667. Pedro Lopez De Soto (to the Council of War?). (fn. 1)
At this season there are usually a large number of German and
Flemish hulks loaded with wine, oil, and salt, in Portugal and
Andalucia. As the English fleet is being increased, and Spanish
produce is very necessary for them (the English), it would be
advisable to embargo all the hulks, letting go the Germans, which
go round Ireland, and are therefore safe from the fleet, but detaining
all the others. The object of this would be twofold, first and
principally, to prevent the enemy from making use of the ships and
stores, and, secondly, to make use of them ourselves, if necessary. If
this be done it must be executed by trustworthy persons, swiftly and
resolutely, because the Governors in Portugal, and my master the
duke in Andalucia, will not like it, so that persons must be sent
specially from here, or the matter must be committed to disinterested
and faithful men on the spot. (fn. 2) It is not to be imagined that the
English fleet will come to Spain this year, even though they had
20,000 soldiers to land, besides 12,000 soldiers and sailors for the
ships, and ample supplies for all purposes. But it is nevertheless
very desirable that a show of preparation and arming should be
made on our side (which seem to have stopped as soon as the news
came that no fleet would be raised in England) ; and that forces
should be collected sufficient, both to gain a footing in England and
to defend this country. Thus, if the attack against England is
successful, we shall be able to reinforce our men, and if it be not
successful we should have a reserve.
As your Lordships are carrying on everything secretly, no one
is sure whether he is fully informed, so that I have no means of
knowing whether the opinions I express will be apposite or not.
Time is thus frittered away. I, for my part, have taken the plunge,
and plainly say what I think, seeking the best way out that I can
find. The only way out of all this confusion that I can see, is to
gain a footing in England this year. This is striking at the trunk ;
all the rest is simply climbing in the branches. All difficulties
disappear before resolute, courageous, and timely action. The stores
and men we can get together between now and the 10th August
will be sufficient to effect a landing during that month, and I feel
confident that if we go to Wales, which is only 40 leagues further
from Ferrol than Plymouth, and is a better place to land, we can
manage to avoid the fleet. This is borne out by all practical seamen.
Even if 300 (English) ships go to Milford, 15 days after we are
established there, and land 10,000 men, they will find the mouth of
the port defended, which can be done in two days, and the place
ready to repel attack from the sea. It is not to be expected that
they, the English, could, on such short notice, land a force capable of
battering the place on the land side, as we shall be strongly placed
and on the defensive. Besides this, the disposition of the land is in
our favour, so that the only thing to be feared is our delay in
deciding to take this course.
In any case it will be well to press forward energetically the
supplying of the fleet with stores, and to send constant instructions
to the places whence the stores are to come. Especially should the
guns from the Lisbon foundry be hurried forward, because with the
40 pieces (ordered?) we can arm the new galleons.
The council of war should consider and decide upon all points that
have been submitted about the fleet, and the Council of State should
take necessary action to provide the money, the troops, the siege
artillery, the cavalry, and especially to resolve upon the point where
we should land. This should be kept strictly in the breasts of your
Lordships, and that of the Adelantado.
Postscript.—If it is decided to land at Milford, it will be very
easy to send two regiments of Germans from Germany during
September, without the enemy's fleet being able to hinder us, if
proper arrangements be made. Munitions and stores can also be
brought from the Sound with great facility, in spite of the English.
—2nd July 1597.
Further postscript, dated 4th July 1597.
Don Cristobal (de Moura) told me yesterday, on the occasion of
his seeing the Count de Palma, that the Adelantado said that there
was no fleet or any possibility of going out and facing the enemy.
I promised his Lordship (Moura) to send him a true statement of
the fleet as it at present stands. It is sufficient for the purposes I
The Adelantado's general statement that he lacks everything, is
only his usual style of putting things. I set forth exactly what
there is, and what we can do. Of course, if we could re-inforce it
(i.e., the fleet) so much the better, but if we cannot, we must make
the best use we can of what we have got. The Adelantado knows
well how to do this, and will do it if he is given what is necessary.
—4th July 1597.
Note.—The statement of the Spanish fleet which accompanies the
above, contains the following particulars :—
The fleet will be ready to leave Ferrol by the middle of August,
and should effect a landing by the 8th September.
There are 93 ships, namely, 23 of 600 to 1,000 tons, 25 of 300
to 600 tons, 26 of 100 to 200 tons, and about 20 galley-pinnaces,
&c., of 50 to 100 tons.
Particulars are given of the supplies of biscuit, &c., available, and
the total number of men which the writer proposes to send in the
fleet, namely, 20,000 soldiers and 4,000 sailors. The total number
of ships proposed to be collected before the fleet sails is 110, of an
aggregate tonnage of 32,000 tons, with 70 pinnaces to land soldiers
rapidly. The writer refers to the accompanying letter with regard
to the question of the place of landing, and urges activity in
execution, and great liberality of expenditure, which he says will
668. Pedro Lopez De Soto to the King.
Gives particulars of a new sort of galley which he has invented,
capable of making long voyages to the Indies or Flanders, with
water for six weeks, bread for three months, and 17 pieces of
artillery. They will live through heavy weather as well as high-built
ships, which they will be able to accompany anywhere. They will
go much faster under oars than galleasses, but less than fast galleys ;
but as there are no enemy's galleys at sea to compete with us, speed
is not of so much consequence if they be as seaworthy as great
ships. If your Majesty had 30 of these galleys, you would be entire
master of the coast of France and England, as 4,000 men might be
thrown on shore unexpectedly at any point, and any place, however
large, may be sacked by such a force as that, if surprised. Twenty
might be kept at Calais, and dominate the whole Channel, stopping
the passing of Flemings, closing the traffic from Boulogne and Dieppe,
(i.e., to England), destroying the herring fishery, &c.
The writer offers to construct a specimen galley to demonstrate
the truth of what he says, if the King will lend him 7,000 ducats,
returnable within a year if the invention be not approved of.—
26th July 1598.