Mary
January 1557

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Institute of Historical Research

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William B. Turnbull (editor)

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1861

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281-287

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'Mary: January 1557', Calendar of State Papers Foreign, Mary: 1553-1558 (1861), pp. 281-287. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=70441 Date accessed: 16 September 2014.


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January 1557

1556–7. Jan. 13.
Poissy.
568. Dr. Wotton to Queen Mary. The person [Lant] who had engaged to inform him of the proceedings of Dudley and the rebels, having not kept his promise, he had made inquiries of the merchant, and was told that he had been again at Guisnes, had crossed from thence to England, and was again returned to Rouen. Sent a servant thither, but the man had left ere he arrived, being, as he told the merchant, so pressed by Dudley to go a journey, that he could not well avoid it. As soon as he returns, the merchant will certify Wotton, who thinks it strange that the man should have been to England and neither espied nor met with. Although the Council of Calais think that Devisat went about no secret practice against them, yet Wotton is advertised from Paris that the common report there is it lacked but little that Calais was not delivered to the French King; and he knows that one of his servants who was there during the alarm was, on his return near Montreuil, examined there by the Captain of the death of Tuckfield, calling him Touteville, which was his real name, and also whether Devisat had assuredly escaped or not. This seems suspicious, and various conjectures makes him think that Devisat left not such a mignonne dame as his wife is at Paris to teach children at Calais, when he could do so at the former place with more ease and pleasure, and probably with less profit than he did in Calais, for he is well learned and writes a verse very well. Considering his previous offences, had thought the occasion was good to have had him into England and examined there, whereby probably more might have been brought to light than is now likely ever to be. The Duke of Alva, after leaving Ostia well garrisoned, is said to have withdrawn his camp, being in great necessity, especially for horse-meat. The Duke of Guise having arrived at Turin, hasted the rest of his army to follow thither as fast as the season of the year will permit. It is thought he will march on Milan, and having joined the forces of the Duke of Ferrara, who has 5,000 or 6,000 foot, he may do great things, unless King Philip be able to resist him. The Duke's aim being to exalt his house, he will not fail to attempt much. Brissac, being somewhat better, has returned to Piedmont. The Pope has sent hither Giulio Orsino, who had audience of the King upon the 5th, his object, it is said, being to certify the King of the Pope's assured mind to him, and that he will have no peace with King Philip, so that nothing is looked for but sharp war; and considering the state of matters in Italy, his Majesty's interest there stands in very great danger. His Majesty therefore should use all diligence to resist and annoy his enemies, whose forces it were happy if they might be somewhat weakened, or at least diverted, before the Turk's navy come, which they say will be in greater number this summer than ever they were wont to be. About three weeks past Dudley arrived here in post to the Court, where he still remains, lodging at Poissy and Paris alternately three or four days at a time, and on the last occasion was lodged at St. Germain by the King's fouriers. So does Thomas Stafford, but he only lodged here one night. Both have suits at the Court, for what he cannot certainly learn; although some say Dudley sues for his companions to be set awork, and have the leading of some bands of men. It is probable, however, that Stafford is here for some greater matter, as he is told that he is appointed to follow the King, who has left for Anet, and will not return before the end of the month. The Dauphin, the young Queen of Scots, and a great portion of the Court remain here. Stafford seems now to be more made of, and rides in greater company than he was wont to do. Sends herewith inclosed certain words which, as he is credibly informed, are truly excerpted out of the process between Thomas and Sir Robert Stafford (missing). For all their former friendship, Sir Robert Stafford and Dudley recently fell out, but now meeting at the Court, they either are or shall be reconciled again. Captains are daily dispatched from the Court to make up their bands; among others Claver, who, being at length released from prison, is like to have his commission renewed. The Baron De la Garde lately came to the Court in post, and is now dispatched again. It is said the French will set up a new fort at Dampierre, very near to New Hesdin, and another at St. Pol. Since writing the preceding, understands that Thomas Stafford and Dudley have returned to Paris, with less success than they expected; but the latter has received 500 crowns. The French have failed upon an attempt at Cambray. Count Mansfeldt having paid his ransom, and having a passport, was stayed at Peray on his way home three days. Hears that Asheton has armed a bark and sent her to the seas, and that there are being fitted out six or seven ships of war at Havre de Grace, and much haste made on one of 600 tons. Does not hear of any being in preparation at Dieppe. [Seven pages. Cipher, deciphered.]
Jan. 13.
Poissy.
569. Dr. Wotton to Sir William Petre. Here is no talk but of war, which is likely to commence shortly; for the more loth his Majesty shows himself to come to it, the bolder the French are to enterprise against him, probably thinking that his Majesty does from fear what he does for conscience sake. Prays God this good mind of his may not have made him somewhat too slow in preparing for the war, for the French are ever fiercest at the beginning, which being past, they are easy enough to be dealt with. As Christmas is past, hopes soon to hear of his revocation, as her Majesty has signified he shall not long remain here. Has heard Petre complain of lack of men to be sent Ambassadors, which, using the matter as he does, is no great marvel, since he will send forth none, but keep them still in store at home. Hears that Thomas Stafford has made process at Rouen against Sir Robert Stafford for injurious imprisonment, and that Sir Robert has been cast in heavy damages; but the suit is now brought to Paris, where both parties are, and where they go not abroad but with good bands of men in their company. And that Sir Robert one day meeting with Bryan Fitzwilliams, one of T. Stafford's great companions, called him traitor, to which the other retorted that he lied. On this defiance they happened on the afternoon of new year's day to meet on the bridge of Notre Dame well accompanied; when Sir Robert, being unarmed, gave straight the onset and fought with Bryan, who was armed, no man else meddling in their quarrel. The result was that Sir Robert was slightly wounded in the left arm; and his friends say, that had he been armed, or Bryan unarmed, the latter had not escaped as he did. Hears also that Sir Robert says Thomas Stafford is a traitor to the French King, calling himself next to the crown of England, because thereby he does wrong to the Queen of Scots, who, he says, is next heir thereto. Further that T. Stafford has obtained letters at the Court for the sale of Sir Robert's goods at Rouen, to satisfy the sentence in the suit. Formerly wrote of Chillester, of counsel with them who coined money at Oxford, but who, as he says, coined none for himself; this man sues to him importunely for payment, and receives for reply "that he can do no more than he has done, that is to say nothing at all?" Chillester states that prior to his flight, on learning that their doings were discovered, and Mr. Bedingfield and others were coming to Oxford to prosecute inquiries, he buried certain coining wedges or stamps in the ground in a spot known only to himself, and if these should chance to be found by any person they may be applied to the same felonious use. Wherefore duty and conscience make him desirous that they should be reconveyed to the Tower, whence they were taken, and he can by no means direct any man to find them. Thinks it no hurt to advertise Petre hereof. Much suspects this being at the Court of Thomas Stafford and Dudley, especially as both were lodged by the King's fourier within the town of St. Germain, and Stafford kept house and a good table. They probably both received money, for he knows both of them were with the Tresorier de l'espargne, whereas in time past either of them would have been content to lodge or dine in a tent or cabaret. And when he considers a letter of this Stafford lately received by her Majesty, the words of his process, his being called by his men "my lord," and his late usage at the Court, these things make him to muse at them. Since writing thus far has heard that T. Stafford uses the full arms of England on his seal, without any difference; and that in his suit against Sir Robert he demands but 17,000 crowns! Also that Sir Robert has been condemned to him at Rouen in 120 francs only, making about 52 crowns and a little odd money, not by sentence definitive, but by an interlocutory upon a contumacy by negligence of Sir Roberts' procureur, who did not put in such caution at a day appointed as was decreed. But the principal Sir Robert is in good hope to obtain, unless the other can prove himself to be as he names himself in his process. Hears that Asheton and the Horseys have quarrelled with Dudley, because the latter has received their pensions and paid them none of it. The elder Horsey, he weens, is married in Normandy, and Dudley goeth about the like. [Cipher, deciphered. Four pages.]
Jan. 21.
Poissy.
570. Dr. Wotton to Queen Mary. Has at length had an interview with Lant, who informed him that the French might very easily have taken Guisnes by some intelligence therein, and certainly would have done so, but now that there are men of war in the town it cannot be taken but by siege, which now that the place is better victualled were like to continue longer than they would. That were the town once taken they put no doubt but to have the castle without delay, but the former being well kept, the latter is impregnable; and if order had not speedily been given it had plainly been lost. Firmly denies that he knows the names of those of Guisnes who were of this practice, but the person with whom he had spoken, and did know them, was one Langford, who lately used much to be at Calais and Guisnes, and now seeing he cannot bring his matters to pass has come hither into France. Lant, who had formerly asserted to the merchant, Wotton's correspondent, and also to Wotton's servant, that he possessed certain letters of the Earl of Devonshire, now denied not only that he had any but also that he had said so to the servant, with whom he was confronted and alleged that he had only spoken of such letters to the merchant to induce him to bring Lant in communication with Wotton more speedily, wherefore concludes "that he must be a very false liar, or else it repenteth him to have declared so much of these matters as he has done." Lant further mentioned that the French soldiers now gathered upon the frontiers, who lately attempted to take Megny and other places of King Philip, were not sent thither for that purpose but for the matter of Guisnes, and if Dudley had gone there at a time when he was sent for, such matters would have taken effect which by his negligence did not. Dudley has advised the King to make a fort upon a little hill by Newnam-bridge, and if this were done, that place cannot resist two hours unless two more bastions are built, in which event it might very well be defended. Lant had heard that Senarpont much laments the death of Tuckfield, because he and Devis at intended to have set on fire the powder and munition in Calais, which they might easily have done, for there is a place where appears out a piece of timber as thick as a man's arm, which they would have cut out and with no difficulty have effected their design. This had better be looked to, as the French knowing thereof may yet seek to have it done by some other. Also mentioned that he heard Devisat say, that after he escaped out of Calais he was hidden three days in a man's house in the country by a young maid, whose parents knew nothing of it, and that he found the means to send her to Ardres, under pretence of going to the market, to declare to the Governor that the Frenchman who had leapt the walls of Calais was hidden in her father's house, and entreated the Governor to send some company of men of war to carry him away safe and to send him 25 crowns, which was done accordingly. Further, that after Devisat was returned into France he sent a letter to the Treasurer of Calais, which falling into the Admiral's hands was opened, and thereupon the Admiral stood awhile in doubt whether he should allow it to pass, but at the last he was content it should. Lant has promised him very earnestly, that if he perceives anything to be wrought against the realm of England he will not fail to give Wotton notice of it. It is said that the Duke of Guise was appointed to march on the 7th of this month, but no news have arrived of anything done by him. Is informed by merchants from Rouen that although the French have released some of King Philip's subjects, others are still detained prisoners there. [Ciphered, deciphered. Six pages.]
Jan. 21.
Poissy.
571. Dr. Wotton to Sir William Petre. Has informed her Majesty of his communication with Lant. Has had further interview with him, when he talked very mysteriously of a plot against the Queen, which he said was devised by some of the best in England, and so many were agreed thereupon that it was impossible but that it must take effect; that the matter had been in hand about a year ago, and would have been executed, but that one man stayed it for a while; that it had been kept so close that never one uttered a word of it; that even if it were disclosed now it could not be remedied, the parties concerned being so strong and so many; that the chiefest conspirators were such as had never offended the Queen before, and that the matter should begin in the evening, and the next day by eight of the clock in the morning it should be done. That their intention was not to kill her Majesty "but to deprive her of her estate, and then may she chance to be used as she used Queen Jane, for so he called her." Further that they who were about it would not agree that any foreign Prince should have meddling in it, that neither Dudley nor others of that set are privy to it, that he himself and another Englishman have it in hand, and albeit no stranger is in the secret, all the devices and order taken for executing the plot were made in France. On this confession of his being implicated in the design, had endeavoured to dissuade Lant, and among other things told him what a great offence it was for any subject to rebel against the powers, and that although he were of another belief than was received in England, yet were it not lawful for him or any one else to rebel against her Majesty, not even if it were notorious that his belief was good and the other not good, much less now, "and rehearsed him certain examples of the Old Testament, so that at the last he said that he thought it was not lawful for him to do it, although his meaning was good, which was to bring the realm again to that religion it was in of late," and that though he would meddle no further in it, nevertheless it would take effect, and as it would seem in a month hence or thereabouts. Could not make him see that he was bound in conscience to disclose all. Doubted whether he should write of this, not only because he had found this naughty fellow in diverse lies before, but because there were so many improbabilities in his tale. Instances as one of these lies, that he had told the merchant of Rouen that he had been in England since he spoke to Somer, and now he denies this to Wotton, saying he was not in England these two years; "so that to either of us both he lied, and I believe that he lied to me, for I think he was in England of late, by a shirt which appeareth to have been made there, and a coat of frieze which he weareth, and by his long absence from Rouen." With all its apparent unworthiness of credit, thinks it right to apprize Petre, although he did not think it necessary to write thereof to her Majesty lest she might suddenly be troubled with it, and conceive some greater fear of it than were good for her to do. But when Petre shall think it expedient he may declare the same at such time and in such sort that it shall not disquiet her Majesty more than reason would require it should do. Suggests the possibility of Lant being suborned by the French King, who stands in great fear of her Majesty aiding King Philip in the war, and therefore would seek to persuade her rather to take heed to herself and her own realm than to do so. Although this naughty fellow has kept no promises to Wotton, yet as he has earnestly affirmed that he will disclose any practices against the realm, (not against the Queen, to whom he bears no good will, and says he will never dwell in England while she lives,) thought it good not to show himself by words much discontented with him, but if he be of that mind indeed, sharper words might perhaps make him change his intention therein. [Cipher, deciphered. Five pages.]
Jan. 30.
Rome.
572. Sir Edward Carne to Queen Mary. Since his last letter of the 23d, Pietro Strozzi, General of the Pope's army, being determined on taking the Spanish fort in Ostia, set forth every engine necessary; and having, besides the French soldiers that lay in siege there, 30 out of every band of French in this city, on the 24th gave it a battery of great ordnance, making a little breach, and giving notice that unless those within surrendered the place, it should be taken by assault, and none suffered to escape alive. The scaling-ladders and storming-party were in readiness, when the captains agreed to surrender, upon condition that they might depart with their ensigns in order of war, with no more than they could carry on their backs, and only one piece of ordnance. This being granted, Strozzi took possession of the place for the Pope, with all its contents, which, according to report, were so plenty, not only of all necessaries able to serve the fort for years, with all kinds of munition and many goodly pieces of great artillery, but also all manner of engines for crossing rivers, such as the Pope had not the like. The excuse for surrender was the lack of fresh water and fuel, and that the new fort made by the Pope's army did shoot into the Spanish fort. But it is privately said that the captains sold it for money; which is by no means improbable, as the fort could not be very well assaulted, for the ditch and water about it, and the sureness of the wall with the flankers, without the loss of a great number. Besides, the breach was not such but one man within was better than 10 without. Moreover, the two chief captains are here; one with Strozzi, the other with Matheo Standerdo, a kinsman of his Holiness, and one of his principal officers, which seems as if they had not dealt truly. The rest of the soldiers that left the fort were spoiled on their way to Naples by the garrison of Veletri. The Pope keeps the fort standing until he has fortified Ostia, and built a new one in the middle of the island to keep both sides of it, when they say it shall be razed. The Pope has published a bull directing a new audience to be kept every month, presided over by himself, and attended by all the Cardinals and other officials, in the King's Hall in his palace, for the purpose of hearing complaints whencesoever they may come. The first was held on the 27th, when nothing particular was done, except after Oration some supplications were delivered and committed by his Holiness to such as he thought meet. After that the Te Deum was sung, and the audience [was kept]. The taking of Ostia has much comforted the Court, as they think that the other castles occupied by the Duke of Alva shall be easily won again; besides, Ostia was of more importance to this city than all the rest. The Pope's troops have moved to Tivoli. The French are said to have taken a town in Lombardy, near Casale, called Barlanicia, on the Po, and that the Duke of Guise marches forward. Cardinal Caraffa remains in Bologna till he comes with his army there, and then hither.[Three pages.]