Spain: June 1553, 1-15

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

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.


'Spain: June 1553, 1-15', in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 11, 1553, ed. Royall Tyler( London, 1916), British History Online [accessed 20 July 2024].

'Spain: June 1553, 1-15', in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 11, 1553. Edited by Royall Tyler( London, 1916), British History Online, accessed July 20, 2024,

"Spain: June 1553, 1-15". Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 11, 1553. Ed. Royall Tyler(London, 1916), , British History Online. Web. 20 July 2024.

June 1553, 1–15

June 11. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 20. Jehan Scheyfve to the Emperor.
Sire: The King's indisposition is becoming graver and graver, in spite of current rumours to the effect that he is getting better day by day. The people do not believe the said rumours, as the King does not show himself, but no one dares to voice any comments, at least not openly. As for my Lords who were to have gone into the country, their departure seems to have been delayed, perhaps in order not to let it be seen that they desired to surround the Princess (Mary) and prevent those who might intend to rally round her. Possibly their going has only been put off for a brief season. All the Councillors down to the very secretaries are buying up armour and weapons; carpenters have been brought together from divers quarters and are already at work on the King's ships, to explain which it has been stated that they were in bad condition. Thus the Duke of Northumberland, who is planning a new Parliament to help him in the execution of his designs, is strengthening his position and taking all manner of measures. For these and other reasons some folk believe him to possess certain knowledge as to when the King is to expire, and that he has been guilty of harming his Majesty's person. Ever since he got rid of the Duke of Somerset-or even before that-he has been seeking to devise means of removing the King and aspiring to the Crown, for he knows that if the King were to come of age matters might change, especially as he is of a lively and inquiring mind, and had already begun to understand public affairs. Further food for suspicion is provided by all Northumberland's actions for some time past; for example, the favour he has shown France since the present war began, though from time to time he has sought to allay suspicions and please the nobility and people by appearing to abandon that policy. He created himself Duke of Northumberland, which is situated in the north on the Scottish border, in order to inspire fear in the Northcountrymen and be able to withdraw to that part in case of danger. He has got together a great quantity of provisions, and sold much church property, the proceeds of which sales are in his, or his dependents' hands, as also are almost all offices and the command of the strong places of the kingdom. He has shown the Princess kind treatment, but has arranged for an exchange of her lands and houses, particularly those that are situated near the sea. Divers gratifications that the Duke has granted the people of London, the newly-contracted marriages and alliances and certain other considerations point the same way. It is therefore to be feared, Sire, that the Duke may dissemble with the Princess until the King dies or is very near his end, when he may suddenly arrest the more important men among those who might take her side, throw them into the Tower and keep them there under colour of preventing any possibility of disturbances. He may then send a body of horse, secretly and by night, to the Princess, inform her of the King's death, and summon her to come to London for the Crown. He may urge the advisability of this course for the tranquillity of the realm, and conduct her to the Tower for the safety of her own person, as in truth has formerly been done with those who have succeeded to the Crown. Once he has her there, all the ports and passages may be closely guarded by the King's ships and men, in order to rob the said lady's partisans of all hope; and it may then be announced and published that she is not a proper person to succeed, by bringing up against her claim the declaration made by Act of Parliament in her father's reign and her more recent, disobedience towards the King, her brother, and his Council. It may be asserted that her accession would mean a violent change of policy and the total ruin of the kingdom, because of her religion, which she would immediately reintroduce, establishing popery once more with harsh and terrible measures. In addition to this, it may be advanced that she would render their liberty to certain powerful prisoners who are the enemies of the principal ministers, call home traitors and renegades, and deprive the gentry of property of which they are now in peaceful possession through the donation of the late King or his present Majesty. There are still other points which they may raise, as for example the inferiority of the female sex, which at this juncture serves their purpose. In the meantime they would keep a close watch on the Princess, and appoint their own men to guard her and then perhaps poison her (luy faire donner quelque bouccon). (fn. 1) Similar conduct might be used towards the Lady Elizabeth, though probably with more moderation in case they were to find themselves obliged to adopt a different attitude at some later time.
Some folk say the Duke of Northumberland might try to find means of getting rid of his present wife, and ally himself with the Princess, though this seems unlikely enough. Others think that no one would dare harm the Princess, because all men know her to be the second person in the realm and rightful heiress after the Bang's death, and out of fear of your Majesty; and that when it came to the touch even those who now are, or feign to be, of the Duke's party, would desert him. All the nobility, even the adherents of the new religion, would, say these men, rally round the Princess, for Northumberland is hated and loathed for a tyrant, whilst the said lady is loved throughout the land. It is thought that with her help Northumberland may be worsted, and all things return to their former state.
In any case, Sire, the Duke has formed some mighty plot against the Princess, and feels confident that he will prevail. If he does not make any attempt upon her person at first, he may well try to keep her out of the way for a time and then put the rest of his designs into execution. It is said that Mr. Courtenay, (fn. 2) of the blood royal, who has been a prisoner in the Tower since his father, the Marquis of Exeter's execution, has been put out of the way, or is about to be, in order to checkmate the plan of those who would like to marry him to the Princess. The Bishop of Canterbury is in favour once more, and has begun to attend the Council, of which Mr. (Sir John) Cheke, the King's school-master (maistre d'escolle) and a great heretic, has been made secretary in place of Dr. Petre, who is said to have demanded permission to retire. It thus looks as if Northumberland intended to employ the help of the new religion. From the church of St. Paul 20,000 ounces of plate, valued at 20,000 ducats, have been taken.
The three ships that are to go on a voyage of discovery are at present in Harwich harbour, towards the north, awaiting a favourable wind. Some people say they are not to sail at all and are there on another errand. The fitting-out of three of the King's ships is continuing at Portsmouth.
M. de Boisdauphin and M. de L'Aubespine have left, and three or four well-armed English ships have been sent to Dover to escort them. Since my last letters great demonstrations of friendship have been shown to these lords, and I have only heard that L'Aubespine came hither to visit the King, and had letters from his master to four or five of the foremost English ministers. In these letters the King of France spoke with grief of the King's illness, and offered his services to the lords, but in general terms. I have heard nothing about his negotiating with the Council, but only that he thanked the King for his kindness in sending his ambassadors to help the cause of peace, and held a long and secret conference with Northumberland. Information from a good source says that L'Aubespine, in his master's name, made offers of service, going as far as to say in so many words that the Duke's cause should also be the King's. Beyond doubt the King of France will do his best to enable Northumberland to carry out his designs, particularly with the object of preventing the Princess from coming to the throne; for he knows how important for him that point is, and thinks he may be enabled by the discord and disorder into which the kingdom will fall to seize it, advancing a claim with the pretext of Scotland, or some other excuse. Some people are of opinion that the King of France will go so far as to renounce, or pretend to renounce, his claims in the Duke's favour.
Mr. (Sir) Andrew Dudley, the Duke's brother, is to marry the daughter of the Earl of Cumberland, a north country lord. This lady's mother (fn. 3) was a sister of the present Duchess of Suffolk.
It is said that M. de Boisdauphin has shown the terms concerning Siena to the Council; and it seems that Captain Paulin (fn. 4) went to Constantinople to try to obtain the command of the Turkish fleet for Rustem Pasha, for the command had been given to Dragut, whom the King of France does not trust. They say the King of France is collecting a force to relieve Thérouanne, and that several great French lords are now at Montreuil, Hesdin and Amiens.
London, 11 June, 1553.
Signed. French. Cipher.
1553. June 12. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 20. Jehan Scheyfve to the Bishop of Arras.
My Lord: I will add to my letters to the Emperor, that M. de L'Aubespine is said to have told somebody that he did not believe that peace would be concluded, for the King, his master, had made up his mind to hold out this summer, his principal reason being the illness of his Imperial Majesty who, he thought, could not last long. As for the English ambassadors now in France, not a word is being said about them-as if they were not there at all. Those at his Majesty's Court are the subject of much talk, however, for it is said that they have not yet had audience, and that their business is being kept in suspense. Some say the ambassadors have proposed a cessation of hostilities. others that they have attempted to ascertain the points of dissension on both sides. I am told the Duke of Northumberland has news that the (English) ambassadors have tried their best to obtain audience of the Emperor, and that the Queen puts it off again and again, giving as a reason his Majesty's indisposition; but that it is believed the Emperor is dead, or not much better off, or that there has been some other accident, the nature of which remains unknown. The Duke appears to have spoken to this effect to the Council, for the rumour of his Majesty's death is still going the rounds. Widely varying accounts are also given of the King of England's condition, and his doctors dare reveal nothing. Only two of them are in attendance on his person; the other three, when they go to visit the King, examine his urine and excrements, but are not allowed to approach him. The King's ordinary attendants are unable to stir abroad, so that it is exceedingly difficult to obtain any information as to his state, especially as in these days mothers no longer trust their sons, and there is every appearance that the circle (of persons having access to the King) will be made still narrower. Up to the present there seems to be no sign of improvement, so the general conviction is that he cannot escape, and has been poisoned, as I intimated clearly enough in my last letters. By way of further confirmation, I may say that the King fell suddenly ill on the very same day on which the Princess (Mary) last came to town to visit him, and that the same ailment has continued to prey upon him ever since. This fact is all the more suspicious, because it seems the Duke and certain of his party used urgent and unwonted persuasions to induce the Lady Mary to come to visit the King. If she was in the King's presence before he felt unwell, it may come to pass that all the blame will be visited upon her; though she suspects nothing at present, perhaps because she receives no information. For the rest, my Lord, there is nothing more obvious than the Duke's plan. People are beginning to talk a great deal in secret, and it is said that he has been keeping the king-of-arms busy for some time past making ready his claim and descent. The wonderful thing is the devotion shown by the first men of the realm, even by some members of the Council, to the Princess and the Emperor. They put all their trust in his Majesty, and pray incessantly for his long life and prosperity, hoping, for religion's sake and other reasons, that he will assist the Princess and keep the King of France out of England. They affirm that his Majesty will never have a better chance, for by showing the Princess a little favour at the outset and espousing her cause, he will be able to avert many disasters and make sure of the kingdom's friendship, especially as the Duke is utterly loathed and suspected of having poisoned the King, and is only able to command obedience by terrorising the people. Great preparations are being made at the house of the Stillyard merchants here for the arrival of ambassadors from the Hanse towns, who are coming with brave show and a large company. It seems they intend to hold out for their old privileges or else look for another place (to trade in); perhaps his Majesty might be able to strike some profitable bargain with them.
My Lord Guilford Dudley, recently married to Suffolk's eldest, one of his brothers, the Admiral (fn. 5) and other lords and ladies, recently fell very ill after eating some salad at the Duke of Northumberland's, and are still suffering from the results. It seems the mistake was made by a cook, who plucked one leaf for another. As for my Lord Grey's son, who was to have married Suffolk's third daughter, no more is being said about him, and he may perchance be kept waiting.
Some people say that there has been a rising in Paris on account of a new tax imposed by the King.
The King has been very feeble for the last two days, and as time passes his danger becomes more imminent. He will not last long.
I once more implore your reverend Lordship to obtain my recall, for my man has now been three months in Flanders for that purpose.
London, 12 June, 1553.
Signed. Cipher. French.
June 13. Simancas, E. 505. The Emperor to Fernando Gonzaga. (fn. 6)
Convinced of the necessity of forming an army of 24,000 foot and 6,000 horse, for the defence of our dominions and to attack the King of France's, we ordered that one should be formed near our frontier. It is now stationed before Thérouanne, whence it will be ready to march whither need shall cause us to send it. Thérouanne is very strong, but by attacking it we may force the King of France to give battle and prevent him from doing damage elsewhere. Although the French say he is collecting forces to come to its relief, it seems he will not be able to have them ready before the end of this month, and meanwhile we shall see what we can do to reduce Thérouanne, in order to keep our army occupied.
English ambassadors have come hither to persuade us to make peace, and we have replied to them and to others (fn. 7) that we would not reject it were the conditions such as are required in order to make it truly effective.
The differences between Marquis Albert (of Brandenburg-Culmbach) and certain German prelates and their adherents will probably be disposed of by the meeting of various princes with our commissioners at Frankfort. In order to see to the final pacification of the Empire, we have convoked a Diet for August 16th next at Ulm or Augsburg. . . .
Copy. Spanish.
June 13. Brussels, E.A. 74. The Emperor to Jehan Scheyfve.
The Burgomaster and Council of Cologne have written to request us to write to you in favour of the sea-board (i.e. the Hanseatic) towns, and instruct you to assist the ambassadors those towns are sending to England to solicit for the re-establishment of the ancient privileges and liberties enjoyed of old in England by their inhabitants, for it seems that the English Council have recently introduced certain changes prejudicial to the said privileges. And as the men of Cologne and the other towns are our subjects of the Empire, to whom we owe favour and assistance when they require them of us in a righteous cause, we request and command you to recommend their ambassadors' petition to the King and Council, if it be found to be just. You will not fail to utter all persuasive arguments that may induce the King and Council to admit the ambassadors' suit, in order that the towns may understand that we are anxious to gratify them as far as in our power lies.
Brussels, 13 June, 1553.
Minute. French.
June 15. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 20. Jehan Scheyfve to the Emperor.
Sire: The King is never quite free from fever, but on the 11th of this month he was attacked by a violent hot fever, which lasted over 24 hours, and left him weak and still feverish, though not as much so as at first. On the 14th, the fever returned more violent than before, and the doctors gave up the King and decided that he could not recover, but that about the 25th of this month, at the time of the full moon, he must decline to a point at which his life would be in the gravest danger, nay that he might die before that time, because he is at present without the strength necessary to rid him of certain humours which, when he does succeed in ejecting them, give forth a stench. Since the 11th, he has been unable to keep anything in his stomach, so he lives entirely on restoratives and obtains hardly any repose. His legs are swelling, and he has to lie flat on his back, whereas he was up a good deal of the time (i.e. before the violent attack of the 11th). They say it is hardly to be believed how much the King has changed since the 11th. On the 13th and 14th, in addition to the Council, several of the foremost judges of the kingdom were summoned, apparently in order to draw up the King's will and interpret the laws and statutes touching the succession.
Meanwhile, Lord Rich, who was formerly Chancellor, the Lord Warden and other great lords and powerful men have been ordered to repair at once to Court, it is believed in order to deliberate and come to a conclusion on the same question of the succession. Their main object will be to make shift to exclude the Princess and the Lady Elizabeth, and declare the true heir to be the Duke of Suffolk's eldest daughter, who was lately married to the Duke of Northumberland's son, for according to the late King's will the Duchess of Suffolk's legitimate heirs are appointed to succeed if the present King and the two aforesaid ladies die without issue. The trouble is that if the Princess and Elizabeth are excluded, the King of France may claim a right to the Crown through Scotland, and the object of the present convocation would seem to be to make sure of the expediency of this plan, ascertain how the lords would be disposed towards it, and lay hands on those who might be dangerous. Some believe the difficulty alluded to (i.e. the possible intervention of the King of France) may cause the Duke of Northumberland to seize Elizabeth, get rid of the convocation, set aside the determination in favour of Suffolk (i.e. in favour of the Duchess of Suffolk's daughter), and then manage to marry Elizabeth to his son, the Earl of Warwick, or even put his own spouse out of the way and wed Elizabeth himself. While all this is doing, the realm might continue to be governed by the Council, whose goodwill might thus be secured, whilst the impression that Northumberland was aspiring to the Crown would be effaced. Or perhaps Northumberland and Suffolk might rule as governors or joint-protectors; and the main point seems to be to exclude the Princess.
The Duchess of Suffolk visited the King yesterday, and it is thought the Princess may also be summoned with the pretext of a visit to her brother, and that if she refuses to come they may deal with her as I wrote in my last, especially were they able to obtain the approval of some of the great nobles. No one is able to find out exactly what Northumberland is planning to do; and it seems he will be guided by events, though there is no doubt that he is aspiring to the Crown. His treatment has been broken off, for he seems determined to stay at Court until things have reached some settlement. Mr. (Sir) Andrew Dudley, his brother, has gone to the north as lieutenant and governor. Orders have been issued to all officers of justice to keep their arms in readiness.
London, 15 June, 1553.
Signed. Cipher. French.
June 15. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 20. Jehan Scheyfve to the Bishop of Arras.
I received your Lordship's letters of the 8th of this month on the 13th of the same; and I will conduct myself according to their contents. I have written news of the King's health in my letters to the Emperor and your Lordship of the 11th and 12th instant, but as he is now in an extremely critical condition, it seemed to me well to send further information to his Majesty by a special messenger. As far as I have been able to ascertain, the (English) ambassadors now in Flanders and these people (i.e., the Council) are well pleased with the negotiations that have taken place; but it seems to them rather strange that they were taken to see the Emperor immediately after negotiating with the Queen. William Thomas, the Council's messenger, who brought the despatch hither, let fall words to that effect. Some suspect that the Cardinal of Imola obtained audience first; they make capital out of this, and the Duke of Northumberland always has something to say. I hear that one of his party declared: “We have heard that the Emperor has come to life again and is gaining strength; but we wish he were safely in his grave.”
My Lady, the Princess, often sends to me for news of his Majesty's health. I have answered her as I informed you in my last letter; but she is still anxious to hear more detailed accounts, so it seems to me, subject to your reverend Lordship's correction, that it would not be amiss were his Majesty to write her a letter as soon as possible. This would give her great pleasure and contentment, and anything his Majesty cared to say to her would serve to persuade her that he has not forgotten her. The fruit would not be lost if at some future time the lady were to come to the throne; and my task would thereby be lightened.
London, 15 June, 1553.
I thank your reverend Lordship for the trouble you have taken in the matter of my recall, and I beg you to continue to be mindful of it.
Signed. Cipher. French.


  • 1. From the Italian boccone, a mouthful.
  • 2. Edward Courtenay, son of Henry, Marquis of Exeter and Earl of Devon, executed for treason in 1538. Courtenay, whose paternal grandmother was Catherine, younger daughter of Edward IV, thus had a claim to the Crown,
  • 3. Eleanor, daughter of Mary Tudor, daughter of Henry VII, and of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk.
  • 4. Paulin, Baron de la Garde, a French' naval commander and at times a diplomat. See Spanish Calendar, IX and X.
  • 5. Edward Fiennes, Lord Clinton.
  • 6. Fernando Gonzaga, uncle of Guglielmo, Duke of Mantua, was Governor of Milan.
  • 7. On April 3rd, the Emperor wrote to Prince Philip that both the Pope and the English were urging him to make peace.