Spain: January 1545, 21-31

Pages 26-29

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, 21–30

27 Jan. Vienna Imp. Arch. 8. The Emperor to Chapuys and Van der Delft.
The English ambassador resident here has addressed us on three points: first that we should declare war against France, inasmuch as the period of delay which we had taken for our decision, 10 weeks, had expired: secondly that, in accordance with the agreement made by you with the King's representatives, we should raise the embargo (i.e., on English subjects and property): and thirdly that we should issue authority and safe conducts for the passage of the troops they wish to bring into their service, both Germans and Italians. With regard to the first point we have replied that, subsequent to the departure of the Earl of Hertford and the Bishop of Winchester from here, we sent you Messieurs Francis Van der Delft and Eustace Chapuys to England, together, in order that you might communicate more fully with them, before any final decision was adopted on the points debated here with the English ministers. Matters, however, still remained in suspense owing to the action of the King and his ministers; and consequently what we had said respecting the declaration must also be considered to remain suspended. In any case, it was necessary that a settlement should be arrived at in England. He, the ambassador, only replied that he would communicate this; and if you are spoken to on the subject it will be well for you to answer in the same way with regard to the delay. On the second point we replied that we would have the demand examined; but we gave the ambassador clearly to understand that we had been very badly treated in this matter by the King, with regard to the violent seizure of the ships and merchandise of our subjects. It was necessary for the due preservation of friendship that good offices should be mutual and equal. We had not been able to avoid ordering the embargo of English subjects and property in the face of so many well founded complaints made by our people. He gave a general excuse, and intimated that the King had already decided to restore the vessels embargoed by his people, before the arrival of M. de Torquoin in England. At the same time, he said, on his own account, that he had written about it as soon as he knew of M. de Torquoin's mission. He hardly knew how to get out of this, or to get over the fact that the King's intended release was really decided upon in consequence of the embargo decreed on this side. We ended by saying that we would have the matter looked into, and would reply more fully in due course.
With regard to the passports and safe conducts for troops, we pointed out the difficulty in the matter, inasmuch as it was necessary for us to avoid giving to the French any reasonable cause for asserting that we were breaking the conditions of the treaty of peace, made with them by the express consent of the King of England, and on this subject, also, we promised him a decision later.
Referring to the abovementioned agreement, made by you with the English ministers, we may say that it is considered here extremely prejudicial to our subjects. We do not know whether you have actually signed and delivered it to the English, as the copy you send hither is only signed by them: but it would seem from what you (Chapuys) write to the Bishop of Arras that the agreement has been executed. If this be the case, in order to give due credit to your signature, we have decided to reply that, although you had no instructions to conclude such an arrangement, and it is to some extent informal, since the place and time of execution is omitted, yet we are willing that the release should be effected in accordance with the agreement. Since, however, the agreement was made in England, it was only right that the embargo should immediately have been raised there, as is distinctly set forth in the writing: but as up to the present we have no information whatever that this has been done, we see no reason why we should decree the release on this side. The embargo here was decreed for very urgent and legitimate reasons, and if it were raised on such terms our Netherlands subjects would be driven to despair; for, such has been the ill-treatment they have suffered in many ways from the English, without being able to obtain redress from the King and his ministers, that they would at once conclude that they would never receive restitution or redress. Nevertheless, if the English subjects who have been embargoed here will give security to satisfy the claims of our subjects in like case, the embargo on them shall be raised. We have ordered this reply to be sent to the English ambassador; and at the same time have stated that several Portuguese merchants have complained of injury being done to them in England since the beginning of the war, the amount of their losses being over 100,000 florins, as you will see by the claim herewith. You will press their case and endeavour to obtain satisfaction and redress for them.
With regard to the request of the English that they should retain the herrings and other victuals on paying a reasonable price for them, we have already seen from experience that when this point is conceded, the English want to fix the price according to their own fancy; and in that case they get the goods at less than cost price, to the great injury of our subjects. If, however, you have conceded it, we suppose you will know those who will fix the price; and that it will be done honestly by persons above suspicion, whereby our subjects may not suffer loss, but make a fair profit. You must press this actively, both for the present and future, so that our subjects may not be cheated as they have been.
With respect to the pitch and tar, the merchandise, so far as we understand is free, since neither of the articles is on the prohibited list. Our subjects therefore have the right to trade in them freely, in accordance with the treaties. In this matter also they (i.e., the English) must bear in mind the favour shown here to English merchants; and must extend to our subjects similar treatment.
The request of the English that, if any of their people chance to commit violence on our subjects at sea, we should refrain from reprisals, and only claim redress, may be answered by you as we have answered the English Ambassador here; namely that the English can easily distinguish both by land and sea the Netherlands' merchants and subjects; and the King is so well obeyed that if he pleases he can take such measures as to render reprisals unnecessary. If he will do this, no attack shall come from this side, but otherwise it is impossible to avoid allowing our subjects to have their revenge.
Touching the passport and safe-conduct for the Italians and Germans, we have also ordered a reply to be given, to the effect that, in addition to the consideration already mentioned as to the observance of the treaty with France, the French themselves are asking us for similar safe-conducts and other concessions prejudicial to the English concerning the war; which we intend to refuse. In addition to this, our territories here suffered so severely last year from the passage of the horse and foot soldiers raised in Germany for the King of England, that the subjects of our patrimonial dominions, and those of the empire, might be stirred even to rebellion; and grave consequences might ensue if we allowed a similar thing to occur now. If the King wants Italians, he can bring them by sea from the Mediterranean; whilst Germans could be had by way of Hamburg and West Friesland. There is still another reason against the request which I mention for your information: namely that, considering the way in which the King of England has hitherto used his troops, and the recent seizure of our ships, we have good reason for declining to allow him to bring through our territory a strong body of soldiers in his service. We are sending you this expressly, before replying to the English ambassador; in order that he may not anticipate you as he generally does. —Brussels, 27 January, 1545.