BHO

Spain: August 1552

Pages 557-561

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

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Citation:

August 1552

Aug. 3. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 19. Jehan Scheyfve to the Queen Dowager.
Madam: On the last day of July Messrs. Wotton and Hoby came to me on behalf of the King and Council to speak about your Majesty's demand for aid. Since the beginning of the war, they said, the King had always wished that peace might be made, to free Christendom from such disorders and troubles. He had trusted that some means of settling the differences between the two Princes might be found, and he would not fail to perform all good offices in his power to that end. But as the war still continued, and your Majesty had demanded aid, he wished to assure you once more, and also make it known to his Imperial Majesty, that he still remained in the same frame of mind that he had oftentimes declared, and anxious to continue the close friendship that had so long united the two Houses, and to please his Imperial Majesty in every way. But as for the assistance demanded, he knew your Majesty was well aware that he, in his tender youth, had had to sustain against France a war that had lasted long and cost him dear. He was still suffering from the effects of that effort, and consequently begged it might please the Emperor to hold him excused from rendering the aid. He also implored your Majesty, as a good and elder sister, that you would perform good offices with his Imperial Majesty; and he had no doubt you would do so. I replied, Madam, that the Emperor had always displayed great zeal for peace, and had done his utmost to keep it, and preserve the quiet and repose of Christendom, as he had clearly proved by his attitude at the beginning of the present war. French covetousness, however, as everyone knew, had been too strong. The Emperor and your Majesty would be very glad to hear of the King's kindly disposition of mind in this matter, though it was unlikely that any means of reconciling the two princes, and stopping the war, would be found; for things had gone too far, and the French were too ambitious. I assured them, moreover, that the King's protestations of friendship would find their echo with your Majesties. Coming to what they said about the King having had to fight a war with France that had cost him and his subjects dear, I assured them that your Majesties were quite aware of the fact that he had been at war with France; but this was a misfortune common to both sides, for the Emperor had also been obliged to submit to an enormous expenditure in his wars against France and Scotland, during which his subjects had suffered heavily, both at sea and on land, and now once more against France. I was sure that your Majesty would use all possible good offices with the Emperor; but it would certainly seem to you that the friendship ought to be warmer and more fruitful, especially now that the French were invading the Emperor's territories, and considering that the assistance demanded was nothing more than a sum of money, which the King could well afford to part with. They replied they were unable to deny that the Emperor was more peaceably inclined than certain other princes, or that he had been obliged to spend great sums in his wars. Still, he would be quite able to defend himself against the French. The chief point was that the demand did not only concern the giving of money, but would also involve England in another war with France at a time when a peace had only recently been concluded. In order to show that their friendship was good for something, they wished to inform me that the King had several times had huge offers made to him to declare himself against the Emperor; but neither he nor his ministers had ever consented because of their desire to preserve friendly relations with his Imperial Majesty. Were matters still as they had been under the late King, no difficulty at all would be made about granting the assistance.
I answered that I supposed the Emperor would do what was necessary for the defence of his dominions against French incursions, as your Majesty had done where the Low Countries were concerned. It must be remembered, however, that the King of France was using all his forces in this enterprise, and that your Majesty had asked for help in order that you and the English might combine to frustrate French designs. Although the Emperor had several times been at war with France, he had not based the present demand for help on former expenses; and although the King of England desired to remain at peace, the King of France was not in the habit of taking his neighbours' wishes into consideration, for the French nation was insatiable, and made war whenever it listed, even against all justice and honour. The King and his ministers had better not put too much trust in the recent peace, for the French were very new friends of theirs. It seemed to me that the French might be said to be making war on England already, for they were preying upon English subjects, whence it might appear how much the King of France's protestations of friendship were worth. That Prince always dissembled his projects, and as things were bound to change, he was reserving for a more favourable season a design which might cause them to appreciate the utility of the treaties, and the right to demand aid. The Emperor's affection for England had caused him always to acquit himself liberally, even beyond what the treaties bound him to; whilst the King of France had taken advantage of the King of England's minority to oppress him, and would have done so still more had not the Emperor declared to the French ambassadors that if their master attacked the King of England, he would be obliged by his duty towards England to declare himself against France, which caused the King of France to desist from several of his plans and machinations against this realm. The Emperor, I added, had always believed the King would inviolably observe the friendship, and never do anything to the prejudice of the treaties, in spite of the Frenchmen's boasts to the contrary, because he remembered how long the friendship had lasted, and it was notorious how the French behaved towards their friends, abandoning them in the hour of need. I finally exhorted them, as of my own accord, to examine and weigh most maturely this question of the demand for aid, for it was a matter of the greatest consequence to the welfare, security and repose of both countries. I prayed them to do so as one who loved this realm, and wished it well as heartily as they could themselves, desiring to do all that in me lay to further the friendship.
They told me that the King and Council would readily believe what I had said, and that my object was this kingdom's welfare. They thanked me for my good offices, but repeated that the King prayed the Emperor to excuse him, at least for the present, and begged your Majesty to desist from your demand. They felt sure your Majesties would do so, and would even assist the King, their master, were he to be invaded; for you knew how important it was for him to remain at peace, as you were as conversant with all English secret policy as they were themselves.
I told them that your Majesty had been in a position to demand assistance sooner, but had spared them up to the present to see what the French were planning, as your letters had stated. Now, more than ever, was the time to baulk the enemy; and I asked them how they understood their phrase “for the present.” They did nothing but repeat it, and I inquired whether they meant this demand, this year, or something else. They smiled, and answered that the Emperor and your Majesty, who were thoroughly informed of all their circumstances, would know what they meant. I reminded them that your Majesty had made the demand on the Emperor's behalf, and only for the Low Countries. If we were to inform the Emperor of their remarks, more time would be lost, as he was far away; and the delay mentioned in the treaties would soon have expired. They replied that they made no difference, as far as the assistance was concerned, between the Emperor and your Majesty; and they hoped that your Majesty would take the same attitude as that adopted by the Emperor. And that, Madam, was the end of our conference.
As for the passage, demanded of the English by the French, through the territory of Calais and the neighbourhood, and the refusal of the English, which I mentioned in my last Advices, I have made further inquiries. It seems to be true; and I also hear that certain letters of marque are being issued against the French, though the matter is pending until more news come from France, either by the ambassador who is said to be coming hither, or otherwise. They say the Duke of Northumberland will be back at Court within twelve or fourteen days. Some folk assert that there is a new revolt in Ireland; and that troops will have to be sent from here.
Old Ford, 3 August, 1552.
Signed. Cipher. French.
Aug. 21. Brussels, E.A. 103. M. d'Eecke to the Queen Dowager.
(Extract from a letter giving news of the fisheries, and of the Flemish merchant-fleet in Spain.)
Men are arriving here daily from England, and some who came yesterday from Southampton say the King of England was lately in that place, and had taken away all the carpenters to work on his men-of-war in the Thames; and that report said he was going to war with France. However, the season is far advanced to start preparing great ships for any enterprise proportionate to the expense involved; so it seems probable that nothing is intended more than to keep the ships in condition for this season. More news have I none.
Veere, 21 August, 1552.
Signed. French.
Aug. 23 (?). (fn. 1) Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 21. The President of the Council of State to Jehan Scheyfve.
My good brother: You not long ago recommended to me the affair of an Englishman who presented your letters. I have done my best, but have not entirely satisfied him.
At the same time Ambassador Chamberlain presented a petition that the Queen might write to the Council of Malines instructing them not to take into account, when dealing with an appeal now pending before them against a sentence given at Dunkirk against a certain Englishman, of the contents of a placard which had been the cause of the same adverse sentence. Her Majesty refused to do so, and indeed wrote to the Council that they were to judge in conformity with the placard, and that whenever any similar case came up before them, especially if the Commercial Convention between us and England were called into question, they were not to give sentence without consulting this court (i.e. the Council of State) which would be able to give them information as to the Convention, which the English often altered and tampered with. In spite of this, Chamberlain never ceases to clamour for strict observance of the Convention.
Chamberlain also told me that he had read over and over again the papers concerning the gunpowder confiscated at Amsterdam, about which he had been negotiating. After a thorough examination of the case, he was prepared to stake his share of paradise that we were wrong about the confiscation, and he desired me to tell the Queen so, requesting that her Majesty would have it restored without putting him to the pain of writing to the King and Council, for he feared they might be irritated if he did so, and he did not wish to embitter matters, but rather to do his utmost to promote an amicable settlement. I replied that the papers clearly showed the fraud committed by their agent, which had caused the confiscation of the powder. Her Majesty, who had been informed of the agent's misdeeds, had sent him the papers in order that he might advise the Council of their import, and copies had been sent to you for the same reason. When I reported my reply to her Majesty she instructed me to repeat it to Chamberlain, and to tell him, moreover, that his assertions had been found to be groundless. By a sentence already given, the King, his master, had been declared to have no claim, for he had recourse against his agent and other merchants who had committed the fraud. If to this end he wished to distrain the property of the said merchants resident in this country, he should obtain prompt justice. Chamberlain refused to accept this reply, and continued to ask to have the powder restored.
Copy. French.

Footnotes

  • 1. This letter is undated, but it appears to be the one referred to in Scheyfve`s letter to the President, of September 10th.