Spain: December 1553, 16-20

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

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, 'Spain: December 1553, 16-20', in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 11, 1553, (London, 1916) pp. 439-446. British History Online [accessed 26 May 2024].

. "Spain: December 1553, 16-20", in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 11, 1553, (London, 1916) 439-446. British History Online, accessed May 26, 2024,

. "Spain: December 1553, 16-20", Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 11, 1553, (London, 1916). 439-446. British History Online. Web. 26 May 2024,

December 1553, 16–20

Dec. 16. Simancas, E. 1321. Francisco de Vargas to the Emperor.
It has been said and written from many quarters to the Seignory that your Majesty is marrying his Highness to the Queen of England. This matter is being very much discussed here, many people are disturbed about it, and the French, who feel it particularly, are said to be trying to induce the Seignory to take up a bad attitude about it, though I do not think they will succeed, but rather that the Seignory will go on as before. Nonetheless, the fact that (his Highness) is going to become so powerful cannot fail to prove unpalatable to many, and I am told that one of the King of France's confident agents here, in secret conversation with one of the men who govern this state, asked how the republic could suffer such a thing to be. All parties, he said, ought to combine to put a stop to it, and the King had an understanding with several persons in England, particularly with that relative (fn. 1) of Cardinal Pole who was recently said to be about to marry the Queen. A conspiracy had been started against her and his Highness, and its authors would not stick at poison or anything else that might serve. Cardinal Pole would doubtless pass on to England, and if he had been there earlier all this would not have happened. I thought it my duty to inform your Majesty of these sayings, though I myself can do nothing, as I have received no orders and am uncertain as to your Majesty's intentions. I feel sure that you will not omit to instruct me to satisfy the Seignory in due time, and until then I will content myself with conversing with those who ask me questions, as I believe your Majesty's service demands of me.
Venice, 16 December, 1553.
Spanish. Cipher. Signed.
Dec. 17. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 20. Simon Renard to the Emperor.
Sire: The Queen sent for me to-day to go and speak with her at three o'clock in the afternoon, and intimated that she henceforward intended to communicate with me openly, and that her Council was of the same opinion, as she now held the alliance and marriage to be concluded. At the appointed hour I went to Court, and she told me that she had for some days past been ill of melancholy caused by the rumours that were going the rounds among her subjects. Several people had warned her that attacks, verbal and written, were being made against the Spaniards and the alliance in terms that rang with revolt. The very ladies of her chamber, alarmed by the talk they had heard from certain gentlemen, had spoken to her in such a tone of fear that she had fallen a prey to melancholy and sadness to the point of illness. She had also heard from Wotton tidings that confirmed what I wrote to your Majesty about French naval preparations, and that the King of France could not put up with this alliance. Moreover, every day that passed was revealing signs of a rebellious spirit in the country against the Acts of Parliament on religion; and what was worse, her own Council were at variance about the alliance, wherefore, what with one thing and another, there was plenty to be disturbed about, in spite of which she would be so constant as to prefer to die rather than marry another man than his Highness. That very day, she said, she had sent for the Council to come to her chamber, declared all the foregoing to them, and said she trusted them to do their duty; they must not give way to faction or weaken in their devotion to her, upon which the honour and welfare of the realm depended, and she, for her part, would do her utmost to support and help them. They replied with one voice that they would do their duty and die at her feet to serve her; even if the alliance failed to come to pass they could never have any other opinion than that it ought to be concluded, and they intended to push it through against all opposition, and would take the requisite measures for doing so. This answer had somewhat consoled her, and she wished to inform me that the English men-of-war were being fitted out, that precautions were being taken to put the strong places towards Scotland and in Ireland in a proper state of defence, and that a ship laden with munitions and artillery had run great danger from storms on her way to Ireland, but all the artillery had been saved. Several Englishmen believed that a marriage between Courtenay and the Lady Elizabeth would do much to please the nobility, because it had been said that it was intended to marry Elizabeth to the Duke of Savoy, and consequently abroad, which caused suspicion that foreigners would evermore be trying to get the government of England into their hands. Since her departure, the Lady Elizabeth had written to the Queen to borrow a litter, which she lacked where she was, ten miles from London, and to ask for ornaments for her chapel: copes, chasubles, chalices, crosses, patens and other similar objects. The Queen had ordered all these things to be sent to her, as it was for God's service and Elizabeth wished to bear witness to the religion she had declared she meant to follow. For her part, she would like to have your Majesty's opinion, and asked if I had written to you on the subject and had a reply; she had promised Courtenay not to speak to him about that marriage or force him to accept it, and she would not wish to do such a thing, but as she understood from certain members of her Council that he would consent if she desired it, she had not wished to say anything before hearing your Majesty's opinion. I replied that I did not think it right that she should fall a prey to melancholy on account of the above warnings, and as the Council had accepted the responsibility of taking precautions I trusted that they would do their duty. Some days past I had informed them of a number of facts of the same description, and I believed that your Majesty would see to it that the French should not be able to undertake so much at the same time and face so many enemies at once. I had sent your Majesty a full statement of the question of a marriage between the Lady Elizabeth and Courtenay, and had as yet had no reply, though I expected one to arrive at any moment. Quite recently I had been told in confidence that if that marriage took place the entire nobility and people of England would accept the alliance with his Highness; and it was urged that in that case Elizabeth would be no stronger than she was now, and might help in the cause of religion, whereas if driven to despair she might intrigue with and lend an ear to the French. If the Queen had children by his Highness, Elizabeth would cease to matter, but everything might be arranged as long as she would remain in the true religion. The question of the succession lay chiefly with Parliament, and the Queen would not be able to go on governing after her death; the best claim was the Queen of Scotland's, and it would be very difficult to keep the heretics from rising if the marriage (between Elizabeth and Courtenay) did not take place. Still, I was obliged to view these remarks with some suspicion, for I did not know the real inclinations of the gentleman who made them to me, and realised that he might have been put up to it by Elizabeth, or might have done so merely in order to ascertain my own opinion. Be that as it may, I must not refrain from repeating to your Majesty that a section of the nobility and people is excited about the alliance, and I hear every day that my Lord Thomas Grey and his brother, Lord John, brothers of the Duke of Suffolk, the Earl of Worcester, my Lord Fealtre, (fn. 2) Somerset, (fn. 3) the former Admiral (fn. 4), a relative of Courtenay, the late Duke of Northumberland's son-in-law and several others mentioned to me by Pelham, are conspiring to prevent his Highness from landing, though the only argument they have left against the alliance is that the Spanish will wish to govern, for they have heard the articles, which have been proclaimed in general terms by the Council. However, as there is unanimity in the Council as to this point, I trust the conspiracy may be checkmated, especially if the Queen surrounds herself with a guard of 3,000 or 4,000 men, as I believe she will do if there is any more talk of disaffection.
The Queen also told me that Cardinal Pole's servants were pressing for a reply to his letters, and that he expressed himself dissatisfied, in another written on the 2nd instant, with his stay at Dillingen; wherefore she prayed your Majesty to suffer him to come as far as Brussels, and asked me whether I had any news that he was on the way. I replied that I had heard that your Majesty had commanded him to draw nearer, but had heard it through a letter received by the Cardinal's servants, not from your Majesty, though as soon as I had news I would communicate them to her.
She also repeated what she had said to Paget about her decision not to marry during Lent. If his Highness could not be here by Septuagesima she wished your Majesty to ask for a dispensation on the question of consanguinity and also to enable her to be betrothed in a season when betrothals did not take place; but that in Lent she would not be married. She is leaving for Richmond on Tuesday, where she will await your Majesty's ambassadors. Their lodgings are ready both here and at Richmond.
I am told that the French are fitting out twenty-four warships, four of which are already off the English coast; and spies say that the King of France means to strain every nerve to hold the Channel against his Highness. Others say that he intends to use the ships to transport his troops to Scotland; but I have it from a good source that the Regent of Scotland is doing his utmost to make the Scots hate the French and keep them out of the country, for he fears they may wrest the government from his grasp and rule themselves. I hear that M. d' Oisel intends to cross over from Boulogne to Rye in six days, taking with him an old maistre d'hostel of the King of France, who is said to be a good captain, as well as other captains, four of whom are already in this town, one of them having been recognised to be M. de Charbonnier de Querry. If the French wish to make a hostile move from Scotland, it is said they will be unable to do so before the month of June, because there is snow on the mountains and the grass will not have grown till then in the pastures.
I have heard that M. d'Albret has deprived M. de Vendôme (fn. 5) of his post in the Government of Guienne, that Bordeaux, Narbonne and the frontier stations are being fortified and regarrisoned, that it is true that the drum is being beaten in Provence, Gascony and all over France, and that the King is at Fontainebleau raising money by means of loans and impositions on all the towns of his realm.
An Easterling tells me that the King of France is intriguing in Germany with the Duke of Württemberg (fn. 6) by means of the Duke of Cleves, and that the King has had a messenger with the Duke of Cleves for the past month. Also that a Frenchman has informed him that the Abbot of San Saluto, (fn. 7) who has been with Cardinal Pole, writes that the Cardinal's devotion to your Majesty has been greatly decreased by his stay at Dillingen.
The Queen desires your Majesty to send over one or two of his Highness' maistres d'hostel before his arrival, so that they may make all necessary arrangements in concert with the English.
London, 17 December, 1553.
Signed. Cipher. French. Printed by Gachard from a transcript at Brussels, Voyages des Souverains des Pays-Bas, Appendix to Vol. IV.
Dec. 17. Vienna, Imp. Arch. S. 4. Licenciate Games to the King of the Romans.
Count d' Egmont left this place yesterday, not before, and he was kept back by the Emperor, who I believe was waiting for all things in England to be settled for his arrival. He is taking many gentlemen with him, and the Countess, his mother, has richly supplied him with jewels for his person, money and a sideboard of many pieces of gold plate.
Brussels, 17 December, 1553.
Signed. Spanish.
Dec. 18. Simancas, E. 505. The Queen Dowager to Garcia de Escalante, Captain of the Eight Ships that are to go to Spain.
Whereas the Emperor is sending to England certain ambassadors on a mission of importance, and we are warned that there are French warships in the Channel between Calais and Dover, we have endeavoured to have some fitted out here in haste to protect the crossing, but it seems that some delay could not be avoided and that our ships would be too late, as the ambassadors are already on their way. The ships that are to go to Spain, however, are well-supplied with artillery, cannon-ball, powder and men, and we, having obtained his Majesty's opinion, order you on his and our behalf at once to leave the place where this letter may reach you and proceed with the ships, which Eraso says are ready to set sail, to the English Channel, a little beyond Dover in the direction of Spain. There you shall wait to escort the ambassadors, and you shall on no account leave those waters until you know that they have crossed over in safety, as they will do in a very few days, after which you may continue on your journey. If need be, you will issue similar orders to the admiral, seamen and passengers who are on board the ships; and when you arrive in Spain you will report to the Serene Prince, for we believe he will have need of some of the ships, and you will see that they are kept in readiness until his decision be known.
Brussels, 18 December, 1553.
Copy. Spanish.
Dec. 20. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 20. Simon Renard to the Emperor.
Sire: The nobility and people have now understood that the Council are unanimous in their support of the alliance with my Lord the Prince. The Earl of Derby has withdrawn from his connection with Walgrave and Courtenay; my Lord Dacre is standing firm for the Queen; the Earls of Pembroke, Shrewsbury and Arundel, all men of great position, and several others have assured the Queen of their goodwill and fidelity. The context of the treaty has been made known, and has revealed to all the great advantages the realm will derive from the alliance, and that if the Queen of Scotland married a Dauphin, the Queen of England, having no one of her station at home, might well choose a foreign Prince, powerful enough to brave the open menaces of the French and Scots against England. And thus the discontent and ill-humour, about which so much has been heard, are now considerably diminished, and the French and heretics are no longer able to find so many partisans for their intrigues, especially now that there is talk of marrying Courtenay to the Lady Elizabeth, and it is known that the Queen has sent Elizabeth furniture for a chapel, and litters, and made all kind and courteous offers to her. The Duke of Suffolk is also pleased. The Queen has held her own against the Master of the Horse (fn. 8) and Walgrave, telling them that she would allow no one in her Council or important posts in her household who opposed her will in so important a matter, thus affording others a bad example, and warning them that if they abused her goodness and clemency she would be forced to display her authority, disinclined to do so as she was. Thus many folk have changed their minds; some out of fear, others out of hope, others won over by reason, others out of hypocrisy and others out of a desire to please. No harm has been done by letting it be seen that the ships are to be put in order, and by sending my Lord Dacre to the Scottish Border with the title of Warden and an ample power to raise troops. The captains and officers of the sea-ports have been warned to be on the watch; and the Queen has caused it to be known that she means to be armed. Many persons have been arrested for talking against the proceedings of the Council, and it has been proclaimed that the Queen is preparing to suppress all attempts at disorderliness. I consequently hope that his Highness may enter the realm in safety, though the Spaniards who come with him must put up with and refuse to notice the truculence of the English at the outset, getting on as best they can. I believe that the French will become so audacious that the English will make up their minds to improve the opportunity and go to war with them. I am writing all these details in order that your Majesty may see how fast things change here, especially in view of what I said in my last two letters. And your Majesty will realise that in dealing with so inconstant a people as the English it is better to make sure of everything rather than be taken by surprise out of excess of confidence.
The Controller, who used to favour Courtenay with Walgrave and the others, came to see me at my house twice in three days to complain to me that the Queen did not speak to him of her affairs as familiarly as she once used, and now communicated them to Paget or Petre instead. Several of his friends had wondered what could be the cause of the Queen's changed attitude towards him and Walgrave. Speaking for himself, he said he had served the Queen long and faithfully, and he could do more in her service in every way than those whom she now trusted. He had been ever devoted to your Majesty; and had he known of the affection of the Queen for his Highness (Prince Philip), he would not merely have promoted and supported his suit, but prevented the Parliament and Walgrave from coming forward as much as they had done in the matter. He requested me to tell him if the Queen had said anything to me about him, or if I had any doubts as to his being otherwise than devoted to your Majesty. If I entertained any such doubts, they were groundless. Rumours of discontent had reached him, but he was eager to prove his duty and devotion to the Queen, and he wished to set his hand to promote this business. He would tell me, in confidence, that many regretted to see that Paget had the Queen's ear.
I replied that I had always heard that the Queen's feelings for him were those of a good sovereign and mistress, and she acknowledged his devotion whenever she spoke of him. As to Paget's interposition, I had heard that he was a capable and energetic man; but the Queen had other Councillors, and I could not believe that she took any steps without their having a share in her counsels. I requested him to continue to do his best according to his promise, and his Highness would keep him in favourable remembrance. I had three reasons for saying this: first, because he and his kinsman, Walgrave, are jealous of Paget; because he is afraid that the Queen may change her good opinion of Walgrave, and that he may not be in his Highness's good graces; and because he is an old and tried servitor. I do my best to encourage him and the others in their good disposition.
The Acts and Statutes of Parliament concerning religion were published last Monday, and they are to be put into effect on the 21st of this month. The placards have been torn down in in several places, and certain heretics assembled in the church of St. Matthew to discuss the said articles. Some ten or twelve of them were seized and two hanged; and there seem to be no signs of protest, such as were feared, in this town. No news have come in as yet from the country.
I sent a Frenchman with certain Flemings on a vessel to sail the seas for adventure and discover the preparations made by the French, besides those I wrote about to your Majesty, which news were trustworthy. They are arming as fast as they can, as we hear from Rouen and Brest. The report of the twenty-four ships has been confirmed.
The Queen went yesterday to Richmond, and before her departure I announced to her the coming of the ambassadors and the date of their probable arrival at Calais, according to the letters written by your Majesty on the 15th of this month. I repeated the announcement to the Chancellor and Petre, declaring that your Majesty had accepted the articles revised by them, and I requested them to tell me the nature of the comments made on the coming of the ambassadors. They replied that such discontent as. there was sprang from among the people and heretics; but as the nobility had given their word, there was no reason for paying much attention to it, especially as they (the Council) would do what was necessary to restore quiet. During the coming holidays they were going to conduct no other affairs except the marriage, and consider which officers and gentlemen should be chosen for the service of his Highness, all of them Catholics and worthy of trust.
I did not speak to them about the marriage per verba de prœsenti, as it is best to have that matter discussed when the ambassadors arrive. Your Majesty need have no doubts as to the willingness of the Queen, as she has even lately repeated obliging messages to me, though sent through a third person; and I shall not fail to do my duty in every possible way.
As for the Lady Elizabeth, the Queen will temporise and dissemble with her as much as possible, without entering into communications regarding the marriage with Courtenay, unless the Council and the nobility were to bring it forward. The Lady Elizabeth makes a show of her great satisfaction with the Queen; nevertheless, some have been set to watch what takes place in her house.
The Queen insists in her request that your Majesty obtain a dispensation from the Pope for the marriage after Septuagesima.
Cardinal Pole has had it published that he wishes to go back to Rome, because your Majesty has not permitted him to approach you. The Queen was perturbed on hearing this report, as it might seem to the Pope and Consistory that she was not willing to promote the return of her kingdom to its obedience to the Pope. She has again asked me if your Majesty would not allow him (the Cardinal) to go to Brussels, and I replied that I thought you would.
Henceforward the Queen will not be styled Supreme Head of the Church in despatches; the title will be replaced by an etcetera, and the difficulty thus obviated.
The Cardinal's messengers gave the Queen a certain bull granting indulgences in return for prayers to God for peace and righteous inspiration in matters of religion for the people of this kingdom. They have not dared to publish it.
London, 20 December, 1553.
French. Signed. Passages in cipher. A Spanish translation of the first paragraph exists in Simancas (E. 807).
Printed by Gachard from a transcript at Brussels, Voyages des Souverains des Pays-Bas, Appendix to Vol. IV.


  • 1. i.e. Courtena
  • 2. This seems to be Thomas Radcliffe, Lord Fitzwalter. 4 few months later, when it is known that Fitzwalter was sent to Flanders, Renard spells his name in much the same way.
  • 3. Possibly Sir George Somerset, who was in Edward VI's service (Acts of the Privy Council, 1562–1664, p. 54).
  • 4. i.e. Edward Fiennes de Clinton, Lord Clinton, Lord High Admiral 1560–1553.
  • 5. Henri d'Albret, titular King of Navarre, was father-in-law to Antoine de Bourbon, Due de Vendôme, who had married Jeanne d'Albret. Henry IV was born of this marriage.
  • 6. Christopher, Duke of Wurttemberg.
  • 7. Vincenzo Parpaglia, a Piedmontese.
  • 8. Sir Edward Hastings, afterwards Lord Hastings of Loughborough.