Spain: November 1556

Pages 284-285

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

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November 1556

286. Eleanor, Queen Dowager of France, to Don Juan de Mendoza (Extract from a letter in which the Queen Dowager expresses her wish to have her daughter, the Infanta Maria of Portugal, come to live with her in Spain. But as the King of Portugal, her son, has raised difficulties about letting the Infanta go, the Queen has sent Don Juan de Mendoza to try to settle the matter, and in this letter instructs him how he is to meet objections)
Valladolid. November When they say that it would not be consonant with the Infanta's dignity to come and live in a country whose sovereign proposed to marry her and then married another, you will reply that she would be coming to live with her mother, in her mother's own country; so there can be no question of going to a foreign country. If they wish to argue further, it will be necessary to go into the question of who was responsible. We know that God governs us and disposes our affairs according to His will, which alone is good. Therefore we must be content, without seeking to blame men, who are the instruments through whom he works, sometimes secretly and sometimes openly. In this particular case, it was openly. He meant to show the world that what happened was the work of His hand, as may clearly be seen. For at a time when men were thinking of another match, and before it had been concluded, the King of England, then a young man in good health, suddenly died. Even when he was dead, there seemed to be little hope that the present queen would obtain the crown. No human power appeared to suffice to give it to her. On the contrary, she was in dire peril of her life, for another queen had been set up, and was recognised as such by the chief nobles of the country. But Our Lord was pleased to change the hearts of men, so that the present queen was exalted as lawful heiress, and the other overthrown. Then God turned the hearts of the English, a nation which has always detested foreign Kings, and moved them to want the King of Castile for their own King, legal opinions notwithstanding. Now, who but God would have been able to convert to the faith a kingdom which had been so far removed from it? As we see that this is God's work, we must accept it as such, and not blame men.
But if we wish to talk in human terms and examine the deeds of men, it will be seen that the Infanta, my daughter, has more cause to complain of the King, her brother, than of the King, her cousin, who in the circumstances could not act otherwise than he did, being a good King and a Christian. Thus he had to marry the Queen of England, although if he had been able to follow his own undivided will he would doubtless have preferred the Infanta to the said Queen, for he had always set the Infanta above all other princesses, many of whom would have been glad to marry him. Besides, this match would certainly have been concluded if the King of Portugal had not been so dilatory in the matter and if, instead of being moved by considerations of interest, he had listened to the love which he says he feels for his sister and consented to increase her dowry by money which after all belongs to her. His tardiness in this matter caused the match to be delayed until the Queen of England had mounted the throne and the English desired the King of Spain for their King. By that time, the King of Spain could not refuse, although the Infanta would have been more to his taste on account of her personal qualities, to listen to the appeal of England. As a good prince, he is obliged to set the advantage and security of his vassals above his own inclinations. The increase of his dominions brought about by the Kingdom of England means the greatest security for all those dominions, and as a good Christian the King could not neglect such an opportunity. In order to lead England back to the bosom of the Church, he was obliged to expose his own life. The Infanta, my daughter, would have good reason to be grateful to the King for the love and high opinion in which he has always held her, and to love him in return as her cousin, and not to allow herself to be persuaded against reason that she has been ill-treated by him, for it was rather the King, her brother, who was to blame. This is being said because it is the truth, and not at all to sow discord between brother and sister. The most honourable course would be to cease talking about the matter and accept what has been done by the hand of God, Who determines the wills of kings and men. We may be sure that He knows better than we do ourselves what is good for us.
Copy. Spanish.
Simancas, E.112.