Spain: February 1553

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

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'Spain: February 1553', in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 11, 1553, (London, 1916) pp. 6-14. British History Online [accessed 18 April 2024]

February 1553

Feb. 3. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 20. Jehan Scheyfve to the Emperor.
Sire: I have received the duplicate copy of your Majesty's letters to the Queen (Dowager of Hungary) concerning Mr. (Sir Andrew) Dudley's embassy. Since the arrival of the letters, yesterday, MM. Hoby and Mason presented themselves to me, and declared that the King, their master, held me to be sufficiently enlightened as to the causes that had moved him to send the said ambassador expressly to your Majesty, with a desire to reconcile two great princes and restore peace and tranquillity to Christendom, whence the world in general would derive great benefit; and they hoped your Majesty had taken the said offices in good part.
I replied that the King might hold himself assured that the said ambassador's visit had proved very agreeable to your Majesty, and the same applied to the said offices, and to all others proceeding from the King. Your Majesty had praised his devotion to the said universal good. As to the question of peace, I surmised that your Majesty had given a reply that caused satisfaction to the King and my lords of the Council. They declared themselves to be very well pleased with the reception accorded by your Majesty to their ambassadors, and your affirmation and demonstrations of affection to the King, but as to the question of peace, your Majesty did not appear to be resolved upon it as yet. I replied that I expected their ambassador now to be at Brussels waiting for your decision. They repeated that your Majesty would probably come to a contrary decision at Brussels, without giving them another hearing.
They proceeded to speak of peace, saying it would be a great deed for anyone to accomplish, with other words to the same purpose, as if intent on discovering your Majesty's real inclination, and whether I had any ulterior charge. I praised the fruits of peace in general terms and condemned the evils and harm that followed upon war; I added that your Majesty had always notoriously striven to preserve the universal peace, and I dwelt particularly on the manner chosen by the King of France to break it in the present case and the efforts made by your Majesty to obviate and parry the consequences. If one weighed and considered your Majesty's conduct and actions in the past, it became clear and manifest that you must be either warlike or peace-abiding, as circumstances required. They made no reply, except that your Majesty was well-known to be a virtuous sovereign, able to plan and effect your designs, and after a few more unimportant words they departed. If my surmises are correct, I believe, Sire, that unless your Majesty discover yourself more, the King will recall his envoy without entering into the details of whatever answer the King of France may have made to Ambassador Sidney. The purport of it is kept very secret here, but by what I have been able to discover it appears that he put on a brave face and made a show of not caring much for peace. Nevertheless, he is credited with desiring it, if it can be brought about with advantage to himself.
London, 3 February, 1553.
Signed. Cipher. French.
Feb. 12. Brussels, E.A. 106. Cornille Scepperus to the Queen Dowager.
(Postscript of a letter on the preparation for departure of the merchant fleet for Spain and Portugal.)
May it please your Majesty to write to the King of England so that he may command his officers to treat your Majesty's subjects sailing with the fleet, when it arrives in any English harbour or port, in a manner befitting friends and allies. I hope such orders will be unnecessary, and that the fleet will not dally about anywhere in England. Nevertheless, such offices can only be timely, whether made in writing or verbally to the King of England's ambassadors who are now, as I am informed, at your Majesty's Court.
Veere, 12 February, 1553.
French. Holograph.
Feb. 13. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 21. The Emperor to Edward VI. (fn. 1)
We commend ourself to you most affectionately.
Dudley, Knight of your Order and one of the Gentlemen of your Bed-chamber, has delivered your letters to us, and we have right willingly heard that which you have charged him to say to us on your behalf. We can but praise highly your prudence, and the zeal and affection you feel for the public good, with your consideration thereof. We need not set out again here that which our past actions have proved, namely, that our own inclinations are to the same end, and that our efforts have uniformly tended towards its fulfilment. We need not enlarge on our resentment for having been compelled to enter into this war, nor on the good offices undertaken by us to avoid it, because of our knowledge of the evils that ordinarily ensue. As you know, war was made on us without challenge or warning of any sort, and in spite of all our efforts to avoid it; and having no knowledge of the answer you may have received from the other side, we feel there is no reason for us to dwell on the matter further, as we replied to the said Dudley, and he will doubtless inform you. Nevertheless, we desire to thank you lovingly for your goodwill towards the public welfare and our own private good, as well as for the visit paid to us by the said Dudley on your behalf. We assure you that your goodwill and affection are well deserved by us, who have always held you and now hold you not merely as our good brother, but love you as a son, as you have had reason to know during your minority. We will endure in this disposition towards you unto the end, and will correspond always to your perfect and sincere affection.
Brussels, 13 February, 1553.
Minute. French.
Feb. 13. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 21. The Emperor to Jehan Scheyfve.
We have received your letters of the 3rd of this month and seen copies of what you have written to the Queen, our sister. We are very grateful to you for the dutiful manner in which you perform your office, and we recommend you to continue, and to be ever watchful to discover the trend of affairs over in that country, probing events as deep as possible, so as to inform us accurately and diligently from time to time. We have heard from your letters that he whom the English sent on an embassy to France (fn. 2) had returned, and as (Sir Andrew) Dudley and Morison, their ordinary ambassador, had determined to come hither from Luxembourg, with the ostensible intention of speaking with us, we presumed they would mention the return of the aforesaid (Sidney) acting on instructions received from England. But they have made no mention of it, rather conveying by their manner that they ignored it themselves. As we had nothing more to say to him (sic), all that occurred during the last audience we granted him yesterday was that he took leave of us with gracious words, and we corresponded to them on our side. You made a suitable reply to what was said to you respecting the said Dudley's mission, in accordance with the written instructions you had received. You will continue to observe the same demeanour if aught more be said to you hereafter.
Brussels, 13 February, 1553.
Minute. French.
Feb. 17. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 20. Jehan Scheyfve to the Emperor.
Sire: The Princess (fn. 3) of England was more honourably received and entertained with greater magnificence on the occasion of her recent visit to the King (his Majesty having several times asked the Princess to come to Court) than ever before during the present King's reign. Lord Warwick, Master of the Horse and son of the Duke of Northumberland, went out some way from the town to meet her, accompanied by Mr. Sidney, the Deputy-Governor of Calais, (fn. 4) and several other gentlemen of the King's Household, making a company of 100 horse in all. On the very evening of the arrival of the said Princess in this town the King was attacked by a fever caused by a chill he had caught, and was so ill that the Lady Mary could not see him for three days. When she went to Court, the Duke of Northumberland and the members of the Council went to receive her even to the outer gate of the palace, and did duty and obeisance to her as if she had been Queen of England. She afterwards proceeded to the King's presence, and he received her in his bedchamber, to which he is still confined. The King received her very kindly and graciously, and entertained her with small talk, making no mention of matters of religion. When she withdrew she was again accompanied by several gentlemen and ladies, and notably by the Duchesses of Suffolk (fn. 5) and Northumberland.
I had observed that the Venetian ambassador (fn. 6) here resident had recently held unusually frequent interviews with the Duke of Northumberland, and closer intercourse than usual with the French ambassador; so I did my utmost to ascertain what his business with them might be. As far as I have been able to make out, it would appear that the Venetian ambassador was charged to further a marriage between the eldest son of the Duke of Ferrara, (fn. 7) who is at present in France, and the said Princess. The Council are said to have replied, when the proposal was laid before them, that they would give their assistance and would forward the suit with the King and with the Lady Mary herself. As she found herself in this town I took the opportunity to touch upon the matter in conversation, mentioning the fact that a rumour had gone abroad; and the said lady showed great astonishment and declared it seemed very strange to her that anyone should have concerned himself with her, especially on such a business, because she had so little inclination to marriage. She assured me that neither the King nor his Council had mentioned the matter to her, or any other proposal of marriage. I replied that they might yet do so; and she said that if any mention of it were made to her, she would make some gracious excuse and delay the matter until your Majesty could let her know what her ulterior reply was to be in case they pressed her. She beseeches your Majesty to declare your wishes to her on this and similar contingencies, as she desires to do nothing except by your Majesty's counsel and instructions.
London, 17 February, 1553.
Signed. Cipher. French.
Feb. 17. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 20. Jehan Scheyfve to the Bishop of Arras. (fn. 8)
My Lord: This letter will accompany my packet to the Emperor, and I know not what news to add, except that the King of England is still confined to his chamber, and seems to be sensitive to the slightest indisposition or change, partly at any rate because his right shoulder is lower than his left and he suffers a good deal when the fever is upon him, especially from a difficulty in drawing his breath, which is due to the compression of the organs on the right side. It is an important matter for consideration, especially as the illness is increasing from day to day, and the doctors have now openly declared to the Council, for their own discharge of responsibility, that the King's life is threatened, and if any serious malady were to supervene he would not be able to hold out long against it. Some make light of the imperfection, saying that the depression in the right shoulder is hereditary in the house of Seymour, and that the late Duke of Somerset had his good share of it among the rest. But he only suffered inconvenience as far as it affected his appearance, and his shoulder never troubled him in any other way. It is said that about a year ago the King overstrained himself while hunting, and that the defect was increased. No good will he ever do with the lance. I opine that this is a visitation and sign from God.
London, 17 February, 1553.
Signed. Cipher. French.
Feb. 21. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 20. Jehan Scheyfve to the Emperor.
Sire: I received your Majesty's letters of the 13th through (Sir Andrew) Dudley, who arrived in this town on the 18th of the month and had audience of the King and my lords of the Council the following day, and came to see me the same afternoon. I congratulated him on his return, and he told me how he had left your Majesty at Brussels in good health, and that the King, his master, had rejoiced to hear it because of the singular affection he bore you. He declared that your Majesty had done him great honour, and bestowed a present on him. I replied that your Majesty no doubt also rejoiced to hear that the King had recovered from the illness which afflicted him recently; and as to the reception he had met with it was such as your Majesty usually accorded to the ministers of the King, whom you so greatly loved. He declared that he had perceived most clearly that your Majesty indeed loved the King, his master. I assured him such was the truth, and that your Majesty had always held him as his son, and proved it in the past, in contrast to the course adopted by certain others. As we had entertained one another at some length with these professions of mutual love, true and binding friendship so needful to the common good and safety of both countries, and never a word had he said about the letter from your Majesty to the King, or his negotiation, I made bold at last to question him if he had accomplished his mission to your Majesty. He replied that he had made his report to the King and my lords of the Council on what your Majesty had declared to him, and did not enlarge beyond this, which he did, in my opinion, rather to safeguard his reputation than for any other reason. Therefore I thought it well to say no more at the time and let the matter drop there. I will take the first opportunity to discover as far as possible how your Majesty's reply and determination may have affected them and what interpretation they may have placed upon it. I can assure your Majesty that the Court and the town are full of the honours and welcome given to the said Dudley, and that all seem pleased about it, especially at the good understanding between their (sic) Majesties; and some go so far as to say that under colour of the said embassy a closer alliance may be about to be negotiated. The matter has given some umbrage to the French ambassador. To sum up, Sire, and reverting to the question of friendships, Dudley said to me that the friendship with France would never prove to be a real one, that the English had never thought much of the French, and he believed that if your Majesty wished to employ Englishmen, you would get a good number together. I replied that they had proved their zeal in your Majesty's service, and after a few more words of no importance. Sire, he took his leave.
London, 21 February, 1553.
Signed. Cipher. French.
Feb. 21. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 20. Jehan Scheyfve to the Bishop of Arras.
My Lord: I received the Emperor's letters together with those from your reverend Lordship, from (Sir Andrew) Dudley's own hand. We exchanged a certain amount of conversation, as you will see from my letters to the Emperor. I will now add that Dudley expressed great surprise at finding his Majesty so strong and well after he had been so ill at Luxembourg. I replied that his Majesty was over-tired from his journey as well as troubled with the gout, which is in itself sufficiently trying. He affirmed that it was so indeed; but that it appeared that his Majesty when afflicted with the gout suffered from melancholia as well. I made answer that illness usually produced depression of spirits, and rendered the sufferer inclined to pensiveness; I knew no other reason why his Majesty should be afflicted with melancholia, and I hoped God would grant him grace. He merely rejoined that he hoped the same, but that his Majesty was mortal, and that his death would be a great evil for Christendom. I replied that we were all mortal, old and young alike, but the appointed hour was in God's keeping and would strike when God ordained. For the rest, as the King of France's plans for troubling the peace had been so apparent to all, and he had shown his indifference to the good of Christendom, it behoved all Christian princes to take up arms against him. He answered that the King of France had certainly dealt strangely with his Imperial Majesty during this last war.
With regard to the news brought back from France, one hears nothing further: everything seems to have been left in general terms, as I wrote recently. As to the affairs of this kingdom, my Lord, and the rest, I will not neglect to ascertain all I can; while I find less and less ground for the matter of the North German loan. (fn. 9)
I thank your Lordship most humbly for your good offer, which springs from your own virtue, graciousness and thoughtfulness rather than from any merit of mine. I am more than obliged to you on several counts. Pray rely on me as one of your true and faithful, if unworthiest, servitors.
My Lord, I hear that Ambassador Morison (fn. 10) is shortly to be recalled, and that a new one will be sent when the Emperor leaves; but I cannot ascertain who he may be.
London, 21 February, 1553.
Holograph, mostly cipher. French.
Feb. 21. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 20. Advices sent by Jehan Scheyfve.
It is believed that the new Parliament about to assemble in March will pass a bill declaring the King to have arrived at his full majority and giving him his full powers, and absolute authority. If this really occurs, the matter must have great import, and perhaps be intended to give the Duke of Northumberland greater facility and scope to execute his designs in safety.
It is also believed that the King will apply to Parliament to grant him a very large subsidy, on the grounds of the great cost of the past wars with France and Scotland, and a memorandum of the costs will be submitted to Parliament. The question of the coinage will also be brought up, and the causes that might determine a fresh war lightly touched upon. By these means the King may free himself from debt once and for all and put something by for future needs, if any arise.
My observations and diligent enquiries lead me to the conclusion that their intention is to do their utmost to gather together such large sums as they may, and await the outcome of the present war (i.e., between France and the Emperor), remaining strictly neutral and gaining as much as they possibly can by their attitude, whereby the kingdom of England will be more feared and the English will make their profit. The advantages they will reap will quietly be put to practical uses, as opportunity offers, and the foreign traders ousted by indirect means from the English market, by making it impossible for them to trade here; and in this way they who govern the country will acquire popular favour.
The Earl of Westmoreland, (fn. 11) from the north, has been created a councillor, and the Earl of Arundel (fn. 12) too. The Earl of Pembroke (fn. 13) who since the King's progress had remained in Wales, has now arrived in London with a brave company of 300 to 400 horse. I am assured that there is no good intelligence between him and the Duke of Northumberland, but the times are not ripe yet, though some would say otherwise. Besides which, the said Northumberland's position is too strong.
It is reported that the King of France has recently ordered fourteen or fifteen warships to go with all speed to Le Havre; some of them are big vessels, and part are said to be already manned and equipped. They are supposed to be meant partly to occasion delays to the Flemish fleet (i.e., the merchant fleet bound for Spain and Portugal) and the rest for the fleet expected from Biscay. Others opine that the vessels will make their course towards Scotland, and convey the infantry and horse from the said country.
Information gathered from a reliable source says that the plans are now changed, and instead of the foot soldiers the King of France will take a thousand Scottish horse, (fn. 14) and that a herald was sent from Scotland to ask permission from the English to take them through England, but the Council excused themselves, and the herald is supposed to have crossed to France.
It is said here that the King of France is making great preparations for war and levying men in Gascony, Normandy, Picardy, and elsewhere. M. de Vendôme (fn. 15) is reported to be about to march to Artois. The King (of France) is doing his utmost to collect money, and is levying great and extraordinary exactions from lay and clergy alike, but he does not seem to have any means of raising a loan in Lyons. He is exacting forced loans from his merchant subjects and others who have money, and has asked for a large sum for his assistance from the people of Paris. It is expected that the King of France will find enough money to keep him during the coming summer. Some are firmly convinced that the Duke of Ferrara and the Venetians will support him openly. There is talk here of some marriages expected to take place, to wit, those of the Duke of Lorraine (fn. 16) and a son of the Duke of Ferrara with the Princesses of France; and the marriage of the Duke Orazio, (fn. 17) with the King of France's bastard daughter (fn. 18) is reported to have been celebrated recently in Paris, the King being present in person.
M. de Noailles, (fn. 19) the King of France's vice-chamberlain, has been appointed resident ambassador at the English Court; the one here now is about to withdraw.
French, Cipher. Enclosed in preceding letter of the same date.


  • 1. This and the following letter are dated 1552, O.S.
  • 2. Sir Henry Sidney.
  • 3. Mary daughter of Henry VIII. afterwards Queen. According to Machyn, sue arrived in London on February 6th, and saw the King on the 10th.
  • 4. Lord William Howard.
  • 5. Frances, daughter of the late Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, and wife of Henry Grey, created Duke of Suffolk in 1551.
  • 6. Giacomo Soranzo.
  • 7. This Duke of Ferrara was Ercole II d'Este, and his eldest son, Prince Alfonso, who married Lucrezia de' Medici, daughter of Cosimo, Duke of Florence, on May 29th, 1558.
  • 8. Antoine Perrenot de Granvelle, son of the Chancellor Nicolas Perrenot de Granvelle, who died in 1550.
  • 9. See p. 4.
  • 10. Sir Richard Morison (Morysine), English ambassador with the Emperor.
  • 11. Henry Neville, 5th Earl of Westmoreland.
  • 12. Henry Fitzalan, Earl of Arundel.
  • 13. William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke.
  • 14. The number of troops is given earlier as 3,000 foot and 1,000 horse.
  • 15. Antoine de Bourbon, Duc de Vendôme, husband of Jeanne d'Albret.
  • 16. Charles II of Lorraine, who afterwards married Claude de France.
  • 17. Orazio Farnese, Duke of Castro, son of Pierluigi Farnese and grandson of Pope Paul III.
  • 18. Diane de France, daughter of Henry II and Philippa Duci. The wedding was celebrated with great splendour and rejoicing, on February 14th. The contract relating to “the future marriage” between the two children was signed in June 1547. Six years later the King of France renounced all the demands he had then made.
  • 19. Antoine de Noailles was appointed to reside as ambassador in England on December 23rd, 1552. See the Abbé de Vertot's Mémoires de MM. de Noailles.