555. Bernardino De Mendoza to the King.
The copy of the letter enclosed (i.e., from Don Antonio) was given
to me by Sampson, as I advised David, who first placed it into my
hands, to deliver it to Escobar ; because, as it was written in cipher, I
told him it would be easier for him, David, to learn the contents from
Escobar, and then communicate them to me, than for us to decipher
the letter. He did as directed, and so David avoided arousing the
suspicion of the agent, who will now write to Don Antonio in a way
which will banish suspicion of David. (fn. 1)
I have given the latter 250 crowns for his past voyages and
present requirements, as well as to enable him to return to the side
of Don Antonio, as under the present circumstances no one could
report so effectually as to his movements as David. This will
especially be the case if he (Don Antonio) leaves England, as he
probably will, there being no person who can serve him as an
interpreter so well as David. He is certainly extremely zealous in
your Majesty's service, as witness the dangers he has incurred in his
journeys backwards and forwards. His present voyage will have to
be effected on foot in the garb of a poor man. He well deserves
some favour from your Majesty when he retires. I have told him
that if Bearn is far from Rouen he is not to go in search of him, but
to proceed on his way, as the most important thing is that he should
be near Don Antonio. I have given him full instructions as to how
he is to behave, and have written to Don Guillen de San Clemente, (fn. 2)
advising him to write to Hamburg and Dantzig for a good watch to
be kept for Portuguese there ; as Don Antonio may very probably
make the voyage thither. I also ask him to let me know who are
his (San Clemente's) agents in those ports, in order that I may tell
David, and he may point out Don Antonio to them, if he goes. God
did not spare David's nephew to go to the Archduke, for he died on
the voyage. They tell me that Don Antonio was never ill, but Diego
Botello very nearly died.
I am keeping Sampson here, because, although he cannot go to
England, he will be very useful in France if Don Antonio decides
to join Bearn, which David assures me he is most desirous of doing.
If I lost Sampson, it would not be possible to find another man so
appropriate ; besides which, if anything else should be required to be
done here for your Majesty's service, he has the ability and experience
to arrange it.—Paris, 27th August 1589.
556. Don Antonio, Prior of Ocrato, to Antonio De Escobar
(giving an account of the abortive attempt of the English
to restore him to the Throne of Portugal).
The end of it is, in short, that we have returned to this port of
Plymouth, which is a just recompense for my sins. I recollect very
often what you told me about an astrologer who said that a great
victory was in store for Philip, and I confess it has grievously
troubled me ever since. This fleet sailed from here to Corunna,
whither the Queen and Council had ordered it to go direct, (fn. 3) and
even if such orders had not been given, we were so short of provisions
in consequence of the haste with which we set out, for fear that the
Admiral and his colleagues would abandon the expedition, that we
could not have arrived in Lisbon direct. We landed at Corunna
and attempted to capture it, in which we were unsuccessful. This
not only embarrassed us, but caused the loss of men, and, above all,
brought upon us maladies which completed our ruin.
We left there and disembarked at Peniche, where the strong wines
of the country increased the sickness of the men ; and when we
arrived before Lisbon there were not enough men fit to attack a
boat, and our host was far more fit to die than to fight. We were
short of powder and firematch, and we had no battery artillery.
Sir Francis Drake's fleet remained at Cascaes, and refrained from
entering the river, I believe at the express command of the Queen, (fn. 4)
for otherwise I am sure Sir Francis would not have failed to do so ;
for he is full of valour and determined to place me in Lisbon, as
also was General Norris, who displayed very great bravery in the
expedition, as well as much generosity and assiduity, but the want
of so many things could not be overcome ; so that after we were full
of hope, and masters of the gates of Santa Catalina and San Roque,
we had to go to Cascaes, and there embarked with the intention of
going to the islands. But the weather was so contrary, and the
health so bad, that we were obliged to return to this port ; and that
is what has happened. I learn that you have had no letters from
me since you left London. I sent you a packet of letters, leaving
the address in the hands of Dr. Lopez, to hand to Stafford's wife, or
to the secretary, but the Doctor says he came across Manuel
Andrada, (fn. 5) who was going to Nantes ; he gave the packet to him, on
his promise to seek you and deliver the packet into your own hands.
Andrada now says that they captured him, and took the letter from
him in a certain place. This may be true, but I confess I doubt it.
I am very sorry you did not get the letter, which instructed you to
see the King (of France) and give him an account of my journey.
You will now visit the King in my name, and tell him of my
return, with such details as may be necessary. Express my hope
also that God will soon let him prevail over his enemies, both at
home and abroad, and say that I hope I may be the instrument for
doing so ; for I see clearly from what quarter all his troubles arise. (fn. 6)
Come if you can, as I have much to say which I cannot write. I
shall stay here until I have a message from the Queen. I am in
such a state of mind that I cannot talk, and hardly know what I
am saying ; but this I can assure you, that 4,000 Englishmen are
equal to 8,000 Spaniards, and whenever I can embark with them
again I shall gladly do so,‡ especially if Sir John Norris and Sir
Francis Drake be amongst them, for, by my faith ! they are gallant
gentlemen. Perhaps Manuel Andrada will take this letter, although
he is indisposed, but I know of no other person who can pass it
Offer the King my personal service, in all sincerity, and at very
small cost to him ; as, when the men have been dismissed here, I
could go with five companies. These particulars, however, are for
yourself. To the King you will simply make the offer with all
heartiness. You will, however, proceed in such a way as to leave
me free in any case, so that if these people (the English) treat me
well, I may stick on my rock, if I see it will be best to do so.
If you do not come, write me full particulars of affairs in France,
and of the King especially. I forgot to say our leaving here with
so much flourishing of trumpets, and the fact that Philip knew long
before that a great fleet was preparing, together with our going to
Corunna, were the cause of our ruin, and that of Portugal.
The power of the king of Castile is now so small there that
although he has in Lisbon 3,000 or 4,000 men, yet he could not send
out more than nine galleys with 1,200 men when we left Cascaes on
our voyage home. So that if we had gone direct to Lisbon, and
sickness had not scourged us as it did, we should have succeeded.
They beheaded Don Ruy Diaz (de Lobo) the day I arrived at
Lisbon, and captured Count Redondo and many others, who I doubt
not by this time are dead. There was a commencement of a
movement in my favour all over the kingdom, and there are many
details which I wish the world to know, but which cannot be put
into writing. Come to me and you shall learn all. I can assure you
that if I had to-day 6,000 men of my own choosing, and 500 horse,
I would joyously embark again if it depended upon me. That it
did not depend upon me before launched me upon my perdition.
The king of Navarre is said to be with the King. I send you a
letter of credence for him ; visit him in my name, and say I hope by
his help to be restored to my own. Give him the above confused
account of the expedition.
The bearer says he was robbed of a packet from me for you.
Note well the account he gives of it to you, and we will see whether
it agrees with what he tells me. I expect he opened it.
Note.—In the same packet as the above there is a list of all the
Portuguese gentlemen of rank who accompanied Don Antonio in his