Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 2, 1515-1518. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1864.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. All rights reserved.
The measures now adopted were of Henry's minting. He proposed to meet the Emperor in the Low Countries, and join with him in removing those "corrupt councillors" of Charles, (fn. 1) who had attempted to break the old friendship between England and Burgundy. The king of Castile was bound by the treaty of Noyon to marry the daughter of the French king, provided that in the event of her death he should marry another not yet born. "This is the most slanderous alliance," exclaimed Henry, "that ever was heard of; and the disparity of ages great; for the king of Castile is seventeen years old; the French king's daughter not one year." The Emperor cunningly lamented that he had never been implicitly trusted; was sorry his advice had not borne the fruit desired by both. He had done his uttermost, and was so extremely driven "he knew "no remedy but to accept this detestable peace." (fn. 2) The Venetian offer of 200,000 ducats was tempting; with the aid of it he should be able to help the king and assist himself against France. Could such arguments be resisted? Was he to abandon Verona, to which he had sent that day 40,000 florins and 10,000 florins' worth of cloth (as he told Wingfield), only for the want of a small sum from England, which should be punctually repaid? To urge his request with greater cogency, Cardinal Sion was sent into this country—a man of great vigour and no less plausibility. (fn. 3) He had a long colloquy with the king and Wolsey at Greenwich, and the same day the two Cardinals dined together. On his return Wolsey was observed to be angry and excited. (fn. 4) Since he had been at the helm, men said, they had never seen him in such a state of perturbation. Sebastian, who narrates the interview, was at a loss to guess the cause. He thought it might arise from "the insolence of this Cardinal of Sion," or the receipt of fresh intelligence at variance with the asseverations of the imperial ambassador, "who tells lies by the dozen." We, who know much more than he did of Cardinal Sion's letters, may with much better reason infer, that the anger of Wolsey was roused by the Emperor's unblushing effrontery in imputing the failure of the late expedition to the Cardinal's noncompliance with his ceaseless demands for money; or else to the unscrupulous calumnies of Sion, who slandered Pace and Galeazzo, (fn. 5) taxing them with spending the sums entrusted to them to gratify their own inclinations, without regard to the common interests of the confederates. More probably, Wolsey refused to lend himself to the wild projects and boundless expenditure that found no limits in the overweening ambition and desires of Sion. The projects he had conceived may be guessed from the draft of a proposal in his own hand, submitted to the king and Wolsey. (fn. 6) To prevent Verona from falling into the hands of the French, he required that the king of England should advance the Emperor 40,000 crowns; then by the next Christmas the Emperor should visit Brabant, and depose "those wicked governors" of Charles,—Chievres and the Chancellor. Here he was to be joined by Henry, who should be pressed to receive the imperial crown; and thus the king should become the champion of Christendom, the Emperor his lieutenant to fight under his banner, and the dukedom of Milan his fief. Could Wolsey be a party to such wild schemes? (fn. 7)
The Emperor's treasurer, Fillinger, notoriously addicted to the French interests, wrote to Sion, congratulating him on his dexterous negotiation in procuring from England 40,000 crowns, (fn. 8) which he trusted was only an earnest of good things to come. All parties—a rare thing on such occasions—seemed equally pleased; those who were paid, and those who had to pay. Sion left on the 8th November, with presents from the king and Wolsey to the value of 4,000 ducats; (fn. 9) and he dropped a modest memorial for Wolsey, requesting an annual pension for his services to England until the next vacant bishopric. (fn. 10) The Swiss were promised 30,000 crowns annually. Wingfield was beside himself with this last loving and liberal act of his master. The Emperor dilated on it in such pathetic terms, that Sir Robert, as he tells us himself, "could scantly abstain from tears." So much happiness for 40,000 crowns! What might not come of it? The Swissers would "dance after his pipe." The Emperor's descent so suddenly in harness would "put water on the fire" kindled by the French and their fautors. Even Charles had kissed the rod, and expressed his "contrition" if anything had been done by him or his, prejudicial to their common interests—(so at lest the Emperor told Wingfield);—and as for his nephew's councillors, "they were so besotted and blinded with promises and crowns of France, that they cared nothing about their master or him, so they might carry the whole of Christendom into the French hands, to his peril and that of Henry." (fn. 11) The Emperor was therefore "determined to descend into the Low Countries, and provide such a remedy there as God will." On the 21st November he pressed for payment of 10,000 crowns for the first month, as without them his visit must be abandoned. By the 24th, with the help of 6,000 florins advanced by Wingfield, he had proceeded 400 miles on his journey. (fn. 12) Arrived at Hagenau in the Nether Alsace, and the money duly paid, the qualms of Maximilian began to return. He was afraid after all he should be compelled to follow the wishes of his council, of which "some been either blinded, abused, or corrupted by the French "and their adherents." (fn. 13) Wingfield insisted on the faithfulness of his master, as proved by all his actions; urged how he had put himself to great business and huge charge and cost for the weal of Christendom, the defence of the Emperor and his nephew. It might be nothing more than the old, stale trick of the Emperor, to practise on Wingfield's fears, and extract money more rapidly from England; or it might be one mode of preparing the unsuspecting ambassador for that revelation, which could not long be delayed. One incident must be told as illustrating the relations and characters of the two men. On riding to church, "I upon his left hand," says Wingfield, (fn. 14) "being approached nigh to the church door, there came a hen, being right fair and diverse of colour, which peaceably did light upon my bridle hand, as she had been a hawk, and there remained without moving." When one of the ushers proceeded to remove it, the Emperor seemed to be greatly taken with it; and, says Wingfield, "he esteemed verily the same to presage some good fortune, and at the least he esteemed that before the end of the year the Lady of France (fn. 15) should come unto my hand." Out of such stuff did Sir Robert weave comfort for himself.
By the 3rd December the Emperor's doubts had thickened; he did not question Henry's liberality, yet, unless he were assured of some monthly provision, he was certain his council would never consent to his making this descent. (fn. 16) On the 5th, Sir Robert, in conjunction with Sion, agreed to pay the Emperor 30,000 florins; influenced by the assertion of Fillinger, that if he went to Flanders there would be no money, and he must submit to the dictation of Chievres and the Chancellor. (fn. 17) On the 8th, Margaret of Savoy wrote to Hesdin, her ambassador in England, that he must do his best to procure the 10,000 florins from Henry;—the Emperor would certainly come, and nothing more was required than for the money to be lodged at Treves. "Fail not," she tells him, "for God's sake, as all the good and ill of our affairs turns upon it." As the King of England had already advanced so much, 10,000 florins more were but a trifle. Hesdin must contradict the rumour in circulation that the Emperor had made terms with France. She knows the contrary from his letters and those of Maraton. He is to assure the King of England there is not a word of truth in the scandal; the Emperor would never have thought of such a thing without first consulting his brother of England. Possibly, he shows an outward complaisance, but that is only assumed to further the designs of Wolsey and Sion. But, she adds with increasing earnestness, if Hesdin ever in his life wished to serve her and the Emperor, he must at all hazards obtain the 10,000 florins. (fn. 18)
It was a little too gross. Four days before that letter was sent, the chivalrous Maximilian, the candidate for the honors of saintship, and the representative of the Holy Roman Empire, had secretly taken his oath to the treaty of Noyon, and resigned all claim upon Italy for 200,000 ducats;—and that Margaret knew. (fn. 19) There was no remedy. "I am told," says Tunstal, who communicated the intelligence, "by your Grace's friends, that it is taken for a surety that the lord Chievres hath turned the Lady Margaret as well as the Emperor, and that she, seeing the great inclination that the king of Castile hath to the said lord Chievres, and thinking that it cannot be removed, has yielded. For which cause your Grace should show no more to her servants than as much as ye cared not that the lord Chievres knew;"—she had been implicitly trusted in England, under the impression that she was inalienably attached to English interests;—"for whatsoever she knoweth it cometh out by one means or other. And the same your friends do think it shall be meet for your Grace so to use liberality to your Grace's friends, that your Grace keep always yourself strong enough in your coffers to withstand the malice of the French king." (fn. 20)
The king and Wolsey were incredulous. It was impossible. The news could not be true. The latter wrote to Tunstal to tell him (fn. 21) that Henry thought he must have been deceived, and the report had been devised by Chievres and the Chancellor to make the King mistrust the Emperor and my Lady, secure their own power, and counteract the practices of Henry and Maximilian. Tunstal was to use every effort to discover the truth. "It may be," wrote Wolsey, "that the Emperor doth play on both hands, using the nature of a participle, which taketh partem a nomine et partem a verbo." If either the Emperor or my Lady have any honour they will not fall in with France without the King's consent, having bound themselves by letters under their own hands. By letters from Sion, the Emperor, and the Lady Margaret, of as late date as Tunstal's, the king had been assured that the Emperor would keep his promise,—that he was going to the Low Countries to break the amity between the kings of Castile and France, and remove Chievres and the Chancellor from office; though meanwhile, to avert their suspicions, he pretended to be inclined to peace. The king sent the 10,000 florins demanded by the Emperor for that purpose; and if Tunstal could be sure that the Emperor had not made peace with France, he was empowered to deliver the money to my Lady, "binding her by her honour not to dissemble."
The cold and cautious character of this minister, destined afterwards to take a prominent part in advancing the Reformation, much to his own regret, is discernible in this negotiation. He was one of those whose first thoughts were more trustworthy than his second. His habitual caution and timidity foiled his first and better judgment. Wolsey's letter threw him into great perplexity. It was left to his own responsibility whether he should pay or withhold the money; and no man liked responsibility less than Tunstal. His answer is a model of prudent diplomacy. (fn. 22) He began by rehearsing all the points of Wolsey's instructions;—read them over very oft, "to comprise well the king's mind by the same. And after I had more fully apperceived the contents of them, I was as greatly perplexed in my mind as ever I was in my life, considering the present state of this court, (fn. 23) which is, that such as do favour the King's Grace and the Emperor dare not now of long time come at me, nor yet send to me, for fear of falling into the displeasure of these governors, which here do all, and no man dare offend them, they be so great with the king of Castile their master." He proceeds to say, that in order to obviate the suspicions of these ministers, he had received a message from the Lady Margaret desiring him to forbear all personal interviews. Therefore he had no alternative except to communicate with her by Richmond herald. Richmond demanded of her, "whether this peace late made betwixt the Emperor and the French king was made by the consentment of the Emperor or not, and how it fortuned that he, contrary to his promise and hers made by their letters, should consent to any such appointment. She said it was done for to abuse those governors for the time, to the intent the Emperor might more easily achieve his purpose; but for all that, she said, she had sure and late words, both from the Emperor and the Cardinal of Sion, that whatsoever thing he doth outwardly for abusing of these men she should not regard it; for surely he was fixed in his mind not to vary from the appointment taken with the king of England and her, for no offer that could be made him." In confirmation of this statement she took care to show the herald letters from the Emperor's court, expressing his unalterable resolution. The Emperor, it is true, had put Verona into the hands of the king of Castile because Charles could keep it better than he, but the Emperor had no intention of abandoning it to the French; no heed must be given to such things as Tunstal heard or saw, for there should soon come a physician "who should heal all these sores." In such a combination of treachery it was hard to decide. If Tunstal refused the money he knew full well that the Emperor with his usual trickiness would plead that refusal as his excuse for joining France openly; if he paid it, he had to incur the anger of his sovereign for his blunder. He chose the latter alternative. But before doing so he sent Richmond to Lady Margaret to tell her that "whereas at her request the king had supplied the Emperor with money, and not failed him in his need, he trusted that now she, regarding her honour and virtue, would not abuse the king's most trusty friend," (Wolsey), but if she really thought that the Emperor had joined the treaty of Noyon, she would plainly tell him so. "It were long to write," continues Tunstal, "the words which she answered again as Richmond showed me; but the effect was, that rather than she would consent to any such fraud and so distain her honour, she had liever enter into some religion, never to come abroad nor to look man in the face again; that all the world if she were such a one would speak dishonour of her." On this assurance Tunstal paid the 10,000 golden florins. What else could he do?
The affair looked far from satisfactory, least of all for Wolsey. He had now become the prime and almost sole adviser of the King. Archbishop Warham had permanently withdrawn from the Council; Fox was seldom there; Suffolk was either in disgrace or offended; Ruthal, bishop of Durham, never uttered a single word in opposition to the great Cardinal; the others were mostly men of inferior talents and birth. Rightly or wrongly, Wolsey was considered as exclusively responsible for the policy now pursued. He wrote to Wingfield (fn. 24) "The king is marvellously perplexed and anguished to understand by letters from his ambassador, Mr. Tunstal, in the court of the king of Arragon, that, contrary to all such promises as the Emperor hath made to the king, yet without his consent and knowledge he hath taken and made a truce with the French king; not only, if it be so, to the ruin of all Christendom, but also to his perpetual shame." He added that the King trusted the Emperor's honour, and hoped the report was not true, "but the contrived drifts of M. de Chievres to induce the king to mistrust the Emperor." Wingfield was commissioned to show this letter to the Emperor, and tell him that if the report were not true the king would at their meeting pay him 20,000 florins, in addition to the 10,000 sent already to Tunstal; if otherwise, "the king was not minded to give him one florin, but should have cause never to trust him or speak honour of him again." To this letter Sion replied (fn. 25) that the Emperor, in consequence of his necessities, had been compelled to give up Verona to Charles, and the messengers sent for that purpose had been seduced by the regents. Had he tried to remove them abruptly it would have been worse; as it was, he should gain his end by this apparent compliance with their wishes. He did not deny that Maximilian had sent his mandate for accepting the treaty of Noyon, but this would only give him an opportunity of visiting his nephew, and explaining to him in person the ingloriousness of the compact, and bringing him over to Henry's views. The king need not fear the Emperor would deceive him, for he was too well acquainted with the subtlety and deceitfulness of the French. "There was not a drop of French blood in his veins, nor a French hair in his head." He hated all Frenchmen to the backbone. It is to be regretted that Wingfield did not write on this occasion, but referred the king to Sion's letter; for which he incurred a reprimand, and was ordered to be more attentive in future. (fn. 26)
If Sion's excuses indicate a rooted belief in the unlimited credulity of Englishmen, he held that belief in common with most foreigners and all members of the imperial court. He had been fortified in that impression by his late munificent reception here; he had seen more wealth and abundance than had ever entered the imagination of a poor mountaineer bishop and a needy follower of the penniless Maximilian. Like strangers then, and since, he had drawn a hasty inference, that Englishmen were careless of money because they were bountiful in spending it, and it needed only the flimsiest pretence, or the boldest asseveration, to induce them to part with it. There was, as I have stated before, a sort of insular inexperience in diplomatic chicanery, traceable to our natural position; and, partly perhaps as a consequence of it, a disinclination to trickery and intrigue, which made English diplomatists fair game to the willy and unscrupulous. But it must be reckoned something worse than a want of ordinary political sagacity if Wolsey allowed himself to be deceived by these absurd and transparent excuses of Sion, Maximilian, and Margaret. Affecting ostensibly to accept the Emperor's excuses as genuine, he made no alteration in his measures; he continued to look forward with anxiety to the time when the Emperor should descend to the Low Countries, and, executing signal chastisement on the perfidious ministers of Charles, should by a grand coup de main exonerate himself from those suspicions which for the last nine months had gathered round his intentions. If such a dream crossed the imagination of Sir Robert Wingfield, and buoyed up the mild enthusiasm of a mind which no experience could disenchant, it was no more than might have been expected. But that Wolsey should be misled is as incredible as it is inconsistent with the popular conception of his character. It was but the venture of 40,000 crowns, of which 10,000 only had yet been paid. Did he, like a bold gamester, stake his luck upon the chance, knowing the whole time that the cards were against him? Or, conscious of his mistake, did he continue the same line of policy, though outwitted by the Emperor, that he might not seem to confess himself mistaken? Or whilst ostensibly—and to every minister and ambassador—he appeared bent upon carrying this point, was he in fact, secretly and unknown to all, carrying out another design which no one suspected? Which of these surmises is the most correct will appear in the sequel.
For the present he exhibited no change of conduct towards the Emperor. He listened without impatience to the details of the Emperor's advance to the Netherlands, and to Sir Robert's repeated assurances of his constancy. (fn. 27) Sir Robert, for one, had no doubt, in his own quaint phraseology, that the Emperor adopted this course, which seemed so "apparent to the enemies' purpose, to the intent he might the more surely convey himself to execute the desired obviation (to meet Charles), and to lead every thing pertinent to the same by such paths as might least appear to the enemies." He did not pretend to fathom the deeps of so profound a mind as Maximilian's; nor did he in his humility expect so great a revelation. For that the time had not yet come. "The Emperor would conserve the same till it might come into the forge, where it shall may not only take the convenient heat that may proceed of personal heat and ventilation, but also take the right and desired form which the good prince hath sought a long season, as who saith, through fire and water, with such a perseverance as hath not been oft seen in other princes." As for Maximilian himself it was a happy thing, when he had received the 10,000 florins, that no French "wolf" (fn. 28) crossed his path, and so gave him an opportunity of signalizing his fraternal affection "for his brother and son, the king of England." "I have not given any cause to suspect or mistrust me, nor will," he exclaimed in the fervor of his gratitude: "for though by means of the king my nephew the French do esteem to have great hold on me, and that by virtue of my seal, yet I doubt not but my brother doth esteem to have greater hold by my solemn oath, which I will never break. And, besides that, I am bound by this order which I bear;"—and he put his hand to his collar of the Garter, and with the other opened his gown, and set forth his leg with the Garter, and over that said: "It is not best ye tempt me any more in that matter of diffidence; for to you I have showed so largely my heart and mind, both by word and deed, that further I may not, but gif (unless) I would open mine heart, and cause you to read what is written in it." (fn. 29) That, of course, was a test which Sir Robert, to whom these words were addressed, could not think of demanding.
So matters went on. Maximilian came down to the neighbourhood of Brussels; and the English agents looked forward with the deepest anxiety to the time when he should appear as an avenging Jupiter among the corrupt and conscience-stricken ministers of his grandson. But Maximilian was not the man to do anything in haste; besides, he had spent the last 10,000 florins advanced him from England, and there were yet more florins to be had, if he could make it appear that he intended to keep his promise. The bishop of Paris was waiting for him at Louvain; the English ambassadors at Brussels: Charles, inconsolable for the loss of the old queen of Naples, was not to be seen. (fn. 30) So the Emperor's visit to his grandson was delayed; and still longer his vengeance on those perfidious governors. The French held his bond for the surrender of Verona; he had no interest, therefore, in deceiving them; but he might still make his market with the English by continuing their delusion. We need much the French version of these transactions, in order to see them in their true light. It cannot be doubted that Maximilian had long since (fn. 31) arranged his plans, and never really intended to depose the ministers of Charles. It is more than probable that he was in their pay all the time he was pretending to the English court that he hated them for their perfidy. It is certain that his daughter Margaret was a party to this dissimulation; that she made use of her assumed regard for England to abuse the English ministers, and betray their secrets to Chievres and the Chancellor, whom she seemed to detest and fear. Her professions of honesty were so many deliberate falsehoods calculated to serve her own interests and those of her father; the more monstrous because they were always attended with such earnest professions of veracity. Her interests as much as Maximilian's were secured by the treaty of Noyon.
The deceit could be maintained no longer. It was impossible for Tunstal and the English ministers to shut their eyes to the fact that Maximilian had no intention to fulfill his promises; equally impossible was it for them to continue in ignorance of that which all the world knew—how Maximilian had sworn to the treaty of Noyon, and was on the best possible terms with Chievres and the French. Margaret had played out her last manœuvre; the Emperor the last of his smiling speeches. As it is the last we shall hear of, it may be worth while to repeat it here. When the earl of Worcester called upon him to know his intentions, (fn. 32) the Emperor said to him, as both wore the Order of the Garter, "that they were companions for that day; and, furthermore, that the duke of Brunswick, who supped with him the night before, had said unto him, that because his Majesty had so late given hearing to the French he seemed to feel a great savour of the same; wherefore his Majesty had put roses about his neck that morning to the intent that by their sweet savour the French odour might be taken away." The narrator of this small witticism is Sir Robert Wingfield, as my readers will have anticipated.
The English court had been grossly deceived. It had paid Maximilian's expenses to the Low Countries under the impression that he would put down the ministers of Charles, and that money had been employed by the Emperor to defeat this purpose, and promote his own interests, to the detriment of his ally. "Our simple advice to your Grace is," write the English ambassadors to Henry, (fn. 33) "that shutting your purse in time to come, by all good means possible to be with words devised, to entertain the Emperor and my Lady (Margaret of Savoy) (fn. 34) as they do your Grane We think verily the Emperor will, if he can, cast a figure to come by the 20,000 florins promised at the meeting (in case he enter not further intelligence with France), excusing the breaking of his promise by one means or other." Apprehensive of Henry's anger, and what rash measures he might insist upon when the deceit of the Emperor should come to his hearing, Tunstal wrote very earnestly to Wolsey: (fn. 35)
"Please it your Grace to understand, that at this time, for to understand the king's matters perfectly, ye must first read the letter subscr[ibed] by us all, and after the other subscribed by my lord Chamberlain and me, and thirdly the king may read the letter sent at this time to his Grace by me, whereunto I am sure he will make your Gr[ace] privy; whereof the effect is that such offer as hath been made to th[e] king to resign him the empire cannot be performed, by reason[s] in the same contained. (fn. 36) Here we find great dissimulation and f[air] words, but no promises be kept, if they were such as we do take th[em]. My lord Cardinal Sedunensis saith he hath done his best. My Lady letteth as she took our part fastly, but I am feard she dissim[ules], and have also done awhile; her words be good to us and w[e dissimu]lete as we both believed them, and put all our confidence in her; but we cannot perceive but that all in deeds signs in one acco[rd]. Since I have seen the progress of our affairs, and have considered t[he] tales of Don John de la Nucha, with whom yet my Lady remaineth miscontent, I have thought that he was driven out of the cou[ncil] chiefly by her because she thought he knew too much of the Emp[eror's] dealing, which among the Spaniards he kept not counsel. I wrote that the coming of the Emperor should declare whether h[is] tale of my Lady, or my Lady['s] tale of him, were more true, for each accused other on one point of uttering of secrets. I am afraid all his tale was not untrue. My Lord, at the revere[nce] of God, move the king to take good counsel at this time, and refrain his first passions, in which doing ye shall do his Grace marvel[lous] great service. I think verily all these fair promises were made to get money of the king; wherefore best is to dissemble, wisely this past, and to shut the king's purse in time coming, but in any wise to entertain such amity as is already betwixt the Emperor, the King our master, and also betwixt our master and the king of Castile, lest in other ways doing the king should remain destitute of friends; surely I trust for all this to see the day that they shall be glad to seek in our master. In my mind our importune seeking so much of this new amity hath made more hinderance than furtherance, and maketh them believe they may lead our master (which cannot lack them as they think), as they list ... When I call to my remembrance all these matters;—how the Emperor hath sent divers ambassadors to his nephew, which for this confirmation have spoken great words openly, and also outward a[ss]urance which the Emperor made that he would not speak with the F[rench] ambassadors, I have thought all this was to abuse us and to g[et] our master's money, seeing after his coming in person contrary effects do follow in both ...
"Wherefore, after such sober manner, help so to order all things at this time that our master cast not utterly away these his ancient friends upon this new displeasure. I tru[st] in the end the repentance shall be theirs, if our master will take a little patience, whereunto I besech your Gra[ce] to help. And thus Almighty Jesus preserve your Grace to his pleasure, with the accomplishment of your desires. Arm y[our] Grace with patience, which here we do learn and have not shewed us to any to perceive so far as we do. From Mechlin, the 13th day of February.
This letter from Tunstal was followed by two others, denouncing the Emperor's conduct in terms of natural but not misplaced indignation. The first is to Wolsey from Dr. William Knight, (fn. 37) an able and sagacious minister, whose correspondence exhibits on all occasions a soundness of judgment and extraordinary moderation, notwithstanding his feelings of resentment at the trick played by the Emperor.
"Pleaseth it your Grace to understand that sith the coming of the Emperor into these parts, it hath appeared daily more and more evidently, that such things as he hath offered and promised in time past unto the king our sovereign be but abuses and dissimuled colours, and all to the intent to bring his matters better to his purpose, both with France, and also with these governors here, whose authority appeareth greatly augmented by the descent of the Emperor into these parts. For where divers and especially Spaniards disdained greatly the governance, trusting that the coming of the Emperor should a' redressed right great enormities committed by them, and for this consideration neither did them honour nor made suit unto them, now seeing the inclination of the Emperor unto corruption, which for money selleth not only his honour, but in manner is persuaded for the same to all inconveniences that France and these governors will, they follow the time; but undoubtedly they speak great dishonour of the Emperor. This augmentation of authority and continuance in the same must follow necessarily, and that with increase; for they at the king's charge, their master, doth satisfy at this time both the Emperor's covetous mind, and those that be about him also; and that so largely, that all other princes' liberality sha[ll] be greatly extenuate thereby. They be the cause of yielding up of Verona; for over and above that great sum that the French king giveth unto the Emperor, they promised to gratify unto the Emperor also on the king's behalf; and furthermore he shall have a yearly pension of Spain. And over this, these governors, as it is privily spoken, hath concluded a marriage for a great sum of money between Madame Alienor, the eldest daughter of this house, and the prince of Portugal; and of the said sum the Emperor shall have his part.
"Thinketh your Grace that the Emperor being always prodigal and consequently continually in necessity and need, which selleth his blood and honour in this manner for money, will keep any promise that either he hath or shall make unto the King? At Villefort, where he did give audience unto the French ambassadors, he said to the king at his departing, 'Mons filz, vous ales trumper les Francoiz, et moy je va trumper les Angloise;' and immediately revoked his word and said: 'Nonne, je va voire ce que je puis faire avecque les Angloise.' Such like reasons that should give right conjecture, or rather very proofs, that all the Emperor's promises to the King's highness be but illusions founded upon dissimulation, I must write, and so many, that it should be tedious for your Grace to read; and specially I write the less, because my lord Chamberlain writeth [a]part, and Sir Thomas Spinelly abundantly. If I had been of counsel with my lord Chamberlain, (fn. 38) in my poor mind, I should [have] advised his lordship to have made none overture touching the governance here, considered that he might see evidently that their authority increased after their first communication with the Emperor, and might be right well assured, that whatsoever was declared should immediately after be signified to the governors; which I understand was done the next day ensuing; et frustra niti et nihil prœter odium quœrere, etc.
"Your Grace showed me that ye would break the marriage between the kings of Spain and France. I think it might be easily done; but peradventure, under your Grace's correction, it were not best that such occasion should come of us; for there is an article in the treaty of Noyon, whereby the king of Spain renounceth all his title and right that he hath unto the kingdom of Neapolis for ever, in case he do not perform the said marriage; and also the king bindeth him, and all his subjects, and all their goods, wherever they may be taken, to be as prize lawful, in case the king observe not the said article; and though this bond be unlawful and contrary to right, yet it should be [a] colour for the Frenchmen to do great displeasure, and in conclusion should redound to our great slander to be occasion of so great inconvenie[nce]. And as for breaking of the marriage your Grace may be assured it will not hold, for the lord Chievres hath begun to satisfy the king's pleasure, and suffered him to enter in ludum Veneris, and therefore I cannot think that he will abide the time of the young princess of France; so that with little sufferance of time your Grace shall see that he that was first cause of the said marriage shall be like cause of breach of the same and loss of Neapolis also.
"The coming of the king through England, though he would be content, yet should nothing ensue but expenses of your goods in vain: for if he come your Grace may think that all his council shall be of the sect of Chievres, and all the liberality that ye should use towards them should be lost. Treaty ye should make none that the king would confirm; for they shall say when they be once at liberty, as was said by the treaty concluded at Windsor by king Philip this king's father, that if they had been at liberty they would not a' made any like treaty; and therefore when king Philip was required to confirm, he refused it. And as for meeting of the Emperor with the king's Grace, nothing can follow but importable charges, both loss of time and goods, and putting in hazard the king's reputation and your Grace's also; without your Grace could study how to do the king's matters profitably with the Emperor by some such means as the Imperator useth, which I think would break your Grace's mind too much, or (ere) ye should bring it to good effect, considered that the Emperor hath neither money nor ware for any prince to thrive by, that meddleth much with him. Such money as should be wasted by the aforesaid ways may be well employed for victualling of the citadel of Tournay in season, or for some enterprise to be made upon the Scots, or elsewhere, more necessary. Et quantum ad resignacionem, (fn. 39) etc., merœ sunt nugœ.
"I see nothing more convenient at this time to disturb part of these governors' enterprises than for because the duke of Alva, the duke del Infantazgo, the Constable of Castile, with other the chiefs of Spain, be marvellously miscontent both with the governe of the Cardinal of Toledo (fn. 40) in Spain, and with these that governeth here; and were minded to assemble at Burgos, and from thence by ambassade to signify unto the king that the realm of Castile was not wont to be governed in such manner as it is now; wherefore they would beseech his Grace to come into his realm, for they would not be commaunded by any other than by his Highness; then that the king should send to his ambassador, there resident, that might show on his behalf unto the said lords, or secretly to such as it should be thought best, what inconveniences hath ensued by the misgovernment here, and what is like to follow; and so to show that where the late king, of most noble memory, did leave the kingdom of Neapolis clear and free unto the crown of Castile, the governors here had made the said realm bond and tributary unto France; and not only so, but hath bound their king in such case, which is marvellous hard to keep and none of the noble estates of Spain would advise or counsel his grace to keep; which if ye do not that, then the right and title of Neapolis by their means is renounced for ever; reciting also other articles of the treaty of Noyon, which sheweth to be done by the only subjects of France; and not by any of the king's true subjects; declaring more apertely the affection that these governors hath to France; as appeareth by giving of the noble promotions, which can not stand with the weal of their master; and that the king, for the singular love that he beareth unto the king of Castile, as he is naturally bound to do, is of the opinion, that he heareth say that the lords of Spain beth; that is to say, that or ever further inconvenience be imagined by these governors, which by prodigal largition and promises of the king's goods maintain their inordinate authority, impoverishing the king, regarding neither his profit nor honor, the said king be instantly desired by the noble estates to repair unto his realm of Castile; and what shall be thought good and expedient by the said lords for the weal, profit, and honor, of their king and master, the king's ambassador may promise, on the king's behalf, that he shall with his puissant aid, assist and maintain them to the best of his power. The estates of Spain which be fierce of nature, and now accended against these men, if they find assistance and favour of some great personage, I think they would follow their opinion more obstinately. And if by this means the king might win the lords of Spain, as by mine opinion he should, then might he be assured of this king, and consequently enter such amity with Spain as he would. If this be thought good counsel by the king and your grace, and afterwards be wisely handled, many purposes shall be altered, and specially this governance, which hateth the king and your Grace mortally; and the Emperor shall not have so great advantage by his dissimulation as be looketh for. It is said undoubtedly that these governors and the Cardinal of Toledo, governor of Spain, be reconciled; therefore if there be anything to be done in Spain the rather the better ...
"Finally, I think there is no ways more convenient than that the king do call home his ambassadors, and it cannot be long or his Grace shall be desired; for this time is clean contrary to all that we desire, and that by reason of corruption. The Pope is good French, and all the rest, that may do anything, from Rome to Calais; therefore without that, that I have mentioned before, do help, I can study for nothing. Your Grace pardon me that I am so plain. I think if I were not I should both deceive the king and your Grace also, which I will never do during my life; beseeching your Grace to be favorable and gracious unto me. These long pains, true service, and importable charges would somewhat be remembered if your Grace would help. And thus the Holy Ghost preserve you.
The other (fn. 41) is from the earl of Worcester and Dr. Tunstal, and was, like the foregoing, addressed to the Cardinal:
"My Lord,—Please it your Grace to understand, that the 14th day of this month the Emperor a[t] Brussels did swear solemnly the amity and treaty of Noyon at the great church, th[ere] being present the king of Castile also with many noblemen of both courts; and this day the lord Chievres and the Chancellor, as we be informed from Bruxe[lles], do go to Cambray, but wherefore we know not; but we hear say that it is to con[clude] a marriage betwixt Madame d'Angoulême (fn. 42) and the Emperor, with whom, as it [is] said, he shall have 500,000 crowns; what other treating they shall have we know not, peradventure for a meeting of all the princes, or for going by Fra[nce] of the king of Castile, or some like matter. Lewis Maraton, in whom we have no fantasy of fidelity to our master's affairs, for all his painted words, doeth say that the Emperor will come hither and treat with us of diver[s] our secret matters shortly, by which time he trusteth we shall have word ou[t] of England touching our letters of the 12th day of this present; so that w[e] perceive he hearkeneth all of that matter to know how our master will take th[e] entering of this new amity, to look if our master would put more in the Emperor's trust, which now late hath deceived him in making this peace.
"What our mind is touching that matter, ye know by our letters of the 12th, sen[t] to the king; which is, that the king should never consent thereto, but by good word[s] to entertain such amity as ye have already with both the princes; and as for this breaking of promises, pass it over with dissimulation, and trust no m[ore] in your outward affairs to promises of any persons, but to trust to your own self; for here we see nothing but abusion by fair words to suck money from our master, and to deceive him in the end. I, the lord Chamberlain, spake to the Emperor at my first coming, desiring that I might come unto him familiarly as one of his servants at all time, as I reputed me to be; but after he sent me word by Lewis Maraton, that we should not come to hi[m] until he sent for us, and when he would have us he would send for us; for else his business was so great he might not attend us; which, I pray you, show the king our master.
"The Cardinal Sedunensis giveth us good words, but we perceive he hath no such stroke with the Emperor as ye went (weened), and whether he knew long before of this peace of Noyon indeed, before he advertised your Grace, we know not; but by many appearances we believe verily yea, and so of my Lady likewise. We perceive by the framing of all things here that the king of Castile is not like to be at the meeting, if the Emperor and the king should meet. Wherefore, touching that matter, with all other, we beseech your Grace to help we may know the king's pleasure.
"In the beginning the Emperor let as he would not speak with the French ambassadors, to abuse us; but the Emperor and they have met at a close, and they have all their purpose, and be departed from Brussels, as we understand; whereby ye may perceive that all those remonstrances which were made, that he would not speak with them, were but colors to blind us withal, as the effects manifestly do show ...
"Wherefore, to repeat all our mind in few words, our advice is, as we wrote in our last letters more largely, that by good words entertaining both the Emperor and the king of Castile, in such amity as is already with them made, our master should not compromise this matter to the Emperor, nor to suffer neither my Lady, nor the Cardinal Sedunensis, nor no stranger, to lead the bridle of his affairs no longer; which if they do, it will be to the Emperor's great gain, and to our master's disadvantage no little. And in the end ye shall find them but delusions, as we think; howbeit we think best that our master do withdraw his foot out of these matters, as [if] he perceived not so far as he doth; and to give good words for good words, which yet they give us, thinking our heads to be so gross that we perceive not their abuses, which we dissimule to perceive, because we know not how the king our master will take these matters or order us in them.
"And albeit that the Emperor have had the king's money to pay his costs to come down to swear this peace of Noyon indeed, and no such effects do follow as the king looked for at his coming, yet we think it well spent, both because our master hath kept all promises to his honour, and also because this small expense and charge shall avoid a greater, which the Emperor was about, as it seemeth, to bring him unto. And thus Almighty Jesus preserve your Grace to his pleasure.
But the king had long been prepared for these revelations. Already on the 12th February, even Wingfield, never inclined to despair, had written to Wolsey that the secret negotiations against Charles's ministers, and a stricter alliance with England, could never take effect; (fn. 43) and two days before, Giustinian in his amusing despatches thus describes his interview with Henry on going to announce to him the surrender of Verona to the Venetians: (fn. 44) "Though I could not go to Greenwich by water, owing to the very thick ice, the journey by land likewise being difficult on account of the frozen and dangerous roads, I however rode thither; and after I heard mass with the King, I acquainted him with the news in such language as I deemed apt, adding many expressions calculated to produce a favourable impression. His Majesty thanked me, and remained in the greatest astonishment, repeating several times, 'How can that be?'—as by advices he had received it was impossible. On being assured the intelligence was true he seemed to believe it, and said, 'Verily the Emperor has been deceived by the king of France, and I know how.'" The next day Giustinian communicated the same news to Wolsey; and, if he is to be believed, the Cardinal "was surprised and astonished to the utmost." To make sure of the fact, he demanded to see the letters; and was very cold in his congratulations to Giustinian's secretary on an event so fortunate to Venice. (fn. 45) Sebastian exults at the thought that the news was received with the greatest possible vexation. Unfortunately for Giustinian's discernment as a negociator, the King and Wolsey had long since forestalled his intelligence. As early as the 4th February, Cardinal Sion wrote to say, "On the 8th, Verona belonged to the Emperor; on the 9th, to the king Catholic; on the 15th, to the French; on the 17th, to the Venetians." (fn. 46)
The news took neither the king nor his minister by surprise. They had been fully prepared for it. But not a word of reproach escaped from the lips of either. In his reply to the letters of Tunstal, Worcester, and his other ambassadors, the King states, in the calmest manner, that although he had in the first instance written to them to express very sharply his dissatisfaction with the Emperor's conduct, yet, as Sion had assured Wolsey that the Emperor, notwithstanding all appearances, would perform all his promises, the king would refrain himself and wait. (fn. 47) They were commissioned to tell Maximilian, that though the king was somewhat pensive at the deliverance of Verona and the Emperor's acceptance of the treaty of Noyon, yet, considering his wisdom, the king was willing to think all was done for the best. At the same time he let them know that he was not deceived "by the Emperor's brittleness and sudden mutations," or that levity and inconstancy which made him seek "other occasions upon light displeasures to color his unconstant dealings, and so causeless depart from a friend." However, it was better "to dissemble for a season until they should see the end." They were to continue their negotiations on the same footing and for the same purposes as if nothing had happened.
The policy was sound and ingenious; it was calculated to take the deceivers in their own craftiness, better than the loudest denunciations of deceit. Some men are eventually victorious because they never know when they are beaten; the retaliation of others on their deceivers is tenfold more ample and more terrible, because, till their opportunity has come, they never betray by word look, or gesture, any consciousness of the injury received. By the expenditure of 10,000 florins, an inconsiderable sum, Wolsey had tested the full value of all Maximilian's promises; by betraying no distrust he fathomed all his designs. By pretending to believe his professions of attachment, after all that had taken place, he gave others the strongest reason for supposing that that attachment was not without foundation; and thus was Maximilian brought under the suspicions of his new friends. Aware of the Emperor's inconstancy, no less than Wolsey himself; quite as convinced as he that Maximilian's friendship was more costly than his enmity; Francis knew that when the money, the price of his acquiescence in the treaty of Noyon, was spent, more must be provided, or, as Henry said, Francis must expect that Maximilian would abandon him on the most frivolous pretext and take part with his enemies. Suspected by France, not trusted by England, despised by Charles and his ministers for his vacillation and deceit, Maximilian had totally disqualified himself by this last act from taking any further part in European politics. From this time he sank into insignificance.
As for Charles and his ministers, the treaty of Noyon and the perfidy of Maximilian had exempted them from all dread of foreign interference. If Charles really believed, as he was taught, that the Emperor wished to bring him under tutelage and make a child of him again, that belief had now vanished; and with it any feeling of coldness and displeasure he might have conceived against England for supporting Maximilian. Chievres and the Chancellor no longer dreaded the loss of their influence, or the predominance of English or Imperial interests. As they had nothing to dread from England they were inclined to conciliation. Perhaps Chievres was not altogether insincere when he remarked to Lady Margaret, after this denouement, "that he hoped in six months to be as high in Henry's favour as those who reckoned themselves the best English." (fn. 48) Perhaps, too, he was not sorry to have an opportunity of showing Henry, at the cost of Maximilian, the mistake he had made in preferring the Emperor's friendship to theirs; and in supposing that he could gain, by the Emperor's influence over Charles, advantages which his ministers were determined to refuse. For, as might be expected, notwithstanding Maximilian's and Margaret's ostentation of mystery, Chievres and the Chancellor had been perfectly well acquainted with all that had been passing. They knew the meaning of Maximilian's vapouring; the promises he had made to take the king of Castile into his own keeping, and to punish his ministers; the sums he had extorted from England under these pretences. The Emperor soon became a burthen to his new friends. "The Emperor," writes Spinelly, (fn. 49) "is again without money; and if he tarry here (at Brussels) the Lady Margaret will have to provide it for him,"—a hopeless effort. "The Vicechancellor of Arragon tells me that Chievres will be glad of the amity of England, but dares not let it be known or give any cause of suspicion to the French until the king reaches Spain."
In fact the journey of Charles into Spain was now the great question which occupied his exclusive attention. A year and three months had elapsed, and as yet he had made no preparation for taking possession of the kingdom left him by Ferdinand. Urgent entreaties came from day to day, and hints of disaffection which, if not speedily suppressed by his presence, might prove fatal to his rights. This part of his life, and especially his treatment of the celebrated Ximenes, is little known, and from want of authentic materials has been treated very meagrely by modern historians. I hasten, therefore, to point out briefly what help may be expected from this volume for a clearer insight into this portion of modern history. Our only agent in the Spanish court at the time was John Stile, whose letters are not the least interesting of those which I have noticed in my previous volume. A man of no great genius or political insight, he never indulged in theories or guesses;—he contented himself with narrating what he saw, and sometimes what he heard talked about, in an unaffected, artless style, which makes his description of passing events invaluable, especially when compared with the ambitious and glowing narratives of the Spanish chroniclers. Stile was at Madrid when Ferdinand died, (fn. 50) and, as in duty bound, sent immediate notice of the event to his royal master. His first letter has been lost, but the contents are briefly recapitulated in the second, dated 1st March. (fn. 51) He states that Ferdinand died in the "village of Madrygalegeo," on his way to Seville, eight leagues from Our Lady of Guadalupe. "Few estates or men of honor were present at the decease of the king, your said father. The queen, his wife, was there, and was the day before come from the parts of Arragon. The king, your said father, wilfully shortened the days of his life, always in fair weather or foul labouring in hawking and hunting, following more the counsel of his falconers than of his physicians." Stile then proceeds to detail the chief provisions in the late king's will:—the sums left to his queen and his nephews; the number and names of his executors; the sale of his jewels; "that no man should wear for him sackcloth nor long beard," &c. He then continues: "It is to be marvelled, and it please your Grace, that the late king, your father, of Arragon, had no manner of treasure; and after that he was deceased there would never a nobleman, spiritual nor temporal, go with the corpse to Granada, except the marquis of Denya. Nor here hath been no great obsequies done for the said king, nor mourning made; never less seen for any prince. For those that he most loved and trusted first repaired to the Prince's ambassador (fn. 52) with flatterings. And the queen of Arragon (Germaine) returned to Our Lady of Guadalupe, and it please your Grace, on the last day of January. The Cardinal of Toledo (Ximenes) and the dean of Louvain had the exclusive management: "notwithstanding, and it please your Grace, there is little love or stedfastness among the states of these parts one with another, yet they dare not move in word or deed against their prince or his deputies of Andalusia;" where, as Stile says, dissension had already begun to show itself between the duke of Medina Sidonia and Don Pedro Jeron. He then tells an anecdote of the poor, incapable Johanna, which is, I believe, unknown. (fn. 53) "Also, and it please your Grace, the queen of Castile is as yet as that she was in the life of the late King her father; and, as reason is, her subjects would be glad that she was amended of her disease. And for that intent, upon a three or four days passed, hither is come certain persons to the Cardinal and to the Lords and Council from the town of Tordesillas, where the said queen is; and these said persons have brought testimonials and writings that there be certain persons, priests, physicians, and other, amongst the which one is the Doctor Soto, the said queen's physician, the which he and the other priests, with clergy and physic, upon pain of their lives, having licence, will undertake for to remedy the queen of her disease within the space of three months, saying that she is cumbered with sprites by witchcraft."
By his next letter, (fn. 54) dated 3rd April, we learn that Charles had sent a message to Ximenes and the council in Spain, desiring them to proclaim him king, as he had been in Flanders; a request to which they declined to accede whilst Johanna was alive, unless Charles was there in person. The proclamation in Flanders, made without the assent of the states of Castile, had produced great irritation. So Stile adds, that in case Charles come not hither in the summer, "many inconveniences and troubles will arise, for the treasurers say they have no money belonging to the crown. The Cardinal (Ximenes) is rich, having above 400,000 ducats in treasure, and is a covetous gray friar, and will not depart with any part of his said treasure, for the defence and weal of this land, without good surety of the Prince." Such was Stile's estimate of the great Cardinal.
Charles was in great straits, and his difficulties were increased by the jealousy and suspicion of his ministers. They were doubtful of their reception in Spain; doubtful also if they should be able to retain their authority, with such a rival as Ximenes, and such nobles as the duke of Alva and the Constable of Castile. Maximilian still lingered in the Low Countries, much to their annoyance, and Margaret was not to be trusted. On the other hand, every successive post brought news of the disputes between Ximenes and other members of the council. "The king," writes Spinelly, "must go this summer, or his realm will be in great peril; for since the Constable of Castile has resisted the Cardinal, many lords and towns have followed his example, and their number increases." (fn. 55) The health of Ximenes himself was giving way. In the autumn of 1516 he was reported to be dying; the same report was repeated in the spring of the next year. (fn. 56) Evidently he was the only person on whom Charles could thoroughly rely. In fact, but for the ability and loyalty of Ximenes, Charles would never have enjoyed the kingdom of Spain. The coldness and ingratitude he displayed to this minister are well known, and need not be described here; but, dark as that ingratitude is known to be, history has yet failed to record its full enormity. It is more than probable that Charles would have lingered out another year in his Flemish dominions, but for the discovery of a plot hinted at in these pages, and fully confirmed by his own correspondence. Whether Francis, his ally, was concerned in the plot, cannot be determined at present. We must wait for fuller explanations from the French archives.
It is well known that the inclinations of Ferdinand, his grandfather, had been fixed on his nephew Don Ferdinand, who had been constantly brought up at the Spanish court, nor was it until the last moment that the old king could be persuaded to alter the disposal of his kingdom in favor of the elder brother. The hatred of the Spaniards for Charles's Flemish favourites, the delay he made in visiting Spain, the coldness with which he treated the Spaniards who visited him, turned the affections of more than one powerful nobleman and prelate towards his brother. As early as the 2d April 1516, Spinelly mentions (fn. 57) that the captain of Perpignan had intercepted a letter, in French, from the archbishop of Arles "to the infant of Fortune," offering the assistance of France to procure for him the crown. The rumour was repeated next year (fn. 58) by the Cardinal of Sion, who told Tunstal and others that trouble was likely to arise, from the Spaniards refusing to obey the council of Flanders, and the Flemings that of Spain; and he added that if Charles did not go shortly to Spain, his brother would be crowned in his stead. The rumour grew stronger as time advanced. Yet it might have been set down for an idle tale, or as one of the numerous fictions invented to suit a political purpose, had we not the king's own letter, dated from Middleburgh, 7th September, (fn. 59) the day before he started, addressed to Ximenes, and detailing the whole conspiracy. In that letter he tells Ximenes how he had heard that certain treasonable proposals had been made to the Infant Ferdinand, and he had been urged to declare himself governor of Castile in the name of his mother. To anticipate the danger, Gonsalvo de Guzman had been commanded to avoid the court. Ximenes is directed to seek a private interview with Ferdinand. He is to make known to the Prince, in the softest and most insinuating manner, his brother's resolution of removing the officers of his household, and substituting others in their place. A minister in the interest of Charles was to sleep in Ferdinand's chamber, in order that when the prince is awake he may have some one to talk to. Ximenes is further to assure the prince that these measures have been ordered by Charles solely out of regard to his brother's interests; that the sole motive he now has in visiting Castile is to provide for the comfort of Ferdinand, for whom he is ready to sacrifice life itself. The king added that the unfavourable reports about Chievres and the Chancellor were wholly untrue. No two lords could be more devoted to him. He was now with the fleet, ready to sail on the morrow. The Cardinal was further instructed to employ every species of argument to induce Ferdinand to take these arrangements in good part. He was to send the Comendador and the bishop of Astorga, with whom Charles was greatly displeased, out of the way, to banish them from the court, without permitting them to take leave of Ferdinand. Should it so happen that in fulfilling these injunctions Ximenes encountered opposition, he was ordered to employ force. These instructions were to be carried out to the letter, and kept profoundly secret.
It is not known what reply Ximenes made to this communication. We infer from the answer of Charles that it was perfectly satisfactory. (fn. 60) Never profuse in his gratitude, he thanked the Cardinal in the warmest terms for the ability he had shown in fulfilling his injunctions, and regretted to hear of his ill health. How he repaid him when he arrived in Spain is well known; perhaps Maximilian was not far from the truth when he exclaimed, in the bitterness of his heart, that his nephew Charles "was as cold and immovable as an idol" (statue).
But important as was this voyage into Spain—more important than even those who urged it most were aware of—it could not be accomplished without the aid of England; and to counteract the policy of England, to ply Maximilian with every inducement to betray it, had employed the industry of Charles and his ministers for the last two years and a half. On the side of Friesland, the duke of Gueldres his irreconcilable enemy, backed by the influence, probably by the money, of France, (fn. 61) was making continual inroads. "Aspre has been taken," Tunstal writes, (fn. 62) "and the inhabitants cruelly slain. The town of the Hay (Hague), because it is open, is left desolate, and the people fled for fear. This business delays the King's preparations." In terms still more precise, Charles wrote to his ambassadors in England, (fn. 63) that it was not possible for him to provide against the disturbances caused by the duke of Gueldres, without assistance from Henry. No other course then remained, except to court the favor of England as eagerly as he had formerly rejected it. The conduct of Chievres and the Chancellor became as conciliating as formerly it had been cold and insolent. (fn. 64) The praises lavished by Chievres on the Cardinal knew no bounds:—without his aid the cordiality between Charles and Henry could never have been established;—his master knows right well that the chief security of his dominions is in the good will of England. And the English court deserved these expressions of gratitude. In his utmost need, when Charles could scarcely keep Flanders, much less take possession of Spain, Henry had advanced him 100,000 florins. He wished that Charles should visit England on his way—a request afterwards abandoned on the plea of the king's infirmity. Spinelly, now taken into confidence, wrote to say there was no hope "that the Catholico at his going into Spain should pass by England with a small company, sending his army to Falmouth; for many the which know his feeble complexion doth continually persuade the same" (urge that plea). The sweating sickness, then raging in England, would have furnished a valid excuse, had the feebleness of Charles's complexion been a mere fiction. (fn. 65) One other condition was insisted on: that in repaying the loan he should also repay 35,000 crowns expended during his minority by England for the reduction of Gueldres and Venloo. This condition he would have avoided like the former, (fn. 66) but his necessities were too urgent. "If Henry will not consent," he writes to his ambassadors, "to lend the 100,000 florins, without including the 35,000 gold crowns in the arrangement, you are to agree to it, but not readily." The sum must be had under any circumstances, for delay jeopardized his chances in Spain, and Gueldres continued his ravages.
The court of England was not inclined to remember old grudges, or seize an ungenerous advantage. His ambassadors were magnificently received; "partly," says Sebastian, not very well pleased at the turn affairs were now taking, "to cajole the Catholic king, partly because one of the ambassadors, a youth of about 20 years old and extremely handsome, is of a most illustrious family descended from three Emperors. (fn. 67) His father is governor of Flanders, his father-in-law is De Chievres. He is, moreover, the boon companion of the Catholic king, sharing all his secrets as familiarly as if he were his brother." Nothing could exceed the sumptuousness of their entertainment (fn. 68) or the jousts that followed. The jousts ended, preparations were made for a banquet. At the head of the hall state his Majesty, with the Queen on his right, and next her the Cardinal, and Mary late Queen of France on his left. The feast was regal, the display of gold and silver plate enormous. The banquet over, the King and his guests repaired to another hall, where the Queen's ladies were, and dancing went on for two hours: "the King," says the narrator, doing marvellous things both in dancing and jumping, proving himself, as he in truth is, indefatigable." The French ambassadors were not present. Their conduct seemed mysterious to Sebastian, and well it might. Nor were his doubts at all better satisfied when he told them it was reported they were negotiating a league with England. They smiled, and said nothing. Really this reserve of one's friends is very strange, thought Sebastian; and so it was.
But for the present one thing only was talked of; and that was the journey into Spain, and when it should take place. July was beginning to wane, and the king's preparations seemed scarcely more advanced than they were a year ago. From the 5th of June to the 7th of September he loitered at Middleburg. On the 27th of August, Tunstal, who was with him, wrote to Wolsey (fn. 69) to say that he did not think the king would leave as the moon was waning; though Charles asserted he would go, even if it were winter. On the 7th of September, "he was shriven once again, for he was houselled at the last opposition of the moon," (fn. 70) started the same evening for Flushing, and set sail the next morning. The weather was fair, but the voyage not without accidents. Off the coast of Winchelsea a ship containing the king's horses was burnt to the water's edge, and all hands perished. A strong wind from the S.E. drove the ships into Plymouth roads; (fn. 71) not many hours after they were becalmed off the coast of Asturias, by the mismanagement of the pilot. Charles and his sister Eleanor, for whom the greatest apprehension was felt, endured the distresses and fatigues of the voyage with greater magnanimity than practised sailors. At four o'clock in the afternoon Charles landed at a rocky and desolate spot, some miles distant from Villa Viciosa, and was compelled to proceed with his sister and all his company on foot toward the nearest village, without refreshment or change of apparel. No preparations had been made for their landing. They were in a poor country, without horses or other necessaries. (fn. 72) The village did not contain, says Spinelly, more than 40 houses;—such houses as may at this time be seen in Spanish villages, utterly destitute of the comforts and even ordinary necessaries of life. To increase their misfortunes, the wind changed suddenly to the N.N.W., drove the fleet to St. Ander, and with it all their bedding, clothes and furniture. For the first time, adds Spinelly, lord Chievres and others of the noblemen attending on the king had nothing more than trusses of straw or the hedges to sleep on. But the loss of their horses was a greater inconvenience than sleeping in the open air. No carriages, no means of travelling were to be had; not even the ordinary bullock waggon, the horror of Spanish travellers; "for," says Spinelly, "in that mountainous country the principals go afoot," and the prevalence of sickness in the chief towns had cut off all intercourse on pain of death. The shortness of provisions compelled the king to set forward on the third day. By this time they had mustered about forty horses and a few bullock waggons, the company consisting of 200 persons. Charles mounted a hobby lent him by Spinelly; the ladies were packed in the waggons; the cavaliers, by twos and threes en croupier on pack horses; the majority trudged on foot. And in this shabby array, after four days' hard travelling, the king arrived at St. Vincent, 60 miles distant from Villa Viciosa. They who know what travelling is in the north of Spain with the ordinary fare and conveyance of the country, will readily apprehend the fatigue of such a journey, especially to ladies accustomed all their lives to the luxuries of a court, and whose excursions from Brussels had never extended further than Mechlin or Ghent. "Nevertheless," says Spinelly, who accompanied the cavalcade on foot, "considering the surety and sweetness "of the land, every one suffered it joyously in patience." If anything could render such a mode of travelling pleasant, it was the remembrance of the alternate becalming and hurricane of a late autumnal voyage in the Bay of Biscay.
To the royal party, compelled thus unexpectedly to rough it, and accustomed only to the rich manufacturing towns of the Low Countries, everything seemed as strange, wild, and entertaining as it does to the modern traveller. The peculiarities which struck Spinelly have remained unaltered after the lapse of three centuries. "The country," he says, "is very mountainous, and abounds in chestones (chesnuts), on which most of the inhabitants live instead of corn. They have also a kind of oats to make bread of for the nobles and gentlemen, though that the worst of them reckon to be the best born; and marvellously they be grounded upon the nobleness of blood, seeing that they have been those that have conquered Castile out of the hands of the Infidels; having, by reason of such opinion, proudness enough in comparison of their good and riches. Their arrayments ben small jackets of coarse light cloth, with bare legs and feet; and commonly they wear long beards and hair, being well made persons and wonderly light (lissome); and, as far as I may conject upon good information, they may be compared unto Irishmen;"—a comparison evidently referring to the Basques; the exactness of which no one who knows the two people will venture to dispute.
The king was well received. If during the voyage he still entertained any fears of his brother Ferdinand, they were allayed by the rumours which met him at his landing. Ximenes had removed the Comendador of Calatrava and the bishop of Astorga, and given the charge of Don Ferdinand to the marquis of Aguilar; "with the king's consent, said the rumour, because they had endeavoured to make Don Ferdinand king of Arragon against reason and the will of the Catholic king deceased." (fn. 73) It was no concern of Charles to set that rumour right.
Letters from Spain came very irregularly; and we lose much of Spinelly's gossiping and amusing correspondence at the time when it would have been most interesting and important. (fn. 74) Consequently, of the subsequent movements of Charles, and the death of Ximenes, nothing is told us. On the 31st October Charles was at Bezzarryll (fn. 75) with Chievres and the Chancellor. These powerful favorites are accused of keeping their master away from the great minister, and poisoning his ear against Ximenes. On the 8th November the Cardinal died; and the popular tradition of Charles's ingratitude receives full confirmation by his treatment of the Cardinal's memory. Stile writes on the 11th February, to say that the king had appropriated to his own use the money left by Ximenes in legacies to his servants and charitable bequests, to the amount of 212,000 ducats of gold, alledging that he had done more damage in casting down the walls of Navarre than all his wealth amounted to! The Flemish ministers were still supreme; no Spaniard had a voice in the council, with the exception of the bishop of Badajoz and Don Garcia de Padilla. (fn. 76) The archbishopric, estimated at 100,000 ducats per annum, was given to Chievres' nephew, Cardinal de Croy, fettered, however, with certain pensions. (fn. 77)
And here we leave Charles for a time. Charles in Spain, Maximilian hors de combat, the two ancient rivals remained face to face—England and France; France crippled in its finances by the war in Italy and by the large sums advanced to different statesmen in the courts of Europe; England, under the administration of Wolsey, husbanding its resources, and less prodigal in its expenditure from year to year.
Hitherto it had been Wolsey's ostensible policy to raise up some counteracting influence to the overgrown power of France. Whether he ever contemplated an invasion of that country by Henry in person, may, I think, be very reasonably doubted. At least I find no serious preparations for such an event. It was his object rather to subsidise the continental powers, to keep Francis well employed in Italy, by advancing money to Maximilian and the Swiss, and by supporting the imperial claims. If Charles could not be induced to league with England, any aid he might lend to France was to be neutralized, at least for a time. With a league consisting of the Pope, Ferdinand, England, the Emperor, and the Swiss, Wolsey might reasonably expect that the efforts of Francis towards aggrandizement in Europe would be effectually repressed. But Ferdinand, never hearty in any scheme that did not promote his own immediate interests, lent no assistance. Of Maximilian enough has been said already. Leo X., fearing and hating the Emperor and Francis alike, and rightly jealous of the proximity and influence of both, oscillated dubiously between the two, alternately flattering and betraying both. (fn. 78) So far from the policy of Wolsey meeting with the success he had anticipated, or replacing England in the position it held at the death of Lewis XII., no other effect had been gained, at the close of the year 1516 and the treaty of Noyon, than that of tying all the great powers to the chariot wheels of France, and rendering her the sovereign and dictator of Europe. The result was mortifying enough to the vanity of Henry VIII., who watched with any other feeling than that of complacency the progress of his brilliant and successful rival.
If the language of the Venetian ambassador may be trusted, France was the great object of hatred and suspicion, and Wolsey was only biding his time to wreak vengeance upon it for its repeated perfidies. What these perfidies were no one exactly knew, though every English minister, Pace, Wingfield, Spinelly, and even Tunstal, fully believed them. Rumours, indeed, had been in circulation as early as January 1517 (fn. 79) that a better understanding existed between the two courts than warranted this belief. Francis, with the exception of his expedition into Italy, had studiously avoided giving any offence to England. His conduct, with one exception, had been uniformly conciliatory. He was fully aware of the efforts secretly made by Henry, and his virtual trangression of the alliance existing between them. But he gave vent to no expressions of anger or resentment. Even the help he is supposed to have afforded Albany was exaggerated; and this help was granted in conformity with the treaties existing between France and Scotland; had been openly avowed to the English ambassadors from the first; was expressly understood, and therefore could constitute no just cause of complaint. But whilst he and his agents wrote, from time to time, that France was desirous of a closer alliance, it was believed, in England, that this was a mere invention to throw England off its guard:—"All things are full of deceit, et Judas non dormit," was Pace's comment on the news. By the 4th April 1517 a rumour had found its way into the court at Brussels, "that Henry was intriguing with France against the Emperor and the king of Castile." A few days later the report assumed a more definite shape. "Your Grace," writes Spinelly on the 8th, "is said to be in great practice to restore Tournay to the French and make a new treaty." On the 15th we learn from Worcester that the French ambassador with the king of Castile was spreading the report, "that England was soliciting a stronger amity with France, but without sending regular ambassadors." The whole proceeding was enveloped in mystery; the rumour rose and fell; it was variously asserted and denied; how it had arisen no one could tell; and no one seemed to have any certainty about it. The regular diplomatic relations between the two countries had been interrupted since the return of Suffolk, and had never been regularly renewed. Nothing could be more tantalizing to those who were concerned in discovering such secrets; no bribe and no intrigue were of the least help in unveiling the mystery. Wolsey and the king betrayed no change in their words or actions. For months the Venetian ambassador continued to write to his Senate and the Doge of Wolsey's inveterate hatred to France; for months he congratulated himself on the effects which his arguments had produced in mollifying the Cardinal's resentment. It was France, the Cardinal repeated to the unsuspecting Venetian, that was at the bottom of all the troubles of Christendom;—it was France that had invited the Turk—worse than the Turk himself. It was the restless ambition of France, her incessant military preparations, her warlike disposition, that involved England in continual expense, and disturbed the peace of the world. His master was a magnanimous sovereign, inclined to peace, and most reluctantly compelled to abandon peace and tranquillity, and adopt aggressive measures against France and you Venetians its allies, "because he has heard of the determination of France to molest him." (fn. 80) Giustinian assured him that Francis had no such intentions; if he had, the Venetians would do what they could to prevent it. Wolsey desired no more. He wished to divine the true intentions of France without appearing to suspect them; and he obtained the assurance he desired, from time to time, by pretending to the Venetian ambassador that the republic was helping Francis to embroil Europe and disturb Christendom;—they, of all nations, the most averse to war!
Meanwhile very obscure and mysterious letters had been passing between De Crequy, dean of Tournay, Dr. Sampson, Wolsey's commissary, and Charles Somerset, earl of Worcester. How long this correspondence had been going on, and whether the whole series has been preserved, cannot be determined. The first letter which has reached us, though evidently not the first in the negotiation, is dated 11th March 1517, (fn. 81) at the very time when Charles, Maximilian, and their ministers were congratulating themselves on their excellent understanding with France, and were signing the treaty of Cambray. The negotiator on the French side was no less a person than the duke of Orleans. From the duke's letter it appears that the proposal had been broken to him by the dean of Tournay; (fn. 82) whether or not on the dean's own suggestion, does not appear. A hint dropped in a letter of Worcester's of the same date would lead us to infer that Henry was privy to this proposal, if he was not the author of it. (fn. 83) Before the 24th March the grand master of France (Boissi) had been sounded, and Worcester was then waiting for further instructions to see how the project would be accepted. (fn. 84) Both parties were cautious of committing themselves; each was suspicious of the other's intentions. By the 13th April the matter brightens; then Sampson wrote to Wolsey, that it had been suggested to him by the dean of Tournay of what advantage it would be if peace could be made between France and England. Sampson expressed his concurrence in the wish, but stated that he could not undertake to communicate that wish to his employer. The dean, he added, has twice made peace between the two realms, and will be glad to do so again. Long before that letter Wolsey had been in communication with Worcester on the same subject, (fn. 85) and Sampson's remarks were intended to disengage the Cardinal from all personal risk or responsibility in this intricate and delicate negociation, which now, notwithstanding all these extraordinary precautions, was beginning to transpire. (fn. 86) The negotiation lingered on, but we have no further means of tracing it in this state. In June (fn. 87) the sieur de la Guiche, a favorite with both courts, who had been in England before, made his appearance in London. Sebastian thought it mysterious,—endeavoured to learn the cause of his coming, but settled down in the conviction that it had no higher purpose than to arrange certain private differences! A month after Giustinian began to suspect there might be something more in it. (fn. 88) The reserve of these Frenchmen was very strange! But it looked harmless, especially when on the 26th of the same month (fn. 89) an indenture appeared, regularly drawn and signed by the two commissioners, the earl of Worcester and De la Guiche, professing to devise means for the redress of grievances, and providing that suitable commissioners should be sent from both sides to sit at Calais on 1st September, make compensations, receive complaints, and save the merchants the expenses of the Law Courts. Sebastian thought it was all right; the same round of visits,—the same round of denunciations against France. On the 26th August, formal commissioners were appointed; among them Sir Thomas More, just then famous for his Utopia.
By this time it had oozed out that Francis had offered 400,000 crowns for the surrender of Tournay, and England was not supposed to be adverse to the bargain. (fn. 90) The ministers of Charles were becoming uneasy at the prospect of a more kindly intercourse between the two nations. They had hitherto done their utmost to keep both asunder. On the 14th September the report reached the ears of the Pope. The treaty was now pushed on with greater vigor and openness. Stephen Poncher, bishop of Paris, arrived at Boulogne, and only waited for advices from the Cardinal to cross over. Meanwhile, true or not, rumours got into circulation of the unpopularity of the French king and his exactions. "A fat Cordclier" had declared in his sermon, that the king was worse than Nero. The avocats were in a state of great commotion. The university of Paris, disgusted with the concordat, had displayed their disaffection by defamatory libels, and their officers were thrown into prison. The students took the matter into their own hands, and displayed their hostility in their own peculiar fashion. A farce of more than usual audacity was written and acted, in which the dramatis personœ were personified representations of the vices and abuses of the court; Le Medecin, Dame Rapinne, Le bon Gensdarme, Le Tout, La Poulette. This last personage was the daughter of president Le Cocq, and wife of an avocat, a lady of whom Francis was supposed to be enamoured. On a subsequent occasion, (fn. 91) a trumpeter, sent by the king to read a proclamation, was surrounded by the angry students. They cut off his horse's ears, broke his trumpet as he descended from the stage, and compelled him to seek safety in flight. Next day the mayor with 400 men at arms came down to apprehend the ringleaders, but was driven back. The day after the proctor of the university marched down to the parliament house with 4,000 scholars in armour, and demanded by what authority these measures had been taken. The cause of the students was supported by the constable Bourbon, no longer on good terms with Francis; the duke of Lorraine had retired in discontent because he had been asked to stand godfather to the Dauphin in company with the duke of Urbino. (fn. 92) Nassau had followed his example. These reports may have been exaggerated, but they are too numerous, and come from too many quarters, to be entirely destitute of foundation.
These and other causes made Francis anxious for peace. The assurances given by Wolsey to De la Guiche at his departure, that England would prefer the alliance of France to all others, were cordially received; (fn. 93) and from this period the negotiation fell exclusively into the hands of De la Guiche and the bishop of Paris on the French part, of Ruthal, bishop of Durham, and the earl of Worcester, on the English. (fn. 94) At Henry's wish the French commissioners crossed over to England in October. The sweating sickness was then making its appearance; the king moved from place to place to avoid it, and Wolsey himself was in ill health. Sebastian writes on the 11th November: (fn. 95) "Two ambassadors have arrived here from the most Christian king, the bishop of Paris, and Monseigneur de la Guiche. It is said they are come about certain reprisals; but I do not believe that envoys of such dignity would have been sent on so trivial a mission. The king is abroad, and keeps moving from one place to another, on account of the plague, which has made great ravages in the king's household; some of the pages who slept in his Majesty's chamber have died, so he has dismissed the whole court, both his own and that of the most serene queen; and only three of his favorite gentlemen, with Dionysius Memo the musician, are with him, and accompany the king and the queen through every peril. Neither his Majesty nor the Cardinal will return until after the Christmas holidays, and then only provided the plague cease." If Wolsey's expressions of dissatisfaction with France, openly made and repeated, especially to Giustinian, the Venetian ambassador, were sincere, we must infer that the negotiation now lingered, and was near going off altogether.
When Charles and his ministers heard the news of it in Spain they were naturally anxious to prevent it, and, if possible, get Tournay into their own hands. But Charles had no money; he was already indebted in 100,000 crowns to Henry VIII., and could not or would not offer any equivalent in exchange. (fn. 96) The English court did not wish to offend him;—it would have experienced the utmost mortification had Charles once more thrown himself into the arms of France, as he or at least his ministers felt great inclination to do. So the real state of the negociation in regard to Tournay was carefully concealed or sedulously misrepresented. The archbishop of Armagh and John lord Berners, the celebrated translator of Froissart, were sent into Spain (fn. 97) to Charles to express their master's delight at his safe arrival, to proffer mutual communication of all secrets between them, and explain away the new negociations with France. England, they were told to say, had sent to Francis to desire redress for injuries at sea, and the latter had taken this opportunity of sending over the bishop of Paris and M. de la Guiche, ostensibly with the view of repressing piracy, really to urge the surrender of Tournay, and offer for it a large sum. When the king expressed his unwillingness to accede to the proposal without consulting Charles, the French had assured him there would be no need of such a step, as they were on excellent terms with the king Catholic, but now that Francis had not been able to obtain his wishes, he was seeking to recover Tournay by force. The king of England rejoiced at the determination of Charles to observe his oath inviolably, and "his virtuous inclination to "true and faithful dealing." In return for so much confidence and cordiality he was moved to send the Catholic king warning of the artifices of France. "When the ambassadors "have an opportunity of speaking with the king alone they "shall tell him that Francis is not much attached to his "queen (Claude), who is small of stature, and far from beautiful; and as she is now with child there may be some danger in her delivery." They shall further urge that Francis, "who has heard of the rare beauty of the lady Eleanor the "king's eldest sister, and considers her prospects for the succession in Spain, is endeavouring to prevent her marriage "with the king of Portugal; intending, in the event of his "own queen dying, to marry Eleanor himself. (fn. 98) It is true that this might seem an honorable match; but if it were carried into effect, the lives of Charles and his brother Ferdinand would never be safe from the artifices of France."
Similar precautions were used towards Sebastian; to a degree so far beyond the apparent importance of the Venetian, as would almost lead the reader to suspect that the king and the Cardinal took delight in mystifying this worthy envoy of the republic of fishermen. (fn. 99) On one occasion, when he hurried into Wolsey's presence with a budget of French news, the Cardinal with unusual graciousness (fn. 100) took the envoy's arm, and carried him to the king. On his assuring Henry that Francis did not intend to attack any one unless provoked by manifold injuries, the king laughed and replied; "If he bore me any good will, he would not esteem me so lightly as he does, by wronging my subjects and refusing redress. I perceive that though his ambassadors, who came here, used language as agreeable as could be desired, and were not ashamed to ask peace in their master's name, yet on their return no justice was done to my subjects. I am not going to make war upon him, if he shows me proper respect, and I would fain distinguish myself against the Infidel; not by mere words and boasting, or levying money for a crusade, and then doing nothing." On another occasion he rode over to Richmond with an alarming story of the invasion of the Turk, to which the king replied with a sarcasm that must have made Giustinian's ears tingle: "His Excellency "the Doge is on such good terms with the Turk, he has nothing to fear." Sebastian made a long and lame apology for this renegade act of the great republic, insisting upon the necessity of conciliating the Sultan in their unprotected condition. "Write to your Signory, sir ambas- sador," replied the king, "to be more apprehensive of a certain person, that shall be nameless, than of the great Turk; one who is plotting worse things for Christendom than Sultan Selim. As for me, I am anxious for peace, but I am so prepared that, should the king of France attack me, he will find himself deceived." And he added this expression, Incidet in foveam quam fecit; the pit he made for others he shall fall into himself. After a while the king said: "Let me ask you this one question. If the king of France acts sincerely by us, why does he not have justice done to our subjects? Then, again, how can I put up with his sending the duke of Albany into Scotland, where my nephew is king? The king of France sends this duke into Scotland, who will perhaps put the king to death, in like manner as his brother died, which I never intend to suffer. I am king of this island, and am perfectly satisfied, (fn. 101) and yet it seems to me I do not do my duty thoroughly, nor govern my subjects well; and if I could have greater dominion, nay, upon my oath, if I could be Lord of the world, I would not; as I know I could not do my duty, and that for my omissions God will call me unto judgment. Whereas, this king is a greater lord than I; he has a larger kingdom and more territory; and yet he is not content, but chooses to meddle in matters which appertain to me. But I have more than he has, and shall have more troops whenever I please."
Candid and magnanimous as this avowal appears, with the exception of the last sentence, it is certain that at this very time the King and Wolsey were on a very good understanding with France. Even Sebastian was only half deceived. He could scarcely trust his senses, when he heard the king talk so glibly of his preparations against France, and yet when he looked abroad observe no bustle or note of them. Only three days after this harangue, Clarencieux returned from the French court, where he had been sent by Henry, in company with a French herald, bringing letters from Francis announcing the birth of the Dauphin, much to the king's satisfaction. (fn. 102) Yet long after this, when the terms of the negociation were known and almost settled on both sides, Wolsey and the king continued to hold the same language to the bewildered Venetian. (fn. 103) On one occasion when Sebastian's companion, the Spanish ambassador, employed his choicest rhetoric in urging the crusade, Wolsey cut him short with the rejoinder, that this was no time to make preparations. Then turning to the Venetian, "You are in a perilous position, but more from the Christian than the true Turk." Sebastian, however, began to guess that the whole was a scene enacted for the behoof of the Spaniard. Nor was he far wrong in his conjecture; for when the Spaniard had left the room, Wolsey spoke of the French king in more decorous terms, saying, "If I perceive the king of France means well to his Majesty, and will do justice, I will conclude this union. The king of France has now got a son, and the king of England a daughter. I will unite them by these means." Yet even after this he had not dropped the disguise entirely, for when Sebastian told him in the course of a subsequent interview, that Francis had always displayed great affection to Venice, "Don't be taken by surprise," replied Wolsey; "you Venetians have often been deceived by the kings of France." Sebastian retorted: "Alius fuit Ludovicus, alius Franciscus." "Galli sunt omnes" (rogues all), rejoined Wolsey.
Hitherto the negociations had only embraced the surrender of Tournay, and the terms of a stricter alliance. The birth of the Dauphin, Feb. 28, 1518, seemed to open, as Wolsey had hinted, the prospect of a closer union between the two crowns. The proceedings were inaugurated by a letter from Stephen Poncher, the aged bishop of Paris, expressing his anxiety to further peace, as he had done in the days of Lewis XII., and reminding the Cardinal of a conversation which had passed between them at the arrangements for Tournay. (fn. 104) He sent at the same time his secretary, John Gobelin, (fn. 105) —a name since famous throughout the world,—to remind the Cardinal that the bishop had not forgotten the desire expressed by Wolsey, when he and De la Guiche were ambassadors in England; that if the queen of France, who was then pregnant, should have a son, a marriage might be contracted between him and the princess Mary. The king his master was aware of Wolsey's desire to further the amity between the two crowns, and hoped for his good offices in the matter. If agreeable to the Cardinal, he requested the negociation might be secret and speedy, and carried on under the pretext of an arrangement for Tournay. Wolsey's answer has not been preserved in the English archives; it may probably be found in France. We learn, however, from a letter of the bishop's, dated 14th May, (fn. 106) that he considered it so important as to submit it at once to Francis; and both concurred in the Cardinal's suggestion that the negociations should be carried on through some trusty messenger, in preference to a more ostentatious embassy. The management of the whole affair fell into the hands of Wolsey. The king was of course privy to it; but when Dr. Clerk was despatched from the Cardinal to the court, then residing at Woodstock in consequence of the plague, the king took him apart, and strictly enjoined him that "in no wise should he make mention of London "matters" (that is, the French treaty then negociated by Wolsey alone in London) "before his lords." These lords were the dukes of Buckingham and Suffolk, Lovell and Marny, (fn. 107) all members of the privy council. It is probable that Lovell was aware of these proceedings; (fn. 108) —that Suffolk, who always favoured the French interests, and had apparently retired from court when its measures were hostile to Francis, more than guessed what was going on, can scarcely be doubted. For some reasons, not clearly explained, disagreements had arisen between Suffolk and Wolsey, (fn. 109) to which I shall refer at greater length hereafter, occasioned apparently by the fact that the duke had employed his influence with the French ambassadors to learn the secrets of their mission. At least, it is not easy to put any other interpretation on Pace's words. He states (fn. 110) that after Suffolk had received the sacrament, on Easter day, he desired Pace to hear him speak, and said, "he had been accused as untrue to the king's Grace, as well in the accepting of a protection offered unto him by the French king, as in putting the French orators, at their late being here or afore their coming, in comfort of the restitution of Tournay." This Suffolk denied. In a subsequent conversation with Pace, (fn. 111) he spoke strongly of his desire for reconciliation with Wolsey, "confirming with solemn oaths, in most humble manner, the most faithful love and servitude that he intendeth to use towards your Grace, during his life, in all manner of things touching your honor."
As both kings were equally anxious for the match, it proceeded without further impediment. (fn. 112) By the 9th July, (fn. 113) the articles were drawn and concluded, and nothing now remained but the formal acceptance of them by the high contracting parties. Bonnivet, the admiral, was sent into England on a more splendid mission than any which had yet left the shores of France. He was attended by the bishop of Paris, and a numerous train; thirty gentlemen, and fifty archers, with wrestlers, musicians, and tennis players. (fn. 114) The largeness of the company occasioned some irregularity in its arrival. On the 28th August, the bishop landed at Sandwich, and was directed to wait at Gravesend, where a barge would be ready for his reception. The rest of the embassy had not yet started from Calais. (fn. 115) The weather was stormy, and it was not thought consistent with the king's dignity to receive one party without the other. Even then, if we may credit Giustinian, all difficulties had not disappeared. He found the Cardinal and the bishop in close conclave. High words had passed between them. The arrival of the bishop unattended had awakened the dormant suspicions of the English, that after all Francis intended to deceive them; and the extreme secrecy observed even now by Wolsey shows how cautiously he guarded himself against such a contingency. The real points in debate may be seen in Wolsey's letter to the king. (fn. 116) It was he who insisted on having the best of the bargain; even then, at the eleventh hour, he wrung additional concessions from the French. One of these concessions had reference to Scotland; Albany should not be permitted to return thither; a stipulation which occasioned the King of France the greatest annoyance.
Sebastian was anxious to penetrate the mystery, and discover in what state the matter stood. He only half relished this close intimacy between France and England, which he had formerly urged with vehemency when he saw there was no hope of it; now it was near its accomplishment, it seemed to have no other effect than that of throwing himself and the republic into the shade. He rode over to Eltham on the 18th September, under the plausible pretext of offering the king his warmest congratulations on the peace and union between the two crowns—(he could always succeed better with the king than the Cardinal),—hoping in reality, at some unguarded interval, to make himself "master of the situation." Unfortunately for him, the king was going out for an airing, and he learnt no more than that peace had not yet been concluded, with a hint that many details still remained for discussion. By no means baffled by this disappointment, the envoy hurried away to Sir Thomas More, the newly made councillor, then attending on the king as one of his secretaries. "I adroitly turned the conversation—(they are his own words)—to these negociations concerning peace and marriage; but More did not open, and pretended not know in what the difficulties consisted, declaring that the Cardinal of York 'most solely,' to use his own expression, transacted this matter with the French ambassadors, and when he has concluded then he calls in the councillors, so that the king himself scarcely knows in what state matters are."
All difficulties were arranged at last;—the voice of dispute, and the sharp dialectics of diplomatists striving to outwit each other, were silent before the public rejoicings, as the gay trains of ambassadors in strange and picturesque array passed along the streets. On 23rd September the lord Admiral made his appearance with an enormous cavalcade, exceeding 600 horsemen, in splendid equipages, attended by 70 mules and 7 waggons loaded with baggage, to the immense delight of the good citizens of London. (fn. 117) Such an embassy had never been seen within its walls before. They were met by the lord Surrey, high admiral, with 160 lords and gentlemen, on the part of England, resolved not to be outdone by their French rivals. The mounted procession numbered 1,400, half French and half English, 30 of them being the Scotch guards of the French king, accompanied by the same number of English guards. On the 26th the king, attended by the legates, gave them a public audience at Greenwich in a magnificent assembly of all the nobles of the realm. (fn. 118) The bishop of Paris delivered the oration. He enlarged on the blessings of peace, and the happy prospects which now dawned upon Christendom by the union of its two most powerful sovereigns, concluding his speech by demanding the hand of princess Mary for the dauphin. The reply was delivered by Nicholas West, bishop of Ely, in much the same strain, and of course with the expected conclusion. This done, the king "got upon his legs, and calling all the French gentlemen one by one, embraced them very graciously." Then he led the French ambassador and Wolsey into an inner chamber, leaving the legate Campeggio, who happened to be present with other ambassadors, standing at the door. Sebastian is very much scandalized at the little respect paid by England to the Holy See. (fn. 119)
On the 3rd October (Sunday) the king, with a train of 1,000 mounted gentlemen richly dressed, attended by the legates and all the foreign ambassadors, went in procession to St. Paul's. The mass was sung by Wolsey, assisted by the bishops and mitred abbots. Pace preached the sermon. The service ended, the king took his oath. "The ceremonial," says Bonnivet, writing to Francis, and familiar with such displays, "was too magnificent for description. Tomorrow (the 5th Oct.) they go to Greenwich; and I," he adds, "shall be in great glory for that day, as they desire me to personate Mons. the Dauphin as fiancé to Madame the Princess." All were in high glee: feasting and rejoicing prevailed everywhere. The same day the king dined with the bishop of London, returning afterwards to Durham House in the Strand, from which he had started in the morning.
"After dinner the Cardinal of York was followed by the entire company to his own house (at Westminster), where they sate down to a most sumptuous supper, the like of which, I fancy, (says Giustinian,) was never given by Cleopatra or Caligula; the whole banqueting hall being so decorated with huge vases of gold and silver, that I fancied myself in the tower of Chosroes, where that monarch caused divine honors to be paid him. After supper a mummery, consisting of twelve male and twelve female dancers, made their appearance in the richest and most sumptuous array possible, being all dressed alike. After performing certain dances in their own fashion, they took off their visors. The two leaders were the king and queen dowager of France, (fn. 120) and all the others were lords and ladies, who seated themselves apart from the tables, and were served with countless dishes of confections and other delicacies. After gratifying their palates, they gratified their eyes and hands; large bowls, filled with ducats and dice, were placed on the tables for such as liked to gamble: shortly after which the supper- tables were removed, when dancing recommenced, and, lasted until midnight.
"When the banquet was done, in came six minstrels disguised, and after them followed three gentlemen in wide and long gowns of crimson satin, every one having a cup of gold in his hands; the first cup was full of angels and royals, the second had divers bales of dice and the third had certain pairs of cards. These gentlemen offered to play at mumchance, and when they had played the length of the first board, then the minstrels blew up, and then entered into the chamber twelve ladies disguised; the first was the king himself and the French queen; the 2nd, the duke of Suffolk and the lady Daubney; 3rd, the lord Admiral and the lady Guilford; 4th, Sir Edw. Neville and lady St. Leger; 5th, Sir Henry Guilford and Mrs. (Miss) Walden; 6th, Captain Emery and Mrs. Ann Carew; 7th, Sir Giles Capel and lady Elizabeth Carew; 8th, Nicholas Carew and Ann Browne; 9th, Francis Brian and Elizabeth Blount; 10th, Henry Norris and Ann Wotton; 11th, Francis Poyntz and Mary Fyennes; 12th, Arthur Pole and Margaret Bruges.
"On this company twelve knights attended in disguise, and bearing torches. All these thirty-six persons were disguised in one suit of fine green satin all over covered with cloth of gold, under-tied together with laces of gold, and had masking hoods on their heads: the ladies had tires made of braids of damask gold, with long hairs of white gold. All these maskers danced at one time, and after they had danced they put off their visors, and then they were all known. The admiral and lords of France heartily thanked the king that it pleased him to visit them with such disport." (fn. 121)
On the 5th October the bridal ceremonies were celebrated at Greenwich. The king took his station in front of the throne; on one side stood Mary of France and queen Katharine; in front of her mother was the princess Mary, just two years old, dressed in cloth of gold with a cap of black velvet on her head blazing with jewels. On the other side stood the two legates, Wolsey and Campeggio. After a speech by Dr. Tunstal (fn. 122) the princess was taken in arms; the consent of the king and queen was demanded and granted; and Wolsey approached with a diminutive gold ring fitted to the young lady's finger, in which was a diamond of great value. The lord Admiral, as proxy for the bridegroom, passed it over the second joint; the bride was blessed and mass performed by Wolsey, the king and the whole court attending it. These ceremonials were followed by a series of entertainments of the most costly description. The bill of fare for one day, the 7th October, will be found at the end of this volume. (fn. 123) Among the solid viands were 3,000 loaves of bread, 3 tuns and 2 pipes of wine, 6 tuns and 7 hogsheads of ale, 10¾ carcases of beeves, 56 of muttons, 3 porkers, 4 fat hogs, 10 pigs, 2 doz. fat capons, 5 doz. and 7 Kentish capons, 7 doz. of a coarser kind, 27 doz. of chickens, 2½ doz. of pullets, 15 swans, 6 cranes, 32 doz. pigeons, 54 doz. of larks, 5 doz. and 8 geese, 4 peacocks, 18 peachicks, 35 lbs. of dates, 26 lbs. of prunes, 31 lbs. of small raisins, 32 lbs. of almonds, 4 lbs. of green ginger, 4 lbs. of marmalade, 3,000 pears, 1,300 apples, 220 quinces, 5¼ lbs. of long comfits, 28 lbs. of small, 16½ gallons of cream, 16 gallons of milk, 6 gallons of frumenty, 7 gallons of curds, 367 dishes of butter. Among other items set down in the King's Book of Payments for the occasion is the sum of 1,000l. advanced to the king for "playing-money," gambling; 800l. at one time in rewards to the French king's gentlemen, 1,829l. 14s. in plate at another. The sum paid for "an hall place" (haut pas?) in St. Paul's church for the marriage of the princess was 21l.; for "the mummery held at my lord Cardinal's place at West-minster, and for the disguising at Greenwich, 230l. 4s. 4d." (fn. 124) The personal expenses of the King for that month were 9,606l. 2s. 3d. as against 3,085l. 6s. 10d. of the previous year. The whole court during the celebration was engrossed with one unvarying round of festivities. In the memory of the oldest inhabitant no occasion like it had ever happened in England. When Mary was married to Lewis XII. the rejoicings were confined exclusively to France. This match, on the other hand, afforded Wolsey an opportunity for displaying his genius in splendid pomp and ceremonial; and his genius was as conspicuous in these minor things as in negociating a treaty or managing a nation. To the king, still a young man, ardently fond of personal display, and more fitted for it than any one of his time by his strength, stature, and agility, his good looks and love of activity, such an occasion as this was not unwelcome. Nothing more was needed to complete his happiness than a personal interview with Francis. A few solemn triflers might shake their heads at the thought of England being once more tied up in reversion to a foreign crown, or complain with grave faces that "these gentlemen of France were very fresh;" (fn. 125) but Katharine was still a young woman, the nation was anxiously expecting the birth of a prince, and the solid advantages of the union could not be denied.
The old councillors, who had hitherto stood aloof from the German policy of Wolsey, openly applauded the match. Fox, who is reported (on no better authority than that of Polydore Vergil) to have withdrawn from the council in disgust, wrote a letter in terms unusually warm for so cold and reserved a prelate: "It was the best deed," he tells Wolsey, "that ever was done for England, and next to the king the praise of it is due to you." (fn. 126) How Katharine herself accepted this alliance for her daughter, so contrary in all appearance to her family predilections, to her stern Spanish piety and asceticism, we have no evidence to show; but if Wolsey stood high in the opinions of his royal master before, this last stroke of policy raised him higher still. No subject had ever been exalted to such a dazzling height; omnipotent with his own king, he had in effect the whole sovereignty of Europe at his beck. Francis professed to be entirely guided by his councils; Charles, more distant and haughty, owed to his good offices the safe possession of Spain, and his prospects of the Imperial crown depended on the continuance of Wolsey's favor. As for Leo X., Giustinian did not exceed the truth when he stated that Wolsey "was seven times more in repute than if he had been the Pope himself." (fn. 127) In fact, whilst Leo by turns trembled before Charles and Francis, and intrigued against both to deliver himself from their oppressive patronage, Wolsey, independent of either, had it in his power to make both feel keenly the consequences of his friendship or resentment. The independence of the Sovereign Pontiff was but a shadow; if he got rid of one dictator, it was only to fall under the more galling tyranny of another. The two rivals for supremacy in Italy were as the upper and the nether millstone, grinding themselves when they ceased to grind the Pope.