Spain: February 1523

Calendar of State Papers, Spain: Further Supplement To Volumes 1 and 2, Documents From Archives in Vienna. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1947.

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, 'Spain: February 1523', in Calendar of State Papers, Spain: Further Supplement To Volumes 1 and 2, Documents From Archives in Vienna, (London, 1947) pp. 188-194. British History Online [accessed 20 May 2024].

. "Spain: February 1523", in Calendar of State Papers, Spain: Further Supplement To Volumes 1 and 2, Documents From Archives in Vienna, (London, 1947) 188-194. British History Online, accessed May 20, 2024,

. "Spain: February 1523", Calendar of State Papers, Spain: Further Supplement To Volumes 1 and 2, Documents From Archives in Vienna, (London, 1947). 188-194. British History Online. Web. 20 May 2024,

February 1523

5 Feb.
H. H. u. St. A. England, f. 1.
The Ambassadors in England to Charles V.
Since the departure of Aymercourt, the maître d'hôtel of my lord, your brother, we have received important letters from Rome, and the arrival of M. de Beaurain at a port in this kingdom offers us a safe means of sending you the latest news.
Two days ago I, De Mesa, received three briefs from the pope, one addressed to the king of England, one to the cardinal-legate, and the third to me, in which His Holiness asked me to present the other two letters to the king and the cardinal and to exhort them to agree to a three year truce with the French, adding many arguments which your majesty can see in the copies sent herewith. I am also sending a copy of a letter which His Holiness wrote me in cipher describing the intrigues of the Venetians with the French and the Swiss, seeking to revive the Italian enterprise. I presented these briefs to the cardinal, who promised to talk to Henry and inform us of his opinion. We shall advise you by the first courier. From Wolsey's first reaction, however, we gather that he would prefer such an armistice as he had proposed. Three years seems to him too long, both because it will afford the enemy time to recruit their forces, and on account of the Scottish war, which he has much at heart.
Wolsey said he heard that, because of the rigorous demands on them made through Geronimo Adorno, the Venetians despaired of coming to terms with you, and were arranging a new and closer alliance with the French and have about agreed to furnish for the reconquest of Italy, eight thousand foot, six hundred men-at-arms, and payment for half of twenty thousand Swiss, the French to place in their hands the town of Cremona, which they expect their joint forces shortly to recapture. Wolsey recurred to his opinion that, in view of the state of affairs in Italy, your majesty had been too harsh with the Venetians at the outset.
At this time Wolsey began again to rehearse the whole matter of the indemnity and ended a long discourse by saying that if your majesty did not furnish things here henceforward better than you had so far, and according to your agreement with the king, his master, you would lose all your credit here, for so far you had accomplished nothing of what had been agreed, and you ought at least to pay the indemnity to the king, and the pensions due Suffolk and the other lords here. It was better, he said, to promise nothing than not to keep a promise. He then went back over his own affairs, complaining that in spite of the great services he had done your majesty, he had not yet been paid the arrears of his pension on the bishopric of Palencia, nor had any security for the pension of 2,500 ducats which you had promised to assign him in Spain, in return for acquitting me, De Mesa, of the charge on the bishopric of Badajoz.
We replied as best we could in the same terms as we wrote you in your last letter. This whole affair seems to us very difficult, for the indemnity due the king and the pensions to Wolsey, Suffolk and others, amount to a very great sum ; on the other hand, if you pay nothing, there is no doubt it will be taken very badly here, since these people have a natural inclination for money, and their friendship will be much cooled. To make matters worse, your majesty will have to pay both the two sums due the king and the other pensions, for Wolsey has told us expressly that neither he nor any other Englishman will accept a penny until Henry is paid. We beg your majesty for instructions on this point, and feel obliged to add that if the English are not satisfied in some fashion we fear the consequences may be very grave.
Henry has spoken contemptuously of the Spanish failure to defend the Galician coast. According to what Henry says, there is a small number of French ships lying off Cape Finisterre and the ports thereabouts, and doing a great deal of mischief, without meeting any resistance. Henry expressed great surprise at this, and a very low opinion of the Spaniards who would let themselves be pillaged by so small a force. We did our best to remove this impression, but he said he had accurate news, particularly of two English ships with valuable cargoes which had been taken by the French in this quarter. For this reason, and also because he heard a number of French ships were going from Boulogne, Dieppe and other Norman harbours to Gascony to load wine, he has sent six of his warships westward to intercept and fight the French if possible. We are sending, enclosed herewith, a copy of M. de Gavres' letter, giving a detailed account of the defeat of the French and the Spanish mutineers. Of the whole force of Spaniards in Flanders, Picharro's company and Lescano's, there is now left in the field only about a thousand men. These Madame is retaining in the service of M. de Gavres, who will place them in the garrisons of the frontier towns.
London, 5 February, 1523.
P. S. The papal brief addressed to your majesty, enclosed herewith, was given us by the cardinal. He said that it had been sent him some days ago from Rome.
Signed, Bishop of Badajoz and Elne and Loys de Praet. French. pp. 5.
8 Feb.
H. H. u. St. A. England, f. 2.
Charles V to the Ambassadors in England.
You will see by copies of letters which the archbishop of Bari has just written us that he is urging us to agree to a truce, and suggests that we send powers to treat, under the mediation of the pope, to England, so that, if Henry agrees, our joint powers may be sent from there to Rome without delay.
The Sieur de Beaurain [Adrien de Croy], our second chamberlain, wrote us recently that he had been in touch with some of the people of the duke of Bourbon. Bourbon asks the hand of one of our sisters in marriage, and offers to serve us against the king of France with five hundred men-at-arms and ten thousand infantry. Beaurain communicated this matter to Surrey, and Surrey told Henry and Wolsey, who have instructed the English ambassador here to persuade us to agree to this proposal. These ambassadors have spoken with us fully on this subject, but we find that there is a discrepancy between their instructions from England and Beaurain's letters to us. Henry writes that Bourbon will furnish 500 men-at-arms and ten thousand foot at his own expense, but Beaurain wrote that Bourbon expects the troops to be paid, for the most part at least, by us and by the king of England. Also Henry appears to think that Bourbon will wait until the time appointed for our invasion of France, but Beaurain wrote that Bourbon only offers to furnish these troops in case we enter France next summer. Therefore, since this whole matter has been handled by Beaurain, and it seems safer to depend on what he wrote to us than on what the admiral may have understood him to say, we have told the English ambassadors that it seems to us necessary, if we are to draw Bourbon over to our side, to pay most of the expenses of his troops, for he is, himself, not powerful enough to maintain so great a force. Also it will be necessary to invade France this summer, both from the side of England and from our side. Since the English ambassadors have been so anxious for us to accept Bourbon's proposal, we have asked them whether they were willing to conclude on these terms, and if they knew whether Henry was willing to contribute to the necessary expenses. They replied that they had no instructions on this point, but they would inform their king at once, and hoped that, so far as it depended on him, he would not let us lose so great and favourable an opportunity. They asked whether we should be ready on our side.
In order to reach a final decision on this point, we have several times consulted with our councillors as to whether we could raise the money necessary to put in the field an army strong enough to invade France, lay siege to great towns and cities, and give battle to the king of France. We find the nobles and commons of this kingdom very willing to give us good aid for the war. We have therefore issued writs for the assembly of our Cortes at the beginning of next March, and since, in spite of the favourable replies of our councillors and others, we do not wish to conclude anything with Bourbon without being assured of the necessary grants, and since Bourbon has not yet declared himself in any way, we have replied to Beaurain in such a way as to gain time, not to discourage Bourbon, and to find out how much real confidence ought to be placed in him. We are sending you a copy of our reply, and of our instructions to Beaurain in cipher ; show it to Henry and Wolsey and the admiral, and then forward it at once, by a trustworthy courier, to Beaurain. Arrange with him to communicate with you in cipher as soon as he has Bourbon's answer, which you will then convey at once to Henry and Wolsey, finding out clearly what they are willing to do in this affair, and what they advise. Notify us promptly, and expect further instructions.
We have been waiting anxiously for a long time to hear from you what Henry and Wolsey think ought to be done next year, in view of the present weakness of the enemy in money and men. We have made all the necessary preparations to meet their views, whether they intend that we should each put an army in the field in France next summer, or prefer a single invasion of Guienne or Languedoc at our common expense. Since it is high time to decide on plans for next summer, and delay now may be very injurious, you may say to Henry and Wolsey that as soon as we know the reply of our Cortes we shall inform them, and, as soon as the Cortes are over, we shall be ready to invade France with a considerable army. We have already ordered our cavalry and infantry to be ready, and have assembled artillery, munitions and provisions from all parts. We hope to profit by these preparations, and hope that Henry will also make all necessary preparations for an invasion of France this summer without, however, putting himself to too great present expense. You may tell Henry and Wolsey that, whatever happens this year, we are quite determined to be entirely ready for the "Great Enterprise" in 1524, and we hope that they will be also.
We are sending you two separate powers, so that you may be quite prepared to conduct all our business, which we wish to proceed according to the advice of the cardinal. By one power you can agree to put in the field in France, on the Spanish side, a large army, the chief expense of which we are willing to pay, although ever since our arrival we have been continuously at war on our frontiers, and have maintained a flying blockade of Fuenterrabia with a considerable body of horse and foot, pressing it so hard that all French efforts to relieve it by land or sea have been repelled, and we hope famine will soon oblige the garrison to surrender. Nevertheless we are willing to furnish, at our expense, 1,700 lances, a thousand light cavalry, eight thousand Spanish and German infantry with artillery and munitions, if Henry will send us, by May first, five thousand English infantry, three thousand Germans, and two thousand barrels of powder, each of us to pay our own share of the transport of artillery and munitions and the expenses of the pioneers. Or, if Henry prefers, we are willing to furnish the best army we can on this side, while he, for his part, invades France wherever he likes, by May first.
We are also sending a second power which is to be forwarded to the duke of Sessa, our ambassador at Rome, if, and when, Henry sends a similar power to his ambassador there, with instructions to conclude under the mediation of the pope, a truce for commerce and intercourse for several years. You may act thus without further instructions from us, if Henry and Wolsey prefer a truce to the continuance of the war, or if they feel that while the army is being made ready there would be no harm in trying to see whether we can arrange a favourable truce. Since we wish to conceal nothing from the king, our brother, and do nothing without him, we are sending you these powers. You may say to Henry and Wolsey that we shall be satisfied with a truce for commerce and intercourse, each side to hold whatever it may hold on the day of its conclusion, provided that Fuenterrabia and the strong places of the duchy of Milan are then in our hands and those of the duke. If they are not, such places are to be placed in the hands of the pope and neutralized during the truce, as we wrote you by Richard. As to the duration of the truce, we shall be satisfied with whatever term will please Henry and Wolsey. Although our council advises us that it would be better to make a truce on the above terms, provided the king of England is satisfied, than to invade France with a single army, nevertheless, if Henry and Wolsey do not wish to send similar powers to Rome, you may tear up ours in their presence, or keep them for future use if Henry and Wolsey prefer, for no one can tempt us to any course without the advice of the king and the cardinal, or without their complete satisfaction. In any event, arrange at once about the invasion by a joint army, or by separate armies with as great a force as possible. Do not boggle over details, for if we fail to secure a truce we must take the favourable season for war, and any delay will cause confusion, shame, and injury. In order to have your reply more quickly we have ordered this courier to stay with you. Send our packet to Flanders by another, by whom Madame will reply. Send one of your most trustworthy servants to Beaurain, this person to bring back Beaurain's answer, which is to be forwarded to us by the bearer of this. If this takes too long do not neglect to keep us informed. Moreover, you will be very careful to keep this important matter a complete secret, so that no person whatever, no matter how highly placed, either in Flanders or in England, knows anything about it, excepting, of course, the king, the cardinal, and the admiral. When you have completed the arrangements for the armies with Henry, however, you may communicate them secretly to Madame, so she may know that our new plans are intended to draw the war away from Flanders. But keep the entire Bourbon affair a close secret, then and afterwards, and be very sure that nothing is divulged by your servants. The ambassadors, whom, as we wrote you, we were sending to Switzerland, encountered such weather at sea that Raphaelo de Medici, the head of the embassy, was drowned with others. His companion, Dr. Prantner, escaped and returned to us, riding post. We have drawn up new instructions and powers for him and sent him to join Dr. Steurzel, our resident ambassador in Switzerland.
We have asked the pope to grant us the cruzada in these realms as a necessary aid in our affairs, and have decided to send Captain Cabanillas, or another, to beg that the grant be sent at once. Advise Henry and Wolsey of all this news.
Valladolid, 8 February, 1523.
P.S. Since writing this, the papal nuncio called upon us in the presence of the English ambassadors, exhorting us and them to agree to a peace or truce for the good of Christendom, as His Holiness had several times asked us to do. We replied that we could not do so without the knowledge and consent of the king of England, but that if the French were to make a reasonable offer, His Holiness would not find us indifferent to the good of Christendom. The English ambassadors replied for Henry that they were without instructions on this point, but would write to their master and conduct themselves according to his orders.
We have delayed sending these letters because, according to captured dispatches and other information, we had hoped to send you news of the fall of Fuenterrabia, where supplies are so short that the garrison intended to surrender by Candlemas unless they were relieved. Until recently the French had made three attempts to re-provision Fuenterrabia but had always been repulsed. Recently, however, our troops on the French side of the river have had difficulty in securing provisions. The French advanced against them along the road to Fuenterrabia in great strength, and during the night the armies were so close that they exchanged artillery fire. Our troops, fearing to be cut off by the French advance, and thus to lose the provisions of which they were in great need (indeed it is because of the scarcity of provisions in this country that we have not been able to besiege Fuenterrabia more closely), and seeing the enemy in great strength, retired across the river without risking battle, saving all their artillery and sustaining no damage or loss. The French, however, were able to get a mule train loaded with provisions into Fuenterrabia.
Copy. French. pp. 10.
13 Feb.
H. H. u. St. A. England. f. 1.
The Ambassadors in England to Charles V.
We wrote your majesty by le Sauch, by Beaurain, and by Aymercourt of the progress of our negotiations since the arrival of Richard. Since our last dispatches Beaurain has come to London at Henry's request, and discussed a number of matters. We have explained to Beaurain the state of affairs here, and the steps necessary to preserve the alliance and friendship of this king and his kingdom. He will report to you orally. Because the weather has been very bad since the departure of Jehan de le Sauch, and some misfortune may have overtaken him, we are sending a duplicate of the dispatches he carried.
We received yesterday your majesty's letters dated from Valladolid, December 9th, and communicated their contents to the cardinal. We shall do our best in this affair, but we fear the cardinal will make difficulties for the reasons we wrote you by le Sauch.
London, 13 February, 1523.
Signed, Bishop of Badajoz and Loys de Praet. French. pp. 2.