Spain: April 1546, 11-20

Pages 377-387

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

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April 1546, 11–20

April 12. Vienna Imp. Arch. 243. Scepperus and Van der Delft to the Emperor.
We have refrained from writing to your Majesty up to the present time because since our letters of 27th ultimo we have had nothing to say, having had no communication with the King's Ministers, except on the matter of passage of Penninck's troops through your Majesty's territory; and also that of a quantity of wheat. We found the ministers vehement in their language on these points, complaining that we gave them nothing but fine words without effect. We did not let this reproach pass without a fitting reply, as we have related in our letter to the Queen (Dowager). They made no mention whatever about the marriage or the aid: but as the Duke Palatine Philip has taken his leave, and starts to-day for Germany accompanied by one of the King's secretaries named Mason, (fn. 1) a man well esteemed, we have thought necessary to report to your Majesty what we have been able to gather about the mission of the Duke Palatine. We cannot affirm the correctness of our intelligence, as nothing has been said to us about the matter on the King's behalf. We hear, however, that the Duke's principal objects were three; first to concert with the King a league between him and the Protestants; secondly to offer him some troops if he needed them; and thirdly to treat with the marriage of Lady Mary, which has been under discussion for so long. The King has decided to enter into the negotiation for the league, and with that object is sending Secretary Mason; secondly to authorise the Duke Palatine to hire 10,000 infantry, including six standards of Low Germans, and two or three thousand horse; and thirdly to defer the marriage referred to for some time longer.
Although our advices from several quarters agree on these points, and, so far as regards the league, they are to some extent confirmed by the remarks of the ministers, to the effect that we wanted to put our foot on their necks, and were pressing them too far, so they must take care of themselves, and other similar bitter expressions, showing their discontent; still we cannot believe that the King has decided to accept the league, seeing that the majority of his Council are against it, and that he would thus be violating his alliance with your Majesty. With regard to the second point; as they (the English) have no hope whatever of gaining any more French territory, since the French have fortified Etaples and Hardelot, we perceive that they are growing tired of the war, and are inclined to a peace or a truce after they have finished the new fort of Maraise, which is very important to them. Besides, they must know that 10,000 infantry and two or three thousand horse would not be able one by one to enter France, and without your Majesty's permission they cannot pass through Flanders; and in addition to this they do not trust Germans over much, provisions are extremely dear, and it is clear that they have not time this season to put an army in the field. All these and other reasons well known to your Majesty make us think (under correction) that their action is simply ostentation and buckler-play for the purpose of deceiving the French and Germans. We cannot believe that they are anxious thus to hazard their money.
As to the marriage of the Duke Palatine, we know that when he took leave of the Queen, he went to Lady Mary, and conversed with her for more than an hour, although she was indisposed. She received him well, but some of the principal people in the realm, clergy and others, exhibit displeasure at the Duke's public remark to them that he had never heard mass until he came hither. For this and other reasons the marriage is not liked, which may well frustrate the object, whatever it may be. Your Majesty will be better able to learn the truth about the coming of the Duke and the mission of Secretary Mason; and also of the understanding the King may have with the Duke Maurice of Saxony and the Marquis Albert of Brandenburg, with whom we are informed he has his agents, although the latter are not persons of importance.
We have entered into conference with the King's Commissioners with regard to the customs tariff (fn. 2) (tonlieux) and the claims of your Majesty's subjects. The Commissioners are Sir William Petre, one of the principal secretaries of the King, and Nicholas Wotton, formerly ambassador to your Majesty; and we have found them ready to adopt a reasonable and equitable view. We are, however, afraid that the embargo of their ships in Spain, of which the release is refused, even against security, will render our task extremely difficult; the more so, as they say they were told in Spain that the ships would not be released on security for your Majesty's ambassador, or even for your Majesty yourself. This gave to Paget, who was authorised to settle Renegat's affair, the opportunity of saying to us that he would have no more to do with it; and that the only way for them was to make peace (i.e. with France).
London, 12 April.
April 12. Vienna. Imp. Arch. 244. Scepperus and Van der Delft to the Queen Dowager.
Your Majesty will learn from our letters to the Emperor what has passed here with regard to the Duke Philip, Count Palatine. It is said that he will cross the sea as soon as the wind serves, and if not he will go by way of Calais. To-day we shall inspect the Customs registers and tax accounts, and, so far as we can judge, these people are proceeding honestly in the matter. We have every hope of settling the first point, in accordance with equity and reason.
We have not been able to speak to Paget on the two points touching the bailiwick of Hesdin, and the cattle taken by Lord Grey, as he, Paget, has been much occupied—we know not whether with the affairs of Duke Philip or others. We also think that they (the English Councillors) are awaiting your Majesty's reply about the passage of Penninck and his men, and also the transit of some grain. Bread is becoming very scarce here, and all the grain they can collect is sent across the sea to feed their troops. We have heard nothing fresh about Francisco Bernardi, or anything else, and we are leaving these ministers alone, except the commissioners for the settlement of the two points.
The King is still at Westminster, but is returning to Greenwich this week. He will not leave this neighbourhood until Whitsuntide. He has taken measures against the depredations and robberies, which are of daily occurrence, but we do not know whether this will be effectual in suppressing them. London, 12 April 1546.
April 13. Vienna. Imp. Arch. 245. Scepperus to Loys Scors.
I remind you that when I was at Utrecht last I spoke to you, in accordance with a request from the English Council, with regard to some harquebusses belonging to the King of England seized in the Netherlands. You asked me at the time at what place the seizure of these harquebusses had been made, as certain harquebusses had been stopped at Dunkirk, which were said to belong to the King; but which, you were well informed, were really the property of a private merchant, if I recollect aright one Erasmus Schetz. I was unable to answer the question then as to who had made the seizure, or why it had been made, but since my return hither we have been informed for certain that the harquebusses in question were seized in the Zeeland Custom House at Antwerp. The Council here have accordingly requested us to ask for their release, and permission for other harquebusses which the King has ordered from Italy to pass through the Emperor's territories. These latter harquebusses are those that the Landgrave of Hesse seized on the Rhine, as you will see by the enclosed note signed by the first Secretary, Sir William Paget. (fn. 3)
London, 13 April 1546.
April 16. Vienna. Imp. Arch. 246. Scepperus and Van der Delft to the Emperor.
By your Majesty's letter to me, Van der Delft, written on the 5th instant at Dunkelspiel, (fn. 4) we learn that your Majesty was under the impression that I, Scepperus, had returned to the Queen (Dowager of Hungary). I should have done so if in the interim I had not received the Queen's instructions, dated the 1st instant, to remain here longer. Having signified to this King that I desired to know when I might take leave of him we had audience of him to-day. He received us graciously, and after he had given me leave to depart he expressed a hope that I would use my best offices in all things, and asked if we had no reply with regard to the matter we knew of, meaning the marriage. We answered, saying that the letters we had received made no mention whatever of it, and expressed our opinion that it would be extremely advisable that he should instruct his ambassador with your Majesty to represent his views, as the King of the Romans would be with your Majesty. The King made no reply to this, but changed the subject by saying that he had no desire but to remain friendly with your Majesty, although he knew that there had been misrepresentations made with regard to him in two or three quarters; but he paid no attention to them, and would not allow himself to be alienated from the friendship, alliance and pledges that bound him to your Majesty. He added that the contrivers of these intrigues would some day be known to your Majesty, and would receive their due reward. He wished us, he said, to inform your Majesty how he had been solicited by the French to enter into negotiations with them, and that if he would employ his Lord Admiral in the business the Admiral of France would meet him. In order to hear what the French had to say he was sending Secretary Paget to Calais, knowing very well at the same time that the object of the French was only to arouse distrust between your Majesty and him. In this, however, they would fail. If they proposed reasonable conditions he would listen to them, but otherwise he would stand his ground, neither doubting nor fearing anything; and with that he repeated very heartily his promise towards your Majesty, charging me, Scepperus, to convey his regards to the Queen (Dowager), who, as Regent of your Majesty's Netherlands, would always find him a good friend and brother. He then dismissed us graciously. So far as we can ascertain, this Duke Palatine Philip's business is nothing but buckler-play, as we wrote your Majesty previously. The Duke left here at three o'clock yesterday afternoon, and will go by Antwerp, where, it is said, he is to receive a large sum of money. The statement is made also that he is a pensioner of this King, with an allowance of 10,000 florins a year.
I, Scepperus, had decided to start for Flanders immediately, but the King's commissioners will come to-morrow to settle about the first of two points agreed upon at Utrecht, namely that respecting the Customs dues and imposts here, of which the Flemings complain; although we have seen that the English are fully justified by their old registers, charters and controls, which we have inspected, for hundreds of years back up to the present time, as we have written to the Queen (Dowager). I have therefore decided to remain for to-morrow's conference.
London, 16 April 1546.
April 16. Vienna. Imp. Arch. 247. Scepperus and Van der Delft to the Queen Dowager.
Your Majesty will see by our letters to the Emperor the details of our interview with the King to-day; and I, Scepperus, hope to give a further personal relation to your Majesty as soon as God enables me to return, which will be as soon as possible. I have decided to take the sea route, though on the journey hither I did not find it so convenient as formerly. I wish, however, to avoid the annoyances of Calais, and also not to be obliged, out of civility, to salute the Duke Philip, Count Palatine, who is to stay at Calais for some days. We are anxious to pray your Majesty to order the captain of Gravelines to allow some fresh poultry, fish, and other similar things to pass for the Lord Admiral of England and Secretary Paget, who we find willing to exert themselves in favour of the settlement of the complaints made by the subjects of the Emperor. Paget has asked us to write to the captain of Gravelines on the subject.
London, 16 April 1546.
April (17 ?) Vienna. Imp. Arch. 248. The Queen Dowager to Van der Delft and Scepperus.
Your three letters of 5th and 6th instant to hand, the two of the latter date reaching us two days before the English Ambassador handed us the earlier letter. From them we learn of all that had passed between the English Councillors and yourselves, and the harsh words addressed to you with respect to the obstacles offered to the passage of Conrad Penninck's infantry; and also touching the wheat that had been shipped at Dortrecht. Penninck has since come hither; and after conferring with him we have consented to the passage of the soldiers, and the English Ambassador has undertaken to send word to the King etc.; and we have no doubt they will be mollified thereat, although if they would well consider the facts of the case they would have no cause for resentment against us, but should be grateful to us for the arrangements we have made. But still, since they maintain that we do nothing out of consideration for the King, but only give fine words without effect, and they are constantly blaming us for this, we wish you, on the first opportunity you can get, to ask for audience of the King, and assure him in our name that we have heard what the Councillors had said to you; and are extremely sorry that the King and they should have formed such an impression of us; although we think that up to the present we have done everything for him that could reasonably be expected of us. We intend in the future to act similarly, and to exert ourself to the utmost to preserve the good and sincere friendship between the Emperor and himself and between the respective countries and subjects. We will try to please and assist the King in all things, and can assure him that he will find no shortcoming on our part if his ministers will reciprocate and do their duty by us. In order to prove to him that we have great and just cause to be offended with his officers, who entirely disregard the conditions on which concessions are made to them, we request the King to remember that from the first time that he asked for permission for Penninck's men to pass the Emperor's territory his ambassadors had been informed of the great injury that had already been inflicted on his Majesty's subjects, and those of Liège, by the troops raised for the King's service during the last two years, on the excuse of passing through the territories merely, although the King never received any efficient service from either of these levies. In order to avoid a similar evil in future, the Emperor decided that before he gave consent to the passage of Conrad Penninck's levies the said captain should come and confer with us, as was fitting; and we clearly signified to the ambassadors that if we could agree with Penninck about the details of the transit, permission would be given for the men to pass in small bands and not in a body; the condition also being that they must be assembled and mustered outside the Emperor's territories. Otherwise his Majesty the Emperor could not allow the men to pass at all, in order to avoid a repetition of the unpleasantness of the previous years. The ambassadors undertook to communicate this to Conrad Penninck, in order that he might proceed accordingly. And yet the muster-masters of the King have since tried to act entirely contrary, having in the first place wanted to make out that the consent to the passing had already been given, on condition that Penninck came to us, which the latter could not do (as he told us) before the muster; and subsequently they led the troops into the Emperor's dominions, and there passed the muster in direct violation of their undertaking. This gave us ample reason for adopting the measures necessary for preventing the passage of the men, in order to avoid falling into the same annoyances that were suffered previously. If the English muster-masters had listened to us the King would perhaps have received more efficient service from Landenberger and Von Reissenberg, or at least he would not have been so much cheated by them. As soon as Conrad Penninck came to us we attended to his business and granted the passport for the men so quickly that he could not say that he was delayed for two days. We sincerely hope that the King will be better served by these men than by the others; and, although we have been obliged by our duty to look to the protection of the subjects under our rule, the King should not take it in bad part, having regard to past events, and to the fact that his service has not been delayed in consequence. The King's officers state that the Abbess of Alten consented to the musters being taken there; but we have the letters of the Abbess denying this and complaining that the soldiers came boasting that they were going to muster there; and she says that if she consented that they should do so afterwards it was only because she was afraid, and wished to avoid still greater inconveniences. The King may be assured that we will not fail to do our best in this matter to maintain the friendship; but we resent the attempt on the part of his officers to do as they like here, as if they had the right to command us, which we. do not at all understand. We shall have enough to do on this occasion in hiding the transit of these troops from the French, who are already extremely offended; and if the matter is carefully considered it will really be seen that we are not treating the English and French equally, but are doing all we can to favour the English, whilst temporising as well as we may with the French.
With regard to the grain coming from Cleves and Julliers, which the King's officers say they wish to pass through the Emperor's territories, we should like to be able to meet the King's request as to this grain, and also that grown in this country, but the scarcity here is so very great as to be beyond expression, several poor people having died of famine; and great numbers for a long time past having eaten no bread but that made of wheat gleanings or beans, peas, barley or oats. We have had an enquiry made in various towns and find that the wheat in stock is not sufficient to feed the population until August; and we can see no other way of sustaining the subjects until the new wheat crop is ready except by retaining the wheat grown in Cleves and Julliers, which can only be exported through these territories, the expense of carrying it by land to any other place being so great as to be prohibitory. This course is the only one by which we can avert the impending famine. For the King's officers to say, as they do, that if we will allow the sailing of the wheat they have loaded they will bring an equivalent quantity more from Cleves and Julliers, may at first sight appear a not unreasonable proposition, but it is certain that the great scarcity and dearness of food here will not be remedied by such means; because by allowing the grain in question to leave, and afterwards supplying its place by bringing in a similar quantity, will not bring down the price at all. This is already so excessive that the poor people cannot pay it; the quantity usually sold for three (sous ?) being now worth ten, and during the last fortnight even thirteen. The clamour of the people is so great as would move any heart to pity, and, as we say, there seems no way of helping them but by withholding the wheat coming from Cleves and Julliers. In addition to these facts we are informed that some of the merchants, seeing the close watch kept on the exportation of wheat here, have since devised a new scheme. They are usually in the habit of bringing the grain from Thilmont, which is the granary of Brabant, by way of Louvain and Antwerp to Holland; but they have now taken to carrying the wheat from Thilmont to Maestricht, where it is embarked on the Meuse and carried to Dortrecht and is there represented as grain from Cleves and Julliers. By this means it will be easy for them to denude Brabant of wheat. The English contend that by the terms of the last agreement we are bound to give free passage through these dominions for all they wish to send, victuals, horses, munitions or other things, but on consideration of the fourth clause of the treaty of Cambrai, together with the last agreement, we are of opinion that we are not so bound as regards such food as is urgently needed for the sustenance of the people here, but that our first duty is to provide that no famine should occur here before allowing any foodstuffs to go out for the nourishment of other people. We have fully stated all this to the English Ambassador here, who has promised to write it to England and to describe the great scarcity which he knows to exist here. You may also lay the facts before the English Council as you may consider fitting; but, notwithstanding all this, our anxiety to please the King has led us to give permission to the Ambassador to export from Amsterdam 100 lasts of wheat from Oestlandt, besides the 100 lasts previously authorised. This quantity will be sufficient to provision the fortresses and feed the troops in the field; and if we can obtain supplies of wheat from Oestlandt, as we hope to do, we will not fail to provide a further reasonable quantity for the King and his people. The King's officers talk about their having loaded 400 lasts at Dortrecht, but we have been unable to discover that they have ever shipped more than 80 lasts, in lieu of which we authorised the first 100 lasts from Oestlandt.
The deputies of the City of Antwerp, with a great number of merchants of various nations established in Antwerp, have been to Brussels for the purpose of laying before the Privy Council serious complaints of the depredations committed at sea by the armed forces in the service of the King of England. These attacks are of constant occurrence upon the merchant ships navigating between these countries and Spain and Italy; and the deputation stated that since the month of February last merchandise has been taken from such ships to the amount of 35,000 Flemish crowns. Not a ship is allowed to pass without the English pillaging something from her, and when the victims go to England to claim the restoration of their property they are ill-treated and personally attacked. The deputation demanded that some remedy should be adopted for this, or traffic in merchandise by sea must be abandoned. The President of the Council having referred the deputation to a subsequent consideration at this place (Binche) there representatives came hither and repeated their statements in the presence of the English Ambassador resident. We have requested the latter to convey the substance thereof to the King, in order that some measure may be adopted to avoid the abuses complained of, or otherwise his imperial Majesty would be forced to take the matter in hand himself, since the English armed forces are doing more damage to his subjects than to their enemies. We informed the deputation also that we were writing to you with instructions for you to press the matter upon the King, and recommended them to send some person to England thoroughly informed on the whole subject, who would be able to give you the information you required. The deputation, however, were not satisfied with this, but urged that we should decree the seizure of all English subjects and goods. We informed them that we were unable to do this, until we had first demanded from the King due restitution, and at last, although not without some regret, they agreed to this; and are sending thither a man with full instructions, and such proofs as they can obtain of the depredations. In the meanwhile we are forwarding to you the statement of claims to be made, and it has been handed to us, and request that you will forthwith lay it before the King and his Council, in order that reparation for the losses suffered by the merchants may be made on the presentation of proofs on their behalf, and that proper provision may be made in future for carrying out the agreement entered into last year with Secretary Paget, providing that the subjects of these countries shall freely navigate without molestation from the King's forces, as is fitting for the observance and continuance of the existing friendship. Failing this it will be quite impossible for the people on this side to tolerate such injuries, and his imperial Majesty will have to provide other remedies, which may result in further trouble; as the merchants are pressing us urgently to decree a seizure, and we are willing to do so. You will handle this matter dexterously, in order that the persons despoiled, who are mostly Spaniards, may obtain some recompense for their losses: otherwise we see that we shall have another change of relations with the English. In order to provide for the future prevention of such trouble the King might insist that all of his ships of war that put to sea should give security that they will not injure his allies, who are of course the subjects of the Emperor, and that they will make proper declaration of all the prizes they capture at sea, as is the usual course when the intention is to act justly to everyone.
We asked the merchants if they were able to identify the men who plundered them, to which they replied that they were unable to do this: because when the merchantmen are overhauled by a man-of-war the mariners of the former have no means of knowing who their plunderers are. They only know that they are Englishmen. If the usual and proper course in similar cases be followed all prizes captured at sea are inspected by the Admiralty officers and an inventory taken of them; and the Councilors here think that this should be mentioned, though the sailors themselves would not bring it forward. Besides which they (the merchants, etc.) say that there are always dealers waiting in all the English ports to buy the plunder, and thus the goods arriving cannot well be traced. Nevertheless they will do their best to present their proofs as convincingly as possible.
The Antwerp deputation have handed us a letter setting forth the injuries and wrongs that people here have suffered at the hands of English sailors, and we are forwarding the document to you for consideration, and in order that you may see whether there is anything in it contrary to the treaty of alliance that is not included in the two preceding instructions taken thither by Councilor Van der Burgh. If such be the case you will embody it in your statement, and demand a fitting redress as with the other points contained in the instructions.
Binche, 17 (?) April 1546.
April 18. Vienna. Imp. Arch. 249. The Emperor to Scepperus and Van der Delft.
We wrote to you, Van der Delft, from Dunkelspiel under the impression that you, M. D'Eick, had returned to the Queen Dowager, as you wrote to M. de Granvelle that you intended to do. We have since received your letters of 26th ultimo. With regard to the request made to you by the Bishop of Winchester, the Master of the Horse and Secretary Paget, that you would write to our sister about the passage of Penninck's troops and the licence to export 400 lasts of grain, you will follow the Queen Dowager's instructions sent in reply to your letters. To these instructions we have nothing to add.
We are likewise unable to add anything to the contents of M. D'Eick's instructions respecting the aid requested; and when you are again spoken to on the subject you will adhere closely to the directions there given for your guidance. If the English Councillors are not satisfied with this you will undertake to write to us and the Queen Dowager about it, but you will not go beyond.
Touching the observations which have been addressed to both of you separately by the Councillors, respecting the marriage, you have answered them admirably and quite as we wished. You will always be very careful to listen to all they have to say and try to understand their aim, but without going any further than you have hitherto done, in accordance with your instructions.
With regard to the going thither of the Duke Palatine Philip; according to what the English Ambassador told M. de Granvelle the object is to offer his services. There is, however, small likelihood of his being able to negotiate anything of consequence; though it will be advisable for you to discover all you can. Our Ambassador in France informs us that he hears that the English are negotiating a peace with the French: the matter being so far advanced that the only question still pending was that of the war indemnity and the fortifications of Boulogne Monluc, he tells us, was to go to England about the business with a Venetian named Mafeo, and the Admirals of England and France were to meet and confer. You will do well to enquire into this and let us know what you can learn.
Regensburg (Ratisbon), 17 April 1546.
April 18. Vienna Imp. Arch. 250. The Queen Dowager to Scepperus.
The object of the present is to reply specially to the remarks addressed to you by Paget respecting the esteem entertained for us by the King (of England), and repeated in your letter of 27th ultimo. It will be advisable for you, on the return thither of the gentleman who brought the present to us from the King, to visit the latter, and, under the pretext of the letters we write instructing you to thank him for his gift, to signify to him our ardent wish to preserve the ancient friendship between his house and ours. We desire nothing better than to be able to consolidate and perpetuate it to his successors: and we would not have failed to have given you letters of credence to the King, offering him the assurance of our continued kindness towards the advancement of the marriage which was under discussion between his son the prince and the daughter of my brother the King (of the Romans), only that when your instructions were drawn up we were absent from the Court. As the instructions were sent to you the instant of the Emperor's departure, and we were very busy taking leave of him etc., we had no leisure to send you the credence. Nevertheless, the King may rest assured that we shall do all we can to favour the matter (i.e,. of the marriage) in accordance with what we may learn as to his wishes. You will confine yourself to these general terms until you receive a reply from his imperial Majesty to your letters of 27th ultimo, which should reach you soon.
The imperial Ambassador in France writes that the French are misrepresenting your stay in England, saying that you were only sent to persuade the King not to make terms with the French and that next year the Emperor will join the King of England to invade France together. We have thought well to inform you of what they are saying, so that you may make some other pretence for your stay in England; such as that of watching the outcome of the present negotiations on private claims. The Venetian Ambassador might be informed of this, as he probably communicates his intelligence to the Venetian Ambassador in France.
Binche, 18 April 1546.


  • 1. Sir John Mason, who was subsequently English Ambassador to the Emperor.
  • 2. The question of the tariff arose from a complaint made by the Flemings that duties were imposed on goods in England in violation of old commercial agreements. For the purpose of deciding this question the old Customs books and agreements on both sides were to be inspected; the result being, as will be seen, that the English were justified in their action.
  • 3. The note, in Latin, still accompanies the letter. It sets forth that 2,500 harquebusses bought by the King in Italy had been stopped, part by the Landgrave of Hesse and part by the Duke of Wurtemburg. Some of them had been released and sent to Antwerp for shipment by Philip Suerz and his partners, but were seized there by the Prefect in July 1545. Paget begs for their release, and authority to export the rest, as they were all purchased in Italy for the King, and were merely in transit through the Emperor's dominions.
  • 4. Vandenesse in his “Itinerary” says that Charles V. was at Dunkelspiel on the 3rd and 4th April, arriving at Ratisbon on the 10th.