Francis Bacon.

The works of Francis Bacon, baron of Verulam, viscount St. Alban, and lord high chancellor of England (Volume 3) online

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secret promises, and cared not for any head of party.

512 Of a War with Spain.

And this was the true reason, why after that the semi-
naries began to blossom, and to make missions into
England, which was about the three and twentieth
year of queen Elizabeth, at what time also was the
first suspicion of the Spanish invasion, then, and not
before, grew the sharp and severe laws to be made
against the papists. And therefore the papists may
do well to change their thanks; and whereas they
thank Spain for their favours, to thank them for their
perils and miseries if they should fall upon them : for
that nothing ever made their case so ill as the doubt of
the greatness of Spain, which adding reason of state
to matter of conscience and religion, did whet the
laws against them. And this case also seemeth, in some
sort, to return again at this time ; except the clemency
of his majesty, and the state, to superabound ; as for
my part I do wish it should ; and that the proceedings
towards them may rather tend to security, and provi-
dence, and point of state, than to persecution for reli-
gion. But to conclude ; these things briefly touched,
may serve as in a subject conjectural and future, to re-
present how just cause of fear this kingdom may have
towards Spain : omitting, as I said before, all present
and more secret occurrences.

The third ground of a war with Spain, I have set
down to be, a just fear of the subversion of our church
and religion: which needeth little speech. For if this
war be a defensive, as I have proved it to be, no man
wilt doubt, that a defensive war against a foreigner
for religion is lawful. Of an offensive war there is
more dispute. And yet in that instance of the war
for the Hold Land and sepulchre, I do wonder some-
times, that the schoolmen want words to defend that,
which S. Bernard wanted words to commend. But I,
that in this little extract of a treatise do omit things
necessary, am not to handle things unnecessary. No
man, I say, will doubt, but if the pope or king of
Spain would demand of us to forsake our religion upon
pain of a war, it were as unjust a demand, as the Per-
sians made to the Grecians of land and water ; or the
Amorites to the Israelites of their right eyes. And we

Of a War with Spain. 513

see all the heathen did stile their defensive wars, pro
aris ctfocis ; placing their altars before their hearths.
So that it is in vain of this to speak farther. Only this is
true ; that the fear of the subversion of our religion
from Spain is the more just, for that all other catholic
princes and states content and contain themselves to
maintain their religion within their own dominions,
and meddle not with the subjects of other states;
whereas the practice of Spainhath been, both in Charles
the Fifth's time, and in the time of the league in France,
by war; and now with us, by conditions of treaty, to
intermeddle with foreign states, and to declare them-
selves protectors general of the party of catholics,
through the world. As if the crown of Spain had a
little of this, that they would plant the pope's laws by
arms, as the Ottomans do the law of Mahomet. Thus
much concerning the first main point of justifying the
quarrel, if the king shall enter into a war; for this that
1 have said, and all that followeth to be said, is but to
shew what he may do.

The second main part of that I have propounded to
speak of, is the balance of forces between Spain and
us. And this also tcndeth to no more, but what the
king may do. For what he may do is of two kinds :
what he may do as just ; and what he may do as pos-
sible. Of the one I have already spoken; of the other
I am now to speak. I said, Spain was no such giant;
and yet if he were a giant, it will be but as it was be-
tween David and Goliath, for God is on our side. But
to leave all arguments that are supernatural, and to
speak in an human and politic sense, I am led to think
that Spain is no over-match for England, by that which
leadeth all men ; that is, experience and reason.
And with experience I will begin, for there all reason

Is it fortune, shall we think, that, in all actions of
war or arms, great and small, which have happened
these many years, ever since Spain and England have
had any thing to debate one with the other, the English
upon all encounters have perpetually come off with
honour, and the better? Jt is not fortune sure; she


514- Of a War wM Spain.

is not so constant. There is somewhat in the nation
and natural courage of the people, or some such thing.
I will make a brief list of the particulars themselves
in an historical truth, no ways strouted, nor made
greater by language. This were a fit speech, you will
say, for a general, in the head of an army, when they
were going to battle : yes ; and it is no less fit speech
to be spoken in the heacl of a council, upon a delibe-
ration of entrance into a war. Neither speak I this to
disparage the Spanish nation, whom I take to be of
the best soldiers in Europe ; but that sorteth to our
honour, if we still have had the better hand.

In the year 1578, was that famous lammas day,
which buried the reputation of Don John of Austria,
himself not surviving long after. Don John being su-
perior in forces, assisted by the prince of Parma,
Mondragon, Mansell, and other the best commanders
of Spain, confident of victory, charged the army of the
States near Rimenant, bravely and furiously at the first ;
but after a fight maintained by the space of a whole
day, was repulsed, and forced to retreat, with great
slaughter of his men ; and the course of his farther
enterprises was wholly arrested ; and this chiefly by
the prowess and virtue of the English and Scotish
troops, under the conduct of Sir John Norris and Sir
Robert Stuart, colonels : which troops came to the
army but the day before, harassed with a long and
wearisome march ; and, as it is left for a memorable
circumstance in all stories, the soldiers being more
sensible of a little heat of the sun, than of any cold
fear of death, cast away their armour and garments
from them, and fought in their shirts : and, as it was
generally conceived, had it not been that the count of
Bossu was slack in charging the Spaniards upon their
retreat, this fight had sorted to an absolute defeat.
But it was enough to chastise Don John for his insi-
dious treaty of peace, wherewith he had abused the
States at his first coming. And the fortune of the day,
besides the testimony of all stories, may be the better
ascribed to the service of the English and Scotish, by
comparison of this charge near Rimenant, where the

Of a War with Spain. 515

English and Scotish in great numbers came in action,
with the like charge given by Don John half a year
before at Glemblours, where the success was contrary:
there being at that time in the army but a handful of
English and Scotish, and they put in disarray by the
horsemen of their own fellows.

The first dart of war which was thrown from Spain
or Rome upon the realm of Ireland, was in the year
1580; for the design of Stukely blew over into Afric;
and the attempt of Saunders and Fitz Maurice had a
spice of madness. In that year Ireland was invaded
by Spanish and Italian forces, under the pope's ban-
ner, and the conduct of San Josepho, to the number
of 700 or better, which landed at Smerwick in Kerry.
A poor number it was to conquer Ireland to the pope's
use ; for their design was no less : but withal they
brought arms for 5000 men above their own company,
intending to arm so many of the rebels of Ireland.
And their purpose was, to fortify in some strong place
of the wild and desolate country, and there to nestle
till greater succours came; they being hastened unto
this enterprise upon a special reason of state, not pro-
per to the enterprise itself; which was by the invasion
of Ireland, and the noise thereof, to trouble the coun-
cil of England, and to make a diversion of certain aids,
that then were preparing from hence for the Low
Countries. They chose a place where they erected a
fort, which they called the Fort de /'Or; and from
thence they bolted like beasts of the forest, sometimes
into the woods and fastnesses, and sometimes back
again to their den. Soon after siege was laid to the
fort by the lord Gray, then deputy, with a smaller
number than those were within the fort ; venturously
indeed ; but haste was made to attack them before the
rebels came in to them. After the siege of four days
only, and two or three sallies, with loss on their part,
they that should have made good the fort for some
months, till new succours came from Spain, or at least
from the rebels of Ireland, yielded up themselves
without conditions at the end of those four days. And
for that they were not in the English army enough to

L 1 2

Of a War with Spain.

keep every man a prisoner, and for that also the de-
puty expected instantly to be assailed by the rebels -,
and again, there were no barks to throw them into
and send them away by sea ; they were all put to the
sword ; with which queen Elizabeth was afterwards
much displeased.

In the year 1582, was that memorable retreat of
Gaunt ; than the which there hath not been an exploit
of war more celebrated. For in the true judgment
of men of war, honourable retreats are no ways infe-
rior to brave charges ; as having less of fortune, more
of discipline, and as much of valour. There were to
the number of three hundred horse, and as many thou-
sand foot English, commanded by Sir John Norris,
charged by the prince of Parma, coming upon them
with seven thousand horse ; besides that the whole
army of Spaniards was ready to march on. Neverthe-
less Sir John Norris maintained a retreat without dis
array, by the space of some miles, part of the way
champaign, unto the city of Gaunt, with less loss of
men than the enemy: the duke of Anjou, and the
prince of Orange, beholding this noble action from
the walls of Gaunt, as in a theatre, with great admi-

In the year 1585, followed the prosperous expedi-
tion of Drake and Carlile into the West Indies, in the
which I set aside the taking of St. Jago and St. Do-
mingo in Hispanio^a, as surprises rather than encoun-
ters. But that of Carthagena, where the Spaniards
had warning of our coming, and had put themselves
in their full strength, was one of the hottest services,
and most dangerous assaults that hath been known.
For the access to the town was only by a neck of land,
between the sea on the one part, and the harbour water
or inner sea on the other ; fortified clean over with a
strong rampier and barricade ; so as upon the ascent
of our men, they had both great ordnance and small
shot, that thundred and showered upon them from the
rampier in front, and from the galleys that lay at sea
in flank. And yet they forced the passage, and won
the town, being likewise very well manned. As for

Of a War with Spain.

the expedition of Sir Francis Drake, in the year 1587,
for the destroying of the Spanish shipping and provi-
vision upon their own coast ; as I cannot say that there
intervened in that enterprise any sharp fight or en-
counter ; so, nevertheless, it did strangely discover,
either that Spain is very weak at-home, or very slow
to move ; when they suffered a small fleet of English
to make an hostile invasion or incursion upon their
havens and roads, from Cadiz to Capa Sacra, and
thence to Cascais ; and to fire, sink, and carry away
at least ten thousand ton of their great shipping, be-
sides fifty or sixty of their small vessels ; and that in
the sight, and under the favour of their forts ; and al-
most under the eye of their great admiral, the best
commander of Spain by sea, the marquis de Santa
Cruz, without ever being disputed with by any fight of
importance. I remember Drake, in the vaunting stile
of a soldier, would call this enterprise, the singeing of
the king of Spain's beard.

The enterprise of 1588, deserveth to be stood upon
a little more fully, being a miracle of time. There
armed from Spain, in the year 1588, the greatest navy
that ever swam upon the sea : for though there have
been far greater fleets for number, yet for the bulk and
building of the ships, with the furniture of great ord-
nance and provisions, never the like. The design was
to make not an invasion only, but an utter conquest of
this kingdom. The number of vessels were one hun-
dred and thirty, whereof galliasses and galleons se-
venty-two goodly ships, like floating towers or castles,
manned with thirty thousand soldiers and mariners.
This navy was the preparation of five whole years, at
the least : it bare itself also upon divine assistance ; for
it received special blessing from pope Sixtus, and was
assigned as an apostolical mission for the reducement
of this kingdom to the obedience of the see of Rome.
And, in farther token of this holy warfare, there were
amongst the rest of these ships, twelve, called by the
names of the twelve apostles. But it was truly con-
ceived, that this kingdom of England could never be
overwhelmed, except the land waters came into the

Of a War with Spain.

sea tides. Therefore was there also in readiness in
Flanders, a mighty strong army of land forces, to the
number of fifty thousand veteran soldiers, under the
conduct of the duke of Parma, the best commander,
next the French king Henry the Fourth, of his
time. These were designed to join with the forces
at sea ; there being prepared a number of flat-bottomed
boats to transport the land forces, under the wing and
protection of the great navy. For they made no ac-
count, but that the navy should be absolute master of
the seas. Against these forces, there were prepared on
our part, to the number of near one hundred ships;
not so great of bulk indeed, but of a more nimble
motion, and more serviceable ; besides a less fleet of
thirty ships, for the custody of the narrow seas. There
were also in readinsss at land two armies ; besides
other forces, to the number of ten thousand, dispersed
amongst the coast in the southern parts. The two
armies were appointed ; one of them consisting of
twenty-five thousand horse and foot, for the repulsing
of the enemy at their landing ; and the other of twenty-
five thousand for safeguard and attendance about the
court and the queen's person. There were also other
dormant musters of soldiers throughout all parts of the
realm, that were put in readiness, but not drawn to-
gether. The two armies were assigned to the leading
of two generals, noble persons, but both of them ra-
ther courtiers, and assured to the state, than martial
men ; yet lined and assisted with subordinate com-
manders of great experience and valour. The fortune
of the war made this enterprise at first a play at base.
The Spanish navy set forth out of the Groyne in May,
and was dispersed and driven back by weather. Our
navy set forth somewhat later out of Plymouth, and
bare up towards the coast of Spain to have fought with
the Spanish navy ; and partly by reason of contrary
winds, partly upon advertisement that the Spaniards
were gone back, and upon some doubt also that they
might pass by towards the coast of England, whilst
we were seeking them afar off, returned likewise into
Plymouth about the middle of July. At that time

Of a War with Spam. 519

came more confident advertisement, though false,
not only to the lord Admiral, but to the court, that the
Spaniards could not possibly come forward that year;
whereupon our navy was upon the point of disband-
ing, and many of our men gone ashore : at which
very time the Invincible Armada, for so it was called
in a Spanish ostentation, throughout Europe, was dis-
covered upon the western coast. It was a kind of
surprise ; for that, as was said, many of our men were
gone to land, and our ships ready to depart. Never-
theless the admiral, with such ships as could suddenly
be put in readiness, made forth towards them ; inso-
much as of one hundred ships, there came scarce
thirty to work. Howbeit, with them, and such as
came daily in, we set upon them, and gave them the
chase. But the Spaniards, for want of courage, which
they called commission, declined the fight, casting
themselves continually into roundels, their strongest
ships walling in the rest, and in that manner they
made a flying march towards Calais. Our men by
the space of five or six days followed them close,
fought with them continually, made great slaughter of
their men, took two of their great ships, and gave
divers others of their ships their death wounds,
whereof soon after they sank and perished ; and, in a
word, distressed them almost in the nature of a de-
feat y we ourselves in the mean time receiving little
or no hurt. Near Calais the Spaniards anchored, ex-
pecting their land forces, which came not. It was
afterwards alledged, that the duke of Parma did arti-
ficially delay his coming; but this was but an invention
and pretension given out by the Spaniards ; partly upon
a Spanish envy against that duke, being an Italian,
and his son a competitor to Portugal ; but chiefly to
save the monstrous scorn and disreputation, which
they and their nation received by the success of that
enterprise. Therefore their colours and excuses, for-
sooth, were, that their general by sea had a limited
commission, not to fight until the land forces were
come in to them: and that the duke of Parma had
particular reaches and , ends of his own underhand, to

520 Of a War with Spain.

cross the design. But it was both a strange commis-
sion, and a strange obedience to a commission ; for
men in the midst of their own blood, and being so
furiously assailed, to hold their hands, contrary lo the
laws of nature and necessity. And as for the duke
of Parma, he was reasonably well tempted to be true
to that enterprise, by no less promise than to be. made
a feudatary or beneficiary king of England, under the
seignory, in chief, of the pope, and the protection of
the king of Spain. Besides, it appeared that the duke
of Parma held his place long after in the favour and
trust of the king of Spain, by the great employments
and services that he performed in France : and again,
it is manifest, that the duke did his best to come
down, and to put to sea. The truth was, that the
Spanish navy, upon those proofs of fight which they
had with the English, finding how much hurt they
received, and how little hurt they did, by reason of
the activity and low building of our ships, and skill of
our seamen ; and being also commanded by a general
of small courage and experience, and having lost
at the first two of their bravest commanders at sea,
Pedro de Valdez, and Michael de Oquenda; durst
not put it to a battle at sea, but set up their rest
wholly upon the land enterprise On the other side,
the transporting of the land forces failed in the very
foundation: for whereas the council of Spain made full
account, that their navy should be master of the sea,
and therefore able to guard and protect the vessels of
transportation ; when it fell out to the contrary that
the Hollanders impounded their land forces with a
brave fleet of thirty sail, excellently well appointed ;
things, I say, being in this state, it came to pass that
the duke of Parma must have flown if he would have
come into England, for he could get neither bark nor
mariner to put to sea : yet certain it is, that the duke
looked still for the coming back of the Armada, even
at that time when they were wandering, and making
their perambulation upon the northern seas. But to
return to the Armada, which we left anchored at
Calais : from, thence, as Sir Walter Raleigh was wont

Of a War with Spain. 521

prettily to say, they were suddenly driven away with
squibs ; for it was no more but a stratagem of fire
boats, manless, and sent upon them by the favour of
the wind in the night time, that did put them in such
terror, as they cut their cables, and left their anchors
in the sea. After they hovered some two or three days
about Graveling, and there again were beaten in a
great fight; at what time our second fleet, which kept
the narrow seas, was come in and joined to our main
fleet. Thereupon the Spaniards entering into farther
terror, and finding also divers of their ships every day
to sink, lost all courage, and instead of coming up into
the Thames' mouth for London, as their design was,
fled on towards the north to seek their fortunes ; being
still chased by the English navy at the heels, until we
were fain to give them over for want of powder.
The breath of Scotland the Spaniards could not en-
dure; neither durst they as iavaders land in Ireland;
but only ennobled some of the coasts thereof with,
shipwrecks. And so going northwards aloof, as long
as they had any doubt of being pursued, at last, when
they were out of reach, they turned, and crossed the
ocean to Spain, having lost fourscore of their ships
and the greater part of their men. And this was the
end of that sea-giant, the Invincible Armada: which,
having not so much as fired a cottage of ours by land,
nor taken a cock-boat of ours at sea, \vandered through
the wilderness of the northern seas ; and, according to
the curse in the Scripture, came out against us one way,
and fled before us seven ways. Serving only to make
good the judgment of an astrologer long before given,
ociuagesimus octavus mirabilis anmis : or rather, to

O j

make good, even to the astonishment of all posterity,
the wonderful judgments of God poured down com-
monly upon vast and proud aspirings.

In the year that followed, of 1589, we gave the Spa-
niards no breath, but turned challengers, and invaded
the main of Spain. In which enterprise, although we
failed in our end, which was to settle Don Antonio in
the kingdom of Portugal, yet a man shall hardly meet
with an action that doth better reveal the great secret

522 Of a War with Spain.

of the power of Spain ; which power well sought into,
will be found rather to consist in a veteran army, such
as upon several occasions and pretensions they have
ever had on foot, in one part or other of Christendom,
now by the space of almost sixscore years, than in the
strength of -their dominions and provinces. For what
can be more strange, or more to the disvaluation of
the power of the Spaniard upon the continent, than
that with an arriiy of eleven thousand English land-
soldiers, and a fleet of twenty-six ships of war, besides
some weak vessels for transportation, we should,
within the hour-glass of two months, have won one
town of importance by scalado, battered and assaulted
another, overthrown great forces in the field, and that
upon the disadvantage of a bridge strongly barrica-
doed, landed the army in three several places of his
kingdom, marched seven days in the heart of his
country, lodged three nights in the suburbs of his
principal city, beaten his forces into the gates thereof,
possessed two of his frontier forts, and come off after
all this with small loss of men, otherwise than by sick-
ness ? And it was verily thought, that had it not been
for four great disfavours of that voyage, that is to say,
the failing in sundry provisions that were promised,
especially of cannons for battery ; the vain hopes of
Don Antonio, concerning the people of the country to
come in to his aid -, the disappointment of the fleet
that was directed to come up the river of Lisbon ; and
lastly, the diseases which spread in the army by reason
of the heat of the season, and of the soldiers misrule
in diet, the enterprise had succeeded, and Lisbon had
been carried. But howsoever it makes proof to the
world, that an invasion of a few English upon Spain
may have just hopes of victory, at least of passport to
depart safely.

In the year 1591 was that memorable fight of an
English ship called the Revenge, under the command
of Sir Richard Greenvil ; memorable, I say, even be-
yond credit, and to the height of some heroical fable :
and though it were a defeat, yet it exceeded a victory;
being like the act of Samson, that killed more men at

Of a War with Spain. 52S

his death, than he had done in the time of all his life.
This ship, for the space of fifteen hours, sat like a stag
among hounds at the bay, and was sieged, and fought
with in turn, by fifteen great ships of Spain, part of a
navy of fifty-five ships in all ; the rest Jike abettors
looking on afar off. And amongst the fifteen ships that
fought, the great S. Philippo was one ; a ship of fif-
teen hundred ton, prince of the twelve sea-apostles,
which was right glad when she was shifted off from

Online LibraryFrancis BaconThe works of Francis Bacon, baron of Verulam, viscount St. Alban, and lord high chancellor of England (Volume 3) → online text (page 43 of 45)