716. Franquesa (Clerk of the Council of State) to the Duke Of
The Council has been sitting from six to ten considering the
papers delivered by earl O'Donnell. The Council thinks that his
zeal and loyalty should be highly praised, and that he should be
assured that his Majesty regards the Irish Catholics as his subjects.
He should be promised that forces should at once be raised to send
to the aid of Don Juan (del Aguila) if he be still able to hold out,
whilst if any accident should have happened to him, the aid shall
be landed where he (O'Donnell) thinks best.
As this army will have to be gathered in Lisbon and Coruña,
it will be well that, in order that he should see its preparation and
advise O'Neil of it for his encouragement, he (O'Donnell) should go
either to Lisbon or Coruña, and that in either of those places he
should be treated accordingly to his rank, and maintained by his
Majesty. He should have 1,000 ducats for the journey, including the
500 given to him here. The 500 already handed to the ensign who
accompanies him, or what is left of them, with the fresh 500 should
he handed to O'Donnell himself to spend, and the ensign relieved
of the duty, as he desires, excuses being given to O'Donnell at the
As O'Donnell wishes to see the son of O'Neil, who is studying at
Salamanca, a letter should be sent at once by the King's confessor
ordering him to be sent hither, where O'Donnell will await him.
After the interview he (O'Neil) will return.
The best way to raise 6,000 men rapidly will be to order the
strength of the Portuguese brigade to be raised to 3,000 men, and
the garrisons at Lisbon be drafted, their places being taken by the
troops from Estremadura. These forces, together with the men
under orders for Coruña, will bring up the strength to 6,000 who
are all to muster by 20th March.
The boats in all parts should be stayed, in order that those which
it is considered desirable may be taken.
His Majesty is asked to appoint the commander. Although
O'Donnell asks for the command to be given to the Adelantado,
and the Council of War think he will do as well as usual, the Council
of State thinks that this succour is hardly worthy to be led by so
great a soldier.
Your Excellency should decide all this to-night with his Majesty,
so that orders may be sent promptly. 13th February 1602.
A marginal note in the handwriting of the duke of Lerma says
that his Majesty has considered the above and approves of the
717. O'Sullivan Beare to Count Caracena. (fn. 1)
I received on the 11th instant your Lordship's letter of the 4th
and am rejoiced to learn that his Catholic Majesty welcomed so
kindly the Earl O'Donnell. The news your Lordship kindly sends
consoles me somewhat in my troubles, and I am very anxious
to serve you in all things, as you are so full of sympathy for my
poor country. With all frankness, then, I will tell you the present
state of warlike affairs here. All of us who took the part of the
King are on the verge of ruin, in consequence of the agreement
made by Don Juan del Aguila with the Viceroy, unless some
remedy be sent speedily by the King. By this agreement Don Juan
not only surrendered Kinsale to the English, but all the forts and
harbours held for his Majesty in the province of Munster ; together
with my own, which of my free unrestrained will I placed in the
keeping of General Zubiaur for as long as it might be of service
to his Majesty. If this place of mine be surrendered with the rest
to the enemy, all of us who are faithful to his Majesty in the
province of Munster will be lost, and the spirit of our people broken.
I, by God's grace, can serve his Majesty anywhere with a thousand
men, armed in our Irish fashion, and will muster them at my own
cost from my twenty leagues of well protected coast. But once my
castle, the chief stronghold of my land, is surrendered to the enemy,
I shall be reduced to such straits, that my people will follow my
castles, and the queen of England will get both.
I must take refuge in the woods, there to live miserably amongst
the wild beast, until some lure entraps me, and I am led to my
death. If his Majesty will prevent this I will hold my lands for
his Majesty until succour reaches me. I think your Lordship will
be moved with pity when you hear this, as the case is sad enough
to move any heart ; this handing over of thousands of Christians
because they are Catholics, to the mercy of the heretics, their deadly
enemies, to lose for ever the faith of their forefathers after sixteen
I would go in person to discuss this matter with your Lordship,
but that I fear in my absence more evil might happen. As I see
the great importance of the business, I have considered it necessary
to trouble you with so long a letter, whereby I trust his Majesty
may be led to send us succour and consolation. I leave all in your
Lordship's hands.—Bearhaven, 16 February 1602.
718. Statement and resolutions of the Council of State on Irish
Out of the nine ships with which General Zubiaur left Corunna
for Ireland on the 6th December last, three were separated from him
in a storm. One was wrecked on the coast of Brittany, one returned
to Galicia, and one was captured by the enemy. The remaining six
vessels arrived in Ireland, and finding the harbour of Kinsale
occupied by a large number of the Queen's ships, continued their
voyage in search of a place where they might anchor and obtain
intelligence. On the 11th December they entered the port of
Castlehaven, eight leagues beyond Kinsale to the north, and as the
lord of the castle there welcomed them, he being a Catholic and
adherent of his Majesty, the fleet anchored there, and 650 soldiers,
8 captains, with artillery, stores, etc. were landed.
Whilst they were there some of the enemy's ships from Kinsale
came to attack them, but thanks to the support of the castle, and
the artillery they had landed, they (the Spaniards) drove the enemy
away from the port.
Two other castles on the coast further north four leagues distant
from each other were then surrendered to the Spaniards. One is
called Baltimore and the other Bearhaven and the lords of the places
submitted to his Majesty.
Zubiaur learnt that Don Juan del Aguila was surrounded by land
and sea, and that the Earls were advancing to relieve him. They
requested Zubiaur to give them some men, and he granted them 200
of his soldiers, with three captains. The Earls engaged the enemy,
and were defeated. In view of this, and that the earl O'Donnell
came to him desirous of passing over to Spain, he, Zubiaur, embarked
him on one of the ships, and leaving the 400 or 450 men he had
remaining, distributed amongst the aforementioned castles, with the
stores, etc., all under command of Pedro Lopez de Soto ; Zubiaur
himself also sailed for Spain on the 6th January, and arrived in
Asturias on the 14th.
The verbal statement of Zubiaur, and the written reports of Pedro
Lopez de Soto, agree that Don Juan del Aguila is so closely beleaguered
by land and sea that he can only be relieved by a powerful fleet.
He is understood to have sufficient victuals to last into March. There
were 900 sick men in the place (Kinsale), and it was not a position
that could be defended.
Whilst Zubiaur was on his voyage to Spain with the Earl on the
2nd January, the five ships sailed from Lisbon under Captain
Vallecilla, with Don Martin de la Cerda and 200 soldiers, 5,000
quintals of biscuit, oil, vinegar, lead, and other stores. Three of
these ships put back to Spain in a storm, two to Galicia and one to
Santander, where they now are.
Vallecilla himself, with Don Martin arrived off Kinsale, but
finding the harbour full of ships, they anchored in the offing, until
they could obtain intelligence. Some boats with 11 men approached
them which they took, and learnt that the ships in port were enemies.
They thereupon set sail again for Spain, where they arrived on the
The eleven men above mentioned assert that Don Juan del Aguila
had made terms with the Viceroy ; but there is, up to the present,
no confirmation of this, except that Don Martin says it is true, as
they are respectable men, and all tell the same story. They assert
that they saw Don Juan dine with the Viceroy, (fn. 2) and had themselves
been inside Kinsale after the arrangement had been made.
Two despatch boats have been sent from Coruña to Ireland, at
intervals of a week, to obtain information. Their arrival with
intelligence is now expected, and in anticipation thereof the following
resolutions have been adopted :
That eight vessels of any sort that can be got together in Corunna
shall be at once loaded with all the victuals, munitions, etc. brought
back by the ships which separated from Vallecilla, and as much more
as they will hold, which Count Caraeena has been instructed to
obtain. There will also embark on these ships all the troops they can
carry, with the Maestre de Campo Estreban de Legorreta and some
officers. The ships will get everything ready to sail, and then await
further orders, which will depend upon the intelligence received.
The eight ships will be commanded by General Pedro de Zubiaur.
The cavalry, which was under orders to embark in Lisbon for
Ireland, is to remain quiet, the hulks which were to take it, and
Vallecilla's two ships are to sail at once for Coruña, with all the
victuals and munitions they can carry, The ship of Vallecilla's
squadron which put into Santander is also to sail for Coruña with
all the provisions she has. The "four towns," the province of
Guipuzcoa, and the lordship of Biscay, are to send twelve well-armed
pinnaces to Coruña. Ten companies of infantry newly raised are
also to march thither.
Count de Caracena is to embargo and collect in Coruña all the
ships on the coasts of Galicia and Asturias.
The "four towns," Biscay, and Guipuzcoa, are to send to Coruña
the smacks, pataches, and other vessels under 200 tons burden which
may be on their coasts ; and to collect all the men and victuals
possible, so that if Zubiaur's ships are successful they should be
followed and every possible effort be made to relieve Don Juan, and
hold the castles surrendered to Zubiaur. All ships belonging to his
Majesty in Audalucia, Lisbon, and Coruña, are to be made ready
with the utmost speed, Levies of seamen are to be made on all
the coasts of the realm. A regiment of Portuguese infantry is to be
raised, and the Marquis de Castel Rodrigo is instructed to use every
endeavour to increase it to 3,000 men.
When the 34 companies of infantry now being mustered leave
their districts, 40 fresh captains are to be chosen, and as many new
standards of infantry raised.
The Andalucian and Portuguese galleons are to be ready by the
end of March.
Twenty-five thousand quintals of buscuit are to be manufactured
in Andalucia, Lisbon, Coruña, and the coasts of Biscay, and
Guipuzcoa. Arms are to be distributed all along the coast, and
fresh arms at once provided for the new infantry levies.
The lance contingents of the prelates and nobles have been
warned for service. Reports are to be furnished from all parts of
the coasts of Spain of the ships and their tonnage. They are to be
fitted and made ready with all speed, so that if circumstances should
render it necessary, a powerful fleet and force of men should
proceed to the assistance of Don Juan del Aguila.—Valladolid,
21st February, 1602.
719. O'Sullivan Beare to Count Caracena.
Since writing to you I have learnt for certain that our lands,
harbours, and castles, which out of pure love and affection we
voluntarily delivered over to his Majesty's service, have now,
without battery or assault, been ignominiously surrendered to the
English heretics, our deadly foes, greatly to the dishonour of his
Majesty and injury to his royal service, and to the perpetual ruin
and destruction of thousands of his faithful servants in these parts.
In consequence of the carrying out of the terms agreed upon, I for
my own part, shall be dispossessed of 2,000 persons who followed
my leadership ; and I shall barely find 20 who will accompany me
to the woods and mountains, there to live like the wolves until the
English succeed in trapping us. The fear of this misery forces me,
for the safety of the child himself, to entrust my son and heir to the
sea, to be delivered to you, and kept for the service of your Lordship,
until you may present him at court. I thus desire also to
demonstrate my loyalty and steadfastness in the King's service, and
all my acts will be directed to this end for the rest of my life. If
my harbour and castle remained in my hands, I would venture at
my own cost to carry on the war, in his interest, with 1,000 men in
the field, besides defending the harbours in my dominions, where a
thousand of his Majesty's ships might safely ride. With my son I
send another boy (fn. 3) and two men. One of the men I desire to be
sent back by the first ship that sails ; the other and the boy may
remain with my son until we hear further from there.
The Irish chiefs and myself offered to victual Kinsale and the
other Irish fortresses until assistance arrived from his Majesty, if
they would stand firm and refuse the ignominious terms agreed to
by Don Juan del Aguila. (fn. 4) I have not been able to persuade my
wife to go to Spain, she is in such great fear of the sea, but I humbly
beg your Lordship in your goodness to help us by sending me a
little vessel to this or another castle called Ardle, which this pilot
knows well, so that in this way, I, my wife, and another son of
mine, may escape, and free ourselves from impious butchery by the
heretics.—Bearhaven 22nd February, 1602.