Spain: January 1552, 1-15

Pages 430-443

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

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January 1552, 1–15

Jan. 1. Brussels, L.A. 50. Order in the Council of Flanders.
The contents of two petitions, one presented by Richard Brian and Thomas Cook on their own account and as factors of William Chester, residing at Calais, and the other by Christopher Patrick, an English merchant, have been laid before her Majesty. (fn. 1) The answer was negative as far as the caution which they demand to have refunded to them goes; but her Majesty said she would write to the Admiralty at Dunkirk, where the cases are pending, to bring them to a conclusion without delay. She would also issue orders that the petitioners, on depositing sufficient caution with the representatives of the Admiralty at the place where the sentence should be executed, should be allowed to take away their merchandise mentioned in the said petitions, and sell it to their advantage, provided they did so in the Low Countries and not elsewhere, to which condition the caution should also be subject. The said caution should therefore be forfeited if the petitioners were to sell the goods elsewhere, or if it were afterwards to be decided in the courts that the prize was lawfully taken.
Bruges, 1 January, 1552.
Minute. French.
Jan. 5. Simancas, E. 877. The Emperor to Don Francisco de Toledo.
We have received all your letters down to the last one of the 30th of last month, and we greatly appreciate the zeal and diligence you have used with the Electors. We request you to continue to act with all your accustomed dexterity and tact if there is yet time; for you understand how unfortunate it (i.e. the Electors' departure from Trent) would be at the present moment. If they are still set on going, when they come here they shall be told and made to understand what is needful. We doubt not that Cologne's excellent disposition and desire to serve us will make him willing to fill the gap left by the others; and you will thank him once more on our behalf, letting him know that we will have the greatest care for his interests, and that disquiet in Germany shall be dealt with in such a way that his state shall receive no hurt.
We have seen and considered all you have written about the reformation. This Council was called together not merely to cope with points of dogma, for these had already been settled by many other Councils, but in order to achieve a proper reformation, so that the Protestants might no longer be able to persevere in their errors with the excuse of abuses (in the Church). It is clear, therefore, that if this Council is concluded without a reformation being effectuated in the matters that need it most in order to satisfy and convince those who have strayed from the fold, and also the pious Catholics who are expecting it, the object aimed at by this holy undertaking will not have been achieved. We have proceeded very gently in this matter up to the present, hoping that more prelates would attend the Council, and that it would acquire greater authority; and in order not to alarm his Holiness and his Legate, we have only reminded them that reform is most urgently needed to-day in the Church, above all for the purpose of bringing back the erring Germans to the fold, as the lack of it has been and is the principal foundation of their opinions and errors. But now that the Council is so far advanced that it would not be reasonable to hope it might ever gain greater numbers and authority, we are certainly of opinion that the necessity is very pressing, and that we would be forgetting our dignity and duty if we did not do our very utmost to have this matter of reform taken in hand more seriously than in the past. To this we are moved as much by our duty towards God as by our desire to justify ourself before the world, and let it be seen that the point has not been neglected because we did not appear to trouble about it. We have consequently decided to write to his Holiness, and conferences have been held here with Legate Fano and with Camayano, who arrived at an opportune time, explaining to them with all respect, moderation and gentleness the need for reform that is felt in Christendom, and that the Council will do little good unless the important abuses that most require attention are corrected. For, if we are to go on beating about the bush (andando por las ramas) as we have done up to the present, we shall only cause derision and more scandal. Our friendship for his Holiness, and desire to see lustre added to his name by the achievement during his pontificate of so holy, necessary and august an undertaking, cause us to insist upon this point, and take, with the respect due to the authority of the Holy See, such steps as we know to be more than necessary in the present condition of affairs, and especially when the state of mind of the inhabitants of this province is taken into consideration. His Holiness, with his great wisdom and long experience, will be able to appreciate this without our entering here into the compelling reasons and self-evident arguments that might be advanced, or into the grave difficulties that might attend any other course. We shall also write to the cardinals in Rome who have been appointed to deal with these questions, so that each one of them may work for us and exhort his Holiness to agree to so just, pious and necessary a step. We desire you to speak in the same sense to Legate Crescenzio and the presidents, persuading them to do what they can and lend us their support. Point out to the Legate how signal a service he will render to Our Lord, and that perpetual glory will be his reward for having been the instrument of so great and righteous a triumph. Obtain the assistance of the three Electors and of any other German prelates you may think likely to help; for the fact that the main object of the reformation is to bring Germany back into the Church's keeping, failing which it is clear for the above-mentioned reasons that whatever else may be done in the Council will be useless, will render their authority all the more valuable. It seems to us that it would be most advantageous to prevail upon the Electors to write to his Holiness persuading him to give his consent; and therefore we are sending you the three enclosed letters for them as credentials for you and Count de Montfort, whom you shall instruct to speak to them on our behalf with so much vehemence, warmth and feeling that they may write, with all the necessary fervour and zeal, to his Holiness.
If, after trying all the above-mentioned expedients, we see that we are unable to achieve more than before, as is to be feared because of the absorption in their private interests that characterises the people in Rome and the love of gain that causes them to hate the very idea of any reformation that should deal, as deal it must to be useful, with dispensations, benefices and other points, the abuse of which gives great offence to the faithful, then we shall have to set the prelates who are now gathered together (at Trent) to work. Though, as you know, we have rather held them back up to the present, we would then urge them to put forward in the Council such articles as we know to be requisite, as well for the general government of Christendom as for the administration of each particular parish. Thus we shall do our duty towards God, and justify ourselves in His sight; and the world shall clearly see that when the Legate told you we had pledged our word not to press for reform except with his Holiness' approval, he was making a mistake and saying something untrue; which is a very important point, and wholly characteristic of that crafty individual. According to what you write it seems best for the moment to say nothing more about it; for what really happened was this: When we were trying to urge the necessity for reform during Pope Paul Ill's lifetime, and his Holiness and his ministers intimated that they would like to carry it out in Rome—and indeed some beginnings were made—we replied that we should be very glad to see it done with such satisfactory results that the Council should only have to give it its approval.
The Legate is also wrong in saying that the Spanish prelates are advancing their own private demands; for if the matter is properly examined it will be seen that most of the objects they have in view are concerned with the welfare of Christendom in general. In order that this may be quite clear, and that nobody may say that the Spaniards alone want a reformation, it would be well to choose the deputies who are to manage the matter and make the proposals from all the nations; for they are to work together for the universal welfare of all Christendom.
The Electors, being persons of authority and well-informed as to the state of mind of the Germans, must certainly do their share, of which you may remind them, asking them on our behalf to draw up a memorial of such matters as appear to them to require reform, and to have caused the Protestants to wander from the fold and repudiate the authority of the holy see. Nonetheless, you must be careful not to make the Pope or his ministers angry by setting forth all the abuses at once, but bring them out at the most opportune moment, and gradually improving the openings offered by the questions under discussion.
As the Legate's letters to Fano and ourself show that he is trying to clear himself of all imputations by saying that he is in favour of reform, and is now occupied in devising reasonable means, you may look for a suitable occasion to tell him that we are asking for nothing else ourself. In our efforts to achieve the objects we have in view, we shall follow the precepts and institutions of (former) Councils and ancient canons, which are the true foundation of all reasoning; and thus all things may be ordered in the manner we desire, and that is so necessary for the preservation of our faith.
While all the above matters are being seen to, as there will not be time to have everything properly done in this next session, you will endeavour, by such means as may recommend themselves to you and with all possible deference and gentleness, to prevent the Council from issuing any decrees on points of dogma without also publishing some reforms, by arranging that at least two points be dealt with in this session. These points had better be exemptions and benefices; and try to obtain as much as you can in connexion with them. It would be a great thing if it could be settled that livings should be in the gift of some family (patrimoniales), or at any rate that the persons appointed must possess certain attainments, and must reside in their parishes; for this is the chief point. Livings must not be burdened with pensions, and it ought to be provided that, if the incumbents do not enter into residence within a certain time, the bishops shall be able to appoint others; for thus we may see to it that parishes be properly served. Inquire whether it would not be well that, just as certain theologians have been deputed to examine points of dogma, doctors of great reputation should look into the matters that are to be proposed for reform, so that afterwards the prelates may have well-grounded reasons for insisting on those measures that shall seem best calculated for the good government of churches and the abolition of abuses.
As the manner in which the Legate reproved the Bishop of Verdun is at variance with the liberty the Council ought to enjoy, though you have already spoken to him, you will do well to do so again on our behalf, exhorting him to remember that the prelates are moved to speak as they do by their zeal and sense of duty. He might well devise means of addressing some fraternal reprehension to them if they exceed the limits of moderation and respect, but without offending and alarming them. To do otherwise is to infringe the Council's liberty, and to give the Germans just cause for alarm; and the worst of it is that the Legate is always on the look-out for some trivial excuse for making trouble.
As for the conversations you have recently held with the Elector of Mayence, in which he expressed the opinion that, as the Council was doomed to failure for reasons connected with the war and its own neglect of reform, it would be better to suspend it, we have conferred on the question here; but it does not seem prudent that you should take any action in the matter nor that anything should be done by us for the present. If it is true, for our sins, that the Council will not yield the necessary and desired fruit, then it is greatly to be preferred, and more creditable in us, to allow his Holiness to take the blame because of his unreasonableness. If the responsibility could be put down to us, it would not only delight the erring, who would seize upon the excuse for persevering in their errors, but also drive the Catholics into despair when they saw their last hope, which has cost us all so much, vanish into smoke.
The falsity committed in altering that clause, though it has done no essential harm to the faith nor had any direct effect, was nonetheless an enormity deserving of severe reprobation; it showed the Legate's evil intentions, for it is obvious that the notary would never have committed such a piece of villainy without the Legate's authority and orders. We have discussed this matter and thought over what demonstration had better be made, and we consider you to be right when you say that it is so weighty that more harm than good might be done by bringing it forward. Besides, the absolute denial in which the Legate and other deputies except the Spaniards would persist, would render proof difficult; and the result would be to discredit all the Council's decrees and give the Germans some show of reason for asserting that similar collusions have been committed in the rest. So, though it offend the Holy Ghost, it seems to us that it is best to dissimulate for the present, and reserve it for a better occasion, keeping it secret, as you suggest; and thus we can keep our foot on the Legate's neck. If you were to speak to him about it now, either on our behalf or confidentially as if of your own accord, we may be sure that the Legate, who is crafty and has a full share of human prudence, would make a mighty uproar and insist on a full investigation, which would expose us to the aforesaid dangers attending publication. You may imagine how sorry his Holiness and the Legate would be, for we may piously believe that they would both be delighted to see any decrease of the reputation enjoyed by this and former Councils in favour of the papal authority, on which the pontiffs always have an eye. As we know there is not enough time to dispose of the point in a satisfactory manner, we prefer to adopt the other course, and hope to be able to take sufficient precautions to prevent the recurrence of similar incidents, taking great care to keep it out of the Legate's or the notary's power to commit more forgeries in matters that might chance to be of greater importance.
We are writing to you and your colleagues the reasons for which we think no difficulties had better be put in the way of the admission of the procurators from Württemberg, Strassburg and the other places, so we will only ask you here to do all you can to find out what their instructions are and let us know, for then we shall be able to deduce their intentions.
Innsbruck, 5 January, 1552.
Spanish. Signed. Countersigned Vargas.
Jan. 14. Vienna, Imp. Arch.E. 19. Jehan Scheyfve to the Emperor.
Sire: Having heard that the ambassadors of France and Venice had gone to Court to salute the King on the occasion of the new year, I thought it suitable that I should do the same. So I went to see his Majesty and told him, in the first place, that I was very glad to see him so well. I knew very well that your Majesty would be rejoiced to hear of his excellent health, because of the singular affection you bore him. I myself would pray God to grant his Majesty happiness and prosperity in all his virtuous designs.
At this the King suddenly asked me how your Majesty was. I replied that according to the latest news you were very well, much better,—God be praised!—than usual; for your gout was leaving you little by little, whilst with other folk it usually did exactly the opposite. He smiled and went on to ask me where your Majesty was. I answered “at Innsbruck”; and when he asked me whether you intended to stay there long, I said I had not been advised of any intention on your Majesty's part of going away, and I supposed that this depended upon your affairs. At that moment Sire, some games were started, and, as I saw the King standing back to look at them, I took leave of his Majesty, and spoke to my lords of the Council, who asked me to come to dine with his Majesty on the following Sunday, which I did.
On that day, when we had finished dinner, and after the King had carried on some small conversation with me, it seemed for several reasons that the occasion was a propitious one for me to speak to him a little about the Lady Mary, Princess of England. One reason was that it is widely believed that a general reformation in religious matters is to be made by the next Parliament, and that great and even capital penalties are to be instituted for those who shall transgress the ordinances that are to be passed. So, Sire, fearing that they might intend to force the Princess to obey the said ordinances, I began by reminding the King that your Majesty had always most cordially recommended her Grace to him and his ministers. Not that you had any doubt but that they would treat and respect her as a king's sister and a person of her virtues and qualities deserved, even had you not so recommended her; but your great affection for her. and the fact that she was so near a relative of yours, caused you to continue to recommend her with all possible warmth both as far as the observance of her religion was concerned and in other respects. As the King and his ministers had always shown great affection for the Princess, your Majesty had hoped they would allow her to continue in the old religion, especially because a promise had been made to that effect to your Majesty and the lady herself.
The King gave me a bare reply, as he had been instructed to do, repeating the Council's old objections to the effect that your Majesty insisted on the strictest observance of your statutes and ordinances on religion in your dominions, and he, as King of England, intended to do the same here; adding that no member of his Council knew anything about a promise given to your Majesty, for even Lord Paget, who was said to have given it, denied it flatly.
I answered, Sire, that your Majesty considered it most reasonable that the King's statutes and ordinances should strictly be observed in his kingdom. However, considering that the Princess was his very humble sister and a near relative of your Majesty, you thought she might be allowed this prerogative, which she had hitherto used moderately and without any scandal. I could but declare, I added, that the last time Paget was at your Majesty's Court, you had cordially recommended the Princess to the King and Council, particularly in connexion with her religion, requesting that she might be allowed to continue in its observance at least until the King should have reached maturer years. Paget took it upon himself to report this in the proper quarter; and after the Council had conferred on it, a declaration was made on behalf of the King and Council to my predecessor, Van der Delft, to the effect that, to gratify your Majesty and out of respect for the lady, she should be allowed to practise the old religion as she had done in the past. And the said ambassador had informed your Majesty of this reply.
The King replied that it would be against his conscience to allow the lady to observe the old religion, but in other matters he would treat her favourably, as a good sister. He repeated that his ministers knew nothing about the said promise.
I told him that it was also against the lady's conscience not to be able to continue in the religion in which she had been brought up since childhood and left by the late King, her father, who, both he and his predecessors, had always considered it to be the true and holy faith. Consequently, the lady could but be sorely troubled and at war with her conscience, which might easily aggravate her usual indisposition. I felt sure that the King did not desire to endanger her health, for he had proved the contrary on other occasions. A short time after the promise had been given the lady had visited the King, and the Council had then admitted that the promise was made as said above, in consideration of which the King had allowed her to continue in her religion. To this he only answered that he remembered no such admission, adding that he did not wish to enter into any discussion with me on religion, and if I had anything further to say I should go to his Council, by whom I saw clearly enough that he had been informed of the whole case. I rejoined that I would never think of forgetting my duty so far as to argue with his Majesty on religion; but I did desire to inform him exactly of what had happened in this matter, and could hardly do so without bringing in the religious question. I concluded my remarks by insisting on your Majesty's firm belief that he would treat the lady in all respects as his good sister deserved, and in accordance with your Majesty's recommendations; for you would be very sorry to see her using any other religion, especially as she was so obedient a subject to the King, and so anxious for the welfare of his kingdom, for which she constantly prayed God. The King said he was sure of that, and he would never fail to treat her kindly; upon which he got up to withdraw because of signs the Duke of Northumberland made to him; and he had kept his eye turned towards the Duke all the while. So I immediately took my leave. (fn. 2)
I carefully observed the King's face and manners, Sire, and he seems to be a likely lad of quick, ready and well-developed mind; remarkably so for his age. For this very reason he runs great dangers; but if he were well and conscientiously instructed he would become a very noteworthy prince. Northumberland, whom he seems to love and fear, is beginning to grant him a great deal of freedom in order to dispel the hostility felt for him (i.e. the Duke of Northumberland), and to cause the King to forget the Duke of Somerset as quickly as possible.
London, 14 January, 1552.
Signed. Cipher. French.
Jan. 14. Vienna, Imp. Arch.E. 19. Jehan Scheyfve to the Queen Dowager.
Madam: After writing my last letters of December 29th to your Majesty, I sent to the Council to demand an audience, which was deferred until the 8th instant because of the jousts and other sports that were being held at Greenwich. When we met I exposed to them, as your Majesty had ordered me, that the English Court-Master resident at Antwerp had petitioned your Majesty that the English might be exempt from a (tax of) one-half per cent. that had recently been imposed, with the consent of the Flemish merchants, on all goods and merchandise entering or leaving the country. The Court-Master based his demand on the argument that to demand payment of the one-half per cent. from the English was a breach of the Commercial Convention existing between the two princes, and now requested the return of a caution that certain English merchants had been obliged to deposit in case they should be found to be bound to pay. Your Majesty, I said, had caused this matter to be carefully examined in Council, where it had been found that the merchants, subjects of the Emperor, who frequented England daily made bitter complaints that they were forced to pay several new taxes in defiance of the Commercial Convention. Nonetheless, remonstrances and petitions against this state of things had been made on your Majesty's behalf by my late predecessor, Van der Delft, and myself, with the object of obtaining a new conference to abolish recent impositions, about which no final decision had been arrived at in the conferences of Bourbourg and Gravelines, and also those that had been levied since the said conferences. This was only just; for the English commissioners themselves had confessed that these taxes were being wrongly imposed on the Emperor's subjects, and were a violation of the Commercial Convention. I had hoped that all grievances and complaints might thus be disposed of, and that subjects of both princes might henceforth deal and negotiate in peace and quiet; but our trouble and pains had been vain, for all questions of detail had been delayed, and the main grievance had received no attention. In order that the Council might see with what royal liberality your Majesty was proceeding, and that you had no intention of taking the above-mentioned extortions as a pretext for taxing English subjects, you had handed to the Court-Master a writing in which certain of the recent English exactions were stated, together with a declaration to the effect that you would allow the English merchants to freight as much merchandise as they chose for England, under the above-mentioned caution, and refund the caution itself that had been given on account of the tax of one-half per cent., on condition that the English would cease levying their new impositions within three months. When this had been done, your Majesty would see to their exemption from the one-half per cent. in conformity with the provisions of the Commercial Convention. This reply seemed just and reasonable to the Court-Master, who accepted the writing; but afterwards he changed his mind and declared himself unwilling to take the responsibility of laying the matter before the Council, as it was really the ambassador's duty to do so. He had only come to your Majesty, at the merchants' request, to solicit on their behalf for their exemption from the one-half per cent. It had been answered that he had raised the question first, basing his arguments on infractions of the Convention committed in Flanders, whereas it had been demonstrated that the English themselves did not follow the Convention. Your Majesty had given evident proof of your intention to be bound by it as long as the English would do the same; and it was reasonable to insist upon equality being observed in this. I assured them, Madam, that the Emperor's and your Majesty's intentions were not merely to have the Convention observed, but also the treaties in the strictest manner; and that you trusted the English Council would do the same, especially in the matter of putting a stop to the new impositions, of which his Imperial Majesty's merchant subjects incessantly complained.
After they had listened to the above, Secretary Cecil said that he did not know the English Court-Master resident at Antwerp. He well knew that the English merchants were accustomed to have a governor, who was not a deputy or minister of the King, their master; but the Council had as yet heard nothing about this matter from him or their ambassador. If the said governor had complained to your Majesty about it he had been quite wrong in doing so, for the ordinance on the one-half per cent. could have nothing to do with the English, and therefore there was no reason for asking to be exempt.
I replied that we were in the habit of calling the person whom he christened “governor,” Court-Master, as he was chief of the Court and nation of England (in Antwerp). I supposed that he had gone to your Majesty because the ordinances were general and his Imperial Majesty's officers had refused to allow merchandise freighted for England to pass without paying the one-half per cent.
The councillors retorted that English subjects ought not to be included with the rest, because the Convention forbade it. I replied that the same argument might be advanced as to the rights of his Imperial Majesty's subjects trading in England; and yet they had been obliged to meet impositions far heavier than the one-half per cent., which was only a temporary tax.
They said it could not be proved that any new impositions had been exacted from his Majesty's subjects in violation of the Convention and treaties. I rejoined that their number was endless, as had come out during the conferences at Bourbourg and Gravelines, where the English commissioners themselves had admitted that several taxes were unlawful, as was set forth in the writing given to the said governor, of which I showed them a copy.
They suddenly raised the objection that these were old quarrels, and ought not to be brought up in connexion with the present matter; for if his Majesty's subjects were made to pay anything beyond what was allowed by the Convention, the fault lay with the officers, who had acted without the knowledge or approval of the King or his Council.
I then informed them that his Majesty's subjects were being more and more heavily taxed every day, for the officers never ceased gathering the old taxes and inventing new ones. If these were old quarrels, they were all the more insufferable, especially as the English themselves had confessed that these impositions were prohibited by the Convention. If the blame lay with the officers, it was nonetheless the duty of the King and his Council to see to it that his Majesty's subjects should not be oppressed and victimised in defiance of the Convention. And as this state of things was against the intentions of the King and his Council, I demanded an assurance to the effect that the officers should no longer exceed their functions in exacting payment of the said taxes. They replied that, as nothing had been determined or concluded at Bourbourg or Gravelines, nothing could be said about any decision. I retorted that an agreement had been arrived at on several points, especially those mentioned in the said writing, and though no absolute conclusion had been reached on the other complaints, it was certainly against the spirit of the treaty to exact from his Majesty's subjects taxes that the English commissioners had confessed to be wrong and unreasonable.
They then maintained that, at the conferences, they had also brought up several new exactions, contrary to the Convention and much heavier than those complained of by the Emperor's subjects, that had been admitted by our commissioners, and were still enforced. I replied that the English were made to pay no tax in Flanders that had not been levied for the last hundred years or more. After they had read the said copy, they said it was an important matter, and as no member of the Council had been present at the said conference, they would have the matter examined and give me a reply within a few days. (fn. 3) The Duke of Northumberland then said that for the sake of avoiding all these squabbles (garbouilles) he would prefer that the English should no longer go to Flanders, nor the Flemings come here; and the Privy Seal (John Russel, Earl of Bedford) put in that they asked nothing better than to take all their subjects away from Flanders, and if we intended to treat them in such manner we might as well take a stick and drive them out. The English would manage to find some corner to trade in, and we might stand in as great need of their goods as they of ours, or greater, for not much produce came to England from Flanders. And he ended by saying that he could remember a time when English subjects received very different treatment. Seeing them advancing so far, I reminded them that the two princes' predecessors and their ministers had found trade and intercourse between the two countries, and the continuation of the old alliance and friendly relations, to be greatly to the advantage of both, and that the said alliance had certainly not lasted so long without very great and urgent reasons. I assured them that his Imperial Majesty and your Majesty desired to contribute to the maintenance of friendly relations to the best of your power, believing that the King of England would do the same, and that his ministers would also be watchful in the cause. I saw no reason whatsoever for asserting that their subjects were being driven out of Flanders, for they received treatment quite as favourable, or more so, than that accorded to his Majesty's own subjects; and consequently they had no cause to look for another mart to trade in. I added that when such changes were made all sorts of difficulties and drawbacks, that did not appear at a first glance, were often revealed with time and experience. I freely admitted that all the goods freighted in Flanders were not of Flemish production, because of the great variety of merchandise that came thither, but it seemed to me to be a great convenience for their subjects to have a market so near home. Going back to their remarks to the effect that their subjects were being driven out of Flanders, our people here were making daily complaints that they could no longer endure the new impositions, tyranny and obstacles that were increasing from day to day, especially now that the very essence of commerce, that is to say the right to exchange money, had been taken away from them; for that point alone was enough to destroy all possibility of trade. In the same connexion I desired to point out to them that, if the ordinance forbidding the exchange of money were maintained, it would be practically the same as to suppress all intercourse and drive our subjects away; for it was well-known that the recent placards did not allow all sorts of goods, and particularly food-stuffs, to be exported from England, in spite of which the Council maintained that the merchant who brought his goods to England ought to put the money received for them into other merchandise. Then, returning to the first point, namely that the merchant was not allowed to exchange his money, although this right was granted him by the Convention and the Bourbourg conference, trade was made impossible for him, wherefore our people had more cause for complaint than the English, who were allowed to exchange their money (in Flanders) and freight all sorts of goods that were not contraband, as long as they did not infringe the Convention.
They told me that they had an old law that forbade money-exchange. I answered that it might be that formerly, for some very urgent reason, that law had been introduced and enforced, but to apply it now in the present circumstances, when trade entirely depended upon exchange, was to cut off and extinguish all intercourse between the two countries.
After that, Madam, the Duke of Northumberland said that he would take the opportunity of remarking that the English appeared to be less highly esteemed than they had been when the Emperor's forefathers were only kings, dukes and counts, and that they had then taken a larger share in affairs than they did now that his Majesty's fortunes were so high. I replied that it was true that all his Majesty's ancestors had not been emperors; but those whom the Divine Grace had placed in that lofty seat, above all his Majesty, had behaved most virtuously and afforded most excellent examples of conduct, never failing to do their duty where treaties or anything else were concerned. Had other princes been so successful, they might not have acted in the same way. The more powerful his Imperial Majesty became, the more he did for his allies, of whom he was always mindful, as he had proved in the past where the English were concerned, wherefore I hoped that they would correspond. The Duke only replied that he hoped his Majesty desired to continue the old friendship, for the Council knew that the two countries needed one another. I assured him that his Majesty did desire to do so.
At the same meeting I reminded them of my former complaints that three or four French men-of-war put in to Margate now and then, to lay in wait for and pillage the Emperor's subjects' vessels entering or leaving the Thames. Now they had gone ashore and seized some boats belonging to the Emperor's subjects; and the Frenchmen were supported and caressed by the inhabitants of the place, for they had sold their booty taken from the said subjects to some of the King's officers and other Englishmen. Moreover, one of the King's pinnaces was now at sea, and usually stood off Margate, boarding every vessel belonging to the said subjects that went by, and holding them up until the Frenchmen could make ready to attack. This was a strange way of observing the treaties between the two princes, which they had often assured me they would always respect, so I now requested them again to remedy the matter in such a way that I should not be obliged to inform your Majesty of it.
They replied that this complaint surprised them greatly, for the French ambassador said that his Majesty's ships were daily plundering the French in English waters, and even in English ports. Nonetheless, they had had the bailiff of Margate arrested for having bought some of the Emperor's subjects' property. As for the pinnace, they were not aware that there was one at sea, or near Margate; but they would obtain information and take such steps as should seem necessary.
I retorted that the French ambassador might say what he liked to make out a better case for himself, but the truth would be found to be the very contrary. If the bailiff had been arrested, I hoped he should receive the exemplary chastisement he deserved, and that the subjects should have their property, or its value in money, restored to them. The pinnace must be English, for all the crew and people on board were English. They repeated that they would not fail to act as they had said, and I should have reason to be satisfied. And this, Madam, was the end of our conference.
Afterwards I talked a little alone with the Duke of Northumberland, and after some small conversation he asked after his Imperial Majesty's health. I told him that his Majesty—God be praised!—was very well indeed. He appeared to be glad to hear it, and then asked if his Majesty was going to leave Innsbruck and travel towards the Low Countries, as rumour had it, or take the road to Italy. I replied that I had heard nothing of his Majesty's intentions to do either one thing or the other; for it often happened that princes did not know how long they would be obliged to tarry, as all depended upon the course of affairs. The Duke then prayed me to do my best to strengthen the friendly relations existing between their Majesties, by doing which I would render his Imperial Majesty good service, and give the King of England great pleasure. In all conscience, the Duke added, it would be impossible to do better work than to promote peace between the two princes; but it seemed to him that there were some ministers in Flanders, generally speaking, who were not too favourable to the ancient friendship.
I replied, Madam, that I would never fail to do my best, as I always had in the past, for, knowing the intentions of the Emperor and your Majesty, I could not desire to do otherwise. I assured him that the other ministers in Flanders would observe a similar policy; and he must not believe everything he heard, for the same might perhaps be said of certain members of the English Council. I also begged him to perform all good offices in favour of friendly relations between the two countries, as his Imperial Majesty confidently believed he would. He said he hoped his Majesty knew how zealous he was in his service, and how much care he took to foster the said amity; but, speaking frankly, he would tell me that these repeated arrests, and the continual trouble made for the English in Flanders, seemed very strange to him. Their subjects were greatly put out, and did not know what the reason could be, unless his Majesty were angry with them on the score of religion. I told him that their subjects called the arrests upon their own heads, because they were now given to freighting contraband, defrauding the harbour-dues, and attempting to transport provisions and ammunition directly to France. This was a violation of the Convention, and caused the arrests.
The Duke said he could believe that the English sometimes went beyond their rights and gave cause for arrests; but when England was at war with France, they had allowed his Majesty's subjects to go straight to France, in order to please his Majesty. I told him that the Council well knew they had done the opposite, even when our people were furnished with safe-conducts. Moreover, they had sometimes taken this as a pretext to seize our people's goods, pretending to know that they were being sent to France. He said he had never heard of anything of the sort, and was unable to believe it. I assured him that it was true; and so, Madam, after a little more unimportant speech, I took my leave and departed.
Duplicate. French. Latter half in cipher.


  • 1. Mary, Queen Dowager of Hungary.
  • 2. An entry in Edward's Journal for January 3rd, 1652, runs: “The Emperor's ambassador moved me severally that my sister Mary might have masse, which, with no little reasoning with him, was denied him.”
  • 3. From this point on this letter is written in cipher.