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A True Report Of A Worthy Fight






PERFORMED IN THE VOYAGE FROM TURKEY BY FIVE SHIPS OF LONDON,
AGAINST ELEVEN GALLEYS AND TWO FRIGATES OF THE KING OF SPAIN'S,
AT PANTALAREA, WITHIN THE STRAITS, ANNO 1586. WRITTEN BY PHILIP
JONES.


The merchants of London, being of the incorporation for the Turkey
trade, having received intelligences and advertisements from time to
time that the King of Spain, grudging at the prosperity of this kingdom,
had not only of late arrested all English ships, bodies, and goods in
Spain, but also, maligning the quiet traffic which they used, to and in
the dominions and provinces under the obedience of the Great Turk, had
given orders to the captains of his galleys in the Levant to hinder the
passage of all English ships, and to endeavour by their best means to
intercept, take, and spoil them, their persons and goods; they hereupon
thought it their best course to set out their fleet for Turkey in such
strength and ability for their defence that the purpose of their Spanish
enemy might the better be prevented, and the voyage accomplished with
greater security to the men and ships. For which cause, five tall and
stout ships appertaining to London, and intending only a merchant's
voyage, were provided and furnished with all things belonging to the
seas, the names whereof were these:--1. The Royal Merchant, a very
brave and good ship, and of great report. 2. The Toby. 3. The Edward
Bonaventure. 4. The William and John. 5. The Susan.

These five departing from the coast of England in the month of November,
1585, kept together as one fleet till they came as high as the Isle of
Sicily, within the Levant. And there, according to the order and
direction of the voyage, each ship began to take leave of the rest, and
to separate himself, setting his course for the particular port
whereunto he was bound--one for Tripolis in Syria, another for
Constantinople, the chief city of the Turk's empire, situated upon the
coast of Roumelia called of old Thracia, and the rest to those places
whereunto they were privately appointed. But before they divided
themselves, they altogether consulted of and about a certain and special
place for their meeting again after the landing of their goods at their
several ports. And in conclusion, the general agreement was to meet at
Zante, an island near to the main continent of the west part of Morea,
well known to all the pilots, and thought to be the fittest place for
their rendezvous; concerning which meeting it was also covenanted on
each side and promised that whatsoever ship of these five should first
arrive at Zante, should there stay and expect the coming of the rest of
the fleet for the space of twenty days. This being done, each man made
his best haste, according as wind and weather would serve him, to fulfil
his course and to despatch his business; and no need was there to
admonish or encourage any man, seeing no time was ill-spent nor
opportunity omitted on any side in the performance of each man's duty,
according to his place.

It fell out that the Toby, which was bound for Constantinople, had
made such good speed, and gotten such good weather, that she first of
all the rest came back to the appointed place of Zante, and not
forgetting the former conclusion, did there cast anchor, attending the
arrival of the rest of the fleet, which accordingly (their business
first performed) failed not to keep promise. The first next after the
Toby was the Royal Merchant, which, together with the William and
John, came from Tripolis in Syria, and arrived in Zante within the
compass of the aforesaid time limited. These ships, in token of the joy
on all parts conceived for their happy meeting, spared not the
discharging of their ordnance, the sounding of drums and trumpets, the
spreading of ensigns, with other warlike and joyful behaviours,
expressing by these outward signs the inward gladness of their minds,
being all as ready to join together in mutual consent to resist the
cruel enemy, as now in sporting manner they made mirth and pastime among
themselves. These three had not been long in the haven but the Edward
Bonaventure, together with the Susan her consort, were come from
Venice with their lading, the sight of whom increased the joy of the
rest, and they, no less glad of the presence of the others, saluted them
in most friendly and kind sort, according to the manner of the seas.

In this port of Zante the news was fresh and current of two several
armies and fleets, provided by the King of Spain, and lying in wait to
intercept them: the one consisting of thirty strong galleys, so well
appointed in all respects for the war that no necessary thing wanted;
and this fleet hovered about the Straits of Gibraltar. The other army
had in it twenty galleys, whereof some were of Sicily and some of the
Island of Malta, under the charge and government of John Andreas Dorea,
a captain of name serving the King of Spain. These two divers and strong
fleets waited and attended in the seas for none but the English ships,
and no doubt made their account and sure reckoning that not a ship
should escape their fury. And the opinion also of the inhabitants of the
Isle of Zante was, that in respect of the number of galleys in both
these armies having received such straight commandment from the king,
our ships and men being but few and little in comparison of them, it was
a thing in human reason impossible that we should pass either without
spoiling, if we resisted, or without composition at the least, and
acknowledgment of duty to the Spanish king.

But it was neither the report of the attendance of these armies, nor the
opinions of the people, nor anything else, that could daunt or dismay
the courage of our men, who, grounding themselves upon the goodness of
their cause, and the promise of God to be delivered from such as without
reason sought their destruction, carried resolute minds notwithstanding
all impediments to adventure through the seas, and to finish their
navigation maugre the beards of the Spanish soldiers. But lest they
should seem too careless and too secure of their estate, and by laying
the whole and entire, burden of their safety upon God's Providence,
should foolishly presume altogether of His help, and neglect the means
which was put into their hands, they failed not to enter into counsel
among themselves, and to deliberate advisedly for their best defence.
And in the end, with general consent, the Royal Merchant was appointed
admiral of the fleet, and the Toby vice-admiral, by whose orders the
rest promised to be directed; and each ship vowed not to break from
another whatsoever extremity should fall out, but to stand to it to the
death, for the honour of their country and the frustrating of the hope
of the ambitious and proud enemy.

Thus in good order they left Zante and the Castle of Grecia, and
committed themselves again to the seas, and proceeded in their course
and voyage in quietness, without sight of any enemy till they came near
to Pantalarea, an island so called betwixt Sicily and the coast of
Africa; into sight whereof they came on July 13th, 1586. And the same
day, in the morning about seven o'clock, they descried thirteen sails in
number, which were of the galleys lying in wait of purpose for them in
and about that place. As soon as the English ships had spied them, they
by-and-by, according to a common order, made themselves ready for a
fight, laid out their ordnance, scoured, charged, and primed them,
displayed their ensigns, and left nothing undone to arm themselves
thoroughly. In the meantime, the galleys more and more approached the
ships, and in their banners there appeared the arms of the Isles of
Sicily and Malta, being all as then in the service and pay of the
Spaniard. Immediately both the admirals of the galleys sent from each of
them a frigate to the admiral of our English ships, which being come
near them, the Sicilian frigate first hailed them, and demanded of them
whence they were; they answered that they were of England, the arms
whereof appeared in their colours. Whereupon the said frigate
expostulated with them, and asked why they delayed to send or come with
their captains and pursers to Don Pedro de Leiva, their general, to
acknowledge their duty and obedience to him, in the name of the Spanish
king, lord of those seas. Our men replied and said that they owed no
such duty nor obedience to him, and therefore would acknowledge none;
but commanded the frigate to depart with that answer, and not to stay
longer upon her peril. With that away she went, and up came towards them
the other frigate of Malta; and she in like sort hailed the admiral, and
would needs know whence they were and where they had been. Our
Englishmen in the admiral, not disdaining an answer, told them that they
were of England, merchants of London, had been in Turkey, and were now
returning home; and to be requited in this case, they also demanded of
the frigate whence she and the rest of the galleys were. The messenger
answered, "We are of Malta, and for mine own part, my name is Cavalero.
These galleys are in service and pay to the King of Spain, under the
conduct of Don Pedro de Leiva, a nobleman of Spain, who hath been
commanded hither by the king with this present force and army of purpose
to intercept you. You shall therefore," quoth he, "do well to repair to
him to know his pleasure; he is a nobleman of good behaviour and
courtesy, and means you no ill." The captain of the English admiral,
whose name was Master Edward Wilkinson, now one of the six masters of
Her Majesty's Royal Navy, replied and said, "We purpose not at this time
to make trial of Don Pedro his courtesy, whereof we are suspicious and
doubtful, and not without good cause;" using withal good words to the
messenger, and willing him to come aboard him, promising security and
good usage, that thereby he might the better know the Spaniard's mind.
Whereupon he indeed left his frigate and came aboard him, whom he
entertained in friendly sort, and caused a cup of wine to be drawn for
him, which he took, and began, with his cap in his hand and with
reverent terms, to drink to the health of the Queen of England, speaking
very honourably of her majesty, and giving good speeches of the
courteous usage and entertainment that he himself had received in
London at the time that the Duke of Alencon, brother to the late French
king, was last in England. And after he had well drunk, he took his
leave, speaking well of the sufficiency and goodness of our ships, and
especially of the Royal Merchant which he confessed to have seen
before riding in the Thames near London. He was no sooner come to Don
Pedro de Leiva, the Spanish general, but he was sent off again, and
returned to the English admiral, saying that the pleasure of the general
was this, that either their captains, masters, and pursers should come
to him with speed, or else he would set upon them, and either take them
or sink them. The reply was made by Master Wilkinson aforesaid, that not
a man should come to him; and for the brag and threat of Don Pedro, it
was not that Spanish bravado that should make them yield a jot to their
hindrance, but they were as ready to make resistance as he to offer an
injury. Whereupon Cavalero, the messenger, left bragging, and began to
persuade them in quiet sort and with many words; but all his labour was
to no purpose, and as his threat did nothing terrify them, so his
persuasion did nothing move them to do that which he required. At the
last he entreated to have the merchant of the admiral carried by him as
a messenger to the general, that so he might be satisfied and assured of
their minds by one of their own company. But Master Wilkinson would
agree to no such thing; although Richard Rowit, the merchant himself,
seemed willing to be employed in that message, and laboured by
reasonable persuasions to induce Master Wilkinson to grant it--as hoping
to be an occasion by his presence and discreet answers to satisfy the
general, and thereby to save the effusion of Christian blood, if it
should grow to a battle. And he seemed so much the more willing to be
sent, by how much deeper the oaths and protestations of this Cavalero
were, that he would (as he was a true knight and a soldier) deliver him
back again in safety to his company. Albeit, Master Wilkinson who, by
his long experience, had received sufficient trial of Spanish
inconstancy and perjury, wished him in no case to put his life and
liberty in hazard upon a Spaniard's oath; but at last, upon much
entreaty, he yielded to let him go to the general, thinking indeed that
good speeches and answers of reason would have contented him, whereas,
otherwise, refusal to do so might peradventure have provoked the more
discontentment.

Master Rowit, therefore, passing to the Spanish general, the rest of the
galleys having espied him, thought, indeed, that the English were rather
determined to yield than to fight, and therefore came flocking about the
frigate, every man crying out, "Que nuevas? que nuevas? Have these
Englishmen yielded?" The frigate answered, "Not so; they neither have
nor purpose to yield. Only they have sent a man of their company to
speak with our general." And being come to the galley wherein he was, he
showed himself to Master Rowit in his armour, his guard of soldiers
attending upon him, in armour also, and began to speak very proudly in
this sort: "Thou Englishman, from whence is your fleet? Why stand ye
aloof off? know ye not your duty to the Catholic king, whose person I
here represent? Where are your bills of lading, your letters, passports,
and the chief of your men? Think ye my attendance in these seas to be in
vain, or my person to no purpose? Let all these things be done out of
hand, as I command, upon pain of my further displeasure, and the spoil
of you all." These words of the Spanish general were not so outrageously
pronounced as they were mildly answered by Master Rowit, who told him
that they were all merchantmen, using traffic in honest sort, and
seeking to pass quietly, if they were not urged further than reason. As
for the King of Spain, he thought (for his part) that there was amity
betwixt him and his Sovereign, the Queen of England, so that neither he
nor his officers should go about to offer any such injury to English
merchants, who, as they were far from giving offence to any man, so they
would be loth to take an abuse at the hands of any, or sit down to their
loss, where their ability was able to make defence. And as touching his
commandment aforesaid for the acknowledging of duty in such particular
sort, he told him that where there was no duty owing there none should
be performed, assuring him that their whole company and ships in general
stood resolutely upon the negative, and would not yield to any such
unreasonable demand, joined with such imperious and absolute manner of
commanding. "Why, then," said he, "if they will neither come to yield,
nor show obedience to me in the name of my king, I will either sink them
or bring them to harbour; and so tell them from me." With that the
frigate came away with Master Rowit, and brought him aboard to the
English admiral again, according to promise, who was no sooner entered
in but by-and-by defiance was sounded on both sides. The Spaniards hewed
off the noses of the galleys, that nothing might hinder the level of the
shot; and the English, on the other side, courageously prepared
themselves to the combat, every man, according to his room, bent to
perform his office with alacrity and diligence. In the meantime a cannon
was discharged from out the admiral of the galleys, which, being the
onset of the fight, was presently answered by the English admiral with a
culverin; so the skirmish began, and grew hot and terrible. There was no
powder nor shot spared, each English ship matched itself in good order
against two Spanish galleys, besides the inequality of the frigates on
the Spanish side. And although our men performed their parts with
singular valour, according to their strength, insomuch that the enemy,
as amazed therewith, would oftentimes pause and stay, and consult what
was best to be done, yet they ceased not in the midst of their business
to make prayer to Almighty God, the revenger of all evils and the giver
of victories, that it would please Him to assist them in this good
quarrel of theirs, in defending themselves against so proud a tyrant, to
teach their hands to war and their fingers to fight, that the glory of
the victory might redound to His name, and to the honour of true
religion, which the insolent enemy sought so much to overthrow.
Contrarily, the foolish Spaniards, they cried out, according to their
manner, not to God, but to our Lady (as they term the Virgin Mary),
saying, "Oh, Lady, help! Oh, blessed Lady, give us the victory, and the
honour thereof shall be thine." Thus with blows and prayers on both
sides, the fight continued furious and sharp, and doubtful a long time
to which part the victory would incline, till at last the admiral of the
galleys of Sicily began to warp from the fight, and to hold up her side
for fear of sinking; and after her went also two others in like case,
whom all the sort of them enclosed, labouring by all their means to keep
them above water, being ready by the force of English shot which they
had received to perish in the seas. And what slaughter was done among
the Spaniards the English were uncertain, but by a probable conjecture
apparent afar off they supposed their loss was so great that they wanted
men to continue the charging of their pieces; whereupon with shame and
dishonour, after five hours spent in the battle, they withdrew
themselves. And the English, contented in respect of their deep lading
rather to continue their voyage than to follow in the chase, ceased from
further blows, with the loss of only two men slain amongst them all, and
another hurt in his arm, whom Master Wilkinson, with his good words and
friendly promises, did so comfort that he nothing esteemed the smart of
his wound, in respect of the honour of the victory and the shameful
repulse of the enemy.

Thus, with dutiful thanks to the mercy of God for His gracious
assistance in that danger, the English ships proceeded in their
navigation. And coming as high as Algiers, a port town upon the coast of
Barbary, they made for it, of purpose to refresh themselves after their
weariness, and to take in such supply of fresh water and victuals as
they needed. They were no sooner entered into the port but immediately
the king thereof sent a messenger to the ships to know what they were.
With which messenger the chief master of every ship repaired to the
king, and acquainted him not only with the state of their ships in
respect of merchandise, but with the late fight which they had passed
with the Spanish galleys, reporting every particular circumstance in
word as it fell out in action; whereof the said king showed himself
marvellous glad, entertaining them in the best sort, and promising
abundant relief of all their wants; making general proclamation in the
city, upon pain of death, that no man, of what degree or state soever he
were, should presume either to hinder them in their affairs or to offer
them any manner of injury in body or goods; by virtue whereof they
despatched all things in excellent good sort with all favour and
peaceableness.

The English, having received this good justice at the king's hands, and
all other things that they wanted or could crave for the furnishing of
their ships, took their leave of him and of the rest of their friends
that were resident in Algiers, and put out to sea, looking to meet with
the second army of the Spanish king, which waited for them about the
mouth of the Strait of Gibraltar, which they were of necessity to pass.
But coming near to the said strait, it pleased God to raise, at that
instant, a very dark and misty fog, so that one ship could not discern
another if it were forty paces off, by means whereof, together with the
notable fair eastern winds that then blew most fit for their course,
they passed with great speed through the strait, and might have passed,
with that good gale, had there been five hundred galleys to withstand
them and the air never so clear for every ship to be seen. But yet the
Spanish galleys had a sight of them when they were come within three
English miles of the town, and made after them with all possible haste;
and although they saw that they were far out of their reach, yet in a
vain fury and foolish pride they shot off their ordnance and made a stir
in the sea as if they had been in the midst of them, which vanity of
theirs ministered to our men notable matter of pleasure and mirth,
seeing men to fight with shadows and to take so great pains to so small
purpose.

But thus it pleased God to deride and delude all the forces of that
proud Spanish king, which he had provided of purpose to distress the
English; who, notwithstanding, passed through both his armies--in the
one, little hurt, and in the other, nothing touched, to the glory of His
immortal name, the honour of our prince and country, and the just
commendation of each man's service performed in that voyage.





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