Spain: December 1551, 16-31

Pages 411-430

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

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December 1551, 16–31

Dec. 17. Simancas, E. 646. Don Francisco de Toledo to the Emperor.
In my letters of the last day of last month I informed your Majesty of what had passed in the recent session concerning the reformation. I spoke particularly of the great difficulties that had arisen, as much because the Legate resisted the demands addressed to him, as because the prelates were not satisfied with what was given to them. After this the prelates remained discontented and unwilling to give their approval to the proposed reformation, and spoke to me several times on the subject, saying that their consciences forbade them to put up with that sort of reformation, and displaying an intention of talking freely in the next session, and demanding what they considered essential to a reformation such as might satisfy God and their consciences. Though I replied to all this, trying to calm their zeal, so that it might be utilised in an advantageous manner, without prejudice to the objects we are seeking to encompass here, I saw that they were quite determined in their decision not to consent to any reformation other than that which they have demanded; for they think honour and conscience are better satisfied by preventing any reformation whatsoever, and rejecting all proposals, than by passing anything except what they have asked for and consider necessary. So they are proclaiming that they would sooner have no reformation at all, and merely proceed with points of dogma, than give their approval to any scheme not drawn up on their own lines. They consider that they are not offending the Legate in this, as they are not bothering him with demands that scandalise him, as they did with the last Legate, but are only abstaining from passing proposals contrary to their consciences. This is a matter that has already been talked about, and on which the prelates had made up their minds during the last session. They would have put it into execution, too, had I not managed to persuade them to desist; so I think that this time they will prove very stubborn, and try to carry it through. Therefore it seemed wise to warn your Majesty in time, so that you may compare this with my former reports on the same subject and command me what I shall do, and thus I may have enough time to execute your orders. The state of mind of the prelates renders it necessary to allow for several days' delay and so does the Legate's. Besides, if we put off dealing with it until the end of the session, there will be great confusion with the questions of dogma; for in the last session one matter was observed to hamper the other. I would also tell your Majesty that what I have seen leads me to believe that nothing is more likely to move the Legate than the aforesaid plan adopted by the prelates, for he does not at all like to be told that they (i.e. the Roman party) do not desire a reformation, and I consequently think he is likely to be offended about it. However, considering how much importance they give to the principal point of their demands, it seems possible that the Legate may consent; whether he does so or not the bishops, as I have already said, would prefer anything rather than the sort of reformation the Legate wants.
Nothing more has happened in the matter of the Electors that T reported to your Majesty in my letters of the 7th and 9th instant. They said no more to the Legate, either directly or indirectly, about the message they sent me some days ago; and they are still awaiting more news from Germany. I have heard from a sure source that they would have carried out their intentions, and departed, if the Elector of Cologne had been willing to join them; but when he refused, and assured them he would not move from this place without your Majesty's express leave and commands, they held back and abandoned their project.
The King and Queen of Bohemia entered this place on the 13th of this month. I discussed the manner of their reception with the Legate; and we agreed that he should go out in person, as representing the Council, accompanied by the entire synod. We then considered what order should be observed by the prelates in dismounting and kissing their Highnesses' hands, as was done with the Prince (Philip), our lord, when he passed through this place. The problem was solved by the Legate and the rest, who decided not to dismount at all, showing many lawful prohibitions against that ceremony. So we sallied out a long way from the town, and M. de Poitiers and I dismounted and kissed their Highnesses' hands; for we had decided that, as servants of your Majesty, we were in duty bound to do so. But, though at the same time there dismounted three or four Italian bishops, who had promised to do so at the request of the Cardinal of Trent, who greatly desired that all should do the same, none of the rest dismounted. The result was that the prelates were under the delusion that the King had neither noticed nor addressed them, and were rather put out about it, as also was the Legate. The next day, however, I took them all to kiss their Highnesses' hands, first having forewarned the King and told him what was the matter, and the King spoke very pleasantly with them, as did the Queen. They were all delighted, and stayed to hear mass with their Highnesses, the oldest prelate serving at mass according to custom. The next day their Highnesses departed, and the prelates and I accompanied them a short way. We decided that this time all should dismount to take their leave and kiss hands, and the prelates agreed, as this time they were not representing the Council.
We tried to arrange that the Electors should go out to receive their Highnesses; but after much discussion Mayence and Trier decided not to go, and persuaded Cologne to do the same, though they knew he had made up his mind to be present with us, as he had sent me word. When Cologne saw the others would not go, and when they begged him not to adopt a different attitude from theirs, he thought he had better do as they were doing, and sent to me to excuse himself. So he, Trier and Mayence stayed in the windows of Mayence's house, whence they saluted their Highnesses as they passed by.
Secretary Eraso arrived here yesterday and told me his opinion about the guard of this place, for whose pay the Cardinal of Trent had asked for money. We decided to give him 2,000 crowns for the present, until your Majesty should decide what sum should be given every month; and Eraso said he would see about it in Milan.
Trent, 17 December, 1551.
Copy. Spanish.
Dec. 18. Simancas, E. 646. Don Francisco de Toledo to the Emperor.
When I had finished the letter that I am sending with this one, I was informed that the Elector of Mayence had received a despatch from Germany, and I put off sending it with the hope of finding out what news the despatch contained. I was immediately told that the Electors of Mayence and Trier were greatly exercised in their minds about it, but was unable to discover any details, because the messenger arrived sometime during last night. Today, in congregation, they spoke to the Legate, and told him fresh news had come from Germany to the effect that disturbances were imminent in that province, for there was already an army gathered together and doing great damage in the country. It had laid waste some of Mayence's lands, among others; and the danger menacing their states had decided both of them to start at once for home, for it was impossible for them to stay away at so critical a moment. They had preferred to tell the Legate about it in order not to depart without his leave. The Legate, according to his own account, endeavoured to persuade them not to go, at any rate without permission from his Holiness and your Majesty; but though he and the presidents, who were also witnesses of the scene, have assured me that he did his very utmost to prevail upon them, the Electors only replied that they had already notified your Majesty of their departure without obtaining any reply, and they did not expect they would get one in answer to anything they might write now; wherefore they had decided not to write, as they could not afford to delay. The Legate answered with urgent requests that they would give him time to write to his Holiness, informing him of their decision, and also that they would wait until the opening day of the first session so that, at all events, it might be celebrated in their presence. He adduced all possible arguments in favour of this request; but they replied that they could not wait until the session, nor give him time to write to his Holiness and obtain a reply. Still, the Legate might write to his Holiness, because an answer might possibly arrive while they were preparing for the journey; though they also remarked that they might set out very soon, perhaps even before his letter arrived in Rome. This is what I have heard, and though up to the present the Electors have said not a word to me, I thought I must write to your Majesty that you might know what was happening. In the meantime I am immediately going to speak to the said Electors to see if I can get anything out of them; and I will let you know without delay. I am sending after the Cardinal of Trent and the Elector of Cologne, who accompanied the King and Queen of Bohemia as far as Botzen, begging them to return with all possible despatch to see whether they can do anything to keep back the two Electors, and also supplicating the King of Bohemia to intercede with them that they may wait for your Majesty's reply. It seemed to me necessary to inform your Majesty of the above; for the Electors' determination to go is such that any time gained, to enable your Majesty to take such steps as you shall think fit, is so much to the good.
Trent, 18 December, 1551.
Copy. Spanish.
Dec. 20. Simancas, E. 646. The Emperor to Don Francisco de Toledo.
All the letters you have written to us, including your last of the 17th instant, which came last night, have reached us. We will wait until God be pleased to give us some relief from our indisposition before dealing with the points raised in them; and in this letter we will only touch on the matter of the Electors, which admits of no delay. We thank you for the promptitude with which you have informed us of their decision, and consider you have performed your duty excellently in trying to prevent them from departing. As they would cause much trouble and scandal were they to go at the present time, we have thought well to write them the letters that are to go with this, to serve as credentials for you; and you will oblige us by talking to them, together and separately, on our behalf, exhorting them not to depart for the present. Represent to them how much harm their departure might do to the cause of religion, which now promises so well, as they are such important and influential personages; and make known to them that we have already adopted measures to prevent the spread of the unrest in Germany which they took as a pretext for their departure. We have good reason to hope that nothing further will come of it, and that their lands will not suffer, especially as Duke Maurice (i.e. of Saxony) has expressed his intention of coming hither soon, which will contribute to calm matters. Enlarge on this, using all the words and persuasions that may recommend themselves to your prudent mind, and work as hard as you can, and with every possible instrument, to keep them there. Set before them the evil example their departure would afford to all Christendom, the ill service they would be doing in God's cause, and anything else you may devise in order to dissuade them from executing their project.
Thank Cologne on our behalf for the good will he has displayed in offering to remain, and for his constant zeal and solicitude in our service, especially in the present occasion, when so much that matters in the cause of God and His Church, is at stake.
If, after trying all the above-mentioned expedients with Mayence and Trier, you see that they are unavailing to keep them back, and that the Electors are wholly set on departing, setting aside their duty towards God and our exhortation, command and pray them, on our behalf, at least to pass through this place, because we have need to speak to them about certain affairs. But, as we have said above, do not say this until you have lost all hope of making them stay.
Innsbruck, 20 December, 1551.
Minute. Spanish. Countersigned Vargas.
Dec. 20. Simancas, E. 646. Don Francisco de Toledo to the Emperor.
Since writing, on the 9th instant, to inform your Majesty of the fresh excitement and fever to depart that had come over the Electors of Mayence and Trier, I have spoken privately with Mayence, and done my utmost to dissuade him from putting his plan into execution. I explained to him how much his departure would injure the Council, as by going away at this juncture he would rob it of all the weight and lustre he had added to it by his presence. I tried my best to prevail upon him; but he replied he was obliged to go, for he had heard there was an uproar in Germany, and troops were gathering together in all quarters and had already marauded in part of his state, which he could not abandon for any other consideration. Therefore he was set on going, in order to attend to his affairs with all diligence, for he knew that they were being exposed to hourly peril during his absence. He did not think he was needed in the Council; because, as he had already said, be believed whatever might be done in it would prove fruitless, and this once understood, he considered he had better go and look after the affairs of his state. Though I replied showing him that your Majesty's presence in Germany rendered his state and everything else safe, and that he had no cause to be alarmed, he remained fixed in his determination, and refused to listen to persuasion or argument. When I saw how stubborn he was, I told him that, even though they (i.e. Mayence and Trier) had made up their minds to go, they ought not to move without notifying your Majesty and awaiting a reply; for it would cause a fresh scandal were they to leave without having done so. He replied that he had already sent a full account of his reasons to your Majesty, and had received no answer, so he had done his duty in that respect. Moreover, he intended to go straight to your Majesty to give you a still more detailed account of the matter, and he felt sure your Majesty would accept his and Trier's action; (for he was speaking for both). I then begged him to give me time to write to your Majesty and obtain a reply before going; but though I pressed him hard I was unable to gain the point, for he said he could promise nothing, as he did not know what sudden need might cause him to hasten his departure. He was expecting further news from hour to hour; and when they came he might not be able to delay so much as an hour. If the news were delayed, there might be time to write to your Majesty and get an answer. More, I was powerless to get out of him; and he received precious help in all this from a counsellor whom he kept beside him to advise him at every turn. At this rate we may expect him to go at any moment; and it seems wise to let your Majesty know of it, for if he does go, and the German bishops, as is to be believed, follow him, the whole of that nation will fail the Council. Matters being as they are, that would cause much disquiet among those who remain, as the Italians are already proclaiming. One of the presidents, even, has said that in that event the Council neither could nor should continue, for only the Spaniards would remain, as the few Italians here do not make up a nation. May it please your Majesty to make your decision known to me.
The Elector of Cologne arrived here when this despatch was being concluded, and I thought it well that M. de Poitiers should go at once to inform him of what had occurred and ascertain his intentions. The Elector answered these inquiries by saying that he knew nothing, as he had only just arrived, but in any case he would not leave this place without your Majesty's permission. Later we heard that he had already written to your Majesty on the subject, as he sent word to tell us to-day. Were he to remain, less harm would be done as long as the other German bishops did not go; but we fear they might all depart, if some of their fellows were to leave.
We are expecting a reply from your Majesty every day, for we need it badly in order to know how to conduct ourselves. We would especially, like to hear your Majesty's pleasure concerning the procurators from the Duke of Württemberg, Strassburg and other cities, for the doctors will soon have given their sentences, and as the congregations will then ensue, the procurators will wish to be present at them, as they were told they might, with the hope of keeping them satisfied. As the manner in which they are to be admitted is to be decided by your Majesty, we can do nothing, until we hear from you.
Trent, 20 December, 1551.
Copy. Spanish.
Dec. 23. Brussels, R.A. Prov. 13. The Queen Dowager to Jehan Scheyfve.
The Court Master of the English nation resident in Antwerp has been requesting us urgently these last days to exempt the English merchants who trade here from the one-half per cent. duty recently imposed with the (other) merchants' consent on all goods imported or exported. He argues that the imposition of this duty violates the Commercial Convention between us. Moreover, he sues for the refunding of the caution deposited by certain merchants for payment of the duty in case it should be found that they ought to pay it. On depositing this caution they had been allowed to transport their goods to England.
We replied that we would have the matter debated in Council, where it has since been decided to answer him that, just as the English here complain that the one-half per cent. is being levied against the Convention, our merchants also complain that several new taxes are being laid upon them in England against the Convention, and that they are obliged to pay in spite of all their remonstrances addressed to the Council. You yourself have been instructed to bring the matter to the Council's notice, and request them to agree to hold some communication on the subject; and though you were acting in the manner allowed you by the treaty you did so without success, and failed to obtain any satisfaction on the chief matter. A writing was also given to the Court Master, a copy of which we are now sending to you. It contains a list of the new exactions, and declares that we are still willing to allow English merchants to export goods to England on depositing a caution, and to refund the cautions already furnished on account of the one-half per cent. duty, if he will undertake to induce the Council to put a stop to the new exactions within three months. And that if he succeeds in doing so we will consider the advisability of exempting the English from the one-half per cent. duty, and in so doing will scrupulously observe the Convention.
On hearing this reply he said he would examine the writing. After looking at it he declared that he would not undertake to address any request or remonstrance on the subject to the Council, for that was the duty of the ambassador. He had only come to us at the instance of the English merchants here resident to obtain their exemption from the one-half per cent. duty. And with that he handed back the writing. It was then said to him that as he had raised the question, taking his stand on an alleged infraction of the Convention on our part, we had had very good reasons to mention the practices contrary to the Convention that were observed in England to our merchants' detriment. The reply given him had been as reasonable and well-justified as possible, as it stated plainly that we were ready to observe the Convention if the English would do the same; and the Convention must be regarded as equally binding both parties.
As we suppose the English ambassador here resident and the Court Master may inform the Council of this negotiation, we are writing to let you know of it, and to command you to declare what has happened to the Council, which you will do as soon as possible, in order that they may know what really occurred. Tell them that his Imperial Majesty's intentions and ours are to observe the Convention and treaties we have with the King of England. We trust that they, on their part, will do the same, and particularly that they will put a stop to the new exactions of which our merchants are complaining. And you will insist on this point.
Brussels, 23 December, 1551.
Minute. French.
Dec. 23. Simancas, E. 85. Juan de Arteaga (fn. 1) to Prince Philip.
Four or five Englishmen passed through this place on their way to Biscay four or five days ago. They told me that they had been attacked off Cape Finisterre by Frenchmen, who took their ship from them, with its cargo from Andalusia worth over 20,000 ducats. The Frenchmen had taken the ship and all there was in it, and set the Englishmen on shore.
Laredo, 23 December, 1551.
Holograph. Spanish.
Dec. 25. Simancas, E. 646. Don Francisco De Toledo to the Emperor.
If we were now at the beginning of the celebration of this Council, I would not venture to say what I am about to utter, for at such a time it would have been impossible to form an accurate opinion as to the requirements of so important an undertaking, nor would one have been able to argue from actual happenings as to what results might be hoped for. Now that it has gone on for some time, however, and we are so near its end, as I shall explain in this letter, I consider myself in duty bound towards God and your Majesty, as I am your servant and minister here, to speak my mind about the present state of the Council. Were I to defer doing so, my initiative might come too late, for reasons I will show. Therefore, in order not to miss this opportunity, I am taking it upon myself to write the following without first obtaining your Majesty's permission; but I am sure that my zeal and good intentions for your Majesty's service will cause you to forgive my boldness and any error I may commit.
In the first place it is to be presumed that the Council will virtually end with the session to be held after the one that is to open next January; for in that session all points touching the sacraments will be decided. In the January session all questions affecting the sacrament of holy orders and the sacrament of the mass will be settled, and the reserved articles on communion in both kinds will be published; in the following session the sacrament of marriage, the last of the seven, will be discussed, and also the abuses of all the sacraments; for both these points have been set aside for that session. After that remains only the Pope's power, purgatory, indulgences and the veneration of saints. I hear that his Holiness does not wish the first of these points to be made a subject of discussion; the question of purgatory will be partly disposed of in this next session when the application and benefit of masses for the dead are decided upon; the matter of indulgences is not considered important; the veneration of saints will, it is thought, be settled at the same time as the mass, for the veneration of saints that is to be allowed will be established together with the rest; and, in brief, the Pope's ministers have so little esteem for these points that even were they to be left unconsidered the Council would be proclaimed finished for all that as soon as the sacraments and above-mentioned points were disposed of.
This much granted—and we know it to be true through information we have acquired about his Holiness' ministers' secret deliberations,—the fact must be faced that when the sacraments are done with, all hope of a reformation vanishes. Even though more sessions were to be held to discuss the aforesaid remaining questions, it would be done more as a matter of form, than because the prelates thought it necessary; and whenever they were pressed to bestir themselves and reform the Church they would excuse themselves by saying that the Council was finished, or would go away and break it up as if all were over; for they are of opinion that the problems that remain unsettled are not of sufficient importance to call for more (sessions of the) Council.
Consequently your Majesty only has as much time as separates us from the second session to think over what had best be done in this matter.
The objects of the Council fall under two heads: first, dogma, and second, reformation. As to the first, it is to be considered whether, if questions of dogma are settled without the intervention of the Protestants, it will produce the desired result. By this I mean, if a definite settlement is arrived at; for as long as dogma is being discussed the Protestants may nourish hopes of being heard, but when discussion is closed they will lose all hope.
As for the second point, it is to be considered whether the decisions on points of dogma will be heeded in Germany unless they lead the way for an exemplary reformation.
We must now take it for granted that there is no longer any hope of such a reformation; for the two roads by which it might have been approached are closed. The first road is the Pope; and we understand that in no event will he consent to any important reform if it deprives him of a jot of the rights he possesses in all sorts of Bulls and Briefs, especially where benefices are concerned, which is the principal point for reform; and he will not have it touched or mentioned. The second road would be for the prelates themselves to insist on a proper reformation, and it is impracticable; for if the pressure necessary in order to get anything done were brought to bear there would be a mighty and general scandal; and I am certain that if they found no other means of escape they would wreck the whole undertaking. It seems, and there is reason to suspect, that they are making preparations against such a possibility; for we have heard that thirty prelates are coming from Rome at the Legate's request, and if this is true they will have enough votes, counting those that are here now, to form a majority and do as they please.
Thus, when the Council ends, everything that concerns dogma will have been thoroughly dealt with, and no reformation worth mentioning will have been achieved to remove any of the scandals that have produced the actual dissensions dividing the Church.
It must be remembered that there will be little or no hope of another Council; for it has never been the custom to call together another just after one has been celebrated, especially on the same questions. Also, the difficulty presented by the convocation of this one will show how arduous it would be to convoke another.
Consequently it must be considered that this will be the last Council for many years. Above all, it must be asked whether, if the Council is going to be celebrated in the manner here indicated—and of that there can be no doubt—there remains any hope of the result your Majesty is aiming at, and constantly has aimed at throughout all the toil this matter has cost you.
If it is to be hoped that the Council celebrated in this way will yield any result, especially in German affairs, for the sake of which, mainly, it was called together, then its present manner of procedure is sufficient, for the principal object would be achieved. As far as the rest is concerned, we could go on happily trying to remedy the state of other provinces by means of a reformation; though great difficulties crop up here because of the doubts, and suspicious frame of mind of the prelates. But still, Germany is the main point, and at present it is of importance that we proceed without alarming or offending the Pope; so we would do as best we might.
But if no result is to be anticipated from the Council celebrated in this way, as the Electors expressly assert, as your Majesty affirms in some of your letters, and as I remember to have always heard it asserted in your Majesty's Council, where all agreed that the decrees on questions of dogma and the like would never be accepted in Germany unless they were to precede an exemplary reformation such as should remove all scandals from Germany; then we must consider what ought to be done at this present moment, granted that no good is to be hoped for from the continuation and conclusion of the Council.
After this the advisability of suspending it must be considered; for it would be quite wrong to dissolve it and abandon its object, as that would mean robbing the world of the hope of remedy it has kept alive. Thus the first course alone would remain open; for we have seen that the undertaking in its present form will produce nothing, and that neither can that form be altered in the present circumstances, nor is there any time to consider such a step, as it has been granted that the Council is approaching its end. It should also be remembered that if the Council is suspended until a more favourable opportunity, hope of remedy remains, and it will be saved from dying an unnatural death or ending without affording the advantages that were expected of it. If the possibility of suspension were to be admitted, then the manner of achieving it would have to be investigated; and it would necessarily be after one of these three fashions. The first would be for your Majesty to ask the Pope to do it, sending someone to negotiate it with him with the pretext of the Electors' determination to go home and other troubles in Christendom. (fn. 2) The second would be for the Pope to ask your Majesty to do it for the same reasons, which might perhaps be arranged from here because of the Legate's extreme desire to see himself well out of the whole business. The third would be for the Council to suspend itself of its own accord.
Your Majesty may have various reasons for not wishing to make such a request to his Holiness; and there are also reasons that might make the second course difficult to follow, as his Holiness might not wish to father the proposal. Remains the third, according to which the synod should be moved by the aforesaid causes and by others that we would devise, to suspend the progress of the Council, for either a limited or an unlimited space of time; and I think this might easily be arranged here, perhaps even without waiting for more orders from his Holiness. It is certain that most of the learned, pious and religious prelates would welcome such a proposal.
Were this plan to be adopted, it would have to be considered whether the bishops who are here now, or a good many of them, had not better stay where they are. One or other of these alternatives would seem to be necessary; for as long as they are here the undertaking has roots, and another convocation would be greatly facilitated.
If this course were to be followed it would have to be done with all possible despatch, and in any case before the January session; for if that session is celebrated all hope of being heard in matters of import will be taken from the Protestants, because of the articles that are going to be published in it. No hope of seeing matters go better would remain after the principal points had been settled.
Were the suspension to be accomplished for this session, and were it necessary to consult his Holiness and await a reply, or were your Majesty to desire to put it forward, or were the synod unable to do it without consulting the Pope, then it would become necessary to prorogue this session for a time in order that the suspension might be effectuated before the session were celebrated. And this, I think, might easily be achieved.
Beyond all this it remains to be seen whether the best means of arranging the suspension would not be to let the Electors go, and then take their departure as a reason for suspending the Council. This would be the easiest way of all; for most of the bishops are of opinion that if the Electors go, Germany's authority is lacking in the Council, and the nation with it. After that, the bishops do not consider it would be well to continue the Council, for practically only one nation, the Spanish, would be properly represented; and they would not alter their opinion even were the Italians, who are expected, to arrive.
If, after having taken all these points into consideration, your Majesty thinks best to go on with the Council, it will be necessary to let me have a reply about the reformation. As far as I can see, no more can be done than to work hard and obtain what we are able to get without bringing pressure to bear upon, or frightening, the bishops. Though the difficulties will be enormous, it is the one and only thing to be done. In that case the Council will end very soon, as I have already said. Many a time have I thought over these matters, and have been irritated by persons of great learning, zeal and religion who have spoken to me about them here and blamed me heavily for not laying them before your Majesty; for they all agree that it would be better for the Church that the Council should be suspended, and that hope should remain of a better remedy than the present outlook offers.
After all this the drawbacks of a suspension ought to be enumerated, and they are many and of no small weight. But they cannot weigh as much as the conclusion of the Council without any result, and so I omit them for the sake of brevity, and also because there may be many considerations present in your Majesty's mind that are unknown here. Therefore I will content myself with having given an account of the state of the Council, and noted the points to be considered touching its continuation or suspension. Thus I will have done my duty, and your Majesty will signify your pleasure, which will be for the greater service of God and good of His Church. Above all, I beg your Majesty to accept the good-will and zeal with which this letter has been written, and excuse all errors and faults that may be found in it.
Trent, 25 December, 1551.
Copy. Spanish.
Dec. 25. Simancas, E. 646. Don Francisco de Toledo to the Emperor.
On receipt of your Majesty's letter of the 20th instant, together with those enclosed for the Electors, I went to see them and spoke as your Majesty commanded me. First, I gave Mayence the two letters that had come for him, and explained how inopportune you considered his departure, and how much you desired him to stay, his presence here being so necessary. The reason he gave for going, namely, unrest in Germany, became ineffective because your Majesty was reducing all things to order, and his state would come to no harm. Your Majesty hoped that matters would proceed even more smoothly with the arrival of Duke Maurice, who was expected to come to Court in a short time. I bade him think of what the world would say on seeing them (i.e. Mayence and Trier) leave the Council in its present condition after having come in so public a manner, and been so gladly welcomed by all here. I went on to blame him for all the trouble their departure might cause in the Council, and said everything I could think of to make him reconsider his decision. He replied that that very day he had received fresh news that the troops that were menacing his state had increased in numbers. Consequently the three (Electors) had met together,—and this is true, for I knew of it the same day,—and had made up their minds to notify your Majesty and represent to you how necessary it was that they should be present in their states. Mayence felt sure that your Majesty would agree that it was to your own advantage that no evil should overtake his state; and there was no other manner of avoiding it. He knew all about the steps your Majesty had taken to remedy the disorders, but was quite certain that they would not be sufficient to quell the present uproar; and he thought small good would result from Duke Maurice's coming, besides which he was sure the Duke would not come. This he assured me several times over, and went on to say that the forces now gathered together alarmed him no less than other occurrences of which he had received detailed and secret accounts. He was consequently obliged to be present in his state, and considered the same to be true of the other Electors, though Cologne was not persuaded as yet. Consequently, to avoid acting precipitately, he had decided to communicate with your Majesty, and await your reply here, after which they (the Electors) would settle on a course of action, in adopting which they could but put their own affairs first, in spite of all the blame that might fall upon them for going.
He answered all my objections with this last sentence; and all I was able to get out of him was that he would await your Majesty's reply. After that he again repeated to me that no good could come of the continuation and conclusion of the Council in the present circumstances, as far as Germany was concerned, for the reasons he had already given me on a former occasion. On the contrary, he believed that more trouble and confusion would beset your Majesty; for the Protestants might easily make terms with France in order to oppose the Council. His opinion therefore was that the cause of the Church, of Germany and your Majesty would be better served by suspending the Council before it went any further, and awaiting a more favourable opportunity for celebrating it. It would also be necessary to wait if a suitable reformation were to be effectuated; for he well knew that its present way of proceeding and the scant signs it gave of any desire to reform were quite enough to prevent the Council from being accepted in Germany, on the ground that it had issued none of the looked-for reformatory decrees. He ended by saying that his desire to do his duty towards your Majesty moved him to speak his mind to me. I replied that he was not doing his duty by telling me his opinions here, for I had no authority to make such representations to your Majesty, nor would I dare to do so in a sense so opposed to your intentions, and so much at variance with all the trouble you had taken to call the Council together and cause it to continue. Moreover, I differed from him in my view of this question and held a quite different opinion; so he had better write to your Majesty himself if he really meant what he said. As for the reformation, I was astonished that he had not spoken his mind about it when the question had come up in former sessions, and still more amazed should I be if he did not do so in the next, for his authority and the arguments he might use about the necessity for reform in Germany would certainly be of great weight. He replied that he did not think he ought to take this step of his own accord, for he would be taking much upon himself if your Majesty had not consulted him; and consequently he did not intend to do so now that he had told me what he thought. He would leave me to tell your Majesty as much as I thought fit; and he knew that nothing he could say would make any difference in the matter of reform, so it had seemed best to say nothing and avoid scandal at a time when scandal was dangerous.
I spoke to the Elector of Trier in the same sense, and he replied exactly, to the letter, as Mayence had done, without the slightest deviation except that he added that, apart from the reasons he had given for wishing to depart from this place, he had another private reason, namely the lack of health he constantly suffered here, as the air was bad for several of his complaints. I thanked Cologne on your Majesty's behalf for his good-will in all these matters, and he was deeply gratified, assuring me once more that he would not depart without your Majesty's special leave. Nevertheless he had that very day had news from his states which showed the perils that would menace them unless he went to look after them in person; and consequently he trusted that your Majesty would be pleased to allow him to return.
As I saw that all three Electors were awaiting your Majesty's reply before making up their minds, I did not say anything about their going to see you, as your Majesty mentioned in your letter. Besides, as I said in another of my letters, they have already promised me to do so if they depart; and the matter may be left until they are really going.
Trent, 25 December, 1551.
Signed. Spanish.
Dec. 27. Vienna, Imp. Arch.E. 19. Advices sent by Jehan Scheyfve.
Since the last proclamation on the currency they have been coining stooters, pence and ha'pence of about half their former value. This has been stopped; but when the new testoons came out a murmur arose among the people that the said testoons bore three bears' staffs (bastons d'ours) (fn. 3) instead of three lions. The blame for this was fastened on the Duke of Northumberland, because he bears the three staffs in his arms. When the Council heard about this they sought to calm all suspicions and prevent any greater trouble from ensuing by examining the masters and men who had struck the money, in the Duke of Northumberland's absence, to find out where the fault lay. They found that it was only a mistake, for the die had been broken and the lions were so disfigured that they looked like staffs. This looks even more suspicious than the other version; and it would be a strange way indeed of aspiring to the crown. In spite of all this and of the fact that the error was proclaimed to have come about in the above manner, the Council have as yet been unable to make the people believe it. We have heard from a good source that the Duke has conversed in secret about certain English prophecies according to which the King of England will not live long, adding that, were God to grant him life, he might perhaps not remember the great service his ministers have rendered him. It is also said that the same Northumberland is gathering together a great store of money, amounting to 200,000 or 300,000 angels.
As for the Duke of Somerset, the Earl of Arundel, Paget and the other prisoners, it is still believed that the whole affair will be put off until the next Parliament, which is to meet on January 25th; though others say that Somerset will obtain his pardon and be released before that. He is kept in less strict confinement now, and is not so closely watched as before, though he has been examined twice during the last few days, and certain other prisoners with him, as it appears. As on those occasions the Duke of Northumberland talked with him a long time, it seems that the Earl of Pembroke, the Marquis of Northampton and other of Northumberland's supporters considered the conversation so suspicious that the Earl of Pembroke was said to have somewhat fallen out with the Duke; though it is all smoothed over now. In any case Northumberland has lost not a little of his reputation, and it is believed his authority will diminish day by day because he has been unable to carry out his designs, though he has twice got as far as arresting and accusing the Duke of Somerset. It seems he is sorely puzzled at present, and does not know how all this is to end. Arundel has had another accusation brought against him, because when his furniture was searched certain books of the old religion were found there; he is ill, and not out of danger of death. My Lord Grey has received permission to walk about the Tower, because of his indisposition. The Lord Chancellor of England (Lord Rich) has given up his post, but is occupying it until a successor be appointed. The Bishop of Ely and others believe that the Chancellor asked to be relieved of his charge because of his continual illness; but others say he also fell under suspicion of having an understanding with Somerset, and that he would be in the Tower now were he not ill in bed. Tunstall, Bishop of Durham, who has been confined to his house for over a year, is now in the Tower. It is believed that they will deprive him of his bishopric, the land and manors belonging to which border on, and are conveniently placed to be applied to the duchy of Northumberland.
The German called Hans Fuchs, and others of whom we have heard, lately departed for Hamburg. His mission was to arrange a general union of the reformed churches of England, parts of Germany, and the German sea-board towns, the object of which should be to refuse to observe the Interim, in case the parties concerned were ever asked to do so, to reject all the General Council's decrees, and to draw up some league to offer combined resistance to all the Council's decisions and place every possible obstacle in your Majesty's path. It appears the said Fuchs had a very favourable answer, and will be back here soon.
It seems that the Council are about to abolish all the privileges of the stillyard merchants, who from now on are not to be allowed to freight cloth and other goods according to these privileges. They are giving as a reason certain abuses and frauds committed by the merchants, and that the Hanse towns are no longer free as they used to be. It all began with confiscation of Englishmen's goods made in northern Germany for similar abuses. The London merchants, who are trying to get all the trade into their own hands, especially now that the Council have need of them, are pressing the matter warmly. It is thought the stillyard merchants will not come out of it without very heavy expenses, at the least.
They say that the King of France is about to take a certain number of troops, foot as well as horse, out of Scotland, and that they are soon to embark and sail to France through the Irish Channel. They are to be under the command of the Earl of Bothwell, a renegade Scot, who has long lived in England. As far as we are able to ascertain, it seems that several English gentlemen are preparing to go over to France early next season.
Cipher. French.
Dec. 29. Simancas, E. 646. Don Francisco de Toledo to the Emperor.
I am waiting for an answer from your Majesty to what I wrote to you about the reformation and other questions; for the session is approaching, there remains much to be done in the short time we have left, and it is absolutely necessary for me to know your Majesty's will regarding the matter I touched on in my letter, in order that I may make preparations for action in time. If this is deferred, and if everything has to be settled while the last points of dogma are being discussed, the one affair will hinder the other to the disadvantage and loss of reputation of the Council, as was seen in the last session. I am so much afraid that we shall lack time in this next session, that I have arranged with the Legate that the doctrine, which is the main difficulty, shall be ordained by the doctors of theology with all possible despatch and care, so that when the deputies meet to do their part, they may have the doctrine presented to them properly drawn up. They may then examine and emend it, and not have to waste time in ordaining it from the beginning. This has been in progress for three days past; for the President of Verona, the Dean of Louvain and another of his colleagues, the Provincial Fray Bartolomé de Miranda, Fray Melchor Cano and Doctor Olabe have all been at work with suitable diligence. As soon as they have concluded they will consult with the Cologne doctors in order that the fruit of their labours may be presented to the deputies with the approval of all. Besides giving great satisfaction to everybody, this will obviate the unfortunate occurrences of last session, and will save much time; but all this will not be enough to overcome the great difficulties that, as I wrote, will arise in the other matters, unless we soon receive your Majesty's full instructions.
The Legate told me to-day that he had received a reply to the letter he wrote to his Holiness about the Electors' departure. His Holiness informs him that he is sending Camayano with Briefs for all three of them, and orders him to speak with them and persuade them by all means in his power not to depart whatever happens. Moreover, the Legate told me that Camayano would go on to your Majesty to inform you of the reply his Holiness had received from the King of France on Legate Veraldo's communication. Though he can know no details until Camayano, who is expected to-day or to-morrow, arrives, they have written to him that the King proclaims that he desires peace, and proposes it to his Holiness, and also offers to send his prelates to the Council.
President Pighino, who had been summoned by the Legate to come by the post, was with the Elector of Mayence yesterday to find out his intentions about going away. Pighino tried his best to persuade him to abandon all thoughts of doing so, and when he had talked a long time, the Elector replied that he was receiving fresh news of unrest in Germany every day, and that there was trouble afoot near his state. Consequently the need of his presence there was growing ever greater, and he ardently desired to see some reply to what he had written to your Majesty. He complained a little of the delay, saying he was waiting for your answer to make up his mind. Besides all the rest, he added, he considered this Council's continuation to be useless, adducing all the reasons he gave me and I wrote to your Majesty. He went on to say that unless something were done to satisfy the Protestants in the matters of communion in both kinds, the marriage of priests, and the Church property which they had taken, and unless some agreement were reached on these questions, they were all wasting time here in whatever they did. This last point he has just excogitated; for he has never said a word to me about it.
Trent, 29 December, 1551.
Copy. Spanish.
Dec. 30. Simancas, E. 646. Don Francisco de Toledo to the Emperor.
After I had written what I had heard from the Legate about Camayano's coming by a special messenger whom I sent to your Majesty yesterday, the Electors of Mayence and Trier received many letters from their states, in which,, as it immediately became known, it was stated that the troubles in those parts had assumed a more serious aspect, so that their states were in danger. To-day before dinner the three Electors met in the house of Trier, who was the most excited of the three over the news that had arrived. After they had been a long time together, Mayence and Trier sent word to the Legate that they wished to go and speak with him at once, and hear what his Holiness had replied to the letter written by the Legate on their behalf; for as they heard he had received a despatch they supposed his Holiness' reply had arrived. The Legate replied that he was expecting Camayano, his Holiness' chamberlain, who had been instructed to give them the reply and speak to them on his Holiness' behalf; and until he came the Legate had nothing to say. About an hour afterwards Camayano arrived, and as the Legate had told me all about his instructions, it seemed to me best that Camayano should go at once to speak to the Electors in accordance with his commission; for I had heard that the conference had been held in Trier's house to determine their departure and try to induce Cologne to do the same. So Camayano went to Mayence's house, gave him his Brief, and spoke to him on his Holiness' behalf. Mayence was unwilling to answer him in the Legate's absence, so they went off to the Legate's house, taking Trier with them. When the Legate had spoken once more on his Holiness' behalf—for the Brief was also addressed to the Legate—and many other matters had been discussed, the Electors decided that they could no longer defer their departure, which had become necessary because of fresh news they had received of unrest in Germany. As much for this reason as because they held the continuation of the Council to be useless, for the reasons they had already given many times over, they had decided to depart immediately; for they had done their duty towards his Holiness by asking his leave, and in the same way towards your Majesty, though they had not received a reply. The Legate replied and begged them to await your Majesty's answer, as they had promised him and me; but they rejoined that they had already waited many days, and as your Majesty had not written they considered themselves free of all obligations. So they remained determined to go soon; and from what the Legate sent to tell me, and Camayano has just said to me, they expressed an intention of departing tomorrow or the day after. I have been unable to hold speech with them since they were with the Legate, because they came out at night and immediately shut themselves up, sending to excuse themselves to me, for I had an appointment to talk with them after they had finished with the Legate. Count de Montfort was also unable to speak with them; and he had been running after them all day. Early to-morrow morning, if they give me time, I will do what I can, and if there is no way of stopping their going, I will ask them to go straight to your Majesty.
I sent to the Elector of Cologne to-day to find out what he intended to do, and he replied confirming what he has always said, namely that he will not go without your Majesty's leave, though they say his presence is as badly needed as Mayence's. I thought I had better let your Majesty know of the latest development of this affair, although Camayano is leaving for your Court early to-morrow morning, because this despatch may possibly arrive before he does.
Trent, 30 December, 1551.
Copy. Spanish.
Dec. —. (fn. 4) Vienna, Imp. Arch.E. Varia 4. Jehan Scheyfve to the Lady Mary.
I have received through my man the copy of the Council's letters, together with a draft for your Majesty's (sic) reply. The Council's letters sound very bitter and strange to me, but my humble opinion is that they are trying to test your Majesty by fire and water, and lure you out into the open to see whether they can provoke you to cast aside restraint. By these means they hope to find out all that your Majesty might hereafter advance for your defence. The worst of it is that they are seeking to lay a snare for your Grace in the passages respecting the Crown and obedience, though your prudence and discretion were aware of this before I had noticed it, as your draft, which handles the matter in such a way as to damp their hopes, shows. It seems to me that your Majesty is wise to avoid entering into any argument, and stick to the question, although I am sure your Majesty would be able to reply very pertinently if need were to arise.
I have glanced at the draft and am of opinion, subject to your Majesty's correction, that the excuse for not going into more details, with which it opens, is excellent.
As for the promise made to the Emperor and your Majesty, I would abide by it saying that you always had understood, and still did understand it to have been general, applying to the practice by yourself and your household of the old religion in which the King, your father, left you. You hope that they will leave you in its observance at least until the King, your brother, comes of age, for you trust that then he will respect you as his humble and obedient sister, and refrain from forcing you to do violence to your conscience. I would not mention any particular time in connexion with the promise, but rather take the ground that it has been made at several different times and places. I would also avoid mentioning what the Marquis of Northampton said to the late Van der Delft, or the charge given to the Lords Treasurer and Paget, for that would seem to belittle the importance of the promise and might show it in a light favourable to their assertion that it never was definitely granted. Your Majesty has every right not to be informed on these points, as they did not involve you, or of what afterwards passed between certain of the King's ministers and the late ambassador; and thus you may avoid the raising of objections on their side. For the same reason I would also let slide the article touching letters patent, as the Council have always refused them; and you might say you take it the promise will be operative without letters patent, which could only serve to bear witness to the granting of it, though their lack could never show that no promise had been given, for it exists independently of letters patent. I fear, Madam, that their way of frequently changing governments will make them more difficult to deal with.
As for what happened in the presence of the King, your brother, I would recall and repeat to them the confession uttered by the Treasurer in presence of the two marquises and other members of the Council, though without naming them, and that on the same occasion the King showed openly his satisfaction that your Majesty should continue in the old religion. At the same time I would avoid all mention of the King's affection for you, as it might put ideas into their head as to future happenings, and make them still angrier.
As for the point of breaking the law and being disobedient, I would say that as your conduct is shaped according to the promise, you cannot have offended in the past, and would on no account do so in the future, nor give the King, your brother, any cause for anger, for you hope that when his Majesty reaches riper years he will be satisfied with your behaviour.
Your faith, you might say, is not as singular as they term it, for it is held and observed by the greater part of Christendom, and is the faith of your ancestors in which you were brought up and left by your father. You do not believe that all your forbears were abused in this, and you trust God will grant you grace to follow them. I would omit the words: “until you, by your new laws and statutes had changed it” (sic).
As for the King's Majesty, you consider him your sovereign lord. But I would leave the phrase: “as it seems he is not” alone, for if you go so far it is to be feared they will say you are menacing them, or calling into question the King's authority, while a minor, or his Council's, especially where spiritual matters are concerned.
In consideration of the foregoing, you will say, Madam, that they have no reason for proceeding against your chaplains or troubling your Grace, and far less for demanding that you should hand them over to the sheriff and officers, supposing that they were in your house. You consequently hope that they will allow you to benefit by their promise without further molesting your servants and chaplains.
I have already told your Majesty that if, in spite of your letters and excuses, the King or Council send a mayor or sheriff to you to arrest your chaplains or one of them—though I believe they are not at present in your house—and the sheriff produces his warrant, your Grace cannot and must not resist, though you may say that you had hoped your reply to the Council might have deterred them from troubling your chaplains, especially in your very house. It is, however, not at all necessary for your Majesty to assist the sheriff or cause any help to be given him by your servants in seizing your ministers, for that would be unseemly and unworthy in your Majesty, as you will be able to advance afterwards by way of explanation.
Your Majesty will pardon my boldness in writing to you so frankly, for I am moved only by zeal, and do so subject to correction, with the hope of forestalling all calumnious and sinister interpretations the Council might put upon your Majesty's words. They appear to have evil intentions, wherefore we shall do well to keep our eyes open and temporise, which appears to be the view of the matter taken by his Imperial Majesty and the Queen, whose authority emboldens me to do my duty. Therefore it seemed to me right to tell you that your first letters (i.e. draft) were a little too sharp in tone, though all I say is subject to your Majesty's correction.
French. Copy. Cipher.


  • 1. Juan de Arteaga was Corregidor of the Cuatro Villas.
  • 2. For instance, the war between France and the Empire.
  • 3. The rumour was that the new coin bore the bear and ragged staff, Warwick the King-maker's badge, which had been adopted by Northumberland. It was whispered that the new coin had been struck at Dudley Castle; but the story seems to have been quite false.
  • 4. This paper bears no date, either of year, month or day, but the context places it in the last days of December, 1551, or possibly the first of January, 1552.