Venice: June 1588

Pages 361-363

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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June 1588

June 4. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 674. Hieronimo Lippomano. Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The Armada set sail from Lisbon at length on the 29th of last month, a Sunday. The weather was most excellent. They are now waiting the news of its arrival at Corunna, in Galicia, to embark more troops, and then to sail. I have from time to time reported the great preparations which have been made; but we here must expect news of its progress from other quarters now, unless the peace is effected in Flanders.
During these last few days an agent of the King of Scotland has been here in secret. He has had an interview with the King at the Escurial where he now is; and has received letters to take to his master. He left at once. As yet it has been impossible to discover the special object of his mission.
Madrid, 4th June 1588.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
June 17. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 675. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
There is news from Lisbon that on the 10th of this month the Armada was off Cape Finisterre. The commander intended to take news and to pick up some more ships and men at Corunna, and then to push forward. At Lisbon they are getting ready twenty great ships, and a large supply of men and munitions, which are to be sent after the Armada. Some fifty other ships have been requisitioned in various parts of Spain for this same purpose. As yet nothing has been said to the masters of the “Ruzzina” and the “Tizzona,” which have begun to lade.
The misfortunes of the poor King of France, though truly pitiable, are not displeasing here; indeed, there is no doubt but that the action of the Duke of Guise is taken in concert with the Ministers of the King of Spain, and supported by them. Recently more money has been sent to the Guise, and as the King of France discovered this, he has complained to the Pope that the policy of Spain will drive him some day to take an unexpected line of action. He therefore begs his Holiness to take some steps to counteract such a danger. Here, however, they will excuse their conduct on the ground that it is inspired by a dread lest the Huguenots should get the upper hand of the Catholics; and that these supports of the Guise really redound to the benefit of religion and to the augmentation of the King of France; and so all had better be passed over in silence.
Madrid, 17th June 1588.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
June 25. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 676. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
I have received from England the affidavits proving the purchase of the ship “Sumachi” by Venetians in the year 1581. I hope soon to have other papers to prove that the cargo, or at least a part of it, is not English.
Madrid, 25th June 1588.
June 25. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 677. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
By courier express from Galicia the King has news that on the 13th of this month the Armada was one hundred leagues off Cape Finisterre, waiting for the four light galleys from Corunna, which the commander-in-chief had sent in for recruits and provisions. He resolved not to put into port with the whole fleet, as he was doubtful if he would be able to sail again when he desired to do so. These four light galleys, having sighted two sail in the offing towards Bayona, followed them up, and found that they were two English ships sent out to cruise and to pick up information. After a brief struggle they were taken. The men declare that four other English ships are out for the same purpose. On board the captured Englishmen were found several Spaniards acting as pilots. They will be put to death. The English were at once put to the oar. This news is most welcome here; it is taken as a good omen for the enterprise on which they are engaged.
A solemn procession having been appointed for St. John's Day, the 24th, his Majesty on receipt of the news ordered the procession to take place on the 22nd, believing it likely that the Armada would be then in sight of England. The procession took place with a great concourse of people. A very holy image, the Madonna of Tocchia, being borne to the cathedral, where it will remain nine days, so that the people may the more easily attend the public prayers.
The King shows his piety and his prudence top. He has sent orders to all the Grandees to hold themselves in readiness with all their following, and all from fear that the Turkish fleet may make a descent on some part of Spain. All the more so as it is reported that Hassan Pasha is making great preparations in Tunis, and says he will restore to the throne of Fez the son of Muley Maluc, the King who fell in the engagement with Don Sebastian.
Don Antonio is in England. Spies from Turkey and from England are expected in Portugal, and the King has ordered extraordinary precautions in the observation and examination of all foreigners. His Majesty is in straits for money. Seville has lent him one million in gold ; the sum is to be repaid in four years, and is secured upon the Alcavalla, which, as your Excellencies know, is a tax of four per cent. and upwards upon sale and purchase. The recruiting officers are raising troops, but with great difficulty. Everyone is amazed to see how they manage to raise so many men in Spain. Between Flanders, the Armada, Italy, Africa, and the Indies there must be eighty thousand men.
Madrid, 25th June 1588.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]