Spain: September 1544, 6-10

Pages 327-335

Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 7, 1544. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1899.

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September 1544, 6–10

7 Sept. 195. The Emperor's Instructions to the Bishop of Arras.
B. Neg. d'An gleterre Tome 2. p. 62. You shall go as quickly as possible to the king of England and represent to him in Our name that since Our leaving Spire (fn. 1) for Our expedition against France We have never failed, when an opportunity offered, to apprise Our Sister, the queen, regent of the Low Countries, of every step and incident of Our march, that she, herself, and Our ambassadors at the Court of England (the Sieur de Courrières, captain of Our Bodyguard, and Messire Eustace Chapuys), might in turn acquaint the King of that country with Our hitherto successful invasion of French territory; and that We have taken good care that his (the King's) ambassadors at this Our Court should be fully informed of Our progress through the enemy's country, as well as of the various and different overtures of peace made to Us from time to time, namely, on the first instance by Monsr. de Longueval, who was sent by the bailli de Dijon; (fn. 2) secondly, by the Sieur de Brenteville, (fn. 3) lieutenant of the Sieur Dennison; (fn. 4) and thirdly, through a friar bearing a message from the Admiral of France (Claude d'Hannebault), who offered to come to Our camp under a safe-conduct.
You will tell the King that for a long time We openly and distinctly refused to listen to those and other overtures of the French, purposely delaying an answer to them, until We knew for certain whether similar ones had or had not been made to him; how those overtures, if made, had been received by him; in short, that We should like to know, before taking a resolution in the matter, what the king of England, our ally, thinks of it all, whether any overtures have been made to him, and if so, whether they have been listened to, and how does he thinks we ought to answer those made to Us. In one word, until We hear from the king of England, himself, or from his ambassador, at this, Our camp, whether he considers it advisable that Monsr. du Rœulx do listen in his (the King's) name to the proposals, which the French themselves are about to make, as king Henry has given Us to understand through his ambassador at this camp of Ours, as well as through his own here, and until We know what passed between him and Framozelles (sic) We shall take no final resolution in the matter.
In Our conferences (communications) with the Admiral of France (Claude d'Hannebault) We were naturally guided by Our desire to ascertain what king Francis' real intentions were, and what Don Ferrante de Gonzaga and Monsr. de Granvelle thought about the French overtures; both ministers, We must say, seemed rather inclined to listen to the overtures, and We own that after discussing the matter with them, We resolved to listen to king Francis' proposals of a separate peace with Us, provided he (the King) helped and assisted against the Turk, and paid his debts to the king of England. On these conditions and the protest on Our part that nothing whatever was to be negotiated, much less settled, save with the full consent and approval of king Henry, and to his complete satisfaction, We allowed a conference to take place between king Frauds' commissioners and Our ministers. Yet while the negotiations (pour parlers) were going on, We continued to march against the common enemy and vigorously prosecuted the war all the same notwithstanding the surrender of towns and fortresses on Our way, and the representations and offers of peace of the French. In this manner We approached the town of Chalons, (fn. 5) pretending that We intended to lay siege to it, but in reality to draw out of its fortified camp the French army commanded by the Dauphin, and give them battle if they wished to accept it.
You may tell the King while discussing the subject of this Our letter of Instructions to you how busily employed We were on the whole of Tuesday, (fn. 6) and the ensuing Monday till Wednesday, in trying to bring the French out of their intrenchments, which they left suddenly and in disorder at Our appearance, taking refuge within a strongly fortified place in the neighbourhood (en leur principal fort), thereby showing that, although their entrenched camp was advantageously situated on the top of hills commanding the surrounding country, though they had on one side the river We had just crossed, and on the other a lake, though for several consecutive days they had been working day and night to further strengthen their camp, surrounding it with trenches and moats, the French dared not come to blows with Our men, but suddenly left in disorder, hastily taking refuge within the walls of their principal fortress in that district, and then, without stopping there, fled in the direction of a town called Espernay, (fn. 7) where they kept in store both the provisions and the ammunition of war for their army, to which they themselves set fire for fear of their falling into Our power. In a like manner did the French destroy and burn to the ground several villages in the immediate neighbourhood of that town and on the bank of the river [Marne]. All this the common enemy had done with a view to prevent Us from collecting provisions for Our army, though they have since remained in their fortified camp without going anywhere beyond it, or accepting battle, save now and then a slight skirmishing with Our troops in which, however, they have always been beaten and obliged to take to flight.
Seeing which, and highly astonished at Our marching onwards, and leaving Châlons behind, the French have since strongly solicited Us for peace, offering to furnish 10,000 infantry and 600 men-at-arms to serve against the Turk, or if not a sufficient sum of money to pay an equal number of Germans or Swiss; to restitute all they have taken from Us and from the duke of Savoy on this or the other side of the Alps since the commencement of the last war, and besides that to make of Stenay—which they took from the late duke of Lorraine, and fortified on the frontier of Luxemburg—any settlement that may be agreeable to Us. That if We feel inclined to bestow the hand of Our daughter [Maria] on king Francis' son, she bringing as a dower the Low Countries (les pays dembas), or else that of Our niece, the second daughter of the king of Romans, he will make restitution to the duke of Savoy of the rest of the territories and lands they have taken from him on this, as well as on the other side of the Alps. He promises besides to confirm all the treaties of Madrid and Cambray, and will give such securities as may be required for the establishment of an everlasting peace.
As far as the English king is concerned—and We must again observe that in Our communications with the French envoys, We have always insisted on the above-mentioned condition—the French offer to pay him all the arrears of pension due to him at reasonable dates, and in future for the rest of their debt, at such times as may seem to Us reasonable. This last offer We have always refused to admit, and said expressly that it was for the king of England to decide, and that it was his consent not Ours which was to be solicited.
And that for a long time back We have had no news of the King or from his army, and the French are asserting that he has achieved nothing either at Boulogne or at Montreuil, and are boasting that the season being so far advanced, he will not be able to do anything important or to penetrate further into France, but be obliged to retire to winter quarters, and that already, as they have learned through their spies, the King has ordered the greater part of his infantry and cavalry to go back to England, and that the Dauphin's return from that province is owing to that and to the probable retreat of the English.
That the said want of news from the King, and the rumours circulating among the French, are the cause of Our sending you to him for the purpose of inquiring what his final determination is respecting the peace, but chiefly to inform him of what has passed both in prosecution of the war with France, as well as concerning their offers of peace, that We Ourselves may know for certain what his (the King's) wants are, and what he intends to do one way or another, so that We on Our side may correspond and conform with his plan and wishes according to the treaty of closer alliance between us two, and for Our common and mutual advantage and profit.
As to the prosecution of the present war, the King of England ought to bear in mind that We are now within this kingdom [of France]. He ought to consider what We have already achieved, and the astonishment produced among the French by Our sudden and hither to successful invasion of their territory, the hazardous and precarious position (perileuse situacion) of king Francis and his army; and lastly that should the king of England cause his own to march onwards, and approach [Paris] on his side, the object and aim of Our common undertaking will in all likelihood be gained.
You will also tell him that anything We can do for him with Our army in the prosecution of this war, as well as in bringing about a favourable and profitable settlement of his claims, shall be done, since king Francis has offered to accept the above specified conditions.
The king of England ought also to consider that the chief force of king Francis is in front of Us and of Our army; and that, most certainly, he has with him a considerable number of horse and foot, Italians and French, brought from Piedmont; that seeing Us advance so far into his kingdom, he has already sent for the troops he has on the frontiers of Burgundy, Luxemburg, and elsewhere, and will do the same with those of Picardy and the Calais frontier, and that, if so, We shall have to bear too great a burden on Our shoulders. To this should be added that this army of Ours is so considerable and large that it has already cost, and is costing Us, an immense amount of money; that there is great difficulty and excessive labour in procuring victuals, and that should the French arrest Our march and oblige Us to stop somewhere [on the road to Paris], the evil might be irreparable. On the other hand, being so far into the heart of France, as above said, it would be impossible for Us to send for Our Flanders army without paying the men their due, as the King no doubt has heard; the money is already in the ports of that country, but, if We send for it, We shall have to detach from here a large force to escort the same, which would naturally diminish the numbers of this one now in front of the enemy. (fn. 8) To undertake at this juncture the siege of some important and well-garrisoned town, without payment in full of what is owing to the men, should the provisions fall short, which might very well be the case, would cause a mutiny, and of the men—deserting Our camp on the plea that winter is approaching, or else for want of payment—should the besieged town surrender, sacking and destroying it.
On the other hand, if the war is to be prosecuted with this army of Ours, for the sole purpose of wasting the country and ruining the inhabitants, it would be a cruel and fruitless act even for Us and the king of England, inasmuch as king Francis might then be deterred from making the offers he has already made.
In short, to finish with Our arguments on this point, it is highly important and very necessary for Us to know what the king of England's intentions are, and whether he wishes or not to continue the war, and for how long; whether he is willing or not to send a powerful army into France; what road that army of his will take without stopping to lay siege to a town until it approaches Us—all this to be done through true and mutual correspondence. Also that with the help and favour of his army We may make that of Flanders march in this direction, which is a very important and substantial point under the circumstances for the reasons above explained.
As to the offers of peace made by the French, the King will be pleased to let Us know his final resolution, and what his demands are; also what Cardinal Du Bellay's charge was when he went to him on a mission from king Francis, as the French themselves are triumphantly announcing and boasting of. You shall take care to inform the King of the overtures and offers made to Us by the French for the public weal of Christendom and Our own, trusting entirely that the King's answer with regard to the first point will be as befits his Royal dignity and his well known magnanimity, and to the second as a true friend of Ours.
The above Instructions you shall communicate to the said Sieur de Corron and ambassador Chapuys, and, after getting their advice, propose to the King that which you and they may think best, that for the King's greater contentment and satisfaction you may at your very first audience announce to him how much We should wish to have an answer on the above points.
We hold as a maxim, foundation and conclusion of your charge, as above, that should the king of England tell you that he is decidedly for the prosecution of the war, and intends making his powerful army march [into France] so as to approach Ours, you must represent to him difficulties attending that resolution of his, namely: the approach of the winter season, that it is already getting too late for field operations, that there might be on his side more impediments than he is aware of; and, if so, that the expense for Us to keep up such a large army in the enemy's country would be enormous: in fact, that We could not bear it. That it is important to know beforehand what our mutual pretensions are, and what can probably be obtained from king Francis, which, after all, will be the surest way of making the common enemy listen to reason. (fn. 9) It would also be requisite and more than necessary that if the King decides for the prosecution of the war, that Our money may come [in time]. Let the King know that all We shall do in future will be for him and for his sake not for Our own, and, in short, any other arguments that may come to your mind, so as to place Us on firm ground, and avoid further expense, unless there be good cause or ground for it.
Should, however, the King refuse to make his own army march on Paris immediately, as above said, you will make him understand that We, on Our side, have done all that was and is in Our power to press the enemy, and that he (king Francis) has yet done nothing to arrest Our march or prevent Us from reaching the capital of his kingdom, (fn. 10) and that, therefore, it is for him (the king of England) to consider the many causes and reasons there are for Our not stopping where We are, as otherwise We should have to undergo a most tremendous expense, which We cannot possibly defray, besides which if the concerted plan of a march on Paris is to be abandoned there is no necessity for Us to keep so large a force as We have in the field. It is, therefore, for him to decide at once on what conditions he, himself, can make peace with the French, sure as We are that in the present state of affairs the common enemy will listen to reason.
But let this negotiation of yours be conducted in such a way that the king of England may not think that We are absolutely determined and have made up Our mind as to the war being prosecuted or ceasing altogether, or listening to overtures; for, as We said above, everything is suspended until We receive your report, and know what that King's intentions are. (fn. 11)
Thus, unless you perceive clearly that the King wishes the war to continue, you will do your utmost to persuade him to decide as soon as possible in favour of peace, and to be sure that We on Our side will do the same without any message backwards and forwards, for, as you can tell our ambassadors, confidentially and under reserve, unless the king of England take the first step in this matter immediately, We shall be obliged to withdraw this Our army from France, and accept peace under the general conditions that the French agree to make, independently of those they may separately stipulate with him. (fn. 12)
Of course with all this We wish above all that the King of England be completely satisfied, and without fear of any sort, of Our friendship for him having diminished in the least. We wish the last treaty of alliance between Us two to remain in all its force and vigour, and that at all events, and under any circumstances whatever, We may be credited with having observed and kept to the end Our engagements towards him, and that if fault there has been, it was rather on his own side and such as We might well complain of it. (fn. 13)
Immediately after your arrival in Flanders (les pays denbas) you will inform the Queen of the nature and bearing of this your mission, and tell her in Our name to remit and keep ready in the neighbourhood of Calais all the money, and likewise all the provision in store for the pay and keeping of this army in case We should want them for the prosecution of the war; and if on the side of England, by applying to the king of England, if necessary, you find means of remitting to Us the said money, you will inform the Queen of it, as well as whatever else you may have negotiated in England or at Calais, wherever the King may be now.—Written at Our camp one league from Vermans (sic), 7 September 1544. (fn. 14)
Addressed: “A nostre très chier et feal conseillier Messire Antoine Perrenot, evesque d'Arrás.”
French. Original draft. 5 pp.
8 Sept. 196. The Queen of Hungary to the Imperial Ambassadors. (fn. 15)
Wien, Imp. Arch. “Messieurs les Ambassadeurs,”—We have just received a letter from the Emporer, Our lord and brother, dated the 31st of August, from La Chaulsée, three short leagues from Châlons, telling Us that on the following day, the 1st inst., he would march in the direction of that town, as if he were to lay siege to it. The town of Châlons is said to be well fortified, and to have a strong garrison, but the Emperor does not intend to attack it, on the contrary will leave it behind him, as he (the Emperor) is quite determined to prosecute his advance on Paris, and fulfilling that part of the agreement made in London by Don Fernando in his Imperial name. (fn. 16) Should the king of England, in compliance with that convention, advance with an army of at least 30,000 men, and join the Emperor, that would be, as he, himself, acknowledges, the surest means of obliging king Francis to ask for terms, and put up at once with the claims and demands of the allies. If after exposing himself to personal danger, His Imperial Majesty found that through the king of England, his ally, incurring too much expense and not carrying into effect that part of the convention made with Gonzaga in December, 1543, his plan of campaign mutually agreed upon, were likely to fail, he would certainly be disappointed and much displeased. (fn. 17)
The Emperor sent me the other day the inclosed letter for that King, as well as credentials in your favour, for you to explain to him what passed here [at Brussels] between Monseigneur de Granvelle, the Emperor's Privy Seal, and Ferrante Gonzaga, the Viceroy of Sicily, on the one side, and the Admiral of France (Hannebault) and one of the presidents of the Parliament of Paris, (fn. 18) on the other, as you will see by the abstract of the Emperor's letter to us. The contents of that letter, moreover, will show you that the above-mentioned Imperial deputies, as far as they (Granvelle and Gonzaga) are concerned in adjusting the Emperor's peace with France, have thoroughly complied with all the requirements and prescriptions of the treaty of closer alliance and friendship with England. You will do your best to convince the King of that which is the real truth, adding such considerations and arguments of your own as you may deem opportune. We sincerely hope that the king of England will no longer raise difficulties about the Emperor's peace with France, and that he will be convinced that the French are now at their old tricks again, trying to sow discord between the allies, which object, however, We hope, please God, they will never attain.
Yesterday the Sieur de Tourcoigne (fn. 19) left this city (Brussels) on his mission to the king of England, but We are much afraid that he will not be able to proceed on his journey [to Boulogne] as hastily as it might be desired, owing to the Emperor, Our brother, having ordered that all passes and bridges leading to his Imperial camp should be barred or cut for he dislikes above all things, and wishes to put an end to the continual flow of couriers and messages from all parts.—8 September 1544.
French. Original draft, 2 pp.


  • 1. After closing the Diet of Spire (Speier) on the 10th of June, the Emperor published his determination to invade France. On the 16th of that month, he entered Metz, accompanied by the king of the Romans (Ferdinand), the duke Maurice of Saxony, and the Margraf of Brandenburg (Albert). He remained at Metz till the 18th of July, when the invasion of France may be said to have commenced.
  • 2. Villiers Les or Des Ponts, see p. 278. As to Mons. de Longueval, his name was Nicholas de Bossut, sieur de Longueval.
  • 3. As to Monsr. de Bertenville (elsewhere written Bert henvile and Bertheville), see above No. 184, p. 298.
  • 4. “Lieutenant du Sieur Dennison” are the words in the copy at Brussels, but there is reason to suspect that Dannison must be a corruption of d'Annison or D Anisson, as I find it elsewhere written. He was captain of the duke of Orleans' body-guard.
  • 5. Fr. Gabriel de Guzman (?).
  • 6. This account of the Emperor's progress in Champagne until his arrival at Chalons on Marne, or rather at La Chanssee in its immediate neighbourhood, does not exactly agree with Mary's letter of the 8th of September.
  • 7. The Emperor was then at Phin in Champagne, four leagues from La Chaussee, and two from Chalons sur Marne. It was there that, according to French historians, a series of skirmishes and cavalry engagements took place between the Imperialists and the French, in one of which Count William von Fustenburg the German was taken prisoner, whilst in another the French Prince de la Roche sur Yon (Charles de Bourbon) fell into the hands of the Germans.
  • 8. Epernay in Champagne is not far from Cateau or Chateau Tierry. In those two towns according to Père G. Daniel, the historian (Histoire de France, Amsterdam, 1720, p. 412), abundant stores of provisions were kept, which the French in their retreat set fire to, though the Imperialists in pursuit arrived soon enough to save the greater part. The above-named French historian speaks at length of a treasonable act of a French captain, who having received orders from the Dauphin for cutting the bridge on the Marne leading to Epernay forgot or neglected to do so.
  • 9. “Daultre part que comme nous sommes si avant, comme dit est, en [ce] pays il nous est impossible de faire venir [l'argent pour] le paiement dicelle qui est au coustel de Flandres, comme le dit sr roy la desja bien peu entendre, et si nous devyons envoyer conduyte de ceste armee pour la faire venir, il fauldroit qu'elle fust grande, et dautant se diminueroit ceste dicte armee.”
  • 10. “Il fauldra que lui remonstrez (sic) lea difficultez que y sont de da commencement du [mauvais] temps et saison, et comme desja il est tard, et y pourra encoires avoir longueur de son coustel, et quele charge nous a esté et est grosse. Et si fauldra bien regarder ce à quoy l'on pretendra et ce que vraysemblablement l'on pourra exploicter, et si ce sera plus grand moyen d'avenger (?) lennemy.”
  • 11. 'Et quil n'a resisté ny fait encoires riens par (pour) nous [empescher] de passer oultre.”
  • 12. “Mais que toute ceste negociacion vostre soit de maniere quele roi d'angleterre nentende que soyons absolument determiné en ce que concerne la dicte guerre, soit de la continuer ou cesser, ny aussi quant à la dicte paix, ains que nous l'avons suspendu, et que nous determinerons selon le rapport de vostre dicte charge, et apres avoir entendu son intention.”
  • 13. “Car comme vous pouvez dire à nos dits ambassadeurs confidamment, si le dit roy dangleterre ne fait ce premier poinct (pas?) des incontinent, il nous est force de retirer ceste dicte armee et accepter les conditions esquelles les François condescendent en reservant toute l'alliance et traicte. avec le dit sieur roy.”
  • 14. “Et que en tous advenements soyons justiffies avoir comply et gardé l'honnestete jusques au boult, et que plustot nous pourrions nous greuver (sic) des faultes qui y ont esté de son coustel.”
  • 15. According to Vandenesse's “Itinerary of Charles V.,” translated by Bradford (p. 348), on the 6th day of September the Emperor was at Chatillon [sur Marne in Champagne] whence the bishop of Arras departed for England under a safe conduct from the French king; on the 7th he was at St. Creppau when Tierry-Simony (Chateau Thierry) was taken by the Imperialists' light horse; on the 8th at a village called Sabaythe. On the 9th and 10th he advanced half-a-mile further, and on the 11th came to Soissons. Chatillon and Chateau Tierry, the two towns mentioned in the above passage were both in Champagne, but what is meant by Sabaythe I have been unable to discover, the name must be corrupted.
  • 16. Still De Courrières and Chapnys.
  • 17. “M'advertissant que lendemain il entendoit faire semblant d'approcher la ville, la quelle il [a] enttendu (sic) estre bien fortifiée, et avoir une grosse garnison, et quant à quant estoit determiné passer oultre contre Paris pour satisfaire à la capitulation faicte à Londres avec le roy d'Angleterre.”
  • 18. “Et ne sera petit regret à sa mate imperiale [si] oultre le hazard et danger de sa personne le dit sr roy n' avanche en riens eon armée en tant que toute la forche (sic) de l'enemy tombera sur son armée.”
  • 19. Elsewhere “le Chancellier de France.” If so, it was Monsr. de Chemans, who, according to Daniel (Vol. V., p. 410), was at the time Chancellier et Garde des Sceaux of king Francis.
  • 20. “Le Sieur de Torquain “ (sic), about whom, see above, p. 310.