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FromAn English Garner — Voyages and Travels mainly during the 16th and 17th Centuries, Vol. II, with an Introduction by C. Raymond Beazley, F. R. G. S.; E. P. Dutton And Co.; New York; ~1902; pp. 115-120.


Excerpt from Jan Huyghen Van Linschoten’s,
Discourses of Voyages, 1598.



The 20th of January, anno 1591, there was news brought out of Portugal to Terceira, that the Englishmen had taken a ship that the King had sent to the Portuguese Indies, with advices to the Viceroy, of the returning again of the four ships that should have gone to India. And because those ships were come back again, that ship was stuffed and ladened, as full of goods as it possibly might be; having likewise, in ready money, 500,000 ducats [= about £137,500 then = £825,000 now] in Rials of Eight; besides other wares.

It departed from Lisbon in the month of November 1590, and met with the Englishmen; with whom, for a time, it fought: but, in the end, it was taken and carried into England, with men and all. Yet when they came there, the men were set at liberty; and returned to Lisbon, where the Captain was committed a prisoner; but he excused himself, and was released. With whom, I spake myself; and he made this report to me.

At the same time also, they took a ship that came from the Mine [possibly Sofala, see p. 17]: and two ships, ladened with pepper and spices, that were to sail into Italy; the pepper alone that was in them being worth 170,000 ducats [= about £46,750 then = £280,000 now]. All these ships were carried into England, and made good prize.

In the month of July, anno 1591, there happened an earthquake in the island of St. Michael; which continued [i.e., at intervals] from the 26th of July to the 12th of August. In which time, no man durst stay within his house: but fled into the fields, fasting and praying; with great sorrow, because many of their houses fell down. A town, called Villa Franca, was almost clean razed to the ground; all the cloisters and houses shaken to the earth, and some people therein slain. In some places, the land rose up, and the cliffs removed from one place to another; and some hills were defaced, and made even with the ground. The earthquake 116 was so strong, that the ships which lay in the road and on the sea, shaked as if the world would have turned round. There also sprang a fountain out of the earth; from whence, for the space of four days, there flowed a most clear water; and, after that, it ceased. At the same time, they heard such thunder and noise under the earth, as if all the devils in hell had been assembled in that place; wherewith many died for fear.

The island of Terceira shook four times together, so that it seemed to turn about: but there happened no misfortune unto it.

Earthquakes are common in these islands. For, about twenty years past, there happened another earthquake: wherein the half of a high hill, that lieth by the same town of Villa Franca, fell down, and covered all the town with earth; and killed many men.

The 25th of August, the King’s Armada, coming out of Ferrol, arrived at Terceira, being in all thirty ships, Biscayens, Portuguese, and Spaniards; and ten Dutch Fly-boats that were arrested in Lisbon to serve the King: besides other small vessels, pataxos that came to serve as messengers from place to place, and to discover [scout on] the seas.

The Navy came to stay for, and convoy the ships that should come from the Spanish Indies; and the Fly-boats were appointed, in their turn, to take in the goods that were saved in the lost ship that came from Malacca, and to convey it to Lisbon.

The 13th of September, the said Armada arrived at the island of Corvo, where the Englishmen, with about sixteen ships, then lay, staying for the Spanish [West Indian] fleet; whereof some, or the most part were come, and there the English were in good hopes to have taken them.

But when they perceived the King’s Army to be strong: the Admiral, being the LORD THOMAS HOWARD, commanded his fleet not to fall upon them; nor any of them once to separate their ships from him, unless he gave commission so to do.

Notwithstanding, the Vice-Admiral, SIR RICHARD GRENVILLE, being in the ship called the Revenge [of 700 tons], went into the Spanish fleet and shot among them, doing them great hurt; and thinking the rest of the company would have 117 followed: which they did not, but left him there and sailed away. The cause why, could not be known. Which the Spaniards perceiving, with seven or eight ships they boarded her: but she withstood them all, fighting with them, at the least, twelve hours together: and sank two of them, one being a new Double Fly-Boat, of 1,200 tons; the other, a Biscayen. But, in the end, by reason of the number that came upon her, she was taken; but their great loss: for they had lost in fighting and by drowning, above four hundred men. Of the Englishmen, there were slain about a hundred; SIR RICHARD GRENVILLE himself being wounded in the brain, whereof he died.

He was borne into the ship called the San Paulo, wherein was the Admiral of the fleet, DON ALONSO DE BASSAN. There, his wounds were dressed by the Spanish surgeons; but DON ALONSO himself would neither see him, nor speak with him. All the rest of the Captains and gentlemen went to visit him, and to comfort him in his hard fortune; wondering at his courage and stout heart, for he showed not any sign of faintness, nor changing of colour: but feeling the hour of death to approach, he spake these words in Spanish, and said, Here die I, RICHARD GRENVILLE, with a joyful and quiet mind, for I have ended my life as a true soldier ought to do, that hath fought for his country, Queen, religion, and honour: whereby my soul most joyfully departeth out of this body; and shall leave behind it, an everlasting fame of a valiant and true soldier, that hath done his duty, as he was bound to do. [see p. 126.]

When he had finished these, or such like words, he gave up the ghost, with great and stout courage; and no man could perceive any true sign of heaviness in him.

This SIR RICHARD GRENVILLE was a great and rich gentleman in England, and had great yearly revenues, of his own inheritance; but he was a man very unquiet in his mind, and greatly affected to war, inasmuch, as of his own private motion, he offered his services to the Queen. He had performed many valiant acts, and was greatly feared in these islands [see p. 122], and known of every man: but of nature very severe, so that his own people hated him for his fierceness, and spake very hardly of him.

For when they first entered into the Fleet or Armada, they 118 had their great sail in a readiness, and might, possibly enough, have sailed away; for it was one of the best ships for sailing in England. The Master perceiving that the other ships had left them, and followed not after; commanded the great sail to be cut, that they might make away: but SIR RICHARD GRENVILLE threatened both him and all that rest that were in the ship, that if any man laid hand upon it, he would cause him to be hanged. So by that occasion, they were compelled to fight; and in the end, were taken.

He was of so hard a complexion that, as he continued among the Spanish Captains, while they were at dinner or supper with him, he was carouse three or four glasses of wine; and, in a bravery, take [successively] the glasses between his teeth, and crush them in pieces, and swallow them down, so that oftentimes the blood ran out of his mouth, without any harm at all to him: and this was told me, by divers credible persons, that, many times, stood and beheld him.

The Englishmen that were left in the ship, as the Captain of the Soldiers, the Master, and others, were dispersed into divers of the Spanish ships that had taken them: where there had almost arisen a new fight between the Biscayens and the Portuguese: which each of them would have the honour to have first boarded her. So there grew a great noise and quarrel among them, one taking the chief ancient [ensign], and the other the flag: and the Captain and every one held his own.

The ships that had boarded her, were altogether out of order and broken; and many of their men hurt: whereby they were compelled to come to the island of Terceira, there to repair themselves. Where, being arrived, I and my chamber-fellow [i.e., AFHUISEN], to hear some news, went on board one of the ships, being a great Biscayen, and one of the twelve Apostles, whose Captain was called BARTANDONO , that had been General of the Biscayens in the Fleet that went for England [i.e., the Spanish Armada of 1588]. He, seeing us, called us up into the gallery; where with great courtesy, he received us: being then set at dinner with the English Captain [i.e., of the Soldiers of the Revenge], that sate by him, and had on a suit of black velvet; but he could not tell us anything, for he could speak no other language but English, and Latin, which BARTANDONO could also speak a little.


The English Captain got licence of the Governor, that he might come on land, with his weapon by his side; and was in our lodging, with the Englishman [i.e., the Merchant or Supercargo, mentioned on p. 106] that was kept prisoner in the island (being of that ship whereof the sailors got away, as I said before). The Governor of Terceira bade him to dinner; and shewed him great courtesy.

The Master likewise, with licence of BARTANDONO, came on shore, and was in our lodging. He had, at the least, ten or twelve wounds, as well in his head as on his body: whereof, after, being at sea between the Islands and Lisbon, he died.

The Captain wrote a letter, wherein he declared all the manner of the fight; and left it with the English Merchant [or Supercargo] that lay in our lodging, to send it to the Lord Admiral of England.

This English Captain coming to Lisbon, was there well received, and not any hurt done unto him: but, with good convoy, sent to Setubal: and, from thence, with all the rest of the Englishmen that were taken prisoners, sailed into England.

The Spanish Armada stayed at the island of Corvo till the last of September, to assemble the rest of the fleet together; which, in the end, were to the number of 140 sail of ships, partly coming from [the West] India, and partly of the Armada. And being all together, ready to sail to Terceira, in good company; there suddenly rose so hard and cruel a storm that those of the island do affirm that, in man’s memory, there was not any such seen or heard of before: for it seemed [as if] the sea would have swallowed up the Islands. The water mounted higher than the cliffs, which are so high that it amazeth a man to behold them; but the sea reached above them, and living fishes were thrown upon the land.

This storm continued not a day or two only, with one wind; but seven or eight days continually, the wind turning round about in all places of the compass, at the least, twice or thrice during that time: and all alike with a continual storm and tempest; most terrible to behold, even to us that were on shore, much more then to such as were at sea. So that on the coasts and cliffs of the island of Terceira alone, there were about twelve ships cast away; and that, not upon one side only, but round about it in every corner: whereby, 120 nothing else was heard but complaining, crying, lamenting, and telling, “Here is a ship broken in pieces against the cliffs!” and “There, another! and the men drowned.” So that, for the space of twenty days after the storm, they did nothing else but fish for dead men, that continually came driving on the shore.

Among the rest, was the English ship called the Revenge, that was cast away upon a cliff, near to the island of Terceira; where it break into a hundred pieces, and sank to the ground: having in her, seventy men, Gallicians, Biscayens, and others, with some of the captive Englishmen; whereof but one was saved, that got up upon the cliffs alive, and had his body and head all wounded. He, being on shore, brought us the news, desiring to be shriven; and thereupon presently died. The Revenge had in her, divers fair brass pieces, that were all sunk in the sea; which they of the island were in good hope to weigh up again.

The next summer after [i.e., 1592], among these ships, that were cast away about Terceira, was likewise a Fly-boat called the White Dove (being one of those that had been arrested in Portugal to serve the King), lost there. The Master of her, was one CORNELIUS MARTENSON, of Schiedam in Holland; and there were in her, as in every one of the rest, one hundred soldiers. He, being overruled by their Captain, that he could be master of his own, sailing here and there at the mercy of GOD, as the storm drove him; in the end, came within sight of the island of Terceira. Which the Spaniards perceiving, thought all their safety only to consist in putting into the road, compelling the Mater and Pilot to make towards the island. The Master refused to do it, saying, that “They were most sure there to be cast away, and utterly spoiled”: but the Captain called him, “Drunkard! and Heretic!” and striking him with a staff, commanded him to do as he would have him.

The Master seeing this, and being compelled to do it, said, “Well, my masters! seeing it is the desire of you all to be cast away! I can but lost one life!” and therewith desperately, he sailed towards the shore; and was on that side of the island where there was nothing else but hard stones, and rocks as high as mountains, most terrible to behold: where some 121 of the inhabitants stood, with long ropes and corks bound at the end thereof, to throw them down to the men that they might lay hold upon them and save their lives; but few of them got so near, most of them been cast away, and smitten in pieces, before they could get to the wall.

The ship sailing in this manner towards the island, and approaching to the shore; the Master (being an old man and full of years) called his son, that was in the ship with him, and having embraced one another, and taken their last farewell, the good old father willed his son not to take care of him, but to seek to save himself: “For” said he, “son! thou art young: and may have some hope to save thy life; but as for me, I am old, it is no great matter what becomes of me.” Therewith, each of these, shedding many tears (as every loving father and kind child may well consider) the ship fell upon the cliffs, and brake in pieces: the father falling into the sea, on the one side, and the son on the other; each laying hold on that which came next to hand, but to no purpose. For the sea was so high and furious, that they were all drowned, but fourteen or fifteen who saved themselves by swimming, but yet with their legs and arms half broken and out of joint; among the which, were the Master’s son, and four other Dutch boys. The rest of the Spaniards and sailors, with the Captain and Master, were drowned.

Whose heart would not melt with, to behold so grievous a sight? especially considering with himself, that the greatest cause thereof was the beastliness and insolency of the Spaniards; as in this only [single] example may well be seen.

Whereby may be considered how the other ships sped [in the previous storm of October 1591]: as we ourselves did in part behold, and by the men that were saved, did hear more at large; as also some others of our countrymen [i.e., Dutchmen] that, then, were in the like danger can well witness.

At the other islands, the loss [in October 1591] was no less than in Terceira. For on the island of St. George, there were two ships cast away; on the island of Pico, two ships; on the island of Graciosa, three ships: and besides those, there came everywhere round about, divers pieces of broken ships and other things, fleeting towards the islands; wherewith the sea was all covered, most pitiful to behold.


On the island of St. Michael, there were four ships cast away; and between Terceira and St. Michael, three more were sunk, which were seen, and heard to cry out: whereof not one man was saved. The rest put into the [out to] sea, without masts, all torn and rent.

So that of the whole fleet and armada, being 140 ships in all, there were but 32 or 33 arrived in Spain and Portugal: yea, and those few with so great misery, pain, and labour that no two of them arrived together; but this day one, and to-morrow another, the next day a third, and so on, one after the other, to the number aforesaid.

All the rest were cast away upon the Islands [Azores] and overwhelmed in the sea: whereby may be considered what great loss and hindrance they received at that time. For by many men’s judgements, it was esteemed to be much more than was left by the Army that came for England [in 1588]; and it may be well thought and presumed that it was no other but a just plague, purposely sent by GOD upon the Spaniards: and that it might truly be said, the taking of the Revenge was justly revenged upon them; and that, not by the might or force of man, but by the power of GOD.

As some of them openly said, in the isle of Terceira, that “They believed, verily, GOD would consume them; and that He took part with Lutherans and heretics.” Saying further that “So soon as they had thrown the dead body of the Vice-admiral SIR RICHARD GRENVILLE overboard; they verily thought, as he had a devilish faith and religion, and therefore that the devils loved him: so he presently sank down into the bottom of the sea, and down into hell, where he raised up all the devils to revenge his death; and that they brought so great storms and torments upon the Spaniards, only [simply] because they maintained the Catholic and Romish religion.” Such, and such like blasphemies against GOD, they ceased not openly to utter; without any man reproving them nor their false opinions thereon: but the most part of them the rather said, and affirmed that “of truth, it must needs be so.”

As one of these Indian fleets put out of New Spain, there were 35 of them, by storm and tempest, cast away and drowned in the sea: so that, out of 50 in all, but 15 escaped.

Of the fleet that came from Santo Domingo, there were 14 123 cast away, coming out of the Channel of Havanna; whereof the Admiral and Vice-admiral were two. From Terra firma in India [i.e., Central America], there came two ships ladened with gold and silver; that were taken by the Englishmen. And before the Spanish Armada came to Corvo, the Englishmen, at different times, had taken, at the least, 20 ships, that came from Santo Domingo, [West] India, Brazil, &c.; and sent them all to England.

Whereby it plainly appeareth, that, in the end, GOD will assuredly plague the Spaniards: having already blinded them, so that they have not the sense to perceive it, but still to remain in their obstinate opinions. But it is lost labour to strive against GOD, and to trust in man; as being foundations erected upon the sands, which, with the wind, are blown down and overthrown: as we daily see before our eyes, and, not long since, have evidently observed in many places.

Therefore, let every man but look to his own actions! and take our Low Countries for an example: wherein, we can but blame our own sins and wickedness; which doth so blind us, that we wholly forget and reject the benefits of GOD, continuing the servants and yoke slaves of Satan. GOD, of His mercy! open our eyes and hearts! that we may know our only Health and Saviour, JESUS CHRIST; who only can help, govern, and preserve us; and give us a happy end in all our affairs.


. . . .

[Sir Richard Grenville’s last words concluded: ‘But the others of my company have done as traitors and dogs, for which they shall be reproached all their lives and leave a shameful name for ever.’]


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