Spain: September 1553, 11-15

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

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'Spain: September 1553, 11-15', in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 11, 1553, (London, 1916) pp. 229-238. British History Online [accessed 16 April 2024]

September 1553, 11–15

Sept. 12. Besançon, C.G. 73. The Queen Dowager to the Ambassadors in England.
I believe some among you are aware that I ordered certain exchanges on Spain of goodly sums of money required for his Majesty's service; and that I sent M. de Meeckere (fn. 1) to bring them hither. The whole amount could not be collected and put on board at once, because of the delays in the payments and his sudden departure. There remains a good sum yet to be forwarded; and certain personages have suggested that it might be brought across in two or three journeys by two or three armed vessels, which would take it to England, to the port of Bristol on the Irish side. We hear Bristol lies about 60 miles from London, whither it might be carried in carts, and sent thence to us. This seems the quickest and safest plan for transporting the said moneys. In order to meet any difficulty which might be made in England, I have bethought myself of writing you this letter, so that you may, adroitly and secretly, procure the necessary information, and even speak to the Queen in private if you consider it suitable to do so, in order to find out what may be expected. I request you to send me news of what you have been able to discover, together with your opinion on the matter, so that you may afterwards take the steps that shall appear best to suit his Majesty's service.
Mons, 12 September, 1553.
Signed original. French.
Sept. 13. Besançon, C.G. 73. The Bishop of Arras to Simon Renard.
Beyond what you will see in the letters his Majesty has written to all three of you, I desire to reply to your letters to me of the 8th and 9th instant, which I read out to his Majesty, as I had the former ones. His Majesty is well pleased with the prudent manner in which you are doing your duty in this negotiation, in which you were unable to do any more than encourage the Queen in her goodwill, until you had received orders to proceed further. Such orders it was impossible to give you, because we did not know for certain how far marriage negotiations had gone with the daughter of Queen Eleanor, nor what the Prince's wishes might be were he free in that direction. His Majesty has now been enlightened as to these points by a letter (fn. 2) that arrived from the Prince by land only two days ago, in which it is definitely stated that the (Portuguese) match is not concluded, and that he has deferred coming to a decision about it under colour of consulting his Majesty, in whose hands he leaves it to conclude one with Mary, if it pleases him to do so. He submits his will entirely to his Majesty's decision; but shows that he keenly desires it (i.e. the English match). His Majesty has consequently decided to proceed further, and to cause a proposal to be made on his behalf to the Queen, as you shall hear from other letters which his Majesty will write to you as soon as possible. He has informed the Queen of Hungary and M. de Praet of this detennination, as of an entirely new question and without saying anything about what — and — (fn. 3) have written about it, a matter which had better be kept a secret eternally for many reasons. When you write in reply to his Majesty's letters, do so on the basis of those letters and without dragging in anything else (sans prandre l'eauve de plus hault). The Emperor has resolved to recall your colleagues in order that they may not trouble or embarrass you, as they do not seem very affectionate towards you, and also because you will keep the matter more secret, as it must be kept, than if it were to pass through several hands. And this negotiation is so important that if you succeed you may derive so much profit and reputation therefrom that you will consider yourself fortunate to have been employed in it; so think nothing of staying over there for the present and until we see what is to come of it, for there will always be plenty of time to ask for your recall then, if you find that your health suffers. The letter will not go immediately, because it is for you alone; and I believe that the others' desire to return will prevent them from tarrying long after they have received the permission to depart that is now being sent to them. And as Scheyfve has not written to anyone to withdraw the applications to be recalled he sent some time ago, (fn. 4) his application is simply being granted and he is being recalled without making any mystery about it. Certainly, it would have been impossible for you to have conducted this negotiation with the necessary secrecy while he remained there.
I agree with you that the letter in general terms about her marriage, that the Queen wants so that she may show it to her Council, would be of no use until after the (session of) Parliament. You will see from what is going to be written to you that it is desired first to ascertain the Queen's own intentions as far as the Prince is concerned; and thus there will be time to consider the question of the letter in general terms.
You say in your letters that you were not of opinion that Don Diego de Mendoza ought to speak of the marriage to anyone except Dame Clarentius (fn. 5); but you do not tell me whether he did speak to her or not, or what was said, or if you yourself have spoken on the subject or found out anything about her (i.e. the Queen's) desires. His Majesty greatly wishes to have information on these points.
I was glad to hear from your letters that the English ambassadors on their return appeared satisfied with their reception here, and especially with my own small share in it. Besides the consideration owing to them, the thought of the Queen was enough to prompt us to do something unusual in their honour, over and above the welcome that is usually given to ambassadors.
I am sending you the three holy oils the Queen asked for, which are those that I usually carry about with me for the consecrations it is sometimes my duty to perform. I beg you to ask the Queen's pardon because the vessel is not more ornate; for I did my best to have a new one made, suitable to be placed in her hands, but I failed to find a master who would promise to finish it in less than three weeks, which would have been too late. I consequently preferred to obey her orders literally, rather than to risk failure by attempting too much.
You wrote in your last letters that the King of France in person solicited the Queen's ambassador to induce her to mediate, and that you thought his Majesty, in order to find out what the French really had in mind, might approve of your approaching the Queen. It is fitting in ladies that they should display zeal as peacemakers, so she might do her best with the object of getting the French to be more explicit about what they would consent to in the cause of peace. They appear to be looking for means of making it in several quarters; but the peace they want is too favourable to themselves to suit us. If they were willing to see reason, I, as an ecclesiastic who grieves over the discords of Christendom, would be glad to see a good peace concluded; and to be plain with you I would not want it unless it were strongly to our advantage.
Mons, 13 September, 1553.
Signed. French. Partly cipher. Printed by Weiss. Documents Inédits, Vol. IV.
Sept. 14. Vienna, Imp. Arch. Ê.21. The Emperor to Mary I.
As it has pleased God to forward the firm establishment of your reign, which we trust may continue and prosper; and also because we wish to hear more minutely of your good progress, we have determined to recall our faithful and well-beloved Councillors and ambassadors, MM. de Courrières and deThoulouse, Knights, and M. Scheyfve, Master of Requests in Ordinary of our Household. We judge their stay in England to be no longer necessary, and desire to employ them otherwise in our service, considering that they cannot serve you more by remaining. We request you, therefore, to grant them your gracious leave; and we have chosen our faithful and well-beloved Councillor and Master of Bequests in Ordinary of our Household, the Lieutenant of Amont, who is now at your Court, to remain there for the present with the charge of ambassador in ordinary. We pray you to grant him access to you willingly from time to time, and give him credence in what he may say to you, as you would to ourself.
Mons-en-Hainault, 14 September, 1553.
French. Minute.
Sept. 14. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 21. The Emperor to his Ambassadors in England.
We have received your letters of the 27th of August and of the 4th and 9th of the present month. You are rendering us an agreeable service in sending detailed information of all that has taken place with the Queen and her Councillors, and of her conversation with your secretary, Ambassador Scheyfve, for we are very desirous of hearing the progress made towards the establishment of English affairs. Certainly, matters of religion are making a miraculous advance, even though some may be given to dissimulation; yet we fear that too much haste might bring about trouble, and we approve your advice to the Queen to defer the coming of Cardinal Pole. We had made the same answer to one of his servitors whom he despatched to us. After the close of the coming session of Parliament, it will be easier to see whether it will be suitable to have him come. The delay is brief; and God may haply set His hand, even as He has touched the hearts of the English, to the completion of the work initiated by the Queen; and they may be brought to frame laws more salutary than one could have hoped for in so short a time. Although the Duke of Northumberland, with others of his principal adherents, is now executed; and although the Queen's clemency is worthy of praise, yet it will be well that she take care not to exercise it so as to prejudice the establishment of her reign. You who are on the spot can better judge who, for one reason or another, had better be kept at a distance from her, than I. You will do well to put her in mind of it, and of the need of making herself safe by every means in her power; and being strong upon her throne she will be able to improve her opportunity in God's service.
The number of the Councillors she has elected is very large, though, as you say, she reduces it somewhat when matters of trust are under discussion. We greatly praise you for the advice you have given her not to submit too far at the beginning and find herself inconvenienced later on.
We have considered what you have written in several letters about the suspicions roused over there by your protracted stay; and in order to dispel them, we have decided to recall you, MM. de Courrières and de Thoulouse; and you also, Ambassador Scheyfve, deferring to your frequent requests, and in consideration of your long absence from home, so that you may have the opportunity of setting your private affairs in order; while you, Lieutenant of Amont, shall remain in England for a certain time to continue the negotiations with the charge of ambassador, until such time as we shall send another in your place, or the said Scheyfve return thither. We request you to send us advices from time to time concerning all you may be able to discover relating to the condition of affairs in the kingdom; and we recommend you to perform all the requisite good offices for the maintenance of the friendly relations and perfect amity and intelligence between the Queen and ourselves. We are sending letters to the Queen, as you will see by the copy, in virtue of which you, MM. de Courrières, de Thoulouse and Scheyfve, may take your leave of the Queen; while you, Lieutenant of Amont, may found your charge upon them, as they contain a paragraph at the end accrediting you, and declaring you to be deputed by us to act as our ambassador in ordinary.
In order that we may the better decide upon all we shall desire you, Lieutenant of Amont, to negotiate on our behalf, concerning the Queen's affairs generally or matters relating to us, as well as upon the question of her marriage, on which the Queen has asked our advice, it will be necessary that you, MM. de Courrières and Thoulouse, and you, Scheyfve, return hither furnished with the fullest information concerning the condition of the kingdom, and particularly what has occurred since your last letters, the credit enjoyed by the various Councillors, the good or bad intelligence among them, the objects to which the Queen and country chiefly aspire, and, generally speaking, anything you may discover, so that you may render minute account of it on your arrival, and also inform us of the answer made by the Queen to the writing you presented recently to her, a copy of which you sent to us. We desire that your return be as speedy as possible.
Mons-en-Hainault, 14 September, 1553.
French. Headed: Extract from the minute.
Printed from a transcript at Brussels by Gachard, Voyages des Souverains des Pays-Bas, Appendix to Vol. IV.
Sept. 14. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 20. The Ambassadors in England to the Emperor.
Sire: Adrian Crole, (fn. 6) of Enkhuysen in Holland, presented himself before us recently and informed us that he had a licence from M. de Beveren, Admiral of your Majesty's fleets, to equip and arm two small vessels and sail in search of adventure upon the seas. On the 6th of this month he found himself off the coast of England near the island of Guernsey. The Lieutenant (fn. 7) of the island told him it would be an easy enough matter to surprise the island of Sark, occupied by the French and fortified by them during the last four or five years; and if he decided upon the attempt he would give him men to guide him and show him where the passage lay through which he could land. His commission and the object of his journey were founded upon adventure; and he went in for the exploit, and landed upon the island the same night about one hour after midnight, with about one hundred and fifty men, some belonging to his crews, others not; and among them were four Englishmen who piloted him. He found two forts upon the island; and near the first, which was small and intended to guard the approach to the island, he came upon two men asleep, who were the sentries; so he tied them up to two trees. He then went to the large fort, where he found two more men on guard; the rest, who were supposed to guard the town, were asleep in their boxes in front of the fort, to the number of eighteen, whom they took prisoners. Three of them were wounded in the skirmish, and are believed to have died. He sent the rest away, as he had no use for them; and in this fashion he took the island.
He found three arquebuses in the first fort; in the second two cannons, one sound; two gun carriages; two sarces, one carton, five arquebuses, eight pousons bigger than heron's eggs and full of powder; cast-iron and lead bullets in sufficient quantity for the defence of the island, whose number and variety of size and weight seemed to indicate that there were more pieces of artillery than he had found.
The island lies between the islands of Guernsey, Jersey and Alderney, held by the English. It is about four English miles from Guernsey, five from Jersey, and seven from Alderney, whence it is possible to cross over to Normandy in three or four hours, and in five or six to Cherbourg in Normandy. It is naturally strong and could be guarded by two or three hundred men, or made quite safe against all comers with five hundred men, the coast being high cliffs of strong, smooth stone, inaccessible except in two or three places; and even in these the ascent is full of difficulty. It has no port. It measures four miles in length and two in breadth. If it were cultivated, a thousand men might live on the produce of the island; there is plenty of pasture, and a great abundance of coneys. The said Crole's plunder and spoil only consisted of sixteen or eighteen ferrets; he did not find the officers and troops who were supposed to protect the island, for they departed for the King of France's Court to obtain money for the payment of the soldiers, who must have been about ninety men, and had not been paid for six months; and to provide for the revictualling of the garrison. The beer had run short; but except for that Crole told us there was food enough to last two or three months for the fifty men he had left there. Two streams of fresh water are found on the island, and one has a mill. There is no port; but the port of Guernsey is so near that it would be sufficient. The vessels approaching the island would be protected by the narrow gulley and find safe anchorage there; and in case of a storm the port of Guernsey would give them the necessary shelter. The French fishing-boats can be spied from the island; and, moreover, it commands the three English islands and keeps them in constant alarm and fear. The English would willingly have seized it long ago, had they not feared it might lead to a rupture with the French, and they dared not undertake it for that reason. The Lieutenant did not wish it to be known that he had had anything to do with the taking of the island; but it gave the English, and especially the inhabitants of the said islands, great satisfaction. The Lieutenant granted him (Crole) letters by which he could obtain victuals and all he might need from the neighbouring places; and he promised him secret assistance and help of men if the French were to come back to take the island and he stood in need of it. The island can afford the means to cause great damage and annoyance to the French; this was confirmed by Mr. (Sir Philip) Hoby to Scheyfve, to whom he said that from the island one could interfere with the traffic of the Bretons, Normans and Gascons, if your Majesty had it guarded. Crole informed us, moreover, that the larger fort was made of earth, quadrangular, of a good height, and was tenable; that with twenty or thirty more men he could undertake to keep it a month; for the defence consisted entirely, he said, in keeping good watch. The island being fairly large he needed more men for the guarding of it. The island could only be stormed or taken by surprise, otherwise it would be difficult to get possession of it; and had he the money to do it, he would hire twenty or thirty soldiers to make himself safe until he heard your Majesty's reply, which he hoped would come promptly so that he might avoid being compelled by lack of money and men to give the island back to the French if they were to return. On hearing of the importance and consequence of the island in question, we sent Crole back to it, so that for the better service of your Majesty he might guard it carefully until your Majesty arrived at a determination concerning it. We told him to send some one to us or return himself in a week's time—as the passage from Southampton to the said island is only ten or twelve hours—to hear your Majesty's pleasure. We gave him thirty crowns for his use and service in the meantime; and we despatched the present letters expressly to your Majesty so that you might command us what we were to do. We have considered that the island in question might be useful not merely to harry the French navigators, but might serve against the English, too, (fn. 8) if the occasion presented itself.
We have given our opinion to the Queen in writing on the business of the absolution which she is secretly beseeching the Pope to grant, and on Cardinal Pole's journey and commission, in accordance with our statement, submitted to and approved by your Majesty, that the Cardinal's journey ought to be delayed by the Queen. She has sent us word that during the last four or five days the Bishop of Winchester, Rochester (Sir Robert), her Controller, Inglefield (Sir Francis) and Walgrave (Sir Edward), her Councillors, have spoken to her persuading her to marry, and named Courtenay as a desirable and acceptable match, saying he alone in the kingdom is worthy of the marriage. She replied that Courtenay was very young; he had grown up in captivity, and time would show of what he was capable; she did not wish to attend to any private affairs before the assembling of Parliament, and she must be allowed to remain in peace till then. She believes the proposal made by the Councillors in question to be in conformity with the desires of the rest. She was more astonished than she could say to hear by the report made by Hoby and Morison to her Council that your Majesty declared your desire and advice to be that she should marry an Englishman, and that they made use of the argument as if to convince her. My Lord Warden had said to her that the Queen (Dowager) had spoken of the marriage with him and confirmed your Majesty's intention to be that she should marry in England; but, nevertheless, she would question the Lord Warden again on the last point to ascertain the truth. She was greatly astonished that your Majesty should defer so long in giving her your good advice and opinion on the subject, which she was waiting for with great deference.
The Queen has sent for the Bishop of Norwich to assist at the Parliament, not to recall him from his embassy. Although a certain number of vacant bishoprics are being provided for, yet her conscience is troubled because of the question of the Papal authority, and because fitting personages, learned and trustworthy, cannot be found over here to further the cause of religion during the coming session of Parliament. This were indeed most necessary; it is said that there are many secret practices on foot for upholding the new religion, and several of the preachers who were about to withdraw from the kingdom are not going yet, it is supposed because they will wait and see what decisions will be taken by the Parliament. The edict commanding foreign refugees, offenders against the laws of their native countries, to leave the kingdom, has not been published yet.
Commissioners have been appointed to compound with those who had followed the Duke of Northumberland; and the Admiral (fn. 9) has compounded for six thousand pounds sterling, a sum equivalent to eighteen thousand ducats; my Lord Grey for seven thousand, and several others according to their means. This is hardly a wise course at the present season, because those who have been mulcted will probably resent it; besides which the transaction is an odious one in itself.
Crole used certain frivolous expressions, such as that he could make his profit out of the island, and showed a certain amount of frivolity. He said to us that your Majesty ought to pay the expenses and wages of the men he had placed on the island and take into consideration his trouble and need and the service he was doing. It will be well that your Majesty decide and provide what is to be done in the matter as you shall think best.
London, 14 September, 1553.
Postscript.—The Queen has commanded us to recommend again that the chrism be sent for her coronation.
French. Partly cipher. Signed by the four ambassadors.
An extract, from a transcript at Brussels, printed by Gachard, Voyages des Souverains des Pays-Bas, Appendix to Vol. IV.
Sept. 15. Simancas, E. 1322. Francisco de Vargas to Prince Philip.
On the 11th of last month I wrote to your Highness that his Holiness, after having considered the revocation of the Legates he had sent to enter into conversations for the peace, confirmed them in their mission once more after he heard of the taking of Hesdin; after which, as I heard from Rome, he deliberated again in two consistories to recall them, as he decided that Cardinal Pole should start immediately for England, and also do his best to promote the peace. This means, on the face of it, that the Pope intends to take this excuse to send the Cardinal to the French Court to give an account of his delegation; being enabled in this way to play his part of neutrality and satisfy at the same time the French cardinals who have urged him to this business (i.e. to send Pole to England). It is clear to the Almighty and to the world that the Queen has had no greater enemy than the French King, who will always do his best to oppose her. The Pope is greatly to be blamed and censured for his weakness in simulating a neutral attitude on this question. But as he (Pole) was about to go, and indeed, I believe, when he had actually started for his Majesty's Court, whither he was to repair first, a secretary of Legate Dandino's arrived in great diligence at his Holiness's Court carrying a despatch for Cardinal Pole, with the result that his departure was deferred. I have a suspicion as to what the reason may be, for I wrote to your Highness when I enclosed a copy of what I had written to Cardinal Pole, (fn. 10) and afterwards to his Majesty and the Queen (Dowager), from either of whom Dandino may have heard the manner and temper with which this affair ought to be undertaken, without precipitation, but testing the progress as it is made. The Queen will have to be ruled by the greatest prudence, and even as God has clearly favoured her so far in her undertakings, it may be hoped that He will guide and protect her henceforward also. I am sending a copy (fn. 11) of that which she commanded to be published on religion, in which the fervour I have referred to and the holy zeal she nourishes are clearly to be seen. I do not know what his Holiness will decide now, or what Dandino is about. He does his best no doubt to obtain that the legation entrusted to him shall not be revoked, because of the profit and the hopes that are his if all goes well. For my own part, until English affairs and the temper of the people have improved, I hope the Legate may not go thither, nor until the Queen is married to whomsoever she may marry, with his Majesty's advice, as it is to be hoped. Your Highness no doubt has heard all about it and the civil offices that are being performed from time to time. I am doubtful if Cardinal Pole might not be an impediment in this matter; because although he is a good man and holy, as we all know, and devoted to his Majesty and your Highness, yet as Legate he would obey the Pope's commands, and might even aspire to more for himself, either because it were owed to him or on account of his own merits, being, as he is, of the blood royal, the head of the house of the White Rose, (fn. 12) as his friends say, and untrammelled by any ecclesiastical orders that might stand in the way of marriage. Whether he or another be chosen, if his Majesty approves, we must believe it to be for the best. . . .
Venice, 15 September, 1553.
Spanish. Signed.


  • 1. Gérard de Meeckere (or Mceckeren), Vice-Admiral of Flanders. For details of his earlier career, see the last volume of this Calendar.
  • 2. See Prince Philip to the Emperor, August 22, 1553.
  • 3. Two words in cipher that have not been made out.
  • 4. See Scheyfve to the Bishop of Arras, May 30, June 12 and 15, 1553.
  • 5. Mary's Mistress of the Robes, variously referred to as Clarence, Clarentius, Clarencyeus.
  • 6. Adrian Crole was afterwards dislodged from Sark by the Governor of Normandy, Martin du Bellay.
  • 7. Thomas Compton was Lieutenant to Sir Peter Meutia, Meuthes, or Mewtas, Captain of the island of Guernsey.
  • 8. The last four words are in cipher.
  • 9. Edward, Lord Clinton.
  • 10. See p. 160.
  • 11. Probably the “pronouncement” given on p. 157.
  • 12. Pole's maternal grandfather was George, Duke of Clarence, brother of Edward IV and Richard III, and son of Richard, Duke of York.