249. Document headed "Statement of the two fleets possessed by
the Queen of England, with numbers and names of
The Admiral in the ship called "The Royal Ark," built by
Lord Henry Seymour, son of the duke of Somerset, in the
Lord Thomas Howard, son of the duke of Norfolk, in the "Golden
Lord Sheffield in the "Dreadnaught."
Vice-Admiral Winter in the "Vanguard."
Southwell, knt., son-in-law of the Admiral, in the "Lightning."
Palmer, knt., in the "Rainbow."
Mr. Hutton, controller to the Admiral, in the "Hirondelle."
Mr. Frobisher in the "Antelope."
Mr. Fenton in the "Mary Rose."
Mr. Hadley in the "Earl," the ship which always carried the duke
of Anjou across. (fn. 1)
Mr. Ward in the "Tramontane."
Captain Turner in the "Bull."
Captain Boston (Bostock) in the "Tiger."
Captain Riches (Rigg?) in the "Achates."
Mr. Charles Howard in the "White Lion."
In addition to these Queen's ships, there are eight newly built
pataches belonging to the Queen, the smallest being from 100 to 120
tons. Their names are the "Charles," the "Sun," the "Moon," the
"Scout," the "Fantasy," the "Little Swan," the "Spy," and the
There are, moreover, coming to the Admiral by the 5th April,
four great ships belonging to the Queen—the largest she has—
namely, the "Triumph," the "Elizabeth Jonas," the "White Bear,"
and the "Victory." They will be accompanied by 28 merchant
ships, the best to be found. This will bring up the Admiral's
squadron to 56 sail. Drake has also six large ships of the Queen's,
namely :—the "Revenge," the "Hope," the "Nonpareil," the
"Guide," the "Aid," and the "Volvite" (?), with 45 of the best
merchant ships they could select, at the Isle of Wight. The Admiral
has also sent him the galleon "Leicester," (fn. 2) the "Royal Merchant,"
and the "Susannah." Their entire number, therefore, is 110 ships,
in addition to the adventurers who expect to come out if the Spanish
fleet comes to these coasts.
Note.—On the margin of the above document Philip II. has
verified the total number of the English ships, by setting down and
adding the items as stated. Several of the captains changed
ships before the appearance of the Armada in English waters,
and one or two of the vessels themselves are not clearly to be
identified. The list, however, does not differ very materially from
that given in Laughton's "Defeat of the Armada," Vol. II., p. 325.
250. Statement published by the English Ambassador in France
of his Mistress' fleet. (fn. 3)
|1. The "Triumph," 1,600 tons, with 24 pieces each side,
six cannons at the prow, and four at the stern.
|2. The "Bear," 1,500 tons, 24 pieces each side, six cannons
at the prow, and four culverins at the stern.
|3. The "Elizabeth," 1,200 tons, 24 pieces each side, six
cannons at the prow, and four at the stern.
|4. The "Victory," 1,200 tons, 24 pieces each side, six
cannons at the prow, and four at the stern.
|5. The "Royal Ark," 1,200 tons, 21 pieces each side, six
cannons at the prow, and four at the stern.
|6. The "Golden Lion," 1,100 tons, 16 pieces each side,
four cannons at the prow, and four at the stern.
|7. The "Edward Bonaventure," 300 tons, 14 pieces each
side, five cannons at the prow, and four at the stern.
|8. The "Vanguard," 800 tons, 17 pieces each side, six
cannons and iron pieces at the prow, and six at the
|9. The "Rainbow," 900 tons, 14 pieces each side, four
pieces at the prow, and same at stern.
|10. The "Nonpariel," 400 tons, 17 pieces each side, four
pieces at the prow, same at stern.
|11. The "Antelope," 600 tons, 10 pieces each side, four
pieces at the prow, same at stern.
|12. The "Mary Rose," 500 tons, 17 pieces each side, four
pieces at the prow, two at the stern.
|13. The "Dreadnaught," 400 tons, 17 pieces each side, two
pieces at the prow, and four at the stern.
|14. The "Bull," 300 tons, 17 pieces each side, two pieces
at prow, and two at stern.
|15. The "Swiftsure," 500 tons, 17 pieces each side, two
pieces at prow, four at stern.
|16. The "Tramontane," 300 tons, 17 pieces each side,
three pieces at prow, two at stern.
|17. The "Providence," 300 tons, 12 pieces each side, two
pieces at prow, and three at stern.
|18. The "Swallow," (fn. 4) 300 tons, 15 pieces each side, two
pieces at prow, and two at stern.
|19. The "Revenge," 450 tons, 17 pieces each side, four
pieces at prow, and two at stern.
|20. The "Aid," 250 tons, 12 pieces each side, two pieces
at prow, and two at stern.
|21. The "White Lion," 200 tons, 7 pieces each side,
two pieces at prow, and two at stern.
| (fn. 5) Total number of Sailors
|1. The "Charles Porte," 60 tons, four pieces each side,
two culverins at prow, one at stern.
|2. The "Spy," 30 tons, four pieces each side, two at
prow, and two at stern.
|3. The "Scout," 20 tons, three pieces each side, two at
prow, one at stern.
|4. The "Sun," 18 tons, three pieces each side, one
culverin at prow.
|5. The "Moon," 15 tons, three pieces each side, two
falcons at prow.
|6. The "Fantasy," 10 tons, two pieces each side, one
culverin at prow.
|7. The "Cygnet," 16 tons, three pieces each side, one
culverin at prow.
|8. The "Galore," 15 tons, two pieces each side, one
culverin at prow.
|9. The "Black Prince," 18 tons, three pieces each side,
two pieces at prow.
|Total Sailors in the Pinnaces
251. Instructions to the Duke Of Medina Sidonia for the
command of the Armada sailing from Lisbon.
In order that you may understand the considerations which
operate in the undertaking, I need only refer you to the enclosed
copy of what I wrote on the 4th September last to my nephew (i.e.,
the duke of Parma), giving him instructions as to what he should
say to the marquis of Santa Cruz in my name. This will fully
inform you of the intentions and objects in view. It will be unnecessary
also to dwell upon the reasons which delayed the sailing
of the fleet at that time, as it is generally known that it arose from
the need to repair the ships that had been damaged, and to execute
the other necessary preparations for the Armada. Our consolation
for this delay, which has given the enemy more time to organise
his defence, must, by God's favour, proceed from our own hands.
The undertaking being so important in the service of our Lord,
which has moved me to collect these forces, and my own affairs
depending so greatly upon its success, I have not wished to place so
weighty a business in any other hands than yours. Such is my
confidence in you personally, and in your experience and desire to
serve me, that, with God's help, I look for the success we aim at.
In order that you may thoroughly understand my wishes, and be
able duly to carry them out, I send you the following instructions :
In the first place, as all victories are the gifts of God Almighty,
and the cause we champion is so exclusively His, we may fairly look
for His aid and favour, unless by our sins we render ourselves
unworthy thereof. You will therefore have to exercise special
care that such cause of offence shall be avoided on the Armada, and
especially that there shall be no sort of blasphemy. This must be
severely enforced, with heavy penalties, in order that the punishment
for toleration of such sin may not fall upon all of us. You are going
to fight for the cause of our Lord, and for the glory of His Name,
and, consequently, He must be worshipped by all, so that His favour
may be deserved. This favour is being so fervently besought in all
parts that you may go full of encouragement that, by the mercy of
God, His forces will be added to your own.
When you receive a separate order from me, you will sail with
the whole of the Armada, and go straight to the English Channel,
which you will ascend as far as Cape Margate, where you will join
hands with the duke of Parma, my nephew, and hold the passage
for his crossing, in accordance with the plan which has already been
communicated to both of you.
It is important that you and the Duke should be mutually
informed of each other's movements, and it will therefore be
advisable that before you arrive thither you should continue to
communicate with him as best you can, either by secretly landing
a trustworthy person at night on the coast of Normandy or Boulogne,
or else by sending intelligence by sea to Gravelines, Dunkirk, or
Nieuport. You must take care that any messengers you may send
by land shall be persons whom you can thoroughly trust ; so that
verbal messages may be given to them. Letters to the Duke may
be sent, those going by sea written in the enclosed cipher, but
nothing should be said to the bearers verbally, so that if they be
taken they can divulge nothing.
Although it may be hoped that God will send fair weather for
your voyage, it will be well, when you sail, to appoint a rendezvous
for the whole fleet in case a storm may scatter it. As this
rendezvous would have to depend upon the place where the storm
overtook you, that is to say, either anywhere near Spain, or at the
mouth of the Channel ; if it should happen near our own coasts,
Vigo, Corunna, or the ports in the neighbourhood of Finisterre
might be appointed, as the pilots thought best. But if the storm be
near the Channel, you will, on consultation with experienced seamen
in Lisbon, decide whether the rendezvous should be appointed for
the Scilly isles as a port of refuge, or whether it will be better to fix
upon a certain latitude at sea. The weather does not promise to be
so bad as to prevent the ships from keeping out at sea. In case of
your being overtaken by a tempest in the Channel itself, you will
likewise discuss with native seamen on the Armada what defenceless
port or refuge would serve on the coast of England to shelter the
Armada with safety, or whether it would be better to run east or
west. But in any case you must keep away from the French and
Flemish coasts, in consequence of the shoals and banks. After you
have discussed these questions with the mariners you will make
such dispositions as you consider most advisable ; but I shall be glad
to know what decisions you adopt.
The success of the business depends upon our striking at the
root ; and even if Drake should have sailed into Spanish waters
with a fleet to harass and divert us, as some of our advices from
England assert, you will not be deflected from your course, but
will continue straight on without seeking the enemy, even though
you leave him behind you here. But if he follows or approaches
you, you may then attack him ; and the same instructions will
serve if you meet Drake at the mouth of the Channel with his fleet,
because if their forces are thus divided it would be well to conquer
them piecemeal so as to prevent the junction of all of them. If
you do not come across the enemy before you arrive off Cape
Margate, and find there only the Lord Admiral of England with
his fleet, or even if you find the united fleets of the Lord Admiral
and Drake, yours should be superior to both of them in quality, and
you may, in God's name and cause, give battle to them, trying to
gain the wind, and every other advantage, in the hope that our
Lord may give you the victory.
There is little to say with regard to the mode of fighting and the
handling of the Armada on the day of the battle, as they must
depend upon circumstances ; but I have only to press upon you not
to miss the gaining of every possible advantage, and so to order the
Armada that all parts of it shall be able to fight and lend mutual
assistance without confusion or embarrassment. Above all it must
be borne in mind that the enemy's object will be to fight at long
distance, in consequence of his advantage in artillery, and the large
number of artificial fires with which he will be furnished. The aim
of our men, on the contrary, must be to bring him to close quarters
and grapple with him, and you will have to be very careful to have
this carried out. For your information a statement is sent to you
describing the way in which the enemy employs his artillery, in
order to deliver his fire low and sink his opponent's ships ; and
you will take such precautions as you consider necessary in this
respect. (fn. 6)
You will be wise enough, in case you gain the victory, not to
allow the squadrons of our Armada to get out of hand in their
eagerness to chase the enemy. Keep them well together, at least
the great mass of them, and give them full instructions beforehand ;
especially if you have to fight in the Channel, where double care
will have to be exercised in this respect, both coasts being unsafe.
In such case you will have to fight so as to win.
Disastrous examples have been seen both on land and sea of the
effects of over eagerness in falling to pillage before the victory is
absolutely secure. I therefore enjoin you strictly to prevent any
disorder arising from this cause, which is apt to produce such
terrible results. All hands must continue fighting until the victory
is complete, and the benefits will then be secure.
I have ordered the council of war to send you instructions with
regard to the distribution of prizes and booty. These instructions
must be carried out inviolably.
It must be understood that the above instructions about fighting
only hold good in case the passage across to England of my nephew
the duke of Parma cannot otherwise be assured. If this can be
done without fighting, either by diverting the enemy or otherwise,
it will be best to carry it out in this way, and keep your forces
If the Armada shall not have had to fight, you will let my nephew
have the 6,000 Spaniards you are to give him ; but if you have had
to engage the enemy, the giving of the men to the Duke will have
to depend upon the amount of loss you may have sustained in
gaining the hoped-for victory.
In the event of the Duke establishing himself on shore you may
station the Armada at the mouth of the Thames and support him,
a portion of your ships being told off to hold the passage of reinforcements,
&c., from Flanders, thus strengthening us on both
sides. If circumstances at the time should, in the opinion of the
Duke and yourself, render another course desirable you may act in
accordance with your joint opinion ; but on your own discretion
alone you will not land or undertake anything on shore. This you
will only do with the concurrence of the Duke, your sole function
on your own account being—what indeed is the principal one—
to fight at sea.
Whenever in the course of expeditions dissensions have occurred
between the commanders, they have caused victory to be turned into
defeat ; and although your zeal for my service leads me to expect
from you the loyal co-operation with my nephew the Duke, upon
which success depends, I nevertheless enjoin you to keep this point
well before you, carrying it out straightforwardly, without varying
the design or seeking to interpret it otherwise. I have given to
my nephew the Duke similar instructions. You will bear in mind
that, if the undertaking be successful, to which result a mutual
good understanding between you will largely contribute, there will
be ample honour and glory for both of you ; whereas the very reverse
will happen in the contrary case, and I hope that for your part
you will serve me well in this respect.
You will have to stay there (i.e., in English waters) until the
undertaking be successfully concluded, with God's help, and you
may then return, calling in and settling affairs in Ireland on the
way if the Duke approves of your doing so, the matter being left
to your joint discretion. In this case you will leave with the Duke
the greater number of the Spaniards you take with you, and receive
in exchange for them such of the Italians and Germans as may be
deemed necessary for the task.
The experience I have had of your constant efforts towards the
economy of my treasury gives me great hope that, in all matters of
expenditure connected with the Armada, you will spare as much as
possible the money you are carrying with you in the fleet. You
know how much trouble it has cost to collect it, and the necessity
from which we are suffering, and you will take to heart the care of
seeing that the musters are made with great precision, and that no
trick is played upon you with regard to the number of men. This
is not only a question of expenditure, but very often of success or
failure. You will not forget to take particular account of the
quality of the victuals, and their good preservation and distribution,
so that they may not be exhausted or run short before the time, as
the health and maintenance of the men depend so much upon this.
You will keep your eyes constantly on the officers of all branches of
the service, so that your vigilance may stimulate theirs, and thus
that every man on the fleet may be kept on the alert to do his
duty. I am sure that there will be no shortcoming on your part,
and that you will see that everything is done with due smartness.
You may judge by the importance of the task entrusted to you
how anxious we shall be until we receive information of your
success. You will therefore be careful to keep me constantly
advised of all you do, and everything that happens to you. This is
all that need be said at present. The methods and details for
carrying out the object, but without changing the plans in any way,
are left to your wisdom and experience ; and further instructions
shall be sent to you in due course, if such be rendered necessary by
circumstances. In the meanwhile I will cause the undertaking to be
commended to God Almighty as His own.—Madrid, 1st April 1588.
—I, the King.
252. Supplementary Secret Instructions to the Duke Of
Medina Sidonia for the command of the Armada.
In addition to the orders contained in your general instructions I
desire to remind you briefly of certain other points. You will carry
with you on the Armada, with due care, the accompanying despatch
for my nephew, the duke of Parma and Plasencia, but you will take
notice that it must not be delivered to him until he has either
landed in England, or exhibits uncertainty of being able to do so.
Until either one or the other of these two things happens you will
keep the despatch in your own possession.
When you arrive off Cape Margate, which you must endeavour to
do, overcoming the obstacles that may be opposed to you, you will
learn where my nephew the Duke wishes you to place the troops
with which you are to furnish him, and you will act accordingly.
It is my desire that when these troops land they shall he under the
command of my Commander-in-Chief of the Light Cavalry of Milan,
Don Alonso de Leyva, until the Duke takes them over. You will
act accordingly. If God grants us the success we hope for, you will
scrupulously fulfil your general instructions ; but if, for our sins, the
contrary should happen, and the Duke should be unable to cross to
England, or you unable to form a junction with him, you will, after
communication with him, consider whether you cannot seize the
Isle of Wight, which is apparently not so strong as to be able
to resist, and may be defended if we gain it. This will provide for
you a safe port for shelter, and will enable you to carry out such
operations as may be rendered possible by the importance of the
position. It will therefore be advisable for you to fortify yourself
If you should have to adopt this course, you will take notice that
you should enter by the east side, which is wider than the west. In
addition to this the eastern entrance will be more handy for you,
because, if you resort to this plan, it will be in consequence of some
doubt, or of the failure of the main design, which may lead you to
return from Margate. On no account will you enter the Wight on
your way up, nor before you have made every possible effort to carry
out the main idea. If you obtain possession of the Wight, you will
from there come to an understanding with my nephew the Duke,
and endeavour mutually to assist each other to the extent of your
resources ; everything being directed to the same end, according as
circumstances may dictate.
I trust that God in his own cause will guide matters better than
we deserve, and that the above eventualities may not happen. They
are, however, set forth by way of precaution. It is of the highest
importance that, whatever may occur, I should be advised promptly,
in order to enable me to give the necessary instructions ; and I
therefore once more impress upon you urgently the need of keeping
me well informed of everything you may do.
If the Duke my nephew should succeed in capturing Don Antonio
in England, and should hand him over to your care according to his
instructions, or if Don Antonio in escaping from the Duke should
fall into your power, you will have him placed in security, so that
he shall not escape, and shall give no more anxiety or disquietude.—
Madrid, 1st April.—I, the King.
Note.—The Duke acknowledged receipt of his instructions in a
letter dated Lisbon, 11th April, promising the strictest possible
compliance with the King's orders. He urgently begs for money
to be sent to him, "that being the only thing now wanting."
253. Sealed Document which the Duke Of Medina Sidonia
was to deliver to the Duke Of Parma only in case the
latter should land in England. In any other event the
document was to be returned to His Majesty.
In addition to what I have written to you by the ordinary
channels, and my orders with regard to the principal business, you
are informed of the object of the undertaking, and of the meeting
and negotiations with the English (Peace) Commissioners. But I
have also thought advisable to send you the present despatch in the
Armada itself, in anticipation of certain possible eventualities.
If the Armada succeeds, either by means of fighting, or in
consequence of the unreadiness of the enemy, you will, when the
forces from here have arrived to assure your passage across, go over
in God's name and carry out the task assigned to you.
But if (which God forbid) the result be not so prosperous that
our arms shall be able to settle matters, nor, on the other hand, so
contrary that the enemy shall be relieved of anxiety on our account
(which God, surely, will not permit) and affairs be so counterbalanced
that peace may not be altogether undesirable, you will endeavour
to avail yourself as much as possible of the prestige of the Armada
and other circumstances, bearing in mind that, in addition to the
ordinary conditions which are usually inserted in treaties of peace,
there are three principal points upon which you must fix your
The first is, that in England the free use and exercise of our holy
Catholic faith shall be permitted to all Catholics, native and foreign,
and that those who are in exile shall be permitted to return.
The second is, that all the places in my Netherlands which the
English hold shall be restored to me ; and the third is that they
(the English) shall recompense me for the injury they have done to
me, my dominions, and my subjects ; which will amount to an
exceedingly great sum.
These points stand in importance in the order in which they are
here enumerated, and although the first is that which I especially
demand, you will use your own discretion as to whether you should
press it first, or should propose them all together, or begin with the
two last. The question of the restitution of the fortresses is also
very important, especially that of Flushing ; but with regard to the
third point, after you have discussed it thoroughly, and proved that
the recompense due to me would be too large for their treasury to
meet, you may drop it in favour of the free exercise of the Catholic
faith. This is the point upon which you must lay the greatest
stress, and secondly, the question of the fortresses. The third point
may be used as a lever to obtain the other two.
With regard to the free exercise of Catholicism, you may point
out to them that since freedom of worship is allowed to the
Huguenots in France, there will be no sacrifice of dignity in allowing
the same privilege to Catholics in England. If they retort that I
do not allow the same toleration in Flanders as exists in France,
you may tell them that their country is in a different position, and
point out to them how conducive to their tranquillity it would be to
satisfy the Catholics in this way, and how largely it would increase
the trade of England and their profits, since, as soon as toleration
was brought about, people from all Christendom would flock
thither in the assurance of safety ; whilst the commerce of
Englishmen in other countries would be carried on without the
present vexations. You may add to this such other arguments as
you may consider appropriate. However much they may promise
it will be a great mistake to suppose that they will fulfil it, unless
very good security be given. For this reason efforts should be
made to obtain as hostages some persons of rank, with large
following, and many friends, or perhaps some English fortresses to
hold, even for a limited period of years. During such period we
should see how they carried out the conditions. To disregard this
point would be to build on the sand, and you must bear this well in
mind if the opportunity occurs.
If the principal design should fall through, it would be very
influential in bringing them to these, or the best conditions possible,
if the Armada were to take possession of the Isle of Wight. If
this be once captured, it could be held, and would afford a shelter
for the Armada, whilst the possession of it would enable us to hold
our own against the enemy. This matter has also been laid before
the Duke (of Medina Sidonia), so that in case of failure, and if
nothing else can be done, you may jointly with him discuss and
decide with regard to it. I have thought well to say thus much,
but I hope that God, whose cause it is and to whom I have
dedicated the enterprise, will not allow you to fail, but will aid us
to convert England, as we desire, for His greater glory.
254. Advices from London.
A general muster has been held in London of those capable of
bearing arms, and hardly 10,000 men were found fit. This will
appear strange, but it is as true as St. John's Gospel.
There is a great lack of powder here, and no hope of supplying
it from that made in England.
A few days ago Drake was almost ready to sail, but things are
falling off now. His soldiers are so tired of waiting that they are
deserting. He has not more than 1,500 men, and they are decreasing
The victuals which he had supplied are much reduced, and the
fitting out of the additional ships for him proceeds very slowly. To
tell the truth in two words, everything is being administered very
lazily. The only explanation possible of this is that they have
hopes of peace.
The Lord Admiral has not half the men he was to have had, and
is asking for victuals for another month.
Don Antonio lately attempted something, but I cannot explain
the mystery. He was absent at sea for 13 days, and it is said he
wanted to escape, but was discovered.
I must relate another circumstance that happened lately ; it
seems as if I had nothing but marvels to write about at present.
On the window of the Queen's presence chamber at Court were
found a vast number of fleas collected together ; and 30 great fish,
commonly called porpoises, came up the river to the water gate of
the Queen's Court.
Note.—The above is accompanied by a translation into Spanish in
an English hand, with many corrections by the King.
255. Advices from London from Pedro de Santa Cruz. (fn. 7)
Although they publish here that there are more ships in the
fleets of the Admiral and Drake, the truth is that there are only
50 belonging to the Queen, and 20 merchantmen, with 20 pataches.
The number of men of all sorts does not exceed 8,000. As they
think these forces too weak to cope with the Spanish fleet, orders
have been given to Drake to put to sea. After the Spaniards have
been allowed to land, he is to come and burn the Spanish ships, and
then land his own men to fight the Spaniards.
There is a ship here loaded with black baizes, bound for Portugal,
on account of Dr. Nuñez and his Portuguese brothers-in-law. A ship
from Lisbon has arrived here with a cargo of wine, bringing news
that the Armada is fitting out apace. The Queen has ordered a
general muster here, and the men are found to be much fewer than
was expected. Those capable of bearing arms do not reach 10,000.
A young Genoese gentleman, called Philip Centurion, was with
the reiters in France, and when they were dispersed came hither.
He is a heretic, and was made much of by Horatio Pallavicini, who
sent him to Rochelle with letters from the queen of England. He
received there 400 crowns on a credit from Horatio Pallavicini, and
has gone to Spain with the money. They have news that he is already
in Madrid, and it is necessary that he should be arrested. Pallavicini
says he did wrong in drawing money against his credit, but as he
duly delivered the letters he took for Bearn, he acted honestly in
that respect, and he has probably gone to Spain as a spy. This
must be so, as otherwise Pallavicini would never have given him a
credit for so large a sum.
In the middle of March eight little vessels, called frigates, (fn. 8) sailed
for the Indies, with the intention of robbing the boats engaged in
the pearl fisheries.
Everybody is quite certain here that the Scots of the English
faction will hand over the king of Scotland to them the moment the
Queen asks for him.
256. Count de Olivares to the King.
By my letter of the 1st, your Majesty will have seen the course I
had pursued in the matter of the letter from the queen of Scotland
to his Holiness, which Cardinal Mondovi had received. The matter
remaining as I explained, I have no opportunity at present of trying
to obtain possession of the original, so as not to divulge the secret.
I will, however, endeavour to get him to bring it if I have a chance.
He (the Pope) is very much offended with me just now.
The original letter is in the hands of his Holiness, as Mondovi
returned it to him, with the certificate of authenticity and recognition
of the handwriting. When the Nuncio hands to your Majesty
the copies it would be a good opportunity of asking him to write to
the Pope for the original, but it would be well not to press him very
much ; in order that he may not think that your Majesty attaches
vital importance to this authority for your claim. Frankly, it
would appear to me more advisable to depend principally upon descent
and conquest. If we act coolly there is no doubt we shall get hold
of the original letter some day. With regard to your Majesty's
remark about the postscript of the letter, I have not heard that the
Pope has said or done anything in that respect, but he disgracefully
ordered that in the translation, the name (i.e., of Philip) should be
written in cipher.
During the pontificate of Pope Gregory, and the beginning of the
present reign, credit was given to certain persons who offered to
convert the queen of England. It was afterwards discovered that
these persons were double spies. The affair was managed by
Cardinal Savello, who was considered a very serious person, quite
incapable of such a thing.
I have written to the duke of Parma, sending him the papers
written by Cardinal Allen, and about the journey of the latter
thither.—Rome, 4th April 1588.
257. The King to Bernardino de Mendoza.
I approve of your having withheld from Semple the knowledge
of the mission upon which it was intended to send him to Scotland
until you had communicated with the duke of Parma on the fresh
points which had occurred to you. I hope and believe that the best
course will have been adopted. I am inclined to think that, if he
goes, he should at first confine himself to compliments and
generalities, and then, just as the principal business is ready, for
him to make the statement the Duke wrote to you, as it will then
do good rather than harm.
With regard to the three alternatives offered by the earl of Morton,
it appears to me that to take up arms at the present time against
the Scottish heretics would only have the effect of driving them
into closer union with England, and consequently that course must
not be entertained. The preventing of the Scots from coming to
the aid of England, or the organisation of a Scottish force to attack
the English, are both very important, and he (Morton) should be
urged to keep his hand on these points so that in due time,
when my forces strike elsewhere, they may be effected. You will
therefore guide things to this end, but always bearing in mind that
they (the Catholics) are Scotsmen, and that no suspicion must be
aroused in them about their King which might alienate them from
us. They should be principally inflamed by the claims upon them
of the Catholic faith, and by the example of their good and saintly
Queen. You will know how to manage it with your accustomed
dexterity.—Madrid, 5th April 1588.
258. The King to Bernardino de Mendoza.
The letter from the late queen of Scotland to his Holiness, of
which you send me a copy, is a great proof of the happy fate that
she will have met with in the future life. It is certainly most
edifying to read it ; and I thank you, as an especially great service
done to me, for your efforts in having the letter sent to Rome, and
sending me this translation of it. I thank you, too, for your letter
to Count de Olivares about it, who has also been written to from
I approve of the letter you caused (Miss) Curle to write to (Miss)
Kennedy, and also of your having informed the former of the
granting to her of a pension of 300 crowns a year. You did well
also with regard to her brother's allowance of 40 crowns a month,
and of Gorion's 20 crowns, having regard to the qualities and
circumstances of each of them ; and you will pay these pensions as
they fall due. For the present it will be well not to talk of their
leaving France, where they are under your own eye and protection.
By and bye, when we see what effect the letter causes in Rome, and
how circumstances turn out, we can consider what had better be done.
Since you think it is desirable, in order to discharge the conscience
of the queen of Scotland, that the 2,000 crowns she owed to Charles
Arundell should be paid to his guarantors, who were forced to pay
on his account the amount for which they were security, I approve
of the order sent to you in favour of Arundell being extended to the
guarantors. I also approve of the two months and 20 days of his
(Arundell's) pension owing at his death being paid in discharge of
I note the information about the seminary of Pont Monçon, and
will have the matter considered.—Madrid, 5th April 1588.
259. Bernardino de Mendoza to the King.
Your Majesty will see by the enclosed extract from the duke of
Parma's letter the decision arrived at with regard to sending the
earl of Morton and Colonel Semple to Scotland. I have now
despatched both of them, and I hope God will give them good speed,
as they are zealous in your Majesty's service. The earl has a large
following in Scotland, and Colonel Semple possesses good judgment
to advise him as to the conversion of the country and your
Majesty's interests, which he promotes as a good servant should. I
can assure your Majesty that since he has been here I have been
much pleased with his zeal and steadfastness in this matter, and I
see not a trace of Scottish prejudice in him. By the two letters of
Robert Bruce recently received, your Majesty will see that the
going of the Earl and Semple is very opportune.
The advices of 11th March are from Antonio de Vega, and those
of 21st are from an Englishman who has gone to reconnoitre Drake's
ships at Plymouth.
As I was closing this the archbishop of Glasgow has shown me
(a letter) dated in Scotland on the 11th instant, from the bishop of
Dunblane. He says that he had spoken with the King that day in
Edinburgh, and had been well received both by his Majesty and the
Chancellor He had conversed with the latter subsequently, and
expected to obtain a favourable despatch shortly, and return to his
Holiness. The King intended to send to your Majesty John Seton
(who is a servant of your Majesty).
After what Bruce writes to me, and Julio's repetition of the
Treasurer's remark about the complete confidence which the queen
of England reposes in the king of Scotland, together with the long
refusal of the King to receive the bishop of Dunblane, I cannot
make out what can be the cause of this sudden change of front, and
the kindness shown to the Bishop, not only by the King but by the
Chancellor, who is a great heretic, and an adherent of the English
As Morton and Semple have not left Paris, I have informed them
of this news, as it is important they should be well posted, in order
to avoid being taken in by any such bait as this. It may be
suspected that the object of the King and Chancellor is to discover
what is going on, unless by deeds they prove otherwise.—Paris,
5th April 1588.
260. Bernardino de Mendoza to the King.
Your Majesty will see how well Julio is acting, in giving me
momentary advice of everything touching your Majesty's service.
If your Majesty will allow me I will give him some money in
recompense. He has informed me of the approaches made by the
French towards a closer alliance with England, and I have kept
him well instructed on the points I have considered necessary to
enable him to get at the bottom of the French designs. At the
same time I have managed through Sampson to get indirectly
whispered into the ears of the new friend certain intelligence in the
guise of news, which would confirm what I had given him (Julio)
notice of. This will cause him to do his business more handsomely,
without thinking that the discourse comes from me.
The new confidant tells me that on the 18th ("ultimo" in the
King's hand) this King sent a valet-de-chambre to the English
ambassador to say that he wished to see him privately. He went
and found the King alone in the garden of the Reformed Monks of
St. Bernard. (fn. 9) His Majesty received him with extraordinary
demonstrations of welcome, reminding him that he had been brought
up in France, and had been in high favour with his brother the
Duke (i.e., of Alencon), and that he (the King) held him in great
esteem. It is true, he said, that he had not hitherto done anything
for him (the ambassador), but as he now saw that both his mistress
(i.e., Elizabeth) and himself (Henry III.) would be ruined if she
made peace with your Majesty, he assured him that if he was
instrumental in breaking off the negotiations he would promise him
on his word of honour to give him the same reward as he could
expect from his mistress. The ambassador thanked him, and
promised to write and use his influence with his mistress if the
King would give him a note to enable him to do so. Julio writes
me that the ambassador had been instructed to answer in this way,
in order to discover what this King was willing to offer the Queen.
The ambassador said he could hardly write to his mistress saying
she had better not come to terms with Spain without giving her
some reason. To this the King replied that the Pope and your
Majesty had joined against his mistress, and had tried to bring him
and the Venetians into the alliance ; but they had both refused, the
latter saying that they would follow his (the king of France's lead).
He could assure the queen of England that if she made peace with
your Majesty it would not last three months, for your Majesty
would employ all your forces in helping the League to ruin him,
and she might well imagine what would happen to her afterwards.
The King repeated all this very earnestly, and prayed him several
times to do his best to break off the peace negotiations, in which
case he would give him a reward commensurate with the service.
As the King would not descend to particulars, Julio writes to me
that the ambassador in his despatch to the Queen simply repeated
what the King said, but added that he did not guarantee it in any
way, and was inclined to look upon it as "French discourse."
Although Secretary Pinart, Marshal de Biron, and Abbé Guadagni
said that France would aid her with double the force they were
called upon to employ by the terms of the alliance, the King did
not touch upon this point. From what I can see, this King would
like to prevent the Queen from coming to terms with your
Majesty, without binding himself to further details, as he fears that
if he openly states the conditions the Queen will publish them,
and make use of his approaches to irritate still further the French
Touching on this point, the Nuncio told me that this King was
not in a position to help the queen of England, and he (the Nuncio)
therefore hoped she would not come to terms with your Majesty,
now that you were so well armed. If peace were not made, he said,
your Majesty's great forces must necessarily be turned against
England, and this would distress this King as much as if the Queen
came to terms with you ; and he (the Nuncio) did not see how the
French could extricate themselves either way.
The French ambassador in England tries to dissuade the Queen
from coming to terms with your Majesty, and at the same time to
prevail upon Bearn to submit to this King, but without, up to the
present, descending to particulars.
Julio writes to me under date of 12th ultimo, that the Treasurer
had laid before the Queen a statement of the objections to allowing
Drake to sail whilst negotiations were in progress, recommending
that the result of the first meeting of the Commissioners should be
awaited ; and, in view of this result, Drake should be allowed to sail
or not. He (Julio) writes under date of 26th ultimo, that the
Treasurer had left the Court for a four days' stay at a pleasure-house
of his, and that during his absence Leicester and Walsingham had
urged the Queen to let Drake sail at once. She consented to this,
and ordered him without fail to sail on the 28th, but he (Julio) did
not know whether this would be altered on the return of the
Julio also writes that the Queen has ordered her ambassador here
to reply to the King respecting his request that the ambassador
would use his influence with her to persuade Bearn to submit and
become a Catholic, that she could hardly act as the King wished :
first, because it was not fitting for anyone to seek to rule the
conscience of another ; secondly, because she was not sure whether
it would be advantageous either to her or the King for her to do
as he asked, since they were both of different religions ; and, thirdly,
because if she did advise Bearn, and he did not agree, it would be a
great rebuff for her. These she thought sufficient reasons for the
King to excuse her from moving in the matter, but she would
willingly serve him in all else. The new confidant tells me that
Marshal de Biron saw the English ambassador on the 29th instant
at a banquet, and told him not to dissemble any longer, as they well
knew that his mistress had agreed with your Majesty, and that a
truce had been settled for four years, greatly to the prejudice of
France. The sending of the Commissioners to Flanders, he said,
had been merely dissimulation. The ambassador replied that he
knew nothing of all this ; whereupon Biron had retorted "You want
to ruin us." The ambassador said he wished his mistress would
come to terms with Spain, and that the subjects of both nations
might trade freely. "In such case," he continued, "I can truly
assure you we should not trouble ourselves much, about France."
As they were hurried Biron told him that he would go and see him
at his house later, when they could discuss the matter more at
In the same letter of 26th Julio writes with regard to Scotland
that, when the queen of England learnt of the gathering of the
Scottish Catholics, she had caused the King to be informed that if
he was not strong enough to suppress the rebellion she would give
him all the aid he required. The King (who is more devoted to her
than ever) replied that at present he was able to pacify the rebels
in his realm, but in case he should require help later he would
accept her offer at once.
I informed Julio of what your Majesty orders in yours of the
6th ultimo, namely, that he is to dissuade the Queen from drawing
closer to the French, but rather to seek your Majesty ; adding what
was necessary in view of events here. I understand he is doing his
best to succeed. The Nuncio also received the information I gave
him about England in a way that convinces me that he communicates
it to his Holiness, and this is confirmed by the intelligence I received
from the count de Olivares.—Paris, 5th April 1588.
261. Bernardino de Mendoza to the King.
In my last I reported that advices of 2nd March said that Drake
had not sailed, and this is confirmed by letters of 9th, 16th, and
19th, and the latest of all, 25th, asserts that the Queen had despatched
Drake to set sail, which it was believed he would shortly do, if the
A cannon had exploded on Drake's flagship, killing 35 men and
wounding seven, and the English had looked upon this as an evil
omen. They were, however, very glad at the death of the marquis
of Santa Cruz, which they think will prevent the sailing of the
Armada as soon as was intended.
Since the Admiral carried the Commissioners across, he has been
cruising in the Channel, on the coast of Flanders and England ; the
wind being favourable he ran into Flushing He has sent to the
ambassador here, who is his brother-in-law, the memorandum which
I now enclose, containing a statement of the ships which he and
Drake will have, with which to encounter the Armada. He (the
ambassador ?) has published this statement with great boasting,
saying that one of their ships will fight five of your Majesty's. As
the English Catholics here have declared that most of the Queen's
ships are rotten, the ambassador here reported to the lord Admiral
that I was spreading this rumour, and he has replied—as is published
here by the ambassador—that he is glad for me to send your Majesty
such news as this, and he (the Admiral) was only sorry that peace
negotiations were going on, which might prevent him from coming
to close quarters with your Majesty's fleet.
The Admiral asserts that 12,000 men, of all sorts, will go in the
two fleets, and from this it may be judged that the number will be
greatly inferior. The assertion that the Queen's ships are worn out
is confirmed by the Admiral in the memorandum in question, as he
confesses that four of the largest of them, which have been fitting
out for sea for the last four months, have not joined him yet.
They report from England that Walsingham says he has advices
from Italy that your Majesty's fleet was intended more for defence
than for offence, and that his Holiness, after dinner one day, said :
"Clear this table ; let us go to the war in England." I also understand,
through the new confidant, that English ships are said to be
ranging the south seas, and doing more harm than was done by
The English ambassador here had audience of the King, with the
rest of the ambassadors, on the 31st ultimo, and as he left he told
Gondi that a courier had reached him just as he getting into the
coach to go to the audience, and it would, therefore, be necessary for
him to see the King again. An appointment was made for the 5th,
although, as I have said, he had seen the King with the rest of the
ambassadors, who had all been summoned for one day on the ground
that the King would not have time to receive any of them during the
next week. By this it may be concluded that he is willing enough
to receive the Englishman. If I can discover what passes I will
report. Letters dated the 25th advise that there was little hope of
the Commissioners being able to arrange anything in the way of
peace, as the duke of Parma was delaying matters, and the rebel
States had again sent deputies to England to show the Queen that
it would not suit her to negotiate peace with your Majesty, as your
only aim, and that of the duke of Parma, was to beguile her, and in
the meanwhile treat with some of the Dutch towns to obtain possession
of them. They recommend her to make the following conditions in
any negotiations for peace with Spain :—First, that the past shall
be forgotten ; second, that all foreigners should leave the country
(i.e., Flanders) ; third, that all offices should be filled by natives ;
and fourth, that liberty of conscience should be accorded. Even if
these terms be conceded, she must see what security the duke of
Parma would give for their fulfilment. To this the Queen replied
that she would settle nothing without letting them, the States,
know ; and with regard to the advice given as to terms, and the
security demanded, it was for the Queen to advise them and not
for them to advise the Queen. (fn. 10) They had better wait until the
conference commenced, and they would then see what they might
expect from her. She asked them (the deputies) to write to Holland,
begging that those who had been banished from Leyden for complicity
in the plot of the earl of Leicester to seize the country should
Letters from Scotland of 2nd, 8th, and 15th ultimo, state that the
king of Scotland had requested the earl of Huntly to bring before
him Father Gordon, of the Society of Jesus, which he did ; and the
King had a disputation with the Jesuit, particulars of which are
adjoined. The report of the discussion is from a letter written by
Father Creighton of the society. I hear that after the disputation
the King said, in his chamber, that Gordon did not understand the
scripture, which is a fairly bold thing to say, only that the King
has the assurance to translate "Revelations," and to write upon the
subject as if he were Amadis de Gaul himself.
There had been a meeting in Scotland on the matter referred to
in the enclosed advices. Last letters, of 15th, state that the earl of
Huntly, although he had been with the King in Edinburgh, at some
risk, had returned to the north.—Paris, 5th April 1588.
262. Statement of what passed between the King of Scotland
and Father Gordon, of the Society of Jesus.
On the 5th February the earl of Huntly was requested by the
King to send to him his uncle, Mr. James Gordon, of the Company
of Jesus, on the King's promise that no evil should happen to him,
but that he should be sent to some place of safety until the proper
time for sailing. On the 5th February he was sent to the King,
who received him kindly, lodged him in the palace, and ordered
Patrick Murray, gentleman of his chamber, to provide for him
everything he required.
After dinner the King disputed with him in his chamber on
controversial points of religion from 2 o'clock till 7, in the presence
of all his officers and the gentlemen of the Court as well as some of
the principal ministers, whom the King commanded not to speak.
The King proposed divers points, such as the invocation of the
saints, the communion sub utrusque specie, justification, and
predestination. Mr. Gordon replied to the long discourse of the
King. He (the King) is naturally eloquent, has a keen intelligence,
and a very powerful memory, for he knows a great part of the Bible
by heart. He cites not only the chapters but even the verses, in a
perfectly marvellous way. Mr. James (Gordon) replied briefly,
praising the King's good parts, and saying that no one could use
his arguments better, nor quote the Scriptures and other authorities
On two points the King was convinced and agreed with Mr. James,
as to justification and predestination, but he said that this was not
a papist doctrine, and that he (Gordon ?) would not sign his hand
to it. Mr. James replied that he would both write it and sign it ;
and was certain that all Catholic Princes would do likewise. He
(Gordon) did write and sign his adherence to the doctrine, and gave
it to his Majesty, whereupon the King said that Gordon would
never more dare to go back to the Jesuits or Papists, or they would
burn him for such a confession.
The preliminary speech the King made before the dispute was
very appropriate. Amongst other things, he said that, though he
was very constant in his beliefs, he was not so obstinate as to refuse
to submit to those who knew better than himself, and he thought
there were many persons who held heretical opinions out of simplicity
and want of understanding as to what they ought to believe. He
would not harm such people, he said, but would wait until it pleased
God to show them the truth.
263. Bernardino de Mendoza to the King.
I learn by the advices of Sampson and Vega that Don Antonio
went out of London for change of air, and Julio writes on
25th ultimo that they had caught him near Dover with Captain
Perrin (whom I know well), who was trying to get him out of
England. The Queen signified to Don Antonio that he placed very
little confidence in her promise that he should be safe in her country
if he wanted to leave it without her knowledge. She said he might
rest tranquil. She would not agree to anything prejudicial to him.
She ordered Perrin to be put into prison.
The new confidant caused me to delay this courier two days, in
the belief that the English ambassador was to have audience of the
King. As the audience has been deferred I think better not to
delay the courier longer, especially as it is improbable that anything
will be said, except what Julio writes to me the ambassador has
been instructed to reply to the King with regard to persuading
Bearn to become a Catholic.
It is asserted here that your Majesty has an understanding in
the ports of Brittany and Normandy, and that the Spanish fleet
will go thither. The new confidant assures me that this intelligence
was sent to the English ambassador by the King, with a message to
the effect that if that happened, with France in its present divided
condition, he (the ambassador) could easily imagine what would
happen to his Mistress. He begged the ambassador to write to the
Queen at once about it, and to point out to her how important it
was that Drake and the Admiral should put to sea immediately,
and encounter your Majesty's fleet in Spanish waters. If the
ambassador is not a simpleton, he will see easily now that the
French want to make England a catspaw.—Paris, 5th April 1588.
264. Duke of Parma to the King.
Since God has been pleased to defer for so long the sailing of the
Armada from Lisbon, we are bound to conclude that it is for His
greater glory, and the more perfect success of the business ; since
the object is so exclusively for the promotion of His holy cause.
The enemy have thereby been forewarned and acquainted with our
plans, and have made all preparations for their defence ; so that it
is manifest that the enterprise, which at one time was so easy and
safe, can only now be carried out with infinitely greater difficulty,
and at a much larger expenditure of blood and trouble.
I am anxiously awaiting news of the departure of the duke of
Medina Sidonia with his fleet, and am confident that your Majesty
will have taken care that the expedition shall be as strong and
efficient as is necessary in the interest of your service. I am sure
also, that your Majesty will have adopted all necessary measures
for the carrying out of the task of protecting my passage across, so
that not the smallest hitch shall occur in a matter of such vital
importance. Failing this, and the due co-operation of the Duke
with me, both before and during the actual landing, as well as
afterwards, I can hardly succeed as I desire in your Majesty's
The troops are in their places, and the infantry handy, as I have
already assured your Majesty, but the cavalry are much scattered,
as there was no more food for them anywhere nearer ; and I was
obliged to send them to Hainault and Tournoi. I have done, and
am doing everything I possibly can to keep them together, and in
good heart, knowing as I do how important it is in your Majesty's
interest, and how much depends upon it for me personally ; but
withal the infantry does not exceed 18,000 men, although some
Walloons who had gone to their homes are being brought back
I humbly beg your Majesty that this matter, so important in the
interest of God and your Majesty, shall not be lost sight of. Even
if they give me the 6,000 Spaniards from the Armada, as no doubt
it is intended to do, my force will still be weak, considering that
the enemy will be fully prepared, whilst the sickness and factions
that will occur will still further reduce my numbers. It is
important, therefore, that no delay or failure should occur on
this important point.
With regard to the peace negotiations, since the date of my last
despatch Secretary Garnier has returned from Ostend, where he was
made much of. On his attempting to come to some decision as to
the place for the first meeting, they (the English) requested that it
should be held in Ostend for the sake of appearances. But, as far
as could be gathered, they were still without decided instructions
from England, and it is probable that they may be delaying matters
for their own ends and to our prejudice. These delays are not
altogether unfavourable for your Majesty's objects. It is well that
people here, who are so anxious for peace, should see that the
English and not we are the cause of the delay. In the meanwhile
vigilance is being exercised everywhere, in case some evil design
should underlie it.—Ghent, 5th April 1588.