Venice: July 1589

Pages 459-466

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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July 1589

July 1. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 860. Hieronimo Lippomano, retiring Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
On the 26th of last month we sailed from Barcellona, all five Genoese galleys. Next morning, having reached Palamos, we found a courier there from the Government of Genoa sent to warn the commander that twenty-two galleys were cruising off the coast of France in order to catch him.
We therefore laid our route for Sardinia, and thence coasting along by the east of Corsica we arrived safely in this port last night.
The Chevalier Mores and an Agent from Duke of Maine, who was secretly at the Court of Spain, left for Flanders. They carry important orders to the Duke of Parma, who, they say, is growing dropsical, and walking towards a rapid death.
Genoa, 1st July 1589.
July 8. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 861. Alberto Badoer, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
The Pope said to me that news from Spain was not good. The population of Portugal was flocking with enthusiasm to join Don Antonio, though the nobility stood firm for the King, who sent troops towards Portugal every day. The Duke of Bragnnza had three thousand men under him. It was therefore to be hoped that the enemy would not make much progress, though there was some fear of their receiving assistance from the Moors of Fez; many ships had been sent to that country to transport the troops which were ready on the sea thore.
I have learned that his Holiness subsequently had news from Spain that his Nuncio, having asked for an audience, was told to communicate in writing with Don Juan d'Idiaquez. The Pope takes this conduct very ill, and does not attribute it to the King's habitual dislike of audiences, but rather to the fact that he has not received the money promised him for the English enterprise, nor any assistance for the Duke of Savoy nt Geneva, and therefore is resolved to treat with the Pope only in black and white.
Rome, 8th July 1589.
July 10. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 862. Giovanni Mocenigo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Queen of England has recalled the English troops that were with Navarre in order to send them to Portugal. In London they are lading ships with corn to succour the King, Don Antonio.
Tours, 10th July 1589.
[Italian ; deciphered.]
July 10. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 863. Tomaso Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The English fleet after leaving Lisbon was followed up and har-rassed by the Adelantado of Castille. It was reinforced in men and provisions sent out by the Queen of England in forty ships, and then returned to Cascaes. The Spaniards were afraid lest the commander would make one of his surprise attacks in that quarter; but at length they saw him set his route towards Cape Finisterre. When passing Oporto he landed some men to take in water and other necessaries, but did no damage, nor did he attempt any landing in force. Then passing Finisterre he sailed' along the coast of Galicia, making some prizes, and burning some places as he is wont, and put into Vigo (Vico) Bay with a large fleet under him. Vigo is a miserable weak place not far from Corunna. The English took, sacked, and burned it, and set sail for England to repair the losses they had suffered through sword and sickness. Another squadron of the enemy, which was separated from the main body, and may have numbered thirty sail, was sighted off San Lucar which lies towards Cadiz. Their object is not known, whether it be to attempt to force the harbour of Cadiz, and to inflict the same damage as they did once before, or to await cavalry from Africa to be carried over into Spain. But Cadiz is so well fortified that it need not fear their attack, and the Moors are so alarmed about their own affairs that they will not think of depriving themselves of troops just now to support the uncertain and dangerous designs of others. Everyone sees that this attack on Portugal has brought loss to the English in persons and in reputation, and to Don Antonio because it has shown how feeble are the foundations on which he builds, and to the Portuguese, for it has won them little sympathy from the English, who discovered that they would not openly join Don Antonio, and hatred from the Castillians who discovered that they would not serve the King; and so, as is the fate of those who are too stupid to to act well and too cowardly to act ill, they have been abandoned by the English, and are punished by the Spanish, and proving once more that in matters of moment the middle course is not only dangerous but disastrous. For besides those who were left behind when the English fleet sailed away from the coast of Portugal, who had no possible salvation for themselves or their property, all those in the city who have shown signs of favouring Don Antonio, or are even suspected of doing so, are being crushed out by various means, so that in a short time that kingdom of Portugal will be completely deprived of its native nobility, except some few families who openly hold by their allegiance to the King, and that country will never be able to offer any support to any future attack.
A person in Lisbon, who is not a partisan, assures me that the ecclesiastics, including friars and priests, were the most turbulent of all classes; they did not shrink from fanning the flame by private exhortations from house to house, and even took arms themselves against his Catholic Majesty. The nobles, called Hidalgos, were deeply attached to Don Antonio, but made lukewarm by fear, and restrained by the penalties, they may be said to have rather desired than assisted Don Antonio's success. All the same, on the rumour of the English advance, many of these left the city with their families and their more precious goods, and drew away to that part; among these were some of the principal officials of the city. The merchant class which is composed chiefly of new Christians, as they are called, being the remains of the Jews who were expelled from the kingdom, although they did not dare to take an active part in arms, yet did not fail to do all they could to stir up the population to revolt and separate itself entirely from the Spanish Crown. On the other hand the foreign merchants showed themselves faithful to the King, and offered to serve the Cardinal in any capacity which his Highness might deem best. A choice was made, and a corps formed out of these men to act as his body guard, while others were employed on various military duties. The people remained more quiet than was expected. It was well known that they are unfriendly to his Majesty, but they did not rise; the justice, severity, and good government of his Highness, who has acquired a great name for prudence and valour, held them in check.
The English left a garrison of three hundred men in Cascaes, and four hundred in Peniche. The former were taken on board when the fleet returned from Cape St. Vincent, as the neighbourhood of Lisbon exposed them to danger of annihilation. The four hundred of Peniche held on till they were warned by a Portuguese that Don Pedro de Guzman and Don Sancho Bravo were coming to recover the place. They then fled on board their boats, as many as they coald, and reached the fleet; but one hundred and fifty remained behind, and were overcome by the Spaniards and slain.
The English troops on leaving Portugal, when they saw they had no more chance of gaining it, showed how they despised the true religion which on their entrance they had feigned to revere. For they hurled everything to ground, kicked the images, fired shots at the statues, profaned the churches, robbed the priests' vestments, and left signs behind not so much of valour as of impiety. And now that Portugal is freed from these scenes of violence and danger, and now that Ministers are aroused and stirred up to think not merely of the safety of that kingdom, which is now secured, but also of vengeance for so many and so frequent injuries, they are preparing an Armada which for number of troops and of ships shall be quite able to fight the enemy on the open sea, or to attack England once again. The experience of last year has taught them that it is not possible, in one and the same season, to make the preparations and to carry out the expedition; and so they intend to bring the Italian and German troops which they are raising into Portugal this winter in spite of the great expense it will entail, so as to have them ready at the right moment to send on board.
It is true that this year, owing to the excessive dryness of the season which has hardened the ground, there is a great scarcity of grain and all other crops necessary for provisions. Everything is at an exorbitant price, and we have suffered want even in this city. And it is urged that if so many foreigners are introduced who have to pass several months in this country, the poverty of the country and the discomfort of the inhabitants will be increased beyond the power of remedy.
In the meantime, for the present year they are getting ready as large a number of ships as they can. These preparations are taking place in Santander where almost all the provisions are.
Don Alonzo de Bazan, who has been named Captain-General, has left Lisbon and gone to the Escurial to kiss hands on his appointment to this office. He has received his orders, and must already be on his way to Santander to push on the preparations and to take the sea as soon as he can with his fleet, which after all cannot really number more than fifty or sixty vessels. These are larger and of a greater capacity than the English, and so they say they have no need to fear the enemy, although more numerous, an opinion I leave to the judgment of others. Anyway this armament will increase the reputation of the Spanish power, and will encourage the inhabitants of the sea-board, and will hold the enemy in check. Further, should the enemy think of going to the Azores, as is thought likely, he will have to use greater precautions, the more so as a captain and five hundred men have been sent there to garrison the island.
Another good result will spring from the formation of this fleet. For the States which voted the eight millions of gold, now that they see Portugal quiet and the English expedition postponed, are showing themselves reluctant to pay this burden, which they wish to ensure being spent in the expedition against the Queen of England; and it is thought that the sight of this fieet of Santander will prove very efficacious in overcoming their doubts.
The war in Portugal being concluded in the way I have reported, the Prior, Don Ernando, received orders to return to his Majesty to fill the post of Councillor, as that of Captain on land is now suppressed. He has done nothing except pass from the Escurial to Zamora and from Zamora to Alcantara, where he massed his army corps to drive out the English from Portugal. The massing of troops, however, took place so slowly that very few horse and foot had joined his flag; and various events led the enemy to be more rapid in flying than the Spanish in forming.
Madrid, 10th July 1589.
July 10. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 864. Tomaso Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
Giovanni Andrea Doria has sent two couriers to Madrid, one by land the other by sea; the news they convey is that the Turkish fleet will put out from Constantinople; it will be of that force which has already been indicated, and its objects will be those described.
The general belief is that it is taking the sea at the instance of the King of France and of the Queen of England, with a view to harrass the Spanish dominions, and thus to divert the Spanish forces from an attack on England, or from offering aid to the enemies of the King of France, which, in truth, they do not fail to do. Only the other day an agent was despatched to carry a large sum of money to the Duke of Maine. The Duke's representative left along with this agent. He has been for long in Court, which, when it came to the knowledge of his most Christian Majesty, gave him occasion to complain and lament. Someone who is very intimate in the house of Idiaquez, who conducts all this business, told me that it is perfectly certain that the King of Spain will not allow the Duke of Maine's party to be utterly crushed, but will grant every kind of support to keep it on its feet. This he will not do openly, but through a secret channel, furnishing the Duke with funds as he may require them from day to day. The King holds that he is justified in this conduct now that the King of France has allied himself with the heretics. They also remember the difficulties placed in the way of Spain by the King of France as regards the affairs of Flanders and the acquisition of the kingdom of Portugal. This line of action is further strengthened by the monitorum issued by the Pope against the King of France.
I endeavour to keep correspondents in various parts of this kingdom; but he who supplies my Portuguese news was unable, while the English were in that country, to send me full information; and so it was only after the enemy had left that I obtained details.
Madrid, 10th July 1589.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
July 18. Copy of Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 865. Vincenzo Gradenigo, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge of Senate.
The Turks under Hassan, Capudan Pasha, have been taking soundings at the island of Pantellaria (Pantalanea), with a view to occupying it. Though the island is deserted, still the occupation of it would be a danger to Sicily. The Spanish Ambassador is seriously disturbed on account of the news from Portugal, not being accustomed to see the enemy in his very country.
The Duke of Parma was reported very ill at the baths of Spa. Now from Cologne we hear of an improvement in his health.
Prague, 18th July 1589.
July 22. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 866. Tomaso Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The recent disturbances in Portugal were the cause of my being in ignorance of the death of the Venetian Consul in Lisbon. For all communications were confiscated as long as the English were in the country.
Madrid, 22nd July 1589.
July 22. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 867. Alberto Badoer, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
The Pope said that though Don Antonio and the English had left Portugal still there was much reason to fear that they would go to the Azores, where they can do great damage. His Holiness lamented that the King of Spain always would make excessive expenditures out of season, as now in raising so many men in Italy for Portugal, while they cannot reach that destination earlier than October, and then they won't know what to do with them.
Rome, 22nd July 1589.
July 22. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 868. Tomaso Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
After all the commotions of arms caused by the English and the Moors things have quieted down. The preparations in Santander are going on slowly; the number of ships is said to be sixty, but my own information, which is exact, places them at fifty. The lack of sailors retards these preparations. On the A tlantic seaboard there are positively none, and those on the Mediterranean seaboard being unskilful would prove of little use. The soldiers for this fleet are to number six thousand; most of these are already at Santander. The English are said to be suffering from a terrible mortality aboard. Some of their ships have been sighted off Galicia where they have gone to plunder as is their wont; while other ships under Colonel Norris, with the sick on board, are on the way home. Drake seized a Flanders ship in the waters of Galicia, and put forty of his men on board with orders to follow him. So malignant a sickness broke out among them, and spread so wide, that thirty-eight of the forty died. Only two escaped alive, and they, now that the ship was in this way freed from the English, were carried into Lisbon, where they gave a full and true account of all that was taking place among their countrymen.
Don Alonzo di Bazan is to be Captain-General, and though he is highly esteemed and very well versed in naval matters, yet not being titled he lacks the rank which would induce other noblemen to submit to his orders. Accordingly this office has not been conferred on him absolutely but provisionally; and his Majesty reserves to himself the right to confer it on any other subject whom he may approve, supposing that next year they make a larger Armada.
For this object they are making every effort, and the royal patrimony in the Indies is being sold, also offices in India are put up for sale. But the whole operation will not prove so easy as they thought, nor so rapid of execution as is required. For the Cortes have begun to raise difficulties about the contribution of eight millions.
Madrid, 22nd July 1589.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
July 29. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 869. Alberto Badoer, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
The Pope told me that he heard from Portugal that Don Antonio had taken all the territory round Cascaes, not merely Cascaes itself, and that he had been received under a baldacchino in many places; that he had come in sight of Lisbon, but as he did not attack the city no rising took place.
The Duke of Braganza arrived after Don Antonio had begun to retire to Cascaes. Don Antonio was allowed to embark without suffering any loss. On the way to Lisbon no damage was done by the enemy, but on their return march they committed every kind of abomination, sparing neither persons nor places, seizing the host in order to steal the tabernacles, being especially fierce against images, and hanging a statue of St. Sebastian. His Holiness complained that the King threw away so much money when the need for it was over.
Rome, 29th July 1589.