Spain: May 1555, 26-31

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

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'Spain: May 1555, 26-31', in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 13, 1554-1558, ed. Royall Tyler( London, 1954), British History Online [accessed 13 July 2024].

'Spain: May 1555, 26-31', in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 13, 1554-1558. Edited by Royall Tyler( London, 1954), British History Online, accessed July 13, 2024,

"Spain: May 1555, 26-31". Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 13, 1554-1558. Ed. Royall Tyler(London, 1954), , British History Online. Web. 13 July 2024.

May 1555, 26–31

200. The Peace Commissioners to the Emperor
Gravelines, 27 May Sire: We reached the meeting place yesterday, a little late, thinking thus to give the French time to get there first, for the same reasons as before. They arrived early, so that they were there almost as soon as the English delegation, who immediately took them to the Legate for a long conference. As soon as the Frenchmen had left, the Englishmen came for us and led us to the Legate, whereupon the Chancellor told us that he had done his best to find out what the French had in mind, especially on the point on which they had said they would reflect. But by way of reply, they started again on the subject of Milan, stubbornly justifying their claim to it, and going so far as to exhibit the investitures, which they had brought with them. They said that if that concerning Hagenau was to some extent in your Majesty's favour, in connexion with the marriage that had once been planned between you and the late Queen Claude, the other was perfectly clear and debarred all other claims that might be put forward. Therefore, they could not abandon their right to it. If the Treaty of Crépy was put forward, that treaty had been concluded with the late King and the present King had never confirmed it, nor had his father been in a position to prejudice the claim that came to him through his mother. The King of France was desired to give up things, but the other side was unwilling to give up anything to him. Let it be remembered how much the Emperor had been willing to agree to by the Treaty of Crépy, concluded with the present King's father, although the Emperor had had no particular reason to value his friendship so highly. It had always been a grievance with the present King that the Emperor should value his friendship so little, and the Englishmen had better tell us that something ought to be done to prove that the Emperor had some regard for their King.
We answered that if there were to be an argument about rights to Milan, your Majesty's right was perfectly clear. If the Frenchmen wanted to make a distinction between the claim put forward by the late King and that of the late Queen, we would maintain that it was one and the same thing: if King Francis had any right, the late Queen can have had none, for the King was a male and he and the Queen were the same degree removed from the ancestor from whom the claim was derived, (fn. 1) and no woman could have any right in this connexion as the fief was in the masculine line. Therefore both these claims were null and void. Besides, the late King had renounced, by the Treaties of Madrid, Cambrai and Crépy, any rights he might have possessed. Whether the Treaty of Crépy had been ratified or not was a matter on which we did not wish to express any opinion, although we believed it had not been ratified; and in any case that question did not affect his father's renouncement. The King ought to remember that he had a debt of affection and courtesy towards your Majesty for the way you had behaved towards him after the Treaty had been passed, on which occasion you sent me, the Bishop of Arras, to inform him of its contents and to assure him of your Majesty's regard, specially because of the affection that the King had always shown towards the Most Christian Queen, his mother-in-law. (fn. 2) What your Majesty had done for the Duke of Orleans had been particularly intended to help the present King, so that the Duke might be sufficiently provided for and not be a burden on his brother. At the time, the King had shown appreciation of this. An investiture had been made in favour of your Majesty where Hagenau was concerned in the year 1505, when the Catholic King, your Majesty's father, in his capacity as your father and guardian, received it from the Emperor Maximilian with the express consent of the late King Louis XI (fn. 3) and in presence of the Legate Cardinal of Amboise, the Bishop of Paris and other envoys of King Louis, with the agreement of the Elector of Trier, the Bishop of Strasburg, the Dukes of Bavaria, Brunswick and Wurttemberg and several others, all of which conferred an absolute right upon your Majesty. All subsequent acts concerning Hagenau had been conditional, and the conditions had never been fulfilled, wherefore these acts could in no way prejudice your Majesty's right without your consent. Moreover, there were numberless reasons that would have caused the late King to lose his right, had he possessed any, which he did not. He took no investiture; he had committed felony by taking arms against his feudal lord; he had renounced his rights at Madrid and Cambrai; and there were many other reasons that might be mentioned.
At this point, the Chancellor interrupted us, saying that it was not necessary to argue points of law, for as he had already observed the Englishmen were not judges. He had done his best to rebut the arguments of the French, and had done so in the same terms that we had used. As for the derogatory clause, he had said that as things had turned out differently and as the King of England now had the investiture of Milan, he had no doubt that the necessary clauses had been inserted. As the French made much of the derogatory clauses in their instrument, the same argument might be turned against them. In any case, it was time to come to the point and to start negotiating, making some practical proposal. Princes stand by their reputation, and more willingly risk losing their possessions than allow their reputation to suffer. Neither of the two sovereigns would be willing to confess that he had been in the wrong, wherefore it would be necessary to find some other way of making them friends again. The Englishmen would have to make some proposal of a nature to help on the negotiation. We replied that what the Chancellor had said to the French about the derogatory clause was much to the point. If the French had a care for their reputation, we must have still greater care for your Majesty's. If they desired to know what we were prepared to do to gain their friendship, we had still greater reason to insist on knowing from them what their king would do to win your Majesty's friendship, which was of no less value than his. At the time of the Treaty of Crépy, things were entirely different, for the late Duke of Orleans was of an age at which your Majesty could hope that he would be a good son to him, with your Majesty's daughter, or a good nephew with his niece, and that he would requite your Majesty for what you might do for him. Their King ought not to enter into negotiation with your Majesty in such crude terms, offering nothing and making demands; on the contrary, he ought first to show what he could do to win over your Majesty.
At this, the Chancellor interrupted us again, saying that at that rate he would ask for ink and paper, and would draw the treaty at once, beginning with the offers which the French usually make: i.e. to help against the Turk, to assist in religious affairs and such good works, and so saying he laughed as if to imply that he believed nothing of this, for the French would not observe it. Then he told us that it was high time to come to grips, and that so far he had not wished to put forward the proposal he had mentioned to us the other day, concerning a marriage between the Infante Don Carlos and the daughter of France, because he had first desired to get all he could out of the French and to induce us to discuss with him not as a mediator but one who had the same interests at heart, in order to see whether, if he did make this proposal we would accept it. He and the Legate also asserted that they would not put anything forward without our approval, so as to avoid doing anything that might damage our case.
We then told them, speaking in the same confidential tone, how we thought it would be opportune to proceed in. case they did make their proposal: i.e. that first of all they should repeat to the French what we had said, in order to prove that the French had no right to Milan or claim of any sort, and also what we had remarked about the question of gaining friendship and insisting on knowing what your Majesty was prepared to do. We desired the Englishmen to harp on this point still further, in order to see whether they could get the French to say something. If they failed, they might as if of their own accord, mediators that they were, mention the possibility of a marriage. There would not have to be any dowery, provided that the French dropped their claim, which they had no right to advance, whilst your Majesty would be giving your right, which was undoubted, and effective possession. If the Frenchmen were not satisfied with this, the Englishmen might talk about assigning to the French Princess a dowery on the State of Milan. But a necessary condition must be that once the Milan matter had been settled everything else would be disposed of, and especially the giving up of places that had been occupied and the Duke of Savoy's territories. As for the marriage, we thought that in the interests of peace your Majesty would not reject the idea, if it were put forward on suitable terms. But as for the question of no dowery, or of assigning a dowery on the State of Milan, your Majesty had given us no guidance. We would consult you on the subject, according to what answer the French might make. As the Legate and his colleagues approved, we took leave to return to our tent, so that the Englishmen might speak to the French.
After the two delegations had spent a long time together, the Chancellor, the Earl of Arundel and Paget came to us in our tent to give us a brief summary of what had happened in their talk with the French, saying that they had followed exactly the lines that we had laid down for them. They had dwelt at length on our argument, hoping that the French would make some proposal of their own. When the French would do nothing but repeat that they had no more to say except that the only way would appear to be for the English to make some proposal, they had pretended to consult the Legate, and they then explained they saw clearly that some new suggestion must be made if there was to be any hope of peace, while respecting the honour of both sides. They had given much thought to the matter, and had been able to think of nothing that would be more appropriate than a matrimonial alliance. But as your Majesty had no daughter available, and as in this respect the precedent of the Treaty of Crépy could not be followed, it seemed to them that the son of the King of England was of an age that would make him a suitable husband for the daughter of France. Thus the quarrel about Milan might be settled, and it would of course be understood, that as the French themselves had said at the beginning, once there was agreement on Milan, all other points at issue would be settled without difficulty. They thought it might be suggested that no dowery would be required from the French. They might well give up their claim to Milan, as your Majesty was willing to part with its actual possession and his own evident right. The Englishmen did not think that the French would be losing much thereby, but rather that it would be rendering them a service to rid them of a claim which had cost them a great deal of money. At this, the Cardinal and the Constable had exchanged a smile. After that, the Frenchmen had asked to be allowed to consult together, and had withdrawn into a corner where they remained for some time. When they joined the English delegation once more, they asked whether we had made this proposal. They were told that we had not done so, and that the English had produced it of their own accord. They then remarked that it was not the custom in France to give such a great dowery to their princesses, and that it would be a better idea to ask your Majesty to give Milan to the Duke of Orleans, on condition that he married one of your nieces. The English then said that they must reject this suggestion absolutely, for your Majesty would never agree to it, especially as Milan was no longer in your hands, as it had been in the time of the Treaty of Crépy, but now belonged to the King of England. Therefore, the French had better think again about what the English had proposed. At that, the French stepped aside once more to consult among themselves. When they came back, their countenances were changed. They said they were amazed that the English should make such a suggestion. These remarks and the looks that accompanied them were such that the English conjectured that the French wanted to break off the negotiation. However, the Frenchmen soon mellowed a little and said that as the English delegation had made this proposal to them, they would like to have it made to us also, so that they might know how it struck us. They would gladly return on the following Tuesday, if we were also disposed to do so.
When we had heard these remarks, we said we would like to discuss together. Having done so, we thought it was first necessary to make clear to the French that we would not consider their proposal concerning the Duke of Orleans, so we asked the Englishmen to say so very plainly, adding that there was no solid foundation to the idea. As they themselves had said, things were now altogether different from what they were at the time of the last Treaty of Crépy. The King of England was now in possession of Milan, and however dear cousins may be, it is not usual to do as much for them as for nieces and daughters. Also, the present Duke of Orleans could hardly be considered in this connexion. As for the French request that we should come back on Tuesday, we would be willing to do so in order to learn what the French thought about the English suggestion. Their reply would guide us as to the instructions we would have to request from your Majesty and King Philip, to whom both Milan and the young prince (Carlos) belonged, for as we had already said, your Majesty had not given us any guidance on this matter.
This did not at all satisfy the Englishmen, who said they feared that with this reply of ours the French would not be willing to return at all, and anyway that it was too late, nearly 8 o'clock. There was time enough to break off, but not to set the negotiation going. The French were in the hall with the Legate waiting for us, only desiring to wish us good evening, and it would be best to go there without attempting anything more for today. We only agreed to do this when they insisted very much and even so we stipulated that the next morning, on arrival, they would first of all tell the French how we had replied, and that we had been altogether unwilling to listen to their proposal about the Duke of Orleans, and had only agreed to come back in order to learn what the French would say to the English proposal. They assured us that they would do as we asked. We have now written a private note to Lord Paget so that he may remember, and make sure that it is done before we reach the meeting place tomorrow.
Signed: The Duke of Medinaceli, the Bishop of Arras, de Lalaing, P. de Lalaing, Viglius de Zwichem.
Vienna, F.31.
201. Philip to the Princess Dowager of Portugal, Regent of Spain (Extracts)
Hampton Court, 29 May We have your letters of 26 January, 22 March and 13 April, together with copies of the proceedings of the Council of War which you spoke of forwarding to us. I felt a reasonable regret at the death of my Lady the Queen (i.e. Philip's grandmother, Jane) although I was very happy to learn by the copies of the letters of Padre Francisco, Fray Domingo de Soto and the Marquess of Denia that her Highness ended her life showing that she was a good Christian; therefore I trust that our Lord will have taken her to His glory. You acted very wisely in sending such good persons to attend her on her death-bed, to console her and exhort her to make a good end. It is also well, for the reasons you mention, that her body should have been laid in the church of Santa Clara at Tordesillas, and that the Constable and the President should have been present at her funeral. I have sent Don Diego de Acevedo to pay a visit of condolence to his Majesty, to the Queen of France and the Queen Dowager of Hungary, my aunts; and I am sending Luis Vanegas to the King of the Romans. I am writing in my own hand to the Queen of Portugal and am sending instructions to Luis Sarmiento . . . . . . (a paragraph about negotiations to borrow 600,000 ducats for the Duke of Alva).
The Peace deputies had already met, as we heard on the 23 rd inst., and were having a meeting that day, although they were only to pay formal calls without entering into negotiations. We will make sure that you are informed of what happens. His Majesty is well, thanks be to God, and so am I, and also the Queen.
P.S. I have had news today that the peace-commissioners began their negotiations on Friday and continued on Sunday. Each side was talking with the English delegation, the other side not being present. The French began by demanding Milan, which was refused, our side asking for the Duchy of Burgundy. The mediators then put forward the idea of a marriage between the Infante and the King of France's daughter, without dowery, Milan to go to the issue of this marriage. That was as far as they had got on the 27 inst. . . . . . .
202. The Peace Commissioners to the Emperor
Gravelines, 30 May We met together the day before yesterday at Marcq, as usual, and arrived at the meeting place a little late in order to leave time for the reply to be made to us by the Cardinal of Lorraine and the Constable about a packet belonging to the King which had been taken by some freebooting soldiers and opened. We had sent M. de Varlizel ahead, as your Majesty may have heard from the King, to whom a written report was sent. We received our reply half way between here and Marcq, as your Majesty may see by the enclosed copy. We then hurried on to the meeting place. It was a good thing that the French were there first, for the English were to speak to them before coming to us, as had been agreed between them and ourselves at our last meeting, and we had written privately to Lord Paget not to forget to see to it that the Chancellor should begin by saying that he absolutely rejected the French proposal concerning the Duke of Orleans, and should reply in the terms your Majesty will already have heard.
Shortly after our arrival we were led by the English to the Legate's tent, where first of all we were told what the Englishmen had done in order to induce the French to take in good part what had happened about their packet, explaining that we had offered to do all we could in order to regain possession of it and to return it to them. Perhaps the French had already heard what had happened; in any case they displayed satisfaction with what we had done, saying that they hoped the guilty persons would be punished in an exemplary manner, and that such wretches ought not to be allowed to be a hindrance to the good work to which we had set our hands. Paget remarked by the way that if a truce had been called on this frontier, such unfortunate incidents would not occur, but that he did not wish to insist, as we had not yet heard your Majesty's pleasure.
After we had dealt with this question of the packet, and excused our delay on the ground that we first wanted to hear how the Frenchmen took it and whether they would be willing to consider the matter of a safe-conduct in spite of what had occurred, the Englishmen told us that they had spoken to the French because they had arrived first and also because it had been agreed that they should do so, at our last meeting. But they feared that the upshot would be a complete breakdown of the negotiations. In spite of all the arguments they had used, the French stuck to it that, although the proposed alliance was a good one, they did not wish it to cost them such a high price as the Duchy of Milan. It was very well that the Legate should have made the suggestion, but as for taking the French princess without a dowery, and providing her with a dowery in Milan, they saw that we were unwilling to say anything until we had seen what line they took. The conclusion was that the French were determined to keep everything they had occupied unless Milan was given back to them. They then complained of the manner in which the mediators were managing the conference, which had given rise to much delay without the two delegations being brought together. The Englishmen thought it would be preferable, now that all the arguments and grievances had been stated by both sides, and given that they themselves were determined to observe a moderate attitude and were sure we would do the same, to hold a joint session in the large meeting-hall, the Legate and the English delegates being present as mediators, in order to see whether some means might not be discovered for making peace. The Englishmen desired to know what we thought of this suggestion.
We replied that we were not eluding a meeting with the French, if it appeared necessary. We would be able to justify ourselves where responsibility for beginning the war was concerned, and to place the blame squarely on their shoulders, where it belonged, and also to prove our rights. However, we must repeat that we did not wish to enter into discussions on points that had been settled by previous treaties. If the French stuck to it that they would give nothing back unless they obtained Milan, they would be putting an end to any possibility of negotiating at a meeting which they themselves had wanted to hold with us. It seemed to us that the most opportune thing would be for the Englishmen to try once more to get the Frenchmen to reply about the suggestion that the English had made. So far, the French had answered coldly where the marriage was concerned, and instead of saying what they thought of the conditions that had been suggested, had immediately tried to put forward others, with the upshot that for them it must be Milan or nothing. We had never dreamt that the French would ask for Milan, for up to the present they had not mentioned such a thing. Moreover, your Majesty had disposed of that duchy, and had certainly given us no instructions where it was concerned. But if the Englishmen wished us to raise the matter of our own accord. . . . at this the Chancellor interrupted us, saying that he did not desire to make any suggestion unless he was quite sure that it would be agreeable to us, and that he still did not know what we thought of it. At that, we told him plainly that we considered the idea a reasonable one and hoped that if we consulted your Majesty about it, you would give your assent, considering how much you had always been willing to do in the cause of peace.
The Englishmen considered our reply satisfactory, although they feared the French would not be of their opinion. However, they decided at once to go to them about it. After speaking with the French at length, they came back to tell us that they were sure the negotiation would fail. The French had flatly refused to discuss anything unless they were promised Milan. It was true that they still said that they wanted to have a meeting with us. We then went into a corner to consult together. We remembered what your Majesty had said to us about making every effort not to break off as long as there seemed to be any chance of success. Therefore we answered the Englishmen that although we saw little likelihood of reaching the desired goal, we wished to neglect nothing that might help us on towards peace and were willing to meet the French that same day, although it was already late, or another day. The English reported this to the French, in agreement with whom they came back to tell us that the following day, that is yesterday, would be the best, and that for the moment we should do nothing but wish each other good evening in the great meeting room. We agreed. At the same time we made up our mind that if the French, as the Englishmen expected, made no other suggestion and wished to withdraw, given that we could not hold them back, we would protest in the presence of the mediators that it was not our fault if it had proved impossible to enter into peace negotiations, as was clearly shown by the reply that we had made to the English suggestion. Even if the French did go away, your Majesty would always be willing to lend an ear to peace proposals provided some practicable means were put forward. This was not an occasion on which such proposals had been made, so we would merely wish them good evening and tell them that we regretted what had happened to their packet and explain what we had done to make amends. The French showed appreciation of these words, although their faces were somewhat sombre.
Yesterday, we went back to the meeting place, and arrived there early, before the stroke of one. The Legate and his English colleagues, the French and we ourselves took our places at the table. The Chancellor, having been instructed to do so by the Legate, rehearsed what the English delegation attempted to do, not only to bring the meeting together, but also to avoid any bitterness arising between the parties, behaving like true mediators, besides which they had put forward such means as they had thought appropriate to start negotiations. They had repeated faithfully to each party what the other party had said, endeavouring to avoid anything that might cause resentment. But as both sides had spoken in very absolute terms, they did not see what more they could do, unless the parties themselves would help. Therefore, they had thought that if we met together, a direct exchange might reveal some possible opening. So might we listen to what the other side had to say, in the hope that something might be discovered.
We had not much to say on this point, except to thank the Legate and the English delegation for the trouble they had taken. We did not wish to enter into argument about rights and justifications, as that had been thoroughly gone into already. As neither party had been able to find a way, and as the English had made a proposal, we had answered, and if the French had anything to say we should be glad to hear them. Your Majesty was animated by a sincere desire for peace, and we like good ministers wished to do our utmost.
The French began their remarks in the same strain, expressing their thanks at great length and then proceeding to state their rights and justifications, as we had done. They said that they considered a marriage a very laudable solution, and a very reasonable way of reconciling the princes, but they were astonished that their suggestion about the Duke of Orleans had been rejected so drily. If we had any proposal to make instead, they would gladly listen to it, and they claimed that it was our place to do so, for such was the custom of those who were asking for a bride. They had understood that we were unwilling to reopen discussion on points which we asserted had been settled by former treaties, but wished to talk about places that had been occupied and not given back. But as for Milan, they wished to hear from us whether their King had renounced his right to it by any treaty.
We replied that we were sure they had read the treaties, and had observed the renouncements contained therein. They could not fail to remember that all claim to Milan had been expressly renounced by the treaties of Madrid and Cambrai, which in their turn had been expressly confirmed by that of Crépy. As they knew, we had rebutted their claim to Milan, after which it had been observed that some other means must be devised to make it up between the two princes, and they had said that they wished to know what your Majesty was willing to do in order to buy the friendship of the King of France. Our reply had been that we knew very well how valuable their King's friendship would be for your Majesty: your Majesty greatly prised it, and had done all in your power, first not to lose it and then to regain it. We believed that the French ought to value no less your Majesty's friendship, and would like to know what they would be willing to do for it. Failing all other means, the idea of a matrimonial alliance had been put forward, and we had answered that we found it excellent; we had no objection to make on our side, and would be glad to consult your Majesty on the subject. It had never occurred to us that they would revive their claim to Milan, for they had not mentioned it up to the present, as there had been renouncements, and your Majesty had therefore given us no instructions on the matter. The French were wrong in holding that we ought to make proposals because we were asking for a bride, for we had not suggested a marriage, but merely answered what the mediators had put forward. We had approved of the English suggestion, but the French, instead of giving a plain answer about the proposal, had put forward other conditions which we had been unable to regard as suitable. By so doing the French had avoided giving any answer on what the English had proposed.
The French made answer that the mediators cannot have understood them well if they thought they had said that your Majesty must buy the French King's friendship. If your Majesty valued their friendship, as they readily believed, their King esteemed your Majesty's not a whit less, and would be willing to do much for the sake of it and to requite it, provided he found appropriate means for so doing. They did not wish to dwell on the question of who was asking for a bride; all they wanted was that if this marriage could be arranged we might discover some acceptable ground on which to conclude it. They would be very happy to see this marriage an accomplished fact, and also would hope that some such alliance might later be concluded for the child who is to be born to the Queen of England, and indeed they desired every means that could contribute to a friendship between the two sides. As for Milan, we were not right in considering that their claim had been renounced by the treaties, and this for two reasons: first because although the late King was able to give up his own right, and they would not deny that he had done so, he had not been able to forgo a right that did not belong to him, as was the case with that which the present King had inherited from his mother; and second because the Treaty of Crépy, which we said had confirmed those of Madrid and Cambrai, expressly specified that it was to apply in the absence of other provisions that might be agreed to. Now this same Treaty of Crépy itself had contained other provisions, as we very well knew. Even if the treaties of Madrid and Cambrai did contain renouncements, and independently of the question whether they affected the rights of the present King, the new provision contained in the Treaty of Crépy made it impossible for us to base our arguments on those renouncements.
We insisted no further on the question of buying friendships or asking for a bride, on which they had spoken so courteously to us, as we thought we had already said enough, but we did reply about Milan. We said that we believed the present King to be a gentle prince who, having succeeded his father, would not wish to repudiate any agreements entered into by him, from whatever source he might derive his own claim. We had already pointed out to the mediators that no claim could be derived from the present King's mother, because his father, King Francis, was a descendent of the Lady Valentina in the same degree as Queen Claude, and as he was a male his own right shut out, under feudal law, that of Queen Claude, his wife and mother of the present King, as it did the claims that might be put forward by any other females in the same or inferior degrees of kinship. As we had already said, the fief was masculine. Moreover, there were duties that had not been fulfilled, felonies that had been committed and several other factors which militated against any claim they might wish to put forward. The new provision in the Treaty of Crépy was merely that your Majesty had wished to act in a liberal and paternal way by marrying the Duke of Orleans to your niece, but that it would not be found that the Treaty of Crépy in any way affected the renouncements made in the treaties of Madrid and Cambrai. There had been no need for anything of the sort, because your Majesty had given that which you gave by the Treaty of Crépy out of pure liberality, and not on account of any claim put forward by the King of France. As things stood now, we were debarred from using the same liberality, which had lapsed because God had been pleased to call the Duke of Orleans, and your Majesty had long since disposed of Milan and given the investiture to King (Philip). When our King had married the Queen of England, you had put him in possession of Milan, wherefore your Majesty no longer had anything to do with it.
At this, the Constable showed by the changed expression on his face that he was highly displeased, and it was quite clear that he could not stomach the idea that Milan had been definitively given to the King, our Prince. The French then observed that they had never heard that our King stood in the same degree as Queen Claude with regard to Milan, and as the renouncement had ceased as a result of the Treaty of Crépy, to discuss that point again now would be to enter into a law-suit on a matter which there was no judge to decide. Besides, it was necessary to find some means.
We replied that as we had several times repeated, if they were able to suggest some means, your Majesty would not refuse to discuss them. There was really no reason why they should insist so much on obtaining Milan. We had better cause to ask for the Duchy of Burgundy, which your Majesty could not be shown ever to have renounced. On the contrary, in the latest treaty, you had expressly reserved your claim to it. They stuck to the contrary, asserting that we would never be able to prove that we had any right to the Duchy of Burgundy. We answered that it had been the inheritance of the Lady Mary, of happy memory, and that they knew very well how unjustly she had been despoiled of it, and the oft-repeated arguments in support of our claim. However, as they had justly observed, points of law arising between these two great princes might be argued as long as one liked, but there were no judges to decide the issue. The Constable then interrupted us with some asperity, saying: “Give us back Milan, and we will give you back Burgundy.” We replied that we were sure, that although they had no right to Milan, your Majesty would allow yourself to be persuated to consent for the sake of peace. But the Chancellor changed the subject, saying that if we wanted peace, they also desired it, and that if no one wanted to give back anything, so be it, but that the marriage ought still to take place in order to achieve peace, and that they would provide the daughter of France with a suitable dowery and would do a great deal firmly to establish amity between your Majesties once it had come into being. If we were unwilling to consider that suggestion, it would be necessary to give them back everything that had been taken from them and to which they had a sound claim, and especially the overlordship of Flanders and Artois. We replied that there was no sort of proportion between possessions which they had renounced and others where our rights remain entire, and that it was necessary to speak of more recent affairs, i.e., the restitution of things they had occupied without having any sort or kind of right to them, such as everything they had occupied during the present war. They, on the other hand, claimed that all that belonged to them by right of conquest. Here there began something of an altercation, although both sides kept within bounds, as to who was responsible for having begun this war. The French protested that they had sent to your Majesty to seek your friendship, while we referred to the conciliatory and reasonable replies your Majesty had given to all the King of France's emissaries. They produced several grievances for wrongs that they claimed had been done them before war had broken out, and we said what we could to prove the contrary, and to show that we had been aggrieved on our side long before the war, and also by what had happened since. At this, the Legate and his English colleagues observed that a discussion on these points would be no more fruitful than it had proved to be on points of law, for neither side would ever give in, nor could the dispute be settled for lack of a judge. Therefore they requested us to drop the matter, and to discuss means for reaching a settlement. They had heard many words about both sides' desire to come to an agreement. Let us now give some tangible proof of our determination to do so.
This permitted the French and ourselves once more to testify to the desire for peace harboured by our princes and by their ministers, who well knew how necessary it was, not only for the universal good of Christendom but for the affairs of the princes themselves. Neither side went further than the other in making these remarks, but each one expressed the same anxiety for peace, in terms so warm that the mediators said that they could wish for nothing better by way of protestation, provided we could make some practical application of our desires and reach a definitive result.
We assured them that our desire really was as we had said, and that if we saw any practical means of attaining it we would not fail to put them forward. No single one of us would not be glad to give his life in such a good cause, but the fact that we had met with an absolute refusal to give up what the other side had occupied, unless we surrendered Milan, cut off the way. But as the Constable was a prudent man of vast experience, and had been present at almost all the negotiations that had taken place within our memory on the differences that separated these great princes, we would request him to make some proposal which might give a reasonable degree of satisfaction to both sides, while giving due weight to the desirability of making a peace with which, once it had been made, both parties might be satisfied. We felt sure that he must have thought this matter over for a long time, as it was of such great importance. If he wanted more time for reflection, we would grant it to him, so that he might devise a proposal that seemed to him adequate, protesting that we were not saying this in order to gain some advantage, but rather to leave him the honour of bringing about so great a boon, if it could be achieved thanks to him.
By way of reply, the Constable made a very fine and courteous speech, dwelling on the happiness it would be to him to achieve so great a good, recalling the meetings of this same sort which he had attended in the past, his esteem for your Majesty and his own King, and saying that the confidence your Majesty had been pleased to show him in the past and the regard in which you had held him, bound him to be your slave and to desire, once peace had been made, to serve you even more than he had in the past. And he knew that in your Majesty he had to do with a prince who knows what is what. At this the Cardinal cast a glance at the Constable, who reddened a little and added “after my own master”. Then he went on to say that the peace must be an equitable one and that what we had said astonished him, especially about Milan. On his honour, he could not think of anything that could suffice to dissipate the resentment felt by the two princes. It was to be feared that the party who considered himself the loser by this peace might accept it for the moment because the state of his affairs counselled him to do so, but rancour would remain, with ill results for the future.
When the Constable had finished his speech, we remained staring at one another. The Legate then began by saying that he did not know how the matter could be led to a conclusion unless some judge could be found, since each side thought it was in the right and wished to keep everything it had in its possession. Turning to the Cardinal of Lorraine, he remarked that he was two persons in one; as a minister of the King of France he must desire peace, and as a cardinal and leading member of the Holy Apostolic See he was in duty bound to do even more in the good cause, and act as a mediator, making some proposal which might contribute to pacification.
The Cardinal of Lorraine then glanced at the Constable and his other colleagues and said he thought it would be well for them to withdraw for a moment before proceeding further. They did so, and after having stood for a time in a corner returned to their places. The Cardinal of Lorraine then spoke as follows:
It was true that God had conferred upon him this grace: that he was two persons in one on this occasion. However, he could not very well divide himself into two. He was a minister of the Most Christian King, and had therefore been unwilling to say anything before speaking aside with the Constable and the other gentlemen who had come on the King's behalf. Now that he had spoken to them he was in a position to say that he thought the Legate's suggestion not an inopportune one: that is to say that judges should be found to decide the dispute. They would be prepared to consider this suggestion, provided that we were willing to do the same on your Majesty's behalf, and he firmly believed that the King would agree to this course in order to obtain recognition of his right and of the fact that justice was on his side.
When we had heard these remarks relative to the Legate's proposals, which were not exactly what we had looked for from him, we thought it was necessary for us to consult together, which we did. It occured to us that the Legate might have been put up to make this proposal by someone of the other side who had succeeded in persuading him that it would be the best way to proceed, as we believe him to be in good faith. We thought the French might indeed have taken him in, with the idea that this would be a good way to achieve a truce which would allow them to remain in possession of what they are occupying until the entire dispute is settled, which would be a very long business and would give the French time to fortify themselves in their present position, in the hope of doing even worse afterwards, when they had gathered new strength. We remembered that your Majesty had told us that you did not desire a truce unless everything that is now occupied is first given up. However, we also reflected that if we were flatly to turn down the proposal, which is the usual legal procedure between princes who recognise no worldly superior but are willing to submit to arbitration and to the Pope's right to compel any party that refuses to comply with the sentence to do so, by means of ecclesiastical censure, the result would be to give the mediators an opportunity of complaining throughout Christendom that your Majesty had no confidence in your own cause, as you were unwilling to submit it to arbitration. Therefore, when we had returned to our places we answered the French as follows:
We had hoped that the Constable would make a reply to the request that had been addressed to him to suggest some means for bringing this war to a speedy end. Now, the Cardinal of Lorraine, and also the Legate, had made a proposal which made us fear, judging by what had happened in the past, that there would be long delays before agreement had been reached on the persons who were to act as arbitrators, such having been the case at Crèvecoeur and on other occasions. The difficulty of finding suitable arbitrators would be all the greater that some of those who might be approached would very likely be unwilling to act in matters of such importance. Even if they did accept this mission, the course of justice was always slow. Nevertheless, we believed that your Majesty regarded his rights as so clear that, provided agreement could be reached on the judges and there was reasonable hope of a speedy solution, you would have no objection to submitting your cause to them. But it was a matter of daily experience that even petty cases in law took a long time. All the more was it likely that issues of such great importance as the present ones between two princes would be of slow solution. It would be necessary, first of all, to reach an agreement on the points to be submitted to arbitration.
So far, we saw nothing but the questions of the Duchy of Burgundy and Milan. It would not be reasonable that while arbitration proceedings were taking their course on these two issues, those who had been despoiled should remain deprived of their possessions, for in law the victim of spoliation ought first to be reinstated. We therefore supposed that the French would make no difficulty about giving back to us what they had occupied during this war, both Empire territory and that belonging to the Duke of Savoy, as well as possessions of the House of Mantua, what they had seized in Corsica and the rest. A difference must be made between things about which there is some obscurity, like Milan and the Duchy of Burgundy, and others which are perfectly clear and which in the interest of peace ought to be restored at once.
The French were unwilling to reply to this until they had consulted together. When they had done so they told us they were certain that if there were arbitration we would obtain none of the things they were claiming, and would also fail on the points that they would put up, in which, however, they would be entirely reasonable. But they could not contemplate giving back at a stroke of the pen that which they had fairly conquered by arms, unless they first obtained satisfaction as to that which was being withheld from them. When the Treaty of Crépy provided for the return of the Duke of Savoy's territories to him, it was subject to Milan being given back to them. The Empire territory they were occupying still belonged to the Empire, and was under the same form of Government as previously. Those places continued to be members of the Empire although being in the hands of the French. Corsica was legitimately theirs, because Genoa belonged to them. They were occupying nothing that belonged to the House of Mantua except Casale, where they had found troops of your Majesty, in place of which they had put their own. The inhabitants had not complained of this, but were their friends.
We rejoined that our old quarrels constituted no reason why they should go on occupying places that clearly did not belong to them, such as those they had seized during this war. The manner in which the restitution of Savoy provided for in the Treaty of Crépy gave them no right to Piedmont or the Duchy of Savoy, and we asked them to observe the wording of the treaty where it was a question of Savoy: “They will give back what they have occupied,” which word “occupation” has the sense of spoliation. Hence the necessity to give back. That which they were holding in the Empire ought normally to obey your Majesty and the Empire, and the King of France had no right or pretext whatever to interfere there. They could derive no right to Corsica from their old claim to Genoa, because Genoa was a Republic. Besides, at that rate we would be falling back into questions which had been settled by previous treaties and the renouncements contained in them. As for Casale and other places belonging to the House of Mantua which they had seized, we had had troops there with the consent of the House of Mantua. The Constable took up this question of Mantua, dropping the rest, and said that he did not know what consent we referred to, but he did know that our troops had authority there and the local people none at all. We replied that if the French would recollect what had happened, they would recall that Casale was being governed by officers appointed by the House of Mantua. It was true that in order to assist them, we had sent troops to that town, but the authority of the commander of the fortress was such that he had flatly refused to take in our German troops, although Figueroa had asked him to do so, until he had received express orders to do so by his masters. It was only then that the Germans entered. Thus it was clear whether the French had been welcomed there, since our troops were there for Mantua's defence. The Constable retorted that he knew very well what had occurred. He was quite certain that the people of Mantua, as neutrals, had been very glad when the French arrived, and had remained their friends. Indeed the French had the Duke's own brother with them. When we countered by saying that Mantua wished to be given back to us and had sent an emissary to press their suit, the Constable changed the subject, saying that that did not mean anything, and that we were now back again arguing about what each side claimed belonged to it. He requested us once more not to raise so many issues, in order to avoid breaking up this meeting which had given the world so much hope that it would succeed, failing which he feared that we would all go home as we had come.
After having kept silent for a long time, as there seemed to be no means of proceeding, we remembered what your Majesty was pleased to tell us to do in order to keep the negotiation going, and proposed to the mediators, as they had summoned us and had done such good work so far, that they should once again think things over and search for some means. Each side had said in the presence of the other that which it could say, so only the Englishmen were in a position to make proposals. The French made the same request. The English delegation agreed. Their idea was to call another meeting on Saturday morning to hear what they had been able to excogitate. We assented. If we can agree to what they propose, so much the better, and if not we will protest that we have done our best. At that, we rose and all returned to our several quarters.
We greatly fear, Sire, unless your Majesty is pleased to send us some further instructions when you have taken cognisance of our reports on these negotiations, that the whole thing will go up in smoke, and that unless something can be devised to give an appearance of satisfaction to the French about Milan, the war will go on. Your Majesty knows better than anyone the condition of your affairs on all sides. We think that, over and above Milan, the French will demand compensation for Therouanne, and will lay claim to Hesdin, taking their stand on the last treaty by which they were to have had the Charolais in compensation for it. We humbly beg you to signify your pleasure to us as soon as possible, in order that we may be guided by it. Particularly, we desire instructions as to that proposal to submit to arbitration, and what we are to do if they again talk about a truce on this frontier. Also we wish to know what line to take if the French show that they mean to depart without making any further proposal, since we cannot keep them here against their will. What are we to do to prevent such a break as might not admit of resumption of negotiations? May we offer, in case any appropriate proposal is made, the prospect that your Majesty will send back your commissioners, and say that when we had heard your instructions we would do our outmost to carry them out? Subject to correction, we think that if your Majesty is able to consider some practicable means, it would be preferable to do so at once, for a more promising occasion than the present one with a view to a settlement can hardly be found. If this present meeting breaks up, we do not know whether the King of France will be willing to send back commissioners as important as those who are here now, and who have as much influence with him as the Constable possesses. We must warn your Majesty that not only has the Constable said that he cannot remain here long, but that Paget has news to the same effect, and has informed us that unless a conclusion is reached shortly the French delegation will soon depart.
Draft. French.
Vienna, F.31.
203. Jehan van den Becke to Jehan Carette, President of the Emperor's Chamber of Accounts at Lille.
Brussels, 30 May I have been on the point of setting out to return from one day to the next, but now that I see that I cannot start before this next holiday I am writing to give you my news, and to tell you that the Emperor is very well, God be thanked!
News from Rome are that the Cardinal of Naples will be elected Pope, or else Morone, who is a Milanese. The Cardinals were to have gone into Conclave on 16 May, and it is believed that by the end of this month they will have finished, because it is very hot in Rome, and especially so in the Conclave where there is no light except for candles.
Siena is being surrendered on terms which I will show you when I get back, but Montalcino, Portoferraio and another fort are still occupied by the French.
The Duke of Alva left this place ten or twelve days ago, and Gian Battista Castaldo with him, very much pleased.
Don Fernando Gonzaga had also left, satisfied but without a governorship. The Marshal is going to remain in command of our camp of Givet, towards Mézières, between Namur, Liége and Hainaut, on the Meuse.
News of the deliverance of the Queen of England are being expected from day to day.
The peace commissioners met on Ascension day and have held several sessions. The English delegation: the Legate, the Earl of Arundel, the Chancellor and Lord Paget are doing their best to attain an agreement. God knows what will come of it.
It is said that M. d'Egmont is going to fetch the son of the Duke of Cleves on the Emperor's behalf, his Majesty having been requested to consent to this by four ambassadors from Cleves, dressed in mourning, whose object in coming was partly to offer their condolences on the death of his Majesty's mother.
Courtenay, called the White Rose, saluted their Majesties here and has started out again on his journey. It is said that the Lady Elizabeth has also been pardoned, and has joined the Queen of England's Court.
Holograph. French.
Lille, L.M.53.


  • 1. The King of France's claim to Milan was first advanced by Louis XII, who derived it from his grand-mother, Valentina Visconti, who married the Duke of Orleans, brother to Charles VI.
  • 2. Eleonora, sister to the Emperor. She survived Francis I and was alive at the time this letter was written.
  • 3. This is a slip: unziéme should have been douziéme. Louis XI died in 1483.