Spain: January 1555

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

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'Spain: January 1555', in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 13, 1554-1558, (London, 1954) pp. 131-137. British History Online [accessed 1 March 2024]

January 1555

136. The Bishop of Arras to Simon Renard
Brussels, 5. January. The last letters I received from you were dated the 21st of last month and came together with those of his Majesty. Please excuse me if I have not written to you these last days because of lack of time and press of business.
Ruy Gòmez has been here and thinks that you imagine that he, personally and by letters, is reporting to his Majesty. However, it seems to me to be advisable that you should continue as in the past sending your reports, which have greatly helped us to understand all Ruy Gómez has been instructed to tell us about English affairs. Parliament will soon be over, and I expect you will send me the acts passed by it. I have already received their reply concerning the authority of the Pope. I thank you heartily for this, as also for the two blood-hound bitches, the great greyhound and two puppies you sent me. (fn. 1) They are very fine dogs. I am sending the two bloodhound bitches to Burgundy in order that we may breed from them. I am ashamed of the great number you have already sent me, and do not dare to remind you of the house-dog which you mentioned in one of your letters.
The principal reason for Ruy Gómez's coming was to inform his Majesty about the state of affairs in England and especially to explain that the King, our lord and prince, cannot come so soon, because as you say in your letters it is necessary that he should prepare for the execution of the decisions of Parliament, before leaving. He also raised the question of the grants for Italy which had been decided in principle before he arrived but not given effect to for lack of money. Eraso negotiated this, as it is a matter concerning his duties, and he is leaving in a day or two for further financial negotiations. Ruy Gòmez may be returning to England shortly bearing messages about Naples and Milan and also the matter of Don Fernando Gonzaga. He will also mention the time of the King's coming hither. As he will relate what we have heard of the state of affairs in Italy, I will not say any more on that topic except that the loss of Ivrea is very unfortunate and a menace for the Val d'Aosta, and that the same may be said of the loss of Masino and Crescentino if the news we have received on the subject from Don Fernando are true. We have not had these news from any other source. If the French had made straight for Novara they would have given us a still greater shock.
As for the umbrage said over there to have been caused by some misunderstanding concerning the management of affairs in Italy, that is all over now because the King has heard the truth. But I thank you cordially for having told me about this.
M. de Luxeuil (fn. 2) arrived here the first of this month to answer statements made by his adversaries. Your brother came with him in connection with the dispute between the chapter and citizens of Besançon over the action of Archdeacon Perrot and his advisers in the town-hall.
On the feast of the Epiphany, at 7 o'clock in the morning, Councillor Veltwick (fn. 3) died quite suddenly, without its being realised that he was dangerously ill. After his death, I proposed to the Queen and M. de Praet that you should succeed him. Two objections were raised: one, that you suffered from the gout, wherefore it was feared that you would not be able to get up at all hours of the day and night whenever the Queen might summon you; the other, that you do not know Flemish. As to the first point, I remonstrated that you did not often suffer from attacks, and added that the Queen must put up with those who serve her, if she wishes to keep them longer than she has been able to keep those who have been about her so far. As for the Flemish language, I said I remembered that you acquired a reasonable knowledge of it when I was a student at Louvain, or at any rate that you understood it, so that I hoped that with a little practice you would become more fluent. I do not know what they will decide, but at any rate I wished to do my duty in this matter towards our master and yourself.
I had almost forgotten to tell you that Ruy Gómez is of our opinion in the matter of an embassy which our Prince would like to send to certain princes of the Empire in order to gain their good will. He also agrees with us about the reply sent to us by M. de Vaudémont on peace negotiations, which means that they take back what M. de Vaudémont had proposed about a marriage between the Infante Don Carlos and the eldest daughter of the King of France, on which condition each side should give up what it has occupied, not at once but only after the marriage had been consummated. This will show you what the French are aiming at. Also, they want Milan for the second son of the King, whom they would marry with one of the daughters of the King of the Romans, restoring Savoy and part of Piedmont to the Duke on his marriage with the Lady Margaret of France. They say they would give back what they hold of Empire lands if the Emperor were willing to restore to them that which they say he is occupying of theirs.
Signed. French.
Besançon C.G.73.
Printed by Weiss. Vol. IV.
137. Simon Renard to the Emperor
London, 12 January. Sire: The French Ambassador's brother returned again from France last Monday. On Wednesday, he had audience of the Queen in the Ambassador's presence. He congratulated the Queen on the re-establishment of the Church's authority and the execution of the Legate's commission, stating that his master had been very glad of the news for the sake of the Christian commonwealth. He then thanked the Queen for the goodwill she had displayed in the interests of a peace between your Majesty and the King his master; for although she was married to your Majesty's son, he has complete confidence in her will to promote peace, which he hopes to obtain thanks to her only. The King of France would never regard her with suspicion if she wished to concern herself with this matter. He had been glad of the efforts made in that direction by the Cardinal of Lorraine and the Constable. He does not appear to have gone beyond such general statements. I hear he brought letters from the Cardinal of Lorraine and the Constable to Legate Pole and the Chancellor. As the Chancellor saw that he was entering into no details but appeared to leave all that to Cardinal Pole, who had been to France on this same business, he became more guarded and concluded that this last move was merely a feint to facilitate the entry of the King of France's forces into Piedmont. Thus his (the French Ambassador's brother's) goings and comings are suspicious. From what I hear day by day he is plotting with Elizabeth and is once more trying to bring about a marriage between her and Courtenay, and also to see whether some treasonable practises can be started with the English where Flanders is concerned. Some people say that he is trying to foment a revolt of the heretics after the King's departure.
Since I last wrote, the act on religion and the Church's authority has been passed to the satisfaction of Cardinal Pole, but not without great difficulty conjured up by the English lawyers, thanks to heretic intrigues.
The Bill on the security of the realm and its administration is still being discussed. The members of the Lower House intend to beg the King to accept the duty of acting as protector of his children in the line of succession, to observe the treaties during the lifetime of his children and not involve the realm in the current wars. Yesterday, several members of the two Houses were chosen to draw up the act in suitable form and in terms appropriate to the authority and reputation of the King. Once this has been done, Parliament will break up.
I enclose a copy (missing) of the result of my negotiations with the Controller. I gave a copy to the King, and need say no more on this subject.
The old Duchess of Suffolk (fn. 4) has escaped to Germany, having first sold as much of her property as she could. I hear that many heretics will follow her.
I have been informed that the French have an understanding with some members of the garrison of Gravelines Castle, and that M. de Vendôme has been at pains to find out all he can about this fortress.
I hear that the French are fitting out several men-of-war and are causing it to be repeated that their object is to send troops to Scotland to support the intrigues of certain subjects of that kingdom who wish to rise. It is to be feared that under the pretext of sending troops to Scotland they may waylay some of your Majesty's vessels off Calais. An individual who says he comes from Bruges has addressed himself to me. He states that he left St. Germain on New Year's eve and that d'Arbois, the Constable's secretary, is a relative of his wife; and that if your Majesty so desired use could be made of him. He said the French were sending ten thousand men to Scotland. But as it seems to me that he is a double spy, I have left him without an answer until I can speak with the Duke of Alva about him and see what had better be done where he is concerned.
I have information that the English nobility is becoming disaffected, but I do not know on what grounds, or any other details.
Signed. French.
Vienna, E.22.
138. Philip to the Count of Mélito (fn. 5)
London, 15 January. Another letter is being sent with this one in reply to all those received hitherto from you. The object of this present letter is only to send you a detailed account which we have had drawn up of everything that has occurred in the restoration of the subjects of this kingdom to the obedience of the Holy Roman Church, which has been accomplished with the assent of all and repentance for past errors, for all of which may Our Lord be praised! We have rendered Him infinite thanks for His mercy and rejoice over this occurrence as you may imagine. We know you will receive the news in the same spirit, faithful minister of his Majesty that you are, and devoted to our service. Therefore we have wished to give you a full account of it all, in order that you should communicate it to the inhabitants of the city and kingdom where you reside and that you may cause processions to be held together with such demonstrations of joy as the occasion merits, and that thanks may be rendered to Our Lord for the happy outcome He has been pleased to give to this undertaking, which has been greater and speedier than human understanding could have hoped for, for which may He be praised!
Endorsed: to the Count of Mélito, our cousin, Lieutenant and Captain General of His Majesty in the Kingdom of Aragon.
Signed. Spanish.
Simancas, E.809.
139. Simon Renard to the Emperor
London, 17 January. Sire: Parliament rose yesterday, having disposed of the two points I mentioned in my last letters to your Majesty. Both Houses reached agreement on these points, which gives ground to hope that the new acts will be put into effect. True it is that several lords and important personages of the realm did not attend Parliament, having obtained leave of absence on various pleas: some on account of illness, others of private business. Among them are the Earl of Arundel, the Earl of Pembroke, the Earl of Westmorland, the Earl of Cumberland, Lord Dacre and several others who were not present at the discussion as to who was to be guardian of the heirs to the Crown. Several persons have said that the above-named stayed away in order not to give their consent to a measure infringing upon the right hitherto exercised by the nobility to appoint a protector when need has arisen and when no provision has been made by the King or the Queen. But as Parliament passed the measure, their presence was not required.
The Legate is urging the Queen to release the Church property at present held by the Crown. She has already agreed to give up money amounting to over 60,000 crowns of revenue. As to the rest, she has not yet made up her mind.
Certain bishops have sued Parliament to be reinstated in property formerly belonging to their bishoprics. But their suits have been thrown out, as they run counter to the dispensation granted by the Pope.
On Monday, the Legate sent the Abbot of San Saluto (fn. 6) to inform me that the French Ambassador and his brother had called upon him and had delivered letters addressed to him by the Queen of France, the Cardinal of Lorraine and the Constable. They reverted to the peace talk which they had already held to the Chancellor, declaring that the King was so inclined, and repeating the general phrases that had been used by the Ambassador's brother on his first journey, without entering into any detail except that the King desired that peace commissioners should be appointed, and a meeting-place in neutral territory be chosen. The Legate stated that for his part he did not wish to have anything to do with so delicate a matter without your Majesty's knowledge. He had always desired to carry out this point of his instructions, but he did not wish to go farther than your Majesty would have him go. He had told the King and Queen so, and requested me to say the same if I were spoken to on the subject. The following day I called upon him at his lodgings. He repeated to me what the Abbot of San Saluto had said. I replied that I would inform your Majesty, and that if the King and Queen mentioned the matter to me I would assure them of his goodwill. I thought I had better not omit to report this, although I suppose that the King will already have informed your Majesty.
I have received further confirmation that the French Ambassador's brother is intriguing here in favour of the Lady Elizabeth, with a view to having her set at liberty and to inciting the heretics to revolt and to indispose the English towards the Spaniards. Courtenay's partisans are putting it about that the Frenchmen's object is to help Courtenay and to win over the Legate and Chancellor to his side. Be that as it may, I discover daily more evidence showing that there is something in all this. It is already beginning to show in the way the English talk and act. I have warned the King and several members of the Council and have spoken a word on the subject to the Legate.
Several persons have been arrested, who had been holding nightly meetings and heretic rites, praying for the said Elizabeth's freedom and prosperity. Writings have been found in several public places praying God to deliver Elizabeth soon from her captivity.
The taking of Ivrea and Masino, and the designs attributed to the French on Milan together with their intrigues in Genoa, are affecting minds of people over here to the point of making them doubt whether these ills can be remedied.
Signed. French.
Vienna, E.22.
140. Mary to the Emperor
Westminster, 18 January My Lord, as the bearer, Señor Ruy Gómez, is returning to your Majesty's Court on business entrusted to him by my Lord and good husband, I do not wish to lose such an opportunity to commend myself to you most humbly and pay you my respects in this brief letter. I assure your Majesty that I am unable to express in writing the great joy and comfort I experienced on hearing you were in good health. As my own physical condition is not what it used to be, I am obliged to close this letter, humbly praying your Majesty to excuse me for not having written as often as my duty would have bound me to do, although my will was always ready, if only my physical condition had permitted. Thus I will leave it to the said Señor Ruy Gómez to give you fuller news of my kingdom and my affairs.
Holograph, written in a trembling hand. French.
Vienna, E.I.
141. Simon Renard to the Emperor
London, 19 January Sire: Legate Pole is sending over to your Majesty the Abbot of San Saluto, the bearer of this letter, to impart the result of his recent negotiations with the Ambassador of the King of France and his brother, on the subject of peace, to ascertain whether your Majesty is willing that commissioners should meet in a neutral place to discuss peace-terms, as the French demand, and whether your Majesty is agreeable to the Legate's continuing to occupy himself with this matter. He (Pole) only wishes to do what your Majesty considers for the best. If you are inclined to appoint commissioners, the Abbot has instructions to proceed to France on the same errand. The Legate considers that he cannot abandon the cause, because of his regard for the public weal and the instructions he has received from his Holiness. Moreover, he knows that the King has sent a courier about this affair. As he informed me of his intention, I was unwilling to fail to inform your Majesty. I know that your Majesty will consider the French lack of faith, proved over and over again, and will leave nothing undone to oppose their plans for continuing the war. The intrigues they are conducting in Germany and Italy show their true colours and there is no ground for hope that the Legate's initiative will lead to peace. Your Majesty will decide for the best.
I am only waiting for the King's leave to withdraw, as your Majesty has been pleased to consent to my recall.
Signed. French.
Vienna, E.22.
142. The Princess Regent of Spain to Philip
Valladolid, 19 January Since I wrote the letters which your Highness will have received, taken by Contador (fn. 7) Antonio de Eguino, I have had your letters dated November 4 and 8. I Highness's hands for the detailed account you give me of what is happening in England and of the hopeful prospects for religion and all the rest. I also rejoice to hear of the good health of my Lord the Emperor, although a letter which he sent me by land on 29 November gave the same tidings, for which God be praised as well as for the good health He has been pleased to give you and to the Queen, my Lady and sister! May He be pleased so to continue and to lighten your Highness's path, as I desire. There have also arrived letters from England dated November 28, brought by the same courier, saying that the religious question was now decided and obedience to the Pope once more established. God grant that it may be so, as this affair is of such great importance for the peace and welfare of that kingdom (England), to your Highness's greater glory. I therefore beg you to keep me informed . . . (Spanish affairs).
Signed. Spanish.
Simancas, E.109.
143. Cardinal Pole to the Emperor
London, 19 January Now that Our Lord, by the intermediary of the King and Queen of England, has united this kingdom with Himself and His Church, using myself for this purpose, according to the first instructions given me by his Holiness, I am in greater hopes that He may also be pleased to grant to Christendom the advantage of a peace between your Majesty and the King of France, in which I also have orders to employ myself. I have begun this task by writing to the King (of France) from whose Ambassador here I have received the reply which your Majesty will deign to hear from the Abbot of San Saluto, whom I am sending to you, begging you to listen to him with your usual benevolence. I pray that Our Lord may open the way to a matter that would be of such great benefit for the whole of Christendom, and that He may long preserve your Majesty for the benefit of the world in general.
Signed. Italian.
Simancas, E.809.
144. The Queen Dowager to M. de Courrières (fn. 8)
Brussels, 24 January The Emperor, having learnt that a number of sectarians and other refugees from England had been agitating in the neighborhood of La Lève and Armentières, has sent instructions to M. Jacques Hessele, Lieutenant General of Flanders, to conduct an inquiry on the spot with a view to discovering whether this is true. The inquiry has taken place, and several guilty persons and heretics have been arrested, and others have taken flight. Our cousin the Princess of Gavre, Lady of Armentières, has complained of the proceedings, arguing that she was competent to act in this matter.
However, as this affair has been discussed both in my presence and in his Majesty's Privy Council, and as a full report has been made to his Majesty, he has decided that in the circumstances and for various good reasons, you and other officers of the government of Lille should remain competent to deal with this question. He therefore has ordered the public prosecutor to proceed at once to Lille to confer with the appropriate official there and to inform him of all relevant details. Wherefore you, as governor of Lille, or your lieutenant in your place, are at once to meet the prosecutors at Armentières and thence conduct the prisoners to the prisons at Lille, after which you will proceed against them as his Majesty's proclamations direct.
Having carried out these instructions, you will gather as much information as you can obtain against these prisoners and all other suspects, acting with all due prudence and discretion. You will then conduct the trials as quickly as possible and will also act against those who have fled and any officers of the law of Armentières who may be open to suspicion as heretics.
His Majesty has reason to fear that the evil seed of heresy may have been sown in still other places, and that if investigations are conducted refugees from England will also be discovered there. I therefore order you to proceed in this matter with the greatest diligence and to see to it that your officers acquit themselves in such a manner that the trouble occurring in other countries may be avoided in your province, and that heresy may not multiply there.
Draft. French.
Brussels, R.A.P.13.
145. Pope Julius III to Philip (Abstract)
Rome, 27 January It is an ancient custom of the Roman Pontiffs to bless on Christmas Eve a sword in a silver sheath and a cap with a representation of a dove woven into it, and to send them to Christian princes who have deserved well of the Roman Church and the Christian commonwealth. The Pope complied with this custom on the foregoing feast of Christmas, and now sends to Philip the sword and the cap, duly blessed by him, together with a golden rose, a gift to Queen Mary, by Antonio Agostino, his Nuncio. (fn. 9)
Signed: Binus. Latin.
Simancas, E.882.
146. Pope Julius III to the Emperor (Abstract)
Rome, 31 January The Pope is sending Antonio Agostino, Auditor, to congratulate the King and Queen of England, and has instructed him to pay his respects to the Emperor on his way and to deliver certain messages.
Signed. Italian.
Simancas, E.882.


  • 1. The Louvre has a portrait by Sir Anthony Mor (Moro) of Cardinal Granvelle's dwarf, standing beside a large blood-hound.
  • 2. François Bonvalot, Abbé de Luxeuil (Weiss).
  • 3. Gerard Veltwick, first secretary and later councillor. He was a celebrated linguist, and had been sent on two missions to Turkey (in 1545 and 1546) to negotiate a truce (Weiss). This letter appears to have been written over several days, as it is dated 5 January and deals with happenings on 6 January and after.
  • 4. Catherine, Duchess Dowager of Suffolk “and Bartue, her husband.” See Acts of the Privy Council, 1554–15 56, entry for 18 Sept., 1555, p. 180.
  • 5. The Count of Mélito, at this time, was Don Diego de Mendoza. Ruy Gómez de Silva, who in 1552 married Don Diego's daughter, Dona Ana (born 1540, later celebrated as Princess of Eboli), assumed the title of Count of Mélito when his father-in-law was created a duke. Indeed he seems to have been known by it, even before that event.
  • 6. Vincenzo Parpaglia, Abbot of San Salvatore, Turin.
  • 7. An official of the Spanish treasury.
  • 8. Jehan de Montmorency, Sieur de Courrières, formerly Ambassador in England. (See Spanish Calendar, Vols. XI and XII.)
  • 9. Antonio Agostino, Bishop of Lérida.