BHO

Venice: March 1588

Pages 342-347

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.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. All rights reserved.

Citation:

March 1588

March 5. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 635. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The Duke of Medina Sidonia left Seville for Lisbon on the first of this month, but it is thought that the Armada will not sail till April; for, owing to disease on board, many sailors have died, and a great storm of the last few days has caused the loss of many anchors and the destruction of many cables, and that implies refitting; moreover, they have little confidence in sending the fleet out in the month of March, which is usually so windy; and, finally, they would be glad to increase the numbers of the fleet. An express has arrived from Flanders with the news that hopes of an agreement with England are dying out; while the Queen, who is convinced that time is of the highest importance to her, is trying to keep negotiations alive, but without any intention of coming to a conclusion. She continues to increase her fleet, and also does all she can to soothe the King of Scotland. She makes as much mischief as possible in France with the German heretics, and in Constantinople where she is endeavouring to secure the despatch of a fleet at her own charges. They say now, though it is not credited, that Don Antonio is gone to Constantinople, being escorted as far as Gibraltar by thirty English ships.
Madrid, 5th March 1588.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
March 6. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 636. Giovanni Gritti, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
His Holiness told me he had two posts from Spain. That of the 10th announced that the Marquis of Santa Cruz was very ill; that of the 14th, that he was dead. The cause of death was disgust at two orders issued by the King; first, that Don Pedro de Fuentes of the house of Toledo was to sail with the Marquis; the other, that the Marquis was to obey the Duke of Parma.
Rome, 6th March 1588.
[Italian.]
March 11. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 637. Giovanni Mocenigo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The house of Guise is pledged to the King of Spain; it will be difficult for them to take any steps to secure peace in France, for that would cause the Spaniards to believe that this was opening the road to help the English. Indeed, at this juncture above all others, every accommodation which would lead to a suspension of arms will be rejected.
Paris, 11th March 1588.
[Italian.]
March 11. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 638. Giovanni Mocenigo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Queen of England, who would now be glad to see what she formerly could not endure, the kingdom of France not only at peace but restored to its pristine grandeur, and especially on account of the threatened attack from Spain, sent her Ambassador some days ago to the King to offer her mediation and assistance in inducing Navarre to come to terms. The King thanked the Ambassador, and replied that he would be truly grateful if the Queen would use her influence to induce Navarre to become a Catholic, for the peace of the kingdom and its power too, depended upon this; that he was well aware how spirited was Navarre's temper, and how sound his judgment; but it was sometimes advisable to listen to a good and faithful councillor.
The Ambassador replied that he would communicate his Majesty's remarks to England; but he did not see how the Queen, who was of the same religion as Navarre, could advise him to abandon a faith which she, above all others, professed. The Queen would, without descending to particulars, give Navarre advice to guide his conduct by sound rules of State appealing to his interest, without raising the question of creed. The Ambassador added, Were I at the Court of Navarre I would recommend this course; but were I your Majesty's servant I would not advise you to attempt or to desire to make Navarre become a Catholic; for in course of time he would cause the same difficulty as the League has caused. And this is the opinion of many statesmen here that the two parties should be held in balance against one another, and that thus the King, being neutral, can more easily rule.
Paris, 11th March 1588.
[Italian.]
March 11. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 639. Giovanni Mocenigo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Letters of the 19th February, from England, announce the arrival of five Commissioners at Dover. They are merely waiting for good weather to cross over to Flanders to the Duke of Parma. Among them are the Earl of Derby and Lord Cobham, Governor of the Cinque Ports. On the side of Parma will be the Count d'Aremberg, and M. de Champigny, brother of the Cardinal de Granvelie. The congress will take place at Bourbourg, three leagues from Calais.
The same letters announce the arrival in London of an Ambassador from Denmark, commissioned to inform the Queen that the King is anxious to marry one of his daughters to the King of Scotland, and to beg the Queen to arrange the marriage. The Scotch Ambassador has informed the Queen of England that his master wishes to remain on friendly terms with her. The Queen accordingly has sent to Scotland M. Robert (Robert Carey), the same person whom the King refused to admit just after the Queen of Scotland's death.
Two Commissioners from Holland have arrived; they have declared that their country will accept no condition of peace with, Spain unless liberty of conscience be permitted to them, their ancient privileges maintained, all foreign troops removed, and all offices of state entrusted to the hands of the citizens. That otherwise they will prove all extremities, and even death, rather than submit to slavery, which is the worst of all evils; that they will embrace peace only when it brings them freedom and tranquility.
Paris, 11th March 1588.
[Italian.]
March 12 Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 640. Giovanni Gritti, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
His Holiness asked if I had any news from Constantinople; I replied, No. His Holiness then said, We hear that the Turk is preparing a great fleet, and that the Queen of England is urging him to send it out; for this she promises him three hundred thousand ducats. He added, She is a great woman; and were she only Catholic she would be without her match, and we would esteem her highly. She omits nothing in the government of her kingdom; and is now endeavouring, by way of Constantinople, to divert the King of Spain from his enterprise.
The King has prepared his Armada, it is true; but he is so slow in resolution that we have no idea when he will carry his project into effect, nor do we see what he can do, for the Queen has one hundred and forty ships on the sea; she is supported by Denmark and Saxony; she is fortified, and has had every opportunity to fortify. The King, on the contrary has lost twenty thousand men (who went to protect the fleet), partly through want, partly through bad government. We do not know what will be the issue. His Majesty has God's justice and pity on his side; God's justice for he is defending God's cause; God's pity, for it is to be held that God will extend his pity to the many poor Christians who are in the kingdom of England, and will not leave them a prey to that woman (disse, questa una gran Donna, e se fusse Catholica saria una cosa senza exempio; et noi la stimaressimo molto. Essa non manca in alcuna cosa al governo del suo Regno, et hora vuole per divertir il Re di Spagna, dalla sua impresa tentar questa via di Constantinopoli, et fa ogni forzo. Il Re di Spagna ha preparato questa sua Armata ma sta tanto sal consigliar che non sapemo quando esseguir, ne vedemo quel che esso possa fare; perche la Regina ha 140 navi sui mari, ha auiti di Danimarca et di Sassonia grandissimi; si fortificata et ha havuto ogni commodit di farlo. Il Re all' incontro ha perduto m/20 et piu di sui soldati che andarono ad assicurar la flotta; i quali son morti parte da bisogno et parte da mal governo. Non sapemo quello che sar. Il Re ha et la guistitia et la misericordia di Dio da canto suo, la guistitia per il' Re perche difende la causa di Dio et della Religione; ha poi anco la misericordia, perche a tanti poveri xpiani che sono in quel Regno pur da creder che Dio sia per haver misericordia et non sia per lasciarli in preda di questa Donna).
In this strain his Holiness spoke at length to me.
Rome, 12th March 1588.
[Italian.]
March 19. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 641. Giovanni Gritti, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
Yesterday the Pope made a gentle remonstrance to the French Ambassador, saying that he understood that six thousand Frenchmen were going to the assistance of the English; and that D'Aumale was arming to bar their passage through Picardy. The Ambassador denied the news, and complained that it should be either written or believed.
Rome, 19th March 1588.
[Italian.]
March 19. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 642. Giovanni Gritti, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
The Pope said he had news from Spain that the Armada was ready. But the English, too, are ready. She certainly is a great Queen, he said, and were she only a Catholic she would be our dearly beloved. Just look how well she governs; she is only a woman, only mistress of half an island, and yet she makes herself feared by Spain, by France, by the Empire, by all. She enriches her kingdom by Spanish booty, besides depriving Spain of Holland and Zealand (certo che questa una gran Regina; vorressimo solamente che essa fusse cattolica perche saria la nostra diletissima; vedete come si governa bene; donna et non patrona se non di meza Isola et si fa temer da Spagna, da Franza et dall' Imperator et da tutti; et ha arrichito il suo Regno delle prede tolte a Spagnoli, oltra il tenerli l' Olanda et Zelanda). His Holiness said that the Queen's Commissioners had sent some horses to the Duke of Parma as a present, and that no conference had taken place as yet. He went on with pleasure to dwell on the praises and the valour of the Queen.
Rome, 19th March 1588.
[Italian.]
March 22 Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 643. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
His Majesty has had news from Prince Doria that the Turkish fleet will certainly take the sea at the instance of the Queen of England, whose Ambassador at the Porte has recently presented to the Grand Vizir a memorial fall of abuse of the Pope and the King of Spain (che sarebbe uscita al sicuro Armata turchesca ad instantia della Regina d' Inghilterra, l' Ambasciatore della quale residente a quella porta haveva presentato ultimamente al primo Bass un memoriale molto maledico et insolente contra il Papa et questo R.
The Duke of Medina Sidonia has reached Lisbon, and has hurried on the Armada. At a general review the soldiers numbered 12,810; the sailors, 1,730; not counting the volunteers, who are numerous. The large ships were 120, and there were many others, small ones; besides the ships and men in Seville as I wrote. The date of the sailing of the fleet is not settled yet. They are waiting further news from the Duke of Parma on the subject of the accord with England. The expectancy is great, for the latest news was that the Queen's representatives had begun to show a reasonable disposition; but there are no particulars, except that the Queen would leave Holland and Zealand in the hands of their own peoples, and that if the clause about religion can be accommodated the whole accord may quite possibly be effected.
The King wishes to send out the India fleet in August, so that commerce may not suffer through its being withheld.
Captain Juan de Tasseda has been sent to raise men in Biscay, and to attend to the movements in Aragon, which are now quieting down, though the governor reports that Navarre is doing all he can to foment them.
Madrid, 22nd March 1588.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
March 25. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 644. Giovanni Mocenigo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Your Serenity will have heard of the death of the Prince of Cond by poison, people say. There is a diversity of opinion as to the author of the deed; but common opinion thinks it was his wife, to save herself from some misfortune; others say his enemies the Catholics.
After the English Commissioners crossed over to Flanders nothing more has been heard of their negotiations; but it would seem that the people of Holland have made to the Queen the same declaration as they made to her Council, that they cannot trust the faith of Spain, and that they will accept no terms she may conclude with that country.
It seems that the King of Scotland, with a view to the English crown, is determined to remain a Calvinist.
Paris, 25th March 1588.
[Italian.]
March 26. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 645. Giovanni Gritti, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
The Prince of Cond died after three days' illness. As he inherited his father's heresies, and increased the relations with England, his death is an advantage to the Catholic religion. News from Spain that the Armada will not sail till the end of March. The reason being that the success of the enterprise depends on the junction of the forces of Medina Sidonia with those of the Duke of Parma; and every care has to be taken to effect this junction in safety. The Queen, on the other hand, will do all she can to fight each force separately.
Rome, 26th March 1588.
[Italian.]
March 29. Copy of Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 646. Marc' Antonio Tornimbene, Secretary to the Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
The Duke d'Aerschot (Ariscot) has left Court. He will return to Flanders, which he hopes to find at peace; for he has letters from his son in Antwerp saying that he and M. de Champigny are going to meet the Commissioners of the Queen of England, who have arrived with a suite of four hundred horsemen and many servants, richly dressed. They are to settle a place for the conference with the Duke of Parma upon the question of peace between England and Spain. As the King has already agreed to the principal clauses it is hoped that the treaty will be concluded.
Prague, 29th March 1588.
[Italian.]