Spain: May 1524

Pages 349-359

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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May 1524

20 May.
H. H. u. St. A. England, f. 2.
Charles V to Louis De Praet.
By Jehan Durant and the courier, Le Cont, we have received your letters of the 15th, 18th and 22nd of April, and we commend your diligent service. You replied very well to Wolsey's suggestion about your use of your powers to treat for peace or truce, and if he recurs to it, you will persevere in your efforts to persuade him that the negotiations should be held at Rome according to the proposals of the pope brought by the archbishop of Capua. You have done well in finding out the mission of the queen dowager's confessor without angering Wolsey unnecessarily, and we are grateful to you and to the pope's envoy. Continue to hold out to the cardinal, and the other pensioners, the hope that they will soon be paid, as we shall endeavour to arrange as soon as possible.
You have done well to send promptly to Madame to inquire what assistance she can offer. As to the other difficulties, which, you say, may arise in the negotiation with the English, we shall be satisfied if you agree with them for an English invasion of France some time during the month of June. Meanwhile we undertake that as soon as the French are driven from Italy, the duke of Bourbon will invade France with that part of the army of Italy which is in our service, and those allies who will accompany him, and with an army strong enough to give and await battle. This army will remain in France as long as the English army remains there. There is no likelihood that the Venetian and Florentine contingents will cross the Alps, nor would it be desirable, since some troops must be left to guard Milan while our army is in France, and the protection of that state would otherwise involve us in great expense, on account of the neighbourhood of the Swiss. As to the suspicions that you write of, continue to dissimulate them, and keep your eye open, but without showing distrust. As for the French men-at-arms Bourbon thinks he can draw to his service, it would indeed be a good thing if the English were willing to aid him in this with anything except words. Bourbon has written us that he intends to write to Henry asking for the remainder of the 100,000 crowns which is still at Besançon, to be used for this very purpose. Do anything you can to assist his request, and if Henry and Wolsey ask whether we have furnished all our hundred thousand crowns, you may tell them that the duke of Bourbon has been maintained entirely at our expense, and has cost us already much more than a hundred thousand crowns, and will cost us more still.
Since writing the above we have decided to send Courrières to England for the reasons which you will see in his instructions, according to which you will both act with your best diligence. Send news of your success by Richard Boulangier, who should be sent back with the zabra which brought him.
Burgos, 20 May, 1524.
Copy. French. pp. 3.
31 May.
H. H. u. St. A. England, f. l.
Louis De Praet to Charles V.
By the dispatch enclosed with this in a separate packet your majesty may see the state of affairs here and in Flanders up to the time it was written, April 28th. Since then, in three successive letters, Madame has informed me of the invasion of Artois by a great French army, and of the affairs of Gelderland and Utrecht, saying that on account of these troubles it was impossible for her to make any definite statement about the assistance she could give the English, and ordering me to appeal to Henry for help against these enemy attacks, in virtue of his treaty obligations. Copies of her letters are enclosed. As soon as I received the first of them, April 27th, I went at once to Wolsey, who displayed the greatest appearance of good will, and said that the king, his master, would never abandon the Netherlands, or let them be overrun by the French. He asked me to call on the king as soon as he returned from Greenwich, May 3rd, to hear his pleasure.
On that day, before I could present Madame's request, Wolsey assailed me in the presence of all the principal persons of the court and a number of councillors, with all his accustomed complaints, couched in the most bitter language. He said, in so many words, that we should have to give better order to our affairs and keep our promises better or renounce the English alliance, adding that what he said was his own opinion, and that of all the council there present. They all agreed with him, even Sir Richard Wingfield, who commenced a long story of the ill treatment of certain English merchants in the Netherlands while he was ambassador there, saying that all other foreigners were better used in Flanders than the English. Then the cardinal commanded Jerningham to relate the disorder there had been in your Spanish army, and the small love and obedience which your subjects bore you, and how you had said to him on his departure that some day you would take vengeance on them, and punish them according to their deserts. This Jerningham repeated in the presence of all the assembly, and ended by saying that he had found you a virtuous and well meaning prince, but one who was very badly served on all sides.
To these complaints I replied in the same terms I had used before, briefly and gently. I added that I did not wish to engage in any comparisons or recriminations, since that was not my charge, but I would inform your majesty of everything that had been said, and I had no doubt you would so justify your actions that no one could charge you with any bad faith, or any contravention of the treaties. He begged me to do so. Most of the points on which these lords based their complaints were easy enough to answer, if things are considered sanely and as they should be between friends and allies, but I did not wish to enter into explanations without your express orders, for it is hard to justify the delay in the payment of the indemnity, which is after all the principal point on which all their complaints are based, without making certain accusations against the king, and particularly against the cardinal, so that it is very hard to know how to answer. Failure to reply to their reproaches seems to them to imply an admission that we are in the wrong, and yet it is impossible to reply satisfactorily without arousing great bitterness. I should be glad to have your majesty's instructions.
When I repeated Madame's request for assistance, the cardinal asked me whether I was making the request in virtue of the treaty of Windsor or merely as a favour. If it was in the former manner, he said, it was inadequately based ; such a request should be made either by your majesty's letters patent, or by those of Madame, and even then the king was obliged to give no assistance unless some town was being besieged, as had not yet happened. But if I made this request as a favour and not as of right, he said, Henry would be glad to assist the Low Countries, as he and his predecessors had often done in the past, provided that Madame would grant him the assistance he asked for in case the English army invaded France. I replied that I based my request both on the treaties and on the good will which I hoped the king of England bore you and your lands and subjects, adding that I thought it adequately founded on the treaties, as he, who had drawn them, should know better than anyone else.
I was then called to the presence of the king, and delivered to him all my charge, both about the help asked by Madame, and about the three alternatives you offered for the execution of the war this year in your letters of the 26th March and the 11th April. He heard me as one who had already been informed of everything by the cardinal and by Jerningham, and replied in substance as follows. First, as to the help for Flanders, he gave me much the same answer as the cardinal had done, promising in addition to have troops ready, so that if the rumour of the invasion proved well founded, and the enemy did besiege some town, they could be sent at once. He did not say, however, how many troops he would have ready, or within what time, although I urged him so strongly to be more definite that Wolsey interrupted, and said I was wrong to be so insistent. I therefore desisted so as not to provoke ill feeling, which in my opinion it would be only too easy to arouse in the king, the cardinal, and all the council. I have informed Madame that she must rely on her own resources without expecting any help from here.
The king said he had not yet given the three alternatives proposed by your majesty all the thought required, and had not yet consulted with his council. Nevertheless, he was able to say that he found the first of the three alternatives the most reasonable. The second, an attack on Bayonne, did not seem to him feasible ; and the third, equal contribution to the support of the army of Italy, he said he would not entertain, for he had already done enough for the benefit of his friends, and it was time he thought of conquering some territory for himself. But he was willing to embrace the third alternative, and to invade France with a strong army, provided Bourbon defeated the French army in Italy, and Madame agreed to furnish appropriate assistance. After some further conversation, he said he recognized that this was the time to go forward boldly, and he asked me to write to Madame, saying that if she would furnish four thousand horse he would undertake to provide the rest of the infantry, cavalry and munitions to make up an army strong enough to give battle to the king of France in person with all his powers. I have written this to Madame, but as things are going in Flanders, I have little hope that she can meet these terms.
So far I have not been able to get any other replies than this from the English, although I have not ceased to try to persuade them, particularly after the capture of a castle within three leagues of Arras, of which Madame wrote on May 2nd. They persist in holding the same vague language, without stipulating what numbers of troops they will have ready, or at what time. This disturbs me greatly, and I am not less disturbed by the fact that they grow constantly colder toward your majesty's affairs, and by credible assurances which I have received that, so far, they have not moved a single man for the contemplated succour, and that any preparations they may make hereafter will be chiefly for the safety of Calais and Guines, for they are informed that the French intend to besiege Tournhem, and, if they take it, march against Guines. They will give me no decision about war for this year until they hear what Madame will do, and this, on account of the troubles with which she is now beset, she cannot definitely say.
About the other points in your majesty's letter of April 11th, the king replied to me just as the cardinal had done. In addition, he asked me to convey to you his advice that in providing for Italian affairs you ought not to neglect your other lands, which had come to you by inheritance, and had long been held by your ancestors. He seemed taken aback by the news that the grand chancellor was going to Italy. I think neither he nor Wolsey is very pleased. They think the chancellor, being thoroughly informed of your intentions, may conclude many things with the pope, and arrange for the continuance of the war, or perhaps for some peace negotiation, which will benefit your Italian affairs, but without much regard to English interests. I suppose this is why they have ordered Richard Pace to remain at Milan, so he may keep an eye on the chancellor, and at the same time send news of the Italian campaign, on the outcome of which any decision here will depend, as I have written you before. I wrote your majesty in former letters of the coming here of a French monk, sent by Louise of Savoy, and of the French rings and jewels given to the king, the queen [the duchess of Suffolk], and the cardinal. I have since learned that the French monk met Fusil at Dover, and crossed with him to Calais. They had considerable conversation, the substance of which Fusil is reporting to you by letter. The merchant who told me about the jewels has gone into the matter further since, and recently brought me a witness who affirmed on oath that he had seen the jewels in question in the hands of the English merchant I mentioned before, and heard him say just what I formerly wrote you, also that the jewels came from Louise of Savoy as presents. Since that time the English merchant, in conversation with one of my witnesses, said he had delivered the jewels and the cardinal had given him, as a reward, a licence to import three hundred tuns of French wine.
Your majesty may judge by what I have written, of the state of affairs here. These lords grow more and more bitter in their complaints, and seem to be looking for an excuse to break their alliance. I have already written your majesty the reasons which I think move them. In addition, they are very reluctant to undertake more expense, and I gravely doubt whether they will find their people inclined to continue the war, or even to pay the sums granted the king last year. In that case it will be very difficult for this king to continue the war. He can hardly dispense with his subjects' aid, since he has disbursed so much money in the past that I believe he has a great deal less now than people think. However this may be, your majesty ought, in my opinion, to ignore their reproaches and dissimulate with them for some time, so they will have no excuse for worse behaviour ; there is no doubt that King Francis would like nothing better than to be able to dissolve your alliance. So far they have no real excuse to break the alliance, and they will not wish to do so as long as your majesty does not violate your promise to marry the Princess Mary, or any of the other principal points of the treaty of Windsor. The indemnity, after all, is a matter of separate agreement. Therefore I think it would be well to dissimulate with them, and at the same time attempt to negotiate a good peace at Rome in which the English would be included, for all the people of this country, of all estates, are weary of the cost of this war, and even if they had the best will in the world for it, there is no likelihood that they could do anything of importance in France, for they do not understand the trade of war, and they will take no advice from others. What is worse, when they sustain any reverse by chance or by misconduct, they lay all the blame on your subjects, which is not the way to keep up a long friendship. They have so stuffed the people with the wrongs which you and Madame and your subjects have done them, that they all cry out against you worse than they used to do against the French. Your majesty will understand only too well the importance of this point.
Since your majesty will be anxious to know the cause of the delay here I am sending this courier at once.
London, 14 May, 1524.
In the last few days there has been a rumour here that the king was going to cross the sea in person. The cardinal himself said something of it, and it seemed worth while for me to go to Greenwich and find out about it before sending this courier. I went there on May 16th, and was told that if Bourbon defeated the French and was ready to invade France in a favourable season, and if Madame would supply four thousand horse, the king would himself command the English army. This is indeed good news, if their actions correspond to their words, but I think it unlikely that they will.
Since writing the above, the archbishop of Capua has come here. We have also heard from Italy of the flight of the French, and Beaurain's secretary, Chasteau has arrived. Madame has also written me her decision about the assistance she can give the English army. I have therefore detained this courier to inform you of the consequences of these happenings.
Capua reached here May 16th. In my conversations with him, and in the report he has made of your majesty, he has shown himself very well affected to your service. In conversation with me he could not praise your majesty's virtue and prudence enough, and he said he found you very well disposed toward peace. He told me that, on account of Wolsey's complaints, and on account of the way the English ambassadors often spoke to you, you had begun to believe that the English were seeking an excuse to break their alliance, and were inclining towards the French, with whom they might have some secret understanding ; but that because their alliance was necessary to you, and because you wished to show that you kept your word, you would listen to no proposals to negotiate with the French without the knowledge and consent of the king of England, and you intended to observe all the points of the treaty, particularly your engagement to marry the princess. He said you were determined to ignore the reproaches of the king and the cardinal, and to avoid any disputes with them. He gave me to understand that your majesty wished me to dissimulate my suspicions, and it seemed from his words that you doubted whether I was in their good graces, and had asked him to inquire into this point. He will report to your majesty when he returns to Spain.
Capua told me of his negotiations in France. He said he had found the queen regent far different from the current good opinions of her ; she asked him to find out whether it was possible to break off the match between your majesty and the Princess Mary, and suggested two other marriages, that of the dauphin and the princess, and that of your majesty to the eldest French princess. Capua asked her whether she thought your majesty would be satisfied with such an arrangement. She replied that she did not, and he then said that in that case it would not be fitting for him, as the pope's representative, and the negotiator of a peace, to meddle with matters which might result in greater wars than ever. Capua related all this in the presence of the cardinal, to test his good will, with which he says he is satisfied. The king, who was present, said wrathfully that while he lived his daughter would never marry the dauphin. Capua also reported Francis' opinion of the retreat of his troops from Italy. He blames the Swiss, and Capua thinks he will not soon renew his attempt on Milan, but will be content for some time to stand on the defensive. He pretends to think he will not be attacked, but he was anxious to discover Capua's opinion. Capua replied he thought his enemies would certainly not fail to attack him for three reasons : the army of Italy was commanded by Bourbon, who was eager to be revenged on him ; your majesty would be ill-advised to break up your army in Lombardy, and would certainly prefer to invade France with it rather than to keep a useless and expensive force in Italy ; and finally, you and Henry would be sure that he was only waiting an opportunity to be revenged on you, and would prefer to press your advantage, and to win a complete victory instead of giving him time to take breath. Francis only replied that he would give a hundred thousand crowns to be sure this was so, for he would then show both of you how strong he was in defending his kingdom. Capua related this conversation also to Henry and Wolsey, to encourage them to maintain their alliance with your majesty and to press the war forward. Capua told me Francis has spoken to him of the queen regent's confessor who was recently in England. Francis said the monk had been well received, but had brought back no good news, since he had been sent only to find out whether the English wished to make overtures for peace. This is substantially what Wolsey told me.
The archbishop, knowing the fickleness of these people, and fearing that their understanding with France, however slight it may be at present, might grow to a serious alliance, urgently solicited the king and the cardinal to send their powers and instructions to Rome as your majesty and King Francis had already done. He succeeded in persuading them to do so by using the following arguments. He said the pope hoped the king of England would send the necessary powers to Rome at once ; meanwhile, by mutual contribution, Bourbon's army should be equipped to invade France so as to bring the French to such terms as both your majesties desired. Your delegates at Rome might, during this time, prolong the negotiations until it appeared whether or not Bourbon was likely to win a great victory. If he seemed unlikely to do so, the pope would immediately declare a truce for fifty or seventy days, and then send at once to England, Spain and France to arrange for a prolongation of the truce until the end of next April, so that during this time a peace conference could be held, to which the pope would come in person, or send a legate to meet your majesties or your delegates, to conclude a general peace. The conference, he said, might be held in some convenient place such as Savoy. To attract Wolsey to this plan, the archbishop said it would probably be impossible for the principal sovereigns to be present in person, and the pope was of the opinion that your majesty might be represented by Madame, your aunt, Francis by Louise of Savoy, and Henry by Wolsey. In this case, he held out the hope that the pope would not come himself, but would delegate his authority to Wolsey, with whom he would associate another cardinal as his assistant, so that Wolsey would have the eternal honour of having arranged the peace. This proposal pleased Wolsey so much that he sent off the powers and instructions at once by a special courier. He has already begun to talk to me about it, and has given me an appointment within the next few days for a special interview in which he will explain his intentions at length so that I may inform you.
The archbishop thinks that in acting thus he has done your majesty some service. In the first place, he hopes to have interrupted the understanding between Wolsey and the French, since Wolsey cannot continue to negotiate with them without incurring the anger of the pope, in whose hands these matters have now been placed. This ought to be to your majesty's advantage, for the archbishop assures me that His Holiness is devoted to your interests, as you will see by his activities in the peace negotiations, during which he expects to conclude an agreement for a general contribution by all Christian princes to the defence of Christendom against the Turks. This should help Naples and Sicily. Moreover, he expects to be able to return to you, on the pretext of these negotiations, and inform you of his observations ; he will be with you by July 30th, before anything can be concluded at Rome. Meanwhile he has asked me to write you all this in cipher with the utmost secrecy. Capua left here on the 22nd for France, where he will remain only a day or two and will assure Francis he has found that your majesties are making great preparations for the war, in order to persuade him to be more compliant, particularly in the matter of the English indemnities and that of Bourbon, which he thinks are now the chief difficulties. From France he will go straight to Rome, visiting Bourbon and Lannoy on the way. He expects to be with the pope by June 8th with information about Bourbon's forces and his plans.
The archbishop has been attempting to persuade the English, on the pope's behalf, to contribute about eighty thousand ducats annually to help win the Swiss away from the French, which he thinks ought to be easy in view of their present discontent. The plan is for your majesty, the king of England, the Venetians, the duke of Milan, and the other Italian princes, to contribute at fixed rates, and according to the degree of each one's interest in the matter. He was unable to persuade the king and the cardinal, who merely said that the plan seemed to them a good one, but that they would not be bound to any contribution.
What I have reported above of Capua's activities has come to me almost entirely through the pope's representative here. I was not in Greenwich while Capua was discussing matters with Henry and Wolsey, and the archbishop thought that, in view of Wolsey's jealousy, it would be better for us to have no private communication. He instructed the envoy here to inform me of everything. He asked me with his own lips to write you that Wolsey did not seem so well disposed towards you as formerly, and to urge you to treat him gently, and make what profit you could out of his alliance, at the same time doing your best to make a peace. He emphasized that the principal foundation of your alliance with England was your engagement to marry the princess, and as long as you kept this, Wolsey would never be able to persuade Henry to break his alliance with you. He said if you wished to keep Wolsey's good will, you ought to pay what was owing him at once, and increase it if possible. I am entirely of the same opinion ; Wolsey is very dissatisfied because his pensions are more than a year in arrears, and he has had no satisfactory assurance about the money that should come to him from Palermo and Badajoz. It is very desirable that your majesty should pay him and the other lords here as soon as possible, otherwise you will hardly be able to make use of them in the war, for the people are very discontented with its long continuance and great expense.
I am sending copies of the letters from Bourbon and Beaurain, by which your majesty may learn the latest Italian news, and also copies of Madame's letters, setting forth what assistance she can give the English, and a copy of the reply I received. I have been obliged to agree with the English on Wolsey's terms, as your majesty can see from the enclosed copy, the original of which I have given to Chasteau for him to show to Madame on his way back to Bourbon ; he will then show it to Bourbon, Lannoy and Beaurain, and it will be sent to you from Genoa. I have ventured to agree with these terms to avoid a rupture of the whole negotiation, and I hope your majesty, considering the difficulties with which I have had to contend, will be satisfied. Henry and Wolsey were unwilling that anything about the delay of the "Great Enterprise" should be included in this document, saying that there was no need that so many people should know the decision on this point, and they would send powers to their ambassadors in Spain to conclude a special agreement concerning it. They say they have no mind to delay the "Great Enterprise" further, but simply to limit the force to be employed to twenty thousand infantry and five or six thousand horse. I have not pressed them to be more definite, since in what you wrote by Jerningham, you said that you would defer to Henry in this matter, and you have given me no definite instructions. It seems to me that you will find them reasonable on this point, and that they will be quite willing to have you decrease the number previously fixed for your Spanish army, provided you promise to furnish them Flemish cavalry, at your expense, for their army.
If your majesty pleases to have my advice on your affairs it would be as follows. You should seek to preserve the friendship of the king and the cardinal by the means mentioned above. You should by all means embrace the pope's proposal for some system of permanent contributions for the defence of Italy. It would be a very good thing if the Swiss could thus be withdrawn from their French alliance. Some extremely able person, like the grand chancellor, should be sent to take charge of the negotiations at Rome, for Capua informs me that the duke of Sessa, although a worthy man, has too little skill and experience for such high matters, and will be no match for the count of Carpi, who will be the principal French representative. You should at once send an adequate sum of money to support Bourbon's army, for after the present contributions of two hundred thousand crowns have been spent, should Henry by that time have invaded France, the whole cost of Bourbon's army will fall upon your majesty. You should also prepare for the "Great Enterprise" next year, according to what you may agree with the English ambassadors.
Four days ago I received your letter of May 20th and one from Lalemand of the 11th. What I have written above is sufficient reply. I told Wolsey what you had written of your dealings with Capua, and he was pleased, since the account agreed entirely with what Capua had told him. He said he would take everything under consideration, and write his opinion to Dr. Sampson.
The last time I saw the king and queen they both asked me to recommend to you the son of their physician, Dr. Fernando Vittoria, asking that this young man, who is the king's godchild, be given some benefice of middling value, which will enable him to go on with his education. I forward this request the more gladly because I have found this physician a worthy man and your very loyal servant. The king seems quite interested in the matter ; he has since told Wolsey to speak to me about it and written to Dr. Sampson on the subject.
May 31.
Signed, Loys de Praet. French. pp. 27.