Spain: January 1550, 16-31

Pages 11-21

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, 16–31

Jan. 17. Paris. K. 1489. Simon Renard to the Emperor.
The Cardinal of Ferrara has written an account to the King with his own hand of everything that took place in the conclave up to the last day of last month, telling him that all is confusion, and the place that should be secret is public, and all that is done there is published. The King has therefore sent to Boulogne to have the peace concluded, and shows great inclination towards an understanding with the English.
Contemporary summary in Spanish.
Jan. 18. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 18. The Emperor to Van der Delft.
Your last letters are dated the nineteenth of last month. We are very grateful to you for the information contained therein, and request you to continue to send us news as often and as fully as you can. We particularly desire to know what truth there may be in the rumour that has reached here that the Protector has been set free and obtained the King's pardon for all the misdeeds laid to his charge.
For the rest, the English ambassador resident here said to the Bishop of Arras that the members of the Council were astonished to find that you had made no move since the return of the Lord Warden, and not solicited for an answer to the various points which were discussed, on which ample information was contained in our last letters; namely, whether the Council were still inclined to pursue the matter of the Lady Mary's proposed marriage with the Infante Don Luis, (fn. 1) made during the Protector's rule; the question of Sebastian Cabot, (fn. 2) the question of the earthworks lately undertaken near Gravelines, the cases of piracy and robberies committed against our subjects, and the request that the original letters from the Count of Tendes to the Constable might be given to us. The Council, he said, were told by the Lord Warden that we had given you information on these points, and were particularly surprised at your reticence, which they in their turn had felt called upon to imitate; it will be well, therefore, that you take the earliest opportunity of meeting the said Council, or some of its members, according to your own discretion, and speak to them in conformity with our last letters to you on all the points mentioned, and especially on the marriage, so that having ascertained their intention you may give our cousin (the Lady Mary) cause to entertain better hopes, this being more than ever needful, according to your last letters, because of the constant fear in which she now lives. You will also discuss the building of the earthwork, and the difficulty with regard to Cabot; and you will insist on knowing what they are resolved to do about him, whether they are going to let him return to Spain; or keep him in England.
According to their answer, you will do your utmost to speak to the said Cabot or send a message to him to the effect that his affair cannot be left pending any longer, and he must clearly understand that we require his services, and claim a right to them. He must declare his intentions plainly to you, and we will take what steps seem suitable to us after he has made known his resolve.
You will also pursue the matter of the vessel belonging to merchants of Burgos, which was seized by the English while carrying a cargo of sugar from the Canaries to Rouen. You will declare to the Council, as we have said and repeated to the ambassador concerning the said vessel, that we do not intend to submit to these proceedings, and are determined not to suffer them. to take toll of vessels carrying property belonging to our subjects or make an excuse of the hostilities with the French in which we have no share, and do not intend to take a part, to plunder and rob our subjects.
Brussels, 18 January, 1550.
Copy of minute. French.
Jan. 18. Vienna, Imp. Arch. B. 17. Van der Delft to the Emperor.
Sire: Immediately after the departure of the messenger with my letters of the 14th of the present month, I heard a rumour that the Florentine merchant (fn. 3) had laboured to such good purpose that the Lord Privy Seal, Dr. Wotton and Mason were to be sent to France to negotiate peace. I was about to send the news to your Majesty when my Lord Weynfort (sic) (fn. 4) and the said Wotton came to call on me, saying they were sent by the Council to communicate an important piece of business they had on hand. Wotton, acting as spokesman, said that the lords of the Council, ever mindful of the great friendship between your Majesty and their King, and the constant friendship of both houses in the past, wished, in accordance with their custom, to inform me at once, so that I might in my turn inform your Majesty, that a foreign merchant while on a visit to France was requested to ascertain on behalf of the King (of France's) Council, whether overtures of peace would find a hearing on this side. The said merchant had approached the Council on his return, but they had placed no faith in him, until they acquired the certainty that the King of France offered to send commissioners to negotiate, if the English would also name commissioners for the same purpose. The lords of the Council, being as ready as the French to ensure peace, were resolved to name certain commissioners to meet those sent by the King of France at the frontier, and desired to assure your Majesty that they would not subscribe to any measure harmful to the friendship between your Majesty and the King, or contrary to the treaties between you. I thanked the Council for the news communicated, adding that your Majesty would rejoice to hear of their making a good and stable peace with France, honourable to the King and advantageous to the country, because of the particular affection your Majesty bore the King and had always borne the late King his father. I did not doubt that in signing the peace they would take care not to infringe in any particular their treaties with your Majesty or fail to the smallest degree in the observance of their close friendship. I would inform your Majesty of the event, and had written already concerning public rumours current here. I had told the Earl of Warwick two months ago that it was a matter of common knowledge that a Florentine merchant by the name of Guidotti had been despatched to France to ascertain if any means of coming to terms could be found. The events which followed had not been wrapped in so much mystery but I could name to them, if they desired to hear it from me, those who were about to be sent to France; “of whom you, Dr. Wotton,” said I, “are one.” He replied, “We are ready to name them to you. They are my Lords the Privy Seal, Paget, Secretary Petre and Mason.” But he made no reply to what I had said of the Florentine merchant being sent by them in the first place, contrary to their assertion that the first move was made by the French. They departed without entering further into discussion, though I particularly asked them what they were going to do with Boulogne, standing, as it did, surrounded by the enemy's forts. It is said that matters have advanced so far that these lords do not doubt peace will be concluded; but it is impossible to find out the terms. They expect no doubt to be able to cover the Scottish business with their treaties with your Majesty. The Earl of Arundel is still a prisoner in his own house. The Earl of Warwick, who is still ill, had himself transferred from his own house to the house of a certain sheriff, a personage who ranks first in the city of London after the Lord Mayor.
He lodged with this same sheriff while he conducted the intrigue against the Protector, and no doubt his purpose was the same then as now, to have the city on his side. The Lord Mayor and the said sheriff are neighbours and friends, and between them govern the town. On the day he was carried there the watch was increased all over the town and also the number of the guards at the Tower. It was rumoured that the reason of these measures was the closer guarding of the Protector, who was more strictly confined at the same time, and forbidden the visits of his wife and friends; but this was only a feint, for those who were against his release are now made to suffer, and the said Warwick, who has succeeded in gaining full control of affairs, is openly favourable to the Protector, and their wives exchange banquets and festivities daily. I have heard from a secret and certain source that a few in the Council perceiving that they could not prevent the Protector being released took the opportunity to insist that the Duke of Norfolk and the Bishop of Winchester should be released also; and they were given the same liberty within the Tower that the Protector enjoyed. Warwick, who had not yet formed a party of his own, could not very well oppose this at the time; but having removed Arundel, he ordered the prisoners to be kept in strict confinement, and the Protector was included in the order, to lend a colour (of equity) to the whole transaction. But I was assured that the Protector would be out before long, and that he would be reinstated in the Council.
Sire: I hear that the Earl of Arundel is accused of having distributed, as Lord Chamberlain, certain garments and furs no longer required by the King for his use, and of having appropriated certain pieces of plate that were to be melted for coinage, and substituted other plate of his own to the same value, those that were to be melted being more to his taste. The two marquesses (fn. 5) spoke harshly to him because of it, and he answered, “I see you are trying to be rid of me; I am glad of it, and I will take myself off to my castle at Arundel.” They took him at his word, and put the worst construction on it. He is not of their party, and I do not know what will become of him.
The commissioners are leaving for France on Monday or Tuesday next.
London, January 18, 1550.
Duplicate. French.
Jan. 23 Vienna, Imp. Arch F. 29. Simon Renard to the Emperor.
Sire: The King received a despatch three days ago from M. de Saint-Pierre, who is at Bologna on the King's business, telling him that the election of the pope was going from bad to worse; and it appears that the cardinals have sworn to die in conclave rather than change their minds and correct their impious counsels. This alone would be enough to diminish and attack the authority of the Church, of the college of her ministers and her visible head, for it will be cause that in future many wander from the right path, and far from fostering religion, it will be a cause of great scandal, for those who should be a guiding light abide in darkness, and soil with profanity that which should be pure and holy above all things: the consecration to God and establishment in power of His vicar on earth, in whose person so much authority, dignity and might are united by the will of Heaven. I have heard the truth, and I know that all the rules referring to the creation of the pope have been broken, all the customs set aside, oaths broken, order perverted, ceremonies foregone. The conclave is conducted in public, and no good can come of the assembly.
Lesleu Munois(?) on his return from Fontainebleau assured me that the French cardinals had given their promise to the King rather to die within the conclave than to consent that any other should be pope than the one designated by him. He told me too, that there was no possible chance of getting a Frenchman elected, and that M. d'Aumale, (fn. 6) who understood this perfectly, managed by using great pressure and by private means to substitute the Cardinal of Ferrara to Cardinal Salviati in the King's preferences, and all unknown to the Queen.
He told me that the Theatine Cardinal (fn. 7) hit upon a stragatem to deceive the other cardinals, and induce the Cardinal of England to give up his votes. He spoke eloquently to the college of cardinals, quoting from the Fathers of the Church and from the holy councils, and, better still, from Holy Writ, reminding them how great and sacred was their task; how the office of supreme head of the Church was rather to be renounced than coveted, because of the great burden involved in the exercise and discharge of it, more particularly at the time when the barque of Peter was storm-tossed on an angry sea of troubles. He went on to admonish and exhort them all with supplications, suasions and reasoning to set aside all private feeling and escape the infamy and blame of giving birth to schisms and scandal, but unite their efforts in the fulfilment of their common task. He then declared that he, for his part, willingly gave up the suffrages and votes he had obtained; he thanked humbly those who desired to bestow so great an honour upon him, who deemed himself most unworthy of it, and invited the rival candidates to do the same.
Those who are well-informed say that he saw it was difficult to turn aside the votes of Farnese's party, as the Cardinal of England remained firm with 23 votes in three or four ballots, and that the only way was to induce him to renounce his votes and so gratify Cardinals Salviati and Ferrara, particularly as there were five cardinals who were said to be neutral and (good) churchmen, two of whom voted for the Bishop of Fano, who was sent on an embassy to your Majesty by the late Pope. They were men who would not do violence to their consciences or incur blame through the passions of others, and they would not have given way. The Cardinal of England, of his own free will, being a prudent and discreet man, or perhaps acting on the judgment and advice of Cardinal Farnese, declared to the college of cardinals that he had never shown any ambition, but rather avoided any show and appearance of ambition; that he had not intrigued for, nor solicited the votes that had been given to him, that he knew his capacity was not great enough to bear the burden of the papal tiara, but he believed the election to have proceeded legally, and he could not place the whole college in a fresh quandary by renouncing the votes he had obtained, like the Theatine Cardinal; adducing other arguments too, which I am told were good and pertinent. An account of the whole affair was sent to the King. He received the news of the safe arrival of the French cardinals at Rome at the same time, and of the illness of the Cardinal of Bologna, who left the conclave.
The King is of opinion that your Majesty will write to him to elect a pope by common consent and recommend his creation to the cardinals. Some of the Council have told me that your Majesty expected the same, but that it would come to nothing, as neither side would be willing to make the first overtures....
Melun, 23 January, 1550.
Contemporary decipherment. French.
Jan. 25. Simancas. E. 504. The Emperor to the King and Queen of Bohemia.
With regard to what was written to you lately about the French and English pirates, it was done after mature consideration, as an attempt to give some satisfaction to our subjects; but we well knew the proposed remedy was not adequate, nor can we think of any expedient that would not lead to trouble. This is to be avoided at all costs, considering the present aspect of affairs. It was well to have the letters to the corregidores sent off as you say, so that they might inform you of the extent of the damages sustained, and when the answers come in, let all those who can arm for their own defence be encouraged to do so with all diligence. The greater number among them have no business with France at all.
We have examined the account sent in by the Asturian, and the full information on the exploits of the said English and French (pirates). We have had confirmation of it through other sources, and have heard that some vessels laden with goods have lately been brought into La Rochelle. We have written to our ambassador in France to find some remedy, and we have spoken to the King's ambassador resident here....
Brussels, 25 January, 1550.
Duplicate. Spanish. The first paragraph in cipher.
Jan. 28 Brussels. L. A. 44. Count de Reuil to the Queen Dowager.
Madam: I know that you have been informed, by a letter from the captain of Gravelines and also from another quarter, of the defeat of the English near Boulogne. Yesterday evening a person came to me, sent by one who was with the French in this engagement, which opened favourably to the English, for the French ran as far as their lansquenets, who were drawn up in order, with a stream in front of them. M. du Biez was then informed that the English had started plundering, and that their officers were unable to get them together, so he advanced with some horse and a few lansquenets and put the English to rout. They fled without seeking to defend themselves, except for some captains and gentlemen, most of whom were killed. Such are the fortunes of war. A captain who has his master's service at heart must keep his eyes open.
(The letter concludes with an account of the French frontier fortifications, which are manned by ill-paid, ill-fed troops.)
The Camp, 28 January, 1550.
Holograph. French.
Jan. 31. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 17. Van der Delft to the Emperor.
Sire: After receiving your Majesty's letters of the 18th of the present month, I immediately asked for an audience. It was put off till yesterday, as the lords of the Council sent word to me that they were exceedingly busy with the closing of Parliament. I hear that Parliament will continue to sit for ten or twelve days more, there being trouble on the matter of religion.
I went yesterday to the said lords of the Council, and found none except the Lord Chancellor and the Great Master of the Household who knew anything at all about my business, or the matter concerning the Lady Mary. The latter lord did his best to avoid being drawn into it; and told me to begin by making my communications to the other members of the Council, as he was obliged to accompany to the King's presence the Portuguese doctor who has been here for some years attending to Portuguese affairs, and was lately recalled by his master. It seemed to me advisable to wait for the Great Master's return; and I then declared to him what your Majesty desired me to say respecting the bulwark recently erected, the seizure of a French vessel near Gravelines, Sebastian Cabot's mission, the sugar and alum belonging to your Majesty's subjects, reminding them also of the solicitations I had made to obtain definite answers on the said points, as reason and friendship demanded. I added that your Majesty now demanded that they should provide means whereby your subjects might be protected from daily spoliation and attack, or your Majesty would acquiesce no longer in the present state of affairs. I declared also that your Majesty desired to have the original letters of the Count of Tendes to the Constable, which had been exhibited to me here after Ambassador Hoby had laid the copies of them before your Majesty. I went on to say that I supposed they had heard from the Lord Warden that your Majesty desired to know if they were still of the same mind with respect to the marriage between the Lady Mary and the Infante of Portugal proposed by Paget during his recent mission to your Majesty. Thereupon they desired me to withdraw into another room, but I might well have imagined myself among them so loudly did they carry on their consultation; nor could I hope that a discussion so heated would be the prelude to a soft answer. They recalled me, and said that they wished to discuss the questions of the Lady Mary's marriage, of the letters from the Count of Tendes, and of Sebastian Cabot, before giving me a final reply. The alum and sugar, being a matter that came under the jurisdiction of the Admiralty Court, should be referred to the proper court, and justice should be done to the interested parties, according to equity and the law.
I then asked them what was to be done about the French vessel seized near Gravelines, within your Majesty's jurisdiction, which was one of the points I had mentioned. I could see they had not discussed that matter at all, but so as to give me some sort of answer, they said that was also the business of the Admiralty, and the question must be followed up in the Admiral's court. They retorted to my declaration that your Majesty would no longer submit to the robberies and attacks committed daily against your subjects, by saying that they had more cause for complaint than your Majesty's subjects, for your Majesty notoriously and conspicuously and to the King's great detriment protected and permitted the trade of his enemies.
After this I requested them to give me a prompt answer to the various questions which they had set aside for further deliberation, so that I might forward it to your Majesty within a suitable time. I declared myself greatly astonished that they should direct me to take proceedings concerning the alum and sugar and the vessel seized at Gravelines through the Admiralty Court. Your Majesty could not accept such a proposal, particularly in this case, considering that we were ready to give a guarantee to the value of the goods. But, if anyone were subsequently to try to attack our rights, we would defend the case before the law, though I had never yet in all the years I had spent in England seen any judgment rendered by the Admiralty Court that could be said to be an encouragement to submit to its decisions. Property belonging to us had been divided up there and found there, and it had profited your Majesty's subjects but little to point out the pirates who had robbed them, for the same pirates had been encouraged and employed in the King's service.
I declared that your Majesty's subjects had never suffered so much at the hands of the French in time of war, or from any of their enemies, as they suffered from the English who were their close friends. Dr. Wotton then replied that when he was ambassador to your Majesty he had noticed that all cases of the same nature were referred to the Admiralty Court, and it should not astonish us if we found they did the same. I asked him to mention one single instance to me in which your Majesty had refused to see justice done in so palpable a case as this, or to give me the name of one of your Majesty's subjects who had been guilty of protecting the trade of the French; and as he could give me no instance, I said to him that his answer was mere words. The Marquis of Northampton then accused me of using mere words too, when I accused the late Admiral of robbery, wishing to palliate his actions, as he had married his sister, widow of the late King. I retorted that I could make my words good with better instances than would serve the friendship between your Majesty and the King; and as for the Admiral, I asked him to tell me himself whether he had been blameless or not. He did not answer at once, but after a little thought he said: “I don't blame him.” And then he began to get exceedingly angry. ThenMaster Herbert, the King's Master of the Horse, who married another sister of the said Marquis, and who knows no other language but his native English and can neither read nor write, started shouting at the top of his voice. He is also in Warwick's party, and he made it plain. I heard nothing but the words “my Lord Admiral,” and saw him make some strange gestures; but as I could not understand all he said I must presume that he wished to confirm the Marquis of Northampton's defence of the late Admiral, and insisted that I should be sent to the Admiralty Court with my solicitations, the Earl of Warwick being now Admiral. All those of his party shouted at once to Dr. Wotton in their own language, and I understood: “Pack him off and tell him we refer him to the Admiralty Court.”
When Dr. Wotton transmitted the said answer to me, I replied that I could not accept it, and that I perceived that they had not understood my request. There could be no question of our having to prove our legal title to the goods in question before the Admiralty Court or Court of Chancery, or any other court whatsoever; I but had come before them at your Majesty's command, to request them to allow us to keep and use our own property under sufficient guarantee. This having been generally granted as reason demanded, particularly in the case of the vessel freighted with alum, it would have been allowed equally in the case of the other, if she had come into Bristol at the same time.
I demanded their reply to this question: would they allow it or not? As to the vessel seized near Gravelines within your Majesty's jurisdiction, they must give me the answer which they desired me to transmit to your Majesty.
After this speech the Marquis of Northampton appeared somewhat calmer, and said, as if he had hit upon a good way of satisfying me: “The best thing will be for you to apply to the Earl of Warwick, the Lord Admiral, and he will give you an answer to all you lay before him.” I replied that your Majesty had ordered me to speak to the Council, and having obeyed my orders, I desired to hear their answer. I then noticed they were more embarassed than before, and finally they said to me that they would communicate the business to Warwick, the Lord Admiral, and would afterwards give me their answer; from which it is clear that the said Warwick has the whip hand of them all, using for his own ends these Marquises and Master Herberts whom no one dares to contradict. During the whole interview neither the Great Master (of the Household) nor the Chancellor nor any of the other Lords of the Council said a single word.
The character of the interview was such, Sire, that I who know myself to be one of the humblest and most ignorant of your subjects felt sorry for myself for being in a place where no regard was shown for either reason, or honesty, or the friendship of your Majesty. We shall see what sort of an answer they will give you. I shall solicit it every day without resting. In the meantime, I have thought it suitable to inform your Majesty of what happened, by the same messenger who brought me your Majesty's letters, and who will also pick up my letters of the 18th, still detained at Dover as I have heard this day, the messenger having been unable to cross the Straits, although he applied personally for permission to cross to the Lord Privy Seal and Paget who were there, on the ground that he was the bearer of my letters to your Majesty. These two gentlemen answered him, as I hear, that the King's business was more urgent than your Majesty's. I have sent to court to-day for a passport for (the bearer of) these letters, and lodged a complaint that the letters I had written to your Majesty at their (the Council's) request had been detained at Dover. Dr. Wotton sent me a reply that he was greatly astonished to hear it and could hardly believe it, since they had themselves asked me to inform your Majesty of their communication; and that he would mention it to the Lords of the Council. Shortly afterwards I received a sealed letter to serve as passport; and a message to the effect that the Council had ordered the Straits to be closed because of the many crimes committed here, and so that the Italians should not desert, but that they were sorry that my messenger should have been delayed so long. Nevertheless, the excuse does not apply to the Lord Privy Seal and to Paget if the messenger's report is correct. The wind, too, has been unwilling to serve us.
In case they persist in their present answer, Sire, as may he feared considering how little respect they show for your Majesty's service, and how sure they are making of the peace with France, your Majesty will know best what means will prove most efficacious to relieve your subjects from the great losses they constantly suffer. I cannot forbear from saying what would be found true, that if any general embargo were laid again on the English oversea, it would prove more damaging to your Majesty's subjects than to the English for self-evident reasons. There are means whereby the alum may be recuperated, however; for the vessel that took the cargo of alum and brought it here has just gone to Spain freighted with merchandise, and might be detained there by the (interested) parties until they receive satisfaction, as it was the cause of loss to them, and this course of action would not, therefore, constitute a breach of the treaties.
Sire: I can only say, concerning the affairs of the kingdom, what I think myself, that everything is going to ruin. Next Sunday the highest offices in the kingdom will change hands. The Earl of Warwick's pre-eminence will be established. He is to be Great Master of England (fn. 8) (sic), and the Great Master (of the Household) is to be made Lord Treasurer, which was the Protector's office. The Marquis of Northampton will be Lord Chamberlain, the Marquis of Dorset Justice Itinerant of the King's Forests, and Sir Anthony Wingfield Vice-Chamberlain in place of the Earl of Arundel; so Warwick will have the power over land and sea in his own hands. Now the good men in the King's service are revealed as such, for they are all turned away and discountenanced, being under suspicion of not approving entirely of the new religion, and in the end not one will escape out of their hands if God does not provide for their safety. Yesterday, Sir Thomas Arundell, who was a prisoner in his house, was sent to the Tower. I do not know if the same order was made for the Earl of Southampton. The Earl of Warwick continues to shut himself up and refuses to see anyone, and sends out these orders from his place of retirement.
Concerning the peace, I have been able to find out nothing more except that the Council consider it made. I know not how the rumour has come to be spread that your Majesty wishes to make war on France. I opine that your Majesty's hands are full enough without taking concern for their actions.
As for Sebastian Cabot, I believe I can truthfully assure your Majesty that he desires nothing so much in the world as to be able to speak once to your Majesty, and he often comes to me secretly to ask me to write to your Majesty so that he may be delivered from this captivity; and although they offer him high wages here, his only wish is to die in your Majesty's service. He is trying to persuade me that a million in gold is at stake on his being able to give your Majesty some secret information. He also says that it would be well if the charts that are now being made at Seville were suppressed until he can furnish the explanation to your Majesty. He declares it is of the highest importance. He has given me a letter he received from Seville to send to your Majesty, in the hope that you will be pleased to order that he shall not be deprived of his property there.
London, 31 January.
Duplicate in cipher. French.


  • 1. Luis, younger son of Emmanuel I, King of Portugal. He was the Emperor's brother-in-law, as the Empress Isabella was his sister.
  • 2. Sebastian Cabot, then residing in England, said he had information of great importance which he desired to impart to the Emperor in person. In reply to Van der Delft's applications for permission for him to go to Flanders or Spain, the English Council asserted that Cabot was too old to travel, and did not wish to leave England. See Vol. IX.
  • 3. Antonio Guidotti. On April 17th, 1550, “Sir Anthony Guydotti” received a grant of an annuity of 250l. from the King for his pains, and his son John one of 37l. 10s. (Rymer).
  • 4. Van der Delft thus refers to Sir Anthony Wingfield.
  • 5. Dorset and Northampton.
  • 6. François, Duke of Aumale, who succeeded his father as Duke of Guise in April, 1550.
  • 7. Pietio Caraffa, afterwards Pope Paul IV.
  • 8. Van der Delft's information is inaccurate. Warwick became President of the Council; in May, he surrendered his post of Lord High Admiral in Lord Clinton's favour. The Great Master of the Household (William Paulet, Lord St. John) became Lord Treasurer and Earl of Wiltshire. Dorset's office, Van der Delft describes as grand veneur et garde dea forests. Sir Anthony Wingfield had been Vice-Chamberlain since 1539; in 1550 he became Controller in succession to Paget. The Earl of Arundel had been Lord Chamberlain, not Vice-Chamberlain.