Spain: October 1552

Pages 566-582

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

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October 1552

Oct. 2. Brussels, L.A. 60. The Queen Dowager to Thomas Dansell.
We are at present in need of a certain quantity of powder, and request you to lend us the 112 barrels, (fn. 1) amounting to 40,896 pounds of powder in all, which you have at Antwerp, to be used in the service of the Emperor, my Lord and brother. We assure you we will return the same amount to you within three or four months, together with the passport, which we are having drawn up afresh. We hope you will not fail to oblige us in this, and are sending to you Jehan Duboys, commissioner for his Majesty's artillery, to whom you may safely deliver over the powder, accepting a receipt from him. In so doing, you will do us a great pleasure, and contribute to the friendly relations existing between his Majesty, and the King, your master.
Brussels, 2 October, 1552.
Minute. French.
Oct. 10. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 19. Jehan Scheyfve to the Queen Dowager.
Madam: To take up the thread of my last letters, I went to Court at Windsor to congratulate the King's Majesty on his return. I first approached the Duke of Northumberland. We talked of several matters, the latest news and other affairs, and I did not fail to mention the demand for assistance, saying that your Majesty felt sure he would support the friendship between the two countries and the cause of their common defence, that had become so necessary now the designs of the King of France had been exposed. That prince appeared to wish to lord it over the whole world, for he showed scant respect for other sovereigns. These and other similar remarks I made in order to incline him favourably towards the alliance. He appeared to be of the same opinion, and assured me that the King and all his Council were convinced partisans of the friendship. For his own part, he had always done his best to further it; and he said in so many words that anyone who did otherwise would be no faithful servant to the King. Still, he wished to take this opportunity to tell me, speaking quite frankly and by way of conversation, that the Emperor seemed not to care much for the King, his master; for since the death of the late King, his father, his Imperial Majesty had sent no one to visit him. The Duke went so far as to appear to imply that it would have been at least suitable to send someone to make the demand for aid. I thanked him for his zeal for the friendship, and remarked that his Imperial Majesty had always distinguished himself beyond other princes by his treatment of confederates and allies, tempering his greatness and authority with equity and clemency, as was well-known to all men. As for sending some personage to visit the King, that was a formality only used on certain occasions. There was also the fact of his Majesty's absence, for he had been away from the Low Countries. I hoped, however, that I yet might see an interview between the Emperor and the King, for whom his Imperial Majesty had the greatest affection. As for the demand for aid, it had been made by your Majesty on the Emperor's behalf and in his name, and for the Low Countries only. I also pointed out to him that the Council had made no difference between the Emperor and your Majesty in this case, as they had clearly declared to me in the last answer I had received from them; for otherwise the defect would have been remedied. He only answered that they had formerly sent missions to the Emperor, especially to demand the ratification of the treaties, but he had not consented, saying that he still considered himself bound, but they might keep their freedom. I replied that it seemed very strange to me that his Majesty should thus wish to bind himself, for treaties were reciprocal; but perhaps there had been some question of amplifying or limiting the treaties, and the matter had been suspended or delayed on that occasion, and had not been resumed later. He said the ambassadors had only demanded a bare and simple ratification in the terms in which the treaty had been concluded between the Emperor and the late King of England. I assured him I had never heard that said; but he went on: “if the Emperor had shown us a little favour against France, Boulogne might never have been given up, and the present war might not have ensued.” I pointed out that his Imperial Majesty was not obliged to defend Boulogne; for it was a new conquest. Notwithstanding, he had behaved in such a way towards England that the King of France had several times complained of his attitude. The Duke retorted that the English wanted no help, but only the Emperor's favour. I told him his Majesty had done much more, but perhaps had not consented to all their demands because he remembered how bitterly the Estates of Flanders had complained of the ill-treatment received by Flemings in the service of England. He replied that I might colour the matter as I liked, but I well knew the contrary to be true. I assured him that was not the case. He dropped the point, and went on to assert that at the same time several places mentioned in the treaties had been invaded with hostile intent by the French, and that the same had happened in Scotland, and no attention had been paid to these facts in spite of the remonstrances addressed to his Majesty. I told him those invasions had not been carried out in the manner, nor with the number of troops specified by the treaties. He replied: “Yes, they were, and with numbers and forces greater than those mentioned in the treaties.” I asked when that had happened; and he said: ”Since the late King's death.” I then remarked that the Emperor's dominions and subjects still suffered greatly from the effects of the Scots war, into which his Imperial Majesty had gone for the sake of the English, in spite of the fact that the Scots were old friends of the Low Countries. I supposed, I added, that all these disputes had been threshed out by Parliament; and if the Emperor cared to review and refresh all past occurrences he would doubtless be able to bring up various points; but now was the time to cease discussion and proceed to look after our common defence, especially considering the designs the Frenchmen had formed. At that the Duke laughed and took me by the arm, saying he would make me judge of the question; and he called my Lord Cobham and Secretary Cecil, telling them what we had been saying. They admitted that the Duke was right; and when I repeated my endeavours to bring them to a favourable view of the matter, they assured me that the King, their master, would not fail to keep up friendly relations, and his Council would straitly observe the same course.
Soon afterwards, Madam, I was admitted to the King's presence, and offered my congratulations, saying that it would give the Emperor and your Majesty great pleasure to know of his Majesty's good health, of which I would not fail to inform you. To his inquiries after the Emperor's health, I replied that it was excellent—God be praised!—and that he was advancing at the head of a powerful army towards the Low Countries, and had already passed Strassburg on his way to attack the enemy. The King told me he had heard the same news, and was very glad. He then asked me how affairs were progressing in Germany. I told him that, as he had already heard from your Majesty, Duke Maurice had made terms with the Emperor, and the Landgrave (Philip of Hesse) had been released; so Germany was pacified. It was true the Marquis Albert (Albrecht Alcibiades of Brandenburg-Culmbach) was still doing his worst in the name of Germanic liberties; but it was to be hoped that he would submit out of regard for his duty and the benefits the Emperor had showered on him. The Marquis, I added, was the King of France's devoted henchman. The King laughed and said these were good news. I then proceeded to expound the designs of France, touching briefly on the questions of assistance; but he only replied that the friendship was in the interest of both countries, and he would not fail to maintain it, without saying anything further.
While I was at Court, Sir Thomas Gresham, the King's agent in Antwerp, who is to be appointed Court-Master, as it is said, came and told me, after some indifferent conversation, that he had been instructed by the chief merchants of London to assure me of the devotion they and the kingdom in general felt for the ancient friendship between the two countries, which was so necessary to the safety and welfare of each. As for the friendship of France, that was quite a different matter; and he enumerated the great losses and robberies they had suffered at the hands of the French, together with the slender hope they had of obtaining any restitution or amends. It would have been more honourable, and better for the country, he said, if war had been declared against France; and he and the merchants hoped to make such representations to the King and Council as might induce them to consent to it, for now was the best time. He assured me he believed the King and Council to be more than ever inclined towards a still closer alliance with the Emperor, and begged me to do my best to bring one about, for it would be a good work. In reply, Madam, I praised the merchants' good intentions, and said they did well to be incensed against France, for that country had treated them most scurvily under guise of friendship; though this was not to be wondered at, for the French were wont thus to behave towards their friends and neighbours. I supposed, however, that the merchants would obtain full restitution of their property; for otherwise the thing would become intolerable. For my part, I would not fail to do my duty, as I had done in the past, furthering friendly relations and increasing them to the best of my ability; and I begged him to write to the English ambassador in Flanders to do the same, which he said he had already done. I suspect, Madam, seeing that Gresham is a thorough-going partisan of the Duke of Northumberland, that he was sent to me by the Duke himself; for he came to me almost immediately after we had held the conversation reported above. It is nonetheless true that all the merchants and commons are crying out against the French, and cursing them.
London, 10 October, 1552.
Signed. French. Cipher.
Oct. 11. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 19. Jehan Scheyfve to an unnamed correspondent. (fn. 2)
I received your letters of the 15th (fn. 3) of September on the 29th of the same month. I spoke to the Duke of Northumberland on the subject of the captain and sailors, prisoners here, and he held out some hope to me, though he referred the business for a final settlement to my next meeting with the Council, as it was an important matter. I shall not fail to bring it forward on that occasion, and I trust they will respect the persons of the said subjects of the Emperor to mark their sense of the indulgent manner with which they are treated in our country. I mentioned it to the Duke, who could not deny it.
I wrote to the Queen concerning the great changes which were reported over seas as having taken place in England recently, and the rumour that it was planned to take the King across to France. I have not been able to discover anything beyond what I am writing to the Queen.
Sir: I think it suitable to inform you that I visited the Duke of Northumberland when he passed through London on his way to Windsor, and after presenting your compliments and giving him news of your health, I told him that I had intended to follow the King's progress through his realm from the beginning, but had been prevented by my wife's indisposition, which followed upon her giving birth to a son. When she was better, and I was ready and disposed to start to join the Court, I received information that the journey was broken off, the King about to return, and that the Duke was already gone to Kent. I mentioned that it was my intention to beg his Majesty the King to be godfather to my son, and I hoped his Majesty would forgive my boldness; and I added other courteous remarks. He replied that he was very glad to hear of the birth of the child, especially of a son, and that he felt assured that the King would be pleased to hear the news and would willingly condescend to grant my request. I thanked his Majesty and the Duke, and declared that it was my intention to ask his Excellency to perform the same office. He replied that I honoured him too much in asking him to share it with the King. I replied that he would honour me by accepting, and I told him that I proposed to ask the Lady Mary's Grace to stand godmother to the child, and he showed himself to be well pleased.
Finally, I said to him that as I held him to be my good lord and friend, I wished to mention a certain matter to him which I had been turning over in my mind, namely, that I supposed that the personage who would stand for the King at the baptism of my son would make no objection to the ceremonies of baptism. I desired to inform him too, I said, as I should feel greatly grieved if the King were to make any objection to them, and I wished to avoid any possibility that confusion and scandal should arise. My intention in mentioning the matter was to give an assurance to the Lady Mary, and act myself according to the reply he would make. He replied, smiling, that I was well aware that his master entertained scruples on such matters, and went no further. I said that I hoped his Majesty would make no objection, as my late predecessor's son, Edward, was christened according to the rites of our country. He remarked with the same countenance that the laws and constitutions of the realm had not then been published. I said, Yes, they were; but I dared say that they had been added to since. Long afterwards the wife of my said predecessor, who was over seas at the time, had given birth to a girl-child, and declared expressly to certain members of the Council who held the child at the font that she intended the christening to take place according to the ancient rites, as was done without any further difficulties. I then took his hand to avoid driving him to give an answer in so many words, and said to him: “My Lord, I hope the matter will go through as I wish, and that his Majesty, whom I shall visit very shortly, will consent to do me this honour.” He asked me to dine with him, and we parted on very friendly terms.
When I arrived at Windsor I presented my duty to the King, as I wrote to her Majesty the Queen, and, after giving him certain news, I said to him that God had granted me a son, who was a little Englishman, and that I had not been able to obtain the same gift in my own country; and I beseeched him most humbly to do me the honour to be godfather to him, and to send even the least of his household in his place, and forgive me for my boldness. He replied that he was very glad to hear my wife had given birth to a son, and that he would very willingly be his godfather. I thanked his Majesty very humbly. I then turned away and went towards the Duke of Northumberland, who in the presence of several of the Council asked me if I had given my news to the King. I said that I had, and that he had been well pleased. He then asked me if I had made my request to the King concerning the christening of the child. I affirmed that I had, and that his Majesty had honoured me by acceding to it. I talked a little with them, and nothing more was said about the baptism; except that the Duke enquired when it was to be. I replied, at the time most convenient to his Majesty and his Excellency. He asked if I had yet been to see the Lady Mary's Grace. I said I had not, and that I proposed to go shortly to pay my duty to her. He approved, and remarked that the date must then remain uncertain as her Grace's pleasure was not ascertained. I replied that I was sure she would wait on the King's decision. But he insisted that I should inform him of the date decided upon, saying that the King's deputy would be ready at any time, and that he personally would not fail me. I went to see the Lady Mary and made the same request to her. She expressed herself equally pleased, and said the date should be fixed according to the King's pleasure. I sent a message to this effect to the Duke, who actually appointed a day, and dismissed my man; but then had him called back, and asked if the christening was to take place publicly in church. He replied that he knew nothing except that we should observe the customs of our country, and that the child was to be christened in my house at Old Ford.
He observed that he could not tell how the King would take it; and though he spoke to him apart, the Lord High Treasurer, (fn. 4) the Marquis of Northampton, the Lord Chamberlain, and the Secretaries Petre and Cecil were in the same chamber. He added that I had certainly mentioned that point to him in London, but that he thought I had spoken to the King about it, and he would let me know. The Council would send me a message the following day. My man withdrew, and after a good space of time, he was sent for again, and the Duke declared to him in the presence of the above-mentioned gentlemen that they had all gone to the King and informed him that it was my intention to christen my child according to the rites observed in my country; that the King objected to this, and would not be a party to it, nor commit a transgression against the laws and ordinances of his kingdom, but that he would willingly stand as godfather if I would observe the said laws. They told my man to bring me back the message, and ascertain my wishes. I was extremely astonished to hear his account of what had taken place; and determined to go to Court in person, in the belief that the King's and Council's object was to make a certain amount of difficulty on account of the laws and ordinances, and finally grant my request as a special grace and concession, to prove their desire to please and gratify his Imperial Majesty. I spoke first to the Duke, and said that I had heard from my man that the King now raised certain objections to sending his proxy to hold the child at the font; that I hoped his Majesty would not withdraw the honour he had conferred on me; and that being the head of the kingdom and ruler of it and its laws, he could not break nor infringe them, but all the world would know why his Majesty would suspend them in my favour. If the decision were irrevocable, then I could wish that I had been informed earlier, for he might suppose that I had spoken of the matter to certain friends; and I added that neither he nor the King could well be ignorant of my faith, especially as I had warned him, and it seemed strange to me that my predecessor's children should have been baptised according to the old religion, and that new rules should be applied to me. He replied that he had done his best to induce the King and the Council to accede to my request, but that he had not succeeded, because the laws and ordinances must be respected. He thought I had mentioned the matter to the King when I first spoke to him, and he added that my predecessor's children were baptised according to the English fashion. I retorted that it was not so, and that he had told me himself the other day that there were then no published laws; and that I had not deemed it suitable to discuss the point with the King. At this juncture he observed that I might speak again to the King on the subject. I did so, and finding myself in his presence, I represented to him in as gracious and modest a manner as I could, what I had said already to the Duke of Northumberland. He replied that he was firmly resolved that his laws and constitutions should be obeyed within his realm, just as the Emperor's were in his own country; that a different course of conduct would be against his conscience; and that he was very sorry to be unable to comply with my request. I thanked him humbly, and represented to him that I had hoped and did even yet hope that his Majesty would not refuse me the honour I had been granted, as his conscience would receive no stain, the principle of diverse usage having once been conceded, as it was in the case of my predecessor's children. He replied that he could not make an exception now, and did not intend to do so, although the said children might have been christened differently (that is to say, allowed to have Anglican sponsors though christened according to Roman rites). I was aware that he had received his instructions, and thanked his Majesty once more for his good will.
Sir: I have done my utmost to find out what could have moved them to treat me in such fashion, as they showed me the greatest honour and even assigned me a lodging at Court in the castle of Windsor itself. As far as I can ascertain, they take their stand chiefly on the fact that the Emperor will not permit their ambassadors to practice the Anglican religion in his dominions, and also they desire to discountenance the Lady Mary's Grace, especially as they have lately made new and more stringent laws regarding religious observances. To this are to be added the rumours current on the recent troubles in Germany. I had long looked for an encounter of this kind; but I expected to be treated differently, because several lords of the Council had often told me of their own accord that my wife would present me with a son whose name should be Edward, and especially as I had taken care to obviate any ground for offence by deciding against a public christening, and having it performed in my own house outside London; and also by asking the Lady Mary's Grace not to be present in person. She is by no means well, and wishes to be most humbly and affectionately recommended to the Queen's Majesty.
Sir: My child is not christened yet, as I did not wish to compromise any of the gentlemen or foreign merchants who might be found here; and even so the feminine sex would fail me. I must consider the Song's declaration that he intends his laws and ordinances to be strictly obeyed in his kingdom and his own refusal to take part in the christening, and it seems to me, subject to correction, that when all the circumstances are duly weighed, there is no course open to me except to send my son across the sea and have him christened quietly, as soon as the season permits. At present he would be exposed to great dangers from the enemy, and of other kinds too. In case of necessity, I could always do what the exigency required. I had laid out fifty or sixty pounds owing to the hopes I had entertained.
Sir: I have written a word about all this to my Lord Bishop of Arras. For the rest, I will refer you to my letters to the Queen, and I beg you to send a duplicate of them to the Emperor. There is no need to admonish you, as I know; but I am not sending them myself because I am not yet familiar with the cipher, and it still gives me very great trouble. I also beg you to communicate to the same reverend Bishop the contents of my private letters, so that he way act in any way that seems best to him. Present my excuses to him if he thinks I am to blame. I am astonished about the delay, considering that he set out some time ago. (A reference, probably, to the messenger who carried the letters.)
London, 11 October, 1552.
Signed. French. Cipher, except for the first and last paragraphs.
Oct. 13. Brussels, E.A. 62. The Queen Dowager to the Emperor.
In my preceding letters I gave your Majesty some hope of being able to get together a sum of 100,000 crowns, of which I had made sure; but money is so scarce here that I have as yet been able to get possession of little or none. Unless the fleet, of which we have no news, arrives, I forsee it will be extremely difficult to obtain the advance of 200,000 crowns that your Majesty desires, whilst there is no hope at all of a larger sum, as I have explained in other letters. I must not conceal from you that had I not helped myself out with money I had ready here to pay the cavalry, I would have been unable to send your Majesty the 150,000 crowns recently despatched. I am so short of money myself, and find it so hard to obtain any, that I am in great perplexity as to paying the troops, whose monthly wages are due or will fall due very soon, and the advance of 200,000 ducats (sic) your Majesty wants. In the hope of obtaining some relief, I decided to send for Fugger's agent in Antwerp, Matthias Ortel, knowing only too well that times are so hard that no other merchants can do anything for me. After long conferences, the agent said he neither dared nor desired, for any consideration whatsoever, to arrange any loan until Fugger should have supplied your Majesty with the entire amount of 400,000 ducats which he had agreed to let you have at Genoa, though it seemed to him that Fugger had done his share already by offering to allow the Genoese merchants to profit by his credit. Ortel offered, however, in order to satisfy your Majesty, to do his very utmost to have the 400,000 ducats supplied at Genoa, in accordance with the agreement concluded, hoping that you would issue orders that no difficulty should be made about handing over the money in Spain.
This, he said, would greatly improve your Majesty's credit, and every one else's as well. He could not definitely assure me that the advance of 200,000 crowns would go through, which agrees with the contents of Fugger's letter sent me by your Majesty, so that I might refer to it if necessary. Considering that our wants are so pressing, and that I am credibly informed there is no money to be got out of anyone except Fugger, I thought I had better accept his agent's proposal so that he might start finding the money at once. I assured him that your Majesty would consent to issue orders concerning the acceptance in Spain. I did so, prompted by Fugger's letter, which you sent for my guidance, and I beg you to send me a copy of the agreement for the 400,000 ducats at Genoa, so that its terms may guide me in my attempts to find money. Please also inform me how soon you will need the other 400,000 ducats specified in the power you sent me. The more time you can give me, the easier will be my task and the better the conditions I shall be able to secure, for the merchants will regard the operation as less dangerous. Still, I must once more remind your Majesty that money is so hard to obtain that within memory of man the situation has never been so bad; so that unless the fleet comes there is no possibility of obtaining more than 200,000 crowns for the moment. God grant the fleet may come soon, and afford some relief to this poor country and its inhabitants!
Brussels, 13 October, 1552.
PS.—I have just heard that the fleet from Portugal has arrived in the channel of Zeeland. The other fleets are being looked for daily, and when they arrive we may hope it may become easier to find money.
Duplicate. French.
Oct. 13. Brussels, E.A. 62 The Queen Dowager to the Emperor.
(Extract from a letter, the first part of which enlarges on the writer's financial embarrassments, caused by the delay of the fleet from Spain, in a strain similar to that of the foregoing letter.)
I have noted what your Majesty writes to me about your negotiations with the English ambassador resident in your Court, and the reply given to him by you and the Bishop of Arras, by which you gave him to understand you would not proceed further in the matter without hearing my opinion, because you supposed me to be better informed than you of the present state of affairs in England. I have mentioned this point to the Council, and we all think your Majesty must have heard through the merchants the same news that we have received from England, as well as that the French ambassador in England was arrested and the harbours closed. Your Majesty conjectured from this that the English Council had perhaps made some declaration against France, though they might still wish you to request them to do a thing that was already done. But I have no doubt you will have heard by the last letters from your ambassador in England that the news of the French ambassador's arrest were untrue, and that nothing had happened except the detention of a few ships for a reason contained in the same letters, which arrest had not been maintained, by the Council's express orders, in spite of murmurings among the merchants and people.
It therefore seems that the English Council's fear of the French, on account of their own poverty, or the partiality shown by the great of that kingdom for France, has prevailed over their resentment of the Frenchmen's robberies. Your Majesty asks whether I might not obtain more detailed information of what is happening in England. I have heard no echo of any change there, but only news from Antwerp to the effect that though the King of France's commissioners sent to treat about these depredations are remaining in England, the French have not stopped preying upon the English. As for English lack of money, they say it is as grievous as ever. I have heard that the English consider the present a good time to press the King of France to pay them the 200,000 crowns not yet handed over for Boulogne, and also damages for their losses, which really are very heavy. I should not be surprised if they were trying to get your Majesty to send a mission to them in order to make the French fear they might be entering into some fresh treaty with you. The following considerations occur to me. The English Council excused themselves on the ground of their poverty, when I summoned them, in virtue of the treaty, to make a declaration against France. They have never been willing to reply to my demands, either by granting us the number of troops they were bound to furnish, or by a refusal to do so, but have only assured us that their present condition rendered it impossible for them to go to war, begging us to take that into consideration. Therefore, I do not believe they have any desire to take a share in this war, and as the English ambassador resident with you has raised this question late in the season, which will soon be over, and as, even if your Majesty sent someone to England, no result might be hoped for this year, it seems likely that they are only asking that an ambassador be sent for the above reason: to bring to their senses the French commissioners, who are in England following their customary tactics of alleging grievances and losses on their side.
All the English ambassador said by his master's orders seems to tend in one direction. His master, according to him, would like to assist your Majesty in driving back the Turks, and associate himself for this purpose with the Princes of the Empire. This talk of Princes of the Empire and Turks leads one to suspect that the King of England would like to intervene between your Majesty and the King of France, and that his Council hope to make this business of the Turk a pretext for starting negotiations for peace, dragging in the Princes of the Empire as well. And perhaps they hope that were your Majesty to send them an ambassador extraordinary, you might request them to act as middlemen. Hoby's mission here seems to confirm this conjecture; for he repeated twice over that if his master were able to do anything in the cause of peace he would gladly undertake it.
The reasons why the English ambassador made his suggestion are therefore uncertain and perhaps suspicious; so it seems to me, subject to correction, that the hurry is not so great but that your Majesty may take your time, and see how events move in England, before dèciding whether you will send an ambassador extraordinary thither or not. Again, under correction, I think you might instruct the Bishop of Arras to raise the subject once more in conversation with the English ambassador, and encourage him with generalities to the effect that you intend to remain on terms of amity with his master. And as occasion shall offer, the Bishop might suggest that the ambassador should, of his own accord, sound the English Council; whereby we might learn whether the Englishmen's opinion of the King of France is such as to make it likely that they would ever show as much resentment against him as against the Turk. And, accordingly, your Majesty might come to a decision about sending a mission to England.
Brussels, 3 October, 1552.
P.S.—My Lord: As I was just about to sign these letters I received the good news of the arrival of the fleet—that is to say, the vessels from Portugal and Andalusia—in Zeeland. It is so close to land that pilots have been sent out to bring the ships into port, as I have heard from Bergen and Antwerp. These are good tidings; I hope they are true.
Minute. French.
Oct. 14. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 19. Jehan Scheyfve to the Queen Dowager.
Madam: I received your Majesty's letters of the 23rd of last month on the 11th of the present month. On the same day I sent to Court to obtain an audience of the King and his Council, who assigned me the 13th of this month. When I found myself in the King's presence I told him that your Majesty had ordered me to inform him that you had received advices that the fleet was ready in Spain to set sail for the Low Countries, and you requested that if any part of it were to be driven to the coast of England or into any harbour or port, help and assistance might be given it, as friendship demanded, both in victuals or otherwise according to its needs, always on the understanding that a reasonable price should be paid. He replied that if the said fleet, or part of it, were to come to any port of his kingdom, it should receive such fair and favourable treatment as his own subjects might expect, and I might assure your Majesty of it. He afterwards enquired if the fleet were a large one. I replied that I supposed so, as no ships had come from Spain for a long time, and all would take the opportunity of sailing with it in safety. He then asked if warships would accompany the fleet. I informed him that the warships sent to escort the fleet when outward bound would perform the same office on its homeward voyage. He asked for news of the Emperor's health, where he was and what he was doing; and he made the same enquiries concerning your Majesty. I told him what I knew, and he seemed pleased.
I afterwards declared to the King that certain merchants and mariners, subjects of his Majesty, had come to me with complaints because three or four ships of theirs when freighted and about to set sail, had been arrested and detained for no known reason. He told me I might mention the matter to the lords of the Council. I also declared that the French haunted the Straits between Dover and Calais and pursued your Majesty's subjects, interfering with the trade between the two countries (England and Flanders) and cheapening his authority. To this also he replied that I should speak to the Council.
When I met the Council I mentioned the matter of the fleet to them, and received the same answer given me by the King. With regard to the vessels detained here, they averred that some forbidden goods must have been put on them. I replied that it was not so; and that even if it were the case, the forbidden goods should have been confiscated, and the subjects of your Majesty allowed to pursue their journey with the rest, especially as the said mariners had to keep 30 or 40 people, to their great expense and loss. They replied that they would look into the matter and order it to be put right. I understand, Madam, that the vessels were detained to allow the English vessels to arrive first. Concerning the Straits, they told me that the King was bound to make his ports safe, and prevent violence or aggression being committed there, but he was not bound to keep the passage free. I replied that there was a better reason for keeping the passage safe than the ports, as it was the road into England. But they persisted in the assertion that his Majesty's obligations did not extend beyond what is said above. I objected that my contention was proved by the fact that the King's own ships were used to effect the passage, and that a certain sum was levied per head and per passenger on those who crossed the Straits. But notwithstanding all I might say, they maintained what they said before.
London, 14 October, 1552.
Signed. French. Cipher.
Oct. 14. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 19. Advices sent by Jehan Scheyfve.
The French ambassadors and commissioners visited the King at Hampton Court and were honourably received.
They declared to his Majesty the King that the Most Christian King, their master, had sent them to confer about certain complaints made by the King of England's subjects concerning certain seizures made by French warships. Their master desired to continue in friendship and brotherly love, and sent them to justify summarily to his Majesty the sentences given in France both by the Privy Council and by the local judges in subordinate courts. Nevertheless, if the English would produce fresh evidence and allege it as proof that the sentences were unjust, the King would take prompt measures to remedy the matter, without any superfluous formalities or dragging the King of England's subjects through summons, appeals or prosecutions. It appears that the King and his Council made some difficulties about naming commissioners on their side; and a few days later one of the men of the King of France's First Secretary (fn. 5) arrived here with more ample powers. It is believed that he is empowered to set the judgments aside and come to an agreement; though some people believe that it will be difficult to accomplish. So far, Dr. Wotton and Secretary Dr. Petre have entered into negotiations with him; but the people and the merchants are by no means satisfied, and murmur openly against the French, who lately seized three Antwerp hoys and took them to Boulogne together with two English vessels, besides robbing and pillaging three more English vessels, and another in the Thames as well. It is reported that a proclamation was published at Boulogne ordering those who took and pillaged the English vessels to return everything at once, under pain of death; the reason being that the Council of England deliberated on the matter and complained to such good purpose about the said seizures that commissioners were sent from France. Some demand that a general cry be ordered to be made in all the French ports that no one, under pain of death, shall attempt robberies against the English; and this might be done in view of the state of ferment into which the people have been plunged, and while waiting to see what turn matters will take between the Emperor and the King of France.
One of the King of England's warships, called the Great Harry, while on its way towards Spain, fell in with one of the French King's ships that had taken an English vessel. The Great Harry fell upon them and carried both the robber and the robbed into Rye. The French ship, with forty or fifty men on board, is still detained. The English have armed two vessels under the command of Captain Wyndham, but these appear to be intended for the visit of outward-bound vessels rather than for any other purpose. There will be some 60 vessels, their cargo mostly cloth; it is estimated that some 40,000 pieces of cloth will be exported by them. The English merchants have granted one pound sterling to the King for each piece of cloth, over and above the usual duties and customs. The money is to be gathered in over there up to the end of next December, and employed in the payment of the King of England's debts, especially of those owing to the Fuggers. The King is again selling a great amount of land proceeding from churches and monasteries.
The King has ordered an enquiry to be made, and lists furnished of church furniture and ornaments once having belonged to churches and monasteries, and especially of those that were left in the hands of church-spoilers. Three hospitals are being built in London, to the building of which householders and labourers are to contribute.
Concerning the rumour of the King of England being about to be carried to Prance, nothing more is said about it, and as far as I can ascertain it was entirely groundless. The French ambassador never made any proposal of banqueting on the sea to the King of England. Some say the rumour arose because a certain Peter Paul from Corsica, who was imprisoned in the Tower for a long time, declared that he could dive to the bottom of the sea and recover lost treasure, and during the King's visit to Portsmouth he afforded him some diversion by diving from a small boat.
The King, however, never left firm ground. The said Peter Paul had obtained leave from the King to keep for himself one third of any property he might recover in English waters. But shortly after the King's departure from Portsmouth, Peter Paul sailed to France in his small boat, and some suspicion was entertained that he might have had intelligence with the French ambassador, although no one seems to have had any knowledge of French ships near Portsmouth or in the neighbourhood. Guidotti has gone across to France.
The Earl of Pembroke has been summoned to Court, but his appearance is delayed through illness. Some say he is expected on All Saints' day; others affirm that he has quarrelled with the Duke of Northumberland.
It is reported that Dudley, brother of the Duke of Northumberland, and Captain of Guines, will be created Lord Admiral of England, and the present Admiral will be made Earl of Kent. (fn. 6) The chief officers of Calais are about to be changed, and their posts given to older and more experienced men. Some say the Duke's object in doing this is to clear himself from all suspicion (i.e. of favouring the French designs on the English possessions across the Channel), others that he wishes to strike fear into the French.
It appears that the new trained bands are about to be broken up, or have just been broken up, and the heavy cavalry dismissed for the sake of economy. Certain acts of Parliament framed in the year 1533, and concerning the upkeep of the said cavalry, have been brought forward afresh for the purpose; they affect laymen and the clergy alike.
It is said that besides robbing the English, the King of France has ordered that an inventory of all valuable church furniture shall be submitted to him, and that each parish shall henceforth pay for the keep of at least one soldier, and the richer parishes for more, in proportion to their importance.
The French are believed to have from fifteen to twenty warships at sea.
French. Cipher.
Oct. 15. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 19. Jehan Scheyfve to an unnamed Correspondent. (fn. 7)
Sir: On the occasion of my last meeting with the Council, I represented very earnestly to them the business of the captain and mariners imprisoned here, and the kind of treatment dealt out to them, and I produced documentary evidence in support of their claims. They answered me point blank that the men were pirates and deserved their punishment. I objected that I never expected them to have been kept in prison all this time and to hear such an accusation brought against them in the end, as the certificates I had in hand told a very different tale; and I added other considerations to induce them to release the said prisoners. They replied that there was not a sufficient number then present in the Council; that all business of that nature went before the Admiralty Court, and the Council was not well informed on the progress of the case; but nevertheless they would inquire into the matter and do what was possible. I explained the case to them, in its legal aspect, and with regard to the treaties; and finally requested them to grant the release of the men, retaining their vessels as a guarantee, which, being fully worth one thousand pounds, should be considered sufficient; and I offered their assurance on oath to appear whenever they might be required, at the judge's discretion. This, I said, seemed to me sufficient to ask of them; otherwise they would remain in prison through the whole winter, and their poor wives and families would perish of want and starvation.
They persisted in their refusal, but declared they could hardly believe the prisoners were so ill-treated, and assured me they would look into the matter and remedy it promptly. I left the matter over till my next meeting with the Council, especially as the Duke of Northumberland was absent.
I have received to-day your letters of the 6th of this month. I assure you that the former ones were addressed exactly as I described in my letters, and I did so particularly to underline the interval elapsed before the arrival of the said news. I have written expressly to the master of the post at Dover or to his secretary, informing him that the last letter, dated 23rd of September, concerning the fleet, only reached me on the 11th of this month, which represents a considerable interval of time. Sometimes the letters have to wait a few days for lack of messengers to carry them; but the delay referred to above seems to me excessive.
As to Ambassador Chamberlain, he is exceedingly pleased with his interview, and his share of paradise, which is self-attributed. As his claims are so exalted, I hope he feels certain of what he is advancing. He considers us all too earthly, too gross and obtuse to understand his subtleties. If they had mentioned the matter of the confiscated gunpowder to me, or were to do so in the future, I would carry out your intentions and instructions in a conciliatory and modest manner.
I thank you, Sir, for the allocution you suggested in your last letters. I made my recommendations merely to please the English and as in duty bound; and I wish they would show the same spirit here. I have given them to understand as much, especially by reminding them of the good treatment meted out over seas. As to the news mentioned in your letters, I immediately notified them to my lords of the Council, who appeared to be well pleased and thanked me copiously, saying they had heard the same, and would communicate it to his Majesty the King; and that it was a good beginning.
London, 15 October, 1552.
Holograph. French.
Oct. 19. Brussels, LA. 60. The Queen Dowager to the Officers of the Admiralty.
The English ambassador has presented to us, for and on behalf of William Chester and Company, a request which we are sending to you. We desire that justice be administered quickly to the petitioners, and request and on the Emperor's behalf command you to take steps in the matter without delay. You shall release their goods on caution, and we expressly forbid you to sell or alienate any of them without previously informing us.
Brussels, 19 October, 1552.
Minute. French.
Oct. 28. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 19. Jehan Scheyfve to the Queen Dowager.
Madam: A certain English merchant, who left Laredo on the 18th of this month, has arrived here. He declares that the Biscayan fleet, numbering about 60 vessels, set out on the 1st and was at sea seven or eight days, but a great storm compelled it to return to Laredo. One ship was lost and several were leaking. Part of the fleet remained at Laredo, and other parts went to San Sebastian, Bilbao and Castro to unload the said vessels and get them recaulked. The damage was caused by the fact that the vessels had been loaded so long, so that, in the opinion of several people, the fleet ought not to sail this year. The reason does not seem plain. The same English merchant affirms that the Duke of Maqueda was at Pamplona with 40,000 Spaniards ready to march into France and take hostile action, and that more men were being collected with the intention of sending them out towards Hungary. The Prince (Philip) was still at Monzon, as the Estates and the Cortes could not come to an agreement. The above information tallies with accounts sent by letter by certain merchants.
London, 28 October, 1552.
Signed. French. Cipher.
Oct. 29. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 19. Jehan Scheyfve to the Queen Dowager.
Madam: The English fleet is ready to set sail for the Low Countries. It consists of about 60 vessels, escorted by a couple of pinnaces and two other warships. As to the fleets from Biscay and Andalusia, I have not had any news of their being on their way, or having taken shelter in any English port, although a northeasterly wind has been blowing.
The Bishop of Durham, Tunstall, has been deprived of his Bishopric and all his possessions and dignities, (fn. 8) and sent to the Tower during the King's pleasure. He was accused of having received seditious letters, conducive to insurrection, two years ago from certain gentlemen in Norfolk, which letters he had not denounced to the King and his Council within 24 hours, as ordered by an Act of Parliament, but had kept them five days before giving information. He excused himself by saying that he had intended to deliver the author of the letters over to the Council, and had sent a message back by the bearer of the letters, saying he wished to speak to the said gentleman. He professed to be ignorant of the passing of the Act, and declared that there could be no room for suspecting him of treason or criminal intelligence (with rebels) for he was an old servant of the King's progenitors. But he was sentenced as a perjurer, and for a breach of the said Act, and therefore as guilty of minor treason, as they call it, towards the King's Majesty.
My Lord William Howard, brother of the Duke of Norfolk who is a prisoner in the Tower, has been elected Deputy-Governor of Calais in place of my Lord Grey, who is sent to Guines instead, this command being more active and profitable. Some interpret the nomination as an honour conferred upon Lord Grey, by associating him with my Lord William.
It is held for certain that certain wild Irishmen and other subjects of the King, together with a great number of wild Scots, advanced as far as Dublin after beating and scattering some English troops of the garrison of Ireland. Their object was to set free a certain Irish earl named the Great O'Neill (fn. 9) who was summoned to Dublin by the Governor of Ireland, and taken prisoner because he would not allow the English religion to be introduced into his territory, and refused to pull down certain churches and monasteries. The said O'Neill is he who reduced a part of Ireland under English rule, whereby the late King acquired the title of King of Ireland.
The two Scottish bastards (fn. 10) have recently passed through England on their way to Scotland, accompanied by certain gentlemen. Some think the King of France is afraid of something from that quarter, if the Emperor's designs succeed.
London, 29 October, 1552.
Signed. Cipher. French.


  • 1. In the same bundle is a note of a request from the English ambassador in Brussels, dated August—, 1552, for a passport for 212 barrels of powder belonging to the King of England at Antwerp.
  • 2. Probably President de St. Mauris.
  • 3. Perhaps a slip for 17th, see letter of that date.
  • 4. Marquis of Winchester.
  • 5. L'Aubespine.
  • 6. This rumour, which seems to have been current throughout the autumn, appears to have been groundless. Clinton, Lord Admiral at this time, was created Earl of Lincoln in 1572.
  • 7. Probably President de St. Mauris.
  • 8. Tunstall was tried at the Whitefriars on October 4th and 5th for misprision of treason, and deprived on October 14th.
  • 9. Con Bacach O'Neill, who accepted the title of Earl of Tyrone from Henry VIII. He was unable to keep his tribe in order under the English rule, and was tried for treason, but acquitted and restored in December, 1552. All the while his son, Shane, was fighting the English. See Irish Calendar.
  • 10. Apparently the children of James V of Scotland: James, afterwards Regent (Earl of Moray), and Jane, who married Archibald, fifth Earl of Argyll.