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De Cuellar sa Dartraí: 1588


Word of this reached the great Governor of the Queen, who was in the city of Dublin, and he went immediately, with seventeen hundred soldiers, to search for the lost ships and the people who had escaped. They were not much fewer than one thousand men, who, without arms and naked, were wandering about the country in the locality where each ship had been lost. The majority of these the Governor caught, and hanged them at once or inflicted other penalties, and the people who he knew had sheltered them he put in prison, and did them all the injury he could. In this manner he took three or four savage chiefs, who had castles, in which they had sheltered some Spaniards; and, having put both parties under arrest, marched with them along the whole of the coasts till he arrived at the place where I was wrecked.


One Sunday, after mass, the chief, with dishevelled hair down to his eyes, took us apart, and, burning with rage, said that he could not remain, and he had decided to fly with all his villagers, their cattle, and their families, and that we should settle what we wished to do to save our lives. I replied to him to calm himself a little, and that presently we would give him an answer.


I went apart with the eight Spaniards who were with me — they were good fellows — and I told them they should well consider all our past misfortunes and that which was coming upon us; and in order not to see ourselves in more, it was better to make an end of it at once honourably; and as we had then a good opportunity, we should not wait any longer, nor wander about flying to the mountains and woods, naked and barefooted, with such great cold as there was. Besides, the savage regretted so much to abandon his castle, we, the nine Spaniards who were there, would cheerfully remain in it and defend it to the death.


This we could do very well, although there should come two other such forces, more than that which was coming, because the castle is very strong and very difficult to take if they do not (even though they should) attack it with artillery; for it is founded in a lake of very deep water, which is more than a league wide at some parts, and three or four leagues long, and has an outlet to the sea; and, besides, with the rise of spring tides it is not possible to enter it, for which reason the castle could not be taken by water nor by the shore of the land that is nearest to it. Neither could injury be done it, because for a league round the town, which is established on the mainland, it is marshy, breast-deep, so that even the inhabitants natives could not get to it except by paths.


Then, considering all this carefully, we decided to say to the savage that we wished to hold the castle and defend it to the death; that he should, with much speed, lay in provisions for six months, and some arms. The chief was so pleased with this, and to see our courage, that he did not delay much to make all provision, with the concurrence good-will of the principal men of his town, who were all satisfied. And, to insure that we should not act falsely, he made us swear that we would not abandon his castle, nor surrender it to the enemy for any bargain or agreement, even if we should perish from hunger; and not to open the gates for Irishman, Spaniard, or any one else till his return, which he would doubtless accomplish.


From thence he turned off towards the castle of MacClancy, for so they called the savage with whom I was, who was always a great enemy of the Queen, and never loved anything of hers, nor cared to obey her, for which reason he (the Governor) was very anxious to take him prisoner. This savage, taking into consideration the great force that was coming against him, and that he could not resist it, decided to fly to the mountains, which was his only remedy: more he could not do. We Spaniards, who were with him, had news of the misfortune which was coming upon us, and we did not know what to do, or where to place ourselves in safety.


Then, all that was necessary being well prepared, we moved into the castle, with the ornaments and requisites for the Church service, and some relics which were there, and we placed three or four boatloads of stones within, and six muskets, with six cross-bows, and other arms. Then the chief, embracing us, retired to the mountains, all his people having already gone there; and the report was spread throughout the country that Manglana's MacClancy's Castle was put in a state of defence, and would not be surrendered to the enemy, because a Spanish captain, with other Spaniards who were within, guarded held it.


Our courage seemed good to the whole country, and the enemy was very indignant at it, and came upon the castle with his forces—about eighteen hundred men—and observed us from a distance of a mile and a half from it, without being able to approach closer on account of the water which intervened. From thence he exhibited some warnings, and hanged two Spaniards, and did other damages injuries to put us in fear. He demanded many times, by a trumpeter, that we should surrender the castle, and he would spare our lives and give us a pass to Spain. We said to him that he should come closer to the tower, as we did not understand him, appearing always to make little of his threats and promises words.


We had been besieged for seventeen days, when our Lord saw fit to succour and deliver us from that enemy by severe storms and great falls of snow, which took place to such an extent that he the Queen's Governor was compelled to depart with his force, and to march back to Duplin Dublin, where he had his residence and garrisons. From thence he sent us warning that we should keep ourselves out of his hands, and not come within his power; and that he would return in good time to that country. We replied to him much to our satisfaction, and to that of our Governor of the castle, who, when he got the news that the Englishmen had retired, returned to his town and castle greatly appeased and calmed, and they fêted us much.


He the chief very earnestly confirmed us admitted us to full privileges as most loyal friends: offering whatever was his for our service, and the chief persons of the land did the same, neither more nor less. To me he would give a sister of his, that I should marry her. I thanked him much for this; but contented myself with a guide to direct me to a place where I could meet with embarkation for Scotland. He did not wish to give me permission to leave, nor to any Spaniard of those who were with him, saying that the roads were not safe; but his sole object was to detain us, that we might act as his guard.


So much friendship did not appear good to me; and thus I decided, secretly, with four of the soldiers who were in my company, to depart one morning two hours before dawn, so that they should not pursue stop us on the road: and also because one day previously a boy of MacClancy's had told me his father had said that he would not let me leave his castle until the King of Spain should send soldiers to that country; and that he wished to put me in prison, so that I might not go.


Possessed of this information, I dressed myself as best I could, and took to the road, with the four soldiers, one morning ten days after the Nativity, in the year 1588. I went travelling by the mountains and desolate places, enduring much hardship, as God knows; and at the end of twenty days' journey, I got to the place where Alonzo de Leyva, and the Count de Paredes and Don Tomas de Granvela, were lost, with many other gentlemen, to give an account of whom would need a quire of paper. I went to the huts of some savages that were there, who told me of the great misfortunes of our people who were drowned at that place, and showed me many jewels and valuables of theirs, which distressed me greatly. My chief cause of misery was that I had no means of embarking for the Kingdom of Scotland; until one day I heard of the territory of a savage, whom they called Prince Ocan O'Cahan, where there were some vessels that were going to Scotland.


[Here de Cuellar recounts his escape to Scotland and from there to Spain],


From the City of Antwerp, 4th October, 1589.


Signed: FRANCISCO DE CUELLAR.

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De Cuellar in Dartry: 1588

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