Spain: January 1550, 1-15

Pages 1-11

Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 10, 1550-1552. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1914.

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January 1550, 1–15

1550. Jan. 5. Vienna, Imp. Arch. F. 29. Simon Renard to the Emperor.
Sire: We have heard here that the quarrels raging among the cardinals assembled in conclave for the election of the new pope were calmed and appeased on the blessed day of Christmas. The time during which fresh news might have arrived from Rome has now elapsed. There is a great deal of talk going on over the delay of the election, and the safe arrival of four or five French cardinals who went to Rome by sea is causing great rejoicings. The French go as far as to say that their arrival will be a propitious and fruitful event. They believe that this election will be a scandalous one and dangerous to the safety of Christianity unless God inspires the cardinals and inclines their hearts to accept and follow right guidance in a matter so momentous. This seems to be the difficulty, for the right course lies, according to these people, in obedience to the commands of one—is it not, maybe, the King of France?—who holds in bond the votes of the cardinals partisans of France. Were it not for the zeal and devotion shown by your Majesty on this occasion, which is acknowledged here, when justifying and proving the true respect for the Christian republic which you feel and have always felt, by forbearing from coercing or disturbing the election in any way, although the intrigues of the French have given sufficient provocation to do so; were it not for this example by which they are compelled to use moderation, it is generally believed that they would show their partisanship more openly, for their impudence is well known, and so are the intrigues they have set on foot to secure the election of a pope after their own heart, in the opinion and belief that the safety of France will turn on him, and the retention of Piedmont, as well as the general tone and condition of public affairs in the near future. If the pope is a French pope, they expect to make a league with him and put into effect those designs which they have long nourished and entertained; but if he is an Imperialist they will be thrust out of Italy as in the days of Julius (II), and your Majesty guide religious affairs towards that goal for which you have unceasingly striven. Because of their uncertainty and fear that the cardinals may not come to any agreement among themselves and be compelled to elect a man like Pope Adrian, who was made pontiff after the conclave had lasted two whole months, or a poor stranger, perhaps, whose only recommendations are his virtues, and whose secret inclinations are not known, the French leave all business in suspense and lend an ear to overtures of peace brought to them by the Guidotti (fn. 1) from England. They are bringing forward objections to mask their real inclination for peace. In the King's opinion, he cannot very well accede to the plan for marrying his daughter, who is only at the tender age of eight years, to the King of England, unless that Prince will resume the practice of our religion himself and restore it in his kingdom, without forfeiting his own title of Most Christian King, and making it clear that the peace was forced upon him. He thinks the sum of money demanded by the English is excessive; that the confirmation of the pension (to England) would be odious to his subjects. His mind dwells on the large sums spent in attempting to recover Boulogne and on the further sums he would become bound to pay in fulfilment of the last treaty made by the late King, and which he has attempted to annul by violence. He holds that his subjects will become disaffected by his failure (to conquer Boulogne by arms) and think less of his exploits on the English forts. He considers that his subjects will object to paying the higher taxes about to be levied if he abandons the undertaking to which he had set his hand; and the Scottish business being of great importance and consequence, it would be prejudicial to him to accept a compromise or leave it unresolved, a constant cause of fresh troubles, both sides being eager to get Scotland into their hands. In his opinion the pretensions of the English to. make Scotland or a part of it a tributary kingdom, are excessive and overbearing. The King suspects that the English are making overtures to gain time, being short of men and money. These various considerations serve to delay the answer to Guidotti until the election of the new Pope is certain; the French will be guided by it in treating this peace, which in my opinion, will be very hard to bring about, for the King is determined to recover Boulogne and fight to a finish in this his first military enterprise.
I have been informed that other proposals and conditions are being put forward and debated. I will be as vigilant as I can. In the meantime the King and the Constable (fn. 2) are trying to keep the Germans, the burghers of Bremen, who, as I wrote to your Majesty are here at court, dallying until the election is over before coming to any decision about the help they ask to enable them to continue in their rebellion. I heard from M. d'Estrées that they came from one of the Sea Towns (Hanseatic Towns) in revolt against your Majesty, and I never rested till I ascertained what particular town it was. Not a day goes by but they are at the Constable's ear, and they have been here twenty-two days.
I feel called upon to lay before your Majesty the somewhat ambiguous words constantly used by the Constable since the cardinals have been engaged upon the debates for the new election, to the effect that the King of France is anxious to preserve his sincere friendship and understanding with your Majesty in view of the possibility of some disturbance following upon the election. I interpret these words in a different sense from that in which they are spoken, and perhaps my own interpretation is nearer to his desires and intentions. Your Majesty will judge whether my surmises are well-founded, and if the (foreseen) effects may perhaps follow.
The very name of England is so hateful to them (the French), that they will not hear it mentioned, and they are entirely opposed to the election of the Cardinal of England. (fn. 3) They accuse the Cardinal of Ferrara of crooked practices because Cardinal Farnese and his party have voted for the English Cardinal. His excuse is that Farnese and his friends broke their word to him; and hatred and ill-will against the house of Farnese will be the outcome of it.
Sire: I set forth in my last letters to your Majesty my reasons for disbelieving the news, sent by the French ambassador in Rome to the King, that Cardinal Farnese had been insolently treated and boxed on the ear. Two fresh circumstances are now brought to light to disprove this. First, Cardinal Farnese is in possession of Castel Sant' Angelo, and has it well guarded by his partisans and adherents, so that if the Cardinal of Ferrara had had cause for resentment against him, he would have dissembled now, and put off the hour of vengeance to a more propitious time, instead of attacking him when he is the stronger. Secondly, Cardinal Farnese had foreseen what might occur, and on his advice the cardinals of his party—if party there must be—were attended in conclave by his own servants and gentlemen, to the number of thirty-six, all men of deeds. Being supported by them, he would not merely have averted the blow, but offered resistance beyond all justification of legitimate defence and taken vengeance in the manner that seems proper and natural to Italians.
The Marquis du Maine (fn. 4) has returned from the fort of Boulogne; whither he had gone to serve as second to Liguière, who was to fight Paolo Spinola. The King and his Council were of opinion that this was not the time to fight a duel grounded on differences concerning the character of Italians and Frenchmen; and as moreover the fighting of this duel would have been the signal for ten more, as my man heard at court, it appears that under colour of a misunderstanding between the parties, and of attempts to effect a reconciliation, the challenge was revoked and the quarrel is to be settled by arbitration, the parties meantime mutually acknowledging one another to be honourable gentleman. There are prejudiced people who try to make out that the King of England forbade Spinola to fight; but the truth is that the quarrel was settled by expedients and arguments.
Melun, 5 January, 1550.
Signed original in cipher. French.
Jan. 7. Simancas. E. 876. Don Diego Hurtado de Mendoza to the King and Queen of Bohemia. (fn. 5)
Since I wrote to your Highnesses the news of the death of the Pope, nothing important has occurred except that 42 cardinals who were in Rome at the time entered into conclave on November 29th. Another seven or eight French cardinals have arrived since and they are all shut up together and disagreeing among themselves. The Cardinal of England has the highest number of votes, and this is as it should be, for he possesses all the qualities one can wish. May God direct this matter to His greater service.
Rome, 6 January, 1550.
Signed. Spanish.
Jan. 9. Brussels. L.A. 44. Count de Reuil (Adrien de Croÿ) to the Queen Dowager.
Madam: I dined to-day at Ostend, where I found some merchants of that place just returned from England. They told me that they had been ill-treated there, and had had to put up with such abuse and threats as never were heard. Besides this, the English were full of villainous talk about the Emperor, and if any of our men ventured to answer, they were soundly beaten.
On my arrival in this place I met some seafaring men also back from England, who told the same story, adding that there was talk of a safe-conduct for some French lord who was to go to the King of England, and another for a Scotsman. All the people of this coast are now so hostile to the English that their ill-will could not be greater.
(The writer goes on to describe his journey through Flanders.)
Nieuport, 9 January, 1550.
Holograph. French.
Jan. 12. Paris. K. 1489. Simon Renard to the Emperor.
It is feared the papal election may give rise to some schism, for the cardinals proceed as passion, rather than reason, directs. Everything that takes place in the conclave is made public at once.
The peace with England is being treated, and I have been told that the King of France is offering eight hundred thousand crowns in payment of all claims for the pension up to date.
The Silversmith told me here in Melun that he knew for certain that if the war ceased in the Boulonnais the King would march towards Piedmont; this was confirmed by others who have heard it from the governor of the forts in Piedmont and Savoy. The King fears your Majesty is about to attack him from that quarter.
The envoys from Bremen have departed not too well pleased, as I am told; but I have not been able to ascertain why.
The Captain (fn. 6) told me that the King of France would send an envoy to Turkey as soon as the election of the pope was over, to break the truce between your Majesty and the Turk.
M. d'Albret is gone by the post to Boulogne on an errand for the King. He has hurt his neck from a fall.
Melun, 12 January, 1550.
Contemporary summary in Spanish.
Jan. 12. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 1. The Lady Mary to the Emperor.
May it please your Majesty (to excuse) my little schooling and my boldness (in writing) these my letters, which I would not dare undertake to write but for my great trust in the goodness of your Majesty; whom, after God, I regard as my father in all spiritual and temporal matters; (fn. 7) and I beseech you most humbly to make known your good pleasure to me concerning those matters on which your ambassador has written to your Majesty. Our kingdom is daily approaching nearer to spiritual and material ruin, and matters grow worse day by day, as your ambassador can better explain. I owe him many obligations and look upon him as one of my chief friends within this kingdom. I will forbear from troubling your Majesty further.
Beaulieu, (fn. 8) 12 January, 1550.
Holograph. French.
Jan. 14. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 17. Van der Delft to the Emperor.
Sire: Doctor Petre, First Secretary of the Council, having requested me to hold his child (at the baptismal font), I went on her written invitation to see the Lady Mary, who lives not more than eight miles from his house. It is a pleasure to see how well-kept and well-ordered is her household in the observance of our ancient religion. Her servants are all well-to-do people, and some of them men of means and noblemen too, whose boast it is to be reputed her servants; and by these means they continue to practise the said religion and hear God's service. She has six chaplains, all doctors in theology and men of irreproachable conduct, who say mass in her presence every day. She was more than ever afraid that the Council would attempt to disturb her; and although I feigned to believe the opposite in order to reassure her, still she did not allow herself to be persuaded and had several reasons for holding her own opinion. To tell the truth, Sire, her reasons were more cogent than mine. She is well acquainted with the inconstancy and ambition of those now in power; and her knowledge of them was proved by what she foretold me would happen at the time of the intrigues against the Protector. Events have turned out as she foresaw, though it seemed to me that religion could not be in a worse state, and I therefore hoped any change would be for the better, considering too, that those who were promoting the change were not inimical to our religion, and that the Earl of Warwick had taken their side. The Lady Mary was of a different opinion, and said to me “The Earl of Warwick is the most unstable man in England. The conspiracy against the Protector has envy and ambition as its only motives; for on all charges that may be moved against him they (the conspirators) are equally guilty, having given him their advice and consent. You will see that no good will come of this move, but that it is a punishment from Heaven, and may be only the beginning of our misfortunes. For this reason I wish myself out of the kingdom.” Her forebodings have been realised, and the kingdom is going to ruin and perdition; and seeing that the good and faithful will be made to suffer persecution, judging by what has happened already, I fear I shall no longer be able to comfort the good lady with mere words. I try to reassure her and remove her cares and distress, repeating your Majesty's message to her sent last year, that you will always take special care of her. I fear, however, that she may have to suffer if your Majesty does not provide, for Warwick is proving himself not merely unstable, but evil and cruel too. The Marquis of Northampton, who has two wives, (fn. 9) and the Marquis of Dorset, a senseless creature, belong to his crew; and they are all of them Sacramentarians, as they publicly declared in Parliament quite lately. No good is to be expected from them; on the contrary, it is safe to presume that if they could not bear virtue before they adopted their extreme errors, now that they are all turned against God and hold the highest place in the government of the kingdom, they will never permit the Lady Mary to live in peace: first, in order to exterminate religion, and, secondly, because such people can have but little love for so virtuous a lady. The Lady Elizabeth is more of their kidney. Their first move was to send the Lady Mary a letter from the King desiring her to spend Christmas at court. She showed me the letter which seemed to me a meagre performance, and her answer, in which she excused herself in courteous and cordial terms, on the ground of her indisposition. I pointed out to her that the same excuse could not always serve, and that it would be a pity if she did not go sometime to visit the King. It was her intention to go, she said, but to put it off to a more convenient time than when she was commanded to go. “For” she said, “They wished me to be at court so that I could not get the mass celebrated for me, and that the King might take me with him to hear their sermons and masses. I would not find myself in such a place for anything in the world. I will choose a more convenient time to go and pay my duty to the King, when I need not lodge at Court, for I have my own establishment in London. I shall stay four or five days only, and avoid entering into argument with the King, my brother, who, as I hear, is beginning to debate the question of religion and oppose ours, as he is being taught to do.” I could only approve her.
On coming back to London I found there was a rumour about that the Protector was to be released from the Tower. I could not well believe this, although it was true that the guard had been removed, and his wife and friends and adherents had permission to visit him, so that some, as they told me themselves, had congratulated him on his recovered liberty. As I have been told every day that he was about to be released, and two thousand people were waiting at the Tower gate, I have deferred writing to your Majesty till I could see the end of it all and inform you of the truth. It was also said that he had refused to come out of the Tower unless the proclamation in which he was declared a traitor were first revoked; but I have heard the whole truth from one who is well acquainted with the intrigue. The Earl of Warwick, who was once the sworn friend of the Protector, perceiving himself to be held in less esteem than he, who also showed no great inclination to support his old friends, made a bargain with the Earls of Arundel and Southampton, who belong to the good religion, to remove the Protector from power, and make common cause with all the followers of the ancient religion, who took leading parts in the plot. Once having obtained their object, and perceiving that the majority in the Council were Catholics they (sic) threw off the mask and dropped all pretence. By supporting the sects he (sic) drew to his side the young lords and those who had something to fear from the past, Paget among them, because of their great friendship for the Protector. He then proceeded to create new members of the Council from among his followers, so as to gain a backing in votes for his effective usurpation of the Government. By such means he has acquired the chief power; and fearing that some of the Councillors, desirous of bringing about a better state of things, might oppose him, he now wishes to favour the Protector and by placing him under a constant obligation, make use of him. The forfeited property has been divided by the Earls of Arundel and Southampton. To this end, it was arranged that the Protector should sign the twenty-one headings under which he was accused, acknowledging them to be true, and imploring the King's mercy; requesting also the lords of the Council to grant him their favour and support to obtain the King's pardon and grace against the rigour of the law. It was agreed to grant to the said Protector a yearly income of ten thousand pounds sterling for himself, his wife and his heirs, the remainder of his property to be confiscated. He was to remain in prison during the King's pleasure; this being done of course to give some colour to the proceedings and afford satisfaction to those members of the Council who opposed the release of the said Protector. The projected marriage between Warwick's son and a daughter of the Protector is not broken off. and we may infer from this that his release will not be long delayed, particularly as he is needed to strengthen their party against the Catholics, whom they are determined to persecute and crush entirely out of existence, as I am informed. The Master of the Household, (fn. 10) the Chancellor (fn. 11) and the Lord Privy Seal, (fn. 12) who still held to the good faith, seeing Warwick's determination have gone over to his side; and issued orders to the Earl of Arundel who, as Lord Chamberlain, was constantly about the person of the King, to withdraw to his house and remain there a prisoner. I hear Paget assisted in this, to revenge himself for Arundel's opposition at the time when he lay under suspicion of having helped the Protector against the Council. Sir Thomas Arundell, who openly belonged to the good faith and was an active instrument in the plot against the Protector, has also been cast into prison.
The Earl of Southampton, who was at court, but ill, seeing which way the wind was blowing, withdrew immediately before the order to do so could be sent to him; this a person of good repute and on intimate terms with the Earl told me, as I believe by his special order, so that I might be informed of the condition of affairs. He told me among other things that Southampton could not check Warwick's party single-handed; and that he feared the grief of seeing this kingdom so misgoverned and ill-treated would kill him; and that unless your Majesty would prove yourself to be a real friend of the King and country, and particularly of those who still professed the ancient faith, this coming year would witness their destruction and ruin. He exhorted me to use my good offices; upon which I replied that I had always fulfilled my duty, and proved that I desired them to live and prosper. Nevertheless, considering that the government of the kingdom had been in their hands, as their party had a majority of votes in the Council over the enemies of religion, and yet they had permitted affairs to reach the present state of extreme confusion, I saw no way of recovering what they had so lightly let go; and it was clearly shown how each pursued his own particular advantage, and all parties were nourished by envy and ambition.
Upon which he answered me “That is true; and the conduct of the Great Master of the Household, of the Lord Chancellor and the Privy Seal prove it.”
We went on to speak of the Lord Warden (fn. 13) who, immediately after his return, had sent word to me that he would come and see me, but had never come, out of fear, as I supposed: and he (my interlocutor) described him as a timid man, and much addicted to worldly possessions; (adding) “and yet, know that he would spend all he has to help in restoring matters to a better condition than we see them in now.” He told me what had happened to the Earl of Derby, who declared in Parliament that the Holy Sacrament should be publicly revered and worshipped, and told the Marquis of Northampton that he would lay down his life for it; wherefore he may have to suffer, as in all truth, Sire, the most dangerous crime a man can commit is to be a good Christian and live a righteous life. People do not make inquiry of a man's (good) name, but merely ask whether he belongs to the new or the old religion, and he gets treated according to his faith. Mr. Leigh (?), (fn. 14) brother to Queen Catherine who was beheaded, who long frequented your Majesty's court, and was across the sea quite recently with the Lord Warden, has been put in the Tower.
This is how matters stand here at present. Your Majesty will be better aware than anyone of the extreme necessity and misery to which the kingdom must shortly be reduced; for, although the sins of the people deserve the chastisement of the Lord, yet it is a sad thing to see the righteous suffer and the kingdom be lost with its young King, who is naturally gifted with a gentle nature but is being corrupted by false doctrines and practices; and I ask your Majesty's pardon most humbly if I am too forward in expressing my opinion. Those who govern the kingdom might possibly entertain some doubt and fear, if the Lady Mary were to find opportunity by a marriage or otherwise of leaving the country, that she might induce the King by showing him clearly the evident harm done to his kingdom, to ask an account of their misgovernment, or, in case the King were to die, that she would punish the authors of the mischief. But as things are now, they safeguard themselves against her, who is in their power, and hold her of little account, and make no secret of it. The partisans of righteousness, who are still numerous, would never be content to suffer the present Government if they had any one to favour them, but they submit because they see the good lady herself in so sorry a plight. It might be supposed that for this reason they (the Council) would listen to no proposals of marriage for her and would intend to keep her in subjection; but I believe what they desire most is to be rid of her, and manage things according to their inclinations, without respect for anybody. Their nature is to brook no interference with their wishes, and I fear that your Majesty's recommendations of her to Paget and the Lord Warden will help her little, and my own remonstrances, so often repeated in your Majesty's name, still less, especially as they were not addressed to those now in power.
But if all attempts of that nature proved fruitless, your Majesty might consider the appropriateness of causing a public declaration to be made to the Council to the effect that your Majesty is displeased by the miserable manner in which the affairs of the kingdom are being managed, and that your Majesty's affection for the King and his realm move you to protest against it, and keep the trust inviolate which the late King placed in you when in his extremity he recommended his young son to your Majesty, as they confess themselves; and that being in truth his friend, you will prevent him being turned during his minority from the observance of religion as his father left it; for in this observance lies the welfare of the King and his kingdom.
I hope that such a step would comfort and encourage the good men in the Council to resist their enemies; who may, at this juncture, attempt to set something afoot with France to the detriment of your Majesty, whereas the others will never forego your Majesty's friendship, knowing it to be necessary to the conservation of the realm, now brought to so low a pass, and so much weakened, that the English are not to be feared now as they were in the past. They have no men to send forth, and no money to keep an army. There is bitter strife among them, and little hope of good government, there being nobody of good judgment after the Earl of Southampton except Paget, who cannot please everybody; and the Marquis (sic) (fn. 15) of Winchester is still a prisoner without hope of release.
I beseech your Majesty most humbly to forgive the prolixity of my letter and the liberty of my speech. Whatever I have said is yet surpassed by these enormous evils; Sacramentarians, Anabaptists and Arians being openly favoured. May it please your Majesty to send me your commands and make known to me your good pleasure with regard to my letters of the 19th of last month as well as these, so that I may better regulate my conduct.
While I was writing these letters, the Lady Mary, hearing what happened with the Earl of Arundel and Sir Thomas (Arundell) who had insisted on entering her service, sent one of her trusted gentlemen to me with a letter for your Majesty and one addressed to me, in which she requested me to inform your Majesty of the recent occurrences, and of her perplexity. I find nothing to add to it.
Anthony Guidotti, a Florentine merchant and one of those employed here to treat of peace with France, returned yesterday. He keeps himself hidden from everybody, so that there are no means of learning the success of his negotiation from him. I have heard nevertheless from a friend of his that he carried good news, and it seems likely to be true that he has done something, as he is about to return to France in two or three days' time. I can find out nothing of the proposals set forth. Rumour says that the English would like to undertake to restore Boulogne on the King's coming of age.
There has been fighting in Scotland; the English have lost three hundred men, Spanish and English. Courtpennick's (fn. 16) men have crossed to Calais, but he and his captains are still here; and none of the others are being sent across, because of the understanding between the English and French.
London, 14 January, 1550.
Duplicate in cipher. French.


  • 1. “The Vidoto”: Anthony Guidotti, a Florentine merchant who was employed by the English Council in their overtures to France. The Council's version of the order of procedure in the business given to Van der Delft, was somewhat different.
  • 2. Anne de Montmorency, Constable of France.
  • 3. Cardinal Polo.
  • 4. This was Claude, fourth son of Claude, Duke of Guise. He afterwards became Duke of Aumale, and is not to be confused with his elder brother François, who bore the title of Aumale until he succeeded his father in April, 1550.
  • 5. Regents of Spain: Maximilian, elder son of Ferdinand, King of the Romans, and Maria, daughter of Charles V.
  • 6. Perhaps the informant frequently met with in the last volume of this Calendar, and known as Captain Marino.
  • 7. Literally, “I take as the father of my soul and of my body.”
  • 8. Beaulieu, or New Hall as it is more usually called, lies about 3 miles from Chelmsford. The fine Tudor house Mary inhabited still exists, and is now occupied by Canonesses Regular of S. Augustine.
  • 9. Northampton's divorce from his first wife had been granted, but before it had been decided whether he could marry again he took a second, his union with whom was allowed after some controversy. See Vol. IX., p. 263 note.
  • 10. Lord St. John.
  • 11. Lord Rich.
  • 12. Lord Russell.
  • 13. Sir Thomas Cheyne, Lord Warden of the Cinque-Ports.
  • 14. In Van der Delft's original Mr. Ely. This cannot well be a Howard; but Queen Catherine's mother was the widow of a Sir John Leigh. I have failed to ascertain whether she had children by her first husband, or whether a Leigh was sent to the Tower at this time. A Sir John Leigh was in favour under Mary' (Foreign Calendar, I, 98), and may well have suffered adversity under Edward VI.
  • 15. William Patriot was not created Marquis of Winchester until October, 1551, nor was he imprisoned at this time; just afterwards he was made Lord Treasurer. The Bishop of Winchester is clearly meant here.
  • 16. Kurt, or Conrad, Penmnck.