da vero). The Frenchmen who are here have very serious business on hand. They ask for money, and Navarre, on the one hand, promises that he will never make peace with the King of France, but will always keep him fully occupied; while the Guise, on the other, make similar promises against Navarre. Don Juan d'Idiaquez gives more ear to the Guise than to Navarre in whom he has little confidence. All, however, is suspended at present owing to the indisposition of the King.
Madrid, 21st May 1587.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
May 22. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 517. Giovanni Dolfin, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
De L'Aubespine writes that the Queen of England has liberated Destrapes, and that twenty-three ships laden with grain, which had been seized by pirates when on their way to France, and brought into London, had by her severe orders been left untouched, as she said she desired to restore them to her good brother, the King of France, if he would restore English goods and vessels now detained in his realms. On receipt of the news the English Ambassador resident here and Sig. Oad (Wade) demanded an audience in order to obtain the liberation of English men and goods in France, and for the re-establishment of commercial relations. The Agent further desired to take his leave on his return home. But they were continually put off by the Secretaries of State, who said that they must wait till Destrapes returned to France, and then all difficulties would be ended to the common satisfaction.
News from Antwerp to private merchants, that on the 26th a meeting between the representatives of the Duke of Parma and the representatives of the States is to take place somewhere between Brussels and Berghen to consider the question of an accord. Also that serious differences had arisen between the English and Count Maurice's people, and that they came near to cutting each other to bits. The Queen's Ministers, however, say that all discords are at an end, and that the Earl of Leicester will be back there in a day or two.
We hear that at many places in Scotland they have begun to say the mass, but the party of the Queen of England who are about the King made a great uproar on this point, and his Majesty was obliged to issue orders that this should cease, and that the gentlemen who caused the mass to be said, and the priests who said it, should all be arrested. But as there was great delay in the. execution of this order both priests and gentlemen were able to save themselves. Everyone recognises the good intentions of the King as regards religion; and they say that he is strongly urged to restore the Catholic faith with a view to settling the affairs of Scotland, and also with a view to the question of England, especially as many books are at present in circulation which insist on the Spanish claims to England, excluding Scotland because he is not a Catholic.
The King of Scotland has written to the King of France announcing that, as he desires to continue the friendly relations of his predecessors with the French Crown, he has ordered the Archbishop of Glasgow to reside here as his Ambassador. He has written in the same sense to the Archbishop, and has sent him his credentials. But rumour here said that the Archbishop would decline the post. Thereupon the King sent for him last week, and declared that it gave him the greatest pleasure to learn that he had been named to this place, and begged him to accept at once, and to continue in the discharge of his duties with that prudence and goodness which he had hitherto displayed. The Archbishop replied that while he would remain eternally grateful to his Majesty for his great kindness and favour, yet, to his chagrin, he was unable to obey his Majesty for two reasons, first, because he had filled the office for twenty-two years continuously, and though he had done his best to discharge his duty to the satisfaction of his Majesty, yet he had never received any of those small signs of gratification which Ambassadors of only two years' standing were accustomed to receive, and so he was obliged to conclude that his services were in no way acceptable to his Most Christian Majesty; and being unable to do more than he had done he deemed it expedient to retire. Secondly, and of far greater importance, as an Archbishop he was unable to serve at the Court of a King who had refused obedience to the Apostolic See. As a private individual he would ever be willing to render any service in his power, officially as Ambassador he could not do so. The King made answer that as to the first objection he was eminently satisfied with the conduct of the Archbishop, and that if any delay had taken place in the public demonstration of this regard it was due to the King's desire to consult his mother, so that they might devise some special mark of favour distinct from that bestowed on all other Ambassadors, as, indeed, had just been determined. For the second, the Archbishop's objection was most just, but the King would himself write to the Pontiff to secure his permission for the Archbishop to accept the post; and he was convinced that his Holiness would be highly pleased, and would approve.
Paris, 22nd May 1587.
May 24. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 518. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
I have recently sent despatches relating the damage done by Drake in the port of Cadiz, the preparations and intentions here, and the indisposition of the King, who has the gout and fever. Now, thanks be to God, his Majesty is better, and is beginning to get up; but he is still greatly disturbed by the mischief Drake is doing. For it seems that though he made a ruse of sailing off to the Azores he simply waited a fitting time and place to make a descent on the coast of Portugal, and to work the havoc which the enclosed will explain. I have just this moment received it, and it is a copy of the report furnished to the King himself, It would appear that as Drake's audacity goes on increasing his Majesty will at last resolve to act in earnest, and to take that vengeance which all Spain desires. Besides the offers from Seville, already reported, the kingdom of Valencia, though only a poor province, has offered to furnish two hundred thousand crowns, half at once and half at the end of a year, towards the maintenance of the Armada, and the other maritime cities and provinces are expected to make other offers. All the same they think that for this year they will not be able to make any other use of the Armada than to secure the safety of the fleets, and to put a stop to the ravages of Drake.
A courier from Turin brings news that Ferrari has been able to effect nothing at Constantinople in the matter of the truce, as the Grand Vizir has insisted in including the Queen of England at the request of her Ambassador resident at the Porte. As Ferrari had no orders to accept this proposal he has to wait instructions from Spain (il Ferrari a Constantinopoli non haveva potuto concluder alcuna cosa intorno alla tregua volendo il Bassà includervi la Regina d' Inghilterra per ufficii fatti dall' Ambasciatore suo residente a quella Porta; ache non havendo ordine il Ferrari di consentire, aspettava commissione de quà). Uluge Pasha has said that if Spain excludes England the Porte will exclude a Christian Prince, meaning either the Emperor or the Republic. The King has sent to summons Marigliani, who, though ill of the quartain fever, has set out for Court. I hope to be able to discover the issue; as far as I understand at present the King will insist on the exclusion of England and the inclusion of all other Christian Princes, and rather than give way he will leave the question of a truce in suspense.
They have sent off four carvels, each by a different route, so that some of them may reach their destination in safety, with orders to stop the fleet at Havana until an escort can be despatched. The Sicilian squadron has returned to the port of Cartagena, as they heard that many English were lying off the Straits of Gibraltar.
Madrid, 24th May 1587.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Enclosed in preceding Despatch. 519. In Lisbon, 23rd May 1587.
Francis Drake, the Englishman, having done whatever he liked, appeared at Setimbra (Cezimbra). A large number of troops came to the rescue, and he, without doing anything, passed on to Cascaes, where, had he not found the galleys, he was resolved to land eighteen companies, and to sack and burn the place. His plan was upset by the sight of the galleys and the troops which Don Alonso de Bazan disembarked for the defence of the place. Drake made several feints, but not trusting the great calm, that same night he weighed anchor and drew out to the open sea. He sailed before a north breeze, which sprang up yesterday after midnight, and they think he is gone to Cape St. Vincent again for shelter.
Yesterday, before daybreak, they came to wake me with letters and news that a fleet of two hundred sail was coming up from the south-east to join Drake. Then we heard that these were one hundred and fifty French ships coming into Setubal for salt. Drake seized two, and sailed with the north wind. It is to be feared that he will land at some place in Algarve, for nothing more has been seen of him here. Here every preparation has been made and at Setimbra; also at Cascaes, where there are many foot soldiers and cavalry.
May 30. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 520. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
Ferrari writes that after having settled the question of the truce in a very few days the Grand Vizir sent to say that the Sultan desired to include the Queen of England as his ally. To which Ferrari replied that he had no orders, and could not depart from the terms which had already been concluded. Ferrari reports that the Grand Vizir and the Beglierbey of Greece are anxious to conduct the affair, but the Secretary, who is the Sultan's conscience, and Uluge Pasha are opposed. He hopes with the help of the Pashas to overcome the difficulties, and if he succeeds he will leave at once, but as he has no orders on this point, and the Turk may stand firm, he begs for instruction. I hear that an answer has been sent by courier despatched to Milan, that as the Grand Vizir will not abide by the terms of the previous truces Ferrari is to take his leave, and to come away without mentioning the Queen of England, for it is possible thai her Ambassador has acted on his own authority in this matter, without being able to show orders from his mistress. If they produce such orders Ferrari is to say that they are forged by the Ambassador, and is to stand as firm as he can without, however, giving any other reason why the King refuses to accept the inclusion of the Queen of England.
Ferrari writes that the Grand Vizir said to him that England (sic. Spain?) was right in refusing to consent to this clause, for that woman captured his kingdoms and sent Drake into the Indies to work him mischief (il Bassà gli ha detto che Inghilterra haverà ragione di non assentir a questa dimanda poiche quella donna li prende i stadi et li manda il Draco fin nelle indie a far tanti danni).
Madrid, 30th May 1587.
[Italian; deciphered.]
May 30. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 521. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
At Lisbon they have been in great alarm lest Drake should enter the port in spite of the fortifications, and should burn the shipping as he did at Cadiz. He very likely would have done so had not the wind failed him, which God caused to fall as he desired not such great evils. They are also alarmed by the dread that Drake may have secret understandings in the town, and that a rising may take place; and so their dread of the foe outside is equalled by their suspicion of the people within. Nor are they yet out of danger, for Drake has not left those waters, and another Drake, his nephew, is buccaneering on the open sea, and has captured three Spanish ships, to the grievous loss of some private merchants.
These continual troubles stir up the Spaniards to attend to the Armada; and these last few days large sums of money have been paid out to soldiers and sailors, and for the purchase of all necessaries. Large quantities of corn have been bought to make biscuits. The universal belief is that the Marquis of Santa Cruz will take the sea as soon as possible, and with as large a fleet, in order to effect a junction with the Biscayan squadron if he is not prevented by Drake, and with the Seville and Sicilian squadrons as well; he will then offer battle, and with such forces he is confident of victory, for he will have ten thousand men on board his ships, and should Drake decline an engagement, as is thought very likely, for he has orders from the Queen not to run the risk of one encounter, but only to do as much damage as he can, then the Spanish will claim the honours, and will also secure the safety of the fleet, of the Spanish and the Portuguese coasts, and the Azores and Canaries as well.
The members of the Cortes, which are now assembled, exhort the King to revenge, and show that all Spain is acutely hurt; to which his Majesty has replied that he will act all in good time, and that they must see to it that they do not fail to support him.
Among the many difficulties in way of resolving on and carrying out this enterprise against England next year, it seems that the most important is the question of finding a ground of accord with France, which is occupying them at this very moment; they are endeavouring to secure his word that if a person can be agreed upon, with whom his Most Christian Majesty will be content as sovereign of England, should the conquest of that island be effected, he will at least remain neutral, and will not help the Queen of England in any way, for which promise the Pope shall go surety. Accordingly, with this object in view, in addition to the other suggestions which I have reported, there are those who propose to his Majesty to name to the chief command the Archduke Ernst, as there is little to be expected from the King of Poland, and to establish that if England is conquered the Archduke shall be master of it, and shall marry a daughter of the Duke of Loraine, nephew of his Most Christian Majesty. On the other hand the Guises propose the Prince of Scotland, affirming, as usual, that he will declare himself a Catholic, which would be pleasing to his Most Christian Majesty, and will marry the said daughter of Loraine. This does not give complete satisfaction to the King of Spain, who urges that France will thus in a certain way gain all the fruits of the victory, for there is no doubt that by this new combination the Prince of Scotland will be entirely dependent on France (oltre gli altri molti contrarii che concorrono nel deliberar et esseguire l' impresa d' Inghilterra per l' anno venturo, pare che principalissimo sia il trovar modo di farla unitamente con Francia, come pur si negotia tuttavia, almeno che, con proponer al Xmo suggetto del quale havesse a satisfari quando seguisse l' acquisto di quell' isola, dia parola con sicurtà del Papa di non sturbar essa impresa et di non favorir quella Regina in modo alcuno, et per ciò, son fatto certo, oltra i pensieri gia scritti da me, che vien da qualcheduno posto in consideration a Sua Mta che sarà ben di proponer per Generale dell' impresa l' arciduca Ernesto, poiche di Re di Pollonia non se ne ha molta speranza, et in caso che si acquisti quel regno che ne resti l' arciduca patrone, con maritarsi in una figliulo del Duca di Lorena, nipote di Sua Mta Xma; all incontro i Ghisi metteno inanti il Principe di Scotia, affermando al solito che si dechiarirà Catholico, et che questo sara caro al Re Xmo, facendosi il matrimonio con la medesima figliuola di Lorena; ma a ciò non inclina compitamente questo Serenissimo Re, ponendoseli inanzi che Francia goderia in certo modo tutto il frutto della vittoria; poiche non è dubbio che con questa nuova congiontione anco quel Principe non dipendesse del tutto da Francia).
All these questions present in their very essence so many difficulties that if a resolution is to be awaited nothing will be done. The chief point, however, is that this King shows a determination to act in earnest next year whatever happens. And as he believes that it is to his interest to draw close to the Guise he has given most secret orders to pay them other five hundred thousand ducats in Besançon on their promise to fan the civil war in France.
Madrid, 30th May 1587.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Enclosed in preceding Despatch. 522. Lisbon, 21st May 1587.
The English fleet has been ten days at Cape St. Vincent. At the end of that period they resolved to land two thousand men, well armed, and fine troops.
They formed in squadron in excellent order, and marched in companies of harquebusiers (con sus mangas de archbuseria) to the great noise of drums, and with seventeen flags flying, half a league towards Lagos.
The garrison of the city was drawn up on the walls, though few in numbers and ill armed.
The Governor of Algarve marched out with, perhaps, two hundred horse.
The squadron approached the city, but did not show a disposition to do anything else than reconnoitre, and immediately returned in the same good order. The Governor followed them up, but neither did he attack.
Next day troops landed from the fleet, and attacked the castle of Sagrez, which is on the cape, assaulting it with ladders, and captured it without any defence being offered by the garrison of one hundred and fifty Portuguese.
The English burned the castle and the convent, and the images, and the monks fled away.
They took the castle of Valliera, putting the garrison to flight, and they did the same with Bolich, which they burned. All the artillery and arms they found they seized.
The following day the fleet sailed away, and came to the river at Lisbon, which they entered on the 20th of May at seven in the morning; they got as far as the Castles of Cascaes and San Juan, when it fell calm, and they could go no further.
Don Alonso de Bazzan, brother of the Marquis of Santa Cruz, put out at once with seven galleys, and having got the enemy within range he opened fire, but he could do no damage for the English pieces had a wider range than his, and were also heavier. This continued till seven in the evening, when the English fleet resolved to put out to the open sea.
The night passed in great confusion in Lisbon.
May 31. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 523. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
News from Lisbon that Drake is patrolling those waters with a view to preventing the junction of the Catholic squadrons, and to damage the coasts of Portugal.
Madrid, 31st May 1587.


  • 1. See page 61.