Venice: October 1521

Pages 181-186

Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 3, 1520-1526. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1869.

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October 1521

Oct. 2. Contarini's Original Letter Book, Letter no. 78, St. Mark's Library. 344. The Same to the Council of Ten.
On the 27th ult., at Brussels, was visited by Don Alfonso Sanchez, a Spaniard appointed by the Emperor ambassador to Venice. Was assured by him that the Emperor sought nothing but the deliverance of Italy from the tyranny of the French, and that he (Sanchez) would present the Signory with incontrovertible evidence, proving that their supposed friends are in fact their enemies. Comparing these words with what he (Contarini) heard from his friend at Bruges, and with what the Bishop of Palencia said to him subsequently at Brussels, is led to believe that when at Bruges Cardinal Wolsey made some proposal to the Emperor of a nature injurious to the Signory's interests. Is also confirmed in this belief by such great secrecy [with regard to the embassy] (fn. 1), the cause of which is inexplicable, unless it be that the Emperor, having rejected the proposal, is apprehensive lest Wolsey, being now at Calais (between which place and the Emperor's court the posts pass hourly), should become acquainted with the mission of Sanchez to Venice, and suspect that its object is to announce the proposal made by the Cardinal, for the purpose of rendering the Signory hostile to France.
Mons, 2nd October 1521.
[Italian, 2½ pages.]
Oct. 2. Contarini's Original Letter Book, Letter no. 79, St. Mark's Library. 345. Gasparo Contarini to the Signory.
Perceives that the Emperor and the King of France are strongly bent on war, and matters on both sides being so far advanced, suspects that neither of them will consider it compatible with honour to retreat, especially as no decision comes from Calais.
Should a conflict ensue, it must cause great detriment to Christendom; and those who thwarted the adjustment, which would indubitably have been effected at Bruges by Cardinal Wolsey, for the purpose of augmenting their possessions in Italy, will have to give account to the Almighty.
Mons, 2nd October 1521.
[Italian, 1¾ page.]
Oct. 11. Contarini's Original Letter Book, Letter no. 81, St. Mark's Library. 346. The Same to the Same.
On the day before yesterday received letters from the ambassador Surian, mentioning that at the conferences between the Imperial and French ambassadors, the Count of Cariati said, with regard to intercepting couriers, that at La Chiusa a courier with letters for Cardinal Wolsey had been arrested, much to the Cardinal's displeasure. Thereupon Surian exculpated the Signory, and denied the truth of the assertion. The [Imperial] Chancellor said he knew nothing about the seizure of Wolsey's letters, but asserted that the Emperor's letter bags had been stopped on their way to Rome. This assertion, in like manner, Surian did not fail to confute by telling the truth; so the Cardinal was perfectly satisfied.
Dropped a hint concerning this matter to the Emperor, without specifying which of his commissioners had made this complaint. Requested him to have a letter written to the Chancellor acquainting him with the truth, in order that Cardinal Wolsey might be convinced the Signory had in no respect failed to observe the truce. The Emperor answered graciously that he would desire the Bishop of Palencia to write to the Chancellor. Will again urge the matter.
With regard to the negotiations at Calais, refers the State to Surian's despatches. Believes the negotiations to be protracted designedly for the purpose of keeping the Emperor and the King of France at expense.
Mons, 11th October 1521.
[Italian, 2 pages.]
Oct. [13?] Sanuto Diaries, v. xxxii. p. 59. 347. Antonio Surian to the Signory.
Cardinal Wolsey is exerting himself much to arrange the disputes between these sovereigns, and has sent to tell the King of France that, if he wish for the adjustment, he must not proceed farther with his army.
Calais, — October. Registered by Sanuto, 2nd November.
Oct. 15. Contarini's Original Letter Book, Letter No. 82, St. Mark's Library. 348. Gasparo Contarini to the Signory.
Has heard on good authority that Hieronimo Adorno, who arrived post from Rome, was the bearer of the Pope's assent to the truce with France, but on condition that the Pope and the Emperor should await the result of the present crisis. If it result in their favour, they hope to stipulate the truce advantageously. In the event of a reverse, they rely on the King of England, trusting that he would compel the King of France to accept the truce, and that France would consent, lest England declare for the Emperor. Considers this probable from the fashion in which Cardinal Wolsey is acting at Calais; and having conversed occasionally with Sir Richard Wyngfeld, the English ambassador at Valenciennes (and not with his colleague the Florentine Spinelli), gathers that he [Wolsey or Wyngfeld ?] is much inclined towards the Imperial party.
Valenciennes, 14th October 1521.
[Italian, 1½ page.]
Oct. 18. Sanuto Diaries, v. xxxii. p. 72. 349. Antonio Surian to the Signory.
The two ambassadors destined by Cardinal Wolsey for the King of France, to make truce or some adjustment, namely, the Bishop of Ely and the Lord Chamberlain, are on the eve of departure. The Cardinal also sends two others to the Emperor, namely the Prior of St. John's and one Master Thomas [Boleyn].
Calais, 18th October. Registered by Sanuto, 7th November.
Oct. 25. Contarini's Original Letter Book, Letter no. 87, St. Mark's Library. 350. Gasparo Contarini to the Signory.
Arrival at Courtray late on the preceding evening of two ambassadors from the King of England. They came by way of Calais, and were great personages, namely, Sir Thomas Boleyn and my Lord of St. John's [Sir Thomas Docwra, Grand Prior of England].
Visited them this afternoon. They asked him for news. Supposing that their mission related to the truce, read to them the summaries of the Turkish advices, received in the Signory's packet of the 12th, and the missive addressed by Sultan Solyman to Ragusa.
The ambassadors seemed to hold the intelligence in great account, and said that the discord among Christians was the cause of this misfortune which had befallen Christendom. Assured them that the King of England and Cardinal Wolsey, by their exertions past and present to make peace between the Emperor and France, had rendered themselves meritorious before God; that the State and the whole of Christendom had no other hopes, save in them, for the extinction of so fierce a conflagration; and that if this were effected the King and the Cardinal would be hailed universally as fathers-general of the Christian commonwealth.
They replied, the King and Cardinal had not spared themselves, nor would they slacken their endeavours, though the Prior of St. John's represented the result as very doubtful; and Sir Thomas Boleyn said he hoped that after such turmoil and bad news for Christendom more cheering intelligence might follow. They both together exhorted him to send a copy of the summaries and of Sultan Solyman's letter to Calais. Is doing so, addressing the documents to Surian by the post which the English ambassadors are despatching thither.
The English ambassador Spinelli, accompanied by an Imperial trumpet and two servants, is gone to the French camp, for a conference with the King; some say for the purpose of desiring the King of France not to proceed farther, whilst others maintain that he will prohibit him to garrison any place, as stipulated in his treaty with England. Both these causes appear to be slightly reasonable. Is of opinion that such a message would have been conveyed by a post from Calais, and not from Courtray, but can only write what he hears.
Courtray, 25th October 1521.
Contradicts the report of the mission of Spinelli to the French camp. Considered it improbable from the first, and his secretary has just seen Spinelli in this town.
[Italian, 3 pages.]
Oct. 28. Deliberazioni Senato Secreta, v. xlix. p. 36. 351. The Doge and Senate to Antonio Surian, Venetian Ambassador in England.
Approve his reply with regard to the letters which Cardinal Wolsey suspects have been delayed by Venetian agents. No Venetian agents have ever detained letters from the Pope, or letters addressed to him by the Emperor, nor any courier or bag. On the contrary, at the commencement of these disturbances in Italy, as a measure of caution, the Signory gave orders at all the passes under their jurisdiction for all Papal and Imperial couriers to be treated like their own. To vouch for this fully, and confute the charges made by the Count of Cariati and the Imperial Chancellor.
Have received from Mons. de Lautrec copies of letters intercepted in the Bolognese territory on. their way from Rome to Germany. Mention this to exculpate the Signory should any charge be brought against them on this account.
Approve his reply with regard to Cardinal Wolsey's inquiry as to the joint march of the Venetian and French armies against the Pope. Being allies of the most Christian King, could not refuse to furnish him with troops according to agreement, for the benefit of their mutual territories. Declare themselves the devoted sons of the Pope. Will not attempt to make any innovation (novità); on the contrary, will stifle every incentive to disturbance.
In reply to the Cardinal's loving offer to insert a special clause in the truce about to be made that the Venetian galleys, ships, and merchants trading with England shall have free ingress and egress both by sea and land, are daily convinced of the intense interest in their affairs felt by his right reverend Lordship; but wish the clause to apply to all Venetian galleys and ships on their passage through the dominions of the contracting parties, and not merely to such as touch at the ports of England.
In reply to the communication made by the French ambassadors, that Cardinal Wolsey had proposed a truce between the Emperor and his most Christian Majesty north of the Alps, and that the affairs of the Pope in Italy should remain undetermined, state that they wish the truce to be general on both sides the Alps, for otherwise there would remain cause for dissension and strife between their Majesties in Italy, to the Signory's detriment, they being the allies of France.
The Spaniards of the Papal and Imperial army cruelly sacked Ottolengo, a very opulent castle in the Brescian territory. They most scandalously despoiled women and men, carrying them off prisoners, taking all their property, and sparing neither sex nor age. They violated even the tabernacle of the Body of Christ, and committed such acts of cruelty as defy exaggeration. To acquaint Cardinal Wolsey with these facts, as his religion and virtue will make him regret the intelligence. The troops with the Cardinal of Sion in the Brescian territory, although well supplied by the Signory's subjects, carry off all horses and other animals which they meet on their march.
A messenger from Sultan Solyman has today arrived at Venice, and had audience of the Signory. He announced the surrender of Belgrade, and declared that his master had left all his artillery in those parts, for the purpose of returning in the spring to follow up the victory.
This news is lamentable, and of importance to all Christians. To communicate it to Cardinal Wolsey.
[Italian, 77 lines.]
Oct. 28. Sanuto Diaries, v, xxxii. p. 75. 352. Antonio Surian to the Signory.
Besides the two ambassadors to the King of France, two other ambassadors were going to the Emperor, namely, the Prior of St. John's [Sir Thomas Dockwra] and a physician (uno medico) Thomas . . . . . [Boleyn], (fn. 2) who was ambassador in France. This was done at the request of the Imperial ambassadors, who, for reputation's sake, wished that two others should be sent in like manner to the Emperor. Cardinal Wolsey, it seems, said that if he were in good health he would go himself to the King of France to effect so good a work.
Calais, 28th October (in cipher). Registered by Sanuto, 9th November.
Oct. 28. Sanuto Diaries, v. xxxii. p. 75. 353. Giovanni Badoer to the Signory.
Told by Madame, the King's mother, that she had received letters from his Majesty, dated in the camp near Valenciennes on the 25th, announcing the arrival there of the two English ambassadors, the Bishop of Ely and the Lord Chamberlain, who were come, with the consent of the Emperor, to negotiate a truce for 10 months, but the King of France wished the period to be at least 14 months, with the following conditions:—Those in possession to remain so (chi ha si tegna); the friends and allies of the parties to be included. King Francis was of opinion that some difficulty might arise about the city of Fonterabia, now in his possession, but that all would be adjusted, and he considered the conclusion of this truce certain.
Compiegne, 28th October. Registered by Sanuto, 9th November.
Oct. 20–30. Sanuto Diaries, v. xxxii. p. 102. 354. Antonio Surian to the Signory.
Gives an account of the negotiations for the truce and its difficulties. Believes the King of France will consent to it, having indeed hard work upon his hands at Tournai against the Emperor. The King of England is fitting out some ships, including a large one. Cardinal Wolsey says the King is doing this for the safety of his kingdom, (fn. 3) but in fact it is for the purpose of inducing the King of France to accept the truce; and the Cardinal would wish him to retain Fonterabia, in lieu of the “superiority” of Flanders. Moreover, the Imperial commander in Ardres, perceiving that he was unable to keep the place, burnt it; and the French governor of Boulogne went out with a force and took several Flemish castles and places, treating the inhabitants with very great cruelty. The French have also taken La Motte and its lord, by name Monsieur de la Motte.
Calais, 29th and 30th October. Registered by Sanuto, 20th November.
Oct. 31. Sanuto Diaries, v. xxxii. p. 82. 355. Giovanni Badoer to the Signory.
Is here with the Queen [Claude] and Madame [Louise], and the rest of the ambassadors. Sends a letter received from Gasparo Spinelli, who is in the camp with King Francis, dated the 30th. The King had held two conferences with the English ambassadors, and the stipulation of the truce for one year depends on his Majesty, but before signing it he would fain witness the execution (sic).
On the 2nd of November the two English ambassadors are again to confer with the King for the conclusion of this truce.
Compiegne, 31st October. Registered by Sanuto, 11th November.


  • 1. Mentioned previously in a letter from Contarini of the 19th of September.
  • 2. For the name Boleyn, see Lingard, vol. iv. p. 203 (ed. London, 1854). It is probable that “uno medico Thomaso” was a mistake for “uno Maestro Thomaso “etc “one Sir Thomas,” etc.
  • 3. Per esser ziloso dil suo regno.” This may relate either to foreign or domestic enemies. In a letter of 20th August 1521, Surian implied that the partisans of the late Duke of Buckingham caused some uneasiness to the Government.