Spain: August 1553, 1-5

Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 11, 1553. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1916.

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, 'Spain: August 1553, 1-5', in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 11, 1553, (London, 1916) pp. 127-150. British History Online [accessed 30 May 2024].

. "Spain: August 1553, 1-5", in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 11, 1553, (London, 1916) 127-150. British History Online, accessed May 30, 2024,

. "Spain: August 1553, 1-5", Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 11, 1553, (London, 1916). 127-150. British History Online. Web. 30 May 2024,

August 1553, 1–5

Aug. 1. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 21. The Emperor to his Ambassadors in England.
We have received your letters of July 29th, and heard of your arrival at the Queen's residence. While waiting for news of your conferences with her, and of what she shall say to you concerning the state of her affairs, we are replying to you without delay on the matter mentioned in your last letters. We refer to the Constable's letter to the Deputy Governor of Calais, in which he offered not only to send help from the King's camp, but to bring it in person; and we are sure he would have desired the English to have availed themselves of his offers of assistance, for once he had got a foothold at Calais he would have turned the English out of their possessions overseas, and given a clear proof of French sincerity in the intrigues carried on with the Duke of Northumberland. As things have turned out, however,—thanks be to God!—it will be difficult for the French to carry out their plans, or undertake any action which would necessitate using a large force, for our camp is so near that they will certainly venture to make no attempts on Calais. It is likely, moreover, that the Constable's understanding with the Duke of Northumberland moved him to write, but now that is at an end, we do not see that the Queen need do more than place trustworthy men in command of the said towns (i.e. Calais, Guinea and Hames) and put enough men into them to withstand some feeble attack. This will not be expensive; and we would send troops of our own were it not that the English might be jealous of them as foreigners. If the French were to move in that direction with any considerable force, you may assure the Queen that we would assist her; and we have already written to the Prince of Piedmont to be watchful. You were wise to send him a warning.
Brussels, 1 August, 1553.
Minute. French. Printed by Weiss, Documents Inédits, Vol. IV, from the mutilated, signed original at Besançon, (Collection Granvelle, 73).
Aug. 1. Besançon, C.G. 73. The Prince of Piedmont to the Ambassadors in England.
I have received your letters of the 29th of last month, and heard with pleasure the news contained in them, a copy of which I at once sent to the Queen. (fn. 1) As for the fear entertained by my cousin, the new Queen of England, that the enemy may fall upon Calais, I believe they have enough to do here, as this army is so near their frontier. However, if they do move towards Calais, I will place myself with this army on the Emperor's territory near the English pale, which I will be able to prevent them from entering, for I know such to be the Emperor's pleasure. You may inform my cousin, the Queen of England, of this as you shall see fit, and present my most humble commendations to her royal Majesty's good grace. If you hear any news of the enemy's plans, or of what is happening in England, you will do me great pleasure by reporting them to me, for I am always glad to hear of her royal Majesty's prosperity.
The Camp at Hesdin, 1 August, 1553.
French. Signed, E. Philibert. Printed by Weiss, Documents Inédits, Vol. IV.
Aug. 1. Simancas, E. 100. Juan Martinez de Recalde to Francisco de Ledesma.
The boat (zabra) which, a month ago, carried the courier, Iñigo Ochoa by name, who bore his Highness' (i.e. Prince Philip's) despatches to his Majesty (i.e. the Emperor) in Flanders, is now back from Falmouth, where it set the courier on shore to continue his journey to Flanders, and whence it set sail seven days ago. The master and men tell me that close watch was being kept in England to prevent letters from being taken out of the country, wherefore they feared to take any on board and have come letterless. It was being said for a fact, however, that the King of England had died some time before, that there had been treason connected with his end, and that he had been put to death by poison in London on June 23rd. The whole kingdom was in a turmoil, especially in London. Some men, and with them the common people, wished to have as Queen the lawful Queen of the land, the daughter of Queen Catherine, and the other side wanted a daughter of some duke or lord of England, and there was much confusion and ill-doing in consequence. These sailors also report that summons had been issued in the whole kingdom, in Wales, Cornwall (which is the land near Falmouth), Plymouth and the country round Exeter, that within twenty days two men should be sent from each parish to a general Parliament (ayuntamiento), which was to meet in London to elect a Queen. They have no letters or writing of any sort in support of their statements, but they say they heard it said that the King died over 40 days ago; and the same has been said here for several days. I have not ventured to send a special courier with this report, but only an ordinary foot-messenger; and I am writing to Señor Juan Vazquez (de Molina) (fn. 2) in the same terms as to you. . . . .
The sailors also tell me that men in Falmouth believed that his Majesty (the Emperor) after he had taken Thérouanne, was moving against Hesdin, and that afterwards he would go against Paris; but that many of the English thought he would attack England. . . . . .
Bilbao, 1 August, 1553.
Holograph. Spanish.
Aug. 2. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 20. The Ambassadors in England to the Emperor.
Sire: The Queen gave us audience on the 29th of last month in presence of those who represent her Council: to wit, the Earl of Arundel, the Privy Seal, Paget and five others whose names we do not yet know. We gave her your Majesty's letters and repeated the affectionate messages which, as our last letters will have informed you, had already been delivered to her the day before. She read your Majesty's letters through, and we then made declaration of our charge contained therein, and which consisted of three points.
First, we were to inform her of your Majesty's great joy on hearing of her accession to the Crown of England, which was hers by right and in virtue of her merits, to congratulate her and, though it was certainly unnecessary, urge her to make her chief care the repose and tranquillity of her kingdom, remember those who had supported her, endeavour to satisfy her subjects of all classes. Thus, by governing wisely, she might best discharge the duties laid upon her by God when He showed her this signal favour, and render Him due thanks.
Second, we were to assure her of your Majesty's constant affection for her and her kingdom, which was redoubled on the accession of so near a relative, and that you would always observe a policy of amity and good-neighbourhood, calculated to foster the prosperity of the dominions and subjects of both sovereigns. We uttered word for word your Majesty's instructions as to this point.
Third, your Majesty had sent us as ambassadors to King Edward, who had died without our being able to execute our mission. Now that her Majesty had come to the throne, you had ordered us to undertake the duties of ambassadors to her, and we therefore begged her to accept us as such, offering to obey her and do her bidding.
The Queen promptly replied that she humbly thanked your Majesty for being pleased to remember her, for your congratulations on her accession and salutary advice, for the goodwill you had always borne her, which had caused you to behave towards her as a father, and for your assurances of amity and affection. She, for her part, would always reciprocate, and would seek to draw closer the bonds of friendship in the interests of her kingdom and subjects. She made no allusion to our mention of remaining as ambassadors, we suppose because she was unaware of what it meant, but asked which of us was to reside in England as ambassador. We replied that we knew of no particular decision taken by your Majesty on that point, but that you had ordered us to fulfil the duties of the post. The audience seemed to please the Council and other persons present; and we understood that your Majesty wished us to make the above declarations in public, as we informed the Queen.
(fn. 3) As for the other declaration that your Majesty desired us to make privately, at about four or five o'clock in the afternoon the Queen sent us word that one or two or our number might go to her in her oratory, entering by the back-door to avoid suspicion. We therefore deputed the Lieutenant of Amont (i.e. Simon Renard) who, according to his statement to us, made a full declaration of your Majesty's wishes, explaining that we had been sent over to render her all assistance in our power in her accession to the Crown, and to take steps to protect her person had there been reason to fear that the Duke of Northumberland meant to harm her. He informed her of the machinations of the late King's Council and other individuals, the warships your Majesty had caused to be fitted out to come to her assistance, the remarks you made to the English ambassadors at your Court and your refusal to give Shelley audience without first hearing by whom he had been sent. Speaking of your Majesty's views as to the best means of firmly establishing her authority, he (i.e. Renard) urged the Queen not to hurry where religion was concerned, not to make innovations nor adopt unpopular policies, but rather to recommend herself by winning her subjects' hearts, showing herself to be a good Englishwoman wholly bent on the kingdom's welfare, answering the hopes conceived of her, temporising wherever it was possible to do so, and refusing to be guided by private considerations. Your Majesty, he continued, could but be mindful of the fact that great part of the labour of government could with difficulty be undertaken by a woman, and was not within woman's province, and also that it was important that the Queen should be assisted, protected and comforted in the discharge of those duties. Your Majesty therefore considered that she would do well to entertain the idea of marriage, and to fix on some suitable match as soon as possible. If she wished to inform your Majesty before coming to a definite decision, you would give her your opinion, with the sincere and more than paternal affection you had always shown her, on that and on all other matters on which she might desire to consult you. Your Majesty could have no greater pleasure than to receive news from her, either through us or through her own ambassadors, and she should always find in you a true and constant friend.
The Queen replied that your Majesty placed her under so heavy an obligation by the favourable remembrance you had had of her, now as in the past, that she knew not how to express her humble gratitude. She was well aware of the good offices we had performed during her trials and troubles, and would follow the good advice we had transmitted to her. She then spoke in detail of certain affairs and said that, as far as religion went, before coming to the throne she had always plainly told the late King and his Council that she would never change her faith; and they were well aware that she heard mass in secret. Before she was placed in this lofty position she always professed to be a Christian, and now she ought not to be thankless for the favour shown her by God in choosing her, His unworthy servant. It would too sorely violate her conscience to allow the late King, her brother, to be buried otherwise than as religion dictated, for she was bound by the late King Henry's will, in which he left instructions for masses and prayers to be said. If she appeared to be afraid, her subjects, particularly the Lutherans, would only become more audacious, and would proclaim that she had not dared to do her own will. She was determined to tell her Council that she was going to have a mass said at the funeral for her own peace of conscience and out of respect for the will of the late King Henry, her father. Religion, she would tell them, had been changed in England since her father's death and during her brother's minority, because the late Protector would have it so. She wished to force no one to go to mass, but meant to see that those who wished to go should be free to do so; and she would soon make a public proclamation of her intentions in order to avoid the drawbacks that your Majesty or ourselves might anticipate. She begged us to give her our opinion once more (i.e. reconsidered), for she felt so strongly on this matter of religion that she was hardly to be moved—and with this she cast a glance towards the Holy Sacrament that was on an altar in her chamber. She was sure her Council would make no objections, for though several of them would only consent out of dissimulation and fear, she would use their dissimulation for a great end, and would make their consent prevent them from plotting against her. She had force on her side, and would not disband her troops until after the funeral had taken place. She could not help being amazed by the divisions in the Council, whose members were accusing one another, trying to disculpate themselves, chopping and changing in such a manner that she was unable to get at the truth of what had happened with regard to the will of the King, her brother, or the plots that had been woven to her hurt. She had asked them whether she ought to hasten her entry into London, or put it off, and some were of one opinion, others of another; some saying she had better tarry a while because of the heat, bad air and danger of the plague and other maladies prevalent in London in the month of August, others urging her to press on as fast as possible to set her affairs in order and establish herself in the government of the country.
She had received letters, she added, from the (English) ambassadors in France, who were at a loss because they had received no confirmation of their appointments from her, and their embassy was at an end. The same also applied to those who were with your Majesty. She had such an amount of business to transact that she knew not where to begin; she had done what she could at Calais, and the Deputy Governor had done his duty, and replied like an honest man to the Constable, telling him that the Duke was in prison for a traitor, there was no need to send help, and if the Constable came to attack Calais, he (the Deputy Governor) would do his best to defend it like a gentleman and man of honour who cared for his good name.' She had sent Lord Grey to Guinea, and wished to have our advice on these matters. The drum had been beaten in London to raise men, and it had been proclaimed that the troops were to go to Guinea, in order to let it be seen that the Constable's design was known, with the object of utterly defeating it.
As for the suggestion of marriage, she declared she had never thought of wedding before she was Queen, and called God to witness that as a private individual she would never have desired it, but preferred to end her days in chastity. As she now occupied a public position, however, and well understood the reasons that moved your Majesty to mention the matter to her, she was determined to follow your advice, and choose whomsoever you might recommend; for after God she desired to obey none but your Majesty, whom she regarded as a father. She felt confident you would remember that she was 37 years of age, and would not urge her to come to a decision before having seen the person and heard him speak, for as she was marrying against her private inclination she trusted your Majesty would give her a suitable match. She had heard that we had represented to the Council that your Majesty did not approve of her marrying a foreigner, but had understood that it had been said to serve the exigencies of the moment, and did not represent your real view. In fine, she would submit herself to your Majesty's decision as to her marriage and in all other matters, since you were willing to take the trouble to advise her, thereby obliging her to pray God for your prosperity, as she had always done and would always continue to do.
The Lieutenant of Amont replied that he would communicate the above points to us, and that we would give our opinion, and would inform your Majesty of the conference, together with her reply. When we had heard the Lieutenant's report of his conversation with her Majesty, we set down in writing our opinion on the points on which she desired to consult us; and we are sending your Majesty a copy of this memoir (fn. 4) so that you may be aware of what has occurred.
On the last day of last month, a packet (fn. 5) from the French ambassador fell into her Majesty's hands, and she sent it to us to see whether we could make anything out of it for your Majesty's service. We found a letter to the King, a copy (fn. 6) of which we are enclosing, though it is in cipher, and we are still endeavouring to decipher it. We have heard that a key was found at Hesdin, and hope it may be to the same cipher. We have of course realised that the sentences in plain writing are in conventional and disguised language.
We are also enclosing a copy of a letter (fn. 7) written by the Constable to the French ambassador, in which he speaks of the King's army which is to defeat his enemies, but it seems to us that the Constable's words are like to be more alarming than his deeds, for we hear that the King of France will have great difficulty in forming so large an army. And the Constable is so bitterly hated throughout France that he knows not how to set to work to remedy matters, wherefore he is unspeakably disappointed at the sudden change in this kingdom, clearly seeing, as he does, that it bodes no good to France, and that French designs have hopelessly failed. We believe that grave misdeeds will be discovered in connection with the late King Edward's death; for the Duchess of Suffolk came to the Queen at Beaulieu about two o'clock in the morning to tell her that her husband had been the victim of an attempt to poison him, and that the Duke of Northumberland had done it. She then prayed for her husband's release from the Tower, where he had been imprisoned two days previously. We have also heard that an apothecary, on learning that the Duke of Northumberland had been taken, went and drowned himself.
The Queen caused letters to be communicated to us, written by the English ambassadors with your Majesty to those who represented the late King Edward's Council, and dated July 20th. The ambassadors state in these letters that M. d'Arras had told them that your Majesty did not wish the Queen to marry a foreigner, but some noble of her own country, and desired to see England administered according to the same civil and religious policy as before. Her Majesty said she could not believe M. d'Arras had used the last phrase, but suspected it had been added by Morison or Hoby. We mention it in order that we may be able to answer her Majesty on the subject if she refers to it.
The Queen is to make her entry into London on the 3rd of this month.
If your Majesty desired to surprise the Bishop of Orleans and M. de Gyé on their way hither, it would be easy to seize them on their passage, and also M. d'Oisel, lieutenant for the King of France in Scotland, for he is only waiting for his passport to set out.
In several places in this kingdom placards have been posted up with the inscription: Vox populi vox dei.
London, 2 August, 1553.
Signed by all four ambassadors. French. Mostly cipher.
Printed by Gachard from a transcript at Brussels, Voyages des Souverains des Pays-Bas, Appendix to Vol. IV.
Memoir enclosed in the above letter.
Sire: Touching the matter of the mass, which her Majesty (i.e. the Queen of England) desires to reintroduce in her Court, and wishes to have celebrated at the funeral of the late King, her brother, her Majesty has already seen a certain writing (fn. 8) in which this question was dealt with. If one considers the condition of this country, the troubles connected with the succession, the dissensions prevalent with regard to religion, the lack of concord in the Council, how little that body is to be trusted, and how uncertain are the inclinations of many among her subjects, it is impossible not to be apprehensive of the consequences if it were attempted to make the funeral an opportunity for reintroducing a religion of which the most important features are the mass and other papal traditions, the reappearance of which might cause her Majesty's subjects to waver in their loyal affection. The result might be not only to endanger her person, but to compromise her accession to the throne, for many people have been heard to lament the possibility; whilst others who fear to be punished for their misdeeds would ask no better than to see a popular rebellion and a revolt of the nobility. Even if her Majesty desired to have mass sung later in her Court, it would be less dangerous than to begin at the funeral, at which the people and nobility will assist. Were any scruple of conscience to arise because of the late King Henry's will, or any private consideration, it seems her Majesty might well avoid being present at the funeral in person, either on the ground of an illness or because it is not the custom for princesses and ladies to attend funerals in person. At the same time a service might be held in the Tower in whatever form her Majesty and her Council might devise.
It had better be considered whether it would not be advisable, in case mass were to be said at the funeral, to proclaim that every man should be at liberty to hear it or not as he pleased; for the results might be of importance.
As for her Majesty's entry into London, it seems she had better hasten it as much as possible in order that she may firmly establish her rule, because she now has troops at hand, and for other reasons that have been laid before her Majesty verbally.
It would be well to have the Duke of Northumberland examined and questioned, and to proceed to his trial at once, so that he may be punished if found guilty, and so that the truth may be discovered as to the king's illness: whether he was poisoned, by whom, and with whose consent.
It would be well to know who sealed the will said to have been made by the King, who wrote it, when it was written, who signed it, when it was signed, and who was present. The will would have to be produced, original and minute, in order to get at the absolute truth of the origin of the structure. It may be remembered that it would be prudent, by means of Parliament or otherwise, to have the will, the proclamation of the Lady Jane and all other acts that might prove harmful in the future, revoked and declared null and void, so as to prevent their giving rise to regrettable occurrences.
The Duke's intrigues in France must be gone into, and their object ascertained. Also the instructions he gave the ambassadors sent to that country, what they negotiated, the reason of Henry Dudley's journey to the King of France's Court, what instructions he carried, who knew he was being sent, what passed between the Duke and Boisdauphin and L'Aubespine, and who were the secretaries who wrote the letters. In the same way all the details of the Duke's relations with the French ought to be inquired into. It might be found out from Dudley what he did in France, and he might be made to recite the credentials contained in the King of France's letters found in his possession when he was taken. Important and valuable information might thus be acquired, useful in bringing the guilty to book and devising the best remedies for present ills.
French. Written in Simon Renard's hand.
Aug. 2. Brussels, R.A. Prov. 13. The Ambassadors in England to the Queen Dowager.
Madam: We have presented to the Queen of England the letters your Majesty wrote to her, together with your cordial and affectionate recommendations, and have verbally assured her of the great satisfaction felt by your Majesty on account of her prosperous accession to the throne, certifying that your Majesty intends to reciprocate in every way. The Queen replied that she humbly thanked your Majesty for your kind remembrance of her now and in the past. As you had always acted like a mother towards her, she would ever be a good and obedient daughter to you, and she trusted soon to cause your Majesty to be visited by a gentleman whom she meant to send to the Emperor.
She inquired after the health of the Queen of France, (fn. 9) and commanded us to present to her Majesty her humble and affectionate commendations.
If we knew that your Majesty desired to receive copies of the letters we write to the Emperor, we would see to it, and we would have done so before had we not felt sure all our letters would pass through your Majesty's hands. May it please you. to signify your wishes to us as to this point.
London, 2 August, 1553.
Signed by all four ambassadors. French.
Printed by Gachard, Voyages des Souverains des Pays-Bas, Appendix to Vol. IV.
Aug. 2. Simancas, E. 1496. A report of two pages, sent by Francisco de Vargas from Venice, on the occurrences that took place in England just after the death of Edward VI. It is merely a short summary of the events related at greater length in the letters of the ambassadors in England.
Aug. 4. Simancas, E. 880. Don Juan Manrique de Lara (fn. 10) to Juan Vazquez de Molina.
I am writing this to cover the enclosed report, which I beg you to present to his Highness so that he may learn the details of the events that took place at Thérouanne and Hesdin. The packet is going by way of France with a Portuguese courier, so I will say no more.
Rome, 4 August, 1553.
Holograph. Spanish.
Report (fn. 11) enclosed in the above letter.
The Spanish foot and horse were quartered at Cambrai and Landrecies, when his (Imperial) Majesty's. Flemish and Burgundian army advanced against Thérouanne, hoping to take it, as I have heard, without the help of the Spaniards, because the governor of Aire, a town some two leagues from Thérouanne, had given them to understand that the pioneers might fill up the moat in such a way as to make it possible for cavalry to ride in. I believe it was this information, which was sent to his Majesty, that caused the army to attack; for on other occasions the artillery had come up and bombarded the place with no result. The wall was fifteen feet thick and more in some places, and behind it a large terrace; the moat was very deep and a stone's throw across. The following gentlemen were here M. de Rœulx (fn. 12), who was general of the army, but died of old age and illness five or six days before the attack, when his Majesty gave the post to his lieutenant, M. de Bugnicourt, commander of Cambrai; the gran caballerizo mayor (Jean Hennin, Comte de Bossut); the Prince of Epinoy (fn. 13), M. de Hoochstraaten, M. de Rye, Count Egmont (fn. 14), M. de Glajon, captain of artillery, M. de Trelon, and M. de Vandeville (fn. 15), captain of Gravelines; and they were in command of Burgundian and Flemish troops.
As soon as our men began to come up to the town, the French came out, horse and foot, to skirmish, and drove our men back to their trenches, which were at that time some 600 paces distant (i.e. from the walls of Thérouanne). The French, supported in these sallies by their artillery posted on the walls, kept our men in such a condition of fear that M. de Rœulx did not dare to bring heavy artillery out into the field, and when the other gentlemen urged him to do so he replied that he did not wish to do anything for which he might afterwards be sorry. Thus the men who were to have filled up the moat were unable to do so, because they dared not advance up to it. Meanwhile the Spanish foot and horse quartered at Cambrai were mutinying, and much time was spent in finding money to pay and reconciling them, and the camp before Thérouanne was achieving nothing at all. The town is built on a gentle slope, so that half the moat is dry. In the lower part of it is one single gate that opens onto a river which, though not wide, it is impossible to ford, especially with horse, because the banks are high and steep; and there is also a marsh an arquebuse-shot across. M. de Vandeville was quartered on the other bank of this river with a regiment of Flemings and Burgundians, and some cavalry; and as there was only one bridge and one road their position was very strong, besides which it was protected on the other side by a trench, which started from and returned to the river, circling the Flemish and Burgundian quarters. A few days before the Spaniards arrived, the French sallied forth in Vandeville's direction, certainly a most dangerous sally for them to attempt, and an opportunity for our men, as there was only one road. But the French advanced skirmishing, joined with our men and took a half-culverine of the size of those taken to the camp and made by Remigio Alist, and as the road was bad in places they made an esplanade and took the piece into the town, where I afterwards saw it.
All the rest of our troops were on the other side of the river, on the same side of it as the town, and divided into three sections. At this juncture all good servants of his Majesty desired our (i.e. the Spaniards') arrival, for they were of opinion that nothing could be done otherwise, as the general did not wish to bring up his heavy artillery, and the troops did not dare to push their trenches up to the moat. Our coming was delayed, as I have said, while pay was being provided for the men. The first money that arrived was used to pay four companies quartered at Landrecies, a company of light horse under Captain San Martín, and some mounted arquebusiers under Captain Mondragón, who had tried to mutiny but had not succeeded, partly on account of the captain's diligence, and partly because they were not very numerous. These four companies, with the light horse and mounted arquebusiers, arrived at camp some twelve days before the rest, who were quartered in Cambrai itself, and who stuck so stubbornly to their resolve that it proved impossible to move them unless they were paid all that was due to them and obtained their own terms, as they finally did. They refused to listen to Secretary Eraso, (fn. 16) who went to talk with them on his Majesty's behalf at the gate of the castle.
The above-mentioned four companies that started first, the day before they reached camp and at a distance of some two or three leagues, met about 200 picked Frenchmen who, in small companies of 10, 15 or just under 20 men were going to break up the roads. There was a fog, so that neither side saw the other until they joined. About 40 of our horse were leading the way, Captain San Martin, fearing an ambush, retreated towards our infantry, but before he had gone far the French charged him. Our men faced about and, with the help of some mounted infantry and Mondragón's arquebusiers, routed the enemy and captured or killed most of them; and I heard there were over 50 prisoners. They reached camp with this victory to their credit, and it was celebrated more than it deserved because of the poor fortune our men had met with up to that time. The heavy artillery was then brought up; and within two or three days, when the French came out to skirmish with the Burgundians, as they had been accustomed to do, Captain Navarrete went forth to attack them with some Spanish arquebusiers and drove them back inside their moat, which had not before been done.
The trenches began to creep up towards the moat, and of the first artillery to be brought up some 15 cannons were placed about 500 paces from the wall, and six more in another position, were 80 paces further away. The artillery then began to batter a mound or terrace called “the castle.” The strip of wall we had in front of us was 500 paces long, and at the end of it, under the castle, this wall bends inwards some 80 paces and forms a corner with another strip of wall; and at this point the man who designed the fortifications, in order not to build another wall or widen the moat, built two bastions, 50 paces apart, and these, serving as casemates and provided with very thick walls, might with greater advantage have been built together as one, instead of two. The bastions are underneath the castle or mound, which is to the right looking from outside, and to the left from inside the town, and facing it was our artillery. This mound was once a real castle, and when the King of England (Henry VIII) abandoned and destroyed the town he dismantled the castle, but stone walls, 30 feet high and 20 thick, remained standing, and the King of France added to them in brick and filled in the spaces with earth, so as it is in the highest part of the town and is strengthened by the terrace, it stands up well in a commanding position. To the left of this castle, from our position, stretches the strip of wall that measures 500 paces, along a slight decline; and it was much battered by our artillery, as also another bastion at its lower end, which is not a modern work and has a strong wall 20 feet thick. We had to begin with the castle, for as it was the loftiest of the fortifications it might have done us most harm; and first the 15 cannons, and then the six, did such execution that they knocked down all that showed of the castle wall and much of the terrace, which deprived the enemy of part of the room they had had on the terrace, wherefore they were unable to use the artillery they had there. Afterwards the six cannons were placed a little farther away, and gabions were put in position for 12 more a little lower down the slope to bombard the lower part of the above-mentioned strip of wall, which nonetheless is higher than the other strips of wall. Two nights were required to fill these gabions with earth, and as they had to be placed in a more exposed position the French fired so fiercely that in one night there were over 60 pioneers killed and wounded, for they were within 400 paces of the wall. Both nights, from dusk to dawn, the French never stopped firing their arquebuses and artillery with chain shot and ball as big as walnuts and bigger.
At this juncture we arrived from Cambrai. The trenches had been run up to the edge of the moat, and the Governor of Aire had begun to have it filled in. The day we arrived, two or three hours before the infantry made its entrance, the French climbed up the side of the moat, which could be scaled because it was not faced with stone, fell upon the men who were engaged in filling it in and the Burgundian soldiers who were there to protect them, killed about 50, and had started to destroy the trenches when Captain Navarrete came out and caused the French to retire. I arrived just at that time, and went to inspect the trenches and the part of the moat that was being filled in, and I told the Governor of Aire that he ought to begin by making embrasures in the moat to prevent the enemy from entering it, for otherwise the French would always be falling upon our men, with the help of their arquebuse-fire from the walls. The same night a guard of Spaniards was left in the trenches nearest the moat, and in the moat itself we made embrasures, some of them extending underground, so that the enemy were not free to enter it. Many times they tried to take away the brushwood that was being used to fill up the moat, or set it on fire, but as soon as they sallied forth out of their false doors or embrasures our arquebusiers, posted in the embrasures we had made, fired on them, and the moat became so dangerous for them to enter that they could not do so without leaving some of their number killed or wounded.
The moat was being filled in at its highest point, opposite the castle and bastion of the wall that was being battered, so that when it had been filled in we might enter the town over the bastion. This plan, however, was soon seen to be dangerous, for if the enemy had left the bastion and our men had advanced onto it, they might have placed powder underneath without our being able to stop it, and we might have been blown up. If we had decided to go on filling in above the bastion and level up to the castle, which is much higher, it would have been an endless piece of work because of the width of the moat and the height of the castle. So we realised it was useless, especially as we saw that in ten or twelve days we had made so little progress that another twenty days would have to be spent before we could level up to the bastion, and even that would not be enough, for the above reasons. Seeing this, Don Juan de Guevara and Captain Navarrete told the Burgundian gentlemen that it would be better to build a cavalier close up to the moat, on which four or six pieces of artillery might be placed, and explained to them how little good was being done by filling in the moat, whilst I informed them that it would be possible to batter the embrasures of the bastion in which the artillery was posted, and which they had hoped to close by filling in the moat. They were willing to admit a trial of my suggestion, and though they made no secret of their dislike of seeing anything useful done by a Spaniard, they did not oppose it because they recognised it to be necessary. As for the cavalier, they said it would do no good, and some of them laughed at the idea, which made Don Juan so angry that he sent to tell them his mind. In order to pacify him, they agreed that the cavalier should be made, but not at the highest point because it would interfere with the bombardment of the castle, which though it had been battered to good purpose already, still had room for artillery enough to do us much harm; and in this the Burgundians were right. Don Juan would have wished to make it at the point where the moat was being filled in, which was also high, but they refused to have that operation, from which they expected great things, interfered with. So it was built lower down, and even so not as broad as it ought to have been, in order not to be in the way of three pieces of artillery which were battering the traverse of the above-mentioned bastion, which was answering our batteries; and as these three guns were doing important work, the cavalier was built so small that no artillery could be placed on it, and it only served for musketeers and arquebusiers. We then took the three cannons that were battering the traverse below the castle, placed them sideways next to the moat, and with a high and slanting aim we reached the part we were looking for and did such execution that in one day we destroyed the embrasures and knocked down a twenty-foot parapet: a thing I would have refused to believe had I not seen it. These cannons were only 100 paces from the bastion; and Master Lorenzo and his men were entrusted with the work.
At that time the lower bastion to our left had been battered, and artillery had been posted in two other positions; but none of it, save the aforesaid three cannons, was less than 400 or 500 paces away, because the ground was on a slope and there was no convenient place for the guns closer in. After the moat had begun to be filled in, an English captain with his company of Englishmen, who are serving his Majesty, began a mine to the left of the spot where the moat was being filled in, and carried it to the right under the filled-in part, his plan being to dig on until he found himself below the bastion, which he hoped to blow up before the moat had been filled in. But as the moat was deep, and he did not sink his mine as deep as he ought to have sunk it, he soon began to shovel out the grass that grew in the bottom of the moat, and charred sticks that had been thrown in to fill it up. These sticks Were green; but as the enemy was constantly throwing in fire and dry straw and kindling wood, some of it was still burning. Opposite the spot where the moat was being filled in, this bastion had a large embrasure in its lower part, out of which the enemy threw most of the fire, though they also threw it from above, and now and then they came out of the embrasure to set fire to the brushwood; but after two had been killed they ceased venturing to show themselves there, and endeavoured to set the wood alight with the help of hooks and poles. The Englishman had spent three days in taking out loose earth which had been thrown into the moat, among which were found charred sticks, when his movements must have been perceived by the enemy, who were in the embrasure not more than a pike's length from the mine, for as they were always in the embrasure they could not fail to see the earth move and hear the blows of the workmen, who were digging close at hand. They therefore dug under the wall of the bastion, laid down a quantity of powder and, when they knew the English were near enough, set fire to it. Thus four Englishmen were killed, and the mine had to be abandoned.
At that time, M. de Rœulx, general of the army, died after a few days' illness; and within three days his Majesty appointed his lieutenant, M. de Bugnicourt, to succeed him in the command of this undertaking. The two bastions had already been battered; and the lower one, to the left, which was more exposed than the other, not only lost its upper parapet, but had a breach opened in the lower part of its wall, and the vault then fell in, leaving it without a traverse. The wall was also battered from a distance of 200 paces, but as it had a large, old terrace, and scaling would have been very difficult, this bombardment hardly rendered it easier to make an assault, for there was small possibility of finding foothold anywhere lower than the parapet, as the slope was very steep. Two nights before the assault I ran a trench up to the edge of the moat and reconnoitred, with the result that I saw it would not be easy to get down into the moat, as it was steep and deep, and much more difficult to get up on the other side. I informed the master of the camp of this, who already knew it, because he had sent people to reconnoitre, and told him I was not of opinion that we ought to try to storm the wall, as there were other alternatives. He was of the same opinion, but as the Burgundian gentlemen made it out so easy, and they enjoy his Majesty's confidence, the master of the camp, after long discussions with them, was unwilling to contradict them further. He merely said he had come to do as he was told, and if they ordered him to lead his men against the strongest part of the wall that had not been battered, he would do it, so let them cease asking his opinion. He spoke thus because when he had given his opinion one of the Burgundians replied that as so many difficulties were being advanced, he was not surprised that Metz had not been taken. (fn. 17) So it was decided between them (i.e. the Burgundians) to try to storm the wall on Monday, June 12th, against the opinion of all those who understood the situation.
The part that was being bombarded was dangerous, not only for the enemy, but for our men. The enemy had to look out for attacks in front, and protect themselves from the artillery and arquebuse-fire from that direction, and were also exposed to the fire of six culverines that were trained slant-wise on to their rear, so that even at a distance of 1,500 paces these culverines, three of which were as large as those brought to camp by Albert, did much damage in their ranks. The projectiles struck with such force as to carry away pieces of armour, swords, lumps of flesh and bones of those hit by them, whilst other shots flew wide and occasionally did harm in our camp and trenches. The enemy sought to protect themselves by putting up shelters, but they failed to do so in an entirely efficacious manner, for the shot, coming from a great distance, fell on them from a certain height, and many of their men were killed. Beyond this, on the other side of the river where M. de Vandeville was encamped, straight behind the position occupied by those who were defending the part that was being bombarded, were four more culverines. These were at a great distance, and as the enemy were protected from their fire by the church and houses, they received little hurt from them; still, as the town is on a slope, they were unable to walk the streets, or the other portions of the walls, in safety. Great havoc was also wreaked in the houses, so that in most parts of the town there was not a safe building, and the inhabitants dug caves under the terrace in order to find a shelter. Two days before the assault took place we sounded a call that made them believe we intended to storm; and they all came to the wall so courageously that, although our artillery and arquebuses did much damage among them, and we saw pieces of armour and helmets flying in the air, they showed no signs of weakening. Some exposed their heads, others their breasts down to the girdle, and all brandished their pikes to show they intended to defend themselves. This lasted some time, and no one with any experience of war could fail to observe that they were seasoned and picked troops, who would keep their spirits up and fight, as fight they afterwards did.
Two days later, as I have already said, on Monday, June 12th, at about eight o'clock in the morning, the assault was made, and lasted about two hours. It was organised in the following manner. The Burgundians and Flemings were told off to attack on the left of the bastion, where it was easier to climb up, and where less damage was done by a traverse that had been built thus: all the materials that were knocked down from the bastion and the terrace lay on the slope in front of a redout which was about ten or twelve feet from the wall that had not yet been battered, and between the redout and the wall arquebusiers were posted, and were always shooting, and there was also one piece of artillery. It was near this traverse that the Spaniards attacked; and the wall was so stout that the enemy posted between it and the redout had no fear of our artillery, for such was the wall's strength that no less than a dozen cannon-balls would have had to hit it in one place before opening a breach. On the right, under the castle, near the spot where the moat had been filled in, four companies of Spaniards and a regiment of Burgundians attacked the bastion that had been battered. The enemy had destroyed the part of the roof of this bastion that joined it with the castle wall, so that our men who climbed on to the other part of the roof were unable to get any farther. In front of this gap, high up on one side of the bastion, the enemy had set up some beams in such a way as to make a sort of rough house, and when our men came up on the other side of the bastion to scale it and cross over the part of its roof that remained standing, the enemy, from behind those beams, killed them or threw them down through the ruined part of the roof. And this was very perilous, because the ground was far beneath, and our men fell on to the pikes of the enemy posted there. Thus it was impossible to gain any advantage at that point. On seeing this, our men began climbing up to the top of the castle, and were soon fighting there with pikes; but the enemy threw many of them down backwards, and were able to do so with ease because the place was exceedingly difficult for men to scale, and, indeed, would have given pause to a mountain goat. Also each man who was thrown down took those behind with him in his fall; and not one of the Burgundians and Flemings who tried to climb up on that side reached the top. Though the task was so arduous, our men went on attacking there for over an hour, with very heavy losses inflicted, as I have said above, by the enemy behind the beams and under the vault. In spite of this our men were ashamed to retire, because fighting was going on at other points as well, took some ladders, of which there was a good supply, and set them up against the part of the wall that had as yet not been battered. Few of them reached the top, however, although three ladders were spliced together, and as soon as the assailants showed their heads the enemy shot or threw them down. While this was going on on the right, the Burgundians and Flemings who were attacking on the left, where the bastion had been battered, did no more than to climb up the wall and, as soon as they met any resistance, turn tail and go stumbling down the moat with a number of Frenchmen after them, though I believe our artillery did not a little damage among the enemy who then came out from their cover. A few Spaniards, whether with or without orders I know not, were with these Burgundians and Flemings, and told me afterwards that if a little effort had been made at that point we would have got into the town. The master of the camp, Don Juan de Guevara, had issued orders that the vanguard of the Spanish infantry, that is eight companies, should attack, and that the main body and the rearguard should not move without his permission; the object of which plan was to wear out the enemy. His orders were broken through the impatience of a few cornets and soldiers who were keen to be there first, and so the whole body of troops attacked at once, without orders, at the point I mentioned above, at the end of the battered part and where the traverse had been made. This was just between the two bastions, and our men immediately joined with the enemy, and fought hand-to-hand in the space between the wall and the redout, where the traverse had been made. The first cannon fired from the traverse carried away four cornets and as many soldiers, who were on the point of getting inside, for they had sworn to do it, and were strong, brave men, capable of being as good as their word. This attack lasted two hours, but the place was so hard, and the slope so steep that it was impossible to get a foothold, and the enemy resisted so stoutly, that when many of our men had been killed and wounded, and the rest badly bruised with stones, they retired. Six cornets and 170 Spanish soldiers, most of them men of position, were killed; and seven captains, the sergeant-major, and nearly 500 soldiers wounded, many of whom have died since, and others will not escape with their lives.
After the Burgundians had retired, early in the course of the attack, while the Spaniards were still fighting, the Germans fell to at about the same place, a little to the right of where the Burgundians had failed, that is rather nearer the spot where the Spaniards were at work. The Germans bore themselves manfully, and fought nearly an hour, but finally, seeing that they were unable to cut their way in, they retired shortly before the Spaniards did so, though many of them stayed fighting a good quarter of an hour more. It is believed that the troops of all the other nations put together did not suffer half as heavy as the Spaniards, who had nearly 700 killed and wounded, without counting many others hurt with pike-thrusts or stones, who had themselves bandaged and returned to the trenches.
After this affair was over, the master of the camp called the captains who had not been wounded to council, and asked each one to give his opinion as to how, notwithstanding this first repulse, the town might be taken. At the same time MM. de Bugnicourt and de Rye met for the same purpose, and decided that the master of the camp should bring his suggestion to the tent of the captain of artillery, where they would discuss it together. The master of the camp's opinion was that three cavaliers should be set up, one by each nation, that more pioneers should be brought up to work on them and that the soldiers should also help. These cavaliers were to be so large as to support six pieces of artillery each, in order that the enemy's parapets and redout might thereby be bombarded, and their walls and other defences knocked down. The other captains agreed with this view, and were against trying to storm again, though a few of the Burgundian commanders were in favour of trying another assault that same day, for they cared little for other men's hurts, and knew they would not have to do the heavy work. They were entirely in the wrong, for the enemy were in higher spirits than ever, and our men had suffered heavy losses and had a taste of the extreme difficulty of the enterprise. I was in favour of making underground galleries like mines, coming out at the bottom of the moat, by means of which our men might enter the moat in safety, for to do so above ground was dangerous. Once in the moat, we could keep close to the wall, for the enemy had no traverse left standing from which it was possible to shoot into the bottom of the moat, and there we could make mines in several places, digging either from below or, as others thought best and was afterwards done, from above. The master of the camp went to the tent of the captain of artillery, where he found the general and other gentlemen assembled, and reported our opinions. They considered that to put up cavaliers would be too long a piece of work, because there were not enough pioneers, nor carts to bring up the brushwood, which had to be fetched from a distance; and so the plan was abandoned. As for the galleries, they approved, and immediately sent to order me to execute them and plan mines with the Englishman. At about this time, two or three days after the assault, Señor Luis Quixada came to reside at the camp as our colonel.
The English captain, of whom I have spoken in connexion with the mine he tried to dig and to which the enemy put a stop, ran a gallery to the left into the moat, in which we made a trench covered by planks with loop-holes, extending close up to the wall. The enemy threw down fire in plenty to burn these planks, and hurled stones, from which the planks protected us. We had no need to fear their arquebuses, for they were unable to lean over far enough to shoot at us without exposing themselves to our fire. Behind the planks we kept 40 or 50 arquebusiers constantly on guard, as well as a dozen pikemen with halberds. Thus protected, in three days we began work on seven mines, two of which came to nothing and were not finished. The first that found its way under the castle cost two days' work to get through the wall, which is 20 feet thick, and the enemy counter-mined it from the bastion whence they had countermined the other of which I have spoken, though not in exactly the same place. The enemy proceeded underground along the wall on its outer side, and when they arrived underneath our mine, which had already pierced the wall and was beginning to reach the terrace, they exploded a quantity of powder and cut off the entrance to our mine without hurting two men who were working there, whilst the others had gone to dinner, or the soldiers behind the planks, who were not more than two pikes' length away. Shortly afterwards the enemy flourished a sword and some pikes out of the hole made by the countermine, crying “France! France!” and shot off two arquebuses, without doing any damage, because they had to shoot too high. We strove to fill up the hole, and they to keep it open; and finally we succeeded in filling it up. The same night we set powder in that mine, after strewing dung in it so as to make less noise in walking, and not to be heard by those who were digging, three or four together, under our feet. We heard them speak and cough, and at one point I believe there was scarcely more than a palm and a half or two palms between us. They must have made sure we had abandoned the mine on account of their breaking into it, and in the meantime we put in five quarter-casks of powder, which amount to about fifteen quintaux, (fn. 18) and shut it up as close as possible, the enemy working away underneath all the while, with the object, I believe, of breaking into the other mines, of whose whereabouts they had exact notions, for we afterwards learned that they received information of all our doings every night, and that as often as they liked they came and went by two places in the Burgundian quarters. To return to the mine, we set fire to it in the morning. The mine was faulty where the wall, which was 20 feet thick, was concerned, for we had not had time to work round it. Out of the mouth of the mine there flew a storm of stones and earth, which bestrewed great part of the trenches and surrounding country; a breach of two pikes' length in breadth was made in the upper part of the wall; but no harm was done to the enemy's inner fortifications, and the breach made was too high to be accessible.
At this time I finished the six other galleries leading to the moat, which enabled us, as I have said, to enter and leave the moat in safety, and we ate and walked about in it without fear. Three more cannons were brought up to the edge of the moat, and battered the bastion to the right, which was about 50 paces from the one where the moat had been partly filled in. From an embrasure in the lower part of this bastion the enemy trained a small piece of artillery on to the top of our cavalier, whence our musketeers and arquebusiers were giving them much trouble. This bastion had as thick walls as the others, but the three cannons battered a breach in it, three ells wide, but without bringing down its roof. Two pieces of artillery were also placed in the filled-in part of the moat, and though the work of filling-in, which had been directed by the Governor of Aire, ceased because that gentleman had been wounded on the day of the assault, there was enough space filled in for the two cannons to be stood there, and three might well have found room. These two cannons were aimed slant-wise, and shot along the moat over the wall. We had made a shelter of gabions on the side towards the castle, and the enemy, who were hard by above us, dared not show themselves.
The day after the assault a Spanish soldier named Vega said that, if supplied with the necessary materials for the execution of his plan, he would take the town in three days. What he did was to make several portable shelters (mantas), ten feet in width by thirteen or fourteen in length, that were furnished, in front, with two wheels one hand and a half high, so that the men under the shelter might push it along without the planks hitting the earth or stones. He also prepared some poles, as thick as a man's arm, with hooks spliced on to their upper ends, and spikes like lance-heads on their lower ends. Of these he made a great number, some half as tall again as a man, some of a man's height, some reaching the girdle; the hooks were not sharp, and the object of these poles was to prop up the shelters. Last of all he made benches of various shapes to be placed under the shelters when needed; and on the seventh day after the assault he entered the moat through the galleries we had made, with all his tackle except for the shelters, which were too broad and had to be rolled down into the moat from above by night.
The same night a relief force of 280 Frenchmen got into the town. They came from Hesdin castle, a spot two leagues away from the camp, and thence managed to cross the river on a bridge they made, although there were 1,000 Burgundian and Flemish horse guarding that part, and they were observed by the sentinels. Nonetheless, they advanced to a point where they had to pass near the horse and foot under the command of M. de Vandeville, and there again they went straight by two sentinels posted in different places. Passing very near M. de Vandeville's troops, they took to the marshes and crossed the river, losing only two men who, I believe, lagged behind out of fear. The people within the town, who had been forewarned, opened the gate and admitted them. Men were what the defenders most sorely lacked, for though they were 1,500 strong and the town was small they had their hands full, and our arquebuse-fire and artillery had killed 400 of them, the general, M. d'Essé, (fn. 19) among the number, who was wounded on the day of the assault, and died a week later; and he was a man held in great esteem by the King and every one else for his understanding and wide experience, and was Governor of Thérouanne. The rest had so much to do, and in so many places at once, making shelters and countermining, that they had no time for sleep, and were greatly exhausted.
The next day, Monday, eight days after the assault, the portable shelters, five in number, although eight had been made, were brought up with the help of our artillery and arquebuse-fire, which was very accurate and prevented the enemy from showing themselves. The front part of the shelters ran up-hill along the ground on wheels, with the hinder part in the air. The men who pushed were underneath and supported them with the above-mentioned hooked poles, those behind carrying the longer ones, and those in the middle the shorter; and as the poles had spikes on their nether-ends, the men were able to plant them in the ground and rest the shelter on them even on a steep slope. They advanced slowly, as the shelters were very heavy, and the enemy, some of whom looked out to see what was happening, began to throw great quantities of stones and artificial fire; but as the front part of the shelters was close to the ground, the stones rolled over the top without injuring the men underneath, and did so all the more easily because the slope was steep and the planks forming the shelters were consequently inclined. The hooked poles were so thick and strong that, although the enemy rolled down stones of two or three quintaux they did not break. Great beams of a pike's length, some of them with small cart-wheels attached, were also hurled down, but they also rolled over the roof of the shelters without doing any damage. Thus our men went up as far as the parapet where the Spaniards had attacked a week before, and our camp was so rejoiced to see the enemy unable to stop them that it was almost as good as if the town had fallen. All the men who went up under the shelters were Spanish soldiers, and no sooner had they arrived at the top than they began digging under the enemy's redout and making holes below it, which they protected with sticks and brushwood with earth interspersed in such a manner as to be safe from the enemy's fire. Within an hour and a half they were digging well away from the shelters, a stone's throw to the left in the open, and then the Germans, Burgundians, and later the pioneers came up to carry on the work. All day long they continued digging, the enemy throwing down stones and fire, and now and then showing themselves enough to fire an arquebuse.
The same day the English captain who had dug the mines set powder in four of them. These mines only went into the body of the wall, which was some 15 or 16 feet thick; and I said they would do little good and would only destroy the wall, without touching the enemy's redout, which was 10 or 12 feet away. It would be necessary, I said, to run some galleries further in in order to blow up the redoubt and reach the ground where the enemy were. I warned the colonel, the master of the camp, and the Burgundian gentlemen of this, but they told me to let the Englishman alone, for he knew what he was doing. So that afternoon the mines were fired, and it was a sight to see the storm of stones that flew out over the surrounding fields; some stones there were of one to one and a half quintaux in weight, which soared high in the air and came down 700 paces away. And with it all no damage was done to the redoubt or to the enemy, for all the stones and earth flew backwards out of the mine, in the direction in which the powder met the least resistance; though it is true that one of the mines made a useful place to climb up to the redout.
Nothing more was done that day; but at night strict watch had to be kept under our shelters, for at places there was but an ell and a half or less between our men and the enemy. Both sides slept little, for as our men were so near they had to keep their serpentines aimed and ready, and their arms in their hands, all turned towards the bastion and expecting to be fallen upon at any moment. The Frenchmen realised that their fate was in the balance, and early in the night tried to repulse our men, but were received in such a manner that they thought well to retire. The next morning, which was Tuesday, June 20th, the inventor of the shelters sent to ask me how he had better set powder in the places he had dug out. He had made a number of holes that did not go through to the other side, in each one of which there was room for a barrel of powder weighing three quintaux; but in one of these holes there was a tiny chink through which light came from the other side, and we could see the enemy's legs, though it was so small that the enemy did not notice it. We did not dare to break through at that point for fear the enemy might train guns on us there and spoil all our work. All the morning the French, who well knew they were unable to defend themselves, were trying to devise means of surrender, and there was much running to and fro between the redout and the lower part of the town, to decide what terms they should offer. The upshot was that we were to be asked to give them their lives, and to keep as prisoners the Constable's son, the captains and foremost men, for over 50 gentlemen had come to serve the King at Thérouanne, some of them men with 4,000 and 5,000 crowns a year, and one, who was killed by a shot from a cannon, was said to have 12,000. While these terms were being settled, the majority of the soldiers within did not believe that we would keep our word; for when they took Hesdin they did not keep theirs to our men, but killed many of them, and I have heard that at the taking of another fortress last year they did the same. However, they began to speak with us who were underneath the portable shelters, telling us not to shoot and that some of their number would lean over and talk to us. After having repeated this three or four times, one of them leaned over. He was immediately shot at from another part of the moat, but we shouted not to shoot, and began to show ourselves. Seeing that they were not shot at, the enemy then leaned over more boldly, and said they would surrender if we would show them fair treatment. We promised, gradually approached and took them prisoners, though they still had little confidence that we would spare their lives, because we had been so roughly handled the day of the assault; but they expected, nevertheless, to find us more merciful than the troops of other nationalities. Thus most of them fell into our hands, and I believe that not one was killed, and many were most courteously treated, and let go without paying a ransom, though some of them were able to give it. Neither were they searched, though it seems several had money on them. Then our people began to pour in through the breach and the gaps made by the mines, the town was sacked, and the Flemings and Burgundians set fire to it, and left nothing standing.
The Constable's son, with over 30 gentlemen and persons of importance, sallied out by the gate towards where Count Egmont was, for they had planned to surrender to him, and Count Egmont was waiting for them with a force of cavalry. The Frenchmen imagined that to be the safest thing to do; but it turned out to be the most dangerous, for the Flemings, Burgundians and Germans who were near by killed the whole company except for the Constable's son, who was saved, wounded in one arm, by four Germans. Our general gave 1,500 crowns for him, and I have heard that he is now demanding 40,000 crowns for his ransom. Thus fell Thérouanne, which I believe will never be lived in more.
In the town there were about 20 pieces of artillery more or less, which I was unable to count because some had been buried under material knocked down by our artillery fire, and others were at the bottom of bulwarks and casemates, in places so difficult to enter that I did not attempt to examine them. There were four plain cannons like those at Thionville, four half-culverines and other smaller pieces of various sizes, four falconets of cast-iron, a middling supply of powder and munitions, and plenty of corn. There was one beautiful, great gun, (fn. 20) which looked to me as if it would shoot a cannon-ball of nearly 40 pounds weight. It is 24 cannon-balls long, and its sides one finger less than a ball thick. I am sending a description of its calibre and a drawing of its sides. In our fortifications outside the town there were some 30 cannons, which I could not count because they were moved about from one battery to another, and I had other matters to attend to. Six or more had their mouths ruined, though two of these could be sawed, and are still good. Others had their touch-holes so much enlarged that it was no longer possible to fire them. There were also 10 half-cannons and as many culverines on the other side of the town, four of each where M. de Vandeville was encamped and six at another place on the same side of the river as the Spanish troops, which latter were trained on the houses and on people who showed themselves inside the town. We had plenty of good powder and cannon-ball, and about 1,000 pioneers, as bad as those brought to the siege of Metz by Johan Holz (Juan Hol), who also commanded them at Thérouanne, and was badly wounded, though it is said he will recover. It was very easy to bring up artillery, which came by water from Malines and other places to within two leagues of the town, and from that spot the road was very level and made an esplanade unnecessary. There were few artillery waggons and horses, and considering how easy it would have been to procure them, there were not as many workmen and implements as were needed. The trenches were the biggest and best I have ever seen: the work of an Englishman of great capacity.
Unsigned. Spanish.


  • 1. i.e. the Queen Dowager of Hungary.
  • 2. Juan Vazquez de Molina was secretary to the Emperor and member of the Spanish Council.
  • 3. From this point on this letter is in cipher.
  • 4. See the next paper.
  • 5. Noailles says in his despatches that one letter from him to his master was seized by Lord William Howard, and another stolen near Rye. (Mémoires, II, 107.)
  • 6. This copy is preserved in the same bundle, but the oipher evidently baffled Renard, and I have also failed to make it out.
  • 7. This copy has disappeared.
  • 8. The ambassadors' letter to Mary, of July 24th, q.v.
  • 9. i.e. Eleanor, sister of the Emperor and widow of Francis I.
  • 10. Imperial ambassador in Rome.
  • 11. This report seems to be worth printing, as it relates the share of an English company in the siege of Thérouanne, and gives a very full account of typical military operations of the period. Its authdr was probably an engineer.
  • 12. i.e. Adrien de Croÿ, Count de Rœulx.
  • 13. Charles, Prince of Epinoy.
  • 14. Lamoral, Count d'Egmont.
  • 15. Jehan Destourmel, Sieur de Vandeville.
  • 16. Francisco de Eraso, secretary to the Emperor.
  • 17. The Imperial army had failed to take Metz in November and December, 1552.
  • 18. A quintal is, or rather was, equivalent to a hundredweight, for the modern quintal metrique is of 2201b, avoirdupois.
  • 19. André de Montalembert, Sieur d'Essé, who had rendered distinguished service in Scotland in 1548.
  • 20. Rabutin (in Michaud and Poujoulat, Vol. VII) says that the best gun at Thérouanne was called Madame de Haire, because it could carry as far as Aire, two leagues away. He also mentions another piece, nearly as good, called Madame de Frelin.