Spain: January 1523

Pages 169-188

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.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. All rights reserved.


January 1523

1523. 1 Jan.
H. H. u. St. A. Belgien D. D. Abt. B. f. 6.
Pope Adrian VI to B. De Mesa, Bishop of Badajoz.
We were rejoiced that in your letters written about the beginning of November and received a little before the end of December, you showed yourself ready to persuade the most serene king [Henry] to accept just conditions of peace with other Christian princes. Such a peace is most necessary to the preservation of the Christian republic, and we have given grave thought to it for a long time. We wrote to each of the three kings, beseeching them to accept at once a truce for three years, during which truce the imminent perils to Christendom might be averted by their joint arms, and a perpetual peace arranged. Since the emperor, Charles, and King Henry might be unwilling to accept such truce, having in mind that the king of the French would not observe it unless he thought it to his advantage, we wrote that, to obviate this difficulty, it seemed to us that the signatories should be expressly warned that whoever should break the truce would find that all the others were sworn to hold him their common enemy, and we think that even we, the universal father of all Christians, ought to promise to exert all our force against such a violator, who should be held no Christian, but the common enemy of all Christians. We called these kings to witness that the serious war which the Turkish tyrant is preparing against Christendom for next spring, requires a truce so that he may be opposed by united forces. And we besought them not to value their private interests higher than the common good of Christendom. The Emperor Charles replied that he could not honourably accept a peace leaving King Henry at war, since he had induced the king, by his promises, to enter the war, thus plainly insinuating that, if we could obtain the consent of King Henry for the truce, he would not refuse. Such an act would be deserving of the highest praise from all Christendom, and we exhort you, bishop of Badajoz, to prosecute it.
Rome, 1 January, 1523.
Copy. Latin. pp. 3.
8 Jan.
England, f. 2.
Charles V to the Ambassadors in England.
We have received two letters from you, one of November 6th by the courier Martin Nuñes, and the other of October 10th by our cousin of Ravenstein's (fn. 1) chaplain. The English ambassadors here have given us an account similar to yours of the reply which Henry and Wolsey made to Bernadino Bertolotti, the pope's servant, about the matter of peace or truce. As I have written you, and as the cardinal will tell you, these proposals seem to us holy, catholic, and worthy of the papal dignity. Say to Henry and Wolsey we are grateful that they have replied to Bernadino so conformably to our treaties, and assure them they will find reciprocal behaviour on our part. As they know, we have been unwilling to discuss any treaty without their advice and consent. We approve Wolsey's suggestion that it would be well to enter into peace negotiations, providing that the pope can induce the French to speak first, and to offer satisfactory conditions. Since we have already written you fully on this subject by Richard, we have nothing to add until we have your response. The best thing would be for Henry to state the terms he would accept, and to send a power to his ambassador in Rome to treat jointly with ours.
Wolsey is quite right : the "Great Enterprise" requires long and mature deliberation. Therefore we are especially anxious to know what you have arranged with him about it, following what we wrote you by Richard, so that, in case no truce or peace has been arranged for next spring, we may arrange that nothing will be lacking on our side.
The ambassador of the king of Portugal is still here. As to the two marriages, we shall act as we have written you, observing scrupulously all the points of our treaties.
We should have been very happy to have made use of Wolsey's proffered mediation with Venice, since there is no one in whom we have greater confidence, but we believe that by this time the matter will have been decided one way or the other, for, as we wrote you, we sent Geronimo Adorno to Venice with power to treat, and we understand that he arrived there about the thirtieth of November. We shall let you know what he has arranged.
The English ambassadors have shown us copies of the duke of Albany's demands, and of Wolsey's reply, which we find very good, well argued and well stated. Thank him for remembering to inform us about Scottish affairs, and assure him that we hope everything will arrange itself as he wishes.
Following your suggestion that we should acknowledge the good will of the cardinal and the admiral of England, we are writing them in terms which you may see by the copies herewith enclosed. Give them these letters from us with whatever good words your prudence suggests. Say also to Wolsey that we have been very sorry to hear of his indisposition and earnestly desire his better health, since we hold him our good and loyal friend and a person most necessary to the good understanding between the king of England and us, and to the prudent conduct of our affairs. Ask him whether there is anything we can do to please him or assist in his recovery.
We have no desire to make any difficulty over Wolsey's request for our copies of the treaty of Bruges, and we are writing at once to Madame our aunt, asking her to send the treaty. When you receive it, you will deliver it to Wolsey, and receive from him the copy he had of us, so that both copies may be destroyed in the presence of both parties, as we agreed at Windsor.
Thank Henry for the biscuits he supplied to our Spanish forces at sea, in return for which they pledged the carrack and its artillery, and see that he is repaid at once. You will raise the money from Antonio Vivaldi, to whom we are writing for this purpose, as you may see from the letter which you are to give him, promising him that he will be promptly repaid. Free the carrack for whatever service seems necessary, and, in regard to other naval affairs, conduct yourselves in accordance with what we wrote by Richard. If you have already furnished, or in future find it advisable to furnish, money for this purpose, as it seems likely you may be obliged to do, make use of Vivaldi, and as we have already arranged for him to be repaid for his advances according to the account you sent us, so we shall do in future. There seems to be no other convenient way to meet these naval expenses, since they should be small from now on and we cannot tell exactly what they will be.
After Richard's departure we received several letters of different dates from Italy, the substance of which is contained in a news letter which we are sending you herewith to be communicated to Henry and Wolsey, so that they may know that we wish to inform them frankly of all our affairs. Since the departure of the last courier, December 12th, the French attempted to re-victual Fuenterrabia from the seashore, which they approached with eight warships and a number of little galleons and caravels loaded with provisions. On their first attempt our troops entrenched along the seashore, drove them off with the fire of their artillery. The second time, the French encountered ten of our warships, which pursued them, but were unable to overtake them because the wind was too light. The French appeared to have sailed off altogether, but tried again in a few days, and were again pursued by our warships as far as Bayonne, and two of their small ships, loaded with wine and cheese, were captured. Since this, a considerable French army, reported as five hundred lances and ten thousand foot, has been thrown into St-Jean-de-Luz, apparently with the intention of landing the provisions there and attempting to re-victual Fuenterrabia by land. Our troops, however, are in considerable force, and hope to cut off their road and repel them in battle if they make the attempt.
Valladolid, 8 January, 1523.
Contemporary draft. French. pp. 6.
20 Jan.
H. H. u. St. A. England, f. 1.
The Ambassadors in England to Charles V.
Richard arrived here December 10th with your majesty's letters dated October 31st and November 1st, which we were glad to receive, both because they informed us of your majesty's continued prosperity and because we had had no news for a long time. Your majesty will have learned from the dispatches brought by Martin Nuñes, our last courier, of events here up to the time of his departure, particularly the arrival of Jehan de le Sauch, the reason for his mission, and Wolsey's first reply to his requests. The day after the courier left, le Sauch received Wolsey's final reply, which was that Henry was willing, in accordance with the agreement between Surrey and Madame, to pay one thousand infantry and one thousand horse for the defence of the Low Countries until the end of November, provided that the troops should be paid by his agents at the same rate as when in your majesty's service last summer, and provided also that these troops, and all the power which Madame could raise, should make a raid during this time on the French frontier. All these conditions were set forth in a memorandum handed by Wolsey to le Sauch to be presented to Madame. Many of the conditions were not feasible, and seemed to us very unreasonable, among them that the whole county of Saint-Pol, which is neutral territory, should be burned, and also many other villages belonging to your subjects in Artois, with the stated object of starving out Therouanne and preventing its revictuallment by the French. The whole memorandum was couched in terms which showed clearly that the English really put their trust in the sea, their lands beyond it being of small extent, and consequently not easy to damage seriously. It is to be hoped, as Madame will write you, that some profitable deed will be performed at Thérouanne, without burning the countryside, or injuring your subjects of Artois, for the count of Gavre is now at Saint-Omer with a strong force of infantry and blockades Thérouanne so closely that he hopes soon to receive its surrender. He would have been aided had the king of England been willing to continue to pay a thousand infantry for the past month, which we have constantly endeavoured to persuade him to do, but without success because Wolsey has been so ill during most of November and December that until a few days ago it was impossible to see him. We do not know, therefore, what the outcome has been at Thérouanne ; if it is lost for so small a thing, it will be a great pity.
The rest of le Sauch's mission was to transfer Lescano's company to Flanders, and in this he was so diligent that Lescano and his men were landed in Zeeland about November 10th. Since then Madame has changed her mind, and decided to find ships to send Lescano and his Spaniards home, since she is already at so great charge to maintain the infantry during this winter that she cannot pay these additional troops, and she fears that, lacking payment, they will plunder the poor people, as Picharro's band have already begun to do, so that the commons of Flanders might begin to complain. All these reasons will be set forth in Madame's letters, and we have made no objection to this arrangement since it was conformable to the third article in your last letter, and we have been unable to act directly, Lescano and his forces being in Zeeland, unless they have already left for Spain. We forwarded your letters to Lescano and, at the same time, advised Madame of what you had written on this point. Nothing remains for the fulfilment of all our agreements with Wolsey about naval affairs, except to provide four hundred fighting men to keep the Channel during this winter. These, Madame writes, were ready three days ago, having been equipped by the county of Flanders, so that the cardinal will be satisfied in this matter. We thank your majesty for having arranged that Vivaldi should be repaid the sums we borrowed for naval affairs. We gave him your letters with which he was very pleased. We have heard since, however, that payment was not made at Medina del Campo according to his letter, but was assigned by the treasurer Vargas on Andalusia, so that Vivaldi is not yet sure of his money.
A few days ago there arrived here a young Spanish servant of the archbishop of Bari, papal nuncio in France, bearing a safeconduct from King Francis. This person was charged to inquire whether Bernadino, who was sent here by the pope about a truce or peace, is alive or dead. He has been here so long that His Holiness had begun to fear something might have happened to him on the way. His Holiness therefore sent the archbishop of Bari copies of his letters to Henry and Wolsey to be delivered to them if they had not already received them. This was not necessary, as Bari's servant found that Bernadino had fulfilled his mission and departed. We had several conversations with this young man, who told us that the king of France reached Paris November 28th and that the queen mother was very ill. He also said that the king of France had fitted out six ships to re-victual Fuenterrabia, and that the French are spreading the report that they will soon re-enter Italy. The duke of Albany reached court on November 28th ; Francis hopes to use him to make serious war on Henry from Scotland next summer. Francis hunts and takes his pleasures daily ; there is no other news of importance.
You know from our former letters of the bad state of the cardinal's health. During the last six weeks he has been much worse, so that he has been unable to see anybody, and was obliged to retire on St. Martin's Day [Nov. 11th] to Hampton Court, where he remained completely secluded until December 13th, seeing no one but a few body servants, and unable to conduct any business. This was very awkward for us, since we did not know to whom to turn. Henry has been far from London all this season (he only returned on December 18th) and we did not dare address anyone else without your orders, although no doubt in the long run, should Wolsey's malady grow worse, the king will be obliged to attend to his affairs more closely himself. In this case, we shall be obliged to seek some other avenue of negotiation, but for the present Wolsey is somewhat better, and we did not wish to take any such step without knowing your majesty's pleasure, which we beg you to state by the first courier.
As to the routine conduct of our negotiations : Immediately on Richard's arrival, according to our usual custom, we sent a messenger to Hampton Court to ask for audience. On December 13th we had audience at Hampton Court. We found Wolsey looking very ill. We repeated to him the points of your majesty's letter in order, except that we reserved the matter of Prospero Colonna, and Italian affairs generally, for the last as most important. Wolsey showed himself very pleased and said no man living was more anxious for your prosperity than he, and the king his master. He approved your answer to the French, and said to us that the sole means of dealing with them was to make them understand the indissoluble amity between the king, his master, and your majesty.
After Wolsey had replied to the other points in your letters, we told him all about the offers made you through Prospero Colonna by the king of France and his mother, and about your reply. We also told him of the efforts which the pope was making for peace, showed him the archbishop of Bari's letter, and asked for his opinion and Henry's. Wolsey replied that your answer to the overtures through Prospero had been prudent and honourable, and that it would be most unwise to abandon Francesco Sforza and restore Maximilian. Of the pope's efforts he said he thought that should the king of France make a joint offer of peace to Henry and you under honourable conditions, it should be discussed. To sound him out further on this point, according to your instructions, we told him that the duke of Milan was quite unprovided with money, and also that your majesty had sent Geronimo Adorno to try to arrange a treaty with Venice in conjunction with Richard Pace and the papal nuncio, but that there seemed little likelihood of their success. We pointed out also the difficulty of keeping the Swiss quiet, and said it was clear your majesty could not long sustain the great expense of the Italian war without some English contribution to help win over the Swiss.
Wolsey replied at once to these two points, much as we expected. He said your majesty was too hard with the Venetians, and that they had decided, according to what Pace wrote him, to adhere to the French because you asked so large a sum of money of them. They would never abandon the French, he said, without being assured of a good peace with your majesty, and you ought to see to this since it would be no mean stroke to deprive the French of such powerful allies, especially now, when Francis had no other means of finding money for the war except in Venice, as Pace wrote. The Signory, he was informed, despairing of meeting your majesty's demands, was making the greatest preparations it could for war, either to defend itself or to help the French. These opinions of Wolsey's are in agreement with what we have learned from other sources and with what we wrote in our last letter, urging upon your majesty the desirability of peace with Venice.
As to our suggestion of a contribution by the king of England to help the Italian campaign and win over the Swiss, Wolsey, with a great appearance of astonishment, asked if we meant to ask the king for money. We said it seemed a reasonable request since it was for the common good, and Wolsey said nothing more whatever on the subject.
In an effort to get Wolsey to be more open with us, we said that although matters had gone very well since your arrival in Spain, so that you had been able to fulfil all your treaty obligations, you had not yet decided whether or not the "Great Enterprise" could be hastened. You would inform Henry, we said, as soon as you were certain. Meanwhile, since the journey from here to Spain was long and hazardous, we asked, in your name, that you be informed as soon as possible at what time next summer, and by what means, it was felt the common enemy could be most harmed, since you did not wish to act without the advice of the king and the cardinal. Wolsey then began to speak more frankly. He said he was informed that your majesty would be unable to hasten the "Great Enterprise" to next summer for several reasons, arising from the recent disorders in Spain and the short time you had been there. Even if you were ready, he said, Henry would not be, because he had certain news from Scotland that Albany had drawn all that realm entirely to the side of the French, and had then gone to take the good news to the king of France, and to obtain from him men and money for a great invasion of England in September, the best time for such operations on the Scottish border. Wolsey said he was also informed that the king of Denmark intended to invade this kingdom next summer, and would have done so indeed last year had it not been for his war with the Esterlings. Wolsey said he had been warned that King Francis will undertake something against this kingdom next summer, making use of the brother of the late duke of Suffolk, who is called "White Rose." For all these reasons Wolsey was opposed to beginning the "Great Enterprise" before the appointed time.
As for the best means of injuring the French this year, Wolsey appeared to find the question very difficult. He said that during the last month, in which his illness had kept him so much alone, he had given the matter a great deal of thought. On the one hand it seemed shameful that two such kings should stand merely on the defensive without attacking their common enemy ; on the other, the danger from Scotland and Denmark made him unwilling to send many men and horses out of this kingdom at one end, when they would have to await battle at the other from such a great power as the Scots would be able to assemble. Also, even a small army for offensive operations next year, would cost a great deal of money, at a time when as much as possible ought to be saved for an overwhelming attack on the French the year after. Wolsey talked a long time about this, but his conclusion was that it would be best to try to arrange an armistice for a year, for which purpose he thought no one would be more useful than the pope, who, as the universal father of Christendom, could enjoin both parties to agree to a year's truce in order to avoid the present dangers to Christendom, the status quo to be preserved, and no other conditions to be imposed. During this time, either a more lasting peace could be arranged, or your majesty and the king of England could gather means to attack the French more severely.
We replied that we had no means of knowing your majesty's intentions, but that we did not doubt you would wish to follow the cardinal's advice. In that case, we said, we were sure you would want to know what terms Henry and Wolsey would think satisfactory both for you and for them, and we should be glad to report at once whatever Wolsey advised. Wolsey asked for time to reflect, and dismissed us, saying he would be in London the following week to talk to Henry as we could do also.
In pursuance of our duty we went to pay our respects to the king on the day after his arrival in London, December 19th, We gave him your majesty's letters and showed him our credentials as we had done with Wolsey before, adding the contents of your letters of November 27th which we had not received when we saw Wolsey. Henry made the most cordial possible reply to all our charge, showing the greatest happiness at the news of your prosperity and especially of your constant affection for him, and assuring us that his own for you had not altered, and that, if your majesty found any fault in him, you should never trust any Christian prince, as he would never trust anyone again in the incredible event that you should fail him. He was very pleased with your reply to the French offers through Prospero Colonna ; he found the offers unreasonable and your reply fully conformable to the treaty. He was of the same opinion as Wolsey about the Venetian affair. About the Swiss, and about plans for next summer, he said he wished to consult further with Wolsey and others of his council, and asked us to return on Sunday, December 21st.
On that day we found Wolsey at court. He asked us to dine with him, and afterwards we had a long conversation in which he repeated that the more he thought about the interests of the alliance, the more desirable a truce seemed. After the king had dined, he was some time in council ; when that was finished we were called, and Henry said that he found the questions we proposed very difficult, and that since your majesty had honoured his ambassadors by admitting them to your councils, he wished to do the same, and had therefore ordered some of his council, headed by Wolsey, to discuss all these questions with us, both those directly concerning your majesty's interests and those concerning England. The king gave us about the same news of the dangers from Scotland, Denmark and "White Rose" that we had already heard from Wolsey. He added that by the advice of his council he felt it impossible for him to cross the sea in person to carry out the "Great Enterprise," until he had brought the Scots so low that they would be obliged to place the young king of Scotland and other hostages in his hands. He had decided to anticipate the Scottish attack, and was making every preparation to invade Scotland next April before Albany could return, with two armies, the smaller of which, thirty thousand men under his lieutenant, was to enter Scotland immediately, the larger, which Henry will command in person, acting as a reserve.
We thanked Henry for honouring us by including us in his council, but excused ourselves on the ground that we were not wise enough to advise him in his affairs, and that we had no other instructions from your majesty than those already declared, which were not to give advice, but to ask it. We have no doubt that what Henry and Wolsey want is to make us talk about terms for truce or peace. They make so much of this Scottish affair in order to escape contributing toward your Swiss and Italian expenses. We should note the strong inclination which Wolsey has twice expressed toward an armistice. In order to find out whether we could further our mission in any way we agreed, however, to meet with the council the second day following.
At that time we found Wolsey in the company of the duke of Suffolk, the admiral, the bishops of Durham and London, and other members of the king's privy council. In their presence Wolsey repeated to us at length everything he had said before, word for word, about Scotland, Denmark, and "White Rose," and ended by asking our advice. We excused ourselves as before, and said that our charge was to ask for some contribution to the maintenance of the army in Italy. Wolsey then said flatly that, in view of the difficulties he had outlined, it was clearly impossible for the king of England to anticipate the time of the "Great Enterprise," or to contribute anything to your majesty's expenses in Italy and Switzerland. If your majesty made any such demands, he said, Henry would be obliged to summon you in virtue of the treaties, to help him against the Scots, and he reminded us of the help in men and money which your majesty had received from England in the last two years. One should not, he said, press one's friends too hard, especially when they were in difficulties, and he again asked us our advice. We again excused ourselves, begging that he and the other lords of the Council would first give their opinion, after which we promised to say our little say. About giving aid against the Scots, we did say in passing, that your majesty would fail in nothing which he had promised in the treaty, which, however, spoke in this case of aid for defence, but not for attack. Conversation went on in this strain for some time and at last Wolsey said to us :
"How is it that although you are councillors you refuse to give an opinion? I have told you that my master cannot anticipate the 'Great Enterprise,' and that the emperor cannot expect any help from him in Italy. As I am informed, the emperor is in danger of losing Italy because he hasn't enough money to maintain his army and to win over the Swiss and the Venetians. You understand that any invasion of France next summer will cost a great deal. Italy is not to be held by such means, and if the emperor and the king spend much on an invasion this year, they'll find themselves badly provided to attempt the 'Great Enterprise' next year. If you consider what I have said, you will find that there is only one means by which these two princes can escape their difficulties and that one clear conclusion follows. I ask you to state your opinions, not as the emperor's ambassadors, but as the councillors of the king, my master."
Under the circumstances it seemed to us better to speak. We said we would have been glad to hear that the king of England would be willing to pay part of the army for the defence of Milan, that he would send Pace to Switzerland with money to help win over the Swiss, and that he would give us a definite decision about what was to be done next summer, but, if these things were impossible, in view of the state of affairs in this kingdom, it seemed to us not undesirable that your majesty and the king of England should reach some agreement with the king of France, through the pope, for a truce of one year on honourable conditions. We protested that we had said this entirely of our own motion, and without knowing your majesty's intentions. We were careful not to let it appear that the proposal for a truce came in any way from your majesty, suggesting rather, that it had been inspired by what Wolsey had said.
This proved to be a good way to get Wolsey to talk, for he immediately began to speak again, saying that after having given a great deal of thought to the affairs of the alliance, it seemed to him desirable that an armistice should be arranged by the following means. The English and imperial ambassadors at Rome should go together to the pope, and say that your majesties had been moved by his exhortations to peace, and that if King Francis had decided, as the pope said, to see reason, you did not wish to seem to be the disturbers of Christian unity. Therefore you were willing to accept a simple armistice for a year, or a truce, including commerce, if the king of France preferred it, between your lands and his, without including any other allies or confederates on either side. If the French would not agree to these terms, the pope might then command all three kings to accept an armistice, which command your majesty and the king of England should be willing to obey on two conditions : first, that your obedience should not bind you or your successors to obey the See of Rome more than by ancient custom ; second, that if King Francis refused to obey the papal command, His Holiness should declare himself the enemy of the French, and launch against them the censures of the church as the sole cause of the continuance of war among Christians.
We understood at once that Wolsey did not wish confederate powers included in the armistice because Henry intends to make war on the Scots next summer. Since this article seemed to us very prejudicial, we argued that it would make truce very difficult to conclude for several reasons : first, it was likely that the pope would refuse to have any hand in the affair since obviously his intention was to conclude a universal peace for all Christendom ; second, even if the pope would offer such terms, it was certain that the French would not accept them if the Scots were excluded, since the Scottish alliance has been very useful to the French king and his predecessors, the Scots always being willing to invade England whenever the English invaded France, so that King Francis knew very well that if the Scots were subjugated he would be in danger of losing his crown ; third, even if the pope would offer and the king of France accept such terms, they would not be advantageous to your majesty, for if the king of England excludes the Scots and your majesty excludes the duke of Gueldres, Robert de la Marck and the other confederates of the French, the king of France will wish likewise to exclude the duke of Milan and other Italian cities, maintaining that they are not your subjects, and that you have only certain sovereign rights over them as emperor, so that your majesty may find yourself not less burdened by war than at present, but more, since King Francis will not be obliged to defend himself on the side of Spain where you are the stronger, but can concentrate all his efforts on Italy and Flanders where you are weaker. It is greatly to be feared that the duke of Milan and the Genoese would be quite unable to defend themselves against the French without the assistance of an imperial army strong enough to give battle to the French and Swiss together. Moreover, under the terms of such an armistice, Francis would not be obliged to guard his own frontiers, and could mobilize all his forces, along with the Swiss, against Milan. In such a case it seems likely that most of the princes and towns of Italy, seeing themselves abandoned by this armistice, would go over to the French, whereby not only would you lose honour, but your kingdoms of Naples and Sicily would be endangered. Moreover, we argued, Francis would follow in the steps of his predecessors and secretly subsidize Gueldres and de la Marck, who with this aid could make such inroads into your provinces of Holland, Brabant and Luxemberg as your majesty could not resist without great expense, so weakening your treasury that it would be insufficient for the "Great Enterprise."
The councillors replied to these arguments that the way to avoid all these difficulties was to hasten the attack on Scotland, so that before the pope had negotiated an armistice Henry would have conquered the Scots. To hear them one would think they were quite certain of victory. We did not wish to argue the point, but only remarked that if the Scottish power was as formidable as they had said, it would be unwise to make too great haste, since victory was in God's hands. Even if the English were ready for the invasion by next May, as they expected to be, we said, they could not be sure of bringing the Scots to battle at once, and even if they did, the safety of Italy would not be assured, since if Francis invaded that country he would do so by April. Therefore it seemed to us that any advantage to your majesty from an armistice could only be realized if it came quickly. The argument ended by Wolsey's asking for more time to consider, and inviting us to hear mass and dine with him on Christmas Day, which we gladly consented to do in the hope he would then speak more openly.
In this we were not disappointed, for he returned to the subject immediately after dinner, and said it was strange your majesty had not written us more fully of your intentions, and that we were again asking Henry for money in spite of his great necessities. You should consider, he said, how useful an armistice for a year would be. By this we saw there was no hope of getting any money here, and to remove Wolsey's suspicions we replied that we supposed when your majesty had sent the last courier with this request, you thought the king of England was on good terms with the Scots and therefore could spare money for Italy and Switzerland. Wolsey found this reply plausible, and little by little opened himself to us more than he hitherto had done. His words were in substance as follows :
"Ambassadors, you have been fully informed about the affairs of the king, my master, and I, for my part, know something of the emperor's affairs from your reports, and those of our ambassadors. I understand that he is well obeyed in his kingdom, that he is doing his utmost to raise money, and that no little assistance may come from the new-found islands on the limits of his inheritance. Nevertheless, I think it will be impossible for him to raise any very large sum for at least a year because of the impoverishment of Spain by the late civil war. As you know, I have been doing my best to raise money in this kingdom, which has been at peace, and have not yet succeeded according to my wish, so that I have advised the king to go to York as soon as these feasts are over, and there ask the assembled nobles of his kingdom what aid they will contribute to his affairs. Therefore an armistice seems to me more and more desirable, and if these kings do not wish to speak to the pope themselves, through their ambassadors, they may leave me to arrange matters with His Holiness, and I will let it appear that my action is quite of my own motion. Moreover, the emperor ought to consider that, if the war lasts a long time, he will be put to great expense to pay my master the annual indemnity of a hundred and twenty thousand crowns, one payment of which has already fallen due, November 4th. The king and I are surprised that this has not been paid, since, as you know, the emperor is supposed to make payment within forty days on pain of ecclesiastical censure. For my part, because of the love I bear the emperor, I would not have him fail to fulfil what he has promised my king, for if he expects to retain Henry's friendship he must keep faith with him. You know also that my king is not obliged to begin the 'Great Enterprise' until the emperor repays him one hundred fifty thousand crowns, and for my part, I would never advise my master to begin the 'Great Enterprise' until he has in his coffers all the money he needs to provide for the whole campaign. I shall have the actual money to show you before we begin to spend it, and I advise that the emperor do the same to our ambassadors with him. You would do well to write all this to the emperor, and to say that, if he wishes to follow my advice, he will write you more clearly what he intends to do, so that you may tell my master plainly. This is the best means of preserving our friendship and alliance. If the emperor is unable to begin the 'Great Enterprise' next year he should say so frankly, and my king will reply frankly. My own wish is that the king of France should resume the payment of the customary pensions, and leave Italy at peace, and that for the rest there should be a good peace among all Christian princes, for each of us now has what he most wishes, which is to be absolved, of right, of all former treaty obligations to France. To me there seems little likelihood that we will ever conquer his kingdom from King Francis, and great doubt that the king and the emperor, even if they undertake the 'Great Enterprise' would accomplish much, for the king of France can fortify his cities and refuse to give us battle."
We thanked the cardinal and promised to write your majesty. We then spoke of the difficulties which would arise from the exclusion of confederate powers from the armistice. We also suggested that the pope might require the king of France to place in the hands of the papacy the castles of Fuenterrabia and Hesdin and the money for the English pensions for the period of the armistice, to be returned to him if no peace were concluded. Wolsey thought that such terms would make the arrangement of an armistice as difficult as the conclusion of a peace. He thereupon gave us leave to go, appointing St. Thomas Day [29 Dec.] for another interview.
On that day we strongly represented to him the desirability of informing your majesty at once. We begged to have a final decision about military plans for next summer, and also that Henry would instruct his ambassadors with you on the subject of an armistice, and send them instructions addressed to his ambassador at Rome so that, if your majesty agreed to the armistice, your instructions and those for the English could be sent from Spain at the same time. As far as we can see, however, Wolsey does not wish his king and your majesty to make any overture to the pope, but would prefer to open negotiations himself, simply writing the pope personally that if His Holiness can induce the king of France to make some offer he, Wolsey, will undertake to persuade your majesty and the king of England to agree. At this interview Wolsey postponed a final decision until January 4th, when he would speak to us in Henry's presence.
At that time the king and the cardinal held us in conversation on this subject all day, and all the next day until evening, without reaching any decision on the principal points. Wolsey made us a long harangue in the presence of the king and the council on the subject of the aid which the king of England had given your majesty in the past, and his surprise that you asked for further assistance in Italy. Such demands, he said, would only cool the friendship between you, since you had not yet fulfilled a single point of what you had promised, either in Flanders or in Spain, and you now seemed to wish to throw all the burden of the war on the English. He said flatly that Henry was not obliged by treaty to give any help in defending Milan, and that your majesty should be careful that in your anxiety to keep Milan you did not lose some part of the Low Countries, and he repeated to us word for word everything he had said about Henry's burdens, adding that they had certain news that Francis had assembled all the great ships of his kingdom at Brest, and was diligently equipping them for some enterprise this spring, either against England or against the coasts of Flanders, Holland or Zeeland. He said also that the king of Denmark intended to attack this kingdom and assist his allies the Scots, and that, through the Margrave Joachim of Brandenburg and others of his relatives, he had come to terms with the Esterlings. He also told us that the Esterlings had for some time been seeking a safe-conduct from the king of France to load their ships with salt in Brittany, and that Francis had recently granted their request with the intention of seizing the ships on their arrival and making use of them in the war next summer. He asked us to inform you of these two last points, so that you might write the king of Denmark, your ally, and the Esterlings, your subjects.
We replied that the only truth in these complaints was that Henry had done your majesty many good turns, for which, however, you were by no means ungrateful, and were ready to risk your goods and person in repayment. Up to the present time, we said, you had fulfilled all your obligations according to the treaties, and it was not your fault Lescano's company had been badly provided with food and provisions, since you had paid them for two months before their departure, and had sent them provisions which had been lost by the fortunes of war. We added other arguments to show that you should have help in Italy and in favour of a prompt decision, but we were able to get no final word about anything until the 16th of this month.
On that day Wolsey declared to us the final decisions of the king of England as follows :
Because of the dangers threatening England from Scotland, from Denmark and from "White Rose," and because it seemed unlikely that your majesty could be ready, Henry will not attempt to anticipate the date of the "Great Enterprise" but wishes it deferred to the time appointed in the treaties. His plans for carrying on the war meanwhile are as follows. An English army of thirty thousand men will invade Scotland towards the end of May under the command of the Great Treasurer, the king's lieutenant on this frontier. Another army of forty thousand men, commanded by the king in person, will be formed to act as a reserve. To attack the Scots by sea, and to supply the land army with provisions if necessary, a fleet manned by four thousand fighting men and convoying a number of supply ships, will be sent to the Scottish coast. The fleet will be ordered to attack Edinburgh. On the south coast, between Dover and Falmouth, an army of twenty-five thousand men will be formed under the command of the duke of Suffolk to repel any French invasion. To guard the Channel, and to keep open sea communications between Flanders and Spain, Henry will fit out a navy manned by six or seven thousand fighting men, provided that your majesty will send three thousand Biscayans accustomed to naval warfare (including the sailors) paid and provisioned for the whole summer, or money enough to provide for such a force. Since the French may endeavour to intercept your fleet, Henry is sending to ask Madame to send Lescano, with all the ships and sailors which brought him and his company to Zeeland, to Portsmouth. Henry will man these ships with English in case the French attempt anything by sea before the arrival of the Biscayans. Since the ships that brought Lescano will be insufficient for a fleet three thousand strong, Henry asks that you will have fitted out four or five great ships of at least five hundred tons, which, after bringing the Biscayans here, can be used to strengthen the fleet. Henry hopes that the allied fleets will then be strong enough, not only to keep the sea against the French, but to make some exploit on the Breton or Norman coast, and that Francis, seeing your two majesties so strong at sea, will break up his fleet, after which your naval expenses can be diminished.
Henry strongly advises that Lescano's company, since they are troops inexperienced in naval warfare, be kept in Flanders to guard the frontier. He is very much opposed to their being sent back to Spain since the French now have a strong army in Picardy and, according to rumour, intend to invade Artois, Hainnaut, or English territory. In this case you are bound by treaty to aid each other in the defence of your frontiers and Henry, who does not intend to bear alone the burden of such a war, had ordered us to write to Flanders to find out from Madame what cavalry, infantry, artillery and munitions she can provide to defend Flanders and succour Calais if it is attacked. Henry will then send an equal number of troops and artillery to give reciprocal aid to the Low Countries if occasion arises.
As for your majesty's request for money to help defend Italy and to deal with the Swiss, Henry's final decision is that, in view of the great burdens which he must bear next year, his necessary forces by land and sea amounting to at least a hundred and fifty thousand men, he cannot give, and you ought not to ask, any help in Italian affairs next summer, and that you must rely on your own power to defend your own kingdoms and subjects. Since you ask his advice, he advises that, with the assistance of the duke of Milan and the Italian cities, you form an army sufficient to defend Lombardy, and that you make every effort to detach the Swiss and the Venetians from the French alliance. He also advises that you assemble a considerable army, well supplied with artillery and munitions, to invade Languedoc or Guienne in the spring, and thus constrain Francis to withdraw his troops from Milan and Flanders to guard that frontier.
Since all these military preparations of his and yours will consume a great deal of money, so that you may not be able, either of you, to attempt the "Great Enterprise" the following year, Henry and Wolsey advise that a truce be sought with France in the following manner :
Wolsey, who, as one of the principal members of the church, has often been exhorted by the pope to find some means of arranging a peace or truce, will write to the pope, suggesting that His Holiness persuade King Francis to accept an armistice simple, or commercial if he prefers, between his realms and subjects and those of your majesty and the king of England. If he accepts, Wolsey will say, he hopes to persuade the king of England and the emperor to accept also, provided that confederate powers on both sides are excluded. If Francis refuses, the pope, as head of the church, may enjoin all three princes to accept an armistice of this sort, and Wolsey hopes that you two will obey, on condition that your obedience shall not prejudice your independence or that of your successors in regard to the papacy, and that, if Francis refuses, His Holiness will launch against him the censures of the church, and declare himself his enemy.
From all this, Sire, you will gather that no men or money for Italian affairs should be expected from this king, and that he wishes hereafter to be paid his indemnity on the day fixed by treaty, and that he does not mean to cross the sea for the "Great Enterprise" without being repaid his hundred and fifty thousand crowns. This sum and the indemnities, with the pensions you promised the cardinal and other lords of this realm, amount to a good deal of money, and all should be paid rather before than after the appointed day to secure your affairs here. The English emphasis on the war with Scotland shows that they intend to put off on you the whole burden of the French war, in spite of our pointing out to Wolsey that operations in Lombardy, Flanders and on the Spanish frontier would force you to much greater expense than that which Henry must bear on account of Scotland. Moreover, the English will have won or lost in Scotland in two months and can thereupon disband their armies and be free of all expense, while you will still be obliged to defend all your frontiers for a year with considerable forces. All these arguments and others, however, availed nothing with the cardinal, who repeated that the thing had been decided, and that his master would not change his decision. We also tried to persuade Wolsey to alter the conditions about the exclusion of confederate powers, but without success. It seems to us, however, that if you find the proposed terms for an armistice otherwise satisfactory, the king and the cardinal would probably consent to the inclusion of confederate powers in the armistice if you were to ask it yourself. This is a little point of pride on their part. They want to know how much importance you attach to this negotiation, and they will continue to behave more and more coldly, using the same excuses as they have offered this time, as long as your majesty makes your present demands on them.
In our opinion, seeing that it is unlikely to expect further assistance from Henry, and in view of the tone Wolsey has taken ever since your departure, you cannot do better than agree to a truce on the suggested terms, except that about excluding confederate powers, which, we believe, the English will alter at your request.
As for sending Pace to help in the negotiations with the Swiss, Henry will not contribute a penny for this business. Wolsey offered, however, to write Pace to join your majesty's ambassadors in Switzerland as soon as the negotiations in Venice were concluded, and to assist in Switzerland with words and advice, but without promising any English money. We fear that his going there on such terms will be of little use. Besides, your ambassadors will probably have had the Swiss answer before he can get there. We have also succeeded in persuading Wolsey to send his ambassadors with you the original of the letter he is writing the pope about the armistice and copies of the instructions he is sending to Rome to the English ambassador there. If the contents of these is agreeable to you, the English ambassadors at your court are charged to forward them to their colleague at Rome with any changes you may suggest which do not affect their principal substance.
You will have learned from our letters of October 10th how one of the ships from Galicia, loaded with meat for Lescano's troops, went down in a tempest near Southampton, so that all the provisions were lost. We have since learned that the people in that neighbourhood have salvaged a good deal of the meat and also that, at the place the ship went down, about half a league from shore, there are lying four great guns which would be easy enough to raise if we had the money. We have obtained letters from the admiral addressed to his lieutenants on the coast, to enable us to recover the meat by a reasonable payment. We then hope to sell it for enough money to enable us to dredge up the four pieces of artillery. We have tried to find out from Madame and from Henry and Wolsey the amount (used to buy biscuit for the troops) for which the carrack of Diego de Vera was pledged on his departure from Plymouth, but so far we have been unable to learn how much it is. We have also been unable to obtain from the bishop of London copies of the treaties, and though we have spoken several times to Wolsey on the subject, it does not appear that we will get them. Therefore we beg you to send us copies by Jehan de le Sauch on his return, for we need them daily, and believe that your affairs would go better if we were provided with them.
We gave the queen your affectionate greetings and your letters, with which she was very pleased, as you will learn by a letter she is writing you. We cannot adequately describe her joy at hearing of your continued prosperity, and the affectionate interest she takes in your affairs. She spoke to us a long time of her earnest desire to see a peace concluded, saying that Henry's interests urgently required it, and that your majesty ought to be equally eager for it in order to be free to settle your affairs in Spain. She told us vehemently that the only way for you to retain the friendship of this king and of the English was to fulfil faithfully everything that you have promised, and that it was much better to, promise little and perform faithfully than to promise much and fail in part. The queen begs you to remember that you promised, when you were in this kingdom, to receive as a page the son of Dr. Fernando Vittoria, her physician. As you know, Dr. Fernando is not only your subject and very loyal servant, but has been of very great assistance to us by advising us of matters which it was very useful for us to know. We beg your majesty to comply with the request of this queen, who has your interest so much at heart. We were unable this time to see the princess for, on account of the plague which is very prevalent here, and also because the princess has been somewhat unwell, the queen did not bring her to Greenwich, but left her and her suite at a manor not far from this town.
Some days ago I, De Mesa, had a letter from Geronimo Adorno dated Venice, December 15th, which I am forwarding herewith. It appears from it that the Venetians continue to delay matters, although the cardinal says Pace writes that he hopes the Signory will give Adorno a favourable answer before long. If they have done so, we have no doubt that your majesty has been informed. We saw the Venetian ambassador yesterday. He complained most unreasonably that we had refused to negotiate with him last September in spite of the fact that he had offered reasonable terms, and that his commission was more ample than that given the Venetian ambassador in Spain. We said he surprised us, since he had told us before that his colleague's charge was, word for word, the same as his. This he denied, saying that the ambassador in Spain had power to treat but not to conclude, and that the Signory meant the negotiations to be completed in England by the mediation of Henry and Wolsey. We gathered from what he said that the Venetians are delaying any treaty with your majesty for fear of being forced into war, which they wish to avoid as long as possible.
We must not omit to inform you of the high praise which Henry paid the count de Gavres in our presence for his service last summer. Henry suggests that if the count de Buren is unable to act as lieutenant-general next summer, or at any time, your majesty has no person better able to serve you in such a capacity than de Gavres.
From Madame's letters, and those of certain lords of her council, we learn that she is displeased with us, since we have failed to keep her advised of all of our negotiations in your behalf in this kingdom. Madame understands that we were instructed to communicate with her quite as fully and frankly as with your majesty. It is true that when I, de Praet, left Bruges with the understanding that I was to be your sole representative here, your majesty commanded me to keep Madame fully informed of everything that occurred. But later, when, during your visit to England, you decided to leave me, Badajoz, for a time in this kingdom, you gave me no such command, and you have since written by Juan de Granada that neither of us was to say anything to anyone about the French offers for a truce except to Henry and Wolsey, and particularly that this matter was to be a secret from Flanders. We beg you, therefore, to let us know your pleasure so that we may know how to conduct ourselves toward Madame in future. We have written Madame the final decisions communicated to us by Wolsey, as far as they concern operations next summer, but without saying anything of conversations about an armistice. We should not have mentioned this matter even to le Sauch, had not Wolsey spoken of it to him in conversation. As it was, we swore le Sauch to complete secrecy, lest he might write to Madame about it, and then told him without, however, letting him suspect that the subject had in any way been suggested by your majesty, or that you knew anything about it as yet. It seems well to advise your majesty of this fact, so that you may know how to act toward le Sauch on his arrival. Le Sauch will inform you of Wolsey's constant complaining, and of the very strange manner in which he has treated us daily of late, often making us wait two or three hours at his door, and then sending us away without an audience, insisting on seeing all our correspondence, or at least copies, so that it was not his fault that he did not read this present letter. We find these fashions very strange, and quite contrary to the ordinary custom of treating ambassadors, and we wish to know your majesty's pleasure concerning it.
Wolsey asks that you send with the fleet from Spain next March, two zabras armed with cannon, and equipped for war, counting them and their crews as a part of the fleet asked for, so that, taking account of five hundred sailors who manned Lescano's ships, you will be sending from the Biscayan provinces two thousand five hundred men including sailors in four or five great ships and two zabras.
London, 20 January, 1523.
P. S. Since writing this we have had a letter from Rome, a copy of which is enclosed.
Signed, Bishop of Badajoz and Elne and Loys de Praet. French. pp. 45.
28 Jan.
H. H. u. St. A. England. f. 1.
The Ambassadors in England to Charles V.
Although the Sieur d'Aymercourt will have given your majesty the news of this kingdom along with his report of his negotiations here, we are writing briefly of events since the departure of Jehan de le Sauch on the 22nd of this month. Aymercourt, passing through here on his way to Spain, stopped to tell the king of England, as he was charged to do, the archduke Ferdinand's news from spies and prisoners about the Turk. He said the Turk was making great preparations to invade Christendom through Hungary next summer, being moved to do so by the internal war now disturbing Christendom. Therefore the archduke, both because he is the ally of the king of Hungary, and because the duchy of Austria and a large part of Germany will be endangered unless he receives some assistance against the Turk from the other Christian princes, has sent Aymercourt to ask your majesty and also the king of England for help. Also, Aymercourt said, the archduke, fearing that it would be impossible to help him while the war lasted with France, begged the king of England, for the good of Christendom, to persuade the emperor to a peace or truce, so that all the Christian powers could resist the Turk, and recover the towns and castles captured in Hungary last year.
Wolsey replied that his king was very surprised that the archduke made such overtures to him before approaching your majesty, his brother, the prince whom his affairs touched most nearly. Wolsey said it would be more reasonable for the archduke to declare war on the French, who had so much injured your majesty, and bend all his forces to their subjugation, so that a great army could later be sent against the Turks. Henry, he said, could not possibly grant any present aid in this matter, and it would not be honourable for him to attempt to persuade you to a peace or truce, seeing that he had gone to war to please you, but that he would be quite happy to fall in with any plans your majesty might propose to remedy these affairs.
Wolsey suspects that the archduke's message proceeds either from the intrigues of certain German princes who favour the French and hope thus to secure an honourable peace, or from the archduke's hope that your majesty will grant him, for use against the Turk, the subsidy voted by the imperial diet. This Wolsey thinks you ought not to refuse, since it is unlikely you will have any other use for it, for if you do go to Rome to be crowned it will hardly be by way of Germany.
Some days ago, an ambassador arrived here from the duke of Milan. We have conversed with him twice, without being able to find out what his charge is, and it appears that he intends to conceal it from us, particularly since he brought no letters to us from his master. Wolsey says the duke simply sent him here to reside as ambassador, and to thank Henry for his alliance with your Majesty.
We wrote you by Jehan de le Sauch of Henry's request that Madame send Lescano with the ships and sailors who had served with him to Portsmouth, retaining his soldiers in Flanders. Nevertheless, we have just been informed that Lescano, with all his ships and troops, sailed for Spain on the 18th of this month, and we suppose they have reached there by this time. Therefore, in order to satisfy Henry's and Wolsey's demands, your majesty will have to send here, before the end of March, three thousand men, soldiers and sailors, paid and provisioned and in such ships as we have before written you. Lescano had from us forty-eight quintals of powder, which Wolsey lent us to be repaid in money or in kind. Your majesty should find out what he has done with it, for since it was delivered to him he has been most of the time in Flanders, where he cannot have used any.
We suppose that your majesty has been informed how a part of the Spanish infantry in Artois, last season, mutinied and went over to the French to the number of about nine hundred. Yesterday the cardinal had news that these false Spaniards, with a number of French cavalry, had attempted to re-victual Thérouanne. De Gavres, who is at St. Omer, was informed of their movement and sent Captain Picharro with his infantry and all the men-at-arms available, to intercept them by a forced night march. These Frenchified Spaniards were completely defeated, and left seven hundred dead on the field and about eighty prisoners. Picharro asked to lead the van in this action, and bore himself marvellously well. We hope to have fuller information from Madame, and will advise your majesty further by the first courier.
The packet enclosed herewith was sent us by Brian Tuke, the master of the royal posts, after le Sauch had left. We have no idea where it comes from, but we suppose that, through forgetfulness or for some other reason, Brian Tuke kept it by him for some time before delivering it to us.
London, 28 January, 1523.
Signed, Bishop of Badajoz and Elne and Loys de Praet. French. pp. 5.


  • 1. Philippe de Cleves, Count of Ravenstein.