Spain: July 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: July 1553, 11-15', in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 11, 1553, (London, 1916) pp. 80-90. British History Online [accessed 1 March 2024]

July 1553, 11–15

July 11. Besançon, Collection Granvelle, 73. The Emperor to his Ambassadors in England.
We have received your letters of the 7th instant, and learned of the arrival in England of MM. de Courrières, de Thoulouse and Councillor Kenard, of your demand for audience and of the news you received of the King's death, which up to the time of closing your letters was being kept secret. Although the English ambassadors who are here had audience of the Queen, our sister, this morning, they made no sign of knowing that the King's death had taken place, but spoke as if by his orders. It is true, however, that the expression on the Bishop's (fn. 1) face gave food for conjecture that he had received news not to his liking. We have also noted the warning you have secretly conveyed to the Princess, our cousin, not to allow herself to be deceived by those who may attempt to persuade her to make haste to proclaim herself queen; and this seems to us prudent, for the reasons advanced in your letters. If it is true that the King is dead, as you definitely assert at the end of your letter, after having expressed some doubt about it at the beginning, we see no other means of carrying out the instructions we gave you at greater length in writing, than to recite the substance of your charge to the Council if they give you audience. You will recommend our cousin to them, and rid them of the suspicion they may have entertained that we desire to wed her to a foreigner, so that the Duke of Northumberland may lay aside any hope he may have conceived of having a share in the Crown (i.e. of placing the Crown on the head of a person of his choice). You will endeavour by the means laid down in your instructions to win his confidence and remove from his and the Council's mind the doubts they may entertain of our cousin, fearing that she will introduce radical changes in government and religious matters; though in doing so you will be careful to follow the directions given in your instructions. If any difficulty is made about admitting you into his (i.e. Northumberland's) presence, you will adopt the plan suggested in your instructions in case you were to be kept back at Calais, and the passages had been closed before you had crossed over to England. That is, you will report our intentions to the Duke or to persons of his confidence. We suppose you have done so since writing your letters, and that you will have considered that, in the absence of a strong expedition, which you know us to be unable to send at present because our hands are full with France, there is no other way of safeguarding our cousin's person or working for the end we have in view. Not much trust may be placed in the devotion and affection certain private individuals and the people profess for her; for unless a number of the most powerful nobles took her side it would be impossible to countermine the carefully prepared course of action that Northumberland is working out with, as you suspect, the help of France. We do not yet know what feelings the people will display when the King's death is made public, and so for the present we are unable to add any more to the instructions we gave you, for you must be guided by the turn of events in your efforts to carry out our orders. If, after you have tried the above methods, you find it impossible to move the Duke or bring him over to our cousin's side, then you and she must endeavour to win over some of the chief men of the realm, perhaps by promising not to meddle with religion, and see whether you can manage to instill some fear into the Duke, and advance our cousin's cause. If the passages are closed, we well know that you will have great difficulty in sending us your letters; and if the English see you are anxious to do so they may wax still more suspicious. But as you are on the spot and will see what turn events take, it will be easier for you to devise a way of sending us letters than for us to arrange one from here. As soon as we receive your letters, we will do our best to find means to signify to you our intentions as to the information you send us.
What the English ambassadors here said was that their colleagues in France had understood that the French would be content to enter into negotiations for peace if we would place in their hands the kingdoms of Naples and Aragon, the duchy of Milan and the lordships of Flanders and Artois, and give the kingdom of Navarre to d'Albret. The very ambassadors uttered this with a cloudy countenance, declaring that the French were asking for much more than they knew to be just, but that they did it in order to say something, thinking it might pave the way for a conference. We, with good reason, answered that such demands showed quite clearly how little desire the French had to see the English meddle in the matter. If they wished to start discussing everything that had been decided by former treaties, there seemed little enough likelihood of finding a common ground for the present.
The sally of the Duke of Northumberland's son forth from London with so large a body of horse, together with your fears as to the nature of his errand, gives us great anxiety. It will be an acceptable service if you are soon able to send us further news of his expedition.
Brussels, 11 July, 1553.
You, Ambassador Scheyfve, wrote in your letters of the 4th instant that the King had declared our cousin, the Princess, a bastard in his will. It also seems that you wish to convey that he did the same for the Lady Elizabeth, but the passage is short and rather obscure, and we desire you to clear up this point in your next letters. We wish to know whether the Lady Elizabeth has also been declared a bastard by the will, and if not what pretext has been adopted to debar her from the succession and appoint the eldest daughter of Suffolk. At the same time you will give us more minute information on the following points. As Suffolk's eldest daughter has married a younger son of the Duke of Northumberland; how many more sons has the Duke, and are they well-thought of? Also, how many sisters has Suffolk's daughter? And you will send us what other details you may consider of importance.
Signed. French. Printed by Weiss, Documents Inédits, Vol. IV. The original minute is in Vienna (E. 21).
July 11. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 20. The Ambassadors in England to the Emperor.
Sire: The copy of the letter which was to have gone with our last to your Majesty remained by an oversight in the hands of the man who had done the translation. We are now sending the copy, together with the declaration of the Lady Mary's bastardy, mentioned in our last. This declaration has been printed.
By way of news received since our last letter, we have heard that the Lady Mary, in spite of the considerations we submitted to her, has caused herself to be proclaimed Queen in Norfolk, and is continuing to do so in the neighbouring districts, both verbally and by means of letters. She has also written letters to the Council, which they received yesterday, declaring herself Queen. We have been told that when the letters arrived the Council were at table, and were greatly astonished and troubled. The Duchesses of Suffolk and Northumberland, it is said, began to lament and weep, whereat the Council commanded my Lord Grey to go and bring in the Lady Mary. He is to start to-morrow, with a good number of horse.
The Venetian ambassador told M. Scheyfve that the Council had been informed that the Lady Mary had twelve or fifteen people to support her. We believe he said this in order to get something out of M. Scheyfve and report his words to the Duke of Northumberland or the French ambassador.
On the day of the entry of Suffolk's daughter, the Lady Mary sent us one of her men, by whom she answered us not a word about the considerations we had laid before her, although our emissary had reached her, but only informed us of the proclamation she had had made, requesting us to send a messenger to her to receive some information relative to her affairs. But as the passages are closed and it would be difficult to reach her, and also in order to avoid suspicion, we have excused ourselves, telling her that we have sent your Majesty a full report of all that has happened, and are awaiting your Majesty's decision to communicate it to her and shape our own course accordingly. We conjecture that she is still anxious to know whether your Majesty will assist her, for in that case she would be able to count on the support of many Englishmen who would not move otherwise. Several persons in this town of London have been amazed that no protestation had been entered against the proclamation and state entry (of the Lady Jane), and no demonstration in support of the Lady Mary's right. However, for the reasons contained in our last, we have taken no notice of these occurrences, and are awaiting your Majesty's orders. We fear that, before we receive your Majesty's letters, the Lady Mary may have been seized and subjected to evil treatment, if the news that are coming in from all quarters are true, as it seems they are.
The Council have made no further sign as to the audience we had asked for.
The Duke of Suffolk's daughter, who has been accepted as Queen, is at the Tower with her ladies and Council; and it is said she will not move thence nor have herself crowned for a fortnight or more.
London, 11 July, 1553.
Signed by all four ambassadors. French. Cipher. Printed by Weiss, Documents Inédits, Vol. IV, from a copy at Besançon (Collection Oranvelle, 73).
July 12. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 20. The Ambassadors in England to the Emperor.
To-day my Lord Cobham (fn. 2) and Councillor Mason came to us at our lodging on behalf of the Council of the new Queen. They went over the death of the late King Edward, his testamentary disposition of the Crown and appointment of his successor, and the new Queen's reception. The Lady Mary, they then said, wished to oppose this settlement, and the Council had that very day sent a gentleman to your Majesty to inform you of what had occurred. We must consider that our embassy had come to an end, for they well knew what offices were permitted to ambassadors, and the laws of England were very strict on the subject. The Council did not intend that we should assist the Lady Mary or communicate with her to give her advice and support. Our charge and persons were public, and if we were to give cause for suspicion we might incur danger, and this would grieve them. The Council were going to send the Duke of Northumberland and other personages to the Lady Mary, not to offer any violence to her person if she gave them no reason to do so, but only to restore peace and order where they had been troubled. Their conclusion was that we must by no means hold communication with my Lady, and they threatened us with their barbarous laws in case we should give any ground for suspicion.
We replied that we were very sorry to hear that the King's death had given rise to disturbances, and that we had been unable to execute the charge with which your Majesty had been pleased to send us to him. We were sure it would have given great pleasure to all concerned to have heard our charge, for besides witnessing to the cordial affection that existed between the King and your Majesty, our instructions tended to draw closer still the bonds of amity. Although the death occurred on the 6th of the present month, it was kept hidden from us by the Council, who were to have granted us audience of the King.
Subsequently, the Council had caused the death to be reported to us, and held out hopes of audience, though since then we had heard nothing more. We could but believe that had the Council heard our charge they would not have entertained suspicions that your Majesty was acting in an unfriendly manner, for you had always shunned tortuous and shady transactions and proceeded in an open and sincere fashion in all your doings. Had they listened to us, the Council might not perhaps have lent so favourable an ear to French proposals, nor allowed private ambition and greed to outweigh the general welfare and interests of the kingdom, nor have forgotten the ancient friendship which your Majesty had always observed in the past, as you intended to observe it in the future. They told us, we continued, that our mission was at an end; but they had no need to instruct us on that point, for your Majesty had not chosen us among persons entirely ignorant of the powers and privileges of ambassadors.
In order that they might understand how grave an error they had committed in publishing certain writings and proclamations, and by other actions, we would tell them what your Majesty had ordered us to declare to them, which might be grouped under five heads. First, we were to visit the King and assure him of your Majesty's more than paternal affection for him and his kingdom. Secondly, we were to thank him and his Council for their solicitude for the general peace of Christendom and the persuasions they had addressed to your Majesty to make terms with the King of France. We were to report how matters stood at present and what your Majesty had replied to the English ambassadors, assuring them of your intention to agree to all proposals likely to contribute to the welfare of Christendom. God might perhaps have pity on his people and crown the conference they were striving to bring about with success; and your Majesty had taken their persuasions and my Lord (i.e. Sir Andrew) Dudley's declarations in very good part, believing that they were not feigned, but the sincere expression of affectionate interest. Thirdly, we were to report your Majesty's victories, for you believed these news would be welcome. Fourthly, we were to recommend to the King and his Council the Lady Mary, your cousin german, and inform them that news from France had warned you that the French, according to their wont, were carrying on intrigues for the purpose of stirring up trouble in England and discord between that kingdom and your Majesty. Their object was to seek to gain a foothold in England for their own ends and to the advantage of the Queen of Scotland and that of her affianced spouse, the Dauphin of France. We were to urge them to remember the past, consider the present and forecast the future, and rather to welcome the advances of their old friends than seek new alliances by reconciling themselves with those who had always been their enemies and only desired the destruction of their kingdom. As your Majesty had not been informed that the King's illness was dangerous, you had not instructed us to say anything to the Council about the Lady Mary's rights; and far from advising her, we had neither written to her nor sent her any message. It appeared from a certain proclamation that the Council suspected that the lady would desire to make alterations in the settlement of religion, marry a foreigner and change the customs and usages of the kingdom. Now your Majesty had expressly instructed us, in case the King were to die, to recommend her to them and urge them to protect and shelter her by caring for the government and administration of the kingdom, to marry her within the country and obtain assurances that she would make no alterations as to religion and customs. Thus your Majesty was very far from desiring anything contrary to the country's interests. When your Majesty should learn that the Lady Mary had been proclaimed a bastard, and hear the objections that had been trumped up against her claims and the violence that was publicly said to be intended against her person, you would have grave reasons for suspecting that French intrigues had prevailed, or at least that certain persons had been led by their private interests unduly to incline in that direction. In good truth it was very strange to hear such a declaration of bastardy when one remembered the earlier declaration, the testamentary disposition of the late King Henry, the bare truth of the matter, that the lady was being debarred of her rights unheard and for no reason, and that rights that had been recognised as belonging to her had thus been snatched away to gain the crown for the Queen of Scotland, under colour of conferring it upon the Duke of Suffolk's daughter. As for ourselves, we had no charge to say any more than the above, nor to perform any offices except such as might tend to strengthen the goodly and lasting friendship between the two countries. Upon our honour, we did not know what the Lady Mary could have done in support of her right and to prevent the accession of the new Queen, who, as they told us, had been accepted as such. Fifthly, your Majesty had commanded us, in return for the declaration made by my Lord (i.e. Sir Andrew) Dudley, to make similar offers and assure them of your good will and desire to remain in perpetual peace, observe all treaties and conventions and keep up relations of sincere friendship. We sought to efface all contrary impressions that might have been received by begging them to report our words to the Council, and said that as they had told us our commission had expired, and suspected us without cause, we must request them to supply us with an escort that we might return to your Majesty. We also asked them to tell us whether they meant that the ordinary commission (i.e. Scheyfve's) had also expired, and whether their declaration extended to that. We assured them that we well understood what they meant when they had spoken of danger, and why they said it.
When Cobham and Mason had heard our speech, they were so much astonished and confused that they said they had made a mistake in asserting our commission to have expired. They knew not what to answer us, but sat staring at one another. At length they begged us not to depart yet, and said they would report our words to the Council, and that all we had said was profitable and praiseworthy. So they left us in suspense, waiting to see what they would say or do.
We then decided that, if audience were given to us, we would go over the same ground in such manner as should appear suitable and opportune, dwelling especially on the present state of the kingdom, without either speaking in favour of the Lady Mary's right, or doing anything that might be held to be in contradiction to it or to amount to a recognition of the new Queen or her Council. We will take our stand on the instructions we received when King Edward was still alive, and will leave nothing undone that may help to defeat French intrigues and the machinations of private individuals in the kingdom who are aspiring to the Crown.
We have heard to-day, Sire, that the Lady Mary is at a seaport called Harwich, in Norfolk. (fn. 3) She is supported by several lords and gentlemen of that district, and has a number of troops ready, and some in the field. Her forces are said to amount to 15,000 (fn. 4) men, and many persons favour her and will do so openly if need be. Her people have already defeated 60 horse and 300 foot that my Lord Robert, son of the Duke of Northumberland, had under him, on which occasion he escaped with difficulty. Although it had been decided yesterday to send the Duke of Suffolk and my Lord Grey to bring in the Lady Mary, the Council appear to have changed their mind and settled that the Duke of Northumberland, the Earl of Huntingdon and the Marquis of Northampton shall go towards my Lady with 600 or 700 horse. The Council and the Duke himself are astonished and at a loss, fearing that this rising may be supported by your Majesty, especially as your camp is so near. Therefore, Sire, they are placing artillery in the lords' houses in this place, all the horses and carts in town were seized yesterday for artillery transport, and we are informed that my Lord (i.e. Sir Henry) Dudley is leaving to-morrow for France, which we suppose is being done to put the Duke's plans into execution and obtain help from that quarter. (fn. 5) We hear that if Lord Dacre were to declare for my Lady her forces, which we believe to be feeble unless your Majesty intervenes, would be doubled in numbers. There is talk to the effect that it would be well to send to Dunkirk and neighbouring ports and have warships sent over to Harwich, in order to make an effort to save my Lady in case her forces were to give out. But as that must depend upon your Majesty's decision, we only mention it in order that you may consider what is for the best. It seems to us that there are many people in the realm who love the Lady Mary and hate the Duke and his children, and would gladly help her if they could. If she has strength enough to hold out until reinforcements arrive there is reason to hope she may be able to come to the throne.
As the Council have so openly declared to us that our commission has expired and have threatened us, we propose to ask for a safe-conduct to depart, unless they grant us audience to-day, or give us some answer, leaving here M. Scheyfve, ambassador in ordinary, unless your Majesty sends us other orders.
After the above had been written, the Council sent us a secretary to tell us that to-morrow, at three in the afternoon, the Council, or persons who shall represent them, will be in a house belonging to the Earl of Pembroke and give us audience there. They excused themselves for the delay on the grounds of the suddenness of the King's death; and the secretary began his speech with recommendations from the new Queen. We paid no attention to these, but said we could but take the excuses in good part, and would wait upon the late King Edward's Council to recite the charge with which we had been sent to the said King and his Council. We will do this without expressing approval of any such recommendations as above, and will inform your Majesty of what happens.
The drum is being beaten here to raise troops, and they are to have a month's pay in advance. We have been told that the Lady Mary has retreated to a place near King's Lynn in Norfolk, called Hymeghen, (fn. 6) distant some three miles from the sea.
Your Majesty will be pleased to consider the threatening expressions used to us by the Council, wherefore it would be well to keep a close watch on the English ambassadors and gentlemen at your Court. Your Majesty will reflect that things here are in a state of turmoil and war against the Lady Mary.
London, 12 July, 1553.
Signed by all four ambassadors. Cipher. French. Printed by Weiss in his Documents Inédits, Vol. IV, from a fragmentary copy at Besançon (Collection Granvelle, 73).
July 14. Vienna, Imp. Arch. E. 20. The Ambassadors in England to the Emperor.
Sire: On the 13th instant my Lord Privy Seal, the Earls of Arundel, Shrewsbury and Pembroke, my Lord Cobham, (Sir John) Mason and Dr. Petre, who were members of the late King of England's Council, sent a gentleman to inform us that they were waiting to give us audience, as had been agreed. We immediately waited upon them, and rehearsed the five points we had exposed to Cobham and Mason. We laid particular emphasis on the fourth, which is set out in full in our last letters to your Majesty, the object of which was to ensure the Lady Mary's safety, defeat French intrigues, dispel any suspicions they might have harboured of your Majesty or your ministers; and we propounded the suggestions contained in our instructions as to the Lady Mary's marriage, with a view to dissuading them from the hostile and unneighbourly frame of mind into which private ambitions might have led them. We wish the Duke of Northumberland had been present so that we might have fulfilled your Majesty's orders where he was concerned; but he had departed the same day with the Duke of Suffolk and other personages named in our last, at the head of a large force, to go towards the Lady Mary. Unless their countenances belied them, the Council were pleased with our discourse, because of the statement of your Majesty's affection for England; and they answered that they intended to reciprocate and act as good neighbours should, and that they would report our words to the other lords of the Council so that a reply might be given to us. When we, for the reasons already written to your Majesty, announced our departure to them, they begged us not to go until the reply had been made, and told us they were sending to your Majesty a gentleman (fn. 7) who should come to us to see whether we had any orders for him. We answered that we would wait as long as they wished, and until their reply should be ready. As soon as we have received it we will report to your Majesty.
We have received to-day the letters your Majesty was pleased to send us on the 11th instant. It seems to us that we have obeyed the orders therein contained, except that we have not spoken to the Duke of Northumberland; but we think, Sire, that an audience with him would have been useless because the new Queen has already been received and the Duke is up in arms against the Lady Mary, We believe that my Lady will be in his hands in four days' time unless she has a sufficient force to resist; and we may inform your Majesty that the Duke is raising men wherever he can and is strong on land and by sea, so, as far as we can see, none of the people who are secretly attached to the Lady Mary can or dare declare for her or rise unless they hear that she is being supported by your Majesty. We have received no confirmation of the news that made out many people to be assisting my Lady, as we wrote to your Majesty. On the contrary, she sent us a man to-day with the copy of letters which the Council had sent in reply to hers, and the man was instructed to tell us verbally that she saw destruction hanging over her unless she received help from your Majesty and ourselves. When we questioned this messenger as to her company, he told us she had 500 or 600 men with her, that she was departing for Framlingham, and that there were a number of gentlemen with her, though for what purpose he knew not. We therefore believe she is weak. As for her preferment to the Crown, it is far from realisation at present unless your Majesty succour her. We fear these folk's intentions are evil, in spite of the recommendations we uttered, backed up by all the arguments we were able to devise. We cannot believe these recommendations will be of any avail because the Duke's ambition is leading him to seize the throne and hold it at his disposal in the person of his son.
As for his son, Robert, who was said, as we wrote to your Majesty, to have been defeated with his men, we have had no confirmation of this report. It is no longer circulated, and we are inclined to disbelieve it, partly because of the tone of my Lady's message, and partly because her man said, in reply to our question on the subject, that he knew nothing about it and had heard nothing said.
As for the Earl of Warwick's expedition, about which your Majesty was in anxiety, there was a mistake in the name given; for it was my Lord Robert, the Duke's second son, who went, and he has achieved no result as yet.
Before we had audience, two couriers whom we had sent to your Majesty were arrested at Dover. But after the audience the Council straightway wrote that they should be allowed to depart, and asked our pardon for the arrest, which had been operated without their knowledge.
Unless we have some further reason for sojourning here, Sire, and if your Majesty has no other orders to give us, my Lord Cobham's and Mason's declaration appears to us to show that our presence can be of no profit, for every time the Council send to us they only speak in the name of the new Queen.
It had been decided to disarm all the foreigners in this town, but the decision has not yet been put into execution.
London, 14 July, 1553.
Signed by all four ambassadors. Cipher. French. Printed by Weiss, Documents Inédits, Vol. IV, from a fragmentary copy at Besançon (Collection Granvelle, 73).
July 15. Simancas, E. 1321. Advices from a Spy in France.
The present courier, who is returning in haste to Italy, (fn. 8) will only give me time to write a few words; but it will be enough if your lordship learns the most important news. The King of England died on the 7th, and the wife of the son of the man who was formerly governor (i.e. Northumberland) was suddenly elevated to the throne, and took possession of London Tower with great pomp. The Emperor's cousin retreated to some place in England. The said governor's son followed her with 300 horse; and it is thought he will arrest her if he can. The said governor has written post haste to the King here, and if there is trouble in England I am sure the King will not fail to help him with all his forces, both from here and from Scotland. Within two days' time he is going to send M. de Gyé (fn. 9) and the Bishop of Orleans (fn. 10) to encourage the said governor, and offer him all the help he may need. There is some hope that this sudden change may give rise to an alteration for good in religious matters. God grant it may be so! The Emperor's camp is round about Hesdin; the King of France's is still being formed, and the Constable is leaving this place in two days for Amiens to hold a general muster of cavalry and infantry. As soon at the Switzers, who are already said to be in Burgundy, arrive, the Constable will march towards Hesdin, which he will try to relieve without fighting. A battle may well be the result; God grant it may be for the best! May your lordship be pleased to send the enclosure to the masters, and accept my services.
Compiègne, 15 July, 1553.
Copy. Italian.


  • 1. Dr. Thirlby, Bishop of Norwich.
  • 2. i.e. George Brooke, Lord Cobham.
  • 3. Harwich, needless to say, is in Essex.
  • 4. This is probably a slip for 1,500.
  • 5. According to Noailles' letters to the King of France, he first made offers of help against Mary on July 7th. On July 12th he tried to see Northumberland in order to persuade him to send the Imperial ambassadors baok to Flanders. (Mémoires, II, 52, 53, 60.)
  • 6. Hymeghen appears to represent an attempt at rendering Framlingham, though that place is very far from King's Lynn, and much more than three miles from the sea.
  • 7. Sir Richard Shelley was the gentleman selected by the Council for this mission.
  • 8. Italian spies in France naturally found it easier to send news to the Imperial Court via Italy when there was war between France and the Empire.
  • 9. M. de Gyé had been French ambassador in England in 1551 and 1552. See Vol. X.
  • 10. Jehan de Morvillier, Bishop of Orleans.