Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 21 Part 1, January-August 1546. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1908.
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By the end of the year 1545, as we have seen, Henry had been endeavouring to fortify himself against the probability of an European combination against him, first by a skilful use of the Protestant embassy which hoped in vain to mediate between him and France, and secondly by a diplomatic effort to knit more firmly than ever, through a revision of the existing treaty, the alliance between himself and the Emperor, The terms of a new treaty, explanatory of the old, were now being carefully discussed by Gardiner and his colleagues at Utrecht to remove every kind of ambiguity in their mutual obligations, and on the 16 January, 1546, the work was completed by the treaty of Utrecht, (fn. n1) which was that day signed by the Emperor's ministers, as well as by Gardiner, Thirlby and Carne. The Imperialists, indeed, had not been too anxious to commit their master thus far, and had put the matter off as long as possible—by the feast of the Toison, by the Emperor's gout, and so forth (fn. n2). And it must be owned that there was much excuse for their unwillingness to come to any premature conclusion, as commercial grievances had been so ill adjusted at the Diet of Bourbourg. But they had always given the English Ambassadors fair words, and Gardiner kept them up to their pledges. To avoid delay in signing, he and his colleagues had even been content to defer some important matter of controversy. For one great object that they had to keep in view was, while abolishing the special agreements made in 1543 for a joint war with France, (fn. n3) to maintain in its full force a particular article (the 24th) allowing the King's army free passage through the Emperor's countries, and the King liberty to hire subjects of the Emperor for his service. But when this was declared by the Imperialists to be only one of the temporary arrangements for the war of 1544, it was agreed to leave its interpretation till a time of common enmity. It was quite enough, for the present, to pin the Emperor down to a closer amity with England, and leave no possibility of his allying himself against England with France.
As to Commercial grievances, these were of two kinds. At Bourbourg the Imperialists had complained about customs levied in England, and no decision had been come to about damages done to the Emperor's subjects. But the English now agreed to forward to their master certain proposals which they themselves considered reasonable: first, that the customs' books, both of England and of the Low Countries, should within six months be examined by two Ambassadors of either side, and that all exactions contrary to the Commercial treaties of 1495 and 1520 should be abolished. And secondly, that the King should depute Councillors of his own to confer with the Emperor's resident Ambassador in England and a special envoy to be sent thither, and that they should decide upon restitution or reparation within forty days. This compact the English Ambassadors at Utrecht signed on the day of the treaty, subject to the condition that the like provision should be made for English subjects who had grievances against the Imperialists. (fn. n4)
The King approved, and at once sent over his ratification, which the English Ambassadors presented to the Emperor on Candlemas day. The Emperor "seemed glad," and promised in return to sign his own ratification with all speed. Nor did he exhibit any objection to a proposal, on which Gardiner had endeavoured to sound Granvelle beforehand, to obtain bonds of the towns and nobles of the Empire for further confirmation of the alliance. He only said that he must speak about it to his Council—just as if Granvelle had not already mentioned the subject to him, though he had promised to do so. The Ambassadors further pressed him to lend the King some Captains of the Low Countries "for a sudden enterprise." But about this he hesitated, as France would take it for a breach. They afterwards mentioned one Captain "Courtpenyng" as they called him (Conrad Pennynck was his real name), and the Emperor, who remarked that he was one who could lead footmen, promised to speak about him to Granvelle. (fn. n5)
After that audience the Emperor was closeted with Granvelle till 9 in the evening: and Gardiner was of opinion that he was more favourable to a war than his minister approved. But whatever the minister might object, Gardiner intended to make the most of the obligations now imposed upon the Emperor. He had not forgotten "the aid," as he wrote to the King just after the signature of the treaty; (fn. n6) but he waited till that point had been gained, and some other little matters adjusted, which it would never have done to interrupt, and now on Candlemas day, having delivered the King's ratification to the Emperor, and told Granvelle of the King's agreement to "the articles for the merchants," he desired him to remember the subsidy and aid to which the Emperor was bound by previous treaties in consideration of their last year's invasion. "No, no," exclaimed Granvelle, "that matter is gone." "How so?" asked the English Ambassadors, innocently. "Marry," he replied, "by this covenant." "Why," said they in return, "did not we upon New Year's day, at which time we fully agreed on all things, demand the aid and protest to you that it should not be taken away by this covenant? Whereupon you took upon you to speak with the Emperor in the matter?" Granvelle denied this with warmth; but they insisted on it and appealed to what President Schore said at the time; which President Schore himself, being called in, confirmed, except that he did not remember that Granvelle had promised to speak to the Emperor about it. And the Ambassadors, reporting the conversation, remark that Granvelle denied it so extremely that no doubt it was not expedient either for Schore or for Scepperus to remember it. But in the face of Schore's admission, he was reduced to saying that the English could not have spoken seriously; which they again replied was a strange thing to allege when they spoke of so serious a matter. "If you take it so, then there is nothing done yet," said Granvelle; and he left them in a huff. (fn. n7)
The Emperor next day left Utrecht for Zutphen, his first stage on the way to Germany, and Granvelle immediately followed him. Scepperus was left to make up matters with the ambassadors, and persuaded them to delay writing to their master till the Emperor's ratification arrived; which he brought them on the evening of the 4th February, offering to deliver it and receive theirs in exchange. The Ambassadors were very willing to do so, but only with the protestation that the aid was reserved. Scepperus said he durst not admit such a protestation, but would write to Granvelle, from whom he received answer on Sunday the 7th, "containing a great discourse of reasons, with a resolution that the ratification should be delivered, and if we protested Scepperus should protest to the contrary." And so the thing was at last managed and the Emperor's ratification delivered, with protest and counter-protest, in a manner that did not satisfy Gardiner. He was indeed indignant at the barefaced lying of Granvelle, and though he wished to spare Scepperus on account of his friendly disposition to the King, he sent home documentary evidences in disproof of the minister's allegations. (fn. n8)
The ratifications were exchanged in this manner at Bois le Duc on Saturday the 13th, the last day of the month allowed by the treaty. Scepperus assured Gardiner that he would find the Emperor good enough, even about the aid; in proof of which he showed him confidentially the heads of a letter from Granvelle to De Praet and himself indicating that his Majesty was willing to have the matter "friendly talked on." Such extraordinary confidence was begotten of extraordinary fears; for Scepperus was very suspicious of the tendency of Gardiner's remarks, and wrote to Granvelle suggesting that a blank denial of the aid would be too likely even now to throw the English into the arms of their enemies. (fn. n9) In his conversation with Gardiner he further intimated that he was going on to England to take leave of Henry VIII, as it were on the Emperor's behalf on his departure for Germany, with a commission for a marriage long spoken about between Prince Edward and a niece of the Emperor, daughter of Ferdinand King of the Romans; and he was also to draw up instructions for the special envoy that was to be sent on commercial matters. The first proposal, indeed, with which Gardiner had been entrusted when he was despatched to the Emperor in October, was for a marriage of the Prince to the Emperor's daughter, Mary of Castile. (fn. n10) But while Charles professed great desire for as close an alliance with Henry as possible, it was intimated that he had already promised his daughter to the Prince of Portugal; but that his brother Ferdinand, King of the Romans, was amply blessed with daughters (he had actually had ten, of whom the eldest had died lately consort of the Crown Prince of Poland, at the age of nineteen), and that the Emperor would regard a match with one of them as being made with his own daughter. (fn. n11) The matter cooled, however, for a time, as the Imperialists were slow to speak about the amount of the marriage portion, (fn. n12) and, when pressed by Gardiner, Granvelle at length replied that it would be difficult to make a suitable provision, "as the Prince was now the greatest personage in Christendom." An allowance of 100,000 crowns, he said, had been appointed for each of Ferdinand's daughters, and with that "dote" the King of Poland (or his heir apparent rather) (fn. n13) had married one, who died immediately after it was paid. Gardiner said that among friends a substantial "dote" was often assigned, suitable to the rank of the parties, and secretly remitted where means to furnish it were insufficient; but when they were told that the Emperor would marry the lady as his own daughter the offer was so inadequate that it looked as if the thing had not been meant to take effect. This inference was combated by Granvelle, who said that, the world being in such trouble, the Emperor could not well do more, and he hoped the King would be content. (fn. n14)
So the matter rested till that audience with the Emperor on Candlemas day, when Gardiner ventured to suggest his sending a commission to England if he were prepared to furnish a suitable "dote," for that hitherto mentioned was so meagre that he and his colleagues, he said, had refrained from reporting it to the King (a mild diplomatic falsehood which certainly could not deceive Charles V.). The Emperor answered that the King of the Romans had many daughters and was exhausted by the wars. "But, Sire," said the Ambassadors, "ye marry her as your own daughter and are able to set her forth accordingly." The Emperor smiled and said that he had daughters of his own to marry; but he desired it much, and so did his brother and sister, and he would speak about it to Granvelle. (fn. n15) It did not look as if there was much prospect of the King's demands being conceded.
Scepperus, however, was wise not to allow the English to be put entirely out of hope of the aid, or of the marriage either. In fact, to keep alive the marriage project if possible was part of his commission in going to England. The Emperor's Council were evidently very much perplexed, and believed, what was not far from the truth, that Henry had only made an imposing alliance with him in order to compel Francis to buy peace with him on higher terms. For though the war between England and France was still going on, and troops were raised on both sides, it was surmised that secret negotiations were even now taking place. Scepperus was instructed to hasten to England as fast as possible to see that nothing was done there to the Emperor's prejudice. He was to insinuate that the French meant to suggest the marriage of Prince Edward to the infant Queen of Scots, in the hope thus to effect a peace and recover Boulogne, (fn. n16) persuading the Queen Mother that her consent would afterwards be annulled by the Pope on the ground that Henry VIII. was a schismatic. Moreover, a secret protest might be made in the name of the girl beforehand. Scepperus was to find out what the King's real inclination was towards the marriage of his son with a niece of the Emperor, and was to address him, more or less significantly as he found expedient, assuring him, in any case, that the Emperor and the King of the Romans were both much gratified by his goodwill to the match. But if there was anything said about dowry the King must be content with such provision as Ferdinand had made for his other daughters. There were reasons, as Scepperus well knew, why no larger demand could be entertained; and if pressed, he must in the last resort only say he would gladly write about it, although he had not the slightest hope that Ferdinand would offer more or the Emperor assist him. If the King desired it, he might entrust the negotiation to his ambassadors at Ratisbon, where the girl's father would be at the Diet. On the other hand, if he did not wish it, or was treating for the Scotch marriage, Scepperus might say that he spoke about it only in consequence of what Gardiner said at Antwerp, and in any case the Emperor desired to maintain the most cordial friendship. As to the aid he was to tell the King's Council certain good reasons why it was not accorded, especially as nothing was said about it for three weeks before the ratification; and Scepperus must say he had no idea that the matter would be pressed. On learning the nature and duration of the aid required, he should say that it could not be given except during the continuance of the invasion formally specified in the treaty, and then only after notification "in the form often discussed." But if they denied it, he should say he would transmit the claim, and believed the Emperor would do everything in reason. (fn. n17)
With these instructions (which were not only for himself, but for Van der Delft) Scepperus was dispatched from Maestricht at the end of March, just as the Emperor was leaving for the Diet at Ratisbon. It was a delicate part that he had to play—all the more so as Henry VIII., now that he had obtained a firmer diplomatic hold on the Emperor, was laying some rather heavy burdens on their old friendship and on the tact of Mary of Hungary, the Regent of the Netherlands. The King wanted a supply of gold from Antwerp and of grain from the Low Countries generally, though there was great scarcity there as well as in England. And in these things the Regent was willing to accommodate him to some extent, especially if the provisions were only for his troops, though people would assuredly complain of the passage of Conrad Pennynck and his men through the country. But further he wanted waggons; about which she really must have some more definite information, for the experience of 1544 in that matter had not been encouraging. (fn. n18) Hearing that French ships were in the Straits making captures of Englishmen, Scepperus embarked in Zeeland but was driven back by stormy weather to Dunkirk, and it was only after being seven or eight days at sea that he reached England. He arrived in London on the 13 March, to the great satisfaction of Van der Delft, who was awaiting him with anxiety. The King, however, had been unwell for three weeks (he had been feverish with his old sore leg), and though getting better could not see them for a few days more. (fn. n19) They sounded Paget meanwhile about the marriage, and he advised them to open the matter to the King, though he thought the proposed dowry far too small. There was no talk, Paget said, of a marriage of the Prince with the Scottish princess; on the contrary, one was arranged between her and the Regent Arran's son; and as to Conrad Penninck, he was only authorised to raise 3,000 lance-knights, though he himself rumoured it was 6,000, and they would pass in bands of ten, twenty, or thirty at the most. (fn. n20)
They were admitted to audience on Sunday, 21 March, and could see from the King's face that his illness had been more serious than he wished it to be known. Scepperus said the Emperor was going to Germany to remove the distrust of the Protestants that he intended making war on them, a thing from which Henry had dissuaded him, and that he had been unwilling to leave the Netherlands without sending to the King to show how he valued his advice. This was certainly a fine way of insinuating what was really untrue, as the Emperor had been for months fully committed, by secret compact with the Pope, to make war on the Protestants if they would not go to the Council of Trent. The truth was doubtless not unsuspected by the King himself, who, however, took the diplomatic assurance at its face value. He said he was very glad; for though he did not seek to meddle, he believed such a war would be not only against the professed Protestants but against others who seemed to be the Emperor's loyal subjects. He was sure that Germany would never allow the Bishop of Cologne to be driven out; but the Emperor knew best how to act. He said there was nothing in the suggestion that the French would meddle either with his son's marriage or with Scotland, where he trusted to have his own way. He was not so light, moreover, as to negotiate with two parties at once for the same end (of course he was quite incapable of such a thing!); but this proposal for a marriage with the Emperor's niece had really cooled. The dowry offered was an affront, and so forth. He was getting angry, and though his words seemed to call for an answer the ambassadors thought it best to soothe him. Scepperus accordingly said, following the course laid down for him, that though his instructions did not extend to an increased dowry, he would report the matter if desired. The King said he would go no further and send no one unless his son was treated as it had been intended to treat the Duke of Orleans. He added that his subjects were ill-treated in Spain in violation of promises; and he made two points here, one of the release of his subjects and their ships, and the other of the action of the Inquisition. Van der Delft answered that he had forwarded to the Emperor the petition presented in England, and had heard that the prisoners of the Inquisition were liberated. The Emperor's subjects had, he said, more reason to complain, as the arrests in Spain did not amount to 10,000 crowns. The King then grew testy on other subjects. The Netherlanders, he said, were supporting the Scots; and finally he asked when he should have the aid. Scepperus said he was instructed to address him on that subject when he pleased, or to confer with such persons as he should appoint; on which, happily, he seemed satisfied, and the ambassadors were glad to withdraw. (fn. n21)
Scepperus now thought it would be inadvisable for him to remain in England much longer, as it would make people think that the Emperor was willing to negotiate the marriage on the King's terms; (fn. n22) but he delayed his departure, as the King wished him to remain till he received an express reply upon that subject. (fn. n23) He remained, indeed, to be pestered with complaints about the treatment of Conrad Peninck and the detention at Dort of supplies of wheat wanted for the King's army, and it was a full month before he was allowed to return.
But the chief questions which now occupied Henry's mind were not about the Emperor and his countries, nor even about the Protestants, who could be of no service to him at present, but about the war with France and the security of Boulogne. At the end of the year 1545, as we have seen in last Volume, the Earl of Surrey had been showing himself very efficient in his command there, and had only incurred censure for overdaring. (fn. n24) Early in January he received orders from the King to take counsel as to the possibility of capturing the new fortress raised by the French on the other side of the river; and he accordingly sent a report showing how it might be besieged and starved into surrender, the garrison being in extreme misery for lack of food and fuel. (fn. n25) The fact that they were so undoubtedly made him feel too secure; indeed it seems that at this very time he was composing verses about his own situation and his wife's lament at home for his absence. (fn. n26) But immediately after there occurred something which, if not altogether a defeat, could not but be called a disaster. Hearing that Du Biez had left Montreuil with 600 horse and 3,000 foot to relieve the fortress, he sent out a company of 600 foot, who took the trenches at St. Etienne before daybreak on the 7 January, and he dispatched Sir Ralph Ellerker, the Marshal of Boulogne, with all the horsemen, of the garrison, and Sir George Pollard with 200 men that he had brought over from Guisnes the night before, to discover their line of march. The camp fires of the enemy had already shown that they had encamped during the night at a place called Novelier, six miles from Montreuil. In passing the fort of Hardelôt Pollard was wounded in the knee by a culverin, so that he died on the following night. Beyond Hardelôt the reconnoitring party made out clearly the route by which the enemy were approaching; of which Surrey being apprised, he issued out with Sir John Bridges, Sir Henry and Sir Thomas Palmer, Sir Thomas Wyatt (the younger) and 2,000 footmen, leaving an equal force within to protect the town. By the time they had drawn up the horse and foot outside the trenches of St. Etienne, the enemy were also drawn up in order of battle on the North side of Hardelôt—that is, the side nearer Boulogne. They had "put on their carriages"—that is to say, their supplies—"by the seaside towards the fortress," protected by a company of horse and foot, the former of which Surrey estimated at not more than 500 and the latter about 4,000. It was a critical moment. The revictualling of the fortress could only be prevented by an attack which must inevitably entail severe loss upon the English. On the other hand, if crowned with success, they might win the fortress. Surrey was well supported and his men eager for the fight. He gave the word. Ellerker, Bellingham and others with all the horsemen of Boulogne and Guisnes charged the enemy on their right flank and put their horsemen to flight. They pursued till they came to the "carriages," of which they succeeded in breaking up 90. But Du Biez succeeded in rallying his men, who presently came down upon the English infantry with a fury which drove them back to the trenches, and even there, not feeling secure, they took to the river, followed by the enemy till nightfall. Their captains in vain strove to keep order, and at length let them withdraw into the town. Then the horsemen who thought they had won a brilliant victory, finding all in disorder, were obliged to return also, having slain a good number of the enemy without loss on their side. The attempt to revictual the French fort had indeed been partly defeated. But the English, who could less afford it, had met with a severe check. They had 205 men killed, including ten captains and four others missing at the time that Surrey counted his losses. (fn. n27)
Although Surrey and the Council of Boulogne wrote next day a full report of the disaster to the King, it had not reached him at Hampton Court on the 11th— indeed, probably not till some days later, (fn. n28) —private intelligence having already arrived of the action in which Sir George Pollard was slain. The unofficial report was extremely disquieting. Writing about it to Surrey, Paget said "His Majesty, like a prince of wisdom, knows that who plays at a game of chance must sometimes lose." (fn. n29) Apparently, it was judged to have been an unrelieved defeat. On the 19 January Van der Delft writes from London that great anxiety was felt about Boulogne, and that two days before, after consulting his Council and all his military advisers, the King had resolved on sending thither the earl of Hertford and Colonel Gamboa. (fn. n30) It looked as if Surrey was to be superseded, though perhaps for the present, Hertford was only sent over to enquire and report upon matters; for if we construe aright a mutilated letter of the 3rd February, he had by that time arrived at Calais. (fn. n31) But he could not have staid long; for Survey remained in charge till the middle of March, when Hertford again went over, as we shall see presently.
In fact, Surrey's anxieties had been continually increasing, and evidently the King's confidence in him was not what it had been. We may presume that it was before the news of his very serious check in January had been fully realised in England that a letter was written to him in the name of his children by their tutor, Hadrianus Junius, in expectation of his return as a triumphant warrior to his own country. (fn. n32) Now it was quite another story. On the 20 February he had learned definitely, what he had already known for some days, that a new attempt was going to be made by the French, both by land and sea, to revictual their fortress at Outreau, and next day he had the further news that a great French army was to muster at the end of March for the relief both of that fortress and of Ardres; and moreover that it would be aided by a large force out of Germany. (fn. n33) On the 2 March French fleets were actually lying before the haven, and great expectations were entertained by the French that with the aid of a new fort to be constructed at Marguison, Boulogne would be won "without handstroke or the murder of any man." (fn. n34) Hertford's coming, no doubt, was very necessary; but there was a considerable overturn of old arrangements. Surrey himself virtually confessed that he had been over confident. On the 5 January he had been unable to see how the French could possibly revictual their fortress, and had been in favour of a reduction of his own companies of foot to 300, retaining only the most experienced captains. On the 16 February he had written to the King a letter which is not preserved, apparently requiring instructions whether this was to be carried out in view of expected attempts by the enemy. Paget replied to this on the 20th, saying that the King wished him "to despatch from thence all such captains with the officers as you wrote to be cassed, for his Majesty knoweth not how to employ the same." Only he might report for the King's consideration any specially capable man. As to what he wrote of the enemy's designs, the King would very shortly send over an army with Hertford as lieutenant general. (fn. n35)
Surrey, perhaps, was by this time prepared to hear that he was superseded. He had been sanguine enough to believe that, continuing at his post, he might be allowed to send for his wife to stay with him. He was not quite well, apparently, and required some relaxation of the Lenten fast, of course by royal dispensation. In reply Paget wrote to him on the 8 March on this point. "As for your diet this Lent time, his Majesty permitteth to your Lordship's liberty; and thinketh not best, now that time of service, which will bring some trouble and disquietness unmeet for woman's imbecilities, approacheth, that your Lordship should send for my lady your wife." (fn. n36) On the 15th he sent Paget a report on the garrisons and fortifications, in which he desired to cancel a plan that he had drawn up in January for economical distribution of the forces. He would have converted Basse Boulogne into a citadel, merely for the purpose of landing victuals there under the protection of an unfinished fort called "the Young Man." But "the Young Man" was condemned, and "a work devised of more travail and charge," which in his opinion would prove not only "of more danger" but "of less defence." So he only reported the whole numbers of the garrisons, with a strong recommendation that Boulogne should be so well fortified in itself as not to depend for security on any other enterprise. For he greatly doubted if an army at Ambleteuse, six miles off, with two rivers between, would be a serious obstacle to any attempt upon the town. The enemy were even then fortifying at Etaples. But Surrey had attacked them that very day at their fortress at Outreau and proved that the Frenchmen can run as fast away up the hill as the Englishmen not long ago ran down. (fn. n37)
On the 21st the Privy Council wrote to him stating that since he was not satisfied as to the safety of the fortifications or the works appointed to be done, he had better come over and explain matters to the King by word of mouth. The Council of Boulogne were at the same time notified that the Earl of Hertford was going over with an army, and that obedience would now be due to him as the King's lieutenant in Surrey's place. (fn. n38) He was understood to be leaving even on the 18th at the head of 5,000 or 6,000 Englishmen dressed in three colours, who were to stop the French making a fort at Marquise. (fn. n39) But apparently the real day of his departure was the 22nd. (fn. n40) He landed at Calais on the 23rd. (fn. n41)
Surrey seems to have recovered favor by that gallant little exploit, disturbing the Frenchmen at their fortress, and shortly after his return he obtained from the King, rent free for life, a grant of the manor of Wymondham which he had previously held subject to rent for the term of his father's life only. (fn. n42)
The idea of defending. Boulogne by an army at Ambleteuse was no doubt Hertford's. He had visited Ambleteuse already with Lisle, the Lord Admiral, when he was over before; and he had now arranged that the baggage embarked at Dover should be shipped to that port. But he was doubtful whether the vessels could enter the harbour in the existing state of the tide; and, being at Calais, he sent one Watson, who had been with him and the Admiral on the previous visit, to go thither and sound the haven. The result was at first disappointing. The harbour seemed to be much worse than when soundings were taken for the Lord Admiral. The channel was altered much more to the West. But there could not be two worse tides than these, which were "dead neap tides." Hertford resolved to wait three days before going thither that they might improve, and after his arrival on the third day he found that three crayers, one drawing nine feet of water, had been able to enter at a quarter ebb. (fn. n43) This and further experience soon convinced him that the harbour was much better than he had supposed.
That day, the 30 March, he was again joined by Lord Lisle, the Admiral, who brought him a "plat" sanctioned by the King for the fortification of Ambleteuse; in accordance with which he hoped within two or three days to fortify a camp and take down the old walls of the place and level it with the ground. This, of course, was only for a beginning. As to constructive measures, though the King's "plat" was considered generally excellent, the five bulwarks which it comprised seemed more than the ground would serve for, and four were thought enough. (fn. n44)
On the 1 April, Hertford and Lisle were joined by lord Grey, who had just been appointed to the command at Boulogne, and by Sir Thomas Seymour and Sir Thomas Wyat, in consultation about a proposed attack upon Etaples. But the fortifications there were so far advanced that any attempt to surprise the place was judged to be hopeless; and it was determined, instead, "to take Samer and Daverne on the way homewards, as a training for the soldiers." (fn. n45) Two days later, in fact, Hertford received intelligence that the fort at Etaples was finished and had been revictualled. (fn. n46) This was a disappointment; for the King had suggested the attack. But as for other matters, Hertford wrote in the best of spirits. He said they all agreed that the King's device for the fort could not have been better if his Majesty had seen the ground; and as for the harbour, the more they examined it the better they liked it. Writing to Paget on the 3rd, he said that on the previous day, though it was not then the best spring tide, there were 18 feet of water on the bar at full sea, and 14 feet within the harbour, in which vessels could rest safely even with the wind in the west quarter. "I am daily more and more in love with it," he writes, "and trust to see the same one of the best on this side the seas" (fn. n47) A similar opinion of the harbour had been written by Lisle from Dover the day before. (fn. n48)
But the King was not pleased to hear of the abandonment of the project against Etaples, as the over throw of the fortification there was a matter of the highest importance. No doubt Hertford and Lisle were right that the place could not be taken by surprise; but he wished them still to consider what else could be done about it. On receipt of this message Hertford called a council of war on the 9th, and seven weighty reasons against the attempt were given, which the King admitted to be sufficient. (fn. n49) An enterprise against Ardres was next urged upon Lisle and Hertford; but this project too was unfavourably reported on. Lisle did not think the town could be taken with a loss of only 140 or 160 men. Hertford could, no doubt, now that the fortification of Newhaven was pretty well advanced, take a body of Germans and encamp near Etaples, so as to cut off the victuals from Ardres and their new fort. A night attack on Guisnes had already succeeded in creating some disturbance. (fn. n50)
Scepperus was at this time still in England, and he and Van der Delft, writing to the Emperor on the 12 April, gave it as their opinion that the English were tired of the war and would be glad to make peace or truce when once they had completed the new fort at Ambleteuse. (fn. n51) As a matter of fact, on the 17th the King gave a commission to Hertford, Lisle and Paget to treat with plenipotentiaries of the French King at Calais, Guisnes, or Ardres. (fn. n52) The matter was believed by Lisle and Paget to have been first moved by Montluc, a Frenchman who had been nearly three years Ambassador at Venice, and more lately had been sent to the Turk in company with the Imperial Ambassador. But possibly what Lisle and Paget meant was that Montluc was the first professional diplomatist who took up the matter; for according to the Imperial Ambassador in Paris it had been undertaken in the first instance by a Venetian merchant resident in London at the instigation of Lisle himself. (fn. n53) This merchant was undoubtedly Signor Francesco Bernardo, who took a great interest in the matter all along. He had gone over to the French Court in March, and negotiations were already proceeding when St. Mauris wrote from Paris on the 1 April. But Montluc was at Ardres when Lisle and Paget reached Paris; and Francesco Bernardo, who had been back to London and had again crossed the Channel two days in advance of them, told him to expect their coming. Montluc, on this, immediately sent word to d'Annebault, Admiral of France, who had been appointed by Francis to go to Etaples, and obtained a safe conduct for him to Ardres, which was granted by Lisle on condition that his going thither should not be made a pretext for the victualling of that place. (fn. n54) The French King's commission to d'Annebault is dated 21 April, but he had been entrusted with the negotiation some time before, and Lisle and Paget were actually waiting for him that day at Calais—two envoys, while the French had but one at Ardres, which seemed to Lisle undignified. So leaving Paget there, he thought best to proceed to the Camp, as if sent in the King's service, till he should hear of d'Annebault's arrival as a fact. (fn. n55) There was, in truth, some delay on the part of d'Annebault, which Montluc had no small trouble to excuse, both by messages and by a personal visit to Paget, in conversation with whom he endeavoured to lay some foundation for the coming negotiation; but Paget was not to be drawn into particulars. (fn. n56)
At last the French Admiral came near, but sent a message by Francesco Bernardo that, owing to their fears about a revictualling of Ardres, he thought it better not to come to that town unless they would trust his honor not to revictual it. He might lodge at Saumer au Boys and they at Boulogne, and they could meet on the frontier ground. But he would like an abstinence for seven or eight days, during which the cause of meeting should be determined. Lisle and Paget, as Saumer au Boys was claimed as the King's, and there was no frontier between, thought it best to agree to the French Admiral's coming to Ardres. As to the abstinence, excluding victualling or not, they would write to the King. (fn. n57) Paget was annoyed at the delay and wished exact instructions. (fn. n58)
The peace prospects, however, looked pretty fair at the beginning of May; and at Antwerp on the 2nd it was believed that peace had actually been concluded. (fn. n59) This was certainly premature, as they were only then arranging about the safe-conduct for the French Admiral and his suite. But on Thursday the 6th, in very foul weather, the Ambassadors on either side met in a tent. The French embassy consisted of the Admiral d'Annebaut, the President Raymond, and Secretary Bochetel; on the other side were the English Admiral Lisle, Dean Nicholas Wotton, and Secretary Paget. A proposal to adjourn the meeting on account of the weather, either to Ardres or to Guisnes, was not agreed to; and terms for pacification were discussed from 11 in the morning till 6 at night before anything like even a preliminary agreement was come to. The great question was about the keeping of Boulogne, of which the French desired restitution. They were commissioned to offer for it from 100,000 to 200,000 crowns. The English said their master had spent eight millions of gold in the war; but if the French would continue the old pensions and pay those eight millions for costs, they should have Boulogne with reasonable days for payment. "Eight millions!" exclaimed the French; "You speak merrily. All Christendom has not so much money." Long disputes took place, running into questions about treaties, comprehension of the Scots, to which the English objected, and whether the French would allow in that case the young Queen of Scots to be delivered with hostages for her marriage with Prince Edward. The English gradually lowered their demands to six millions, and then to three. The long interview still threatened to be fruitless; but it was agreed at last that those on each side should write to their respective sovereigns for further instructions. (fn. n60)
The prospect was really anything but favourable; and that very day the English Admiral had letters from home not calculated to improve matters. The Council wrote to him that 60 French ships were in the seas, and enjoined him to tell the French Admiral that unless he could stay these vessels he must repair to his charge and take command of the English fleet. (fn. n61) Next morning he received a message from the French Admiral in reply, saying that he knew only of six or seven galleys, which had left New-haven a fortnight ago, and eight small corsairs, like shallops or pinnaces, though there were divers vessels ready to put to sea; but none should do so without his knowledge, and he had despatched Montluc to the French King requesting him to send orders to the ports to forbid any ships other than merchantmen leaving for ten or twelve days. (fn. n62) Next day Lisle received letters from Lord William Howard, whom he had commissioned to scour the Channel; he had not seen any hostile fleet, though he had received the Council's letters. Burley, however, who brought the letters while lord William pursued his way to the Downs, fell in with a Flemish pink on his way to Calais, and obtained news of two galleys which had lately passed from Dieppe to New-haven in Normandy; and the French Admiral himself sent word of an occurrence off the coast, in which an English shallop chasing the French victuallers ran aground near Etaples and was boarded by two French vessels, and her crew slain to a man because they would not yield. (fn. n63)
On the 9th, moreover, at Ambleteuse fifteen galleys were seen approaching from the West, and three or four of them passed on towards Wissant; but eleven remained before the haven and fired shots not only into it but into the camp. Hertford, however, laid guns on the shore, which replied not altogether ineffectually, and after about an hour's fighting the galleys withdrew to sea. Those which passed towards Wissant took some small vessels from Boulogne and two Flemish "bylaunders" coming to victual the English camp; and also chased a pinnace at Wissant. (fn. n64) On being informed of this by Hertford, Lisle went to sea at once in the Earl's "little boat" to scatter "these gallants," as he called them, whom he chased to Dunkirk. But he hoped to land again in two days at Boulogne or Ambleteuse, so that his absence would not interrupt the negotiations. (fn. n65) On the 11th, indeed, he contrived to send a message to Paget to expect him that day. (fn. n66) But on the 12th, Paget still looked for him in vain; for he was yet in the Downs, as he wrote to him that morning, lamenting that the weather would not allow him to take that revenge upon the enemy which he so eagerly desired. (fn. n67) Apparently, there was no wind. Lisle could not reach his enemies, but his communications with the shore were free. And Paget wrote to him the same day in reply, suggesting that in that case he had better return and fulfil his mission as a negotiator. In fact, he ventured to point out to him that this departure from his charge was not honorable, either to the King or to him. Moreover, the French Admiral had sent a message regretting that their galleys had gone abroad, as neither he nor his master desired to give any occasion to interrupt the negotiations, and he had borrowed a fisher-boat in which to send a gentleman of his with a message to bid the galleys go home again.
Lisle received this remonstrance next day while still at sea, and forwarded the letter to Petre, remarking that Paget did him wrong He had left with Paget's own consent, and by the King's command. Although the French Admiral had withdrawn the galleys and was willing to surrender the prizes, one who did a neighbour a shrewd turn when he was away from home might expect to be requited, and the fire raised upon the King's realm (for it seems they had burnt the coast somewhere) would have been revenged if the weather had suffered it. But as he was called back to negotiate once more he wrote that he was on the point of taking boat for Calais haven, which he seems to have entered at 2 o'clock in the following morning. (fn. n68)
His absence, in truth, looked awkward from the first; for even on the 10th Francesco Bernardo had been seeking him at Ardres with an order from the French Admiral to the galleys to retire, on the English Admiral likewise withdrawing his men-of-war. (fn. n69) And when it seemed that Lisle's place in the negotiations would have to be taken by Hertford in his absence, the French Admiral objected, saying that he had begun with Lisle, and would either end with him or let all alone. (fn. n70) On this being intimated to him, Lisle felt compelled to return at once. (fn. n71)
Meanwhile, as the negotiators had referred to their respective Sovereigns for further instructions, Henry made a clear and definite answer. As the French had only offered 200,000 crowns for the redemption of Boulogne and Boulonnois, they were to be told that he would give a great deal more to have undisturbed possession of them. He would remit all charges of the war and all claim to compensation for fortifications if the French would leave him and his successors all the country between the sea and a line drawn from the coast at the top of the hill beyond Hardelôt by the hill-tops beyond Licques "to that part of the county of Guisnes adjoining the hills now in his possession." If they could not be induced to accept this, a further offer might be made to remit the perpetual pension, and thus extinguish all occasion of new quarrels. If this was finally refused, the French must be told that the King, having offered to remit so much, expected them, if they meant good faith, to make at least as great an offer for the redemption of Boulogne, since they were so intent upon its recovery; and that, besides renewing payment of the old pensions (the perpetual and the viagère) with the salt, arrears and debts, at reasonable days, they must leave him for the present in quiet possession of Boulogne and part of Boulonnais till they paid him or his heirs two millions of gold. The sum was really not very large, as they were bound to pay the King as much before the war broke out, and now they would have in return a town which had cost him twice two millions, and which was made impregnable. (fn. n72)
Lisle's view of his duties as Admiral of course had not tended to promote the work of pacification. The day before he landed at Calais, Captain Paulin, otherwise known as the baron de la Garde, the commander of the galleys, landed at Etaples and went on to the French Court to obtain sanction, as lord Grey at Boulogne understood, for an order to the galleys and ships in Normandy and Britanny to sail out for an attack on England before the English fleet was ready. Grey had also learned that large bodies of men had arrived between Montreuil and Abbeville and about Pernes, ready to advance against Boulogne if peace were not concluded. (fn. n73)
A rupture of the negotiations seemed only too likely. In England and the Low Countries alike there was less hope of a successful issue. (fn. n74) But on the 14 May, the day that he landed, Lisle wrote home from Guisnes where he and Paget were, saying that they were to meet the French ambassadors on the morrow at noon, and Dean Wotton, though very ill, notwithstanding that the weather was cold and wet, was determined to go too. (fn. n75) Paget also was ill, and seemed even to be growing worse from anxiety about the issue. But in point of fact the French were coming over to the King's demands, and by and by drew up their own conditions, consenting, among other things, to the payment of two millions of gold after eight years. (fn. n76) This amount, also, was to be increased by half a million more, if some older claims under a treaty of 1529 were found valid by deputies on either side, or by four doctors of Padua or some other neutral university. Such were the concessions they were prepared to make on the 15th May, after several times threatening to break off; and Paget was anxious to get full instructions thereupon, to be enabled to conclude if the King approved of the articles. If not, he would like to know his Majesty's pleasure for their return. In his own opinion the articles evidently were an excellent basis of negotiation and would enable the King to keep Boulogne in perpetuity. Writing to Petre, he said he was reminded of an anecdote told him by President Scorye of one condemned to die by Louis XI. That King had a favorite ass, and the man to save his life undertook within a twelve-month to make the animal speak. "What?" said a friend. "It is impossible." "Hold thy peace," he answered; "for either the King will die, or the ass will die, or the ass will speak, or I shall die." So before the time of payment came, the English might make some new bargain to keep Boulogne, or the French might forfeit it by non-payment, or the French King might die and his son not care so much about it, or some other thing might chance which would afford a pretext not to give it up again. (fn. n77)
No doubt the King was of Paget's mind, but he took time to consider matters. On the 17th the Privy Council wrote to the Commissioners that he approved their proceedings at that second meeting and would speedily send his determination in the matter, so framed that, unless the fault was on the other side, the negotiations must come to a successful issue. But to avoid future disputes and complications they must get the river Devre, which the French spoke of as a limit, carefully surveyed with all the other boundaries, and Paget with one of the French Commissioners might ride and view it, secretly attended by Sir Richard Lee and the surveyor, Rogers, whom he was sending over for the purpose. Rogers would draw up a "plat" (or map) of the limits, with which Sir Richard Lee should be despatched again to the King. The King' also was pleased with a message through the French Admiral from his godson the Dauphin, hoping for the re-establishment of amity, and apparently, that in case it took effect, the King would stand sponsor to his new-born daughter. (fn. n78)
The promise that the King would speedily send his determination touching the conditions proposed by the French was not an agreeable answer to the impatience of the French Admiral, whom Lisle noted as beginning to be weary of his stay in those parts on the very day the Privy Council's letter was penned. (fn. n79) He was extremely civil to the English Commissioners, and daily, almost hourly, inquired of them whether they had yet received the much desired answer. (fn. n80) On the 18th he said he hoped it would come that night, otherwise something unpleasant might happen. Lisle put him off, reminding him that since their last meeting there had been one or two stormy days and ships could not sail against the wind. Next day, when the passage was fair, the French Admiral sent to Lisle three times, charging him and his colleagues with breaking their promise and putting off time. It was now the fourth day since their proposals had been sent over, and he himself knew his own master's mind and was quite ready to declare it when they knew their king's pleasure; but if that did not come next day he must depart to Montreuil. Thither he must go as, in consequence of the assurance he had given them, no victuals came to Ardres. Lisle and Paget were really alarmed. There was mutiny in the English camp on account of the mercenaries, and the French had all their power at Montreuil. The Council at home need not imagine that they could induce the French Admiral to remain during the making of a "plat," and await the coming of an answer after it had been sent to England. The limits were pretty certain if the King was satisfied about other matters. They most earnestly hoped for an answer by Friday night, the 21st May. (fn. n81)
Still the answer did not come. Lee and Rogers did. They arrived on the night of the 20th; and the English Commissioners, as instructed, sent to the French Admiral, asking him to appoint one of their Commissioners to join with Paget in viewing the limits and the course of the river Devre. In reply Montluc was sent back to them to inquire if they had now received the King's pleasure in reply to their proposals. The French would willingly view the limits when other points were agreed upon. The English Commissioners were obliged to confess that they had not even yet received the King's answer; the calm weather, and, perhaps, the French galleys might have delayed it. On this Montluc broke out into a passion, declaring that the Admiral "had rather than 20,000 crowns he had never meddled in this matter." They were only trifling with him; the air where he lay was unwholesome, and, unless he had answer that night or next day he would leave. If he were to join with the English in viewing the limits, it would be reported through France that peace was already made; and if it turned out otherwise it would be the Admiral's ruin, as a similar thing was the Constable Montmorency's. (fn. n82)
It was only on the 20th that the King despatched his reply; and, after all, it was not a sufficient one. He thanked the Commissioners for the pains they had taken, and seemed anxious chiefly about the limits; but he sent certain "capitulations" as a groundwork for their diplomacy, giving them power to make verbal alterations if desired. (fn. n83) The despatch reached Guisnes late at night on the evening of the following day. It was opened by Paget, who as his colleagues, Lisle and Wotton, were both in bed fast asleep, at once, at midnight, wrote to Petre desiring that an answer might be sent on some particular points when the Council replied to the despatch with which Sir Richard Lee had been ordered to go back again that day. They were only matters about the date of the first payment and whether the year and a half's arrears of the pension viagère was to be added to the debt; but the French were sure to make difficulties about them, and the Commissioners should know at once whether to yield or to stand firm, or propose alternative conditions. They would expect an answer by Sunday night the 23rd or Monday morning the 24th. (fn. n84)
Time was precious. Paget must have sent off this letter to Petre by special messenger in the night. The previous despatches were answered by the King on the 22nd, and it seems that Lee had brought with him a "plat," which perhaps assisted to convince the King that he had attached rather too much importance to the question of the limits. He set forth clearly in this letter the terms for which, on that subject, he wished them, if possible, to hold out, but allowed them a considerable discretion in negotiation. (fn. n85) He wrote again on the following day, evidently after Paget's midnight letter had come to hand, giving them a similar discretion on the points therein specified. If the main substance of the "capitulations" were obtained, they might adjust other matters as seemed reasonable. (fn. n86) Paget received the royal letter of the 22nd on the following day just when on the point of mounting his horse to go to meet the French Commissioners, and he wrote at once to Petre how he proposed to obey his instructions. (fn. n87)
The English Commissioners could say now that they had at last received the King's answer. They acted upon their instructions, and had a very long conference with the Frenchmen, who, as they wrote next day, met the King's frankness with singular obstinacy. They would not agree to the King's articles, either as to the limits, the Scots, or the gross sum. The two sides "parted desperately," except that the President begged the English to consider the matter and let him and his colleagues know in the morning whether they would allow the river and haven of Boulogne to be common during, or within, the eight years' term, and whether they would consent that the first payment should be at Michaelmas. Next morning the English sent them word that they would only deal article by article, as they had said on the previous day. To this the French agreed; and after messages to and fro sent by Francesco and by Montluc, some mutual concessions were made, and a general understanding was at last arrived at. (fn. n88)
The Commissioners then agreed in recommending a suspension of hostilities for five or six days till matters were further adjusted. Even at Ambleteuse, however, Hertford, not knowing what progress was made in pacification, would only grant three days till he should hear from the King, who had refused to agree to the last truce unless it contained a provision against revictualling the French fort. (fn. n89) In writing to the King about this he sent by the bearer a private unwritten message, in reply to which he was told by the Privy Council that as the French King's lieutenant was in the field and had nothing to do with the diplomacy, he also should remain upon his charge and send word to the enemy to that effect. As to the abstinence of war, he might grant as many days as the ambassadors agreed to. (fn. n90) The King himself wrote at the same time to Hertford to thank not only him but Lord Grey and other captains for a brilliant exploit done on the 24 May, the very day that the negotiators came to terms. Lord Grey had learned from a spy as early as the 21st that the French had already come to the hill at St. Etienne above Boulogne and intended to encamp there. On being informed of this Hertford determined to hasten on the completion of the fort at the New Haven (i.e. Ambleteuse) which he hoped to make tenable in five days. On the 23rd he placed on the hill "where the Master of the Horse encamped" beside Boulogne 3,000 German foot and 600 English foot of Boulogne with "the Clevois horsemen" under the command of Lord Grey; who next morning detached 40 light horsemen to view the French camp. They were chased home by about 100 men-at-arms of the Duke of Vendôme's whom they trained into a narrow passage at a place called Gable End, where Lord Grey with Knyvet, Sir John Bridges, Sir Thomas Palmer and others set upon them and took prisoners Vendôme's lieutenant, Monsieur de Tras, Monsieur de la Motte and forty or fifty others. (fn. n91)
In writing to Hertford the King expressed his warm appreciation of this distinguished service, but at the same time enjoined him to take heed not to hinder by any further exploit the peace negotiations, which seemed now on the point of being concluded. He evidently felt for the time pretty sure of the result, and he wrote the same day to the Commissioners modifying previous instructions. For hitherto he had directed them to insist that no new fortifications should be begun after proclamation of the peace. Now he saw no reason for binding himself in that way, as his only security for his conquests was the safe keeping of them; whereas the French had no right to fortify, as their covenant was to leave the country quietly to him till the time agreed upon, when the fortifications in the Boulonnois would become their own. And he instructed Hertford that if he had as yet forborne to begin new fortifications on the "little hill where the Almains were encamped beside the New Haven, and at the Blackness," in accordance with former instructions, he should take steps now to begin them, if possible, without the knowledge of the French Commissioners, before the full agreement of the peace. Hertford had already anticipated the King's direction in this matter as regards "the little hill," and had only forborne at the Blackness till he heard the King's pleasure. So he began a fortification there too, in such a fashion as not to hinder the conclusion of the peace. (fn. n92)
Even yet, however, the issue of the negotiations was by no means secure; and on both sides the probability of a rupture seems fully to have been recognised. Writing to the King of what he had done in these matters on the 30 May, Hertford added a postscript to say that the power of the enemy was daily increasing. Though the main conditions had been settled by the negotiators much tedious business remained. Surveys were required, and there were disputes about the head of the river Liane, on which the delimitation of French and English territory depended. The peasantry said that it had four or five heads. Then the French desired an article inserted in the treaty to allow former owners of lands in the Boulonnois to return and be the King's subjects during the occupation. This the English Commissioners had no thought of conceding without a special command from the King; but they returned a civil answer, supposing that the King might require cultivators with some agreement about rents. In two days, however, the abstinence was to end, and the situation was an anxious one. Paget was quite put out by the survey which he attempted personally along with Bochetel, and was led a weary way through marshes and woods till he quarrelled with Bochetel and the chief guide and returned home in anger. Writing to his colleague in England he gave full vent to his ill humor: "Mr. Peter, instead of the grace and peace which I sent to you last, help to send unto us now on this side fire and sword, for other thing cannot bring these false dogs to reason" If they were going to break now, he would persuade Hertford, in spite of their safe-conduct, to take the French Admiral if he could:—it was quite fair to cheat a cheat. (fn. n93)
How unsatisfactory things seemed the reader will perceive from the correspondence. On the 29 May the English Commissioners were obliged to write home about various new articles proposed by the French, especially for the restitution of the inhabitants of Boulogne and reservation of their allegiance to the French King. (fn. n94) On the 1 June, Bishop Gardiner and Sir Anthony Browne were dispatched in haste over the Channel to consult with Hertford and Lisle as to what was to be done in case negotiations were broken off. (fn. n95) On the 2nd the King penned his answer to the Commissioners. The articles of the Frenchmen, he said, seemed intended only to win time and obtain by fraud what they could never get by force. Nevertheless he had devised other articles, yielding some points but omitting and altering some of their other proposals. Before showing these counter proposals, however, they were to remonstrate strongly with the French Commissioners on the wilfulness they had shown throughout the treaty, and point out how much the King had conceded for the peace of Christendom. They were particularly to insist on the unreasonableness of the request for the restitution of the owners in the Boulonnois and the device for the use of the haven; and they were to say that, having been so long engaged in this negotiation, they would gladly see a better conclusion. They therefore were to ask the French even yet to devise new proposals and say that they would do the same. If this was agreed to, they might then show the King's articles as their own, and, if the French agreed to them, conclude. If they refused, showing that they did not mean to conclude, it would be expedient for the Commissioners still to continue negotiations and win time for war preparations; which they might do by asking the Frenchmen to send the capitulations to their master, saying that they had sent theirs to Henry, and that they hoped, now that the points of difference had been so much reduced, for a favourable issue from Francis. (fn. n96)
To the Imperial ambassador in London it was clear that the prospects of peace had been considerably clouded; and when he learned, the day after they were gone, of the despatch of Gardiner and Browne across the Channel, he was not clear what it all meant. (fn. n97) Yet across the Channel, not far from the scene of negotiation, a rumour got abroad and was believed in even by Hertford that peace had actually been concluded. He was told that Du Bies had a message to that effect from the French Admiral, but the report was undoubtedly premature. The French Admiral, (fn. n98) perhaps, may have said somewhat more than he should have said, for he had been very impatient all along; and as soon as Francesco Bernardo, who had been continually crossing to and fro on this business, arrived once more on the morning of the 3rd, he sent Bochetel and Montluc to the English envoys to know exactly their answer, as he could afford to wait no longer. He found himself still put off, being told that Francesco had indeed come but was resting after his travels and the despatches he brought were in cipher; so that they could only give their answer at the usual place next day. The Admiral sent again by his secretary in the evening, threatening, if not satisfied, to depart next morning when the safe-conduct they had given him expired. The safe-conduct, they told the Secretary, could be easily renewed; but he said it would be useless for his master to remain unless an agreement were come to at once. The Commissioners followed their instructions to win time as far as they dared without danger of a breach, and said they were devising reasonable terms to be sent them next day; which they trusted their French colleagues would embrace. (fn. n99)
They tried to put off even longer, but at last felt obliged, on the 4th June, to send the King's articles as their own, informing the French that if they refused those terms, they would never get more favourable ones. In the afternoon there came to them President Raimon. Secretary Bochetel and Monluc; and after a stormy discussion the King's terms were accepted, with some qualifications to be referred back to him or sanctioned by Hertford, the English promising a perfect answer by Sunday night the 6th or Monday morning the 7th June. (fn. n100) The King's answer was only dated on the 6th, but it was satisfactory and seems to have arrived in time. On the 7th the treaty of Camp was signed, with a provision that it should be ratified by both Sovereigns within forty days. (fn. n101)
The peace was undoubtedly a great relief to both countries. It was proclaimed simultaneously in London and in Paris on Whitsunday, the 13th June, just six days after it was concluded; (fn. n102) and there was an end to a state of war and anxiety on both sides. Even pending negotiations things had been done that taxed not a little the powers of diplomatic apology, and actual hostilities had been going on both by sea and land. For first, on the early morning of the 20th May, just at the time the French Admiral in his impatience was threatening to withdraw to Montreuil, a French foist took at the mouth of Boulogne harbour three hoys laden with victuals and carried them towards two of their galleys lying off Porthill Point. In the afternoon Lord William Howard landed for an hour at Ambleteuse, and after embarking once more discovered ten galleys and made towards them. The galleys, too, approached to within shot range; then seemed as if they would make for England. But on perceiving five or six large vessels about six miles East of them, they retired; and the English ships, after an ineffectual cannonade, were becalmed and unable to pursue them. Next morning with the flood tide the English ships returned to the Narrow Seas; and at 8 o'clock the galleys, now increased to 18, appeared again at Porthill Point and took in soldiers from the fortress. Three or four of the King's ships came upon them with six or seven shallops. But after exchanging shots with the enemy, the ships and small sails retired towards the Narrow Seas. The galleys pursued and, favoured by the calm, overtook them; on which the ships turned to the attack, captured one galley and pursued the others, two of which struck, but afterwards escaped. Night soon after closed in. (fn. n103)
In like manner, on the 22nd at the camp at Ambleteuse, Hertford found that the French had encamped in considerable numbers—1,000 or 1,200 horse and 12,000 foot—at St. Etienne. The men of Boulogne sallied out and skirmished with them all day. By confession of some prisoners the French had brought eight pieces of ordnance and received five more out of the fortress in the afternoon. They had a great number of mattocks, shovels and spades, as if intent on fortifying some place—probably Marguison, while their galleys still lay at Porthill Point, to victual their camp and fort, which they could not do by land. Hertford wrote to Lisle desiring that Lord William Howard might be sent with a squadron to stop their victualling. (fn. n104)
On receipt of this message next morning Lisle sent Signor Francisco Bernardo to remonstrate with the French Admiral, from whom a gentleman had just come to arrange the hour for their meeting as negotiators that afternoon. The Admiral sent an explanation. There had been no intention to provoke hostilities; but Du Bies had heard somehow that Hertford intended to take St. Etienne first. The fact was, however, as he confessed, that the fort could not be revictualled without a force. If the English had agreed at first to an armistice without prohibition of victualling, they would have accepted it, but afterwards they had refused it lest it should be discovered that some of their garrisons were in serious necessity. (fn. n105)
That same day Lisle received despatches from Lord William of the taking of the French galley and of the sinking of another—news which would scarcely tend to improve the French Admiral's temper. He said that his honour was deeply touched; for if he had not sent orders to the fleet not to meddle with the King's ships they would have been better prepared, and the French King would lay the blame on him. Before meeting with the English Commissioners he sent one of the captains of the galleys to explain that when, lying at anchor themselves, they saw Lord William's vessels coming towards them, they thought it was "to be merry together." So they remained till they had much ado to get the wind of the English ships, and they stood the shot of 200 or 300 pieces without replying. Next day the English vessels attacked them when at anchor, and at last they gave chase. But their foremost galley, being in danger of being surrounded, endeavoured to shift her sails and turn, but was captured. The French Admiral said he trusted that this galley would be restored, for nothing had been done on their part against the order he had given. (fn. n106)
The French Admiral knew nothing about one of his galleys having been sunk. That which was captured was taken with some difficulty, being grappled by the Phœnix, which was almost vanquished in the struggle, until Mr. Clement Paston came up in the Anne Gallant, boarded the galley and took the surrender of the captain and lieutenant. He took a valuable prisoner in the Baron de St. Blancard. (fn. n107)
I pass over matters of subordinate interest which followed the treaty and its ratification, (fn. n108) though many of the subjects might well invite comment—such as the embassies on both sides, (fn. n109) the christening of the Dauphin's child in France, (fn. n110) the duel between two Spaniards at Fontainebleau, (fn. n111) and the commission for the survey and delimitation of the Boulonnois. (fn. n112) The diplomatic history contained in this Part culminates in the French treaty, and there are many other subjects of the highest significance to which it will be impossible indeed to do justice in a preface like this, but some of which it is desirable to indicate.
At the beginning of the year it was still a secret what had been done in the Parliament which was prorogued on Christmas Eve; but the Imperial Ambassador had learned by the 9 Jan. about the proposed confiscation of colleges and chantries. (fn. n113) On the 16th a commission was issued to inquire into the foundation statutes and ordinances of the colleges, hospitals, chantries and free chapels in the university of Cambridge; (fn. n114) and abstracts of the returns both to this and to a like commission for Oxford will be found in the present Part; (fn. n115) together with other letters and papers bearing upon the subject. (fn. n116) The colleges at Cambridge, it seems, owed something to the intercession of Queen Katharine Parr, who assured them, however, that she had found the King such a patron of good learning that, notwithstanding the gift of Parliament, he had no intention to injure their "ancient and godly institutions." (fn. n117)
Of domestic events, however, we hear little during the earlier months of this year. In Ireland disputes had arisen between the Deputy St. Leger and the Earl of Ormond which led to a serious situation in the government of that country; and by advice of the Council of Ireland the parties and some of their accessaries were called over to England to explain themselves before the King's Council. The matter is well known to the Irish historian, and that the final determination was in favour of St. Leger and against his accusers, Chancellor Alen and Cowley. So that I need say nothing more of it, but simply refer the reader to the documents in which the whole story may be traced. (fn. n118)
Before this the great expedition of Lennox and Ormond from Ireland to invade the West of Scotland with the assistance of the Lord of the Isles had turned out a failure. That Lord of the Isles (Donald McConnell) was already dead in January, if not earlier; and though his successor, James McConnell, offered the same service, we do not find what response was made to the offer. (fn. n119)
In purely domestic matters the reader will doubtless be amused to learn a little piece of gossip which was circulated in February. Henry VIII. had been so much addicted to changing his Queens that it was believed in Court circles that even Katharine Parr would have to make way for a seventh consort. Whether this was owing to her barrenness, or to what other cause, the gossips could not tell; the King's treatment of her did not suggest estrangement. Apparently, some undiscoverable policy was at the bottom of it; for it was said there would be no change while the war lasted. The rumour got abroad as far as Antwerp; but who the new Queen was to be, no one could be sure. The Duchess of Suffolk was talked of, and was certainly in great favour; but that suggestion, at least, seems to have been unfounded. (fn. n120)
It was true, at all events, that while the war lasted, the King had no intention of making another such change; for matrimony and politics with him generally went together. And the nearer he came to a settlement with France the more cautious he felt it desirable to be in certain matters. The Council of Trent had begun: and the German Protestants, who had derived their chief support against the Emperor alike from France and from England, were grieved at the failure of their late efforts as mediators. Their old friendship to France had been tried by the severe persecutions of heretics in that country. Yet Frenchmen secured the aid of German bands against England; and Paget urged Mont to remonstrate with the Protestants at their diet at Frankfort on their favouring England's enemy, who might at any time turn their own enemy with sword drawn to put down heretics. (fn. n121) Their position indeed, was critical enough; for Charles V. was making a secret agreement with the Pope to crush them with the aid of Italian auxiliaries. He kept the capitulation unsigned till the middle of March that he might assure the Protestants at a diet at Ratisbon that nothing had been done to their prejudice. (fn. n122) His real intentions, however, were divined from the time he left Utrecht (fn. n123); and in February ambassadors waited on him at Maestricht from the Duke of Saxony, the Count Palatine, the Marquis of Brandenburg, and the Cities of Brunswick, Goslar, and Frankfort, to ascertain what his policy would be. (fn. n124) They had some reason for confidence in themselves; for Protestantism seemed greatly on the increase. The King of Poland, the Duke of Prussia and the Count Palatine (Elector) had all accepted the new doctrines. (fn. n125) Luther's death in February (fn. n126) seemed really a thing of small moment. Time for action was coming on fast. The Evangelical princes gave their support to the Archbishop of Cologne, whom the Emperor threatened to deprive and put under the ban of the Empire. (fn. n127) The diet at Ratisbon summoned by the Emperor was to meet on the 15 March, (fn. n128) and the Council of Trent awaited the result of its meeting before taking very material business in hand. (fn. n129) The question plainly was whether the Protestants would submit to the Council. But the Protestants broke away even from the preliminary Colloquy. An interesting letter, hitherto I believe unknown, in justification of their doing so wall be found in No. 501, printed in full as far as may be from a faded and somewhat mutilated MS.
On other German matters I need say but little, except to direct attention to the visit paid to England in March by Duke Philip of Bavaria, Count Palatine, and the unsuccessful mission of Mason along with him on his return to Germany. On a perusal of the whole correspondence the reader will perceive that the King took advantage of the Duke's offer to raise men for him to lure him again to England for a personal conference, at which some renewed hope was given him of the match with the Princess Mary, though the main point was to disengage his uncle Frederic, the Elector Palatine, from the French interest by getting him to approve of that marriage and come into a league with England. But the Elector Palatine, an old and prudent man though new to his dignity as Elector, was too wary to commit himself. (fn. n130)
Henry VIII., no doubt, was disappointed. The Protestants might still be useful to him by the very fact that they were coming into conflict with the Emperor; and very likely the opinion of the commercial world was that of the King's agent, Vaughau, at Antwerp, who again and again, as the prospect of war became nearer, expressed his belief that the Emperor would gat the worst of it and would do well to treat; (fn. n131) though a little later he was of opinion that if the Italian and Spanish troops came to his aid the Germans could not resist him. (fn. n132)
But the King felt undoubtedly that if the Protestants in Germany were crushed, the fact that ho had concluded peace both with the Emperor and France would afford him rather inadequate security against the results of that sentence of excommunication which had hung so long over him ineffective. He accordingly resorted again to his usual policy in times of danger of being particularly orthodox. On Passion Sunday, the 11th April, the popular preacher, Dr. Crome, had delivered a sermon at the Mercers' Chapel, in which he said that the Bishop of Rome was wrong in treating the mass as a sacrifice for sins as he had often done the blood of martyrs. He himself admitted it to be a sacrifice, but only one of thanks "to our only Shepherd for his once offered offering." He received an admonition that these sentiments required some correction, and he was appointed to preach and explain himself at Paul's Cross on Sunday, the 9 May. He did so in a sermon in which he again showed unnecessary vehemence against "the Bishop of Rome," believing that he might rely on the acts of the King and Parliament. He thought his position a very strong one; for after the customary prayer he began "Worshipful audience, I came not hither to recant, nor yet am I commanded to recant, nor, God willing, I will not recant." But next day he was called before the Council to answer to the bishops of London and Worcester and some of the King's chaplains who had been deputed to hear him, and he was "committed to a chamber to answer to certain interrogatories." (fn. n133)
This was the beginning of a new course of heresy hunting. The Privy Council called before them all such persons as they had reason to believe "specially comforted Crome in his folly." Latimer was dragged from the seven years' retirement in which he had lived since he had ceased to be a bishop, and with him John Taylor, otherwise called Cardmaker, the vicar of St. Bride's; after whom were also called Dr. Huick, one Lassels and a Scottish friar. The examinations of all these and what came of them (fn. n134) we leave to the reader and to the Church historian, as also we do a session for the Six Articles at this time in Essex. (fn. n135) But a more notable case presently engaged attention.
On the 24th May two yeomen of the Chamber were sent to apprehend Sir Robert Wisdom, priest, who had been three years before a prisoner in the Lollards' tower; (fn. n136) and they had letters at the same time to require the appearance before the Council of one Kyme and his wife within fourteen days. (fn. n137) Kyme's wife, the student will not require to be informed, was Anne Askew, who preferred to go by her maiden name as she and her husband could not agree together. She had been examined last year, as the reader has seen, in the City and before Bishop Bonner, who apparently extracted a confession from her to get her out of a difficulty. (fn. n138) This was in March; but three months later, on the 13 June, it seems she and others were arraigned at the Guildhall under the Act of the Six Articles "for speaking against the Sacrament," when she and another woman were discharged because no witnesses appeared against them. (fn. n139) Now, however, a twelvemonth later, on the 19 June, she and her husband both appeared before the Council. She expressly refused to acknowledge him as her husband, "without any honest allegation," as the Council said, who dismissed him to his country, but sent her to Newgate, finding her "very obstinate and heady in reasoning of matters of religion." (fn. n140) Of her examination before the Council and all her subsequent ill-treatment before her martyrdom she herself has left a minute account, and an abstract of it will be found in No. 1181. The dreadful fact that she was racked after her trial and condemnation is confirmed by other testimony (fn. n141) besides her own. But her own account of it is altogether amazing.
I forbear to relate the well-known story in detail, with the recantation of her fellow prisoner, Dr. Shaxton, late bishop of Salisbury, the answer she made to him, and so forth. The end came on the 16th July, when she was one of four heretics burned together in Smithfield. Bat one word may be permitted here about that dreadful incident—the racking in the Tower. It took place after her condemnation, the object being to elicit from her information about persons at the Court who it was suspected had been her allies in promoting heresy. (fn. n142) Besides others whose names are given, against whom she positively refused to utter a word, she was probably expected to accuse Queen Katharine Parr herself; for Parsons (fn. n143) is, no doubt, perfectly correct in saying that the well-known incident related by Foxe about this Queen, when she stood in real danger from a charge of heresy, was connected with the affair of Anne Askew. But Parsons is certainly wrong in saying that the King would have burned Katharine Parr also if he had lived. For though her heretical propensities were no secret, she survived the King, and he himself for full six months survived Anne Askew. More probably, the Queen was saved by Anne's refusal to commit any one except herself.
Before leaving the subject of heresy, it may be well to note the proclamation against heretical books issued on the 8th July. (No. 1233.)
One other great event we must speak of before we close. On the 29 May (fn. n144) took place the murder of Cardinal Beton at St. Andrews—an act which, we may almost say, had been prearranged for years. The burning of Wishart nearly three months before may or may not have stimulated the conspirators to fulfil their long cherished design. But we have seen already that it had been long in contemplation, and that the agents knew that they might do it with the connivance of Henry VIII., and not go unrewarded. (fn. n145) The news reached the Continent just after the conclusion of peace between England and France, and that the deed had been done by agents of Henry VIII. was obvious in diplomatic circles. But what Bishop Thirlby at Ratisbon said about it was perhaps the most extraordinary thing. In the postscript of a letter to Paget he writes: "I had almost forgotten to tell my gladness of your tidings of the Cardinal of Scotland. It is half a wonder here that ye dare be so bold to kill a cardinal!" (fn. n146)
Morality apart, the act was well timed in Henry's interests. France was on the point of making peace with England from sheer exhaustion, and Cardinal Beton was the only man in Scotland who had done much to counteract designs on his country's independence. Moreover the murderers of the Cardinal had possession of St. Andrews castle, and kept within it as a prisoner the son of the Earl of Arran, the Governor. They had free communication with England by sea, and it would tax the power of Arran and the Estates of Scotland to dislodge them. (fn. n147) So neither Scotland nor France was likely to be troublesome to Henry for some time, and the Emperor was his sure friend. Dumbarton Castle, moreover, on the Clyde, was at this time in the hands of Lennox; so that England had a lodging both on the East and on the West coast of Scotland, and the holders of Dumbarton Castle might well seem impossible to dislodge. But strange things did happen occasionally in Scotland. In the summer the castle of Dumbarton was surrendered; but Beton's murderers held St Andrews in the interest of England for many months without even listening to any proposal to treat.
I cannot enter into the subordinate topics, numerous though they be, with which many of the letters in this Part are full.