Spain: August 1550, 1-15

Pages 148-155

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

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August 1550, 1–15

Aug. 3. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 18. The Queen Dowager to Jehan Scheyfve.
We have received your letters of the 26th of last month. The day after their reception, the English ambassador (Chamberlain) came to ask us permission to export out of the country 40 lasts of gunpowder, saying that their agent from England (i.e. the English agent) had purchased them some time ago, and that according to the first Commercial Convention made between them and the late Duke Philip, the Emperor was obliged to allow it. We replied that his Majesty, to whom we had written on the subject, did not see fit to give his consent, as they were not at war; and the treaties bound us to assist them with munitions of war only if their country were invaded, or if they were waging war in France. He replied upholding the statement that the Commercial Convention spoke in general terms (i.e., made no special conditions), and that subsequent treaties could not invalidate what was set forth therein. Moreover, we might grant the permission on our own authority without writing to the Emperor about it. We replied that in similar contingencies we had always written to the Emperor, and could give no orders without his authority.
We afterwards declared to him that on arriving at Lierre on our return from Cleves, the news were given us that our cousin the Lady Mary, Princess of England, had been brought and conducted hither by M. d'Eecke. Our astonishment was very great, for a guest of her quality ought not to reach this country without our being given due warning. We heard afterwards that the rumour had been spread by the English, for whom the actual presence of the Lady Mary among them should have been a disproof. We could not fathom what purpose the originators of the report had in mind, but we believed it had sprung from no good motive. He replied that there were always plenty of people who spoke at random, that no such rumour had reached him personally, (fn. 1) but he supposed we would not be sorry to see her. We replied that we would be very glad to see the Princess because of her close relationship to us, and the affection we bore her: but not in that fashion. He replied that untrue reports were often spread among the people; and he believed the Lady Mary would be no less pleased to see us, but with the King's knowledge and consent. We told him that on such conditions we would wish it and welcome her, and held it for certain that she would not wish it in any other wise herself, for we did not think the Council would give her cause to desire it otherwise than by the King's knowledge and consent. He affirmed that they would not, as they only wished to treat her well and serve her as the King's sister and near relative of his Majesty. You will send an account of all this to our cousin, through one of your people competent to perform the task, so that if something is said to her she may the better know how to conduct herself in this matter. As the rumour proceeds from the English, it is likely enough that it was spread abroad to furnish an excuse for keeping her more closely watched; and in the circumstances she could not do better than live quietly in her own house as she has done up to the present. If the Council were to speak to you on the subject, or any member of it mention it to you privately, you will reply according to what is set down above.
When this point was disposed of, we told him the reason why M. d'Eecke had approached the English coast with our warships, namely because constant information reached us of Scottish pirates lurking in the Thames-mouth, to surprise our merchants and good people, which the English on their side did nothing to discourage, but rather favoured them. M. d'Eecke was sent to search for them and overtake them with the said warships. He found that the Scottish pirates had abandoned the Thames two days previously, and he chased them as far as Harwich, where the vessels had been only two hours before he got there. He pursued them to a place where a small castle offered them protection and safety. This was the reason of his journey, which had nevertheless received a different interpretation, whereas it would better behove the English to carry out the letter of the treaties and refuse protection and shelter to the Scottish pirates. He answered that he knew it to be a breach of the treaties, and that a placard had been published in England expressly forbidding their subjects to shelter any Scottish pirates. The complaint made by you to the Council was, he said, very sharp indeed; and they had replied to you that you should give them a written list of the names and surnames of those whom we accused of having harboured pirates. When this was done they would take stops that should satisfy us. He added that he thought no fresh incursion of pirates on the English coast against our subjects had taken place since the publication of the placard, and no plunder landed there. If the contrary were proved, a prompt remedy would be provided, the Council being full of good-will in the matter. We replied that we had heard the placard was first published when the warships were sent in pursuit of the Scottish pirates. No treaty permitted them to favour directly or indirectly the Scottish pirates or receive goods robbed from us. We were well aware that the Council had means to enforce obedience to their commands when and where they pleased, but they had shown little alacrity in executing the said placard against the pirates. Even lately, and after the publication was made, they (the pirates) had seized one of our vessels and brought it into an English port, as you had complained to the Council in the discharge of your duty, which compelled you also to speak forcibly, as the matter was not one which could be tolerated, and no effective remedy was forthcoming. It constituted a direct infringement of our treaties with England. We added that the day after you made your complaint to the Council, you sent them a list of the names of the pirates and those who had sheltered and assisted them, and bought the stolen goods from them. We declared that we were moved to speak openly on the matter by our wish to preserve good friendship between the two countries. This should compel them to mete out exemplary punishment to the said pirates and to those among their subjects who gave them shelter and assistance, and to order the stolen goods to be restored at once to their rightful owners, without further delay. You will assist the fulfilment of this object with all your power.
Binche, 3 August, 1550.
Copy of a minute. French.
Aug. 3. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 17. Jehan Scheyfve to the Emperor.
Sire: In accordance with my last letters to your Majesty of July 26th, I sent my man to the Lady Mary to gather more detailed information on what had taken place about the alleged prohibition issued to her chaplains.
The Lady Mary declared to him that during her sojourn in a house of hers about two miles from Beaulieu (or New Hall), where she is at present, she sent her almoner over to Beaulieu to make ready to say mass, at which she intended to be present. As she did not appear, the almoner said mass before certain members of her household. A few days afterwards, the Sheriff, my Lord Essex (sic), (fn. 2) ordered it to be published and cried in the parish of Boreham, near Beaulieu, that the almoner, Mr. Francis Mallet, priest, had infringed the King's edicts and statutes concerning religion. I send a duplicate of these to your Majesty. The said almoner, hearing he might be punished according to the penalties provided in the said statutes, took counsel with himself and decided that it was safer to go away for some time until he could feel assured of being allowed to practise his calling freely and openly. It is not likely that the penalties will be enforced until after Michaelmas, when Parliament is to assemble. In my opinion they are waiting to see how your Majesty will take it. Another of the Lady Marys chaplains was also indicted at the same time under suspicion of the same offence; but he continues to celebrate and recite the services according to the ancient religion.
Moreover, the Chancellor went to see the Lady Mary a few days after the publication and prohibition had taken place. The Lady Mary asked him in conversation why such a course had been adopted in the case of her chaplains, and told him she could never believe that the King and his Council had ordered it to be done, as she had permission to live according to her ancient faith and religion. The Chancellor seemed much astonished and said he knew nothing whatever about it.
On the 25th of the said month the Chancellor went once more with the Secretary, Doctor Petre, to visit the Lady Mary. He carried letters of credence from the King and his Council, signed by twelve of them, to the effect that they had special orders and commission to request her to go to Court and visit the King's Majesty her brother. My Lady was greatly astonished and presented what excuses she could, objecting her indisposition, the distance at which she found herself from his Majesty's court, the smallness of the house (where the King was?), and the fact that she had been with him not long ago. They replied that if my Lady were poorly, a change of air and abode would be beneficial to her and improve her health. She replied that if she found she needed change of air she would rather go to one of her own houses where she would find more ease and rest. They did not reveal their real object further, but the Lady Mary noticed quite well that they had something else in their minds.
She repeated to the Chancellor in the presence of the Secretary (Petre), while they were urging their proposals, the prohibition issued to her chaplains, and asked what the King and his Council meant by it. They replied that they knew nothing about it and that my Lord Essex (sic) might have made the prohibition without orders from the Council; adding however that he had done no more than his duty according to his office, and must therefore be forgiven. Upon this they took their leave of the Lady Mary. The Chancellor sought out the Controller (of the Princess's household) and made the same request to him as to his mistress, saying he was a subject and servant of the King, and it was his duty to advise my Lady and induce her to go to court, as above. He insisted specially on the fact that both the King and his Council were very desirous that she should go, and he would render a service and please the King and Council by doing his best in the matter. The Controller replied he felt pretty certain that the Lady Mary, his mistress, would not listen to any persuasions on the subject, and he therefore did not intend to mention it. The Chancellor reproved him sharply for this.
On the 28th following, the Chancellor visited the Lady Mary for the third time, and took his wife with him. He gave, as his reasons for going, the hunting season and his wish to offer an entertainment to the Lady Mary. When the hunt was over, he besought the Lady Mary to accept his hospitality in his own house for a few days and amuse herself by witnessing certain sports. He pressed her to accept with a certain importunity; but she always thanked him and excused herself. After reflecting and considering well the various events just described, the Lady Mary formed the opinion that she was under some suspicion, and was watched by the Council, who might suppose her to have some closer understanding with your Majesty of a secret character. She is in fear that considering their disposition, they may hereafter oppress and burden her further.
London, 3 August, 1550.
Signed. Cipher. French.
Postscript.—(Also written in cipher, on a separate sheet.)
It is publicly reported here that M. d'Eecke went to certain harbours and ports in Norfolk the other day and that he and Mr. Secretary Duboys, disguised as seamen, visited the Lady Mary with the intention of taking her out of the kingdom. The Council are greatly scandalised and displeased, and the people alarmed. It is supposed that she was invited to go to court, where the Council is to assemble in full almost at once, for this very reason.
For the last five or six days a hundred soldiers have been sent to each port and harbour in the neighbourhood of the Lady Mary's house, and the reason given is that M. d'Eecke has been seen at these places, on the watch for the Lady Mary. Everybody here is shocked at the placards concerning religion (fn. 3) which the Emperor (sic) is about to publish at Antwerp. They call them the real and thorough Spanish Inquisition. Eighteen to twenty vessels, freighted with goods of various lands that set forth from this kingdom, have returned here during the last few days because of the placards. Several English merchants have returned also. All these events combine to make the people fear that a war may follow. Everybody is in great perplexity.
Aug. 4. Vienna, Imp. Arch. F. 29. Simon Renard to the Emperor.
The Italian of whom I wrote before to your Majesty, who came to this court with the English ambassador (fn. 4) and had offered himself for your Majesty's service, is called Bernardino Ferrario. The Constable inflicted an open affront upon him the other day. He entered the Constable's chamber together with the Prior of Capua, with whom he was discussing the release of certain Englishmen who had been sent to the galleys. The Constable, perceiving him, insultingly ordered him out of the room, saying he should not have dared to present himself there. I hear that the said Bernardino was suspected some time ago of having done a bad turn to the French on behalf of the King of England. The Constable had not forgotten it. Bernardino is to go back to your Majesty's court in the same capacity to the English ambassador there. I have spoken with him twice or three times. He seems to be a man of no weight, deserving little confidence, and not endowed with great judgment or intelligence. . . . The King is leaving for Paris on Monday to despatch the two hundred thousand crowns still owing to complete the payment agreed with the English. The town of Paris is lending a hundred thousand crowns towards it, taking the proceeds of a certain duty in exchange. . . .
Poissy, 4 August, 1550.
Signed. Cipher. French.
Aug. 11. Brussels, E.A. 3681. The Queen Dowager to Jehan Scheyfve.
We have received your letters of the first of the month, the matter whereof falls under three heads. The first concerning the chaplains of our cousin the Lady Mary, and what has happened of direct import to her; also the conversations she has had with the Lord Chancellor. The second, the reports circulated in England with respect to M. d'Eecke's journey and the supposed object of it, namely to carry off our cousin to this country. The third, dealing with fresh depredations committed by Scottish pirates. We will reply in detail to each point.
First, concerning the (celebration of the) mass, the Emperor always having dealt with that point himself, as one of the greatest importance, we think best to refer you to the orders his Majesty will send you on the subject.
As to the second point, we wrote to you recently an account of the conversation we held with the English ambassador resident here. We deemed it advisable to return to the subject and declare to him what you wrote to us, especially that it was said openly in England that M. d'Eecke had visited our cousin in disguise, with the object of carrying her out of the country. This was a lying report, an invention against the truth. M. d'Eecke did not set foot on English soil in any English port; much less did he have speech with our cousin. He certified this to us himself in his letters. We must conjecture that these mischievous reports proceeded from, and were published abroad by, some evilly-disposed persons who sought by these means to discredit his Majesty and our cousin in the eyes of the people of England. We desired to mention the subject to him again, the report being entirely false, as we had told him before. We assured him that M. d'Eecke had not landed in England, and that his journey had a very different object, namely to encounter at sea the Scottish pirates who had been harboured in England.
He replied to us that he believed the report had originated in these countries and not in England. He first heard it in Antwerp; and it was current in various other places. It might have been written to England and divulged, but it did not have its origin there. He maintained this without wavering, although we affirmed that we knew the English had first started the rumour. He added that he did not believe it, nor would he add faith so lightly to any report.
We spoke on the third point to him, complaining that the Scots were still carrying on their piratical attacks on his Majesty's subjects, and were still being given shelter in England. We received constant complaints on the subject; and had lately received more. These occurrences did not bear out the assurance we had received from him that the Council of England would enforce with due severity the recent placard against pirates and those who sheltered them.
He replied that he could not believe them to have been harboured in England. He knew the Council had the firm intention not to allow it; on the contrary, they were resolved to enforce the placard, as he had assured us before. If any abuses occurred, he assured us that the Council would punish their authors according to the law if the said abuses were duly brought to their notice, and justice demanded it. We replied that no complaints were made without ample justification. We would order that the fresh grievances should be set forth in writing, and would give him a detailed account of them, together with a list of the ports where the said pirates were harboured and habitually entertained by the natives. We enclose a copy of the document. (fn. 5)
This point disposed of, the ambassador spoke of your complaint to the Council that the principal officers at Calais had attempted to coerce our subjects employed there, to accept the new religion and live according to its tenets. He declared there was no truth in it; for in England they did not use pressure on foreigners in matters of religion. He supported his contention by saying that our merchants living in England were not forbidden to have mass said privately in their houses. Perhaps some of the people who frequented Calais went of their own free will to listen to the preachers; but they were not compelled to go. There was no ground for complaint against the English, if our subjects acted according to their own inclinations.
We told him that we had received information that the Deputy-Governor of Calais had attempted compulsion on certain subjects of ours, and had tried punishing others for hearing mass when they returned to their homes after exercising their trades in Calais, whither many went from. West Flanders to work at the wool. They were in the habit of returning home at the end of the week. We had ordered you to lodge a complaint with the Council. We were not aware that any of our subjects had frequented their predications. If this were the case, we should exile them from the country, and punish any who might be found there.
He told us that you had made an urgent application to the Council for the recovery of certain sums proceeding from the sale of sugar formerly seized by English subjects from the French. (fn. 6) The tone of your application was deemed harsh; because the Council had acceded to the urgent request of your predecessor Van der Delft, and decided to abandon the prize in favour of the merchants who claimed it, to please and gratify the Emperor and ourselves. This was done, although according to the English Admiralty laws, observed for 200 years past, they had a right to confiscate the goods as belonging to the enemy. We ought to be content, therefore, with what had been returned. We replied that we supposed your request tended to ensure the restitution of their property to his Majesty's subjects. We knew well enough that the prize had been returned on a guarantee and it was therefore highly probable that the whole might be claimed; the value of what was sold, as well as the goods that remained unsold. The law decreeing that enemy's property found on vessels of friends could be confiscated as well, would fall too severely upon our subjects. You will do well to ascertain the usage in England, and send us information on the subject, so that we may provide as the case requires over here.
Binche, 11 August, 1550.
Minute. French.


  • 1.
  • 2. This must be a mistake on Scheyfve's part. The earldom of Essex at this time belonged to William Parr, Marquis of Northampton. The Sheriff of Essex is probably meant.
  • 3.
  • 4. See p. 88.
  • 5. The copy is not to be found.
  • 6. i.e. sugar belonging to subjects of the Emperor, and seized by Englishmen, who had found it on board French Vessels, while the war between France and England was in progress. See pp. 17, 41, etc.