Venice: May 1522

Pages 224-233

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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May 1522

May 1. Contarini's Original Letter Book, Letter no. 156, St. Mark's Library. 450. The Same to the Signory.
Has received the Signory's letters with the copy of its letter to Surian, and the account of the seizure of the Emperor's courier by the Count Ugo de' Pepoli.
According to the third missive, of 12th April, forwarded its enclosures to the captain of the Flanders galleys.
The Emperor is expected to quit Brussels tomorrow.
Brussels, 1st May 1522.
[Italian, 1½ page.]
May 3. Contarini's Original Letter Book, Letter no. 157, St. Mark's Library. 451. The Same to the Same.
The Emperor departed hence yesterday.
The English ambassador [Sir Richard Wyngfeld], who had been expected at Brussels, would meet the Emperor at Bruges.
Brussels, 3rd May 1522.
[Italian, 1 page.]
May 6. Contarini's Original Letter Book, Letter no. 158, St. Mark's Library. 452. Gasparo Contarini to the Signory.
Departed from Brussels on the 5th, and today reached Antwerp.
The Emperor has gone to a place midway between Antwerp and Ghent.
Sir Richard Wyngfeld, who was to have awaited the Emperor at Bruges, has come on to Antwerp, where great honour was paid him by the Emperor, who sent the Governor of Bresse to escort him from his dwelling and back again after audience of his Majesty.
Is certain that Sir Richard Wyngfeld brought the Emperor money. The sum is represented to be considerable. The Imperial ministry transmitted part of it into the Tyrol for the payment of the 10,000 infantry now being raised there; and the Viceroy [Charles de Lannoy] will take part with him to Naples.
The marriage of the Princess of England to the Emperor is concluded; and the King is to send a gentleman to France to intimate the repudiation of her marriage to the Dauphin.
The Imperialists are in high spirits, and especially on account of the good news received from Italy.
Transmits letters from the Ambassador Surian, to whom he will forward the two packets just received from the Signory.
Antwerp, 6th May 1522.
[Italian, 1¾ page.]
May 7. File No. 5. Signed Letters, Chiefs of the Council of Ten. 453. The Chiefs of the Ten to the Venetian Ambassador in England.
On the 11th of July 1510 it was decreed by the Council of Ten that no ambassador, proveditor, governor, or others employed out of Venice for the Republic should write on State affairs to any individual here, except the Signory, under penalty of 500 ducats and privation of their offices.
This decree the Council of Ten now confirms. No member of the college in Venice to write to any governor, proveditor, ambassador, or other representative of the State, any report of the discussions in the College. The same rule to be observed by all members of the Council of Ten and of the Senate, under penalty of 100 ducats each.
Signed:—Julianus Gradonico, C.C.X., Donatus Marzelo, C.C.X., Dominions Capelo, C.C.X.
Memorandum.—The [secretary?] Pietro Brixiano to insert this letter in the commission given to all the Signory's governors.
[Italian, 25 lines.]
May 9. Sanuto Diaries, v. xxxiii. p. 237. 454. Antonio Surian to the Signory.
The French troops have marched to the borders of Spain. It is reported in England that the Emperor will not quit Flanders so speedily. The negotiation for the truce between the Emperor and the King of France in the territories north of the Alps (le cosse di là) continues.
Dated 9th May. Registered by Sanuto, 23rd May.
May 11. Contarini's Original Letter Book, Letter no. 159, St. Mark's Library. 455. Gasparo Contarini to the Signory.
On that morning, at mass in the Cathedral, acquainted the English ambassador Spinelli with the information received from the Signory concerning the Turks, and vindicated the State from the accusations of that Florentine.
Spinelli answered much more civilly than was his wont, saying that he bore no particular hatred to any one, though he certainly had a general detestation of the French, on account of their evil practices; and that in the days of the late Emperor Maximilian, when accredited to the Lady Margaret, he, by order of his King, had performed sundry good offices for the Signory, (fn. 1) which ought, he said, at length to attend to the welfare of Italy and adhere to the Emperor.
The Emperor is to quit Ghent tomorrow, and will stop half way between this city and Bruges, where he is to arrive on Tuesday or Wednesday. Will follow him.
Ghent, 11th May 1522.
[Italian, 2 pages.]
May 13. Contarini's Original Letter Book, Letter no. 160, St. Mark's Library. 456. The Same to the Same.
Has just arrived at Bruges, simultaneously with the Emperor. Received there the accompanying letters from Surian and the captain of the Flanders galleys, announcing the arrival off England, at St. Edward's (San Doardo), of the “Donata” galley, which had been detained in Biscay. Has consigned the letters for transmission to the Imperial postmaster. There is a report at Bruges of an order from the King for the arrest of all Frenchmen in England.
Bruges, 13th May 1522.
[Italian, ½ page.]
May 16. Sanuto Diaries, v. xxxiii. p. 252. 457. Antonio Surian to the Signory.
The King of England has sent a herald to the King of France to declare war against him, and has despatched 20,000 infantry across to Calais. He has also detained the Signory's Flanders galleys, and would not allow the captain, Vicenzo Priuli, and the masters to depart. Cardinal Wolsey said the King chose to detain them from fear of their being captured by corsairs, and was also apprehensive lest they should join the French fleet and impede the passage to Spain of the Emperor, who had written to him about these galleys; but the King would dismiss them on the Emperor's arrival in Spain. He has likewise detained all the French merchants in England, and their effects. It is understood that the galley of Antonio Donado, in harbour at St. Sebastian's, has been allowed by the Pope to proceed on its voyage. It has apparently been blockaded by seven galleons and 12 Spanish barks, notwithstanding which it has arrived at Hampton.
London, — to 16th May, in cipher.
These letters were forwarded from Lyons on the 26th of May by the Ambassador Badoer, who announced the arrival there of an ambassador from the King of England, but did not state the cause of his mission.
Registered by Sanuto, 5th June.
May 16. Contarini's Original Letter Book, Letter no. 161, St. Mark's Library. 458. Gasparo Contarini to the Signory.
Yesterday thanked the Emperor for the letters written by him to Biscay, saying they had taken effect, as the Flanders galley detained at St. Sebastian's was at liberty. The Emperor made no reply, but his gesture on receiving this intelligence indicated astonishment, and he appeared not much to relish it.
Acquainted the Emperor in the next place with the contents of the Signory's letter concerning the attack on Postoina by the Turks, and the damage done by them. The Emperor rejoined, “But how is this? for here it is said that they were sent for by the Signory, who is so much my friend that she instigated them to ravage my territories; and that they did no damage to the Venetian places.” Replied that the Turks had sounded the Isonzo, with the intention of crossing into the Friuli to lay waste that province, which was spared merely because the enemy had not reached so far. The Emperor then said, “I do not believe the accusation, but in truth thus has it been reported.”
Contradicts the news of the arrest of the French in England.
Bruges, 16th May 1522.
[Italian, 2 pages.]
May 19. Misti Consiglio X. v. xlv. p. 32. 459. The Council of Ten and Junta to the Venetian Ambassador in Rome.
By his letters of the 13th instant, are acquainted with what was told him by the Reverend English ambassador [Dr. Clerk] (fn. 2) concerning the good offices of the King of England in favour of the State. Is to tell him, in their name, that his offers are most agreeable to them, and that what they have done for him, or his, is much less than they would do at any time when the opportunity presented itself. Is also to testify to the extreme respect they bear to King Henry, as borne by them towards his ancestors, and that they desire the increase and glory of England, in which respect they do not yield to any other power.
Desire the English ambassador's good offices in favour of the State.
Ayes, 27. Noes, 1. Neutrals, 0.
[Italian, 48 lines.]
May 20. Contarini's Original Letter Book, Letter no. 162, St. Mark's Library. 460. Gasparo Contarini to the Signory.
Announces the receipt of orders from the State to show the Emperor in secret the articles of the Signory's alliance with France, and receive his commands thereupon.
Went first of all to the Bishop of Palencia, who said he had the like from the Imperial ambassador at Venice. Read to him the last of the 17 clauses. The Bishop remarked that they now needed many alterations, and that mention must be made of the perpetual expulsion of the French from Italy.
Then went to the Chancellor, and communicated the transmission of the clauses. The Chancellor replied, “I know not for what purpose the Signory has sent these clauses.” Said they had been sent in conformity with an injunction received from the Bishop of Palencia, in the name of the Emperor, who wished to see them, for the purpose of coming to some good arrangement by augmenting or curtailing them. To this the Chancellor replied, “I do not believe the Bishop of Palencia told you this by the will and commission of the Emperor, though it was indeed said that in order to ascertain whether the Signory had exceeded the obligations incurred by her, through the alliance, the Emperor wished to see the clauses. Should your Republic, however, wish to come to an agreement, she must speak in another form. You are well aware of what I told you heretofore concerning the negotiations with Maximilian, who was a much smaller sovereign than the present Emperor. You have given the King of France thousands and thousands of ducats beyond the amount to which you were bound. We have incurred great expense. You must speak, I tell you, in another tone. This present step taken by the Signory is a method of procrastination, and not for the sake of making peace or an agreement.”
Contarini answered respectfully that, unless he was drunk at the time, (fn. 3) the Bishop gave him this commission, which he (Contarini) considered suitable and advantageous for both parties. Suggested that the Chancellor should devise some more suitable plan. The Chancellor replied, “We shall go to England, whose King will prove a good mediator, and promise on behalf of the Emperor.” Made answer that the State required no further guarantee than the Emperor's own promise, nor any other mediation than that of the Chancellor himself, who had always had the Republic's interest at heart. Then took leave of him, being much dispirited.
Early on the following morning (having passed a sleepless night) went to the Bishop of Palencia with the determination of negotiating in another fashion (a la roversa), being aware that the failure of this negotiation proceeded from the firm belief of the Imperialists that the Signory offered nothing but words, and was heartily French, for often had the Bishop said to him, “You are not French, but arch-French.” (fn. 4) On another occasion he said, “There are more Frenchmen at Venice than in Paris.”
On arriving at the Bishop's lodging, found him in bed. Said he had been much shocked by the Chancellor's language. Adduced arguments to prove how much this peace would benefit both the Emperor and Venice. Announced the orders contained in the ducal missive of the 4th, which preceded the retreat of the Switzers and the capture of Lodi, so much to the disadvantage of the French.
The Bishop interrupted him, saying, “Did you tell the Chancellor this?” Answered in the negative, and said that if the original proposal were changed the Republic would take the alarm, and doubt the sincerity of the Imperial Cabinet. The Bishop rejoined, “Don't distress yourself; be easy, for I will go now directly and speak with the Chancellor.”
Subsequently met the Bishop at the Court. He had spoken to the Chancellor, and desired him (Contarini) to do the like both with the Chancellor and with the Governor of Bresse. (fn. 5) Did so.
Details the arrangements made by him with the Chancellor for the negotiation of a treaty between the Emperor and the Signory. The Chancellor's tone was much lower than on the preceding day. As to the proposal made by the Emperor, which he then denied, he said that it had since been confirmed to him by the Bishop of Palencia.
Bruges, 20th May 1522.
[Italian, 9 pages.]
May 22. Contarini's Original Letter Book, Letter no. 163, St. Mark's Library. 461. Gasparo Contarini to the Signory.
This afternoon acquainted the Emperor with the commission received from the Signory concerning the treaty of alliance.
The Emperor replied, “Ambassador, I have always been very desirous of making some good agreement with the Signory. The Chancellor has informed me of your negotiations with him. I regret your having been too late; for earlier in the day a more advantageous adjustment might have been effected. Let the State, however, come to a decision, for on my part there will be no remissness.”
All the energies of the Imperialists are directed to the expulsion of the French from Italy. It is the Chancellor who mainly exhorts the Emperor to attack them in Italy, and being an Italian he claims the merit of having freed his country from the barbarians. The King of England likewise appears to favour this policy, (fn. 6) being of opinion that he will thus humble France without aggrandizing the Emperor.
Should the Signory think fit to pursue the negotiation for peace whilst the truce is yet current, a special account should be sent him of all the rights of the Republic, coupled with counsel's opinion by some famous jurisconsult.
Has taken leave of the Lady Margaret, who will remain at Bruges until she hears of the Emperor's departure from England, when she will return to Mechlin. She said the Emperor was desirous of peace with the Signory.
The Emperor will depart hence tomorrow, and on Sunday will be at Calais, where 2,000 English have already arrived, and as many more are expected, for the purpose of convoying him across. Some persons maintain that this is the commencement of a muster of troops destined for an attack on France.
Bruges, 22nd May 1522.
[Italian, 4½ pages.]
May 28. Contarini's Original Letter Book, Letter no. 164, St. Murk's Library. 462. Gasparo Contarini to the Signory.
On the 23rd the Emperor quitted Bruges, and stopped that evening at Newport. On Saturday he proceeded to Dunkirk, and on Sunday he arrived at Calais. On Monday his Majesty embarked and had a good passage, for in about three hours he came from Calais to Dover.
Cardinal Wolsey was waiting for him on the sands with a great number of English gentlemen.
The King of England is at Canterbury, but expected at Dover this evening to meet the Emperor, who will not depart hence until the arrival of his horses and baggage, the passengers alone having come across, and everything else being left behind.
Yesterday at Calais received the accompanying letters from Surian, dated —, and at Dover others of the 23rd. Consigned them to the postmaster.
Dover, 28th May 1522.
[Italian, ½ page.]
May 31. Contarini's Original Letter Book, Letter no. 165, St. Mark's Library. 463. Antonio Surian and Gasparo Contarini to the Signory.
The last letter of me, Antonio, was addressed on the 29th instant to the Signory, to whom I, Gasparo, wrote on the 28th.
On the evening of that day the King of England, with part of his lords and gentlemen (having left the rest of them here), arrived at Dover to meet the Emperor. He came just as the Emperor was about to sit down to supper. So sudden was the announcement of the King's arrival, that the Emperor had scarcely time to meet him at the foot of the stairs of the palace, which is situated within the castle. The two sovereigns then doffed their bonnets and embraced, remaining thus for the space of two “misereres.” After the exchange of many loving terms they again clasped themselves in each other's arms.
This done, the Emperor turned towards the gentlemen who had accompanied the King, greeting each of them graciously. The King on his part did the like by those who had come with the Emperor to the foot of the stairs. On reascending them, and entering the palace, the Emperor wanted to give the King the upper hand, to which he would never consent, but placed himself to the left of the Emperor. They went thus arm in arm to the hall where the table had been prepared for supper.
They remained talking there in the presence of Cardinal Wolsey and the Bishop of Durham for some twenty minutes, when the King withdrew into a chamber, leaving the Emperor and the Cardinal, who then sat down to supper together.
The accommodation at Dover being bad, we proceeded to Canterbury, but returned to Dover on the 30th May at 10 a. m., knowing that on that day the Emperor was to make his entry into Canterbury, and wishing to accompany him. We were the only two ambassadors who paid him this compliment, the Papal Nuncio [Caracciolo] and the whole of the Imperial court having preceded him to Canterbury, where they had fixed their residence.
On arriving at Dover on Friday, the 30th of May, the morrow of Ascension Day, we found that the Emperor was gone on board the King of England's costly (richa) and very large ship, (fn. 7) with his Majesty, to inspect it. So availing ourselves of the opportunity we visited Cardinal Wolsey, who received me, Contarini, most graciously, and told us he must subsequently have a long conference with us, adding, “Should the Signory choose to act in concert with ray King, and follow our advice—that is to say, his Majesty's and mine—the result will prove to the profit and glory of the State.”
We then accompanied the Cardinal to the sands, and found that the Emperor and the King had already landed and were on horseback there. We first presented ourselves to the Emperor, who embraced me, Surian, warmly; and I, Contarini, can assure the Signory that I never saw the Emperor greet any one more lovingly. We next addressed the King, who, when I, Contarini, was in the act of presenting myself and doffing my bonnet, spurred his horse forward to meet and embrace me. We can therefore assure your Highnesses that we were well and cordially received by both the sovereigns, who then rode towards Canterbury, being accompanied almost solely by English lords and gentlemen (who were, however, in great number), the only two ambassadors being ourselves. Among the Emperor's attendants were the Duke of Alva, the Prince of Orange, and the Marquis of Brandenburg.
On entering Canterbury at sunset they were met by all the clergy, and the Emperor was placed under the canopy on the King's right hand, Cardinal Wolsey being a little in advance of their Majesties, because, as Legate, he gave the benediction. With these ceremonies they went first to the church (fn. 8) and then to the Archbishop's palace, which had been prepared for the Emperor, where, after many loving compliments exchanged mutually, the two sovereigns took leave of each other.
This morning the King went to escort the Emperor from the palace, and they proceeded together to mass to St. Thomas's Cathedral. Whilst the mass was being celebrated, and we were in attendance on their Majesties, Cardinal Wolsey, who had withdrawn into one of the chapels of the cathedral, sent the Admiral, the Earl of Surrey, to fetch us to him, and on our appearance, said as follows:—
Domini Oratores, I have sent for you to let you know that my King, as notified by me the other day to you, Messer Antonio [Surian], is anxious to do his utmost to honour the Emperor, and to secure his passage to Spain. For this purpose he wishes for your galleys now at Hampton, on board of which, as the Admiral told you, he desires to leave but 100 of your mariners in each, making good the deficiency with our own people, besides the Emperor's gentlemen who are accompanying him.”
Knowing perfectly well that the English were determined to make use of these galleys, that they would take them despite all arguments to the contrary, and that any opposition would tend merely to excite anger, we therefore told the Cardinal that the wish of our Signory was to oblige the King and the Emperor in all things possible; but with regard to these galleys, we said they were not of such a sort as possibly had been supposed, being adapted solely to the stowage of merchandise; that it was requisite to man them with a very limited crew, and other officials, without whom they were not seaworthy, and by placing on board of them mariners unaccustomed to similar vessels they would be of no use; and that the English sailors would not comprehend the language of the Venetians. We also said that as two of the galleys were loaded, it could not but prove very detrimental to the Venetian merchants to unload them; and to avoid the loss of money and time which would be caused by their returning to England to load, they might go as they are, and the goods remaining for stowage on board the third galley might be distributed among the ships appointed to accompany the Emperor to Spain, and be transferred to the galleys on arriving there.
Cardinal Wolsey said instantly that this could not be done; but with regard to diminishing the crews, he gave directions for the Admiral [the Earl of Surrey] and Sir Richard Wyngfeld to confer with the captain of the Flanders galleys and the Venetian merchants; and should it be found 100 men would suffice, that number to be embarked, or more if necessary, even to the full amount of the present crews. The Cardinal promised in the name of the King to guarantee the galleys against all injury.
Perceiving this to be Wolsey's determination, we could only reply that we referred ourselves to the pleasure of the King and Cardinal, trusting that they would decide as if the galleys were their own property.
We expressed ourselves thus, as we were aware that the seizure had been determined on; and we therefore deemed it much better that the galleys should be given with the apparent consent and good will of the Signory than ungraciously. (fn. 9) Considering the nature of the present times, and the business on hand, we intend on the first opportunity to offer the Flanders galleys to the Emperor in person, and thus make a present of what we are unable to sell, (fn. 10) especially as we have been told by Wolsey that this grant of the galleys as convoy for his Imperial Majesty would be no less appreciated by him than by the King of England, and would benefit the negotiation on foot between the Emperor and the Signory.
This negotiation, the Cardinal said, had been communicated to him by the Emperor, and as some of its conditions appeared harsh to him, he was endeavouring to soften them, and hoped to succeed, being very well skilled in that art;—these were his precise words. He therefore desired us to go in advance of the King and himself to Greenwich, where he would confer with us at full length, and mention what would profit the affair.
This morning I, Contarini, was informed by the Bishop of Palencia that 4,000 infantry were expected hourly in England from Spain, it being intended (according to report) to employ them in Flanders. The Nuncio told us that 4,000 more English were to cross over to Calais.
The envoy from Madame Louise, the mother of the King of France, is understood to have arrived at Boulogne with the ultimatum concerning the truce, which will probably be rejected, owing to what has taken place in Italy.
This afternoon the Emperor and the King went together to Sittingbourne, in the direction of Altr [Eltham?], the present residence of the Queen. They will remain there one or two days, and proceed thence to Greenwich, and finally to London, the entry into which city will, it is said, be made in state on Thursday or Friday next.
Canterbury, 31st May 1522.
[Italian, 5 pages.]


  • 1. These good offices were probably understood to have been performed in 1513, when Spinelli was at Lisle and Termonde, as appears by his letters in vol. VI., “State Papers,” pp. 23, 25, 27.
  • 2. Richard Pace was also at Rome at this time.
  • 3. “Se non era alhora imbrago.”
  • 4. “Vui sete non Fransesi ma Fransosissimi.”
  • 5. The Governor of Bresse was the brother-in-law of the Chancellor Gattinara, and one of the chief ministers of Charles V. at this period. Like Gattinara he was a Piedmontese.
  • 6. Qu., that of placing Francesco Sforza in the duchy of Milan.
  • 7. The “Henry Grace a Dieu.” See Hall, p. 365.
  • 8. Christ's Church. See Hall, as before.
  • 9. “Parene molto meglio che le habino, monstrando cum contento et voluntà di V. Stà., the al contrario cum desgratia loro.”
  • 10. “Donando quello non potemo vender.”