Spain: April 1522, 1-15

Pages 112-124

Calendar of State Papers, Spain: Further Supplement To Volumes 1 and 2, Documents From Archives in Vienna. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1947.

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April 1522, 1-15

1 April.
H. H. u. St. A. Belgien P. A. 2.
Lachaulx to Charles V.
Yesterday, March 30th, I received your letters of the 11th. Thank you for your opinion of my services ; I hope to carry out successfully the rest of your charge without which the first part is of no account.
I think you are very well advised to start for Spain as soon as possible. Without doubt your affairs both in Spain and Italy will profit by your early arrival there. I hope Wolsey has really arranged for the protection of the Netherlands, so that they may have some security during your absence.
I wrote on March 28th of my intention to sail by the zabra. After having thought it over, the English ambassador agreed, and had the wind been propitious, I should already have set sail. Perhaps it was as well that it was not ; the next evening we had news that a small French ship had captured three fishing vessels within a league of here, plundered two, one of which was loaded with grain, and taken the third a prize. It may be that the small ship came to spy out the land, and has taken the prisoners for further questioning. Since that time the weather has been very had and the winds contrary, so we have been unable to set sail. The nuncio and the English ambassador are now ready to sail also, and we shall all leave together with the first favourable winds. I am very vexed at this delay, since I know the urgent importance of the affairs with which you have charged me. If, on my arrival, your viceroys have as yet done nothing to prevent the entrance of the French ambassadors into your kingdom, I shall ask them to fulfil your pleasure. I do not doubt that your order was carefully considered.
The letter in your hand to the king of Portugal, for which I asked, was for the purpose about which I wrote you, and it seemed to me that I ought to advise you about it. I do not wish to insist on what you should do, but, under correction, the state of affairs seems to require such a letter. I shall do my best to discharge my commissions in any case, in this matter, and with the pope. I shall tell His Holiness about the treaty of Bruges, as you direct, to the best of my ability and as far as I remember, but, as I wrote you, the English ambassador has a copy of the treaty.
Plymouth, 1 April, 1522.
Signed, Lachaulx. French. pp. 3.
4 April.
H. H. u. St. A. England, f. 2.
Charles V to the Ambassadors in England.
We have just been informed that the French have taken prisoner at sea off the coast of Provence, a number of Roman personages, messengers of cardinals and other prelates, going to His Holiness in Spain on affairs concerning his recent election to the papacy. Among these prisoners happened to be a former secretary of the cardinal of Malines, who knows all about the contents of the treaty of Bruges. The French will undoubtedly hold him and seek to extort this and other secret information which it would greatly prejudice the common cause should they obtain. Therefore inform Henry and Wolsey at once, and request them to write, as of their own motion, to the king of France, protesting strongly against this attack on Mother Church and taking the line that Henry, as Defender of the Faith, feels particularly called upon to resent any attack on the rights and dignities of the papacy.
Bruges, 4 April, 1521 [O.S.].
Signed, Charles. French.
6 April.
H. H. u. St. A. England, f. 1.
The Ambassadors in England to Charles V.
We wrote last on March 31st. On April 4th we received yours of March 28th, and immediately set out for Hampton Court, where Wolsey is staying until he leaves to meet your majesty at Dover. On the road we met a messenger from the cardinal coming to summon us on account of letters he had received the night before from his ambassador in France in reply to his instructions about the negotiations for a truce.
We presented our letters as soon as we were admitted to see Wolsey. He said to us : "Late last night I had letters from our ambassador in France, by which I have learned more of the intentions of the French, and have conceived hope of a happy conclusion. Francis began by complaining of my king and me that we were aiding the emperor to ruin him and made little account of his friendship. He said he was scandalized at my statement that I should be obliged to declare against him as the first to break the peace, since it was clear enough from the discussions at Calais, that the emperor had been the first aggressor. He added many complaints of my hostility and my arbitrary alterations of agreements, and said to our ambassador, 'I see it is my fate that everything the emperor says is taken in good part, as the truth, and that everything I say is taken as false and suspect. Nevertheless, I should do much more for the king of England out of pure friendship than through any threat of war, and I am prepared to accept a truce, on condition that not only Milan but all Italy shall be excluded, since it is unjust that the emperor should be free to attack me in Milan, which is my territory, and that I should not be free to attack him in his hereditary lands, from which his army of Naples comes to invade my territory. I wish the emperor to have as much cause to fear war as I. Nevertheless, if the emperor will withdraw his troops from Milan I shall be willing to accept a general truce.'
"To this our ambassador did not reply, since it was quite outside his instructions. Instead, he told Francis that the emperor intended to commend the protection of the Low Countries to Henry, who would not refuse. Francis replied, 'Certainly Henry is better able to defend the Netherlands than the emperor, but I do not think that he holds my friendship so lightly as to accept such a task. If he does I shall know how to defend myself, and all relations will be broken between us.'"
The cardinal then showed us a letter from Louise of Savoy, a copy of which is attached, from which it seemed that she is very much inclined to a peace or a truce. She said that she was sending a negotiator for this purpose. The English ambassador is informed that the person in question will be here shortly, and is said to be favourable to peace. Wolsey expects this person hourly, and believes that, before your majesty leaves Flanders, the negotiation will be concluded. If, for any reason, it is not, he thinks that we can take all the preliminary steps in line with our common opinion of what ought to be done. It is Wolsey's opinion that your majesty ought to open conversations on the basis indicated by Francis to the English ambassador, notwithstanding which Wolsey is confident that, on the arrival of Louise of Savoy's agent, he will be able to bring the French round to terms acceptable to your majesty. But even if that fails, Wolsey advises the acceptance of a truce excluding Italy, because your majesty could then leave the Low Countries at peace, with only a small ordinary garrison, instead of bearing the great expense of keeping a large army in the field there, and also because your majesty could make his voyage to Spain much more safely and with much less expense. To this we replied that it did not become your majesty to expose his person to the enemy's discretion, but that you should travel with such escort as to be safe in any event. Wolsey replied that he thought so too, but that a truce would enable you to cut down military and naval expenses. He also argued that the truce would give your majesty an opportunity to establish order in Spain, and that if you wished to make war on that front, it would be much easier after two years, since that country was at present impoverished by its internal disorders. He said that though the king of England was far better prepared for war at present than your majesty, having a united, loyal and warlike people, eager to attack the French, nevertheless he would hardly be prepared for war in less than six or seven months, and that your majesty, finding Spain poor and disordered, would hardly be able to enter the war until internal difficulties were settled. Therefore Wolsey advised the acceptance of the truce, so that your majesty might be stronger, eventually, for a general war, and in the meanwhile be able to provide for the affairs of Italy out of the savings on the defence of the Netherlands and the maintenance of the navy, so that the French might be driven out of Italy in a few months. We took heart from these words to ask whether Henry's funds, now designed for the naval war, could then be diverted to the payment of the army in Italy. At this Wolsey was much displeased. We added that your majesty had preferred the alliance with Henry to that of all princes in the world, and Wolsey's counsel to all others. Wolsey seemed little inclined to listen to what we said, but he finally said that he supposed in the personal interview of our princes, all these matters could be settled. We have tried to report this conversation exactly, so your majesty may judge the cardinal's intention.
We spoke to Wolsey of your apprehension lest Francis invade Italy in person, and suggested that it be stipulated that neither prince enter Italy personally during the truce. Wolsey was very much displeased and said : "The emperor should pay no attention to idle rumours, but hold firmly to the attempt to conclude a favourable truce. The task is to prepare for war, and meanwhile to try to draw out the French terms. If they are favourable we will accept them, if not, we will abide by the treaty of Bruges. It is not to the emperor's honour to appear to be afraid that Francis will invade Italy in person, even if he intended to do so, which is not so. The emperor should make no such condition, but should provide for the safety of Italy in any emergency. But I am convinced that Francis will not go, for four reasons : first, if he is the stronger there his presence is unnecessary ; second, if he is the weaker, he would not be so foolish as to risk his person ; third, he would not expose his kingdom by his absence without being sure of English neutrality ; fourth, once the emperor is in Spain he can make the French king tremble, not merely for Italy but for France. Therefore I urge the emperor in no way to intermit his efforts in Italy, and I, who was opposed to the attack on Milan in the first place, because of the risks involved, now urge that, since he has begun, it be pressed by all means for the sake of the emperor's reputation." The cardinal said this, fearing your majesty might be inclined to accept the French proposal for a general truce on condition that your army be withdrawn from Milan. We are sending a copy of the letter of the English ambassador as soon as it has been put into French.
The French ambassador to Scotland has recently passed through here on his way back to France, as full of lies as ever. The duke of Albany, after taking a very defiant tone, has finally offered to depart for France if Henry will accept a truce, not with him, but with the estates and kingdom of Scotland. Henry, who does not believe either Albany or the ambassador, has refused. The ambassador says that the duke has taken the queen dowager of Scotland prisoner, and is sending her to France, so as to have the whole kingdom at his disposal. The war will go on, and Scotland will soon be invaded.
The ships for your majesty's crossing are being got ready ; Wolsey says that, though he could not have been ready by the tenth, everything will be in order by the 26th, and he himself is prepared to set out on that day. The nobles also will be ready, and the city of London is making great preparations, to the expenses of which all the French here resident have reluctantly contributed. The French are spreading the rumour, as appears both by the letter of the French king and what the English ambassador writes, that Milan has been taken with great slaughter. I, De Mesa, wrote this to the pope and also to Lachaulx, to whom I forwarded your majesty's letters. I do not know whether the courier reached him before he sailed, since the wind here changed yesterday. I am forwarding Lachaulx's reply to your earlier letter. I have not yet received yours of March 28th inclosing the memoir, and the letter from Jerome Adorno which your majesty was to send. At times like these your majesty ought not to trust letters to the stranger's post, but only to your own diligent couriers.
London, 6 April.
Contemporary decipher. Latin. pp. 8.
12 April.
H. H. u. St. A. England, f. 2.
Charles V to Henry VIII.
After receiving your letter of March 23rd, and replying that we were content to postpone our arrival at Calais till the 26th of April, we have diligently continued the equipment of the fleet with provisions, artillery and munitions, so that everything necessary will be ready for our voyage to Spain on the appointed day. After our letter to you had been sent, however, we received certain news from Italy, both of the early departure of the pope, who is going there, and also of the great Turkish preparations against our kingdoms of Naples and Sicily. We are therefore obliged to take certain measures, particularly the sending of our brother, the archduke, into our hereditary lands in Germany, and of our viceroy and captain general of Naples to Italy. These affairs will somewhat delay our arrival at Calais. We beg you, therefore, to excuse this delay ; and to be ready to receive us on May 12th. We have written of these matters more at length to our ambassadors, for whom we beg credence.
Brussels, 12 April, 1522.
Copy. French. pp. 2. Calendared in L. & P. III, 925 from the original in the British Museum.
12 April.
H. H. u. St. A. England, f. 2.
Charles V to Wolsey.
I have written to my ambassadors who will tell you fully and frankly of my affairs as a friend whom I have found good and loyal and in whom I have perfect confidence. Please give them credence.
Copy. French. Calendared in L. & P. III, 925 from the original in the Public Record Office.
12 April.
H. H. u. St. A. England, f. 2.
Charles V to the Ambassadors in England.
Your letters of March 31st reached here April 9th. About the truce negotiations, the English ambassador here says the French answer should have been communicated to Wolsey on the 5th and transmitted to you the next day. Do not neglect to urge the utmost speed in concluding these negotiations, since the delay is very prejudicial as you should know.
We are obliged to delay our crossing until May 12th, on which day we shall be at Calais as you may gather from our letters to Henry and Wolsey. We are sending you special credence in this matter, and you will explain the reasons contained in our letters to the king and the cardinal, so they may take the delay in good part, adding any other arguments your prudence and dexterity suggest. We note what Wolsey says about the readiness of Henry to undertake the defence of the Low Countries, and the zeal of the nobles and commons of England for that cause. We wish to acknowledge that we owe this largely to Wolsey. You may tell him that if the kingdom of England is ever in need of similar assistance, it will be rendered not only by our subjects of the Low Countries, but by those of all our realms, and we will employ all our means in defence of England, and go in person if necessary.
As for what Wolsey says about recovering Milan with English aid, you may say we hope we shall never have to attempt that, since the two countries are too far apart for successful co-operation in such a task, and the immediate consequences of the loss of Milan would be most unpleasant. The best means of protecting Milan would be for Henry to authorize Pace to advance the 50,000 crowns with which he is provided, to the duke, as a loan. This sum would enable the duke to raise a considerable number of fresh infantry, check the king of France, and do him more harm than could be done with two millions in gold hereafter. Therefore do your best to secure this loan. Its necessity is apparent in the letters from Italy which we have just received, copies of which are being sent you, and from which you may learn the confusion of affairs there at present.
We have already written about Wolsey's pensions, and are awaiting your reply. Your successor in the English embassy will be named in a few days. We have written you a separate letter, recommending Giovanni Matteo, (fn. 1) the secretary of Cardinal de Medici, who is coming to England.
Brussels, 12 April, 1522.
Contemporary draft. French. pp. 3.
12 April.
H. H. u. St. A. England, f. 1.
The Ambassadors in England to Charles V.
Our last letter was sent April 7th. The same day we received yours of March 31st, with Swiss and Italian news, to which we shall now reply, first relating events that have taken place here.
Before we received your letters we had gone to Richmond, where we found Henry and Wolsey and also the French ambassadors, both the one from Scotland, and Poillot the resident. When we arrived the French were in conference with the cardinal, and we were for some time in the same room. Wolsey dismissed them, and greeted us, but no business was done, since it was dinner time. We all dined together, and the French, being somewhat above themselves, and their tongues loosened, ventured certain remarks reflecting on your majesty and exalting their king. Wolsey rebuked them sharply, saying : "I told you in Calais that I would give judgment against you, and I tell you now that you had better not argue with the emperor's ambassadors, whose wit and whose cause are better than yours." Poillot was much abashed, and everyone smiled. After dinner Wolsey drew us apart, dismissing the French, and began at once : "Ambassadors, we have been very diligent in seeking this truce, which we know is to the emperor's advantage, and, though my king is more ready than ever to declare war, a truce, during which we can prepare to defeat the common enemy, still seems desirable. I certainly do not advise the emperor to abandon the Milanese campaign, especially since things are going so well there, and he has the better of the French. Moreover, there is his reputation to consider, and Milan, once lost, will be hard to recover. I am of the opinion, however, that he should risk an attack on Naples rather than abandon these negotiations. As for me, I would sell my shirt to support the emperor, and I would rather give 50,000 crowns of my own money than see him lose Milan. Nor will my king fail him in aid and counsel. I advise him, however, to accept this truce excluding only Italy, by which means the Netherlands will be made safe, Spanish affairs more easily settled, and the emperor free of the expenses of ships and garrisons, so that by concentrating his efforts in Italy he may more easily crush the enemy there. If, however, this advice does not please him, we shall adhere scrupulously to the treaty of Bruges."
He then asked us to discuss the principal heads of our last letters from your majesty with him before our interview with Henry. Wolsey took very well your suggestion that his pension should not begin until the French payments stopped, saying that he wished to lighten your majesty's burdens, not increase them ; though he also remarked that he hoped his former pension of a thousand angels would be continued. We assured him that your majesty intended to increase that rather than diminish it. He was pleased by your decision about your crossing, and assured us that everything would be ready. The admiral of England and other notable persons are to cross to Gravelines, since your crossing cannot be kept secret, and it is fitting that you should have a proper escort. To our request that the navy be strengthened, he said that he personally would guarantee your safe crossing, that he held your safety as dear as his own king's, and, if there were any danger, Henry himself would come to Calais rather than expose your majesty to the slightest risk. He added that he had spies who would report any movements of the enemy by land or sea, and he advised your majesty to take a similar precaution.
He said everything was being made ready for your reception, letters had already been sent throughout the kingdom, and on April 26th the entire English nobility would gather round Henry at Canterbury. The whole English people, he said, joyfully expected you, and indeed we hear that greater love could not be shown to the natural heir of the kingdom than the English manifest toward your majesty. We cannot express how much the king himself desires to see you, and how joyfully the people await your coming. Wolsey said that pack trains and all necessary preparations would be ready for your land journey, although he feared you would find it very tedious and laborious to go as far as Falmouth, since provisions would be very hard to find, and the whole country is mountainous, so that your train would be worn out before they reached port. All this inconvenience, he said, could be avoided by sailing from Southampton, but the decision was for your majesty to make.
In discussing terms for a truce, we dwelt most on your desire to include a clause stipulating that the king of France should not go to Italy in person, and that if he did so, Henry would hasten his declaration of war, and help to repulse the enemy either by the loan of the 50,000 ducats, or by sending a force of English infantry to threaten the French and induce them to withdraw. Briefly, the decision of the English as stated by Wolsey and later confirmed by Henry is as follows : "If a truce is concluded on terms satisfactory to the emperor, there will be no occasion," Wolsey said, "for us to carry on war ; if Italy is excepted from the truce my king will be very unwilling to see the emperor lose there, and will consult with him on means of safeguarding all that he holds in Italy, and give him assistance ; if the emperor is unwilling to agree to a truce on any terms acceptable to France, we shall proceed according to the treaty of Bruges when he reaches England. It seems improper, however, to stipulate that Francis shall not go to Italy in person ; if he does, we shall find means of sending him home again in a hurry, at such risk to his person as I hardly believe he will run. Indeed, I wish he would make the mistake of going to Italy ; he would not get back to France so easily." All this Henry reiterated.
Wolsey was very pleased with your majesty's message about the master gunners. He hopes you will send some, since such an act would have a very favourable effect both on Henry and the people, so that a small expense will bring a large return. As far as public opinion goes, it will not matter whether they are good gunners or not. As to the expulsion of the Scots from the Low Countries, Wolsey said that on your arrival in England the French and all your other enemies would certainly be expelled, and that although you were not obliged to do so, you ought not, as a matter of friendship, to make any great point of fifteen or twenty days which might intervene between one act or the other. We repeated what your majesty had written, but Wolsey persisted in his opinion.
When we asked that Francis be admonished according to your letters patent, Wolsey said this was quite unnecessary since if no truce was concluded, Henry intended to declare war at once. In replying to what your majesty had said about being willing to accept a peace if no truce could be obtained, Wolsey insisted that a truce was much more desirable. We found Henry in the same opinion, and indeed we think they both would prefer war to a permanent peace.
After this discussion Wolsey left us, and spoke briefly with Henry. We were then called to the king's closet, where we presented your letters and explained our commission. Henry received us cordially, and said he was eager to see your majesty, and everything would be ready for your crossing on the appointed day. When we urged some augmentation of the numbers of ships and fighting men, he said that more than adequate provision had already been made, and if anyone doubted this, or if there was any suspicion of danger, he would himself cross to Calais and escort you in person. He advised, however, that precautions be taken for your journey from Gravelines to Calais, since his spies reported that the French had a considerable army in Picardy. It is still to be ascertained where this army is, and how strong. He has ordered the garrison at Calais and other English subjects in the Pale to be ready to escort your majesty, and the treasurer of Calais has been sent to take charge. Nevertheless, it is desirable, Henry says, that your majesty should have a strong escort, since it is impossible to take too many precautions for your personal safety. He then replied in the same terms as Wolsey, which for brevity we omit.
Of the truce he said that, although the person being sent by Louise of Savoy was hourly expected, there was no reason to delay our discussions with Poillot, who had ample powers and instructions. We asked what conditions he thought the French would offer, and whether he advised their acceptance. He replied that although the French king was undefeated, and suspected that you would use the truce to strengthen yourself, nevertheless, coerced by English threats, he was willing to accept a truce including everything except Italy. Such a truce he advised your majesty to accept, for the same reasons Wolsey had already advanced, adding that if you refused, he was ready to join you in the war, even though neither of you was completely prepared. He advised, however, that, since you had so much to do in Spain, and were not well provided with money, you should accept a truce for two years, during which time such preparations could be made on both sides that the French could be completely defeated.
"I fear," he said, "that if the emperor does not accept the truce, he will regret it before long." We replied that your majesty had perfect confidence Henry would not advise a disadvantageous truce, but you feared that Francis, taking advantage of the armistice elsewhere, would invade Italy with a great power, and if the burden of defence proved too heavy, and if the king of England did not aid your majesty with money to increase the Italian army, to be later repaid by the duke of Milan, Italy would be lost. Henry replied : "Let a truce be made, and if Italian affairs remain in peril, I will consult with the emperor on what must be done. I would rather lose a part of my own kingdom than have him lose his possessions in Italy, and the emperor shall see that I will support his projects as my own. I still believe that a truce should be concluded, including all his majesty's other lands and allies, but leaving Italy in war. It seems unreasonable, however, to insist that Francis shall not invade Italy in person. There is no appearance that he intends to do so, but if he does, it is to be hoped the emperor and I can take such measures that he will return from there without honour, but not without danger." Seeing that the king was of the same opinion as the cardinal, we decided to keep silent about the request for troops or for money for the Italian army, not wishing to irritate the English, and thinking it would be better to settle the question in a personal conversation. If your majesty disagrees, we can still mention this point later.
The same day, after we left Henry, he had a long conversation with the French ambassadors, in the course of which he got exceedingly angry and said to them : "Write your king that I can uphold him no longer, nor will I endure his daily insults. I hold him perjured for his failure to pay the money due and fulfil his other treaty obligations. For the good of Christendom I have interceded with my nephew, the emperor, to make a truce ; if your king will accept reasonable conditions, well ; if not, I shall declare myself his enemy as soon as the emperor reaches England. You may take this for certain." Thereupon he dismissed the ambassadors. I, de Caestres, heard these words from Wolsey, who was present, and we both had an exactly similar account later from the admiral, who was also at the interview. Although Wolsey is still waiting for Louise of Savoy's messenger, we understand that the French ambassadors already here have full powers for a truce ; we hope your majesty will let us know your pleasure.
Henry warned us that since the French were collecting an army in Picardy, your majesty should take every precaution on your journey to Calais. The admiral, who has shown himself a zealous servant of your majesty, told us his spies reported that the French were preparing a number of ships, not sufficient to interrupt your majesty's crossing, but enough, perhaps, to make descent on Flanders, or to attack Calais, while our Flanders fleet and the English fleet were both absent. The admiral felt that provision should be made against such a contingency.
12 April, 1522.
Contemporary decipher. Latin. pp. 13.
15 April.
H. H. u. St. A. Belgien D. D. Abt. B. f. 4.
Charles V to Henry VIII.
Asks credence for what he is writing to Wolsey and more at length to his ambassadors.
Bruges, 15 April, 1522.
Contemporary draft. French.
15 April.
H. H. u. St. A. Belgien D. D. Abt. B. f. 4.
Charles V to Wolsey.
I have such confidence in you that I will not conceal from you my distress at the delay in the peace negotiations, which have been entirely in your hands. Having signed the treaty of Bruges at your advice, I have been obliged to sustain alone the whole charge of this war in which the king of England would have been otherwise bound by treaty to assist me. I have been, and still am being, oppressed by such great burdens on this account that, unless some honourable peace or truce can be promptly arranged, I shall be forced, much to my regret, to believe that my affairs do not greatly concern you, a thing I have never been willing to credit. I can not believe that you wish my enemies to have the advantage of me, and to dispose of Italy and the papacy at their pleasure, as they may do unless you contrive some remedy. Therefore I beg you affectionately to end these protracted negotiations or to declare yourself on my side, and furnish a considerable sum of money to help defend Milan. Without truce or help, I do not know how I can hold out. I have written to my ambassadors more at length on this subject, as you will hear from them. So that you may know how closely this matter touches me I have put here this mark ... the meaning of which you know. I have written to the king, my good father and uncle, referring to what I have here written you and to what my ambassadors will say.
Brussels, 15 April.
In the hand of your good friend, Charles.
Copy. French. pp. 2. Calendared in the L. & P. III, 928 from the original in the British Museum.
15 April.
H. H. u. St. A. England f. 1.
The Ambassadors in England to Charles V.
Henry has just sent the admiral to us with news which your majesty should hear without delay. He first told us of the destruction of Delsay, who was cut off by the duke of Milan while he was attempting to join his brother. Henry was delighted. Lalemand had written us this, but we think you ought to know that Henry had it, through his ambassadors with you, a whole day before we did. The admiral also reported that some of Henry's spies had returned from France with news which, while perhaps not entirely accurate, should be weighed carefully since their accounts are all alike. The French are said to be preparing a powerful fleet ; early reports spoke only of smaller ships, now it appears there are great ones as well. They are showing great diligence, and it seems likely to Henry and the admiral that, if the French see that the Channel is not well guarded, they will attempt to interrupt your crossing. The admiral assured us, however, that the English will be so strong that the French will not dare to show themselves. But he and the king think that, after your majesty has crossed, the French may make a descent somewhere in the Low Countries, perhaps in Zeeland, before the combined fleets can get back to oppose them. A rumour is current in Normandy, the admiral said, that your majesty intends to cross to England, but will not be allowed to do so without opposition. Spies also report a great force of horse and foot being gathered in Picardy, for what reason is not certain, but, from what they can learn, it is either to attack your lands after your departure, or to intercept you on the way to Calais. To get further news Henry is sending a fast galley to-day to the Norman and Breton coasts, either to pick up an English ship from which the truth can be learned, or if this is impossible, to raid the French coast and carry off prisoners who may be able to give more information. The king advises you to send spies into Picardy, and to provide against surprise before the English can come to your aid by keeping a strong escort with you as far as Calais. A spy from La Rochelle says he has heard that Francis is bringing fifteen galleys from Genoa and Marseilles. The admiral does not believe this, since such ships would run a great risk of being cut off at Gibraltar, and would certainly have been reported along the Spanish coast long before they could reach Brest. Nevertheless, Henry is thinking of seizing two Venetian galleys now in Southampton and using them to strengthen the fleet.
The admiral, who is a shrewd man, and in the English king's most secret counsels, believes that you and Henry should act as if all negotiations with the French had ceased, and there was no likelihood of a truce. He advises your majesty to make all haste to Spain, from which side the most powerful attack on France can be made, which will be the best assurance of the safety of the Netherlands. He says the eleven ships appointed for your majesty's crossing will weigh anchor on April 16th, winds being propitious, and by Easter morning at the latest will be at sea. He, himself, will be in Calais on April 22nd, and remain there on St. George's Day, on which knights of the order are supposed to spend all their time at divine service. The vice-admiral will be with him, for although both are needed here for naval affairs, Wolsey is unwilling to entrust your majesty's safety to anyone else. A board of seven or eight persons has been appointed to complete the naval preparations in their absence. The admiral promises that, on May first, the whole fleet, two ships excepted, will leave the mouth of the Thames and that these two will be ready a day or two later. He asks us to assure your majesty that he intends to serve you as faithfully as his father served your ancestor, Duke Charles. He repeated a warning given us previously, both by Henry and Wolsey, that the French seemed fully informed of many of the decisions of your majesty's council and of the whole state of your lands.
London, 15 April.
Contemporary decipher. Latin. pp. 4.


  • 1. Giovanni Matteo Ghiberti, later bishop of Verona and one of the leaders of the pro-French party.