Spain: March 1546, 21-25

Pages 329-344

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, 21–25

March 22. Vienna. Imp. Arch. 216. Scepperus and Van der Delft to the Emperor.
I, Scepperus, having received your Majesty's dispatch for England, and hearing that the French were between Dover and Calais with 13 warships capturing all craft that appeared in the Straits, both those belonging to your subjects and others, whilst no English ship was there to guard the passage, I decided to cross over by the high sea from Zeeland, and so to avoid the Strait. Having accordingly set forth with a favourable wind I encountered a sudden change, and was thus kept at sea between Flushing and England for seven days, being driven on one occasion as far down as Dunkirk. Finally, however, without encountering any Frenchmen, I arrived in London on the 13th instant, where I found the courier who carries this letter with certain communications from M. de Granvelle. I at once made my arrival known to the King's Council, and asked for audience of his Majesty. On the following Monday the King sent Sir William Paget to bid me welcome but to say that in consequence of his indisposition he was unfortunately unable to give me audience, begging me to have patience for four or five days. I could only say in reply to this that your Majesty would greatly deplore his illness when you heard of it, and I would await the King's good pleasure. As the King had been willingly informed by one of his most confidential ministers of the subjects upon which I had been instructed to address him, we both of us (Scepperus and Van der Delft) thought better to say a word or two about it to Secretary Paget, especially as your Majesty orders us by your letters of 26 February to endeavour to discover by every possible means whether the King would be favourably inclined to a marriage with your niece (i.e. with the Prince of Wales), in order that we might be guided in addressing the King on the subject. We sounded Paget, who was of opinion that we should open the matter with the King, although his Majesty considered the dowry proposed a very small one and not at all proportionate to the grandeur of the future King of England. As to the Scottish affair, he said there was nothing in that. On the contrary, a marriage was being arranged between the daughter of the late King of Scotland and the son of the present Regent of the realm (i.e. the Earl of Arran). On the subject of Conrad Penninck, he assured us that the latter had only authority to raise for him three thousand lansquenets, although he spread the rumour that the number was six thousand. Not more than ten, twenty, or at most thirty, would pass through your Majesty's territory together; and he (Paget) then asked us laughingly when your Majesty was going to furnish your contingent. We answered him in a similar strain that your Majesty was not bound to furnish any aid on account of past events; but we did not dwell upon this point, wishing to reserve it for a more fitting opportunity. From Monday until the following Friday we remained without any news from the King, but on the latter day a gentleman came from him to say that we might hold ourselves ready for Sunday. As we were on our way to the Court on Sunday we met one of the Bishop of Winchester's followers, who told us that his master had arrived in London early that morning and that we should find him at Court. This was the fact, and before we arrived at the King's lodgings the bishop himself came and stopped us, as he had not yet presented his réspects to the King, and we therefore were not able to obtain access to his Majesty until after the bishop had seen him. The King received us kindly, and, anticipating our address, asked us to excuse the delay in giving us audience as it had arisen from his indisposition. He had, he said, had a burning fever for several consecutive days, and subsequently the malady had attacked his leg, which was still somewhat affected; but his strong and robust constitution enabled him to stand illness. We replied that your Majesty would have been greatly grieved if you had known of his illness, but since he was now convalescent you would have reason for rejoicing. He said he had taken good care that his sickness should not be known; and verily, sire, his visage clearly shows that his malady was more severe than he makes out.
After this, I, Scepperus, saluted him on behalf of your Majesty; and said that you had not wished to leave your Netherlands dominions without first sending to visit him, and assuring him of the continuance of your goodwill towards him. I was also to assure him that your Majesty's voyage to Germany was undertaken for the public good, and if possible to pacify the troubles there, banishing the distrust entertained by the Protestants that your Majesty intended to make war upon them, the more especially that you had heard from your ambassador (Van der Delft) then present that he (i.e. King Henry) had advised your Majesty, as a true friend, to avoid entering into war with the Protestants. He (the King) replied that he thanked your Majesty for the visit, and wished you happy and good success in your voyage. He also would continue in the goodwill and friendship, which had prompted his remark to me, Van der Delft, about the Protestants. He desired the aggrandisement of your Majesty, and not the enfeeblement of your power or the ruin of your States. Although he did not seek overmuch the friendship of others, or concern himself with their affairs, he did not repel them, and he had been positively warned from several quarters that, in case of war against the Protestants, your Majesty would not only go against those who openly confessed themselves such but also against the rest, and even against those who showed themselves good and obedient subjects to you, together with their friends and allies in this quarrel. The Protestants, he said, would never allow the Bishop of Cologne to be driven out; but would defend and assist him, as all the rest of Germany would; but at the same time, he said that no doubt your Majesty would know how to conduct the matter better than he (Henry) could advise you.
After this, Sire, we broached to him the subject of the marriage, saying that your Majesty had heard with great pleasure the kind expressions used by his ambassadors on his behalf towards you, as also had the King of the Romans when they were conveyed to him. But the matter, we said, had gone no further, his (Henry's) ambassadors not having further pursued it. Your Majesty however, had heard from a trustworthy source, and had instructed me, Scepperus, secretly and confidentially to inform him that the French intended to circumvent and deceive him by means of a marriage treaty between his son and the daughter of Scotland. By this means they would recover Boulogne with a peace or a long truce. They would get the Queen of Scotland (fn. 1) to consent to this marriage treaty for her daughter, letting her know that the undertaking would, for several reasons, not be binding: and I set forth these reasons, in accordance with my instructions. Your Majesty, however, knew him (Henry) to be so prudent, and to be so well aware of the character of the people with whom he was dealing, that you were sure that he and his wise Council would not be misled. Your Majesty had, nevertheless, instructed me to learn his pleasure with regard to this marriage (i.e. the marriage suggested by the Emperor, between Edward Prince of Wales and the daughter of Ferdinand, King of the Romans) and to ascertain whether he would listen to it. In accordance with his reception of this idea, I was to pursue or desist in my negotiations with regard to it; but that, in any case, your Majesty desired to keep on good terms and hearty friendship with him, his son, and his realm. The King nodded his head joyfully upon hearing this last sentence about your Majesty wishing to remain at peace with him, and then replied that, with regard the Scottish business, there was nothing in it: the French had enough to do without meddling with the marriage of his son or interfering in Scotland. He (Henry) had good hope that as regards Scotland he would have entirely his own way, perhaps even in spite of the French. He was not, he said, so light as to carry on negotiations with two parties at once for the same end, although, he added, he knew of some people who were in the habit of doing so; and doubtless we thought he might resemble them. This, however, was not the case, and we should judge him otherwise. But with regard to this marriage, of the prince his son with your Majesty's niece, really the proposal had cooled. His ambassador had, in accordance with their instructions, at the very commencement of their negotiations, requested the hand of one of the Emperor's daughters for the Prince his son, but it had been refused and one of the daughters of the King of the Romans had been offered instead, the Emperor's councillors saying that his imperial Majesty would regard the princess as a daughter of his own. He (Henry), being informed of this, and cordially approving of it, had instructed his ambassadors to learn further particulars as to the conditions proposed. As, however, they (the English ambassadors) finally heard that the dowry to be brought by the Princess was only 100,000 crowns, he considered the offer repulsive to his expectations, as such a sum was no fit dowry for an Emperor's daughter, or for a bride accepted as such, and he (King Henry) interpreted it as a slight and an affront to his son, who was a future King, when God should summon him (Henry), and was worthy of being held in no less respect and honour than a Duke of Orleans, who had been offered a very different dowry. For this reason, seeing that so little account was made of him (Henry), he had instructed his ambassadors to speak no more about it, and he had no intention of doing so. With this he began to get angry, and said that we came to him with nothing but empty words. He was not so lacking in sense as not to understand it perfectly well: for a long time past we had treated him in this way, which was not a fit return for the attachment that he had shown to us. If his ambassadors had not been told that the Emperor would regard the girl as his own daughter, he (Henry) would never have entertained the idea of simply a daughter of the King (of the Romans). His son was to be esteemed higher than a Duke. Although the King's remarks gave us ample matter for reply, and at the commencement we intended to answer him, when we saw he was so angry we thought better to smooth him down, in accordance with our instructions, and not to enter into a dispute with him. But I, Scepperus, bearing in mind that in my instructions I am enjoined to give no hope that the King of the Romans might be induced to increase the dowry, or that your Majesty might supplement it, remarked to the King that our instructions did not extend to the point in question, but that we would report his observations to your Majesty if he wished. I then asked, as if of my own accord, whether he (Henry) thought opportune, on the occasion of the Emperor's journey to Regensburg (Ratisbon) to send an envoy of his own to your Majesty, since the King of the Romans, the father of the girl, would be there; or otherwise whether he would instruct his ambassador to continue there the negotiations for the marriage. He replied that he would send no one, and declined to proceed further in the matter, unless his son were to be treated as well as it had been intended to treat the Duke of Orleans, and we might inform your Majesty of this. He then launched into complaints of the bad treatment that his subjects were receiving everywhere, especially in Spain, in violation of the promises made to him. He mentioned the two points of the release of his subjects and their ships, and the imprisonment of several of the former by the Inquisition, which treated them as heretics. I, Van der Delft, replied that, so far as regarded his subjects imprisoned by the Inquisition, I had forwarded to your Majesty the same petition which had been presented to him here, and had since heard that the prisoners in question had been liberated; which he might learn from his own subjects. I said if he knew all he would acknowledge that your Majesty's subjects had much greater reason to complain than his, since the arrests made in Spain did not amount to ten thousand crowns. The King then changed the subject and, with an appearance of great displeasure, turned his words against your Netherlands subjects. “ You people,” he said, “ are supporting my enemies the Scots, especially in the principal towns.” We replied that the Scots were doing us a great deal of harm, and we had complaints against them every day; we knew of no kindness being shown to them, except to a few who had safe-conducts. To this he retorted that the safe-conducts themselves were a violation of the treaties. Then, changing his tone and addressing me, Scepperus, he asked: “ When shall I have the aid ? My ambassador tells me that you have instructions to speak to me about it.” I said it was true that I was instructed to address his Majesty on the subject when he wished, or those he might appoint, to hear me, and would afterwards report to him. This answer satisfied him; and in good truth, Sire, it was high time for us to get clear of him just then, in order to avoid offending him or irritating him further, having regard to his malady, and to postpone the question of the aid and our reply to his other complaints until another opportunity. With regard to occurrences here, there are already five or six thousand picked men (gens d'élite), well armed and clothed, sent from here to Boulogne; and as many more are to go from the other principal ports in the country. The Earl of Hertford is going to Boulogne as general, and was to have left five days ago, but he told us yesterday for certain that he was departing to-day. The Lord Admiral is also going to the coast to send off the armed ships to convoy the staple wool fleet to Calais, wherein lies the wealth of this country. These armed ships will number forty, some of them fine and well-manned with soldiers, in addition to the 10,000 men above mentioned who are being sent to Boulogne. So far as we can ascertain from the remarks of the King and his Council and others, there seems to be no negotiation for peace between them and the French.
London, 22 March 1546.
March 22. Vienna. Imp. Arch. 217. Scepperus and Van der Delft to the Queen Dowager.
Your Majesty will be fully informed of what passed between the King and ourselves by the enclosed copy of our letter to the Emperor, and it will not be necessary to repeat the intelligence here. It may be advisable, however, to inform your Majesty, in addition, that he opened conversation respecting the wrongs and injuries which he alleged were being constantly inflicted upon his subjects. Although we had ample material for reply, we avoided doing so on this occasion, for the reasons set forth in our letter to the Emperor; and limited ourselves to saying that these matters might be settled with the whole of the rest of the subjects in dispute. He asked us if the doctor entrusted with the settlement of these subjects had arrived yet, as he (the King) was quite ready on his side to begin the work. We replied that we were expecting the arrival of the Commissioner from one day to another, and prayed his Majesty to continue in his good will in the matter. He took this in good part. We have, however, no news at all of Councillor Van der Burgh.
London, 22 March 1546.
March 23. Vienna. Imp. Arch. 218. Scepperus to the Queen Dowager.
In addition to what the Ambassador and I have written to the Emperor (duplicate enclosed) I beg to inform your Majesty that the King has fifty of his own ships equipped for war, without counting others belonging to his subjects and to foreigners, which he may use on payment. He is sending ten thousand Englishmen, the sturdiest, picked men of all his realm, to Boulogne; and shows every indication of an intention to continue the war. Conrad Penninck has only authority for three thousand men. Captains Martin von Hard of Guedelenbourg and Gheert Henricx, the Frisian, have done nothing yet, but are ordered to wait until the month of June, when they will be employed if they are needed. M. du Biez, marshal of France, has gone to the court of France; and I suspect that he may bear some commission from this side; because, although he is a worthy man and a loyal subject of his master, he is on good terms with the English and mixes in intrigues. I have decided to set out on my return journey as soon as I have made my statement to the King respecting the aid demanded by him, as otherwise these people (the English) will assume that the Emperor is willing to listen to the marriage suggested on the conditions mentioned in our joint letter; and this is quite at variance with one of the clauses of my instructions, which I propose to follow au pied de la lettre. I have written a few words on the subject to M. de Praet. In my simple opinion time will show many things; and our surest course will to put our trust in God, and such forces as His divine mercy deigns to place in our hands, to maintain the Emperor and your Majesty in the possession of your governments and inheritance, without depending over much upon leagues and alliances with others, which are things that lightly change and are but little to be trusted. I shall be able on my return to demonstrate this more fully to your Majesty, and pray you humbly to pardon me for speaking thus.
London, 23 March 1546.
March 23. Vienna. Imp. Arch. 219. Scepperus to de Granvelle.
Athough you will be fully informed by the letter, which the ambassador and I are writing to the Emperor of everything that passed between the King (of England) and us, yet I cannot omit to inform you that the King has a fine and powerful fleet ready, including fifty great ships belonging to himself, in addition to those he has taken for his service from the Emperor's subjects and other foreigners; so that he will have a stronger naval force than he had last year. He is also having built four galleasses, which are to be ready by Lent, and six new galleons of a very excellent sort, well fitted and armed. (fn. 2) For the present forty ships of war are going to convoy the wool fleet of the staple as far as Calais, whilst the rest are making ready. From what we write to his Imperial Majesty you will also perceive that it will be inadvisable for me to remain here any longer, as my tarrying might cause these people to hope that the Emperor would negotiate for this marriage on the conditions demanded by the King, which would be contrary to the tenour of my instructions. For this reason, as soon as I have laid before the King or his Council my statement with regard to the aid demanded, and have thoroughly discussed the same with them, I have determined to return to the Queen (Dowager of Hungary) and await his Imperial Majesty's further orders, leaving here the ambassador and Councillor Van der Burgh to settle the claims of the Emperor's subjects in conference with the King of England's Commissioners.
London, 23 March 1546.
March 23. Vienna. Imp. Arch. 220. Scepperus to Loys Scors.
I have read the letter you wrote to the ambassador about the coming of Councillor Van der Burgh, who I hope will arrive here before my departure, and I will, as in duty bound, do my best in the business in the meanwhile. (He states his reasons for not prolonging his stay in England as in previous letter to Granvelle.) There is no news here, except the departure of the forty fine, powerful English war ships to convey the staple wool fleet to Calais. The provisioning of so many wool ships, etc., is causing great scarcity here. The provisions for the fortresses of Guisnes and the Boulognais and for the several armies are taken from the country without order or regulation of any sort; and you may well imagine what a great amount is wasted and spoilt. What usually costs here one shilling now can hardly be obtained for three or four. This applies to all sorts of victuals for man and beast, and also to the purchase of cattle and horses. The greatly increased cost of living moves the ambassador, Van der Delft, to crave consideration, with regard to his emoluments; as, unless the amount paid to him is increased, neither he nor his successors could possibly support the expense, especially as the King intends this year to visit the extreme ends of this realm, and the ambassador will have to accompany him in the interests of the Emperor and his subjects. The latter—mariners and merchants—are daily captured, plundered and molested by the English ships of war; and if they were deprived of refuge and protection with the ambassador they would lose everything instead of a part only of their property, as they do now. Besides this, whilst the ambassador accompanies the King he is the better able to discover and understand the intrigues that may be carried on. Our neighbours the French perceive this perfectly well, and act upon their knowledge; very often gaining the ear of the English for their own ends. The ambassador, Van der Delft, will, however, be quite unable to accompany the King on his progress without spending three times as much as he usually does, considering that he must change his lodging nearly every day, and incur the cost of carriages, etc. etc. Besides this he cannot leave his residence in London without an adequate guard to protect it, or on his return he would find it empty. No comparison can be drawn between the amount paid to the present ambassador and that formerly credited to M. Chapuys, as the latter gentleman for several years after his arrival here was aided by the late Queen (i.e. Catharine of Aragon) with large sums of money, as these people are very fond of relating, and he never went anywhere; staying sometimes a year or two in his own lodging without budging a step, not even going to Court, but doing all his business through his secretary. When the King wished to communicate anything to him, or to obtain information from him, he used to send one of his Council, as the King himself told me, so that Chapuys was not obliged to travel or incur any expense whatever, beyond his maintenance, which, in good truth, from what I hear, was handsome enough. He had, moreover, ample means in the form of pensions, etc., one of which—on the Neapolitan revenues—amounted to a thousand ducats, and other income. I am not writing this out of envy or ill will towards him, for, thank God, such a feeling is far from me. but to justify the present ambassador's complaint and to show that it is not made without good reason. Recommends also a petition of his (Scepperus') son-in-law, Jerome Lanwerin.
London, 23 March 1546.
March 23. Simancas. E. R. 873. 221. Extracts from Letter from Juan de Vega to the Emperor.
In my letter of 12th instant I informed your Majesty of affairs up to that date, and especially of my interviews with the Pope respecting the Brief (i.e. for the sale of the monastic manors in Spain). The minute of our conversation was, as I mentioned, handed to Cardinal Farnese to be considered by the Cardinals appointed for the purpose. This was done and they have reported that, as the Brief contains absolute and unconditional authority for the execution of the measure, it should not be conceded by his Holiness. (fn. 3) Our answer was that, if it were drafted in any other form it would not be of any use for the object your Majesty had in view. It was suggested also by us that the Pope might perhaps grant another Brief, addressed to the Commissioners to whom the first Brief was entrusted, instructing them not to execute the latter until fresh orders were received from his Holiness. His Holiness would therefore be quite assured that the Brief would only be executed as intended; whilst your Majesty's demands would be complied with. If he would not consent to this I asked for a prompt and decisive reply, in order that your Majesty might take measures accordingly. Farnese undertook to propose this compromise to the Pope, and was of opinion that it ought certainly to be accepted. He now informs me that the Pope has replied that he must have time to consider the point. I have pressed him for a decision, and will send it to your Majesty as early as possible, unless I can obtain it before this courier leaves.
In the Consistory held on Monday, 15th instant, it is said that the Pope flew into such a rage with Salviati as never was seen before. Salviati himself sent me word that after the Cardinals were seated and the Consistory closeted, the Pope in great perturbation, and in a loud voice, summoned him, and told him he was not doing his duty, casting upon him the blame for the Duke of Florence's treatment of the friars. He said that Salviati when he was in Florence received presents from the Duke, who at the same time was turning the friars out of their monastery. He went on a long while in this strain, saying that the Duke was no duke or anything else (fn. 4) and refusing to allow Salviati to say anything in his defence, or at least to listen to what he said. Salviati begged that an enquiry should be ordered on the subject; and if he was found to be in fault that he should be punished, or otherwise that he should be absolved. At length, seeing the Pope in such a state of excitement, Salviati managed to leave him as decently as possible, and returned to his place. Other Cardidals who were present have confirmed to me this account of what passed.
It is asserted that the Pope held in his hand a statement sent to him by an uncertain author, presumably a friar. This he handed to Rodolphi to read aloud, which he did. It was to the effect that the Duke (of Florence) had deprived the monastery of its alms and other things, and the present inmates were unable to subsist; praying his Holiness to obtain justice for them. When the reading of the statement was finished the Pope made the most of the matter, and repeated that Salviati did not do his duty, ordering that a vote should be taken on the subject. Most of them (the Cardinals) spoke sensibly, especially Cardinal Farnese; although some of them did their best further to incite the Pope's anger. It may be held as certain that the Pope's demonstration was increased by the hatred he has conceived against Salviati, since he learnt of the intrigues it is understood he initiated for the succession to the Papacy when the Pope was ill lately. Doubtless his Holiness thought to counteract his advantage by means of the statement, and took the opportunity of humiliating Salviati under cover of the Duke's proceedings. Since then, on the 18th instant, Tuesday, at four o'clock in the night, they arrested a man who was here as secretary for the Duke with Everardo Seristori, his ambassador. He was here on business for the Duke, and was negotiating, especially with me. They have seized his papers, which proceeding is disapproved of by many persons. I also took this view, and on the Friday sent Pedro de Marquina to Farnese, to tell him from me that I had a letter from your Majesty in favour of the Duke, in the matter of the friars, in which I was ordered to speak to the Pope. I had, I said, deferred doing so, as the letter had reached me after the Duke had complied with the Pope's Brief; and I had rejoiced that I was thus saved from a duty which might be unpleasant to his Holiness. But in view of what had now happened it would be necessary that I should fulfil the mission intrusted to me and express to his Holiness your Majesty's interest in the Duke's affairs. I greatly regretted this, as the Pope was not well pleased with the Duke: his Holiness health, moreover, was not so good as I should like it to be; and I feared, consequently, that my conversation on the matter might upset him. I suggested, therefore, that, in order to avoid these inconveniences, and to allay any suspicion on the part of your Majesty that others might be inciting the Pope to anger against the Duke for the purpose of raising troubles in Italy, his Eminence (Cardinal Farnese) who was so much attached to your Majesty, might see the Pope on the matter first, and advise me as to the best course to pursue when I had to speak to his Holiness myself. The Cardinal first of all swore to Marquina that he knew nothing whatever of this arrest until the day after the man was taken; and he had been very sorry to hear of it, as the course taken by the Pope and the Duke was not conducive to your Majesty's interests. Our remarks, he said, were wise; for the. Pope would certainly be vexed at your Majesty's taking the Duke under your protection, particularly as they (the Farneses ?) had served your Majesty. As, however, he (Cardinal Farnese) was ignorant of the cause of the man's arrest he did not know how to advise me at present; but he would speak that night to the Pope, and would afterwards let me know how things stood.
The next day he sent Dandino to me, and the effect of what he said was that the Cardinal had had a long conversation with his Holiness on the matter, but had been unable to get any clear understanding about it. He would, however, still persevere and would try to extract from the Pope what the latter had refused to say in his last interview. He would let me know the result to-day, but in the meanwhile he thought best that I should not see his Holiness.
I let Dandino understand that I was not satisfied with his message, but said that I did not blame the Cardinal. He endeavoured to justify the arrest, but I told him that there was no possible justification for seizing the papers of the Duke's man. I said it was an extremely strange proceeding, and I should be obliged to address the Pope on the subject. I intend to do this without waiting any longer for Farnese's dallying, as it is all their cunning and base trickery, suggested by their hatred against the Duke of Florence.
There are many different opinions about the arrest of the man; but the prevailing view is that the Pope, seeing himself driven into a corner with the Council, and owing to intelligence which they say he has received on another subject, would like to raise any disturbance in the world to counteract it, just as a person might take poison to avoid a threatened greater evil. The intelligence to which I refer is that the King of England is showing a greater kindness towards religion; his enmity being mainly against the pontiffs personally, and especially against the present Pope: and also that the Protestants have sent ambassadors to your Majesty to pray that the Council (of Trent) should be transferred to Augsburg, as well as other news that he (the Pope) does not like. It is quite possible to believe this of his Holiness, who I hear from a certain source is in great confusion since the arrest of this man. Up to the present time the prisoner has not been examined, nor can we learn of any steps being taken with him. His Holiness has not communicated with anybody. He is, moreover, greatly concerned about his private affairs, and is a very sensitive person, whose natural failing has been increased by old age. He is much irritated about the Duke's retaining these prisoners of his, and withdrawing his ambassador from here, and very suspicious of the Duke's activity in the business of Siena, which touches the Pope so closely. All this has driven him to desperation; and just as he burst out so violently the other day against Salviati, he has done the same over this new matter. His rage is increased by his belief that the Duke thought that he was dead; and he is as much angered at this as if it was an injury to a person to look upon him as mortal. But still, I expect that by this time he is sorry for having done as he did.
His Holiness has recovered from the indisposition that prostrated him some time ago, which was a flux of blood; but he is not yet in his usual health. On the contrary, we are informed by the doctors that he is troubled with his stomach, sometimes purging himself excessively, and sometimes the opposite. He is consequently at times incapacitated; and refuses to attend to business, at least other people's business.
Rome, 22 March 1546.
Postscript.—23 March.—I have thought best to detain this courier until I have seen his Holiness and can report fully on this matter to your Majesty.
From a perfectly trustworthy source I learn that his Holiness has summoned to Rome that famous scholar called Alciati, a native of Milan, who is now at Ferrara. The Duke of Ferrara has been requested to allow him to come hither. From the same authority I learn that Alciati has been summoned about the affairs of Parma and Piacenza.
March 24. Vienna Imp. Arch. 222. The Queen Dowager to Van der Delft and Scepperus.
This is to inform you that shortly before the departure from Maestricht the Bishop of Winchester, with the other ambassadors from the King of England, handed us letters from their King, and in virtue thereof made to us the three requests mentioned in the said letters: namely that the King should be allowed to raise by loan, exchange or otherwise, in Antwerp, a sum of 400,000 crowns to be taken to Calais: secondly that the Emperor's subjects here should be permitted to carry victuals to England, and thirdly that we would assist the King's commissioners to obtain here such waggons and warlike stores as the English might require. We deferred replying definitely to these points until we had consulted the Emperor, who was at the time in Maestricht. This we were unable to do until the moment of his Majesty's departure, and consequently the reply had to be deferred until our return to Brussels. Carne pressed so urgently for a reply, however, that we told him that, having regard to the large sums of money drawn by the King from Antwerp last year, we found the Bourse here poorly supplied with specie; the Emperor's business being hampered in consequence. This would have been, we said, a sufficient reason for refusing the King's first request, especially considering how very strict they are in England in prohibiting the export of specie from the realm; we were, nevertheless, anxious to please the King, and would consent to his raising and drawing not more than 200,000 crowns, not of the Emperor's coinage (fn. 5) but in English, French or Italian specie. With regard to the supply of provisions, we replied that he was well aware of the great scarcity of all sorts of victuals on this side, famine only having been averted by the prohibition of the export of food stuffs, and other intolerable evils having barely been avoided as a consequence; and it behoved us to watch the subject very closely. We could not, we said, give a general permission for the conveyance of food to England, for such a concession would be made an excuse for stripping the country of all food; and we should be unable to prevent a like export to France, where a similar scarcity exists. This would be to the prejudice of the King of England, as the French are making great efforts to obtain permission to take supplies from here; though we have adopted such measures as to prevent them from doing so. Nevertheless, out of a desire to please the King (of England) we promised that we would do our best to assist him with the food he required for the supply of his troops on this side of the water, on condition that he informs us what victuals he desires, and that the amount be moderate enough for us, in view of the prevalent poverty here, to supply without unduly distressing the subjects of the Emperor.
Replying to the third request, about the waggons and munitions of war, we said that the King was well aware how we had helped him in this matter previously, but the subjects here had been so badly treated on that occasion by the English that they would rather be killed outright than go again to serve with his troops. The Flemish people said that they had suffered a loss of over a hundred thousand livres in the horses and waggons they had furnished for the English service, besides the number of their men who had been killed. We therefore did not see how we could compel the subjects to return to the English service; but if the King would let us know the number (of waggons) he required, we would endeavour to satisfy him to a reasonable extent. Carne went to Antwerp to carry this reply to the Bishop of Winchester, and on his return he said that it had all been communicated to the King; at the same time showing us the enclosed note, requesting permission to draw from here 1,200 lasts of wheat, besides the other victuals specified therein. This demand seemed so exorbitant that we were at a loss for a reply; and we have thought well to advise you of it and to direct you to point out to the King the unreasonableness of his request, seeing that each last contains 27 muids and the 1,200 lasts would consequently equal 32,400 muids of wheat; the withdrawal of which would suffice to increase very gravely the scarcity of food here. We are therefore quite unable to grant his request; and, even if we did, it would be impossible to supply such a quantity. Although the ambassador maintains that there is plenty of wheat in Julliers and Cleves, it is certain that we are greatly in want of it here; and the virtal of wheat, which usually cost 10 or 12 sous, is now worth 36 sous and more; three times its former price. According to the terms of the treaties, requests for supplies of victuals should be made dependent upon the fertility or sterility of the country, and the need existing for retaining its produce. If this principle is to be carried out strictly, it would lead us to refuse to allow any foodstuffs to be exported at all, but we are unwilling to give such an answer in this case, out of respect for the King. Since we gave this reply to Carne the latter has brought hither the man who, he says, has been authorised by the King to purchase the wheat, and requesting a passport for 80 lasts of wheat, which he says have been sent from Cleves; and a part of which they have already shipped at Dortrecht. We declined to grant the passport, for under such a pretext as this all the wheat in the country might be sent out, and incalculable evils result. We have, however, consented to his exporting from Amsterdam 100 lasts of wheat from Oestlandt, which will be sufficient to feed his troops and to provision the fortresses. We have likewise given permission for them to send out 100 tubs of butter, 100 libures scepponts of cheese, each of which libures is equal to 300 lbs; and 2,000 hams. The ambassador, however, seemed to be far from satisfied with these concessions, which to us appeared to be very liberal indeed, considering the great scarcity here. Indeed, we were only moved to make them out of consideration for the King.
The Bishop of Winchester requested the Emperor, before his departure from Maestricht, to allow the passage through his territory of the infantry raised for the King of England's service by Conrad Penninck. He was told in reply that his Imperial Majesty was extremely desirous of pleasing the King; but that, having regard to the injuries and losses sustained by his subjects in the two last years from the troops raised for the King by Landenberger and Von Reissenberg, the Emperor desired that Penninck should first come to see us, and make arrangements for the passage of his men. The ambassador Carne now tells us that he has received letters from the King's Commissioners with Penninck, saying that, having learned from the Bishop of Winchester that his Majesty had given his consent to the passage of the troops, they intend to pass the muster of the men at Nieuhausen in the territory of Munster, and send them thence in small bands through this country before Penninck could possibly come to confer with us, as the muster cannot take place in his absence. This arrangement is entirely at variance with the terms of the Emperor's consent, and may give rise to very great injury to the subjects. We are consequently obliged to take measures to avoid the evils which we have experienced on other similar occasions, and we have asked the ambassador to direct the Commissioners to send Penninck with all speed to us here; otherwise if these troops plunder the Emperor's subjects, or make themselves objectionable, they may find themselves hindered on the road; as the subjects will not tolerate such a nuisance every year, and it is quite impossible for soldiers to travel through a country without doing damage, no matter how much care be taken. If this happens it will be the fault of the English Commissioners, and no blame can be attached to us; as we cannot prevent the subjects from ill-treating those who want to injure them and take their substance without paying for it. We have requested Carne to convey this to the King, in order that the latter may be well informed of the facts.
We have dispatched Master Adrian Van der Burgh, who is on his way from Utrecht, and on his arrival in London he will convey to you his instructions, in order that you may co-operate with him in forwarding his mission. We understand that someone is to be sent hither from England to the same effect. You will please inform us who is coming and when he leaves.
Binche, 24 March 1546.
March 25. Vienna Imp. Arch 223. Scepperus and Van der Delft to the Queen Dowager.
After dinner yesterday the Bishop of Winchester, the Master of the Horse and Secretary Paget came to us for the purpose of laying before us the following matters. The first was that they had been informed that the French intended to cast themselves upon the army under the Earl of Hertford, which left here on Monday last, before a junction had been effected with the other English troops and before Penninck's levies had joined. This would, they said, greatly injure the English and perhaps might frustrate their whole undertaking. They had learnt that your Majesty desired to see Penninck before you would promise to allow his men to pass through the Emperor's territory; and that from the 17th instant he (Penninck) had been prevented from mustering his men near Nieuhausen, where in all probability he is still held in suspense. It will, therefore, be almost impossible for him to go to your Majesty without delaying the levies, or at least without furnishing him with an excuse for not fulfilling his undertaking to place his men in Calais within a stated time. They (the above-mentioned councillors) begged us to write asking your Majesty to favour the passage of Penninck and his men in every way possible. They will not pass in a large body, but in groups of about thirty, and will pay for everything; and as their prompt arrival (in Calais) is important to the King's service, it is urgently requested on his behalf that they may not be hindered. The second matter was that they (the English) have 400 lasts of grain already loaded at Dortrecht, grown outside the Emperor's territories in such places as Westland (Oestlandt), Julliers, Cleves, etc., two hundred lasts being rye, and two hundred wheat. They beg to request your Majesty to allow transit for this grain, which is intended for the sustenance of their army; as otherwise they will be unable to keep their forces together, and confusion will result, and even the destruction of their army and the complete ruin of their prestige. They promise faithfully that, if the Emperor's Flemish territories need a similar quantity of grain, they (the English) will provide it within six weeks as they have already agreed with Erasmus Schetz and two other merchants for the provision of a large further quantity of grain, grown outside his Majesty's dominions, and out of this the quantity for which transit is now requested may be made good. A portion of the further consignment is already embarked, so that the quantity now in question may be looked upon simply as a loan for six weeks. We beg your Majesty to consider this, as, in good truth, the reasons they give are really peremptory. We are aware that there is great scarcity of grain on the other side (i.e. in the Netherlands), but, as M. de Granvelle wrote to me (Scepperus) on the 4th March, that the Westland people might be allowed to supply the English, whose enterprise might otherwise entirely fail, we have thought well to pray your Majesty to give favourable consideration to the request. During this communication we found them (i.e. the English councillors) much more amiable than the King was in our audience on Sunday. We attribute his irritation on that occasion to his malady; but there was nothing settled: it was simply conversation, as we will relate fully in another letter when anything is done, especially as this letter is passing through their (the English) hands and is being carried by their courier.
London, 25 March 1546.


  • 1. Mary of Guise, the Queen Mother.
  • 2. This charge of naval policy on the part of Henry, indicated by the construction of galleasses and galleys for Channel fighting on the English side, appears to have been adopted in consequence of the helplessness of the English sailing ships in a light wind when the French galleys appeared in the Solent in the previous year. For some years the tendency in England had been to depend more and more upon sails for fighting ships, and this creation of an oared squadron was distinctly a retrograde step, which, however, was not long persevered in, as it only answered a passing need. In Dudley's letter to Paget on the subject (State Papers Henry VIII., Dom. 1, 805) the following order is given: “Whereas the King's Majesty's pleasure is to have certain of his ships brought to pass to row to keep company with others of that sort to attend upon the French galleys.”
  • 3. The meaning of this is that if the Brief were dispatohed to Spain the manors might be sold and the proceeds appropriated by the Emperor, even if the latter did not carry out his intended crusade against the Protestants.
  • 4. It will be recollected that Cosmo de' Medici had shortly before this (1543) provided a large sum of money for the Emperor's need, and the consequent withdrawal of the imperial garrison from Florenoe and Leghorn had secured Cosmo in the dukedom of Florence with the Emperor's goodwill and protection.
  • 5. It will be noted in a previous letter from the Emperor to his son that the former stipulates that the sums to be raised by loan must be in money current in Germany.