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Venice: October 1588

Pages 396-409

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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October 1588

Oct. 1. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 747. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The Armada begins to reach the coast of Spain; it is in a very bad plight, to say the truth, the result of the enemy's attacks and the long voyage. They calculate that from the time when they left Lisbon they have sailed five thousand miles. The three Venetians are all safe. I have no other news except that the Commander-in-Chief complains loudly of some captains, and. has hung one and is trying others for refusing to fight and deserting.
The King has to-day proposed to the Cortes to levy a tax of one real per sack of corn ground. Though Spain is in great straits, the King will not be able to abandon the enterprise against England. A loan of a million of gold has been raised to-day, and the Viceroy of Italy and the Governor of Milan are instructed to ask for a large donation. But as no one is paid, as the King gives no audience and does not despatch business the cry of his people goes up to heaven; and Father Marian Azzaro, who speaks very frankly, said to the King the other day, that although his prayers and processions were very good things yet it was certain that God gave ear to other voices before his; when the King asked what voices Father Marian replied, those of the poor oppressed who stay about the Court in pain, without being paid and without having their business attended to.
At this moment a courier has arrived with news that the Duke of Medina Sidonia, who is in ill-health, reached Santander in Biscay, on the 20th of last month; he has twenty-four ships all in a bad way; and especially on board of one all have died of famine and misery. Don Alonzo de Leyva has been left behind in a storm. The King has ordered all the ships to Corunna, for repairs. They say that there are serious differences between the Duke of Medina Sidonia and the Duke of Parma, each one trying to throw the blame on the other.
Madrid, the 1st of October 1588.
[Italian.]
Oct. 4. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 748. Vincenzo Gradenigo, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
The Duke of Parma, finding that his troops are not needed now for the attack on England, has divided his forces into three parts; one is lying under Ostend, another is in Brabant, and the third, under the Count Mansfeldt, is marching towards Germany.
Prague, 4th October 1588.
[Italian.]
Oct. 5. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 749. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
I wrote to your Serenity announcing the arrival first of Captain Oquendo with ten ships, at San Sebastian then of the Duke of Medina Sidonia with twenty-four at Santander in Galicia. I am now informed that ten more ships have reached the coast; nothing has been heard as yet of Don Alonzo de Leyva, of Don Martin de Recalde, and other commanders, with upwards of fifty vessels which became separated from the rest by a great storm. They think that they may have gone to the Azores, which would be the least disastrous thing that could happen, for it is known that they were very much damaged and without food.
Comments are very various, and the whole expedition is considered very difficult. For, supposing that they refit the Armada and send it off again to join the forces in Flanders, then it will run precisely the same dangers as it has met this year. If they determine to make the muster of the whole armament in Spain, then there is the difficulty of transporting the Flanders veterans to Spain. Then but small account can be made of the survivors of the Armada, for almost all on their return fall ill, many die and many, in spite of precautions, succeed in deserting, and only to-day news has arrived that Captain Oquendo, a brave soldier and brother of the Marquis de Vigliena, along with other commanders and persons of quality, died at once on reaching land. In these misfortunes and seeing that the Duke of Medina Sidonia has asked permission to retire to his own house, his Majesty has written to the Duke of Parma requesting him to state his opinion on the situation. At the same time, if the Duke thinks it advisable, he is to leave Count Hansfeldt as his lieutenant in Flanders, and to come to Spain secretly about Christmas time, either by land or by sea, coasting along the shores of France. The King will then place him in command of the navy, and at the head of the whole expedition with power to manage it as he shall think best. His Majesty thinks of going to Lisbon in person to animate the preparations and to arrive at various decisions as regards the war. The King shows a determination in spite of all obstacles and opposition to overcome every difficulty, and, with a view to achieving his purpose, for he notes a great reluctance in his subjects to accept the grist tax, and money is absolutely necessary, and that promptly, he has resolved to apply to the eight kingdoms for a donation of six millions in gold to be paid in two years, and pay for a certain quantity of troops; and the Cortes are sitting at this moment on the question at the Escurial, where they are caressed and honoured by his Majesty beyond his wont. It is expected that they will satisfy his Majesty if not in full yet iu large part. The King is annoyed by the attacks which the Spanish are making on the Duke of Parma, and has let it be understood that he is perfectly satisfied with the Duke's conduct; the Ministers say the same, and as a proof Don Giorgio Manrique has been deprived of his post because of the annoyance which he caused to the Duke when sent on shore by Medina Sidonia. Diego Flores de Valdez will be sent to the Azores to meet the Peruvian fleet which is expected to arrive in a month, with great riches. They fear that Drake may sail to plunder it.
Madrid, 5th October 1588.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
Oct. 7. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 750. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The Duke of Medina Sidonia has once more begged leave to go to his own home, to recover his health. The King has replied that the Duke should come to Court when he feels himself well enough. The Duke of Parma has sent the Knight of Malta, known as Mores, he who usually transacts business with the Guise, to make his excuses for not having been able to effect a junction with the Armada, and to answer the many attacks which are made on him, especially by the Spanish.
One ship of the Peruvian fleet has reached Lisbon. The rest are said to be coming, with two millions and a half of gold for the King. The Cardinal of Seville assures me that after Christmas the King will go to Portugal, and next year the war will be made in earnest. He said that it was absolutely necessary to mass both army and navy in Spain, and not to attempt to send them through the Channel but to make a descent direct upon Ireland or England. As regards the commander, there is no doubt but that the Duke of Medina Sidonia will go home; and four other names occur, though all present some difficulties; the two most prominent are Don Hernando, son of Alva, and Prince Doria; neither would willingly obey the Duke of Parma. The other two are Don Alonzo de Vargas and Don Alonzo de Leyva; the first too timid, the second too rash. And so the Duke of Parma will receive the supreme command of both sea and land, and will choose his own lieutenant to command the Armada; for which post either de Cortez or Alvaro Florez would be well suited. The English corsairs are making themselves felt. The other day, within sight almost of Lisbon, they took, sacked and burned three small ships.
I have no other news of the three Venetian ships which formed part of the Armada. I know that the Cominander-in-Chief told his Majesty that the Regazzona had done very well in that brush with the enemy.
Madrid, 7th October 1588.
[Italian.]
Oct. 8. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 751. Giovanni Mocenigo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The King of France desires to bring about a universal peace, but Navarre talks loftily, and declares that he is strong enough to fight anyone who ventures into Poitu. He says he has between six and seven thousand infantry, one thousand horse, and the Queen of England's promise to send him a large contingent.
Against the Duke of Parma there are charges of gross negligence, made, however, only by partizans; nor are there wanting those who affirm that for many days he was ready to embark and that he had already begun to do so, but that the Duke of Medina Sidonia, though he sailed by Parma, did so in his flight from the fire ships, and never had the occasion to pick up the Duke of Parma's troops.
Paris, 8th October 1588.
[Italian.]
Oct. 9. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 752. Giovanni Mocenigo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Duke of Parma is before Bergues, and is investing it from the land side. If the English do not support the city it must soon fall.
Two ships of the Armada have reached Dieppe, a sign that it is much scattered, and may be yet further injured by the English. My Lord Robert, Earl of Leicester, is dead.
Paris, 9th October 1588.
[Italian.]
Oct. 9. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 753. Giovanni Moro, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
On one and the same day contradictory news of the Spanish and English fleets arrived here, and so they do not know what to make of it. Alvaro Mendes was the first to report that the Spanish Armada had been routed by the English the Ragusan representatives declared the contrary, then when the English agent went to confirm the news of the Spanish defeat the Pashas merely replied, God grant it may be so, and showed that they doubted it.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 9th October 1588.
[Italian ; deciphered.]
Oct. 12. Original Despatch, Venetian Avchives. 754. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
I have received your Serenity's instructions to congratulate his Majesty on the success of the Armada. I, however, have not mentioned the subject, and, as your Excellencies will know by this time, there is occasion to condole rather than to congratulate, and this office had better be deferred to the happier issue of next year's enterprise.
The Duke of Medina Sidonia, after setting out on his journey to Court, has fallen seriously ill at Burgos. His Majesty has sent to tell him to attend to his health, and to vex himself about nothing, and when he is better, to go and see his wife ; as there will always be plenty of time for him to come to Court.
They say that twelve thousand men are to be raised in Italy, and that very soon orders will be issued for the continuation of the' enterprise against England; meantime everything is suspended till the Duke of Parma's answer arrives.
Madrid, 12th October 1588.
[Italian.]
Oct. 15. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 755. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
Don Juan d'Idiaquez and Don Christoforo de Mora are in perpetual consultation as to the best means for carrying out effectively an expedition against England in the coming year. But now more than ever all those obstacles which I have so frequently indicated, are made apparent, especially since the return of the Duke of Medina Sidonia to Spain. I am assured, however, that they have resolved to put together a powerful armament without any regard to the cost; to change the Commander-in-Chief; to alter the whole plan of campaign, as they now recognize many errors and many fallacious presuppositions in the plan of this years campaign. They hold that the most important point of all is the possession of harbours in which at least a part of the Armada can take shelter. The King of France has shown a friendly disposition by offering to the Armada every help he could at Calais and elsewhere, and they accordingly propose to ask his most Christian Majesty, in confirmation of his kind disposition, to grant the use of French ports to the Spanish Armada; they promise that if he does so he will not only be acting in a way which is worthy of his title of most Christian, but that he will enjoy the merit of having assisted in an enterprise which must approve itself to God ; and the King of Spain will acknowledge this help and endeavour to repay it on all occasions.
Furthermore, it is said that now that Ibrahim Pasha is no longer Capadun but has been succeeded by Hassan Pasha, a restless and ambitious spirit, who is extremely hostile to Spain and determined to seize the kingdom of Fez so as to secure the port of El'Arisch for the Grand Signor, it is all the more necessary to keep an eye upon the Turkish fleet lest it should inflict some injury on Spanish dominions, or, at the instance of the Queen of England, put out to sea and so create a diversion from the English enterprise; and for this purpose they are going to send Giovanni Stefano Ferrari to Constantinople to negotiate a truce. Ferrari accordingly has been summoned to the Escurial, and Don Juan discussed the matter with him very intimately for a couple of hours. The conclusion arrived at was to wait for Benveniste's reply from Constantinople, and that Ferrari should return to Madrid whence he can be summoned at a moment's notice. Ferrari told my secretary all this. His Majesty has also been advised that if the Queen of England would abandon the protectorate of Zealand and Holland by restoring the fortresses, it would be as well to conclude a treaty with her and so put an end to all these expenses and troubles. And it would be no dishonour to the King, who in this way would have achieved the principal object for which he undertook this war, namely, the recovery of those provinces. Those who urge this line of action say that the Queen of England will in all probability be ready to agree to these terms, for she feels that she has acquired great glory by having, this year, defended her kingdom so successfully against all the power of Spain ; and she will not care to risk this reputation and continue in so dangerous a position ; for she must expect a most formidable attack next year, while she lacks the men, money, and means to resist it. I hear, however, that his Majesty is not favourable to this idea. He holds that such a line of conduct is too timid, and but little to his honour. Besides such a treaty would not be the real end of the war, for its conclusion would be all in favour of the rebel provinces in whose hands the forts would be placed ; and it is possible that after the disbanding of the Armada, the forts might be handed over to the Queen in virtue of secret understandings with her. Further the King argues that if the Queen is in such straits as is represented, he can either conquer that kingdom or she will be forced to offer more honourable terms, by restoring Holland and Zealand without reserve, and withdrawing entirely from all public or secret engagements towards those people. In this opinion his Majesty stands firm; and time will show whether it is sound or false. No one has had the courage to urge anything in opposition. In a matter of such importance I consider it my duty to report all I hear from secret sources; and so I inform you that preparations are pressed on with all rapidity; though the final decisions will be taken when the Duke of Parma's answer is to hand, and the rest of the Armada comes to port.
Don Bernardino de Mendoza, hearing that the King is little satisfied with his conduct and especially for the false reports which he scattered about, has asked leave to retire; he alleges that he is nearly blind and therefore no longer fit for service. It is thought that in a few days his request will be granted, chiefly with a view to satisfying his most Christian Majesty who looks on Don Bernardino's reckless character with little favour.
The King has addressed a letter to the Cortes on the subject of the donation which he wishes them to vote. It is said that they will give him the money but will refuse the men on the ground that Spain is ruined by the large number of troops that have been drawn from her in so short a time. The City of Seville has promised the loan of one million which his Majesty asked for; and has moreover advanced another two hundred thousand crowns to his Majesty for this war. Madrid offers one hundred thousand and it is thought that the other cities will do likewise.
A great mortality is still raging in the ships of the Armada which have reached Spain.
In Lisbon another prominent merchant has been executed for treasonable relations with Don Antonio.
Madrid, 15th October 1588.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Oct. 15. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 756. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
A courier from Corunna with news that Recalde has arrived with two more galleons and three zabre; all in a very bad way. He has no news of the missing ships, for in the storm off Ireland each one looked to himself. For the last few days there has been fine weather and news is hoped for.
His Majesty has made arrangements for lodging all the infantry in Old Castille this winter and has written to the bishops near the sea coast to help and succour the sick.
Madrid, 15th October 1588.
[Italian.]
Enclosed in preceding Despatch. 757. Specimen of the communication from his Majesty to the Procurators of the Cortes.
The King.
I have entrusted the defence of the kingdom to my men, and all that regards the attack on England, to which, the Lord knows, I was not moved by desire for new kingdoms ; I am well content with those given me by his divine Majesty. I have consumed my patrimony. The cause is God's and touches the honour of myself and my kingdom. Read this, take counsel among yourselves and listen to what the President will say on my behalf.
I, the King.
San Lorenzo, 7th October 1588.
[Spanish.]
Oct. 15. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 758. Giovanni Gritti, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
On Sunday Count Nicolo Cesis, a dependant of the Duke of Parma reached Rome. He brings letters from Flanders of the 12th of last month, announcing that Drake, abandoning the pursuit of the Armada, has returned towards London; and conjecturing that the Armada would go back to Spain by the outside route. The Count has brought credentials to the Pope and to all the Cardinals and does what he can to justify the Duke his master's conduct by showing that on his side he had not failed to carry out the King's orders; for he had embarked fourteen thousand men, and being unable through stress of weather to go to join the Duke of Medina Sidonia, he waited the Duke in a place where it was quite easy for the Duke to put in; but Medina Sidonia had not chosen to effect the junction and Parma could do nothing.
Rome, 15th October 1588.
[Italian.]
Oct. 17. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 759. Giovanni Mocenigo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Six companies of English have entered Bergues, and that brings the garrison up to twenty-four companies in all; these together with the six city companies and the three cavalry squadrons are judged sufficient for the defence of the town.
An English gentleman, who has circumnavigated the globe, as Drake did, has just returned home. He brings great wealth and also some natives from India who, they say, accompanied him of their own accord through a desire to see the Queen.
San Di, 17th October 1588.
[Italian.]
Oct. 18. Copy of Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 760. Vincenzo Gradenigo, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
News from Poland that an English Ambassador on his way home from Constantinople has passed through that country. Pallavicino, agent for the Queen of England, is in Saxony raising troops.
Prague, 18th October 1588.
[Italian.]
Oct. 19. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 761. Giovanni Mocenigo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Letters from London of the 29th of last month bring news that the Catholic Armada having appeared off the coast of Ireland, the people of the place ran to arms; but when no more than forty- seven sail were counted the alarm died down, especially as they saw the Spanish hoist a flag of truce, for they were in the direst straits for food and especially for water, as was gathered from some forty of them, who under the fury of hunger, came to shore and were forthwith taken and hanged. Some of these ships sank at sea, others were knocked to bits on the rocks.
With the return of an Ambassador sent by the Queen of England to the King of Scotland we have received the information that while the Duke of Medina Sidonia was off the coast of Scotland he sent one of his gentlemen to the King to inform him that the Spanish were in those parts for no other reason than to avenge the Queen, his mother; and when the nobles of Scotland took umbrage at the presence of this Spanish gentleman, the King declared in a public assembly that whatever quarrel he might have with the Queen of England nothing would induce him to draw towards the Spanish, and he dismissed Sidonia's ambassador without even seeing him, as he did to another agent sent by the Duke of Parma.
In London they held solemn functions and sermons in St. Paul's when the flags of the conquered were deposited there, and the Queen was received with great applause on her way through the city.
News from Havre de Grace that a Spanish galleon has put in there, and reports that she was separated from the rest of the fleet by a tremendous storm off Cape Finisterre.
San Di, 19th October 1588.
[Italian.]
Oct. 20. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 762. Giovanni Mocenigo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The English Ambassador has informed me that he has received despatches announcing that the Armada while sailing round Ireland had lost nineteen ships, most of them sunk in the sea with the death of four thousand men among them persons of importance as the Prince of Ascoli, the Controller of Castille and Don Miguel d'Oquendo. The Queen received this news from Ireland with tears of joy in her eyes, as it were the final liberation from this attack, the power of which has been estimated rather from the length of preparation and Spanish confidence in its success than from any secure foundation in the enterprise itself.
Colonel Norris has left England with two thousand men for the relief of Bergues ; and this force in conjunction with the rest is considered sufficient not merely to hold the town but to attack the enemy.
San Di, 20th October 1588.
[Italian.]
Oct. 22. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 763. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The King has sent twelve galleys of Castille to Cape St. Vincent, on account of the English corsairs who are harrying this coast. Ten others are at the Straits of Gibraltar to try to capture the English Ambassador on his way home from Constantinople, or his successor on his way out to the Porte.
Madrid, 22nd October 1588.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Enclosed in preceding Despatch. 764. The King.
Right Reverend Archbishop of our Council, the fortunes of the sea are so various, as is well known and has but now been proved by the example of our Armada, that, as you have heard, the Duke of Medina Sidonia has arrived with a part of his ships at Santander, and the rest have found a refuge in other harbours of Biscay. Some of these are somewhat badly handled owing to the long and troublesome voyage which they have made. And seeing that it is our duty to thank God for all that it has pleased him to do, I have returned him thanks for this and for the pity he has shown to all, for owing to the violent storm which attacked the fleet a much worse issue might reasonably have been looked for, and I attribute this favour to the devout and incessant prayers which have been raised to Him. But seeing that it is impossible for me not to feel some regret both for the damage to the ships and for the sufferings of those on board them, I wish to inform you by this letter that I consider that the prayers and public orations have done their work for the present and may now cease. In their place, upon a day to be appointed by you, shall be said in your cathedral church and in the other churches of your diocese, a solemn mass of thanksgiving; and let all ecclesiastics and other devout persons continue in their particular and private orations, recommending to our Lord, with all fervour, each action of mine, so that it may please his divine Majesty to direct them to that issue which shall be most to his service, the exaltation of His church, the good and preservation of Christendom, which is my only object and desire.
Given at San Lorenzo, 13th October 1588.
I, the King.
[Spanish.]
Oct. 22. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 765. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The ships of the Armada are so slow in arriving in Spain that already there begins to exist great anxiety less the larger part of them should have been lost, either through violence of the weather or from lack of provisions; especially as they parted company from the Duke of Medina Sdonia in sixty degrees of latitude and in seas unknown to them, covered by thick mists and full of dangerous shoals. After Recalde arrived at Corunna, with six ships, four more have reached harbour, among them the Regazzona a Venetian, but all of them so damaged that they could hardly be worse, for on board Recalde's galleon, which suffered less than the others, one hundred and seventy of the ships company died from sufferings and famine, being reduced to such straits as to serve out only four ounces of biscuit a day to each man; and owing to their sufferings many still continue to die. Recalde, who is very ill, reports that having entered a deserted harbour in Ireland compelled by their extreme need of water, and lying there for thirteen days waiting for fair weather, two other ships of the Armada came in sight, one a Biscayan which sprang a leak and sank in the open sea with all her crew of four hundred souls, the other a Ragusan which likewise went to the bottom in the same place though her crew was rescued on board his vessel, as well as some pieces of artillery. It is said that one of the first six ships to reach Corunna was in such a serious plight through the loss of her rudder, her cables, and most of her crew, that had she not by chance fallen in with a galley which took her in tow, she too would have been lost in sight of Spain.
These reports and the news that Don Alonzo de Leyva has been made a prisoner in Ireland, the absence of all information about the missing ships, which number fifty and more, cause a vast amount of comment; but what is heard on all sides is the bad generalship and the timidity of the Duke of Medina Sidonia; and everyone lays the blame ot all these misfortunes upon his inexperience and lack of valour. The better informed begin to think that if all these ships are lost it will be impossible to make another expedition next year; as indeed they hold that it will be difficult in any case, and this will become evident the further the preparations are pushed, unless the fixed resolve of his Majesty to avenge his honour and his injuries, causes him to drive them through by shear force of gold ; and gold, though he is not in want of it, he will not spend as freely and, as largely as the circumstances call for. At the same time they do not wish to see the King so fired, by a wish for revenge that he will commit himself to some perilous enterprise when he finds that the provisions for the successful issue of so dangerous an undertaking cannot be got ready rapidly. At the very latest the Armada should be in England by April of next year if it is to escape the disasters of this year which came upon it because it was delayed so long that the bad weather set in. A ccordingly they desire to see his Majesty change his policy and his intentions just now, and confine himself to gathering an armament for the defence of his kingdom only, while still encouraging the rumour that its destination is England, and this with the double object of preserving his dignity in the eyes of the world and of keeping the Queen of England in alarm and expenditure with a view to inducing her to come to some honourable terms. Such a policy would also allow the King to raise more money from his vassals which he could lay by till the occasion for a certain victory offered itself
All the above considerations have, I learn from a sure quarter, been submitted to his Majesty by his Ministers. But the King, who cannot bear to have it said that the Queen of England may possibly be able to defend herself against his forces which he hopes to have ready very soon, brings forward many other considerations, such as the weakness and weariness of the Queen, her want of money, the miserable state of her people who are downtrodden, some by the burden of taxes, others on the score of religion. Furthermore the Persian war which is raging will induce the Turk to conclude a truce, and they are only waiting Benveniste's reply before sending Ferrari to Constantinople; while France, notwithstanding the reconciliation with the house of Guise, is so disturbed and unquiet that there is not the smallest chance of its being able to interfere with an attack on England at present; and so it would be unwise to wait till Turkey is at peace and France, grown stronger, abandons that favourable attitude which she has recently displayed, under which circumstances the whole enterprise could be rendered much more difficult and doubtful. But what is more important than all else is that the King has so fully made up his mind that the late disasters are to be attributed not to the ability of the enemy nor to the unfavourable weather, but rather to the want of courage shown by his officers. He declares that if they had lost, as they have, fighting instead of flyingfor one must call it flying when they showed no heart for the fighthe would have considered all his expenses and labour as well invested. Above all he feels the stain on the Spanish name, and declares that with a prudent and valorous commander they can still recover the honour they have lost. In short, his Majesty outwardly displays a, fixed resolve to try his fortune once again next year; though it is quite possible that he may have a different design in his head, perhaps because he recognises the actual impossibility of carrying out the enterprise owing to his inability to furnish a sufficiently powerful armada ready by the time required. Any way, during the next few days we shall be able to judge from the quality of the preparations which are going on whether they are intended for offence or defence. Whatever decision is taken everyone is agreed that prayers for the life of the King are needed, for though he maintains the contrary, he is really deeply wounded by these disasters ; and should he die at this time of war, while the Prince is so young, the grandees and people so ill content, Aragon, Catalonia, and Portugal so disaffected, the Council of State so feeble, serious misfortunes might arise, as I, who am living on the spot, know full well. For the whole is held together by the authority and wisdom of the King; and if he were to die everything would fall into confusion and danger. And indeed no small trouble would arise now if Drake should take the sea and sail to meet the Peruvian fleet, or make a descent on the shores of Spain, where he would find no obstacle to his depredations, and might even burn a part of the ships that have come back for they are lying scattered in various places along the coast, without any troops to guard them as all the soldiers reach home sick and in the bad plight I have reported; besides which some of these ships are in harbours which have no forts. On this account the King has sent Don Juan de Cardona to Galicia, to gather all the ships into Corunna, and to see what is wanting for them, with a view to supplying it as soon as possible.
Couriers have left the Escurial for Italy, with orders to the Viceroys of Naples and Sicily and the Governor of Milan to raise troops, and to send ships and as large supplies of provisions as possible, along with munition, sails, and cordage. The Ambassador of Spain in Genoa has orders to raise as many sailors as he can; there being a great want of such.
It is said that when the Duke of Parma comes here the Cardinal Archduke, who is in Lisbon, will be sent as governor to Flanders. But this is not certain.
Madrid, 22nd October 1588.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Oct. 22. Original Despatch, Venetian, Archives. 766. Giovanni Gritti, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
The Duke of Parma's justification is not very well received here by the representatives of the King of Spain. They think that in exculpating himself he has thrown the blame on the Council, and been wanting in respect to his Majesty, by making his excuses for his attacks on Medina Sidonia to any other than his Sovereign.
As regards the arrival of the Armada in Spain, Cardinal Dezza has declared that it is subject for congratulation, for though it might have fared better, it might also have fared worse.
The paying off of crews and disbanding of troops is taken as a proof that they wish to conceal the mischief as much as possible.
Rome, 22nd October 1588.
[Italian.]
Oct. 24. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 767. Giovanni Mocenigo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The day before yesterday the English Ambassador came to see me. I reminded him that my predecessor had discussed with him the question of removing the new customs dues on one side and on the other for the common benefit of trade; and now that England was relieved from the pressure of war I ventured to broach the subject once more. The Ambassador replied that he wished to use all confidence in speaking to me, and that as the Queen at first had shown all solicitude to give us every satisfaction while we had been slow to arrive at any decision, so now he doubted whether she would be willing to act rapidly; but he would write for instructions.
He then went on to say that he knew how acutely her Majesty felt it that your Serenity had never sent an Ambassador to her Court as to that of her predecessors, and more especially to that of her brother, who was of the same religion as herself. I endeavoured to assure his Lordship that the esteem of the Republic for his mistress was in no way diminished by this fact. The Ambassador replied, I do not desire to go into the motives which govern Venice, but I would only point out that at the present juncture of affairs it would be as well to foster friendly relations by all possible means. After the entry of the English into Bergues all hope of a successful issue to the enterprise has been abandoned by the Spaniards, who say that the Duke of Parma having ruined the Armada now wants to lead all the Spanish troops to death beneath the town.
San Di, 24th October 1588.
[Italian.]
Oct. 24. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 768. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The Duke of Savoy, paying no heed to the remonstrances of the Governor of Milan and the Spanish Ambassador at his Court, has given effect to the negotiations which for long he has been carrying on with Lesdiguieres about the Marquisate of Saluzzo. The King of Spain is very angry, as he professes to desire above all else the peace of Italy. All the same the better informed think that the Duke has taken this step upon an understanding with Spain, made at a time when they hoped matters were going ill with France, and the preparations against England were promising success. Now, however, the Spanish Ministers think the moment inopportune, and are afraid lest his most Christian Majesty may resent this insult, which will possibly bring about the pacification of France and Navarre, and large assistance to the Queen of England and to the rebels in Flanders. The French resident here, M. de Longl, says openly that the Duke of Savoy would never have dared to take this step without hopes and support from Spain, and this is a poor return to make for the assistance which France rendered to the Armada under Calais, nor is it the way to obtain from his master ports for the use of the Armada this coming year, and free passage for the Flemish troops through France into Spain.
Every day some of those who volunteered on board the Armada arrive here, and their reports arouse the deepest compassion. Fears for the missing ships grow daily, lest they should have been lost through famine and tempest, or, as is whispered secretly, have been captured in Ireland. The wisest heads are certain that it is impossible to think of an expedition against England next year; the King, however, as usual, declares that he will overcome all difficulties, and urges the Cortes to give him a speedy answer and to justify his confidence in their fidelity and devotion.
Madrid, 24th October 1588.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]