Spain: January 1546, 1-15

Pages 286-292

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.


January 1546, 1–15

No date (1 Jan.?) Paris Archives Nationales. K. 1486. 180. St. Mauris to the King of the Romans.
(Negotiations between the King of France and the Turk.)
The gentlemen here are much annoyed that the Admiral of France should have been sent to the Emperor to negotiate without some preliminary consultation being held. They think his going very inconsiderate, and are of opinion that prior to any negotiation with the Emperor being undertaken, the differences with England should have been settled. They understand perfectly that henceforward the English will be more difficult to deal with than ever, nothing having been arranged between the French and the Emperor. They (the French courtiers) hint that they know well whence proceeds the evil council. The King of France professes to be anxious to fulfil the last treaty and to maintain friendship with the Emperor, and to say the truth, Sire, he speaks from sheer necessity, as he fears lest the Emperor should enter into, a close union with England. In any case, Sire, his real feelings towards the Emperor are as bad as can be. He would, if he could, keep his Majesty in suspense by dissimulation, whilst he (the King of France) forwarded his usual pernicious practices and prepared for war.
He says sometimes that if he learns that the Emperor aims at breaking the treaty he (the King of France) will avenge himself by arranging with the English the question of Boulogne and the pensions, will consent to the English marriage in Scotland; and will then, with the aid of the English, attack the Emperor's Flemish dominions.
(An account of several conversations with the Dauphin and other persons in the French Court, respecting the projected marriage of Prince Philip with Princess Marguerite, the recession of Piedmont, etc.)
Eight or ten days ago the protestant commissioners returned here from Calais, having done but little towards concluding a peace or truce. But as they were legates they were sent back almost instantly post haste to Calais with instructions to proceed from there to England, if necessary, in order that they might, as if of their own action, bring every pressure to bear upon the English to agree to a truce. They were instructed simply to say that the King of France, in their own opinion, would accept a truce: the idea of people here being that during a years' cessation of hostilities they might finish their fort near Boulogne, and perhaps erect others from which to attack the place. On the other hand, it is asserted that the English claim that they must hold at least that portion of the Boulognais between Calais and Ardres, some ten or twelve leagues of territory, and they absolutely refuse to evacuate it, or allow another fort to be built. They will not consent therefore to a truce of more than four months during the winter; so they are very far from a settlement yet. They will be everlastingly at issue about the said fort as the King of France claims to occupy the whole of the Boulognais which belongs to him, whilst the English swear they will retain it by right of conquest. These people here at first said that in order to thwart the Emperor they would rather agree with the English and surrender Boulogne. The English now reply that they have captured Boulogne in fair fight and mean to keep it, demanding in addition the payment of the overdue pensions, and an assurance for the future. This is quite a different attitude from what the French expected. Sometimes when they are excited they say that they are not bound to pay the pensions, in consequence of the English having broken the treaties that stipulated for the payment. In short, Sire, the French are astounded at the spirit of the English, who are driving them hard by sea, and have caused them such tremendous losses. Amongst their other losses is that of the herring fisheries, to which they dare not go this year, this being the principal livelihood of the Normans. They are therefore less able than ever to contribute to the needs of the war this year. They are, in fact, so distressed and impoverished, that if they are pestered much more this year with impositions, the majority of them will have to abandon the land, as the King of France has been told by many persons. A short time since the King was warned that people were murmuring in several parts of the country at the intolerable burden of the taxes, and he was advised to be moderate if he wished to avoid provoking a general rising. It appears as if this year, therefore, he may refrain from further burdening them, but if so, it will only be for the purpose of increasing the taxes next year, and of continuing to demand what he has imposed in the past. They are saying here that in the year 1546 his subjects will rise in rebellion against him in consequence. Except what he may now gather, he has not a single sou for himself, and he even tried to borrow some money of Lyons merchants, some Italians, and some Germans, offering them good security for as much as they would lend. In order to tempt them to do this he recently repaid them some sums he had borrowed from them for the war against the English. If they are wise, however, they will be very cautious how they deal with him in future. It is true that in time the King may get plenty of money, if he likes to extract it from the people; but it will come too late, and he is at present quite destitute.
(The rest of this letter (7 pages) is mainly concerned in Italian and French affairs, the King of France's intrigues against the Emperor, etc., the only matter of moment being a remark upon the great increase of Protestantism in France and the probability of a religious rising.)
7 Jan. Vienna Imp. Arch. 181. The Emperor to Van der Delft.
We have received you letter of 21st ultimo, and have heard what you wrote to Granvelle in conformity therewith, respecting the Spanish personage referred to. Having considered your communications on the subject, it appears to us that, in any case, the King of England has acted kindly and straightforwardly in informing you through his Council of their impressions of the individual. Having regard to the prevarications of the man, his going thither cannot be otherwise than suspicious; and also that the letter he has presented from the Duke of Alburquerque must be false; since it cannot be possible that the duke would recommend one of our subjects to undertake anything away from our jurisdiction and without our knowledge. If the personage in question be a gentleman, as he affirms, and he says that we had cause to be displeased with him, and consequently ordered him to remain under arrest in the monastery of his order, it would seem as if it must be Don Pedro Portocarrero; who, having committed an outrage on a Spanish gentleman, was ordered by us to be carried a prisoner to the monastery of Uclés. His relationship with the Cuevas and the Herreras, may have given him an opportunity of changing his name; but his statement that he was sent by us to France respecting the release of Count William of Furstenberg is absolutely untrue, with regard to Portocarrero or any other Spaniard. It is obviously impossible in the case of Portocarrero; because he was made prisoner long before we entered France. It is also untrue what you are told by the Frenchman Bertheuille, who is in the King of England's service, to the effect that he obtained information in the French interest, from the personage in question, respecting what went on when we were before St. Disier. We write you this in detail to put you into possession of all the problems touching this man; and we have thought well to send to England a Spanish alguacil, who is acquainted with Portocarrero, to ascertain whether this man be he, or not. Whoever he is, he has given ample reason for detaining and interrogating him, to discover his identity. Whilst thanking the Council for the kindness and uprightness shown by the King and themselves in the matter, you will beg them on our behalf to arrest the man, and have him examined in your presence, so that the questions that you consider advisable may be put to him, in view of what we have written above. If he turns out to be Portocarrero you will arrange for the Spanish alguacil to be allowed to hand him the letter he bears, and to command him in our name to return to the monastery. If he proves to be some other person, let him be detained until you have communicated his replies to us; and ask the lords of the Council to let you have the letter he presented from the Duke of Alburquerque; so that we may know whether it is a forgery or not. You will do whatever else you consider necessary in the matter.
Utrecht, 7 January 1546.
P.S.—Since writing the above we are assured that the Spanish gentleman, who has gone to England, is not Don Pedro Portocarrero, but a certain Don Pedro Pacheco; who is a tall, thin, dark person. It is asserted by a man formerly in the Spanish infantry, who has recently arrived here, that this Don Pedro Pacheco passed through France from Spain. We have therefore decided not to send the Spanish alguacil, but we despatch the above letter to enable you to make up your mind as to which of the two persons mentioned is the one in question. If it be Portocarrero you will hand him the letters for him we now enclose. You can obtain information about him from Colonel (Maistre de Camp) Guevara, (fn. 1) who is said to be in England; or from some other of the Spaniards there. You will let us know what you can learn, and the reason for the going of this personage to England.
9 Jan. Vienna Imp. Arch. 182. Van der Delft to the Emperor.
In accordance with the instructions contained in Your Majesty's letters of the 20th ultimo, I have given to the bearer thereof, the gentleman sent hither by the King of Portugal, all the support and assistance I am able; and I understand that he will be successful in his mission. Since I wrote to your Majesty on the 21st ultimo, respecting the Spanish Comendador, who has come hither, about whom the Council communicated with me and proposed to secure him, the person in question has been placed in good safe keeping. I have also spoken with the French gentleman Bertheuille, who accuses him, from whom I have learnt that the Comendador gave him information of all that passed in your Majesty's camp before St. Dizier, and that shortly afterwards the Comendador solicited him for an allowance from France. The Comendador was captured by a troop of light horse, his own horses being burdened with his baggage; and, after having been conducted before the Admiral of France, was at once set at liberty. I have thought necessary to inform your Majesty of this, pending your Majesty's instructions on the matter, for which I am daily asked.
(Marginal note for reply written opposite the preceding paragraph. “ He has already been informed that enquiries are being made in Spain respecting this Spaniard. It does not appear likely that it can be Don Pedro Portocarrero, and especially after what Bertheuille affirms. But, nevertheless, it is important that full investigation should be made. It will therefore be necessary for him (i.e. Van der Delft) to hold his hand and keep the person under detention until he receives further instructions from us. We have spoken to the English ambassadors here on the subject, and we suppose they will have written about it.”)
Since the departure of M. D'Eick I have made several complaints respecting the disappearance of your Majesty's Courier with my letters, but no tidings of him can be obtained, except that he never arrived at Gravesend, for which place he started at night in a small boat. I will employ every effort to obtain further information, and the chancellor is rendering me great assistance,
(Marginal note, opposite the preceding paragraph. “ It is a good work.”)
Secretary Paget returned the day before yesterday, it is said, without having arrived at any settlement with the French. I hear from a secret source that this King's commissioners made advances towards the French Commissioners through the protestant envoys, to the effect that in order to commence negotiations for peace and the retrocession of Boulogne, the King of France should deposit in the hands of the German Princes (presumably the protestants) a sum of money to pay the overdue pensions to England, and the cost of the war; which they say would mean over three millions in gold. For the purpose of moderating these demands and bringing about some sort of settlement, one of the protestant envoys has been sent several times from Calais to the King of France, but without success; and the whole of the Commissioners, protestants French and English, have now all departed. Those people here who are in the secret have therefore lost all hope of peace, except it be through your Majesty's efforts. For the same reason I perceive that the conditions proposed by the English were drafted more for the purpose of giving some appearance of satisfaction to the protestants than to bring about a settlement.
(Marginal note to the preceding paragraph: “ He will do well to obtain all the information he can about this.”)
On Christmas eve Renegat came to see me, sent, as he said, by the Chancellor to justify himself. I told him he need not trouble himself, as I had so frequently and so publicly demonstrated that he was in the wrong. Finally he said that everything he had taken was still intact; and he was willing to submit the whole matter to the arbitration of the Chancellor and myself. I have sent to-day to the Chancellor about it, he (i.e. Wriothesley) having arrived here yesterday morning. He, however, appears unwilling to meddle in the matter—as he was before—the said Renegat being in his service; but says that in the interests of justice he will give such orders as shall satisfy me; and that he is sure I shall only demand what is reasonable. So, Sire, on the first opportunity I will press the matter to an issue.
(Marginal note to the preceding paragraph: “ He must persist to the end that everything captured must be restored.”)
The Council recently sent to me certain English merchants who complained of the Inquisition in Spain. One of them whilst he was at San Sebastian saw an English captain thrown into prison because a new Testament was found in his ship, with some other books in English. The captain being asked whether he considered his sovereign the King of England a good Christian, replied that he did. All this is more fully set forth in their complaint, which I am sending to M. de Granvelle.
(Marginal note to the preceding paragraph. “The rescript has been handed at once to the Spanish council, in order that it may be forwarded to Spain, with instructions that English subjects are not to be molested, and no questions are to be asked about the King, as has already been ordered, unless Englishmen begin by saying anything scandalous about the Pope.”)
The Parliament here has risen, though the conclusions they have arrived at are kept secret. I hear, however, that in addition to the subvention of eight groats in the pound of this money on all property real and personal, which comes to about half a quarter of the capital value, they have granted to the King for his use all the colleges, academies, and chantries founded for the souls of the departed, the value of which, they say, is very great. (fn. 2) In addition to this, he is to have the plate, money and rents of all the “ Halls,” which are the common houses belonging to the trade guilds. The bishops remain still in their positions, but the matter touches them closely; and they may feel what they fear at the next parliament, (fn. 3) which is fixed for November.
(Marginal note to the preceding paragraph. “ He does well to enquire about this, and especially on the religious part of it, since he mentions the foundations for the departed, which are to be interfered with.”)
Captain Conrad Penninck, who was in command of the town of Venloo for the Duke of Cleves, has arrived at this Court with leave of the elective King of Denmark, and of the town of Hamburg, to which he is under an obligation. Other Germans also have been here from the Duke of Lauenberg and certain counts, neighbours of the Duke of Brunswick, but they did not meet with the same amount of favour as is shown to Conrad Penninck. I will enquire how they (the English) are going to employ him.
(Marginal note to the preceding paragraph. “ He must always endeavour to discover everything he can about Penninck, and must report to President Scors and M. D'Eick.”)
London, 9 January 1546.
13 Jan. Simancas. E. R. 873. 183. Juan de Vega to Prince Philip.
Your Highness will have learnt that since the Admiral of France and his companions left the Emperor's Court, Friar Gabriel de Guzman has made two journeys thither, and the Emperor has again recently declined the proposal made by the French, which, in good truth, is almost the same as the previous one. The French are generally admitted to be weak and overburdened by their war with England: although it is believed that his Holiness is encouraging them with words and promises, upon which, in my opinion, they do not place much reliance. Speculation is accordingly now busy as to how these matters are going to end; although the Pope is very anxious at the way the Council (of Trent) is proceeding. The last time I was with his Holiness, quite recently, he pressed me to give him my opinion, as to what course he ought to take. I excused myself, because until Marquina comes back I am uncertain as to the Emperor's wishes; and also because it is sometimes advisable to keep the Pope in suspense. I expect your Highness will have been advised of the truce with the Turk after the arrival of the Ambassadors who went to Constantinople.—Rome, 13 January 1546.
13 Jan. Vienna Imp. Arch. 184. Van der Delft to the Emperor.
Doubtless your Majesty will have received my letters of the 9th instant. Nothing of importance has happened since, except that news has come of a defeat of the English in Scotland, in which I am informed about fourteen hundred men were lost, the reason being that the Germans and Spaniards in the King's service there were absent from the frontier, and in quarters at York and Newcastle. It is also asserted that there has been a great engagement between the English and French at Boulogne, where the English have lost about 1,200 foot-soldiers, with 8 English and 4 Italian captains. The Earl of Surrey (fn. 4) has consequently lost greatly in reputation, and there is considerable discontent at these heavy losses. Your Majesty may perhaps be more fully informed on these points, but I have thought well to report them.
London, 13 January 1546.


  • 1. Don Carlos de Guevara. The strange story of this mercenary soldier, his murder of Sir Pedro Gamboa, his rival colonel, on Snow Hill in January, 1550, and his execution at Smithfield will be found in “The Chronicle of Henry VIII.” translated and edited by the present writer.
  • 2. This last parliament of the reign, which had only met on the 23rd November previous, suppressed the whole of the chantries and pious foundations in England, for the benefit of the crown; and gave the King the right to seize the revenues of the Universities and Corporations on his pledge that nothing should be done but for the glory of God and the profit of the realm.
  • 3. This paragraph refers to the legalisation by this parliament of the, more or less forced, surrenders of houses and properties belonging to the Sees, made by Cranmer and other bishops to the crown in exchange for a guaranteed salary. Such of the superior clergy who still held in trust ecclesiastical property might well dread the result. Henry closed the legislature on the 24 December in a haughty and violent speech.
  • 4. This seems to have been a night surprise, when 3,000 Frenchmen attacked and temporarily captured the lower town of Boulogne. The garrison with two companies of Spanish mercenaries rallied in the high town and repelled the French with great slaughter. The losses on the English side as given above are probably much exaggerated; though a contemporary writer speaks of the great slaughter of French prisoners by the English in this fight.