Letter Signed, to the Duke of Medina Sidonia, Giving Instructions in View of the Expected Intentions of the English Squadron Under Drake Reported to be then Attacking Cadiz


This letter from King Philip II (1527-98) of Spain to the Duke of Medina Sidonia (1550-1613), the future commander of the Spanish Armada that set out to conquer England in 1588, concerns the defense of Spain against raids by the English. The king reacts to the news that naval forces under Sir Francis Drake were trying to disrupt the Armada by entering Spanish harbors to attack it. The king states that he has received news of the damage done to his ships in Cadiz Bay, but also learned that Medina Sidonia has been attending to the defense of the town. He expresses gratitude for the duke's services. He writes further that although he had understood from a report from Seville that Drake left the bay on May 1, another dispatch indicated that Drake had been reinforced and had returned. If this was true, it could only be with the idea of taking the city itself. The king exhorts Medina Sidonia to obtain infantry, cavalry, and arms from the nobles and towns of Andalusia and to take the offensive against the English, should they land. The letter appears to have been written in some haste, as shown by the addition at the end in the king’s own hand, and by the fact that, unlike almost all Spanish royal letters, it shows no secretary's counter-signature. It bears witness to the confusion caused by Drake's attack.

Last updated: September 29, 2014