Spain: March 1546, 11-20

Pages 320-329

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

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March 1546, 11–20

March 13 Vienna Imp. Arch 208. Van der Delft to the Emperor.
I heard to-day that the King has been indisposed with a fever for two or three days, but it cannot be dangerous, as he passes the time playing at cards with the Lord Admiral and other intimates. I do not know what will come of it, as his principal medical man, Dr. Butts, died this winter. I will enquire daily and report to your Majesty. There is no more talk about the Irish, who they said were to cross the sea nor about the Marquis (i.e. of Dorset) and the Admiral. I expect the latter will put to sea, the rumour being current that the French have already sailed with sixteen well-fitted ships, and have captured fifteen or sixteen vessels loaded with provisions sent from here for Boulogne, most of them (i.e. the vessels) being the property of your Netherlands subjects. They (the English) are afraid that the Spaniards who were embarked in the North country for Boulogne may also fall into the hands of the French. The preparation of ships here is therefore being pushed on very actively, and the King has ordered to Dover the largest vessels which were at Portsmouth.
Although these people are very tired of the war, they still show great determination to sustain it, on account of the King's desire to keep Boulogne, though from what I hear their preparations are more directed to defence than offence.
London, 10 March 1546.
March 12. Simancas. E. R. 873 209. Report on Juan de Vega's letter of 12 March.
Marquina and Dandino both arrived in Rome on the 23rd February. Three days afterwards Vega spoke to the Pope, urging upon him the need for despatching the Brief for the sale of the monastic manors. Although he appeared much pleased with the kind messages and assurances which Vega gave him on behalf of his Majesty, etc., he did not fail to refer to the sending of the Bull for the half-first-fruits to Castile, arguing that it was to some extent a violation of the letter sent by Cardinal Farnese to the Emperor's confessor. (fn. 1) Vega had done his best to satisfy the Pope on this point; and his Holiness promised that he would do what he could, asking Vega to give him a memorandum of the form in which he wished the Brief to be drawn up, and it should be duly considered. Vega had given this memorandum to Cardinal Farnese, and Cardinals Sfondrato and Cresencius were to consider it. Vega was sorry that Cardinal Arsinguelo was not to intervene in the affair, as he has always been very devoted and diligent in the Emperor's interests. Vega will not cease his efforts until the business is settled, which he expects will be done favourably, unless the Pope changes his mind, as he is apt to do.
(In the margin, the note for the reply to this paragraph runs as follows: “His Majesty doubts not that everything will have been done with due diligence and will await the result.”)
The French are continuing their negotiations with the Pope through one Nicholas, who was formerly secretary to the King of France in Rome, a person of no very good qualities. The Pope is offended with Cardinal Trivulciis and other French cardinals, especially Salviati, as he learnt that during his recent illness they discussed the succession to the pontificate. This has greatly annoyed him.
Although the Pope's friends give out that the French are on his side in the matter of the Council (of Trent) and the rest, it is evident that his Holiness is not so confident about it. On the contrary, he manifests his opinion that there is little stability in French affairs, which he considers badly managed.
Salviati and Trivulciis are at loggerheads, and Juan de Vega thinks that in their discussions about the pontifical succession they must both have discovered that each of them aims at being the next Pope. If this should turn out to be the case it will greatly weaken the French party, which will thus find itself divided.
Salviati says that Trivulciis is opposed to peace being made; whilst he (Salviati) is in favour of it, and he makes a long speech about the ruin which otherwise threatens the King of France.
(Marginal note for reply: “With regard to the pontificate, Vega must bear in mind what has been written to him, and must keep a sharp look out, letting us know what occurs.”)
So far as can be judged, the Pope is not well pleased about other things besides the affairs of the Council, in which latter business he would have liked to obtain enlightenment as to the Emperor's intentions: Dandino having brought no decision about certain private affairs of his. (fn. 2)
But still the Pope hides his chagrin with great dissimulation, and raises no objections against what is asked of him, as it is his custom to do. This proves that the French must be very weak.
(Marginal note for reply: “They (i.e. the Pope's private affairs) were replied to and dealt with at the time in the best way possible in the circumstances: and in future they shall be attended to in accordance with the progress of events, and with the Pope's own procedure.”)
Since the talk of Cardinal Farnese's going to the Emperor ceased, Juan de Vega has been informed that the King (of France's) agents in Rome have been pressing very urgently that he (Cardinal Farnese) should go. As they were formerly against his going the Pope's friends are shocked at their change of front. They (the French) were also against the going of the Emperor to Ratisbon, which renders them very uneasy.
The Pope really in his heart would prefer that the enterprise (against the Protestants) should not be executed, however much he may profess in words to the contrary; but Juan de Vega thinks that, just in the same way that he consented to the Council against his own inclination, he will fulfil his promises with regard to the enterprise, and perhaps even more than fulfil them, though he likes it but little. The enterprise and the Council will both be means for forcing the Pope on to the road your Majesty wishes him to take; and if your Majesty chooses, whilst pressing him on either point to give him hopes of his private ends, Juan de Vega thinks it would not be unadvisable to do so; at least until the Council and the enterprise are both well advanced. The talk about receiving Peter Strozzi and the so-called prior of Capua, his brother, into the Papal service has ceased; and the sale of the galleys to Count Fiesco has been completed and the galleys delivered. Vega has therefore done nothing in either matter.
(Marginal note for reply: “This is well as it is done; although as the Pope knew that he (Fiesco) was a pensioner of his Majesty it would only have been decent to have refrained from negotiating with him until he had paid his Majesty the compliment of mentioning it. Do not, however, let the Count (Fiesco) know that his Majesty is displeased.”)
There is talk of Duke Ottavio (Farnese) coming to Germany. Vega learns that the Pope has been greatly annoyed at the rumours that have arisen amongst those barons in the territory of Piacenza, to the effect that they are feudatories of the Empire. A member of the house of Palavicini has gone to Venice, but avoided Piacenza, whither the Duke Pier Luigi had summoned him. He had left a castle of his manned and provisioned, and the Duke wished to attack it, sending troops and cannon for the purpose, only that the Pope—as it is asserted—thought better that nothing should be done, and the matter has hitherto been dissembled.
(Marginal note for reply: “He does well to advise this, for the Marquis del Guasto (fn. 3) has written nothing about it.”)
The Pope's displeasure has been increased by the address of a letter from the Emperor to the Duke Pier Luigi, in which he is not called Duke of Parma and Piacenza but simply Duke of Castro. They are, however, keeping this also very secret, though they do not hide their belief in the instability of the new State, which in their talk amongst themselves they say cannot last.
(Marginal note for reply: “There is nothing fresh to say about this. Vega knows what passed in the matter when Cardinal Farnese was at Worms and the mission sent by Dandolo. In accordance with this it is thought best not to make any change in Pier Luigi's style, in the letters written to him, having in view the rights of the Empire, at least until it was decided what would be the best course to adopt in the matter.”)
It is said that the Pope was sending an envoy to push his negotiations with the Swiss, and Vega hears that the Pope is dealing with the Duke of Urbino to enter his service, as it is asserted that he is not satisfied with the Venetians. Juan de Vega thinks for many reasons, however, that the only object of all this is to make people think that he (the Pope) is prepared to appeal to force if necessary in the matter of Parma and Piacenza.
(Marginal note for reply: “We know here that the Duke (of Urbino) has agreed with the Venetians. There is not much ground for the talk about the Swiss.”)
Don Juan de Luna went thither (to Rome) after the events that had happened at Siena, but had already departed. From what Vega could gather Don Juan was more determined not to return to that city than anything else. Either from his desire to serve Madame, or because he did not understand the artfulness of these people, he (Don Juan de Luna) conferred with the Duchess and Cardinal Farnese with regard to giving Siena to her Excellency; and Vega thinks that Don Juan and the Pope discussed the same question when the former went to take leave of his Holiness. (fn. 4) Vega thinks that no doubt Don Juan spoke of this matter, believing that it would be conducive to the Emperor's interests, but he did so without Vega's connivance.
(Marginal note for reply: “His Majesty had already learnt of Don Juan de Luna's going to Home, and supposed that he and Juan de Vega had conferred as to a remedy for the disturbance and troubles in Siena. No news, however, has been received from Don Juan, and his Majesty therefore defers for the present the measures necessary for settling the matter. Vega did well in cutting short the hopes of Madame of getting Siena. The place being a prey to turbulence his Majesty has no other present intention than to pacify it. This is conveyed to Vega, in order that he may discreetly deal with the question there.”)
The Duchess (of Camarino), taking advantage of what Don Juan de Luna had said to her about Siena, spoke to Juan de Vega on the matter, by the Pope's orders, and treated it more seriously on her own behalf than she had previously done. She had children, she said; and dwelt at great length on the disorders that had taken place in the State, concluding by saying that it was necessary that some wise course should be adopted, and the wisest would be to place the State in the hands of those who were so loyal in your Majesty's service as she and her sons. Juan de Vega replied that your Majesty had always considered it extremely difficult to dispose of the Sienese Republic, in consequence of its ancient attachment to the Holy Empire and to the crown of Castile. Although your Majesty loved the Duchess as your daughter Vega had seen no inclination on your Majesty's part towards such a course as that which she proposed; but he thought that your Majesty's views on the matter might be considerably influenced by the Pope's trying to please you or otherwise. Vega said this because he thought that it might be useful to let them deceive themselves to some extent, as they are apt to do.
His Holiness is endeavouring by every possible means to raise money; and he is especially making arrangements that the tax he put upon flour in the year '40 shall last for 12 years. He is negotiating with the people of Rome for them to assure the tax to him for this period, in order that he may sell or farm it. Although they (the Papal court ?) have hitherto made out that they had not much money, they are now pleased that people should say that they have.
March 14. Vienna. Imp. Arch. 210. Scepperus to the Queen Dowager.
After I had received my dispatch from the Emperor I was unformed for certain that the French with thirteen ships of war were in the Straits between England and France, and had already taken some English vessels. I therefore considered that it would be safer for me to go by sea, and I consequently went to Zeeland, putting thence to sea in fairly favourable weather. But very shortly it took an evil turn, so that only after very great suffering and danger, having been eight days at sea, and once obliged to take shelter in Dunkirk, did I finally arrive in England on Thursday last, coming to this city of London on the 13th instant, and finding the ambassador much rejoiced at my arrival. With regard to our mission, it is impossible for us to obtain audience of the King owing to the indisposition which for the last three weeks has troubled him. He is now somewhat better, as we were informed yesterday by Sir William Paget, his chief secretary, who begged us, nevertheless, to have patience for four or five days longer, at the end of which time he would arrange to give us audience. The only course we could take was to condole with him on his illness, which arises from a malady in his leg. In conversation with Paget and elsewhere we gathered that there was not the slightest signs of peace between France and England, although they (the English) are very desirous of it. The preparations being made are very great, as I could perceive as we entered the Thames. As regards Scotland, negotiations are proceeding by means of Frenchmen for the marriage of the daughter of the King of Scotland who recently died and the son of the Regent (i.e. Arran). In good truth it appears to be the most probable arrangement, for the Scots love very much more to be ruled by their own countrymen than by foreigners. Besides which such a marriage as that suggested would probably extinguish the danger that the son referred to might at some future time raise opposition to the princess (i.e. Mary Stuart), he being a very near heir to the crown. However, as the girl is an infant, matters may change. There is no talk of a great war between the English and the Scots; on the contrary, it looks as if there was some sort of connivance between them. The Scots will not move unless money from France causes them to do so, for they much prefer to receive French aid in money rather than in men.
We are detaining here the Emperor's courier until we have had audience of the King, as until then we have nothing of importance to write.
London, 14 March 1546.
March 14. Vienna. Imp. Arch. 211. Scepperus and Van der Delft to the Queen Dowager.
This afternoon Sir William Paget, first secretary to the King, came to us, and amongst other conversation, of which an account will be given to your Majesty in our next letters, he requested us to beg your Majesty to allow transit through your territory of certain grain purchased at Amsterdam by a Commissioner of the King, one John Dimock. We asked him (Paget) if the grain was from Westland (Oestlandt) and what was the quantity, but he was unable to give us a precise answer. In the belief, however, that your Majesty will be fully informed on these points we have thought well in the present circumstances to advise you of Paget's request.
London, 14 March 1546.
March 14. Vienna. Imp. Arch. 212. Van der Delft and Scepperus to Loys Scors.
We have been requested by Sir William Paget, first secretary to the King, to beg the Queen (Dowager of Hungary) to be good enough to allow transit through Flanders of certain grain purchased at Amsterdam by John Dimock, and we do so with pleasure. The Secretary (i.e. Paget) also asked us to give him letters to you, in favour of the same request, and we did not like to refuse him. We therefore pray you to give your favourable consideration to the matter, so far as circumstances may render desirable and the maintenance of good friendship with this King may demand.
London, 15 March 1546.
March 17. Simancas. E. A. 612. 213. The Emperor to Prince Philip.
(In a long letter of this date acknowledging Philip's letter of 18th February, and dealing fully with numerous questions concerning the internal Government of Spain and relations with other countries, the following passage alone refers to England.)
“With respect to England, the ambassadors of the King give us many assurances of his friendship towards us; and we are giving him all the facilities we well can in the large provision he is making for the continuance of the war. We have also sent thither our Councillor Scepperus to assure the King of our goodwill and, if opportunity offers, to speak of a marriage between the Prince of England and one of the daughters of our brother the King of the Romans, in accordance with a suggestion made by the Bishop of Winchester when he was leaving Maestricht on his return to England. Scepperus and another envoy sent by our sister Queen Mary are also instructed to obtain redress for the injuries inflicted by the English on our Spanish and Flemish subjects, and to devise some means for preventing the continuance of these depredations.”
(The following paragraphs referring to the Protestant Reformation are also of interest.)
“All that can be said at present with regard to German affairs is that the seceders from the faith, and even some other States that have a similar inclination, are in great fear that we may at once commence war against them; and the three secular electors, (fn. 5) the Palatine, Saxony, and Brandenburg, sent their Ambassadors, as did the Protestants and the Bishop of Cologne, to Maestricht, where they awaited our arrival. Having listened to what they had to say we gave them the reply which we send herewith. This will also place you in possession of their demands; and we believe that the tenour of this reply, together with the steps we had already ordered the Chancellor of the Empire to take and the fact that we are travelling only with our ordinary guard have calmed them, and that they are all now manifesting a desire to come to some agreement about religion. As, however, they have on several previous occasions expressed a similar wish, and have afterwards become more obstinate than ever, we cannot count upon anything beyond what we see. But everything possible shall be done to attain so holy an end, though we doubt much as to the result, even though the Pope may not hinder this agreement, as he has done hitherto, and the King of France, at least underhand, do not interfere in the matter. When we have arrived at Ratisbon, where the Diet is to be held, we shall very soon see by appearances what we have to expect. In the meanwhile you must not neglect what we have already written, but must employ the utmost diligence; because we are certain that if any good result is to be attained it will be by reason of the fear of superior force by the seceders from the faith. Without this neither virtue nor goodness can be expected of them, for they are growing worse every day, and their sensuality, already great, is gaining ground: this being the case in most of the other States as well. You shall be kept constantly informed of what may occur, and you must send us frequent advices from Spain.
You will bear in mind that, having regard to the scarcity of horses for the guards in Spain, in consequence of the large number lost in Algiers, and the need for providing in this respect, we recently conceded a certain number of licenses for mules to be used for riding purposes, notwithstanding the pragmatic forbidding such use, the proceeds to be used for the mounting of the guards. We have learnt that the wages of the guards are still owing for the last third of the year 1544, and the first third of 1545 and since. In view of the distress that this has caused them, and that the forces are breaking up in consequence of the impossibility of the men maintaining themselves, victuals being so dear, we have decided, in the absence of any other means of prompt succour, to grant a thousand more licenses in Spain for using mules for riding, notwithstanding the pragmatic. We send you herewith the authority, in which the reason is only lightly referred to, without descending to particulars.”
Luxemburg, 17 March 1546.
Mar. 17 (?) Simancas. E. A. 642 214. Summary of news from the Imperial Court, apparently from de Granvelle to Cobos. (fn. 6)
Since Marquina left with the despatch advices have been received from Rome to the effect that so great is the Pope's fear of the Council (of Trent), which he thinks is going further than he originally intended, that he is greatly upset and is making a thousand speeches about it. Some cooling even is noticeable in his attitude towards the German enterprise, of which he and his friends expressed so much approval. They are now hinting at the desirability, and even the necessity, of diverting it elsewhere, such as to England, fearing that if the German plan is carried through, the Emperor will, either by force or arrangement, bring the Protestants to consent to the celebration of the Council, which the Pope dreads, especially if the end is attained with his money, which is his ultimate resource. We are in hope that when Marquina arrives we shall learn the real facts, and so be able to arrange in accordance therewith the Diet of Ratisbon and other pending matters.
The Pope has expressed a wish to send legates, or even Cardinal Farnese himself, to discuss with his Majesty the question of peace with France, but as we have seen by experience what small results these embassies produce, his Holiness has been informed that under the present circumstances it is not considered desirable. In the course of these negotiations the Pope, as usual, suggested neutrality, hinting that under this guise he can best serve his Majesty; but by all his actions it is evident that he has not changed in the least from his usual bent. You will have heard that the Siena people are disturbed, and have recently gone so far as to rise in rebellion, 20 people being killed and as many wounded. The Duke of Florence (fn. 7) at this juncture adopted his usual attitude towards the Emperor's interests, gathering his militia and approaching the Sienese frontier, and this prevented the revolt from going further. Since then we have news by way of Milan that they (the Sienese) had decided to send away the Spanish guard commanded by Don Juan (de Luna), on the ground that it would not fight on the day of the disturbance, and that they intended to send to the Marquis del Guasto for 100 soldiers, under another captain. We are hourly expecting reports from Don Juan, giving us details, and we shall take steps according to them. It will be necessary to inflict exemplary chastisement to curb their insolence and disrespect for his Majesty.
Your worship will know the position of French matters. Although the French are fortifying themselves and making a noise in Piedmont and elsewhere, and giving an appearance of intending to break with the Emperor, and the King of France has set out for Lyons to push matters forward, it is very unlikely that they will attempt anything of the sort; nor are they, indeed, in a position to do so. Their object probably is to benefit by the prestige which they think to gain.
It is announced that the English are determined not to make peace with the French, and each side is busy in forwarding its own aims. This is exactly what suits us best at present. The principal object of sending Scepperus to England, though the pretext was to visit the King, was really to keep an eye on his proceedings. The bishop who came from England to negotiate with the French (i.e. Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester) returned from Maestricht. Matters between his Majesty and the King of England remain in statu quo ante, certain questions respecting the interpretation of the Treaty having been answered by us. The English lodged protests, to the effect that our interpretation, and the confirmation of the Treaty in that sense, was not to be understood to prejudice the claim they made for his Majesty's aid last year. A reply explaining our reasons having been given to them they expressed themselves satisfied and withdrew their protests.
The coming of the ambassadors from the Protestants (i.e. to Maestricht) had more noise than substance in it. The only two points presented were, first, to pray his Majesty not to proceed against the Bishop of Cologne so severely as intended, but to refer his justification to the coming Diet of Ratisbon, where he might be heard by the other Princes of the Empire, and a decision arrived at; the second part was to set forth that rumours and apprehension existed amongst them, aroused by many different indications that the Emperor intended to raise war in Germany. The Princes marvelled much at this, for they had always offered to consider a remedy for the present differences, and they would for their part willingly agree to anything reasonable. They therefore humbly prayed the Emperor to consider the position well, and not to allow during his time that German blood should be shed by foreign troops. They added other things in this tone for their own justification, and his Majesty replied to them with the suavity and truth that your worship will understand from the condition of affairs.
We are going straight to Spires in seven stages; and it is expected that near there the Landgrave of Hesse will come out to justify himself to the Emperor, and to assure his Majesty of his goodwill, and that of the Protestants. Brunswick is still under arrest, pending the settlement of his business at Ratisbon. The King, and it is thought also the Queen, of the Romans will go thither.
Your worship will be informed direct from Trent with regard to the Council. His Holiness and his friends are not very well pleased with the Cardinal of Jaen, and would like to see him far away from there, as they know that he is as brave and zealous as befits his high dignity and office.
March 18 Vienna. Imp. Arch. 215. Scepperus to the Queen Dowager.
Since my last letter nothing new has happened here, except that the Earl of Hertford leaves to-day for Boulogne with five or six thousand Englishmen dressed in three colours. It is said that the intention is to encamp between the new town and Marquise, in order to prevent the French from making their fort at the latter place. The King is not yet well, and I have consequently not been able hitherto to obtain audience. This, at all events, is the reason given by Sir William Paget; but peradventure he (the King) is awaiting the return of the Bishop of Winchester, in order to learn what has passed between your Majesty and him (i.e. Gardiner) before he sees me. In any case I must have patience. The ships of this King are all ready, armed and re-victualled. In my opinion the war for this year will be more defensive than offensive on this (the English) side, and they (the English) will be satisfied with the number of lanceknechts which Conrad Penninck is commissioned to raise, at least until St. John's tide. I have written to this effect to M. de Granvelle. All the Italians, Germans and Spaniards who were sent against the Scots are now being brought to Boulogne. The Spaniards number from 1,600 to 1,800 men, good fighters, who have behaved well in the Scottish campaign. The principal nobles of the realm are not at present with the King, some being at Dover and Sandwich arranging about the victualling, and others elsewhere in divers places raising the troops to be furnished by the towns, boroughs and villages.
London, 18 March 1546.


  • 1. It will be seen by the Emperor's letter to his son of 16 February that the authority for the half-first-fruits of ecclesiastical patronage had been sent to Spain in order that measures might be taken at once for raising loans on security of it. This was considered by the Pope to be an evasion of the understanding that no action should be taken for obtaining funds from church sources until the treaty binding the Emperor to undertake the religious war was actually signed.
  • 2. Namely the confirmation of his son Pier Luigi Farnese in the dukedoms of Parma and Piacenza; for which, as will be seen in the correspondence, the Emperor was determined to drive a hard bargain. It was claimed by the imperial party that the duchies were an appanage to the territory of Milan, a fief of the Empire.
  • 3. The Governor of Milan for the Emperor.
  • 4. Don Juan de Luna commanded the small imperial garrison in the republic of Siena, in which city French and Papal intrigue was busy stirring up strife and a rising had occurred. It will be seen by this and other letters that Margaret of Austria, the Emperor's natural daughter, who had married Ottavio Farnese, Duke of Camarino, the Pope's grandson, was made use of by the papal party to enable the Farneses to obtain a footing in Siena.
  • 5. The ecclesiastical electors were the Prince Archbishops of Mayence, Cologne, and Treves
  • 6. The decipher in the Archives from which the above is translated bears the docket: “Vargas, 17 March 1546.” This, however, would appear to be the date of the last advices from Borne contained in the document.
  • 7. Cosmo de'Medioi, who held his dukedom mainly owing to the Emperor's goodwill.