Spain: October 1544, 21-31

Pages 429-436

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

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October 1544, 21–31

30 Oct 241. An Account of what passed on the 29th of October between Messieurs le Praët et de Granvelle on one side, and the English Ambassadors on the other, at the Conference held by them on the Tuesday preceding.
Wien, Imp. Arch. At the end of October, the Emperor, being at Brussels, ordered the Sieurs de Praët and Granvelle to continue to look out for ways and means of bringing on peace between the kings of England and France, a thing so much needed for the tranquillity and welfare of Christendom at large, the common benefit of the kings of those two countries, as well as for the convenience and repose of His Imperial Majesty, whose mind is agitated and troubled by their differences. They were to meet with the English ambassadors for the purpose, which they did on the very same day. After being duly informed of the Emperor's great desire that an end should be put to the war between England and France, and that the meeting was for that express purpose, the English ambassadors stated that they should be glad of some agreement or other being made to secure peace, but that they, themselves, saw no way to it save that of the Emperor actually compelling the king of France to it by declaring him his enemy, and making war upon him. In this the ambassadors persisted, adding that the declaration against France, to which Your Imperial Majesty was bound by treaty, could not fail to be advantageous to You, as it would greatly increase Your good reputation, whilst it would stop the slandering tongues of those who might find fault with Your having made peace with the French (fn. 1) and left the English in the lurch, to fight their own battles single-handed.
To the above argument Praët and Granvelle replied: That inasmuch as the English ambassadors were the King's most confidential servants, and knew his wishes and intentions in the matter, they, Praët and Granvelle, had orders from the Emperor to communicate with them openly, and without disguise, in order to justify His conduct. The king of England (they said) could not deny how much His Imperial Majesty had done for the observance and fulfilment of the treaty in all its parts, a fact which, though somewhat brought into question, as reported, by some of the king of England's ministers, (fn. 2) is nevertheless both true and notorious to all. It has been surmised by some English officials that the Emperor did unduly and unjustly conclude peace with king Francis, and thereby left the king of England at war with his adversary. To answer such an accusation, and prove the contrary, it is needful to enter into some details, and sum up the causes and origin of the alliance. The treaty was made, as is well known, for the express purpose of compelling king Francis by means of an offensive warfare, to satisfy the claims of the allies and comply with their demands. Without that there would have been no necessity for a treaty of closer alliance between England and the Empire, inasmuch as there was at that time perfect amity between them [the king of England and the Emperor]. The treaty having been made and concluded for the above cause and reasons, the Emperor last winter sent the viceroy of Sicily, Don Fernando Gonzaga, to England to hear the king's pleasure and advice as to the manner and time of the invasion, with what force, and by which frontier, and lastly, when and where the allied armies were to meet in order to proceed and march on Paris. After that Paget, himself, went to the Emperor with excuses from the King, his master, saying that he could not possibly collect more than 20,000 men, and that even those men could not cross the Channel before the 10th of June, or thereabouts. The surplus of the contingent, which he was bound by treaty to supply, was to remain with him, and serve under his own command in the frontier of France on the Calais side. An agreement was accordingly entered into to that effect, as one, the English ambassador, then residing at the Imperial Court, and now present, can testify.
Trusting entirely in the above-mentioned treaties and covenants, the Emperor marched with the whole of his army into France; he would have advanced as far as Paris had the English done the same on their side. King Francis then would undoubtedly have been worsted, and the principal aim of the war attained. But whilst the Emperor was penetrating into France, he had no news whatever of the king of England nor of his army, and, therefore, sent Monsr. d'Arras to inform him of the position of affairs. The King's answer, as the Imperial ambassadors well know, was that he could not then join the Emperor's army so that both together might advance upon Paris as preconcerted. Upon this answer from the king of England, the Emperor, perceiving that his plan of campaign against the common enemy would completely fail, listened to the overtures of the French and made peace with them. This He did with the full consent and approval of the king of England, His ally, reserving his rights, thus extricating himself from the dangerous position in which, according to king Henry's own ideas and supposition, the Emperor was. (fn. 3) In short, His Imperial Majesty concluded a separate peace with France, and kept all the time his friendly duties towards the king of England, as appears and is notorious.
True it is, as the English ambassadors argue, that the treaty is honourable enough for the Emperor, but it would have been far more honourable and advantageous had the king of England corresponded and fulfilled his part of the agreement.
The Emperor would certainly have obtained more advantageous terms from France before his invasion of that country than he has now by his peace. (fn. 4) He would then have saved expense and spared his money, but he refused to listen to French overtures in order to execute and do, completely and in good faith, whatever he had promised.
What happened afterwards, when the Emperor actually invaded France? The Most Christian King, finding that the king of England had employed the whole of his army in the siege of Boulogne and Montreuil, removed all the forces he had in those quarters and sent them against the Emperor, his son the Dauphin [Henri de Valois] doing the same. The Emperor, besides, had 2,000 horse and as many foot of his own serving all the time with the English, of which force He might have made use, as also of that in Lombardy, where he had to fight the French single-handed and without any help whatever from his allies. He had, moreover, to keep a large fleet in the Mediterranean to defend Nizza, Genoa, Siena, Piombino, as well as the coast of Naples and Sicily from the attacks of Barbarossa.
If the Emperor, under the circumstances, did make his peace with France with the full consent of the king of England, neither this latter nor his subjects have cause or reason to complain, much less appeal to the sincere and perfect amity which He professes for the king of England. Indeed, no living creature will be found who, knowing how things have passed, will fail to acknowledge that the Emperor's conduct in this case was perfectly justifiable. (fn. 5)
The Emperor, since his peace with France, has done everything in his power to prevent the Germans dismissed from his own service entering that of France. He has refused to assist the French with provisions, and has not allowed his own subjects or vassals to go into the service of the Most Christian King, all the while that, disregarding the urgent solicitations of the latter king, stronger and sharper than the English themselves are perhaps aware, (fn. 6) He has, until a short time ago, allowed general De Büren and his force to continue in the king of England's service, and has ordered his own subjects to assist the English with provisions of all kinds, notwithstanding the frequent ill-treatment of the Belgian sutlers by the English soldiery. What more could the Emperor do?
Meanwhile, and in order to satisfy the king of England, his ally, the Emperor has hitherto done, and will do in future, everything in his power to make his real or pretended claims acceptable to king Francis and his people; yet the latter say and maintain that by submitting entirely, as they have, to the Emperor's arbitration and decision as to the conditions of their peace, they have done their utmost towards removing the difficulties there might be for a settlement of their differences. The Emperor's position, therefore, placed as he is between the king of England, his old friend, and king Francis, for many years his enemy, is really both difficult and disagreeable.
Considering, therefore, the above stated reasons, and several more equally strong, which, if necessary, might be adduced in justification of the Emperor's conduct since his own peace with France; considering his old and hardly interrupted friendship with England, and his ancient enmity to France; considering the enormous expense he has had to sustain, and his own duties towards the Empire, His Imperial Majesty could not act otherwise than he has done in this affair, and, therefore, begs the ambassadors of the king of England to do their best towards bringing to an end the differences existing between their master and king Francis, by means of some agreement or other equally acceptable for both parties. To that most desirable end the Emperor is sure to help with all his might.
French. Original draft. 5 pp.
The English ambassadors' reply was that the king of England, their master, had likewise complied with all and every one of the prescriptions of the treaty. His army had been ready and in the field at the appointed time. They had laid siege to Montreuil just as the Imperialists had invested St. Dizier. True enough, though the duke of Norfolk, who was in command of the English forces, had instructions to cross the river Somme, perceiving that the Emperor remained in sight of that fortified town, he (the Duke) prosecuted the siege of Montreuil and remained where he was chiefly for the purpose of securing provisions, which were already beginning to fail. This was also, without doubt, the cause of the Emperor's delay before St. Dizier. The article of the treaty referring to the date and mode of the invasion could not be taken literally and absolutely, but it ought to be understood that each of the allies was to do what seemed to him most convenient and proper for carrying out the undertaking against the common enemy. The English army, moreover, had been of great advantage to the Emperor. Had not the King, their master, considered himself bound by the treaty to assist the Emperor in his invasion of France, surely he might have employed his arms against the Scots rather than at the siege and taking of Boulogne, which, after all, when compared with Scotland, is for us (English) a thing of lesser importance. If the Emperor had spent money in Italy, the king of England had also consumed part of his treasure in war with the Scots, the allies of France. Though the king of England, in 1543, did not openly help and assist the Emperor to the conquest of the duchy of Ghelders, yet it must be owned that the presence of his army, the most numerous and powerful that ever left the shores of England, both at Montreuil and at Boulogne (fn. 7) had considerably disconcerted the French by compelling them to detach part of their army to Picardy, and thereby weaken and diminish their forces on the frontier of Champagne.
“We do not pretend to insinuate (the ambassadors went on to say) that His Imperial Majesty has failed in the least to accomplish the prescriptions of the treaty, but we maintain that on our part we have also complied with them, and yet the fact is that we are still at war with France.” This is a sort of thing at which the people of Flanders and the Low Countries wonder, naturally asking each other how can that be, and discussing the matter in their conversations. The English, on the other hand, could not help wondering why the Emperor does not declare against the French. If the causes of our master's dissension and quarrels with king Francis have been recognised and held as just by His Imperial Majesty, how is it that he has been able to make his own peace with the French and leave the English at war with them? Whatever the King, our master, may have said to the bishop of Arras on the subject of the peace, certain it is that his intention and meaning was that he assented to the peace being made between the Empire and France, provided his own rights as king of England were reserved and safeguarded. The King, our master, trusted that if the Emperor had asked for and obtained hostages for the security of his treaty with France, which treaty was most honourable for himself, he was duly bound to see that our master was somehow included in it, or, at least, that his very just demands should be complied with. However that may be, as the king of France has since made war upon the English, it stands to reason that His Imperial Majesty is bound in justice to declare against him; otherwise people will say, with reason, that we, the English, have been deserted and left to ourselves by His Imperial Majesty. Indeed, the French are already profiting by this state of things, and therefore we beg His Imperial Majesty to be pleased, in conformity with the treaty of alliance, with his own honest answer to our representations on the subject, and his own promises, to compel the king of France to listen to reason and attend to our very just demands.
At another conference the English ambassadors inquired of us: “Do you (the Emperor's ministers) really mean that the King, our master, has not fulfilled all the conditions of the treaty of closer friendship and alliance? If you think so, we are quite ready to dispute the matter and prove to you the contrary. The Emperor, himself, never complained of that before; neither did the bishop of Arras, when he came on his mission to the King, our master, hint at it in the least. Had he done so, we, as his privy councillors, should have heard of it immediately.”
Another argument brought forward by the English ambassadors at the same meeting was that the submission stipulated in the treaty of peace with France was unnecessary, inasmuch as the English demands were perfectly clear and definite, and had been previously approved by the Emperor in the act of signing the treaty of alliance, defensive and offensive, against France; and if the Emperor intends to make use of the said submission he cannot do less than compel the French to satisfy completely the demands of the English, for it cannot be supposed that, by the fact of his having become the friend of the former through the peace concluded with them, he should now turn against us, his good and faithful allies. Nor would the French have consented to the Emperor becoming the judge and arbiter of their differences unless they believed or imagined that he would ultimately decide in their favour.
Our answer was that the King, their master, might, as they said, have fulfilled all the conditions of the treaty; so had the Emperor for his own part, as could be proved by reference to its articles. Paget had offered in his master's name that, by the 10th of June at the latest, 30,000 Englishmen should cross the Channel and land for the undertaking of Boulogne, the remainder of the force being destined for the frontier of Picardy. As to the ambassadors' assertion that some people in Flanders and the Low Countries had found it expedient to undertake the siege of Montreuil, neither Praët nor Granvelle knew anything about it, nor had the people, who gave such a counsel, any mandate whatever from His Imperial Majesty. Even if Mons. du Rœux had entertained any idea about it, he certainly did not communicate it in an official manner, inasmuch as when consulted upon the march of the allied armies upon Paris he proposed four different ways of advancing on that capital, in none of which did Montreuil figure as an obstacle to be got rid of before proceeding further. Nor could the siege of St. Dizier by the Emperor be alleged as an excuse by the ambassadors, inasmuch as that town is by no means so close to the frontier of Flanders as Montreuil is to that of Calais. When the Emperor arrived at St. Dizier he had already reduced by force of arms Ligny and Commeray; if he did stop on his way and remain before St. Dizier, it was in consequence of the English not advancing, as Secretary Paget had proposed, nay, promised, that they would, without letting His Imperial Majesty know before or afterwards anything to the contrary. That, and no other, was the reason for His Imperial Majesty stopping at St. Dizier for the purpose of securing provisions for his men, which he did with great difficulty and much inconvenience and expense; since, being, as he was already, within the enemy's country, he could not secure the arrival of the same without detaching right and left divisions of his army to escort the convoys. Had the English army pushed forward, as had been stipulated and agreed, there would have been no need for the Emperor to stop at St. Dizier, and the difficulties that arose in consequence of that delay would not have arisen, and both the allies would have gained their object by marching on Paris, as it had been stipulated and concerted. Besides which, neither the Sieur de Praët nor Granvelle was on the spot and able to remonstrate against the king of England's non-observance of the articles of the treaty. The bishop of Arras, himself, had no mandate from the Emperor to speak to the King on the subject, as may easily be proved by Secretary Paget's despatches, of which a copy is at hand. This was an important fact to establish, inasmuch as the English ambassadors in their peroration had uttered words implying that the Emperor had not acted rightly in making his peace with France.
To this argument of the Imperial ministers, the English ambassadors replied that they did not want to see the copy of Secretary Paget's notes or despatches, nor of the offers which that secretary and ambassador might have made in their master's name, but went on insisting in general terms that there had been no infraction of the treaty by the English.
As to their asserting that, by undertaking the sieges of Boulogne and Montreuil, they, the English, had been of great use to the Emperor, and had diverted part of the army which might otherwise have been employed against Him, the assertion was plainly contradicted by the well-known fact of their having, on the contrary, withdrawn almost the whole of those they had in Picardy and Normandy, the two provinces of France most threatened, in order to meet the Imperial army on the side of Champagne and Burgundy. In short, that no one could pretend to say that the sieges of Boulogne and Montreuil by the English could really have influenced the king of France to listen to reason and come to terms with the Emperor and with the king of England conjointly, which was the sole and principal aim of the treaty.
With regard to the wish expressed by the ambassadors that the Emperor would make no difficulty in sanctioning and supporting the claims of the English according to the letter of the treaty of closer friendship and alliance, both defensive and offensive, it is quite clear and evident that the meaning of the article was that each of the contracting parties was to support and favour the claims and demands of the other; but those claims and demands were not clearly specified, besides which the king of England, himself, had voluntarily abandoned some of them, for he had evidently disapproved of those contained in the note which His Imperial Majesty sent from St. Dizier specifying His own demands, however reasonable and moderate; and, therefore, though His Imperial Majesty by His treaty with France had settled His own conditions, it did not follow from that that those of the king of England, his ally, should also be considered as settled in the same manner, without modification of any sort, and merely by virtue of the Emperor's peace with France. The hostages, moreover, had been given, and there was no plausible reason to justify the retaining of them for the sake of compelling king Francis to comply with the king of England's demands.
For the above specified reasons, the ambassadors' request that the Emperor should declare war against king Francis and consider him his enemy, owing to the French having attacked not only Boulogne but Guînes also, is quite inadmissible. Now that the French have laid siege to Boulogne, to the defence of which the Emperor is not bound by treaty, it follows that He cannot accede on that account to the English ambassadors' request, besides which there will be plenty of time for that. Since the war between France and England is now reduced to Boulogne, peace, if made, ought to be exclusively based upon that town. (fn. 8)
French. Original draft. 6 pp.


  • 1. “Que cela seroit chose à l'avanteage de v[ost]re. mate et surcroit de reputation de vous declarer contre lea françois, à la quelle (à quoy ?) v[ost]re. mte estoit tenu par traité et serviroit aussi pour cloire (clôre) la bouche aux gens qui pourroient mal parler de que sa dite mate s'estoit raise hors de guerre en les y delaissant.”
  • 2. “Quelques nngs des ministres du roy en ont parlé impertinenment et que s'en tenoit divers propos entre les anglois pour mal imprimer sa Majesté comme si elle heust (eut) injustement et induement (sic) traicté de paix et delaissé le dit roy d'angleterre en guerre.”
  • 3. “Sur quoy la response fust telle que les dits ambassadeurs sçavent, et meames que le dit sieur roy ne pouvoit entendre à la dite emprinse ny (ne y) assister, et que ce actendu (entendu) sa dite mate traictà avec les dits françoys reservant le dit sr roy et ses droits et fist le mieulx quelle poirvoit pour se retirer du danger ou il presuposoit et tenoit que sa dite mate imperiale y eetoit.”
  • 4. “Alors sa mate imperiale auroit plus facilement obtenu sen droits contre le roy de France, et imposé dee conditions beaucoup plus dures.”
  • 5. “Ni le dit sieur roy ni ses subjects ont cause pour prendre scrupule en l'amytié entiere et parfaite que sa dite mate imperiale a avec le dit sr roy d'Angleterre, ny y a personne vivante que saichant comme les choses sont passées qu'il ne doige (doibve) tenir sa dite mate pour tres grandement justifiée de oe qu'elle en a faict.”
  • 6. “Malgré les solicitations du roy de France beaucop (sic) souvent plus pressantes et aigrea que les anglois ne pensent.”
  • 7. “Et si n'avoit leur faveur peu prouffitter l'annee passée à la conqueste de Gheldres ny estoit venue ceste annee venue bien àpropos l'armee si puissante quite avoient lieu au coustel des dit Boulogne et Montreuil.”
  • 8. This detailed account of the conferences between the earl of Hertford and the bishop of Winchester on the one side, Granvelle and Praët on the other, Dr. Wotton and Joyce Bave occasionally attending (State Papers, Vol. X., pp. 152 et seq.), is mentioned in the Emperor's letter to his ambassadors. It finishes abruptly, as has been seen, to recommence again on the 9th of November, and is indorsed: “Les demandes du Roy d'Angleterre, et les raisons qu'a sa mate imperiale pour ne pas les luy accorder.”