Spain: November 1551

Pages 391-399

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

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November 1551

Nov. 1. Brussels, L.A. 56. Count de Reuil to the Queen Dowager.
(The following paragraph occurs in a letter dealing with measures for the protection of the herring-fisheries and the reinforcement of the Artois frontier.)
I wrote a few days ago to the English captains to find out what they intended to do about the damage done by the French on the Emperor's land near their part. It appears that the occasion of this disorder is a bulwark, more than half of which is on the Emperor's land. Your Majesty has already heard something about it, and you have written on the subject to the ambassador resident in England, in spite of which the English are still occupying and fortifying the bulwark.
St. Omer, 1 November, 1551.
Signed. French.
Nov. 16. Vienna, Imp. Arch.E. 19. Advices Sent by Jehan Scheyfve,
The Queen (Dowager) of Scotland arrived in London with a small following, and two days later was conducted by several gentlemen and ladies to Court, where the King received her in most honourable and gracious fashion, coming forward to greet her half-way down the hall of his palace. After a splendid banquet and a conversation with the King, the Queen retired to her lodging, once more accompanied by the King, who kept always to the right hand, half-way down the hall where with all due and accustomed reverences and thanks, she took her leave. The next day the King sent her, by the Earl of Pembroke, his Master of the Horse, two fine hackneys (fn. 1) and a flat diamond worth about 1,000 pounds sterling. The Queen left London for Scotland a few days afterwards, escorted by the Duke of Northumberland, Earl of Pembroke, Marquises of Winchester and Northampton, with 400 or 500 horse. Many people have grumbled about this, especially about the reception given the Queen, saying that it was done rather to please the King of France than for any other reason.
Some believe that the Queen has gone back to Scotland to persuade the Scots to declare war against the Emperor, which they seem to be loth to do, preferring to observe the last treaty concluded with his Majesty. We also hear from a good source that she brought 200,000 or 300,000 crowns to England; some say to pay the garrisons in Scotland, others to be sent by sea from England to Ostland, (fn. 2) in order that foot soldiers may be raised for France early next season. It is said that the Emperor's men-of-war handled very roughly some of the French ships that escorted the Queen to England.
A few days ago the Earl of Arundel, who belongs to the first and oldest family (i.e. that of Fitzalan) in England, was arrested. This has caused more discontent than ever among the commons, for the Earl is very popular with all men, and has the reputation of such integrity as would prevent him from taking part in any plot or treason. We hear that, the day on which he was arrested, the Council summoned him before them and talked to him about the Duke of Somerset's conspiracy, saying that the matter was so important that they had thought it well to communicate with him, so that together they might take counsel as to the best course to be pursued. The Earl excused himself on the ground that it was not his business, but the Council's to investigate that offence. He considered them prudent enough to manage the affair by themselves, especially as they had imprisoned the Duke and his accomplices. At the time of Somerset's first imprisonment, he added, he (Arundel) had been of the Council and had done his duty with his colleagues; but nonetheless Somerset had been set at liberty, and that had been the reason why he, who had refused to consent to Somerset's release, had been excluded from the Council. Consequently he requested them to hold him excused. When the Duke of Northumberland heard this, he said it looked as if Arundel was of Somerset's faction, and therefore a traitor to the King. The Earl replied that neither he nor any of his family had ever been traitors, but all knew who had; by which he meant Northumberland's father. (fn. 3) This retort caused the Earl's arrest and confinement in the Tower; but some people say he will also be accused of having participated in, or had some knowledge of, the said conspiracy.
We hear that the Earls of Derby and Shrewsbury have also been summoned to come to court, and with them several other great nobles, to assist in dealing with Somerset's case. Some people fear that if they appear the Council will devise an expedient for seizing some of them.
My Lord Paget, who was in the Fleet, was also taken to the Tower the same day that the Earl of Arundel and the Lieutenant of the Tower (fn. 4) were arrested. Mr. Hoby and two other gentlemen are now guarding the Tower, and the closest watch is being kept in London and the country. As soon as anyone utters a word in favour of any of the prisoners, he is arrested; which angers the commons greatly. The principal merchants of London are particularly dissatisfied with this manner of procedure, calling the Duke of Northumberland a tyrant, hating him, saying that his one object is to lord it over all, and still persisting that Somerset is innocent, of this conspiracy of which he is accused, and that the charges are merely trumped up; for so many righteous men would never have joined in a plot. Some say that Somerset and his party did not wish to have Northumberland and the other councillors murdered, but only have them arrested at a banquet which Somerset intended to give, and taken to prison, after which they would have summoned Parliament to set everything, religion and the rest, right in accordance with the late King's will. Still, it seems they will find some support for their accusation that Somerset and his partisans intended to murder Northumberland and his followers, or at any rate had talked about doing so. It is believed that Secretary Cecil, formerly Somerset's secretary, first got wind of the plot, and next a certain gentleman called Palmer, (fn. 5) who was lieutenant to my Lord Grey in the last Scots war, and in whom Somerset had entire confidence. So it seems that this conspiracy will provide a pretext for arresting all those who might take Somerset's part, or in any way interfere with the designs of Northumberland's following, which are to proceed in close alliance with France. And the matter is all the more suspicious because nothing is done without the French ambassador's advice. Many Englishmen are scandalised, and say that the Duke of Northumberland wishes to bring the King of France into England, or set the English at war with the Emperor.
The English are rather angry because they are not allowed to freight French goods for Flanders, or Flemish goods for France, out of which traffic they had hoped to make a profit.
It is said that the Council recently sent to the King of Denmark to start negotiations for the marriage of that King's eldest son to the Lady Elizabeth, the King of England's sister. They consider that this match would be better than the French one, because of religion and for other reasons.
The English Admiral is leaving for France in two or three days to represent the King at the christening. (fn. 6) The plate he is taking as a gift is valued at 20,000 crowns, and a certain diamond for the daughter of France at 6,000.
It is rumoured here that the French are again fitting out twenty or thirty men-of-war.
Cipher. French.
Nov. 18. Simancas, E. “876. Document headed “From Montesa.” (fn. 7)
England (i.e. Cardinal Pole) had said that he would be guided by his Holiness in all things; but no sooner had he spoken the words than he brought up two points. The first was that the ecclesiastical revenues were slender, and becoming smaller day by day; so that he did not know how so many cardinals would be able to live in the necessary state. The second, that the Church's custom was to observe the ancient institution of the pontiffs in creating deacons and subdeacons during the tempora, (fn. 8) or appointed fasts. As the time before the next should occur was so short, he did not know how so important a promotion (made out of the wonted season) would be taken, or how it would be judged. Here his Holiness said to me that he must say of Pole what Quintilian said of Cicero: That what he wrote and spoke appeared to be the first thing that changed to come into his head; but in reality it was the result of the very subtlest art, as were all the words uttered by the Cardinal of England. He (the Pope) had been not a little taken aback by this.
He (Montesa) had sent to the Theatine (Cardinal Caraffa) at a late hour asking him to pray God to inspire his Holiness for the best. The Theatine only replied that he would like to know what the cardinals had better say, and why this promotion was being celebrated without awaiting the tempora, as they had requested.
. . (paper torn) especially without consulting them. When some Imperialist had advised him to do it (i.e. create the new cardinals), he had put it off, at the last consistory, saying that the Pope was greatly devoted to St. Andrew because on that Saint's day (November 30th) he had been created archbishop, and afterwards legate, and had entered the conclave in which he was elected pope. Therefore he would choose the fast of St. Andrew, which would be the same as the tempora; and he would propose them (the names of the new cardinals) the day before. This would obviate certain difficulties.
His Holiness was anxious not to be withstood by anyone, in order not to have to invoke his absolute power. This was said because of Trani, who had been heard to remark that if the number (of new cardinals) was to be so great, he would go home to his bishopric to rest; for there would be cardinals and to spare to carry on affairs.
He also mentioned the bad news from Hungary (fn. 9) that had helped to decide him to put it off till St. Andrew's day.
Since these news had arrived, he had come to the above decision, only a week ago; and he would create them (the cardinals) the day after to-morrow, giving them their bonnets only, the hats to follow next Friday. And this should be done nemine discrepante.
(This minute refers to a creation of new cardinals judged necessary by the Imperial interest to counterbalance the French faction.)
Nov. 19. Vienna, Imp. Arch.E. 19. Jehan Scheyfve to the Queen Dowager.
Madam: The captain of Gravelines has informed me that the English have daily been allowing free passage to the French, especially by way of the lock (escluse) they possess near Gravelines, through which the enemy have been coming to pillage and outrage the Emperor's subjects by night, taking refuge and lurking with their booty in England (i.e. the English possessions) as often as they choose. Moreover, under shadow of these French exploits, twenty-five or thirty Englishmen have recently raided near Gravelines, and pillaged the Emperor's subjects. When the said captain was told of this he had the raiders pursued by some of his people as far as the English pale, where the French came out to help them until the neighbouring English peasants began to join the fray, arresting and seizing the captain's men, who were nonetheless set free the next day. This, Madam, appeared to me to be little consonant with observance of the treaty and friendly relations between the two countries, and likely to give rise to unpleasantness, so I addressed a complaint to the Council, in order that they might see to the remedy. They replied, in the person of Lord Cobham, that they were unable to believe the French had been allowed to use that passage, and they felt sure they had gone some other way without passing by the lock or entering English territory, as they had done during the last war between France and England, when Frenchmen had several times passed through the Emperor's lands to attack the English possessions. Dr. Wotton then remarked that when he passed by Gravelines not long ago he heard the same complaint from the captain. He had mentioned the matter to the Deputy and other authorities of Calais, who assured him that the French had not passed through the aforesaid place, or any other passage on English territory; and their account had been confirmed by those who lived at and near the lock. It was not at all likely that the English had been so abandoned as to commit any robberies on the Emperor's territory or on the persons of his subjects, against the wishes and intention of the King and his Council. But it was possible that certain Englishmen who, in defiance of the King's commands, had entered the French service, had been joined and supported by French soldiers. In the same way not a few Englishmen had entered the Emperor's service, and had raided as far as the walls and gates of Abbeville, about which the Council was continually receiving complaints from France. For this reason they had issued orders to all soldiers and captains in the service of France and the Emperor to come home at once, under the severest penalties. They ended their discourse, Madam, by saying that they would nevertheless make further inquiries to find out exactly what had happened, and would take such steps as might be found necessary. The Duke of Northumberland added that he was so anxious for the preservation of the old alliance and friendly relations between the Emperor and the King, his master, and their respective countries, that he would not have any Englishmen that might be caught in such doings ransomed, but would like to see them executed and made an example of at once, so that in future the rest might think twice before defying authority and disobeying orders.
They say that the bands of horse that have been raised are to be mustered on St. Andrew's day next, and that to this end the King will go to Greenwich, where he will stay some time. This looks as if the Duke of Somerset's affair were ripe, and to be dealt with quickly. The bands of horse will serve to intimidate the people, and will be ready to strike if there is any sign of revolt.
The English appear to be beginning to fit out some war-ships. Some say that these ships are intended to keep an eye on the Emperor's, others that they have been demanded by certain English merchants who have complained that ships laden with Flemish goods have been seized by the Emperor's men-of-war, though they were making for England. This tale is denied by some people.
Duplicate. French. Last two paragraphs in cipher.
Nov. 24. Vienna, Imp. Arch.E. 21. The Emperor to Jehan Scheyfve.
We gave audience to the English ambassador who made, in substance, the same declarations as those contained in your letters of the 18th and 26th of last month concerning the imprisonment of the Duke of Somerset, alleging that he had attempted to restore himself to his former position as Protector, and to seize the royal treasury, both he and Lord Grey having been guilty of conspiring against those who surrounded the King's person. He added that the King, who was well aware of the affection we had always borne him, now announced the event to us so that we might advise him what he had better do. My Lord Paget was also arrested in his house, because you had declared from us to the Council that he had given a certain assurance respecting the Lady Mary on which we now founded the request we made on her behalf. He advanced in this beyond the orders of the King and his Council, but might have done so in obedience to private commands from Somerset. On being questioned, he denied having given the assurance; but the Council preferred to credit the statements made on our behalf rather than his word on oath. He (the ambassador) asserted, moreover, that the King would give fair treatment to our cousin, whom he never called the Princess but, in his own Italian, merely the illustrissima Lady Mary. We replied in general terms, expressing neither approval nor disapproval of what had been done with regard to Somerset. We deplored the condition of affairs in England, and would always feel sorry for anything which affected the person of the King and the good of his kingdom, because of the singular affection we bore them. We found it difficult to give him any advice, not knowing the circumstances on which the recent events were based, and not possessing that detailed knowledge of affairs in England which would enable us to form a judgment on which we could advise. As to Paget, we would be sorry to learn that he or any other was to suffer for our sake, but we could not refrain from repeating that whether with orders from the King, or from a wish to show his zeal, or by special orders from Somerset, it was nevertheless certain that our late ambassador, Van der Delft, informed us that he had given the assurance. As we were on the subject, we would observe to the ambassador that some among those who now enjoyed most credit in England had shown a desire to restore religion to its former condition, merely in order to acquire the said credit; and afterwards, when in power, had done the opposite. As for our cousin, the Lady Mary, we felt sure the King would respect her and treat her as his good and obedient sister, and especially in consideration of our close relationship to her, not press her to acts contrary to her conscience. With this the ambassador departed.
We are sending you a full account that you may know our intentions; and we will declare to you in detail what we wished to convey by saying that some had shown a desire to restore religion in order to gain credit, and had afterwards when in power done the opposite. We referred to the Earl of Warwick, now Duke of Northumberland, who showed a wish to bring religion back to the late King's settlement while he was intriguing to overthrow the said Somerset. The late ambassador informed us of this, and of the source of the information. (fn. 10) Warwick's behaviour since, with regard to religion, is plain to all. We conveyed this in general terms to remind him of the past and give him to understand that Paget and he (Northumberland) might be held to be in the same position. You are to give no sign nor hint of having any understanding of this matter; and if you are asked to give an explanation and tell them to whom we were referring, you will say that you have heard what took place with the ambassador, but nothing concerning the person we intended to designate by the above words. You will note how they take it, and let us know all you hear on the subject.
We received your letters of September 12th some time ago, and have seen copies of your letters of the 26th and 29th of the same month to our sister, the Queen Dowager of Hungary, after which your letters of the 10th of last month arrived also. We have heard what took place concerning our cousin, the Lady Mary, and other details of affairs in England, which seem to call for no further comment, except that we find your diligence very acceptable and agreeable. We request you to continue to write as often as you can.
Augsburg, 24 November, 1551.
Minute. French.
Nov. 30. Brussels, L.A. 57. The Queen Dowager to Jehan Scheyfve.
We have recently been informed that the English are buying up a large number of vessels over here, and that during the last week they have bought as many as twenty-five, which have been freighted with goods for England. This behaviour is unwonted, unlike anything we have seen here for a long time, and is rousing lively suspicions. We have also been told that all the vessels in London harbour from Antwerp and other ports in the Low Countries have been arrested, and this, coupled with our desire to do something to reassure opinion here, has caused us to order the detention of all ships belonging to persons of English nationality, freighted or not, now at Antwerp or other harbours in Zeeland or elsewhere in these dominions, under the colour that they ought to pay two (fn. 11) per cent. on all goods exported, as other nations do and have agreed to do, though the English have refused up to the present and have been allowed to pass on depositing a caution. With this pretext we shall keep them here as long as we can, or until you have informed us whether it is true or not that our vessels have been arrested over there, which you will do as quickly as possible, letting us know, by this same courier, of the reasons and attendant circumstances, and other news from that quarter. And in this you shall not fail.
Brussels, 30 November, 1551.
Minute. French.
Nov. 30. Brussels, E.A. 490. Guillaume De Poitiers to the Queen. Dowager.
Madam: The reason why I have not sooner reported to your Majesty what took place in the last session, is that my reverend Lord the Legate refused to allow it to be communicated sooner.
Next session the sacrifice of the mass and the sacrament of orders are to be dealt with, and the session has been fixed for January 25th to give the Protestants plenty of time to appear here, as I mentioned in my last letter to your Majesty. There are no other news except the arrival of a certain personage who came here saying he had Duke Maurice's orders to engage lodgings for the Protestants. Since he left various talk has been heard: some saying that the Protestants are certainly coming, others the contrary. A third version is that they started to come hither, and then sheered off to England; though this sounds unlikely. We have also heard that the deputies of the Lutheran cities have held an assembly and drawn up a statement of their religion, errors and faith, of which they intend to make use here. As far as I am able to ascertain it does not greatly differ from the one they formerly decided upon at Augsburg. Quite recently the Deputy of the city of Strassburg arrived here with a power from that and four or five other neighbouring cities.
Less zeal is displayed in the matter of reformation than in that of faith and religion, because the prelates dare not press the Legate on that point, nor do the ambassadors while awaiting his Imperial Majesty's commands. If your Majesty is pleased to send me your instructions regarding that or any other matter in which you may take an interest, I will not fail to do my best to forward it.
Trent, 30 November, 1551,
Holograph. French.
Nov. —. Brussels, L.A. 56. Advices from a Spy in France.
(Extract from a letter giving petty information about Italian affairs.)
The Prior of Capua (fn. 12) has departed from France, very ill-satisfied, leaving the King's galleys in great disorder. The Emperor would find it easy to come to an understanding with him, and the Prior might render valuable service. Peter Strozzi has promised the King to revenge him. Captain Paulin has set the Queen (Dowager) of Scotland on shore at Portsmouth, where he touched with seventeen ships, nine of them very small. He is expecting the arrival of six great ships from Brittany to reinforce him; they are the largest ships belonging to the King besides the Grand Henri. He is to coast along Flanders and Zeeland and make an attack if he sees an opportunity. The men of Strassburg have sent word to the King that they will not allow the Emperor to enter their city, come he weak or come he strong.


  • 1. Referred to as “nagges” in Edward's Journal.
  • 2. A name frequently given to N. Germany (Bremen, Hamburg, etc).
  • 3. Edmund Dudley, Henry VII's minister, executed in 1609.
  • 4. Sir Arthur Darcy was ordered to take charge of the Tower, in place of Sir John Markham, who was accused of having allowed Somerset to correspond with his friends outside.
  • 5. Sir Thomas Palmer, often mentioned in the last volume of this Calendar.
  • 6. Of the King of France's son, the future Henry III.
  • 7. i.e., Don Juan Manrique de Lara, comendador of the Order of Montesa.
  • 8. The tempora are three fast-days that occur four times a year: the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday before Easter, Whitsuntide, the Feast of the Holy Cross (September 14th), and Christmas.
  • 9. The bad news from Hungary referred to were the loss of some castles by the King of the Romans, and the siege of Temesvär by the Turk.
  • 10. Van der Delft heard it from the Earl of Southampton. See Spanish Calendar, Vol. IX.
  • 11. Probably a slip for one half: the tax about which the English had been complaining at the time.
  • 12. Leone Strozzi.