Spain: November 1550

Pages 184-192

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

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November 1550

Nov. 4. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 17. Jehan Scheyfve to the Queen Dowager.
Madam: I have received your Majesty's letters of the 22nd of October ordering me to visit the Lady Mary, Princess of England, as soon as it was possible for me to do so without making too bad an impression on my Lords of the Council; or that, failing my going, I should send one of my people able to execute the errand, to communicate the contents of the said letters to the Princess. I shall take an early opportunity of going myself to visit the Lady Mary, within the next few days as I hope. I will speak to her fully according to your Majesty's orders, and will act in accordance with your Majesty's recommendations. I am despatching my man to the said Princess at once to deliver the private letters from your Majesty which will be a source of great joy to her.
Madam: I cannot forbear to repeat my request to your Majesty that I may be permitted to return, the term of my legation being long past. I trust entirely to the assurance I received from your Majesty in this respect at the time of my departure; and I have always reckoned upon its fulfilment. I beseech you most humbly, Madam, to be pleased to recall me and bestow the office on some personage competent to discharge it; and also to forgive me if I appear troublesome and importunate. Nevertheless, if it please the Emperor and your Majesty that I shall continue to hold the post for a term, say of two or three years, I will not incur the penalties of disobedience. I will do my best, as indeed apart from my own inclination in the matter, duty compels me to do, and exert myself to the utmost to fulfil my duty as my limited abilities will allow. In that case I hope and trust that your Majesty with your accustomed discretion will grant me my usual salary, and allow me something for the extra expense I shall be put to in taking up my residence here permanently, as is usually done in the case of other ambassadors.
As to my salary: the ten florins I receive daily and my pay as a Councillor,—which has always been the amount given to ambassadors who were councillors and Masters of Requests—would be quite insufficient for my expenses here.
I have tried it already, and I see it cannot be done if any attempt is to be made to honour the Emperor's reputation.
I have had to spend a good deal of my private fortune in keeping up a suitable establishment, as everything has doubled in price, particularly during the last few years, and there is no hope that matters will mend. I do not think it is your Majesty's intention that I should be a loser. I remember your Majesty's kind answer when I spoke to you concerning certain details of this nature before my departure, and I now desire to remind your Majesty of it. I am therefore sending my man to your Majesty so that he may ascertain your good pleasure, and take with him certain letters describing current events.
London, 4 November, 1550.
Duplicate. French.
Nov. 4. Vienna, Imp. Arch E. 17. Jehan Scheyfve to the Queen Dowager.
My Lord (i.e. the Master of) Erskine has been here in communication with the Council on certain differences concerning the territory round Berwick. He has now crossed to France. They could not come to an agreement, and the English are not pleased. They were of opinion here that he was sent on a mission to the Emperor with the Dean of Glasgow, to treat Scottish affairs with his Majesty. The English seem to think the whole business a suspicious one.
The French and Scots are intending to build and are erecting a fort upon a height near Berwick, also picked out by the English for the same purpose. They (the English) despatched troops, both mounted and on foot, to prevent the building of the fort, which might command Berwick and open a, road into England for the Scots.
My Lords of the Council have met frequently of late with certain captains to discuss the new move made by the French to seize the territory of Sandingfield, between Guines and Calais. They intend to fortify the abbey of Castelabe (?) and build another fort at Capse (sic) (fn. 1) near Calais. The Council have sent across about three or four hundred horse and eight or nine hundred foot, with fourteen pieces of artillery. They are levying more men, and express a hope that the Emperor will show them favour in the matter of Calais, and in other things too.
The two events arriving together have caused a good deal of anxiety to the English, for they fear that the King of France may have some plan in his head, especially if he considers how matters have gone recently, and how weakened and powerless the kingdom has become because of the divisions between the nobles and those who govern. They might even yield to the temptation of accepting eventualities instead of rousing themselves to ward them off, in the hope of getting the upper hand of their opponents at home. In addition to this, the people are discontented, the religious sects stir up strife, provisions are dear and money is scarce. The young King cannot yet remedy any of these troubles owing to his tender age.
There are deep causes of discord among the members of the Council. Some take Warwick's side, others my Lord of Somerset's. This last is doing his utmost to acquire friends, and especially to win over the people, which he had not tried to do before. I have heard from a safe source that my Lord Warwick is about to cast off his wife and marry my Lady Elizabeth, daughter of the late King, with whom he is said to have had several secret and intimate personal communications; and by these means he will aspire to the crown.
A few days ago the King of England fell suddenly ill, and his recovery was despaired of. Even the physicians had given him up. The news were kept very secret.
It is said that the English trusted M. le Vidame too much and that he has taken advantage of them all round, especially of those who were always with him. He is expected to make his way from Scotland or Ireland to France without showing himself in England.
The King of Denmark has sent an ambassador to remonstrate with the Council on the constant pillage and robberies committed by the English in Ireland (sic) (fn. 2) during the last few years, and particularly last summer. The ambassador is also charged to prosecute in the name of private persons subjects of the said King, for certain attacks committed on their property. It appears that the Council is very obdurate and refuses to order that compensation be made or the guilty punished. The King of Denmark has written sharply to the King of England on the subject.
Duplicate. French.
Nov. 9. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 1. The Emperor to Edward VI.
We have received your letters sent through Mr. Richard Morison, your councillor and gentleman of your privy-chamber, and have learnt that you require personally the services of Sir Philip Hoby, your present ambassador to our Court, and are therefore about to revoke him and appoint the said Mr. Richard Morison in his place. The said Sir Philip Hoby has proved himself very acceptable to us in the discharge of his duties, which he has performed in a modest and becoming manner. He has conducted himself dutifully where our service was concerned, and for these reasons we would desire him to continue to reside here. Nevertheless, as it is your pleasure to recall him, we are pleased to grant him leave to depart. We have noted and accepted the nomination of the said Mr. Richard Morison who shall be very welcome here. You may feel assured that whenever necessity requires it, he shall be granted an audience, and that he shall be kindly treated and favoured in a manner befitting the true and perfect friendship between us.
Augsburg, 9 November, 1550.
Copy. French.
Nov. 11. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 18. The Bishop of Arras to Jehan Scheyfve.
The new English ambassador, whom you mentioned in your last letters to the Emperor has arrived, and the former one has taken leave of his Majesty before returning to England. Both together made a declaration to the Emperor on behalf of the King, their master, an account of which you will find in the document enclosed herewith, together with the answer that was given to them on his Majesty's behalf. I need not enter into further details of the matter. The account will serve to give you information, so that if you hear the subject spoken of, or if it is mentioned to you, you may know what has occurred, and frame your answer accordingly. There is no need for you to mention it otherwise. These letters are not signed by his Majesty, because he has been sorely afflicted by the gout of late, and his hands are still weak, so that it is painful for him to write.
I have also spoken to the ambassador (Hoby) on the subject of the memoir in Spanish (fn. 3) enclosed herewith, and have handed him a similar document. I requested him to take the matter in hand with the King and the Council on his return, so that the restitution referred to may take place. He has promised to do all in his power, and has held out some hope of success. He said he did not wish that any one but himself should have the suit in hand. I beg you to remind him of the business on his arrival, and do your best also to obtain satisfaction for the merchants without more delay. You need give no sign of interest in the matter to the Council before his return.
I will forbear enlarging further at present, as there are no fresh events here to relate, except that the Diet continues in a satisfactory manner, and that his Majesty by God's grace is free from gout and beginning to feel much stronger.
Augsburg, 11 November, 1550.
Copy. French.
Nov. 9. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 18. Memorandum (fn. 4) of a declaration made to the Bishop of Arras by the former English ambassador and the ambassador newly arrived to reside here in his place, jointly. The same was also previously made by them to the Emperor.
The King, their master, made peace with the French in the course of last summer, as his Majesty was lately informed. It was agreed that Boulogne and the territory of the New Conquest should pass to the French. England retained the territory of the Old Conquest in virtue of the peace, and commissioners were to be deputed by both sides to define the boundaries by common accord.
The French showed a propensity to encroach upon the rights of the English and recently dared to advance arms in hand, to the number of 400 men, two miles into English territory in the direction of Calais. That part of the country was notoriously an English possession from remote times, as ancient testimonies proved. The trenches and other works undertaken there by the English bore out the contention. Messengers were despatched from Calais to the French force to enquire their intentions, and to warn them to withdraw as the English were in no mind to allow the presence of a numerous armed force upon their own territory, no matter whose it might be. The French began by making difficulties about withdrawing, and alleged that they were on French soil, though they had advanced over two miles into the neutral zone between the boundaries on both sides. Interviews between sovereigns had taken place from time to time within the zone, and there the hostages on both sides were also delivered over lately. Eventually' the French withdrew, and the English ambassador in France was doing his best to arrange matters by diplomatic means. The English felt no confidence in the disposition of the French, especially as they took umbrage at certain fortifications erected by the English in the neighbourhood of Ardres. though well within the territory of the Old Conquest. They affirmed with regrettable levity that they would pull them down and build others themselves instead. The ambassadors pointed out how the building of new forts by the French might prejudice the neighbouring territories belonging to his Majesty. The French were unceasingly fanning the troubles in Ireland and sought means to make themselves absolute masters of Scotland, especially since they had secured the person of the young Queen of Scots. Their pretensions and machinations were grievous to the English, who placed little reliance on their conciliatory assurances. His Majesty should seek to oppose the expansion of France, who would become more insolent as she waxed stronger. The King of England, who was recommended as a son to his Majesty by the late King, his father, on his deathbed, and who had up to the present ever considered himself as such and acknowledged corresponding feelings of affection on the part of his Majesty, desired to obtain the advantage of his Majesty's advice on the momentous questions described above, as indeed he desired it in all matters, great or small. He ordered his ambassadors to ask his Majesty to advise him what to do, being determined not to suffer a shameful and insulting aggression. He would resort to extreme measures rather than lose a foot of soil of the ancient patrimony of England. They declared that as the French had invaded territory included in the treaties, his Majesty was bound to declare himself against the French, forbid the attack, provide assistance, and fulfil the conditions set out in the articles of the treaty passed by Ambassador Chapuys in his Majesty's name, and those incorporated in the declaration of Utrecht. The English had decided to send reinforcements to Calais, Guines and other places on this side of the channel, to forestall unexpected attacks and oppose resistance to the French troops if any violence were intended. They requested his Majesty in the name of the said treaties to grant them carts, victuals, arms, ammunition and other necessaries of war which they stood in need of, to enable them to get ready in time and not wait till necessity was upon them. They had received a very good answer from his Majesty, who declared himself ready to observe the treaties, but deferred his ulterior reply until they should detail the nature of their mission, and a report of it should be submitted to him.
The Bishop of Arras replied that his Majesty had ordered him to hear their demands and make a report. He would discuss with them (the ambassadors) the proposals put forth, the more clearly to ascertain their meaning, and so arrive together at a better conclusion; and his intention not being to make them an answer, he would not dwell on the affection of his Majesty for the King, as his Majesty had testified to it often in the past, and had repeated the assurance on the last occasion when they obtained an audience.
The French, according to their account, entered English territory arms in hand; and claimed that the disputed ground belonged to France. The matter could not be solved except by ocular inspection, and without such evidence it was difficult to give advice upon that point. The fact that his Majesty was not informed of the treaty they had recently passed with the French added another difficulty. His Majesty would regret very much to see the English plunged in a fresh war after having had to give up so important a place as Boulogne. The fact that the French added to their possessions did not affect his Majesty, provided he or his friends did not suffer. As to the Queen of Scots' passage to France, the Bishop (of Arras) had always understood that the English had agreed to it, and that she was supposed to sail from England. Here the ambassadors interrupted him brusquely with a denial; adding that if she had set foot in England they would have been mad not to keep her there. The Bishop passed over their interruption as if it were a matter of small importance, and proceeded to say that, as they had heard for themselves, his Majesty was prepared to fulfil punctually all the obligations to which he was bound by the treaties.
His Majesty had not forgotten the tenor of the treaties; and considering that the Frenchmen had only trespassed two miles within their boundaries, committing no other violence, he did not suppose the English would demand from him that he should make the declaration set forth in the memoir, or meet their other demands. They must remember, besides, that the treaties imposed no obligation to provide victuals, carts or the other specified items, except in the case of open war, and in the event of an invasion. His Majesty was aware that no such eventualities had occurred; and he (the Bishop) would ask whether they founded their claims on the letter of the treaties, and invited them to express themselves more circumstantially in every respect, thus assisting him in the making of the report.
The ambassadors confessed openly that they were well aware that the conditions did not warrant their claiming what they had proposed in virtue of the treaties. They would resume their final requests under a few heads, as follows. They wished to appeal to his Majesty on the grounds enumerated above, to give his advice to their King as to what he should do to uphold his honour and his country's, in the event of the French making a second incursion against him. If the French returned to the attack, what would his Majesty do to assist him? Would his Majesty grant them what was necessary to put themselves into a state of defence, not in virtue of the treaties, but out of friendship?
The Bishop promised to make a report, and to ascertain his Majesty's intentions, which he would subsequently declare to them. He observed that it was customary to hand in a written list of the nature of the provisions required, when they were asked for as a matter of courtesy, without reference to the text of the treaties. The custom had always been observed in the past. The list would be consulted on our side, and the decision as to what could conveniently be granted would be influenced by reason and the internal affairs of the country. They admitted that it had always been customary to do so, and offered to give the list to the Queen. It was supposed that in making the proposal they were influenced by the fact that they did not know what the Council wished to ask for.
The treaties, and the articles which might provide a basis for the demands of the English were diligently and searchingly examined. The result went to prove that they could not put forth any pretensions to assistance in virtue of the said treaties; moreover, they themselves acknowledged it, as stated above. It was especially noted that the incursion was not made on territory included in the treaties, that the men-at-arms were not in great numbers, and that the English were not openly at war with France, which was an express condition in the treaties, where it was plainly stated that a declaration of open hostilities should be made by the sovereign requesting assistance.
Besides this, the quarrel referred to territory adjoining the boundary which was still undefined, and it was therefore impossible to determine whether it was of the Old or the New Conquest. The argument might be put forward under reserve, if they discussed the matter further; as according to appearances the origin of the quarrel lay in the building of the new bulwark near Ardres, on ground which the French claimed as belonging to them. With regard to their demands for carts, arms and ammunition, and other necessaries of war, to be taken at their expense out of his Majesty's dominions, it was found that no obligations were foreseen by the treaties, except in the case of an invasion of Ireland, for the English, and of the kingdom of Spain for his Majesty. Where the treaties referred to other countries, we found special schedules of the articles to be provided, drawn up entirely independently of the others. Instead of the agreed assistance to be given if other countries were involved, in the case of an invasion of either country named above, Spain or Ireland, it was settled that each sovereign owed the other such assistance in victuals, ammunition, arms, and other provisions as it should be within his power to provide after his own kingdoms and countries had been suitably provisioned, and always at the expense of the prince who asked for it; the interpretation of this clause being left to the judgment and conscience of the sovereign from whom the assistance was claimed.
With all due reserves, it seemed advisable to give the following answer to the ambassadors, and to keep clear of protracted discussions: that his Majesty would be displeased to see two friendly sovereigns enter into a fresh war, for any cause whatever. He would dissuade the King of England from making war, especially now Boulogne had been given up; but he could not permit that he should be wronged, or that his territory should be unjustly occupied.
His Majesty could give no advice on the particular incident submitted to him, as he had not seen the recent treaty, and had no knowledge as to the boundaries which gave rise to the contention: The safest and best way was, in his Majesty's opinion, to settle the dispute by means of a communication, if such a course were found practicable. If war were to break out, which God forbid, his Majesty would do what the treaties required of him. These general statements did not exclude discussion concerning the reality of the obligation in specified instances, or the extent of it. As to the assistance they asked for in provisions, the English might send their note to the Queen, and it should receive all due consideration, as in friendship bound.
Augsburg, 9 November, 1550.
Nov. 28. Brussels, L.A. 48. Memoir of the Queen Dowager's conference with the English Ambassador.
On the 28th of November the English ambassador came to Binche to complain to her Majesty of a certain order issued by the Privy Council on some alum which English merchants had brought to this country in Dutch bottoms, intending to take it hence to England. This they had not been allowed to do, but were told they must obey the ordinances here in force, offer their alum to her Majesty's commissioners, and, on their refusing it, take the alum wherever they willed. The ambassador said it was a matter of conscience (charge de conscience), for the ordinance was unjust, with more talk of the same sort. Her Majesty maintained the contrary, pointing out that we did not quarrel with English ordinances, and they ought not to quarrel with ours. She had issued such ordinances as the quiet and wellbeing of these countries called for, assisted by the advice of men of prudence and conscience; and if their English ordinances were looked into, plenty of matter contrary to conscience might be discovered in them. The ambassador went on to talk in a loud voice about injury to conscience; but the Queen told him he was not her confessor, and that she, as Regent, and other persons appointed by the Emperor to assist her, could only act according to the ordinances, and she would not do otherwise. The ambassador then departed, making it clear that he intended to send a complaint to the King of England's Council.
French. In Viglius' hand.
Nov. —. Vienna, Imp. Arch. F. 29. Advices sent by Simon Renard.
The people on the coast of Normandy are trying to get certain conditions of the treaty with the English annulled: namely those to the effect that they shall be compelled to pay a deposit for leave to freight vessels and put out to sea. It was intended to check their robberies and depredations.
Within the last two months the ship “Salamander” together with another vessel, well equipped and carrying soldiers on board, set out for Brazil.
They are about to publish here the same orders as your Majesty's in Flanders, that all vessels must be armed. . . .
The form of government for Scotland is being decided upon. I hear that the Scots already find French rule too harsh, and illsuited to their requirements. If the Queen of Scots were still in Scotland they would not let her go so easily again. I forsee that a change is to be expected in that quarter. . . .
Duplicate. Cipher. French.


  • 1. There is a very small hamlet called Les Cappes between Ardres and Marck, which may be the place here referred to.
  • 2. This may be a slip for Iceland.
  • 3. I have failed to find the memoir in Spanish here referred to.
  • 4. Enclosed in the letter of November 11th from the Bishop of Arras to Jehan Scheyfve.