Spain: April 1551, 21-30

Pages 278-286

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, 21–30

April 21. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 19. Advices sent by Jehan Scheyfve.
A rumour has recently been going the rounds here, to the effect that in the last year or two, 40,000 or 50,000 foreigners have come to England, and that most of them are living in London, which has caused the high prices of food and lodgings. Evilly disposed persons have taken advantage of this to assert that prices would not go down unless all these foreigners were slaughtered; and the people have rather welcomed the idea. The source of this rumour is the German Church, where 1,000 and more persons have been seen together at one time, and the enrollment of foreigners carried out here some time ago also contributed, though in truth their number hardly exceeds 4,000 or 5,000 heads in all. Though at first the English themselves, especially people of quality, paid little attention, they have since realised that the matter is of consequence, not only touching foreigners, but also English merchants and rich burgesses, not forgetting the Council, who would not escape, especially my Lord of Warwick and Mr. (Sir John) York, master of the Irish mint (sic), the two men most bitterly hated by the people. For this reason they are keeping vigilant watch in London, and everyone is sore perplexed. The King and Council are raising armed bands, and hunting in all quarters for horses, armour and ammunition, so that it seems the bands will soon be ready to the number of 700 or 800 horse. The Council have also commanded several lords and gentlemen to keep up a number of horse and have them ready at a minute's notice; and it is believed that there will be 1,500 or 2,000 in all, besides which certain private individuals will have to keep up a number of retainers to serve as foot-soldiers, and outfit them as rapidly and secretly as possible: some ten, some twenty, forty or fifty, according to each gentleman's station.
Five or six nights ago a gathering of ruffians and serving-men was discovered in London, whose object was to excite the people to revolt. Some of them have been caught. At the same time, some peasants at different places thirty or forty miles away from London had formed a project to get together a force of 10,000 or 12,000, finish off all the gentry of the neighbourhood, and march to London to the assistance of the people of that city. Their plans were given away by one of their ring-leaders, so that three or four of them, artisans and mechanics, have been arrested and sent up to London, there to be cross-examined and made an example of. Several vagabonds, and even some captains and disbanded soldiers who had served at Boulogne, have been seized lest they join the rabble. It is to be feared that these disorders may provoke others, for there are plenty of folk ready to rise. Though it is early yet in the season, the poverty and want in which they find themselves may drive them to outrages, for they are saying openly that they can abide privation no longer, and had rather die than live in such plight. They are certainly, all of them, very bitter against the Government of the realm, which causes one to fear that things may take an ugly turn. God forbid it! The Council are afraid that my Lords of Derby and Shrewsbury, who are powerful and popular, not only with the people, but secretly with many prominent personages, may eventually intervene, especially as it appears to be true that the Council have openly tried to have these lords surprised and arrested. Being unable to achieve their purpose, they have lately requested them, in the King's and Council's name, to come to Court on some business concerning the welfare of the realm. The two lords, knowing how their journey to Court would end, excused themselves on the ground that times were suspicious and they thought it better for the King their master's service that they should not move from their lands as yet. If the Council, they added, were governing the kingdom well, they were very glad to hear it, and if not, they would not say what might not hereafter come to pass. It is believed that these two lords, without any of their allies, would be able to raise 50,000 or 60,000 men, ready for service, and the best in the kingdom. Some whisper that my Lord of Warwick harbours some suspicion of the Duke of Somerset's relations in that quarter, and is meditating revenge. They are sowing a report that 15,000 or 20,000 foreigners, Germans and others, are on their way to England from Flanders, France and Ostland, (fn. 1) and some say that a large number are already landed in the North and West. Still, the truth seems to be that none have come yet, and that the story was invented to frighten the peasants or perhaps circulated by the peasants themselves to stir up more discontent among the people.
M. de Lansac is not yet back from Scotland. Some are of opinion that he and Mr. Erskine are busy tracing the frontier between Scotland and England, though as far as we know the English have sent no commissioners for that purpose. Hence others maintain that something else is brewing, and that the above-mentioned gentlemen have gone to negotiate the cession of Scotland to England in exchange for the English possessions over the sea, and that they are trying to obtain the Scots' consent to the marriage of the King of England to the Queen of Scots. Nonetheless, the daughter of France is still mentioned, though many Englishmen would prefer the other. From what one is able to find out and hear, it seems that the English feel fairly sure of the French at present: though they are keeping very quiet and, above all, studying means of avoiding more unrest and hostility among the peasants. This would explain how it was that some time ago, two or three months before the peasant troubles began, the Council were raising troops; for they knew that if they were to let it out that a closer alliance was being contracted between France and England, and on what terms, the people would have something to say, and might not be best pleased, for, as they knew, there were plenty of other reasons to urge them to revolt.
There is good cause to believe that a lord of the Council let fall, in confidential speech with another gentleman, that the English might now feel quite sure of the French. Something of the greatest importance was being arranged, and he prayed God that it might succeed, for otherwise the ruin and destruction of England would ensue. Perhaps this event may be hampered by fear of the peasants. The gentlemen at Court are beginning to say that the King of France behaves towards the English in a very different manner from that adopted by the Emperor, for the King of France will not allow the religion of England to be decried or reproved in his country, as he has recently shown by the placards he has issued, whilst the contrary takes place in his Imperial Majesty's dominions. Many French gentlemen are arriving here day by day, and others are going to Scotland; in the same way many English gentlemen are setting out for France.
Some days ago, before the peasant uproar began, the English were greatly exercised about Parma, which they believed to have fallen into the hands of Frenchmen, who entered it from the Ferrara side. They say that Parma could hardly fall to the French unless they had secret intelligence with other princes and potentates, especially in Italy, and add that this event would not have happened without the Holy Father's secret approval. They are talking again about a certain great league which the French are said to be arranging, between several princes, against his Imperial Majesty.
Four days back certain English vessels, laden with cloth and other merchandise for Spain and the Whitsun fair at Antwerp, were arrested in London port, and their masters commanded not to move but to unload all their goods, for they were to be employed in the King of England's service. The merchants, English and subjects of his Imperial Majesty alike, are much astonished at this, especially because even when war was declared between France and England, some ships were allowed to put out in these merchants' employ. There are people who suspect that the same may be done with ships belonging to the Emperor's subjects, of which there are a great number here; and it is quite true that about 70 ships from Holland, laden with corn and grain, have arrived in different English ports. The English are saying that the object of this arrest is to provide a convoy for the wools that are now ready to be shipped to Calais; but this seems strange at a time when England is not at war, and trusts the French. There are, at present, some fifteen or twenty ships in the Thames, all well manned. It seems that some of them have been to sea and have returned, and it is believed that they will soon set sail again, though nobody knows in what direction. Some people say that they are to be sent north, to make another attempt to attack the Lords Derby and Shrewsbury; whilst others think the expedition has been ordered because of the Queen (Dowager) of Scots' return, and the Englishmen's imperfect confidence in the French. It is presumed in certain circles that this Scottish journey may be a pretext for some other undertaking, and that the Queen may come with a great escort of warships, which inspires the English with a secret fear of being invaded by the Queen's following, so they are mustering their forces by land and sea to prevent her from landing in any of their ports. If occasion served, the English and French might possibly combine and fall together upon Walcheren, Flanders or some other point, as we stated at more length in another letter. And though there are several reasons for not believing this, there are persons who suspect it, and say that a secret understanding already exists between the French and English. Some think that the Queen is going to pass through England; but this seems improbable at present.
They say that the Bishop of Norwich (Dr. Thirlby), formerly Bishop of Westminster and ambassador with the Emperor, is to go as ambassador to Scotland, or to have some important mission to that country.
We hear that the Earl of Warwick and Mr. York have done a great piece of business with the Fuggers' representative here, and that part of it concerns a ring worth 100,000 English crowns, adorned, among other stones, with a diamond, payment for which is to be spread over several instalments at long intervals. Mr. York recently bought several valuable stones in Flanders; it is believed they are to be given as presents. (fn. 2)
Dr. Brun, a pensioner of the King, who formerly resided at Strassburg, left for Germany three or four days ago. It is believed he will proceed to Lorraine through France, and that his mission is to encourage the Saxon towns to hold out against the Council (of Trent). Had not Prothonotary de Bredain fallen ill, he was to have accompanied him.
It is reported that the Council recently sent a certain spy, called Mr. Har (sic; i.e. Hare?), to Flanders. He is lame of one foot, thin and of middle height. Some persons wish us to believe that the French have a secret understanding with certain persons in Flanders, but we have been unable to discover in what place. This rumour comes from the Venetian secretary here resident.
Two or three days ago they began beating the drum in London and raising soldiers and infantrymen; but it is as yet uncertain how they are to be employed, unless they are to be sent against my Lords Derby and Shrewsbury, or made to serve on the men-of-war. It is believed that the 600 foot-soldiers that have been withdrawn from Calais and its surroundings have marched northwest towards my Lords of Derby and Shrewsbury's country, notwithstanding the report that they have gone to Ireland.
They say that Dr. Wotton is about to go, but nobody knows for certain when he will start.
Four or five days ago Dr. Cruysser (sic) (fn. 3), councillor and ambassador of the Duke of Cleves, as it is said, arrived here accompanied by one Otistegher (sic) son of the Duke's Chancellor. Cruysser has already been twice with the Council. Some say it is about the Lady (Anne) of Cleves, of whom the English are said to be anxious to be rid, and it seems the lady herself would be well enough pleased, if she could keep her pension. Others say that the Doctor has other business; but as yet we know not what it may be.
On April 19th the Council sent their clerk or secretary Sellinger by the post towards the North Country. They say that he is to admonish Lords Derby and Shrewsbury, and request them once more to come to Court, in order to take away all hope from the peasants. In the meantime they may perhaps endeavour to treat.
Cipher. French.
April 21. Vienna, Imp. Arch. B. 77. The Bishop of Arras to the Queen Dowager.
I have not hastened to reply to your Majesty's letters written at Cannstadt, thinking it better not to molest you with missives while you were enduring the fatigues of the road. We were also hoping to hear from your Majesty something about the Magdeburg matter, and the Emperor said two or three times that he did not expect to receive any letter from you before your arrival in Luxemburg, as your journey would not permit you to write earlier. For our part we have been negotiating continually these last ten days with Dandino, Bishop of Imola, whom his Holiness sent hither to discuss the continuation of the Council of Trent and the Parma affair, demanding his Majesty's advice and aid on the latter point. I have had to make several speeches in Spanish on war and peace, according to the news daily couriers brought from Rome. His Holiness seems keen one day, and discouraged the next. He ponders over the Turk's invasion, the dearness of living in Italy, the King of France's understanding with Octavio in Parma, the Council and his own lack of money. He has found the Holy See destroyed by his predecessor, and is caught between his desire to punish his vassal for his credit's sake at the outset of his pontificate and his dread of dangerous consequences; so he is as puzzled as any new dean. He is asking for a loan of 200,000 crowns from his Majesty, over and above what was to be given to him, in case it were decided to use force against Parma, to prevent the harvest from being gathered in. After having weighed all considerations, and taking into account the tidings come from Rome since Dandino's arrival, his Majesty has given a reply which I believe will be satisfactory; and Dandino went off with it this morning, apparently much pleased. I will soon send your Majesty a copy, and also one of part of a letter to his Majesty's ambassador, Don Diego de Mendoza, by which a reply has been made to the Pope's desire that the Emperor should come to Trent, in which case his Holiness offered to go too, and consult about reconciling the Germans. As means, his Holiness offered to permit the Germans to communicate in both kinds; as if that were the only trouble. As your Majesty will see if it please you, the suggestion has been declined as impracticable.
Augsburg, 21 April, 1550.
Holograph. French.
April 25. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 1. Edward VI to the Emperor.
We are desirous, and firmly resolved, to do all that can assist and favour the continuation of the good and ancient alliance, friendship, confederation and intelligence long established and nourished between us and our ancestors. We desire also most earnestly to find means whereby our goodwill in this matter shall be made clearer and more apparent to you; and we are therefore sending to you our faithful and well-beloved Councillor Dr. Nicholas Wotton, a member of our Council of State, Dean of Canterbury and York, to visit you on our behalf and make certain communications to you from us. We pray you lovingly to grant him a favourable reception and give him credence in all things as you would to ourself.
Greenwich, 25 April, 1551.
Signed. French.
April 26. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 19. Jehan Scheyfve to the Emperor.
Sire: Since my last letters to your Majesty of the 6th of this month, I have sent my man secretly to the Lady Mary, Princess of England, in obedience to the letters your Majesty was pleased to write to me on the 17th of last month. I caused the Princess to be informed that your Majesty had once more instructed me to lend her all the assistance in my power to prevail upon the King and Council to allow her to remain in the observance of the old religion, in accordance with the promise made to your Majesty and to her. Even before receiving my penultimate letters, your Majesty, moved by your desire that she should continue in the old religion, had spoken to the English ambassador resident with you to the end that the said promise might be meticulously observed, as I had already declared to the Princess when she was in London. When your Majesty had heard of the reply given by the Council, and had been informed of the language used to her when she last visited the King her brother, you would see to doing still more, as should seem most fitting. For her part, she must do her duty and continue to reply with moderation to the King and Council, and not argue and contend so much for the possession of great liberty in the use of ceremonies of the old religion, lest she should entirely alienate the Council, and drive them to withdraw all permission whatsoever. The Council asserted, and raised this objection, that many of her neighbours came to her, especially on holidays, to hear mass, in direct breach of the ordinances of the realm, to which practice they put down some blame for the rebellion that broke out two years ago in that part of the country. Wherefore in order to dispell all cause for sinister suspicions from the Council's minds, it seemed best to your Majesty that, if they would meet her so far as to consent that the Princess should hear mass with her doors locked, and no strangers admitted, she should make no great difficulty about it, for she might rest assured that her conscience need not be in the least burdened. And if they should be so wretched and insensate as to take the mass away from her altogether, she would also have to submit, as to something she could in no wise help. But if they wished to force her to embrace the new religion, or to commit some enormity such as communicating in both kinds, or anything of the sort, she was to conduct herself as your Majesty had already signified to her. Your Majesty had entire confidence in her virtues, believing she would remain constant to the end, and in no wise allow herself to be led away from the old religion. The Princess replied that she could never render thanks enough to God for His benign mercy in so inspiring your Majesty, to whom, as time went on, she felt herself more and more bound. As long as God should give her life, she would remain your humble servant, and would pray for the success of your holy projects, for in you, after God, she put her chief hope and trust. She was certain that, had the Council only had to deal with her, they would long ago have deprived her of the mass and the old religion, and attempted to force her into the new, which no mortal consideration could ever make her adopt, for she would rather suffer a thousand cruel torments than abandon the old faith. And this she hoped, with God's aid, that your Majesty would firmly believe. If the King or his Council began to speak of her case again, she would not fail to reply in all moderation, though always insisting that the promise was general. Should the Council request her again to close her door to strangers, she would certainly behave herself according to your Majesty's advice. She would be sorely grieved to think any rebellion might be caused in this realm by her; she had had nothing whatever to do with the last one, though the Council wished to impute some share of the blame to her, knowing all the while the opposite to be true, for she prayed God that no one might give more cause for rebellion than she. She desired once more to thank your Majesty most humbly for your past and present affection, quite undeserved by herself; but she hoped that, as she could do little, God the rewarder of all virtue would recompense you. For her part, she would continually pray the Creator to crown your Majesty's very holy desires.
London, 26 April, 1551.
Signed. Cipher. French.
April 28. Vienna, Imp. Arch. F. 30. Simon Renard to the Emperor.
Sire: I have heard by letters from Paris that Paget (fn. 4) is a prisoner in the Tower of London, and that his life is in danger; and that a great personage in England has rebelled against the governors and councillors of the King. If I have retained it correctly, his name is Somerset. The letters affirm that England is in a very divided and factious condition, and that two or three couriers have been despatched thither by your Majesty during the last month.
Robert (fn. 5) Strozzi is to go to England soon, but I cannot discover why or for what purpose.
It is said that the King of France will give no help to the Irish, so as not to interfere with the proposal for the marriage which he is hoping for, and so as not to anger the English.-
Amboise, 28 April, 1551.
Signed. Cipher. French.
April —. Simancas, E. 646. The Emperor to Fernando Gonzaga.
We have heard that, for some time past, due respect and reverence have not been shown, in that state (Milan), towards the Christian faith and religion. It is said that during last Lent, a friar from Brescia spoke at length from the pulpit against the Church, confession, and the Pontiff's person, and that, when the Inquisitor wished to proceed to arrest him, in accordance with his duty and his Holiness' express orders, there was no lack of people to encourage and help this friar, going so far as to get him out of the State. Besides, it is said that in Cremona, Casalmaggiore and other parts of the State, these errors are making such headway that, unless they are seen to at once, they will presently give far greater trouble. In order to avoid the far-reaching evil that would certainly arise from them, these weeds must be uprooted, for God's service, in which we know you to be zealous, demands it. We therefore command you to consult with the Chancellor and President, with all possible diligence and care, as to the best means of checking this growth and destroying its roots. Let the delinquents be punished, and do your best to inspirit the Inquisitor. They tell us that, as he has no fixed salary, nor other aid nor maintenance, he has received the fruits of such confiscations as have been made up to the present; but it would be well to consider whether he, his officers and attendants, had not better have fixed pay, and allow the confiscations to go to the Chamber. In this case you would of course devise how the salaries should be provided, and how much they ought to come to, remembering that they must be sufficient to enable the officers to extirpate these errors that are swarming so thick, before they assume proportions that might render them difficult to cope with were time allowed to pass. You will let us have a detailed account of such measures as you decide to adopt; for the matter is of the utmost importance, and as much harm might be done by ignoring it, as good by planning the best and promptest remedy, while using all due prudence and discretion.
Copy or duplicate. Spanish.


  • 1. i.e. the sea-board districts of Northern Germany.
  • 2. An entry in Edward's Journal for April 25th mentions a loan from Fugger of 60,000l. sterling, and the purchase, for 100,000 crowns, “of a very fair juel of his, fower rubies marvelous bige, one orient and great diamount, and one great pearle.”
  • 3. This must be the same person as Dr. Hermann Crœser, or Cruser, who is mentioned in the Calendar, Spanish, vol. ix, and Foreign, vol. i.
  • 4. This was quite untrue at the time; the pretended plot of Somerset was delated by Sir Thomas Palmer on October 7th, 1551. Richard Whalley's scheme for making trouble in Somerset's interests at the next session of Parliament had come out in February, however, and Somerset was so mistrustful of Warwick's intentions that it is said he contemplated a flight to the north. Plot and counterplot were in the air; and the councillors were feasting together in public to show their cordial unanimity.
  • 5. This must be a mistake for Peter.