Spain: March 1524

Pages 311-329

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 1524

2 March.
H. H. u. St. A. England, f. 1.
Louis De Praet to Margaret Of Savoy.
Since I wrote on February 21st in reply to yours of the 5th, nothing of importance has occurred here except that the papal ambassador, in fulfilment of his instructions, has asked the king and the cardinal whether they and the emperor were prepared to press the war this year, or whether they would prefer the pope to arrange a peace or truce. Henry and Wolsey replied coldly that they could not discuss the matter, because they had no certain news from the emperor. The papal envoy told me yesterday that he was much taken aback by this reply, and was writing at length to the pope the impressions he had gathered here.
Last Wednesday, February 24th, I received letters from your maître d'hôtel dated the 18th, informing me of his return, and of the defeat of 250 French men-at-arms in Italy, and referring me for further details to a letter you were writing. I have not received this letter, and Brian Tuke says he has received nothing from Flanders except letters from Dr. Knight to Wolsey, and others, dated February 19th. In these there is no mention of the news in question, and I do not know what to think. I beg you to question your master of the posts, Baptiste de Taxis, and let me know whether their failure to arrive is his fault ; otherwise Brian Tuke must be to blame.
London, Feb. 27, 1524.
P.S.—Since writing the above I received yours of February 18th, and duplicates of letters from the emperor and Beaurain which you had opened. I gave them yesterday to Wolsey, and told him the news of Italy, at which he seemed very pleased. The emperor's letters are so confusing as not to be very serviceable ; they speak of instructions given Beaurain, and refer to other documents, none of which I have received. As far as I can make out, they contain three principal points : (1) a request that Henry furnish the remainder of the hundred thousand crowns promised Bourbon ; (2) a request that, after the French are driven from Italy and Bourbon invades Dauphiny or Provence, Henry contribute an equal share of the expenses in return for equal benefits ; (3) a request to know Henry's intention about the war this year, and about the terms for a peace or truce in case such arrangement seems desirable.
To these points Wolsey has replied : (1) Henry has decided to furnish no more money to Bourbon for any such purpose as the emperor suggests, since it would be unprofitable to England ; moreover, he is informed that the emperor has not paid his share. (2) The suggestion that Henry pay half the expenses of the Italian army he found unreasonable, since it was entirely for the emperor's advantage, and moreover the campaign in Italy had not yet been decided. (3) If the emperor will place a large army in the field on the Spanish side at the beginning of next summer, and if you, Madame, will provide troops paid at the emperor's expense, in at least as large numbers as last year, Henry will send a large army beyond the seas to invade the enemy. If this is impossible, the emperor should inform the king of England frankly, and the English will then announce their intentions and assist in the negotiation of a truce. I could get no further reply from Wolsey during that interview, but he asked me to state my whole charge at Greenwich in the king's presence next Sunday. I shall inform you of my success, but I have little hope that it will be great.
The rest of the emperor's letter concerned the reasons why his Spanish army had not gone farther into France. Wolsey had nothing to say to this, except that he had heard that the campaign had failed for lack of money, and that the emperor had retired into Aragon because his Castilian subjects were not as obedient as they should be.
I also spoke to Wolsey about his complaints, communicated to you by Hesdin, saying that now that his ambassador knew the truth, he must have written acquitting you. He replied that his ambassador had only written that you had done justice in the matter of Wolsey's sale to the admiral, and that he was willing to be patient for a time, though he gave me to understand that if the goods were not restored, he was determined to recover them by the capture of ships of your subjects. He has a new complaint in this connection. He says he sent his cellarer to Calais for French wine, and that in returning from Calais the cellarer and his purchases were captured by a Fleming and taken to Flanders. Wolsey said, tragically : "This is the way I am rewarded for my services to the emperor." I hope you can find some means of restoring his wine.
I then gave him the letter written in your hand which he asked me to read to him, and then replied as before, saying that he would forget the matter and that he would always remain your devoted servant. Of your excuses for your council of finance he only said in general terms that there was nothing he desired more than to see the affairs of the emperor well conducted. While I was talking to Wolsey, Brian Tuke brought me your letter of February 22nd, and in reply to it Wolsey said that the ambassadors about the Danish matter should leave next week without fail. I cannot send you the instructions to Beaurain and other documents mentioned in the emperor's letter, for I have received no letters from him, except those you sent me, since October 4th, a circumstance which surprises me greatly.
2 March, 1524.
Signed, Loys de Praet. French. pp. 6.
11 March.
H. H. u. St. A. England, f. 1.
Louis De Praet to Margaret Of Savoy.
Following my letter of March 2nd, I went on Sunday to have audience with the king at Greenwich, but to the emperor's requests and my persuasions he only replied that he would consider the matter and Wolsey would tell me in a few days his final decision. I went yesterday to Wolsey, who said Henry was unwilling, for the present, to come to any decision, until he had a reply from the ambassadors whom he had recently sent to the emperor, and until he knew whether the French could be driven out of Italy, for it seemed to him that their army was as strong as the emperor's. If they were driven out, Wolsey said, and if the emperor would make an invasion on the Spanish side, and if you would provide the necessary auxiliaries, Henry would invade France with the best army he could get together, and would make no objection to contributing to Bourbon's army. This was all he would add to what he had said before, and in my opinion he intends to drag this matter out until the outcome in Italy is known.
I am writing this news to Beaurain at once so that he may ask the pope to urge Henry to contribute to Bourbon's army. Please forward the letter promptly. Wolsey now says that Albany's secretary who was here recently, came only to spy out the country, and to persuade the English to make a truce until St. John's day, at which time Albany intends to try to take them unprepared, and do them all the harm in his power. This Henry says he will prevent.
The king and the cardinal have sent a bishop to Germany about the Danish affair.
London, 11 March, 1524.
P.S.—My servant, Richard, arrived to-day with your letters, which I have not yet given to Wolsey. I shall send Richard to the emperor in three or four days. A courier has come from Rome with the news that the citadel of Cremona has surrendered to the emperor, and that his army has advanced to within a mile of the French, seeking battle.
Signed, Loys de Praet. French. pp. 4.
13 March.
H. H. u. St. A. Belgien, DD Abt. B. f. 8.
Penthievre to Charles V.
I wish to thank your majesty for your letter to me, and to assure you that I shall not spare my life or goods in your service. M. de Bourbon sent me here to aid your army should this king order his to press on into France, but since I am unable to do great service here, for reasons known to your ambassador, and since I have completed the delivery of my charge, I shall return to M. de Bourbon, where I hope to be of service to you. The king and the cardinal have told me that they have the best will in the world for the war, provided your armies will attack the enemy from all sides. I hope your majesty will accept my humble advice and do so.
Canterbury, 13 March, 1524.
Signed, Penthièvre. French.
22 March.
H. H. u. St. A. Belgien, DD Abt. B. f. 8.
Powers for Louis De Praet from Charles V.
Commission to Louis de Praet, the emperor's ambassador in England, to treat and conclude in England about the invasion of France and about a subsidy to the duke of Bourbon.
Burgos, 22 March, 1524.
Copy. Latin. pp. 2. Calendared in L. & P., IV., 69, from the original in the Public Record Office.
23 March.
H. H. u. St. A. Belgien, DD Abt. B. f. 8.
Charles V to Henry VIII.
Your ambassador, Jerningham, will communicate to you at length what I have told him about our common affairs. I intend to do everything in my power to bring the enemy to reason, and hope that you will do the same. It seems to me that there has never been a more favourable opportunity, as I am writing to my ambasasdor, by whom and by this sign ... you may know the good hope in which I write this.
Burgos, 23 March, 1524.
Copy. French. Calendared in L. & P., IV., 69, from the original in the British Museum.
23 March.
H. H. u. St. A. Belgien, DD Abt. B. f. 8.
Charles V to Wolsey.
The Sieur de Praet has written me of your great exertions in my behalf, for which you will find me grateful. I have communicated fully with Jerningham about our common affairs. They require nothing now except diligence, so that this exceptionally favourable opportunity may not escape. I shall do everything that I can, and hope that you will do likewise, to bring matters to a happy conclusion this year. So that you may know how much I have this matter at heart, I am putting here a mark, the meaning of which you will know.
Frais-del-Val. 23 March, 1524.
Copy. French. Calendared in L. & P., IV., 69, from the original in the British Museum.
26 March.
H. H. u. St. A. England, f. 2.
Charles V to Louis De Praet.
We have received from Cilly your packet of letters dated January 25th, reporting among other things, the arrival of Hesdin in England to explain that the break up of the allied army in Picardy was not Madame's doing, and was not caused by lack of money.
It will be unnecessary to refute at length the report which Henry and Wolsey have received that we have had no army in the field here. The capture of Fuenterrabia is answer enough, and Jerningham was himself with the army, and can give an account of it. It is notorious that we kept our army in the field until the beginning of March, and that they did not lack a single day's payment. Now our troops have suffered so from cold and bad weather, and are so impeded by the weather and by the lack of provisions, that it seems unlikely they can do anything further against the enemy without some rest.
As to the articles which the archbishop of Bari brought here, we have had no further news of his activities, and need make no further reply to what you write, except to assure Henry and Wolsey that we will keep them informed.
We are grateful to Wolsey for the good-will which you report he shows toward us, and we are writing by Jerningham to thank him. We shall send you, by the first courier, letters of exchange with which to pay the pensions. Your arrears will not be forgotten, nor what we owe to Brian Tuke. It is not our fault that you have not had more frequent news. The last three zabras have been kept in port by unfavourable winds.
You may assure Wolsey that his information that the pope is inclining toward France, and holds Cardinal Soderini in high favour, is mistaken ; we have reliable news that the pope has shown himself, by his actions, our true friend. Jerningham will make further report on this subject. The king and the cardinal also have reason to be grateful for the manner in which the pope has favoured our common affairs. We have not neglected to take steps to preserve the friendship and service of the archbishop of Capua, and of Giovanni Matteo [Ghiberti]. We are replying to what the count of Penthièvre wrote us about his coming to England and the rights which he claims in Brittany, as you will see. Promise him our favour and assistance, for we know that our brother, the duke of Bourbon, loves and esteems him, and that he deserves it.
We have already written you that your services in England are more important than your office of bailly of Bruges, and that you must stay where you are. We have written to them of Bruges and hope they will give you no more trouble, since we have told them that your absence was on our service. If this does not serve, you may resign the office. We shall do everything in our power to favour Vivaldi's suit against Rinaldo Strozzi, but he should have someone here to represent him.
The principal affair is, of course, the war for this year. The English ambassadors here have proposed four points to us : (1) The duke of Bourbon is asked to come to Flanders to command the English army which is to invade Picardy. (2) We are asked to furnish three thousand horse, three thousand foot, and half the cost of wagons and artillery as we did last year. (3) We are to invade France, entirely at our own expense, either by way of Bayonne or by Narbonne. (4) We are to maintain our army of Italy, expel the French, and pursue them into France. In return, Henry promises to place in the field in Picardy, twenty thousand horse and foot, with which army he expects to take Paris, following last year's route. The English will then march against Rouen.
We replied to the ambassadors that these proposals were too much at our expense, and we asked them to agree to a more equal arrangement, for instance to contributions to an invasion of France by our army of Italy. They replied that they were unable to treat except on the terms they had stated. Since Jerningham was about to return to England, and since we saw that no agreement could be reached here, we summoned the ambassadors and replied as follows : that we knew that Henry's offers proceeded from his zeal for the alliance, and were grateful. We would be happy if Bourbon had gone to England instead of to Italy, and if it were in our power to grant at once all Henry's requests, without neglecting Italian affairs, which are of the utmost importance, as he knows, since the enemy is making his principal effort there, and we are obliged to sustain alone the burden of opposing him, as we have done during the entire war. This burden, however, makes it impossible for us to accede to the ambassadors' proposals for several reasons. Bourbon is already in command of the army of Italy as our personal representative, ordered to expel the French from Italy and to follow them with his victorious army of fifty thousand men, commanded by experienced captains. Moreover, Bourbon has already sent word to his friends to join him when he enters France, so that it would now be impossible to alter these plans without grave delay and danger of failure. It is probable, too, that Bourbon, in command of so excellent an army, in touch with his friends, and with so favourable an opportunity to give battle to the French near his own territories, would not consent to the change. As for furnishing three thousand horse and three thousand foot, etc., for Picardy, and an army here, and sustaining the Italian army at our own expense, we replied graciously and frankly, that we could not do so because of our great expenditures last year here and in Italy, the great expense of the army of Picardy last year, and the constant necessity of defending the Low Countries. To accede to the king's requests would oblige us to abandon Italy entirely ; and the defence of Italy seems to us the principal point, since on it depends the safety of Naples and Sicily, and of all the empire, and that of the holy see and all Christendom. Therefore, we said, we felt obliged to apply all our resources to Italy for the present. Any other great charge would be insupportable, and by dividing our efforts we should fail in everything. We asked Henry to consider the great good to the common cause which would come from the defeat of the French in Italy and the successful invasion of France from that quarter, and not to ask us to promise things we could not perform.
We therefore proposed to the English ambassadors three alternatives for the war this year, and gave Jerningham a copy of the proposals in writing. A copy is also being sent to you. Ask Henry and Wolsey to be content with what we can do, and to choose whichever alternative best pleases them. Since speed is essential, we hereby authorize you to treat and conclude, without further reference to us, in virtue of the power sent you herewith. Inform us at once of your conclusion, without regard to expense, by this zabra.
If you find that the English will not accept any of these alternatives, and will take no part in the war on these terms, ask them not to abandon their present preparations, but to tell you what they will do, so that you may inform us immediately. It is true that this would involve serious delays, so you must make every effort to obtain a more prompt agreement to avoid our having to make war in the winter as we have done in past years.
Burgos, 26 March, 1524.
Copy. French. pp. 9. A MS. in the British Museum, calendared in L. & P., IV, 77, appears to be a copy of this document given by de Praet to Wolsey. It omits several paragraphs.
26 March.
H. H. u. St. A. England, f. 1.
Louis De Praet to Charles V.
Since I wrote last I have received a letter from M. de Beaurain, who has reached Italy, enclosing copies of three of your majesty's letters to me, the last dated December 15th. Neither by Beaurain's letters nor by these copies have I been able to understand perfectly your majesty's intentions, since the copies are full of references to certain instructions given Beaurain and to other documents, none of which I have so far received. The most recent letter I had received from your majesty until this time was that of October 3rd, brought by Cilly. As far as I can make out these copies of your letters contain four principal points : (1) Bourbon's affairs, the payment of the rest of the 100,000 crowns and the regularization by treaty of the agreement between him and Russell ; (2) the causes of the delay in your military operations on the Spanish frontier ; (3) the advisability of maintaining the army of Italy by joint contributions should it invade France ; (4) your desire to know this king's mind about the further conduct of the war in case no peace or truce has been arranged. Since some of these points require a prompt answer because of the lateness of the season, and since I understand that there is some danger of the army of Italy falling into disorder for lack of money should it invade France, I decided to present these questions to Wolsey as well as I could.
He replied first to the suggestion that the English contribute half the cost of an invasion of France by the army of Italy. He made his accustomed complaints about the expense to which Henry had been put for the sake of your majesty, and said that it did not seem reasonable that his king should be asked to pay half the cost of an enterprise from which he would derive none of the profit. He said it was too soon to speak of such an invasion, since the French army in Italy was still undefeated, and that if Henry agreed to this proposal he would lose any opportunity of invading France himself, since by it your majesty was quit of any obligation to maintain an army in Spain or in Flanders, and if Henry wished to invade France he would be obliged to go to the expense of equipping a great army of horse and foot at his own cost, without any co-operation either from you or from Madame.
After many words to this effect Wolsey spoke of the Bourbon affair, replying briefly in the same manner as I have indicated in my former letters. In my opinion it would be better for Bourbon to send an envoy of his own here about his own business ; otherwise these lords will suspect that all proposals emanate simply from your majesty.
Wolsey also replied as before about their intentions regarding the further conduct of the war, that is to say that if your majesty would put a good army into the field on the Spanish frontier, at the beginning of the summer, and if Madame would furnish at your expense at least as many troops from Flanders as was agreed last year, Henry would willingly send overseas an army large enough and well enough equipped to give battle to the enemy, and would cross in person if your majesty would likewise take the field. If your affairs in Spain and Flanders are such that you cannot support such burdens, he said, your majesty should advise him frankly and they would then say what they would be able to do, and he (Wolsey) would undertake to negotiate the best peace or truce possible under the circumstances. This was the only answer I was able to get at this interview. Wolsey said, however, that the following Sunday he would be with the king at Greenwich and I might then discuss everything in the king's presence.
On the appointed day, however, Henry, having heard my charge, added nothing to what Wolsey had said except some further complaints about your majesty's failure to repay the indemnity and the loan. He said he would consider the whole matter, and that Wolsey would tell me his decision in a few days. Several days later I again saw Wolsey and he gave me their final reply as follows. Henry is unwilling to enter any agreement about the points raised until he hears from his ambassadors with you, and until the French have been driven from Italy. This, Wolsey thinks will not be easy since their army seems at least as strong as yours. If, however, the French are driven out, and your army is fresh enough and well enough equipped to undertake an invasion, and if your majesty will invade France from Spain this spring with a good army, and if Madame will furnish the same number of horse and foot as before, Henry will invade France with the best army he can get together. If your majesty is unable to invade France from Spain, it is suggested that you send back to Flanders the 8,000 Germans you have with you, to be joined with the horse and foot to be furnished by Madame, and thus form a common army. In this case Henry will make no difficulties about a reasonable contribution to the army of Italy. He added nothing to his former reply about Bourbon. It seems to me the English will make no final reply until they hear that your army of Italy has been victorious, and know what co-operation they may expect from you. If the news is satisfactory, however, they will be very glad to invade France. Henry, in particular, has a great desire to do so for, having seen his army cross the Somme last year with so small a force, he now believes firmly that he can conquer all the frontier provinces, and even Paris. If your majesty can agree to one of the alternative proposals made to me and also to be made to your majesty by the English ambassadors, I believe that Henry will not only invade France but agree to contribute to the army of Italy. Otherwise there is no hope of his doing so. Even if your majesty is able to bear the great expenses involved in an acceptance of the English proposals, there remain two difficulties. One is that the season is now so far advanced, the other that communications are so uncertain between England and Spain as to make co-operation difficult.
I have thought best to write Beaurain at once of my success here, suggesting that he move the pope to urge upon these lords a contribution to the army of Italy. They may prove more susceptible to the pope's persuasions, particularly Wolsey may, since his legation here has been confirmed for life with greater powers than before.
Since it is now past history, Henry and Wolsey had little to say about the reasons for the ill success of your Spanish campaign, but they did add that they had heard from Rome that your army had broken up at the end of December for lack of money, and that your majesty had withdrawn into the kingdom of Aragon because of the disloyal conduct of the Castilians. I told Wolsey everything you have written about his election to the papacy, and he asked me to convey his thanks to your majesty. I was unable to say much about Bari's proposals and your reply, for lack of the copies of these documents referred to in your letter. This is particularly unfortunate, for, in my opinion, these lords are much inclined to a peace or truce, and are only waiting for your majesty to make the first overture in that direction. By what I can see of the disposition of this people, the king must soon have either peace or victory, otherwise there is danger, either that he will not be able to raise the money granted him, or that some part of his people will revolt.
I wrote your majesty of the coming here of the duke of Albany's secretary, and of the pretext under which he had procured a safe-conduct from Wolsey. Since then Wolsey has shown me certain letters from Albany to King Francis and the queen dowager, which have been captured by the English. Albany wrote that the negotiations for a truce were intended merely to deceive the English and to suspend military operations until St. John's Day next, at which time he intends to take the English by surprise, invade their kingdom with a great army, and do all the damage he can. Wolsey is sending copies of these letters to the English ambassadors in Spain. There seems to be little hope of the treaty between this kingdom and Scotland which Wolsey had expected to include.
I thank your majesty for the office of bailly of Bruges. Although my presence there is required. I shall obey your majesty's command and remain here at my post. Madame will have written you the news of Flanders and Denmark.
London, 12 March, 1524.
P.S.—Since writing the above I have received two couriers with your letters of the 15th and 19th of December, and of the 18th and 26th of January. Also the good news of the surrender of Fuenterrabia. I have already acted on your letter of December 15th. The other three letters contain three principal points : (1) I am to try to persuade the king and the cardinal to pay Bourbon the rest of the 100,000 crowns and to contribute to the invasion of France by the army of Italy ; (2) I am to learn their views on Bari's proposals and your reply, and to ask them to send powers and instructions to their ambassadors in Spain for peace negotiations there ; (3) I am to ask them to send powers for a formal treaty with Bourbon.
Although their reply to your letter of December 15th, recorded above, gave me little hope of success, I went at once to the king and the cardinal and delivered my charge. I found them already informed of its contents by their ambassadors. To the first point they replied that they would give no further money to Bourbon, nor would they agree to contribute to the army of Italy, for several reasons. First, invasion of France from that quarter could bring them no good, and they had decided it was time for Henry to think of conquering something for himself, instead of always making war for the benefit of his allies. Second, by this agreement your majesty would not be obliged to give them any aid in the invasion of France should a favourable opportunity offer, while they would be bound to maintain the army of Italy entirely for your benefit. Third, even if Henry were willing to agree to your proposal it would be too early to do so, for the pope has written him that the army in Italy is in great danger of breaking up for lack of money, since the contributions of the Italian league extend only to the 15th of this month, and are not likely to be renewed on account of the poverty of several of the members, particularly the papacy, so that the army is more likely to break up than to drive the enemy out of Italy and invade France. Even if financial difficulties do not prove disastrous, the issue of battle is in God's hands, and the powerful reinforcements which the French army has received make it doubtful. Therefore they will enter into no agreement until they have further news from Italy, and until they hear from their ambassadors in Spain whether your majesty will accept terms which they regard as more nearly equal. In spite of all my arguments I was unable to get a more favourable reply. I can see that they take it very ill that your majesty will give them no assistance from Flanders in case they wish to invade France, for, as I wrote, Henry is very much attached to this project, and believes that if your army is victorious in Italy he would have an excellent opportunity to achieve something substantial.
If the army of Italy is indeed as short of money as the pope has written to the king and the cardinal (and the viceroy and M. de Beaurain have written me much the same thing), I fear it will be in grave difficulties. Even if it is victorious I do not see how it can be kept together to invade France, for it is likely that several of the members of the league will refuse to contribute, and money from here could not arrive in time. If it must wait until news of a victory reaches here, and an agreement has been reached with the king and the cardinal about their contribution, two months, at least, and probably three will have elapsed before the army in Italy would get a penny of the money. I have pointed this out, but without effect. I suspect that, even if a victory is won, these lords will make difficulties about contributing, preferring to use all their powers to capture towns here, and thus leaving all the cost of Italy to be borne by your majesty and your allies there. In that event, Italian affairs will be in great danger ; the pope and the Venetians and the other princes are likely to despair of success and seek means for their own safety. Even now the pope will not declare himself for the defensive league, in spite of the efforts of the duke of Sessa and the English ambassadors. He insists that he will aid your majesty all that he can without such declaration, on the excuse that the declaration would do your majesty more harm than good, since, if he takes sides, he could not mediate a peace or truce, or aid you in many of the ways that he now can use as a neutral. But your majesty will have been informed of all this by your representatives in Italy. I hope that God will shortly give us good news of the army, for two such great hosts cannot long remain facing each other without the issue being decided either by battle or by a lack of money and provisions.
In view of all the above considerations, I placed before Henry the contents of the penultimate article of your letters, in the hope that he might at least be induced to make some invasion of France this year and distract the forces of the enemy. He was not satisfied with your proposal ; he still insists that you should pay for cavalry and infantry from Flanders to accompany the army ; otherwise he is determined to make no invasion this summer.
I did not see Wolsey again until yesterday when we went over all the above matters in the presence of the papal envoy. Wolsey began by protesting that what he was going to say proceeded from no ill-will toward your majesty, but only from the hope that past errors would be corrected. He said the king and he were surprised at your unreasonable requests, particularly since they had been put to such great expense by land and sea in your service, while you had not fulfilled any of the things you had promised. He said that, by their means, you had been delivered from the disadvantageous treaty of Noyon and from your obligation to marry in France and to pay 100,000 ducats a year for Naples, and by their aid you had conquered the duchy of Milan and afterwards Tournai, and more recently Sauveterre and Fuenterrabia, and other places, entirely to your own profit without regard to that of the king, your friend and ally. On the contrary, he said, your Spanish commanders had shown themselves indifferent to Henry's interests in that, on leaving Sauveterre, they had laid siege to Fuenterrabia instead of to Bayonne, which, he has been informed, could easily have been taken and which should have been assailed, according to your agreement with Jerningham. As if he had not said enough, Wolsey then recurred to the matter of the Germans under Count Felix, maintaining that they had not received a penny of other than English money, that there had been only six thousand of them instead of twelve thousand, and that he understood the break-up of the army was due, not to French opposition, but to the sinister intrigues of those who manage your majesty's affairs in Italy, for immediately after the army disbanded, the greater number of the captains went with their men to Milan to serve under the viceroy and the duke.
I hardly knew what to reply to such words, but, since they had been spoken in the presence of the papal envoy, who will surely report them to his master, with the result that Clement, learning that nothing is to be expected from this country in the way of a contribution, may not only grow cooler toward your majesty, but blame you for the failure here, I felt I should say something in your defence. I said I did not wish to engage in comparisons or recriminations, and that it was very true that Henry had acquitted himself very well toward your majesty, nevertheless, things had not fallen out quite as he had said. For example, at the beginning of the present war, your majesty had indeed conquered the duchy of Milan, Tournai, and the territories of Robert de la Marck, but this had been alone, before Henry had declared war against the French. Nor did you owe the reduction of Fuenterrabia to his assistance, since, when it was taken, Henry had not a single soldier in the field, and had not contributed a penny to its expense. As for his statement that Henry had borne the chief expense of the war since its declaration, I said it was notorious that your majesty had always borne, and was still bearing, by far the greatest share of the expense, by land and by sea, in Italy and elsewhere. I said that he ought not to think that your majesty was by any means indifferent to English interests, nor look so closely into the exact fulfilment of promises, since in wartime things change constantly, what is agreed on cannot always be performed, and the issue is in God's hands. I said he ought not to blame you for the failure to besiege Bayonne, or for the ill success of Bourbon's Germans. The siege of Bayonne had been deferred for the reasons set forth in your letter of the 18th of January, which I begged him to believe, rather than any reports to the contrary. I said he should not harbour unworthy suspicions of the honourable persons who managed your Italian affairs, but that, even if they had acted as he suspected, it would have been quite contrary to your majesty's wishes and orders, since the formation of Count Felix' army had been your idea, and in paying them until the English were ready to begin the first payment, you had spent much more money than they.
After the above colloquy the papal envoy withdrew. Wolsey then turned to me very gently, and said that the king his master and he loved and honoured me because they believed that I was devoted to maintaining their alliance with your majesty, and that I ought to continue to do my utmost in that direction. He begged me not to take his words in bad part, and not to inform your majesty of them, since they had been well meant, and he swore to me on his priesthood that his service to your majesty had endangered not only his position but his life, so that sometimes he was obliged to speak to me as he had done, to prevent the council from regarding him as a traitor. I replied that, for my part, my actions would be such as I could answer for to God, and the thing I would regret most in the world would be to see the alliance between your two majesties suffer, but that it was my duty to advise you of everything that happened here, particularly since what had been spoken had been in the presence of the pope's ambassador. I begged him in future to be more careful before whom he spoke, and on these words our conference closed. It is indeed true that the cardinal has been so far your very good servant, and has been useful in maintaining the alliance ; also I am sure that for some time past he has had to suffer on this account. Nevertheless, he should avoid such language at inappropriate times, for were the papal envoy other than an honourable man and a good imperialist, he might make use of Wolsey's words to the serious disadvantage of the king of England and of your majesty, by insinuating a suspicion of your disagreement into the pope's mind.
Later Wolsey replied to me formally about the principal points in your letters. First, Henry will make no agreement about contributing to the army of Italy at present, for the reasons I have already given you. As to the proposal in the penultimate article in your letter of the 18th of January, though it seemed neither reasonable nor possible, nevertheless, if Henry had a fruitful reply from his ambassadors in Spain and good news of the progress of the army in Italy, he would do his best either to contribute to that army, or to invade France himself, or to do both. As to sending powers to his ambassadors in Spain to arrange a peace or truce with the French there, Wolsey said that Henry was determined to agree to no truce and to send no powers to treat for peace, since the differences between him and King Francis were so many and divers that they could not be settled except by negotiation here. In case, however, your majesty finds peace necessary, and is willing to arrange for the French to send ambassadors here for that purpose, Henry is willing to meet them on reasonable terms. Wolsey added that it seemed reasonable to Henry that your majesty should undertake to open such negotiations for two reasons : first, to recompense his great expenses in a war by which you alone have profited ; second, because many of the matters in dispute nearly concern your majesty, since you are bound, on pain of the censures of the church, to continue to pay the indemnity to Henry until all his claims against Francis are satisfied. These claims, including the arrears on the pensions and the money for the re-sale of Tournai, Wolsey estimates at more than six million crowns, and he assures me that Henry will insist on complete payment.
Wolsey says that if Francis or the queen dowager sends to you again through the archbishop of Bari, or by other means, to ask you to send delegates to a conference on the frontier, Henry will be satisfied if you hear the mission of the French ambassador in the presence of his ambassadors, and should the French offer satisfactory terms, ask them to send an embassy here, saying that you will make no peace or truce without the knowledge and consent of the king of England. If they refuse to send here, he wishes you to ask them what terms King Francis offers the king of England, and inform his ambassadors so that they may report. Henry will do the same, if the French make offers here. If your majesty prefers to have these matters arranged at Rome, as Wolsey has been informed that M. de Beaurain has powers to treat there, Henry will send his ambassadors there similar powers and instructions to treat under the mediation of the pope. This is all that I could learn from Wolsey of the English intentions, though your majesty may be more fully informed by Henry's ambassadors in Spain.
I should not neglect to inform you that, according to the papal envoy here, Henry and Wolsey have said openly that they will enter no negotiations at Rome, and I believe they intend to remain at war with the French, regulating their action on yours, on account of the treaty about the indemnity, until they see a better course, or until the French offer them satisfactory conditions. In my opinion this decision of theirs is likely to prevent anything being done soon, as I pointed out to Wolsey in an effort to persuade him to send powers and instructions to the English ambassadors in Spain, as your majesty asked six months ago. He has always refused. It seems to me that he and Henry chiefly resent the fact that Francis has made so many proposals to your majesty, and has never approached them, and shows in the articles brought you by the archbishop of Bari that he makes little account of them. I am convinced that if King Francis had made here the offers he has made to your majesty, they would have been very puffed up. I don't know, however, whether they would have communicated the matter to me, as your majesty has done with their ambassadors. At least, such is not their present custom. Since my arrival here I have never been asked to be present at any of their discussions with foreigners, either with the king of Denmark, or with M. de Penthièvre, or, recently, with the duke of Albany's secretary. All I have known of these negotiations is what Wolsey told me in conversation after they were over.
As to the remainder of the sum due Bourbon, I have been able to get no answer from Henry and Wolsey, other than that in the beginning of this letter. Nor will they say anything about sending powers to Spain to complete the treaty, except that Henry intends to keep all his promises. As to this, Henry promised young Lurcy and me before Christmas that he would send all the necessary documents to Spain by Lurcy. He has changed his mind so often about this Bourbon affair, that one no longer knows what to think ; he sent Russell back to Besançon and later told Penthièvre that Russell was on his way home and had got as far as Calais ; later he told me that Russell was still at Besançon, and there is still no news of Russell's return, although I cannot imagine why they keep him there, since he is not allowed to pay Bourbon the rest of the money.
By the above your majesty will have discerned the prospects here for peace and for war ; neither seem good. There is no hope of their aid in the war unless your majesty has already agreed to the proposals made to you by their ambassadors, for before I can get any answer from them what is to be done in Italy will be done, and there is no appearance of any military preparations here for the season which soon will be passing. Nevertheless, if your majesty wishes me to treat with them on the basis of your letter of January 18th or otherwise, you will have to send me adequate powers. Looking over all the powers you have sent me, I find that all of them refer to military operations during the year 1523, and if I had been treating with Wolsey of these matters, the whole negotiation might have fallen through for want of adequate powers. Wolsey is a great stickler on these points, and would not have hesitated to suspend the whole negotiation if my documents were not in order. It is true that we have not got as far as this at present.
I shall not trouble your majesty further with my advice about peace or truce, except to say that it seems to me you should keep on good terms with the pope, and co-operate with him. He seems to wish to remain your ally, knowing that this is for the good and peace of the holy see and also for that of Florence, of which state he is head. His Holiness can do more with these lords here than anyone else, particularly in a matter of truce or peace, and likewise, if necessary, with King Francis. I think he will do his very best, both for the good-will he bears you and for the advancement of his private interests.
Henry and Wolsey rather belittle your conquests in Bearn. They say that Sauveterre was a feeble place, and was surrendered to your captains on terms little honourable to you. They say also that Fuenterrabia was taken more by treason than by force, on account of the treachery of certain Navarrese in the town. They are not as pleased with the news as I had expected, fearing, I suppose, that after these successes the Spaniards will not be so hot to continue the war, but will try to persuade your majesty to make some peace or truce without much regard for English interests. Wolsey has often said that he is quite sure your majesty will do nothing contrary to your treaties of alliance, but he has asked me to write you on the king's behalf and his own, begging you affectionately to continue to observe the treaties, as they will do, for their part. Certainly I believe that they are anxious to preserve your majesty's alliance, and not without cause, but they are so bitter sometimes in their speech, and have so little regard to the company in which they speak, that they might easily lead people to suppose that their hearts are worse than perhaps they are. Your majesty will know how to handle them, but you should particularly note one point. This king is very discontented at having received so far no payments on the indemnity nor on the loan of the 150,000 crowns. He has uttered loud complaints before his household, and matters have gone so far that the queen sent her confessor to me in secret to warn me of Henry's discontent and ask me to write to you and advise you to remedy matters. She is very sorry that your majesty ever promised so much in this treaty, and she fears that it may one day be the cause of a weakening of the friendship between you two. I beg your majesty to keep this communication of the queen's secret ; it would be regrettable if it came to the ears of certain English.
From the copies of Beaurain's and the viceroy's letters, you will see what news there is of Italy. We are expecting news of the battle daily. I suppose your majesty has heard that the castle of Cremona surrendered on February 22nd, to the duke of Milan. I have found the pope's envoy here a frank and honest person, and I am credibly informed that he is a good imperialist. I see him frequently, and assure him of the great desire your majesty has to safeguard Italy, and of your complete devotion to the pope and the church. I hope he reports what I say. He has likewise communicated to me his affairs without any dissimulation that I could perceive. The arrangement between us seemed very desirable, especially as Wolsey had told him of all Henry's affairs with you, and in a manner not much to your advantage. I thought it better, then, that he should know what your majesty was now proposing to the king of England, so that he would see that it will not be your fault if Italy is not properly defended.
I have asked your majesty before to order that my regular wages, and those due me as chamberlain, be paid me, as you consented that they should during my absence. I beg your majesty again to order that I be paid, unless you wish me to retain what is owed me out of the money sent here to pay the pensions, which amounts to 490 crowns, which would be very useful to me.
London, 26 March, 1524.
Signed, Loys de Praet. French. pp. 29.
29 March.
H. H. u. St. A. England, f. 1.
Louis De Praet to Margaret Of Savoy.
Since I wrote you last by the courier from Spain, I have delivered to the king and the cardinal all my charge according to the emperor's most recent instructions. They replied, coldly enough, and in a vein similar to their earlier replies. Nevertheless, since the emperor may gather from a report of our conversations what is in the hearts of these people here, I have written him a lengthy account by Richard, who left yesterday. As a precaution, and because he asked me to see that Lannoy and Beaurain were kept fully informed of matters here, I am sending you a copy, from which you may learn the whole course of the negotiations. I beg you to forward it at once to the viceroy, who will send it to the emperor by way of Genoa. I must not omit to advise you that Wolsey and Henry are very much upset by the emperor's refusal to promise any assistance in the way of cavalry or infantry for their invasion of France, except what they pay for. Wolsey still hopes that the English ambassadors in Spain may procure a more favourable answer on this point, but if I know my master's mind, he will not discuss the matter further, or at least will refer entirely to you and to what you feel able to do.
I have received your letter of March 15th, but Wolsey has not mentioned the matter of the Domprevost to me since, nor I to him. I should prefer that he speak of it first, but if he does not I shall mention the matter in a few days to hear what he has to say. The duplicate of my letter to the emperor, herewith enclosed, is partly in cipher. Either Marnix or La Roche can decipher it for you ; I believe they both have keys. May I remind you of the difficulties about the exchange of monies which impede the Calais wool trade, and of the desirability of restoring the goods of the cardinal and the admiral, about which they have complained? They have spoken to me of the matter again, and to be frank with you, they both seem so convinced that they are in the right that, if sentence is given against them in Flanders, they will certainly recoup themselves out of the goods of our merchants here. I have told them several times what you wrote me, but they refuse to be satisfied.
Thank you for your very kind assistance in the affair of my office of bailly of Bruges. The deputies of Bruges have come here and received my oath, according to the letters patent which you issued in my favour.
London, 29 March, 1524.
Signed, Loys de Praet. French. pp. 2.
30 March.
H. H. u. St. A. England, f. 1.
Louis De Praet to Margaret Of Savoy.
I went today to see the king and the cardinal at Greenwich. They told me that one of their spies, who had just come from Paris, reported that Queen Louise was ill with pleurisy and Queen Claude was said to be dying of the pox. News had reached the French court of the surrender of Fuenterrabia and of the citadel of Cremona, and Francis is sending Longueville and Tremouille with three hundred men-at-arms to reinforce the Italian army. The spy also reports that Francis is very unpopular. In view of this news, and the further rumour that the French had retired on Piedmont and the Imperialists on Milan, I tried to persuade Henry and Wolsey to contribute to the emperor's army in Italy, but received the same qualified refusal as before.
In a private conversation with me recently Wolsey asked me not to take amiss any apparent bitterness in what he or Henry spoke of the emperor and the affairs of the alliance, but to believe that it proceeded from frankness and their desire to maintain their friendship and alliance with you and the emperor. He asked me to do my best toward the same end. I replied as graciously as I knew how, as you may see by the enclosed copy of my full report to the emperor (fn. 1).
Wolsey then spoke of the Domprevost, saying Dr. Knight had written that in his opinion the charges against him were ill founded, and that he was a loyal servant. He then spoke at length of M. de Hoogstraeten, who is as much in his good graces now as he was formerly in his bad, as you will see by the letter I am writing him. This seemed an opportune time to ask Wolsey to reply to your letter about the provost, which he promised to do. The cardinal shows signs of wanting to return to the good way and being willing to listen to reason, but in my opinion his friendly words are moved largely by his fear that now that the emperor has recovered Fuenterrabia he will make terms with the French, for I understand the spy from Paris reported that the hatred of King Francis and all the French for this cardinal and his king is unbelievably great, and Francis has sworn that while he lives he will never make peace with this king, but will try, instead, to make peace with the emperor, and afterwards serve Henry such a turn as shall be talked of forever. The spy also reported that at the French court King Francis' eldest daughter is called "Madame the Empress," and that King Francis swears he will manage to marry her to the emperor so as to break the English alliance.
On my return from Greenwich I received your letters of March 21st. Since I had not received those of March 2nd which you mentioned, I sent to Brian Tuke to ask whether he had heard anything about them, but he said he had not. If you really wrote me at this time, either your master of posts did not forward the letters, or this one has not delivered them. I beg you to make inquiries on your side and I shall make further inquiries here. I think I have already replied sufficiently to what you wrote about Naturelli. I shall communicate to Wolsey what you say about the safe-conduct for his wines, and about his suit at Malines, and inform you at once.
London, 29 March.
P.S.—Since writing the above I have heard that the king has had letters from Rome dated March 16th. They say that the French have retired across the Ticino, followed by our army, and that the duke of Milan has been obliged to pledge Cremona to the Venetians to get money for the troops. The pope, fearing that the emperor's army may break up for lack of money, has sent the bishop of Capua to France to arrange a peace or truce. After he has negotiated with the French, Capua will go or send to the emperor and to this king on the same mission. The armies are said to have arranged a forty day truce. I shall try to find out the truth of this news from Wolsey, tomorrow, although I think that the pope cannot have acted without the knowledge of the emperor's ambassadors at Rome, and Capua has shown himself very devoted to the emperor's service.
3 April.
Signed, Loys de Praet. French. pp. 4.
31 March.
H. H. u. St. A. England, f. 2.
Memorandum from Charles V to Louis De Praet.
The first point is that the king of England shall make ready an army to invade Picardy or elsewhere in France, by the beginning of June. If he prefers this to contributing to the army of Italy, we are willing to assist him with our ordinary gens d'armes and infantry in the Low Countries, so far as that can be done without leaving the frontiers unguarded, and with such artillery as we have there. We will also assist him to procure cavalry, German infantry, wagons, provisions and other necessaries at reasonable cost. For our part, we undertake to drive the French from Italy, and to send our army of Italy into France without expense to the king of England, and to do the enemy all the damage we can in that quarter in order to assist the English invasion.
The second point is, if the king of England prefers, he may attack Bayonne. This enterprise is considered to be easier than was the capture of Fuenterrabia, and by it all Guienne will fall into his hands. If he chooses this, we are willing to aid him at our expense with fourteen hundred men-at-arms, six hundred light cavalry, and three thousand infantry. We will lend him all the artillery and munitions necessary, provided he will furnish powder, wagons, and other things necessary to the artillery, and send the rest of the force necessary to assail Bayonne by land and sea. If he wishes to hire Spanish troops other than those ordinarily in our pay, which will serve him at our expense, we will see that he is able to do so at a reasonable price, and that he is able to have provisions and other necessaries for his money. For our part, we will drive the French out of Italy and invade France, as is said above.
The third point is, if the king does not wish to accept either of the above proposals, that he will furnish equally with us the expenses of an invasion of France by the duke of Bourbon.
Since, in adopting any of these alternatives, the king of England and we will both be put to considerable expense, we are willing that the "Great Enterprise" shall be delayed, or that the number of persons to take part in it shall be diminished, at the king of England's pleasure.
We have declared these three points to the English ambassadors here and given them in writing to Jerningham, from whom they may inform themselves.
Since this is a matter for the greatest haste, we authorize you, de Praet, to solicit that the king of England choose one of these means at once, and empower you to treat and conclude with him upon them. Inform us at once.
Burgos, 31 March.
Copy. French. pp. 3. Cf. Jerningham's copy calendared in L. & P. IV, 8.


  • 1. De Praet to Charles V. 26 March 1527.