Venice: December 1587

Pages 327-331

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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December 1587

Dec. 1. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 606. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
As the courier has not left yet with my letters I wish to add that I have learned from a most secret quarter that his Majesty, after long discussion of many opinions, has accepted the advice of the Marquis of Santa Cruz to delay the sailing of the Armada till spring. Apart from the dangers of the season his Majesty has been induced to this decision by the want of sailors and the need which his large vessels have of being careened, after the damage they received, even though in port, from a violent sirocco gale quite recently. The Marquis has pointed out once more to his Majesty that if the Armada sails now with all this disease among the troops and the crews, there is great danger that after a month at sea, especially in this cold season, it will be either destroyed or seriously damaged.
These considerations have caused the King to change that firm resolve he had. But I know he has written to the Marquis to conceal this resolution as long as he can, on the ground that the negotiations with England may be affected. If the accord is not concluded this winter his Majesty says he wishes to have his bare sword ready to chastise that woman; and he now gives the Marquis orders that without any further instructions he is to hold himself ready to sail whenever he is so commanded. These are points of importance which I did not wish to lose the opportunity of reporting.
Madrid, 1st December 1587.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Dec. 4. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 607. Giovanni Dolfin, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
M. de Gordano, Governor of Calais, writes, under date of November 22nd, that the Duke of Parma had reached Dunquerque, and was preparing all the ships there. These at Dunquerque run from one hundred to one hundred and fifty tons; but he is expecting seventeen more from Antwerp, running to five and six hundred tons apiece, which were to bring a large number of saddles, stirrups, and bridles, as well as lanterns. The Governor said he could not as yet fathom the designs of the Duke. Some said that he wished to attack Ostend, as the winter season is closing in with a promise too of much ice, which is necessary in any operations against that city; others say that the Duke is awaiting the Spanish Armada, and that on the 20th of the past month, at Brussels, Count Mans-feldt was appointed Lieutenant-General for his Catholic Majesty in the absence of the Duke.
Letters from London, dated November 26th, state that the Queen has ordered all the munition and provisions to be embarked at once as she intends to despatch Drake as soon as possible. She is determined that he shall give battle to the Spanish Armada before it reaches English waters (risoluta che esso (Drake) combatti l' armata spagnola avanti che s' avvicini ai mari d' Inghilterra).
Many troops have returned from Holland, the Queen having recalled almost all the garrisons which she had in the provinces.
Paris, 4th December 1587.
Enclosed in Despatch of Dec. 9, Constantinople. 608. Commission to Hassan Pasha.
You are not to annoy the ships of friendly powers, French, Venetian, Ragusan, and English. They are to enjoy free passage of the sea.
Dec. 12. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 609. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain to the Doge and Senate.
In Lisbon the preparations are not going on so vigorously as previously, although they are still fitting out some vessels, and putting the ammunition on board, squadron by squadron. A review of the troops is to be held. They say that between deserters, dead, and sick the number will be far less than they thought, to such an extent that his Majesty will be forced to raise new levies. The flagship of the New Spanish squadron in clearing the river at Saccaben went on the rocks.
The Earl of Morton, seeing how many delays in the way of the succours promised to his King are arising, and being convinced that the Armada cannot sail at present, has taken leave of the Cardinal, and is waiting to embark on board a carvel, they say, for Brittany, whence he will go to Paris before returning to Scotland. They say here that all the difficulties raised by the Marquis will be quite as serious in spring as now. For the King of Scotland, seeing that he is merely entertained with promises, may change his policy for fear of exposing himself and his kingdom to greater dangers; and especially now in view of the offers which are being made him by the Queen of England to name him heir to the English throne. Moreover, in this interval the Queen will have opportunity to fortify her coasts and to call in aid from other Princes. But the worst is that his Majesty must look to his own defences, for all the English corsairs, to the number of, perhaps, forty sail, are off Cape St. Vincent with the design of harrying Spanish shipping. They have captured various small vessels on their way from Seville to Cadiz, among them a very rich prize which had come from the Brazils; and if they do not send out some part of the Spanish fleet the English will grow so bold that they will attempt something of moment, while, even if it does go out, the Spanish ships are quite unable to pursue the English, whose ships are swifter, and themselves far better seamen. The Portuguese, at their wit's end, are going to send an Ambassador to the King to lay their condition before him, and to implore him to apply a remedy to so many ills by deigning to go in person to console those unhappy people who are groaning under this heavy calamity. But for many reasons, and chiefly that he may not be an eye witness of such ruin, it is thought that the King will not go to Portugal, and perhaps they will not even allow the Ambassador to come here.
The King is thinking of building three or four forts in Florida, and he has the plans in his rooms. Battista Antonelli is the engineer.
Madrid, 12th December 1587.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Dec. 15. Original Despatch, Venetian, Archives. 610. Giovanni Dolfin, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Yesterday, in obedience to your Serenity's orders, I found myself with the English Ambassador, who is the same as made proposals to me in 1583 to treaty in the Queen's name about the subject of customs dues. I told him that I had informed your Serenity of the Queen's excellent disposition, and of her desire to open relations once more between the subjects of both powers on terms of equality. The Queen, he replied, believed that the matter could be brought to a conclusion if it were not for the action of interested parties who upset all negotiations; and to show her earnestness she would commit the whole affair to us two. I answered that your Serenity-had considered this proposal, and never had any other intention than to preserve the equality which was so desirable for both parties; and he said that the Queen promised that Venetians trading in England should, both in respect of dues and of freedom of contract, be in all ways equal to the English. I informed him that on our side the English should also enjoy the same equality in the city of Venice and in the dominions of the Serene Republic from the date to be determined.
The English Ambassador replied that not only was his memory quite fresh upon the subject, but that he was much consoled by the friendly resolution of your Serenity. That he would send a courier to the Queen to inform her fully, being firmly convinced that, though it was some time since her Majesty had made her proposals, she would still be of the same mind, and would not fail to show her good will towards the Republic, and when the answer arrived he would come in person to communicate it to me.
I, wishing to reply to his remark about the delay, took that upon myself as ordered by you, and I added that I was also convinced that the action of interested parties was of great hurt to the negotiation.
When my successor arrives I will consign all letters and papers relating to this affair, and will inform him of the present position of the case so that the negotiations may go forward even though I am no longer there.
Paris, 15th December 1587.
Dec. 17. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 611. Giovanni Dolfin, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
M. de L'Aubespine writes from England that the King of Scotland, in great force, had entered England, and was burning the country. I have been to the Ambassadors of Scotland and England to discover the truth. The Scotch Ambassador, though he served the Queen of Scotland for twenty-two years, and desires nothing more than to see her avenged, told me that it is true that L'Aubespine writes thus, but that he himself is in possession of no such news; the English Ambassador asserts positively that the news is false. The English troops sent north by the Queen are destined to strengthen the garrison of Berwick, a town on the borders, where the Queen usually kept two hundred men, but now has two thousand. He added, that though he feared that the King of Scotland was corrupted by Spanish gold as were some of his Ministers, yet up to the 20th of November he had made no move.
As news has come from Portugal to England that the Spanish Armada will delay its departure, Drake also will put off his. The Queen is advised not to send her forces far from home, but to keep them united round the island.
The Duke of Parma has returned to Antwerp.
Paris, 17th December 1587.
Dec. 19. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 612. Giovanni Gritti, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
The Duke of Parma is at Dunquerque, where he awaits the arrival of the Marquis of Santa Cruz, and has prepared transports to cross the channel. His plan is, while Drake is occupied with the Marquis, to go to Scotland, and there land.
From Scotland he will attack the Queen of England.
Of two plans of defence, either to oppose a landing or to fight the Armada at sea, the Queen has chosen the second, as she relies on the help of Denmark to give her the superiority. The King of Spain is raising money in Genoa from Spinola, Catanei, and Grimaldi.
Rome, 19th December 1587.
Dec. 21. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 613. Giovanni Dolfin, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Scotch Ambassador told me yesterday, when in the procession, that not only was the King of Scotland not in the field against the Queen of England, but that he had set out to chastise four hundred bandits who were harrying the English border.
Paris, 21st December 1587.
Dec. 23 Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 614. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
News from Lisbon that several spies of the Queen of England have been seized, and that the Cardinal and the Marquis have learned many things from them. A Portuguese spy was seized as he was embarking for France; on him were found letters from many people in Portugal to Don Antonio, and a letter of credit for six thousand ducats. In fact, every day reveals great despair and disaffection in the minds of the Portuguese. The cause is either the natural changeableness of the people's temper and their dislike of a foreign sovereign, or else the continual injuries which they suffer from the English corsairs, who have seized so many ships and destroyed, one might almost say, Portuguese commerce. But if the Portuguese complaints are public property the Spanish, on their side, do not fail to show the liveliest indignation, and especially against the Marquis of Santa Cruz, accusing him of being the cause why the Armada has not put out to sea, and thereby producing all the mischief. This is a great grief to all good subjects. But, on the other hand, they are hoping for good news from the Duke of Parma, who has taken the field with his troops.
Madrid, 23rd December 1587.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]