684. Report of the Council Of State to Philip III. on the
In accordance with your Majesty's orders to the Council, in reply
to the recommendation that the succession of the crown of England
should be secured for the Infanta, the Council has considered the
best means to be employed to that end, and has arrived at the
following conclusions :—
That your Majesty's decision should at once be conveyed to the
duke of Sessa, (fn. 1) and that he should be ordered to inform Father
Persons of it, and to say that your Majesty has been moved to
nominate the Infanta, both to meet the desires of the English
Catholics, who have always proposed her first, (fn. 2) and because his
Majesty is of opinion that such a nomination will be the most advantageous
one in the interest of God and welfare of Christendom, and
of England itself, in view of the parts and virtues of her Highness.
The duke of Sessa should confer with Father Persons, who is well
versed in the matter, as to the best way to convey this decision to
the Pope, in order to obtain, not his approval alone, but also his
influence in its favour with the Catholics. This, however, is conditional
upon the Duke's seeing no objection to this course. If he
thinks the proceeding unadvisable, he should be instructed to
inform your Majesty thereof. The greatest possible secrecy is to be
urged upon Father Persons, and the latter should also be consulted
as to the best means of informing the Catholics of the decision, in
order that only those should be taken into confidence who can be
trusted to promote the affair. It might be undesirable for it to
become known, and the question should be considered whether it
will be well to entrust the matter to one of the priests at Rouen
(possessing the necessary abilities) who have to go to England.
Cardinal Guevara and F. Gaspar de Cordoba are of opinion that the
adoption of this course would avoid the need for explaining the
matter here to Father Creswell, but the Commendador, Mayor de
Leon, and counts de Chinchon, Miranda, and Alba, see no objection
to his being informed, and would prefer that one of the two (Persons
or Creswell) should be the means of conveying the decision to the
The duke of Sessa should also be advised that your Majesty has
informed the Infanta and the Archduke of your resolution, and
will be glad that their Highnesses shall be kept well posted as to all
that is done in the matter ; as also should the ambassador, Don
Baltasar de Zuñiga, who has likewise been advised.
Your Majesty should write an autograph letter to their Highnesses,
informing them of your intentions, and authorising them to take
the necessary steps to promote the affair with all secrecy and
through confidential channels. If it be needful for them to open
their hands somewhat, they should also be authorised to promise
rewards in England, and they should be requested to communicate
all they do, and their opinions as to what should be done to attain
the object in view.
It was considered by the Council whether it would not be advisable
to send some more galleys to Flanders, but it is not clear how
this could be done, seeing how urgently the few we have are required
here. The best course will be to carry the Irish plan into effect, as
has been decided, for the reasons already laid before your Majesty.
The ambassador, Don Baltasar de Zuñiga, should be provided in
Flanders with 200,000 ducats, which he should be instructed to hold
in reserve against the queen of England's death, so that he may be
able promptly to provide troops, and whatever else may be needed,
for the successful carrying through of the business, which principally
depends on celerity of action at the proper time.
Count de Chinchon pointed out the injury which, in the course of
time, might accrue to this country if the States of Flanders should
be united to England, and suggested that an arrangement might
be made with their Highnesses to the effect that, if they were
established on the throne of England, the said States should be
re-ceded by them to this country, having regard to the sorrow
experienced in Flanders at the separation and the heavy burden
which has to be borne by the States to provide for their separate
The point was acknowledged to be a serious one, and, after discussion,
the members were unanimously of opinion that it would be
unadvisable for Flanders and England to be united, and that, in the
event of their Highnesses being peacefully installed as sovereigns of
the latter country, the States of Flanders should again belong to the
crown of Spain. It was considered that if England and Flanders
became one, the crown might, in time, fall to some unquiet and
ambitious person, who might greatly injure this country, and place
our Indian dominion in jeopardy ; and although there was nothing
to fear from their Highnesses themselves, it was impossible to forsee
what might happen after their time. There was a difference of views
as to the time when this point should be broached to their Highnesses,
the Commendador de Leon and count de Miranda being of
opinion that, since the eventuality of a juncture of England and
Flanders was so distant, the subject might be left until it approached ;
the necessary despatches on the subject being, however, sent to Don
Baltasar de Zuñiga with the sum of money above mentioned ; so
that everything might be ready for the moment when action was
required. Counts de Chinchon and Alba, cardinal Guevara, and
F. Gaspar de Cordova, thought it would be better to communicate
the point to their Highnesses at the same time as they were informed
of the King's decision, since nothing unreasonable was being
required of them. Besides which, the more distant the prospect
might be, the less would they be likely to regret it. F. Gaspar de
Cordoba suggested that if their Highnesses were loath to surrender
Flanders, they might retain possession during their lives, and the
dominion revert to Spain on their death. Count de Chinchon
added to this, that if their Highnesses had two children, one might
inherit England and the other Flanders, which he thought would be
better than for Flanders again to be incorporated with Spain.
Your Majesty will order as you think best.
It was decided that it would be better to say nothing to Father
Creswell until after the duke of Sessa and Father Persons had been
Cardinal de Guevara. The Father Confessor. Don Juan de
Idiaquez. Count de Miranda. Duke of Alba. Count de
685. Report of the Council Of State to Philip III. on letters
brought from Ireland by Don Martin de la Cerda.
The following is the substance of the letters :—
O'Neil and O'Donnell write that the letters delivered to them by
Don Martin had given them new spirit to continue the war against
the heretics ; but they are forced to say that this long struggle has
reduced them to great peril, as their property and vassals are
consumed, especially in consequence of the long delay in sending the
succour so frequently promised by your Majesty, by letters and
messengers. These promises alone have sustained them hitherto,
but if it fails them this year, they will despair, and they will be
unable to persuade their friends that the aid will arrive in time.
The enemies of the Church and your Majesty declare that you are
deceiving them, and it is very necessary that your Majesty should
help them liberally. The utmost they can do will be to wait five
months, and they pray you to send the expedition before the expiration
of that time, otherwise their strength will fail them, and they must
either forsake their country or accept the queen of England's terms.
In another letter, F. Matthew de Oviedo, archbishop elect of
Dublin, who went to Ireland with Don Martin, says your Majesty
has in Ireland the most faithful and loyal subjects that any king
can desire, and, if they were not already well disposed, they would
be worth making great efforts to obtain. The chiefs greatly grieve
at the delay in the arrival of aid, and although O'Neil and
O'Donnell exhibit great reasonableness, they cannot prevail with the
rest, as they have news that the enemy is about to attack them in
force by land and sea. They suspect that all our promises are only
entertainment. He (the archbishop) has encouraged them all he
can and they are now calmer, on his assurance that aid is coming to
them. They can hold out five months, but no longer. At least
they expect money to help their people. In order that your Majesty
may understand the devotion of these people to you, the archbishop
relates that O'Neil had almost gained the earl of Essex, the Queen's
commander, to leave her side and join your Majesty, surrendering
the country to you on the promise of great favours in your
Majesty's name, and O'Neil gave him his own son as hostage. The
Earl did not carry out the arrangement, out of suspicion of your
Majesty, in consequence of certain acts of his against Spain some
time ago. (fn. 3)
Over sixty chiefs gathered to receive the chains and portraits,
which they did with great ceremony, saying they would wear no
other chains or yoke than those of your Majesty. They were very
grateful for the arms and munitions sent to them. He begs your
Majesty to consider the great importance of the affair, for with
6,000 men the war might be ended and the insolence of England
and Flanders restrained.
Don Martin de la Cerda put in writing some questions to them,
about the harbours there, the number of troops needed, the stores,
facilities for the transport of guns, &c. They replied that they have
harbours capable of receiving your Majesty's fleet, that they had
stores for the 5,000 or 6,000 men who would be necessary. They
have horses to draw the guns, but no traces, &c. They have plenty
of baggage horses for the munitions, but no carts. They have mounts
for the cavalry. The Queen's harbours are not strong. In case
your Majesty sends the expedition, they (the Irish) will raise
20,000 footmen and 1,000 horsemen, all well furnished.
Don Martin has also set forth in a, memorandum the great
advantage which would redound to your Majesty's service by the
carrying out of the enterprise, but as the faet is obvious, it is
needless to trouble your Majesty with his arguments.
The Council reports that it will be very advantageous to send the
aid to the Irish Catholics, and do to the Queen what she does to his
Majesty by helping the Flemish rebels.
It is impossible at present to send a fleet, but in the meanwhile it
has already been decided to collect 20,000 ducats, and 4,000 quintals
of biscuit, with some arms and munitions. The marquis of Poza
should be instructed to provide the necessary funds without delay ;
because, although his Majesty has given the orders and the Marquis
has been applied to, he had not delivered the money, saying that his
Majesty had given no orders to him to do so in any form. The
Council urgently recommends that no time should be lost in sending
the partial aid agreed upon.
686. Report of the Council Of State to Philip III. on letters
from the duke of Sessa, in Rome, of 11th May and 12th June,
containing information and advice from Father Persons.
The queen of England will not live long, and they (the English
Catholics) beg your Majesty to declare yourself in the matter of the
succession. If your Majesty will take action in time, not only
Catholics, but also many heretics, &c., will flock to your side, even
the principal councillors, such as the Admiral, the Lord Treasurer
and Secretary Cecil.
If this opportunity be lost and the heretics unbridled, all the
northern powers will fall upon Spain and the Indies.
Your Majesty's decision may be conveyed in confidence to the
archpriest and general of the Jesuits in England, (fn. 4) so that it may be
published at the proper time.
As your Majesty will not take the country for yourself, they
propose, in the first place, for the succession, the Infanta Isabel ; in the
second, the duke of Savoy, (fn. 5) who, being a widower, might marry
Arabella Stuart, who is a Catholic and has many friends ; in the
third place, the duke of Parma (fn. 6) or his son ; in the fourth place, the
son of the earl of Worcester, an English Catholic of good parts, who,
although he has no claim to the crown, might marry the daughter of
the earl of Derby.
They greatly prefer the Infanta, as the forces of Flanders are
handy, and if your Majesty would aid the Catholics of Ireland and
gain possession of that county, you might do as you liked in
England. If your Majesty does not want Ireland for yourself, you
might give it to the earl of Tyrone, under tribute.
The Council discussed the matter at length, and agreed as to the
advisability of deciding forthwith the course to be pursued on the
death of the Queen, and to have everything ready for what has to
be done on such an eventuality, for fear the Catholics, finding
themselves without a head, may rally to the king of Scotland, in
which case things would be worse than ever.
It is agreed that the first thing is to exclude utterly from the
succession the kings of Scotland and France. It is needless to
trouble your Majesty with the reasons for this, as they are obvious.
With regard to the duke of Savoy, the duke of Parma, his brother,
the Cardinal, and the English claimants proposed, it appears that it
will be inadvisable to admit them, or to exclude any of them
expressly. The door should left open, in case your Majesty's own
claimant should fail.
The advisability of the crown's falling to your Majesty or the
Infanta was discussed, and all agreed (except cardinal Sandoval)
with the late King's opinion, that the two crowns of England and
Spain should not be joined, but that the Infanta should take your
Majesty's place in England, in union with the Archduke. (The
arguments in favour of this course are given in full.)
The duke of Sessa should be unreservedly informed of your
Majesty's decision in confidence. He may continue to hint to the
Pope the interest your Majesty has in England, the importance of a
Catholic succeeding, and the country being converted, &c., and the
Duke must use his own discretion as to how far he is to go in this,
according to his Holiness' attitude.
The answer to be given to Father Persons may also be left to the
Duke. We here are of opinion that Persons may be told, as was
before resolved, that your Majesty would nominate a Catholic
sovereign, and had decided upon the person, and the Duke might
add, as if of his own motion, that he suspected it would be the
Infanta, as they desire her, and her virtuous life and gifts render
her especially fitting, particularly as the forces of Flanders are
handy to England, &c.
As in a matter of this sort, right is the least important element
in the claim, although it is necessary, in order to justify the
employment of force, the Council is of opinion that financial points
should at once be considered, and that a decision should be promptly
adopted, whilst the forces of Flanders and the fleet should be made
ready, so that on the very day the Queen dies a movement made
from both sides simultaneously, in favour of the object aimed at.
At the same time the Irish Catholics should be supported, and even
in the case of peace (i.e., between England and Spain) being concluded,
they should be left out, in order that you might continue
to aid them secretly to make war upon the Queen.—Madrid,
11th July 1600.
Note.—In another report of the Council of State, dated 2nd
September 1600, on a letter from Father Creswell asking for a
decision on the subject of the succession, the Council say that the
King replied to the above report to the effect that the affair was so
grave as to need very patient consideration. In the report of the
2nd September, the Council again urges the King to resolve.
687. Report of the Council Of State to Philip III. on Ireland.
The Council have considered your Majesty's reply to the report
herewith, and Don Juan de Idiaquez has explained that his reasons
for thinking that it would be well to undertake the Irish enterprise
this year are as follows.
From the last advices received from there as to the state of affairs
the enterprise may be looked upon as easy and safe.
Your Majesty would gain enormously in prestige by conquering
a kingdom thus unexpectedly.
The bridle which the possession of Ireland by your Majesty would
put upon England and the northern powers, would enable you to
divert them from all other points of attack, and prevent them from
molesting Spain, the Indies, &c. It would also enable you to make
good terms of peace and recover the Flemish fortresses held by the
English for the rebels.
In case of the Queen's death, your Majesty, as master of Ireland,
would be in a greatly improved position to nominate a successor
to the English crown. The rest of the Council agree with Don
Juan, but express doubts with regard to the financial possibility,
the time, moreover, being so short, and they fear it will be impossible
to send the expedition this year. They think it will be best to
encourage the Irish, and keep them in hand, by sending them
without delay the money, biscuits, &c., already agreed upon, and,
in accordance with your Majesty's instructions, to endeavour to
relieve their present distress at once. At the same time preparations
should be made, both by land and sea, in Flanders and here,
to be ready to execute what may be necessary for the future.
688. Report of the Council Of State to Philip III. on the Irish
The Council have considered at length the papers your Majesty
has sent them on the Irish expedition, and thank your Majesty for
the decision you have arrived at on the matter, a decision such
as was fitting to your Majesty's grandeur and Catholicity, &c., &c.
The first difficulty that presents itself is that of time, as the fitting
out of the necessary ships, the raising and preparing of the men,
arms, stores, &c., and the sum they will have to carry with them
to pay the troops (150,000 ducats at least) will all have to be done
within six weeks at most from this date, as to send the expedition
later would be to run great risk of losing it.
The next difficulty is that of money, which to a great extent
depends upon that of time. It is greatly to be feared that the sum
required cannot be raised within the period named. The affair is,
however, of such immense importance in your Majesty's interests
that no effort must be spared to overcome the difficulty and to
collect the money without delay. The longer we are without the
money, the less time for the work. The Council recommends that
a copy of the papers brought by Don Martin de la Cerda should
be sent to the Adelantado, who should be asked to furnish at once
a detailed report of everything that will be needed for the expedition
and an estimate of the money necessary for the purpose. The duke
of Lerma to be requested to send to Esteban de Ibarra for a
statement of the troops, arms, stores, and ships, available in Terceira
Andalusia, Spain, Italy, &c. (fn. 7) Officers and captains should be
selected and warned for service. Your Majesty had authorised the
sending to Ireland of 20,000 ducats and 4,000 quintals of biscuit
to enable them to hold out. As they said they could keep up for
five months, the Council recommend that this aid be now kept back
until the main expedition goes.
If in spite of every effort the succour cannot be despatched this
year, the preparations should still be actively continued, so that it
may be ready when time comes when it can sail. The Council
will in the meanwhile consider who is to go with it.
The King (Philip III.), in an autograph note to the above recommendations,
says that "As the expedition is so entirely for the glory
of Almighty God all difficulties to it must be overcome somehow.
The greatest energy and diligence must be exercised on all hands.
I will find money for it, even if I have to sacrifice what I need for
my own person, so that it may go this year. Decide everything
without delay. Get statements of all that will be needed and
send them immediately to me. Do not wait to send to the
Adelantado. I will give orders for the immediate collection of
money sufficient to send a force of 6,000 men. In the meanwhile
send instantly by Don Martin de la Cerda the 20,000 ducats and
the 4,000 quintals of biscuit."