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Pascual de Gayangos (editor)

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'Introduction', Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 5 Part 1: 1534-1535 (1886), pp. I-XIV. URL: Date accessed: 21 April 2014. Add to my bookshelf


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Within the short period of time embraced in the present volume, the fifth of the series,—from the 1st of January 1534 to the 31st of December 1535,—important events, more or less closely connected with English history, took place. No sooner were the conferences of Marseilles between pope Clement and king Francis I. at an end, than, at the pressing solicitation of the Imperial ambassadors at Rome, the former gave his unreserved attention to the divorce suit instituted since 1529. After a monitory breve exhorting Henry to lead a marital life with his repudiated Queen, a second and more astringent one was issued declaring the marriage to have been valid, and the dispensation of pope Julius legal. Should king Henry fail in obedience to this judgment, he was to be considered as excommunicated from the fellowship of the Church, and as having forfeited the allegiance of his subjects; in other words, if within four months of the promulgation of the sentence—which was to be posted at the door of certain churches in Flanders—Henry did not obey the injunctions of the Holy See, he was to be deposed, and the Emperor entrusted with the execution of the sentence.

However desirous Charles may have been of the Papal award in this particular case, it is evident that he reluctantly accepted the charge imposed upon him. After trying, though in vain, to induce Francis to work conjointly with him for Henry's deprivation, alluring the former with the prospect of the recovery of Calais and other towns in Picardy, the Emperor promised his aid, though in such general and vague terms that Clement himself was dissatisfied, occasionally signifying his discontent to the Imperial ambassador in rather angry terms. In January 1534, count Cifuentes wrote to Covos: "Out of spite at my not answering in more explicit words his repeated questions as to the way and manner in which his Majesty intends helping toward the execution of the sentence, his Holiness of late has attempted to negociate directly with his Majesty through the viceroy of Naples (Don Pedro de Toledo). Last week Don Pedro sent his nephew, who, since his arrival in ome, has visited the Pope every evening, and transacted with him State business of some kind, which I strongly suspect is concerned with the sentence and its execution. Your Lordship ought to try and put a stop to that, without, however, letting the Viceroy know that I am the informer and have complained of it; for he is my friend, and I would not for the world offend him."

Clement died on the 25th of September 1534, and a few days after, on the 13th of October, cardinal Alessandro Farnese was elected pope under the name of Paul III. Of this Pope's vacillating politics, of his unremitting exertions for the aggrandizement of his family, as well as for the increase of the temporal power of the Church in Italy, sufficient proofs are given in the pages of this Calendar. It is enough to say that by courting Francis' friendship, at the same time that he showed great affection for Charles by conciliating the Venetians, and, like his predecessor in the pontificate, delaying, as much as he could, the meeting of the General Council, he became, as it were, the balance of power in Italy. On the first application made by the Imperial ambassador for the "executory letters," pope Paul showed unwillingness to issue them, on the plea that Henry would thereby become exasperated, and that he still hoped that Henry, through the influence of his friend and ally Francis, would return to the obedience of the Holy See. It was not until after the proclamation in June 1534, declaring king Henry head of the Church in England, the execution of the Carthusians in London, that of Chancellor More on the 6th of July, and one month after that of Fisher, the bishop of Rochester, recently raised to the purple, that his hesitation ceased, and that he appointed a number of cardinals to reconsider the matter, and draw out the "executory letters" of the sentence, a draft or rough copy of which was submitted to the Imperial ambassador for approval. As the letters, such as they were, have not been published in full, it is difficult to say what their express wording was, but it appears from Cifuentes' despatch of the 8th of October, that some words, equally objectionable, nay, injurious (fn. 1) to the Queen, to the Princess her daughter, and to the Emperor, or to their dignity and rank, were found in them, and were, at Cifuentes' request, either changed or modified.

Charles, however, was not so eager for the "executory letters" now as he had been at one time. During the first month of Paul's pontificate he had been working seriously for a reconciliation, first with Francis, and afterwards with Henry. In order to detach the former from the English alliance, he had offered him, through Mr. de Nassau, the investiture of Milan for his son Charles duke of Angouléme, besides the hand of princess Mary with the brilliant prospect of the succession to the crown of England. The negociation proving unsuccessful, Charles turned towards Henry, and tried to persuade him to forsake the French alliance, and, if unwilling to side with him in the approaching contest and deadly war (the Emperor was at that time contemplating the invasion of Provence), to remain at least neutral.

And yet both Katharine's party and the clergy in England were daily pressing for the execution of the sentence. On the 30th of June 1534 Chapuys wrote to Granvelle: "You should remind the Emperor, our master, that the advice of all sensible and worthy people in this country has been, and is still, that if in virtue of the 'executory letters' the intercourse of trade with the Low Countries and Spain were to be interdicted, all classes of society here, in England, would at once rise rise in rebellion, and would of themselves apply a remedy to the evil, whatever our present differences with France may be. If the 'executory letters' were made out and published. Lord Hussey assures me all the rest would go on smoothly, and the English clergy would gladly furnish the funds required for the undertaking in the first instance. Indeed, I know, as a fact, that at this very moment means to win over king Henry to the Church, equally injurious to the Queen and the Princess, as well as detrimental to Christian morality, are being tried, and that the bishop of Paris (Jean du Bellay) is going to Rome to get them accepted by the Pope."

During the above period, when Charles had not yet lost all hope of reconciliation with Henry, and had instructed his ambassador at Rome not to press too much for the "executory letters," and, if already made out, to procure a draft of them, and keep the thing secret until it should be convenient to have them published, the excessive zeal of Dr. Ortiz, that warm devotee of the Apostolic See, was on the point of defeating all his plans. It was not to be expected that a politician of the stamp of Charles, who was at that time courting Henry's friendship, and who, in order to obtain, as for a time he effectually did, a better treatment of Katharine and Mary, had promised Cromwell, through the Imperial ambassador (Chapuys), that, should the respective rights of that Queen and Princess be recognised, and Henry's reconciliation with the Holy See effected, he would use all his influence at the future General Council so as to prevent any injury being done to his (Henry's) honor and reputation, and, if necessary, would ask Paul's permission for Henry to retain and apply to his own use a good portion of the property taken from the English Church, would, under such circumstances, endorse the "bull of deposition," and become, as it were, the executor of it. Just at this critical moment, when Cromwell's repeated assurances to Chapuys of Henry's favorable disposition, and of his own attachment to queen Katharine and princess Mary, as well as to the Emperor—from whom he had received a holograph letter expressing his warmest thanks for his exertions in their favor—some cardinals at Rome asked Dr. Ortiz how it was that the "executory letters" were not applied for when the clauses and words objected to had been altered or entirely removed at the request of the Emperor's officials. Ignoring that Cifuentes, the ambassador, had received positive orders from the Emperor to delay the issue as long as he could, or perhaps thinking that Katharine, with whom he was in private correspondence, might be better served through their publication, the fact is, that during that ambassador's temporary absence from Rome, having accompanied Paul to Perugia, he and Anguiano, Katharine's proctor, took the letters out and would have published them had not Cifuentes returned in time to stop the mischief. On the 8th of October 1535 that ambassador wrote to the Emperor: "Had I been at Rome then, I do not think I should have been able to detain the letters much longer without making your Majesty's wishes publicly known, which would have been highly impolitic. As it is, the executory letters are quite ready; nothing is wanted but the Pope's seal to them. They shall remain in my possession until I hear what is to be done with them; but I consider it my duty to inform your Majesty that matters are so far advanced that it will be impossible for me to delay their issue for many days, unless I let these people know that your Majesty does not choose to have them published just now." (p. 457.)

The term of four months allowed to Henry in the "bull of deposition" to return to the obedience of the Holy See had not expired when Katharine breathed her last at Kimbolton on the 7th of January 1536, and therefore there was no longer question of the "executory letters;" all the attention of Charles, and of his ambassador in England, being from that moment rivetted upon detaching Henry from his French alliance, and, after Anne Boleyn's death, ensuring the Princess' right to the succession.

Such are the events of a short period of two years, which, apart from the threatened Turkish invasion, Paul's vacillating policy, Francis' ambitious designs on Italy, England's fluctuating relations with Scotland, and disquieting state of discontent at home, besides the Irish rebellion and the spread of the Reformation, and so forth, afforded ample field for the display of that science called Venetian diplomacy, which, taking root during the XVIth century, developed itself and grew rapidly among the conflicting elements of European policy. Of the English actors in the drama then being enacted, and which later on had its "dénouement," the editor needs scarcely take any notice, that task having already been filled in a most satisfactory manner by Dr. Brewer and Mr. James Gairdner, both of the Public Record Office; his observations, therefore, such as they are, will be limited to Charles' statesmen, ministers as well as ambassadors, whose despatches, official notes, or private letters, are abstracted in the present volume. Among the former, Nicolas Perrenot stands prominent. Soon after the death of cardinal Mercurino Gattinara, whose secretary he probably was (June 1530), Perrenot was appointed Guardasellos or keeper of the Imperial Privy Seal. He seems to have resided some time in France as Charles' ambassador, for after Francis' return, and subsequent challenge to have their questions decided by single combat, he was confined to the castle of Vincennes, in retaliation for the arrest of the French ambassadors in Spain. After that, Nicolas Perrenot, better known as Monsieur de Grandvelle or Granvelle, from the name of a village in Burgundy, now in the modern department of France known as "La Haute Saone," which he bought soon after his entering the Emperor's service, conducted, conjointly with Covos, the complicated State affairs of the Empire until his death in 1544. One of his sons, named Antoine, who became bishop of Arrás, in Flanders, at the age of 23, archbishop of Malines (Mechlin) and afterwards of Besançon, president of the Council of Italy (1556), and lastly cardinal (1561), must already in 1534 have held the important office of Secretary of Requests (Secrétaire des Requêtes) in Flanders. That he was about that time in private correspondence with Chapuys, his father's intimate friend and "protégé," appears evident from their correspondence, which, though familiar and intimate, will materially help the reader to grasp certain important events of Henry's reign. Chapuys' letters to him—all of a semi-official character—are but few, and yet they are so interesting, and so full of detail, that it makes us regret that no more have been found in the Imperial Archives of Vienna. There is, however, a peculiarity in those of Antoine Perrenot to Chapuys, which has forcibly called the attention of those who have seen the originals, and remains yet unexplained. All are signed "Perrenin," instead of Perrenot. Is that the diminutive of the family name, or, as one might presume, a sort of familiar and childish term jocularly applied to him in his youth? and, if so, how is it that the Emperor's secretary in Flanders, and the son of so high a personage as Charles' lord Privy Seal, should, in an age of ceremonious and almost fastidious etiquette, sign his letters, however confidential, with a rather depreciative nickname? No clue to the mystery is to be found in the Belgian historians; neither in Gachard—to whose numerous works on the ancient history of Flanders and the Low Countries, both English and Spanish scholars are so much indebted,—nor in Weiss (Charles), who in 1841–51 published at Paris, under the auspices and at the expense of the French Government of that time, Papiers du Cardinal de Granvelle (9 vols. 4to), is there any key to the mystery, if, indeed, there exists any.

Of Don Fernando de Sylva or Silva, count of Cifuentes, who arrived at Rome in April 1533 as Charles' resident ambassador, enough has been said in the Introduction to the volume immediately preceding this. His disagreement and frequent quarrels with cardinal Merino have likewise been noticed (p. 266). Some time before Clement's death the feud between them became so violent, and their mutual recriminations so high, that they could no longer both remain at Rome as representatives of the Emperor's interests. Whilst the latter was instructing Silva to use the utmost diligence, and to employ all manner of persuasive arguments in order to obtain a full sentence on the divorce suit, as well as the formal convocation of the Council, cardinal Merino, out of gratitude for his elevation to the purple, was undoing the work of his colleague, and helping Clement in his shifting excuses to delay indefinitely the one and the other. In June 1534 that high dignitary of the Church wrote to the High Commander of Leon (Covos);—"It behoves us to treat his Holiness with greater consideration and regard than we are now doing, and not show such suspicion of him and his acts, because if ever he becomes aware of his having lost the Emperor's confidence, he is sure to lean to the side of France. And inasmuch as I perceive that the ambassador (Sylva) pushes him to the wall and mistrusts him, I am afraid that one of these days his despatches to the Emperor may provoke measures unsuitable for the present times. The Pope may have made promises, or taken engagements with our opponents, but still, in my humble opinion, he is far from declaring openly against the Emperor. If treated considerately, and if fair words are used, he may yet repent and be a good friend to us. That is supposing that he has done wrong; for if he has not, as I believe, our treatment of him ought to be one of implicit trust, since there is no earthly excuse for our dealing with him otherwise."

Merino ends his letter by requesting that another ambassador be sent soon to conduct pending negociations in a manner more congenial with Clement's temper, and the engagements he himself might have taken elsewhere, or, in other words, that king Francis should be gratified respecting the matrimonial cause of England, and the meeting of the General Council, the two pivots on which the political machine of that day seemed to turn!

Such a jarring element in the Emperor's councils could not exist long. Shortly after the death of Clement, and the elevation to the pontificate of Farnese under the name of Paul III., Merino, who, according to Sylva's own despatches, had been intriguing with Cornaro and other cardinals for his own election, (fn. 2) was either recalled or quitted Rome of his own accord.

Sylva accompanied Clement to Marseilles in October 1533, and although he did not attend the conferences between that Pope and Francis I., yet his diplomatic sagacity enabled him to unravel part of the mystery of that celebrated interview, at which, according to his own views, more mischief was brewed than could ever possibly be imagined. As his predecessor in office, Miçer Miguel Mai, Sylva openly spoke his mind about Clement. His despatches to the Emperor, and principally his letters to Covos, wherein he speaks with greater freedom, prove that he had no great confidence in him. His relations with Paul were carried on in a more straightforward manner, although at times he seems rather inclined to doubt his sincerity.

In France, Jean Hannart or Hannaërt, sieur of Lidkerke and viscount of Lombecke, a native of the Low Countries, was Imperial ambassador. His first despatch in this volume bears the date of the 31st January 1535, but he must have been appointed much earlier, for in a letter from Miçer Mai to the Emperor, dated Rome, 30 April 1532, (fn. 3) he is already mentioned as "Juan Anart;" and on the 6th of November of the same year he signs a letter at Amiens, whither he had, no doubt, repaired by the Emperor's express commands en route for Marseilles, the scene of the interview between Clement and Francis. At any rate, during the year 1535 he took a principal part in the negociations, which Charles had first entrusted to Henri, count of Nassau, (fn. 4) with a view to detach Francis from the English alliance, offering him as a bribe the investiture of Milan for his son, after the death, without male children, of its then possessor, the duke Francesco Sforza,—negociations, which, as is well known, came to nothing.

Of Charles's agents in Venice (Soria), in Genoa (Figueroa), and in Savoy (Hurtado), occasional notices have been given, and therefore there is no need to trouble the reader with repetitions of the same information. The same thing may be said concerning Noircames, D'Andalot, Cornelis Scepper, Tello de Guzman, Gutierre de Padilla, and other minor agents of the Emperor employed on missions of lesser importance.

In England Eustace Chapuys continued after the end of August 1529 to be Charles's ambassador. Having already mentioned him in the Introductions to preceding volumes, the editor might have well dispensed with the task of again referring to him, had not his despatches during the year 1534, and, above all, the new information acquired and set forth by Mr. Gairdner in the Introduction to the eighth volume of his Calendar, rendered it necessary that a few more words should be said about him and his correspondence. The abovementioned author has diligently procured from Annecy in Savoy direct information, which, though not exactly contradictory of that furnished by the present editor in Vol. IV., Part I., is well worth transcribing as complementary. It appears that Chapuys was born in 1499, and was therefore only 30 years old when he was first sent to England, in 1529. On the 24th of July 1517 he was elected secretary to Jean Louis de Savoie [bishop of Geneva?], and took the oath of his office on the 17th of August following. He then became dean of Vullionex on the 11th of August 1521, and after that privy councillor to the duke of Savoy (Carlo III.), who employed him in various missions. The Emperor Charles V., struck by his eloquence and manners, took him into his service, and sent him as his ambassador to Francis I. (fn. 5) and Henry VIII. He died at Louvain in Belgium on the 16th of January 1556. By his will, made five years before his death, and dated the 13th of December 1551, he bequeathed a sum of money (2,500 gold crowns) to found two colleges, one at Annecy for children, another at Louvain for bachelors of arts, civil and canon law, and medicine.

There is no need to repeat here what has already been said about his correspondence. With the exception of a few preserved at Simancas, all his letters are in the Imperial Archives of Vienna; but, the want of proper scribes in that capital, perhaps also the imperfect classification of the papers, have been the cause that one of Chapuys' despatches—a most important one, dated the 30th of September 1535,—came to hand too late to be inserted, and that three more of no less importance were never received. (fn. 6)

There is still another remark, or rather excuse, to be made in this matter by the editor. Some of Chapuys' letters are duplicate; besides the original ones there are at Vienna copies and decipherings made in Brussels at the beginning of this century. These last have occasionally side notes explanatory of the text; and sometimes, though rarely, the names of the persons alluded to, whenever they happen to be designated by their dignity, title, or office, are explained. Frequently this information is erroneous, and therefore great care and discrimination are required not to be misled by it. Thus, for instance, in his despatch to the Emperor, dated the 25th September 1535, Chapuys speaks of a Monsieur Leonard bringing to London as prisoner the earl of Kildare (lord Thomas FitzGerald), and on the margin is written in a modern hand, "i.e., Leonard, le fils de Scheventon,"—which is decidedly a mistake,—for although Sir William Skeffington, then commanding the Royal forces in Ireland, had a son named Leonard, it was not the latter, but Lord Leonard Grey, brother of the marquis of Dorset, who on the surrender of the Earl had the commission of conducting him to Henry's presence.


1 No. 209, p. 547.
2 The fact of his having aimed at the pontificate is recorded in an inedited and anonymous work preserved in the library of the Royal Academy of History at Madrid, written before 1547, in which, among various anecdotes concerning Rome, Flanders, and Spain, it is said that there was in that capital a prophecy announcing that after Clement's death an angel would be appointed Pope, and that in consequence of that, Gabriel Merino, who was called by derision Gabriclillo, and Fr. Francisco de los Angelos, by other name cardinal Quiñones, both Spaniards, had been working, though without success, to be elected.
3 Vol. IV., Part II, p. 436.
4 Nassau was the nephew of the chivalrous Philibert de Châlon, killed at Gavignana, between Florence and Pisa, during the siege of the former city (3rd Aug. 1530). He was the eldest son of Jean de Nassau, of the Dillemberg branch, and of Elizabeth of Hesse. In 1504 he married 1o, Louise de Savoie, daughter of Jacques comte de Romont; 2o, in 1517, Claude de Châlon, sister of Philibert, who died in 1521; and, lastly, Maria de Mendoza, marchioness of Zenete. He left a son, named René, who, upon the death of his mother Claude, became prince of Orange.
5 So stated in the account of the Mayor of Annecy, although there is every reason to suppose that Chapuys was never sent to France as ambassador. I must also observe that his name is therein differently written—Chappuis instead of Chappuys or Chapuys.
6 The former wsill be found in the supplement, pp. 608–11; as to the other three, bearing respectively the dates of the 28th January and 9th February 1535, as well as one from Chapuys to Granvelle, of the 11th July, they have already appeared in Mr. Gairdner's Vol. VII. under Nos. 122, 189, and 1018.