Spain: October 1551

Pages 376-391

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

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October 1551

Oct. 5. Brussels, EA. 125. The Queen Dowager to the Bishop of Arras.
I will refer you for news from these parts to what I wrote to his Imperial Majesty by a secretary, and from France to what the ambassador who was there will have written to you by my orders. To judge by what I hear from all quarters, there is small likelihood that the King of France will go to Italy this season, especially if Parma has been revictualled, as a rumour here says, and the French are boasting. Every one agrees that, if his Majesty leaves Germany, the Frenchmen's work there, or rather their mischief, will be seen. I hear they intend to do their worst against us next spring, attacking us at once in several places and gathering large forces together. All men are unanimous in believing that Duke Maurice is plotting in France with the Landgrave's sons and allies, and also with the cities and several poor princes whose states are near the Hanse towns. I also fear that Duke Maurice is making use of the rebels and of all his Majesty's enemies. Also, as you will have been informed, the French are counting on English friendship. One would not suppose that the English would put much trust in them, especially as they could not well have a stronger hand (fn. 1) for remaining at peace and allowing us two to wear ourselves out. Nonetheless, the English know how far from accord with us they are about religion, that they have deeply offended us and may yet do worse where our cousin is concerned. The messages his Majesty has sent them give them cause for uneasiness, so it is not unlikely that they may lend an ear to French persuasions. This is all the more probable, because the men at the head of affairs know they will be unable to render a good account of their government, and it is being bruited that they intend to avoid the danger that might menace them when the King arrives at riper years, as he is beginning to do already, by getting rid first of our cousin and then of the King himself. Stranger things have been seen in England, and done with less motive; and the upshot of it all is that I see we shall have many foes and few friends. I build many castles in Spain (sic) in connexion with these thoughts, and I will tell you of some of them in order that you may see which you think the best.
In consideration of the above facts and our position, I hope his Majesty will have decided to go to Spires rather than elsewhere, and, in order to be quite safe there, try to gain over the Elector Palatine by all means in his power. I also hope he will remember that the Elector is old, and arrange that he shall have a suitable successor; for we shall not be able to avoid danger unless we do all we can to make friends—though it is late to begin now—and make every preparation for next year, to conquer or be conquered, from which latter fate God preserve us! In the first place it would be well to think how Germany may be insured against revolts during his Majesty's absence, and whether, as Duke Maurice is suspect, he had not better be placed in command of some horse for next year with a liberal salary, or sent to serve with the King (of the Romans) against the Turk, as we shall have to defend ourselves on that side also. Thus we would place him under an obligation and would manage to get him out of Germany if he accepted the offer; whilst if he refused, it would clearly be for no good reason. Rather than risk his making trouble in his Majesty's absence, he might even be pitted against John Frederick (fn. 2) for the sake of keeping him occupied; for as far as trustworthiness goes, I believe one is as good as the other. And as for trusting them, if Duke Maurice is so thankless, after all the benefits he has received from his Majesty and giving us his word, as to break his faith and go over to the French, I think it would be less ill to trust the other and also go so far as to win over the Landgrave's eldest son and employ him in his Majesty's service, giving him to understand that both he and his father would be gainers, and that his father's imprisonment might thus be shortened. Were this to fail, we might try to win over Count William of Nassau, and his son, the Prince of Orange, together with other of the Landgrave's enemies, persuading them to invoke their rights, and, with the help of a good sum of money from his Majesty, make an attack on the Landgrave's land, which is not fortified and would keep both parties too busily occupied to make mischief elsewhere. The Duke of Württemberg might also be given something to do somewhere; and the more German princes can be removed from Germany the better. His Majesty would do well to consider whether it would not be wise to re-admit Magdeburg and Bremen to his grace with such conditions as we may; for we have so many enemies that we must make concessions somewhere, and pacify some of our foes until our position becomes stronger, and if Magdeburg and Bremen could be reconciled, a great deal of French plotting, that is now going on through those cities, would cease. In order to make it difficult for the French to raise troops in Germany, as they are planning to do, it would be well for his Majesty to levy the troops he needs for this war with that end in view, which might be done by raising part of the horse and foot in the neighbourhood of Cleves, Cologne, Gelders and Limburg, and offering to accept the services of the Duke of Cleves with 2,000 horse or as many as he likes, as the young Count of Nieuenart has been accepted with 800. If the captains are approached in time, the levying of troops may be rendered very difficult for the French; and even if they succeed in getting some together we shall then be able to withstand them. The same might be done with equal advantage in the neighbourhood of Ferrette, (fn. 3) whilst M. d'Arenberg would keep watch on the German frontier and break up any gatherings that might take place there. These troops might be used both by sea and by land, part being sent to Italy and part kept here, taking it for granted that his Majesty will be attacking or defending in both countries at once, as he will probably be obliged to do.
As for England, I think we must find out what we are to look for from that country. In order to do this it would be necessary to have an intelligent ambassador there, such as Renard, who has just returned from France, or another who would do his utmost to keep up friendly relations there and at the same time find out how our merchantmen and warships are going to be treated, and how they are going to behave towards French shipping. It is quite certain that the possession of one port there, if we managed to seize one, would enable us to protect our shipping; but our vessels would be exposed to a thousand dangers if they had nowhere to run into in case of storm. We must therefore have a port in that country at our disposal, either by force or through friendship. Many people are of opinion that the kingdom of England would not be impossible to conquer, especially now that it is a prey to discord and poverty. It seems that there are three persons who might try their fortune, conquer the country, and marry our cousin if she is able to hold out with his Majesty's favour, under colour of taking the King out of the hands of his pernicious governors, as the late King's dying recommendation to his Majesty might be taken as an invitation to do. If they had already got rid of the King, we could intervene with the pretext of avenging him, or some other excuse easily to be devised. Of those who might be suited for this enterprise, the first is the Archduke Ferdinand; but in that case his Majesty would have to stand the expense, for little help would be forthcoming from the King (of the Romans). In the second place there is the Infante Don Luis of Portugal, who might look for assistance from his brother, the King, in a task so good as the restoration of an important kingdom to the fold of the Church, not to mention the chance of winning it for his brother. Third, comes the Duke of Holstein, who might undertake it with the hope of marrying our cousin, or if she were to fail us, one of our nieces, daughters of the King of the Romans. He might be assisted by his brother, the King of Denmark, for the Danes claim England, have often invaded it, and have actually held it for a number of years. And if we were able to win in England a fine, commodious port such as there are there, we might reinforce the invader with our fleet and also deprive the French of the use of English harbours, lacking which they are unable to keep up a dangerous fleet. It is very true that all this would call for money, and it would be hard to find enough. But this is a juncture at which we must use all our power and get together money by our subjects' assistance and all other means possible, using our credit for all it is worth in all quarters, inside the Empire and out. In any case it would be well to apply for the half-fruits of the Low Countries, and I pray you to take the necessary steps to obtain them. We had better proceed, obtaining all the money we can and making our plans accordingly.
It is to be hoped that Spain will do its best, seeing its King and Prince in such straits; and as this is its Prince's first war we may expect the greatest subjects in that country will be willing to take part in it. And it seems to me that it would animate our people if the father were in one quarter, and the son in another.
I am of opinion that his Majesty ought to employ the King's (of the Romans) sons and show he has confidence in them, though it is true he has not had much chance to do so as yet. Thus he might forestall machinations in the Empire, and let it be seen that he loves not his son only, but also his son-in-law. Nothing would be risked by doing so, and it is high time to begin if our plans are really to be carried out. If we defeat the French and the Prince gains renown, the Empire will be his Majesty's to command, and so will the Council; and there will not be a man in all Germany able to say him nay. In the meantime, however, plans for the future had better be kept silent in order to render the Germans more willing to assist his Majesty. If things go badly with us, I believe the Empire will be lost, and we in grave danger. In brief, everything hangs on the result of this war, which we must try to make short and successful; for we have too many enemies to be able to hold out long. So what we conceal or tolerate for the moment cannot harm us afterwards.
I see we must have recourse to extreme measures to escape out of this our present position; but I know not whether I have indicated the best road to be followed. I am writing you my fancies briefly and in confidence; not that you are to adopt them, but in order that you may choose anything you may consider worth while for your master's service. To develop in detail all the points here suggested would require much paper, and might be labour lost, for I am sure his Majesty will have considered all possibilies with greater acumen than mine. My zeal in his service sometimes makes me freer of my speech than my capacity warrants. But if his Majesty thought any one of the plans indicated worth following up, one would be able to work it out in detail.
While writing this despatch, I received your letters of the 19th of last month, and was overjoyed to hear that the settlement I have asked for was being arranged. The merchants were in despair at the delay, for they had offered their money without having it in hand. As it was his Majesty's fault, if he has suffered any inconvenience it may teach him a lesson. I have done what I could in the negotiation with my Lord of Cologne (i.e. the Archbishop?), but when all is said, though his words are sweet, deeds are not forthcoming. So I see no way out of it but to try our fortune, and I pray God to favour us, for He knows how righteous is our cause against the world, and that we will use success for His service and the defence of His holy faith.
Brussels, 5 October, 1551.
Besides what I wrote to his Majesty about the servants of the Queen (i.e. Eleanor, Queen Dowager of France), I have given information on the subject to Councillor Renard, as you will hear from him. The matter was too lengthy for me to write in detail, but I thought it my duty to have his Majesty apprised of it, so that he might come to a decision.
French. Copy. Printed by Lanz, Correspondenz des Kaisers Karl V, Vol. III.
Oct. 10. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 19. Jehan Scheyfve to the Emperor.
Sire: M. de Jarnac, (fn. 4) a French gentleman, arrived here the other day to announce to the King that the Queen of France had given birth to a son, and to invite him to stand sponsor at the infant's christening, to which the King consented gladly, deputing the Admiral to go abroad for the ceremony. At the same time Jarnac made presents to the King and certain of the Council. These gifts appear to be fairly rich, and to proceed from the prizes recently taken from your Majesty's subjects. This goes to prove that the French are neglecting nothing which may serve to confirm the new alliance and friendship.
I have heard that two English captains, one called Pelham and the other Stuchele (sic), (fn. 5) are secretly raising soldiers here, foreigners as well as Englishmen, most of whom appear to be Italians, to send them a few at a time over to France. The Italians themselves believe that the money for their pay is to come from England.
The commons and peasantry in various parts of the kingdom are once more inclined to rise, because of the everlasting instability and debasement of the coinage and the high prices of commodities. However, such great precautions have been taken against the possibility of an insurrection that the malcontents are unable to assemble and wreak their ill-will on the government. Still, it is to be feared that some mischief may come of it.
It appears to be certain that the Earl of Warwick is soon to be made a duke; but opinions vary as to what title he will take. Some say Clarence, others Lancaster or Buckingham, whilst others, again, believe the county of Northumberland will be made into a duchy, and that Warwick will be created its duke. It also seems that the Marquis of Dorset will be Duke of Suffolk; Lord St. John, Lord High Treasurer, Marquis of Winchester; and Herbert, Master of the Horse, Earl of Pembroke in Wales.
The Bishops of Winchester and Chichester (George Day), who have long been prisoners on account of (their devotion to) the old religion, have now been deprived of their bishoprics and condemned to prison for life, subject to the King's pleasure.
They say that the Queen (Dowager) of Scotland is soon to proceed to Scotland by way of England, and that her passport has already been issued; but it may well be that the French are causing this rumour to be circulated, though their plans are quite different. Some say the King of France is fitting out twenty more ships, which are to join Count Mansfeldt, who appears to be at Hamburg with six ships, ready to transport a number of soldiers under Courtpennick's (fn. 6) leadership to France.
London, 10 October, 1551.
Sire: Since writing the above I have heard from a trustworthy source that the Duke of Somerset is again going to be accused and arrested, and that the plot is being very secretly woven by the Earl of Warwick and his party. Moreover, Lord Paget has already been commanded to keep his house.
Signed. Cipher. French.
Oct. 11. Brussels, E.A. 490. Guillaume de Poitiers (fn. 7) to the Queen Dowager
Madam: To-day, 11th of this month,—to take up the thread where my last letters left it—the decree on the sacrament of the altar, and the articles I recently sent you, were pronounced in the form your Majesty will see by the documents I am now forwarding. The articles mentioning communion and reception of the sacrament in both kinds by laymen or priests who are not celebrating, as well as those touching the administering of the sacrament to little children, have been left aside at his Majesty's suggestion, to be resumed on January 25th, the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul; although the Fathers had come to a decision on them as well as on the other points. On January 25th is to be held the second session after this last one, with the hope that the Protestants may arrive here between now and then. They seem willing to do so, for they have demanded a safe-conduct from the Council and present assembly, and it has been granted them in precisely the terms in which they asked for it, so that they may have no excuse for not presenting themselves in this place, where they are absolutely essential to the successful accomplishment of this our task. The Marquis of Brandenburg has sent his men, and has promised to observe and keep whatever may be concluded and decreed here, and neither to violate its decisions himself nor to allow his subjects to do so. I am also sending your Majesty a duplicate of the Council's reply to the letters of the King of France and to the writing he caused his envoy to deposit with the Fathers. Another duplicate went with my last letters.
The articles pronounced at the session will show what was done in the direction of reform, touching the residence of bishops in their dioceses, and suppression of causes that might prove obstacles in the way of such reform. If there is anything wanted for the benefit of his Majesty's subjects of the Low Countries, it would be well to let me know about it as soon as possible. I wrote to this effect to President Viglius in my last letters to him; and when he has imparted to me your Majesty's wishes, I shall do my best to promote their object, here and everywhere else.
Trent, 11 October, 1551.
Holograph. French.
Oct. 11. Brussels, L.A. 55. Order in the Emperor's Council.
On the request of the Court Master and other English merchants, of which a copy is joined to this, it has been apostilled that the petitioners must conduct themselves according to the law of the land, and as they have done during former wars. This decision is in nowise a breach of the Commercial Convention, as the ambassador resident in England had better be informed. He shall further be told that whenever, in the past, communications have been held between commissioners on both sides, it has always been maintained that this attitude is consistent with the tenor of the Convention. Although the article invoked by the English does state that the fact that one country is at war (i.e. with a third country) shall not bring about a cessation of trade between the contracting parties, it does not state that goods purchased in one country may be transported to that country's enemies. Such certainly does not seem to have been the intention of the princes who contracted the Convention; and indeed it would be absurd and prejudicial to the welfare of both. The same attitude was adopted by the English towards subjects of the Emperor during their last war with France, and the English then interpreted the Convention as we do now.
For further corroboration it will be remembered that in the year '44 the late King of England refused to allow such of the Emperor's subjects as had obtained safe-conducts to export goods from France and had entered English ports, to unload them there, sell or distribute them; and in this sense the said King issued letters patent.
French. Minute in Viglius' hand.
Oct. 14. Brussels, L.A. 47. The Queen Dowager to Jehan Scheyfve.
The object of this letter is to inform you that before our last departure from Augsburg, my Lord the Emperor commanded us to write and order you to take the first opportunity to visit our cousin, the Lady Mary. (fn. 8) Go yourself if you can do so without causing too bad an impression over there; if not, send some faithful servant whom you can trust, and you or your envoy shall make the following declarations to our cousin. His Imperial Majesty has heard of her fear that she may be pressed to adopt the new religion during next Parliament, and summoned to appear before the King and voice her sentiments, after which she may be compelled to obey Parliament. His Majesty has given the Lady Mary's position mature consideration, has discussed it with us, and now commands you to visit her and say that if the King of England summons her so pressingly that her gracious excuses fail to explain further refusal on her part without seeming to imply disrespect or lack of obedience towards the King, she had better go in such a way as to appear to go of her own free will, especially as she might subsequently be obliged to do so by force.
If the King or his ministers proceed to take the mass away from her, she will be obliged to put up with it. She has no means to resist and would be a victim of force, so that she would be blameless in God's sight as long as she kept her devotion to the mass, which his Majesty is persuaded they will never make her lose, believing as he does that all their violence and might will be powerless to move her. Were they to attempt to make her consent to erroneous practices, communicate in both kinds or do any other thing by which she should by her own act break the laws of the old religion, it would be better for her to die than to submit. As far as it shall be possible without arousing suspicions, let her inform us through you or otherwise of occurrences, being very careful as to whom she trusts. Further, you may assure her that his Imperial Majesty will do all in his power to help her with the King and Council, making sure at the same time to avoid any step that might do her more harm than good. Let her continue to answer the King and Council with forbearance, selecting expressions likely to move them to respect her as a King's sister, and begging them to leave her as her father left her at his death, at least until her brother have attained a riper age, when she hopes he will treat her as his humble and obedient sister, and not force her to do violence to her conscience. You will conclude by telling our cousin that her reply to the question as to what understanding she might have with you was to the point; and she will do well to answer further questions in similar terms.
For the rest, if you become aware that they (i.e. the King and Council) intend to force our cousin to act in a manner contrary to the dictates of the faith, we request and by his Imperial Majesty's express orders command you to intervene in your capacity as his ambassador, and utter the same remonstrances as those formerly addressed to them by your late predecessor, Van der Delft, in accordance with his Majesty's instructions, expressed in letters of which we suppose you possess duplicates. You will do so with all possible gentleness and moderation, neglecting nothing you can think of that is calculated to protect our cousin from interference or violence, and make it clear that you are acting in his Majesty's name and by his orders. We are confident that you will behave with all dexterity and prudence; and you will inform us from time to time of what happens and the attitude adopted towards our cousin.
Brussels, 14 October, 1551.
Minute. French.
Oct. 18. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 19. Jehan Scheyfve to the Emperor.
Sire: Yesterday the Council sent me their secretary, Armiger, to request me to come to them the same day at three of the afternoon on a matter they would expose to me when we met. Seeing the secretary with a perplexed and amazed countenance, I tried to discover from him why the Council had summoned me in so pressing a manner. He told me that the reason was of the greatest importance, for the Duke of Somerset had been arrested the night before and thrown into the Tower. When I asked him why this had been done, he told me he knew no details, but could assure me that Somerset had committed a very grave offence, adding that he believed the Council had called me in order to inform me of the matter. I told him I would not fail to be there. When I arrived, Secretary Cecil acted as spokesman and gave me the following account of the occurrence that had moved the Council to send for me. One of the foremost and most distinguished of their body, the Duke of Somerset, had laid aside all fear of God, all reverence and duty towards his Sovereign and natural Lord, and plotted to seize the Tower of London, and consequently the royal treasury and military stores there kept, in order to subdue the town. Moreover, he had endeavoured to have several other castles and forts, particularly in the North Country, surprised and occupied by his accomplices, and also to rouse the commons and peasantry to revolt, thus jeopardising the King's person and his country's welfare without the slightest excuse or reason. Not content with this, he had turned his back on all honour and humanity and conceived a plan to invite his colleagues of the Council to a banquet to have them struck down and murdered by hired assassins; which seemed to them a very horrible action, and calculated to give a very evil example. The Council, warned of their danger, had been able to arrest the Duke and some of his party without any scandal or disturbance. They had wished to inform me of it, in order that I should know exactly what had happened, and report it to your Majesty if I thought fit, as they, for their part, had already done.
When I had listened to all this, with gestures indicative of great surprise, I said I was sure that your Majesty's singular affection for the King and his realm would cause you deeply to regret what had happened; for you had always desired England's prosperity, as you had amply proved in the past. For my part, the machination seemed so extraordinary to me that I could not understand what could have driven the Duke to it. At this the Earl of Warwick, recently created Duke of Northumberland, told me that he himself failed to imagine what it could have been; for the Duke had enjoyed the greatest reputation and authority with the Council, and had possessed a huge fortune of 30,000 to 40,000 angels (fn. 9) a year. With all due moderation, Sire, I replied that greed, cupidity and the lust of power often led men astray, causing disasters in republics and kingdoms. 30,000 angels a year, I added, were enough to live on; and even if the Duke had only enjoyed a fourth part of that sum, it was no reason for attempting such adventures. This answer pleased them greatly Sire, and the Duke of Northumberland went on to say that this evil plot had long been in preparation, and the Council had suspected it, but their great zeal for the repose of the realm had caused them to wink at it for the time until they should be able to learn more about it. Now that they saw the Duke about to put his wicked undertaking into execution, they could not do otherwise, in their solicitude for the good of the country, than adopt measures such as they had already taken. Though I gave them plenty of openings, they said no more, and refrained from making any mention of what proof there might be of the Duke's guilt, or who his accomplices were. As they had said hardly a word about the King's share in all this, I remarked that he must be deeply distressed; but they only replied that I might well think so, and it was only natural. So I ended by saying I would immediately report the matter to your Majesty.
The French ambassador had also been with the Council the same day before noon, and remained with the King the rest of the day. I hear that the King has become very thin and weak during the last season.
I have heard from another source that the Duke of Somerset and his accomplices had prepared to seize the Great Seal of England, and had made sure of it, with the object of sending out placards in all directions, one of which would have been to raise troops. For this reason there is some suspicion of the Lord Chancellor (Lord Rich); but he has not been arrested yet.
I have been informed that the Duke was taken secretly from his house to the Tower by water, by means of the persuasions of the Treasurer, now Marquis of Winchester; Herbert, Master of the Horse, and the new Duke of Suffolk. It is said to-day that Lord Paget has been ordered not to leave his house until further orders are issued; and it is feared he may eventually go the same way as the Duke. At the same time Lord Grey (de Wilton), formerly captain of the horse in Scotland, was also arrested yesterday, and with him the wives of the Duke and Lord Grey, Mr. (Sir Ralph) Fane, who was also a captain in Scotland, and two more of Somerset's gentlemen. They say that Captain Pelham is among the prisoners, and also another gentleman called Mr. (Sir) Thomas Arundell, who was released from the same Tower only a few days ago. Some also speak of my Lord Thomas (Howard), son of the Duke of Norfolk, and say that other arrests are going to be made.
It is reported, moreover, that my Lord Strange, the Earl of Derby's son, has also been made a prisoner, the same who was to have married the Duke of Somerset's daughter. His father, even, seems to have had something to do with it, as also the Earl of Shrewsbury; so that the Duke had the greatest nobles of the realm on his side. The result is great unrest in this town and the same is said to be the case in the country, so that notwithstanding all precautions taken by the Council serious trouble is still to be feared. Indeed the matter is kept alive by the hatred borne towards the Duke of Northumberland and his party by many lords, and, above all, by the commons, who are saying quite openly that the Duke of Somerset is being unjustly accused, and that the other party deserves punishment much more than the prisoners. It is thought, therefore, that the Council will put Somerset and his accomplices out of the way as soon as possible.
London, 18 October, 1551.
Signed. Cipher. French.
Oct. 20. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 21. The Emperor to Jehan Scheyfve.
Juan Lopez de (blank) Alcalde of Corunna in Galicia is desirous of travelling hither. He is about to undertake this journey for our service and convenience; and we request and charge you to second him and assist him with the Council and in any manner which is required, so that he may obtain a vessel to cross and whatever else he may be in need of for his journey, by paying the current price and satisfying the usual demands. We will look upon the trouble you will take in this matter as an acceptable service rendered to ourself.
Augsburg, 20 October, 1551.
Minute. French,
Oct. 23. Brussels, E.A. 490. Guillaume de Poitiers to Viglius de Zwichem
I believe you will already have received the acts published in the Council on the 11th of this month, together with the articles to be examined by the Doctors and Fathers, and decreed on November 25th.
The Fathers, my Lord, are daily growing in number. The day before yesterday there arrived the Bishop of Constance, and to-day, quite unexpectedly, the Archbishop of Thessalonica, a Greek, thereby rejoicing the Fathers. In all there may be fifty-eight of them.
Duke Maurice's secretary has also come to engage lodgings for the said Duke's ambassador and Doctors who are to compose a company of fifty to sixty horse.
This morning 108 mules arrived, loaded with silver from Spain. There is said to be metal to the value of 700,000 crowns, and it is going to the Emperor at Innsbruck.
Our Doctors have pronounced their judgements as they are wont: that is with gravity and weighty words, which does not at all please the Spaniards, who are fonder of talking than agrees with the dignity of this place. But I think they are rather sore because the Dean of Louvain spoke first of all those come from his Imperial Majesty's dominions, whether of Spain or the Low Countries. And that is all I have to say for the present.
Trent, 23 October, 1551.
Holograph. French.
Oct. 26. Vienna, Imp. Arch. B. 78. The Queen Dowager to the Emperor.
The English ambassador here resident came to me yesterday, and gave me to understand that the King of England, after discovering the plot woven by the Duke of Somerset, his uncle, formerly Protector, and others his adherents, against his very person, his realm and nobility, had caused them to be arrested, in order to proceed to their trial and shun the committal of so execrable a crime. The ambassador said his master the King had instructed him to relate these tidings to me, sure as he was that I would rejoice to hear that God, by His divine providence, had preserved him from such danger. I replied that I praised God for this favour, and the King might be sure I would as soon suffer ill myself as have it befall him, for I had always wished him well, and now thanked him for the confidence that moved him to relate to me things so nearly touching his person. I then entered into conversation with the ambassador about the affair, going into details and inquiring as to who had been party to the conspiracy. He mentioned one who had formerly had charge of the town of Guines for his master, and another who was sent by the late King with the ambassador to Captain Riffenberg in the year '45. People had been talking about Paget over here, but the ambassador assured me there was nothing in it. I know not, my Lord, what is at the bottom of this, nor what it may portend, but I have heard a common rumour to the effect that the Earl of Warwick is managing the business in order to pave the way for himself and his partisans, and remove from about the King's person all those nearest to his Majesty in rank, who might interfere with Warwick's designs.
Brussels, 26 October, 1551.
Holograph. French. Printed by Lanz, Correspondenz des Kaisers Karl V, Vol. III.
Oct. 26. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 19. Jehan Scheyfve to the Emperor.
Sire: Since my last letters to your Majesty, of the 18th instant, the Council summoned the Mayor, sheriffs and aldermen of London, and declared to them the plot the Duke of Somerset and his accomplices had wished to put into execution against the King and government of the kingdom. In order to carry out his execrable and pernicious designs he had decided to give a banquet and invite his colleagues to it with the pretext of brotherly affection, to have them murdered. At the same time he had intended to seize the Tower of London and the royal treasury, bombard the town to revenge himself for his former imprisonment, and occupy several other castles and strong places in the country. This was the cause of Somerset's arrest and imprisonment, and of that of several members of his faction; and it seemed to the Council expedient that the city officers should call together the people to explain to them what had happened, and the true cause of it all. Though this has been done, it has proved impossible to persuade the people or impress it upon them, and not a few persons of rank, that Somerset really tried to lead such an enterprise, or anything of the sort; for they believe him to be a good man wrongly accused of this conspiracy, and think the origin of the matter is to be sought rather in the Duke of Northumberland's coveteousness and fear of Somerset. So it seems that the Council are trying to satisfy the commons and substantiate their accusation by cross-examining Somerset's servants and the other prisoners, among whom is the young Earl of Hertford, son to the Duke. Some say that they have already found enough material to proceed upon, and even that Somerset and his wife have owned up to the conspiracy; though others think his enemies have started the rumour. Still, as far as I am able to ascertain, they are finding some matter; and they will not omit to bring up the story of his former imprisonment against the Duke. It seems that God wishes to punish him and his wife, as they were the instruments of the introduction of the new religion into England.
I hear, Sire, that Mr. (Sir John) York, master of the mint, who is said to be a mere instrument of Northumberland, presented a petition to the King some days ago to obtain a general acquittance of his administration. The Council passed this request, but it seems that the King hesitated to sign it at first, at which the Duke of Northumberland grew angry, believing the King to have been influenced in this by Somerset. It is also said that on the day when the new dukes, earls and marquises were created, my Lord Grey expressed certain opinions touching the last victory won against Scotland, which, on the day of the said creation, was attributed to Northumberland. This, Lord Grey maintained, had been subtracted from the Duke of Somerset's honours, for at the time Northumberland had been nothing but a captain, like Grey himself, whilst Somerset was general in Scotland, and represented the King's person there. These words have been all the more commented and judged significant because Grey is held to be the best soldier in England. Some time ago Somerset gave Grey the use of part of his house, with twenty or thirty gentlemen attached, and all at his own (Somerset's) expense; because Grey has no private means at all, having spent his entire fortune in the service of his master, the King, in Scotland and at Boulogne. Moreover, people say that the Duchess of Somerset had been heard to say she hoped the world might soon change, and that her husband, who was now very low and in debt, might some day be in a position to do something for those who wished him well. When the Duke of Northumberland heard this and found out that some of his enemies, such as Sir Ralph Fane and others, were beginning to follow Somerset, he considered it was time to put a stop to this growth. For he knew that the people and several nobles of the realm were dissatisfied, and that if Somerset began to rise he would have no lack of material to use against him and his adherents, such as the surrender of Boulogne, pillage and abuse in the mint, the new alliance and confederation with the French, and other points. Matters have gone so far that the people are beginning to say it would be better for the King's security that he should be under the protection of the sheriffs and city authorities of London rather than in the hands of Northumberland and his following, who have now got possession of the chief forts and strong places of the realm. It is said they allow no one about the King's person except my Lord Lisle, now Earl of Warwick, the Duke of Northumberland's son, and a few other of his creatures. In order to put the country's affairs in better shape, and win the people's hearts, they have recently begun to coin more money of pure silver, and have had arrested a Mr. John Williamson (sic), (fn. 10) Treasurer of the Augmentations, who possesses a huge amount of live-stock and is loathed by the people. Thus they are trying to prove that they mean to introduce reforms and ease the people's burdens. It seems that the Council intend to lay the blame for the fact that religious matters are not proceeding to the nation's satisfaction at the Archbishop of Canterbury's door, and that he will soon be put into prison.
Some say that the King is grieved and sombre about the imprisonment of his uncle, the Duke of Somerset; but I hear from a good quarter that the King has been so carefully primed with evil accounts of the said Somerset that he shows no feeling for him. I am informed the Council will get rid of the Duke as soon as possible, and have already had all his furniture taken to Westminster.
My Lord Paget was confined for a few days to his house, and on the 21st instant was taken to the Fleet, which is a, prison in London, but much less ominous than the Tower. Some say that he had some understanding with Somerset, or at least was inclined in that direction, because he saw that Northumberland and his party treated him with constant coolness. Others think—and this is most probable—that Paget gave the conspiracy away, and is only being kept in prison in order to divert the suspicions Somerset and his party might nourish of him. There are people who assert that Paget was arrested in connection with the affairs of the Lady Mary, Princess of England, and that the Council are charging him with the promise made to your Majesty, in virtue of which the Lady Mary was to be allowed to continue in the practice of the old religion, on the ground that he went beyond his powers in giving it. The Council think this may serve to placate your Majesty, now that they are taking the old religion away from the lady.
As for the Earls of Derby and Shrewsbury, talk has cooled down about them, and it seems that they were not of the plot of which the others are accused; and though Derby's son was said to have been thrown into the Tower, it was a false report. I have not been able to find out anything more concerning the Lord Chancellor of England; but it is quite true that the Council instructed one of their secretaries to tell the Venetian ambassador that Somerset had tried to make sure of the Great Seal of England with the object of issuing several placards for his own purposes. Great precautions have been taken, and this town is being so closely watched that no one dares discover himself.
A few days ago it was reported that two English captains, Pelham and Stuchele (sic), were secretly raising troops here to send them over to France, a few at a time. Since then they have been forbidden to continue; and some say the soldiers were to be employed by Somerset's party. Pelham is a prisoner, and Stuchele has got away to a safe place. The other day a few more gentlemen were arrested, but not men of great importance.
The Admiral of England, who has been ill for some time, is now going to France with rich presents and jewels for the daughter of France, who is affianced to the King of England. It is believed that the Queen Dowager of Scotland has arrived at Portsmouth to avoid your Majesty's ships, and that she will pass through London and visit the King, after which she will go on towards Scotland without delay. The Marquis of Northampton has been chosen to go to meet and welcome her.
London, 26 October, 1551.
Signed. French. Cipher.
Oct. 31. Vienna, Imp. Arch.E. 19. Jehan Scheyfve to the Emperor.
Sire: My Lords of the Council have communicated to the Lady Mary, Princess of England, a fairly detailed account of the Duke of Somerset's plot, informing her that he had intended to assassinate his colleagues and grasp several of the strong places of the kingdom in order to lord it at will, and that his imprisonment was due to this. My Lady was pleased to ask my advice as to what reply she should make, and T told her she had better show no feeling nor liking for the Duke of Somerset, but only deplore such troubles and all other evil that might afflict the kingdom, saying that her dutiful love for her brother, her King and Lord, caused her continually to pray for his realm's welfare, and that his kingdom might be governed in such a manner that he, on reaching his majority, might be satisfied; for other means of furthering his prosperity she had none.
A few days later the King had the Princess informed that the Queen Dowager of Scotland had arrived at Portsmouth on her way to Scotland, and intended to pass through London to visit and salute his Majesty. He therefore requested the Princess to come to Court to accompany and entertain the Queen if she chanced to sojourn there, adding that this would give him the pleasure of seeing his sister. The Princess, remembering her constant ill-health, which is at present even worse than usual, and fearing that the King might wish to detain her at Court, talk to her about the new religion and urge her to adopt it, decided to excuse herself with all due modesty, as she has done in the past. The fact that her Controller and gentlemen, who had entire charge of her household, are still in prison, also influenced her to take up this attitude.
I have heard, Sire, that the courier who took my letters of the 18th instant to carry them to your Majesty, was detained for several days at Dover by storms and lack of a boat. He embarked on the 21st instant, and by sea-luck the vessel was cast ashore to the westward, near Rye, and several passengers, with my courier among them, were drowned. Though the letters were saved, I fear they may have got wet or been defaced, and am sending a duplicate to your Majesty by the present bearer.
London, 31 October, 1551.
Signed. French. Cipher.


  • 1. A simile drawn from card-play.
  • 2. Who had been deprived of the Electorate in Maurice's favour in 1547.
  • 3. Ferrette (Pfirt in German), was a county in Upper-Alsace, including Belfort, Thann and Altkirch.
  • 4. Guy de Chabot, Sieur de Jarnac.
  • 5. This appears to be Thomas Stukeley, who had been standard-bearer at Boulogne. The Council ordered his arrest on November 21, 1551, but Stukeley escaped to France.
  • 6. The last volume of this Calendar contains many mentions of Conrad Pennick, or Courtpennick. He served the English as a mercenary captain in the Scots wars,
  • 7. Guillaume de Poitiers is described in a contemporary document as “prothonotaire et chancellier de Liége.”
  • 8. The Queen Dowager does not seem to have considered the matter very-urgent. She left Augsburg in April, and was back in Brussels by the middle of May.
  • 9. A coin worth ten shillings.
  • 10. This is Sir John Williams