Spain: February 1551

Pages 219-225

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

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February 1551

Feb. 3. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. Varia 5. The Lady Mary to Francisco Moronelles. (fn. 1)
Francisco: You must make great haste concerning the message, for since your departure I have received worse and more dangerous letters than ever before from the King himself.—Written in haste, the third of February.
Francisco: I request you and command you to burn this note directly after you have read it. (fn. 2)
3 February, 1551.
Feb. 4. Vienna, Imp. Arch. F. 30. Simon Renard to the Emperor.
Sire: When the King of France heard that the rebels' troops massed near Bremen had been scattered and crushed, he sent off M. de Lansac to England in great haste, with a voluminous packet of letters to the King of England. I have been told that his object is to pursue the negotiations of which I have often written to your Majesty, concerning a marriage and alliance; and to take the same opportunity to impress upon the Council of England and the Governor (sic) of the kingdom that they ought to beware if your Majesty were to succeed in all your enterprises and designs, so that in the event of a war between your Majesty and France, the English might if possible be induced to make no hostile move, and not succour your Majesty's territories which they are now, by the treaty of peace signed by the late King Henry, for the protection of his own possessions, bound to assist. The King of France sent special instructions to his ambassador ordinary in England, M. de Pot, to do his best to stir up the King of England against your Majesty, by dwelling on the questions affected by the Council (of Trent), the cession of the Imperial Crown, the punishment meted out to the rebels in Germany, and the umbrage that England might reasonably take at the execution of these plans. However, I must add that he who gave me the above information may have embroidered upon what he really heard; but I thought it best to write to your Majesty, as the said de Lansac has certainly gone, and the King has also certainly written the long letters mentioned above, which were seen lying on Secretary l'Aubespine's table.
The King has despatched at the same time a certain d'Ardot to Germany, with the mission to inquire and ascertain from the princes and towns with whom he has an understanding, whether they are prepared to stand firmly on his side and to carry out their promises to the full. He is to begin with Strassburg, and, as I have been told, go on to the Duke of Württemberg. He sent a gentleman to Spain as well, but I have not been able to find out why, or to whom. . . .The English have seized three vessels from Scottish pirates, and found Englishmen, Flemings and Frenchmen on board.
The English Council are about to establish a constabulary force in England on the model of the French gendarmerie.
A certain preacher (fn. 3) was imprisoned in London for having spoken against the Government, and denounced the tyrannous behaviour and the malversations practised by some of the Council. . . .
(Intrigues at the French Court; a proposal is on foot to establish a bank in Paris and oust the Italians; proposals for the repression of ecclesiastical abuses, etc.)
Blois, 4 February, 1551.
Signed. Cipher.
Feb. 13. Vienna, Imp. Arch. B. 19. Jehan Duboys to the Queen Dowager.
Madam: With the enclosed note Francesco Moronelli, the same man who carried your Majesty's letter written at Binche to the Princess of England, came hither in haste. He has been seven or eight weeks in England to put in order the affairs of M. François Van der Delft's widow, which had been left unsettled, and he says that when he had been a few days in London, the Princess, hearing he was in those parts, sent to tell him by one of her servants that she would like to speak with him. So he went to her at New Hall, without the ambassador or anyone else knowing of it; and when she heard that he had no mission from your Majesties, she asked him what he had come to do. He replied that the said widow, his mistress, still had some debtors there, from whom she was unable to obtain payment, and that he had accepted the errand all the more willingly because it would take him to England, and he thought the ambassador might take him into his household as he had appeared to be willing to do when he was there before, at the time when the late Van der Delft was leaving. At that moment he had been loth to change his old master for a new one, though now that he had lost his former employer and lacked a post he must needs look out for something. The Princess said that, had the times been different, her house would have been open to him, but as that was impossible, he had better try to get a place with the ambassador, where not only would he serve his master, but she would be glad to have such a messenger. After much speech, she told him that, if he could not get himself accepted by the ambassador, who had displayed some coldness, he was not to fail to come back to her before leaving England. Sometime afterwards the said Francesco, having nearly ended his business, went to the ambassador and told him that he could no longer remain, spending his mistress' money with no profit, unless the ambassador was pleased to accept such small service as he might render. Also, he had brought a letter, as the ambassador knew, from his mistress to a lady in London, to speak to Mrs. Clarentius, chief lady in the Princess' household, about the payment of two headings of expenses and other moneys spent by the said widow for a girl who was at school at Bruges. This lady of London was for the time being at New Hall, so if the ambassador pleased he (Francesco) would go thither and execute any orders that might be entrusted to him. The ambassador replied that he had heard the lady was to return within two or three days, so it would be better to wait that short time rather than undertake the journey. He therefore waited, but as the lady did not come he asked again to go, and the ambassador then consented, asking him if he would also speak with my Lady (Mary). “It might be,” he replied, “that if she knew I was in her house she would wish to ask me news of my mistress and her godson.” (fn. 4) “Very well,” said he, “if you speak with her, make my most humble recommendations to her Grace.”
When the said Francesco arrived, the Princess asked him how he stood with the ambassador about staying in England. He said he had some hope of it, though before leaving he would get his friends to speak again to the ambassador. She also asked him if, in case he stayed, he could find means to send me (i.e. Duboys) a letter, and if he knew where to find me over here if he were to return. To this he replied “Yes,” but said he did not know whether I might not have followed your Majesty to Germany. “Very well,” said she, “if he were not there, could you not obtain access to M. de Praet and tell him what I shall declare to you?” He replied that he would execute any commands she might be pleased to give him, even if they caused him to go as far as the Emperor's Court. Then she informed him she had received letters calling her to Court, and stating, moreover, that the mass she had celebrated so publicly in her house was contrary to the King's commands, who had only authorised her to have it said in her private chamber. She replied that she had not behaved otherwise than was granted and promised, on behalf of the King and Council, by my Lords St. John and Paget to the Emperor's late ambassador, Francis Van der Delft, for she had then been assured that she might live with her household and family in the practice of the old religion. As for going to Court, she would not fail to visit the King, her lord and brother, when next she should go to London, which she intended to do early in Lent. The Princess said she wished this to be made known to the ambassador also; but nevertheless she wished the said Francesco to accept a mission to declare it by word of mouth to M. de Praet or to me, so that your Majesties might the sooner be informed, begging you most humbly to forgive all her importunities, to which she was forced, as she had no other refuge nor help after God. She begged that the Emperor might be pleased to write a letter, so that what was promised by my Lords St. John and Paget might be kept, and that the letter might arrive by the opening of Parliament, which was to take place early in Lent; for otherwise she feared the same Parliament might be made to deprive her altogether of the mass. She feels sure enough that, when she goes to Court, they will have carefully instructed the King what lesson he is to read to her, and they are capable of doing anything that comes into their heads, not without great danger to her person. So she has no comfort in this life but your Majesties' favour, to whose good grace she recommends herself most humbly in this her extreme necessity.
The Princess told Francesco to remember not to let the ambassador perceive that she had entrusted him with this mission, and said she felt confident that they would have the same care over here; for what she had done was not out of diffidence, but only to anticipate the ambassador's letters, which are subject to delay as they are written in cipher, and can never tell as full a tale as the spoken word. She held some further discourse with Francesco, which he might report to the ambassador, and sent him away with her salutations to the same, and a message to the effect that she would like to speak with his secretary. She also desired Francesco to write to her from London how the ambassador had taken their conversation, and, above all, his decision whether or no to retain Francesco in his service; and this he did after the ambassador had finally declined to accept him. While Francesco was still in London to finish his business, the Princess sent him the aforesaid note; (fn. 5) when he had received which, Francesco managed to depart on the following day, leaving the ambassador and all the rest satisfied and with no sort of suspicion of him. So, Madam, it seems best to send the said note to you as it is, because I know it to be in the Princess's own hand, and its contents will be of greater credence, though I believe Francesco to be trustworthy and safe enough.
Francesco reports that, shortly before his departure, he saw several peasants brought into Court at Greenwich before two or three of the bishops that ordinarily preach in London. Some of the peasants were accused of having disobeyed the King's ordinances on religion, whilst the others were their accusers. One after the other, they were all examined by the Council, and the accused were roughly handled and had such loud and violent words addressed to them as to be heard by all those who were near the chamber. Afterwards they were conducted to prison by the King's guard, and the accusers were heartily received and given drink from the King's cellar before everybody. And among the Councillors who shouted loudest, the voices of my Lord of Warwick and the two marquises (Dorset and Northampton) were recognised.
It is said for a fact that they are trying to raise 4,000 horse in England at an expense of only 10,000 pounds sterling a year, in this manner: every gentleman with an income of 50 to 60 pounds is to be ordered to keep up two horses, everyone with 60 to 100 three horses, and so forth according to their wealth; and the 10,000 pounds will be distributed among them, being all the expense that will fall to the King.
Moreover, 500 foreign troops are to be appointed for the King's guard, and will be kept at Court by relays consisting, each one, of a quarter of the total number, each relay serving for one term a year. Their pay is to be four pounds a month for two horses, and while they are at Court they will be fed at the King's expense.
Francesco also says that about 400 men from these parts, all dressed in the same livery, have passed through London; and it was said that they were to go to Ireland to mine the gold and silver which has recently been discovered there. However, many people say that they are really meant to hold the country in subjection. I doubt not that the ambassador will have sent full information on this matter.
Madam, as soon as I heard all the above from the said Francesco, I gave a full account of it to M. de Praet, who was of opinion that I ought to set all the narrative forth at length in my letters to you. Therefore may it please your Majesty to pardon my audacity and the length of this despatch.
Brussels, 13 February, 1551.
Holograph. French.
Feb. 22. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 1. The Lady Mary to the Emperor. (fn. 6)
My duty first paid in all humility to your Majesty, may it please you to know that, besides other letters from the King my brother's Council, I have lately received some from the said King himself, dated January 28th, by which he and his Council definitely deny having given any promise to your Majesty to allow me to live in the practice of the old religion, as your Majesty's ambassador here resident will inform your Majesty more fully. He has proved himself to be my devoted friend in this matter, as far as it lay in his power to do anything. It has pleased your Majesty in the past to help me in all my adversities, wherefore I hold myself eternally obliged to your Majesty; and so I have been so bold as to trouble you once more with my rude letters, and beseech you most humbly, presenting my most obedient duty to you, to receive and consider my present supplication more than any other made by me to your Majesty, in this my latest and most dire extremity. I beseech your Majesty that it may be your good pleasure not to forsake me in my great necessity, but to succour me in the manner that shall seem best and most suitable to you: for after God I place all my trust and confidence in you, and with God's help I will die rather than renounce or change the ancient faith. I pray our Maker to preserve your Majesty in all honour and prosperity, with good health and long life.—Written from my poor house of Beaulieu, all too rudely, for which I crave pardon.
Beaulieu (i.e. New Hall), 22 February, 1551.
Holograph. French.
Feb. 22. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 1. The Lady Mary to the Queen Dowager.
Madam: After my most humble recommendations to your Majesty, may it please you to know that, trusting in his Majesty the Emperor's accustomed benignity, I have been so bold as to write to him in my rude letters concerning my long-proffered prayer about (the practice of) the old religion, which the Emperor has always heard from me as my own father, spiritual and temporal. I beg your Majesty to excuse my boldness and simplicity to his Majesty; for I should not have dared so much, had I not been compelled by receiving from the King my brother and from his Council letters of such a nature, that the ambassador here resident will best be able to explain. He has taken great trouble in this business as far as lay in his power. Your Highness has always shown affection to me, as if you were my own mother, and so I will beg you now to take these rude and ill-written letters in good part, and continue your goodness towards me; for after the Emperor, I hold you for one of my chief comforts in this world. I pray God to reward your Highness for your kindness exhibited to me, and grant you a long and happy life. From my poor house of Beaulieu.
Beaulieu, 22 February, 1551.
Holograph. French.
Feb. 24. Vienna, Imp. Arch. F. 30. Simon Renard to the Emperor.
M. de Lansac has returned from England. Two days after his departure the Council of England despatched a gentleman by the name of Pickering, who has not yet arrived here. He is supposed to bring their answer to the proposals made by the said Lansac, concerning which I have not been able to obtain any detailed information except what I wrote recently to your Majesty, which, however, I am not too sure about, especially as I have (since) heard that M. de Lansac put forward the trouble which the English are having in Scotland and the taking of the three vessels declared before. (fn. 7) If that difficulty is not patched up, trouble may ensue. Nevertheless, the informant who gave me the first account insists upon it that everything will be done to ensure support from the side of England, and has repeated it to me again.
The Queen of Scotland is reported to be returning to Scotland after Easter. . . .
Blois, 24 February, 1551.
Signed, Cipher. French.


  • 1. Francisco Moronelles is doubtless a Hispano-Gallicised form of Francesco Moronelli; the person in question must have been an Italian. More information regarding him will be found in Jehan Duboys' letter to the Queen Dowager, of February 13th, 1551.
  • 2. This note is written on a half-sheet of paper; it is addressed and written entirely in Mary's hand. It was folded in three and then doubled, and the exterior is dirty and worn.
  • 3. This piece of information would seem to be an echo of Gardiner's speech at his trial.
  • 4. The Lady Mary had stood god-mother to Van der Delft's son; see preceding volume, p. 88.
  • 5. Probably the note given above, dated February 3rd,
  • 6. Wrongly apostilled: Copie de la Princesse Marie, etc. The writing is certainly Mary's.
  • 7. See extract of letter from Simon Renard to the Emperor, dated February 4th, 1551.