Spain: December 1554, 16-31

Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 13, 1554-1558. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1954.

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'Spain: December 1554, 16-31', in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 13, 1554-1558, (London, 1954) pp. 123-131. British History Online [accessed 1 March 2024]

December 1554, 16–31

129. The Bishop of Arras to the Emperor
Brussels, 18 Dec. (?) Sire: I have had no little trouble in deciphering this note from the Duke of Savoy, because it is so badly spelt. He came to see me the day after writing it at dinner time, as I told your Majesty, told me he had given you the note and repeated its contents to me, adding that he had often spoken to me on the subject but did not know whether I had mentioned it to your Majesty. I told him I well remembered he had informed me of his desire to be entrusted with the government of Milan, and had also spoken to the Queen about it. I was also aware that at camp he had several times shown resentment of Don Fernando's behaviour. When he had talked to me I had done my duty by expressing an opinion which I would once more voice: that his request to have the government of Milan was, with submission, unreasonable, because Don Fernando was still occupying the post, and there was not nearly as much against him as had been said. The Duke, I remarked, might perhaps remember I had often told him that as he knew your Majesty was most solicitous for his prestige and glad to employ him wherever it was suitable to do so, he could not do better than to leave it to your Majesty to choose the posts he was best qualified to fill. As for calling Don Fernando his mortal enemy, it seemed to me that he was speaking too positively, without specifying his reasons. He replied to this that apart from the evidence his subjects would be able to supply, Don Fernando had clearly shown it in the present war. I said I had not noticed it, and he rejoined that he had, and well remembered that at St. Omer your Majesty had told him things would have gone better had he always followed his advice; but if your Majesty had been guided by him the day he was in favour of departing, God knew where we would all be now! Moreover, he had heard that Don Fernando, since his arrival here, had spoken most unsuitably. When I urged him to tell me what he had said, the Duke replied that his words were too vile to be repeated, and ended by begging me to obtain an answer to his note so that he might soon start for England, as your Majesty had granted him leave and he was only waiting for his answer to be gone.
I reported all this to the Queen yesterday, and read her the Duke's note as your Majesty had ordered me to do. She is at a loss what to advise you to reply, but suggested that your Majesty might say you were going into Don Fernando's case with the King, our lord and Prince, and were unable to answer until you had talked it over with him. I, however, pointed out that I feared the Duke and other of Don Fernando's adversaries might make use of this information against him by letting it be known that he was not for some time to return to his government, which would reach Don Fernando's ears and increase his feeling of resentment. So at last the Queen decided that the reply had better be couched in general terms, to the effect that your Majesty had not yet come to any definite decision with regard to Don Fernando, so let the Duke not delay his journey to England, but have confidence that you would always act for the best where he was concerned and be as careful of his reputation as you always had been in the past, and favour him as much as the general state of affairs would permit. When he returned from England you would give him a more pertinent answer. Thus time will be gained, and your Majesty will be able to consult the King and avail yourself of his advice.
Copy. French.
Besançon, C.G.73.
Printed by Weiss, Documents Inédits, Vol. IV.
130. Mary to the Emperor
Westminister, 20 December. My Lord and good father: The letters you sent to me by M. d'Egmont, written by your own hand and bearing witness to your good health gave me greater joy than my own rude writing can express, wherefore I humbly thank your Majesty for your memory of me. As for that which I carry in my belly, I declare it to be alive, and with great humility thank God for His great goodness shown to me, praying Him so to guide the fruit of my womb that it may contribute to His glory and honour, and give happiness to the King, my Lord and your son, to your Majesty, who were my second father in the lifetime of my own father, and are therefore doubly my father, and lastly that it may prove a blessing to this realm. I will now end this letter, fearing to molest your Majesty.
Holograph. French
Vienna, Staatsarchiv, E.1.
131. Simon Renard to the Emperor
london, 21 decemeber Sire: As I have heard that the King has sent to your Majesty the Act by the Parliament of England on obedience to the Pope and the apostolic see, I have taken no steps to obtain and send a copy. Since that event, on the Sunday following, the King attended mass at St. Paul's, in presence of Cardinal Pole. After mass, the Chancellor preached in the pulpit outside the church, and was listened to by a multitude of people that overflowed both church and churchyard, as well as by the King and Cardinal. He explained to the people what Parliament had done, and publicly confessed the error into which fear of the late King Henry had led him when he went to Rome and gave his consent to the rejection of the Papal authority, as he set forth in his book on true obedience. No overt sign of displeasure was observed on his listeners' faces, but rather of joy and satisfaction at seeing the King and Cardinal and hearing about the reconciliation. When the sermon was over, the King and Cardinal returned to Westminster, accompanied by the English nobility and the King's guards, a fine sight to see. Since then Parliament has been discussing several bills, among them one confirming the titles of holders of church property, which the English lawyers asserted to be unnecessary because since the earliest times the Kings of England have held absolute and immediate jurisdiction over church lands. The holders, however, desired to be reassured, which caused a difficulty in that Parliament wished the dispensation to be included in the statute on obedience to the Pope, and the Cardinal would not have this, lest it should seem that the realm's obedience had been bought, though he was willing to agree that the dispensation should be included in two other acts or statutes. This difficulty proved so serious that the Cardinal declared he would go back to Rome without having accomplished that for which he came rather than make a concession so prejudicial to the rights of the holy see; whereupon the King approached the Privy Council and certain private individuals with a view to persuading them to accept the concession of two statutes on some other controversial point. No decision has yet been reached, but it is hoped that Parliament will arrange matters. Moreover, several of the members of the Lower House who possess no church property, influenced by envy of the holders, political passion or conscientious scruples, have moved that no dispensation be granted, the question thus being left to the holders' consciences; but they will not prevail, because of the promise the King and Queen have given to obtain the dispensation.
Another bill has been brought forward, a measure for the punishment of heretics that had already been through Parliament under Henry IV and Richard II. The Lower House passed it without difficulty, but there is some opposition in the Upper, because the jurisdiction of bishops is once more established by it, and the penalties appear too heavy; but it is thought that a majority will be found to support it.
Yet another bill, of which a copy (fn. 1) is here inclosed, has passed the Upper House, but intrigues in the Lower succeeded in throwing it out and having a different measure adopted in its stead, which is to be sent up once more to the House of Lords. It was suspected that the bill had been devised by wicked authors to an evil end, with the object of reversing the provisions of the marriage-treaty as to the succession to the hurt of the King and the realm. A member called Pollard, (fn. 2) who was Speaker of the last Parliament, protested vehemently that the realm had a debt of gratitude toward the King, to serve whom was his object, and that the bill contained some obscure matter. Then one Brown, a lawyer, spoke to the same purpose, and their opinion prevailed. Baker, (fn. 3) a Treasury official, was of opinion that the Upper House ought to be consulted before a new bill was framed, but the majority went against him and the new measure, containing three heads, was passed. The first article is designed to provide for the safety of the King, Queen and their heirs; and the second stipulates that the guardianship of the heirs shall always remain in the hands of the King because it is his due by civil law, because of the abuses committed by recent protectors and of other considerations of importance to the realm. And if the King is absent, he may name whom he chooses to act in his stead. The third article states that if the Queen dies without issue, the King's person shall be guarded with all honour as long as he is pleased to remain in England, and that any man who conspires or directs any act of violence against him shall be guilty of high treason. Some private members proposed that in case of the Queen's death without issue the King should remain absolute sovereign for life, but this was not adopted. The bill has been submitted to the King and Queen and is soon to be sent up to the House of Lords. It appears to have been devised because several persons who backed Courtenay last year were still trying to obtain (the succession to) the crown for him, especially as the Chancellor has insisted on the Lady Elizabeth being declared a bastard during this session, and on having the bill recast for that purpose. However one may look at it, this bill from the Lower House is a good measure, especially because of the manner in which it institutes the King perpetual guardian (of his children) and enables him to leave them in whose hands he pleases in case of his own absence. As for the declaration of bastardy, it does not seem wise to attempt to get it through during this session, for besides the fact that it is almost superfluous, it would certainly arouse opposition in the country, and the King means only to bring forward popular measures.
The bill for the punishment of heretics has passed the Upper Chamber, a most notable event and of good promise. The holidays arc so near that members have been forbidden to scatter, and the session is to be continued when they are over.
Last Tuesday the foot tournament arranged some time since took place, and was so gallantly carried out that both assailants and defenders reaped high praise. The King very successfully took part in one of the bands.
I am omitting to mention to your Majesty certain matters about which the King has fuller information than I possess.
Signed. French.
Vienna, Staatsarchiv, E.22.
Printed by Weiss, Documents Inédits, Vol. IV, from a mutilated minute at Besançon (C.G.73).
Copy of a bill rejected by the House of Commons, inclosed in the above despatch.
Any person who, after January 20 next, shall of malice aforethought utter words or expressions with the object of deposing the King's or the Queen's Majesty or the heirs of their body, born of the imperial crown of this realm, or of destroying the King, or of making warfare within the kingdom against the King, Queen or any of their heirs; or shall of malice aforethought assert in words that any other person or persons than the King, Queen and their heirs ought by right to be King or Queen of this realm, or possess and enjoy the same, shall be punished, etc.
Any person or persons who, after January 20 next, shall by writing or printing or any overt act or deed plot or plan the death of him who is now King, or by writing or printing or any overt act or deed affirm that any other person or persons than the King and Queen's Majesty and their aforesaid heirs ought by right to be King or Queen of this realm, or possess and enjoy the same, shall be punished, etc.
132. Juan Vazquez de Molina to Philip (Extract)
Valladolid, 22 December After Antonio de Eguino had been sent off with the reports on finance and other papers, a courier arrived with your Majesty's letters of November 9 and 24. Her Highness (i.e. Doña Juana, Princess Dowager of Portugal, Regent of Spain) and all of us were exceedingly happy to know that the Emperor and your Majesty were well, the Queen pregnant and religious affairs making such remarkable progress. May Our Lord be praised for it, and may He be pleased to guide events in accordance with your desires! It will be greatly to your Majesty's glory to have achieved such a success in connexion with religious matters, which were in so grievous a condition; greatly also to your advantage and England's benefit, and perhaps the starting point for a general reformation of all the ills from which Christendom is suffering. As this gentleman is going by land, her Highness and I wished to send a few lines to inform your Majesty that your letters had arrived. . . . . .
Holograph. Spanish.
Simancas, E.103.
133. Antonio Maria di Savoia to the Bishop of Arras
Canterbury, 25 December The Duke has told me to write to you again to-day and that he will give me a letter for you to be sent with mine. His Highness will tell you of our wanderings, so I will not be prolix, but will only say that we were twenty hours at sea between Calais and Dover, for the wind, which was favourable when we set sail, soon veered round and blew from the wrong quarter. All his Highness's company were rather dead than alive except the Duke, who did not suffer much, and myself who ministered to the rest for I did not feel the sea at all, though I did feel hunger and cold. At Dover we found my Lord Warden, who received his Highness in the King's and Queen's name with salutes of artillery and such demonstrations of kindness that he brought us all back to life. We reached our quarters, weak with cold, hunger and lack of sleep; and there we warmed ourselves, dined and slept. The Lord Warden carried his Highness and his attendants off to dine at Dover Castle, where they were regaled at the Queen's expense. The next day, yesterday, we set forth and arrived at this place where his Highness was welcomed by twelve old men clothed in scarlet from head to foot with a stole of black velvet over their shoulders and falling to the knees. There were also many instruments of music, and thus his Highness was accompanied to his lodging. When he had dismissed them, my Lord Warden appeared and led him to a stately feast at his quarters, and to-day the same thing happens. I am now going to see whether his Highness has written his letter, and then will come back and finish this; but in the meantime I will tell you that his Highness does not mean to depart from this place to-day, but I am going to ride on to see to it that horses and other things are ready for the journey. From London I will send you a minute account.
Since writing the above I have accompanied his Highness to mass, and on the way he told me that he had not yet written, but would do so this evening. He also said that he did not wish me to go on before, but to send my servants, only keeping one back; so that is what I am doing. His Highness went to mass at the cathedral with the Lord Warden who was wearing the Order of St. George, whilst the Duke wore the Golden Fleece, St. George and the Garter. The Lord Warden had given instructions to have a closed dossal hung up in (the chancel of) the church; his Highness however would not have it left closed. His company were seated on benches upholstered with cushions, etc.
At mass, prayers were said for the King and Queen, and then a special prayer composed by the Bishop of Winchester to implore God to grant the Queen a happy delivery. They tell me this prayer is now said at every mass in this island. After the service we went to dine with the Lord Warden, and solemn toasts were drunk by all the noblemen present. We are now setting forth to hunt the deer with hounds and harquebuses in a royal park. The Duke does nothing but exclaim in a loud voice: “I am a great friend of M. d'Arras, and much obliged to him: and I wish everyone to know it.” So now I will make an end.
Holograph. Italian.
Vienna, Staatsarchiv, E.V.5
134. The Emperor to Don Juan Manrique de Lara (Extract)
Brussels, 31 December. On the 10th instant a letter, which you will have received ere now, was sent to you, and we are to-day writing to deal with your letters, of which the last one received was dated the 11th of this month. First of all, we wish to thank you for the zeal and tact with which you procured ampler powers for Cardinal Pole. His Beatitude's goodwill is clearly proved by the despatch we received, which is far better and more complete than we had asked him to make it; so when you thank him with all due expressions of gratitude, you may tell him that it has produced the effect aimed at by his holy mind, assuring him that our main purpose shall ever be to support him and the holy see's authority, as our actions shall always prove.
You will also thank his Holiness for the affection towards us he displayed by promptly despatching the investiture, in spite of the disappointment he felt at the time because of what his agents in Sicily reported about the (corn) trade. There is a very great scarcity of corn in that kingdom, as you in Rome will have heard, and indeed the present supply is hardly sufficient for home consumption and seed; but nonetheless a letter has been written ordering the Viceroy to do his utmost to satisfy his Holiness. We desire you to present our thanks to Cardinals Puteo and Cigala for all the trouble they have taken with regard to the investiture and other matters in which we are interested. As you suggest, we will be careful to seize an early opportunity of rewarding them. We will also remember the service of Varengo and others, and also of the excellent auditor, Antonio Augustin . . . .
We have considered what Cardinal Morone and yourself have written about coming to terms with Duke Ottavio (Farnese) and his brothers, as well as the Pope's proposal and the letter which the Cardinal of Sigüenza was requested by Cardinal Farnese to write to us. Don Francisco de Toledo has already served as our intermediary in discussing with the Duke and the Duchess, our daughter; moreover, he has all the necessary instructions and powers and will be able to count on the help of the Duke of Florence, so we intend to write again to him setting forth our pleasure, which is to refuse to consider the restitution of Piacenza or the Sienese proposal, but to be more liberal with compensations, as you will hear from him in detail. You will forward the inclosed letter to Cardinal Morone, and tell him that we are well aware of the zeal and enlightened judgment he has shown in this matter, giving him our sincere thanks for his affection and assuring him that we will not be found ungrateful . . . .
Copy. Spanish.
Simancas, E.508.
135. Simon Renard to Philip.
December (fn. 4) Sire: During the holidays, Secretary Petre, the Queen's Controller, and Inglefield came to see me at my house and told me that a bill (fn. 5) touching your Majesty's and the Queen's security had been passed by the Upper House and sent down to the Lower, which had considered several points in it to be obscure. As Parliament had been instituted in order to enact measures for the good government of the realm, and every member had a right freely to speak his mind, several of them had thought it their duty to clear up this obscurity in a manner conducive to the honour and welfare of the kingdom and your Majesties. Certain of their number had therefore been deputed to draft another bill, and they had done so in writing, but before placing it before Parliament they had shown it to the Queen, who wished to have it looked over by me, since I had some knowledge of the marriage treaty between your Majesties, the provisions of which they said they had followed as closely as possible. In obedience to the Queen's wishes, then, they had come and were ready to report to me the substance of the bill, which was in English and very long. I replied that, though I was a foreigner, and your Majesty did not desire his subjects and servants to busy themselves with the labours of Parliament, as the Queen ordered me to do so I would be glad to listen to their account of the measure. First came a long preamble about Parliament's duty to your Majesty, in fulfilment of which they had deemed it necessary to enact penalties against all who might by word or deed, directly or indirectly, be guilty of any attempt against your Majesties while the marriage endured, or against your Majesty in case the Queen predeceased you and you were pleased to tarry a while in the realm.
The object of the second article, as the Queen is with child, is to settle the question of the guardianship of any issue God may be pleased to give her. They explained that, in their opinion, no more faithful or affectionate guardian than your Majesty could be appointed, for you would be the heirs' father and had shown such great love and regard for the realm, and would be certain to ward off all the misfortunes associated with the names of other protectors of recent memory.
As for the first point, they had made it more explicit than it had been in the bill that had passed the Upper House.
As for the second, they had appointed your Majesty to be governor of the heirs to the Crown, and either in person or through your delegate or delegates to control them until they reached the age of 18 years, with the restrictions, adopted from the marriage articles, that during the term of your guardianship your Majesty might not place foreigners in English offices, convoke Parliament except with the assent of six earls, six bishops and six barons of the realm, or send England to war on account of any dispute unless you obtained the approval of the said six earls, six bishops and six barons. I replied that the first bill had seemed obscure because of certain words the full meaning of which was explained by the marriage treaty and by a special act passed by Parliament during its last session and stipulating that as long as the marriage endured your Majesty was to enjoy the honour and style always accorded to Kings of England. This it was to which the words of the bill referred; and your Majesty's intention had ever been most scrupulously to observe the marriage treaty.
Now, this second point seemed obscure in several respects, for no mention was made of the kingdom, but only of personal guardianship, and all law, English as well as any other, recognised in the father the proper guardian of his children, were they heirs to the Crown or merely private individuals, and would not have any other tutor or administrator provided during the lifetime of the father, who moreover ought to have the management of the property, of which no mention whatever had been made. This article, consequently, seemed to be in the nature of a declaratory act rather than anything necessary.
The lords whose consent was to be obtained for the convocation of Parliament had not been named, and it would prove difficult to choose them to the country's satisfaction unless your Majesty had the authority to select them given to you.
No mention was made of a defensive war, but only of an offensive, and before the eighteen persons had been called together it might be necessary to act in order to repel a sudden invasion; wherefore such a condition might serve to encourage the enemies of the realm to attack it. I had mentioned several difficulties, I said, not that I wished to set my visitors right or interfere, but merely in order to request them to give a thought to these matters. Provided your Majesty's authority were safeguarded there was no reason why the articles should not stand as they were. Let Parliament meet and legislate for the good of the realm, and I was quite sure it would meet with no opposition from your Majesty, but even if none of these conditions were laid down, your intention was by no means to neglect to consult the leading men of the country as to any question that might involve it in war.
Your Majesty will consider that when these men came to me I was guarded in my words to them in order not to let them suspect that I had seen the first bill, or desired to combat their deliberations or influence Parliament's liberty of decision. My object was to find out the aim of the bill, for I remembered having heard from the Duke of Alva and Ruy Gómez that it stipulated more conditions than had at first been said, and also there are passages in the marriage capitulations more or less in the same sense as this bill, especially where it speaks of causing England to take part in the present war. Our talk was so summary that 1 was unable to find out all I wanted, and I have since tried in vain to obtain a copy of the bill. Secretary Petre burned a memoir in Latin which he began but refused to leave with me.
My attempts to discover who was responsible for the bill, who had drafted it, in what mood it had been conceived and whether it contained anything else resulted in the discovery of yet another condition: your Majesty may not arrange marriages for the heir or heirs to the Crown without obtaining the consent of the said eighteen persons. Now, it is true that the marriage articles lay it down that your Majesty may not remove the heirs except by the consent of some of the first men of the realm, but as some of those who have had a share in framing this bill are rather French partisans than Imperialists, such conditions might do more harm than good, afford an opening for French intrigue and frustrate you of the chief hope the marriage is now holding out.
I have talked with several members of the Upper House with a view to finding out what they think of the bill in its altered form. They tell me that the Lords will throw it out, partly in order to contradict the Commons, partly because they do not desire to see certain of their members, who are aspiring to the administration (i.e. in case of a minority) invested with that honour, and partly because they do not wish to recognise in the Lower House a right to take a decision in a matter which appears to them to belong to the Privy Council.
I hear that the Chancellor had knowledge of the bill, and that he is resentful because your Majesty only communicates affairs to him when they have already been settled. His mind is made up constantly to serve your Majesties, whatever orders you may give him, and never to exceed your instructions; but he fears that his enemies have made an impression on your Majesty's mind with a view to revenge themselves upon him and deprive him of his post, and he is aware that several of them are bent upon creating factions in Parliament and thus perturbing the realm.
I learn that intriguers are already trying to make up parties in case there were to be trouble. This is a dangerous matter, for people are arming.
The wranglings in the Lower House were caused by attempts to defeat the dispensation accorded to holders of Church property, and lawyers have been suborned to combat it on the ground of Crown rights. Unless God and your Majesties provide a remedy, Parliament may fall a prey to dissension, which might end badly.
Your Majesty will be pleased to consider that there are clashing humours, aims and interests, that some sections of public opinion favour Courtenay and the Lady Elizabeth and that certain members of the Lower House fear to see certain peers get the government into their hands.
I am told that when the news came out that the Upper House had passed the bill about your Majesty's security, certain persons began to intrigue with members of the Commons to have it defeated. They have apparently met with some success, though the object in view seems not so much to serve any good purpose as to split up opinion in Parliament and prevent the Lady Elizabeth from being declared a bastard.
It is being said that the first article of this bill was devised in order to injure your Majesties' prospects and that its authors are not devoted to the Queen.
Report has it that your Majesty is shortly to leave England. The heretics are building on your absence.
I hear that the Queen has been informed that your Majesty purposes soon to go to Flanders, and means to depart before her delivery, about which she is greatly distressed, fearing for her life and her child's if you go before she is confined.
Were your Majesty able to obtain a copy of the bill passed by the Commons, so that we might see its tenor and the English text, we should easily succeed in discovering the true situation and might devise a remedy.
Your Majesty understands that the Emperor would not have the question of the guardianship of minor heirs dealt with in the marriage-articles, but wished to have it left to be decided by common law, which the English say does not apply to heirs to the Crown. However that may be, some solution must be arrived at in order to obviate future trouble.
Your Majesty will consider how necessary it is that Parliament should end without any tumult or disorder, that efforts should be made to establish a good understanding with the English and that a thought should be had for the future.
Vienna, E.5.


  • 1. See the following paper.
  • 2. Presumably Sir John Pollard.
  • 3. Sir John Baker was Chancellor of the First Fruits and Tenths.
  • 4. This paper is undated, but its contents place it at the very end of December, 1554, or in the first days of January, 1555.
  • 5. See p. 126.