American History Told by Contemporaries

Author: Richard Hakluyt  | Date: 1877

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U.S. History

How Spain May Be Abased (1584)


That this voyadge will be a greate bridle to the Indies of the Kinge of Spaine, and a meane that wee may arreste at our pleasure for the space of tenne weeks or three monethes every yere one or twoo C. saile of his subjectes shippes at the fyshinge in Newfounde Land.

The cause why the Kinge of Spaine, these three or foure yeres last paste, was at suche intollerable chardges in furnishinge oute so many navies to wynne Tercera, and the other small ilandes of the Azores adjacent to the same, was the oportunitie of the places in interceptinge his West Indian flete at their returne homewarde, as a matter that toucheth him indeede to the quicke. But the plantinge of twoo or three strong fortes upon some goodd havens (whereof there is greate store) betweene Florida and Cape Briton, woulde be a matter in shorte space of greater domage as well to his flete as to his westerne Indies; for wee shoulde not onely often tymes indaunger his flete in the returne thereof, but also in fewe yeres put him in hazarde in loosinge some parte of Nova Hispania.

Touchinge the fleete, no man (that knoweth the course thereof, comynge oute betwene Cuba and the Cape of Florida, alonge the gulfe or straite of Bahama) can denye that it is caried by the currant northe and northeaste towardes the coaste which wee purpose, God willinge to inhabite; . . . Besides the current, it is also a thinge withoute controversie, that all southerne and souht esterne windes inforce the Spanishe flete returninge home nere or upon the aforesaide coaste, and consequently will bringe them into our daunger, after wee shalbe there strongly setled and fortified. . . .

Nowe if wee (being thereto provoked by Spanishe injuries) woulde either joyne with these savages, or sende or give them armor, as the Spaniardes arme our Irishe rebells, wee shoulde trouble the Kinge of Spaine more in those partes, then he hath or can trouble us in Ireland, and holde him at suche a bay as he was never yet helde at. For if (as the aforesaide Miles Phillipps writeth) yt be true, that one negro which fledd from his cruell Spanishe master is receaved and made capitaine of multitudes of the Chichimici, and daily dothe grevously afflicte them, and hath almoste enforced them to leave and abandon their silver mynes in those quarters, what domage mighte divers hundreds of Englishe men doe them, being growen once into familiaritie with that valiaunte nation.

And this is the greatest feare that the Spaniardes have, to witt, our plantinge in those partes and joyning with those savages, their neighbours, in Florida, and on the northe side of Nova Hispania. . . .

So shall wee be able te crye quittaunce with the Kinge of Spaine if he shoulde goe aboute to make any generall arreste of our navye, or rather terrifie him from any such enterpryse, when he shall bethincke himself that his navye in Newfounde lande is no lesse in our daunger, then ours is in his domynions wheresoever. . . .

What speciall meanes may bringe Kinge Phillippe from his highe throne, and make him equall to the princes his neighboures; wherewithall is shewed his weakenes in the West Indies.

firste, it is to be considered that his domynions and territories oute of Spaine lye farr distant from Spaine, his chefest force; and farr distante one from another; and are kepte by greate tyrannie; and quos metuunt oderunt. And the people kepte in subjection desire nothinge more than freedome. And like as a little passage given to water, it maketh his owne way; so give but a small meane to suche kept in tyranie, they will make their owne way to libertie; which way may easely be made. And entringe into the consideration of the way how this Phillippe may be abased, I meane firste to begynne with the West Indies, as there to laye a chefe foundation for his overthrowe. And like as the foundation of the strongest holde undermyned and removed, the mightiest and strongest walles fall flatt to the earthe; so this prince, spoiled or intercepted for a while of his treasure, occasion by lacke of the same is geven that all his territories in Europe oute of Spaine slide from him, and the Moores enter into Spaine it selfe, and the people revolte in every forrein territorie of his, and cutt the throates of the proude hatefull Spaniardes, their governours. For this Phillippe already owinge many millions, and of late yeres empaired in credite, hath by lacke of abilitie of longe tyme to pay the same, and by his shameful losse of his Spaniardes and dishonors in the Lowe Contries, and by lacke of the yerely renewe of his revenewe, he shall not be able to wage his severall garrisons kepte in his severall frontiers, territories, and places, nor to corrupte in princes courtes, nor to doe many feates. . . .

Hereunto yf wee adde our purposed westerne discoveries, and there plante and people ryally, and fortifie strongly, and there builde shippes and maineteine a navy in special porte or portes, wee may by the same either encounter the Indian fleete, or be at hande as it were to yelde freshe supplye, courage, and comforte, by men or munition, to the Chichimici and the Symerons and suche other as shalbe incited to the spoile of the mynes; which in tyme will, if it be not looked to, bringe all princes to weake estate, that Phillippe, either for relligion or other cause, dothe hate; as the aforesaide Monsieur de Aldegond, in his pithie and most earneste exhortation to all Christian kinges, princes, and potentates to beware of Kinge Phillipps ambitions growinge, dothe wisely and moste providently forwarne.

To this may be added (the realme swarming with lustie youthes that he turned to no profitable use), there may be sente bandes of them into the Base Contries in more rounde nombers then are sente as yet. Ffor if he presently prevaile there, at our doores, farewell the traficque that els wee may have there (whereof wise men can say moche). And if he settle there, then let the realme saye adewe to her quiet state and safetie.

If these enter into the due consideration of wise men, and if platformes of these thinges be sett downe and executed duelye and with spede and effecte, no doubte but the Spanishe empire falles to the grounde, and the Spanishe kinge shall be lefte bare as Aesops proude crowe; the peacocke, the perot, the pye, and the popingey, and every other birde havinge taken home from him his gorgeous fethers, he will, in shorte space, become a laughinge stocke for all the worlde; with such a mayme to the Pope and to that side, as never hapned to the sea of Rome by the practise of the late Kinge of famous memory, her Majesties father, or by all the former practises of all the Protestant princes of Germanie, or by any other advise layde downe by Monsieur de Aldegond, here after by them to be put in execution. If you touche him in the Indies, you touche the apple of his eye; for take away his treasure, which is neruus belli, and which he hath almoste oute of his West Indies, his olde bandes of souldiers will soone be dissolved, his purposes defeated, his power and strengthe diminished, his pride abated, and his tyranie utterly suppressed. . . .

Richard Hakluyt, A Discourse on Western Planting, in Documentary History of the State of Maine (edited by Charles Deane, Cambridge, 1877), II, 45–59 passim.


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Chicago: Richard Hakluyt, "How Spain May Be Abased (1584)," American History Told by Contemporaries, ed. Charles Deane in American History Told by Contemporaries, ed. Albert Bushnell Hart (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1897), 158–160. Original Sources, accessed April 13, 2024,

MLA: Hakluyt, Richard. "How Spain May Be Abased (1584)." American History Told by Contemporaries, edited by Charles Deane, Vol. II, in American History Told by Contemporaries, edited by Albert Bushnell Hart, Vol. 1, New York, The Macmillan Company, 1897, pp. 158–160. Original Sources. 13 Apr. 2024.

Harvard: Hakluyt, R, 'How Spain May Be Abased (1584)' in American History Told by Contemporaries, ed. . cited in 1897, American History Told by Contemporaries, ed. , The Macmillan Company, New York, pp.158–160. Original Sources, retrieved 13 April 2024, from