Spain: April 1551, 11-20

Pages 271-278

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, 11–20

April 14. Brussels, E.A. 100. The Council of State to the Queen Dowager.
We have received the letter your Majesty was pleased to write to us on the 3rd instant, commanding us to choose a competent person to be sent to Scotland, to take the ratification of the recent treaty of peace without further delay, although the stipulated term has not yet expired. And your Majesty also instructed us to make choice of another native of these dominions to reside as conservator of our nation in that country.
As for the first point, Madam, M. Matthew Strick appears to us to be a suitable person, for he was sent to Scotland not long ago. We have broached the matter to him, and he declares himself willing to undertake the journey in his Majesty's service, and that he will be ready to depart whenever he receives notice.
We are awaiting the arrival of Gaspar Schetz, with whom, in the Treasurer's (fn. 1) presence, we shall discuss the second appointment. Schetz will be able to give us good advice, for he often has business in Scotland and knows the merchants who trade there; so, Madam, we will hasten the matter as much as possible.
We will also see to sending the ratification as soon as it arrives here; but in the meantime we think it our duty to inform your Majesty of certain difficulties that have struck us, together with our views as to how they may be avoided, in order that your Majesty, having heard the facts, may send us your orders. It was agreed by the recent treaty that the ratifications of both parties should be given in the town of Antwerp before the first of May next; and this stipulation was introduced in order to preserve the prestige and dignity of his Imperial Majesty. But if we send the ratification to Scotland, we shall be doing more than the treaty binds us to do. Another consideration is that the Scottish ratification ought to be delivered here before we give ours, as his Majesty's dignity requires, in order that we may see whether it is drawn up in due form according to the terms agreed upon, and whether the Scottish Estates have sworn to accept and observe the treaty, and all in proper form. We also suppose the Regent and Council of Scotland will wish to see our ratification before they grant theirs. Two difficulties may arise out of this situation: first, it may become necessary for both parties to send their ratifications in order to find out whether they are correctly drawn up, which would mean delay and expense, for the distances are great; secondly, there may be a dispute as to who should grant the ratification first, though there is no reason why his Imperial Majesty should begin. And yet another difficulty might crop up if we granted ours first and sent it to Scotland: the Scots might keep back theirs if they wished to cheat us, though we do not consider this likely in the face of the desire they showed to conclude peace. Still, there would be no risk whatever if we could obtain their ratification first. And in this connexion Ambassador Bassefontaine has suggested to us that the person we send to Scotland might receive their ratification in that country; but, subject to your Majesty's correction, we do not think that ought to be consented to, because of his Imperial Majesty's dignity and prestige. As we have already said, however, all these difficulties might be avoided were the Scottish ratification to be sent hither as the treaty provides, and were Strick merely to be sent to assist at the Scots Estates' swearing of the treaty; though we only write this to your Majesty as a suggestion.
As we suppose the Emperor and your Majesty have some good reasons for wishing to despatch the ratification at once, we have drawn up the instructions for Strick that you will see from the copy, in case you still desire to send him, in spite of the considerations set forth above. It seems to us that much trouble might be avoided by his going at once to the Regent, as soon as he arrives in Scotland, telling him he has brought the ratification, and showing him a copy of it in order that the Regent may convince himself that it is satisfactory, though without handing over the original. This he might keep until Ave have seen the Scots' ratification, and he hears we have had it handed over to us; and he had better not stir from Scotland until he receives your Majesty's letter telling him to do so. This and more your Majesty will see in the instructions, which you will be pleased to have examined and alter in any way that may be advisable. We implore you to take our suggestions in good part, for they are only intended to elucidate the affair. Strick shall be kept ready to go as soon as the ratification and your Majesty's orders arrive, which we beg may be soon, for the limit within which the treaty ought to be ratified soon expires; though we do not suppose the Scots will insist on exact punctuality.
The members of the Emperor's Council of State.
Brussels, 14 April, 1551.
Original. French.
April 14. Brussels, E.A. 490. The Bishop of Arras to Viglius de Zwichem. (fn. 2)
Dandino, who has been sent by the Pope on the affairs of the Council (of Trent), Parma and other matters, arrived here yesterday, and has left me no time to reply to yours of the 5th instant. But I hope to be able to do so this week, and to send the ratification for Scotland, drawn up in due form, to the State Council, to whose letters I will also reply if I can. In the meantime I wish to write you these two words to excuse and recall myself to your good memory, and I am sending back to you what you wrote to me about the persons who might be sent to the Council (of Trent); for the Emperor, after talking the matter over with the Queen, decided to entrust it to her care. I beg you therefore to see that a decision be arrived at soon, for as you know time is passing, the Pope is determined to hold to the day already named, Legate Crescenzio is already on the way, and Bishop Perchius is to leave in two or three days to assist him.
Augsburg, 14 April, 1551.
Signed. French.
April 16. Vienna, Imp. Arch. F. 30. Simon Renard to the Emperor.
Sire: I have had confirmation of the fact that the King has some great piece of business on hand, which he is treating in the place to which he has withdrawn himself, though I have heard no details, except that he is waiting for news of Sipières, that Baptiste (fn. 3) is in charge of five Germans who have spoken to the King during the last few days, and that since the arrival at Court of Admiral Annebault the question of sending secret help to the Irish has been discussed. Two Irish gentlemen here at Court have solicited the King's help for Ireland against the King of England. The King has heard that ten thousand men under the command of my Lord Cobham, Captain of Calais, are about to be sent to Ireland by the King of England; and it is asserted that the Irish trust to the King of France's promises, and that they have been provided already with new weapons, such as they have not had before.-
Amboise, 16 April, 1551.
Signed. Cipher. French.
April 18. Brussels, C.M. 163. The Emperor's Reply to the Bishop of Imola.
His Majesty has already received many proofs of the tender affection his Holiness bears him, a sentiment not undeserved by his Majesty's own attachment to that Pontiff, but he has been particularly touched by the words spoken to him by the Bishop of Imola. He keenly hopes circumstances may sometime permit him and his Holiness to meet and discuss at their ease the questions now pending; but in the meantime he is very glad his Holiness has chosen the Bishop of Imola, to impart to him his intentions, and place him in a position to treat affairs with full confidence. His Majesty has always had a very high opinion of this prelate's merit. (fn. 4) He knows what good reasons his Holiness has for reposing his trust in him, and supposes the same considerations induced his Holiness to send him on this mission, in spite of the fact that he will be sorely missed in Rome.
His Majesty values his Holiness' friendship and goodwill above all other things in this world, and believes he merits them by the sincerity of his filial love. He most humbly kisses his Holiness' feet, and thanks him for the saintly decision he has come to with regard to the Council. This decision could not be wiser, because for the reasons stated by his Holiness and others explained here to the Bishop, some mention of which was made in his Majesty's last letter, it would be unsuitable to delay the opening of the Council or to refrain from prolonging it beyond the limit formerly laid down.
As for Parma, his Holiness has already done so much for the Farnese in recognition of whatever obligations he may have had towards Pope Paul, and their ingratitude and insolence have risen so high, that the whole world knows what good cause he has to be indignant and to desire to punish his thankless, disobedient and rebellious vassal. As soon as his Majesty was informed of what had occurred, and of Octavio's insolence, his zeal and desire to enable his Holiness to obtain full satisfaction at once moved him to order Don Diego de Mendoza, his ambassador, to make the offer his Holiness knows of.
The tone of his Holiness' and the Bishop of Imola's conversations with Don Diego, and the tenor of recent letters dealing with the difficulties his Holiness foresees in punishing Octavio, move his Majesty to express his opinion on this occasion, although he has no doubt at all that his Holiness' prudence is great enough to enable him to deal with the situation. As the world is in the habit of judging the end of things according to their beginning, it would be well for his Holiness to inaugurate his Pontificate by showing that he is capable of severity in chastising one who has so gravely offended him. Such action is indeed necessary to repress the insolence of others and discourage them from behaving with similar effrontery.
Though his Majesty has not failed to realise all the difficulties pointed out by his Holiness, yet he considers his Holiness bound, by the words he spoke in resentment to the French ambassadors and in consistory, to do his utmost to succeed in this course. The contrivance put forward by the Cardinals de Tournon and of Ferrara to settle the matter amicably appear to his Majesty to be intended to waste time, bewilder his Holiness, cause delay while the harvest is being reaped and provisions laid in in Parma, so that the settlement may then be repudiated, some arrangement be made with France, or at least that Octavio may find himself in a more favourable position to treat and exact easy terms. Nevertheless his Majesty would not refrain from advising his Holiness to agree to it, for many reasons, if he should see any chance of winning over Octavio and using his prudence to such good effect as to induce him to leave Parma and go back to Camerino, which would be an excellent thing. It is even probable that as Octavio is only holding Parma he will not refuse in his present condition, because of the expenses he would have to meet if he meant to hold out there against his Holiness and the Emperor. What is really needed for the peace of Italy is the return of Parma to the Church; and his Majesty would be glad to see it accomplished, though he must here state that he means the rights and claims of the Empire to be reserved, merely in order that it may never, in the future, be advanced that the Empire has renounced those claims. The incalculable evil that attends war ought to induce his Holiness to regard any step in the direction of an agreement as advantageous. Once he has Octavio and his brothers at Camerino, he will be able to punish them, and crush them if they resist him; for the place is not strong, and its position (fn. 5) in the centre of Italy places it in the Pontiff's hand. Besides, it is too far from France to allow the King of that country to use it as a means for disturbing the quiet of Italy.
But if, after his Holiness has tried to bring about a peaceful solution, Octavio and his brothers still refuse to evacuate Parma and hand it over to the Church, his Majesty does not see how it would be possible to avoid using force, partly for the reasons above stated, and partly because all the difficulties would be redoubled if they were to succeed in revictualling Parma. And besides, the King of France's desire to make himself master of the place, and the expenses he has offered the Farnese to support, show that a conflagration would be lit in Italy. To sum up, his Majesty would insist on the advisability of attempting an arrangement, and pushing on the negotiations if they go well. If not, let it be closely looked to whether any good can come by prolonging them, and let the other side's intentions be tested, in order to know what other course ought to be followed. His Majesty will do his best to give wise advice; but as he suspects the Farnese will try to temporise in order to revictual Parma, he considers it most necessary to be quick and avoid all delay in pressing Octavio to a solution, so that he may realise his Holiness is in earnest.
It will also be necessary to take great pains to discover the Farnese's plans, and exactly how well Parma is provisioned, in order that his Majesty may be informed of these points as well as of the progress of the negotiations; for otherwise he would find it difficult to judge whether it would be better to proceed against Octavio at once, or to leave his punishment for a more favourable opportunity.
His Holiness must be vigilant in preventing Parma from being revictualled while the negotiations are in progress, and its inhabitants from getting in the harvest. And whatever terms are proposed, let his Holiness chiefly trust in keeping all prepared for action, and remain ready to strike at a moment's notice if the other side show they intend to do the same. His position will be rendered very favourable by such foresight; for the Farnese are not strong at present.
If it is decided to use force, his Majesty will set aside all private considerations and allow the claims of close friendship to move him to lend his Holiness the sum mentioned by the Pontiff to Don Diego de Mendoza, namely, 12,000 crowns, (fn. 6) and also to send the help already offered.
It also seems that it would be well for his Holiness to send at once to inform the King of France of his clement intentions, adopted out of consideration for the King, of refraining from the severity he has every right to use against a rebellious vassal, on condition Octavio will consent to hand over Parma to the Church, and thus avoid the trouble that might be caused in Italy by his further stay in that town. It would also be wise to exhort the King of France to break off the understanding he has with Octavio, for he has no reason to interfere between his Holiness and his feudatory. This step is necessary in order to justify his Holiness, and to show the whole world of how great a wrong the King would be guilty were he to persist in sowing trouble and jeopardising the authority of the Holy See.
His Majesty is further of opinion that his Holiness ought to urge the King of France to send his prelates to the Council, and point out to him how misplaced were the letters he wrote to the Bishops about this matter. An opening might be given the King to excuse himself, if his Holiness were to say he is convinced that the King could not have acted thus except under the influence of false information, remarking that the results might be exceedingly grave. This attitude will show that his Holiness is entirely in the right, and there will always be time to use force after efforts to prevent war have been proved of no avail. If the King of France remains deaf to reason, his Holiness will be able to proceed against him by the means at his disposal. His Majesty kisses his Holiness' feet for the friendship he has shown him and the Prince, his son, in the matter of the enfeoffment and investiture in case of deprivation. But neither this benefit nor any other can force his Majesty to disguise his conviction that his Holiness ought to do all in his power to avoid giving the impression that he has ever departed from the rules of moderation and temperance, and strive to make it manifest that he has left nothing untried that might persuade the King of France to adopt a gentler attitude, and that the Farnese have not remained rebels out of despair. If every peaceful overture is repulsed, and the desired settlement is seen to be impossible, there will still be time enough, as has already been said, to revert to harsher measures.
Copy. French.
April 20. Brussels, C.M. 163. The Emperor to Don Diego de Mendoza.
We have received all your letters down to that of the 10th instant. The best we can do is to send you a copy of the reply given to Dandino, together with an account of what happened at the audience we granted him. You will be careful to conduct this affair in conformity with the reply and what you know to be our desire; endeavour to do so without causing the Pope to change his present mind about leaving the decision to us, and if the path now being followed does not lead to the desired end, let his Holiness give us full information of the state of affairs, and the strength of Parma in munitions and provisions. It is our place to decide whether war shall be made or not, and if we have to move against the French, which cannot be avoided on account of Milan and the tranquillity of Italy if they insist on striking root in Parma, it will be well to disarm criticism and keep the Pope on our side by preventing him from giving any reason for his action other than his desire to punish his vassal. So you will grasp the importance of keeping his Holiness incensed against the King of France and Octavio by recalling to his mind the injuries they have done him, and not ceasing to blacken their conduct in order to feed his hatred., that we may use it when necessary.
If, while an arrangement is being negotiated, Octavio makes any difficulty about accepting Camerino and wants some further amends, you will do your utmost to make him drop that claim and rid us of the necessity of shouldering more burthens.
There has been talk of his Holiness offering some recompense to Balduino (fn. 7) in consideration of the fact that he will be deprived of the rule of Camerino, which he now enjoys; but if this point is raised again you are to know that it has no real foundation. No one can say that the Church is losing anything by an exchange in virtue of which she obtains Parma in place of Camerino. We prefer that Parma should be in her hands rather than in any of her feudatories', granted that we cannot have the place ourselves. (fn. 8) Octavio may well be satisfied with the exchange after committing so grave an offence.
We wish to inform you that the Bishop of Imola (i.e. Dandino) said something to the Bishop of Arras about the favour that ought to be shown to the Church in connexion with Piacenza. It was answered to him that we were unable to see how the Church had anything to complain of, as the place was being held in fief just as Octavio held his state, and the same tribute was being paid for it; and the Empire's possession and rights were also to be considered. His Holiness ought never to doubt that the affection we bore him and our desire to agree to everything that might conduce to his tranquillity would cause us to act in the wisest manner. If anything is said to you about it, you will speak in the same tone, as well about Parma as Piacenza, reserving the rights of the Empire. Especially where Parma is concerned, you will follow the line indicated in the reply to Dandino in order to prevent the real motive of this reservation from being suspected. When Dandino took his leave this afternoon he said he hoped means would be provided for supplying money in case the matter happened to render prompt aid necessary. The importance of preventing the revictualling of Parma induces us to tell you that, if you judge this aid to be required for the success of the undertaking, you are to meet his Holiness' wishes with a letter of exchange on the Spanish half-fruits for 50,000 crowns. His Holiness will be able to manage with this sum and prepare for action until we have thoroughly examined the question and come to a definite decision. And let his Holiness be unsparing of information.
As for what his Holiness said to you about our going to Trent, we would much like to be there with him, but as we said to Dandino we fear it would be unwise for us to proceed thither at present, and that for many reasons. We do not want to send up prices at Trent and crowd the place; and were we to go there the French would suspect and assert that our object was to sway the Council's decisions, thus insinuating that the Council was not free. Even without considering the Diet and the need our states are in of our presence, this journey would bring us no honour. If we remain nearer France we shall be able to thwart the designs formed in that country, and many other considerations unite to induce us to return to the Low Countries. Nonetheless, we shall await here the upshot of the events now stirring and his Holiness' reply to this despatch. It will be well to send it off promptly, for time will be required for preparations for the Parma enterprise. Were it necessary, we might send our final decision to his Holiness on receiving the answer. As the reply to Dandino will tell you, you will warn his Holiness to arrange matters in such a way that he may hurry or delay according to the demands of the situation.
French. Copy of the XVIII century. The original of this letter has been searched for in vain at Vienna, Simancas, Brussels and Besancon. Printed by Lanz, Correspondenz des Kaisers Karl V, Vol. III, but incorrectly dated 1552.


  • 1. Laurens Longin, Treasurer-General in the Low Countries.
  • 2. With M. de Saint Mauris, President of the Emperor's Council of State.
  • 3. Perhaps this person is the German captain referred to in the preceding volume as Baptiste Ferante.
  • 4. “Dandino (Bishop of Imola), Sire, is a pernicious individual in whom the French put their trust at present, hoping that he may encourage the Pope in good-will towards them; and he was consequently well received here.” St. Mauris to the Emperor, 1 August, 1548. (Spanish Papers, vol. ix, p. 571.)
  • 5. Camerino lies in the modern province of Macerata, on the road between that town and Foligno.
  • 6. The sum is mentioned by the Bishop of Arras in his letter of April 21st to the Queen Dowager of Hungary as 200,000 crowns. This amount is far more likely.
  • 7. Balduino del Monte, a relative of the Pope, who was then Governor of Camerino.
  • 8. The Emperor's attitude had altered since Paul III.'s pontificate. See vol. ix, pp. 353–355.