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Louis De Praet to Charles V.
Since my last letter I have been to see Wolsey to learn what
was decided about Capua's mission. He told me that, having
heard Capua's report and read your majesty's letter, the king,
his master, and he had decided to send a special courier to Rome
with their powers and instructions, to treat for a peace or truce.
They agreed that if Francis would not make peace, a truce should
be arranged as the pope wished, but since, like your majesty, they
prefer a peace to a truce, they advise that during the negotiations
Bourbon should cross the Alps to see what friends he can find in
France. It seems likely to the king and the cardinal that such
an invasion may greatly disturb the kingdom of France ; if it
does, the king of England is determined either to cross the sea in
person or to send a lieutenant with a good army, unless Bourbon's
invasion constrains Francis to offer advantageous peace terms.
If, however, Bourbon is unable to invade France, or if, having
done so, he has no further success, it seems to the cardinal that the
king, his master, and your majesty ought not to spend more on
the war. In that case a truce should be concluded and published
by the pope, to last until next April, and during the time of the
truce an assembly of the Christian princes and their deputies
should be held to arrange a peace. If no truce can be arranged,
Wolsey thinks that your two majesties should proceed with the
"Great Enterprise" without further delay.
He is sending powers and instructions to his ambassadors in
Spain to agree about the numbers of troops and other details.
He suggests that, if no peace can be arranged, your majesty and
the king, his master, should, both of you, invade France before
the end of May, 1525. each leading twenty thousand infantry, not
including pioneers and gunners, and five thousand cavalry, with
such artillery as the treaty of Windsor lays down, neither of you
to abandon this enterprise before the end of November, unless
some peace be made by your mutual consent. It seems to the
cardinal that the above numbers will be sufficient, since the two
armies will enter France simultaneously, and, moreover, such
forces will be easier to maintain. Should your majesty wish
to reduce the numbers of your army, the cardinal would be willing,
provided you maintain, at your expense, a number of mounted
men-at-arms from the Low Countries with the English army.
You could then reduce your Spanish army by an equivalent number,
that is to say, mounted man for mounted man, or two
footmen for one horseman. In this fashion, as your army was
diminished, that of the king of England would be proportionally
increased, for he would still be bound to maintain the numbers
agreed upon. It seems to me that such an agreement would not
be to your majesty's disadvantage, for by furnishing the English
with three thousand Flemish cavalry, you could be quit of the
pay of a thousand horse and four thousand foot, and your army
would still consist of sixteen thousand infantry and four thousand
cavalry, which force should be adequate, and easier to maintain
in view of the scarcity of provisions in Spain.
Wolsey then made a long tale of the profitable exploits which
your majesty had been able to perform with the aid of the English,
all for your own good, without any advantage to Henry. He said
it was clear that Bourbon's invasion was also entirely for your
benefit, since you had a claim on the territories Bourbon would
enter. He said that, since by your approaching marriage with
the princess you were the heir apparent to this realm, and would
inherit all the lands the king might conquer in his lifetime, it was
only reasonable that you should aid this king to some conquest,
either of the whole or of some part of what he claimed in France,
either by force or by negotiation. Thereupon he began to speak
of the peace, giving me to understand that, in his opinion, your
two majesties should make peace if possible, in order to save the
expense of the "Great Enterprise," for he and the king, his
master, knew very well that it would be impossible to expel King
Francis from his kingdom in so short a time, unless great civil
dissensions arose there, as did not so far seem likely. He said that
he and Henry were agreed that they should accept a peace
honourable to your two majesties, provided Francis gave them
full reparations for the pensions and other money that he owed
them, in the form of the cession of territory adjacent to Calais.
He said they would not accept the former arrangement, for such
pensions were at the pleasure of the French and might never be
paid. It is clear enough that Wolsey and his master would be glad
to accept honourable terms of peace, and I should not be surprised
if they had asked Capua to mention the matter to Francis, and to
try to find out what territory he would be willing to cede.
I replied with assurances that Henry would find your majesty
willing to do your utmost for the advancement of his power and
honour. I did not want to throw cold water on Wolsey's hopes
for peace, though I do not think Francis will grant such terms
unless he is much harder pressed than at present. It would
certainly be an excellent thing if they could obtain them ; the
people of this kingdom would rejoice thereat, and your majesty
would be rid of the burden of the indemnity. Also the French
and the English would both be much easier to deal with in the
future, and much more anxious for your alliance, the French
because, seeing their ancient enemies again advancing into their
kingdom, they would constantly fear to be invaded by them, with
the aid of the Low Countries, and the English because they would
fear to lose their conquests should your majesty favour their
enemy. History proves that the English can never hope to do
much in France without the alliance and aid of your Low Countries,
and that they will always be in great danger of losing what
they have conquered whenever they lose that alliance.
Since I wrote you on April 28th about the rings and presents
sent here from France, I have made further inquiries. I now learn
that the jewellery was not of such value as I was told at first,
nor was it sent by the queen regent. It was a bribe from a great
French merchant, by means of which he has got a safe-conduct
to bring into this country wines, and other French merchandise in
great quantity. It now seems to me that Capua's mission has
quite broken off any practices this king and Wolsey may have had
with the French. You majesty is very much indebted to Capua ;
he completely refuted the bad reports current here of your
Spanish affairs. But you are chiefly indebted for the change
here to your victories in Italy, without which matters would
certainly have taken a much different course. It seems to me
that your majesty should embrace this opportunity to make the
best peace you can, lest there be another change here less favourable
to your affairs.
London, 4 June, 1524.
Michel Gillis has reached here from Germany. He reports
that everything is going well there, as your majesty will learn
from him on his arrival in Spain.
Signed, Loys de Praet. French. pp. 7.
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Louis De Praet to Charles V.
I recently wrote your majesty in full about my negotiations
and those of the archbishop of Capua, and forwarded letters
from Flanders and from Italy. Henry and Wolsey are now
making feverish preparations for a great army which Henry will
lead into France in person, if Bourbon's campaign seems likely
to succeed. Whatever they say, and however much they exert
themselves, I do not think that they will be ready to invade
France until well into the month of August.
The archbishop of Capua has written Wolsey, from France, a
letter which does not contain any particulars of Francis' intentions
about peace. Capua also mentioned that M. de la Roche
would go through France on his way to Rome. Wolsey was
surprised and I think alarmed, but finally said that your majesty's
constant sincerity and la Roche's probity prevented him from
entertaining any serious suspicions.
The cardinal told me ... [cipher—undeciphered and
Francis showed himself unwilling to consider any cession of
territory to recompense the English for the money due them.
He said that if the king of England wanted any land in France, he
would have to take it by force. I cannot assure your majesty of
the certainty of this, since I did not hear it directly from the king
or the cardinal, but I believe the information to be accurate.
I hope your majesty will take steps to pay all the pensions here,
according to Capua's advice and my own. May I also remind
your majesty of the wages due me, both as your ambassador and
as chamberlain? Unless I am paid something soon I shall not be
able to meet my daily expenses here, and if the king crosses the
sea in person, and I as your ambassador accompany him, I shall
hardly be able to do so in a fashion honourable to your majesty.
London, 18 June, 1524.
Signed, Loys de Praet. French. pp. 4.
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Charles V to Louis De Praet.
We have received your letters of April 29th, May 31st, and
June 4th, and the documents enclosed. We have no doubt that
you have done your best in these negotiations, but we are somewhat
surprised that the articles agreed on are so ambiguous and
confused. Nothing in them is certain, neither the contribution to
our army in Italy, nor the English invasion of France, and the
promise of the hundred thousand ducats is so qualified that
nothing may come of it. Moreover, we hardly think Madame
will be able to furnish the troops agreed on, and we shall not be
able to assist her to do so, as we have already written you. Henry
appears not to appreciate how favourable is this opportunity to
make an end of the war.
Therefore, not to lose further time, since we are informed that
Bourbon's army is already in Provence, and is meeting with
little resistance, go to the king and the cardinal, and ask them
at once to agree either to invade France before the end of July,
or, if they cannot do so by that time, or if Chasteau reports to
you that the money would be of more use to Bourbon than an
English invasion so late in the year, ask them to contribute
promptly to the army of Italy. We have already contributed
two hundred thousand ducats, so that Henry, in addition to the
hundred thousand which we hope they have sent by this time,
should send another hundred thousand. You must go to work
at once ; it is of the greatest importance that you inform us
definitely as soon as possible. We are sending this courier
specially on this account.
As for the "Great Enterprise," you may say that it is foolish to
wait another year when we now have so good an opportunity to
bring the French to their knees. The English ambassador has
already delivered to us his charge about the war this year, and
also about Capua's mission. What he says agrees with what you
wrote. He has said nothing to us, however, about the "Great
Enterprise," nor mentioned that he has any power to treat about
it, but has inferred that he expects the agreement to be made in
England and that we should send powers for that purpose. It
seems to us that, since we have sent so many powers to treat in
England, the English might, this time, do us the courtesy of
sending powers to treat here. From what we can learn from
the ambassador, they are much more interested in a peace or
truce than in the "Great Enterprise." We have dissimulated
our surprise and resentment at the English conduct, for we
wish to conserve their friendship and give them no occasion of
In general, we are very grateful for the good and loyal service
that you are doing in England. We have replied to most of the
points in your letters. Please ask Madame not to keep the
zabras waiting so long in England. This is not only expensive
but a great impediment to our affairs.
Burgos, 26 June, 1524.
Draft with corrections by Gattinara. French. pp. 3.
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The Ambassadors in England to Charles V.
From the separate letter written by me, de Courrières, your
majesty will have learned of my journey to this town. In the
execution of my instructions we called on the cardinal on St.
John's Day and several days later on the king, who is hunting
about twelve miles from here. In spite of all our arguments for
an immediate invasion of France, they still stand on the treaty
which I, de Praet, recently sent you, although they hold out great
hope that, if Bourbon wins some notable victory in France, they
will then do everything they can to crush the enemy, either by
invading France, or by contributing to Bourbon's army. In
fact, Wolsey said he had already begun to arrange for letters of
exchange for another hundred thousand crowns, to be used in this
eventuality. In our opinion, this is the only aid to be expected,
for whatever they may say about an invasion we have seen no
signs of preparations for it, and we understand that their army will
not cross this season unless there is a great revolt in France, so
that they may easily conquer the whole kingdom. Otherwise,
they prefer to trust to the "Great Enterprise" next year.
After considerable persuasion Wolsey has promised to send to
Switzerland as Henry's ambassador, Michel Sanderin, a former
servant of the cardinal of Sion's, to co-operate with your ambassadors
and those of the pope and the other Italian princes. He has
not said whether Sanderin will be authorized to make any contribution.
We believe that he will have no power except to assist
the other ambassadors by his advice. This is all we have been
able to accomplish, even with the aid of an envoy of Bourbon's,
sent here for the same purpose, as your majesty will have learned
from Lurcy. Everything depends on what Bourbon may achieve.
As we write this I, de Praet, have had a letter from Bourbon
relating the preparations for his invasion, as your majesty will
see by the enclosed copy. Knowing that Richard Pace had
written Wolsey equally good news, we went to him to see whether
he could be induced to do something more. He would not change
his mind, but we found him somewhat warmer ; he said that not
for anything would he permit Bourbon's army to be disbanded
through lack of money as long as it was doing well, even if that
meant keeping it in France all winter, provided Henry had not by
then invaded France himself.
I, de Praet, have received your majesty's letters of 21 May.
They require no reply other than the above, except that I again
wish to urge your majesty to pay all the pensions here, and to see
that Wolsey is paid the arrears on his pensions on Badajoz and
Palencia, about which he makes great complaints.
London, 29 June, 1524.
Signed, Loys de Praet and J. de Montmorency. French. pp. 3.
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De Courrieres to Charles V.
I suppose your majesty is informed of our voyage and how I
disembarked the Sunday before St. John's Day at five in the
morning, at St. Ives in Cornwall, 250 miles from London. I
arrived on the eve of St. John (Thursday), very tired, at the
house of M. de Praet. He informed Wolsey of my arrival, and
the next day, after dinner we paid our respects to him. He said
your majesty would be very well satisfied with him and his king
when you had read the treaty he had recently concluded with de
Praet, by which a hundred thousand crowns were to be sent to
Bourbon. Before this was spent, it would be seen whether
Bourbon was likely to do good service, and if so they would spare
nothing. He said another hundred thousand crowns was being
got ready even now, on the strength of Pace's news of Bourbon's
diligence. Pace's news must have been good, since the cardinal
had no complaints to make, and replied to one of Bourbon's
gentlemen, who had come here on the same mission as ourselves,
much as he did to us.
Two days later we went to pay our respects to the king and the
queen, twelve miles from here. Henry replied much as Wolsey
had done, and said that he would cross the sea in person if he saw
occasion. I have seen no signs of preparations for such an
expedition, however, and I think he would prefer to contribute
to Bourbon's army. Your majesty should therefore advise
Bourbon that he must not rely on the French being distracted by
an English invasion, for there is no likelihood of it this year, unless
there are more troubles in France. Even then the English
probably will not be ready.
M. de Praet has served you very well here, and I promise you
he has had many pains and headaches with these people. I
beg you to remember how long he has already been here. It is
not that he does not desire to serve your majesty, but he chafes
at being so long in one place. He has been very patient under
Wolsey's reproaches, since it is your majesty's wish.
This king makes little account of the Swiss, but Wolsey said
he is sending a man to Switzerland. He has been informed by
their ambassador with Bourbon that the king of France has tried
to induce Bourbon to return to his service, and has been repulsed.
Wolsey was very elated at this news.
When I gave the queen your letters, she asked in detail about
your health and the progress of your affairs. I recommended to
her your interests here, and she said that you would always find
her your good aunt and friend. Henry, she said, was as preoccupied
with the war as your majesty was. She hoped everything
would go well and said she would write you. The princess is
not here, nor with the king. She has been sent some sixteen
miles away for fear of the pest. I said to the king and queen
that you had expressly ordered me to visit the princess, but they
said it was unnecessary, that she was in very good health and
growing fast. The queen said she would be a tall woman, and
the king had many good things to say of her, among others that
now she played better on the spinnet than her father, and was
beginning to play the lute.
I am sorry that I have not been able to serve your majesty
better in England.
London, St. Peter's Day, 1524.
Signed, J. de Montmorency. French. pp. 4.