June 1590


Institute of Historical Research



Martin A. S. Hume (editor)

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'Simancas: June 1590', Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 4: 1587-1603 (1899), pp. 581-585. URL: Date accessed: 17 April 2014. Add to my bookshelf


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June 1590

1 June.
Estado, 839.
595. Charles Boyd to the King.
In order not to trouble your Majesty with many words, and in pursuance of the orders of Don Juan de Idiaquez, I limit myself to handing to your Majesty the statement entrusted to me by one person in the name of many ; and I beg your Majesty to give me a written reply for that person, so that he may know that I have fulfilled my mission as a Catholic Christian should do.—Madrid, 1st June 1590.
596. Statement brought by Charles Boyd, Scotsman, who left Scotland on the 6th April and arrived in Madrid, 29th May 1590 :—
On the 26th March a letter arrived in Scotland from Denmark, which had been written by the king of Scotland to the earl (?) of Lennox, respecting the agreement which had been made between the kings of Scotland and Denmark, by which the latter was to aid the former with all his power in his pretensions to the crown of England. The king of Scots relates that he has sent his prothonotary to the queen of England, to offer her the alliance of himself and the king of Denmark, against the king of Spain, on the following terms :—
First, that the queen of England should at once acknowledge the king of Scots as her heir, and have allegiance sworn to him.
He will then defend her against Spain, and after seeing the result of the Armada which they say is being sent to the north, he will send Scottish and Danish ambassadors to treat for a peace between the allied powers of England, Scotland, and Denmark, and the king of Spain. Lennox is instructed to convey this only to the English ambassador in Scotland, in order that he may represent to his mistress the advantages of such an arrangement both to her and her church. The prince of Navarre (i.e., Henry IV.) will also enter into the confederacy.
When this letter was received, the earl of Lennox had it read to the English ambassador, who replied that he had already advised his mistress that the prothonotary of the King would negotiate well in London ; but he (the ambassador) would send another dispatch, setting forth the affection and goodwill of the king of Scotland towards her, and how so good an arrangement had been made about the ministers of religion, which would be very advantageous both to Scotland and England.
The above circumstances have so emboldened the Calvinists of Scotland against the Catholics, that they are devising a new plan for making the latter conform to their sect, by making it impossible for them to inherit or hold property. They especially begun to molest the Earl of Angus, and have ordered him, under pain of imprisonment to deliver his eldest son to them ; he now being hidden in his house, having recently returned from his studies in France. They have already deprived this heir of Angus, and all other Catholics, of the succession to estates or property of any kind in the kingdom. In pursuance of this they were only awaiting the arrival of the King in Scotland to sign a new decree, enacting very heavy penalties against Catholics, unless they conform to the sect. All Catholics are to remain in the court and are to be kept in the castle when ordered, so that they may give no support or countenance to the Catholic faith. The said Catholics, persuaded of the utter ruin which will befall the Christian cause and themselves, as a consequence of this confederacy, and the oppression they will suffer in person and estate, have secretly but firmly determined to devote themselves and all they possess to the promotion of the only possible remedy for their ills, which must be adopted by your Majesty against the said confederacy. This they swear to fulfil, whether the said confederacy is effected or not ; and they wish to be made secretly acquainted with your Majesty's wishes, in order that they may the more effectually put their hands to the task of their deliverance.
They wish to call attention to the danger your Majesty will incur, if this sectarian league be concluded ; and I am entrusted verbally with their views on this point, which are as follows :—
1. If the terms of peace proposed by their (the Northern powers) ambassadors be not granted (by Spain), England, supported by Scotland, will endeavour to usurp the Indies or the products thereof, and to injure all parts of Spain, as the Calvinists are already proclaiming loudly their intention of doing.
2. That no provision of any sort will go from Denmark to Spain, such as wheat, wood, oars, and many other things necessary for navigation.
3. That they will help the Prince of Navarre to subject France to his rule.
4. That they intend—which God in His mercy forbid—to wholly extirpate the Catholic faith.
It is again humbly urged upon your Majesty, that the name of the person who sends this statement be not revealed, in view of the injury which would ensue both to your Majesty's interests and theirs (the Scottish Catholics.) An answer is prayed for, to be sent by the bearer, so that they may be able to fulfil their oath ; and not have to employ any person who is not a firm Catholic, and apt in the management of such an affair as this, in which are involved the life and honour of many gentlemen. Aranjuez 29 May 1590. Carlos Boyd.
Note.—In another note Boyd gives for the King's information the scraps of intelligence he had picked up on his voyage, at Yarmouth, Havre, and elsewhere, respecting the movements of English ships. (fn. 1)
S.D. Paris Archives, K. 1572. 597. Instruction given to Antonio Rodriguez de Lucerna, (fn. 2) by certain Spanish prisoners in England to treat for their release.
First he is to go to Morlaix, and endeavour to see the Spaniard who, they understand, has been sent thither for the purpose of arranging the business. He is then to accompany him to the duke (de Mercœur) and deliver to him the letters he bears, praying the Duke to make every effort to rescue them, as they are in dire danger. If the Duke be too far off for the messenger to see him personally, the latter is to treat with the Spanish gentleman who has been sent ; and find out whether his powers and instructions are sufficient to obtain their liberation. Tell him that they were captured whilst on his Majesty's service, and that all the rest of the Spanish prisoners have been released ; only they who are in the keeping of Sir William Courteney remain. This is from no fault of theirs. If the Spaniard in question has been accredited to the corporation of the town of Morlaix, the messenger is to inquire who are the richest members, and urge them to take the matter in hand. If the Spaniard be accredited to some private person, the messenger is to beg him for the love of God to get the prisoners set free, even though he may have to somewhat exceed his instructions in doing so, and if he likes he may keep them in France or elsewhere, until the King is informed and confirms his action.
15 June
Paris Archives, K. 1572.
598. Statement of the Spanish prisioners in England in the custody of Sir William Courteney.
They came on the hulk "San Pedro el Mayor" in the squadron of Don Juan Gomez de Medina. After they had sailed round the islands of England, Scotland, and Ireland, they were pursued by continual tempests ; they were in want of food, and the ship was unseaworthy, and on the 6th November, 88, was driven ashore and wrecked at a place called Hope, belonging to Sir William Courteney, who asked the queen of England to allow him to keep them as his prize. She gave him permission to select 15 Spaniards for his own. A commissioner was subsequently sent by the duke of Parma to ransom the prisoners ; and he took all of them away from England except the 15 belonging to Courteney. They complained to the commissioner of his not ransoming them as he did the rest. He excused himself by saying that the Queen had given them to Courteney for his profit by their ransom, whereat they were very sad and discontented. Some months afterwards a patache arrived at the port of Morlaix in Brittany with a Bascayner captain named Domingo de Ochoa, who sent a Breton to England to seek out these prisoners, and to say that he had been sent by the duke of Mercœur to ransom them ; inquiring especially for Friar Rodrigo Calderon and Alvaro de Castro, in order to learn whether the prisoners were still alive, and whether their owner would give them up for ransom.
When Sir William Courteney learnt this from his prisoners, he being as eager to get their ransom as they were to get their liberty, agreed to release one of their number Antonio Rodriguez de Lucerna, (fn. 3) who is the man that has now arrived here at Nantes to see the duke de Mercœur about it, having come from Morlaix and Blois hither. They bring two letters from the Spaniards to the Duke which are enclosed herewith. (fn. 4) The Englishman who accompanied the messenger as far as Morlaix was afraid of coming hither as he thought it would not be safe. Antonio Rodriguez de Lucerna says that Sir William Courteney asks for the ransom of the prisoners whom he has treated well, 20,000 crowns. This is, however, of course out of the question. As the duke of Mercœur is not at present here, Antonio Rodriguez has decided to write to the Englishman at Morlaix that the Duke is away in the field, but he has learnt that the basis upon which he was willing to treat for their liberation was the same as that adopted by the duke of Parma for the ransom of the rest, namely, 100 crowns for captains, 50 crowns for ensigns, and 15 to 20 for other officers and soldiers. As this was the price given for the rest, it was not just that they should be valued higher, (fn. 5) since they are no better soldiers, nor of higher rank, nor richer than their comrades. On the contrary, they are poor men, entirely without means to ransom themselves, except the pity and bounty of his Majesty. They beg that if Sir William Courteney should be willing to treat for their release on this basis, he will write to Don Diego Maldonado, who is in Nantes, sending the letter through the governor of Morlaix. Antonio Rodriguez did not write before to-day, 15th June, as there was no opportunity of sending the letter. (Here follow the names of the 14 Spanish prisoners in question.)
21 June.
B.M. Lansdowne 63.
599. Don Alonso De Luzon And His Companions to Lord Burghley.
Having been brought from Ireland to this city, at the beginning of last year, by order her Majesty the Queen, and delivered to the keeping of Sir Horatio Pallavicini, on behalf of M. de la Noue, to whom her Majesty had assigned us, in order that he might, by exchanging us, obtain the release of his son, M. de Teligny, a prisoner in Flanders, we, with the consent of the Council, and at great expense, sent an Italian to our King to beg him to take the matter in hand on our behalf. His Majesty granted us this favour, and sent instructions to the duke of Parma to conclude the arrangements for our release, and also for that of the prisoners in Zeeland. The Council was of opinion that the best way of arriving at an agreement was to give permission to Don Rodrigo Lasso to go to Flanders, and treat of the business. Don Rodrigo having duly returned to this country four months since, continued the negotiations through Sir Horatio Pallavicini. In consequence of the absence of the latter, Secretary Walsingham deputed Dr. Gernes to carry on the negotiations, but during the interim Secretary Walsingham died, and nothing further was done in the matter. We now learn by the letter of Don Diego Pimentel, which your Lordship has sent us, that the duke of Parma had determined to send representatives to Zeeland to negotiate with Count Maurice for his (Don Diego Pimentel's) release. As his affair and ours are practically the same, we beg your Lordship to favour us by sending someone to Zeeland to represent her Majesty the Queen in these negotiations. We should be very thankful if your Lordship would also appoint some other person with whom we may communicate on the subject, and give permission for Don Rodrigo Lasso to go and submit to your Lordship certain particulars of which we believe you are unaware.
From this house, 21 June, 1590. (London).
Don Alonso de Luzon, Don R. Niño y Lasso, Don Luis de Cordoba, Don Gonzalo Fernandez de Cordoba. (fn. 6)


1 A letter accompanies the above papers, in the form of a testimonial from Don Gaspar de Villanova y Perues, saying that Boyd had served as his clerk for many years, was a good Catholic, and a worthy man. He begs the King to favour him in the matters he has in hand.
2 A certificate of the good conduct of this soldier signed by his sergeant Bartolome Cano accompanies these instructions. A full list of the names of the prisoners from the hulk "San Pedro el Mayor," held by Sir William Courteney, is in State Papers CCXVIII. (printed in Laughton's Defeat of the Armada), with their estimated ransom.
3 The name of this man is not given in the list at the Record Office. As he was only a private soldier, he is probably included in those (67 in number) who are of too humble a condition to pay any ransom.
4 The two letters, one from all the prisoners, and the other from Friar Rodrigo Calderon (who wrote all the documents) are in the same packet as the above. The latter man was the brother of Coco Calderon the chief purser.
5 In the document already referred to in the Record Office, the offers made by the p oners themselves in November 1588, were much lower than this. The highest individual ransoms then offered were for Friar Rodrigo Calderon, 80 ducats, and 75 each for the two brothers de Castillo, gentlemen adventurers.
6 These were the principal gentlemen who had been spared for ransom from the slaughter of their fellows from the "Valencera," in Ireland.