Spain: October 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: October 1553, 11-15', in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 11, 1553, (London, 1916) pp. 285-302. British History Online [accessed 29 February 2024]

October 1553, 11–15

Oct. 11. Simancas, E. 505. The Emperor to Don Juan Manrique de Lara. (fn. 1)
Immediately after Legate Dandino received his Holiness' orders to depart, he asked for an audience which we granted him on the 5th instant. He began his discourse by congratulating us on our health and the great benefits our return had conferred on these countries. Then, having presented the brief in which his Holiness signified to us his reasons for thinking it better to recall his legates, he read out to us a translation of another he had received in similar terms, ordering him to take leave to depart unless he saw some new and more hopeful prospect of making peace, for the same instructions had been sent to the legate in France. After reading both briefs he said to us that his Holiness, who always had a father's desire for the good of Christendom, would have gladly seen his efforts rewarded by more success, but as little was to be looked for in the present circumstances and it was not meet that legates of the apostolic see should witness such scenes (of war), he had charged them both to return to Rome unless they could entertain better hopes. Nevertheless, his Holiness did not mean to signify by their recall that he would no longer work for the cause of peace, for if he saw any way open to achieve so good and holy a result he would not only take the same steps over again, but in spite of all his years would come in person if he saw that his presence could avail. We replied that no other (than Dandino) could be a better witness of our constant wish to have peace in Christendom. Three years ago, when he had come to Augsburg by his Holiness' orders, before the rupture over Parma took place, to tell us of his Holiness' resentful indignation and resolve to declare war against the King of France, we had foreseen the ills that might accrue to Christendom and had exposed several grave drawbacks, (fn. 2) desiring to moderate his wrath and avoid a rupture. No man, however, could be at peace longer than his neighbour would allow him, and the King of France had by his own choice elected to break off peaceable relations in the evil manner the world knew of, and therefore was responsible for the ills that had come with war. In spite of that, we were now as always ready, as we had told the legate, to accept a peace provided it should be effected in the manner required by the present state of affairs.
As for the truce that had been proposed to us, the legate had heard for what reasons we considered it by no means satisfactory. On our side, all that we might agree to would scrupulously be observed, whilst experience showed that no such behaviour was to be looked for from the King, as was sufficiently proved by the recent reply in which he attempted to drag into the discussion points that former treaties had agreed to leave aside.
It was not to be expected from one who had acted thus that he would keep his word now; and the King's desire for peace might be measured by his manner of demanding a kingdom or state of ours in exchange for every parcel of territory we had occupied since hostilities began. We then mentioned the Turkish fleet, and the harm it had done in Christendom in the last three years. We blamed the King as he deserved for being the author of so much misery, to perpetrate which he had cast aside all fear of God and regard for his Holiness, who certainly ought to mark his displeasure. The legate replied in excuse that his Holiness had not failed to admonish the King and do all that he could; but we retorted that that was not enough in so disgraceful a case, and that, as the offence had been public, some public reproval was called for, as the Gospel itself bore witness. Thus might the whole world know that his Holiness was entirely fulfilling the duties imposed upon him by the place Our Lord had appointed him to fill in His Church.
We went on to speak of our departure from Mons for Valenciennes, and the letters that the King of France had written to all quarters, full of things foreign to the truth. Such was his custom, and it clearly showed his youth, vanity and thirst for glory. God be thanked, we had already won all the glory we wanted, and had no need to adopt such expedients, but we would remark that though the King found himself at the head of the strongest army either he or his father had ever got together, he had fled before a live woman and a dead man, and when he came within sight of our position he had not dared to load or fire a single piece of artillery for fear of losing it.
We then touched, in moderate terms, on the complaints we might be justified in making of his Holiness were it to turn out to be true, as people were everywhere repeating, that he was soliciting the Duke of Florence to make peace with France. On the legate's replying that his Holiness could do nothing against us because of the love and gratitude he felt for all our friends, we continued that no offices, however slight, undertaken by his Holiness with the Duke would be justifiable, for their end could only be to lead him, by indirect means, away from his attachment to us. In conclusion, we remarked that his Holiness was prudent enough to realise that we asked nothing impossible of him, and made no attempt to force him. We believed that though he was a father to all he treated his sons according to their actions. It was clear enough whose fault it was that peace could not be made, for the King of France was determined not to restore that which he had wrongfully seized, and cared not a whit what happened, while he kept everything in an uproar with the one object of injuring us, just as he had constantly displayed the same anxiety to prevent religious affairs from reaching a settlement. We had no need to expatiate in words to prove to his Holiness and the world in general that we desired peace on condition that it should be such as we might term true, perpetual and universal; so he was free to go and obey his Holiness' orders as soon as he should see fit.
After this talk about peace, the legate spoke of England, and of the excellent present opportunity to establish the authority of the papal see in that kingdom, mentioning the choice of Cardinal Pole as an instrument of this design, and urging us, in whose power it lay to do more than anyone else, to lend our assistance with as good a will as we were accustomed to show whenever God's service and the welfare of His Church were concerned. We replied that the Queen, in this beginning, had done not only her duty but more than was prudent, as the legate himself must know. So far was it from being an auspicious moment for sending Cardinal Pole thither that his own brother, (fn. 3) who had been at Liége, had recently gone to England where a gentleman of the blood royal, named Courtenay, who had been in prison since King Henry VIII's days, had wished to kill him, asserting that the Cardinal's father (sic) had been the cause of his father's death. Therefore, if Pole went to England as legate now, those who were ill-disposed and hated the authority of the apostolic see might make him a pretext for attacks on religion, which it would be difficult to guard against. Even if the Queen, at her coronation, took the title of head of the Anglican Church and created bishops as her father and brother had done, there would be no room for doubt of her righteous intentions, for she would only do so compelled by the necessity of having some prelates whom she might trust at this early stage, as they had so much power in Parliament, so that matters might proceed in the desired course. She would do so with all due recognition of the authority of the apostolic see, protesting her submission to it, in the hope that his Holiness would do his part and enable her to possess an untroubled conscience, assured as he was of her good intentions and the reasons why she adopted that attitude. Such was her ardour for remedying religious affairs that it stood in need of a bridle rather than of the spur, for she had gone so far as perhaps to have imperilled her Crown, especially as one must remember the artful devices of the French, who had taken care to have a finger in the religious question in England with the hope of provoking disorder, acting hypocritically as they were wont. When the Queen's position should be more assured, after her coronation had helped to consolidate her authority in the country, and when it should be seen how things shaped themselves in the Parliament that was about to be held, then it would be possible to judge what method must be adopted to further the end in view, namely, to establish the authority of the apostolic see, which was also the Queen's main object. For our part we would do our best in the cause, as his Holiness trusted. And with this the legate was satisfied.
The legate asked us what had been done about Elector Maurice's state, and when we would hold a Diet in Germany. To the first question we replied that as his brother, Augustus, had been invested jointly with Maurice, the investiture had already been given to him, and we had called him Elector before his deputies; and to the second that, as affairs were not at all settled as yet in Germany, the Diet had been delayed and was now prorogued until the Epiphany (i.e. January 6, 1554), and in the interval we would make efforts to achieve quiet there.
He also spoke to us about the necessity of facilitating the task of the holy office of the Inquisition in our state of Milan because of the stain (mácula) that existed in it. We gave him all the requisite powers, in order that there as everywhere else the holy office might be afforded all favour, and the guilty punished and extirpated.
He also visited us in the name of the Lord Balduino, (fn. 4) and told us of the marriage of Count Santa Fiora and certain other details, for which we thanked him graciously, and thus the audience ended. He took leave, and we told him we would remember him and be glad to do whatever we might in his favour. We are giving you this information in order that you may be well posted as to what happened here with the legate, and speak in the requisite tone to his Holiness on the subject. We will reply to the points mentioned in your letter in another, for up to the present we have been too busy.
Brussels, 11 October, 1553.
Spanish. Copy or decipherment
Oct. 12 Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 20. Simon Renard to the Emperor.
At the audience the Queen of England gave me on the 7th instant to treat of the private affairs about which I wrote to your Majesty on the 10th, I told her that I had letters in your Majesty's own hand and addressed to her, to serve as credentials for me when I should make mention of the question of marriage, according to her desire that I had reported in my former letters. As soon as it pleased her I would present these credentials and make known to her the contents of your Majesty's letters of September 20th, which I had hitherto been unable to do because of the coronation and other ceremonies, and because I had failed to find an opportunity of speaking with her, for your Majesty wished the matter to remain secret and unknown to all other persons whatsoever. The Queen assigned me this last Tuesday at five or six in the evening, to go to her at Westminster Palace, entering it by the gallery on the river Thames; and she came up so close to me that I was able to deliver your Majesty's letters to her without being seen by those who were in the same room. On Tuesday she sent her servant to lead me to her, and I read the letters of oredence, which she had not been able entirely to make out. I then declared to her the contents of your Majesty's private letters, and recapitulated our mission to England, part of our negotiations, your Majesty's care for her affairs, your joy at her accession to the throne, her firm establishment and fervent zeal in the cause of religion, and the favourable outlook for the session of Parliament. I dwelt on your Majesty's desire to show by deeds your singular and paternal affection for her, which now moved you to make a proposal of marriage for the sake of the common weal, that she might obtain posterity and thus continue the succession to the Crown in the true and direct line, and also that she might be relieved of pains and travails which were rather men's work than of the profession of ladies. Your Majesty in this had a view to her personal safety and tranquillity and the welfare of the kingdom, for your constant good opinion of her had been redoubled by your appreciation of the prudence and magnanimity displayed in her actions. As the Queen had told us that she would not marry without your Majesty's knowledge and advice, and had no fancy for anyone in the kingdom, your Majesty had long pondered the question and come to the conclusion that it would be necessary for her to contemplate matrimony for the above considerations. Your Majesty had her person in so great esteem that you had commanded me to tell her that, if age and health had permitted, you would have desired no other match, but as years and infirmity rendered your person a poor thing to be offered to her, you could think of no one dearer to you or better suited than my Lord the Prince, your son, who was of middle age, of distinguished qualities, and of honourable and Catholic upbringing. You had therefore commanded me to propose this alliance if it were agreeable to her and feasible, but if not let her tell me plainly her wishes and inclinations to which your Majesty would always bow, because you had no private object in this, but had only thought you could suggest no more suitable match, and none from which the kingdom might look for more benefits and security. But before learning her desires your Majesty would not wish to make any overtures of the subject to anyone in the world, because it would not be proper and because your principal object was to please her.
She replied that she humbly thanked your Majesty for your remembrance of her and the honour you had done her by proposing a greater match than she deserved, and true it was that she had again and again told us she would not marry without your knowledge and approval. Then, when I begged her to speak plainly and openly, she said she did not know how the people of England would take it, for they were of such and such a character, as your Majesty knew, nor whether the members of the Council would consent. They might raise the objection that his Highness, after your Majesty's death, would have many realms and provinces which he would be unwilling to abandon to come and live in England, as it was most necessary he should to satisfy the people. She asked me who would be Emperor after your Majesty's death, and observed that the match could not be more Catholic or honourable. As for his Highness' conditions, they were unknown to her, and she had heard that he was not as wise as your Majesty and was very young, being only twenty-six years of age. If he were disposed to be amorous, such was not her desire, for she was of the age your Majesty knew of and had never harboured thoughts of love. She would wholly love and obey him to whom she had given herself, following the divine commandment, and would do nothing against his will; but if he wished to encroach in the government of the kingdom she would be unable to permit it, nor if he attempted to ml posts and offices with strangers, for the country itself would never stand such interference. It was difficult, indeed almost impossible, for her to make up her mind so quickly and without the assistance of certain of her Council, for the step was of great importance and for all her life; but it would be improper for her to confer with her Council about the marriage unless there were some reason for it, as she had always rebuffed those who had brought up the subject in such fashion that they had never mentioned it again, though she believed Parliament meant to speak of it to her. She was as free as on the day of her birth, and had never taken a fancy to anyone. If your Majesty would write letters in general terms to her and five or six of her Council whom she named to me, and who are the same that Paget gave me in writing, without mentioning anyone or specifying any match, she thought it would be the likeliest road to try. She would then be able to speak to them about it, find out their wishes, hear the objections they might raise, discover how the people would take it and weigh their affections, the results of which conferences she would make known to your Majesty. If you were to urge her to marry it could not be taken otherwise than in good part, and were the Council to fix on some match that did not please your Majesty she would devise good means of setting aside their resolution; and she trusted so much to your goodness and sincerity that she considered herself incapable of managing this affair by herself without risking her position and exposing her person to danger. She conjured me to tell her what his Highness' character was, for she had heard that when the King of Bohemia was in Spain he had gained great renown there by the way he had conducted affairs in his Highness' absence, whilst on the other hand his Highness was not highly thought of in comparison with Maximilian.
In answer I said that I did not see how your Majesty could well write letters to her and her Council on the matter of marriage, for her own inclination was of greater moment than anything the Council could have to say and was the point your Majesty wished to ascertain, for I doubted whether you would be willing to do anything until you had been assured of her will. As for the objections she raised, they were easily answered. First, the people; for I did not see that the people of England must necessarily disapprove of so great an alliance, that would be of benefit to the kingdom and promise peace, repose, prosperity and liberty. Far less did I think the Council, if they sincerely desired the greatness and increase of the kingdom and her personal security, would oppose her wishes. When she had made known her desires, means should be contrived to bring them to a favourable view, though she herself might do more than anyone else. As for the plurality of realms that his Highness was to possess, it seemed better to choose a king than a simple lord for the good of the country, and if the alliance were concluded his Highness would have no dearer wish than to stay with her, besides which his realms were so near one another that when he was in one of them he could not be said to be absent from the rest, but rather present. He had his son, the Infante of Spain, who would remain in Spain and administer Italy and Naples. The alliance would be a great one because of his Highness' rank, which was known to her, and because he was a prince so puissant that the kingdom would be able to look to him for succour and aid, and vassals for advancement out of his own patrimony, not England's. The successor to the Empire would be elected by the process demanded by its privileges and constitutions. As for his Highness' character, I doubted not that she had been informed by persons of suspicious antecedents, too fond of slander and moved rather by their passions than by any regard for truth. His Highness' nature was so admirable, so virtuous, prudent and modest as to appear too wonderful to be human, and though the Queen might believe me to be speaking the language of a subject or servant I was in reality minimising his qualities. I well enough knew that the French and the Duke of Northumberland's party would not like the match for reasons of their own, and not because they desired the Queen's good; but your Majesty had maturely examined her requirements and those of her kingdom, and had been unable to suggest a more fitting person. She and her Council would do well to remember that she had four certain and open enemies: the heretics and schismatics, the rebels and partisans of the late Duke of Northumberland, the French and Scots, and the Lady Elizabeth, who would never cease to trouble her while they had the means, and even rise against her and her government. His Highness was middle-aged, being twenty-six, and it seemed difficult to find a prince of the age she required, for if she chose a husband of fifty he would be too old to hope for posterity, and men declined and grew old at fifty or sixty, which age very few passed. She must remember that princes' children left fatherless at a tender age ran great risks, as had been seen in the case of King Edward, of recent memory. His Highness had already been married, had a son of eight and was a prince of so stable and settled a character that he was no longer young, for nowadays a man nearly thirty was considered as old as men formerly were at forty. Your Majesty had not proposed the alliance thinking that his Highness could behave towards her otherwise than as a good and virtuous prince ought towards a lady of her position. Let her have no fear, for it was well-known what advantages might accrue to her, and might be declared and specified by the treaty that would be concluded, and assured by inviolable oaths. Your Majesty's fidelity and sincerity ought to be known to her, and you would never allow strangers to be placed in office or given benefices in her kingdom, for—God be praised!—his Highness had the wherewithal to advance and recompense his ministers and servants elsewhere. As for what she had said about not being able or willing to make up her mind so quickly without consulting some of her Council, and her desire that your Majesty should write letters in general terms as above, I would inform you of it and of everything else she had said; and I begged her to believe that you were moved in what you had proposed by a sincere desire for her welfare, and not by any private consideration, and would not wish to insist if it were not to appear feasible.
The Queen made reply that she had entire confidence in your Majesty's loving-kindness for her, but she did not think it possible or safe to come to any decision without consulting her Council, not that she would mention names, or say that you had gone so far as to suggest any person, for she would only find out their opinions, which she could not do unless you would give her an opportunity by writing the said letters. She would never, she repeated, think of marrying without your Majesty knowing her intentions before her own confessor, for after God there was no one for whom she had so much respect. I was to tell your Majesty that the sooner the letters could be written and sent off the better, for they would be welcome here. She well knew what the French were doing and saying, and put no trust in their words, for she was aware that their designs would go so far as to lead them to try to seize the Crown if they could, but they should not approach Courtenay or Elizabeth without her knowledge, for Courtenay's mother had promised to inform her. As for Elizabeth, she was a bastard, the offspring of one (i.e. Anne Boleyn) of whose good fame I might have heard, and who had received her punishment. During the last three days she had spoken with Courtenay more than ever before, and he had told her that a gentleman of this nation, whom she named to me, had said to him that he ought to marry Elizabeth; he had better not attempt to ally himself with the Queen, for if he took Elizabeth he or his children would have hope of succeeding, as the Queen was old and aging. Courtenay had replied that he was too unworthy ever to have thought of so exalted an alliance, and had not contemplated one with Elizabeth; and he humbly begged the Queen to remember that he ever considered himself her prisoner, and aspired to no liberty except such as she would of her grace accord him. Ear less would he be insensible of the honour and benefits he had received from her, for he desired to disobey her in nothing, but to do as she should be pleased to command him. If she wished to have him marry, let it be rather some simple girl than Elizabeth, who was a heretic, too proud and of too doubtful lineage on her mother's side. As to the French, they had caused him to be spoken to in general terms, but without entering into particulars. The Queen had replied that when she should be married, if she did make up her mind to do so, she would have a care to provide him with an honourable, Catholic match, and would advance him as his conduct deserved. She then repeated to me for the third time that I must write to your Majesty for the letters and hasten their arrival, and went on to say that Parliament seemed to be starting well, and gave ground to hope that the issue would be favourable. She had sent off orders that Cardinal Pole was not to go to Liége until it should be seen how things went in Parliament, where— thanks be to God!—those who had been thought to be most stubborn were half won over. She thanked me for my trouble in coming to her at so late an hour, and I told her that I heard the intrigues of the French and certain of the English were increasing, so I thought she had better not believe all that was said to her, and that I would immediately send off a messenger to your Majesty. That is all I negotiated; and I have endeavoured as far as possible to set down the actual words used, so that your Majesty may realise the difficulties, and see that the enterprise will not be so easy unless the Council are won over, and that the letters she desires are to afford an opportunity of raising the subject of marriage.
It has been bruited about in this town that his Highness is soon coming to England on account of the marriage, and that Don Iñigo de Mendoza is to come hither on his part to prepare for his journey and visit the Queen. It is also said that your Majesty is ill; and the French ambassador never ceases to go from one house to another of the Councillors and leading men of the country, also sending his secretary, to dissuade them from consenting to the match, and the same is done by—. (fn. 5)
London, 12 October, 1553.
Holograph. French.
Printed from a transcript at Brussels by Gachard, Voyages des Souverains des Pays-Bas, Appendix to Vol. IV.
Oct. 14. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. Varia, 4. Mary I to Simon Renard.
Sir: If it were not too much trouble for you, and if you were to find it convenient to do so without the knowledge of your colleagues, I would willingly speak to you in private this evening, as you four are to come to-morrow. Nevertheless, I remit my request to your prudence and discretion. Written in haste, as it well appears, this morning, 13 October. Your good friend, Mary.
French. Holograph.
Oct. 15. Besançon, C.G. 73, The Emperor to Simon Renard.
We have received your letters of the 12th instant, and learned what passed between the Queen, our good sister and cousin, and yourself concerning the marriage. It comes to the same as your conversation with my Lord Paget, and we have already dealt with that point and sent off the letters for the Queen and those members of her Privy Council mentioned to you by Paget, together with others with the addresses left blank. We suppose you have received these by now, though they must have been delayed, as we have heard, because the couriers were held up for a few days by bad weather at Calais. At any rate we thought we had better write you a line (deux mots) so that you should not be left in suspense, and that if you had not already presented the letters to the Queen and spoken to her as we instructed you to do in our second letters, you should do so at once. However, we believe you will already have done this, and also have taken such steps as her judgment may dictate. In persuading her, you will use the arguments set forth in ours of September 20th and in our last, as you shall see whether they will serve and as the course of conversation shall suggest. We shall be unable to give you more minute instructions until we hear the result of the negotiation you are now embarking upon, and see what we apparently are to look for; and as the matter is most important you will do us welcome service by making haste. We are deferring until another occasion, which shall be as soon as possible, our reply to yours of the 12th about the island of Sark and other matters of which the Queen has spoken to you.
Brussels, 15 October, 1553.
French. Signed, Charles; countersigned, Bave. The minute is at Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 21.
Printed by Weiss, Documents Inédits, Vol. IV.
Oct. 15. Besançon, C.G. 73. The Bishop of Arras to Simon Renard.
Besides that which, as you shall see, the Emperor has written to you, he has commanded me to write to you privately, without the knowledge of the Queen of Hungary and de Praet, to tell you that he wishes you to use all the arguments contained in the two letters until you see whether it will be possible to negotiate this matter for the Prince. If this proves impossible, and you see that there is any inclination towards Courtenay, make haste to let me hear of it without letting any other soul know, in order that we may act accordingly. You know that an ambassador is being sent from Portugal to England; the Portuguese ambassador here is making instance to obtain his Majesty's favour, and we are trying to temporise with him, so that one negotiation may not injure the other. And be careful not to say anything that might injure Courtenay; for if the Prince fails, there is perhaps no one else for whom the Emperor would care to do as much. But do not approach him in any way until, after your reports of your negotiations have been received, his Majesty informs you of his intentions and what course you are to follow.
Brussels, 15 October, 1553.
Signed. French. Printed by Weiss, Documents Inédits, Vol. IV.
Oct. 15. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 20. Simon Renard to the Emperor.
Sire: The Queen of England, after considering more maturely the proposal of alliance I made to her on the 10th instant, sent me next day one of her servants with a note in which she prayed me to furnish her with a written memorial of what I had said the day before, which might help her to reply to any difficulties or objections that might be raised by her Council. It seemed to me that she had good reason for making the demand, so I sent her the writing, a copy of which (fn. 6) is inclosed in this letter, and requested to be admitted to her presence, as I was at six of the evening. She then said to me that on the 13th my Lord Paget had spoken with her at great length on the question of marriage, going as far as to advise her not to look at it as merely a marriage, but as a solemn alliance which might be made to be of the greatest advantage to her kingdom and subjects. Let her consider the future and realise that if she married Courtenay or some poor Prince the country would not benefit by the match, but if she chose a puissant and exalted husband she and England would enjoy security and repose. The French alliance with Scotland and other of their projects boded ill, so it would be wise to forestall them by means of an alliance or treaty, and as your Majesty clearly showed that you bore her and her country much affection, Paget thought the treaties ought to be renewed and rendered more binding, and that a general defensive alliance ought to be negotiated in place of the present obligation to furnish 5,000 foot, (fn. 7) so that if a match could be arranged in that quarter, or with his Highness (i.e. Prince Philip), it would be better yet. He went on to hint in covert terms that Courtenay would not be suitable, and as the Queen judged by his manner that he was speaking sincerely, she replied that she had not desired matrimony, but as God had called her to the throne and she had sworn to serve her country's interests, she had made up her mind to marry and choose a husband who should be able to provide for her kingdom's welfare and tranquillity. If her Council had the same sentiments she believed that as her reign had begun well, so it might continue still better. She had entire trust in your Majesty, that you would always continue to show her the same goodwill of which you had given daily proof; but as for an alliance in that quarter, your Majesty did not feel inclined to marry, and his Highness was already married to the Infanta of Portugal. However, if he (Paget) and her other Councillors desired to choose that direction, God would certainly provide a suitable match.
As she had noticed that some of her Council were in favour of an alliance with his Highness, the Queen continued, she had now sent for me, principally to speak to me on the subject, and to ask whether your Majesty had made any mention, in your letters, of the treaty and conditions under which the alliance might be contracted, that she might see whether they would be advantageous to her kingdom now and in the future. Also, if it became an accomplished fact, and God were pleased to bless it with a son or daughter, what his or her heritage should be, and whether your Majesty would conclude a close and defensive confederation. I replied that she had doubtless understood from the memorial I had sent to her, and my own declarations, that your Majesty's intentions were sincere and whole-hearted where she was concerned, and that you had proposed the alliance with his Highness for the very reason Paget had in mind, because it was the most suitable for her, as your opinion was formed on the advantages to be looked for by the country at large, without entertaining any private consideration beyond such as was due to her position, magnanimity and virtue. Your Majesty's letters had not contained any reference to conditions, but I felt sure that when you heard her inclination, you would show yourself disposed to grant conditions and a partition so equitable and just, a confederation so sure and binding, that she and her Council would be satisfied, whether the posterity were to be a son or a daughter. At this point the Queen put in that she would not have Courtenay marry within the kingdom, and told me plainly that though well-conditioned he was no suitable match for her, for she had thought over the last article of my memorial, and when all was said it would not be honourable in her to choose one who was her vassal, subject and servant, for if she did so all she could look for from him would be his person, and the world would say she had wedded her vassal. I replied that, as for Courtenay, I believed her opinion to be right, and if God were pleased that her marriage to his Highness should take place I hoped your Majesty would find some match for him out of England, such as would content the people and herself. This would be all the easier, as I heard she intended to give him the dukedom of York, which with the earldom of Devonshire and what he had from his mother's side would make him an excellent match, especially as he was of royal blood and good birth, and his Highness would remember him and show him favour. At this she said that that would be one of the best ways possibly to be devised to give the English pleasure, and I added that his Highness would also behave towards the nobility in a manner that would give them satisfaction, by taking their sons into his service and affording them honourable employment, besides which he would have a special regard for all persons recommended to him by the Queen. She then took me by the hand and adjured me to tell her whether all I had said to her about his Highness was true: whether he was indeed of even temper, of balanced judgment and well-conditioned. I answered that if my word was enough I would pledge it in support of the assertion that he had qualities as virtuous as any prince in this world, whereat she pressed my hand and said “that is well,” without more comment, meaning, as I take it, that her affection moved her. Next she asked whether I was speaking for truth's sake, or was influenced by the feelings of a servant or subject, by love or fear, and I replied by begging her to take my honour and life as hostages that I might call and revere her as my princess, if she should not find I had said the truth. She then asked whether, before she had pronounced herself, it would be possible to see his Highness, and whether I knew if your Majesty had informed him that the alliance had been proposed. She had heard that he was soon to go to Flanders, and thought he might perhaps pass through England, either before or after she had said the last word but before the marriage had been celebrated, under colour of proceeding on his way to your Majesty.
I replied that I did not know for certain whether his Highness would pass through England unless it were on account of the marriage, or if it would be suitable that he should do so; but I would write to your Majesty and ascertain your intentions. His Highness, I went on, on hearing of her great virtues, had not waited for your Majesty to make the proposal, but had lately signified his own favourable inclination, so that if negotiations were speeded the marriage might soon be concluded. She asked if his Highness would embark at this season, and whether he did not fear the French, and I replied that—God be praised!—he had such a force at sea as should prevent the French from trying to stop his way, and that he would pay no attention to the time of year if once he heard that she was inclined to accept him. We then came to speak of the letters, couched in general terms, that your Majesty might write to her and her Council. She asked me when these letters would arrive, and remarked that I, in speaking with members of her Council, might well touch on the great boon a good alliance would be to the country, though without mentioning names. I told her that I looked for the letters shortly, and that if she felt inclined to accept his Highness, no one could better broach the matter to her Councillors than herself, to which she replied that I might set to work on my side and she would do what she thought wisest on hers, arming herself with the reasons and arguments I had given her in writing. The phrase in my memorial about a husband who would be of no aid to the country had put her in mind of her coronation oath, as a reminder of which she wore a ring on her finger, and as your Majesty had chosen me to open these matters to her, she would choose me for her spiritual confessor. M. de Courrières, she continued, had sent word to her by Scheyfve's secretary that, if she wished to send any secret verbal message to your Majesty, she might impart it to him and he would carry it in strict confidence. The secretary had uttered words that seemed to show him to be trying to find out from her whether I had been separately negotiating anything connected with marriage, but she had let him see nothing, and when she spoke to M. de Courrières she would only use general terms, remarking that there were several matters, Parliament in particular, that forbade her to think of matrimony. I have set down the above as plainly as possible in order to show how the question stands, and the existing grounds for hope of a successful issue. I will make further inquiries from time to time and inform your Majesty of the results.
When this talk was over, the Queen wished to discuss certain points of a writing I had sent her on the documents and sentences despatched hither to serve in support of the legitimacy of the marriage of the late King Henry and the Lady Catherine of good memory, his first wife and mother to the Queen. She told me that the Upper House of Parliament, composed of her councillors and the bishops, had resolved that it was meet to annul all acts and statutes passed since one year before the declaration of the divorce down to the present day, as well in order to vindicate the marriage, as tacitly to abolish the statutes contrary to religion and the authority of the apostolic see. The Lower House, however, that is the people's, objected on the ground that the object of such a measure would be to restore the authority of the Bishop of Rome, and to abandon the title of Supreme Head of the Church that had been incorporated with the Crown by Parliament. As for the marriage, Parliament would not make any difficulty about pronouncing it legitimate, not because of the Pope's sentences but on its own authority. The Queen did not yet know what course she would adopt. She certainly believed Parliament would ask her whether she would accept the title of Supreme Head or not, and her conscience would not permit her to do so, but besides the question of the Pope's authority she had good hope that all the other points touching religion would be handled as the honour of God and His holy service demanded. In answer to this I declared to her that, as for the marriage, when once the statutes, among which was the one concerning the marriage, had been repealed and annulled, it would remain true and legitimate, and it would be enough for Parliament to confirm it in general terms. She had better not trouble her mind about the Pope's authority, for he would tacitly confirm the dispensation without which the marriage could never have been contracted, and as this was a spiritual question Parliament had no power either to validate or invalidate, so all it had done and would do was equally null and void. As for the Pope's authority, about which Parliament would make difficulties, I did not think the time had yet come to bring it up. It would be better to wait for another Parliament, and in the meantime to establish the true religion. In case she were to have to reply to a question as to whether she would take the title of Supreme Head of the Church, I would give her in writing eight reasons that might aid her to frame a negative answer in a manner that I thought would not prove inacceptable to Parliament. I realise, Sire, that she will want me to play the part of a counsellor in matters theological, which I have never studied nor professed, and on obscure and knotty points that would require a better head than mine. However, as I see that people over here are no sharper than other folk, I am waxing bolder in my efforts to obey her orders for the sake of the main object; and when I have drawn up my eight reasons I will send your Majesty a copy.
The Queen tells me she wishes to banquet us as the Queen of Hungary banqueted my Lord Warden, so when MM. de Courrières, de Thoulouse and Scheyfve take their leave next Tuesday she will keep them to supper. The presence of these gentlemen keeps me from presenting the letters relative to the marriage which your Majesty has sent me, and which arrived while I was writing the above.
The Queen says she has as yet had no letters from Wotton, but that she will send them to me as soon as they arrive. Speaking of French affairs, they tell me that M. de Vendôme (fn. 8) has left Court in a bad temper because he was criticised for leaving the Picardy frontiers insufficiently provided and has gone off to his wife in Gascony; and also that M. de Montpensier (fn. 9) and the Prince de la Roche-sur-Yon (fn. 10) are dissatisfied. If this is true your Majesty might consider whether the opportunity might not be favourable for starting some negotiation with M. de Vendôme, for he and M. d'Albret (fn. 11) some time ago appeared to be not unwilling to listen to such a proposal.
I have heard that the King of France has left St. Quentin on his way to St. Germain, and that he was unwilling to go until he knew whether the Constable were really out of danger. When the physicians assured him that all was going well he departed; and the Constable was to go to Chantilly.
A few days ago the Venetian ambassador sent for Cabot, and begged him to say whether he had heard anything about a marriage between the Queen and his Highness, saying that if such a thing came to pass the King of France was lost, and Italy too, and sighing and behaving as if it mattered to him or the Venetians. Cabot replied that he had heard nothing of the sort, and believed it not, but the ambassador said he had heard the opposite. Your Majesty sees how they fear the alliance; and several of that ambassador's actions have proved to me that he is a good Frenchman, and serves Ambassador de Noailles as a spy.
I have heard from the ambassadors of the Stillyard, in particular from those from Lübeck and Danzig, that there is trouble brewing in Germany. The reconciliation between Margrave Albrecht and Duke Augustus (fn. 12) was brought about by the King of Denmark, father-in-law to the said Augustus, and the sea-board towns are amazed at it. The former Elector, John Frederick, is plotting against Augustus; and the German princes: the Dukes of Bavaria, Württemberg and Cleves, the Electors Palatine, of Mainz and other prelates are met together at Heilbronn to negotiate a league; indeed, the princes already have a league among themselves, to which they have refused to admit the Bishop of Cologne; but the King of Bohemia has entered it for suspicious reasons, and the King of the Romans will have difficulty in coming to an understanding with Dukes John Frederick and Augustus, Margrave Albrecht and the rest of the confederates. The ambassador of Lübeck told me that your Majesty ought to take care to obtain information about these leagues, for he believed they were harbouring dangerous and suspicious projects. As for the French, he said they did not stand well with the Germans, because they had been the originators of all the trouble, and now had no money, but he knew they still had men who were plotting for them in Germany.
My Lady of Cleves (i.e. Anne of Cleves) has spoken to the Queen about a marriage with the Archduke (Ferdinand), and Paget has had letters from the ambassador (fn. 13) sent to Hungary by the late Duke of Northumberland before the late King Edward's death, speaking of the same matter and saying that the King of the Romans is greatly desirous of seeing the marriage arranged.
After the above had been written, a servant of the French ambassador arrived, from whom it was heard that the Constable was extremely ill and that his life was despaired of. Also that troops were again being gathered together in Picardy, it was not known for what reason.
There is much murmuring over here to the effect that your Majesty has seized all the ships of the fleet come from Spain, because they brought money thence without your Majesty's leave, which they say will prove the ruin of several merchants who had a share in the undertaking.
London, 15 October, 1553.
Holograph. French.
Printed from a transcript at Brussels by Gachard, Voyages des Souverains des Pays-Bas, Appendix to Vol. IV.
Memorial sent by Simon Renard to Mary, and enclosed in the above letter
Taking it for granted that your Majesty is inclined to matrimony for the sake of the commonweal, and to have posterity that shall carry on the succession to the Crown in the true and direct royal line, it is debated what match might be chosen, either in England or abroad, as should be most suitable.
The principal consideration is your Majesty's inclination, for once that has been made known it is to be believed that your Council and all others who desire your prosperity and repose will adopt and conform to it, whether your choice falls on a foreigner or on a native of this kingdom.
Some difficulty might arise in connexion with a foreigner, because it is the nature of the English to hate and abhor strangers.
Item: Your subjects will fear that a foreign prince may wish to alter the laws, customs and adminstration of the land.
Item: The members of the Council will fear that a stranger may desire to introduce foreigners into that body and thus acquire authority.
Item: Certain private persons who enjoy your Majesty's confidence will fear to lose it.
In order to answer and dispose of these objections, it is necessary to consider the state of the realm of England and of your Majesty's own affairs. You have four certain and open enemies: the heretics and schismatics, the rebels and adherents of the Duke of Northumberland, the King of France and Scotland, and the Lady Elizabeth, who cease not and will not cease to trouble the kingdom's peace and threaten your position, as clearly appears from evident signs. They will watch for a propitious moment for carrying out their plans; and your Majesty must always bear these four adversaries in mind and guard against them.
Item: Your Majesty knows that the English are folk of changeable and contradictory temper, seekers after innovation and vindictive, be it because they are islanders and partake of the seafaring character or because their customs are corrupt, and that former kings have been obliged to do stern justice and spill blood by executing their subjects, even such as were of royal blood, in order to remain on the throne, and have therefore been called tyrants.
Item: Your Majesty will reflect that the English are said to hate foreigners because they are a thoughtless people and loathe foreign artisans; but they would not have the same feelings for a prince who would ask them to give their approval to his alliance with your Majesty, a union from which nothing could be looked for but public and private benefits, peace, repose and tranquillity of subjects, security for all good folk, safety for your Majesty and increase for the Crown of England. Such a prince would not wish to alter laws, but only to restore and defend the true liberties of the land, without interfering or allowing his servants to interfere with its administration unless with the consent and at the wish of your Majesty and the Council, and without binding the realm in any degree either for the present or the future, or allowing any foreigner to take place or office in the country. The Councillors, instead of having to fear for their private interests, would see their authority increase so long as they remained loyal to your Majesty. He would have to be a prince able and ready to give sufficient guarantees, and to bind himself by treaty to abide by his word; a prince of a friendly nation, in whom the country might put its trust.
It is well to remember that if the foreign prince were without credit and authority, and unlikely to prove of present and future value to the country, the people would be ill-satisfied with what they would consider a poor and discreditable alliance, would have no more regard for him than for their meanest fellow-countryman, and would say that he was only of use as a husband but of none to the state.
It would be desirable that the prince should maintain the nobility, should have means to enrich and advance your vassals, and by his example encourage them in the life proper to be led by a warlike nobility, and in the observance of good and honourable rules of conduct.
Item: The prince should be one with whom not only would the kingdom's defence be safe, but the Crown would be able to advance and follow up its just claims.
Item: It ought to be kept in mind that the one object of the alliance between Scotland and France, both of whom are old enemies of England, is to seek an opportunity of usurping this realm. Your Majesty has seen how the French sought to use the Duke of Northumberland to let them into England and exile your Majesty, trying all the scandalous means they could think of, as they are still doing in secret.
Item: Religion is a chief consideration with your Majesty; and the only way to further its cause is to choose a suitable match.
Item: Your Majesty might desire a husband of ripe age, which condition could hardly be found in any unmarried and eligible prince. Your Majesty will consider that it is better to choose one in middle rather than too advanced years in order to obtain posterity, which is your second object in marrying. Were you inclined to wish for a husband of fifty, you would not fail to remember that man declines and begins to be old after fifty, which age is reached by few, either because of intemperance or chronic indispositions. Were you to take an old husband your children would be left (fatherless) in their tender youth and might run the same dangers as the late King Edward, while if he were of middle age, about thirty, he could not be said to be young or old, and in that case there would be hope that the children would be grown and adult by the time their parents' declining years arrived.
Item: Your Majesty will pay no attention to any private accounts that may be given to you without carefully weighing the reasons that may move the speaker; for several persons will probably speak as their desires prompt them without any regard for your Majesty's interests and safety, or the general good of the country.
As there is no man in England eligible, your Majesty will judge whether it would be suitable for you to wed one of your own vassals who would have no credit, authority, power or resources, who has seen nothing and knows nothing of the world because he was brought up in servitude, who has never been out of England, of whom the realm could expect no advantage nor your Majesty hope that he would fulfil any of the hopes that may have been conceived of him. Such an alliance would be a mere marriage, and the Council might fear as much from it, nay more than from an alliance with a foreigner.
Copy. French. Printed by Weiss, Documents Inédits, Vol. IV, from a copy at Besançon (C.G. 73), dated 11 October.


  • 1. Imperial ambassador in Rome.
  • 2. See Spanish Calendar, Vol. X, pp. 273–278.
  • 3. i.e. Geoffrey Pole.
  • 4. i.e. Balduino del Monte, a brother of Pope Julius III.
  • 5. Here follow thirteen cipher-characters which I have failed to make out. I may suggest that the Venetian ambassador is referred to, for he was working against the Spanish match at the time.
  • 6. See the following paper.
  • 7. According to the treaty of closer alliance, the King of England and the Emperor were bound to send 5,000 foot and declare war against any prince who invaded either of the allies' territory with a force of a certain size. Edward VI had requested to be excused from fulfilling his treaty obligations in 1552. See Spanish Calendar, Vol. X.
  • 8. Antoine de Bourbon, husband of Jeanne d'Albret.
  • 9. Louis de Bourbon
  • 10. Charles de Bourbon.
  • 11. Henri d' Albret, titular King of Navarre.
  • 12. i.e. Augustus, Elector of Saxony. He was a younger brother of the recently deceased Maurice.
  • 13. i.e. John Shores, who received remuneration for his journey at the rate of 20s. a day, together with 124l. 16s. and 8d. for travelling expenses. See Acts of the Privy Council, 1552–1554, p. 368.