Spain: April 1551, 6-10

Pages 251-271

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

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April 1551, 6–10

April 6. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 19. Jehan Scheyfve to the Emperor.
Sire: On March 17th last, I received the letters that your Majesty was pleased to write to me on the 7th of that month, and at once sent to demand audience of the Council, requesting that it might be as soon as possible, as a special courier had arrived from your Majesty. This I added in order to give them food for thought, for the Lady Mary had arrived in this town two days before to visit the King her brother, and I had had it from a good source that they had resolved to treat her roughly.
They gave me the next day, which was the 18th, and I failed not to present myself. In the first place, I reminded them of what they had communicated to me the other day touching the petition, made to the Queen Dowager of Hungary by Ambassador Chamberlain, that he might be allowed to practise his religion in conformity with the laws and statutes of this realm. He had based his argument on the fact that the like liberty was allowed me here, wherefore he ought to enjoy it too. I had informed your Majesty of the matter, and when, at our last meeting, they had asked me if I had received no reply, I had told them that, as only a short time had passed since I had been advised of their wishes, no answer had yet come from your Majesty, for you were far away, but I expected it would not be long. Your Majesty had now written to me, but only said that the English ambassador resident with you had made the same request: that Chamberlain might be allowed to use the new religion, and had done so, as he said, by the King's special orders. Your Majesty had replied that you were determined not to allow him or anyone else to practise any other religion than the old one, which you yourself observed, in your dominions, and you hoped that the King and Council would still allow me to enjoy mass and the old religion as my predecessors in office had done in the days of the late King, and even in the present sovereign's, for your Majesty saw no reason for changing now. But if the King and his Council persisted, which your Majesty could not believe they would do in a matter of so recent introduction, you would rather recall me and let the King's ambassadors also withdraw. Nevertheless, your Majesty hoped and trusted that the King and Council would consider well what you were asking, for it was a most just and reasonable request, and sprang from no innovation on your side.
At the same time, Sire, I represented to them that your Majesty had been greatly surprised by their attitude and conduct towards the Lady Mary on account of religion, which seemed most contrary and repugnant to the promise and assurance formerly given to you by the King and Council. It seemed that they were trying, little by little, to deviate the Princess from her holy purpose; but your Majesty hoped she would remain unshaken, and rather endure the extreme of physical suffering. If you perceived that the Princess were forsaking the old religion, which you could not believe, you would do your utmost to prevent her. I consequently requested them, according to their promise and the demands of honour, that they would no longer press her with the pretext of a few statutes, but would allow her to enjoy, peacefully and wholly, that which had been permitted her by the late King, her father, at least during the King, her brother's, minority. I added that, when he came of age, your Majesty doubted not that he would respect her as a humble and obedient sister; and if he behaved otherwise towards her, you would simply not stand it. (fn. 1) So I again begged them, as if on my own account, to allow the Princess to continue in the old religion, as the late King had left it at his death, and as she had always done in the past, without troubling her or destroying her peace of conscience; for the lady's virtues deserved nothing else, and they would thus be doing something most agreeable in your Majesty's sight. Having exposed the above points, I told them that their ambassador with your Majesty, instead of replying, as he had used to do, with a mere defence of the new religion, now went so far as trying to persuade your Majesty that it was the true and ancient one, comparing it advantageously with the religion professed by you. It seemed that in so doing he had taken too much upon himself, and been guilty of lack of respect towards your Majesty, who had been informed that he was in the habit of talking recklessly with whomsoever he met, trying to convert them under the supposition that all this was permitted to him as ambassador. Your Majesty, I told them, had finally grown angry about it, and had ordered the ambassador to stop his persuasions, for he was not the man to prevail upon you, saying that the religion you believed to be true had been observed by your father, grandfathers and other ancestors. The ambassador had replied that his opinion was very good, and founded upon the Old and New Testaments, that nothing was done in England without written instructions being given on the subject; and he went so far as to desire your Majesty to send men to England to dispute on religion. Your Majesty had said you must decline to enter into any such discussion, and that the English would have done better to have left matters as the late King had ordered them, during the King, their master's, minority. But the ambassador had again repeated that he held his opinion to be good and well-founded, and that the change had been good and in accordance with Gospel, the word of God, and (his countrymen's) conscience. At this, seeing that the ambassador was unwilling to cease, and apparently wished to make out that your Majesty held erroneous and heretical opinions, you had told him that he might retire if he had nothing else to talk about, and that he must not use such terms before you. Your Majesty believed that the ambassador had acted in this matter without instructions, and that the King and Council did not intend him to behave in such manner; and you had added that you could by no means allow him to adopt such conduct in your presence or at your Court. You felt sure that the King and Council had sent him to you as ambassador, not as preacher, and his demeanour was by no means suitable, and could only be a cause of friction and bitterness. Your Majesty would greatly regret if the said ambassador were to cause any estrangement between your Majesty and the King of England, to whom you had borne as much good will and interest, since his late father's death, as if he had been your own son, out of consideration for his tender age and the recommendation his father had sent to you from his death-bed. You intended to continue so to regard him, in spite of the trouble certain evilly-disposed people wished to cause, as long as the English continued to show the proper spirit on their side, which might prove to them that, though their ambassador had uttered such phrases, your Majesty had in nothing departed from the good and cordial affection you bore towards the King and his country. In order that the Council might be thoroughly informed as to how this episode took place, and what words their ambassador had employed to your Majesty—about which they might afterwards wish to bring forward excuses—I said I intended to read them your letter, which would tell them clearly how monstrously their ambassador had forgotten himself to speak in such wise.
This over, I told them, Sire, that their ambassador had shown a certain note to my Lord of Arras about a quantity of powder and other ammunition, about which your Majesty caused a full answer to be made by the said Lord (Bishop) after the contents of the note had been carefully looked into. I added that their ambassador had complained to your Majesty that a Spanish Jacobin friar had publicly preached in the city of Augsburg, that the King his master and his kingdom had turned Jews and were awaiting the coming of the Messiah; a most scandalous thing to say about the King and his realm. I told them that your Majesty had known nothing about it, and if it had really happened it had been against your wishes, for you considered it most reasonable that preachers should be well-bridled on such and similar subjects, and you would ascertain what had actually occurred, in order to take the necessary steps. As we were on this topic, Sire, I told them that I myself had heard that there were many renegades and Jews at this time in England, but did not know whether they were Englishmen, rather believing them to be foreigners, as every one now took refuge here. It was notorious that great numbers of Anabaptists, libertines and atheists had come hither, and as this was much talked of, the preacher might possibly have touched on it in general terms; but I did not try to assure them of this, only advancing it on my own account as a conjecture.
I also informed them that I had recently heard that their preachers were beginning to put your Majesty into their sermons on the score of religion, using very strange language; among others I named the Bishop of Rochester (Ponet) and a certain preacher called Hooper, at present Bishop of Gloucester. As this was a thing that ought not to be tolerated, I requested them to apply the proper remedy by punishing the said preachers, for otherwise I should be obliged, to my great regret, to inform your Majesty of it.
After this discourse, Sire, I began to read them your Majesty's letter, which appeared to frighten them sorely. They immediately started to look at one another, as if they knew not what face they had better put upon the matter: so much so that, when I had finished reading the letter, the Duke of Somerset and Earl of Warwick repeated two or three times over that the phrases used by their ambassador to your Majesty were quite new to them. He had, they said, done exceedingly ill, and gone quite beyond his charge. The King and Council had known nothing about it, and were greatly displeased that he should so have forgotten himself; but as the matter was very important they could make no reply for the moment, the Council not being present in full. They would call it together at once, and thought they might be ready to give an answer in seven or eight days.
I told them that the question did not appear to be so very weighty, as your Majesty really asked nothing more than that they should leave matters exactly as they had been before, without introducing any innovation. However, they repeated what they had just said; so I told them that, if it pleased them, I would come again in two or three days; but they maintained that the time was too short, and they would let me know their intentions as soon as possible.
On the 2nd of March, Sire, they sent for me, and I went to see them. Secretary Dr. Petre then said that the Council had heard what I had the other day laid before them and represented in obedience to your Majesty's commands, and had examined the contents of the said letter, which informed them that your Majesty was offended and dissatisfied with their ambassador resident with you, as well because he had acted in an excessive manner during his recent conference, as for other reasons. This displeased and greatly distressed them, and they desired to repeat what they had said the other day: that the ambassador had acted without instructions and against the King's and Council's wishes. As they desired that nothing of the sort should happen again and that your Majesty should be treated with all the respect which the King, in his anxiety to preserve the ancient and excellent friendship between your Majesties, desired to show you, they had decided to recall their ambassador and send another person who should be more agreeable to your Majesty. In order that I might know their choice, they named to me Dr. Wotton, who had already resided as ambassador with your Majesty, and also in France, and who better understood how to approach a prince. They hoped that your Majesty would be satisfied with this appointment, and they had decided to send a reply to everything I had laid before them, begging me to do all I could for the observance of the old friendship, and to interpret their action in the most favourable light, in which their trust in me prompted them to hope I would not fail.
I took up the above points, and told them that their ambassador had certainly gone too far in wishing to discuss and enter into dispute with your Majesty on religion, especially as he had had no charge to do so from the King, his master, or the Council, and above all as your Majesty had warned him to desist and had tried every means of stopping him, in spite of which he had continued, thus giving still greater offence. For this reason your Majesty had naturally been forced, on your side, to defend your religion, as being true and catholic. Consequently they would do well, and I prayed them, to admonish their ambassador and enjoin upon him to be more moderate in his future conferences, and above all to refrain from arguing with your Majesty on religion or anything else, as he had recently taken upon himself to do, but rather to fulfil such orders as he might receive in accordance with the King his master's wishes, and to observe proper respect toward your Majesty. If he did so, I felt certain you would be satisfied, and it would not be necessary to recall him this time. Even though they were entirely resolved to recall him, I told them, they might well give me an answer to what I had laid before them; and your Majesty would think it very strange that they should delay and put it off with the pretext of sending this new ambassador, for they could not ignore that they had caused the Queen of Hungary to be approached about permission for Ambassador Chamberlain to practise the English religion in Flanders. Although the Queen had told the Ambassador what your Majesty's intentions were, I said, they had again begged me to inform your Majesty of their request, and reasons for making it. And as they had recently asked me if I had had no reply from your Majesty, and since then had had a fresh demand made by their ambassador, to whom your Majesty had declared your intentions as above, it seemed to me that they could not neglect to give me some answer. Likewise touching the matter concerning the Princess, which had also been opened by them, as they had made difficulties about the promise and assurance given to your Majesty that the Princess should be allowed to practise the old religion, I had already had two conferences with them on the subject, and had informed your Majesty of what had been said; but I did not see what more arguments they could use. As for the ordinances that forbade the old religion, which they proposed to use as their main foundation, I told them they had made the same objection before granting the promise, and therein lay the prerogative and gratification conceded to your Majesty and the Princess. Your Majesty still requested that, in spite of the said ordinances, they would allow her to continue in the ancient faith. As for the friendship that their King and they desired, I assured them that your Majesty corresponded entirely, out of your cordial affection for the King and his country, as you had clearly shown in the past. For my part I would not fail to do all I could to preserve the friendship, even as your Majesty's sincere intentions had inspired my actions in the past.
On hearing this, Sire, they held a secret conference and deliberation, after which they told me, Dr. Petre acting as spokesman, that in the matter of the petition made by their ambassador, and also of my hearing mass, they would leave things as they had been before; but Petre went no further, nor did he mention the Princess. However, the Duke of Somerset and Earl of Warwick told me they had decided to put off the Princess' affair (fn. 2) until Dr. Wotton should go to your Majesty, for princes were in the habit of sending special ambassadors, above all on matters of importance, as the King of France had recently done to them, and they also to the King of France. I said to them that that might be done where a newly opened question was concerned, but, as this matter had been discussed quite sufficiently, a reply was owing, particularly as Dr. Wotton would not be ready to go very soon. They repeated what they had just said, adding that the new ambassador would not delay, and they hoped your Majesty would be satisfied with their answer. So, Sire, seeing that I could do nothing else, I told them I would inform your Majesty, as their minds were made up. And that was the end of our conference.
Their reply, Sire, looks as if they intended to thrust it all upon their ambassador in order to palliate and cover their blame and excuse themselves to your Majesty; but if they see a good opportunity they may order the said Wotton to broach the matter afresh, and try every means of persuading your Majesty. As for the Lady Mary, as far as I can see and hear, they will make mighty efforts to distract your Majesty's good intentions with the best arguments and reasons they can devise. They will put forward the general ordinances of the realm, the trouble, scandal, confusion and rebellions of which they, in reality, are the guilty authors; and if anything untoward happens—which God forbid!—while the Princess continues to observe the old religion, they will make of it all the use they can in order to persuade the lady that she ought to be satisfied as long as her conscience remains unassailed. By this they would mean that she might hear mass in secret with one or two of her ladies, and the rest of her household observe the new religion, which would be most repugnant and contrary to her conscience, and exhibit the strange spectacle of two religions being practised in the same house. I have it from a good source that, had it not been for the coming of your Majesty's letters, they intended to use her very roughly, keeping her here in this town if she refused to conform with the new religion, and taking away her servants, especially those whom she trusted, in whose place they would have set others of their way of thinking; and they would have attempted to excuse themselves to your Majesty with the above arguments. It seems that their one object is to subject the Princess and make themselves lords of all, taking the mass away from her as soon as opportunity shall offer, as they have already prepared to do, and forcing her to accept the new religion.
As their reply is to be made to your Majesty in person, and will thus be of greater virtue and efficacy than if made here, it seems, subject to your correction, as if they were at last going to consent to the Princess' continued observance (of the old religion), and I believe they will do so out of respect for, and desire to please your Majesty. It might therefore contribute to the lady's greater repose and security if you took this opportunity of demanding letters patent of assurance; for these folk are much given to changing their rulers now and then, and new men force their way in and seize the reins. They are also apt to pay small attention to fulfilment of promises, as they are now repudiating the promise they formerly made to your Majesty.
I will now give your Majesty a detailed account of the treatment the Princess received from the King and Council on this her last visit. On her arrival at Court, on March 17th last, to salute the King her brother, she was received very simply by his Controller, and led by him towards the King, who was awaiting her with the entire Council, to the number of twenty-five, in a certain gallery. There the King received her kindly enough, and the lady, having made all due reverences, offered excuses for the delay of her visit beyond the accustomed time because of her indisposition, for which the King expressed sorrow, saying that God had sent him health, and to the Princess illness. After this they entered into conversation, and the King led her, unaccompanied by any of her ladies, into his chamber, where she was surrounded by the Councillors. Then the King began to say that he desired to remind her of the letters that both he and his Council had sent to her. The lady, seeing him stop in his speech, replied that it was true. At this the Council came up and delivered a harangue on the promise formerly made to your Majesty, of which she had made use in her letters, and rejected and denied it utterly, declaring that the King no longer intended that she should practise the old religion. She replied in the tone of her letters in answer to theirs, going over what had happened the year before in presence of the King and Council, when there had been no discussion at all about the promise, which was wholly confessed to have been made, so that everything had passed off to the King's satisfaction. This he admitted, saying that then there had been no discussion. Seeing this, the lady replied that the Council had written rather sourly to her, over the signatures of sixteen or seventeen of their number, to the effect that there had been some discussion, and that an express prohibition against practising the old religion had been intimated to her. The King said he knew nothing about that, for he had only taken a share in affairs during the last year. She rejoined that, in that case, he had not drawn up the ordinances on the new religion. At this they replied and remonstrated that grave troubles might arise if she, sister to the King and heiress to the Crown, observed the old religion; the ordinances were general, without exception of persons, and though a promise exempting her from them had been given to please your Majesty and out of respect for the lady, it had always been meant to be limited, and subject to the King's and Council's good pleasure. She answered that she believed the promise to have been general, and had always so understood it; and she begged them to await a reply from your Majesty, whom they ought to respect as a prince and ancient ally, and when they had seen the reply they might do as they thought fit. Seeing that nobody answered this, she went on to confess that she was the King's humble subject and sister, and if the ordinances were general she would greatly regret any trouble that might come to pass by her fault, but up to the present she had given no cause, for she had always prayed for the King's prosperity and the realm's peace. As they had already praised the King's great knowledge and understanding, she had no wish to diminish it, but would pray God that his virtues might increase. Nonetheless she turned to the King, and said that riper age and experience would teach him much more yet, to which he retorted that she also might still have something to learn, for no one was too old for that; by which he hinted at her religion. She replied that it would be very hard for her to change her religion, in which the King, her father, had bred her and left her at his death, both because of her age and her inclinations and devotion. Here the Councillors interposed, saying that the late King had changed several points before his death and, had he lived longer, would have thrown over all the Holy Father's constitutions and drawn up others like those now in force. The lady made no answer except that she would not enter into discussion on that point, but wished that everything had remained as it was at the time of the King her father's death.
The Council's next move was to try to charge the lady with some disobedience, calling to witness the late King's will, in accordance with which she ought to obey ordinances and submit to the Council's instructions. She replied that she had carefully read the said will, and she was bound to obedience only on the point of her marriage, on which she had not been disobedient. She added that the late King had ordered two masses to be said for him every day, and four obsequies every year, and other ceremonies, which yet remained unobserved on their side. They answered that they felt themselves bound by the will, and obliged to execute its provisions, in so far as they were in no way harmful to the King, their master. She said she knew it well, and was quite confident that the late King had never ordered anything in the least prejudicial to the King, her brother, because of the paternal love he bore him, and it was reasonable to suppose that he alone cared more for the good of his kingdom than all the members of his Council put together. Unable to swallow this, the Earl of Warwick spoke the following words: “How now, my Lady? It seems that your Grace is trying to show us in a hateful light to the King, our master, without any cause whatsoever.” She acquitted herself of this by saying that she had not come hither to do so, but as they had opened the matter and pressed her so hard, she was unwilling to hide or dissemble the truth. She then went back to the promise, and told them that she had enough confidence in the foresight and discretion of the King and his Council to hope that they would remember the ancient and close alliance between your Majesties, and await your reply. She added, speaking to the King, that even had there been no assurance at all, she would have hoped and trusted that his Majesty, because of the great and boundless goodness with which God in His mercy had endowed him, and also because she was his near relative and unworthy sister, would have shown her enough respect to allow her to continue in the observance of the old religion, and to prevent her from being troubled in any way, or set at war with her conscience. And, ending her discourse, she told him that in the last resort there were only two things: soul and body. Her soul she offered to God, and her body to his Majesty's service, and might it please him to take away her life rather than the old religion, in which she desired to live and die. At this the King said quickly that he wished for no such sacrifice. So then she took leave, and very humbly prayed his Majesty to be pleased to excuse her from coming to Court any more on this occasion because of her illness, and to give her permission to depart, which he did. Moreover, she begged him to give no credit to any person who might desire to make him believe evil of her, whether about religion or anything else, assuring him that she always would remain his Majesty's humble, obedient and unworthy sister. The King said he had never doubted of that; and so, Sire, the lady departed.
Two days later Secretary Dr. Petre presented himself before my Lady, with instructions from the King and Council to request her to remain a few days longer in town if her health at all permitted it; though no particular reason was given. If, he went on to say, her health did not permit her to do so, the King gave her her choice whether she should go or stay, for it would grieve him if this should become the cause of still graver indisposition, and he had been greatly distressed to see and hear her present state. After some slight excuses, the Princess said that, to gratify the King, she would consent to stay as long as it should please his Majesty to require of her, and that it gave her the greatest pleasure to employ herself in his service, for she would set aside her indisposition and every other motive rather than fail to obey his commands as far as her conscience would allow her, and she always Mould remain his humble, obedient and unworthy sister. Dr. Petre then said that the King and Council, on their side, returned her the most cordial affection. The Councillors would always be ready to render her any service, general or particular, in their power, as some test might hereafter show, for she was the second person in the kingdom, and her virtues deserved no other treatment. He added, however, as if by the King's and Council's orders, that he desired to remind her of what had happened recently between the King and Council and herself, asking her if she had not yet changed her mind, and repeating the old demands that she should cease observing her religion as contrary to the true one, and to the ordinances and statutes of the realm, which the King intended to have inviolably obeyed by every one: in which speech Dr. Petre used many exhortations and inducements to move her from her fidelity. The Princess replied that her illness-for, as he could see, she was in bed-made her pray to be excused from making a long reply. She thanked the Councillors for their good will, and they should always find her equally ready to do anything she. could for them; but as for the other point, he already knew what had happened, and the attitude she had adopted in presence of the King and Council. She then repeated part of the above arguments, and said she placed great trust in the King that he would not molest her, out of consideration for the assurance that had been given to your Majesty, and because she was so near a relative and of the same blood as the King, but would let her observe the old religion as she had done in the past. To conclude, she took up again this point, and desired him to report it: that she would remain constant, for there were two things only, the soul and the body, and she would offer her soul to God, and her body in humble service of his Majesty, her brother. She preferred that the King and Council should take away her life rather than the practice of the old religion, in which she was resolved to live and die, though she trusted she might remain a very humble and obedient subject, and unworthy sister, to the King. After this, Sire, Dr. Petre departed without uttering any further reply. The lady remained several days longer in town, though the King sent word to her that she might leave when-ever she pleased.
On the last day but one of March, I received your Majesty's letters of the 17th of that month. I will have their contents made known to the Princess, as your Majesty enjoins upon me; and in all things else will be guided by them.
It is said that Dr. Wotton will leave England to go and reside with your Majesty within ten or twelve days.
London, 6 April, 1551.
Signed. French. Cipher.
April 9. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 19. Advices sent by Jehan Scheyfve.
The Bishop of Rochester (Ponet), formerly chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury, who is more of an astrologer than a theologian, is now Bishop of Winchester; but the King has taken over all the temporalities, castles, towns and manors, and has only left the tithes and personal rights, which come to some 300 pounds sterling, instead of 3,000 pounds that the bishopric was worth before. The castles and lands have already been distributed among some of the Lords of the Council.
A certain English preacher called Hooper, Bishop of Gloucester, was accused a few days ago by the Bishop of London of being an anabaptist, and having preached that bishops ought not to wear rochets because the Apostles had not done so. Hooper was taken prisoner, but was immediately afterwards released, and had the rochet put upon him, in which he preached before the King and Council, revoking what he had recently taught, and confessing that he had fallen into error and disobedience. The German Church, as they call it here, of which à Lasco is head and superintendent, grows from day to day, and the Gallican Church has joined it. Together they have published a confession which they call the Christian doctrine and Apostolic faith, and on it is based the foreigners' Church, which has been founded in London by the King's and Council's permission.
The English still make no sign of intending to abandon the new religion. On the contrary, they have lately put several doctors into prison, among whom is the vicar or suffragan of the old Bishop of Winchester (Gardiner), who had been so bold as to defend and maintain his master's cause. Others had preached against Peter Martyr's doctrine, and still others had heard mass, though the ordinances do not yet go so far as (to make a crime of) that. Still it is thought that they will soon hold a general inquisition to assail the Catholics and all those who hold by the old religion; and some are already preaching that, according to human and divine law and all good government, those who practise and observe the old religion could and ought to be punished in most exemplary manner, and even with the last penalty, as it is a thing contrary to the ordinances and statutes of the realm.
There is a rumour here that the Holy Father, whom the English call the Great Bishop of Rome (Grand Evêque), is going to send a legate hither, and that the Emperor will do the same. Some, also, speak of the King of France as if he were going to summon them to a General Council, though others say that the said King does not intend to do so. However, the Councillors and their Bishops were greatly perplexed about it. It seems that lately other tidings have been received, and that the Council is to be put off for some time yet, at which the English are a little relieved. Some of their spiritual guides are preaching that the King of England is Pope and Emperor in his kingdom, that he has nothing to do with foreigners, that he may send to the Council if he chooses to do so, but that Englishmen ought to put their trust in God alone, for the Council will only serve to bring the Pope and Popery into England. It is nonetheless probable that they have been invited and urged to attend it, and in such a manner that they will not refuse; but they will have little to do there, because the chief heretics who might appear at the Council are foreigners, and it is probable that the English will not consent to leave the glory to them, or that they (the foreign doctors) will not adventure themselves. People are beginning to whisper here that the Duke of Somerset would not object to abandoning the new religion and taking up the old again, though it was he who introduced the new; and that certain other Councillors are of the same opinion, only nobody dares unmask as yet. One hears that, a month ago, the Duke and my Lord of Warwick fell into a dispute in open Council, but the matter was soon calmed down. This gossip is not to be taken too seriously, for everyone is ready to say anything he imagines may work out to his advantage. They also say that, a little before this difference arose, a certain gentleman of the Duke's household said to someone else at Court that his master was better qualified to govern than Warwick and, besides, ought to be preferred to him because he was the King's uncle. For this reason, and with the pretext that he would not allow anyone to try to make trouble between himself and the Duke, as they were such good friends and allies, Warwick had the gentleman put in prison, which displeased the Duke of Somerset, though he dissembled his feelings.
My Lord of Arundel, who was formerly of the Council, has been deprived of his office because he refused to consent to the Duke of Somerset's release from prison and general reinstatement, on the grounds that he had solemnly been published and declared to be a traitor to the King. Arundel has, however, obtained the King's pardon, who has remitted the payment of 8,000 crowns of a fine to which he had been condemned. But it seems that he has excused himself from becoming a member of the Council again. My Lord of Westmorland, a young lord of the North Country, has been appointed to the Council.
The men-of-war that the English were fitting out the other day have already put out to sea, and have been sent to seven or eight ports, whence it is said they will make for Ireland if need arises. Another seven or eight ships will steer northwards, and five or six will be left in the Thames. Some of those that were going north were laden with great store of shot, powder, spades and barrows; and it seems that they intend to put up a fort or bulwark, some say in Ireland, which they have long meant to do. Others say it will be at Hull, or somewhere thereabouts in the North Country, as that part is rather exposed and the French might fall upon it, especially as it is near Scotland, and the French might take it into their heads to attempt some exploit there, hoping to find support among those who stand by the old religion.
The Marquis of Dorset, who has been appointed the King's lieutenant in the North Country, set out in that direction a short time ago with 80 horse, and my Lords of Westmorland and Grey, who was captain of Boulogne, have done the same, and have taken up their quarters there. Some say it is because of the French, others that they are going to surround, or at least keep an eye on, my Lords Derby and Shrewsbury, who have noticed that the preparations made against France are really intended for use against them; but these preparations have failed (to intimidate them), so that the Council are moved to take precautions, especially on account of the peasants, who are said to be pricking up their ears once more, which might easily cause great mischief in this country.
My Lord Cobham, who has been given the command in Ireland, is still here, and it seems that their ardour for this expedition is cooled, though they still say that all the German miners are to be sent thither. It is believed that secret orders have been issued to all the captains to hold themselves in readiness for service, but no man of them knows what he will be called upon to do. The foot-soldiers will be raised here in the country, and every one will have to supply some, and it is all in order not to let it be seen that they are afraid of the French for the above reasons.
The French ambassador is not often with the Council or my Lord of Warwick at present, and it looks as if their negotiations, formerly so frequent, were rarer. On March 20th, Mr. Pickering returned from France, and the news were kept secret for three of four days. One hears on good authority that he did not bring back very good news, and that the Council fear the King of France may make war on them again; though no details have yet been discovered. They say that Pickering is to go back again to stay as ambassador, for Mason is about to come home.
They are saying here now that the King of France has taken away the troops he had on board the galleys at the Havre, and also on board some of his galleons, and has sent them by land to Marseilles; and that the Emperor is having troops massed in Spain, and already has a large number ready. The English seem to be overjoyed about this, especially about the rumour, which they believe, that the Duke of Castro (Octavio Farnese) has handed over Parma to the French; for they hope that this may bring the Emperor and King of France to blows once more, which would mean their salvation from two perils. They also say that the Turk is coming down with a great force, and the King of France has an undertaking with him.
The Lady Mary, Princess of England, on her way to London to visit the King, her brother, was accompanied by about 400 horse, as well of her own people as other Englishmen; but no one from the King's Court came out to meet her. The people ran five or six miles out of town and were marvellously overjoyed to see her, showing clearly how much they love her. All the streets through which she passed were so crowded that it was difficult to move in them.
For the last few days no one has tallied about anything here except the confiscation of metal and ammunition made a short time ago at Antwerp, and the Council have been much exercised about it. At first it was said that they intended to demand restitution on the ground that all the property belonged to the King, hoping that the Emperor would reconsider it, as the confiscation was a serious matter. Since then they have changed their minds, and say that the whole does not amount to more than 4,000 or 5,000 pounds Stirling, so that they do not care to do anything about it, especially as it has been discovered that the persons principally concerned are Mr. (Sir John) York, master of the Irish mint (sic), and some other English merchants, who have been sorely frightened and distressed about it, but have had small sympathy from the people, who say Mr. York deserves it, because he is to blame for the bad money now current in England. It seems that all is over now, and that they have recouped themselves out of certain very profitable licences they have obtained from the King to export leather and other goods out of the realm. They say that Mr. York was trying to get together a great quantity of coin and metal abroad (in Flanders) out of which he intended to make a profit because of the different rate of exchange; and for this reason work had been stopped in the mint, in order that the profit might be as large as possible.
It seems that they are still trying to import coin, metal, some quantity of armour to outfit 400 or 500 horse, and some ammunition. They say that the armour and ammunition seized at Antwerp belonged to my Lords of Somerset, Warwick, the Privy Seal, the Admiral, Paget and Cobham, and that a good deal more was to have gone the same way. The man who represents the Fuggers here is often with Warwick, which looks as if they were again intending to undertake some exploit, and the Fuggers were going to supply them with money.
All the foreigners in London are being enrolled; and it is said that they are going to publish an ordinance which shall prohibit all artisans and mechanics from selling their goods unless they are naturalised, which will cost each one about four pounds Stirling, to the King's profit. Others say that all foreigners who have arrived during the last year are to be expelled, to satisfy the people, who say that they have brought about the dearness of food and lodging which is menacing much trouble; and they cannot but perceive that the aliens' numbers swell from day to day, and that they are the dregs of foreign subjects and heretics. It is said that the German, Musculus (sic), (fn. 3) has been called to come hither and succeed Bucer.
Several ships have arrived here, laden with wheat and corn, from Holland, and it seems that more are to come yet with goods up to 10,000 or 12,000 lasts, (fn. 4) which have been bought by the city of London, to be delivered during May. There is great lack of corn and other provisions throughout the kingdom.
M. de Lansac has returned from France, arriving here on April 2nd, and the day after his arrival came Mr. Erskine, Scottish ambassador. On the 5th of this month they were received by the King and Council and much caressed. Lansac presented to the King certain books translated from Latin into French, and portraits of the King and Queen of France, and of their daughter. Afterwards M. de Lansac and the French ambassador held a conference with the Council that lasted about two hours, after which Mr. Erskine was summoned, and they conferred together for an hour. When the Council rose the French ambassador talked a great while with my Lord of Warwick, and Lansac with my Lord of Somerset, and then they all went out together.
As for what they negotiated, different stories are being told. Some say that the boundary question is being aired once more, particularly the frontier between England and Scotland, and that it has been decided that the frontier shall immediately be traced and settled, in order to avoid all disputes and enable the people on both sides to rest secure. Therefore M. de Lansac and Mr. Erskine, who left for Scotland on the 7th of this month, are to meet certain English commissioners (fn. 5) on the spot to settle the boundary. Others affirm that Lansac's return indicates something of importance, and that he would not have come back had it not been for some urgent reason, which they believe to be connected with proposals for a closer alliance. Though Lansac may have gone to Scotland on the boundary question or some other mission, they think that when he returns some decision will be taken on what he laid before the Council the other day. It really looks as if there were something beyond the boundary question, as Lansac was in conference with the Council for two hours before Erskine was called in. A few persons are of opinion that these gentlemen have gone to Scotland to induce that country to consent to a union with England and, in order to proceed with proper order, have demanded a passport for the Queen Dowager. This would mean that the French have consented to hand over the forts they hold in Scotland, in exchange for which they will receive Ham, Guines and Calais. It is thought, however, that even were this true, and even if the Scots nobles were already won over, the people would not consent because of religion and other reasons, and, on the other hand, the English well know the importance of their outposts on the Continent, and will always be suspicious as long as they are unable to marry the little Queen of Scots to the King of England with Scotland's consent, and get her into their hands. Some say that when Lansac has returned from Scotland, he will soon come back as ambassador to replace the present one.
The English King-of-Arms (fn. 6) was knighted ten days ago, and it is believed he is to go with another gentleman to France to present the order of the Garter to the King.
On the 7th and 8th of this month the King of England mounted his horse in full armour, rode two or three miles each time, and also charged the target to exercise and show himself to the people.
Cipher. French.
April 9. Vienna, Imp. Arch E. 19. Jehan Scheyfve to the Emperor's Council.
My Lords: On the 17th of March last I received two letters from your Lordships, one dated February 27th, and the other March 8th, and with them certain notes. One of these was sent by the Scottish Government to the King of France, and the other by Ambassador Bassefontaine to President St. Mauris, by express orders of the King his master, to show that the manœuvres imputed to the Scots were really the work of the English, and even of the King of England's ministers, such as the Admiral, and the Earl of Bothwell, a renegade Scot.
My Lords, in obedience to the said letters of February 27th, I went to see the Council and exposed to them, by the Emperor's express commands and in the Admiral's presence, that his Majesty had been informed that the Admiral and Earl of Bothwell had outfitted and manned a war-ship, putting on her as captain one John Edmonstone, another exiled Scot and relative of the Earl, together with several more renegade Scotsmen and some Englishmen, to pillage the Emperor's subjects. This was a strange and unseemly proceeding, and his Majesty supposed the King and Council must have winked at it. His Majesty now heard that Edmonstone had been caught and imprisoned, and demanded prompt restitution to his subjects of all the property stolen from them by these pirates. He would leave it to the Council to decide what punishment ought to be inflicted upon those who had practised piracy against the English ordinances, and hoped they would so order matters that in the future such happenings might not occur, for they could not ignore how important it was. When the Councillors had listened to the above very patiently, the Admiral said in an injured tone that he had never had any secret understanding with Edmonstone. As they had ordered Edmonstone to be apprehended, and he had been pronounced guilty and was soon to be hanged, it was quite evident that the said Edmonstone's affair concerned him not at all. As for the goods of his Majesty's pillaged subjects, he knew nothing about them, for nought had been found on board Edmonstone's vessel save a little wax belonging to some Englishmen. He would much like to ask me who could have made such a report, for he who had originated it ought to be made responsible. I replied, my Lords, that I had heard of Edmonstone's capture along with several other pirates, for he could hardly have sailed the seas alone, and I hoped he would be rewarded as his villainy deserved, unless he should obtain a pardon from the King's Majesty. At this the Earl of Warwick and the Admiral said quickly that justice should take its course, and the man should be executed without fail. Then I went on to say that the King of France, having heard that certain Scotsmen were indulging in piracy, immediately wrote to the Regent about it, so that he might fall upon them and punish them in an exemplary manner. The Regent, seeing that some blame attached to him, and that he might be accused, could not fail to justify himself in the King's eyes by telling him what he had heard and assuring him, moreover, that he would be so vigilant that no pirates should be found off the Scottish coast, and would have the last treaty of peace between the Scots and his Majesty most strictly observed. And as the Admiral had said that nothing but a little wax had been found on board Edmonstone's ship, and that English property, I told him I was greatly surprised, for I believed Edmonstone had been very careful not to interfere with English subjects, and I had heard that Edmonstone had borne himself right valiantly at sea with the 100-ton vessel he commanded, adding that if the Admiral were pleased to look over his inventory he might possibly find something besides. My Lord of Somerset, hearing this, said smiling: “My Lord Admiral, the ambassador says that you ought to look at your inventory, for you would find something more in it.” However, the Admiral persisted that he knew of nothing more.
Later, my Lords, after this conference, I went again to the Council and asked the Admiral if he had not yet looked over his inventory. He failed not to reply as he had before, saying that he felt deeply wounded in his honour, and that it was dishonourable to cast blame so lightly on people. He would be sorry to learn that the King, his master, had such servants, and he was made of different stuff. He hoped to acquit himself in his office as well as another of his rank, with other similar talk. As he advanced so far, I told him that all I had declared and recited the other day had been by his Majesty's express commands, who had received information to that effect from Scotland and France. His Majesty did not wish to maintain that it was true, but only to declare that he had been informed, in order that due action might be taken. Still, I wished him to know that I had heard Edmonstone had declared that the Admiral had taken from him his ship and plundered property, and 200 pounds sterling in cash besides. I went so far as to say to him, as if on my own account, and especially because he was making shift to clear himself, that quite notoriously some Scottish and English pirates had been caught a few days before, and their ships, on board which booty belonging to the Emperor's subjects, such as wine, herring and other provisions were found, had immediately been taken into London. There, in order that nothing should become known, the ships had been kept closed to all comers by day, but by night, and secretly, the goods had been taken out. And, in order to confirm this, I told him that the very Englishmen who had unloaded the goods said openly that they had been stolen from Flemings. He answered sharply that what I said could never be proved. I rejoined that I knew well enough I could never get the said Englishmen to turn evidence, for they would take good care not to bear witness against him, but I would prove it by my secretary and other of the Emperor's subjects who had no personal interest in the affair; and I knew, besides, who had bought the goods, and how much they had paid for them. Seeing I knew all the details, he could find nothing to answer, but stuck to it that he knew nothing, and that, if any prizes had been brought into England, it must be the officers' doing, though he was quite ignorant of anything of the sort. I told him it was reasonable to suppose that a master knew how his servants conducted themselves, especially in cases, like the present one, in which the master was directly responsible. The future would show the truth, but I added that I wished to remind the Council of what I had laid before them the other day concerning five or six Scotsmen who had plundered the Emperor's subjects while negotiations for a treaty between his Majesty and the Scots were in progress. These subjects of his Majesty had presented themselves before the Admiral, and the Scotsmen, who were also present, had maintained that the Admiral had taken from them everything they had in their possession, vessels, prizes, money, provisions and even their clothes, seizing it all as confiscated, notwithstanding the fact that the Scots had been ready to have prompt restitution made to his Majesty's subjects because the prizes had been unlawfully come by during the treaty negotiations, though I absolved the Scotsmen of guilt as they had not known it. The Admiral replied that the Scots might say what they liked, but he knew nothing about any such property. He only owned that there were certain moneys proceeding from the sale of some prizes, but said that, as soon as it could be proved that the goods in question were really his Majesty's subjects' property, the money should immediately be restored to them. I said that the Council had already given me the same assurances before the sale had taken place, but when the proofs had been exhibited nothing had been done and their promise remained fruitless, as the affair had been sent before the Admiralty Court: a thing contrary to all justice and equity. They repeated that it was perfectly reasonable to send such matters to the Admiralty Court, which had been constituted for no other purpose, and good and prompt justice was rendered there. I told them that it worked out otherwise in practice, and as for promptness, I had never seen anything approaching it, for since my arrival I had not heard of one single sentence being given, in spite of all my solicitations and remonstrances. Worse still, the Admiralty Court did not attempt to have any of its decisions put into execution. They answered that they would see to it that good and prompt justice should be administered on all sides, and that his Majesty's subjects should have no cause for complaint; and this was all I was able to get out of them.
When I had taken leave, my Lords, and was about to go from the Council, the Earl of Warwick and the Admiral came up to me, and the Earl, drawing me aside, said that the Edmonstone business touched the Admiral's honour very nearly. In order to clear up the matter, the Admiral asked that the person who had given me the information about the 200 pounds might be confronted with Edmonstone the next day before the Council in my secretary's presence, and the Admiral would then justify himself, for he was certain that Edmonstone would not repeat his assertions. I replied that Edmonstone had not told me that the Admiral had made any profit out of, the booty, for that, as I had already declared to them, came from another source. However, to be brief, I consented to their request, only remarking, that Edmonstone might be overawed on finding himself before such an assembly.
The next day, Secretary Sellinger came to see me in obedience, he said, to the Admiral's orders. The Admiral was of opinion that it would be better not to trouble the Council, and to have Captain Edmonstone cross-examined in prison, and begged me to send my man, in order that he might hear all that should be said, and give me a trustworthy account of it. Among other things, Sellinger was at pains to unfold something of Edmonstone's life to me, as if of his own accord, and told me that he was a bad man, who ought not to be believed, especially when he attempted to besmirch the Admiral's honour and attack his integrity, for the Admiral was not that sort of person at all. I told him that the principal information I had on the subject came, not from Edmonstone, but from Scotland and France, though it was true that he had formerly confessed to one Martin Scaris, a subject of the Emperor who had spoken to him about property belonging to his master, that the Admiral had stripped him of it all, and 200 pounds sterling besides, so he had nothing left with which to satisfy his Majesty's subjects. As Edmonstone was the man he had described him to be, I was amazed that they had not punished him sooner, and would like to know for what reason they had entertained and supported him so long, well knowing, as they did, that he was a renegade Scot. And as Edmonstone was of that feather, he might possibly forswear and take back his former confession out of hope of obtaining the King's pardon; by which I meant to intimate that Edmonstone might have received some hint. To this Sellinger only answered that Edmonstone had left Scotland because of certain misdemeanours, but he did not know he was a renegade. In order to comply with the Admiral's demands, I sent my man and Martin Scaris with Sellinger; and when they saw Edmonstone, Sellinger examined him. It seems from what my man told me that Edmonstone may well have been primed with his answer, but wishing to do the thing in style he showed great astonishment at this sudden cross-examination, and at once fell to denying, with most outrageous oaths, the above-mentioned points. He confessed in a general way that he had said the King had taken his ship with all there was in it, namely, a small quantity of wax and a certain number of bonnets, of which the bonnets belonged to the French, and the wax to a Spaniard (in this his account is at variance with the Admiral's), and that he had had no other property on board. He added that, at the time of his capture he had had no money at all, from which he reached the conclusion that it was not likely that he could have spoken to anyone about the 200 pounds. Besides, on his last voyage he had only been three months at sea, and had had no secret aid nor favour from anyone; though he confessed that a certain Englishman of Calais, whose name he did not mention, had given the treasurer of that place securities for the purchase of his ship. This he had done out of gratitude for some favour Edmonstone had shown him when he was his prisoner during the recent wars; and with this Edmonstone dropped a hint that the English well knew what use they intended to put him to, about which Sellinger was not best pleased. But though Martin recalled several details and circumstances of the story he had told, such as that Edmonstone had said he would not mind signing it were it not for his fear of the Admiral, and desire of avoiding his displeasure with the hope of obtaining the King's pardon, Edmonstone stuck to it stoutly that he had never made any such confession. And so they went away, Sellinger praying my man to report what he had heard to me, for Edmonstone's denial might certainly be taken to clear the Admiral.
The Scottish and English pirates captured were 75 in number, and of these 40 have been condemned to the last penalty. Before judgment was pronounced some ten Englishmen were released—though not immediately after their capture—and with them five Scots; and these Scots and Englishmen, as one hears, paid 1,600 crowns, all in good money, for their deliverance. It is hard to believe that the sentence will be executed, for it is more likely that several will be pardoned. The more innocent ones may have to suffer, though, as they have already been sentenced, and time is passing. The rest may perhaps be employed on board the English ships; and as for Edmonstone, I do not at all believe he will suffer, for he is well thought of and personally brave; unless they think it necessary to make a demonstration to prove that he had nothing to do with the Admiral.
As for the treatment meted out to the Emperor's subjects here, whose goods and merchandise are examined on arrival in, and departure from, England, I have held communication with several of the subjects here resident. For greater security they have given it all in writing, and signed, and I am sending their declaration (fn. 7) with these letters, so that your Lordships may be informed of how the examination is being conducted. In confirmation of the same, the ordinances published here during the last five months, of which I have sent copies to the Queen (Dowager of Hungary) may also be cited.
London, 9 April, 1551.
Copy or duplicate. Cipher. French.


  • 1. The entry in Edward's Journal for March 19th runs: “The Emperor's ambassador came with short message from his master of war if I would not suffer his cousin the Princess to use her mass. To this was no answer given at this time.”
  • 2.
  • 3. I have failed to find any German reformer with a name even remotely approaching Musculus. It is conceivable that it may be a scribe's mistake for Melancthon, or even Micronius, whose names were mentioned in this connection at the time.
  • 4. The last is variously estimated at 4,000lb. and two tons.
  • 5. These commissioners' names are given in Edward's Journal: The Bishop of Lichfield (Sampson) or the Bishop of Norwich (Thirlby), Sir Robert Bowes, Sir Leonard Beckwith and Sir Thomas Chaloner. See also Calendar, Scotland, Vol. I.
  • 6. This is probably Sir Gilbert Dethick, Garter King of Arms, who accompanied the Marquis of Northampton to France shortly afterwards.
  • 7. No enclosures are now to be found with this letter.