Spain: December 1550

Pages 193-197

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

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December 1550

Dec. 2. Brussels, L.A. 48. Christopher Haller to St. Mauris.
The present bearer, an Englishman, came to me offering his alum for sale, saying he had 125 loads of it, Cartagena alum, in small lumps. I replied that there would be little demand for it, as it was to be feared the alum had been damaged by remaining so long in the vessel; and being in small lumps, I misdoubted the merchants would not want it.
However, I said, if he would bring some of it here from Middelburg, where it now is, I would have it examined and, if it was sound stuff, would take it at 59 sols the load. The bearer refused this offer, and asked me to write to you, informing you of what had happened between us, which I did not like to deny him.
Antwerp, 2 December, 1550.
Signed. French.
Dec. 6. Paris, K. 1489. Simon Renard to the Emperor.
(The King of France is secretly mobilising near the Spanish frontier. The attack will be made by M. d'Albret, and the first attempt will be to seize Fuenterrabia, the key of Spain. The recent news from Germany have incited the King to action. He has secret intelligence with many German towns. The Turk is also favourable to France, and hopes to seize Barbary, Sicily and Naples. In confirmation of this the ambassador gives the news that M. d'Aigremont, French ambassador in Turkey, has passed over to Barbary. The King gave audience to a messenger from Algiers when he entered Blois. The Constable, under pretence of visiting the young princes, has been much closeted with the King. The King has collected a number of galleys under command of the Prior of Capua and other captains at Marseilles.)
The King intends to cross your Majesty's designs by these means, fan revolt, and foster new developments in Germany. He expects assistance from the Switzers to keep up an army wherever he may need one, besides what M. d'Albret may succeed in doing. The Constable has declared that the King will succeed in Germany as he succeeded with the English, affirming that he is too powerful a prince to brook any injustice.
The quarrels between the French and the English over the boundaries between Boulogne and Calais (says the Constable) are being smoothed over. Troops have been withdrawn on both sides. The English will have to keep quiet because your Majesty refused to assist them against France, owing to their heretical practices. . . .
Translation into Spanish.
Dec. 8. Brussels, L.A. 48. The Queen Dowager to Count Van Buren. (fn. 1)
In the course of the last conference held today with the Scottish ambassador on the terms of peace, such difficulties have arisen in connexion with the depredations committed on our subjects and other points, that negotiations have been broken off. We, on our part, are unable to accept such terms, particularly as the Scots show small desire to give our subjects any redress for the heavy damage and tyrannical oppression they have suffered, even when protected by Scottish safe-conducts, as everyone well knows. We certainly have the right on our side. I have informed you of this in order that you may inform the officers of the seaboard towns of Flanders, Holland and Zeeland, and others whose inhabitants sail the sea, that they must be on their guard against attacks from the Scots.
Binche, 8 December, 1550.
Minute. French.
Dec. 11. Brussels, L.A. 48. The Queen Dowager to Count Van Buren.
My last letter was to inform you that negotiations with the Scottish ambassador had been broken off because of the difficulties he raised about redress for depredations and other matters. Since then, however, the ambassador has requested us to confer with him again, so that all hope of peace is not yet lost. Which news, my cousin, I send you in order that you may have them reported in the proper quarters, so that everyone may be on his guard, without offering the Scots any violence.
Binche, 11 December, 1550.
Minute. French.
Middle of Dec. Brussels, E.A. 4051. Petition of Count Van Buren to the Queen Dowager.
M. Van Buren humbly begs your Majesty to consider that the Scots have had their staple for trading, their conservator, and other privileges granted to that nation by your most noble predecessors and confirmed by your Majesty, some forty or fifty years in the town of Veere. This lasted down to the outbreak of the last war with Scotland; and now that peace is being discussed, M. Van Buren has heard that your Majesty intends to remove the Scottish nation from Veere and establish it in some town that is directly subject to his Imperial Majesty, which would prove the total ruin of Veere, and cause peace to be more destructive than war. Since the outbreak of hostilities the town has lost quite one quarter of its former wealth, and were the Scots to be removed it would lose all. At present there are a score or upwards of good merchants, Scots by birth or descent, and now citizens of Veere. These men would be obliged by the removal to follow the Scots and leave their present residence, which would also take away many other citizens and inhabitants who now gain their livelihood in the said merchants' employ, the result of which would be the town's ruin. M. Van Buren implores your Majesty to avoid this ill, and not destroy your vassal's town, which is as much yours as are any of his Imperial Majesty's. May your Majesty also be pleased to consider the fact that M. Van Buren has been informed that the Scots wish to return to Veere, now there is to be peace, and to remain there. As they desire to trade there, may your Majesty be pleased to allow them to keep their staple as they have so long been permitted to do, and not compel them to go elsewhere, which course would, for the above-mentioned reasons, destroy the town.
Copy. French.
Dec. 17. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 18. The Queen Dowager to Jehan Scheyfve.
We are sending you together with the present letter an instruction and several documents (fn. 2) referring to it that will serve for your own enlightenment. The instruction refers to certain representations we wish you to make to the King of England's Council at the earliest opportunity on which you can obtain an audience. Our object is to do away with many undue exactions on exported goods which are being levied at present from our subjects by the King's officers, in defiance of all reason and justice. Before you ask for an audience you will study and examine the contents of the instructions very carefully, and assimilate them. You will also refer back to the account we sent to you some time ago, of what took place here with the English ambassador concerning the same affair. If you find difficulty in understanding any point of the said instruction, you will write to us at once explaining your difficulty in detail, and giving your reasons; in which case we will send you a prompt answer to any objection you may make. You will not bring the matter before the Council until our answer reaches you, as we intend that you shall be thoroughly well informed and resolute when you meet the Council to discuss the matter, so as to be able to meet any objections or doubts they may try to raise, and bring the discussion to the point at once. When you have negotiated the business, you may keep a copy of the writings we are sending you for your own future reference and information, but you will return the present ones, as there are original documents among them referring to the Conference of Bourbourg.
The English ambassador requested us pressingly to permit a certain English merchant to export alum out of the country and take it to England by sea. We are sending you a copy of the urgent application in favour of the merchant, which he presented to us. (fn. 3) We referred the matter to the Council, and their decision is written, as you will find, in the margin of the document. The ambassador protested against it although it was in consonance with published placards and ordinances, and justifiable in reason and equity. He alleged that the English merchant would be too great a loser were he compelled to sell his alum to the clerk of the alums (commis des aluns) at Antwerp for a small sum, at a loss equal to half his outlay and have to repurchase it afterwards and pay dearly for it in order to maintain his credit in England unimpaired. He wished to take the same opportunity for discussing the ordinances, and declared them to be iniquitously unfair to the English if carried out rigorously. He spoke to us on the subject and besought us to take his request into consideration and give orders that the affair of the English merchant should be inquired into afresh and dealt with as reason and conscience should dictate, giving him the benefit of our merciful consideration. We replied that everything that could be consented in favour of the said merchant without open contravention of the said placards and ordinances had been granted, for his sake, already. The placards and ordinances were framed for the public good and had an object in view, namely, to protect our own subjects, and we adhered to the sentence of the Council.
He applied to us a second time on the same business, urging that although the verdict of the said ordinances was contrary to his suit, yet in good conscience he would advance the necessity of demanding that their application should be attenuated, as otherwise the English merchant would be relieved of half the value of his goods, if he sold them to the clerk (at Antwerp). He interspersed his speech with deprecations about being compelled to refer the matter to the Council of England in the event of receiving no satisfaction here. We replied that the Emperor alone could abrogate the law, and our office of Regent compelled us to support the Council in enforcing the laws. We could not cancel the decisions of the Council, who had weighed and considered the case.
The ambassador replied that the matter was one of great importance; he repeated the phrases several times, and always brought forward the plea of conscience. We answered that each one should act according to his conscience, and that he ought to mind his own, and not concern himself with attempts to regulate ours, or dictate what in conscience should or should not be done here. The English could pass any law they pleased in England, and enforce it too, and no offence was committed against the English if his Majesty's ordinances were enforced within his Majesty's dominions. If the merchant wished to appeal to the English Council let him do so by all means, if he pleased. We knew for our part that application had been made over and over again to obtain redress from the English Council on behalf of our subjects who were robbed and plundered, and that no justice could be obtained from them. These were matters of far greater moment than the question of the merchant. We are sending you full information as he was little pleased with the answer he received, though we were fully justified in making it. If the question is discussed with you, you will be able to answer with assurance and inform the Council as to the real issue, namely the observance of the laws, that should not be altered or set aside without great and urgent reasons.
As to your application for an increase of salary, which you sent by your secretary, as the matter is one that would carry consequences where those who might eventually succeed you are concerned, and would bring forth fresh considerations, nothing can be done for the present. I intend to go to Augsburg shortly, and an opportunity will present itself of mentioning the matter to the Emperor and ascertaining his good pleasure. It is his Majesty's custom to grant gifts to his ambassadors after they have served him some time, and therefore I feel confident that if you will do your best to discharge the duties of your office, his Majesty will remember you favourably in course of time.
Binche, 17 December, 1550.
Copy. French.
Dec. 19. Brussels, L.A. 48. The Queen Dowager to the Council of State.
This letter is to inform you that, after holding several conferences with the Scottish ambassador sent towards us to decide the terms of peace, we have finally, with the Emperor's knowledge and by his express command, concluded peace to the common good, repose and tranquillity of our subjects, and those of the kingdom of Scotland. Therefore we command you most urgently to publish the same in accordance with the note we are now sending to you, and to order all men to observe the said peace, refraining from acts of hostility against the Scots, under pain of being punished as breakers of the peace, as a warning to others. And you shall not fail to do this.
Binche, 19 December, 1550.
Minute. French.


  • 1. This personage is usually referred to in documents as M. de Beures.
  • 2. These papers have not been found.
  • 3. The copy has not been found.