Spain: May 1543, 1-10

Pages 318-326

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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May 1543, 1-10

1 May. 132. The Queen of Hungary to Eustace Chapuys.
Wien, Imp. Arch.
Corresp. Engl., 9.
"Monsieur I'Ambassadeur,"—We have read with pleasure your despatch of the 17th ult., giving the late occurrences in that country, but find it rather strange that the king of England, who knows very well how prone and inclined Frenchmen are to disguise facts, should have expressed doubts as to Our account of the battle fought in front of Zittart, which battle was completely successful for Our arms, as We wrote to Our brother, the Emperor. The account We sent you to be shown that king was similar in all its parts to the one We forwarded to his Imperial Majesty; and certainly We should never have thought of writing to him anything but the plain truth, so much so that we purposely delayed advising him of the signal success of Our arms until We got reliable and official information on the whole. The enemy may say what they like about the battle, but they cannot deny that their cavalry was defeated, and lost the day. Indeed, the testimony of the foreign officers in the Duke's service, and the many troopers (serviteurs), who returned home without their masters, are sufficient proofs of the discomfiture and loss of their men-at-arms before Zittart. If the king of England thinks that the Duke's account of the battle is more reliable than Ours, he is seriously mistaken, for since his return from France the Duke has become such a convert to French manners and ideas, that he does not scruple in the least to disguise the truth, and make a victory out of a signal reverse. I have purposely said this much, in order that should the King again speak to you on the subject—not otherwise—you may reply to him according to the truth.
With regard to the King's particular enterprize against France, you did wisely not to press him too hard. Until you perceive his inclination and good will to undertake something of the sort against the common enemy, you must avoid pressing him on the subject, for fear that too much pressure on Our part should render him suspicious and cold. And yet, as you cannot fail to understand, it is requisite, if the undertaking is to take place, that We be informed in time of the King's intentions as to that, when and where the allied forces are to be collected, what part of the French frontier is to be assailed by us, and other particulars; according to the memorandum of Mr. de Granvelle, in order that We Ourselves may make the necessary preparations for an invading army. You must, therefore, let Us know if you consider it certain that within the period of time alluded to in your letter, that king will be willing and ready to undertake the expedition against France, and what We are to do on Our side; with what number of men, and what amount of provisions, gunpowder and ammunition, as well as carriages and horses, We are called upon to contribute towards it, that the whole may be ready when wanted.
We must, however, observe, that if the Emperor undertakes anything against France, or against the duke of Clèves, he will naturally require the cavalry of these countries under Our government; and, if so, that it will be difficult for Us to provide both armies with sufficient cavalry to withstand the onset of the French should they attempt to give us battle.
As you write that the King gives no sign at present of recruiting foreign cavalry, it is important to know whether he intends having a separate army of his own—which, for the considerations contained in Mr. de Granvelle's memorandum, seems a more expedient plan—or whether he purposes to join his forces to those of the Emperor. In either case, We shall be glad to know in time that king's resolution, in order to provide what may be necessary.
Should the King decide to make an enterprize against France with such a force as is stipulated in the article 22 of the last treaty, and the assistance on Our side of 2,000 German infantry and 2,000 cavalry, according to the said article, it must be borne in mind that should the Emperor on his own side assail the frontier of France, We are not obliged to furnish the said contingent of German infantry and cavalry.
Respecting provisions and carriage likewise, it must be understood that should the Emperor make a separate enterprize of his own, he must be sure that the king of England will also make his, and it must be borne in mind that the most fertile frontiers of Flanders having been wasted by the enemy, the storing of provisions will be very difficult in consequence. We will, however, do Our best for the English army to be served with them. As to the gunpowder, which generally comes from Germany, and which we obtain with great difficulty, We have no objection to the king of England purchasing here as much as his own merchants can procure him, to be used, of course, for the said enterprize; but We fear that a very small quantity will thus be forthcoming. We have deemed it fit to acquaint you with these details, not that you may press the King and his ministers further, but that you may be informed thereupon and try to ascertain what the King's intentions are, and what he expects Us to do in the event of the said enterprize separately or conjointly.
With regard to the war-ships, which we are bound by treaty to send out to sea, We have delayed the equipment and fitting out of them, because, among other reasons, We do not consider Ourselves obliged by treaty to send out Our fleet before the king of England has actually challenged and declared war against king Francis, which he has not yet done. Even now, after the language which you say he used the other day to the French ambassador (Marillac), that king does not yet consider him of France as his enemy, although by the words of the treaty, pure and simple, he is bound to hold him as such, as well as all those who are actually invading the Emperor's territory on this side of the Channel, such as king Francis himself, who has now his army within the county of Arthois; the duke of Clèves, who has invaded the district of Limbourg; and he of Holstein, who has sent a force in help of the former; in fact, any prince who, according to article VI. of the treaty, should carry on war against the Emperor's dominions in these parts.
However that may be, as the French have actually entered Arthois with a force of 10,000 men, We should have been perfectly justified, as We imagine, in asking for that king's assistance according to article VII. of the treaty, and yet We would not do it until We had your opinion in the matter. You are, therefore, requested to let Us know as soon as possible what your advice is, and what We had better do in His Imperial Majesty's interest on this occasion, without, however, giving that king any cause for resentment. Let Us know whether We had better wait until the ratification of the treaty to demand that help and assistance to which We are entitled, since, as aforesaid, the treaty is clear and absolute, and the words of the article are conclusive. The contracting parties are bound, in virtue of the powers granted by them, and the promise of their respective ambassadors, to the observance of the treaty as much before its ratification as after, which ratification neither of them is obliged to grant, until 15 days after the requisition; it therefore naturally follows that the effect of the treaty as to its other bearings is in nowise suspended. (fn. n1)
We also want to know whether, in case of Our applying for the assistance to which We are entitled, the application is to be urgent or not, considering that the King is only obliged by treaty to get it ready forty days after the application, and if it be in money, one month after the lapse of that period, and that if the enemy withdraws in the meantime, the King might allege that he is no longer bound to lend the said assistance in money or men. If so, in the event of Our applying now for English aid, We should have to bear alone all the burden of the war, and wait a long time before that aid and assistance, which the English are bound to give, becomes really effective. On the other hand, it seems to Us as if the treaty allowed the application for aid to be made before the enemy had actually invaded the country of one of the allies.
We also request you to tell Us if it would not be fit and expedient under the circumstances that the King declared at once against France, Clèves, and Denmark, according to article VI. of the treaty, and expelled from England the subjects and natives of those countries. That would be, in Our opinion, a most profitable measure for the Emperor, and one which might, perhaps, make Our common enemy think and reflect before proceeding to fresh undertakings.
We also should like to know, in order to satisfy the demands of the treaty, what sort of equipment will be required for the warships that We are obliged to furnish, and you must not forget to thank the King for his very opportune warning concerning the maritime forces of the French, which might one of these days surprise Dunckercke or succour their army in the event of their entering Lower Flanders. This, however, they could not do if they wished, until after 11 or 12 days from this date, for the rains have been so abundant and continuous that the roads are actually impassable, and the enemy would not be able, if they attempted, to do anything by land.
As to the French in the Arthois, they have done nothing of importance yet. We cannot say what their future movements will be, but whatever their plans of campaign are, our generals will act accordingly.
The duke of Clèves' army had thrown a bridge over the Meuse at Ruremonde, in order to cross to the other side and make raids into Brabant; but the late rains did so swell the river that the bridge was carried away. They are now daily strengthening their position on its bank, but it is not known what they intend doing next.
We beg you to persuade the King's privy councillors, by all honest means in your power, not to raise difficulties about the English merchants paying the one per cent. duty which these states have lately imposed on all goods and merchandize exported from this country. The duty cannot be said to be onerous for the English merchant who imports more goods than he exports from these countries, and in addition to that, does not pay duty on his imports, which duty after all he makes the consumer pay. As the duty, moreover, is only for a limited time, and to cover the expenses of this present war, the English ought not to mind it. We will give orders that they be courteously treated in the ports of the Low Countries, that their vessels and goods shall not be examined more closely than they are at present; and as to the duty itself, it will be so considerately exacted that they will have no reason to complain: the search of their vessels not to be general and over-scrupulous, but partial, so as to ascertain by declaration what the quantity and value of the merchandize may be, for which the opening of any single bale or packet will be sufficient, preceded by the written declaration of the goods, and their estimated value. Even in this the English will find that they are more favored than any other foreign nation. If by chance the King's privy councillors would not agree to that, you will see what other means there are of satisfying the King, who, We hope, will not look too closely at a thing of this sort, by which his subjects will lose very little or nothing, whilst it will be exceedingly injurious to those of the Emperor. This consul (cour maistre) made some time ago a protest against the merchants of his nation paying the said duty of one per cent.
With regard to the passport or safe conduct of the wines, which, as you say, the King makes difficulties about and will not grant, We confess that We find it rather hard and unreasonable that the Emperor's subjects in these countries may not be able to introduce any quantity they want or any other merchandize from France by means of safe conducts. Indeed, the King's absolute refusal to grant the said safe conducts for the wine and other merchandize coming to or from France, or to respect Our own is unjust, for, whilst his own merchants are freely trading with France, it is not stipulated by treaty which articles We Ourselves may import, and which We may not. Until the King has fairly and openly declared himself the enemy of France, he ought not to throw impediments in the way of trade with that country. When at war, We Ourselves will be the first to refuse granting passports or safe conducts to French vessels without consulting him. That is why, considering the inequality of Our relative positions, whilst one of the two countries is at war with France, and the other is not, you are to insist, though as mildly and courteously as you possibly can, upon the King's cruisers not impeding the navigation of or capturing at sea merchant vessels having Our safe conduct, in the same manner that he would not like Us to throw impediments in the way of his subjects trading with France.
Respecting the Englishman who was arrested at Utrecht, you will explain that Our military commanders could not do less, considering that he was about to take the direct road to Ghelders, whither no one is allowed to go, and that, when stopped, the man would not say which way he intended to go, and had no document or letter on his person to prove his nationality, his name, or his business; the guard on the road therefore suspected that he was a spy, and took him prisoner. (fn. n2)
As to the order to be observed by the respective fleets when at sea, We expect Mons. de Beures here in a day or two. We will take care that the paper which has come from England on that subject be at once put into his hands to be organized and reported upon by him. As soon as the Admiral has done his work, We shall not fail to advise you, that you may shape your answer, although I have no doubt there will be no difficulty in accepting the rules proposed and set down by the English.
French. Original draft, entirely ciphered. pp. 3.
2 May. 133. King Henry VIII., of England, to the President of the Council of the Low Countries.
Wien, Imp. Arch.
Corresp. Engl., 4.
"Tres cher et tres ayme,"—Having many a time heard from the Emperor's ambassador residing at this Our court the desire you have manifested, and the good offices you have hitherto rendered towards the establishment of closer friendship and perpetual alliance between the Emperor and Ourselves, of which desire, however, we never doubted; knowing you to be, as you certainly are, the good and faithful servant of Our good brother, the Emperor, and sending, as We now do, to the most high and most excellent princess, Our dearest and most beloved cousin, the dowager queen of Hungary, regent in the Low Countries, Our faithful and most beloved councillors, Messire Thomas Sayntmour, (fn. n3) knight, and gentleman of Our Privy Chamber, and Nicholas Wotton, doctor and dean of Canterbury, for the express purpose of communicating to her certain matters and things respecting the said closer friendship and alliance; We have deemed it convenient, dearest and most beloved, to request you by these Our letters to continue and persevere in the good will and desire you have hitherto shown for the fostering and increasing of that same friendship and alliance, and in all matters in which Our said ambassadors may require your interference, as well as your valuable help and assistance, to grant it to them as befits a good servant of the Emperor, and as the friendship and alliance by which We are united, demand.—De nostre pallays à Uvestmestre le 11me jour de Mai 1543.—"Your good friend, Henry."
Signed: "Henry," with the great seal of England.
Addressed: "To Our dearest and most beloved Monsieur Scors, (fn. n4) president of the Great Council in the Emperor's Low Countries."
French. Original. p. 1.
2 May. 134. Eustace Chapuys to the Same.
Wien, Imp. Arch.
Corresp. Engl., 11.
Promises to do all he can in favour of a certain Florentine who has come to England on business, and begs at the same time to introduce and recommend the bearer. (fn. n5) —London, 2 May 1543.
Signed: "Eustace Chapuys."
Addressed: "A Monsieur Score, president du Grand Conseil."
French. Original. p. 1.
2 May. 135. The Same to the Queen of Hungary.
Wien, Imp. Arch.
Corresp. Engl., 11.
"Madame,"—Although I might have been excused from writing in favour and commendation of Mons. de Semel, (fn. n6) bearer of this, yet, both out of respect for the King, who sends him to reside at Your Majesty's court, as on account of that gentleman's qualifications and honorable parts, for this king's satisfaction, and the many obligations under which I stand towards him and his brother, the earl of Hertford, lord high chamberlain of this king. (fn. n7) I could not do less than beg Your Majesty most humbly to let it be understood that his own personal merits being set aside, it is to my own recommendation that he owes the reception which I have no doubt Your Majesty will give him. And as both from Mons. de Semel, present bearer, and from his colleague, (fn. n8) (a really worthy person), Your Majesty will hear the latest news of this country, I shall be brief, and bring this letter to a close; indeed I could not, even if I were tempted, prolong it any further owing to my usual indisposition.—London, 2 May 1543.
Signed: "Eustace Chapuys."
Indorsed: "En recommendation de Mons. Semel, ambassadeur en Flandre."
French. Original. p. 1.
7 May. 136. The Queen of Hungary to Eustace Chapuys.
Wien, Imp. Arch.
Corresp. Engl., 9.
"Monsieur I'Ambassadeur,"—We send you, together with this letter, the powers and instructions received from the Emperor, Our brother, to guide you in your negociation.
We have delayed sending on Thoison d'Or, because Mr. de Granvelle (fn. n9) has written to say that he is now considering what the said herald had better do in order to execute the Emperor's orders. As soon as We receive a letter from him explaining his views on the subject, We shall not fail to communicate the intelligence. Meanwhile, you may request the King to ratify the treaty, and swear to it, as the Emperor, Our brother, has already done, and, above all, answer Our letter of the 1st inst. (fn. n10)
Mr. de Granvelle, at his departure from the Nuremberg diet, did, at the pressing solicitude of the deputies of the States of the Empire, and most urgent request of those of Clèves, grant the Duke a truce until the Emperor's arrival in Germany, and for two months after, as you will see by the copy of the agreement appended. (fn. n11) You will inform the King thereof, and should the Duke send in his ratification, and show any desire of observing the truce, which his own deputies have applied for in his name, We will also let you know of it, that you may apprize Our ally, the king of England, who, after perusing the enclosed draft, cannot fail to agree with you that the whole transaction has been carried out to the Emperor's honor, credit, and reputation.
The duke of Holstein, who a long time back expressed a wish that a meeting should be held, whereat the differences existing between these Low Countries and Denmark should be adjusted, but who, nevertheless, resisted as long as he could sending his deputies to any town of the Emperor's dominions, has at last consented to their going to the town of Campon, under the governorship of count de Buren. We have, therefore, sent Our own thither; and they are actually sitting and discussing together their mutual affairs. Of whatever may be enacted there We shall not fail to apprize you, that you may acquaint the King with it.
The French in the Arthois have pulled down and demolished some churches and small fortresses (petite fors) not susceptible of defence; and lastly, taken the town of Lillers (in Flanders), which they abandoned soon after, owing to its having no defences at all. What they will do next, what direction they will take, or what their hostile plans are, We cannot say, (fn. n12) but of this you may be sure, that We will oppose them as strenuously as possible.—Brussels, 7 May 1543.
Signed: "Mary, the Regent."
Addressed: "To the Emperor's ambassador in England"
French. Original draft. pp. 2.


  • n1. "Et si debvons attendre la ratification de sa mate avant de demander quelque assistance que ne semble requis, considere que, comme dit est, le traicte est pur et absolut, et les princes en vertu des pouvoirs par culx donnees, et les promesses des ambassadeurs ensuryvis (sic), sont obliges à lobservance dicelluy aussy devant la ratification laquelle nulz deulx est tenu de donner sinon dedans xv. jours apres la requisition, parquoy leffect du traictie (sic) quant à la reste nest en rien suspendu."
  • n2. "Au regart de cellui qui a este detenu à Utrecht, les gens de guerre pour leur debvoir ne povoient moins faire que le arrester considere quil prennoit le droit chemin vers Geldres, ou on ne laisse passer personne; et pour ce que dissimuloit ou il vouloit aller sans monstrer enseignement (renseignement) quiconque, ou avoir coignoissance de personne, les gens del (sic) guerre prindrent suspicion contre lui que cestoit ung espia (sic)."
  • n3. "Ainsy soit que envoyons presentement nous (sic) feaulx et bien aymes conseilliers Messrs. Thomas Saintmour, chevalier gentilhomme de nre. chambre, et Nicolas Wotton, docteur et doyen de Canturberye." Saintmour, or Sayntmour, as elsewhere written, is here meant for Sir Thomas Seymour, brother of the earl of Hertford (Edward). It is remarkable that in an original document, as this one is, emanated too from the English Chancery, signed by king Henry, and bearing his royal great seal, the family name of an ambassador, brother of one of that King's wives, should be so differently spelt. Chapuys himself, as will be seen hereafter, writes Semel.
  • n4. Scors is here for Schore (Dr. Lewis), chancellor of Brabant, and president of the Council of State in the Low Countries. See Vol. V., Part II., p. 63 n, and 506.
  • n5. The name of the bearer is not stated; but as Sir Thomas Seymour, appointed English ambassador to the Low Countries, was introduced by king Henry to President Schore (see above, No. 131), it is natural to conclude that Chapuys himself, after recommending him to the Queen, should also give him a private letter for the President. The name of the Florentine recommended by Dr. Schore is nowhere given; but most likely he was the agent in London of the Guicciardini, merchants and bankers of Florence, about whom and their ships, laden with wine and biscuit (pastel), so much has been said in the preceding pages.
  • n6. Sir Thomas Seymour, as last note p. 323.
  • n7. "Et lobligation que jai envers le dit sieur Semel et le conte darfort, grand chamberlain de ce royaulme, son frere."
  • n8. Dr. Nicolas Wotton.
  • n9. Here written Grantvelle.
  • n10. No. 132, p. 318.
  • n11. The treaty is not appended, but may be found in Sandoval, Historia del Emperador Carlos V., Vol. II., pp. 455–7.
  • n12. "Larmee des franchois qui est en Arthois a abbatu aulcunes eglises et petis fort (sic) non tenables, et finablement prints la ville de Lillers, et [lont] apres abandonne parce quelle nest fortifie[e] ne fortifiable, et ne sçavons encoires ou elle vouldra tirer."