Spain: March 1523

Pages 194-201

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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March 1523

9 March.
H. H. u. St. A. England. f. 2.
Charles V to the Ambassadors in England.
We received yours of January 20th, replying to our letters of October 31st and November 17th. Although we have recently written you by Francisco Frias, we shall reply as usual.
The English ambassadors here had already informed us of most of the points in your letter. In addition they say that if truce cannot be concluded, leaving out the Scots, Henry hopes to finish the Scottish campaign while the negotiations are still in progress. Therefore they will delay as much as possible, sending no powers to Rome until the pope replies to Wolsey's letter and until they know what the king of France will do ; afterwards Wolsey will send to us, so that our powers may be sent jointly to Rome. Thus the whole summer will be spent in these goings and comings. Meanwhile, if we have no other aid and, trusting in a truce, make no other preparations, we shall be in great danger from all sides. Therefore, it seems, little is to be hoped of an armistice.
The English ambassadors have also said that, if we are not satisfied with this plan for truce, we should give order for an army in Flanders to join the English army, capable of besieging towns and of meeting any emergency. You should know that we replied that we are only bound by treaty to maintain two thousand men to protect the Low Countries ; this we have done and more. A larger army would be futile and expensive. Nevertheless, if Henry will put a good army in the field this summer, we shall do much more, for our part, than the minimum required by treaty, and shall also put a powerful army in the field.
The English ambassadors suggested that to prevent the Swiss and some Germans from serving the French, the archduke Ferdinand should reside this summer at Ferrette [in Alsace] or in Wurtemberg. We replied that we were of the same mind, and thought that the archduke should have some force of horse and foot, not only to restrain the Swiss and Germans, but to hold the French in fear, and oblige them to keep an army to defend the duchy of Burgundy. This would cost money, however, which should be at the common expense, and we had done nothing about it so far, lacking Henry's agreement.
As to what Wolsey said to you about the pensions, in making our excuses say that the payment for a year which Wolsey received at Windsor was, we thought, supposed to include the present term. Since we understand that the money is due, we are sending a trustworthy person to pay this pension and others due in England as soon as possible. He will leave within two weeks, bearing letters of exchange on Flanders.
Say to Wolsey that although we have entire confidence in him, and wish to follow his advice, the proposals for a truce suggested by him seem very difficult. It will be almost impossible to satisfy anyone if allies and confederates are to be excluded, for the pope wishes universal peace, the king of France will never abandon his allies, and for our part, we should still have to defend Milan and should still be at war with Gelderland, with the sons of d'Albret, and with Robert la Marck. Nevertheless, since we understand from the English ambassadors that Wolsey would agree to a general truce once the Scots have been beaten, we have sent his letter to the pope with the instructions to the English ambassador at Rome, and have written to the duke of Sessa to treat jointly with the English, and not otherwise. These letters have been taken by our marechal de logis instead of by Cabanillas, captain of our guard, who has broken his arm and leg.
Point out to Wolsey that the king of France and all his kingdom are in great difficulty, so that extortionate taxation of the poor and the ill treatment of Bourbon are likely to lead to a rebellion. Meanwhile we have made preparations such as we shall describe ; the grand masters, towns and subjects of these kingdons are well disposed, and urge us to make use of their services in this war. Therefore a little enterprise this year may win us more than the "Great Enterprise" next year, and at much less cost. Delay obliges us to defend our realms, the Low Countries, Flanders and Italy, where Milan is in great danger, and consequently Naples and Sicily are not safe, all at a ruinous cost. We cannot guard so many frontiers for so long, and maintain so great and so many armies alone, without profit. If this enterprise is not undertaken this year, our affairs are in danger of total ruin ; if it is, more may be accomplished than by an army four times as great next year. Remind Wolsey that, according to the treaty of Bruges, the "Great Enterprise" was to take place this year, and was postponed for a year at the request of Henry and Wolsey, who said that the postponement was for our benefit, since there was some doubt whether or not we could be ready. If the delay was for our benefit it ought not to be turned to our injury, when we are ready to do the common enemy as much damage as the "Great Enterprise" could do.
Since Henry and Wolsey have told you at length of the great military preparations they are making against Scotland, and against France, and have asked for similar information about us, you may tell them that we are preparing a powerful army, with the assistance of the nobles and commons of this kingdom, to invade France, besiege towns and give or await battle. Besides this Castilian army, we expect our kingdoms of Aragon, Valencia and Catalonia to furnish four or five hundred men-at-arms with light cavalry and infantry on the frontier of Roussillon, for defensive or offensive warfare. At Cartagena we are holding the two carracks and the galleon which escorted Don Juan Manuel and the marquis of Pescara, and with these, and other ships, we are forming a Mediterranean fleet to be reinforced by the galleys of Castile, now at Majorca, and by those of Naples and Sicily now at Genoa, this fleet to act jointly with the Genoese squadron against the French by land or sea, raiding Provence, keeping open our communications with Italy, and ensuring the reinforcement of our army in Lombardy, in case the French cross the Alps. If the French do not take the offensive, the fleet will co-operate either in an invasion of Languedoc by our army of Roussillon or an invasion of Provence by our army of Lombardy. If the French do invade Italy, and if we reach no agreement with the Venetians and the Swiss, we shall use the Spanish infantry with the fleet to reinforce the army of Lombardy, and shall raise ten or twelve thousand lanzknechts, for the payment of which we have already sent letters of exchange to Germany, so that they will be ready to descend into Lombardy if Prospero Colonna asks for them. We are now sending Prospero a hundred thousand ducats for Italian affairs. We are increasing our fleet at San Sebastian to three thousand fighting men as we agreed. These will keep the sea continually, attacking the enemy wherever they find them, and proving as useful, we hope, as if they were in the English Channel. If Henry wishes his fleet to join them in a descent on Guienne, which he is to conquer, we hope to give him good assistance.
Although we are only bound by treaty to maintain defensive garrisons in the Low Countries, nevertheless, to encourage our subjects to aid us in some profitable exploit against the enemy, we are sending in a few days, a trustworthy person with letters of exchange for a hundred thousand ducats on the next fair of Antwerp, which cannot be manipulated by Parisian financiers. This money will be spent only for the payment of troops, and we should be able to raise with it a considerable number of German infantry, and of cavalry to supplement our ordonnance. When these troops have exhausted the hundred thousand ducats, we hope that they will be maintained by our towns in the Low Countries. This will be more likely if Henry invades France with an army which may act by itself or jointly with ours as he prefers. To finance all these activities we have arranged to raise a million and a half ducats as they are required ; the last dates for payment are before October first, so that nothing will be lacking as we have explained more in detail to the English ambassadors.
Therefore ask Wolsey to help persuade Henry to this enterprise, since war with Scotland is less important than the war with France. If Henry cannot go in person, at least he can send a powerful army with a good commander, for since he is preparing three such powerful armies, he can, without danger from Scotland, order that that commanded by Suffolk shall cross the sea in such force as he judges necessary and fitting to his honour. The army may be strengthened by German cavalry, which can be raised in six weeks and can join our gens d'armes d'ordonnance and our other troops in Flanders, who will assist the English in some good exploit against the enemy. If the English wish to act separately, each army will do its best alone. By this means the French will be unable to assist the Scots, or to raid English territory, and the king of Denmark will not dare to budge, since the French, pressed on all sides, will be unable to help others. Point out to Wolsey that by this means, although the conquest of France may not be completed, nevertheless we may recover much territory now held by the French, and advance our boundaries so that the king of France will be tightly ringed about, and obliged to agree to whatever conditions of peace we will grant. Thus we may be relieved of the indemnity, and the treaty be satisfied by our making peace in France by common consent, a much more feasible course than to negotiate at present, without having fought the good war from which a good peace must come.
In reply to Wolsey's complaint that we have not fulfilled a single point of what we have promised, you may say that we cannot agree that we have failed in any except, perhaps, in the matter of the indemnity. We deferred this payment, relying on what Wolsey said at Bruges, which was that we should not be obliged to pay, and that the clause was put in the treaty only to satisfy certain members of the English council. We had not thought Wolsey would be so insistent on the letter of this clause, or so upset by delay, in view of the great affairs in which we were engaged. Nevertheless, if Henry insists on payment, ask Wolsey to persuade him to use his own credit to raise the money in England for at least a year, and we promise to reimburse him with interest. You may make this offer at once, although the money is not due until June 20th. If Henry wishes to engage in this enterprise this summer, however, we are willing he should anticipate the term. We do not think we have failed in anything else agreed on by treaty. Each side was supposed to maintain three thousand men at sea, and in case of need, the two fleets were to act together, but there is nothing in the treaty about our navy remaining in the Channel, as you can see by the enclosed copy. Although we might reasonably say that the failure to provide Lescano with provisions was not our fault but the fortunes of war, nevertheless we have always maintained another fleet around Fuenterrabia, which has done the enemy much more damage than the English have done, having taken, burned or sunk more than thirty ships, great and small. According to treaty, we were to have three thousand Spanish infantry by land ; we have maintained a much larger number. We have also had a larger force in Flanders than the English, and are more nearly ready there than they. If there have been failures so far, they have been on both sides ; this is no time for recrimination but for each one to do his best, forgetting past differences.
We are writing in our own hand to the king and the cardinal, asking credence for you. In virtue of this credence you will speak as above, more or less, as your discretion dictates. Try to persuade Henry that if he ever wishes to have satisfaction from the French, this is the time. The Scottish enterprise may safely be delayed. Once the French are brought low, he may easily settle with the Scots ; while the French are powerful, he can never be sure of Scotland. In answer to Wolsey's statement that no help is to be expected from them in Italy or Switzerland, ask him at least to send his ambassadors to negotiate with the Swiss, so that it may appear that we are still allies, and ask him also to consider the great profits that may arise, especially to England, from weakening the enemy this year, particularly on account of the Bourbon affair which will be shortly concluded. To his remark that he wants to see the money in hand before the "Great Enterprise" is begun, reply that we have already showed the English ambassadors here the state of our finances. You may tell Wolsey that he is not well informed about our negotiations with Venice. It is not that we have been too harsh with the Venetians, but that they have asked for the restitution of certain lands conquered by our grandfather, the emperor Maximilian, which are so important that we shall never cede them. The Venetians are merely delaying matters in the hope that the French will again invade Italy.
We are grateful for your efforts to recover the provisions and artillery lost in the shipwreck, and also for your services in the redemption of Diego de Vera's carrack. You ask whom you should address in case Wolsey again falls ill. We are satisfied to rely on your discretion. The rule in this case, however, is to deal with the master rather than with the servants, who will often make themselves seem more important than they are. We firmly believe that you will speed best by dealing directly with Henry. You are in a position to know, however, how things are going at court, and you must conduct yourselves accordingly. We are informed that Beaurain is coming here, having been unable to conclude his charge in England. If he has already left, return the packet addressed to him with its seals unbroken, without sending it, or speaking of it, anywhere else.
The affair to which this refers has already been so badly managed that some part of the secret seems to have leaked out to the king of France, who has spoken so harshly to Bourbon that the latter has withdrawn from court and retired to his own estates, accompanied by a number of persons of importance. Further negotiations in England seem likely to place Bourbon in great peril, consequently we have decided that the affair must be arranged here in Spain. Ask Henry and Wolsey to send powers to their ambassadors to treat with Bourbon and to conclude all alliances and agreements about the payment of the troops and anything else that may arise. We hope to have this affair so well in hand that, by the time Henry's powers arrive here, it will be possible for his ambassadors to sign definite agreements.
Valladolid. [9 March, 1523.]
Contemporary draft, with additions and corrections in Gattinara's hand. French. pp. 16. Calendared in L. & P., III, 1216 from an official MS. copy in the British Museum.
22 March.
H. H. u. St. A. England, f. 2.
Charles V to the Ambassadors in England.
We have received three letters from you, that of the 28th of January by Aymercourt, and others of the 5th and 13th of February by Beaurain, who has reported to us fully his negotiations with Henry and Wolsey, and what you told him about our affairs there. We are grateful for your diligent and faithful services.
We have read the papal briefs addressed to Henry, to Wolsey and to you, bishop of Badajoz. Since we have had no further communication from the pope on this subject and you have not yet received Wolsey's final decision, we shall say nothing about it at present, except to note that the conditions proposed by Wolsey seem unlikely to be accepted.
You may tell Wolsey that we hope he will soon have reasons to reverse his opinion that we have been too harsh with the Venetians, for we are on the point of concluding a treaty with them. When it is concluded, Wolsey will see that the cause of delay has not been on our side, and that we have conceded more than was reasonable for the sake of the common cause. We replied by the last courier to what you wrote about the indemnity and the pensions to which Henry and Wolsey now attach so much importance. We said we had deferred paying the indemnity, relying on what Wolsey said at Bruges, which was that the clause was inserted only to satisfy certain of the king's councillors, and that we should not have to pay. We had not thought that in the midst of these great affairs, the English would insist on every detail of the treaty, or take the delay amiss. If Henry wishes immediate payment, however, ask Wolsey to persuade Henry to raise the money from merchants there on his credit, for at least a year ; we promise to reimburse them with costs and interest. As for the pensions, we sent you by the last courier a letter of credit for 8,500 crowns ; this is all we can possibly do at present.
The naval force of three thousand men which is asked for is being got ready with the greatest diligence, for we do not wish to fail in anything agreed on by treaty, as you may tell the king and the cardinal.
The most pressing and important matter is to arrange about the war this summer. In this there should be no delay, as the season is already well advanced, and as this is the way to oblige the enemy to an honourable peace or truce, so that Christendom can be defended against the Turks and Henry and I be satisfied. Delay is most disadvantageous, and Henry and I should not consume our revenues uselessly without defending ourselves.
It was for this reason we sent you two powers, one for peace or truce, the other for war. You will ask Henry to send his ambassador in Rome similar powers to arrange a truce, as we wrote you by Francisco Frias. We have already written you of our plans for war by land and sea this year, and of our intention, with the help of the nobles, prelates, orders and towns of these realms, to form an army for the invasion of France, strong enough to give battle to the French king, and to besiege towns, and so powerful that we may safely accompany it in person.
Although we are not bound by treaty to spend anything for the defence of the Low Countries beyond the maintenance of the necessary garrisons and succour in case of siege, nevertheless, to encourage our subjects there by showing that we do not intend to leave them in danger, and to move them to contribute to the war, not only for defence but for some good exploit on the enemy, we are sending a large sum of money by letters on the next fair of Antwerp. These letters will be brought by our maître d'hôtel Môqueron, who is leaving in a few days with instructions to distribute this money personally in payment of the troops. We have also ordered new troops recruited there for the war this year, provided that Henry, for his part, will land a large army in time, for we should not fall into the same difficulty as last year. We hope that our subjects in the Low Countries will give us all possible aid, and that an adequate English army will be landed in France, either to join our army in Flanders, or to operate independently as Henry prefers. For our part we shall omit nothing which might contribute to success, for we find our subjects here well disposed, and we know the weakness of the enemy.
We instructed you in our letters of March 8th to follow Madame's instructions in everything concerning the war in Flanders, since she is on the spot and better able to say what power the Low Countries can raise to co-operate with the English this year. This year, it should be at the proper season. In our letters of February 7th we outlined the arrangements for a unified allied army to consist of 1700 men-at-arms, a thousand genetaires and eight thousand Spanish and German infantry with artillery and munitions to be paid by us, and five thousand English infantry, three thousand German infantry, and three thousand kegs of powder to be furnished by Henry. We said that, if Henry preferred, each party might furnish the best army in its power to attack the enemy, we on the side of Bayonne or Languedoc, the English in Brittany, Normandy or Guienne or wherever they preferred. In either case the army should be ready by May first. If the armies are separate, no stipulation is to be made as to their size, on the understanding that each of us will do his best.
Therefore, not to lose more time, we order you that, if your arrangements about an army in Flanders are still incomplete, or if Madame writes that she is unable to raise a suitable army to co-operate with the English, or if the English do not wish to make war in that quarter, you will then, at once, complete the arrangements for a joint army, or for separate armies. Do not be stopped by small details, for if we fail of a truce, we must take the proper season to make war.
Beaurain has repeated to us your messages, and you may take this letter as a complete answer. He has also told us of Wolsey's proposal that we send three hundred men-at-arms and three hundred infantry by sea to join the English in a descent on Normandy or Brittany. This does not seem to us feasible at present. It would take too much time to assemble the necessary troops and ships, and we think the plans above outlined will do more harm to the enemy at less cost.
We are sending the bearer of this, the count de Montfort, to raise a number of lanzknechts in Germany and bring them here. Môqueron is ordered to have ships ready for them, and to provide the necessary money, so that there may be no delay. We have ordered them not to stop anywhere, but to cross the seas at once, as you may inform Henry and Wolsey, making the necessary excuses. We intend to delay our expedition until the lanzknechts arrive.
As we have written you, since Beaurain has returned to Spain we think it better that negotiations with Bourbon should be conducted from here. Therefore ask Henry and Wolsey to send their ambassadors here the necessary powers and instructions to arrange with Bourbon all alliances and conventions, including those concerning the payment of his troops. Before these powers arrive we shall go on with the negotiation, and we have asked Beaurain to write Bourbon asking him to send someone here empowered to conclude everything, so that the negotiations may be carried on secretly and without suspicion. We shall proceed so diligently in this matter that by the time the king of England's powers and instructions arrive, everything will be arranged. All this, of course, must be a complete secret.
Valladolid. 22 March, 1523.
Draft. French. pp. 8.