Spain: September 1552

Pages 561-566

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

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September 1552

Sept. 10. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 19. Jehan Scheyfve to the Queen Dowager.
Madam: As I said in my last letters of August 23rd, (fn. 1) I am still waiting for your Majesty's instructions regarding the demand for assistance, to act accordingly. As for news; the King of England is now in the neighbourhood of Winchester, and it is said that he has decided to interrupt his progress, and will be back at Windsor in six or seven days, some say because of the maladies prevalent in the country, and because his train complain of their food and lodgings, others in order that he and his Council may the more easily transact business and hear news.
The Duke of Northumberland joined the Court near Shrewsbury at a house belonging to the Earl of Pembroke. He only remained there four or five days, and then departed towards Kent, accompanied by most of the councillors, who also went home until the King should reach Winchester, where the Duke and other lords are to join him. The Earl of Pembroke entertained the King and his train most sumptuously.
The French ambassadors or deputies sent to treat about the seizures recently arrived in London. One is M. Aubry, civil lieutenant of Paris, who has charge of the mission, and the other M. de Pontaviller, the King's solicitor in Lower Normandy. It is said that they are instructed, among other things, to make complaints of the acts of violence and seizures committed from time to time by the English. The English merchants, therefore, have little hope of any satisfactory result, and are deeply dissatisfied with the French; for the depredations this realm has suffered at their hands are estimated at 160,000 pounds sterling. The French ambassador is back in London; and they say a new ambassador is soon to come from France to replace this one, who has asked to be allowed to retire.
As for Ireland, the matter is not as serious as it was made out. Some hundred English soldiers and partisans are said to have been assassinated; and the blow was aimed by a certain Irish captain who was sometime an English pensioner.
Old Ford, 10 September, 1552.
Signed. Cipher. French.
Sept. 10. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 21. Jehan Scheyfve to the President of the Council of State.
I received your letter of August 23rd on the 8th instant, together with certain writings concerning the powder confiscated at Amsterdam, about which Ambassador Chamberlain is still petitioning. I will act in conformity with the said letter.
As for his Majesty's subjects who are prisoners here, in whose favour you have also taken some steps by the Queen's orders, it seems that the English no longer qualify them as pirates, though they did so obstinately for a long time. So now our people are only accused of manslaughter, though it must be taken into consideration that they acted in defence of their persons, as they have proved, and also produced the testimony of an Englishman who was pilot on board one of their ships. There are other circumstances in their favour, as for instance that they saved the lives of some of the Irishmen. More conclusive proof than this would be difficult to obtain in a case of this sort, and I have constantly demanded that, in the interest of truth, the said Irishmen should be heard and confronted with the prisoners, which I have been unable to achieve. The prisoners have been examined on certain articles of the prosecution, and they confess the facts, but claim the benefit of attenuating circumstances, as above, to make which quite clear would be easy. I have thoroughly—not to say stubbornly—worked at the case in obedience to her Majesty's orders and letters from M. Van Buren, the Admiral; and M. d'Egmont; and it may well be that the ambassador (Chamberlain) may call my arguments stubborn. M. de Courrières, however, will testify to the moderation with which I have exposed my reasons, and how sharply we have been opposed. It may be that the ambassador himself oversteps the bounds of moderation when he so vehemently complains of inobservance of the Commercial Convention, which is his favourite theme, thought it be clearly proved to him that he is in the wrong. As for myself, I am easily satisfied when treated reasonably; but I do not know what the ambassador can find to say about the Convention in connexion with our prisoners. Serious complaints have been, and still are, made to me every day. They have obliged me to take some action, and I shall bring up the matter again at the earliest opportunity and with all due moderation and forbearance, hoping that the Council will take a more reasonable view of the question than does the ambassador.
Old Ford, 10 September, 1552.
Copy. French.
Sept. 13. Brussels, E.A. 62. The Queen Dowager to the Emperor.
As for the exchange of 200,000 ducats on Spain, I believe it will be hard to manage, even if your Majesty's power is very ample. This for several reasons, among others the scarcity of money, which has become so difficult to obtain that merchants, who take up small sums at a time at exchange to keep up their credit and meet their more urgent expenses, incur losses so heavy that several of the men who were considered strongest have failed. It is to be feared that if we were to try to raise as much as 200,000 crowns (sic) in ready money, even were we prepared to pay ruinous interest, we might not succeed in obtaining it. Everyone is agreed that the reason is to be looked for in the delay, of the fleet from Spain. The whole country is suffering from it, especially the people and merchants whose livelihood is at stake; to say nothing of the losses incurred through the prolongation of the time for which rent has to be paid for the ships, and wages to the men, in which your Majesty has one third, and the city of Antwerp two thirds share. Our only hope lies in the return of the fleet, or the possibility that your Majesty may open the Rhine and allow the goods, metal and ready money said to be waiting in Germany to pass freely into this country, which might enable us to make better terms. Therefore, my Lord, it seems to me, subject to your correction, that it would be well to postpone the above-mentioned exchange until the return of the fleet, if your Majesty's affairs are able to stand the delay. Nonetheless, I have begun to prepare the way for this operation by sending secret and discreet envoys to report on the state of exchange in Antwerp; and I will let you know of what little I may be able to achieve.
Brussels, 13 September, 1552.
Duplicate. French.
Sept. 17. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 1. The President of the Council of State to Jehan Scheyfve.
My good brother: I have received your letters of the 10th instant, and have already reported to the Queen what you write about our people who are prisoners in England. Her Majesty approves of your remarks and your intentions to bring the matter again before the Council, which I doubt not you will do with becoming restraint, as you say in your letters. You will do well to inform her Majesty of what reply is given you. I handed your letters over to her and sent a copy of them to the Emperor, for they arrived at just the right moment to enlighten us as to certain reports that were current here the very same day, to the effect that there had been a great change in England and an attempt had been made to transport the King to France, which I found difficult to believe.
Although the placard here does not permit the exportation of salt-fish or pitch, it has been decided to allow the English to take those articles out of the country without obtaining a passport or paying duty, at the urgent request of Ambassador Chamberlain. I am informing you of it in order that you may know how much we are doing to please him and the English. I assure you he is never without some grievance, though we do our best to satisfy him all round.
Brussels, 17 September, 1552.
Duplicate. French.
Sept. 19. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 1. Edward VI. to the Emperor.
Being informed that you are well on your road towards the Low Countries, we do not wish to let pass the opportunity of congratulating you in brotherly spirit, we who are your best brother and perpetual ally, on your safe journey and good health, at which we rejoice as much as at our own. To this we are moved by our true and sincere friendship for you, and by the confederation existing between the two houses, for we know your presence will afford great comfort to your dominions, and enable you successfully to conduct your affairs, which we hope will prosper as well as our own. (fn. 2) And we beg you to give credence to what our faithful and well-beloved Councillor, Mr. Richard Morison, knight, our ambassador with you, shall say to you on our behalf.
Windsor, 19 September, 1552.
Signed. French.
Sept. 23. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 19. Jehan Scheyfve to the Queen Dowager.
Madam: As the King has arrived at Windsor, where he is to remain several days, I intend to visit his Majesty and salute him, especially as I have heard that the Duke of Northumberland and other councillors have also come to Court.
By way of news, Madam, it is said that certain French ships have recently been carried away by gales near Plymouth and other ports towards the West. Some say they were twenty or thirty in number, others more. They were bound, with their cargoes, for Bordeaux, Rouen, La Rochelle and other places, and were escorted by six or seven warships. When they put into the above-mentioned harbours they were arrested, it seems, at the instance of certain English merchants of those parts, in order the more easily to obtain restitution of their goods that had been pillaged by the French. But immediately afterwards they were released by the Council's orders; though it is said that the local officials searched the vessels to see if they could find any English goods on board them. They say the French still have some ships at Dieppe to fall upon the fishermen, and frighten the fleet from Spain.
The ambassadors or commissioners sent from France to negotiate about seizures are in London, but have done nothing as yet, and it seems the conference is to be put off until the King comes to London in about fifteen days. It is believed that they are first going to insist on their version that many French ships have been subjected to seizure by the English, especially while the last peace but one was being concluded, and next to maintain that the (presence of) enemies' goods causes the whole to be confiscated, so that these affairs are the province of the ordinary courts.
The passage between Dover and Calais and some others have been closed, in order, it is believed, to catch certain gentlemen who were formerly supporters of the Duke of Somerset, some of whom have already been thrown into the Tower. They are said to have plotted against the Duke of Northumberland, or at least talked significantly about him. At the same time the Florentine, Antonio Guidotti, who arranged the last peace between France and England, was arrested at Dover. Some say he wished to leave this kingdom for good, and had only the general passport that was given to him when he was engaged in the peace negotiations; others are of opinion that he was suspected, among other things, of having been instructed by the French ambassador to carry the news of the arrest of the above-mentioned vessels. There are people who affirm that Guidotti had often been heard to declare that he knew a way of making peace between the King of France and the Emperor. However, Guidotti has since been set at liberty.
They said here that the French ambassador invited the King, when he was at Portsmouth, to a banquet on board a galley in order to take him away to France; but as far as I can find out there is nothing in it, and the story is very unlikely, for it seems that no galley nor other French ship was at Portsmouth at the time. The origin of the report is thought to be rather the general feeling against the French and some of the councillors than anything else. There is also a rumour that the Earl of Pembroke has been summoned to Court, and that there is great hostility between him and the Duke of Northumberland. The Earl is still at his house of Wilton near Shrewsbury, where he entertained his Majesty with great magnificence. The King was served in vessels of pure gold, his Council and Privy Chamber in silver gilt, and all the members of his household, down to the very least, in silver. All this plate belongs to the Earl, who presented the King, on his departure, with a very rich camp-bed, decorated with pearls and precious stones.
The English have begun to ship great quantities of cloth to Flanders. Over 40,000 cloths are said to be going; and the reason is partly that the Stillyard merchants no longer enjoy their privileges. The English are also shipping goods to Spain; but not without well-armed escorts.
My Lord Grey has been appointed Deputy of Calais, which seems strange to certain persons.
Old Ford, 23 September, 1552.
Signed. Cipher. French.


  • 1. I have failed to find any letter from Scheyfve of this date.
  • 2. Some light is thrown on the reasons that prompted the writing of this letter by an entry for September 16th in Edward's Journal, which states that Stukeley had come from France and claimed to have heard from the King of France's own lips that he intended to attack Calais or England itself. Three days later “on entente to get some friends,” it was decided to instruct the ambassador resident with the Emperor to suggest a league against the Turk, in order to see how the ground lay for action against France. Reasonings for and against joining the Emperor against France, drawn up by Cecil, are printed in the Literary Remains of Edward VI, under the date of September 23rd, and the writer evidently favoured action in accordance with the treaty with the Emperor. On October 7th, however, letters came from Pickering, ambassador in France, to prove that Stukeley was an impostor, and the French ambassador in London was informed of what he had said, in order to discredit other English refugees in France,