Spain: January 1545, 11-20

Pages 23-26

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

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January 1545, 11–20

11 Jan. Vienna Imp. Arch. 6. Chapuys and Van der Delft to the Queen Dowager of Hungary.
Your Majesty will learn, both by the verbal report of M. de Turquin, the bearer of the present, and from the letters we are writing to his Majesty, of the decision which has been adopted respecting the complaints made by your Majesty through us. The people here are much annoyed that the news of the embargo of English subjects and property in the Netherlands should have anticipated the courtesy and conciliation they wished to show to your Majesty. They gave us to understand that on the same day that the news arrived, but before its reception, the Earl of Hertford and Secretary Paget were coming to tell us that your Majesty's complaints should all be redressed, as you desired. Nevertheless we are very glad that his Majesty (i.e., the Emperor) took the step he did; not only in respect of the present matter but to prevent a repetition of such affairs. We hope it will make these people more tractable for the future.
London, 11 January, 1545.
11 Jan. Vienna Imp. Arch. 7. Chapuys and Van der Delft to the Emperor.
On the 9th instant at daybreak the King sent a very pressing and affectionate message to us, begging us to visit him at Greenwich, as he wished to communicate to us a matter of great importance. Just as we were setting out M. de Turquin arrived very opportunely and delivered to us your Majesty's letter, and in the barge on the way down the river we learnt the particulars of his mission. When we arrived at Greenwich, the Councillors began by saying that the King was exceedingly astonished to learn that, instead of your Majesty doing as you promised the Earl of Hertford and the Bishop of Winchester you would do: namely send to a minister here to satisfy him (the King) with regard to his claims, strange and scandalous news had reached him that your Majesty had arrested the persons, ships and property of his subjects in the Netherlands; even his own agents who were there on his business of obtaining payment of a considerable sum of money which he had ordered to be raised in Antwerp. (fn. 1) This was prevented by the embargo mentioned, to the great injury of many and to the loss of credit by the King, which ought to have been considered; especially as the arrest was effected without reason, justice or law, and in violation of the treaties. It was impossible to plead as a reason for it that certain Flemish vessels had been embargoed here; for surely the King's honour and justice, and those of the ministers, might be trusted to the extent that they would not embargo vessels belonging to the Emperor's subjects without good and legitimate cause. This was the case with the cargoes of herrings, which, like all other victuals it was prohibited to supply to the enemies of a friendly state. They (the Councillors) were notified from various quarters that the greater part of the merchandise in question belonged to Frenchmen, and had been fraudulently shipped in the names of certain subjects of your Majesty. For this reason, and in the ordinary process of law, the ships were subject to arrest; and consequently the seizures made in Flanders were iniquitous and insulting. They said that the other day they had submitted to the King the statements of the plaintiffs, (fn. 2) which he had handed to them; and his Majesty had ordered the case to be considered by the whole of the Council. As a consequence, he had yesterday instructed the Earl of Hertford and Secretary Paget to inform us that the ships would be released. We replied to this in accordance with the instructions brought by M. de Turquin; adding that they might recollect that, when two or three English ships were arrested in Flanders, at the time when M. de Bossu (fn. 3) had come to despatch the vessels for the expedition against the Turk, the arrest in that case being quite legitimate and in accordance with the treaty, the King had immediately ordered the seizure of all the Flemish ships in English ports. With regard to the pretext they (the Councillors) alleged for the stoppage of the vessels here, there was no ground for it whatever, as was clearly proved by the fact that they had hitherto not been able to prove any of their allegations. To speak frankly, it seemed to me that reason and honesty should have led the King in the present ambiguous and questionable relations between the countries, to have sent an envoy specially to your Majesty as you had sent M. de Turquin to explain the whole matter, if he went so far as to seize, as he had done, a whole fleet of vessels belonging to your Majesty's subjects. It was impossible for your Majesty to have proceeded more moderately than you had done, in overlooking for so long without resentment such action as theirs, in the belief that the King would order the release of the. ships. Even if the merchandise did belong to Frenchmen and it was necessary to seize it, there was surely no reason for preventing the sailing of the ships that were empty. The King complained of the seizure (in Flanders), on the ground that the merchants whom he had ordered to pay the money in Antwerp, had been prevented from doing so, but he should also consider how many poor merchants might suffer in credit, honour and property, by the stoppage of the ships here. As we had already told them, in order to avoid Corinthian justice (i.e., execution first and trial afterwards—Jedburgh justice) they ought to have their proofs complete before they carry out their sentence. During the five weeks that these ships had been detained here there had been plenty of time to have ascertained their intentions; and, as for the statement of the Earl of Hertford and the Bishop of Winchester, that they had heard as they passed through Dunkirk from natives of the place that the French came there to buy herrings, which your Majesty's subjects carried to France, there is no sufficient evidence of its truth. It may have been said by worthless scamps simply to please them: on the other hand the seamen's books and the merchants' marks prove that the allegations were untrue, and the arrests ought not to have been made. If they (the Councillors) knew the bitter complaints that reached your Majesty from your subjects about it they would not be surprised at your Majesty's action. The Flemings say that it would be more profitable for them if a state of open war existed than to continue long in this way; for in case of war, either they would hot sail at all, or they would provide for their protection: in any case they would escape this present miserable ill-treatment. After some further conversation, the Chancellor and the Duke of Suffolk went to report to the King, and on their return after they had conferred at length with the rest of the Council, we went to dinner and subsequently resumed the discussion. The King, however, sent for M. de Turquin, saying that if we liked we might accompany him. For several reasons we thought better not to do so, since the mission was not an intricate one, and we had no doubt that M. de Turquin would fulfill it fittingly; besides which we thought that the King would speak more freely with M. de Turquin alone. We considered we should be better employed by gaining time and continuing the discussion with the Councillors. We were with them until four o'clock in the afternoon, when they went to the King. On their return they brought us in substance what is contained in the note which accompanies this, signed by the Bishop of Winchester and Secretary Paget, who came to us on the following day, in order to write the note. The note, however, was not settled without some altercation, as the draft they brought with them was sufficiently punctilious and vain, as your Majesty will learn from M. de Turquin, together with the other particulars of his negotiation with the King. Amongst other things, the Bishop (of Winchester) and Paget gave us notice that the King had ordered the Deputy of Calais to remedy the excesses committed (by the English) in the neighbourhood of Arras, and the King prayed your Majesty to be good enough to order that the French should not be allowed to convey victuals through your territory, as they do daily from Theuroanne to Ardres; and in case your Majesty did not think fit to do this, that the English should be permitted the same privilege as the French. We willingly agreed to make the representation requested and promised to convey the reply to the King.
Under correction, it seems to us that it would be well to please the King and avoid difficulties by immediately ordering, if it so please your Majesty, that no victuals should be conveyed to France, even by sea; and also by proclaiming by placard or otherwise, that no person shall convey under cover of his name, and especially by sea, any goods belonging either to English or French subjects; in the same way that this King did some years since when he was neutral. There is another thing that we must not forget to say; namely, that the Councillors urged us to beg your Majesty to order your officers not to give occasion in future for such scandalous proceedings; and they (the English), on their side, would do the same. They begged that if by chance at a future time their naval forces misbehaved themselves, and committed any offence upon your subjects, your Majesty would bear in mind, that these fighting men are accustomed to do such insolent acts; but that as soon as the offence is known here the King will immediately cause the sufferers to be indemnified, and the delinquents fittingly punished.
Your Majesty will have seen by our previous letters that we could wish for nothing better than the step that your Majesty has taken. (fn. 4) It has rendered these people as supple and tractable as possible, as M. de Turquin will report.
The Bishop and Paget also said that, as the English were now alone in the war, and the French were boasting that, not only would they invade Boulogne, but also Calais and Guisnes, the King would need many more troops, both horse and foot, than he had. It was impossible to convey them to the places he held in France, except through your Majesty's dominions, no matter whether they were Germans or Italians or both; and as time was getting short, he was obliged without delay to engage such soldiers. The money and time in raising them would, however, be wasted unless he was assured of your Majesty's goodwill; and could depend upon obtaining such safe-conducts and passports as, and when, he needed them. He (Paget) begged us, in the King's name, to write to your Majesty and do our best to obtain this assurance. To tell the truth we do not doubt that he will very soon endeavour to procure these passports, more for the purpose of publishing both in Italy and Germany the fact of his having got them, and to arouse the jealousy of the King of France, than to make use of them. We pray your Majesty to tell us what answer we should make.
London, 11 January, 1545.
Docketed, “From the ambassadors in England, 11th January, brought by M. de Torquoyn and received at Brussels, the 17th of the same month.”


  • 1. Apparently, from the context, money to be raised for the purpose of repaying advances made to the King by Antwerp bankers.
  • 2. That is to say the claimants to the Flemish vessels and goods seized in England.
  • 3. Adolph de Bourgogne, Sieur de Beures, called de Bossu, Admiral of Flanders (d. December, 1540).
  • 4. i.e., in embargoing the English property in Flanders.