Spain: March 1552, 1-15

Pages 464-471

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

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March 1552, 1–15

March 1. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 19. Jehan Scheyfve to the Queen Dowager.
Madam: Since my last letters to your Majesty, the merchants and sea-captains, subjects of the Emperor, have come to me complaining that the Customs officials do not allow them to freight any goods for Flanders, giving as a reason orders intimated to them by the Council. I immediately repaired to the Council and repeated to them the subjects' complaints, pointing out that such conduct was distinctly contrary to the treaties and friendly relations existing between the two princes and their countries, and very different from the treatment meeted out to the English in Flanders. Therefore I wished to know the cause of this prohibition, in order to inform your Majesty of it.
The Duke of Northumberland acted as spokesman, and told me that the King's Majesty had issued the prohibition for certain reasons of his own, without giving any explanation. I tried to learn what could have moved the King to adopt this measure, and the Duke of Northumberland replied that his Majesty was not bound to render me an account of his reasons. I confessed this to be the case, and said I had only made so bold as to inquire into his motives because the treaties were very clear, and in order the better to satisfy your Majesty. The Duke then called upon Secretary Petre, who was present, to prove to me that the King had a right to act as above, and Petre asked me if it would not be licit, in the light of the treaties, for the King to interrupt and suspend international commerce, at least for some time? I replied that the treaty would not allow him so to do, especially without any excuse or reason. He rejoined that the treaties reserved the laws and statutes that either prince might make for the public weal. I told him that was true, as long as such laws and statutes were not in contradiction to the treaty, which was the case at present, for the prohibition would result in the suppression of trade; otherwise it would be in the power of either prince to infringe, or back out of, the treaty whenever he chose. Here Secretary Cecil broke in and said that, as the King did the Emperor's subjects the honour of treating them in exactly the same manner as his own, they had no reason to complain. I replied that his Imperial Majesty's subjects demanded no such honour, and insisted that by the treaties the King was not free to withdraw his subjects from trade between the two countries.
The Duke of Northumberland then began afresh, and said that your Majesty, under several pretexts, had found means of keeping back English subjects, and I could not ignore that their ships had several times been seized and arrested in Flanders. I answered that no prohibition had been issued by your Majesty against freighting goods for England, which would be the same as what was being done here at present; but I had heard that the English had made some secret agreement to that effect among themselves, in spite of which twenty-five or thirty vessels recently arrived here laden with goods, and were obliged to go home without any cargo. Besides, English subjects had often been found guilty of frauds and abuses, for they daily tried to avoid paying the harbour dues and his Majesty's taxes, freighted contraband goods, and even took on board ammunition destined for France, so that it was only reasonable that the officials should do their duty, and conduct civil searches, as well as finding out whether a caution had been deposited to guarantee that the merchandise was not to be taken to France. This might have delayed their subjects a few days; but as they were not at war they had no need to do the same, although they obliged the Emperor's subjects to submit to much worse searches here, where our people were oppressed and detained without cause. He replied that I might colour the matter as I pleased, but I well knew that the opposite was the truth. I gave him my assurance to the contrary, and that my version was correct. Finally, going back to the first point, they told me that they would soon send me their deputies to declare to me the cause of the prohibition, which they trusted would quite satisfy your Majesty and the Emperor's subjects.
Next, Madam, I asked them whether they were ready to give me a reply to the proposal I had made on your Majesty's behalf at our last meeting touching the abolition of certain new impositions, which I had also specified, for now the one-half per cent. had been suppressed. They answered that they had not yet come to a decision; and Secretary Petre, who said he had been one of the English commissioners who negotiated with his Majesty's on the question of taxes, told me that as I based my argument on a confession made by them about the taxes, he wished to declare to me that there had never been any confession, but only statements of circumstances and conditions. I said that the English commissioners had simply and clearly confessed that the said taxes were new, and levied against the provisions of the treaties. He retorted that his Imperial Majesty's commissioners had also confessed the illegality of several articles, which had not yet been seen to, and of which the Council would have a summary drawn up, and show it to me. I told him that no taxes were levied in Flanders beyond those allowed by the treaties, and if any such had been levied in the past, they had long since been suppressed. He maintained the contrary, asserting that those taxes were still levied; and there our conference ended.
Afterwards, the Duke of Northumberland drew me aside, and asked after his Imperial Majesty's health. I told him it was very good (thank God!), and that his Majesty was doing nothing but amusing himself with recreations. He replied that he thought his Majesty was amusing himself with public affairs and plans for war. I rejoined that he could but think of that matter now and then, as the King of France never thought of anything else. At this he remarked that it would be a great blessing for Christendom if peace could be made between their Majesties, enabling all Christian princes to prepare to take up arms to drive back and attack the enemy of our holy faith. His Imperial Majesty, I replied, had always endeavoured to encompass this object, and all his actions were aimed at the peace and tranquillity of Christendom; but it seemed that certain other princes were not animated by the same zeal, for they were constantly devising means to defeat the Emperor's holy designs. He answered that the King of France was doing very ill in bringing the Turk into Christendom. I said that as that was the case I hoped all Christian princes would draw away from the King of France. He replied that the King of France was certainly to blame, and as for the King, his master, he would never cease to cultivate friendly relations and observe his alliance with the Emperor. I assured him that his Majesty's intentions were the same regarding this ancient and perfect friendship, wherefore I was unable to believe all that was being said, though the French themselves were talking in all quarters about the favourable treatment they were receiving at the hands of their (English) neighbours. He made no reply to this, Madam, except to say that his Imperial Majesty might be sure of the friendship of the English, for the King intended to make it as lasting as possible.
Duplicate endorsed: “for the Emperor.” French. Cipher.
March 6. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 19. Jehan Scheyfve to the Queen Dowager.
Madam: Since my last letters, of the 1st instant, I heard that the Council had, through the intercession of the Venetian ambassador here resident, given leave to the Venetians to freight cloth and other goods for Flanders—though under the pretence of sending them to Italy,—and that the same liberty was allowed the English. I sent to the Council to demand audience, and as I suspected they would put it off for several days, I instructed my secretary to tell them, in that case, that it seemed strange to me that Venetians and Englishmen should be allowed to ship goods once more, whilst his Imperial Majesty's subjects were excluded. They replied that they intended the Emperor's subjects to have the same right, and would see to it at once, which they did; so that now every one is free to freight goods as before. It seems that the English merchants themselves solicited that the Council should act in this manner, because they had a great quantity of cloth on their hands and were heavily in debt in Flanders, and the clothworkers and others were showing signs of discontent; though the merchants made a show of sticking to their plan.
The Council told my secretary that one of the Emperor's war-ships had boarded a cross-channel boat on its way from Calais to Dover, and had seized a packet sent by the King of France to his ambassador here resident. This was calculated to give a bad example, and was not in accordance with the spirit of amity; and they wished me to be informed that I might report the occurrence to your Majesty.
Duplicate endorsed: “for the Emperor.” French. Cipher.
March 6. Brussels, E.A. 126. The Bishop of Arras to the Queen Dowager.
Madam: I take it that M. de Glajon has returned in safety, for M. de Vauvillers met him well on the way and we have had no other news.
You will have heard from him all I had to say at the time of his departure. Since then I have received your Majesty's letter of February 22nd, and as its contents are similar to the news we are receiving from all quarters I will make no other reply than to inform your Majesty of what is being done to check certain movements, and send you some copies that will give you detailed information.
On the return of a man we had sent to follow Duke Maurice's chancellor and Karlewitz, and watch the Duke's following at Landshut, we lost all hope that the Duke would finish his journey or go towards the King of the Romans or his son, the King of Bohemia. Letters were then sent to several princes and the chief cities of Germany warning them not to be deceived about French intrigues nor those of the Germans who favoured them.
The substance of these letters is also being sent to your Majesty. The Count of Hebertstein was sent for the same purpose to the Electors Palatine and of Trier and the Duke of Württemberg. Councillor Renard was sent to the two Electors remaining at Trent, and several letters have also been despatched to them to inform them of the present condition of Germany, ask their advice as to what shall be done, and give them a chance of leaving the Council of their own accord. Our ambassadors resident at Trent have been instructed to adopt the means that have been suggested to them to achieve the suspension of the Council either at the Pope's or the Elector's instance, for I believe I have already written to your Majesty the reasons for which the move must not proceed from his Imperial Majesty. Therefore all this must be kept very secret. . . .
(The writer continues to discusss the outlook in Germany.)
Innsbruck, 6 March, 1552.
Copy. French.
March 6. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 19. Advices sent by Jehan Scheyfve.
M. d'Oisel, French ambassador in Scotland, passed through England towards France accompanied by certain French captains and soldiers, to the number of twenty or thirty, from the Scottish garrisons. Others are said to have gone by way of Ireland, so that there are not above 400 or 500 French men left in Scotland. Some say the King of France had obtained the King of England's permission for 10,000 Scots infantry and some horse to pass through England, but the Scots were unwilling to allow any of their people to leave the country; but this is not very probable.
The English are sending certain personages to Scotland, it is said because the Scots burnt some houses on the Border, in spite of the fact that this very question had recently been the object of a conference, and also built certain forts in defiance of the provisions of the last treaties.
The deputies of Danzig, Lübeck, Hamburg and Bremen are here to safeguard their privileges; but it seems they have little hope, and will certainly accomplish nothing without heavy expenses. As far as we are able to discover, their negotiation is not being made a pretext for any other purpose.
Four gentlemen who had been condemned for their share in Somerset's plot were executed here the other day. It is believed the Duchess will suffer the same fate, and the Earl of Arundel is in danger; but my Lords Grey and Paget are no longer feared for.
Many proposals have been made which Parliament was unable to grant. Usury has been entirely abolished. No one, gentle or simple, is to have more than two properties (cens); and the rest must be given out en ammodiation to the peasants. A third at least of this land will be used for agriculture, which it is hoped will bring down prices.
The King of England's Council are trying to pass an act giving all orders of the Council the same force as acts of Parliament. The knights and commons, the second order of Parliament, refuse their consent to this.
The King has chosen another ambassador to go and reside at the Emperor's court, an honest gentleman named Shelley, (fn. 1) who speaks several languages. We hear he is of the new religion, and has studied in Germany, where the late King employed him.
There are several Englishmen who would like to enter the Emperor's service, and have sought the Council's permission without obtaining it. The permission is not refused outright, but those who solicit it are told that they must go at their peril; which is different from the attitude observed towards those who wish to go and serve in France.
Three great ships are being laden with all sorts of munitions of war at Dover, to be transported, as it is said, to Barbary.
French. Cipher.
March 14. Brussels, E.A. 65. The Queen Dowager to the Emperor.
(Numerous bankruptcies, ships lost to the enemy and the dangers attending navigation have made money so scarce that the writer has had the greatest difficulty in inducing the merchants to take a share in the exchange on Spain. After many fruitless conferences with the Emperor's creditors, Fugger, Jean-Baptiste degli Affectadi, Lazarus Tucher and Schetz, they have finally consented to take shares proportionate to the sums owing to them at the rate of 66 gros per ducat instead of 56 or 58, at which latter rate exchanges are being effected at present. Fugger and Schetz have had deducted from what they are to receive the amount of silver that went to them from the fleet from the Indies, and Affectadi and Schetz have received some compensation for the silver that might have gone to them. The creditors demanded that their books should be examined by accountants before coming to a settlement, and Treasurer Longin, Captain Arresti and Alonso del Castillo, who were appointed to do so, found difficulties so serious as to move the writer to send the accounts to the Emperor. Fugger demands compound interest on the sums owed to him, and it is the custom in Flanders to exact it.)
Since writing the above I have received two letters from your Majesty. The first spoke of the exchanges at Lyons. I have been able, I think, to prevent the King of France from getting possession of part of the 150,000 (crowsns?) he was to have taken up from the Lucques (fn. 2) of Lyons, who will be unable to produce the money without availing themselves of the credit of the members of the Antwerp Exchange. If your Majesty could manage to have a similar prohibition decreed at Venice, I believe the kingdom of France would feel it sorely.
Besides this, my Lord, I have been trying my utmost to raise a sum of money and to let you have it in Germany at exchange or otherwise, to aid you to meet current expenses, which I know are giving you trouble. But all my applications to the merchants have been in vain; Fugger's agent alone says that, though Fugger, his master, is short of money in Germany, and also has determined to retire from business, he believes that to oblige your Majesty and at my request, he would go to the trouble of providing your Majesty with some 300,000 ducats, subject to the conditions a copy of which I am sending to you. I then asked the agent to write a line to that effect to his master, begging him not to fail us in this matter. And in order to pacify him quite, I gave him my obligation with a promise to obtain your obligation and your son's (the Prince's); not that they are in any way mistrustful of your Majesty, but only that they believe this will give them directer access to you and enable them to obtain securities such as I gave when I borrowsed money. It is difficult, nay impossible, to get money here at any price; I cannot think what the reason may be. I am moderately satisfied with a small sum I have obtained to meet the most pressing demands; otherwise I should have been in a very painful position.
Several merchants have offered me a good, big sum of money in Spain quite cheap, in exchange for permission to take part of it out of the country themselves. Your Majesty will certainly have to consent in order to bring the matter in hand to a successful issue; for otherwise money is so tight here that neither your Majesty over there (i.e. at Innsbruck) nor I here will be able to secure any.
Brussels, 14 March, 1552.
French. Copy.
March 15. Brussels, E.A. 490. Guillaume de Poitiers to the Queen Dowager.
Madam. I have delayed in writing because nothing worthy of your Majesty's attention has happened since I sent off my last letters. From them your Majesty will have heard that, in order to satisfy the Protestants, nothing was defined at the last session on January 25th, and the matters that had been prepared for that session were held over pending the arrival of the Protestants' theologians or learned men, whom they desire to have heard in order that the said matters may be decided and settled together with the sacrament of marriage, at the next session, which is to be held next Saturday, March 19th. His Imperial Majesty's ambassadors, who for some reason had requested the Legate to cease discussing the said matters until his Majesty should make known his pleasure, sent to ascertain it touching certain difficulties; and we have now been here idle for three weeks awaiting his Majesty's reply and the return of him who should have brought it. Now that we have the reply there is not time enough left before the session to dispose of the sacrament of marriage; and as for the sacrifice of the mass and the sacrament of orders, it does not seem expedient to set to work on them without waiting for the Protestants until the next session, to which they have been summoned, and which they themselves selected as the time at which they should come hither and be heard. For these reasons I see little likelihood of anything being decreed or defined at the next session; and moreover the troubles agitating Germany have now been reported here and caused the departure of the Electors of Mayence and Cologne, who left this place last Friday, as the Elector of Trier did three weeks ago, with his Majesty's consent, because of ill-health. Your Majesty is well able to judge whether anything is likely to be accomplished while these troubles last.
The Duke of Württemberg, in place of the commissioners and deputies he had here until the last session, and who went back to him, has sent others who immediately on their arrival announced that they would stick to the position adopted by the Elector of Saxony's envoys and their own predecessors from Württemberg. Before and above all things they desire to have the Fathers' decision on the two points submitted recently by the Saxons: that it shall be proclaimed that the Pope is subject to the Council; and that the Fathers be absolved of their oath and all other obligations or duty they owe or may owe to the Pope and the Apostolic See. They maintain that otherwise there is no possibility of discussing faith and religion frankly and freely.
My opinion is that they consider this will be enough to stop the Fathers, and prevent them from doing anything further. May God, in His infinite goodness, enlighten them; may He look down with pity upon His Church and people, and grant your Majesty a long and prosperous life!
A week ago the King of Portugal's ambassador arrived here, accompanied by 50 or 60 horse.
Trent, 15 March, 1552.
Holograph. French.
March 15 Brussels, E.A. 101. Jehan Sextoir to Count de Reuil.
Know, my Lord, that I have had news from a good friend of mine at Calais, who tells me the King of France will soon be in Paris, where he is to stay until the arrival of 15,000 Gascons, who are soon to reach that city. There is a report that the Gascons are to be embarked, and proceed by sea to Dunkirk and Gravelines. Once they are before the said towns they will manage, with the great river's (fn. 3) help, to do us much damage. Another good friend of mine says they are to besiege St. Omer.
Moreover, there is loud talk at Calais that the King of England is sending out a large number of his ships with 10,000 men on board; I know not whom they are to go to relieve. I also fail to understand the reason why the King of England's Council are so ready to give our men (i.e. the English) leave to go abroad. And when they ask for leave, it is much more willingly granted to those who are going to France than to those whose destination is the Low Countries. And this, my Lord, is all my news.
St. Omer, 15 March, 1552.
Holograph. French. Signed “Jehan Sextoir, anglois.”


  • 1. Sir Richard Shelley, who had been the last grand prior of the Knights of St. John in England.
  • 2. Lucques in the original. Possibly a slip for Lucquois, the Lucchese merchants of Lyons.
  • 3. The “great river” appears to be the Aa. Perhaps an attempt might have been planned to flood Gravelines?