Venice: February 1588

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: February 1588', Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 8, 1581-1591, (London, 1894), pp. 335-342. British History Online [accessed 16 June 2024].

. "Venice: February 1588", in Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 8, 1581-1591, (London, 1894) 335-342. British History Online, accessed June 16, 2024,

. "Venice: February 1588", Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 8, 1581-1591, (London, 1894). 335-342. British History Online. Web. 16 June 2024,

February 1588

Feb. 3. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 623. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
Many couriers have arrived during these last days from the Duke of Parma and Don Bernardino de Mendoza with news that Drake has taken the sea with many ships, but, by order of the Queen, he is not to sail far from England. The Duke sends urgent appeals, supported by powerful reasons, that the King should not delay to despatch the Lisbon fleet. Don Alonso de Leyva, who has given the same counsel, has now arrived, and steps are being taken to have the Armada out within this month.
Many gentlemen are leaving for Lisbon to serve as volunteers; among others, the Duke of Francavilla, the Prince of Ascoli, and the Marquis of Vigliena.
Don Pietro de Medici has again offered his services, but the King has replied that he wishes to keep him near his person at Court; so, too, Prospero Colonna and Pirro Malvezzi. The King has named a council of war of twelve to assist the Marquis of Santa Cruz, and two chiefs of staff, Francesco da Toledo and Lazzaro Isla. In short, we hear of nothing but the Armada and war. The President of the Revenue tells me the King spends seven hundred thousand ducats a month.
Madrid, 3rd February 1587 [m.v.].
Feb. 6. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 624. Giovanni Gritti, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
English Commissioners have been sent to the Duke of Parma. Their business can only be the peace between England and Spain from which, in general opinion, his Catholic Majesty is not averse, for it cannot be to his interest to send such large forces out of Spain at so critical a juncture.
Count Olivarez has communicated to me the reply he has received from the Viceroy of Sicily about the galleon Sumachi, and the marcilian Baieta; from it I gather that the Viceroy has orders to favour the subjects of your Serenity upon all occasions, but as regards the galleon, the flag it was flying, the nature of its crew and of its merchandise, rouse a suspicion that the master had taken the false name Sumachi, and that both ship and cargo are English, as, indeed, is the larger part of the crew, the whole, in fact, save eight men.
Rome, 6th February 1587 [m.v.].
Feb. 6. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 625. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The Count Fuentes has arrived at Lisbon, and is hurrying on the Armada. On board, besides its own artillery, they have embarked twelve heavy siege guns and forty-eight smaller ones, with a double supply of gun carriages and wheels for the field batteries, and six hundred mules. In addition there is a large quantity of iron and wood for the construction of a fort. Orders have been issued to the Princes and great lords of Spain, who live on the borders of Portugal, to hold in readiness as many troops as possible, for the King intends to employ them in garrisoning Portugal when the Armada has sailed. Don Alonso de Leyva is going, in a day or two, to Lisbon. He has inspired the King with great hopes that the Queen of England will be unable, either by land or by sea, to offer any resistance to the powerful forces of his Catholic Majesty (che ha poslo in questo Serenissimo Re gran speranza, che la Regina inglese non potrà ne per mare ne per terra contrastar con le potenti forze di Sua Maestà Catholica); and this opinion Don Alonzo has expressed to me likewise.
But should that rumour, which has recently been circulating, prove true, and the King of Scotland be declared heir to the Crown of England, and should the French pass over into that kingdom, many hold that the aspect of affairs will be changed, or that the difficulties of the enterprise will be greatly increased. Meantime Drake, cruising in the English Channel, prevents the passage of any ships with provisions or merchandise from Germany to Portugal, causing a serious injury to the city of Lisbon, which is now exposed to an excessive dearth of everything.
The Portuguese spy, who was recently arrested, has revealed the names of other supporters of Don Antonio who were in secret communications with him. This has resulted in the arrest of more gentlemen, among others of Don Emanuel de Casta, as well as of another who supplied funds.
Madrid, 6th February 1587 [m.v.].
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Feb. 12. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 626. Giovanni Mocenigo Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Earl of Morton, who has been for long in Spain, has arrived here. The English Ambassador assures me that the Earl has had frequent conferences with Don Bernardino di Mendoza, both of them studying how to injure the Queen of England; and adds that his mistress dreads danger from Scotland only.
Proceeding to discuss the question of peace with Spain he said that he could not conceive that his mistress desired such a peace on terms of abandoning all she holds on this side of the water, which would be of the greatest service to her enemies.
They say in Flanders that the Duke has prepared lodging for the English Commissioners, but the Ambassador showed me letters from the Queen proving that she wished the conference to take place at Canterbury, and had sent to tell the Duke of her wish.
Paris, 12th February 1588.
Feb. 13. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 627. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The King has the gout again, and is very languid and weak; but whatreally troubles him more is the dissatisfaction which, as he told a person to whom he confides many of his secrets, oppresses him; for he doubts that the disobedience of some of his Ministers, and the difficulties raised by them to prevent the Armada from sailing last autumn as he fully intended, will have deprived him of a favourable opportunity, and increased in no small degree the obstacles to the accomplishment of his designs, and he is now no longer sure if he can carry them out so easily (dubitando, come so sicuramente che ha detto a persona con chi confida molti suoi secreti, che la inobedientia de alcuni suoi ministri, et gli impedimenti posti da loro, perche non s' uscisse armata quest' autunno passato, come era sua rissoluta intentione, le habbino levato gran comodità, et accresciute non poco gli impedimenti per effetuare il suo pensiero, onde non sa se lo potrà hora cosi facilmente esseguire). From this we conclude that now that the Duke of Parma's attempt to become possessed of Flushing has been discovered, which is a cause of great annoyance here, the Queen will be warned to be on the look out for other similar attempts, and will provide for the safety of her kingdom by changing her officers and garrisons, thereby rendering every enterprise more difficult. Add to this that just at the critical moment of greatest need, the Marquis of Santa Cruz is in bed with spotted fever, and in great danger of his life or of a long illness; though after purging and bleeding him thrice in eleven days the doctors now have some hope of saving him. Assuredly, if the Armada at this juncture is deprived of so valorous and fortunate a captain, it will be to the King's great disservice. Besides all this, owing to the heavy and continual expenses, the Ministers are beginning to find themselves short of money (da che si fa giudicio, che come sono state scoperte le pratiche che teneva il Duca di Parma per haver la terra di Flesselinghen in Zelanda - il che qui per ogni rispetto sarà sentito con molto dispiacere, che cosi la Regina da questo esempio fatta novamente accorta d' altri trattati, habbia a più modi a procedere alla sicurezza del suo Regno, cambiando anche Capitani, et altre guardie, et rendendo sempre piu difficile ogni impresa; si aggionge a questo che nella più urgente necessità et nel maggior bisogno, il Marchese Santa Croce si attrova nel letto con le pettecchie, non senza gran pericolo della vita o di lunga infirmità, tuttoche dopo haverlo purgato et essergli cavato sangue tre volte in XI. giorni fossero entrati li medici in qualche speranza di salute, et per certo che se si ritrovasse quest' armata in occasione di tanta importantia senza cosi valoroso et fortunato Capitano sarebbe con nolto diservitio di questo Serenissimo Re oltre tutte queste cose poi per le gran spese fatte et che si vano facendo ogni giorno. incomminciano già questi a trovarsi molto esausti de denari).
All the same, in the midst of so many difficulties his Majesty shows no signs of changing his first resolution; indeed, one of his most intimate courtiers had occasion to say that he would never have expected to see such prudence, judgment, knowledge, and intelligence as his Majesty displays in this business. He urges forward the preparations so that the Armada may take the sea as soon as possible, for he believes that by rapid action it is still possible to remedy the mischief caused by previous delays, or, perhaps, he hopes that the sailing of the fleet will greatly facilitate the conclusion of an honourable treaty.
His Majesty is collecting money from every quarter for Italy and Flanders with intention to pay his debts out of the subsidies which he means to ask from the Bishops in this cause of God and the State, as he calls it. He has begun with the Cardinal of Toledo, from whom he has asked one hundred thousand crowns. He has given orders to augment the Lisbon squadron. News comes from Lisbon that Fuentes is using all diligence, and had attacked the commissariat and the artillery because they were not prompt in their preparations. The munitions being on board they have begun to take in water, although it is thought that the Armada cannot sail before the middle of next month.
Don Alonzo de Leyva has refused the post of Adjutant-General to which Don Francesco di Bobadilla has been appointed.
The King's oldest and most intimate servant, Santoias, is dead, which has greatly grieved his Majesty. Count Marigliani, also, is at the point of death; Count Trivulzio and Prospero Colonna are both ill.
Evil persons having spread a rumour that the stigmata of the Holy Nun are spurious, the General of her order has made anew examination with many tests, and sent the result to his Majesty. They find that beyond all doubt the stigmata are genuine and miraculous. Fra Liugi di Granada has written a book describing her divine operations.
Madrid, 13th February 1587 [m.v.].
Postscript.—When I had written the above a courier arrived from Lisbon with news of the death of the Marquis of Santa Cruz, which will upset the plans for the sailing of the Armada. They say that the King will give the post of commander-in-chief to the Duke of Medina Sidonia, a prince of many parts, in spite of his want of experience at sea (scritte queste, è venuto corriero di Lisbona con la morte del Marchese Santa Croce; che sarà di gran disturbo all' espeditione dell' Armata. Dicesi che sua Maestà darà quel carico di Generate al Duca di Medina Sidonia, Principe di varie qualità, se ben non ha navicató).
Poor Count Marigliani, to the grief of all the Court, has ceased to live. His Majesty has lost a good and useful Minister, and your Serenity a devoted servant.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Feb. 19. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 628. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
When the King heard of the death of the Marquis of Santa Cruz he said that God had shown him a favour by removing the Marquis now rather than when the Armada was out at sea. Three days later his Majesty sent a courier to the Duke of Medina Sidonia at San Lucar, to tell him that he had received the office of commander-in-chief on the sea, and of the Lisbon fleet; the King declared his full confidence in the Duke's loyalty and valour, and only desired that he should act harmoniously with the Duke of Parma. The Duke's answer is expected to be in conformity to the King's will.
This nobleman is the first Grandee of Spain; he has excellent qualities, and is generally beloved. He is not only prudent and brave, but of a nature of extreme goodness and benignity. He will be followed by many nobles, and by all Andalusia. Only one might desire in him a wider experience of the sea, but all other possible appointments presented greater difficulties.
The King has conferred on Fuentes the Marquis's other post of General of the kingdom of Portugal, and on Don Alonzo de Leyva the post of Fuentes, general of the light horse of Milan; but this is not to prevent him from sailing with the fleet. Don Alonzo de Basan, brother of Santa Cruz, has been named captain of the twelve Portuguese galleys, although at present there are not more than eight.
It is thought that the Armada will be delayed longer than they say, especially now with this change of officers. It seems that the King will try to find out what the Duke of Parma can effect by way of an accord, which it appears that the English representatives have orders to conclude on any terms; and if that were true all might still be arranged by the free surrender of Holland and Zealand.
The King has written to the Bishops and Prelates of Spain to offer prayers for the success of the Armada.
The King is entirely given up to this affair. They say here that two women are giving him a great deal of trouble; one is his daughter, whom he dearly loves, but sees grave difficulties in the way of getting her married; the other, whom he mortally hates, is the Queen of England, from whom he receives daily injuries inflicted with base ingratitude, for he freed her from prison when he was in England.
There is much sickness, and many are dying, especially among the nobles.
Madrid, 19th February 1587 [m.v.].
Enclosed in preceding Despatch. 629. I did not write to your Excellency by the express which conveyed the news of the death of the Marquis, because I was holding him in my arms up to the moment when he breathed his last. I will only pay now that I frequently heard him sigh and complain that the attacks made upon him at Court were sending him to his grave. It is indeed a death to be deeply lamented for many reasons, and perhaps as time goes on the loss will be seen to be even greater than it looks.
After the Marquis's death little has been done to the Armada, partly because of that, partly owing to the continual rain.
Lisbon, 13th February 1588.
(Signature obliterated.)
Feb. 20. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 630. Giovanni Gritti, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
News from Flanders that the English Commissioners have arrived, and that there is great hope of peace.
Rome, 20th February 1587 [m.v.].
Feb. 23. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 631. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The King having given orders to his Commissioners to lay an embargo on all shipping with a view to augmenting the Armada, they have considered themselves entitled to seize Venetian ships. The masters of the “Regazzona” and the “Labia” were informed that the King required those vessels. The Commissioners reported that these ships were the finest, the best armed and manned of all that lay in Lisbon, and that on no account should his Majesty let them go. I made representations to the King, to Don Juan d'Idiaquez, to Don Christoforo de Mora.
Madrid, 23rd February 1587 [m.v.].
Feb. 23. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 632. Giovanni Moro, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
Ibrahim Pasha desired that the Ambassadors of France, England, Venice, and Ragusa should each present him with an awning for the poop of his galley, and threatened, if they refused, to induce the Sultan to issue an order compelling them to do so.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 23rd February 1587 [m.v.].
[Italian; deciphered.]
Feb. 26. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 633. Giovanni Mocenigo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Spanish troops which were on the borders of France have retired for want of provisions. The Duke of Parma is inactive, and they say he earnestly desires to effect a peace with the Queen of England. But it is not likely that this will be accomplished, both on account of the Queen's hatred of Spain and because Holland and Zealand will not listen to it on any terms. If peace were made then it is likely that the Spanish would make fresh and vigorous representations on the subject of Cambray. The Secretary to the French Ambassador in England has been sent back there with all speed. His mission is unknown, but they conjecture that it is connected with the question of peace between England and Spain.
Paris, 26th February 1588.
Feb. 29. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 634. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The King has at last caused me to be informed that notwithstanding the great need for big ships of the build of those two Venetians which are lying at Lisbon, he has ordered his Commissioners, if they think it will not be of too grave a disservice to himself, to release the ships at once, and that under no circumstances are the “Ruzzina” and “Moresina,” which are expected in Lisbon, to be detained. The other two, if not released, are to be especially favoured and discharged before any others.
Don Juan d'Idiaquez has told me that the King is very sorry that he cannot release the ships entirely, but the continued information that the Queen of England is preparing a most powerful fleet, compels the King to take all possible measures to be a match for her. And as for the sugar which is on board the “Regazzona” and the “Labia” he promises the use of hulks on which to transfer it. The Commissioners have represented that the Venetian ships are so powerful that they can give battle to ten or twelve Englishmen, and so I fear the King will not let them go.
The Duke of Medina Sidonia has written to say that he thanks the King for his favours, and will obey his orders. He begs leave to come to Court. Answer was sent that he should not think of it, but if he wished to give full satisfaction he would go straight to Lisbon, where the necessary orders would await him. This because the Armada is suffering for want of a general, and because sickness has again broken out, especially among the sailors, of whom many die daily of spotted fever. Thirty English ships are off Cape S. Vincent, and are making themselves felt in the mischief they are doing.
Madrid, 29th February 1587 [m.v.].