Spain: August 1545, 21-31

Pages 234-242

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

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August 1545, 21–31

21 Aug. Vienna Imp Arch. 125. Cornelius Scepperus to the Queen Dowager.
I hope that your Majesty will have learned from the letter I wrote to the President (Scors) of my arrival in England, and I now proceed to report to your Majesty what has happened since. Just as I was about to mount horse the day before yesterday with the object of seeking the King, an Englishman came to me; one of those who last year went to the muster of Landenberger's troops at Liege. He had been despatched from the Court and was on his way to Flanders; and expressed great delight at my coming, only regretting that he could not remain here to entertain me. I asked him which way he was going, he answered, straight through to Antwerp, and thence to the muster of German troops near Siegen in the country of Westerwolt, adjoining Hesse, Cologne and Mayence, about four leagues from Confluence. There were, he said, 30 standards of foot-soldiers and 4,000 horse, with some pieces of artillery, to insure their passage from their mustering ground to the service of the King; and they had been paid beforehand. These forces, the gentleman in question was ordered to lead over French territory without touching the Emperor's dominions, to Calais or Boulogne; and, if by chance he was obliged to touch the Emperor's territory, it would only be for a very short time, and on a very small portion of it. He would, moreover, do no damage there, in any case, and would pay well for everything: that being the strict orders of the King and his ministers, besides his own wish. I asked him the name of the Captain of these mercenaries. He replied that it was one Frederick von Reissenberg: and when I told him I knew Frederick very well, which is true, and thought he was rather young for so important a command (my intention being to find out who had advanced him, and to learn if it had been managed by the Protestants), he, the gentleman, replied that Frederick had been well recommended by the Landgrave of Hesse, and had so well stated his case to the King and Council, that seeing that they had been cheated and abused by other Captains, such as the Bastard of Gueldres, who had not been recommended by any potentate, the King had decided to engage von Reissenberg. I asked the gentleman if the King and his Council had requested the Landgrave of Hesse to send them this or any other Captain for them to engage; to which he replied that they had not. The said von Reissenberg had simply brought a letter of recommendation from the Landgrave, stating, in effect, that he was a soldier, and was capable of leading into the king's service a considerable body of men, if it was desired. Otherwise he (i.e., the gentleman) knew nothing of him, except that he spoke good Latin, which had helped him greatly here. I asked the gentleman which road these troops would take. He replied that von Reissenberg had told the King he knew of a road by which he could lead them in three days from Siegen into French territory, without touching the Emperor's dominions; though they would have to pass one portion of the territory of Liege, and bivouac twice in it only. I told him it was impossible; and he confessed that he himself knew nothing of the nature of the country; but said as it was not their intention to touch the Emperor's territories, they were assured of their passage, and would find guides and conductors with this end, determined that, where they did not get through by friendship, they would get through by force, following the example of Martin Van Rossem. I did not debate or question his assertions, in the first place because he told me all this as a great secret, and secondly because I was not well informed of the state of affairs here, as I shall be by and bye; but I could not omit to inform your Majesty of it. Frankly, I expect they will find themselves cheated by this Frederick; as they have been by the others; besides which, in my opinion, he is not a man capable of carrying through such an enterprise as that spoken of. Your Majesty will see by our other letters what the King replied to the exhortations of the Emperor's ambassador and myself in favour of peace.
Guildford, 21 August, 1545.
21 Aug. Vienna Imp. Arch. 126. Scepperus and Van der Delft to the Queen Dowager.
I, Scepperus, arrived at this place (Guildford) on the 19th instant' where I found the King staying. The bishop of Winchester and Sir William Paget, first secretary of the King, came and said that they had been authorised by the King to bid me welcome on his behalf. I asked them when his Majesty would accord us an audience; to which they replied whenever we desired one. I said, the sooner the better, and they seemed pleased, sending word to us an hour later fixing the audience for the next day at noon. We were duly received at the hour appointed, by the bishop of Winchester and Paget, who are the principal members of the Council, the Chancellor being absent and the Duke of Suffolk ill. They conducted us to the King, who received us very graciously with great demonstrations of delight. After I, Scepperus, had repeated to him your Majesty's affectionate messages, which he received kindly and wished your Majesty were in this country, that he might entertain you with hunting etc. etc. . . . . .; I repeated to him the particulars of the mission with which I had been entrusted by the Emperor and your Majesty, in accordance with my instructions. I was careful to place clearly before him that which is set forth as the principal point of my mission in the instructions: namely that though his Imperial Majesty had no desire to press the King beyond his desires and inclinations; I exhorted him, for the reasons laid down in my instructions, to afford some opening by which peace might be concluded, and told him that the Sieur de Noirthoudt had been instructed to address the King of France in similar terms, both of us having been dispatched specially for the purpose.
He appeared to take it cheerfully and in good part, and replied that he thought he had lived hitherto in a way that would prevent anyone from saying that he was inordinately inclined to war, quite the contrary, indeed. He was not ignorant, either, of the troubles entailed upon Christendom by the war, and he bitterly regretted them; but we must bear in mind that he had been assailed, and his territories invaded by the King of France at Guisnes, Calais, and in this, his own island; and he was obliged to defend himself; defence, in such case, being permitted by every right, human and divine. He made a long speech at this juncture, reciting in detail the days and places upon which the French had descended upon his territories, and had been beaten with but little or no loss on his side. He found his own people, he said, determined and eager to fight the enemy wherever they could find him, and expressed himself delighted at the goodwill and affection of his people. So little had he feared the enemy, he continued, that he had not interrupted his accustomed pastimes and the pleasure of the chase, depending, as he did, upon the grace of God in his just quarrel, and upon the valour and affection of his subjects. It would also be found that after he had taken Boulogne which he had attacked out of consideration for the Emperor, his good brother (as he would always call him), he had made no further advance or invasion into French territory, and had given no further provocation to the enemy to assail him and invade his territories on all sides, as the French and their allies had done. He therefore thought that there was no special need for the Emperor and your Majesty to urge him to peace, since he had not sought war, but that the exhortation should rather be addressed to the King of France. He repeated that, up to the present, he had withstood the efforts and assaults of the King of France, and hoped shortly to be able to pay him back in similar coin, but more effectually; and he trusted with a better result than the French had obtained against him. He knew, he said, that the King of France was very short of money and men, and had been compelled by sheer necessity to abandon his enterprise, notwithstanding the weather that had been so favourable to him that it had been vulgarly called the “French God.” As he (Henry) had witnessed the small result that had been attained by the King of France and his allies, with all their forces assembled, he no longer had the slightest fear of them: and, he added, if the Emperor had made any appearance of helping him (Henry) when the French were invading his Guisnes dominion (as he considered his Majesty was bound to do under the treaty of alliance, which was not prejudiced by the subsequent treaty between the Emperor and the King of France, even though he Henry had consented to it; which he maintained he had not done, notwithstanding the assertion of the bishop of Arras, about whom he muttered between his teeth) the King of France would not have dared to attempt what he had done, and his Imperial Majesty could easily have obtained from the King of France an absolution of the promises of marriage and territorial concessions made in the treaties. For, he said, there was more than one treaty as he knew very well, although he believed that we (i.e., the ambassadors) were not aware of it. But he was perfectly certain that on account of those treaties some persons had been very heavily bribed with presents and money. As he said this he made signs with his hands and head as if he was counting money, manifesting sorrow at such a thing; and that by such means the King of France should have been able to free himself from apprehension of his Imperial Majesty. The latter, he said, would not attempt anything against these treaties, however just it might be to do so, although his Imperial Majesty would have the realm of England on his side, and, so to speak, at his disposal, a realm that had never failed him, and whose subjects were ready to risk their bodies and their possessions for him. This point brought him (Henry) on to his treaty with the Emperor, but he suddenly cut short that subject after a few words, saying that he would thresh that out with me, Van der Delft. He then reverted to the point now mainly under consideration, namely the peace negotiations, saying that he had no desire to hide from us that a discussion on the subject had taken place between him and the King of France, through Mme. D'Etampes, and it had advanced so far as for the King of France to promise to pay him (Henry) his pension and the arrears, together with a reasonable recompense for the recession of Boulogne, which should be satisfactory to him. But he (Henry) learnt afterwards that this recompense was only to be 100,000 crowns in one payment, which he said, half laughing, would not be enough for the pages; besides which conditions had been proposed to him concerning Scotland which were neither agreeable nor acceptable to him, and the negotiations were therefore, entirely brought to a close. As for the future; the season was already so far advanced, and the galleys can no longer be of any service in these seas, that the winter itself would make peace; and he hoped that neither the Emperor his good brother, nor your Majesty, his good sister, having these facts in view, would urge or advise him to hand over to the King of France his conquest of Boulogne, which he had taken with great honour and heavy expense. He added that he could not make any suggestions for peace overtures. They should come from the French, who had assailed him and invaded his dominions, as the Emperor and your Majesty should recollect. For his part he was not yet tired of defending himself; and he expressed great joy that he had been able to measure his strength against that of his enemy. He continued, that if the Emperor liked, he (Henry) was quite sure that the King of France might again be brought so low as to be forced to consent to anything: but it could only be done by not allowing him time to regain his breath. He asked us to convey his answer to your Majesties. I, Scepperus, then replied to him, saying that he might be assured of the entire affection of the Emperor and your Majesty towards him, and that the intention of your Majesties was that in any peace negotiations his honour and prestige should be safeguarded. The principal reason which had moved the. Emperor to send me to exhort him to peace was regard for the common welfare of Christendom, and more especially for the tranquillity of him (Henry) personally and of his realm and subjects; and the King of France had been addressed in similar terms. He (Henry) took this in very good part, and thanked the Emperor and your Majesty, in whom he seemed to have full confidence.
In view of this, even though he persisted that he could make no peace overtures, I, Scepperus, as if of my own motion, suggested whether, in order to promote such a peace and to give the Emperor more time to consider the best means of bringing it about when his Majesty arrived in Flanders, whither he was going principally with that object, he (Henry) would consent to a truce? He replied certainly not: he would either have peace or continued war, as he knew beyond question that the money provided by the bishops to his enemy the King of France was all spent, and a truce would not in any way advance the cause of peace. Finally, after further conversation, when we saw that we should get nothing from him beyond that which he had already said, we asked him if he wished us to communicate to the Emperor and your Majesty the reply he had given. He said yes; and begged us to do so. We have therefore thought well to report to your Majesty everything that passed, in order that we may not be blamed for omission in case the King should have sent a full report to his ambassador in Flanders. In conclusion, the King said he had not refused, and would not refuse, reasonable and honourable condition of peace; taking in very good part the expression we repeated to him, to the effect that the intention of the Emperor was not to put pressure upon him, or to favour one side more than the other.
By the above, Madame, your Majesty will perceive the change that has come over this country owing to the various successes they have gained over their enemies. In very truth, according to the judgment of the Spaniards, Italians and other foreigners, who have seen the musters of the English against their enemies, they deserve the highest praise and honour. The King himself took care to say as much, calling me, Van der Delft, to witness that the Admiral of France had not dared to await the approach of the English Admiral, but had retired after having made a demonstration of attacking.
Besides this, he said, on Friday last his (i.e., the English) Admiral had found himself towards evening about a mile away from the French fleet, which he intended to attack on the morrow, but the French had slipped away secretly and fled during the night; so that at dawn, although his Admiral had made great efforts to find them, he could not see a single French ship. This has made them (the English) all very confident and they are not so much inclined to seek peace as they were when I, Van der Delft, sent my despatch of the 23th July to the Emperor, which was exactly the time when they were in fear of the result of the war, and distrustful of the power of the French fleet, which had appeared at the mouth of Portsmouth harbour, the King being on the flagship, and as he himself told us, not expecting the coming of the French.
We desired to have sent to M. de Noirthoudt an account of the King's reply in accordance with the arrangement made in your Majesty's presence and by your command, but we found the King so determined to prevent any excuse being given to the French, no matter from what quarter, to hint anything to the detriment of his reputation, such as might arise from the first message about peace going hence to France through us, that we thought it best to send our advice only to your Majesty.
With regard to Boulogne, we find that at the present time he (Henry) has no intention of giving it up; and will not listen to any proposal of a ransom. Indeed in conversation he called Boulogne “his daughter,” and said she was not so hard pressed by pestilence and foes as I, Scepperus, had been informed on my road hither. The Councillors say that, in any case, they have 8,000 men on the other side of the sea ready to succour the place, without mentioning the troops coming to them from Germany. This is apparently the foundation of the king's expression that he would pay the French back in similar coin to their own, and with a better result than they obtained against him.
Touching the former negotiations for peace carried on by Bartolomé Compagni, which I, Van der Delft, have already reported to the Emperor in mine of 16th instant, I, Scepperus, recollected to have heard that a short fat man from Antwerp had been mixed up in the negotiations: and we found at this Court an advocate from Antwerp named Master Ringolt who is a short, fat man in the habit of frequenting the house of Bartolomé Compagni. According to our secret information the latter had suddenly left for France on the day that I, Scepperus, arrived at Court. But the day afterwards when we were returning from the Court we met him in the street, and we believe his voyage must have been abandoned; as Secretary Paget confidentially assured me, Van der Delft, that it had been. Paget said that the negotiation had not been commenced from any desire of theirs to come to terms with the French, but simply to cool the efforts of the latter against Boulogne, around which place, instead of five fortifications which the French said they were going to construct, only one has been commenced. The negotiations referred to were therefore considered to have been advantageous to the English, although the King himself, as he also informed us, had had nothing to do with them.
The King leaves Guildford to-day for his house at Hampton Court, 6 miles away. He is well. I pray your Majesty to instruct me, Scepperus, what further service I can do.
Guildford, 31 August, 1545.
21 Aug. Vienna Imp. Arch. 127. Cornelius Scepperus to President Loys Scors.
By the accompanying letter from the Ambassador (Van der Delft) and myself to the Queen you will learn what has passed between the King and us; and you will see how little or no hope there is of peace overtures from this quarter. If such overtures do not come from their enemies, we are of opinion that nothing will be done. One good thing is that these folks do not love the French, and there is no sign of any secret understanding to the exclusion of the Emperor. This is certainly a great advantage. I have even heard from a source independent of the ambassador (Van der Delft) that the English Councillors are fully aware that the Emperor's dominions are so necessary to their welfare that they could not exist without them, and they believe that England is just as necessary to us.
The short fat man of whom you spoke to me before my departure is at this Court, and has not condescended to visit us once, although we saluted him, and he was opposite the ambassador's lodging when I arrived. But, in any case, the whole intrigue has fallen through. I understand that this King's naval force consists of 16,000 men very well equipped, and it is increasing every day both in men and ships. They say the French fleet has completely withdrawn.
The efforts of the French on the Scottish side do not amount to much. It is true that the Scots raided into England and stayed for six hours only; but the English King's forces made such a show, that the Scots thought wise to go back, as they did with loss and shame. This King has his partisans in Scotland, both amongst the people of position and amongst the savages, of whom 8,000 have voluntarily entered his service. He therefore attaches little importance to the French being on the side of the Scots. There is news, too, that his troops have again beaten the Scots soundly, although the number of them was not large. All this puts his subjects in good heart to continue the war. The King ordered me to thank you on his behalf for the good offices you have done in his affairs, and I now do so, although I have no doubt he will also write letters of his own to the same effect. He has withdrawn to one of his pleasure houses, where there is neither a town nor a village for us to lodge in; and the ambassador and I have therefore come to this village of Mortlake (Maloch), where the ambassador has his residence very appropriately situated on the Thames, seven miles from London. We here await the good pleasure of the Emperor and the Queen (Dowager). I have written specially to the Queen, respecting the troops mustered near Confluence. They would be quite capable of crossing the Rhine and going through the territory of Cologne to Liege, thence touching a corner of Hainault, and so entering Artois; or else they might go round by the Ardennes, crossing the Meuse at Givey, and then entering Hainault, along the banks of the Somme; and thence towards Hesdin, so cutting off the French supplies of victuals. The French are in no condition to be able to contend with 30 standards of foot and 4,000 cavalry, besides having the English on their shoulders as well, unless they have been well forewarned and forearmed. Even then, they will have as much as they can do. I expect you know in Flanders the particulars of all this better than we do here, but I have thought well to send all that I have learnt for the information of her Majesty. The Councillors are keeping this matter strictly secret, and do not think that I know it. I prompted the ambassador to broach the subject to them, but they would not tell him the name of the colonel or commander of the Germans, and led him on a false scent.
I have not been able to learn that this King has allied himself with the Protestants, and in my opinion, he is very tractable and manageable with fair words. In all his conversations he has mentioned the Emperor and the Queen very respectfully; but he is not pleased with the treaty between the Emperor and the King of France, as you will understand when you have read our joint letter to the Queen. The merchants and rich citizens are very desirous of peace, but neither the common folk nor the gentry show any signs of such a wish. They are very well equipped and their artillery is much better than I could have believed if I had not seen it. Mortlake on Thames, 21 August, 1545.
24 Aug. Vienna Imp. Arch. 128. Cornelius Scepperus to President Scors.
The Duke of Suffolk is dead, (fn. 1) and the Lord Admiral (Dudley) is increasing in influence. I understand that the Duke of Luxemburg, whose name is Francis and who was in the service of the Emperor before Cambresis; is to come hither shortly. They appear to be confident with regard to the passage of the Germans I spoke of. In addition to the man I referred to in my letter to the Queen they are sending over another commissioner named Ralph Fane, who was in Brussels last year about the Landenberger affair. (fn. 2)
For various good reasons, which I need not set down here, you will do well to have secretly seized and placed in safe keeping the person of Antonio Musica (?), a Spaniard whom you know. I understand that he is at present in Antwerp and writes constantly about things which he ought to avoid.
Mortlake, 24 August, 1545.
P. S. —We are here awaiting her Majesty's reply to our letters of the 21st. The King is in a solitary place. We propose to go to him as soon as we have anything to say.
31 Aug. Vienna Imp. Arch. 129. The Emperor to Henry VIII.
Having heard that you have been pleased to recall your Councillor, Dr. Wotton, your ambassador to us, in order to employ him elsewhere, and that in his place you are sending the bishop of Westminster (Dr. Thirlby), we very willingly agree to this; although the former has always been extremely welcome to us, and has done his duty well and honestly. The bishop has been well received, and shall be duly respected in the discharge of his mission.
Brussels, 30 August, 1545.
1545. Vienna Imp. Arch. (fn. 3) 130. Memorandum headed: Suggestions that may be proposed to the King of England's ministers to attempt to bring about peace; or, failing that, a truce of long or short duration.
As the principal cause of dissension is Boulogne which the King of England will not abandon and the King of France insists upon obtaining, the following means of compromise may be suggested. The King of England might consent to retain Boulogne only until the King of France paid him in one sum 1,000,000 crowns of the arrears of pension. The King of France might undertake to pay from time to time the pensions as they become due and the balance of the arrears besides the million mentioned.
By these means Boulogne would practically remain for ever in the hands of the English as it is unlikely that the King of France could ever raise a complete million in addition to the current payments, for the restitution of the place, having regard to the state of his realm, and that his poor subjects have sustained the burden of this long war. The King of England might refuse to return Boulogne, or could take any other course that might appear advisable on the failure to pay any current instalment.
If the King of France insists upon the restoration of Boulogne it might be suggested that the above means would enable him to boast that he could have the place back whenever it pleased him.
If the King of France refused this suggestion, he might be induced to listen to the proposal that he should pay all the arrears up to 2,000,000 crowns in one sum or in short instalments, and give security to pay the current pensions as they fall due. If the King of France failed to pay the 2,000,000 in gold the King of England would retain Boulogne.
Another proposal is to try to induce the King of France to cede Boulogne in perpetuity to England in exchange for the abolition of the hereditary pension of 4,000 crowns: the life pension only being paid in future. If neither of these suggestions is at once acceptable to the princes, time might be gained for discussion by the arrangement of a truce. The princes should therefore be requested to give powers and instructions to their ambassadors, resident with his Majesty (the Emperor) or others to be sent, to come to terms on this point if possible.
To induce the French ministers to listen, the most suitable way would be cautiously to point out the improbability of their being able to recover Boulogne by force and that the plan of attacking England through Scotland or otherwise is of doubtful result. In case of the invasion failing, the French would be burdened by the increased claims of the King of England, as well as the two pensions and arrears. The English fight well and would rather die than not defend their realm. All this must be considered, as well as the weakening of the Christian cause, to the advantage of the enemy of the faith. The loss of so many good lives on both sides, the harass and danger that must always attend war, fortune being so uncertain, make it advisable for the King of France to accept one of the above suggestions.
If nothing better can be done, efforts should be directed towards a truce. The French may be held that there is little appearance of their taking Boulogne by force, and a truce would be all in their favour as they would gain time by it, whilst affairs were proceeding and God ordained how the realm of England should fare after the death of the present King, who cannot live long and would leave a child to succeed him. Boulogne might then be recovered from his guardians with less difficulty than from the present King, who sets his heart on keeping the place as his own conquest. The truce also would save Ardres, which is in great danger from famine and plague. If Ardres be taken the English will be more obstinate than ever.


  • 1. Charles Brandon, who had been married to Henry's sister Mary. Queen Dowager of France. He had subsequently married Catharine Lady Willoughby D'Eresby, who survived him.
  • 2. For particulars of Fane's mission in 1544 and the discontent of the mercenaries under Landenberger, see Vol. VII. of this Calendar, pp. 209-215.
  • 3. The copy of this memorandum at Vienna is mis-dated 1538. It evidently, however, belongs to the period prior to the dispatch of the English and French plenipotentiaries to the Emperor and is consequently inserted here.