Spain: June 1545, 16-20

Pages 130-139

Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 8, 1545-1546. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1904.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. All rights reserved.


June 1545, 16–20

18 June. Vienna Imp. Arch. 67. Van der Delft to the Emperor.
Since writing the earlier letters which accompany this (such letters having been written to he sent by the first opportunity), I have learnt on good authority that a Secretary of the Queen of England named Richard Butler is in some part of Germany, where he must have been a month or six weeks before your Majesty left Brussels. His mission is to solicit secretly the German princes to form a league with this King, which seems to me, Sire, to he a point of the highest importance, as touching the religious question, I have thought well, therefore, to advise your Majesty of it at once by the bearer, who is going also for the purpose of complaining to your Majesty of the seizure and detention of his merchandise, the same answer having been given to him as to the others, referring him to the Admiralty Court. As he was ready to depart, I have begged him to lose no time, for the reason stated above.
The merchants on 'Change here have news that 24 or 25 French galleys, with about 40 great warships, have come to Brittany. Fresh ships are constantly being sent to sea here to join the admiral, who they say, will have 20,000 men, without counting victuallers. The Dukes of Suffolk and Norfolk depart to-day, but I know not whither. Warning has been given here to all gentlemen burgesses and peasants, to be ready with arms to join the standards when the beacons are lit, as is the custom here, on the hill-tops, towers, and other eminences every three miles. By this organisation they say they can muster 25,000 or 30,000 men within two hours; and even in a very short time they can have the whole country under arms. Whatever side, therefore, an enemy approaches, they have a great muster of men ready to receive him, and they are very confident of their strength in consequence of this, being delighted to see their enemy near.
London, 18th June, 1545.
Endorsed:—“From the ambassador in England 18 June received at Worms on the 25th of the same month.”
18 June. Vienna Imp. Arch. 68. Van der Delft to the Queen Dowager.
I am writing to the Emperor as per copy enclosed; and as the matter is so important, I cannot avoid likewise advising your Majesty. I also wish to say that I have been informed from two quarters that the King is secretly warning his subjects and merchants abroad to secure their property in good time, whilst those who are in England are forbidden to export any merchandise. As this is a dangerous thing to write, unless it be true, I have not ventured to touch upon it in my letters to the Emperor, until I have been able to make further enquiries as to its correctness. I have, however, thought well to inform your Majesty, who may perhaps discover if it be true by enquiring in Antwerp or elsewhere, and inform his Majesty if you consider advisable. I will communicate to your Majesty what I can learn further on the point.
London, 18 June, 1545.
18 June. Vienna Imp. Arch. 69. Van der Delft to the Burgomaster and Corporation of Bruges.
Your letters of 9th instant received by bearer, and I have, in accordance with your request, given to the bearer all the help I could for the fulfilment of his mission. But withal, the only reply he bears is to the effect that Secretary Paget (who is the principal adviser of the King) having read the request I had attached to the visé of the safe conduct you sent me, simply shrugged his shoulders, and gave the documents back to your man. I am not surprised at this, for I predicted it when I saw that your man was only authorised to ask this King to grant a safe conduct similar to that which you sent. So much importance is attached to such a matter here, that even if half the Councillors had been gained to support the request, I doubt whether you would have succeeded with the King himself. As it depends entirely upon the special grace of the King, and must proceed from his own mouth, the only way is to gain friends about him. With regard to your request that I should intercede with the King, you must know, gentlemen, that on no account whatever can this be considered a part of my duty, and I could not undertake to do such a thing, until I had fuller instructions from the Queen (Dowager) than are contained in the letters she writes to me, ordering me only to give such assistance as I could, which I have done. You may consider whether there is any other service I can do you, and if there be, and you will inform me of it, I will do the best I can according to my abilities.
London, 18 June, 1545.
18 June. Vienna Imp. Arch. 70. Chapuys to the Emperor.
I received yesterday morning your Majesty's letter enclosing the despatches for the ambassador in England; and as the deciphering of the despatch took a long time I have hardly yet been able to master its contents. I should have liked to have time to consider maturely the whole question before writing to the ambassador, but as I understand the King shortly intends to visit the sea coast facing France, and in that case the ambassador could not proceed with the negotiation I thought better not to delay the courier. The dispatch, moreover, is so full and circumspect that, neither I nor any man living could in my opinion add anything to it, and it would have been not only waste of time but a great piece of rashness for me to have attempted to do so. Besides this the ambassador is not only clever but has already a better knowledge of the English mode of proceeding than I have. Nevertheless, in my desire to be considered rash or foolish rather than disobedient, I have written hastily to the Ambassador to the effect contained in my letter to M. de Granvelle.
After dinner to-day I was again with the Bishop of Westminster and Secretary Petre, and took the opportunity to speak of two ships belonging to Quintana de Done, that had been seized in England and certain other private affairs. After some discussion I assured them that, considering how important it was that peace and unity should continue to exist between your Majesty and their King, in the interests of their successors and of the subjects on both sides, I, who had been the instrument for establishing this friendship, would not cease night or day to seek means to increase it, and to extirpate every cause for dissension or suspicion. This, I said, had moved me to recollect the request which had been addressed to Van der Delft and myself on behalf of the King, that we would preadvise your Majesty to make provision for furnishing the aid stipulated in the treaty of alliance, in the event of the French joining the Scots for the purpose of invading England, as the rumour now ran that they intended to do. I had considered that perhaps the King might one of these days make the request, in consequence of the news of the great muster of forces the French were making for the recovery of Boulogne; and, influenced by the feelings which I had stated, I thought well to point out to them that, if the King had any such intention, it would be advisable that matters should be so managed that your Majesty and your advisers should have no legitimate reason for refusing it. I was quite sure, I said, that your Majesty was still determined to fulfil honourably, and to the utmost, your obligations under-the treaty, and would be sorry to have to decline their request, but, to be frank with them, it seemed to me that the delay that had occurred in redressing the injuries done to your Majesty's subjects did not exhibit the good faith of which Secretary Paget had so emphatically assured your Majesty. Still less auspicious were the seizures recently made, and those that were daily taking place, which seemed to me most extraordinary, and quite at variance with the agreement made with Paget. I had, moreover, heard it said, though I did not believe it, that the King was seeking to make some arrangement with the protestants of the Empire; which would be contrary to the treaty as well as to common honesty.
I went on to say that the King would be wise to recognise the treaty of peace which your Majesty had concluded with France by his consent (which was the real truth) and that steps should be taken to prevent their people, even courtiers, from being so froward as to rail at the treaty of peace. It is true that not much importance need be attached to what such people said, since your Majesty's virtue and integrity were justified before the world, but the worst of it was that it gave rise to the presumption that these people would not dare to speak as they did, if they were not aware that the King thought in the same way, and would be pleased at what they said. This might give your Majesty reason for resentment; and my own opinion was that, not only was the King's recognition of the treaty of peace necessary, but also his express approbation of it, since the French were ceaselessly importuning your Majesty not to consider yourself bound to aid the King of England, on the ground that the reservation in favour of the King of England introduced into the treaty of peace was nullified by his refusal to recognise the treaty itself.
Furthermore, I said, touching the reason for my return to England, that it appeared to me that the King had been more anxious to settle the matter respecting which he had sent the Earl of Hertford and the Bishop of Winchester to Flanders, than to verify his contention with regard to his consent to the treaty of peace. (fn. 1) From the first interview that my colleague and I had with him, besides addressing me in very strange fashion, he had told us that he did not intend to negotiate with us, except in writing, and if we had no instructions to that effect he would send a special courier to obtain them from your Majesty, which he had not done; nor had he subsequently made any appearance of a desire to discuss matters. It is true that two days afterwards, the Earl of Hertford, the Bishop of Winchester and Paget had come to us, but that was at our request, in order that we might repeat to them the rest of our instructions, which we had not recited to the King. Their coming was owing to no action of the King, who simply gave them instructions to listen to what we had to say; and after it was communicated to him and the affair had been debated, we were never spoken to on the subject, except incidentally and by way of pastime. The demands made upon your Majesty by the Earl of Hertford and the Bishop of Winchester were certainly most extraordinary; namely to declare war (against France) and to interdict trade between your subjects and the French. The latter prohibition would have been especially grievous to your Majesty's subjects, already so greatly prejudiced by the recent wars, and the trade in question in no wise injured the King of England, whose action, in pressing for the prohibition of trade, could not be imagined to proceed from any friendly motive; even if your Majesty, in virtue of the treaty of alliance, had furnished him with the aid stipulated.
I said nothing to them about commuting the armed contingent for a money subsidy, in the belief that the King will take it very badly; especially for the reasons mentioned in the letters to the Queen. According to my poor foolish fancy, I think we ought to leave that to the very last, as it will make the King very discontented and indignant; and perhaps without reason, as the French forces may be deterred by fear of the English from going to Scotland, where, moreover, in any case, they could not maintain themselves, owing to the great scarcity of victuals existing. If they intend to waste time by besieging Boulogne, your Majesty is not bound in the slightest degree to aid in its defence. With regard to a French attempt against Calais, the English themselves have no misgiving on that point, both on account of the (French) lack of victuals, and because they believe your Majesty would not allow the French to pass by way of Gravelines. If, on the other hand, they undertake the siege of Guisnes, they can only do it by exhausting your Majesty's adjoining territories of provisions; and even then they would be short of victuals. But supposing that there is an appearance of the aid really having to be furnished, your Majesty is not bound to grant it until six weeks after the actual invasion, and the consequent demand of the King, so that you would then have plenty of time to suggest the commutation. On the other hand, if the ambassador (Van der Delft) mentions the suggestion, now, even as if of his own accord and unofficially, they (the English) are so suspicious that they would be sure to think it came from your Majesty, or at least it would give them an opportunity of guessing your Majesty's intentions, which they might try to frustrate by alleging that your Majesty promised the King to raise troops in Germany for his service whom your Majesty could pay.
The bishop (Thirlby) and Secretary Petre thanked me warmly for my good offices on the King's behalf, and assured me of the King's great desire to maintain friendship with your Majesty. The bishop then began to apologise very emphatically for having somewhat warmly denied at a meeting of the Conference yesterday that the conclusion of peace between your Majesty and France had been with the consent of the King of England. It was impossible, he said, for him to help denying it, as the assertion was made so publicly, and he might have been blamed if he had remained silent. For his part, he continued, he spoke of such matters unwillingly, but it might be supposed that, not only in England, but throughout Christendom, it would be said that your Majesty had drawn the King into war, and had then cast upon his shoulders the whole of the burden. As to seeking an understanding with the Protestants, the King had never thought of doing such a thing; and had now no representative in Germany to undertake such a negotiation. With regard to the redress of injuries done to your Majesty's subjects, he had not up to the present learnt of any injury having been done to them that had not been redressed; and he doubted not that, if there was any vessel now detained in England in contravention of Paget's agreement, proper steps would be taken in the matter. They both of them assured me of this, and said that your Majesty's subjects had no such ground for their lamentations as the English had against the subjects of your Majesty, especially against Spaniards, as had been proved by the claims and complaints which they (Thirlby and Petre) had produced. To say the truth, they have brought forward a large number of such complaints; but they are all old grievances, and have already been dealt with judicially. They (Thirlby and Petre) said that they had heard that reprisals had been authorised in Spain against the English, which they thought very strange; and the King would have much reason to be offended at it. He would have equally great cause for resentment if he heard that his subjects' testimony was not admitted in courts of law in Spain, on the ground that they were heretics, and that their, claims were thus forfeited. They gave no answer of importance to the other points upon which I had touched; but said, with reference to my remark about the King's conversation with me, that however that might be, the King had never had a bad opinion of me, and that he still retained his regard for me was proved by the fact that, when they took their leave of him, and expressed their insufficiency for the mission entrusted to them, in this conference, owing to their inexperience in such affairs, the King replied that there was no danger, since I should be here, well informed of the matter, and would tell the pure truth, against no matter whom. I believe this was invented by the bishop and the secretary; for I am decidedly of opinion that the King had no wish that I should be present when these affairs were debated. With regard to the existence of any sign of negotiation between the Kings of England and France, I beg to say that I can perceive none whatever. It is true that from the conversation related above, it would seem that the King of England would be willing to listen to overtures, from a desire to restore repose to Christendom, rather than from any fear of the French; for whom he did not care a button. The Secretary (Petre) said that very likely, before many days had passed, the French would be too busy looking to the defence of their own country to think of invading that of another King. The King (of England) he said, had, or soon would have, quite 300 ships at sea, carrying 20,000 soldiers; whilst the land forces, on any side the French might attack, would not be inferior in numbers. For this purpose the King had despatched to various parts nearly all the lords that surrounded him; the Duke of Suffolk going to the Midlands, the Duke of Norfolk to his own country, the Earl of Hertford to the Scottish Border, Lord Privy Seal (i.e., Lord Russell) to Essex, Lord St. John and the Master of the Horse (Sir Anthony Browne) to Southampton and Chichester. By this means not a port was left undefended; besides which the King has for the purpose of resisting the French fleet, and to send across the sea, four or five thousand men who are already beginning to embark. Although there had been a talk of 30,000 men for Scotland (to be raised by Scotland ?) very few had really been raised, even since the news that the French fleet had passed the Straits of Gibraltar (fn. 2); and the bishop and the secretary (i.e., Thirlby and Petre) think that the Scots are very short of food.
The English are daily strengthening the towns of Guisnes with the intention of holding it, their only fear being the lack of victuals, of which their supply is not large, even of wheat there and at Calais, as the whole of their stores are destined for Boulogne.
Touching the public opinion of the English regarding the war; so far as I can learn—and I have heard it from innumerable people—there is not a soul with any wit in England who does not blaspheme at the war, and most of them have christened Boulogne by the name of “ the new Milan, “ (fn. 3) which will bring about their destruction. The money for the prosecution of the war has been raised by the King since his return from Boulogne, by means of a subsidy exacted from his subjects under the name of a benevolence, and the bishop and the secretary assert that the proceeds of it exceed 400,000 ducats. I expect he (the King) will have sold some of the church revenues, as he began to do when he crossed the Channel last. It is said that he has drawn great profit from the abasement of the coinage; hut withal, there is an appearance of money being short; for, as I hear, the garrisons have not been paid for some months, and the King is being dunned to pay his other debts. I say nothing of the conclusions that may be drawn from the King's desire to raise 400,000 ducats in Antwerp, for the security of which he has a large quantity of lead from the ruined churches. There was a talk also of taking the revenues of the collegiate churches; of which I doubt not your Majesty will be fully informed by the ambassador in England.
Bourbourg, 18th June, 1545.
Endorsed:— “Chapuys, from Bourbourg 18th June, received at Worms 2nd July 1545.”
18 June. Vienna Imp. Arch. 71. Chapuys to Van der Delft.
I received this morning the enclosed dispatch from his Majesty, which was not deciphered until between 5 and 6 o'clock in the afternoon; and a considerable portion of the time which remained for me to consider the dispatch, was occupied in discoursing with M. de Roeulx and the Chancellor of the Order, who came to visit me. I have therefore lacked leisure, I will not say to meditate, but even to give proper consideration to the very important matter contained in the despatch. I am extremely sorry for this, although the despatch itself has been so carefully and wisely drafted by his Majesty and M. de Granvelle, that the need for my consideration was not very pressing; particularly also as it is addressed to you, who have no need for my trifling advice. If his Majesty had not desired it—ut sub Minervam, etc.—it would have been superogatory even to have addressed the document through me; for the matter is of such great importance as to be beyond not only my advice, but even my comprehension. Although anyone would consider it a great honour, I do not rejoice very much at it myself, for fear that it will only show up my own incompetence, and lower the opinion in which hitherto his Majesty has held me. Well; leaving aside these prologues, I may say that in view of the wording of the dispatch, his Majesty might repeat what Cato said in speaking of Cæsar and Pompey, “Quern fugiam video, quern sequar nescio,” though in my poor foolish judgment I hope that in the end his Majesty's great good fortune will enable him to come out of the main business without inconvenience and to the satisfaction of the parties. On the side of Scotland there is not much appearance that the case for demanding the aid will arise, seeing that they (the Scots) have been badly punished, and are so disunited and suspicious of each other. The great desire will only be for peace, and they are neither able nor willing to keep at war. Even if they were at their best, they would hardly be able to invade England in the force needful for the Emperor's aid to be demanded under the treaty. With regard to the French army on this side, no matter what noise the French may make, it would be utterly impossible for them to keep the field for six weeks, owing to their want of victuals. This is notorious, and has been repeated by divers soldiers who have left the French camp from pure famine. If this is really the case, the French will be gone before his Majesty is bound to furnish aid, either in men or money. I confess that this argument is a very uncertain one, and I should take care not to use it to anyone but you, who I know will, for friendship sake, excuse it. If one could be a wizard to know the truth beforehand, it would be an excellent reason for promptly and confidently granting the King's demand, without any risk of being called upon to fulfil our promise. But verily, as we cannot know the future, it will be necessary, as his Majesty prudently says, to keep the thing in general terms so that no distrust (of us) may be felt.
As our principal object in the meanwhile is to gain time, my opinion is that it will be best not to hurry in opening the matter to the Council, but to let them make the first approaches. They will not fail to do this when you are with them; and you might seek opportunities to visit them. There would have been no necessity for me to have given you this advice if before writing it I had read the latter part of his Majesty's letter, where he expressly instructs you to the same effect.
It appears to me also, that we should for the present avoid mentioning the substitution of the armed aid by a money subsidy, as the King will be very much annoyed by such a suggestion, since he attaches more importance, as he says, to the official assistance being given than to the money. As matters are not so very pressing, and it may yet happen that the aid may not be needed, there will be time afterwards to bring forward reasons for our not sending the aid in the form of troops. There is another reason for deferring the mention of a pecuniary aid. It is quite possible that when the Kings of France and England are in arms, the Emperor may consider it necessary, for the safety of his own frontiers, to assemble an armed force, and this fact may cause the Kings of France and England to be more inclined to peace. In this case and the aid demanded by the King of of England being unnecessary the Emperor might in accordance with the treaty, cast upon the King the whole or part of the expense he had incurred in raising these troops, on the excuse that they were intended for him.
His Majesty has very wisely laid down the conditions he requires before he grants the aid, as otherwise his Majesty's expense would be useless, since they (the English) would find as many pretexts for haggling afterwards as they do now. With regard to his Majesty's demand that the King of England should ratify his (the Emperor's) treaty of friendship with France, it seems to me unadvisable to convey the idea to the English that the point is of vital importance to the Emperor himself. Since his Majesty made peace with France by consent of the King of England the latter should recognise the treaty in order to deprive the English courtiers of a pretext for speaking strangely and untruly about it, and also to stop the French from alleging with good reason, that the King of England cannot claim the benefit of the clause inserted in the treaty by the Emperor in his favour, unless he recognises the treaty itself. This is all that occurs to me to say with regard to the dispatch, which itself is so well drafted that any addition or alteration to it would be vain. I doubt not, moreover, that you will conduct everything as dexterously and prudently as need be. You will, I am sure, also, take thought and counsel as you go on (in arena), and if you choose to consult me I shall take it as a favour, and will write you my poor advice, since this is the will of our master, which will excuse my temerity to you who know my ineptitude.
You will note what I and my colleagues write to you about this arbitration conference. I have only to add to it that the English deputies have recently produced certain affidavits made in London on the 3rd instant, by which they try to prove that the Spaniards who are represented by Carrion (fn. 4) have been recompensed for their losses by the King of France out of the English property at Rouen. In view of this, Carrion has left here for Rouen to obtain evidence to the contrary.
With regard to the books mentioned in the letters, M. de Bonvise can help you better than anyone.
Bourbourg, 18 June, 1545.
19 June. Vienna Imp. Arch. 72. The Emperor to the Chancellor of Brabant.
We are receiving daily complaints of the depredations committed by the English upon our Flemish and Spanish subjects, for which neither restitution nor redress can be obtained. The exportation of merchandise from England to our dominions has also been prohibited, and English property is being openly withdrawn from our territories. (fn. 5) As our sister the Queen Dowager, to whom we are now writing, is at present far away in Friesland, and delay may he inadvisable, we command you, as soon as you receive this, to proceed to Antwerp, and make secret enquiries there as to whether there are any signs that the English are directly or indirectly withdrawing their property and merchandise from Antwerp, Bruges, Bergen or elsewhere. If this be the case, you will take such measures as may be possible to prevent it, and if this cannot be done without the knowledge of the English, you will tell them that your action is owing to the complaints and grievances of our subjects, who have been plundered, and for their indemnity, until such time as we or our sister shall order otherwise. Inform us of what you do. We enclose a letter to the rentmaster of Zeeland, ordering him to follow your instructions to a similar effect.
Worms, 19 June, 1545.
(20?) June. Vienna Imp. Arch. 73. The Emperor to Chapuys.
You have already heard of the fresh depredations committed by the English on our subjects both Flemish and Spanish, without justification, release or redress. In order, in any case, to obtain some sort of indemnity for our people, we are writing to our sister the Queen Dowager, and to our Chancellor of Brabant, the letters of which you will find copies enclosed. It will be well for you to inform our ambassador in England of this, and at the same time write to him your own advice on the subject, as you know best the character of Englishmen, and the way in which the ambassador should bear himself. We also enclose for him a letter written yesterday of which we send you a copy. We urge you again to fulfil the task with which we have entrusted you. We have received your letters of 11th instant, for which we thank you.
Worms,—June, 1545.


  • 1. That is to say, that he had been more desirous of again drawing the Emperor into war with France than of defending his contention that the peace between the Emperor and France had been made without his expressed consent.
  • 2. The French galleys with, it was said, a strong Papal contingent coming from the Mediterranean to re-inforce the French fleet in the Channel.
  • 3. Referring doubtless to the terrible consequences which had ensued to Francis from the occupation of Milan.
  • 4. These were certain Spanish merchants of Burgos, Santander, etc. The signatures to Lope de Carrion's power of attorney are those of Juan de la Peña, Pedro de Porres and Diego Pardo. Some curious references to Lope de Carrion, who was a Spaniard established in London, will be found in the “Spanish Chronicle of Henry VIII.”
  • 5. It will be noted that this is a great overstatement of the case. Both Van der Delft and Chapuys only suggested that a secret movement was talked of, by which as much English property as possible should be kept out of the dominions of the Emperor, in consequence of the insecurity of it against arrest. Chapuys in his letter to the Chancellor of Brabant, and to Granvelle (25 June) pages 141 and 142, seems to have got frightened at the effect of his news.