Richard Hawkins, a Catholic convert?

That’s what Lope de Vega and Spanish documents say, so how come the British don’t mention it?

Amyas Leigh and Salvation Yeo sharing a superior popular opium in <a href=''>Westward Ho!</a> Edwardian tobacco box from <a href=''>the BM</a>.

Amyas Leigh and Salvation Yeo sharing a superior popular opium in Westward Ho! Edwardian tobacco box from the BM.

La dragontea (1598), Lope de Vega’s verbose epic about Drake/Dragon and his defeat by the alcalde of Nombre de Dios, Diego Suárez de Amaya, gets off to a poor start by echoing Virgil’s “Arma virumque cano“:

Canto las armas y el varón famoso,
que al atrevido inglés detuvo el paso,
aquel nuevo Argonauta prodigioso,
que espantó las estrellas del Ocaso.
Canto el esfuerzo y brazo belicoso
de un español en tan difícil caso,
que en la furia mayor de su discurso
detuvo como rémora su curso.

… and it strikes me that Cervantes is taking the piss in his dedicatory sonnet:

Yace en la parte, que es mejor de España
una apacible y siempre verde Vega,
a quien Apolo su favor no niega,
pues con las aguas de Helicón la baña.

Júpiter labrador por grande hazaña,
su ciencia toda en cultivar la entrega;
Cilenio alegre en ella se sosiega,
Minerva eternamente la acompaña.

Las Musas su Parnaso en ella han hecho,
Venus honesta en ella aumenta y cría
la santa multitud de los amores.

Y así con gusto y general provecho
nuevas flores ofrece cada día,
de ángeles, de armas, santos y pastores.

Yet reading the whole bloody thing gives me the impression that, apart from the odd bout of Protestant-baiting and the–hoho!–curious omission of the Armada, with which he sailed, Lope doesn’t stray far from the official reports that were his principal source. So I find the account of Richard Hawkins‘ conversion in 1595, following the loss of the Dainty, extremely puzzling, since as far as I know it is mentioned nowhere in contemporary or subsequent British accounts of Hawkins’ captivity:

Esto decía don Beltrán, en tanto
que lloraba Ricardo [ie Richard Hawkins] enternecido,
a quien movía un pensamiento santo
el corazón del mismo Dios movido,
y no fue vano el fruto de aquel llanto,
que su estéril terreno humedecido,
la simiente evangélica recibe,
y en el gremio católico se escribe.

There appears to be substantial and unequivocal official documentation confirming this, including the following touching passage:

La causa del dicho Richarte Aquines, decía el inquisidor Ordóñez Flores, se concluyó difinitivamente en 17 de julio próximo pasado, habiéndose reducido antes a nuestra santa fe católica, en 17 de enero deste presente año, en lo cual ha perseverado y persevera con grandes muestras de arrepentimiento, porque al tiempo que se concluyó la causa con él difinitivamente, estaba muy malo y melancólico, tuvimos temor de su vida…

The Spanish accounts and stuff from Hawkins like the “oy por mi, maniana por ti” reciprocity episode on the capture of the Dainty and his justification for the death of the rapist Oxenham suggest that the Spanish and Hawkins got on rather well. From a non-sectarian perspective, it’s really rather sad that death took from him the opportunity to recount whatever really happened to him in captivity.

Similar posts


    1. A Nun
      August 12th 2011 13:07

      Sounds like he had a nervous breakdown in Greater Peru and the Spanish gentry, recognising his other qualities, didn’t take particularly seriously anything he said or did during it.

      Perhaps you should have said who he was at the beginning. On the other hand, if your readers don’t know then they’re also pretty unlikely to care about religion in Early Modern England and Imperial Spain.

    2. Trebots
      August 12th 2011 23:51

      “how come the British don’t mention it”: I don’t know where John Arthur Ray was from, but his 1906 doctoral thesis, Drake dans la poésie espagnole (1570-1732), does mention Hawkins’ conversion, as well as a lot of other interesting stuff which I haven’t yet had time to leaf through. It’s strangely unavailable to Europeans via Google Books, which is presumably why I didn’t pick it up first time. Sorry, Mr Ray, whoever you were!

    3. Ray Girvan
      August 25th 2011 03:59

      “strangely unavailable to Europeans via Google Books”

      It’s a policy quirk. The cutoff date for full view of Google Books from Europe is 1865, whereas they permit US full access to any out-of-copyright works they’ve scanned. As far as I can tell, it’s purely an impediment to non-US commercial use, and they don’t have any problem with fair use if you can get access (I use a proxy server).

    4. Trebots
      August 25th 2011 18:56

      Whenever I’ve used proxies they’ve started demanding money or spamming me. Can anyone recommend where to look? I promise I won’t tell the 7 billion.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *