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De conquestu Angliae per Hispanos

Identifier: D43667
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Scope and Content

The call number for this collection is G.b.5.

This collection is comprised of nineteen contemporary copies of documents (one incomplete) concerning Anglo-Spanish affairs between 1570 and 1604 (mostly dating from the 1580s), bound together in a limp vellum binding. Specifically they concern Catholic plans to conquer England and Scotland during the Anglo-Spanish War. Their endorsements and other internal evidence suggest that items may have been in the files of the Spanish embassy to the Holy See.

Items include copies of the 1570 papal bull excommunicating Elizabeth I (leaves 1-2); a detailed plan to land an army in Scotland (leaves 6-15); a detailed summary of conditions (including a detailed consideration of the Catholic peers) in England, attributed to William Allen (leaves 16-21); the 1587 agreement between Sixtus V and Philip II concerning the invasion of England and deposition of Elizabeth (leaves 22-24); the political alignment of the nobility in Scotland (leaves 41-42); copy of a petition from English Catholics to Pope Gregory XIII urging an expedition against England (leaves 33-38); letters from Jean Vendeville, bishop of Tournai to Pope Sixtus V, concerning English affairs (leaves 43-52 and leaves 79-83); a copy of the Pope's letter to Philip II concerning the elevation of William Allen to the cardinalate (leaves 53-54); the demands of the Duke of Lennox (leaves 55-56); a 1583 letter from Philip II to Elizabeth I (leaves 57-60); and a 1583 account on Scottish matters by Henri, duc de Guise (leaves 69-72).

The titles used in this finding aid are derived from the endorsements on each document. According to a letter from Garrett Mattingly to Giles Dawson, dated July 6, 1956, "a dozen of them have been either printed or described ... all from other copies either at the Vatican or at Simancas. I've seen two others, one in Rome, one in Spain."


  • 1570-1604 (bulk 1580s)
  • Majority of material found within 1580 - 1589

Language of Materials

In Italian, Latin, and Spanish.


Collection is open for research.

Historical Note

The Anglo–Spanish War (1585–1604) was a complex and intermittent conflict between the kingdoms of Spain and England that was never formally declared. The conflict, the result of religious, political, and economic agitations, began with England's support of the resistance to Habsburg rule in the Netherlands and ended with the Treaty of London in 1604. One of the most important aims of English Catholics and their allies during the conflict was the removal of Elizabeth I from the English throne and the installation of a Catholic monarch, thereby ending Protestantism in England. This activity culminated in the Armada of 1588.


1 volume (19.0 items)


Bound collection of contemporary copies of nineteen documents concerning English Catholics and diplomatic affairs during the Anglo-Spanish War (1585-1604). Specifically, the documents concern Catholic plans to conquer England and Scotland.


Documents are bound in no particular order.


The documents possibly originated in the archives of the Spanish Embassy to the Holy See. More than likely they were bound together in the early seventeenth century. At some point in the nineteenth century, the volume was acquired by Sir Thomas Phillipps (MS 2753). The volume was more than likely sold during the dispersal of Phillipps' collection after his death in 1872.

Acquisition Information

The Folger Shakespeare Library acquired the volume from Sotheby's on January 30, 1956 (no. 409).

Other Formats

Transcripts of these manuscripts are included in De conquestu Angliae per Hispanos, tempore Elizabethae reginae, 1588 ... / impensis, & cura Dni. Thomae Phillipps, bart. (1869)


  • William Allen, The Letters and Memorials of William, Cardinal Allen (1532-1594),ed. and intro. Thomas Francis Knox (London: David Nutt, 1882).
  • Calendar of Letters and State Papers Relating to English Affairs, Preserved Principally in the Archives of Simancas, ed. Martin A.S. Hume, vol. 3 (London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1892-1899).
  • De conquestu Angliae per Hispanos, tempore Elizabethae reginae, 1588, ed. Thomas Phillipps (Middle Hill: Jacob Rogers, 1869).
  • Garrett Mattingly, "William Allen and Catholic Propaganda," in Aspects de la propagande religieuse (Geneva: Droz, 1957), 325-339.
  • Arnold Oskar Meyer, England and the Catholic Church under Queen Elizabeth (London: K. Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., 1916), 520, note 1.
  • Thomas Phillipps, The Phillipps Manuscripts: Catalogus librorum manuscriptorum in bibliotheca D. Thomae Phillipps, intro. A.N.L. Munby (London: Holland Press, 1968), no. 2753.

Additional access

For the catalog record, and / or to conduct additional research in the catalog, see

Processing Information

Processed by Folger Shakespeare Library staff.

Guide to De Conquestu Angliae per Hispanos Folger MS G.b.5
Unverified Full Draft
Finding aid prepared by Folger Library Staff, ca. 1956; revised by Torrence Thomas and Nadia Seiler, 2011.
ca. 1957; revised 2011.
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2011: Revised in 2011.

Repository Details

Part of the Folger Shakespeare Library Repository

201 E. Capitol St. SE
Washington DC 20003 USA