Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 4, 1524-1530. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1875.
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Close of campaign 1523.
Notwithstanding the laborious preparations of the Confederates, the year 1523 passed away without any decisive advantage to either side. Of all the qualifications required in the leader of a great campaign Suffolk possessed one only,—the indomitable courage of big bones and Herculean muscles. Small engagements in detail, the irritation of an enemy by sacking and plundering feeble forts and defenceless villages, apparently constituted his ideal of the duties and responsibilities of a great commander. As a knight at jousts he fought valiantly—no man more so. But war was often little better than the darker shadow of mimic fights described in the pages of the Chronicler: "When they were all armed the trumpets blew; then toward the braie marched [these valiant] gentlemen, with pikes and swords, and cried Haar, haar. Then there was foining, lashing, and striking. They within fought mightily; and when any without clymed up the bank they within bet them doune, and they within were sometyme beten doune almoste; but surely they fought valiantly." The result was as substantial and as permanent in one instance as in the other. War was, in fact, at that time little more than an aristocratic amusement. The earnest degenerated into jest; the jest as readily passed into earnest. But surely they fought valiantly.
So long as fair weather and a plentiful supply of bread and beer permitted this sort of entertainment, war was fed by war, and grew by what it fed upon. Honor dictated reprisals to both parties, and blow was duly repaid for blow. But as the year drew to its close, came wind and rain, and with them "fervent frost, so sore that many a soldier died for cold;" for clothing and commissariat in those days were little heeded. Some lost their fingers, some their toes, many lost the nails of their hands, which, in the quaint language of the same Chronicler, "was to them a great grief." The Duke, all this notwithstanding, remembering that he came not thither to lie still, pressed on; and still it froze. In the morning the Welshmen set up a shout, and cried "Home, home." They were answered by the English with contumelious and defiant cries of "Hang, hang." The tumult in the camp was for the time appeased; but the Duke was compelled at last to disband his army, without waiting for orders, although he had sent lord Sandes into England to inform the King "that his people which were in the French ground abode much misery; for the weather was wet, the ways deep, long nights and short days, great journeys and little victual, which caused the soldiers daily to die ... 'Well,' said the King, 'all this we knew before your coming; wherefore we have appointed the Lord Mountjoy with 6,000 men to pass the seas and reinforce them; for we will in no wise that the army shall breake.'" Never had English arms been disgraced with a grosser breach of discipline. The forces under Montjoy were recalled at the news of the Duke's mismanagement. So when "the Duke and other captains heard of the King's displeasure they were sore abashed, and did write to their friends that they had perfect knowledge that the duke of Bourbon had broken up his camp for the extremity of the winter, and also showed that their soldiers died, and victual failed, which caused them to break the army; for, of truth, the soldiers would not abide. With which reasons the King was somewhat appeased; and so on good hope the Duke came to Calais the 12th day of December (1523), and there abode long, till their friends had sued to the King for their return. And when it was granted, and that they were returned, the Duke and the captains came not to the King's presence in a long season, to their great heaviness and displeasure. But at the last all things were taken in good part, and they well received, and in great love, favor, and familiarity with the King." (fn. 1) Whether the Duke owed this forgiveness to the Cardinal's good services, as on a previous occasion, is not certainly known; but, considering Wolsey's influence at the time, it is highly probable. (fn. 2)
Thus ended the last campaign undertaken by this country during Wolsey's administration. Inflamed by the idea of subduing France and carrying their triumphant arms to the gates of Paris, England had spared no cost. The ill success of the attempt was not exclusively due to the inability of Suffolk. It had been ably arranged by Wolsey that each of the three Confederates, starting from their nearest frontier, should attack France simultaneously, advance on Paris by several roads, and place the crown of France on Henry's head. But such a design did not suit the interests of Charles or of Bourbon. Neither of them desired to see an English coronation at Rheims or Paris. To humble Francis without reducing him to despair suited their purpose much better than transferring his crown to his English rival. That result could be accomplished with little cost to themselves by allowing the brunt of the war to fall upon Suffolk, whilst they looked on or took care of their own personal interests. So whilst Bourbon remained inactive, Charles contented himself with securing his Spanish frontier, and wresting from the French their late conquest of Fontarabia.
Wolsey's dissatisfaction with the Emperor.
The selfish design of the Emperor to promote his own interests only at the expence of England, and wrest an advantageous peace out of the necessities of France at the most favorable opportunity, did not escape the penetrating glance of Wolsey. He had long ceased to regard the Emperor and his chief adviser and chancellor, Gattinara, with the complacency he had formerly entertained, if not for both, yet certainly for Charles, two years before. The Emperor was not to be trusted. He recognised no other obligation than his own advantage; and whatever way his advantage pointed, his honor followed the same direction. The Cardinal's suspicions were aroused the more by the conspicuous failure of Charles in fulfilling his engagements for supporting Suffolk. The whole campaign had failed through the Emperor's selfishness. England had been put to great trouble and expence for no purpose. Wolsey was at no pains to conceal his indignation. He ordered Knight, the English ambassador, to tell the lady Margaret that, owing to the King's services in behalf of her nephew, the Emperor had been enabled to attend exclusively to his own interests in Spain, to preserve the Low Countries from the French, to recover Milan, Genoa, and Tournay, to redeem the pension of Naples, and free himself from the obligation of marrying René. The King, she said, did not grudge him this good fortune; but still nothing had been done for the King's profit, and no portion of his inheritance had been recovered. (fn. 3). To the excuses she had made for disbanding the Imperial contingent of Burgundians, and the irregularity of their pay, fatal to their discipline and usefulness, he took the liberty of telling her, he did not expect a lady of her wisdom would have attempted to excuse such notorious wrong "by inventions and compasses, by paraboles and assimulations, interpreting his sayings, mind, and intent otherwise than, by experience of his accustomable manner, she hath found cause or occasion to do." He ended this tart message by repelling the insinuation that his master had ever separated himself from the Emperor, as her favorite minister, Hoghstrate, had "indiscreetly and otherwise than truly inferred."
Expresses it to the Regent.
Such language, more peremptory than courtly, especially to a lady, and the Emperor's aunt, was doubtless intended for the Emperor's ears. In Wolsey's correspondence with the Regent of Flanders he assumed a freedom and directness of speech to which crowned heads were scarcely accustomed. The restraint of official etiquette would not have permitted him to have addressed himself to the Emperor in language so uncompromising. But under the profession of friendship to the Regent, and the sincerity which such friendship allowed, he could adopt a tone of remonstrance, which he well knew would reach the quarter intended. He could speak to her with a freedom that could only be justified in an equal. With consummate and imperturbable tact, not the less galling because it assumed the mask of friendliness, he contrived to place the Emperor's aunt and himself on an equal footing. She represented the interests of her nephew as he did those of his master. As the friendship between the two Princes was inviolable, their ministers could have only one and the same object in view, and therefore might dispense with ceremony. Such a mode of address, he well knew, would be far from agreeable,—might provoke resentment. But he had measured his ground. It was necessary to fix the ambiguous conduct of the Emperor. Either he must prosecute the war and fulfil his engagements; or, if he declined it, and attempted excuses, it would be open to the Cardinal to make other arrangements, and anticipate the Emperor's designs.
Endeavours to fix the Emperor.
Two alternatives were before him,—to prosecute the war with vigor, and recover the English possessions in France, or let it be known that England was not so obdurate an enemy to France, but that Francis might make as advantageous an arrangement with England as any that the Emperor could offer. Either resolve was equally suitable to Wolsey's policy. To prosecute the war, he must subsidize Bourbon, at that time exclusively devoted to the Emperor's interests. To make terms with France, he must open communications with Louise of Savoy, only too ready to disengage England from the formidable confederacy by which France was threatened. From this time Louise and the Regent become prominent figures in the polities of the age. They are the intermediate agents of the most secret negociations in Europe. To search and fathom the designs of its courts, to watch its sovereigns and their ministers, until the moment came for taking the reins into their own hands, and dictating peace to all, was their exclusive and arduous task for the next six years.
His ambiguous conduct.
But, dissatisfied as he was with the results of the campaign, it was no part of Wolsey's policy to betray his impatience, or give any advantage to the Emperor, who was only too ready to find a pretext for evading his engagements. Wolsey offered to continue the war with France. He proposed that Bourbon should be sent into Flanders with 3,000 Burgundian horse, at the Emperor's charge, and 10,000 lanceknights. His master, he said, would contribute one half of the charge, and add 1,000 archers to pass into Normandy or Paris, "there to recover certain towns and places to the King's use; which shall be more facile for the said duke of Bourbon to do than any other person." This, he urged, would save 200,000 cr. due from the Emperor to the Duke. But for this purpose it would be necessary that the Duke should be sent at once into England, "without using such remiss manner, delay, and difficulty therein by colorable excuses, and for lack of furniture of money, as hath been done beforetime." (fn. 4) The combined armies were to march to Paris in June. Letters at the same time were sent to Bourbon inviting him to visit England. From the latter an ambiguous answer was returned, professing his devotion to the King's and the Emperor's service; (fn. 5) from Charles, a complaint that the English ambassadors were too hard upon him. (fn. 6) He could not consent to the proposed arrangement. Satisfied with the recovery of Fontarabia he was evidently disinclined to continue the war, and was only waiting for an opportunity of making the best terms for himself, without much consideration for his ally.
Wolsey sees the impolicy of continuing the war.
Wolsey could scarcely have anticipated, as he could certainly not have wished for, a more favorable answer. As the Emperor had declined the terms for continuing the war, the Cardinal was now free to take his own course. Charles could not hereafter reproach him with breaking their engagement, or plead its abandonment as a justification for openly coqueting with Francis. The Cardinal saw clearly that the continuance of the war on the previous terms would bring no accession of honor or profit to this country. He had done enough to secure the great aim of his policy by humbling France, and making its sovereign more dependent than before on the good-will of England. But there were other strong reasons why war was undesirable. It was not merely that all the advantages of it had hitherto fallen to the share of the Emperor, and all the cost of it on the King, but a protracted foreign war was an insupportable burthen, and contributed not a little to the Cardinal's unpopularity. So completely had he engrossed the King's favor, so generally was Wolsey regarded as his chief adviser, that every act of the government was attributed to his suggestion,—every harsh and every unsuccessful measure was visited upon his head. From the bishops, the nobles, the religious orders, the people at large, he could expect no cordial sympathy or support. The civil and religious administration of the whole kingdom was concentrated in his hands. It was now growing rapidly too great for one man's energies to control. In a few months it was to be still more complicated by an unforeseen difficulty. The correspondence with the Court of Rome alone, complicated and perplexed with the subtle intrigues and conflicting interests of the statesmen and ecclesiastics of all nations, was sufficient to tax the patience and engross the attention of any one minister to the utmost. Moreover a continental war was wholly distasteful to this nation. It deranged the commerce of the Narrow Seas, it disturbed the course of national trade and industry, it interfered with agricultural and mercantile employments. As England possessed no standing army, no navy, no commissariat, no store of arms, except a few culverins and great guns, the transport of troops to France and Flanders for a continental war was more costly and laborious than it is even now, when war is carried on with much larger contingents. Drawn in the main from the agricultural population, English soldiers were unused to the hardships of foreign service. The transport of troops engrossed the small coasting vessels in every available port. The supply of bread, beef, and beer,—without which English soldiers pined and drooped,—enhanced the price of these necessaries; whilst the licence engendered by war gave encouragement to robbery and piracy, in which allies and friends fared no better than enemies.
Up to this time the expences of the war had been met by a subsidy from the clergy and a loan granted by Parliament in the year 1522, consisting of a tenth of the goods of the laity on all property above 5l. But though these contributions were readily granted, they were not so readily levied. The loan "sore "emptied men's purses," already reduced by the necessity of purchasing "harness and weapons." The collection of these subsidies from Michaelmas to April had already realised the sum of 228,906l., amounting in modern computation to two millions sterling and a half; and as every man's quota had to be paid in specie by an agricultural population of frugal habits, the tax fell with greater heaviness upon the counties. To increase the discontent, people were alarmed by prognostications of a general flood, and corn had risen in price under apprehensions of scarcity. (fn. 7) To assemble a Parliament in the present crisis was out of the question; to raise another loan without its consent was an expedient on which Wolsey dared not yet to venture, nor would the occasion warrant it. Peace, then, was desirable, if not necessary. The Emperor's reluctance to continue the war was all that Wolsey wanted.
Is inclined to peace.
But to have allowed his wishes for peace and accommodation to transpire, still more to make the first advances, was not for the honor of England, nor was it advantageous. All parties were equally tired of the campaign,—the Cardinal, who saw no good likely to arise from it,—the Emperor, who had made his market, and did not wish to incur further hazard,—Francis, to divide and diminish the odds arrayed against him. But though all wished for peace, no one was willing to confess it. No one was prepared by such admission to compromise his chances of obtaining the best bargain from the fears or necessities of his neighbour. Each sovereign, therefore, held back, and shaped his policy in the hope of forcing his confederates to make the first advance. The terms addressed by Wolsey to Charles, on which alone his master would consent to renew the war, were peremptory; but the willingness of Henry to accept an arrangement, if the Emperor proposed or desired it, was tacitly insinuated. The Emperor, not less wary, would not definitively accept either alternative. If Henry would carry on the war as efficiently as before, and invade France, Charles would assist him in obtaining his rights. Or, if Henry would secure honorable and advantageous terms for himself and his allies, Charles would acquiesce, and offer no objections to a peace.
Wishes the Pope to urge it.
In these straits, into which sovereigns were brought by their animosity and ambition, when there was no strong public opinion to control them, and no disinterested state to arbitrate, the Pope was a convenient and indispensible referee. He was the Holy Father of Christendom. It was due to his sacred office and character to maintain peace, and not suffer his faithful sons, the sovereigns of Europe, to take each other by the throat, and fill the whole Christian world with bloodshed and confusion. The argument, always available when sovereigns desired to find some excuse for doing what they wished to do, had lately gained additional force by the approach of the Turks and the increase of the Lutheran heresy. How could the successor of St. Peter, the supreme representative of the Gospel, turn a deaf ear to such appeals,—still less when they coincided with the interests of the Holy See? It was as much the policy of the Pope as it was of the Cardinal, to balance the great contending powers of Europe against each other. Nothing was to be feared from their weakness, everything from their power. The decided predominance of any one involved the dependence of the Papacy. The hopelessness of securing the freedom of the Holy See, and recovering its lost possessions, never seemed more hopeless than when one potentate of Europe was powerful and arrogant enough to overrule the rest. So in a letter (fn. 8) addressed by Wolsey to Clement VII., after profuse expressions of gratitude for past favors, and his "elegant breve," the Cardinal took the opportunity of instilling into the Pope's ears the blessings of Christian unity. The Pope desired peace. Peace, he tells the Pope, is now even more necessary than war. In a subsequent letter (fn. 9) to the English ambassadors at Rome the Cardinal fails not to urge them, in the event of any slackness on the part of the Emperor, to press the Pope "to propose, as of himself, overtures for peace."
The difficulties in the way.
The history of the times has been so heedlessly written, prejudice or inadvertence has imported into it so many mistakes, so much confusion, that it is almost impossible to form a correct judgment of events, still more of the actors and their motives. In thus applying to the Pope the Cardinal was well aware that Clement VII., tired, or apprehensive, of the oppressive patronage of Charles V., was naturally inclined to favor the French. But he was also conscious that any open avowal of reluctance on his part to continue the war would render Francis more dangerous and more intractable than ever. If, in spite of all the efforts of the confederacy, the French king succeeded in holding the field,—if the combined armies were compelled to relinquish the campaign,—Francis would obtain the monarchy of Italy. He would become less anxious than before to secure the friendship of England. To avoid this contingency the Cardinal bated not a jot of his warlike demeanor. He had already entered ostensibly upon a treaty (fn. 10) with the Emperor's ambassador, De Praet, for the invasion of France. It was a threat, and a threat only; for he well knew that the season was too far advanced for active operations. If the treaty proceeded, and Charles prosecuted the war with vigor, the whole burthen of it would fall upon Bourbon, who might be assisted, and the forces under him augmented by money and reinforcements from England, as the turn of events required. (fn. 11) If the Emperor held back, and fortune inclined to the French, Wolsey could retrace his steps without any great sacrifice. Meanwhile his active brain had been already at work in providing for either contingency. Informal negociations with the French court for peace and payment of the pensions due to England (fn. 12) had been set on foot by unaccredited agents on both sides.
Vague promises of Pace and Bourbon.
Matters hung in suspense. The hopes and demands of the combatants on both sides rose and fell with temporary successes and disasters. Every one wished for peace; but though the Pope, either on his own suggestion or at the advice of others, had sent the archbishop of Capua to France, Spain, and England, in succession, when it came to arranging the terms no one was willing to make concessions. The main difficulty was the restoration of Bourbon, to which Francis would by no means consent, nor with it would Charles dispense. Nothing, therefore, remained for the present, except to wait upon the course of events. If Bourbon prospered, the Cardinal might find means for delaying his arrangements with France; if otherwise, they might proceed. But it was by no means easy to discover exactly how matters stood, or to penetrate Bourbon's real intentions. (fn. 13) Pace, who had been sent to reside with him, was too much influenced by partiality to the Imperial cause to be implicitly trusted. It is not easy to decide whether he failed to comprehend Wolsey's policy, or disliked it, or wished to counteract it. The freedom and boldness of his criticisms are scarcely less remarkable than their shallowness. Flattered by the attentions of Bourbon and the Imperial officers, (fn. 14) he had ceased to use his own judgment. He adopted their views and their statements without consideration, and magnified their powers and importance. In a tone of bravado he spoke of Bourbon's army "as able to fight all the power of France; and he is determined to do so! Now is the time," he continues, with more confidence than prudence, "to look to the recovery of the King's rights; for if this army, for lack of support—(that is, of money from England),—is obliged to retreat, such another will never be got together again." (fn. 15) As Henry laid claim to the throne of France, Bourbon, by right, was his subject. Would he swear homage to the king of England in event of the conquest of France? This was the touchstone of his real intentions. But this he evaded; yet Pace had no suspicion. He still finds Bourbon "a very substantial, wise, and virtuous prince. If he is deceived by the Duke every one is deceived. He is determined to serve the King faithfully, and neither to be made king himself, nor to allow any other;" (fn. 16) —as if when Bourbon had conquered France he would become more subservient to the King's purposes.
The Cardinal is not to be deceived. Puts Pace on his guard.
Such airy and unsubstantial hopes did not satisfy Wolsey. He replied to this rhodomontade with admirable clearness and unruffled temper. (fn. 17) The contrast is striking between the broad, cautious, long-sighted views of the great statesman and the rash and hasty judgments of the man of whom it has been absurdly said that the Cardinal was jealous. Praising Pace for his zeal and fidelity, Wolsey proceeded to excuse his criticisms and rectify his mistakes. Pace is alone: he is necessarily ignorant of many things "which he would know if he were here." Of Bourbon's protestations and his professed anxiety for the King's rights, "it is to be considered (he says) that Bourbon's chief reason for making war on the French king is his own private quarrel, which he could not avenge alone; and it was easy for him to see that the Emperor and the king of England were the most meet protectors of his cause, which they would not have advocated unless they had perceived some profit for themselves likely to ensue. Secondly, there is reason to suspect that Bourbon has offered the Emperor Provence, Languedoc, and Marseilles, with the subjection of Bourbonnais and Auvergne, which he refuses to hold of the king of England, affirming (as Pace had reported) that there is a treaty to the contrary; which is not true. Besides, when Provence and Marseilles are taken, to which enterprise the Genoese contribute and bear the charge, it will be more easy to recover the duchy of Bourgoyne (for the Emperor); and as the French will then be kept from the Mediterranean, Naples will be open to the Emperor, and secured from the French." So all these designs, which seemed so fair to Pace, were conceived in the Emperor's interests solely. He then proceeds to show Pace that the plans of Bourbon which he had so strongly commended were contrived exclusively for Bourbon's and the Emperor's profit; as well as "the laying of an antemurale all this winter between France and Italie," contrived by Beaurain "and other fine personages, in the Emperor's interests, on the pretence that the King shall recover his crown in France." Adopting implicitly the suggestions of Bourbon, Pace had insisted strongly on the invasion of France by an army to be sent from England. Wolsey was not to be so easily deceived. Such an appeal, he replies, is premature. His master cannot be required to perform his promise of invading France, except in the event of a revolution or a victory, and up to the present time (the middle of July) Bourbon had done nothing. He had not yet gained Provence, or even his own patrimony, from the French king; "and there seems no likelihood of a revolution; for the French king is not so generally hated as Bourbon would have men believe, or as Pace writes." The Cardinal then discusses, with admirable judgment and complete mastery of the subject, the advantages and disadvantages of an invasion of France, the means required for it, the localities where it might best be attempted. He shows as clear a comprehension of all these points as a practised general, and is equally at home in contriving a campaign as in building a college.
Pace is mortified.
Calm, judicial, and even considerate, as was the Cardinal's despatch, the tone of Pace's reply (fn. 18) betrays his mortification. He apologises for asserting that if the crown of France was lost he should impute the fault to Wolsey,—it must be remembered that his letters were intended for the King, and not merely for the Cardinal,—and he did not imagine that his words would be taken seriously. It was only "to stir Wolsey to that end." Still he adheres to the high opinion he had expressed of Bourbon's good faith and sincerity. "As to the conquests in Provence, Languedoc, and Burgundy, being for other men's profit, at the King's expence, this is a great error, and the fine men whom Wolsey mentions cannot deceive Pace about that." For the irregularity in the payment of the Emperor's contingent he finds numerous apologies; all of which, it is obvious, were nothing more than a repetition of the excuses he had heard from Bourbon and the Imperial officers. It is clear that Pace was not inclined to defer to the judgment of the Cardinal. Worse than all, he suffered himself to be betrayed by the influence of bad temper. In the confidence of his own opinions, he went so far as publicly to condemn Wolsey's policy. He taxed the Cardinal with being swayed by interested motives, and allowed a licence to his tongue wholly unbecoming his position and employment. The account given not long after by the Italian, Surian (fn. 19), to the Signory at Venice, is not calculated to raise our opinion either of Pace's temper or discretion. He went so far as to inform the Venetian envoy that on the 28th June he had received letters from the King and Wolsey desiring him to encourage Bourbon to persevere in the campaign, with assurances that money should be provided, and that English troops had already been forwarded to Calais for the invasion of France. It was arranged, he said, that the Emperor should disburse 100,000 ducats, whilst England should contribute a like sum year by year until the war was concluded. The Emperor, continued Pace, never sent 100,000 ducats in one sum, but by driblets at irregular intervals; yet Pace had expended 100,000 ducats on the part of England. Of the second disbursement, which should have been made by the Emperor, not a penny had been received; and, therefore, Pace had declined—it would have been more correct to have stated that he had received the Cardinal's orders not to advance—any further sums until the Emperor's quota had arrived. Surian further assured the Signory that Pace attributed the mismanagement entirely to Wolsey, because if he had sent the English troops, as he had promised, into France, and not 100 soldiers merely, Francis would never have dared to cross the Alps, nor have made his appearance in Italy. (fn. 20)
Betrays the secrets of his mission.
So gross a betrayal of the secrets of his mission was far from creditable. His animosity against the Cardinal can only be justified on the plea of infirmity. What follows is far worse. He told Surian, "that, as far as he knew, no agreement, tacit or otherwise, existed between the kings of France and England, though he suspected that the Cardinal might have some secret understanding with the former through subornation, by reason of Wolsey's very base nature; and he founded his suspicions on the fact that for the last two months Don Joachim Passano (De Vaux), the Genoese, who was accustomed to negociate for France, had been residing constantly in England." (fn. 21)
Vain and boastful.
Clever and amusing as he was, Pace was vain and boastful, and his head had been turned by sudden pro- sperity. Confident of his own opinions and his supposed influence with the King, he was unable to endure contradiction, and impatient of control. The sagacious Italian found it useful to cultivate the acquaintance of a man who had the opportunity of giving important information, and was so indiscreet in disclosing it. Though he valued the intelligence communicated by Pace, he had little esteem for his character. "Pace," he tells the Seignory in a subsequent letter, "assures me that on arriving in England, whither he is riding post, he will not cease urging his king to make a demonstration by invading France, at the latest, in spring, and taking the command in person. He added whole sack-fulls of bravadoes." (fn. 22) Whether he would have been able to carry his boast into effect, if he had been admitted into the King's presence, as he fully anticipated, can never be ascertained. Before he reached England, Wolsey had found for him an important mission. Circumstances had arisen which made his continuance in Italy indispensable.
Wolsey opens negociations with France.
The scale turns.
It has been stated already that, in anticipation of a failure on the part of the Emperor, from inability or reluctance, to fulfil his engagements, Wolsey had opened indirect correspondence with France, or rather with Louise of Savoy, the Queen Mother. The person employed in these negociations was the Genoese, Passano, who held no official appointment, but was justly suspected of carrying secret intelligence between the two courts. The fact of his living incognito in England had reached the ears of De Praet, the Imperial ambassador—was transmitted by him to the Emperor; and it was doubtless from Bourbon and Beaurain, the Imperial generals, to whom it had been communicated, that Pace had derived his intelligence. (fn. 23) This residence in England of John Joachim (for so he was generally called) was regarded with suspicion by the Imperial ambassador; but with all his sagacity and watchfulness—by no means agreeable to Wolsey—he could never detect the Cardinal in any correspondence with the French emissary. To all his remonstrances Wolsey replied that there was no foundation for De Praet's suspicion. He even commanded Sampson to inform the Emperor that though an agent had been sent to him by Louise he had refused to listen to his overtures; and when required to state on what conditions the King would be willing to treat, he had replied it would be no other than the surrender of the whole realm of France. (fn. 24) As two emissaries had arrived from France at different intervals, the one a friar, the other De Vaux, this statement may have been literally true. It was not unlike the officiousness of friars in those ages to intrude into courts, either at their own suggestion, or on a hint from those who employed them as confessors, and assume the liberty of interviewing great personages. It might have been the fact that Wolsey had thus unceremoniously declined the French overtures. But it is also true that at the time of this denial negociations had already advanced so far that the preliminaries for a treaty with France had been agreed upon, and Francis had consented to most of the terms demanded by Wolsey. (fn. 25) To keep certain points open and undecided, to secure delay until one party or the other saw its advantage, to break off or conclude accordingly, was a feat of diplomacy thoroughly understood in those days. The formidable confederacy arrayed against him—the anticipation of Bourbon's invasion—reverses in Italy—discontent among his own subjects—a season of great scarcity, made Francis anxious to recover the friendship of England; and Wolsey was equally anxious to extract from this wish the most favorable conditions. (fn. 26) A few months later the scale turned. Bourbon's expedition, as Wolsey had anticipated, disappointed the expectations of his friends. There was no rising in his favor. The Pope, the Venetians, and even the Imperialists, were beginning to lose confidence. The worst danger had passed away. More than all, the Emperor's health was causing serious alarm to his subjects. "Os concerning "the great enterprise and expedition," writes Sampson to Wolsey from Valladolid, on 30 Oct., (fn. 27) "I shall show your Grace my poor opinion clearly. First, the Emperor is now in a quartana, I assure your Grace, very feeble, and nothing apt for the war. His remedy is in God's hand. Secondo, he is in extreme poverty: notwithstanding, to his inestimable hinder and loss, he may find money to pass the charges of it, os I think. Tercio, though his Majesty be of the best mind to observe his appointment, os without fail I think he is, yet the preparations and other ordering of the whole matter must chiefly pass by the Spaniardis hands here in Spain, or else they will not fail to use means the more to hinder the affairs; and the succor of Spain, by their own proverb, be very late and tardy, os by good experience I have seen here, and your Grace assuredly knoweth. Quarto, all the realm of Spain is very desirous of peace, and os weary of war, especially since they have known the return of the duke of Bourbon into Italia, and the loss of that expedition. Wherefore I fear ony (every) appointment for the great expedition, onless (lest) that outher it shall clearly fail on this side, or be deferred and set forth so late that all the whole danger of the year shall rest upon the Kingis army. Moreover, it is my poor opinion that if the King's highness intend to set onything forth to his own advancement or profit, that he should only trust to his own arm and strength; and if by appointment ony other help or aid shall well chance, take it for the more advantage; for in effect it is every man for himself." Nothing could be more clear, nothing more sensible. The thunder-clouds which hung over Francis had cleared away of themselves. He was master of the situation without an effort. Had he been contented to wait a few weeks, he might have dictated his own terms. Intoxicated with his good fortune, he resolved, in an evil hour, to cross the Alps and conduct the war in person;—with what fatal results must be told hereafter.
Francis enters Italy.
Compelled to raise the siege of Marseilles on the 27th of September, Bourbon had retreated in precipitation to Nice. (fn. 28) The news at once determined Francis to break off all further arrangements for a truce, and take this opportunity of wreaking vengeance on his enemies. His advance was regarded with alarm. Elated with anticipated success, his demands rose high; his anger was expressed in no measured terms. Guicciardini reports that when Francis, then starting from Avignon, heard of the retreat of Bourbon, he called his officers together, and said to them:—"I have concluded and am resolved to pass in person into Italy; and whoever shall advise me to the contrary, shall not only not be heard, but incur my displeasure. Let every one, therefore, look well to the discharge of his duty; for God, who is a lover of justice, and the insolence and rashness of my enemies, have opened a way for me to recover that which has been unjustly taken from me." So determined was he in turning a deaf ear to all advice, that he avoided a meeting with his mother Louise, lest she should persuade him to remain in France, and commit the war in Italy to his captains. Three prizes were before him,—Milan, Pavia, and Naples,—all of which he was equally desirous of wresting from the hands of his enemies. Of these Pavia was the best provided for defence in men, munitions, and provisions. Milan, the capital of the duchy, had been visited by a plague all the summer. Its population had been diminished by war and famine, its fortifications had fallen into ruins from neglect. It was an easy prey, but worse than useless, for it could not be defended. The Imperial general, Morone, had abandoned it in despair. Naples, the seat of the Viceroy, disgusted with Imperial rule, was inclined to the French. Even if it had been as strongly defended as Pavia, the climate was more genial—it was now close on the end of October;—and in the event of ill success, retreat was comparatively easy,—for Francis had a fleet at Marseilles under Renzo de Ceri,—whereas in the north of Italy the rivers and swamps, swollen by rain, rendered all military operations proportionately difficult; and a retreat in the winter over the passes of the mountains covered with snow would expose the French to inevitable destruction. In the face of these difficulties, Francis, listening to Italian advice, chose precisely that course which was the least eligible. He appeared before Milan only to abandon it, to divide his troops, to give his enemies time to consolidate their forces, and enable them to put Pavia in a better posture of defence.
The siege of Pavia.
Pavia was at that time commanded by Don Antonio de Leyva, the most active, intrepid, and able of all the Spanish generals,—not to say cruel and unscrupulous—a common fault in those days. He had been a man of war from his youth; and to great physical daring added the courage of long experience. He took the odds of war with the confidence and audacity of a reckless but skilful gamester; and was as certain to win as other men would have been sure to lose at the same stakes. Yet, with all this energy, he was so crippled with the gout that he could not mount his horse, and had to be carried in a chair to battle. His spirit and determination at once inspired the discomfited Imperialists with fresh confidence, and found a rallying point for their scattered and dispirited army; whilst Francis, distracted by a variety of projects, weakened his forces, and fell a victim to divided counsels. His only chances of success depended on his ability to take Pavia by a sudden assault before the Imperialists could recover from their late discomfiture, and once more make head against him in the field. He reached Turin on the 17th of October. Uncertain of his movements, the Imperialists posted an advanced guard of 2,000 foot and six guns at Alessandria, evacuating Milan as untenable; whilst Bourbon and Pescara, with the main body, fell back in the direction of Pavia. Leaving the right road Francis advanced by the left to Milan; thus allowing his enemies to withdraw in safety, and concentrate their forces on the most defensible spot. His advanced guard entered at one gate as the last of the Spaniards left by another. (fn. 29) There was yet time for retrieving his mistake, by marching rapidly to Lodi, and falling on the rear of the Imperial troops, who were retiring in the greatest disorder. But evil counsels again prevailed, or rather, that self-confidence and contempt of difficulties which more than once have proved disastrous to the arms of France. (fn. 30) He was persuaded that his army would be set free by the capture of Pavia, and he might then conquer the whole of the Peninsula at his leisure. Arriving before Pavia on the 28th of October, he summoned the garrison to surrender. "Since writing last," says Pace in a letter to Henry VIII., (fn. 31) "Francis has sent a herald demanding Pavia to surrender. The captains, Ant. de Leyva and the count of Sorne, an Almain, took him into the market-place, and showed him their forces, 4,000 or 5,000 foot, 100 men-at-arms, and 200 light horse, bidding him tell the King they were all determined to die rather than lose the city. Francis intends to besiege them, and is only four or five miles distant. If he take it he will probably gain all the Milanese; but it is well fortified and victualled, and cannot be captured without great loss. If he fail, he will lose as much reputation as he gained by his hasty passage over the mountains. There is great rain daily."
Francis is baffled.
As the garrison showed no inclination to surrender, Francis determined to batter the town. I turn again, for a short account of the assault, to another letter sent by Pace to Henry VIII. (fn. 32) "A gentleman who was present at the two assaults of Pavia sent the following account to the marquis of Mantua. On the 8th (Nov.) Francis determined to give a somewhat feeble assault, to try the courage of the garrison; who defended themselves in a similar way, using no artillery but hand-guns. (fn. 33) The same night he determined on a violent assault for the following day, in four places, thinking the defence would be equally weak. To make the garrison negligent, he did not commence the assault till 10 o'clock, when he attacked as fiercely as possible, setting forward and reinforcing his men. The garrison defended themselves with equal courage, never shooting their artillery till the extreme force of the French was upon them."
"In half an hour they slew 2,000 of the French. La Palice fell mortally wounded. Longueville was slain, (fn. 34) not at the assault, but two days before, at the foot of the bridge leading into the city. The assault continued till 4 o'clock." (fn. 35) The great loss of the French was occasioned by the impatience of Francis to storm the town before the breach was practicable. The assailants were met at every step by a deadly fire poured on them from the houses, pierced for harquebuses, and their advance was obstructed by deep trenches flanked with musketry. In such a melée the courage of the French gentlemen was of little use, and served only to expose them more effectually to the fire of the garrison. Francis lost in this and in a similar effort 3,000 foot and 400 gentlemen, the flower of his troops. Of the captains taken on this occasion were "Jerome Tryulci and John Ferme,—great men, (says Pace,) and the chief authors of this business in Italy." After two days wasted in this ineffectual attempt, the King desisted, resolving, on the advice of a French gentleman, to turn the course of the Ticino, and attack the town in a less defensible quarter. An undertaking so difficult and laborious under the most favorable circumstances, was little less than insanity in the middle of November, when the river and its tributaries were swollen with heavy rains; still more in the face of an enemy jubilant with unexpected success, and now straining every nerve to rally their scattered forces and take the offensive. The Imperialists, straitened for money and provisions, were encouraged to persevere, in the conviction that the siege could not continue much longer, and even if Francis succeeded in obtaining possession of Pavia he would himself be besieged in turn, cut off from all resources, and his troops diminished. The Imperial army, says Pace, (fn. 36) will be assisted with meat and drink by the towns and villages in the duchy, which had before been indifferent, if not hostile; and they have taken courage since the defeat of the French. Dangers threatened on all sides. Bourbon, Pescara, one of the ablest captains of the age, Lannoy, the viceroy of Naples, and all the smaller states of Italy that feared the vengeance of the Emperor, were now concentrating their forces on the scene of action. "If the King raises the siege," remarks Pace, "he can only retreat to Novara and Vigevano, across the Ticino, losing his reputation and the city of Milan. If he keeps the parts of the duchy across the Ticino during the winter, by way of truce or by force, it will be very costly. He cannot retreat from the duchy of Milan without sustaining still severer losses; and I know not what hope he can have, except that the Imperials may lack money." Even before this the abbot of Najara, writing to Charles, (fn. 37) had expressed his confident conviction of the folly and madness of the enterprise. "The king of France," he writes, "has made a very hasty invasion of Italy, and it will not be easy for him to return, without risking his life and all that he has. He finds the conquest of the duchy of Milan so difficult that there is no doubt he is persuaded that ruin is more probable than success." In that opinion the Abbot was wrong, as will appear presently.
Resolves to starve the garrison.
Finding all other methods ineffectual, Francis resolved to fortify his camp, and starve the garrison into surrender. He was confirmed in this resolution by the intelligence that the troops were discontented and mutinous for want of pay; and though De Leyva and Pescara had made great efforts to supply it, they had only succeeded in staving off for a short period the resolution of the soldiers to desert. Charles, with all his extensive dominions, was as hopelessly insolvent as Maximilian. The wages of the troops were many months in arrears. Again and again the Imperial viceroy and the Imperial generals urge upon the Emperor that nothing can save them but a large sum of money. Either money must be provided, or a truce must be made before it is too late; if not, the French, in spite of all their disadvantages, must prevail. "England and Italy will not contribute," writes Lannoy. "Your Majesty has done enough to save your honor. Time is a more dangerous enemy to us than the French." (fn. 38)
It was probably the knowledge of this distress that induced Francis to continue the siege throughout the horrors of a Northern Italian winter, augmented by sickness and want of food. "The King," says a correspondent of the time, "is in great want of provisions. An egg costs 12 deniers, and a chicken 15 shillings. The gentlemen pensioners of the King's household and the captains send to their own homes for money. All the great lords are obliged to go and warm themselves in the King's kitchen. The infantry lie in the trenches, and dare not leave them, lest they should die of hunger and cold. It is reported that Francis will return, and leave his army in charge of the sieur de Montmorency. Villeroy and other noblemen have returned nearly dead "with cold." (fn. 39)
The Pope, naturally anxious and dreading the result, fearing both powers alike, and desirous of neutralizing both, bestirred himself in the task of mediation. Lannoy, then at Lodi, was willing to accept the terms. He had little expectation of keeping the troops together. Naples was threatened by Albany, whom Francis had despatched in that direction; the Pope and the Venetians were siding with the French king, whilst Henry and his minister, Wolsey, showed no signs of assisting the Imperialists; in fact, through the intrigues of Joachim, they were generally suspected of having made a treaty with France already. (fn. 40) Notwithstanding the dangers of his position and the pressing wants of his troops, the King, at the instigation of the admiral, Bonnivet, and of Saint Marsault, his favorite, turned a deaf ear to all proposals. The siege went on.
His difficulties increase.
By this time Bourbon had returned with reinforcements, and rejoined the Viceroy at Lodi. On 25th January the combined forces started for Marignano. From Marignano they took the road to Villanterio, intending to assault S. Angiolo on the way. "They commenced to shoot on Sunday at dawn, and took the town at 20 o'clock." (fn. 41) On the 3rd the camp was visited by Sir Gregory Casale, who had been sent from England by the Cardinal to the Venetians, for the purpose of urging them to assist the Emperor. (fn. 42) He found the Imperialists advanced within two miles of Pavia. The French army had been drawn up in camp all day expecting battle. Tomorrow, writes Casale, the king of France will be compelled to fight or raise the siege on the side by the Ticino. If this be done the army inside will be able to join the forces of the Viceroy, and cut off the enemy's supplies. "Two gates of the park are now attacked, and 3,000 men are engaged on both sides. I never saw better forces, or more eager to fight. If I had 100,000 ducats I would spend them in the King's (Henry's) service. If the Cardinal could see these things with his own eyes, he would be of the same mind; for if the French king succeeds in putting off the battle, as he is trying to do, (fn. 43) the Imperialists will be in great danger for want of money. I expect, if they fight, the French king will be either killed or taken prisoner." (fn. 44) He adds, in a postscript, that in event of a battle the Imperialists will certainly win; but since the French have refused battle yesterday and today (5th and 6th Feb.), they will probably prefer disgrace to defeat, and will be allowed to retire in safety. "If so, the Imperialists will not be able to force them to fight again for a long time. If they can intercept the victuals, the French must fight. The army cannot continue together for 30 or 40 "days longer, (fn. 45) unless 200,000 ducats be forwarded as promised by the Emperor. The troops are anxious to engage. The enemy's positions are being attacked by the smaller artillery and the light horse; and they are challenged to come out to a pitched battle, which they could easily do, if they chose, for the ground between the two armies is flat and open." "The war," he tells Wolsey, "is carried on most cruelly. No prisoners are saved, and no quarter is given."
"This morning," meaning Feb. 6th, "the Viceroy, the duke of Bourbon, and the marquis of Pescara came to me asking me to go to the Pope, for they heard that he had sent commissioners to provide victuals for Albany's passage into Naples. I could not refuse them, but asked to be allowed to stay until today, for last night it was determined to pitch the camp so as to force the French to fight. The King is in a park at Mirabello, with the Ticino behind him, and 2,000 foot to guard the bridge. La Palice with the Swiss is between the park and the Ticino, and before them is a valley with a small stream, which we have determined to cross with the artillery, drive the French from the higher ground, and march straight to Pavia. If the Swiss in the French service attempt to cross the water, we shall attack them. We rely upon the Marquis's advice, who strongly urges a battle. The park is surrounded by a wall, double the height of an English park wall, which has been pulled down by the King, so as to be able to assist La Palice. Today we pitched our camp as was determined. Two such armies have never been seen so near each other. We are only half a mile from Pavia, with the enemies between us and the city, from which the French are protected by earthworks. We intend to attack the enemy's works tonight, and gain the higher ground, which would place them in our power. If we are not successful, we shall bring up the guns and fight them step by step. If that does not succeed, we will force our way by trenches. The enemy is ready day and night, and the King is continually on horseback." (fn. 46)
Is urged by his officers to withdraw in time.
Before matters had arrived at this pass, the French king had been urged by his most experienced officers to withdraw from the dangers which every day grew thicker around him, and made all probability of success more desperate. They urged that by retiring to some strong place in the neighbourhood he would obtain victory without bloodshed; for, as the Imperialists could not hold out many days for want of pay, their armies would speedily be dissolved. They represented the danger of his present position,—between an army in front, numerous, hopeful and resolved, and a garrison no less active and resolute in his rear. It was no token of cowardice, they argued, in a general to avoid exposing his troops to obvious dangers, and defeat the purposes of his enemy by patience and skill. The same arguments had been urged by the Pope, who was perfectly well acquainted with the difficulties and intentions of the Imperialists. But the counsel of his evil genius, Bonnivet, the admiral, prevailed. The advice of more experienced officers was disregarded. The King resolved to continue the siege, trusting to some accident to relieve him from his fatal position, and hoping that his enemy, who had already shown an inclination to temporise, might be compelled to retire from want of provisions, or the inclemency of the season. Whether, indeed, if he had followed the advice of his wiser and more experienced officers, he would in reality have escaped the dangers that menaced him, or have been besieged in turn, and cut off from all assistance and hope of retreat, it is vain to speculate. He had learned, too late, that if the possession of Pavia brought with it the subjugation of Lombardy, the loss of Pavia was the loss of all his hopes in Italy.
The Imperialists take the offensive.
The Imperialists on their side were equally aware that their chance of success depended on giving battle immediately. They were as anxious for action as the French to decline it. The garrison was straitened by want of provisions. Their ammunition was exhausted. The soldiers outside were ready to mutiny for want of pay. The result would be the same, whether they fought and were beaten, or retired without fighting. In both cases destruction was imminent. Already they had approached so near the French encampments, which were strongly defended, that the challenge of the sentinels at the opposite outposts could be distinctly overheard. The French were kept in a perpetual state of alarm by feints and sallies in front and rear. On the 17th of February, (fn. 47) the abbot of Najara, the Imperial commissary, wrote to Charles to tell him that the two armies were within musket range of each other. The ground, he says, has to be conquered inch by inch, until we can reach each other with our pikes. The French are strongly fortified with deep ditches. It is impossible to attack them at once; but they will be forced to give battle within their fortifications, when they least expect it. The king of France is very obstinate, and refuses to come out. He confides in the strength of his position, in his artillery, in his 6,000 Swiss and 2,000 Germans. Skirmishes take place daily. The French are panic stricken, and take to flight even when they meet a smaller number of assailants. The first thing to be done is to plant the camp in such a position that four or five thousand men can easily attack the enemy's quarters. Measures will be concerted for the garrison of Pavia to sally forth at the same moment.
Defeat of the French. Francis is taken.
The plan thus rudely sketched was adopted. About midnight on the 23rd February the Imperialists began to move. They advanced in three divisions. The first, consisting of 3,000 Germans and Spaniards, dressed in white shirts, was sent forward before daybreak to breach the wall of the park, and march straight to the Mirabel, in which Francis was lodged with his men at arms. The second division was appointed to engage the main body of the Swiss, who were posted a little below on the left, near a thick wood; (fn. 48) thus isolating them from the rest, and preventing any combined movement on the part of the French, until the arrival of the third and the main division. The Germans were at first warmly received by the French artillery. The result might have proved disastrous to the assailants,—for the French fought with great resolution, notwithstanding the difficulties of their position,—had not the garrison sallied out from Pavia, taking them in the rear. The retreat became a rout; the Swiss, on whom Francis relied, did nothing worthy of their reputation, and only increased the confusion. The slaughter was terrible, especially among the French gentlemen and nobles, cooped up in a narrow space, and unable to exert themselves—to fight or to flee. Of the Swiss 4,000 were taken prisoners and released. The King might have escaped, but fought valiantly, killing with his own hand one of the standard-bearers. Borne down by the press, and his horse wounded under him, he fell to the ground, and was made prisoner by five soldiers, to whom his person was unknown. "There is a discussion," says a contemporary correspondent, writing from the field, "as to his captor. There are some who claim him as theirs, showing his sword and his gauntlet. He was pulled off his horse by the helmet; but the Viceroy, hastening to his relief, lifted him up respectfully, and freed him from the crowd of soldiers." (fn. 49) It was generally reported that he was wounded in the face. The writer, just quoted, states that he received two wounds—in the hands and in the face. The abbot of Najara, in his account of the victory, written on the same day, to Charles V., follows the common report, but the next day contradicts it, and asserts that the blood on the King's face was occasioned by a slight scratch of his fingers. So ended the battle of Pavia. So perished the expectation of France, and the flower of French chivalry.
Rejoicings of the Imperialists.
"Today," writes the abbot of Najara to the Emperor, "is the Feast of the Apostle St. Mathias, on which, five and twenty years ago, your Majesty is said to have been born. Five and twenty thousand times thanks and praise to God for His mercy! Your Majesty is from this day in a position to prescribe laws to Christians and Turks according to your pleasure." (fn. 50) Never had Fortune, in whose smiles Charles at that time implicitly believed, placed the empire of the world so nearly within the grasp of so young a man. (fn. 51) Never since the days of Charlemagne had the world witnessed so nearly a realization of its fitful dream of a real empire of the West. Nothing remained to oppose the Emperor's wishes. He might dictate laws at his pleasure to Turks and Christians alike, as the abbot of Najara told him, without caring much to discriminate who were Turks and who were Christians. France and Italy were equally at his mercy. With the exception of England, all the West acknow- ledged his obedience. And it was to England only that men now turned to see what England would do in this terrible emergency. (fn. 52) There was not a potentate in Italy who had not been flagrantly guilty of disaffection to the Emperor, had not secretly or openly abetted his enemies. The Pope, the Venetians, the duke of Ferrara, and others, had good reason to dread his resentment. Moderate as had been his language, when success hung in the balance, and victory was uncertain,—mild as were his reproofs in public, when he was informed of the defection of his former allies,—Charles had not hesitated to express his real feelings in private. Some time before the battle of Pavia, in talking with some gentlemen of his court, he had so far forgotten his usual reserve as to say, "I shall go into Italy, and there have a fairer opportunity of obtaining my own, and taking my revenge on those who have wronged me, especially on that poltroon the Pope. Some day or other perhaps Martin Luther may become a man of worth." (fn. 53) In a letter to the duke of Sessa, his ambassador at Rome, he assured the Duke, "he would maintain his army in spite of the Pope's reconciliation with the French king, and carry out his designs, even if it should cost him his crown and his life. Though forsaken by all his allies his power was not diminished; and they who have offended him should find him as hard and as resolute as ever." (fn. 54)
Self-command of the Emperor on hearing the news.
The Emperor heard the news of his great victory, young as he was, without openly betraying the least emotion. The intelligence reached him on the 10th of March. The court was thronged with an eager and exulting crowd. In reply to the congratulations of Sampson, the English ambassador, he said, he rejoiced in his success, for three reasons: First, that God had given him the victory, who was a sinner; and in God's strength he intended to employ it. Secondly, because it would enable him to establish universal peace in Christendom, reform the Christian Faith, and apply his travails to the service of God. Thirdly, because this victory would be more profitable to his friends (alluding to the king of England) than to himself. These words, remarks Sampson, (fn. 55) were set off with great "moderation of gesture, countenance, and os it seemed also of inward intent and mind ... I assure your Grace there was no more semblance in him of arrogantie or change of manners to joy effusely, other in word or countenance, than if no such great thing had chaunced." So much was the simple-minded Englishman struck with the Emperor's demeanor and pious behavior on this occasion, that he could not help adding, "I think this will induce God to give him another victory. I have learned more by this moderation than by all the books I ever have or shall read. Immediately after hearing the news, I am told he entered his chamber, and kneeled down for a good space, giving thanks unto God; and whereos he was advised by some to make great triumph for this victory, he expressly refused, since it was against Christian men. Next day he went in procession to a chapel of Our Lady, in a cape of black frieze, and said on his departure, 'Now shall we go to have a solemn mass, giving thanks unto God; and I would we should make it much more solemn with good inward devotion, than with any manner of outward pomp.' When the Emperor was advised to wear some rich and fresh raiment, to show his joy, he refused. He assured me the King should always find him of the same faithful mind never to fail, os at all times he hath else promised and said."
The same account is substantially given by the Venetian ambassador, Contarini. On hearing the news he repaired immediately to the palace. He found the Emperor pacing a long gallery with a few of his courtiers. After seven or eight turns from one end to the other, speaking all the time to those who were about him, he beckoned the ambassador to approach. Contarini endeavored to kiss his hand, but the Emperor rejected his advances. In the full flush even of his triumph he could not forget his resentment against the Venetians. After Contarini had offered his congratulations, and expressed a hope that the time might not be long before he was crowned at Constantinople—certainly not an idle compliment to the Emperor's ears—Charles told him that he acknowledged the victory as due to God alone, who, knowing the Emperor's good intentions, had rewarded him beyond his deserts; but he added significantly, that he wished the Venetians had assisted his army, as in duty they were bound to do. When Contarini endeavored to excuse his republic, he added, "I believe your intentions to be good; and, if not, I choose to consider them so. But, look you, Señor Ambassador! although many years have passed away since any sovereign had such means and opportunity as I have of accomplishing his own ends, I thank God for this good fortune, that not only my friends, but my enemies, may know that I never had any other wish except to procure peace for Christendom, and turn my forces against the Infidels. (fn. 56)
From the Mantuan ambassador we gather a few more particulars. When the courier Spinalosa (rather Penelosa) arrived, at noon, on the 10th, he was ushered immediately into the Emperor's presence, and said to him in the fewest possible words, "My liege, a battle has been fought under the walls of Pavia,—the king of France is a prisoner in your Majesty's power, and his whole army has been destroyed!" The Emperor was thunderstruck. He could only exclaim, "The king of France in my power, and the battle gained by us!" And without another word, or waiting for any further particulars, retiring into a chamber by himself, he knelt down before a picture of the Virgin, which hung at the head of his bed, and remaining on his knees for a short time, gave thanks unto God and to Christ's mother for such a mercy vouchsafed to him. Then entering the presence chamber he desired to hear all the details. The courier, who brought no letters, produced his safeconduct in the handwriting of the captive king in confirmation of the truth of his statement. "So the Emperor being assured of the truth ordered the publication of the news, but forbad any public rejoicings, except a procession and prayers for the dead, as the victory had been gained against Christians. He said that he hoped by the favor of God to obtain another greater mercy against the Infidels, and then public rejoicings should be made."
"All the ambassadors, who flocked to the palace on hearing the news, offered their congratulations separately; and it was wonderful to remark that neither by the Emperor's countenance nor gesture could any difference be perceived from his usual demeanor,—a thing unrecorded of any other prince, or of a few only, however prudent they may have been. His Majesty's self-control is the greater by reason of his youth, and is entirely attributed to his greatness of mind, which is neither elated by prosperity nor depressed by adversity. Although his replies were of the same tenor to all, certain expressions to the English ambassador were remarkable." They have been already given from Sampson's despatches, and need not to be repeated here. His Majesty, he continues, "remained until nightfall, giving his hand to all who wished to kiss it. Next morning, after confession, he went in procession to mass at a church dedicated to the Virgin, a mile from Madrid. He was clad in a cape and doublet of black cloth of frieze, as worn by him constantly since his attack of quartan ague, from which he has never entirely recovered." (fn. 57)
Its effect on Wolsey's policy.
The political schemes of Wolsey, contrived with so much dexterity and secresy, had been suddenly overthrown like a house of cards. He had written to the King on the 12th of February, "Should the Imperialists get the worst, which is not probable, thanked be God! your affairs are by your high wisdom in more assured and substantial train, by such communications as be set forth with France apart, than others in outward places would suppose." (fn. 58) It had been his object to balance the antagonism of Francis and Charles so carefully, and adjust his assistance so exactly, that whilst neither should obtain the preponderance, both should feel themselves obliged to the friendship of his master, and be willing to reimburse his expences. This attention to the pecuniary interests of his Sovereign was not due to Wolsey exclusively. With his tendency to extravagance, and his love of splendor, Henry VIII. had inherited the parsimoniousness of Henry VII. The money required for war or diplomacy was advanced from his privy purse,—for there was no public exchequer at that time,—and the King expected his minister to return the sums he had borrowed, or provide an equivalent. The alliance made with Charles V. three years before, if not influenced exclusively by similar considerations, was certainly facilitated by the readiness of the Emperor to take upon himself certain pecuniary obligations; and when the Cardinal discovered that he had no intention whatever of fulfilling his engagements, or even of repaying the sums advanced him by Henry, his hopes of recovering them by a closer union with France was not the least motive which induced the Cardinal to lend an ear to the negociations of Joachim. (fn. 59) But though he showed himself favourable to the proposals of Francis, he had not failed, some time before the battle of Pavia, to secure a retreat, in the event of the defeat of the French king, by sending Gregory Casale to the Imperial camp, and assuring Bourbon of Henry's desire for the success of the Emperor. He had even given instructions to Pace to persuade the Venetians to unite their troops with the Imperialists. (fn. 60) He had reason to be satisfied with the success of his measures; for whilst he was obliging the Imperialists he was increasing the difficulties of Francis, and augmenting the value of an English alliance. The situation was critical. Uncertain of the result, in no great expectation of the success of the French at Pavia, he was evidently no more prepared than was the rest of the world for so terrible a blow, which seemed for a time to have blotted France from the map of Europe, and transferred the monarchy, not only of Italy, but of the West, at a stroke, to the hands of the Emperor.
His relations with the Emperor.
How the Emperor received the intelligence of his good fortune,—with what moderation and piety (unlike his vainglorious rival) he disavowed all merit, and rejoiced that God had given him the victory,—has been told already. He was the object of Divine favour, because the Searcher of all hearts knew that he intended to use his victory for the benefit of others, and restore peace to bleeding Christendom. It might have seemed more in accordance with these declarations of universal benevolence and good will, if, in the midst of his successes, he could have forgotten the disaffection of the Venetians, and, in token of his forgiveness, allowed Contarini to kiss his hand. He was still in alliance with England, and was bound by the terms of the treaty to divide his successes with his ally. But of this he had no intention. He had carried on the war exclusively for his own benefit, without the least regard to the interests of his ally; and now when victory came that ally was as little in his thoughts as ever. Still, all men vied in praising his moderation; and Sampson, the English representative, was so deeply impressed with what he had seen and heard of "the good Emperor," (fn. 61) that he could not suspect so virtuous a prince of harbouring any but the most pious intentions. (fn. 62)
The two alternatives.
Not so Wolsey. He was not weak enough to be deceived by the Emperor's professions of moderation. The capture of Francis had alarmed not only those Italian states who had good reason to fear the Emperor's resentment, but all who had any cause for dreading his power. "Many here (at Rome)," writes Clerk to Wolsey, (fn. 63) "are right glad of the overthrow of the French, but sorry to be left a prey to the Spaniards, who for their cruelty are most hated of all nations." Subsequently he writes, (fn. 64) "The Venetians are in great fear, now that they are at the discretion of the Imperialists, whom they have not treated well. They are arming themselves, and pressing the Pope to do the same ... The effect is that the Pope, Venice, Florence, the duke of Ferrara, Sienna, Lucca, Mantua, and other meaner powers, will make a league for the defence of Italy, which they think the duke of Milan would gladly enter, as they suppose he will be for some years in no less captivity than the French king." If such a league as this were consolidated by an alliance with England, it would offer a formidable obstacle to the ambition of Charles, and neutralize in a measure the advantages of his late victory. But then the King would at once make the Emperor his enemy; the sums owed by him to England would be irretrievably lost, and all hope of sharing the Emperor's victory would have to be abandoned. In addition to this it would be necessary to undertake a second war at no inconsiderable cost, the fruits of which would fall to the Italians. Might it not be possible, then, to take advantage of the present disposition of the Emperor? Might he not be called upon to fulfil his engagements, and urged to perform his promise of invading France, and investing Henry with his hereditary provinces in that kingdom? An offer of men and money for continuing the war involved no risk. If the Emperor complied, the results would more than counterbalance the cost, as France was in no condition to resist; if he refused, neither men nor money would be required. And here my readers will be enabled to see what was the real meaning of the Emperor's moderation, and what the true interpretation of his repeated assertion that he valued his victory for the peace it would enable him to establish in Christendom. He would pursue victory no further; for the best of all reasons. What more could he gain by war? Diplomacy was less costly, and more sure. The spoils which good fortune had thrown into his lap he intended to keep exclusively to himself. For the rest, he might remunerate himself for his losses by wresting Burgundy from his unfortunate prisoner; whilst Henry might prosecute his barren claims upon France as best he could, without expecting aid from his ally. Further continuance of the war involved the fulfilment of his engagements, and a just distribution between England and himself of the advantages he had gained already. This did not suit the Emperor's plans. He meant to make a merit of his moderation with Francis by extorting from his necessities the richest province of France, and declining to assist Henry in obtaining any other. So, at a very early period, he gave Sampson to understand that the king of England must not hope to receive reinforcements from the Imperial dominions, still less 100,000 or 50,000 ducats for their support. "They think, here," says Sampson, "that the King should make the rest of any conquest at his own charge." (fn. 65) As neither alternative promised much, Wolsey determined to turn both of them to the best advantage.
Rupture with the Imperial ambassador.
But at this time, whilst the Cardinal was still smarting from the failure of his schemes, and the immovable selfishness of the Emperor, an event occurred by no means calculated to improve the good understanding between them. It has been stated already that various complaints had been made by the Imperial ambassador, De Praet, of the residence of Joachim, the French agent, in England. The Cardinal had insisted more than once that nothing had passed between himself and Joachim, in contravention of the good understanding existing between the two Crowns. Joachim "was kept close in the house of Doctor Larke, a prebendary of St. Stephen's," who lived at Blackfriars, "and every day privily spake with the Cardinal." (fn. 66) His protracted residence in England, and the rumours of his intercourse with Wolsey, were by no means agreeable to the Imperial minister. He determined to watch the movements of Larke, Joachim, and Wolsey more narrowly. But whilst he was thus engaged, a messenger carrying a packet of letters on the night of the 11th February was surprised by the watch on his way to Brentford. As his letters were superscribed in French, the constables took the packet to "a man of law's clerk." It fell eventually into the hands of Sir Thomas More, in the adjoining watch, and he presented it to Wolsey on the following morning as he was sitting "in the "Chancery at Westminster." (fn. 67) "Which, when I had read," writes Wolsey to the Emperor, "knowing how far the effect of them was discrepant from the truth, anon I conceived the former advertisements, made unto me touching the said ambassador's (De Praet's) accustomed usage in making sinister reports, to be true. And perceiving by the said letters, that albeit the usage is not here, that strangers should pass through the realm without a passport, yet that one of the Fulkers was despatched by the said ambassador the day before, with letters towards Spain, wherein it was like there might be as evil or worse report than in these, I with all diligence sent to countermand the said former letters, or any other despatched at that time by the said ambassador; and so was taken also a packet of his letters directed to my lady Margaret. Which original letters ... viewed and overlooked, and the untruth mentioned in them deprehended, I send unto your hands." On summoning De Praet to appear before himself and the Council, Wolsey taxed him with untruth, objecting to various expressions in the ambassador's despatches; viz., "If we obtain the battle (of Pavia) all will be well; our master will escape the danger of such friends and confederates as he has hitherto had." "Let me say he is little obliged to any of them, whoever they may be." And again: "When matters succeed well, Wolsey knows not what to say, and when otherwise he talks wonders. I hope one day to see our master avenged, for Wolsey is the main cause of all his misfortunes." De Praet made no reply, except to complain of his letters being intercepted, contrary to the privileges of ambassadors. In the end Wolsey ordered him to forbear writing, saying that the King and himself would communicate the particulars to the Emperor. (fn. 68)
De Praet is confined to his house.
Such an extraordinary outrage on the privileges of an ambassador had never been known before; still more on an ambassador of the greatest sovereign of Europe. (fn. 69) "Great injury," says De Praet, "has been done to the Emperor's honour and reputation by such an act. For a thousand years there is no instance on record of ambassadors of allied and friendly powers having their correspondence violated and divulged, much less of their being forbidden to write to their kings and masters." (fn. 70) It is hard to imagine the motive for a proceeding so arbitrary and offensive, unless it were the Cardinal's intention to show how little he was awed by that authority to which the rest of the world was inclined to pay such profound and implicit homage. It could not be denied that Wolsey for some time past had expressed in very plain and unambiguous language his opinion of the Emperor, the Archduke, and the lady Margaret. He had condemned, in terms more candid than courtly, their shallow tricks and subterfuges, their transparent excuses for evading their engagements; but he had never yet been so far transported by indignation as to impound the correspondence of their ambassadors. Strange to say, his conduct on this occasion was warmly defended by his master. The King wrote a letter, in his own hand, to the Emperor, condemning the conduct of his minister, and insisting on his punishment, in very explicit terms. (fn. 71) He carried his displeasure so far as to refuse to listen to any remonstrances that could be urged in mitigation of the ambassador's misconduct. De Praet was confined to his house until the nomination of his successor; for all reconciliation was found to be impossible. (fn. 72)
The Emperor's indignation.
When the news reached Madrid the whole court was in a ferment. (fn. 73) So great an affront called for signal punishment, and the Emperor, it was urged, must vindicate the honor of his ambassador, lest others should follow Wolsey's example. But here, again, the moderation of Charles saved him from extremities. He wrote, indeed, to De Praet, expressing great displeasure at the insult. He did not intend to let the matter pass unnoticed, for God had given him the power to maintain his dignity; but he would for the present disguise his resentment until he had heard further particulars. Meanwhile, he desired to know whether the ambassador could not suggest some means by which the Emperor might punish the Cardinal (fn. 74) without incurring any serious risks to his own interests. Shortly after, on receiving a more explicit statement of what had taken place, he informed the ambassador that his honor was safe in the Emperor's keeping. At some future time, whenever the opportunity offered, he might be satisfied that full reparation should be demanded. (fn. 75) It is to be hoped that De Praet was satisfied with this assurance, and his wounded honor effectually salved.
He restrains it.
To Sampson, the English ambassador, such an outrage appeared little less than insanity; still more when the Emperor, in the mildest possible way, remonstrated with him on the indignity. After expressing his entire confidence in the King, Charles could not help lamenting the shock his confidence in Wolsey had sustained by his late proceedings. The injury was the less excusable, because in this time of "most fervent war," when the French king was in prison, Joachim had been so long retained in England, that his friends believed that Henry had forsaken the Emperor, and was providing for himself. It was the more strange, he said, and indefensible, because such interception of his ambassador's letter was violare jus gentium;—so much Latin his Majesty had learned, remarks Sampson. (fn. 76) Some say, he continues, that unless the Emperor had been well assured of the King's constant mind, he would have taken this interception of his ambassador's letters as a clear case of rupture; for unless those who were guilty of it were punished, it must have been "a prepensed matter;" nor was it less dishonorable to the King, "that his most friend's ambassador should not be at liberty. The whole court was more moved than the good Emperor." Those who were of the best mind thought that Wolsey should accept the ambassador with a new reconciliation, for the joy of the news and victory at Pavia. "I writ, Sir, to your Grace, thus clearly to advertise the same of the truth plainly; for other towardness I perceive nothing in them or any of them; but the more that is spoken of matter, the more they be moved." Sampson was no seer. Charles knew his own interests too well to sacrifice them to any transient resentment.
Splendid and dazzling as was his fortune at this moment, no one perhaps understood more clearly than himself how slippery was the foundation on which it rested. He could not afford to quarrel with England; least of all to show his displeasure to the Cardinal, whose policy he most dreaded, and whose sagacity he had hoped to blind. He would gladly have detached the King from the Cardinal, had it been possible; and, therefore, he made it a point to insist the more on his unshaken regard and affection for the former, whenever he dropped any remarks disparaging to the latter. Though the victory at Pavia had filled Italy with consternation, it had made every Italian potentate look to his own safety, and band together for protection against the common enemy. Charles was just as unable as ever to provide the necessary sums for keeping his army on foot, and he hoped by doulce means and fair promises to obtain that pecuniary aid from the States he certainly would never have obtained, had he showed any symptoms of vindictiveness, or betrayed his intention of prosecuting his victory at their expence. In a curious document in the possession of Don Pascual Gayangos, and published in his Calendar, (fn. 77) a list will be found of the various sums proposed to be levied on the different Italian powers, amounting to 288,000 ducats, towards covering the expences of the war. To any sovereign this was a large sum; to Charles, penniless in the midst of his good fortune, and without hope of extorting money from England, it was most desirable. But for any chance of obtaining it the Emperor must assume a magnanimity by no means native to his character. "The Pope and the rest of the Italian powers," writes his minister, Soria, then in Genoa, "are afraid lest your Imperial Majesty should show resentment at their late conduct, and wish to chastise them for their misdeeds. I have told them that your Imperial Majesty will forget and forgive all offences, and say to them, Recedant vetera, nova sint omnia. It would be advisable that all your ministers and agents in Italy should dissemble and use a similar language, but I hear they do not." (fn. 78)
Desires to keep on good terms with Wolsey.
It was then necessary for him to keep on good terms with Henry and his minister. The least show of displeasure would invest the confederation of Italy with spirit and proportions fatal to the Emperor's designs. If he resented the insult, and broke with England, the sole inducement which kept Wolsey firm to his alliance would exist no longer. On his part the Cardinal was equally reluctant to come to an open rupture, for he still hoped to recover from the Emperor some portion of the sums that England had lent him, or some equivalent in their stead. The alienation of Wolsey would throw him at once into the arms of France, and relieve its King from all fears of an English invasion. Francis would become less manageable,—less willing to accede to the Emperor's demands. Nor, in the view of a better understanding between the two Crowns, could the Emperor ever feel confident that any proposals he might secretly make to the French king would not be divulged to Wolsey, and be turned against himself. All that he wanted was to gain time, and in the meanwhile keep his real designs as secret as possible both from friends and enemies.
The feeling is reciprocal.
But though the Cardinal had disposed of the Imperial ambassador, and shuffled him off the stage, in a curt and unceremonious manner, it was not his policy to quarrel needlessly with the Emperor. He protested that his late act had been dictated entirely by the purest zeal to maintain undiminished the amity between Charles and his master. Nothing but Henry's implicit trust in the Emperor, which Wolsey had always used his best endeavours to promote, would have persuaded the King to tolerate an ambassador so inexpert and unmeet for his office as De Praet. "I have never done anything that I know," he says, in a letter addressed to the Emperor, (fn. 79) "to the prejudice of your affairs, or the person of your Majesty, as some ill-intentioned people may have had the boldness to surmise; which assertion, most confidently put forward, gives me courage humbly to request that your Majesty, for the purgation and discharge of my poor honor and reputation, will cast off and reject the indiscreet, disloyal, false, and abusive reports and advices of the sieur De Praet, your resident ambassador at this Court, whom I have all the time, and for your sake, treated as favorably and affectionately as if he were my own brother." The Emperor was equally civil and sincere on his part. At least he told Sampson, the English ambassador, "That he never suspected Wolsey, although some things had been done in England much to the hindrance of his affairs, and the Cardinal had many times made use of expressions which excited the suspicions of De Praet. Still he considered the Cardinal his very good friend; and as he was faithful to his master, he could not but be faithful to the Emperor also." (fn. 80)
A trial of skill between them.
The contest now resolved itself into a trial of diplomatic skill between Charles V. and the Cardinal. Other actors in the scene, even the Pope himself, sunk for a time into the subordinate condition of pawns in a game of chess, whose movements are determined by the will or necessities of the master pieces on the board. The ingenuity of both was sharpened in the encounter. Both were wary; both were ready to employ any device which promised advantage to either. That they should cordially hate each other was natural; but that either of them should express that hatred, as popular historians imagine, by gratuitous discourtesy, or ostentatious absence of apparent cordiality, is to mistake the character and the abilities of both. The popular belief that Charles from this time withheld in his letters to Wolsey those phrases of official deference and respect, he had been wont to use at an earlier period of their acquaintance, is founded on a mistake. It rests on no better ground than the other supposition, that Wolsey postponed the interest of his country to his own passions, and revenged himself upon the Emperor for neglecting to assist him in securing the Papacy. Both felt alike that they were engaged in an intricate game; and both were too skilful—both too much interested in the result—to misapply their energies like meaner men, or expose themselves to disadvantage by any useless gratifications of ill temper. But Wolsey was unduly weighted. He had other interests to distract his attention, and other wishes than his own had to be consulted. At no period in his life was Henry the most tractable or self-denying of sovereigns; at no time would he have been slow in sacrificing his ablest minister, rather than incur the temporary odium of an unpopular measure. Whether he had at this early date begun to grow weary of Katharine, it is impossible to say. Perhaps he scarcely knew himself the state of his own mind, or the exact bent of his inclinations. Still, if Katharine took any interest in politics, it was impossible that she should not view with some feeling of dislike the actions of a man whose will was, in appearance, though certainly not in reality, omnipotent with her husband. It is scarcely possible that she should not have used what influence she still possessed in favor of her nephew. That she corresponded with him is undeniable.
The Emperor's aims.
Charles had no intention of allowing his secret purposes to transpire. He was a master of dissimulation; and the historian finds it by no means an easy task to fathom his real designs. Great as was the victory at Pavia, it had as yet been unproductive of any advantage beyond the possession of the King's person. Its substantial importance would depend upon the amount of money or territory that Charles could extort from the wishes or the fears of his unhappy prisoner,—how far, whilst his worst foe remained caged up, he might take the opportunity of securing his conquests in Italy, or invading France. But to do one or the other an army must be maintained; and Charles had no money. Negotiations were cheaper—if only they were speedy—if only Henry could be persuaded not to interfere between him and his prisoner; still better if he could be induced at a moderate expence—best of all at his own sole cost—to invade France, and enhance in the eyes of the world, and of Francis himself, the Emperor's magnanimity. To avoid displeasing Henry or his great minister—to distract their attention from his own designs—to blind and amuse them—above all, to exclude them from any share in the profits of his victory, by engaging their attention elsewhere—this was the policy of Charles. But the game was a delicate one. He was deeply in debt to the king of England, and, under one plea or another, had perpetually failed to fulfil his engagements. The shabbiest of Imperial debtors, he always apologised and never paid;—was always demanding an extension of time from his royal creditor, at the moment he was preparing to incur fresh obligations. With his disciplined armies and his military resources, he could have afforded to disregard the power or vengeance of England, if England stood alone; but he well knew that the success of his designs depended exclusively on the attitude taken by this country. He had his hold upon it by being its debtor,—by amusing it with promises of payment,—by the ambition, as he supposed, of Henry to be crowned king of France, in imitation of Henry V.; and he had as little intention of fulfilling his engagement in one case as in the other. But as every step he took towards his own designs was directly opposed to the interests either of his ally, or of his prisoner,—sometimes of both,—he had to fear lest haply they should come to a mutual understanding, and he should make an enemy of both. To keep them apart,—if possible, to make them suspicious of each other's intentions,—above all, to prevent the one from discovering the exact terms in which he was shaping his measures with the other,—these were the aims of the Emperor for the present.
On the other hand, various plans presented themselves to the Cardinal for counteracting the designs of his opponent. He might organise a formidable league; for in their dread of the Emperor's resentment, and still more of his interminable exactions, the Italians were willing to contribute 500,000 ducats for the maintenance of the war, if Henry would join it, and give his daughter in marriage to one of the French king's sons. (fn. 81) Or, he might, in the next place, find it possible to re-open negociations with Louise, and obtain more from the fears of Francis than he could hope to gain from the terrors of the Italians or the gratitude of the Emperor. Thirdly, he might assume as sincere the offers of the Emperor to assist his master in recovering his inheritance in France, and profit in various ways by any opportunities that might present themselves. But to join the Italian league openly was to declare war against the Emperor at once, and sacrifice all chances of recovering the debt he owed to England. War at so great a distance was costly and unpopular. England had no generals to oppose to Bourbon or Pescara, and their veteran captains and soldiers, flushed with their late victory, and well acquainted with the hardships and dangers of an Italian campaign. To open negociations directly with Louise was hazardous. She might betray them to the Emperor, in order to obtain the release of her son on easier terms. It was still more hazardous at this moment, when she was on her way to meet Charles, and no one knew precisely what concessions she was prepared to make, or what were her real intentions. This only was certain, so great was her affection for her son, so perilous was the position of his country, so apprehensive were the French of an English invasion,—their chief, in fact, their only fear, (fn. 82) —that every one believed she would readily make any sacrifice, short of the dismemberment of France, to procure his liberation. Without, therefore, entirely abandoning the prospect of either an Italian league or a French alliance, but rather, as will be seen hereafter, keeping both steadily in view,—Wolsey resolved for the present to urge the Emperor to a renewal of hostilities. The Emperor had written to his ambassador in England that he did not intend to disarm, and wished the King to follow his example, and join with him in prosecuting the war. He had instructed his aunt, the lady Margaret, to furnish Henry with troops and provisions. (fn. 83) Further, he had informed the French that the only terms of peace to which he could accede would be the cession to himself of Burgundy, the restoration to Bourbon of his rights, to Henry of his ancient provinces.
Wolsey's proposal to the Emperor.
It was not for the Cardinal to betray suspicions of the Emperor's sincerity, or reject his advances. He took the Emperor at his word; and as he had suggested that both should continue their warlike preparations, Wolsey was ready with a proposition which should not only secure peace for the present, but in all time to come. This was no less than the total exclusion of Francis and his son from the throne of France. If," he urged, "the French king, who is now a prisoner, be restored, he will not fail to seek oppor- tunities of revenging himself; therefore the only means of meeting the danger is that he and his succession should be utterly abolished." (fn. 84) This, he argued, would be the most effective of means for securing those rights on which Charles had insisted. As a proof of the sincerity of his intentions, he gave out that Henry was willing to join with the Emperor in an immediate invasion of France, lead his army in person, and contribute 200,000 ducats to the expences of the war. At its conclusion the King would accompany the Emperor to Rome; "by which means, and the possibility of Charles's marriage to the princess Mary, he would eventually become lord and owner of all Christendom."1 As an earnest of his intentions, it was intimated to the Emperor that the King was making all possible preparations for invasion; that he desired permission for the lady Margaret to raise 4,000 horse and 4,000 foot, at the expence of the Low Countries, to assist in the enterprise; that he intended, on his own part, to make up his army to 30,000 foot and 10,000 horse. (fn. 85) With these propositions there was sent, as from the princess Mary—at that time a flaxen-haired child only nine years old,—an emerald ring, as a love-token to the Emperor; "and you shall say," Wolsey instructs the ambassador, "that her Grace hath devised this token for a better knowledge to be had, when God shall give them grace to be together, whether his Majesty do keep himself as continent and chaste as, with God's grace, she woll, whereby ye may say his Majesty may see her assured love towards the same hath already such operation in her that it is also confirmed by jealousy, being one of the greatest signs and tokens of hearty love and cordial affection." (fn. 86) Though the Emperor was already indulging in the hope of superseding his engagements for a more advantageous match, and a less formidable father-in-law, he could not be so ungallant as to refuse the present; so he put it on his little finger, observing he would wear it for her sake. (fn. 87)
How far seriously intended.
It is not to be imagined that Wolsey deceived himself with the notion that the Emperor would accept so extravagant a proposal. He could never have supposed that Charles would heartily support the interests of his ally, and enthrone an independent monarch at Paris, far more formidable than the poor King he then held prisoner at Pizzighettone. He had, indeed, promised all this, and more, to obtain Henry's alliance; (fn. 88) but the flexibility with which Charles repudiated his obligations—professed to treat them as merely ceremonial—found paltry excuses for breaking his word—pleaded his own expences—pleaded poverty—pleaded anything, in short, rather than make good his engagements—must long since have convinced the Cardinal that the Emperor was not to be trusted. He had already expressed, in somewhat unceremonious language, his opinion of the Emperor's insincerity, and the folly of relying on such a broken reed. (fn. 89) He knew well that when Charles proposed an invasion of France, nothing was further from his intentions. He saw the difficulties brewing in the distance. For though Louise, uncertain of Wolsey's intentions, which apparently augured no good to France, had spoken of him unfavourably, and communicated to him none of her movements, he was kept well informed by the Pope of what was going on. Clement dreaded, as much as any other power in Italy, the cold, ambiguous, and resentful temper of the Emperor. He leaned entirely to France, and disliked the idea of a French invasion by England. He disliked still more the Imperial demand of 200,000 ducats. It boded no good to the patrimony of St. Peter that the Emperor still kept his troops in Parma, Piacenza, and Bologna, withholding their pay, and wasting the inheritance of the Church to the amount of 200,000 or 300,000 ducats more. A friend of Francis, he was not kept in ignorance of the designs of Louise, or of the offers she intended to make to the Emperor. If the Queen Mother, as an inducement to moderate his demands, betrayed to Charles any favourable advances made to her by England, the proposals offered by Charles to Louise were in their turn communicated to the Pope, and betrayed to Wolsey. In spite of appearances and professions, Wolsey knew well that war with France was not what the Emperor intended. He knew that the pay of his army in Italy, which cost 100,000 ducats a month, had fallen six or seven months in arrear; and the last instalment had been squandered by the officers, without any regard for their unfortunate soldiers. He had heard that Francis, who had always looked upon Bourbon with great disdain, "now talked and dallied with him familiarly." (fn. 90) These signs were not lost upon him. The good intelligence between the French and the Imperialists showed no indications of war on the part of the latter. Whatever Charles might pretend, Wolsey was not to be deceived as to his real intentions.
Warns the King against expecting anything from Charles.
But if there could be any room for doubt, his own letters are conclusive. In less than a fortnight after the proposal for invading France, and disinheriting its sovereign, he tells Tunstal that he had received information from the Pope that the French king's mother intended to repair to the Emperor." (fn. 91) "If she has power to treat," he adds, "it is not likely the Emperor will agree to a personal invasion, or do any great feat of war till he see what will ensue therefrom." Considering the uncertainty of all things, and the doubt how soon sufficient money could be levied, "though all the shires (in England) were ready to contribute," Wolsey had persuaded his master to abandon his design of conducting the invasion in person. Commenting on the tortuous but transparent policy of the Emperor to gain time, and avoid a direct answer, he had written to the King, "I doubt not but of your profound and great wisdom your Grace will facilely conject what this manner of proceeding doth imply." (fn. 92) The war, as he urged, would bring nothing to the King's benefit; and as for the Emperor's promises to be moderate in his demands, to the intent that the King's bargain with Francis might be the better, there was little or no chance they would be realized. The despatch received from the ambassadors then in the Emperor's Court, with Wolsey's caustic remarks on his duplicity, leave no doubt how Wolsey regarded the whole affair.
Lady Margaret's manœuvres.
As for the lady Margaret, she received the proposals for this formidable campaign, like a lady diplomatist, with her usual smiles and affability. For her part she preferred peace, but if the King and the Emperor desired war she would readily conform to their wishes. After many debates with the English agent, Fitzwilliam, protesting her willingness to aid, but ending in significant allusions to her poverty,—after many conclusions where nothing was concluded,—she referred him to the Emperor, who would determine the arrangements himself as soon as the English ambassadors arrived at the Imperial Court. (fn. 93)
The Emperor's counter-proposition.
June was approaching, and preparations for war would soon become impossible. Henry sent his ambassadors to Charles, desiring a positive delaration of what he intended in their common affairs. His army, he said, was ready: he was himself prepared to lead it in person, and only waited for the Emperor's reply. Next day the ambassadors of both Courts met in Council, and the English were asked to declare their intentions. They replied they had already made their demands; repeated them, and pressed for an answer. Three days later they met again, when the Chancellor entertained them with a long oration. The Emperor, he urged, had spent above a million and a half of ducats; by the aid of the Italian powers, and of contributions from Henry, he had disbursed the pay of his army, (fn. 94) but he still owed 570,000 ducats. The revenues of the Crown had been so much impaired by the rebellion in Spain during his absence, that he had no means of maintaining the war. In this perplexity he had summoned his nobles for aid to Toledo, but they had refused their consent to his leaving the kingdom until he was married to the princess Mary. In compliance with their wishes, he had written to Henry that she might be sent to Spain with a dowry of 400,000 ducats, (fn. 95) and if the King would contribute 200,000 crowns besides for the expence of the war, the Emperor would provide the rest. Here the Chancellor paused. He wished to know what the ambassadors had to say to this proposal. To send the Princess to Spain at nine years old, with more than half a million of ducats, was to throw more than half a million of ducats away, besides what the Emperor had borrowed already, and leave her a hostage in the Emperor's hands, not for their repayment, but their repudiation. The English ambassadors stood aghast at the unparalleled effrontery of such a proposal. They replied calmly that these conditions were very strange and discrepant from the former treaties, especially the delivery of the Princess at so young an age, and her conveyance to such a hot climate. Her dowry, they reminded the Imperial councillors, was only to be paid by instalments after her marriage, and such sums deducted from it as the Emperor owed to the King. Instead of the King contributing money to the Emperor, the Emperor was bound before the personal invasion to repay the King 150,000 crowns he had borrowed at his last journey into Spain, in addition to the King's indemnity. For the King to advance 400,000 crowns to the Emperor, 200,000 crowns for the army in Italy, and to bear his own expences besides, were terms wholly inadmissible. They could not believe that such proposals had emanated from the Emperor.
Desires to be excused from fulfilling his engagement with Mary.
A proposition so extravagant and so unreasonable was no more than a feint on the part of the Emperor. It was his object to make his demands as impracticable as possible, that the necessity of refusing them might furnish him with a pretext for evading his engagements. Notwithstanding all the anxiety he had expressed that Mary should be brought up in Spain, to learn the language and manners of the country, (fn. 96) —notwithstanding the seeming interest with which he listened to the ambassadors when they descanted on "the manifold seeds of virtues that were in my lady Princess," (fn. 97) —notwithstanding her poor emerald love-token worn on his little finger,—he had no intention to marry her. Two days passed; on Monday, May 29, the Chancellor told them the Emperor was greatly perplexed, as he could obtain nothing from the King—neither my lady Princess nor her dowry. Might it not be as well if the Emperor with the King's consent should take another wife; not a French woman, though great offers had been made in that quarter, but such as had been "long before motioned, and a million of ducats offered for her dote?" (fn. 98) This was his mode of announcing his determination to marry Isabella of Portugal. It was a foregone conclusion. But the ambassadors had one consolation to offer. Whatever Henry intended to do this summer—and they might equally have said the next—he would have to do it alone, for no help could be expected from the Emperor. Wrapped in the thickest and coarsest fleece of self-interest, it would be vain to appeal to him to take greater heed to his word, and fulfil his engagements. The King might do better, they thought, by keeping my lady Princess at home until she came of age, when many princes might hope for her hand, and this could not be if she were affianced to one. "By consenting to the Portuguese marriage," said they, "the King will defeat any scheme of Charles with Madame d'Alençon—(whose husband was just dead),—with whom great offers will assuredly be made. The Spaniards are anxious for the Emperor to marry, as his brother Fernando is not likely to have children, his wife being corpulent; but the Council do not talk of this. We certainly think," they said, "from the Chancellor's words, that the Emperor will not co-operate with the King in an invasion either this year or the next." (fn. 99) If Wolsey ever seriously contemplated the conquest of France, or the King still dreamt of a coronation at Paris, that dream was now dissipated. It is probable, however, that the thoughts of both were turned in an opposite direction.