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Venice: April 1588

Pages 347-351

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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April 1588

April 2. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 647. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
News from Sicily confirming that sent by Prince Doria that the Turkish fleet will take the sea. But as rumour varies they do not give implicit credence to any news save that which I furnish by command of your Serenity.
The Viceroy of Sicily endeavours to convince the Council that the ship Sumachi is English, and carries an English cargo and crew; he insists upon leave to divide the prize. The King has applied to the various orders for a large number of preaching friars to sail with the Armada. He has also appointed as lieutenant to the Duke of Medina Sidonia, Don Martin de Recalde, who is considered a good soldier and sailor. The King has sent orders that the fleet is to be ready to sail on the 18th, Palm Sunday. But those who are best informed think that it cannot sail till after Easter, as they are still waiting news of the negotiations with those new English agents. Hopes in that quarter are a little higher as the Queen has dismissed all the German shipping she had retained to the number of forty vessels. Some of these with cargoes of grain and cordage have reached Lisbon, and bring news that an accord will likely be concluded as the Queen really desires it, and so do the people of Holland and Zealand. We shall soon know for certain.
Madrid, 2nd April 1588.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
April 8. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 648. Giovanni Mocenigo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The delay of the Spaniards, the sickness in their fleet, the death of Santa Cruz, have all encouraged the English and given them the opportunity to make many necessary preparations for the defence of their country which rapidity on the part of Spain might have hindered.
The representatives of Holland have left England quite content and consoled by the promise of the Queen that she will consent to no articles of peace, by which they shall be obliged to change their religion, or to abandon their arms or their offices of State.
News from Flanders shows that the Commissioners there have not met yet, on account of the English; who continue to ask for delays. They are carefully watching the movements of the Spanish, and by them the Queen will shape her policy, as she is accustomed to do, being guided in all things by considerations of State.
The Queen has one hundred and twenty ships afloat, besides the tenders. Of these twenty-five are her own ships, armed and found to perfection. The whole is under the command of the admiral, assisted by Francis Drake. The captains of each ship are princes and great nobles of the kingdom, who strive with one another for the posts.
This fleet is cruising in the English Channel, and making reaches to the shores of Scotland on account of that suspicion which is ever a trusty ally in all great movements. For though the Queen, for many reasons, can now rest confident in the King of Scotland, still she always bears in her breast the conviction that the first designs of Spain had their origin and foundation in the hope which they indulged that the King would open to them the road into her kingdom (per quel sospetto che sempre fidato compagno in tutti i maneggi delle cose grandi; perch se bene la Regina per molte cause si pub assicurar di quel Re, tiene per appresso il core che i primi disegni de Spagnoli hanno havuto origine et fondamento per la speranza che havevano che il Re di Scotia dovesse aprirli la strada net suo regno).
The intention of the English is, in the event of the accord in Flanders falling through, as is now fully expected, to attack the Spanish Armada should it attempt the kingdom of England. But although one hears of great preparations, yet it is generally held that the King of Spain will not undertake so vast an enterprise; and that, although most justly angered, he will not, from desire of vengeance, entrust to the issue of a doubtful battle, the quiet and freedom of so many of his states and kingdoms. For he very well knows how much consideration ought to be paid to such a fleet as the English fleet, both on account of its size, and also because the English are men of another mettle from the Spaniards, and enjoy the reputation of being, above all the Western nations, expert and active in all naval operations, and great sea dogs (viene communemente creduto che il Re di Spagna non intraprender cosi grande impresa, et che se bene quella Maest guistamente provocato, giudicasi che non vorr per desiderio di vendetta metter a rischio d' una battaglia dubbia et incerta la quieta et libert de molti suoi stati et Regni; sapendosi bene quanto si dovesse stimar un' armata simile per il numero de vasselli et per essere gl' Inglesi huomini d' altra prestantia che li Spagnoli tenendo loro il nome sopra tutti gli altri di Ponente d' essere assueti et industriosi a tutti i fatti di marina et sopra il mare grandissimi guerrieri).
I am told that the English fleet will cruise in these waters, and will wait to see what the Spaniards do; seizing any favourable opportunity to give battle; and it is most likely that, fighting as they are for their country, their faith, their children, they will carry themselves with all their wonted pertinacity, as indeed they declare that they intend to do. In that case the issue will be as it may seem good to God. The survivors, however, will be so scanty that there is no prospect of the enemy being able to approach the English coast, which is fully prepared for any eventuality. While, if the English are successful, there is no doubt but that the Queen will acquire such fame and glory that the fruits of the victory will continue to appear greater and greater as time goes on (la battaglia, nella quale ben credibile che combattando per la patria, per la fede, per li figlinoli, habbino ad adoperarsi con tanta pertinatia, con la quale sono sempre soliti, et come si lasciano publicamente intendere di fare, che in tal evento succiedi quelloy che a Dio piace, le reliquie per saranno sempre tanto poche che non sono per temere cite li suoi inimici si possino aviccinare alii liti d' Inghilterra, ben proveduta ad ogni evento di mala fortuna; che se fusse a loro propitia non v' alcun dubbio che la Regina si tirerebbe dietro tanta riputatione, et gloria che il frutto delta vittoria appareria con il tempo sempre maggior).
The wife of Cond is under strict guard on account of the many suspicious circumstances which weigh against her, and because of the general indignation which France feels at this introduction of poison. A weapon so detested that no violence would be considered so treacherous or more worthy of punishment.
Paris, 8th April 1588.
[Italian.]
April 12. Copy of Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 649. Vincenzo Gradenigo, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
Utrecht has openly declared its allegiance to England; they fear that Holland will follow suit. The English Commissioners are still at Ostend. The articles of the treaty which they propose are one hundred and thirty-five in number; and this leads the Duke of Parma to think that nothing in earnest is intended; and that the object of the mission is to delay the sailing of the Armada.
Prague, 12th April 1588.
[Italian.]
April 15. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 650. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The Duke of Medina Sidonia is pushing on the preparations for his departure, which his Majesty has ordered for the 25th of this month, Saint Mark's day, if the weather is fine. The whole Armada is to concentrate at Corunna, a port in Galicia, where it will take in many supplies, and make dispositions in accordance with sealed orders, which will be sent from the King. Corunna is considered the most suitable port of departure. Of all this I will give you information as soon as possible.
Madrid, 15th April 1588.
[Italian.]
April 16. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 651. Giovanni Gritti, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
The news that the Turkish fleet will come out this year, are confirmed from all quarters. It is said that the Queen of England has sent five hundred thousand crowns to Constantinople.
Rome, 16th April 1588.
[Italian.]
April 22. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 652. Giovanni Mocenigo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Letters from England announce that the Queen has arrested Don Antonio, who was attempting to reach the coast in order to escape. Owing to a Catholic rising the King of Scotland has asked the Queen of England for help and she has prepared ships and troops for his service.
Paris, 22nd April 1588.
[Italian.]
April 30. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 653. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
Day by day we are expecting news that the Armada has sailed. It has drawn down the river to Belem at the mouth of the port, three miles from Lisbon. The blessing of the standard was performed with great pomp and many salvoes of artillery. On board the Armada and the galleons of Andalusia, which have arrived, are sixteen thousand soldiers, excluding volunteers and seamen; and in short, they say that it is one of the most powerful fleets that one could see, and excellently equipped. All the same the Ministers here confess that it would have been better to have brought from Flanders some of the Duke of Parma's troops, and thus to have rendered a junction with the Duke less dangerous and difficult. (Tuttavia confessano questi Sigri Ministri che era meglio far venir in Portugallo parte di quella gente che si sono mandate in Fiandra, per che la unione col Duca di Parma sarebbe stata meno difficile et nneno pericolosa.)
And in that case there would have been no fear that the Queen would have dreamed of fighting, much less dared to, as they say she does now; for her fleet is in the English Channel, and her agents in Flanders, who are negotiating an accord show how little they have it at heart by the impertinent conditions which they propose.
Here in all the churches they make constant prayers; and the King himself is on his knees two or three hours every day before the Sacrament. Everyone hopes that the greater the difficulties, humanly speaking, the greater will be the favour of God.
Madrid, 30th April 1588.
[Italian.]