Spain: August 1551

Pages 341-348

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

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August 1551

Aug. 5. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 19. Jehan Scheyfve to the Emperor.
Sire; On the first day of this month Secretary Armiger came to see me, and, by the Council's express orders, told me of the marriage (arranged) between the King, their master, and the daughter of France. He added that the marriage had been negotiated without any prejudice to the treaties and friendly relations existing between your Majesty and the King of England, and the countries and subjects of the same; for the King was minded to observe and continue the treaties in all respects.
I replied that your Majesty, in your singular affection for the King and your desire for his country's welfare, would be very happy to hear of this excellent match. I had no doubt, I added, that the King and his Council had remembered the said treaties and ancient alliance; and I wished to assure him that your Majesty would always continue to correspond in this whole and perfect friendship, as you had done in the past. And as the secretary had given me a very bare account of the marriage treaty, I tried to find out more details, using some of the common rumours as bait; but I was unable to get anything out of him.
I have done my best, Sire, to obtain these details; but they are being kept so dark that it is impossible to learn anything about them. However, I have it from a good source that one of the treaty's provisions is that the marriage is to be solemnised at the expiration of six years, and in the meantime the English are to settle religious matters, returning to the late King's settlement at the very least. It is said that the dowry is fixed at 200,000 crowns, and some say the English demanded 1,200,000 crowns to start with. It is also said that new commissioners are soon to be appointed on both sides to confirm the treaty, which will then be published.
As for the treaty of closer alliance, it is being kept still more secret. However, some say it is both offensive and defensive, others that it is only defensive. I hear, from someone likely to know, that certain English gentlemen have said in secret: “See how the world is changed, for now we must assist the King of France with 2,000 men!” When the French Marshal (fn. 1) was here, he declared to an important personage that there was a very close understanding between England and France, so close that it could not be more so, but it must be kept secret. Some of the English Council have let fall words to the same effect. The Marshal and other French lords left England at the end of July.
The King of England is still at Hampton Court, where he is surrounded by seven or eight gentlemen of his chamber only. He remains almost in hiding, and the French lords saw little of him. The reason seems to be the shock and surprise he received at the news of the Duke of Suffolk's death; for the King loved him dearly.
This sweating, or hot sickness has now ceased in London,—God be praised!—and in the neighbourhood; but it is still prevalent in Cornwall and other parts of the kingdom.
May it please your Majesty to let me know whether I am to congratulate the King. I have been unable to discover how the Venetian ambassador is going to behave.
Old Ford, 5 August, 1551.
Signed. French. Cipher.
1551. Aug. 7. Brussels, R.A. Prov. 13. The Queen Dowager to Jehan Scheyfve.
We lately received your letters of the 28th of last month, in which among other things you wrote that there was talk in England of a marriage between the King and the daughter of France. As you speak of the matter as uncertain, we thought well to inform you that the English ambassadors who were recently in France told our ambassador resident in that country, on behalf of the Council of England, that they had negotiated the marriage. (fn. 2) They said that as their errand might be variously interpreted they wished to assure him that they bad concluded nothing to the prejudice of the ancient friendship binding them to the Low Countries, which their master desired to observe in full, but had only negotiated the marriage. It is most important to discover whether they have really come to any agreement discrepant with their confederation and amity with his Majesty, and we ask and command you to inquire dexterously into this point and gather all the information you can about it, especially as to what Marshal de St. Andre may have negotiated in England, and report at once.
We are sending you herewith a writing from which you will learn some of the plans of the Turkish fleet, and you may communicate it to the King and Council.
Brussels, 7 August, 1551.
French. Minute.
Aug. 14. Vienna, Imp. Arch. F. 30. Simon Renard to the Emperor.
Sire: The King of France became so wroth on receiving letters written to him by the Pope in which he was not styled “Most Christian King” nor “Dear Son,” nor given the apostolic greeting and benediction, but cited to appear before the tribunal of God to answer for his protection of Parma, that he incontinently commanded an order to be published forbidding all and sundry to repair to Rome to receive their benefices from the Pope. The applications were to be sent to the consistory; and annates and compositions, together with other (Church) dues, to be paid over into the hands of a commissioner specially appointed by the King to receive them and account for them to whom and when he should command. On the consistory's refusal to act, the King has nominated the Cardinal de Bourbon to hold the said benefices provisionally with the style of patriarch. Several bishops and prothonotaries are busy establishing the various offices (under him) and defining the province of each. The King has resolved to use the Pope's own possessions to fight and ruin him. He summoned several French prelates and bishops, to whom he communicated his intention that they should meet together and stand for the Gallican Church. The patriarch would be established already were it not that the Parliament of Paris put certain difficulties in the way of his creation. The Cardinal of Lorraine curbed his ambition, apprehending the equivocal and hazardous position he might eventually have found himself in had he accepted the patriarchate, and considering that the Council was summoned, mutations about to be introduced in religious matters, the Turk again on the point of attacking Christendom, and that there seemed to be no really sufficient reason for its (the patriarchate's) creation. Chancellor Olivier, who was sent for specially on receipt of the letters, is credited with the plan. He is supposed to have advised the King to follow it on hearing his firm resolve to make war and his designs against the Pope. It is certain that the King has sent an army to Piedmont and Italy for the relief of Parma and La Mirandola; that he will follow in person by the same road, and that his lansquenets passed between Brescia and Verona, and then through the Ferrarese. The Venetians did not expect this, and found it strange; but they permitted the forces to pass when Captain Nicolas arrived to inform them that he was specially sent by M. de Thermes to say that both Parma and La Mirandola would be in danger unless they were succoured-
Melun, 14 August, 1551.
Signed. French. Cipher.
Aug. 23. Vienna, Imp. Arch. F. 30. Simon Renard to the Emperor.
Sire: . . I have been warned that the King is doing his utmost to induce the King of England to cross to France on the pretext of visiting him, and afterwards detain him in the country long enough to make the future safe, inspire him with a devotion for France, induce him to change his religion and teach him French: all of which he will find it difficult to bring about to the satisfaction of the people and governors of England. The warning came to me through credible informants, who had reason to know. It is certain that the English are being persuaded that they stand in need of a protector who will keep the King on his throne, as the Princess of England has a strong one too (meaning your Majesty)—who holds that the kingdom should belong to her, and not to him whom they call their King. Boisdauphin's negotiation concerns this matter, as I am told.
The French who have been across the sea to England report that the country is poor and miserable, stricken with violent diseases and torn by dissension. The chief governors of England are all corrupted by the King of France's money- A form of inquisition or edict has been published in France against persons tainted with heresy, to discover if there are any (heretical) preachers. The King's judges are entrusted with its execution, and its object is to get money and confiscate property. The form of the edict is temporary; but both the real cause of it and the tyranny it will bring about have been made manifest, as it has already been applied against the Bishop of Angers. For having allowed an Augustinian monk who was accused of heresy to preach, his bishopric and his revenues have been taken from him. The edict will cause rebellion and tumult- The King has written letters to the Pope declaring his intentions. They are very strange indeed; and he assures his Holiness that his greatest regret is to have caused the election of a pope so incompetent, unworthy and pernicious. . . .
Melun, 23 August, 1551.
Signed. French. Cipher.
Aug. 24. Brussels, L.A. 53. Jehan Duboys to the Queen Dowager.
Madam: Yesterday news arrived here that eight great warships and two small frigates had sailed a week ago from Le Havre and Dieppe; and yesterday evening a Dartmouth man called William, just arrived from France, told me that the said ships sailed last Thursday evening and Friday morning week, and that immediately afterwards the French arrested the Emperor's subjects' ships and goods, and his as well, saying that war had broken out. The same man and others say the French are boasting that they are going to seize all the fishing boats now at sea. According to this William, the captain of Le Havre offered him six crowns a month to enter his service. He replied he would accept unless it were to be against the Emperor, upon which the captain threatened him, saying he would force him to serve, and had him guarded, but William managed to escape, and found his way to the Low Countries by stealing through the woods. He says the warships are fine vessels and well-equipped, especially with artillery; the smallest of them is of 400 tons, and the admiral's ship has eighty gentlemen on board, though the rest are mostly manned by pressed crews who are unlikely to do good service. It is said the Frenchmen have bragged that they are going to meet twenty ships at sea that will join them; and though it is hard to believe that they mean English ships, there are people here who assert the English have had several all ready to sail for some time past. Others say there are fifteen armed ships lying in ballast at Hamburg, and only waiting for men. Your Majesty will be informed of all this, but here we are all in consternation at the news received during the last two days, for our best ships and men are most of them away. . . .
(The Spanish and Portuguese merchants are asking to be exempted from the general order that no vessel shall leave port until further notice; but they are detained, especially as there is some doubt as to the ownership of their cargoes. Notice is being sent to the fishing-fleet, to be on its guard.)
I hear, Madam, that Mr. Dansell, Court Master of the English in Antwerp, is secretly exporting large quantities of powder from the country. He has 200 or 300 tons in a tower in Antwerp called den huytvetters tooren, and is sending it over little by little. During the last three weeks he has on three separate occasions sent 40 tons to Amsterdam under borrowed names of which he makes use for the customs registers; and from Amsterdam he gets the powder passed through the Marsdiep, and so to England. The same man who gave me this information said that Dansell had been unable to obtain permission from your Majesty to export powder. Your Majesty will know whether this is true or not; and in order to discover his practices it might be well to begin by an examination of the customs-master's (thollenaire) book, or otherwise as your Majesty shall think fit. I have stayed here in accordance with your Majesty's verbal commands, and am awaiting your orders to return.
Veere, 24 August, 1551.
French. Holograph.
Aug. 25. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 19. Jehan Scheyfve to the Queen Dowager.
Madam: I have received your Majesty's letters of the 7th instant, in which you were pleased to inform me that the English ambassadors who have recently been in France declared to the Emperor's ambassador there resident that they had arranged a marriage between the King, their master, and the eldest daughter of France. They had said that, as many interpretations might be put upon this negotiation, they wished to assure his Majesty's ambassador that they had simply arranged a marriage, without going against their ancient friendship and confederation with the Low Countries. However, it was important to discover whether they had concluded anything to the prejudice of their relations with the Emperor, and your Majesty desired me to find out, with all dexterity, as much as possible touching Marshal de St. André's negotiation, and send the information to you.
I suppose, Madam, that you have already received my letters of the 5th instant, (fn. 3) from which you will have heard what little I have been able to fathom of that affair. I have done my very utmost, since then, to discover more particulars, but have learnt nothing beyond that the English and French become greater friends with each day that passes, and that it is believed so close a confederation exists that it could not be closer.
From what I hear, it seems that the Council are now making ready to give the Princess of England further annoyance, and take the mass away from her altogether. (fn. 4) I will inform your Majesty when I have obtained more details.
Duplicate. Cipher. French.
Aug. 25. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 19. Advices sent by Jehan Scheyfve.
The English ambassador and lords have returned from France with their suite. It seems that several of them are dissatisfied with their entertainment in France, and with the presents they received, which are not to be compared with those that were given here. (fn. 5)
A few days ago all the councillors were summoned to Court, and they held several secret meetings; but most of them have gone away now to stay until Michaelmas. It is said that they discussed several public questions, and particularly that of the currency, which they have debased still further, making the testoon worth six pence, whilst it was current at nine pence about two months ago. They have treated other coins in the same manner, to the great disgust of the commons, for living expenses are as high as they were before.
There is a rumour that the French and English intend to establish a uniform coinage in both countries. The Parliament that was to be held at Michaelmas has been put off until October 12th following.
They also say that the Duke of Norfolk and my Lord Courtenay, son of the late Marquis of Exeter, are soon to be set at liberty, the object of which would be to enable the Earl of Warwick to win hearts and surround himself with powerful friends. Some say that favour will be shown these lords as if at the King of France's request, and in honour of the marriage, in order that they and their partisans may be well-disposed towards the alliance.
It is believed that Lord Arundel is going to occupy his place in the Council again. Lords Derby and Shrewsbury have returned to their estates, and Derby is of the Council. They say that the Earl of Warwick is to become Duke of Clarence; the Marquis of Northampton, Duke of Suffolk; and that Herbert, Master of the Horse, is to have an earldom. These three men are ruling absolutely now.
Many people have been greatly exercised here about the arrest of English ships ordered in Flanders, and the prohibition, issued in the same country, to export provisions. Some say it is the result of the new alliance; and it seems that they really cared more about the provisions than they appeared to, for lack of them has been making itself felt for some little time. They say for certain that the Emperor's subjects' ships have again been arrested in France, that the goods have already been sold, and that war has been declared against his Majesty.
Quite 50,000 persons are said to have died of the sweating-sickness in England: most of them men of twenty to forty or fifty years. The English are concealing these facts as much as possible in order not to let it be known that the kingdom has been weakened, and that God has wished to punish it.
A few days ago two ships sailed from here for Barbary under the command of an Englishman called Mr. Wyndham, (fn. 6) who formerly practised piracy. One of the ships is well manned and armed, and the other has a cargo of merchandise, among which there are pikes and armour. Some say that the ships are still in Cornwall, and that Mr. Wyndham is dead.
They say that the King of France now has ten or twelve well-found men-of-war at sea; and it seems that the English are also beginning to put all their ships in order.
Cipher. French.
Aug. 27. Brussels, L.A. 47. Summary of certain letters addressed to the Admiral, M. Van Buren, and in his absence to me, Cornille Scepperus, concerning naval armaments in England.
M. Roeland de Pottere, pensioner of the nobles in Zeeland, writes from Veere on August 25th that a Flushing sailor named Adrien Wolfaerts arrived the same day at Veere saying he had left London in the evening of Thursday last, August 20th, and had seen six or seven medium-sized men-of-war lying ready to sail in the Thames at Greenwich, two of them quite new. Three leagues farther on, at Woolwich, he found fifteen or sixteen men-of-war and two or three hoys, also ready to put out to sea. The next morning he left the Thames, and ran across an English boat belonging to one Grayer, who told him he would meet with a French war-ship on his passage. However, he did not meet the French ship, and therefore knows not whether the Englishman did not say it to frighten him.
Dominicus Van der Nieuwenhove, bailiff of Veere, writes from that place on the 24th to the same effect, adding that the Flushing sailor told him he saw the ships riding at anchor, well-supplied with provisions and artillery, well-manned and ready to set sail.
To-day, August 27th, I have heard from the Chevaliers Thierry Van der Werve, burgomaster of Antwerp, and Cornille d'Espagne, and Master Jacques Maess, pensioner of the same place, that they were certain the English were arming by sea, and that the people of these countries feared it might be against them and to put a stop to trade and commerce if, as it was said, the English were going to join the French.
Brussels, 27 August, 1551.
French. Written and signed by Cornille Scepperus (d'Eecke).


  • 1. Marshal de St. André.
  • 2. On August 1st the Bishop of Arras wrote from Augsburg to the Queen Dowager (Brussels E.A. 125), that Wotton had made no sign when sounded about the marriage, but that the French ambassador had spoken plainly about it.
  • 3. Doubtless Scheyfve's letter to the Emperor of that date.
  • 4. The Council had decided, on August 9th, to “wink at sin” no longer. An instrument of their decision was signed and sealed by them on the same day. (Edward's Journal.)
  • 5. The English envoys had cause to be dissatisfied with their presents. Northampton received 500l., the Bishop of Ely, 200l., Hoby, 150l., “and the rest a mere scantling”; whilst St. André had 3,000l., de Gyé l,000l., Chenault, 1,000l., and Morvillers, Bordin and the Bishop of Périgueux 500l. each. The King of France afterwards gave Mason to understand that the man who had been entrusted with the presents for the English had filled his own pockets and was to be punished, but apparently nothing was done to make up the difference to Northampton and his colleagues.
  • 6. Thomas Wyndham had been summoned before the Council for piracy in 1545. He served in the war against Scotland (1547–1549) under Clinton. In January, 1562, he was again in trouble for piracy.