Spain: February 1554, 11-15

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

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'Spain: February 1554, 11-15', in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 12, 1554, (London, 1949) pp. 93-100. British History Online [accessed 5 March 2024]

February 1554, 11–15

Feb. 11. Vienna, E. 1. Mary I to the Emperor.
It gave me great grief that rebels against my rule should have forced my Lords your ambassadors to depart in haste and fear, as you will have heard from them; but as God willed that they should be constrained to discover their treachery before the time they had appointed, most of them are by now prisoners or in flight. I trust, therefore, that the result will be to establish my reign more firmly than ever, to enable the alliance with my Lord the Prince to be concluded, and to purify the kingdom by exemplary punishment inflicted on the guilty, as your Majesty will hear from my dear and well-beloved, the Viscount Fitzwalter, present bearer, who has charge to visit your Majesty on my behalf, inform you of the victory God has granted me over them, and ask your pardon for the precipitate return of your ambassadors and for my failure to reply to the letters they brought me from you. He also has instructions to assure your Majesty of my desire to continue in the relations of amity that exist between us, and humbly thank you for the thought you have always had for this kingdom and for me. Of this your ambassador resident here has spoken to me, and I beg your Majesty to give him credence, for his presence and counsel have been a great support to me in my latest calamity.
Your most humble daughter, sister and cousin, Mary.
London, 11 February, 1554.
Holograph. French.
Feb. 12. Brussels, L.A. 62. The Queen Dowager to the Margrave of Antwerp. (fn. 1)
By our letters of the 7th instant we charged you to explain to the English merchants that the arrest of their vessels decreed by us was only to last until we had news that the Londoners and men of other merchant-towns of England were doing their duty by the Queen. We have now received trustworthy reports showing that these men have shown most steadfast loyalty, and we therefore order you to raise the arrest of the English merchants' goods, ships and persons, so that they may attend to their business, come and go without let or hindrance as before. You will also declare to them that they, as good subjects of the Queen of England, our good cousin and perpetual ally, may always look to us for favour and assistance, in this matter as in every other.
Brussels, 12 February, 1554.
Minute. French.
Feb. 12 Vienna, E. 22. Simon Renard to the Emperor.
Sire: The Queen of England summoned me this morning and informed me that the Council had issued orders for Courtenay's arrest and imprisonment in the Tower, because Wyatt, without having been tortured, accused him and several others, such as Pickering and Poignz, of being of the conspiracy. Pickering escaped arrest by flight into France, where he is said to have joined Carew. A clerk of the Queen's Council, named Thomas (fn. 2) (was also mentioned). The Council has sent two of the Queen's physicians to visit the Lady Elizabeth and find out whether she is still unwell or only pretending, and whom she has in her house; and if she is not ill the Admiral, Hastings and Cornwallis are to arrest and bring her in to the Tower. The Queen, moreover, told me that the Lady (Anne) of Cleves was of the plot and intrigued with the Duke of Cleves to obtain help for Elizabeth: matters in which the King of France was the prime mover. In order to smooth them over the French ambassador had audience to-day, though I do not yet know exactly what he said. The Queen says that God has miraculously permitted all this to come out and furnished her with means to put a stop to it by punishing the guilty authors in time, for otherwise heresy would have found its way back to the kingdom, she would have been robbed of her state and England subjected to the will of the French. So she is now absolutely determined to have strict justice done and make herself strong against further eventualities.
For the last three months, I replied, I had known of the state of opinion and had stated my opinion that there was a great deal of slackness and negligence; moreover, some of my letters to your Majesty had warned you about the plot. Now that God had shown her the grace of placing the exercise of justice in her hands, I though she ought not to lose the opportunity of punishing the shameful infidelity of those who had conspired against her person and crown, but also see to the chastisement of Courtenay and Elizabeth, the two persons most able to cause trouble in the realm, since they had notoriously sinned and deserved death, after which she need have no fear for her crown, as Jane of Suffolk and Guildford, her husband, were to be beheaded, and the whole house of Suffolk would be obliterated by the execution of the three brothers now prisoners, whose death, as they were heretics, would contribute to the firm re-establishment of religion. I added all the persuasions that seemed suited to the occasion, and imparted to her the substance of your Majesty's last letters, which showed your intention to help her at sea in order to prevent the schemes of the French and guard the English coast. Although your Majesty's finances had been exhausted by recent wars, you had done your utmost to support her, and she ought not to neglect your advice in setting her affairs in order, especially where Courtenay and Elizabeth were concerned. Then, after much talk about your Majesty's health and the time of his Highness's coming, she said that she wished me, over and above the commendations to be uttered by my Lord Fitzwalter, to express to you her most affectionate gratitude for the kindness and paternal love you had shown her, assuring you that she would not be thankless.
I subsequently went to inform the Council of your Majesty's decision, the preparations you had made at sea, your wish to remain their good friend and neighbour and prove your zeal for the prosperity of England and its Queen. Of one accord they begged me to present to your Majesty their most humble thanks for your goodwill, which they would never forget. The Deputy of Calais, (fn. 3) as they tell me, has informed them that the King of France has commanded all the principal captains and soldiers whom he had sent to Italy to return at once, in order to put into execution, as soon as the weather permits, an undertaking which he has projected either against England or your Majesty, though he has as yet no detailed information. Your Majesty will reflect that the French are pushing on their naval preparations and gathering in as many troops as they can from Scotland, and, as there are excellent reasons why they will be unable to attack England now that their plot has been discovered and defeated, may decide to fall upon Zeeland or other parts of your coast in order to support revolt in Germany. There, as I am told every day, unthinkable things are happening, from which great danger and irretrievable harm may result unless you apply the remedy.
The Council tell me that the gentry of Wales, the West and the North have of themselves met together and sworn fidelity to his Highness and the Queen in support of the marriage that has been agreed to. The men of Plymouth have written to the Queen that they have made ready to give his Highness a safe and honourable reception, and the people of London are beginning to be converted, saying his Highness will be welcome as long as he brings no foreign troops. The Councillors spoke with me in a tone as familiar as if the alliance and marriage were accomplished facts, owning that the Queen's fortitude was the one cause of victory, for had she left London the whole realm would have fallen a prey to disorder and dangerous ills.
The Venetian ambassador asked for audience to congratulate the Queen on her triumph, and was answered by the Council's advice with dissembling; though the evil wrought by the pilots and captain of the Venetian ship in giving artillery to Wyatt has not been forgotten.
The French ambassador did not demand audience of the Queen, but of the Council. All I have noticed for some days past confirms my belief that it will be impossible for England to avoid going to war with France and helping your Majesty. It is important to make the most of this, so that if the German princes rise you may be able to use English support against the French. You would do well to encourage the Earls of Pembroke and Derby, the Admiral, Lord William (Howard), Clinton and others who would serve you; and if you were pleased to raise some infantry here it would afford many men an opportunity of embracing your cause; though I submit in this to your Majesty's better judgement.
The Queen is anxiously awaiting your Majesty's ratification and the dispensation from the Pope, as she herself has told me.
My Lord Fitzwalter (Fealitre) who is going abroad is a son of the Earl of Sussex, (fn. 4) a good servant of the Queen. He (Fitzwalter) showed himself to be trustworthy in this recent affair, and is a learned man, which I am especially mentioning so that your Majesty may do him honour if you see fit.
The Earl of Pembroke has again offered me his services for your Majesty and his Highness. He has been of the utmost utility to the Queen in all her affairs, and now asks me to write begging your Majesty to excuse him for having been tardy. He has volunteered to raise some infantry for you here were there call for it.
After I had written the above, the Queen sent to tell me that Courtenay had been arrested in the Earl of Sussex's house, and that Wyatt maintained the conspiracy to have been organised in his and the Lady Elizabeth's interests. It has been discovered that Courtenay had procured disguises in which to fly with Carew to Cornwall. So the plot has been revealed.
A new revolt is feared because the people say so much noble blood ought not to be shed for the sake of foreigners. Many foreigners have departed, because marks were found on their houses.
The Duke of Suffolk and his brother, John, have been committed to the Tower.
Many persons think a Parliament ought to be held in order to get to the bottom of the country's intentions as to the match with his Highness, so that he may come in safety.
The Chancellor and Arundel (fn. 5) have fallen out violently. Paget and Petre side with Arundel; and this spirit of partiality is a menace to the Queen's prosperity.
I have it from a trustworthy source that the German princes and the King of Denmark are forming against your Majesty a plot which they mean to execute in the spring. They are doing so on account of Margrave Albrecht and because, as they say, your Majesty, by not attending to affairs of state in the Empire, is not keeping the treaty made with them at Passau. The man who said this to me was so much in earnest that tears came to his eyes, and he asserts that the King of Bohemia (fn. 6) is of the same faction because he believes things will go badly for your Majesty in Germany and the Low Countries if the plot succeeds. He also adds that many subjects in the Low Countries would rather have the King of Bohemia than his Highness, whose marriage has rendered many persons, such as the King of Denmark, envious and jealous.
The Queen has sent to France with a demand for Carew's extradition.
During his last audience, the French ambassador complained of the seizure of his letters, using audacious and threatening expressions that could only mean a rupture of peaceable relations.
Mr. Mason is staying here because of a cold that has attacked him; and Lord Fitzwalter is taking with him several gentlemen who have served the Queen well.
London, 12 February, 1554.
Signed. Cipher. French. Less than half this despatch, from a fragment at Besançon (C. G. 73), is printed by Weiss, Documents Inédits, Vol. IV, under the date of February 14th.
A translation into Spanish for Philip's use, omitting the passage in which a fresh revolt is said to be expected, and others, exists at Simancas (E. 808), and is printed without date, in Documentos Inéditos, Vol. III, pp. 492–498.
Feb. 13. Vienna, E. 22. Simon Renard to the Emperor.
Sire: I have received the letters your Majesty was pleased to command Secretary Bave to write to me on the 7th instant, and at the same time four duplicates of four letters addressed to the lords ambassadors who have gone back. I have answered them all in the full reports sent to you of the state of affairs here, the revolt that took place and the victory achieved by the Queen, giving the names of many persons arrested as suspect or taken in the act, which I have also repeated in subsequent letters given to my Lord Fitzwalter, who is going to your Majesty at the Queen's command for the reasons I have exposed. I will make no further repetition of these tidings, for I know that my letters of the 8th, given to Rousseau, went across safely, and those taken by Fitzwalter will not be seized. Since then it has been discovered that 400 or 500 gentlemen and others had a share in the plot, so the prisons will not suffice to hold them all. Yesterday Courtenay, chief of the conspiracy according to Wyatt, was committed to the Tower, and the Lady Elizabeth set out to come hither. She is expected to-morrow with an escort of 700 or 800 horse, and it is believed that she will soon be sent to the Tower, where Jane of Suffolk was yesterday executed, whilst her husband, Guildford, suffered in public. To-day 30 soldiers, men of some standing, were executed as an example to the people. The Queen is raising 1000 foot in Wales and 500 horse for her ordinary guard and to protect her Council, and has disbanded the troops that served her on the last occasion, saying that if God did not watch over her she would fall into hazard every day, even if she took many more precautions; and this she repeats as often as she gets the chance.
(Vienna) (fn. 7) (Simancas)
Only in this town the French and heretics fill the people's minds with so much falsehood and malignity that the Council must take the matter in hand; for otherwise there is prospect of a new rebellion and treason, aimed principally at the Queen's person. In this town certain heretics and others who have been corrupted by the French are so abandoned as to be credited with harbouring evil intentions, as is their wont.
As for the marriage, I have not received the powers, ratification or other documents mentioned in your Majesty's letters, so as I have many times written the negotiation is suspended and I never speak of it, though the Queen frequently asks me whether I have news of his Highness's coming. When the ambassadors left it was decided that even if the powers did arrive I was not to make use of them or of any other commission from your Majesty.
The 3,000 crowns your Majesty sent me by the post-master to be used here as need might arise have been distributed, and by the same means the French ambassador has suborned 15 or 16 gentlemen.
As for the 200 crowns you dispatched for messengers and spies, I have received them, and will obey your orders.
I have seen letters of the 7th instant from Wotton, in which he warns the Queen's Council that the Constable of France sent him a secretary to say that England had risen against her, and that she was in great danger: a matter to which the King was giving much thought. (Wotton adds that)
(Vienna) (Simancas)
Carew has arrived at the French Court and has spoken with the King, and a month ago Courtenay sent one of his servants to negotiate with the King. As soon as Carew had spoken to the King, Marshal de St. André, (fn. 8) Governor of Picardy, was ordered to start at once, though Wotton does not say in what direction. Also, the Vidame (of Chartres) (fn. 9) was on the point of departure, and it was suspected that a surprise attack on Calais might be contemplated. The Council were warned to take prompt steps for defending it. Courtenay sent a servant to negotiate with the King of France, who, after speaking with Carew, sent off Marshal de St. André, Governor of Picardy, who departed at once, it was said in order to take Calais. These are Courtenay's doings.
Wotton also says that the King of France is expecting Cardinal Pole, and that the Cardinal had intrigued against the match with his Highness. And this is the gist of the letters.
The Deputy of Calais has written in haste to the Council that the French are arming by land and sea, and your Majesty is doing the same. As he is ignorant of the objects of either side he would like to have Calais provided with stores and munitions. Your Majesty's fleet makes him suspicious because of the arrest of English merchants and their property at Antwerp and other places in the Low Countries. As soon as I heard this I went to the Council and explained that your Majesty's fleet was meant to assist the Queen and her realm, principally against the French, wherefore there was no ground for suspicion; and that the Antwerp embargo had been decided upon in order to satisfy your Majesty's subjects, disturbed by the rumour to the effect that your ambassadors over here had been ill-treated and put to death, and by no means with the intention of acting contrary to the treaties of alliance. The Council took this in good part and replied that they were glad to hear it, for thus might the traitors who offered violence to your Majesty's envoys learn that you would treat them in like manner. They supposed that now the revolt was over you would issue orders for a release.
I also spoke at length with them about discontent among the people of London and the continuous efforts of the French to incite them to fresh disorders. They answered that they were taking steps to deal with the question, and were determined to expel all foreign fugitives, for whatever reason they had left their countries.
The most despairing feature in the Queen's position is that she has no one in her Council who looks after her finances. Thus she is left without money or credit, although she herself does her best to remedy matters. I mentioned to her what your Majesty said in one of your letters to the effect that she might find credit at Antwerp, as she paid the debts of the late King Edward, her brother. I do not know what she will do about it.
The messenger sent over here by M. de Vandeville is well qualified to be a despatch-carrier, as he speaks languages and was brought up in England.
London, 13 February, 1554.
Signed. Cipher. French.
Feb. 14. Vienna, E. 23. The Emperor to M. de Vandeville.
Your letter of the 10th instant to Secretary Bave (fn. 10) has told us what you then knew of affairs in England, and of your efforts to send the packet addressed to you by the Secretary safely across to the Lieutenant of Amont. We thank you. Full accounts have now come from the Lieutenant of the satisfactory progress of events in England, and we are sending thither our cousin, Count d'Egmont, whom we have instructed to receive from you the packet, addressed to MM. d'Egmont, de Lalaing, de Courrières, the Chancellor of the Order and the Lieutenant d'Amont, our ambassadors in England, which was handed over to you by the London master of the ports, as well as the moneys which Mareéhal, the courier, left in your keeping. We therefore instruct you to make no difficulty about delivering over the said packet and moneys to M. d'Egmont, who has our orders as to what he is to do with them.
Brussels, 14 February, 1554.
French. Minute. This minute is written in the margin of a minute of the Queen Dowager, and has no address or signature; but its text sufficiently describes it.


  • 1. Gillebert Van Schoonebeke,
  • 2. William Thomas, formerly a Clerk of the Council.
  • 3. Thomas, Lord Wentworth.
  • 4. Henry Radcliffe, Earl of Sussex.
  • 5. Henry Fitzalan, Earl of Arundel, Great Master of the Household.
  • 6. Maximilian of Austria, son of Ferdinand, King of the Romans.
  • 7. The following passage, like another printed in double columns in this letter, shows that alarming pieces of news were attenuated before being transmitted, in a Spanish translation, to Prince Philip. The Spanish translation exists at Simancas (E. 808).
  • 8. Jacques d'Albon, Sieur de St. André, had led a special mission to England in 1551.
  • 9. François de Vendôme.
  • 10. Josse Bave, the Emperor's Flemish Secretary.