Spain: January 1551, 26-31

Pages 203-219

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

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January 1551, 26–31

Jan. 27. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 19. Jehan Scheyfve to the Emperor.
Sire: Since my last conference, the Councillors have sent to me the Bishop of Ely (Thomas Goodrich), accompanied by the Secretary, Dr. Petre, who told me by the Council's orders that a few days ago Ambassador Chamberlain, who resides with the Queen (Dowager of Hungary), had informed the Council of several requests made by him to President St. Mauris and later to the Queen herself, that he might be allowed to practice the religion instituted by recent English laws, as well in obedience to his conscience as out of duty towards his Prince, just as I, over here, professed and observed the religion held by your Majesty. And though this seemed most reasonable in their eyes the Queen was pleased to refuse his request, giving it to be understood that your Majesty had no intention of allowing it in your dominions. I replied, Sire, that I knew nothing about the matter, but that as they told me the ambassador had already spoken to the Queen, I supposed she had furnished him with satisfactory reasons. They said she had given no other reason than that what the ambassador demanded would be in infringement of your Majesty's statutes and placards, and, as the same argument applied in my case here, they begged me to inform your Majesty or the Queen of it, that you might devise some expedient by means of which their ambassador might enjoy the same liberty as myself, as we were both public persons. I told them, Sire, that I felt sure your Majesty would not allow such an innovation, and it was well known that my late predecessor had always heard our service, though the English ambassador in Flanders had not observed the new religion. They replied, smiling, that they hoped I would do my best, and I said that as such was their pleasure, I would inform your Majesty. I suspect, Sire, judging from their looks, that if their ambassador is not allowed to use his religion, they may take some further steps, so I most humbly beg your Majesty to adopt such measures as you may think best and let me know what I am to do if they try to forbid my practice of the old religion.
London, 27 January, 1551.
French. Cipher. Signed.
Jan. 27. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 19. Jehan Scheyfve to the Queen Dowager.
Madam: Since my last letters to your Majesty, of December 16th, the Princess of England (the Lady Mary) has informed me that the Lords of the Council have sent a reply to her answer mentioned in my last letters, and this reply, which is very long, as your Majesty will see from the copy (fn. 1) joined herewith, translated from English into Latin, I consider most strange and rude. I visited the Princess, and found that she wished to write again, so I drew up a missive that seemed to me to fit the case, in the terms your Majesty will see from the copy (fn. 2) enclosed. The Princess took this letter to be pertinent enough, and sent to tell me that she was in the habit of writing roughly to the Council, as the Emperor knew, and she thought that if she now adopted a milder tone, especially on so important a subject as this, they might persuade themselves that they were winning her over, and become still more petulant and audacious.
A few days later the Councillors requested the Princess to make a permutation and exchange, with the King her brother, of certain lands situated in the North (Norfolk). Her reply, Madam, was to say that she had always been ready to serve and please the King, her brother, and on the present occasion would not fail to gratify and oblige him, though she hoped that the King would not seek to diminish her slender substance, which, were it needful, he might nevertheless take and dispose of as if it were his own. It seems, Madam, that the Lords wish to try her in every way, and perhaps intend to play her some ill trick. Without doubt they will do their utmost to make her conform with general usage in the new religion, in order to take away all hope from those who still hold the old faith, and avoid the trouble that might arise (from her steadfastness).
The Princess, Madam, proposed shortly to visit the King her brother, but as it is believed he will remain some time longer at Greenwich, she has deferred her visit until his return.
I am enclosing with this letter a copy, written in cipher from beginning to end, of the Princess' reply to the Council.
London, 27 January, 1551.
Decipherment. French.
Jan. —. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. Varia 5. The Lady Mary to the Council of England.
My Lords: I have received your letters of the 17th of the present month, which are so lengthy and involved that my general health and the attack of catarrh in the head from which I am suffering do not permit me to answer them in detail, sentence by sentence. I will reply nothing but the truth concerning the promise made to the Emperor's Majesty. There were the words contained in letters written as from you all to the late ambassador about last Whitsuntide, by one among you whom I could well name; and moreover, another promise made to his Majesty nearly a year before, in virtue of which I and my household were given entire freedom to have the mass celebrated, and to attend other ceremonies performed in the manner used in my late father's time. (fn. 3) The Earl of Wiltshire, at present Lord Treasurer, and my Lord Paget went to see the ambassador on purpose as messengers from the Council, and requested him to report the matter to me. On that occasion the ambassador refused to admit their verbal promise, saying he could not accept their offer because he well knew the Emperor would not take it in good part, but would think that their words concealed a different intention. You write that you refused letters patent. (fn. 4) True it is that on the first occasion when these were asked for you replied that your promise given by word of mouth should be enough; but, notwithstanding this, his Imperial Majesty repeated his request for letters patent or a formal written undertaking. (fn. 5) His Majesty affirmed that you changed governors and councillors so often, that he feared any fresh change might lead to a re-opening of the question later on. You write that those among you whom I singled out in my letters had no recollection, when I lately visited the King, of any promise being given except the first one referred to above, and you also affirm that at the time I listened to several arguments in support of the ordinances issued by the King's Majesty condemning the use of the mass. God knows the contrary to be the truth; and you in your own consciences (I say those who were then present), know it also. When the King's Majesty declared to me that he had heard a rumour that I habitually heard mass—God knows who was his adviser in this!—I asked the Earl of Wiltshire to approach nearer to us, because I knew him to be well-informed on the matter, and my Lord Paget was absent in France. On hearing my request, the said Earl of Wiltshire desired that certain other Councillors who were present also should approach with him before the King. Their names are as follows:—The Chancellor (Lord Rich), the two Marquises (Dorset and Northampton), my Lord Wentworth, Master Thomas and Master Anthony Wingfield.
I declared openly to the King's Majesty the message I had received from the Council through the Emperor's ambassador; and the Earl of Wiltshire, who knew more about the matter than any other Councillor present, affirmed my statement to be true. But when I perceived how the King, whom I love and honour above all other beings, as by nature and duty bound, had been counselled against me, I could not contain myself and exhibited my interior grief. The King's good nature could not suffer the sight of my tears, and showed the same himself, filling me with sorrow for having caused him to weep; and his Majesty benignly requested me to dry my tears, saying he thought no harm of me. One of the two Marquises then affirmed that enough had been said; and the other declared that the King had no other thought except to inquire, and know all things. This is all that was said between us on the matter of religion; and I believed that thenceforward my poor priests ran no danger in saying the mass within my house. (fn. 6) You accuse me of breaking the laws and disobeying them by keeping to my own religion; but I reply that my faith and my religion are those held by the whole of Christendom, formerly confessed by this kingdom under the late King, my father, until you altered them with your new laws. To the King's Majesty my brother, I wish prosperity and honour such as no king ever enjoyed, and I confess myself to be his humble sister and subject, and he my sovereign lord; but to you, my Lords, I owe nothing beyond amity and goodwill, which you will find in me if I meet with the same in you, according to my powers. I hope God and nature will so work in the King's Majesty when he reaches years of greater understanding, that he will not be wroth against me, who live and am his poor suppliant, consenting to no changes in religion, but desiring that all may be left as the late King his father left it, until his Majesty has reached the age to judge for himself. It seems to me not suitable that he should be robbed of freedom by laws and statutes on spiritual matters passed during his minority. No such thing has ever been seen in any Christian kingdom; and God knows whether his Majesty may not take it amiss in time to come. I do not follow the belief in which I have been nourished all my days for love of his Imperial Majesty; and I confess before you all that were he to persuade me to do otherwise, I would not follow his counsel in this. You have no cause to doubt whether by the advice of any creature I am being persuaded to remain content in my beliefs.
I now request you to take this as my final answer to any letters you might write to me on matters of religion. Were you to know what pain I suffer in bending down my head to write and in considering the answer I have to give you, for love and charity you would not wish to give me occasion to do it. My health is more unstable than that of any creature, and I have all the greater need to rejoice in the testimony of a pure conscience. I commend myself cordially to you all; and I pray and will pray our Maker daily to send you true light and as perfect knowledge of the truth as ever was possessed by any creature.
No place, no date.
French. Contemporary translation from the English original.
Jan. 28. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. Varia 5. Edward VI to the Lady Mary.
Dear and well-beloved Sister: We have seen the letters recently sent to you by our Council, together with your answer thereto, concerning the matter of certain chaplains of your household, who have committed a breach of our laws by singing mass. We have heard their good and suitable admonitions, and your fruitless and wayward misunderstanding of the same. We are moved to write to you these presents, that where the good counsel of our Councillors has failed to persuade, the same advice given by us may haply produce some effect. After giving all due consideration to the matter, it appears to us to stand as follows: that you, our nearest sister, in whom by nature we should place reliance and our highest esteem, wish to break our laws and set them aside deliberately and of your own free will; and moreover sustain and encourage others to commit a like offence.
In truth, though the matter may be stated differently, it can admit of no other interpretation. It appears by your letters that you have persuaded yourself that you may continue in your erring ways in virtue of a promise which you claim to have received, though we truly know that the said promise was not given with the intention you lend to it. My sister, you must learn that your courses were tolerated when our laws were first promulgated, not indeed as a permission to break the same, but so that you might be inclined to obey them, seeing the love and indulgence we displayed towards you. We made a difference between you and our subjects, not that all should follow our ordinances, and you alone disregard them, but in order that you should do out of love for us what the rest do out of duty. The error in which you persist is twofold, and each part of it so great that for the love we bear to God we cannot suffer it, but must strive to remedy it; nor can we do otherwise than desire you to amend your ways, for the affection we bear you. In the first place, you are using and perpetuating the use of a form of worship to the honour of God, which in truth is more like dishonour; and you err in this by (blank) and inclination, through lack of knowledge. Knowledge was offered to you, and you refused it; not as such, we hope, for then we should indeed despair of you, but because you did not hold it to be true knowledge. We might ourselves chide you for this; for we acquire knowledge daily in our schooling, and we learn those things we have no knowledge of, nor are we permitted to say, having no knowledge of certain things, that we will not learn them because we do not believe them to be good. My sister, you must reflect that nothing you could do would so well commend you to us and tend to maintain you in the condition you have enjoyed up to the present time. We now offer to hear all you have to say, you and your partisans, if you are conscienciously opposed to our laws. You shall be permitted to speak frankly, and what you or they have to say shall be listened to, provided you undertake to listen to the answers and debates that shall ensue. You perceive that I lay aside my estate of sovereign king and lord, and commune with you rather as your brother; and by these means you will know what our intentions towards you may be, and why; and you should follow the words of St. Peter, saying: Sitis autem parati semper ad respondendum cuilibet petenti ut loquamini de ea, quae in vobis est, spe et fide cum mansuetudine et reverentia. (fn. 7) If your faith had no words, it would be a faith without substance, as the prophet Isaiah said: Ecce confidis super baculum arundineum. (fn. 8) If so much love and so much reason cannot move you, then must we consider the other part of your offence, which is the transgression of our laws. We have suffered it until now, with the hope that some improvement might be forthcoming, but if none has been shown, how can we suffer it longer to continue? It is our duty to watch over the welfare of each one of our subjects as each ought to watch over himself. You would be angry to see one of the servants of your household, of those nearest to you, openly disregarding your orders; and so it is with us, and you must reflect that in our estate it is most grievous to suffer that so high a subject should disregard our laws. Your near relationship to us, your exalted rank, the conditions of the times, all magnify your offence. It is a scandalous thing that so high a personage should deny our sovereignty; that our sister should be less to us than any of our other subjects is an unnatural example; and finally, in a troubled republic, it lends colour to faction among the people. You think we are too young in years to weigh the arguments set forth. In truth, sister, we think our youth is an advantage, for perhaps the evil has endured in you so long that it is more strongly rooted than we suppose, and this but troubles us the more, fearing that our youth may not permit us to gauge the extent of the evil, if we are to judge by what we perceive at present. Truly we do not wish to presume beyond what our age concedes; that is to say, in matters yet doubtful we place no reliance in our own wisdom; but in those things which are plain we believe there is no difference (between us and older men). If you did not do as the others are ordered, would it not be evident that you were no good subject? Would it not be made notorious to all that you would not be acknowledging us as your sovereign lord? And if we were to grant you license to break our laws and set them aside, would it not be an encouragement to others to do likewise? These things are so evident that we would have been able to judge them six years ago. We are greatly grieved that you should give us cause to sorrow, who should be our greatest comfort in our tender years. Do you not understand that of necessity this must trouble us? And if you think it is so, sister, then you should correct it. Our natural love for you is great without doubt; therefore do not seek to diminish it. If you desire our love, show us a semblance of love in return, so that we may not exclaim with the psalmist: Mala pro bonis mihi reddiderunt. If you wish us to believe you when you confess us in your letters to be your sovereign lord, listen to the words that are often said with another application: Ostende mihi fidem ex factis tuis.
In your reply to our Councillors you propound an argument in your support, we remember, divided into two parts; first, that in matters of religion your faith is the faith confessed by the whole of Christendom; second, that you will not assent to any alteration, but desire that matters should remain as they were at the death of our late father. If you intend to govern your faith according to the practices of what you refer to as Christendom, and not according to the Anglican Church, of which you are a member, you err on several heads, such as our father and yours would not have permitted to pass. An obvious inference might fairly be drawn from your remark concerning the state of religious affairs being left as they were in his time; too dangerous, to be gathered against you. For the rest, you would offend us too much by objecting to the use of our authority for altering matters not changed by our father. We hold ourselves to possess the same authority our father had for the administration of the republic, without diminution of any sort, either culled from the Scriptures or drawn from universal laws. The Scriptures abound in instances to prove that the best ordered church of the people of Israel was instituted and upheld by kings younger in years than we; and we do not desire to interpret the Scriptures afresh to our detriment. Love and charity will expound them (better). You must forbear being so bold as to offend again in this matter where, as you now see, your own writing might bear witness against you. We commend you to God's keeping, and wish you health as His gift. Written under our seal from our house at Greenwich, the 28th day of January, in the fifth of our reign.
(That which follows was written by the King's own hand:)
Sister, consider that an exception has been made in your favour this long time past, to incline you to obey, and not to harden you in your resistance, whereas the example of our loyal subjects who hold their souls as dear as you hold yours, might have sufficed to move you. The holiness of the things ordained, being in conformity with the word of God and the sanction of our learned bishops, who believe our ordinances and laws contained in the public book to be most excellent, should have weighed with you, and inclined you to quiet and gentle conformity. These reasons are in themselves sufficient to persuade any reasonable person and loyal subject to follow with due obedience the rules laid down by those superior in authority and set aside those opinions that are contrary to divine law. May they work in you to some good effect, as I still hope they will, notwithstanding what has gone by. I think of doing what is meet in the matter, and in accordance with the will of God, as my duty binds me to do, and see to it that my laws be loyally carried out and observed. I could not suffer it to be otherwise as a true minister of God; without exception of persons I could not tolerate practices that have been condemned as bad; see good statutes broken with impunity, nor connive at such deeds as if the laws were to be taken lightly, nor support some with favour whilst others are justly punished. Truly, sister, I will not say more and worse things, because my duty would compel me to use harsher and angrier words. But this I will say with certain intention, that I will see my laws strictly obeyed, and those who break them shall be watched and denounced, even as some are ready to trouble my subjects by their obstinate resistance, and by disturbing the provisions made in my ordinances and statutes by their disobedience.
Greenwich, 28 January, 1551.
Contemporary copy of a translation into French.
End of Jan. or early Feb. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. Varia 5. The Lady Mary to Edward VI.
My duty, in the humblest manner possible, to your Majesty, and may it please you to know that I have received through Master Throgmorton, bearer of these, the letters which it pleased your Majesty to write to me. Their contents have caused me more suffering than any illness even unto death, because your Majesty accuses me therein of being a breaker of your laws, and moreover of inciting others to do likewise. I beseech your Majesty most humbly to believe that I have never had any other intentions or desire towards you than to wish that all prosperity and honour may fall upon your Highness, as in duty bound; and I pray now and shall pray all my life for you. It pleases your Majesty to tell me in your letters that my behaviour is in accordance with a promise which was never given; but the truth is that no one present could deny the promise before your Majesty when I paid my duty to you on my last visit. Although I confess that my conscience and the essence of my faith (of which I am in worldly respects but a humble servant) are in agreement with the terms of the said promise, yet if it now pleases your Majesty, God knows after what persuasion, to declare that those who made the promise did so with a different intention from what I wrote, I will most humbly implore your Majesty to examine the evidence concerning the said promise impartially, and command your ambassador resident at the Emperor's Court to ask his Majesty what the truth concerning the said promise may be; or otherwise to cause the Emperor's ambassador here resident to be questioned, although he was not in the kingdom when the promise was made. Your Majesty will perceive clearly that I have been guilty of no offence against you, and may it please your Majesty to accept the truth. Your Majesty, praise the Lord, is indeed gifted with understanding far beyond that possessed by others at your age. But consider that both sides of the question are not brought before you; and therefore I beseech your Majesty to suspend your judgment on spiritual matters until you reach riper and fuller years, and then with better knowledge and understanding your Majesty will exercise your freedom to decide according to your pleasure. Concerning the opinion your Majesty has formed of me, from my letters to your Majesty's Council, or from reports made by them, I hope I may in the end prove myself to be as truly loyal to your Majesty as any other subject, no matter who he may be. I will nowise enter into any disputation with your Majesty; but in the humblest manner possible beseech you for the love of God to suffer me to live as in the past. God be my witness that I do not ask this for any mundane consideration whatever, but because rather than offend Him and my conscience, I would lose all I have left in the world, and my life too. Yet I affirm that I will live and die your most humble sister and loyal subject. I ask your Majesty's forgiveness for my rude and bold letters, and I will pray our Maker to keep you long in honour and health and give you as long a life as ever noble king enjoyed.
No date, no place.
French. Contemporary copy of a translation from the English original.
Jan. (?). Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 19. Advices from Jehan Scheyfve.
The Bishop of Winchester's case is being tried in public before certain judges or commissioners, who are four bishops, with him of Canterbury at their head, together with three doctors-in-law and the secretary, Dr. Petre, as assistants. The Bishop is charged with having broken the King's and Council's commands, for he had been ordered not to touch upon the mass or the holy sacrament in his sermons, but only to speak his opinion touching purgatory, images, prayers to the Saints and several other articles and ceremonies of our Holy Mother Church. In order that he might not pretend ignorance of the said prohibition, the Councillors had sent him written instructions; but he did exactly the opposite, preaching particularly about the sacrament and the mass, and referring in such manner to the other articles that no one could make out what opinion he held concerning them; for which reason he has been found disobedient towards the King and Council. He replied that the Council had permitted him to preach his opinion freely in general terms, which he had done according to his faith and conscience, and only as expressing his own belief, wherein he did not think to have done wrong, though had he done otherwise he would have considered himself to have fallen into disobedience towards his God and his Prince. He added that, when he preached on the sacrament or the mass, there was no law or ordinance against it, and therefore he ought not to be considered to have disobeyed or transgressed the ordinances come into force since then. It might well be that certain members of the Council had spoken to him about adopting the above-mentioned course; but he was under no obligation to obey or pay any attention. While he was enlarging on this point, the Archbishop of Canterbury interrupted him several times and said, smiling and still calling him “my Lord,” that he was not answering to the point, and that he absolutely must confess or deny whether the aforesaid command had been given him or not, and whether he had preached accordingly. Finally, he was ordered to reply pertinently to the charges made against him, which, indeed, he denied, and that is the present state of his case. Although all this pretence is being kept up, it is only to satisfy the people, for they say that his sentence has long been decided upon and ready, which makes one fear that the Bishop will hardly be able to extricate himself. Nevertheless, the commissioners are proceeding under the cloak of duty, and are endeavouring to induce the Bishop to own to his offence and beg the King's pardon, though they know he will not do it.
It is taken for certain that he has been deprived of his bishopric, which brings in yearly, in lands and manors, two thousand pounds sterling. Several persons appear to be watching for the prey, and the Lady Elizabeth, the King's sister, is in love with a certain manor, which she is said to be sure of acquiring. As for the Bishop's person, different tales are told. Some say that he will be condemned to perpetual prison, others that he will be confined subject to the King's pleasure; but all agree that he will not be let out, because he is considered to be one of the wisest and most experienced men in the kingdom, and certain great lords and others build upon him. As the Government would like to rob these of all hope, some think they will yet find means of ridding themselves of the Bishop as head and chief of all who might resist, and that then they will deal more lightly with the other bishops belonging to the old religion, who are also prisoners, among whom is the Bishop of Durham, Tunstall, who has already declared that they need use no form of trial with him, for he is ready to renounce his see, and submit to the good pleasure of King and Council. It is believed that all the Catholic bishops will be stripped and deprived of their sees and dignities and, if they persist in the old religion, condemned to perpetual imprisonment; and that, in any case, the temporalities will be applied to the Crown and King's domain. It seems that hereafter the Government will treat all bishops alike, and assign them pensions of one or two hundred pounds sterling for their maintainance.
Parliament is put off again until the month of March or April, and they may perhaps delay it still longer in order to see how things work out in Germany, and what they call the progress of the House of Austria and Burgundy. Nevertheless they have set about a general reformation and union, to impose one form of religion in all England and cause it strictly to be observed, especially in the case of laymen who may seek any other practices, for they fear that variety of sects and religious observances, together with the dissatisfaction prevalent amongst the peasants, may easily cause trouble and disturbances. This will also provide a weapon to be used against certain great lords who still hold the old religion, like my Lords Derby and Shrewsbury, some in Cumberland and the North Country, and several others whom they are now unable to master. Thus, little by little, will they move towards the Lady Mary, Princess of England, to force her into conformity with the rest, which is the principal aim and object they all have in their minds, for they fear that from her direction they may hereafter have to suffer some check.
A few days ago the Lady Elizabeth, sister of the King, came to London with a great suite of gentlemen and ladies, escorted by one hundred of the King's horse. She was most honourably received by the Council, who acted thus in order to show the people how much glory belongs to her who has embraced the new religion and is become a very great lady.
People are talking a great deal here about a certain league between the Kings of Denmark, Sweden and Poland, the Grand Master of Prussia, the Duke of Lüneburg and other lords and rebellious cities, which they have christened the holy league against the Interim; and they say that the King of France is taking an active share in it. They make sure that this league will have great results, increasing day by day, and that the Emperor will be unable to crush or avoid it, about which the English appear greatly to rejoice, supposing that by these means his Imperial Majesty's designs and the General Council will be hindered and delayed. Though they pretend to pay no attention to the Council (of Trent), saying that they paid off the Pope long ago and denied his power, the truth is that they are greatly concerned about it, and would be still more so were it not for the league.
As far as may be ascertained, the leaguers have not sent over here yet, but one may suspect that if any secret intelligence exists, it is carried on through France or by means of Courtpennick, who is believed to be one of the most influential members. It is true that, a few days ago, two or three companions arrived here, coming by sea from Hamburg, and from the army that was near Bremen. They came with letters to the Council, and one of them is Wallerthum's (fn. 9) man, who was Courtpennick's lieutenant in Scotland, and the two others are the men of certain captains in the same army, all pensioners of the King of England. People say that they have come here to receive their masters' pensions, with something in advance, which they hope to obtain, and it is believed that they will return by way of Flanders. It is true that the Councillors receive daily letters from the said army, and know all that happens there.
The Councillors sent, ten or twelve days ago, the Scotsman Borthwick, (fn. 10) of whom they made use in the recent wars, by way of Flanders to Denmark.
The French ambassador is very often, nay nearly every day, at Court, and the Councillors caress him more and more. Though he often negotiates with my Lords, as a rule they meet secretly with Lord Warwick, who keeps his room with the pretext of an illness that has been going on for the last two months. The Italian Antonio Guidotti, who arranged the last peace with France, is also often there. On the day of the Epiphany the said ambassador was summoned to Court and dined with the King and the Lady Elizabeth, and after dinner the King and the Lady Elizabeth were taken to see some bear-baiting and other sports, while the ambassador went to see Lord Warwick, and they too saw the bear-baiting and talked unceasingly all the time. This Warwick is now the man who governs absolutely, together with the Marquis of Northampton and the Master of the Horse, Herbert, in such sort that no one in the Council dares to oppose him; even my Lord of Somerset bows his head and endures until a better time. Warwick is hated by the Commons, and more feared than loved (by the rest).
These extraordinary and frequent communications are very suspicious, and it looks as if both sides were seeking to contract a closer alliance. It is being said that the Emperor is trying to devise means of getting Calais, Guines and all the Older Conquest into his hands, leaving no stone unturned that might assist him. Some say that the King of France would yield up Scotland to the English, and manage to marry the King of England to the young Queen of Scots, in exchange for which the English would abandon all claim to Calais and the Older Conquest. Others speak of Ireland; but it is hardly to be believed that the English will agree to these bargains, considering the importance of the places in question, and that the King, when he comes of age, might resent it. Moreover, it may be suspected that the French, once secure in possession, would turn about and again endeavour to win back Scotland, in which case the English would find themselves empty-handed, and in trouble with Scotland. Yet others say that they are arranging a marriage between the King of England and the daughter of France, and many surmise that something is going on, for the English are afraid of having to fight either the Emperor or the King of France, who gave them a good fright recently, as well in Scotland as across the sea. They do not feel at all sure of the Emperor, fearing his greatness and knowing that they are not in favour with him because of religion; and they appear to be disposed to let matters go still further in that respect, which may well mislead and blind them.
Rumour here says that the King of France has seven or eight well-fitted warships at sea, and the French are saying that they are intended to cleanse the seas of pirates, adding that the King has, at the Havre and other places, a great number of ships and galleys, of which some are ready to put out; but it is unknown for what purpose he wishes to use them. On the other hand, the English sent three or four war-ships to sea the other day, and are having it repeated that their purpose is to attack the sea-rovers. It seems that they also intend to fit out more, up to the number of 20 or 30, and to keep them off the English coast. They say that the motive is their fear of the French, but others presume that something quite different might really happen, and that French and English might fall together on Holland, Zeeland and Flanders, and there wait for help from North Germany, while troops would also be sent by land, acting in conjunction with the forces of the league; though this hardly seems probable. The King of England's four ships mentioned above have brought some Scots pirates with their prey into London, but most of them are really Englishmen. They have been imprisoned, but it is believed that they will get off lightly, and may possibly be employed on the English ships.
The Council are having a marine chart drawn by a certain Jehan Ribault, a Frenchman, who has been for some time confined in the Tower; and with him works the pilot Cabot. It is said that they are to have a commission—or at least Ribault, accompanied by certain Englishmen experienced in navigation, who have been with Cabot, is to go to discover some islands or seek a road to the Indies, taking the way of the Arctic Pole. For this purpose five or six ships are being fitted out; and two of them are nearly ready.
My Lord the Vidame a few days ago obtained leave to take away the King of England's painter to execute portraits of the King of France and other great personages, which causes some people to suppose that he will be required to paint the daughter of France or the Queen of Scots at the same time. The Vidame is about to depart, and will be accompanied by a gentleman of the Kings Chamber called Dudley, a cousin of my Lord of Warwick. Some say that the King of France will draw profit from the Vidame and those he has about him.
The Council are sending to France a certain painting, a portrait (fn. 11) of the King of England, which the Vidame requested to be allowed to present to the King, his master; but the Council were unwilling to permit this, and gave my Lord Cobham charge of it, though it is not yet known whether he will go.
The commissioners sent to confer about the frontiers have returned. They say that their meeting has been fruitless, and that now the King of France lays claim to Guines, which is considered strange and suspicious.
As far as one can ascertain, the English are not keeping the best of guard over there (in the English possessions round Calais), providing neither sufficient victuals nor anything else. They say, however, that troops are going to be raised to the number of 500 or 1,000 horse, which are to be ready by April, until when they are to draw no pay.
The Council are collecting money on all sides as covertly as they can. The master of the Irish mint (sic), called Mr. York, (fn. 12) is so busily striking money that expenses amount to 600 crowns a day, and the King makes 200 pounds sterling every month. The master is obliged by the terms of the contract not to use coin or scraps of metal coming from England, so he is obliged to get his material elsewhere; it seems from Flanders, where this Mr. York is soon going. Mr. York is looked upon as a mere instrument of my Lord of Warwick.
The Council are buying all the arms and ammunition they can find. Certain captains have said to certain armourers that, if they knew what they (the captains) knew, they would immediately lay in as great a store of arms and the like as possible, for it might fall out that in two months' time there would be a dearth.
Prothonotary de Bredain has shown himself recently at Court, and is trying to obtain a pension from the King, in which it is believed he will succeed, as he is a man of family and of their (the Englishmen's) religion; for they consider he may be useful later.
It is said here that Mr. Mason, (fn. 13) the King of England's ambassador in France, will shortly be recalled, and that a certain gentleman of the King's Chamber called Pickering, (fn. 14) a creature of my Lord of Warwick and about thirty years of age, is to replace him; for though he is not lettered, his zeal for the new religion is great.
On the 18th of January, some 400 Germans arrived in London, who are to work in the Irish mines. Some say the mines will pay, others have a poor opinion of them.
Every day the number of sectarians who seek refuge here increases, most of them being small fry and artisans. It is said that at present there are, in London and its surroundings, upwards of 10,000 of them, about which the English are beginning to complain, saying that they bring about the high prices of edibles and lodgings, so that it is feared some trouble may be the result.
On the 11th of January, the Venetian ambassador was summoned by the Council to Court, and as this ambassador very seldom treats of public affairs, some folk do not know what to think, or why he was called so pressingly, especially as he had already been sent for a few days earlier. They say here that the Venetians are making great preparations for war, and this may explain why the ambassador was summoned.
A rumour runs here that the Scots have arrested some English ships in Scotland, which seems to be a revenge for those that were arrested here in England because they had no safe-conducts. Though some say that the Scots will start the war afresh, several of the said Scottish ships that were arrested here were recently set free on the French ambassador's demand.
French. Cipher.


  • 1. No trace of this document is now to be found.
  • 2. This document exists in Vienna. See the next letter.
  • 3. See Spanish Calendar, vol. ix.
  • 4. The expression used is les dernières paten (sic).
  • 5. Lettres patentes et testimonialles.
  • 6.
  • 7. I. Peter, iii., verse 15; a paraphrase of the Vulgate text.
  • 8. Isaiah, xxxvi., verse 6.
  • 9. Colonel William Wallerthum (Walderdom, Wallerdom) was a pensioner of England. See Calendar, Foreign, I., 164, 211.
  • 10. Sir John Borthwick's mission to Denmark is the subject of an entry in Edwards Journal, 19th December, 1550.
  • 11. Possibly the portrait of Edward VI, ascribed to Sir Antony Mor, and now in the Louvre.
  • 12. Sir John York had been made assay-master in 1544, master of the mint at Southwark in 1547, Sheriff of London in 1549. Warwick stayed at his house in Walbrook when engineering his first blow at Somerset, and York was knighted for his pains. He was a man of great wealth, acted for the King in dealings with the Fuggers, and was one of the founders of the Company of Merchant Adventurers to Muscovy in 1553. The note on him in Literary Remains of Edward VI makes no mention of any connection of his with the Irish mint; nor have I been able to discover elsewhere that any existed.
  • 13. Sir John Mason.
  • 14. Sir William Pickering.