Spain: May 1527, 11-20

Pages 186-204

Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 3 Part 2, 1527-1529. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1877.

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May 1527, 11-20

13 May. 68. The Emperor to Perez.
M. Re. Ac. d. Hist.
Salazar, A. 40,
f. 414.
B. M. Add. 28,576,
f. 196.
The King, &c—Your letter of the 19th March was duly received. We write by this post to the Viceroy telling him what he is to do, and have also sent to Mons. de Bourbon 100,000 ducats for the payment of the army under his command. Orders have likewise been sent to Genoa to have ten galleys fitted out on our account, with which and ten more which that Community is to hold in readiness, besides ten others now building at Barcelona, and those of Sicily, all of which will be soon ready to be employed in our service, We hope that the affairs of Italy will be settled as befits the service of God and our own, not the purpose and intention of our enemies, and of those who have always tried, and are still trying, to create disturbances.—Valladolid, 13th May 1527.
Indorsed: "From the King, 1527."
Addressed: "To Secretary Perez, 13th of May."
Spanish. Original minute, .. 1.
18 May.
K. u. k. Haus-
Hof-u. Staats Arch.
Wien. Rep. P. C.
Fasc. 224, No. 18.
69. Don Iñigo de Mendoça, Imperial Ambassador in England, to the Emperor.
[Duplicate of his ciphered letter of the 9th May, after which he adds:]
(Cipher:) As regards the defensive alliance, he (Mendoça) thinks it would he a proof of weakness and dependence on the English support to return to any discussion of the point, unless these people should start it first, especially as they evidently have no intention to advance in it until they have been reimbursed of their money. Indeed they seem to think that the best pledge for the payment of the Emperor's debts is to have the proposed confederacy and alliance postponed; the more so that this new treaty between the two Kings, as Mendoça has been informed, stipulates that they shall not negotiate without mutual consent, and moreover that when their ambassador (fn. n1) [in Spain] mentioned it in his note (memoria), it was on the supposition that he (the Emperor) would agree to the King of England's proposals.
Respecting the proposal of marriage between the daughter of the King of Danemark (Christian II.) and the bastard of England (Duke of Richmond), the Legate made no further advances (no me salió en ello). The reason, as he (Mendoça) suspects, is that this marriage [of the Duke of Richmond] has been put forward more with a view of freeing the Dauphin from his engagements than for any other purpose; although they tell him that the Princess of England (Mary) is. not to marry the Dauphin, but his brother the Duke of Orleans; and that it has been stipulated that the Duke shall be educated here [in England], and that the King [of France, his father] is to give him [on his marriage] certain territories and lands in his kingdom, which are to remain for ever in possession of the English. However this may be, and whichever of the two French Princes marries the Princess, it is evident that the King of England will consider himself bound, as father-in-law of the Prince, to procure his liberation and attend to his affairs, &c.
How far the above reports may be true Mendoça cannot say. All the ministers and ambassadors who have taken part in this new treaty—sworn to the other day with great pomp and solemnity—give out that there is more substance in it and a closer bond of friendship and alliance (amistad y deudo) than the Legate chooses to own; and yet he (Mendoça) believes that these reports are circulated for the purpose of intimidation, as they fancy here that by putting pressure (torcedor) on His Majesty he will the sooner accept their terms.
The galleons (fn. n2) mentioned in a former letter are waiting for two more from Normandy. All five together, well provided, as they are, with artillery and ammunition, may inflict great injury on the Emperor's subjects. This they have already begun to do, and though the King of England has to a certain extent redressed the harm done, thinks it would be safer for the future to arm against them in Flanders, as otherwise commerce might suffer greatly unless peace was definitively settled.
After writing the above, the courier and the gentleman now going to Spain having also started, lie (Mendoça) had an audience of the King, who said to him that this embassy he was now sending ought not to be an obstacle to his declaring the commission he had from the Emperor. (Common writing:) Replied that he had full and ample instructions, as he had told the Legate last week, to bring the negotiations to a, close, but that he could proceed no further until the French powers were amended. It was at last agreed that whilst fresh powers were being obtained from France, he (Mendoça) should send for the lawyer from Flanders, whose arrival had so long been promised, and that, once here (in London), the lawyer could examine the ambassador's new powers, and see whether they were correct or not.
(Cipher:) Has written again to Madame, but does not think she will send him until she receives orders from Spain, when perhaps it will be too late for him (the lawyer) to do any good.
One of the reasons of his having sought this audience of the King was to try and obtain some information about this new embassy to Spain; but could learn little except that he (the King) had sent such conditions [to Spain] as he did not doubt would be accepted by the Emperor. Replied that the Emperor had such confidence in him (the King) that he never doubted that any offer coming from him would be in conformity with his ancient friendship and alliance; and on his asking whether the gentleman (Poyntz) would be detained any time in France, the King said, perhaps unawares, (fn. n3) that until a safe-conduct had been granted for the French bishop [of Tarbes] and for the Englishman they would not cross over to Spain. Expressed great astonishment that he should seek a safe-conduct for one of his own subjects, for that it was treating the Emperor with great injustice to suppose that one was needed by an English ambassador going to any part of his dominions. The Frenchman would be immediately supplied with a safe-conduct, but Master Poyntz required none. He (Mendoça) begged the King to withdraw his application, as otherwise the Emperor might take offence. The King replied that a gentleman of his chamber (fn. n4) had lately been taken prisoner in Italy. Interrupted him by saying that he was quite sure the Emperor knew nothing about it, and that when he did, whoever had committed such an act should be severely punished, though he (the Emperor) could not always be answerable for his soldiers' doings. (fn. n5)
Spoke again to the King respecting the terms of peace lately sent to Spain. Could not learn anything definite, but gathered from the general tenour of the King's words that they are not much more favourable than those which have been already offered; therefore did all in his power to urge upon and convince the King how much more desirable it was for him that this peace should be settled in favour of the Emperor than in favour of the King of France. The King took no notice of this remark, but replied very angrily (como hombre que tiene el pecho lleno de malos humores) that he must at once have an answer, yes or no, either treaty or rupture. Replied, by way of gaining time, and under the impression that a little delay might be beneficial, that the Emperor had at the King's own request referred the negotiations to England, and that, having commenced here, he thought they ought to continue where they had begun, he (the Emperor) being not only most anxious for peace, but also that it should be settled by the King's mediation. The King did not seem altogether dissatisfied with this answer, though he gave no signs of approval. (fn. n6) He (Mendoça) has reason to believe that, rather than have his conditions refused, the King would prefer this other expedient, as most likely the terms now proposed are not such as the Emperor can accept. Thought that if things could be kept as they are for a while, some advantage might be gained, that being his only reason for answering the King as he did. Must, however, observe that the amount of time thus gained is indeed very small; but still, should the Emperor decide not to accept the conditions, thinks this answer of his was wiser than one which would have once made the King of England join his enemies. A delay of from twenty to thirty days has therefore been obtained, at the end of which they are sure to come to a rupture, both with him here (in England), and with the Emperor in Spain.
The city merchants who, as above said, had been to consult the Legate respecting the lading for the fair at Vergas (Bergues), now close at hand, have been to him again, as the time for sending their goods thither is passing away. They were told not to suppose that the King intended to make war either against Flanders or against the Emperor, but, nevertheless, were forbidden to lade for any foreign port whatsoever till receiving his answer, which should be finally given at the end of one month. The following day the Legate sent orders to the head of the harbour department (oficial de las aguas) to arrest all ships (fn. n7) whatsoever, English or foreign (not especially naming Flemish or Spanish ships), that should be taking merchandise to any foreign port whatsoever. Great consternation (alteration) at this order prevails throughout the kingdom. Believes if the fear of very severe examples made in past times did not act as a restraint for the future, the general feeling would be to have the present government overthrown. It is also feared that, should this prohibition not be removed, the English merchants, having no market for their cloths (paños), will be obliged to dismiss their workmen, and that these latter, when pressed by hunger, will become disorderly and troublesome. The Cardinal gave these said merchants to understand that he should soon be able to point out to them a place, where with much less cost and trouble to themselves, and much greater profit to the kingdom, they could carry on their trade. Some think he means Montreuil, others Calais; but at present the English seem to think that rather than take their goods to France they will go without any market at all for them. Hears from (the merchants) that the French have persuaded the Legate that, if peace be concluded, the Flemings, rather than lose their trade altogether, will meet the English in the Montreuil markets, if they cannot do so elsewhere; whereas, if there should be war, they assert that through the alliance of the Kings of England and France all intercourse of trade between the Emperor's subjects and the English would naturally cease. These calculations might turn out wrong, for in either case the Flemings will conform to the Emperor's orders. Has also heard that the Duke of Suffolk and the Admiral [of England] have lately purchased some armour (harneses); finds, however, on inquiry that the quantity is so small that no suspicion of approaching warfare can from that cause reasonably be entertained, unless what he (Mendoça) has advised in his letter of the 9th be taken as a sign of it.
The pasquinades which these English have nightly circulated throughout this city have been so hostile to the King, and especially to the Legate, that there was a general rumour that the King intended to relieve the Legate of his share in the administration, taking from him either the foreign or the home affairs, and leaving him only one department. (fn. n8) Thinks there is some truth in this, for lately the Legate, on plea of indisposition, absented himself from court for some days, and the King went to visit him in his own house, since which every mouth has been stopped.
Respecting the warlike demonstrations lately made here with so much publicity, different opinions prevail. One party in the kingdom, believing what they most fear, and knowing the Legate to be entirely French in his sympathies, consider war as inevitable (tiene por cierto que la fuerça está entre las manos). The other party, perceiving that the King and Legate have been trying all through last winter to discover some inclination to war amongst the nobles, and have never found it; that this King let slip the most favourable opportunity for it, which was when the League stood firm, cannot think that, now that the Emperor has from forty to fifty thousand men in Italy only, and ample funds to raise fresh troops if required, the King can seriously entertain the idea of a war, which would be so unpopular, and at the same time so ruinous to the trade of his kingdom. Those who think so maintain that these warlike preparations—if the little that Mendoça has observed and reported of them can be taken for a sign of approaching rupture—are only made with a view to serve the interests of France, and see whether by this means the cause of the King can be advanced. In conformity with this view is the answer given by the Archbishop of Canterbury (Warham), the Legate's rival, and a person of great weight in the kingdom, to a friend of his who asked his opinion of these proceedings. "Let the King and Legate take their course (the Archbishop said); war with Flanders is much further off than people imagine."
Has minutely stated the various rumours and opinions now current in England, not indeed for the Emperor to act upon them, for after all they are but opinions, but in order that being duly acquainted with the whole, and comparing the information with the terms now proposed in Spain, he may be able to form a clear judgment and decide upon the wisest course to pursue. Can bear testimony that the words of the King and Legate are, generally speaking, very unsatisfactory, but whether this is real or assumed it would be hazardous for him to affirm. Has, therefore, written of all that is passing now; and as regards the future, quoted only the various opinions of this court, among which the most prevalent is that there will be war, and that if help is not sent from this country [to France] in men, it will be in money. It is thought that the same king-at-arms (Clarencieux), who in past years was sent to declare war against the King of France, has gone now to perform the same office in Spain. This will soon be made manifest. The King and Legate declare that peace or war depends entirely on the answer given by the Emperor. Possibly they may have another thing in mind. (fn. n9) Continues to dissemble with them, affecting perfect confidence until he receives further instructions.
By his letter of the 25th of April be (Mendoça) advised the Emperor of what had occurred up to that date, and among other things mentioned having received a letter from the Count of Hoochstrate, to say that he was despatching a messenger to Spain. This induced him (Mendoça) to forward by that route (that by sea from Zealand) his said despatch of the 25th. Trusts that it has reached the Emperor's hands. Amongst other remarks contained in the said letter, Mendoça stated his opinion that in the event of this King declaring for France, as it is feared he will do, it would not be ill advised if a marriage alliance should be proposed between the King of Scotland (James) and the [widow] Queen of Hungary, (fn. n10) for though the Scotch have a strong natural leaning to the French, yet seeing the English fall off from their ancient alliance, it would not be very strange if they did the same. Besides, as it is the opinion of all wise (cuerdos) people in this kingdom that this marriage [with the King of Scotland] is the one that the King really intends for his daughter [Mary], and that all other proposals are simply entertained as a means of bridging over the time till the right moment comes, were the King to see that the Emperor was seeking an alliance in the same quarter, he would be compelled, in view of this greater danger, to abstain from the treaty with France, and ultimately declare for him. For indeed with the Scottish marriage this King gains that kingdom and his own, whereas without it he loses them both. (fn. n11)
Has tried to ascertain the name of those who opposed the Legate in this late declaration of the King's. Has been assured that his greatest enemies are those who are now supporting him in this matter, hoping thereby to bring him to destruction, knowing, as they do, that the indignation of the whole country is roused against him, and that if he should carry out his warlike plans, of which he has lately given so many indications, there will be an outbreak and rebellion when men and money come to be raised for the purpose. Therefore, these pretended friends of the Legate are urging him on as much as they can, for they would not be satisfied with turning him out of office, but seek his entire ruin; and so, though unwillingly, they conceal their hatred of him, and favour his politics. Those who, but for the Legate, would be entirely on the King's side are the Duke of Norfolk and, among ecclesiastics, the Bishop of London [Tunstall]. The Archbishop of Canterbury (Warham) never comes to court unless compelled, on account of the Legate. To the two former (the Duke of Norfolk and the Bishop of London), who reside here, it would be advisable to offer a good pension, because they are reported to be both favourably disposed towards the Emperor, and secretly hostile to the Legate; although things are so far advanced, and the issue is so imminent, that from the result of this English and French embassy [to Spain] the Emperor will be able to judge best what is to be done here.
Has offered the pension to Brian Tuke, who accepted it with a very good grace and many expressions of his sense of the favour done him. He has promised to do all in his power to preserve the ancient friendship between the Emperor and his master, provided it should not involve a breach of trust (contra su oficio), but as he is one of the Legate's creatures he (Mendoça) does not think much of his promises.
Common report says that the Cardinal is soon going to France with a large embassy; also that he having petitioned to be relieved of some of his many offices, the King intends to make the Bishop of London (Tunstall) chancellor. These are mere reports, more or less worthy of credit, as the case may be. Can only say positively that the Legate is greatly afraid of an outbreak against him, and this leads to his giving the most inconsistent orders (anda desatinado); at times threatening war, and causing all ships suspected of lading for Flanders or Spain to be seized, and the next day, from fear of the people's indignation, revoking those orders. The last one is that the English are not to lade for the fair of Vergas (Bergues) until receiving the Legate's answer, which he is to give at the end of thirty days, within which time he expects the Emperor's definitive answer, and, according as that may be, will decide for peace or war. Repeats what he has said above, namely, that the general opinion of this court is that, it will be extremely difficult to carry out war, the English in general being unwilling to commit hostile acts against the Emperor or his dominions. Has no doubt, however, that the Legate, were he able to do so, would push war to the uttermost. Suspects that if the terms now offered by the ambassadors be not accepted, the first thing will be his (Mendoça's) dismissal from this court, and the taking up of arms here. It would be well if the Emperor should advise him of his decision before announcing it there (in Spain), that he (Mendoça) may give Madame warning to attend to the defence of Flanders.
Hears on reliable authority that the Legate, as the finishing stroke to all his iniquities, (fn. n12) has been scheming to bring about the Queen's divorce. She is so full of apprehension on this account that she has not ventured to speak with him (Mendoça). It is added that the King is so bent on this divorce that he has secretly assembled certain bishops and lawyers that they may sign a declaration to the effect that his marriage with the Queen is null and void on account of her having been his brother's wife. It is therefore to be feared that either the Pope will be induced by some false statement to side against the Queen, or that the Cardinal, in virtue of his legatine powers, may take some step fatal to the said marriage. He (Mendoça) is perfectly aware, though the Queen herself has not ventured and does not venture to speak to him on the subject, that all her hope rests, after God on the Emperor. Is convinced that the principal cause of all that she is made to suffer is that she identifies herself entirely with the Emperor's interests. The cause is in itself so just that, independently even of the near relationship existing, the Emperor might well espouse it. It would be very advisable if, with all possible secrecy, the Pope were to be put on his guard in case any application should be made to Rome against this marriage; also that His Holiness should tie the Legate's hands, and by having the cause referred entirely to himself, should prevent him from taking part in it, or appointing judges in this kingdom. Cannot learn what answer these bishops and lawyers have given the King on the subject of the divorce; and therefore thinks it advisable that, before the result of these consultations and meetings becomes public, the Emperor should secretly inform his ambassador at Rome of the whole affair, that he may be on his guard. Believes that if the affair should be proceeded with, it will soon be made public. Should the King see that he cannot succeed, he will not run the risk of any of the preliminary steps being known; but should he insist on pursuing the course he has begun, some great popular disturbance must ensue, for the Queen is much beloved in this kingdom, and the people are also greatly excited at the rumours of war. The Queen desires perfect secrecy to be kept in this matter, at least for the present, so much so that the above wish of hers has been communicated by a third person, who pretended not to come from her, though he (Mendoça) suspects that he came with her consent.
(Common writing:) Wrote by the English ambassador's servant, who went [to Spain] by post. The letter was under cover to Dr. Lee for greater security. Wrote afterwards two more letters by Maistre Poyntz, one addressed to the said Doctor [Lee], and the other to the Secretary, Maistre Jean Lallemand. This courier would have started before had not Madame detained him in Flanders. (fn. n13) May he meet with fair winds at sea, that the Emperor may know the exact position of affairs here before replying to the ambassadors. Though the greater part of this present letter is only duplicate (fn. n14) of the other sent by land, yet it should be entirely deciphered, as many things have been added since.—London, the 18th of May 1527.
Signed: "Don Iñygo de Mendoça."
Indorsed: "To His Sacred, Imperial, and Catholic Majesty the Emperor and King, our Lord."
Spanish. Original mostly in cipher. pp. 19.
18 May.
S. E. L. 847,
f. 180.
M. Add. 28,576,
f. 224,
70. Francisco de Salazar to the High Chancellor Mercurino di Gattinara.
Wrote on the 1st inst., enclosing the Papal brief si in evidente, and other deeds (escrituras) no longer wanted at Rome; also advising the death of Dr. Juan Fernandez and other occurrences, as may be seen by his said letter, of which a duplicate is enclosed. Since then, most wonderful events have taken place, which he considers himself bound to narrate in their minutest details for the Chancellor's information.
On Saturday, the 4th inst., the Imperial army, which seemed to have taken the road to Florence, appeared suddenly in the campagna of Rome. A few horsemen sent out to reconnoitre surprised some of our light cavalry who were in the vanguard, and brought in some eight or ten prisoners, at which the Romans were greatly rejoiced.
The Imperial army, however, went on advancing with such fury that, though they had no artillery with them, on Monday, the 6th, part of the Spaniards escaladed the walls and entered the city at the strongest point, between the Belvedere and the gate of Saint Pancras. The Borgho was soon gained, and whilst the Pope was flying to the castle, close to the city walls, the Spaniards fired their hackbuts at him, and at those of his suite. So narrow was the Pope's escape that had he tarried for three "creeds" more (por espacio de en quanto se dixeron tres credos) he would have been taken prisoner within his own palace. For one hour after this time the Spaniards went on slaying every man they came across in the Borgho, except a few who were fortunate enough to fly to the castle. Between six and eight thousand men were thus slaughtered on the occasion, whilst the Imperialists lost only about 100, most of them by cannon shots [from the walls]. A most wonderful feat of arms indeed, and one well worthy of record, that a handful of men should have stormed a city like Rome, with such stout and lofty walls, defended by artillery! Such was, however, the cruelty of the soldiers after victory, that their achievement can no longer be ascribed to a miracle, unless it be that God permitted such a destruction as a punishment for the sins of these people (the Romans); for, as I said before, and will repeat hereafter, no person of whatever nationality, profession, rank, or condition was spared or respected on the occasion.
On the said Monday, before the Spaniards stormed the city, Mons. de Bourbon, perceiving what small notice had been taken of his presence by the Pope and by the Romans, sent a trumpeter requesting that some person or persons should be sent to his camp in order to treat for the peaceable entrance of his troops into Rome, as he wished to spare the city the misery of a sack: but Signor Renzo da Ceri Vrsyno (sic), whom the Pope had appointed captain-general of all his forces, dismissed the trumpeter with very angry words (palabras descompuestas), at which Mons. de Bourbon grew exceedingly indignant, and decided to storm the place. The more to encourage his men to the assault, he placed himself at their head, but was soon slain by a hackbut shot from the walls. This was, no doubt, the cause of three fourths of the barbarities and cruelties committed by our men on this occasion; because, even if Rome had been given up to the Germans and Spaniards to sack, this could fairly have been accomplished in one day, whereas the plundering lasted nine or ten, during which the atrocities perpetrated by our soldiers have been unexampled, people of all nationalities being indiscriminately put to the sword or subjected to the most atrocious tortures to make them confess where their money and valuables, if they had any, were concealed.
After the taking of the Borgho, and the slaughter of its defenders and inhabitants, as related, the Prince of Orange (Philibert de Chalon) and other Imperial captains sent in another trumpeter with an officer, requesting that some one should come from Rome to treat about the men being paid their arrears and quartered within the city, as otherwise they could not be responsible for the excesses that might be committed by the troops. This second message was received by Renzo da Ceri as insolently as the former; he told the officer to go away, and not to return [to Rome], as otherwise he would have him hanged, both him and the trumpeter ; and though the Romans themselves, foreseeing what would happen, proposed sending ambassadors to Mons. de Bourbon, neither the Pope nor Renzo da Ceri would ever allow it. Upon which the Imperial soldiers, seeing their offers rejected, took Rome by storm, as before stated, and sacked the city for nine or ten consecutive days, committing such atrocities that the pen actually refuses to write them down, and that there is no memory capable of recording them, for whoever has been able to save his life, among the Spaniards, Germans, and Italians here residing, considers himself lucky to have escaped such a catastrophe, and cares little to inquire into the fate and others. If any two houses have fared well, it is his (Salazar's) and that of Secretary Perez. He (Salazar) had taken Perez in when the Duke of Sessa left Rome, but some time before the entrance of the Imperialists in Rome Perez had removed to the embassy. He has to pay 2,400 ducats for his and Salazar's ransom, but their lives have been spared, and they have not been put to the torture as many others, and therefore have to thank God most gratefully. Some Spaniards who took refuge in the embassy are now contributing towards the payment of the aforesaid ransom, but still Perez's share will be at least 600, which he is now trying to procure on bills, as he has no money and is very poor.
The cardinals who were at-Rome, after having had once to pay ransom (tallado) for their persons and property, have been plundered a second time and taken to prison most ignominiously through the streets of this capital, on foot, with their heads uncovered, and led by the soldiers as so many criminals. (fn. n15) I can assure your Lordship that when I saw the Holy Cardinal of Sena (Sienna) between some 10 lansquenets, being dragged through the streets of this capital, on foot, without girdle (cinta), and with a tabard or short jacket (ropilla) on, I nearly sank to the ground, for all this was done after the said lansquenets had actually rifled his house and those of other rich people of all their contents. The houses of this and other cardinals having been made the refuge of many rich Romans, who fled thither with their jewels and valuables, their owners were of course subjected to worse treatment. Your Lordship cannot well conceive the treasures amassed by the soldiers on this occasion, since besides plundering all money and valuables in each house, and subjecting its dwellers, whether men, women, or children, to the payment of heavy ransoms according to their rank, quality, or wealth, many were tortured, and some even slain with unheard-of cruelty.
The Portuguese ambassador [D. Martin de Portugal] occupied one of the strongest and best built palaces in Rome, owing to which circumstance, and to his being so generally respected, many people flocked thither with their money, jewels, and other valuables. Every one within the precincts of his palace has been compelled to pay a ransom, which is said to amount in the aggregate to upwards of one million of gold. The ambassador himself was left without coat (sayo) or shirt, and only with his breeches and jacket on. In short, no one has been respected, whether Spaniard or Imperialist; all have been treated as enemies, and Rome will not recover from this blow for 500 years to come. The cries of the women and children, as they were conducted through the streets to prison, were really heartrending; and so many were the dead bodies that in some places they actually obstructed the way, and as they have not yet been removed and buried, the stench is so intolerable that plague is sure to ensue.
Neither have monasteries and other religious houses been spared; all have been plundered, and in many instances friars, monks, and nuns, and all kinds of ecclesiastics put to death or tortured that they might declare what money or jewels they had concealed. To see the poor nuns being led to prison between soldiers, crying and raising their hands to Heaven, would have been enough to melt a heart of iron.
The church of St. Peter was completely sacked, the silver shrines and caskets containing the relics of saints taken away, and the relics themselves strewed on the floors. Many dead bodies lay about, so much disfigured that it was impossible to recognize them ; and in the chapel itself, close to the altar of St. Peter, were great pools of blood, dead horses, &c.
The Papal Palace completely gutted, and in many places burnt; its beautiful rooms turned into stables (estalas) owing to the great number of horsemen now quartered in it.
Many are the houses at Rome that have been consumed by fire, some owing to their owners having deserted them, others from various causes. Churches, in general, after being plundered of their ornaments and silver vessels (custodias), have been desecrated. In some of them the Host could never be found. In short, the atrocities committed surpass all bounds and cannot be described. (fn. n16) It seems all like a dream. Some people through fear have stated what money, jewels, and clothes are hidden in the country [out of Home]: graves have been opened in search of hidden treasures, so that no one can now visit a church or go about Rome, such is the stench of the dead. Mass is nowhere said; not a bell or clock has sounded since the Imperialists entered Rome, and indeed no one heeds such things, in the midst of such a dire calamity and persecution as that which has befallen this city. (fn. n17)
The amount of money, jewels, and other property taken by the soldiers is estimated by some at 15 millions of gold, though others make it amount to 20. In fact it is almost incalculable, for at the palace of the Portuguese ambassador alone the plunder taken, and the money received as ransom, are known to amount to one million. The houses of Cardinals Vala (Valle), Sena (Sienna), Cesarino, Tortosa, and Jacohatiis, and of the Marquesana of Mantua, have been rated at 150,000 each; many there are at 10, 20, and 30 thousand, and others almost innumerable at no less than 2,000 each, whilst those of the common people and artisans (las del pueblo y oficiales) have all been taxed at 1,000.
Many cardinals, some of them wounded or otherwise illtreated by the soldiery, are inside the castle with the Pope; also a number of rich courtiers and merchants who fled thither for refuge with all their gold and jewels. Negotiations have been set on foot, and are already very far advanced, for the surrender of Sanct Angelo, and the delivery of the Pope on the payment of a heavy ransom. Indeed an agreement would already have been signed, had it not been for the lansquenets, who demand eight or ten months' pay immediately, or else that the castle should be delivered to them to be sacked. Such are the conditions which they (the lansquenets) impose. The Pope is willing to give them two months' pay now, another one in 10 days, and the remainder in 30 days' time, but the Germans are not contented with this, and want 500,000 ducats at once, and also that the Pope's own person and that of his cardinals should remain at the disposal of the Emperor. They demand also that this castle and all others in the lands of the Church should be surrendered to them, and are actually making preparations to attack Sanct Angelo, opening trenches all round it, and keeping good guard, so that it may not be succoured from the outside. It is said that no less than 3,000 have taken refuge in it, and as most of them are useless people, unable to fight, it cannot hold out many days.
The Pope tried to maintain the courage of his Romans by telling them that the armies of the League were close upon us, and that victory was at hand. But everything has ended in smoke; for although some of the confederates are not far from Rome, it is to be presumed that the moment they hear of its having been taken, each man will run home to defend his native country as best he can.
The Cardinals of Sienna (Petrucci), La Minerva (Vio Caietano), and Araceli (Numali) were ignominiously treated, and taken to prison through the streets, after having their palaces plundered in such a way that they had scarcely a shirt left to put on. Those who could, fled for refuge to the palace of Cardinal Colonna, who came to Rome with his brothers, Vespasiano and Ascanio, five or six days after the sack. Had they come before, Rome would never have been sacked, for the people supported by them might have sent a message of peace to Mons. de Bourbon, and everything would have been settled. They say that the Council of Naples refused the Colonnese permission to come to Rome as they wished to do, owing to the truce existing between the Pope and the Viceroy, which truce has been, after all, the cause of all this evil, as Mons. de Bourbon was not informed of it in time.
No certain news of the Viceroy. Some say he is still at Sena (Sienna). If he comes to Rome he is not likely to be well received [by this army], with whom he is not in favour; and yet a commander-in-chief is more wanted than ever, because without a bead the indomitable spirit of the men, and especially of the lansquenets, cannot be easily subdued.
Don Ugo de Moncada is soon expected from Naples, May he bring some remedy to our present sufferings, for although this must be said [of him and of the rest of the Imperial generals], that they have made the Emperor absolute master of Italy, as we all wished him to be, yet the thing might have been accomplished without so much cruelty and shedding of blood.
All the Spaniards here are desirous of going to Naples, and will do so as soon as the roads are open and they can travel with safety, for at present there is no journeying except with an escort of 100 horsemen or so, such are the depredations of the country people. I say more; I believe that most, if not all, will go back to Spain, for there will be no business done at Rome for a long time, and the city itself is so destroyed and ruined that, until 200 years hence, it will not be Rome again. I myself intend soon taking that route, and going to Spain by way of Naples. There is nothing to be done at Rome just now. Should Johannes de Averasturi remain, I will leave in his hands the title-deeds and bulls, though I see not much use for it, as the notarial register books and those of the Apostolic Chamber have all been burnt.
We are all waiting to see how this affair of the castle will end, because if it surrenders unconditionally, it is believed that the Pope will be taken prisoner to Naples or to Spain. My future plans will be based upon that.
Friday evening, the 3rd instant, and only three days before the Imperialists took Rome, the Pope created three new cardinals, from whom he received, as it is said, 200,000 ducats towards the expenses of this war. Of what little use has this money been to him! The cardinals are the Archbishop of Cremona, a nephew of Cardinal Ancona, and the Bishop of Perosa (Perugia), nephew of the late Cardinal of San Giorgio, besides a Florentine, the Bishop [of] Gadi.
Since writing the above I hear that the Pope has made the following agreement:—Himself and all the cardinals who are with him to surrender to the Emperor and depart for Naples or for Gaeta, as at the former place many are dying of the plague. They are to remain there until His Imperial Majesty decides otherwise. All other persons inside the castle, and the cardinals who are at Rome, to be set free and allowed to go wherever they please. The Pope to give 400,000 for the pay of the Imperial forces; 100,000 down, 50,000 in 12 or 15 days, and the remainder at specified dates. On these conditions the money, jewels, clothes, and other valuables inside the castle will be redeemed. The Pope to give besides, as security for the payment, Civitta Vecchia, Ostia, and Porto, three seaports in the estate of the Church; also Parma, Piacenza, and Modena. He likewise engages to restore to Cardinal Colonna and his family and adherents all the property confiscated from them. Such are in substance the articles of the agreement.
Musiur de la Mota (La Mothe), lieutenant of the late Mons. de Bourbon, has been appointed governor of Rome. AH other offices will be conferred upon suitable persons.
It is rumoured that, this being done, the Imperial army is to go to Florence. If so, I will take that route myself with many other courtiers, and embark at Genoa for Spain.—Rome, 18th May 1527.
Signed: "Francisco de Salazar."
Spanish. Holograph, pp. 9.
18 May. 71. Secretary Perez to the Emperor.
M. Re. Ac. d. Hist.
Salazar, A. 40,
f. 442
B. M. Add. 28,576,
f. 204.
Wrote on the 26th, 29th, and 30th of April, and 3rd inst. (fn. n18) by Bernaldino de Alarcon, and by the general [of the Franciscans], and again on the 3rd. Three days after, on the 6th, the Imperial army arrived before this city, and accomplished what His Majesty must already have learnt by the letters of Najera, Gattinara, (fn. n19) the Regent, and others, which is that the Imperialists took possession of Rome and of the Borgho, and besieged the castle of St. Angelo, wherein the Pope and certain cardinals are now shut up. As the said Najera and Gattinara must have informed the Emperor more fully than he (Perez) can do of all the circumstances of the case, he will not further allude to it. Both were eye-witnesses; he (Perez) was not, for the sack of the city was so suddenly conceived, and so wantonly executed, that even the Emperor's servants had enough to do to save their own lives and property. He (Perez) was fortunate to save both, by giving 2,000 ducats to two Spanish soldiers, who undertook to guard his house, wherein upwards of 200 persons of all ranks took refuge, thinking they might escape thereby from paying ransom. Begs for the settlement of his arrears of salary, as likewise for some indemnity for his losses, as the money he had to hand over to his guards was borrowed from his friends. Wishes also to know how he is now to dispose of himself, whether he is to remain at Rome, or go elsewhere.
Of the negotiations now going on with the Pope, Perez can only say what he hears. The Abbot [of Najera] and the Regent [Gattinara] will, no doubt, write fully about them, for it is they who go backwards and forwards to the Pope In one of his visits to Sanct Angelo, Gattinara was wounded by a hackbut shot, but the wound fortunately is not dangerous. Cardinal Vespasiano Colonna and his brother, Ascanio, arrived on the 10th. Had they come one day before the Imperialists all this violence and spilling of blood might have been spared, because the Romans would certainly have done what the Colonnese wanted, and been encouraged to resist the orders of the Pope, which they had not before dared to do; for if any contradiction was offered, the citizens were forthwith arrested and taken to Sant Angelo. This fear of the citizens was the sole cause of Rome being sacked by the Imperial soldiers, which was done with as much cruelty and wantonness as if it had been plundered by Turks, for neither the churches nor the monasteries were spared, the soldiers taking away the silver ornaments, the relics of the saints, and the very consecrated vessels (custodias) containing the host. Many houses of cardinals and other rich men were plundered twice and even three times, and their inmates imprisoned besides. Cardinals Sienna (Petrucci?), Minerva (Vio Cajetano), and Ara Cœli (Numali) were thus arrested, and had not La Valla (Andrea), Cesarino (Alessandro), Inchefort (Enckenwöert), and Jacobacis (Domenico) taken refuge at the palace of the Colonna, they would have met with the same fate. Ultimately all the cardinals above mentioned, except the two friars, (fn. n20) met together at the Colonna's, where innumerable people of all ranks fled also for refuge. So great was the press, that although the palace is very spacious, it could not contain them all. As it is, it must be owned that the arrival at Rome of Cardinal Colonna and his relatives (deudos) has been a godsend under present circumstances. Had he come before, much blood and violence might have been spared, for His Majesty must know for certain that nobody escaped either death or imprisonment, unless he paid on the spot the exorbitant ransom demanded by the soldiers, for the payment of which the Cardinal [Colonna] has enough to do if he is to stand security.
All the Imperialists and those who wish for His Majesty's prosperity are delighted to see him master of Rome, and of the rest (. el resto), but would have preferred that this had been achieved without so much destruction of property and life, for it is really frightful to see the survivors irretrievably ruined for ever. The soldiers were not satisfied with gutting the houses, they imprisoned the inmates, and imposed heavy ransoms (tallas) upon them. Those who could not pay were immediately dragged to prison, where they were put to the most cruel and strange forms of torture to make them declare what money they had, and where it was hid. In this way the soldiers were enabled to discover whatever money there was in the city. Gives so many details because it is just that the Emperor should be informed of the atrocities committed by his soldiers, and that he should write to these cardinals, friends to the Empire, now congregated in the Colonna Palace, offering them some sort of consolation for their troubles. He (Perez) can positively assert that all are very ill-contented, not only on account of their losses, which have been very great, but because they are really ashamed (corridos) of having been treated as His Majesty's enemies when they are really his friends. Such is the case also with the Portuguese ambassador, who was taken in his shirt sleeves (en calcas y jubon), and led to prison through the Borgho, though he has since returned.
Mons. de la Mothe has been appointed governor of Rome, and some measures are being taken for the internal administration (buen regimiento), &c. of the city. It is generally believed that had not Mons. de Bourbon been slain [in the assault], most of the disorderly acts committed by the Imperial soldiers might have been prevented. The Colonnese complain bitterly of the councillors at Naples, who, they say, would never give them permission to come to Rome, or allow the Neapolitan army to help [in the undertaking]. When they came it was as Roman citizens (como varones de Roma), not as vassals of the Emperor, because Bourbon wrote to them to come as such, and they did so [so esta color]. Certainly their coming at this juncture has been very beneficial. He (Perez) frequently wrote to Don Ugo, and to Alarcon and the others, what he and the rest of the Emperor's servants thought about the Neapolitan army coming to Rome; the Colonnese saw his letters, and pressed the councillors to come to a final decision, but other parties [at Rome] wrote differently, and therefore the scheme was abandoned. Would to God it had not been so; His Imperial. Majesty would have been better obeyed and more dreaded [by his enemies], and not so many lives would have been lost, for His Majesty has gained nothing by this havoc and ruin; the lansquenets, now that they are rich, mutiny every hour for the arrears of their pay, and the Spaniards will do the same before long.—Rome, 17th May 1527.
Post datum.—An agreement has been made with the Pope, as His Majesty will no doubt be informed by the letters of Najera and others.
Miçer Augustin Folleta (Foglieta), who certainly is very much attached to the Emperor's service, and many others with him, are of opinion that in the interests of this city, and to enable it the sooner to recover from its past sufferings, it would be advisable that, in the event of the Pope going to Gaeta or Naples—as no doubt he will—the court should still reside here, a Legate being appointed by His Holiness, and another principal person by the Emperor, to conduct the government of this city until the Emperor's arrival in Italy, a thing desired by all his servants and well-wishers, who think that, as there can be no possible obstacle now, His Majesty might come as soon as convenient and hold a council and therein ordain what is best for God's and the Imperial service. The Emperor cannot allow the Church to lose any of its authority, but ought, on the contrary, to maintain and favour it, that he. may the better rule over Italy, and remove the many causes for war that there might otherwise be. (Cipher:) Should the Emperor accomplish his journey, the Venetians might easily be deprived of all their possessions on the mainland, as they have now nobody to come to their assistance. A good war contribution (talla) might be imposed on the Florentines, besides taking away from them Liorna (Leghorn) and Pisa, and demolishing the fortifications of Florence as security for the future, for that city is French by affection, and will never remain quiet unless compelled by necessity. But on no account ought Florence to be sacked for experience has shown that this sacking of towns and cities is by no means beneficial to the Emperor's cause, since the soldiers, after such plundering and destruction, still go on clamouring for their arrears of pay.
(Common writing:) The Emperor once in Italy, permission might easily be obtained from the Pope to alienate the tenth part of the ecclesiastic property throughout his dominions, whence a, sum of at least three millions might be obtained for a war against the Turk and the preservation of Hungary. It is generally believed that the Pope would not refuse his consent to the measure, for he himself had begun to do the same at Florence. 500,000 might easily be taken from that city for the purpose, whilst Milan could easily yield 800,000.
(Cipher:) Cardinal Colonna is of opinion that on no account ought the Emperor to trust the Pope, whatever may be his promises or the securities he offers. He knows his disposition, to be so fickle and changeable that no reliance whatever can be placed on him.
(Common writing:) Miçer Augustino [Foglieta] has been very ill-treated by the Spaniards during this sack. This he feels not so much on account of his own personal losses, which have been very considerable, as on the reflection that so devoted a servant of His Imperial Majesty as he is could have been treated in so disgraceful a manner. He, nevertheless, remains still faithful to the Emperor, and is at present in Colonna's palace, doing what he can for the Imperial service.—Closed on the 18th of May 1527.
Signed: "Perez."
Addressed: "Sacrmæ. Cesæ. Cathocæ. Mati."
Spanish. Holograph partly in cipher. Contemporary deciphering on separate sheet, pp. 6.


  • n1. Dr. Lee? The paragraph stands thus: "Y si su embaxador lo puso allá en la memoria que dió fue pro supuesto que V[uest]ra Magd. veniese en lo que pedia de arte de su amo."
  • n2. Those under the command of a lieutenant of the Admiral of Bretagne, mentioned in Don Iñigo's letter of the 9th. See No, 64, p. 182.
  • n3. "Y preguntandole si aquel gentil honvre (sic) se detendria en Francia algo, soltosele decir que basta que uviese salvo conducto para el obispo Francés y para el no entrarian en España."
  • n4. In the Abbot's letter of the 28th of March (No. 46, p. 130), it is said that an English gentleman going from Venice to Rome was taken prisoner close to Bologna by the Imperialists.
  • n5. "Que cosa de soldados no era de traerse en consequencia."
  • n6. "Respondiome á esto como honvre que segun lo que colegi del no tendria por muy mala respuesta la sobre dicba, no para quel me dixesse que la tendria porbucna; pero aviso a V[uest]ra Magd. quo segun lo que me pareció del la tendriti por muy mejor que no refusar las condiciones que cuvia y por que yo teino que no son tales como V[uest]ra Magd. quiere."
  • n7. "Que arrestase todas qualesquier naves ó charruas que a qualquier parte llevasen mercaderia."
  • n8. "Han sido los escritos questos Yngleses han hechado de noche por esta Ciudad tan perjudiciales al rrey, y al Legado especialmente, que uvo gran rumor que el Rey queria repartir los negocios y quitarle ó los del Estado ó los del Reyno, de manera que no oviesse syno los unos."
  • n9. "El Rey y el Legado hazen a entender que la paz y la guerra todo depende de la respuesta de Vřa Magd.; ya podria ser que tienen otra cosa en el pecho."
  • n10. Mary, the Emperor's sister, married in 1521 to Lewis, King of Bohemia and Hungary, and widow since 1526. She was born in 1505, and therefore was only 22 years of age at this time.
  • n11. "Pues en la verdad con el castmiento de Escocia gana a este reyno y [a] aquel, y sin el los pierde entramos."
  • n12. "He sabido por cierto que este bueno del Legado por hechar el sello á todas sus maldades travaja por descasar á la Reyna, y ella está tan medrosa que no ha osado hablar comigo. Han me certificado quo está el Rey tan adelante en ello que a juntado algunos obispos y lQtrados secretamenter" &c.
  • n13. Este correo se uviera partido antes si Madama le uviera despachado; quiera Dios que haya buen viento."
  • n14. His letter of the 9th was, as before stated, entirely reproduced with a few additions.
  • n15. "Saqueados y presos y traydos á pie y abiltadamente por las calles solos entre los soldados, y descabellados?"
  • n16. "Y tomadas las custodias no se hallar el Sacramento, y otras infinitas crueldades que como [h]e dicho, Señor, no bastaria tiempo ni juyzio ny papei ny tinta para escrevirse."
  • n17. "Ny hay ombre que se acuerde dello, segund estamos turbados y espantados de ver tan grandissima persecucion."
  • n18. See Nos. 53, 58, and 61.
  • n19. Bartholomeo, the nephew of the Grand Chancellor. His letter is not in the collection of the Academy, "but has been published by Baron Trasmundo Frangipani; Geneva, 1871. 12mo.
  • n20. The two friars must be Enckenwoert and Cristoforo Numali, Cardinal of Ara Cœli, who is said to have suffered most horrible treatment at the hands of the Germans. See Memorie Storiche sulla Chicsa d'Ara Cali, by Patre Casimiro de Roma, p. 350.