Spain: April 1554, 21-30

Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 12, 1554. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1949.

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'Spain: April 1554, 21-30', in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 12, 1554, (London, 1949) pp. 220-230. British History Online [accessed 5 March 2024]

April 1554, 21–30

April 22. Brussels, B.A. Prov. 13. Simon Renard to the Emperor.
Sire: Since I last wrote, quarrels, jealousy and ill-will have increased among the Councillors, becoming so public that several of them, out of spite, no longer attend the meetings. What one does, another undoes; that one advises, another opposes; one strives to save Courtenay, another Elizabeth; and such is the confusion that one can only expect the upshot to be arms and tumult. Thus is the Queen of England treated by those who ought to be her most trusty servants. The Chancellor, the Controller, Walgrave, Inglefield, Southwell, the Chamberlain, the Vice-Chamberlain and Secretary Bourne have taken one side; the Earls of Arundel, Pembroke and Sussex, the Master of the Horse, Paget, Petre, Cornwallis and the Admiral the other. It had been hoped that the reduction of the Council's numbers to six would be permanent, but the Chancellor and his supporters began to grumble, saying that they upheld the Queen in her royal right and deserved to be of the Council as well as the others, for they were Catholics and the others for the most part heretics; and they have dinned this into the Queen's ears until she has taken a dislike to Paget and Petre. On this, Paget and his party have openly combined in Parliament to fight certain bills on religion, introduced without their knowledge and providing for the punishment of heretics; and now they are proposing a measure of their own to prevent the confiscation of property belonging to a man convicted of high treason, which the convicted party has left by will to his son. And whereas a bill was brought before Parliament to make it high treason to plot against his Highness's life when in England or take up arms against him, the Lords have refused to pass the second clause, making it a treasonable offence to take up arms against his Highness.
The Chancellor, on the other hand, has proposed the restitution of the Bishop of Durham's usurped property, and succeeded in carrying it by a majority against the will of the heretics, who are raising such a clamour that I fully expect disorders so serious as to damage the Queen's popularity and even endanger her person. In spite of which the Chancellor had agreed with her only to propose two measures: one about the marriage and the other granting the suppression of the title of Supreme Head of the Church; in exchange for which the possessors of Church property were to be confirmed therein, by the consent of the Pope, with the object of making a religious reformation easier to be achieved. About six days ago a rebel named Throckmorton (fn. 1) was brought to trial and acquitted by a packed jury of twelve, heretics to a man, notwithstanding the fact that he ought to have been condemned. When he was brought back to the Tower after sentence had been passed, the people showed their joy by shouting and throwing their caps in the air, which so much angered the Queen that she was ill for three days and is not yet herself. Attempts are being made to punish the judges; but the Queen has no authority, nor has her Council, on account of the split. On the same day, Wyatt's head was removed from the gibbet on which it had been fixed; and this is a great crime and scandal in England.
The Queen is deciding what is to be done with Courtenay and the Lady Elizabeth. As for Courtenay, she seems to have been persuaded by the Controller and his friends who tried to bring about a marriage between her and Courtenay, to set him at liberty. As for Elizabeth, the lawyers find no sufficient evidence to condemn her, and she is already allowed to walk in the Tower garden. And even if there were evidence, they would not dare to proceed against her because her relative, the Admiral, has espoused her cause, and controls all the forces of England. If she is released, the heretics will probably proclaim her queen; whilst if Courtenay goes free he will go on as he began, plotting with the French, and his Highness will not be secure.
The French make certain that his Highness will not arrive in this kingdom without further disorders, which they mean to back up with the army they are gathering together in Picardy. A Scottish gentleman named Darnde (sic) who was with the Bishop of Ross, has been arrested. He had offered to an English lord called Percy great pensions, rewards, prerogatives and armed support to start trouble near the Scottish border; and this Scotsman has written out his own confession that he was acting on the instructions of the King of France and the Queen Dowager of Scotland, which shows clearly enough that the French mean to stir up civil war here and attack the Queen. This notwithstanding, the Bishop of Ross crossed over to France without a word being said to him on the subject of the arrest; which he of course did not allude to.
I have remonstrated with the Queen as I thought my duty bade me, saying that it is no time to feed party quarrels by showing a sour countenance to faithful servants in whose power it is to do her great harm; action with regard to religion had better be deferred until September, and her attention concentrated on protecting his Highness, for as I plainly told her, I failed to see how he could come safely in the presence of a divided Council, or how he would be able to shape his course between the factions. She would do well to realise that certain persons were actuated by their hatred of Paget for having worked so well for the marriage, and their real object was perhaps other than that which they avowed. Such was her anxiety, she replied, at the way affairs were going, that she knew not what to say. She had not been consulted about bringing religious measures before Parliament, and she was unable to demand any greater guarantee for his Highness's security than her Councillor's assurance that they were ready to die in his service. She wished that they might agree; but Paget suffered no contradiction and was unable to get on with the Chancellor, so for the last three days he had not attended at the Council-board. While I was speaking with the Queen, Paget sent me the enclosed note, (fn. 2) written in his own hand. I showed it to her, and she agreed with it, saying that she would speak about finishing Parliament (qu'elle parleroit pour finir le parlement), but that she was still unable to decide what should be done with the prisoners, and meanwhile her Councillors were urging her to leave London and set out on her way to meet his Highness, for they all said everything would go well when once he had come. I informed her that a number of Englishmen, gentle and simple, were arming, peaceful people were leaving the country on account of the troublous times they saw coming, and if her Council continued to be split up into two factions it would be impossible to avoid some scandalous disorder. She ought to surround herself with troops, send lieutenant-governors into the counties as her Council had advised, encourage the devotion of the nobility, in whose hands lay armed force, and watch vigilantly for opportunities of improving the general position. She replied that she spent her days in shouting at her Council, but all with no result. So, Sire, there is a change for the worse since I last wrote.
The French ambassador had audience of the Queen a few days ago, and blustered about a French ship which he asserted to have been plundered by the English, speaking in a tone indicative of an intention to make war.
Rumour over here has it that Cardinal Pole calls himself Duke of York and claims a right to the Crown.
Wotton's last letters to the Queen are as follows. Cardinal Pole, in course of conversation with the King of France, complained that the King caused his ministers to foment discord in England and received into his service traitors to a Queen whose only objects were the peace of Christendom and the cause of religion, whereas the King, as Most Christian Prince, ought rather to do his best to favour and support her; and the Cardinal held forth in the same strain as eloquently as he could. The King replied that he did not wish to break with the Queen, but remain on friendly terms, for he had offered to renew his treaties with her; and the fact that he meted out cruel justice to heretics in France did not tend to prove his intention of hindering her in her similar proceedings. Here the Cardinal of Lorraine (fn. 3) put in that, as the Queen allowed her subjects to go and serve the King's enemy, the King intended to employ those willing to serve against that enemy, but by no means against England, as the Cardinal seemed to believe; and he threw in Pole's face that he had been ill-treated in the past, and even now had no reason to be grateful to the late Kings of England. To which the Cardinal replied that he never forgot he was an Englishman, for he had always revered his Kings, though he deeply regretted the paths they trod.
Wotton moreover says that Pole spoke of his chagrin at seeing so many English rebels in France. The match with his Highness he considered to be an excellent thing for the kingdom, and he was very glad of it. He greatly desired to proceed to England and serve the Queen by helping in religious matters. The Queen, he thought, would do well to pay no attention to French provocations. The grave subjects of discord between the King and the Emperor made it very difficult to start peace negotiations, but if once they could be opened the Queen would be able to play a useful part, though for the present he thought there was no hope of anything better than a truce. Before he had spoken with the King, the Constable had told him that the French were ill-treated in England. New taxes were being levied on them, packets stopped, couriers robbed and the way to Scotland closed. If M. d'Oisel had intrigued, he had acted against the King's will. The English had been forbidden to frequent the lodging of the French ambassador, who had been turned out of his house, and no wonder, as the Council followed the advice of your Majesty's ambassador. As for fugitive rebels, the King had fruitlessly demanded the extradition of some of his, and did not intend to play the part of headsman and put them to death, especially at a time when he was at war with a powerful enemy. Besides, the Englishmen in question said they had never meant to do any violence to the Queen, and Peter Carew had written to him (the Constable) offering to go back to England to be punished if he could be proved a traitor. The Queen would have been in a better position as peace-maker before she had delivered herself over to the Spaniards; and Ambassador Wotton had been guilty of ill offices in advising Englishmen serving in France to go home and sending spies all over the country to see what was being done. Ambassadors' privileges were great; but he had better be careful not to exceed them, or he should be punished.
The Cardinal made many pertinent remarks in reply to this speech, and observed that your Majesty's ambassador was obliged frequently to negotiate with the Queen and her Council, as the alliance was so far advanced; and the Constable finally said that he had spoken in the hope of finding remedies for abuses, and not in order to pick a quarrel. Wotton, who had also gone over the same points with the King and Constable, further wrote that many Englishmen were going over to France and being used by the King instead of other troops. The Queen had better make ready for war and keep her frontiers manned, for the King harboured evil intentions against her and her kingdom. It would be better, he thought, to seek to bring the rebels home and prevent others from leaving England by means of a general pardon, for in such times as these efforts to obtain their extradition were dangerous and might lead to a rupture. He also reported that an Italian had informed the Cardinal that some matter of enormous importance (ung grandissime negoce et d'importance) was being negotiated among the lords in England, to take effect on the Prince's arrival, and that in Normandy the King was making preparations enough to disturb his journey. The English were convinced that he would never reach London; and all the Italians were making ready to go to sea with the King's fleet.
These tidings are confirmed by the report of a spy, who on his own showing left Dieppe last Wednesday, to the effect that the King of France is sending to Normandy most of the troops he had in Picardy, who are going to Dieppe, Le Havre and other places on the sea-board. Fifteen ships have put out from Dieppe and Le Havre, it is said in order to attack England and prevent his Highness from crossing over. He says he is certain that the French will try to injure the Queen; and that Carew's secretary told him how Carew, who was in the habit of sending his letters to England hidden in slippers, had an understanding with several leading men here, and that Carew and several other Englishmen were being very well treated by the King. I have sent this spy back, as the news he brought seem to make it worth while to try him again.
On talking over Wotton's letters with the Queen, I did my best to urge her to take serious precautions and promptly set her affairs in proper order, saying that otherwise I saw danger ahead, and grave peril attending his Highness's coming unless she put a stop to the discord in the Council and was careful not to allow herself to be outwitted. She replied that letters had been sent to several parts of the country to obtain troops; Clinton was staying as her Lieutenant in London; she was doing her best; the lords all assured her that his Highness would be secure, and they would all die at his feet if necessary. The whole danger, she proceeded, was in London and its surroundings, for the other day a church had been burnt down in Essex and the people there refused to have the mass; but everyone agreed that once his Highness had come, things would calm down. She showed me a note that had been thrown on her kitchen table: a most seditious writing, full of threats against her, the Chancellor, the High Treasurer (fn. 4) and others, speaking strangely of his Highness and the Spaniards and asserting openly that he would run risks when he came to England. I have spoken to the Chancellor, the Controller, Paget and Petre, all separately, and Paget has promised me to put up with any treatment rather than imperil the Prince's welcome, and to do his best to put an end to the troubles. The Chancellor said he would soon bring the session of Parliament to a close.
The news supplied by the Italian lead me to speculate whether the Admiral's dislike of the Lady Elizabeth's imprisonment may not have caused him to plot joining the French. I have warned M. de la Capelle about this in general terms, so that he may be vigilant.
My representations are intended to place your Majesty in possession of all the facts, and thus to enable you to judge whether his Highness had better come or not. The lords over here are spending so much money on preparations for his arrival that were he not to come they might well be very angry and become altogether hostile. On the other hand, it is meet that your Majesty should realise the difficulties and the intrigues and warlike activities of the French; for it is to be feared that they may fall on the Queen unless your Majesty let it be seen that you are as well prepared as they.
The worst of it is that the Queen has not a single crown in hand, and no one to raise funds for her. And in truth, Sire, I cannot forbear to tell your Majesty that this nation is so avaricious that the pensions would have been of the greatest service in winning over the great nobles. I am not at all persuaded that there will be no more trouble, for the religious question in itself is enough, and the Chancellor is handling it in too rough and intemperate a manner. His zeal is of course praiseworthy, but this is not the right time to display it, and never a day passes without my hearing of murmurs indicative of disaffection.
The Queen has commanded me to write and ask his Highness if he will accept the English Order, which is to be conferred on him to-morrow by the College of the Knights of the Garter.
London, 22 April, 1554.
Signed. Cipher. French.
About half this letter is printed by Tytler, The Reigns of Edward VI and Mary, Vol. II.
April 24. Simancas, E. 508. The Bishop of Arras to Don Juan Manrique de Lara.
On his return from France, the Legate (Cardinal Pole), in conference with his Majesty, the Queen (Dowager of Hungary) and myself, said they kept him there a long time before giving him audience, under the pretext of the Easter holy days. In reality, what we hear from other sources shows that their reasons for so doing were two: in order to make disaffected subjects of his Majesty believe that here in Flanders we were urging him to make peace, a sign that we were very low, whilst they (i.e. the French) were unwilling to treat because of their desire to shield the aforesaid disaffected subjects from the punishment that peace would be likely to expose them to; and also because the King of France was waiting to see how his intrigues in Turkey, Germany and elsewhere turned out. When the Cardinal at length did succeed in obtaining audience, and spoke of the desire for peace which he had observed in this quarter, they gave him vague replies, the trend of which from what he said to his Majesty seemed to be that they aimed at a peace or truce without any restitution, and that as the Duke of Orleans (fn. 5) had died without the proposed marriage taking place another match should be arranged in order to settle the Milanese question. This was all the Cardinal had to say, and he watered it down with his usual exhortations in favour of peace; but as it amounted to nothing whatever, his Majesty told him he clearly saw how far were the French from harbouring a sincere desire for peace, and that their real aim was merely to get out of the tight place they were in in Siena, keep a footing in Corsica, go on intriguing and hold what they had seized in the Empire with the intention of doing still more damage as soon as they had an opportunity. And as the Cardinal made a great point of the necessity of peace for the welfare of Christendom, his Majesty told him that the worst fate that could befall Christendom would be an increase of the King of France's power, for it was clear that his abuse of what authority he had already had brought about great evils.
When the Cardinal admitted that he had nothing more to say, his Majesty reproached him with having committed two blunders. The first was to have allowed himself to be sent to Brussels before going to France, for the world might take it to mean that his Majesty was hardened in his determination not to make peace, than which nothing could be more foreign to his righteous mind, for he had again and again sacrificed his own interests in that cause. This misapprehension had estranged from him many good Christians, who had taken the Legate's order of proceeding to indicate that he had changed his mind and decided not to forgive certain injuries of a personal nature, whereas when the Cardinal of Imola had been here his Majesty, not so much because Imola's persuasions produced any effect on his mind, but because he was moved by his own constant tendency to put the public welfare first and his own interests second, had clearly expressed his intention of pardoning them. The second blunder was much worse and more to be regretted, for by coming back to Brussels from France without, as the Cardinal himself must realise, bringing the faintest hope of engaging negotiations likely to lead to peace, he was confirming the suspicions of those who were capable of imagining it to be his Majesty's fault if a peace-conference were not forthcoming, for since it was necessary to come back and persuade him again and again, they would take it that these efforts to convince were designed to overcome a most unreasonable reluctance to submit to fair proposals. The French would not be slow to make capital out of it, for they always managed to turn everything into arguments for persuading enemies of Christ's faith, Turks and others to aid them in their nefarious enterprises.
The Cardinal admitted that he had blundered in returning hither from France, but explained it by saying that a relative (fn. 6) of his, who had rebelled against the Queen of England, had come to him at the French court. He had rebuffed him and forbidden his suite to hold speech with the man, but as he noticed that several other Englishmen showed a desire to rally round him and use him as a shield from behind which they might try to prevent the marriage, he thought he had better go away. His Majesty could not fail to approve of his leaving France, but observed that what he ought to have done was to go straight to Rome and report to his Holiness. The Cardinal then answered that as he had been sent out to perform so holy a mission, he could not abandon it without having first informed his Holiness of the results and waited for further orders, for which purpose he would at once send a courier, by whom I am despatching this letter to you. The Nuncio has taken it upon himself to write to his Holiness a detailed account of what has happened, and I believe he will do it better than the Right Reverend Legate, who between ourselves may be a learned and most virtuous prelate of holy life but is not good at negotiating. I suspect he would like to stay here on account of English affairs, of which he has even less understanding than of those he has recently been engaged upon, so for all his zeal he would do more harm than good. To give you an idea of this Legate's ignorance of affairs, I may tell you that after he had conferred with the Emperor, the Queen Dowager and myself, without saying a word more than what is noted down above, now at this very moment, when I am finishing this letter, the Nuncio comes and tells me on his behalf that he had forgotten to say the French had given him a writing, which the Nuncio has handed over to me. This writing is by way of reply to the demand Imola transmitted to them from his Majesty, though in truth the Legate would have done better to keep it to himself, for it is so impudent and exorbitant that it would be enough to break off peace negotiations even if they had been proceeding in a satisfactory manner. I am not sending you a copy of it, because as I said the Nuncio has only this moment given it to me, but I need only say that they once more demand Milan, Naples, Navarre, the suzerainty of Flanders, and Thérouanne and Hesdin to be built up again as they were before the war, not to mention other details equally unreasonable.
Copy or draft. Spanish.
April 27. Brussels, R.A. Prov. 13. Simon Renard to the Emperor.
Sire: The Queen has reflected on what I said to her the other day, and now realises the dangers which the split in the Council place in her path, the importance of bringing Parliament to a close, of using moderation in religious questions, of avoiding steps that might provoke a fresh rebellion and of taking precautions to guard his Highness on his arrival here. She has discussed these points with her Council and has decided to prorogue Parliament until a more fitting time, to send out gentlemen and captains to raise troops, and to appoint men of position to keep the people in the provinces in order. My Lord Clinton, with the title of lieutenant-general, is to stay here and govern London and the surrounding country within a radius of twenty miles. He already has 200 horse and 300 foot, and authority to increase these numbers as he shall see fit, for if there is going to be trouble, it will either begin here or in Essex, where the Earl of Sussex is to be in charge. Moreover, all the lords are preparing to accompany the Queen to Winchester, with a following of 2000 horse.
The twelve jurymen who gave verdict in favour of Throckmorton have been imprisoned under an accusation of collusion and malice, and if more progress is made in this direction it looks as if things might go better. The Chancellor and Paget are already conferring together, and seem to be half-reconciled. It has been decided that London and the Queen's guards shall be in arms on the first of May, lest the apprentices make any disturbance. The Admiral has sailed for Portsmouth, but I see from letters he has written that he is not pleased with the fleet your Majesty has sent, for he says there are only three or four vessels of over one hundred tons. Preparations for his Highness's welcome are still going on, and the Queen has made up her mind not to leave London until there are news of him. Several members of the Council are astonished that he has neither written to the Queen nor sent anyone to visit her, as the alliance is so far advanced. I make such excuses as I am able to devise.
This morning I was told that the fleet of hoys had fallen in last Friday with fourteen French vessels, seven of which had been sunk and the rest put to flight in the direction of the ports of Normandy; but no confirmation has come yet.
The bill providing that heretics be punished with death has passed the Lower House of Parliament, but I hear that the Lords will not consent to the capital penalty.
Three knights of the Garter were made last St. George's day: his Highness, if he is pleased to accept that Order, the Earl of Sussex, and the third to be named by the Queen.
There is much talk here about hopes of peace, and it serves to keep the heretics within bounds.
No decision has yet been arrived at with regard to the Lady Elizabeth and Courtenay.
The Queen is waiting for a reply to what I wrote to your Majesty about permission to export from Spain a sum of money which the merchants are offering to her. Your Majesty will be pleased to consider that it will be in his Highness's interest, for the money will be used to make war on the French. If peace (between the Emperor and France) is not concluded, it will be impossible to keep England out of the war, because the French cannot bear this alliance, and their words to Cardinal Pole and Wotton show it; but the Queen will be able to do nothing unless she can raise some money.
This courier will make a verbal report about the French ships that have sailed from Brittany. I hear that they are numerous, and that those with the English refugees on board have made the port of Le Havre.
London, 27 April, 1554.
Signed. Partly in cipher. French.
About half this letter is printed by Tytler, The Reigns of Edward VI and Mary, Vol. II; but dated 28 April.
April 30. Simancas, E. 508. The Emperor to Prince Philip.
Since I last wrote, two despatches have come from the ambassador in England, who informs us that you have been proclaimed king and that fealty to you has been sworn to the satisfaction of all and sundry. Affairs are now calm in that realm, and the people are awaiting your coming with great desire to see you. I take it you will not fail to cross over soon, for the master of a ship that has touched at Antwerp and that sailed from Laredo on the 15th instant says that the Queen's ambassadors arrived at that port the day before he left, Count d'Egmont had gone to Santander, the whole fleet was ready and it was thought you would certainly embark by the middle of May. No courier has come from you, but as we hear that one whom you sent off on March 29th was captured by the French we were very glad to learn the above details. We trust that letters from you will soon reach us.
As regards the payments that are mentioned above, (fn. 7) let them be made in the manner suggested or in another, for the persons concerned have served us well and if you treat them fairly you will in future have someone to furnish you with plenty of money on favourable terms, as they have never refused to do in the past. So there is a reason for not failing them, and I am writing to the Council of Finance to this effect.
I am well, God be praised, and trust in Him that I may so continue.
Brussels, 30 April, 1554.
Minute. Spanish
April (?)Brussels, R.A. Prov. 13. Lord Paget to Simon Renard.
Sir: If you have not yet received a list of the names of those who have been appointed to serve his Highness, I pray you not to think it is my fault, for I assure you I have spoken to my Lord the Great Master and also to the Vice-Chamberlain. You had better ask the Queen about it, for then it will be sooner done. Our affairs are going all awry, and that by the fault of him you know of. I fear the result, and the man (fn. 8) who usually confers with you and me fears it no less than I. For my part, I am determined no longer to bear the blame for others' folly, but nevertheless will I loyally obey her Majesty's commands as long as I live. I wish to tell you this because I believe in your friendship and in your devotion to the Queen and this country. Signed. French.


  • 1. Sir Nicholas Throckmorton.
  • 2. See the letter printed under the date of 19 April.
  • 3. Charles de Guise, Cardinal of Lorraine.
  • 4. William Paulet, Marquis of Winchester.
  • 5. Charles, Duke of Orleans, died in 1545. One of the conditions of the peace of Crépy(1544) was that he should marry either the Emperor's daughter, Joanna, with the lands of the Burgundian inheritance, or the King of the Romans' daughter, Mary, with the duchy of Milan.
  • 6. Thomas Stafford; see p. 212,
  • 7. Copies of the Emperor's letters of April 1 and 9 were also sent with this one, in case anything had happened to the other couriers.
  • 8. Probably Sir William Petre.