BHO

Spain: May 1552, 16-31

Pages 525-529

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

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Citation:

May 1552, 16–31

May 17. Brussels, E.A. 102. The Queen Dowager to MM. Van Buren, de la Capelle, and d'Eecke.
(The Queen Dowager refers to the remonstrances contained in Nasius' letter of May 14th as to the advisability of arming more ships to escort the merchant-fleet on its way to Spain. The expense involved would be so great that she feels unable to come to a decision without consulting expert opinion, and asks the persons to whom the letter is addressed to give theirs.)
It was also proposed that, as the French fleet is now in England, we might give it a fright there with 12, 15 or 20 well-armed ships, and prevent it from following or attacking our fleet. As you know the state of our navy and what it is possible to achieve with our ships, we desire you also to let us know what you think of this suggestion.
Maestricht, 17 May, 1552.
Minute. French.
May 19. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 19. Advices sent by Jehan Scheyfve and de Courriéres.
A muster of the bands of horse has been held at Greenwich. They amount to some 1,200 in number. Musters are to be held every three months; though as far as we know no particular object is in view. It is said, however, that certain private gentlemen are going to France.
The French have taken two English merchantmen coming from Spain, which had even touched at French ports. Their cargoes were valued at 40,000 ducats; and yet another ship coming from Spain has been plundered. The English merchants are greatly scandalised about this, and have complained to the King and Council, asserting that they would rather have war than such a peace with the French.
We hear that fifteen French warships arrived at Falmouth a few days ago; to wit, three galleons of 300 tons each, and three great Dutch hoys that the French took at the beginning of the war. The others are vessels of 100 to 200 tons more or less, and are all in good order and well-manned with soldiers and sailors. The fifteen ships have 6 or 7,000 prisoners on board between them; and Captain Paulin is Admiral. He brought into Falmouth twelve hoys from the Baltic, which were on their way towards Brouage for salt; but the warships have since set sail for Le Havre with the hoys, which seems suspicious to some people. It is believed that these fifteen ships, together with ten or twelve more that are still at Brest, make up the best part of the French naval force; and all are of the royal fleet. The rest are adventurers and small craft; and their number is uncertain. As for their projects, it has been heard from members of the crews of these fifteen ships that they are waiting for the Flemish and Spanish fleets; and it seems Paulin has promised the King of France part of them, and is encouraging his men with hopes of booty; though some still say the fleet is turned towards Zeeland, and would be quick to improve any opportunity. It seems to be certain that at present there are no French warships in any English port, at any rate towards the west.
The Earl of Warwick, son of the Duke of Northumberland, has been made Master of the Horse in place of the Earl of Pembroke, who, as some say, is soon to become Great Master in place of the Duke. Nonetheless, there is some coolness between Pembroke and the Duke of Northumberland, and it appears to have been increased by the marriage Pembroke has just contracted with the Earl of Shrewsbury's daughter, which has given Northumberland pause. The other day 50,000 pounds sterling of the King's funds were stolen at Westminster; and the thief has not yet been caught.
The Stillyard merchants have been before the King, who confirmed the sentence rendered by the Council depriving them of their privileges; but they are still waiting for some further reply, after which they intend to depart.
Some say the English mean to make good terms with the King of Denmark and his country, whither they intend to take their goods, exporting thence what commodities they may need.
Three days ago Mr. Erskine and two Scots gentlemen arrived here from France, and are soon to leave for Scotland. As far as we know, they have no charge for England.
French. Cipher.
May 19. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 19. Scheyfve and de Courrières to the Queen Dowager.
Madam: We have received your Majesty's letters of the 6th and. 9th instant, and will be governed, each of us where he is concerned, by their contents. It seemed to us opportune to inform the King and his Council of the news they brought, especially of the reply given by the Estates of Saxony to Duke Maurice. The King thanked us warmly, and soon afterwards sent to us Messrs. Wotton and Hoby to declare that the King and Council had heard our news with the greatest pleasure, because of the ancient friendship that bound his Majesty to his brother the Emperor. He intended to continue in its observance, as he had caused it to be declared to the Emperor, and more recently to your Majesty, and requested us to do our best for its continuance. Consequently, he desired that your Majesty would permit the exportation of a certain quantity of gun-powder, which his ministers had bought some time ago in Flanders, for he needed it now for his warships. His Majesty hoped you would give your consent, especially as the people of Antwerp would be glad to be rid of the powder because of the danger it represented. We replied that we would report this to your Majesty, especially the pleasure the King and Council had felt on receiving the news. The Emperor had several times declared his goodwill towards the alliance, and his desire to preserve and increase it, and your Majesty would not fail to do your utmost in the same cause, as you had assured Mr. (Sir Philip) Hoby when he was in Flanders, and later confirmed through me, Courrières. As for ourselves, we would never fail to render all assistance that in us lay, as we knew the intentions of the Emperor and your Majesty. We would immediately inform you about the powder, and endeavour to obtain what they asked for; but we desired to know whether it was the same powder about which they had formerly made a request. They replied it was the same; and we asked what difficulty had then been made. They answered that your Majesty Bad always made some excuse, but they really did not know on what grounds. We then explained to them that the reason was probably that his Imperial Majesty had been at war, or was expecting war soon to be declared. His enemies had neglected no point of their fortifications and garrisons; and he had been obliged to supply his own with great care, much powder being necessary because of the great extent of his dominions. They well knew, we added, how the Emperor had treated them in the past, both in peace and war; though we would perform all good offices and report their request to your Majesty. They still went on, Madam, to make a great point of the powder, saying that the friendship surely would permit them to be gratified in that respect, and adding that the King of France had heard what they were asking for, and had said it seemed there was little desire to please them in Flanders.
I, Scheyfve, then requested them to see to it that the captains and other prisoners at Rye, Dover and elsewhere should be set at liberty, or at any rate tried and confronted with the prosecution, so that justice might be promptly administered, as had been done in Flanders where English subjects were concerned, as I had stated more amply at our last meeting. They promised to do so.
Next, I asked when the Council would be pleased that I should come to them to reply to the charges of violence and oppression that Mr. Hoby had uttered before your Majesty on the King's behalf. They said they would inform the Council of my request.
When they were about to go, I, Courrieres, had a little speech of Wotton. We happened to mention the friendship, and he said the King meant to preserve it entirely, but that the war did not at all suit them, and they had had enough of it already (desia ilz en avoient leur saul).
Since our last letters to your Majesty, of the 8th instant, Secretary Armiger (fn. 1) came to see me, Scheyfve, to tell me on the Council's behalf that, according to what had been agreed at our last meeting, they had issued express orders to the Customs officials to allow the Emperor's subjects to ship goods for Flanders as they had formerly done. The Customs officials had been very bitterly upbraided by the Council for having acted otherwise, especially without the Council's order or knowledge; and for that reason they had now made the Chief of the Customs my prisoner (as Armiger said), that I might do what I liked with him. The man was therefore coming to present himself before me, and give me an account of the matter.
I replied that we had already informed your Majesty of the said permission, which had been reported to us by our people here but we would not fail to send you a more ample account of the case. Then the Customs official was shown in, and confessed to me the heavy fault he had committed in not allowing our people to freight ships for Flanders. He had done so because of a prohibition issued some time ago against the exportation of English goods and merchandise. Shortly afterwards the Council had issued orders that everyone was to be allowed to freight ships for a period of twenty days, and he had supposed that when this period had elapsed, his Imperial Majesty's subjects were no longer to be allowed to freight. The Council, however, had only meant this to apply to the English, Stillyard merchants and Italians, and not to the Emperor's subjects; wherefore he confessed he had acted wrongly, and begged me to pardon him, imposing upon him such correction as I should be pleased to dictate.
I told him I was sorry that he had failed to understand, but as he had only acted out of a mistake and not maliciously, I hoped the Council would take that into consideration. For my part, I most willingly forgave him, and added that I would speak to the Council if it were necessary. The man thanked me.
It looks from the above as if they wished to maintain that their former prohibition against shipping goods for Flanders still applies to the English and Italians, who are nonetheless free, as everyone else is, to freight for France, Spain and other countries. As for the Italians, Genoese, Florentines and Lucchese, some of them have come to see me to find out if they could not send their goods by our people, taking it for granted that, in this respect, they are included in the treaties between the two princes. I advised them to make a petition to the Council first, as they have done on former occasions; for I do not wish to raise this point, or bring the English into the question, before receiving your Majesty's instructions.
A few days ago we received a letter from the master of a sloop (zabra) which had brought hither the Spanish courier sent to your Majesty. The letter stated that the sloop had gone to another port since her arrival here, and had made for Falmouth, where she had been roughly handled by the French warships, as is contained in the enclosed letter. This seemed very strange to us; and we had the Council informed of the matter, requesting them to cause to be restored to our people what the French had taken from them at Falmouth, and to see that such acts did not recur. They replied that they had received letters from the commander of Falmouth Castle, who gave quite a different version, asserting that our people had received all the assistance they could have expected had they been English subjects. They also sent us the commander's letters, which we have had translated, in order to send a copy with this despatch, and have returned to the Council with our thanks, saying we would inform your Majesty.
The person whom we sent to the West Country returned yesterday, and has reported the details of the French fleet that your Majesty will find in the Advices. His news agree with other accounts we have heard; and the man has also assured us that the contents of the commander of Falmouth Castle's letter are exact.
Copy. French. Cipher.
May 30. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 1. The Emperor to Edward VI.
We have heard through letters from our good sister, Regent of the Low Countries, of your good health and desire to entertain the friendly and cordial relations that have of old existed between your kingdom and our hereditary states. This has given us great pleasure, as you will have heard from our faithful and well-beloved etc., M. de Courrieres, and you may always be sure that we shall return your affection, as we are writing at greater length to our sister, who will cause our words to be reported to you.
Villach, 30 May, 1552.
Copy or duplicate. French. Cipher.
May 31. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 19. Scheyfve and de Courrières to the Queen Dowager.
Madam: We have to-day received your Majesty's letters of the 26th instant, according to which we will, each of us as he is bidden, be ruled. As for the fleet mentioned in them, we have heard it passed through the Straits between Dover and Calais on the 29th instant at nine in the morning, firing several guns, which were answered from Dover Castle. The fleet is now believed to be far on its way, as it had a favourable wind.
The English warships are lying unarmed, four at Rye and the rest at Dover. They say this has been done to give the fleet plenty of room, and prove English neutrality.
Sir Henry Dudley, who was in command of the warships, had been instructed to proceed to Portsmouth with 100 well-armed foot-soldiers; but as he is still in London it is thought he will arrive too late.
Mr. Erskine and the other Scots gentlemen have left for Scotland, and we have been unable to discover that they have negotiated with the King of England or his Council.
We are sending to your Majesty the acts passed by the last Parliament, which it is now permitted to publish.
Copy. French. Cipher.

Footnotes

  • 1. In the Acta of the Privy Council, this person's name is given as Armigill Wade.