Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 2, 1515-1518. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1864.
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After the battle of Marignano and the surrender of Milan the Swiss had made their way back to their mountain homes, greatly dissatisfied and exasperated at their defeat. Cardinal Sion returned to the Emperor, and here he fell in with Sir Robert Wingfield, not the most discreet or reticent of English ambassadors, and learned from him the dissatisfaction of England at the successes of Francis, and still more at the omnipotence of French influence in the court of Flanders, where it displayed itself in all the forms of arrogance, insult, and opposition to the English commissioners, appointed to carry out the treaty of intercourse with Charles of Castile. (fn. 1) On the 2nd October (fn. 2) Wingfield wrote to Wolsey to say that the Cardinal of Sion had informed him the Swiss desired nothing better than to serve the King with 20,000 men at 40,000 florins a month. The Emperor, he questions not, will add as many horse and artillery as shall be necessary, for a reasonable sum, "for all the world knoweth that he is not best purveyed of money;" and then Wingfield concludes with a flourish from his own trumpet, which the mutilation of the letter has unfortunately marred, of Henry's triumphant coronation in France. On the 8th of October (fn. 3) Knight wrote from Brussels with great eagerness, urging Wolsey to enter at once on a war with the ancient enemy and rival of England. "If he is suffered to invade the innocent, England will lose all her friends." He pressed the Cardinal not to lose the opportunity. Now is the time a league can be made with the Swiss, "which shall be a scourge to the pride of France; notwithstanding divers in England say that they be villains, and disdain to hear speak of them. But if ye will not have them, the Frenchmen shall. Well fare the villanies that keepeth and favoreth the rest of noblesse! The Church, the Empire, and all other princes desire their confederation, save only we, which might have more profit by them than all others."
It was creditable to England that it should be so. The facts here disclosed by Knight constitute the best apology for the measures now adopted by Wolsey and the king, scarcely well-judged, and certainly at variance with their usual policy. Papal and French emissaries were busy among the Swiss, and Pace was sent to counteract their intrigues. His mission was one of some delicacy, and required more than usual tact and adroitness. With the view of lulling suspicion it was to be given out that he was acting only in a private capacity. He was ordered to put himself in communication with Cardinal Sion and Sforza duke of Milan; and after thanking them for the kind wishes they had expressed, that Wolsey should urge the king of England to recover his rights and inheritance in France by the aid of the Swiss, Pace was instructed to say, that Wolsey would "spare neither body, life, nor goods" to join with so excellent and noble a prelate as the Cardinal of Sion, whom he knew above all Christian prelates to be most minded to that universal peace, and some glorious expedition against the Infidels, as soon as a check shall have been laid on the great ambition of France. (fn. 4) If the Swiss could be persuaded to give battle to France on their side of the mountains, the king of England would no doubt advance them 100,000 crowns of gold for two months' service. (fn. 5) At the suggestion of Sion the terms were afterwards increased to 120,000 crowns for 20,000 men, to serve wherever England might think fit to employ them.
Pace started towards the close of October; crossed to Calais; passed Sir Thomas More on his way to Antwerp, where he arrived on the 25th; escaped "through the dominions of Robert de la Marche, called The Devil," by byepaths to Spires on 1st November; reached Inspruck on the 8th; opened his commission to Sion, and found him so ready for the enterprise that if Pace had brought money, and not promises only, the Swiss would have attacked the French in ten days' time. (fn. 6) He arrived at Constance on the 22nd and at Zurich on the 24th. "Nothing can be done here without money," he says; "the French king has offered them 200,000 crowns, and we sola spes." They had been too often beguiled by large offers. "The Pope ought to contribute," he adds; "but, except they see his money, the Swiss say they will not believe the Pope's word, spoken or written." The arrangement of 120,000 crowns for two months was now increased to 140,000; in February Galeazzo Visconti, their commander, demanded 300,000. (fn. 7) Their greed was excessive, and they flocked to the English standard in overwhelming numbers; but all had to be engaged, at least all had to be paid, for fear the rest should take offence. "I am at expences in tolerable for me to bear amongst the Swiss (writes Pace to Burbank), whom a man must have always at meat and drink with him, or shame his prince, his master, and himself." "The Swiss be unreasonable in asking money, and remedy is there none; quia talis est illorum barbaries ut pecuniam petitam neganti mortem minentur." English royals and nobles, in spite of all Pace's care and precaution, melted away like snow in the sun; and Wolsey could not supply gold with sufficient rapidity to satisfy their insatiable demands.
It was not to be expected that Maximilian could remain unmoved at such a sight;—English gold falling in showers so near him, and not a drop to quench his intolerable thirst. He had been dallying for a long time with the French, unable to decide whether for a sum of French crowns he should abandon all hopes of Italy for ever, or make terms with his good son in England, more to his honor and probably not less for his interest. Had the French advanced their terms, or had Maximilian entertained better opinions of their solvency, he would not have hesitated what course to adopt. His conduct is not very intelligible, and we can only guess at it in the absence of the documents from foreign archives. But this much is obvious: If he joined England he might have a chance of selling his aid to Henry at a high price; and whilst he invaded Italy ostensibly with the purpose of leading the Swiss and attacking the French, he might succour his own cities of Verona and Brescia, and recover his lost territory from the Venetians, at the expense of his ally. This seems to have been his first idea;—this done, he could drive a better bargain with France by selling his friendship when it was most valuable to France and most disastrous to England. To keep him favorable to France he was surrounded by ministers in the French interest, who never ceased representing to him the value of the French alliance in colors most attractive to a needy and extravagant man. "Though I assure your grace," says Wingfield to Wolsey, "that the Emperor hath as great favor and affection for the King's Highness as is possible, yet his council, being of other mind, may so impeach and retard the affairs that they shall not fail to be right largely stopped of their course." (fn. 8) Therefore Wingfield thought it would be well, if it would please the King and Wolsey, that he and Pace had 100l. of secret service money to distribute amongst such of the Emperor's council as they should deem fitting! German venality must have been cheap, when the favors of a whole court could be purchased at such a sum.
As soon, therefore, as Maximilian had obtained an inkling of what was going forward, he wrote to his daughter Margaret (fn. 9) to inform her that he had learned from Pace that Henry had deposited 100,000 gold crowns at Antwerp to be delivered in wages to the Swiss. He begged her to send to Antwerp, and inquire of Sir Thomas Spinelly if such were the fact, and, if it proved correct, to contrive and get hold of the money, and secretly deliver it to the factors of the Fuggers to be deposited in the imperial treasury. He purposed, without asking authority from England, to obtain the entire control of the money. Two days after, he wrote again to say, that as Francis had helped the Venetians to lay siege to Brescia and Verona, he could not believe that the offers of accommodation made him by the French king, through the archduke Charles, were to be trusted. The revenues of the two cities, he says, are worth some millions, and he hoped to be able to prevent them from falling into the hands of the Venetians; but at present his allies had abandoned him, and he was powerless. Now, however, when least expected, an opportunity had presented itself in the desire of England to attack the French in Italy, and he hastened to avail himself of it. His instrument for that purpose was Sir Robert Wingfield.
Sir Robert belonged to a class of statesmen then rapidly disappearing before a younger, more versatile and expert generation, of whom Wolsey might be considered as the chief. He speaks of himself as living in the days of Henry VI., (fn. 10)—of his long experience as a negociator, (fn. 11)—of the white hairs "which he had gotten in the cold snowy mountains of Germany, which have the power to make all hares and partridges that abide amongst them white, where my beard (which I have promised to bear to our Lady of Walsingham, an God give me life) is wax so white, that whilst I shall wear it I need none other mean to cause women rejoice little in my company." (fn. 12) He had the quaintness and precision of a man of the old school, and both are visible in his conversation, his letters, and his hand-writing, with a tinge of pedantry not unbecoming a man of his years, and displaying itself in the use of Latinized English and classical references. He was a little proud of himself, but more proud of the Wingfields, as he was bound to be; was easily hurt, but bore no malice. If there was any creature in the world that he hated, it was a Frenchman. He devoutly believed that the French had been at the bottom of all the evils that had happened in Christendom during the last 400 years. He had not read Baker's Chronicle, like Sir Roger de Coverley, for he lived 200 years before Baker's Chronicle was written; but he had read the English Chronicles of his days, and he could tell (fn. 13) how "disceivately King Philip dealt with King Richard the First, called Cœur de Lion, being in the Holy Land; how, by the subtle mean of the same, King John was accursed, and his realm laid under an interdict; how Henry V. won all France; how Henry VIII. had good right to be king of France, for it was notorious that his ancestor and progenitor king Edward the Third refused to do homage for the duchy of Guienne, because he would not by this mean deface or impair his title in the crown of France;" and so forth. He was, in short, the most guileless, upright, humane, and valiant of all bachelor knights, as he called himself; stiff and formal, somewhat conceited and pedantical, but full of a wise, gracious, hearty, and forgiving humanity, which was not the worse because it had a smack of his peculiar failings.
I know not whether it was more to his credit or Maximilian's that he had been so long in the court of the latter, and yet persisted in believing that the Emperor was the best, the wisest, the most profound, the most honest and patriotic of mortal men. "Seeing is believing;" but no seeing would have converted Sir Robert. Had he beheld the Emperor in the very act of the most flagrant turpitude, he would have set it down to the score of a subtle and inscrutable policy designed to cover some act of sublime virtue, which in the end would ensure the peace and the happiness of Christendom. If the Emperor ran away from the battle-field,—if he falsified his word,—if he shuffled and prevaricated, Sir Robert imputed it all to that mysterious wisdom which must needs reside in the heart of an Emperor. Maximilian, though no genius himself, found little difficulty in managing such a man. To Sir Robert he was universally respectful; listened to his tedious speeches without betraying signs of impatience, and treated him occasionally, and his despatches, with most magnificent courtesy. He professed to make Sir Robert the depository of his secrets,—to unbosom to Sir Robert those deeper feelings and designs he could trust to no others,—not even to his most intimate councillors. To the proud and susceptible Englishman he spoke of his king in "the most hearty and most affectuous manner;" raised his bonnet when he received or referred to his despatches; had tears in his eyes (the veteran deceiver!) when he thought what a virtuous, loving, and noble son he had in Wingfield's master. The king's remembrances, he said, were as comfortable to him "as the figure of the crucifix which is brought by the curé to his parishien that lieth in extremis!" (fn. 14)
Pace had been strictly enjoined to keep the money in his own hands, and employ it exclusively in wages for the Swiss, for Wolsey was too well acquainted with the Emperor's failings to allow him any share in the transaction. Pace was to communicate directly with Galeazzo, and suffer no intervention on the part of the Emperor. This being so, the Emperor could find no decent pretext for drawing the money into his own hands. He therefore began with pointing out to Wingfield the dangers arising from the French successes in Italy. Francis would have the Pope at his disposal; he would keep Maximilian so employed by aiding the Venetians that the latter would have no opportunity of succoring the Neapolitan territory, and thus the South like the North must fall to the French. "My son, the prince (Charles)," he continued, "being so young, and his council clearly French, the French King shall for money lead him after his appetite; which premises, if they shall fortune to take effect, I cannot see how the realm of England shall remain without broileric and great danger." (fn. 15) Then he suggested that if the league proposed by England (between the Pope, Henry, Arragon, and the Emperor) could be carried into effect with provision for the Swiss, it would be for the weal of Christendom; "but the sickness," he said, "was so great and pernicious that it must be cured or (before) the said medicine may be prepared, the convenient drugs be so distant one from another; and also he (the Pope) that should be chief hath now of late given hearing and favor to the French enchantments, in such wise, that as long as the French remain in Italy the said head is not to be treated with in that matter, and likewise the Swissers." In the simplicity of his heart Wingfield wrote to Wolsey three days after, (fn. 16) that he and the Emperor had canvassed the plans proposed by the Cardinal for the coming campaign, and he doubted not that as the case then stood Wolsey would perceive "it was not mete to attempt the Swissers by any of the ways expressed and assigned" in Wolsey's letter;—a piece of audacity which shows how totally ignorant Wingfield was of the true state of things, and still more of the character of those with whom he had to deal. As if this had not been enough, he proceeds, with extraordinary complacency in his own sagacity, to state that it was the Emperor's wish that Pace should make Wingfield privy to all his charges, and follow his advice and counsel from time to time; "and as touching the Swissers, if they will not now condescend that 10,000 of them may join the Emperor, which hath had his armies ready in Verona and Brescia, with more footmen and horsemen put in a readiness to join with them by the space of three months and more, to his marvellous great cost and charge, they will never be got in any manner of way; and then by necessity there is none other remedy but to wage (employ) 10,000 lance-knights and 1,000 horse,"—the Emperor's own troops:—so falling blindly into the trap which it was the special purpose of the king and Wolsey to avoid.
The anger of the Cardinal with his unseasonable interference may be better imagined than described. He was not accustomed to brook opposition from his equals or even superiors in the privy council. Even at this early date the great minister was omnipotent; "all really depends upon him," says Giustinian writing home to the Council of Ten. An inferior man would have dismissed Wingfield from his post;—would have made a fuss, and superseded him. Not so he; to the credit of the reign, a freedom of opinion and dissent was allowed in official men, which disappeared in after times. Omnipotent as Wolsey was, and impatient of contradiction, he never used his power to remove an inferior from his post because that inferior thought fit sometimes to disagree with him. If an ambassador failed in the expectations that had been formed of him, it was deemed more discreet to send an inferior agent, as occasion might arise, to supplement his deficiencies. Such a policy was not without advantage. The long experience of a man of inferior talents compensated for brighter natural powers; the credit gained at foreign courts by the permanency of his appointment gave respect and influence to the agent. So far from employing his authority in recalling the representatives at foreign courts, Wolsey seldom listened to their repeated applications for dismissal, even when they demanded it in a momentary fit of disgust, or were fretted into impatience by a reprimand, which he sometimes administered with considerable severity.
They, on the other hand, accustomed to rebuffs, which the sensitive honor of later times considers intolerable, did their best out of a sense of duty to their king and country. The peculiar position of the Tudors fostered this feeling of personal responsibility to the sovereign. The king was the only representative of the nation; parliament was little more than an institution for granting subsidies and regulating duties on hats and caps. No ambassador, no political agent, cared the least what parliament might or might not think of his conduct. To parliament he would never have appealed against an act of ministerial severity or oppression. His sole object was to please the king, and next, perhaps, his minister. And whilst the king, as in the Tudor times, put himself at the head of the nation, knelt with his people at the altars of St. Paul's or Westminster, fought openly at the tilt with his nobles, came home a-Maying from Greenwich with pasteboard Gogs and Magogs and a noisy rabblement at his heels, shot with his own archers of the guard, discussed the New Testament of Erasmus with friars and bishops, read all his despatches, was everywhere seen, heard and talked of, and that without bating an atom of his dignity, the entire personality of the nation was wrapped up in the king, and gave a unity to its aim and action, individually and collectively, which never had existed before, and possibly never will again. The divine right of kings was identified with the divine right of national existence and independence.
But to return to Sir Robert. What reply Wolsey made to his despatch we do not know; but, whatever it was, it was scarcely pleasant to the old knight's honest and sensitive pride. He had often spoken of resigning before; now, like a true Englishman, he breathed not a word of resignation. In silent and solemn dignity he mounted his tallest horse, wrote home a letter to Wolsey, said he had done nothing to hinder business, and proceeded to read him a lecture on the duties of ministers. "Ministers," he said, "should possess four things, viz., wit, learning, good will and experience. For my part," he continued, "I am not ashamed to give place to your secretary (Pace) in the first twain, and as to the third it were too great a shame for me to give place to any; and in the fourth, both to eschew arrogance and comparison, I will leave the judgment of that part to such as have practised with us both." (fn. 17) He was a little annoyed, and could not help showing it. Pace's commission was a secret; it nowise interfered with Sir Robert's duties: but Pace had the control of the money and the management of the expedition;—the two things which Maximilian desired and hoped to obtain by means of Wingfield. Nothing can show more clearly the opposite characters of the two men—the old and the new school—than the letter written by Pace on the same occasion. He had been too long in the court at Rome, and had seen too much of its proceedings at the death of Cardinal Bainbridge, to be influenced by great names and fair pretensions. For the Emperor he cared not a jot; and in this he was encouraged by Galeazzo and the Swiss. (fn. 18) They told Pace they would have no Emperor in the field, for on a previous occasion he had received for them 100,000 crowns from England, and had never paid them more than 40,000 florins. "Nothing can hurt my cause," he declared to Wolsey, "but only the Emperor's slowness. I do hourly tarry for his resolution, but these Almains be so diligent in resolving their matters, they had liever lose a great city than rise from their dinner to defend it." Then in answer to a letter from Wolsey, (fn. 19) expressing a doubt lest Pace should be guided by Wingfield's counsels, he tells Burbank, "Sir, you may show unto my lord Cardinal mine opinion of Summer-shall-be-green (fn. 20) (the name by which Sir Robert was known in Pace's circle), and put his grace out of doubt that dreams and new inventions cannot let (hinder) me to do that I see most expedient according to my charge."
To no purpose did Maximilian lavish his blandishments and caresses on this clever diplomatist. He sent polite invitations to Pace, but Pace politely declined them. A small taste only of the liberality of England as an encouragement for the enterprize. No, not a ducat, until he was fairly in motion. So, to his great chagrin, Maximilian was compelled to abandon his ordinary routine of excuses, and drop his intrigues with the French for a time at least. At last the expedition got under weigh: the Swiss were commanded by Galeazzo and Pace; the Emperor took the lead at the head of his own troops. The two armies marched a mile apart. The first detachment started on the 20th February 1516, and was rapidly followed. As early as the 29th the Emperor had reached Maran in the Tyrol; was at Trent on the 2d of March; left on the 9th for Italy, intending to be at the fray himself, if possible. "I pray God," says Wingfield, (fn. 21) "send him speed, as yesterday the good prince received the sacrament and made his Paske, (fn. 22) so that from henceforth he may the more liberally intend to martial acts." Pace was in high spirits. If the king and the Cardinal could see what he sees, they would not "miss the opportunity for a million of gold," he exclaims in an access of military enthusiasm. (fn. 23) At that moment of triumph even his dislike and habitual distrust of the Emperor were forgotten. "The Emperor undertakes this expedition," he wrote to Wolsey, (fn. 24) "against the mind of all his council. All the good is done by himself. It is a pity to hear how they do peal and pluck him of his money, whereby his good intents be oftentimes greatly let. Surely of his own person no man can honestly make other relation, but that he is a noble, wise, kind, and manly prince." Wingfield could only express his admiration by the extravagant remark, that God and the king this year "had done miracles." (fn. 25)
One difficulty stood in the way which even the genius of Wolsey could not entirely surmount,—but one,—and that was the difficulty of sending money from England. There were but two ways then of foreign exchange; either to transmit coin direct to the army by messengers, or ship bullion to Antwerp, there to be exchanged and forwarded to its destination by the bankers Frescobaldi, the Fuggers, or the Campucci. The merchants were not always to be trusted; their terms for discounting were exorbitant; they took their own time in sending the money to its proper destination, and had a thousand excuses for delay which no one could contravene. To trust messengers with large sums of bullion was less satisfactory. How was it to be disposed about their persons and how escape discovery? How could it be stowed in sufficient quantity for so large a host? How were the carriers themselves to make their way in safety through a hostile territory, swarming with robbers, where even single and unencumbered travellers dared scarcely venture? Such a sum as 300,000 gold crowns could not even be shipped from England without provoking discussion and attracting universal attention. All kinds of excuses were invented to draw curiosity and cupidity off the scent. A score of times did Giustinian urge upon the Cardinal that he was sending money to the Emperor for a war against Italy; as often was he met with the reply that his suspicions were unfounded. On one occasion, (fn. 26) after listening most patiently for a quarter of an hour to Giustinian's remonstrances (a thing not very usual), the Cardinal went so far as to say, "I will speak to you with all sincerity and truth, as it becomes a Cardinal, on the honor of the cardinalate"—(his favourite expression),—laying his hand upon his breast: "It is true that this most serene king has remitted money to Flanders, which will reach Germany and perhaps Italy; for two purposes;—the first is for the purchase of inlaid armour, the other for a quantity of very fine jewels pledged by certain princes in France, Germany, and Italy. Although the money may reach our ambassadors, it will not come into the power of the Emperor; for you need not think that the king would expend his treasure to aid the Emperor in the recovery of Brescia and Verona. No man in this kingdom has so much as thought of such a thing, or of waging war on the king of France, or of opposing any of his undertakings. By the honor of the cardinalate what we tell you is the truth, and they who have asserted otherwise lied in their teeth." (fn. 27) Yet, in spite of so solemn a contradiction, the rumour spread in all directions. Knight heard of it at Mechlin. The Italian merchants in Antwerp had informed him, as he wrote, that none of the Italian bankers could furnish half the sum required, in the high parts of Almain—not even the Fuggers and the Belzers. Already since Christmas last, he added, one merchant had taken sanctuary at Antwerp for a debt of 35,000l. Flemish, of which the staplers would lose 12,000l., To send over 50,000l. in coin to Italy, for soldiers' pay, was a gigantic enterprise, of which modern times can form no conception.
For the present all things went merrily; Swiss and imperialists trooped along with assured hopes of victory. On the 11th of March the army reached Verona; on the 12th it crossed the Mincio; on the 23d it was at the banks of the Adda. (fn. 28) Onwards and onwards, with a rapidity that astonished the Venetian light horse, and compelled the French to shut the gates of Milan, and protect it with a broad belt of fire and desolation. Onwards across tottering bridges and through waving fields of corn; for the road was more familiar than their own homes to these Swiss and German freebooters.
On Easter Monday (24th) the invaders had reached within nine miles of Milan; (fn. 29) one brisk push, and all would be over. Easter Tuesday dawned, but a change had now come over the Emperor. The story is a strange one and will best be told in Pace's letter to Wolsey.
"In my last letters I advertised your grace of the Emperor at the river of Ade (Adda), and how wisely and valiantly he behaved upon Easter even, when the Frenchmen and the Venetians showed themselves to be in areadiness to fight with him and the Swiss. Now your grace shall understand that my lord Cardinal Sedunensis, lord Galias, with all other captains, upon Easter Monday moved, desired, and prayed most instantly the said Emperor to persecute the Frenchmen, and shewed him evidently that they could in no wise keep Milan if he would be contented to use their counsel. But it was not possible to induce him thereunto; and no man could he? can conject what thing moved him to be so slack at that time, when every man did see the victory in his hands, and the expulsion of the Frenchmen out of Italy. But upon Easter Tuesday in the morning, being within nine miles of Milan, he sent for Sir Robert Wingfield and me, and, showing himself to be sore moved, said that he had perfect knowledge that the French king had offered unto the king's grace our master to forsake utterly Scotland, and to set apart all his practices there, so that his grace would keep firm peace and amity with him. Hereunto we made this answer: that his Majesty should in no wise be moved herewith, for we would lose our lives if it should be found by him or any other man that the king's grace had or did intend by any means to let this his enterprise in Italy, but rather to advance it and set it forthward; and showed three evident reasons against the same: one, that his grace paid the Swiss's wages in the aid of his Majesty; the other, that his grace had sent his ambassadors unto his nephew the prince of Castile, for to offer unto him men and money with his own person for defence of his realm, which the French king intendeth to usurp; thirdly, I declared unto him the king's mind in making a universal confederation betwixt his Majesty and others comprised in the commission lately sent by your grace to Sir Robert Wingfield and me. The said Emperor could not deny but these our reasons were evident, and made this answer only, viz., that he trusted that the king's grace would not forsake him. For all this yet that day he would not move, but did sit still in pensiveness, and was angry with very man that did move him to set forthward.
"About night he sent for my lord the Cardinal Sedunensis, Sir Robert Wingfield, and me, and said plainly he could not perform his promise made unto the Swiss in paying the residue of their wages for the two months, unto such time that the king's money should come, for he had none for to content his own army, ne yet to sustain his household, and for that cause was compelled to return back and not to lay siege to the city of Milan. My said lord Cardinal was sore troubled with these words, and in most wise and substantial manner, using all reasons convenient for that purpose, moved him to the contrary, putting no doubt (as truth was) in taking of the said city of Milan, where he should lack no money. Sir Robert Wingfield affirmed the same. As for me I did plainly show unto him the most great inconvenients that should ensue upon his return, viz., loss of all his cities in Italy evident, the realms of Naples and Navarre, his own extreme dishonour, with the loss of the king's money expended in his aid. But neither reason ne persuasion could move him to do well. Wherefore we thought it necessary to speak with his own most secret servants and councillors, whom we found as evil contented with him as we were ourselves; for they did not only show unto him all the inconvenients before rehearsed, but also added thereunto, that if he should draw back without cause or peril at that time, no man within Almain would esteem him the valor of one groat.
"Whiles we were in this communication, arrived from Milan a Spaniard, a vile person, sent from the duke of Bourbon to the Emperor with this message: that if the said Emperor would come to Milan, and drink with him, he should be welcome; if not, he would meet the Emperor by the way. Herewith the Emperor showed himself to be very glad, and commanded the marquis of Brandenburg to send a trumpet immediately to the said duke, and offer him battle the day following afore the walls of Milan, and to show him that he that had offered him battle at the three rivers, viz., Mynce, Oleo, and Ade, would not be afraid to fight with him at Milan. And herein he kept his promise, and went thither with all the army in goodly and sure order, ready to have made an end of this business. But the said duke, when he did see this, he sent the said trumpet again with word unto the Emperor that he would fight, but not at that time, knowing right well that it was not possible for him to obtain the victory. The Emperor, this answer had, would tarry no longer, though the Lord Galias advertised him that the Frenchmen could in no wise bide within the city two days, both for lack of horse-meat and fear of insurrection of the people against them, which undoubtedly had followed if the Emperor would have continued there but one night; but neither he, ne my lord Cardinal, ne none other, could induce him thereunto.
"The Frenchmen, immediately after his returning, did begin to burn the suburbs of the city, and destroyed utterly the habitations of 60,000 honest poormen, fearing that the Swiss would have lien in them, as they intended to do if the Emperor had not let them. The said Swiss, seeing his departing, sent unto him two of their chief captains for to advertise him, that it was not their manner to show their backs to their enemies, and therefore they would not depart. The Emperor made unto them this answer: that he would lead them another way, where they should have a sure victory, without any great shedding of blood; and so desired them to follow him, or else he would have from them his horsemen and artillery: and by these means he had them from thence, to their incredible discontentation. And he himself passed the river of Ade again, the righter way towards Almain than the Frenchmen, saying that he had certain practice there for to take the town of Crema; but this was but a thing feigned for to colour his flying.
"The Swiss went to the city of August, straightway towards Milan, which city the lord Galias and they did take by force. The castle thereof was by the space of six hours valiantly defended by the Frenchmen, who did slay four or five Swiss, wherewith the re- sidue were so moved that they made a vow [not] to depart unto the time they had taken the said castle by force, and slain every Frenchman within it. They set so fiercely upon [it] that it was not possible for the Frenchmen to defend it longer. First, they offered to yield themselves unto the mercy of the Swiss; but they would take no condition, but killed every man found within it, to the number of 150; and divers there were that offered thousands of crowns for their lives, but nothing could help. This done they sent a messenger to the Emperor, by the counsel of the lord Galias and me, with these tidings, and for to desire him either to come personally with his army, or else, if he feared his own person, to send his horsemen unto them, and put himself in surety in the city of Brixia, or any other place where it should please him, until such time as they had expelled the Frenchmen out of Italy.
"I assure your lordship the Swiss neither doth ne will lack in anything concerning the destruction of the Frenchmen. The Emperor hath kept no promise with them. Nothing grieveth them but this, that the Emperor goeth more backward than forthward, and putteth every man in suspicion of his flying away into Almain; and if he so do, this enterprise is clean lost (quod Deus avertat!) to the ruin evident of himself and the destruction of all Christendom. My lord Cardinal Sedunensis, the lord Galias, and I, be almost dead for sorrow; and the said lord Galias hath desired [me] to write these words, to be kept secret unto your grace, viz., that if the Emperor do at this time fly without cause, he shall commit greater treason against all princes Christian than ever did Judas against Christ.
"The Swiss will in no case that the lord Galiace or I depart from them, though the Emperor fly away; but they will keep both him and me in pledge of their wages, as well for the residue of the second month as the whole of the third, if they shall continue the said third month and deserve their wages, as they will surely do if the Emperor let them not. If he do let them, they intend to do him a shrewd turn. They have knowledge that the said Emperor should say he feared them, which saying is but a frivoll excuse and seeking of an occasion to fly away; for no man living could have served him more faithfully than they have done hithertoward, and so they will continue if he give them none occasion to the contrary. From the city _, the first day of April."
Was it a trick of the Emperor from the first? Was it in a sudden fit of resentment at not having received money from England? Had he been deluded by the French; or, what is more probable, had he sold himself and his honor, too often sold before, for French gold? Francis wrote to Palvoisin, his ambassador at Rome, only a week before, (fn. 30) that the Emperor had been soliciting his amity through the prince of Castile. But as this letter was evidently intended to be seen by the Pope, who was vacillating between one party and the other; and as Francis had sent in it a very significant message that he intended, if necessary, to pass into Italy with an army, and in that case he "would crave the honor once more of kissing the feet of his Holiness;" it may be doubted whether this statement, so damaging to Maximilian's reputation, was anything more than a political ruse. But the exact truth of this and other passages of history can never be known until other Governments, following the example of this country, shall throw open their archives to historical inquirers.
The Emperor continued to hover at a distance, and would take no resolution. Sir Robert Wingfield's, account of the matter may be seen in No. 1736. (fn. 31) It is of course the Emperor's version. It rested upon two points;—first, his inability to convey provisions and money in consequence of the superiority of the enemy's cavalry; and, secondly, his fear of the Swiss, Germans, and Spaniards, who were mutinous for lack of pay. Satisfactory to no one else, this excuse was sufficient for the Emperor. Turning a deaf ear to all remonstrance, he hastened to put as large a space as he could between his own army and the Swiss under Pace and Galeas. He allowed the enemy's cavalry to scour the country, and cut off all communication between himself and his exasperated allies. (fn. 32) He recrossed the Adda without warning, and turned his steps in the direction of Bergamo. The Swiss were fed with promises of his speedy return, but he took care to prevent them from doing mischief by carrying off the gunpowder. To Wingfield he held out assurance "that he would join again, and bring the enterprise to its desired end." (fn. 33) And Wingfield, as a matter of course, believed him. But with his promises to return he hurried off in the opposite direction, and in a few days shut himself up in the walls of Trent, leaving Pace and Galeas to their fate. (fn. 34) Sick at heart and ill at ease, Pace wrote to the Cardinal: (fn. 35)
"I am advertised by Sir Robert Wingfield that the Emperor will not leave this enterprise, but see an end thereof; nevertheless, he doth go backward still towards Almain, and now is in Valle Camonica. The Marquis of Brandenburg is coming towards us with his men at arms. If he will join his army with us, we shall sleep no longer, as we have done these 15 days by the Emperor['s] express commandment, which, if we should have broken, the Emperor would have been gone. Yesterday the Swiss did send unto him two ambassadors, for to have a final conclusion of his mind; for they will have no more delays ne trifles, for this delaying of time and also of money is death to them and all us."—From Laude, the 10th of April.
"The Emperor, notwithstanding his late writing unto the Swiss, and promise made for to join with them, is undoubtedly departed in great baste towards Almain, and afore this time is arrived nigh unto Trent. This his sudden departing hath marvellously discouraged the Swiss, with all other desiring the prosperous success of the enterprise. Nevertheless, because that he hath left behind him the marquis of Brandenburg with his army, and commanded him to join with us, some hope there is that he will not mar all.
"The lord Galias hath at this time a very good intelligence with the Pope, which hath proceeded by the king's writing unto his Holiness, and also by my writings according to your Grace's commandment. Your Grace shall have some knowledge thereof by a letter from the Cardinal Saint Mary in Porticu, directed unto the said lord Galiace, whereof he sendeth a copy at this time in ciphers unto Master Anchises. If the Emperor had not gone backward, the Pope had been surely ours afore this time; insomuch that now the French king doth complain of his Holiness's dissimulation, saying that he hath nothing of him but letters.
"Yesterday arrived here a courier with letters of the Emperor directed unto the lord Galiace, desiring him to declare the contents of the same unto the Swiss, which were these: First, that they should be of good comfort, for he would shortly join with them again, with great power and all provision necessary for continuance of this war. Secondarily, that five and twenty thousand florins of the king's money, which they had long lacked, was brought into the city of Brixia, from thence to be conveyed immediately into the field to them by the marquis of Brandenburg, to whom we sent two captains of the Swiss for to understand the truth of the said money: and they advertised their company here that the said sum was within Brixia; but at such time as the governor of the city would have sent it with a sufficient company unto the said marquis, the Emperor['s] soldiers being in the city did sequester the same there, for so much owed unto them by the said Emperor. The Swiss, hearing of this, hath begun marvellously to murmur amongst themselves against the Emperor, saying that now twice they have been betrayed by him sith the beginning of this enterprise; once at his departing from Milan, which they might have taken if he would have suffered them to have lodged there but one night; and now again in this sequestration of the king's money; for they think that it is done by his consent, and that he will do in like manner with the residue of the king's money, which he writeth to he at the city of Trent, or nigh thence. Wherefore the Swiss, seeing that they can lie no longer there, both for lack of victual and money, they have concluded to go themselves against the said money, having both the said lord Galiace and me for hostages and prisoners; and also to know what the Emperor intendeth. For, notwithstanding his daily fair writings (without effect), they can believe none other but that he will betray us all, and go straight into High Almain; whereby this enterprise shall be utterly destroyed and the king's money cast away, not only to the Emperor's extreme rebuke and shame, but also to the great damage of all his friends; and, for to speak more plainly, to the ruin of all Christendom, except that God and wise princes make substantial provision against the same."
"The lord Galias and I both be at this time sick in our beds, and almost dead, more for thought than for sickness, considering the unreasonable demeanour of the Emperor, for he hath no manner of cause thus to deal, having by us hourly perfect knowledge that all thing[s] doth succeed prosperously for his intent against the Frenchmen; for not only the rebels of Switzerland hath forsaken the Frenchmen, and many more Swiss doth come in to our aid, but also the Venetians and they be at great variance amongst themselves, and neither of them hath any money to sustain their armies: insomuch that three days passed Master Andreas Gritie, general captain of the said Venetians, was like to be slain in his own house by his own soldiers for lack of money. Furthermore, all the country is in areadiness to arise to our aid. These premises be occasion, which (as me seemeth) should not only move an Emperor to set forthward, but an ass: yet he neither will set forthward himself, ne suffer us to do; for he hath left us artillery without gunpowder, and hath daily promised to send us some; but as yet we did see none, but hath been compelled by force to consume twenty-two days in vain.
"The said marquis of Brandenburg is gone personally to Brixia for to see if he can get the said money sequestered, and to bring it to the Swiss. And when I had written thus far, we had letters from the said marquis, containing his arrival unto the said city of Brixia, and that the soldiers within would not suffer him to enter, ne to have the said money, but compelled him to depart without it; so that the Lord Galiace and I be now in extreme desperation, not so much for the evident jeopardy of our lives, as for the loss of this great enterprise, by the false and crafty mean of them that hath retained in this manner the King's money, nothing appertaining unto them.
"To show plainly the truth unto your Grace, everything is now clean out of order here, and very little hope of any amendment by reason of the Emperor's thus departing. Few men or none doth know surely the cause thereof, but many doth suppose it is the death of the late king of Hungary, and the lucre that he should win by the same, whereof he had tidings at his being within six miles of Milan, and after that never had mind to go forthward, but the day following began to draw back towards Almain. Some doth suspect a secret practice with the French king for a large sum of money, as it is comprised in my lord the Cardinal Saint Mary in Porticu's letters; but hereof I could never have any perfect knowledge, and as yet I think it is not true. I am informed that the said Emperor intendeth to write unto the king's Grace in excusation of this his departing, that he feared that not only the Swiss but also his own lanceknights would, for lack of money, have sold him unto the Frenchmen, if he should have tarried at the city of Milan anywhile. He may write what it pleaseth him, or cause other to do the same; but I assure your lordship all that is but trifles. These my letters doth contain the very truth of the Emperor's acts; tam in bono quam in malo veritatem scribo, postposita omni affectione. For it is impossible for the Swiss to be more obedient unto any prince that they have been unto him and yet be; and so will they continue if the default be not in him.
A month passed, but no amendment. Then Pace wrote again (fn. 36):—
"Please it [your] Grace,—From the city of Laude I did write unto the same three letters, containing the Emperor's sudden and wilful departing from the walls of Milan, which undoubtedly the Swiss had taken if the said Emperor would have tarried there but two days; but neither counsel, nor reason, nor resp[ect] to his own or his friends' honour, could induce him to remain, but he returned immediately towards Almain, leaving the Swiss at the said city of Laude, and commanding them to continue there until such time as he should return again with a greater army, more great guns and gunpowder, whereof he left none with the Swiss; but unto this day he kept no manner of promise in any of these premises. Wherefore the said Swiss, seeing themselves hereby deceived, and having also knowledge that the Emperor's soldiers in Brixia had intercepted 25,000 florins of the king's money, sent unto them, and, lacking victuals, departed unto the city of Bergamo, where was abundance of victuals, and there tarried 10 or 12 days, as well for the Emperor, who never did come, as for the kin[g]'s money promised to them by me sub pœna capitis, according to your Grace's commandment, for to retain them.
"In the meantime tidings came to us that my lord Cardinal Sedunensis was sent in haste from the Emperor into the field as his lieutenant, and should bring with him all the king's money, and content them to the uttermost. And herewith they were so glad that they came running to my house, and said that they alone, without the Emperor, would fight with the Frenchmen, though they were in number an 100,000. But when my said lord Cardinal was arrived, they shortly had knowledge that he had brought but one and twenty thousand florins; which sum, when they had payed unto them, truly they did murmurate amongst themselves that there was no more money; and the night after there departed 7 or 8,000, saying that if there had been any more money my said lord Cardinal should have brought it, and that they were deceived by him as much as by the Emperor.
"The Frenchmen, knowing of the departing of so many Swiss, jointly with the Venetians did draw within three mile of us, so that we were compelled to depart from the said city of Bergamo, because it was none equal place for us to fight in. But all the chief captains of the Swiss did come unto the lord Galiace and me, and comforted us, saying that for the Emperor they would not move one foot to strike battle, but for the king's sake they would go immediately into the plain field, and suffer the Frenchmen to follow them—having this opinion that they fled for fear—and there put themselves [in] ordinance and fight with the said Frenchmen, notwithstanding the departing of one half of their company. And thus they did in deed. But when the Frenchmen did see them in this areadiness for to strike battle, they made a show with their horsemen alone, leaving their footmen and artillery behind them. The Swiss did draw nigh unto the said horsemen, and commanded their trumpets to be blown and provoked them to battle; but it would not be. The Swiss, seeing this, went towards them within gunshot, and caused the great artillery to be shot amongst them, wherewith divers, both men-of-arms and light horse, were slain, and the residue departed clean out of the field. The Swiss being afoot could not follow them, and the better part of the Emperor's horsemen were departed out of o[ur] field for lack of their wa[g]es, and 2,000 lance-knights in like manner, to the great discontentation of the Swiss, numbering that amongst other deceits.
"This done, we went to a town named Bixansane, and there the Swiss would tarry a day or two for money. As soon as we arrived there, my lord the Cardinal Sedunensis, the count Cariate, and I, were taken and put to hold, and it was laid unto our charge that we had kept no promise with them; and for that cause, if they had not money the same day, they would convey us as prisoners into their country. Hoc factum fuit a furente populo prœter voluntatem ducum. My said lord Cardinal Sedunensis was put that day to great jeopardy of his life by reason of certain his adversaries, who instigated the people to destroy him. Sed Deus noluit ut tantum mali eveniret tanto viro; for the same night arrived a messenger with x[x]xij M. florins, and thus we were all three delivered out of prison. The day following arrived Mr. Leonard Friscobalde, with as much money as was sufficient to pay their whole wages of three months which they had served; and so I contented them according to my promise made unto them. Then they were marvellously well contented with the king's Grace, considering that his promises were no fables, but truly performed.
"The lord Galiace was sore sick in the city of Brixia when he had knowledge that I was in hold; and because he could not depart out thereof for the Venetians' soldiers lying alway thereabout, he conveyed himself in the night over a mountain, and descended into lake of Garde, and did come to me by water, thinking that I had been in greater peril than I was. At his coming we had perfect knowledge that the Emperor would join with us no more. Whereupon the Swiss did convocate [t]heir council, and there determined that it was not possible for them alone to proceed, as truth was; and this they declared unto the lord Galiace and me, saying that they would never hereafter trust the Emperor, neither serve him, but they would alway be ready to serve the king's Grace at his pleasure. When we were driven to this extremity, we did see no remedy but for to procure with all diligence amongst the captains that they would be contented to advertise the superiors of all the cantons, that the king's Grace hath contented them abundantly for their service, and to desire them that they will establish none amity with France but rather with the king's Grace. And all this they have done in the best manner that the said lord Galiace and I could devise; so that I trust this thing shall succeed right well, and that the said lord Galiace shall save his reputation amongst them, which he was like clean to lose by the Emperor's unreasonable demeanour, and for the lack of the king's money at their day.
"The Emperor hath now in his field but 4,000 lanceknights and 1,000 Swiss, and a great captain of the same. These be departed for to defend Verona and Brixia, which stand in great jeopardy of losing; de quo valde quidem doleo. Sed Cœsar (testor Deum) longe plus damni meretur.
"Besides my three letters sent unto your Grace from the city of Laude, I did write one also from Bergamo, containing all thing[s] necessary to be written, after mine opinion. Glad would I be to have knowledge of my four said letters; for I am advertised that in this court they do lay watch for to intercept my letters, fearing them as comprising the plain truth in everything. They would not that any fault should be laid unto their master, but to the Swiss, who, I assure [your] Grace, upon my faith to God and to the king, have done in this enterprise all that it was possible for men to do; but the Emperor, to his inestimable rebuke and shame, would not suffer them to take Milan when they were sure to have it, as it is evidently known through all Italy. The Emperor hath so dishonored himself that no man need care whe'r he have him friend or enemy. Nevertheless, good it is to use the counsel of the good memory of Pope July, who said these words formally of the said Emperor: Imperator est levis et inconstans; alienœ pecuniœ semper mendicus, quam male consumit in venandis camuciis: est tamen conciliandus nomine diaboli, et pecunia ei semper est danda.
"Where your Grace doth write to have understood there that the Emperor was put back by force by the French army, it is not so; for he was never put back, but went voluntarily and shamefully back, when he might have won all. The Frenchmen never durst fight with the Swiss,—they ever showed themselves so invincible when any feat of arms was to be done. They never skirmished with the Frenchmen but they were put back, and not we, both with shame and loss."
The disastrous result of the expedition brought out, as such things do, the baser nature of all concerned in it. The Swiss fell into disorder, plundered, sacked, or murdered whatever fell in their way. Pace, Sion, and Galeazzo were thrown into prison. To increase these misfortunes, a bitter feud broke out between the leaders. Sion, never friendly with Galeazzo since the battle of Marignano, was now more incensed against him than ever. He suspected Galeazzo's intimacy with Pace; and accused both of impeding the measures necessary for success. (fn. 37) The Emperor, with his usual facility of giving away that which did not belong to him, had promised no small sums of money to the army, and sent Sion to demand it from Pace. (fn. 38) On Pace's refusal, high words ensued; the Emperor threatened that he would have the money, whether Pace liked it or not, asseverating that if he did not have what he desired he would return home again: "like children," adds Pace, "that say they will not go to school without bread and "butter. Sion dares not refuse him, and Sir Robert takes "him for a God, and thinks that all his deeds and thoughts "do proceed ex Spiritu Sancto." Against such malign influences it would have been hard for Pace to stand firm under the most favourable circumstances.
Maximilian, with a meanness and inhumanity almost incredible, took advantage of Pace's helpless condition, to extort from him a large sum of money upon the threat, if Pace refused, to make terms with France, and write over to England that Pace had been the cause of his defection. The soul of the Holy Roman Empire certainly dwelt in a low place when the Emperor could condescend to such an act; and we should have been fairly entitled to disbelieve the statement had it rested on less impeachable authority than Pace's own. Here is the letter which he wrote to Wolsey, sick in bed and sad at heart for his dishonorable treatment (fn. 39):—
"Please it your Grace,—This day the Emperor, having the consense of Sir Robert Wingfield that Mr. Leonard Friscobalde, this present bearer, should lend unto his Majesty 60,000 florins for the continuance of this enterprise against the Frenchmen, made also great instance unto me to consent unto the same—both, in the king's name, as his ambassadors. I, considering the great sum of money expende[d] already without the obtent of the king's purpose, showed that I had neither commission so to do, nor authority; the Swiss, apud quos erat autoritas mea, being departed out of the field. After that he had understood this mine answer, he said that he was sure that the king's grace would not for that sum of money suffer him to lose both his honour and cities in Italy, as Brixia and Verona; and sent also word unto me, lying sick in my bed, that, if I would not consent thereunto, he would write unto the king's Highness, that I alone had been the total ruin of this enterprise, having no manner of respect to his honour or the king's, and therefore he should be compelled to make peace with France to the destruction of all Christendom. I, hearing and noting diligently these his words, and considering what great inconvenients might ensue if he should do as he said, caused myself, sick as I am, to be borne unto him, and shewed the causes, afore rehearsed, why I durst not consent unto his desire; adding also this (without fear), that whensoever any sum of money did come into his servants' hands, it was robbed from him and unthriftily expende[d], and little or nothing distribut[ed] amongst the army. Nevertheless, [I] showed unto his Majesty that I had liever lose my life than ever he should have cause to make any peace with France, to the destruction of all Christendom, for any my default. And so I have consented unto the same, and desired this bearer to accomplish his desire, who, for your Grace's sake, hath so done gladly. Wherefore I can no less do but desire your Grace to see him repaid again shortly without loss; for surely he is [a] faithful servant to the king's Highness and your Grace. He hath an obligation of the Emperor's, binding him to repay the money, if the king's grace be not content so to do; sed Cœsar solvit ad calendas Grœcas.
"The said Emperor intendeth to send again into England Mr. Hesdynge. I know no cause why, but for money. Your Grace must be well ware of him; for in this last sum conveyed by him he hath not dealt faithfully with the king; for he hath kept 1,000 and 200 scudi for himself, and paid against the merchants' will (no cause known why) 11,000 scudi, with more, as this bearer can declare at large unto your Grace. He is one of those that is miscontented with me, because I can never consent that the King's money be cast away at every unthrift's desire, asking in the Emperor's name, but would have it, according to the King's mind and your Grace's commandment, expende[d] faithfully amongst the poor soldiers, putting hourly their lives in jeopardy pro communi utriusque principis honore et totius Christiani orbis bono. It shall please your Grace alway to remember this—(whatsoever Mr. Hesdynge shall procure in England),—that all money put in the Emperor's hands, or committed to any of his, shall be, in great part thereof, evil expende[d], as this present bearer can at large show unto the same, and declare what business and trouble I have only in resisting against this.
Sir Robert, a man of fastidious honor and delicacy, made no remonstrances. In the stress of the times he was guilty of acts which even the sternest necessity could barely excuse. Attending on Maximilian, and separated from Pace, with whom he had a joint commission, he ventured to sign receipts for money in Pace's hand; "having feigned Pace's signature, and sealed in his name with a cornelian in figure of a head." (fn. 40) That was bad enough; but worse remains. Wingfield found, in a budget from Wolsey, a private letter addressed to Pace. Sir Robert broke it open. "It is one of the first (he says) I ever opened without consent of the party;" and in it he found expressions applied to himself far from complimentary; as, Summer-shall-be-Green. A man of more worldly wisdom than Sir Robert would have resealed the letter, and kept his own counsel. But Sir Robert could not digest his resentment. He wrote to Wolsey; "Where in the part by which he toucheth "me he calleth me Green-Summer, verily my good Lord, (fn. 41) it is long sith that I have had to write to such as I was familiar with, that Summer was Green." In the irritation of the moment he could not help comparing his own merits with the errors of Pace, which, but for his interference, he insisted would have produced the greatest mischief.
It was clear to Wolsey that in such a temper of mind no expedition could succeed. On Pace, Galeazzo, and Sion he enjoined, in terms not likely to be disobeyed, mutual reconciliation. (fn. 42) Of Wingfield's extraordinary conduct he took no notice for the present. When Sir Robert wrote in the highest terms (fn. 43) of the Emperor's retreat, who had "so cawtely" withdrawn himself from such imminent peril, when he endorsed the Emperor's plea, that unless money were forthcoming all would be ruined, "et Gallus regnabit ubique," (fn. 44) Wolsey made no answer. Amongst the multiplicity of his schemes to raise money Maximilian hit upon a new project. He proposed to make Henry duke of Milan, in lieu of the rightful claimant, Francis Sforza, and invest him afterwards with the Empire. Sir Robert, with ludicrous solemnity, announced this absurd proposal on the 17th May 1516. (fn. 45) That morning the Emperor had sent for him, and, no other person being present, addressed him in the following terms:—"First, I desire you to make my most hearty and affectuous recommendations unto my most dear and well-beloved brother, the king your master, which by word doth call me father, and I do call him son, which I do take right gladly upon me, and that by reason of years; for in effect his bounty, kindness, affection, and comfort hath been and is so medicinable to me, that he is to be esteemed and taken for my father, and I for his son, insomuch that he shall be sure to have me at all times and in all points that may be in my power, as glad and desirous to advance all that may be to his honour and laud, as though I were his proper son." After this magniloquent preamble the Emperor proceeded to state that his army was ready to take the field. He then offered to invest the king with the duchy of Milan, desiring the king to break war with France as soon as possible; to cross the sea with 2,000 horse and 4,000 archers; make his way through Flanders to Treves, where the Emperor would not fail to meet him, attended by the Electors and Princes. Then, leaving the duke of Suffolk in command, the Emperor, acting "as superintendent," would proceed with the king to Rome, and see the imperial crown placed upon his head.
Unfortunately this intelligence, entrusted exclusively to Wingfield with such an air of mystery, had been discussed and talked about some days before, and had been already communicated by Pace to Wolsey. (fn. 46) To dissuade him from countenancing such an absurdity was scarcely needful. "Whilst we looked for the crown imperial," says Pace, (fn. 47) "we might lose the crown of England, which is this day more esteemed than the Emperor's crown and all his empire." It was a chimera; a stale trick invented by Maximilian to raise money, for he would "like to pill and poll the said duchy, and all Italy, under pretence of keeping them till the king came." (fn. 48) But it was no part of Wolsey's policy to undeceive the Emperor or Wingfield. They were left to pursue, unmolested, their own devices. The Emperor's schemes, whatever his intentions might be, worked out the purposes of Wolsey's equally well and equally economically. That policy was to keep Francis I. in continual agitation, and prevent any avowed union between him and the Emperor. The reason of this will appear hereafter. So when Pace expressed the bitterest regret at the Emperor's misconduct and the failure of the expedition, Wolsey wrote him a letter of encouragement. He thanked Pace for his labors: (fn. 49)—told him if the Swiss could not invade France this year, so much the better; as the king would not be ready before the spring. Pace must apply himself with renewed vigor to repair past errors; to encourage the Swiss, and tell the Emperor that the king was in good hope he would make use of the first opportunity, and, like a valiant captain, proceed against his enemies who had defamed him in all countries. A sum of 48,000 florins was placed to Pace's disposal to engage the Swiss, but no part of it was to be expended before he had ascertained that the Swiss had a real intention to fight, not merely make a show of battle and return. (fn. 50)
It was enough for Maximilian to know that 50,000 florins were again in Pace's hands to prevent him from making any immediate arrangement with France. That could be done at any time, when further expectations from England were at an end. Once already he had intimidated Pace, without experiencing any unpleasant consequences. On the 10th June, (fn. 51) three days after the money arrived, he sent his treasurer Villinger and the marquis of Brandenburg to demand provision for 5,000 lance-knights and 2,000 horse in Lorraine; "and to induce me hereunto (writes Pace to Wolsey) they said, if it were not done, the said army would run to the French king's wages; which saying is common amongst them when they intend to deceive a man in plucking his money." Pace replied, he had no commission to meddle with money; and "if the Emperor wanted anything with England, he had his ambassador there." This answer must have been reported with unusual celerity, (fn. 52) for the same day Maximilian wrote to Pace that he had ordered a levy of 10,000 men in the Tyrol, in doing which he had spent all his money, and he therefore requested Pace to transmit to Trent and Verona the 50,000 florins he had just received, otherwise the new Swiss levies would go over to the enemy. If Pace, as he alleged, was forbidden "to meddle with these matters until further orders," Maximilian would undertake to excuse him to his master. Next day came a civil letter from Villinger, desiring Pace to communicate to him the answer he intended for the Emperor, and to be with the Emperor on the morrow. (fn. 53) Pace replied the next day (14th June), that the 50,000 florins had been recalled, and he was going to Constance. A week passed, and no change; Maximilian fretted and chafed:—as well might the angry sea soften the obdurate rocks. So, finding Pace inflexible, in a moment of irritation he ordered him to leave the imperial dominions, taxing him with having procured the revocation of the money out of spite. (fn. 54) Forgetful alike of his interest and his dignity, he threatened Pace with his heaviest resentment if he were found loitering in his dominions, in any one place, more than two days. Pace prepared to depart, greatly to the discomfort of the Emperor's messengers. It was not his departure but his money that they wanted. They heard his resolution, to follow the Emperor's mandate, with dismay. The Emperor's command should be obeyed; (fn. 55) though, to say the least, it was a harsh one, especially in the last clause of it, to be addressed to an ambassador of the king of England. Seeing him in earnest, the imperial messengers said, the whole matter might be compromised, if Pace would lend the Emperor only 20,000 florins in the king his master's name. Pace answered, that their proposal came unfortunately too late; for if after a command to depart he should now remain and pay such a sum, it would be a great rebuke to the Emperor, and would show that he was dismissed for no fault of his own, but because he had declined to pay "what was not in his power to pay."
At this juncture a new actor appeared upon the stage,—M. Hesdin, maître d'hôtel to Margaret of Savoy, who had always professed a deep interest in the king of England, and was supposed to hate the ministers of Charles for their inclination to France. He assailed Pace with softer arguments, and words
He lamented the Emperor's hasty command;—was sure he could induce the Emperor to revoke it;—foresaw in this misunderstanding the unhappiness of Christendom, and entreated Pace to stay. But wisely he said nothing that day of the 20,000 florins. Next day, when his arguments might be supposed to have produced the desired effect, Hesdin pressed upon Pace the desirableness of complying with the Emperor's demand. Firm to his purpose, Pace would not depart from his resolution for friend or foe, for threats or cajolery. And doubtless many an hour afterwards, when Pace had returned as secretary to Henry VIII., and his influence with the king was second only to Wolsey's, the history of this adventure with the Emperor, and the various devices put in force by him for obtaining the money, formed an amusing topic of conversation.
Yet, mean and ludicrous as Maximilian's perplexities appear in the recital, Englishmen, in spite of themselves, and in spite of his real demerits, could not help feeling pity for the dilapidated Emperor. No money could pass his hands without diminution in the passage; no bond he gave was worth the paper on which it was written; no promise he made could be relied on; and yet he was popular, not with his own subjects only, but with strangers. His schemes to raise funds were so awkward and so palpable they deceived no one; his necessities so urgent they almost excused his artifices. Then, moreover, the empire had not yet been divested of its old traditions and the accumulated honors of many centuries. To see its last representative reduced to beggary—ready to pawn "his dukedom for a denier," and unable to purchase a dinner,—was a sight to stir noble and generous minds. It did so on this occasion. Pace, Wolsey, Tunstal, the king himself relented, rather than press too hardly on the chief of Christendom, whose awkward attempts at finesse generally ended in his own discomfiture, and brought more tears in his own eyes than smiles in other men's.
The Emperor's demands fell with his hopes. Instead of 48,000 florins, let Pace pay the 2,588 he had received from the Frescobaldi, and depart in peace. (fn. 56) No, not even that sum; it had been spent already on the king's affairs; and he ordered Pace out of the chamber. "Pace," he exclaimed to Wingfield in the bitterness of his disappointment, "by the council of his schoolmaster Galeaz has endangered the common enterprise. All things were in good train, and nothing was wanting but the entertainment of the said 5,000 Swiss, which he had desired of Pace as he would have desired God." Such insolence was intolerable. He fell to downright abuse, and expressed to Wingfield his wonder that the king should commit so important a charge to such a proterve and dissimuling person as Pace; for whatsoever he saith now, within an hour he turneth if off another, or rather into twenty divers fashions. But he hath gone to school with that bald Gallias, which betrayed and sold his master that brought him up; and therefore it is a less marvel that he with his disciple would have served me of the same." But all this fury was in vain. If he ordered Pace to go, Pace prepared to start; the next five minutes he countermanded the order, and Pace stayed. if he ordered Pace out of his presence, out of his presence Pace went. If he stormed and raved, Pace remained silent; if he cajoled or intimidated, he was no nearer the object: absolutely Pace would not depart from his instructions; not a florin would he disburse without an order from England. Four days after, (fn. 57) Wingfield made suit, beseeching Pace to procure 500 florins for the Emperor to buy powder and ball; but Pace turned a deaf ear to all entreaties.
The firmness and moderation of Pace, thus standing alone—not aided, as he ought to have been, but rather opposed, by his countryman Wingfield,—preserving the dignity of his demeanor in the midst of so many difficulties,—was duly appreciated in England. He received the thanks of the king and the Cardinal, with a more substantial mark of favor in his appointment as Secretary of State. Yet, much as he had reason to suspect and dislike the Emperor, he was not blinded by the treatment he had received to the policy of keeping him on good terms. He wrote Wolsey, (fn. 58) that he had been threatened with death for refusing to advance money; "but," he added with wonderful prudence and self-control, "this demeanor must be clean set apart (not considered), and the Emperor, qualiscumque est, be entertained. The king does right to assist him; sed Cœsar est puer indigens tutore, et consiliarios habet "corruptissimos et omnium bonorum domini sui expilatores." He urged that the king, instead of repudiating the bond for 60,000 florins extorted by Maximilian, should rather pay it and help "the poor marcheante," who had thought to do an acceptable service to the king, "and did that is done at such a time as the Emperor (quod mirabile dictu est) had not sufficient money to pay for his dinner."
Sir Robert blundered on, as honest, well-meaning, conceited mediocrity is apt to do. Fully convinced of his own superior merits, and believing that he stood as high in the favor and confidence of his royal master at home as he did in that of his Imperial Majesty abroad, he ventured with more freedom than discretion to arraign Pace's conduct and still more his appointment as Secretary of State. Impressed with the notion of his own superior ability and experience, he had broadly insinuated that Pace was deficient in those qualities which were indispensible for his new position. From Pace he had evidently glanced at the Cardinal. (fn. 59)
With a confidence and indiscretion displaying a total blindness to the real state of the times he addressed a letter to the king. (fn. 60) It appears that in the interval the Emperor had gone to Constance, in the firm persuasion that Pace would be induced to relent. High words had passed them, as already described, and the dispute was evidently approaching its climax. Wingfield was sent for. After riding all night, he arrived at Constance (as he reports) about 8 in the morning; "and soon after mine arrival, Master Hans Reyner came to me from his Majesty, and showed me a long process, accusing Master Pace in divers things, and most specially that his Majesty should be perfectly informed, that the said Master Pace and the Visconte Galias have written such letters to your Highness, and to my lord Cardinal of York, against him, that by the mean he findeth your Grace all alienate; which his Majesty esteemeth to be the more certain, because that now of late he hath desired of Master Pace to make provision for the payment of a month's wages to such Swisses as were now in the common army, and he hath refused so to do: with which refuse, the said Mr. Hans showed me that the Emperor was grieved marvellously; for he was informed that the said Master Pace had suffcient provision of money with him, by exchange of the Fuggers, and also that the said Master Pace had showed unto his Majesty his own self that he hath a commission not only to wage 15,000 Swisses of new, but also authority to give them three score thousand florins in reward.' Mr. Hans further assured Wingfield, that the Emperor was convinced this "was none other but covert treason, wrought to his ruin, and the wasteful effusion of your treasure." Happily the impending ruin was averted by Wingfield's providential arrival—so Wingfield writes—for the Emperor "would have charged Master Pace to have departed out of all places of his jurisdiction, without sojourning in any place of the same above a night and a day, upon pain of his life; and now that I was come the Emperor had sent him unto me to declare the same."
In his vainglorious dream Wingfield received from the king a letter for the Emperor. (fn. 61) It was the first the king had written to Maximilian since his ignoble retreat from Milan. With it came another for Wingfield himself, the contents of which he was commissioned to communicate. To his Imperial Majesty, calm and reserved in tone, it was far from complimentary. The king took occasion to thank him for his offer of the dukedom of Milan, but as the French were still in possession of it, he thought it would be time enough to accept the Emperor's "loving offers" when he had renewed the expedition, and, by chastising the French, had re-established his honor, "greatly hindered by his desisting from the foresaid enterprise, whereof the Frenchmen, as well in France as elsewhere, made dishonorable bruits, right displeasant to us to hear or understand." He touched upon the rumor of the duke of Savoy's efforts to negotiate an arrangement between France and Maximilian; expressed his conviction that there could be no truth in a report so disgraceful to the Emperor; who must have too much regard to his own character, and the welfare of Christendom, to entertain such a proposal. And as for any further assistance in the shape of money, the king considered the sums already advanced by him had been employed solely in succouring the imperial towns of Brescia and Verona, to the neglect of their common interests, and wondered that Wingfield had ventured, on his own responsibility, to advance the Emperor 60,000 florins. Should the king be called upon to repay it, Wingfield would be held responsible for the loss, and for any alienation it might cause between his Majesty and the Emperor. In the end Wingfield was enjoined to lay aside his enmity to Pace, and act cordially with him for the common good.
Sir Robert read this letter with a rueful countenance. He had done his best within the last few hours to soothe the disconsolate Emperor, and flatter him with hopes of a favorable answer from England. The answer had come much sooner than he had anticipated, and of a tenor the very reverse of what he had expected. How was he to break the unwelcome news? But he had no alternative: the Emperor was to leave the next day early, and he must act at once. He sent his Majesty word that he had received a credence from England, and would be glad to know when should he have the honor of presenting it. "Immediately," was the reply. It was then eight o'clock in the evening. "When I was come to his presence," says Wingfield, "and every man avoided save he and I, I presented your letters unto him, making your most hearty and affectuous recommendations, in the best manner I could; which your letters when he had opened and read, a' looked a long while upon the subscription, and he said in this wise: 'These be letters of credence to be declared by you; howbeit I do perceive right well by the subscription, without hearing more, that the matter of your credence shall not be so pleasant unto me as I hoped and trusted, whereby I do know right well that such as I hoped to find my perfect and assured friends have their ears more inclined, and give more credence to mine enemies' words than to me, or 'those of my friends; but I must have patience in that, as I have had in many other things. Nevertheless declare your credence, and I shall give you the hearing, but not with so joyful a heart as I would.'"
Wingfield was greatly moved. He could not behold so much humility and so much innocence trampled upon by the malice of designing men without strong feelings of indignation. He longed to relieve the oppressed and defy the oppressor. The king, in his letter, had urged the Emperor to recover his tarnished reputation, but Wingfield ventured to qualify the asperity of his commission. The Emperor was not so blameable as he was reported; "for though his enemies"—here Wingfield glanced at Pace—"would gladly he were more largely defamed, yet amongst good and indifferent judges, if they wot well of what mind and courage he is, they would rather marvel at his diligence and dexterity." Another article touching the Emperor's underhand negotiations with the duke of Savoy, Wingfield took the liberty of omitting entirely; "because I perceived at the beginning it was not meet to touch him nigh the quick;" and as for the statement that the king's money had been spent upon Brescia and Verona, "verily, my most loved and dread sovereign lord and only master," says Wingfield most pathetically, "I would that such as hath informed your Highness so were in your most gracious presence, and I also; and I doubt not but he should have red cheeks, and he be not past shame, for his unjust saying. For your Highness may be sure that no man knoweth more in that matter than I, though I write not so much as other men do; and sure I am that, and your Grace hath caused such letters of the Cardinal Sedunensis to be well looked upon and examined as I have sent to your Highness at divers times, which is one [of] the most virtuous and faithful men that ever I was acquainted with, it shall well appear when and how your money hath been rather cast away than well spent; except such sums as hath comen to the Emperor's hands:" and he asserts that this war had cost Maximilian above 200,000 florins. (fn. 62)
When Wingfield had finished, the Emperor "made a long pause after his custom," and then said: "I cannot perceive by the credence that ye have declared that my brother, the king your master, hath restored to Leonard Friscobald the 60,000 florins that were borrowed of him, or that he intendeth to provide the 100,000 florins that I desired him to prepare; but he rather willeth me to prepare repayments of the said 60,000 florins to Friscobald. Verily I esteemed well in the beginning that your credence should not be so pleasant to me as I trusted it should have been; but I do perceive well that all things hath diminished the affection and love that my 'brother hath had to me, whereof I am sorry, and know no remedy but patience; and, as I told you in the beginning, I perceived the same by the subscription of my brother's letters; for in former letters he named me brother and father, whereas the name of father is now changed into cousin; wherefore I wish you to be treasurer of this letter, for I will not that any man should be privy he is so changed to me-ward."
Then, after a fling at Galeas, Wingfield proceeds to notice that part of the king's letter which alluded to the bad understanding "betwixt Master Pace, now your secretary, and "me," and the king's injunction "that nother indignation or displeasure be taken against him through Wingfield's pro- curement for his plain dealing." He expressed regret that the king should think him capable so "to demean himself against the said Master Pace or any other, but as an honest poor gentleman should." He asserted that he had treated Pace as a brother, but Pace could not bear to hear the Emperor praised, nor would Wingfield hear him dispraised. Then, dilating, after his fashion, upon the confidence to be shown to old and experienced ministers, (fn. 63) "which on my conceit (he says) is a religion not to be annulled for any new sect," he adds, "I know not the foundation; and to say the sooth thereof, I have none envy that in so little time, and for so poor service, he (Master Pace) hath attained to so high a room as that of your principal secretary; yet in some things me seemeth and also know well that he hath largely offended in that art: for the name of secretary hath the foundation upon the knowledge of such things as ought to be kept secret; in which I know well that he hath greatly erred; for when I made him privy to such secret things as the Emperor had ordained me to write unto your Highness to the intent he might be the more wary how he should order himself concerning the said secrets betwixt the Emperor and you, he went forthwith and showed the same to the duke of Bari, advising him that it was the Cardinal Sedunensis' procurement and mine; which the said duke would not keep secret, but laid the same to the said Cardinal's charge: of which, as I esteem, he (Sion) hath advertized your Highness by his letters, which are not of such levity as those of Galias, whose malice, fraud, and iniquity hath not only abused Master Pace, but hath caused Master Pace to abuse many others. And in all such abuses as I may know that your Highness taketh either loss or dishonour, there is no power that shall may only stop my mouth, but only your Highness's commandment. And one thing I assure your Grace of, that he is known over all at this day so perverse towards the Emperor that, considering the authority he hath, and his notable remuneration for so small and inutil service that he hath done, it is verily judged that your affection towards the Emperor is now sore refrigerate."
It was not to be expected that a letter so rash, indiscreet, and boastful, so full of unjust insinuations against others—for be it observed insinuations were made as much against Wolsey's honesty as against Pace—would be allowed to pass without rebuke. Sir Robert might have gone on for some time longer, buzzing about the Emperor, occasionally starting into harmless acts of impertinence; but on this occasion he had ventured far beyond the bounds of reasonable indulgence, and his vagaries were becoming mischievous. The following communication from England brought him speedily to his senses.
HENRY VIII. To Sir ROBERT WINGFIELD. (fn. 64)
"Trusty and right well beloved ...,—It is right well known how long the fraternal [love and amity], with paternal and filial kindness, hath been rooted, est[ablished and] continued betwixt the Emperor, whom we have always [taken and] reputed as our good father, and us ... For the entertainment [and] continuance whereof, ye by our commission a[nd authority] have had the room and office of a mediator, to the intent that no occasion sounding to the hy[ndering and] diminishing thereof might be given, to enge[nder any] scruple of unkindness or diffidence betwixt hy[m and us]. Howbeit we and our council, upon probable g[rounds and] sundry vehement presumptions and conject[ures, perceive h]ow that by occasion of the advancement of such money, as by your means and acquittance was by Leonard Friscobald made to the Emperor, without any authority or commission by us to you given, and the repetition thereof now demanded, for satisfaction and reimbursement thereof to the creditors, to be contented and paid by the said Emperor, there is some hindrance in appearance of the mutual kindness betwixt the said Emperor and us, which should never have chanced if this money had not been advanced to him without our commission; considering that as well by such our sundry gifts of large sums of [money] as we have made unto him, as by the entertainment of the Swisses to our right great cost and charge [from their country] to Milan, for his honour, and conservation of his cities and countries in those parts, he had not only good cause to give unto us singular tha[nks, but also] rather thereby to augment than diminish the amity rooted and established between him and us. Whe[re- of we] thought right expedient to advertise you, to the [intent that, by] all the means and politic ways ye can, ye [exert your-] self, not only to entertain and firmly to establish [the] love and amity that ever hath been betwixt him [and us], but also to remove all scruples, sounding to [the] derogation thereof, by mean of the occasion and cause before written; for in case any alteration of the Emperor's mind towards us shall now be apparent, otherwise than it hath been heretofore, we cannot ascribe ne arrect it to any other thing or deed, but only to the advancement of the said money, without our commandment, and the repetition of the same now made; whereunto expedient it is ye take substantial regard in avoiding the danger that may thereof to you ensue.
"For, to be plain with you, we now evidently perceive, more by your own writings [than] by the relation of any other, that ye, having better opinion in [yourself than] your wisdom or qualities can attain to, not only by elation of a glorious mind, moved by the instigation of envy and malice against our secretary, Mr. Pace, have mo[re considered] your sensual appetites than regarded our commandments, weal, profit, or surety; as it appeareth evidently, as we[ll by] the advancement and laying out of our money [without] commandment, as in continual practices, by you daily made and driven, to put the Emperor in comfort [to expect] the advancement of more money, to our intolerab[le costs and] charges. And whereas ye advaunt yourself [to be a medi]ator for the perseverant continuance of paternal and [fi]lial love and amity betwixt the Emperor and us, your deeds be clearly repugnant to your words; for by these your drifts inducing the Emperor continually to demand money of us, and the not accomplishing of his desires, which is importable for us to sustain or do, ye have not only hindered the mutual intelligence betwixt the said Emperor and us, but also put him in such jealousy against our said secretary, Mr. Pace, by contrived surmises of seditious writing against the Emperor, that he hath banished him his court and countries; and rather than these inconvenients should ensue betwixt the Emperor and us by your vainglorious ways, more studying to get thanks than regarding our honor, profit, or surety, better it were y[ou had] never been born.
"When we consider your undiscreet writing, expressing the disdainous and envious mind that ye be of the advancement and promotion of our said [secretary], Mr. Pace, whom in your said writing ye dispraise [and] slander, with the fantastical argument that ye make, to conclude our affection to be refrigerate towards the Emperor, by cause we have rewarded our said secretary with so notable a remuneration for so inutill service, he being of so perverse mind towards the Emperor, and the protestation and requisition [by] you made, that in case his merits shall fortune to lead him to any inconvenient or danger in those parts, we should not impute or arrect the occasion thereof to you; it causeth us and our council to think, that either malicious fumes hath blinded your intelligence so that ye little regard what ye write, or else ye suppose and think that we and our council have no capacity to discern your notorious folly. For as touching the promotion of our said secretary, whom ye dispraise, inasmuch as he hath better followed our commandments and commissions than ye have done, we think he hath well deserved this advancement and better. And though he had never done unto us any service in those parts, yet, in consideration of his learning, wisdom, and activeness, our mind was to prefer him to that room before his departing, so that your sophistical argument before written is a great fallacy and folious invention [which] cannot proceed. And well assured may ye be, that in case any danger or inconvenient shall chance unto him in those parts, we must and will arrect it precisely to you, and in such wise punish you therefor, as all other shall take terrible example thereby. For whatsoever ye or any other have surmised to the Emperor for his hindrance, we have now expressly declared to the said Emperor by our letters, that our said secretary never wrote anything unto us but good and honourable of him, as much commending his valiantness, wisdom, and other his notable acquitayles, as could be devised, making also true and plain certificate unto us of all things occurrant there from time to time, rather deserving thereby the Emperor's thanks than his indignation, which we believe verily had not fortuned to him unless the Emperor had been by your seditious reports provoked thereunto.
"And as touching the Cardinal Sedunensis, whom ye much praise, and the count Galeas by you greatly dispraised, they be personages to us unknown. Nevertheless, for the laudable reports that we have heard of them, and that they were the persons most meet to further and [promote] this enterprise of the Swisses against the Frenchmen, we were the rather induced to practice with them, minding always not only the honor and surety of the Emperor, but also the advancement of the same, and conservation of his estate in those parts. For which purpose we have laid out and expended right great and large sums of money; and if for this our kindness we should be finally rewarded by sinister reports with distrust, suspicion, and displeasure, we may say our kindness hath been evil employed. Wherefore we will and straitly charge you that, all dissemblance put apart, ye endeavor yourself to entertain the amity and intelligence betwixt the Emperor and us, wherein we shall stedfastly and perseverantly continue without alteration for our part; assuring you that in case we may perceive any alienation of his mind therein, we must ascribe it unto you for such causes and considerations as be above specified, whereunto we will ye take special regard in avoiding our indignation to your uttermost peril. And as touching the request heretofore made by the Emperor to our said secretary, for the advancement of more money, inasmuch as the letters of exchange were revoked, it was not possible to be done; wherefore the Emperor hath no cause of displeasure against him. The reasons moving us to revoke our letters of exchange were these: First, because we supposed the expedition against the Frenchmen to be clearly extinct and done by the returning of the Swisses to their countries. Secondly, forasmuch as the Emperor by his letters to us had so effectually commended Friscobald for his diligent towardness and faithful acquittal, we minded by the revocation thereof to take the commission from the Fokers, and to have caused the money to be paid by the hands of Friscobald and his factors when the case should require; and in such wise we will ye show to the said Emperor."
In more than one of Wingfield's "vainglorious" letters the king had been urged by the Emperor—whether in sincerity or not remains to be shown—to assist him in punishing the ministers of his grandson Charles, who had sided throughout with the French. To their machinations he imputed the success of the French arms and the dangers now menacing the whole of Italy. In Wingfield's fantastic language, it was they who had sold Naples: (fn. 65) "Blessed be those honorable councillors of the young king which have brewed the beverage to the ruin of the Emperor, of which ruin the said young king is like to be very heavy to the damage of all Christendom." To understand these allusions, and how far Sir Robert was justified in his opinion of the Emperor's honor and integrity, we must look back a little.
From the first moment that Francis ascended the throne Charles and his ministers had courted a French alliance with unceasing assiduity. In their treatment of England they had exhibited not only indifference but studied contempt and dislike. The leaders of the king's councils, Chievres and the Chancellor (Sauvage), prompted mainly by a desire to retain their supremacy, threw the weight of their influence into the scale of France,—tempted also, if the report be true, by the pecuniary rewards which Francis offered so liberally for their favors. It may be thought that Charles was too young to be responsible for the acts of his ministers, and too indifferent to the charms of the princess Mary to have conceived either grief of indignation at seeing her consigned to the arms of another. But all writers agree in his precocity; not a single act in the after period of his life indicates the least dissatisfaction with these his earliest advisers; nor so long as they lived did he ever withdraw his confidence and favour from them. Quite the reverse. As for his alliance with Mary, Philip Dalles, the envoy sent to congratulate Francis on his accession, has preserved the following anecdote, which seems to indicate that the loss of Mary caused a deeper dissatisfaction than has been generally supposed. On one occasion Charles was told, in a company of young people, that he was a cuckow (coqu), and had lost his wife, and ought to take another: one proposed this lady, another that; some Madame Renée, others the daughter of Portugal or of Hungary. "I (said Dalles) replied that the Prince preferred Madam Renée." "He is quite right," answered Charles promptly, "she is much the best prize; for if my wife chanced to die before me I should then be Duke of Brittany." The mind which at such an age, and on such an occasion, could travel to such a contingency, was worthy of the discipline in which it had been trained. As I have said in my first volume, there was no careless betrayal of youthful indiscretion in Charles, whether as archduke, king, or emperor. Over all appetites, but one, he had perfect control from childhood upwards.
In the instructions which he gave to his ambassadors (fn. 66) announcing that he was out of his tutelage, and condoling with Francis on the death of the late king Lewis, the same decorous resignation to the will of Providence, the same keen regard to his own interests, may be traced, though blurred with the formalities of a state paper. They are directed to inform the new monarch that Charles is his own master; and though great is his grief at the death of the late king of France, yet, remembering that all mankind, great and small, are subject to mortality, and that the "late king was an ancient man, (fn. 67) infirm, and sickly, and that in the concerns of this life the will of the Lord must be done,—all things considered—the aforesaid Charles feels himself mightily comforted by the accession of the new sovereign." But the main drift of this mission was to negociate, in the first place, a marriage with Madame Renée, then four years old; and in the next, to excuse the alliance which had hitherto existed between England and Flanders, as passed in the archduke's minority, and for which he ought not to be held responsible. The terms he demanded were so exorbitant, the aim to extort money from a king, liberal and young like Francis, so apparent, that more than once the negotiation was near coming to an abrupt termination. Even when completed it was one of the conditions insisted on by Charles that his future queen, young as she was, should be taken from her family, and delivered to his care, with a certain amount of money, jewels, and property settled upon her, of which he was to become the possessor in the event of her death.
This union with France had more than one advantage to recommend it:—it settled the disputes between the two countries in relation to the future possession of Naples; it gave peace to Flanders then greatly impoverished; and it enabled Charles and his ministers to sit aloof, unconcerned, whilst the other great powers of Europe proceeded to arbitrate their differences by the sword. Whether, on a broad view of history, countries in the long run prosper by this policy of noninterference, is a question not to be determined here. Between running like famished mastiffs to take part in a street brawl, and the armed interposition of reason and charity, there is a wide difference. The sternest neutrality may be as selfish, and as destructive of true magnanimity, as hot and precipitate anger. No nation ever became great by either course alone,—certainly not at the time of which I am speaking.
It could not be expected that during the predominance of such feelings and principles English negotiations would prosper in Flanders. Attempts were made, but with little success, to renew the amity and free commercial intercourse between the two peoples. The negociators were Tunstal and More, afterwards the celebrated chancellor,—then for the first time committed, to the great regret of Erasmus, to a life of politics instead of letters. More was mainly employed, no doubt, for his high character and legal attainments; he possessed, above all men of his age, the qualifications required for the temperate and successful adjustment of disputes between the English and Flemish merchants, complicated by the anxiety of the latter to force English trade back again to Bruges, then rapidly waning before the increasing popularity of Antwerp. (fn. 68) Unfortunately we have none of More's correspondence for this period, when he first gathered those impressions of the Low Countries and of the political state of the times, which he afterwards produced in his Utopia. For our knowledge of what passed, we are mainly indebted to Sir Thomas Spinelly, whose gossip is amusing enough, but rests often on no better foundation than hearsay. He was evidently not initiated into the secrets of either party, and was frequently imposed upon by both. His English prejudices made him a convenient instrument for Margaret of Savoy, or the Emperor through her, whenever it was desirable to draw off the English negociators on a false scent. Months elapsed, but the English commissioners could make no impression on Charles or his court until the close of 1515. Even then it is probable that the desire of Chievres to obtain a loan from this country was a much stronger inducement to moderation than any real change of sentiment. (fn. 69)
The death of Ferdinand the Catholic in February 1516 threw the destinies of Europe into the hands of three young sovereigns, nearly of the same age, and for this and other reasons jealous and suspicious of each other's glory and achievements. This is the date of Charles's emancipation from tutelage. From that time to the death of Henry VIII. the political history of Europe is little more than the combinations and intrigues of these monarchs to prevent any one of their number from rising to a dangerous superiority. With this period commences the system of modern political adjustments, which continues to this day as the pole-star of modern diplomacy. By the death of Ferdinand, the rela- tions between Charles and Francis were altered; hitherto he had been a vassal of France, and at the first interview of his envoys with Francis they had been reminded of this subservience, in terms not agreeable to the inferior. Now the vassal in the extent of his kingdoms exceeded his suzerain; and in the prospect of the imperial succession stood far above him. (fn. 70) His interests, present and future, brought Charles more directly and more frequently into collision with Francis than they could do with Henry. Yet with this vast extent of territory, with the old and new world tied, as it were, to his girdle, Charles was so miserably poor that he could not raise so mean a sum as 300,000 crowns to take his journey into Spain. (fn. 71) The wealth of Henry, his facility in parting with it, seemed to point him out as the sovereign to whom Charles should ally himself; but, for reasons not well known—and which never can be thoroughly known until foreign archives have been thrown open to examination—no efforts of the English ambassadors, not even the interests of Charles himself, could induce him to abandon the French alliance, or treat this country otherwise than with haughtiness and neglect. The successes of Francis in Italy, the mismanagement of the Emperor, seemed only to serve as additional inducements for strengthening the French alliance, and imperilling his succession to Spain and the Empire. A policy so suicidal, and which, if eventually successful, must have ended in making Francis Emperor of the West, can only be attributed to the selfish dread entertained by Chievres and his fellow ministers of Maximilian and Henry. Their alliance would have given a deadly blow to that party which had hitherto governed the Archduke exclusively; and, rather than incur that danger, any sacrifice was to be preferred.
The French, on their side, watched these negotiations with their habitual keenness. The least indication of an English tendency in the court of the king Catholic, as he was now styled, (fn. 72) was instantly punished by some act of aggression on the part of the duke of Gueldres, the hereditary enemy of Charles, the restless invader of his dominions, who needed no instigation from France to satisfy his desire of vengeance or aggression. What Scotland was to England, Gueldres was to Charles; and the latter could not move a step towards his Spanish dominions without exposing his frontier on the side of Gelderland to fire and sword. Aware of this perplexity, and probably the secret instigators of it, the French now proposed a closer amity. A more cheerful face was exhibited to England; its envoys were received with greater courtesy; the Venetian ambassador even wrote to say that the friendship of the two courts looked ominous, for Castile "was quite hand-in-glove with Henry." (fn. 73) But their energies in reality were bent on a closer intimacy with France, in which they hoped to include the Emperor, now more than ever inclined to listen to such proposals since his inglorious retreat from the Italian expedition.
Charles now became the object of the intrigues of both courts. On one side England offered him a loan of 20,000 marks to bear his charges into Spain, (fn. 74) hinting at the same time that he should take England on his way, "to "avoid sea-sickness, and keep clear of the French coast." Pensions were privately promised to Chievres and the Chancellor. Nothing could be more plausible than the conduct of these ministers; they professed themselves "weary of the French and their dissimulation." An excuse was never wanting. When they were taxed with submissiveness to France;—it was done merely to prevent the French from hindering the journey to Spain; once there the King would show himself in his true colors. (fn. 75) While these negociations were pending, a secretary of the French king, named De Neufville, had arrived at Brussels. He was frequently closeted with Chievres, but his communications were innocent; they had no higher object than the discussion of some unsettled points relating to the marriage treaty of the queen of Arragon;—this, and no more. (fn. 76) The utmost candour and openness were exhibited on both sides. True, the French had offered another marriage alliance to Charles; but these negotiations had only been entertained on their part to gain time till Charles should be peaceably settled in his new dominions. The journey into Spain was a wide and convenient pretext. If the English desired to bind them in a united effort against the French in Italy, the expenses to be incurred and the charges against Gueldres prevented their contributing to so worthy an object. (fn. 77) Were they taxed with playing a double game? They must keep on good terms with France, and condescend apparently to its demands, or have France for their enemy, and their master's voyage prevented. (fn. 78) On the 13th July came another great personage from Paris, the Grand Master of France. Tunstal urged Chievres and the chancellor to beware of French practices and take heed of a French marriage. (fn. 79) Suddenly Charles, like his uncle Maximilian, was taken with a passion for hunting; he was not to be seen. (fn. 80) The Emperor about the same time had become invisible, even to his faithful admirer Sir Robert. (fn. 81) Why pursue the progress of dissimulation any further? By the 13th August the treaty of Noyon was completed. Its discussions had been kept a profound secret; so profound that three days after it had been signed Maximilian was trying to amuse Henry with a proposal to descend into the Low Countries and assist him "in pulling up the tares from the wheat;" (fn. 82) or rather, in pulling down the potent ministers of his grandson. On the faith of this promise he had induced the King to reimburse Friscobald the 60,000 florins for which Pace had been dragged out of his sick bed. (fn. 83)
But the end had not yet come. With real or well assumed repugnance Maximilian, as if loath to face the English ambassador, desired his secretary Maraton to inform Wingfield of the secret terms concluded at Noyon. In its arrangements England had been passed over without notice. Charles had consented to take Anne, the French king's infant daughter, in the place of Renée; and France in return had waived all claims to Naples. The Venetians were to be called on to pay the Emperor 200,000 florins for Brescia and Verona. Sir Robert was thunderstruck. Could this be that Maximilian who had vowed eternal vengeance against the French, and persuaded Wingfield they were worse than Judas? On the faith of such protestations Wingfield had pawned his honor, and would have staked his life. He had assured his master of Maximilian's desire to repair the blunders of the last campaign. On his own responsibility he had advanced the Emperor 60,000 florins. In contradiction to the advice of Pace he had been a party to the gross device of the Emperor for making Henry duke of Milan, and placing on his head the Imperial crown. Now empire, dukedom, money, all were lost. The million and a half spent by Henry on the war (fn. 84) had evaporated in smoke. The invasion of France was a ridiculous dream; its supremacy had been established, and all the efforts to counteract that supremacy were dashed by the cunning contrivances of two men (Chievres and the Chancellor), the Emperor's own nominees. Sir Robert was abashed, and could make no answer. He wrote, in reply to Maraton's communication, (fn. 85) "that hitherto the Emperor's Majesty had peculiarly suffered his bounty and goodness to vanquish his great wisdom and experience;"—(in less courtly phrase, he had allowed himself to be duped by others of less intelligence than himself;)—now Sir Robert hoped his goodness would give way before his experience; that he would take vengeance on those who had endeavoured to separate him from his tried friends, and "strike his enemies with fear and confusion." There was one hope left: Maraton had solemnly assured him that the Emperor was no party to these arrangements. (fn. 86) Sir Robert was comforted; his letter was read to Maximilian. The Emperor would follow his suggestion: he had never thought of abandoning England; if the King would remain firm, nothing should separate their friendship. (fn. 87) His heart had been torn by one apprehension, that Henry would not help him; but now that he was assured of the contrary he would arm and straight set forward. Once more Sir Robert was delighted; it was needless, he said, "to stimul the Emperor very busily," (fn. 88) for no man could be better disposed. When he found himself strong and united with the Catholic king he would not fail to punish the traitors. In the abundance of his hope and charity, Wingfield had not only forgiven Pace, but had even induced the Emperor to take Pace into favor, on the assurance that his "proterve conduct" should not be repeated. Two days after Maraton wrote to him again: "The Emperor is continually urged to accept this foul peace with France." Wingfield must come and counteract those intrigues; but unless he could muster 6,000 gold florins, his success would be questionable. (fn. 89) The Em- peror desired 10,000 crowns; then he would leave for Namur. Wolsey offered 5,000 if he would come to Calais, and 5,000 more when there. The Emperor (writes his daughter Margaret to the imperial ambassadors in England) is very poor; the least they can do is to allow him 10,000 florins a month while he is away; (fn. 90)—he is very much pressed by the French; but nothing except his urgent poverty will induce him to listen to their proposals.