Martin Frobisher, the Spaniards and a Sixteenth Century Northern Spy
By Bernard Allaire and Donald Hogarth
everal tasks awaited the new Spanish ambassador, Bernardino de Mendoza, upon his arrival in England at the beginning of 1578. He had to liberate his predecessor from an English prison, secretly establish links with English Catholics, and find out as much as he could about the Frobisher expedition - rumours about which were causing concern to the King of Spain. Philip II suspected that the English were scheming to attack his American colonies under cover of a colonization venture. By studying and deciphering coded correspondence of Mendoza we can discover new aspects of these voyages. They reveal that he had sent to Spain for analysis samples of the ore brought back from the Arctic and had placed a spy aboard one of Frobisher's ships. Mendoza's transmission of this spy's report provides a formerly unknown account of the third voyage to Meta Incognita.