Spain: May 1552, 1-15

Pages 508-525

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

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May 1552, 1–15

May 1. Simancas, P.R. 32. The Queen Dowager's Instructions to Adolphe De Bourgogne De La Capelle (fn. 1), who is to Command the fleet going to Spain.
As the fleet is to go in three parts: one to Biscay, one to Portugal, and the third to Andalusia, you will appoint, before starting, Antonio de Lu to command the ships for Biscay, and Popio Sibrante those for Portugal, whilst you yourself will take charge of those for Seville.
When the ships have been duly inspected, you, the other captains and competent persons shall consult together as to which shall sail first, and make arrangements as to the support each detachment is to render the others in case of attack by the enemy.
You will be very careful to come to a clear understanding as to the signals to be used at night or in storms, so that you may know each ship and avoid disorder if strange ships come in among you. You will avoid parting company, and sail straight for the Spanish seas, without entering ports in England or the neighbouring islands, keeping together in order to be able to repulse attacks.
A number of Dutch ships are to join your fleet, either in Zeeland or off the banks of England, so you will take care previously to make it clear to the Dutch ships where you are to meet, according to the wind. You will make the masters swear again not to abandon you, but to obey your orders if you meet the enemy on the way out or return journey.
Instruct the masters that if a storm comes up and all the ships are unable to remain together, those bound for Biscay shall endeavour to follow Antonio de Lu's vessel, those for Portugal Popio Sibrante's, and those for Seville yours.
While you are in the channel between France and England, see to it that the heaviest ships go first and the lighter ones after or at one side, in order to be able to help the heavier vessels, which you shall order to signal at once if they sight the enemy, and wait for the rest of the fleet before proceeding further.
You will send your lightest and swiftest-sailing boats ahead to spy on the enemy, and instruct their captains to signal immediately they see the enemy, and retire towards the main body of the fleet.
If you are unable to avoid a conflict with the enemy, put your strongest ships in front to take the first shock, and order others to come up at once to their relief, which the captains shall loyally do under pain of death.
Endeavour, if possible, to board the Frenchmen without discharging your great guns; and as you have a number of very heavy ships, let these try to run down the attacking vessels and sink them, also, if possible, without firing.
Order the crews in such a manner that there may always be a number of men who have reposed and refreshed themselves, unless circumstances oblige you to summon all hands.
As you are an experienced sailor and fighting-man, and have others with you, it is superfluous to tell you to endeavour to out-inanœvre the enemy and gain the advantage of the wind, how to protect your ships against shot, how to board or run down the enemy, or how far apart you ought to keep your ships. These things are necessarily subject to time and place; and you will be able to judge of what is necessary.
If contrary winds oblige you to run into an English port, keep as far away from land as possible and avoid placing your fleet at the Englishmen's mercy. If you find French ships there, do not start hostilities, as that is forbidden by English law, but be on your guard against the French in case they omitted to observe neutrality, as they will doubtless do if they see an advantageous opportunity. Therefore protect yourselves as best you may against the enemy's fire-ships if you see they have wind and tide in their favour, and keep a close watch to prevent them from cutting your cables or using other devices frequently resorted to where there is little space.
Until you reach Spanish waters you will keep casks hanging out for use as fenders, and planks ready to be shot out on the windward side of the ship to prevent fire-ships, that might be sent down on you with the wind and tide, from running against the hulks of your ships, which you will also protect with salt hides.
But when you have passed between the Scilly Isles and Ushant you may take in your casks again, and if the wind is favourable let the vessels for Biscay proceed thither under Captain Antonio de Lu, whilst the rest of you continue straight to Cascaes on the coast of Portugal. There you will leave the ships bound for Portugal with Captain Popio, and continue your journey to Cadiz or San Lucar de Barrameda at the mouth of Seville river, where you will remain until the ships have been unloaded and loaded once more.
If by the appointed day all the ships but two or three have their cargoes on board and are ready to sail, and the wind serves you, you will set sail, without waiting for the remaining two or three, which you will have made every effort to get ready in time. On no account must you miss the wind.
Above all, be sure to instruct the other two captains before you part from them, that they shall send word to you as to when they can be ready to set sail for the return journey, as soon as they have reached the ports where their ships are to be unloaded. At the same time you will let them know how soon you can be ready; and thus you will be able to join company again and make the homeward journey together, or at any rate meet off the Scilly Isles.
Arrived at San Lúcar or Cádiz you will make the masters of the ships unload as fast as possible, and let the merchants who wish to send goods hither understand that they must be quick about getting them on board the ships. Give them a time-limit within which they may embark goods, for which purpose you may obtain the advice of certain among them, as long as the limit does not exceed one month or six weeks, counting from your arrival. If you see signs of delay, declare to the merchants or officers of the place that you have express orders not to outstay the time stated, so that they may make haste; and you will not stay longer, however hard they may beg. The other captains are also to do likewise.
While your ships are lying waiting, keep a good watch and do not allow all your men to go ashore at once and leave the ships unprotected, for fear of some accident. You will see that your fleet enters some harbour where it shall be safe from enemies, and nonetheless you will be as much on your guard against them as if you were on the high seas.
Your own ship is large and well-adapted for carrying valuable merchandise in place of the provisions you are taking hence, which will be greatly diminished by that time. You will therefore have your ship laden, though in such a manner as not to incapacitate her for defence were need to arise, so that as much profit as possible may be realised by the enterprise. You will cause Captain Meeckere, who is going with you, to do the same. As for the other ships, be careful that they are not so over-laden as to be helpless were they to be obliged to defend themselves.
When you know how soon the ships will be ready to sail, inform the other captains, who will do the same for you, and appoint a day on which they shall set sail, so as to be able to meet them if possible.
On the return journey you will take the same precautions as on the way out. Make for Cascaes first, wait there for the Lisbon fleet, and then set sail together for the Scilly Isles, sending a sloop or a galleon to announce your departure to the fleet in Biscay, so that you may all meet off the Scilly Isles. You will ask the vessels you speak by the way for news from Flanders, and also of the French and English, which will help you to know how best to steer your course without putting into any port in England or the neighbouring islands.
You will send to the Queen Dowager, as soon as you have arrived in Andalusia, a report of all that happened on the voyage, and further letters with all the news you hear, either by way of England or by foreign ships bound for this country.
For the rest you will proceed according to the advice of the other captains, masters and honest men of the fleet, and as you shall judge most prudent.
Drawn up in Zeeland by Cornille Scepperus.
Translated into Spanish from an original in French.
May 5. Brussels, E.A. 61. The Queen Dowager to the Emperor.
(Extract from a letter dealing with the war and levies of troops in Northern Germany.)
M. de Courrieres wrote on the 27th of last month of the favourable audience given him by the King of England, as your Majesty will see from the summary (fn. 2) of his letters herewith enclosed. He also informed me that he thought if your Majesty were pleased to write a gracious letter to the King, it would be very welcome and might do much good at the present moment. Therefore, my Lord, I have had the enclosed rough draft (fn. 3) prepared, which I think might serve, subject to your Majesty's correction.
If you approve of it, you may despatch it through me or otherwise.
Duplicate. French.
May 6. Brussels, E.A. 101. The Queen Dowager to the Ambassadors (fn. 4) in England.
We have received your letters of March 30th, and will only say in reply that you are to try to secure good treatment for our fleet, in case it is forced to enter an English port. We will let you know as soon as we hear it is ready to sail.
You say in your letters that you would like to hear the news from Germany, so we have had a summary of what we have heard drawn up, and are sending it to you.
We have had the letters that you, Scheyfve, wrote to us on the 28th of last month (fn. 5) examined in Council. They contain the English Councils reply to the complaints presented to them in writing on our behalf, and also a statement of their grievances recently handed to you. The result of the examination causes us to command you, touching the reply given to you on the oppressions visited upon Flemings in England, to persist in your former demands, or claim a written statement of their own admissions as to the unfair treatment shown to our subjects, or urge them to issue strict orders to their officers to observe the Convention, and refrain from molesting our subjects. This they cannot well refuse to do, and it is what is demanded in the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, ninth and tenth articles of our complaints, as you will see on consulting the document.
Part of the complaints they presented were replied to in the writing sent you by M. de Courrieres, and the others are the same that were uttered by the English commissioners at the last conference at Bourbourg, and were then answered point by point, as you will see by the paper that is being sent to you, in order that you may use it in promising your answer. And that is all there is to be said for the moment, especially as all this is nothing but a repetition of the same affair.
It is true that they have raised the question of alum in their complaints, objecting to the ordinance recently issued here, about which Ambassador Chamberlain not long ago addressed a complaint to us. We answered him that the ordinance had been introduced for the public good, and to put a stop to various frauds and abuses committed by the merchants where alum was concerned; but it was in no sense a violation of the Commercial Convention. You may make the same answer, referring the Council for further information to what we said to Chamberlain.
The English complain that we do not admit the Irish to the benefits of the Convention. We are informed here that the Irish receive the same treatment as always, and that nothing new has been done. However, desiring to know the truth of this matter, we have written to the Customs-officers of Zeeland, Brabant and Flanders to find out how they treat the Irish, so that we may take such measures as may seem suitable.
We have also asked for a report on the complaints voiced by the English to the effect that they are being made to pay too high duties. You shall be informed of their reply and our decisions.
Brussels, 6 May, 1552.
Minute. French.
1552. May 6. Brussels, L.A. 69. The Queen Dowager to the Customs-Officers of Brabant, Zeeland and Dunkirk.
The English Council have informed us that the Irish here are obliged to pay all duties, charges and tolls to which foreigners are liable, a thing quite contrary to the Commercial Convention, by which they claim the Irish ought to benefit as much as the English themselves. They also assert that the English are now, in virtue of a new ordinance, obliged to pay double as much as formerly, and even more, on all goods. For instance, a bale of goods known as bartrey now pays eight gros instead of six, a packet of straw hats eight gros instead of four, a hundred herring or other fish twelve gros instead of six, a little parcel called parve fardello (sic), ten or twelve gros according to the officers' will. Moreover, that a new tax, called—(one word left blank) is being exacted from all their ships that are obliged by storms to enter our ports.
We wish to know the truth of this, and command you to send us ample and accurate information on the above points, stating whether these allegations are true, in order that we may satisfy the English Council. And of this you shall not fail.
Brussels, 6 May, 1552.
Minute. French.
May 8. Vienna Imp. Arch. E. 19. Advices sent by de Courrières.
The man who was sent to the west coast has written that a certain English sea-captain, coming from Bordeaux, says that he met a French ship of 150 tons on the coast of Brittany, in a harbour called Conquet. The crew of this ship wished to board him, and as he would not let them, they made for Brest, where the King's fleet was, and told the admiral that there was an English pirate in the harbour of Conquet, who had refused to allow them to board his vessel. The admiral then sent two galleons of 200 tons each, strongly armed, which boarded the English vessel and took it to Brest, where it was detained three days. But as no charge could be brought against the captain, he and his vessel were then released.
The same captain says he saw twenty great men-of-war at Brest, and ten smaller ones were being fitted out. The twenty great ships were very well found, manned and supplied with artillery and all sorts of munitions and provisions. On board there were 10,000 (sic) prisoners and more; and other ships were expected from other places of which he did not know the names. The crew of a French ship that had put into the port of Dartmouth had bragged that the French were in the habit of doing much and saying little. He knew nothing about any ships being fitted out by the English, unless they lay somewhere between Dover and Portsmouth.
Another captain, recently come from Spain, said he had met twenty French sail, all in good shape, near Ushant. Captain Paulin (fn. 6) was in command; and they had put out from Brest the second day after Easter to lay in wait for the Spanish fleet.
The same man has gone to Falmouth and other neighbouring ports in search of more news, which will be reported as soon as possible.
We have since heard that twenty or twenty-five French sail, all in fighting trim, have arrived at Falmouth; but the truth of this report is uncertain.
It is said in London that nine great French ships, all well manned and armed, have sailed northwards to lie in wait for all ships that may make for Germany.
French. Cipher.
May 8. Vienna Imp. Arch. E. 19. Scheyfve and de Courrières to the Queen Dowager.
Madam: After we had several times solicited an audience from the Duke of Northumberland and the Council, on Monday last they sent to tell us that they had decided to grant us the Wednesday following, and requested us to repair to Greenwich, where the King had been staying since the Friday before, to dine with them on that day, and afterwards declare our charge.
On the appointed day, and at the hour, we went to Greenwich and were well and honourably received by those members of the Council who were present. The principal members, however, like the Duke of Northumberland, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Bishop of Ely, Earl of Pembroke and some others were not there. This surprised us very much, particularly the Duke's absence, for we believed they had delayed giving us audience because he had been ill and under treatment since we had been with the King, but that his treatment was now over. However, we made no sign of our surprise to the others, and after some pleasant conversation at dinner I, Courrières, told them how much pleased your Majesty had been to hear what Mr. (Sir Philip) Hoby had declared to you about the maintenance of the ancient friendship between the two countries. Your Majesty desired to reciprocate in this, and in order to forestall any possibility of misunderstanding you had instructed me to inform the King of England and his Council that you had caused a goodly number of armed ships to be manned, to resist the Emperor's enemies and escort the merchant fleet on its way to Spain from Flanders. These ships, as I had already declared to the King, were not intended to inflict any harm upon England or the English, but only for the above-mentioned purpose. They already knew how his Majesty had replied, and I would only request them, on your Majesty's behalf, to lend all possible favour and support to the present friendly relations between the two countries, and influence the King in the same sense. If the said fleet, or part of it, were obliged to run into some English port, I hoped they would give orders that our people should be supplied with what they needed, in exchange for payment, and that no harm be done them, as the said friendly relations gave them a right to expect.
They replied, Madam, that they desired to thank your Majesty for your zeal for the preservation of the friendship, and would beg you to continue in the same path. They, for their part, would not fail to correspond. As for our fleet, if it or part of it were forced to put into any English harbour, it should be well and favourably received as long as it was not too large and powerful, and did not ill-treat their people. It seemed to us clear at this point, that they desired to know the number of ships composing the fleet.
We said we were unable to tell them the exact number, but they might be sure your Majesty would see to it that there should be enough to resist the enemy. The treaties, we added, did not specify the number of war-ships that either prince might send out, for that was left to the judgment of him who stood in need of them; and that which was to be allowed in case of urgent need was plainly capitulated. Still, it was most probable that the fleet would pass by as fast as possible. In order that they might see that your Majesty meant to protect the English from all possibility of interference, we stated that you had already issued orders to the effect that all English subjects met with by the fleet at sea were to be treated exactly in the same way as the Emperor's own subjects. They then signified their willingness to afford shelter to the fleet, for which I, Courrières, thanked them on your Majesty's behalf.
After this, I, Scheyfve, informed them that masters and merchants, subjects of the Emperor, had several times come to me with complaints that the Customs officials were again refusing to allow them to ship goods for Flanders, giving no reason but the simple order of the Council. This was clearly against the Commercial Convention, contrary to the spirit of good neighbourhood; and entirely unlike the treatment daily shown the English in Flanders. Some three or four days ago, I added, seven or eight English ships had set sail for Flanders with nothing but ballast on board, to bring back Flemish goods to England; and I wished to know why the prohibition had been issued, that I might report the reason to your Majesty.
They replied that they knew of no prohibition issued to the Customs officials. Nonetheless, they would not fail to investigate the matter, and take the necessary steps.
Moreover, Madam, I exposed to them, that the merchants, subjects of his Imperial Majesty, and not resident or domiciled here, had also complained that the tax-collectors were trying to force them to pay the subsidy; although it had formerly been decided that these merchants were to be exempt from the subsidy, which was a tax of recent introduction, and contrary to the Commercial Convention. Again they replied that they knew nothing about it, but would remedy the matter in such manner that our people should have no cause for complaint.
At the same meeting, Madam, I reminded them that I had sent my man to them several days before to report the grievances of the captains and crew of two armed ships belonging to your Majesty's subjects. These men were being detained at Rye because of an Irish ship that went down with most of her crew; and our people were accused of having sunk her, though in reality they had not been to blame. They said and maintained that, about a month ago, they met a certain vessel one night near Rye, and asked her where she came from. The crew of this vessel replied that they came from Le Havre, and persisted in this reply, also refusing to lower their sail, and letting fly several cannon at our people, three or four of whom were lolled, and fifteen or sixteen wounded. At this, our people began to batter the vessel that had said she came from Le Havre, to such good effect that she soon leaked and sank, though by our people's help three Irishmen belonging to her crew were saved. They had intended to take these men to Zeeland and hand them over to M. de Beures (Van Buren) with a report of the case, but they ran into the King of England's ships, and were taken into Rye, where they had been detained because the Irishmen had declared them to be pirates. At my request, the Council had caused our two captains to be brought to London to be heard in their defence, and confronted with the Irishmen; and I now demanded that this should be done and justice take its course. In the meantime, I must insist that the two ships and what remained of their appurtenances should be sequestrated. One of them had already been ruined by the King's ships which had taken her to Dover and had pillaged all the guns and everything else on board; and the other was not much better off. They only replied, Madam, that the two ships were pirates, and nothing the captains said ought to be believed, adding that it was only right that they should be punished.
I replied that there was still less excuse for believing the plaintiffs in a matter of such importance. It was well known, besides, that our people were supplied with letters (fn. 7); and also no plundered goods had been found on board the two ships. That showed they were no pirates; and had they been such they would not have wished to sink the Irishman, but would rather have tried to seize the goods on board. It ought to be sufficient proof of their innocence that they had saved the three Irishmen's lives, for otherwise they would have throwsn them into the sea to drowsn with their mates. Finally, I showed them the deposition of an Englishman who had been pilot on board one of the ships, and a report that had been sent to me by M. Van Buren, which had also been presented to the Council by my man some days before.
They only replied with reiterated assertions that the men were pirates, and that the Englishman was not to be believed because he was an accomplice. Councillor Mason added that if his advice had been taken, they would already have been executed.
I rejoined that they had reached their decision by a presupposition; for nothing was proved as yet. As for the Englishman, it was reasonable that they should pause at his deposition, as he was of their nation and had made a very detailed and circumstantial attestation. Accordingly I hoped that they would give the matter careful attention, as the friendship between the two countries, and the treatment their subjects had received when at war with France, demanded. It seemed very strange, I added, that the French, who had openly plundered their subjects and, what was worse, throwsn some of them into the sea, and had recently seized a passenger between Dover and Calais, had not yet been brought to book, though they frequented English harbours from time to time. They told me they would apply the same justice to the French as to others as soon as they could catch them.
I then went on to say that I had received more complaints from certain captains and seamen, who had recently been seized between Rye and Dover, as I have already informed your Majesty. They also were accused of having practised piracy against English subjects; but nothing whatever had been proved against them, and several had already been released, though after having been kept in prison on bread and water a long time. As the captain of the men who had been confined at Dover was still in prison with some of his crew, I requested that they might at once be set at liberty, and receive compensation for the ship and goods, which had been pillaged.
They answered that their subjects were often enough punished in Flanders, and they well remembered that seven or eight had been executed at Dunkirk not long ago. I replied that those men had been notorious sea-robbers, who had long practised piracy without having any letters or papers, and their case was consequently very different from this one. Finally, they told me they would take the matter in hand, and settle it as justice and their regard for a friendly nation demanded.
Next, I told them that your Majesty had instructed me to make a detailed reply to the complaints about oppression and outrages uttered before you by Mr. Hoby on behalf of the King, as I had declared the other day to his Majesty; and consequently I asked them to name a day on which we might meet. They told me they would communicate with their colleagues, and would then let me know.
When business was disposed of, we asked after the King's health, and said we would like to pay him a visit if he were not engaged. They said they thought he had gone out to play; but if we would wait they would inform his Majesty. They did so, and we were soon led into his presence. After the usual reverences and salutations, we gave him a summary account of what we had gone over with the Council concerning the relations between the two countries and the reception of the fleet, saying that we should inform your Majesty of it. He then repeated his expressions of attachment to the alliance, and said he made sure of corresponding sentiments on the part of the Emperor and your Majesty.
As the Duke (i.e. of Northumberland) had not been at Greenwich, we had decided to go to see him, and give him a particular account of the charge that I, Courrieres, received from your Majesty. But I have been unable to do so, because the day after our visit to Greenwich, he went there with some other of the chief ministers, who had assembled to feast the French ambassador. I will take the first opportunity of speaking with the Duke and these ministers. However, after our conference at Greenwich, I talked a little with the Marquis of Northampton, and mentioned what your Majesty had heard, especially from French sources, about the existence of some secret treaty between the King of France and the King of England, though your Majesty was unable to believe it could be true. He only replied that he had heard nothing of the sort, and did not believe it.
Since our conference with the Council, we have heard that they have issued orders to the Customs officials to allow the Emperor's subjects to ship goods for Flanders.
Duplicate endorsed “for the Emperor.” French. Partly cipher.
May 10. Simancas, E. 647. The Emperor to Don Diego Hurtado de Mendoza.
You will have understood, from the letter written to you last Sunday by the Bishop of Arras, what happened in the audience we gave Camayano on the 7th instant. After some talk, we signified that we did not resent what his Holiness concluded with Cardinal de Tournon, as being a step his Holiness' necessities had forced him to take. At the same time we complained of his ministers who had not kept the promise they made to us touching La Mirandola, according to which they should have delayed to treat of the capitulation until they had given the question further thought. Our intimate knowledge of the French, and understanding of how slightly such truces could profit our states, still caused us to be not a little distressed and puzzled. The French were in the habit of breaking their promises, and contriving means of wriggling out of their engagements by the aid of calumny, achieving by devious and oblique ways precisely the same effects as if no capitulation had taken place. They were already beginning these tactics, as it seemed they were raising troops; for though they might now pretend that they wanted them to relieve Parma, once they had the troops they would not fail to try to use them somewhere against us, even if we entered into the capitulation, in which case they would proclaim that the troops did not come from Parma or La Mirandola, though they were certainly raising them in those places, or in others near by, or in the states of the Church, where we had heard the French had found means to raise most of their troops.
Moreover, supposing his Holiness to have signed the capitulation, as this undertaking had been carried on by him and ourself together, and we had entered into it as his supporter to help him to chastise his rebellious feudatory, if we now wished to proceed against Parma we might expose ourself to calumnies to the effect that our real objects were other than we had professed. Besides, in case we decided not to be included in the capitulation, or give it our approval, we did not wish his Holiness to take umbrage or think we remained resentful of his action; for such was not the case.
We are unable to believe that his Holiness has agreed to any article of the capitulation, that might work to our hurt, for his Holiness has always, both before agreeing to the capitulation and now by Camayano, professed himself to be anxious to remain in sincere friendship with us, and has offered to favour us to the utmost of his power. Nevertheless, we have no doubt that the French will put their own interpretation, whenever it suits them to break faith with his Holiness, on the article that states, as you will see, that if we are unwilling to enter into the capitulation his Holiness shall not favour nor help us with his authority, troops, money, victuals, nor in any other manner. This is an important point, though his Holiness' intention, we have no doubt, was only to understand this as applying to the case of Parma and La Mirandola, for otherwise it would look very much like a powerful crank to twist us into assenting willy-nilly. But the French will appeal to the letter, and manage to maintain that his Holiness will not be able to help us in the above-mentioned ways, nor grant us the concessions and favours he has always so liberally promised us, where Naples, as a fief of the Church, and other places, are concerned. This we could but deeply regret; and although, as we have said already, we are certain his Holiness means something quite different, we desire you to clear up this matter of his intentions with his Holiness, and advise us of the result.
In order that the French may not make a point out of our having allowed the twenty days' grace mentioned in the capitulation to pass, though this period is obviously very short in comparison with that allowed the King of France to send his ratification, and also the Farnese, who are such near neighbours, in doing which the French seem to pay us scant respect, we are now sending you our ratification in proper form. You may show it to his Holiness, but do not give it to him until you obtain his declaration in writing on the following points.
First, about the article in which it is said that the parties shall keep what they now possess, except for the forts made to attack Parma and La Mirandola, you shall tell his Holiness that we cannot suppose this to be intended to force us out of the places in which we now have garrisons, but only those forts, before La Mirandola or elsewhere, that have recently been throwsn up in the course of the campaign against Parma, in places where there are no dwellings. For if we now have some garrisons which it is important to keep up, not in order to attack Parma—for we do not now intend to lay siege to that place whether we are included in the capitulation or not,—but in order to guard what we hold in the Parmesan, Placentine and the state of Milan, we have no intention of having them ruined, nor of being forced to withdraw our troops from them. Therefore we are sending a copy of this letter to Don Fernando Gonzaga, in order that he may carefully consider what places had better be kept up, not with the prospect of besieging Parma, but in order to guard our own states, as we have already said. He, as he is well-versed in all that concerns those parts, and knows where the garrisons are necessary, shall be instructed to inform you with all possible despatch, and send you a list of the places; for we do not intend to be bound by the capitulation on this point, nor would it be just to expect us to be bound.
And if the French claim that, according to the capitulation, we ought to evacuate Vercelli-sul-Po, where we now have a garrison, you will tell his Holiness that they have no reason for so doing. We may keep it as something taken from our enemy; for the Cardinal of Ferrara has exceeded the bounds of his profession and shown himself to be such whenever he has had an opportunity.
If, as it is said, the place is of great importance for the defence of the state of Milan, that is yet another argument for keeping it.
We also desire that his Holiness should enlighten us further on the above-mentioned point: for, supposing the French were to get together an army, not in Parma, La Mirandola, nor Castro, but in some neighbouring place or places, and thence attempted to invade our states by sea, or tried to send their troops through the Papal states to attack Naples or Siena; what would his Holiness do in that case? How would he then interpret the capitulation, which the French would clearly have broken?
You will also endeavour to persuade his Holiness to throws some light on how far he means the neutrality mentioned in the capitulation to go. As our friendship for him is so heart-felt, as the King of France's way of treating him is so different from ours, it would not be well for the Apostolic See's sake that he should put us on the same footing. In connexion with this, you may enlarge on what Camayano told us about his Holiness' intention not to allow the French to pass through his states to Naples, as well because Naples was a fief of the Church, as because the King of France had no business to be there. Tell his Holiness we are most grateful, and that we intend to send a certain number of German and Spanish troops to that kingdom (i.e. Naples) for its protection against the Turkish fleet, and ask him whether he will afford them free and safe passage, and command them to be supplied with provisions. We make no doubt, and are led by the nature of his friendship to believe, that he will do so.
Supposing his Holiness already to have signed the capitulation, if things have gone so far it is clear that he will be unable to treat with the French on any of the points which we desire him to elucidate. In that case you will do your best to induce his Holiness at least to enter into an agreement between himself and us on the subject, and give it to you in writing. When once you have it, in such reasonable terms as may satisfy what you will have gathered from the above to be our intentions and demands, you shall give into his hands the said ratification, which is plain and without conditions. Do so with fair words as you shall see fit, in order that he may have no doubt nor fear, rather giving him to understand that we quite believe he was forced to make terms by necessity; and make clear the places in which, according to Don Fernando's opinion—if you hear from him in time—our garrisons ought to be maintained for the purpose of making sure our states, or arrange that this matter may be cleared up afterwards, when Don Fernando's report arrives. But if his Holiness were not to give you the declaration in a satisfactory form, or were to make excuses for putting off the giving of it, you should still not fail to give him the ratification, in order that he might see that we intended to be included in the capitulation, and to observe it scrupulously. At the same time, however, you shall tell him plainly that you are giving it to him, and that we desire to be included, on condition that he is first to satisfy us on the above-mentioned articles. Otherwise, you shall protest that we do not accept the capitulation, and refuse to be bound to its observance. You shall send us back this courier with all speed to tell us what happens in either case; and at the same time inform Don Fernando, that he may know how to act, for we wrote to him that he was to shape his course regarding the ratification according to the Pope's attitude.
Innsbruck, 10 May, 1552.
Copy. Spanish.
May 11. Simancas, E. 80. A patent of Prince Philip of Spain, addressed to the Spanish Council, governors of provinces, courts of law, etc., in which it is stated that a former patent, issued at the time when war was declared between the Emperor and the King of France, had forbidden all subjects of the Emperor to trade with the French. As it was not especially mentioned whether the Portuguese, English, Genoese, Italians, and subjects of other friendly countries, might deal with the French and bring French merchandise to Spain, the present patent was issued to make it known that no foreigner, nor any Spanish subject, was to bring French goods into Spain by land, under pain of confiscation. Notwithstanding this prohibition, the Portuguese, English, Geneose, Italians, and subjects of other friendly states, might trade with France in ships belonging to their several nations, and, after taking the French goods back to their own countries, might bring them to Spain by sea and dispose of them by sale, provided the goods were not French property, in which case they should be subject to confiscation.
Madrid, 11 May, 1552.
Spanish. Signed Philip and countersigned Francisco de Ledesma.
May 14. Brussels, E.A. 101. Jacques Nasius to Laurens Longin, Treasurer-General.
M. Van Buren arrived here yesterday for dinner, and I spent all the afternoon in conference with him. He handed me a writing sent to him by M. d'Eecke with her Majesty's (i.e. the Queen Dowager's) apostils and orders, from which it appeared that her Majesty intended to have most of the payments assigned in Spain, as M. Van Buren also said her Majesty had instructed him. He gave us to understand, however, that this would delay the departure of the fleet, because a bargain had been made with the masters of the ships that all the money owing to them was to be paid here, part—and the greater part—in ready money before their departure, and part on their return. As M. Van Buren remarked, it would be very difficult to upset this arrangement, as the masters would certainly refuse to agree to any alteration without obtaining the consent of their partners, who were some 3 or 4,000 men in all, and would probably insist on sticking to the first bargain. As for the soldiers and sailors, however, it would be possible to make arrangements in Zeeland that their payment should take place in Spain. We replied that if no alteration could be made without delaying the fleet's departure, as far as we were concerned we would consent to leave things as they were, and would supply as much money as should be required according to their estimate, which amounted to 74 or 75,000 florins. On the preceding Sunday we had sent off 50,000 florins, and we had here ready a further sum of 36,000 carolus (i.e. florins) to take with us to Zeeland. We should consequently be much astonished if complaints were made of lack of money, and the delay of the fleet were ascribed to that, for the ships had only assembled on the 6th of this month, when 24,000 florins were ready in Zeeland, whilst four days later other sums of 12,000 and 14,000 florins had been sent, which together came to 50,000. Beyond that, as we had told M. d' Eecke, we had 36,000 carolus ready, and on hearing from the commissioners what was required we would supply 100,000, 110,000, or even 120,000 carolus more.
All this may be settled in Zeeland, whither the burgomaster and I are going to-morrow, in order to arrive there Monday morning. There will be no lack of money, and everything that can contribute to the safety of the undertaking (i.e. the fleet's voyage to Spain) ought to be done, as everyone here greatly hopes it will because of the rumours current of the mighty force the French have at sea. News to this effect are arriving from all quarters, and as all these indications are in agreement it is to be feared there is something in them; besides which a common rumour that has been going so long is not wholly to be scorned The result is that terror has seized the hearts of merchants and burgesses during the last few days; for they fear their goods are going to run a great risk, and are moreover alarmed because no boats have been sent out to spy on the enemy's movements and see whether the coast is clear. This is a very grave matter, for a disaster to the fleet would mean irreparable loss to this country, its inhabitants in general, and the city of Antwerp in particular, because of the large interests it has at stake. Everyone here is at his wits' end, and if anything untoward were to happen—which God forfend!—none of us would dare wait here for the news. We consider the responsibility too heavy for us, and the matter so important that her Majesty herself and the Council ought to consider it if their other business can be made to allow them time.
We are informed that 40 good French ships are lying in different English ports, such as Plymouth, Dartmouth, Southampton and others in that neighbourhood, waiting for our fleet to pass. If this is true, it may be imagined how many there will be at Le Havre, Brest, Dieppe and other ports in Normandy and Brittany. Vulgar report has it here that there are as many as 200 sail, though I am unable to believe it. They also say an order has been cried in the harbours of Brittany, Normandy and other parts of France that all privateers are to put into a certain port and there join the King's fleet, to serve if need arises.
Be that true or not, there is no doubt about it that the French have long been preparing to fall on this fleet, as their lust for plunder is spurring them on to do. They have one great advantage: that they have nothing to lose, whilst we have much; so that this fleet of ours comes as a mountain of gold, to be assailed and conquered by starving men from whom, as the saying goes, there is nothing but bullets and pikes to be taken. Our ships are large and heavy, laden with goods, hard to handle, and theirs light and fast, able to sail round and round ours; all of which makes our enterprise hazardous, and theirs promising. We talked all this over with M. Van Buren who, as far as we could see, did not seem to consider all as safe as it should be, especially in view of recent news. He said that at first he had been of opinion that there ought to be as many as 6,000 men, and at least ten or twelve war-ships to 40 merchantmen. Her Majesty and the Council, however, had wished to avoid the expense, and it was too late to alter all the plans now, so we must trust to luck with the forces already assembled. The gentlemen and merchants here who are principally concerned do not share this view and have charged me to write to you, who are at Court and might find an opportunity of broaching the matter to her Majesty. The gentlemen felt bound to speak, in order that no blame might attach to them were the worst to happen, and that they might never be accused of not having given fair warning. The merchants seem to be ready to support further expense for the sake of reinforcing the convoy, as long as it is done at once. They say, and we also think, it would be better to abandon the undertaking altogether than to take such risks in so important a matter, and gratuitously. Another fact, that militates against the retention of the first plan, is that the Dutch ships that are in the habit of going to Spain and Portugal for salt and which, as it was supposed, were going to accompany this fleet, have now abandoned all intention of starting, which will make the fleet much weaker than we had foreseen at first. This appears to have been occasioned by the safe-conducts issued to go to Brouage (fn. 8) for salt; for the Dutch ships will do so, whilst if they were not allowed to go to Brouage they would have gone to Spain or Portugal for their salt. This has been explained to us by certain Spaniards; and clearly it would be much better if all the safe-conducts for France, for all and sundry kinds of goods, were to be annulled. If they had not been isued since the opening of this war, and if the French had not been allowed to come hither with their wine, salt and flour (pastel), France would now be in such straits of want and poverty that its inhabitants would thereby be throwsn into greater despair than by many invasions.
As for remedying our present position, the only thing to do is to increase the number of war-ships that are to convoy the fleet, adding four or six more to the six that are already there. The additional ships would have to be taken from among his Majesty's on the same terms as the others, and chosen for their adaptability to the purpose in view. We would soon be able to get together men, provisions and everything else required, without delaying the departure of the fleet. We do not know whether her Majesty would be inclined to accept this suggestion; but you might try to bring it before her, and I believe her anxiety for the success of the undertaking would cause her to adopt if if she were fully informed of how things stand.
If any evil were to befall—which God forbid!—we would afterwards wish we could get rid of the blame for four times the expense. The Frenchmen's bragging ought to incite us to do our utmost, and not mind upsetting the first arrangement; for in war one is constantly obliged to change one's plans according to occurrences. We might obtain further reinforcements by commandeering our privateers as the French have done theirs; and this plan had been thought of here before we heard of what had happened in France. The worst of it is that very few privateers are here to be found, as most of them have disarmed their vessels because, thanks to the safe-conducts, they found no shipping to capture. So the good people, deprived of their spoils, have gone home. And this is the last thing we have been able to think of that might serve at the present moment; so on these facts we must make up our minds to take the risks or abandon the enterprise. If you will, you may mention these points to her Majesty, though we regret having to importune her so often, and always with so unpleasant matters, that it is no wonder if she thinks she will never get rid of us. But the present affair could not be of greater importance, and it is a question of risk all or lose all; so we cannot neglect anything that may be of use.
While the above was being written, news came from M. d'Eecke and our commissioners with the fleet that everything was in order: the 40 merchantmen, all but one or two that have not appeared, the six war-ships, all the crews, soldiers, provisions and other appurtenances. Nothing remains but to pay the masters, soldiers, sailors and others, and for that purpose we shall send another 36,000 florins over and above the 50,000 already dispatched. M. Van Buren left this evening, and we shall go early to-morrows. According to what M. d'Eecke and our commissioners write, the above sum of money will be no more than sufficient to meet expenses before the fleet sails. M. d'Eecke has ordered all the ships in the harbour to draw out and he off Rameguins to await a favourable wind. This is good news, and gives one ground to hope all may go well, and the sea deliver its burden. But the reinforcements above-mentioned might still be arranged for without delaying the fleet's departure.
Yesterday arrived here the governor of the English, the Court Master called Dansell, who is back from England and right glad, I believe, to have crossed over safely. I talked with him this afternoon and tried to find out what was happening in England, though I was unable to learn much more than that he pretty well owns to the truth of the above news about the French ships. He says the Earl of Warwick, or Northumberland, and the rest of the government are all staunch friends of the Emperor. They are so fond of him, and desirous of his welfare, that their only fear is he may get the worst of it with the King of France, who has very strong forces at his command and has already been successful at Metz and in Lorraine; especially as his Imperial Majesty appears to be malting no preparations to defend himself. The English, Dansell says, all regret this exceedingly, for they wish great prosperity to his Majesty, from whom they have always experienced kindness. You may imagine the inwardness of all this, which Dansell said to me with mighty protestations, stipulating that I should not repeat it.
As for the French fleet in England, it might not be a bad plan to go and attack it there, where it seems to be so much at its ease, with 12, 15 or 20. well-armed ships. If they see we mean business, they may have reason to hang their heads when they find themselves unable to attack our fleet in the rear as soon as it has passed, which is perhaps what they have in view. This would have to be done quickly, and with an important force, and I think the merchantmen might well wait until the men-of-war had defeated the French, for then the coast would be clear for their voyage.
(The letter ends with a paragraph about the correspondents' private affairs.)
Antwerp, 14 May, 1552.
Signed. French.


  • 1. This person is Adolphe de Bourgogne-Wacken, Seigneur de la Capelle, Vice-Admiral of Flanders. His father, Antoine, was a natural son of the Grand Bâtard, Antoine, natural son of Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy; and he was therefore a cousin of Maximilian de Bourgogne, Seigneur de Beveren, Veere and Flushing, Admiral of the Low Countries, whose name often occurs in this volume in the Flemish form: Van Buren, and who was a legitimate descendant of the Grand Bâtard.
  • 2. See the letter of April 27th.
  • 3. See the Emperor's letter to Edward VI, dated May 30th.
  • 4. Jean Scheyfve and de Courrtères.
  • 5. The letter referred to seems really to be that of March 28th.
  • 6. Much information about Paulin's earlier career may be found in the Calendar, Spanish, volume ix, pp. 21, 32, 51, 83, etc.
  • 7. Much curious information on maritime law and piracy in the XVI. century may be found in Les Corsaires Dunkerquois, by Henri Malo (Paris, 1913).
  • 8. Brouage is a port, once of importance, near La Rochelle.