Spain: April 1543, 16-30

Pages 309-318

Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 6 Part 2, 1542-1543. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1895.

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April 1543, 16-30

18 April. 130. Eustace Chapuys to the Queen of Hungary.
Wien, Imp. Arch.
Corresp. Engl., 11.
"Madame,"—On the 12th inst. Your Majesty's letter of the 8th, and the duplicate of that of the 29th ult., came to hand. (fn. n1) As the King was then somewhat indisposed (pesant), and, in addition to that, very much engaged with the Scotch ambassador's business and other affairs, two of the privy councillors, that is to say, the bishop of Winchester and Secretary Wristley (Wriothesley), were of opinion that I ought to postpone my journey to Court until the following Sunday, as in the meantime (they said) they might be able to acquaint the King, their master, with the singular care and diligence which Your Majesty was and is using in all political affairs, and the confidential reports you are continually forwarding respecting military events in that country, as the perfect friendship between Your Majesty and this king requires. They might at the same time (said the privy councillors), caution their master, the King, against giving credence to the wild rumours, which respecting those very events might be spread elsewhere, and would, besides, report the detailed news, which I had communicated to them concerning the battle fought on Easter eve. However, when Sunday came, there was a counter-order, owing to the French ambassador having a week ago, with persevering importunity, asked for an audience, which he at last obtained. On Monday, the King left his usual residence and went to another, and yesterday (Tuesday) he received me. His reception was, as usual, extremely kind and affable; but no sooner had I begun to relate to him the substance of Your Majesty's letter to me than I saw him knit his brows, and then with a most disagreeable expression he proceeded to say that the people of the Low Countries (meaning the councillors near Your Majesty's person), had learnt from the French the art of exaggerating and falsifying their accounts of certain events, and that they had evidently done this when they represented them to Your Majesty in such a very different light from the true one. He (said the King) knew very well that it was no fault of Your Majesty, whom he believed incapable of saying or doing one thing for another, but of your advisers or news reporters. The French ambassador has shown him a copy of the letter which the duke of Clèves himself had written to king Francis concerning the battle in question; and, certainly, the account he (the Duke) gave of it differed much from that contained in Your Majesty's letter to me. As to the assertion that the Duke had flatly refused to come to terms with the Emperor, he (the King) knew it to be untrue; if he had, it was entirely owing to the iniquitous and unreasonable demands made by the Imperial ministers.
Having, as I think, given an appropriate reply and stated my own opinion on the above two points, the King seemed satisfied, and We passed on to another topic. He then told me that the French ambassador's visit on the preceding Sunday had been for the purpose of ascertaining through various means which he put forward what his will, intention, or inclination was respecting a war with France, but that he had departed from his Royal presence as irresolute, uncertain, and confused as be was before he came to him; for his (the King's) answer to him had been (as he himself told me), that if his master (king Francis), would observe faithfully all the treaties he had with England, and act in all matters as behoved a good prince, he might rely implicitly on his friendship and alliance; but if, on the contrary, he acted against the stipulations of those treaties, and persisted in acting as he had done of late, then he [the King], would much prefer that his hostility were open and frank, rather than hidden under cover of dissimulation and deceit.
In this manner did this king (as he himself assured me), meet the French ambassador's interpellation, telling me at the same time that he wondered at the dissimulation and stratagems of the French, who, whilst proclaiming and preconizing throughout France that their king was at peace, and on friendly terms towards England, and that English subjects ought to be as much respected and as well treated in France as if they were residing in their own country, yet all the English who have fallen into their hands were detained in close confinement, not having released or let one of them go home, notwithstanding the repeated remonstrances of his ambassadors. And that whatever their professions of peace and friendship with England were, they (the French) were nevertheless intent upon war against him, especially since they had fancied that the Emperor might possibly visit soon this kingdom on his way to the Low Countries by sea.
The King, moreover, told me that he had authentic news of the French having a fleet of sixty sail (navierez), ready to put to sea, and that they were daily trying to increase that number of war-ships. He (the King) could not say for certain what the object of such formidable armaments could be, for, if destined for Scotland, there would be in the ports of Normandy, or wherever the said armaments took place, some meeting or other of infantry to man them with, whereas his secret agents and informers wrote that not a single soldier has been seen in all that coast. "All things considered (said the King to me), I cannot help thinking that the destination of that armament must either be the port of Dunkerke, which the French flatter themselves can be easily surprised and taken, or else to assist their army in case of their laying siege to Gravellingues, and thence penetrating into Lower Flanders." The King further said to me that I ought to let Your Majesty know of that, and likewise that, according to his information, this is the day fixed by the French for the beginning of their campaign, and the revictualling Therouenne, and undertaking perhaps other towns, and that the force they purpose to collect for the invasion of Flanders (fn. n2) is to consist of 2,000 men-at-arms, and from 18,000 to 20,000 infantry, including in that number some Germans—the most wretched and lowest blackguards that could be imagined. Men drafted from the garrison of frontier places, which thereby would remain insufficiently provided for, form the rest of the French army, "and yet (added the King) (fn. n3) they would act imprudently if they left Abbeville without a sufficient garrison for its defence, for quite recently, as I hear, a large span of the surrounding wall has fallen to the ground."
Upon my replying to the King that if the French fleet was, as he said, ready to put to sea, it would be very easy suddenly to put on board a number of landing troops, and that, although there might be no infantry in Normandy, the French could, in very few days, send from Paris a large number by the river Seine, and that a portion of the army, which, he said, was about to revictual Therouenne, might, after accomplishing their object in that locality, march to Boulogne and there embark, the King still persisted in his idea, alleging that there was no likelihood of that, for these men, being principally drafted from garrisons in Picardy, could not possibly go a long distance away from their usual service. (fn. n4) Notwithstanding this, and other objections raised by the King in the course of our conversation, at last, without recollecting what he himself had previously said respecting the probable movements of the French, he informed me that he had news, that after revictualling Therouenne and other places in the immediate neighbourhood, as above said, the French intended to march towards Champagne; and upon my representing to him the difficulty, nay, the impossibility of such a movement, he ended by owning that it was more likely, after all, that the French would invade the duchy of Brabant.
Returning, then, to the subject of the French fleet in the ports of Normandy, the King said that he wondered why, in Flanders, knowing, as Your Majesty must know, of the French naval armaments, orders had not been issued for the fleet of the Low Countries to put out to sea; upon which I replied that Mons. de Bevres had already some ships under his command, but would not go out of port without the ship that was detained here in England; and that the very moment that she went back, the Flemish admiral would sail with the whole fleet under his command in whatever direction he was ordered to go. There had been still (I said) another impediment: nothing had yet been decided here in England as to the place of meeting of the two fleets (the English and ours), nor as to the order to be observed by the ships of both nations when acting together and in common, so as to guard against inconveniences and accidents; but that since the vice-admiral's ship had already left English waters, and the question of ceremony and signalling had been disposed of, I had no doubt that the Flemish fleet would put to sea very shortly. The King, moreover, is of opinion that Mr. de Bevres' fleet ought to sail first for the Downs or for Dover, that the English may make acquaintance with ours, and mutually communicate to each other their plans of campaign, and what had better be done under the circumstances now. The King further assured me that on his part nothing shall be wanting; his ships, when at sea, will take care not to harm those of the Emperor's subjects, as will also the privateer vessels, which some of the guilds (mestiers) of this city have, with his permission, armed against the French, having previously received to that effect sufficient guarantee and proper charter.
With regard to other particulars in connection with the preconcerted invasion of French territory, it seems to me as if I had, on former occasions, succeeded in inducing this king—not without some amount of difficulty—to co-operate; this I have obtained by constantly speaking about it, without, however, furnishing him occasion or pretence to get cool upon it. But as the King was then in indifferent health, and I perceived that the various points, about which Your Majesty desired to be particularly informed had been sufficiently declared to the satisfaction of both parties, by comparing the King's answer, and his discourse (discours) with the memoir and instructions of Mr. de Granvelle, on which all my conversations with the King have rested, I felt quite satisfied that there was no immediate need of again reverting to the subject. Yet for the greater satisfaction and ampler information of Your Majesty, I yesterday at the King's audience took the greatest possible pains to ascertain his real intentions in this particular, and although the King at first refused to answer my questions, saying that he found it very strange that we should always want him to speak first and reveal his intentions on political matters, he, nevertheless, going from one thing to another, ended by saying that in his opinion the undertaking against France ought to commence on the first days of July. That as to the number of men he himself counted upon, he thought that he should be able to put in the field an army of 16,000 English infantry (pietons) and between 4,000 and 5,000 pioneers, besides 5,000 cavalry, and that he had already spent in "materiel" of war for the said enterprize no less than 60,000 ducats, and therefore that it would be exceedingly inconvenient, and a source of regret to him, if the sum he had disbursed should be lost and thrown away. That, although he himself had fitted out a good number of war-ships, yet he did not see that on our side sufficient ships had yet been provided for the transport of the allied forces, as stipulated in the last treaty for the invasion in common of French territory. This was the King's language respecting naval affairs when I last saw him; as to ordnance, both for siege and for the field, that was well furnished with pieces of all kinds and calibre, &c., in perfect order and condition, but that if it were possible to get from Flanders some more cast iron guns to mount on several vessels he was about to arm, he should be glad, provided they were not of the same sort as the three hundred lately sent to him from Holland, which (he said) had turned out so unserviceable that they were put away. He would, therefore, beg Your Majesty to do him in this particular all possible favor.
With respect to the provision of wheat for his own army, the King said that he would send to Calais a sufficient quantity for the support of his army, and if that were not enough, his troops along the coast would he supplied by the fleet.
I said nothing to him of the chance there was of the Emperor being unable to co-operate in the enterprize, nor of his contributing with certain infantry and cavalry according to the letter of article 23 of the last treaty, inasmuch as the experience I have of the affairs of this country, and what I myself have heard the privy councillors say from time to time, led me to believe that any difficulty started by me might spoil the whole affair, for had I hinted that he (the King) was bound to furnish a certain contingent of men for the enterprize, without the Emperor being obliged to do the same on his side, surely there was danger of the whole structure falling to the ground. Indeed, one of the chief difficulties, which in my opinion stands in the way of this is, that, although I have repeatedly told this king, that if he wants German cavalry, he may recruit it on the same terms as the Emperor, he has not yet, that I know of, made an application in that direction, from which I conclude that he trusts upon getting that of Flanders. For that reason, as I say, have I refrained from mentioning this subject to him, nor will I allude to it, unless I get fresh orders from Your Majesty, always assuring this king, whenever I have an opportunity, that Your only and exclusive desire is to be agreeable to him, and know beforehand what his wants are, in order to ensure the success of the enterprize.
Touching the duty newly imposed in Flanders of the one per cent., the King did certainly show some discontent when I first mentioned to him the measure adopted by Your Majesty in order to provide for the expenses of the war, alleging that it is against the letter of the treaties between England and the Low Countries. He found it very strange (he said) that Your Majesty should tax, as he said, his subjects; but after explaining to him the reasons for that measure, he seemed more calm and reconciled to it, saying that I might communicate at once with his privy councillors, and that he himself would consult them thereupon. So, after leaving the King, I went into the Council room, and explained the whole affair. After some altercation with its members, they owned to me that they found it natural enough that English merchants trading with the Low Countries should pay a duty on the goods they imported; but they (the councillors) objected to it on the ground that it would subject the English merchants—carrying on business with the Low Countries, with more profit, perhaps, than those of other nations—to the annoyance of having their goods examined and valued. They would much prefer—and so would the merchants—to give a sum of money, twice as large as that which the duty might be calculated to amount to for the next two years, and had no doubt that English merchants trading with the Low Countries would agree to it, and at once pay the sum down. They accordingly promised to see the King about it, and let me know his resolution. As to the merchants themselves, there would be no difficulty; they would be glad to have the duty compounded in the said manner.
I have tried hard to obtain the passport or "placet" for the twenty ships laden some with wine, and others with biscuit ("pastel"); (fn. n5) but I have been unable to make this king consent to it, his principal objection being, not as to what else the French ships might convey besides the abovementioned articles, or do during their voyage, but on account of the return money, which through that means would flow into the pockets of the enemy. As to himself, he declared to me that he would rather drink beer, or even water, than allow his subjects to import French wines as abundantly as they used in former times, and that he found it very strange that the licence applied for should be for 10,000 casks (tonneaux), whereas in time of peace it had never exceeded six thousand for England and the Low Countries together. That the price of such quantity of wine, exclusive of the biscuit (pastel) would amount to an enormous sum (horrible denier), besides which the wine was of such quality that it could not be carried by waggons in the train of an army without becoming thick and sour in consequence. He had no objection to grant a licence for the introduction of five or six thousand casks (tonneaux) for Your Majesty's dominions, but as to a larger quantity, he certainly would not; alleging besides the above, several other reasons for his refusal.
Having afterwards asked him what news he had of the agent he had sent to Denmark, he answered me that he had written from Bremen and Ambourg (Hamburg), but beyond those towns he had not been heard of. He however had reason to think that the arrest of his man had been made at the Sond Straits rather indiscreetly and without any particular reason or motive. The merchants of England had sent him to Iceland for the purpose of establishing a fishery in those parts; and as the loss to English trade would be great, he (the King) had sent an agent to inquire after him. The King however assured me two or three times running that the people of Ambourg (Hamburg) had written to him the kindest and most reassuring letters possible on the subject of the missing man, and had no doubt that he would soon turn up.
He gave me no opportunity to interrogate him concerning Scotch affairs; but I must say that since the date of my last letter, no fresh news have come in.
I send Your Majesty, herein enclosed, the copy of the regulations to be observed by the commanders (conducteurs) of ships of both nations when in sight of each other, the original of which the vice-admiral of Flanders himself will take at his departure.
I must not omit, before I sign and close this present despatch, to say that the King is still showing the greatest possible desire that Mr. de Granvelle may visit this country; it would be very convenient for the purpose of hastening the preconcerted invasion of French territory.—London, 18 of April 1543.
Signed: "Eustace Chapuys."
Addressed: "To the dowager queen of Hungary, regent in Flanders and the Low Countries."
French. Holograph, partly ciphered. pp. 6.
26 April. 131. Mr. de Granvelle to Eustace Chapuys.
Wien, Imp. Arch.
Corresp. Engl., 9.
"Monsr. l'Ambassadeur,"—Some days ago I received Your letter of the 2nd inst., together with the copy of that of the same date which you wrote to the Queen in Flanders. (fn. n6) I am much pleased to hear what you say respecting the king of England's determination of carrying on war against France this very year, as he himself declared to you. And certainly, the more I look forward to events, the more I consider this present juncture as the best and fittest that could be desired. Indeed, perhaps the opportunity will never offer itself again; for you must be sure that the Emperor on his side will not be in fault, and that, without stopping in Italy, he will come to this country, as he has written to me. Besides the forces he has now with him, I have now raised here for his service a large body of infantry as well as cavalry, together with a train of heavy ordnance, consisting of upwards of one hundred pieces, equipped and provided with ammunition, shot, and every necessary, besides a suitable complement of men to serve the guns.
You will see by the answer that the States of the Empire assembled at this present diet (fn. n7) have given to me respecting the king of France, the esteem in which they hold him, and the favor and good-will with which his acts are likely to be regarded by all. And since the representatives in common of those States speak, deliberate, and write so openly and freely about king Francis and his doings, you may well guess what each of them in private will say, and what they do keep in their hearts. (fn. n8) In short, they say and declare that they will do anything the Emperor wants them to do, provided he himself comes to attend this diet; and I can assure you, on my faith and honor, that there is no one here who dares utter a word in favor of the king of France, or pretends to excuse his acts.
The States have already granted their help and assistance against the Turk, with a sum of money sufficiently large to defray the cost of 20,000 infantry and 4,000 cavalry, the money to be handed over to the king [of the Romans], for him to recruit the men, and lay in stores of provisions and ammunition. True it is that the Lutheran princes and electors, owing to their differences with the Catholics, have protested; but still, they will contribute like the rest, as they have since privately declared to that king, and to me. Already the people of this town (Spires), have paid their contingent in money, as have also done the duke Maurice of Saxony and the marquis of Brandenburg. The rest of the princes and electors have confirmed the peace, and placed the reform of justice entirely in the Emperor's hands.
The Protestant princes, on the other hand, are preparing an embassy to the Emperor, with a view to justify and excuse their late acts in the Brunswick affair, and offer their services against France. In short, both Lutherans and Catholics are quiet, and live in good harmony, anxiously expecting His Imperial Majesty's arrival.
But to return to my purpose. It is desirable that you (Chapuys) write as often as you can respecting that king's avowed determination of making war against France, as well as respecting the progress there made in the storing of provisions, and the precise time at which he will be able to make his army march forward, so that his Imperial Majesty may do the same on his side, and both together or separately molest and annoy their common enemy.
I am told and informed on every side that I am in favor with that king, as my work and acts towards him deserve. I trust that I shall continue so as long as I live, for, after all, it is for God's service that I work. (fn. n9)
I shall not expatiate longer on these subjects, being, as I am now, very much engaged in preparing a despatch for His Imperial Majesty, and a report on political matters in general, as well as in writing to the dowager queen of Hungary. I shall merely add that I believe that the Emperor will be at Gennes (Genoa) towards the end of this month, or the first week of May.
I am glad to hear that the gout has left you, and that you have made my compliments and commendations to all the King's privy councillors, to whom I should like to be of use, and offer my services accordingly. As to you, in particular, I shall think of you and of your valuable services in that Court, as my duty and my obligation, as well as our old, true, and indissoluble friendship require.—[Spires], the 26 of April 1543.
Signed: "Perrenot."
Indorsed: "Copy of a letter of Mr. de Grantvelle (sic) to the ambassador in England."
French. pp. 2½.


  • n1. See No. 124, p. 298, and No. 120, p. 289.
  • n2. "Et quel'assemblee debuoit stre de deux mille hommes darmes, et environ xviii. ou xxm piettons, dont yl y avoit quelque nombre dallemans, la pire et plus inutile canaille que lon sçauroit dire, et que la pluspart de este assemblee estoit dez garnisons dez frontierez, les quelles restoient assez despourveuz"
  • n3. Here at the beginning of this next sentence there must be some words, or perhaps a whole line wanting, otherwise the sense is not clear. "Et toutefois quil ne convenoit [pas] laisser Abeville sans bonne provision attendu que ces jours ung gran pand (?) de murallie (sic) dicelle estoit tumbe par terre."
  • n4. "Icelluy roy me respondit quil ny avoit apparence puisque estoient souldars de garnisons que ne peuvent eslonger."
  • n5. "Les vint navierez chargeez de vin, et lez aultrez de pastel."
  • n6. See above, No. 124, p. 204.
  • n7. That of Spires in Bavaria.
  • n8. "Et puisque ilz en deliberent et escripvent en communs estatz si librement, ou ilz sont fort pesans, vous pouvez penser ce quilz en dient particulierement, et ont en leur cœurs."
  • n9. The paragraph, which is rather obscure, stands thus: "L'on mescript et advertit de tous coustelz que je suys en sa grace aussi bien comme mes œuvres envers luy le meritent, mais (?) je confye en Dieu quil me gardera puisque cest pour cause de son service."